Syria Crisis: Hamas Ditches Assad

[In a move that indicates both the declining prospects for the Syrian Assad regime, as well as the growing role of the Saudi regime in post-Mubarak Arab alignments, Hamas–which is also busily retooling its relations with the Fatah forces and the Palestine Authority as a whole–has made a significant break in relations with Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran.  This deserves some close attention.  The revolutionary  currents in the Arab world, while not invested in any of these organized and governmental forces, will find in these shifts some openings for their own initiatives, because the controllers of political life on all sides are off balance.  In every crisis, opportunities will surface–for those who dare to cast away illusions, rely on the masses, and seize the time. — Frontlines ed.]

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By Omar Fahmy and Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters

CAIRO/GAZA, Feb 24  – Leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas turned publicly against their long-time ally President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, endorsing the revolt aimed at overthrowing his dynastic rule.

The policy shift deprives Assad of one of his few remaining Sunni Muslim supporters in the Arab world and deepens his international isolation. It was announced in Hamas speeches at Friday prayers in Cairo and a rally in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas went public after nearly a year of equivocating as Assad’s army, largely led by fellow members of the president’s Alawite sect, has crushed mainly Sunni protesters and rebels.

In a Middle East split along sectarian lines between Shi’ite and Sunni Islam, the public abandonment of Assad casts immediate questions over Hamas’s future ties with its principal backer Iran, which has stuck by its ally Assad, as well as with Iran’s fellow Shi’ite allies in Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement. Continue reading

Growing ‘Occupy’ movement makes China nervous

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

by Mark Mackinnon, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

Beijing—According to a Chinese joke, there are three parts to any newscast on the official Central China Television station.

The message in the first block of stories on each night’s news is: Your leaders worked hard today. This is proven with eye-glazing footage of President Hu Jintao and other top Communist Party officials meeting foreign dignitaries, ordinary Chinese people and each other.

For those still awake when the second block of stories airs, the theme is: The Chinese people are happy. Great things are happening in the People’s Republic.

The third bit is the counterpoint to the second chunk, and the message is equally simple: The rest of the world is in chaos. Europe is falling apart! The Arab world is on fire! Aren’t you glad you live in China?

When the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations began on Sept. 17, it nicely fit into the third block of that news agenda. American capitalism, China’s great rival, was in crisis (although it does put a few million people here to work), and the masses were taking to the streets against it. Continue reading