Saturday, June 6, 2009

Israeli settlers dedicate new outpost to Obama

"In response to US President Barack Obama's plea to Israel to freeze new settlement construction, extremist Israeli settlers report that they have dramatically increased the number of settlement outposts in the West Bank over the last week, even going so far as dedicating one of the outposts “the Obama hut”.

The current Israeli administration has voiced its support for settlement expansion, and the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu even appointed settlers to high-level positions in the cabinet. The reported spike in settlement construction is considered by many to be a slap in the face of the US President's efforts to make peace in the region.

The sneeringly-named “Obama” outpost is part of the newly-established colony Oz Yehonatan, which was illegally constructed on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank......."

Hope floats

Saturday, 06 June 2009 05:31

Written by Greta Berlin

"The Free Gaza Movement announces the SUMMER OF HOPE: three voyages to Gaza... June 25, July 14 and August 22, our anniversary voyage. The first trip is already filled with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Mairead Maguire, former U.S. Congressional Representative Cynthia McKinney, 84-year-old Holocaust survivor, Hedy Epstein heading up a passenger list from 17 countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar. The oldest passenger is 84 and the youngest is 23. On this trip, we intend to take 15 tons of cement as a prelude to the larger shipment we hope to bring in July.

We are also putting Israel on notice that they cannot continue to starve a population into submission and deny them basic building materials to rebuild. And we put Israel on notice that they cannot continue to make money on their occupation of Gaza by forcing supplies to come through their portals and charging for them. The sea belongs to the people of Gaza.

We are now taking reservations for July 14 and August 22. We hope to have a new passenger boat by the July trip and are hard at work on acquiring a cargo boat. You can fill out a passenger application form under JOIN IN on the website or you can donate to our efforts to make these three trips successful by going to the DONATE page.

Watch for our news on the website."

'Obama Talks Democracy, Endorses Dictatorship'

A Good Piece

Analysis by Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa Al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Jun 5 (IPS) - Egyptian officials are lining up to praise U.S. President Barack Obama's address to the Islamic world delivered in Cairo Thursday. But local campaigners for political reform say the speech was disappointingly light on the issues of democracy and human rights.

"Obama spoke very briefly and in very general terms on these two subjects," opposition journalist and reform campaigner Abdel-Halim Kandil told IPS. "Despite the hype, Obama's speech was little more than an exercise in public relations."......

Bahaieddin Hasan, head of the Cairo Centre for Human Rights Studies, described the address as "superficial" and devoid of details. "There didn't appear to be any concern for either democratic reform or human rights," he was quoted as saying in the Friday edition of independent daily Al-Dustour. "This came as a major disappointment."

Hisham Kassem, a leading Cairo-based rights activist, agreed. "The Obama administration appears to have put human rights and political reform at the bottom of the agenda," he told IPS. "It's noteworthy that only 367 words of the speech out of a total of almost 6,000 were devoted to democracy and human rights. This tiny proportion appears to be an indication of Obama's priorities.".....

Kandil said that Obama's choice of Egypt - ruled by Mubarak under a draconian state of emergency for 28 years - sends the wrong message. Saudi Arabia that Obama visited earlier lacks even pretence of democracy.

"Obama's visit was a show of support for both the dictatorial Egyptian regime and the criminal policies of Israel regarding the Palestinians," he said. "It represents an acknowledgement of Egypt's role in serving U.S. and Israeli policy objectives, while totally overlooking the regime's dismal record on human rights and political reform.

"The government, in crisis due to skyrocketing inflation and enormous popular disaffection, is hoping that Obama's visit will somehow bolster its legitimacy and lengthen its dwindling lifespan," said Kandil.

Kandil is also coordinator of the pro-democracy Kefaya movement, which decided to boycott the event. "Instead of attending, Kefaya members staged a protest march in downtown Cairo on the eve of the speech in order to remind the U.S. President that he is visiting a dictatorship," he said. Kandil said the new Obama administration differs from its predecessor "only in style and not in substance."......

Kandil pointed to recent statements made by U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates as a more reliable indicator of the Obama administration's long-term approach to the issue. Early last month, Gates, after meeting with Mubarak, announced that U.S. military assistance to Egypt would not be made conditional on Egypt's human rights record or the pace of democratic reform.

"Democratic change can't be expected to come from the White House, because, ultimately, the U.S. and Israel - like the regime itself - don't want real democracy in Egypt," said Kandil. "They know that if fair elections were ever held, they would be handily won by opponents of U.S. policy and the American-Zionist project in the region.

"And as for human rights, the U.S. is a constant perpetrator of rights violations in Iraq and Afghanistan - and now Pakistan - while simultaneously overlooking violations committed by Israel and its own Arab allies," he said. "

A glimpse of Obama in a Cairo emptied of its people and its poor

The sight of POTUS was enough, a lithe, athletic figure by a dumpy little old lady

By Robert Fisk

"......Only when I left did I see the Egyptians behind the police lines, old ladies with birds in wooden cages, a broken cripple with a wooden stick, Dickensian urchins without shoes, scarved girls licking ice-creams. And I began to have my suspicions. These people were no threat to the POTUS and the little American lady. Indeed, I felt sure they would have been grateful for that strong handshake which is so willingly bestowed upon safe, blue-eyed Germans and Brits.

And I rather suspect the POTUS would like to have met these poor people. It was the police who would have disapproved. Not to mention the President of Egypt. So the POTUS had been – to use Churchill's fine description of Lenin as the Germans passed him through their land to infect Russia with Bolshevism – sealed off like a bacillus.

The POTUS wasn't being protected from danger, I was sure. He was being protected from the words these Egyptians might utter, from their views of the Arab world, of Egypt, from their views, perhaps, on the nature of democracy amid all these cops and security lads. They might have spoken of corruption and nepotism and violence. But the POTUS never saw them. Anyway, he had too tight a schedule: there were words to utter across town, about human rights and justice in what he called "the timeless city of Cairo". Timeless yes. And its people silent."

Obama to Merkel: Moment is Now to Press for Mideast Settlement


"05/06/2009 A day after he sought to mend fences with the Muslim world in Cairo, US President Barack Obama declared Friday that “the moment is now” to press for a Middle East settlement, but he put Israelis and Palestinians on notice that it was up to them to make “difficult compromises”.

Obama was speaking at a press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel after a meeting designed to repair strains in the relationship between the two leaders.

Merkel praised the president’s speech in Cairo on Thursday in which he offered a “new beginning” for relations between the United States and the Muslim world. Merkel called Obama’s speech an “ideal basis” to pursue “peace efforts.”......."

Feltman “Gives Advice” to the Lebanese a Day Ahead of Elections


"06/06/2009 Once again the United States has decided to put the Lebanese parliamentary elections under the spotlight as another sign to its “interference policy” in the internal affairs of the country.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffery Feltman said it would be naïve for some to think that the outcome of the Lebanese elections won't affect US policy in Lebanon.

In a joint interview with both dailies An-Nahar and al-Hayat on Saturday, Feltman said: "The election's outcome will naturally affect world's stance towards the new Lebanese government and the manner in which the United States and Congress deal with Lebanon. I believe the Lebanese are smart enough to understand that there will be an effect.”

He went on to indirectly criticizing the head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP General Michel Aoun saying: "one of your politicians is proposing that Christians shouldn't depend on the United States. I hope the Lebanese had accurately listened to the president's [Barack Obama] speech that specifically pointed to the widest Christian religious minority in Lebanon, the Maronites. The president spoke about the need for respecting all peoples in the region including minorities…I hope the Lebanese would ask themselves: do we want to be on the side of the international community and close to the stances that president Obama made? I hope they would say yes."....."

Blue Jeans Democracy in Lebanon...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Believe it or Not: Hamas is Asking for Help From....The Pharaoh! What Vision; What Leadership; What Clarity! I am Going to Throw Up Again!

Hamas warns of harming Qassam members, asks Egypt to intervene

"......Hamas asked Egypt to adopt a clear and frank position towards what is happening in the West Bank and immediately intervene to stop the massacre.

It also asked Fatah faction to clarify its stand regarding these crimes.

Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, voiced a similar statement asking Cairo to act to bridle Fatah, which is destroying all Egyptian inter-Palestinian conciliation efforts.

He charged that the PA security forces were acting on behalf of Israel in liquidating Palestinian resistance fighters [COMMENT: It took Hamas that long to figure that out? Is Hamas still calling for "reforming" the Dayton forces? How about "unity" with Fayyad, who was one of Haniyyah's "ministers" for a while? Barf, again!] ........"

Habila Speaks, Again:
هنية: الحوار الفلسطيني على مفترق طرق ونتوقع من القاهرة التدخل

"غزة- قال رئيس الحكومة الفلسطينية المقالة، إسماعيل هنية إن الحوار الفلسطيني أصبح على مفترق طرق، معتبراً أن مصر لن تقبل بأن يستمر الحوار في ظل سفك الدماء الحاصل في الساحة الفلسطينية.

وأضاف هنية في كلمة متلفزة في وقت متأخر مساء الخميس: نتوقع من الإخوة في مصر أن يتدخلوا بشكل قوي للجم ما يجري في الضفة الغربية ولحماية الشعب الفلسطيني ولمنع المساس بالمقاومة الفلسطينية.

وكان ثلاثة فلسطينيين قتلوا بينهم ناشطان من الذراع المسلح لحركة حماس والثالث من الأجهزة الأمنية الفلسطينية في ثاني اشتباكات بين الجانبين الخميس في قلقيلية بالضفة الغربية التي شهدت الأحد الماضي اشتباكاً خلف ستة قتلى من الجانبين

Obama in Cairo: High Words, Low Truths


"....This is not detract from Obama’s laudable efforts to rewrite history into a parable of tolerance and mutual respect. And some of the history Obama did get right. He’s surely the first president to state before several million people that the United States did play a role in overthrowing Mossadegh in Iran in 1954. But his address signals the problem with presidential speeches professing moral purpose of the purest ichor. The higher the phrases soar, the more people start reminding themselves of the facts on the ground....

Least credible to any Muslim would have been the “balanced” passages about Israel and Palestine and the measured calls to Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza to disdain violence and swap formal recognition of Israel for … for what? Pledges by the Netanyahu government to build more settlements?.....

There are fine words. There are facts on the ground, and they often strayed far from each other in Obama’s big speech. One 1000-pound bomb or remote-controlled drone trumps 10,000 words on rhetoric about peace......

There’s a good case for saying that with those words Bush Sr signed the death warrant for his re-election. He lost the Jewish vote and his son never forgot it. I’d guess that much earlier in his presidency Obama is on his way to losing it too. The guy must know what he’s doing, and if he doesn’t, there’s always Rahm Emanuel at his elbow to remind him."

How Much Really Separates Obama and Netanyahu?

New Rhetoric for the Coloner-Settler Project

A Very Good Piece

"Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama have one thing very much in common: both of them have nearly the same vision for the future of “Palestine”. They may not recognize it yet, but sooner or later, whether Netanyahu remains in power or is replaced by someone who speaks Dove-Liberalese better, they will shake hands and agree that the only thing that really separated them in the early months of President Obama’s administration was semantics: the language each man used to describe what he saw for the future of Palestine, or “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” –a phrase that suggests there are two sides each with a grievance that equals or cancels out the other’s and that makes a just resolution so difficult to formulate.

How deeply have we been indoctrinated.......

Perhaps someone ought to point out to him the irony that his next stop after Cairo is not Gaza City or Beirut where he might help to heal the very recent and very real wartime wounds inflicted on these tortured societies, but Buchenwald, a death camp from the Nazi era, located in the now former East Germany? Certainly Obama ought to be the first to practice what he himself preaches by showing compassion to the recent and innocent victims of an entirely illegal and premeditated slaughter than by rushing off for photo ops at one of the mighty symbols of a depraved Holocaust industry? --one whose finely tuned ideology seeks justification for every act of inhumanity based on the grievance of past inhumanity?......."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This latest poll asks:

Who do you nominate to gain a majority in the upcoming Lebanese elections, the "loyalty" camp or the opposition?

With over 1,200 casting their opinion, 83% said the opposition.

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Israel's boycott of UN mission - 04 June 09

"A UN team investigating possible war crimes in Gaza, led by Richard Goldstone, is in the Strip on a week-long fact finding mission. They had to enter from Egypt after Israel failed to grant visas, despite repeated requests by the UN. With Israel boycotting the commission, can the UN mission investigate alleged violations of international law, and can UN investigations in the Gaza strip lead to any prosecutions?"

Here is How You Deal With Peaceful Protesters: You Kill Them!

In a Gesture of Peace to Obama......

Israeli army kills one, injures 4 during non-violent demonstration in Ni’lin

"During the weekly non-violent demonstration against the wall in the village of Ni’lin, in the central West Bank the Israeli army killed a 36-year old Palestinian man and wounded a Palestinian boy, that is taken to the hospital in critical condition. Three others sustained moderate wounds.

As every week the villagers of Ni’lin, supported by international peace activists held a demonstration to protest the building of the wall, that steals the land that belongs to the village.

In this week’s demonstration there was special attention for the speech that US president Obama delivered in Egypt. The villagers welcomed Obama’s attention for this issue, but affirmed the need to remove the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

After the Friday prayer, the march towards the construction site of the wall began. Since the morning the Israeli army had been in the village, positioned on top of the houses. As soon as the protesters approached the construction site the army opened fire, and also started firing tear gas among the crowd......"

Obama's Speech Could Mark Shift in U.S.-Muslim Relations

PBS News Hour Interview

"JUDY WOODRUFF: And for that, we get four views.

Rami Khouri is an editor-at-large of the Daily Star Newspaper in Lebanon. He's also the director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut.

Abderrahim Foukara is the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for Al Jazeera Arabic.

Sumaiya Hamdani is an associate professor of history at George Mason University, where she founded the school's Islamic studies program and served as its director until last year.

And As'ad AbuKhalil is a professor of political science at California State University at Stanislaus......

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, let me -- I'm going to interrupt you there, because I want to bring in Mr. AbuKhalil out in California. As'ad AbuKhalil, from your perspective, how different were the words today from what we've heard from this president and from any president before?

AS'AD ABUKHALIL, California State University at Stanislaus: Not much, if you judge it by substance and not by style. In fact, if you judge it by the context, you have to remember that some of the positive reception to this speech in the Arab world is particularly because he is not George W. Bush, who is mightily loathed and despised throughout the Middle East and by Arabs and Muslims.

But you have to remember, just before the speech, he met with the Saudi king, he paid him tributes, and he praised his wisdom. And then he came to Cairo and then he also praised the Egyptian president, refused to label him for the dictator that he is.

And then we are expected that a nice-delivered speech, well-crafted, is going to sway Muslim-Arab public opinion? It's going to take much more than that.

More importantly, there are serious contradictions in the speech itself. On the one hand, he gave some lofty remarks about democracy and human rights, which were words that were uttered before by George W. Bush. But in the same speech, he also praised the Saudi king, the head of a kingdom which still practices rituals of public beheadings in the public square and which also still endorses the same fanatical ideology that inspires al-Qaida terrorists around the world.

He spoke about the Palestinian grievancaes, but in very bland and very general terms. He spoke very specifically about who was doing what to the Israelis, but when he spoke about Palestinian suffering, it was as if the Palestinians had for decades been suffering from successive hurricanes and tornados, as if the Israelis are blameless to what happened to them........"

Audio Link
Video Link

The Grim Picture Of Obama's Middle East

By Noam Chomsky

"A CNN headline, reporting Obama's plans for his June 4 Cairo address, reads 'Obama looks to reach the soul of the Muslim world.' Perhaps that captures his intent, but more significant is the content hidden in the rhetorical stance, or more accurately, omitted.

Keeping just to Israel-Palestine -- there was nothing substantive about anything else -- Obama called on Arabs and Israelis not to 'point fingers' at each other or to 'see this conflict only from one side or the other.' There is, however, a third side, that of the United States, which has played a decisive role in sustaining the current conflict. Obama gave no indication that its role should change or even be considered.

Those familiar with the history will rationally conclude, then, that Obama will continue in the path of unilateral U.S. rejectionism......"

Changing the Discourse: First Step toward Changing the Policy?

By Bennis, Phyllis

".....He went on to say that the U.S. "would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election" and that "we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments - provided they govern with respect for all their people." Good positions - but ones that ignore the reality of continuing U.S. positions in the Arab world in particular. Certainly the January 2006 Palestinian election - deemed "free and fair" by U.S. and European monitors - that brought Hamas to majority power in the elected parliament was not "welcomed" by the United States. And just in recent days, Vice-President Joe Biden told Lebanon directly that future U.S. support would depend on the outcome of their forthcoming election - an unmistakable reference to U.S. intentions of cutting aid if Hezbollah, already the second-largest party in Lebanon's parliament, achieves greater elected power. (In this, the Obama administration is channeling President George H.W. Bush's position in 1990 regarding Nicaragua - telling the population that if they voted for the Sandinistas they would face years of continuing war, while a victory for the U.S.-backed opposition would lead to new economic assistance. The popular Sandinistas were roundly defeated.)"

Now Listen Up! Here is the Last Word on the SPEECH, From.......The New Ayatollah! Muqtada Sadr!

Press Tv
Sadr: Obama has subtle plans to control world

"Iraq's senior cleric Moqtada al-Sadr says Barack Obama's speech indicates that the US wants to take a different avenue to bring the world under its control.

"The honeyed political speech expressed only one aim -- America wants to take a different avenue to bring the world under its control" compared to the former US president George W. Bush's strategies, Sadr said in a statement released to journalists in the holy city of Najaf on Thursday.

"Obama cannot change the American policies... which were and are still hostile to Islam, and that will continue," he added.

The Iraqi cleric further pointed out that he would trust the US president "only after their (the US) withdrawal from our beloved Iraq and Muslim Afghanistan and their withdrawal of support for the Israeli enemy, and I hope for this from him."

"Let him know that the resistance and the opposition will continue [What Resistance is he Talking About?]. We don't believe his words," he noted......"

Obama to Muslims: Put Up and Shut Up

Obama to Muslims: Put Up and Shut Up

by Paul Craig Roberts, June 05, 2009

"......"I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect."

Cairo is the capital of Egypt, an American puppet state whose ruler suppresses the aspirations of Egyptian Muslims and cooperates with Israel in the blockade of Gaza......

In typical American fashion, Obama offered Muslims money, "technological development," and "centers of scientific excellence."

All the Muslims have to do is to cooperate with America and be peaceful, and America will "respect the dignity of all human beings.""

Obama in Cairo: Words, Words, Words

He talks the talk – but will he walk the walk?

by Justin Raimondo, June 05, 2009

"......I have to reiterate, at this point, my belief that all the good generated by Obama’s support for a viable Palestinian state is bound to be tragically undermined by the running sore of Afghanistan. As long as we are fighting what is essentially a war of vengeance against a people that had little to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Obama is fated to repeat the mistakes made by his predecessor that turned Iraq into a bloody quagmire, albeit on a bigger scale. "

Words that could heal wounds of centuries

By Robert Fisk

".....An intelligent guy, then, Obama. Not exactly Gettysburg. Not exactly Churchill, but not bad. One could only remember Churchill's observations: "Words are easy and many, while great deeds are difficult and rare.""

By Dave Brown, The Independent.

What Obama didn't say

With only bland references to human rights, Obama's speech did little to make the region's autocrats feel uncomfortable

Heba Morayef
(Heba Morayef is a researcher for Human Rights Watch), Thursday 4 June 2009

"President Obama's much-anticipated speech, before 2,500 invited guests at Cairo University, was billed as a candid discussion about the reasons for the estrangement between Muslims and the United States. He addressed some of those concerns, but he did not satisfactorily address the concern in the Muslim world about the financial and political backing by Washington of repressive governments – and in particular the government of Egypt.

Obama's speech essentially failed to address the dismal human rights record of Egypt and its neighbours, beyond generalities. His words, greeted with both rapturous applause and moments of silence, were addressed to the whole Muslim world. But he could and should have alluded in a far more direct way to the repressive practices of Egypt and many of its neighbours. Those troubled by the signs that the Obama administration is downgrading the place of human rights in US foreign policy will have found nothing reassuring in his speech......"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Clash of Ignorance

[Comment: With this Obama Circus going to the middle east and the whole idea about "talking to the Muslim world" I think it is time to revisit what the great Edward Said once wrote in regards to the idea of "Clash of Civilization". This article is relevant today as it was when it was published in 2001]

By Edward Said

Samuel Huntington's article "The Clash of Civilizations?" appeared in the Summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs, where it immediately attracted a surprising amount of attention and reaction. Because the article was intended to supply Americans with an original thesis about "a new phase" in world politics after the end of the cold war, Huntington's terms of argument seemed compellingly large, bold, even visionary. He very clearly had his eye on rivals in the policy-making ranks, theorists such as Francis Fukuyama and his "end of history" ideas, as well as the legions who had celebrated the onset of globalism, tribalism and the dissipation of the state. But they, he allowed, had understood only some aspects of this new period. He was about to announce the "crucial, indeed a central, aspect" of what "global politics is likely to be in the coming years." Unhesitatingly he pressed on:

"It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future."

...This is the problem with unedifying labels like Islam and the West: They mislead and confuse the mind, which is trying to make sense of a disorderly reality that won't be pigeonholed or strapped down as easily as all that....

...But we are all swimming in those waters, Westerners and Muslims and others alike. And since the waters are part of the ocean of history, trying to plow or divide them with barriers is futile. These are tense times, but it is better to think in terms of powerful and powerless communities, the secular politics of reason and ignorance, and universal principles of justice and injustice, than to wander off in search of vast abstractions that may give momentary satisfaction but little self-knowledge or informed analysis. "The Clash of Civilizations" thesis is a gimmick like "The War of the Worlds," better for reinforcing defensive self-pride than for critical understanding of the bewildering interdependence of our time.

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

Hezbollah: Obama Speech Signals No Real Change in US Policy


"04/06/2009 MP in the Loyalty to the resistance parliamentary bloc Hassan Fadlallah told AFP that US President Barack Obama's landmark speech to Muslims on Thursday signals no real shift in US policy in the Arab world despite its conciliatory tone. "What we heard is a speech that reveals no real change to the position of US policy in the region."

"The Islamic and Arab world does not need lectures, but real acts starting with a radical change toward the Palestinian cause," he said. "The problem of Arabs and Muslims lies with Washington's support for Israeli aggression in the region, especially on the people of Lebanon and Palestine."

MP Fadlallah dismissed Obama's speech as empty words that would not translate to concrete action. "We do not sense any real change regardless of the language of the speech because violence in the region is practiced first and foremost by Israel and by the US armies of occupation, and not by the people who resist," he said."

Obama Speech: Part Vapid and Part Sinister

A Good Comment

By Angry Arab

".....And he then condemns (unspecified) Western stereotypes of Muslims and then matches them with what he calls Muslim stereotypes of America as empire. But those two are not symmetrical: American stereotypes of Muslims are racist and essentialist, and the notion that the US is a war mongering Empire is shared by none Muslims and Muslims alike around the world. The literature about the US as Empire is written largely by Westerners. So Obama is asking for a bargain: to end Western racism (but not wars) against Muslims, Muslims need to stop attacking US foreign policy and wars. This is chicanery--don't you like those old fashioned words? He talks about the US as a force of "progress." How untrue for Obama's audience: the US has consistently opposed forces of progress and advancement in the Middle East: in every conflict between an oil Sheikh or a polygamous prince against progressive socialists or Arab nationalist secularists, the US has always sided with the polygamous princes who have been in alliance with religious kooks and advocates of "holy wars." Hell, he just came from Saudi Arabia where he praised the wisdom of the Saudi king and he wants to talk to me about "force of progress"?.....

And he then moves from a discussion of the Nazism to the Arab-Israeli conflict. What is his point here: that because of Nazi crimes, the Palestinians need to accommodate Zionist crimes on their lands? This is the most offensive section of course: he talks about the Palestinians without identifying who was doing those bad things to them. Look at this sentence: "have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation." So their suffering is due to their pursuit of a homeland: so they should stop the pursuit and the suffering will go away. He then mention the "pain of dislocation." What is that o Obama? Is that like a shoulder dislocation? He refers to Palestinian reference to "for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel's founding" but never mentions Israeli wars, attacks, and invasions and yet he makes specific references to Palestinian violence thereby making it clear that adheres to White Man standards: that only Israeli lives matter. I mean, if you compare the killing and terrorism between the two sides, the Israeli side clearly comes out on top in terrorism, wars, and aggression. He then lectures the Palestinians: "Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed." I read that and thought: wait. Did you not in the early part of the speech brag about how the US fought (non-violently, I may add) against British Empire?.....

His words about democracy are just as empty as they were under Bush: he just returned from Saudi Arabia, for potato's sake, and he has just refused to label Egyptian dictator as...autocrat. One of the most offensive part of the speech was his reference to religious freedom: he concludes that section by praising the Saudi imitative for inter-faith dialogue. So Obama takes Wahhabi doctrine as the model for religious freedoms. I understand you, now Obama. I understand you very well."

A Bush in sheep's clothing

Obama's speech shows little real change. In most regards his analysis maintains flawed American policies

Ali Abunimah, Thursday 4 June 2009

".....These carefully chosen words focus only on continued construction, not on the existence of the settlements themselves; they are entirely compatible with the peace process industry consensus that existing settlements will remain where they are for ever. This raises the question of where Obama thinks he is going. He summarised Palestinians' "legitimate aspirations" as being the establishment of a "state". This has become a convenient slogan to that is supposed to replace for Palestinians their pursuit of rights and justice that the proposed state actually denies. Obama is already on record opposing Palestinian refugees' right to return home, and has never supported the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to live free from racist and religious incitement, persecution and practices fanned by Israel's highest office holders and written into its laws.

He may have more determination than his predecessor but he remains committed to an unworkable two-state "vision" aimed not at restoring Palestinian rights, but preserving Israel as an enclave of Israeli Jewish privilege. It is a dead end."

There was one sentence in his speech I cheered for and which he should heed: "Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail."

Paradigmatic Progress?

In the Wake of the Gaza War


"....Ultimately, Abbas' confidence derives from his conviction that Obama will act where Bush failed and that active US engagement makes Israeli recalcitrance irrelevant and will enable him to outflank and marginalize Hamas - and, judging by his recent appointment of a government despite vehement opposition from within his own movement, Fatah as well.

While it stands to reason that Obama will seek to reinvigorate Bush's framework for addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is far from clear this will prove a boon to the intended beneficiary.

For one, the Islamists have sufficient power on the ground to deal effectively with any effort to strengthen their rival and cut them down to size. Perhaps more importantly, Palestinian popular opinion, while not necessarily supportive of Hamas' own program, appears to be swinging decisively against any revival of a process that exists for its own sake rather than for an irreversible end to occupation."

Dayton's Forces in the West Bank City of Qalqilyah Carry One of Their Dead, Today.

Real News Video: Report on Afghanistan

Anand Gopal: US focused on military approach but Iraq tactics can't work in Afghanistan

More at The Real News

"Paul Jay speaks to Anand Gopal, journalist for the Christian Science Monitor and many other publications about U.S. foreign policy in Afghanistan. “The U.S. administration,” says Gopal, “is currently fighting a counter-insurgency in Afghanistan, and every day they’re creating new Taliban insurgents because of their military actions.” Speaking to whether there is a fundamental change in the Obama Administrations’ approach to the country, Gopal adds, “every year has been more violent than the previous year, and I think this summer we’re going to see a lot more violence.”"

Muslims want actions, not words, from Obama

By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied East Jerusalem

".....America was supposed to be a shining city on a hill, but your country’s backing of dictatorial police states in our region is drastically incompatible with your declared ideals. Hypocrisy and moral duplicity can’t be instrumental in building an honest relationship between American and Muslims. This is true at the individual level as well as among nations and states.

Hence, Muslims want to communicate to you the following message. Don’t support Arab dictators, don’t buy their mendacious arguments and excuses, don’t allow yourself to be duped by their twisted rationales for the absence of democracy in their countries.

Otherwise, America will lose the battle for the hearts and minds of 1.6 billion Muslims and will only have itself to blame....."

Despite Israel's efforts, Palestinian festival celebrates literature

Sousan Hammad, The Electronic Intifada, 4 June 2009

"....Because the writers were aware of Israel's unjust treatment toward Palestinians, organizers agreed that to get a legitimate feel of Palestine they would travel as "Palestinians." This meant the caravan of writers dealt with the cattle-trade of checkpoints, interrogations, and more.

"We wanted the writers to travel how Palestinians travel. We didn't want them to have special treatment," Hamilton said......

But the law-making chimeras of Israel, it turns out, were not amused, and writers witnessed -- on a scale unprecedented to what Palestinians face every day -- Israel's draconian measures.

Minutes prior to the festival's start, armed Israeli police barricaded the National Theatre with a court order to shut the literature festival down. In badly written Arabic, the court order posted on the theater's door declared the festival illegal, according to Article 3A of a 1994 Interim Agreement, which determines the Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot open or operate a representative mission in the area considered to be the State of Israel without written permission by Israel.

Despite the festival having no connection to the PA, the theater's doors were locked and festival organizers, participants and attendees hastily relocated to a different venue where everyone helped set up chairs in the garden of the French Cultural Center......."

We are leaving on June 25th

The Free Gaza Movement

Hawks Push "Jordanian Option" for Palestine

By Daniel Luban

"WASHINGTON, Jun 3 (IPS) - As U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to deliver a major foreign policy speech in Cairo and his administration pushes aggressively for a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine, neoconservatives and other foreign policy hawks back home are calling on him to scrap the two-state solution altogether and consider alternatives to Palestinian statehood.

The most prominent alternative they are pushing is the so-called "three-state solution" or "Jordanian option", in which the West Bank would be returned to Jordanian control and the Gaza Strip to Egyptian control.

Although calls for a "three-state solution" have cropped up periodically over the years and have been dismissed by most Middle East experts as unrealistic, in recent weeks the three-state approach has received an unusual amount of attention and support on the right......"

Can Obama Work His Magic on Arabs?

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"Among many major misconceptions pertaining to Arabs and Muslims is the common belief that they are a weak-willed, irrelevant collective, easily influenced and effortlessly manipulated. This mistaken assumption underscores the very ailment that has afflicted US foreign policy in the Middle East for generations.....

If Obama continues to approach Arabs and Muslims as one single collective, ready to be manipulated and wooed with bogus promises, fancy rhetoric and impressive body language, then he will surely be disappointed.

Highly politicised, sceptical and, frankly, frustrated societies refuse to be reduced to a mere percentage in some opinion poll that can be swayed this way or that, whenever the US administration determines the time and place. It’s that incessant lack of depth that has caused the US so much in the Middle East, and will cost it even more if such imprudence persists."

The Media Annexed East Jerusalem

By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth
Palestine Chronicle

"......So, given their influence on world opinion and the vital importance of the settlement issue in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, can readers depend on the news agencies to provide fair coverage? The answer, sadly, is: no.

Even on the most basic fact about the settlers -- the number living on occupied Palestinian territory -- the agencies regularly get it wrong.

There are about half a million Jews living illegally on land occupied by Israel in the 1967 war. Give or take the odd few thousand (Israel is slow to update its figures), there are nearly 300,000 settlers in the West Bank and a further 200,000 in East Jerusalem.

Sounds simple. So what is to be made of this fairly typical line from a report issued by AFP last week: “More than 280,000 settlers currently live in settlements dotted throughout the Palestinian territory that Israel captured during the 1967 Six Day War”?....

It is the duty of reporters to remind their readers of the internationally accepted understandings about the settlements. They should not forget that international law, and possibly now the White House’s vision of peace, requires the removal of 200,000 settlers in East Jerusalem too."

Report Ties Dubious Iran Nuclear Docs to Israel

by Gareth Porter, June 04, 2009

"A report on Iran’s nuclear program issued by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month generated news stories publicizing an incendiary charge that U.S. intelligence is underestimating Iran’s progress in designing a "nuclear warhead" before the halt in nuclear weapons-related research in 2003.

That false and misleading charge from an intelligence official of a foreign country, who was not identified but was clearly Israeli, reinforces two of Israel’s key propaganda themes on Iran – that the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran is wrong, and that Tehran is poised to build nuclear weapons as soon as possible.

But it also provides new evidence that Israeli intelligence was the source of the collection of intelligence documents which have been used to accuse Iran of hiding nuclear weapons research....."

Could it be al-Qa'ida is missing Bush?

By Robert Fisk

"......Could it be, perhaps, that Bin Laden is beginning to miss old George Bush and his "war on terror", that the ever smiling Barack Obama is beginning to stick in Bin Laden's craw, that the fractional improvement in US-Arab relations is beginning to be a little irksome – or that, by some awful mischance – Obama actually might tame the colonial ambitions of Israel? Ironically it was Madeleine Albright – writing with the usual pomposity but with almost bin Laden-like directness in the New York Times – who also spotted that no Obama speech, "however eloquent, can disentangle US-Muslim relations from the treacherous terrain of current events such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan...".....

And, of course, everyone wants to be seen hugging the new American President. Grinning over his cardamom tea with the king in Riyadh yesterday, poor Obama is going to have to endure the embrace of Hosni Mubarak in Cairo today where the government press – almost as fawning as the Saudis – have been proclaiming that Obama's reference to the Egyptian president as a "stalwart ally" of peace proves that Egypt has yet again won its place at the centre of the Arab world.

Yes, Obama did actually call the old dictator a "stalwart ally", much to the disgust of the opposition in Egypt...."

Waiting for the Speech of the New Messiah!

By Emad Hajjaj

Imam Khamenei: US Ought to Act Instead of Talk


"04/06/2009 Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei lashed out at the United States on Thursday, saying it is deeply hated in the Middle East.
"The nations in the region hate the United States from the bottom of their hearts because they have seen violence, military intervention and discrimination," Imam Khamenei said. "The new US government seeks to transform this image. I say firmly, that this will not be achieved by words, speeches and slogans," he said on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the death of the Islamic republic's revolutionary founder Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Khomeini.

"They have done things that have deeply hurt the nations in the region... things are not going to be changed by speeches. He (Obama) has to do it in practice. Even if he delivers hundreds of speeches and talks very sweetly, there will not be a change in how the Islamic countries perceive the United States."

Imam Khamenei also accused the United States of "lying" about Tehran's nuclear program......."

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Palestinian Authority Going the Israeli Way

An Important Story

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Jun 3 (IPS) - A surge in confidence, following unprecedented U.S. political support, led to the Palestinian Authority's bloody crackdown on a Hamas cell in the northern West Bank on Sunday which left six Palestinians dead.

However, reports of questionable Palestinian Authority (PA) tactics, including the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields, has brought the operation into question and left many Palestinians angry......

Eyewitness reports suggest that in addition to the PA cooperating with Israel on an intelligence level, it also resorted to using some of Israel's arrest techniques.

One of Al-Jazeera's correspondents in the area was placed under arrest and taken for interrogation by PA intelligence officers after the network aired controversial footage......

But witnesses allege that the owner of the building and his wife, both elderly cancer patients, were used as human shields by the PA men, leading to the death of the man and serious injury to the woman. They further accuse PA forces of obstructing an ambulance trying to evacuate the wounded. The woman remains in hospital with her hand amputated. She is surrounded by PA security men who have refused to allow her family or friends to visit her.

Israeli soldiers have been videoed and documented regularly using Palestinian civilians as human shields and holding up ambulances trying to evacuate and help the wounded........

Strong U.S. support for the PA underlined during PA President Mahmoud Abbas's recent meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, practically coincided with the timing of the bloody gun battle in the north......

Some reports have alleged that the PA has warned the families of wanted Hamas activists that unless they gave themselves up, the PA would hunt the men down and kill them, something the Israelis have done on a regular basis when pursuing wanted fugitives......

But the danger remains. Unless Obama can force some kind of breakthrough in the near future, the unpopular and marginalised Abbas could see his fractured, western-backed government collapse completely.

Israel and the U.S. would then be left to deal with a strengthened and reinvigorated Hamas, which at the moment shows no signs of backing down."

اوباما يفضح ازدواجية حلفائه

اوباما يفضح ازدواجية حلفائه

رأي القدس

النقطة الأهم في هذه المقابلة في رأينا هي قول اوباما 'ان هناك العديد من الدول العربية تبدي قلقها من تطوير ايران لسلاح نووي، وتعتبر التهديد النووي الايراني اخطر من نظيره الاسرائيلي عليها'.
ومن المؤكد ان الرئيس اوباما يشير هنا الى دول محور الاعتدال العربي، وبالتحديد الى المملكة العربية السعودية ومصر والاردن ودول الخليج العربي الأخرى، لأنه، والمسؤولين في ادارته لا يلتقون الا بنظرائهم في هذه الدول، ويتعرفون بالتالي على مواقفهم الحقيقية تجاه تطورات البرنامج النووي الايراني.
الازدواجية ليست حكراً على المواقف الامريكية فقط، بل تمتد الى حلفاء واشنطن في المنطقة الذين ينتمون الى المدرسة الامريكية نفسها، فهؤلاء يقولون في تصريحاتهم الرسمية اشياء تتناقض كلياً مع ما يقولونه في الغرف المغلقة. ولذلك لم يكن غريباً ان يؤكد الرئيس الامريكي الأسبق جيمي كارتر بأنه لم يسمع مطلقاً من الزعماء العرب الذين التقاهم أي حديث عن ضرورة قيام دولة فلسطينية مستقلة، بينما كان هؤلاء يتحدثون عن هذه الدولة ليل نهار في اجهزة اعلامهم في حينها.
اوباما بمثل هذه التصريحات، ولا نشك مطلقاً في صحتها، ودقة توصيفها للزعماء العرب وازدواجية مواقفهم، يفضح اقرب حلفائه، وينزع ورقة التوت عن مواقفهم هذه، ويضعهم في موقف محرج امام شعوبهم.
فالشعوب العربية في معظمها لا تشاطر بعض زعمائها 'المعتدلين' قلقهم تجاه البرنامج النووي الايراني، ولا ترى مثلهم ان هذا البرنامج يشكل تهديداً اخطر من نظيره الاسرائيلي، بل ترى ان اسرائيل هي الخطر الاكبر التي تحتل الارض وترتكب المجازر، وتنتهك حقوق الانسان، وتستخدم ترسانتها النووية لابتزاز العرب وإرهاب زعمائهم.
من المؤسف ان مواقف بعض الزعماء العرب التي تتسم بالازدواجية والنفاق تجاه قضايا جوهرية تتطلب الصراحة والوضوح، تعود الى غياب المحاسبة الديمقراطية لهم من قبل برلمانات منتخبة وصحافة حرة، ومحاكم دستورية مستقلة.

Change We Can Believe in? You Bet. When Will They Do the Sword Dance?

Israeli Spies and Fake IDs

Coming Down to the Wire in Lebanon


".....The Spy Hunt

In the Burj Abu Haider section of Beirut this morning ( pro March 14th neighborhood) this observer found two main subjects being discussed by pro-Hariri poll workers. One is the concept of “Hasana Niyabya” or Parliamentary Immunity. This is important because in addition to the 38 alleged spies arrested (made possible by Hezbollah intelligence and technology working with Lebanon’s Internal Security Force (ISF) it is rumored that following Sunday’s voting no fewer than four current members of parliament allied with the US Team are going to be arrested for spying for Israel. The post election arrest of two Cabinet Ministers and “a higher political figure” are also hinted at. They are safe until they lose their parliamentary immunity when the votes are counted creating a new parliament.....

Fake Voter ID’s

Another new issue being discussed by poll workers is Minister Fouad Siniora’s announcement this morning of the existence of “information and reports whereby cases of ID forgery have been recorded.”

Why this observer took special notice of the announcement by Siniora is because of what has been happening in some villages. It relates to what I call the “Rent Voter’ ID Initiative”. It is practiced mainly in the south and works as follows: Longtime Hezbollah Shia opponent, Ahmad al-As’ad has set up an anti-Hezbollah Shia organization called the Lebanese Option Gathering and has fielded 19 candidates against Hezbollah. He openly admits getting a large quotient of Saudi support to compete against Hezbollah in the south and the Bekaa and is thought to be allied with the pro-US Hariri team. As’ad knows his group cannot win and that the overwhelming number of Shia will vote for Hezbollah. His goal is not so much to get voters to vote against Hezbollah, but to keep them from voting for Hezbollah. Then when the votes are counted, Israel and the anti-Hezbollah centers can declare that “Hezbollah is losing support among its base, because it got fewer votes than in 2005 etc.”......"

Mr. President, Help Us Free Gaza

An Open Letter to President Obama From the Free Gaza Movement

Free Gaza Movement

"....But you have also said that "part of being a good friend is being honest." Let's be honest.
Israel's ongoing occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the United States' unquestioned financial, military and political support for Israel is at the heart of the negative perceptions and bitter anger that many Arabs and Muslims have of the United States. Tomorrow, we hope to hear from you a commitment to aligning U.S. policy in the Middle East with U.N. Resolutions and international law......

On June 25th, the Free Gaza Movement sets sail on our eighth voyage to challenge the brutal Israeli blockade of Gaza. Though we have been threatened and our ships rammed by the Israeli navy, we will not be deterred. We sail in the spirit of the Freedom Riders who, in the year you were born, risked their lives so that African-Americans could travel freely in the United States.....

We in the Free Gaza Movement will sail to Gaza again and again and again, in vigorous unarmed resistance, until the Israeli blockade is forever shattered and the Palestinian people have free access to the rest of the world.....

Sincerely Yours,

The Free Gaza Movement Board of Directors
Huwaida Arraf, JD
Greta Berlin
Eliza Ernshire
Derek Graham
Fathi Jaouadi
Ramzi Kysia"

Al-Jazeera Video: Internet gains momentum in Lebanon elections - 3 Jun 09

"Conventional campaigning strategies usually involves spending millions of dollars, but at a much lower cost the internet is increasinly becoming an influential tool for people running for office.

with Lebanon's presidential elections underway, never more so has Facebook and YouTube played a larger and decisive role in Lebanese political affairs.

Al Jazeera's Rula Amin reports from Beirut where traditional election campaigning could be under threat. "

Meet Gilad Atzmon in America

"For our American readers, a chance to meet up with Gilad Atzmon during a week of speaking events for Palestine.

Houston, Texas
Wednesday June 3 8 -10PM, Station Museum of Contemporary Arts
Denver, Colorado
Thursday June 4 7pm, The Mercury Cafe 2199 California Street
Carbondale, Colorado
Friday June 5 Steve’s Guitars
Denver, Colorado
Saturday June 6 8pm The Mercury Cafe 2199 California Street
Saratoga, California
Sunday June 7 2pm, Studio Pink House, 14577 Big Basin Way 2nd Floor
Palo Alto, California
Sunday June 7 7 pm First Presbyrerian Church, 1140 Cowper, BFUU Hall, 1
Berkeley, California
Monday, June 8 7 pm, BFUU Hall, 1924 Cedar at Bonita.."

Can Obama Offer Change the Muslim World Can Believe In?

By Tony Karon

"The breakdown between the U.S. and “the Muslim world” is not a misunderstanding of values, or a communication failure; it’s entirely about U.S. actions and policies, rather than the rhetoric in which they’re wrapped. People in Muslim countries understand American values, or the values America professes to uphold, and many are passionately attached to some of those same values. What they expect of America is that it apply its own values when dealing with the Middle East. They would like very much, for example, the U.S. to act on that basis of Lincoln’s “self evident truth” that Palestinian men and women were created equal to Israeli men and women an approach Obama’s own Administration has yet to demonstrate....."

The shadow war in Balochistan

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"With or without using Jundallah for its own Iran-destabilizing agenda, Washington's "other" war is about to hit Balochistan in Pakistan full speed ahead. By mid-summer, the US's Afghan surge in troops will be in position. A new American mega-base in Helmand province's "desert of death" will be operational. Assassination teams, drone attacks and Hellfire missiles will boil this tense tri-border area. Shadowplay rules.....

All-out shadow war

...... It will mirror an already ongoing shadow war - which is the ISI war against Baloch nationalists; as Balochistan is virtually controlled by Islamabad's intelligence agencies, Islamabad cannot but systematically turn Balochis into victims of "targeted assassinations". For Islamabad, ethnic-based separatism is - in echoes of Israel - an "existential threat". Islamabad's reckless actions have only managed to turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy......

How better to apply Petraeus' tactics than to expand these teams into destabilizing Iran and preventing Iran and Pakistan from closer integration via a key Pipelineistan node - an integration that also benefits China? That is achievable with a Balochistan mired in chaos. From the Pentagon's point of view, China profiting from the Baloch port of Gwadar to be supplied with Iranian gas is anathema. Islamabad may not be allowed by Washington to take out Jundallah after all. Shadowplay rules. "

Gaza aid still in Egypt

Sacks of Gaza aid remain exposed in al-Arish.

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 3 June 2009

"....Other reasons for delays and difficulties in getting aid into Gaza are the frequent and unscheduled closures of the Rafah crossing, and the circuitous route that some aid has to take.
Significant quantities of aid -- mainly from Arab and Muslim countries -- have had to be trucked from al-Arish to al-Ouja (50km from Rafah on the Israeli-Egyptian border) and then to Israel's Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, according to the January 2009 Regional Humanitarian Update of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)....... "

Grim Milestone: 5,000 GIs Dead in Iraq, Afghanistan Wars

"Among the six U.S. servicemember deaths so far reported in June, one soldier has become the 5,000th casualty of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the wars have cost at least 4,308 lives in Iraq and 695 in Afghanistan. The official count from the Department of Defense, however, has the total number of deaths at 4,996 in both military campaigns. The D.O.D. figures often lag slightly behind those reported in the mass media......."

Stop Letting Cheney Frame the Torture Debate

by William S. Lind, June 03, 2009

"The recent fire/counterfire between President Obama and former vice president Dick Cheney over Guantánamo, the prisoners held there, and techniques used in their interrogation revealed a distressing ignorance in the White House. Specifically, it revealed that Obama and his advisers are ignorant of military theory......

Politicians usually roll their eyes when military theory is mentioned, deeming it too esoteric for "the real world." As President Obama’s inability to answer Cheney effectively shows, nothing could be further from the truth. The Bush administration led America into two quagmires, in Iraq and Afghanistan, because of its ignorance of the theory of Fourth Generation war. If the Obama White House continues to be as ignorant as its predecessor, it will set the country up for fresh disasters. A wise president will prefer to learn from theory than from failure. "

War With Iran: Has It Already Begun?

Obama talks peace with Iran, but what's he doing under the radar?

by Justin Raimondo, June 03, 2009

"In public, when it comes to the Iranian question, President Obama is all sweet reason and kissy-face. His recent video message to the Iranian people was just what the doctor ordered. However, this public performance is severely undercut by an ongoing covert program aimed at regime-change in Tehran – or, at least, at undermining the Iranian regime to such an extent that it must respond in some way.

This covert action program, reported by Seymour Hersh last year, was started by the Bush administration and funded to the tune of $400 million. The U.S. is, in effect, conducting a secret war against Tehran, a covert campaign aimed at recruiting Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities – who make up the majority of the population in certain regions, such as in the southeast borderlands near Pakistan – into a movement to topple the government in Tehran, or, at least, to create so much instability that U.S. intervention to "keep order" in the region is justified. Given recent events in Iran – a suicide bombing in the southeast province of Sistan-Baluchistan and at least two other incidents – the effort is apparently ongoing......"

Police state is the wrong venue for Obama's speech

By Robert Fisk

"Maybe Barack Obama chose Egypt for his "great message" to Muslims tomorrow because it contains a quarter of the world's Arab population, but he is also coming to one of the region's most repressed, undemocratic and ruthless police states. Egyptian human rights groups – when they are not themselves being harassed or closed down by the authorities – have recorded a breathtaking list of police torture, extra-judicial killings, political imprisonments and state-sanctioned assaults on opposition figures that continues to this day.....

Only a week ago, for example, the leader of the opposition Ghad party, Ayman Nour – only released from prison by President Hosni Mubarak's regime in February – complained that he was assaulted in a Cairo street by a man with a make-shift flamethrower, suffering first degree burns to his face. Mr Nour spent three years in jail and is outraged by Obama's visit. "It seems to have been intended to bolster the power of the regimes, not of the people," he said. "We are absolutely astonished that our Egyptian political and civil society are ignored. It gives the impression that American interests are more important than American principles." The investigations of human rights groups show Mr Nour has every reason to be angry.

The latest Cairo Institute for Human Rights (CIHR) report on government abuses in the Arab world is packed with examples of state brutality, including 29 cases of torture and ill-treatment in Egyptian police stations in just six months. The Egyptian Organisation of Human Rights, a separate group, discovered that 10 of the 29 died after torture....."

[Yes we Can! Torture that is!]

As the Charade of "Rift" with the U.S. Continues...... Netanyahu cites secret deal with Bush to justify more settlements

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

"The Israeli government of Benjmain Netanyahu is seeking to deflect Washington's demand for a total settlement freeze by complaining that it ignores secret agreements between his predecessors and the Bush administration that construction in existing Jewish settlements could continue......

Mr Weisglass said it had been agreed between Mr Sharon, himself, Mr Abrams and another US official, Stephen Hadley, that settlement growth could continue provided it did not involve new settlements, that no further "Palestinian land" would be expropriated, that expansion would be within the "existing construction line" and that public funds would not be used to encourage settlements. The Bush administration's secretary of state, Condoleeza Rice, confirmed the agreement, he said."