Saturday, January 6, 2007

Video: A U.S. Tank Flambe In Fallujah

"Jan. 5 - A US tank is seriously damaged and catches fire after it struck a roadside bomb in Falluja"

Watch Video

Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran

ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.

Times Online

"Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources.

The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb.

Under the plans, conventional laser-guided bombs would open “tunnels” into the targets. “Mini-nukes” would then immediately be fired into a plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce the risk of radioactive fallout.

As soon as the green light is given, it will be one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished,” said one of the sources.

The plans, disclosed to The Sunday Times last week, have been prompted in part by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad’s assessment that Iran is on the verge of producing enough enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons within two years.

Israeli military commanders believe conventional strikes may no longer be enough to annihilate increasingly well-defended enrichment facilities. Several have been built beneath at least 70ft of concrete and rock. However, the nuclear-tipped bunker-busters would be used only if a conventional attack was ruled out and if the United States declined to intervene, senior sources said.

Israeli and American officials have met several times to consider military action. Military analysts said the disclosure of the plans could be intended to put pressure on Tehran to halt enrichment, cajole America into action or soften up world opinion in advance of an Israeli attack.

Some analysts warned that Iranian retaliation for such a strike could range from disruption of oil supplies to the West to terrorist attacks against Jewish targets around the world.

Israel has identified three prime targets south of Tehran which are believed to be involved in Iran’s nuclear programme:

* Natanz, where thousands of centrifuges are being installed for uranium enrichment

* A uranium conversion facility near Isfahan where, according to a statement by an Iranian vice-president last week, 250 tons of gas for the enrichment process have been stored in tunnels

* A heavy water reactor at Arak, which may in future produce enough plutonium for a bomb. Israeli officials believe that destroying all three sites would delay Iran’s nuclear programme indefinitely and prevent them from having to live in fear of a “second Holocaust”.
The Israeli government has warned repeatedly that it will never allow nuclear weapons to be made in Iran, whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has declared that “Israel must be wiped off the map”.

Robert Gates, the new US defence secretary, has described military action against Iran as a “last resort”, leading Israeli officials to conclude that it will be left to them to strike.

Israeli pilots have flown to Gibraltar in recent weeks to train for the 2,000-mile round trip to the Iranian targets. Three possible routes have been mapped out, including one over Turkey.
Air force squadrons based at Hatzerim in the Negev desert and Tel Nof, south of Tel Aviv, have trained to use Israel’s tactical nuclear weapons on the mission. The preparations have been overseen by Major General Eliezer Shkedi, commander of the Israeli air force.

Sources close to the Pentagon said the United States was highly unlikely to give approval for tactical nuclear weapons to be used. One source said Israel would have to seek approval “after the event”, as it did when it crippled Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak with airstrikes in 1981.

Scientists have calculated that although contamination from the bunker-busters could be limited, tons of radioactive uranium compounds would be released.

The Israelis believe that Iran’s retaliation would be constrained by fear of a second strike if it were to launch its Shehab-3 ballistic missiles at Israel.

However, American experts warned of repercussions, including widespread protests that could destabilise parts of the Islamic world friendly to the West.

Colonel Sam Gardiner, a Pentagon adviser, said Iran could try to close the Strait of Hormuz, the route for 20% of the world’s oil.

Some sources in Washington said they doubted if Israel would have the nerve to attack Iran. However, Dr Ephraim Sneh, the deputy Israeli defence minister, said last month: “The time is approaching when Israel and the international community will have to decide whether to take military action against Iran.”"

American "Freedom" On The March In Somalia

Anti-Ethiopia protests rock Mogadishu

"ETHIOPIAN troops and Somali protesters have exchanged fire in Mogadishu today, killing three people as hundreds of Somalis demonstrated against the foreign forces and a government disarmament drive.

The protesters hurled stones and burnt tyres, wreathing streets in smoke and reviving memories of the chaos that had largely stopped during six months of strict Islamist rule before the Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) was ousted last week.

"The Ethiopians opened fire and shot dead a young boy and a lady, they also killed another person," a witness said. Other witnesses agreed.

"The (government) and Ethiopian troops invaded our country and they have shot my son for no good reason," Omar Halane, the father of the boy, said.

A government source said one person had died and that police had opened fire in Tarbuunka square, where the Islamists had held regular anti-Ethiopian demonstrations when they controlled the volatile capital.

"Protesters shot at policemen, the police returned fire killing one man," the source said. "I don't know how many people have been wounded."

In the latest show of discontent with the forces that ousted the Islamists, hundreds of Somalis marched through the capital chanting: "Down with Ethiopia." Ethiopian soldiers fired in the air to disperse crowds and government troops armed with AK-47s patrolled the streets.

Somalia's interim government wants to install itself in Mogadishu, one of the world's most dangerous cities, after ousting the Islamists with the help of Ethiopian troops, tanks and warplanes.

Within hours of the Islamists fleeing, militiamen loyal to warlords reappeared at checkpoints in the city where they used to rob and terrorise civilians.

Muse Sudi Yalahow, a warlord dislodged by the Islamists in the June battle for Mogadishu, came back to the capital on Saturday but declined to speak to reporters.

Residents fear Mogadishu could slide back into the anarchy and clan violence that has gripped the city since the 1991 ouster of a dictator.

"We are against the Ethiopian troops' occupation. We don't want them, they should leave," 20-year-old protester Ahmed Mohamed said. "They are harassing us in our own country. The government is imposing the Ethiopians on us."

A hospital source, speaking before the shooting incident, said at least five civilians were hurt.

The interim government had given Mogadishu residents until last Thursday to hand in their weapons or be disarmed by force.

Government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari told local radio today the disarmament program had been postponed. Few weapons have been handed in as locals wait to see if the government can impose the relative stability experienced under the SICC.

President Abdullahi Yusuf was due to meet Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who says his troops will leave the Horn of Africa country within two weeks, government officials said.

The SICC had controlled much of southern Somalia after ousting warlords from Mogadishu in June, but have been forced into hiding after being routed from their strongholds in two weeks of open warfare. "

It Became Necessary To Destroy Baghdad In Order To Save IT

Grand Strategy at Its Worst
Stalingrad on the Tigris


"Sun Tzu said avoid protracted war and attack cities as a last resort.

President Bush has managed to do the opposite in Iraq. Now he is about to escalate his long-war strategy with a door to door assault on Baghdad
. The aim will be to cleanse Baghdad's neighborhoods of insurgents and local militias. But as Patrick Cockburn has shown, most of these militias are allied to the different factions of the Iraqi government we put into place.

Once the Battle of Baghdad starts, and casualties and frustrations mount, the US military will do what it always does: it will fall back on a technology-intensive firepower strategy.

But militias and insurgents will not cooperate by standing and fighting. Our adversaries will not provide the kind of targets so conveniently assumed by the Pentagon in the computer models it uses to sell its high-cost hi-tech weapons to Congress and the American people. The local fighters will counter with hit and run raids on US forces.

The increasing rubblization of Baghdad will create more opportunities for dispersing, for ambushing, and for mining. As the German's learned in Stalingrad, and we should have learned at Monte Cassino, the irregularity of rubble makes it easier for defenders to hide in or disappear into the environmental background, or what the Pentagon antiseptically calls the "urban battle space."

Couple this battlespace with the rising sea of intelligence support provided by increasingly hostile local residents, and it is likely that the US forces will be bogged down in a highly destructive unending battle.

Given the dubious nature of Mr. Bush's real motives for invading Iraq and our military's predilection for substituting firepower for ideas, the strategy of providing greater security to Baghdad's local population by destroying their city is an oxymoronic fantasy that will increase division at home, embolden adversaries, alienate allies and uncommitted nations, and make it impossible to end this conflict on favorable terms that do not sow the seeds for future conflict.

This is grand strategy at its worst.

But then, we have seen how fantasies come easily to the armchair strategists careening around the hall of mirrors that is Versailles on the Potomac."

Franklin C. Spinney is a former Pentagon analyst and whistleblower. His writing on defense issues can be found on the invaluable Defense in the National Interest website.

Palestinian Puppet Declares War On The Palestinians

"Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has declared a Hamas security force in the Gaza Strip 'illegal' after a surge in internal violence, officials said.

Shortly after Abbas' statement on Saturday, Hamas announced it would double the number of its 'executive force' in Gaza, formed in the months after taking power in early 2006.

Abbas's decision is likely to further fuel tension between Hamas and the president's once-dominant Fatah faction.

One Hamas spokesman has said that any action taken against Hamas' executive force, will be met with retaliatory force.

A spokesman for Abbas said: "The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas ... considers the executive force, both officers and individuals, illegal and outlawed."


I think that this could be the signal that the hot phase of the slow-moving coup against the elected Palestinian government is about to start. The Princess of Darkness Rice will be in the region soon and she wants the coup to be complete by that time and Generalissimo Dahlan fully disappearing Palestinians determined to resist Israeli occupation. All indications are that the preparations for the coup are in place, including putting Dahlan in charge of all PA puppet forces. Condoleezza and Olmert have demanded that the CIA asset Dahlan be in charge of these forces to lead the coup.

It was a good step for Hamas to be prepared by doubling the size of its force that would stand up to the Palestinian Pinochet. I think that, as regrettable as this is, a bloody confrontation is coming. Hamas has tried to avoid it, but it is of no use. The Usraeli orders to the Palestinian puppet will be obeyed and a coup will be attempted. The best hope is for Hamas and other patriotic Palestinians to have infiltrated the PA puppet forces and that many of them will disobey orders to shoot other Palestinians.

This is the most treacherous attempt to split the Palestinians and to crush the spirit of resistance to impose an Usraeli dictated Palestinian surrender. It is time for all Palestinians to be alert and informed. By information and vigilance the coup will be defeated.

Tony Sayegh

The Urge to Surge

Political Cover or Escalation?

A Good Piece

"The new year began on the hopeful note that Bush's illegal war in Iraq would soon be ended. The repudiation of Bush and the Republicans in the November congressional election, the Iraq Study Group's unanimous conclusion that the US needs to remove its troops from the sectarian strife Bush set in motion by invading Iraq, Donald Rumsfeld's removal as defense secretary and his replacement by Iraqi Study Group member Robert Gates, the thumbs down given by America's top military commanders to the neoconservatives' plan to send more US troops to Iraq, and new polls of the US military that reveal that only a minority supports Bush's Iraq policy, thus giving new meaning to "support the troops," are all indications that Americans have shed the stupor that has given carte blanche to George W. Bush.

When word leaked that Bush was inclined toward the "surge option" of committing more troops by keeping existing troops deployed in Iraq after their replacements had arrived, NBC News reported that an administration official "admitted to us today that this surge option is more of a political decision than a military one." It is a clear sign of exasperation with Bush when an administration official admits that Bush is willing to sacrifice American troops and Iraqi civilians in order to protect his own delusions.

The American establishment, concerned by Bush's egregious mismanagement, moved to take control of Iraq policy away from him. However, recent news reports and analysis suggest that Bush has turned his back to the American establishment and his military advisers and is throwing in his lot with the neoconservatives and the Israeli lobby. This will further isolate Bush and make him more vulnerable to impeachment.

In the January 5 issue of CounterPunch John Walsh gives a good description of the struggle between the American establishment and the neocons.

Peter Spiegel, the Pentagon correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, reported on January 4 that the neocons have used the failure of the administration's policy in Iraq to convince Bush to launch an aggressive counterinsurgency requiring the buildup of troop levels by extending deployments beyond the agreed terms.

Raed Jarrar (CounterPunch, January 4) suggests that the Shi'ite militias, such as the one led by Al-Sadr, are the intended targets of the "surge option." There seems no surer way to escalate the conflict in Iraq than to attack the Shi'ite militias. For longer than the US fought Germany in WW II, 150,000 US troops in Iraq have been thwarted by a small insurgency drawn from Iraq's minority population of Sunnis. It hardly seems feasible that 30,000 additional US troops, demoralized by extended deployment, can succeed in a surge against the Shi'ite militias when 150,000 US troops cannot succeed against the minority Sunnis.

The reason the US has not been driven out of Iraq is that the majority Shi'ites have not been part of the insurgency. The Shi'ites are attacking the Sunnis, who are forced to fight a two-front war against US troops and Shi'ite militias and death squads.The US owes its presence in Iraq, just as the colonial powers always owed their presence in the Middle East, to the disunity of Arabs. Western domination of the Muslim world succeeded by not picking a fight with all of the disunited Arabs at the same time.

Attacking the Shi'ite militias while fighting a Sunni insurgency would violate this rule. If Bush ignores US military commanders and expert opinion and accepts the surge option advanced by the delusional neocon allies of Israel's right-wing Likud Party, US troops will be engulfed in general insurgency. This is why General John Abizaid resigned on January 5. He wants no part of the Republican Party's sacrifice of US soldiers to sectarian conflict.

In recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, Republican Senator John McCain, who believes in the efficacy of violence and not in diplomacy, pressed General Abizaid to request more US troops to be sent to Iraq. General Abizaid replied as follows:

"Senator McCain, I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the core commander, General Dempsey, we all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no."

Bush is like Hitler. He blames defeats on his military commanders, not on his own insane policy. Like Hitler, he protects himself from reality with delusion. In his last hours, Hitler was ordering non-existent German armies to drive the Russians from Berlin.

By manipulating Bush and provoking a military crisis in which the US stands to lose its army in Iraq, the neoconservatives hope to revive the implementation of their plan for US conquest of the Middle East. They believe they can use fear, "honor," and the aversion of macho Americans to ignoble defeat to expand the conflict in response to military disaster. The neocons believe that the loss of an American army would be met with the electorate's demand for revenge. The barriers to the draft would fall, as would the barriers to the use of nuclear weapons.

Neocon godfather Norman Podhoretz set out the plan for Middle East conquest several years ago in Commentary Magazine. It is a plan for Muslim genocide. In place of physical extermination of Muslims, Podhoretz advocates their cultural destruction by deracination. Islam is to be torn out by the roots and reduced to a purely formal shell devoid of any real beliefs.

Podhoretz disguises the neoconservative attack against diversity with contrived arguments, but its real purpose is to use the US military to subdue Arabs and to create space for Israel to expand.

Not enough Americans are aware that this is what the "war on terror" is all about."

The Puppet Is Upset

Lyncher-in-Chief Is Upset About Worldwide Revulsion At The Barbarity of His Shiite Thugs:
The sock puppet threatened to cut diplomatic relations with any country criticizing the lynching.

Israel's Bad Influence

by Charley Reese

"Scott Ritter, a former U.N. arms inspector in Iraq, has written a book, Target Iran, in which he accuses the Israeli government and its American lobby of pushing the U.S. into attacking Iran.

Ritter writes, "Let there be no doubt: If there is an American war with Iran, it is a war that was made in Israel." He accuses some members of the lobby of dual loyalty and urges that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee be required to register as a foreign agent.

He also blasts the Israeli lobby for its use of the Holocaust and for crying anti-Semite every time Israel is criticized. "This is a sickening trend that must be ended," he writes.

By coincidence, an Israeli general has verified everything Ritter says. According to an article published in on Jan. 2, Israeli Brig. Gen. Oded Tira published a statement urging an all-out effort by Israel and its lobby to push a U.S. attack on Iran.

"President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran," the general is quoted as saying. "As an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and U.S. newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iran issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure."

The general urges the Israeli lobby to turn to Hillary Clinton and other potential presidential candidates in the Democratic Party so that they support immediate action by Bush against Iran. The lobby must also approach the Europeans, he adds, so Bush won't find himself isolated, and he calls for Israel to "clandestinely cooperate with Saudi Arabia so that it also persuades the U.S. to strike Iran."

As Ritter says, a U.S. war in Iran will be a war made in Israel.

Of course, Israel's American supporters, most of whom are ignorant of nuclear energy, ignorant of the history of Israel and ignorant of the people in the Middle East, will trot out their usual specious arguments.

But let's lay out the undeniable facts. Israel considers Iran its main threat. Israel wants a U.S. attack against Iran. The Israeli lobby does what the Israeli government tells it to do. Anybody who claims the Israeli lobby is just another lobby is either ignorant or lying. The Israeli lobby is the second most, if not the most, powerful lobby in America.

So, sit back and watch the Israeli amen corner start the propaganda to push America to war with Iran just as it did in the case of Iraq. It will try to have you believe that Iran can make nuclear weapons as easily as baking cakes. The truth is that even if Iran decided to seek nuclear weapons, the Iranians are a good 10 years away from having any. The truth is that Iran, even if it had nuclear weapons, is no threat to the U.S.

All of which reminds me of my favorite undiplomatic comment by a diplomat. Some time ago at a private party in London, the French ambassador said of Israel, "Why does the world put up with such a sh*tty little country causing so much trouble?" Outraged British Zionists demanded his recall, but the French government ignored them.

Sooner or later, Americans are going to wake up to the fact that Israel's influence on the American government is detrimental. If Israel wants a war with Iran, let the Israelis fight it. Of course, seeing how poorly they did against Hezbollah, I suspect that the Israelis, despite their public threats, would not choose to fight the Iranians.

In my opinion, Americans who want American youth to die and bleed for the benefit of a foreign country are guilty of more than dual loyalty."

Somalia: A State Restored? Not So Fast

Protesters threw stones and burned tyres during an anti-Ethiopian protest in Mogadishu [AFP]

A Very Good Analysis
By William S. Lind

"For more than a decade, Somalia has been Exhibit A in the Hall of Statelessness, a place where the state had not merely weakened into irrelevance but disappeared. Somalia's statelessness had defeated even the world's only hyperpower, the United States, when it had intervened militarily to restore order. Fourth Generation war theorists, myself included, frequently pointed to Somalia as an example of the direction in which other places were headed.

Then, over the past several weeks, a Blitzkrieg-like campaign by the Ethiopian army seemed to change everything. A Fourth Generation entity, the Islamic Courts, which had taken control of most of Somalia, was brushed aside with ease by Ethiopian tanks and jets. A makeshift state, the Transitional Federal Government, which had been created years ago by other states but was almost invisible within Somalia, was installed in Mogadishu. The Somali state was restored – or so it seems.

This direct clash between the international order of states and anti-state, Fourth Generation forces is a potentially instructive test case. If the Ethiopians and their sponsors succeed in re-creating a self-sustaining Somali state, it may put Fourth Generation elements elsewhere on the defensive. Conversely, if the Somali state again fails, it will suggest that outside efforts to restore states are unlikely to succeed and the future belongs to the Fourth Generation.

It is too soon to know what the outcome will be. However, we might want to ask the question, what does each side need to accomplish in order to succeed?
The first thing the Transitional Federal Government and its Ethiopian and other foreign backers must accomplish is to restore order. Many Somalis welcomed the Islamic Courts because they did bring order. They shut down the local militias, made the streets safe again and began the revival of commerce, which depends on order.

Can the Transitional Federal Government do the same? Its problem is that its main instrument is the Ethiopian army, which is hated by many Somalis. Its own forces are largely warlord militias. If the TFG fails to bring order, not only will it have failed to perform the first task of any state, it will make the Islamic Courts look good in retrospect. Precisely this dynamic is now playing itself out in Afghanistan.

The pro-state forces' second task is in tension with the first: the Ethiopian Army must go home soon. "Soon" here means weeks at most. If the Ethiopian invasion turns into an Ethiopian occupation, a nationalist resistance movement is likely to emerge quickly. Such a nationalist resistance would have to ally with the Islamic Courts, just as the nationalist resistance in Iraq has been pushed into alliance with Islamic 4GW forces, including al-Qaeda. Non-state forces are usually too weak physically to be picky about allies.

The third task facing the TFG is to split the Islamic Courts and incorporate a substantial part of them into the new Somali state. In the end, political co-option is likely to do more to end a 4GW insurgency than any action a military can take.

What about the Islamic Courts? What do they need to do to defeat the state?
They have already accomplished their first task: avoid the Ethiopian army and go to ground, preserving their forces and weapons for a guerrilla war. Had they stood and fought, not only would they have lost, they would have risked annihilation. Mao's rule, "When the enemy advances, we retreat," is of vital importance to most 4GW forces.

The next task is harder: they must now regroup, keep most of their forces loyal, supplied, paid and motivated, and begin a two-fold campaign, one against the Ethiopians or any other foreign forces and the second against the Transitional Federal Government. This will be a test of their organizational skills, and it is by no means clear they have those skills. Time will tell, time probably measured in weeks or months, not years.

Against occupying foreign forces, the Islamic Courts will need to wrap themselves in nationalism as well as religion, so that they rather than the TFG are seen as the legitimate Somali authorities. The fact that the TFG has to be propped up by foreign troops makes this task relatively easy.

Against the TFG itself, the Islamic Courts' objective is the opposite of the government's: it must make sure order is not re-established. Here, terror tactics come into if play, and if car bombs, suicide attacks and the like spread in Somalia, it will be a sign the Islamic Courts are organizing.

The Islamic Courts may have an unlikely ally here in the old war lords and clan militias. The Islamic Courts suppressed these elements, but their comeback will help, not hurt them. They were and may again become the main source of disorder, and all disorder works to the Islamic Courts' advantage.

The new government in turn needs to suppress these forces just as the Islamic Courts did, but it may be unable to do so, not only because it has no real army of its own but also because it has warlords and militias as key constituents. This mirrors the situation in Iraq, where the Shi'ite-dominated government cannot act against Shiite militias because it is largely their creature.

How will it all turn out? My guess is that in Somalia as elsewhere, the dependence of the wanna-be state on foreign troops will prove fatal. In the end, Fourth Generation wars are contests for legitimacy, and no regime established by foreign intervention can gain much legitimacy. On the other hand, if the Islamic Courts cannot organize effectively, the new government could win by default. Either way, it is safe to say that the outcome in Somalia will have an impact far beyond that small, sad country's borders. "

The whole bloody thing was obscene

By Robert Fisk
The Independent

"The lynching of Saddam Hussein - for that is what we are talking about - will turn out to be one of the determining moments in the whole shameful crusade upon which the West embarked in March of 2003. Only the president-governor George Bush and Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara could have devised a militia administration in Iraq so murderous and so immoral that the most ruthless mass murderer in the Middle East could end his days on the gallows as a figure of nobility, scalding his hooded killers for their lack of manhood and - in his last seconds - reminding the thug who told him to "go to hell" that the hell was now Iraq."


Bush's New Strategy
By Baha Boukhari

Abbas appoints Dahlan general commander of PA security apparatuses

"Gaza - PA chief Mahmoud Abbas has appointed Fatah MP Mohammed Dahlan, the former chief of the notorious preventive security apparatus, as general commander of the PA security apparatuses at the request of the USA and Israel, according to local media.

The media quoted a PA presidential source, who refused to disclose his identity, as saying that the decision was not written so as to evade the protests of the Hamas-led PA government and its interior minister Sa'eed Siyam.

He affirmed that the decision was implemented on the ground and that all commanders of security apparatuses were notified and were abiding by Dahlan's orders despite reservations on the part of some of them.

The same source disclosed that Dahlan's appointment came at the request of the USA and Israel which pledged to finance and to facilitate the PA security apparatuses' needs in the event Dahlan was appointed in this post.

Meanwhile, Hamas MP Mushir Al-Masri asked Abbas, in his capacity as the PA chief and Fatah leader to bridle the unruly elements within his faction.

He questioned the ability of Abbas to rule a country if he could not restrain members of his own faction."

"غزة - المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

كشفت وسائل إعلام محلية، نقلاً عن مصدر أمني فلسطيني رفيع المستوى في مكتب رئيس السلطة محمود عباس، أن الأخير أصدر قراراً شفهياً يقضي بتعين النائب محمد دحلان، أحد قيادات "فتح" المتهمين بتأجيج الساحة الفلسطينية، قائداً عاماً للأجهزة الأمنية الفلسطينية ومسؤولاً مباشراً عن جهاز الأمن الوطني.

وقال المصدر الرئاسي، الذي رفض الكشف عن هويته، إن القرار لم يكن مكتوباً لأسباب خاصة لدى رئيس السلطة عباس، خشية اعتراض الحكومة ووزير الداخلية والأمن الوطني سعيد صيام على ذلك، لكن القرار نفذ عملياً على أرض الواقع، بناء على تعليمات مباشرة صدرت من عباس إلى قادة الأجهزة الأمنية الفلسطينية بتلقي تعليماتهم من دحلان، خلال اجتماع عقد في مكتبه بغزة دون علم وزير الداخلية بذلك.

وأضاف المصدر إن دحلان باشر مهامه الأمنية كقائد للأجهزة الأمنية فور انتهاء اجتماع الأجهزة الأمنية، وإن قادة الأجهزة الأمنية، الموالين له في الأساس كونه كان قائداً للأمن الوقائي في غزة التزموا بتعليماته، رغم تحفظ البعض منهم على ذلك، وترأس دحلان عدة اجتماعات للأجهزة الأمنية في مقر الرئاسة بغزة.

وكشف المصدر ذاته أن القرار جاء بناء على اشتراط أمريكي صهيوني بتعين دحلان مسؤولاً عن الأجهزة الأمنية، وخاصة جهاز الأمن الوطني، الذي يمثل أكبر عدد من حيث الأفراد، مقابل أن يقوم الجانب الأمريكي ومن خلال دحلان بإعادة بناء وتمويل هذه الأجهزة وتغطية كافة احتياجاتها من سلاح وذخيرة وسيارات ومعدات، وقد رصدت مبالغ عالية لتنفيذ المخطط.

كما أصدر عباس مساء الجمعة (5/1) مرسوماً رئاسياً بتعيين العميد جمال كايد قائداً لقوات الأمن الوطني في قطاع غزة وذلك خلفا للعميد سليمان حلس. "


The Palestinian Pinochet, with Usraeli backing, is getting ready to mount the bloody coup and unleash a reign of terror against the Palestinians. This is American "democracy" in action, complete with death squads. The M.E. today is looking more and more like Latin America a generation ago. Why not! The same bloody villains (Negroponte, Elliott Abrams, etc) are trying the same policies they tried before in Latin America.

Hamas: Washington's money to Abbas' guards targets igniting civil war

"Gaza - The Hamas Movement has strongly denounced the American administration's financial assistance to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas' loyalist forces as a fresh attempt to igniting Palestinian civil war.

The Movement said in a statement that the American administration, which spearheads an "oppressive siege" of the Palestinian people alongside Israel and a number of regional countries, was extending 86 million dollars to Abbas' loyalist forces to confront the Hamas Movement and to quell the Palestinian resistance.

It charged that such a step was a "blatant intervention in Palestinian internal affairs" and a fresh attempt to ignite a Palestinian civil war.

Hamas asked Abbas to declare a clear stand toward the news that was included in a document published by a news agency.

"If the American administration was keen on the Palestinian people's interests and willing to help them then it should have rather rushed to lift the siege imposed on the people and allow the channeling of necessary financial assistance," the Movement concluded.

In an earlier statement, the Hamas Movement said that it was running out of patience vis-à-vis the incessant attacks by a trend within the Fatah Movement against Hamas leaders and cadres.

It urged Abbas to bridle his Fatah faction and warned that it would no longer put up with such practices."

Friday, January 5, 2007

Kiss of death

SINCE JUDAS ISCARIOT embraced Jesus, Jerusalem has not seen such a kiss

By Uri Avnery

"After being boycotted by Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert for years, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was invited to the official residence of the Prime Minister of Israel two weeks ago. There, in front of the cameras, Olmert embraced him and kissed him warmly on both cheeks. Abbas looked stunned, and froze.

Somehow the scene was reminiscent of another incident of politically-inspired physical contact: the embarassing occurrence at the Camp David meeting, when Prime Minister Ehud Barak pushed Yasser Arafat forcefully into the room where Bill Clinton stood waiting.

In both instances it was a gesture that was intended to look like paying respect to the Palestinian leader, but both were actually acts of violence that - seemingly - testified to ignorance of the customs of the other people and of their delicate situation. Actually, the aim was quite different.

ACCORDING TO the New Testament, Judas Iscariot kissed Jesus in order to point him out to those who had come to arrest him.

In appearance - an act of love and friendship. In effect - a death sentence......

WHY DID Olmert go through all these motions?

The naïve explanation is political. President Bush wanted some movement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would look like an American achievement. Condoleezza Rice transmitted the order to Olmert. Olmert agreed to meet Abbas at long last. There was a meeting. A kiss was effected. Promises were made and immediately forgotten. Americans, as is well known, have short memories. Even shorter (if that is possible) than ours.....

Some of Olmert's advisors had a brilliant idea: to give Abbas hundreds of prisoners as a gift, just for nothing. That would reinforce the position of the Palestinian president and prove to the Palestinians that they can get more from us this way than by violence. It would deal a sharp blow to the Hamas government, whose overthrow is a prime aim of the governments both of Israel and the USA.

Out of the question, cried another group of Olmert's spin doctors. How will the Israeli media react if prisoners are released before Shalit comes home?

The trouble is that Shalit is held by Hamas and its allies, and not by Abbas. If it is forbidden to release prisoners before the return of Shalit, then all the cards are in the hands of Hamas. In that case, perhaps it makes sense to speak with Hamas? Unthinkable!

The result: no strengthening of Abbas, no dialogue with Hamas, no nothing.....


This Is No Way To Treat An Old Friend And Ally, Is It?

Hezbollah to expand protest in Lebanon conflict next week

By Reuters

"The Shi'ite Hezbollah group and its allies will step up a campaign of protest and disruption next week to try to topple the Lebanese government by paralyzing the country, a senior opposition politician said.

The move is an attempt to break a deadlock that has defied mediation efforts and fuelled Sunni-Shi'ite tensions.

"The opposition is putting the final touches to the second phase of its campaign. Things will start moving next week," said the opposition politician, who asked not to be identified."

Marzouq: a trend within Fatah is working against democracy with foreign help

"Damascus – Deputy Chief of Hamas Political Bureau, Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouq, accused a trend within the Fatah movement of working to thwart the Palestinian democratic experience which brought Hamas to power.

"It is sad that there is a decision to thwart the first transparent democratic experience in the region which took place under occupation and which brought Hamas to power in place of a political power which monopolised the management of the Palestinian issue since 1969 despite the weakness and deterioration which the Palestinian issue suffered during its reign." Dr. Marzouq said in a statement to Quds press.

He added that when the people elected Hamas, this faction mobilised its members, supported by regional and international forces, and one of the results of this mobilization was the oppressive siege imposed on the Palestinian people and the security chaos in all its forms and its painful results we are observing today.

He stressed that Hamas is holding to its principle that rejects the conspiracy against the Palestinian democratic experience; "What we see in terms of security chaos in all its forms, are but means to thwart the Palestinian people's choice. This is rejected by Hamas which believes that the way is political participation and national dialogue."

When asked about his fears that Hamas's rejection could lead to infighting, he said: "We count on our people, whether they were in the security forces or the presidential guards to value the Palestinian blood and are capable of avoiding infighting."

Marzouq strongly condemned the tragic events in the Gaza Strip and said: "the spilling of any Palestinian blood is a step in the wrong direction."

He accused the USA of fuelling the strife by giving aid to Abbas's presidential guards. He also blamed the international community of siding with one faction instead of supporting Palestinian national reconciliation. He excluded Russia from this accusation saying that Russia has stopped the sale of armoured vehicles to Abbas's presidential guards.

He stressed that the Russian decision was taken by President Vladimir Putin to prevent Palestinian civil war which Israel is trying to ignite."

Israel bought 10% of the Moon (the rest belongs to the Americans...)

Explosion of sales for pieces of land on our satellite that is up for private sale
For the company that is handling the offer, "It's an excellent occasion and a good investment."

"10 per cent of the Moon belongs to Israelis"

Living the New Year's Raid on Ramallah

Dana Shalah writing from Ramallah, occupied Palestine, Live from Palestine, 5 January 2007

"I never thought I would be so happy to come back home. I am still disoriented and traumatized, and though I had taken pain killers, and coffee after coffee, I just can't bring myself to sleep.

Early this morning while walking in Ramallah, I took a road that brought awful memories into my head. Last year, I witnessed one of the Israeli forces' raids in Ramallah. Though it was from a distance, it was a chilling experience to be totally surrounded by bullets and blood.

I have just come back from Ramallah where together with my sister I was locked inside a building at Al Manara, Ramallah's city center, for four hours. While we were shopping this afternoon, people started running, stores began closing up, and the Palestinian policemen fled from Al Manara. Everyone was pointing somewhere upwards and there were two Israeli helicopters flying in Ramallah's skies.

I cannot recall how I ended up in this building, but that was not the most rational choice I have made in my life since it is in the heart of Al Manara. We have been living in an area of armed conflict before I was even born, with its bullets, sound and/or gas bombs, in addition to helicopters, but today it felt like a factual battlefield except that the battle was waged by a powerful side against civilians. Shots, gas, noises of the Israeli jeeps, bulldozers, two helicopters, nonstop bullets everywhere, screams and cries, inhaling gas, constant fear, not knowing what's going outside, and not being able to have a peek outside lest catching a bullet is rather insane.

At some point, I felt that this was it. And I will never get back home. I could not stand the raining bullets and bombs; I could hardly tolerate the numbness in my ears. The noise was getting much and much louder and closer while the locked building was getting darker. I sat on the stairs and had my head against the wall. I was totally petrified not for my life, but for feeling what the other Palestinians have been through. Those who have been attacked on daily basis in Gaza, and the kids whose only crime is being Palestinians have to live that without knowing what the next seconds hold. I, on the other hand, was reassured by the young men who were locked in the same building. They may have noticed my watery eyes, and said, "It's alright, sister, this happens all the time. Now they will leave." Half an hour later, the shooting and noises of military vehicles was getting more intense, and I could have sworn that one of the bombs was thrown inside the building. The ten guys who were by the window jumped away, and I almost fell, so I found myself hugging some guy.

Eventually, everyone was let out after hours. It was getting dark. People were surrounding me from everywhere, kids were screaming, cars were crushed, streets filled with rocks, broken glass, and smoke, and hundreds of young men were carrying either dead or injured people. The noises of shooting and bullets faded while the noise of ambulances dominated.

I would never wish this to happen to anyone because it is much worse than death. I am still unable to put things together at the moment, but I am so glad that I got back home. The only irony is that once I got here, Al Jazeera was covering the Olmert-Mubarak press conference. While they were sucking up, we were under attack. They were discussing peace (I guess), and they made sure it is being perfectly applied this afternoon in Ramallah."

Dana Shalash is a student of English at Birzeit University. Her blog is Stranger than Fiction.

W Pushes Envelope on US Spying

New postal law lets Bush peek through your mail

Gestapo in Ramallah

A Great Comment
By Khalid Amayreh
Ramallah, The Occupied West Bank

"On Thursday, 4 January, the Israeli occupation army carried out another provocative foray into Ramallah, killing at least four Palestinian civilians and injuring and maiming more than 20 others. During the Gestapo-like incursion, trigger-happy Israeli soldiers opened fire rather wantonly on Palestinian civilians and stone-hurling youngsters. Moreover, Israeli army bulldozers crushed Palestinian cars, storefronts and vegetable and fruit stands in downtown Ramallah in a manner befitting the German Wehrmacht.

Undoubtedly, the criminal raid, which took place as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert himself was meeting with Egyptian President Husni Mubarak at Sharm al Sheikh, ostensibly to promote peace, constituted a brazen provocation not only to the Palestinian and Egyptian leaderships but also all international efforts aimed at reviving peace talks in the region. Indeed, only a few weeks ago, Olmert said in his much-celebrated speech in southern Israel that he was extending a hand of peace to the Palestinian people. And now, he is sending his murderous army on yet another rampage of murder and terror in the heart of Ramallah, not far from the headquarters of President Abbas with whom he had an ostensibly cordial meeting less than two weeks ago.

Does Olmert really think that sending his Gestapo-like soldiers to spread death and terror in our crowded streets in Ramallah and Nablus and other Palestinian population centers is the way to demonstrate his and his people’s desire for peace?

The Palestinian leadership, especially lately, sought to give Olmert and his government the benefit of the doubt, despite all the clarion misgivings about the Israeli premier and his criminal attitudes.

Chairman Abbas did laud Olmert’s speech last month and agreed, probably under British and American pressure, to meet with the Zionist premier in his own home where he pledged to deliver a package of “good will” gestures to the Palestinians, including a promise to remove roadblocks and checkpoints, free some prisoners and release a $100 million dollars of our imprisoned tax money which Israel is withholding in order to punish Palestinians for electing Hamas. However, ever since that fiasco on 27 December, the Israeli government has neither removed roadblocks, nor released prisoners and has refused to release our money.

And now we are affronted once again by this pornographic rape of Ramallah’s city center in broad daylight which reminds us of what happened in Jericho last year, when Israeli occupation troops raided the town’s central prison and abducted several Palestinian detainees, including PFLP leader Ahmed Sa’adat.

To be sure, these criminal provocations by Israel carry certain messages to the Palestinian people and their leadership.

The first message is that Israel remains unchanged and her leaders lie as often as they breathe and that their words and pledges and promises carry no weight and are devoid of any veracity and credibility, which really underscores the futility of believing let alone relying on promises and undertakings made by Israeli leaders.

The second message is that Israel remains a bellicose and murderous state with which genuine peace is impossible. Indeed, how can these recurrent acts of brigandage and criminality be reconciled with Israel ’s purported desire for peace and principled acceptance of a viable Palestinian state? This is a question that had been asked thousands of times and is being asked again in light of Israel ’s enduring and unrelenting criminality.

The sinister Israeli raid in Ramallah on Thursday should really prompt the Palestinian leadership, including the PLO executive committee and especially President Abbas, to rethink the present discourse vis-a-vise the moribund peace process which Israel uses as rubric to murder our youngsters and rape our towns.

Indeed, with Israel apparently hell-bent on eviscerating the PA of whatever semblance of substance of authority there is, and there is not that much anyway, the Palestinian leadership must stop acting as a state when there is none. Our leadership must meticulously re-evaluate the continued existence of the PA structure, especially if it becomes sufficiently clear this ramshackle and fragile existence doesn’t really serve our paramount national interests.

We must stop deceiving our people by clinging and clutching to an authority that lacks any semblance of authority.

Yes, Israel wants to kill every dignified Palestinian who dare raise his hands in the face of the Israeli occupation. And it makes no difference if the “targeted Palestinian” carried out the “terrorist act” five, ten, or even twenty years ago.

Another point I would like to make is that the Israeli raid in Ramallah came as our own militiamen were killing each other in cold blood in the streets of Gaza ? The disgrace of what is happening in Gaza really transcends reality. Indeed, if we are so bent on spilling our own blood with our own hands, why should our enemies be any more merciful toward us.?

Shame on us. "

Get the message?

Protesters in Lebanon have a simple message for Britain and the US: you cannot expect Arab democracies to operate on western terms.

A Comment By Salam Al-Mahadin
The Guardian

"Let's assume for the sake of the argument that half the population of Britain took to the streets, slept out in the cold, raised the national flag and flew banners demanding the resignation of Tony Blair. Would the western world flock to London to offer him support? Would the US, Israel and half the enlightened democracies denounce the crowds as ignorant mobs easily swayed by agitating demagogues? Would he and his government legitimate their rule on the basis of foreign support? Would Blair declare to the world at large that the support of his own people was secondary to the support of international allies?

Let's assume for the sake of another argument that Tony Blair came into office following elections in which he swept more than three quarters of votes in the biggest electoral turnout in the history of the UK. Would the European Union, the US and Israel rave and rant before sulking in a corner and declaring that they didn't really like Tony Blair's politics and had therefore decided to starve the British people for making such an unsavoury choice?

Do these two scenarios seem surreal?

They didn't seem so surreal when they were applied to both Lebanon and the West Bank. And I am willing to bet my lunch money for a whole year that should an independent international committee be formed to gauge the degree of support for both the Hamas government and the opposition movements in Lebanon, they would reveal that both the Lebanese and Palestinian nations were in favour of those whom the west considers "personas non grata"."

Confronting the Empire

It's time …

By Justin Raimondo

"How it is that, having lost an election widely viewed as a referendum on the war, the Bush administration has the temerity to announce a "surge" in American forces engaged in active combat in Iraq? The answer was given by incoming chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Carl Levin (D- Michigan):

"'There are a lot of ways you could have a surge, it's not just 'surge versus non-surge,'' Levin said. ‘If a temporary surge is part of a reduction of U.S. forces in four to six months with political milestones to achieving a political solution agreed upon by Iraqis' then he would be on board."

Get on board the Middle East war-escalator – Republicans, Democrats, one and all! Screw the American people and the recent election results – that was then, this is now. Democrats in the know are sitting back and enjoying the tax-funded orgy known as Pelosi-palooza!, raking in the campaign cash from lobbyists and special interests – and letting the good times roll!"


Latest Latuff Cartoon

Latuff: Saddam EXECUTED! Now, who will hang Bush for war crimes? Or Blair? What about Olmert?

Latest From Dr. Mona El-Farra In Gaza

A Gaza Sunset

"Dear All
happy new year , hoping that 2007 will bring the best possible for al lof us , sorry it is belated wish , but late is better than never
with love and solidarity

Mona eLFarra


Gaza at the end of 2006

My life in Gaza

Throughout December, I was very busy organizing relief work for hundreds
of families living in different sorts of poverty. Working with colleagues
and tens of volunteers, we managed to distribute food parcels – meat,
blankets, money vouchers, milk, medications for sick children and cancer
patients, university fees for needy students.

I am organizing and coordinating this work for MECA and some other donors,
with the help of 3 doctors, friends and colleagues. A group of volunteers,
mainly women, help as well. We work hard to reach people in different
parts of the crowded Gaza Strip, where we are imprisoned in this small
area of land whose borders are still mainly closed – they opened just 14
times in 6 months.

The Palestinian Egyptian border crossing is very crowded with hundreds of
people waiting to travel on both sides. You can only leave Gaza in very
difficult and inhuman circumstances, and you cannot be sure of coming
back. Passengers wait on the Egyptian side, not knowing when the borders
will open – is it a matter of hours, days, weeks or months? Some have no
choice but to go through this traumatic experience. Students did not reach
their universities on time, and some patients died while waiting to cross
the border for treatment.

I am invited by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London to to attend a
conference.(Enough ) I do not think it will be easy for me to travel, and it may be
impossible in such uncertain circumstances. It is important for me to be
able to go to London and I wish I could go, but this is a luxurious wish
when we all live under very severe circumstances. All of us feel unsafe
and cannot guarantee the safety of our children.

I am surrounded by thousands of people who depend on different sources of
local and international humanitarian aid for their daily basic needs, and
to continue living and resisting these circumstances. They resist
occupation by continuing to live here at all, in such horrific, inhuman
miserable conditions.



VIDEO: War and The Neoliberal Agenda

The Side Effects of IMF "Economic Medicine"

by Michel Chossudovsky

New Way Forward

By Mike Luckovich

One last thrust in Iraq

By Robert Dreyfuss
Asia Times

"Like some neo-conservative Wizard of Oz, in building expectations for the 2007 version of his "Strategy for Victory" in Iraq, US President George W Bush is promising far more than he can deliver. It is now nearly two months since he fired secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, installing Robert Gates in his place, and the White House revealed that a full-scale review of America's failed policy in Iraq was under way.

Last week, having spent months - if, in fact, the New York Times is correct that the review began late in the summer - consulting with generals, politicians, State Department and Central Intelligence Agency bureaucrats, and Pentagon planners, Bush emerged from yet another powwow to tell waiting reporters: "We've got more consultation to do until I talk to the country about the plan."

As John Lennon sang in "Revolution": "We'd all love to see the plan."

Unfortunately for Bush, most of the US public may have already checked out. By and large, Americans have given up on the war in Iraq. The November election, largely a referendum on the war, was a repudiation of the entire effort, and the vote itself was a marker along a continuing path of rapidly declining approval ratings both for Bush personally and for his handling of the war.

It's entirely possible that when Bush does present us with "the plan" next week, few will be listening. Until he makes it clear that he has returned from Planet Neo-Con by announcing concrete steps to end the war in Iraq, it's unlikely that American voters will tune in. As of January 1, every American could find at least 3,000 reasons not to believe that Bush had suddenly found a way to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.....

Bush, perhaps dizzy from the oedipal frenzy created by the emergence of Daddy's best friend James Baker and his Iraq Study Group, seems all too willing to prove his manhood by the size of the surge. According to a stunning front-page piece in the New York Times last Tuesday, Bush has all but dismissed the advice of his generals, including Centcom Commander John Abizaid, and George Casey, the top US general in Iraq, because they are "more fixated on withdrawal than victory".

At a recent Pentagon session, according to General James T Conway, the commandant of the US Marine Corps, Bush told the assembled brass: "What I want to hear from you now is how we are going to win, not how we are going to leave." As a result, Abizaid and Casey are, it appears, getting the same hurry-up-and-retire treatment that swept away other generals who questioned the wisdom on Iraq transmitted from Planet Neo-Con.

That's scary, if it means that Bush - presumably on the advice of the neo-con-in-chief, Vice President Dick Cheney - has decided to launch a major push, Kagan-style, for victory in Iraq. Not that such an escalation has a chance of working, but there's no question that, in addition to bankrupting the United States, breaking the army and the marines, and unleashing all-out political warfare at home, it would kill perhaps tens of thousands more Iraqis......

....At the same time, it may also be too much to expect that the Democrats will really go to the mat to fight Bush if, Kagan-style, he orders a surge that is "long and large". Maybe they will merely posture and fulminate and threaten to ... well, hold hearings.

If so, it will be the Iraqis who end the war. It will be the Iraqis who eventually kill enough Americans to break the US political will, and it will be the Iraqis who sweep away the ruins of the Maliki government to replace it with an anti-American, anti-US-occupation government in Iraq. That is basically how the war in Vietnam ended, and it wasn't pretty."


America's new puppet

By its ill-judged invasion of Somalia, Ethiopia has become an accomplice in Bush's war on terror

Cameron Duodu
Friday January 5, 2007
The Guardian

"If the 20th century taught us anything, it was that powerful armies can be brought to their knees by small groups of fighters who are not afraid to die. Small Vietnam humiliated mighty America, and the "stone-age" mujahideen of Afghanistan sent the Soviet army packing. With all this so apparent, why has the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, sent his army into Somalia?
The transitional government had been fighting a civil war against the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). Meles may think the former has the people's backing, but that poses the question: if it's so popular, why does it need the Ethiopian army to fight for it?"


Washington Arming Palestinian Thugs

U.S. to provide Abbas' forces with $86 million

"The Bush administration will provide $86.4 million to strengthen security forces loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, expanding U.S. involvement in Abbas' power struggle with Hamas, U.S. documents showed on Friday.

Fighting between Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas has surged since talks on forming a unity government collapsed and Abbas called for early parliamentary and presidential elections. Hamas accused Abbas of mounting a coup.

The U.S. money will be used to "assist the Palestinian Authority presidency in fulfilling PA commitments under the road map to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and establish law and order in the West Bank and Gaza," a U.S. government document obtained by Reuters said."

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Bush Shuffles the Neocon Deck

By Kurt Nimmo

"In an all too predictable game of musical chairs, the Bush neocons have decided to shuffle John Negroponte, the butcher of Honduras and member in good standing at the Council on Foreign Relations, off to the State Department to work under Condi, drop Zalmay Khalilzad, the PNAC flunky, into fill the space vacated by the unconfirmable John Bolton at the United Nations, and spin former admiral Mike McConnell, a director at Booz Allen Hamilton, where the neocon “World War Four” James Woolsey runs shop, into the top spook position as national intelligence director.....

......In other words, Negroponte may be on the grooming track to replace Condi, disliked by one too many neocons, and thus the transformation at the State Department since the departure of Colin Powell, who rightly called the neocons “fucking crazies,” will be complete as the new target, Iran, looms in the gun sights of the neocons who are tutored in the murderous Machiavellian madness of post-Straussian philosophy mingled with a heaping dose of the totalitarian demagoguery of the Nazi jurist, Carl Schmitt.

Once again, the Bush neocons, or rather the neocons who selected Bush, are turning the tables. For most of us, this is pretty drab and lackluster stuff, especially with more important business afoot, for instance Lindsay Lohan going under the knife. Most Americans cannot be bothered to follow the twists and turns of their government, even if it translates into additional murder, mayhem, and economic and social disaster, right here in the neighborhood, and sooner before later.

Come that inevitability, the neocons will throw up yet another hobgoblin—worse than Osama and al-Zarqawi—a city or two will be attacked in the heartland, and the populace, forever easy prey for such trickery, will get back to where they were in the months following September 11, 2001."

New Year Reflections

By Ramzy Baroud

"......With Iraq left with no positive scenarios, hopes for a lasting Palestinian democratic experience turning into daring predictions of a civil war, coupled with bloody Israeli onslaughts against Gaza and the West Bank, Lebanon still bleeding under the outcomes of war and its own political mayhem, Bush’s ‘vision’ for a democratic Middle East of 2005 has enlivened factionalism, sectarianism and the prospect for a regional civil war in 2006; this is yet another reckless American-Israeli experiment that if fully actualized, shall harvest untold political instability, debase America’s reputation even further and expand the list of innocent victims who have fallen as profusely as ever in this passing year.

One is only left with the hope that 2007 may bring some comfort and a moment of peace to the poor, the dispossessed and the resilient masses all around the world, who cannot afford to surrender their genuine hope, humble prayers, and whatever price necessary to achieve peace and freedom for themselves, for all of us. "

Video: Al-Nakba--The Palestinian Catastrophe of 1948

Contributed by Fatima.

Watch Video

Osirak Redux?

An Israeli strike on Iran would pin the U.S. down in Iraq and resuscitate the neocons.

by Leon Hadar

"........Michael Oren, an Israeli historian affiliated with Shalem, a think tank that promotes the Likud agenda, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Olmert came to Washington “in search of a green light” from Bush to launch a preemptive strike against Iran. According to Oren, Olmert discovered that “bogged down in Iraq and hemorrhaging political capital at home,” Bush was unable to undertake a unilateral attack against Iran “or even to endorse an Israeli one.” That was “bad news” for the Israeli PM, who had “hoped to secure a hard-and-fast timetable for interdicting Iran’s nuclear program first by diplomacy and then, if that failed, by force.” Nevertheless, concluded Oren, “the light Mr. Olmert received in Washington was probably not green, but neither was it flashing red.”

American officials continue to maintain in public that Washington will not sanction unilateral Israeli action against Iran, and according to the Jerusalem Post, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told French officials that she would not be willing “to show understanding for a possible Israeli strike against Iran” in the same way that her boss promised. But the mixed signals coming out of Washington, and the fact that top officials have refrained from stating clearly that they would veto a strike, have led to speculation in Europe that there is some political logic behind what looks like confusion among the Bushies. Is it possible that Bush and Cheney, backed by the remaining neoconservative foot soldiers, are hoping that Israel will soon remake the Osirak ’81 production in Iran? Such an Israeli action could serve not only as preemptive action against Iran but also against the battalions of realist forces led by Baker, Hamilton, Gates, and Brzezinski, who threaten what remains of the neocon agenda. Indeed, as Oren put it, the ramifications of an Israeli attack on Iran “are certain to affect America as well.” If Israel attacks Iran, and especially if Israeli jets pass through Iraq’s American-controlled airspace, the perception in the Middle East and elsewhere will be that while Israel ostensibly acted alone, “the U.S. acts with it,” as Oren explained....

...Hopes of an Israeli military action breathe life into the neocon geo-strategic corpse that was buried in Iraq and recall similar wishful thinking on the eve of the American decision to green-light the Israeli attack on Hezbollah’s infrastructure in Lebanon last summer. From the office of the vice president to the Pentagon to AEI and The Weekly Standard, officials, wonks, and scribblers fantasized that it was going to be the Six Day War all over again, that Israel would annihilate the Shi’ite militia and Hassan Nasrallah in the same way that it had left the Egyptian military rotting in Sinai and devastated President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1967. This would strike a major blow to Hezbollah’s patrons, Syria and Iran, and would shift the balance of power in the Middle East in favor of Israel and its sponsor, the United States, which would then be able to regain the momentum in Iraq. Before we knew it, we would have another tipping point in Mesopotamia.

The Israeli operation in Lebanon did serve as a tipping point—by transforming Hezbollah into the most popular anti-Israeli and anti-American force in the Middle East and by shifting the balance of power in the region even further in the direction of Iran. Now just six months after Israel’s fiasco in Lebanon and as the American disaster in Iraq continues to unfold, the usual suspects are once again daydreaming that a lame duck American president will approve military action by a politically drained Israeli prime minister against the leading bad guy in the neoconservative script.

A few days of Israeli bombing may or may not retard the Iranian nuclear program, but it would impede any plan by the realists to engage Iran in an effort to stabilize Iraq, start withdrawing U.S. troops, and change the direction of American policy in the Middle East."

روسيا توقف صفقة سلاح كانت سترسل إلى حرس عباس

"دمشق - المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

كشفت مصادر سياسية فلسطينية مطلعة النقاب عن أن السلطات الروسية أبطلت مفعول صفقة سلاح عسكرية مع رئاسة السلطة الفلسطينية، خوفاً من أن يستعمل هذا السلاح في إذكاء نار الصراع المستعر بين الرئاسة الفلسطينية ومن ورائها حركة "فتح" وبين الحكومة الفلسطينية التي تقودها حركة المقاومة الإسلامية "حماس".

وقال الدكتور موسى أبو مرزوق، نائب رئيس المكتب السياسي لحركة المقاومة الإسلامية "حماس" في تصريحات لوكالة "قدس برس": "إن السلطات الروسية أوقفت فعلاً صفقة سلاح بينها وبين حرس الرئاسة الفلسطيني، كان من المفترض أن يتسلم بموجبها حرس عباس مدرعات مصفحة".

وأكد القيادي البارز في حركة "حماس" إن قرار السلطات الروسية الذي اتخذه الرئيس فلاديمير بوتين يأتي في سياق منع حدوث حرب أهلية بين الفلسطينيين يسعى الكيان الصهيوني لإشعالها.

ويأتي هذا التطور فيما تتزايد المعلومات عن مساع إقليمية ودولية لتقوية حرس الرئاسة وكافة الأجهزة الأمنية التابعة لرئيس السلطة محمود عباس في محاولة لكسر ذراع حكومة "حماس" وترجيح كفة "فتح" عسكرياً بعد فشلها في الانتخابات الأخيرة."

Rearranging The Chairs on The Titanic Deck

Another Neocon at the U.N.

Bush said to name new U.N. envoy

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, is expected to be nominated the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations as President George W. Bush attempts to chart a new course for his Iraq policy, two U.S. officials said on Thursday."

Thanks fatima.
(For non-Arabs, this is the Arabic way of "giving the finger.")

Rebellion Within U.S. Military Ranks

Opposing the "Surge?"

"Replacements for Generals Abizaid and Casey
January 04, 2007 4:02 PM

ABC News' Martha Raddatz Reports: ABC News has learned that the president intends to nominate Admiral William J. Fallon to replace General John Abizaid at Central Command. The announcement is expected next week, before the president gives his Iraq strategy speech, according to US officials.

Officials also tell ABC that the replacement as MNF-I commander in Iraq (replacing Gen. George Casey) will be LTG David Petraeus. Though Casey was originally staying in position till June, he is expected to leave earlier than expected probably in the next few months.

The president wants a clean sweep” an official told ABC News.

Fallon, who is in the Navy, is currently head of Pacific Command; he will be overseeing two ground wars, so the appointment is highly unusual."


The Executioner-in-Chief demands total obedience to his suicidal policies.


"A WAR against Iran could be launched within the next two years, a senior adviser to George Bush warned last night.

CIA specialist on Iran Reuel Marc Gerecht said there had been a "tidal shift" of opinion towards military action, especially in Israel.

He added: "I think it has now become highly likely the Israelis will launch a strike before the end of George Bush's presidency."

An Israeli attack before the US election in November 2008 risks sparking a military explosion in the Middle East.

It is likely to be backed up by American and possibly British air support from Iraq.

Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could retaliate by sending the Republican Guard across the border with Iraq to attack British forces.

Experts warned there would be a massive surge in Iranianbacked suicide attacks.

The UN has voted unanimously to impose sanctions against Iran over its failure to halt its nuclear programme."

We Didn't Disappear

The document is likely to further increase tensions between the Israeli government and the country's Palestinian minority, and has already been roundly condemned in the Hebrew media

By Jonathan Cook

"The official political leadership of Israel's more than one million Palestinian citizens issued a manifesto in Nazareth last week demanding a raft of changes to end the systematic discrimination exercised against non-Jews by the state since its creation nearly six decades ago.

Included in the manifesto -- the first ever produced by the community's supreme political body, known as the High Follow-Up Committee -- are calls for Israel to be reformed from a Jewish state that privileges its Jewish majority into "a state of all its citizens" and for sweeping changes to a national system of land control designed to exclude Palestinian citizens from influence.

The document is likely to further increase tensions between the Israeli government and the country's Palestinian minority, and has already been roundly condemned in the Hebrew media.

Although individual Arab political parties have made similar criticisms of the state before, it is the first time in its history that the High Follow-Up Committee -- a cautious and conservative body, mainly comprising the heads of Arab local authorities -- has dared to speak out. The committee is seen as setting the consensus for Israel's one in five citizens who are Palestinian.

The most contentious issue raised in the document, called "The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel", is Israel's status as a Jewish state. The authors -- leading academics and community activists -- argue that Israel is not a democracy but an "ethnocracy" similar to Turkey, Sri Lanka and the Baltic states.

Instead, says the manifesto, Israel must become a "consensual democracy" enabling Palestinian citizens "to be fully active in the decision-making process and guarantee our individual and collective civil, historic and national rights."

An editorial in Israel's liberal Haaretz newspaper denounced the document as "undermining the Jewish character of the state" and argued that it was likely its publication would "actually weaken the standing of Arabs in Israel instead of strengthening it".

The campaign among Israel's Arab parties for a state of all its citizens began in the mid-1990s after it was widely understood that under the terms of the Oslo Accords Israel's Palestinian population would remain citizens of the State of Israel. Until then the minority had kept largely out of the debate about its future, fearing that expressing a view would prejudice negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian leadership.

The demand for a state of all its citizens has wide backing among the Palestinian minority: a recent survey by the Mada Al-Carmel Centre revealed that 90 per cent believed a Jewish state could not guarantee them equality, and 61 per cent objected to Israel's self-definition.

However, Israeli prime ministers, including Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon, have always characterised the call for a state of all its citizens as tantamount to sedition. In a speech last week, Avigdor Lieberman, the new minister of strategic threats, repeated a similar line, telling policy-makers in Washington: "he who is not ready to recognise Israel as a Jewish and Zionist state cannot be a citizen in the country."

As well as highlighting the various spheres of life in which Palestinian citizens are discriminated against, the manifesto makes several key demands that are certain to fall on stony ground.

The High Follow-Up Committee argues that the Palestinian minority must be given "institutional self-rule in the field of education, culture and religion". Israeli officials have always refused to countenance such forms of autonomy. Instead, the separate and grossly under-funded Arab education system is overseen by Jewish officials; the status of the Arabic language is at an all-time low; and the government regularly interferes in the appointment of Muslim and Christian clerics, as well as controlling the running of their places of worship and providing almost no budget for non-Jewish religious services.

The manifesto also demands that Israel "acknowledge responsibility for the Palestinian Nakba " -- the catastrophic dispossession of the Palestinian people during Israel's establishment in 1948 -- and "consider paying compensation for its Palestinian citizens".

As many as one in four Palestinian citizens are internal refugees from the war, and referred to as "present absentees" by the Israeli authorities. They were stripped of their homes, possessions and bank accounts inside Israel, even though they remained citizens. Most homes were either later destroyed by the army or reallocated to Jewish citizens.

An internal government memorandum leaked several years ago showed that most of the internal refugees' money, supposedly held in trust by a state official known as the Custodian of Absentee Property, had disappeared and could no longer be traced.

Another controversial demand is for a radical overhaul of the system of land policy and planning in Israel, described in the manifesto as "the most sensitive issue" between Palestinian citizens and their state. Israel has nationalised 93 per cent of the territory inside its vague borders, holding it in trust not for its citizens but for the Jewish people worldwide. The land can be leased, but usually only to Jews.

Israel's Palestinian citizens, on the other hand, are restricted to about three per cent of the land, although they do not control much of the area nominally in their possession. Gerrymandering of municipal boundaries means that Arab local authorities have been stripped of jurisdiction over half of their areas, which have been effectively handed over to Jewish regional councils.

The manifesto calls for an end to other discriminatory land practices: the exclusion of Palestinian citizens from planning committees; the refusal of such committees to issue house- building permits to Palestinian citizens; the enforcement of house demolitions only against Palestinian citizens; and the continuing harmful interference by international Zionist organisations, particularly the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund, in Israel's land and planning system.

The chairman of the High Follow-Up Committee, Shawki Khatib, said: "We've already seen the reality of which the Arab public says to the Jewish public, 'I want to live together, and I really mean it', but the Jewish public has still not reached the same conclusion. This document is a preliminary spark. Its importance is not in its publishing, but in what happens after it."

The High Follow-Up Committee was established in 1982, in the wake of Land Day in 1976 when six unarmed Palestinian citizens were shot dead by Israeli security forces during demonstrations against a wave of land confiscations by the state to advance its official goal of "Judaising" the Galilee.

The Follow-Up Committee has lost much of its status over the past decade, widely seen as too unwieldy a body to represent the Palestinian minority's needs effectively. Members, drawn from the heads of local authorities and major Israeli Arab organisations and parties, do not have to submit to direct election and reach their decisions through consensus, which has often paralysed the committee into inaction. The manifesto is viewed as an attempt to reassert the committee's authority.

In recent years Arab political factions have called for direct elections to the Follow-Up Committee, but the Israeli government has intimated that it would consider an Arab "parliament" as an attempt at secession and react harshly.

In a related development, the Mossawa advocacy centre presented a position paper at a conference in Nazareth this month, arguing that internal refugees should be allowed to return to villages that existed before 1948. "The move by refugees of 1948 to their villages will not change the demographic balance or endanger the Jews," said Jafar Farah, head of Mossawa. "Unlike the [Palestinian] refugees in Arab states, we are [already] here.""

One of the Palestinians injured in Ramallah during the IOF invasion.

It Is Mubarak's Turn; It Has Been More Than A Week Since An Arab "Leader" Kissed Olmert's Butt.
To celebrate the occasion, the IOF slaughtered 4 Palestinians and injured more than 25 in the largest invasion of Ramallah since last May.

Saddam's Death Squad Hanging

A Good Piece
By Robert Dreyfuss

"In Iraq today , there are the death squads that slink by night, barging into homes in the dark with lists in their hands and shooting whole families of (usually) Sunni leaders and innocents, and there are the brazen death squads who roam in broad daylight, who terrorize whole neighborhoods in an ethnic cleansing frenzy. Some of them wear police uniforms, some of them wear army fatigues, and some of them are black-clad Mahdi Army thugs. The killing goes on: by official Iraqi count, 2,000 in December and more than 16,000 for all of 2006, according to latest reports—though the actual total for last year is more likely 100,000 or more.

And then there is the official death squad that hanged Saddam Hussein. They hanged him unceremoniously, black-hooded killers chanting Shiite religious slogans even as they placed the noose around his neck, shouting “Muqtada! Muqtada! Muqtada!” It was a sordid, even sleazy affair, replete with boorish spectators shouting the names of supposed Shiite clergy-martyrs. It followed a haphazard, kangaroo-court trial, in which judges who couldn’t stomach the travesty were fired and Saddam’s defense lawyers murdered serially by death squads, in which witnesses were paraded to denounce the accused without any rebuttal or cross-examination, resembling the Red Queen’s “Off with her head!” trial of Alice, with the bulbous fictional monarch shouting: “Sentence first, and verdict later!” And then, at the final moment, in Baghdad , the dictator stood proud and erect, making his killers look small and evil-minded. At once, the dictator—who’d sent thousands to the gallows and to the firing squad—became victim and martyr, and the righteous sufferers were transformed into bloodthirsty revenge-seekers.

Adding insult to injury, the Iraqi authorities ordered the hurry-up execution at the start of a major Muslim holiday (at least, according to the Sunni religious calendar), on a holiday whose theme is forgiveness. In so doing, the Shiite-dominated regime made it clear that its own religious calendar, not the Sunni version, is all that matters in the New Iraq.....

....Meanwhile, the Bush administration and the U.S. occupation authorities are flailing around, just days before the announcement by President Bush of the latest, 2007 version of his “Strategy for Victory.” The sheer bungling of their efforts recalls the comment of Anthony Cordesman, the conservative military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was “like sending in a bull to liberate a china shop.”....

....Amid such bungling, it’s impossible to believe that any “surge” in U.S. forces—or any other stay-the-course stratagem—will make any difference in the end. With its sheer might and with Bush’s bull-headed determination, the United States can indeed kill many more Iraqis, perhaps even hundreds of thousands more on top of the 655,000 dead already. But in the end, either the United States will withdraw from Iraq without the victory Bush seeks—indeed, in defeat—or it will be expelled by Iraqis themselves. By now, no Iraqi government will have any credibility if it does not align itself with Iraqi public opinion, which overwhelmingly (Sunni and Shiite, alike) demands the withdrawal of U.S. troops."

Hanging By A Thread

By Mike Luckovich

The "Demonization" of Muslims and the Battle for Oil

A Good, Long Analysis
by Michel Chossudovsky

"....America's Crusade in Central Asia and the Middle East

In the eyes of public opinion, possessing a "just cause" for waging war is central. A war is said to be Just if it is waged on moral, religious or ethical grounds.

America's Crusade in Central Asia and the Middle East is no exception. The "war on terrorism" purports to defend the American Homeland and protect the "civilized world", it is upheld as a "war of religion", a "clash of civilizations", when in fact the main objective of this war is to secure control and corporate ownership over the region's extensive oil wealth, while also imposing under the helm of the IMF and the World Bank (now under the leadership of Paul Wolfowitz), the privatization of State enterprises and the transfer of the countries' economic assets to foreign capital. .

The Just War theory upholds war as a "humanitarian operation". It serves to camouflage the real objectives of the military operation, while providing a moral and principled image to the invaders. In its contemporary version, it calls for military intervention on ethical and moral grounds against "rogue states" and "Islamic terrorists", which are threatening the Homeland.

Possessing a "just cause" for waging war is central to the Bush administration's justification for invading and occupying both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Taught in US military academies, a modern-day version of the "Just War" theory has been embodied into US military doctrine. The "war on terrorism" and the notion of "preemption" are predicated on the right to "self defense." They define "when it is permissible to wage war": jus ad bellum.

Jus ad bellum serves to build a consensus within the Armed Forces command structures. It also serves to convince the troops that they are fighting for a "just cause". More generally, the Just War theory in its modern day version is an integral part of war propaganda and media disinformation, applied to gain public support for a war agenda......


So This is Plan B?

The U.S. Attack on Saleh Al-Mutlaq's Headquarters


".....This attack against the National Dialogue Front (NDF) led by Al-Mutlaq does not seem to be accidental. The Bush administration's attempts to create a pro-occupation coalition in the Iraqi government failed last week after Al-Sistani, the grand Shia Ayatollah, refused to support the U.S. plan. The bush administration's plan seems to have changed from simply excluding anti-occupation political parties (like Sadrists, Al-Fadila party, NDF, and others) from the Iraqi government to actively bombing them.

The attack on NDF's headquarters in Baghdad is nothing more than the first step in the administration's plan B. The Al-Sadr movement and its militia, Al-Mahdi Army, seem to be next, and others will follow.

Attacking NDF, the only political party with no militias, will push the country towards more violence and militarization. It sends one message to Iraqis who still believe in political solutions: We will destroy you unless you were strong enough to destroy us."