Settlers run wild in the West Bank, but Israel rarely bothers to put them in kangaroo courts

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
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 Violence / Aggression / Incitement

SALFIT (Ma’an) — Four Palestinians were hospitalized in the northern West Bank after they were attacked by Israeli settlers near Ramallah on Saturday, locals told Ma’an. Salfit residents said the two men and two women were picking tumbleweed near Mikhmas junction outside Ramallah, when a group of young Israelis approached them. The settlers beat the group with batons and metal chains, locals said. Raja Sabri Al-Zeer, whose right arm and left fingers were broken, will undergo surgery in Salfit hospital, medics said. Ahmad Moharram Al-Zeer, who suffered head injuries, Lamya Fathi Hussain Al-Zeer, who was severely bruised, and Hasan Saleem Al-Aridi who suffered medium bruising, were also transferred to the hospital.  Also on Saturday, a Palestinian farmer from Beit Ummar and his family were pelted with stones by masked Israelis from a nearby settlement on Saturday, a local spokesman said. Settler violence against Palestinians is on the rise. In 2011, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that settler attacks had increased by 50 percent over the previous year.
HEBRON (Ma’an) — A Palestinian farmer from Beit Ummar and his family were pelted with stones by Israelis from a nearby settlement on Saturday, a local spokesman said. Muhammad Abed al-Hammed Jaber al-Slaibi, 67, was tending land near the Bat Ayin settlement with his children, when dozens of masked settlers approached and threw stones, Mohammed Ayyad Awad said. The family abandoned its tractor and ran from the field, he added. Al-Slaibi protested that the area is overseen by a number of Israeli military towers, but soldiers failed to intervene in the attack. Also on Saturday, four Palestinians were hospitalized in the northern West Bank after they were attacked by Israeli settlers near Ramallah. The settlers beat the group with batons and metal chains, locals said. Settler violence against Palestinians is on the rise. In 2011, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that settler attacks had increased by 50 percent over the previous year.

Several Residents Injured In Jerusalem
Israeli soldiers shot and injured, on Friday evening, several Palestinians in Al-Esawiyya, in occupied East Jerusalem, after invading the town leading to clashes with local youths; at least fifteen Palestinians were kidnapped by the army.

Bill Kristol is the chairman of the Emergency Committee for Israel, Noah Pollak is the top staffer at the shop. From Pollak’s twitter feed (and thanks to ThinkProgress for spotting it): “ Global March to Jerusalem needs a more accurate name, like Global March to Become Target Practice for the IDF.”
Land & Resource Theft & Destruction, Ethnic Cleansing / Apartheid / Exile

Israel planning new Jewish suburb in occupied Jerusalem
The Israeli occupation authority is planning a new Jewish suburb near Abu Dis village to the east of occupied Jerusalem, Israeli press reports said.

Safa Protesters Remove 100 Meters Of Fence Isolating Them From Their Orchards
As part of the protests marking the 36th anniversary of the Palestinian Land Day, and the Global March to Jerusalem, residents of Safa village, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, headed to their lands and orchards that were illegally confiscated by Israel, and isolated behind a barbed-wire fence, and managed to remove 100 meters of the fence.

AL-WALAJA, West Bank –  Palestinian activists are calling for a “Global March to Jerusalem” this Friday to mark Land Day, an annual event that commemorates the killing of six Arabs who were protesting the Israeli practice of expropriating Arab land to build Jewish settlements on March 30, 1976. Since then Palestinians have commemorated March 30 as Land Day and have turned it into a general day of protest against what they see as discriminatory practices by the Israeli government. But 70-year-old Abu Nidal doesn’t need a special calendar day to remind him of the Israeli occupation and their confiscation of his land. Nidal just needs to wake up every morning and look outside his window to see how the Israelis are confiscating his land.
Driving Palestinians out of their homes in “east” Jerusalem is, as you can imagine, a dirty business. But its not terribly difficult. The Palestinians are a vulnerable population, poor (70% subsist on less than $2 a day), completely unprotected by the law or Israeli courts, and targeted by determined Jewish settlers with all the money and political backing in the world – much of its coming, of course, from the US, mainly from orthodox Jews and Christian Zionists.
At least 500 Palestinians face total electricity cuts after Israel issued stop-work orders on solar panel and wind turbine systems in the South Hebron Hills, while illegal settlements in the area are provided with electricity and water.

The anti-apartheid fighter, and former wife of Nelson Mandela, once shared Hana al-Shalabi’s fate under the South African apartheid regime – banishment to a distant region.


IOA exiles Sheikh Alqam from Jerusalem for one month
The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) exiled Sheikh Abdullah Alqam, the secretary general of the Jerusalem tribes, from Jerusalem for one month.
Gaza Siege 

Red Cross provides Gaza hospitals with urgent fuel aid for 10 days
The Red Cross said it intends to give the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza about 150,000 liters of diesel fuel to help 13 public hospitals continue to provide health services in the next 10 days.
Ansar 2″ will reach Gaza Strip in May
Wael Al Sakka, the Lifeline Jordanian committee chairman, said that “Ansar 2 ” aid convoy will start its trip to Gaza Strip on the tenth of May.
Political Detentions by Israel & the PA
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained a teenage boy during a weekly protest held in Hebron village Beit Ummar on Saturday, locals and security officials said.  Spokesman of the local anti-separation wall committee Yousef Abu Maria said forces seized Hussain Ramzi, 14, during the demonstration.  An Israeli army spokesman said a teenager had been detained by police at the scene. Abu Maria said Israeli settlers participated in the clash, and injured Imad Khalil Abu Marsa, 25, whose arm was broken. Meanwhile, Saqr Abu Maria was hit in the foot by a sound bomb, and Younis Musa Arar, Ahmad Khalil Abu Hashem and an unnamed American activist were also injured, he said. On Friday, the Popular Resistance Committee said Israeli forces fired rubber bullets at a protest in Beit Ummar marking Land Day, injuring four protesters.  Residents of Beit Ummar hold weekly protests against Israel’s confiscation of their land.
15 Kidnapped in Al-Esawiyya
Israeli soldiers shot and injured, on Friday evening, several Palestinians in Al-Esawiyya, in occupied East Jerusalem, after invading the town leading to clashes with local youths; at least fifteen Palestinians were kidnapped by the army.

Army Kidnaps 9 Palestinians In the West Bank
Israeli soldiers invaded, on Thursday at dawn, several Palestinian areas in the occupied West Bank, broke into and searched dozens of homes, and kidnapped nine Palestinians.


PA arrests 3 of Hamas supporters in Bethlehem
The PA on Saturday continued the campaign of prosecution and detention against Hamas supporters, as its preventive security arrested three supporters of Hamas in Bethlehem after a raid on their homes.
Palestinian Authority jails journalist for publishing exposé on foreign ministry, Asa Winstanley
The Palestinian Authority imprisoned journalist Yousef al-Shayab Wednesday because of something he wrote, and because he insists on protecting his sources, say his colleagues.


IOA renews administrative detention of MP Khalil Al-Rubaei
An Israeli court renewed the administrative detention of Change and Reform MP Khalil Musa Al-Rubaei, from Yatta town south of Al-Khalil, for another six months.
Land Day

Israeli deputy FM: Arab demos ‘diplomatic terror’
Israel’s deputy foreign minister says an annual protest Palestinians mounted over the weekend is “political terrorism.”

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) – Organizers of the Global March to Jerusalem commemorating Land Day say the march on Friday made big strides as most of its goals were realized. General coordinator of the march Ribhi Halloum told Ma’an from Jordan that the organizers put forward three major goals. The first goal, he said, was to lay the grounds for future activities in line with this goal. The rally was divided into two parts the first of which was organizing rallies and sit-in strikes in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.  Part two of this goal, added Halloum, was demonstrations and face-to-face confrontations with the occupation inside Palestine “to prove that the Palestinian people are still present and are still holding fast to their land.”
Thousands of Arab Israelis attend Land Day rallies nationwide, protest land confiscation, discrimination,7340,L-4210263,00.html 

Earlier today we reported: Mustafa Barghouti was among 150 Palestinians injured at a Land Day demonstration at Qalandiya checkpoint in occupied Palestine this morning. A leader of the nonviolent movement and former candidate for president, Barghouti said that he was struck in the head by a teargas canister fired by Israeli forces. He spoke from a bed in Ramallah Hospital. He said he was not seriously injured but he is under observation for contusions to his head and back.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent Cal Perry reporting from the Qalandiya checkpoint in the West Bank, on Land Day, as the Israeli army clashes with Palestinian protesters.


Hundreds of Arab Israelis mark Land Day
About 500 Arab Israelis demonstrated on Saturday in Jaffa near Tel Aviv to mark Land Day held in memory of six members of their community killed in 1976, an AFP photographer reported.
Today, March 30th, 2012, demonstrations took place all over Palestine commemorating Land Day. On March 30, 1976, thousands of Palestinians gathered to protest Israeli government plans to confiscate 60,000 dunams of Arab-owned land in the Galilee. Israeli forces killed six Palestinians that day, and wounded and jailed hundreds. Palestinians continue to mark this day to protest the ongoing expropriation of Palestinian land.

Tens of thousands of Jordanians participate in Jerusalem march
Tens of thousands of Jordanians and foreign and Arab solidarity activists participated in the Global March to Jerusalem at the Kafrain area in the northern Jordan valley at the border with Palestine.


Hundreds participate in the “Global March to Jerusalem” in London
Hundreds of people participated in in a demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in London as part of the activities of the “Global March to Jerusalem.


Land Day protest at Times Square, today at 4:30 PM, Philip Weiss
Below is the latest product from the messengers of We Will Not Be Silent: The Palestine hoody. Sarah Wellington wears one to her workshift at Park Slope Food Coop a day after the vote. The group will be helping to lead a Land Day protest today in Times Square at 4:30 PM.

Since the late 1970s, Palestinians have each year marked March 30th with protests to celebrate Land Day. The day commemorates the first widespread struggle of Palestinian citizens of Israeli against land confiscation intended to create Jewish majorities in certain communities: the policy of Judaisation. The marches and general strikes began in Galilee; six unarmed Arab Israelis were killed. After solidarity protests spread to the occupied West Bank, Gaza and the refugee camps in Lebanon, the day marked the first common struggle for a Palestinian national cause after the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, an event Palestinians call the “Nakba” (“Catastrophe”). This year on Land Day there will be worldwide boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) activities against Israeli policy as well as a Global March to Jerusalem to call attention to continuing Judaisation and ethnic cleansing in the city that was supposed to be the multi-ethnic, multi-religious capital of a future Palestinian state.

Beit Hanoun: Celebrating the land and culture of Palestine
Today, Beit Hanoun celebrated Land Day.  It is true that Land Day isn’t really until tomorrow, but tomorrow is the Global March to Jerusalem, tomorrow, God willing, Land Day can be celebrated on the land from which the refugees were expelled 64 years ago.  Today, Land Day was celebrated on the land that Palestinians have managed to hold onto in Palestine.  Land Day commemorates the protests against the expropriation of Palestinian land which rocked Palestine in 1976.  Six people were killed, over a hundred injured and hundreds more arrested.  In Beit Hanoun we marched under the slogan, “A united land and a united people.”

Yesterday, Palestinians marked Land Day by protesting against the Israeli land confiscations with demonstrations in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan. This year, the protests were also supported by a solidarity campaign known as the Global March to Jerusalem, where Palestinians and allies marched to the Israeli controlled borders of the occupied Palestinians territories. The largest march on the border was in Jordan with between 20,000 and 30,000 protestors, and in Lebanon between 2,000-3,000 marched. In Egypt, the demonstration was cancelled after the state military stopped protestors from joining the march, which would have approached the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Land Day posters serve as a monument to the movement they represent. These vibrant graphics weave together images of nature and politics into a tapestry that is a testament to resilience. Like the bloodied kuffieyah print flower that breaks through barbed wire in the 1983 Land Day poster, these depictions promise life beyond barriers.

The Beast (of Apartheid) is back: South African hip-hop track released for Palestine’s Land Day, BDS Day of Action, Ali Abunimah
Durban-based artist and member of the South African Artists Against Apartheid collective, Iain EWOK Robinson, has released a music track, “Freedom for us All,” as part of (and for) today’s international “BDS Day of Action” which coincides with the annual commemoration of Land Day.


Other Popular Protests

Marches in Jenin refuse deportation of Shalabi
Two marches were organized in Jenin villages on Friday in solidarity with Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli occupation jails and in rejection of the Israeli deportation of Hana’a Shalabi.

Wa’ed society calls for making April 17 global day for Palestinian prisoners
Wa’ed society for detainees called on all advocates of the Palestinian cause in the world to make April 17 a global day to champion thousands of Palestinian freedom prisoners in Israeli jails.

BDS / Activism / Solidarity 
UK groups have for three months been pressing Shakespeare’s Globe to withdraw its festival invitation to Habima in response to the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli cultural institutions, and now a group of prominent actors, playwrights and directors have published a letter in the Guardian, ‘Dismay at Globe invitation to Israeli theatre’
The ex-U.K. Labour Party member, who was banished from the party after he called on Iraqi resistance to kill British soldiers, sent message after the shock parliamentary seat win.
Visitng and listening in Al Aqaba
Jeffry Goebel – An American activist involved in conflict resolution through consensus building, with much experience with Native American communities and in Mali, tells of his experiece in the embattled village of Aqaba on the West Bank.
Racism & Discrimination
Contrary to Oren, Israelis Persecute Christians
A funny thing happened the other day. Michael Oren, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, tried to convince readers of the Wall Street Journal that the “only place in the Middle East where Christians aren’t endangered but flourishing is Israel,” while blaming Islam for the plight of Christians in the Middle East, specifically the plight of Christian Palestinians in the West Bank.

Political “Developments”

Adnan to Cairo: Include Palestinian prisoners in exchange deal
Detained Islamic Jihad leader Khader Adnan urged Cairo to include Palestinian prisoners, especially minors, women, and the sick, in the reported prisoners’ exchange deal with Israel.

The Associated Press obtains a letter the Palestinian Authority president is planning to deliver to Israel, with planned ultimatum to dismantle the PA removed from the text.

Hammad: “Resistance, Of All types, Is The Way to Liberation”
Member of the Political Bureau of the Hamas Movement, Izzat Al-Rishiq, stated that resistance, of all types, remains is only option of the Palestinian people, fighting for their liberation and independence.
Analysis / Op-ed
A Palestinian working for the United Nations, Khulood Badawi, is at the center of a raging controversy over her March 12 tweet about a three-year-old Palestinian girl who died as a result of an Israeli attack in 2006.  During Israel’s latest air strike in Gaza, Badawi, an employee of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, tweeted a graphic image of the dead girl, Raja Abu Shaban, and wrote: “Palestine is bleeding. Another child killed by #Israel. Another father carrying his child to a grave in #Gaza.” 
In the West, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is viewed as only a Muslim-Jewish one. Totally forgotten are the Christians in Palestine who constitute the cradle of Christianity. The study “Faith under Occupation” is published by “The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)“ together with the “Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre (JIC)” and the “World Council of Churches (WCC)”. This report does not only aim to expose the grim realities of life under Israeli military occupation, and the impacts that it has on the Palestinian people in general, but it also aims to shed some light on the fact that Palestinian Christians are indigenous to the Holy Land. This report also disapproves of the unfounded Israeli and Christian Zionist propaganda that Palestinian Christians are depopulating due to Muslim fundamentalism in Palestinian society. Even more repelling is the fact that this report shows how Christian Zionist support for Israel’s brutal military occupation of Palestine is threatening the existence of Palestinian Christians.
Among other methods, lawlessly imprisoned Palestinians do it by hunger striking. Khader Adnan got world attention. He endured 66 days before Israel agreed to release him on April 17. He continues struggling to regain health and survive. On March 30, Hana Shalabi’s 43rd hunger strike day began. She also got widespread attention. Courageous struggles for justice draw support. At times, good news follows.
Life in Occupied Palestine is harsh, brutal, and repressive. It includes collective punishment, closed borders, economic strangulation, land theft, dispossessions, neighborhood incursions, ground and air attacks, arrests, torture, incarceration, and constant fear. Daily reports explain. On March 27, soldiers and settlers invaded the al-Aqsa Mosque through the al-Magharba Gate. Inside they terrorized worshipers.

‘Regime gunmen’ kill Bahrain protester: opposition
Gunmen killed a 22-year-old protester near the Bahraini capital early on Saturday, said the main Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq, blaming militants loyal to the regime.
…Five or six more shots were fired, with the bullets hitting a building and a street light. The Land Cruiser left the village and parked on the roundabout near AMA University, as the protesters went out again to the main road in front of the graveyard. Ahmed Ismail was standing in a yard near the main road. The Land Cruiser was pointing red laser beams at the youths. About 12:30 a.m., the protesters decided to return to the village. As they departed, a man inside the Land Cruiser fired again. Ahmed Ismail Hassan was shot in the lower abdomen [Note: the wound was later established to be in the upper right thigh]. When Ahmed was shot, he shouted and tried to run for about 20 feet until he fell. One of the protesters tried to help him walk from the scene until Ahmed fainted. Other youths gathered and carried him inside the village, taking him to a house where he had first aid before taking him to the hospital. Eyewitnesses could not identify the type of gun that was used,  but some said that during the first and second waves of shootings, as the Land Cruiser’s window were 1/3-down, a man pointed what looked to be a pistol. On the third occasion,, when Ahmed was hit, some eyewitnesses said that what appeared to be a rifle with a laser pointer appeared from the Land Cruiser.

Regime attacks Bahraini protesters
The Bahrain regime forces have fired tear gas at protesters in Salmabad village.

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja hospitalized
Detained Bahraini human rights activist Abdul Hadi al-Khawaja, who is on a hunger strike in protest against the Al Khalifa regime, has been transferred to a military hospital.
A leading Bahraini human rights defender serving a life sentence for his role in anti-government protests last year must be released immediately, Amnesty International said, amid fears the activist is at risk of death after 50 days on hunger strike. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, 52, is a former protection co-ordinator with Frontline, an NGO which supports human rights defenders. He was arrested in April last year for being one of the leaders of anti-government protests. He was tortured in custody and sentenced to life imprisonment in a grossly unfair trial by a military court last June. “Bahrain must ensure that Al-Khawaja is released immediately and unconditionally,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

Prominent Bahraini activist arrested
Bahraini regime forces have detained a prominent human rights activist at a peaceful anti-government rally in the capital Manama, Press TV reports.

Bahrain: Vital Reform Commitments Unmet
Bahrain’s government has not carried out critical recommendations by the independent commission that looked into extensive human rights violations during the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. 

Saudi-backed Bahraini regime forces have attacked peaceful anti-government protesters in the town of Sanad, injuring at least one person, Press TV reports.


Bahrainis protest against use of tear gas
Hundreds of Bahrainis staged on Thursday a sit-in outside the offices of the United Nations demanding action over the “excessive” use by police of tear gas against protesters.

Last week over a pleasant cup of coffee, a colleague asked me a strange question: “I don’t get it. Only 80 or so Bahrainis have died in the uprising. Why are they so furious?”  Citing the number of people killed in the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen — not to mention civil wars in Libya and Syria — she said that by the numbers, Bahrain was at the bottom of the list. The anger and frustration expressed by Bahraini protesters was lost on her since “King Hamad really hasn’t been as bad as Saleh, Ben Ali, and Mubarak.” I was a bit puzzled by this assertion. So I looked up the figures.  Here’s a table, ranking the protests by the estimated number of those killed.  

Islamist Group Breaks Pledge to Stay Out of Race in Egypt

The Muslim Brotherhood nominated its chief strategist and financier Khairat el-Shater to become Egypt’s first president since Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt: Children on Trial
Egypt’s military courts have investigated or tried at least 43 children over the past year,including the pending trial of 16-year-old Ahmed Hamdy Abdel Aziz in connection with the Port Said football riots.
New Egyptian constitution boycott
One of the senior authorities in Sunni Islam, the al-Azhar University, withdraws from a panel writing a new constitution for Egypt.

According to Time Magazine report, operations have been reduced in areas such as high-profile missions, including assassinations and detonations at Iranian missile bases, as well as in recruiting spies inside the Iranian nuclear program.

US to tighten squeeze on Iran oil
Barack Obama approves fresh sanctions on foreign banks still involved in the trading of Iranian oil, saying there are enough alternative supplies.


‘US wants Turkey to cut Iran oil imports’
US Ambassador to Turkey Francis J. Ricciardone says Washington expects Ankara to abide by the recent sanctions on the Islamic Republic and significantly reduce its imports of Iranian oil.


Clinton: Time running out for diplomacy with Iran
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made clear Saturday that time is running out for diplomacy over Iran’s nuclear program and said talks aimed at preventing Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon would resume in mid-April.

Iraq anti-Qaeda fighter killed with wife, son
Unknown gunmen shot dead a member of the Sahwa anti-Qaeda militia forces along with his wife and son on Saturday north of Baghdad in Iraq’s Diyala province, a security official said.

Sunni rulers largely shun Iraq at Arab summit
Sunni Muslim rulers largely shunned an Arab League summit hosted by Shiite-led Iraq on Thursday, illustrating how powerfully the sectarian split and the rivalry with Iran define Middle Eastern politics in the era of the Arab Spring.


Iraq Shiite cleric: cancel Saddam-era UN sanctions

An aide to Iraq’s top Shiite cleric says Arab and international leaders should work to remove long-standing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

[Today marks the 78th anniversary of the founding of The Iraqi Communist Party (ICP). Its recent history, especially after the 2003 invasion and occupation, notwithstanding, the ICP has a remarkable history of struggling for justice and freedom beginning in the early decades of the 20th century. It was one of the most powerful and popular communist parties in the region. Thousands of its members gave their lives fighting against tyranny, especially under the first and second Ba`th regimes. Muzaffar al-Nawwab (1934-), one of Iraq’s greatest poets, was a member of the ICP and was imprisoned, like many others, following the 1963 Ba`th coup.
Phil Weiss highlights this Haaretz article by Amir Oren reporting that Israel has decided to wait on attacking Iran until next year. An important takeaway from Oren’s article, if it’s correct, is that the US has literally bought time on the question of an Israeli attack on Iran. Pentagon spokesman George Little announced last night that the Defense Department intends to “request an appropriate level of funding from Congress” for Israel’s Iron Dome system. This funding would be in addition to the $205 million the US has already given Israel for the missile defense system. The Iron Dome system is important to Israel, as it could blunt the impact of potential counter-attacks in the aftermath of a strike on Iran.

100 Iranian Missiles Will Penetrate Defenses, Hitting Israeli Targets After First-Strike, Richard Silverstein

Gareth Porter does some excellent reporting during his current trip to Israel, where he’s meeting Israeli military and intelligence figures concerning a possible Israeli attack on Iran.  He focuses on the lack of Israeli psychological preparation or awareness of the danger they face from an Iranian counter-strike after Israel’s pre-emptive attack.

People in Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich Eastern Province have staged fresh protest rallies, chanting slogans against Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, Press TV reported. The demonstrations were held on Friday although Riyadh had strictly banned any anti-government gatherings and other public displays of dissent across the country. Demonstrations in Eastern Province began in February 2011 and turned into protest rallies against the Al Saud regime, especially since November 2011, when Saudi security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the province. Riyadh has intensified its crackdown on anti-government protesters since the beginning of 2012.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Saudi Arabia’s king and foreign minister in Riyadh on Friday to discuss the Syria conflict against a backdrop of tension with Iran and oil policy differences. The world’s main superpower and its top oil exporter have been strategic allies since the 1940s, but discord over how to respond to Arab popular uprisings strained relations last year.

Mideast upheaval knocks Saudi Arabia off balance
Saudi Arabia has been reluctant to embrace the ‘Arab Spring,’ which has ousted its allies. But the tumult has also offered it a chance to weaken rival Iran. RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The Saudi royal family prizes stability as much as the oil that secures its wealth, but political upheaval across the Middle East has shaken the kingdom’s sense of balance, forcing it to press for radical change in Syria and confront a bid by longtime nemesis Iran to wield greater influence.


Syria refugee crisis lands on Turkey’s doorstep
Turkey is grappling with a refugee crisis stemming from the Damascus regime’s military offensive against opponents as the country braces for a new influx of people fleeing the violence.
Assad’s forces capture Free Syrian Army commander in Damascus area
Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have captured the deputy commander of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Damascus and its suburbs, Al Arabiya TV reported on Saturday.
Fighting, shelling reported in Syria despite cease-fire pledge
Special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan says he expects Syria President Bashar Assad to implement an immediate cease-fire. But opposition groups report at least 45 people killed around the nation. Clashes and shelling were reported across Syria on Friday, even as the former secretary-general of the United Nations said he expected an immediate cease-fire by President Bashar Assad’s forces.

Outgunned Syria rebels turn to homemade bombs
As Syria government forces launch brutal attacks on rebel-held towns in Idlib province, the insurgents increasingly depend on a campaign of bombings and kidnappings. IDLIB, Syria — Scattered around the house that Abu Nadim once shared with his wife and five children are hints of its former existence: a SpongeBob SquarePants pillow, a baby’s crib, a woman’s purse.,0,1073614.story
Assad demands Syria rebels halt attacks
Syria’s president promised to do all he can to ensure U.N. envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan for his country succeeds but demanded that Annan secure a commitment from his opponents to halt violence even as rebels carried out a string of bold attacks, killing two army colonels and kidnapping a high-ranking pilot.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — The Obama administration is seeking to advance talks among Saudi Arabia and its neighbors on a missile defense system against Iran, while slowing any plans among Arab Gulf states to intervene militarily in Syria. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met for almost two hours with Saudi King Abdullah on Friday, conferring on regional military strategy and how to increase oil sanctions against Iran while ensuring ample global petroleum supplies. Governments are under pressure to reduce purchases of Iranian crude, and the U.S. hopes Saudi supplies can ease the transition.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Saturday said it was a “duty” to arm the Syrian opposition and help them defend themselves against the daily bloody crackdown by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. “The arming of the opposition is a duty, I think, because it cannot defend itself except with weapons,” Faisal said during a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
UK doubles aid to Syria opponents
The UK is doubling its non-military aid to opponents of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, Foreign Secretary William Hague says.

Fadwa Suleiman, an actress who became an icon of Syria’s revolution, is furious that her country’s peaceful protest movement has been drawn into armed conflict with the regime. She said she is saddened to see that “the revolution is not going in the right direction, that it is becoming armed, that the opposition which wanted to resist peacefully is playing the game of the regime and that the country is heading for sectarian war”. Her bitter assessment comes as she sits in a cafe in Paris, where she fled to last week after escaping from Syria. ”I didn’t want to leave Syria but I didn’t have the choice. I was being threatened and I was becoming a threat for the activists who were helping me,” she said wearily.

Fears Syria crisis could spread across region 

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, is expected to meet Saudi leaders in Riyadh on Friday, with the crisis in Syria topping the agenda. Clinton is set to hold talks with King Abdullah, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, and other senior Gulf diplomats to find ways to end the bloodshed in the country. International diplomacy has so far failed to end the conflict and there are growing fears that it could spread across the region. Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull reports.

Although the impulse to try to end the ongoing repression by the Syrian regime against its own people through foreign military intervention is understandable, it would be a very bad idea. Empirical studies have repeatedly demonstrated that international military interventions in cases of severe repression actually exacerbate violence in the short term and can only reduce violence in the longer term if the intervention is impartial or neutral.  Other studies demonstrate that foreign military interventions actually increase the duration of civil wars, making the conflicts longer and bloodier, and the regional consequences more serious, than if there were no intervention.  In addition, military intervention would likely trigger a “gloves off” mentality that would dramatically escalate the violence on both sides.
Other Arab & World News

Libya: 147 killed in 6 days of clashes in south
Six days of tribal clashes in a remote desert town in southern Libya have killed 147 people, the country’s health minister said Saturday.
Jordan arrests 12 activists for insulting king
Jordanian security forces arrested 12 activists for insulting the country’s King Abdullah II in a rally in the capital on Saturday, a police official said.

Amnesty urges Jordan to free political activists
Amnesty International on Saturday urged Jordan to free six political activists charged with insulting King Abdullah II, as police broke up a demonstration in Amman demanding their release.
… over what he says are the Channel’s “continuous falsification of facts”. His, is the latest of a long roster of veteran reporters, anchorwomen & men & managers who have left the vulgar channel over such allegations. 

A Jewish synagogue makes a comeback in Lebanon
The last remaining synagogue in Beirut is undergoing restoration, and will soon host its first rabbi in nearly 40 years. Only 150 members of the Jewish community remain in Lebanon.

France bars entry to four Islamic scholars
The government says the scholars, who are banned from attending a conference in Paris, “call for hate and violence”.

One Response

  1. pabelmont
    April 1, 2012, 9:11 am

    Happy Passover and let my people go. We know who is doing the violence here, and we know who is the obvious sufferer of the effects of the violence. But my this dreadful violence and lawlessness (by settlers, by IOF, by border police, etc.) not ALSO be a plague on Pharaoh?

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