Saturday, March 24, 2007

'No comment' from PMO officials on Olmert-Saudi meeting reports

"Officials in the Prime Minister's Bureau refused to comment on Saturday on reports that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with a senior Saudi representative in recent weeks.

Arab sources told Haaretz that Saudi Arabia's National Security Advisor, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, met with Olmert again in a follow-up to their previous meeting in Jordan about six months ago.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on Saturday arrived for a visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Prince Bandar visited Washington last week for talks with senior American officials ahead of the Arab summit in Riyadh this Thursday and Friday. The summit is expected to reapprove the 2002 Arab peace initiative calling for normalization of relations with Israel in exchange for withdrawal from all territories, a Palestinian state and a "just solution" to the Palestinian refugee problem.

Columnist Tom Friedman wrote Friday in The New York Times that there were rumors that a senior Saudi official had met with Olmert ahead of the Riyadh summit.

Government sources in Jerusalem said they would respond after decisions were made in Riyadh. Olmert has said recently that he welcomed the "positive parts" of the Saudi initiative.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has expressed strong opposition to the clause on refugees, which the Palestinians interpret as a right of return. Arab leaders say they will make no changes in the initiative.

Following the establishment of the Palestinian unity government, a flurry of diplomatic activity is expected in the region over the next few days, starting with the visit of Ban Ki-Moon....."


Rejoice Palestinians! Bandar Bush will liberate Palestine for You.

Instructing Her Shameless Stooges

And When You Thought That Kofi Annan Was Bad Enough

The UN didn’t witness a secretary-general so sympathetic to Israel as Ban Ki-Moon

"Pity that the Iraqi resistance missed him, Al-Akhbar newspaper translated parts of Y’Net Israeli newspaper [Hebrew edition] interview with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

For 60 years the United Nations didn’t witness a secretary-general so sympathetic to Israel as Ban Ki-Moon revealing that he gave the the Israeli representative to the United Nations “Dan Gillerman” his private mobile phone, so they can talk in the evenings and in the weekend.

During the interview, Ki-Moon said that his love to Israel is similar to South Korea, pointing out is that Koreans are the “Jews of Asia”.

Also he said that he was impressed with achievements of a small country as Israel and it is similar to the achievements of South Korea, both undergone many wars and difficult enemies.

The newspaper said that Ki-Moon put in his office photos of his meetings with families of Israeli soldiers imprisoned by Hizballah."

بان كي مون «قلق» من تهريب الأسلحة بين لبنان وسوريا

"حيفا ـــ فراس خطيب

«يديعوت»: الأمم المتحدة لم تشهد منذ 60 سنة أميناً عاماً متعاطفاً بهذا الشكل مع إسرائيل

«الأمم المتحدة لم تشهد منذ 60 سنة أميناً عاماً متعاطفاً بهذا الشكل مع إسرائيل». بهذه العبارة استهلّت صحيفة «يديعوت أحرونوت» مقابلة مطولة مع الأمين العام للأمم المتحدة الكوري الجنوبي بان كي مون، كاشفة عن أنَّه منح المندوب الاسرائيلي في الأمم المتحدة دان غيلرمان رقم هاتفه النقال «كي يتحدثا في ساعات المساء ونهاية الاسبوع».
وقال بان، خلال المقابلة التي تنشر اليوم، إنَّه «يكنَّ حباً للإسرائيليين»، وشبهها بكوريا الجنوبية، مشيراً إلى أنَّه يطلق على الكوريين اسم «يهود آسيا».
وأوضح بان «لدي تعاطف كبير مع اسرائيل وحكومتها»، مشيراً إلى أن «الامم المتحدة كانت ذكية عندما ألغت قراراً يصف الصهيونية بالعنصرية»، مضيفا أنَّ الأمم المتحدة أوضحت بأنَّها تعترف بالقلق الشرعي لإسرائيل.
وكان بان قد أبلغ للمندوب الاسرائيلي لدى الامم المتحدة أنه «معجب بإنجازات اسرائيل الممتازة»، وبأن «كوريا الجنوبية دولة صغيرة مرَّت بالكثير من الحروب ضد عدو صعب، إلا انَّها استطاعت أن تحقق انجازات رائعة».
وذكرت الصحيفة أنَّ بان علّق في مكتبه صورة تذكارية من لقائه مع عائلات الجنديين الاسرائيليين الأسيرين لدى حزب الله، معتبرةً أنَّ موضوع الاسيرين «قريب من قلب بان»، الذي قال في المقابلة إنه «يشعر بتعاطف كبير مع عائلتي الجنديين، إلا أنه شدّد على أنه «لا يملك معلوماتٍ يذكرها لعائلتيهما». وأضاف أنه سيحاول قدر المستطاع أن يأتي بمعلومات، واعداً بطرح الموضوع عند زيارته لبنان، لكنّه لم يعد بـ «العودة بمعلوماتٍ تذكر»...........

Somali fighters call for volunteers

"The Somali Liberation Front, an otherwise unknown group, have called on Arabs and Muslims to come to Somalia to fight Ethiopian troops.

Speaking in a videotape aired by Al Jazeera on Wednesday, the group's spokesman also said that its fighters had begun a guerrilla campaign against the Somali government.

"We call on the Arab and Muslim countries to adhere to their responsibilities towards Somalis and to stand by their brethrens in their efforts to liberate their country," the Somali spokesman said, speaking halting Arabic with his face concealed.

The short video also showed armed men making plans and training to carry out attacks.

The group's self-proclaimed spokesman also said that the African Union should not send troops to support the Ethiopian military which has deployed in Somalia to support the countrys' weak interim government.

"We call on the African countries to refrain from sending troops to Somalia, as by doing this they legalize the Ethiopian occupation, harm the Somali issue and get themselves involved in a dispensable trouble," he said.

Cargo plane 'shot down'

Separately, the government of Belarus said that a privately-owned Belorussian cargo plane that crashed north of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, on Friday, had been shot down.

"The plane was shot down," Kseniya Perestoronina, a transport ministry spokeswoman said in Minsk, the Belorussian capital.

She said that the large Ilyushin-76 aircraft, in Somalia to assist struggling African peacekeepers, was hit at a height of 150 metres and that all eleven passengers and crew had died in the crash......"

Where are the Laptop Bombardiers Now?

Four Years Later in Iraq


"Pick almost any date on the calendar and it'll turn out that the US either started a war, ended a war, perpetrated a massacre or sent its UN Ambassador into the Security Council to declare to issue an ultimatum. It's like driving across the American West. "Historic marker, 1 mile", the sign says. A minute later you pull over and find yourself standing on dead Indians. "On this spot, in 1879 Major T and a troop of US cavalry "

It's three o'clock in the afternoon, Sunday March 18, one day short of the anniversary of US planes embarking on an aerial hunt of Pancho Villa in 1916;of the day the U.S. Senate rejected (for the second time) the Treaty of Versailles in 1920; of the end of the active phase of the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2002; of the 10 pm broadcast March 19, 2003, by President G.W. Bush announcing that aerial operations against Iraq had commenced......

As Iraq began to plunge ever more rapidly into the abyss not long after the March, 2003 attack, this crowd stubbornly mostly stayed the course with Bush. "Thumpingly blind to the war's virtues" was the head on a Paul Berman op ed piece in February, 2004.Christopher Hitchens lurched regularly onto Hardball to hurl abuse at critics of the war.

But today, amid Iraq's dreadful death throes, where are the parlor warriors? Have those Iraqi exiles reconsidered their illusions, that all it would take was a brisk invasion and a new constitution, to put Iraq to rights? Have any of them, from Makiya through Hitchens to Berman and Berube had dark nights, asking themselves just how much responsibility they have for the heaps of dead in Iraq, for a plundered nation, for the American soldiers who died or were crippled in Iraq at their urging ? Sometimes I dream of them, -- Friedman, Hitchens, Berman -- like characters in a Beckett play, buried up to their necks in a rubbish dump on the edge of Baghdad, reciting their columns to each other as the local women turn over the corpses to see if one of them is her husband or her son.

Post coldwar Liberal interventionism came of age with the onslaught on Serbia. Liberal support for the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq were the afterglows. Now that night has descended and illusions about the great crusade shattered for ever, let us tip our hats to those who opposed this war from the start ­ the real left, the libertarians and those without illusions about the "civilizing mission" of the great powers."

United Nations complicity in war crimes. Interview with former UN assistant secretary-general Hans-Christof von Sponeck

For Hans Christof von Sponeck, the former assistant secretary-general of the UN, the United Nations, far from garding the respect for international law and the consolidation of peace, have themselves become a factor of injustice. Thus, the sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq caused a human disaster, whereas treaties such as the nuclear non-proliferation treaty are used to ensure the domination of certain powers and to threaten others. It is time to change the system completely.

by Silvia Cattori

Global Research, March 24, 2007

".....Silvia Cattori: How could the Security Council neglect to consider the fact that these sanctions allowed the superpowers to misuse their position and uniquely pursue their war objectives, when it voted for other resolutions, like for example resolution 1559 which was particularly intended to provide the United States and Israel with a cover for future military strikes? Does that mean that the Security Council and the UN Secretariat, supposed to defend the people, have become mainly responsible for humanitarian catastrophes?

Hans von Sponeck: I would say, only those who either are ignorant, or those who cannot accept the defeat, will continue to argue that the humanitarian drama in Iraq was largely not due – not exclusively but to a large extent –to an erroneous policy, a policy of punishment. The Iraqi people were punished for having accepted the government in Baghdad, even though they were completely innocent.

Silvia Cattori: Our political leaders, who are present in all international bodies, knew perfectly well that these sanctions would have disastrous consequences. Does that mean that, by remaining silent, they have accepted innocent civilians to be killed, tortured, and starved?

Hans von Sponeck: I would say, unless the international community has a very bad memory, we cannot forget that, either there was silence or there was connivance, support, or there was a deliberate effort to promote conditions of the kind that prevailed in Iraq during thirteen years of sanctions. Therefore, you get different levels of accountability, of political accountability. Not only the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the President of the United States and their governments are responsible, but others as well; Spain and Italy played a supportive role that means the former governments are responsible as well. Mr Aznar in Madrid and Mr Berlusconi in Italy are very much responsible for having contributed to the humanitarian disaster that evolved in Iraq. They will not accept this responsibility but the evidence is there......

Silvia Cattori: While the situation created by the occupation of Iraq is frightening, it is to be feared that the Resolution against Iran will be used by the United States to strike that country. The German Navy – formally under UN mandate – is in place in the Eastern Mediterranean. Is it because you know to what extent your country is involved in the projects of war of the United States that you recently wrote an open letter to Mrs Angela Merkel asking her to refuse all use of violence against Iran?

Hans von Sponeck: That is correct. I feel very strongly that, gradually, Germany and other European countries are getting involved into power policy defined in Washington by power-hungry people. This is becoming more serious because these power-hungry people begin to realize that they cannot, on their own, implement a policy of domination. So they need the help of other governments now, and these others seem to be Central-European and Eastern European governments from Lithuania to Great Britain. They also try to politicise NATO and make it an instrument, which to a large extent has in fact already become a US instrument. Therefore, just like any normal individual in this world, I cannot accept the attempts – supported by Chancellor Merkel during the recent NATO summit – to provide this military alliance with a political mission. NATO is an instrument of the Cold War; for many years NATO was looking for a new mission, for a new role. The only thing the allies knew was that they have a military responsibility but, with the end of the Cold War in Europe, that responsibility no longer existed and was no longer necessary. So there was this desperate search for a new role.

I personally think that it is extremely dangerous that NATO now presents itself as a democratic instrument for western democracies while, in fact, it is a tool in the hands of the United States to implement the Project for the ‘New American Century’. Neoconservatives in the United States made this famous proposal in the 1990s – while the Bush administration converted it into its national security strategy of 2002 and subsequent years - and NATO is supposed to assist its implementation. The responsible politicians that recently met in Munich should have rejected this concept. Mr Vladimir Putin, the Russian President for once did not mince his words and expressed plainly what many of us feel. Of course, those who follow a different agenda rejected his suggestions. However, there is a reality in what Mr Putin said....."

Calling Out Idiot America

A Very Good Article

By Scott Ritter

".......Sadly, Congress’ smoke-and-mirrors approach to the Iraq war creates the impression of much activity while generating no result. Even more sadly, the majority of Americans are falling for the act, either by continuing their past trend of political disengagement or by thinking that the gesticulation and pontification taking place in Washington, D.C., actually translate into useful work. The fact is, most Americans are ill-placed intellectually, either through genuine ignorance, a lack of curiosity or a combination of both, to judge for themselves the efficacy of congressional behavior when it comes to Iraq. Congress claims to be searching for a solution to Iraq, and many Americans simply accept that this is this case.

The fact is one cannot begin to search for a solution to a problem that has yet to be accurately defined. We speak of “surges,” “stability” and “funding” as if these terms come close to addressing the real problems faced in Iraq. There is widespread recognition among members of Congress and the American people that there is civil unrest in Iraq today, with Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence tearing that country apart, but the depth of analysis rarely goes beyond that obvious statement of fact. Americans might be able to nod their heads knowingly if one utters the words Sunni, Shiite and Kurd, but very few could take the conversation much further down the path of genuine comprehension regarding the interrelationships among these three groups. And yet we, the people, are expected to be able to hold to account those whom we elected to represent us in higher office, those making the decisions regarding the war in Iraq. How can the ignorant accomplish this task? And ignorance is not something uniquely attached to the American public. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the newly appointed chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, infamously failed a pop quiz in which journalist Jeff Stein asked him to differentiate between Sunni and Shiite. Reyes has become the poster boy for congressional stupidity, but in truth he is not alone. Very few of his colleagues could pass the test, truth be told......

The longer the Americans remain in Iraq, the more violence the Americans bring down on Iraq, and the more the Americans are seen as facilitating the persecution of the Sunnis by the Shiites, the more legitimate the call of the Wahhabi fanatics become. While American strategists may speak of the rise of al-Qaida in Iraq, this is misrecognition of what is really happening. Rather than foreigners arriving and spreading Wahhabism in Iraq, the virulent sect of Islamic fundamentalism is spreading on its own volition, assisted by the incompetence and brutality of an American occupation completely ignorant of the reality of the land and people it occupies. This is the true significance of Baghdad, and any answer not reflecting this will be graded as failing.

A pop quiz, consisting of one question in two parts. Most readers might complain that it is not realistic to expect mainstream America to possess the knowledge necessary to achieve the level of comprehension required to pass this quiz. I agree. However, since the mission of the United States in Iraq has shifted from disarming Saddam to installing democracy to creating stability, I think it only fair that the American people be asked about those elements that are most relevant to the issue, namely the Shiite and Sunni faithful and how they interact with one another.

It is sadly misguided to believe that surging an additional 20,000 U.S. troops into Baghdad and western Iraq will even come close to redressing the issues raised in this article. And if you concur that the reality of Iraq is far too complicated to be understood by the average American, yet alone cured by the dispatch of additional troops, then we have a collective responsibility to ask what the hell we are doing in that country to begin with. If this doesn’t represent a clarion call for bringing our men and women home, nothing does. "

Wars of words

A certain semantic change is occurring in statements made by leaders of Hamas.

By Danny Rubinstein

"The political program of the Palestinian national unity government that was sworn in last week refers to Israel in its political sections and in the part that deals with the occupation. In the latter, it is stated that the new government will undertake action "to end the Israeli occupation," will see to the "release of the heroic prisoners from the Israeli occupation's prisons," will stand firm on the "Israeli policy on Jerusalem," will defend the Palestinians' right "to oppose Israeli aggression," and will continue to reduce tensions "in return for an Israeli commitment to end occupation actions." Similarly, it refers to an agreement to exchange Palestinian prisoners in return for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

The significance of the unity government, headed by a Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, using "Israel" rather than some other term, should not be underestimated. In the distant past, most Arab and Palestinian spokespersons avoided using the word "Israel." Instead, they spoke of the "pseudo-state," the "Tel Aviv gang," etc. For many years, Hamas spokespersons employed terms like the "Zionist entity" or the "Zionist enemy." During the intifada's peak years, even representatives of other organizations - including Fatah - often used the term "Zionist entity."

Today the situation is different. Over the past few months a certain semantic change has occurred in statements by Hamas leaders. Hezbollah's television station, Al Manar, is one of the few in the Arab world that still uses terms like the "Zionist entity." In contrast, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah refers specifically to Israel quite often in his speeches......"

The crushing fear that stalks America

The country is not at war. It is the US military that is engaged in an Iraqi conflict

By Robert Fisk

"There's a helluva difference between Cairo University and the campus of Valdosta in the Deep South of the United States. I visited both this week and I feel like I've been travelling on a gloomy spaceship - or maybe a time machine - with just two distant constellations to guide my journey. One is clearly named Iraq; the other is Fear. They have a lot in common......

But the questions I was asked after class told it all. Why didn't "we" leave Iraq? Are "we" going to attack Iran? Did "we" really believe in democracy in the Middle East? In fact "our" shadow clearly hung over these young people.

Thirty hours later, I flicked on the television in my Valdosta, Georgia, hotel room and there was a bejewelled lady on Fox TV telling American viewers that if "we" left Iraq, the "jihadists" would come after us. "They want a Caliphate that will take over the world," she shrieked about a report that two children had deliberately been placed in an Iraqi car bomb which then exploded. She ranted on about how Muslim "jihadists" had been doing this "since the 1970s in Lebanon". It was tosh, of course. Children were never locked into car bombs in Beirut - and there weren't any "jihadists" around in the Lebanese civil war of the 1970s. But fear had been sown. Now that the House of Representatives is talking about the US withdrawal by August 2008, fear seems to drip off the trees in America....."

Abbas: I Wanted Shalit's Release a Condition for Unity Government

"......When asked by the journalists why he did not make the release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit a condition for the formation of the unity government, Abbas he said that he did, but Hamas did not agree to this demand.

Then he asked "is Shalit more important for you than anything? We have thousands of prisoners in the Israeli jails and there is only one Israeli prisoner in Palestinian hands." The journalists answered "yes he is so important, this is a sensitive issue for us."

Abbas then said, "I know that and that is why we are making efforts to release him, me and Khalid Mash'al are working with the Egyptians. I have told Hamas that if they release him it is possible that many of their leaders will be released." Abbas also said that he knows that Shalit is safe and that he hopes he will be released; but not to his home. "He will be handed to the Egyptians," Abbas confirmed......"

Following the Footsteps of Fatah: Relationship between Hamas and US set to improve as US official plans secret talks with Haniyeh during Rice visit

"Bethlehem - Ma'an - Palestinian informed source revealed that "the relationship between Hamas and the United States administration will see a positive development in the coming days".

The sources stated that many Arab countries are making great efforts in this regard and that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is leading this move.

The United Arab Emirates newspaper al Bayan reported the sources as saying that Riyadh has succeeded in opening a channel of high-level communication between Hamas and the United States administration.

The newspaper confirmed "an official will accompany Condoleezza Rice in her visit to the region, he will be visiting the Gaza Strip and meet secretly with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and hold a dialogue with him at the same time as Rice is in Israel." "


Habila is Condoleezza and KSA's man; rejoice!

As they say, with memories of Arafat doing exactly the same, it is deja vu all over again. So what? The Palestinians have lost only 20 years and half the West Bank playing these games. Now Hamas will spend the next 20 years doing the same until the rest of the W. B. is gone. Celebrate this unity and please cheer Condoleezza, since she is "our friend" now.

Four Years of US-Led Occupation of Iraq: Playing the Shi'i-Sunni Divide

A Long and Informative Article

By K Gajendra Singh
(Indian ambassador (retired), served as ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan from August 1992 to April 1996. Prior to that, he served terms as ambassador to Jordan, Romania and Senegal. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies.)

"US led western talk of a Shi'i-Sunni war looks troublingly real , although the option is now on slow backburner. The policy of divide and rule is as old as the Roman empire – a constant guide to the Christian West and implemented ruthlessly during its colonial onslaught on the rest of the world. Evolution of Western nationalism based on a narrow definition of shared religion , ethnicity , language , culture or history after centuries of religious and ethnic wars was then employed to divide multi religious and pluralistic empires and kingdoms in the East and South during its crusade of colonial wars and expansion, masked as 'civilizing mission ' or 'white man's burden' 'or 'saving the soul' by converting natives to Christianity .Europe and Orthodox Russia became self proclaimed 'Guardians of Christians' or nationalities like Serbs ,Bulgarians, Greeks , Armenians and others to divide and break up the far flung Ottoman empire which had reached right up to the gates of Vienna. Religious 'millets' had full freedom of faith and Christians and Jews dominated trade and industry in the Ottoman empire......

So from the very beginning as Scott Ritter , a former UN Chief Weapons Inspector for Iraq, revealed after occupying Baghdad and Iraq (Kurdistan in any case has been a US protectorate since the end of 1991 Gulf War), US and allied special forces provided information on dethroned ruling Sunni elite for taking revenge to the Iraqi exiles ,like Ahmet Chelebi, a convicted embezzler , Iyad Allawi , both intelligence assets of CIA , MIV and others , Shi'i outfits like SCIRI and Badr corps nurtured , nursed and financed by Iran ,opportunists ,carpetbaggers and others who rode into Baghdad on US tanks ,helicopters and F-16s. Scott Ritter also revealed that the Ba'athist regime under President Saddam Hussein was quite realistic about West's objectives and had planned Iraqi resistance much before the invasion.

Later ,Washington , London and Tel Aviv also looked at the option of dividing Iraq into Iraqi Kurdistan , with almost half of Iraqi oil wealth ,which being weak would remain subservient to the West. Its oil can be easily sent to the Mediterranean via the Kirkuk Ceyhan pipe line. Perhaps even a defence alliance could be signed with the Kurds. Washington had in fact planned to have an air base in north Iraq on the pretext of saving Kurds from Saddam's forces in 1991, so an anxious Ankara offered its Incirlik airbase for US-UK jets to patrol over Iraq and bomb it at will.......

The continued divisions in and exploitation of the Arabs and Kurdish problems in the region are the consequences of British policy of divide and rule after the First world war , now being pursued by USA. Like the British then ,now George Bush never tires of bringing liberty and democracy to the Arabs .Pentagon even called US led illegal naked 'shock and awe ' invasion of Iraq as 'Operation Iraqi Freedom '- some cheek .Whose intelligence are they insulting ?Their own as no one believed them except the info-challenged Americans .And even they have wised up......

'After centuries of vibrant interaction, of marrying, sharing and selling across sects and classes, Baghdad has become a capital of corrosive, violent borderlines. Streets never crossed. Conversations never broached. Doors never entered.

"Sunnis and Shiites in many professions now interact almost exclusively with colleagues of the same sect. Sunnis say they are afraid to visit hospitals because Shiites loyal to the cleric Moktada al-Sadr run the Health Ministry, while Shiite laborers who used to climb into the back of pickup trucks for work across the Tigris River in Sunni western Baghdad now take jobs only near home. Baghdad is increasingly looking like Sarajevo in the 1990s", said Damien Cave in International Herald Tribune in early March......"

Preparing for the "Arab" Summit
By Baha Bukhari

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

The "Reforms" of the Arab Regimes Concerning the Average Citizen

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This poll asks a topical question:

Do you believe that Rice will succeed in making the Arab leaders change their peace initiative? [to me this is like asking, "do you believe that the sun rises in the east?"]

With about 1,000 responding so far, here is the breakdown:



Friday, March 23, 2007

كوندوليزا ولجنتها الرباعية العربية

Great Analysis
(But unfortunately, available only in Arabic)

عبد الباري عطوان

"تتصرف السيدة كوندوليزا رايس وزيرة الخارجية الامريكية كما لو انها الزعيمة الحقيقية للمنطقة العربية، وتتعامل مع المسؤولين فيها، كبارا وصغارا، كما لو انهم موظفون في وزارتها، تصدر اليهم الاوامر وتوزع الادوار، وما عليهم غير الطاعة واظهار اقصي درجات الولاء.
اليوم تلتقي السيدة رايس في مدينة اسوان بوزراء خارجية مصر والاردن والمملكة العربية السعودية والامارات، اي قبل يوم واحد من توجههم الي الرياض للانضمام الي زملائهم الآخرين لوضع القرارات النهائية التي من المفترض ان تصدر عن القمة العربية التي ستعقد يومي الاربعاء والخميس المقبلين في العاصمة السعودية.
وقبل هذا اللقاء الرباعي عقدت السيدة رايس اجتماعا غير مسبوق مع قادة اجهزة الاستخبارات في الدول نفسها، الامر الذي اثار العديد من علامات الاستفهام حول نوايا وزيرة الخارجية والصلاحيات المفتوحة المعطاة لها من قادة الدول العربية.
فالمنطق يقول بان تجتمع السيدة رايس بنظرائها وزراء الخارجية، وتصدر اليهم تعليماتها، ليقوموا بدورهم بنقلها الي قادتهم واجهزة استخباراتهم، ولكن ان تتجاوز السيدة رايس هذا العرف الاداري والدبلوماسي وتجتمع مع قادة الاستخبارات مباشرة، وكأنها ما زالت مستشارة الامن القومي الامريكي وليست وزيرة الخارجية، فان هذا يعني ان هؤلاء مجرد موظفين تابعين لأجهزة الاستخبارات الامريكية تبعية مباشرة.
هناك تفسير واحد لمثل هذه الازدواجية في الاجتماعات، ربما يبدو اكثر منطقية، وهو ان رؤساء اجهزة الاستخبارات العربية هم الاكثر نفوذا وصلاحيات، وهم وزراء الخارجية الحقيقيون، ولذلك قررت السيدة رايس التوجه اليهم مباشرة دون اللجوء الي قنوات وسيطة. فالامير بندر بن عبد العزيز امين عام مجلس الامن القومي السعودي اقوي بكثير من ابن عمه الامير سعود الفيصل فهو يمسك بالملفات الساخنة مثل الملفين العراقي والايراني، وكان القناة السعودية الرسمية للتعامل مع الادارة الامريكية، الامر الذي اغضب ابن عمه الآخر الامير تركي الفيصل السفير السعودي السابق ودفعه الي الاستقالة من موقعه احتجاجا. والشيء نفسه يقال عن السيد عمر سليمان رئيس جهاز المخابرات المصري بالمقارنة مع زميله احمد ابو الغيط وزير الخارجية المصري بالاسم. فالملفات الحساسة مثل ملف فلسطين والعراق وايران ولبنان هي من ممتلكات اللواء سليمان، اما صلاحيات السيد ابو الغيط فمحصورة في كيفية دعم التعاون المصري ـ السيريلانكي، او المصري ـ الانغولي وهكذا. وما ينطبق علي مصر والسعودية في هذا الاطار ينطبق علي الدول الاخري.
السيدة رايس هي التي اخترعت تعبير محور المعتدلين ، وهي التي نحتت مفهوم تكتل الدول السنية السبع الذي عقد اول اجتماعاته في اسلام اباد علي مستوي وزراء الخارجية، وها هي تخرج علينا بصيغة جديدة مختصرة، وهي اللجنة الرباعية العربية.
لا نعرف ما هي طبيعة المعايير التي استخدمتها السيدة رايس لبناء مثل هذه التكتلات والمحاور العربية والاسلامية، ولكن ما يمكن استنتاجه هو اغفالها ثلثي العرب تقريبا عندما اسقطت جميع دول المغرب العربي من محور المعتدلين العرب، علاوة علي سورية واليمن والسودان، وكل هؤلاء ايضا من التكتل الاسلامي السني.
الارجح ان السيدة رايس اعتبرت اعضاء اللجنة الرباعية العربية التي تدشن وجودها كقوة سياسية ممثلة للعرب في لقاء اسوان اليوم، هم الاكثر حماسا لتطبيق الخطط الامريكية في المنطقة، وخاصة في العراق وفلسطين، وهذا لا يعني ان الدول العربية الاخري ليست حليفة لواشنطن، ولكن الولاء درجات مثل التحالف والصداقات.
فالسيدة رايس اختارت دولتين خليجيتين مجاورتين لايران هما المملكة العربية السعودية والامارات، واخريين مجاورتين لفلسطين، وتقيمان علاقات دبلوماسية كاملة مع الدولة العبرية هما الاردن ومصر، وهذا يعني ان هذه الدول الاربع ستكون مجتمعة او منفردة، رأس الحربة للمشاريع الامريكية المقبلة، سلما في فلسطين، او حربا ضد ايران.
فاذا كانت قمة الرياض ستركز علي احياء مبادرة السلام العربية بعد موات استمر خمس سنوات، فان علينا ان نتوقع دورا مهما للجنة الرباعية العربية، لـ تلطيف هذه المبادرة حتي تتلاءم مع المطالب الاسرائيلية في اسقاط ما علق بها من شوائب في قمة بيروت عام 2002 عندما اضافت اليها سورية بندين اساسيين، هما الاصرار علي حق العودة، ومنع توطين اللاجئين الفلسطينيين في الدول المضيفة مثل الاردن وسورية ولبنان.
والمقصود بالتلطيف هنا، هو اعادة صياغة هذه المبادرة بطريقة تجعل من التراجع عن هذين البندين امرا ممكنا، كأن تنص قرارات القمة علي اعتبار مبادرة السلام العربية مجرد اعلان مبادئ ، مما يوحي بانها ليست نصوصا مقدسة وقابلة للتعديل.
ولعل النقطة الاخطر التي تحاول السيدة رايس تسويقها في لقاء اسوان اليوم، هي مطالبة الدول العربية باعطاء افق سياسي للاسرائيليين، اي الاعتراف بها، والتطبيع الكامل معها، لاعطاء حكومة ايهود اولمرت مساحة من المرونة العربية، لتشجيعها علي انسحابات محدودة من بعض مناطق الضفة الغربية، وازالة بعض المستوطنات الثانوية، للايحاء بانها مستعدة للعودة الي طاولة المفاوضات والقبول بدولة فلسطينية مهلهلة بحدود مؤقتة.
التطور الايجابي من وجهة النظر الامريكية الذي يمكن ان يساعد في انجاح عملية التسويق هذه، هو اعتدال حركة حماس ، وابتعادها بشكل ملحوظ ومتدرج عن محور الشر السوري ـ الايراني، واقترابها اكثر من محور المعتدلين منذ توقيع اتفاق مكة، وتشكيل حكومة وحدة وطنية تقوم علي اساس المشاركة السياسية، بين التطرف سابقا و الاعتدال الدائم ، بين خيار المقاومة للوصول الي الاهداف الوطنية في التحرير، و خيار التفاوض ، الذي يسقط كل الخيارات الاخري، ويراها مضيعة للوقت وغير عملية.
نجهل اسباب تغيب الطرفين الاسرائيلي والفلسطيني عن اللجنة الرباعية العربية واجتماعها في اسوان، لان حضورهما يبدو منطقيا في ظل ما تطبخه السيدة رايس من حلول، وربما يكون هذا الغياب مؤقتا ، والمشاركة مؤجلة ريثما تتهيأ او تنضج الظروف، ظروف اسقاط حق العودة من مبادرة السلام العربية بحيث تعود الي اصلها السعودي، والمواجهة العسكرية مع ايران لتدمير مفاعلها النووي وبناها التحتية."

عباس يدعو حكومة الاحتلال إلى تطبيع علاقاتها مع 57 دولة إسلامية

"دعا رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية محمود عباس، الكيان الصهيوني إلى تطبيع علاقاته مع كافة دول العالم الإسلامي مجتمعة، معتبراً في لقاء مطوّل أجرته معه صحيفة "يديعوت أحرونوت" العبرية، ونشرته الجمعة (23/3)، أنّ ذلك سيجعل علم الكيان مرفرفاً في كافة العواصم الإسلامية من المغرب وموريتانيا وحتى إندونيسيا.

فجواباً عن سؤال يتعلق برأيه في مستقبل تفاوض الجانب الصهيوني على ما يُعرف بالمسار السوري وطبيعة تأثير ذلك على باقي مسارات التفاوض؛ قال رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية "هذه تفاهات. نحن نقترح عليكم التوصل إلى سلام مع سبع وخمسين دولة إسلامية. لن تكونوا بعد ذلك جزيرة معزولة. علم "إسرائيل" سيرفرف من المغرب وموريتانيا حتى إندونيسيا. الجميع مستعدون لتأييد المبادرة السعودية"، وتابع "هذه مبادرة السلام الأكثر جدية منذ عام 1948"، وفق قوله.


To All Muslims and Arabs: Prepare for a Bigger Celebration!

The Israeli Flag Will be Flying in Your Sky Soon.

Abu Mazen is Lobbying for Israel Now....What is Left?? Habila Joining Him??

Abbas to Israel: Chance to normalize ties with Muslim world at hand

"GAZA, (PIC)-- PA chief Mahmoud Abbas has invited the Hebrew state not to lose the chance of normalizing ties with the Muslim world, affirming that all 57 Muslim countries were supporting the Arab Initiative for peace.

“Normalizing relationship with the Muslim world means that your flag will fly in the sky of more than 57 countries from Morocco, in the west, to Indonesia in the east. You won’t be an isolated island any more”, Abbas said in an interview with the Hebrew Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper Friday......."

Saudi-Israeli Romance in the Air?

Report quotes diplomats as saying Rice envisions comprehensive Middle East meeting

Israel to talk to Saudi Arabia?

"Washington: Will Israel meet with Saudi Arabia? According to a Friday report by the Washington Post, diplomats said that US Secretary Condaleezza Rice wants to initiate a multilateral meeting that would bring the two countries together.

A multilateral meeting of this sort would include the Quartet (the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations), Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and the so-called 'Arab Quartet' –Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – in a single meeting.

Such a meeting would bring together Israeli and Saudi officials formally for the first time since 2000. As of now, the Saudis refuse to meet publicly with Israeli officials.

Israel seems to be taking a similar stance: According to a recent 'Yedioth Aharonot' report, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with a senior Saudi official when visiting in the Jordanian capital of Amman. The prime minister denied this report....."

Mad War Pimp Alert: Bolton: Iranian regime must be toppled

Former US ambassador to UN John Bolton tells Ynet world has waited too long and has done too little to restrain Iran, deal with its nuclear program. Bolton does not advocate military action, but says current diplomatic efforts have proved futile

"WASHINGTON - John Bolton, the outgoing American ambassador to the UN, said that his country should have launched efforts to topple the Mullahs' regime in Iran four years ago. In a special interview, Bolton told Ynet that he was disappointed by Russia's support of Iran in the UN Security Council, and the failure of diplomatic efforts to address the Iranian nuclear threat.

Bolton served as undersecretary of state for arms control during George W. Bush's firs term in office, and has been the US ambassador to the UN in the past 17 months.

"I'd dealt with the Russians extensively…on a range of proliferation matters. In the discussions on the Security Council over Iran, Russia emerged as Iran's biggest protector, for a variety of reasons, some commercial, some strategic, some just political, as opposition to the United States......

Are there any forces inside Iran that are working to overthrow the regime?

"I think there are a lot of Iranians that are unsatisfied with the regime, I think that there is more unrest there than what people believe, I think that the government is constrained because of the fall of oil prices and there is mismanagement of the oil sector of Iran's economy, they've got fewer resources to spread around to keep the populous happy. "There's a large Iranian diaspora that know what the situation is. So, I think that there are a lot of possibilities. It won't necessarily be easy or quick, but that's not to say we shouldn't be pursuing it. "In think it's very close to the point where Iran will have completely indigenous mastery over the fuel sites, that is to say the point in which stopping the things from the outside will not be sufficient, so I don't think we have much time. That's why all these negotiations with the Europeans have played to Iran's advantage, because time is on their side, time is not on our side." ......

Not through military action?

"I don't think military force is the preferable way to go. I don't rule military force out because as unpalatable as military force might be, Iran with nuclear weapons is even worse. I think you have to show you have tried the alternatives, I think we've spent too much time on this EU-three diplomacy, I think now is the time to ramp up the pressure very dramatically."

What should Israel do? Wait for the world to resolve this?

"I think Israel has to make its own decisions…I think any country threatened with its own survival at stake has to be prepared to do what it has to do. I wouldn't second guess that."........"

Embassies in Teheran prepare escape plans

"Several foreign embassies in Teheran are updating their emergency evacuation plans should a Western or Israeli attack on Iran occur.

According to foreign sources, foreign diplomats believe a possible attack would take place before the end of 2007. By that time, Iran might have enough enriched uranium to cause a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe from radioactive fallout should its nuclear facilities be damaged or destroyed in an attack.

Embassies in all countries generally have evacuation plans for their staff, but foreign sources describe the general atmosphere in Iran as one of heightened preparedness. Recently, several diplomatic missions based in Teheran have begun to reassess their plans, and embassies without permanent security officers have requested them.

Embassy experts reportedly are testing various evacuation options and logistics, such as timing routes to different destinations by different types of vehicles. The plans include evacuation for all staff.

Foreign sources say both the United States and Israel, who accuse Iran of wanting to develop nuclear weapons, want to give diplomatic efforts aimed at stopping Iran's nuclear drive the best possible chance to succeed.

But according to these sources, should the West or Israel feel that the time needed for diplomatic efforts is longer than the time it would take for Iran to obtain nuclear independence, they are likely to strike at Iran's main nuclear facilities before the damage done by such an attack would cause serious radiation fallout [isn't this kind?]. Such fallout would likely kill many civilians and render some parts of Iran uninhabitable for an undetermined period of time.

According to this logic, the timing of such an attack would take place just before Iran has enriched an amount of weapons-grade material that, if damaged, would cause such a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe, it could be construed as a nuclear attack.

The assessments posit that Israel and the US will try to delay an attack until the last moment due to the expected Iranian counterattack and regional deterioration.

Similar dilemmas over timing were faced by Israel before the 1981 raid that destroyed Saddam Hussein's reactor at Osirak......."

Welcome to Iraq, Mr. Ban

Bomb Goes Off Within Yards of UN Chief in Baghdad


"A rocket or mortar bomb exploded 50 yards from the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, as he was telling reporters in Baghdad that he was thinking of boosting the UN presence in Iraq because of improved security.

A startled looking Mr Ban ducked as if for cover behind the artificial flowers decorating the podium as the roar of the explosion reverberated through the hall where he was giving a press conference, standing beside Iraq's Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

It was Mr Ban's first visit to Iraq and like all other visits by senior international dignitaries to the Iraqi capital it was a "surprise", in a bid to get in and out of the country before insurgents could react.

In Mr Ban's case their response was immediate and highly accurate: the blast was close enough to the conference hall to bring down pieces of debris from the ceiling while outside it slightly wounded two security guards.

Iraqi officials were reassuring. "This was not a security breach," said the Interior Minister, Jawad Bolani. "Things like this happen in Baghdad once or twice a week." In reality, they happen every few hours outside the Green Zone, which few government ministers ever leave. The zone itself comes under regular mortar fire and is sometimes hit by Katyusha rockets, a favourite spot for launching them being the Dohra area in southern Baghdad.

The incident is the most embarassing conclusion to an official visit since Paul Wolfowitz, then US deputy Defence Secretary, was sent running in his pyjamas down a smoke-filled stair well from his suite in the nearby al-Rashid hotel in November 2003, after it was hit by a barrage of rockets that killed an American colonel. He had been conducting a tour of Iraq, making optimistic statements about the success of the US occupation.

Mr Ban had just committed himself to praising Mr Maliki's "strong leadership" and added: "As we see the improved situation on the ground, I am considering an increase in the presence of the United Nations."
The UN pulled out of Iraq after a truck bomb exploded close to its Baghdad headquarters in August 2003, killing its chief envoy to the country, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 21 others.

It has apparently been a tactic of the insurgents to make sure that any potential foreign allies of the US or the Iraqi government are singled out for immediate attack. Presumably, Mr Ban will now think again about sending more UN personel to Baghdad....."

Fingerprints of history

Gamal Nkrumah and Mohamed El-Sayed gauge the state of the world's most troubled region -- the Middle East -- with eminent author Robert Fisk

Al-Ahram Weekly

"It is Pakistan, not Iran or Iraq, that serves as a true barometer for the future of the region, according to Robert Fisk, The Independent 's renowned Middle East correspondent. This thesis, though novel, is not to be taken lightly. It comes from a man who has lived in, studied and witnessed the region for the past three decades. And Pakistan, indeed, is a country in turmoil.....

For Fisk to single out Pakistan is an eye- opener, for the populous predominantly Muslim nation is not even considered by some to be part of the Middle East proper. Fisk's contention, however, is that the West is shy to focus on the main game, preferring instead to concentrate on sideshows such as Iran's nuclear ambitions, which Fisk reminds whoever listens were first encouraged and nurtured by the West.

"There is a country in the region that has lots of Taliban supporters, lots of Al-Qaeda supporters, whose capital city is in constant chaos and sectarian crisis, and it has got a [nuclear] bomb -- it's called Pakistan," Fisk told Al-Ahram Weekly. "But General Musharraf is our (the West's) friend. What will happen if Musharraf goes? Pakistan is one of the most fragile and dangerous areas," he ponders ominously. "However, we direct our attention to another country, Iran, just as we always do in the Middle East."....."

This is where Salam Al-Zubayi Lives; Notice the Concrete Blast Walls.

The Condition of Salam Al-Zubayi, Maliki's Deputy, is Unstable. He is in an American Hospital (in the Green Zone) after Being Seriously Injured in an Attack near the Green Zone.
But don't be Misled, Maliki is Still Asserting that the Security Situation in Iraq is Improving. Is it Going to be Maliki Himself Next?

Will Hezbollah Hand Israel Its 6th Defeat?

Another Civil War in Lebanon?


".....To know for sure, one would want to walk around the Gemezzeh neighborhood in east Beirut around 2 in the morning near the rebuilt Phalange Party HQ.where Baschir Gemeyal was blown up on September 14, 1982 and nose around a bit..

And what's that frenetic activity behind the Walid Jumblatt's estate at El Moukhtara in the Chouf.? It has increased since his long meeting with GW Bush a couple of weeks ago.

And those fine new military style boots and swagger one sees among some of Saad Hariri's March 14 movement young men. Armani or US Army or Israeli issue?.....

Sabra-Shatilla massacre participant Samir Geagea, now the leader of the Lebanese Forces Militia and recently feted in Washington DC, beats his chest and taunts Hezbollah's Secretary-General with threats like "Don't you dare think Hassan Nassrallah that Beirut is Haifa (referring to the July War) or else Lebanon is headed for the worst."

Some in the opposition dismiss the Siniora government as nothing more than 'an organized crime syndicate that wants to turn Lebanon into another Iraq,' as Talal Arslan, an anti-government Druze leader (breaking ranks with Jumblatt) recently roared. Many accuse the government of functioning as agents of Israel and the Bush administration and demand early elections and a greater share of government posts for the growing anti-government coalition.

Other observers are concluding that Israel and the Bush administration must foment a civil war in order not to 'lose' Lebanon and be driven from the region.

Pro-Israel "tink tanks" (Robert Fisk's label) argue that having created a disaster for both the US and Israel in Iraq and Afghanistan, and having failed miserably to destroy, much less seriously damage Hezbollah during the July War, both Olmert and Bush desperately need a Lebanese civil war.

Their reasoning is that if Bush and Olmert can provoke Hezbollah into turning its guns on Lebanese rivals, which it has never done and refuses to do,(Nasrallah recently declaring that "they can kill 1,000 of the opposition and we will still refuse to participate in a civil war") the US and Israel can invade, destroy the Lebanese resistance and set up another 'more sustainable' government, to borrow a pet term from Condoleezza Rice.....

Hezbollah has a habit to defeating Israel on the battle field and increasingly in political circles and they may just prevail in preventing a civil war....."

Coming Home to Roost

By Mike Luckovich

Video: Blowing Up a U.S. Tank in Ramadi

This is a detailed video of the destruction of a tank in Ramadi which was shown on Al-Jazeera, last week.

Click to Watch

Ban Ki-Moon in Baghdad
By Baha Boukhari

The Pelosi-crats and the War

Caught like a deer in the headlights

By Justin Raimondo

"The times, they sure are a changin.' Why, it seems like only yesterday – although it was December 16, 1998 – that Nancy Pelosi opined:

"As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."

Today, however, she's singing a different tune: "There was never anything in the intelligence that said Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States, never."

When Bush launched the war, both the Senate and House adopted resolutions ostensibly to "support the troops," but in reality endorsing the war, the bombing, and the policies of the Bush administration. The Senate voted 99-to-nothing for a resolution that "commends and supports the efforts and leadership of the President, as Commander in Chief, in the conflict against Iraq."......."

Flickers of Light

by William S. Lind

".......Two points of military theory are important here. First, a higher level dominates a lower. If you win on the tactical level but lose operationally, you lose. If you win on the tactical and operational levels but lose strategically – Germany's fate in both world wars – you still lose.

Second, in most wars, including Fourth Generation wars, success on higher levels is not merely additive. That is not to say, you cannot win operationally or strategically just by adding up tactical victories. We tried to do that in Vietnam, and the Second Generation U.S. military still does not understand why it didn't work. In Second Generation theory, it is supposed to work, which is why we are trying it again in Iraq and Afghanistan, and again not understanding why we are losing.

If we consider the operational and strategic situations in Iraq, we can easily see why no amount of tactical success can save us. Strategically, we are fighting to support a Shi’ite regime closely aligned with Iran, our most potent local opponent. Every tactical success merely moves us closer to giving Iran a new ally in the form of a restored Iraqi state under Shi’ite domination. The more tactical successes we win, the worse our strategic situation gets. This flows not from any tactical failure (though there have been plenty of those), but from botching the strategic level from the outset. Saddam's Iraq was the main regional counterweight to Iran, which means we should not have attacked it.

Operationally, we have been maneuvered by Iraq's Shi’ites into fighting their civil war for them, focusing our efforts against the Sunnis. As I have observed before, we are in effect the Shi’ites’ unpaid Hessians. That is why Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered his Mahdi Army not to fight us in Sadr City. It is not that he is afraid of us; he is simply making a rational operational decision.

Our only other apparent option is to take a more even hand and fight the Shi’ite militias as well as the Sunnis, which is what some in Washington want our forces to do. But that would make our operational situation even worse, because the Shi’ites lie across our lines of communication. If we get into a fight with them, they can cut off our supplies, leaving us effectively encircled – the essence of operational defeat......"

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Olmert: as expected

Israel is demanding the absurd, but the illusion is shattered if Arab states understand that the game of axis politics is not in their interest

By Azmi Bishara
Al-Ahram Weekly

"......It is difficult to say whether the Arabs recovered a margin of freedom because America messed up so drastically in Iraq and because they realised what a folly it was to heed Washington's orders once the Israeli army started to stumble so frantically over its shoelaces in Lebanon, or because, during the war in Lebanon in particular, they proved themselves no less hostile to the "extremists" in the region than the neo-cons, yet, at the same time, more realistic and certainly not as clouded by the dreams of spreading democracy and other facets of the ideological romanticism that governed the American neo-cons' view of Israel and its regional role. In all events, the result is the same: Washington has loosened the leash and Israel under Olmert is taking the so-called moderate Arabs more seriously than it did under Sharon.

Returning, therefore, to Olmert, why did he home in on Resolution 194, in particular, despite the fact that the Arab peace initiative -- regretfully -- does not explicitly mention the Palestinian right of return but rather confines itself to the formula of "a just peace in accordance with" this resolution? Why, too, did he not happen to remind us that he refuses to withdraw to pre- June 1967 borders, inclusive of Jerusalem? Certainly, he had made his position on this clear on earlier occasions, going so far as to accuse Ehud Barak of forsaking Jerusalem during Camp David II, even though Barak did nothing of the sort.

Firstly, Olmert likes to air his objections in instalments, so that he can wring out more concessions from the Arabs in a gradual way. Secondly, he didn't want to bring up the subject of withdrawal so as not to undermine the efforts of the "moderate Arab axis" before the Riyadh summit, especially since he knows that Saudi Arabia will not budge an inch on the question of borders and Jerusalem in particular. So, to spare the "moderates" any embarrassment, he confined his remarks to 194, because he rejects the Palestinian right of return on principle. But, supposing for the sake of argument, that the Arabs play along and openly or tacitly relinquish the right to return, would Israel then accept the Arab peace initiative? Of course not. And we should be wary of deluding ourselves into thinking it would. It would only be prepared to accept it as a basis for negotiations, which is to say that it would accept the principle of withdrawal and then haggle over the depth and phasing of the withdrawal and over final borders. In short, Israel will agree to no point whatsoever in the Arab peace initiative.

By accepting to consider this initiative, Israel hopes to transform it into a drawn out process of extracting compromises from the Arabs, just as it had turned its agreement to deal with the Palestine Liberation Organisation into a protracted process of forcing the Palestinians against the wall. In the past we could identify the major turning points in the downward slope of the Palestinian/Arab position with respect to Israel. Now it is difficult to discern even the nooks and crannies, so fluid and convoluted has this process of extraction become, what with all the play given to the "two sides" and "moderates and extremists on both sides", and with the endless biding of time until the Israeli elections are over, the next American elections, a new spate of envoys shuttling about the region, Palestinian elections triggering a blockade, another period of waiting to see how a people under occupation handled economic strangulation, and then whether or not they could form a national unity government and, if so, whether this might bring the end of the blockade or usher in yet another period of waiting......"

Peace-loving goose chase

Israel is railing that even the mild language of the Arab peace initiative must be replaced by its own demands

A Good Analysis

By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Ahram Weekly

".....Not that a war against Iran is no longer on the agenda; on the contrary, something will be done to confront the Iranian "threat". But one has to understand that Israel cannot possibly allow for a regional bully aside from itself to emerge.

It was this logic, as articulated by Richard Pearle in a set of recommendations made to then Likud leader Benyamin Netanyahu in the infamous "Clean Break" memo that envisaged the Iraq war as a strategic Israeli imperative. Iraq or Iran, Sunni or Shia, are all irrelevant semantics, in Israel's view. The failure, however, to "contain" Iran, coupled with America's disastrous war strategy in Iraq, which has given rise to powerful Shia groups with direct links, and in some cases allegiance, to Tehran is sending Israel's military and policy planners to the table, once more, to study their future options.....

The power of the Israeli lobby and the persisting influence of the neocons have reached new heights when Democratic leaders were obliged to strip from a military spending bill a requirement that the president must gain the approval of Congress before moving against Iran. Pelosi and others agreed to such a removal "after conservative Democrats as well as other lawmakers worried about its possible impact on Israel," reported ABC News.

With Iran in focus, coupled with serious worries amongst some Arab countries regarding its possible destabilising role in the region, Israel has agreed to a conditional arrangement: contain Iran to Israel's benefit; stabilise Iraq to the Bush administration's benefit; and introduce a new horizon of peace with the Palestinians to appease the Arabs.

The new horizon of peace -- a new term invoked by Condoleezza Rice in her recent visit to the region -- is basically the old "peace process": significant enough insofar as it yields a sense of hope, but clever enough in guaranteeing nothing, since Israel, assured of unprecedented clout in the corridors of power in Washington, will neither give up its grand plans of territorial expansion and annexation, halt its construction of the gigantic apartheid wall, nor surrender an inch of the illegally-annexed East Jerusalem -- all, predictably, key Arab and Palestinian demands.

Meanwhile, the Arab initiative always seemed vague on the issue of Palestinians made refugees by Israel in 1948 and 1967 and whose plight is as urgent as ever (especially considering their systematic targeting in Iraq, including 500 murdered to date, and Libya's decision to deport its cache of Palestinian refugees to Gaza, as callous as this seems). In order to remove any remaining ambiguity, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is "demanding that the leaders of the 22 Arab states excise the right of return from [the Palestinians]," reports Haaretz.

By crossing out the "controversial" elements contained in the Arab initiative and then opening it up for negotiations, Palestinians -- now browbeaten with a year of embargo and near starvation -- will be taken on another peace-loving goose chase, during which Israeli army bulldozers will hardly cease their determined colonial project. My fear is that Arabs will play along, willingly or not, and Palestinians will be forced to partake in the charade, for their reliance on international handouts for mere survival will make it impossible to defy US-Israeli regional designs forever."


'US wants Saudi peace plan amended'

"The United States has quietly joined Israel in urging Arab leaders to reformulate their 2002 peace offer, in an effort to end the decades-long Middle East conflict, Arab diplomats said Thursday. But so far, some Arab heavyweights are publicly resisting the idea.

Three Arab diplomats in different Arab capitals said Washington has been pressing for changes to make the offer in line with the "road map," a peace plan supported by the United States and other members of the so-called Quartet group. That plan calls for a two-state solution to the conflict but falls short of specifying border lines for the proposed Palestinian state.

The American ideas were presented through different diplomatic channels, said the Arab diplomats, all speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to talk to the press....."


Israel said, "Jump!" The U.S. said, "How high?"

Now the U.S. says, "Jump!" Next the Arab puppets (in their "summit") will ask, "How high?"

Finally, Saudi Arabia will say, "Jump!" and the Palestinian "leaders" will ask, "How high?"

But don't stop celebrating just yet, save some for Condoleezza when she arrives.

US struggles to avert Turkish intervention in northern Iraq

· Ankara claims Kurdish rebels preparing attacks
· Operations could wreck American peace strategy

Simon Tisdall in Ankara
Thursday March 22, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

"The US is scrambling to head off a "disastrous" Turkish military intervention in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq that threatens to derail the Baghdad security surge and open up a third front in the battle to save Iraq from disintegration.

Senior Bush administration officials have assured Turkey in recent days that US forces will increase efforts to root out Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK) guerrillas enjoying safe haven in the Qandil mountains, on the Iraq-Iran-Turkey border.

But Abdullah Gul, Turkey's foreign minister, MPs, military chiefs and diplomats say up to 3,800 PKK fighters are preparing for attacks in south-east Turkey — and Turkey is ready to hit back if the Americans fail to act. "We will do what we have to do, we will do what is necessary. Nothing is ruled out," Mr Gul said......

The firm Turkish belief that the US is playing a double game in northern Iraq. Officials say the CIA is covertly funding and arming the PKK's sister organisation, the Iran-based Kurdistan Free Life party, to destabilise the Iranian government.

US acquiescence in plans to hold a referendum in oil-rich Kirkuk in northern Iraq. Turkey suspects Iraqi Kurds are seeking control of Kirkuk as a prelude to the creation of an independent Kurdistan......

US support for Iranian Kurds opposed to the Tehran government is adding to the agitation. "The US is trying to undermine the Iran regime, using the Kurds like it is using the MEK [the anti-Tehran People's Mujahideen]," said Dr Logoglu. "Once you begin to differentiate between 'good' and 'bad' terrorist organisations, then you lose the war on terror." But he warned that military intervention might be ineffective and could be "disastrous" in destabilising the region....."

Bolton admits Lebanon truce block

A former top American diplomat says the US deliberately resisted calls for a immediate ceasefire during the conflict in Lebanon in the summer of 2006.


"Former ambassador to the UN John Bolton told the BBC that before any ceasefire Washington wanted Israel to eliminate Hezbollah's military capability.

Mr Bolton said an early ceasefire would have been "dangerous and misguided".

He said the US decided to join efforts to end the conflict only when it was clear Israel's campaign wasn't working.

The former envoy, who stepped down in December 2006, was interviewed for a BBC radio documentary, The Summer War in Lebanon, to be broadcast in April.

Mr Bolton said the US was deeply disappointed at Israel's failure to remove the threat from Hezbollah and the subsequent lack of any attempt to disarm its forces.

Britain joined the US in refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire.

Mr Bolton now describes it as "perfectly legitimate... and good politics" for the Israelis to seek to defeat their enemy militarily, especially as Hezbollah had attacked Israel first and it was acting "in its own self-defence".

Mr Bolton, a controversial and blunt-speaking figure, said he was "damned proud of what we did" to prevent an early ceasefire.

Also in the BBC programme, several key players claim that, privately, there were Arab leaders who also wanted Israel to destroy Hezbollah.

"There were many not - how should I put it - resistant to the thought that the Israelis should thoroughly defeat Hezbollah, who... increasingly by Arab states were seen as an Iranian proxy," said UN special envoy Terje Roed Larsen....."

"Happy" Fourth Anniversary, by Latuff

So, What’s Iraq Actually About Now?

By Tony Karon

"Four years into the Iraq war — “hard to believe,” eh, Mr Wolfowitz? — don’t expect the U.S. media to dwell on the conceptual foundations of this catastrophe. That may be because the media was rather complicit in laying those foundations. But the more interesting question, today, I think, is where the Iraq adventure is going, because its narratives have clearly unraveled, and its strategic purpose — in the sense of attainable goals rather than fantasies — is now far from clear. To be sure, today, Washington is clear only on what it wants to prevent in Iraq, and even then its chances of doing so are slim. Still, as Bush says, that doesn’t mean it can withdraw.

It’s worth noting, in passing, that the decision making structures in the United States are fundamentally dysfunctional to its imperial project — its system of government is democratic (in a plutocratic sort of way), and distributes its flow of information and decision making across a number of bureaucratic command centers that are seldom on quite the same page, and compete for authority and resources — a competition that occurs partly in the public eye, via “leaks” to the media, whose source is invariably the bureaucratic rivals of those who are made to look bad by the story. The executive decision makers are always vulnerable to the limited appetite of the electorate for costly imperial adventures, and the electorate gets to express its impatience every two years by using the ballot box to limit the authority of those directing the current imperial expedition.

The patience of the enemy out in the field, meanwhile, is invariably far deeper than that allowed by U.S. election cycles. Ho Chi Minh knew that; so do the Iraqi insurgents and the Shiites and the Iranians, and the Palestinians and Syrians and everybody else Washington is fighting. The Iraqis are intimately aware of the debate in Washington over withdrawal, and they know that despite the surge of troops, the U.S. will in the near future be forced by domestic pressure to withdraw most of its infantry from Iraqi streets. (No wonder frustrated hawks like Max Boot and Michael O’Hanlon are suggesting that the U.S. military begin outsourcing expeditionary warfare to the satrapies, offering green cards for four years service — just as the British wherever possible sent Indians or Ghurkas to do their fighting.) But even that won’t overcome the bureaucratic internecine warfare. Ask a question as simple as “How could the U.S. occupy Iraq without having a coherent plan?” and the answer is simple: There was a plan, but it was trashed because it had been developed in the State Department, whose personnel hadn’t drunk the Kool Aid of permanent revolution in the Middle East, and therefore couldn’t be trusted. While the neocons might have believed their fantasies about Iraq tranforming itself immediately into a willing and happy satrap of the U.S., the likes of Cheney and Rumsfeld had no inclination to back a long occupation. So, Paul Bremer was sent in without a clue, armed with some old manuals from the occupation of Germany in 1945 (no jokes!) and a civil administration recruited largely from the intern echelon of neocon think-tanks. (Again, no jokes!)....."

Video: Israeli Border Guard policemen filmed beating Palestinian youth

(VIDEO) Israeli policemen caught on camera abusing 17-year-old Hawara teen who was on his way home from school. Local residents say life in village has become nightmare due to Border Guard violence. Border Guard chief says incident will be investigated

"VIDEO - Border Guard policemen were caught on camera beating a 17-year-old Palestinian youth at the West Bank village of Hawara, near Nablus Wednesday. The incident was documented by one of the local residents.....

The youth, Hindawi Qawarik, told Ynet that at about 12:30 pm Wednesday, he and his friends were leaving school when they noticed a Border Guard jeep not far from them.

"I told my friends that if we pass near them, they'll hit us like they did a few weeks ago," he said.

The policemen approached the youths and questioned them regarding a stone-throwing incident that took place earlier. They then decided to detain three of the teens for further questioning.

Hindawi was one of those three. "I pretended not to hear them and kept walking, because I could still remember the beating I got last week. But one cop chased me. When I saw that he was after me I halted. He dragged me back to the direction of the jeep, and when we got there he pushed me and pinned me to the wall, so that no one will be able to see what they were doing to me."

At this point, according to Hindawi, the violence began. "Two of the policemen started hitting me in the legs with a rifle, punching me, slamming my head against the door of a nearby container, pushing me to the floor and hitting me in the head.

"I kept screaming: I haven't done anything, you can check my ID." Hindawi said that one of the policemen tried to persuade the others to stop, "but they just ignored him and kept on hitting me."

According to the teen, one of the policemen also took books out of his school bag and tore some of them apart. Then they released him, not before "a few more slaps and punches." Hindawi's account has been verified by an eyewitness.

'Our lives have become a nightmare'

Hindawi told Ynet that the police violence has already become a daily routine in the village. "We already got used to the beatings, but it makes it very hard for us to study… very often we miss the first two classes of the day because they detain us, humiliate and hit us."

Other Hawara residents told Ynet that soldiers and policemen, mostly Border Guard policemen, have turned their lives into a nightmare. "Once every few days the policemen and the soldiers declare a curfew in the village, claiming that Border Guard jeeps have been stoned," they said.

One of the residents said that in addition to the violence, the policemen harass the village girls, a thing that causes "severe social problems within the Palestinian families and social and psychological problems for the girls, who are forced to handle curses that are unacceptable in our society."....."

Blast disturbs UN head's Iraq visit

Ban Ki-Moon took cover behind the podium
at the sound of the explosion [Reuters]

"The United Nations secretary-general has been shocked by a huge explosion in Baghdad's secure Green Zone during an unannounced visit to Iraq.

Ban Ki-Moon was unharmed when a suspected rocket landed outside the office of Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister, during a joint news conference on Thursday.

Small pieces of debris could be seen falling from the ceiling above Ban before the two men resumed the news conference.

The UN chief was making his first visit to Iraq since since taking office in January, to discuss a five-year reconstruction plan for the country announced last week.

Shortly before the explosion, al-Maliki had said that Ban's visit was a sign that Iraq was on the road to stability.

"We consider it [the visit] a positive message to world in which you [Ban] confirm that Baghdad has returned to playing host to important world figures because it has made huge strides on the road toward stability," the prime minister said.

'Secure future'

Ban had told reporters: "I'm confident that we'll be able to see, in the near future, a more prosperous and secure ... and a healthier future of the Iraqi people and government.".....

Palestinian refugees in Iraq accuse Maliki government of defaming their image

"BAGHDAD, (PIC)-- Palestinian refugees in Iraq have accused the government of Iraqi premier Nuri Al-Maliki of intentionally defaming their image and attempting to instigate the Iraqi people against them.

During an interview with the Quds Press news agency, the refugees affirmed that the Iraqi government’s allegations of arresting Palestinian citizen Abu Kutada and identifying him as the second man in Al-Qaeda group in Iraq was meant to incite the Iraqi people against the refugees.

“It is true that Abu Katada is a Palestinian and it is true that he was arrested at the hands of the Iraqi police, but he absolutely has no connection whatsoever with Al-Qaeda group”, the refugees asserted.

Kasim Al-Mosawi, the spokesman of US-initiated “Baghdad security plan” claimed that Abu Kutada is a pure Palestinian citizen and that he was the right-hand-man of Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq Abu Ayyob Al-Masri.

The refugees viewed such an instigation campaign as part of the government’s programmed plan to force the refugees out of Iraq.

Few days ago, large numbers of Iraqi and American troops unleashed a wide-scale incursion into the Palestinian refugee complex in the Baladeyyat suburb, east of the capital Baghdad, the biggest gathering of Palestinian refugees in Iraq, killing an Imam (Muslim leader) and arresting tens others.

Many Palestinian homes were ransacked in the raid and valuable properties were stolen by the invaders, residents in the complex confirmed.

More than 140 Palestinian refugees were killed and scores others were arrested and tortured at the hands of the American, American-sanctioned Iraqi sectarian militias, and Iraqi government troops since Baghdad fell under the US occupation in 2003.

As a result, tens of Palestinian families fled that war-torn country on fears for their lives, yet, neighboring Arab countries denied them entry, leaving them stranded in tents at the international borders."

Palestinians reject Quartet demands

Two Drivers Looking for a "Road Map."
Keep Looking, and Looking....

".....The Quartet's statement "reflects an evolution of its positions, [but] this remains insufficient," Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman the Palestinian presidency, said on Thursday.

"We have to work immediately toward the application of the roadmap and the Arab peace initiative."......"


Keep that opium of "peace talks" flowing now that Hamas is a full partner; Condoleezza is bringing a fresh supply. Enjoy!

After 4 years: Iraqi Resistance Indicators..Up and Up . Rumsfeld's Metrics..Wet.

From Imad Khadduri's Blog, Free Iraq

"The following graphs show the steady progress of the Iraqi resistance over the four years of occupation. They are extracted from the Iraq Index (pp 23 and 24) and updated on 19th March 2007.

The first graph shows that the average number of attacks have more than doubled in the last year to about 185 per day. That is 1300 per week, and over 5500 attacks per month. Another way of understanding this is that in any one hour, day and night, there are 7-8 new mortar attack, IED, sniper fire, etc. The figures are based on variety of official and semi-official US sources and estimates. The inclusion of ‘Militias’ in the title of the graph is recent, and seems linked to the evolving political vocabulary by the US. In the light of the two other items. Militia can be understood to refer to local vigilantes that are largely part of the resistance.

The second graph shows that 75% of the recorded attacks,(here based on the quarterly reviews to congress only) has remained directed at the occupation forces directly, and further 17% at the Iraqi government forces. The remaining, 8% are directed at unspecified civilian targets. It is the later that makes it to the media.
The official Iraqi government security forces numbers have been steadily rising and now stand at about 330 000. They often act as forward or guard units for the occupation forces. It is not known what proportion of the attacks on "civilians" who are in fact mercenaries who operate in civilian clothes and are often based in civilian areas. The official US estimates is of 100,000 private contractors in Iraq. Other civilian targets may be Facility Protection Forces, whose number is estimated by the government at 150 000, or at real civilians. Word on the Iraqi street is that attacks on real civilians are the work of occupation agents, a version of events that is at least as credible as the mad fanatics attacking each other.

The third figure gives the geographic distribution of the resistance attacks. There are small shifts in pattern over time, but the frequent clashes in most southern provinces seem not to be included. This may indicate that the figures used refer only to resistance actions. It must be noted that the 800 km supply route from Kuwait to Baghdad through several southern provinces is the most heavily protected one in the world, with massive funds paid to contractors, ‘tribes’ and local militias.

The Iraq Index is produced by the Washington-based Brookings Institutions. It comes in 54 pages of tables, graphs and footnotes in PDF format, half of which on security indicators.

The index has been updated weekly over the last four years, in whatever section new data become available. The authors are Michael E. O’Hanlon and Jason H. Campbell......."

30 Killed, 33 Freed in Company-sized Assault on Prison

By Juan Cole

"Early in the morning on Thursday, before dawn, some 200 Sunni Arab guerrillas in Muqdadiya (Diyala Province) stormed a jail and freed 33 prisoners, many of them guerrillas. I can't think of another recent operation that involved a company-sized fighting force. Thirty persons died in the fighting. One wire service reported, "Insurgents battled Iraqi and US reinforcements, set fire to the police station, courthouse and 20 police vehicles before making their escape." If they accomplished all that after US reinforcements arrived, imagine what they could have accomplished if no US and Iraqi troops had come out to confront them.

Part of the explanation for why this could happen lies in a recent report on the readiness of Iraqi troops. The Iraqi military won't be ready to 'stand up' any time soon, according to the General Accounting Office. A third of Iraqi troops are on leave at any one time. Many troops on the books who draw a salary don't really exist and are just a scam. And, the Iraqi troops are deeply dependent on the US for the simplest logistics."

Iraq After 4 Years of U.S. Occupation

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" - Doc Traces Path to Torture of Prisoners at Infamous Iraqi Prison

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

""The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" - a new HBO documentary - traces the political and legal precedents that led to the torture of prisoners at the infamous Iraqi prison. It includes numerous interviews with U.S. soldiers directly involved with torture at Abu Ghraib, Iraqi torture survivors as well as experts, legal scholars and former government officials. We speak with acclaimed filmmaker Rory Kennedy.....

Another memo sought by Gonzales provided a narrow definition of torture so as to allow very severe interrogation techniques.

John Yoo, a former Justice Department official at the Office of Legal Counsel: "Our office eventually issued a memo in August of 2002 to the White House. 'Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death.'

That was an excerpt from the HBO documentary "The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib." The film traces the political and legal precedents that led to the torture of prisoners at the infamous Iraqi prison. It includes numerous interviews with American soldiers directly involved with torture at Abu Ghraib......

AMY GOODMAN: You had quite a showing on Capitol Hill, when you had both Janis Karpinski there, who was demoted, and also the South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Talk about what happened.

RORY KENNEDY: Well, we did have a screening. And Senator Kennedy was there, as well. There was a panel.

AMY GOODMAN: Your uncle.

RORY KENNEDY: Yes. Senator Kennedy and Senator Graham, and Senator Graham had -- when he was asked by Jeffrey Toobin, who was moderating the panel, “Who was really responsible for what happened at Abu Ghraib?” he, you know, mentioned a number of different organizations and kind of groups of people, but the person that he really targeted was Janis Karpinski. Unfortunately, Janis Karpinski -- he didn’t realize that Janis Karpinski was in the audience, because he had arrived a little late. And so, Jeffrey Toobin then gave her an opportunity to defend herself, and she really went in on the attack. One of the things that he had said was, you know, she should have been court-martialed, and she rebutted, “You know, I wanted to be court-martialed. I wanted to go to court, but nobody would let me, because they didn’t want me to tell the whole story of really what happened.” So it got pretty heated.

AMY GOODMAN: She called Senator Graham a coward.

RORY KENNEDY: She did, she did. And, you know, he stood his ground, but it was -- you know, I think it’s telling. I think this continues to be an issue that touches a lot of people and brings a lot of issues to the surface. It’s an important issue.....

AMY GOODMAN: Let's end with the prisoners, the people who were tortured. How did you track them down?

RORY KENNEDY: I worked with a group in Philadelphia, a legal group, Susan Burke, who was representing a number of the prisoners in a class-action suit against independent contractors. And she ultimately was able to put me in touch with a number of the prisoners who were willing to speak with us on camera. And they were not willing to be filmed in Iraq, because they felt the situation there was too precarious, too dangerous, so we ended up flying them to Jordan and filming them there.

And, you know, I think that they offer a dimension to the film that is really important and a dimension to this story, because we’ve seen the photographs, but we haven’t really heard the voices of those who were most directly involved. And it really made me feel, in talking with them and interviewing them that the photographs were just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the level of abuse, the constancy of it, and the degrading nature of it and the horror of it, really. They were so dignified in their telling of these horrific events and, I think, so courageous in their willingness to even speak with me. And I think their voices are essential. And as, you know, we know that in this war in Iraq, in general, we really haven't heard from the Iraqis, right? We’ve heard a lot of people talking about the Iraqis, but we haven’t heard from them directly. And so, it was important to me in this film to hear from the people who are most directly involved.....

ANY GOODMAN: The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib is chilling, it is unforgettable, and unfortunately it is all too real.

RORY KENNEDY: Yes, and it’s on HBO for the rest of the month, so I hope people will tune in......"

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