| Shinawatra: Opposition escalates as Thai PM stands firm!

Opposition escalates as Thai PM stands firm ~ Al Jazeera.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra refuses to relinquish power during elections as opposition protests continue.

An opposition leader escalated his campaign to topple Thailand’s government, and ordered his followers to storm Bangkok‘s police headquarters after they fought all day with riot police protecting heavily barricaded buildings.

On Monday, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she is willing to do anything it takes to end the violent protests but made it clear she would not accept the opposition’s demand to hand power to an unelected council during the elections.

“Right now we don’t see any way to resolve the problem under the constitution,” she said in the 12-minute televised news conference.

Yingluck’s comments highlighted the unusual political deadlock Thailand finds itself in with no clear solution in sight.

The standoff intensified as protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban gave a defiant speech late on Monday to thousands of cheering supporters at a government complex they seized last week when the anti-government demonstrations started.

The protests have renewed fears of prolonged instability in Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy and come just ahead of the peak holiday tourist season.

Even if Yingluck dissolves parliament and calls fresh elections, Suthep said, he will “continue the fight… because they can always come back to suck the blood of people, steal from people, disrespect the constitution and make us their slaves.”

“If people are happy with elections and go home, I will remain here alone,” he said.

Earlier on Monday, protesters commandeered garbage trucks and bulldozers, and tried to ram concrete barriers at the Government House and other key offices.

Hundreds injured

Police repelled them by firing tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets, as protesters shot back explosives from homemade rocket launchers.

At least three people were killed and more than 200 injured in the past three days of violence, which capped a week of massive street rallies that drew crowds of more than 100,000 at their peak.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is “concerned” about the situation in Thailand and urges all sides to exercise “utmost restraint,” his spokesman, Martin Nesirky, said.

The protesters, who are mostly middle-class Bangkok supporters of the opposition Democrat Party, accuse Yingluck of being a proxy for her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

He was deposed in a 2006 military coup but remains central to Thailand’s political crisis, and is a focal point for the protester‘s hatred.

The protesters say their goal is to uproot the political machine of Thaksin, who is accused of widespread corruption and abuse of power.

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| UN declares 2014 the ‘Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People!’

UN declares 2014 the ‘Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People’ ~ RT.

The UN has named 2014 as the ‘Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.’ The resolution was adopted by the majority of member-states with 110 voting in favor, 7 opposed and 54 abstaining.

The year-long observance will entail organizing special events in cooperation with “governments, relevant organizations of the United Nations system, intergovernmental organizations and civil society.”

A United Nations (UN) car passes in front of new houses which are part of a project funded by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on November 21, 2013.(AFP Photo / Said Khatib)

A United Nations (UN) car passes in front of new houses which are part of a project funded by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on November 21, 2013.(AFP Photo / Said Khatib)

The new resolution was passed on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Monday, which is celebrated annually and this year was moved up from November 29 due to the Thanksgiving holiday in the US.

The UN marks that day with a special session, including a meeting on the ‘Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people and a concert featuring Palestinian musicians.

On Monday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced the UN’s solidarity with the Palestinian people, noting the importance of peace talks aimed at a two-state solution.

“We cannot afford to lose the current moment of opportunity,” Ban Ki-moon said in a message read on his behalf. “The goal remains clear – an end to the occupation that started in 1967 and the creation of a sovereign, independent, and viable State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders, living side by side in peace with a secure State of Israel,” Mr. Ban stated.

Palestinians have made significant strides towards self-determination recently. In November of last year the UN General Assembly granted the Palestinians observer status at the international organization, thus implicitly recognizing a Palestinian state. The Palestinian bid has been upheld with 138 votes in favor, 9 against and 41 abstentions.

The new status could give the Palestinians more weight in peace talks with Israel and gives them a greater chance of joining UN agencies and the International Criminal Court (ICC). Joining the ICC would also grant the Palestinian delegation a greater legal basis for pursuing possible war-crimes prosecutions against the Israeli military.

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| Peres: Israel will ‘consider’ joining chemical weapons ban treaty!

Peres: Israel will consider joining chemical weapons ban treaty ~ GlobalPost – International News.

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – The Israeli government will seriously consider joining the international treaty banning chemical weapons after Syria said it would destroy its own toxic arsenal, President Shimon Peres said on Monday.

Israel remains one of just six countries in the world not to have joined the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention following Syria’s move this month.

“I am sure our government will consider it seriously,” Peres told reporters in The Hague, the Dutch city that is home to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversees the convention.

As with its nuclear arsenal, Israel has never publicly admitted to having chemical weapons. Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said this month that Israel would be ready to discuss the issue when there was peace in the Middle East.

Peres’ role as head of state is largely ceremonial but he is an influential figure on the world stage and was instrumental in turning Israel into an undeclared nuclear power in the 1960s.

Under a joint Russian-U.S. proposal, Syria has committed to destroying its chemical weapons arsenal within nine months. It is believed to comprise around 1,000 metric tonnes of sarin, mustard and XV nerve agents.

A team of weapons inspectors from the OPCW will head to Syria this week to make an inventory of its chemical stockpiles and munitions to determine how and where to destroy them.

Syria spent decades building up its chemical weapons program, largely to counter Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East.

Peres said Syria only joined the convention when facing the threat of military force, but added that Israel would nevertheless consider a call by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for all countries to sign up to the treaty.

The other nations not to have joined the convention are Myanmar, Egypt, Angola, North Korea and South Sudan.

(Additional reporting by Crispian Balmer in Jerusalem, editing by Gareth Jones)

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| Full text of UN Report on Syria Chemical Attack!

U.N. Report on Chemical Attack in Syria ~ Robert Mackey, Scribd.

The complete text of a report to the United Nations secretary general confirming the use of chemical weapons in attacks outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.

Click HERE

As expected, no word as to who perpetrated it, which begs the question as to the point of inquiring without even attempting to identify WHO carried it out.

 

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| Back from G20, Ban considering proposals to prompt political solution to Syria crisis!

Back from G20, Ban considering proposals to prompt political solution to Syria crisis ~ UN News Centre.

9 September 2013 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said that two-and-half years of conflict in Syria have produced only “embarrassing paralysis” in the Security Council and that he was considering proposals to the 15-member body in the search for a political solution.

In his first press conference since returning to New York from the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Mr. Ban said that should a UN weapons team confirm use of chemical agents in the 21 August incident in Syria, it would be an “abominable crime” and the international community “would certainly have to do something about it.”

“The Syrian people need peace,” he declared.

“Should Dr. Sellström’s report confirm the use of chemical weapons, then this would surely be something around which the Security Council could unite in response – and indeed something that should merit universal condemnation,” Mr. Ban told reporters.

The UN chief added that he is already considering “certain proposals that I could make to the Security Council” when presenting the investigation team’s report.

Those include urging the Council to demand the immediate transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons and chemical precursor stocks to places inside Syria where they can be safely stored and destroyed, Mr. Ban said.

He also urged Damascus to become a party to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

Syria is not a party CWC, but it is a party to the Geneva (Protocol) of 1925 which prohibits the use of chemical and biological weapons, according to the OPCW.

In response to a question about how quickly the UN can act, if Syria agrees to a transfer of its alleged chemical weapons stock under international control, Mr. Ban said he is sure that the international community will take “very swift action” to make safely store and destroy the chemical weapons stocks.

Meanwhile, the biomedical and environmental samples taken by the UN chemical weapons inspection team have been undergoing analysis in Europe since last week.

Mr. Ban has said he would promptly share the results of the analyses with the 15-member Security Council and all 193 Member States.

Addressing journalists, the UN chief again reiterated the need to come together for a so-called Geneva II conference, which would include representatives of Syrian parties as well as senior United States, Russian and UN officials, to find a political path out of the crisis in the country.

A political solution “is the only viable option at this time”, Mr. Ban said, adding that he and Joint UN-Arab League Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, who was also in St. Petersburg, have been working very closely with Moscow and Washington to get all parties to the table.

The UN chief noted that Syria dominated the G20 talks “in a way no other political development has ever done.”

In addition to those discussions at the summit and on the sidelines, Mr. Ban said there was progress on growth, jobs, trade and investment.

Mr. Ban said he was “encouraged” by the response to this call for concentrated actions to achieve the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), define a global development agenda beyond 2015, and addressing climate change.

He looks forward to building on the G20 discussions at the high-level General Assembly debate later this month at the UN Headquarters in New York.

 

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses journalists at United Nations Headquarters. UN Photo/Mark Garten

 


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Urging political solution on Syria crisis, Ban warns of ‘tragic consequences’ of military action

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| Syria: Russia reports rebels used chemical weapons in March!

Russia releases key findings on chemical attack near Aleppo indicating similarity with rebel-made weapons ~ RT.

Probes from Khan al-Assal show chemicals used in the March 19 attack did not belong to standard Syrian army ammunition, and that the shell carrying the substance was similar to those made by a rebel fighter group, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.

RT’s LIVE UPDATES on Syrian ‘chemical weapons’ crisis 

A statement released by the ministry on Wednesday particularly drew attention to the “massive stove-piping of various information aimed at placing the responsibility for the alleged chemical weapons use in Syria on Damascus, even though the results of the UN investigation have not yet been revealed.”

By such means “the way is being paved for military action” against Damascus, the ministry pointed out.

But the samples taken at the site of the March 19 attack and analyzed by Russian experts indicate that a projectile carrying the deadly nerve agent sarin was most likely fired at Khan al-Assal by the rebels, the ministry statement suggests, outlining the 100-page report handed over to the UN by Russia.

The key points of the report have been given as follows:

• the shell used in the incident “does not belong to the standard ammunition of the Syrian army and was crudely according to type and parameters of the rocket-propelled unguided missiles manufactured in the north of Syria by the so-called Bashair al-Nasr brigade”;

RDX, which is also known as hexogen or cyclonite, was used as the bursting charge for the shell, and it is “not used in standard chemical munitions”;

• soil and shell samples contain “the non-industrially synthesized nerve agent sarin and diisopropylfluorophosphate,” which was “used by Western states for producing chemical weapons during World War II.”

The findings of the report are “extremely specific,” as they mostly consist of scientific and technical data from probes’ analysis, the ministry stressed, adding that this data can “substantially aid” the UN investigation of the incident.

While focusing on the Khan al-Assal attack on March 19, in which at least 26 civilians and Syrian army soldiers were killed, and 86 more were injured, the Russian Foreign Ministry also criticized the “flawed selective approach” of certain states in reporting the recent incidents of alleged chemical weapons use in August.

The hype around the alleged attack on the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta showed“apparent attempts to cast a veil over the incidents of gas poisoning of Syrian army soldiers on August 22, 24 and 25,” the ministry said, adding that all the respective evidence was handed to the UN by Syria.

The condition of the soldiers who, according to Damascus, suffered poisoning after discoveringtanks with traces of sarin, has been examined and documented by the UN inspectors, the ministry pointed out, adding that “any objective investigation of the August 21 incident in eastern Ghouta is impossible without the consideration of all these facts.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said the UN investigators are set to return to Syria to investigate several other cases of alleged chemical weapons use, including the March 19 incident in Khan al-Assal.

People injured in what the government said was a chemical weapons attack, breathe through oxygen masks as they are treated at a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo March 19, 2013 (Reuters / George Ourfalian)

People injured in what the government said was a chemical weapons attack, breathe through oxygen masks as they are treated at a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo March 19, 2013 (Reuters / George Ourfalian)

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| UN: Ban challenges legality of US strike without Security Council resolution!

UN: Ban challenges legality of US strike without Security Council resolution ~ circa.

 

Copyright 2013 Reuters
The UN Secretary General has called on the Security Council to act if inspectors find Assad used chemical weapons but has warned of the U.S. acting unilaterally.
SEPTEMBER 3, 2013 AT 7:00PM
1

“The use of force is lawful only when in exercise of self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations charter and/or when the Security Council approves of such action. That is a firm principle of the United Nations.”

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General
In a press conference on Sept. 3, Ban warned that a strike from the U.S. and France could risk further turmoil in the region.
2

Bashar al-Jaafari, Syria’s UN ambassador, called on “the UN Secretary-General to shoulder his responsibilities for preventing any aggression on Syria and pushing forward reaching a political solution to the crisis in Syria,” state news agency SANA said Sept. 2.
3

“I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets… I will seek authorization of the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.”

Obama, citing the British Parliament’s vote in Syria, said he “welcomed the debate” on taking military action against Assad. He said that a military strike is not time-sensitive and that it doesn’t matter if it happens “tomorrow, next week, or a month from now.”
4

The British government’s motion proposing military action in Syria was defeated in the House of Commons on Aug. 29. Prime Minister David Cameron said, “It’s clear to me that the British parliament and the British people do not wish to see military action; I get that, and I will act accordingly.”
5

The White House released a statement on Aug. 30 saying that it assessed with “high confidence” that the Assad regime carried out a chemical weapons attack near Damascus on Aug. 21, including the use of a nerve agent. It also released a map indicating where it believes the attack took place.
6

“Syrian government troops are on the offensive and have surrounded the opposition in several regions. In these conditions, to give a trump card to those who are calling for a military intervention is utter nonsense.”

Putin spoke to reporters Aug. 31, claiming that the Syrian regime wouldn’t have risked international intervention by using chemical weapons when, according to Putin, the regime is doing well. He also called on the U.S. to present evidence of the attack to the UN Security Council.
7

“The chemical massacre of Damascus cannot and must not remain unpunished. There are few countries which can have the capacity of enforcing any sanction through the appropriate measures. France will be part of it. France is ready.”

– French President Francois Hollande
Hollande said the British parliament’s rejection of military action had no bearing on how France would act and military action could be taken before the French parliament meets Sept. 4 to debate the issue.
8

<span><span>The German government has ruled out intervention in Syria. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said </span>"such participation has not been sought nor is it being considered." Popular opinion in Germany is overwhelmingly against action.</span>COPYRIGHT 2013 REUTERS
The German government has ruled out intervention in Syria. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said “such participation has not been sought nor is it being considered.” Popular opinion in Germany is overwhelmingly against action.
9

“The threats of direct aggression against Syria will only increase our commitment to our deep-rooted principles and the independent will of our people. Syria will defend itself in the face of any aggression.”

– Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
As Western nations readied for a possible military strike against Syria, Assad was quoted by Syrian state television Aug. 29 telling this to a delegation of Yemeni politicians.
10

The UK put a resolution before the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council Aug. 28. According to PM David Cameron, the draft resolution condemns “the chemical weapons attack by Assad” and authorizes “necessary measures to protect civilians.” Russia has said the Security Council should wait until the findings of the UN chemical weapons inspectors are released before considering a response.
11

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called for military action to go beyond punitive measures for chemical attacks. Erdogan said, "<span>An intervention akin to that decided for Kosovo must be launched. An operation of one or two days will not be enough. The goal should be to force the regime out."</span><span></span>COPYRIGHT 2013 REUTERS
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called for military action to go beyond punitive measures for chemical attacks. Erdogan said, “An intervention akin to that decided for Kosovo must be launched. An operation of one or two days will not be enough. The goal should be to force the regime out.”
12

The Israeli military’s gas mask distribution network has been overwhelmed with increased demand as the West considers military options against Syria. Large lines have formed outside post offices, where gas masks are being distributed, and opening hours have been extended.
13

The EU in May agreed to extend financial and economic sanctions against the Syrian government for one year, but it has not been able to reach a deal to support Syrian rebels.
Citations
  1. Britain’s Hague says EU arms embargo on Syrian rebels effectively ends
  2. European Union to lift arms embargo on Syrian rebels
  3. EU lifts embargo to arm Syria rebels: Hague
  4. Syria crisis: Cameron recalls Parliament to vote on response as Russia warns of ‘catastrophic consequences’ of military intervention
  5. Merkel faces pre-election balancing act on Syria
  6. UK drafts Syria UN resolution
  7. David_Cameron: 2/2 Britain has drafted a …
  8. Russia says too early for UN resolution on Syria attack – Al Jazeera Blogs
  9. Assad says Syria will defend itself against aggression
  10. As U.S., allies weigh strike on Syria, nervous Israelis rush for gas masks
  11. Israel braces for worst with Syria as army calls up reserves, nervous citizens line up to receive free gas masks
  12. Long lines in Israel: Syria tensions spur rush for gas masks (+video)
  13. As Syria strike looms, Israeli gas mask centers get extended opening hours
  14. LIVE: Syria crisis: Latest updates
  15. France backs US on Syria action
  16. France’s François Hollande says Syrian’s alleged chemical attack cannot go unpunished
  17. France could act on Syria without Britain, says François Hollande
  18. France backs US on Syria action
  19. The White House
  20. Map put out by White House with the newly declassified information about Syria and chemical weapons – click to see full map – Gretawire
  21. U.N. inspectors start leaving Syria; Obama meets with security team
  22. Turkish PM says Syria intervention should aim to end Assad rule
  23. US claim on Syria ‘nonsense’ – Putin
  24. Obama says U.S. will take military action against Syria, pending Congress’s approval
  25. LIVE UPDATES: U.S. Prepares for Action in Syria | TIME.com
  26. Obama to seek Congress vote on Syria
  27. Syria asks the United Nations to stop U.S. strike
  28. U.N.’s Ban casts doubt on legality of U.S. plans to punish Syria
  29. UN Chief: U.S. Strike In Syria Could Unleash More Turmoil
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/03/us-strike-syria-_n_3861209.html_

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| Syria: UN weapons inspectors leave after investigation!

Syria: UN weapons inspectors leave after investigation ~  and agencies, theguardian.com.

• US weighs up next move as UN team now in Lebanon
• Russia says any threats of force unacceptable
• Two-thirds of French people oppose intervention, says poll

A Lebanese soldier watches as the UN experts arrive at Beirut international airport.

A Lebanese soldier watches as the UN experts arrive at Beirut international airport. Photograph: Hussein Malla/AP

UN experts left Syria on Saturday after investigating a poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians, and the US said it was planning a limited response to punish Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad for the “brutal and flagrant” assault.

Barack Obama said the US, which has five cruise-missile equipped destroyers in the region, was in the planning process for a “limited, narrow” military action that would not involve boots on the ground or be open-ended.

Russia responded by saying US threats to use military force against Syria were unacceptable and that Washington would be violating international law if it acted without the approval of the U.N. Security Council.

Meawhile, most French people do not want its country to take part in military action on Syria, and most do not trust President François Hollande to do so, a poll showed on Saturday.

The BVA poll released by Le Parisien-Aujourd’hui en France, showed 64% of respondents opposed military action, 58% did not trust Hollande to conduct it, and 35% feared it could “set the entire region (Middle East) ablaze”.

Russia, an ally of Assad’s, opposes any military intervention in Syria, warning an attack would increase tensions and undermine the chances of ending the civil war. “Washington statements with threats to use force against Syria are unacceptable,” Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement late in Friday.

“Any unilateral use of force without the authorisation of the UN security council, no matter how ‘limited’ it is, will be a clear violation of international law, will undermine prospects for a political and diplomatic resolution of the conflict in Syria and will lead to a new round of confrontation and new casualties.”

Lukashevich also said that Washington’s threats were made “in the absence of any proof” of the Syrian government using chemical weapons.

In a sign the US may be preparing to act, the secretary of state, John Kerry, spoke on Friday to the foreign ministers of key European and Gulf allies, as well as the head of the Arab League, a senior state department official said.

The team of UN experts arrived at Beirut international airport on Saturday, after crossing the land border from Syria into Lebanon by foot earlier in the day.

The 20-member team, including experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, have been into the rebel-held areas in the Ghouta suburb of Damascus three times, taking blood and tissue samples from victims. They also took samples of soil, clothing and rocket fragments. They will be sent to laboratories in Europe, most likely Sweden or Finland, for analysis. The experts have already been testing for sarin, mustard gas or other toxic agents.

The analysis should establish if a chemical attack took place but not who was responsible for the 21 August attack on a Damascus suburb. Final results might not be ready for two weeks, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, told security council members, according to diplomats.

 

In France, Hollande said Britain’s parliamentary vote against military strikes would not affect France’s own actions.

Two other opinion polls published this week, and carried out after the gas attack, indicated lukewarm support among French voters for military intervention in Syria.

Hollande, whose popularity has been hurt by economic gloom, showed unexpected military mettle when he dispatched troops to help Mali’s government fend off Islamist rebels earlier this year, an intervention backed by two-thirds of the public.

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| Race to War: UNSC unable to sign UK draft resolution on Syria!

UNSC unable to sign resolution on Syria war ~ Al-Alam News Network.

A file photo show the United Nations Security Council meeting.

A file photo show the United Nations Security Council meeting.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council have failed to reach an agreement on a British-proposed resolution to authorize the use of military force against Syria.

Britain put forth the proposal Wednesday as momentum seemed to be building among Western allies for a strike against Syria. US officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, have claimed that the Syrian government used deadly chemical weapons near Damascus last week.

The US has not presented concrete proof, and UN inspectors – currently in Syria to investigate alleged chemical attacks – have not endorsed the allegations.

After the ambassadors met for a couple of hours at UN headquarters, the draft resolution was being sent back to their governments for consultations, according to a Western diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.
The diplomat said Russia reiterated its objections to international intervention in the Syrian crisis.

US Ambassador Samantha Power and British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant left the meeting without commenting to reporters.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said in London that the British draft resolution would authorize “all necessary measures under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to protect civilians from chemical weapons.”

Chapter 7 allows the use of international armed force to back up UN decisions.

Speaking Wednesday from The Hague, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said no action should be taken until the UN chemical weapons inspectors finish their work.

“Let them conclude … their work for four days and then we will have to analyze scientifically” their findings and send a report to the Security Council, he said.

NTJ/HH

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| Hypocrite B’Liar: Egyptian army had no choice but to topple Morsi!

Egyptian army had no choice over move to topple Morsi, says Tony Blair ~  and The Observer.

Alternative to military intervention was a country in chaos, says former prime minister.

TOPSHOTS An Egyptian supporter of the Mu

An Egyptian supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood walks holding a poster of Egypt’s deposed president, Mohamed Morsi. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP

Tony Blair says the Egyptian army had no alternative but to oust President Morsi from power, given the strength of opposition on the streets. The military were confronted, writes Blair in the Observer, with the simple choice of intervening or allowing chaos.

The former prime minister’s comments come as Egypt faces prolonged civil conflict after the removal from power of Morsi, who came to office with 51% of the popular vote at the country’s first democratic presidential election, held last year.

As the Middle East envoy representing the US, Russia, the EU and UN, Blair’s intervention will be seen as provocative among the region’s Muslim population, which views last week’s dramatic events as an indefensible coup organised by the Egyptian military establishment.

It also marks a striking development in the thinking of Blair, who now accepts that, in some of the world’s more fraught regions, democracy will not necessarily deliver the kind of governments that can be defended in the face of overwhelming popular protest. Blair states that given the current situation in Egypt: “We should engage with the new de facto power and help make the new government make the changes necessary, especially on the economy, so they can deliver for the people.”

He adds: “The events that led to the Egyptian army’s removal of PresidentMohamed Morsi confronted the military with a simple choice: intervention or chaos. Seventeen million people on the streets are not the same as an election. But it as an awesome manifestation of power.”

Taking a different approach to both President Obama and William Hague, who have expressed reservations over the military takeover, Blair makes clear that, overall, he believes it was the right move. “I am a strong supporter of democracy. But democratic government doesn’t on its own mean effective government. Today efficacy is the challenge.” Having taken this country to war in Iraq in 2003 despite huge public opposition, including a march by more than a million people through London, Blair now argues that shows of public unrest such as that in Egypt – fuelled and organised through social media – cannot be ignored.

“This is a sort of free democratic spirit that operates outside the convention of democracy that elections decide the government. It is enormously fuelled by social media, itself a revolutionary phenomenon.

“And it moves very fast in precipitating crisis. It is not always consistent or rational. A protest is not a policy, or a placard a programme for government. But if governments don’t have a clear argument with which to rebut the protest, they’re in trouble.”

By Saturday night a total of 36 people had died and many dozens more had been injured in continuing clashes in cities across Egypt following the removal of the president.

The US state department urged Egypt’s leaders to put a stop to the clashes, while UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon called for demonstrators to be protected.

Pro-Morsi protesters were gathering yesterday in Cairo’s Nasr City area. The army, meanwhile, issued a statement on its Facebook page denying that some of its field commanders were putting pressure on the commander-in-chief to reinstate Morsi.

“These rumours … come within the context of the continued attempts to spread rumours and lies as one of the methods of the systematic information warfare being waged against the armed forces with the aim of dividing its ranks and striking at its strong cohesion,” the statement said.

Blair says events in Egypt are just “the latest example of the interplay, visible the world over, between democracy, protest and government efficacy. Democracy is a way of deciding the decision-makers but it is not a substitute for making a decision.” He launches a stinging attack on the Muslim Brotherhood’s record in government, saying it was “unable to shift from being an opposition movement to being a government. The economy is tanking. Ordinary law and order has virtually disappeared,” he says.

Blair also argues that the west needs to remain fully engaged in the region, including in Syria, Iran and Palestine. “This struggle matters to us. The good news is that there are millions of modern and open-minded people out there. They need to know we are on their side, their allies, prepared to pay the price to be there with them.”

The central Cairo clashes erupted after a crowd of around 4,000, carrying banners backing Morsi, crossed the 6 October Bridge at sunset. They were met on an overpass near Tahrir Square by anti-Morsi demonstrators who had been celebrating at the ground zero of both of Egypt’s latest revolutions.

Elsewhere in the country, clashes were reported in Alexandria and Luxor. There were also skirmishes in several rural governorates that had been strongly supportive of Morsi during his troubled and truncated year in office.

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1) Isn’t this the same guy who ignored ‘people power’ in his own country, dismissing 2 million people on the streets of London in February 2003 in order to take Britain into a disastrous and illegal Middle East war?

2) Should we really be taking advice from a guy who was a regular guest at Hosni Mubarak‘s holiday villa in Sharm el-Sheikh and referred to the former Egyptian dictator as a friend and ally?

3) Can we now, finally, agree that Blair, adviser to the Kazakh government and defender of the Egyptian coup, isn’t driven by some messianic desire for democracy and freedom in the Middle East (or anywhere else)?

Do we need any further evidence?

Blair Innocent

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