Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Energy company executives are lying about their costs and ever increasing profits - here's the proof - time to nationalise the energy industry

The energy companies claim their profits are not increasing. Yet Scottish Power’s own 2012 accounts show it more than doubled its net profits from £267 million in 2011 to £648 million in 2012 (1)

The energy companies claim the vast majority of any profits they do make are re-invested in new generation capacity. Yet in February Scottish Power’s parent company Iberdrola announced it was spending £890 million from Scottish power revenues on share dividends (2) – (4).

It also spent £23,000 sponsoring Labour, Conservative, SNP and Plaid Cymru conferences and events in 2012 (5). An investment to ensure no real regulation or renationalisation maybe? If so, cheap even if it had been ten times that.

Accountants who looked at the Big Six energy firms’ accounts, interviewed by Channel 4’s Dispatches, found they all issue similar share dividends of hundreds of millions of pounds a year (6).

The accountants also found the firms’ claims on their profit margins include only retail, excluding big profit margins on generation and wholesale of energy, with all six firms being generators as well as retailers (7).  

Office of National Statistics and Ofgem figures show that while wholesale energy costs increased by 38% between 2005 and 2010, customers bills increased by 73%, almost twice as much. Add in that the companies were making profits on generation and wholesale and energy costs can’t possibly account for the increase in bills (8).

A study by Manchester University in 2011 found the big six energy firms systematically profiteering over years by raising their prices by the full amount every time wholesale gas costs increased, but, when costs fell, delaying passing on the savings to customers and only passing on part of them when they did (9).

Ofgem, the energy regulator, recently estimated that energy companies have been increasing prices by up to 10% a year while wholesale gas costs are falling (10).

It also estimates that their profit margins have doubled in the last year , while infrastructure costs, wholesale energy costs and green levies have added just £35 to the average bill in the same period (11) – (12).

It's not the green levies -
they're under 4% of the average household’s bill

The energy companies, PM David Cameron and the Daily Mail want you to believe that the main cause of rising bills has been “immoral” green levies added to them by the last government (13) – (15).

Yet most of these levies have nothing to do with renewable energy or reducing CO2 emissions. They’re to reduce energy bills for the poorest households.

Only four are ‘green’ measures – the Renewables Obligation, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the Carbon Price Floor, and Feed In Tariffs, which allow consumers to save on their bills by generating electricity using small wind turbines or rooftop solar panels. The four together put £50 or about 3.95% on the average household’s annual bill of £1,267 a year (16) – (17).

So green measures are under 4% of the average bill ; apart from the fact that as global demand for fossil fuels is rising faster than supply, if we don’t invest in alternatives to increase supply, energy prices will rise faster.

The other two main government levies on fuel bills, the Energy Companies Obligation and the Warm Home Discount, reduce bills for people on low incomes. The final two, and smallest, are for Smart Meters and Better Billing to reduce all consumers’ energy bills. These four non-green levies add £61 a year to the average bill or 4.81% (18) – (19).

Privatisation is only a success for the 1%
at everyone else’s expense :
time for renationalisation

Privatisation of the energy industry is only a success for the wealthy executives and major shareholders of the companies, at everyone else’s expense.

The average income of the majority of people in the UK relative to inflation has been falling ever since the financial crisis ; by 2% in this year to August alone (20).  

Almost one in four people in the UK are spending their savings to pay energy bills, one in six have gone into debt to pay them. Thousands are estimated to die each winter due to illnesses caused by cold due to being unable to afford to heat their homes (21) – (22).

Yet the energy companies’ executives are still increasing their profits and spending them on dividends. That kind of massive redistribution of wealth from the vast majority to a tiny and already wealthy minority is unacceptable. Nationalisation must follow.

Even with the economy growing again, so much existing and new wealth is being taken from the majority by a small majority that economic growth is not stopping the majority continuing to get worse off. Unless we want to end up like Brazil, with a tiny wealthy elite and everyone else in poverty, we have to reverse the inequality.

What you can do

 

 

  • Email letters or text messages to newspapers, magazines and radio and TV programmes when they’re discussing energy prices to call for renationalisation

 

Sources

 

(1) = SCOTTISH POWER UK PLC DIRECTORS’ REPORT AND ACCOUNTS

FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2012, page 3,
http://www.scottishpowerrenewables.com/userfiles/file/Consolidated_Report_%26_Accounts_Scottish_Power_UK_plc_2012.pdf

(2) = BBC News 11 Jul 2013 ‘Profits soar at Glasgow-based Scottish Power’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-23270146

(3) = Financial Times / ft.com 17 Feb 2013 ‘Iberdrola defends £890m UK unit dividend’,
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b020833a-78fb-11e2-b4df-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2jiPiV4Q5

(4) = thisismoney.co.uk 17 Feb 2013 ‘Spanish owner takes £900m dividend from Scottish Power despite pushing through a big increase in bills for British customers’,
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-2280170/Scottish-Power-defends-900m-Iberdrola-dividend.html

(5) = SCOTTISH POWER UK PLC DIRECTORS’ REPORT AND ACCOUNTS

FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2012, page 14,
http://www.scottishpowerrenewables.com/userfiles/file/Consolidated_Report_%26_Accounts_Scottish_Power_UK_plc_2012.pdf

(6) = Channel4.com 04 Nov 2013 ‘Dispatches delves into the accounts of the Big Six energy suppliers’, http://www.channel4.com/info/press/news/dispatches-delves-into-the-accounts-of-big-six-energy-suppliers

(7) = See (6) above

(8) = BBC News 11 Jan 2012 ‘Energy bills explained’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15352599

(9) = Guardian 02 Dec 2011 ‘Big six energy firms face fresh accusations of profiteering’,
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2011/dec/02/energy-firms-accusations-profiteering-electricity

(10) = Guardian 29 Oct 2013 ‘Energy firms raised prices despite drop in wholesale costs’,
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/oct/29/energy-firms-raised-prices-as-wholesale-costs-fall

(11) = Independent 29 Oct 2013 ‘Big Six energy producers under fire over excessive profits ahead of grilling by MPs’,
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/big-six-energy-producers-under-fire-over-excessive-profits-ahead-of-grilling-by-mps-8909608.html

(12) = Guardian 29 Oct 2013 ‘Energy firms 'overcharge by £3.7bn a year'’, http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/oct/29/energy-firms-overcharge-accusation

(13) = Telegraph 29 Oct 2013 ‘Scrap green tax and energy bills will fall, say Big Six’, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/10413396/Scrap-green-tax-and-energy-bills-will-fall-say-Big-Six.html

(14) = theguardian.com 23 Oct 2013 ‘David Cameron pledges to reverse 'green charges' on energy bills’,
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/oct/23/energy-industry-competition-test-cameron

(15) = Daily Mail 13 Oct 20134 ‘Red Ed's great green obsession... and the real reason YOUR bill has gone through the roof’, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2456760/Red-Eds-great-green-obsession--real-reason-YOUR-gone-roof-The-hidden-subsidies-household-pays-year-thanks-Milibands-laws.html

(16) = theguardian.com 23 Oct 2013 ‘Green energy levies: how much do they cost and will they be cut?’, http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/oct/23/green-energy-levies-how-much

(17) = Full Fact 23 Oct 2013 ‘How much do 'green taxes' add to energy bills?’,
http://fullfact.org/factchecks/energy_bills_green_taxes-29250

(18) = see (10) above

(19) = See (11) above

(20) = guardian 16 Oct 2013 ‘UK unemployment data: 0.7% average pay rise dwarfed by inflation’,
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/oct/16/uk-unemployment-average-pay-rise-inflation

(21) = see (6) above

(22) = BBC News 19 Oct 2011 ‘Rising energy bills causing fuel poverty deaths’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15359312

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Would Kerry support a military coup like that in Egypt in the US, against Obama, where millions of birthers, racists and Tea Party-ers would support it?

US Secretary of State John Kerry claims the military coup against elected President Mohammed Morsi was “restoring democracy” because it was supported by millions of people (‘Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood 'disappointed' by John Kerry's remarks’ Guardian 1st August)  (1).

While there were many na├»ve liberals and socialists who backed the coup, there were also large numbers of former members and even MPs from Mubarak’s NDP party (2) – (4).

The Tamarod movement which ran the petition against Morsi didn’t even realise it’s main funders were businessmen who supported Mubarak’s regime (5).

Some of Tamarod’s members left the movement shortly before Morsi’s overthrow, saying it had been infiltrated by Mubarak supporters and secret police (6).

Morsi was accused of “mismanaging the economy” resulting in petrol shortages and electricity black outs. Yet these crises miraculously disappeared as soon as Morsi was overthrown – because they too were organised by pro-Mubarak businessmen and probably the military, which owns much of the Egyptian economy, including many petrol stations (7) – (8).

There are millions of birthers, tea-party-ers and racists in the US who would support a military coup against President Obama, who they also continually claim is acting unconstitutionally and undemocratically. Would that make it legitimate?

Kerry also claims “the military did not take over”.

General Sissi has made himself Commander in Chief of the military, Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (9).

Sissi appointed the interim President, Adly Mansour, originally made a judge by Mubarak, who lifted the ban on members of Mubarak’s dictatorship standing in elections (10).

The Chief Prosecutor sacked by Morsi for acquitting Mubarak’s security officials of ordering protesters killed is back (11) – (13).

Secret police units disbanded after Mubarak was overthrown are back too (14).

So the military and officials from the old dictatorship are back in power.

Some of the supposedly liberal and democratic opposition also seem more personally ambitious than concerned with democracy. For instance the head of the Tamarod movement told General Sisi that holding a referendum on whether Morsi could stay on as elected President was unacceptable – he had to be “recalled” or overthrown. This leader has also said he has an ambition to be President of Egypt himself (15).

Having some civilians, some of them dupes from among the secular protesters, who naively believe they are in charge, the rest former dictatorship members, as a fig leaf for military rule is something any impartial observer should be able to see through.

The coup government has killed more protesters in a month than died in a year under Morsi – and unlike under Morsi, when each side’s protesters were killing the other, with as many pro as anti Morsi protesters killed, this time almost all the dead are anti-coup protesters and Morsi supporters.

As long as the Obama administration continue supporting the military coup and bloody counter-revolution by the military and old regime any claims Obama makes of supporting democracy or human rights are empty.

 

(1) = Guardian 03 Aug 2013 ‘Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood 'disappointed' by John Kerry's remarks’,
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/02/egypt-muslim-brother-john-kerry-remarks

(2) = Wall Street Journal 05 Jul 2013 ‘Egyptians Open Door to Mubarak's Allies’,
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324260204578587872719316196.html ; see 4th, 17th, 19th , 20th paragraphs ‘Mohammed Abul Ghar, the head of Egypt's secular-leaning Social Democratic Party and a leader in the National Salvation Front, the leading opposition group to Mr. Morsi…After Mr. Morsi claimed authority over Egypt's judiciary in November, many of the young secular activists behind the revolution against Mr. Mubarak made common cause with Mr. Shafiq's supporters and other NDP loyalists… The party decided to accept former NDP members who weren't close to Mr. Mubarak and whose records were clean of corruption allegations… Gamal al Zini, a former NDP parliamentarian from the Nile Delta city of Damiet, said he has had regular meetings with local youth activists, Tamarod leaders and members of Mr. ElBaradei's Constitution Party since May..

(3) = Egypt Independent 20 Feb 2013 ‘Former NDP members to form new party’,
http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/former-ndp-members-form-new-party

(4) = Ahram Online 11 Feb 2011 ‘NDP Offshoots’,
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/33/104/26897/Elections-/Political-Parties/NDP-Offshoots.aspx

(5) = NYT 10 Jul 2013 ‘Sudden Improvements in Egypt Suggest a Campaign to Undermine Morsi’, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/world/middleeast/improvements-in-egypt-suggest-a-campaign-that-undermined-morsi.html?_r=2&

(6) = Reuters 08 Jul 2013 ‘The Egyptian rebel who "owns" Tahrir Square’, http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/07/08/egypt-protests-tamarud-idINDEE96702M20130708 ; ‘One Tamarud activist who spoke to Reuters said she resigned three days before the giant protest because she was concerned that the secret police and former Mubarak supporters were infiltrating the movement. …"Many of the people I'd worked with left, and some of the new faces I knew were felul (remnants), nostalgic for Mubarak, or justifying the work of state security."

(7) = (5) above

(8) = Al Jazeera 15 Feb 2012 ‘Egypt military's economic empire’,
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/02/2012215195912519142.html

(9) = Independent 24 Jul 2013 ‘Showdown in Cairo: Egyptian general demands permission to take on the ‘terrorists’’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/showdown-in-cairo-egyptian-general-demands-permission-to-take-on-the-terrorists-8729903.html

(10) = BBC News 04 Jul 2013 ‘Profile: Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23176293

(11) = Al Ahram Online 04 Jul 2013 ‘Prosecutor-general sacked by Morsi reinstated’,
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/75698/Egypt/Politics-/Prosecutorgeneral-sacked-by-Morsi-reinstated.aspx

(12) = Amnesty International 02 Jun 2013 ‘Egypt: Mubarak verdict fails to deliver full justice’,  http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/egypt-mubarak-2012-06-02 ; ‘However, the acquittal of all the other defendants, including senior security officials, leaves many still waiting for full justice…Six senior security officials, including former head of the now-disbanded State Security Investigations service (SSI), were acquitted…Corruption charges against two of Mubarak’s sons, Gamal and Alaa, and his business associate Hussein Salem, who was tried in absentia, were dropped.

(13) = VOA News 08 Jun 2013 ‘Anger Erupts in Egypt Over Mubarak Retrial’, http://www.voanews.com/content/anger-erupts-in-egypt-over-mubarak-trial/1677958.htmlAnger erupted Saturday in the Egyptian court retrying ousted president Hosni Mubarak for complicity in the killings of hundreds of protesters, after a judge barred the participation of lawyers representing families of those killed.

(14) = Guardian 29 Jul 2013 ‘Egypt restores feared secret police units’,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/29/egypt-restores-secret-police-units

(15) = Reuters 08 Jul 2013 ‘The Egyptian rebel who "owns" Tahrir Square’,
http://in.reuters.com/article/2013/07/08/egypt-protests-tamarud-idINDEE96702M20130708

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Baradei and the secular opposition need to make common cause with Morsi's supporters before they become the military's next targets themselves

El Baradei and much of the secular opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi in Egypt either don’t understand the meaning of democracy or else don’t believe in it. El Baradei rejected every offer of negotiations and compromise with Morsi, the elected President, blocking talks when other opposition leaders and groups like liberal Ayman Nour agreed to them. The demands of the opposition were ludicrous; including that Morsi, the elected President, resign before negotiations even begin (1) – (2).

Democracy doesn’t mean one faction getting everything their own way. In a democracy that’s impossible. It’s the opposite of democracy. Real democracy is a compromise between every single person in a country in which each has an equal say in the negotiated compromise reached.

By refusing any compromise or negotiations; and by welcoming a military coup that placed Mubarak’s people and the military back in power, El Baradei and much of the secular opposition have also made themselves powerless dupes (3).

There is only one way for them to redeem themselves and restore a chance of preventing a counter-revolution in which General Sisi will be the new Mubarak in all but name; they need to call for the military to release the elected President and the hundreds of other members of the Brotherhood arrested since the coup and then begin immediate negotiations with them.

When both Morsi protesters and their opponents were killing each other in ones and twos at a time El Baradei was claiming that Morsi had given up any right to remain in power.

Now the army and their hired thugs with swords and knives have killed hundreds of protesters against the military coup, the vast majority of whom were peaceful and unarmed.

They are likely the same thugs working for Mubarak’s people and the military who attacked anti-government protesters under Morsi . The opposition believed what they wanted to believe and have been taken for fools by the dictatorship and the military (4).

The military has introduced censorship, closing down every Muslim party’s media outlets as well as Al Jazeera Egypt and arresting their staff. This allows state TV to prevent Egyptians seeing that the protests against the coup are just as big as the pro-military and pro-coup protests (5).

 They’ve even taken cameras from CNN reporters to prevent them filming. If there’s nothing to hide why would they do this?

They’ve used live ammunition to massacre protesters twice – and showed their continued dishonesty by claiming they hadn’t (6) – (7).

Yet somehow this is all supposed to be acceptable because the elected President who was overthrown came from a Muslim party and the protesters are mostly from religious Muslim parties.

Everything is supposedly forgivable because those doing it are secular. Mubarak was secular. The military are secular and have killed, tortured, sexually abused and raped more protesters than any other group in Egypt. Stalin was secular. Pinochet was secular. Saddam was secular. Assad is secular. Hitler was secular.

I’m an agnostic and would never, ever vote for a religious party, but many Egyptians voted for Morsi and Muslim parties and their votes should count. Being secular does not make you automatically right and being religious does not make you automatically wrong.

Some point out that many voters in the Presidential elections in Egypt were voting against Shafiq, Mubarak’s former Prime Minister, rather than for Morsi. That’s true, but unexceptional. In pretty much every democracy with a first-past-the-post system a large proportion of voters are voting against the other party or candidate as much or more than for the person or party they vote for.

This winner-takes-all version of democracy is far from ideal in my opinion and not full democracy, which should involve every vote counting equally, for instance by a multi-member executive to give everyone equal say.

However it does not make a military coup, the jailing of the elected President and the massacre of protesters against this coup legitimate.

Protesters in Egypt who claim it wasn’t a coup are frankly full of shit. They are basically saying democracy is them getting their own way, by whatever method. They’re also fooling themselves if they believe they have any real power now.

The military and Mansour (Mubarak’s man) and the Chief Prosecutor (ditto) and General Sissi have the real power as long as they can play the secular opposition to the military and Mubarak off against the Muslim parties’ opposition.

Mansour (the interim President) has given the Prime Minister the power to call a state of emergency and the secret police units disbanded after the revolution are back (8). General Sissi, who lead the coup, has made himself not only Commander In Chief of the armed forces, a position only held by elected heads of government in a democracy, but also Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (9).

So if the Prime Minister refuses to call a state of emergency, Sissi just gets Mansour to sack him – and Sissi, as Deputy Prime Minister, becomes Prime Minister and calls a state of emergency.

I hate the current Conservative government in the UK and didn’t vote for them. I’m completely against most of what they’re doing and so is most of the country. I was equally opposed to about 60 or 70% of the last Labour government’s more right wing policies. I don’t believe elections should be a blank cheque that let governments do whatever they want till the next election comes either. Does that mean a military coup and massacring those parties’ supporters would make it all better?

Only an idiot would think so. The same is true in Egypt. Negotiations, power sharing and referenda on major issues are the way to real democracy – not backing military coups and massacres by the old guard of the dictatorship.

Those who claim that Islam and democracy are incompatible are wrong, because there are multiple interpretations of Islam, many of them progressive enough to be entirely reconcilable with democracy.
For instance El Tayeb, the head of the Islamic University in Cairo, which was given the power to rule on the meaning of sharia and Islam by the constitution passed by referendum under Morsi,
is a moderate who has said women should not wear hijabs or head coverings as there’s nothing in the Quran about them (10) – (11).

Tayeb has also condemned the killing of Muslim Brotherhood and other anti-coup protesters by the army.

Not only are those saying Islam and democracy are irreconcilable wrong though, they are helping out Al Qa’ida and similar extreme Jihadist groups who also condemn any involvement in elections and democratic politics as un-Islamic (12).

Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the head of Al Qa’ida has claimed that elections “did not follow Sharia” (i.e Al Qa’ida’s extreme version of Islamic Sharia law) (13).

True, in the month or so before the coup Morsi did begin to appoint and ally with some extreme Sunni Islamist groups and clerics. This was foolish but likely an act of desperation after over a year of trying to get the opposition to agree to negotiate had failed and when these groups seemed like his only allies against a military coup.

The opposition to Morsi claim that if Morsi had been allowed to remain in office Egypt would no longer have been a democracy. Obama’s opponents in the US make the same claims about him with as little evidence.

If this coup is allowed to stand and the current line among the media and governments that the Muslim Brotherhood must “be reasonable” and “make concessions” which are to include accepting the overthrow of the first democratically elected President in Egyptian history, the jailing of members of his party and the massacre of peaceful protesters, then it makes Al Qa’ida’s propaganda about how we don’t really mean it when we say we support democracy, about how secularism is corrupt and hypocritical, about how Islam and democracy are irreconcilable seem true.

Then there will be a lot more radicalisation of Muslims in Egypt and worldwide, more terrorist attacks like the one that killed the police recruits and civilians recently. General Sisi and the Egyptian military like to pretend the coup and the killing of protesters is a response to this terrorism. In fact they’re the cause of it (14).

It’s just like Tony Blair and George Bush’s ludicrous nonsense about how it was necessary to invade Iraq to stop Al Qa’ida, who weren’t even in the country until after the invasion.

Compulsive liars, dishonest rulers and those who can’t tell the difference between reality and what they want to believe will all try to pretend that the relationship of cause and effect can just be reversed wherever they feel like it. As the White Stripes pointed out, they can’t.

El Baradei and the rest of Morsi’s opponents need to wake up, see their own faults and stupidities which are as severe as any of those of Morsi or the Brotherhood. They need to call for his release and sit down to negotiate before the revolution is over and Sisi place as a new version of Mubarak, this time the puppet master controlling the President rather than the President himself, is so firmly entrenched in power he can turn his guns on the secular opposition, having crushed the Muslim opposition.

The US government meanwhile can shut up about how it promotes democracy and human rights as long as it keeps funding the coup regime and refuses to even call the coup a coup.

(1) = AP / Independent 11 Dec 2012 ‘Masked gunmen attack opposition protesters as crowds gather for rallies in Egypt’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/masked-gunmen-attack-opposition-protesters-as-crowds-gather-for-rallies-in-egypt-8405979.html , 12th paragraph, ‘Cracks in the opposition's unity first appeared last weekend when one of its leading figures, veteran opposition politician Ayman Nour, accepted an invitation by Morsi to attend a "national dialogue" meeting. On Monday, another key opposition figure, El-Sayed Badawi of the Wafd party, met Morsi at the presidential palace.’

(2) = LA Times 08 Dec 2012 ‘Egypt protesters demand that Mohamed Morsi step down’, http://articles.latimes.com/2012/dec/08/world/la-fg-egypt-rallies-20121208

(3) = CNN 08 Jul 2013 ‘ElBaradei: Morsy's ouster was needed so Egypt cannot 'fail'’, http://edition.cnn.com/2013/07/04/world/meast/egypt-elbaradei

(4) = LA Times 28 Jan 2013 ‘Egypt protests continue; opposition rejects talks with Morsi’, http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/28/world/la-fg-wn-egypt-protests-opposition-rejects-talks-morsi-20130128

(5) = Al Jazeera 04 Jul 2013 ‘Egypt's military shuts down news channels’, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/07/2013740531685326.html

(6) = Guardian 18 Jul 2013 ‘At the second kneel of the prayers, the attack began’,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/18/egyptian-security-attack-on-morsi-supporters

(7) = NYT 27 Ju 2013 ‘Hundreds Shot in Cairo Attack on Morsi Rally’, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/world/middleeast/egypt.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

(8) = Guardian 29 Jul 2013 ‘Egypt restores feared secret police units’,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/29/egypt-restores-secret-police-units ; 5th paragraph ; ‘Ibrahim's announcement came hours before Egypt's interim prime minister was given the power to place the country in a state of emergency – a hallmark of Egypt under Mubarak.

(9) = Independent 24 Jul 2013 ‘Showdown in Cairo: Egyptian general demands permission to take on the ‘terrorists’’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/showdown-in-cairo-egyptian-general-demands-permission-to-take-on-the-terrorists-8729903.html

(10) = The National Review 06 Jul 2013 ‘Elections Are Not Democracy’, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/352778/elections-are-not-democracy-andrew-c-mccarthy

(11) = The National (UAE) 21 Mar 2010 ‘Mubarak appoints a new chief of Al Azhar’, http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/africa/mubarak-appoints-a-new-chief-of-al-azhar#page1

(12) = CRS Report for Congress May 2005 ‘Al Qaeda: Statements and Evolving Ideology’, http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RL32759.pdf ; see pages 10 to 11

(13) = Egypt Independent 29 Jul 2013 ‘’, http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2013/07/06/al-zawahiri-calls-for-victims-and-sacrifices/

(14) = guardian.co.uk 24 Jul 2013 ‘Egyptian general calls for millions to protest against 'terrorism'’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/24/egypt-general-sisi-protest-terrorism

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Why war criminal Tzipi Livni and the British government are hypocrites when they say Hezbollah are terrorists who target civilians

Tzipi Livni , the Israeli government, the EU and the British government all say Hezbollah are terrorists because they kill civilians. Yet Livni oversaw Israeli war crimes including deliberate killing of civilians in the Gaza War ; and the British government is still arming Israel and changed the law to protect Livni from prosecution

Former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni is also writing for the Guardian on how it’s right for the EU to designate Hezbollah as terrorists because they kill civilians (1)

After the 2008/2009 Gaza War Amnesty International reported Israeli forces killed hundreds of civilians, many where there was no fighting, some in their own homes, others wounded or ambulance crews. It said many deaths couldn’t be explained as “collateral damage” (2) – (3).

Only two Israeli soldiers have been jailed for crimes in that war ; one for 7 months, for stealing a credit card, another for 45 days for “illegal use of a weapon” rather than for killing two unarmed women in cold blood (4) – (8).

Tzipi Livni was Israel’s foreign minister during that war and an enthusiastic advocate of it. She continues to deny Israeli forces committed any crimes in it (9).

The UN reports Israeli forces are still torturing Palestinian children and using them as human shields (10).

The UK government approved £8 billion of arms exports to Israel in the last few years (11).

It also changed the law to give the Attorney General, a political appointee, the ability to decide personally on whether to bring war crimes charges rather than leave it to the courts to decide. It did this specifically to allow war criminals like Livni to come here without facing charges, after a warrant for her arrest was issued in the UK after the Gaza war. The change was also planned under the previous Labour government (12) – (15).

By October 2011 Livni was visiting the UK safe from any prosecution (16).

Hezbollah does say it wants to destroy the state of Israel and force all Israeli Jews to leave what Hezbollah see as entirely Palestine.

That’s wrong in my opinion, but then Hezbollah was formed in the first place to fight the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon which lasted from 1982 to 2000 and involved the torture and killing of  civilians and prisoners by both Israeli forces and Lebanese Christian militias backed by them (17).

These included the notorious Phalange militia, modelled on Hitler’s Brownshirts, and the South Lebanon Army who together carried out the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres of Palestinian civilians in Lebanon with the assistance of the Israeli military.

What’s more, while Hezbollah have deliberately killed civilians in some cases, the supposed moral difference between Israeli forces and Hezbollah is if anything that Israeli forces frequently deliberately kill civilians despite having advanced optics and drone cameras which allow them to see exactly who they’re targeting more of the time.

During the 2006 Lebanon war Hezbollah fired rockets into Israel which are so inaccurate that they had no idea what they would hit and clearly didn’t care if it included civilians. There was also recently a murder of a Lebanese civilian protesting against Hezbollah in Lebanon  (18) – (19).

However the Israeli air force, who have highly accurate weapons and drones with high resolution long range cameras which allow them to see their targets clearly, repeatedly bombed clearly marked ambulances across the country and killed civilians in multiple attacks with drones and air and artillery strikes (20) – (21).

 The worst incident, but one of many, was the Qana massacre, which was a slight variation on the similar massacre of Lebanese civilians by Israeli forces with artillery using drones for spotting carried out at Qana ten years earlier in another offensive in 1996.

They claimed that this was caused by Hezbollah hiding among civilians to fire rockets. Human Rights Watch investigators who were former members of the US military investigated on the ground and talked to both Lebanese eye-witnesses and the Israeli military. They found that Hezbollah rockets were in fact fired from emplacements in the hills many miles from the nearest town or village and that there was no evidence of Hezbollah hiding among civilians (22).

So given British, French and American support and arms for Syrian and Lebanese Sunni militias who include terrorists, and their similar support for Israel, the Hezbollah designation looks a lot more like propaganda than principle.

(1) = guardian.co.uk 22 Jul 2013 ‘Should the EU designate Hezbollah a terrorist organisation?’ For column by Tzipi Livni, Against by Tariq Ali,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jul/22/eu-hezbollah-israel?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487&commentpage=3

(2) = Amnesty 02 Jul 2009 ‘Impunity for war crimes in Gaza and southern Israel a recipe for further civilian suffering’, http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/impunity-war-crimes-gaza-southern-israel-recipe-further-civilian-suffering-20090702

(3) = Amnesty UK 02 Jul 2009 ‘Gaza conflict: First comprehensive report says both sides committed war crimes’, http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=18294 (same summary of report as (5) above but on Amnesty UK website)

(4) = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaza_War#Prosecutions

(5) = Ynet news (Israel) 11 Aug 2009 ‘Soldier who stole credit card during Gaza op jailed’, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3760488,00.html

(6) = Haaretz 21 Aug 2010 ‘IDF soldiers demoted after convicted of Gaza war misconduct’,
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/idf-soldiers-demoted-after-convicted-of-gaza-war-misconduct-1.325850 ‘The Israel Defense Forces court on Sunday demoted two combat soldiers convicted of inappropriate conduct during Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip in 2008. The two…staff sergeants were demoted to …sergeant, as well as receiving suspended sentence terms of three months each. The soldiers were convicted last month of forcing a 9-year-old Palestinian boy to open a number of bags they thought might contain explosive materials during Operation Cast Lead.’

(7) = BBC News 13 Aug 2012 ‘Israeli ex-soldier cleared of Gaza manslaughter charge’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19243246 ‘Court approves plea bargain for soldier charged with ‘Cast Lead’ manslaughter’, ‘Israeli prosecutors have dropped a manslaughter charge against a former soldier in connection with the deaths of a Palestinian woman and her daughter during the offensive on Gaza in 2009. But the sergeant was jailed for 45 days after being convicted of unlawful use of a firearm in a separate incident as part of a plea deal, his lawyer said.’

(8) = Haaretz 12 Aug 2012 ‘IDF soldier sentenced to 45 days for death of mother, daughter in Gaza war’,
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/idf-soldier-sentenced-to-45-days-for-death-of-mother-daughter-in-gaza-war-1.457649

(9) = Jerusalem Post 03 Apr 2011 ‘Cast lead was justified with or without Goldstone’, http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Livni-Cast-Lead-was-justified-with-or-without-Goldstone

(10) = CBS News 21 Jun 2013 ‘U.N. report accuses Israeli forces of using Palestinian children as human shields, abusing children in custody’,
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57590368/u.n-report-accuses-israeli-forces-of-using-palestinian-children-as-human-shields-abusing-children-in-custody/

(11) = Guardian 17 Jul 2013 ‘UK approves £12bn of arms exports to countries with poor human rights’,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/17/uk-approves-arms-exports-human-rights

(12) = Guardian 30 May 2010 ‘Ministers move to change universal jurisdiction law’,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/may/30/change-universal-jurisdiction-law

(13) = Jerusalem Post 15 Sep 2011 ‘UK amends law to protect Israelis from prosecution’,
http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/UK-amends-law-to-protect-Israelis-from-prosecution

(14) = Guardian 14 Dec 2009 ‘British court issued Gaza arrest warrant for former Israeli minister Tzipi Livni’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/dec/14/tzipi-livni-israel-gaza-arrest

(15) = Guardian 05 Mar 2010 ‘Plan to change war crimes law delayed by general election’,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/05/war-crimes-law-israel

(16) = Ynet news (Israel) 06 Oct 2011 ‘Livni arrives in UK for first visit since war crimes law amended’, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4132091,00.html

(17) = BBC News 23 May 2000 ‘Q & A: Leaving Lebanon’, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/636594.stm

(18) = HRW 06 Dec 2007 ‘Why They Died : Civilian Casualties in Lebanon during the 2006 War’
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2007/09/05/why-they-died

(19) = Haaretz 09 Jun 2013 ‘Anti-Hezbollah protester killed outside Iranian embassy in Beirut’, http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/1.528697

(20) =HRW 06 Dec 2007 ‘Why They Died : Civilian Casualties in Lebanon during the 2006 War’
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2007/09/05/why-they-died

(21) = HRW 19 Dec 2006 ‘The “Hoax” That Wasn’t : The July 23 Qana Ambulance Attack’,
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2006/12/19/hoax-wasn-t

(22) = See (74) above

The EU designation of Hezbollah as terrorists is hypocrisy when the British government which pushed for it is arming Syrian and Lebanese Sunni groups involved in terrorist attacks on civilians

The EU’s designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation stinks of hypocrisy and propaganda (1).

Hezbollah didn’t claim responsibility for the bus bombing in Bulgaria which has been used to justify the designation. Al Qa’ida did (2). The Bulgarian government, a NATO member seeking US protection from Russia, has reversed its story twice on whether Hezbollah was responsible (3) – (6).

The US, British, French, Croatian Turkish, Saudi and Jordanian governments have co-operated to arm the nebulous ‘Free Syrian Army’ (FSA) and unspecified “more effective” groups who are supposedly “secular” (but then the British government claims the FSA is “secular” and anti-sectarian when the vast majority of its fighters are actually Islamist ; and some of them extreme sectarian Islamists) (7) – (19).

Many Syrian rebels, including FSA members, are responsible for car bombings and the assassination or torture and summary execution of civilians branded “collaborators” or who just aren’t Sunni Muslims (20) – (29).

Some of the arms NATO and the Saudis sent are already in the hand of Al Nusrah, the Syrian branch of Al Qa’ida, but not to worry the British government and the FSA says they guarantee they won’t let any more get to extremists when they send more and the FSA even promise to give all the weapons back after the war, despite its supposed commander having no control over his nominal officers,  many FSA fighters taking orders from no-one at all ; and some FSA brigades being fakes set up purely to get arms to sell on (30) – (35).

NATO governments claim Hezbollah has no business being in Syria, but it’s no secret that the aim of the NATO and Sunni Arab dictatorships arming Syrian rebels is to break the alliance between Iran and Hezbollah via Syria, leaving them vulnerable to being picked off separately (36).

The Sunni rebels in Syria also include many Lebanese Sunni Jihadist volunteers and militias who’ve been involved for many months and probably since the start of the rebellion (37) – (40).

While Syrian army artillery have hit villages inside Lebanon before due to Syrian rebels and Lebanese Sunni militias crossing the border, Syrian rebels and Lebanese Sunni militias have also attacked both Hezbollah and Shia civilians inside Lebanon repeatedly, even before Hezbollah became openly involved in Syria (41) – (45).

The New York Times quoted one Syrian “anti-government activist” claiming rocket attacks on Shia areas of Lebanon were justified as they would ‘turn “honest and free shi-ites” against Hezbollah”’ and ‘“we are defending ourselves”’ (46)

In May film and photos emerged of Lebanon’s most extreme sectarian Sunni cleric and militia leader, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Asir, meeting General Idris, the nominal head of the FSA, in Syria. Asir has repeatedly called for Lebanese Sunnis to fight in Syria, organised cross border attacks by Sunni militias into Syria ; and had his militia fight Hezbollah and the Lebanese army inside Lebanon. (47) – (51).

Asir has also threatened Lebanon’s Christian minority, accusing Christian politicians of siding with Hezbollah and using the army against Sunnis (52).

(The picture at the top of this post, copied from Brown Moses’ blog, is Aseer, not a Hezbollah cleric)

Lebanon’s Christian politicians are unlikely to oppose all Sunnis but are likely determined not to suffer the way Iraqi and Syrian Christians have. Sunni extremist militias and terrorist groups have run riot in Iraq since the invasion. There and in Syria since the uprising they’ve killed Iraqi and Syrian Christians and forced huge numbers to flee as refugees (53) – (54).

(1) = guardian.co.uk 22 Jul 2013 ‘EU puts Hezbollah armed wing on terrorist blacklists’,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/22/hezbollah-eu-terrorism-blacklist

(2) = Independent 04 Jun 2013 ‘UK bid to blacklist Hezbollah faces EU opposition’,
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/uk-bid-to-blacklist-hezbollah-faces-eu-opposition-8644603.html

(3) = NATO news 20 Jun 2013 ‘Bulgaria praised for its commitment to the Alliance’,
http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/news_101540.htm

(4) = Haaretz 17 Jul 2013 ‘Bulgaria: New evidence in Burgas bombing implicates Hezbollah’,
http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.536307

(5) = BBC News 05 Feb 2013 ‘Hezbollah linked to Burgas bus bombing in Bulgaria’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-21342192

(6) = NYT 15 Jun 2013 ‘Bulgaria Pulls Back on Blame for Hezbollah’,
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/06/world/europe/bulgaria-tempers-blame-for-hezbollah-in-bombing.html

(7) = NYT 25 Feb 2013 ‘Saudis Step Up Help for Rebels in Syria With Croatian Arms’,
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/26/world/middleeast/in-shift-saudis-are-said-to-arm-rebels-in-syria.html

(8) = NYT 24 Mar 2013 ‘Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.’,
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/world/middleeast/arms-airlift-to-syrian-rebels-expands-with-cia-aid.html?pagewanted=all

(9) = Guardian 14 Jun 2013 ‘US says it will arm Syrian rebels following chemical weapons tests’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/13/syria-chemical-weapons-us-confirm

(10) = WSJ 16 Jun 2013 ‘U.S. Begins Shipping Arms for Syrian Rebels’, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323419604578569830070537040.html

(11) = The American Conservative 19 Dec 2011 ‘NATO vs Syria’ by Phillip Giraldi (former CIA officer),
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/nato-vs-syria/

(12) = CBS News 28 Mar 2013 ‘AP: "Master plan" underway to help Syria rebels take Damascus with U.S.-approved airlifts of heavy weapons’ , http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57576722/ap-master-plan-underway-to-help-syria-rebels-take-damascus-with-u.s.-approved-airlifts-of-heavy-weapons/
(see 14th paragraph ‘The Arab official, the diplomat and the military experts said the material was destined for "secular" fighters not necessarily linked to the Free Syrian Army, the nominal umbrella group for the rebels. Jordan and other Arabs have been critical of the FSA, which they accuse of having failed as an effective or credible force because its elements lack the fighting skills and military prowess.’)

(13) = ‘The FSA Doesn’t Exist’ by Professor Aron Lund of the Swedish Institute for International Affairs, http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/the-free-syrian-army-doesnt-exist/

(14) = BBC Democracy Live 11 Jul 2013 ‘MPs call for parliamentary consent before arming Syria’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/house-of-commons-23274091

(15) = On the FSA being overwhelmingly Sunni and Islamist go tothe blog post on this link and scroll down to sources (37) to (39) at the bottom of it

(16) = CBC News 07 Dec 2012 ‘Free Syrian Army an uneasy mix of religious extremes’
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/12/06/f-vp-bedard-syrian-rebels.html (scroll down to sub-heading ‘Abandoning Secularism’)

(17) = Syria Comment 03 Apr 2013 ‘Sorting out David Ignatius’, by Around Lund, http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/sorting-out-david-ignatius/

(18) = Swedish Institute of International Affairs UIBrief No.13 , Sep 2012, ‘Syrian Jihadism’, by Aron Lund, http://www.ui.se/upl/files/77409.pdf , pages 10 to 17

(19) = UNoCHA IRIN news 13 May 2013 ‘"Sometimes you cannot apply the rules" - Syrian rebels and IHL’, http://www.irinnews.org/printreport.aspx?reportid=98021

(20) = Reuters 23 Dec 2011 'Analysis: Syria bombings signal deadlier phase of revolt', http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/23/us-syria-bombings-idUSTRE7BM18T20111223 , 'Beirut-based commentator Rami Khouri said he doubted the government would have hit its own security targets, suggesting that the bombings could have been the work of armed rebels,....Hilal Khashan, political science professor at the American University of Beirut, also said he did not believe that the Syrian government was behind the bombings’

(21) = New York Times 10 May 2012 'Dozens Killed in Large Explosions in Syrian Capital', http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/world/middleeast/damascus-syria-explosions-intelligence-headquarters.html?pagewanted=all ; 'Twin suicide car bombs that targeted a notorious military intelligence compound shook the Syrian capital, Damascus… with the Health Ministry putting the toll at 55 dead and nearly 400 wounded — civilians and soldiers. '

(22) = Voice of America 22 Feb 2013 ‘Death Toll Rises in Damascus Blasts’,
http://www.voanews.com/content/death-toll-rises-in-damascus-blasts/1608600.html
‘A Syrian expatriate rights group says a series of bombings in Damascus has killed at least 83 people …Most of the victims are said to be civilians, including many children from a nearby school, with 17 of the dead reported to be members of the security forces.’

(23) = BBC News 11 Jun 2013 ‘Syria crisis: Damascus hit by double 'suicide bombing'’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22852237

(24) = USA Today 09 Jun 2013 ‘Large car bombs increasing in Syria’, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/06/09/syria-ieds-bombs-hezbollah/2401851/

(25) = AP 27 May 2013 ‘Pro-government Syrian journalist Yara Abbas killed in action’, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57586279/pro-government-syrian-journalist-yara-abbas-killed-in-action/

(26) = Atlantic Wire 26 May 2012 ‘Pro-Regime Iranian Journalist Killed by Syrian Rebels’,
http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2012/09/pro-regime-iranian-journalist-killed-syrian-rebels/57288/

(27) = BBC News 27 Jun 2012 ‘Gunmen 'kill seven' at Syrian pro-Assad Ikhbariya TV’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18606341

(28) = Human Rights Watch 20 Mar 2012 ‘Syria: Armed Opposition Groups Committing Abuses - End Kidnappings, Forced Confessions, and Executions’, http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/20/syria-armed-opposition-groups-committing-abuses (esp 1st para, 2nd sentence ‘Abuses include kidnapping, detention, and torture of security force members, government supporters, and people identified as members of pro-government militias, called shabeeha…. executions by armed opposition groups of security force members and civilians.’ – also see under sub-heading ‘Torture’)

(29) = Amnesty International 14 Mar 2013 ‘Syria: Summary killings and other abuses by armed opposition groups’, http://www.amnesty.org/fr/library/asset/MDE24/008/2013/en/21461c90-3702-4892-aa3c-4974bba54689/mde240082013en.html

(30) = CBS News 28 Mar 2013 ‘AP: "Master plan" underway to help Syria rebels take Damascus with U.S.-approved airlifts of heavy weapons’ , http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57576722/ap-master-plan-underway-to-help-syria-rebels-take-damascus-with-u.s.-approved-airlifts-of-heavy-weapons/ ;
see 16th and 17th paragraphs which read ‘In spite of the U.S. coordination…there is little… evidence…that all the new, powerful weapons are going to groups which have been carefully vetted by the U.S….
Many videos have appeared online showing militants from the various Islamic extremist rebel factions -- including Jabhat al-Nusra, which the U.S. has officially labeled a foreign terrorist group -- with such weapons in recent weeks.

(31) = guardian.co.uk 17 Jun 2013 ‘Arms for Syrian rebels won't fall into extremist hands, says William Hague’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/17/arms-syrian-rebels-william-hague

(32) = Times 12 Jul 2013 ‘Syrian rebels will return arms at end of uprising, says minister’, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article3814566.ece

(33) = NYT 01 Mar 2013 ‘Syrian Rebel Leader Deals With Ties to Other Side’,
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/02/world/middleeast/syrian-rebel-leader-deals-with-old-ties-to-other-side.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1& ; 26th to 27th paragraphs ; ‘Many rebel battalion commanders were civilians before the uprising. Having organized a brigade from men in their villages, they balk at taking orders and refuse to coordinate attacks…“They want everything from the chief of staff — weapons, ammunition, money,” General Idris said. “But if you ask them what did you do with the ammunition and weapons, and how did you spend the money, well, they don’t like any commander to ask them what they are doing. But we cannot work in this way.”’

(34) = CBC News 07 Dec 2012 ‘Free Syrian Army an uneasy mix of religious extremes’
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/12/06/f-vp-bedard-syrian-rebels.html ( once on the page scroll down to sub-heading ‘Abandoning Secularism’ ‘When probed about the FSA and how it operates, he asks, "Do you want the truth or the storyline?"…"The FSA and the coalition is only ink on paper," he says, elaborating that it's more of an image created to present a united front for foreign governments…Abu Mohammad wants to be clear that he takes orders from no one.’

(35) = NYT 24 Mar 2013 ‘Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.’,
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/world/middleeast/arms-airlift-to-syrian-rebels-expands-with-cia-aid.html?pagewanted=all ; see 18th and 19th paragraphs ‘Two other commanders, Hassan Aboud of Soquor al-Sham and Abu Ayman of Ahrar al-Sham, another Islamist group, said that whoever was vetting which groups receive the weapons was doing an inadequate job...“There are fake Free Syrian Army brigades claiming to be revolutionaries, and when they get the weapons they sell them in trade,” Mr. Aboud said.’

(36) = Jerusalem Post / Reuters 14 Nov 2011 'Syria urges Arab League to reconsider suspension',http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=245466 ; see paragraphs 5,8 and 9
Gabriel Ben-Dor, director of national security studies at the University of Haifa…Ben-Dor said the decision should also be viewed within the context of Arab and Western attempts to contain an emboldened Iran believed to be pursuing nuclear weapons….“They’re hoping to dismantle the axis of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, and to somehow weaken this entire coalition…The Arab bloc’s suspension, he added, “is an attempt to isolate Iran even more by depriving it of its only major ally in the Middle East.”

(37) = AP 02 Jun 2013 ‘Hezbollah, Syrian rebels in worst clash in Lebanon’,
http://news.yahoo.com/hezbollah-syrian-rebels-worst-clash-lebanon-194558471.html ;
8th paragraph ‘From Saturday night into Sunday, Hezbollah encircled and ambushed Syrian rebels and allied Lebanese fighters whom they suspected of rocketing Baalbek, a Lebanese security official said.

(38) = BBC News 18 Jun 2013 ‘Lebanese families drawn into Syrian conflict’,
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22938132 (scroll down to second bolded sub-heading ‘Spectre of civil war’)

(39) = NYT 09 Dec 2012 ‘Sectarian Conflict Kills at Least 17 in Northern Lebanon in Spillover of Syrian Civil War’, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/10/world/middleeast/syria-conflict-spills-over-to-northern-lebanon.html?_r=0 ; see 5th paragraph, 1st sentence ‘The latest conflict began after a number of Sunni fighters from northern Lebanon were killed in an ambush by pro-government forces as they tried to enter Syria to join opposition fighters.’

(40) = Independent 10 Jun 2013 ‘Robert Fisk: The Lebanese army fears rise of the Sunni Muslim Salafists’,
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-the-lebanese-army-fears-rise-of-the-sunni-muslim-salafists-8652931.html ; 2nd paragraph, 1st sentence ‘What the Lebanese army is not saying on the record – but which it acknowledges privately – is that large numbers of “Syrian” rebels are in fact Lebanese. They are being brought home to Lebanon to be buried’ ; 5th paragraph, 3rd & 4th sentences ‘A Sunni anti-Assad rebel fighter from Baalbek, Hussein Dergham, for example, was killed in defence of Qusayr and has been brought home for burial. Three other Lebanese Sunni men from Baalbek were killed in a suburb of Qusayr’ ; also see 10th paragraph on atrocities against civilians by Lebanese Sunni extremists in Syria

(41) = Independent 28 May 2013 ‘Robert Fisk: ‘We ran up to the roof. That was when the second missile killed Loulou’: Lebanon is counting the cost in human lives of the Syrian conflict’,
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/robert-fisk-we-ran-up-to-the-roof-that-was-when-the-second-missile-killed-loulou-lebanon-is-counting-the-cost-in-human-lives-of-the-syrian-conflict-8635204.html

(42) = AAP 28 May 2013 ‘Woman dies as Syria shells hit Lebanon’, http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/world/one-dead-as-syria-shells-hit-lebanon/story-e6frfkui-1226651796364

(43) = Bloomberg 23 Apr 2013 ‘Hezbollah Says Syrian Rebel Threat Creates a ‘Moral’ Duty’,
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-22/lebanon-defense-a-duty-after-army-failure-hezbollah-says.html ; 2nd & 3rd paragraphs ‘Nabil Qawooq’s remarks…a day after the Shiite border town of Hermel in Lebanon’s northeast came under rocket fire from Syria…without causing casualties, the Lebanese Army said in an April 21 statement…Prior to the attack, residents in the nearby village of al- Qasr received text messages warning that the Free Syria Army, …would bombard the two communities, the Daily Star reported.

(44) = NYT 26 May 2013 ‘Hezbollah Areas in Beirut Are Hit’,
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/world/middleeast/rockets-strike-hezbollahs-beirut-stronghold.html?ref=world

(45) = NYT 03 Jun 2013 ‘Hezbollah and Rebels of Syria in Border Fight’,
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/03/world/middleeast/hezbollah-and-syria-rebels-clash-on-border.html ;
6th to 8th paragraphs ‘But in recent weeks, shells and rockets have fallen indiscriminately on Shiite areas of Lebanon, killing at least three people and suggesting that rebel groups were also willing to punish civilians in Hezbollah strongholds. On Friday, more than a dozen shells landed on the outskirts of Baalbek and gunmen fired on a Shiite shrine. On Saturday, a rocket landed in the Shiite-majority village of Hermel, according to Lebanon’s National News Agency…A Syrian antigovernment activist, Jad al-Yamani, speaking from the outskirts of the besieged Syrian city of Qusayr, defended the rebel attacks on Lebanon, saying that they were justified because they would turn what he called “honest and free Shiites” against Hezbollah…“We are defending ourselves here, and those who criticize us are not in our shoes,” he said.

(46) = NYT 03 Jun 2013 ‘Hezbollah and Rebels of Syria in Border Fight’,
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/03/world/middleeast/hezbollah-and-syria-rebels-clash-on-border.html ; 7th to 8th paragraphs ‘A Syrian antigovernment activist, Jad al-Yamani, speaking from the outskirts of the besieged Syrian city of Qusayr, defended the rebel attacks on Lebanon, saying that they were justified because they would turn what he called “honest and free Shiites” against Hezbollah…“We are defending ourselves here, and those who criticize us are not in our shoes,” he said.

(47) = Brown Moses blog 01 May 2013 ‘Brigadier General Salim Idris And Lebanese Cleric Sheikh Ahmad Al-Aseer Take A Trip To Syria’, http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/brigadier-general-salim-idris-and.html

(48) = Jamestown Foundation Terrorism Monitor Volume: 11 Issue: 10 , 17 May 2013,
‘Lebanese Salafist Cleric Organizes Militia Forays into Syria’,
http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[swords]=8fd5893941d69d0be3f378576261ae3e&tx_ttnews[any_of_the_words]=Zambelis&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=40891&tx_ttnews[backPid]=7&cHash=65e3faaedab7e0ec78e7a0b9352abdc2#.Ue6aKG3_G0g

(49) = AP 24 Jun 2013 ‘Lebanon: clashes between army and supporters of Sunni cleric continue’,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/24/lebanon-clashes-army-sunni-cleric

(50) = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheikh_Ahmad_Al-Aseer# and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheikh_Ahmad_Al-Aseer#Syrian_civil_war

(51) = AFP 25 Jun 2013 ‘Lebanon forces hunt Sunni cleric behind deadly clashes’,
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gwpiVclFpJa4QWD8JW_Yz6uApUzA?docId=CNG.083c6f49d45308df3a6fc7d8a720e4f3.801

(52) = Miami Herald 02 Jul 2013 ‘Sunni cleric warns Christians over Lebanese army’s cooperation with Hezbollah’, http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/07/02/3482070/sunni-cleric-warns-christians.html

(53) = New York Times 08 May 2007 'The assault on Assyrian Christians', http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/08/opinion/08iht-edisaac.1.5618504.html

(54) = Independent 02 Nov 2012 ‘The plight of Syria's Christians: 'We left Homs because they were trying to kill us'’, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/the-plight-of-syrias-christians-we-left-homs-because-they-were-trying-to-kill-us-8274710.html