Saturday, March 22, 2008

German Intelligence Was 'Dishonest, Unprofessional and Irresponsible'


SPIEGEL INTERVIEW WITH IRAQ WMD SLEUTH DAVID KAY

"David Kay was charged by the Bush administration with finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after the invasion. Instead of finding weapons, though, he found what he told SPIEGEL was 'the biggest intelligence fiasco of my lifetime.'.... "

Ben Heine, Master of the Art of Resistance


By KATHLYN STONE
CounterPunch

"Brussels, Belgium artist-activist Ben Heine makes powerful criticism through cartoons and illustrations. His work protesting imperialism and other human rights violations has an international following. The prolific and timely drawings range from dark and tough to sweet and tender. Artists in at least a half dozen countries have now dra wn cartoons of him.

Heine's work, particularly that relating to the crisis in Gaza, came under the notice of thousands of U.S. bloggers last year after his diaries, along with a handful of others, were banned from Daily Kos for their pro-Palestinian slant. In a reaction that's become familiar, site members equated sympathy for Palestinians with being anti-Israel, or even anti-Jew, and Heine and others were given the boot.

On the bright side, the flap gave him a wider U.S. audience and solidified the radical artist's resolve. He is part of a fascinating brotherhood and sisterhood of journalists and artists that are networking all over the globe and fighting wars and imperialsm their way.

Interviewed recently by phone, Heine talked about why he chose to get involved in the Palestinian struggle and who inspires him.....

A lot of your illustrations depict what is going on in Gaza. What led you to get involved in the Israel--Palestine issue?

Illustrations are a great way for activists to communicate information and help complete the purpose of an article. It's the way I choose to make people think and maybe change their behavior. Sometimes it works.

I focus especially on Palestine and Israel because I think it's one of the most important issues nowadays. I mean, several people die every week there, mostly Palestinians. I was really shocked by this a long time ago and decided to do something with my art.

Each time Israel attacks Palestine, I try to bring out a new drawing. I try to be fair and to bring the truth to people's eyes and also respect the ideas of writers who also want to convey the facts and the reality. The reality is that people are being oppressed by another people. Yes, I think that's one of the reasons I draw for Palestine......."

Latuff's Iraq War cartoons available for download NOW!

"Download for free a zip file containing 252 high-resolution artworks (cartoons, photomontages, comics) produced by me on the eve of the Iraq War in 2002, until March 20th, 2008. All the artworks can be freely reproduced, without my formal permission.

http://depositfiles.com/en/files/4264302

This is a TEMPORARY link, so HURRY UP! Once saved to your computer, share it with people. Upload it on different servers, make it available on websites and file sharing clients, save it to CD, make copies and distribute. Make these cartoons to reach people with no access to Internet.

Thanks in advance for all of your continuous support....."

Trapped in no man's land


James Denselow, The Electronic Intifada, 21 March 2008
( James Denselow is the communications officer for Medical Aid for Palestinians a UK-based charity that works for the health of Palestinians -- especially in conditions of occupation, displacement or exile -- based on principles of self-determination and social justice)

"In 2006, as Iraq descended into new depths of civil conflict, 350 Palestinian refugees were driven out of Baghdad by targeted violence. They arrived in the desert no man's land between the Iraqi and Syrian border crossings at al-Tanf. The Syrian authorities denied the Palestinians access into Syria, while also preventing any more Palestinians arriving into the no man's land. The worsening violence in Iraq, however, saw the continuing arrival of Palestinian refugees at the border. An estimated 1,740 refugees are now stuck in al-Waleed camp on the Iraqi side. In addition, towards the end of 2007 about 350 Palestinians who previously entered Syria with Iraqi passports were relocated to al-Tanf camp. The number of refugees in al-Tanf has now increased to an estimated 720, 500 of whom are women and children.

For many of the refugees, the trigger for their attempt to leave Iraq was the extreme violence they had suffered. Bereft of a militia to protect their minority status, middle class Palestinians have been frequent targets of brutal kidnapping and ransom attempts. Tisar Abdel Fadi, a forty-year old mother of three, left Baghdad for al-Tanf following her husband's kidnapping. Taken from a hospital, he was subsequently tortured and killed...."

See no evil: Canadian government denies torture in Israel

Jesse Rosenfeld, The Electronic Intifada, 21 March 2008

""The Israelis tied my hands, blindfolded and then beat me all the way to the interrogation center. I was then cuffed to a chair for four days where interrogators prevented me from sleeping. I was tied in painful stress positions, and on one occasion the agents grabbed me while I was cuffed to the chair and shook me severely, I passed out when they started shaking me by the head," says "Samer" a former student activist at Birzeit University who was arrested in 2006.

Nonetheless, this isn't torture according to Canadian foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier and the Harper government. After it was exposed that Canada had Israel and the United States listed as offenders in a training manual for diplomats about torture, the two countries were promptly dropped on 19 January with Bernier's expression of regret and embarrassment......"

A Mirror on Israel

By Ilan Pappe
and Ayelet Negev

"Last summer, the Pappe family packed its belongings, rented out its spacious house in Israel and moved to Britain. Ever since his support of an academic boycott on Israel's universities became public, historian Ilan Pappe, 54, has felt like public enemy number one. Pappe says he had received death threats by phone almost on a daily basis......

Claims of ethnic cleansing

In an article published in the Israeli Mita'am Review for Literature and Radical Thought this week, titled "On the destruction of the Palestinian cities, spring 1948," Pappe maintains that the claim that the Arab residents fled or left their homes willingly during the war is false, and that a policy of "cleansing" the area from Arabs was employed as part of a plan to establish a Jewish-only state.

Pappe made similar claims in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, which was published in England in 2006, in which he also presented testimonies of alleged massacres of Palestinians by Jewish soldiers.

These claims have been contested by many historians in Israel and abroad. Dr. Mordechai Bar-On, a research fellow at the Yad Ben-Zvi Institute and a former MK, calls Pappe "a propagandist, not a historian." Bar-On said that "the term ethnic cleansing is a vicious one, because it has never been used prior to the wars in former Yugoslavia. Indeed, there were places where Arab were expelled… but to say that there was an evil plan since the inception of Zionism for a forceful transfer – this is simply wrong and vicious."

However, Pappe insists that allowing the Palestinian refugees to return to Israel is the only thing that could secure peace in the region.

Would you be willing to vacate your home when they return to what used to be their villages near your house in Tivon?

"After years of working with refugees around the world and attending conferences on the right of return, I believe that no such notion exists on the Palestinian side. They want to return while understanding that they will live alongside the Jews. They don't want to expel anyone. What turned me into a great lover of the Palestinians is the will of many among them to share the land with us. Even people in Hamas.

"The reason most of my friends in the territories voted for Hamas wasn't because they didn't want to share the land with the Israelis, but because they thought Hamas would be more effective in the struggle against the occupation."......"

Republicans Plan Double-Whammy


by Michael Carmichael

Global Research, March 21, 2008

"....While that scenario is bad enough, it does, indeed, get worse. Much worse, as a matter of fact. A sagacious retired US military professional, Captain Eric May, has warned that a false-flag attack could trigger public panic and mobilize massive political backing for the next phase of neocon belligerence. Thanks to Seymour Hersh and others, we know that the next phase of neocon expansion of conflict is their well-planned launch of the Iran War.....

That is the “Double Whammy” now enthralling top-level Republican strategists – a counterfeit attack on US soil (a typical false-flag operation modeled on Hitler’s burning of the Reichstag) followed swiftly by a shock and awe bombing campaign against Iran. At this point, there is no Democratic response on the drawing boards for such a crisis. It is obvious that the presidential nominee should lead the protest to expand the war. But, what will he or she do if there is a traumatic false-flag operation as Captain May proposes?....."

Guardian Video: 80,000 Angry Men. Is the US Surge collapsing?


"Iraqis employed by the US to take on al-Qaida are threatening to strike

Friday March 21st, 2008

An investigation carried out by GuardianFilms for Channel 4 uncovers how thousands of Iraqis employed at $10 a day by the US to take on al-Qaida are threatening to go on strike because they say they have been used by the 'Americans to do their dirty work' and haven't been paid."

Bush Blisters the Truth on Iraq

Worth the Sacrifice?

By RALPH NADER
CounterPunch

"....At the same time, his V.P. his Prince Regent, Dick Cheney was having this exchange with ABC's Martha Raddatz:

Raddatz: "Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting, and they're looking at the value gain versus the cost in American lives, certainly, and Iraqi lives."

Cheney: "So?"

Raddatz: "So ­ you don't care what the American people think?"

Cheney: "No," who then inaccurately wrapped Abraham Lincoln's stand during the Civil War around his relentless illegal warmongering in Iraq....

Unlike before or during any other war in our nation's history, hundreds of former high military, national security-intelligence and diplomatic officials have spoken, written, testified and some even marched against Bush's tragic folly ­ before and after the March 2003 invasion.

These retired public servants include generals and anti-terrorism specialists who worked inside the Bush Administration. Taken as a whole, were they to aggregate their standing and influence before the American people by banding together as a group, their cumulative impact on Congress, on galvanizing and focusing public opinion during this election year could well turn this deteriorating situation around......"

The Pharaoh is Operating Gas Chambers For Zion?


Body of Palestinian pulled from collapsed Egypt-Gaza tunnel

"The body of a 29-year Palestinian was pulled out from a collapsed smuggling tunnel between Gaza and Egypt on Saturday, hospital officials said.....

The Hamas official accused Egyptian security forces of spraying a long-acting poisonous gas in the tunnel that collapsed Friday to smother smugglers.

But an Egyptian border security official said this was nonsense, adding that the mouth of the 700-meter-long tunnel was destroyed using explosives several days ago.

"Most likely, the smoke that has resulted from this choked the smugglers as they tried to reopen the tunnel," the Egyptian official said, speaking under customary condition of anonymity.

Hospital workers in Gaza confirmed the smugglers were being treated for gas inhalation, but could not say what kind....."

Zion Outsourcing Torture of Palestinians to the Pharaoh


Palestinians 'Tortured' in Egypt

"Palestinians who were detained in Egypt after crossing from the Gaza Strip accused Friday, March 21, Egyptian security forces of torturing and abusing them to get tips on the resistance movement Hamas and its armed wing.

"We were beaten, kicked and electrified, to mention but a few examples," Saber Al-Dremli told IslamOnline.net.......

Al-Dremil charged that Egyptian security services threw Palestinians in tiny cells without water or toilets. "For three days we did not pray because we did not have clean water and then we resorted to tayamom (symbolic washing without water)."

Bassam Salah, a policeman in Hamas forces, mentioned the names of Palestinians, who were tortured by Egyptian forces to extract information about Hamas. The screams of a fellow Palestinian called Sulaiman Abu Garaz still resonate in his ears. "Abu Garaz was also electrocuted by Egyptian interrogators, who thought that he was a Hamas member, but he was actually a Fatah loyalist," said Salah.

Hamas formally accused Egypt on Thursday, March 20, of torturing its detained members.

Hamas leader Said Siam said that he had "reliable information" that among those being held were "certain heads of the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades (the armed branch of Hamas) who have been subjected to the most extreme torture".

Nearly 36 Palestinians, most of whom are Hamas members, are still in the Egyptian custody. They staged earlier this week a hunger strike in protest at the torture and maltreatment in Egyptian prisons.

Egyptian interrogators grilled Palestinians to know the movements of Hamas leader and Prime Minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh. "They gave me a hard time indeed to know everything about Mr Haniyeh," said Al-Dremli, one of Haniyeh's companions. "Egyptian interrogators considered me a big fish." "They asked me frequent questions about Haniyeh like his hideouts when he faces an Israeli threat, the names of his close aides and their cell numbers."

Dremli said Egyptian security officers were interested to know everything about the military wing of Hamas like their guerrilla tactics, weapons and whereabouts.

"Is the leader of Hamas' armed wing Mohamed Deif among those regularly meeting Haniyeh? What were Haniyeh's orders to Hamas' armed wing and what is the nature of his differences with (senior Hamas leader) Mahmoud Al-Zahhar?" Dremil listed some of the questions.

"They also asked me about the whereabouts of (captured Israeli soldier) Gilad Shalit."

Salah, the Hamas policeman, spoke of a revolving nightmare when he and his friends were interrogated about Hamas. "Egyptian security forces were mobilized against Hamas. They harbored extreme hatred against Hamas members," he said.

Only 10 years of age, Jamil Obeid was the youngest Palestinian to be detained by Egyptian security forces after crossing into Egypt with his father. The Gazan child was thrown into a dingy cell with eight people for ten days in freezing temperature. Jamil recalls with bitterness how prisoners used to urinate in bottles and had one meal a day. Jamil himself was neither tortured nor interrogated but he says he used to hear the deafening cries and screams of fellow Palestinians being tortured next door. "I saw signs of torture on the bodies of those returning to the cell after interrogation."

Photos of Jamil prostrating himself when he returned to Gaza to thank God have become widely circulated on blogs and the Web. "At this moment," he recalls. "I had only one thing in my mind: I would never again come to Egypt.""

McCain's Gaffes Reflect Bush's Iran-al-Qaeda Myth

By Gareth Porter

"......During a press conference in Jordan Tuesday, McCain brought up the charge that Iran was training al-Qaeda operatives and sending them to Iraq, then corrected himself after Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat from Connecticut, whispered in his ear. It was the fourth time in a little over three weeks, however, that McCain had made the same charge.

McCain's confusion has been widely characterized as demonstrating his inability to distinguish Sunni al-Qaeda from Shi'ite Mahdi Army. But more fundamentally, McCain's gaffes were a reflection of how thoroughly he had internalized a favorite theme of the Bush administration and neoconservatives – that Iran has tolerated and even covertly assisted al-Qaeda agents operating inside Iran.

Those administration charges have continued despite the repeated release of information by Iran and other countries about its arrest, detention and repatriation of al-Qaeda suspects.

That charge has been given credence by mainstream news media for years......."

The Triumph of Death



(Click on cartoon to enlarge)
By Dave Brown, The Independent

عاجل: الرئيس يقلد فتوح وسام نوكيا من الجيل الثالث لجهوده في تطوير تهريب الاجهزة السلكية واللاسلكية

تهريب هواتف خليوية في سيارة مستشار عباس تتحول الي حادثة للتندر بين الفلسطينيين

"رام الله ـ القدس العربي ـ من وليد عوض:
استلم المئات بل الالآف من المواطنين الفلسطينيين خلال الايام الماضية رسائل قصيرة علي هواتفهم الخليوية تتندر علي رئيس المجلس التشريعي السابق روحي فتوح علي خلفية سحب اسرائيل بطاقة الـ vip منه بعد ضبط الشرطة الاسرائيلية الفي جهاز هاتف نقال في سيارته التي كانت عائدة من الاردن للاراضي الفلسطينية ليل الاربعاء الماضي.
وسارع الكثير من المواطنين الفلسطينيين الي فتح رسائلهم النصية عندما قرأوا خبر عاجل علي شاشة هواتفهم، الا ان المفاجأة التي اثارت ضحك الكثير منهم كانت عندما قرأوا عاجل: الرئيس محمود عباس يقلد فتوح وسام نوكيا من الجيل الثالث لجهوده في تطوير تهريب الاجهزة السلكية واللاسلكية .
ويتواصل الحديث في الشارع الفلسطيني حول قضية محاولة تهريب هواتف خليوية في سيارة فتوح الذي اشتكي لمصادر مقربة منه انه علي يقين بأن الذي حصل هو مؤامرة احيكت ضده بشكل محكم
....
....
وتلك الرواية التي صدرت في بيان رسمي عن مكتب فتوح لم تشفع للاخير من تحوله لمحطة للتندر واطلاق النكات في الاوساط الشعبية الفلسطينية حيث يتبادل الفلسطينيون الرسائل القصيرة علي هواتفهم الخليوية مثل محلات فتوح للاكسسوارات والهواتف الخليوية تدعوكم لاغتنام الفرصة وحجز هاتف خليوي بدون جمرك .
وقالت رسالة جوال أخري الناطق باسم حركة فتح جمال نزال يعلن أن جوالات فتوح كانت مخصصة لعناصر كتائب الأقصي، وأن السائق الذي جري اكتشاف أنه من حركة حماس أفشل المخطط .
ورسالة اخري تقول مرسوم رئاسي بمنح السيد روحي فتوح وسام نوكيا مع مرتبة الشرف ، وثالثة تقول تعلن محلات فتوح فون عن وصول أحدث أجهزة الجوالات من الأردن (بيع ـ شراء ـ تبديل مع توفر خدمة نقل الجوالات من والي الأردن عبر خدمة
(v.i.p)
، ورابعة تحمل عنوان فرصة العمر: اشتر جوالا من نوع فتوح وشارك في السحب علي سيارة مصفحة بربع مليون دولار أمريكي ، وذلك في اشارة الي القضية التي اثيرت حين كان يتولي منصب رئيس السلطة حيث تم نشر خبر صحافي يؤكد اعتزامه في حينه شراء سيارة مصفحة بربع مليون دولار في حين كانت خزينة السلطة خاوية مما اثار ضجة في الاوساط الفلسطينية آنذاك
.
وتسود قضية تهريب الهواتف الخليوية في سيارة فتوح معظم المجالس الفلسطينية ما بين حاسب لقيمة المرابح التي كان يمكن تحقيقها لو تم تهريبها للاراضي الفلسطينية ومتهكم علي ان تلك الارباح تستحق تلك المغامرة.
وفي ظل تفاعل تلك القضية في الاوساط الفلسطينية طالب فهمي الزعارير المتحدث باسم حركة فتح بوقف التعرض الشخصي للمسؤولين، ووقف التعدي والتشهير والقدح بحق رئيس المجلس التشريعي السابق روحي فتوح الذي تولي رئاسة السلطة لمدة 60 يوما عقب وفاة الرئيس الفلسطيني الراحل ياسر عرفات.
.....
..."

This War Criminal (the one on the left) is Honored Only in Saudi Arabia.....
What Does That Make King Abdullah?

Friday, March 21, 2008

New! Your Chance to Interview Prominent Writers and Thinkers


An Interview With Dr. Khalil Nakhleh

I am going to try an idea which I am borrowing from my friend, VS. The idea is to give our readers an opportunity to interview some of the best writers, thinkers and intellectuals featured on this blog. You can participate in these interviews by submitting questions to our guests which I will compile and email to them. I will act as a moderator to facilitate any follow up questions and/or comments.

To start this series I have asked Dr. Khalil Nakhleh and he graciously agreed to an interview by email. Dr. Nakhleh is a Palestinian anthropologist, independent development and educational consultant and writer. His latest two books are: The Myth of Palestinian Development (2004), and (co-authored with Tafeeda Jirbawi) Empowering Future Generations (2008). He is the editor of a forthcoming book, The Future of the Palestinian Minority in Israel. Dr. Nakhleh resides in Ramallah, occupied West Bank.

He has an excellent piece in Counterpunch published today titled, "Al Nakba of 1948" which I posted below (scroll down four posts).

Preferably after reading his piece, I would appreciate having questions posed to Dr. Nakhleh in the comment section of this post or of the piece itself. I will compile the questions and add some of my own and email them to Dr. Nakhleh.

I promise you an informative and very interesting interview.

Israel's historic option


In the first of three instalments, Azmi Bishara outlines the gradual reduction of an Arab Palestinian cause into the cause of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza

Al-Ahram Weekly

"Events in the last few years suggest a qualitative change in the Palestinian cause at the regional level. No analyst or observer could fail to miss the resemblance between the current "Arab-Israeli" regional context and that of the crusader states that appeared in the Arab region in the Middle Ages.

Israel has no intention of concluding a just peace with the Arab and Palestinian peoples. By a just peace I mean one of two possible solutions. The first is the one-state solution in which Jews and Arabs would co-exist within a democratic secular state that would assimilate naturally into the region. The second is a two-state solution that guarantees the right of return of Palestinian refugees. But Israel has opted for a third course, one the Arabs have had no hand in pushing. Its model is the crusader state......"

Al-Arian Enters 19th Day of Hunger Strike in Protest of “Government Harassment”


Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman


"JUAN GONZALEZ: Jailed Palestinian Professor Sami Al-Arian has entered the nineteenth day of a hunger strike to protest what he calls continued government harassment. He was brought before a third grand jury Thursday, but did not testify.

Al-Arian has been in prison for five years on charges that he was a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Two years ago, a Florida jury failed to return a single guilty verdict on any of the seventeen charges brought against him. Despite the jury’s findings, Al-Arian remained behind bars. Last year, Al-Arian was imprisoned for an additional eighteen months for refusing to testify before a Virginia grand jury.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined now here in the firehouse studio by Laila Al-Arian, the eldest daughter of Sami Al-Arian, a freelance journalist here in New York. Joining us on the phone from Washington, Will Olson, the local Virginia counsel for Sami Al-Arian.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Can you describe, Laila, what has happened now? He was not convicted on any of the seventeen charges. They deadlocked on, what was it, nine of them, and they acquitted him on seven counts?

LAILA AL-ARIAN: Eight counts......"

A look at lives lost as U.S. deaths in Iraq near 4,000



(Click on graph to enlarge)

Al Nakba of 1948


Older Than 60 Years for Sure, But How Long Will It Persist?

A Very Good Piece

By KHALIL NAKHLEH

(Palestinian anthropologist, independent development and educational consultant and writer. His latest two books are: The Myth of Palestinian Development (2004), and (co-authored with Tafeeda Jirbawi) Empowering Future Generations (2008). He is the editor of a forthcoming book, The Future of the Palestinian Minority in Israel. Dr. Nakhleh resides in Ramallah, and may be reached at abusama@palnet.com.)
CounterPunch

"....Al-Nakba should not be viewed as a "catastrophe" in the same sense as those sudden upheavals, destruction, etc, caused by inexplicable natural disasters, massive earthquakes, flooding, tornadoes, or an unexpected attack by meteorites from outer space. I want to argue here for the need to widen our conception of Al-Nakba, and to think of it as a disastrous process, whose seeds were consciously planted at least since the beginning of the last century, and whose clear targets were our displacement and alienation from our indigenous land, and our supplanting by Jewish-Zionist colonists being hurled at us from other parts of the world.....

Al-Nakba Process: Agencies and Targets

From the above perspective, and according to all available serious historical analyses, Al-Nakba was not a sudden happening that came from nowhere. What happened in 1947-1948 was a culmination of a colonial settler process, whose aim was (and continues to be) to dislodge the indigenous Arab population of Palestine and replace them with Zionist Jewish settlers from other countries. These settlers and their descendents spearheaded a systematic process, which started in the early twenties of the last century, of cleansing the land from its Palestinian population, and transforming it to become an extension of the globalized capitalist center. The process is continuing today, with the direct and indirect sanctioning of the US, Europe and a multitude of their client states and non-state agencies.

In order to arrive at a clear and deep understanding of this broad process, I propose to look at "Al-Nakba Process" on two levels: the phases of its development, and its targets. In terms of the phases, we can delineate three, somewhat overlapping, phases: (1) The Planning/Designing phase, (2) The Implementation phase, and (3) The Completion phase. Embedded in these phases, I would highlight three clear targets: (1) People, (2) Land, and (3) Institutions......

How do we circumvent Al-Nakba from persisting into our future?

Based on the above, I am convinced that Al-Nakba process will persist recurring in the Palestinian future unless and until we, and all the forces in the world that do not want to see a recurring Nakba, embark unequivocally on the following steps:

1. Stop thinking and acting for the partitioning of historical Palestine, as a pretext to find a solution for the current unjust situation, resulting from the process of the last hundred years.

2. Work towards the dismemberment of the exclusivist, racist Zionist-Jewish-Israeli state, in favor of a democratic, non-hegemonic state, for all the inhabitants of historical Palestine.

3. Highlight the historical evil perpetrated against the Palestinian people, and work globally towards forcing the World Zionist Movement and the State of Israel to acknowledge their direct responsibility for perpetrating this historical evil, and for taking real measures to rectify it."


***

If you have any questions for the author of this piece, Dr. Khalil Nakhleh, or a comment, please pose your questions in the comment section. I have arranged for an interview with Dr. Nakhleh and your questions can be part of the interview!

Ruling Palestine I: Gaza Under Hamas

International Crisis Group

"EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The policy of isolating Hamas and sanctioning Gaza is bankrupt and, by all conceivable measures, has backfired. Violence is rising, harming both Gazans and Israelis. Economic conditions are ruinous, generating anger and despair. The credibility of President Mahmoud Abbas and other pragmatists has been further damaged. The peace process is at a standstill. Meanwhile, Hamas’s hold on Gaza, purportedly the policy’s principal target, has been consolidated. Various actors, apparently acknowledging the long-term unsustainability of the status quo, are weighing options. Worried at Hamas’s growing military arsenal, Israel is considering a more ambitious and bloody military operation. But along with others, it also is tiptoeing around another, wiser course that involves a mutual ceasefire, international efforts to prevent weapons smuggling and an opening of Gaza’s crossings and requires compromise by all concerned. Gaza’s fate and the future of the peace process hang in the balance.

Since Hamas assumed full control of Gaza in June 2007, the already-tight sanctions imposed following its January 2006 electoral victory have been tightened further. Israel curtailed cross-border traffic, pointing to the absurdity of providing goods to an entity whose rulers fire rockets at its citizens. The West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, seeking to undermine Hamas’s standing, has also done its part to cut off Gaza and prevent normal functioning of government; feeble protests aside, the international community (Arab world included) has been at best passive.

The logic behind the policy was to demonstrate to Palestinians that Hamas could not deliver and so ought to be cast aside. The hope was that the West Bank, buoyed by economic growth, a loosening of Israeli security measures and a revived peace process, would be an attractive counter-model. On both counts, the theory has fallen short..... "

Learning From Past Struggles: The Harkis in Algeria

Thanks to Fatima for pointing out the analogy between the Harkis in Algeria and the so-called Awakening Councils in Iraq.

"Harki (adjective from the Arabic harka, standard Arabic haraka حركة, "war party" or "movement", i.e. a group of volunteers, especially soldiers) is the generic term for Muslim Algerians serving as auxiliaries with the French Army, during the Algerian War from 1954 to 1962. The phrase is sometimes extended to cover all Algerian Muslims who supported the French presence in Algeria during this war. Since Algerian independence "Harki" has been used as a derogatory expression within Algeria, or amongst some of the Franco-Algerian community, equating to "collaborator". In France, the term is used to designate the Franco-musulmans rapatriés ("repatriated French Muslims") community living in the country since 1962, and its metropolitan born descendants. In this sense the term Harki now refers to a distinct ethnocultural group, i.e. Franco-Algerian Muslims distinct from other French of Algerian origin or Algerians living in France.

Before the Algerian conflict
Algerian Muslim regular soldiers had served in large numbers with the French "Armée d'Afrique" (Army of Africa) from 1830 as spahis (cavalry) and tirailleurs (lit. skirmisher, i.e. infantry). They played an important part during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the First World War (19141918).
During World War II North African troops serving with the French Army numbered more than 200,000. They made a major contribution during the liberation of France and the campaigns in Italy and Germany of 1944-45.
Tirailleurs from Algeria, Morocco and West Africa fought in Indochina as part of the French Expeditionary Force until the Fall of Dien Bien Phu (1954).

During the Algerian War
With the outbreak of the Algerian War that same year, the loyalty of the Algerian Muslim soldiers to France inevitably came under heavy strain and some of the regular units were transferred from Algeria to France or Germany, following increased incidences of desertion or small-scale mutiny. As a partial replacement, the French administration recruited the Harkis as irregular militia based in their home villages or towns throughout Algeria. Initially raised as self-defence units, the Harkis, from 1956 on, increasingly served alongside the French Army in the field. They were lightly armed (often only with shotguns), but their knowledge of local terrain and conditions made them valuable auxiliaries to French regular units.
According to General R. Hure (L'Armee d' Afrique 1830-1962), there were by 1960 approximately 150,000 Muslim Algerians serving in the French Army or as auxilaries. In addition to volunteers and conscripts serving in regular units this total took into account 95,000 Harkis (including 20,000 in separate mokhazni district forces and 15,000 in commando de chasse tracking units). It was a recurring claim by the French authorities that more Algerian Muslims were serving with their forces than with those of the nationalist Front de Libération Nationale (FLN).
According to US Army data, possibly compiled at a different date, the Harkis numbered about 180,000, more than total FLN effectives [1]. They were used as guerrilla style units, though mostly in conventional formations. Harkis served either in all-Algerian units commanded by French officers or in mixed units. Other uses included platoon or below sized units attached to French battalions. A third use involved Harkis in intelligence gathering roles, with some reported minor pseudo-operations in support of intelligence collection [2].
The motives of the Harkis were mixed. The FLN targeted both collaborators and rival nationalist groups and some Algerians enrolled in the Harkis to avenge the deaths of relatives. Others were defectors from the FLN rebel forces who had been persuaded by one means or another to change sides. A major source was from families or other groups who had traditionally given service to France. From the viewpoint of Algerian nationalists all were traitors. However at independence guarantees were given by both signatories of the March 1962 cease fire ("Accords d'Evian" signed by France and the Algerian FLN), that no one, Harkis or Pieds-Noirs (Algerian-born Europeans with French nationality) would suffer reprisals after independence for any action during the civil war......"

March Madness



By Mike Luckovich

Propping Up a Quisling in Desperate Need: PA to launch welfare network in hopes of countering Hamas


"The Palestinian Authority is launching a new socioeconomic network meant to counter the Hamas welfare system, the Dawa, which has been successful in assisting poor Palestinians for two decades.

The program is being backed by both Israel and the Quartet - the U.S., UN, EU and Russia - including its Middle East envoy Tony Blair. On the Israeli side, the officials coordinating activities in the territories - under Major General Yosef Mishlav and Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog - are involved in supporting the PA.

The program calls for setting up an organization similar to the National Security Institute in Israel......"

The Son Who Did Not Die, The One Who Did


By Mohammed Omer
(Click on photos to enlarge)

"GAZA CITY, Mar 21 (IPS) - The family had been mourning for 16-year-old Ahmed Abu Salamah. What was left of what was thought to be his body had been buried. After two weeks of mourning, they found Ahmed alive in the intensive care unit at Gaza City's al-Shifa Hospital.

But a boy had been buried. And, a family had spent two weeks outside the intensive care unit, believing the boy inside was theirs. It was their boy who had died.

The discovery of the mistake brought joy to the family of Ahmed Abu Salamah. And it plunged into uncontrollable grief the family who had gathered at hospital and prayed daily for recovery of the boy within in intensive care.

Through this misunderstanding, one thing everyone understood. The body of the boy who was buried had been mangled beyond recognition. As was the boy still alive in intensive care.

"Israel is using missiles and materials which rip apart and burn beyond recognition the humans they target, so much so that a mother can't identify the body of her own son," Dr. Raed al-Arini, head of public relations at al-Shifa Hospital told IPS.

Israel had used banned materials such as Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) and white phosphorus, he said.

Ahmed has suffered brain haemorrhage and has serious wounds all over his body. He had left home on Saturday Mar. 1, his mother said, and was soon hit by an Israeli F-16 missile strike just outside his house. It was a day when more than 55 Palestinians were killed, many of them civilians and children.

For three days the family could find no trace of Ahmed. Then they were called by the hospital to say that the remains of a body in the morgue was Ahmed.

But two weeks later, Ahmed's friends informed his mother Karima that her son was still alive. She rushed to the hospital. "I shook his bed, and when he opened his eyes I said to him, 'this is your mother, I'm here with you'."

The other side of this story was that of mourning after hope.

The mangled body that the Salamah family had buried was that of Mohammed Hejazi, a 17-year-old from the same neighbourhood. Mohammed's mother Aminah Hejazi and his family had sat outside the ICU everyday for two weeks, believing that the boy inside was their Mohammed.
Ahmed's face was covered by bandages. The boys were about the same size, and the Hejazi family thought it was Mohammed. "At first I doubted whether this was really my son, but I felt the need to be close to him anyway," Aminah said. But in a few days, she said she came to believe the boy inside was her son. Until the other family arrived in hospital, and the doctors broke the news to her.

Aminah sobs as she recounts that moment. The family was broken, she said. Her husband would not believe Mohammed was dead.

Identifying Ahmed finally came down to the hair. Karima said Ahmed has brown hair; Aminah that her son's hair was black.

As the Abu Salamah family did earlier, the Hejazi family set up a mourning tent to receive condolences from friends and neighbours. On the other side, many of Ahmed's friends who had thought they would never see him again, following his 'funeral', have been streaming to the hospital to look him up.

Ahmed cannot speak to his friends. He is conscious, his eyes are open, but he is paralysed, and his condition is critical. Doctors say they are short of medicines to treat him.

Aminah mourns the death of her own, and prays for the boy who survived. "I pray that God will heal him," she said, in tears. (END/2008) "

Iraq and the Virtue of Selfishness


We need a foreign policy based on America's real interests

By Justin Raimondo

"What better journalistic symbol of the Beltway know-it-alls than the Washington Post? Their coverage of the Iraq debate in the run-up to invasion mirrored the uncritical assumptions and stereotyped thinking that led to our quest for "weapons of mass destruction" that didn't exist – and their commentary in many instances epitomized the hubris that led to what General William E. Odom rightly describes as the biggest military blunder in our history. Post editorialists contributed mightily to the misinformation that was deliberately spread by the administration, and their columnists were first to jump on the pro-war bandwagon, with Charles Krauthammer and the neocon brigade leading the charge. Now, as the nation observes the fifth anniversary of this avoidable catastrophe, we are subjected to yet more editorials taking opponents of this war to task: those who call for withdrawal of US forces, the editors of the Post aver, are being "unrealistic."


It isn't enough that half a million or more Iraqis, and 4,000 Americans (plus 50,000 wounded) have paid a horrific price for the Post's abdication of its journalistic responsibility – they want more victims........"

After Using the Fools, the US Occupation is Abandoning Them; What Did They Expect?

Sunni militia strike could derail US strategy against al-Qaida

Maggie O'Kane and Ian Black
The Guardian, Friday March 21 2008

"The success of the US "surge" strategy in Iraq may be under threat as Sunni militia employed by the US to fight al-Qaida are warning of a national strike because they are not being paid regularly.....

But dozens of phone calls to Sahwa leaders reveal bitterness and anger. "We know the Americans are using us to do their dirty work and kill off the resistance for them and then we get nothing for it," said Abu Abdul-Aziz, the head of the council in Abu Ghraib, where 500 men have already quit.

"The Americans got what they wanted. We purged al-Qaida for them and now people are saying why should we have any more deaths for the Americans. They have given us nothing.".......

"We need to get all the Sahwas in the country together and organise a national strike," said Ahah al-Zubadi, leader of 35 Sahwa councils, the largest group in Iraq. "When the areas started to cool down and the situation began to get better the Americans really cooled to us."

In the area south of Baghdad where more US troops have been killed than anywhere else in the country the Sahwa forces have formed the backbone of the surge. The councils first appeared in Anbar province a year ago when tribal leaders turned against al-Qaida and were tempted by offers of cash and jobs from the Americans, attracting many former insurgents to their ranks. Anbar today is one of Iraq's safest provinces........."

Blowback all over again

Just a day after Bush hailed the success of his 'surge' in Iraq, evidence is emerging that the strategy is failing - and will only fuel sectarian conflict

By Seumas Milne
The Guardian

"Just as George W Bush announces that the surge in Iraq has opened the door to "strategic victory", evidence is emerging that the US-sponsored Sunni militias that have been at the heart of the surge strategy - the so-called "awakening councils" - are already showing signs of falling apart.......

As one sahwa council leader south of Baghdad told Guardian Films: "When the areas started to cool down and the situation began to get better, the Americans really cooled to us. They had got what they wanted from us."

That came as little surprise to other armed groups in Iraq. In January, a leader of one of the largest Sunni-based resistance groups, the 1920 Revolution Brigades, told me: "The sahwa councils are an unhealthy phenomenon, they are being used as a tool by the US occupation forces. But the US is likely to turn against them in the near future - we don't think the sahwa councils will last."......"

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll


The question is:

Will the attempt by Yemen to reconcile Palestinian factions (Fatah and Hamas) succeed?
With over 1,800 responding so far, 79% said no.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kosovo: Typical Example of the Third Wave of Nationalism

Collaborationist Nationalisms in Service of the Capitalist Core

By Dr. Adel Samara
In occupied Ramallah

"......
Since the core capitalist countries, the center of globalized capitalism, decided to disintegrate Yugoslavia, especially the separation and independence of Kosovo from Serbia, many have attempted to draw analogies and look for similarities between the two cases, Kosovo and Palestine. Some Palestinians began talking about declaring unilateral independence. The irony here is that the Palestinian leadership already declared independence in its National Council meeting in Algiers in 1988......



Much has been written about similarities between Kosovo and Palestine, but it is beneficial to mention some differences between those two cases.

Following the collapse of ex "socialist" Eastern Europe, the Balkan region became a "fresh" area to be exploited by two of the triad capitalist core, i.e. the United States and EU at least as a reservoir of cheap labor. This opened the door for the creation of several client states similar to Israel, at least in terms of its role as a watchdog.

But, in the Arab Homeland, the situation is different, i.e. the capitalist core is not in need for another Israel. Many Arabs have failed to grasp this fact ant that is why the Maronites in Lebanon have never received full support of the core capitalist countries to build their own state.

In terms of fragmentation of Arab Homeland, it is already fragmented, and there is much work to apply the mentioned policy of "disintegrating countries of the periphery" while "centralizing Core Capitalist Countries", taking into consideration that it is not at the cost of Israel by any means. Any Palestinian state, in real terms, will be against the interests of Israel. Even a client Palestinian state is not necessary because there are plenty of Arab regimes which serve imperialist interests in the region. A client Palestinian state has nothing important to add.

Finally, many Kosovars may be grateful to the core capitalist countries for their ‘assistance’, but in Palestine, those who would thank the core capitalist regimes are very few: the upper political shell and capitalist and intellectual comprador. This will never attract the core to sacrifice Israel for the sake of this very small minority. What capitalism needs in this era of globalization are collaborating nations and not individual agents."

A Great One By Carlos Latuff:


(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Iraq War 5 years

Scapegoat upon scapegoat: Angela Merkel addresses the Knesset


Raymond Deane, The Electronic Intifada, 20 March 2008

"......Germany will not have come to terms with its past until it sheds its need for scapegoats, and until it abandons its unconditional support for the Israeli rogue state. Such support entails unconditional participation in the dispossession and politicide of the Palestinian people, hardly a stance consistent with Germany's professed desire to shrive itself. In turn, because the Palestinians are a proud and stubborn people who will "not go gentle into that good night" of national and cultural oblivion, the violence and bloodshed will continue on all sides (I don't write "both sides", because the war against the Palestinian people has ramifications beyond Israel and Palestine). The Israeli politicians and German journalists who laud Angela Merkel to the skies are unwittingly celebrating an enemy of peace and justice, and are playing their part in delaying the advent of a just peace to the Middle East."

Mossawa Center releases racism report detailing over 169 cases


"The Mossawa Center released its annual racism report at a press conference in Nazareth today, detailing 169 incidences of racism against Arab minority of Israel, including the killings of Arab citizens. In preparation for the report, Mossawa staff examined and detailed hundreds of reports of racism, in particular cases against Arab citizens. The report also deals with incidences of racism against refugees, labor immigrants and Jewish immigrants, especially Ethiopians.

The research carried out by the Mossawa Center staff reiterated that a commitment to equal rights exists only on a verbal level in Israel, and that Arab citizens still face institutional racism. In addition, it found that racism by Jewish citizens occurs against these groups on a daily basis and in all areas of public life.

“We believe that this report is important for all citizens because racism can burn everything that faces it,” says Jafar Farah, director of the Mossawa Center. “Furthermore, racism does not stop at Arab citizens but affects other neglected communities.”

Key figures released in the report today:

- 41 Arab citizen shot dead over the past 7 years

24 Arab citizens shot dead by Israeli policemen

5 Arab citizens shot dead by Israeli soldiers

8 Arab citizens shot dead by Jewish citizens

2 Arab citizens shot dead by private security companies

2 Arab citizens shot dead by Israeli soldiers serving in Police and Border Patrol

- 27 racist declarations by political leaders and public figures

- Thousands of cases of incitement on the internet

- 5 NGOs directly calling for racism/racist actions against the Arab community

- 8 attacks on cemeteries, churches, mosques and on freedom of religion

- 11 discriminatory laws in the Israeli legal system

- 24 cases of racial profiling in airports, train stations, coffee shops and public places.

- 5 cases of racism in employment

14 cases of racism against Ethiopians

“Lack of indifference towards racism against Arabs leads to amplified racist events against marginalized Jewish groups," says Rabbi Gilad Kariv, associate director of the Israel Religious Action Center. "As a rabbi, I'm concerned by religious personalities that are involved in incitement. It's alarming that Rabbis who receive their salaries from the state budget speak against renting apartments to Arabs, and send inspectors to look for Arab workers in stores."

The Mossawa Center stands against all types of discrimination against any community, especially discrimination based on racial, religious or gender backgrounds, and calls on the State and citizens of Israel to put an end to racism against the Arab minority and the marginalized ethnic communities in Israel."

US Military Option on Iran Is Back on the Table


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

".....Our military, Washington and Gulf sources report that US Vice President Dick Cheney is again talking about possible US military action to shut down Iran’s covert nuclear program.

Cheney stopped over in Oman Wednesday, Wed. March 19, after two days in Iraq. He will travel next to Saudi Arabia, is due in Jerusalem next Saturday and will also visit Ramallah and Turkey.

Our sources report exclusively that his talks are focusing on two aspects of the Iranian nuclear threat:

1. The Bush administration’s decision to distance itself from the National Intelligence Estimate released last December. Its conclusion that Iran’s nuclear arms program was shelved in 2003, which rendered America’s military option superfluous, is now deemed a mistake.

2. The administration now buys British, German, French and Israeli intelligence estimates that Iran is indeed pressing forward with programs for building nuclear weapons, warheads and ballistic missiles for their delivery.

The vice president will listen closely to his hosts’ ideas about joint efforts for containing Iran’s aggressive expansionist thrusts across the Persian Gulf and Middle East and halting its progress towards nuclear armaments.

The vice president’s choice of capitals for his tour is a pointer to the fact that the military option, off since December, may be on again. America will need the cooperation of all four - Oman, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey - to mount a military attack on Iran.

Oman hosts the big American air bases which are the core of the defense shield for the Strait of Hormuz and for the US Navy, Marine and Air Force units deployed in the Persian Gulf.

Saudi Arabia is the senior Gulf and Arabian trendsetter and the key to pan-Arab endorsement for a US offensive against Tehran. Riyadh has opposed military action until now.

Israel is the only regional nation willing to actively participate in an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites; its military has been putting together plans for going it alone.

Last week, our sources report, Jerusalem was notified by the White House that the Iranian issue had been added to Cheney’s regional agenda at the last minute; his hosts were requested to prepare themselves for exhaustive and lengthy discussions on Iran with the vice president and his aides.

Israel’s defense cabinet was accordingly convened last Wednesday – officially to scrutinize the armed forces’ forward planning and applications of the Lebanon war inquiry panel’s recommendations. But, our military sources report, the ministers were convened to decide which of Israel’s military plans of action were to be presented to Cheney.

Turkey is a pivotal element in any war plan because American warplanes and missiles heading for Iran will have to transit its airspace and take off from air bases on its soil. The US and Turkey have improved their military relations since they worked together against PKK havens in northern Iraq last February.

The vice president’s Iraq visit marked the fifth anniversary of the US invasion. ....."

Robbing the cradle of civilization, five years later


Just how bad was the looting of Iraq's museum and archaeological sites? According to Salon's experts, many ancient artifacts have come home, but the looting continues.

Salon.com

"Among the many unintended and unforeseen consequences of the U.S. occupation of Iraq that began five years ago this week was the wholesale looting of Iraq's museums and archaeological sites. Iraq has been called the cradle of civilization. Starting with the Sumerian civilization, which more than 5,000 years ago produced what may be the world's first examples of writing and math, the area centered on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and known as Mesopotamia has been home to a succession of cultures -- Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian. Many believe southern Iraq was the site of the biblical Garden of Eden. But within weeks of the first American airstrike, the cradle of civilization had been robbed. Baghdad's National Museum of Iraq, among the globe's premier repositories of antiquities, was ransacked over the course of a week in April 2003. Statues were dragged down the steps, artifacts six millennia old were carried off in plastic bags. American soldiers were not dispatched to protect the museum until the thieves were long gone.

It was partly in response to media queries about the unimpeded looting of Iraq's cultural heritage that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld uttered the infamous and cavalier rejoinder, "Democracy is messy." Five years after the sacking of Iraq, we decided to ask the experts how bad it really was, how many priceless antiquities have come back to their homeland, and what, if anything, has changed about the Bush administration's approach to protecting Iraq's history.

On behalf of Salon, Brian Rose, professor of archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania and president of the Archaeological Institute of America, conducted a round table with Donny George Youkhanna, former chief of antiquities for the Iraqi government and director general of the National Museum of Iraq; Cori Wegener, an associate curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts who, as a major in the U.S. Army Reserve, was called up in 2003 and sent to Iraq to assess the damage to the museum; and Micah Garen, a documentary filmmaker, photographer and journalist who went to Iraq shortly after the invasion to document the looting of archaeological sites. Youkhanna, who is known as Donny George in the West, was forced to flee Iraq in 2006 and is now a visiting professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Wegener is presently president of the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield, which was formed in 2006 to protect cultural property worldwide during armed conflict. Garen, who wrote a book about his experience as a hostage in Iraq called "American Hostage," is working on a feature-length documentary about the looting. The round-table participants spoke by phone on Friday, March 14. ........"

To listen to a podcast of the round table, click Here

Why Did the US Invade Iraq?

By Jim Lobe

"....Indeed, a demonstration of such power could well be the fastest way to formalize a new international order based on the overwhelming military power of the United States, unequaled at least since the Roman Empire. It would be a "unipolar world" of the kind envisaged by the 1992 draft Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) commissioned by then-Pentagon chief Dick Cheney, overseen by Wolfowitz and Cheney's future chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, and contributed to by future ambassador to "liberated" Afghanistan and Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad and Bush's deputy national security adviser, J.D. Crouch.

It was that same vision that formed the inspiration for the 27 charter signatories – a coalition of aggressive nationalists, neoconservatives, and Christian Right leaders that included Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Libby, Khalilzad, and several other future senior Bush administration national-security officials – of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in 1997. It was the same project that began calling for "regime change" in Iraq in 1998 and that, nine days after the 9/11 attack on New York and the Pentagon, publicly warned that any "war on terror" that excluded Hussein's elimination would necessarily be incomplete.

In retrospect, it seems clear that Iraq had long been seen by this group, which became empowered first by Bush's election and then supercharged by 9/11, as the first, easiest and most available step toward achieving a "Pax Americana" that would not only establish the US once and for all as the dominant power in the region, but whose geostrategic implications for aspiring "peer competitors" would be global in scope.

For the neoconservative and the Christian Right members of this group, who were its most eager and ubiquitous war boosters, Israel would also be a major beneficiary of an invasion.

According to a 1996 paper drafted by prominent hard-line neoconservatives – including some, like Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, who would later serve in senior posts in Cheney's office and the Pentagon in the run-up to the invasion – ousting Hussein and installing a pro-Western leader was the key to destabilizing Israel's Arab enemies and/or bending them to its will. This would permit the Jewish state not only to escape the Oslo peace process, but also to secure as much of the occupied Palestinian (and Syrian) territories as it wished.

Indeed, getting rid of Hussein and occupying Iraq would not only tighten Israel's hold on Arab territories, in this view; it could also threaten the survival of the Arab and Islamic worlds' most formidable weapon against Israel – OPEC – by flooding the world market with Iraqi oil and forcing the commodity's price down to historic lows.

That's how it looked five years ago anyway."

Mission Accomplished, Again


By Steve Bell, The Guardian

Guardian Video: Iraq's lost generation


"In the final instalment of Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's series of films to mark the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, he travels to an orphanage in Sadr city, where children speak of their hatred of America. A generation of Iraqi children have been radicalised and anti-westernised by the war

Iraq's lost generation was made by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad with GuardianFilms for ITV News. It will be broadcast tonight on ITV Evening News and News at Ten"

'We live in a nightmare. Death and carnage is everywhere' Ali, Baghdad resident


By Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in Baghdad
The Guardian,
Thursday March 20 2008

"In most cities of the world a person might expect to be feted for surviving a single bomb attack. In Baghdad, survival stories can be found on every street corner......"

There must be a reckoning for this day of infamy

The Iraq catastrophe isn't down to mistakes or lack of planning, but a refusal to accept that people will resist foreign occupation

By Seumas Milne
The Guardian, Thursday March 20 2008

".....Meanwhile, we're being subjected to a renewed barrage of spin about the success of the US surge in turning the country round, quelling the violence and opening the way to a sunlit future. In an echo of his notorious "mission accomplished" speech of May 2003, George Bush yesterday proclaimed the Iraq war a "major strategic victory" in the "war on terror".

All this is self-delusion on a heroic scale. The unprovoked aggression launched by the US and Britain against Iraq five years ago today has already gone down across the world as, to borrow the words of President Roosevelt, "a day which will live in infamy". Iraqis were promised freedom, democracy and prosperity. Instead, as Jon Snow's compelling TV documentary Hidden Iraq underlined this week, they have seen the physical and social destruction of their country, mass killing, tens of thousands thrown into jail without trial, rampant torture, an epidemic of sectarian terror attacks, pauperisation, and the complete breakdown of basic services and supplies......

Now the same voices can be heard arguing against an end to the occupation on the grounds that withdrawal might trigger even worse violence. Of course no stabilisation of Iraq is going to be bloodless, but such arguments fail to recognise that the occupation itself has fostered sectarian conflict in classic colonial divide-and-rule style - the current US sponsorship of Sunni militias is a case in point. As the US military's own surveys show, Iraqis of all religious and ethnic groups believe the presence of foreign troops is the main cause of violence and 70% want them out now. Tellingly, violence in Basra dropped by 90% after British troops withdrew from the city to their airport base last summer. Naturally, the green zone government is against a US pullout, because it wouldn't survive on its own. But only when the occupation forces make an unequivocal commitment to leave will Iraq's main political and military players be compelled to come to an accommodation......."

Blogging From Gaza


By Suzanne Baroud
The Palestine Chronicle

""I am writing to let you know that in less than 2 hours the last turbine of the Gaza Strip's only power plant will stop working. The fuel for the power plant … will run out in 2 hours," blogs Mona El-Farra, a mother from Gaza.

There are new blogs popping up all the time, and several of them coming out of Gaza are a very much welcomed addition to web-based media. From a doctor and feminist in Gaza city to a college-aged young man in Rafah, their message of hope, determination, and humanity penetrates the vindictive Israeli siege. Thanks to these citizen journalists, anyone in the world can capture a glimpse of life in Gaza, their blogs are like little windows into their caged world.

The Gaza Bloggers' accounts contribute many things, but mostly a strong affirmation of the failure of world media who has decidedly determined to omit, ignore, and totally disregard countless crimes that are perpetually carried out by the Israeli army and government in occupied Palestine......

Bloggers in Gaza are not politicians, nor are they members of a massive state propaganda machine. They are everyday individuals whose language embodies a greater sense of universality. Even when the news of Gaza — as inaccurate and stereotypical as it often is — dies out, Gaza's bloggers will continue to share their personal and collective struggles, with the hope that someone out there would read and listen, and that someday the international community "would do something," for Gaza, they say, can take no more."

The Pharaoh Ehud Mubarak in the Service of Zion


(Cartoon by Khalil Bendib)

'Egypt Is Torturing Hamas Detainees'

Al-Manar

"Dozens of Hamas members who were arrested in Egypt after breaching Gaza's border with Sinai in January are being tortured and held in harsh conditions, a senior Hamas leader said Wednesday.

Former interior minister in the Hamas-led government Said Siam strongly condemned Egyptian authorities for the continued detention of the Hamas men. He did not say how many Hamas members were being detained.

Siam said Egyptian authorities were ignoring criminal activities along the border, focusing instead on pursuing Hamas members who did not threaten Egypt's national security. "The Egyptians are employing double standards," he said. "They aren't doing anything to combat the smuggling operations or crime."

Siam said he was especially disturbed by the fact that the Egyptians were questioning the Hamas detainees about their activities inside the Gaza Strip. "The Egyptians aren't asking anything about what's happening inside Egypt," he said. "They have even been interrogating our men about the whereabouts of [captured Israeli soldier] Gilad Schalit."

Siam said the Egyptians were also trying to get information about the movements of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other leaders of the Islamic movement in the Gaza Strip. "These are the type of questions that only Israeli interrogators would ask," Siam said. "I talked to some of the Hamas policemen who were released from Egyptian prisons and I heard horror stories about what's happening there."

He appealed to Egypt to release all the Hamas men, saying that none of them had posed a threat to Egyptian security. He said he and other Hamas leaders raised the issue during recent meetings with senior Egyptian security officials in El-Arish.

Siam also criticized the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, accusing its security forces of working with Israel against Hamas and other armed groups there. He said the PA was also assisting Israel in its blockade of the Gaza Strip. Egyptian officials declined comment on the report."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Video: Baghdad's killing fields

A short film courtesy of Guardian Films
Wednesday March 19th, 2008

"In the second of Ghaith Abdul-Ahad's series of three films he visits Baghdad's killings fields on the edge of Sadr City. The scene of thousands of sectarian murders over the last three years, it is a desolate and evil place: "Only the killers and the killed ever come here" says Abdul-Ahad. Here in the thousands of unmarked graves lie the victims of the Shia militia gangs."

Israeli army carries out ethnic cleansing near Hebron for settlement expansion


From Khalid Amayreh in Hebron

"Israeli army bulldozers, backed by soldiers, on Wednesday swooped on four Palestinian hamlets in southern Hebron hills, demolishing 11 homes and structures and rendering dozens of men, women and children homeless.

The wanton demolitions are ostensibly aimed at expanding adjacent Jewish colonies inhabited by fundamentalist settlers advocating ethnic cleansing of all non-Jews in Palestine.

The demolitions took place at the agricultural villages of Qwawis, Emnezil, Al-Dirat and Umm Lasafa. Nine of the demolished structures were residential homes and two were livestock enclosures.

According cartographer and settlement expert Abdul Hadi Hantash, the purpose of the demolitions is to “ethnically cleanse the area of Arabs” so that recent Jewish immigrants from France and Russia could live in there on stolen Arab land.

Several Jewish colonies were established in the area a few years ago and settlers reportedly have been continually terrorizing and harassing local Palestinians and vandalizing their property.

According to the locals, settler terror and vandalism are carried out with the full knowledge of the army......."


By Imad Hajjaj

Zionism is Racism: Rabbi: Don't hire, rent homes to Arabs


Contributed by Datta

"Hebron and Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior plans to issue a halachic ruling forbidding Israeli Jews from rent apartments to Israeli Arabs or Palestinians or to employ them.....

Lior could not be immediately reached. However, a spokesman said this had been Lior's position for some time.

Other leading religious Zionist rabbis, such as Rabbi Eliezer Melamed of Har Bracha and Rabbi Elyakim Levanon of Eilon Moreh, have also called to ban all Arab labor......"

Bush’s Legacy of Failure


By Robert Scheer

"That idiotic “what me worry?” look just never leaves the man’s visage. Once again there was our president, presiding over disasters in part of his making and totally on his watch, grinning with an aplomb that suggested a serious disconnect between his worldview and existing reality. Be it in his announcement that Iraq was being secured on a day when bombs ripped through that sad land or posed between his treasury secretary and the Federal Reserve chairman to applaud the government’s bailout of a failed bank, George Bush was the only one inexplicably smiling.

Failure suits him. It is a stance he learned well while presiding over one failed Texas business deal after another, and it served him splendidly as he claimed the title of president of the United States after losing the popular, and maybe even the electoral, vote. It carried him through the most ignominious chapter of U.S. foreign policy, from the lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction to an unprecedented presidential defense of torture......"

Israel orders army to use lethal fire against Palestinians protesting illegal wall


"Israeli media sources reported on Wednesday that the Israeli government has given new orders to the army, which allow troops to use live rounds at Palestinian protesters near the illegal wall surrounding the city of Jerusalem.

The new orders allow soldiers to use lethal force, referring to live rounds fired to kill, during protests against the illegal Israeli wall surrounding the city, yet the new orders do not include those actions that have the participation of Israeli and international peace activists.

Having occupied the city of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel decided in 2002 to build a wall, encapsulating Jerusalem and Israeli settlements and annexing them to Israel. The wall was deemed contrary to international law by the International Court of Justice in 2004, when Israel was ordered to remove it. Instead, Israel continues to construct the wall at the expense of privately owned Palestinian land.

On a weekly basis, hundreds of Palestinians, supported by international and Israeli peace groups, protest the construction of the wall in villages neighboring Jerusalem......"

Iraq War as War Crime (Part Two)

By Robert, Sam and Nat Parry
March 19, 2008

"From the start of George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq -- five years ago -- the toll on Iraqi civilians and on out-gunned Iraqi soldiers was staggering. Indeed, that appears to have been part of the message Bush's neocon advisers wanted to send to other countries that might think of resisting Washington's imperial ambitions...."

Study: Israeli Jews becoming increasingly racist toward Arabs

"Israel's Jewish community increasingly supports the delegitimization, discrimination and even deportation of Arabs, found a report on racism in Israel, set to be released Wednesday.

The report, to be presented at a press conference in Nazareth by Mossawa, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens of Israel, states that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has clearly impacted public opinion, and warns that ideas such as population exchange and racial segregation are gaining ground. It also warns that several Jewish politicians are gaining influence based on a platform of racial hatred.

Mossawa is supported by the Human Rights Program of the European Commission and the United Nations Democracy Foundation.

The report, written by Mossawa director Jafar Farah and others, mainly examines racism against Arabs in Israel, using criteria taken from the anti-Semitism reports in Europe......"

Apartheid in Action: High Court closes off use of major highway to Palestinians


"The interim decision issued 10 days ago by the High Court of Justice on the use of Route 443 marks the first time the justices have issued a ruling to close a road traversing occupied territory to Palestinian use, for the convenience of Israeli travelers.

The interim ruling on a petition by six Palestinian villages adjacent to the highway, which links the coastal plain to Jerusalem, gave the state six months to report progress on the construction of an alternative road for Palestinian use....."

Iraq, an American ‘Nakbah’


American Taliban council of war

By Tony Karon

"The Arabic world nakbah, denoting “catastrophe” best describes what George W. Bush and his American-Taliban administration has wrought in Iraq — and, as a result, what it has meant for the United States. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died as a result of Bush’s failed attempt to violently reorder the politics of the Middle East; 4 million have been displaced from their homes; more than 4,000 American troops have been killed and some 60,000 maimed in a war that smart estimates suggest will cost the U.S. economy $3 trillion — it currently costs America $12 billion a month to maintain an occupation whose time-frame remains open-ended. The Financial Times reported today that the war has already cost the average American household of four (like mine) $16,000 in taxes.


And this blood-drenched disaster has done absolutely nothing to advance U.S. strategic interests; on the contrary, it has dramatically debilitated U.S. strategic influence by graphically demonstrating not the extent, but the limits of American military power. The “shock and awe” mantra that the U.S. media so dutifully chanted at the war’s commencement sounds like a pretty sick joke now.


The fifth anniversary of the Iraq catastrophe will see the usual endless hemming and hawing in the media over tactical mistakes and over whether or not the “surge” is working (as Chou en-Lai once said of the French revolution, “too soon to tell”; check back 15 years from now… I know, that’s not funny…); over how the U.S. will extract itself. (No matter what the debate in Washington, as argued here previously the reality is that the U.S. will not be in a position to withdraw for the foreseeable future, at least to the extent that it retains its superpower view of its national interests.)


Expect precious little serious discussion on how America got into this mess, not least because so much of the mainstream media was so complicit in enabling it by failing to do its job and challenging the patent nonsense that was being fed to the American people by an Administration whose dissembling was plain to see, even back then.


I recently looked up a couple of pieces I wrote in December 2002 and January 2003, which I used to mail out to a list of a few hundred people before I launched this site. And what those reminded me was just how obvious it was that the case for war being offered the American people was bogus......"

Insane McCain: Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah threaten Middle East


"Jerusalem (dpa) - US Republican presidential hopeful John McCain slammed Iran, Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement in an interview published Wednesday, saying that they threatened the Middle East and were a danger to US national interests.

"I think Iran is a threat to the region," the Arizona senator told the Jerusalem Post daily, adding that while Tehran was "obviously pursuing nuclear weapons," it was also arming and training extremists to send into Iraq, supporting Hezbollah and influencing Syria.

"At the end of the day, we can still not afford to have Iran with nuclear weapons," McCain said. "We know they have ambitions that are not just aimed at the State of Israel," but also included "destabilization of the entire region upon which the United States' national security interests rest."

Hamas and Hezbollah represented a similar threat, he maintained, saying that if the two militant groups "succeed here, they are going to succeed everywhere, not only in the Middle East, but everywhere."

"They are dedicated to the extinction of everything that the US, Israel and the West believe and stand for," he said.

McCain said he backed Israel's refusal to negotiate with Hamas......."

Iraq: Five Years After the Conquest

A peaceful Palm Sunday in the shadow of war

By Justin Raimondo

".....The reality is that this was a horrible mistake from the very beginning, and yet many who say this – and said this at the time – are not ruling out an attack on Iran. Yes, it's all fine and dandy that the two Democratic presidential candidates are telling us what we want to hear – that we need to get out of Iraq as soon as possible. But do they realize that the longer we stay in Iraq the closer we are to war with Iran? Do they rule that out? Of course not.

As we protest, mourn, and speak out against the current war, we must raise an alarm against the next war – and by all indications it is coming soon.

Opponents of the invasion of Iraq warned that the conflict could not be contained in Iraq, that it would soon spread throughout the region – and that prediction is coming to pass before our eyes. The firing of Adm. William "Fox" Fallon – described by Esquire magazine as the one man standing between us and another war – prefigures a disaster in the making, and the rhetoric of this administration – and of Democratic Party politicians, who are enabling this administration in its war plans – bodes ill for the cause of peace.

What it comes down to is this: if we don't raise public awareness of the next war, if we don't wake up the American people and mobilize them in their millions against the madness of the War Party, we are headed for a war that will make the present one seem like a Sunday school picnic......"