Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bad Press, by Mike Luckovich

Is Israel right to complain that Hamas has denied Red Cross visits to Gilad Shalit?

By Ali Abunimah

".....It would appear – at the very least from the way the ICRC is treating his case – as well as from other relevant facts, that Shalit can be considered a prisoner of war (POW). If so, his status would fall under the Third Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 12 August 1949

Under this Convention, the right of the ICRC to visit prisoners of war is not unconditional – and note that the ICRC never claims such an unconditional right. Under Article 125 of the Third Geneva Convention, such visits are "Subject to the measures which the Detaining Powers may consider essential to ensure their security or to meet any other reasonable need... ."

Security, according to the ICRC, is precisely the justification Hamas has given for denying visitation. The risk of allowing such visits is obvious: revealing the location of the Israeli POW would run the risk of an Israeli military attack either to attempt to rescue him, or for any other purpose.

Israel has a history of such military adventurism, such as its failed attempt to rescue another Israeli soldier in 1994, which ended up killing the prisoner and several others.

So there is nothing illegal about Hamas denying ICRC direct access to Shalit given the high risk of Israeli military attack – which would include from past experience – mortal danger to the POW himself. Indeed, as the Detaining Power, Hamas would be in violation of its obligations under the Convention if it knowingly and irresponsibly exposed Shalit to the danger of Israeli military attack......"

A 'do over' in Afghanistan?

By Stephen M. Walt
Foreign Policy

"....In any case, the only important question here is what Obama is telling Petraeus to do. In essence, McChrystal's gaffe has given Obama a chance for a "do-over." He made the wrong choice in the fall of 2009, when he agreed to escalate the U.S. presence despite all the obvious pitfalls.....

If Obama hasn't learned that lesson, then he will find himself stuck in the Afghan quagmire for the remainder of his time in office. As with Johnson in Vietnam and Bush in Iraq, the war will suck the life out of his presidency and make it impossible to achieve more urgent domestic and international priorities. And because he's now had two opportunities to chart a different course, it will have been entirely his own doing. "

The US film that confronts the truth about Afghanistan

Caught on camera

By Robert Fisk

"....but was fascinated by Restrepo, a long documentary for which two brave journalists, Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, spent 13 months with the US Second Platoon of Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the Korangal Valley, perhaps the deadliest piece of real estate in Afghanistan.

The platoon set up a post called OP Restrepo – named after a much-loved but very dead comrade – and endured a miniature version of Khe San amid the towering snow-fastness of Talibanland. During the movie, another soldier dies – he is shot on patrol and you briefly see his corpse – as bullets zip around the camera. After calling up an air strike on a village "terrorist" target, the platoon moves into the hamlet in which it finds horribly wounded children and civilian corpses.

All this was given added piquancy when General Stanley McChrystal fell on his own sword in front of Barack Obama this week. I don't like generals, but I had a smidgen of sympathy for this arrogant man. McChrystal's contempt for the inept Richard Holbrooke – the "Afpak" envoy (what a yuk title) who hourly awaits his own dismissal – at least bears the merit of truth.

What was more instructive, however, was Obama's behaviour. Every month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heaps humiliation and insult upon the impotent and frightened Obama, who responds by clucking his tongue and then swearing further lifelong fidelity to Israel. But the moment his top man in Afghanistan tells a few home truths about his boss, Obama throws a hissy fit and fires him. McChrystal would obviously have done much better in the Israeli army.

Ironically, one of McChrystal's last acts was to pull his men out of the Korangal Valley and close down OP Restrepo. Indeed, al-Jazeera's reporter managed to enter the abandoned outpost a few days ago with a bunch of leering Taliban – who joyfully discovered that the Americans had left them plenty of spare ammo. So much for the sacrifice of the Second Platoon and the far greater suffering of the Afghan villagers whom they blasted away in the interests of the "war on terror".

Yet Restrepo the film was impressive. Not just because of the fear of the soldiers – and the spectacular real-life battle scenes – but because of the graphic, terrible moments in the bombed village. One little, pain-filled girl stares with such incomprehension at her tormentors that you know that we have lost the war in Afghanistan....."

Once again, those who reveal the truth are punished

Adrian Hamilton
The Independent

"....Come off it. General McChrystal may have been foolish but he knew what he was doing. He and his entourage, who spoke out to Michael Hastings over two months, accepted they were on the record and have never denied or withdrawn what they said about the White House, the State Department and the political direction of the Afghan war. The press should be grateful, not censorious, for them doing so.

Whenever military operations are concerned, there is a ferocious effort by the political and military establishments to impose obedience. Any criticisms from within are silenced and any communication of them to the outside world is punished...."

Iran says Gaza aid delegation to go on Lebanon ship


"Iranian lawmakers protesting at Israel's blockade of Gaza are planning to travel on an aid ship that is to leave from Lebanon..[We will see about that. I think all of this is posturing and theatrics.]

Lebanon said last week it would allow a Gaza-bound ship called the Julia to sail, via Cyprus, despite warnings from Israel that it reserved the right to use all necessary means to stop ships that tried to sail from Lebanon to Gaza.

Mahmoud Ahmadi-Beighash, a member of the Iranian parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, said Iranian parliament delegates could sail on the ship rather than attempt to enter Gaza via Egypt.

"A ship is going from Lebanon to Gaza in the course of the current week and the lawmakers are following up to go to Gaza via this ship," he said in comments carried by semi-official news agency ISNA.

Ahmadi-Beighash said the decision to use the ship in Lebanon rather than Egypt's land border with Gaza was taken in a meeting with parliament speaker Ali Larijani.

Ships with Iranian aid for Gaza left this month but it was not clear if they would unload in Egypt.

Earlier this year, Egypt refused permission to an Iranian aid boat to unload after an Israeli warship told the aid boat to leave as it approached the coastal enclave of Gaza......"

Gaza factories remain paralysed despite Israel pledge to ease blockade

After three years of deadlock, Palestinian businesses are hoping for a better future. But some fear that the new Israeli trade rules could actually mean a fresh squeeze.

Donald Macintyre reports from Gaza City

"....How the blockade is changing life in Gaza

The number of trucks bringing goods from Israel into the Gaza Strip each day has not yet increased, according to Palestinian coordinators, but the range of goods – including books and children's toys, long banned – has.

At Hazem Hasuna's supermaket in Gaza City's western Rimal district, Egyptian razors, smuggled in through tunnels, were summarily replaced on Thursday by Gillette Fusion razors legally imported from Israel. But the comprehensive range of smuggled goods has made some Gazans cynical about the new imports. "Nothing has really changed," said Mr Hasuna, 38, "People haven't been missing ketchup and mayonnaise [two of the newly permitted products]. The only real change will be if they start bringing in cement for reconstruction and what the factories need to give people work."....."

Video: HARDtalk with Kenneth O'Keefe

Contributed by GAV




ElBaradei leads anti-torture rally


"Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has led a protest against alleged abuses by the police in the Egyptian city of Alexandria.

At least 4,000 people greeted ElBaradei, who has become a prominent pro-democracy campaigner, as he arrived to offer condolences to the family of Khaled Mohammed Saeed, an Egyptian youth who human rights groups say was beaten to death by police.

The protest on Friday, which was ElBaradei's second public appearance this month and the first in which his family have joined him, was his biggest rally since he returned to Egypt after leaving the IAEA.

Crowds chanted pro-democracy slogans and waved images of Saeed while ElBaradei, flanked by worshippers, emerged from a mosque after Muslim prayers.

Youths and activists from political and online groups including the Facebook group "ElBaradei for presidency of 2011" joined the protest. Some chanted "Down Down [Egyptian president] Hosni Mubarak" and "Saeed you are a martyr" while rushing to meet ElBaradei....

Amr el-Shobky, a political analyst, said: "We know the price Egyptian citizens pay for giving testimony against the interior ministry or the police force. Yet despite that, those who saw what happened spoke of it."

Saeed's death has become a rallying point for government opponents demanding an end to 30 years of emergency law, which they say allows police to abuse citizens with impunity.

"This gathering of people from all walks of life and the anger they expressed against practices of torture is a message to the regime that Egyptians are against such inhumane practices," ElBaradei told Reuters.

"Breaking the barrier of fear is an incremental process that takes time. But with democracy we will have no fear," ElBaradei said.....

Thousands of riot police spread across the city and surrounded the mosque, forming a tight cordon around the protesters, but only after ElBaradei was allowed to leave the area.

Earlier protests in Cairo, the capital of Egypt, against police brutality have been forcibly broken up by police and dozens of protesters detained......"

Friday, June 25, 2010

Iran Will Not Send Aid Ship To Gaza

"Iran retracted its intention to send aid ships to the Gaza Strip and stated that Israel’s illegal siege on the coastal region and its illegal measures are the cause for sending solidarity ship. Yet, an Iranian official stated that aid will be sent to Gaza through other means....."


It appears that the ayatollahs have blinked. I had a feeling, from the beginning, that Iran was not really serious about sending the ships, but primarily wanted to embarrass the Pharaoh.

Next, I expect Lebanon to cancel sending its ships, since they usually follow Iran.

Getting Out of Palestine

How the Zionist Project Might End


"When veteran journalist Helen Thomas was asked recently if she had any comments on Israel, she shot back, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine.”.....

Over the years, it has been receiving just that from many tens of thousands of Israelis, who have been emigrating from Israel, applying for emigration, or staying in Israel but holding or applying for dual citizenship. According to Arnaud de Borchgrave, half a million Israelis hold dual citizenship.

Although the Israel lobby expressed particular outrage at Helen Thomas’ suggestion that Israelis go back to Germany and Poland, many Israelis have done precisely that. In his book, The Seventh Million, Tom Segev writes that many thousands of Israelis have “requested and received German passports.” According to the Jewish Virtual Library, there were 118,000 Jews living in Germany in 2006. Another 49,700 lived in Hungary and 3,200 in Poland.

Disconcerting as some Zionists may find this, Jews have not stayed away from countries where they faced near extermination under the Nazis. Does this mean that these countries are now safer for Jews than Israel?

At least, that is what the record indicates...."

UC Irvine's message: Criticize Israel, get suspended

The university's proposed one-year suspension of the Muslim Student Union could have a chilling effect on free speech.

Omar Kurdi
L.A. Times

"Students across the country are monitoring events at UC Irvine as pro- Israel groups try to reestablish their deterrence capacity on American campuses. After a 4-month-long investigation, UC Irvine's administration last week announced an unprecedented recommendation to suspend for one year the Muslim Student Union (MSU), a registered campus organization, for its alleged involvement in disrupting a Feb. 8 speech by Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Eleven students were arrested and may face criminal charges as well as disciplinary action by the university. A June 17 Times editorial called the recommendation "an apt punishment for what was clearly an inappropriate protest"; on the contrary, the administration's draconian response will unquestionably have a chilling effect on student activism at UC Irvine and across the country......

History will surely absolve the 11 UC Irvine students and condemn those who legitimize war criminals. Today as I write, hundreds of activists across the country and world are preparing for another flotilla to break the illegal siege on Gaza. Similarly, Muslim and non-Muslim students at UC Irvine and nationwide will not be intimidated by McCarthy-era tactics. They will continue to fight for justice and speak truth to power no matter the price they may have to pay."

Fake calls to "ease" the Gaza siege

(Cartoon by Khalil Bendib)

Hasan Abu Nimah, The Electronic Intifada, 24 June 2010

"Ever since Israel's murderous attack on the Freedom Flotilla on 31 May, there have been increasing calls from many parties on Israel to end its siege of Gaza. This is strange as well as deceitful, for the siege is not Israel's alone....

It is clear now that the siege has failed, first and foremost because the brave people in Gaza decided to adjust to its harshest effects and to endure with dignity and courage the collective punishment intended to strangle them into submission and despair. They never acquiesced to trading their national dignity and rights for a few more goods -- even ones desperately needed....

Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah leader and head of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, who was reported to have pleaded with US President Barack Obama not to let Israel end the siege and thus hand Hamas an easy victory, is also now calling for lifting the blockade. But when pressed, Abbas is always careful to condition his demand on "reconciliation" between Hamas, which has survived numerous Abbas-backed coup attempts since it won the 2006 elections, and his Fatah which -- with international support -- usurped control of the Palestinian Authority apparatus after it lost the election.

The "reconciliation" that Abbas wants is to return to the status quo before Hamas foiled the last coup attempt in June 2007. In other words, Abbas wants for himself an easy victory -- to return his forces to control Gaza and its borders -- which he could not achieve through conspiracies and armed adventures....."

Blockade 'Eased' as Gaza Starves more Slowly

By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth
Palestine Chronicle

"....This “adjustment”, as the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu termed it, is aimed solely at damage limitation. With Israel responsible for killing nine civilians aboard a Gaza-bound aid flotilla three weeks ago, the world has finally begun to wonder what purpose the siege serves. Did those nine really need to die to stop coriander, chocolate and children’s toys from reaching Gaza? And, as Israel awaits other flotillas, will more need to be executed to enforce the policy?....

Is Mr Weisglass a relic of the pre-Netanyahu era, his blockade-as-diet long ago superseded? Not a bit. Only last month, during a court case against the siege, Mr Netanyahu’s government justified the policy not as a security measure but as “economic warfare” against Gaza. One document even set out the minimum calories – or “red lines”, as they were also referred to – needed by Gazans according to their age and sex.

In truth, Israel’s “security” blockade is, in both its old and new incarnations, every bit a “civilian” blockade. It was designed and continues to be “collective punishment” of the people of Gaza for electing the wrong rulers. Helpfully, international law defines the status of Israel’s policy: it is a crime against humanity.

Easing the siege so that Gaza starves more slowly may be better than nothing. But breaking 1.5 million Palestinians out of the prison Israel has built for them is the real duty of the international community."

Yes We Can!

Be Arrogant.....

While Sinking.

Obama Misses the Afghan Exit Ramp

By Ray McGovern

"Is President Barack Obama so dense that he could not see why Gen. Stanley McChrystal might actually have wanted to be firedand rescued from the current March of Folly in Afghanistan, a mess much of his own making?

McChrystal leaves behind a long trail of broken promises and unfulfilled expectations. For example, there is no real security, at least during the night, in Marja, which McChrystal devoted enormous resources to conquer this spring.

Remember his boast that he would then bring to Marja a "government-in-box" and offer an object lesson regarding what was in store for those pesky Taliban in Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city?

But it’s now clear that there will be no offensive against Kandahar anytime soon. On its merits, that is surely a good thing, but it is a huge embarrassment for McChrystal and his former boss, the never nonplussed Gen. David Petraeus.....

Now, with some indiscreet comments to Rolling Stone magazine, McChrystal has managed to get plucked from the swamp as if some "deus ex machina" derrick from a Greek tragedy had appeared magically behind stage and lifted the hero out of an impossible situation.

Obama now has turned to what might be called "Petraeus ex machina" to salvage his benighted strategy in Afghanistan, but this new device is unlikely to lift the larger military cause out of grave danger. Instead, many of the U.S. troops committed to this dubious plan seem doomed in what is becoming a real-life tragedy."

Petraeus is a master tactician, but his greatest strength is on the political battlefield

It is like pre-Vietnam days, when Americans accepted that what the military said was true

By Patrick Cockburn

"General David Petraeus has a deservedly high reputation but his real abilities are not the ones usually attributed to him. He is, above all, a general with an acute sense of US politics combined with a realisation of the importance of understanding the politics of Iraq and Afghanistan.

His great achievement in Iraq was to persuade Americans that they had won the war when, in fact, they were withdrawing with little achieved. He was able to sell the "surge" as a triumph of military tactics when in reality its most important feature was that Sunni insurgents allied themselves with American forces because they were being slaughtered by the Shia.....

In Iraq, General Petraeus was able to take advantage of local political conditions to claim success for a military strategy that was mostly an illusion. In Afghanistan, the problem is not that the Taliban is so strong but that the government is so weak."

We all live in an oil slick now

Step by step, US politicians on all sides become an oiligarchy that sees moving off petrol as irrational: turning off the spigot would turn off their election funds

By Johann Hari
The Independent

".....A clue to the biggest cause lies in the current Gulf disaster. The oil companies gave so many "gifts" to the safety inspectors that, by this year, they were often just handed the inspection forms and told to fill them in themselves. On the national stage in the US, politicians on all sides (including Barack Obama) are sprayed with petro-money at election time. Step by step, they become an oiligarchy that sees moving beyond petrol as irrational: turning off the spigot would turn off their election funds. A more subtle but just as certain process happens here in Europe. Politics becomes a broken pipeline, in which the public interest leaks away.

And so we are all left slithering in the global oil slick. Yet the anger of the sane citizenry – those of us who don't want to engage in collective self-destruction – has been weirdly muted. Most of us know that we can't carry on like this, but it is still much more common to see protests for cheap oil than to see protests to build a world beyond it. The Climate Camp protests in London this week were a rare and inspiring exception: they need reinforcements, fast.

The oilman John Paul Getty once quipped: "The meek will inherit the earth, but not the mineral rights." If the sane majority who know we need to transcend oil remain so meek, we may not inherit much worth having at all."

Saudi youth are struggling with their identities

Young people in Saudi Arabia are torn between conservative ideology at home and the world outside

Fahad Faruqui, Friday 25 June 2010

".....They weren't talking about politics, but about themselves and their desire to live the life they choose. Their demands may seem mundane, but in a way, they are far more radical than calling for democracy or political reform because they strike at the core of Saudi Arabia's social system and its religious underpinnings.

Fatima, one of the youngsters in the programme, wants to brighten up the wardrobe of Saudi women, who are traditionally dressed from head to foot in black. Though coloured abayas may not seem a revolutionary idea, it's pretty shocking in a country where riding a bicycle wearing an Arsenal soccer shirt with a cap in order to pass as a man is enough to get a woman arrested.

Only last month, 10 emo girls in Dammam were arrested for infringing the dress code. They were released after their parents gave a written apology. But the question is: did the arrest reform the girls? Or did they turn into hardheaded rebels? I think the latter.

A decade ago, I studied with one such Saudi girl at Columbia University. She turned atheist because of how the society/religion ridiculed individualism. Nothing would convince her that society and religion are two different entities, which can overlap for better or worse – in her case for the worse.

Coercive means to impose moral laws have never had a positive outcome, which is also evident from recent incidents of a Saudi woman shooting a member of the religious police and another woman wrestling down a morality cop.....

Rather than providing guidance geared towards acquiring wisdom through hard experience – something that frankly takes time and work – Saudi society is following a different and easier tack. They are given a list of dos and don'ts, most of which make little sense to them, with the threat of imprisonment and whipping sticks if they fail to comply. What needs to be done is fairly obvious. But is the society ready for change?......"

نصيحة لحزب العمّال الكردستاني: لا تكونوا مخلبا صهيونيّا!../ رشاد أبوشاور

رشاد أبوشاور

"مع بروز الدور التركي المنحاز لغزّة، والذي ألقى بثقله لفّك الحصار عن مليون ونصف المليون فلسطيني، وتحديدا بعد الهجوم الإجرامي على قافلة الحريّة، واستهداف السفينة التركيّة ( مرمرة)، ازدادت العمليات العسكريّة التي يقوم بها حزب العمّال الكردستاني، والتي تستهدف سياسة تركيا، ودورها، رغم سعي حزب العدالة لإنصاف الأكراد منذ وصوله إلى السلطة، وتحسين أوضاعهم، ومنحهم المزيد من الحقوق.

ما يحدث ليس بعيدا أبدا عن تصريحات بعض قادة الكيان الصهيوني الذين توعدوا بخلق متاعب للقيادة التركيّة، بتحريك الأكراد، الذين يبدو أن بعض قادتهم قد استجابوا للعبة التي لن يخرجوا منها رابحين، بل سيوصمون بأنهم تابعون، وأنهم مخلب في اليّد الصهيونيّة، وهذا ما سينعكس سلبا على عدالة مطالبهم، وعلى مستقبل دور حزب العمّال القيادي في تركيا، بل وسيتعداه إلى وضع الأكراد في شمال العراق، فالجيش التركي لن يقف مكتوف الأيدي، والقيادة السياسيّة التركيّة لن تمكن المخططات الصهيونيّة من استهداف تركيا عبر حزب العمّال، أو غيره.

عندما قبض على عبد الله أوجلان، كتبت مقالة بعنوان : أنا كردي..ولم يكن ذلك مجرّد لحظة عاطفيّة، فنحن الفلسطينيين شاركنا الأكراد آلامهم دائما، وانحزنا لمطالبهم العادلة، وتألمنا للظلم الواقع عليهم، ولتمزيقهم بين عدّة بلدان، وحرمانهم من تواصلهم، وتقرير مصيرهم.

ولكن، لا بدّ من التنبّه أن ما يقوم به حزب العمّال راهنا، قد يمتّد تأثيره إلى ما هو أبعد من تركيا، فهو يصيب مباشرة القضيّة الفلسطينيّة التي بدأت تركيا تنحاز لها بعد عقود من الارتباط بعلاقات إستراتيجية مع الكيان الصهيوني!

على قيادة حزب العمال أن لا تقوم بدور مشاغلة وإرباك القيادة التركيّة خدمة لمآرب ومصالح الكيان الصهيوني المدعوم أمريكيّا.

هذه نصيحة نتوجه بها إلى حزب العمّال بشكل خاص، وإلى الأكراد في تركيا والعراق بشكل عام، لأنهم سيخسرون كل التعاطف معهم، ولن يجدوا لهم صديقا في المنطقة، ومن يربح صداقة الكيان الصهيوني ودعمه ويمضي مستظلاًّ بتحريضه لن يبوء سوى بالخسران، خسران النفس، والأصدقاء الحقيقيين.

قبلكم أنشأ الملاّ مصطفى البرزاني علاقة مع الكيان الصهيوني، فبماذا ارتدّت عليه، وعلى القضيّة الكرديّة؟!
العبث بالوضع الداخلي التركي - وآخره تفجير حافلة عسكريّة في اسطنبول- لن يمنح الأكراد أكثر مما تمنحهم حكومة حزب العدالة، بالحوار، والتفاهم، وعدم الارتماء في أحضان قوى غريبة عن المنطقة، لا دور لها سوى العبث والتآمر والتحريض والتخريب.

لا تكونوا مخلبا في اليد الصهيونيّة، ولا تنحازوا ضد أصدقائكم وإخوانكم العرب، والفلسطينيين المحاصرين، الذين تهّب تركيا بقيادتها الشجاعة الشريفة لنجدتهم، والتي بدأت تأخذ مكانة بارزة في قيادة العالم الإسلامي، وهو ما يغيظ قوى غير حريصة على نهوض شعوبنا.

أنتم بهذا تختارون طريق الندامة والخسران، وهذا ما لا نريده لكم، نحن الذين تعاطفنا معكم دائما، ودعمناكم، ولم نقصّر معكم!
هذه نصيحة أصدقاء.. فراجعوا حساباتكم قبل التورّط، والإمعان في الغلط!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

This poll asks:

Do you consider the replacement of General McChrystal as an indication of the failure of the American strategy in Afghanistan?

With over 1,200 responding so far, 90% said yes.

Turkish Military Delegation In Israel For Drone Deal

"Turkish Military officials are currently in Israel to receive training and test four Israeli drones, Heron, manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries which is owned by the Israeli government.....

Turkish Chief of Staff, Gen. Ilker Basbug, stated two days ago that Turkey started using the Israeli drones to gather intelligence on the movements of Kurdish rebels in the mountains of northern Iraq....."

Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon: Righting a Perpetual Wrong

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"....It is ironic how Mr. Gemayel found it implausible to reach a solution regarding the acknowledgement of Palestinian refugees basic rights in three days, while it was astoundingly achievable to butcher thousands of innocent civilians by Phalange forces in 36-48 hours in Sabra and Shatilla on September 16, 1982.

The survivors of those camps, and the rest don’t wish to impede the ‘Christian’ parties’ bid for demographic and sectarian ‘balance’ in Lebanon. Their home is Palestine and they cannot wait to return. But, until that day arrives, there is no need to deny them the most basic of rights and infringe upon their very dignity. One can only hope that Lebanon’s new political development overpowers those who wish to keep the country fragmented, sectarian and forever hostage to the ghosts of its colonial past."

Israelis Keep the Trigger Tight

By Mel Frykberg

"RAMALLAH, Jun 24, 2010 (IPS) - "Where is my daddy? Why is he not coming home? I want my daddy," sobs seven- year-old Yasmin, her big blue eyes filling with tears. She wakes up crying every night.

"My life only began when I met him. I will never meet such a wonderful man again," Yasmin's mother Moira Julani tells IPS.

While it is just another statistic for the Israelis, another Palestinian family has been torn apart. U.S. citizens, 17-year-old Hannah, 15-year-old Mirage and seven-year-old Yasmin are now fatherless. Former Texan Moira, nee Reynolds, who left the U.S. 17 years ago to start a new life with her husband in Jerusalem, has lost her soul mate.

Two weeks ago 41-year-old Ziad Julani from East Jerusalem was shot a number of times at close range in the head and abdomen by Israeli special forces as he lay wounded on his stomach on the ground. An ambulance took the critically injured man to hospital but he died shortly afterwards....."

Mistah McChrystal - he dead

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"When it comes to American wars, history has a kinky habit of repeating itself as farce over and over again. So now the Pentagon has been plunged into turmoil.....

Those were the days when the Washington Post used to bring down a president (now the Post, as well as The New York Times, prefer war, on Iraq, on AfPak, on Iran). Gonzo master Hunter S Thompson anyway must be celebrating with heavenly tequila shots in his wild and crazy tomb; Rolling Stone after all managed to bring down a general - to the sound of The End by The Doors. Which brings us to Francis Ford Coppola using The Doors to start Apocalypse Now - or the US winning the Vietnam War (only) on film......

The McChrystal goes rogue/McChrystal gets fired story is yet one more classic Pentagon non-event magnified to dementia. What the general unplugged to Rolling Stone was basically a collection of generic, mild and milder insults to US civilians. The "warrior-intellectual” never gave any sign he was engaging in specific, detailed criticism of the overall military strategy; after all, the Pentagon's "full-spectrum dominance" cannot be really sold for what it is. And even Obama has stated on the record that replacing a general with another general does not mean a change in strategy. Is there a strategy? Yes - infinite war; but the Pentagon won't allow it to be spelled out.

It's been a long time since the immense, absurdly expensive, the-road-goes-on-forever American war obsession bore any relation whatsoever to politics and reality. It pertains to fiction - as the dance of the generals goes on, as Eliot would say, "in this hollow valley". And these fictional steps are dead-certain to punctuate "this broken jaw of our lost kingdoms" for years and years to come."

Punishing Turkey

by Philip Giraldi, June 24, 2010

".... The Turkish prime minister’s Hitler-like leanings first appeared when he dared confront Israel’s President Shimon Peres at an international meeting in Davos in January 2009. Referring to the slaughter of Gazan civilians earlier that month, Erdogan told Peres "…you know well how to kill." But if there was any lingering doubt, Erdogan definitely became Hitler through his support of the flotilla that sought to bring aid to Gaza three weeks ago followed by his denunciation of the massacre initiated by Israeli commandos. His diabolical intent was made manifest when he then demanded justice for the nine Turkish citizens who were murdered. Hitlerization is the price one inevitably pays for criticizing Israel or opposing its policies.....

Turkey is a vital strategic partner for Washington. With its large population and thriving economy, it might well be the indispensible nation in the arc of states running from the Mediterranean to central Asia. It has a long history of friendship towards the United States combined with a national interest that compels it to encourage stability among the countries that it borders and more broadly throughout the Middle East. In spite of misgivings about specific policies, it houses a major US airbase at Incirlik and has supported Washington’s nation building efforts in Afghanistan. But now it must be punished because it has crossed the line by opposing the kleptocracy Israel. And it will be punished, first pilloried in the US media, a process which is underway right now, and then by the US Congress and White House, which will together find some subtle and not-so-subtle ways to bring Ankara to heel. And the loser in all of this will be the American people, who will alienate a good and staunch friend in the Middle East and make another unnecessary enemy."

Israeli racism knows no limit

The group behind the initiative is composed of activists from southern Tel Aviv and led by City Council member on behalf of the Shas faction, Binyamin Babayoff,

Babayoff drafted a special notice titled "Banning apartment rentals to infiltrators." In the notice, the councilman writes: "It should be known that is strictly forbidden to rent apartments to gentiles, as explained in the Talmud.

Babayoff also waved the real estate card, saying that "according to precedents from around the world, areas inhabited by Africans experience a significant decrease in the value of apartments."

At the bottom of the notice, Babayoff wrote: "We, the undersigned, neighborhood and synagogue Rabbis, warn the public of the imminent danger caused by renting houses to these people!!!"

Switch to Petraeus Betrays Afghan Policy Crisis

Analysis by Gareth Porter

"WASHINGTON, 23 Jun (IPS) - Despite President Barack Obama's denial that his decision to fire Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as commander in Afghanistan and replace him with Gen. David Petraeus signified any differences with McChrystal over war strategy, the decision obviously reflects a desire by Obama to find a way out of a deepening policy crisis in Afghanistan.

Although the ostensible reason was indiscreet comments by McChrystal and his aides reported in Rolling Stone, the switch from McChrystal to Petraeus was clearly the result of White House unhappiness with McChrystal's handling of the war.

It had become evident in recent weeks that McChrystal's strategy is not working as he had promised, and Congress and the U.S. political elite had already become very uneasy about whether the war was on the wrong track...."

3 U.S. Soldiers Speak Out on McChrystal’s Firing, Petraeus’ Replacement and the Unending War in Afghanistan

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"President Obama says the Afghan war will continue as planned despite his firing of General Stanley McChrystal over disparaging comments made by McChrystal and his aides about top U.S. officials. Obama has named General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command and architect of the surge in Iraq, as a successor. The firing of McChrystal comes at a perilous moment in the Afghan war, with June now the deadliest month for the NATO force since the 2001 invasion. We speak to three soldiers: Brock McIntosh, is an Afghan war vet who has filed for conscientious objector status;
Victor Agosto, who was jailed after refusing to deploy to Afghanistan after serving in Iraq; and Camilo Mejia, the first GI who served in Iraq to have publicly resisted the war....."

Real News Video: McChrystal's counter-terrorism without McChrystal

Lawrence Wilkerson: Overall objectives and basic strategy in Afghanistan are wrong - it's time to leave

More at The Real News

"Lawrence Wilkerson is a retired United States Army soldier and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. Wilkerson is an adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary where he teaches courses on US national security. He also instructs a senior seminar in the Honors Department at the George Washington University entitled "National Security Decision Making."

Ghosts from the past: Syria's 30 years of fear

A grim report sheds light on the thousands of 'disappearances' during Hafez al-Assad's 30-year rule

By Robert Fisk

".....The eventual relief of Syrians that the young English-trained optometrist Bashar – a gentler figure than his ferocious father – had taken over was so great that no-one wished to recall the past. Why dig up a mass grave unless you intend to pour more blood into it?

The subsequent rule of Bashar has not produced the democratic "spring" in Syria which many Arab intellectuals had hoped for, a fact made all too clear in a report published in Washington this month by the Transitional Justice in the Arab World Project, supported by Freedom House. According to the report, Years of Fear, as many as 17,000 Syrians may have been "disappeared" during Hafez el-Assad's rule; the 117-page document contains heart-breaking accounts of disappearances and extra-judicial executions, and descriptions of the apparently vain 30-year wait of sons, wives and parents for the return of men who were almost certainly killed in the early 1980s.....

The report suggests that these disappearances indirectly affect up to a million Syrians – five per cent of the population. Amer, who was eight when his father was arrested, recalled: "I cannot speak with anyone about the issue of my father, because this induces fear and makes people suspicious... I have lived as a half orphan, although my father is not officially dead."

Some men were declared dead – and then reappeared alive, like the 16-year-old arrested in Aleppo who spent 14 years in prison...."

Confidence Waning in Obama, U.S. Outlook


"Americans are more pessimistic about the state of the country and less confident in President Barack Obama's leadership than at any point since Mr. Obama entered the White House, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.....

Sixty-two percent of adults in the survey feel the country is on the wrong track, the highest level since before the 2008 election. Just one-third think the economy will get better over the next year, a 7-point drop from a month ago and the low point of Mr. Obama's tenure.

Amid anxiety over the nation's course, support for Mr. Obama and other incumbents is eroding. For the first time, more people disapprove of Mr. Obama's job performance than approve. And 57% of voters would prefer to elect a new person to Congress than re-elect their local representatives, the highest share in 18 years.

The results show "a really ugly mood and an unhappy electorate," said Democratic pollster Peter Hart [Only a new war can rally the American sheeple; WATCH OUT IRAN!]........"

Why Palestinians are second-class citizens in Lebanon

Arab leaders pay lip service to Palestinian rightsexcept when it comes to the rights of domiciled refugees in their countries

Ahmed Moor, Thursday 24 June 2010

"I moved to Beirut from New York nine months ago and began looking for an apartment. After 10 continuous years in America, I wanted to return to the Arab world – and returning to my family's roots in Palestine wasn't an option.

I knew that in Beirut, I likely wasn't going to be renting from a faceless, impersonal property company; real people mostly own the real estate here – and often, they are interested in knowing their tenants personally. That's how I learned, to my dismay, that being a Palestinian in Beirut is mostly a liability; anti-Palestinian racism is a fact of life here...."

What Is Your Problem? By Steve Bell

Fears for Afghan strategy after 24 hours of turmoil

Counterinsurgency is not working, say experts, and critics warn that replacement strategy indicates more of same

The Guardian

"....Obama then stripped McChrystal of his command at the end of 24 hours of turmoil that left the White House furious, not only about how the administration was characterised in Rolling Stone magazine, but by the creation of an unnecessary political crisis at a crucial time in the war in Afghanistan.....

Obama insisted that in sacking McChrystal he was making a change of personnel, not policy. The appointment of General David Petraeus, the architect of the counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, was a signal that Obama does not plan to shift from the plan he committed to last year....

He said that in his view the most damaging aspect of the Rolling Stone article was the exposure of "real lines of friction within the Obama administration, which I have experienced myself".

Concerns about friction within the US military-political system over Afghanistan were reinforced by the article, in which American troops expressed a lack of confidence in the strategy. As one soldier says to McChrystal during a visit to a forward base: "Sir, some of the guys here, sir, think we're losing, sir.""

“IAF Jets Unload Equipment Meant for Attacking a Muslim State at Saudi Airport"

An Important Story

"24/06/2010 Following last week’s reports by Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper and UK daily The Times in which they said that the Saudi Arabia has given the green light for the IAF to use its airspace in order to launch an attack against Iran, another news agency joined the caravan.

A semi-official Iranian news agency reported Wednesday that Israeli Air Force helicopters recently landed at a Saudi Arabia airport and unloaded equipment intended for attacking targets in a Muslim state.

This follows last weekend's reports of an American fleet passing through the Suez Canal, triggering fears that the United States and Israel were preparing for an attack on Iran, with Egypt's cooperation, the Arabic language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi said.

The Israeli aircraft reportedly landed at Tabuk Airport on June 18 and 19 and that the Saudi airport canceled numerous flights to enable the Israeli aircraft landing, the FARS agency said in an unconfirmed report titled "Suspicious military activity of the Zionist regime in Saudi Arabia."

The agency quoted a Saudi passenger as saying the aviation authorities canceled a flight scheduled to take off from Tabuk Airport without giving any reason.

The U.K. daily The Times reported some 10 days ago that Saudi Arabia had agreed to open its air space to Israeli aircraft as part of preparations for a possible attack on Iran. The report claimed the Saudi air force had begun training to enable safe passage for the Israeli planes, thus shortening the flight time to the Persian Gulf considerably......"

Killers For Hire: CIA hires notorious Xe in Afghanistan

Press TV

"A report indicates that the US has hired a notorious private security contractor to guard its facilities in Afghanistan and elsewhere despite Washington's rejection of the claim.

An unnamed source told the Washington Post on Thursday the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) signed a USD 100 million contract with Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide....."

June deadliest month in Afghanistan

Press TV

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

"Six more US-led soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, making June the deadliest single month for foreign troops in the nearly nine-year-long conflict.

NATO said in a statement on Thursday that four of the soldiers were killed as a result of a vehicle accident in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday. The fifth soldier was reported dead in another vehicle accident in the war-torn country's west, while an improvised explosive device led to the death of the sixth troop.

The alliance, however, did not disclose the nationalities of the soldiers and the locations of the incidents.

The latest deaths bring the number of NATO soldiers killed in Afghanistan during this month alone to 80.

The number of foreign fatalities in Afghanistan has soared to almost 300 this year, as the militants increased their attacks against the NATO forces....."

'We don't want a crossing for plates, cups and tooth brushes'

By Nicole Johnston

"....We watched the trucks roll into Gaza with goods Israel has not allowed in for more than three years.

And when we waved the drivers down to stop so we could see the cargo, there were those innocuous items; kids’ footballs, packets of pencils, children’s backpacks, kitchen cutlery and sewing material.

Is this a "liberalised" siege - an "easing" of the blockade?

Or is this Israel’s folly on display for the world to see?.....

Sitting on the balcony of my hotel in Gaza, I’m thinking about the Khadr family.

Mohammed said, "The whole world wanted to cross the sea to help us."

But they failed and until the siege is lifted completely, the world will continue to fail the people of Gaza."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

عباس يعارض ممرا بحريا لغزة

"كشفت مصادر دبلوماسية أوروبية أن الرئيس الفلسطيني محمود عباس يعارض فكرة أوروبية تقضي بإقامة ممر بحري إلى قطاع غزة تحت إشراف الاتحاد الأوروبي.

وأوضحت المصادر أن عباس أوفد عضو اللجنة المركزية لحركة التحرير الوطني الفلسطيني (فتح) محمد دحلان إلى إسبانيا التي تتولى حاليا رئاسة الاتحاد الأوروبي، لثنيها عن المضي قدما في طرح تلك الفكرة.

ونقلت وكالة قدس برس عن تلك المصادر قولها إن دحلان التقى وزير الخارجية الإسباني ميغيل أنخيل موراتينوس، وشرح له وجهة نظر السلطة الفلسطينية بضرورة عدم الحديث من قبل أوروبا عن تلك الفكرة.

وأوضحت أن دحلان -وهو أيضا مفوض الإعلام في حركة فتح- تذرع خلال لقائه مع المسؤول الأوروبي بأن من شأن فتح ذلك الممر البحري أن "يقوض أسس الدولة الفلسطينية، ويمنح حركة المقاومة الإسلامية (حماس) القوة، ويضعف السلطة الشرعية، ويكرس الفصل بين الضفة والقطاع".

وأشارت المصادر الأوروبية ذاتها إلى أن دحلان كان من المفترض أن يبقى في إسبانيا لمدة يوم واحد، إلا أنه قام بتمديد زيارته من أجل الاجتماع مع المدير العام لوزارة الخارجية الإسبانية، لوضع التصور الأوروبي المشترك بشأن حصار غزة والالتقاء بموراتينوس مرة أخرى.

معابر رسمية
وأوضح دحلان للمسؤولين في الاتحاد الأوروبي أن السلطة الفلسطينية تفضل أن يتم إدخال البضائع والمواد التي يحتاجها القطاع من خلال المعابر الرسمية بين غزة والجانب الإسرائيلي.

US vetoed Shalit release deal and other things I learned from "diplomatic sources"

By Ali Abunimah
June 23, 2010

"I had some interesting conversations with what I can refer to as diplomatic sources familiar with these matters and thought the following points worth sharing:

* Despite all the talk of ending/easing the blockade of Gaza, there is no way in the foreseeable future of a shift in Quartet policy toward Hamas. Rather, the EU and other peace process stakeholders are waiting for US envoy George Mitchell to pull a white rabbit out of his hat (i.e by restarting "peace talks" leading to a two-state solution). At the same time, no one really believes that is going to happen. So essentially, nothing serious is happening on the diplomatic front.

* World Bank figures due to be published in coming weeks are likely to show that economic growth in the Gaza Strip in the first quarter of 2010 has exceeded that in the West Bank. While virtually all economic growth in the West Bank is a result of foreign aid, much of the growth in Gaza is attributable to a "parallel economy" that has emerged thanks to the tunnels. This has even created a small new class of nouveaux riches in Gaza.....

* Salam Fayyad's "state building" initiative is a hollow shell. All he is is a pass through for foreign funds and a ceremonial ribbon-cutter and has not developed any independent or credible institutions and none are in the offing."

Operation Cage: a case study in Israeli false flag tactics

By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

"(WMR) -- Top Turkish government and intelligence sources told WMR in Ankara and Istanbul that Turkish intelligence has obtained evidence that Israeli intelligence is squarely behind repeated Ergenekon “deep state” plots aimed at overthrowing the Turkish government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including Operations Sledgehammer and Cage.

Israeli special operations personnel have also been discovered by Turkish intelligence providing support for Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) terrorist attacks aimed at Turkish army and navy personnel. Israeli forces, operating from northern Iraq, are believed to have provided support for a recent PKK attack on a Turkish army post near the town of Semdinli. Ironically, Turkish forces used an Israeli-supplied Heron unmanned aerial vehicle system to track down the PKK in Iraq and identify their Israeli support team......"

Obama Considers Firing Gen. Stanley McChrystal over Public Criticism of Administration’s Handling of Afghan War Effort

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"The top US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is in danger of losing his job over a magazine profile in which he criticizes several top Obama administration officials. McChrystal was summoned to Washington after Rolling Stone printed an article in which he and his aides mock Vice President Joe Biden, US ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, National Security Adviser General James Jones, and Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke. We speak to retired Army colonel and former US diplomat Ann Wright. In 2002, she helped open the US mission in Kabul...."

Al-Jazeera Video: Rolling Stone magazine writer explains McChrystal article

"Michael Hastings, the author of the Rolling Stone article on General Stanley McChrystal, tells Al Jazeera what the top US and Nato commander in Afghanistan was trying to achieve by giving a journalist so much access. "

Real News Video: Why the furor over McChrystal?

Gareth Porter: The real problem is a failed strategy in Afghanistan

More at The Real News

Obama's Truman-MacArthur Moment

By Ray McGovern
June 22, 2010

(Cartoon by Carlos Latuff)

"Journalist Michael Hastings has given Rolling Stone magazine a graphic account of the arrogance, disarray and ineptitude that distinguish what passes for President Barack Obama’s policy on Afghanistan. For those of us with some gray in our hair, the fiasco is infuriatingly reminiscent of Vietnam.

In blowing off steam to Hastings, NATO/U.S. commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his top aides seem to have decided that, at this low point in the Afghanistan quagmire, political offense is the best defense for a military strategy sinking from waist to neck deep.....

So hold onto your hats. McChrystal has given the President the unexpected opportunity to change course and leave behind the fool’s errand called Afghanistan. But the general has also thrown down the gauntlet.

I wish I were more confident that the President has the backbone to face into this critical challenge with some courage."

Choose Peace: End the Siege of Gaza and Occupation of Palestine

By Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate
Palestine Chronicle

"On Saturday 5th June, 2010, 35 heavily armed Israeli Navy Seals commandeered our boat, MV Rachel Corrie, one of the Freedom Flotilla, in International waters (30 miles off the coast of Gaza). As they did so, we 19 humanitarian activists and crew, sat on the deck.

We were quietly anxious, aware of the solitary figure in the wheelhouse with his hands held high against the window, in full view of the three Israeli warships, 4 approaching zodiacs and 2 commando carriers, whose guns were pointing in his direction. I personally wondered if the courageous Derek Graham would live to tell the tale, conscious of what happened on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, earlier in the week....

To help bring closer that day we can all do something. Not everyone can go with the Free Gaza boat people, but supporting the BDS campaign, calling for an end to EU special trading status with Israel insisting that USA end its economic/military assistance to Israel until it upholds it international commitments. Palestine is a key to peace in the Middle East so by us all refusing to be ‘silent’ in the face of Israel’s continued apartheid policies we can all bring closer an end to all violence in the Middle East."

Hail to the whistleblowers

Whistleblowers like those at WikiLeaks make huge sacrifices and are a vital last resort to check the powers of government

James Denselow, Wednesday 23 June 2010

"James Madison (drafter of the US first amendment) once wrote that "government, without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or perhaps both".

This is certainly true of Afghanistan, where the US-led coalition has been able to avoid a true audit of the impact of its presence via tight control of the media combined with manipulated patriotism.....

WikiLeaks's Assange claims that he is now under tight surveillance and is afraid to travel to the US. Although these individuals can be easily smeared with accusations of treason and being unpatriotic, more often than not history vindicates their actions."

McChrystal’s Challenge

A prank – or a provocation?

by Justin Raimondo, June 23, 2010

".....As the nation teeters on the brink of economic disaster at home, as well as military disaster on the Afghan front, there are voices calling for a Leader – capitalize that, please. The military virtues are a shelter in a socio-economic storm, the causes of which are incomprehensible to the average American. The people are yearning for someone to tell them what to do, and when to do it, and what better leader-figure amid all this turmoil than a tough-talking no-nonsense roughneck, a brute for brutish times. Whether that figure is McChrystal, or someone else, isn’t really the point. What’s important is that his actions – and the President’s response – will set an important precedent.

In the age of empire, American military leaders – even the insubordinate kind – are inevitably becoming political figures. To anyone who understands the original intent of the Founders, and their mortal fear of a permanent military caste, this is a frightening development: indeed, it is a turning point, one that the history books of McChrystal’s imagination will note as the moment an American Caesar crossed the Rubicon – or not."

Human rights suffer as Libya stalls on reform

Amnesty International

"Human rights are suffering in Libya as it continues to stall on reform, Amnesty International has warned in a new report, despite the country's efforts to play a greater international role.

'Libya of Tomorrow': What Hope for Human Rights? documents floggings used as punishment for adultery, indefinite detentions and abuses of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers as well as the legacy of unresolved cases of enforced disappearances of dissidents. Meanwhile, the security forces remain immune from the consequences of their actions...."

Click Here to Download Report

Pan-Arab narrative a myth in Lebanon

An apparently racially motivated attack on Sudanese immigrants in Beirut exposes the subtleties of intra-Arab discrimination

Nesrine Malik, Tuesday 22 June 2010

"Anger towards Lebanon is brewing in Sudan and in Sudanese online forums. According to reports in the Arab media, a fundraising party held by Sudanese immigrants and asylum seekers in Beirut in aid of a child with cancer, was raided by Lebanese security apparently on the hunt for illegal residents.

Eyewitnesses report that although most of those attending produced valid residency cards, this did not spare them from being handcuffed, beaten and racially abused. According to Sudanese and Lebanese newspaper reports (in Arabic), the detainees were referred to as animals who "learned how to wear nice clothes" and "black pieces of coal", and lined up flat on their bellies. Some members of the police, seemingly ignorant of the fact that there are any Arabic-speaking black Arabs, asked some of the Sudanese how they spoke Arabic so fluently. The Sudanese responded that they were Arabs from Sudan. In disbelief, the officers thought that they were being mocked, and another round of beating started....."

Swedish Dockers Block Israeli Cargo in Gaza Protest


"23/06/2010 The Swedish Dock Workers Union on Wednesday launched a week-long blockade of cargo to and from the Zionist entity to protest the Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last month, a union representative told AFP.

The blockade, which also applies to Israeli ships, was launched "because of the assault on the Ship to Gaza (flotilla), that we supported before they took off ... and the blockade of the Gaza strip, which affects the civilian population," union spokesman Rolf Axelsson said.

The dock workers' protest was to take place in all unionized Swedish ports, and ends at midnight (2200 GMT) on June 29.

Union chairman Bjoern A. Borg added the union called for an international investigation into the May 31 raid that killed nine pro-Palestinian activists.

He told AFP the dock workers believed Israel's easing of its Gaza blockade, announced on Sunday, was insufficient.

Eleven Swedes, including crime writer Henning Mankell, took part in the flotilla and were briefly taken into Israeli custody."

'Obama is stuck with McChrystal'

Interview with Former US Senator Mike Gravel
By Press TV

"Former US Senator Mike Gravel believes the US president is stuck with the "arrogant" commander of US forces in Afghanistan, despite General Stanley McChrystal's mistakes in the Afghan war.

Long-suspected divisions between the US military and administration officials came to the spotlight on Tuesday when McChrystal, in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, criticized US President Barack Obama, his vice president and the US ambassador to Kabul, Press TV reported.

Although McChrystal later officially apologized for his "poor judgment," Gravel believes that the general's "mistake" is indicative of his "lack of integrity," which in fact, can lead to other catastrophic consequences.

The following is the transcript of Gravel's interview with Press TV....."