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Syria and Iraq: Ethnic cleansing by Sunni and Shia jihadis is leading to a partition of the M East.

Conflicts among communities that once lived together in peace brings the prospect of a refugee crisis that will continue long after the fighting ends

Patrick Cockburn

Sunday 27 December 2015

Sectarian and ethnic cleansing by all sides in Syria and Iraq is becoming more intense, ensuring that there are few mixed areas left in the two countries and, even if the war ends, many refugees will find it too dangerous to return to their homes.

Communities which once lived together in peace are today so frightened of each other after years of savage warfare that the more powerful sect or ethnic group is forcing out the weaker one. This pattern is repeating itself everywhere from the Sunni towns captured by Shia militiamen in provinces around Baghdad to Christian enclaves in central Syria under threat from Isis, and in Turkmen villages just south of the Syrian-Turkish border being bombed by Russian aircraft.

The inability of Syrians and Iraqis to return home in safety means that Europe and the Middle East will have to cope for decades to come with an irreversible refugee crisis brought on by the war.

There are good reasons for everybody to be afraid, though outside powers play down the sectarian or ethnic agenda of their local Syrian proxies and allies. “We will end up like the Christians, being forced out of the country,” says a young Sunni photographer, Mahmoud Omar, who once lived in Ramadi in the overwhelmingly Sunni province of Anbar. Many fled when Isis captured the city in May which is now under assault by the military forces of the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad trying to recapture it. Some 1.4 million people from Anbar or 43 per cent of its population are displaced, according to the International Organisation for Migration.


Israel: Breaking the witness

December 19, 2015
Meron Rapoport

Israeli human rights organization are accustomed to being labelled as anti-patriotic and anti-Zionist, but even they were caught by surprise this week by the brutality of a video clip posted by the right wing Im Tirzu movement.

In the clip, a Palestinian-looking young man is approaching the camera with a knife in his hand, yet a moment before the seemingly inevitable stabbing, the faces of four activists from a leading human rights organizations appear on the screen in "wanted" mug pictures, and a voice warns that "before the next terrorist will stab you" he knows that these activists would defend him. "They are Israelis, they live here with us and they are 'implants'. When we fight terror, they fight us."

The clip was part of a campaign promoting what is termed the "implants" law, which would classify organizations receiving aid from foreign countries as "implants" and forbid them from contacting any government office or the Israeli army without special permission. Yet it is clear that the scope of the clip was wider than just promoting this law. It was meant to depict those human rights workers as the enemies from within, helping "Palestinian terrorists" to murder innocent Israeli citizens.

snip* The immediate reaction to Im Tirzu's clip was a surge in support for Breaking the Silence in social media and even from some former generals, who claimed that its work is important to Israel's moral values. More ex-soldiers volunteered to give evidence, and even donations to the organization have gone up. This may indicate the wakening up of the dormant Israel Left. It might also be its death throes.

- See more at: http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/israel-breaking-witness-733223900#sthash.6CpYJ6k1.dpu

Ex-IDF general takes out ad to support Breaking the Silence

Amiram Levin backs NGO that publishes alleged abuses by soldiers, says army should encourage such groups to speak out
By Times of Israel staff December 18, 2015


Obama Slavery Speech 2015: The President's Remarks On 'Nation's Original Sin' On 150th Anniversary


Obama Slavery Speech 2015: The President's Remarks On 'Nation's Original Sin' On 150th Anniversary Of The 13th Amendment
By Bruce Wright @bctw on December 09 2015 12:30 PM EST

U.S. President Barack Obama commemorated Wednesday the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment during a speech at the U.S. Capitol. In marking the landmark legislation that effectively abolished slavery in America, Obama ran down a list of milestones achieved in the country to show how far the nation has progressed, and how far the nation still has to go.​

Evoking images of lynching that “justice turned a blind eye to,” Obama said that slavery was wrong in every sense.” Noting that black people at one time couldn’t vote, fill most jobs or “protect themselves or their families from indignity or violence,” the president went on to say that “through all this, the call to freedom survived.”

He continued: “Maids, porters, students, farmers, priests, housewives – because of them, the civil rights law passed” and “doors of opportunity swung open.” Not just for blacks, Obama was sure to note, but also for white menial workers. “Freedom for you and for me. Freedom for all of us. And that’s what we celebrate today. The long arc of progress. Progress that is never assured, never guaranteed, but always possible,” he said.


Saudi Arabia’s unity summit will only highlight Arab disunity

Sixty-five opposition figures are supposed to achieve Arab unity in time for international talks

Robert Fisk

4 hours ago

The city of Riyadh is set to host 65 “opposition figures” at a summit to discuss Arab unity later this month Getty

Everyone opposing President Bashar al-Assad of Syria will be invited to Riyadh later this month with one significant exception: a delegation from the so-called “Islamic State”.

At least 65 “opposition figures”, in the words of Saudi Arabia’s state-controlled press, are supposed to achieve the impossible – Arab unity – in time for the new year’s round of multinational peace talks on Syria. But the whole shebang is likely to prove as mystifying as David Cameron’s 70,000 “moderate” fighters. There will, we are assured, be representatives of the “armed opposition”. But who are they? Will the head-chopping and sectarian al-Qaeda outfit Jabhat al-Nusra be represented, funded by sources in Qatar and posing as the new “moderates”? And then there’s the virtually non-existent “Free Syrian Army”, which will certainly be ready to fly to Riyadh, if only to prove it exists.

Will the Kurds be there? The Turks, who are spending more time bombing them than any other groups in Syria, will not approve. The Iranians have already expressed their anger, sneering that the Saudi conference will cause the failure of the international talks in Vienna. The US Secretary of State John Kerry has, of course, given his approval – why should Washington oppose an initiative by its “moderate” Arab ally, Saudi Arabia? But then, as British MPs now know all too well, it all depends what you mean by “moderate”.

And the poor old Germans, who are now committing 1,200 soldiers, a frigate and reconnaissance aeroplanes to the Syrian war – in a strictly non-combat role, of course – were huffing and puffing yesterday that Saudi Arabia was “a key partner in regional conflict resolution”. A necessary if dodgy assertion, after the German foreign intelligence service (the BND) dumped on the Saudi Defence Minister, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for his bloody intervention in the Yemeni war.

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