Saturday, February 17, 2007

Black Hawk Up

Iran - Ready to attack

By Dan Plesch

American preparations for invading Iran are complete, Dan Plesch reveals. Plus Rageh Omaar's insights from Iran and Andrew Stephen on fears George Bush's administration will blunder into war

"American military operations for a major conventional war with Iran could be implemented any day. They extend far beyond targeting suspect WMD facilities and will enable President Bush to destroy Iran's military, political and economic infrastructure overnight using conventional weapons.

British military sources told the New Statesman, on condition of anonymity, that "the US military switched its whole focus to Iran" as soon as Saddam Hussein was kicked out of Baghdad. It continued this strategy, even though it had American infantry bogged down in fighting the insurgency in Iraq.

The US army, navy, air force and marines have all prepared battle plans and spent four years building bases and training for "Operation Iranian Freedom". Admiral Fallon, the new head of US Central Command, has inherited computerised plans under the name TIRANNT (Theatre Iran Near Term).

The Bush administration has made much of sending a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf. But it is a tiny part of the preparations. Post 9/11, the US navy can put six carriers into battle at a month's notice. Two carriers in the region, the USS John C Stennis and the USS Dwight D Eisenhower, could quickly be joined by three more now at sea: USS Ronald Reagan, USS Harry S Truman and USS Theodore Roosevelt, as well as by USS Nimitz. Each carrier force includes hundreds of cruise missiles.

Then there are the marines, who are not tied down fighting in Iraq. Several marine forces are assembling, each with its own aircraft carrier. These carrier forces can each conduct a version of the D-Day landings. They come with landing craft, tanks, jump-jets, thousands of troops and, yes, hundreds more cruise missiles. Their task is to destroy Iranian forces able to attack oil tankers and to secure oilfields and installations. They have trained for this mission since the Iranian revolution of 1979.

Today, marines have the USS Boxer and USS Bataan carrier forces in the Gulf and probably also the USS Kearsarge and USS Bonhomme Richard. Three others, the USS Peleliu, USS Wasp and USS Iwo Jima, are ready to join them. Earlier this year, HQ staff to manage these forces were moved from Virginia to Bahrain.

Vice-President Dick Cheney has had something of a love affair with the US marines, and this may reach its culmination in the fishing villages along Iran's Gulf coast. Marine generals hold the top jobs at Nato, in the Pentagon and are in charge of all nuclear weapons. No marine has held any of these posts before.

Traditionally, the top nuclear job went either to a commander of the navy's Trident submarines or of the air force's bombers and missiles. Today, all these forces follow the orders of a marine, General James Cartwright, and are integrated into a "Global Strike" plan which places strategic forces on permanent 12-hour readiness.

The only public discussion of this plan has been by the American analysts Bill Arkin and Hans Kristensen, who have focused on the possible use of atomic weapons. These concerns are justified, but ignore how forces can be used in conventional war.

Any US general planning to attack Iran can now assume that at least 10,000 targets can be hit in a single raid, with warplanes flying from the US or Diego Garcia. In the past year, unlimited funding for military technology has taken "smart bombs" to a new level.

New "bunker-busting" conventional bombs weigh only 250lb. According to Boeing, the GBU-39 small-diameter bomb "quadruples" the firepower of US warplanes, compared to those in use even as recently as 2003. A single stealth or B-52 bomber can now attack between 150 and 300 individual points to within a metre of accuracy using the global positioning system.

With little military effort, the US air force can hit the last-known position of Iranian military units, political leaders and supposed sites of weapons of mass destruction. One can be sure that, if war comes, George Bush will not want to stand accused of using too little force and allowing Iran to fight back.

"Global Strike" means that, without any obvious signal, what was done to Serbia and Lebanon can be done overnight to the whole of Iran. We, and probably the Iranians, would not know about it until after the bombs fell. Forces that hide will suffer the fate of Saddam's armies, once their positions are known.

The whole of Iran is now less than an hour's flying time from some American base or carrier. Sources in the region as well as trade journals confirm that the US has built three bases in Azerbaijan that could be transit points for troops and with facilities equal to its best in Europe.

Most of the Iranian army is positioned along the border with Iraq, facing US army missiles that can reach 150km over the border. But it is in the flat, sandy oilfields east and south of Basra where the temptation will be to launch a tank attack and hope that a disaffected population will be grateful.

The regime in Tehran has already complained of US- and UK-inspired terror attacks in several Iranian regions where the population opposes the ayatollahs' fanatical policies. Such reports corroborate the American journalist Seymour Hersh's claim that the US military is already engaged in a low-level war with Iran. The fighting is most intense in the Kurdish north where Iran has been firing artillery into Iraq. The US and Iran are already engaged in a low-level proxy war across the Iran-Iraq border.

And, once again, the neo-cons at the American Enterprise Institute have a plan for a peaceful settlement: this time it is for a federal Iran. Officially, Michael Ledeen, the AEI plan's sponsor, has been ostracised by the White House. However, two years ago, the Congress of Iranian Nationalities for a Federal Iran had its inaugural meeting in London.

We should not underestimate the Bush administration's ability to convince itself that an "Iran of the regions" will emerge from a post-rubble Iran. "

As The Stomach Turns....

Livni: PA coalition gov't fails to meet Quartet demands

"Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Saturday a unity government deal between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas did not satisfy the demands of the international community.

Her comments marked a hardening of Israel's public response to the deal. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said earlier this week that Israel "neither rejects nor accepts the agreements".

"Unfortunately, before the formation of the future Palestinian government, the understandings do not meet the requirements of the international community," Livni said with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at her side......

A political source in Jerusalem said earlier Saturday that Olmert and U.S. President George W. Bush "see eye to eye on the need of any future Palestinian government to meet the demands of the Quartet" of Middle East peacemakers, following a telephone conversation between the two leaders Friday.

Olmert and Bush also discussed the Mecca agreement to form a Palestinian unity government of Hamas and Fatah and the issue of Iran's nuclear development.....

Palestinian negotiatior Saeb Erekat, however, said Welch reiterated Washington's insistence that the new coalition accept the conditions laid out by the so-called Quartet of peacemakers - the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union - that any Palestinian government must recognize Israel, renounce violence and honor previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

"We are going to judge this government according to its commitment to the
Quartet conditions," Erekat quoted the American envoy saying

But a senior Palestinian official said: "The Americans have informed us that they will be boycotting the new government headed by Hamas. The Fatah and independent ministers will be treated the same way that Hamas ministers are treated."

Jacob Walles, the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, then delivered the same message to Abbas in person Thursday, the aides said.

The aides said the U.S. officials indicated that all members of the future unity government, including independents and those belonging to Fatah, would be shunned. The U.S. government would still maintain ties with Abbas and his office, the aides added......"

Facing Mecca

The Palestinian Accords


"......The day after tomorrow, Condoleezza Rice will convene a meeting of Olmert and Abbas in Jerusalem.

The Americans now have a problem. On one side, they need the Saudi king. Not only does he sit on huge oil reservoirs, but he is also the center-piece of the "moderate Sunni bloc". If the king tells Bush that the solution of the Palestinian problem is needed in order to dam the spread of Iranian influence across the Middle East, his words will carry a lot of weight. If Bush is planning a military attack on Iran, as it seems he is, it is important for him to have the united support of the Sunnis.

On the other side, the pro-Israel lobby--both Jewish and Christian--is very important for Bush. It is vital for him to be able to count on the "Christian base" of the Republican Party, which is composed of fundamentalists who support the extreme Right in Israel, come what may.

So what is to be done? Nothing. For this nothing, Condi found an apt diplomatic slogan, taken from up-to-date American slang: "New Political Horizons".

Clearly, she did not ponder on the meaning of these words. Because the horizon is the symbol of a goal that will never be reached: the more you approach it, the more it recedes."

There Goes The "Arab Consensus"

Why Can’t The Palestinians Learn?

By Tony Sayegh

The Palestinians, who are the only colonized people in the world today, have been struggling for their freedom and independence for close to 100 years, yet their actions show that they have learned very little in all these years. As a result they seem incapable of putting together and executing a national project that would deliver this freedom and independence. In the meantime the colonizers and occupiers excel in forging ahead with their plans to devour what little is left for the Palestinians and to ultimately squeeze them or , depending on regional developments, “transfer” them out. The picture could not be bleaker. If there is any hope left, it lies in the Palestinians conducting a harsh self-examination that spares no sacred cows nor tries to minimize how dire the situation is.

I hear a lot said about Palestinian democracy and the efforts (by Usrael) to end this experiment. Yet, at crucial times, there is little evidence of this democracy. Key decisions and agreements are still made by a few “leaders” with no input from ordinary Palestinians. A case in point is the Mecca agreement concluded under the auspices of his royal highness king Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. I am still waiting for any debate about its merits, or lack of, in the so-called parliament, the press or any other forum. Suddenly, true to form, most Palestinians fall in line and sing the praises of “Palestinian unity.” No dissenting voices are heard within the “democratic” Hamas or among the public at large. Some Hamas leaders even went as far as accusing anyone opposed to this agreement of being an enemy of the people!

This has been the pattern for 90 years and as a result the Palestinian project can’t get off the ground. Is it any wonder that after three generations of resistance the most observed resistance to the occupation in the West Bank is the sight of kids throwing stones at Israeli tanks? There is no growth, evolution, learning or even a process. The people are leaderless and the so-called leaders are more concerned with appearing in front of cameras or flying from capital to capital. By contrast, Hizbullah did not even exist in 1982 when Israel occupied South Lebanon. By 2000 (in 18 short years) Hizbullah was able to organize a fierce and effective resistance that culminated in the only known forced Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab land.

I would like to take just a few examples to illustrate that the Palestinians have learned very little in all those years.

After WWI the Palestinians, and the Arabs in general, were duped in fighting with the British and the French to get rid of the Ottomans. And what do the Palestinians get in return? British occupation and the Balfour declaration in 1917 committing the British government to dismembering Palestine and to the Zionist cause of stealing most of the country and throwing the Palestinians out. The British stayed in Palestine to empower the creation of the Zionist state and left only when the Zionist forces were strong enough to defeat the combined Arab armies. The U.N., being the imperial tool that it is to this day, voted to partition the country and bless the new Zionist state. Did the Palestinians learn anything from that? I remember my father talking about never trusting the British again. Yet, Palestinian “leaders” (including those of Hamas) are pleading with Britain and the U.S. to play a “more active role” in the “peace process!” Hamas is urging the European powers that were largely responsible for the creation of Israel to lift the blockade and to resume their charitable contributions! Palestinian “leaders” go from meeting to meeting with Rice, Blair and the Quartet pleading for a “solution.” The Quartet is made up of the EU, U.S., U.N. and Russia, the same cast of characters that created Israel in the first place.

Here is another illustration. After the treason of most Arab leaders in 1948, with the king of Jordan actively collaborating with the Zionists and the kings of Egypt and Iraq ordering their forces not to intervene to help the Palestinians, the Palestinians swore never to trust the corrupt Arab leaders and to rely on themselves. Yet at a time when the Arab world is at its rock bottom in terms of subservience to the U.S. and when Arab nationalism is virtually dead, the Palestinians are supposed to celebrate an agreement cobbled together under the financial clout and patronage of the most corrupt and reactionary American puppet, king Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Ismail Haniyyah could not praise his rotten majesty enough. He even compared his sponsorship of the agreement to an action by the Prophet Mohammad! What a buffoon and a hypocrite! If the agreement is that good for the Palestinians, why do they need his rotten majesty? He is not the only U.S. stooge that the Palestinian “leaders” meet and coordinate with. Abbas is in Jordan almost weekly to “coordinate” with the other Abdullah! Can anything good come out of all this? Have the Palestinians really learned anything?

Hamas originally attacked, and rightly so, the Oslo agreement and all the structures that resulted from it, including the PA. However, Hamas now insists on being a part of this same illusion of a government which was set up to relieve Israel from the burdens of occupation and to act as Israel’s cop in the occupied areas. Yet Hamas is now lauding this “national unity” as a historic agreement. Say what? The Palestinians are being dishonest with themselves and are following mirages and illusions made possible by empty rhetoric.

The Palestinians swore for two generations that only through resistance and self-reliance they could hope to restore some of their rights. Yet their actions today belie all that. Hamas is observing a unilateral “truce” while Israel proceeds with land confiscations, more colonies, assassinations, daily abduction of scores of Palestinians and the ultimate absorption of all of Palestine. Hamas is even offering a 10-year truce! I think in 10 years there will be nothing left of Palestine.

Ismail Habila Playing Government.

The Real Authority In "Palestinian Authority" Is The U.S. Consul:
Mahmoud Abbas, right, meets with Jacob Walles, the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, left, in his office in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Thursday.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Israeli War Pimp: Attack Iran Now!

Israeli Rightist Warns That Bush’s Iraq Policy Could Hurt Effort To Combat Iran

"Efraim “Effi” Eitam, a leader of Israel’s right-wing Orthodox Zionist camp, is criticizing President Bush’s Iraq policy, saying it could end up undermining efforts to confront Iran.

Eitam, who sits on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and is the leader of the Renewed National Religious Zionist party, spent three days last week in Washington briefing the administration, Congress and think tanks about the Iranian threat. Eitam told the Forward that, during his trip, he criticized Bush’s decision to send more troops to Baghdad and the emphasis that his administration is putting on spreading democracy.

The main concern, Eitam said, is that the continuing presence of American troops in Iraq would make it hard to build support for an American strike against Iran. “The most important commodity we have is the U.S. support for war against Iran, so we need to build on this,” he said. “The administration is unpopular but can still take a strategic decision on Iran. Still, I’m concerned Bush is so committed to Iraq that he will lose the possibility of dealing with Iran.”

Eitam said that Bush’s message to the American public should be that although Iraq was the wrong war, the principle of depriving a rogue state from acquiring nuclear weapons is still a good one. “The wrong target has been shot,” he said. “You get a second chance to shoot the right one…. The original goal of the war in Iraq was WMDs, not democracy, and I tell them this is still true.”.....

During his trip to Washington, Eitam advised his “Iraq-obsessed” interlocutors to redeploy to pro-American countries in the region, reaffirm their commitment to stay in the Middle East and make it clear that they will prevent Tehran from going nuclear. In doing so, he effectively brushed aside the democracy-spreading agenda backed by the administration, and the recent plan to put more American troops into Baghdad to quell the sectarian violence.

Despite tepid public support in America for another military venture in the Middle East, Eitam asserted that he sensed strong bipartisan support in Washington for using all available means to stop Iran’s nuclear program.

Eitam noted that while American intelligence disagreed a year ago with Israel’s assessment that Iran was three to four years away from reaching a critical point, Washington now endorses Jerusalem’s estimates. “Everybody now agrees that we have three to four years before we reach a point where the Iranian project can’t be reversed,” he said. “We are not talking about the time when they will have the knowledge, but when they will have a bomb and the missile to deliver it.”

While he did not openly call for military action, Eitam noted that the Iranian program was currently at a stage where “it is big enough to be understood but small enough to be destroyed.”

Asked about the danger of Iran retaliating against Jerusalem and Washington in the event of a military strike by Israel or the United States, Eitam struck a confident tone. “We have the Arrows system to stop missiles, we are now better prepared to deal with Hezbollah and if the U.S. redeploys in Iraq, it will make the troops safer,” he said. “So what’s the risk of three months of systematic strikes against nuclear facilities, which will end up delaying their program?”

Eitam said that even if Israel were to carry out strikes on its own, it would need American support for refueling, as well as authorization to fly over Iraq and intelligence cooperation. “This is why I tell the Americans that they will be seen as being part of it anyway, which is why they should prepare accordingly,” he said.

The Israeli lawmaker dismissed the claims by pro-American Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan that progress on the Palestinian track would help produce a robust unified front against Tehran. “This is just propaganda,” he said. “They want us to stop the Iranian nuclear program, we don’t need progress on the Palestinian issue. The Saudis should salute us for taking care of this, so this idea that we have to give something to the Palestinians is just rubbish.”

He went on to claim that the Palestinian question was marginal in those countries, and he dismissed the notion that Israeli occupation of the West Bank was inflaming the Arab public throughout the region......

Eitam said that he expected to play a prominent role in any future government headed by Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who leads the Likud party and is a former prime minister. During his first stint as prime minister, Netanyahu upset many settler leaders by agreeing to Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank. But this time, Eitam said, “I will be nearby him.” Eitam added, “He has wounds, and he has matured.”"

حكومة قد تولد برأسين ايضا

عبد الباري عطوان

"من المقرر ان يبدأ اليوم السيد اسماعيل هنية رئيس الوزراء المكلف اتصالاته مع الفصائل الفلسطينية والشخصيات المستقلة من اجل تشكيل حكومة وحدة وطنية أولي مهامها اخراج الشعب الفلسطيني من ازمته السياسية والاقتصادية الخانقة، ولكن كل الدلائل تشير الي ولادة متعسرة لهذه الحكومة، ناهيك عن قدرتها علي تحقيق اهدافها في رفع الحصار.
الحكومة الجديدة في حال تشكيلها ستكون حكومة برأسين، تماماً مثل السلطة، اي سيكون هناك رئيس لها هو السيد هنية يمثل حركة حماس ، ونائب رئيس الوزراء يمثل حركة فتح ، ومن غير المستبعد ان تمتد حالة الاستقطاب الحالية السائدة في الاراضي المحتلة الي الحكومة نفسها، فنري حكومتين داخل الحكومة الواحدة، وزراء يتبعون رئيس الوزراء وآخرين يتبعون نائبه.
الادارة الامريكية، مدعومة بحكومة ايهود اولمرت، وبعض المسؤولين العرب، قد تعمل علي تعميق هذا الاستقطاب، من خلال حصر تعاملها في المستقبل مع وزراء فتح فقط وبعض الوزراء المستقلين، تماماً مثلما فعلت مع حكومة فؤاد السنيورة في لبنان عندما رفضت كل انواع الاتصال بالوزراء الذين يمثلون حزب الله ، والاحزاب اللبنانية الحليفة لسورية والمعادية للسياسات الخارجية الامريكية في المنطقة.
فردود فعل الإدارة الامريكية الرسمية علي اتفاق مكة الذي ادي الي اتفاق حركتي فتح و حماس علي وقف الصدامات الدموية بينهما، وتشكيل حكومة وحدة وطنية جاءت واضحة في رفضه، ونقلت وكالات الانباء تصريحات لمسؤولين امريكيين اكدوا فيها انهم لن يتعاملوا مع الحكومة الجديدة طالما انها رفضت التجاوب مع شروط اللجنة الرباعية الثلاثة الأساسية وهي الاعتراف باسرائيل، ونبذ الارهاب، والالتزام بالاتفاقات الموقعة بين اسرائيل والسلطة الفلسطينية وعلي رأسها اتفاقات اوسلو.
وهذا الرفض الامريكي يعني عملياً عدم رفع الحصار المالي المفروض علي الشعب الفلسطيني، مما سيؤدي الي انهيار الحكومة، وعودة الصدامات بين طرفيها الرئيسيين، واذا حاولت الادارة الامريكية تخفيف موقفها المتشدد هذا نتيجة ضغوط اوروبية وعربية، فانها قد تلجأ الي التعامل مع وزراء فتح فقط، واعتمادهم كقناة لارسال الاموال والمساعدات، الأمر الذي قد يثير غضب حماس ويدفعها الي التفكير في انهاء هذه الشراكة.
نحن نفترض هنا ان الحكومة ستتشكل ونتحدث عما يمكن حدوثه بعد تشكيلها، ولكن احتمالات عدم النجاح في تشكيلها تظل واردة، بسبب العقبات الكبيرة التي ما زالت قائمة في طريقها، ومن ابرزها الاتفاق علي وزير داخلية مقبول للرئيس محمود عباس، ويمكن وضع جميع الاجهزة الامنية الفلسطينية المكونة اساساً من عناصر تدين بالولاء لحركة فتح تحت امرته. وحتي في حال تذليل هذه العقبة، فإن عقبة اخطر تظل عامل تفجير، وهي مستقبل القوة التنفيذية التي أسستها حركة حماس لتكون قواتها الضاربة في مواجهة الاجهزة الامنية الرسمية، بعد رفض السيد عباس اخضاع الاخيرة لسلطة وزير الداخلية سعيد صيام. فهل ستوزع عناصر هذه القوة علي الاجهزة المختلفة، ام ستظل وحدة قائمة بذاتها مثلما تريد حركة حماس ؟ وفي حال الاتفاق علي توزيعها علي الاجهزة، هل ستتولي قياداتها مناصب رئيسية في هذه الاجهزة ام تظل تابعة للقيادات القديمة وكلها من حركة فتح ؟
الاجابة علي هذه الاسئلة الهامة والمشروعة تبدو في ذروة الصعوبة، لانها غير متوفرة في الوقت الراهن، وربما يحتاج السيد هنية الي سلسلة من الحوارات والمشاورات تستغرق اياماً وربما اسابيع قبل التوصل الي اتفاقات حول التفاصيل المتعلقة بكل عقبة من العقبات المطروحة امامه.
اتفاق مكة عكس النوايا الطيبة لدي الطرفين، مثلما عكس حرصهما علي عدم احراج المضيف السعودي، واحترام حرمة المكان، ولكن التطبيق العملي لبنوده الاساسية سيكون صعباً ويحتاج الي معجزة ونحن لسنا في زمن المعجزات للأسف.
الكلمة الفصل في نجاحه او فشله، هي مسألة رفع الحصار المالي، واستخدام الدولة الراعية لنفــــوذها الكبير لدي الولايات المتحدة لتحـــقيق هذا الهدف. ولا توجد اي دلائل تشـــــير حتي الآن الي ما يوحي بأنها تفعل ذلك، او ما يؤكد نجاحها في هذا الخصوص اذا كانت قد استخدمت نفوذها فعلاً.
القيادة السياسية الفلسطينية برأسيها التي اجتمعت في مكة اظهرت الكثير من عدم الخبرة السياسية عندما قدمت الاتفاق الي الشعب الفلسطيني كما لو أنه نهاية آلامه، وخطوة أساسية علي صعيد تحرير فلسطين، مما ادي الي رفع التوقعات والآمال في أوساطه الي معدلات كبيرة، وهي توقعات بدأت تتحول الي خيبات امل بشكل تدريجي، وربما تنقلب الي سخط علي الطرفين في المستقبل القريب اذا لم يعط هذا الاتفاق ثماره علي الارض في الايام القليلة المقبلة.
ولعل ابرز أوجه عدم الخبرة السياسية اطناب رأسي السلطة في المديح بشكل غير مسبوق للقيادة السعودية، وتشبيه العاهل السعودي بالرسول صلي الله عليه وسلم عندما فرد عباءته اثناء رعايته لصلح القبائل العربية.
لقد نسي قادة الشعب الفلسطيني الجدد، بشقيهم المعتدل والمتطرف، انهم يمثلون ثورة وشعبا مقهورا يناضل لتحرير ارضه، عندما نشروا اعلانات مدفوعة في الصحف السعودية تمتدح العاهل السعودي وجهوده في رعايتهم واتفاقهم، وكأنهم مخاتير أو رؤساء عشائر أو مدراء شركات عامة تعمل في السعودية ودول الخليج. فثقافة نشر صفحات التهاني جديدة علي الشعب الفلسطيني، والثوار بشكل عام. فاليوم تنشر صفحات مديح بالعاهل السعودي وغدا بنظيره الاردني، وبعد غد بالزعيم الليبي، والشهر الذي يليه بالرئيس الامريكي او الرئيس الروسي وهكذا، يتحول قادة الشعب الفلسطيني الي جوقة من المداحين، بدءاً من اتفاق لم يجف حبره، ولم يحقق اهدافه بعد.
الحكمة تقتضي ان لا تنحصر المشاورات بين رأسي السلطة حول كيفية تشكيل الحكومة فقط، وانما ايضاً حول كيفية التصرف في حال لم يغير هذا التشكيل، اذا تم التوصل اليه، من واقع الحال شيئاً. فهل نري وقوف حركتي حماس و فتح جنباً الي جنب في مواجهة عدم الاعتراف الامريكي والاسرائيلي، ووضـــع برنامج مشترك للمقاومة والعودة الي الثوابت الوطنية؟
وهل نري اتفاقاً بينهما علي عدم اللجوء مرة أخري الي السلاح في حال فشل المشاورات الحالية، نتيجة تدخلات خارجية وعربية، في تشكيل الحكومة العتيدة؟
نترك الاجابة علي هذه الأسئلة التي تدور حاليا في ذهن كل مواطن فلسطيني داخل الارض المحــــــتلة وخارجها للقيادة الفلسطينية وللأيام المقبلة."

The Pathetic Palestinian Response!
By Emad Hajjaj.
Long live "Palestinian unity" and (king) Abdullah.

Obama Embraces Israel “Security” Mythology

By Kurt Nimmo

"In order to be selected to run as president here in the United States, the field of “hopefuls” must pay homage to Israel, AIPAC, and the “New York money men,” as Wesley Clark has noted. Thus senator Barack Obama recently delivered a speech designed “to remove any doubts that the Democratic Party’s donors and constituents, many of whom are Jewish, may have about his support for Israel,” according to Haaretz.

“My view is that the United States’ special relationship with Israel obligates us to be helpful to them in the search for credible partners with whom they can make peace, while also supporting Israel in defending itself against enemies sworn to its destruction,” said the Illinois Democrat......

In recent years, Israel’s “New Historians,” including Benny Morris, Ilan Pappé, Avi Shlaim, and Tom Segev, have systematically dissected these convenient myths, although predictably their conclusions—most notably the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, Israel’s military superiority over its Arab neighbors, and the indisputable fact it is primarily to blame for the absence of peace in the region—have endured consistent and repeated criticism from historians and corporate media scribes shucking the official mythology.

For Obama and the Democratic leadership, these criticisms are not only anathema, they are indeed almost entirely nonexistent in a political milieu dominated by AIPAC and the “New York money men.”

As Shmuel Rosner writes for Haaretz, the so-called “Israel Factor” panelists—including Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs—need “more time to trust him,” that is to say they are waiting for an unequivocal endorsement of the Israeli state from Obama. “A position paper outlining Obama’s views is in the making, and will be distributed to as many Jewish voters as possible,” writes Rosner.

Obama is not finished, not by a long stretch, Rosner tells us. “This week I was told that while the venue has yet to be selected, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs conference in Washington at the end of February is one possibility. There’s also a chance that he will make his comments on Israel at a Washington rally calling for the release of the abducted Israeli soldiers [i.e., captured on the Lebanese side of the border] or while speaking to a group of Chicago Jews. One thing is quite clear: It will happen in the next two to three weeks.” "

Blackmailing Bush; how the "Dear Leader" conned "The Decider"

By Mike Whitney

"The Bush foreign policy is predicated on one simple axiom: “We will stop the world’s most dangerous men from getting their hands on the world’s most dangerous weapons”. By that standard, Bush’s dealings with North Korea have been a wretched failure. After 6 years of fruitless saber rattling and belligerence, the North detonated a nuclear bomb in early October and put region on notice that there’s a new member in the nuclear weapons club......

Additionally, Vice President Cheney delivered a blunt warning to Kim in a speech he delivered early last year. He said, “We don’t negotiate with evil; we defeat it.”

What could be clearer?

Given the administration’s blatant hostility, Kim Jung Il did what any leader would do if they were facing a similar existential threat; he developed a credible deterrent to US aggression, nuclear weapons. His research was undoubtedly hurried along by Bush’s bellicosity.

Immediately following October’s nuclear blast, the Bush administration reversed its policy and sent a messenger to the North Korean Embassy to see if they would be willing to conduct secret “bilateral” negotiations in Berlin. Bush was desperately trying to avoid the appearance that he had completely caved in on a matter of principle, but the facts are not in dispute. Bush’s sudden U-turn is just another unfortunate humiliation for the country.

The Bush public relations team is trying to spin the new agreement as a “breakthrough”. But there is no breakthrough. Bush has capitulated on all the main issues. It’s a terrible deal and that’s why so many conservatives are enraged and spewing their anger in the newspapers.

The agreement will remove the North from the State Department’s list of terrorist states and provide 50,000 tons of fuel oil just for shutting down its Yongbyon reactor. But that won’t address the north’s clandestine nuclear program or Kim’s nuclear weapons stockpile. In fact, these are not even on the table!

Just months ago Bush rejected the same deal saying, “We will never agree to blackmail”. My, how things change once a country gets nukes.

The present agreement is worse than the “Agreed Framework” which was initiated by Bill Clinton in 1994 and which was universally repudiated by Republicans and the conservative think tanks. Nicholas Eberstadt of the far-right American Enterprise Institute summarized it like this:

“This is substantially worse than the Agreed Framework… The (original) agreement attempted to freeze everything that we knew about the DPRK’s activities and probe their good faith. Now, we have agreed to a deal that only freezes part, at most, of North Korea’s nuclear activities for a much higher price then the earlier agreement, with a regime that we know operates in bad faith on nuclear deals.”

Eberstadt is right. Every part of the agreement favors the North. The United States and its allies will have to provide 50,000 tons of fuel oil just for the privilege of sitting down at the bargaining table with the DPRK diplomats. Shutting down Yongbyon is utterly meaningless; that doesn’t tell us where the secret uranium enrichment program is located and that is the fuel-source for the Kim’s nuclear weapons.

There’s no chance that the administration will persuade the North to “denuclearize” (the administration’s word du jour). Kim knows that the real objective of US policy is regime change and that guarantees that he will never give up his nukes. Instead, he plans to use the upcoming negotiations as a means of extorting more concessions from Bush and the allies. Next, he’s expected to demand electrical power from South Korea, additional food and medicine, and the light-water reactor which was promised by Clinton. All the while, his nukes will remain safely tucked away beyond reach; his only real bargaining chip.

The real danger in Bush’s policy-turnabout is the message that it sends to Iran and any other country who wants to improve its prospects vis a vis the United States. If Iran had any doubts that it needs nuclear weapons to fend off the US; those doubts have been removed.

Bush’s blundering foreign policy has dealt a withering blow to nuclear nonproliferation and paved the way for a 21st century arms race. This is a bad deal all around and only underscores one basic truism:

Blackmail works."

U.S. warned Abbas on unity government

"JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The United States has warned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that peace talks with Israel will go nowhere if his Fatah faction forms a unity government with Hamas, diplomats and Palestinian officials said on Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington was reserving judgement on the new government until it was formed, and denied in a television interview that the United States had already decided to boycott all ministers in the government.

The diplomats and officials said the warning was delivered to Abbas on Thursday, tightening diplomatic pressure on the Palestinian leader ahead of his meeting on Monday with Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

"The Americans told (Abbas) they will boycott the government, sanctions will not be lifted, and peace moves will not develop as planned," one diplomat in the region said. A Palestinian official confirmed his comments......

Speaking alongside Abbas on Thursday night, Haniyeh did not say whether Hamas would drop its refusal to recognise the Jewish state, renounce violence and accept existing peace agreements as the Quartet of Middle East mediators demand.

In an interview with Al Arabiya television, Rice said the government must meet Quartet conditions, adding: "There is no government so far and we will not judge it before its formation."

But Palestinian officials say that privately Washington has been piling pressure on Abbas over the unity deal agreed a week ago in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, telling him it does not meet the Quartet's requirements.

Rice is due to hold a three-way summit with Abbas and Olmert in Jerusalem on Monday, which had been billed as the start of a renewed U.S. effort to try to broker a Middle East peace deal.


"Abbas faces a crisis with this new U.S. position," a Palestinian official said.

He said the Palestinian leader would try to persuade Rice that his deal with Hamas was a "first positive step" to bringing the Islamist group into the mainstream, and that he -- not the government -- was responsible for the peace talks.

Speaking to Palestinian television after he asked Haniyeh to form the government, Abbas said the Palestinian Authority was "fully committed" to existing agreements with Israel. "He has reiterated his position ... as a message that he can deliver on peace moves," the official said.

Western diplomats said Washington's goal was to dissuade Fatah members and independents, including economist Salam Fayyad who had been expected to take the finance portfolio, from joining the new government.

One diplomat said the pressure could backfire, giving Fayyad and others little choice but to join the government. "There is too much internal pressure," said one diplomat familiar with the discussions.

Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo urged the United States to deal with the government, lift the sanctions, and relaunch serious peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. "They want Abbas to take actions that lead to a civil war -- to protect past agreements that the Israelis have destroyed," he said. Factional warfare in Gaza in the two months leading up to the Mecca agreement had killed 90 Palestinians.

Palestinian officials said they had hoped Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally, would persuade the Americans not to reject the unity government deal out of hand. "If the Americans are serious about advancing peace moves they must give this government a chance," Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said. "This unity government enjoys support of all the Arabs, and the U.S. refusal to deal with such a government would be a challenge to the Arab consensus."


"the U.S. refusal to deal with such a government would be a challenge to the Arab consensus."

I am sure that Condoleezza is trembling with fear of the "Arab consensus." What about the more important (to Condoleezza) "Arab consensus" against Iran? That is the only consensus she cares about, everything else is just horse manure.

Putting Black Faces on Imperial Aggression

Powell, Rice and Obama


".....African Americans will pay a special, historical price if a corporate-molded Black politician becomes the titular leader of an unreconstructed U.S. imperial state - and, make no mistake about it, Barack Obama is an imperialist. No one but a deep-fried imperialist could describe U.S. behavior in Iraq as "coddling" the Iraqis, as Obama said to an establishment foreign policy gathering in Chicago, late last year. His Iraq War De-escalation Act, carefully calibrated to make him appear slightly less belligerent than Hillary Clinton, allows the U.S. to wage war until March 31, 2008, at the very least, and to maintain a military presence in the country thereafter. It is a sham measure, more helpful in buying time for Bush than in encouraging effective dissent......

It is difficult to imagine such differentiations being made on foreign shores, today. General Colin Powell emerged from Gulf War One as the personification of American military might - and threat. As George Bush's Secretary of State, Powell sacrificed his reputation - and an immeasurable portion of remaining African American planetary good will - in a lie-soaked justification of the impending invasion of Iraq before the United Nations.

Colin Powell became the Black face of international piracy, to be succeeded by Condoleezza Rice. In her first act as the Black American female face of imperial aggression, in April, 2002, then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice could not contain her disappointment at the failure of a U.S.-backed coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. "We do hope that Chávez recognizes that the whole world is watching," she sneered, "and that he takes advantage of this opportunity to right his own ship, which has been moving, frankly, in the wrong direction for quite a long time."......

From Beirut to Caracas, Condoleezza Rice is the Black, snarling symbol of U.S. lawlessness - a perception of our African American "daughter" that the NAACP must not have anticipated when it bestowed on her its Image Award, in early 2002. Back then, Rice told the civil rights group's gala affair: "As I travel with President Bush around the world and as we meet with leaders from around the world, I see America through other people's eyes."

African Americans, who care so much for image - some, to the exclusion of all else - should contemplate what the ascension of a Black face to the Oval Office will mean to world perceptions of Black Americans as a group. Would Barack Obama be a worse international criminal than Hillary Clinton? My guess is, they'd function identically, as stewards of empire. But a Barack Obama presidency would leave an unindelible impression on the planet: The Blacks of the United States have arrived! They, too, are "ugly Americans." "

In Iraq, Anyone Can Make a Bomb

All You Need is a Machine Shop, Not an International Conspiracy


"President Bush has now definitively stated that bombs known as explosively formed penetrators - EFPs, which have proved especially deadly for U.S. troops in Iraq - are made in Iran and exported to Iraq. But in November, U.S. troops raiding a Baghdad machine shop came across a pile of copper disks, 5 inches in diameter, stamped out as part of what was clearly an ongoing order. This ominous discovery, unreported until now, makes it clear that Iraqi insurgents have no need to rely on Iran as the source of EFPs.

The truth is that EFPs are simple to make for anyone who knows how to do it. Far from a sophisticated assembly operation that might require state supervision, all that is required is one of those disks, some high-powered explosive (which is easy to procure in Iraq) and a container, such as a piece of pipe. I asked a Pentagon analyst specializing in such devices how much each one would cost to make. "Twenty bucks," he answered after a brief calculation. "Thirty at most."

EFPs work by using explosives to compress, melt and shoot a metal projectile - formed from those disks, molded in a concave shape - in a particular direction. They are feared above all else by troops in Iraq because not only can they punch a hole through the armor of an M-1 tank, they are small and light, and thus far easier to carry and plant undetected than the traditional Iraqi improvised explosive device, which is often made from hefty artillery shells.

"You can do as much or more damage with a 5-pound EFP, which is aimed, as with a 200-pound conventional IED, where most of the energy is dissipated away from the target," the Pentagon analyst said. The U.S. has (belatedly) responded to the IED threat by "up-armoring" Humvees and other vulnerable vehicles, but EFPs can cleave through the very thickest armor "like butter," as one Iraq veteran told me.

As of now, these weapons represent only a small fraction of the bombs used against U.S. forces. Last month, according to my Pentagon sources, out of 3,000 IEDs directed at occupation troops, only 2.5% were EFPs. But a further statistic explains why these particular weapons are so feared by soldiers encased in their armored vehicles: Despite the relatively tiny number deployed, since November they have accounted for fully 15% of U.S. bomb casualties, and that percentage is ticking up. Anyone pondering the implications of this trend need only look to the Israeli experience in Lebanon during the 1990s to see where it might end. "These bombs drove the Israelis out of Lebanon," a former Pentagon weapons-effects expert told me unequivocally.

Hezbollah's expertise with EFPs is one reason why the administration, despite minimal intelligence, has been quick to blame Hezbollah's Iranian allies for the proliferation of the devices in Iraq. But EFPs have a venerable history. The IRA used them with lethal effect against British troops in Northern Ireland, as did French resistance fighters against the Germans in World War II. It is only a question of time before someone shows the Taliban how to make them, and then NATO forces in Afghanistan will begin the same ordeal.

Despite their known lethality, these weapons weren't taken into account by former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's program of military "transformation." Indeed, Rumsfeld bequeathed the Army the Future Combat Systems, a $168-billion extravaganza of computers, sensors and robots deemed by its proponents so deadly to a foe that armor on U.S. military vehicles might be dispensed with altogether.

Once it became impossible to ignore the threat of all kinds of "home-made" bombs, and EFPs in particular, Rumsfeld responded in orthodox fashion by throwing money at the problem.

A "joint IED defeat" task force was created to address the issue, and last year it was granted $3.32 billion, but with little result. True, each Humvee patrolling Iraqi roads now carries two specially designed jammers, costing $100,000 apiece, that jam radio signals detonating roadside bombs. The other side has simply switched to wire detonators or infrared systems. One hundred towers spouting remote cameras, at $12 million each, watch main roads for bomb planters, with no improvement in attack and casualty statistics.

Rumsfeld's mentor, defense intellectual Andrew Marshall, marketed the phrase "revolution in military affairs" as a justification for high-tech programs such as Future Combat Systems. But those copper disks represent the real revolution in military affairs, and it is not in our favor."

Sayyed Nasrallah stresses full support to army; Opposition will eventually triumph

Al-Manar special report

"Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah made a speech during the annual commemoration of the martyrdom of former Secretary General Sayyed Abbas Mussawi and Shiekh Ragheb Harb. His eminence said that Israel was defeated in Lebanon in the first war launched by the Zionist entity against an Arab country in collusion with some Arab countries, and the first such war on an Arab country whose people were abandoned, but despite that they triumphed.

Sayyed Nasrallah addresses martyr Sayyed Abbas and martyr Sheikh Harb saying that the resistance has preserved their will and it has survived and triumphed. He said Hezbollah will not forgive Lebanese authorities for seizing resistance weapons.

"We will not forgive anyone who confiscates a bullet from the arms of the resistance. We are ready to provide the army with all the weapons that it requires but with our consent, but we will not forgive anyone who confiscates a bullet," he said.

Sayyed Nasrallah said "we have plenty of weapons, of all kinds ... and we have the right to transport our arms to combat Israel, even if we transport them in secret to hide them from the Israeli enemy.

When we won the war against Israel, we were not fighting with wooden swords, but we were launching rockets and missiles at the enemy." "The Resistance will always stand by the Lebanese army, with our weapons, men and blood to defend Lebanon, and no will succeed in causing a rift between the resistance and the army" he said. "Resistance fighters in Maroun el-Ras were ready to interfere to support the Lebanese army in case of any further development, our blood and our youth will stand by the army," he said.

His eminence touched on the internal situation and said that every time progress is made to settle the crisis, new files are opened to cause further obstruction to the process.

"We, in the opposition, have had many clear proposals and we have been committed to the red lines which we have set for ourselves while others are ringing the bell of civil war, so this is a battle of public opinion. Let the people decide who really wants to take the country towards civil war and who benefits from this war," Sayyed Hasan said. The Secretary General stressed the opposition does not want to take the country into civil war. "When we were shot at on Tuesday and Thursday, we reacted with wisdom and patience." Sayyed Nasrallah commented on the speeches made during the annual commemoration of the assassination of former Prime Minister martyr Rafik Hariri.

"We have witnessed a couple of days ago the level of speech which evokes fear and worry. Does this language of insults and slander put an end to the crisis in this country," his eminence said.

Sayyed Nasrallah said that there are some in this country who are causing problems for Lebanon for personal ends. "There are some who are sacrificing this country for their personal interests, not for their party and not for anything else," He added.

Sayyed Nasrallah insisted that he will not be a part in any bilateral meeting nor will he negotiate, not because he does not want to, but because Hezbollah trusts its allies in the national opposition.

"They are insisting that the opposition is led by Hezbollah and they are trying to establish this equation, but this is not true. Let them negotiate with any leadership in the opposition and be sure that they represent us as much as they represent themselves."

Sayyed Hassan said that the problem is that there are foreign sides which do not want a solution in Lebanon, "and unfortunately there are internal sides who don't want this as well," his eminence added. He stressed the opposition will not despair and it still have a wide margin to move to achieve its goal of forming a national unity government and hold early elections. "As I have said before, you cannot rule this country alone. The opposition never said it is seeking to eliminate you from the country's political map, but it said that it wants a partnership."

Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted the issue of what has been known in Lebanon as the "predictions of some politicians".

"There are some who are predicting military action against the UNIFIL in south Lebanon, and in fact they are preparing for such attacks to point the finger at Hezbollah. There are some politicians who are trying to create tension between the resistance and the UNIFIL. We don't have a problem with the UN forces and we don't oppose their presence. We are in contact with the countries taking part in the UN forces and they are positively considering with our remarks. We have to work through diplomatic channels to prevent any problem to develop between the UNIFIL and the southerners," his eminence said.

Hezbollah's Secretary General concluded: "In the memory of our two dear leaders, we stress our commitment to the resistance to protect this country. Every iota of blood constitutes a drop of blood from a martyr. Hezbollah is capable of being everywhere, in the south and in Beirut, to struggle for rightness in every field. Hezbollah and its allies are capable today of saving our country and we will not despair. What is going now is a continuation of the Israeli summer war against Lebanon. They have stood since the first of November because of the foreign support, but such support cannot keep the ruling bloc in place forever. As I promised you earlier, I renew my promise that the opposition will achieve its goal and it will triumph." "

The Palestinians Deserve Much Better Than These Buffoons. On Second Thought, Do They?

The Budding Romance Between Saudi Arabia and Israel

Saudi Prince Walid Bin Talal is negotiating with Israelis to build a hotel on Tel Aviv Shore, according to the Israeli paper Yediot Aharanot in its Thursday edition.

Contributed by Fatima

"الناصرة ـ القدس العربي ـ من زهير اندراوس:
كشفت صحيفة يديعوت احرونوت الاسرائيلية في عددها الصادر امس الخميس النقاب عن أن الامير السعودي، الوليد بن طلال، يجري اتصالات مع جهات إسرائيلية تهدف الي إقامة فندق علي شاطئ تل ابيب.
واضاف المراسل الاقتصادي للصحيفة عوفر بيترسبورغ، أن الحديث يدور عن مشروع مشترك لعائلة أبو العافية، وهي من مدينة يافا، التي تملك مبني في شارع هربرت سموئيل علي شاطئ تل ابيب. وحسب المخطط سيقام فندق مكون من ثمانية طوابق وفيه مئة وخمسون غرفة.
واكدت الصحيفة ان مهندسين الاول عربي يواكب الامير في جميع مشاريعه ويدعي باسل البيطي، والثاني هو المهندس السابق لبلدية تل ابيب، اسرائيل غودوفيتش، قدما الي لجنة التخطيط اللوائية التابعة للبلدية جميع الخرائط المتعلقة بالمشروع المشترك بين الامير السعودي وبين العائلة الفلسطينية.
ورفضت عائلة ابو العافية الفلسطينية الحديث عن الصفقة الجديدة مع الامير السعودي، ولكن احد افرادها خميس قال في وقت لاحق، بعد ان تتم المصادقة الكاملة علي المشروع فانه سيقوم بالافصاح عن العديد من الامور الايجابية في الصفقة، علي حد تعبيره. بالاضافة الي ذلك قالت الصحيفة الاسرائيلية انها حصلت علي الاسبقية في نشر مقابلة مطولة مع نجل الامير الوحيد خالد، (28 عاما) التي ادلي بها لمجلة فوربس باللغة العربية، وقال خالد انه يقوم بتطوير العلاقات بين والده وبين الدولة العبرية، واضاف قائلا انه يريد ان يصل الي النجاح والعصامية دون استعمال اسم والده، الذي يعتبر من اغنياء العالم، حيث تبوأ المكان الثامن في قائمة الاثرياء في العالم.
وقالت الصحيفة الاسرائيلية ايضا انه علي الرغم من ان اسم الامير السعودي لا يذكر في وسائل الاعــلام، الا انه وفق المصادر الاسرائيلية شارك في بناء فندق الفصول الاربعة (فور سيزونز) في القدس الغربية."

Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's departing ambassador to the United States, attended a Washington reception sponsored by American Jewish organizations. The event honored a State Department diplomat appointed to combat anti-Semitism.

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you support Hamas' recognition of Israel to end the crisis?

With over 1,500 responding so far, here is the breakdown:



(Amjad Rasmi, Arab News, 2/15/07).

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)
By Tom Toles

The High-Fivers

More proof the Israelis were shadowing the 9/11 hijackers

By Justin Raimondo

".....Ketcham, utilizing the public record, news reports, and his own sources, has painted the clearest portrait yet of the "urban mover" Mossad cell, and how they shadowed the five hijackers who took over American Airlines flight 77, which struck the Pentagon to such devastating effect. Living, working, and socializing within a six-mile radius of Bergen County, these two groups circled each other until, on 9/11, as a dark pall fell over Manhattan and much of the rest of the world, one applauded the others’ handiwork.

Ketcham’s story of how the FBI investigation was scotched by high-ups ought to outrage every patriotic American citizen. He cites a source at ABC News – which covered this story on 20/20 in a treatment I consider a whitewash – as saying "They feel the higher echelons torpedoed the investigation into the Israeli New Jersey cell. Leads were not fully investigated."......

The story of how this line of investigation was suppressed, both in the law enforcement community and in the media, is a saga in itself. I know that Ketcham worked on this story long and hard, and had supposedly firm commitments from both and The Nation to publish his work. Both projects were killed at the last minute, in one case an hour before it was scheduled to run. What’s particularly stupid, in the case of Salon, is that they ran his previous piece, on the "Israeli Art Student Mystery," years ago – and now refuse to follow up their own story.

As for why the government investigation into the Israeli connection was scotched, Ketcham cites a former CIA counter-terrorism officer: "There was no question but that [the order to close down the investigation] came from the White House."

I have to tell you that it hasn’t been easy following this story over the years. I was told in the beginning, and in no uncertain terms, that this line of investigation is forbidden, that it’s "too hot to handle," and, implicitly, that the truth and the facts have to take second place to political correctness. To even mention this story, in certain quarters, is considered prima facie evidence of anti-Semitism. Case closed.

In spite of a determined effort on the part of some to redefine anti-Semitism to constrain critics of Israeli government actions, there is an equally determined pushback – a real movement to treat Israel as a nation like any other. That is, as a nation with its own interests, which, if truth be told, it pursues aggressively, and not only in the occupied territories and Lebanon, but also right here in the U.S. The story of Israel’s underground army in America – and its foreknowledge of the 9/11 terrorist attacks – is based on facts, not fantasies, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Semitism – and everything to do with establishing the full context of the worst terrorist attack in our history.

9/11 was the opening shot of a battle we are still fighting to this day, as our soldiers fall in Iraq, and the hints of a new front in our endless "war on terrorism" – Iran – are hardly subtle. That signal event launched the war hysteria that has only lately begun to peter out.

One of the major reasons why the public has turned against the Iraq war has been the revelation that the "intelligence" we acquired about Iraq’s alleged "weapons of mass destruction" was manipulated, cherry-picked, and outright falsified in order to make the case for the invasion. If it turns out that the Israelis really did know – that they picked up "chatter" from the groups they were watching, and gained fairly detailed knowledge of the hijackers’ plans – it will alter how we think about 9/11, and change our perception of the perpetual war that ensued.

Go here to order the Ketcham piece, which is not yet online. You can only get it on dead-tree, but, believe me, it’s worth it......"

Neo-cons pull their punches on Iran

By Jim Lobe
Asia Times

"WASHINGTON - For several weeks now, Washington has been abuzz with rumors that US President George W Bush is preparing to attack nuclear and other sites in Iran this spring - rumors deemed sufficiently credible that lawmakers from both parties are hastily preparing legislation precisely to prevent such an eventuality.

The evidence cannot be ignored.....

Nonetheless, to the extent that neo-cons - and their allies in the right-wing "Israel Lobby" - are addressing themselves to Iran policy at the moment, expanding and enforcing sanctions, rather than imminent war, appears to be the main message.....

Similarly, television ads by the neo-conservative American Foreign Policy Council running on the major cable television networks in the Washington area warn about Iran's nuclear program, its status as "the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism", its president's alleged Holocaust denial and threats to "wipe Israel off the map", but conclude with the relatively anodyne exhortation: "Call the White House and tell them to enforce sanctions against Iran today." Not exactly what one would expect on the eve of a military attack.

This tack may simply be a ruse to lull anti-war forces into complacency. Or it may reflect a fear that, given their record on Iraq, beating the drums for war with Iran may prove counter-productive (although the AEI has not hesitated to take credit for the "surge" option). Or it may indicate that prominent neo-cons have somehow lost touch with the hawks in the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's office who are now determined to attack Iran this spring.

But it may also reflect the neo-cons' assessment, based no doubt on inside information, that Bush - who spoke about US policy on Afghanistan at the AEI on Thursday - intends to let the diplomatic game play out a little longer - perhaps as long as another year - before deciding to attack. "

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Dr. Mona El-Farra: Latest From Gaza

Gaza today after few days of palestinian fight

"It is a nice sunny warm morning. I thought it would be a good idea to let you know a little bit about the general mood here in Gaza.

Yes, it is calm in the streets of Gaza, but Israeli F-16s are back flying too low in the sky as well as some helicopters to the east of the town of Gaza.

After the tough days of the Palestinian inter-fighting in the streets of Gaza, people feel relieved but not sure of the future. We had a rough time during the clashes. I feel relieved but also really sad about the 76 people who lost their lives and the 400 more who were injured. It is awuful when you think how politics and power struggles can use people ordinary poor people. Many people and youth were part of the fight just because they are paid in the end of the month; a secure job to be in the so called "army" or Hamas forces.

And then with a political agreement all of a sudden there is no fighting in the streets. OK, it is great that the fighting has stopped. But why did it start in the first place?

Mecca is the sacred place. Where was all that one week ago when there was bloodshed in the streets of Gaza and when the HOLY ambulances, hospitals, mosques, and universities were attacked?

Life continues in Gaza and another chapter has started. The new national unity goverment has formed but with great polarization between the 2 largest factions and at the exclusion of the mainstream of different factions, the independent people, and civil society figures. So when power in the streets is the judge and when the place of negotiation is Mecca whose leaders glorify the US's agenda, especially in the Middle East, I can only expect the worst for the Palestinian national agenda. I cannot help thinking that we would not need to go to Mecca to agree if there was a real national agenda.

I shall continue my work in Gaza, my struggle against the occupation, and keep reminding myself and the world that the peacemaker of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is the Right of Return and peace that is based on justice.

In solidarity and love

Catalogue of provocations

Israel's encroachments upon the Al-Aqsa Mosque have not been sporadic, but, rather, a systematic endeavour

By Khaled Amayreh
Al-Ahram Weekly

"When Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, the Israeli army's chief rabbi, General Shlomo Goren, tried to convince a commander of the conquering forces, Uzi Narkis, to blow up Al-Aqsa Mosque "once and for all". This story was retold by Narkis shortly before his death in 1997 and quoted by Avi Shlaim in his important book, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World.

"There was an atmosphere of spiritual elation. Paratroopers were milling around in a daze. Narkis was standing for a moment on his own, deep in thought, when Goren went up to him and said 'Uzi, this is the time to put a hundred kilogrammes of explosives in the Mosque of Omar, and that's it. We'll get rid of it once and for all.' Narkis said 'Rabbi, stop it.' Goren then said to him, 'Uzi, you'll enter the history books by virtue of this deed.' Narkis replied, 'I have already recorded my name in the pages of the history of Jerusalem.' Goren walked away without saying another word."

Goren re-entered the Haram Al-Sharif esplanade on 15 August 1967, in military uniform along with two-dozen soldiers from the Israeli army, in order to take measurements of its length and width. Afterwards, Goren announced where the Jewish "Second Temple" would be positioned. Two weeks after this incident, the Israeli occupation army seized the key to the Moroccan Gate leading to Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Four days after the seizure of East Jerusalem, Israeli army bulldozers wantonly demolished the Maghariba and Al-Sharaf neighbourhoods, levelling them to the ground. The Palestinian inhabitants of the two neighbourhoods were expelled unceremoniously at gunpoint. At least 135 houses, two mosques, and two religious schools were completely destroyed.

In April 1968, Israel confiscated the Haret Al-Maghariba for "public use" and built on the site a large plaza in front of the so-called "Wailing" or "Western Wall". The Haret Al-Maghariba and the adjacent smaller Haret Al-Sharaf, which was also obliterated, were both Islamic waqf (religious endowment) property dating back to the Kurdish Muslim warrior Salaheddin Al-Ayoubi who defeated the Crusaders and restored Jerusalem to Islam......."

In place of appeasement

It is not among the duties of resistance movements to court popularity from outside powers

By Azmi Bishara
Al-Ahram Weekly

"For a people either rootless or under occupation, the Palestinians have made more than their share of diplomatic initiatives. The norm, one would think, would be for an occupied people to fight for liberation until they win or else maintain resistance, compelling the international community or the occupying power to come up with solutions to situations that are no longer tenable. The norm, then, is for the resistance to either accept the proposals and throw down its arms, or to reject them and keep on fighting until it is presented with more reasonable ones. The actions of the resistance, moreover, are presumed to be guided throughout by a central aim: liberation and the realisation of self-determination.

In the Palestinian case we see the reverse: they have come up with so many initiatives and proposals that the Palestinians, themselves, find it difficult to recall the aims of their struggle; not only the original aim but the latest one too. In the process they have lost the distinction between strategies and tactics, between tactics and self-deception, and between tactical goals and pleasing others. Not that their attempts to please others have been very successful; rather, they have whetted the appetite of others, who believe such attempts that are a sign of weakness, to up their demands. Israel will never agree to Palestinian ideas because it finds them pleasing; it will agree only if implementing these ideas suits its interests or if it is forced to agree. For example, when suicide bombings reached their height during the second Intifada, Israeli capital and big business forced their government to choose between resuming the peace process until a settlement could be reached or building the separating wall. The government chose the wall.

The Palestinians and Arabs have put forward more than enough initiatives and proposals for settlements and interim phases. Israel has consistently refused to take them up; clearly, it is waiting for more, undoubtedly out of the conviction that with every new proposal the ceiling of demands will lower....."

Palestinian "Unity"; Enjoy!

Breakdown At The Iraq Lie Factory

By Robert Dreyfuss

"It was, President Bush must have been thinking, a heck of a lot easier five years ago. Back in 2002, the president had a smoothly running lie factory humming along in the Pentagon, producing reams of fake intelligence about Iraq, led by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith and his Office of Special Plans. Back then, he had a tightly knit cabal of neoconservatives, led by I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, based in Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, to carry out a coordinated effort to distribute the lies to the media. And he had a chorus of yes-men in the Republican-controlled Congress ready to echo the party line.
In 2007, Bush stands nearly alone, and he never looked lonelier than during a bumbling, awkward news conference on the Iraq-Iran tangle Wednesday.

Feith is long gone, and last week his lie factory was exposed by the Pentagon’s own inspector general, who told Congress that Feith had pretty much made up everything that his rogue intelligence unit manufactured. Libby is long gone, apparently about to be sentenced to jail for lying about Cheney’s frantic effort to cover up the lie factory’s work. And the congressional echo chamber is gone: In six weeks, the Democrats have held more than four dozen hearings to investigate the White House’s catastrophic Middle East policy, and even Hillary Clinton is warning that Bush had better keep his hands off Iran, saying: “It would be a mistake of historical proportions if the administration thought that the 2002 resolution authorizing force against Iraq was a blank check for the use of force against Iran.”

Without his Orwellian apparatus behind him, the president spent most of his hour-long news conference yesterday shrugging and smirking, jutting his jaw out with false bravado, joshing inappropriately with reporters asking deadly serious questions and stumbling over his words. It was painful to listen to him trying to justify the nonsensical claims that Iran and its paramilitary “Quds Force” are somehow responsible for the chaos in Iraq:

What we do know is that the Quds force was instrumental in providing these deadly IEDs to networks inside of Iraq. We know that. And we also know that the Quds force is a part of the Iranian government. That's a known. What we don't know is whether or not the head leaders of Iran ordered the Quds force to do what they did.

Pressed about what the “head leaders” are doing, he went on:

Either they knew or didn't know, and what matters is, is that they're there. What's worse, that the government knew or that the government didn't know? … What’s worse, them ordering it and it happening, or them not ordering it and it happening?

If that makes no sense to you, well, that’s because the whole thing makes no sense. It’s a farcical replay of Iraq 2002, when the White House demonized Saddam Hussein with fake intelligence, turning him into a menacing al-Qaida backer armed with weapons of mass destruction. This time, however, the lie factory has been dismantled. All by himself, the president is trying to turn Iran into a scary, al-Qaida-allied, nuke-wielding menace. But he’s not fooling anyone. The potent “war president” of 2002-2003 is now an incoherent, mewling Wizard of Oz-like figure, and people are paying attention to the man behind the curtain.

Unlike 2002, when the White House fired salvo after salvo of fake intelligence about Iraq, today it can’t even stage its lies properly. Like the incompetents who couldn’t organize a two-car funeral, the remaining Iran war hawks in the administration held a briefing in Baghdad on Sunday to present alleged evidence that Iran is masterminding the insurgency in Iraq. But it was a comedy of errors that convinced no one. Twice, at least, the administration had earlier postponed or canceled the much-promoted event, designed to reveal the supposed secrets behind Iran’s actions in Iraq. When it was finally held, it was not in Washington, but in Baghdad, with not a single White House official, no U.S. diplomat, no State Department official, no CIA official and no one from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Instead, a couple of anonymous military officers held a background-only briefing, barring cameras and tape recorders, to present some blurry photographs of bomb-looking things—and not a shred of evidence of Iranian government involvement......"

Guards Of Israel's Palestinian Prisons

The Rules of Imperial Management

UN Peacekeeping Paramilitarism


"......UNIFIL Blue Helmets in Lebanon

Israel attacked and invaded Lebanon last July 12 following Hezbollah's cross-border incursion that was used as a pretext to ignite pre-planned aggression against the country and its people. The result was mass killing, crippling destruction, and a huge refugee problem all without Israel achieving its planned aim - to destroy Hezbollah resistance in South Lebanon. It proved too much for the world's fifth most powerful military equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry courtesy of the most powerful Washington-based one.

UNIFIL was established to restore and maintain peace in South Lebanon one week after Israel's invasion of the country in March, 1978. It's been there since including throughout the period from 1982 when Israel again invaded and remained until withdrawing its forces in May, 2000. Despite its mandate, UNIFIL never established peace and security and did little more than take up space allowing the IDF free reign to control everything on the ground along with its proxy Christian South Lebanon Army acting as paramilitary enforcer thugs of a largely Shia Muslim population.

"Proxy" describes UNIFIL's current role in Lebanon that has little to do with keeping peace and everything to do with being NATO's Israel enforcer. In that role, it can engage Hezbollah in confrontation if it chooses and do Israel's fighting and dying for it. It also represents a continuation of nearly three decades of "peacekeeping" failure in South Lebanon. The current one won't work any better than all efforts preceding it because UNIFIL is beholden to Israel, the US and NATO and will follow their mandate having nothing to do with peace and stability and everything to do with imperial control and dominance. The people of South Lebanon know all about UNIFIL's "benefits," but you won't hear them say thank you....."

The hot-air summit


"Yitzhak Rabin would probably have called the three-way summit that will convene on Monday in Jerusalem by a term he favored, "bablat" (roughly "hot air"). Because nothing will come of this summit. Not peace negotiations, not a diplomatic agreement, and if Condoleezza Rice does not bang on the table, no easing of restrictions for the Palestinians either.

Ehud Olmert can enjoy the innovative aspect of a meeting with Rice and Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), or of staying at a hotel in Jerusalem instead of on the shores of the Red Sea, as in the days of his predecessors. But what about Abu Mazen, who for years has been dragging from summit to summit and repeatedly hearing those same declarations about "beginning the negotiations" and about a better future? In May 1996, Abu Mazen headed the Palestinian delegation to the opening ceremony of the final status talks in Taba. At the time, he called for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, and for a "just" solution to the refugee problem. Uri Savir, the head of the Israeli delegation, responded with a vague proposal about "separation between the nations, with the aim of achieving cooperation." Without borders, without refugees, without Jerusalem.

Exactly the same talk was heard prior to the present summit. As though nothing had happened in the 11 years that have since passed: neither Camp David nor the intifada and the suicide attacks, neither the disengagement nor the rise of Hamas. Abu Mazen continues to talk about a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, and the changing Israeli leaders respond with vague slogans about a "diplomatic horizon."....

And then came the "Mecca agreement" to form a national unity government between Fatah and Hamas, saving Olmert from great embarrassment. Abu Mazen embraced Khaled Meshal and proved, as Olmert has been claiming since the beginning of his term, that there is no partner on the Palestinian side. Rice insisted on coming to Jerusalem, and Olmert declared that he would turn the summit into a field trial. Ariel Sharon used to preach to Abbas that he should fight terror, and Olmert will demand fulfillment of the "Quartet conditions" and the release of Gilad Shalit, as well as the cessation of the firing of Qassams and the smuggling of arms into Gaza. As a partner of Hamas, Abu Mazen will find it difficult to claim political weakness as an excuse for inaction.....

Olmert is the great successor of Sharon, and he is even more successful than his predecessor at presenting inflexible positions behind a mask of moderation and openness. He is sensitive to the nuances of the international community, woos its leaders and enlists them in imposing his conditions on the Palestinians. The Jerusalem summit will go down as another tactical victory for Olmert's "yes, but" policy, but will in no way bring us closer to a solution to the conflict. The only consolation is that Rice will come to the region this time in a small plane, thus cutting down on fuel and air pollution on her way to another unnecessary journey. "

Mahdi army commanders withdraw to Iran to lie low during security crackdown

· Shia fighters to return 'once Sunnis are pacified'
· Sadr strategy is to retain militia's infrastructure

Michael Howard in Baghdad
Thursday February 15, 2007
The Guardian

"Senior commanders of the Mahdi army, the militia loyal to the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, have been spirited away to Iran to avoid being targeted in the new security push in Baghdad, a high-level Iraqi official told the Guardian yesterday.

On the day the Iraqi government formally launched its crackdown on insurgents and amid disputed claims about the whereabouts of Mr Sadr, the official said the Mahdi army leadership had withdrawn across the border into Iran to regroup and retrain.

"Over the last three weeks, they [Iran] have taken away from Baghdad the first and second-tier military leaders of the Mahdi army," he said. The aim of the Iranians was to "prevent the dismantling of the infrastructure of the Shia militias" in the Iraqi capital - one of the chief aims of the US-backed security drive.
"The strategy is to lie low until the storm passes, and then let them return and fill the vacuum," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The Tehran authorities were "playing a waiting game" until the commanders could return to Baghdad and resume their activities. "All indications are that Moqtada is in Iran, but that is not really the point," he added....."

Will UNIFIL spy on Hezbollah for Israeli benefit?

"Al-Manar special report – Ahmad Ammar – Translated/

Will the United Nations Interim Forces in south Lebanon (UNIFIL) become a spying force on the resistance for Israel? It is a question that will be legitimate to ask in case what Israeli daily Maariv proved right. The daily has quoted Israeli military sources as saying that the French contingent in the UNIFIL are making reconnaissance flights to gather information about Hezbollah in south Lebanon. The Israeli sources further told Maariv that despite the low profile maintained by Hezbollah members while moving in the south, the French planes are succeeding in forming a more general picture about the situation than the Israelis. Worth mentioning that previous Israeli information underscored a UNIFIL intention to gather information about Hezbollah's activity in south Lebanon, through reconnaissance flights, and supply Israel with them. Maariv pointed that the Israeli security institution has expressed satisfaction as to the UNIFIL's activity in south Lebanon. Even though Israeli military sources said that Israel has reduced its reconnaissance flights over Lebanon due to what the UNIFIL is doing to stop what it called terrorism, Israel said it will not entirely cut down its overflights. "What the UNIFIL is doing is good but we have to depend on ourselves," a military source told Maariv."

Officials: U.S. to boycott all Palestinian ministers

"The United States will boycott all Palestinian unity government ministers, including non-Hamas members, unless international demands on policy towards Israel are met, a Palestinian official and diplomats said on Thursday.

Some U.S. officials had been advocating a shift in Washington's position that would allow limited diplomatic contacts with cabinet ministers from moderate President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction and other parties.

But a senior Palestinian official said: "The Americans have informed us that they will be boycotting the new government headed by Hamas. The Fatah and independent ministers will be treated the same way that Hamas ministers are treated."

Diplomats familiar with discussions on the issue confirmed Washington's intention to shun members of the unity government unless it satisfied international calls for Hamas to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept interim peace accords.

U.S. contacts with Abbas would not be affected although diplomatic sources said relations have been strained by his power-sharing deal with Hamas Islamists, a pact that fell short of meeting the demands for the policy changes.

U.S. officials declined to comment and said Washington was waiting to see how a new government would shape up......"


What Condoleezza and Livni say is the final word; got that Haniyyah, Abbas and (king) Abdullah?

"It is a disaster....catastrophe....our team has lost the game and is out of the series!" While the headline reads,"Al-Aqsa mosque is in danger due to Israeli excavations."
By Hamid Najeeb.

Information Warfare, Psy-ops and the Power of Myth

A Good Article
By Mike Whitney

"The bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque in Samarra is the cornerstone of Bush’s psychological operations (psy-ops) in Iraq. That’s why it is critical to have an independent investigation and discover who is really responsible. The bombing has been used as a "Pearl Harbor-type" event which has deflected responsibility for the 650,000 Iraqi casualties and more than 3 million refugees. These are the victims of American occupation not civil war.

The bombing was concocted by men who believe that they can control the public through perception management. In practical terms, this means that they create events which can be used to support their far-right doctrine. In this case, the destruction of the mosque has been used to confuse the public about the real origins of the rising sectarian tensions and hostilities. The fighting between Sunni and Shiite is the predictable upshot of random bombings and violence which bears the signature of covert operations carried out by intelligence organizations. Most of the pandemonium in Iraq is the result of counterinsurgency operations (black-ops) on a massive scale not civil war.

The Pentagon’s bold new approach to psychological operations (psy-ops) appears to have derived from the theories of former State Dept official, Philip Zelikow (who also served on the 9-11 Commission) Zelikow is an expert on "the creation and maintenance of 'public myths’ or 'public presumptions’. His theory analyzes how consciousness is shaped by "searing events" which take on "transcendent importance" and, therefore, move the public in the direction chosen by the policymakers......

In fact, the bombing of the Golden Mosque is a reenactment of September 11. In both cases an independent investigation was intentionally quashed and carefully-prepared narrative was immediately provided. The government’s version of events has been critical in supporting the extremist policies of the Bush administration.

Just as 9-11 has been used to justify the enhanced powers of the "unitary" president, the evisceration of civil liberties, and a permanent state of war; so too, the bombing of the Golden Mosque, has been used to create a fictional narrative of deeply ingrained sectarian animosity that has no historical precedent. Both events need to be exposed by thorough and independent investigations.

The Bush administration has consistently abandoned the limitations of "reality-based" politics. They govern through demagoguery, force and deception. This is no different.

9-11 and the Golden Mosque are the foundation blocks in the Pentagon’s "Strategic Information" program. It is a war that is directed at the American people and it relies heavily on the power of myth.

Forewarned is forearmed. "

War-weary Beirut marks Hariri death with peaceful rally

By Robert Fisk

"So the Lebanese survived. The civil war did not begin. The second anniversary of the murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri was more a festival than a vow of revenge......

But the speeches made it clear that the battle between Lebanon's elected government and the largely Shia opposition - the Shia are the largest but not the majority community in Lebanon - continues. A UN international tribunal is supposed to be held into the murder of Hariri. The government has asked the UN to proceed but the Lebanese president, Emile Lahoud, a creature of Syria, says that Prime Minister Faoud Sinioura cannot sign on to it on the grounds that five Shia ministers resigned from his administration last year.

"We are today in the hour of truth and the last leg for the setting up of the international tribunal, which will happen soon, very soon," Hariri's son Saad told up to a million Lebanese in the square.

But the brutality of the conflict between Lebanon and Syria - and needless to say, the Christians are holding Syrian agents responsible for Tuesday's bombs - was all too evident in a speech made by Lebanon's Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt. He described the Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad as "a monkey, a snake and a butcher" (comparing humans to animals is a particularly cruel insult in the Arab world) and added "we will not surrender to terrorism, to explosive charges, to totalitarian parties, Syrian and non-Syrian. This year the tribunal will come and with it retribution and the death sentence".

Samir Geagea, the Phalangist - a convicted murderer whose party now supports the elected government - was self-assured enough to tell his audience that "we will pursue the criminals across the world and to the end of time".

Perhaps. The reality, however, is that Lebanon continues to live on borrowed time. Its economy - more than $30bn in public debt - is bankrupt. "There is not a businessman, not an architect, not an investor who wants to put money into this country," a young American-trained urban planner said among the crowd yesterday. "Sure, we won't have a civil war. But what is our country worth in financial terms?" "