Saturday, September 23, 2006

Syria and the US: Fellow Travelers at the Crossroads for Terrorism

By Amy Goodman and David Goodman


"At his address to United Nations this week, George W. Bush declared that Syria was “the crossroads for terrorism.” Maher Arar knows this first hand. He was kidnapped and sent to be tortured in Syria at the behest of the Bush administration.

Arar was arrested in September 2002 at JFK Airport in New York while changing planes on his way home to Toronto. Twelve days later he was placed on a private jet with CIA agents who were part of a “special removal unit,” flown to Jordan, and driven to Syria, where he was handed over to Syrian military intelligence for interrogation. In Syria, Arar was severely beaten with metal cables, and spent ten months confined to a grave-like cell before being released without charge.

Since September 11, 2001, the extraordinary rendition program has morphed into a global round-up. Suspects are being abducted around the world and dumped in places like Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and Bagram, Afghanistan. These two off-shore American prisons now hold over 1,000 people. Many of these prisoners have never been charged and they languish out of view and outside protection of the law. Others, like the German citizen Khaled el-Masri, have been kidnapped by the U.S. and tortured only to be found to have no ties whatsoever to terrorism.

The Bush administration is now ensnared in its own web of deceit. On September 19, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales responded to the Canadian findings by claiming that the U.S. acted lawfully in sending Arar to Syria. “Mr. Arar was deported under our immigration laws,” said Gonzales, who insisted that Arar was not the victim of a rendition. It was an absurd claim: why wouldn’t the U.S. deport Arar to Canada, where he is a citizen? The answer is obvious: the Bush administration wanted Arar to be tortured, and could be confident of this outcome if he were handed to the Syrians.

When President Bush made torture a centerpiece of his foreign policy, he bound himself intimately to the world’s worst human rights abusers. When it comes to torture, as Maher Arar learned, Syria and the U.S. are fellow travelers at the “crossroads for terrorism.”"


US Troops Killed in Iraq-----------------2,700

"Coalition" Troops Killed in Iraq-------2,935

US Troops Wounded in Iraq-----------20,322

But Bush is still making progress. Hail the DECIDER!



The Facts on the Ground:Mini-Gulags, Hired Guns, Lobbyists, and a Reality Built on Fear

By Tom Engelhardt

"Of course, its prisoners who remained generally uncharged and without access to Iraqi courts, weren't just released to the winds. Quite the opposite, over 3,000 of them were redistributed to two other U.S. prisons, Camp Bucca in Iraq's south and Camp Cropper at the huge U.S. base adjoining Baghdad International Airport, once dedicated to the holding of "high-value" detainees like Saddam Hussein and top officials of his regime.

Had anyone paid the slightest attention – other than the Pentagon, the Bush administration, and whatever company or companies had the contract to construct the facility – it would still have been taken for granted that Camp Cropper wasn't the business of ordinary Americans (or even their representatives in Congress). Despite the fact that the $60 million dollars, which made the camp "state of the art," was surely ours, no one in the United States debated or discussed the upgrade and there was no serious consideration of it in Congress before the money was anted up – any more than Congress or the American people are in any way involved in the constant upgrading of our military bases in Iraq.

Camp Bucca is a story you can't read anywhere – and yet it may, in a sense, be the most important American story in Iraq right now. While arguments spin endlessly here at home about the nature of withdrawal "timetables," and who's cutting and running from what, and how many troops we will or won't have in-country in 2007, 2008, or 2009, on the ground a process continues that makes mockery of the debate in Washington and in the country. While the "reconstruction" of Iraq has come to look ever more like the deconstruction of Iraq, the construction of an ever more permanent-looking American landscape in that country has proceeded apace and with reasonable efficiency.

First, we had those huge military bases that officials were careful never to label "permanent." (For a while, they were given the charming name of "enduring camps" by the Pentagon.) Just about no one in the mainstream bothered to write about them for a couple of years as quite literally billions of dollars were poured into them and they morphed into the size of American towns with their own bus routes, sports facilities, Pizza Huts, Subways, Burger Kings, and mini-golf courses. Huge as they now are, elaborate as they now are, they are still continually being upgraded. Now, it seems that on one of them we have $60 million worth of the first "permanent U.S. prison" in Iraq. Meanwhile, in the heart of Baghdad, the Bush administration is building what's probably the largest, best fortified "embassy" in the solar system with its own elaborate apartment complexes and entertainment facilities, meant for a staff of 3,500.

These are increasingly the crucial realities of our world – and it's not the world of a republic. It's not a world of checks and balances. It's not a world where even a change of ownership in one or both houses of Congress in November would prove a determining factor. It's not a world where people out there are just "starting to question whether we're following our own high standards." It's distinctly not the world as we Americans like to imagine it, but it is the world we are, regrettably enough, lost in. It's the world created not just by a commander-in-chief presidency, but by a Pentagon-in-chief-dominated government, and by a corporation-in-chief style of imperial rule.

It is a world striving for permanence, which doesn't faintly mean that it's permanent – not in Iraq and not here. But it might be helpful if we began to register more fully not just the latest flurry of whatever passes for news, but the facts-on-the-ground that are, every minute, every hour, every day, transforming our lives and our planet."

How Israel is Engineering the "Clash of Civilizations"

From the New "Anti-Semitism" to Nuclear Holocaust



"It is now clear that Israel and its loyalists had three main goals in mind as they began their campaign. Two were familiar motives from previous attempts at highlighting a "new anti-Semitism". The third was new.

The first aim, and possibly the best understood, was to stifle all criticism of Israel, particularly in the US. During the course of 2003 it became increasingly apparent to journalists like myself that the American media, and soon much of the European media, was growing shy of printing even the mild criticism of Israel it usually allowed. By the time Israel began stepping up the pace of construction of its monstrous wall across the West Bank in spring 2003, editors were reluctant to touch the story.

As the fourth estate fell silent, so did many of the progressive voices in our universities and churches. Divestment was entirely removed from the agenda. McCarthyite organisations like CampusWatch helped enforce the reign of intimidation. Academics who stood their ground, like Columbia University's Joseph Massad, attracted the vindictive attention of new activist groups like the David Project.

A second, less noticed, goal was an urgent desire to prevent any slippage in the numbers of Jews inside Israel that might benefit the Palestinians as the two ethnic groups approached demographic parity in the area know to Israelis as Greater Israel and to Palestinians as historic Palestine.

By suggesting that Europe in particular had become a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism, it was hoped that Israeli Jews, many of whom have more than one passport, would be afraid to leave.

The third goal, however, had not seen before. It tied the rise of a new anti-Semitism with the increase of Islamic fundamentalism in the West, implying that Muslim extremists were asserting an ideological control over Western thinking. It chimed well with the post 9-11 atmosphere.

"International terrorism is a mistaken term," Netanyahu added, "not because it doesn't exist, but because the problem is international militant Islam. That is the movement that operates terror on the international level, and that is the movement that is preparing the ultimate terror, nuclear terrorism."

Faced with the evil designs of the "Islamic fascists", such as those in Iran, Israel's nuclear arsenal -- and the nuclear Holocaust Israel can and appears prepared to unleash -- may be presented as the civilised world's salvation."

Book Review: A History of Modern Palestine

By Jim Miles

A History of Modern Palestine – Second Edition. Ilan Pappe. Cambridge University Press, N.Y. 2006. 361 p.

"Without an exact replication of events, the facts will always present a bias, but by choosing from a broader range of information and looking at the “alternative narratives” a more accurate approximate representation of the truth can be made. Pappe’s general view is highly sympathetic to the Palestinian people, recognizing the general trend of Zionist goals acting as a colonial and occupying force in Mandatory Palestine (itself “the façade of an independent state that was in fact a colony”).

Within that framework several themes are clearly evident throughout the history of Palestine. These include the over-riding objective of Jewish land occupation, the dual colonialism of Britain and the Zionists over the Palestinians, followed by that of the Israelis, and concomitant with that, the rise of American support for that colonialism and occupation. Other patterns emerge, including the severe nature of Jewish retaliation for Palestinian guerrilla actions, as they grew with “ferocity and brutality…often out of all proportion.” This has carried through into the recent Lebanon war and the ongoing displacement of Palestinians inside the prison-based Bantustans that the remaining Palestinian territory has become. Militarism as a part of the national culture emerged in 1936, well before the Mandate ended, and negated any form of real negotiative stance except as a diversion to the real purpose of gaining more land.

War obviously created a huge return in land possession and parallel dispossession of the Palestinian people. In 1948, 370 villages were “wiped out” that led to the “almost complete disappearance” of rural Palestine. Terror, forced evacuations, murder, genocide, and the physical erasure of the villages were applied systematically, after which the Zionists moved in to occupy and rename them, the latter “as part of an attempt to prevent future land claim to the villages.”

The other narrative is the ongoing dispossession of the Palestinians under military rule with arbitrary laws, restricted movement, the creation of ongoing settlements throughout the Westbank, the arrests, harassment, torture of the people and the destruction of the infrastructure of their remnant society. More recently, these methods operated under Sharon’s so called Peace Plan and later Bush’s Roadmap to Peace, neither of which provided anything authoritative as a basis to constructively work from, but provided a smokescreen for the ongoing dispossession of Palestinian land."


This and other books are on the list of recommended books, link is on the right.

Nasrallah appears; war-time casualty tolls

by Helena Cobban

"By the way, human rights researchers in Lebanon say that in recent weeks they have been able to travel extensively around south Lebanon. Families of Hizbullah fighters are nearly always eager to note that affiliation on the tombstones and the memorial notices that are widely posted throughout the whole region. Based on this evidence, the researchers estimate that the ratio of Hizbullah fighters to civilians killed in Lebanon is somewhere around 1:7 or 1:8 .

With a total Lebanese casualty toll of about 1,200, that would give a total of about 150 to 170 Hizbullah fighters killed. Among Israelis, the casualty toll was 118 IDF members killed and 39 civilians. RIP, all of them."


Friday, September 22, 2006

Secret contacts between Israel, Saudi Arabia: report

"Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot said Israel and Saudi Arabia have been conducting secret negotiations. "Secret negotiations between Israel and Saudi Arabia," headlined, reporting that contacts had begun during the recent 34-day Israeli war against Lebanon. Asked whether there were secret talks going on with Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying: "I don't have to answer every question". Olmert was quoted as saying, however, he was "very impressed with various acts and statements connected with Saudi Arabia, both those that were made publicly and others as well. "I am very impressed with King Abdullah's insight and sense of responsibility," he added. In March 2002, the Arab League adopted the Saudi proposal that would see the Arab world normalise relations with Israel in exchange for a withdrawal from all land occupied since 1967 and a negotiated solution to the Palestinian refugee issue."

Security reports reveal plots for the assassination of Haneyya

"Gaza – Well informed sources in Gaza revealed that there calls within certain Palestinian political quarters for a policy of physical liquidation of political opponents if talks fail to produce desired results.

Those sources talked about scenarios for the assassination of Ismail Haneyya, the PA Premier, whom they consider to be a hurdle in the face of reaching a final agreement with Israel liquidating the Palestinian question.

The sources pointed the finger of accusation at Muhammad Dahlan in particular, whom the sources described as an influential man as a former head of the preventive security who has his own militia and has got a personal interest in frustrating any possible harmony between the PA president Mahmoud Abbas and the PA government of Hamas.

The sources cited past meetings between Dahlan and Israeli security officers in Rome in January 1994 to discuss plans to contain Hamas.

45-year-old Dahlan was praised personally by George Bush, but Col. Muneer Meqdah, a prominent Fatah military leader described Dahlan as the most dangerous man for the Palestinian issue because of his secret relations with foreign powers."

Sayyed Nasrallah: We have entered an era in which we can dictate our conditions on our enemy


"Hundreds of thousands of people stretched over more than 140 thousand square meters of land in Beirut's southern suburb, coming fom everywhre in Lebanon, at the invitation of Hezbollah secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah to mark the "Divine Victory Festival." Al-Manar said late Thursday that Friday's rally would be "the biggest referendum on the resistance choice."

We should be strong and support our army by demanding that it becomes fully equipped to protect the Lebanese people. The government's responsibility is to protect the people and the UNIFIL should not interfere in internal affairs." Sayyed Nasrallah renewd his pledge to bring back the Lebanese detainees from Israeli jails, through indirect talks and a swap deal to exchange the two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah on June 12 with them. His eminence stressed: "We have entered an era in which we can dictate our conditions on our enemy." "

Republic of Fear

Torture in Bush's Iraq Worse Than Under Saddam


"The republic of fear is born again. The state of terror now gripping Iraq is as bad as it was under Saddam Hussein. Torture in the country may even be worse than it was during his rule, the United Nation's special investigator on torture said yesterday.

The horrors of the torture chamber that led to Saddam Hussein's Iraq being labelled "The Republic of Fear", after the book of that title by Kanan Makiya, have again become commonplace. The bodies in Baghdad's morgue " often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones (back, hands and legs), missing eyes and wounds caused by power drills or nails", the UN report said. Those not killed by these abuses are shot in the head.

Iraq is in a state of primal anarchy. Paradoxically, the final collapse of security this summer is masked from the outside world because the country is too dangerous for journalists to report what is happening. Some 134 journalists, mostly Iraqi, have been killed since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The real number of civilians killed in Iraq is probably much higher because, outside Baghdad, deaths are not recorded.

The new government shows no signs of being more effective than the old. "It is just a government of the Green Zone," said an Iraqi official, referring to the fortified zone in central Baghdad housing the Iraqi government as well as the US and British embassies.

It has long been a matter of amusement and disgust in Iraq that government ministers travel abroad to give press conferences claiming that the insurgency is on its last legs. One former minister said: "I know of ministers who have never been to their ministries but get their officials to bring documents to the Green Zone where they sign them.""

Address to the United Nations

We Need Partners, Not Bosses


"I want to say to you within this framework, I don't come here to tell you how to govern or to threaten a country, or to begin to put conditions on a country, I only want you as international organisations, as a state with solidarity, as nations with principals of reciprocity, of brotherhood, to participate in this process of democratic change.

We feel greatly that the politics of hegemonist competitions are destroying the planet. I feel that all countries, social forces, international organisms are important, let us begin to debate truthfully, in order to save the planet, to save humanity.

This new millennium, the millennium that we find ourselves in needs to be a millennium of life, not of war, a millennium of people and not of empire, a millennium of justice and equality and that any economic policy needs to be orientated towards ending, of at least lessening these so-called asymmetric differences between one country and another country, those social inequalities.

We are not trying to implement policies that allow the economic humiliation or economic looting; when they cannot loot according to the norms, they use troops.

I want to ask with great respect, that it is important to withdraw troops from Iraq if we want to respect human rights, it is important to withdraw economic policies that allow the concentration of capital in only a few hands."

Israel Believes New Assault On Gaza Will Be Necessary

Ryan R. Jones - All Headline News Middle East Correspondent

Jerusalem, Israel (AHN) - Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Dan Halutz was backed by members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday in his assessment that a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip will be necessary in the short term.

In his briefing to the committee, Halutz noted that Gaza-based terror groups continue to import large supplies of war material, including advanced anti-tank missiles. The aim, he said, is to create a situation like that faced by Israel in southern Lebanon this summer.

Former committee chairman and Likud lawmaker Yuval Steinitz urged an immediate and comprehensive air and ground assault to eliminate the terrorist threat before it reaches the level of that posed by Hezbollah.

Right-wing MK Effi Eitam told Ynet that judging by Halutz's comments, it sounds as though the IDF is already preparing such an operation.

Likud MK Silvan Shalom noted that "after two unilateral withdrawals in Lebanon, we saw that the territories cleared have turned into terror bases," and added that "in order to prevent the same situation in Gaza, the IDF must prepare for a preemptive attack."

Gaza-based militants continue to fire Kassam and Katyusha rockets into southern Israel at a rate of several per day, and attempted cross-border assaults are not uncommon.

A terrorist infiltration on June 25 that led to the abduction of an IDF soldier sparked a military response far more limited in scope to the one being proposed by the committee members.

Salman Abu Sitta: The Geography of Occupation (2006), A Video

Professor Salman H. Abu-Sitta of the London-based Palestine Land Society gives a personal account of how he became a refugee in Palestine in 1948. Using data from his research, Abu-Sitta shows how over 600 Palestinian villages were systematically depopulated by the advancing Israeli forces, leaving many others dismembered by an arbitrary cease-fire line. With maps and demographic statistics, Abu-Sitta shows that, in effect, Zionist policies were an ethnic cleasing campaign that resulted in a massive transfer of native Palestinians to the countries bordering Israel, where thousands remain within 100 miles from their original communities. Producer: John Odam


Nasrallah addresses Beirut rally estimated at 500,000 people (CNN)

He urged support of the Palestinian resistance with money and arms.

He implored the Arab nation to enter a new era in which it imposes its terms and conditions on the enemy. He criticized the Arab leaders and said that they will fail in any political settlement with Israel as long as they are unwilling to use any weapon, including the oil weapon.

Hizbullah's military capabilities have been completely replinished. Naval and/or land blockades will not affect us.

Hisbullah's arms are not Shiite, they belong to every Lebanese intent on protecting Lebanon, its sovereignty and independence.

The Israeli prisoners will not be released until all Lebanese prisoners are released.

We will not remain patient in the face of Israeli violations for long. If the Lebanese government does not bear its responsibilities of protecting the Lebanese and their land, then the resistance will.

Hezbollah`s capabilities are stronger than ever (Sky News)

Group still has 20,000 rockets (Reuters)

Nasrallah calls for new Lebanese government (Reuters)

No army in the world can disarm Hezbollah (Reuters)

Despite media reports, we have shown enemy has failed (Sky News)

God is on our side; we are not afraid of death (CNN)


...............................A SEA OF SUPPORTERS................................

Hezbollah supporters wave the group's yellow flags at a rally in a southern suburb of Beirut as they surround a huge poster showing Israeli soldiers crying at a funeral. (AFP)


Osama bin Robertson speaks

Robertson: "[A] holy war between Islam and Christianity" is "going to come"

During a segment on the September 19 edition of the Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club about Pope Benedict XVI's recent controversial comments about Islam and Al Qaeda's reaction, host Pat Robertson stated: "[W]e understand the leaders of Al Qaeda are calling for a holy war between Islam and Christianity. It's going to come, ladies and gentlemen."

As Media Matters for America noted, Robertson stated on the August 29 edition of The 700 Club that "Osama bin Laden may be one of the true disciples of the teaching of the Quran ... because he's following through literally word-for-word what it says." Robertson added: "Islam is not a religion of peace. No way."

From the September 19 edition of the Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club:

ROBERTSON: When somebody gives the clear, historic record and just says, "Let's have a dialogue," that person is set up for death. And now we understand the leaders of Al Qaeda are calling for a holy war between Islam and Christianity. It's going to come, ladies and gentlemen, and I hope that those of you who care about this pope will support him. He's a wonderful man.

Watch the video here

The Next Palestinian Struggle

By Ramzy Baroud

"The Palestinian declaration of independence of 1988 in Algeria was structured in a way that would allow the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee to devise foreign policy, thus representing the Palestinian people in any future settlements with Israel. The signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993 and onward demoted the function of the Executive Committee and eventually undermined the import of the PLO altogether, concentrated the power in the hands of a few at the helm of the Palestinian Authority (PA): the late President Yasser Arafat and a clique of business contractors and ex-revolutionaries turned wartime profiteers.

That combination destroyed the achievements of the first Palestinian uprising of 1987-1993 in ways that Israel could only dream of: It cemented a faintly existing class society, destroyed the impressive national unity achieved by the Palestine-based leadership of various parties, hijacked the people's struggle, reducing it to mere slogans, and damaged Palestinian credibility regionally and internationally. Israel, of course, enjoyed the spectacle, as Palestinians bickered endlessly and as the PA's security carried out daily onslaughts against those who opposed the autocratic methods of the government, desperately trying to demonstrate its worthiness to Israel and the United States.

The U.S., Europe and Canada responded with a most inhumane economic siege, and a promise to punish anyone daring enough to aid the Palestinian economy in any way. Succumbing to pressure, even Arab neighbors helped ensure the tightness of the siege. Some in Fatah seemed also determined to ensure the collapse of the government even if at the expense of ordinary Palestinians. The so-called liberated Gaza, once hoped to be the cornerstone of Palestinian independence, was deliberately turned into a hub of lawlessness and violence, where hired guns ruled the streets, threatening the safety of an already crushed people.

But Hamas, too, was learning the harsh reality of being in the position of leadership. Unlike Arafat, Hamas wanted to seek support from its Arab and Muslim milieu, the devastatingly unexplored strategic alliances undermined by the PA's reliance on the West. But even Hamas itself seemed unaware of the extent of weakness and political deficiency of the Arabs and Muslims, who could barely assert their own rights, much less that of the Palestinians. Hamas learned, the hard way, that the U.S.' rapport with Israel would hardly weaken even if an entire nation must go hungry and hospitals run out of badly needed medicine. That hard lesson in real politic is what the Palestinian government is now scrambling to learn, amid dismay and confusion.

This quandary was the cause of distraught for my friend, and should be for anyone who wishes to see a real and lasting peace. If any peace settlement fails to adhere to the democratic concept, according to which Palestinians wish to govern themselves, then Palestinians should ready themselves for another Oslo-style agreement, imposed from the top and rubber stamped by the PLO's Executive Committee, long-devoid of its democratic principles and dominated by the elitist few.

I, too, am worried. The Palestinian democratic experience should not be squandered again."

تيارات من "فتح" تسعى لـ "انقلاب عسكري"


"غزة – المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

يبدو أنّ التفاؤل الذي أبداه الكثير من الفلسطينيين، بعد الإعلان عن تكليف رئيس الوزراء إسماعيل هنية بتشكيل حكومة الوحدة الوطنية؛ انقلب إلى تشاؤم وحذر كبيرين مما تحمله الأيام القادمة، لا سيما بعد الإعلان عن تجميد مشاورات تشكيل هذه الحكومة والأحداث التي تلتها وتداعيات أخرى محتملة.

وتسود في الضفة الغربية وقطاع غزة أجواء ملبدة بغيوم قاتمة؛ كما يراها متابعون للشأن الداخلي الفلسطيني، تنذر بعواصف وعواقب وخيمة، لا سيما بعد التصريحات التحريضية الأخيرة لبعض قادة حركة "فتح"، بجيليها (الشبان والشيوخ)، التي يرى فيها مراقبون أنها تحمل في طياتها الكثير من النوايا التي تثير العديد من علامات الاستفهام، لا سيما وأنها تسعى للزج بكل ما هو مثير "للفتن".

فالتخريب، كما يعتبر هؤلاء المتابعين، ومن ثم المناكفة السياسية، وبعد ذلك التخطيط للانقلاب "العسكري" هذه المرة، بعد أن أخفقت وعلمت بعجزها في تمرير انقلاب سياسي لإسقاط الحكومة؛ هي عناوين كبيرة لمسيرة تيارات فتحاوية في تعاملها مع الحكومة الفلسطينية الحالية، حيث وجد قادتها صعوبة في الإقرار بالهزيمة، وبدؤوا ينادون أن لا مشاركة مع "حماس" في أي حكومة تشكلها، وعندما تم تكليف "حماس" بتشكيل الحكومة وضعوا شروطاً يستحيل تحقيقها للمشاركة، وكأنهم هم الفائزون في الانتخابات وليس "حماس".

ولم يستبعد بعض المراقبين أن يكون هناك اتفاق بين أطراف فلسطينية وأخرى عربية أمريكية في سبيل الانقلاب على الحكومة، كما هو الحال بشأن الحصار السياسي والاقتصادي للشعب الفلسطيني، وما يمكن أن يدلل على ذلك "اللغة الأمريكية" التي تحدث بها القيادي في حركة فتح، زياد أبو عين، عندما وصف الحكومة الفلسطينية بـ "الإرهابية".

ومع كل المعطيات السابقة؛ فإنّ الأمور تتجه نحو التأزم إذا استمر الإصرار على تجاوز القانون والدستور والعمل على الالتفاف على الحكومة، لا سيما هذه بضوء أخضر أمريكي، كان واضحاً خلال لقاء محمود عباس، رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية، بوزيرة الخارجية الأمريكية كوندليزا رايس، التي أكدت أنّ واشنطن ستدعم "المعتدلين" في السلطة، ولن تقبل بحكومة وحدة تشارك فيها "حماس" دون أن تعترف بالكيان الصهيوني."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) embraces Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman (R) after they attended a U.N. Security Council meeting September 21, 2006. (REUTERS)



Meanwhile in Iraq

UN: Nearly 6,600 civilians killed in Iraq in two months: In July at least 3,590 people were killed and in August 3,009 died in bloody attacks on civilians, according to the UN human rights report.

U.S. Occupation Forces Among At least 33 killed :"Insurgents" killed six policemen and wounded two others when they attacked a police station in western Baghdad's Sunni Amiriya district, police said.

Anti Occupation Forces Gain Alarming Support Among Iraq's Sunni Muslims : A confidential Pentagon assessment finds that an overwhelming majority of Iraq's Sunni Muslims support the insurgency that has been fighting against U.S. troops and the Iraqi government

Analysts say violence will continue to increase: Violence in Iraq will continue despite different reconciliation plans being proposed because insurgency and militia actions are a response to the US-led occupation.

Halliburton ambush in Iraq caught on video: The video, shot on Sept. 20, 2005 by KBR truck driver Preston Wheeler, shows what initially appears to be a routine convoy of sixteen-wheeler trucks delivering supplies to U.S. troops. Three KBR truck drivers were killed. - WARNING - This video contains images that depict the reality and horror of war. It should only be viewed by a mature audience.

US troops in Iraq are Tehran's 'hostages': Three and a half years after the occupation began, the US military is no longer the real power in Iraq. As the chief of intelligence for the US Marine Corps revealed in a recent report, US troops have been unable to shake the hold that Sunni insurgents have on the vast western province of al-Anbar.

Torture reaches new depths in Iraq: Torture in Iraq is reportedly worse now than it was under deposed president Saddam Hussein, the United Nations' chief anti-torture expert said Thursday.

Widespread lawlessness in Baghdad with kidnappings, bombings and a brazen bank heist: As car bombings continued throughout the country, the Defense Ministry warned that insurgents were using unwitting kidnap victims as suicide bombers — seizing them, boobytrapping their cars without their knowledge, then releasing them only to remotely blow the cars up when they made it to a checkpoint.

Meanwhile in Palestine

Israel opens ancient site near Jerusalem shrine: Israel's opening of an archaeological tunnel near al-Haram al-Sharif, the site of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque where the biblical Jewish Temples once stood, sparked Palestinian anger in 1996. Sixty-one Arabs and 15 Israeli soldiers were killed in clashes.

Livni: “Two-state solution does not mean withdrawing to the borders of 1967”: Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday in New York, said that the solution of the Palestinian cause does not mean an Israeli withdrawal to the borders of June 4, 1967, “but means creating a new reality that did not exist back then”.

In 9 hours in Gaza, IDF kills 5, including 3 children, and injures 7: Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has used excessive force in the north and south of the Gaza Strip during a 9-hour span today, Thursday, 21 September 2006, resulting in the death of 5 Palestinian civilians and the injury of 7 others, including a father and 2 of his children. Two of the victims including a woman were killed in cold blood in Rafah. They were left to bleed to death inside their houses. The other 3 victims were children from the town of Jabalia who were killed by a surface-to-surface rocket as they were herding sheep.

Ynet: “Israeli army’s complicity with settlers must end”: For years human rights organizations have pointed out the complicity between the Israel Defense Forces command headquarters in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israeli settlers, nurtured by policies intended to facilitate the Judaization of the West Bank. The army’s bond with the settlers leads to a policy of non-action as far as maintaining the law and the security of Palestinians, who are subject to constant violent harassment by their illegal neighbors.

Hamas hopes Quartet backing for unity gov't will ease embargo: "The decision by the Quartet... is a progressive position, and we hope that this position will contribute to stopping all forms of political and economic siege," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

UK politician: Israeli lobby controls West: Senior sources in the Liberal-Democrat party expressed revulsion from her comments. Jewish and Israeli sources in Britain described her comments as being anti-Semitic, and pointed out that Tone was removed from her parliamentary job in 2004, after she said she understood the hearts of Palestinian suicide bombers.

The legal status of fighters: On Tuesday, the trial of three Hezbollah fighters started. They are charged with murder, weapons possession, undergoing military training and membership in a terrorist organization. On the same day, a military court extended the remands of 21 Hamas ministers and legislators, who have been charged with membership in a terrorist organization. And also on that day, police began questioning a Balad member who visited Damascus - the "capital of terrorism" - and praised Hezbollah's victory.

Peretz orders full New Year's closure on territories: During a meeting with security establishment officials, Peretz also ordered the opening of the Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt in accordance with periodical security assessments.

The next Palestinian struggle: Unlike Arafat, Hamas wanted to seek support from its Arab and Muslim milieu, the devastatingly unexplored strategic alliances undermined by the PA's reliance on the West. But even Hamas itself seemed unaware of the extent of weakness and political deficiency of the Arabs and Muslims, who could barely assert their own rights, much less that of the Palestinians. Hamas learned, the hard way, that the U.S.' rapport with Israel would hardly weaken even if an entire nation must go hungry and hospitals run out of badly needed medicine.

US may ban sale of cluster bombs to Israel: The bomb was made before the Vietnam War had ended, because there is a marking showing that its warranty ended on 7 February 1974. There is no indication of when the cluster bomb was transferred from the US to Israel.

Damien Hirst's £50 masterpiece: Their work may be worth a fortune, but under the rules of a new exhibition, As If By Magic, 25 world-class artists agreed to spend no more than £50 on materials and deliver a set of instructions to the modest Bethlehem Peace Centre in the occupied West Bank. As If By Magic runs at the Bethlehem Peace Centre until 6 October.

Eitam sends New Year greeting – Tibi unimpressed: “Hopefully Israel will have less racists and settlers in the coming year. In any case, we intend on staying in this country and on this land. And that is a promise,” the letter concluded.

Book review: Palestine, by Joe Sacco: In the winter of 1991-92, at the tail-end of the first Palestinian 'intifada', the Maltese-American author Joe Sacco spent two months in the Occupied Territories. During this time he shared the homes and the lives of ordinary Palestinians, and over seemingly endless cups of tea and coffee, he listened to the people he met talk not only of their past and present despair, but also of their hopes for the future in a free, independent Palestine.

5 Killed In Israeli Attack On Occupied Gaza: : Israeli occupation forces backed by a transport helicopter killed a woman in a raid on a house in the southern Gaza Strip.

Israeli High Court questions lack of IOF probe into shooting of U.S. activist : The High Court of Justice on Wednesday questioned the Israel Defense Forces' decision not to launch a criminal investigation into an incident in the West Bank city of Jenin in 2003, during which an American peace activist was shot in the face.

Livni rejects Palestinian right to return home: Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, has used a speech at the United Nations to tell Palestinian refugees that they should not expect to be allowed to return to their homes in Israel.

Senior intel official: Pentagon moves to second-stage planning for Iran strike option



"The Pentagon's top brass has moved into second-stage contingency planning for a potential military strike on Iran, one senior intelligence official familiar with the plans tells RAW STORY.

The official, who is close to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking officials of each branch of the US military, says the Chiefs have started what is called "branches and sequels" contingency planning.

"The JCS has accepted the inevitable," the intelligence official said, "and is engaged in serious contingency planning to deal with the worst case scenarios that the intelligence community has been painting."

A second military official, although unfamiliar with these latest scenarios, said there is a difference between contingency planning -- which he described as "what if, then what" planning -- and "branches and sequels," which takes place after an initial plan has been decided upon.

The senior intelligence official who spoke to RAW STORY, along with several military intelligence sources, confirmed that the nuclear option remains on the table. In addition, the senior official added that the Joint Chiefs have "come around on to the administration's thinking."

"The Joint Chiefs have no longer imposed roadblocks on a possible bombing campaign against Iran's nuclear production facilities," the intelligence official said. "In the past, only the Air Force had endorsed the contingency, saying that it could carry out the mission of destroying, or at least significantly delaying, Iran's ability to develop a nuclear weapon."

"Bahrain will be a battleground as it is majority Shi'a and has had Shi'a riots stimulated by Iran in the past," the official said. "The US Fifth Fleet is also based there. A system for [protection of] oil transport in the Gulf will have to be devised by the US Navy to protect against attacks.""

Bush Rages: “I am not Beelzebub, Lord of Sulfur”

By Mike Whitney

"My oh my, has Hugo Chavez caused a furor. Looking at the news reports filed in the last 24 hours, one would think that he snuck a dirty-bomb into the United Nations rather than gave a speech. In fact, the plucky Chavez may have delivered the finest 30 minute presentation that august assembly has ever heard. In that short span of time he publicly throttled the Global Emperor in front of 6 billion people and left his bruised and bloodied carcass splattered across the canvas like Roberto Duran in Round 9 of the middleweight championship match…..

Chavez matched Pinter word for word, exposing the hypocrisy, lies and brutality of an administration that never stops lecturing about freedom and liberation even though it grinds out mountains of carnage everywhere it goes.

In any case, Bush was not missed at the UN massacre yesterday. Chavez held-forth like a preacher at a brothel; scattering the bodies and kicking open the windows to let the sunlight in. He delivered one, ferocious roundhouse punch after another….

Boom, boom, boom…until the crowd rose in a thunderous 5 minute ovation. (which was carefully omitted from the TV coverage)

“What would the people of the world tell (Bush) if they were given the floor?” Chavez asked. “What would they have to say? I have some inkling of what they would say, what the oppressed people think. They would say, ‘Yankee imperialist, go home.”

“He spoke to the people of Lebanon,” Chavez added. “Many of you have seen, he said, how your homes and communities were caught in the crossfire. How cynical can you get? What a capacity to lie shamefacedly. The bombs in Beirut were delivered with laser precision….This is imperialist (and) genocidal; the empire and Israel firing on the people of Palestine and Lebanon. That is what happened. And now we hear, ‘We’re suffering because we see homes destroyed.’”"

تقارير أمنية تؤكد وجود سيناريو لاغتيال "هنية"

"غزة – المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

كشفت مصادر أمنية مطلعة في غزة، النقاب عن وجود جهات سياسية فلسطينية محدّدة تدفع باتجاه خيار ممارسة "التصفيات الجسدية" ضد الخصوم السياسيين، في حال أخفقت المفاوضات الدبلوماسية

وتحدثت هذه المصادر عن سيناريوهات تم التخطيط لها لاغتيال رئيس الوزراء الفلسطيني إسماعيل هنية، للتخلص من عقبة كأداء تحول دونهم والتعجيل بتوقيع اتفاقيات نهائية مع الجانب الصهيوني تصفي القضية الفلسطينية .

ووجهت هذه المصادر أصابع الاتهام بالتحديد إلى شخص محمد دحلان، الرئيس السابق لجهاز الأمن الوقائي في قطاع غزة، الذي قالت إنه "شخصية مخضرمة نافذة داخل أجهزة فتح، وله ميليشيات أمنية بالكامل تأتمر بأوامره، وهو صاحب مصلحة مباشرة في إفشال أي خطوة من خطوات التقارب بين الرئيس محمود عباس أبو مازن وحكومة "حماس" برئاسة إسماعيل هنية"، الذي تم تكليفه مجدداً بتشكيل حكومة الوحدة الوطنية التي يعوِّل الفلسطينيون عليها لكي تعيدهم إلى المشهد السياسي الدولي، وترفع عنهم حالة الحصار التي يعانونها منذ ستة أشهر، أي منذ شكلت حماس حكومتها بعد فوزها في الانتخابات .

ويرشح المراقبون، استمرار التخندق بين حركتي "حماس" و"فتح"، ليس لما بينهما من خلافات فكرية وأيديولوجية يراها بعضهم أنها تصل حد التناقض؛ بل ولما بين الفريقين من تباعد في الخيارات السياسية وخصوصاً منها المتصلة بإدارة الشأن العام والمفاوضات مع الاحتلال وإعادة هيكلة منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية لتتلاءم، مع مستجدات الوضع الفلسطيني المعاصر، وتصبح أكثر تمثيلية للخارطة السياسية الفلسطينية، وهو أمر لا يروق لحركة "فتح" التي يقول محللون إنها تستند إلى الشرعية التاريخية في سيطرتها على مؤسسات منظمة التحرير، وتعمل على فرضها على باقي الفصائل الفلسطينية، وخاصة "حماس" التي أثبتت الانتخابات الأخيرة أنها الأكثر شعبية لدى الفلسطينيين .

وتذكّر مصادر فلسطينية بمشاركة دحلان في إعداد اتفاق في اجتماع بروما في كانون ثاني (يناير) من سنة 1994 مع مسؤولين من جيش الاحتلال وجهاز المخابرات الصهيونية، لوضع خطة لاحتواء حركة المقاومة الإسلامية "حماس". "

The Israeli-Kurdish Alliance

by Justin Raimondo

September 21, 2006

"Seymour Hersh did the initial reporting ( on this development, and now the BBC has the pictures — a stunning video ( showing Israeli "ex"-military personnel training Kurdish pershmerga and setting up a base in Kurdistan.

The idea is to establish an outpost from which Israeli planes can strike at Iran's alleged nuclear facilities, and also create a presence on the ground that can strike, at will, across the Kurdish-Iranian border. The war in Iraq, in this context, has to be seen as a necessary preparatory step before the real target — Iran — could be attacked. And now that they are getting ready to do it, we can see more clearly that Israel, and not the U.S., was and is the main beneficiary of American military operations in the region."

U.N. expert: Iraq torture may be worse now than it was under Saddam

"GENEVA - Torture in Iraq may be worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein, with militias, terrorist groups and government forces disregarding rules on the humane treatment of prisoners, the U.N. anti-torture chief said Thursday.

Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special investigator on torture, made the remarks as he was presenting a report on detainee conditions at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay as well as to brief the U.N. Human Rights Council, the global body's top rights watchdog, on torture worldwide.

Reports from Iraq indicate that torture "is totally out of hand," he said. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein."

Nowak added, "That means something, because the torture methods applied under Saddam Hussein were the worst you could imagine."

Some allegations of torture were undoubtedly credible, with government forces among the perpetrators, he said, citing "very serious allegations of torture within the official Iraqi detention centers.""

The End of The "Summer of Diplomacy." Assessing U.S. Military Options On Iran


(A 26-page report in pdf format)


When does it all come together? When could the United States pull the trigger
on the military option? The most important point in understanding the window
for an attack is that the military preparations will not be the determining factor.
This operation will not resemble the six months of preparations for Operation
Desert Shield in 1990. The preparations will be much less visible than the
movements to the region in early 2003. We will not read about discussions with
Turkey for basing permission. It will not be a major CNN event.
Instead, preparations will involve the quiet deployment of Air Force tankers
to staging bases. We will see additional Navy assets moved to the region.

Over the past few months, we have seen numerous leaks and administration
documents that raise an Iran–al Qaeda connection. But more importantly, it opens the way for an argument that a strike on Iran was part of the global war on terrorism
already authorized by Congress.In other words, approval by Congress does not necessarily have to be part of the calculation of when an attack could take place.13 If the determining factor of timing is neither the preparation of military forces nor congressional approval, one question remains: How much public support do decisionmakers believe they need before pulling the trigger?14 And that question brings us back to the beginning of the summer of diplomacy. Vice President Cheney had to be convinced that it was necessary to give some lip service to diplomacy, checking that box in order to secure public support. President Bush seems to be con-vinced of the rightness of his cause and vision. He repeats often that he does not
care about public opinion.

By redrawing the red line in this manner, U.S. policymakers are creating
pressure to go to war with Iran. In saying that Iran could not be permitted to
have the knowledge to develop nuclear weapons, the president used almost the
exact words the Israeli Foreign Minister had used a year earlier.

After going through the analysis, I believe that the United States can and
will conduct the operation by itself. There may be low-visibility support from
Israel and the U.K., and France may be consulted. But it will be an American

The window for a strike on Iran stands open."

In 9 hours in Gaza, IDF kills 5, including 3 children, and injures 7

A Palestinian woman sits amidst the rubble of a house after it was demolished by Israeli troops during a raid in Rafah camp in the southern Gaza strip September 21, 2006. (Reuters)

A Palestinian medic evacuates a boy who was injured when Israeli troops demolished his house during a raid in Rafah camp in the southern Gaza strip September 21, 2006. (Reuters)

Palestinian mourners look at the body of Alaa Abu Dahrouj, 16, who was killed early Thursday by an Israeli artillery shell, at the mosque during his funeral in the town of Jebaliya, northern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2006. (AP Photo)

In less than 9 hours, IOF Kill 5 Civilians in the Gaza Strip, including 3 Children, & Injures 7 others; Two of the Victims Bled to Death when IOF Prevented Ambulances from Rescuing them

"Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) has used excessive force in the north and south of the Gaza Strip during a 9-hour span today, Thursday, 21 September 2006, resulting in the death of 5 Palestinian civilians and the injury of 7 others, including a father and 2 of his children. Two of the victims including a woman were killed in cold blood in Rafah. They were left to bleed to death inside their houses. The other 3 victims were children from the town of Jabalia who were killed by a surface-to-surface rocket as they were herding sheep.

PCHR seriously views this latest escalation by IOF, which comes within the context of the open ongoing aggression on the Gaza Strip for the past three months, which inflicted hundreds of casualties among the civilian population. In addition, the IOF attacks have inflicted great material damage on civilian property and infrastructure."


A Catholic Stamp to a US War

by Nicola Nasser
(Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine. He is based in Ramallah, West Bank)

"The Pope’s quotation is also going down into Muslims’ collective memory as fitting into the U.S.-led war on “Islamic terror,” which is cloaked in anti-Islam terminology like President Bush’s blunders of “crusade,” “Islamic terrorists,” and his latest “Islamic Fascists.”

It boils down to be serving as a Catholic justification for an American political-military anti-Islam campaign. “Many Muslims are on the defensive in our modern world with its dominance of western secular perspectives, backed up by brutal military force which is often indistinguishable from the terrorism it claims to be fighting.” (7)

The Pope’s attempts to portray his speech as a scholarly and theological matter is not convincing enough to distance the Vatican from being embroiled in political involvement or to shadow the fact that the Pontiff is also a politician and a head of a state, which helped to undermine communism; no one can expect him to be happy or eager to see a U.S. defeat whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or the overall war on terror.

“Why the pope chose to throw a hand grenade into a powder keg, and why he chose to do it at this moment in history”? asked George Friedman.

“Bush has been trying to portray the war against Islamist militants as a clash of civilizations, one that will last for generations and will determine the future of mankind. Benedict, whether he accepts Bush's view or not, offered an intellectual foundation for Bush's position,” Friedman added. (8)

Nor Muslim observers can isolate the Pope’s defaming quotation from his record of anti-Islam indications:

Benedict XVI during his 17-month papacy has been lecturing Muslims on the need to teach their young to shun violence, suggesting that violence is part of Islam.

Recent statements by senior Catholic bishops have singled out Lebanon’s Hizbullah and the Palestinian Hamas in names as violent groups under his papacy.

“I wish the Catholic pope had considered the reaction to his remarks,” the head of the Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church, Pope Shenouda III, told journalists, adding: “Being enthusiastic about one's religion shouldn't lead to judging other peoples' religions. Criticizing others' faith breeds enmity and divisions.” (11)"

Government issues tenders for 164 new homes in the West Bank

By Reuters

The government is planning to build 164 new homes in three settlements in the West Bank, despite an obligation under a U.S.-backed peace road map to halt such construction on land Palestinians seek for a state.

The Israel Lands Administration, a government agency, issued a tender inviting bids on 88 plots in the Ariel settlement, 56 in Alfei Menashe and 20 in Karnei Shomron.

Israel's Peace Now settlement watchdog criticized the move. "This tender hurts the interests of the state of Israel. It is a provocative step which goes against the majority of the Israeli public," said Mossi Raz, a senior member of the group.

The latest tender follows one published on September 4 to build 690 new homes in the settlements of Maaleh Adumim and Beitar Ilit, the largest number of housing bids for settlement building offered since Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took office in May.

Israel Lands Administration data showed that 98 housing plots were marketed in the West Bank from January to August.

The new tender brings to 952 the number of plots offered this year. That compares with 1,180 plots in 2005 and 1,075 in 2004.

While Israel has failed to suspend settlement building under the first stage of the road map, the Palestinians have not met their own obligation to dismantle militant groups.

Before the Lebanon war, Olmert had planned to unilaterally withdraw from swathes of the West Bank in the absence of peace talks with the Palestinians.

He shelved that plan after a month-long war with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon that ended with an August 14 cease-fire.

Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets at towns in northern Israel during the war, raising concern among Israelis that a West Bank pullback could leave cities in the center of the country vulnerable to similar attacks by Palestinians.

The World Court has branded all Jewish settlements on occupied land as illegal. Israel disputes this.

Some 240,000 Jewish settlers and 2.4 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, territory Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Conservative websites claim Rove has been promising GOP insiders an 'October surprise'

WASHINGTON -- In the past week, Karl Rove has been promising Republican insiders an "October surprise" to help win the November congressional elections.

President Bush's political strategist is also saying that the final two weeks before the elections will see a blitz of advertising, and the Republican National Committee is deploying an army of volunteers to key locations to help the grass-roots effort and monitor the elections. Continued.


And then there is this one:

Ahmadinejad spars with U.S. policy heavyweights (click to read entire article)

The Times quoted Ahmadinejad as saying "The U.S. doesn't speak for the whole world" in its opposition to Iran's nuclear program. It also quoted Robert Blackwill, a former deputy national security adviser under President Bush, as wondering after the session whether negotiations with Ahmadinejad's government would ever be possible.

"If this man represents the prevailing government opinion in Tehran, we are headed for a massive confrontation with Iran," Blackwill said."

And then there is this:

Bush: I take Ahmadinejad's threats against Israel seriously
Iranian leader accuses American politicians of being 'sensitive and biased' regarding Israel.

Iran: War drums and peace pipes

By Jim Lobe
Asia Times

"Retired US Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner, a well-connected analyst who has been extensively involved in government war-gaming on Iran, reported this week that war plans had moved from the Pentagon to the White House, suggesting that preparations for an attack on Iran were much more advanced than previously assumed.

Gardiner, who just completed a report, "Considering the US Military Option for Iran", for the New York-based Century Foundation, also told CNN that the evidence that military operations - confined mostly to intelligence-gathering - had been under way inside Iran for "at least 18 months ... is overwhelming".

At the same time, analysts who believe that the administration sees war as inevitable cite the creation by the Pentagon last spring of a new office on Iran staffed by some of the same individuals who worked for the Office of Special Plans (OSP), a group of mainly political appointees that sent questionable and now discredited intelligence regarding Baghdad's alleged programs for weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda directly to Cheney's office and the White House in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

"It seems like Iran is becoming the new Iraq," one unnamed "US counter-terrorism official" told the same reporters from the McClatchy Newspapers (formerly Knight-Ridder) who first uncovered OSP's operations last week in an article titled "In a replay of Iraq, a battle is brewing over intelligence on Iran".

One difference between Iran now and the run-up to Iraq, however, is that the hawks lack the same eagerness for war that they showed in 2002 and 2003. While they saw the invasion of Iraq as a no-lose proposition, they clearly recognize that the costs of attacking Iran will be, in Krauthammer's words, "terrible" - yet slightly less than acquiescence in a nuclear-armed Tehran."

Is This What Motivates U.S. Foreign Policy?

Tony Robinson investigates the people with powerful political friends in the White House, who are trying to bring about the end of the world. Julia Bard reports.

Broadcast 09/16/06 - Channel 4 Documentary - Runtime 100 Minutes

Click here to watch.

US troops in Iraq are Tehran's 'hostages'

By Gareth Porter
Asia Times

"The underlying reality in Iraq, which the Bush administration does not appear to grasp fully, is that the United States is now dependent on the sufferance of Iran and its Iraqi Shi'ite political-military allies to continue the occupation.

Since then, US officials have avoided giving any estimate of the Mehdi Army's strength. But according to a report published last month by London's Chatham House, which undoubtedly reflected the views of British intelligence in Iraq, the Mehdi Army may now be "several hundred thousand strong".

Patrick Lang, former head of human-intelligence collection and Middle East intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency, explained why in an important analysis in the Christian Science Monitor of July 21: US troops must be supplied by convoys of trucks that go across hundreds of kilometers of roads through this Shi'ite heartland, and the Mehdi Army and its allies in the south could turn those supply routes into a "shooting gallery".

Last week, a "senior coalition official" admitted to the Washington Post that "there's not a military solution" to the Mehdi Army.

Most of them never supported the current occupation in the first place. Wayne White, principal Iraq analyst for the US State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, recalls that polling done by the department soon after the US occupation began but never made public showed that a clear majority of Shi'ites were already opposed to it.

If Muqtada and his followers are already preparing for a showdown with the US occupation forces, the only factor that appears to be restraining the Mehdi Army now is Iran. After all, Tehran's interest lies not in forcing an immediate withdrawal of US forces, but in keeping them in Iraq as virtual hostages. The potential threat to US forces in Iraq in retaliation for an attack on Iran is probably Tehran's most effective deterrent to such an attack."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Great white hope.

Sen. Clinton calls on Red Cross to aid kidnapped soldiers

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) today placed a statement in the Congressional Record that called on Jakob Kellenberger, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, "to do whatever he can to verify the health and well-being" of three Israeli soldiers kidnapped several months ago.

Clinton additionally called on the Red Cross to "ensure that [the soldiers] have their full rights under the Geneva Conventions" and that Kellenberger "do what he can" to obtain their release.

"I have met with family members of one of the soldiers abducted in Israel," Clinton added, "who spoke eloquently and movingly about the importance of securing the safe return of the captured soldiers."

In case anyone was wondering... this evil witch did not ask the Red Cross to check on the safety of Palestinian children being held in Israeli jails--some of those children are as young as nine years old and they are being held for throwing stones at TANKS. This evil witch also did not ask the Israelis to make sure that they are applying the Geneva Conventions to Palestinian kids either. This is the great American Democratic hope that the left keeps blabbing about. What a joke.

U.S. appeals granting of citizenship to alleged ex-PLO member

By The Associated Press
The Bush administration has appealed a U.S. judge's ruling granting a petition for citizenship to a Palestinian man who the government has claimed has terrorist ties.

The appeal comes two months after U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled Aiad Barakat, 45, of Arcadia, California, should become a citizen. The judge said Barakat did not lack good moral character and his application should never have been denied.

The Justice Department filed its notice of appeal on Sept. 14 without giving a reason for the action. Authorities had refused citizenship to Barakat because of his alleged terrorist links, saying Barakat lied about ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a radical offshoot of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Barakat was detained in 1987, along with six other Palestinians and a Kenyan in a case that became known as the "L.A. Eight," but charges were never filed. Immigrant rights groups said the case was politically motivated.

Barakat's lawyer Marc Van Der Hout said he believes Wilson's June 28 ruling will stand.

"We don't think there is a strong appeal on the government's part," Van Der Hout said. "Judge Wilson heard the evidence and made some credibility findings. It is exceedingly unlikely a Court of Appeals will disturb that ruling."

The Justice Department declined comment.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has opposed peace negotiations between the PLO and Israel, and the U.S. government considers it a terrorist organization. All of the so-called "L.A. Eight" have denied being members.

The group won a victory in 1989 when a judge struck down as unconstitutional portions of a federal law that allowed deportation to be based on political affiliation and advocacy.

In 1997, Barakat and another Palestinian in the group were granted legal residency after the government had initially tried to deport all eight.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice said two of the Palestinians were currently in deportation hearings. The immigration status of the others was not known.

Women's demostration in Gaza against the blocade imposed on the Palestinian people and government

Palestinian traitors getting into shape as they await their orders from Washington to topple the democratically elected government in Palestine.


Members of the Palestinian security forces take part in a training session in the West Bank town of Qalqilya Tuesday Sept. 19, 2006. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas promised Israel's foreign minister to 'exert maximum effort' to secure the release of an Israeli soldier abducted by Palestinian militants three months ago, a senior Palestinian official said. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

Brian Avery


American activist Brian Avery from Chapel Hill, N.C., speaks to reporters before a hearing in his case at Israel's Supreme Court in Jerusalem in this Feb. 28, 2005, file photo. Israel's Supreme Court on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2006, called on the army to respond to accusations that it did not properly investigate the case of Avery, who accused Israeli troops of shooting and seriously wounding him in the West Bank three years ago without provocation. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Meanwhile in Iraq

Iraqi captive died with 93 injuries: Captive Iraqis were beaten with iron bars, kicked, starved, and forced to drink their own urine during abuse which led to the death of a prisoner, the first court martial of British troops accused of war crimes was told yesterday.

Iraq: At least 61 Killed As Bloody U.S Occupation Grinds On: A total of 35 bodies were found in the last 24 hours in Baghdad, police said.

Four US soldiers die across occupied Iraq: Another four US soldiers have died in series of incidents across Iraq, the US military reported on Tuesday.

No One Dares to Help: The wounded die alone on Baghdad's streets. An offer of aid could be your own death sentence, an Iraqi reporter writes.

U.S. general says attacks against American troops have increased : The attacks against U.S. troops were mostly carried out by suicide car bombers or roadside bombs. He added that the number of killings by death squads also had increased in the past week.

Did the U.S. choose the correct puppet?: Doubts Rise on Iraqi Premier’s Strength : Senior Iraqi and American officials are beginning to question whether Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has the political muscle and decisiveness to hold Iraq together as it hovers on the edge of a full civil war.

Time running out for Iraqis, study group leaders warn: Iraq's government has only until the end of 2006 to make major progress in curbing violence and improving basic services before the country's situation turns even more dire, the two leaders of a bipartisan, blue-ribbon study group on U.S. policy in Iraq warned Tuesday.

UK soldier 'enjoyed' Iraqis' pain : A British soldier "enjoyed" hearing Iraqis call out in pain as they were kicked and punched while in a detention centre, a court martial has heard.

The Ground Truth: Iraq War Veterans Speak Out : Drill instructors are shown dehumanizing recruits as part of the process of training them to dehumanize the adversary. Rare video footage from Iraq, accompanied by first-hand accounts from soldiers featured in the film, reveal the ways their training to "Kill, kill" leads them to target Iraqi civilians.

Israelis trained Kurdish troops in Iraq-BBC report: Former Israeli special forces soldiers entered Iraq from Turkey in 2004 to train two groups of Kurdish troops, one of the former Israeli trainers told the BBC's "Newsnight" programme.

Annan warns of civil war in Iraq: "If current patterns of alienation and violence persist much longer, there is a grave danger that the Iraqi state will break down, possibly in the midst of full- scale civil war," he said on Monday. Asked about Annan's comments, Barham Salih, Iraqi's deputy prime minister, said that his government faced many security challenges and obstacles "but that does not mean we are facing a civil war."

Shia community watchdogs 'will spy for death squads': The Sciri has its own 15,000-man militia, the Badr Corps, which Sunnis blame, along with the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, for much of Iraq's sectarian violence. Sunnis are threatening to form their own citizen groups. "Sciri's proposal aims to bring new militias into communities. This is unacceptable," said the MP Ayad al- Samarrai, who belongs to Iraq's largest Sunni political group, the Islamic Party.

British soldier admits war crime: Corporal Donald Payne today became the first member of the British armed forces to admit a war crime when he pleaded guilty to inhumanely treating civilians detained in Iraq. He is one of seven British troops who went on trial today.

Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq: A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

Journalist shot dead in Baghdad: Report: Militants murdered a Baghdad TV journalist in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi, the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported on Tuesday.

U.S. Resorting to 'Collective Punishment': Ahmad, a local doctor who withheld his last name for security purposes told IPS. "This city has been facing the worst of the American terror and destruction for more than two years now, and the world is silent."

There is more than one triangle of resistance: What the occupiers of Iraq still refuse to accept is that the resistance is supported and protected by Iraqis.

Turkey official warns on Iraq federalism: "The core of the problem is that if Iraq is divided, definitely there will be civil war and definitely neighboring countries will be involved in this," Abdullah Gul said. "The Middle East can't shoulder this. It's too much."

Kurdish party to get shut down in Iraq : The Iraqi government said Tuesday it will shut down all offices belonging to the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, around the country.

Meanwhile in Palestine

A concert cry severs the silence: Jubran seemed nonplussed by the pressure of such a complex production - one which he worked on with friends for three months - as he stood onstage at the Ramallah Cultural Center, juxtaposed by a couch and an enormous screen. He kicked off the event with a moving virtuoso, solo performance on the Arab buzuk and then proceeded to navigate the event smoothly. He joked with artists who appeared onscreen, but did not conceal his strident opposition to oppression and occupation. Such was the artists' objective for the evening: to break the silence. Satellite technology made it possible to mock the limits to freedom of movement imposed on them by appearing in tandem, despite prohibitions.

Beit Hanoun girl dies of wounds sustained last month: Abu Odah was injured when Israeli army opened fire at her and her family killing her father and brother Ismai'l, her younger sister received three bullet wounds in the attack while Hannan was wounded by eight live rounds and was moved to a hospital in Israeli for treatment were she died, her brother Ayman reported.

Israel Believes Assault On Gaza Will Be Necessary: Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Dan Halutz was backed by members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday in his assessment that a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip will be necessary in the short term.

High Court questions lack of IDF probe into shooting of U.S. activist: Avery's disabilities from the shooting include impaired vision in his left eye and several missing teeth. Avery had bone grafts to reconstruct his upper left jaw bone, and his left eye also was damaged. "Today marks a major turning point in the case," said Sfard, adding that the decision should send a message to soldiers that "there are still people who are asking the army for accountability."

Israeli army attacks Palestinian Banks and money exchange shops, stealing millions: The Israeli army invaded several cities in the West Bank and broke into money changers' shops and banks, confiscating some 1.5 million USD, on Wednesday morning. The seizure of cash comes after months of seige by the Israeli authorities, who are attempting to 'starve out' the Palestinian people for the results of their democratic election in January.

Israeli army invades Beit Fourik near Nablus, sets one house ablaze, takes one prisoner: Soldiers surrounded the house of Ferass Militat, 30, and then took him to an unknown location. The army claims that Militat is a member of the Islamic Jihad. Troops fired sound bombs into resident's houses in the village, setting the house of Abdullah Hannini on fire causing massive damage. Also, soldiers detained several children and took them to a nearby military post where they where held over night, interrogated and abused.

In the name of security, but not for its sake: Cohen's research relies mainly on police documents from the period, which have recently been opened for public perusal (the Shin Bet documents are still classified). They relate, for example, that the provision of weapons to collaborators by the local authorities was a way of rewarding them. However, the security forces' liaison committee mentioned in 1949 that "the distribution of weapons to an element or members of one group is likely to be useful to us; it will create the desired tension among the various parts of the population and enable us to control the situation." The security agencies, Cohen reveals on the basis of written documents, occasionally even initiated internal conflicts.

Gladwin man fights home demolition in Occupied Territories: While some college students spent their summer taking some extra classes, working or enjoying some time off, Cody O’Rourke of Gladwin spent some time using skills he’d learned in construction to help rebuild homes in the heart of the Occupied Territories of Palestine. O’Rourke participated in a peaceful resistance movement with the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), a group which uses non-violent, direct action to resist the destruction of Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories.

Congressman Nye and Jack Abramoff: Justice versus lobbies: Native American leaders contributed millions to the foundation. In 2002, the foundation reported it had given away more than $330,000 in grants to four organizations that said they never received the money. Instead, Abramoff used the organization for his pet projects. These included over $4 million to a Jewish school allied with the Zionist movement, $248,742 for Abramoff's house in Silver Spring, Maryland and hundreds of thousands for sniper training of extremist and illegal Israeli colonial settlers living on Palestinian land.

Palestinian killed by Israeli shells in northern Gaza: Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Wednesday that one resident was killed, another was injured, after the Israeli army fired a tank shell at a group of residents who were present close to the border line in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces fire missiles into southern Gaza Strip home and bulldoze land in the north: At least one of the rockets hit the house, as reported by eyewitnesses. Home owner Fat’hi Abu Jarad and his family made it out safely before Israeli forces launched the missiles. An afternoon account from eyewitnesses indicated that Israeli warplanes fired into Beit Lahia, killing a Palestinian. Also this morning Israeli forces bulldozed agricultural land east of Gaza City near the town of Jabaliya’s cemetery.

Israel confirms: Letter received from Shalit: Israel on Wednesday night confirmed for the first time that a letter has been received from Gilad Shalit. Channel 2 reported that the letter, which was reported by Arab media in recent days, indeed exists and was received by Israel.

Report: Former IDF commandos secretly trained Kurdish soldiers: Former Israeli special forces soldiers crossed into Iraq from Turkey in 2004 to train two sets of Kurdish troops, one of the former Israeli trainers told the BBC's Newsnight program. They also trained more than 100 Peshmerga or Kurdish fighters for "special assignments" that included how to use rifles and how to shoot militants in a crowd, he said.

Following visit to Syria, two Arab legislators banned from Knesset: Israeli Knesset “Ethics Committee “ decided to ban Arab members of Knesset Jamal Zahalka and Ibrahim Sarsour from the Knesset for three days over a trip they made to Syria about two weeks ago, Israeli sources reported.

Hamas retracts support for Arab League peace initiative: "You can't mention the Arab initiative only," Salah Bardawil, head of Hamas's parliamentary faction, told Haaretz yesterday. "The prisoners' document [an earlier proposed blueprint for a unity government] explicitly talks about 'recognizing the Arab source of authority,' while the agreement talks only about the Arab peace initiative. It must be changed and the initiative should be noted in a more general manner."

Palestinian airlines to use Egyptian airport: According to the agreement with Egyptian authorities, the Palestinian airlines would be able to take off and land in northern Egyptian town of al-Ariesh which is located a few kilometers away from Gaza Strip, Minister Zeyad al-Zaza told reporters.

Annan: UN must end mideast conflict: Addressing world leaders for the last time as secretary-general, Kofi Annan painted a grim picture Tuesday of an unjust world economy, global disorder and widespread contempt for human rights, and appealed for nations and peoples to truly unite. He said the Arab-Israeli conflict was the most potent and emotionally charged conflict in the world today."

Wild thoughts about the Palestinian issue: America is threatened; it needs a coalition to fight the threat; the coalition's members include Europe and the moderate Arab countries; these other members must be taken into account; and they want progress. Period. Whoever rejects this logic is apparently ready to compromise America's security. And after all, it is easier to look for a solution in Israel, which is so dependent on the United States, than to make an effort to force American policy on a recalcitrant Hamas or the obstinate Europeans.

Saudi Arabia sends relief to Gaza: The U.N. World Food Program is supplying Gaza with $2.6 million worth of flour, donated by Saudi Arabia, to assist impoverished Palestinians. Some 2,050 metric tons of flour, procured in Egypt, started entering the Gaza Strip this week to feed 50,000 families. (Gee thanks for the flour, KSA!)

Tulkarem Farmers in Boycott of Israeli goods: Palestinian traders and farmers will gather in the Tulkarem Refugee Camp on September 20th for a Palestinian goods market, boycotting Israeli products as a statement of resistance against Israel's ongoing occupation, The Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign said.

Two killed in the West Bank one of them a pregnant woman: Bushra Sultan, 27, from the Saflit region of the West Bank, died at an Israeli military checkpoint - East of Saflit - which had been closed by Israeli soldiers on Tuesday morning. Medical teams tried to revive Sultan but all attempts failed, leading to her death due to being unnecessarily held at the checkpoint.

Human rights group claims 90% of police investigations end in failure: The farmer was lying on the blood-soaked earth with crows circling above him when his son found him. Saber Shteia, 74, was battered by four settlers in his olive groves and left to die. As his son, Thourri, and another farmer loaded Mr Shteia on his donkey, he muttered, "They have killed me". The attack happened outside the village of Salem in the West Bank, which is under the jurisdiction of the Israeli police.

Palestinian woman dies at the Rafah Crossing: At least eight residents died at the Rafah Border Crossing since August after they were stranded there for several weeks due to the Israeli closure and siege imposed on the Gaza Strip after Palestinian fighters captured an Israeli soldier in a raid that targeted a military post near the Gaza borders.

Warning: Social intifada to break out in east J'lem: According to Amos Gil, chairman of the Ir-Amim organization, the issue can be solved only if it is treated on a national level. According to the organization, there are about 14,000 students which are not listed in the city's education system. Jerusalem City Council member Papa Alalu said that if the problem is not solved, "we will have a social intifada (uprising) on our hands."

TOMORROW: Brian Avery Shooting Investigation Appeal: On Wednesday, September 20, Israeli attorney Michael Sfard will again apply to the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem demanding that the Israeli military open an investigation into the circumstances of the shooting of Brian Avery in Jenin on 5th April 2003. The application will be heard by judges Beinish, Arbel and Heshin at 9am.

National boycott action targets Irish stores selling Israeli goods: IPSC members targetted retail outlets in Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Sligo, to send a message to Irish retailers that continuing to trade with Israel while it obliterates Palestine is grossly unethical and gives both financial support, succour and legitimacy to Israel's escalating and unchecked violations of Palestinian human rights. The National Boycott Day was also intended to educate consumers as to the extent of Israeli goods in their shops.

Arab MK suspended for calling Peretz ‘murderer': The Knesset Ethics Committee decided on Tuesday to suspend United Arab List-Ta’al MK Ibrahim Sarsur for one day after he refereed to Defense Minister Amir Peretz as a “murderer.” Arab MK Jamal Zahalka (National Democratic Assembly) was suspended from the Knesset for three days for making similar remarks.

Study shows growing divide in life expectancy for Jews, Arabs: The Central Bureau of Statistics annual report on the Israeli population, issued Tuesday, shows a widening gap between the life expectancies of Jews and Arabs in Israel. The life expectancy of an Arab male in 2005 was 3.1 years shorter than that of a Jewish male, as opposed to a two-year difference in 1999.

Israel's Jewish population decreasing: Israel’s Jewish population decreasing According to Central Bureau of Statistics data published on Tuesday, the population of the State of Israel at the end of 2005 was comprised of 6,990,700 people, of which 5,313,800 were Jewish (76 percent of the entire population), and 1,377,100 were Arab (19.7 percent) according to data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

IDF: Arab MK barred from Gaza due to personal dangers of such a trip: The defense establishment on Tuesday said it had forbidden MK Talab al-Sana from traveling to the Gaza Strip to meet with senior Palestinian officials over the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, due to the personal dangers of such a trip.

Author Finkelstein to talk about Palestine-Israel conflict at UVM: Finkelstein will draw from his most recent book, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History to address the most recent developments in the Middle East, according to a press release from the event sponsors. Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! says Beyond Chutzpah is “a must read for anyone committed to a just and enduring peace in the Middle East.”

Palestine Economy May Crash: The Palestinian economy is at the edge of a collapse after months of Israeli aggressions and the closing of border routes, the spokesman of the World Food Program, Christiane Berthiaume, said on Tuesday. The spokesman said that if changes are not made, the crisis will not have solution because the aid only mitigates the problem