- Greek politician punches woman on TV
- Greek far left Syriza candidate promises to halt firings of civil servants
- Leon Panetta: U.S. is 'running out of patience' with Pakistan
- Ban Ki-Moon accuses Syria's al-Assad of crimes against humanity
- Syria in grip of growing sectarian conflict
Greek politician punches woman on TV
Ilias Kasidiaris, the spokesman for the far right neo-Nazi Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) political party physically attacked TWO women representing far left Communist parties. During a heated political argument televised to the entire nation, Kasidiaris first threw water from his water glass at Rena Dourou, representing the radical far left Syriza party. That infuriated Liana Kanelli of the Communist Party (KKE), who stood up to confront him. He then slapped and punched her three times. Kasidiaris was locked in a room to wait for the police, but he broke down the door and escaped. As of this writing he's still at large, and the police have issued a warrant for his arrest. Kathimerini
Greek far left Syriza candidate promises to halt firings of civil servants
Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece's far left Syriza party, said on Thursday that his party would not fire any civil servants if it comes to power, ending the cooperation that Greece has embarked on with the European Commission’s Task Force. The previous administration agreed with the European Union to reduce the number of civil servants it employs by 150,000 by 2015, and his opponent, Antonis Samaras, leader of the conservative New Democracy party, has promised to abide by that agreement. According to Tsipras:
Using the [EU-IMF] memorandum as their playbook, New Democracy wants to fire 150,000 civil servants by 2015 but will not address the public sector being bureaucratic and dysfunctional. Firings would limit its basic operations. ... We do not need any task force to tell us what to do.
The chronic weakness of our public administration is mainly due to the plundering of the public sector by governments that imposed party politics and patron-client relations.
EU officials have made it clear that Greece will not continue to receive bailout payments if Tsipras wins and goes through with his threat to stop the austerity requirements. Tsipras claims that EU officials are bluffing.
Greece's unemployment rate continues to increase, rising to 21.9% in April. The unemployment rate among young people (15-24) rose to 52.8%. Kathimerini
Leon Panetta: U.S. is 'running out of patience' with Pakistan
America's increasingly hostile relationship with Pakistan became even worse on Thursday, when U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta refused to end drone strikes on Pakistani terrority, as demanded by may Pakistani officials. Panetta referred to the Haqqani network terrorists' "safe haven" in the tribal areas of Pakistan:
It’s an increasing concern that this safe haven exists and that there are those like the Haqqanis who are making use of that to attack our forces. We are reaching the limits of our patience here. For that reason, it’s extremely important that Pakistan take action to prevent this kind of safe haven.
We have made that very clear time and time again, and we will continue to do that. But as I said, we are reaching the limits of our patience.
Panetta did not indicate what action would be taken when the U.S. finally reaches the limits of its patience. The News (Pakistan)
Ban Ki-Moon accuses Syria's al-Assad of crimes against humanity
Former United Nations secretary-general appeared to have aged 15 years in the last two months, as he told the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday:
I must be frank and confirm that the plan is not being implemented.
[I want to express] horror and condemnation at the fact that a new massacre of tens of civilians including children and women was perpetrated. Those responsible for perpetrating these crimes must be held to account. We cannot allow mass killing to become part of everyday reality in Syria. ...
We must find the will and the common ground to act — and act as one. Individual actions or interventions will not resolve the crisis. As we demand compliance with international law and the six-point plan, it must be made clear that there will be consequences if compliance is not forthcoming.
Annan was referring to news of a new massacre, similar to last week's massacre in Houla. The new massacre was in a village called Al-Kubeir (or al-Qubair), near Hama.
However, the harshest words came from current U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, who said that the new massacre was "shocking and sickening":
The trail of blood leads back to those responsible. Any regime or leader that tolerates such killing of innocents has lost its fundamental humanity.
Ban said that the killings indicated a patter of crimes against humanity, subject to international humanitarian law and possible war crimes prosecution. Now Lebanon / AFP
Syria in grip of growing sectarian conflict
A number of commentators are saying that Syria is already in the grip of a sectarian conflict between the Alawites and the Sunni Muslims. Syria's president Bashar al-Assad is a member of the Alawite group which is considered to be an offshoot of Shia Muslim. Thus, Iran and Hezbollah are supporting al-Assad and the Alawites, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supporting the Sunnis.
Kofi Annan remarked on Thursday that he had met with al-Assad in Damascus nine days ago, and urged him to make a strategic decision to change his path. "Clearly, all parties must cease violence, but equally clearly, the first responsibility is with the government." However, since that meeting nine days ago, two massacres have occurred, and the violence has increased.
The pattern in both massacres was the same: The inhabitants of a Sunni village or hamlet is "softened up" by shelling by the Syrian regular army, and then the Alawite gangs of "Shabiha" criminals and thugs come in and go house to house, slaughtering the everyone, including women and children.
The BBC analyst that I heard on Thursday suggested that these massacres are being driven not by al-Assad but by the Alawite Shabih thugs. Arab Sunnis are 65% of the population of Syria, but they're being ruled by an Alawite minority, and they're sick and tired of being under the boot of the minority. So the Alawites are afraid of losing their privileged position if al-Assad is forced to step down, and so they're driving the massacres in the hope of creating enough confusion that al-Assad will be able to stay on. The Alawites are the real power now, according to this analyst, and they're the ones calling in army strikes and sending in thugs to slaughter Sunnis. Thus, the departure of al-Assad would make no difference at all.
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, what we're seeing in Syria is very similar to scenarios we've seen in Iraq and Thailand. Like Syria, Iraq and Thailand are in generational Awakening eras (like America in the 60s).
In Thailand, the fair-skinned "yellow shirt" Thai-Chinese élites were the ruling minority, while the vast majority of the population were the poor "red shirt" dark-skinned laborers. In Iraq under Saddam Hussein, the Sunni minority was ruling the Shia majority. What happened in both Thailand and Iraq was that the ruling minority used brutal tactics to keep the majority under control, but the majority reasserted itself. Furthermore, this was done without a crisis civil war -- crisis civil wars never occur in generational Awakening eras.
The same thing is now happening in Syria, with the Sunni majority reasserting itself against the Alawite minority. Many people, including Kofi Annan, are talking about a huge civil war in Syria, but that can't happen in a generational Awakening era. However, the problem always was and always will be that this is not just a conflict within Syria; it's a proxy conflict between Iran and other Shias versus Saudi Arabia and other Sunnis. And the inevitable danger is not for a civil war in Syria, but that this will be the trigger for a great Shia vs Sunni war engulfing the entire region. Irish Times