Saturday, August 16, 2008

Qurei’s pathetic warnings

By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

".....Qurei’ and some other PA leaders have been voicing similar warnings for years. These leaders, however, seem to utterly lack the will and inclination to abandon the defunct Oslo process. The reasons for that apparently have more to do with personal and partisan expediency and less with true Palestinian national considerations.

This is why Qurei’s remarks shouldn’t be taken seriously. After all, the very survival of the PA depends, almost completely, on its subservience to Israel.

In recent months, this ignominious subservience assumed more brazen manifestations, including joint raids of Palestinian homes, businesses, charities and educational institutions. Today, PA security cadets are taught that the enemy is Hamas, not Israel......

So why did PA leaders refuse to open their eyes and deal with reality all these years? Were they drunk? Were they asleep? Were they mesmerized by the false luster of authority, an authority whose borders end with the nearest Israeli tank or armored vehicle which is only a few meters away ? Or perhaps they were busy self-congratulating themselves on having been granted empty but grand-sounding titles such “minister of this or minister of that!!” when in fact the lowest-ranking Israeli soldier would stop and humiliate them at the nearest roadblock in full view of Palestinian travelers?

The truth of the matter is that the PA and its leaders lack the ability to challenge Israel. Israel represents the lifeline of their political and especially financial survival.

Without Israel, and especially without this pathetic peace process which has the smell of conspiracy, PA leaders and officials wouldn’t be riding ostentatiously in brand new limousines and having chummy chats with the likes of Tony Blair who privately tells his European and American interlocutors that all that Palestinians need to shut their mouths up is some brand new cars, grand titles, bloated salaries and invitations to Paris, London and Washington where they can have memorial photo-ops with western leaders for self-gratification, this is while their own people are savaged by Nazi-like Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers all over the West Bank......

But, unfortunately, the PA neither behaves nor thinks in this way. This is simply not its character. It is an entity whose leaders would protest an Israeli decision to build more settlements in on stolen Palestinian land by traveling to West Jerusalem the next morning to exchange ostensibly cordial kisses with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the very person who took that decision to build more settlements......

Are we fools? Are we stupid? Otherwise, why do we continue to hold seemingly endless talks with Israel despite our deep convictions that Israel doesn’t want peace? Why have we failed to demand a total stoppage of Jewish settlement expansion as a precondition for the continuation of the so-called “peace talks”? We do have a huge army of “advisors” and “experts” and “consultants” who receive hefty salaries at the expense of hundreds of thousands of impoverished Palestinians who can hardly make ends meet. Can’t these people offer the PA leadership a decent advice with regard to this game of make believe, otherwise known as “peace talks.”....

So, why is the PA refusing to see reality on the ground as it is? Or are we, Palestinians, supposed to continue to give this discredited leadership the benefit of the doubt until Israel destroys the last vestige of our national immunity in the face of Zionism?"

The Anger, the Longing, the Hope

By Uri Avnery

"We were the first Israelis to come to Cairo, and one of the things we were very curious about was: how did you manage to surprise us at the beginning of the October 1973 war?

The general answered: "Instead of reading the intelligence reports, you should have read our poets."

I reflected on these words last Wednesday, at the funeral of Mahmoud Darwish.

DURING THE funeral ceremony in Ramallah he was referred to again and again as "the Palestinian National Poet".

But he was much more than that. He was the embodiment of the Palestinian destiny. His personal fate coincided with the fate of his people.

He was born in al-Birwa, a village on the Acre-Safad road. As early as 900 years ago, a Persian traveler reported that he had visited this village and prostrated himself on the graves of "Esau and Simeon, may they rest in peace". In 1931, ten years before the birth of Mahmoud, the population of the village numbered 996, of whom 92 were Christians and the rest Sunni Muslims.

On June 11, 1948, the village was captured by the Jewish forces. Its 224 houses were eradicated soon after the war, together with those of 650 other Palestinian villages. Only some cactus plants and a few ruins still testify to their past existence. The Darwish family fled just before the arrival of the troops, taking 7-year old Mahmoud with them.

Somehow, the family made their way back into what was by then Israeli territory. They were accorded the status of "present absentees" - a cunning Israeli invention. It meant that they were legal residents of Israel, but their lands were taken from them under a law that dispossessed every Arab who was not physically present in his village when it was occupied. On their land the kibbutz Yasur (belonging to the left-wing Hashomer Hatzair movement) and the cooperative village Ahihud were set up.

Mahmoud's father settled in the next Arab village, Jadeidi, from where he could view his land from afar. That's where Mahmoud grew up and where his family lives to this day......"

Real News Video: US missile deal enrages Russia

Eric Margolis: It's like August, 1914 - a movement of great powers towards war

"With the signing of an agreement between Washington and Warsaw to erect a missile defence system in Poland, echoes of the cold war between Russia and the United States are hard to ignore. The agreement comes hot on the heels of the conflict between Russia and Georgia."

Real News Video: Protest movement growing in China

Professor Minqi Li : Winners and losers in new China Part 3

Minqi Li: "the resistance has been growing in recent years, and even by the official statistics, what they call "the mass incidents" has increased from something like 30,000 a year to now maybe 50,000, 60,000 a year, and that you still have many protests from the traditional-sector workers relating to issues about privatization, corruption that happened in the process of privatization."

Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim vs. the Ugly Dictator

Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim behind bars

A Dissident Voice Refuses to be Silenced

A Great Piece


"“Why did I use the phrase ‘The Ugliest of Them All’ to describe the Arab decision-makers? The reason for that comparison between ‘The Ugly American’ and ‘The Uglier Israeli,’ opposite ‘The Ugliest Arab’ is that the first and second are important because of their arrogance and the brute force that they used. They at least did this, from their perspective, in the service of their countries’ national interests. As for our friends, the Arab governments, they, first of all, colluded against sister Arab countries. Secondly, they did this not for the sake of serving the national interests of their countries, but in order to serve their personal and family interests.

For the sake of this, they are inclined to comply with the demands and orders of the American master – even if this serves his spoiled child, Israel, and even if the price is the blood of thousands of killed, injured and displaced Lebanese. For this reason they are in the eyes of their people, ‘The Ugliest of Them All.’”

- Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, in his 2006 essay “And the Arabs, the Ugliest of Them All”......

Abetting the Siege of Gaza

Mubarak too is complicit in the suffering endured by Gaza’s Palestinians as the Rafah border crossing at Egypt’s door remains closed, forcing the inhabitants of one the most densely populated areas on earth to dig tunnels in order to bring in needed food and supplies. These tunnels have been promptly destroyed when discovered by Egyptian security, oftentimes killing the young boys still digging them.

This epitomizes the concept of the ‘The Ugliest Arab’ so well articulated by Ibrahim in the opening quote. U.S-sponsored tyrants like Mubarak, in a purely self-serving manner, do the bidding of America and Israel at the expense of their fellow Arabs; whether acting impassively as Lebanon burned in 2006, inhumanly by participating in the siege of Gaza, or despotically against their own people.

The tireless campaign of Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim has shone a bright light on the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. If Ibrahim’s crusade has taught us anything, it is that Mubarak can rightfully be called ‘The Ugly Dictator’."

Dreaming of paradise

Joy Ellison writing from al-Tuwani, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 15 August 2008

(Joy Ellison is an American activist with Christian Peacemaker Teams, an organization that supports Palestinian nonviolent resistance. She lives in al-Tuwani, a small village in the South Hebron Hills that is nonviolently resisting settlement expansion and violence. She writes about her experiences on her blog, "I Saw it in Palestine." )

"....But sometimes when I meet the children coming to school in the morning, Sami's daughter Diana catches my eye. Diana is still in primary school, but she walks with commanding dignity. I stand beside Diana as she explains to the Israeli soldiers who escort her to school that they arrived late and did not meet the children at the correct location. "You have to come by 7:30," she insists. And as I watch this little girl speak to the soldiers with such conviction, my despair eases. For a moment, I stop wondering, "When will this nightmare end?" and begin to think, "How much longer can this injustice possibly continue?" In the face of Palestinian children dreaming of a better tomorrow, surely today's horrors cannot stand for long. "

When the Boats Arrive in Gaza

By Stuart Littlewood – London, UK
Palestine Chronicle

"Is the Palestinian Authority for or against the siege?

While others put on a show of solidarity with the brave 'freedom' voyagers as they set sail to break the siege of Gaza, where is the voice of the PA?

The siege has been going on for more than 2 years but here in the UK I have heard the Palestinian Delegation speak only once of the injustice, suffering and devastation. As far as I know, these ‘official’ representatives of the Palestinian people have said nothing in the media about the freedom boats, which potentially present the most important challenge to the Israeli occupation for a very long time.

Volunteers are doing in their small way what the EU – if it had a shred of moral decency – should have done massively with cargo ships, helicopters and the necessary armed escorts when this offence against every code of humanity was first committed. The slightest interference by Israel, or attempt to re-seal Gaza’s borders, should have resulted in the EU-Israel Agreements being torn up and consigned to the wastepaper basket of history.

That, more than anything else, would have forced the Zionist land-grabbers and hate-mongers back in their box and set the scene for a no-nonsense solution to the 60 year-old conflict in the Holy Land.

Meanwhile we are left to speculate about where the Palestinian Authority really stands in all this. Its London Delegation was warned by activists to wake up and shape up but the general public still can’t detect a spark of life. Therefore the following email has been sent:

May we look forward to public words of support and encouragement from the Palestinian Delegation for the 'freedom' boats that are due to sail from Cyprus to Gaza in a bid to break Israel's siege?

And what about the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and its other outposts around the world... are the media likely to hear positive comment from them? Will PA dignitaries be among the welcoming committee if the boats get through?

The PA appears remarkably relaxed about the way Palestinians in Gaza - Muslims and Christians alike - have been crushed and their economy systematically wrecked by the merciless blockade. Assuming the boats do actually sail in the next few days, now is surely the time for a big show of solidarity, a spirit that is otherwise regrettably lacking in the Occupied Territories.

Volunteers from around the world are making an effort. Can we hope for the same from those who claim to govern?

Would readers please give the Palestinian embassy/delegation in their own countries a similar prod?"

Family Politics and the New Gaza Crisis

By Ramzy Baroud

"Yet more haunting images of blindfolded, stripped down Palestinian men being contemptuously dragged by soldiers in uniform from one place to another. Yet more footage of bloodied men lying on hospital beds describing their ordeals to television reporters who have heard this story all too often. Yet more news of Palestinian infighting, tit-for-tat arrests, obscene language and embarrassing behaviour from those who have elected themselves -- or were elected -- to represent the Palestinian people......

More, the fact that Abbas had met with representatives of the Helis clan in the West Bank, as if they represent a political organisation, was a dangerous validation of clan militancy that has grown in Palestine after the Oslo Accords of 1993 due to the security vacuum and decided corruption that have afflicted the Palestinian police for years. Clan militants became a necessary phenomenon to protect each family's interests, and had replaced the underground United National Front, which managed Palestinian affairs, despite of the Israeli occupation, which has done its utmost to break down Palestinian society and create an inherent sense of insecurity......."

Don't Forget Yugoslavia

by John Pilger

"The secrets of the crushing of Yugoslavia are emerging, telling us more about how the modern world is policed. The former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia in The Hague, Carla Del Ponte, this year published her memoir, The Hunt: Me and War Criminals. Largely ignored in Britain, the book reveals unpalatable truths about the West's intervention in Kosovo, which has echoes in the Caucasus.

The tribunal was set up and bankrolled principally by the United States. Del Ponte's role was to investigate the crimes committed as Yugoslavia was dismembered in the 1990s. She insisted that this include NATO's 78-day bombing of Serbia and Kosovo in 1999, which killed hundreds of people
in hospitals, schools, churches, parks, and television studios and destroyed economic infrastructure. "If I am not willing to [prosecute NATO personnel]," said Del Ponte, "I must give up my mission." It was a sham. Under pressure from Washington and London, an investigation into NATO war crimes was scrapped......."

Out Damn Blot: A Letter to Powell

A Very Good Piece

by Ray McGovern

"Dear Colin,

You have said you regret the "blot" on your record caused by your parroting spurious intelligence at the U.N. to justify war on Iraq. On the chance you may not have noticed, I write to point out that you now have a unique opportunity to do some rehab on your reputation.

If you were blindsided, well, here's an opportunity to try to wipe off some of the blot. There is no need for you to end up like Lady Macbeth, wandering around aimlessly muttering, Out damn spot…or blot.......

So Here's Your Opportunity

Either you knew about Sabri, Habbush, and Curveball, or you did not. If you knew, I suppose you will keep hunkering down, licking your blot, and hoping that plausible denial will continue to work for you.

If you were kept in the dark, though, I would think you would want to raise holy hell – if not to hold accountable those of your former superiors and colleagues responsible for the carnage of the past five years, then at least to try to wipe the "blot" off your record.

Granted, it probably strikes you as a highly unwelcome choice – whether to appear complicit or naïve. Here's an idea. Why not just tell the truth?.....

Let me suggest that you offer yourself as a witness to help clear the air on these very important issues. This would seem the responsible, patriotic thing to do in the circumstances and could also have the salutary effect of beginning the atonement process for that day of infamy at the Security Council.

If we hear no peep out of you in the coming weeks, we shall not be able to escape concluding one of two things:

(1) That, as was the case with the White House Situation Room sessions on torture, you were a willing participant also in suppressing/falsifying key intelligence on Iraq; or

(2) That you lack the courage to expose the scoundrels who betrayed not only you, but also that segment of our country and our world that still puts a premium on truth telling and the law.

Think about it....."

In Case You Forgot......
The Surge is Still Working!

The return of the great powers

Russia lost the original Cold War, but the United States is now weaker than it was 20 years ago

By Rupert Cornwell
The Independent

"......It was none other than the US that set the gold standard for spheres of influence with the Monroe Doctrine, back in 1823. And how, pray, has Washington behaved these past decades towards Cuba and other regimes in its Central American backyard, whose policies it disapproved of? In its determination to prevent Nato from setting up shop in Georgia and Ukraine, and its hostility to the US missile defence installations in the old "near abroad" of Poland and the Czech Republic, Russia is observing Monroe to the letter.......

However, one of Mr Bush's greatest disservices to his country – and one whose cost his successors will long be counting – is to have made that hypocrisy visible to a child. His entire foreign policy can be read in the key of, "do as we say, not as we do".

So much, however, for American decline. Russia simultaneously has been on the rise, above all thanks to a new weapon (or rather, long dormant old weapon), its natural resources.......

.....In Moscow's case, its current great-power behaviour is fuelled by resentment and a desire for payback, after the humiliations of the Yeltsin era – on a playing field that is now tilted in its direction.

In short, spheres of influence, insofar as they ever went away, are back......"

Robert Fisk's World: A region boiling with tales of kings, gangs and war

"......And there's just one more thing. Less than a week after Petraeus's visit, Sleiman was to pay his first presidential visit to Damascus, Did the American general perhaps have a few requests to make of President Bashar al-Assad via Sleiman? A word of thanks, perhaps, for improving security along Syria's border with Iraq? A plea for a little more help in restraining the insurgents, perhaps even paving the way for good relations with the next US president? It will, obviously, take a bit longer before President Petraeus arrives in the White House...

Yet still the Middle East debates whether Israel or the US will bomb Iran. Personally, I don't believe this will happen – but then again, that's what I told my friend Seymour Hersh before the Iraqi catastrophe, when he said we would invade and I said we wouldn't. Currently, he thinks an Iran attack is still on the cards. So, apparently, does the Emir of Qatar. He's generously handed the Americans yet more desert for their massive air base outside Doha, land that stretches away on the further side of the military installation. He's asked for the return of the side of the base closest to the capital. The reason? Well, if America bombs Iran, the Islamic republic's missiles are likely to come hissing towards US forces in Qatar. The Emir wants them exploding as far from Doha as possible.

And we'll have to finish in America. I received a letter last week from an old friend whose son has just returned from military duties in Iraq. And he's been wandering the Pisgah mountains in the US with a group of schoolkids in an area where he noticed a lot of military training going on a year ago, and... Well, I'll let him tell you the story. "I had seen nothing more up there until this past week, when C-130s and C-17s suddenly were making low runs through the high mountain valleys. There were also military helicopters around. It may mean nothing, but it may indicate something for the future. I am enclosing some photos of the area to give you an idea of what it is like. Perhaps it reminds you of somewhere."

And I looked carefully through my friend's snapshots of rocky mountainsides and thick forests. And, darn me if they didn't remind me of the Elborz mountain chain just outside Tehran."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sayyed Nasrallah: We Must Overcome Problems of Past


"15/08/2008 Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah addressed the Lebanese Thursday night in a televised speech to mark the 2nd anniversary of the 2006 victory on Israel.......

Sayyed Nasrallah asserted that "the results of the war are evident even today, in both the military and political fields in Israel." He said Israel is facing the worst leadership crisis in its history.

"The entire front line of the army's brass stepped down because of the war. Gal Hirsch, who was defeated in Lebanon, went to Georgia and they too lost because of him," his eminence said.

For the past seven years, Israeli companies have been helping the Georgian army to preparer for war against Russia through arms deals, training of infantry units and security advice

Hirsch, a brigadier-general in the reserves, served as commander of the Israeli Army’s Galilee Division during the war and resigned in its wake. In recent years he consulted the Georgian army on the establishment of elite units and rearmament, and gave various courses in the fields of combat intelligence and fighting in built-up areas.

"Relying on Israeli experts and weapons, Georgia learned why the Israeli generals failed. What happened in Georgia is a message to all those who accept that Washington entangles them in adventures, miscalculated wars and dead-end confrontation. In the end, the US (administration) will abandon them because its interests are above anything else, just as they did to their allies in Lebanon.”......"

Too Big to Fail, by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Israel claims troops acted properly in killing of Gaza journalist

Report, PCHR, 14 August 2008

"The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the official response of the Israeli military Advocate-General to the death of a Reuters cameraman and three other civilians, including two children, who were killed in Juhor al-Dik in the central Gaza Strip, on 16 April 2008. The cameraman, Fadel Shana'a, and the other civilians were killed by an Israeli tank crew, who, according to Israeli military advocate-general Brigadier General Avihai Mendelblit, acted properly and will therefore not face any legal action for killing these four unarmed civilians.
PCHR believes this response once again underlines the chronic failure of the state of Israel and its occupation forces to conduct proper investigations into the hundreds of crimes they have committed against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory....."

B'tselem: IDF only launched 4 probes into 189 Palestinian deaths

"Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem on Thursday relayed that since the start of 2007, it had asked the Israel Defense Forces to investigate 99 incidents in which 189 Palestinians were killed ? but the army only actually launched probes in four of the instances.

B'Tselem also Thursday harshly criticized the Military Advocate General, Brig. Gen. Avihai Mandelblit, over his decision to close the investigation into the death of a Reuters cameraman in the Gaza Strip last April.

The army cleared the IDF tank crew that killed the journalist of any wrongdoing and said the soldiers will not face any disciplinary action. B'Tselem branded this decision as extremely unreasonable......"

Set-up complete: Georgia the new Vietnam

by Larry Chin
Global Research, August 14, 2008

"....There is a good reason why Kissinger and the Bush family appeared so relaxed at the Beijing Olympic Games. The top echelons of the Anglo-American empire have already set up the “chessboard,” with multiple contingencies. It’s all been taken care of.

Barring miraculous developments, Georgia has become the new Vietnam, complete with fear of commies, oil supplies threatened (genuinely as well as fictionally), and real world war. The perfect planetary conflagration.

Rank and file Americans, the entire world, may be sick of war and deception, but fear of a mightily-armed Russia -- a true, living superpower adversary that actually dropped bombs and rolled in tanks -- could do the trick in a way that 9/11 and phantom terrorists did not.

Watch Bush/Cheney. They are not done."

Rice arrives in Tbilisi with peace plan for Georgia and Russia

(Cartoon by Steve Bell)

Manufacturing Consent to Attack Iran: U.S.: Hezbollah training Iraqi militants in Iran

"Iraqi Shiite explosive and assassination teams are being trained in at least four locations in Iran by Tehran's elite Quds force and Lebanese Hezbollah, according to intelligence gleaned from captured militia fighters and other sources in Iraq.

A senior U.S. military intelligence officer in Baghdad also said the fighters planned to return to Iraq in the next few months to kill specific Iraqi officials as well as U.S. and Iraqi forces...."

Mikheil Saakashvili: War Criminal

A politician's hubris causes untold human suffering

By Justin Raimondo

"Amid all the geopolitical analyses and ideological posturing on the occasion of the Three-Day War between Russia and Georgia, we are losing sight of the very real human costs of this conflict: thousands of civilians killed and grievously wounded, a city, Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, in ruins, and the hopes and dreams of the inhabitants of this largely overlooked backwater dashed on the rocks of a politician's hubris.

That politician is Mikheil Saakashvili, the all too glib president of Georgia, whose slickness is so apparent that it seems to leave an oily residue on every word he utters......

The U.S. is now delivering "humanitarian" aid under the aegis and protection of the U.S. military, a gesture that underscores the Bizarro World absurdity of a foreign policy that has us arming the Georgians and then paying to clean up the damage done by our proxies. This is truly an odd sort of "humanitarianism," one inextricably linked to the inveterate sadism of our foreign policy.

This "humanitarian" gambit is just that: a device designed to legitimize our growing intervention in the region. While Defense Secretary Robert Gates is clearly not at all thrilled by the prospect of U.S. soldiers entering the battle zone, it seems unavoidable, at some point, since we'll be supervising "humanitarian" flights and relief efforts. (Not to mention future military joint exercises involving U.S. and Georgian forces, such as the ones that concluded shortly before the war commenced.) With Russian troops intent on staying in Ossetia, Abkhazia, and other regions such as Adjaria eager to take this opportunity to break free of the Georgian central government, the likelihood of renewed fighting is high....... "

Al-Jazeera Video: Mahmoud Darwish remembered - 14 Aug 08

Part 1

Part 2

Real News Video: China's top 1% control 70% of wealth

Professor Minqi Li : Winners and losers in new China, Part 2

Minqi Li: "Throughout the 1990s, maybe 70 or 80 percent of the state industrial sector was privatized. And as a result, between 30 million and 60 million of the state-sector and the collective-sector workers lost their jobs in that period of time."

Real News Video: Russia-Asia cooperation a nightmare for US hawks

F William Engdahl: The Geopolitics of Georgia (3 of 3)

"Russia and Georgia swapped accusations today presenting a huge challenge to the EU-sponsored ceasefire agreement designed to end seven days of fighting. The accord had envisioned Russian and Georgian forces returning to their original positions. These conditions have yet to be met. The United Nations estimates 100-thousand people have been uprooted by the fighting, including 12-thousand South Ossetians who fled north into Russia. F William Engdahl believes that "Russia China and the nations of Eurasia are beginning to cooperate politically and economically and this is a nightmare for Washington.""

Little to do, lots to learn for impotent US

By Rupert Cornwell
The Independent

"Russia's military crushing of Georgia confronts the US with a stark choice – whether to challenge Moscow in its own backyard, ortacitly concede its sphere of influence there. Already, however, it has taught Washington a harsh lesson: either way, nothing the US does can make much difference.

Yesterday, Robert Gates, the Defence Secretary and a veteran official who has dealt with Russia and the Soviet Union for 30 years, acknowledged the limits of America's power to influence the behaviour of its former superpower rival....."

Al-Qa'ida sends its warriors from Iraq to wage 'jihad' in Lebanon

Bomb attack in Tripoli has exposed the brutal infighting in the country's second city

By Robert Fisk

".....The truth is that Tripoli has slunk back into the civil war, block after block of gaunt, workless homes in which the Salafists and the "al-Islamists" and the haunted young men who have returned from their "jihad" against the Americans in Iraq now nestle and ponder a dangerous, frightening future amid these disgraceful battles.

In Tripoli, the fears of every Lebanese are brought to fulfillment; it's the cold fear of those "outside forces" that roam throughout the Middle East...."

Musharraf will be gone in days

The Pakistani president is likely quit soon. But don't expect democracy to rush in: the military's habits die hard

By Tariq Ali, Thursday August 14 2008

"There is never a dull moment in Pakistan. As the country moved from a moth-eaten dictatorship to a moth-eaten democracy the celebrations were muted. Many citizens wondered whether the change represented a forward movement.

Five months later, the moral climate has deteriorated still further. All the ideals embraced by the hopeful youth and the poor of the country – political morality, legality, civic virtue, food subsidies, freedom and equality of opportunity – once again lie at their feet, broken and scattered. The widower Bhutto and his men are extremely unpopular. The worm-eaten tongues of chameleon politicians and resurrected civil servants are on daily display. Removing Musharraf, who is even more unpopular, might win the politicians badly-needed popular support, but not for long.......

This is pure gibberish and convinces nobody. Over the last 50 years the US has worked mainly with the Pakistan army. This has been its preferred instrument. Nothing has changed. The question being asked now is how long it will be before the military is back at the helm."

By Steve Bell, The Guardian

Abbas’s henchmen torture old man from Nablus; now fighting for his life

From Anas al-Masri, Nablus

"An elderly man from Nablus is fighting for his life in a local hospital after undergoing severe physical and psychological torture at the hands of CIA-trained Palestinian security (PA) interrogators

The man, identified as Hajji Marwan K. Al-Khalili, had a massive stroke Thursday during a “torture session” at the Preventive Security headquarters in Nablus. According to his family, the torture included severe beating, using plastic hoses, electric shocks, hooding, shaking, and sleep deprivation.

Al-Khalili, 67, was abducted by PA security personnel at the Allenby border crossing on 5 August as he was returning home from Saudi Arabia where he performed Umra, or Minor Pilgrimage to Islam’s holy sites in Mecca and Madina.

Treating doctors told this reporter (on condition of anonymity given Fatah’s reign of terror in West Bank) that al-Khalili had a brain hemorrhage and that efforts were being made to save his life.

The PA security agencies have refused to allow his family and friends to visit him.

Earlier this year, interrogators loyal to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas tortured 45-year-old Majd al Barghouthi to death. Two investigation committees concluded that the man was tortured to death. PA officials, including PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had vowed to put an end to torture in PA jails and lockups.

However, torture, even on a wider scale, persisted in PA jails as reported by victims recently freed. At least 5 Palestinians have been either murdered or tortured to death by PA security personnel since Hamas’s counter-coup in Gaza over a year ago.

In recent weeks, the PA rounded up hundreds of suspected Hamas supporters on charges of “endangering national security.” However, human rights groups in the occupied Palestinian territories agree that the charges are mostly disingenuous and that the real motive behind the sweeping arrests was revenge."

'US, Israel forsook Georgia amidst storm'

Press TV

"The Hezbollah leader says Georgia's failure in Ossetia is a lesson to those who go on blind adventures with the US and Israeli support.

"Georgia relied on Israeli Generals as well as Israeli weapons and faced failure", Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech marking the second anniversary of the 33-day war with Israel in summer 2006.

The remarks were made shortly after Georgia faced a harsh response from Russia in its military action to retake control of South Ossetia last week.

The Hezbollah leader said "what happened in Georgia is a message to all those (governments) who rely on America's support and encouragement to go on adventures and wars which has not been studied".

Many believe the US military support and its trumpeting of Tblisi's NATO membership encouraged President Mikheil Saakashvili to launch the attack.

Analysts say Saakashvili miscalculated the Russian response to his forces entering the breakaway region. He waged the war but was not able to convince any NATO countries to support him.

"What America does is just to make statements".... urge nations to risk military "confrontations which see no end and at the end abandon" the embattled nation, Nasrallah said.

Tbilisi's failure, however could be a salutary lesson to its neighbors inclined to confront Moscow from under the US or Israeli security umbrella. "

Breaking the Gaza siege

The courage and determination of one small group who refuse to stand by and watch Gaza starve is a lesson to us all

By Ghada Karmi
(professor at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, and author of Married to Another Man: Israel's Dilemma in Palestine)

Al-Ahram Weekly

".....The point that struck me most forcibly about this mission was that its organisers were non- Arabs. Filled with revulsion at the Warsaw Ghetto Israel has created in Gaza, they told me they felt driven to act. But this ghetto is Arab and sits in Arab land. So where were the Arab activists in this? Why was this not one of many Arab- organised attempts at breaking Gaza's siege? Where was the Arab refusal to stand by in the face of such oppression and injustice? The plight of Gaza almost beggars belief in its horror, a man-made catastrophe of starving people and malnourished children, without adequate fuel, electricity or medicines. All these depredations are well documented by humanitarian organisations, the United Nations and numerous eyewitnesses. President Jimmy Carter, quoted in The Guardian newspaper 8 May, summed it up: "The world is witnessing a terrible human rights crime in Gaza, where a million and a half human beings are being imprisoned with almost no access to the outside world. An entire population is being brutally punished."

No one can deny Israel's signal role in creating this tragedy, nor the deplorable complicity of the US and its European partners in maintaining it. But we need to recognise the Arab role also in this victimisation of Gaza's people. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of the Rafah crossing. Gaza's borders have been controlled by Israel for over 40 years. In June 2007, Israel sealed these borders almost completely. Soon after, it reduced humanitarian aid entering Gaza to a minimum and then cut off fuel and energy supplies to the Strip. The only window onto the outside world for the besieged Gazans opened through Rafah into Egypt, a fellow Arab country where surely they would find relief. Or so one might believe......"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

No Comment Needed....
By Emad Hajjaj

"Moral Grounds" by Carlos Latuff

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Challenging the siege from Rafah to Cyprus

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip, July 2008.

Rami Almeghari writing from occupied Gaza Strip, The Electronic Intifada, 14 August 2008

"On Sunday, hundreds of Hamas supporters, many stranded Gaza patients, students and travelers, took part in a rally at the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing terminal in southern Gaza, against the continued closure of the terminal for the past 14 months and calling on Egypt to reopen it. Organized by the ruling Hamas party, the attendees blamed the Egyptian leadership for the terminal closure, saying that this crossing, Gaza's sole outlet to the outside world, should be opened under joint Palestinian-Egyptian control.....

Meanwhile, across the Mediterranean Sea forty international aid workers, human rights activists, intellectuals and journalists are attempting to sail from Cyprus to Gaza, in solidarity with the 1.5 million residents of the besieged coastal enclave. Called the Free Gaza Movement, the organizers are determined to break the siege of Gaza despite the Israeli warning to prevent their entry and it is expected to arrive in the next two days......."

Georgia president denies Israel halted military aid due to war

"Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili denied on Wednesday night that Israel has suspended its military aid to the country. "I haven't heard anything about that, and I haven't had time to think about that issue for some days," he told Haaretz.

Saakashvili said he is aware of problems with supplying the pilotless drones that his army ordered from Israeli companies, but not of the stopping of any other shipments of military aid.

"The Israeli weapons have proved very effective," he said at a press conference at his office. When asked whether the Israeli arms played a role in the military successes he claimed the Georgian army had achieved, he joked: "Are you asking me as a representative of Elbit or of Israel Aerospace Industries?"....."

The PLO Must Go Back to Its Roots

By Frank Barat – Nablus, West Bank
Palestine Chronicle

"On Saturday the 9th of August we headed out to upper Nablus where we'd arranged an interview with the ex-mayor of the city, Bassam Shaka......

Why do you think that Mahmoud Abbas continues to meet with Israel and act as if progress were made towards a just peace?

Our people are not with Mahmoud Abbas. You have to remember that Hamas got 70 percent of the vote in the last elections. This was a big victory for Hamas, by a large margin. Mahmoud Abbas first priority is to be friend with the USA and the international community. The will of his people comes after. He thinks he deals on equal terms with Israel that he is on the same level. Like many members of the P.A. they think that they are bigger than they really are. Some of them think that after peace will be established with Israel they will rule the whole Arab world. A fantasy. They are getting more and more power while their people are getting weaker and weaker. They begin to think like imperialists......

Should the Palestinian Authority be dismantled, then?

The Palestine Liberation Organization must return as a representative of our people. It must return to its roots before it completely looses itself. The P.L.O. was created to continue the struggle against the occupier and to fight for our national rights and the respect of international law. Many countries recognized the P.L.O before they recognized Israel! The P.L.O is as rich as Kuwait, they have millions! We have the facts for us. We have international law for us. We have respect of human rights for us. We need to win back the moral higher ground. We can do this by being a lot more active with the media, by publicizing our struggle a lot more. Unfortunately this is really hard. I am going to give you an example. A few months ago we tried to organize a big meeting with newspapers offices around the West Bank. They all refused because they were afraid of the repercussions. We recently had a meeting with a small newspaper from the West Bank. They were threatened that if the meeting was to happen, they will face problems in the future. They still came. The next day the newspaper office was burned down. Listen, the media is under control. If they go against big states, they get no money. That is why most of them support Mahmoud Abbas, for the money. However, there is still one option. We need the internationals to come to Palestine in bigger number than ever. Then we need them to go back to their home countries and to tell the Palestinian story. To make people think outside the box. The information is there. People coming here can go back and help others to open a little door. Then, everything could change for the best."

'I've never heard anything so monstrous as people shelling a hospital'

Tom Parfitt travelled to Tskhinvali, in a trip organised by the Kremlin, to witness first hand the destruction caused by the battle for South Ossetia

By Tom Parfitt, Wednesday August 13 2008

The Lobby Like No Other Wants a War Like No Other

by Michael Scheuer

"Having watched John McCain and Barack Obama resolutely pledge their allegiance – and their countrymen's lives and treasure – to the defense of Israel via AIPAC, the media, and personal meetings with Israeli leaders, it is worth asking what could possibly drive these men to so ardently commit America to participation in other people's religious wars. This question is particularly important today as the Bush administration and the Israel-firsters continue to push for an unprovoked U.S. attack on Iran......

Objectively, three realities are clear: (1) U.S. survival is not at stake in the Israeli-Muslim war; (2) the taxes of Americans should not be spent to defend theocratic states; and (3) holy books are insane tools to use as guides for U.S. foreign policy. In America, however, these realities lie unspoken because of the lobbying efforts of AIPAC and the pro-Israel mantras of the politicians it purchases with campaign contributions and promises of media exposure, including McCain and Obama. By their consistent anti-American actions, AIPAC and the U.S. politicians who do its bidding have fully validated the words of the real George Washington – not the figment of Washington painted by Joe Lieberman. "Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence," President Washington wrote in 1796, "the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government." "

Al-Jazeera Video:Riz Khan- the legacy of Mahmoud Darwish

Part 1

Part 2

Real News Video: Winners and losers in the new China

Prof. Minqi Li, a former political prisoner, on Confucianism, capitalism and harmony for who (1 of 4)

"Minqi Li: "On June 3, about one year occasion of the 1989 thing, and I was giving a speech in a student assembly within the Beijing University campus. And I was arrested and later sentenced to a two year imprisonment... It was out of a very spontaneous student assembly. And I only had a chance to speak for three or four minutes. So, really, just a few short sentences.""

Real News Video: Nuclear war by miscalculation

F William Engdahl: The geopolitics of Georgia (part 2)

"ENGDAHL: Russia went into Georgia to essentially deliver a message. There are more than 1,000 US military special forces in Georgia doing exercising, training Georgian troops, before Georgia launched the attack on Ossetia on 8 August. There are 1,000 Israeli troops at least, private security firms and military advisors, including advisors who are upgrading the Georgian air force in an installation near Tbilisi. That's what the Russian airplanes hit, and they essentially made the military strike on South Ossetia militarily impossible by making incursions inside Georgian territory before they announced that they were calling a halt to their military operations."

Good vs.Bad War Criminals by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

This is a tale of US expansion not Russian aggression

War in the Caucasus is as much the product of an American imperial drive as local conflicts. It's likely to be a taste of things to come

By Seumas Milne
The Guardian, Thursday August 14 2008

".....By any sensible reckoning, this is not a story of Russian aggression, but of US imperial expansion and ever tighter encirclement of Russia by a potentially hostile power. That a stronger Russia has now used the South Ossetian imbroglio to put a check on that expansion should hardly come as a surprise. What is harder to work out is why Saakashvili launched last week's attack and whether he was given any encouragement by his friends in Washington.

If so, it has spectacularly backfired, at savage human cost. And despite Bush's attempts to talk tough yesterday, the war has also exposed the limits of US power in the region. As long as Georgia proper's independence is respected - best protected by opting for neutrality - that should be no bad thing. Unipolar domination of the world has squeezed the space for genuine self-determination and the return of some counterweight has to be welcome. But the process of adjustment also brings huge dangers. If Georgia had been a member of Nato, this week's conflict would have risked a far sharper escalation. That would be even more obvious in the case of Ukraine - which yesterday gave a warning of the potential for future confrontation when its pro-western president threatened to restrict the movement of Russian ships in and out of their Crimean base in Sevastopol. As great power conflict returns, South Ossetia is likely to be only a taste of things to come. "

"Israeli policy won't change with a new PM"

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, The Electronic Intifada, 13 August 2008

"CAIRO (IPS) - With Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's recent resignation announcement, the self-proclaimed Jewish state is headed for new leadership. Egyptian commentators, though, entertain few hopes that Olmert's successor -- whoever he or she may be -- will temper Israel's hard-line approach to the peace process.......

.....According to Gamal Zahran, political science professor at Suez Canal University and independent member of parliament, major shifts in Israeli domestic politics represent little more than theater, staged with the aim of pre-empting a final settlement on Palestine.

"Whenever the Israelis come under pressure to reach a workable agreement with the Arabs, they come up with dramatic new distractions, like resignations or early elections -- anything to put off a settlement," Zahran told IPS.

Zahran scoffed at past promises by Olmert -- and backed by US President George W. Bush -- to reach a mutually acceptable final agreement on the outlines of a Palestinian state by the end of 2008.

"Every year they promise the establishment of a Palestinian state, and every time something happens to derail it," he said. "It's obvious: the Israelis are just killing time in order to maintain the status quo."

Echoing a sentiment that has become increasingly prevalent as official negotiations founder, Zahran added: "A Palestinian state will never come into being except by means of armed resistance.""

A Repost of an Excellent 3-Part Article: HOW HEZBOLLAH DEFEATED ISRAEL

By Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry
Asia Times

October 12-14, 2006

Part 1: Winning the Intelligence War
Part 2: Winning the Ground War
Part 3: The Political War


Because winning is no accident!

14th of August: The Story of "Divine Victory"


"14/08/2008 The 14th of August is not just a date like any other. It is a remarkable day in the history of the Lebanese and Arab peoples as it briefs the story of the "Divine Victory".

In July 2006, Lebanon witnessed a severe Israeli aggression against its people, land and infrastructure, but the steadfastness of the honorable Lebanese and the bravery of its resistance fighters made him victoriously pass this stage......

Hezbollah was already fighting a domestic political war aimed at disarming the resistance. The political war was backed by the West and the international community that issued UN resolution 1559. The resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council on September 2, 2004 called upon Lebanon to establish its sovereignty over all of its land and called upon "foreign forces" to withdraw from Lebanon and to cease intervening in the internal politics of Lebanon. The resolution also called on all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias to disband and declared support for a "free and fair electoral process". Hezbollah, a legitimate resistance force under the policy statement and not a militia, considered itself not intended in the resolution.

Israel was seeing Hezbollah’s force growing bigger everyday. Its humiliating withdrawal from most Lebanese territories in 2000 under the strikes of the resistance was Israel’s first defeat in its history. Revenge was the only way to restore the broken image of Israel’s “unbeatable army.”......


Despite the massive destruction, massacres and the environmental catastrophe caused by the Israeli aggression, the balance sheet of the Second Lebanon War certainly did not point to an Israeli Army victory, particularly after the first week of the war. Hezbollah's fire power, particularly its long, medium and short range missiles maintained high efficiency and gradually targeted Israeli settlements from northern occupied lands southwards, even threatening Tel Aviv. Israel's air force bank of targets dried out and the military command refrained from authorizing a land operation arguing that its soldiers were ill prepared. When the uncoordinated military command ultimately chose to launch a land operation, its soldiers and heavily protected and sophisticated Merkava tanks were dealt a serious blow in the Valley of Hojeir, the plain of Khiam, Taybeh and Odaissa.

Israel unpleasantly admitted the fact that its army did not achieve victory, not only because of the failed conduct of its leaders, but rather, because Hezbollah, according to the Israelis themselves, was more effective and determined. Despite of Washington's firm objection, the Israeli leadership sought a ceasefire without delay......"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The West is helping PA torment Palestinians

By Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah

"....Today, much of the western “financial aid” provided to the Ramallah-based regime is being utilized to consolidate a police- state structure, actually a police state without a state since the Israeli occupation army continues to tightly control all parts of the occupied territories, including the vicinity of Mahmoud Abbas’s own headquarters.

According to reliable sources, more than one third of the PA budget, which is based on "donations" from western and oil-rich Arab donors, goes to the security agencies which operate with virtually no legal or moral restrictions......

We all know that the Raison d’être behind the very existence of the PA security apparatus is to repress Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation. Otherwise, Israel wouldn’t have allowed the US and other countries to bankroll, train, and arm these “Palestinian forces.”......

They are arresting, maltreating and torturing innocent people. They are imprisoning journalists who are carrying out their duties as journalists. They are closing down and vandalizing social, cultural, academic and other institutions in utter violation of the rule of law.

In short, there is a reign of terror being fostered all over the West Bank under the pretext of “fighting Hamas.”.....

A few weeks ago, the PA arrested three journalists in the West Bank on manifestly frivolous charges such as “endangering national security” and “creating divisions within the people.”

These journalists, including Awadh Rajoub, a correspondent for the Arabic service of the, are still languishing in PA lockups and jails......

Moreover, dozens of community leaders, religious officials, elected mayors, as well as college students are being jailed and probably tortured by security interrogators......

In recent days, the PA security forces even began arresting lawyers defending illegally-held detainees. Human rights sources in the West Bank have reported that Advocates Muhammed Farrah from Hebron and Fadel Bushnaq from the northern West Bank are languishing in PA jails......"

Using Georgia to Target Russia

By Stephen Lendman

".......It called on NATO to "respond forcefully....start today (and said) this is perhaps the last chance for President Bush to salvage any kind of positive legacy toward Russia (by) rally(ing) the West's response." Putin seeks to "dominat(e)....the world stage. Unless Russians see that there are costs for their Napoleon's expansionism, Georgia isn't likely to be his last stop."

Welcome to the new Cold War and new Great Game, what a new administration will inherit next year, and the very worrisome thought that it will handle things no better than the current one no matter who's elected or which party controls Congress."

Detained Legislators slam the arrest of the head of the Ahrar Center for Detainees Studies

The PA working as hand in glove with Israel

"Detained Palestinian Legislators, members of the Hamas’ Change and Reform Parliamentary Bloc, slammed the Palestinian security forces for arresting Fuad Al Khuffash, 34, a Palestinian human rights activist and the head of the Ahrar Center For Detainees Studies.

Al Kuffash was taken prisoner on Monday in the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

The detained legislators, imprisoned in Majiddo Israeli prison, stated that Al Khuffash always defended the detainees regardless of their political affiliation.

They added that the Ahrar Center in Ramallah became the voice of the Arab and Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons.

The legislators called or for the immediate and unconditional release of Al Khuffash.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees called on all human rights groups in Palestine to act for the release of Al Khuffash who also heads the main office of the ministry in the West Bank.

Riyadh Al Ashqar, head of the Media Department at the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees, stated that Al Khuffash was arrested four times by the Palestinian security forces and was detained without any charges.

Al Ashqar added that Al Kuffash started working at the Ministry of Detainees eight years ago and was repeatedly kidnapped and imprisoned by the Israeli forces."

Trapped – collective punishment in Gaza

Amnesty International

"The blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip over a year ago has left the entire population of 1.5 million Palestinians trapped with dwindling resources and an economy in ruins. Some 80 per cent of the population now depend on the trickle of international aid that the Israeli army allows in. This humanitarian crisis is man-made and entirely avoidable......."

Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy?

By Robert Scheer

"Is it possible that this time the October surprise was tried in August, and that the garbage issue of brave little Georgia struggling for its survival from the grasp of the Russian bear was stoked to influence the U.S. presidential election?......"

Report: Syria fears Israel strike, taking preventive steps

"Syria's leadership fears that a drill conducted Tuesday by the Israel Defense Forces in the Golan Heights may develop into a military offensive against Damascus, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Watan reported Wednesday.

Syrian sources told the daily that Damascus has taken several preventive measures against a possible Israeli strike. The sources added that the IDF drill in the north is increasing tensions in the region and is not in line with recent peace initiatives......."

Iraq: U.S. Blamed for Increasing Iranian Influence

By Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail

"BAQUBA, Aug 13 (IPS) - Haider returned from Iran recently, with enough money to pay for his wedding and a new car. He was trained to join Badr, the armed wing of the Dawa Party of U.S.-backed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Many more come where he recently came from.

Badr is being trained ostensibly to defend Shia leaders, under increased attacks from militant groups. Dawa is a Shia dominated party, and inevitably looks to Shia Iran for support......"

WPost and the Great Disconnect

By Robert Parry
August 13, 2008

"On Tuesday, the sub-head for the Washington Post’s lead editorial read, “The West confronts an unfamiliar sight: a nation bent on conquest.”

The nation in question, of course, was Russia and the “conquest” was its border clash with neighboring Georgia over two breakaway provinces that want to join the Russian Federation.

But an objective person might note that the sight of “a nation bent on conquest” shouldn’t be “unfamiliar” to Western nations unless they don’t look in the mirror. For example, the United States – with its “coalition of the willing” – invaded and conquered Iraq in 2003......."

'Poor Little Georgia' – Not!

Bill Kristol and the Menshevik myth of democratic Georgia

By Justin Raimondo

"The commander in chief of America's laptop bombardiers, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, can always be counted on to reveal not only the content of the neoconservative party line, but also, in so many words, the impulse that motivates it. In his latest peroration from his perch at the New York Times, the intellectual architect of our disastrous war in Iraq lays out a rationale for yet another catastrophic blunder in the foreign policy realm, this time in the Caucasus......."

Real News Video: Iraqi children fight on all sides

Alive in Baghdad: Boys leave school and risk life for $300/month

"We show this segment courtesy of Alive in Baghdad employs Iraqi journalists to produce video packages each week about a variety of topics on daily life in Iraq.

Iraq, Baghdad - The international media broadcast news of the creation of a new tribal force in Iraq, the Al-Sahwa, or “Awakening” Forces, with much fanfare. It has been repeatedly said that they are the newest, if not last best, hope to repair the security situation in Iraq generally, and Sunni areas particularly. However, one thing the international media has not paid much attention to is the age of the Fighters in the new Al-Sahwa Forces......."

Real News Video: The geopolitics of Georgia

"US attempts to get Georgia into NATO, coupled with its desire to erect an anti-missile defense shield in Poland and the Czech republic would give it first strike capability towards Russia. Moscow sees this as a national security threat against the sovereignty of Russia. Political economist F William Engdahl believes this is the geopolitical endgame being played out in Georgia."

Bush rebuking Russia? Putin must be splitting his sides

Moscow has to take some of the blame. But it is the west's policy of liberal interventionism that has fuelled war in Georgia

Simon Jenkins
The Guardian, Wednesday August 13 2008

".....The parallels are glaring. If we backed Kosovo against the Serbs, why not back South Ossetia against the Georgians? But if we backed the Kurds against the Iraqis, why not the Georgians against Russia? Indeed, had Nato admitted Georgia to full membership, there is no knowing what Caucasian horror might have ensued from the resulting treaty obligation. Decisions which in Washington and London may seem casual gestures of ideological solidarity can mean peace and war on the ground......."

Abu Marzouk: Closing Rafah crossing reflects inhuman image

"DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Hamas has asserted that it did not bear any grudge against Egypt but underlined that closing the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza reflected an "inhuman image" that was not popularly welcome in Egypt itself.

Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy political bureau chairman of Hamas, told Quds Press on Tuesday that there was no dispute between his Movement and Egypt.

He added that no serious problems existed between the two parties despite the campaign waged by Egyptian media following the Shujaia events.

The Hamas leader ruled out that his Movement would look for another intermediary in the issue of the exchange of prisoners with Israel, adding that the Egyptians are called upon to endorse what has been agreed upon.

Hamas harbors no negative attitude towards Egypt and the rallies by MPs and Hamas leaders along with Palestinian masses at the Rafah crossing did not reflect a "collapse" in the relations between Hamas and the Egyptian government, Abu Marzouk underlined."

COMMENT: Hamas seems to be stuck and flailing around, and that is not reassuring. Abu Marzouk is basically second in command, so his views must reflect the view from the top.

One day Hamas implies that Egypt is a partner with Israel in the suffocating siege, which is true. Now Hamas says that it "harbors no negative attitude towards Egypt!" Previously Hamas expressed frustration that Egypt seems to be acting as a messenger for Israel in the prisoners negotiations, and some in Hamas suggested replacing Egypt as a mediator. Now Abu Marzouk rules that out. A few days ago Hamas expressed anger that Egypt (with US training and equipment) is blowing up, using poison gas, and flooding with water the tunnels under the border with Rafah. This systematic campaign by Egypt, with USraeli instructions has killed dozens of Palestinians. So, Egypt is more than a partner with Israel in the siege; Egypt is actively killing Palestinians desperately trying to smuggle badly needed basic survival necessities.

This lack of clarity, and I would say confusion, on the part of Hamas goes beyond just playing politics. I am afraid it represents the absence of a real strategy. One day Palestinians are massed at the crossing and Hamas threatens to storm the ghetto wall. Next day Hamas says that it has no intention of storming the wall!

Hamas blew it when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians revolted in a mass uprising that toppled the wall; a move that captured the world's imagination. After that Hamas fell into the trap I warned against at the time. The Pharaoh bought time to absorb the popular anger and energy (in both Gaza and Egypt itself). Hamas cooperated with the Egyptian "security" goons to reseal the border. Hamas bought empty promises by the Pharaoh, promises he never intended to keep. Now a new and stronger ghetto wall has been built by the Pharaoh and Hamas is still buying empty promises by the Pharaoh about opening the Rafah crossing and about the prisoner exchange.

When will Hamas learn? Or is it more than just learning. I am afraid that this reflects the nature of the movement and its strategy in coming to power. Let us not forget that Hamas grew out of the Muslim Brothers movement in Egypt and it still has strong ties with that movement. Muslim Brothers' strategy is to come to power through elections and not to form a social and political revolution. The same strategy is being followed in Jordan. The problem is that the Usraeli-dominated regimes in Egypt and Jordan are not stupid, and will not allow real elections that will permit the Islamists to come to power. Therein lies the predicament of the Muslim brothers and Hamas.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another "Moderate" Signal From the Rabbit to Washington

Iraq, Syria to reopen joint oil pipeline

Azzaman, August 11, 2008

"Iraq and Syria have agreed on terms to revitalize an idle pipeline that used to carry Iraqi crude to Syrian terminals on the Mediterranean, according to an official statement.

The statement issued at the end of a visit by Iraqi Trade Minister Abdulfalah al-Sudani to Syria said oil will flow in the pipeline once repairs to certain sections in Iraqi territory are completed.

Prior to the U.S. invasion of the country, the line carried nearly 300,000 barrels of oil to international markets. But U.S. bombing of Iraq during the invasion damaged certain parts of the pipeline. If fully operational, the pipeline can carry as much as 1 million barrels a day. But that capacity is difficult to attain without major repairs and investment.

The deal to jointly work together to have the pipeline running again comes following an agreement the countries signed recently to hike value of bilateral trade to $1 billion a year......"

Tel Aviv to Tbilisi: Israel's role in the Russia-Georgia war

A Good Piece
By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 12 August 2008

"From the moment Georgia launched a surprise attack on the tiny breakaway region of South Ossetia last week, prompting a fierce Russian counterattack, Israel has been trying to distance itself from the conflict. This is understandable: with Georgian forces on the retreat, large numbers of civilians killed and injured, and Russia's fury unabated, Israel's deep involvement is severely embarrassing.

The collapse of the Georgian offensive represents not only a disaster for that country and its US-backed leaders, but another blow to the myth of Israel's military prestige and prowess. Worse, Israel fears that Russia could retaliate by stepping up its military assistance to Israel's adversaries including Iran......

By helping Georgia, Israel may have been doing its part to duplicate its own experience in assisting the eastward expansion of the "Euro-Atlantic" empire. While supporting Georgia was certainly risky for Israel, given the possible Russian reaction, it has a compelling reason to intervene in a region that is heavily contested by global powers. Israel must constantly reinvent itself as an "asset" to American power if it is to maintain the US support that ensures its survival as a settler-colonial enclave in the Middle East. It is a familiar role; in the 1970s and 1980s, at the behest of Washington, Israel helped South Africa's apartheid regime fight Soviet-supported insurgencies in South African-occupied Namibia and Angola, and it trained right-wing US-allied death squads fighting left-wing governments and movements in Central America. After 2001, Israel marketed itself as an expert on combating "Islamic terrorism."

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez recently denounced Colombia - long one of the largest recipients of US military aid after Israel -- as the "Israel of Latin America." Georgia's government, to the detriment of its people, may have tried to play the role of the "Israel of the Caucasus" -- a loyal servant of US ambitions in that region -- and lost the gamble. Playing with empires is dangerous for a small country.

As for Israel itself, with the Bush Doctrine having failed to give birth to the "new Middle East" that the US needs to maintain its power in the region against growing resistance, an ever more desperate and rogue Israel must look for opportunities to prove its worth elsewhere. That is a dangerous and scary thing."

Remembering Mahmoud Darwish

Tribute, The Electronic Intifada, 11 August 2008

".....Over the next few days, EI will be publishing a number of tributes to Darwish. We begin with his own words, his 1964 poem "Identity Card," from his first collection, Leaves of Olives. The verses express the spirit resistance of Palestinians in the face exile and dispossession. Among his best known poems, it has lost none of its power a generation after it was first written.

"Identity card"

Write down!
I am an Arab
And my identity card number is fifty thousand
I have eight children
And the ninth will come after a summer
Will you be angry?

Write down!
I am an Arab
Employed with fellow workers at a quarry
I have eight children
I get them bread
Garments and books
from the rocks ...
I do not supplicate charity at your doors
Nor do I belittle myself at the footsteps of your chamber
So will you be angry?

Write down!
I am an Arab
I have a name without a title
Patient in a country
Where people are enraged
My roots
Were entrenched before the birth of time
And before the opening of the eras
Before the pines, and the olive trees
And before the grass grew

My father ... descends from the family of the plow
Not from a privileged class
And my grandfather ... was a farmer
Neither well-bred, nor well-born!
Teaches me the pride of the sun
Before teaching me how to read
And my house is like a watchman's hut
Made of branches and cane
Are you satisfied with my status?
I have a name without a title!

Write down!
I am an Arab
You have stolen the orchards of my ancestors
And the land which I cultivated
Along with my children
And you left nothing for us
Except for these rocks ...
So will the State take them
As it has been said?!

Write down on the top of the first page:
I do not hate poeple
Nor do I encroach
But if I become hungry
The usurper's flesh will be my food
Beware ...
Beware ...
Of my hunger
And my anger! "

PA continues its West Bank arrest campaign of Hamas supporters

Report, PCHR, 11 August 2008

"The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the attacks on private and civil society organizations and the continued arrests by Palestinian security forces of Hamas members in the West Bank. PCHR points to the continuation of the detention policy despite the decision issued by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on 31 July 2008 to release all Hamas political prisoners apprehended on the backdrop of the latest events in Gaza. PCHR calls upon the Palestinian government in Ramallah to cease its violations against civil society organizations, to end all forms of arbitrary arrests and to immediately release all political prisoners held by security services in the West Bank........

PCHR strongly condemns these violations, and:

1. Calls upon the government in Ramallah to stop the campaign against civil society organizations and to rescind all measures of closure and confiscation against these organizations.
2. Asserts that the right of association is ensured by the constitution and international human rights standards, and that all measures taken by security services and the Izzeddine al-Qassam Brigades violate Law #1 of 2000 Related to Charities and non-governmental organizations.
3. Calls for neutralizing the civil society from the conflict between Fatah and Hamas movements, and stresses that independence of the civil society and the vital role played by non-governmental organizations in providing social, economic, developmental and cultural services.
4. Calls for the immediate release of all political detainees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and reminds of the Palestinian High Court Decision of 20 February 1999 outlawing political arrests; and calls upon all executive parties to respect the High Court decision and retrain from conducting illegal political arrests."