Friday, January 31, 2014

Ukraine's Anguish

Though it began with Ukrainian opposition parties leading mass protests against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych for his high-handed dismissal of the people's will preferring an alliance with the European union to rescue them from their dismal economic plight and high unemployment, it was to the Russian Republic that Mr. Yanukovych felt his country's highest advantage lay. And consequently, after great consideration, he shrugged off the EU offers for assistance and clasped Russian President Vladimir Putin's outstretched hand in an economic rescue.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (r.) and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych smile after signing an agreement in Moscow on Tuesday. Mr. Putin says Moscow has agreed to sharply cut the price for its natural gas supplies to Ukraine and will buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian government bonds, but says there was no discussion about Ukraine joining a free trade pact of three ex-Soviet nations.   Ivan Sekretarev/AP

Neatly hauling Ukraine back into the orbit of the dominating country whose grasp they were relieved to escape with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Ukraine hasn't fared too well since then either; joining the European Union would have given them a leg up and the helping hand they needed, but their extremis responded to the blandishments of Russia, because there are Russian Ukrainians who feel more comfortable as Russian satellites and they supported Mr. Yanukovych.

Now, many of them are less certain, and it seems that Mr. Yanukovych's strength in popular support appears to be somewhat waning. It's quite amazing how short-sighted rulers of the autocratic variety can be. President Yanukovych obviously thought the Russian model would work well for Ukraine. After all, Vladimir Putin is hugely adored by Russians who like their leaders blunt and forceful, and Mr. Putin does his utmost to oblige.

Ukrainians are different and they obviously have longer memories. Millions of Russians may have been slaughtered by Joseph Stalin and their memories have grown dim yet fond, but the millions of Ukrainians who died of starvation through Russian connivance and neglect are recalled by those who detest the very thought of aligning themselves now with Russia, hauling back miserable old memories best laid aside, unforgivable as they are.

The speed with which the peaceful protests turned violent is owed entirely to the 'security' laws imposed to prevent those protests from continuing. A parliamentary move that echoed Russia's determined attempts to isolate and negate its own opposition, by detaining and arresting its leaders and outlawing mass protests. It hasn't worked too well in Ukraine. The opposition leaders were themselves appalled at the swift turn to violence and appealed for calm, but to little avail.

Protests Kiev November 2013 Crowds gather at the beginnings of the protests in Kiev, November 2013
Ukrainian police and young and determined protesters have been having at one another, doing violence to one another, and widening the breach day by day. The government's first feeble attempts to placate the protests fell on deaf ears, and now the divide is so wide that a civil conflict seems possible. The latest capitulations have made little inroad in the consciousness of the protest movement who will accept nothing less than the downfall of Viktor Yanukovych.

The barricades, the battles, and the right-wing factions, splinter groups that have separately begun their own war against the government have added a lethal tone to the proceedings. All the more so as they act outside organized leadership in defiance of the opposition parties, and worryingly to the point where some activists are turning weapons on one another.

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Positively Perplexing Problems

"This isn't an attempt to time-warp back into the 1850s or the wild, wild West or anything like that. It's just that I foresee a problem and I'm trying to come up with a solution that will be the most humane yet most economical for our state."
Missouri state Representative Rick Brattin
Mr. Brattin seems to feel that firing squad executions represent a fitting option to the conundrum of how most humanely the state may proceed in executing those consigned by their crimes to death row. Apparently the most favoured method is experiencing some hiccoughs. The drug companies that produce those especially formulated drugs used in executions are located in Europe and they now balk at supplying their products for that very special purpose.

So lethal-injection drugs have presented in short supply. Besides which, their functionality has been brought into question of late. Bringing state lawmakers to the opinion that other methods should be considered. Forget the guillotine, that never was an American methodology. They're looking at firing squads, electrocution and gas chambers, the type of execution methods used in the past, and considered so gruesome they were dropped in favour of lethal injection.

While the states in question are insistent that capital punishment is a method of population discipline for criminals, meant to fit the seriousness of their crimes, they still are concerned that they must avoid inflicting distress on the public through what might be seen by some as cruel and unusual punishments. The kind of method that would come afoul of the Constitution.

So they've a lot on their punishment plate to ponder, poor them.

Mr. Brattin is also thinking about the welfare of the families of victims of crime. Delaying executing those who dispatched their loved ones would cause those families further stress, so it doesn't do to keep delaying executions while thinking of alternatives. Justice must be done, even if it takes decades to see justice served, but it's not very palatable, nonetheless.

In Missouri there's thought of rebuilding the gas chamber once used y the state. Virginia is considering electrocution to be re-introduced, as long as lethal injection drugs remain unavailable. And in Wyoming they too are thinking of allowing firing squads to do the job. Typically five sharpshooters are employed in a firing squad, one of whom shoots blanks so they never know who fired the fatal bullet; a method mostly used for military executions.

Last week in Ohio, convicted felon Dennis McGuire inconveniently took 26 minutes to die by lethal injection, repeatedly gasping, lying on a gurney, mouth opening and closing. A week before him, Oklahoma inmate Michael Lee Wilson said, as he lay dying from lethal injection: "I feel my whole body burning", causing some anguish to onlookers.

Executions have declined from a peak of 98 in 1999 to just 39 last year. Some states refuse the death penalty, while others remain wedded to it as the supreme penalty for certain hideous crimes. In Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, condemned prisoners may select the electric chair method of departing life.

Arizona, Missouri and Wyoming are fine with gas chamber executions. Delaware, New Hampshire and Washington state allow death by hanging. Surely, it is a conundrum, how best the state can fulfill its obligations to those who elect them in the effort to see that final justice is done.

If things get really dicey, and the way forward keeps eluding them, they can always consult with the Islamic Republic of Iran to get the skinny on preferred methods.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Erdogan’s Autocratic Rule, Terror-Ties Spark Criticism

Erdogan’s Autocratic Rule, Terror-Ties Spark Criticism

Thu, January 30, 2014
Turkish demonstrator holds signs with photo of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan during a protest against ruling AK Party (AKP) government over a corruption probe in Ankara January 11, 2014. The words on the sign read,
Turkish demonstrator holds signs with photo of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan during a protest against ruling AK Party (AKP) government over a corruption probe in Ankara January 11, 2014. The words on the sign read, "Strong Thief," a play on the AKP's slogan "Strong Willpower"
The Turkish government continues to cleanse the judiciary and security services of opponents as new questions about its links to terrorists arise.

The Islamist government of Turkey has been embroiled in a major political crisis since December 17 when dozens of allies of Prime Minister Erdogan were arrested on corruption charges. Erdogan responded by canning the prosecutors and police chiefs responsible. He blamed foreign governments and  a U.S.-based Turkish cleric named Fethullah Gulen.

In January, the Turkish government fired 96 judges and prosecutors and fired or reassigned 2,000 police officers and prosecutors, including 470 in the capital city of Ankara. Erdogan said that the actions were taken to stop a “coup” and “the judiciary should not go beyond its mission and mandate.”

New attention is also being given to Erdogan’s links to Islamist terrorists.
Erdogan is particularly close to the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) that was involved in the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010 where its operatives attacked Israeli soldiers boarding a vessel that tried to violate the blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The blockade’s purpose is to stop Hamas from arming, but Erdogan does not consider Hamas to be a terrorist group. The U.S. State department does list  Hamas as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

The IHH is labeled a terrorist organization by Germany, the Netherlands and Israel. There is bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for doing the same because of its extensive links to Hamas and Al-Qaeda.

On January 1, the Turkish police intercepted a truck allegedly owned by IHH that was shipping weapons to Syria. The involved police and counter-terrorism officers were reassigned and the prosecutor accused the Turkish government of obstruction for stopping a search of the truck.

On January 14, the Turkish security services arrested 23 suspected terrorists in raids on the IHH. A senior Al-Qaeda operative was among those detained. The Deputy Prime Minister immediately condemned the raids and sided with IHH over his own country’s authorities. Again, two police officers were fired, as were bodyguards for eight involved prosecutors.

Erdogan’s links to a Saudi terrorism-financier named Yasir al-Qadi are getting scrutinized by some Turkish commentators. The U.N. required that member states freeze his assets in 2001 because it was convinced of the evidence against him. As with the IHH, the Erdogan government says its friend is innocent.

The Turkish government also has an abysmal record on press freedom. The Committee to Protect Journalists says that more journalists were imprisoned in Turkey than in any other country in the last two years. In addition, over 70 reporters lost their jobs after reporting on anti-government protests that erupted last summer.

“We need to underline that the Turkish press is no longer doing investigative reporting,” says Ertugrul Ozkok, who held the position of editor-in-chief of the Hurriyet newspaper for 20 years.
The upside of the Turkish government’s aggressive behavior is that Erdogan and his once-popular AKP Party, whose success was admired by Islamists globally, is now in deep political trouble. It has provided an opportunity for moderate Muslims to have their voices heard.

The Hurriyet Daily News, one of the most influential Turkish media outlets, carried a remarkable interview with the aforementioned former editor-in-chief, Erutgrul Ozkok.

He describes himself as having been a strong supporter of Erdogan and says he still agrees with him 70% of the time. Ozkok says Erdogan “betrayed us who thought he had changed” from his more radical past. He was unafraid to criticize Islamists and to disparage Erdogan for heading “towards fascism.” In the U.S., even using the word “Islamist” opens you up to scorn from powerful Muslim-American groups like CAIR.

Ozkok explained that Erdogan’s trouble should not be seen as a political battle limited to Turkey. He said this is just one theater in an ideological struggle across the Muslim world.

“[Either] outdated Islamists who cannot reconcile with democracy are going to prevail; or those democrats whose religion is Muslim will prevail,” he said.

Erdogan’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is an example of how he views democracy, the writer explains. To him, democracy is “only the ballot box.”

The fundamental problem with Erdogan is Islamism. The corruption, the support for terrorist groups, the secret deals with Iran, the crackdown on political opposition, the increasing hostility to the West —Islamism is a critical factor in all of it.

Ozkok is right. This isn’t about Turkish politics or the authoritarian impulses of one Middle Eastern leader. It is about an ideological struggle that many leaders still fail to recognize.

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Egyptian Scholar: Muslim Anti-Semitism Based on Stupidity

Egyptian Scholar: Muslim Anti-Semitism Based on Stupidity

Sun, January 26, 2014
Youssef Ziedan
Youssef Ziedan

A prominent Egyptian scholar named Youssef Ziedan urged Muslims to question their stance towards Jews and Israel in an interview on Egyptian CBC television on December 30.

Ziedan is described as “one of Egypt’s most highly respected scholars on Arabic and Islamic studies.” He is the director of the Manuscript Center and Museum. He is also a university professor and author of over 50 books, including Azazeel, which was published in 15 languages and won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

During the reign of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ziedan’s book, “Arabic Theology,” got him in trouble. In February 2013, he was charged with blasphemy because he alleges in the book that Judaism, Christianity and Islam come from a single source.

Ziedan said that Muslims need to think about their current attitudes towards “the Jewish question,” pointing out that there are hadiths adopted from Jewish and Christian traditions. By making that observation, he is arguing that his view is not a violation of Islam as his opponents claim. Ziedan even went so far as to talk about “the so-called Middle East problem, which I do not consider to be a problem at all.” He attributes the conflict to ignorance, “stupidity,” indoctrination and close-mindedness.

“We were indoctrinated at school” and given a “system of ready-made answers,” Ziedan says.
“It has become a common trade, benefiting all our politicians. Any politician who wants to gain popularity curses Israel, but when he comes to power, he has no problem with Israel,” he said.
Ziedan’s statement might be indicative of a larger trend in the Arab world, particularly since the Arab Spring.

There aren’t major signs of a change in overall attitude towards Israel and Jews, but the protests across the region show that the populations are blaming their problems on their leaders instead of outside influences. In each case where there was an uprising, the rulers accused their opponents of playing into the hands of the anti-Islam conspiracy of the Zionists. And in each case, it failed to dissuade the opposition.

The Syrian regime is an example of one government that has played the “Jewish conspiracy” card and has been disappointed by the result.

In 2011, shortly after the Syrian uprising began, Assad and his allies tried to provoke Israel into an armed conflict on Nakba Day, hoping to turn the population’s focus towards an external enemy. It failed. The protests against Assad continued to intensify and there was no outbreak of anti-Western fervor that his regime could capitalize on.

As the revolution escalated and turned into a civil war, the Palestinian population in Syria turned against Assad despite his years of sponsorship of Palestinian terrorism. When the regime tried to remind the Palestinians of his support for their cause, one Palestinian from a refugee camp said, “We will not accept to be a bargaining chip for the Syrian regime.”

The regime deployed Ahmed Jibril, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command to rally support. He called for a united front against Israel and Palestinian protestors threw rocks at him and shouted at him for trying to take advantage of them. Clashes began between the Palestinians that support the Syrian rebels and the PFLP-GC terrorist group.

The point here isn’t that the Arab world (and the broader Muslim world) is having a revolution in their thinking towards Israel, Jews and the West. The point is that they are becoming aware that their rulers are manipulating the Palestinian and anti-Israel cause for political purposes.

This is what Egyptian Armed Forces commander General El-Sisi was talking about when he boldly declared that the Muslim world needs to revise its thinking. Instead of blaming the Muslim world’s troubles on an anti-Islam conspiracy by Zionists, General El-Sisi and Youssef Ziedan are looking inward.

El-Sisi said: “Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people, pointing to the need for a new vision and a modern, comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam—rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years.”

Again, negative attitudes towards Jews and Israel won’t change for a long time. The first step is critical thinking and skepticism about anti-Semitic and anti-Western propaganda. And we are seeing that first step, albeit a baby step, being taken now.

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Egypt's El-Sisi Boldly Calls For Islamic Reformation

Wed, January 22, 2014
Egyptian women express their support for General El-Sisi after voting for the new non-Islamist constitution. (Photo: © Reuters)
Egyptian women express their support for General El-Sisi after voting for the new non-Islamist constitution. (Photo: © Reuters)

General El-Sisi, the commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces and current head of state, is essentially calling for a reformation in Islam. His bold declaration comes as the Egyptian people approved a constitution in a vote that the Muslim Brotherhood boycotted.

The speech, which went unnoticed in the Western media, took place at the Armed Forces’ Department of Moral Affairs. In the speech, El-Sisi said:

“Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people, pointing to the need for a new vision and a modern, comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam—rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years.”

Notice what El-Sisi did not say. He did not say Zionism or Western oppression is the greatest threat to Egypt, nor did he point to a specific group like Al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood. He accurately framed the struggle as an ideological one within Islam.

When he refers to the “discourse that has not changed for 800 years,” he’s referring to when the most qualified Islamic scholars of that time ruled that all questions about interpretation had been settled. The “gates” of ijtihad, the independent interpretation of Islam, ended by the year 1258. He wants the “gates” reopened, allowing for the critical examination that an Islamic reformation needs.

Elsewhere in the speech, Sisi “called on all who follow the true Islam to improve the image of this religion in front of the world, after Islam has been for decades convicted of violence and destruction around the world, due to the crimes falsely committed in the name of Islam.”

This is another important declaration. He attributes Islamic extremism to this lack of discourse. He doesn’t blame it on a Jewish conspiracy to defame Islam or describe it as an overreaction to non-Muslim aggression.

He is also pre-empting the Islamists’ inevitable attack that he is an apostate by stating that Muslims are advancing Islam by having this discourse and turning away from violence. He takes away the argument from extremists that they are the model of a devout Muslim.

The next question is whether El-Sisi has the standing in Muslim opinion to be listened to. For now, the answer is yes. The Egyptian military that he leads has a 70% favorability rating, while the Muslim Brotherhood’s rating is at 34%. He is almost certain to run for president and, at this stage, is likely to win.

When the military toppled President Morsi and El-Sisi announced the suspension of the Islamist-written constitution, he was joined by the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University, an institution that is basically the equivalent of the Vatican for Sunni Islam. To date, Al-Azhar has not broken with El-Sisi or condemned his remarks.

Other influential Egyptians may endorse El-Sisi’s view. In January 2011, former Egyptian Islamist Tawfik Hamid reported that 25 Islamic scholars, including teachers from Al-Azhar, said that ijtihad needed to be resumed. The 10 points they listed for renewed examination included the separation of mosque and state, women’s rights, relations with non-Muslims and jihad.

Calls for reform and ijtihad can be heard beneath the visible surface of the Muslim world. In my own experience, I’ve heard many average Muslims endorse reformation but their views are not reflected in the national leadership.

Some of these reformist Muslims want to reopen the “gates” of ijtihad, while others say they never considered them closed to begin with. For example, Tunisian professor Dr. Muhamd El-Haddad, argues, “Daily life has evolved radically since the last millennium, but there has been no accompanying development in mainstream Muslim legal theory.”

Professor Ziauddin Sadar of London wrote in 2002 that that Islamic doctrine is “frozen in time” and there are three doctrinal pillars that need reform: “The elevation of the Shari’ah to the level of the Divine, with the consequent removal of agency from the believers, and the equation of Islam with the State.”

Those that argue that the “gates” were never closed include Malcolm Jardine, who wrote a thoroughly-researched essay on the topic. In 2006, the U.S.-based Nawawi Foundation published a study by Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah with the premise that Islam “never had a doorkeeper to close it in the first place.”

General El-Sisi and the overall backlash against the Islamists may spark what the world needs most: An Islamic reformation. It is not enough to topple Islamists. Their ideological underpinning must be debated and defeated. The determinations of scholars from 800 years can no longer be treated as eternal truth, but for what they really are—opinions influenced by the times in which they were made.

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Apartheid Israel

So strange. Israel is contemptuously named an Apartheid state. Within Israel live a multitude of Jews from all over the world, bringing to the country their varied cultures under the umbrella of Judaism; Jews from Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, France, United Kingdom, India, Canada, Australia, countries too countless to name, but all adding to the majority population of Jews in a Jewish state.

On the other hand, there are over a million Arabs living in Israel as citizens of the state. There are Kurds and Druze, Christians from Greece and Macedonia and elsewhere in the world, making their homes in Israel and enjoying the full privileges of citizenship and all that it entails. Not all are loyal to Israel, though they value their status there as citizens. There are Arab-Israeli members of the Knesset who actively work against the interests of the state that gives them the authority to represent their people.

If this is not a pluralistic, accepting, democratic-liberal society, then what other society is there that practices the level of inclusiveness and fairness in justice that Israel does? It has been forced to adopt a separation barrier between its border and that of the neighbouring Palestinians, a situation brought to bear by the ongoing violently brutal onslaughts of suicide bombers taking the lives of ordinary Israeli citizens in vengeance slaughter for its existence.

The statelet-governing Hamas in Gaza has dedicated itself to the elimination of the State of Israel, and the freeing of the land from its presence, to reconsecrate it as land dedicated to Islamic rule. Under Hamas, various jihadi militias have been enabled to lob thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israel. This, after Israel's then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to leave Gaza, withdrawing all settlers and IDF military.

Leaving one of the Palestinian Territories to the able administration of the Palestinians themselves turned out to be a rather interesting lesson in the mindset of intransigence. No Jews exist in Gaza, just as Jews were expelled from other countries of the Middle East where they had become Arabized over thousands of years living as Jews in Arab countries like Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Tunisia, among others.

This is Apartheid, that the Palestinian Authority has stated categorically that it will admit no Jews to live within the borders of a new state.
"Nothing shows the Palestinian Authority's unwillingness to reach an accord with Israel than their extreme and reckless reaction to an unofficial report. An accord will only be reached when the Palestinians recognize the Jewish state and when the essential interests to the security of Israeli citizens are guaranteed."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Arab countries celebrate their Judenrein status. Israel goes about its business as a country that has absorbed world Jewry, allowing them the comfort of returning to their heritage, in the knowledge that if they are wanted nowhere else, their home is in Israel. At the same time, Israel extends humanitarian aid to its neighbours, as well as accepting that those who are most strenuous in their vehemence against Israel, accept favours from Israel nonetheless.

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas whose viperous hatred for Israel dedicates him to its destruction, has three sisters, Kholidia, Laila and Sabah who are citizens of Israel, living in the Bedouin town of Tel Sheva in Southern Israel. There's that, and there's the fact that in 2012 Israeli authorities granted permission to Haniyeh's sister Suhila Abd el-Salam Ahmed Haniyeh to travel with her critically ill husband for emergency heart treatment in Israel.

After that successful treatment at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva, Israel, they returned to their home in Gaza. No doubt relieved to exit the Apartheid regime which saved the husband's life, eager to return to their safe and secure home in Gaza where all is lightness and loving kindness.

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The Middle East, Its Gifts

Never a geography of stability, the Middle East is collapsing in upon itself in utter dysfunction as Islam generates a new era of fanatically violent jihadists intent on establishing a worldwide Islamist rule, returning to the concept of the medieval-era Caliphate. Where Islam is to rule supreme, imposing Sharia law upon all those shuddering under the weight of its demands of submission.

Tribalism, clan loyalties, sectarian hatred and a treasure-house of weapons have led to a vitriolic ideology of the supreme sacrifice to be sought by the faithful to pure Islam; martyrdom. The death cult of the martyrs eager to elevate Islam to its rightful status on the world stage is convulsing the Middle East as one country after another struggles to contain the appetite of violent jihad among its young men, idle but for the promise of bloody conquest.

But there are also other concerns that impinge on the Middle East, besides the self-defeating hatreds between Shia and Sunni, the shared hatred of Israel as a Western-Jewish presence on Islamic-consecrated land, and the hatred of the despised American infidels that have embroiled the African Maghreb as well. Oil plenitude has led to water scarcity.

Ethiopia is damming up the Blue Nile, acutely diminishing its flow to Egypt. The Euphrates and the Tigris rivers are drying up, impacting Syria and Iraq. Yemen's focus on irrigation for its narcotic qat harvest has left it limited water supplies, threatening Sana'a's future in the region with irreparable drought conditions. Saudi Arabia is depleting its aquifers through its wheat-growing attempts.

The geography now suffers from increasing electricity blackouts. The birth rate always celebrated as being among the highest in the world, is undergoing a collapse. Iran has seen the steepest decline in birth rates, from 6.6 births per woman in 1977 to 1.6 in 2012, creating in the country an "apocalyptic panic" that one analyst claims fuels Tehran's aggressive streak.

Repressive governments, archaic social-cultural mores, the denigration of women, curriculum-poor schools, and leaders governing with disdain for those whose lives they control, all represent a formula for despair and ruin. Polygamy, genital mutilation, honour killing and burqas relegate women to life in the most oppressive area of the world. Foreign workers are brought in to do work that oil-rich citizens disdain, and they are inhumanely exploited without compassion.

Toronto Star

Biases within the prevailing cultures and their Islamic overlay focusing on religion, sect, ethnic grouping, tribal antipathies, skin colour, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, and the scourge of slavery mark out the social conscience of the area. The governments of the states in the Middle East expend vast amounts of treasury not on the well-being of their people, but on advanced weaponry.

Of that weaponry, nuclear weapons are considered the cream that many aspire to acquire for themselves. Tanks, ships and planes are all very well, but there is nothing like nuclear weapons to inspire respect in the Middle East. Even al-Qaeda plots to somehow manage its search for weapons of mass destruction, an enabling device to the achievement of their domination goal.

And as those who live miserable lives deprived of freedom and justice seek to leave and migrate to the world of the West where freedoms denied them in the Middle East are a way of life in Europe and North America, they bring along with them the culture, the religion, the social values that led them to leave their places of birth in desperation to achieve quality of life elsewhere.

In the process, settling into their new freedoms, imposing upon the societies which they join, the burdens of accepting the very issues, values, priorities and suspicions leading to conflict that infiltrate their societies, subtly overtaking the indigenous culture, values and system of justice, kindly enabled through a sense of obligation to the less fortunate.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ex-president warns Ukraine 'on brink of civil war'

BBC News online -- 29 January 2014
Steve Rosenberg visits Kiev's "protest town", which is equipped with food stalls, a church tent, and a makeshift hospital

Ukraine's first post-independence president has warned the country is on the "brink of civil war".
Leonid Kravchuk, president from 1991 to 1994, urged parliament to "act with the greatest responsibility" as it debates an amnesty for detained protesters.

President Viktor Yanukovych wants any amnesty to be conditional on protesters leaving official buildings and dismantling barricades.

The EU's foreign policy chief said all parties must hold "real dialogue".


Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk's dramatic warning that the country stood on the "brink of civil war" and is gripped by "revolution" did not reveal any secrets.
But it was a timely reminder of what could lie at the end of Ukraine's bitter political standoff if a peaceful resolution isn't found soon.
Many might dispute that the divisions in Ukraine's society are as clear cut as east-west, or Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking, and, to be sure, much of this is mitigated by other aspects such as differences in outlook between the young and old.
Nevertheless, it is undeniable that the country is dangerously divided into, roughly speaking, two mutually antagonistic, and very often mutually-uncomprehending, political camps.
But the immediate risk is not civil war. Many observers question whether the people in the east are ready to risk their lives for President Viktor Yanukovych's government. But widespread violence is very real - and this in turn could balloon eventually into a conflict that embraces more and more of Ukrainian society.
Catherine Ashton, who is holding talks in Kiev with the president and opposition leaders, said she was shocked by the unrest, and that there was "no question that the importance of finding a quick and peaceful way forward is on everyone's minds".

"The solution has to be found that's going to help move the country forward, and it needs to be a political process that is engaged in quickly and properly by everyone.
"The responsibility is inevitably going to fall on government to do that as quickly as possible," she said.

The protests began in November after Mr Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign a long-awaited trade deal with the EU, instead favouring stronger ties with Russia.

At least five people have been killed and a number of government buildings across the country have been occupied. Hundreds of people remain on the streets of the capital, Kiev.

A policeman was shot dead in Kiev on Wednesday, said officials. It was not immediately clear whether the shooting was related to the protests.

Ukraine's parliament is debating an amnesty for the scores of protesters detained since demonstrations began, in the hope of calming the unrest.

Mr Kravchuk told them: "All the world acknowledges and Ukraine acknowledges that the state is on the brink of civil war.
Former Ukraine President Leonid Kravchuk in parliament (29 Jan 2014) Leonid Kravchuk received a standing ovation for his speech
"It is a revolution. It is a dramatic situation in which we must act with the greatest responsibility," he said in an emotional address that earned him a standing ovation.

"We need to ease the confrontation between the sides and agree a plan to solve the conflict. We need to work on this plan step by step to ease the confrontation."

Interim PM Serhiy Arbuzov

Ukraine acting Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov (29 Jan 2014)
  • 37 years old and staunchly loyal to Mr Yanukovych
  • Began career as a bank manager in Donetsk
  • Head of Ukraine's central bank between 2010 and 2012
  • Joined cabinet in December 2012 and was deputy PM until Mykola Azarov's resignation
  • Known in the media as "the family banker" because of close ties to the Yanukovych family
MPs are expected to vote on the bill later on Wednesday.
Earlier, speaker Volodymyr Rybak said there were "several unresolved issues" but that discussions would continue.

The amnesty bill requires protesters to leave their main protest camp in central Independence Square [Maidan], but opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk said this was "unacceptable for us".

A number of activists who had been occupying an agriculture ministry building abandoned the property on Wednesday, after apparent pressure from moderate protesters.

The protesters won significant concessions on Tuesday as MPs voted overwhelmingly to repeal a controversial two-week old anti-protest law, which had banned the wearing of helmets by protesters and the blockading of public buildings.

The law had fuelled major protests around the country and deadly clashes with the police.
The BBC's Oleg Boldyrev says is evidence of infighting between different protest groups
Protester on barricade in Kiev. 28 Jan 2014 Protesters have been camped out in freezing conditions in the capital since November
Protesters leave and agriculture ministry building in Kiev, Ukraine (29 Jan 2014) Several government buildings have been occupied in recent days - here a group leaves the agriculture ministry
Protesters on barricade in Kiev on 29 Jan 2014 President Yanukovych wants any amnesty to be conditional on barricades being taken down
Protester on barricade in Kiev. 28 Jan 2014     
But the protesters say they will not go home until the president resigns and calls elections
Mr Yanukovych also accepted the resignation of his Prime Minister Mykola Azarov. He has been replaced on an interim basis by his deputy, Serhiy Arbuzov.

The cabinet resigned with him, but can remain in post for 60 days until a new government is formed.
Foreign 'interference'
Both US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have underlined their support for the demonstrators.

Mrs Merkel told Germany's parliament the demonstrators were "fighting for the same values that also guide us, the European Union, and that is why they need to be listened to".

Ukraine unrest - key dates

21 Nov 2013: Ukraine announces it will not sign a deal aimed at strengthening ties with the EU
30 Nov: Riot police detain dozens of anti-government protesters in a violent crackdown in Kiev
17 Dec: Russia agrees to buy $15bn of Ukrainian government bonds and slash the price of gas it sells to the country
16 Jan 2014: Parliament passes law restricting the right to protest
22 Jan: Two protesters die from bullet wounds during clashes with police in Kiev; protests spread across many cities
25 Jan: President Yanukovych offers senior jobs to the opposition, including that of prime minister, but these are rejected
28 Jan: Parliament votes to annul protest law and President Yanukovych accepts resignation of PM and cabinet 
Mr Obama, in his State of the Union address, said that "all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully, and have a say in their country's future".

The White House said Vice-President Joe Biden had spoken by telephone to President Yanukovych and praised the "progress made".

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has criticised what he called foreign "interference", saying Ukrainians were "capable of solving this on their own".

Protests have spread in recent days across Ukraine - even to President Yanukovych's powerbase in the east - and official buildings in several cities have been occupied.

Mr Yanukovych was democratically elected in 2010 and appeared to be steering the former Soviet state towards EU integration until he rejected the planned EU trade deal just days before it was due to be signed last November.

His decision to favour instead a $15bn (£9bn) bailout from Russia to bolster the ailing public finances angered many EU supporters in Ukraine.

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The Anointed

"He is simply adored here. I don't think there's another leader except Nasser who has so much support here. There are even chocolates wrapped with pictures of Sisi and his picture is shown everywhere."
"The majority of Egyptians have never supported an ideology -- they've supported competence. Now we have gas, we have electricity, crime is down. That is what Egyptians want."
"People lost their lives in the fight to get rid of Mubarak. I don't think you can go backwards to authoritarianism. I think we are moving in the right direction. Stability must come first and then democracy."
Maye Kassem, professor of political science, Cairo

"What's in charge of Egypt is the army, the interior ministry, intelligence services, judiciary, media and bureaucracy. There's no one except (General Sisi) who can control all these different institutions."
Ziad Aki, senior researcher, Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Cairo
Leaked audio recording emerges in which strongman defence minister appears to detail a bizarre series of dreams predicting his future rule of Egypt
Gen Abdulfattah al-Sisi seemingly found the answers to questions of his future in nocturnal visions Photo: AFP
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has given their seal of approval to a potential presidential candidature on the part of Army chief Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, the de facto head of Egypt, currently assisting the interim government. Just incidentally interim President Adly Mansour has announced a promotion for General Sisi. From general to field marshall, the top rank in the military as a final honour, ushering him formally out of Egypt's military.

For it is only civilians who should present as presidential material in a new election to form a final government. And Field Marshall Sisi will make an excellent civilian, proud of his Egyptian heritage and sufficiently sacrificial of his civilian status to take on the presidency of this largest of all Arab countries. No ordinary civilian is he since he graduated from an Egyptian military academy with a diploma in military sciences; and where else to practise what he learned than in the military?

He studied at Britain's joint Services Command Staff College then earned a master's degree at the U.S. army War College in 2006. Appointed head of military intelligence in Egypt in February 2011, he was one of the youngest members of the military elite. And named head of the military by Egypt's first civilian president, democratically elected Mohammed Morsi.

Although as a result it was rumoured that he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, he is not. Peculiarly while ex-President Morsi's wife wore a hijab, Field Marshall Al-Sisi's wife wears a niqab in public, her face concealed, even while her husband's is embroidered on cupcakes and chocolate treats, beloved by the Egyptian masses as their very own saviour from oppressive Islamism.

A fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood has seen it finally branded as a terrorist organization. It has been accused of orchestrating violence, though they deny the charge. Undeniably they are guilty as accused, and will be found so in the courts of law they will be brought before. Their former trusted military chief will be presiding over the affairs of the country.

And if the recent past events are any hint, he will be performing admirably.

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Abandoning Hope

"Either these people have no capacity to express their love and care for Syria, or they are ordered by foreign powers to ignore what is most important and most urgent for their country."
Bouthaina Shaaban, Assad adviser
Syrian children hide behind sand bags on the street in the central town of Rastan, near Homs. UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who met with President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on March 10, said he had made 'concrete' proposals to the Syrian leader on ways to halt the attacks and secure humanitarian access to cities where the United Nations says thousands have been killed in the past year.
STR/AFP/Getty Images

The last, desperate attempts to have the Syrian regime representatives meet alongside representatives of the Syrian opposition with UN special adviser/intermediary Lakhdar Brahimi fielding and interpreting, countering and reiterating, acting as a go-between for the two sides refusing to so much as acknowledge one another's presence, has resulted in not very much of anything.

Nevertheless, Mr. Baahimi, an experienced, seasoned interlocutor expressed not an attitude of defeat, but of hope.

There is scant hope to be had in the fact that the Syrian government -- which, in effect is President Bashar al-Assad himself -- refuses to discuss his replacement, interim or otherwise as leader of a country he feels entitled to rule through familial inheritance. It is his country, in the sense that it is his domain within which he is free to do as he will to settle an internal argument of his Shia Alawite sect ruling a majority Sunni population.

And if that freedom to act includes bombing his own cities, including Damascus, Aleppo and Homs, then so be it, for they are his to determine how best to mount his defensive against the terrorists that threaten his indomitable reign. His opponents cannot possibly be loyal Syrians in forming a determination to challenge the unchallengeable. They are curs, scum, foreign-invested jihadists whose business is to bring chaos and collapse to his country.
Smoke rises from a building that was shelled by the  Syrian army in Homs province.
Homs City Union of the Revolution/AP

It is irrelevant that even as his delegation agrees to permit women and children to exit their place of confining starvation in Homs, his military is still bombing them. It is of no moment that he saw fit to bomb a Damascus suburb and its sleeping residents with weapons of mass destruction, enabling sarin to destroy the lives of a thousand innocent men, women and children. It is a blatant lie that he has authorized his troops to abduct, torture and slaughter men from villages he views as resistant to his rule.

So it is entirely logical and indeed consistent that his adviser present at the negotiations expressed her horror at the lack of "love and care for Syria" on the part of the opposition, for having the unmitigated gall to reject the regime's offers to settle the situation to the regime's satisfaction; an "expression of good will" in search of common ground.

The common ground the opposition is intent on approaching is the elevation of a transitional government with full executive powers to lead the country until legitimate elections can be held.

Little wonder there is irreconcilability on the part of the two sides; the reasonable regime and the utterly fathomless, unreasonable opposition.

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The Normalization of Anti-Semitism

"Today we are witnessing the absolute democratization of anti-Semitism. A symbol invented by a so-called comedian that allows young people out for a drink, soldiers having a laugh and even a footballer scoring a goal to have their own unique opportunity for Jew hatred."
Moshe Kantor, president, European Jewish Congress, EU Brussels

"Walking here, on this soil soaked with blood of our brothers and sisters, we must assure our children and future generations that a different world, full of hope and free of fear, can be built."
Israeli coalition leader, Yariv Levin

Poland wishes to be known as the place where Auschwitz is located, but as a death camp planned, built, maintained and intent on slaughtering innocent people as a monumental affront to human decency mounted by Nazi Germany within an occupied Poland. Auschwitz is a German death camp, not a Polish death camp; it existed on occupied territory, making victims of the militarily oppressed and focusing largely on the annihilation of European Jewry.

The annual ceremony at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial memorializing the lives of one and a half million people who perished there, mostly because they happened to be Jews, took place on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A day established by the United Nations to honour the memory of six million Holocaust victims. A formality which must have seemed to the United Nations the politically correct thing to do, but one that comes off as sanctimonious in view of the blatant anti-Semitism that runs through those hallowed halls like a river of poisonous malevolence.

Half of Israel's Kenesset members were present for the occasion. Twenty survivors of the deadliest, most wretched horror that mankind ever devised in the intention to destroy a people, walked through the gates under which the infamous words "Arbeit Macht Frei" masked the ferociously deadly camp's purpose. People enslaved by the Nazi juggernaut were in fact worked to death, finding freedom at last when their spirits departed their wracked bodies.

Holocaust survivors arrive for a ceremony to mark the 69th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Nazi death camp's in ...
Holocaust survivors arrive for a ceremony to mark the 69th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Nazi death camp's in Oswiecim, Poland, on Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, since the Soviet Red Army liberated the camp. Israeli lawmakers and government officials are to attend anniversary observances later in the day. The Nazis killed some 1.5 million people, mostly Jews at the camp during World War II. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
And those were the ones who were deemed in good enough physical condition to be used as slave labour. Others far less -- or more -- fortunate as the case may be, were directed immediately to the death chambers. The carbonized soot that darkened the skies over the death camp nourished the soil around the area. Where there was no compassion there still remained hope, and there were survivors, those whom fortune permitted to endure and to survive. To have the courage to move once again under that gate.

Speaking on behalf of the Knesset lawmakers present of whom there was a 60-MK contingent, Mr. Levin iterated that people in Israel should know from their experiences that they must rely upon their own resources and determination to persevere and make a place for themselves in a world that has always rejected their presence. The place they have made for themselves in a return to the geography of their ancient heritage just happens to be in a world that continues vehemently to reject their presence.

And in Italy, President Giorgio Napolitano characterized threats against Rome's ancient Jewish community in recent days as a "miserable provocation", speaking in particular of the delivery of packages containing pig heads to the main synagogue in Rome.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hate-Filled Protest in France Attracts Thousands; Crowd Chants ‘Jew, France Is Not for You!’ (VIDEO)

January 27, 2014 
French protesters in Paris on "Day of Anger," on January 26, 2014. Photo: Screenshot / JSS News.
French protesters in Paris on the "Day of Anger," January 26, 2014. Photo: Screenshot / JSS News. 

A hate-filled protest took place on the streets of Paris on Sunday, with thousands of marchers chanting, “Jew, France is not for you,” the French JSS News reported.

JSS News said police counted 17,000 protesters (the protest groups claimed they numbered 120,000). 150 were arrested and 19 policemen suffered injuries, including one who was seriously wounded, according to AFP.

Security forces used tear gas to disperse several hundred youths who lobbed bottles, fireworks, iron bars and dustbins at police, AFP said.

The protest, dubbed the “Day of Anger,” initially focused on denigrating French President Francois Hollande, who has been unable to stem steep French unemployment and the perception that minorities, particularly Islamic immigrants, have taken all the jobs.

AFP noted that while the protesters appeared to represent France’s reactionary factions, representatives of its largest Far Right party were absent from the march. Besides Jews, the chanting also focused on homosexuals — “Gays out, dogs are welcome,” was one refrain reported by JSS News.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls condemned the violence “by individuals, varied groups from the extreme and ultra-right, whose only goal is to create unrest,” AFP reported.

AFP quoted Sacha Reingewirtz, president of French Jewish students union UEJF, who condemned the “anti-Semitic slogans and Nazi salutes” of the protesters. “This ‘Day of Anger’ has turned into a day of hate,” Reingewirtz told AFP.

New York City-based French-Israeli artist Ron Agam, son of Israel’s Yaakov Agam, told The Algemeiner that the protests were both “terrible” and a cause to be “very worried.”

Agam said the protests were “very disturbing” and could “have a devastating multiplier effect” if their anger spreads. “History has taught us the consequences of these micro événements. Terrible, Terrible.”

“I am calling on the French Parliament to legislate very stringent laws against anti-Semitism and outbursts of this kind before it’s too late to stop it. What is today a few thousand flare-ups can quickly become ten thousand or more,” Agam said. “We have seen this before. The socio-economic climate in France is suitable ground for the beast of anti-Semitism to arise aggressively. I am very worried.”

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Ukraine's PM Azarov and government resign

BBC News online -- 28 January 2014
Protesters in Kiev say they are in no hurry to leave, despite the protest laws being annulled, as Duncan Crawford reports
Ukraine's President Viktor Yanukovych has accepted the resignation of the prime minister and his cabinet amid continuing anti-government protests.

Mykola Azarov had offered to step down as prime minister to create "social and political compromise".

The move came after the Ukrainian parliament voted overwhelmingly to annul a controversial anti-protest law.

The protests have spread in recent days across Ukraine, even to President Yanukovych's stronghold in the east.
Official buildings in several cities have been occupied.


Ukraine's months-old protest movement against President Yanukovych's government will not end suddenly because of the repeal of the controversial "anti-protest" law or Prime Minister Azarov's resignation.
But they are a definite sign that tectonic plates in the country's political landscape have started to shift. Where there was once deadlock, now there is movement.
It isn't clear where the shifting will end up: This is only the first tremor. The law's repeal returns Ukraine pretty much to status quo ante. Much also depends on who replaces Mr Azarov, when he takes office and how much latitude Mr Yanukovych will allow him.
The country's three opposition leaders are suspicious of Mr Yanukovych. The protesters on the street are distrustful of the lot of them. But for the moment, Mr Azarov is on his way out. Two months ago - actually two weeks ago - that would have been unthinkable.
Tuesday saw the interior ministry report that three protesters had stabbed and wounded three policemen in the southern city of Kherson, one of whom later died. 

In total, at least five people have been killed in violence linked to the protests.
Parliament - holding an emergency debate on the crisis - voted by 361 to 2 to repeal the protest legislation, which among other measures banned the wearing of helmets by protesters and the blockading of public buildings.

The law had helped fuel the demonstrations which began in Independence Square in the capital, Kiev, after Mr Yanukovych pulled out of a planned trade deal with the European Union last November in favour of a $15bn (£9bn) bailout from Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at an EU-Russia summit in Brussels, said all the agreements reached with Mr Azarov would remain in place despite the resignation even if the opposition formed the next government.

The loan was to "support the people of Ukraine, not the government. It's the people, the common people that suffer", he told a news conference after talks with EU leaders.
MPs had applauded in parliament as the result of the annulment vote was announced.
There was a similar response in Kiev's Independence Square, which remains the focal point of the demonstrations.

A BBC correspondent who went to the square described it as relatively quiet with no sign of the recent violence which has affected parts of central Kiev.

Parliament adjourned after the vote on the protest law and discussions on the issue of granting an amnesty to convicted protesters proved inconclusive.

Mr Yanukovych had offered an amnesty only if protesters cleared barricades and stopped attacking government buildings.
Anti-government protester carries tyres to reinforce barricades built to fend off riot police in Kiev, 28 January 2014 Anti-government protests continue in Kiev and across Ukraine
Ukrainian riot police stand in formation facing barricades constructed by anti-government protesters in Kiev, 28 January 2014 Riot police have clashed violently with protesters on many occasions since the demonstrations began
In his resignation statement, Prime Minister Azarov said: "To create additional opportunities for social and political compromise and for a peaceful solution to the conflict, I made a personal decision to ask the president of Ukraine to accept my resignation as prime minister of Ukraine."

The government had "done everything to ensure the peaceful resolution of the conflict" and would do "everything possible to prevent bloodshed, an escalation of violence, and violation of citizen's rights", he said.

The BBC's David Stern, in Kiev, says that two weeks ago, Mr Azarov's resignation would have been unthinkable.

Key dates

21 Nov 2013: Ukraine announces it will not sign a deal aimed at strengthening ties with the EU
30 Nov: Riot police detain dozens of anti-government protesters in a violent crackdown in Kiev
17 Dec: Russia agrees to buy $15bn of Ukrainian government bonds and slash the price of gas it sells to the country
16 Jan 2014: Parliament passes law restricting the right to protest
22 Jan: Two protesters die from bullet wounds during clashes with police in Kiev; protests spread across many cities
25 Jan: President Yanukovych offers senior jobs to the opposition, including that of prime minister, but these are rejected
28 Jan: Parliament votes to annul protest law and President Yanukovych accepts resignation of PM and cabinet
Despite the president accepting their resignations, the cabinet can remain in their posts for 60 days until a new government is formed.

President Yanukovych had already offered Mr Azarov's job to the opposition at the weekend, proposing that Fatherland leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk take the post. Mr Yatsenyuk declined the offer.
Meanwhile, top EU diplomat Catherine Ashton has brought forward a planned visit to Ukraine by 48 hours and will now arrive on Tuesday for meetings with Mr Yanukovych and opposition leaders.
She said she was "alarmed" by reports on Monday that the government was preparing to introduce a state of emergency. Officials have denied any such plan.

Baroness Ashton arrives from Brussels after attending the EU-Russia summit.
After meeting Mr Putin at the summit, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said: "The European Union is closely following the events in Ukraine and strongly condemns violence.
"We call for restraint and those responsible to be held to account."

Ukrainian session of parliament in Kiev, 28 January 2014 Parliament voted to abandon a law it passed just two weeks ago
Supporters of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych hold placards during a protest outside the Parliament in Kiev, 28 January 2014 Outside parliament, Yanukovych supporters held a demonstration condemning the protests
In a statement, Mykola Azarov said he had taken "a very difficult, but a responsible decision"

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A Disordered Ukraine

"Ukraine is showing Belarus an example of how one should fight for freedom. I am sure that our countries have a common future in Europe, where neither Ukrainians nor Belarusians will die."
Vladimir Neklyaev, Belarusian opposition leader
Tires burn as anti-government protesters hold their position near Dynamo stadium. Photo / Getty Images
Tires burn as anti-government protesters hold their position near Dynamo stadium. Photo / Getty Images
Arriving in Kiev in solidarity with the Ukrainian protests, Mikhail Zhiznevsky was one of three protesters who died on Wednesday during clashes between protesters and the riot police. And Vladimir Neklyaev was there to pay homage to his countryman. As in Moscow, where Vladimir Putin has harassed and jailed his political opponents Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has done the same with his.

On the other hand, after ignoring appeals from the opposition for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to meet with the opposition to hear their grievances and offer concessions, the strength of the protests and the velocity of their growth outside Kiev has finally compelled him to make promises, even to offering to make Arseniy Yatsenyuk the country's prime minister. To which Mr. Yatsenyuk responded that Yanukovych must first resign.

Previously he had infuriated his opponents with his appointment of a hardline security officer as his new chief of staff. Promising to "do everything to stop this conflict ... If we manage to stop them amicably, we will stop them amicably. Otherwise we will use all legal methods provided for by the laws of Ukraine."

The protesters are so impressed that they have turned from being protesters to revolutionaries. Their demonstrations are those of taking over every public building inside the areas they hold by majority rule of the streets, turning them into their areas of command in the campaign to overturn the government.

Trade Union House fell to the demonstrators, and then City Hall. And then the agriculture ministry came into their possession. Downtown Kiev is being transformed. Barricades made of snow-stuffed bags surround Independence Square's Khreshchatyk street entrance. Night time temperatures dipping to minus 20-degrees Celsius are unpleasant to say the least.

The barricades with the first rampart reinforced by burned-out police buses look formidable. Fit young men prepared for a fight wearing camouflage jackets and masks and carrying clubs engage themselves ferociously in confrontation with riot police the other side of a triple barricade on Grushevskogo street.

Police are taunted in their ranks behind metal shields, threateningly clanged repeatedly. At every rampart there are demonstrators prepared to battle with police. The ramparts grow larger with every passing day, new ones sealing off side streets and access roads. President Yanukovych's decision to remain in the Russian orbit bringing back memories of the past to Ukrainians has ensured that his defiance of their wish to make common cause with the European Union has sealed his fate.

Ukrainians who resent his rule and oppose his presence will never rest until he is now removed from power. Demonstrations are no longer confined to the capital. Protests are growing and engulfing the country, spreading to central and eastern Ukraine, even where the support base for the president lies. Hundreds of demonstrators attempted to storm a local administration building in Dnipropetrovsk, driven back by police with water from a fire truck in subfreezing temperatures.

And even while moderate opposition leaders plead with their followers for the violence to end, it appears that President Yanukovych's contempt for the wish of the people to be consulted and considered in long-range plans and affiliations has solidified popular opinion against him without any prospect of accommodation. According to polls, roughly half of Ukrainians wanted deeper integration with the EU, resenting Russia's long influence in their country.

The hard-line right-wing Ukrainian nationalists are fully engaged in a non-compromise attitude toward the government, leaving diplomacy to the moderates among them.

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