Saturday, August 26, 2006
Report: Germany to send up to 1,200 troops to Lebanon force : A report released Saturday said the German contribution to a peacekeeping force in Lebanon - navy ships plus surveillance from the air - would involve around 1,200 service personnel.
Israel says will not lift blockade until forces man all borders: Israel will not lift its sea and air blockade of Lebanon unless Lebanese and international forces deploy at all border crossings, including those on the Lebanese-Syrian frontier to enforce an arms embargo on Hezbollah militants, an foreign ministry official said Saturday.
Two Palestinian Killed as Israeli Forces Kidnap Hamas Leader in Khan Younis: Israeli occupation forces continued their aggressions in the Gaza Strip, killing two Palestinians in the city of Khan Younis, and nabbing leader in Hamas from the city.
Israel attacks Reuters car: According to witnesses, a Reuters cameraman and a freelance cameraman working for an Arabic network were standing outside the vehicle in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza filming a nearby Israeli raid when the missiles hit the car.Gaza: 'why demolish the olive trees'? "They took two of my cousins and asked them about militants and tunnels that we don’t know about at all said the old farmer Ahmed Heles, 65, while cleaning the remains of his green houses, as the Israeli bulldozers demolished all his olive trees. ”We will stay strong and survive until we die in our land” he added. The man was waiting for the harvest time to come, so he can continue his dream and see his grandson getting married, but Israeli bulldozers made this dream impossible by demolishing his olive trees and all his belongings.
Israeli Army Kills 15 year old Demonstrator, Injures 12, and Demolishes: in the Jabal Shamali neighborhood of Nablus, soldiers of the Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) launched a 16 and a half hour incursion, wherein they killed one young boy, hospitalized at least twelve with many more injured, and destroyed twenty homes and apartments. The IOF entered the area around 2:00am, with over 26 military vehicles including armoured jeeps, hummers, border police jeeps, a Caterpillar D9 armoured bulldozer and Caterpillar “excavator” wrecking machines.
Israeli Army Shoots Civillians at Checkpoint, Destroys Houses in Nablus: The army has been very vocal with racist comments abusing the people at the checkpoints verbally and not letting them past this morning. The violence of the army escalated resulting in two Palestinian men being shot in the legs. The ambulance is seeing to them now but is not allowed to pass through to the hospital.
Israeli air force shells a house in Gaza, five residents injured: Targeting civilian infrastructure is in direct violations to the principles of human rights and to the Fourth Geneva Conventions. Recently, the Israeli army adopted a policy of calling families in the Gaza Strip informing them that their homes will be shelled within ten to fifteen minutes. By using this policy, the Israeli army demolishes Palestinian homes without giving the residents any opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law.
Gaza operations grinding to a halt, warns UN relief agency in Palestinian territory: In a statement released yesterday, UNRWA said it has just one week's supply of fuel left. The agency noted that it will not be able to start distributing food to 830,000 people next week unless the Karni crossing re-opens. The principal goods terminal, Karni has been closed since 15 August.
Hamas to lead future coalition govt: spokesman: "All the issue of commissioning portfolios would be subject to dialogue and negotiations, but Hamas would lead the government because of its majority in the parliament," Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters.
4-year old Palestinian girl killed in Iraq: Media sources reported that an unknown armed group shot fire at citizens in al-Doura area, southwest Baghdad, killing Maryam al-Murtadi. She was shot in the head while walking with her father in al-Seha neighbourhood.
Iraq: At least 13 killed as U.S. occupation continues: Gunmen in the town of Baquba 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad attacked a Shi'ite family, killing two women and two children and wounding 11.
Three US soldiers killed in Iraq: One was shot dead by gunmen who attacked his patrol. Another was killed by a roadside bomb. And a third fell during a raid the military says was aimed at capturing "foreign terrorists" -- two of whom were also killed in a firefight.
Gunmen kill translator in Basra: Gunmen in a speeding car opened fire Saturday on two sisters working as translators for the British consulate, killing one of them and seriously wounding the other, police said.
Ex-officer admits kickbacks in Iraq : A former U.S. Army Reserve officer from Spotsylvania County admitted yesterday that he steered millions of dollars in Iraq-reconstruction contracts in trade for jewelry, computers, cigars and sexual favors.
Kidnapped Sunni Arab lawmaker freed: Kidnapped Sunni Arab lawmaker Tayseer al-Mashhadani was released Saturday after being held for nearly two months, and the prime minister described her release as a "gift" on the day he launched his project for national reconciliation.
'I can't go to Iraq. I can't kill those children' - Suicide soldier's dying words to his mother: "In training, they were made to wrestle with dummies. Jason said they were also told they might have to fight kids and that they might have to shoot them because they were carrying suicide bombs. He said the policy [where there was a suspected suicide bomber] was to shoot first and ask questions later."
By Andrew Murray
08/26/06 "The Guardian" -- -- 'How goes the empire?" Perhaps Tony Blair will be tempted to repeat King George V's dying words as he prepares to shuffle off his own political coil. It is a measure of the extent to which the prime minister's foreign policy has restored imperialism to the political vocabulary of the country that, when his legacy is debated, the state of empire will be the main issue.
The answer is that it goes pretty badly. The new imperialism which will for ever be linked to the names Bush and Blair has taken just five years to hit the buffers of popular opposition and moral ignominy. Imperialism has moved from the realm of political jargon to be the central issue of our time - and is seen as such everywhere beyond the ramparts of the neoconservative-New Labour alliance.
In Iraq, the great testing ground for "liberal interventionism", the pitch of resistance to the armies of occupation, along with the failure of a parade of hand-picked premiers to deliver even a facade of stability, is, according to the New York Times, leading George Bush to consider abandoning his "democratic" experiment in favour of, presumably, a dictatorship.
In Afghanistan, to which British troops were rushed nearly five years after regime change was imposed, the Karzai government is floundering in epic levels of corruption. It has reinstated the power of opium-funded warlords, the suppression of whom was perhaps the Taliban's only popular achievement. The consequence has been a conflict of a ferocity that the British army has not seen since the Korean war, according to Lieutenant-General David Richards, the commander on the spot.
And despite Blair's determined green light to Israel's attack on Lebanon, the "long, strong arm of the US" in the region - as the Israeli commentator Sima Kadmon describes his country - has had to retreat with its objectives unmet. No one seems to be rushing to pick up the white man's burden there either. Continued.
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
"On August 17 we published a very interesting interview with Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah. A CounterPunch reader had found it on the Marxmail list, moderated by Louis Proyect, and passed it along to us. The interview was translated from Turkish, in which language it had appeared in the Turkish socialist daily, Evrensel, on August 12 and 13. We didn't publish the full interview, which had some sections on the war that had been somewhat overtaken by events. Of interest to us was the very radical timbre of Nasrallah's language and his remarks about the world struggle against imperialism.
The interview hadn't been up our website for long before it was the target of a rather blustering denunciation by As'ad AbuKhalil, on his Angry Arab website, claiming that this was clearly a forgery and was perhaps an interview with the Nasrallah kidnapped by Israelis in a raid on the hospital near Ba'albek. Around the same time a few readers forwarded to us a note to his list sent by Gilbert Achcar, the Paris-based writer on Middle Eastern politics, saying "the interview seemed quite bizarre for people familiar with the topic". Achcar said he'd contacted "a source in Beirut in close touch with Hezbollah" who "has confirmed to me that it is a forgery."
We established that the interview had indeed appeared in Evrensel, a serious newspaper, and Nasrallah's remarks had aroused some comment in the Turkish press, particularly because of his homage in the interview to the Turkish revolutionary Deniz Gezmis. CounterPuncher Ali Tonak in Beirut confirmed that the English translation from Turkish was good.
Of course there are always fakes floating around, but we weren't particularly impressed with the outburst on Angry Arab which seemed to verge on a sort of "proprietary" bark, almost as if he owned Nasrallah and resented trespass. There was even a whiff of orientalizing, about what a Shi'a leader should or should not be capable of saying. Our view is the Nasrallah is a very smart fellow, and knew perfectly well he was addressing a left Turkish audience."
(Ray Close was a top CIA analyst in the Near East Division. He is now a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity)
"Adding up all those factors, it seems clear to me that Bush has laid out the following course for American policy, adding up to a Catch-22 from which I see no escape:
a. Continuing futile efforts to achieve Iranian capitulation through weak and ineffective economic sanctions, to the accompaniment of counterproductive vituperation and bombast;
b. Quickly followed by a period of rapidly escalating threats of military action, during which international and domestic opposition to American policy will increase dramatically, making Bush's choices increasingly more painful and difficult in every respect;
c. A judgment by Bush that the immediate risks and costs of preemptive military action against Iran are, in the final analysis, less formidable than the risks and costs of tolerating Iranian nuclear possession --- and the personal and national humiliation that would result from passive acceptance of that outcome.
d. Sometime before the end of his term, a massive air military attack on a wide range of carefully selected targets in Iran, in partnership with Israel, and against the advice of many of his advisers --- justified by the conviction that a nuclear Iran would pose an intolerable threat to American national security, firm in his faith that God agrees with him on that point, and certain that history will eventually recognize and properly appreciate his courageous and visionary leadership."
By GARY LEUPP
"The deployment of a UN-legitimated, probably French-led force in south Lebanon is in theory designed to "secure the border." But UNIFIL itself has reported nearly daily violations of Lebanese airspace by Israel since the Israeli withdrawal from the area in 2000. (Lebanese of all faiths credit this withdrawal to the efforts of Hizbollah fighters.) In reality the expanded UNIFIL mission is intended to eliminate Iran's ability to respond to imperialist aggression against itself through the use of its Lebanese allies. It's a mission preparatory to that aggression, preceding Iran's expected rejection of the U.S.-backed "generous offer" to Iran and reiteration of its inalienable right according to the Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium.
"We are creating a situation where everything we're going to try short of military force is going to fail," says Ilan Berman, an Iran specialist with the American Foreign Policy Council, which advocates an aggressive posture towards Iran.
Back in May, when the U.S. agreed to join in talks with the Iranian regime if it agreed to suspend uranium enrichment," the U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton told Neil Cavuto of Fox News that Bush was "taking this step to show strength and American leadership. He's doing it to say 'We gave Iran this last chance to show they are serious when they say, "We don't want nuclear weapons." This is 'put up or shut up' time for Iran." It was in fact setup time for Iran.
So how indeed can this UN deployment in Lebanon, taking shape as I write, aid the neocons' and AIPAC's ambition to topple the government of Iran? By wedding the U.S. Europe, and Israel in the common cause of disarming the most admired armed force in the Middle East and broader Muslim world, and thus involving them all cooperatively in an effort calculated to provoke Syria and Iran. "
"Disfigured by its "special relationship" with the US arms industry, of which the US Congress is an integral component, the IDF has been morally corrupted by years of risk-free brutalization of unarmed Palestinians, many of them children. It's one thing to level an apartment building with a missile from a plane or crush a protester with a bulldozer or lob shells at a Palestinian family having a picnic on a beach or kidnap middle-aged and democratically elected Palestinian politicians. It's another confront a foe, with modest but effectively deployed weaponry, prepared to fight back.
Years of racism have taken their toll too. Think of Arabs as subhuman "terrorists" and you end up making a lot of misjudgments, tactical and strategic.
You can read plenty of commentary round the world, most particularly Israel, saying this recent war was a benchmark event, which could conceivably teach Israel that security is not won by unending land grabs, by spouting hokum for US consumption about the "peace process", and by terror bombing of Lebanon and Gaza. But not in the United States. Open up the Washington Post and the strategic vision on display was an utterly mad piece co-written by one of the big boosters for war on Iraq, Kenneth Pollack, a hack thinker at the Brookings Institution, now an integral part of Israeli territory with its "Saban Center for Middle East Policy" named for the fanatic Zionist billionaire Haim Saban, majority owner of Paramount Pictures, a man who handed the Democratic Party a total of $12.3 million in 2002, a $7 million component of which was the biggest single contribution ever recorded up to that time.
Thirty years ago I used to be told that liberal American Jews were aghast at the rise of the ur-neocon fanatics like Norman Podhoretz, at Commentary, whose parent outfit was and is the American Jewish Committee. Soon, such liberals used to say to me off the record, there would be a counter-attack by the forces of reason, as embodied in liberal American Jewry. There never was, at least on any effective scale. The liberal Jewish intelligentsia here has, politically, speaking, sat on its hands for decades, mouths zipped shut, when it comes to criticizing Israel. Even more effectively than America's defense contractors they have contributed to, and indeed cheered on Israel's corrupt rejectionism. Will this war make them change their minds? I doubt it."
"While you can't judge a book by its cover, you can glean insight these days from the titles given to National Intelligence Estimates and papers meant to supplant them. Remember "Iraq's Continuing Program for Weapons of Mass Destruction," the infamous NIE of October 1, 2002, by which Congress was misled into approving an unnecessary war? "Continuing" leaped out of the title, foreshadowing the one-sided thrust of an estimate ostensibly commissioned to determine whether WMD programs were "continuing," or whether they had been dead for ten years. (The latter turned out to be the case, but the title – and the cooked insides – provided the scare needed to get Congress aboard.)
Now suddenly appears a pseudo-estimate titled "Recognizing Iran as a Strategic Threat: An Intelligence Challenge for the United States." To wit, the challenge set before the Intelligence Community is to get religion, climb aboard, and "recognize" Iran as a strategic threat. But alas, the community has not yet been fully purged of recalcitrant intelligence analysts who reject a "faith-based" approach to intelligence and hang back from the altar call to revealed truth. Hence, the statutory intelligence agencies cannot be counted on to come to politically correct conclusions regarding the strategic threat from Iran.
Hoekstra's release of this paper is another sign pointing in the direction of a US attack on Iran. Tehran is now being blamed not only for inciting Hezbollah but also for sending improvised explosive devices (IEDs) into Iraq to kill or maim US forces. There is yet another, if more subtle, disquieting note about the paper. It bears the earmarks of a rushed job, with very little editorial scrubbing. There are misplaced modifiers, and verbs often do not take enough care to agree in number with their nouns.
One wag suggested that the president may have taken a direct hand in the drafting. My guess is even more troubling. It seems to me possible that the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal told Hoekstra to get the paper out sooner rather than later, as an aid to Americans in "recognizing Iran as a strategic threat.""
Friday, August 25, 2006
"A chief prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg has said George W. Bush should be tried for war crimes along with Saddam Hussein. Benjamin Ferenccz, who secured convictions for 22 Nazi officers for their work in orchestrating the death squads that killed more than 1 million people, told OneWorld both Bush and Saddam should be tried for starting "aggressive" wars--Saddam for his 1990 attack on Kuwait and Bush for his 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Nuremberg declared that aggressive war is the supreme international crime," the 87-year-old Ferenccz told OneWorld from his home in New York. He said the United Nations charter, which was written after the carnage of World War II, contains a provision that no nation can use armed force without the permission of the UN Security Council.
Ferenccz said that after Nuremberg the international community realized that every war results in violations by both sides, meaning the primary objective should be preventing any war from occurring in the first place.
He said the atrocities of the Iraq war--from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the massacre of dozens of civilians by U.S. forces in Haditha to the high number of civilian casualties caused by insurgent car bombs--were highly predictable at the start of the war.
Which wars should be prosecuted? "Every war will lead to attacks on civilians," he said. "Crimes against humanity, destruction beyond the needs of military necessity, rape of civilians, plunder--that always happens in wartime. So my answer personally, after working for 60 years on this problem and [as someone] who hates to see all these young people get killed no matter what their nationality, is that you've got to stop using warfare as a means of settling your disputes.""
Elliot Abrams in Jerusalem
By TOM BARRY
"In marked contrast, there is little public debate in the United States about the Bush administration's role in supporting Israel's failed and criminal war in Lebanon. As recent press reports reveal, President Bush and his foreign policy team had given Israel a green light to take out Hezbollah at least two months before Hezbollah guerrillas kidnapped two Israeli soldiers.
As was the case in U.S. policy toward Iraq, the neoconservative camp-led by such institutes as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Center for Security Policy, and the now defunct Project for the New American Century and by such neocon pundits and strategists as Max Boot, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Ledeen, and Elliott Abrams-has long promoted that the United States and Israel implement regime change and preemptive strategies against Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran.
Also like the Iraq War, the neoconservatives inside and outside the Bush administration have seen their own causes embraced, to various degrees, by Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and the president himself.
Outside the administration the neocons have vociferously pressed for the U.S. government to proceed "faster, please," as AEI's Freedom Scholar Michael Leeden often says, with its Middle East transformation strategy. During the recent hostilities, Ledeen and others, notably Krauthammer, Boot, and William Kristol, have advocated that the United States and Israel take the war to Syria and Iran.
Since he joined the Bush administration in 2002 as the chief Middle East adviser at the White House's National Security Council, Elliott Abrams has quietly pushed for a transformational Middle East policy with Israel at its center. If one U.S. official were to be blamed-aside from the president, vice president, and secretary of state-for the U.S. government's disastrous stance with Israel in the recent war, it would be Elliot Abrams. Perhaps more than any other member of Bush's foreign policy team, Abrams embodies the administration's zealous, ideological, and dangerously delusional vision of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
Abrams, a neoconservative who has dedicated himself to reshaping U.S. foreign policy since the mid-1970s, is the Bush administration's point man for Middle East transformation. According to Seymour Hersh writing in the August 21 New Yorker, Cheney's foreign policy staff and Abrams in early summer had signed off on an Israeli plan to wipe out Hezbollah."
TYRE — Israeli cluster bombs dropped during a monthlong blitz against Hizbollah in southern Lebanon are taking an increasing toll on civilians trying to return home more than a week after the fighting ended, the UN and rights groups say.
"Every day we hear about casualties — it's a large number," said Dalya Farran, media officer for the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre in southern Lebanon.
"We're in an emergency situation," she said.
Several children have been among the 11 killed and 43 wounded by cluster bomb explosions since the ceasefire began on August 14, according to Lebanese military figures.
On Wednesday, three Lebanese bomb disposal experts were also killed by a cluster bomb in the village of Tebnin, some 15 kilometres from the Israeli border.
By Justin Raimondo
"Laura Rozen, guest-blogging for the Washington Monthly, wonders if "the marketing campaign" for war with Iran has begun, noting what the deputy director of operations for the joint chief of staffs said over at the Pentagon the other day:
"The Iranian government is training and equipping much of the Shiite insurgency in Iraq, a senior U.S. general said Wednesday, drawing one of the most direct links by the Pentagon. ..."
The Iranians have had their hand in this pie from the word go. Our friend Ahmed Chalabi, touted by the neocons as the George Washington of "democratic" Iraq, was and is no doubt still quite friendly with the mullahs: such a good friend that he purportedly passed off to them vital U.S. secrets which seriously compromised our intelligence-gathering efforts in Iran.
Another interesting angle on Shulsky's academic hobbyhorse is the Staussian belief that the ignorant masses cannot be trusted with the truth, while the elite philosopher-kings fulfill the vital function of constructing and upholding "myths" necessary for social and political cohesion. Strauss, in short, is the philosopher of the "noble lie," and surely no thinker is more suited to providing a theoretical framework for the work carried out by Shulsky and his neocon confreres.
Already, the neocons have launched a trial balloon in the form of a congressional report [.pdf] taking the intelligence community to task for supposedly underestimating the Iranian nuclear capability and Tehran's hostile intentions.
As I have said before in this space, the Democrats are not above out-warmongering the GOP on the question of Iran, and that means there is no natural brake on the sociopathic militarism inherent in this administration. After their failure in Iraq, and a brief exile in the wilderness, the neocons are riding high again – and that means endless troubles for us all."
YOU AND ME KID ARE IN THIS THING TOGETHER!
WE NEED EACH OTHER AS NEVER BEFORE!
This image released by the Jordanian Royal Palace in Amman shows King Abdullah II of Jordan, right, receives the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, left, in Amman, Jordan, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006. (AP Photo)
Palestinian firefighters extinguish a fire in the rubble left after an Israeli airstrike on a building in Gaza City, early Friday, Aug. 25, 2006. Israeli aircraft attacked two buildings in the Gaza Strip early Friday, wounding at least nine people, Palestinian officials said.(AP Photo)
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Could the formation of a national unity government solve the crisis of the Palestinian Authority? Very unlikely.
"Indeed, the Israeli government, bruised by the war with Hizbullah, is now viewing the entire Palestinian front as a secondary issue, especially with the Bush administration showing no sign of even nudging Israel to implement the now-moribund "roadmap plan for peace".
The EU, for its part, is continuing with its flimsy and indecisive posture vis-à-vis the entire Palestinian issue while influential Arab states are basking in their apparent powerlessness, making do with issuing periodic appeals to an unhearing international community to force Israel to resolve the Palestinian issue in accordance with international law.
It is highly unlikely that the overall situation will undergo any dramatic or substantive change in the coming few weeks, given Israel's recalcitrance, American tendentious apathy and official Arab impotence to help the Palestinians in any meaningful manner. American and European preoccupations with the Iranian nuclear crisis will also be translated into more negligence of the Palestinian issue, which will ultimately generate more volatility, extremism and violence.
Israel, of course, doesn't want to return to a pre- Oslo situation when Israeli army officers ran Palestinian affairs, from municipal functions to economic policies. Neither, however, does it want a national unity government that could oppose its slow strangling occupation with greater vigor. Rather, Israel wants the pre-Hamas status quo restored: a quisling Palestinian regime at Israel's beck and call."
HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE IDIOCY OF THOSE WHO BROUGHT YOU "THE WAR ON TERROR"
Mardin Amin, an Iraqi arrested at O'Hare airport now faces serious felony charges of disorderly conduct. He could get three years in prison. A female security guard claims Amin uttered the word "bomb" when she was examining a small black squeezable object she'd taken from his bag.
For his part, Amin, on his way to Turkey with his mother and his children, claims he was whispering to his mother that it was a "pump" in fact a penis pump.
The judge believed the security guard and now Amin faces the felony charges.
CounterPuncher and Arabic-speaker David Price clarifies the affair.
"As an anthropologist and Arabic speaker," Price tells CounterPunch," let me call attention to a vital aspect of this story. Simply put, Arabic has no 'Ps' and all native Arabic speakers unvoice their bilabials as 'Bs', thus it is pretty obvious that any native Arabic speaker with an accent would say the word 'pump' as the word 'bumb' --which the poorly-trained and overly paranoid airport security worker mis-heard as 'bomb.'
"As has happened here, with newspapers such as the Chicago Sun Times, news pieces with the words 'penis pump' will generate guffaws from sea to shinning sea, but by not stating what the obvious context of this misunderstanding is, the Sun Times is adding to a dangerous climate of American anti-Arab sentiment."
Professor Price urges the chortling scriveners and newsreaders of Chicago's entyertrainment industry to do what they can to reduce climate of hysteria by shedding some public light on what actually happened in this case.
After Wednesday's hearing, Amin said airport security officials never gave him an opportunity to explain the misunderstanding. And he said he would never utter the word "bomb" while going through securi
"Come on -- what do you think?" said Amin, who lives in Skokie and works for a janitorial service.
Amin does not consider the pump unusual.
"It's normal," he said. "Half of America they use it."
"Journalist: When the war started, you said that Nasrallah would remember the name of Amir Peretz for years to come.
Peretz: Who's Amir Peretz?
The resistance had not anticipated the war; nor, for that matter, had Israel. However, the resistance had anticipated how Israel would handle a war and prepared itself accordingly. Israel, on the other hand, had no idea of the resistance's strength and was taken by surprise by the resistance's combat performance, in spite of the fact that Israel had had the offensive advantage. Such considerations are important in determining the success or failure of military leaders under given circumstances.
Hizbullah's real victory resides in its grassroots base. Just as some envy Lebanese society for its resistance movement, that movement should also be envied for its society. Specifically, I refer to the society of southern Lebanon, Dahiya and Bakaa -- that unique historical, cultural, political, literary, aesthetic blend of tobacco farmers and resistance fighters, neighbours to Palestine and Syria, on the dividing line between the acceptance and rejection of the Sykes-Picot agreement, mountain dwellers and coastal peoples from northern Galilee and southern Lebanon, theologians of the underprivileged and oppressed, advocates of ethnic-free Arabism and Lebanese authenticity and believers in communism, nationalism, pan-Arab nationalism, religious devotion and denominational pluralism, all within a small stretch of land each patch of which has its own name, its own story to tell and its own sense of identity.
Once the ceasefire went into effect the people of the south did not wait a single moment more than they had to in the public gardens and schools of Beirut. As soon as they could they headed back to their towns and villages to shoo away the Israeli army. That's the people of Lebanon for you: tougher than rock and gentler than a mother cradling her child. They are the people making the great march southward, even before the bridges are rebuilt and the roads repaired, because they are the country's roads and bridges."
The report from the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House - entitled Iran, its neighbours and the regional crises - paints a bleak picture of the prospects for the United States and its Western allies as they try to put a cap on Iran's nuclear programme.
It describes Iran as a state that sits with "confident ease" in the region and says, crucially, that Iran has replaced the United States as the most influential power in Iraq, able to influence events on the street and not just behind the security barricades of Baghdad's Green Zone.
"There is little doubt that Iran has been the chief beneficiary of the War on Terror in the Middle East," says the report from Chatham House's Middle East Programme.
"The United States, with coalition support, has eliminated two of Iran’s regional rival governments - the Taleban in Afghanistan in November 2001 and Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq in April 2003 - but has failed to replace either with coherent and stable political structures."
The Chatham House experts wrote that their original report was to analyse Iran's regional influence in the context of international efforts to prevent it developing nuclear weapons.
Its scope was also to encompass the complexities of Iranian domestic politics and the clash between the "apocalyptic world-view" of President Ahmadinejad and the more pragmatic, conservative Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
But as the conflicts grew in Gaza and the Lebanon, where Iran is the key backer of the Hezbollah militia, the 50-page report was expanded to consider all other inter-connected regional crises.
"A recurring theme is the desire of most states to maintain good relations with Iran or, where the relationship is less strong, to avoid antagonisation or any further deterioration," the report says.
"There exist a variety of reasons for this which have generally been strengthened by the turmoil in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. Iran is in a powerful regional position and its co-operation and positive influence are needed to douse the many fires currently alight.
"Were Iran to feel seriously threatened by outside forces, it does have the potential to inflame the region yet further.""
"In a few minutes we are going to get a response on the report from Israel’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Daniel Carmon, but first we take a closer look at the report’s findings with Marty Rosenbluth. He is a specialist for Israel, the Occupied Territories and the Palestinian Authority for Amnesty International-USA. He was on one of the research missions for the group that helped compile this report.
AMY GOODMAN: It's good to have you joining us in the Reuters studio. Can you talk about your major findings in this report?
MARTY ROSENBLUTH: Well, sure. What the report shows is that the Israeli claims that the damage to the civilian infrastructure was purely collateral damage just really doesn't match the facts. And you really only have to look at the statements by Israeli government officials. I mean, Dan Halutz, who’s the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, said at the very beginning of the war that the purpose of the air strikes was to send a message to the Lebanese government that if they didn't rein in Hezbollah, that the Lebanese population would pay a heavy price. I mean, that's prima fascia evidence that the strikes were designed as collective punishment. But also just the sheer level of the destruction, the destruction of the electrical infrastructure, the water infrastructure, the roads, the bridges, houses, businesses, etc., just doesn't match the Israeli claims that this was either collateral damage or due to the fact that Hezbollah was shielding amongst the civilian population.
JUAN GONZALEZ: When you say the principle of distinction -- for example, in your report you mentioned the many roads that were destroyed by Israel. Israel was claiming that these roads could potentially be used for military transport. But you raise the issue that while that may be true, they were principally used by civilians and that that should have been the overriding factor?
MARTY ROSENBLUTH: Correct. And that's really what the principle of distinction means: you have to distinguish between whether it's primarily a military purpose or primarily a civilian purpose to balance essentially what the military advantage is versus the effect on the civilian population. So when we met with senior IDF officials in Israel, they said, “Well, the electrical infrastructure is a military target, because Hezbollah needs electricity.” Well, of course Hezbollah needs electricity, but so do hospitals, so do civilians for refrigeration, so does the water infrastructure. The electrical pumps rely on electricity for water. So if you knock out the electricity infrastructure, you also knock out the water, which creates a major health hazard. So, simply claiming that there's some military potential or it contributes in some way to Hezbollah's military purposes doesn't mean that it can be targeted as a military target. That's a clear violation of the laws of war."
THIS IS WHAT STATE TERROR LOOKS LIKE
WHEN DO THE WAR-CRIME TRIALS BEGIN?
A Lebanese woman with her children stand next to rubble of a destroyed apartment building following Israeli bombardments during the 34-day war, in the village of Siddiqine, southern Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2006. (AP Photo)
WHERE ARE AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTALISTS?
In this photo made available by Greenpeace Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2006, boats float near a dock in the seaport of Byblos, northern Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2006, which is heavily polluted by oil, as a result of the Israeli bombing mid-July of the Jiyeh power plant, south of Beirut. After a month slathered over waters off Lebanon's coast, an oil spill unleashed by Israeli bombardment has started sinking to the sea floor _ blanketing marine life with a tar-like sludge, experts and the U.N. said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Greenpeace)
Ali, last name not given, peers from the window of his damaged family home, attacked during the 34 day-long Israeli forces' offensive, in the southern border village of Maroun el-Ras, Lebanon, Wednesday Aug. 23, 2006. The house which was occupied for several days by Israeli forces was littered with soldiers' belongings, empty food cans and water bottles. During that time the family had fled the village. (AP Photo)
One answer is that it had some eminent salesmen. On July 2 2005, Tony Blair secretly landed in Riyadh to persuade the Saudi princes that this flying scrapheap was the must-have accessory for every fashionable young despot. Three weeks later the defence secretary John Reid turned up to deploy his subtle charms. Somehow the deal survived, and last week his successor, Des Browne, signed the agreement. All of which raises a second question. Why are government ministers, even Blair himself, prepared to reduce themselves to hawkers on behalf of arms merchants? Continued.
What is happening in the broader Middle East and North Africa can be seen as a boomerang effect that has been playing out slowly since the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001. In the immediate aftermath of those attacks, there was worldwide sympathy for the United States and support for its declared "war on terrorism," including the invasion of Afghanistan. Then the cynical exploitation of this universal goodwill by so-called neoconservatives to advance hegemonic designs was confirmed by the war in Iraq. The Bush administration's dishonest statements about "weapons of mass destruction" diminished whatever credibility the United States might have had as liberator, while disastrous mismanagement of Iraqi affairs after the invasion led to the squandering of a conventional military victory. The country slid into bloody sectarian violence, while official Washington stonewalled and refused to admit mistakes. No wonder the world has progressively turned against America. Continued.
Surprise would be a start, since it would mean the Decider was admitting novel facts to his settled base of knowledge and reacting to them. Alas, it seems the door to the presidential mind is still locked tight. "I don't remember being surprised," he said at his news conference yesterday. "I'm not sure what they mean by that."
I'm guessing "they" might mean that when you try to impose your simplistic, black-and-white template on a kaleidoscopic world, and you end up setting the Middle East on fire, either you're surprised or you're not paying attention. But that's just me. Continued.
23 August 2006
KHAN YUNIS, Gaza Strip, Aug 23 2006
"I don't have the money to send my children to school," broods father-of-four Mohammed Abu Mur in depressed south Gaza. A Palestinian civil servant, he has not been paid for six months.
Like many other Palestinian parents facing the grim reality of worsening financial crisis in the Gaza Strip, he cannot afford books or uniforms to send his children back to the classroom after the long summer holidays.
"I don't know what to do. This year I can't buy anything for my children, not uniforms, books or school equipment" for the new term due to begin on September 2, says Abu Mur in the Khan Yunis refugee camp.
"I haven't been paid since March and I don't have any money to send my four children to school. Uniform and shoe-wise they could still use those from last year, but the books," he trails off.
It is not just Abu Mur who has gone unpaid. His children's teachers have also been without their salaries. Staff in state-run schools make up around a quarter of the 160,000 civil servants on the Palestinian Authority payroll who have received pratically no money since late February.
In protest, the teachers' union has announced that its members will not return to their classes in the Palestinian territories on September 2.
The European Union and United States suspended direct aid to the Palestinian Authority when Islamist party Hamas took office following an upset election win, citing its refusal to recognise Israel and renounce violence.
"I fear for my children as well as the others," said Abu Mur. "I'm frightened that they'll end up in the street."
Palestinians are currently among the most educated in the Middle East with literacy estimated at around 92.3 percent and an education drop-out rate of only 0.9 percent.
At the Abdullah Abu Sitta school in the depressed south Gaza town of Khan Yunis, teacher Hamam al-Faqawi is braced for a difficult start to the new academic year.
"Parents have to spend around 100 shekels (23 dollars) for their children's uniforms and shoes, and 100 shekels for books and school supplies. No one can do that," admits Faqawi, who teaches English.
"We are going to have to organise collections for those who cannot afford the uniforms, and for the books students can share."
In order to ease the parental burden, prime minister Ismail Haniya has reduced fees in state schools from the previous 60 shekels (14 dollars) to 20 shekels (4.5 dollars), although for many that is still too expensive.
Ziad Salman is the father of seven. "The school fees, plus expenses comes to more than 1,500 shekels (340 dollars) this year," he calculates.
"Therefore I've had to make do with last year's uniforms and then I borrowed money." A civil servant himself, he has only received one and a half month's salary since March -- around 680 dollars.
"There's cause for alarm. The situation has deteriorated seriously since last year," said Ali al-Farra, headmaster of Khan Yunis's Kamel Nasser Bey school and a member of the main teacher's union.
"People come and see me and complain about not being able to meet the costs of going back to school this year," he said.
"One pupil in two will experience difficulties in buying books, supplies and uniforms this year."
Israeli troops arrested education minister Nasseredine al-Shaer, who is also deputy premier, at the weekend, as part of a crackdown on the Hamas-led government after a deadly militant raid from Gaza on June 25.
Two Israeli soldiers were killed and a third captured by the gunmen, who included members of Hamas's armed wing, triggering a massive two-month offensive against the Palestinian territory.
"The worst thing," says Faqawi, is the effect on children's education and the risk that many parents will keep their children at home.
"Last year, pupils without uniforms were ordered out of class. This year I can't do that," he said.
TYRE, Lebanon * Israel dropped cluster bombs on at least 170 villages and other places in south Lebanon during its 34-day war with Hezbollah guerrillas, a senior United Nations de-mining official said yesterday.
The bomblets that failed to explode are now a deadly trap for civilians who stayed in the south or who fled and are now returning, some to find their homes or workplaces pounded to rubble by Israeli air strikes and artillery. The devices are known to have killed eight people and wounded at least 25, including several children, since a truce took hold on Aug. 14, said Tekimiti Gilbert, operations chief of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre in Lebanon.
"Up to now there are 170 confirmed cluster bomb strikes in south Lebanon," he said in the southern port of Tyre. Continued.
"The standard Western version is that the July 2006 invasion was justified by legitimate outrage over capture of two Israeli soldiers at the border. The posture is cynical fraud. The US and Israel, and the West generally, have little objection to capture of soldiers, or even to the far more severe crime of kidnapping civilians (or of course to killing civilians). That had been Israeli practice in Lebanon for many years, and no one ever suggested that Israel should therefore be invaded and largely destroyed. Western cynicism was revealed with even more dramatic clarity as the current upsurge of violence erupted after Palestinian militants captured an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, on June 25. That too elicited huge outrage, and support for Israel's sharp escalation of its murderous assault on Gaza. The scale is reflected in casualties: in June, 36 Palestinian civilians were killed in Gaza; in July, the numbers more than quadrupled to over 170, dozens of them children. The posture of outrage was, again, cynical fraud, as demonstrated dramatically, and conclusively, by the reaction to Israel's kidnapping of two Gaza civilians, the Muamar brothers, one day before, on June 24. They disappeared into Israel's prison system, joining the hundreds of others imprisoned without charge -- hence kidnapped, as are many of those sentenced on dubious charges. There was some brief and dismissive mention of the kidnapping of the Muamar brothers, but no reaction, because such crimes are considered legitimate when carried out by “our side.” The idea that this crime would justify a murderous assault on Israel would have been regarded as a reversion to Nazism.
The distinction is clear, and familiar throughout history: to paraphrase Thucydides, the powerful are entitled to do as they wish, while the weak suffer as they must.
We should not overlook the progress that has been made in undermining the imperial mentality that is so deeply rooted in Western moral and intellectual culture as to be beyond awareness. Nor should we forget the scale of what remains to be achieved, tasks that must be undertaken in solidarity and cooperation by people in North and South who hope to see a more decent and civilized world."
(Ilan Pappe is senior lecturer in the University of Haifa department of political science, chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies and author of several books)
"It is too early to judge how solid is the ceasefire agreed upon in the second Lebanon war. But it is already possible to draw some initial conclusions - the most important of which is the resounding Israeli military failure. Such a failure can stop for a while the more ambitious US-Israeli plans to extend the military campaign against Iran and Syria, although the danger is not over.
The first buds of the local soul searching indeed indicate that this is going to be the major conclusion of both the army and the political system.
Thus, we should expect more bloodshed and more aggressive policies - if not immediately against Syria and Iran, then against the Palestinians. The second realm is the politics of the Arab world in general and that of Palestine in particular. Enormous admiration is felt in the Arab world and in Palestine for the success of Hizbollah.
However, with all the respect for the resistance and its steadfastness, secular and socialist movements are fearful that such an admiration is not just for the resilience of the Hizbollah but also for the dogma that guided it. This can and should lead to a more fruitful and meaningful dialogue between the left and the popular Islamic movements of resistance in order to find a common ground for the future. This future must be based on respect for tradition and religion, an aspiration for social and economic justice and, hopefully, careful observance of human and civil rights for all.
To sum up, Hizbollah's achievement may indicate that the days of the US empire in the Middle East are numbered and nearly over. However in history "nearly" can take years.
These can be dangerous years in which we who live in this area - especially the Palestinians - are going to undergo tough times."
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
|Early in the morning of April 9, 1948, commandos of the Irgun (headed by Menachem Begin) and the Stern Gang attacked Deir Yassin, a village with about 750 Palestinian residents. The village lay outside of the area to be assigned by the United Nations to the Jewish State; it had a peaceful reputation. But it was located on high ground in the corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Deir Yassin was slated for occupation under Plan Dalet and the mainstream Jewish defense force, the Haganah, authorized the irregular terrorist forces of the Irgun and the Stern Gang to perform the takeover.|
In all over 100 men, women, and children were systematically murdered. Fifty-three orphaned children were literally dumped along the wall of the Old City, where they were found by Miss Hind Husseini and brought behind the American Colony Hotel to her home, which was to become the Dar El-Tifl El-Arabi orphanage.
Evaluation of the July 2006 War by an Israeli war correspondent.
“The balance sheet of the second Lebanon War certainly does not point to an IDF victory. Even in points, it’s closer to a loss than to an achievement, when taking into account the home front’s extended suffering.”
“However, what happened to us is very similar to the defeat suffered by the American military in Vietnam and Iraq, and to the one suffered by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and the Russians in Chechnya.”
“I covered some of those wars. I saw from up close how guerilla fighters overcame the most powerful, modern armies in the world because they knew how to fully utilize their intimate familiarity with the war zone and the local population’s support.” Continue to read here.
Palestinian Prime Minister endorses two-day weekend: For the first time in the history of Palestine, a 40-hour work-week with a two-day weekend has been declared by the Hamas-led Palestinian government. The declaration comes in the midst of negotiations for a Palestinian national unity government, and a major financial crisis due to the suspension of international aid money to Palestine.
17 Palestinians killed, 61 injured and 99 arrested in the last week: The Palestinian National Information Center – State Information Service, released a report on Wednesday on the Israeli violations and attacks against the Palestinians during the period between August 15 and August 21. The report revealed that Israeli troops killed 17 Palestinians, injured 61, and arrested 99 in one week.
Israeli Army Goes From House to House in Hebron, Harasses Palestinian Households: Today in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron, the Israeli army went from house to house and forcibly entered every Palestinian home in the neighbourhood. It is likely that this was in response to settler pressure as they were organising a “tour of Hebron” for today, according to the website of the Hebron settlers. All checkpoints in the area remain closed.
Fourth National Child Conference starts in Bethlehem: Defense For Children International, (DCI) Palestine Branch, announced the opening of the four National Child conference in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. The conference will focus on “Child Neglect, Exploitation, and Abuse” and will involve one hundred boys and girls from all over the West Bank, in addition to Occupied Syrian Golan Heights, Nazareth and Jerusalem.
The occupier defines justice: The Palestinian detainees are led to a military court: The same military establishment that occupies and destroys and suppresses the civilian population is the one that determines that to resist occupation - even by popular demonstrations and waving flags, not only by killing and bearing arms - is a crime. It is the one to prosecute, and it is the one to judge. Its judges are loyal to the interest of defending the occupier and the settler.
PLC head charged by Israeli court: An Israeli court charged on Wednesday the head of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Dr. Aziz Dweik, with membership and and activity in “an outlawed organization”, referring to the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas.
Palestinian Companies Forced to Buy Israeli Products: In the past year, the price to import and process shipments has drastically risen, although it is only recently that companies in Nablus have been affected. One particular order got stuck in Israeli customs for more than 2 months and the company was forced to pay an additional import fee of 25,000 NIS (about $5,000 dollars) to access the order.
Crisis could bring Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu into coalition picture: Sources close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said yesterday the coalition crisis would leave Olmert no choice but to invite Yisrael Beitenu to join the coalition. Yisrael Beitenu chairman MK Avigdor Lieberman said the only way he would join the coalition would be if his party replaced Labor.
Hamas forms team to discuss forming coalition government: Also on Sunday, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) urged a rapid formation of a coalition government to be able to respond to the current Palestinian situation. "The present situation requires speeding up the formation of a coalition government, otherwise, burdens will increase,"
Israeli army arrests 11 Palestinians in W. Bank: Witnesses said that the troops stormed Ramallah city and arrested two members of the governing Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and two others from President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party.
US campaigns put administration and Apartheid Israel on trial: On August 30th the International Campaign to demand accountability for US/Israeli war crimes is to hold a tribunal outside the United Nations building in New York. Witnesses to Occupation war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza will be speaking and campaigners, including former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, will be presenting a body of evidence.
Dead Sea project may start soon, says World Bank: A study of a $2-$4 billion project to top up the shrinking Dead Sea with water from the Red Sea could start in the coming months, a World Bank official said yesterday. France, the United States, the Netherlands and Japan have signaled their willingness to help fund a $15 million feasibility study of how to reverse a 25 meter (82 feet) fall in the level of the Dead Sea in the past century.
Descent Into Moral Barbarism - By Noman Finkelstein :As Israel's military bravely fires away shells and missiles to lay waste the fragile human and physical infrastructure of Lebanon, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, waging battle on a second front to legitimize Israel's criminal aggression, bravely fires away op-eds from his foxhole at Martha's Vineyard to lay waste the fragile infrastructure of international law. These are but the latest salvoes in Dershowitz's long and distinguished career of apologetics on behalf of his Holy State.