Saturday, October 14, 2006

America courts 'thug' to stand up to Hamas

Portrait of a Palestinian thug loved by the U.S.


"To his enemies he is ruthless and corrupt. But to his allies in the West, Mohammed Dahlan is a potential Palestinian saviour to stand up to the radical Islamic group Hamas.

Secular and tough – some say brutal – Mr Dahlan, a member of the Fatah party, is being courted by American diplomats anxious to counter Hamas's rising influence in the occupied territories.

Last week, as the worst inter-factional infighting in 10 years fuelled fears of a Palestinian civil war, US officials described him as a man who could "get things done" in a violent climate.

In less diplomatic terms, that means having the clout, if needed, to summon armed Palestinians into battle with Hamas, which Washington regards as a terrorist group. "He can be viewed as a thug," said one official, "but he is one of the very few people who has authority and can impose some order on the ground who is not from Hamas."

Officials are increasingly reluctant to apply that "can-do" description to Fatah's moderate Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, 71. While outwardly backing him, they privately condemn Mr Abbas as hesitant and timid in taking on Hamas since the Islamic movement came to power in last January's democratic elections.

Sitting in his plush, heavily guarded office in Gaza, Mr Dahlan is openly contemptuous of Hamas's ideological rule. "They thought that running a government was like running a charity," said Mr Dahlan, who ran Palestinian security services in Gaza under Yasser Arafat until 2002. "But we need health care, education, roads, salaries. We don't need speeches and sermons at the mosque on Friday."

The main proposal to re-start international funding, on which the crippled Palestinian economy depends, had been to form a national unity government. But talks between Fatah and Hamas look hopelessly deadlocked.

American officials say they have few options to stop the carnage. Covertly, they are grooming a handful of potential successors to Mr Abbas, including Mr Dahlan.

As security chief he arrested thousands of Hamas members. Some were allegedly tortured while many are said to have had their beards - signs of their religious devotion - forcibly shaved off.

"Dahlan is a gangster. He tortured us and abused us," Islam Shahwan, a spokesman for Hamas's militia, said."

Up to 1.6 million Iraqis have fled the country

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The United Nations estimates that up to 1.6 million Iraqis have left their homes for other countries in "a steady, silent exodus" as a result of the war and sectarian violence, forcing the U.N. refugee agency to announce a shift in priorities.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said it plans to focus on the deteriorating humanitarian situation facing people who are fleeing, as opposed to those returning home.

"The enormous scale of the needs, the ongoing violence and the difficulties in reaching the displaced make it a problem that is practically beyond the capacity of humanitarian agencies, including UNHCR," it said.

The 2006 budget of $29 million for its Iraq operation was still $9 million short, the agency said, adding that more funding is needed to address the refugee crisis.

At least 40,000 Iraqis a month were arriving in Syria, according to U.N. staffers monitoring the border. Refugees have also fled to Iran, and "tens of thousands" are headed to Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, the Gulf states and Europe," the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said.

The agency estimated there are half a million Iraqis already in Jordan and 450,000 in Syria, adding that while some have been outside Iraq for a decade or more, arrivals have steadily risen since the war began in 2003.

Within Iraq itself, the Iraqi government and UNHCR estimate "more than 1.5 million people displaced ... including more than 365,000 newly displaced who have fled their homes and communities" since February.

That was when the Askariya mosque, a Shiite shrine in Samarra, was bombed, igniting Shiite-Sunni fighting.

Some of Iraq's 18 provinces have seen a tenfold increase in the number of internally displaced people since the beginning of the year, UNHCR said.

The UNHCR office appealed to neighboring countries "to continue extending hospitality" for Iraqis and for countries beyond the region to do the same.

Iraqis ranked first, with more than 8,100 applications, among some 40 nationalities seeking asylum in Europe in the first half of this year, the agency said.

Iraqi asylum claims went up 50 percent during the first of this year from the same period a year ago, according to statistics received from 36 industrialized countries, the agency said.

So with the 1.6 externally displaced and the 1.5 internally displaced, that's 3.1 million refugees, 12% of the population--Molly

Truthdiggers of the Week: The Lancet Study Researchers

"This week Truthdig celebrates the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad and the Center for International Studies at MIT as well as The Lancet for their commitment to documenting the real number of Iraqi deaths that have resulted from the 2003 U.S. military invasion of Iraq.

The study, which was reviewed by four independent experts, estimates that over 655,000 Iraqis have been killed since the start of the war. According to the Christian Science Monitor, “One of the reviewing experts noted the ‘powerful strength’ of the research methods, ‘which involved house-to-house surveys by teams of doctors across Iraq.’ ”

There is no discrediting of this methodology. I don't think there's anyone who's been involved in mortality research who thinks there's a better way to do it in unsecured areas. I have never heard of any argument in this field that says there's a better way to do it."

Richard Garfield, a public health professor at Columbia University who works closely with a number of the authors of the report says that the most striking result of the survey, to him, is its finding that 2.5 percent of Iraq's population has died as a result of the war. "You can compare that to the civil war, our bloodiest war, in which 1.4 percent of our people died and look at what that meant to the US. Like then, what these numbers are saying is that every family is being touched.

25 Iraqi Police officers murdered daily

CHICAGO: Violence in Iraq forces the interior ministry to budget a loss of 25 police officers each day to death or permanent injury, a US security advisor said.

"We budgeted for 10 Iraqi policemen killed every day and 15 wounded in action to the point where they had to be retired from action" in 2006, Gerald Burke, National Security Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior said.

Burke described the appalling conditions facing police whom he helped train, to a meeting of the Democratic Policy Committee, which includes Democratic legislators.

He blamed much of the current bloodshed on the US government's "failure to recognize the importance of security in the immediate post-conflict environment, in particular our failure to support the rule of law."

An army veteran with more than 25 years' experience in law enforcement, Burke was one of six specialists sent to Iraq in May 2003 by the US Department of Justice to conduct an assessment of the Iraqi criminal justice system.

Meshaal Says not to recognize Israel

Politburo leader of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) Khaled Meshaal has said that his group would not recognize Israel, the independent Syria-News website reported on Friday.

"Hamas will not surrender ... will not recognize Israel and will not abandon armed resistance," Meshaal was quoted as saying Thursday evening in Damascus, where he lives in exile.

He said Hamas wants to join a national unity government and share power with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement.

"Hamas does not want to be in power alone," he, adding that "a national unity government should take orders from the Palestinians, not from America or Israel."

Meanwhile, Meshaal said Hamas was ready to release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in return for Palestinian prisoners " if there is a swap deal."

Talks over forming a Palestinian coalition government aimed at lifting an international boycott on the Hamas-led government have stalled as the group has repeatedly refused to recognize Israel.

Haniyeh says no to Israel recognition

GAZA CITY (AP)--Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh Friday said the Hamas militant group will never recognize Israel's right to exist, rejecting a key demand of the international community and signaling further deadlock in efforts to forge a Palestinian coalition government.

Haniyeh's declaration was likely to increase tensions with President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been urging Hamas to recognize Israel as a way to ending Western sanctions against the Palestinians. Hamas has refused, and talks over forming a power-sharing government with Abbas' Fatah movement have stalled over the issue.

"Israel might have secured the recognition of some of our people, and some in the Arab world and in the international community. It is now seeking another recognition, Islamic recognition, " Haniyeh said in a sermon after Friday prayers in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis. "I say we will not give it this card."

Hamas will not recognize Israel "no matter for how long," he said, adding that the group will not give up its armed struggle against the Jewish state. " Resistance is a legitimate right...We will not give up our right to defend ourselves."

How to Critique Israel Injustices

A Fable About Palestine

(Jean Bricmont teaches physics in Belgium. He is a member of the Brussells Tribunal. His new book, Humanitarian Imperialism, will be published by Monthly Review Press)

"Let's start with a story. Imagine that Africa has become rich and powerful, and that Euroope has become poor, divided and without real independence. Imagine next that, tired of being repeatedly massacred, the Tutsis decide to found a national home elsewhere. Certain of their leaders designate Wallonia, in Belgium, as that new home. Other Africans, to solve what some call the "Tutsi problem", approve of the project. Thus a flood of Tutsis pack up, weapons and all, and begin to settle in that region, while proclaiming that the people already living there have to go somewhere else. With their wealth, their determination and their weapons, the Tutsis rapidly manage to take possession of the farms, forests and towns and chase away most of the natives, either by legal means or by intimidation. A large part of Wallonia becomes a new Tutsi State, which boasts of being particularly well governed and democratic. All of Africa looks on in admiration.

However, to the surprise of the Africans, most of the Walloons are against that arrangement. Bewildered, sometimes supported by other Europeans who are nevertheless divided and whose leaders are weak and indecisive, they engage in several last ditch fights which only allow the Tutsi State to expand. The Africans can't understand why the Belgians and other Europeans are unable to appreciate the superiority of the system introduced onto their continent by the Tutsis. While Tutsis from all over the world are invited to come and settle, it is explained to the inhabitants who are being pushed out that there are other French-speaking States where they can go. All those who, in Europe or elsewhere, denounce that situation risk being called "anti-Tutsi" racists. When, parked on various scraps of ex-Wallonia, completely surrounded by the Tutsi army, a certain number of natives throw themselves into violent and desperate acts, commentators vie with each other to come up with theories on the peculiarities of Walloon culture that push them to such fanaticism.

The aim of this fable is not at all to compare or to pretend to establish any equivalence between two tragic histories, that of the Jews or that of the Tutsis, but solely to illustrate the fact that the attitude of the Arabs toward Israel is not necessarily due to a strange and violent culture or religion, but is no different from the attitude anyone might have if put in a situation similar to theirs . It is above all the situation that is strange. Recognizing it doesn't mean that one can or should undo what has been done in the past . But if one wants to arrive at a genuine peace, not only between Arabs and Israelis, but also between the West and the Arab-Muslim world, then one must begin by understanding why the others see the world as they do, and by honestly distinguishing the aggressor from the aggressed."

American Prison Camps Are on the Way

Kellogg Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, is constructing a huge facility at an undisclosed location to hold tens of thousands of Bush's "unlawful enemy combatants." Americans are certain to be among them.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 governing the treatment of detainees is the culmination of relentless fear-mongering by the Bush administration since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Because the bill was adopted with lightning speed, barely anyone noticed that it empowers Bush to declare not just aliens, but also U.S. citizens, "unlawful enemy combatants."

Bush & Co. has portrayed the bill as a tough way to deal with aliens to protect us against terrorism. Frightened they might lose their majority in Congress in the November elections, the Republicans rammed the bill through Congress with little substantive debate.

Anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on Bush's list of "terrorist" organizations, or who speaks out against the government's policies could be declared an "unlawful enemy combatant" and imprisoned indefinitely. That includes American citizens.

The bill also strips habeas corpus rights from detained aliens who have been declared enemy combatants. Congress has the constitutional power to suspend habeas corpus only in times of rebellion or invasion. The habeas-stripping provision in the new bill is unconstitutional and the Supreme Court will likely say so when the issue comes before it.

Although more insidious, this law follows in the footsteps of other unnecessarily repressive legislation. In times of war and national crisis, the government has targeted immigrants and dissidents.

In 1798, the Federalist-led Congress, capitalizing on the fear of war, passed the four Alien and Sedition Acts to stifle dissent against the Federalist Party's political agenda. The Naturalization Act extended the time necessary for immigrants to reside in the U.S. because most immigrants sympathized with the Republicans.

The Alien Enemies Act provided for the arrest, detention and deportation of male citizens of any foreign nation at war with the United States. Many of the 25,000 French citizens living in the U.S. could have been expelled had France and America gone to war, but this law was never used. The Alien Friends Act authorized the deportation of any non-citizen suspected of endangering the security of the U.S. government; the law lasted only two years and no one was deported under it.

The Sedition Act provided criminal penalties for any person who wrote, printed, published, or spoke anything "false, scandalous and malicious" with the intent to hold the government in "contempt or disrepute." The Federalists argued it was necessary to suppress criticism of the government in time of war. The Republicans objected that the Sedition Act violated the First Amendment, which had become part of the Constitution seven years earlier. Employed exclusively against Republicans, theSedition Act was used to target congressmen and newspaper editors who criticized President John Adams.

Subsequent examples of laws passed and actions taken as a result of fear-mongering during periods of xenophobia are the Espionage Act of 1917, the Sedition Act of 1918, the Red Scare following World War I, the forcible internment of people of Japanese descent during World War II, and the Alien Registration Act of 1940 (the Smith Act).

During the McCarthy period of the 1950s, in an effort to eradicate the perceived threat of communism, the government engaged in widespread illegal surveillance to threaten and silence anyone who had an unorthodox political viewpoint. Many people were jailed, blacklisted and lost their jobs. Thousands of lives were shattered as the FBI engaged in "red-baiting." One month after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, United States Attorney General John Ashcroft rushed the U.S.A. Patriot Act through a timid Congress. The Patriot Act created a crime of domestic terrorism aimed at political activists who protest government policies, and set forth an ideological test for entry into the United States.

In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the legality of the internment of Japanese and Japanese-American citizens in Korematsu v. United States. Justice Robert Jackson warned in his dissent that the ruling would "lie about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need."

That day has come with the Military Commissions Act of 2006. It provides the basis for the President to round-up both aliens and U.S. citizens he determines have given material support to terrorists. Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Cheney's Halliburton, is constructing a huge facility at an undisclosed location to hold tens of thousands of undesirables.

In his 1928 dissent in Olmstead v. United States, Justice Louis Brandeis cautioned, "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding." Seventy-three years later, former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, speaking for a zealous President, warned Americans "they need to watch what they say, watch what they do."

We can expect Bush to continue to exploit 9/11 to strip us of more of our liberties. Our constitutional right to dissent is in serious jeopardy. Benjamin Franklin's prescient warning should give us pause: "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."

Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, is president-elect of the National Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists. Her new book, "Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law," will be published in 2007 by PoliPointPress.

Academic to quit post in anger over Israel

PROMINENT left-wing Israeli academic and author Tanya Reinhart plans to quit as emeritus professor at Tel Aviv University in protest against her Government's handling of the Palestinian issue.

Professor Reinhart, who will give a public lecture at the University of Melbourne tomorrow night, said Israel's walling of the large and prosperous West Bank was cutting off the Palestinian people from their lands and each other.

She said she could no longer live in Israel while it did what she said was the first attempt in history to imprison a nation with a wall that cut off villages from their farmland.

"Palestinians should not have to pay the price of the Holocaust," she said.

"It seems that it has been forgotten that this is a simple and classical conflict over Palestinian land and resources that Israel has been occupying since 1967." She said the recent attacks on Lebanon were similarly unjustified and that Israel used the capture of their soldier, Gilad Shalit, as a pretext for war with Hezbollah. But the war had been planned for some time and was based on a vision of Israel that extended into southern Lebanon.

"Lebanese know that (1948 prime minister David) Ben-Gurion's vision for the state of Israel was based on the Litani as the natural northern border of Israel," she said. "Everything they did suggested they have never given up the idea of the Litani."

She said Israeli people would never defend taking land from Lebanon but the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier was used by the Government as a failed pretext for attempting to ethnically cleanse southern Lebanon.

أبو مرزوق: إقالة الحكومة المنتخبة تعني انقلاباً سياسياً

دمشق - المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

حذّر الدكتور موسى أبو مرزوق، نائب رئيس المكتب السياسي لحركة المقاومة الإسلامية "حماس"، محمود عباس رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية من مغبة اتخاذ خطوات متسرعة، لا سيما بشأن إقالة الحكومة الفلسطينية المنتخبة من قبل الشعب قبل أشهر قليلة.

وقال الدكتور أبو مرزوق في تصريح صحفي، "يستطيع الرئيس عباس أن يقيل الحكومة، والأجهزة الأمنية بيد رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية، ولكن إن حصل ذلك فهو يعني الخروج من القانون إلى الفوضى"، محذراً من أنّ ذلك سيكون "انقلاباً سياسياً على خيار الشعب الفلسطيني، ومن يأتي لا يتمتع بأي شرعية".

وشدّد القيادي الفلسطيني على أنّ حركة "حماس" لا تستطيع، لا من ناحية الحق ولا الشرع ولا من حيث مصالح الشعب الفلسطيني الاعتراف بالكيان الصهيوني، "لأنّ ذلك هو إنهاء القضية الفلسطينية وإبقاء الشعب الفلسطيني مشرداً، وأن يعيش على جزء صغير من أرضه مجزّأة وهذا ما لا نقبل به".

وحمّل الدكتور موسى أبو مرزوق حركة "فتح" مسؤولية تدهور الأوضاع في الأراضي الفلسطينية، وقال "فتح لم تصدق أنها خرجت من الحكومة، وأنها في مقعد المعارضة أو خارج الحكم، وكل ما يحدث على الساحة الفلسطينية في الداخل هو لإعادة الأمور لما كانت عليه قبل الانتخابات".

وأضاف نائب رئيس المكتب السياسي لحركة "حماس" قوله "نحن لم نقم بانقلاب لأخذ السلطة، والصحيح هو أننا بعد هذا التفويض الشعبي لا يمكن أن نتخلى عن مسؤولياتنا، وحركة فتح تريد العودة إلى السلطة".

وأشار أبو مرزوق إلى أنّ الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية بدأت بتطوير حركة فتح وإعادة تسليحها وتقديم واشنطن "برامج تنموية" لإعادة تأهيل الحركة من أجل أن تبقى في السلطة، حتى على الصعيد الأمني هناك تدريبات عسكرية باسم حرس الرئاسة، مؤكداً أنّ هناك تمويلاً كبيراً لتدريب كوادر فتح، وبدا ذلك من خلال العصيان والإضرابات وإيجاد خلل أمني واضح في وجهة الحكومة، مشدداً على أنّ "حماس تواجه انقلاباً سياسياً على خيار الشعب الفلسطيني في الوقت الحاضر، فمن هو طالب السلطة؟".

وفيما يتعلق بالموقف العربي السياسي والعلني؛ أكد نائب رئيس المكتب السياسي لحركة "حماس"، أنّ هذا الموقف ليس كما كان سابقاً فيما يتعلق بالصراع العربي – الصهيوني، "بل أصبح ينحاز للموقف الأمريكي والصهيوني في الضغط على الشعب الفلسطيني وحصاره، وهذا الأمر يختلف من دولة إلى أخرى، وهو في العموم غير مُرض لشعبنا ولا يتوافق مع الشعارات الطويلة" التي رفعتها الأطراف العربية، مشيراً إلى أنّ دولاً عربية قليلة هي التي التزمت بتقديم مساعدات للشعب الفلسطيني.

Iraq for Sale: As Not Seen on TV

John Patterson
Friday October 6, 2006
The Guardian

Iraq for Sale
Not coming soon to a TV near you, especially if you live in the US... Iraq for Sale
Iraq for Sale, the latest documentary from Robert Greenwald, tells a depressingly familiar tale of corporate corruption and war-profiteering in Iraq. Focusing on companies like Halliburton, CACI International and Blackwater Security Consulting, it recites a litany of rapacity and exploitation that ought to have American citizens swarming Congress, demanding heads on pikes.

It's all here: Halliburton charging $45 for a six-pack of sodas; undertrained and poorly safeguarded mercenaries earning megabuck salaries that dwarf the pittances awarded to regular troops; gigantic corporate profit margins netted by shafting the recipient at both ends of the process (lousy and dangerous services for mindbendingly exorbitant fees); and an unsupervised, no-bid, payment-guaranteed contracting system that utterly contradicts any defensible notion of free-market capitalism.

Like the bibliophobic Ronald Reagan, these days we apparently can't understand anything until we see it on TV. Greenwald has answered that need for us, and Iraq for Sale proves two things: first, that the gung-ho, warmongering capitalism of Joseph Heller's Milo Minderbinder is alive and well in the war zone; and second, that it is easier for the chairmen of Blackwell and Exxon/Mobil to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a serious and necessary dissident documentary to be seen by the broad American public.

Greenwald has earned praise for establishing an alternative distribution system for his movies, which have so far covered the entire spectrum of what is wrong with 21st-century America, including Fox News, Wal-Mart, the 2000 election, Enron, and the Tom DeLay-corrupted House of Representatives. Although most of his films achieve a nominal basic release, Greenwald also pioneered "watch-and-discuss" parties that allow citizens to download the film for free and discuss it in large groups in their homes. This is an excellent way to raise consciousness and build networks of dissent, but it also falls prey to the accusation that it is preaching to the converted. I think Greenwald is a hero, but his work should be seen by the widest possible audience. It's not as if his films deal with minor social and political nuances; they address the central realities of our age.

Well, fat chance of seeing his work on US television. The world of canned news is a total shut-out for anything to the left of John McCain. The best that most left-liberal documentaries can hope for (if not made by Michael Moore) is a limited release and a showing on cable. Take James Longley's remarkable documentary about life in Iraq since April 2003, Iraq in Fragments. It won awards at Sundance but has no US distributor. Michael Winterbottom's The Road to Guantánamo had its poster censored by the MPAA and ran for about a week. Winterbottom himself was treated like a pariah on US cable news shows, with mendacious Pentagon spokesmen trotted out to defame his movie - and not face-to-face. Corporate lobbyists and spokes-hacks even show up at film festivals to denounce movies such as Fast Food America and An Inconvenient Truth. And good luck seeing The Power of Nightmares in the United States, the one country that most needs to see it.

This is all very different from the Vietnam/ Watergate era, when the US media had full access to the battle zone, when Walter Cronkite's CBS Evening News could report on near-revolutionary dissidence within the US military, without being accused of giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and when journalists relentlessly asked the necessary questions that finally felled Richard Nixon.

The rise of a bought-and-paid-for news media means that the very notion of objectively verifiable truth is now suspect, and that facts themselves are derided as inherently leftwing and unpatriotic. Fox News, the bellwether of these trends, may presently be losing viewers and credibility and slashing costs in desperation, but the truth is that it won the war against reality a long time ago in the United States - and reality may no longer be in any condition to stage a comeback.

Cartoon of the day, part itnein

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Bush Urges Nation To Be Quiet For A Minute While He Tries To Think

WASHINGTON, DC—In a nationally televised address Monday, President Bush urged all citizens, regardless of race, creed, color, or political affiliation, "to quiet down for just one minute" so he could have "a chance to think."

Enlarge ImageBush

In a televised address to the nation, Bush called for "a little peace and quiet."

"Every American has an inalienable right to free speech and self-expression," Bush said. "Nonetheless, I call upon the American people to hold off on it for, say, 60 seconds. Just long enough for me to get this all sorted out in my head."

"Please," Bush added.

While the president said achieving a unilateral peace and quiet "would not be easy," he hoped that citizens would respect his wish and work toward a temporary cease-talk so that he could can hear his own thoughts "for once."

"Make no mistake: It will take patience and sacrifice," Bush said. "But such drastic measures could lead to a better tomorrow for all of us, especially for your commander in chief."

Bush then closed his speech by exhaling sharply, tightly closing his eyes, and massaging his temples. "I just—Christ, I just need a goddamn minute, you know?" he said.

Why Dannatt is right about the forces of occupation

Cartoon by Martin Rowson, The Guardian
(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

By Patrick Cockburn
The Independent

"Iraq is one of the most complicated countries on earth but some of the most important aspects of the present crisis are very simple: few countries welcome foreign invaders however much they dislike their own rulers. Occupations are seldom popular and their unpopularity grows the longer they continue.

"Nobody loves armed missionaries," said Robespierre, the French revolutionary leader. It is this obvious but crucial point which is at the heart of General Sir Richard Dannatt's critique of present government policy. His exact words are "our presence exacerbates the security problems." This has been self- evident to anybody visiting Iraq over the past three years.

For a few days after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 opinion polls showed that Iraqis were equally divided between those who thought they had been liberated and those who said Iraq had been occupied. But ever since polls have shown that the majority of Iraqis outside Kurdistan believe their country is occupied and most want this occupation to end as soon as possible.

This is the central political fact in Iraq. Occupation provokes resistance. This is why guerrilla warfare erupted so swiftly. It was not foreign fighters or remnants of Saddam's regime who imposed a war on Iraqis, but armed groups that could operate in a sympathetic environment.

"We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear," continued General Dannatt. "As a foreigner you can be welcomed by being invited into a country, but we weren't invited... Let's face it, the military campaign we fought in 2003 effectively kicked the door in."

General Dannatt is quite right to point to the fundamental lack of legitimacy of the foreign military presence in Iraq flowing from the fact that in 2003 American and British armies "kicked the door in." A final Downing Street myth punctured by General Dannatt is that in Iraq " we put in place a liberal democracy that was an exemplar for the region, was pro-West and might have a beneficial effect on the balance within the Middle East." In reality, the US and Britain delayed elections, knowing that Shia religious parties sympathetic to Iran would win them."

Why the Lebanese won and the Palestinians did not yet?

A Well-Written Article
By Salim Nazzal
(Dr. Salim Nazzal is a Palestinian historian. He has written extensively on social and political issues in the Middle East)

"Examples from history of national movements and resistances demonstrate that each experience is unique. The only common thread between all national movements and resistances is the rejection of the status quo imposed by the occupational power.

The post-war period following the July 2006 war in Lebanon witnessed a wave of criticisms toward the Palestinian national movement which were filled with calls to imitate the methods of Hizbullah. These calls focused in my view on the results of the conflict in southern Lebanon while overlooking the complications in the Palestinian, Israeli conflict. Most comments tended to marginalize the complexity of the Palestinian struggle. In the study of conflicts, political scientists distinguish between two forms of conflict, the first is the "interest conflict" (border conflict for instance) and the second is the "value conflict" which takes the form of total confrontation. The Palestinian struggle belongs to the "value conflict"; the conflict is about the land, the identity and even about the Palestinian traditions which the Polish and Russians immigrant Jews claimed to be theirs. The major complicating factor of the Palestinian struggle is the nature of the Israeli occupation in Palestine. The Israeli occupation in Palestine is both ideological and political, while the Israeli occupation to south Lebanon was only political. In other words Zionists view their conflict with Palestinians as existential, while perhaps they do not hold that view in others conflicts.

Apart from Hamas and the Palestinian Communist party the Palestinian parties were the product of the Palestinian Diaspora in the absence of a Palestinian national state. Consequently in the absence of a unifying political culture, the party culture has become a dominant factor, functioning as a Mini-Palestine for its members. In other words party identification replaced prior self-identifiers such as family and clan. The Oslo agreement put Palestinians in a situation where they had no clear position: they were neither a state nor were they a liberation movement as it was before 1993. In the view of many Palestinians such as the Palestinian writer Lubna Hamad the Palestinian leadership had been reduced from a liberation movement to a subsidiary of the Israeli occupation.

The Lebanese resistance fights the extension of the Zionist project, while Palestinians fight the heart of the Zionist project which naturally makes the Palestinian struggle more difficult and more complicated.

The second problem lies in the absence of a united Palestinian national discourse. Perhaps more than any time since the Oslo agreement in 1993, Palestinian political parties need to debate new approaches in dealing with the Israeli occupation. There is a great need to redefine the Palestinian liberation project in order to come to a united Palestinian course. One point which may explain the Lebanese victory is that the Lebanese struggle is straightforward; it was directed against the Israeli military occupation of south Lebanon. Therefore the major difference between the Lebanese and Palestinians struggle lies in one major point; the Lebanese struggle is against the Israeli military occupation, while the Palestinian struggle is against the whole Zionist project. To win the national struggle, Palestinian leaders need to prepare the right conditions for victory. The first step towards victory is to reorganize the Palestinian national project."

Excess Death in Iraq

by Dahr Jamail

"655,000 Iraqis killed as a result of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

I have worked for eight months in Iraq as a journalist, witnessing the carnage on a daily basis, visiting the morgues with bodies and body parts piled into them, meeting family after family who had lost a loved one, or more ... Finally, we get an accurate figure that shows how immense the scale of the long drawn carnage really is.

The first Lancet Report, published on October 29, 2004, reported that there were 100,000 "excess" Iraqi deaths as the result of the US invasion and occupation. (Excess deaths are the difference between pre-invasion and post-invasion mortality rates.) Whenever I have given public presentations about the occupation, I have invariably found myself in a difficult position due to the lack of a more realistic and recent figure I can cite, knowing full well that the number was grossly higher than 100,000.

The least I could do was mention that Les Roberts, one of the authors of that report, is known to have said this past February that the number of Iraqi casualties could be over 300,000. And now, we know it is far higher, which merely confirms what most Iraqis already know.

This study is the only one, other than the first study published in The Lancet, that calculates mortality in Iraq using scientific methods. It is a technique of "cluster sampling" also used to estimate mortality caused by famines and after natural disasters.

The controversial results of the first survey were backed by Bradley Woodruff, a medical epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who was quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education on January 27, 2005: "Les [Les Roberts, co-author of the first survey] has used, and consistently uses, the best possible methodology ... Indeed, the United Nations and the State Department have cited mortality numbers compiled by Mr. Roberts on previous conflicts as fact – and have acted on those results. [He] has studied mortality caused by war since 1992, having done surveys in locations including Bosnia, Congo, and Rwanda. His three surveys in Congo for the International Rescue Committee, a nongovernmental humanitarian organization, in which he used methods akin to those of his Iraq study, received a great deal of attention. 'Tony Blair and Colin Powell have quoted those results time and time again without any question as to the precision or validity,' he added."

Ronald Waldman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University who worked at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for several years, said that the survey method is "tried and true," and that "this is the best estimate of mortality we have." His view was backed by Sarah Leah Whitson at the Human Rights Watch in New York, who testified, "We have no reason to question the findings or the accuracy."

Most of what we have heard reported, prior to this survey, had been deaths in Baghdad, with headlines like "50 Bodies Found in Baghdad" and "Baghdad Morgue Reporting 100 Bodies per Day." They are stories that have failed to take into account the rest of the country, although Baghdad is roughly 20% of the total population of Iraq. What has been happening in the rest of the country is a question that the latest survey answers: that there are approximately 500 unexpected violent deaths every single day throughout Iraq.

The survey found that 87% of the deaths had occurred during the occupation rather than during the initial invasion, and that 31% of them were a consequence of attacks and air strikes by the coalition forces.

For over a year now many Iraqis have been referring to what is happening in their country as genocide. With over 500 Iraqis being killed every single day as a direct result of the occupation, it is difficult to argue with them."

Friday, October 13, 2006

قاسم: بين قيادات الإضراب متهمون بالفساد وشركاء في الحصار

نابلس – المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

كشف الدكتور عبد الستار قاسم، أستاذ العلوم السياسية بجامعة النجاح الوطنية، النقاب عن أنه "ربما لا يعلم العديد من المدرسين المضربين (عن العمل)، أنّ عدداً من الذين يحرضونهم على الاستمرار في الإضراب؛ هم شركاء في الحصار المالي المضروب على الشعب الفلسطيني".

وأضاف الدكتور قاسم مؤكداً أنّ "هؤلاء القيادات الذين يظهرون على شاشات التلفاز وهم يحاولون ذرف الدموع على الشعب الفلسطيني؛ يتعاونون مع أمريكا و(إسرائيل) من أجل الاستمرار في منع الأموال، وفي نفس الوقت يحرضون على الإضراب".

وحذّر قاسم في مقال جديد حمل عنوان "تعطيل المدارس تدمير لفلسطين"، من أنّ "هؤلاء أيضاً هم من كبار المتهمين بالفساد، والذين تجب محاسبتهم على ما سرقوه من الشعب"، لافتاً الانتباه إلى أنهم يستعملون الموظفين من أجل إسقاط حكومة حماس ليحلوا محلها، وهم يستعملون الناس من أجل مصالحهم الخاصة المرتبطة بـ (إسرائيل) وأمريكا"، كما قال.

وأعاد الدكتور عبد الستار قاسم إلى الأذهان أنّ "هؤلاء هم الذين وقفوا ضد إضراب المعلمين في السابق (الحكومات السابقة)، وبثوا في صفوفهم عناصر من الأجهزة الأمنية لتخريب الإضراب، وهم الذين اعتقلوا معلمين من لجنة الإضراب"، وقال إنهم "عملوا على إفشال الإضراب في حينه لأنه كان يطالبهم بتحسين ظروف المعلم، وهم الآن يقفون مع المعلم لأنه ضد حماس"، وفق تعبيره.

وتطرق الكاتب الفلسطيني وأستاذ العلوم السياسية، إلى "أنه ما من أمة تريد أن تتقدم أو تتحرّر إلاّ ركزت على النهوض العلمي والأخلاقي؛ وما من أمة حيّة تجد أنّ نظامها الأخلاقي قد بدأ يتدهور إلاّ وحسبت أن نظامها التعليمي آخذ بالانهيار وعليها مراجعته وتحديثه والنهوض به".

وأكد الدكتور قاسم أنه "يدافع عن البحث عن أساليب تحقق الضغط المطلوب على الجهة التي تمنع الراتب، وفي ذات الوقت لا تترك أبناءنا في الشارع"، وأضاف "أبحث عن المنطق وراء هذا الإضراب الطويل فلا أجده، لأنّ المتحكم بالأموال ليس جهة داخلية وإنما جهات خارجية"، مشدداً على أنّ "الحكومة الفلسطينية لا تملك مالاً تمنعه عن الناس، وهي محاصرة من قبل (إسرائيل) وأمريكا وجهات محلية، مثلما أنّ الشعب الفلسطيني محاصر، وإذا كان هناك من يتهم حماس بأنها توزع أموالاً على أركانها، فإنني أرى بأنّ فتح أيضاً توزع أموالاً على أقطابها".

وأشار قاسم الى أنّ "القيادات لا تعاني العوز والحاجة المادية، ومن مسؤوليتنا نحن أهل فلسطين أن نصرّ على فتح الملفات لكي نعرف الحقيقة، ونعرف من يغدر الشعب ومن يصدقه"، وتابع "أنا أذهب إلى أبعد من ذلك لأقول بأنّ قيادات فلسطينية لا تتلقى أموالاً من الخارج فقط؛ وإنما تتلقى أيضاً أسلحة من (إسرائيل) بدعم مالي أمريكي، وقد أعلن الرئيس الأمريكي عن هذا مراراً".

ورأى الكاتب أنه "إذا كنا لا نريد توجيه أسهمنا ضد الذين يحاصرون الشعب الفلسطيني مالياً؛ فعلى الأقل علينا ألا نعرقل عملية التعليم"، وأضاف "للمعلم أن يُضرِب، لكن ليس من حقه أن يمنع الطالب من الذهاب إلى المدرسة، أو أن يقفل المدرسة، أو أن يرسل مسلحين لإطلاق النار أمام المدارس لإرهاب الطلاب والطالبات".

وخلص قاسم إلى القول "على الشعب الفلسطيني أن يتحرك نحو فتح المدارس، واجبنا أن نجتمع، وأن نخوض تجربة فتح المدارس، وترتيب أوضاعنا الشعبية لغاية انتهاء مشكلة الرواتب والإضراب".



By Tony Sayegh

One can't help contrasting two news stories during the past couple of days. The first was that the French parliament voted Thursday to make it a criminal act to deny an Armenian genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War I. The other was the publication in the medical journal, The Lancet, of a year-long study conducted by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Al Mustansiriya University in Iraq, in the excess mortality in Iraq as a result of the US invasion in March, 2003. The study was published on Wednesday, just the day before the passing of the French law.

The study in Iraq concluded that a reliable estimate of the increased deaths attributable to the US invasion is 650,000. If we add to this number the conservative estimate of 1,000,000 Iraqis who died due to the severe sanctions imposed on that country at the behest of the US, in the years prior to the invasion (of those, UNICEF estimated that 500,000 were children), we arrive at the conclusion that 1,650,000 Iraqis have been killed due to deliberate and calculated
US policy!

The number of Armenians who died as a result of forced resettlement and other actions by Turkey is estimated at 1-1.5 millions.

If the death of a million Armenians is a genocide (and it is), what do you call the death of almost 2 million Iraqis? That number of Iraqis is increasing rapidly and could easily reach 3 millions if this modern day genocide is not stopped.

Why is it that the West can only see genocides in its rear-view mirror? Why pass laws that criminalize people for their opinion of historical events while allowing a current genocide to proceed unfettered with no penalties? Is this the rationality and objectivity of the West?


Click Here To Watch This Video By Rai News

This report has been triggered by the warning launched in mid-july by some doctors of Gaza hospitals, who, for the first time, have treated inexplicable wounds which, in at least 62 cases, have caused the amputation of a lower limb. The doctors have often asked the help of the international community in order to understand the causes of these strange wounds which presented small fragments, often invisible to x-rays and inexplicable excisions caused by heat in lower limbs.

Several articles have appeared on national and international newpapers.

After a long research, the investigation team of Rai News 24 has identified the possible cause of these effects: it seems a new weapon dropped by unmanned drones, which is precisely teleguided to the target.

The weapon, according to the military magazine "Defence Tech", is called DIME which means "Dense Inert Metal Esplosive". It is a carbon shell that when it goes off breaks into small splinters. At the same time, there is the explosion of a charge which shoots a blade of tungsten dust charged with energy which burns and destroys everything in the radius of four meters with a really precise slant.

This technology is part of a new kind of "low lethality" weapons which downside collateral damages and restrain lethal effects.

Ugo Intini, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and the representatives of national and international press will participate into the broadcasting of the report.

U.S. begins $42 million program to bolster Hamas opponents

By Reuters

"The United States has quietly started a campaign projected to cost up to $42 million to bolster Hamas's political opponents ahead of possible early Palestinian elections, say officials linked to the program.

The plan to promote alternatives to Hamas includes funding to help restructure Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah group and provide training and strategic advice to politicians and secular parties opposed to Hamas Islamists.

"This project supports (the) objective to create democratic alternatives to authoritarian or radical Islamist political options," one official U.S. document obtained by Reuters said.

The U.S. campaign coincides with signs that Abbas is considering sacking the government led by Hamas, which defeated Fatah in January elections, in a process that could lead to a new parliamentary vote.

U.S. officials and consultants say the effort is being conducted without fanfare in order to protect the Palestinians who are receiving U.S. help -- some already branded by Hamas leaders as collaborators with Washington and Israel.

"We don't operate with firecrackers and neon signs to attract attention to ourselves," said one of the contractors working with Fatah on behalf of the U.S. State Department.

U.S. funds will also be used to encourage "watchdog" groups and local journalists to investigate the activities of the Hamas-led government and parliament. Up to $5 million would support private Palestinian schools offering an alternative to the Hamas-controlled public education system.

The documents obtained by Reuters repeatedly call these new programmes that began in recent weeks.

Some Hamas leaders have accused Abbas and Fatah of serving the interests of Israel's ally, the United States, which has led a Western aid embargo to force Hamas to recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept past accords with the Jewish state.

Washington is also helping Abbas expand his presidential guard as a possible counterweight to Hamas.

Senior Hamas political leader and lawmaker Fathi Hammad called the U.S. money part of a plot to bring down the Hamas-led government. "It is a challenge that we are aware of and we will confront it," he said.

In U.S. budget terms, e42 million is a small amount.

But in the cash-strapped Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank, it could go a long way - over three times the total spent by the main parties and candidates in the January election.

Ahead of that election, the United States tried to help the then Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, but critics said the push came too late to assist the long-dominant movement, which was handicapped by infighting and accusations of corruption.

The U.S.-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) said it recently began talks with the leaders of Fatah and other parties about how they could improve their performance in any election.

Michael Murphy, who runs NDI operations in the West Bank and Gaza, said the focus for now was on internal party reform, but that the programme, in close coordination with the State Department, would also look for ways to help Fatah and others get their message across to voters.

The International Republican Institute, which has also worked in the West Bank and Gaza for years, recently received funds for a new programme to give training and strategic advice to several Palestinian independent parties, though it said politicians would not get direct financial help.

"We're hammering into them they need to start organising now," said Scott Mastic, deputy director of the Institute's Middle East and North Africa division.

"There could be another election. It should be an incentive to them to get moving and get their act together."

One group, the Arab Thought Forum, said it had been approached by Washington to help two months ago, but that it turned down funding for a programme that would have meant excluding Hamas politicians.

"We couldn't be in a position not to recognise a government elected by the people," said director general Abdel Rahman Abu Arafeh. "So we are not receiving any U.S. money.""



Iraq: Resistance to Occupation Not Just for Fighters

by Dahr Jamail

"The children are growing up in occupied Iraq – and they are resisting it.

"Americans are bad," said 11-year-old Mustafa. "They killed my family." His family was killed in Operation Phantom Fury of November 2004 as they tried to flee the city, teachers said. That operation killed thousands and destroyed much of Fallujah and towns around it.

"How can we teach them forgiveness when they see Americans killing their family members every day?" the teacher in the classroom who gave her name as Shyamaa asked. "Words cannot cover the stream of blood and these signs of destruction, and words cannot hide the daily raids they see."

For the headmaster, the idea of a clash of civilizations is not just an idea.

"The gap between civilizations is widening thanks to the U.S. administration's crimes against humanity all over the world," he said. "They seem determined to tear the world apart, and their footprints cannot be removed for the coming generations."

"They keep asking us to hand over resistance fighters to them," a farmer at a village in the area told IPS. "So that they can torture them in Abu Ghraib, Falcon base, Baghdad airport, and other detention centers." But resistance fighters are gaining support, not being handed over.

Resistance attacks often take the shape of a small car that appears from nowhere. The men inside attack U.S. tanks or trucks carrying soldiers and disappear fast. Local people never provide U.S. forces with information on where the men came from or where they went."

Iraq: The Hidden Horror

650,000 Iraqis dead – now that's 'liberation'!

by Justin Raimondo

"That Bush has the gall to challenge anyone's credibility is a testament to his complete cluelessness. Here, after all, is a president who went to war under false pretenses, and now demands that we "stay the course" right over a cliff. Let him look at his own methodology, which involves reading – or, at least, skimming – a presidential daily briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike U.S." and then going blithely on his merry way, oblivious to all dangers but a nonexistent one in Iraq.

Are we to be spared nothing?

When Truman dropped nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there was no national outcry: rather, there was a celebration of unassailable American power. Likewise, the bombing of Dresden caused nary a ripple of protest. A long string of American-sponsored and -countenanced atrocities, ranging from the torture methods employed by the shah of Iran's U.S.-trained SAVAK to the "free-fire zones" of Vietnam, to the terror manual written by the CIA for the Nicaraguan contras during the 1980s, and on and on – none of this bothered much of anyone, either in Washington or in the country at large. We withdrew from Vietnam not because we were repulsed by our murderous tactics, and those of our Vietnamese sock-puppets, but because we were beaten militarily by a ragtag bunch of insurgents.

The U.S. military has steadfastly refused to maintain Iraqi body counts: for obvious reasons, they'd rather we didn't know how many Iraqi souls have been permanently "liberated" from their bodies. More importantly, they'd rather the Iraqis didn't know.

The study has proved controversial, and anyone can summon their favorite experts to either support or debunk it. Yet one has to say that, even if the figure of 650,000 is off by half, the vastness of U.S. war crimes in Iraq is quite a shocker. No wonder the Americans are denying it: they can't stand the sight of their own ruthlessness. And the hypocrisy! Here, after all, is a nation that was supposed to be "liberated" – and, instead, it has been turned into a slaughterhouse. Whatever the numbers, that is the cruel reality.

The hidden horror is so much worse than we imagine, yet the invisibility of evil isn't at all unusual when it comes to the modern world. The sheer scale of the crimes committed by the Nazis, the Soviets, the Khmer Rouge, and all the other mad tyrannies of the 20th century didn't come to light until well after their demise. One wonders if it will take the fall of the American Empire to uncover the full extent of Washington's war crimes."

Army chief says British troops should be pulled out of Iraq

The Independent

"Tony Blair has received a public warning from the country's most senior military commander that the British presence in Iraq is threatening disaster there and in the UK.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, who took over as Chief of Staff six weeks ago, has warned the commitment to Iraq "exacerbates" problems faced by the UK in other parts of the world. He urged Mr Blair to give up his ambition to see a liberal democracy established in Iraq and settle for a "lower ambition", warning that British troops were not invited into Iraq and the time when they were welcome has passed.

He said: "Let's face it, the military campaign we fought in 2003 effectively kicked the door in. Whatever consent we may have had in the first place may have turned to tolerance and has largely turned to intolerance. I don't say that the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them.""


GWB: Not Credible.

By Steve Bell, The Guardian.

A Last Wild Ride on the Titanic: Bush Leading the Ship to Destruction

By Mike Whitney

"Even if the Democrats sweep both houses in November, it is doubtful that the enfeebled congress will have the power to confront the omnipotent “unitary” executive. Bush has all the power now; and what he says, goes.

America is presently in a long, downward spiral. It could be years before we hit rock bottom. Our military is grinding down, our alliances are increasingly frayed and tenuous, and public opinion has begun to wane. The tectonic-plates of political good-fortune have begun to shift. There won’t be any more “good news” coming from Iraq.

Still, in the face of mounting pressure and widespread public unease, Bush has ordered a carrier group to the Gulf; steaming ahead for an apocalyptic confrontation with Iran. When the time is right, he’ll blow the whistle and the bombs will start pelting down like a Texas hailstorm.

It’s a death-wish.

Bush is chugging inexorably towards Tehran and we’re all being swept along in his wake. It’s like one last wild ride on the Titanic before we hit the ice in the open seas and slip slowly beneath the waves.

Glub, glub!"

Is War with Iran the October Surprise?

By Captain Eric H. May
(Captain May, a former intelligence and public affairs officer, is the founder and commander of Ghost Troop, a cyber-intelligence unit on a mission of conscience to inform the American People of the dangers of the Bush administration.)

"If they're up to their duty, a new Congress could impeach him as a man who was brought to power by a war cabal for the sole purpose of starting a war in the Middle East. They could say that his allegiances are not -- and never were -- to the American People. Rather, he has been bought and paid for by the Oil Lobby, the Military-Industrial Lobby and the Israel Lobby.

Officers from the Eisenhower have reached out to the government, military and media ever since the orders came, protesting that they don't want to be used to initiate a war with Iran. They assert that this is against their service oath to the Constitution, which clearly states that only the Congress -- not the president -- can start a war. Their distress signal has reached official circles, thanks to a September article by The Nation magazine. It's a confirmation of a New Yorker story in the spring, by Seymour Hersh, alleging that the Pentagon was then putting the brakes on a Bush administration itching for a war with Iran.

A false flag attack is one in which you or your war partners attack your own forces while pretending to be someone else -- then blame it on that someone else. As a lifelong soldier and military historian, it seems quite possible to me a false flag attack on a U.S. ship in the Persian Gulf could be planned to alter the upcoming U.S. elections. The war would be blamed on Iran, of course.

Have the same powerful officials decided that a Persian Gulf Pearl Harbor is what we must suffer to start World War III?

If we don't want to do the unsavory job of a performing a false flag attack on ourselves, we can always count on Israel to do anything necessary to keep us fighting against their Middle Eastern enemies. In 1967, they launched an unsuccessful day-long assault against our U.S.S. Liberty, then sailing well outside its territorial waters in the Eastern Mediterranean. They intended to scuttle the ship, kill its survivors, then blame the attack on Egypt, against whom they wanted us to go to war. Not one in a hundred Americans know about the event; both media and government have colluded to keep the fact silent.

The same cooperative media that led the American People against Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 could lead it against Iran in 2006. The United States would mobilize the economy and initiate the draft."


The poll asks:

What is the best solution to resolve the internal Palestinian crisis?

Here are the results, with 1,750 people responding:

Resignation of the Hamas government------9.8%

Resignation of Mahmoud Abbas-------------59.5%

Forming a national unity government------30.7%

It is important to save these results, which have held steady so far. As experience shows, when Fatah finds out about the poll it will instruct its supporters to vote en masse to dramatically change the results, against Hamas and in favor of Abbas. At that point the poll will become meaningless. But up to this point, the poll has been random and the results should be viewed as representative.



The results have held relatively steady, but are beginning to change, indicating that Fatah may have found out about the poll. In that case, the volume will increase enormously. In a similar recent poll, the total number of respondents exceeded one million!

With 5,900 people responding:

Resignation of the Hamas government------11.3%

Resignation of Mahmoud Abbas---------------60%

Forming a national unity government------28.7%


PART 1: The Intelligence War

PART 2: The Ground War

PART 3: The Political War


PART 3: The political war
Asia Times

"Mubarak and the two Abdullahs are not the only ones scrambling for the exits - the United States' foreign policy in the region, even in light of its increasingly dire deployment in Iraq, is in a shambles.

A talisman of this collapse can be seen in the itinerary of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose inability to persuade President George W Bush to halt the fighting and her remark about the conflict as marking "the birth pangs" of a new Middle East in effect destroyed her credibility.

The US has made it clear that it will attempt to retrieve its position by backing a yet-to-be-announced Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, but America's continued strangulation of the democratically constituted government of the Palestinian Authority has transformed that pledge into a stillborn political program.

First, the Hezbollah victory has shown that Israel - and any modern and technologically sophisticated Western military force - can be defeated in open battle, if the proper military tactics are employed and if they are sustained over a prolonged period.

Second, the Hezbollah victory has shown the people of the Muslim world that the strategy employed by Western-allied Arab and Muslim governments - a policy of appeasing US interests in the hopes of gaining substantive political rewards cannot and will not work.

Third, the Hezbollah victory has had a shattering impact on America's allies in the region.

A future war - perhaps a US military campaign against Iran's nuclear sites - might not unseat the government in Tehran, but it could well unseat the governments of Egypt, Jordan and perhaps Saudi Arabia.

Fourth, the Hezbollah victory has dangerously weakened the Israeli government.

Fifth, the Hezbollah victory spells the end of any hope of a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at least in the short and medium terms. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas castigated those who cheered on Hezbollah's victory, calling them "Hamas supporters" and "enemies of Israel". Abbas is in a far more tenuous position than Mubarak or the two Abdullahs - his people's support for Hamas continues, as does his slavish agreement with George W Bush, who told him on the sidelines of the United Nations Security Council meeting that he was to end all attempts to form a unity government with his fellow citizens.

Sixth, the Hezbollah victory has had the very unfortunate consequence of blinding Israel's political leadership to the realities of their geostrategic position.

Seventh, Hezbollah's position in Lebanon has been immeasurably strengthened, as has the position of its most important ally.

Eighth, Iran's position in Iraq has been significantly enhanced.

Ninth, Syria's position has been strengthened and the US-French program for Lebanon has failed.

Tenth, and perhaps most important, it now is clear that a US attack on Iranian nuclear installations would be met with little support in the Muslim world. It would also be met by a military response that would collapse the last vestiges of America's political power in the region. We would now dare say the obvious - if and when such an attack comes, the United States will be defeated.

The victory of Hezbollah in its recent conflict with Israel is far more significant than many analysts in the United States and Europe realize. The Hezbollah victory reverses the tide of 1967 - a shattering defeat of Egypt, Syria and Jordan that shifted the region's political plates, putting in place regimes that were bent on recasting their own foreign policy to reflect Israeli and US power. That power now has been sullied and reversed, and a new leadership is emerging in the region

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Meanwhile in Iraq

Randi Rhodes Interviews Dr. Les Roberts; co-author of the Johns Hopkins Iraq Mortality Study: The Iraqi death toll has reached 655,000! Johns Hopkins University has just released the only truly scientific accounting on the matter since their 2004 report on the post-invasion death toll.

At least 34 killed in ongoing U.S. Occupation of Iraq: Gunmen raided the offices of al-Shaabiya Iraqi satellite television channel in Baghdad and killed 11 people, including guards, technicians and administrative staff

Aura of fear and death stalks Iraq: As the Lancet releases shocking figures on the death toll in Iraq, Peter Beaumont describes the daily carnage across Baghdad

UK ex-minister urged Aljazeera bombing: David Blunkett, the UK's former home secretary, has said that during the 2003 invasion of Iraq he suggested to Tony Blair that Britain's military should bomb Aljazeera's television transmitter in Baghdad.

Baker's Panel Rules Out Iraq Victory: A commission formed to assess the Iraq war and recommend a new course has ruled out the prospect of victory for America, according to draft policy options shared with The New York Sun by commission officials.

Data Suggests Vast Costs Loom in Disability Claims : Nearly one in five soldiers leaving the military after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan has been at least partly disabled as a result of service, according to documents of the Department of Veterans Affairs obtained by a Washington research group.

Gunmen Storm Iraqi TV Station, Kill 11: Gunmen, some of them in police uniforms, stormed the downtown Baghdad headquarters of a new satellite television station Thursday, killing the board chairman and 10 others in the second attack on an Iraqi station in the capital in as many weeks.

"Excess Death in Iraq": It is the single most important statistic regarding the illegal US invasion and occupation of Iraq. How many Iraqis have been killed? 655,000.

"Resistance Growing Up at School": KHALDIYA, Oct 12 (IPS) - The bomb went off just outside the school as the IPS correspondent stood speaking to children and teachers within.

Iraqi cop academy to shut despite surge in violence:
The Bush administration plans to shut down a highly successful Iraqi police academy in Jordan even as security in Iraq worsens, the Daily News has learned.

Meanwhile in Palestine

AIPAC Runs Right: The Republicanization and increasing hawkishness of the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has continued apace, with little heed paid to the ramifications of this shift or its increasing alliance with the far right.

Israeli Occupation Forces kill six Palestinians in occupied Gaza : A spokesman for the Hamas military wing on Thursday vowed the group would take harsh revenge for an Israel Occupation Forces operation in Gaza, in which six people - including four militants - were killed.

Israel's bombs Hamas man's Gaza home kills three including 8-year-old girl: Farwana survived the attack, but the strike killed his brother, 25-year-old Aiman Farwana, and a 8-year-old girl.

Gideon Levy : Collateral damage : Sometimes tragedies happen, but the tragedy of the Hamad family is almost too much to describe.

"Gaza. Inexplicable Wounds And New Weapons" : Video report: This report has been triggered by the warning launched in mid-july by some doctors of Gaza hospitals, who, for the first time, have treated inexplicable wounds which, in at least 62 cases, have caused the amputation of a lower limb.

Gaza sliding into civil war: As soon as Hamas formed a government after winning January's elections, Israel withheld $60m (£32m) in monthly tax revenues and the international community halted direct financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. That, combined with frequent Israeli closures of the crossing points into Gaza, has prompted a severe economic crisis and left hundreds of young men, who have ready access to weapons, without salaries.

The logic behind Rice's grin: In its struggle for the regional order it wants, the US is reaching new lows in its deceitful and disingenuous stance towards the Palestinians

Israeli Rights group: Israeli denies vital health treatment to Palestinians : The Shin Bet security service is systematically preventing Palestinians who need medical treatment unavailable in the territories from entering Israel, a new report by the nonprofit organization Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) charges

Roadblocks up by 40% in West Bank: The number of Israeli military road blocks in the West Bank grew by nearly 40% in the past year, part of an increasingly sophisticated lockdown that disrupts all aspects of Palestinian life, a UN aid agency said yesterday.

Academic to quit post in anger over Israel: PROMINENT left-wing Israeli academic and author Tanya Reinhart plans to quit as emeritus professor at Tel Aviv University in protest against her Government's handling of the Palestinian issue.

Rice: Palestinians should live free of 'humilation of occupation': Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that Palestinians deserve to live under better conditions than they are subjected to and be "free of the humiliation of occupation" in a state of their own. "I promise you my personal commitment to that goal," Rice said at a dinner marking the third anniversary of the American Task Force on Palestine.

Holy Land Christian leaders call for "open" Jerusalem: Slamming the impact of walls recently erected by the Israeli government, Catholic and other Christian leaders in Israel and Palestine have called for a renewed effort to reach agreement on a special status for Jerusalem as an "open city" as part of an effort for a definite and just peace.

Bil’in to Demonstrate in Solidarity With Cameraman held by Israel: At midday, Friday the 13th of October, the villagers of Bil’in will march in solidarity with Emad Bornat, the Reuters cameraman and video-journalist, also a resident of Bil’in. The demonstrators will hold up cameras as a sign of solidarity with Emad and protest against the Israeli army’s crackdown on freedom of press. Today, October 11th, at the appeal hearing, the Israeli military decided to launch an indictment against Emad. The judge will make a ruling tomorrow at 4pm, but that might not be the end of his captivity.

Nonviolent resistance: I sell grapes: Eleven tons of grapes are on sale in Jerusalem. Sitting under trees and along the sidewalks of East Jerusalem's Salah Addin Street, against door pillars in the Old City and outside Damascus Gate, Palestinians are defying Israeli attempts to crush their yearly sales. Jerusalem is the largest market for grapes and just last week southwestern Bethlehem farmers demonstrated to be able to reach the city with their crop. But as the assault on economic sustainability continues, Israeli forces will not allow grapes and seasonal vegetables into Jerusalem.

Report: 290 killed in the Gaza Strip since June 25th, amongst them 135 children and 25 women: The death toll, given in the report, since the beginning of the operation has reached 290 civilians, amongst them 135 children and 35 women. The number of injured is 4,350, out of these 750 are left permanently disabled, 117 injuries were to the upper body, 54 burns were sustained and 53 severe burns. 1700 injuries out of 4350 were to children.

Rights group: Shin Bet denies vital treatment to Palestinians: The Shin Bet security service is systematically preventing Palestinians who need medical treatment unavailable in the territories from entering Israel... According to the organization, in many cases, patients have been denied urgent, life-saving treatment. The report says that the Shin Bet automatically refuses entry permits, and reconsiders its decisions only if legal action is begun.

IAF missile strike on Hamas man's Gaza home kills three: An IDF spokesman confirmed the air strike targeted the house of a Hamas commander, Sharaf Farwana, in the Sajaiyeh section of Gaza City near the border with Israel. Farwana survived the attack, but the strike killed his brother, 25-year-old Aiman Farwana, and a 8-year-old girl.

Seven killed by Israeli fire in Gaza: Five of those killed belonged to the same family -- bystanders 13-year-old Suheib Iqdah, his 40-year-old father Adel and three militants from the armed wing of ruling Islamist movement Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades. They died after an Israeli aircraft fired a missile into a group of people in Abassan, near the southern town of Khan Yunis, medical and security sources said.

Army closes Beit Iba checkpoint west of Nablus: Due to the closure of the checkpoints scores of residents who were out of the city for education, work, or heath purposes were trapped and could not return to their homes in Nablus or the surrounding areas.

Olmert courts hard-line party in Israel: With his political fortunes plummeting after the war in Lebanon, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is scrambling to shore up his rickety coalition by courting a hard-line party that favors redrawing Israel's borders to exclude Arab citizens.

Police arrest 10 settler youths who beat Palestinians harvesting olives: Police on Thursday arrested 10 youths from the West Bank settlement of Hashmonaim who are suspected of attacking and beating local Palestinians harvesting olives.

My Friend, the Enemy: The dispossession of the Palestinians by the Zionist movement, representing a people who had suffered centuries of persecution in Europe, continues to haunt the Middle East, influencing events far beyond the Levant. The story of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and its present-day reverberations has been told from almost every conceivable angle. Rarely, however, have the competing narratives of individual experience been set forth so poignantly as in Sandy Tolan's The Lemon Tree .

Israeli roadblocks in the West Bank up sharply, UN says: These physical obstacles are carving up the West Bank into separate parts, with travel between them becoming more and more difficult, said David Shearer, head of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Jerusalem. UN officials in Geneva, meanwhile, expressed concern about the ongoing closure of the Gaza Strip, including the crossing between Gaza and Egypt. ``It cannot continue like it is now without a social explosion that will hurt everybody, including Israeli security," said Jan Egeland, the UN humanitarian chief.

U.S. Teacher Freed in West Bank: Michael Phillips, 24, who teaches English in Palestinian refugee camps in Nablus, was unharmed, said Samah Atout, a manager for the nonprofit group for which the Louisiana resident has volunteered. "He's totally OK, and he doesn't want to leave Nablus," Atout said by telephone shortly after Phillips' release.

Hamas sees Egyptian mediation between Palestinians necessary: The Egyptian mediation "became a political need to protect our national project," Ahmed Yousef said in the statement. Meanwhile, Yousef underlined that the Palestinians are in need of new Arab and international initiatives that do not give priority to Israel's recognition.

State tells High Court it should stay out of war-probe decision: The state prosecution yesterday told the High Court of Justice that the government has given much thought to the question of whether to establish a state commission of inquiry to investigate the war in Lebanon, and believes that the High Court has limited input in this deliberation.

Hamas: Revenge will be painful: The movement's spokesperson Abu Ubeida said, in an interview with Palestinian Maan news agency: "We promise the Israeli enemy many surprises and promise to show previously unrevealed military capabilities. All operations of the Israeli military in Gaza are meant to cover up their failure to release Gilad Shalit."

A small Jerusalem is better: The plan, which was initiated by Golda Meir's government in order to "strengthen the capital," was severely criticized by all the experts. Thirty years later, its destructive consequences have become evident: From a compact city of 37 square kilometers, Jerusalem has turned into a huge metropolis that covers 120 square kilometers, twice as large as the area of Tel Aviv and Haifa combined.

Over 2,000 protest outside PM's home, call for state war inquiry: "The State of Israel is anxiously awaiting for errors to be addressed, and the first condition for addressing errors is revealing the truth," former Meretz MK Yossi Sarid told the protestors.


A 13-year old boy, Ssuheib Quday'h (صهيب عادل قديح), who was killed with four other members of the Quday'h family, October 12, 2006.

A Palestinian man carries a girl wounded by an Israeli missile in the Shijaia neighbourhood in Gaza October 12, 2006. An Israeli missile fired from an unmanned drone killed a girl and wounded nine other people in the Shijaia neighbourhood in Gaza City on Thursday, local residents said and hospital staff said. (REUTERS)

A Palestinian carries a woman wounded by an Israeli missile in the Shijaia neighbourhood in Gaza October 12, 2006. An Israeli missile fired from an unmanned drone killed a girl and wounded nine other people in the Shijaia neighbourhood in Gaza City on Thursday, local residents said and hospital staff said. (REUTERS)

A Palestinian woman carries a child wounded by an Israeli missile strike in the Shijaia neighbourhood in Gaza October 12, 2006. An Israeli missile fired from an unmanned drone killed two Palestinians including a young girl and wounded more than 10 others in the Shijaia neighbourhood in Gaza City on Thursday, local residents and hospital staff said. (REUTERS)

The logic behind Rice's grin

By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Ahram Weekly

"Rice, the most faithful foreign policy ambassador of the Bush administration, even before her taking over the State Department, seems hell-bent on reining in Iran, ensuring the failure of the Hamas government, and restructuring the political landscape of Lebanon in a way that would deny Hizbullah the opportunity to capitalise on its astounding military achievements.

One can easily dismiss Rice's attempts as futile, indeed self-defeating. The logic is simple: Rice represents all that is insidious about the Bush regime, one of the most loathed US administrations in the modern history of the Middle East, if not the world. Her visits to the region, despite the official fanfare that often awaits her at Arab capitals, coupled with her disagreeable and untimely grins, are often associated with her government's disastrous foreign policy, political plots and anti-democratic efforts.

The fact is, Rice couldn't care less about Arab public opinion, nor any other public opinion for that matter. Her definition of democratic transformation hardly resembles the people's collective desire. She simply stands at odds with the people's aspirations for greater freedom and change, and undoubtedly she knows it.

Even her promise, made during her 4 October joint press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, that the US will "redouble" its efforts to help starving Palestinians, was quickly snubbed by Palestinian media and by a mass rally held in Gaza two days after her visit to the West Bank. Palestinians understand well that the purpose of her visit was to support President Abbas's disgruntled faction, Fatah, against Hamas, now the ruling party. In the span of three days prior to her visit, 10 Palestinians were killed in clashes between the two groups. Fatah continues to infuse chaos, rendering the government inoperative and paving the way for a presidential decree to abolish it, while Hamas is fighting to retain control of what it perceives rightfully as its political achievement resulting from the democratic choice of the Palestinian people during the January elections.

Now Rice is back, pushing to abort the same democratic process that her boss alleged to champion. Recall that in his Middle East "vision" speech of 24 June 2002, President Bush considered free and fair elections in the Palestinian territories as key to the success of what was later termed the roadmap peace initiative.

For now, the core of the American Middle East battle is focussed on Palestine. If Palestinian democracy prevails, withstanding intense Israel-American-Palestinian pressure, then US foreign policy will suffer its greatest loss yet, whose outcome will reverberate across the region. The Palestinian democratic experience thus must fail, even if the price is politically backing embattled President Abbas and his fractious followers, equally desperate not to lose this decisive battle against Hamas.

Rice's visit to the region was neither intended to "reinvigorate" the peace process nor to support the voice of "moderation" in the region. It was meant to ensure the fortitude of her allies and secure and extend the collective punishment of the Palestinian people until they repent and throw out their democratically elected government, a scenario that was tried with success in Nicaragua in the 1970s, though at a very high price.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian president and his henchmen, joined by various Arab governments and European states, are in unison with Rice's iniquitous objectives, thus giving her good reason to mendaciously grin."