SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Pope Francis delivered a plea for peace in his first Easter Sunday message to the world, decrying the seemingly endless conflicts in the Middle East and on the Korean peninsula after celebrating Mass along with more than 250,000 faithful.
After the Mass in St. Peter’s Square, Francis shared in the crowd’s exuberance as they celebrated the belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead following crucifixion. Aboard an open-topped popemobile, Francis took a lighthearted spin through the joyous gatherers, kissing babies and patting children on the head.
One admirer of the pope and the pope’s favourite soccer team, Argentina’s Saints of San Lorenzo, insisted that Francis take a team jersey he was waving at the pontiff. A delighted Francis obliged, briefly holding up the shirt.
Since the start of his papacy on March 13, Francis has repeatedly put his concern for the poor and suffering at the centre of his messages, and the Easter speech he delivered from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica reflected his push for peace and social justice.
He said he wished a “Happy Easter” greeting could reach “every house and every family, especially where the suffering is greatest, in hospitals, in prisons.” Francis prayed that Christ would help people “change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace.”
As popes before him have, he urged Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace talks and end a conflict that “has lasted all too long.” And, in reflecting on the two-year-old Syrian crisis, Francis asked, “How much suffering must there still be before a political solution” can be found?
The pope also expressed desire for a “spirit of reconciliation” on the Korean peninsula, where North Korea says it has entered “a state of war” with South Korea. He also decried warfare and terrorism in Africa, as well as what he called the 21st century’s most extensive form of slavery: human trafficking.
Francis, the first pope from Latin America and a member of the Jesuit order, lamented that the world is “still divided by greed looking for easy gain.” He wished for an end to violence linked to drug trafficking and the dangers stemming from the reckless exploitation of natural resources.
Earlier, wearing cream-colored vestments, Francis celebrated Mass on the esplanade in front of the basilica at an altar set up under a white canopy.
The sun competed with clouds in the sky Sunday, but the square was a riot of floral colour in Rome, where chilly winter has postponed the blossoming of many flowers. Yellow forsythia and white lilies shone, along with bursts of lavender and pink, from potted azalea, rhododendron, wisteria and other plants.
Francis thanked florists from the Netherlands for donating the flowers. He also advised people to let love transform their lives, or as he put it, “let those desert places in our hearts bloom.”
The Vatican had prepared a list of brief, Easter greetings in 65 languages, but Francis didn’t read them. The Vatican didn’t say why not, but has said that the new pope, at least for now, feels at ease using Italian, the everyday language of the Holy See.
Francis also has stressed his role as a pastor to his flock, and, as Bishop of Rome, Italian would be his language.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The wealth from oil fields and geopolitical situation of Iraq are the main reasons behind the US’s invasion. In this invasion the US gained many advantages such as establishing military and political bases as well as dividing the oil wealth of Iraq with its allies like Britain, said Dr Bigdeli, a political analyst. In an exclusive interview with Shafaqna, Dr Bigdeli explained about some important points regarding the US’s invasion of Iraq. He said that those who were accused of 9/11 terrorist attacks were from Abu-Dhabi and Egypt and considering the fact that the US has military base in Abu-Dhabi, after the 9/11 attacks, the US decided to transfer the bases to Iraq because they found the connection between the terrorists and some Arab Sheikhs in Abu-Dhabi.
Dr Bigdeli said, George Bush considered Saddam an undesirable element and also his father in 1999 could not invade Iraq, so he decided to compensate for that to avenge his father’s failure. But most important point is that the US wanted to gain an independent political and military base in Iraq. The US claimed that Saddam had weapons of mass destructions but later on it was revealed that claim was false. Therefore, the US managed to take the control of the very important oil wealth and the geopolitical situation of Iraq. From the first days of Iraq invasion, the US started to distribute the oil wealth amongst its allies.
The loss of life by American soldiers does not seem important to the US because their main intention is to solidify their presence as we can see today in Afghanistan. The only difference is that Afghanistan is more important to the US than Iraq, said Dr Bigdeli. The problems for Iraqi people since the invasion and after it are at enormous proportions. This political analyst believes that the Iraqis are totally dissatisfied with the current situation and face an uncertain future. He added that after the world war two, Americans have been present in the Middle East and been occupying the countries with natural resources and geopolitical situations. Dr Bigdeli says, Afghanistan is very important to the US presence in the Middle East because it is a neighbour to countries like Iran, China, India, Pakistan and Russia.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –The 10th global case of the potentially fatal coronavirus was found in northern England. A patient is in intensive care suffering from the SARS-like infection, which has killed five so far, and sparked a global alert last September.
His symptoms developed on January 26th; laboratory investigations have revealed that that the patient is suffering from both the H1N1 swine flu infection and the NCoV (novel coronavirus) infection.
The UK’s Health Protection Agency has introduced stringent infection control measures around the patient, who is currently in intensive care in a hospital in Manchester, northern England. People who have had any contact with the patient are also being monitored.
The patient recently traveled to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Out of the 10 laboratory-confirmed cases to date, five were in Saudi Arabia, where three of the men infected had died. A further two cases were in Jordan, both of whom died. One was in Germany, in a patient from Qatar, and two were in Britain, where both are receiving treatment. The other patient, also from Qatar, was kept alive in St. Thomas’s Hospital, London, with the help of an artificial lung and remains in intensive care.
The WHO has advised that people “residing in or returning from the Arabian Peninsula and neighboring countries,”should be particularly wary. However, it does not recommend that travel or trade restrictions be implemented.
The UK’s Health Protection Agency said that “the risk associated with novel coronavirus to the general UK population remains extremely low and the risk to travelers to the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding countries remains very low.”The WHO said in September that preliminary investigations revealed the virus did not spread easily from person to person. Eighty percent of patients did not know each another.
Symptoms include acute breathing problems and kidney failure, and the World Health Organization has said that the infection generally appears similar to pneumonia. However, the current understanding of the disease is based on limited information, on account of the rarity of the cases.
It is still unknown how humans contract or transmit the virus, although viruses of the same group typically spread in the same way as flu, through sneezing or coughing.
Coronaviruses are named after the crown-like projections on the surface of the virus.
The infectious disease strongly resembles Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed 800 people in 2002 and 2003 in a global epidemic that originated in China, infecting around 8,000 people.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Across the Middle East, many schools are shut and thousands of homes are without power.
Heavy snow in Jerusalem on Thursday brought transport to a standstill.
The freezing conditions have brought misery for thousands of Syrians living in refugee camps in northern Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.
Two weather-related deaths were reported in Lebanon including that of a baby swept away in a flash flood.
Another four people died in the West Bank which has also suffered severe flooding.
Egyptian officials said five French tourists were injured when their minibus overturned on snow-covered mountain roads in the Sinai Peninsula.
In Jordan, police said a blizzard had blocked most roads in the capital Amman and other areas.
King Abdullah II ordered the army to help local authorities keep roads open and rescue those stranded by the severe conditions.
Power cuts were reported in Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.
The snow followed days of heavy rain and high winds across the Middle East and meteorological officials have described it as the worst storm to hit the region in 10 years.
Correspondents say the storm has also badly hit regional economies.
The Manufacturers Association of Israel warned it cost the country's industry at least about 300m shekels (£50m) in damages, most caused by flooding.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - President Obama dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Mideast on Tuesday, stepping up his administration's so-far futile attempts to broker an end to the bloody conflict in the Gaza Strip.
Clinton flew to Jerusalem to meet with Israeli Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahu, leaving abruptly from Cambodia, where she had accompanied Obama to a regional summit. From Israel, she is slated to travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah to meet with Palestinian officials before heading toCairo to talk with Egyptian leaders.
Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said Clinton's task was the "de-escalation of violence" in the Gaza Strip and that her hastily arranged trip was deemed by the president to be the best way to push toward that goal.
After days of working the phones while traveling in Southeast Asia, Obama determined it was time for "face-to-face discussions," Rhodes said.
"The center of gravity is in the region," he said.
Israeli and Arab negotiators have been meeting in Cairo trying in vain to hammer out a cease-fire that would halt the rocket attacks on Israel from Hamas militants and the Israeli airstrikes that have pounded Gaza for nearly a week, killing at least 100 people.
Rhodes repeated the White House's support for Israel in the conflict, saying the nation has a right to defend itself.
Rhodes did not name any leaders in the region, other than Netanhayu, on Clinton’s itinerary. The White House does not engage directly with Hamas because "it has not met the conditions set for many years, to renounce terrorism, to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to abide by existing agreements," he said.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — International mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said on Wednesday that Syria's civil war risked spreading across borders into an "all-consuming" conflict unless it was eventually addressed.
Brahimi, speaking after talks in Beirut, said he hoped this month's Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha offered a chance for both sides to cease fire and warned that the Middle East would suffer unless the violence was contained.
"This crisis cannot remain within Syrian borders indefinitely. Either it will be addressed or it will increase ... and be all-consuming," he said.
Brahimi has visited Sunni Muslim states which support rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad as well as Shi'ite Iran, Assad's strongest regional ally, in his search for a political solution to Syria's civil war
On Sunday he appealed to Iranian leaders to support a proposal for a ceasefire to mark Eid al-Adha. Speaking in Lebanon he said Syria's opposition had told him that any ceasefire by Assad's forces would be reciprocated immediately.
"We heard from everyone we met in the opposition, and everyone (else) we met that, if the government stops using violence 'We will respond to this directly'," he told reporters.
"We hope this will be a very small step that would save the Syrian people (the bloodshed) they are going through, because they are burying hundreds of people every day," he added.
Activists say more than 30,000 people have been killed in the fighting in Syria since the uprising against Assad's rule erupted in March last year. An April ceasefire brokered by Brahimi's predecessor, Kofi Annan, broke down within days as both rebel and government forces escalated their conflict.
"If the number of people buried during the Eid was reduced, perhaps this could be a start to bringing Syria back from the dangerous situation which it has slipped into... and we could talk to the parties inside and outside (Syria) to work towards helping the Syrian solving their problem," Brahimi said.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Mitt Romney gave a foreign policy speech on Monday that could be boiled down to one argument: everything wrong with the Middle East today can be traced to a lack of leadership by President Obama. If this speech is any indication of the quality of Romney’s thinking on foreign policy, then we should worry. It was not sophisticated in describing the complex aspirations of the people of the Middle East. It was not accurate in describing what Obama has done or honest about the prior positions Romney has articulated. And it was not compelling or imaginative in terms of the strategic alternatives it offered. The worst message we can send right now to Middle Easterners is that their future is all bound up in what we do. It is not. The Arab-Muslim world has rarely been more complicated and more in need of radical new approaches by us — and them.
Ever since the onset of the Arab awakening, the U.S. has been looking for ways to connect with the Arab youths who spearheaded the revolutions; 60 percent of the Arab world is under age 25. If it were up to me, I’d put Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, in charge of American policy in the Arab-Muslim world. Because we need to phase out of the cold war business of selling arms there to keep “strongmen” on our side and in power, and we need to get into the business of sponsoring a “Race to the Top” in the Arab-Muslim world that, instead, can help empower institutions and strong people, who would voluntarily want to be on our side.
Look at the real trends in the region. In Iraq and Afghanistan, sadly, autocracy has not been replaced with democracy, but with “elective kleptocracy.” Elective kleptocracy is what you get when you replace an autocracy with an elected government before there are accountable institutions and transparency, while huge piles of money beckon — in Iraq thanks to oil exports, and in Afghanistan thanks to foreign aid.
Meanwhile, in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq and Libya, we have also seen the collapse of the “Mukhabarat states” — Mukhabarat is Arabic for internal security services — but not yet the rise of effective democracies, with their own security organs governed by the rule of law. As we saw in Libya, this gap is creating openings for jihadists. As the former C.I.A. analyst Bruce Riedel put it in a recent essay in The Daily Beast, “The old police states, called mukhabarat states in Arabic, were authoritarian dictatorships that ruled their people arbitrarily and poorly. But they were good at fighting terror. ... These new governments are trying to do something the Arab world has never done before — create structures where the rule of law applies and the secret police are held accountable to elected officials. That is a tall order, especially when terrorists are trying to create chaos.”
How does the U.S. impact a region with so many cross-cutting conflicts and agendas? We start by making clear that the new Arab governments are free to choose any path they desire, but we will only support those who agree that the countries that thrive today: 1) educate their people up to the most modern standards; 2) empower their women; 3) embrace religious pluralism; 4) have multiple parties, regular elections and a free press; 5) maintain their treaty commitments; and 6) control their violent extremists with security forces governed by the rule of law. That’s what we think is “the answer,” and our race to the top will fund schools and programs that advance those principles. (To their credit, Romney wants to move in this direction and Obama’s Agency for International Development is already doing so.)
But when we’re talking to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or the new government in Libya, we cannot let them come to us and say: “We need money, but right now our politics is not right for us to do certain things. Give us a pass.” We bought that line for 50 years from their dictators. It didn’t end well. We need to stick to our principles.
This is going to be a long struggle on many fronts. And it requires a big shift in thinking in the Arab-Muslim world, argues Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., from “us versus them to us versus our own problems.” And from “we are weak and poor because we were colonized” to “we were colonized because we were weak and poor.” Voices can be heard now making those points, says Haqqani, and I think we best encourage them by being very clear about what we stand for. The Middle East only puts a smile on your face when change starts with them, not us. Only then is it self-sustaining, and only then can our help truly amplify it.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) —BBC’s interview with Tony Blair the ex- Prime Minister of Britain on 16 September 2012 attracted negative reactions from the media and NGO’s in the UK. The Guardian newspaper published an article on 17 September asking “Why is the deluded, self-justifying Tony Blair given airtime? Guardian article believes that Blair's radio interview on the Islamic film protests shows exactly why millions distrust what he and his cronies have done. Whilst in a letter of protest, Ministry of Peace (MoP) a UK based NGO condemned the interview with Blair accusing BBC of “lending him undeserved publicity to excuse his crimes.”
This wide-ranging interview included Blair’s views on his own religious beliefs, Islam, Middle East the global economic crisis, the movement of power from Europe to Asia and the concept of liberal interventionism with regards Iraq and Afghanistan. Regarding his religion, Blair said: "you can't divorce your religious faith from how you are as a person. I've been going to mass for 25 years, my kids were brought up Catholic, my wife is Catholic so it just felt home to me." He admitted that as a Prime Minister his decisions were not based on religion by saying "You can't ask God what to do".
Regarding the Catholic Church and recent child abuse scandals, Blair said: “Of course there is that dark side that has to be dealt with but it shouldn’t obscure the immense good the Catholic Church does and people of religious faith do.” On the issue of the Middle East, he thinks there are two narratives to Islam; one is that Muslims are returning to their Islamic roots and the other, going towards modernisation.
Guardian’s article expresses amazement at BBC’s decision to interview Blair by saying: “It's a cruel and unusual punishment for any Monday morning, having to listen to Tony Blair on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Why the programme's editors chose to interview the former prime minister on the controversy over the anti-Islamic film that has triggered demonstrations throughout much of the world is beyond me. The man who has done more than most to contribute to anti-western feeling among Muslims in the Middle East and Asia is called upon to tell us why Muslims shouldn't be angry about anything.”
In his interview Blair claimed the anti-Islam film was "laughable". He also said those who reacted against it by demonstrating were "very dangerous and wrong". Guardian’s article asks “why are Muslims so sensitive on this question?” Then it answers “Maybe the answer comes not just from one crude and racist film, but from long years of hurt caused by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, imprisonment without trial by western-backed dictators, extraordinary rendition and torture, the burning of the Qur'an by US troops in Afghanistan, and the air strikes, barely acknowledged in the west, which this weekend alone killed eight women and girls.”
Blair told BBC that in his opinion the great debate in the world at the moment is between the open- minded and the closed-minded. In response Guardian’s article said: “As usual, here Blair casts himself in the role of decent liberal. But some of his closest allies in these wars have been the US neocons, known for their narrow conservatism. And Blair himself has refused to ever acknowledge that he has done anything wrong over the invasion of Iraq. His ‘open-mindedness’ never extended to taking on board public opinion, which from that time has been consistently anti-war.”
Blair said that most of the killings in Afghanistan and Iraq were the victims not of western intervention but of sectarian killings. Of course documents and evidences show that millions of innocent people have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and millions have been displaced. Sectarian killings, destitute refugees pouring into neighboring countries such as Iran, are the result of war and occupation and the policies to divide the communities, a nasty imperialistic way of dominating other countries.
Guardian’s article concluded by saying “Millions in the Middle East and south Asia have suffered as a result of these wars. Hardly surprising therefore that they have reasons to dislike, distrust and oppose what Blair and his cronies have done – and what they are still doing. Blair is a great enthusiast for future wars, especially against Iran. He should be treated as the persistent offender that he actually is, not given primetime slots for yet more delusional self-justification.”
In another protest, Ministry of Peace published to the media, a letter they sent to the BBC’s Controller. The full content of that letter is presented below.
Asking Anthony Blair to comment on Middle East unrest is like asking a serial killer on the run to advise on appeasing his victims. It lends him undeserved publicity to excuse his crimes and further undermines the BBC's withering reputation for prejudicial handling of delicate issues abroad. Your interviewer on Today (16th Sept) challenged Blair on some of his defences but did not follow-up where they were wrong or deceptive. This needs to be redressed.
He tried to define 'democracy' saying: "A test of democracy is how you treat minorities..." He has an appalling record in mistreating minorities: In Afghanistan and Iraq, which he is complicit in illegally invading, all 'minorities', especially those opposed to brutal occupation, still suffer death, destruction and economic deprivation under the forces of avaricious 'democracies'. Failed. His insensitivity to Muslim people's anti-Western feelings is exposed by his naive question: "How do they think it is justified to kill people over [the anti-Islam film]?
" An answer is that angry mobs in the Muslim world justifiably react against agents of the 'Axis of Evil', namely the Triumvirate (US, UK + Israel), after decades of anti-Islamic wars, orchestrated by the neo-Con Friends of Israel. How does he 'think it justified' to kill Palestinian children for throwing stones at Israeli tanks? How is it 'justified' to bomb Gaza with phosphor bombs, killing 1,400 civilians, because their legitimate resistance fighters lobbed a few rockets over the [illegal] wall? How does he 'justify' killing over 2.5 million Iraqis (including about a million who died as result of the 13-year siege) on false allegations about their stocks of wmd? And how does he 'justify' the untold deaths and destruction in Afghanistan over harbouring one or two people accused, on faulty evidence, of the '9-11' attacks?
Blair's general excuse was: "Once you lift the lid off a repressive dictatorship, there will be [tribal conflict]." But stories of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship were part of contrived war propaganda to defame and disarm Iraq as a perceived threat to Israel. If true, why did this violence not feature at his trial? He was hung for signing Judicial Warrants for executing assassins in 1984, not for 'atrocities' endlessly exaggerated by the media. If his regime was so 'repressive', how did Iraq top the UNESCO statistics for improving education, health, water and electricity distribution in the Middle East by 1990?Who is the dictator now?
An underlying cause of unrest in the Middle East is the artificial designation of Arab countries by the 'Allies' after WW11, for strategic and monopolistic interests, with little regard for ethnic or religious differences. They needed strong men to hold the peace and make progress. But as they each come to the aid of Palestine, so they have been defamed and destroyed. So the main cause of unrest in the Muslim world is the hostile creation of Israel in Palestine, where the minority Palestinian population was abandoned by the UK to oppression by the violent Zionist Apartheid regime.
This has cheated them out of their Human Rights, let alone their land, for six decades while the Triumvirate covers up its crimes, by false and prejudiced propaganda, by illegal trade in arms and produce and by subverting legal process. Syria is now similarly blackened by false accusations from dissident foreign rebels used by the Triumvirate war-mongers to foster de-stabilization,
bloodshed and destruction. All this helps Israel, in the event of its threatened attack on Iran, to keep Syria busy at home. Mr Blair's last ditch defence was that 'elements in the Middle East are resisting 'modernization''.
Unfortunately, the Triumvirate model of 'modernization' consists in repression; surveillance; injustice; illegal war; military violence; lawless occupation; rape of resources; dictatorship from afar; corruption of the UN by arm-twisting and vetoes; twisting facts via media and advertising; financial fraud; unbridled usury; moral degradation; sexual licentiousness and; intolerance of religious and ethnic traditions and disciplines which hold societies together. Mr Blair said 'Globalization' was a benefit of modernization. But this is usurped by a few oligarchs who control global corporations, over-ride local economies and suck in profits at the expense of small traders. They are a menace to the autonomy, peace, security, wealth and values of Humanity.
As you can hopefully see, Western media and governments' misrepresentation of the Middle East situation is so far out of kilter with reality that it risks a backlash much greater than the local unrest in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Sudan. It is to be hoped the BBC will restore its self-proclaimed duty to uphold the truth by airing a response to Blair or, better still, a full and fair public debate about it. The situation will be worsened if Andrew Marr's publicity for crude arch Islamophobe, Salman Rushdie, is broadcast. Your response is awaited.
Yours without prejudice
Dr James B Thring
The Ministry of Peace is a private initiative to foster peaceful solutions to conflict
 see Kagan, D (2000) 'Rebuilding America's Defences' Project for a New American Century, Washington.
 see Ostrovski, V (1996) 'The Other Side of Deception' Harper Collins.
 see Thring, J (2002) 'Peace with Iraq' Ministry of Peace— www.shafaqna.com/English
By Abbas Hamrang
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Western and Gulf powers have launched the largest secret war operation since the Contra war in Nicaragua. The Battle of Damascus is not intended to topple President Bashar al-Assad, but to fracture the Syrian Army to better ensure the domination of Israel and the U.S. over the Middle East. While the city is bracing for a new assault by foreign mercenaries, Thierry Meyssan takes stock of the situation.
Over the past five days Washington and Paris have launched an attack operation dubbed “Damascus Volcano and Syrian Earthquake." It is not a new campaign of aerial bombardment, but a secret military operation, similar to the one used in Central America during the Reagan era.
Within a few days, 40 to 60 000 Contras, mostly Libyans, entered the country, most often via the Jordanian border. The majority of them are attached to the "Syrian" Free Army, a secret operations front for NATO under Turkish command. Some are affiliated with groups of fanatics, including Al-Qaeda, under Qatar’s command or factions of the Saudi Royal Family, the Sudairi. Along the way, they took some border posts, and then moved to the capital where they have sown confusion by attacking random targets: police groups or isolated military.
Wednesday morning, an explosion destroyed National Security headquarters where some members of the National Security Council were meeting. It cost the lives of General Daoud Rajha (Defence Minister), of General Assef Shawkat (Deputy Minister) and of General Hassan Turkmani (Assistant Vice President of the Republic). The mode of attack remains uncertain: it could have been either a suicide bomber or a stealth drone.
Washington hoped that the partial decapitation of the military would lead some senior officers to defect with their units, or even to turn against the civilian government. This has not happened. President Bashar al-Assad immediately signed decrees appointing successors to the fallen heroes and the seamless continuity of the state was ensured.
In Paris, Berlin and Washington, sponsors of the operation continued their unworthy game of condemning terrorist action while reaffirming their political and logistical support for the terrorists. Shamelessly, they concluded that the responsibility for these killings lay not with the culprits, but with the victims in that they had refused to resign under pressure and surrender their homeland to western rapacity.
Caracas and Tehran have sent their condolences to Syria, stressing that the attack was sponsored and funded by Western and Gulf powers Moscow has also expressed condolences and affirmed that requesting Security Council’s sanctions against Syria amounted to political support for the attacking terrorists.
National television channels have begun to broadcast military clips and patriotic songs several times per hour. Interrupting programs, the Information Minister al-Omran Zou’bi called for the mobilization of everyone: the time for political disputes between government and opposition is over. The enemy is at the gates. Referring to my Komsomolskaya Pravda article , he warned his countrymen of the imminent launch of the propaganda operation prepared by Gulf and Western channels in order to demoralize the people. Then, he put the lie to Gulf network propaganda according to which a mutiny had broken out in the fourth division and explosions had devastated its main barracks.
National channels have aired public service announcements several times hourly showing how to capture authentic programs on Atlantic Bird in case Arabsat and Nilesat satellites were interrupted.
In Lebanon, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah recalled the brotherhood of arms uniting Hezbollah and Syria against Zionist expansionism, and assured the Syrian Army of its support.
The bomb attack was the signal for the second part of the operation. Commandos infiltrated the capital, then attacked various more or less chosen targets. Thus, a group of about a hundred Contras attacked the house adjacent to my apartment in the cry of Allah Akbar. A senior military official resides there. Ten hours of uninterrupted fighting ensued.
Whereas at the beginning of the night, the Army responded with measure , the order was later given to use force without restraint. It was no longer a question of fighting against terrorists destabilizing Syria, but of saving the country facing an undeclared alien invasion.
Aircraft went into action to destroy columns of mercenaries heading to the capital.
By late morning, calm was gradually returning to the city. The Contras and their collaborators were forced to withdraw everywhere. Traffic was resuming on major roads, and checkpoints were installed in the city center. Life was returning to normal. However, we still hear scattered gunfire here and there. Most businesses are closed, and there are long queues outside bakeries.
Everyone expects that the final assault will be launched on the night of Thursday to Friday and all day Friday. There is no doubt that the Syrian army will emerge victorious again, the power relationship being to its advantage. The conscript army is supported by the population, including the domestic political opposition.
As expected, Arabsat and Nilesat had disconnected the Ad-Dunya television signal in the middle of the afternoon. The Twitter account of Ad-Dounia has been hacked by the CIA in order to disseminate false messages announcing a retreat of the Syrian Army.
Gulf channels have announced a currency collapse prelude to the downfall of the State. The Governor of the Central Bank, Adib Mayaleh, intervened on national television to denounce the new disinformation and confirm the exchange rate of 68.30 Syrian pounds per U.S. dollar.
Reinforcements have been deployed around the Umayyads Square to protect public television studios considered a priority target for all enemies of freedom. Replacement studios have been installed in the Rose of Damascus Hotel where United Nations observers are basking. The presence of these officials, who allowed the perpetration of this attack on the capital without interrupting their idleness, is the de facto protection for Syrian journalists risking their lives attempting to inform their fellow citizens.
At the Security Council, Russia and China have for the third time vetoed a draft Western and Gulf resolution to enable international military intervention. Russian and Chinese representatives have tirelessly denounced propaganda aimed at portraying the foreign attack against Syria as a revolt repressed with bloodshed.
The Battle of Damascus is expected to resume tonight.
Thierry Meyssan is a French intellectual, founder and chairman of Voltaire Network and the Axis for Peace Conference. He is a professor of International Relations at the Centre for Strategic Studies in Damascus. His columns specializing in international relations feature in daily newspapers and weekly magazines in Arabic, Spanish and Russian. His last two books published in English : 9/11 the Big Lie and Pentagate.
Translation by Roger Lagassé
SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — Speaking a foreign language, especially English, can mean at least two to three times the amount of money earned in the Middle East compared to those who are not fluent in a foreign tongue, a new Euromonitor International and the British Council in Egypt study revealed.
According to the findings, foreign languages are key to breaking from lower paying positions.
Nic Humphries, the British Council’s Director of English in the MENA region said, “The study shows that the English language can change lives throughout the Middle East, as it opens many doors to those who can speak it, allowing them to develop in various sectors.”
Across the region, those able to speak English were even better suited for positions, the study found, with those earning an additional amount of income.
In Tunisia, English speakers earn five percent more than regular employees, while in Egypt those able to speak English received nearly double the salary of those who didn’t.
But Iraq was the highest, with the capital Baghdad paying premium rates for English, up to 200 percent more, the report said.
The report said that English speakers were fast growing, with the region to see a five to 7 percent increase over the next four years as foreign companies demand more multilingual employees.
“Young people in the region are aware of the importance of the English language – not only in the job market, but also in the online world, as most social networks are administered in English,” said the report.
The report did advise governments in the region to boost the quality of English education in public schools, arguing that the highest quality of English instruction remains in the private sector.
“Yet, most people do not have enough income to send their children to private schools, and thus, the level of spoken English language in MENA is not as advanced as it should be,” it noted, meaning a cycle of wealthy English-speaking families are maintaining their stranglehold on the job market, especially in countries such as Egypt.— www.shafaqna.com/english/