Syrian Industry Sues Turkey for ‘Terrorism, Looting’
Syria’s industry body has filed a case in a European court against the Turkish government for allegedly sponsoring terrorism and looting factories in strife-torn Syria, a report said on Monday.
The Syrian Chamber of Industry filed the case in an unspecified European country, and accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of backing armed gangs against the national interest of Syria, pro-government daily Al-Watan reported.
“This is a case aimed at asserting our rights, regardless of our political opinion,” Al-Watan quoted the chamber’s president Fares Shehabi as saying. He said that several Syrian unions have signed on to the complaint.
“We have the necessary documents... to prove Erdogan’s obvious involvement in sponsoring acts of banditry and terrorism.”
He said the chamber accuses Erdogan of contributing to the “transfer of factory (machinery from Aleppo province in northern Syria) to Turkey,” and of “supporting armed gangs who are committing crimes against the national economy”.
In January, Syria accused Turkey of plundering factories in Aleppo, once the country’s commercial hub, and called on the United Nations to help put a stop to what Damascus described as “an illegal act of aggression that amounts to piracy”.
“Some 1,000 factories in the city of Aleppo have been plundered, and their stolen goods transferred to Turkey with the full knowledge and facilitation of the Turkish government,” the Syrian foreign ministry then said in letters sent to the UN.
Shehabi said the legal complaint is aimed at compelling Ankara to “change its policy towards Syria” and to bring back the stolen goods.
Once allied to President Bashar Al-Assad’s government, Ankara broke ties with Damascus to support the unrest that erupted in March 2011.
Turkey is hosting some 200,000 Syrian refugees who fled the fighting in their country.
94 on Trial in UAE Coup Plot Charge
Ninety four people went on trial on Monday in the United Arab Emirates on charges of trying to overthrow the government, the latest in a growing crackdown in the Persian Gulf nation against perceived political or security threats inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings.
Amid tight security, about 200 relatives were bussed to the court in the heart of the capital Abu Dhabi for the morning hearing. The road leading the court was closed and authorities barred international media and several rights groups from attending, AP reported.
The defendants--unnamed doctors, academics, lawyers and other professionals--have been accused of building a secret network to plot the coup and raising money through real estate and other deals.
According to a government statement, the 94 are suspected of links to the Muslim Brotherhood and other unnamed parties they allegedly contacted for expertise and financial support in their plot. The detained include men and women who were arrested over the past year.
They are believed to be part of a loosely knit network known as Al-Islah or Reform which advocates a greater public voice in UAE’s tightly controlled affairs.
Intolerance for Criticism
Rights groups have criticized the crackdown and it has also raised tensions with Egypt, which is governed by the Brotherhood. In the Persian Gulf federation, the arrest of the 94 is seen as part of what appears to be growing intolerance for any criticism of the government or its leaders.
Last year, the UAE set stricter Internet monitoring and enforcement codes that include giving authorities wider leeway to crack down on web activists for offenses such as mocking the country’s rulers or calling for demonstrations. And last week, a scholar from the London School of Economics was barred from entering the country--prompting the school to pull out of a planned conference.
Calling for Greater Democracy
Several relatives waiting to be bussed to the hearing in Abu Dhabi said the charges against their relatives were baseless and said they hoped justice would eventually prevail either through the courts or by way of the country’s rulers. They said their family members had no links to the Brotherhood and only wanted to see greater democracy in the country, including giving the greater powers to the Federal National Council, the largely toothless public advisory body in the country.
“If anybody reads the accusations that are put in their file, they will surely observe these are only based on suspicions,” said Khalid Al-Roken, whose brother and nephew were among those on trial.
“They were meeting in houses so that means they have secret organizations arranging for a coup? All people have gatherings in their houses. Where does that constitute a threat to the government?”
Others, however, were less optimistic and questioned why it took authorities several months to charge the suspects. They said their relatives were held at undisclosed locations, in solitary confinement and in tiny rooms with nothing more than mattress on the floor.
By mid-day Monday there was no information from the authorities nor in the local media on the hearing.
About two dozen international lawyers and rights groups, including Amnesty International, had demanded to attend the session but did not receive permission.
Several reporters and activists were turned away by police before they reached the court and rebuffed when they tried to get answers from the Ministry of Justice.
5 Egyptians Killed in Port Said Clashes
From Page 1
Traffic in the Suez Canal, a vital waterway for global commerce, has not been disrupted, the canal authority said.
The interior ministry said it decided to move prisoners from Port Said, starting with the 39 remaining defendants over the February 2012 football violence, because it wanted to avoid unrest.
The court verdict, expected next Saturday, is for the 39 defendants in a case which resulted in death sentences in January for 21 other defendants, sparking clashes that killed at least 40 people.
Residents of Port Said and other canal cities have long complained that Cairo marginalizes them.
Last year’s football riot which killed 74 people, mostly supporters of a visiting Cairo team, exacerbated Port Said’s isolation, residents of the city say.
Overnight clashes also erupted in Cairo between police and protesters near Tahrir Square.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd as they approached a luxury hotel on the banks of the Nile which was damaged in clashes last month, a security official said.
Officials say calm has since been restored to the area. Egypt has been gripped by nationwide unrest in recent months, with protesters taking to the streets to denounce Mohamed Morsi for failing to address political and economic concerns.
Opponents accuse Morsi--elected in June last year after a turbulent period of military rule--of failing the revolution that brought him to the presidency and of consolidating power in the hands of his Muslim Brotherhood movement.
The Nile Delta has also seen its share of unrest, with a civil disobedience campaign declared in the province of Daqahliyah. One person was killed and dozens injured in clashes over the weekend between police and protesters in Mansura, the province capital.
Backdoor to Iran War Bill
By Robert Naiman
Remember when we pilloried John McCain for singing about bombing Iran?
Wouldn’t it be a scandal if it turned out that California Senator Barbara Boxer and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden were pushing the same agenda?
I have bad news, I’m afraid. They are.
Senator Boxer and Senator Wyden are original co-sponsors of a bill--the “Backdoor to Iran War” bill--being promoted by AIPAC that would endorse an Israeli attack on Iran. The bill, sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham (shocked!) says that if Israel attacks Iran, then the US should support Israel militarily and diplomatically. In other words, if Israel attacks Iran, then the US should join the attack.
That would be the opposite of current Obama administration policy, which is to try to distance the US from any Israeli attack. The effect of the policy being advocated by Boxer and Wyden would be to allow the Israeli prime minister--as things stand, Mitt Romney’s BFF Benjamin Netanyahu--to decide by himself when to involve the US in a war with Iran.
As Iran policy expert and former White House official Gary Sick says:
“Initiating a war is the gravest step any nation can take. This legislation would effectively entrust that decision to a regional state. Such a decision is an American sovereign responsibility. It cannot be outsourced.”
As if that weren’t bad enough, the AIPAC/Graham bill would ‘reiterate’ [sic] that US policy is “to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon capability and to take such action as may be necessary to implement this policy.”
But that’s not the Obama administration’s policy, and thus the word ‘reiterate’ is a lie. The Obama administration’s policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Not the same thing at all. Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon ‘capability’--whatever that means--is the policy that Netanyahu and AIPAC have long wanted to the US to have, not the policy that the US does have.
If the policy were to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon “capability,” then war could be justified at any time, because at any time it could be claimed that Iran is on the ‘verge’ of acquiring a nuclear weapon ‘capability’, since some would say that Iran already has a nuclear weapon ‘capability’ already. And that’s a key reason that the Obama administration has correctly resisted Netanyahu’s and AIPAC’s demands to make nuclear weapon capability a “red line,” rather than making the acquisition of a nuclear weapon a “red line”.
AIPAC and Graham have jumped the shark, and they’re trying to bring Senate Democrats with them. This is not the cautious, bipartisan AIPAC that some people think existed in the past. This is an AIPAC that is promoting a neocon Republican agenda, openly lobbying for war.
What’s particularly disturbing about Boxer and Wyden’s support for this bill is that in 2002, they both voted against the Iraq war. At the time, many people who opposed the war saw them as heroes for standing against an unjust war.
So, why would Boxer and Wyden advocate a policy that would make war more likely? Just to please their AIPAC contributors? Is that responsible behavior for a senator?
Most senators have good relations with AIPAC. They’re not all original co-sponsors of the “backdoor to war” resolution.
In fact, of the nine senators who voted no on the Iraq war who are still in the Senate, the other seven are not original co-sponsors of the “backdoor to war” resolution. The other seven senators who voted against the Iraq war and are not original co-sponsors of the AIPAC/Graham “backdoor to war” resolution are: Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). So it was perfectly possible to say no when AIPAC and Senator Graham came calling looking for original co-sponsors, because these seven senators said no.
After the Iraq war started in March 2003, some people said to me: look, we had huge protests in February, and they went to war anyway. Protesting didn’t do any good. I said to them: I’m very glad you protested in February, but your February protests were too late. The war train had already left the station. We needed your voice six months earlier, before the House and the Senate voted for war. And it would have been even more helpful to have your voice during the Clinton administration, when the House and the Senate committed themselves to a policy of regime change in Iraq.
On Tuesday, AIPAC lobbyists will be swarming the Hill, pressing Senators to sign the “backdoor to war” bill. They won’t be telling Senators and their staffs what they’re really being asked to sign on to. After all, the text of the AIPAC/Graham bill itself tells a lie, by claiming that the US policy is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon capability, when that is not US policy today.
If you don’t want your senators to sign the AIPAC/Graham “backdoor to war” bill, you should tell them so now, before they’re surrounded by AIPAC lobbyists. Once senators sign on to something, it’s very hard to get them to admit that they were wrong to do so.
Robert Naiman is policy director at Just Foreign Policy.
Source: Huffington Post
Suicide Attack in Iraq
Officials said a suicide attacker drove a car laden with explosives into a police checkpoint in northern Iraq, killing five policemen and wounding 12 other people.