“There already has been some spillover into Turkey and Lebanon (where Hezbollah is emboldened) and to some degree, Iraq. The scariest possibility is that this would somehow turn into a generalized Arab-Israeli war or a generalized war of some Arab factions and countries against Israel if Israel were to become involved. And Israel has hinted it may resume airstrikes if Russia ships (anti-aircraft) missiles.”
– Chris Toensing, editor of Middle East Report, on the threat of a wider regional conflict in the Syrian civil war, which began as a peaceful, popular, pro-democracy uprising similar to those in Egypt, Tunisia or Yemen, but was turned into today’s catastrophe by external powers, such as the anti-democratic Saudi Arabian regime
Escalation of Syrian Civil War Threatens Wider Regional Conflict
Interview with Chris Toensing, executive director of the Middle East Research and Information Project and editor of Middle East Report, conducted by Scott Harris
As the Obama administration and the government of Russian leader Vladimir Putin attempt to organize a peace conference to negotiate a diplomatic solution to Syria’s bloody civil war, there are ominous signs that the conflict is escalating and destabilizing neighboring nations. At about the same time that Republican Sen. John McCain met with rebel commanders inside Syria, advocating U.S. lethal assistance to the rebels, the European Union voted to lift a ban on the transfer of arms to forces of the Free Syrian Army. Meanwhile, Russia announced that it intended to fulfill a Syrian government order for sophisticated ground-to-air S-300 missiles. Israel, which has launched several recent air strikes against various weapons caches inside Syria, warned that it may attack the S-300 missiles if delivered.
In Bradley Manning Trial, U.S. Government Strives to Intimidate Future Whistleblowers
Interview with Michael Ratner, Julian Assange’s attorney and president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
The trial of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning got underway this week in a military courtroom at Fort Meade, Md. Manning was arrested just over three years ago and is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified government documents to WikiLeaks. He has been held in prison since his arrest, including time held naked in solitary confinement, purportedly as a measure to prevent his suicide, although Manning was never determined to be a threat to himself. Story continues
Critics Charge Obama Justice Department’s Collection of Journalists’ Phone Records Undermines Press Freedom
Interview with Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, conducted by Scott Harris
Last month, the Associated Press revealed that the Obama administration’s Department of Justice had secretly collected two months’ worth of the news agency’s reporters’ phone call records from several bureau offices, the House of Representatives Press gallery and individual journalists’ home and cell phones. The Department of Justice collection of these phone records is linked to the agency’s investigation into a government leak which surfaced in a 2012 AP story about a foiled terrorist bomb plot in Yemen targeting a U.S.-bound airliner.
This week’s summary of under-reported news Compiled by Bob Nixon
The Christian Science Monitor reports new satellite intelligence shows North Korea is building a massive system of prison camps. These images and witnesses inside the north Asian country indicate the prison camps could hold upwards of 200,000 people. (“New look at vast gulag,” Christian Science Monitor, May 21, 2013)
The United Nations is expanding its anti-poverty goals to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 and is expanding its development policies to include climate change, sustainable development and gender equality. (“New UN goals call for end to extreme poverty by 2030,” The Guardian, May 30, 2013;”Let’s tackle inequality head on for development after the MDGs,” Guardian poverty matters blog, May 15, 2013; “New goals and opportunities ahead of 2014,” The Interdependent, April 8, 2013)
With the outbreak of extreme weather and rising summer temperatures, there is greater demand for up-to-date flood maps. These maps, drawn by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are used to set monthly premiums for flood insurance and help homeowners understand the risk of future floods. (“As need for new flood maps rises, Congress and Obama cut funding,” ProPublica, May 24, 2013)