Below follows a compilation of articles, comments and opinions on the current state of affairs in the ME, notably after the Houla massacre. By the weight of her own words, Ms. Tørres of the Norwegian People’s Aid and their narrow tunnel vision seems to stand out as ‘out of step’ with the rest:
OCCUPATION, OCCUPATION, OCCUPATION
Verdens Gang 2012 05 29 p 39
Liv Tørres, Not Online
In a response to an op-ed by VG’s Astrid Meland, Liv Tørres of the Norwegian People’s Aid puts the blame for whatever is wrong in the Middle East, or at least in Palestinian –Israeli relations, squarely on the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Ms. Tørres accuses Astrid Meland of ignorance on Middle East matters.
Meanwhile, Vårt Land publishes this comment on the various walls of this world:
A WORLD FILLED UP WITH WALLS
Vårt Land 2012 05 29, Geir Ove Fonn
On border walls, the article points out the West Bank fence hardly being the only fence or wall in the world separating nations or entities. An extensive report is on the fences between Egypt and Gaza, and the Egyptians efforts to prevent gun running to Gaza. The wall separating India and Pakistan to prevent gun running as well as the wall erected towards Bangladesh in order to prevent illegal immigration, the US-Mexican anti-immigration wall is mentioned, as well as a number of other walls, like the “Peace lines” of Belfast, the West Saharan wall built by Morocco, the border walls separating Botswana and Zimbabwe, the Korean wall, the Saudi wall against Yemen, the Cyprus walls and the internal walls in Rio de Janeiro, to fight crime.
To further make Tørres’ comments stand out as ‘peculiar’, Roger Hercz from Dagsavisen publishes this:
AS THE LUST FOR LIFE AWAKENS
Dagsavisen 2012 05 29 p 2, Roger Hercz
A long op-ed on Egypt, presenting some pertinent facts, Mr. Hercz finds it likely the Muslim Brotherhood may be the winners of this election, being the country’s major political group, also having the Salafists support; ironically, Mr. Hercz points to the MB, having spent 80 years to gain a victory in Egypt, already losing support by the grass roots.
Mr. Hercz points to the decrepit Egyptian economy and the anti-Israeli emotions as factors making it unlikely the economy will improve. He also points to the authoritarian tradition of the MB, unlikely to increase the levels of democracy within Egypt. The military’s approach to democracy under Mubarak and the others of the military were hardly any better.
However, Mr. Hercz points to the pre 1952 monarchy as respecting pluralism and free speech, to a high degree, hoping for this sense of plurality to reawaken.
All of this at a moment when the Norwegian press is up in arms over the ongoing slaughter in Syria, as if they only now have discovered that there is something distinctly evil over the Assad family’s iron grip over Syria. On December 28, 2010, a journalist in VG recommended Syria as a fantastic holiday destination, while Aftenposten on December 29, 2010 recommended taking the family along to Lebanon and Egypt!
Editorials 2012 05 29
Verdens Gang, in full:
MASSACRE IN SYRIA
Neighboring countries and the major powers have been impotent witnesses to the bloodbath in Syria in this recent year. This weekend, events moved from bad to worse. UN observers counted at least 108 dead in the Houla massacre. Amongst them were at least 49 children and 7 women. Syrian authorities denies any responsibility. However, the UN’s observers have confirmed the killings were part of a series of attacks involving government tanks and artillery, and the assaults and maltreatment of civilians at short range. The UNSC condemned the Syrian government on Sunday, after Russian vacillation towards its ally. The UN demands the government withdraws its forces from the cities of the country. The UK and France wanted even stronger condemnations of the government of President Assad; Russia does not agree over this. And while the parties were haggling over the strength of the wordings of the condemnation, yet another 34 people were killed, seven of them children, in a machine gun attack in Hama.
Recently Amnesty released its annual report, describing the dramatic means used by the ever more desperate regime. The methods of torture against the critics of the regime are among the worst seen in three decades. Thousands have been arrested, Amnesty holds the opinion they have all been mistreated. Among the victims are children, the old, doctors tortured helping people, family members tortured to force them to give upinformation on their own people.
Syrian refugees are disappointed over the West’s lacking intervention in Syria. Stronger international pressure upon those in power is necessary in order to stop them from massacring their own people. This is not a question over whether a civil war may be approaching. There is already a war. Efforts must be concentrated on stopping the dangerous journey towards a long lasting war dismembering Syria, spreading to the other countries of the region. However, there are indications of the war lasting for a long time. None of the parties today possesses the strength to make a decisive strike at the other, the opposition is too divided.
The primary target of the regime is to stay in power, even at the cost of a lack of international standing and decreasing Syrian wealth. As seen from the standpoint of President Assad, he has acted rationally. His brutal tactics have worked, he has smashed threats against his power, and he has predicted the lack of intervention. The struggle to remove Assad will be long and bloody. The population of Syria will suffer. Human rights have no place in this game, no one seem to have any good answers to what should be done.
Dagbladet, in full:
THE SYRIAN CURSE
While the UN’s observes are more or less impotent; and the UNSC condemns the Houla massacre, in which 108 people, 49 of them children, were killed, violence is ongoing at an unhindered pace. By now, Kofi Annan, the special emissary of the UN and the Arab league is in Syria in order to make a new attempt at rescuing his plan in five points. However, there is little indication of any improvement in this country, at least in a brief perspective.
A few rays of light are in existence, however. On Sunday, Russia voted in favor of a resolution condemning the Houla massacre in the UNSC; even though President Assad’s security forces were not clearly blamed over this, the Russian vote was a surprise. On yesterday, the country’s FM, Sergei Lavrov, followed up in a meeting with his British colleague William Hague in Moscow. Lavrov put blame both on Assad’s forces and the opposition over the events in Houla; however, criticism hit the regime of President Bashar al Assad hardest. Also, Lavrov surprisingly stated the most important was not who ruled in Syria, but that violence ceased.
The UN observer group led by Norwegian Major General Robert Mood has a futile mission. When massacres like the one in Houla takes place, the observers move in, they are in reality doing little but counting dead bodies, condemning events having taken place. Observers’ information over tanks and mortars being used during the Houla attacks contributed to Russia supporting the UNSC statement. This strengthens the argument over the observers, after all, having a mission in Syria.
US President Barack Obama is working on a new political initiative referred to as the “Yemen plan”. In Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh was allowed to remain for another period, though he was under tremendous pressure, also being given an amnesty over crimes committed by him and his regime in recent years. Several Western countries have started to think in this pattern concerning Syria.
Perhaps Russia – and China- may end up supporting this policy in the end. However, on a daily basis, acts of war and crimes are committed against the civilians of Syria, also by the opposition of the Free Syrian Army. This targets all Syrians, whatever side they are on.