Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
i think we have to accept that hamas has become a legitimate target for protests, because like morsi himself it is MB based
Opinions may differ on the genuineness of Hamas’ resistance to zionism in Gaza, but it does seem quite clear that the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has been CIA property for half a century, and MI6 property before that. I have one particularly good reconstruction of its covert history as a western asset which I transcribed from Said Aburish’s biography of Nasser, here – RB
Egyptian protesters besiege Hamas at Cairo hotel
Elhanan Miller, Times of Israel, Jun 18 2013
Hundreds of Egyptian protesters gathered outside the Intercontinental Hotel in Cairo Monday evening to protest the visit of a high-ranking Hamas delegation to the country. Organized by grassroots anti-Morsi organizations including the Coalition of Army Veterans and The Free Front for Peaceful Change, the protesters chanted anti-Hamas slogans and carried signs reading “The Egyptian people reject traitors in our land,” and “Who will you kill this time?” They were referring to Hamas’s believed involvement in terrorist activity in Sinai and in stirring violence during the anti-Mubarak uprising of 2011. Madhat Haddad, coordinator of the Coalition of Army Veterans, told Egyptian daily Al-Youm A-Sabi’ that his men attempted to storm the Intercontinental Hotel and capture the Hamas delegation “to trade them for [Egyptian] officers abducted in Sinai.” Issam Sharif, coordinator of the Free Front for Peaceful Change, told independent daily Al-Watan on Sunday that Hamas’s entry into Egypt posed a “national security threat.” Hamas has been engaged in an effort to rebuff these claims, which have been circulated by Egypt’s independent media in recent months. Hamas insists that Egypt’s independent press is engaged in a concerted campaign to defame it, ultimately aimed at shaming Morsi. According to UAE’s Gulf News, the Hamas leaders were officially asked to change their hotel ahead of Monday evening’s demonstrations. On Monday, Morsi met with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal to discuss the movement’s reconciliation efforts with Fatah, conducted under Egyptian patronage. The delegation also included Gaza PM Haniyeh and Mashaal’s deputy, Mousa Abu Marzouq. But opposition forces told local media that the real aim of the secretive meeting was to coordinate an Islamist effort to repel mass anti-government demonstrations scheduled for Jun 30. A signature campaign calling for Morsi’s resignation garnered at least 13 million signatures as of Jun 10.
it’s difficult to see whether this reporter is implying that sunni groups always initiate these exchanges, or not
Sunni-Shi’ite violence hits Lebanese city of Sidon
Mitchell Prothero, McClatchy, Jun 18 2013
BEIRUT — The Lebanese city of Sidon exploded into widespread street violence Tuesday afternoon as supporters and opponents of Hezbollah traded artillery and small arms fire, according to senior security officials and witnesses. At least one person was killed and nearly a dozen wounded. The fighting came after someone reportedly assaulted a vehicle that was carrying Amjad al-Assir, the brother of a hard-line Sunni cleric who’s known throughout Lebanon for his support for the Syrian rebellion and his outspoken criticism of Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria and influence in Lebanon. Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir rose in prominence over the last year for his vehement criticism of Hezbollah. Assir has threatened repeatedly to drive Hezbollah supporters out of the mostly Sunni city of Sidon and he’s bragged about his alliance with rebel groups in Syria, while adopting much of the anti-Shi’ite rhetoric of Sunni radicals commonly associated with al-Qaida, although he denies direct involvement in that group. According to a Syrian aid worker based in Sidon, who as a Syrian refugee himself requested that his full name not be used:
It was bad. It started with attacks on apartments leased by Sunni supporters of Hezbollah and quickly turned into sniping and even artillery. Both sides were hitting major city areas with mortars and even a Grad rocket. I’ve never seen it that bad before. We had to halt operations and leave the city.
He saw a number of black sport utility vehicles, commonly associated with Hezbollah’s internal security wing, entering the city en masse as his organization withdrew its staff from the area. According to a Lebanese security official based just outside Sidon:
The incident with Assir occurred just after midday and fighting broke out at around 3:30 pm local time. We pushed in as many army units as we could as quickly as we could to contain the fighting. Assir’s guys attacked an office with the Nasserite Movement in the Abra neighborhood in response. That office is known to be part of the support battalions of Hezbollah, and they quickly responded. The resistance also sent a number of its fighters into the area to support their Sunni allies.
A Hezbollah commander reached in Beirut denied a major movement of fighters into the area, saying:
The support units in Sidon can handle this situation. We’re not going to get too involved in fighting between Sunni groups.
As night fell and clashes continued, Lebanese army officers released a statement threatening to open fire on any armed groups that failed to withdraw from the streets of the port city, even as fighting closed Lebanon’s north-south highway through Sidon and even expanded to its seaside area. Fighting continued past nightfall. One supporter of Assir, who attends his Bilal bin Rabah Mosque, said by phone:
We wouldn’t attack the army. We are not against the Lebanese army. Prayer is our weapon today.
Although a predominately Shi’ite organization, Hezbollah has trained and funded a series of nonsectarian military units of supporters in Sunni and Christian areas in order to maintain security and influence outside of its traditional Shi’ite villages and neighborhoods. These offices, widely considered direct wings of the group, often have come under attack in Sunni areas as neighborhoods become increasingly polarized against Hezbollah and Lebanon’s large Shi’ite population. In a similar incident in May of last year, three people were killed and nearly a dozen wounded after the residents of a Sunni neighborhood in Beirut attacked the offices of a small group aligned with Hezbollah, forcing the group to send a special forces unit into the area to evacuate the office. Sunni groups have clashed regularly with Shi’ite villages in the northern Bekaa Valley near the Syrian border. Tit-for-tat shootings and kidnapping in Bekaa have become regular occurrences but direct violence between Sunnis and Shi’ites has been rare in most Lebanese cities. Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city, is the scene of regular clashes, however, including a wave of violence last month that killed nearly 30 people and wounded about 100.
this sounds exactly like colour revolution propaganda, but i have yet to see a single atom of evidence for color rev involvement
The only website that I know (well, blog, actually) devoted entirely to colour revolutions is this one. It provides plentiful examples of color rev entities and methodologies, but Turkey isn’t even on its country list. It hasn’t been updated since January – RB
‘Hateful’ Speech in Istanbul: Erdogan Throws Fuel on Flames
Maximilian Popp, Mirjam Schmitt, Der Spiegel, Jun 17 2013
He cleared out Gezi Park with brutal violence, disparaged the protesters as terrorists and railed against the foreign media. After a brief conciliatory respite, Erdogan is inflaming the conflict in Turkey once more. But the protest movement shows no signs of backing down. For a short time it looked as if Erdogan would relent, as if he had learned something from the revolt against his government that has taken place over the past weeks. In the middle of the week, he met with demonstrators who are commited to the preservation of Istanbul’s Gezi Park. He said that judges would deliberate on the future of the controversial park and held out the prospect of a referendum. Would Erdogan, the despot of the past two weeks, transform himself into a mediator? Since Sunday night at the latest, the answer has been a resounding no. At a rally in Ankara on Saturday, Erdogan reiterated that he was reaching the limits of his patience. After night fell, his security forces put these words into force. They used bulldozers to clear out Gezi Park, which had become a symbol of the resistance in recent days. They chased protesters and beat them down with clubs, and they shot tear gas into cafes and hotels as the people fled. Doctors who treated the wounded were arrested. But on Sunday, demonstrators in Turkey returned to the streets to protest the government. At the same time Erdogan gave a memorable speech in Istanbul. Liberal commentators described it as “frightening” and “hateful.” Hundreds of thousands of Erdogan supporters who had been bussed in from throughout the region gathered in a field along the coast. They carried Turkish flags and portraits of the prime minister. Officials with Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), including EU Affairs Minister Egemin Bagis, spurred on the crowd. Then Erdogan took to the stage. His supporters chanted “Turkey! Turkey!” as he raised his arms triumphantly. Of one thing there is no doubt: The Turkish premier did not come to Istanbul as a mediator. And it was conflict he was looking for, not reconciliation. Erdogan evoked a Turkish Empire, greeting his supporters in the Balkans, in Angola and in Iraq, crying out:
Where is Sarajevo? Where is Gaza tonight?
His voice cracked, and, at that moment, he no longer seemed like the democratically elected prime minister of one of the world’s largest economies. Instead he struck the figure of a crazed despot. Erdogan then addressed the foreign media, exclaiming in quite Venezuelan style:
CNN, Reuters, leave us alone with your lies!
For days now, Erdogan has sought to discredit the protests, which began as a campaign against the demolition of a park in Istanbul and expanded into a nationwide revolt against the AKP-led government, as a conspiracy conducted by foreign powers. “These forces want to harm Turkey,” he said. Finally, he addressed the protesters directly, once again calling them terrorists and plunderers. They aren’t real Turks, Erdogan said, adding that they should be handled with caution. “Those who work against Turkey will tremble with fear,” he warns, adding that he will hold accountable any hotelier who hides these “terrorists.” Erdogan’s speech may yet prove to be fateful for the leader. The atmosphere is already charged, and now Erdogan is throwing more fuel on the fire. Rather than reach out to the protesters, he disparages them. But with each attack he is only driving more people out onto the street. Early on, the protest proved effective at bringing together citizens from various social backgrounds. As Erdogan spoke on Sunday, young demonstrators in Istanbul watched the speech on television: students, artists, lawyers. They were stunned and unable to believe their prime minister has denounced them as enemies of the state. “Istanbul, are we one? Istanbul, are we united? Istanbul, are we brothers?” Erdogan shouted after nearly two hours. By this point, a few kilometers away, tens of thousands of demonstrators had once more gathered at Taksim Square. Despite the police and their clouds of tear gas, the protesters continued to march and demand Erdogan’s resignation.
The Deeper Meaning of Mass Spying in USAia
James Petras, Jun 14 2013
The exposure of the Obama regime’s use of the NSA to secretly spy on the communications of hundreds of millions of US and overseas citizens has provoked world-wide denunciations. In the US, despite widespread mass media coverage and the opposition of civil liberties organizations, there has not been any mass protest. Congressional leaders from both the Republican and Democratic Parties, as well as top judges, approved of the unprecedented domestic spy program. Even worse, when the pervasive spy operations were revealed, top Senate and Congressional leaders repeated their endorsement of each and every intrusion into all electronic and written communication involving US citizens. Obama and his Attorney General Holder openly and forcefully defended the NSA’s the universal spy operations. The issues raised by this vast secret police apparatus and its penetration into and control over civil society, infringing on the citizens freedom of expression, go far beyond mere ‘violations of privacy’, as raised by many legal experts. Most civil libertarians focus on the violations of individual rights, constitutional guarantees and the citizen’s privacy rights. These are important legal issues and the critics are right in raising them. However, these constitutional–legal critiques do not go far enough; they fail to raise even more fundamental issues; they avoid basic political questions. Why has such a massive police-state apparatus and universal spying become so central to the ruling regime? Why has the entire executive, legislative and judicial leadership come out in public for such a blatant repudiation of all constitutional guarantees? Why do elected leaders defend universal political espionage against the citizenry? What kind of politics requires a police state? What kind of long-term, large scale domestic and foreign policies are illegal and unconstitutional as to require the building of a vast network of domestic spies and a $100b corporate-state techno-espionage infrastructure in a time of budget ‘austerity’ with the slashing of social programs? The second set of questions arises from the use of the espionage data. So far most critics have questioned the existence of massive state espionage but have avoided the vital issue of what measures are taken by the spymasters once they target individuals, groups, movements? The essential question is: What reprisals and sanctions follow from the ‘information’ that is collected, classified and made operational by these massive domestic spy networks? Now that the ‘secret’ of all-encompassing, state political spying has entered public discussion, the next step should be to reveal the secret operations that follow against those targeted by the spymasters as a ‘risk to national security’.
The fundamental reason for the conversion of the state into a gigantic spy apparatus is the nature of deeply destructive domestic and foreign policies which the government has so forcefully pursued. The vast expansion of the police state apparatus is not a response to the terror attack of 9/11. The geometrical growth of spies, secret police budgets, and the vast intrusion into all citizen communications coincides with the wars across the globe. The decisions to militarize US global policy requires vast budgetary re-allocation, slashing social spending to fund empire-building; shredding public health and social security to bailout Wall Street. These are policies which greatly enhance profits for bankers and corporations while imposing regressive taxes on wage and salaried workers. Prolonged and extended wars abroad have been funded at the expense of citizens’ welfare at home. This policy had led to declining living standards for many tens of millions of citizens and rising dissatisfaction. The potential of social resistance as evidenced by the brief “Occupy Wall Street” movement which was endorsed by over 80% of the population. The positive response alarmed the state and led to an escalation of police state measures. Mass spying is designed to identify the citizens who oppose both imperial wars and the destruction of domestic welfare; labeling them as ‘security threats’ is a means of controlling them through the use of arbitrary police powers. The expansion of the President’s war powers has been accompanied by the growth and scope of the state spy apparatus: the more the President orders overseas drone attacks, the greater the number of his military interventions, the greater the need for the political elite surrounding the President to increase its policing of citizens in anticipation of a popular backlash. In this context, the policy of mass spying is taken as ‘pre-emptive action’. The greater the police state operations, the greater the fear and insecurity among dissident citizens and activists.
The assault on the living standards of working and middle class USAians in order to fund the endless series of wars, and not the so-called ‘war on terror’, is the reason the state has developed massive cyber warfare against the US citizenry. The issue is not only a question of a violation of individual privacy: it is fundamentally an issue of state infringement of the collective rights of organized citizens to freely engage in public opposition to regressive socio-economic policies and question the empire. The proliferation of permanent bureaucratic institutions, with over a million security ‘data collectors’, is accompanied by tens of thousands of ‘field operators’, analysts and inquisitors acting arbitrarily to designate dissident citizens as ‘security risks’ and imposing reprisals according to the political needs of their ruling political bosses. The police state apparatus has its own rules of self-protection and self-perpetuation; it has its own linkages and may occasionally compete with the Pentagon. The police state links up with and protects the masters of Wall Street and the propagandists of the mass media, even as it can – must – spy on them! The police state is an instrument of the Executive Branch acting as a vehicle for its arbitrary prerogative powers. However on administrative matters, it possesses a degree of ‘autonomy’ to target dissident behavior. What is clear is the high degree of cohesion, vertical discipline and mutual defense, up and down the hierarchy. The fact that one whistle-blower, Edward Snowden, emerged from the hundreds of thousands of citizen spies is the exception, the lone whistle blower, which proves the rule: There are fewer defectors to be found among the million-member US spy network than in all the Mafia families in Europe and North America.
The domestic spy apparatus operates with impunity because of its network of powerful domestic and overseas allies. The entire bi-partisan Congressional leadership is privy to and complicit with its operations. Related branches of government, like the IRS, cooperate in providing information and pursuing targeted political groups and individuals. Israel is a key overseas ally of the NSA, as has been documented in the Israeli press. Two Israeli high tech firms (Verint and Narus) with ties to the Israeli secret police (Mossad), have provided the spy software for the NSA and this, of course, has opened a window for Israeli spying in the US against USAians opposed to the Zionist state. Stephen Lendman points out that Israeli spymasters via their software “front companies” have long had the ability to ‘steal proprietary commercial and industrial data” with impunity. And because of the power and influence of the CPMAJO, Justice Dept officials have ordered dozens of Israeli espionage cases to be dropped. The tight Israeli ties to the US spy apparatus serves to prevent deeper scrutiny into its operation and political goals, at a very high price in terms of the security of US citizens. In recent years two incidents stand out: Israeli security ‘experts’ were contracted to advise the Pennsylvania DHS in their investigation and ‘Stasi-like’ repression of government critics and environmental activists, compared to ‘al Qaida terrorists’ by the Israelis, the discovery of which forced the resignation of OHS Director James Powers in 2010. In 2003, New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey appointed his lover, an Israeli government operative and former IDF officer named Golan Cipel, to head that state’s Homeland Security Dept. In late 2004 McGreevey resigned, denouncing his Israeli lover for blackmail. These examples are a small sample illustrating the depth and scope of Israeli police state tactics intersecting in US domestic repression.
The denunciations of the mass spy operations are a positive step, as far as they go. But equally important is the question of what follows from the act of spying? We now know that hundreds of millions of USAians are being spied on by the state. We know that mass spying is official policy of the Executive and is approved by Congressional leaders. But we have only fragmented information on the repressive measures resulting from the investigations of “suspect individuals”. We can assume that there is a division of labor among data collectors, data analysts and field operatives following up “risky individuals and groups”, based on the internal criteria known only to the secret police. The key spy operatives are those who devise and apply the criteria for designating someone as a “security risk”. Individuals and groups who express critical views of domestic and foreign policy are “a risk”; those who act to protest are a “higher risk”; those who travel to conflict regions are presumed to be in the “highest risk” category, even if they have violated no law. The question of the lawfulness of a citizen’s views and actions does not enter into the spymasters’ equation; nor do any questions regarding the lawfulness of the acts committed by the spies against citizens. The criteria defining a security risk supersede any constitutional considerations and safeguards.
We know from a large number of published cases that lawful critics, illegally spied upon, have subsequently been arrested, tried and jailed, their lives and those of their friends and family members shattered. We know that hundreds of homes, workplaces and offices of suspects have been raided in ‘fishing expeditions’. We know that family members, associates, neighbors, clients, and employers of “suspects” have been interrogated, pressured and intimidated. Above all, we know that tens of millions of law abiding citizens, critical of domestic economic and overseas war policies, have been censored by the very real fear of the massive operations carried out by the police state. In this atmosphere of intimidation, any critical conversation or word spoken in any context or relayed via the media can be interpreted by nameless, faceless spies as a “security threat”, and one’s name can enter into the ever growing secret lists of “potential terrorists”. The very presence and dimensions of the police state is intimidating. There are citizens who would claim that the police state is necessary to protect them from terrorists, but how many others feel compelled to embrace their state terrorists just to fend off any suspicion, hoping to stay off the growing lists? How many critical-minded USAians now fear the state and will never voice in public what they whisper at home? The bigger the secret police, the greater its operations. The more regressive domestic economic policy, the greater the fear and loathing of the political elite. Even as Obama and his Democratic and Republican partners boast and bluster about their police state and its effective “security function”, the vast majority of USAians are becoming aware that fear instilled at home serves the interest of waging imperial wars abroad; that cowardice in the face of police state threats only encourages further cuts in their living standards. When will they learn that exposing spying is only the beginning of a solution? When will they recognize that ending the police state is essential to dismantling the costly empire and creating a safe, secure and prosperous USAia?
Now let us delve again into the Israeli links: Nerus, Verint, Comverse, etc:
Meet the Israeli-linked firm that sold Big Brother machines to Mubarak, Qaddafi and Washington
Max Blumenthal, MondoWeiss, Jun 15 2013 22
The recent exposure of NSA monitoring of USAians’ emails, live voice communications and stored data cast suspicion once again on private surveillance contractors linked to Israeli intelligence services. One firm called Narus has provided the NSA with technology for almost a decade that enabled it to obtain and analyze at least 80% of communications made by USAians over online and telecom channels. What was Narus’ role in the latest scandal, and how far back does its history of spying go? Back in 2011, when Hosni Mubarak attempted to quell the Tahrir Square uprising by ordering telecommunications companies to shut down the Internet, the Obama administration slammed his regime, demanding that it immediately open up social media channels. The US also took the opportunity to promote the State Dept’s $30m Internet freedom project, which was aimed at providing dissidents with technology to stifle online surveillance in repressive states. Tim Karr, the campaign director for the online freedom advocacy group Free Press, wondered what tools the Mubarak regime was using to target online dissidents. He discovered that Egypt had purchased Deep Packet Inspection technology from Narus, a Silicon Valley-based high tech firm. DPI is a computer network packet filtering system that allows administrators to collect any data that passes through an inspection point. Governments around the world rely on it to conduct spying and data mining on a massive level. Karr told me:
DPI is often called dual use because it can be used for legitimate purposes, by cops to ID terrorists, or for commercial purposes. But in the wrong hands it can be a tool that can be used to suppress online dissent, identify dissidents and even hunt them down.
The information about Narus’ sales to Egypt was not hard to find; Karr discovered it right on the company’s website. Narus has also boasted about sales of DPI technology to serial human rights violators like the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and telecom subsidiaries of the Chinese government. Through a third party reseller, Narus was in negotiations to provide spying devices to the Qaddafi regime, but the deal fell through when Qaddafi was overthrown by the very people he had sought to monitor. The exposure this month of the NSA’s Prism program, which uses DPI technology to monitor the phone and online communications of US citizens, eroded the credibility of US calls for Internet freedom abroad. Karr remarked:
The Obama administration has tried to play both sides of this equation and the rhetoric it used during Arab Spring doesn’t square with our practices domestically in spying on our own citizenry. There seems to be a double standard here. When people fear that their communications are being monitored, there is a chilling effect. So this is not just about privacy, it’s a freedom speech issue.
In 2006, an AT&T technician named Mark Klein discovered a secret room inside the company’s windowless “Folsom Street Facility” in downtown San Francisco that was bristling with Narus machines. (Also here – RB) The now notorious Room 641A was controlled by the NSA, which was using it to collect AT&T customer data for data mining and real-time analysis. Thanks to the powerful Narus Insight system, the NSA was able to monitor 108 billion emails from AT&T customers per day. The revelations set off a national scandal, confirming that the US government was spying on millions of citizens, and that major telecom and service providers were complicit. But no one was held accountable. Following a lawsuit filed against AT&T by the Electronic Freedom Foundation, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act in Jul 2008, giving retroactive immunity to telecom corporations that assisted the NSA, and relieving them of any consequences for spying on USAians. Cass Sunstein, an informal advisor to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign who now heads the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and who has urged federal law enforcement to “cognitively infiltrate” anti-government groups, was an outspoken supporter of the retroactive immunity bill. With Sunstein by his side, Obama reversed his initial objections to the NSA’s domestic spying operations, voting as a Senator for retroactive immunity. The vote allowed the NSA to expand its domestic spying operations, clearing the legal hurdles obstructing the creation of PRISM. The stage was set for the second term scandal that would leave Obama reeling. Well before Edward Snowden was a household name, there was William Binney, a high level NSA official who resigned in protest on Oct 31 2001 after learning of the birth of a massive, post-9/11 domestic spying operation. I spoke to Binney three days after Snowden revealed himself as the latest NSA whistleblower. Like Snowden, who has been roundly demonized by pundits and Obama supporters, and may face an extradition order, Binney encountered a severe backlash when he resigned. Binney told me:
I couldn’t stay there and be a party to that collecting data and spying on US citizens. And that court order from Verizon is a continuation of that. They want to avoid facing up to what the government was doing so you have to demonize the source. We were all attacked. They attempted to indict us and frame us, they raided us with the FBI, they attempted to discredit us with all the standard tactics they use. It went nowhere but it allowed them continue doing what they were doing. And that’s the problem: they refused to recognize there even was a problem and now we won’t solve it.
Binney told me that throughout the US there are currently as many as 20 NSA black sites like Room 641A. Narus devices, he said, have been placed at fiber-optic convergence points, allowing the NSA to retrieve about 80% of data carried through telecom and online service providers. Binney emphasized that the devices do not only retrieve so-called metadata, which only offers general records of data, but that they gather the actual content of emails and calls. Steve Bannerman, the marketing director of Narus, said:
We can reconstruct all of their e-mails along with attachments, see what web pages they clicked on; we can reconstruct their VoIP calls.
Thanks to PRISM, the NSA bas been able to “fill in the gaps,” Binney explained, gathering bulk data from communications the NSA might have missed with the Narus Insight system, especially those made between USAians and foreign countries. Binney told me that while he worked at the NSA in 1998, a freebooting agency colleague with pronounced pro-Israel views “shared” DPI technology with Israeli intelligence agencies. At the time, Binney was the chairman of the NSA’s Foreign Relations Advisory Council, a board charged with reviewing the transfer of technology to foreign allies. To his chagrin, he was only made aware of the transfer to Israel after the fact. Binney said:
Usually when you share things you discuss them and have approval from FRAC. You have an agreement. I was supposed to know about all the sharing that goes on. So when I found out about this I said, ‘Hey, if we’re gonna share it with Israel we should share it with other allies too and save them the money of having to develop it on their own.’ I didn’t have a problem with it, and I don’t know how he did it, but we had a process and he circumvented it.
Enter Narus, the company named for the Latin word for “all-knowing.” Founded in the Silicon Valley in 1997 by Israeli expatriates with alleged ties to Israel’s intelligence services, Ori Cohen and Stas Khirman, Narus has been shrouded in mystery since its inception. A 2006 investigation by Haaretz into Cohen’s background was unable to establish a clear portrait of its subject, concluding that he was “hard to pin down.” Khirman, according to James Bamford (See this essential article – RB), worked in the past for Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries that specialized in advanced eavesdropping systems for Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus. In 2010, Narus was sold to the Boeing Company, a multinational defense corporation that clearly saw a future in the online surveillance industry. Sometime around 2002, Narus pioneered state-of-the-art DPI devices. Binney commented:
The timeline shows [DPI technology] was shared with Israel about five years before Narus came out with its devices. It certainly was a suspicious timing sequence.
Another Israeli-linked tech company, Verint, is a subsidiary of the Israeli firm Comverse, which boasts a reputation as “the world’s leading provider of communications intercept and analysis” technology. Among the many Comverse executives plucked from the ranks of Israeli army intelligence is the company’s founder, Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, an ex-Israeli intelligence agent who cashed in through Israel’s high-tech surveillance industry. Alexander’s lucrative career collapsed in dramatic fashion when he was arrested for fraud in Namibia in 2006 after an international manhunt, and wound up handing over bank accounts worth $46m to US authorities. Just as AT&T relied on Narus systems, Verint’s DPI devices have been used to fulfill NSA requests for data from Verizon’s subscribers. And as Bamford explained in his 2008 book on the NSA, “Shadow Factory,” much of the data Verint and other private Israeli contractors gather from can be remotely accessed from Israel. Bamford wrote:
The greatest potential beneficiaries of this marriage between the Israeli eavesdroppers and the US’s increasingly centralized telecom grid are Israel’s intelligence agencies.
Christopher Ketcham speculated in a 2008 article that Israeli-linked firms like Verint and Narus could have implanted Trojan spy technology into their devices, providing Israeli intelligence services with a backdoor means of reviewing and analyzing data stored in secure NSA systems. Boaz Guttmann, an Israeli national police cybercrimes investigator, told Ketcham:
Trojan horse espionage is part of the way of life of companies in Israel. It’s a culture of spying.
However, Binney dismissed the possibility of backdoor Trojan spying. He told me:
With any foreign equipment we bought we would make sure that there wasn’t anything planted in it like backdoors. I don’t think backdoors are a problem since they don’t have the bandwidth capacity and if it started happening it would have immediately showed up in service providers’ records.
But no matter how much control the NSA exerts over the spying technology it procures from private contractors, there is little guarantee it can control the thousands of people who work in their offices. To understand how acute the problem could be, look no further than Edward Snowden.
You recall, Moon of Alabama discovered some videos of them hitting tanks – RB
Middle East state reportedly sends rebels antitank missiles
Times of Israel, Jun 18 2013
An unnamed Middle Eastern state has supplied Syrian rebels with 250 sophisticated Soviet-made anti-tank missiles, according to a report published in London-based Arabic daily a-Sharq al-Awsat on Tuesday. According to the report, the unidentified state made its first delivery of 9M113 Konkurs missiles to the rebels a week ago via Turkey. The Konkurs antitank missile has a maximum range of 4 km and a hit probability of 90%. Egypt, Iran and Turkey are the only known operators of the missile system in the Middle East. Videos uploaded to YouTube in the past two months claim to show rebels using Konkurs missiles to destroy Assad’s armor. The Konkurs missile was responsible for a portion of the 50 Merkava tanks damaged by Hezbollah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, according to a Defense Ministry report published by Globes shortly after the conflict. According to Merkava tank program administration figures cited by the paper, Hezbollah’s Russian-made RPG 29, Kornet E, Metis-M, and Konkurs missiles penetrated 22 tanks during the monthlong conflict, killing 23 IDF crewmen. Tuesday’s report was the latest in a series of unconfirmed reports of Arab states providing the Syrian opposition with sophisticated weaponry to fight Assad’s better-equipped military. Der Spiegel reported Sunday that Saudi Arabia sought to arm the rebels with European-made shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, and Reuters quoted a Gulf source saying Riyadh has been providing the weapons for two months already. Obama last week decided to send the rebels weapons and ammunition for the first time in an attempt to increase their military strength and bolster their political bargaining power. But the US inventory for the rebels is not yet expected to include the high-powered weaponry sought by the opposition, raising questions about whether the deepening US involvement will be effective in changing the situation on the ground. Assad warned Europe in a interview published on Monday that it “would pay a price” if it delivered weapons to rebels fighting to topple him, and that arming them would backfire as the “terrorists” return to their countries with extremist ideologies.
G20 summit: NSA targeted Medvedev in London
Ewen MacAskill, Nick Davies, Nick Hopkins, Julian Borger, James Ball, Guardian, Jun 17 2013
US spies based in the UK intercepted the top-secret communications of then Russian Pres Medvedev during his visit to Britain for the G20 summit in London, leaked documents reveal. The details of the intercept were set out in a briefing prepared by the NSA, and shared with high-ranking officials from Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The document, leaked by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and seen by the Guardian, shows the agency believed it might have discovered “a change in the way Russian leadership signals have been normally transmitted.” The disclosure underlines the importance of the US spy hub at RAF Menwith Hill in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, where hundreds of NSA analysts are based, working alongside liaison officers from GCHQ. The document was drafted in Aug 2009, four months after the visit by Medvedev, who joined other world leaders in London, including Obama, for the event hosted by then British PM Gordon Brown. Medvedev arrived in London on Apr 1 and the NSA intercepted communications from his delegation the same day, according to the NSA paper, entitled “Russian Leadership Communications in support of President Dmitry Medvedev at the G20 summit in London – Intercept at Menwith Hill station.” The document starts with two pictures of Medvedev smiling for the world’s media alongside Brown and Obama in bilateral discussions before the main summit. The report says:
This is an analysis of signal activity in support of President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to London. The report details a change in the way Russian leadership signals have been normally transmitted. The signal activity was found to be emanating from the Russian embassy in London and the communications are believed to be in support of the Russian president.
The NSA interception of the Russian leadership at G20 came hours after Obama and Medvedev had met for the first time. Relations between the two leaders had been smoothed in the run-up to the summit with a series of phone calls and letters, with both men wanting to establish a trusting relationship to discuss the ongoing banking crisis and nuclear disarmament. In the aftermath of their discussions on Apr 1, the two men issued a joint communique saying they intended to “move further along the path of reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms in accordance with the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.” A White House official who briefed journalists described the meeting as “a very successful first meeting focused on real issues.” The official said it had been important for the men to be open about the issues on which they agreed and disagreed. Obama had stressed the need to be candid, the official noted. While it has been widely known the two countries spy on each other, it is rare for either to be caught in the act; the latest disclosures will also be deeply embarrassing for the White House as Obama prepares to meet Putin in the margins of the G8 summit this week. The two countries have long complained about the extent of each other’s espionage activities, and tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats are common. A year after Obama met Medvedev, the US claimed it had broken a highly sophisticated spy ring that carried out “deep cover” assignments in the US. Ten alleged Russian spies living in the US were arrested. Putin was withering of the FBI-led operation:
I see that your police have let themselves go and put some people in jail, but I guess that is their job. I hope the positive trend that we have seen develop in our bilateral relations recently will not be harmed by these events.
The new revelations underline the significance of RAF Menwith Hill and raise questions about its relationship to the British intelligence agencies, and who is responsible for overseeing it. The 560-acre site was leased to the US in 1954 and the NSA has had a large presence there since 1966. It has often been described as the biggest surveillance and interception facility in the world, and has 33 distinct white “radomes” that house satellite dishes. A US base in all but name, it has British intelligence analysts seconded to work alongside NSA colleagues, though it is unclear how the two agencies obtain and share intelligence, and whose legal authority they are working under.
did israel attack syria again? there were certainly a lot of planes over lebanon, even more than usual
Did Israel Attack Syria Again?
P J Watson, Infowars, Jun 17 2013
The IDF is refusing to comment on reports that Israel attacked the al-Miza military airbase near Damascus last night, which if true could lead to a Syrian response and a massive escalation of the conflict. A Syrian television station sympathetic to anti-Assad rebels reported that Israel was responsible for the strike on a facility west of Damascus, which targeted advanced weapons and radar systems.The JPost reports:
Eyewitnesses said that the explosions were large and that neither the Assad regime nor the rebels had the capability to create explosions of such a magnitude.
An opposition source told YNet:
My house overlooks the airport. At a certain point we saw armored vehicles enter the airport,” . “They were probably equipped with mobile radar systems. Then we heard the sound of a missile striking the vehicles. It was the same sound we heard in Mount Qasioun.
Another eyewitness said:
The explosion was like a volcano. The flames reached the sky. The sound was the same one that was heard in Qasioun.
Other reports claimed that the attack was a result of a car bomb carried out by rebels, an explanation embraced by the Assad government. Israel’s policy after it carried out previous attacks on Syria is to neither confirm or deny involvement. If Israel’s complicity in the attack is confirmed, it could prompt a Syrian response that would serve to pour fuel on the fire of a conflict already rocked by news last week that the US will formally seek to arm opposition rebels despite their close ties with al-Qaeda. Following attacks on several facilities in Syria last month, Assad vowed to “respond in kind” to any future acts of Israeli aggression, after criticism that his reaction had been muted. Days prior to this threat, Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned that the Israeli military was prepared to strike shipments of advanced Russian weapons sent to Damascus, commenting
If God forbid they do reach Syria, we will know what to do.
Analysts have warned that an escalation of the conflict could ignite WW3. Israel has offered tacit support to opposition militants despite their jihadist creed, setting up field hospitals to aid injured rebels while also sending military vehicles into Syria to pick up wounded fighters before patching them up and sending them back into battle. A huge Israeli air strike on the Jamraya military facility on May 5 was coordinated with opposition rebels, according to Egyptian and Jordanian intelligence sources. With the Syrian Army scoring key battlefield victories in recent weeks, USrael’s efforts to destabilize the Assad regime are expected to accelerate. Last week, the Obama administration announced that it would seek to arm the Syrian rebels after claiming Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons, crossing a so-called “red line”. In pledging to increase military support for Syrian rebels while also preparing a no fly zone, the Obama administration is openly aiding terrorists who have sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda. By launching attacks that weaken and distract Damascus from its focus on defeating western-backed insurgents, Israel is aiding the very same rebels who have burned Israeli flags in public and vowed to crush the Zionist regime once they are finished toppling Assad.
Washington’s Battle Over Syrian Foreign Policy: Will Hawks Or Doves Prevail?
P D Scott, Asia-Pacific Journal, Jun 17 2013.
Like Putin’s policy in Russia, Obama’s Syrian policy is being tugged strenuously in Washington, both by hawks and by doves. On Jun 13, Obama handed two limited but ominous victories to the hawks: a finding of fact that the troops of Assad “have used chemical weapons [i.e. sarin] against rebel forces,” and a consequent decision “to begin supplying the rebels for the first time with small arms and ammunition.”  Both announcements sound very strange, if not dishonest, to anyone who has been following the Syrian crisis. Deputy National Security Adviser Benjamin Rhodes, one of Obama’s top foreign policy advisers, was quoted by the NYT as saying that “there was no reason to think that the resistance has access to chemical weapons.” Thus, like most of the mainstream US media, Rhodes simply ignored the reports last May in the British media that “UN human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria’s civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin.”  Three weeks later there were additional disputed reports that a 2 kg cylinder with sarin gas had been seized from Syrian rebel forces in Turkey.  We thus see another US case, as a decade ago in Iraq, of policy steering intelligence, rather than vice versa. The second announcement, that the US would “begin supplying the rebels,” is also hard to reconcile with reality. As the NYT itself revealed three months ago, the CIA since early 2012 has helped facilitate an airlift of 3500 tons or more of arms to the rebels from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  The role of Saudi Arabia and Qatar as cutouts reprises a pattern seen in Bosnia in 2003 and especially Libya in 2011; and this history tells us that although Washington would prefer that the arms not reach Salafi jihadis, it will be difficult or impossible to stop this from happening.  What is clear is that the new weapons will add to the slaughter without ending it, a slaughter that is ever more directed against civilians on all sides. 
With these small moves Obama has granted hawks like McCain far less than they wish. In the same announcement, Benjamin Rhodes “all but ruled out the option of a no-fly zone,” the no-boots-on-the-ground strategy that ousted Gaddafi in Libya. By ruling out a no-fly zone, Obama may still hope to forestall a Russian move to supply Assad with advanced anti-aircraft missiles, a step almost certain to provoke Israeli involvement and perhaps a further expansion of the conflict into Lebanon and Iraq. With the support of an Op-Ed in the NYT,  Jackass Kerry met in early May with Sergei Lavrov, and the two agreed to reconvene an international conference by late May to deal with the Syrian crisis (at a time when an EU arms embargo was due to expire). The conference was, however, postponed and is still in doubt, largely because the west’s preferred clients in the uprising, the FSA, refuse to participate while they are currently losing. Jackass and Lavrov met again in Paris in late May, and the outcome this time was more ominous. Russian media still reported, with guarded optimism, about a prospective but delayed conference.  US media however ignored or downplayed the conference notion. Instead they quoted State Dept spokesman Patrick Ventrell, who rebuked Moscow for announcing it would deliver an advanced guided S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Syria; and he added that the US would now support the easing of the EU arms embargo. 
Two features of Obama’s Syrian policy, mutually offsetting, have been visible since he first took office. The first has been his extreme caution, and his refusal to rush into commitments like the one that has the US currently bogged down in Afghanistan. The second has been a tendency to justify his delaying tactics by abstract policy statements fit only for headlines, as when in Aug 2011 he said categorically that Assad must “step aside.” He thus left himself with a policy position that Russia will not agree to, and no policy to make it happen. Meanwhile, numerous informed US and international analyses of the Syrian crisis warn that the conflict, already a proxy war pitting Turkey and the Arabian peninsula countries against Iran, could become still larger and more dangerous.  However, these reports tend to ignore the brute petroleum realities which are likely to determine Assad’s downfall, if they are not directly confronted and rebutted. Syria’s petroleum reserves were estimated in 2010 at 2.5 bb. More importantly, Syria is the most obvious land route for any pipelines to export oil and gas from the Persian Gulf, including Iran, to the energy-hungry nations of western Europe. But the Kirkuk–Baniyas crude oil pipeline, from the Kirkuk oil field in Iraq to the Mediterranean, was destroyed by US air strikes in 2003 and never reopened. In 2009, Qatar and Turkey began negotiating a new natural gas pipeline across Saudi Arabia and Syria to Turkey, to link up with the proposed Nabucco pipeline across Turkey from Azerbaijan.  A route through Iraq seemed increasingly problematic, however, with the increasing conflicts there. Meanwhile, according to Oilprice.com, Saudi Arabia denied Qatar the use of its territory, leaving a route through southern Iraq and Syria for Qatar to “secure a new source of income. Pipelines are in place already in Turkey to receive the gas. Only Assad is in the way.”  The Financial Times has since reported :
The tiny gas-rich state of Qatar has spent as much as $3b over the past two years supporting the rebellion in Syria, far exceeding any other government. Its financial support for the revolution that has turned into a vicious civil war dramatically overshadows western backing for the opposition.
The informed website ZeroHedge.com has commented that this considerable investment is “as so often happens in the middle east, once again all about the natural resources.”  Qatar’s North Dome gas field, in the middle of the Persian Gulf, is one with Iran’s South Pars field, and together they constitute the largest gas field in the world. In 2011 Assad rejected an ultimatum from Qatar and instead agreed with Iran and Iraq to build a new Iran-Syria pipeline which would transfer natural gas to the Mediterranean from Iran’s South Pars natural gas field rather than Qatar’s North Dome.  We should recall that similar challenges to US petrodollar hegemony were made by Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, with fatal consequences to them and their regimes.  As Pepe Escobar commented :
The key (unstated) reason for Qatar to be so obsessed by regime change in Syria is to kill the $10b Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline, which was agreed upon in Jul 2011. The same applies to Turkey, because this pipeline would bypass Ankara, which always bills itself as the key energy crossroads between East and West. It’s crucial to remember that the Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline is anathema to Washington. The difference is that Washington in this case can count on its allies Qatar and Turkey to sabotage the whole deal.
One of the great downsides of covert foreign policies is that crucial world-changing decisions are entrusted to gung-ho cowboys with little oversight and still less interest in the long-term consequences of their disruptive actions. We saw this two decades ago when the CIA, overriding the State Dept, helped Pakistan’s ISI, in collusion with the Salafi-Jihadi Hekmatyar, overthrow the relatively moderate Najibullah government in Afghanistan that had been left behind when the Soviets withdrew.  Former Ambassador Peter Tomsen has written an eloquent memoir, The Wars of Afghanistan, about this under-acknowledged tragedy, out of which grew both 9/11 and a war the US is still fighting :
Under-Sec for Political Affairs Robert Kimmitt and I tried to close the gap between the State Dept and the CIA’s Directorate of Operations on Afghan policy. I met twice with Deputy CIA Director Richard Kerr to resolve differences. But the agency persisted in backing the ISI’s military attacks on Kabul aimed at replacing Najib with Hekmatyar. Separately, the State Dept and the CIA were operating at cross purposes. That was a certain recipe for paralysis and ultimate policy failure.
Unless there is a significant change, we can anticipate the same tragedy again in Syria, with the CIA, in collusion with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, facilitating arms to similar Sunni Jihadis, while the State Dept officials seek, with their Russian counterparts, a peaceful resolution to this crisis. The alternative would be a timely reconvening of an international Geneva Conference, with or without the various rebel factions, and certainly with the participation of Qatar and two other countries excluded from the last such conference: Iran and Saudi Arabia. All these nations are already part of the conflict, and all these nations, like the rest of the world, have legitimate interests that would be better served by peace. 
 “US Is Said To Plan To Send Weapons to Syrian Rebels,” NYT, Jun 14 2013.
 “UN has testimony that Syrian rebels used sarin gas: investigator,” Reuters, May 5 2013. Cf BBC, May 6 2013,. At the time White House spokesman Jay Carney commented: “We are highly sceptical of any suggestions that the opposition used chemical weapons” (Guardian, May 6 2013).
 “Turkey finds sarin gas in homes of suspected Syrian Islamists – reports,” RT, May 30 2013.
 C J Chivers and Eric Schmitt, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From CIA,” NYT, Mar 24 2013.
 P D Scott, “”Bosnia, Kosovo, and Now Libya: The Human Costs of Washington’s On-Going Collusion with Terrorists,” Asian-Pacific Journal, Jul 29 2011. Cf Jason Breslow, “Can the US Keep Its Weapons From Extremists in Syria?” PBS, Jun 14 2013: “As FRONTLINE reported in The Battle for Syria, rebels in the country have grown increasingly Islamist and extreme, prompting concern within the administration that US weapons could fall into the wrong hands.The challenge ahead will be preventing such a scenario, a task most experts believe will be difficult if not impossible.”
 Dana el-Baltaji, “Syria Rebels Threaten to Wipe Out Shi’ite, Alawite Towns,” Bloomberg, May 21 2013: “Communities inhabited by Shi’ites and Alawis minority will be ‘wiped off the map’ if the strategic city of al-Qusair in central Syria falls to government troops, rebel forces said. ‘We don’t want this to happen, but it will be a reality imposed on everyone,’ Colonel Abd’el-Hamid Zakaria, a spokesman for the FSA in Turkey, told al-Arabiya television yesterday. ‘It’s going to be an open, sectarian, bloody war to the end.’”
 Dan Kurtzer, “Obama Can’t Go It Alone in Syria,” NYT, May 2 2013: “Constructing an international coalition of willing states, especially Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is the only strategically wise option for the US. Without such a coalition, intervention won’t work. And without such a coalition, the US must reject unilateral military intervention in Syria.”
 “Take two: Lavrov, Kerry working to broker redo of Syria peace conference,” RT, May 27, 2013.
 “US supports EU easing of Syria arms embargo,” UPI, May 28 2013; “Washington rebukes Moscow on new Syrian arms,” UPI, May 29 2013.
 David Bromwich, “Stay Out of Syria!” NY Review of Books, Jun 20 2013. M K Bhadrakumar poses the issue more starkly, with an eye toward US-Russian conflict. “All in all, Obama’s momentous decision on military intervention in Syria, which could well launch a new Cold War, is a desperate diversionary move when his administration is caught up deep in the cesspool over the Snowden controversy. The entire moral edifice on which Obama built up his presidency and the values he espoused at the core of his “audacity of hope” when he began his long march to the White House five years ago – transparency, accountability, legitimacy, multilateralism, consensus, lie exposed today as a pack of lies.”“Obama’s Monica Moment,” Asia Times Jun 14 2013.
 “Qatar seeks gas pipeline to Turkey,” UAE National, Aug 26 2009; PipelinesInternational.com, Mar 2010: “Turkey is in negotiations to discuss the development of the Qatar – Turkey pipeline. The pipeline would run from Doha to Istanbul, a distance of approximately 2,500 km. The pipeline would carry Qatari gas to the Mediterranean Sea, crossing Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and may link to the proposed Nabucco gas pipeline.”
 Felix Imonti, “Qatar: Rich and Dangerous,” Oilprice.com, Sep 17 2012.
“Qatar bankrolls Syrian revolt with cash and arms,” Financial Times, May 16 2013.
 “Mystery Sponsor Of Weapons And Money To Syrian Mercenary “Rebels” Revealed,” ZeroHedge.com, May 16 2013.
[15[ “Islamic Pipeline States Meet in Baghdad,” Tehran Times, Jun 14 2013.
 P D Scott, “The Libyan War, American Power and the Decline of the Petrodollar System,” Asian-Pacific Journal, Apr 27 2011.
 Pepe Escobar, “Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Qatar: Pipelineistan at work,” RT, Apr 14 2013.
 A horror story: see Steve Coll, Ghost Wars, 173-214.
 Peter Tomsen, The Wars of Afghanistan, 422.
 Zbigniew Brzezinski has sensibly proposed that other nations with energy interests in the Persian Gulf, notably China and Japan, should also be invited to participate in the conference (PBS News, Jun 14 2013).
Shi’ite Iraq militia claims it attacked MeK camp
Sinan Salaheddin, Qassim, Abd’ul-Zahra, AP, Jun 17 2013
BAGHDAD — A Shi’ite militia leader on Monday claimed responsibility for a rocket attack over the weekend that killed two members of the MeK near Baghdad. Saturday’s attack on the sprawling Camp Liberty also killed an Iraqi and wounded nine Iranians and seven Iraqis. Cleric Wathiq al-Batat, who leads the Mukhtar Army, told AP that a total of 18 rockets were fired at the camp. He vowed that his group will continue to attack the Iranians until they leave Iraq. He said:
We will continue to hit the MeK people until they leave the country. We are giving them a 10-day deadline to leave otherwise they will be attacked again.
Interior Ministry spokesman Saad Maan Ibrahim said security forces are investigating the attack. Asked about al-Batat’s statement, he said that any statement made about this issue will be included in the investigation. Camp spokesman Shahriar Kia accused the Iranian government of being behind the attack. Al-Batat previously claimed responsibility for a Feb 9 attack on the camp that killed seven people, and at the time threatened to carry out further strikes on the compound until the MeK leaves. The Mukhtar Army emerged earlier this year when leaflets bearing its name were delivered to Sunni households in a religiously mixed Baghdad neighborhood, warning the Sunnis to leave or face grave consequences. Al-Batat was a senior official in Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigades, which is believed to be funded and trained by the Iranian IRGC. It was among the Shi’ite militias that targeted US military bases months before troops pulled out in Dec 2011, and has been sending fighters to Syria that are fighting alongside Assad’s troops. He claims the Hezbollah Brigades defected from his group. It is unclear what links, if any, he maintains with the Hezbollah Brigades, which operate independently from the better-known Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Hamas calls on Hezbollah to pull fighters out of Syria
Reuters, Jun 17 2013
GAZA – Hamas on Monday urged Hezbollah to withdraw its forces from Syria. Moussa Abu Marzouk, a Cairo-based Hamas leader, said on his Facebook page:
We call on Hezbollah to take its forces out of Syria and to keep their weapons directed against the Zionist enemy.
Abu Marzouk said Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria had stoked sectarian conflict. Hamas has denied some Lebanese media reports that its fighters were present in Syria to train rebels in weaponry, bomb-making and tunnel digging. On Friday, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah promised his group would keep fighting alongside Assad’s forces after it spearheaded the recapture of the strategic town of Qusair. Hamas’s leaders in exile were once based in Damascus but left, mainly for Egypt and Qatar, in 2012 as the civil war escalated.