putin erdogan deal

say, just how do you manage to live in this stinking wilderness…?

Occupied Palestinian village coveted by Jewish settlers is dubbed ‘miserable’ in WaPo
Philip Weiss, MondoWeiss, Aug 2, 2016

Yesterday the WaPo published a report from Susiya, a hamlet in the occupied Hebron Hills that Israel is trying to demolish, that called Susiya a “miserable village” in the headline (and the accompanying tweet) and allowed Israeli settler advocates to suggest that Israel is trying to remove the Palestinians from “squalid tents” for their own good. “Pitiful” also made an appearance. The WaPo has since changed the headline to “ramshackle” village, but “miserable” lives on in the url. As for the word “occupied,” it appears once, deep in the story, all but erasing the most crucial fact here: this is not Israeli land under international law.

The usually helpful reporter, William Booth, seeks to be balanced about a hideously imbalanced situation:

The Palestinian residents insist they are not squatters but heirs to the land they have farmed and grazed since the Ottoman era. They say Israel wants to depopulate the area of Arabs and replace them with Jews.

“They say.” But the evidence is today overwhelming that that is exactly what Israel does with occupied land, takes as much land as it can with as few Palestinians on it as Israel can help. This is happening all over the Hebron Hills, and in many other places in the West Bank. “It’s ethnic cleansing,” a village resident says fairly high in the WaPo article, but such assertions must contend for space with bodacious views of Israeli right-wingers.

Israeli settlers in the West Bank see an insidious Palestinian encroachment onto lands the Jewish homesteaders believe were given to them by God.

The article would seem to normalize the occupation, in much the way that the Democrat Party platform does this year, it removed any reference to occupation. Or that WNYC’s Richard Hake did two weeks ago when he said that activists allege that the West Bank is occupied territory. But it’s the 50th year of occupation. Doesn’t that bear mentioning? The article repeatedly mentions “Jewish settlers,” but nowhere does it state that Jews in the West Bank can vote, and the Palestinians allegedly “squatting” in “pitiful” Susiya can’t. International opposition to the destruction of Susiya, including Pindostan describing Israel’s plans for Susiya as “very troubling” is many paragraphs down in the story. And Susiya doesn’t sound so miserable here:

James Downer, the British deputy consul general in Jerusalem, sipped coffee with the Nawaja clan. “I am very fond of Susiya,” he said … He promised the locals, “We will do what we can to oppose demolitions here and elsewhere.” Whatever it was in the past, these days Susiya has more the feeling of a protest camp than a functioning Palestinian village.

Many on twitter are describing the WaPo framing of the story as Zionist propaganda:

A retired California educator:

zionist propaganda calling village of humans “miserable” to condone the zionist inhumane behaviour of home demolishing

Yes when an occupied village is being bulldozed to make way for settlers of the right religion, it’s not going to look pretty. Imagine the WaPo visiting the segregated south, and discovering squalor in African-American communities ….

syria

Pindostan pressures Turkey to curb attacks on Syrian Kurds
Patrick Martin, WSWS, Aug 30 2016

Obama and Erdogan will meet this coming weekend, the White House said Monday, as tensions mounted between Washington and Ankara over the Turkish invasion of Syria. The meeting will be held in China, where both Obama and Erdogan are to participate in the Group of 20 summit of leading economic powers on Sep 4-5. The Obama-Erdogan meeting was announced as a series of Pindo spoxes criticized the actions of the Turkish military in Syria. After ousting Daesh from the border town of Jarabulus, Turkish forces have turned their guns against Syrian Kurdish forces sponsored and armed by Pindostan. Dozens were killed Sunday in a series of bombardments as Turkish artillery and air strikes hit several villages held by Syrian Kurdish forces, including Jeb el-Kussa, where at least 20 died and 50 were wounded. The Turkish invasion, dubbed Operation Euphrates Shield, while initially billed as an offensive against Daesh, quickly became an extension of the protracted civil war inside Turkey between the Turkish military and the PKK. The Syrian Kurds, allied to the PKK, are organized in the YPG militia and the PYD party, which have become the main forces backed by the Obama administration in northern Syria.

The trigger for the Turkish incursion was not Daesh, which has controlled the section of the Syrian-Turkish border west of Jarabulus for several years without interference by Turkey, but the advances by the Syrian Defense Force (SDF), an umbrella group dominated by the YPG, which crossed the Euphrates River and captured the town of Manbij from Daesh after a 10-week battle. Turkish forces crossed the border on Aug 24 and drove Daesh out of Jarabulus. Then, together with Sunni militias allied to them, they began seizing villages that had been taken by the SDF-YPG in the course of their own offensive against Daesh. A reporter for Al-Jazeera said, referring to the Turkish forces and their militia allies:

Their main target is to take over Manbij. YPG fighters maintain a significant presence along that area with their local allies.

Kurdish forces withdrew in the face of the Turkish onslaught, but in some cases did not move east of the Euphrates, as demanded by Turkey, but south through Manbij, maintaining their beachhead on the western side of the river. The SDF’s military council in the region declared in an online statement:

We, the military council of Jarabulus and its countryside, announce the withdrawal of our forces to the line south of the Sajour River to preserve the lives of civilians and so that no pretext remains for continued strikes on villages and civilians.

In the first days of the invasion, which began while Joe Biden was in Ankara, Pindo boxtops indicated their support for the Turkish attack, hoping that it would help create better conditions for realizing the main Pindo goal of overthrowing Assad. But Monday saw an escalating series of warnings to Turkey from US officials. Brett McGurk, the Pindo Daesh envoy, wrote on Twitter:

We want to make clear that we find these clashes in areas where Daesh is not located, unacceptable and a source of deep concern. We call on all armed actors to stand down.

Ashtray Carter, at a media appearance with the visiting defense minister of India, said that he would be meeting with the Turkish defense minister, Fikri Iski, next week in Europe. He said:

We have called upon Turkey to stay focused, and not to engage… We’ve called on both sides not to fight one another, not to fight each other.

After announcing the upcoming Obama-Erdogan meeting, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters at the White House:

Further action against the SDF would complicate efforts to have that united front. At their meeting in China, Obama and Erdogan will discuss the situation in Turkey since the attempted military coup of Jul 15, as well as the war in Syria and the refugee crisis that it has produced.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government, which has exercised no control over the region in question for several years, condemned what it called “repetitive breaches, aggression and massacres” committed by Turkey against the Syrian people in the area around Jarabulus. The Syrian Foreign Ministry sent two messages Monday to UN Sec-Gen Ban, accusing Turkey of “full-fledged crimes against humanity.” Turkish boxtops reiterated their demands that the Syrian Kurdish forces had to cross back east of the Euphrates River or the Turkish military would continue to attack them. Mevlut Cavusoglu, the foreign minister, said:

So long as they don’t, they will be a target.

Posturing as the defender of Syrian Arabs against aggression by the Kurds, the stance adopted by ISIS as well, Cavusoglu claimed:

In the places where it has moved, the YPG forces everyone out, including Kurds, who do not think like it does and carries out ethnic cleansing.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus declared Monday that one goal of the Turkish military intervention was to prevent the YPG from gaining control of the entire Syrian-Turkish border, from the northeast to the Mediterranean Sea. He denied Turkey was entering the war in Syria, telling the Turkish broadcaster NTV:

If that happens, it means Syria has been divided. We are in favor of Syria’s territorial integrity. We are not pursuing an aim of becoming a permanent power in Syria. Turkey is not an invader.

Perhaps the most intransigent comment came from Omer Celik, a Turkish cabinet minister, who dismissed Pindo demands that the country fight ISIS but not the Kurdish YPG, saying:

No one has the right to tell Turkey to “fight this terror organization but don’t fight that terror organization.”

The Turkish government brands all Kurdish separatist forces as “terrorists,” whether located in Syria, Iraq or Turkey itself. The Erdogan regime regards the advance of the YPG in Syria as a deadly threat, when combined with the existence of a Kurdish Regional Authority in northern Iraq, and the renewed attacks by the PKK in south-eastern Turkey itself. While the Kurdish forces are divided politically, Ankara fears efforts to link up Kurdish speakers in south-eastern Turkey, northern Syria and northern Iraq in a future independent Kurdistan. The complex political situation is made even more complicated by the fact that the Syrian Arab forces allied with the Turks and with the Syrian Kurds respectively each have a Pindo government sponsor. The CIA arms and trains the Sunni militias that are loosely referred to as the FSA, while the Pentagon has helped create the SDF. The result is that separate Pindo-backed Syrian militias are fighting each other. According to press reports, Jaysh al-Tahrir, described by Washington as a “moderate rebel group,” has received several TOW anti-tank missiles from Pindostan and is presumably now using them against the SDF, which has Pentagon SOF embedded within it, who could now find themselves targeted by missiles supplied by their own government. This possibility only demonstrates the increasing recklessness and irrationality of the policy of US imperialism in Syria and throughout the Middle East. After 13 years of warfare, beginning in Iraq and now extending into the civil wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya, Pindostan has devastated a vast region. Washington bears the main responsibility for the deaths of several million people, the creation of tens of millions of refugees, and destruction on a scale not seen since WW2.

Turkish air strikes kill civilians in Pindo-backed invasion of Syria
Jordan Shilton, WSWS, Aug 29 2016

Turkey began bombing Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria Saturday as the Pindo-backed incursion continued to spread. At least 35 civilians were killed in the air strikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Pindo air power and military “advisers” have been backing the Turkish invasion since it was launched last Wednesday, ostensibly to clear Daesh from Jarablus, one of the last towns ISIS controls near the Turkish border. But Turkey’s overriding aim is to dislodge Kurdish militia forces previously backed by Washington from areas near the Syrian-Turkish border over which they have gained control, in order to prevent the establishment of a Kurdish enclave in the region. As for Pindostan, its motive for supporting the Turkish offensive is its desire to escalate the war in Syria and create the conditions for the overthrow of the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. Ankara’s invasion is inflaming the five-year-old civil war, which has already claimed the lives of close to half a million Syrians and reduced the country’s population by over 5 million. It is being carried out in conjunction with Pindo-Turkish-backed Syrian “rebels” who are hostile to Kurdish forces. Turkey claimed initially that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) would have one week to retreat east of the Euphrates River. But within a matter of hours, clashes broke out between the Syrian “rebels” mobilized by Turkey and the YPG. An FSA spox said over the weekend that its forces had seized 10 villages from YPG troops and four from Daesh. Turkey claimed to have killed 25 Kurdish “terrorists” in a series of bombing raids near Jarablus, and the first Turkish casualty was reported in connection with a grenade attack by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces.

The anti-Kurdish character of Turkey’s Euphrates Shield operation was underscored Saturday when video footage was released of members of the Sultan Murat brigade, a pro-Turkish Syrian “rebel” group, beating Kurdish prisoners in the village of Yusuf Beg and declaring them to be “PKK dogs.” Washington’s readiness to throw its weight behind such sectarian forces reflects its contempt for the region’s peoples and stands as an indictment of all those who argue, in the name of “human rights,” that Pindostan should intervene more aggressively in the conflict. The Pindo double-cross of its Kurdish allies underscores the fact that Washington’s chief consideration is the consolidation of its geo-strategic dominance of the Middle East through the installation of a puppet regime in Damascus. Following talks with Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, Jackass Kerry stressed that the Kurds had to remain part of Syria. He pointedly added, less than 48 hours after the initiation of the Turkish invasion:

We are for a united Syria. We do not support an independent Kurd initiative. Pindo support for Kurdish forces had been limited. We understand the sensitivities of our friends in Turkey with respect to this.

The intervention of what is in effect a NATO force into Syria heightens the potential for a direct clash between Russia and Pindostan, which could quickly spiral out of control and draw in the other major imperialist powers. Following the talks between Jackass and Lavrov, which failed to reach any resolution, the Russian foreign minister took a swipe at Pindostan and the Turkish incursion by noting that only Russia and Iran were operating inside Syria with the consent of the government. All other forces in the conflict, Lavrov said, were in violation of Syrian sovereignty. At a briefing Friday, White House spox Josh Earnest sought to blame Russia and the Syrian government for the ongoing violence in the country, even though US forces were behind the latest Turkish escalation. Earnest stated:

As long as Russia is willing to support the Assad regime’s murderous military tactics that often claim the lives of innocent women and children, the more difficult it is for a political solution to be reached.

He added later that Russia’s actions “only fuel extremism” in Syria. In response to a question on the creation of so-called safe zones within Syria, Earnest denied that this was being considered as a policy option by the Obama administration because it would require additional military forces. This was thoroughly disingenuous, given that Washington is backing a Turkish operation whose explicit goal is the creation of a zone in northern Syria controlled by Turkish troops. Violence continued to spread within Turkey following a bomb attack Friday by PKK-aligned militants, which killed 11 Turkish police officers and wounded 78 people. PKK rebels launched a grenade attack on the airport in Diyarbakir Sunday, and a Turkish soldier and 10 PKK militants were killed in clashes in Hakkari province. Speaking at a rally Sunday in Gaziantep, 30 km from the Syrian border, Erdogan made clear that Turkey’s intervention would be a long and bloody one. He indicated that Ankara would not distinguish between the PKK, with which it has been in a virtual state of war since last year, and the YPG in Syria. After vowing to wipe out Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Erdogan declared:

We are as determined about the PYD [Democratic Union Party], the separatist terror organisation’s Syrian wing. … We will continue until we uproot this terror organisation.

There has been a virtual blackout of the dramatic escalation of the Syrian conflict in the Pindo media and it has not been raised as a major issue by either candidate of the two big business parties in the presidential election campaign. News coverage of Syria on Sunday focused on reports accusing the Assad regime of dropping barrel bombs on a civilian neighborhood in “rebel” occupied Aleppo, while the killing of civilians by Turkish forces was passed over in virtual silence. Hillary Clinton, who enjoys the overwhelming backing of the military and intelligence establishment, has left no doubt about her readiness to vastly intensify Pindo military operations in Syria after November, even if this means direct confrontation with Russia. CNAS, which was co-founded by Michele Flournoy, a former Defense Dept official who is reportedly on the short list for the Sec Def position in a Clinton administration, called in June for a future Pindo administration to authorize military strikes against Assad’s forces.

obama & erdogan to meet sep 4 in china

Obama, Erdogan to meet Sunday in China
AFP, Aug 30 2016

WASHINGTON: Obama will meet Erdogan on Sunday in China on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit, with Syria high on the agenda, top aide Ben Rhodes announced Monday. Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security advisor, told reporters:

They will be discussing the counter-ISIL campaign and the fact that we need to stay united.

Turkey has launched military operations inside Syria against both Daesh and the Pindo-backed YPG, creating a dilemma for Washington. Clashes between the Turkish forces and the YPG over the weekend drew a sharp rebuke from the Pentagon, which called them “unacceptable.” A Pindo defense boxtop said the YPG had pulled back to east of the Euphrates river over the past day or so, as demanded by Ankara. Obama´s meeting with Erdogan will be their first since the failed coup attempt in Turkey on Jul 15. Tensions have risen sharply since then, with Turkey demanding that Pindostan extradite Fethullah Gulen.

indian “political class” not keen to be used against china

Pindostan & India sign military logistics agreement
Yeganeh Torbati, Idris Ali, Reuters, Aug 2, 2016

WASHINGTON – Pindostan and India signed an agreement on Monday governing the use of each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply, a step toward building defense ties as they seek to counter the growing maritime assertiveness of China. The agreement, a relatively mundane one concerning day-to-day military logistics, is nonetheless a milestone in the Pindo-India defense relationship because of the outsized political importance it had taken on in India, where it had touched on domestic sensitivities, experts said. The signing of the agreement will “make the logistics of joint operations so much easier and so much more efficient,” Ashtray Carter said in a news briefing with Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday. The agreement will allow the Indian and Pindosi navies to have an easier time supporting each other in joint operations and exercises and when providing humanitarian assistance, Parrikar said.

Washington’s desire for deeper security cooperation with India had been complicated without the signing of the logistics agreement as well as two other pacts that would allow for secure communications and the exchange of nautical and other data. The agreements are considered routine between Pindostan and its other defense partners (‘considered’ by whom? – RB). But India has had concerns such an agreement would commit it to hosting Pindo troops at its bases, or draw it into a military alliance with Pindostan and undermine its traditional autonomy. Ashtray & Parrikar reached an agreement “in principle” in April, but had yet to finalize the details. Ashtray has made closer military ties with India a priority, and established a special unit within the Pentagon last year to promote cooperation with that country. Parrikar’s visit to Washington this week marks the sixth interaction between the two top boxtops. Benjamin Schwartz, until last year the India country director at the Pentagon and now with the Pindo-India Business Council, said:

The signing of the logistics agreement indicates the priority the Modi government places on a closer defense relationship with Pindostan. For years, there has been tremendous misinformation put out into the Indian press about these agreements. What the signing of this shows is that the Modi government is willing to take and suffer the short-term political criticism of signing these things for the longer-term benefit of building the defense relationship with Pindostan.

Both Ashtray and Parrikar went to pains on Monday to make clear that the logistics agreement did not allow for basing of Pindo troops in India. Ashtray said:

It’s not a basing agreement of any kind.

Shane Mason, a research associate at the Stimson Center, said:

The debate over the logistics agreement has served as a vehicle for the distrust some of India’s political class (sic – RB) has toward Pindostan. Pindostan had previously imposed sanctions on India related to its 1998 nuclear test, although the sanctions were eased later. From the Pindosi perspective this was kind of a low hanging fruit. We have logistic support agreements with many, many other countries and in most cases it’s a relatively uncontroversial thing.

The Pentagon has made clear it wants to do more with India, especially in countering China, which Pindo boxtops say is risking stoking conflict through its claims in the South China Sea, a vital trade waterway. Without naming China, both Carter and Parrikar mentioned the importance of the free flow of trade to both countries. Parrikar said:

India and Pindostan have a shared interest in freedom of navigation and overflight and unimpeded commerce as part of rule-based order in (the) Indo-Pacific.

i say daesh is run by the toads

Israeli think tank: Don’t destroy ISIS; it’s a “useful tool” against Iran, Hezbollah, Syria
Ben Norton, Salon, Aug 23 2016

According to a think tank that does contract work for NATO and the Israeli government, the West should not destroy ISIS, because the so-called Islamic State “can be a useful tool in undermining” Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and Russia. Efraim Inbar, the think tank’s director, wrote in a paper published on Aug 2:

The continuing existence of IS serves a strategic purpose. By cooperating with Russia to fight Daesh, Pindostan is committing a strategic folly that will enhance the power of the Moscow-Tehran-Damascus axis. The West should seek the further weakening of Islamic State, but not its destruction. Counter-intuitively, a weak IS preferable to a destroyed one.

Inbar, an influential Israeli scholar, is the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, a think tank that says its mission is to advance “a realist, conservative, and Zionist agenda in the search for security and peace for Israel.” The think tank, known by its acronym BESA, is affiliated with Israel’s Bar Ilan University and has been supported by the Israeli government, the NATO Mediterranean Initiative, the Pindo embassy in Israel and the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs Cabal. According to its website:

BESA also conducts specialized research on contract to the Israeli foreign affairs and defense establishment, and for NATO.

In his paper, Inbar suggested that it would be a good idea to prolong the war in Syria, which has destroyed the country, killing hundreds of thousands of people and displacing more than half the population. As for the argument that defeating ISIS would make the Middle East more stable, Inbar maintained:

Stability is not a value in and of itself. It is desirable only if it serves our interests. Instability and crises sometimes contain portents of positive change. The West’s main enemy is not the self-declared Islamic State, but Iran. The Obama administration inflate the threat from IS in order to legitimize Iran as a ‘responsible’ actor that will, supposedly, fight IS in the Middle East. ISIS threatens the regime of Assad. If the Syrian government survives, many radical Islamists in the opposition forces, ie Jabhat al-Nusra and its offshoots, might find other arenas in which to operate closer to Paris and Berlin. Hezbollah is also being seriously taxed by the fight against IS, a state of affairs that suits Western interests. Allowing bad guys to kill bad guys sounds very cynical, but it is useful and even moral to do so if it keeps the bad guys busy and less able to harm the good guys.

Several days after Inbar’s paper was published, David Weinberg, director of public affairs at the BESA Center, wrote a similarly-themed op-ed titled “Should ISIS be wiped out?” in Israel Hayom. In the piece, Weinberg defended his colleague’s argument and referred to ISIS as a “useful idiot.” He called the Pindo nuclear deal with Iran “rotten” and argued that Iran and Russia pose a “far greater threat than the terrorist nuisance of Islamic State.” Weinberg also described the BESA Center as “a place of intellectual ferment and policy creativity,” without disclosing that he is its director of public affairs. After citing responses from two other associates of his think tank who disagree with him,  Weinberg concluded:

The only certain thing is that Ayatollah Khamenei is watching this quintessentially Western open debate with amusement.

On his website, Weinberg includes BESA in a list of resources for “hasbara.” It is joined by the ADL, MEMRI and WINEP. Weinberg has worked extensively with the Israeli government and served as a spokesman for Bar Ilan University. He also identifies himself on his website as a “columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel.” Inbar boasts an array of accolades. He was a member of the political strategic committee for Israel’s National Planning Council, a member of the academic committee of the Israeli military’s history department and the chair of the committee for the national security curriculum at the Ministry of Education. He also has a prestigious academic record, having taught at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown and lectured at Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Oxford and Yale. Inbar served as a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and was appointed as a Manfred Wörner NATO fellow. The strategy Inbar and Weinberg have proposed, that of indirectly allowing a fascist Islamist group to continue fighting Western enemies, is not necessarily a new one in USraeli foreign policy circles. It is reminiscent of the Cold War policy of supporting far-right Islamist extremists in order to fight communists and left-wing nationalists. In the 1980s, Israel adopted a similar policy. It supported right-wing Islamist groups like Hamas in order to undermine the PLO, a coalition of various left-wing nationalist and communist political parties. Avner Cohen, a retired Israeli official who worked in Gaza for more than 20 years, told the WSJ:

Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation.

As far back as 1957, in order to fight leftist movements in the Middle East, President Dwight Eisenhower insisted to the CIA:

We should do everything possible to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect.

total illogic

Turkey Deputy PM says not in war, no plan to stay in Syria: NTV
Gulsen Solaker, Reuters, Aug 29 2016

Turkey has not entered a war through its incursion into northern Syria and has no intention of becoming a permanent power there, broadcaster NTV cited Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus as saying on Monday. NTV cited Kurtulmus as telling reporters in Istanbul:

Turkey is not an occupying country. Turkey is not entering a war. Every party involved, including the Damascus government, was aware of the Euphrates Shield operation. Russia informed them, we are sure about that.

No one has right to tell Turkey who it can fight: EU minister
Ece Toksabay, Reuters, Aug 29 2016

No one has the right to tell Turkey which terrorist organisation it can fight, a Turkish minister said on Monday, as the NATO member faced criticism over an incursion into northern Syria which has seen clashes with Kurdish militia fighters. Turkey’s minister for European Union affairs, Omer Celik, told a news conference in Ankara:

No one has the right to tell us which terrorist organisation we can fight against and which one to ignore.

Turkey-backed forces pushed deeper into northern Syria on Monday, drawing a rebuke from Pindostan, which said it was concerned the battle for territory had shifted away from Islamic State.

ashtray

Ashtray calls on Turkey not to target Syria rebels
Reuters, Aug 29 2016

WASHINGTON – Sec Def Ashtray Carter called on Turkey to stay focused on fighting Daesh and not to target Kurdish elements of Syrian rebels. Ashtray said in a media briefing on Monday:

We have called upon Turkey … to stay focused on the fight against Daesh and not to engage Syrian Defense Forces, and we’ve had a number of contacts over the last several days.

Ashtray said JCoS Dunford had spoken with his Turkish counterpart on Sunday.

Pindostan says uncoordinated actions in north Syria help Islamic State
Reuters, Aug 30 2016

Uncoordinated operations and maneuvers in northern Syria will give Islamic State more space, the Pentagon said on Monday, calling on Turkey and Syrian opposition groups to stop fighting each other. In a statement, it also said that Pindostan had reiterated a demand that the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia cross back to the east of the Euphrates river and it understood that such a movement had “largely occurred.”

i have a sense of being mentally poisoned by all this everyday, sometimes

Three Pindo Allies Now Fighting Against Each Other in Northern Syria
Jason Ditz, AntiWar.com, Aug 29 2016

With Pindostan’s own war in Syria vague in both scope and endgame, they’ve been eager to amass allies recruit vassals that seem potentially useful toward some talking point or other. In having done so, however, they’ve picked up a motley crew of “Pindo-backed” groups that have wildly different goals. That’s been a recurring problem, but became dramatically more so this past week, when Pindo-backed Turkey invaded northern Syria, and brought with it a Pindo-backed rebel bloc that includes part of the FSA and the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham. Within 24-hours, both quickly got into a fight with the Kurdish YPG, who is also Pindo-backed, putting three Pindo allies supposed Pindo vassals into direct conflict with one another. Pindo boxtops have been quick to complain about the matter, arguing that fighting is “unacceptable” and that the battlefield in this area of north Syria along the Euphrates River is “getting too crowded,” but such factions were at odds from the start, making the conflicts only a matter of time. Indeed, throughout the Pindo war in Syria, they’ve been backing the Kurdish YPG despite explicit warnings from Turkey that it would lead to exactly what it led to, Turkish intervention to stop the Kurds from expanding further west. Turkey was very public about the Euphrates River being a “red line,” and invaded almost immediately after the Kurds captured their first city on the other side of the river. The Pindosi calls for everyone to just focus on Daesh rings extremely hollow, because while all of these factions got into proximity with one another by taking Daesh territory (largely with the help of Pindostan), the juiciest plums in the area are no longer in Daesh’s hands, and the fight against Daesh was always going to be followed up immediately with this fight.

suggests that the arabs “just don’t get” the necessity of uniting against hamas

In Hebron, Fatah faces a civil war at the polls
Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, Aug 28 2016

HEBRON, West Bank — Wednesday noon, downtown Hebron. Registration for the various slates for the upcoming local elections will be closing in roughly 36 hours, and it is hard to sense anything unusual in the air. Those who see themselves as candidates are meeting with their advisers and their friends in anticipation of the official announcement of their candidacy, but no election posters have yet gone up in the city. The well-known restaurants here, al-Khalil, Abu Mazen, the Pasha’s Palace, are full of customers, and one would be hard-pressed to say that the residents are all that excited about the municipal elections planned for Oct 8. The talk of the day, of all things, is an incident that took place here just about two weeks ago, when an argument between two kids devolved into a deadly armed battle between two clans in the city. Yet although the public in Hebron seems somewhat indifferent to the elections, for the Fatah party, tensions are as high as the stakes. These are the first elections in more than a decade in which voting is taking place at the same time in both Gaza and the West Bank, and Hamas and Fatah are going head-to-head. Whatever the result, it will affect not only the status of these organizations but also of their leaders, and could even seep into the relationship between the Palestinians and Israel. While these elections are local, and won’t directly change anything politically or security-related between Israel and the Palestinian, a sweeping win by the hardline Islamist movement Hamas is still liable to ramp up the amount of suspicion and lack of trust between the two peoples.

As in the other cities in the West Bank, the trouble in Hebron is that because there are so many secular slates of candidates, there is a reasonable chance that the more moderate camp of Fatah and groups of its ilk will split the secular vote, paving the way for victory by Hamas candidates. For Hamas’s leaders in Gaza and abroad, the vote marks an extraordinary opportunity to take stock of where public opinion stands. But fear of arrests by Israel or the Palestinian Authority have kept Hamas from openly running its members for office in the municipalities, forcing the movement to content itself with semi-independent figures who are known as Hamas supporters. The flip side is that should Hamas lose at the polls, the movement will be able to claim that the lists it ran were not really part of the group, exposing it to less potential damage in the vote than Fatah. Like the parliamentary elections of 2006, these elections are more liable to show the degree of weakness of Fatah and the secular camp than the strength of Hamas. One need only travel to nearby Yatta to see evidence of the risks of Fatah and the other moderates tearing themselves to bits. A 20-minute drive from Hebron, Yatta is a town that has metastasized into something resembling a city of 120,000 people. Although the elections are a month and a half away, the fighting has already begun. Attacks, violence, threats and the like have been reported, mainly between groups considered to be associated or affiliated with Fatah.

Hamas has refrained from running a list under its own name in Yatta. As in other locales, its leaders are in no hurry to present their candidates for fear of Israeli or Palestinian security. But it is promoting figures who are identified with it on independent or semi-independent lists. One of those candidate slates is the Joint List, headed by outgoing mayor Musa al-Muhamra, who resigned from his position just last week to run in the election. If his last name is familiar to readers, it is because the two terrorists who opened fire inside a restaurant at the Sarona market in Tel Aviv in June, killing four Israelis, are from the same clan, and the ruins of their demolished home can be seen fairly close to his own. Muhamra says:

My list contains representatives from the Arab Liberation Front, the Popular Front. “Several political movements are represented there. My list contains Hamas as independent representatives.

In the past, Muhamra was a member of the People’s Party movement, which is considered left-wing, but he quit over its support of the Oslo Accords in 1993. His lefty past makes him an odd bedfellow for Hamas, and shows the lengths to which the Islamist movement is willing to go in order to see its candidates defeat Fatah. The threat to Fatah is real enough that Maj-Gen Y Mordechai, who heads COGAT (which administers the West Bank) and top Shabak boxtops have warned high-ranking PA officials that going ahead with the elections could be a dangerous gamble. But Abu Mazen has insisted on holding the elections on schedule in order to demonstrate the existence of even a shred of democracy in the territories. When I asked Muhamra about Israel’s connection with the local elections, he said:

Unfortunately, there is more than one sign that [Israel] is interfering with the Palestinian elections, using people who are connected with the Israeli Civil Administration and also through direct interference by the State of Israel and its mechanisms to influence the elections.

When asked if that means people are being “pushed” as candidates by Israel, he says:

Exactly! It is pushing people, and it is playing a role in heating up the security situation and in the change that took place in the security situation on the Palestinian street as a result of this unfair and wrong interference!

Asked to explain how the Israelis are allegedly interfering, he answers:

It interferes in everything that happens on the Palestinian street that has to do with elections and acts to keep Palestinian citizens from voting freely in the local elections. Everybody knows that. It’s known on the street and in the Palestinian Authority that Israel is interfering directly in the elections. It has a certain specific attitude toward the various candidates.

While Muhamra uses the term “Mordechai’s friends” again and again to refer to the colleagues of the COGAT commander, he never mentions the name of Ismail Abu Hamid, the other candidate, who is at the center of a political furor in Yatta. Abu Hamid was mayor of Yatta until 1995. When the Palestinian Authority came into being, he left his position but is now considering running for mayor again. Abu Hamid, who has Israeli citizenship, is the owner of a large fuel station at the entrance to the town, with a home in Beit Safafa, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, as well as businesses in the territories and in Israel. A Hamas member he is not, and posters denouncing him as a collaborator with Israel have been put up all over town. When we meet him, in a throng of people, he says his decision will come in the next few hours. Indeed, the next day he filed as a candidate. Some of those around him are trying to help him decide, while others appear to be guarding him for fear that someone might try to harm him. Abu Hamid says that his people have found the ones who were putting up the posters. What he leaves out is the fact that the people putting up the posters were members of Fatah who did not want to see Abu Hamid run in the elections and split the moderate vote. He castigates those who criticize him for his connections with Israel, saying:

They fired a shot at me, but my cousins managed to get the gun away from them and hand it over to the Preventive Security Service. They put up posters against me saying that I was an agent, a member of Hamas, a member of the Civil Administration, that Israel had sent me. No Israeli ever spoke to me about this. It is known who is responsible for these posters, but the PA is not taking any action. It’s not doing a thing. I demand that the PA act on the issue and prosecute all those responsible. There is security coordination, after all. There is coordination with the PA. So they’re attacking me for my own connection with Israel?

sdThis image posted by Palestinian social media users overnight Saturday purports to show IDF soldiers outside the offices of a Hebron radio station in Nov 2015 (Source: Facebook)

It’s not only in Yatta that Fatah faces a threat from a candidate likely to nab votes from its clutches. One of the most popular radio stations in Hebron is al-Huriyya, headed by journalist Ayman al-Qawasmeh. Qawasmeh, 43, is considered a key figure in the city and the district. One can see photographs of Yasser Arafat in his office, as well as the Palestine soccer cup that the Al-Ahli soccer club from Hebron won only several weeks ago in a game against the team from Khan Yunis. Qawasmeh, who reopened the radio station in April after IOF shuttered it for for incitement to violence in November, has put his name up for mayor, at the top of a list of candidates entitled The Martyr Fahd al-Qawasmeh, named for the mayor of Hebron in the 1970s who was assassinated in Amman in 1984. Qawasmeh says the decision to run was not made by him. He tells me:

The heads of 19 of the city’s families met in the Harat a-Sheikh [neighborhood] and chose me.

When I ask him whether the list will represent only his clan, he assures me that it contains representatives of many other families. He says:

We took into account the city’s geographical division into many neighborhoods and the division into clans, and we chose people of extraordinary quality.

Known in the past as being closer to Fatah, Qawasmeh now says he is trying to distance himself from the movement, and demurs when asked even if he defines himself as Hamas or Fatah, saying:

We define our movement as representing the people on the street, who actually represent the majority. 40% of the people belong to the movements, while 60% have no connection with, and are not members of, any group. Those people are our constituency. Our representatives are members of the new generation. We have brought in new faces. Our list contains more than one woman.

He admits that he was pressured not to run, but repeats:

The decision to run for mayor was made for me.

As we speak, it is still not clear who from Hamas or Fatah will run against him come October. But from a look at the candidates on his list, which includes friends gathered in his office, it’s clear, as in the case of Abu Hamid, that he’ll take more votes from Fatah.

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