GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A large explosion was heard late Wednesday in al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza, witnesses said. The explosion happened as an Israeli military patrol passed by the area, witnesses told Ma'an, adding that soldiers opened fire on the district. An Israeli army spokesman was not familiar with the incident and said there had been no military activity in the area.
Aqsa TV goes off the air at night for lack of power
The Aqsa satellite channel announced on Wednesday night that it would be off the air during the night hours due to the lack of power and fuel shortage in the Gaza Strip.
Gaza, (Alresalah.ps)--Committee for Ambulance and Emergency in Gaza announced Wednesday that 50% of ambulances and fire trucks stopped working as the fuel crisis in the Gaza Strip have worsened. Spokesman for the Committee Abu Adham Silmiya warned at a press conference at Al-Shifa Hospital compound of a complete standstill for ambulances a few hours later in case of more delay in defusing the fuel fix. He blamed the Israeli occupation for the deteriorating health conditions in Gaza, and appealed to the Arab and Islamic states to immediately intervene to save the humanitarian situation.
Half of Gaza's ambulances and fire trucks are out of service due to the fuel crisis, officials said Wednesday. Emergency services spokesman Adham Abu Salmiya said no ambulances will be operating if the crisis is not resolved quickly. At a news conference in Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Abu Salmiya warned of a "disastrous situation" in the event of an emergency or an Israeli attack.
Gaza bakeries to stop working in four days
The bakers society in the Gaza Strip has announced that all bakeries in the coastal enclave would come to a complete halt within four days due to lack of fuel.
Human rights group: The crisis of fuel in Gaza paralyzed civilian life
The Palestinian center for human rights said the crisis of fuel and electricity has paralyzed the daily life in the besieged Gaza Strip and made the lives of citizens much worse than before.
Israel accused of using Gaza to test its missile shield
The head of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Khaled Meshaal, has accused Israel of using the Gaza Strip as an experimental theatre of war to test its anti-missile shield and other military capabilities prior to an attack on Iran. Hamas leader Meshaal told the Turkish Anatolia news agency on Monday that, "The Zionist entity chose Gaza when it wanted to test its anti-missile shield, as it prepares for a possible war against Iran and other conflicts." He said that the Israeli occupation authorities are guilty of "state terrorism" against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Meshaal defended the resistance groups who fire rockets from Gaza into Israel: "These missiles are intended only for self-defence, and were fired after Israel had attacked us; the resistance in Gaza used its legal and moral right to defend itself."
Following last weekend's contribution to this blog from Gaza blogger Nader Elkhuzundar, I am posting a new guest post from Gaza by Ebaa Rezeq, a 21-year-old English and French literature student who blogs at gazanism.wordpress.com
and tweets at @Gazanism. In her post on the recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, Ebaa describes what it is like to live tweet the killing of 12 year old child, and details the inhumane responses from Israeli social media activists who blamed Gaza's government for not doing a better job of keeping civilians safe from Israeli missile strikes.
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The traumatized relatives of a 12-year-old boy killed by an Israeli airstrike say they are scared to leave their homes since his death. "We are scared to go out, and find a part of Ayoub's body on a tree, in the street, in the garden. Since the attack, we all sleep in the same room, with all the children because we are afraid." Ayoub Asalia was struck by an Israeli drone as he chased a puppy on his way to school in Gaza on March 11.
link to www.maannews.net
Land Theft / Destruction / Ethnic Cleansing / Restriction of Movement / Apartheid / Refugees
News from Al Khader Village
The occupation bulldozers razed vast areas of agriculture land today March 22 in Al-Khader village, south of Bethlehem. According to the coordinator of the popular committee of Stop the Wall, Ahmed Salah, the land owner Khalil Abdbul-Rahman was surprised when he entered his farm near the settlement of ‘Daniel’, which the occupation built on the land of the village. An area of about 20 acres was razed. This area was planted with olive and almond trees. Salah said that lately there is a clear escalation of attacks by the occupation forces and settlers against that area near the settlements of ‘Eliezer’ and ‘Daniel’. He cited the destruction of hundreds of olive saplings and the confiscation of agricultural equipment as well as the fact that the occupation authorities have extended prohibitions to enter their land to cultivate it to even more families. The goal of all these violations of Palestinian rights is to slowly push them to leave the area as life becomes unsustainable. This forced displacement would then give more space and land for the nearby settlements to expand on. Ahmad Salah further mentioned that as in other recent episodes of settler violence, the settler leader Nadia Matar is heading the settler attacks in the area within a campaign that started over three years ago.
link to www.stopthewall.org
Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, has warned that settlers in East Jerusalem intend to take over more houses in Palestinian neighborhoods and drive out their residents. The plans were proclaimed by their leader Aryeh King, in an interview with Hagai Segal - a past militant of the extremist 'Jewish Underground' which once intended to blow up the mosques on Temple Mount, and at present a columnist in the extreme-right paper 'Makor Rishon'. According to King, the settlers intend to take over 'very soon' four houses at Beit Hanina, and further take over two additional houses in Sheikh Jarrah "at the appropriate operational timing". Gush Shalon said: "Only a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister's bureau issued a protest against Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, who stated that Israel intends to Judaize East Jerusalem and dispossess its Palestinians residents. If the government helps Aryeh King and his settler friends implement their new design, it will have itself provided a conclusive proof for the veracity of Abbas' words, for the whole world to see."
Lawyer says Israeli outpost deal a stalling tactic
A lawyer is trying to scuttle a deal to allow settlers to remain in their unauthorized West Bank outpost for another three years, telling Israel's Supreme Court that it's a stalling tactic.
link to news.yahoo.com
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian food production is hampered by limited access to abundant natural water resources, the water authority said Tuesday. In a report to mark World Water Day, observed Wednesday, the Palestinian Water Authority and the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics warned that water shortages lowered food production.
link to www.maannews.net
Human beings are endowed with essential basic rights. These include the right to freedom, equality and prosperous natural living conditions. As such, every individual has a public duty to safeguard and improve the environment for the benefit of present and future generations.
link to www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk
IOA blocks travel of second deputy PLC speaker
The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) blocked the travel of second deputy speaker of the Palestinian legislative council (PLC) Hassan Khreisha via Karame crossing to Jordan.
Bomb Defused near Palestinian Armed Struggle Chief’s House
A bomb was found Wednesday morning near the house of the Palestinian Armed Struggle Chief Mahmoud Issa, who goes by the nom de gurerre Al-Lino, in Ain Al-Hilweh Refugee camp in the Saida city south Lebanon.
This is Israel in 2012 according to a top UN body. Using unprecedented strong language, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) criticised Israeli policies in terms of “apartheid”, as part of their published observations following a regular review. Affirming the kind of analysis that Israel’s advocates try to dismiss as lies or rhetorical excess, the Committee slammed Israel for violating the right to equality in numerous policy areas. CERD described “segregation between Jewish and non-Jewish communities”, a lack of “equal access to land and property”, and “the ongoing policy of home demolitions and forced displacement of the indigenous Bedouin communities” in the Negev. The lack of a “prohibition of racial discrimination” in Israel’s Basic Law was high
Israeli Terrorism Against Palestinians
An Israeli human rights group has concluded that the absence of accountability "encourages soldiers to kill Palestinian civilians". In its annual report published this week, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, B'Tselem, said, "From the start of the second intifada in the year 2000 until April 2011, B'Tselem submitted many requests to the military prosecutor to open investigations into the military police, which included about 304 cases where Israeli soldiers had killed Palestinians."
Israel 'turning blind eye' to West Bank settlers' attacks on Palestinians
EU reports say farmers are bearing the brunt of intimidation in systematic and expanding campaign of violence. Jewish settlers in the West Bank are conducting a systematic and expanding campaign of violence against Palestinian farmers, families and children with the Israeli authorities turning a blind eye, according to confidential reports from senior European Union officials. In two reports to Brussels from EU heads of mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah, obtained by the Guardian, the officials found that settler violence against Palestinians has more than tripled in three years to total hundreds of incidents.
20 March 2012: Suspected police assault on mother and three sons in East Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood on 30 January 2012
Monday morning, 30 January 2012, Jerusalem city inspectors under Israel Police and Border Police protection demolished a trailer in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem. Hanan Salhab, 60, hanging laundry on her rooftop, witnessed police confronting a man and woman alongside her family’s car. Hanan Salhab told B’Tselem what happened next: “I went downstairs and asked the police to be careful of the car. One came over and grabbed my neck. He dragged me behind the car and pushed me against it. He grabbed my neck again, lifted me, and shoved me repeatedly against the car and punched my chest. Then he pulled my hijab off my head.”
IOF raid Jenin city, search house of senior Islamic Jihad figure
The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) at dawn Thursday stormed Jenin city and ransacked the house of Islamic Jihad official Bassam Assa'di, a prisoner in Israeli jails.
Dameer association: The health condition of Shalabi seriously deteriorated
Addameer association for prisoner support and human rights warned that the health situation of female hunger striker Hana Shalabi has seriously deteriorated threatening her life.
Nablus marches for Hana Shalabi
On March 19th 2012, in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, ISM volunteers joined demonstrators in solidarity with Ms. Hana Shalabi, now entering her 35th day of hunger strike. Marching from outside the headquarters of the Red Cross, a group of around a hundred demonstrators marched towards Nablus city centre waving flags, signs and ‘Free Hana Shalabi’ posters. Some of the people attending were the parents of prisoners held illegally by Israel and held aloft photographs of their missing loved ones as they chanted slogans ranging from ‘Free Hana Shalabi’ to End Administrative detention’ and ‘End the occupation’.
As an Israeli military judge postponed ruling once more
on hunger striking Palestinian political prisoner Hana Shalabi's four-month administrative detention without trial or charge, and she was denied transfer to a hospital despite a severe health crisis in her 35th day of hunger strike, a Palestinian Canadian student has undertaken his own hunger strike to highlight Shalabi's struggle.
As solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers grows, the National Council for the Support of Prisoners in Israeli Prisons organised a demonstration on Monday in support of Hana Al-Shalabi, who is now on the 33rd day of her hunger strike. Miss Al-Shalabi has been joined in her protest against Israel's arbitrary administrative detention of Palestinians by the 75 year-old deputy of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Ahmed al-Haj Ali. He is now on his sixth day of a hunger strike.
On March 20, Hana's 34th hunger strike day began. The previous day, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) said she's in imminent danger of dying. After examining her, its doctor "determined that she must be hospitalized immediately." More on that below. Wrongfully arrested, abused, uncharged, and administratively detained at HaSharon Prison, she's hunger struck over a month for justice. Israel doesn't care if she lives or dies.
Hana Shalabi has been on hunger strike for over a month. Her condition has been deteriorating so badly that prison officials had to transfer her to a Haifa hospital. Shalabi is protesting being held in administrative detention. This is a quasi-legal action through which Israel incarcerates individuals without charge or proper trial. Israel inherited this undemocratic procedure from the British mandate, which enacted it as part of the 1945 emergency regulations. International humanitarian law considers this procedure illegal and Israel was asked by the international community on numerous occasions to end this practice.
Arrests / Other Administrative Detainees / Prisoners
QALQILIYA (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained seven people overnight Wednesday, Israel's army said. Three people were arrested in the Qalqiliya village of Azzun and four were detained in the Ramallah area, an army spokeswoman said. Ma'an's correspondent reported that three people were arrested in the Qalqiliya village of Jit.
Nafha prisoners go on hunger strike
Palestinian prisoners in the Israeli desert prison Nafha have gone on hunger strike on Thursday to protest the Israeli policy of banning family visits for the past six years.
IOA turns down appeal for release of 72-year-old MP
The Israeli higher court turned down an appeal by lawyer of MP Ahmed Al-Haj Ali to end his administrative detention, without trial or charge, at the pretext of having secret charges against him.
Detained Hamas leader threatens open hunger strike
Hamas leader Abbas Assayed has threatened that Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails would go on an open-ended hunger strike if isolated prisoners were not taken out of their solitary confinement.
Popular Protests / Activism / Solidarity / BDS
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Protesters on Wednesday held a rally in Gaza City against Mahmoud Abbas, accusing the president of neglecting his responsibilities to the Gaza Strip. They carried posters urging the president to resign if he could not fulfill his duties, and reminding Abbas that he presides over all Palestinian people and not just the West Bank. The rally was organized by the popular movement in Gaza to coincide with the 44th anniversary of the Battle of Karameh, when Israeli forces attacked a PLO camp in Jordan.
Two million protesters expected to participate in the Global March to Jerusalem
The organizing committee of the Global March to Jerusalem expects the participation of more than two million people in the march which will be started from the surrounding countries of Palestine.
Dear Friends, It has been nine years today since our daughter Rachel was crushed to death under an Israeli driven, U.S. funded and built, Caterpillar D9 bulldozer in Gaza. In March 2003, the news was full of talk of war with Iraq - a preemptive war to protect the west, particularly the U.S. and Israel, from the weapons of mass destruction then alleged to have been amassed by Saddam Hussein. When Rachel traveled to Gaza that year, the world was not watching. According to Human Rights Watch, from September 2000 until September 2004, 1,600 Palestinian homes in the city of Rafah were destroyed by the Israeli military as it occupied the Gaza Strip. One-tenth of the population lost their homes. Rachel chose to be in Gaza when the ground attack against Iraq broke out. She feared an escalation of the violence and a tightening of the isolation against people there, as the world looked to the northeast and watched the carnage in Iraq. It did not happen as immediately as some expected, but with the Israeli military attack on Gaza of November 2008 through January 2009, the violence became overwhelming, and the tightening of the seige initiated in 2006 by Israel to remove Hamas, made the isolation nearly complete.
Women in Black mourned Rachel Corrie and stood with Free Palestine on High Street in Columbus, Ohio at the Ohio State University campus last Friday, the anniversary of Rachel Corrie's killing in 2003.
Last week, a giant key weighing close to one ton and measuring almost 10 meters in length was sent to Berlin, Germany, to represent Palestine at the city's Biennale Festival. The key normally rests over the gate of Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, Palestine. The giant key is a symbol of Palestinian refugees' desire to return to the homes their families were forced from during the Nakba and in 1967.
On March 16, the second annual Jerusalem marathon took place in the city, with over 1000 runners from 50 countries and 15,000 Israels taking part. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, the marathon is set to become the largest international sporting event in Israel’s history. Yet for Palestinians, the reality behind this euphemism has never been more darker. Adidas has once again sponsored the event, ignoring last year’s Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) statement, which served to raise awareness about whitewashing Israel’s occupation behind its deceptive “feel good” events. Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip are forbidden from entering Jerusalem unless they have a special Israeli military-issued permit that allows them to do so. This, to put it lightly, touches a nerve among Palestinians, as they witness hundreds of foreigners with no ties to the land pass unhindered in and out of the city.
Palestinian Academics Condemn Cornell University's Collaboration with Technion
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI) of Israel has issued a statement condemning Cornell University's collaboration with Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. Cornell and Technion are building a multi-billion dollar science and technology campus together on Roosevelt Island in New York. Technion, like other Israeli academic institutions, is complicit in Israel's continuing occupation and violations of Palestinian human rights and international law. Joining US Campaign member groups US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) and Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), PACBI is urging residents of New York, US civil society, and people of conscience to mobilize against the Cornell-Technion partnership. Sign and share Cornell SJP's petition opposing Cornell's shameful collaboration with Technion and check out USACBI's resources page on the Cornell-Technion partnership!
Queen of Pop tacks on additional Tel Aviv show dubbed 'Concert for Peace' after May 29 show sold out; Madonna invites representatives from various peace groups.
Racism & Discrimination
Ugly news about the American discourse, and the role of the Israel lobby inside liberal institutions. A longtime editor at a public radio station in Baltimore has been fired in part because he questioned US pandering to Israel. David Zurawik reports in the Baltimore Sun
Israeli textbooks foster hate, says author
Vita Bekker - The National - "I was looking for reasons of why nice Jewish boys turn into monsters when they join the army," said Ms Peled-Elhanan, in an interview at her home just outside Jerusalem."They never meet Palestinians face-to-face as children, so the textbooks are all they know."
Israel threatens to deport hundreds of South Sudanese families
Four years ago, the wives of the leaders of Israel and Egypt used their clout to help an African family reunite with a child who vanished in a hail of gunfire as they stole across the Egyptian border into Israel.
Other News / Developments
MADRID (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said Thursday that Palestine will participate in an Arab League summit in Baghdad, even though many Arab leaders will not be attending. "Even if Abbas was the only Arab head of state participating, we will still go to Baghdad because Palestine can't miss any Arab Summit under any circumstances," al-Malki told Ma’an. The Arab League summit on March 27-29 will be the first held in Baghdad since Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government considers it the most important diplomatic event yet for post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.
Egypt supports international commission on Israeli crimes against Palestinians
Ambassador Hisham Badr, Egypt's permanent representative to the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, has confirmed Cairo's full support for the establishment of an international fact-finding committee to investigate the impact of Israeli settlements on Palestinian human rights. A proposal for the committee was submitted by the two Arabic and Islamic groups on the UN Human Rights Council.
Iron Dome bill presented at US Congress
Ambassador Oren's article on need to invest in 10 new batteries quickly translated into bipartisan bill. Congressman Berman: 'US will continue to stand by our strong ally'.
The decision of Israeli human rights group B’Tselem
to participate in J Street’s upcoming conference featuring former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
is “incredibly damaging” to the effort to achieve justice and accountability for victims of war crimes.
Analysis / Op-ed
Hamas’s exit from Syria is no longer a secret. The issue is now out in the open despite attempts to reaffirm that the address of the politburo has not changed. Certainly, its offices are still in Damascus but its members have long gone. They left as the crisis reached its peak, based on a disagreement about the situation with the Syrian leadership and other allies in the “axis of resistance.” Hamas is both in Syria and not in Syria – the party was forced into this predicament because it tried to formulate a position on the events there. Damascus is no longer the location of Hamas’ external leadership, which is currently distributed among several Arab capitals, including Cairo, Doha, Beirut, and Amman.
Gaza – Four days into the latest Israeli assault on Gaza, Islamic Jihad remarkably stuck to the ceasefire. They had previously decided to face the aggression alone after Hamas decided not to mobilize its fighters. The conclusive and quick decision to abide by the ceasefire agreement is in contrast to Islamic Jihad’s earlier unyielding posture. Previously, it would have taken a longer amount of time to convince their fighters to abide by any type of truce. According to observers, the latest decision, mediated by Egypt, is the result of unprecedented “coordination” with Hamas.
The popular bases of Hamas and Hezbollah appear increasingly at odds over the Syrian crisis, but officials in both parties say their alliance is too strong to be undermined by their disagreement.
An Israeli intelligence agent said that contrary to common belief, Israel's renowned secret service, Mossad, was "not assassinating people that easy." He would add that Mossad embraced false accounts of its successes because they bolstered its reputation as "an assassins organization that terrorists should be afraid of." These statements came in an email exchange between David Dafinoiu, president of NorAm Intelligence, and Fred Burton, Stratfor’s VP of counter-intelligence, which were part of the Global Intelligence Files released by WikiLeaks.
I missed this crazy argument out of Israel, but Paul Pillar has pointed it out in a great op-ed at the National Interest-- a piece from two Israelis at the Bar-Ilan University calling for a largescale attack on Gaza to "mow the lawn" again before the end of the U.S. presidential campaign forecloses the possibility.
Bahraini Forces Kidnap, Rape 16-Year-Old Boy
Bahraini security forces kidnapped sixteen year old Ali Al-Sankees, drove him faraway from Sanabis, south of Bahrain, before he was raped.
Bahrain mosque damage shows plight to ease unrest
Bahrain pushes ahead with medics trial
At some point before dawn, the vandals struck with brutal efficiency, smashing the windows at one of Bahrain's oldest Shiite mosques. Then the attackers walked over the broken shards to ransack offices and prayer areas — making sure to pull down some framed parchments with Quranic verses.
Anti-regime demos erupt across Bahrain
Bahraini people have taken to the streets in several villages across the country in fresh protest rallies against the decades-long rule of Al Khalifa royal family.
Bahraini forces fire tear gas at demo
Bahraini regime forces have once again used tear gas to disperse protesters holding a demonstration near the capital, Manama, Press TV reports.
The Bahraini regime says it will go ahead with the prosecution of 20 medics over their treatment of wounded anti-government protesters during last year’s demonstrations.
Bahrain's "reforms" leave monarchy and opposition divided
On Tuesday, Bahrain's National Commission released a report detailing numerous reforms undertaken in the wake of a mass uprising last year. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa praised the efforts as an "impressive beginning," and the government launched a well-choreographed media campaign to trumpet them. But the country's opposition, including the largest Shia bloc Al Wefaq, has says those reforms are more imaginary than real. Wefaq has refused to take part in the government's efforts. Al Jazeera's Mohamed Vall reports from Manama.
Updates on Forgotten Bahrain
Angry Arab's chief Bahrain correspondent is back: "I have a few updates for you on Bahrain, not really updates but an analysis on where we are, a year after the uprising. Its been really interesting looking back and seeing how much has changed. Of course what I tell you know is not set in stone and things may change as more developments take place...
In spite of claims that Bahrain’s revolution has failed, the reality is that peaceful protests, a campaign of civil disobedience, and anti-Al Khalifa energy is at an all-time high. The regime’s reliance on heavy-handed violence has failed to quell the country’s revolutionary spirit or stamp out the opposition. If anything, the yearlong brutal siege against its own citizens has strengthened the resolve of anti-regime critics and their determination to carry on. Among the most determined to keep the revolution alive is the Coalition of February 14th Youth, an anonymous and decentralized political network that has coordinated months of activism and protest. While Bahrain’s older and more visible political societies, including al-Wefaq and Wa’ad, have sought and failed to negotiate with the government over the last year, the Coalition of February 14th Youth has steadily earned popular legitimacy for its commitment to revolutionary principles and action. Out of fear of arrest, the Coalition has coordinated its efforts primarily through social media, most notably on Twitter and Facebook. Until now they have cautiously avoided speaking directly with the media.
China paper slams U.S. move on Iran oil sanctions
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's top newspaper on Thursday slammed U.S. moves to restrict Iran's oil trade which could see Chinese banks sanctioned, saying such unilateral action was not only wrong but could exacerbate the stand-off over Iran's nuclear program. The United States has exempted Japan and 10 EU nations from financial sanctions because they have significantly cut purchases of Iranian oil, but Iran's top customers China and India remain at risk.
Hague Not Qualified to Engage Iranians, Stuart Littlewood
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has worked himself into a lather over Iran's blocking of a Foreign Office website. He says: 'I condemn this action by the Iranian Government. UK for Iranians' was launched to reach out to Iranians, explaining, discussing and engaging with them on UK policy.' "We have no quarrel with the Iranian people... At the launch of our website, I celebrated the links between the UK and Iran, and the richness of Iran’s culture... It is not just Iranians who are the poorer for their government’s censorship, but the rest of the world. We will continue to look for opportunities to engage with the Iranian people, confident that Iranians are outward looking and deserve the same freedoms that others enjoy around the world.”
In mid-April, Istanbul or Geneva will host nuclear talks with Iran. America, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany will attend. Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov calls them a "last chance" to avoid war. Russian diplomats and independent observers expect it after talks designed to fail. Some believe launching it prevents or delays attacking Syria.
4 members of Shiite family killed in Baghdad home
Iraqi officials say assailants have killed a Shiite mother and her three children after breaking into their house in Baghdad.
Al-Qaida claims responsibility for Iraq attacks
Al-Qaida's front group in Iraq claimed responsibility Wednesday for a wave of attacks that killed 46 people across the country this week and said the violence exposes how weak government security is ahead of the upcoming Arab League summit in Baghdad.
Sunni lawmakers accuse Iraq government of torture
Iraqi lawmakers from the Sunni-dominated bloc are accusing the country's Shiite government of torturing to death a jailed bodyguard who worked for the fugitive Sunni vice president.
Saudi Mufti: destroy the churches!
The declaration of Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Abd al-Aziz b. Abdullah that all churches in the Arabian Peninsula should be destroyed is getting some attention. I first saw this a few days ago at Crossroads Arabia and thought little of it. Saying offensive and somewhat crazy extreme things is practically the job description for the head of that country's religious establishment, which fears the moral collapse of society if women start driving cars. The Mufti of Saudi Arabia: possibly one of the most dangerous a-holes in a country led by a-holes that the United States has been protecting for the last 60 years. Compare with Iran: they may be religious fanatics too, but so much more tolerant.
The recent protests by Saudi women students at King Khalid University in the southern city of Abha – and subsequent demonstrations by students of both sexes demanding the sacking of the university’s president, Abdallah al-Rashed – were not the first of their kind in Saudi Arabia. They were the latest in a series of similar actions that have occurred at a number of Saudi universities over the past year. They appear likely to trigger more. Women students later held a sit-in at al-Qassim University in solidarity with their colleagues in Abha to protest against poor conditions at their own institution.
Government forces continue to pound opposition neighbourhoods in Homs, killing at least five, activists say.
A Sunni Islamist group claimed responsibility on Wednesday for the bombing of security installations in Damascus last week, saying it was a reprisal for the shelling of Homs and other Syrian cities by President Bashar Assad's forces. In a statement posted on an Islamist web forum, the "Soldiers of the Assistance Front" vowed further attacks against Assad, whose minority Alawi sect it denounced as heretical. "The soldiers...have carried out a series of military operations on the regime's lairs, most notably the air security and criminal security branches in Damascus," it said.
Group unanimously adopts statement calling on government to abide by six-point UN-Arab proposal or face "further steps".
Russia criticises Syrian 'errors'
Syria's leadership is making "a lot of mistakes", says Russia, in a sign Moscow may be hardening its stance towards Damascus.
JORDAN-SYRIA: Refugees say it is becoming harder to leave
MAFRAQ 21 March 2012 (IRIN) - A few hundred metres from the dusty, sleepy crossing that divides Jordan and Syria, Mohammad* waits on the roadside clutching a plastic bag and his blazer.
The European Union is set to slap a travel ban and assets freeze on President Bashar Assad's wife Asma and other members of his family, EU diplomats told AFP on Thursday. Asma Assad is on a list of 12 people, including a handful of the president's relatives, whose assets will be frozen and who will be barred from travel across the 27-nation bloc, the sources said.
Syria’s Western and Arab adversaries were hoping the Syrian army would split or mount a coup. Instead it has been spearheading the campaign against rebel strongholds.
Religious Minorities in Syria are increasingly seen as a trump card that can sway the uprising one way or another. Opposition activists grapple with the legitimacy of their fears, their effectiveness in sustaining the status quo, and the potential positive role they can play in the uprising.
Aljazeera English translates 4 out of 5 documents
Taleb sent me this: "Did you note that aljazeera leak translated the 4 documents into English but they didn't translate the 5th one and even in the 5th document Enlglish summary they ignored important part???because the 5th document contains clear orders to prevent police and security men to take guns when they are dealing with demonstration in Fridyas !!! Read the last part of the 5th document in arabic.(I don't think it is professional from aljazeera English)...Besides, the 5th document contains the real number of demonstrators! this will show their lying about Numbers!"
Wikileaks: Google caught in spy games on execs and ‘regime change’, Allison Deger
Following Wikileaks' first dump of emails from the global security firm Stratfor last month, another round was released Friday, showing that Google passed on information to Stratfor about an executive's travels in Egypt-- including his meetings with Wael Ghonim, the Google marketing head and Egyptian revolutionary. Google suspected Jared Cohen, an executive with Google Ideas who had worked in the State Department under Bush and Obama, of coordinating with the Obama administration to astroturf "regime change" in the Middle East.
Ex-FBI informant: Muslim spying is ‘all about entrapment’
Craig Monteilh says he did not balk when his FBI handlers gave him the OK to have sex with the Muslim women his undercover operation was targeting. Nor, at the time, did he shy away from recording their pillow talk. “They said, if it would enhance the intelligence, go ahead and have sex. So I did,” Monteilh told the Guardian as he described his year as a confidential FBI informant sent on a secret mission to infiltrate southern Californian mosques. It is an astonishing admission that goes that goes to the heart of the intelligence surveillance of Muslim communities in America in the years after 9/11. While police and FBI leaders have insisted they are acting to defend America from a terrorist attack, civil liberties groups have insisted they have repeatedly gone too far and treated an entire religious group as suspicious.
Trayvon Martin and the fatal history of American racism
Kevin Powell: Every incident like the shooting of Trayvon Martin has its random elements. But the pattern of tragedy upon tragedy is inescapable.