Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ongoing Normalizaion Between Israel and the House of Saud

Deputy FM Ayalon shakes hands with Saudi prince in rare gesture

(Left: Ayalon and Turki al-Faisal.)

"In a rare occurrence, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon shook the hand of Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki al-Faisal during the annual security conference in Munich on Saturday. The handshake was preceded by the prince's attempts at avoiding participation in a panel alongside Ayalon, a consequent uproar and a sharp American condemnation of the Saudi behavior.

The security conference took place over the weekend, and was attended by dozens of world leaders, foreign ministers and senior officials. On Saturday, a panel convened on the topic of the Middle East. The panel was to include both Ayalon and the Saudi prince, who formerly served as the head of the Saudi intelligence service, as well as the Turkish foreign minister, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman and senior Egyptian and Russian officials......"

The "Peace Process," by Emad Hajjaj

Video: Pro-Palestine protest held in Paris to pressure Israel

Hamas backtracks on apology over harming civilians

Contributed by Molly


"The Hamas government in Gaza on Saturday backtracked on its apology earlier this week in which it expressed regret for harming Israeli civilians in rocket attacks.

The apology had signaled a rare deviation from Hamas' violent ideology, and the subsequent zigzag reflects the Islamic militants' conflicting objectives.

Hamas, which seized Gaza by force in 2007, is trying to reach out to the West in hopes of winning recognition and getting Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza. However, Hamas is also reluctant to discard its violent ideology for fear of losing credibility at home.

The apology for the rockets was part of the Hamas government's response to a U.N. report that alleged both Hamas and Israel committed war crimes during Israel's three-week Gaza offensive last winter.......

Hamas wrote to the U.N. that its primitive rockets were not intended to hit civilians, but often strayed from their course. It said the rockets were meant to defend Gazans against Israeli military strikes, but also maintained that the Palestinians have a right to resist Israeli occupation.

"We apologize for any harm that might have come to Israeli civilians," the Hamas government wrote.

On Saturday, the government claimed the response to the U.N. was misinterpreted.

"The report that was submitted regarding the Goldstone report does not include any apologies and what took place was an incorrect interpretation of some of its wording," the government said in a statement. It did not attempt to explain the contradiction and Hamas officials declined comment.......

Hamas likely came under domestic pressure to retract the apology after it became public, said Gaza analyst Naji Sharrab. "They are addressing two different audiences," Sharrab said of Hamas....... "

The presence of the Palestinian in the Israeli painter's eye

Many of the Tel Aviv paintings show an emergent Israel with fewer Arabs

By Robert Fisk

"The Palestinians celebrate their lost land with poetry and art, but always it is a place of lost oranges and olive trees and snug village houses, a mixture of Mahmoud Darwish and old David Roberts prints which show Arab men leaning on ancient wells beside classical ruins, proving that Palestine was not, as the popular Zionist narrative would have us believe, a land without people.

So – on the principle that I always try to consume one art gallery in every town in the world in which I set foot – I tiptoed into the Tel Aviv Museum of Art off Shaul Hamelech Boulevard this week to take a look at how the Jews of Palestine saw their would-be homeland before the 1947-48 Arab exodus......

And as the years pass, Arab villages are no longer inhabited by Arabs. There's a magnificent landscape of Jerusalem in 1960 – Blum again – in which, I suddenly realised, the Al-Aqsa mosque does not exist. It should lie, from the painter's location in the west of the city, on the horizon to the left of the King David Hotel, above and to the right of the Jaffa Gate. But it is not there. It has disappeared. Why? Does life imitate art? Or does art imitate what the Israelis like to call "facts on the ground"? Or dreams? I came out of the museum this week and looked at the still life opposite, the tower of the Israeli defence ministry. From here were sent out the orders for Operation Litani and Operation Peace for Galilee and Operation Grapes of Wrath and, just as notoriously, last year's Operation Cast Lead. Who dare paint the results?"

BAE and the Saudis: How secret cash payments oiled £43bn arms deal

BAE admits wrongdoing after US justice department lays out how British firm used intermediaries to hide money

David Leigh and Rob Evans, Friday 5 February 2010

"The Saudi contract called al-Yamamah – which means "the dove" – was Britain's largest-ever arms agreement, and the source of intense scrutiny and controversy ever since it was signed in the mid-1980s.

Today – after years of denying claims of corruption and bribes – the company finally admitted that the deal was mired in wrongdoing.

The US department of justice today filed a telling indictment to which BAE has agreed to plead guilty.

It says, among other accusations, that BAE "used intermediaries and shell entities to conceal payments to certain advisers who were assisting in the … [Saudi] fighter deals".....

It was important enough for the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, to be involved in helping to clinch the long-running deal in 1985. And, standing behind the politicians at the signing ceremony, was the smiling Prince Bandar, son of the Saudi defence minister [now crown prince] Sultan. It was later to become plain how much he had to be pleased about......

It transpired that Tony Blair had written a "secret and personal" letter to Goldsmith demanding that he stop the investigation.

He hoped for a new arms deal from the Saudis. Plus, he claimed, there was a "real and immediate risk of a collapse in UK/Saudi security, intelligence and diplomatic co-operation"......"

Bandar: We Are Corrupt; So What!

Report: Assassins of Hamas official used Irish passports

The assassins of senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was found dead January 20 in Dubai, traveled to the Gulf country using Irish passports, according to a report in the Irish Herald.

Up to seven people were said to have been involved in Mabhouh's killing, four of whom used Irish passports to enter Dubai and who later fled to a "European country" after the killing, police sources in Dubai told the newspaper.

However, both Hamas and Dubai police have said that Mabhouh had enemies across the Middle East, any of whom may have had a motive for his murder.

A Hamas source told Haaretz on Monday that Mabhouh was wanted by authorities in both Jordan and Egypt, where he previously spent a year in prison

Angry Arab: Hizbullah: Its Sectarian Manifestations.

Important analysis by angry arab about Hizbullah its history and role today.

مناسبة الحديث هذا هو اللقاء الأخير بين عمّار الحكيم (زعيم ميليشيا بدر الطائفيّة الشيعيّة) وحسن نصر الله. اللقاء ليس عفويّاً. وجاء في بيان رسمي عن الحزب أن الاثنيْن بحثا في «مواجهة مشاريع الفتنة الطائفيّة والمذهبيّة». هذه العبارة تحتاج لتشريح، وخصوصاً أن ميليشيا بدر شكّلت دعامة أساسيّة في مشروع تركيب العراق الطائفي والمذهبي على يد المحتل. العلاقة بين الطرفيْن لا يمكن أن تُدرج في إطار الأهداف المُعلنة لحزب الله، في لبنان أو في الشرق الأوسط، إلا إذا كانت ميليشيا بدر تحارب إسرائيل عبر تحالفها مع المحتلّ الأميركي.

أما الجانب الآخر من علاقة الحزب بالمسألة العراقيّة، فتجلّت في اللقاء بين عمّار الحكيم وحسن نصر الله. ويترأس عمّار الحكيم ميليشيا مُساندة للاحتلال (طبعاً، يعمل الاحتلال على ضم الميليشيات المُوالية له، مثل عصابات الأنبار المُسلّحة وميليشيا بدر، داخل صفوف القوّات المسلّحة. وينطبق الأمر نفسه على بناء القوّات المسلّحة في أفغانستان، إلا أن المحتلّ الأميركي وفارس سعيد يرفضان أي وجود مُسلّح في لبنان خارج نطاق الجيش، وكانت الولايات المتحدة وأطراف في لبنان معجبة أيّما إعجاب بميليشيا أنطوان لحد في الجنوب، قبل هروب عناصرها وقادتها مذعورين بعد تحرير معظم الجنوب عام 2000). والحركة السياسيّة لميليشيا بدر كانت عماداً مبكّراً للاحتلال الأميركي للعراق، كما أنها ساهمت في تأجيج الفتنة المذهبيّة في العراق، تلك الفتنة التي كانت جزءاً لا يتجزّأ من خطة الاحتلال (مُباشرةً أم مداورةً) كما ورد في تقرير لمجموعة الأزمات الدوليّة. وميليشيا بدر قامت بتهجير الشعب الفلسطيني من العراق حيث يقبعون في خيم على الحدود (كما قامت ميليشيا آل الصباح في الكويت بتهجير الشعب الفلسطيني من الكويت بعد تنصيبهم على يد القوات الأميركيّة في حرب الخليج الأولى). وقد تخلّت ميليشيا بدر عن نظريّة ولاية الفقيه، وأبدلت الخامنئي بالسيستاني. ومرّة أخرى، لا يستطيع المرء أن يستشفّ سبب التلاقي بين حزب الله وعمّار الحكيم الذي يمثّل مهادنة الاحتلال، لا مقاومته، إلا... التعاضد الطائفي المذهبي.

The New and Improved, Moderate Hamas, Says it is Sorry! Arafat Could not Have Said it Better. Reconciliation Now!

تل ابيب ترفض "آسفَ" حماس عن مقتل مدنيين اسرائيليين وتقول انه غير صادق..!

في اول رد فعل رسمي، على تعبير حركة حماس عن "أسفها" لمقتل مدنيين اسرائيليين خلال العدوان الإسرائيلي على غزة، اعلنت تل ابيب رفضها "للاعتذار" وووصفته بانه غير صادق..

يذكر ان ثلاثة مدنيين اسرائيليين فقط قتلوا جراء سقوط صواريخ المقاومة على مستوطنات اسرائيلية ردا على العدوان على غزة قبل عام بينما وصل عدد الشهداء المدنيين الفلسطينين الى 1500 شهيد بالاضافة الى آلاف الجرحى والدمار الهائل الذي تسبب به العدوان في البنى التحية في مجمل قطاع غزة المحاصر...
وقال مسؤول من حركة حماس في غزة لمراسل رويترز ردا على سؤال عما اذا كان الاعراب عن الاعتذار في التقرير المرسل الى الامم المتحدة يمثل تغييرا في استراتيجية حماس فقال لرويترز: "لا يوجد تغيير في سياسة الحركة وهذا يتضمن موقفنا من العمليات الاستشهادية".


This is the art of doubletalk, perfected by Arafat. In Arabic, when Arafat was asked, "is this yes or no?" He would say, "Nyes;" in Arabic, "la'am!"

بعض الصياغات فُسِّرت بشكل خاطئ
حكومة هنية: لم نعتذر في ردُّنا على "غولدستون

"أكدت الحكومة الفلسطينية برئاسة إسماعيل هنية أن المقاومة حقٌّ مشروعٌ لكل أبناء الشعب الفلسطيني في مواجهة العدوان، مشددةً على أنه حقٌّ كفلته كافة الشرائع والقوانين الدولية.

وأشارت الحكومة في تصريحٍ صحفي تلقَّى "المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام" نسخةً منه اليوم السبت (6-2) إلى أن التقرير الذي رفعته لا يتضمن أيَّ اعتذارات بهذا الخصوص، وأنه جرى تفسير بعض الصياغات تفسيرًا خاطئًا.

وقالت: "لم ترِد إلينا حتى اللحظة أية ملاحظات من قِبَل الأمم المتحدة، بخصوص ما ورد في التقرير الذي رفعناه، في حين أن أية ادِّعاءات صهيونية بإصابة أهداف مدنية يعوزه الإثبات والدليل، ولا سيما أن حكومة الاحتلال الصهيوني ترفض التعاون مع أية جهات حقوقية أو دولية للتحقيق في عدوانهم على غزة؛ مما يزيدنا تشكيكًا في كل روايات العدو الصهيوني، الذي تعمَّد إصابة المدنيين الفلسطينيين وقتلهم في غزة، واستخدامه أسلحةً محرمةً دوليًّا في قصف المدنيِّين والبيوت والمدارس والمساجد والمؤسسات الآهلة بالسكان والمؤسسات الدولية".

وأشارت إلى أن التقرير رُفع باسم الحكومة الفلسطينية وليس باسم حركة "حماس" وغيرها من فصائل المقاومة.

This is really pathetic, even by the standards of the lousy Arafat.

First to play the old game of denial and saying something in English, while denying it in Arabic. This is getting to be so old and nauseating.

Second, to say that the report (response to Goldstone's report) was in the name of "the Palestinian government," and not in the name of Hamas, is a silly exercise in obfuscation. Who was fighting? Was it Hamas, or "the Palestinian government?"

Enough of these silly and stupid word games. We had our fill of those from the Arafat days.

Syria Says 'Ready for Peace, but Also for War'


"06/02/2010 Syria believes that the recent threats directed by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman against the regime in Damascus reflects the Israeli government's intention to wage new wars in the Middle East, an editorial published by the official Tishreen newspaper on Saturday.

According to the Syrian regime's mouthpiece, "Israel thought it could wage wars and not suffer the consequences – but it was wrong. It (Israel) tested the patience of Syria and the Arab and Islamic nations – and it turned out that this patience has its limits. Israel is testing Syria's determination to return its conquered land by all the legitimate means at its disposal."[Any day now? Or as the regime has been saying for the past 37 years, "at the right time and place?"]

"The path to peace is open and its conditions are known, but the path of destruction can also open the moment Israel complies with the aggressive tendencies of leaders who have crime running in their veins and their way is the way of the mafia," the editorial read......"

Friday, February 5, 2010

Desmond Travis(The Goldstone report): Israel created the myth of Hamas using human shields

Desmond Travis – We found no evidence for the human shield phenomenon but, to be honest, I did expect to come across it.
HC – So who made these allegations (against Hamas) in the first place?
DT – The Israelis.
HC – But if they weren’t co-operating, how did they tell you about it?
DT – It was in the media reports. They made no formal statements. Here’s a little thing nobody has ever raised and I want you to think about this. There were functionaries in combat uniform and in civilian attire, Arab speaking, operating in Gaza. These were Israeli combat troops specially trained to operate in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in civilian attire. They worked as ‘franc-tireurs’ (literally “free shooters”) and could have been in a position to cause confusion among the population. It is for this reason that if there was evidence of Hamas intimidation of any kind, it would have been necessary for me, an investigator, to determine by identification who the perpetrators were.
The Israelis themselves have admitted it; if you go to military websites, there are reams of stuff about special Israeli combat troops trained to work in the West Bank and in Gaza infiltrating into the area and working behind the scenes before, during and after the actual ground invasion. What I’m saying to you is, if somebody tells me there is a Hamas operative doing something on some street corner I have to ask, can you identify him for me because, we don’t know.

Desmond Travis ( co-author of the Goldstone report): IDF regularly used the human shield tactic

...the Israelis had got a 59 year old man and made him go into this house where there were three Hamas operatives in hiding, repeatedly, because they wouldn’t go in themselves. This human shield tactic, known among the IDF soldiers as the “Johnny” or “Good Neighbour” tactic brings me to another point. It was practiced and applied in all the Israeli brigade areas in Gaza and is strongly indicative of prior training. It does, however, also reveal an emphasis in that training on “risk aversion”. This aversion in turn imposed the transference of such risk onto the civilian population be they women or children. This is very troubling for various reasons but one in particular to me, an ex-soldier, and it is this: What is an army that commits its soldiers to avoidance of risk? Whatever it is now, it is no longer an army, in my view.

Ethan Bronner's Conflict With Impartiality

NYT's Israel Editor's Sticky Situation


(Photo: Ethan Bronner)

"Ethan Bronner is the New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief. As such, he is the editor responsible for all the news coming out of Israel-Palestine. It is his job to decide what gets reported and what doesn’t; what goes in a story and what gets cut.

To a considerable degree, he determines what readers of arguably the nation’s most influential newspaper learn about Israel and its adversaries, and, especially, what they don’t.

His son just joined the Israeli army......

Recently, the Israeli organization "Breaking the Silence" published 96 testimonies by female Israeli soldiers. They describe a pervasive pattern of violence, harassment, theft, and humiliation practiced by Israeli forces against Palestinian men, women, and children. Below are excerpts.....

An officer described soldiers shooting to death a nine-year-old as he was trying to run away: “They shot in the air, as they say – shot in the air in the lungs…”

In their testimonies, these soldiers emphasize that mistreatment of Palestinian civilians is widespread, routine, and known to everyone. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian press have published excerpts.

Yet, New York Times Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner has so far failed to report this information about Israeli forces.

And his son has just joined up."

Is his son the ultimate "embedded" reporter?

Yemeni Journalist Nasser Arabyee: U.S. Involvement Undermines Sound Response to Yemen-Based Militants

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"Yemen has been the focus of growing international concern over insecurity and Islamist extremism. U.S. officials say the suspect in the failed Christmas Day bombing is now providing valuable intelligence in hunting the U.S.-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who the Obama administration has approved for assassination. Democracy Now!’s Anjali Kamat speaks to Yemeni journalist Nasser Arabyee, who writes for the Dubai-based Gulf News and the Cairo-based Al-Ahram weekly...."

Pressure continues on Veolia and Alstom to halt light rail project

Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 5 February 2010

"French transport giants Veolia and Alstom are involved in the construction and running of a light rail line which connects West Jerusalem to several illegal settlements in or surrounding occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem. The light rail project is part of the "Jerusalem Transportation Master Plan" sponsored by the Israeli government and the Jerusalem municipality. In reality, the project is intended to strengthen Israel's grip on occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinian officials recently announced that they will call on Arab countries to end business ties with Veolia and Alstom at the planned Arab League summit in March.[Lots of luck with these eunuchs; they control nothing. They only obey orders from Washington.] ......."

Feb 6: Haidar Eid will speak live by video from Gaza, Burlingame, CA 6.30PM #GFM

"Commemoration of the Gaza Massacre
Saturday, February 6th 2010 6:30pm
Burlingame, CA
Commemoration of the Gaza Massacre

… and the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The young will grow to continue our struggle for liberation.

A night of poetry, reflection and celebration of resistance

Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Professor Haidar Eid....."

Gazans Denied Justice as Rights Take a Beating

Gazans Denied Justice as Rights Take a Beating

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Feb 5, 2010 (IPS) - Gazans hoping for a modicum of justice following Israel’s indiscriminate military assault on the coastal territory during December 2008 and January 2009 - which left 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, dead - could be waiting in vain.

The Israeli government has taken the offensive in the propaganda battle and attacked United Nations-appointed Justice Richard Goldstone’s report into war crimes committed during the war.....

During 'Operation Cast Lead' foreign correspondents were briefed by the IDF that excessive military firepower was used against homes where soldiers merely assumed a gunman could be taking refuge.

A house where they suspected the presence of a fighter would be hit with an aerial missile, two tank shells and then a bulldozer before even considering the presence of civilian families.

Critics argue that if Israel can justify this indiscriminate shelling of predominantly Palestinian civilian targets, on the pretext of the alleged presence of a military person, then Palestinian military organisations could likewise justify the bombing of Israeli buses or restaurants which are regularly patronised by Israeli military personnel......."

EGYPT: Minimum Wage Not Enough

By Cam McGrath

"CAIRO, Feb 4, 2010 (IPS) - A stalemate between labour unions and business associations is preventing Egyptian authorities from setting a minimum wage that could improve the lot of millions of citizens living in poverty.

Egypt's minimum wage has been 35 Egyptian pounds (6.50 dollars) per month since 1984. When bonuses, incentives and annual increases are included, the minimum monthly salary of government employees and public sector workers reaches 289 Egyptian pounds (53 dollars). Some private sector employees earn much less.

"Our salaries have not kept pace with inflation," says Mohamed Bayoumi, a department store clerk who supports his family on just 300 Egyptian pounds (55 dollars) per month. "When we complain, our managers say we are lucky to have jobs."....."

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — Don’t Go

Gays in the military

by Justin Raimondo, February 05, 2010

".....For years, the US military has proscribed, tracked down, harassed, prosecuted, and imprisoned lesbians and gay men, entrapping them, depriving them of their pensions, and disrespecting them as people – and now that they’re desperate, and backed up against a wall, with an unpopular couple of wars to fight, suddenly they need us, they want us, and, by the way, they’re oh-so-sorry about the past.

Anyone who agrees to such a deal — far from being noble, or even patriotic — must be suffering from an enormous lack of self-esteem. We hear so much about “gay pride,” these days – so what kind of “pride” is that?

Finally, to any gay person contemplating a military career at this point, I have to ask: are you ready to not ask and not tell about the atrocities you could well be ordered to commit? If not, then my advice to you is simple: forget “don’t ask, don’t tell” – and just don’t go."

There's real hope from Haiti and it's not what you expect

When people live so close to the edge, even small price increases can break them

A Very Good Comment
By Johann Hari

"....To understand what has happened, you have to delve into a long-suppressed history – one you are not supposed to hear. Since the 1970s, we have been told that the gospel of the Free Market has rolled out across the world because the People demand it. We have been informed that free elections will lead ineluctably to people choosing to roll back the state, privatise the essentials of life, and leave the rich to work their magic for us all. We have seen these trends wash across the world because ordinary people believe they offer the best possible system.

There's just one snag: it's not true. In reality, this gospel has proved impossible to impose in any democracy.....

The gospel spread across the poor world because their governments were given no choice. In her masterpiece The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein shows how these policies were forced on the world's poor against their will. Sometimes rich governments did it simply by killing the elected leaders and installing a servile dictator, as in Chile. Usually the methods were more subtle......The medicine was always the same: end all subsidies for the poor, slash state spending on health and education, deregulate your financial sector, throw your markets open......

Even Professor Jeffrey Sachs – one of their former lackeys – calls the IMF "the Typhoid Mary of emerging markets, spreading recessions in country after country". So why do they carry on like this? Primarily, it is because IMF programmes work very well – for the rich.....

Here's where Haiti comes in. The IMF agenda has often been forced on populations when they are least able to resist – after a military coup, a massacre, or a natural disaster.......

After the earthquake, something similar was poised to happen to Haiti. The IMF announced a $100m loan, stapled on to an earlier loan, which requires Haiti to raise electricity prices, and freeze wages for the public-sector workers who are needed to rebuild the country. So when people emerged from the rubble, they would find an economy rigged even more heavily against them......

But something new and startling happened this month. For the first time, the IMF was stopped from shafting a poor country – by a rebellion here in the rich world. Hours after the quake, a Facebook group called "No Shock Doctrine For Haiti" had tens of thousands of members, and orchestrated a petition to the IMF of over 150,000 signatures demanding the loan become a no-strings grant. After Naomi Klein's mega-selling exposé, there was a vigilant public who wanted to see that the money they were donating to charity was not going to be cancelled out by the IMF.

And it worked. The IMF backed down......"

US far from winning in Afghanistan: McChrystal

Press TV

"The commander of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, says the coalition forces are "not winning" the war in Afghanistan.

McChrystal made remarks at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Turkey.

He told reporters in Istanbul on Thursday that he does not believe the allied efforts in Afghanistan has "turned a corner."

"I'm not prepared to say that we've turned the corner."

"I still will tell you that I believe the situation in Afghanistan is serious," McChrystal said on the sidelines of the Istanbul summit.

While US President Barack Obama was considering a troop surge last October, McChrystal had warned that the situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating and the coalition risked failure if it did not send more troops......"

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

Thursday, February 4, 2010

How to make the case for Israel and win (or your money back guaranteed)

A HILARIOUS and revigorating post from Jews Sans Frontieres:

"To the benefit of the many not-very-bright zionist wannabe apologists who read this blog assiduously, I decided to offer a clear and simple method of arguing the case for Israel. This clear and simple method has been distilled from a life spent listening to and reading Zionist propaganda. It is easy to follow and results are guaranteed or your money back.

So don't hesitate! Take advantage NOW of this revolutionary rhetorical system that will make YOU a great apologist for Israel in less time than it takes to shoot a Palestinian toddler in the eye.


Direct Quotes: Bashar Assad


Posted by Seymour M. Hersh
The New Yorker

"I spoke to Bashar Assad, the president of Syria, this winter in Damascus. Assad assumed the presidency after his father’s death, in 2000, when he was thirty-four years old, and he expressed some empathy for President Barack Obama, who, like Assad, was confronted with a steep learning curve.

One note: a transcript of our talk, provided by Assad’s office, was generally accurate but it did not include an exchange we had about intelligence. A senior Syrian official had told me that, last year, Syria, which is on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, had renewed its sharing of intelligence on terrorism with the C.I.A. and with Britain’s MI6, after a request from Obama that was relayed by George Mitchell, the President’s envoy for the Middle East. (The White House declined to comment.) Assad said that he had agreed to do so, and then added that he also has warned Mitchell “that if nothing happens from the other side”—in terms of political progress—“we will stop it.”

Quotes from our conversation follow......"

Real News Video with Transcript: New mindset for US foreign policy? Pt.3

Peter Dale Scot: The military-industrial-counterterrorism complex is beyond Eisenhower's worst nightmare

Staring at the abyss

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"On Indonesia's tropical island of Bali, everything is about sekala and niskala, ritual and the occult. In the United States, the Pentagon has its occult as it continues its descent into the ghostly abyss of its "long war". When President Obama visits Indonesia next month, he'd do well to do some soul-searching on Bali if he is to avoid being permanently engulfed by hungry ghosts....

Last weekend, the Pentagon told the Obama administration to tell the whole of US media that it was stepping up its war machine (from extra Patriot missile batteries in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to Aegis-class cruisers on permanent patrol) against possible missile attacks by Iran on those helpless peons to democracy - the Arab Gulf petro-monarchies.

The operative word is "possible". Former president George W Bush's preventive war ethos rules more than ever in Washington. It does not matter that the possibility of Tehran launching a first strike on any US Arab ally is as high as corporations not owning US democracy. And by the way, what happened to missile defense in Eastern Europe, also supposed to protect it from those same evil Tehran missiles?......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Gaza's water supply near collapse

"The Gaza Strip's underground water supply is in danger of collapse due to overuse and contamination, exacerbated by Israel's offensive in December.

Billions of dollars could be needed over the next 20 years to restore Gaza's aquifer. Meanwhile, Palestinians have taken the onus of re-developing their water system before matters get any worse

Al Jazeera's Casey Kauffman reports. "

Al-Jazeera Video: Adjusting to life one year after Israel's war on Gaza

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Hope for Middle East talks?

Featuring Ali Abunimah

"Inside Story discusses why Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has suddenly lowered his ceiling of demands for resuming peace talks with Israel."

Robbery Unto The Nations.....

Report: Israel Stole $2bn from Palestinian Workers

By Jonathan Cook
Palestine Chronicle

"Over the past four decades Israel has defrauded Palestinians working inside Israel of more than $2 billion by deducting from their salaries contributions for welfare benefits to which they were never entitled, Israeli economists have revealed.

A new report, “State Robbery”, to be published later this month, says the “theft” continued even after the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994 and part of the money was supposed to be transferred to a special fund on behalf of the workers......"

Beware the Iron Wall, the Coming War

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"........Israeli official policy – military or otherwise - is governed by the same Zionist diktats that long preceded the establishment of the state of Israel. If anything has changed since early Zionists outlined their vision, it was the interpretation of those directives. The substance has remained intact.

For example, Zionist visionary, Vladimir Jabotinsky stated in 1923 that Zionist “colonization can…continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population – an iron wall which the native population cannot break through.” He was not then referring to an actual wall. While his vision took on various manifestations throughout the years, in 2002 it was translated into a real wall aimed at prejudicing any just solution with the Palestinians. Now, most unfortunately, Egypt has also started building its own steel wall along its border with the war-devastated and impoverished Gaza Strip......

Peled is of course right. There will be a new confrontation. New strategies will be employed. Israel will raise the stakes, and will try to draw Syria in, and push for a regional war. A Lebanon that defines itself based on the terms of resistance – following the failure to politically co-opt Hizbullah – is utterly unacceptable from the Israeli viewpoint. That said, Peled might be creating a measured distraction from efforts aimed at igniting yet another war - against the besieged resistance in Gaza, or something entirely different. (Hamas’ recent announcement that its senior military leader Mahmoud al- Mabhouh was killed late January in Dubai at the hands of Israeli intelligence is also an indication of the involved efforts of Israel that goes much further than specific boundaries.)

Will it be Gaza or Lebanon first? Israel is sending mixed messages, and deliberately so. Hamas, Hizbullah and their supporters understand well the Israeli tactic and must be preparing for the various possibilities. They know Israel cannot live without its iron walls, and are determined to prevent any more from being built at their expense."

Rendition victim moves to sue US


"A Canadian man who was deported by US officials to Syria, where he was imprisoned and allegedly tortured, has appealed a court ruling preventing him from suing the US.

Maher Arar filed a lawsuit before the US supreme court on Monday, appealing a lower court ruling that rejected his case because it involved national security information.

Arar was arrested by US authorities while transiting through New York's JFK International Airport in 2002, on his way home to Canada from a family vacation in Tunis.....

US authorities held him in solitary confinement and interrogated him for nearly two weeks before deporting him to Syria.

He was imprisoned for a year in Damascus, the Syrian capital, during which time he says he was tortured before finally being released and returned to Canada.

A Canadian commission eventually cleared him of any connections to "terrorist" organisations and concluded that he had been tortured. He was awarded $10.5m in compensation.

Arar's suit before the Supreme Court questions whether "federal officials who conspired with Syrian officials to subject an individual in US custody to torture in Syria may be sued for damages"......"

Sun Tzu and America’s Way of War

by Jon Basil Utley, February 04, 2010

"....Following are some of Sun Tzu’s main maxims from The Art of War and how and why America breaks them:

"The best victory is to win without actually fighting. Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting."

Americans instead want to start the fighting; there is little interest in winning without war.....

"Know thyself and know thy enemy. If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."

War for most Americas is sort of like a football game: one "wins" and then goes home. Knowing our own weaknesses, much less those of our enemy, is irrelevant for the war-wanters.....

"There is no instance of a country having benefited from a long war."

War is very profitable in America for all sorts of interests and careers.....

"Try to break up your enemy’s alliances."

Instead, America succeeds in agitating and killing disparate Muslims so that they unite against us, e.g., the Sunnis and Shi’ites and most of the Muslim world.....

"The best thing is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good."

Instead we turned Iraq into a broken nation......

"Empires are lost when inadequate men become leaders and wage war for base reasons or for no reason at all. "

King George lost his American colonies through stupid tax policies; World War I cost England, Austria, Russia, and Turkey their empires. George Bush’s war obviously fits.... "

Onward Christian Soldiers, Again

by Philip Giraldi, February 04, 2010

"......And then there is the hypocrisy issue. I would suspect that all of the signatories of the letter are supporters of the right to life movement. Some may even have participated in the annual March for Life which draws hundreds of thousands to Washington every January 22nd. If life is sacred, a view that I share, surely the lives of Iranian children who would die if the United States or Israel attacks their country are just as precious as the unborn. Christian leaders should be working hard to preserve lives, not to destroy them and their values should be consistent with Christian teaching, not with a political agenda focused on a country that they have effectively demonized. As Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) stated in 2003, "There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a ‘just war.’" I challenge Pat Robertson, Richard Land, and John Hagee to identify for me a part of the New Testament that justifies in any way punishing people because of what they might do. Or that approves of preemptive war. If Christ were to return to the earth today one might reasonably ask whether he would recognize those who preach in his name who have apparently abandoned the historic and deeply held Christian traditions of peace and reconciliation and instead are advocating a course that could well lead to war."

إبعاد أميركا عن قضية فلسطين

"ثمة ارتباك كبير تشهده عملية التسوية، بل حتى ارتباك في إطلاق عملية المفاوضات. ويرجع ذلك -أولاً وقبل كل شيء- إلى فشل إدارة أوباما وعجزها، وليس إلى تطرّف حكومة نتنياهو وتعنتّها. كما يحلو للمراهنين على أميركا إرجاع سبب ذلك الارتباك، وليس إلى تعقيد الوضع من جهتَيْ المفاوضيْن الفلسطيني والإسرائيلي في آن واحد، كما فسّر الرئيس الأميركي باراك أوباما تعثر مهمة جورج ميتشل، في حديثه الأخير في مجلة "تايم" الأميركية، وليس بسبب المبالغة التي اتسّمت بها مهمة جورج ميتشل.

المشكل في جوهره يتجسّد في الراعي الأميركي نفسه ليس في عهد أوباما ميتشل فحسب، وليس في عهد جورج دبليو بوش فحسب، وإنما أيضاً في عهد بيل كلينتون. هذا إذا لم نعد إلى الخمسين سنة الماضية في مرحلة الحرب الباردة والسياسات الأميركية المتعلقة بالموضوع الفلسطيني والصراع العربي الصهيوني
إذا ما تعلمنا من التجربة واستقينا الدرس منها جيداً فسوف تأتي النتيجة بضرورة إبعاد أميركا عن العملية، ورفض رعايتها لها، بل التراجع عن التسوية من أساسها ليُصار إلى وضع إستراتيجية مغايرة
وبكلمة، إذا كان الرهان على أميركا وهي قادرة وقويّة مدمِّراً وكارثياً، كما أثبتت التجربة، فكيف الرهان عليها في عهد أوباما وهي فاشلة وعاجزة كما أثبتت تجربة السنة الفائتة فضلاً عما يحمله الآن مشروع ميتشل في جولاته المكوكية بعد فشل مشروعه السابق، وبعد أن أصبح أكثر تماهياً مع مشروع نتنياهو لإطلاق المفاوضات؟

أما إذا سأل أحد من المسؤولين ما البديل؟ فعليه أن يعود إلى بيته لأن من ليس عنده غير بديل واحد هو الرهان على أميركا فبيته أفضل من رهان خاسر ومدمّر له إذا فشل وخيرٌ له أيضاً من توصّل أميركا إلى تسوية لأن ذلك سيعني تصفية القضية الفلسطينية وفقاً لمشروع نتنياهو.

Blair: US Govt Can Kill Citizens Overseas as Part of ‘Defined Policy’

In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee today, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair told representatives that American citizens can be assassinated by the US government when they are oveseas.

Blair said the comments were intended to “reassure” Americans that there was a “set of defined policy and legal procedures” in place and that such assassinations are always carried out by the book.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R – MI) inquired about the procedures involved, asking what the legal framework was under which Americans could be killed by the intelligence community.

The question has been increasingly important as the Obama Administration attempts to help the Yemeni government assassinate Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric who is not accused of any crimes by the US government. The administration maintains that secret evidence exists linking Awlaki to terrorism.

The lessons of Iraq have been ignored. The target is now Iran

The US military buildup in the Gulf and Blair's promotion of war against Tehran are a warning of yet another catastrophe

Seumas Milne, Wednesday 3 February 2010

"We were ­supposed to have learned the lessons of the Iraq war. That's what Britain's ­Chilcot inquiry is meant to be all about. But the signs from the Middle East are that it could be happening all over again. The US is ­escalating the military build-up in the Gulf, officials revealed this week, boosting its naval presence and supplying tens of billions of dollars' worth of new weapons systems to allied Arab states......

But Blair remains the Middle East envoy of the Quartet – the US, UN, EU and Russia – even as he pockets £1m a year from a UAE investment fund currently negotiating a slice of the profits from the exploitation of Iraqi oil reserves.

Nor is he alone in pressing the case for war on Iran. Another neocon outrider from the Bush era, Daniel Pipes, wrote this week that the only way for Obama to save his presidency was to "bomb Iran" [posted below] and destroy the country's "nuclear-weapon capacity", entailing few politically troublesome US "boots on the ground" or casualties.....

For the US government, as during the Bush administration, the real problem is Iran's independent power in the most sensitive region in the world – heightened by the Iraq war. The signals coming out of Washington are mixed. The head of US National Intelligence implied on Tuesday there was nothing the US could do to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons if it chose to do so. Perhaps the military build-up in the Gulf is just sabre rattling. The preference is clearly for regime change rather than war.

But Israel is most unlikely to roll over if that option fails, and the risks of the US and its allies, including Britain, being drawn into the fallout from any attack would be high. As was discovered in the case of Iraq, the views of outriders like Blair and Pipes can quickly become mainstream. If we are to avoid a replay of that catastrophe, pressure to prevent war with Iran will have to start now. "

Lieberman Knows that the Only Thing the Rabbit Cares About is......Staying in Power. That is Why Syria Will Never Fight to Regain the Golan.

FM: Assad's regime will collapse if he provokes Israel


"Lieberman says Syrian counterpart's claim that Israel's cities will be targeted if a war breaks out constitutes 'crossing of red line'; claims Syria must give up on its demand for Israeli withdrawal from Golan Heights.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Syrian President Bashar Assad Thursday that in an event of war with Israel, "not only will you lose the war, you and your family will no longer be in power."

Speaking during a business conference at Bar-Ilan University, Lieberman said, "Whoever thinks (Israeli) territorial concessions will separate Syria from the axis of evil is mistaken. Syria must be made to understand that it has to relinquish its demand (that Israel cede) the Golan Heights."....."

Syria's Secret Weapon to Regain the Golan?

Déjà Vu All Over Again: Habila (As Arafat did Before): Hamas Wants Talks with Americans, Europeans


"04/02/2010 Hamas is ready for dialogue with the international community, including the United States and European Union, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement Ismail Haniyeh told AFP.

"Hamas is ready to dialogue with the world, international community, the US, the (Middle East) Quartet and the Europeans," [How about the Dalai Lama, Fiji and Micronesia?] Haniyyeh said Wednesday.

One of the main obstacles to opening a dialogue is the group's refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist, a position inscribed in Hamas's founding charter. The international community demands an explicit recognition. "They have to recognize us first, the right of the Palestinian people, we are the victims," said the 48-year-old, who merely repeated that Hamas supports "the establishment of a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders."......

Haniyyeh said he was determined to "establish Palestinian reconciliation and to have fair elections... in all Palestinian homes, including Jerusalem."....."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question asked is this:

Do you support the Jordanian government's justifications for withdrawing the citizenship of some Palestinians in Jordan?

With over 3,000 responding, 82% said no.

Zionism laid bare

A Review of Shahid Alam's "Israeli Exceptionalism" (A MUST read article)

"Until recent years, the notion that Zionism was a benign, indeed a humanitarian, political movement designed for the noble purpose of creating a homeland and refuge for the world’s stateless, persecuted Jews was a virtually universal assumption. In the last few years, particularly since the start of the al-Aqsa intifada in 2000, as Israel’s harsh oppression of the Palestinians has become more widely known, a great many Israelis and friends of Israel have begun to distance themselves from and criticize Israel’s occupation policies, but they remain strong Zionists and have been at pains to propound the view that Zionism began well and has only lately been corrupted by the occupation. Alam demonstrates clearly, through voluminous evidence and a carefully argued analysis, that Zionism was never benign, never good—that from the very beginning, it operated according to a “cold logic” and, per Rumi, had “no humanity.” Except perhaps for Jews, which is where Israel’s and Zionism’s exceptionalism comes in.

Alam argues convincingly that Zionism was a coldly cynical movement from its beginnings in the nineteenth century. Not only did the founders of Zionism know that the land on which they set their sights was not an empty land, but they set out specifically to establish an “exclusionary colonialism” that had no room for the Palestinians who lived there or for any non-Jews, and they did this in ways that justified, and induced the West to accept, the displacement of the Palestinian population that stood in their way. With a simple wisdom that still escapes most analysts of Israel and Zionism, Alam writes that a “homeless nationalism,” as Zionism was for more than half a century until the state of Israel was established in 1948, “of necessity is a charter for conquest and—if it is exclusionary—for ethnic cleansing.”

Saada War Rages On

Houthi's Ceasefire Offer Spurned

By Rannie Amiri

"....To understand the true motive behind the relentless bombardment, one only need return to the primary demand of the rebels: an end to the ever-increasing socioeconomic marginalization and religious discrimination of the Zaidi community in Yemen.

This war was not just to aid the fledging Saleh regime in combating an enemy far less threatening to its existence than al-Qaeda, but to send a clear message to Saudi Arabia’s own citizens who suffer the same systemic and institutionalized discrimination as do the Zaidis. Namely, Shia Muslims, Ismaili Muslims, Sufi Muslims and any who dare challenge the authority of the House of al-Saud or the doctrines of the officially-sanctioned Wahabi school of thought.

The senseless war in Saada waged by the Saudi government was thus meant to send an unmistakable warning to any in the Kingdom who might espouse similar beliefs or demands as the Houthis: do so at your own peril....."

Short: Goldsmith 'misled' cabinet over Iraq

Channel 4: Former international development sec. Short accuses Lord Goldsmith of misleading the Cabinet.

US, Karzai split over Taliban talks

By Gareth Porter
Asia Times

"Differences between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and key officials of the administration of United States President Barack Obama over the issue of talks with the Taliban came to a head at last week's London conference. Peace negotiations are embedded in a deeper conflict over US war strategy, which has provoked broad anger and increasing suspicions of US motives among Afghans - and especially with Karzai...."

Revolting picture: Fayyad & war criminal Ehud Barak shake hands (to celebrate the slaughter in Gaza?)

By Ali Abunimah

Who Was That Well-Dressed Man?

Who helped the Christmas bomber get on the plane?

by Justin Raimondo, February 03, 2010

"......The principle of secrecy – which is the only principle, aside from constant lying, that US government officials seem to honor these daysforbids any public discussion of the real issues underlying our eternal "war on terrorism." Even though this struggle defines our foreign policy and rationalizes the most injurious assaults on our civil liberties since the Civil War, we aren’t allowed to know much about many of the particulars.

Thus US officials and their media amen corner can get away with portraying what they call the Long War as a simple black-and-white struggle of bad guys versus good, al-Qaeda versus the West, in which the former utilizes all the tricks of asymmetric warfare while we rely on the military resources of a great power to pursue the enemy in his lair. Every once in a while, however, facts emerge that don’t fit the official narrative, and the Christmas Day bombing attempt was one such occasion, providing additional evidence of a more complex reality waiting to be unearthed.

Could it be that the war on terrorism is a multi-sided conflict, a deadly game involving at least one or possibly several more players than previously thought? The revelation that Abdulmutallab had enablers, one for sure and possibly two at the scene of the crime, certainly points in that direction."

Israeli commander: 'We rewrote the rules of war for Gaza'


Civilians 'put at greater risk to save military lives' in winter attack - revelations that will pile pressure on Netanyahu to set up full inquiry

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

"A high-ranking officer has acknowledged for the first time that the Israeli army went beyond its previous rules of engagement on the protection of civilian lives in order to minimise military casualties during last year's Gaza war, The Independent can reveal.

The officer, who served as a commander during Operation Cast Lead, made it clear that he did not regard the longstanding principle of military conduct known as "means and intentions" – whereby a targeted suspect must have a weapon and show signs of intending to use it before being fired upon – as being applicable before calling in fire from drones and helicopters in Gaza last winter. A more junior officer who served at a brigade headquarters during the operation described the new policy – devised in part to avoid the heavy military casualties of the 2006 Lebanon war – as one of "literally zero risk to the soldiers"...... One of Israel's most prominent human rights lawyers, Michael Sfard, said last night that the senior commander's acknowledgement – if accurate – was "a smoking gun"......."

Blair: Gaza's great betrayer

It's more than a year since Israel launched its immoral attack on Gaza and Palestinians are still living on the verge of a humanitarian disaster. So what has Tony Blair done to further peace in the region? Virtually nothing, argues the historian Avi Shlaim

A Very Good Comment

By Avi Shlaim
The Guardian, Wednesday 3 February 2010

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

"The savage attack Israel ­unleashed against Gaza on 27 December 2008 was both immoral and unjustified. Immoral in the use of force against civilians for political purposes. Unjustified because Israel had a political alternative to the use of force. The home-made Qassam rockets fired by Hamas militants from Gaza on Israeli towns were only the ­excuse, not the reason for Operation Cast Lead. In June 2008, Egypt had ­brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement. ­Contrary to Israeli propaganda, this was a success: the average number of rockets fired monthly from Gaza dropped from 179 to three. Yet on 4 November Israel violated the ceasefire by launching a raid into Gaza, killing six Hamas fighters. When Hamas ­retaliated, Israel seized the renewed rocket attacks as the ­excuse for launching its insane offensive. If all Israel wanted was to protect its citizens from Qassam rockets, it only needed to ­observe the ceasefire......

Partly, however, Blair's failure is due to his own personal limitations; his ­inability to grasp that the fundamental issue in this tragic conflict is not Israeli security but Palestinian national rights, and that concerted and sustained ­international pressure is required to compel Israel to recognise these rights. The core issue cannot be avoided: there can be no settlement of the ­conflict without an end to the Israeli occupation. There is international consensus for a two-state solution, but Israel rejects it and Blair has been unable or unwilling to use the Quartet to enforce it.

Blair's failure to stand up for Palestinian independence is precisely what endears him to the Israeli establishment. In February of last year, while the ­Palestinians in Gaza were still mourning their dead, Blair received the Dan David prize from Tel Aviv University as the "laureate for the present time ­dimension in the field of leadership". The citation praised him for his ­"exceptional intelligence and foresight, and demonstrated moral courage and leadership". The prize is worth $1m. I may be cynical, but I cannot help viewing this prize as absurd, given Blair's silent complicity in Israel's ­continuing crimes against the ­Palestinian people."

Hamdan: Hamas would not let Israel drag it into irrational reactions

"BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Osama Hamdan, the representative of Hamas in Lebanon, said Tuesday that his movement will not allow the Zionist entity to drag it into irrational reactions by the assassination of Qassam leader Mahmoud Mabhouh and that his movement's decisions are taken based on national interests. [That sounds like the nonsense the Syrian regime has been repeating for the last 37 years. So, Hamas will decide on "the time and place" of its response, sometime within the next 40 years. Stay tuned!]

“The confrontation with the Zionist entity is ongoing. The core of the problem is occupation which necessitated resistance,” Hamdan told the Palestinian information center (PIC).

Asked if the Israeli occupation, by this assassination meant to drag Hamas into a confrontation, he replied that it was possible that the occupation is trying to drag Hamas into confrontation, but Hamas will not be dragged into the square the Israeli occupation wants, which does not mean that Hamas will not re-evaluate the whole situation after this crime.

Hamas is a mature movement that does not base its decisions on reactions or emotional impulses no matter how severe the event is, but we take our decisions wisely, based on the Palestinian national interest [these are the same exact words the puppet Abbas uses; what is the difference?] and the resistance interests,” the Hamas official highlighted........"

Peres: Fayyad – Palestinians' 1st 'Ben-Gurionist'

In Herzliya conference address, president lauds Palestinian prime minister for his efforts to establish state, slams those calling for bi-national state. 'There is no country that can hold two nations,' he says


"Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has been compared to David Ben-Gurion more than once due to his pragmatic policy, which has been manifested in his plan to establish a Palestinian state within two years. On Tuesday night, Fayyad was almost officially recognized as the "Israeli Ben-Gurion" by one of the closest people to the first Israeli prime minister who is still alive – President Shimon Peres.

"Fayyad is the Palestinians first Ben-Gurionist," the president told the Herzliya Conference, praising the Palestinian prime minister for his efforts to establish a Palestinian state and advance peace. Fayyad was expected to address the conference later Tuesday......"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How to Save the Obama Presidency: Bomb Iran

Circumstances are propitious, and the American people would support it.

By Daniel Pipes

"February 02, 2010 "National Review" -- I do not customarily offer advice to a president whose election I opposed, whose goals I fear, and whose policies I work against. But here is an idea for Barack Obama to salvage his tottering administration by taking a step that protects the United States and its allies.....

Just as 9/11 caused voters to forget George W. Bush’s meandering early months, a strike on Iranian facilities would dispatch Obama’s feckless first year down the memory hole and transform the domestic political scene. It would sideline health care, prompt Republicans to work with Democrats, and make the netroots squeal, independents reconsider, and conservatives swoon.

But the chance to do good and do well is fleeting. As the Iranians improve their defenses and approach weaponization, the window of opportunity is closing. The time to act is now, or, on Obama’s watch, the world will soon become a much more dangerous place."

Tangoing with the Taliban

By Marwan Bishara in Imperium on February 2nd, 2010

"Despite the US military 'surge', Afghanistan is proving more challenging than Iraq.

Unlike the general Iraqi distaste and hostility for al-Qaeda's methods and objectives, Osama bin Laden's network remains the Taliban's most potent strategic partner in its fight against the central government and its US patron.

Al Jazeera has learnt that in the last several months, al-Qaeda has spearheaded certain Taliban offensives and tried to bridge and coordinate between the various Talibans, notably the Afghan and Pakistani groups.

It has been mission impossible for the US thus far to sift the Taliban into so-called moderate vs radicals and hardcore vs pragmatists silos. Separating the Taliban from al-Qaeda has also failed.....

Do not be surprised if there are compromises on secondary issues, allowing the Taliban to impose its rule and the US to declare victory against al-Qaeda.

Either way, all of the regional and international powers are dancing to the tunes of the Taliban. Not exactly the victory gig they had envisaged."

“America’s Secret Afghan Prisons”: Investigation Unearths New US Torture Site, Abuse Allegations in Afghanistan

"A new investigation by journalist Anand Gopal reveals harrowing details about US secret prisons in Afghanistan, under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Gopal interviewed Afghans who were detained and abused at several disclosed and undisclosed sites at US and Afghan military bases across the country. He also reveals the existence of another secret prison on Bagram Air Base that even the Red Cross does not have access to. It is dubbed the Black Jail and is reportedly run by US Special Forces....."

Torture, Rendition Victim Maher Arar Asks Supreme Court to Allow Suit Against U.S. Gov’t

"Lawyers for the Canadian torture and rendition victim Maher Arar are asking the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling blocking him from suing the U.S. government. In 2002, Arar was seized by US officials at Kennedy Airport in New York and rendered to Syria, where he was tortured, interrogated and detained in a tiny underground cell for nearly a year. Last year a federal appeals court ruled allowing the lawsuit to proceed would “offend the separation of powers and inhibit (US) foreign policy.”...."

'Peace Prize' President Submits Largest War Budget Ever

Obama Seeks Record $708 Billion in Defense Budget


"WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Monday asked Congress to approve a record $708 billion in defense spending for fiscal year 2011, including a 3.4 percent increase in the Pentagon's base budget and $159 billion to fund U.S. military missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan......"

Arab politicians 'facing increased persecution’ in Israel

By Jonathan Cook

"NAZARETH // Leaders of the Arab minority in Israel warned this week that they were facing an unprecedented campaign of persecution, backed by the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, designed to stop their political activities.

The warning came after Said Nafaa, a Druze member of the Israeli parliament was stripped of his immunity last week, clearing the way for him to be tried for a visit to Syria three years ago.

In recent weeks legal sanctions have been invoked against two other Arab political leaders, following clashes with the Israeli security forces at demonstrations against the occupation, and pressure is growing for two more MPs to be investigated....."

Chicago Tomorrow Feb 2: Hear Dr. Mads Gilbert, surgeon & eyewitness to Gaza massacre @ DePaul U.

A North American Tour with Dr. Mads Gilbert, MD PhD

"The boy with the destroyed brain did not need anaesthetic; he could no longer feel anything. The other lay in an artificial coma with intravenous anaesthetic agents to soften the pain and allow the ventilator to work without resistance from the boy's own breathing. A large bandage covered both his eyes. He could not see anyway. He was already blind.

Where could I cry out the despair and rage I felt for all this terrible fate we saw at such close quarters? Would the heavens hear? Will the world hear? They know that this is happening, after all. The numbers tick into the West every single afternoon, to the news agencies, to the intelligence services and to the diplomatic missions of the world's most powerful nations, who do not even make an attempt to pull in the reins and control the wildness of the Israeli war machine."....

Corrupt Arab Regimes - Who is to Blame?

Analysis by Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Feb 2, 2010 (IPS) - The Mideast continues to be plagued by autocratic Arab regimes where human rights, democracy and freedom of speech are a pipe dream for the average citizen. But who is to blame and what can be done to amend this situation?

While progress towards democratisation in previously autocratic regions - including Africa, Latin America and parts of the Muslim world - is implemented incrementally, the Arab world has still to see a seismic change in this direction.....

A case in point is the conservative Islamic movement Hamas winning free and fair, internationally supervised, democratic elections in 2006, elections which the U.S. and Israelis had pressured the Palestinians to hold.

Israel gave political and financial support to Hamas during its formative years, hoping the movement would serve as a bulwark against the secular Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) which was then the dominant Palestinian political movement. But when the Islamic resistance group became too strong Israel and the Jewish state’s chief benefactor, the U.S., changed course fast......

The West knows fully well that the Arab regimes it supports are undemocratic and comes at the expense of human rights," argues Samir Awad from Birzeit University near Ramallah. "Western governments are not interested in the long-term strategy of resolving problems relating to democratisation of the Mideast’’. "Their short-term strategy of paper shuffling and containing the problem takes preference as they know their respective tenures in office are short and the problems can be left to the next government," Awad told IPS.

Additionally, having pliable Arab regimes in power which can be manipulated also suits Western geopolitical interests, especially in regard to the region’s rich oil and gas resources. Added to this is their genuine fear of Islamic fundamentalists taking power and in turn quashing all civil liberties.....

The economical and political interests of the Arab elite, who underpin these regimes, are also served by Western financial and military aid, therefore, they continue in turn to lend their political support to these dictatorships.....

Furthermore, Arab street also plays a part in the failure of these regimes to reform. They could do more to pressure their governments by taking part in rallies, public demonstrations and supporting plurality, freedom of expression and gender equality, says Moaz. The ubiquitous Arab security could not suppress all protest [I agree with this totally!]....

"Fundamentally the Arab public is more concerned with meeting basic needs such as education, employment and feeding their families," says Maoz.

Political stability in poverty-stricken countries with repressive regimes such as Egypt has guaranteed the subsidisation of basics such as bread as well as providing tens of thousands with employment in bloated and inefficient government bureaucracies....."