Saturday, September 9, 2006


Children receive bread and soup, donated by the Palestinian 'Waqf' or religious affairs ministry, at a kitchen in the old town of the West Bank city of Hebron September 8, 2006. (REUTERS)

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the Islamic group Hamas, center, waves as he is surrounded by supporters after speaking at a mosque during Friday prayers in the Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Friday Sept. 8, 2006.(AP Photo)



“What did the shops ever do to them?”

This morning between 2 and 4 o’clock Israeli military forces entered Balata Refugee Camp, south-east of Nablus city center. Soldiers traveling in two armoured bulldozers and four military jeeps proceeded to partially destroy of ten shops in the marketplace on the main street of the camp. The bulldozers pulled down whole shop awnings, crushed tiles and cement curbs lining the street, ripped a street sign from the ground, down a wall, cut an electric cable running overhead and destroyed an large arrangement of grape-vines outside a family home.

A local butcher expressed his frustration at the wanton destruction, “They do this because they know that we are all too poor to afford to rebuild our shops. The occupation is strangling our economy”. Pointing at the wrenched-up tiles of the shop porch and the ripped bits of metal sticking out above our heads in place of the bright red and white shop-front that usually greets customers, he continued: “It will take $1,000 just to repair the awning and another $500 for the porch. And I know that many other shop owners have worse damage. But there is no point in repairing any of it because we know that as soon as we fix it, they will come. They will come the next day!”

Despite this, the marketplace was this morning full of men clambering up ladders to tear down the old wrecked shop-fronts and take measurements for new ones. A team of electricians were busy replacing the cut cable and the rubble from the wreckage was neatly piled up at the sides of the street. “What did the shops ever do to them?” one of the workers exclaimed. “They are terrorists? No, this is the terror of the Israeli army.”

This sort of incursion is a regular occurrence in the refugee camps around Nablus, especially Balata. Occupation soldiers invade the camps nightly, though the use of armoured bulldozers is less common. On a ‘normal’ night, soldiers enter the camp around 2am and shoot at residents, occasionally arresting young men or invading and occupying homes. Last night’s incursion and destruction is yet another attack by the Israeli military on the impoverished residents of Palestine’s refugee camps.

Forced Migration Review 26: Palestinian displacement:

The September 2006 issue of the in-house magazine of the University of
Oxford’s _Refugee Studies Centre _ ( includes a major
feature on Palestinian displacement. Twenty-eight articles by UN, Palestinian
and international human rights organisations, Palestinian scholars in the
diaspora and Jewish and Israeli activist groups examine the root causes of the
displacement of Palestinians, the consequences of the failure to apply
international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Palestinian
entitlement to protection and compensation. Full texts of all articles are
_online_ ( . Hard copies are being printed.

The articles discuss how failure to address the Palestinian refugee crisis
represents perhaps the gravest shortcoming of the UN since its foundation.
The international community has not exerted sufficient political will to
advance durable solutions consistent with international law and Security Council
resolutions requiring Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territory it occupied
in 1967. Durable solutions for displaced Palestinians have been discussed
without reference to the legal norms applied in other refugee cases. Refugee
rights, entitlements to compensation or restitution and the rights to
protection of those Palestinians living under continued military occupation were not
central to the now-moribund Oslo peace process – nor are they part of the
subsequent US-sponsored ‘Performance-
Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State
Solution’. Creeping annexation continues unchecked. Upon completion of Israel’s
Wall, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be restricted to a
series of non-contiguous enclaves which constitute an eighth of the area of
historic Palestine. Despite pro-democracy rhetoric, Western response to the
internationally-validated Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006 has
sparked a politically-induced crisis and crippled the Palestinian economy.
Ordinary Palestinians are suffering as donors freeze funding required to maintain
humanitarian assistance and development programmes.
This issue is being published in English, Arabic, Hebrew, French and

Lebanon: civilians pay the price
by Thomas C Archer

Who are Palestinian refugees?
by Terry M Rempel

Stateless Palestinians
by Abbas Shiblak

UNRWA: assisting Palestine refugees in a challenging environment
by Greta Gunnarsdóttir

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon
by Sherif Elsayed-Ali

No freedom, no future: undocumented Palestinian refugees in Lebanon
by Cynthia Petrigh

Immobile Palestinians: ongoing plight of Gazans in Jordan
by Oroub el Abed

Is Gaza still occupied territory?
by Iain Scobbie

Can Palestinian refugees in Iraq find protection?
by Gabriela Wengert and Michelle Alfaro

Territorial fragmentation of the West Bank
by David Shearer

Identity and movement control in the OPT
by Jennifer Loewenstein

‘Quiet transfer’ in East Jerusalem nears completion
by Elodie Guego

The message of the bulldozers
by Jeff Halper

Just a wall?
by Tim Morris

Wall mitigation efforts: legal and practical tensions
by Chareen Stark

Emergency assistance for farmers affected by the Wall
by Saed Essawi and Emily Ardell

Impressions from a visit to Palestine
by Julian Gore-Booth

Democratic choice punished
by Ibrahim Hewitt

Can the IDP label be used in Israel/Palestine?
by Dina Abou Samra and Greta Zeender

The Bedouin of the Negev: a forgotten minority
by Kathrin Koeller

Breaking the cycle of violence
by Lucy Nusseibeh

Civil society responds to protection gap
by Vivienne Jackson

European aid to vulnerable Palestinians
by Daniela Cavini

Reparations for Palestinian refugees
by Lena El-Malak

The politics of Palestinian refugee participation
by Juliette Abu-Iyun and Nora Lester Murad

Negotiating checkpoints in Palestine
by Sheerin Al Araj

Policing thought on Palestine

What future for young Palestinians in Jordan?
by Jason Hart


War-Mongering America Terrorizes the World

By Howard Zinn

(Howard Zinn is a professor emeritus at Boston University and the author of the forthcoming book, "A Power Governments Cannot Suppress")

"There is something important to be learned from the recent experience of the United States and Israel in the Middle East: that massive military attacks, inevitably indiscriminate, are not only morally reprehensible, but useless in achieving the stated aims of those who carry them out.

The United States, in three years of war, which began with shock-and- awe bombardment and goes on with day-to-day violence and chaos, has been an utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. The Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon has not brought security to Israel; indeed it has increased the number of its enemies, whether in Hezbollah or Hamas or among Arabs who belong to neither of those groups.

I remember John Hersey's novel, "The War Lover," in which a macho American pilot, who loves to drop bombs on people and also to boast about his sexual conquests, turns out to be impotent. President Bush, strutting in his flight jacket on an aircraft carrier and announcing victory in Iraq, has turned out to be much like the Hersey character, his words equally boastful, his military machine impotent."


On the occasion of the arrival of the Blair Circus in the Middle East, I am reposting this commentary which I wrote on August 20:

By Tony Sayegh

Like clock work, every time there is a war in the Middle East, the circus known as the "peace process" is dusted off and with its clowns it heads to various capitals in the region to peddle the illusion that this time Usrael and Britain are really serious about starting the "process." The impotent Arab foreign ministers have met, again, and they are doing the preparatory work for the circus to begin. The same ministers who declared just about a month ago in Cairo that the peace process was dead, are now ready to resurrect it from the dead! The mighty Arab puppets, trying to cover up their shameful and pathetic behavior while Hizbullah was making history, by re-launching a "peace initiative" in the UN. Don't laugh now; these Arab leaders mean business this time, and if the UN does not respond positively, the Lebanese PM will burst into tears!

Chief Clown Blair has sent his adviser, Lord Levy, to the M.E. to prepare for the arrival of the Chief Clown himself next week. He is expected to visit the major puppets in the area: Egypt, Jordan, S.A., and the P.A. in addition to Israel, of course.

Having failed militarily against Hizbullah, the Anglo-Usraeli axis is shifting gears. The main objective is to lure Syria away from Iran to accomplish three objectives: complete an anti-Iran Arab alliance under the Usraeli umbrella in preparation for an attack on Iran, cut off arm supplies to Hizbullah and end any support of the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The carrot being dangled in front of Syria is the start of the "peace process" negotiations about the future of the occupied Golan Heights. The process will involve neutralizing Syria, demilitarizing it and taking it outside of the confrontation with Israel in return for some arrangement for a demilitarized Golan.

As for the Palestinians, the chief stooge Abbas is ready to execute his role as a junior clown. He, having failed to get rid of Hamas, is calling for a national unity "government" and another one-sided truce where the Palestinians agree not to fight back while Israel continues with the assassinations, demolitions and arrests. Chief Clown Blair will be calling for restarting the "Road Map" discussions and he will be asking Israel to make some minor concessions in order to help Abbas. Things such as opening the border crossings to Gaza and easing the financial noose imposed on the Palestinians.

The key question is whether Syria will fall for such a trap and end its strategic alliance with Iran. It is not beyond the Syrian regime to take such bait, and one will have to wait and see. Early indications are that Syria will resist the temptation, especially since the credibility of any promises made by Bush and Blair is very low now. Similar promises were made before to the Palestinians which were not kept. The last one was made by Blair just before the invasion of Iraq, when the "Road Map" was launched and Bush promised a Palestinian state by 2005. It was perhaps telling that Syria did not attend the latest Foreign Ministers conference in Cairo.

The Occupation of Iraqi Hearts and Minds

By Nir Rosen

Editor’s note: Truthdig contributor Nir Rosen, an American reporter who has lived for the last three years in Iraq and who can pass as Middle Eastern, describes what it’s like to live under the boot of a culturally callous—and sometimes criminal—occupying force in Iraq. “The occupation has been one vast extended crime against the Iraqi people, and most of it has occurred unnoticed by the American people and the media.”

"In reality both Abu Ghraib and Haditha were merely more extreme versions of the day-to-day workings of the American occupation in Iraq, and what makes them unique is not so much how bad they were, or how embarrassing, but the fact that they made their way to the media and were publicized despite attempts to cover them up. Focusing on Abu Ghraib and Haditha distracts us from the daily, little Abu Ghraibs and small-scale Hadithas that have made up the occupation. The occupation has been one vast extended crime against the Iraqi people, and most of it has occurred unnoticed by the American people and the media.

Americans, led to believe that their soldiers and Marines would be welcomed as liberators by the Iraqi people, have no idea what the occupation is really like from the perspective of Iraqis who endure it. Although I am American, born and raised in New York City, I came closer to experiencing what it might feel like to be Iraqi than many of my colleagues. I often say that the secret to my success in Iraq as a journalist is my melanin advantage. I inherited my Iranian father’s Middle Eastern features, which allowed me to go unnoticed in Iraq, blend into crowds, march in demonstrations, sit in mosques, walk through Falluja’s worst neighborhoods. I also benefited from being able to speak Arabic—in particular its Iraqi dialect, which I hastily learned in Baghdad upon my arrival and continued to develop throughout my time in Iraq.

My skin color and language skills allowed me to relate to the American occupier in a different way, for he looked at me as if I were just another haji, the “gook” of the war in Iraq. I first realized my advantage in April 2003, when I was sitting with a group of American soldiers and another soldier walked up and wondered what this haji (me) had done to get arrested by them. Later that summer I walked in the direction of an American tank and heard one soldier say about me, “That’s the biggest fuckin’ Iraqi (pronounced eye-raki) I ever saw.” A soldier by the gun said, “I don’t care how big he is, if he doesn’t stop movin’ I’m gonna shoot him.”

I was lucky enough to have an American passport in my pocket, which I promptly took out and waved, shouting: “Don’t shoot! I’m an American!” It was my first encounter with hostile American checkpoints but hardly my last, and I grew to fear the unpredictable American military, which could kill me for looking like an Iraqi male of fighting age. Countless Iraqis were not lucky enough to speak American English or carry a U.S. passport, and often entire families were killed in their cars when they approached American checkpoints."
A long article but well worth reading.

Israel’s Barrier to Peace

By Chris Hedges

Editor’s note: In this Dig, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times and author of the bestseller “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” examines the way Israel’s security wall has ripped a mortal gash in the lives of Palestinians living in its shadow, and argues that there can be no hope for peace in the Middle East as long as America continues to aid Israel in its dehumanizing practices.

"But this branding of these militants as something less than human, as something that reasonable people cannot hope to understand, is possible only because we have ignored and disregarded the decades of repression, the crushing weight of occupation, the abject humiliation and violence, unleashed on Lebanese and Palestinians by Israel because of our silence and indifference. It is the Israeli penchant for violence and occupation that slowly created and formed these frightening groups.

The failure by the outside world to react to the years of brutal repression, the refusal by the United States to intercede on behalf of the occupied Lebanese and Palestinians, gradually formed and galvanized the radicals who now occupy the stage with Israel, answering death for death, atrocity for atrocity.

Those inside these zones of occupation pleaded over the years for help. We refused to listen. And once they burst through these barriers, enraged, bloodied, bent on revenge, we recoiled in horror, unable to see our complicity. We asked them to be quiet, to be reasonable, to calm down, and when they did not, their blood heated by years of abuse and neglect, we condemned them to their fate.

We watch the woman. She is keening slightly. People are being destroyed by the serpent’s teeth of the wall, springing up from the soil of the West Bank like the evil warriors sown by Cadmus. This for me is the story, not the amount of concrete or coils of razor wire or razed olive groves and villages, but what all this is doing to human souls."

A long article, but well worth reading by one of my favorite writers, Chris Hedges.

Bibi's Rolling Armaggedon Sideshow

By Kurt Nimmo

"Somebody, please, grab Binyamin Netanyahu from his “American tour,” put him on a plane—or a slow boat—and send him back to Israel before he blows up the world.

“Benjamin Netanyahu … told an audience in New York yesterday that President Bush is preparing to ditch the United Nations to take on Iran alone and that American politicians of all parties would do well to stop squabbling about Iraq and join the president in focusing on threat from Tehran,” reports the New York Sun, a neocon infested newspaper propped up by the likes of Bruce Kovner, a billionaire financier who also apparently showers money on the American Enterprise Institute, a criminal organization where Bush gets his “minds,” that is to say the same folks who at one time “advised” Bibi to trash the Oslo Accords and go after Iraq and Syria.

In other words, Bibi knows better what Americans should focus upon—taking out Israel’s declared enemy, an enemy that poses absolutely no threat to America. “Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 — it’s the threat against Israel,” declared Philip Zelikow, executive director of Bush’s whitewash and progenitor of Brothers Grimm scary stories. “And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell.”"

Friday, September 8, 2006

A policy of punishment

Ismail Haniyeh
Palestinian PM
Saturday September 9, 2006
The Guardian

"Despite the historic responsibility of successive British governments for what has befallen our people, from the Balfour declaration to the catastrophe of dispossession, Palestinians had hoped that the new generation of British politicians might break with the past and stand for truth and justice in the Middle East.

Regrettably, however, the last decade has witnessed the most unfair and one-sided British policy towards the region since the creation of the state of Israel in our homeland close to 60 years ago. The problem has been the unquestioning attachment of Tony Blair's government to the Clinton and then Bush administrations, which have seen the Middle East through Israeli eyes only.

Despite Israeli war crimes against our people and assassinations of our leaders, the Palestinians introduced to the region one of the most transparent democratic experiences ever. The response of the British government has been to back the US and Israel in imposing boycotts and sanctions, in a blatant act of collective punishment. Since the legislative elections in January 2006, the Palestinian people have endured an effective state of siege and economic and diplomatic boycotts, and the Israeli military machine has been given free rein. During July and August, Israeli occupation troops killed 251 Palestinians, about half of them civilians - without a word of criticism from the British government.

The arrest of these ministers and MPs - five ministers, 33 MPs, including my deputy and the speaker of the legislative council - is a violation of the most fundamental principles of democracy, but this appears to be immaterial to Mr Blair. For him, three captured Israeli soldiers are far more important than 10,000 Palestinian detainees.

We receive signals here that the British public is unhappy about what Blair's government has been doing to our people. We know for sure that the majority of the British people did not approve of the invasion of Iraq. We greatly commend them for such a stance and thank them for sympathising with us in our plight. It is only through justice that peace will prevail in our region and Muslims, Christians and Jews once again live in harmony."

The bigger Palestinian picture

By Lamis Andoni
Al-Ahram Weekly

"Prime Minister Haniyeh's accusations that the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Committee is conspiring against Hamas hold a lot of truth. Although united by different motivations, the PLO Executive Committee has joined Fatah's Central Committee in openly exploiting present Palestinian economic hardships to undermine the Hamas government.

"Some Fatah leaders and influential Palestinian Authority (PA) personalities want Hamas to declare defeat. There is no real interest in a partnership, but in a triumphant return", says one PLO official in touch with both parties. In the words of another PLO official, Fatah cannot fathom the fact that it is no longer the ruling party while Hamas is mainly concerned about the "success of Islamic rule".

But if Fatah, which still cannot take full responsibility for its defeat in last January's elections, has found an opportunity in outing Hamas, or at least subjugating it, the Islamist movement has the responsibility of making tough choices. What has transpired is that no Palestinian government can opt for both assuming power under the obligations of agreements with Israel and challenging the system that such agreements have brought into being. Late president Yasser Arafat was ostracised, besieged and driven to his death by challenging the system -- in spite of all of his political compromises.

Hamas is already discovering the limitations set on any Palestinian government set up within a system already confined by signed agreements with Israel. Popular elections notwithstanding, Hamas has found itself in a system totally dependent on Israel and international funding. The Oslo Accords may be buried under the rubble of demolished Palestinian homes, but its chains have survived, nurtured by Israel, Arab and Western governments.

It is no secret that some senior PLO emissaries have spared no time promising European leaders that they would save the Oslo induced "process" and subjugate Hamas. But even if a national unity government relatively acceptable to the world, and which could ease the siege on the Palestinians, were formed, Palestinians would still be faced with the challenge of finding a strategy that gets them out of a perpetual siege of agreements that undermine the core of Palestinian self-determination and their struggle for freedom."

U.S. Politicians Should Focus On Tehran, Netanyahu Says

September 8, 2006

"NEW YORK - Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of an American tour repositioning himself for a return to the Israeli premiership, told an audience in New York yesterday that President Bush is preparing to ditch the United Nations to take on Iran alone and that American politicians of all parties would do well to stop squabbling about Iraq and join the president in focusing on threat from Tehran.

The former prime minister, who leads the right of center Likud Party in opposition to the current government, went on to tell lunch guests of the Hudson Institute that another war between Hezbollah and Israel is inevitable and that a shift in Israeli politics is about to take place with his return to power and a return to the principles that guided thinking in Jerusalem until the Oslo Accords.

Israel's one-time ambassador to the United Nations urged Americans of all political persuasions to "not get caught up" arguing about Iraq. Mr. Netanyahu dismissed the argument that fears of Iranian plans for WMD might be false in the way that predictions on Iraq have come under question. Mr. Netanyahu said Israel had told America that claims about Iraq's weapons were based on "conjecture," while with Iran "we're not guessing. We know."

Mr. Netanyahu told the gathering at the Four Seasons that Prime Minister Olmert's Kadima party was built on the policy of unilateral withdrawals – a premise that is now dead. And so, went his implication, is the party and Mr. Olmert's premiership. The policy of unilateral withdrawals started with the Oslo Accords. He spoke of how, from Israel's founding until then, Israel's military and her relations with her Arab neighbors had been based on Vladimir Jabotinsky's concept of the "Iron Wall."

This was a reference to a phrase used by the right of center Zionist, who held that only when the Arabs became convinced that they couldn't destroy Israel – with every attack on Israel met by an "iron wall" – would peace follow. If Israel's deterrence and response to attack was so strong the Arab's found themselves banging themselves against an "Iron Wall," they'd realize the futility of trying to destroy Israel and seek peace. The "Iron Wall" principle, said Mr. Netanyahu, led to peace with Egypt and Jordan. They attacked Israel, were soundly defeated, and sued for peace."


(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Canadian Media calls for Nuking Iran

by Michel Chossudovsky

"A major Canadian newspaper is calling for outright nuclear attacks on Iran.The Toronto Sun article proposes the use of tactical nuclear weapons or so-called mini-nukes with an explosive capacity between one third to six times a Hiroshima bomb .

The article goes beyond the usual pattern of media disinformation, which presents Iran is a threat to global security, calling for punitive bombings pursuant to a Security Council Resolution.

While the proposal to nuke Iran may appear outrageous, it nonetheless reflects US foreign policy. It is consistent with US military doctrine and ongoing war plans which contemplate the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran.

The nuking of Iran is viewed as a "humanitarian operation" intent upon liberating Iran from oppression.

The objective is to build a consensus that mini nukes are actually safe for civilians and you can use them against rogue states.

According to the Pentagon, tactical nuclear weapons "are safe for the surrounding civilian population." The use of nuclear weapons against Iran is part of a broad "humanitarian mandate" which seeks to prevent Iran from threatening the World with its own nukes, which it does not possess."

Lessons from Lebanon: Rethinking national liberation movements


By Hamid Dabashi
Al-Ahram Weekly

"ON THE EVIDENCE of the facts on the ground, the death and destruction and the rubble and ruin that this wild European beast has left behind in Lebanon, it is quite evident that the purpose of this latest criminal atrocity was to destroy the very possibility of any kind of cosmopolitan culture in Lebanon. The failed launch of "Israel" as a mini empire, modeling itself clumsily on the pattern of the neocon artist in Washington DC (as AIPAC tries to prove to Washington that it can be useful in Bush's war on "terrorism"), has an evident agenda far beyond Palestine and Lebanon--and the fact that it has miserably failed to achieve it must not blind us to the projected agenda that this mutated stage of Zionism is projecting. The mutation of the Zionist settlement into a mini-empire wannabe means that all the positive and hopeful developments in both Palestine and Lebanon, that both Hamas and Hizbullah were now part and parcel of a more embracing political process, were in fact inimical to the Israeli imperial aping of the US in the region. In that respect, all the hogwash of European and American so-called liberals that the Israeli response to Hizbullah was "disproportionate" is sheer nonsense. Israeli's war crimes in Lebanon were perfectly proportionate to what it wanted to do--to bomb Lebanon back to sectarian warfare, to reduce the cosmopolitan character of Lebanon to Muslims and Christians fighting against each other in order to make the Jewish state look normal and at home in the neighbourhood. That Israel miserably failed to achieve that malicious objective speaks volumes both to the medieval tribalism that is at the heart of the Jewish state and the cosmopolitan character of the Lebanese national resistance.

Too much emphasis on Hizbullah, Hamas, and the Mahdi's Army as three political organizations confuses a subaltern political reality (the poor and the disenfranchised in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq) with its accidental organizational manifestation. Israel can kill Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon and Khaled Mashaal in Palestine, as the US might Muqtada Sadr in Iraq, tomorrow (if they only could) and ten more Nasrallahs and Mashaals and Muqtada Sadrs will emerge from the Dahiya neighbourhood in Beirut and from Gaza in Palestine and from Najaf in Iraq. Hizbullah and Hamas and Mahdi's Army are three accidental expressions of three essential and deeply rooted political and demographic realities. The poor of the southern Lebanon (who happen to be Shias) have historically been denied their fair share in Lebanese politics; as have the poor and the disenfranchised among the Palestinians (who happen to be Muslims), and the poor and the disenfranchised among the Iraqis (who too happen to be Shias). Hizbullah, Hamas, and Mahdi's Army are not manufactured banalities and militant adventurers like al-Qaeda, created and crafted by the US-Pakistan-Saudi alliance to fight the Russians and prevent the spread of the Iranian Islamic revolution eastward. Hizbullah, Hamas, and Mahdi's Army are grassroots movements--the shame of the national liberation movements in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq that had historically failed to include the most disenfranchised subaltern communities in their emancipatory projects."

'Quiet transfer' in East Jerusalem nears completion

by Elodie Guego
Forced Migration Review

(Elodie Guego, a lawyer specialised in human rights law, worked as a volunteer in the OPT in 2005 and is currently Assistant Country Analyst at the Norwegian Refugee Council's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Geneva)

"Israel is close to implementing a long-term plan to transform the demographic structure of annexed East Jerusalem. Policies to revoke the residency permits of Palestinian Jerusalemites and to Judaise the city have been described as ethnic cleansing.

The construction of the Wall along and inside Jerusalem's municipal borders will definitively prevent the return of Palestinians expelled from Jerusalem by land confiscations, house demolitions or pressure from extremist settlers' groups. They will lose their rights to permanent residency in Jerusalem under the 'centre of life' policy and will no longer be able to enter the city without special permits. The properties that they have abandoned in Jerusalem risk being seized under Israeli's Absentee Property Law.

This eight-metre high Wall has given Israel a pretext to achieve long-established goals under the guise of security. Jerusalem is at the heart of all the antagonisms in the Middle East. International silence and failure to speak out against Israeli's transfer strategy is likely to have irreversible consequences and destroy regional prospects for peace. The transfer of Palestinians will soon be an undisputed reality but should not remain 'quiet'."

Turkey's high-stakes march into Lebanon

Asia Times

"It is therefore not in the least bit surprising that the decision by the Turkish government to depute troops to Lebanon - duly endorsed by the Turkish parliament in a majority vote on Tuesday - has virtually split the country's polity into two distinct worlds.

The 340-192 vote in parliament authorizing the government to deploy a naval force for one year to patrol the waters off Lebanon, and possibly Turkish ground troops of an unspecified number, might appear deceptively simple. Actually, the topic proved to be highly divisive, with significant sections of public opinion, the country's president and all political parties other than the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) vehemently opposing the move. Dissident opinion is apparently sizable even within the AKP.

The Islamist and nationalist camps argue that the Turkish contingent in Lebanon might come to be viewed as an occupation force, which would work against "Islamic solidarity" and hurt Turkey's long-term interests. The nationalists abhor the very idea of Turkey getting entangled in any manner in the Israeli-Arab conflict. They argue that Turkey ought to concentrate attention on the pressing challenge to national security posed by Kurdish separatism.

"Leave aside Palestine; the primary interest is in Mount Kandil and Kirkuk," said top nationalist leader and former deputy prime minister Devlet Bahceli, in reference to Kurdish militant strongholds in Turkey and Iraq, respectively.

There is widespread concern that the United Nations stabilization force will be called on incrementally to serve US-Israeli interests and will prove incapable of protecting the Lebanese people from future Israeli aggression. Overarching all this is the pervasive skepticism about Turkey identifying with the United States' controversial "New Middle East" project."

How hi-tech Hezbollah called the shots

Asia Times

"Hezbollah's ability to repel the Israel Defense Forces during the recent conflict was largely due to its use of intelligence techniques gleaned from allies Iran and Syria that allowed it to monitor encoded Israeli communications relating to battlefield actions, according to Israeli officials, whose claims have been independently corroborated by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

"Israeli EW [electronic warfare] systems were unable to jam the systems at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, they proved unable to jam Hezbollah's command and control links from Lebanon to Iranian facilities in Syria, they blocked the Barak ship anti-missile systems, and they hacked into Israeli operations communications in the field," Richard Sale, the longtime intelligence editor for United Press International, who was alerted to this intelligence failure by current and former CIA officials, told Asia Times Online.

"It goes to the heart of one of the factors ... routinely regarded as one of the clear advantages for all First World versus Third World nations or forces - electronic warfare and secure communications," said Gary Sick, who was national security adviser under US president Jimmy Carter. "We are supposed to be able to read and interfere with their communications, not vice versa. A lot of calculations are based on that premise.""

The ability to hack into Israel's military communications gave Hezbollah a decisive battlefield advantage, aside from allowing it to dominate the media war by repeatedly intercepting reports of the casualties it had inflicted and announcing them through its television station, Al-Manar.

Why we're in Afghanistan and why we're there forever

Accessing 11 to 12 TRILLION dollars
in Caspian Sea Basic Oil and Gas

Click to see Video;Investment Banker Karl Schwartz lays it out

1. The Caspian Sea Basin (Kazakstan, Turkmenistan etc.) holds between 11 and 12 TRILLION dollars in oil and gas resources
2. There are only three ways to get it out:
- East to China
- West through Iran, Russia, and Turkey to Europe
- South through Afghanistan and Pakistan
3. The Taliban who controlled Afghanistan before 9/11 made pipeline deals with non-US companies and refused to change them to give control of the region's resources to the US


"Afghanistan is especially important to Washington because it is the only plausible way to bring natural gas down from Turkmenistan to Pakistan and India. The Turkmenistan alternative is being used to push Delhi away from any flirtation with an Iranian pipeline.

As Afghanistan falls again into substantial chaos, India is being forced to reconsider, and to seek to draw on Iran's Yadavan fields, with a pipeline coming down through Pakistani Baluchistan and over to the Indian border.

The turn for the worst in Afghanistan may explain the sudden warming of relations between Delhi and Tehran. Indian PM Manmohan Singh called up Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and stressed the need to fast track the pipeline project, which had seemed dead earlier this summer. (Last spring the pro-Iranian minister of petroleum had been fired, and some assumed it had been in part as a result of American pressure).

By deserting Afghanistan to run off to war in Iraq, Bush ensured that it would risk falling again into social turbulence, and thus helped seal the fate of the Turkmenistan pipeline through Herat (wouldn't the Taliban just blow it up?)

In turn, that may have ensured that Iran would be able to sidestep US sanctions by dealing, not only with China, but also with India.

And that may mean that Bush let the big fish get away by getting bogged down in Iraq, which is turning out not to be any prize for him, either."

KABUL, Afghanistan - The driver of a car packed with explosives rammed into a U.S. military convoy in downtown Kabul on Friday, killing himself and at least 16 other people, including at least two American soldiers. Two other American soldiers were among 29 people wounded. Here, a US soldier is pulling the body of a dead US soldier.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

'Gaza is a jail. Nobody is allowed to leave. We are all starving now'

By Patrick Cockburn in Gaza
The Independent

"Gaza is dying. The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the edge of starvation. Here on the shores of the Mediterranean a great tragedy is taking place that is being ignored because the world's attention has been diverted by wars in Lebanon and Iraq.

A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most heavily populated area in the world. Israel has stopped all trade. It has even forbidden fishermen to go far from the shore so they wade into the surf to try vainly to catch fish with hand-thrown nets.

Gaza has essentially been reoccupied since Israeli troops and tanks come and go at will. In the northern district of Shajhayeh they took over several houses last week and stayed five days. By the time they withdrew, 22 Palestinians had been killed, three houses were destroyed and groves of olive, citrus and almond trees had been bulldozed.

The few ways that Gazans had of making money have disappeared. Dr Abu-Ramadan says the Israelis "have destroyed 70 per cent of our orange groves in order to create security zones." Carnations and strawberries, two of Gaza's main exports, were thrown away or left to rot. An Israeli air strike destroyed the electric power station so 55 per cent of power was lost. Electricity supply is now becoming almost as intermittent as in Baghdad.

The Israeli siege and the European boycott are a collective punishment of everybody in Gaza. The gunmen are unlikely to be deterred."


U.S. forces in Iraq number 145,000


"WASHINGTON - The number of U.S. troops in Iraq rose to 145,000 this week, the highest since December and 15,000 more than a month ago."


It is highly unlikely that the aim of a US ground invasion of Iran is to capture the entire country, in a manner similar to the invasion of Iraq. Iran is much larger, with three times the population of Iraq and the US doesn't have enough troops on the ground. However, it is highly likely that the US (with British help) will aim to capture Khuzestan, right across the border from Iraq. That is where Iranian oil in concentrated. The aim would be for a quick operation to capture the oil installations and refineries in as intact condition as possible. This is probably doable. With the loss of the oil revenue, and with air strikes, it would be a matter of time before the Iranian government falls. That is the theory, anyway.

This also explains the closing down of the British military base recently and the relocation of British soldiers to the Iranian border. It is to be noted that British forces in Iraq are also being increased.

If we were to take Blair seriously, that he would leave office in a year, then the invasion of Iran will take place within this window.


It is true that in the short term, a foreign attack on Iran would unify the country. We can look at Lebanon as an example. However, that unity begins to collapse, as time goes on and an economic siege is imposed. We have three examples: Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. In the early stages of each attack, each presented a united front. But look at Iraq now; it is being fragmented along sectarian and ethnic lines. The same could easily happen in Lebanon; the bickering and narrow self-interest are in full view already. Look at the Palestinians, while Israel is still bombing and killing on a daily basis, Fatah is implementing Usraeli plans to topple the government by all means possible, including strikes, armed confrontations, etc.

If we extrapolate to Iran, the same can easily develop there; Iran is just as vulnerable to ethnic and sectarian divisions. I am not saying that the US will succeed, but experience shows that the neocons do not learn from their failures, or if they learn they learn the wrong lesson, which is to apply even more force in the next adventure (mini nukes?).

خالد مشعل:المقاومة صارت بديلاً متكاملاً وإسرائيل لن تعيش كثيراً


ليس أفضل من الفلسطينيين من يفهم حقيقة ما حصل في لبنان خلال شهر ونيّف. وليس أكثر من الفلسطينيين من سيحصد النتائج البعيدة المدى للانتصار الذي حققته المقاومة في لبنان. وليس أكثر من الفلسطينيين من يقدر على استثمار هذا الإنجاز في المكان الصحيح، حيث بقية المعركة المفتوحة ضد إسرائيل.

Palestinian elite tells British PM Blair not to visit territories

"RAMALLAH - Hundreds of Palestinians including politicians and intellectuals on Thursday called on British Prime Minister Tony Blair not to visit Palestinian areas, accusing him of excessive support for Israel.

"He is coming here in order to wash his hands, that are dripping with Lebanese blood, with Palestinian water," the group of Palestinians wrote in an ad placed in the al-Ayyam newspaper.

"We, the signatories... notables, intellectuals and political figures declare that Tony Blair is persona non-grata in our country."

The British prime minister came under fire at home during Israel's 34-day war with Hezbollah for lining up with the United States in refusing to back Lebanon's demands for an immediate truce.

The notice said Palestinian leaders should cancel Blair's trip. It was signed by members of smaller parties, university professors, activists from non-governmental organizations and hundreds of ordinary Palestinians.

The signatories did not include any politicians from Abbas' Fatah group or the governing militant Hamas movement."
I find it interesting and a bit cowardly that Hamas did not support this statement and position.

Palestinian Donors: What Mission?

By Nicola Nasser

"The Palestinians have been too grateful and too helpless for too long to be critical of the political agenda of their donors who have practically nailed them down as political hostages to the donors’ money, which was promised initially to help build an independent Palestinian state, but ended as a political instrument effectively used by the Israeli occupying power.

The internal political crisis is only a result of the deeper economic and humanitarian crisis, which is crushing the Palestinian people to the brink of a “social revolt,” especially in the “ticking time bomb” of Gaza Strip, (1) and the donors-sustained Palestinian Authority (PA) to the brink of collapse since the donors tightened the Israeli military siege by imposing a suffocating financial blockade early in the year.

The donors’ money continued to flow nonetheless with or without awareness that thereafter their aid had shifted to serve a completely different and contradictory political Israeli agenda and became an instrument of Israel’s foreign policy and thus became part of the problem and not of the solution, without alleviating the Palestinian economic plight.

Donors have turned to finance either the Palestinian submission, compliance, passivity or collaboration and collusion vis-à-vis the Israeli U.S.-backed unilateral plans, with a questionable indifference to the death of the peace process and the reoccupation of the PA autonomy, while showing an astonishing exemplary tolerance towards Israel’s destruction of the state-building infrastructures financed mainly by money paid by European and American taxpayers.

A show case of how donors squander their taxpayers’ money was their financing the Palestinian presidential and legislative elections with more than $250 million, which they strictly monitored, only to immediately refuse the outcome and give ammunition to Palestinian accusations that their democratic rhetoric was a sham.

At least this is how the donors’ role has become to be perceived, not by a minority but by the mainstream Palestinian, as was proved both by the landslide victory of the Hamas-led opposition in the January 25 legislative elections and by the failure of the “Oslo camp” to avert that victory in spite of the billions of dollars channelled to it by the donors."

The new Iraqi flag as desired by Barzani
(Iraqi Cartoon, published by Assafir, 9/7/06)


The Kurdish warlords (and that is what they are) have not served the Kurdish people well. They have allied themselves with different countries at different times and switched alliances so many times, it is hard to keep track of. They were allies even with the Shah and with Saddam!

The picture that emerges is of very narrow-minded and shortsighted leadership that looks only for personal gain. As a result, everyone ends up using the Kurds and making promises to them that they can't keep. The Americans and Israelis will be no different; they will use the Kurds and then dump them.

It would be a lot wiser, instead of taking advantage of the agony of Iraq and splitting the country, to live together with the Arabs of Iraq under a more enlightened leadership (from both sides) that cherishes ethnic diversity and richness of cultures. The Kurds will still have to live with the Arabs long after the Americans and Israelis are gone.

One last thought: How is an independent state of Kurdistan going to survive (after the Americans are gone), completely surrounded on all sides by hostile states? It has no outlets! How can you get in and out if they all blockade such a state?


An interesting article in Arabic by a Kurdish writer:

البارزاني يستر فشله القومي بالعلم العراقي
"وفشلت القومية الكردية في تحقيق أدنى حد من الصلاح الإداري، فالمنطقة تفوح منها رائحة الفساد الإداري من المحسوبية الحزبية والقبلية والرشوة وتجارة المخدرات والعمالة السرية والعلنية لهذه الجهة أو لتلك!

والمنطقة مفتوحة لكل من هب و دب من إسرائيلي إلى أميركي محتل وغير محتل، إلى مخابرات دول الإقليم إلى تجار الجنس والمخدرات.. وفوق ذلك تأتي بين تصريحات لا مسؤولة عن فتح قنصلية لإسرائيل في أربيل! واليوم نسمع إنزال العلم العراقي في كردستان! ليزيد من مشاعر العداء للأكراد ويزيد من عزلتهم عراقيا وعربيا وإسلاميا!

How Human Rights Watch Lost Its Way in Lebanon

The Israel Lobby Works Its Magic, Again


"The measure of a human rights organisation is to be found not just in the strides it takes to seek justice for the oppressed and victimised but also in the compromises it makes to keep itself out of trouble. Because of the business that human rights defenders are in, they must be held to a standard higher than we demand of others.

Unfortunately, one of the best -- Human Rights Watch -- has failed that test during the war in Lebanon this summer.

To its credit, HRW has risked much opprobrium for taking Israel to task for systematically breaking international law during its assault on Lebanon. That has culminated in a predictable campaign of harassment by pro-Israel organisations in the US -- as well as by the usual suspects like Alan Dershowitz -- that have accused its researchers of libelling Israel and being anti-Semitic.

Name-calling, however distasteful, cannot justify HRW distorting its findings to placate the Israel lobby. But that seems to be just what is happening.

At least it is now possible, because some army positions were temporary, to reveal that many communities in the north had artillery batteries stationed next to them firing into Lebanon and that from Haifa Bay warships continually launched warheads at Lebanon. That information is now publicly available in Israel, and other examples are regularly coming to light.

Arab member of Knesset Abbas Zakour has also gone publicly on the record: "During a short visit to offer condolences to the families of victims killed in Hizbullah's rocket attacks, I saw Israeli tanks shelling Lebanon from the two towns of Arab Al-Aramisha and Tarshiha."

Aside from the fact that this effective use of Israeli civilians as human shields by the army outdoes any "cowardly blending" (in the words of Jan Egeland of the United Nations) by Hizbullah in Lebanon, it also makes any attempt at second-guessing the targets of the Shiite militia's rockets futile.

This sophistry is fooling no one, least of all, of course, Israel's apologists. They will keep up their relentless defamation of an organisation like Human Rights Watch as long as Israel comes under its scrutiny. By trying to appease them, our human rights champions damage only themselves and those they should be seeking to protect."

Pakistan: Hello al-Qaeda, goodbye America

By Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times

"MIRANSHAH, North Waziristan - With a truce between the Pakistani Taliban and Islamabad now in place, the Pakistani government is in effect reverting to its pre-September 11, 2001, position in which it closed its eyes to militant groups allied with al-Qaeda and clearly sided with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

While the truce has generated much attention, a more significant development is an underhand deal between pro-al-Qaeda elements and Pakistan in which key al-Qaeda figures will either not be arrested or those already in custody will be set free. This has the potential to sour Islamabad's relations with Washington beyond the point of no return.

An article by retired US Major Ralph Peters titled "Blood borders" published in the Armed Forces Journal last month has given Pakistan some food for thought over manipulating the geopolitical game on its own terms and conditions.

Peters, formerly assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, where he was responsible for future warfare, argues that borders in the Middle East and Africa are "the most arbitrary and distorted" in the world and need restructuring.

Four countries - Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - are singled out for major readjustments. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are also defined as "unnatural states".

Across Pakistan's border in Afghanistan, the Taliban have control of most of the southwest of the country, from where Mullah Omar is expected soon to announce the revival of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan - the name of the country before the Taliban were driven out in 2001. Once the proclamation is made, a big push toward the capital Kabul will begin.

The sounds of jail doors opening in Pakistan will jar with the United States, as will Islamabad adopting a more independent foreign policy and, crucially, aligning itself with the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, which once again could become a Pakistani playground."

'Taliban taking over'

By Sanjay Suri
Asia Times

"LONDON - The Taliban have regained control over the southern half of Afghanistan and their front line is advancing daily, a group closely monitoring the Afghan situation said in a report this week.

The report on the reconstruction of Afghanistan marking the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US is based on extensive field research in the critical provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Herat and Nangarhar.

"The Taliban front line now cuts halfway through the country, encompassing all of the southern provinces," says a report by the Senlis Council, an international policy think-tank with offices in Kabul, London, Paris and Brussels.

"The subsequent rising levels of extreme poverty have created increasing support for the Taliban, who have responded to the needs of the local population," the report says.

The poppy-eradication program has been a disaster, he said. "It is a direct attack on the livelihood of the farmers, so there is a clear connection between the eradication and this humanitarian crisis. All this is being used by the Taliban to say ... 'When we were there we were maybe hard and cruel, but you could feed the family; now look what's going on.' They are more and more providing support [and] social services to the local population.""

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Pawns of the War Party


By Justin Raimondo
I'm talkin' 'bout the Kurds

"One of the most interesting, and little-talked about, consequences of the Iraq war has been the extension of Israeli influence – and aid, including military aid – to Kurdistan. Seymour Hersh reported on this, and Le Figaro detailed the developing American-Israeli rift over the issue, with Washington increasingly nervous over the growing Israeli presence and what it portends for the region. The Turkish military, formerly best buddies with the IDF, are furious at what they consider to be a stab in the back by their sometime allies, and relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv have subsequently soured.

Israel's interest is in establishing a base that borders Iran, from which to monitor developments in country and build an enclave from which to launch armed attacks. Pejak is the ideal instrument with which to accomplish this, and if Washington isn't directly funding or otherwise aiding the Iranian Kurdish guerrilla group, then the Israelis surely haven't neglected such an opportunity.

The Israelis are eager to use the Kurds as a tripwire for war, not only with Iran but with Syria, where restive Kurds have recently begun to rise against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. If the Israeli strategy is to spark a regional war that will rearrange the map of the Middle East and oust their enemies from Beirut to Tehran, then the Kurds are the perfect fuse. If you look at the claimed area of Kurdish predominance – "Greater Kurdistan" – it runs through Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and as far north as Armenia. Kurdistan, in short, is ideally located as a base from which to launch a campaign to destabilize Israel's enemies and effect "regime change" throughout the Middle East.

As American foreign policy increasingly aligns itself with Israel's, and the two allies settle their sights on Iran, Kurdistan takes on added importance. The price the Kurds are demanding for their cooperation – de facto independence – is one the U.S. may well be willing to pay if it means having an advantage in their coming showdown with Iran."

The Next Phase of the Middle East War

by Michel Chossudovsky

September 4, 2006

"Israel's war on Lebanon is an integral part of a US sponsored "military roadmap".

The war on Lebanon, which has resulted in countless atrocities including the destruction of the nation's economy and civilian infrastructure, is "a stage" in a sequence of carefully planned military operations.

In the aftermath of the Israeli bombings and the "ceasefire", UN Security Council Resolution 1701, drafted by France and the US in close consultation with the Israeli government, has paved the way for the militarization of Lebanon, under a bogus UN mandate.

Confirmed by official statements and military documents, the US in close coordination with Britain (and in consultation with its NATO partners), is planning to launch a war directed against Iran and Syria.

US military sources have confirmed that an aerial attack, pursuant to a sanctions regime on Iran, with or without UN approval, would involve a large scale deployment comparable to the US "shock and awe" bombing raids on Iraq in March 2003.

While the threat of punitive aerial bombardments of Iran's nuclear facilities have been announced repeatedly by the Bush administration, recent developments suggest that an all out ground war is also under preparation."
Steven Rix: What do you think of this report?

These five Canadians were loaded in Kandahar Airport for the last trip home on Monday

Palestinians gather around the burning wreckage of a car destroyed in an apparent Israeli airstrike in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2006.Three Palestinians were killed and 12 wounded.(AP Photo)

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheik Ikrima Sabri (L), the top Palestinian Muslim Cleric, shakes hands with Atallah Hanna, spokesman of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, during a news conference in East Jerusalem September 6, 2006, where they called for an end to Israeli arrests of Hamas leaders. (REUTERS)

Ioustinos Mamalos, the head of the monastery at Jacob's Well, walks on the grounds of the monastery in the West Bank city of Nablus September 6, 2006. The monastery at Jacob's Well, on the edge of the Palestinian city of Nablus, stands on the site where the Bible says Christ stopped on his way through Samaria two thousand years ago and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. (REUTERS)

A Palestinian boy runs on the grounds of the monastery at Jacob's Well in the West Bank city of Nablus September 6, 2006. The monastery at Jacob's Well, on the edge of the Palestinian city of Nablus, stands on the site where the Bible says Christ stopped on his way through Samaria two thousand years ago and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. (REUTERS)

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, foreground, speaks with Palestinian legislators during a visit to the Palestinian Legislative Council building in the West Bank town of Ramallah in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Wednesday Sept. 6, 2006. Adams arrived for a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian areas, but Israeli officials will shun Adams during his first trip to the Holy Land because of plans to meet with members of the Hamas militant group, a government spokesman said Tuesday. (AP Photo)

Palestinian children hold a huge Palestinian flag during a demonstration calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners, held in Israeli jails, in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2006. (AP Photo)

Atallah Hanna, the spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, speaks during a news conference in East Jerusalem September 6, 2006, where he called for an end to Israeli arrests of Hamas leaders. (REUTERS)

Palestinians in Gaza largely cut off from outside world

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

"RAFAH, 6 Sep 2006 (IRIN) - Israel’s continued closure of the Gaza Strip’s only international border crossing is isolating Gaza’s 1.4 million residents.

As Gaza’s only international border crossing, Rafah is the only route for ordinary Palestinians to cross from Gaza to Egypt to go back to their jobs and universities across the world - and to get back in to see their families.

All other crossings into Israel have been closed since the start of a second intifada in 2000. Meaning ‘uprising’ in Arabic, an intifada is a campaign directed at ending Israeli military occupation.

Many stuck in Gaza face losing their jobs if they cannot travel when they planned to. Palestinians unable to cross into Egypt risk losing money spent on airline tickets from Cairo to countries in the Gulf and elsewhere.

When the border last opened on August 25 and 26, priority was given to sick and vulnerable people, many of whom were travelling to Egypt for medical treatment.

Only a few thousand Palestinians got through, though – alerted by television news and mobile phone messages from friends - masses rushed towards it.

"It was insanely crowded – about 10,000 people. Many people jumped up onto the roofs of buses arriving at the border, and a lot fell off again."

Iraqi Necklaces Protest Disintegration of Iraq


"Bored with the Hitler comparisons, Bush’s speechwriters have moved on to new and equally absurd rhetorical territory. “George Bush has given another warning on the dangers of terrorism, in which he compares Osama bin Laden to Hitler and Lenin,” reports ITV News, and none too soon, as the mid-term elections are right around the corner.

Osama and Vladimir Lenin are ideological opposites, but never mind—the American public is not paying attention."

وقائع «بهدلة» معلنة


جوزف سماحة

"إننا، نحن العرب، متّجهون نحو «بهدلة» سيسببها لنا حكامنا ومسؤولونا. نقترب منها بخطى حثيثة. لن تمضي أسابيع إلا ويكون المحظور قد وقع. لن نستطيع فعل شيء لتجنب هذه الكأس المرّة. وقائع هذه «البهدلة» معلنة.

قال أنان أمس في مقابلة مع الزميلة «الحياة» إن «الجامعة العربية لديها اقتراح لمجلس الأمن للنظر في عملية السلام وقد أرادوا أن يكون الاجتماع خلال هذا الشهر وأنا خارج نيويورك ولستُ متأكداً مما قرره رئيس مجلس الأمن وإذا كان سيتم هذا الشهر أم لا. وإذا تأجّل فإنه يمكن عقد اجتماع وزاري أثناء عقد الجمعية العمومية». أما لماذا الاجتماع فلأنه، حسب أنان، «من أجل إعطاء أمل للناس»!
هكذا إذاً، باتت وظيفة «النظام العربي الرسمي» إطلاق الأفكار من أجل «إعطاء الأمل».
لم يعد ممكناً سحب المذكرة. ستقع الواقعة. «البهدلة» حاصلة لا محالة. كنا في غنى عنها. لم يكن ضرورياً أن ننتقل من مراسم دفن عملية التسوية مباشرة نحو «مبادرة الأمل» التعيسة هذه.

The People's Struggle in the Middle East: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud

By Joshua Frank
Guerrilla News Network

Ramzy Baroud is a US author and journalist, currently based in London. He is the author of The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, 2006). He is also the Editor-in-Chief of Here Baroud talks with Joshua Frank about the latest crisis in the Middle East and how it threatens the US and Israel’s international prowess.

"The tide quickly turned when Hizbollah exhibited steadfastness never displayed by entire Arab armies of well-armed legions with extensive political and material support. Every Arab I know watched in disbelief as events folded in Lebanon. The best they’ve hoped for is nominal resilience from Hizbollah, enough to thwart Israel’s overall objectives. A few went as far as predicting an Israeli defeat. Needless to say, Hizbollah’s victory has managed to help most Arabs and Muslims rise above their religious and sectarian divides, and has helped the group re-establish itself as a formidable political power and a military force not to be reckoned with.

That said, it’s important not to underestimate Arab factionalism, but especially Lebanese factionalism and its feasible role in helping Israel and the US achieve what they’ve failed to achieve through war.

In Lebanon, a redoubtable elite, representing various sects is greatly alarmed that the balance of power -- struck in Lebanon through years of civil wars and subsequent treaties (fair to some, utterly unfair to others) -- might be hindered with the re-rise of Hizbollah.

At one point, it was hoped that by removing the Syrian factor from the Lebanese equation, and weakening Hizbollah militarily, a pro-American Lebanon would effortlessly emerge: the old neoconservative calculation. That is yet to happen. However, Saad Hariri, son of former prime minister Rafik Hariri’ condemnation of Syria, calling it a greater threat to Lebanon than Israel, just a day after the end of the Israeli onslaught, speaks volumes regarding the nationalistic priorities of this crowd."

Chaos as a Strategy in Gaza

By Ramzy Baroud

"Israel, on one hand, desperately tried to link its fight against Palestinians — which evolved into a war against Palestinian democracy following the January 2006 legislative elections — with America’s “war on terror”. Palestinian factions, wary of the dangerous Israeli scheme, seemed least interested in any involvement with Al-Qaeda and its criminal affiliations. Desperate, yet canny Israeli attempts, reported sporadically in world media, failed miserably.

The Israeli redeployment around Gaza, ending on Sept. 12, 2005, was hardly the end of Israeli interests in the impoverished Gaza Strip. It left behind a legion of self-seeking, dare I say a pro-Israeli crowd, incessant in its attempts to redeem the many privileges it had lost since the restructuring of the political landscape introduced with the democratic toppling of Fatah in the recent Palestinian elections. While many Palestinians wish not to admit the size and significance of such a group, all signs point to their unmatched influence, and ability to wreak havoc within Palestinian society, permeate chaos, and impede genuine attempts of Hamas and a less corrupt Fatah faction to achieve a national unity government.

Regardless of who is exactly behind the journalists’ kidnapping in Gaza, this episode highlights the volatility of a situation when an elected government is being forced to operate underground (with many of its members already in Israeli jails), leaving the matter of security to be handled by the same dysfunctional and power hungry Fatah faction that caused most of the chaos and insecurity in Gaza.

Is it a surprise that the Fatah security forces always fail to carry out even one arrest once the release of foreign hostages is secured, perhaps with the hope that the kidnappers will strike once more whenever such distractions are convenient for both Israel and its beneficiaries?

The mockery is most disturbing."

Gerry Adams: Law limiting family reunification is a 'terrible thing'

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams on Wednesday slammed Israeli legislation that makes it difficult for Palestinians married to Israeli Arabs to gain legal status in Israel as a "terrible thing."

Speaking during a meeting with the deputy Knesset speaker, MK Ahmed Tibi, at his East Jerusalem hotel, Adams also called criticized the law that restricts Palestinian appeals for compensation for damage resulting from military operations. Continued

Jewish settlers in the West Bank predict a rosy future

By Michael Blum

Agence France Presse
6 September 2006

MAALEH REHAVAM, West Bank, Sept 6 2006-- Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank are looking to the future with renewed optimism, now that "realignment" --withdrawal -- is no longer the priority it once was for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government.

"I think we'll be here for a long time. There's no longer any reason to pull us out," one of the founders of the Maaleh Rehavam settlement near Bethlehem, Drori Bar Levav, told AFP.

He was speaking Tuesday, a day after Olmert was quoted by a Knesset official as telling the parliamentary defense and foreign affairs committee: "At this moment the question of realignment is not on our priority list the way it was two months ago."

"Olmert understands that the Israelis will not accept the expulsion of people from their homes for no valid reason, following the failure of the Gaza pull-out and the consequences of the war in Lebanon," the 30-year-old Bar Levav told AFP.

Established in 2001 on the outskirts of Noqdim, part of the Gush Etzion group of settlements, Maaleh Rehavam has never received the green light from the Israeli authorities.

Just 29 people live in the rogue settlement which the government has promised to dismantle under the roadmap drafted by the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations outlining steps toward establishing a viable Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel.

Olmert's Kadima party narrowly won parliamentary elections in March with the aim of withdrawing from large swathes of the occupied West Bank -- but also effectively annexing
the largest Jewish settlements to Israel, with or without Palestinian agreement.

His realignment plan envisaged dismantling isolated settlements, evacuating some 70,000 settlers and regrouping them.

In March last year, Talia Sasson, a lawyer in the state prosecutor's office, produced a report on illegal Jewish outposts in the West Bank at the behest of then prime minister Ariel Sharon.

Her report recommended evacuating dozens of illegal settlements, but this never happened.

On July 10, a jurist at the justice ministry, Malkiel Blass, suggested legalising most of the unauthorised settlements -- prompting a sharp response from Sasson.

If Blass's recommendation were adopted, the government would be "violating Israeli law and the pledge made to the American administration to dismantle illegal settlements created after March 2001", she wrote in a letter published by the Haaretz daily newspaper.

For Emilie Amroussi, spokeswoman for Yesha, the organisation representing Israeli settlers in the West Bank, "the recommendations to legalise the outposts and Olmert's declaration are encouraging".

"But we're not claiming victory yet," she added quickly. "Olmert has not given up on these projects. He has merely deferred them for political reasons."

Drori Bar Levav is more upbeat, however, believing that he will now be able to stay at Maaleh Rehavam.

"My grandchildren will eat fruit from the trees that I plant," he said, pointing proudly at the vines and olive trees growing around the simple caravan in which he lives.

At the regional council of Gush Etzion, which comprises more than 20 settlements -- Maaleh Rehavam among them -- his optimism is not shared, however.

"Despite what Olmert says, I am not reassured about the future of the outposts and settlements," council president Saul Goldstein told AFP. "The threat of evacuation may
have lessened somewhat, but all that could change very quickly."

Calling himself a realist, Goldstein believes that only the formation of a government of national unity that includes the far right will remove the threat to dismantle unauthorised settlements and prevent Ehud Olmert's realignment plan from eventually going ahead.

Bush Turns to Fear-Mongering

Creation of "Islamic" Bogeyman

"This isn't a coherent enemy, it is a laundry list of places Bush would like to control because they have oil or gas, or are key to its development, or have other strategic benefits for the US and/or its regional allies, especially Israel.

So Bush tried to unify the Bogeyman by condemning radical Sunni Islam and then equally condemning radical Shiite Islam.

Shiite Islamism in Iraq is good, the same thing in southern Lebanon is bad.

And this is the reason for which he needs to keep 140,000 troops in Iraq, to stop the Muslim fundamentalists from taking it over. But of course, the Da'wa Party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Sadr movement have *already* taken it over.

So there are good Muslim fundamentalist movements and bad ones. What seems to distinguish them is whether they are eager to do business with Houston or whether they badmouth Bush.

If you want to know what is really going on, it is a struggle for control of the Strategic Ellipse, which just happens demographically to be mostly Muslim. Bush has to demonize the Muslim world in order to justify his swooping down on the Strategic Ellipse. If demons occupy it, obviously they have to be cleared out in favor of Christian fundamentalists or at least Texas oilmen."

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Blair's legacy is a reckless adventure that's wreaked havoc the world over

Jonathan Freedland in Washington
Wednesday September 6, 2006
The Guardian

"That was the new doctrine: unilateralism, pre-emption and coercive democratisation. And what has been the fate of this new faith? Judged from any and every point of view, it has proved the most spectacular failure.

Genuinely spreading democracy is a noble goal, but Bush could not face the logic of his own position. Not only would it have meant allowing people to vote for parties the US does not like, it would also have seen them rid themselves of regimes the US has long backed. Rhetorically Bush swore he was ready for that, but his continued support for the dictatorships in Pakistan and Egypt, and his closeness to the House of Saud, show it was just talk. Moreover, if the peoples of the Muslim and Arab world were really allowed their say, one of their prime demands would be an end to US and western meddling in their affairs. But that would be a democratisation too far for Washington.

Accordingly, the Bushies are trying to soften their approach, resorting to diplomacy and alliances in dealing with Iran, for example. But that's chiefly because Iraq has deprived them of military options. "There's a change of course, but not a change of heart," one senate Democrat told me.

Either way, it's too late for Tony Blair. He signed up for the Bush project, even though it was doomed. His aides speak of legacy, but this is his legacy - to have glued himself to a reckless venture which has wreaked havoc the world over. Destroying the Blair premiership is the very least of it."

Meanwhile in Iraq

Iraq: At least 25 killed as U.S. occupation continues: Police said they found the bodies of seven people in Baghdad with gunshot wounds to the head, five of them in the mainly Sunni area of Adhamiya, where insurgents are active.

U.S. occupation forces kill 5: U.S. troops killed five men in a ground assault and air strike on what they called a "safe house", targeting a person involved in moving money and foreign fighters into Iraq. A child was also killed in the fighting in Muqdadiya, northeast of Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement

3 U.S. occupation troops killed in Iraq fighting: The deaths brought to eight the number of American troops killed in Iraq in combat-related violence over the past two days.

Iraq to extend state of emergency: The measure has been in place for almost two years and grants security forces greater powers. It affects the entire country apart from the autonomous Kurdish region in the north.

Dahr Jamail : U.S. Losing Control Fast: The U.S. military has lost control over the volatile al-Anbar province, Iraqi police and residents say. The area to the west of Baghdad includes Fallujah, Ramadi and other towns that have seen the worst of military occupation, and the strongest resistance.

Iraqi parliament mulls federal break up: Abbas al-Bayati, spokesman for the largest Shia bloc, the United Iraqi Alliance, predicted: "In the next few sessions the parliament will discuss the law for the formation of provinces."

Shiite Revival or Majority Resistance?: The Sunni-Shiite divide is a deplorable ploy that was implemented by the West to create a diversionary tactic. Regrettably, the people of Iraq have fallen prey to it, for violence begets violence.

Patrick Seale: Four American allies in deep trouble: In Islamabad, Kabul, Baghdad and Jerusalem, four heads of government are facing grave, possibly terminal, difficulties -- largely because of their alliance with the United States.

Documentary Slams U.S. Companies Working in Iraq: He's tackled Wal-Mart and Fox News with his scathing documentaries. Now, filmmaker Robert Greenwald is releasing a documentary which argues that private companies helping to fight the war in Iraq don't have the nation's best interests in mind.

Truth in a Time of War with Howard Zinn : Video: Zinn's talk explores the notion of "just" wars with his usual candor and critical understanding.