Saturday, September 27, 2008

Syria FM hails 'positive' talks with Rice

"Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Saturday that he had held "positive" talks with his US counterpart Condoleezza Rice despite renewed criticism from Washington of his country's policies.

Muallem told the Dubai-based satellite channel Al-Arabiya that the meeting in New York on Friday was "positive and marked the start of an upcoming dialogue."

He said the US secretary of state had "voiced optimism about regional developments," particularly the resolution of the longstanding deadlock between pro- and anti-Damascus factions in Syria's smaller neighbour Lebanon.

He said she also expressed hope that indirect contacts between Syria and Israel on resuming peace talks would continue and said Washington was "prepared to have an input" in them......."

Real News Video with Pepe Escobar: Post-debate blues

Pepe Escobar shares his post-debate disappointment

New Poll

Please participate in the new poll. I am trying to gauge the right balance between text and graphics in the posts. On the one hand I believe in the power and the effectiveness of the picture. On the other hand, I know that loading all these graphic files takes time and space. Some have complained that it takes too long to load this blog. I talked to some and they said that they had no problems.

It boils down to the computer you have and the speed of the internet connection you are using. Still, I would like to hear your opinion, so please take a few seconds and vote.

(Click on cartoon by Baha Boukhari to enlarge)

On the occasion of the so-called International Day for Al-Quds (Jerusalem):


Al-Jazeera Video: One on One - Naomi Klein - Sept 26

Part 1

Part 2

Bush rescues Wall Street but leaves his soldiers to die in Iraq

Until the elections, the people in the Middle East are yesterday’s men

By Robert Fisk

".....By grotesque mischance, $700bn – the cost of George Bush's Wall Street rescue cash – is about the same figure as the same President has squandered on his preposterous war in Iraq, the war we have now apparently "won" thanks to the "surge" – for which, read "escalation" – in Baghdad. The fact that the fall in casualties coincides with the near-completion of the Shia ethnic cleansing of Sunni Muslims is not part of the story......

We are, in fact, now fighting a war in what I call Irakistan. It's hopeless; it's a mess; it's shameful; it's unethical and it's unwinnable and no wonder the Wall Street meltdown was greeted with such relief by Messrs Obama and McCain. They couldn't suspend their campaigns to discuss the greatest military crisis in America's history since Vietnam – but for Wall Street, no problem.....

Of course, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict no longer gets a look into the debate. McCain's visit to the Middle East and Obama's visit to the Middle East – in which they outdid each other in fawning to the Israeli lobby (Obama's own contribution surely earning him membership of the Knesset if not entry to the White House) – are safely in the past....... Twenty-five Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets are likely to be approved before the election. The Israeli-American talks were described as "the most senior bilateral high-technology dialogue ever between the two allies". Nothing to write home about, of course....."

The $700,000,000,000 Ark

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

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sadrists and Iran denounce US-Iraqi security pact

BAGHDAD - Thousands of Shiites rallied Friday against a proposed U.S.-Iraqi security pact, while one of Iran's most influential politicians urged Iraq's government and religious leaders to block the deal.

Followers of anti-U.S.cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have held weekly protests against the deal, which critics fear will extend American military, economic and political domination of the country. They got support Friday from former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

"Americans persistently want to impose the agreement, which surely does not support the interests of Iraq and is harmful to the future of Iraq," Rafsanjani said during a sermon in Tehran. "God willing, the Iraqi nation — with the awareness and leadership of clerics and the awareness of the Iraqi government — will not allow such a miserable event to happen."

Rafsanjani heads two of Iran's most powerful clerical governing bodies, the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari criticized Tehran for trying to interfere in the negotiations over the deal, which have stumbled over issues involving immunity and oversight for U.S. forces.

"The people who objected to the agreement right from the start were Hezbollah and the Mahdi Army and some officials in the Islamic Republic," he told U.S.-funded Alhurra TV, referring to Iran and two Shiite groups it allegedly supports.

"They have expressed strong objections regarding this issue. But in Iraq, we say, and this is the government stance, that this is a sovereign decision," he said, according to a transcript of the interview, which was held in New York.

Zebari also reiterated that Iraq has insisted as part of the deal that its territory would not be used "as a base or a launching pad for any aggressive actions against any neighboring country."

The proposed agreement, which has been under negotiation for most of this year, would replace the U.N. mandate. Any agreement must be ratified by the Iraqi parliament.

The main sticking points include Iraqi objections to blanket immunity for U.S. troops and private contractors and demands for oversight over American forces during raids and detentions.

With time running out, a U.S. negotiating team led by top State Department adviser David Satterfield returned this week to Iraq to continue talks.

The deal faces fierce public opposition in Iraq led by the Sadrists, whose leader is believed to be in Iran.

Protesters emerged from Friday prayers in Baghdad's main Shiite stronghold of Sadr City and the holy city of Kufa, chanting "No to the occupation" and "No to America" and raising pictures of al-Sadr and Iraqi flags.

Supporters believe the deal would help assure Iraq's Arab neighbors that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government would not become a satellite of Shiite-dominated Iran as the American military role here fades.

U.S. officials have accused Tehran of supporting violence in Iraq. Iran has denied the allegations.

Al-Sadr's decision to order his militia fighters to cease fire has been cited by the U.S. military as a key factor in a steep drop in violence nationwide, along with a U.S. troop buildup and a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq.

But attacks continue to strike U.S. forces as well as Iraqi civilians.

The U.S. military said a roadside bomb killed an American soldier Thursday during a combat patrol near Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad. It said the incident was under investigation.

At least 4,173 members of the U.S. military have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

When Archaeology Becomes a Curse

King David Recruited to Expel Palestinians


"From just outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls, the simple stone and cinder-block homes of Silwan cascade southwards into a valley known as the Holy Basin.

The Palestinian residents are used to living in the shadow of history and religion, given dramatic physical form as the great silver dome of the al Aqsa mosque and the looming presence of the Mount of Olives. But of late, history has become a curse for most of Silwan’s residents.

“We have cameras everywhere watching us night and day,” said Jawad Siyam, 39. “Armed Israeli guards wander through our alleys. Our open areas, the places where I played as a child, have become no-go zones.”

The reason is the growing number of settlers who have moved into Silwan since the early 1990s claiming a biblical right to the land. At least 50 Jewish families, comprising 250 people, have taken over Palestinian homes dotted across Silwan and turned them into secure compounds over which Israeli flags flutter......."

(Courtesy of the Peoples Voice)

Would You Buy a Used Car From These Two Crooks?

Taking Elder Peres Apart

By Gilad Atzmon
Palestine Think Tank

"Truth must be said, I do admire fierce President Ahmadinejad almost as much as I despise war criminal Shimon Peres.

However reading the rant Peres gave Wednesday during the UN’s General Assembly is a rather amusing experience. The man who has more blood on his hands than any living Israeli politician was rather daring....."

Pre-election Militarization of the North American Homeland. US Combat Troops in Iraq repatriated to " help with civil unrest"

by Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, September 26, 2008

"The Army Times reports that the 3rd Infantry’s 1st Brigade Combat Team is returning from Iraq to defend the Homeland, as "an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks." The BCT unit has been attached to US Army North, the Army's component of US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). (See Gina Cavallaro, Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1, Army Times, September 8, 2008).

"Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

It is not the first time an active-duty unit has been tapped to help at home. ...

But this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities......

A national emergency could be triggered. "[H]orrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive [attack]" or a so-called CBRNE type scenario. One assumes that this is some form of domestic attack, allegedly by terrorists.

But at the same time, the Bush administration may be seeking a justification to establish martial law and intervene militarily within the USA....."

Palestinian parties and organizations to Abbas: Right of return non-negotiable

Open letter, Various undersigned, 25 September 2008

"The following letter was presented to Palestinian Authority President and PLO Chairperson Mahmoud Abbas's office on behalf of 78 Palestinian organizations on Wednesday, 22 September 2008.....

We approach you with this statement based on our strong desire to chart a way forward that is built on the highest levels of clarity and candidness with the Palestinian people; a way forward that aims to strengthen the Palestinian position in this sensitive stage of the Palestinian struggle; a way forward that ensures that any framework for a solution will include the following principles in clear and immutable language:

1. The rights of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons to return, restitution and compensation are fundamental rights under international law and relevant UN resolutions -- particularly UN General Assembly Resolution 194 and UN Security Council Resolution 237. The content of these rights is non-negotiable irrespective of the manner in which they will be exercised;

2. The right of return is an individual right held by every Palestinian refugee and internally displaced person. This right is passed on from one generation to the next, based on the individual's choice on whether or not to return, an inalienable and indivisible right, and not affected by any bilateral, multilateral, or international treaty or agreement. Any such agreement must respect the fundamental precepts and principles of international law;

3. The right of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons to return is a collective right that is not limited to one group or another, and it is an integral part of the Palestinian right of self-determination;

4. The right of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons to return is not subject to referendum......"

Palestinians and Lebanon's Elections

By Franklin Lamb – Beirut
Palestine Chronicle

"....So what's in it for Hezbollah if they help the Palestinians?

Much will no doubt be written about Hezbollah's electoral prospects and program during the coming months, but one issue which Hezbollah is being lobbied on is improving the conditions of Lebanon's approximately 405,000 Palestinians (more than 10% of Lebanon's population), half of whom live as pariahs in 12 currently baking Palestinian Refugee Camps which will bcome fetid and swampy with fall rains.

Some Lebanese electoral strategists are advising Hezbollah "not to touch this sure loser constituency" for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that there is not one Palestinian vote to be had for Hezbollah in the coming election since Palestinians can't vote. Others counsel that Hezbollah needs to broaden its base among Lebanon's feuding 17 confessions, some of whom continue to blame the Palestinians for many of their woes. Still others have warned Hezbollah and to play down its vocal opposition to the US-Israel project of naturalizing the Palestinians in countries where they have been forced to settle.

Additionally, it is not forgotten that the PLO for years ran roughshod over many Shia in South Lebanon during its "state within a state" Rambo days. Some bitter Palestinian feelings also remain toward the Shia (Amal-on behalf of anti-Arafat Syria) attacks and widespread destruction and killing of more than 3,000 Palestinians during the 1986-89 'Camp Wars'. While Hezbollah refused to join the brutal assault on the camp Palestinians and worked to end it, other anti-Palestinian sentiments persist among some Shia from personal loses deemed to have been caused by PLO 'hoodlums' between the late 1970's and 1982.

Both groups appear willing to let bygones be bygones and Hezbollah is serious about its Islamic duty to help the Palestinians. Some in Hezbollah even argue that the Sunni PLO remains the step-mother of Shia Hezbollah. Did not the PLO train Iranian Islamist dissidents years before the successful 1979 Khomeini Revolution? Weren't Khomeini and Arafat close? Was it not the PLO's Abu Jihad (assassinated on the orders of Ariel Sharon exactly 6 years to the day, April 16, 1988 of the 1982 Massacre) who helped Islamist groups with weapons as the PLO prepared to sail from Beirut's ports in late August of 1982? Some of Hezbollah's key members had previously fought with the PLO. Some still feel a sense of nostalgia for "the good old days" of their adolescence.

As Hezbollah Secretary General Hasan Nassarallah has often stated, the Party has a moral, religious, and political duty to help return Lebanon's Palestinian Refugees to their stolen lands."

Iran: And the Beat Goes On

The beating of war drums, that is

By Justin Raimondo

"In a last-ditch, all-out effort to pave the way for war with Iran, Israel's lobby in the U.S. has inaugurated a new front group: United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI). What, "another" neocon front group – why is this important? With Richard Holbrooke, Obama's most prominent foreign policy advisor – and a likely Secretary of State or National Security Advisor in the Obama administration – joining neocon nutcase James R. Woolsey in the top leadership of this new group, the signal is clear: UANI represents a bipartisan call for war........"

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you foresee success for the Arab move in the Security Council to condemn Israeli expansion of Jewish colonies in the West Bank?

With over 4,000 responding so far, 94% said no.

After Georgia and George

Despite projections of a new cold war, the United States remains the power all turn eyes towards -- even those who are opposed to it

By Azmi Bishara
Al-Ahram Weekly

".....One can go on ad nauseam citing instances of such campaigns of deceit using the "respectable" press to build up a climate of hysteria and rally public opinion behind a war and, simultaneously, to refute opposing opinions and ostracise those who espouse them. Then, if the war effort is blessed with victory, the media will shower the administration with praise. But if not, it will condemn the administration with the same fervour while exempting itself from any culpability. What concerns us here is that the US's imperial "privilege" of being able to spread lies so easily by virtue of its domination over the means to shape tastes and control moods and to produce tears and create fears is still very much intact whatever one might say about the rising power of Russia and China. Here, in the industry of promoting cultures, fads and fictions, as well as in the industries of computers, advanced scientific research, military technology and the Internet, the mono-polar order still prevails and holds sway, even over the minds of opponents to the US. The world has never known an imperial regime that held such a totalitarian grip over the media."

Real News Video: Once in a century rip-off

Economist Michael Hudson: the bailout is a giveaway that will cause hyperinflation and dollar collapse

"Bailout talks stall as Bush meets with Congressional leaders and Presidential candidates. German Finance Minister says US will no longer be the financial Superpower. French President Sarkozy says the days when "the all powerful market is always right are over". The Real News Network spoke to economist and historian Dr. Michael Hudson who says that it's not a "bailout" but a "giveaway" and will create a new kleptocracy of billionaires."

Buddy, Can You Spare $700 Billion?

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

By Dave Brown, The Independent

A target too far

The Guardian, Friday September 26 2008

"The report in today's Guardian that an Israeli air strike on Iran's nuclear sites was vetoed by George Bush in a meeting with Ehud Olmert adds an important piece of information to the jigsaw of our knowledge about how close we have come to igniting a fresh firestorm in the Middle East.....

For once Mr Bush took the right advice. The two factors that weighed with him were concern over Iranian retaliation and anxiety that Israel would not succeed in disabling Iran's nuclear programme in a single assault. The most important argument against a military strike was not mentioned, namely that it would turn the probability that Iran would acquire the bomb into a certainty. But the two factors mentioned during the Bush-Olmert meeting are important enough....."

Thank you, George Bush

Against his background of military blunders, the US president's sobriety on the use of force against Iran stands out as remarkable

Jonathan Steele, Friday September 26 2008

"The disclosure (in today's Guardian) that George Bush vetoed an Israeli plan to attack Iran's nuclear sites earlier this year may turn out to be the best decision in his eight-year term. It is easy to deride this president and there is much to deride him for, but when he does the right thing it deserves to be applauded....."

Panic Now, by Steve Bell

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

By Steve Bell, The Guardian

Israel asked US for green light to bomb nuclear sites in Iran

US president told Israeli prime minister he would not back attack on Iran, senior European diplomatic sources tell Guardian

Jonathan Steele, Thursday September 25 2008

"Israel gave serious thought this spring to launching a military strike on Iran's nuclear sites but was told by President George W Bush that he would not support it and did not expect to revise that view for the rest of his presidency, senior European diplomatic sources have told the Guardian.

The then prime minister, Ehud Olmert, used the occasion of Bush's trip to Israel for the 60th anniversary of the state's founding to raise the issue in a one-on-one meeting on May 14, the sources said. "He took it [the refusal of a US green light] as where they were at the moment, and that the US position was unlikely to change as long as Bush was in office", they added......

The US announced two weeks ago that it would sell Israel 1,000 bunker-busting bombs. The move was interpreted by some analysts as a consolation prize for Israel after Bush told Olmert of his opposition to an attack on Iran. But it could also enhance Israel's attack options in case the next US president revives the military option....."

Qassem: Broadcast of ugly scenes never happened in Gaza is a misleading act

"RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Dr. Abdelsattar Qassem, a Palestinian writer and professor of political science, stated Wednesday that the ugly scenes from Iraq which the PA-affiliated Palestine TV broadcast claiming that they took place in the Gaza Strip are a manipulation of the Palestinian people's feelings and a misleading act.

In an exclusive statement to the PIC, Dr. Qassem warned that the PA is working on tarnishing the image of Hamas and mobilizing the public opinion against it, adding that the PA in Ramallah deliberately and greatly exaggerates events when it comes to Gaza.

The writer underlined that the professional integrity of the PA media outlets is totally absent, pointing out that the PA media had been broadcasting lies and misinformation since their inception.

Regarding the broadcast of such scenes while there is anticipation of national dialog, the writer said that talk about national dialog is a lie used by the PA for local consumption and is not likely to take place, but if it ever happens, it will not be serious.

In a press statement received by the PIC, the Palestinian police in Gaza decided to file a lawsuit against the Palestine TV for broadcasting ugly scenes from Iraq and claiming they happened in the Strip.

The Palestinian police called on the Palestine TV to refrain from belittling the citizen's mindset and from dealing with the Palestinian people as ignorant people."

COMMENT: Related to this story, please see the video posted just below this post. That video contains scenes shown on Mahmoud Abbas' TV in Ramallah, which it claimed illustrated the crimes and brutality of Hamas. In the video, bound prisoners are dropped from the top of a three-story building. Abbas' TV said that those dropped were from the Hillis family in Gaza as punishment for their role in the sabotage campaign a couple of months ago, in Gaza.

Trouble is, those scenes shown by Abbas' TV were actually from a video by CNN and it came not from Gaza but from Iraq! The attempt to frame Hamas and to defame it has backfired badly on Abbas and his US media handlers. His media outlets have degenerated to even lower than their already low standards.

Video: فضيحة جديده لتلفزيون فضح ( فتح سابقا )

Contributed by Fatima

Thursday, September 25, 2008

اللاجئون الفلسطينيون من العراق .. شهود على نكبتين (تقرير)

صادق يروي مأساة عائلته من العراق إلى مخيم التنف

"مخيم التنف – المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

يبكي دون أن يعرف السبب، وأصوات شهقاته تتعالى أيضاً لا لشيء إلا لأن الجميع مِن حولِه يبكون، تلك كانت حال الطفل "حسين صادق" عندما أخرج مع عائلته من بلد الشيخ قضاء حيفا عام 1948، بفعل احتلالها من قبل عصابات الإجرام الصهيونية وذهبوا إلى العراق باحثين عن خيط أمنٍ وأمل يمسك ما بقي لديهم من إرادة حياة.

لم يبرح "حسين صادق" العراق منذ عام احتلال فلسطين وحتى احتلال بغداد، غير أن تياراً غريبَ الفكر بدأ بالظهور قد يدفع الآلاف من العرب بشكلٍ عام والفلسطينيين بشكل خاص إلى مغادرة العراق، ملخّص فكر هذا التيار أنّ "العراق للعراقيين وحدهم" والكلام لصادق، وبالتالي صار العربي بشكل عام ملاحقاً ومضطهداً وغير مرغوب فيه.

خنجر الوطن السليب

أمام هذه الحالة عاد كل مواطن عربي إلى بلده الأصلية، وخنجر الوطن السليب عاد ليتحرّك مجدّداً ويحرّك الأوجاع في أكباد أبناء الشعب الفلسطيني؛ إذ ليس لهم مكان يلجئون إليه، ولا وطن يعودون إليه، ليس أمامهم إّلا مواجهة الموت.

باستطراد أكبر، وارتياح بدأ يظهر شيئاً فشيئاً على محيّاه، أكمل "حسين صادق" سرد شهادته على المأساة، متحدّثاً لـ "المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام" أثناء الزيارة التي قام بها مراسلنا إلى المخيم الحدودي العراقي السوري.

التهديدات التي تدفع عائلة صادق إلى الخروج من العرق ازدادت يوماً بعد يوم، ومصادر هذه التهديدات حسب صادق كانت جهاتٍ وفق أجندةٍ "طائفية عنصرية لا يمكنها قبول الأخر بل لا يمكنها إلّا طرده من بيته وممتلكاته"، حتّى ولو كان ثمن هذا الطرد دماً"!.

ضرب لنا "حسين صادق" أمثلة على بعض التهديدات، وقال "ذات مرّة ضربوا علينا قنبلة صوتية ذات تأثير كبير، هدم منها باب المنزل وكلّ زجاج البيت، بعد ذلك توجّهوا إلى محل الحلاقة الذي عمل به ولدي فكسروه وهدّدوا بقتل الولد إن لم نترك العراق".

تلك الممارسات لم تدع أمام العائلة خياراً إلا الخروج من العراق، بحثاً عن مكان يحمي حياتهم ويكفيهم شرّ الموت الذي يلاحقهم في كل مكان هنا.

بطرقٍ شرعية أو غير شرعية، - لا فرق فالمسألة مسألة حياة أو موت- غادرت عائلة "صادق" العراق قاصدة إحدى دول جوار العراق، وبعد 35 يوماً قضتها في تلك الدولة كانت النتيجة أن أعيدت العائلة إلى العراق وإلى مواجهة المصير ذاته.

تهديد انتهى بإعدام ولديه

رجعت العائلة إلى بيتهم الذي يملكونه والذي تركوه قبل المغادرة، وقبل أن ينتهوا من ترتيب أثاثهم من جديد وصل التهديد، ولكن هذه المرّة برصاصة ملفوفة بورقة كتب عليها "الموت لكم"!.

الأمور لم تقف عند هذا الحد؛ حيث خرج ابنه "محمد" من المنزل في فترة العصر خروجاً طبيعياً، وعندما بدأت الشمس تغرب لم يعد استمرار غياب "محمد" أمراً طبيعياً، فالجديد المتعارف عليه عند الفلسطينيين في العراق أن الغياب إلى ما بعد غروب الشمس يعني بالضرورة أن مكروهاً قد حصل، ومع هذه الظنون بدأت قلوب العائلة تلهج بالدعاء ودموع عيونهم لم تغب عن المشهد.

اتّصال هاتفي فجر اليوم التالي لغياب محمد، قال المتكلّم "ابنكم مشنوق وهو الآن تحت جسر الخط السريع"، وما زاد المأساة لوعةً أنّ الأسرة لا تستطيع استلام جثّة "محمد" من "الطب العدلي" في المنطقة، والسبب أنّ "محمد" فلسطيني، وبالتالي فإن والده الذي سيأتي لاستلام جثّته أيضاً فلسطينيّ، وهذا السبب وحده كفيل بأن يقتَل الأب أيضاً.

مرّة أخرى غادرت العائلة بيتها، غير أن نفاد المال وغلاء الإيجارات أجبرهم على العودة إليه، وبعد 15 يوماً من رجوعهم إلى المنزل يقول صادق "خرجنا إلى السوق، وعدنا لنجد البيت وكأنّ زلزالاً حل به"، غير أن الزلزال الأكبر الذي هزّ العائلة من جديد هو ما وجوده أثناء قيامهم بترتيب ما عاث به المخرّبون فساداً، جثّة ابنه الثاني، بعدما أعدم رمياً بالرصاص.

مغادرة إلى غير رجعة

حملت العائلة ما استطاعت حمله من الأمتعة وغادرت العراق إلى غير رجعة، ودخلت إحدى دول الجوار، وهناك عمل صادق في إحدى "البقالات" براتب شهري لا يكفي لسدّ حاجة شخص واحدٍ، فكيف به وهو المعيل لأسرته وأخته الضريرة؟!.

أمام هذا الوضع لم يجد الرجل بدّاً من التوجّه إلى "أخف الضررين"، وبالفعل؛ ذهب مع عائلته ليقيم في مخيم التنف للاجئين الفلسطينيين من العراق على الحدود العراقية السورية، علّه يجد هناك من يؤمّن لهم الطعام والشراب.

الشيخ "حسين صادق" هو مؤذّن وإمام وخطيب مسجد مخيم التنف الصحراوي، والمسجد هناك عبارة عن خيمة كبيرةٍ نسبياً كتبت عليها كلمة "مسجد".

بكى الشيخ حسين مرة أخرى في نهاية حديثنا معه، وبكاؤه كان في خيمةٍ تشبه الخيمة التي الذي بكى فيها طفلاً عام 1948م، وسبب البكاء كان سؤال مراسلنا عن الحل الذي ينشده، حينها أجاب قائلاً "كل الدول أغلقت أبوابها في وجهنا، والحل هو عودتنا إلى فلسطين". "

COMMENT: I will post the English version of this heart rending story of the Palestinians in Iraq and the horror they faced at the hands of the sectarian Shiite thugs there, when it is available.

Lucia: This story is real and from very reliable sources (Palestine Information Center). Take this story and multiply it by hundreds of thousands, then you get an idea about the horror that those sectarian thugs have spread in Iraq. You can't hide from the facts; Iran could have ordered them not to proceed with this carnage, but it did not. I do not trust what Iran says from one corner of the mouth about supposedly supporting Palestine when its surrogates have decimated thousands of destitute Palestinian refugees, for no reason except being Palestinians and non-Shiite.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the Threat of U.S. Attack, and International Criticism of Iran’s Human Rights Record

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"In part one of an interview with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad talks about the threat of a U.S. attack on Iran and responds to international criticism of Iran’s human rights record. We also get reaction from CUNY professor Ervand Abrahamian, an Iran expert and author of several books on Iran...."

The Insanity of the $700 Billion Giveaway

The Big Bank Job


".....What it can do is provide a one-time transfer of wealth to insiders who already have been playing the debt-credit system and siphoning off its predatory financial proceeds to themselves. The Wall Street bankers, brokers and fund managers to whom I’ve been speaking for many decades all know this. That is why they pay themselves such large annual bonuses and large salaries each year. The idea is to take as much as you can. As the saying goes: “You only have to make a fortune once in a lifetime.” They have been salting away their fortunes year after year, mainly in hard assets: real estate (free of mortgages), fine furniture, boats and trophy art. One last $700 billion heist and they can make their getaway."

Cleaning Up the Mess, by Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Obama: Janitor-in-Chief!

The New World War ---- The Silence Is A Lie

By John Pilger

"......None of this is as potentially dangerous, or more distorted in permitted public discussion, than the war on Russia. Two years ago, Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian Studies at New York University, wrote a landmark essay in the Nation which has now been reprinted in Britain.* He warns of "the gravest threats [posed] by the undeclared Cold War Washington has waged, under both parties, against post-communist Russia during the past 15 years". He describes a catastrophic "relentless winner-take-all of Russia's post-1991 weakness", with two-thirds of the population forced into poverty and life expectancy barely at 59. With most of us in the West unaware, Russia is being encircled by US and Nato bases and missiles in violation of a pledge by the United States not to expand Nato "one inch to the east". The result, writes Cohen, "is a US-built reverse iron curtain [and] a US denial that Russia has any legitimate national interests outside its own territory, even in ethnically akin former republics such as Ukraine, Belarus and Georgia. [There is even] a presumption that Russia does not have fully sovereignty within its own borders, as expressed by constant US interventions in Moscow's internal affairs since 1992 . . . the United States is attempting to acquire the nuclear responsibility it could not achieve during the Soviet era."

This danger has grown rapidly as the American media again presents US-Russian relations as "a duel to the death - perhaps literally". The liberal Washington Post, says Cohen, "reads like a bygone Pravda on the Potomac". The same is true in Britain, with the regurgitation of propaganda that Russia was wholly responsible for the war in the Caucasus and must therefore be a "pariah". Sarah Palin, who may end up US president, says she is ready to attack Russia. The steady beat of this drum has seen Moscow return to its old nuclear alerts. Remember the 1980s, writes Cohen, "when the world faced exceedingly grave Cold War perils, and Mikhail Gorbachev unexpectedly emerged to offer a heretical way out. Is there an American leader today ready to retrieve that missed opportunity?" It is an urgent question that must be asked all over the world by those of us still unafraid to break the lethal silence. "

The Rabbit is Running Scared......

Damascus fears deviation on peace road

By Sami Moubayed
Asia Times

"As Israeli premier-in-waiting Tzipi Livni battles to form a government, Syria is preparing for the possibility she will call off the indirect talks with Damascus. The Syrians remember Golda Meir, Israel's first women prime minister, for her role in the October War of 1973. And when Syria is worried, it heads for countries such as Russia, and organizations like Hamas in Palestine....."

A bailout and a new world

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"While the US is trying to implement its US$700 billion financial bail-out plan, French President Nicolas Sarkozy talks of "rebuilding" capitalism. In the corridors of the United Nations, there is talk of another kind of rebuilding, of a new multipolar world that would get rid of imperialism and colonialism. Call it the revenge of the developing world....."

Peres: U.S. has no choice but to save world from Ahmadinejad. How Nice of Peres to Give us No Choice!

"The United States has no choice but to save the world by stopping Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President Shimon Peres told Israel Radio on Thursday......"

Mideast Peace-Making Quartet Gets Flunking Grade

By Ali Gharib

"WASHINGTON, Sep 25 (IPS) - A new report from several international aid organisations blasts the Quartet, an international group assembled to facilitate the Middle East peace process, for failing to meet their goals in advancing a lasting peace between Israel and Palestinians....

"Unless the Quartet's words are matched by more sustained pressure and decisive action, the situation will deteriorate still further," said David Mepham, the director of policy for Save the Children UK, in a statement. "Time is fast running out. The Quartet needs to radically revise its existing approach and show the people of the region that it can help make a difference."

One of the stickiest issues addressed by the report, perhaps because it deals with a condemnation of Israel rather than an opportunity to advance Palestinian society, is the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories in violation of the road map agreements, international law, and sometimes even Israeli law itself......"

America Pays the Piper, Big Time

By Robert Parry
September 24, 2008

"After a 28-year binge of drunken optimism and blind nationalism – often punctuated by chants of “USA, USA!” and “We’re No. 1!” – Americans are waking up with a painful hangover, facing a grim “morning in America,” not the happy vision that Ronald Reagan famously sold them on......

But the future remains unclear. One might think that the American people would now be wide awake, having learned their lessons and eager to throw out both the neocons, who engineered the foreign policy debacles abroad, and the anti-regulators, who precipitated the economic catastrophe at home.

Yet the perception managers appear to have at least one more trick up their sleeves. They are turning John McCain, the self-proclaimed foot soldier of the Reagan revolution who championed the neocon cause overseas and the deregulators’ schemes in the domestic economy, into a reformer who can change the system. If recent opinion polls are to be believed, tens of millions of Americans still want to believe."

Real News Video with Pepe Escobar: The UN, cash for trash and the multi-polar world

Pepe Escobar: World leaders speak at the UN about economic crisis, war and the multi-polar world

"World leaders met at the UN general assembly on Tuesday. They spoke about the global financial crisis and the need for sweeping reforms of multilateral institutions. The Real News Network analyst Pepe Escobar comments on the emergence of new global realities."

Six years in Guantanamo

Sami al-Haj, an Al Jazeera cameraman, was beaten, abused and humiliated in the name of the war on terror. He tells our correspondent about his struggle to rebuild a shattered life

By Robert Fisk

"Sami al-Haj walks with pain on his steel crutch; almost six years in the nightmare of Guantanamo have taken their toll on the Al Jazeera journalist and, now in the safety of a hotel in the small Norwegian town of Lillehammer, he is a figure of both dignity and shame. The Americans told him they were sorry when they eventually freed him this year – after the beatings he says he suffered, and the force-feeding, the humiliations and interrogations by British, American and Canadian intelligence officers – and now he hopes one day he'll be able to walk without his stick.

The TV cameraman, 38, was never charged with any crime, nor was he put on trial; his testimony makes it clear that he was held in three prisons for six-and-a-half years – repeatedly beaten and force-fed – not because he was a suspected "terrorist" but because he refused to become an American spy......"

Quartet 'creating power vacuum' in Middle East

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
Thursday, 25 September 2008
(Cartoon courtesy of Latuff)

"The international community is "losing its grip" on the Middle East peace process and failing to improve the appalling living conditions for Palestinians, a group of leading NGOs charges today.

The international Quartet – consisting of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia – is accused of creating a "vacuum of leadership" as the aid agencies complain that "visible progress" in the Middle East has "failed to materialise"......

On settlements it says there has been a "marked failure to hold the Israeli authorities to their obligation under the [internationally agreed] road map and international law". It urges the Quartet to go "beyond rhetoric" and take "concrete steps" in the face of a "marked acceleration" in settlement building since Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were kick-started by the Annapolis summit last year......."

The future is one nation

The two-state approach in the Middle East has failed. There is a fairer, more durable solution

Ghada Karmi
(research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University)
The Guardian, Thursday September 25 2008

"Imagine the scene: the United Nations general assembly meets to discuss a resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Unlike previous resolutions, which have been based on a Jewish state in most of historic Palestine with Palestinians relegated to the remnants, this one calls for a new state, covering what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, whose present and former inhabitants are equal under the law. Such a resolution has, in fact, already been drafted and discussions have begun to place it on the agenda at the UN.

The one-state solution is now part of mainstream discourse. Increasingly, Palestinians - and some Israelis - support it as the only alternative to a Palestinian state subordinate to Israel. One-state groups have sprung up and conferences and studies are under way.....

A unitary state is inevitable. Establishing an exclusive state defined along ethnic-religious lines and excluding its previous inhabitants was unjust and ultimately unsustainable. No political acrobatics will alter this. The sooner the UN, which unwisely created Israel in the first place, takes charge of the consequences, the better it will be for Palestinians, for Israelis and for the region as a whole."

The time has come for a final report on the 43rd president of the US

The man who set out to reinforce unbridled American power has weakened it in all three essential dimensions

Timothy Garton Ash
The Guardian, Thursday September 25 2008

"......I would sum up his two terms in four words: hubris followed by nemesis.

Remember the mood music of eight years ago. The greatest power the world has ever seen. Rome on steroids. An international system said to be unipolar, and Washington's unabashed embrace of unilateralism. The US as "Prometheus unbound", according to the neoconservative commentator Charles Krauthammer. Wall Street investment bankers bestriding the financial globe as Pentagon generals did the military globe and Harvard professors the soft power one. Masters of the universe. Personifying that hubristic moment: George Walker Bush.

And now: nemesis. The irony of the Bush years is that a man who came into office committed to both celebrating and reinforcing sovereign, unbridled national power has presided over the weakening of that power in all three dimensions: military, economic and soft......

Economically, the Bush presidency ends with a financial meltdown on a scale not seen for 70 years. The proud conservative deregulators (John McCain long among them) now oversee a partial nationalisation of the American economy that would make even a French socialist blush. A government bailout that will total close to a trillion dollars, plus the cumulative cost of the Iraq war, will push the national debt to more than $11 trillion. The flagships of Wall Street either go bust or have to be salvaged, with the help of government or foreign money. Most ordinary Americans feel poorer and less secure......"

Neo-cons, ex-Israeli diplomats push Islamophobic video

Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, The Electronic Intifada, 24 September 2008

"WASHINGTON (IPS) - A group of hard-line United States neo-conservatives and former Israeli diplomats, among others, are behind the mass distribution, ahead of the November US presidential election, of a controversial DVD that critics have denounced as Islamophobic.

The group, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), is working with another organization called the Clarion Fund, which produced the 60-minute video and is itself tied closely to an Israeli organization called Aish Hatorah.

The Fund is currently distributing some 28 million copies of the DVD through newspaper inserts in key electoral "swing" states -- states like Michigan, Ohio, and Florida that, according to recent polling, could go either way in November's presidential election........"

New York activists protest Leviev fundraiser

Press release, Adalah-NY, 24 September 2008

"Manhattan's elite were aghast to be greeted yesterday evening by 25 chanting protesters when they exited their SUVs and limos to attend a glitzy fundraiser sponsored by Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev for the Museum of the City of New York. Leviev has been criticized for his businesses' human rights violations and unethical practices in Palestine, Angola, Namibia and New York City.

The Director of the Museum of the City of New York had failed to respond to phone calls and a 16 September letter from the New York rights coalition Adalah-NY, that is promoting a boycott of Leviev's businesses. Adalah-NY's letter informed the museum of the inconsistency of Leviev's business practices with the museum's mission, and with non-profit ethical standards. Alex Stern of Adalah-NY explained, "I've been going to the Museum of the City of New York all my life to see exhibits about New York's diversity and about local communities battling against poverty. So it's upsetting to me that the museum welcomed a sponsor who is impoverishing and destroying communities around the world."........"

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

(click on cartoon to enlarge)

A Saudi Religious Authority Has Issued a Fatwa to Kill Mickey Mouse!
(The various cartoon characters are executing the fatwa)

Bush to Address the Nation About the "Credit Crisis!"

Naomi Klein: “Now Is the Time to Resist Wall Street’s Shock Doctrine”

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"While the collapse of this country’s financial system continues to send shock waves around the world, we speak to the bestselling author of The Shock Doctrine. Naomi Klein says the public should be wary of the Bush administration trying to use the crisis to push through more of the radical pro-corporate policies that helped cause it in the first place....."

The Murderous Pharaoh Murders Starving Palestinians For Zion....

Four killed, two wounded, in a tunnel explosion at the Gaza-Egypt border

"Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Tuesday at night that Palestinian medics recovered the bodies of four residents, who were killed in an explosion that took place on Tuesday evening in a tunnel at the Gaza-Egypt border. At least one was wounded and was moved to a local hospital n Rafah. The sources stated that the bodies of Mustafa Saleh Al Najjar, 19, Omar Fayez Barghout, 21, Ahmad Abdul-Latif Al Najjar, an a fourth unidentified body were located under the rubble, and that one wounded resident was also evacuated from the scene.

The explosion took place in a tunnel in Al Brazil area, on the borders with Egypt in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

According to the Palestinian Information Center, run by Hamas, Egyptian security forces detonated the tunnel while five residents were in it. The forces most likely did not know residents were in the tunnel [Said who??]. The center added that the Egyptian security forces are digging on their side in an attempt to locate any resident who are stuck under the rubble.

The number of Palestinians who died in tunnel accidents since the beginning of this year arrived to 33 and dozens of residents were wounded.

On September 18, two Palestinians were killed and three others were wounded after a tunnel they were digging at the Egyptian-Gaza border collapsed on them.

Reuters reported that several residents in the area said that the tunnel was meant to be used for bringing food and goods into the Gaza Strip........ "

The Bush Administration's Banking Rescue Plan

by Rodrigue Tremblay
(professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal)
Global Research, September 23, 2008

".....If I may simplify somewhat the situation, (but only slightly) we can say that over the last quarter of century, Wall Street firms bought out Congress and the White House (and paid at wholesale prices). Now, they want the U.S. government to buy them back (and they want to sell at retail prices).....

There is something surreal and profoundly immoral that the individuals who were front and center in creating the subprime financial meltdown are also those who have been entrusted by the government to solve the mess they have created. Are there not independent economic and financial experts in the United States who could have been assigned this task?......"

Militants shake off Pakistan's grip

By Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times

"Pakistan's tribal areas are steadily falling to a creeping Taliban-led militancy. Military operations have proved ineffective, while the militants have rejected offers of ceasefires. Islamabad and the United States are now getting what they set in motion - "conflict escalation"......."

A Fox to Protect the Henhouse?

By Robert Scheer

"Does it really matter which party is in charge when it comes to bailing out the Wall Street hustlers whose shenanigans have bankrupted so many ordinary folks? Not if the Democrats roll over and cede power to the former head of Goldman Sachs, the investment bank at the center of our economic meltdown....."

Press Conference on Thursday / Passengers List

The Free Gaza Movement

"FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Date : 09-23-2008

On Thursday, September 25 at 10:00 am, the Free Gaza Movement will hold a press conference at the commercial port in Larnaca. Passengers are listed below.

They will be leaving immediately after the press conference. Come and see the SS HOPE, meet with the passengers and hear about this second trip. Doctors and lawyers are going to Gaza at the request of the people of Gaza to assess the medical tragedy there and to talk to the people. We are also delivering six cubic meters of badly-needed medical supplies for the children of Gaza.

Passengers of 2nd Free Gaza Voyage:

- Al Jabar, Ali (Qatar) Al-Jazeera
- Alshubashi, Mohammed (Germany/Palestine) Physician, Neuro-surgeon
- Abourashed, Amin (Holland) Human Rights
- Arraf, Huwaida (Palestine/US) NVDA/Int., Human Rights, Int. Law Spokesperson FGM
- Barghouti, Mustafa (Palestine) President Mubadara Party, MP
- Boulous, Nicolas (Greece) Boat Engineer
- Butterly, Caiomhe (Ireland) Voices in Wilderness, PSC
- Cox, Rod (UK) Pal Solidarity, Chester, UK
- Al Hams, Walid (Palestine/Sweden) Physician, Internal Medicine
- Ernshire, Eliza (Australia/UK) Human Rights Activist
- Fallisi, Joe (Italy) Opera Singer, Composer
- Graham, Derek (Ireland) Sailor, Electrician, First Mate
- Hamami, Ibrahim (Palestine/UK) Physician, Family Medicine
- Klontzas, George (Greece) Boat Captain
- Kysia, Ramzi (US/Lebanon) Writer, Organizer, Spokesperson
- Maguire, Mairead (Ireland) Peace People/Nobel Peace Prize
- Masarwa, Lubna (Palestine '48/Israel) Jerusalem Alt. Info. Center, Al Quds Univ.
- McDermott, Theresa (Scotland) Human Rights Activist, was on first trip
- Mohammed, Amir (Sudan) Al-Jazeera
- Zahalka, Jamal (Israel) Member of Knesset"

Decline and Fall

It's the autumn of our old republic

By Justin Raimondo

".....Power breeds arrogance and quickly becomes an overweening pride. In Washington, they imagine they can legislate their way out of the crisis and once again conjure up a convenient reality: this, they believe, is their prerogative as history's actors. The rest of us, you see, are only acted upon.

Their failure is inevitable, but there's a way out for them, if they can manage to pull it off. Yes, you guessed it: another war, another foreign "enemy," a heretofore undetected threat to the Homeland that will divert us – and keep the engines of the economy running.

Of course, it will be a different sort of economy. You can forget all that rhetoric about the "free market" and the joys of "globalization." In the global division of labor, America has chosen the niche of the world's policeman: the undeveloped world provides agricultural and unfinished goods, the East is the world's factory, and the U.S. "protects" the whole arrangement, putting down insurgencies when they erupt and toppling "rogue" regimes that don't go along with the program. Any nation that defies the will of the "benevolent global hegemon" faces an American military colossus, which feeds upon a budget equal to the combined defense budgets of all the other nations on earth, by some measures more than equal.

The problem with this arrangement is that an empire, far from being a benefit, is nothing but a burden. Our $3 trillion war with Iraq is ample testimony to that. And the bill will only get larger. It is a cliché that America no longer produces anything. Yet we do produce something, in these latter days of our perishing republic – wars, and plenty of them......."

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

Another September.....
Another Disaster.

The Banksters, as F.D.R. called them, Have Their Hands in Your Pocket.....
They Want More!

The crunch hits Cairo

In Egypt, the economic shocks rippling out from Wall Street will shake an already fragile political landscape

Jack Shenker, Tuesday September 23 2008

"........One such country is Egypt, where the long process of reversing Nasser's socialist economic policies of the 1950s and 1960s that was begun under President Sadat and intensified by the current regime, has produced strong growth rates in recent years. However, these percentage points have come at the cost of destroying social welfare institutions and have fuelled spiralling inflation and unemployment. Despite the presence of an ostentatious middle-class enjoying the fruits of economic liberalisation, capitalism is not accepted as an inevitability by many on the ground facing bloodshed in the subsidised bread queues that have lengthened as the government's free-market programmes begin to bite. In this context, the latest round of financial chaos threatens to tip an already volatile political situation over the edge.

So how will chaos on Wall Street shape political and economic developments in the Arab world's largest country? I spoke to figures from across the political divide and asked them how they thought the financial meltdown would impact upon them and their country........"

Crossing the Line focuses on Arab undermining of boycott movement

Podcast, Crossing the Line, 23 September 2008

"This week on Crossing The Line: While boycott and divestment campaigns in Europe and the United States become more sophisticated and widespread, the Arab world's longstanding boycott of Israel is being undermined by Arab governments and private companies. Host Naji Ali speaks with Wassim Al-Adel, a London-based Syrian blogger about this disturbing trend.

Also this week, Glen Ford of The Black Agenda Report offers a commentary about the state of the American economy and its impact on the rest of the world, especially the Middle East.

And as always, Crossing the Line begins with "This week in Palestine," a service provided by The International Middle East Media Center."

Click Here to Listen

May Day on Wall Street; U.S. Politburo Comes to the Rescue. By Khalil Bendib

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

An Analytic Overview of the Current Palestinian situation under Occupation in the 1967 Palestinian Areas

By Khalil Nakhleh, Ph.D.
Ramallah, 23.9.2008
(Khalil Nakhleh is an independent writer and researcher. He may be reached at

1. Our current Palestinian situation can be characterized candidly, as one observer described it over 20 some years ago, as a “fragmented national mood”; where more than 80% perceive themselves to suffer from depression and worry; where the percentages of the poor are in constant upward increase and difficult to keep track of; where our poor are rapidly joining the inconsequential global pool of “surplus humanity”; where corruption is perceived as a sign of success and compared positively with Israeli society; where Palestinian society under occupation is sliding with an alarming increase towards the rule of the “security forces”; and where there is obvious, predetermined, and politically-sanctioned extension of military jurisdiction over civilians, and total disregard for civil judiciary. This is producing a clear visible tendency towards the emergence of a “police state”, dependent for its establishment and continuity on external funds.

2. Palestinian society under occupation is almost entirely dependent for its survival on aid from outside, and not on its own productive resources and energies: nearly one million live on their PA monthly salaries, the dispensation of which is conditioned by receiving donations from outside on time; no less than 40 -50 thousand live directly on their salaries from externally-funded NGOs, and some many more thousands live on NGO projects, etc. Thus, the livelihood of most Palestinians who have “steady” income is mortgaged by political decisions external to them, and beyond their control.

3. In spite of public statements and uttering to the contrary, nothing effectively is moving forward. All current official political initiatives have stopped dead in their tracks, or, euphemistically, “stumbled”. The average citizen is being bombarded daily by contradictory statements that lead, if anything, to an ambiguous state of frustrated confusion. More specifically:

The negotiations track with Israel: All indications are that it is revolving around its axis, without any signs of a clear outcome. The resulting public statements, whether Palestinian or Israeli, seem to point in the same direction, i.e, the realization of minimum Palestinian rights has not been agreed upon, nor the Israeli side is ready to do that.
Holding the long overdue 6th National Fateh Congress (the last Congress was held 21 years ago): in spite of the ongoing visible movement in this direction over the last few years, the reality is that it is bogged down by internecine Fateh internal conflicts and approaches, that are connected to the future role and identity of Fateh, and the problematic and competitive relationship between the PA and the PLO.
Holding the much talked about “National Dialogue” between Fateh and Hamas: This is going nowhere not only because of the opposing approaches to the type of “solutions” to the Palestine question each side advocates, but because of internal opposing camps within each group, and their alignment with the externally involved parties, e.g. the US, Israel, the Arab countries, other regional forces, etc.

4. As a result, certain lines, or alignments, of potential confrontations, that were always present, now are being crystallized and articulated, and are rapidly surfacing. Some of these oppositionary lines of possible confrontations that are likely to surface more clearly during the coming year, are:

More open confrontation between the PA and the PLO: Since the decision adopted by the PLO Central Committee in its meeting on 12-13 October 1993 to establish a Palestinian National Authority subordinate to the PLO, the seeds of conflict were present. The current relationship has become inversed. Effectively, since Oslo the PLO has been increasingly marginalized, and its bodies anachronistic and ineffective. The PA is driving to annex the PLO to it (as one analyst described it).
• More open confrontation between the Hamas government in Gaza and the Fateh-sanctioned government in Ramallah: The focus will hinge more specifically on the authority and legitimacy of the PLC and the presidency, especially over the term of the president and the role of the PLC and the probable call for new elections.
• More open confrontation within Fateh, especially between the “young guard” and the “ancien regime” in the context of the obstructed convening of the 6th National Congress.
• Much clearer, and potentially oppositional, alignments between Palestinian capitalists vying to fill the political void, supported by “their technocrats and intellectuals”, on the one hand, and the traditionally factional political groups (e.g. the Fateh recent attack on Fayyad, etc).
• Possible other combinations.

5. In the meantime, the average Palestinian citizen, who is carrying the brunt of the military and economic occupation, on a daily basis, and the consequences of the PA’s actual collaborative policies with the occupation, has no voice or support. Through their own means and local initiatives, they try to resist, by daily practice and by non-violent means, the stealing of their lands and water, their incarceration in closed “warehouses” (to use Jeff Halper’s term), in the enclaves created by the Separation Wall (so benignly called “Barrier”), and in the Arab Jerusalem communities and neighborhoods, and their overall effective separation from their families, historical memories, places of work and traditional service centers, etc. These are the people who mostly have no confidence or trust in the political “leadership”; and whatever confidence they had at one time is quickly eroding. This is at a time when they see that the PA political and military apparatus in Ramallah launched an aggressive campaign against basic charitable societies who provide basic welfare assistance to needy groups, and closed down at least 45 of them within the last few months, in response to Israeli-US pressure (and the number is increasing). These are the people who need the urgent support of the humanitarian agencies to survive from one day to the next.

6. Consequently, there are apparent frightening signs that Palestinian social fabric under occupation is disintegrating, and is not being protected, if one is to judge by the deteriorating cultural values; the rise of crime; the nearly total disappearance of traditional cultural and social caring for those who don’t have the means, by those who have them; the regressing quality of education and research; the primacy of individual interests over national collective interests; the signs of conspicuous consumptive patterns as a replacement of productive patterns, etc.

7. Emerging from this current state, one observes a number of, what might be called, civil society initiatives, both individual and collective, emphasizing the need for a longer term, “strategic” thinking to explore approaches to “salvaging” the situation. One can note the following:

• The recent attempt by an amorphous group, labeled the “Palestine Strategy Group”, over the last few months, to “regain the initiative” regarding the future of the ongoing political negotiations process, and future solutions;
• The recent attempt by an ad hoc group of seriously concerned Jerusalemites to rethink “strategically” the status and future of Jerusalem Palestinian Arabs, by filling the void of the non-effective and ambivalent official role of the PA;
• Attempts over the last five years by Palestinian social and political activists in Israel at rethinking “strategically” the status and future of the Palestinian minority in Israel, as expressed in recently published documents;
• Recent appeals by active civil society organizations and individuals, through conferences and civil societies electronic networks, to re-direct and focus popular, grassroots, energies on the unequal, unjust, and skewed distribution of financial resources, by highlighting the plight of the impoverished population in Palestine.
• What is clear is that the traditionally accepted, political, economic and social “taboos” (e.g., the function and continuity of the PA, the servicing of the Israeli occupation, the status of Jerusalem, the total dependency on external political aid for survival, future debt, the rapidly increasing gap between the new political-economic elite and the poor, etc) are being breached and challenged by these “initiatives”.

8. What possible scenarios could this situation generate? I expect the following:

• Efforts by vested political interests to maintain the status quo: This implies possibly:
 President Abbas may decree the dissolution of the Hamas-controlled PLC before his term in office expires on 9 January 2009 to ensure that they don’t obstruct his extended term in office;
 The PLO “Executive Committee” may extend his term for a few additional months (perhaps half a year);
 He may call for new presidential and legislative elections, which can only take place in the West Bank (and Jerusalem), and which will ensure Fateh controlled new (mini) PLC in the West Bank;
 Hamas may declare the entire process illegitimate and in breach of the Basic Palestinian Law, and it may not recognize the legitimacy of neither the president or the “new” PLC;
 It may continue entrenching its hold and authority in the Gaza Strip, by electing its own “Gaza” president, and perhaps a re-shuffled cabinet;
 This, in effect, would formalize the division and separation between the West Bank and Gaza;
Following Israel’s suit by declaring Gaza “an enemy territory”, the Ramallah-based President may declare Gaza as a “rebellious region”, or a “rogue government”, which leaves it open for more sanctions and punishment, and possiblere-occupation” by the Israeli military, in conjunction with Abbas-loyal security forces;
 Such a scenario will be acceptable to both Israel and the US and, perhaps, the EU.
 The implication, of course, is the total collapse of the unitary PNA (Palestinian National Authority), as foreseen in the Oslo Accords, and its replacement by two mini-authorities: the PRA (Palestinian Ramallah Authority) and the PGA (Palestinian Gaza Authority).

• The President responds to the concerns of the people for safeguarding national unity and heeds the warning of some Arab states, by:
 Declaring his resignation following the Eid, and, effectively, opening the road for the imprisoned speaker of the PLC, to assume the role of acting president during most 2009, and to prepare for new presidential and legislative elections to be held in January 2010, in all areas;
 In the meantime, a new care-taker government of “professionals” may be formed and approved by the Hamas-controlled PLC;
 This approach will be supported by the people, and by some Arab states, and it will be opposed by the US and Israel, and by some well-entrenched and corrupt Oslo Fateh leadership, who are benefiting illegitimately from the continued status-quo.

9. Regardless of which scenario materializes, one thing is clear: poverty will increase; more people will have no, or very little, food; steady income could become scarce; the fickle and unreliable Palestinian capitalists will flee (with their capital) in search of other environments to make guaranteed profits, etc. However, the immediate and short-term need for humanitarian support and relief interventions will certainly surmount.

10. In such a situation, juxtaposing humanitarian aid vs., “developmental” aid is an artificial equation. Unless humanitarian organizations commit themselves to altering the prevalent military and political situation, in order to generate the necessary conditions for “sustainable development”, their main task and responsibility, it seems to me, is to ensure the provision of basic humanitarian support and relief (defined broadly) to the increasing numbers of pauperized, marginalized and incarcerated Palestinian communities, be they “formal” refugees and non-refugees alike.

11. In this process, it is also clear that the responsibility of humanitarian agencies is to ensure that the provision of humanitarian aid is not a corrupt process itself, nor is it corrupting of those benefiting from it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Journalist discloses details of Israeli-PA security-meeting

A Very Important Story

Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank
The Peoples Voice

"Nahom Barnea is a prominent Israeli journalist and regular columnist at the mass-circulation newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. On Friday, 19 September, he revealed shocking details of a recent “security coordination” meeting between Israeli and Palestinian security commanders.

Barnea, well known for his journalistic reliability, attended the meeting which took place at the Israeli occupation army’s West Bank headquarters at the settlement of Beit El near Ramallah.

The following is a verbatim translation of Barnea’s report as published in Yedeot Ahronot:

“They (the PA security commanders) arrived at the IDF headquarters Sunday night, passing through the ‘Court roadblock,’ only a 3-minute-drive from Ramallah. They drove through the road leading to the old Beit El settlement, going through the gate of the former Jordanian camp which houses the Command of the Judea and Samaria Brigade.

All of them were dressed in civilian attire with the exception of the Inspector-General of the Palestinian Police. They were eight commanders, all of them veteran Fatah leaders. This is the last chance for the generation that came from Tunis to retain their grip on power before Hamas could take over and devour everything.

The commander of the Israeli Defense Forces in the West Bank, Major-General Noam Tiv’on wanted to invite them to a meal to break the day’s fasting. However, the agenda of the encounter was disrupted for reasons having to do with the failure of the Israeli army to suppress settler riots (near Nablus) and the death of a Palestinian boy by Israeli army bullets the next day, which eventually forced the guests to break their fast at their homes.

Well they did. The discussion would have wasted a lot of time had it been carried out at the food pantry prepared by the Israeli army. Tiv’on and the head of the Israeli civil administration in the West Bank, Major-General Yoav Mordechai wanted to present to the Palestinian commanders the plan- Jenin-2 for the deployment of PA forces in City.

The Israeli commanders asked their Palestinian counterparts for their permission to allow a journalist to attend the meeting. The Palestinians concurred. In fact, I was the only journalist allowed to attend the meeting. However, because of my presence and essentially because of the sense of urgency on the Palestinian part, the meeting assumed different directions with excessive extents.

Shocking words

Contrary to conventional belief, journalists hate to be surprised. They think they know every thing and that which they don’t know is not considered especially important. I was surprised by the things that the Palestinian security commanders uttered. I was also surprised by the tone of their voices.

The gist of their argument is that a violent confrontation between Fatah and Hamas will take place in January of 2009. On the 9th of January Abu Mazen’s presidential term will expire. He is determined to stay in office until January 2010. We can’t rule out the possibility that Abu Mazen will declare the Gaza Strip a “rebellious province”

The Palestinian security commanders asked their Israeli counterparts to join them in preparing a field plan and train their forces and supply them with weapons.

I have never heard such an excessive willingness on the part of the Palestinian Authority to work with Israel, except for a small period in the Spring of 1996.

Following the meeting, I told one of the Israeli commander who was in the hall “this is just talk. Aren’t you worried that the followers of Fatah would disappear at the decisive moment as they did in Gaza?”

“No,” he said. “Prior to the Gaza events, they didn’t know what would happen to them. But now they do.”

Abu al Fath is the commander of the General Security Apparatus of the Fayyad government. It represents the main military force of the Palestinian Authority . Abu al Fath is the most senior and highest ranking officer among the heads of the Palestinian security agencies.

There is no conflict between us,” he told the Israeli army commanders. “We have a common enemy.”

Abu al Fath commenced the meeting with a complaint about the settler rampage (near Nablus). The way he related to the riots was interesting. He went on saying that “this makes things more difficult for us, especially in dealing with ordinary Palestinians. You must have law and order just as you expect us to have law and order. I will do all I can to prevent the occurrence of operations (against you.). You realize that we are much better than before. Thanks to our operations, the Israeli army needs to carry out lesser operations.

Hamas: our common enemy

Abu al Fath went on: “ there is a huge strife going on in preparation for January, 2009. Abu Mazen is adopting the peace-line and you should bolster his position. Release juvenile prisoners, this is very important. Remove the roadblocks and dismantle the settlements. I want to ask you to allow us to deploy a regiment from Jericho to Hebron. I know there is a problem with the settlers in Hebron and the frictions spots there. I have no intention to enter these spots. The regiment will operate in the villages of Southern Hebron.

Major-General Kivon replied: “I am quite happy with what you have said. The local commanders of both sides should meet and reach an agreement on this. However, Colonel Mordechai warned the Palestinian officer, saying that “ the deployment of the regiment in Hebron should take place Friday night lest they collide with the settlers.” Abu al Fath said : “No problem. We are moving against Hamas even during the month of Ramadan.”

At this point, the head of the Fayadh government’s military intelligence, Majed Faraj began talking: “We are in the midst of a very difficult battle. There is an Arabic proverb:‘the sea is before us and the enemy is after us.’ We don’t even have a sea. We have decided to fight the battle until the end. We have decided to put all our problems on the table. Every thing is clear. No game-playing. Hamas is the enemy, and we have decided to wage an all-out war against Hamas. And I tell you there will be no dialogue with Hamas, for he who wants to kill you, kill him first. You have reached a truce with them, but we won’t do so. To be honest, we behaved differently in the past.

Faraj went on boasting: “Now we are taking care of every Hamas institution in accordance with your instructions. Lately you gave us the names of 64 institutions, and we have already dealt with fifty. Some of these institutions have been closed down, others we have changed their administrations. We have also seized their money (Israel referred to the PA 150 bank accounts suspected of belonging to terrorist organizations while the PA closed 300 other accounts).

I have two observations: In the past we thought a thousand times before entering a mosque, but today we enter any mosque whenever deemed necessary. Don’t understand from this that you are allowed to enter the mosque. On the contrary, we can enter the mosques precisely because you don’t. We also can enter the campuses of universities, including the Islamic University in Hebron. We are making utmost efforts and even if success is not 100%, motivation is 100% “

Following Faraj’s remarks, Hazem Atallah, the Inspector-General of the Palestinian Police Forces spoke: “ Until the end of the year, we will enter into a confrontation with Hamas. Khalid Mashala said Abu Mazen’s government wouldn’t be legal after the 9th of January, hence we should bet ready for the confrontation. “

Hussein al Sheik, head of the civilian affairs department in the Fayadh government said “this is very important. Hamas doesn’t have a military power in the West Bank, but it has the power to get people onto the streets.”

Attallah addressed the Israeli commanders : I am talking about a comprehensive plan, if we enter the next year without being fully prepared, nothing will be left except arguing over who was responsible for the defeat, we, or you, or the Americans.

Mordechai assured him, saying :we will form a joint team, we will help you with the training and military gear.

The Palestinians complained that a Canadian shipment of truncheons for the police was still being withheld at the Ashdod Port. Tiv’on assured them that “we will hand it over to you.”"