Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sadat II? Will Bashar Asad Address the Kenesset Next?

Mediator says peace with Syria can be reached 6 months after talks begin

"If Israel and Syria begin negotiations, they can reach agreement within six months and allow Damascus to disengage from Hezbollah and join the war on terrorism, Ibrahim (Abe) Suleiman said yesterday.

The American-Syrian businessman who has represented Syria in informal talks with Alon Liel, his Israeli counterpart, appeared yesterday before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee - an exceptionally rare event for a foreigner.

During the meeting Suleiman said that "accepting the Israeli-Syrian document of understandings that was formulated will allow Syria to assist in the global struggle against terrorism, cut its ties with Hezbollah and assist the American struggle in Iraq."

Suleiman, who resides in Washington, has close ties with the Syrian leadership, and called on Israel to hold official talks with Syria.

At a press conference held after the meeting in the Knesset, Suleiman said that "if the governments of Syria and Israel negotiate they will reach a peace deal in six months."

Suleiman stressed that he had no doubt of Bashar Assad's wish for peace and said that in previous talks the two sides had agreed on 80 percent of the issues.

The last time Israel and Syria held peace talks was in 2000, under the auspices of the Clinton administration.......

Discussing his talks with Liel, Suleiman said that "as a private channel [of negotiations] we will disappear," but stressed that "nothing is impossible in this world. My presence here will make things possible."

After his meeting in the Knesset, Suleiman expressed his happiness at being here.

"In my wildest dreams I did not dream that I would speak with important decision-makers of the Jewish people. Peace is possible and desirable. Syria and Israel have missed many opportunities in the past," Suleiman said.

"Since 1948 Israeli leaders said that they are willing to talk about peace at any time and in any place. Syria now announced that it is ready to talk about peace. I challenge the government of Israel to respond to this call," Suleiman said.

The U.S.-Syrian mediator said Damascus is careful to abide by the cease-fire agreement with Israel and would not begin a war with Israel.

"Not a single bullet was fired since 1974, when Syria signed a cease-fire accord."...."


Syria is desperate for a deal, however Usrael wants even more concessions. In the end Bashar Rabbit will be begging on his knees for any deal, as long as his regime survives.

Nakba-deniers; Eyes Wide Shut

Nakba is not a difficult word to educate people about, so let us be wise and make people talk about it, before Israel gets a chance to complete it.

A good article
By Tariq Shadid

".....As a Palestinian living in the West, I can assure you that there are many here who believe their eyes are already open, while in reality they have deviated much less away from the ‘land without people’ formula than they think. They believe they are sufficiently informed in order to have an opinion. And there we have it: the invisible deadlock that permeates the societies of the West, when it comes to Palestine.

This deadlock is caused for the most part by the fact that people in the West have been conditioned on a large scale to feel deeply guilty about any criticism of Israel. And therein lies the main reason for the attractiveness to Westerners to take the position of blaming both sides equally. The fact that the Zionists are the actual invaders, land confiscators, oppressors and occupiers, is brushed aside, basically because it causes these conflicting loyalties. The media aids this by the skilful dosing of information, and by the use of language, branding all Palestinian violence as terrorism, and all Israeli violence as retaliation......

A mistake often made by those who advocate the Palestinian cause in the West, is to fail to exert pressure on these highly essential issues. Nakba-denial is one of the biggest problems that cause the failure of people to perceive the Zionist crime for what it really was, namely a vicious and well-planned act of ethnic cleansing, that displaced around 800,000 Palestinians from their homes and their country in 1948. Also, the over 400 villages they were expelled from, were destroyed, and wiped off the map. The majority of people in the West still don’t know these hard and brutal facts......

How can a supporter of the Palestinian cause regard anyone who defends Zionist ideology, which is national-socialist in origin (this should ring a bell), and infested with concepts of racial superiority, without suspicion? The presently very active Christian form of Zionism is at least as destructive - and I mean this in the most literal sense - and uncompromising to the Palestinian people as its Jewish counterpart.

It is of great importance, to keep Zionism at the center of the political discourse about Israel, and to mention it in any discussion about the subject. Oslo-style thinking has indeed weakened this practice on a large scale, but there is a simple way to reverse this very rapidly: talk about it. Always talk about the Nakba, and always talk about Zionism, when talking about Palestine in the West. Without these two issues on the table, what are we really talking about? And whose purposes are we serving, by being caught in those fruitless dialogues about the issues that are only symptoms of these other two?.....

If only these people knew about the Nakba of 1948, and that it never stopped but is still going on today … Nakba is not a difficult word to educate people about, so let us be wise and make people talk about it, before Israel gets a chance to complete it."

You Trust the Asad Regime; Don't You?

Damascus denies secret Israel peace talks

"DAMASCUS (AFP) - Syria on Saturday rejected statements by a Syrian-American businessman who said that he had been at the heart of unofficial peace talks with Israel, the official SANA agency quoted a foreign ministry official as saying.

"The statements and the ideas of the American-Syrian Ibrahim Suleiman do not reflect the point of view of Syria, which has repeated many times its refusal to undertake secret negotiations" with Israel, the official was quoted as saying.

Suleiman on Thursday told a top Israeli parliamentary panel that Syria and Israel could clinch a peace deal in six months.......

Suleiman and former Israeli foreign ministry director general Alon Liel say they headed two years of the secret talks during which understandings were reached for a peace treaty between Syria and Israel.

Suleiman, 60, was at the centre of the official peace talks between Israel and Syria which began following the Madrid peace summit, including the 1996 US-sponsored talks at Wye Plantation and later in 2000 in Shepherdstown.

During those talks, Suleiman said on Thursday, "the sides solved 80 percent of disagreements."

He said that he and Liel had succeeded in further narrowing the gap between the sides, and that their talks should be replaced by official negotiations.

"Our work is done, now it's up to officials in Israel and Syria to sit down and iron out their differences," the US businessman said. "We gave them a peace map."

Syria's "President Bashar al-Assad wants peace with Israel. He wants to make peace and be known as the man of peace," Suleiman said."

Israeli incursion in Qalqilia leaves 2 women severely injured and several houses destroyed

By Mike Luckovich

Habila's Deputy Meets With Israelis

"Ramallah - Ma'an - Palestinian deputy prime minister, Azzam Al-Ahmad, on Saturday met with a delegation representing the Israeli labour party's youth in the headquarters of the Palestinian cabinet in Ramallah, in the central West Bank.

The meeting, which lasted more than an hour, is part of efforts to lift the crippling economic embargo that Israel imposes on the Palestinian unity government.....

....Hirmouni also urged the "moderate forces on the Palestinian side to push for the freedom of Gilad Shalit." "


Long live "Palestinian unity," and release Shalit, NOW!

Hamas Speaking With Two Voices

Hamas condemns meeting of Abbas and Olmert

"Gaza - Ma'an – The Hamas movement criticized the forthcoming meeting of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and described it as contrary to Palestinian interests.

The meeting is to be held on Sunday.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the meetings between the two men "will have no positive outcome for the Palestinian people as they discuss only the security issue".

'External agendas'

Barhoum called on Abbas to not submit to what he described as "external agendas". He said "relying on the Americans being fair to our people will not enable us to achieve our interests and our peoples' interests".

The spokesman confirmed that any dealing with the US administration should not be "begging, or considering the American projects which intend to divide us."

At a press conference in Gaza on Saturday Barhoum said "these meetings address the release of the Israeli soldier, without considering the release of the Palestinian prisoners, or the end of the embargo, or Jerusalem or the refugees."......

....He also expressed support for the efforts of Abbas to enable the success of the national project and to garner Arab and international support to make the project successful."

Palestinian labour minister held at Huwwara checkpoint for being in possession of a pistol

"Nablus - Ma'an - Israeli forces held the Palestinian minister of labour Mahmoud Al Aloul for more than one-and-a-half hours at Huwwara checkpoint, south of Nablus, on Saturday.

The minister was seized along with his companions because the Israeli soldiers found a pistol in the minister's suitcase.

Speaking to Ma'an via telephone, the minister said "the Israeli army stopped me and my associates for more than an-hour-and-a-half at the barrier because they found a pistol in my suitcase."

Al Aloul said that he forgot to tell the soldiers at the barrier about the pistol when they searched his car.

He confirmed that this was not the first time the Israeli soldiers have hindered the movement of Palestinians. "


"He confirmed that this was not the first time the Israeli soldiers have hindered the movement of Palestinians."

No kidding, Mr. "Labor Minister!"
Next, the "minister" asked the Israeli soldier for permission to go to the restroom.

Some "government!"

An Example of the Stupidity of the "Unity Government"

Hamad: US discrimination policy reflects clear political confusion

"GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Ghazi Hamad, the spokesman of the PA unity government, has scathingly criticized the US attempts to discriminate between the PA presidency institution and the PA government that, he added, aims at spoiling Palestinian national unity.

He also explained that although the decision made by the US Congress to give 60 million dollars to PA security forces attached to PA chief Mahmoud Abbas wasn’t translated yet on the ground, the PA finance ministry is the only party entitled to receive financial aid to the PA.

In a press statement he made to the Quds Press news agency, Hamad also explained, “The US decision is a clear indication that the USA policy in the region is flip-flipping and confused”......"


So, the U.S. is "confused" and "flip-flopping!" However, Hamas and the PA are steadfast, clear and resolute? What kind of gibberish is this?

Instead of facing the key issue, which is how can such a "unity government" allow its "president" to receive aid, arms, financing and training to strengthen his "forces" whose main mission is to protect Israel and to crush Palestinian resistance to any sellout by this traitor Abbas, the spokesman blames the U.S.

Enough mediocrity and empty rhetoric; dissolve this farcical PA now!

Record of Iraq War Lies to Air April 25 on PBS

"Bill Moyers has put together an amazing 90-minute video documenting the lies that the Bush administration told to sell the Iraq War to the American public, with a special focus on how the media led the charge. I've watched an advance copy and read a transcript, and the most important thing I can say about it is: Watch PBS from 9 to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25. Spending that 90 minutes on this will actually save you time, because you'll never watch television news again – not even on PBS, which comes in for its share of criticism.

While a great many pundits, not to mention presidents, look remarkably stupid or dishonest in the four-year-old clips included in "Buying the War," it's hard to take any spiteful pleasure in holding them to account, and not just because the killing and dying they facilitated is ongoing, but also because of what this video reveals about the mindset of members of the DC media. Moyers interviews media personalities, including Dan Rather, who clearly both understand what the media did wrong and are unable to really see it as having been wrong or avoidable.

It's great to see an American media outlet tell this story so well, but it leads one to ask: When will Congress tell it? While the Democrats were in the minority, they clamored for hearings and investigations, they pushed Resolutions of Inquiry into the White House Iraq Group and the Downing Street Minutes. Now, in the majority, they've gone largely silent. The chief exception is the House Judiciary Committee's effort to question Condoleezza Rice next week about the forged Niger documents......"

Corporate Media Focuses On Wolfowitz’s Girlfriend, Not his World-Class War Crimes

By Kurt Nimmo

"Leave it to the corporate media to make a big deal out of Paul Wolfowitz’s shameless promotion of his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, while ignoring the larger story—the fait accompli fusion of neoliberal and neocon policies at the World Bank and the IMF.

“The neolib-neocon fusion is personified by Wolfowitz, close ally of the exceptionally corrupt, brutal Indonesian dictator Suharto during the 1980s and more recently, as deputy Pentagon leader, architect of and apologist for imperial theft and US corporate patronage associated with the illegal Iraq War,” writes Patrick Bond.

In fact, appointing the warmonger Wolfowitz to head up the World Bank was a studied choice—sort of like appointing a wolf to watch over a chicken coop—as the “relationship between globalization and militarism,” as Gwyn Kirk and Margo Okazawa-Rey note, “should be seen as two sides of the same coin. On one side, globalization promotes the conditions that lead to unrest, inequality, conflict, and, ultimately, war. On the other side, globalization fuels the means to wage war by protecting and promoting the military industries needed to produce sophisticated weaponry. This weaponry, in turn, is used or is threatened to be used to protect the investments of transnational corporations and their shareholders.”......

....No doubt Mr. Wolfowitz is an embarrassment, as the neocon track record is Mafia-like corruption, and it should come as no surprise this natural inclination manifests itself in the conduct of their personal lives. Paul Wolfowitz will undoubtedly be shown the door, not that he will suffer consequence. Wolfowitz will likely retire to the university, not unlike his former co-conspirator, Douglas Feith over at Georgetown, and write his memoirs on the side. In America, we shower our high place criminals with favor.

In a perfect world, or one far more perfect than Bushzarro world, Paul Wolfowitz and his war crime accomplices would be made to do the perp walk in orange jumpsuits as they wend their way toward the gallows, as Hermann Göring, Wilhelm Keitel, Fritz Sauckel, Julius Streicher, and other Nazi plenipotentiaries did before them."

“The Lies of Mario Lozano”

by Giuliana Sgrena
(the author of Friendly Fire: The Remarkable Story of a Journalist Kidnapped in Iraq, Rescued by an Italian Secret Service Agent, and Shot by U.S. Forces)

"(April 12, 2007) After two years of silence, Mario Lozano has marched forward to tell the truth—or rather, according to the version presented by the American media, to “expose the lies of Sgrena.” Too bad that neither he nor his advisors have noticed that in the meantime my testimony has been confirmed by the results of the investigations carried out by experts appointed by the judiciary on the car in which we were riding that night of 4 March 2005 in Baghdad. Mario Lozano has been summoned to stand trial for the voluntary political homicide of Nicola Calipari and the attempted voluntary homicide of Andrea Carpani and myself on the basis of investigations—not, certainly, on the basis of my “fantasies.”.......

Why doesn’t Lozano come to present his version of the facts at the trial? He says that what is scheduled to begin on Tuesday in Rome is only a “shot trial.” This contempt for the Italian judiciary would seem to warrant some kind of taking of a position on the part of our government. And if it all just seems like a farce, why does it cause so much agitation and discomfort in its repudiation of the version put forward by the American military commission, which has already been taken apart by the Campregher-Regaglini report (from the names of the two Italians who took part in the commission).......

After what happened it is easy to understand that Lozano might have nightmares—as I have as the one who lived through the same event from the other side of the barricade. We know that the rules of engagement are brutal, that the American soldiers in Iraq are terrorized—but there are many of them who had had the courage to rebel against this situation.

What is unacceptable is turning Lozano himself into a victim. This perspective is nurtured by U.S. journalists who interviewed him in response to an order from above, and who see no problem at all with a unilateral version of the facts and with making denigrating references to my book Friendly Fire (Haymarket Books).

A real lesson in journalism “made in the U.S.A.”"

Fear and loathing on an American campus

By Robert Fisk

"........But Al would have none of this. And I got the message. To ask the "Why" question made me a Nazi. Which is why I subsequently received a flood of mail, much of it from Denver - what has Denver got against me? - telling me that my mother was Adolf Eichmann's daughter. Thanks, Al. I'm sure you didn't dream of the hate mail your silly diatribe will inspire. I guess Irish radio host Eamon Dunphy did. He pulled the plug on Al.

I'm recalling all this nonsense because Al has been back at work attacking his old nemesis, Norm Finkelstein, who has just applied for tenure at DePaul University in the US where he is an assistant professor of politics. Norm's department has supported him but Al has bombarded faculty members with a blistering attack on Norm and all his works.

So let me just explain what these works are. Finkelstein, who is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, has published a number of works highly critical of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and the use Israeli supporters make of the Holocaust of six million Jews to suppress criticism of Israel's policies. He has accused Dershowitz of plagiarising portions of his 2003 book The Case for Israel. Finkelstein's book, The Holocaust Industry, earned Dershowitz's continued fury.......

...All over the United States, however, Norm's academic chums have been condemning Suchar's tomfoolery; even in Beirut, where Norm has lectured, academics of the American University have insisted that he be granted tenure in his department, Arabs supporting a Jewish professor and son of Holocaust survivors.

Of course, I grant that all this is a little heavy for the real world and I do have a secret desire to take Norm, Chuck and Al and bang their bloody heads together. But what is happening at DePaul University is a very serious matter in the anodyne, frightened academic world that now exists in the US. Norm's moment of truth comes up in May. As they say watch this space. "

By Tom Toles

Israel's Security The Way Israel Sees it.
(also the way Oslo intended it and the way Abbas is implementing with U.S. money and Egyptian/Jordanian arming and training)

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Final Act of Submission

By Scott Ritter

"......Invariably, my presentation focused on the nation in question, whether it was Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Japan or Great Britain, and the status of its relationship with the United States. As an American, I said, I appreciated each nation’s embrace of the United States as a friend and ally. However, as a strong believer in the rule of law, I deplored the trend among America’s so-called friends to facilitate a needless confrontation which would severely harm the U.S. in the long run. These nations were hesitant to stand up to the United States even though they knew the course of action planned for Iraq was wrong.

Such permissive submission was deplorable, and invariably led to a comment from me about the status of genuine sovereignty in the face of American imperial power. If a nation was incapable of defending its sovereign values and interests, then it should simply acknowledge its status as a colony of the United States, pull down its disgraced national flag and raise the Stars and Stripes......

Despite the fact that Congress was only stating through this language a simple reflection of constitutional mandate, Speaker Pelosi and others felt that the inclusion of such verbiage put the security of the state of Israel at risk by eliminating important “policy options” for the president of the United States. In short, Israeli national security interests trumped the Constitution of the United States.......

....Our collective duty as Americans must center on defending the very document, the Constitution, which defines who we are and what we are as a people and a nation. To have our elected representatives flagrantly push aside their constitutional responsibilities in the name of the security interests of another nation is unthinkable. And yet it has just happened, apparently without consequence......

In this time of constitutional crisis, the American people need to wake up and demand that the basic tenets of the Constitution be adhered to. Congress is solely empowered by the Constitution to declare war. Demanding that the president of the United States adhere to this prerequisite is a logical and patriotic stance. Allowing any non-American interest, even one possessing such highly charged political and emotional sensitivities as Israel, to dictate otherwise represents nothing more than a capitulation of sovereignty. We the people need to rally around this defense of sovereignty. We must demand not only that Congress reassert its constitutional responsibilities and authority by demanding the president obey the letter of the law when it comes to war, whether against Iran or any other nation, but also to place in check the anti-American activities of one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, D.C., the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee......

To state that AIPAC, and by extension Israel, is above the law in this regard is to acknowledge the reality that American national sovereignty no longer matters when it comes to the state of Israel. So be it. But then we are, collectively, no better than those nations I mocked prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as “colonies” of the United States. So if we are to continue to permit AIPAC to operate as an undeclared agent of a foreign nation, and to influence American foreign and national security policymaking at the expense of our Constitution, then we should acknowledge our true status as nothing more than a colony of Israel, pull down the Stars and Stripes and raise the Star of David over our nation’s capitol. While representing the final act of submission, it would also be the first truly honest act that occurred in Washington, D.C., in many years......"

Kirkuk, Oil and the Kurds

Encouraging Ethnic Chauvinism


".....As I mentioned before, the Baa'th regime did indeed initiate a demographic change in Kirkuk, but this political campaign affected all the non-Arabs of Kirkuk not just the Kurds. One of the problems with nearly everything said or done in occupied Iraq is that narratives have been simplified and their content maligned to fit particular interests. Assyrian, Turkish, Kurdish and even Armenian peoples were all affected by demographic changes in Kirkuk......

Since the 2003 invasion of the country myth has taken precedence over history and Kurdish politicians have adopted the methods of that other myth-based nation-state in the region-Israel, to establish claims on the oil reach city. During the invasion, Kurdish peshmerga (militias) entered Kirkuk and established de facto control of the city. Since then, as has been reported by the Center for Research on Globalization, Kurdish militias have forcibly evicted people from their homes, engaged in murder, assassination and a slow ethnic cleansing. The first victims in this regard have been the Arabs. Since the Arabs there are largely associated with Baa'th policy they have seen little support from the regime in Baghdad. Less publicized has been the targeting of Assyrians and other smaller minorities in the region. But the largest group in the city-and the one that promises to be the most resistant to Kurdish aggression-is the Turcomen. Ethnically Turks, the Turcomen have lived in the area for over eight-hundred years and have strong ties to Turkey. It has also been widely reported that Israeli intelligence officials have been working closely with Kurdish leader and have established a strong foothold in the area. This development raises some serious issues about so-called Kurdistan acting as a staging point for Israeli operations in the rest of the country.

When we take a look at the rhetoric surrounding Kirkuk it would seem to come right out of an Israeli playbook. Kirkuk is now being called the "Jerusalem of the Kurds." Or as one Kurdish writer put it, "Kirkuk has always been sacred to Kurds as Karbala and Najaf to Shiite Muslims and all other Shiite cities and towns. [sic]" In light of this supposed devotion tens of thousands of Kurds have been coming into Kirkuk to change the demographic reality "on the ground." This policy very much resembles Israeli activities in the West Bank, where the Jewish settlers have been encouraged to settle in the contested area, explicitly to complicate the area's status. It is no surprise that an area rich in oil has now become "sacred" to the Kurds. But is it or are the more general claims being made on Kirkuk warranted?......

......Secondly, it underscores how pathetic claims to Kirkuk as a "holy city" are. When an official census was conducted in the area in 1957, Kurds did not constitute a majority in the city. This is in 1957, well before Saddam Hussein or his Arabization policy.

Well these facts speak to the more complex truth around Kirkuk, the aggressive activities of Kurdish militias continue under the auspices of the United States and the puppet regime in Baghdad. But what is most disturbing is that the events concerning Kirkuk are just another testament to the ideology of institutionalised racism imposed on Iraqi society.

Since the invasion, the United States encouraged ethnic chauvinism and consistently hinted at dividing the country up into ethnic or sectarian sections. Should this policy continue, Kurdistan will become a small fascist state with a lot of oil, that will be busy oppressing its large, very large, minority population and begging the US for bases to "protect" it from its neighbours, who are "different." And, of course, the US will gladly oblige, just as it does in the Gulf States because, after all, that is where the oil is. "

Iran Defends the Puppet Iraqi "Parliament"

Iran condemns 'inhuman and satanic' Iraq attack

"Iran has condemned the suicide bombing attack on the Iraq Parliment buliding that killed two MPs as inhuman and satanic, the official IRNA news agency has reported.

"This inhuman and satanic action was carried out by enemies who wish only bad for the Iraqi people and who targeted deputies whether they were Sunni or Shiite," said foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini.

Mr Hosseini called for unity among Iraqis and the withdrawal of the occupation forces, the agency said.

The suicide bomb attack in a cafeteria in the Iraqi Parliament in Baghdad's Green Zone killed eight people, including at least two MPs and wounded at least 20, an Iraqi official said.

It was a staggering breach of security at the country's most heavily guarded site.

The blast, which came hours after a suicide truck bomber targeted a Baghdad bridge killing 10 people, came despite a massive US-Iraqi security crackdown launched in the capital two months ago."

Olmert's big dilemma

In any prisoner swap deal with Israel, the cards are stacked in favour of the Palestinians

By Khaled Amayreh
Al-Ahram Weekly

"......Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Olmert is likely to attempt to circumvent his dilemma by acting as a tough negotiator in the hope of extracting a more "palatable" deal from Hamas. This is unlikely to succeed, however, since Hamas, too, can't be seen as compromising when it is answerable to thousands of Palestinian families who are impatient to see their sons and loved ones come home, many of whom have spent the prime of their lives in Israeli jails and detention camps.

Israel has been desperately trying to pin down the whereabouts of its captured soldier, Gilad Shalit. The Israeli army waged several brutal incursions throughout the Gaza Strip during which hundreds of Palestinians, mostly civilian, were killed and maimed. The savagery of the assaults failed to free Shalit.

Meanwhile, the Israeli domestic intelligence agency, Shin Bet, instructed hundreds of its informers throughout the Gaza Strip to "leave no stone unturned" in order to ascertain the whereabouts of Shalit and the identity of his captors. This, too, failed to achieve any result. Eventually, the Shin Bet recommended against "liberating Shalit by force", arguing that the chances of retrieving him alive were less than one per cent.

Furthermore, the abduction of nearly 100 Hamas cabinet ministers, officials and lawmakers, including such high-ranking leaders as parliament speaker Abdul-Aziz Duweik, in order to pressure Hamas to free Shalit, also failed to yield results, leaving the Israeli government with very few choices left.

In this context, it is not unlikely that the Olmert government, reputed for its duplicity, will resort to publicly agreeing to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners while planning in secret to re- arrest many of them after Shalit's release on fresh concocted charges. Israeli military courts, before which no Palestinian can be proven innocent, could pass hefty suspended prison sentences on prominent prisoners in order to facilitate their re-arrest......"

America as proxy

Whereas Israel has appeared in the past as the US's main proxy in the Middle East, now it apears the relation has reversed

By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Ahram Weekly

"......Palestinians have often been used as, and in some cases have presented themselves to play the role of, a proxy force. The rationale, in some cases, was personal interest; in others, lack of a platform that would allow them to organise. In the two most notable instances in which they tried to exert control over their host domains -- the cases of Jordan in the 1970s and Lebanon in the 1970s and 80s -- the cost was horrendous, leading to unprecedented bloodshed. After Arafat's forced exit from Beirut in 1982, Palestinians were forced to exchange the physical space they obtained for overt allegiance to various regimes. Arafat mastered the art like no other Palestinian leader. The supporters of the Oslo Accords argued that the agreement's key success was freeing the Palestinian political will from pandering to host countries for survival, which proved untrue. A Hamas leader in Syria told me, off the record, during a telephone interview recently: "We have no doubt that Damascus will dump us the moment we are no longer of use, but we have no other option but to play along."......

While Iran's prime objective is to discourage an American military assault against it, Israel seeks regional hegemony, where it is left only with "moderate" neighbours. According to this vision, conceived and promoted publicly by Israeli leaders and their friends in Washington and emphasised to the point of boring repetition by every relevant US official at every possible opportunity, the Iranian "threat" must be eradicated at any cost. Israel's fears of Iran are not nuclear in essence. What worries Israel is that Iran is militarily strong, politically cohesive and economically viable, enough to allow Iran opportunity to challenge Israel at every turn. The Israelis, as their country's history illustrates, simply despise such contenders. Israel's attempt to demolish Gamal Abdel Nasser's national regime in 1956, only eight years after the establishment of the Israeli state, is a poignant example......

But Israel is still cheering for war. Former director of Mossad, Uzi Arad, told the British Guardian that, "A military strike may be easier than you think." He outlined what targets were to be bombed -- not just nuclear, but security and economic centres. "Iran is much more vulnerable than people realise," he stated casually. Arad, like most Israeli officials, wants war, even if such a war would complicate America's regional involvement and cost it innumerable human lives, notwithstanding a foreseeable large number of dead Iranians. It would matter little to Israel, however, for a chaotic Iran, like a chaotic Iraq, is just another opportunity to be exploited, and another "threat" to be checked off Israel's security list.

While proxy relations are part and parcel of Middle East politics, even arrogant superpowers can find themselves exploited, wittingly or not."

McCain, the Militarist: He's volatile – and, in the White House, he'd be dangerous

By Justin Raimondo

"......We do face what McCain calls "a terrible choice": the choice between a mere disaster and a full-fledged regional (even global) catastrophe. We can leave, and cut our losses, or stay and provoke a wider war. McCain has made his choice: and the majority of Americans, I am glad to say, have made another choice entirely. Now it remains to be seen if we can stay out of a war with Iran until President Bush leaves office, and about that I'm not making any bets one way or the other. One thing we can bet on, however, and you can take this prediction to the bank: if John McCain ever makes it to the Oval Office as anything other than a visitor, we'll be at war with Iran in a matter of months.

McCain never met a war he didn't support: he is a militarist to his very bones. Combine this with his explosive temperament, and the near-dictatorial powers of the President when it comes to foreign policy, and you have a very volatile mixture."

The Baghdad gulag

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"DAMASCUS - There are three overlapping wars in Iraq: the Sunni Arab guerrilla struggle against the US; strands of Sunni Arab guerrillas against assorted Shi'ite militias/death squads; and al-Qaeda in Iraq against the puppet, US-backed Iraqi government in the Green Zone. Make it four wars: the Sunni Arab guerrilla war against the government inside the Green Zone. Better yet, make it five wars: the Sadrists, from Sadr City to Kufa and Najaf, against the Americans.

All strands of these five overlapping wars will never allow the United States - or Anglo-American Big Oil - to control Iraq's oil wealth. Even if the new oil law is ratified by Parliament before June, implementation will be a certified nightmare, and security for billions of dollars of necessary investment non-existent......

In the last chapter of my book Globalistan - titled "Condofornia vs Slumistan" - I argue that the future now revolves around the tension between gated communities and unruly slums, "secure environments" and black waves of anger. Wherever both meet - from Baghdad to Sao Paulo - we may see endless replays of Black Hawk Down.

The Baghdad gulag is a Pentagon-enforced Condofornia imposed over an Arab Slumistan. Let no one be fooled: it's being conducted as a technical experiment, with live Iraqis as guinea pigs, and is bound to be replicated in other areas of the Pentagon-created "arc of instability" from the Andes to the Horn of Africa to Arabia to Central Asia........

The Sunni Arab muqawama (resistance) has already celebrated the arrival of the Baghdad gulag - by attacking the heart of the system itself, the Green Zone. The bomb that exploded on Thursday in the cafeteria of the Baghdad Convention Center - which houses the Iraqi Parliament, inside the Green Zone - was yet another crystal-clear message: we can strike you as we please, and where we please......

Crucially, this would mean no passing of the Holy of Holies, the new Iraqi oil law. It's also an open secret in Baghdad - as well as among Iraqi refugees in Damascus - that the Bush administration's now famous "June deadline" to the Maliki government is only about oil. If the oil law is not approved by then, "all options are on the table", and that means a white coup with the reinstallation of former Central Intelligence Agency asset, former interim prime minister, former "butcher of Fallujah" Iyad Allawi, whose main task would be ... to get the oil law approved......"

Leading article: The spectre of Saigon looms over Baghdad

The Independent

(A lousy article but has some truth)

".......The other risk is that any remaining confidence that the Americans are able to keep their allies safe will be undermined. Inside the "green zone" are not just the Iraqi parliament and many US military and diplomatic facilities. The "zone" is also home to many Iraq government offices and foreign representations; several thousand Iraqis live there. If the "zone" is seen to be vulnerable, all trust in the possibility of order spreading out from there to the rest of Baghdad will evaporate. The spectre of a Saigon-style retreat from Baghdad will be harder and harder to dispel.

This is the ninth week of the US "surge". More and more American and Iraqi soldiers are to be seen on Baghdad streets, as the attempt to crack down on the violence gains pace. The greater visibility of US troops, which is an integral part of the strategy, automatically makes them more vulnerable. It is probably inevitable that, even as the number of violent incidents has declined, US military casualties have increased.

For the strategy to work, it must do much more than multiply armed patrols. It must convince Iraqis that law and order can be restored, not just now but in the longer term. It is not just about deterring gunmen and bombers; it is about instilling confidence in the authorities' prospects of success and reducing support for militant sectarianism. The US "surge" already seemed to be in trouble; yesterday's bombing showed that the citadel could be breached. If and when the US abandons Iraq, this day will mark the beginning of that end."


The "ink blot" strategy is working in reverse: Instead of the "ink blots" getting larger, they are shrinking!

By Martin Rowson, The Guardian

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Iran may be the greatest crisis of modern times

By John Pilger

Global Research, April 12, 2007

"In a cover piece for the New Statesman, John Pilger evokes the memory of Germans 'looking from the side' at Bergen-Belsen to describe the challenge facing us in the West as the Bush/Blair 'long war' becomes 'perhaps the greatest crisis of modern times'.

The Israeli journalist Amira Hass describes the moment her mother, Hannah, was marched from a cattle train to the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen. “They were sick and some were dying,” she says. “Then my mother saw these German women looking at the prisoners, just looking. This image became very formative in my upbringing, this despicable ‘looking from the side’.”

It is time we in Britain and other Western countries stopped looking from the side. We are being led towards perhaps the most serious crisis in modern history as the Bush-Cheney-Blair “long war” edges closer to Iran for no reason other than that nation’s independence from rapacious America. The safe delivery of the 15 British sailors into the hands of Rupert Murdoch and his rivals (with tales of their “ordeal” almost certainly authored by the Ministry of Defence – until it got the wind up) is both a farce and a distraction. The Bush administration, in secret connivance with Blair, has spent four years preparing for “Operation Iranian Freedom”. Forty-five cruise missiles are primed to strike. According to Russia’s leading strategic thinker General Leonid Ivashov: “Nuclear facilities will be secondary targets... at least 20 such facilities need to be destroyed. Combat nuclear weapons may be used. This will result in the radioactive contamination of all the Iranian territory, and beyond.”

And yet there is a surreal silence, save for the noise of “news” in which our powerful broadcasters gesture cryptically at the obvious but dare not make sense of it, lest the one-way moral screen erected between us and the consequences of an imperial foreign policy collapse and the truth be revealed. John Bolton, formerly Bush’s man at the United Nations, recently spelled out the truth: that the Bush-Cheney-Blair plan for the Middle East is “an agenda to maintain division and ethnic tension". In other words, bloodshed and chaos equals control. He was referring to Iraq, but he also meant Iran......

....As with Henry Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld, who dare not travel to certain countries for fear of being prosecuted as war criminals, Blair as a private citizen may no longer be untouchable. On 20 March, Baltasar Garzón, the tenacious Spanish judge who pursued Augusto Pinochet, called for indictments against those responsible for “one of the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes in recent human history” – Iraq. Five days later, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, to which Britain is a signatory, said that Blair could one day face war-crimes charges.

These are critical changes in the way the sane world thinks – again, thanks to the Reich of Blair and Bush. However, we live in the most dangerous of times. On 6 April, Blair accused “elements of the Iranian regime” of “backing, financing, arming and supporting terrorism in Iraq”. He offered no evidence, and the Ministry of Defence has none. This is the same Goebbels-like refrain with which he and his coterie, Gordon Brown included, brought an epic bloodletting to Iraq. How long will the rest of us continue looking from the side?"

Sources: Hamas arming Islamic Jihad with rockets

"........Meanwhile, for the first time on Thursday, Hamas extremists openly demonstrated against the leadership of the group.

A group of nearly 200 gunmen from the military wing of Hamas and the Executive Force demonstrated in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip against the unity government and declared that they will only abide by orders from the former foreign and interior ministers, Mahmoud Al-Zahar and Said Sayam.

Another reason for the mutiny revolves around disputes over the identity of the Palestinian prisoners on a list provided to Israel recently, for a possible exchange for the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Some of the demonstrators argued that the list of prisoners was prepared by those prisoners' relatives.

A meeting scheduled Wednesday between Nizar Riyan, a senior figure in the political leadership of Hamas, and members of the "rebels" ended with an exchange of gunfire near Riyan's home.

According to security sources, Hamas has adopted a strategy of duality, which will be maintained under all circumstances, including a situation of a general cease-fire. On the basis of this strategy, a Palestinian organization will continue violent activities against Israel notwithstanding a cease-fire.

This was a similar strategy used by Yasser Arafat, who committed the PLO in agreements to preserve cease-fires, but was always careful to retain his ties with extremist organizations that would continue their terrorist activities against Israel......"

Forces loyal to Abbas get newer bases, training

"JERICHO, West Bank (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are getting newer bases at home and more advanced training abroad for an expanded security role that could put them on a collision course with militants.

Abbas's call over the weekend for his security forces to help prevent rocket attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip opened a new rift with Hamas and exposed the policy differences that underlie their month-old coalition government.

Western and Palestinian officials said Abbas's goal was to create a Palestinian "gendarmerie," a force trained in military tactics that operates in civilian areas and is capable of carrying out police duties, restoring law and order, and enforcing any existing and future agreements with Israel.

In addition to basic training conducted at facilities in the West Bank city of Jericho and the Gaza Strip, about 500 men loyal to Abbas's Fatah faction recently crossed from Gaza into Egypt for more advanced instruction in police tactics, Western security officials said.

Hundreds of members of Abbas's presidential guard will take similar courses in the coming months at a facility in Jordan as part of a $59.4 million U.S. security program that received a green light from Congress this week......

Palestinian sources say Dahlan was personally coordinating the training programs and seeking additional assistance. A European Union police training program, largely frozen after Hamas came to power in March 2006, may be restarted with a focus on forces under Dahlan's control, European diplomats said......

"The main division between Abbas and Hamas is the mission of the security forces," said Mohammad Yaghi, a fellow at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy and a columnist for the Palestinian daily al-Ayyam.

"Hamas wants the security forces to be part of the national struggle with Israel. Abbas and Dahlan want the security forces to be part of implementing any agreement with Israel," he said.

Mouin Rabbani, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, said Hamas may be nearing a strategic turning point......"


This Palestinian "unity" is like the unity of oil and water

Possible Hamas split worries Israel

** A Probably Accurate Assessment **

".....According to the defense establishment's current assessment of Hamas, the movement has split into three central groups, the first led by Khaled Mashaal, the exiled political leader based in Damascus. Mashaal, a senior defense official noted Wednesday, recently made a strategic decision to "lower his profile" as part of an effort to disguise himself as a moderate.

"Mashaal's ultimate goal is to take over the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and become the next Yasser Arafat and become the supreme Palestinian leader," the official said. The official added that Mashaal's attempt to turn into a pragmatist was part of a "devious plot" and that he had not really abandoned his radical anti-Israel views.

The second group is spearheading the revolt within the movement and is led by former interior minister Said Siam, former foreign minister Mahmoud Zahar and former Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. The three enjoy the backing of many Hamas activists in the Gaza Strip, including members of Hamas's armed wing, Izaddin Kassam.

The "rejectionists" - as they are called - accuse Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Mashaal of betraying Hamas voters by agreeing to form a coalition with Fatah. They argue that the Mecca agreement is nothing but a plot designed to remove Hamas from power. Both Siam and Zahar have privately criticized Haniyeh as well as Mashaal for signing the agreement.

The rejectionists are also worried that to retain their positions, Haniyeh and Mashaal are prepared to sacrifice Hamas's ideology. For them, the political platform of the new coalition, which accepts the Arab peace plan of 2002 and UN resolutions regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict, is an indication that Hamas has abandoned its radical ideology.

"Their major fear is that Hamas will do what the PLO did in 1993, when it recognized the two-state solution and launched peace talks with Israel," said one of Haniyeh's top aides. "The unity government has created many problems among the leaders of Hamas, but we hope that this will not lead to a split.".....

The third group in Hamas is the most radical and is believed by Israel to be behind the drafting of the list of prisoners who the Palestinians have demanded be released in exchange for Schalit. This group is based in the Gaza Strip and is led by Ahmed Jaabri - the Hamas "Chief of Staff" in Gaza - believed to have directed and carried out Schalit's abduction in June.

"There is a split inside Hamas," Fatah legislator Jamal Tirawi, who represents the Nablus district in the Palestinian Legislative Council, said. "Siam, Zahar and Abu Zuhri represent the radical trend, while Haniyeh and Mashaal belong to the moderate side."......"


Well, it appears that we have not one, but two Habilas. Double celebration is called for, no?

A bloody message from Iraq: nowhere is safe...

By Patrick Cockburn

"Nowhere is safe. Insurgents struck in the heart of the Green Zone yesterday, one of the most heavily defended places in Baghdad. The symbolism - and the bloody message - was clear with this attack on the home to the US-imposed democracy.

A suicide bomber cleared at least eight rings of security to blow himself up in the Iraqi parliament, killing eight people including three lawmakers as they were eating lunch. It was the most deadly attack mounted from within the Green Zone.

In a separate attack, the Iraqi capital was cut in two as one of the main bridges over the Tigris was blown up earlier in the day.

The Green Zone bombing was not only an assault on democracy. It was intended to undermine President George Bush's troop "surge", which is denounced as a sham by so many Iraqis......

The bombing is likely to increase scepticism that the two-month old American campaign to get control of Baghdad, the "surge", is achieving very much.

The suicide bombing is one of the most dramatic demonstrations of the extent to which the Sunni insurgents have infiltrated the government's own security apparatus. Other recent examples include the serious wounding of the deputy prime minister Salam al-Zubaie on 23 March by a bomber who got near him with the connivance of his own bodyguards......

The sensitivity of the US and the Iraqi government to the breach in security was apparent because all television cameras and video tapes showing the immediate aftermath of the blast were confiscated and handed to US authorities.......

Of the three members of parliament to die, two were from Sunni parties and one from the Shia alliance. Khalaf al-Ilyan, one of the leaders of the Iraqi Accordance Front, said the explosion "underlines the failure of the government security plan."

"The plan is 100 per cent a failure," said Mr al-Ilyan. "It's a complete flop. The explosion means instability and the lack of security has reached the Green Zone, which the government boasts is heavily fortified.".....

The US is gradually increasing its forces to 173,000 by sending in five new brigades as part of the new security plan. But there is little sign the additional troops are altering the political and military balance in Iraq. The Sunni rebellion is continuing and is still highly effective....."

On video: Palestinian as human shield

"JERUSALEM - Sameh Amira was fast asleep when he was jolted awake by pounding at the front door. Israeli troops were on a manhunt for wanted militants in the West Bank and decided to draft help.

The terror-stricken 24-year-old Palestinian soon found himself forced onto the front lines of Israel's shadowy war against militants, a human shield as he led heavily armed soldiers from house to house. "I was afraid I would die," he said in a recent interview.

For several years, Palestinians had complained about the army's use of human shields, but proof was difficult to come by. Then in late February, Associated Press Television News captured footage of the incident involving Amira.

The video has prompted the army to launch a rare criminal investigation into whether its soldiers violated a landmark Israeli Supreme Court 2005 ruling barring the use of human shields. Others, including an 11-year-old girl, have been emboldened to come forward with similar accounts of being compelled to walk ahead of soldiers looking for militants.

International law, including the Geneva Conventions and Hague regulations, prohibits placing civilians in harm's way during military operations......"

IDF soldiers use Nablus youths as ‘human shield’

(Video) Peace activist films IDF soldiers ordering two Palestinian youths to stand in front of their vehicle to prevent locals from stoning it

Ali Waked Published: 04.12.07, 21:20 / Israel News

Caught on Tape

"VIDEO - Despite repeated promises by the Israel Defense Forces not to make use of Palestinian civilians as ‘human shields’ during its activity in the territories, troops operating in Nablus were filmed ordering two Palestinian youths to stand in front of their vehicle to protect it from stones thrown by locals."

Click Here to Watch Video

In a Tribute to Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut: Bush and Hitler Different

"Add lefty literary luminary Kurt Vonnegut to the list of notables who think comparing President Bush to Hitler is the trendy thing to do these days.

According to the Columbus Free Press, Vonnegut was speaking at Ohio State University earlier this week when he offered his insights on the Bush presidency.

"I just want to say that George W. Bush is the syphilis president,” the "Slaughterhouse Five" author opined.

Without elaborating on that insult, Vonnegut quickly segued into his next anti-Bush blast: "The only difference between Bush and Hitler is that Hitler was elected.

Eight killed, including three MPs, in Iraqi parliament bombing

"......U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the attack was carried out by those "who wish to stop the Iraqi people having a future that would be based on democracy and stability."

She said the Baghdad security plan was in its early stages and "we have said there will be good days and bad days."........

A witness said the blast appeared to take place inside a restaurant inside the building at a time when many members of parliament were having lunch.

The parliament building is located in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.

One of the dead lawmakers was Mohammed Awad, a member of the Sunni National Dialogue Front, said Saleh al-Mutlaq, the leader of the party, which holds 11 seats in Iraq's legislature. A female Sunni lawmaker from the same list was wounded, he said.

A security official at the parliament building said identified a second lawmaker killed in the blast as a Shiite MP. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

But Mukhlis al-Zamili of the Shiite Fadhila party said the second dead lawmaker was a Kurd. And he said six of those wounded were members of the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc.......

Earlier, a truck bomb killed at least seven people on a key bridge in northern Baghdad, destroying most of the steel structure and sending several cars plunging into the River Tigris below, police said.

Two main sections of the Sarafiya bridge, a main artery linking east and west Baghdad, collapsed into the river. One army officer on the scene said explosive charges might have also been used to bring down a bridge that local residents said was built by the British in the early 1900s.

Among the dead were four policemen who drowned after their car toppled into the river's muddy waters, police said......."

"Liberated" Iraq

General view of the destroyed bridge after a bomb attack in Baghdad April 12, 2007. A big truck bomb killed at least eight people on a bridge in Baghdad on Thursday, destroying parts of the steel structure and sending several cars plunging into the Tigris River below, Iraqi police said. (REUTERS)


More work for
Kellogg Brown and Root (subsidiary of Halliburton). I wonder if the bomber was a "contractor" working for their DESTRUCTION Division.

Boots with the blood stains of an Iraqi soldier, who was killed in the bomb attack on the Sarafiya Bridge, are seen near shattered glass at the entrance of a hospital in Baghdad April 12, 2007 (Reuters)

Coordinating the Next War?

U.S. defense secretary to visit Israel


"WASHINGTON - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit Israel next week for a series of meetings with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz on the strategic situation in the Middle East.

The visit, scheduled for April 17, is the first time a U.S. Defense Secretary will be visiting Israel in eight years.

American sources told Haaretz on Tuesday that the visit was decided and a date finalized, though an official announcement on the matter has not been made public.

The visit, which comes about a month after Peretz visited Washington, will also deal with bilateral defense ties between the U.S. and Israel......

Gates' main mission at this point is to oversea the renewed effort to stabilize Iraq, in light of President George Bush's decision to increase the number of U.S. troops in that country.

American sources told Haaretz yesterday that Gates is interested in hearing what the Israeli leadership thinks about the situation in Iraq. He is also planning to discuss tactics for dealing with the IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) employed by terrorists in Iraq, which have taken a toll on U.S. forces......"

Night bus from Baghdad

(Click on map to enlarge)

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"....The White House and the State Department insist Syria allows and/or encourages jihadis to cross its border into Iraq - going as far as stating that 90% of the suicide bombers in Iraq have crossed from Syria. They seem to ignore Colonel William Crowe, the Pentagon official in charge of all those Americans on the Iraqi side of the border, who has said, on the record, that there is "no large influx of foreign fighters".

Moreover, "Damascus" has repeatedly confirmed that most of the 724km-long border has been fitted with barbed wire and reinforced sand barriers - and no fewer than 1,500 potential jihadis have been captured or deported.

But the fact is that any enterprising jihadi with geographical positioning and minimal tribal connections could cross this border at will. In theory, "Damascus", from President Bashar al-Assad on down, is interested in combating smuggling and jihadi traffic. The devil is in the details - how the Syrian police/military hierarchy actually deals with the problem.

For starters, Syrian business is in the hands of a powerful Sunni oligarchy. Its members will obviously be tempted to lend a hand to their Sunni muqawama (resistance) brothers in the east. Syrian military forces at wasteland border points - as in Attanf - consist of no more than a few bored men with rifles. Corruption is the norm. Evading surveillance is a matter of walking a few kilometers in the desert.

Historically, Iran, Iraq and Syria were united by the Silk Road. Attanf, for instance, is not very far from fabled Palmyra. The interaction has never ceased. Nowadays we may be seeing a new Silk Road pipeline - not only of men, ideas and commerce but also of weapons. Whatever comes from Iran has to pass through Iraq and Syria to reach Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Palestine (Hamas). Same for Sunni solidarity with Iraq, expressed through men, ideas, commerce or weapons from either Lebanon or Syria.

Accusing Syria of being a suicide-bomber factory is nonsense. The majority of suicide bombers in Iraq are Saudis, and they cross from US ally Saudi Arabia. Syria, since the fall of Baghdad four years ago, may have witnessed an inflation of Islamists, nationalists and former Ba'ath supporters of Saddam Hussein.

For the Syrian government, having its own Islamists crossing the border to fight the Americans in Iraq has always sounded like a good idea: a way of sweeping a problem under someone else's carpet. But to imply that Syria has become a sanctuary of Islamic fundamentalists and radical Ba'athists at the same time is also nonsense......."

'Surge' Architect Rejects 'War Czar' Job

The widespread doubts within U.S. military and intelligence circles that George W. Bush’s Iraq War “surge” can succeed were underscored when one of the plan’s architects, retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, was one of three generals to rebuff a White House offer of a new job dubbed “war czar.”

By Robert Parry

"In December, Keane and neoconservative scholar Frederick Kagan promoted the idea of a U.S. military escalation in Iraq as an alternative to the growing consensus in favor of a phased withdrawal of Amercan combat forces.

At the time, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group was advocating a troop drawdown combined with a stronger commitment to training Iraqi forces and renewed talks with Iraq’s neighbors. But Bush bristled at the implied criticism of his work as “war president,” declaring: “This business about graceful exit just simply has no realism to it whatsoever.”

Bush countered the momentum behind the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations by latching onto the Keane-Kagan “surge” idea. When the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the two commanders then overseeing the Iraq War, Generals John Abizaid and George Casey, resisted the “surge,” Bush ousted Abizaid and Casey and overruled the Pentagon brass.......

.....The American people “don’t want politicians in Washington telling our generals how to fight a war,” Bush said at an April 3 press briefing, scolding congressional Democrats for seeking a gradual withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq.

The polite Washington press corps rarely notes that Bush was the politician in Washington “telling our generals how to fight a war,” that he simply removed senior commanders who disagreed with him.

It now appears that Bush is even having trouble finding a retired military leader to become “war czar.” Not even the guy who helped invent the “surge” wants the job."

The Iraqi resistance only exists to end the occupation

The escalating attacks are not usually aimed at civilians, but are a direct response to the brutal actions of US-led troops

Haifa Zangana
Thursday April 12, 2007
The Guardian

"In Muqdadiyah, 50 miles from Baghdad, a woman wearing a traditional Iraqi abaya blew herself up this week in the midst of Iraqi police recruits. This was the seventh suicide attack by a women since the Anglo-American invasion in 2003, and an act unheard of before that. Iraqi women are driven to despair and self-destruction by grief. Their expectations are reduced to pleas for help to clear the bodies of the dead from the streets, according to a report by the international committee of the Red Cross, released yesterday. It's the same frustration that drew hundreds of thousands to demonstrate against foreign forces in Najaf on Monday.

In the fifth year of occupation, the sectarian and ethnic divide between politicians, parties and their warring militias has become monstrous, turning on its creators in the Green Zone and beyond, and not sparing ordinary people. One of the consequences is a major change in the public role of women......

.....There is only one solution to this disaster, and that is for the US and Britain to accept that the Iraqi resistance is fighting to end the occupation. And to acknowlege that it consists of ordinary Iraqis, not only al-Qaida, not just Sunnis or Shias, not those terrorists - as Tony Blair called them - inspired by neighbouring countries such as Iran. To recognise that Iraqis are proud, peace-loving people, and that they hate occuption, not each other. And to understand that the main targets of the resistance are not Iraqi civilians. According to Brookings, the independent US research institute, 75% of recorded attacks are directed at occupation forces, and a further 17% at Iraqi government forces. The average number of attacks has more than doubled in the past year to about 185 a day. That is 1,300 a week, and more than 5,500 a month.

Another way of understanding this is that in any one hour, day or night, there are seven or eight new attacks. Without the Iraqi people's support, directly and indirectly, this level of resistance would not have happened."

Explosion hits Iraqi parliament

Breaking News

"A major explosion ripped through the Iraqi parliament building in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone today, witnesses and officials said.
The blast - feared to have caused many casualties - appeared to have targeted a restaurant in the building at a time when many MPs and other staff were eating lunch, a witness told Reuters.

Separately, an Iraqi parliament official told the Associated Press that an explosion had happened at the parliament, inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

The apparent attack happened hours after a blast severely damaged one of the main road bridges in north Baghdad, killing at least 10 people and sending cars into the River Tigris below......."


Where is John McCain when you need him?

So, This is What the Palestine Liberation PLO has Been Reduced to......The Most Pathetic "Liberation" Ever

Abed Rabbo: Israel focusses discussion on formalities, not vital issues

"Gaza - Ma'an - Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Executive Committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo has played down the importance of the meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday.

Abed Rabbo told Palestinian radio that the meeting will be between the two men only. He said that Olmert is promoting the idea of a third party being present in the meeting but Abed Rabbo said this will not make the meeting any more fruitful. He said that Olmert is trying to make the presence of a third party a public relations issue more than anything else......."

Algeria Attack and the al-Qaeda Penetration of Africa

Food for Thought

By Kurt Nimmo

"It is sincerely mysterious “al-Qaeda” has a knack of showing up in places targeted by the neocons. For instance, Africa, in particular Somalia and, more recently, Algeria. “Terrorist bomb attacks in Algeria yesterday show al-Qaeda and its allies pose a ‘very real threat’ in North Africa, the U.S. State Department said,” reports Bloomberg. “Al-Qaeda is a ‘current and persistent’ threat in the region, department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington yesterday…. Islamic militants are becoming more active in North Africa, particularly in the Maghreb region of Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria where they have joined forces with al-Qaeda.”

Does AFRICOM ring a bell? It should, that is if you bother to read the newspaper beyond horoscopes and celebrity gossip. Back in February, Defense Secretary Robert “Iran-Contra” Gates “announced the creation of AFRICOM, which will ultimately be responsible for all of Africa except Egypt, which has existing military ties with U.S. Central Command,” according to Stars and Stripes. “AFRICOM’s purpose is to make Africa the primary concern of one combatant command instead of a ’secondary or tertiary’ concern for three other commands.” In other words, the neocons have a keen interest in expanding the WOT into Africa......."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Iranian envoy wounds 'confirmed'

The head of the International Red Cross in Tehran says he saw wounds on an Iranian diplomat who has alleged that US forces in Iraq tortured him.


"Peter Stoeker said there were marks on Jalal Sharafi's feet, legs, back and nose but he was unable to say if they were the result of torture.

Iranian media quoted Mr Sharafi saying the CIA tortured him "day and night".

Mr Sharafi was abducted in Iraq in February and released last week......

Mr Sharafi, second secretary at the Iranian embassy in Baghdad, says he was kidnapped by Iraqi agents operating under the supervision of the CIA.

Iranian state media has quoted Mr Sharafi saying the CIA subjected him to torture as they questioned him about Iranian assistance to groups inside Iraq.

'Evidence of torture'

Iranian television has shown pictures of Mr Sharafi receiving treatment in hospital and quotes a doctor's report saying there are signs someone drilled holes in his feet as well as broke his nose, injured his ear and wounded his neck and back.

The ICRC's Mr Stoeker said he had been happy to meet Mr Sharafi in hospital because his organisation had been unable to find him in Iraq.

He confirmed he saw wounds on Mr Sharafi's feet, legs, back and nose but, not being a doctor, he was unable to say if they were the result of torture and if so, who inflicted them......"

Hezbollah prepared to face another Israeli war


"11/04/2007 Hezbollah deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Kassem said that Washington is waging a covert war against Hezbollah which accuses the US administration of arming militias in Lebanon and seeking to undermine the Lebanese army in moves which could plunge the country back into civil war. In an interview with the Guardian, Sheikh Kassem said that US Vice President Dick Cheney has given orders for a covert war against Hezbollah...there is now an American program that is using Lebanon to further its goals in the region. The accusation follows reports in the US and British media that the CIA has been authorized to take covert action against the Hezbollah as part of wider strategy by the Bush administration to prevent what it terms as the spread of Iranian influence in the region. But Hezbollah accused the Lebanese government of arming groups across the country. "This happens with the knowledge of Fouad Saniora and is facilitated by the security forces under his command," said Sheikh Kassem. The Hezbollah deputy Secretary General accused Washington of foiling attempts by the Lebanese government and the opposition to reach a compromise to solve the ongoing political crisis in the country. "We think that if it wasn't for America's interference, we would have resolved the issue of participating in the government a long time ago," he said. "America is forcing the government forces to prolong this crisis, because they want a price for it... They want to tie Lebanon into negotiations that benefit Israel and their plan for a new Middle East." Sheikh Kassem said Hezbollah did not rule out another confrontation with Israel this summer: "We are prepared for the possibility of another adventure or the demand of American policy that might push the Israeli army in that direction.""

LF, PSP militiamen training in Israel

An Important Story


"11/04/2007 Al-Manar TV special - Manar Sabbagh - Translated /
The Jordanian daily "Al-Wihda" quoted what it described as well informed sources as saying that a group of the Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces (LF) and MP Walid Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) are receiving 3-week military training in special camps in Israel. On the 20th of March, Lebanese House Speaker Nabih Berri unveiled "a phenomena of arming and training in some Lebanese regions," warning against sedition in the country. A Palestinian internet site in lands occupied in 1948 quoted the Jordanian daily as saying that this is the third batch of militiamen to arrive in Israel, coming by air from European countries with passports but without visas. It added that four Lebanese LF and PSP officials accompanied the groups and returned back to Beirut via Paris, which according to the daily, is aware of the ongoing trainings. Prominent American journalist Seymour Hersh said in his most recent study that an Israeli-American crew is overseeing Washington and Tel Aviv's relation with some groups in Lebanon, and that the crew had instructed the leaderships of these groups to execute a plot that would blow up the situation in Lebanon. This came as Hezbollah's deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Kassem told the Guardian daily about a secret American covert war against the party, through arming anti-Hezbollah militias in Lebanon."

Look at This Clown!

Israel must withdraw for peace with 1 billion Muslims, King Abdullah II of Jordan tells AFP

"Bethlehem - Ma'an - Jordan's King Abdullah II urged Israel to end its occupation of Arab land to guarantee peaceful coexistence with the world's Muslims in an interview with Agence France Press (AFP) on Tuesday.

"Israel, the European states, and the United States should realize that the Palestinian issue does not only concern the Palestinians but also has the sympathy of all Muslims from Indonesia to the Maghreb states," he said.

"If Israel wants to coexist with more than 1 billion Muslims, it should end its occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands." ......"


Not ending the occupation was not an obstacle for his rotten majesty to establish and keep full relations with Israel and even become an ally and an enthusiastic supporter; these were the American instructions to their agent. The same instructions to the rest of the agents (including the Saudis) will be obeyed. All talk about "peace initiatives" and end of occupation is just a smokescreen.

Bringing the Troops Home

Cartoon by Mr. Fish (click on it to enlarge)
Contributed by Datta

[Notice the name, FULAYTER = F.U. later?]

Squeezing Palestinians into Impossible Mission

by Nicola Nasser

Global Research, April 11, 2007

".......The security chaos was highlighted by the kidnapping of BBC reporter, Alan Johnston, 44, in Gaza city on March 12th, in the longest captivity a foreign journalist has endured in Gaza over the past three years. The Dogmush family, who is thought to have a militia of about 2,000 men, is suspected of abducting him and was blamed for the abduction of two Fox TV journalists held for two weeks last summer; the family denied these accusations. “This has become a country of mafia,” said Hani Habeeb, a sociologist with Gaza's al-Azhar University......

But there remains the overall violence-breeding incubator of the prevailing security chaos.

First, the blurred national role of the PA security apparatus is eroding public confidence in this role. Externally what is the point in having more than 80,000 of national security personnel when they could not stand up to the IOF to defend their people or at least make their daily onslaughts with a price? Internally, according to Hassan Khraisheh, deputy speaker of the PLC, “What's the point in having 85,000 security officers if they can't free a foreign journalist who has been held in the Gaza Strip for three weeks?” The PA has become the most heavily policed territory in the world, with an officer-to-resident ratio of 1:50; compared to 1:400 in the United States, according to one estimate.

Second, disarming all but the government is a security prerogative, but it will not certainly be a very popular move by the PA to disarm people of personal and overwhelmingly primitive self-defence weapons while they are still under Israeli occupation and their “national” security forces are practically unable and politically committed not to defend them against the ongoing military incursions, extra-judicial assassinations (dubbed by the Israelis “targeted killings”), house demolitions and mass arrests.

Third, the absence of what the US Administration and PA officials have been recently fond of describing as “political horizon,” the deadlocked “vision” of a two-state solution, Israel’s undermining of the Road Map and her rejection of the Arab Peace Initiative are all factors contributing to a destabilizing no-war-no-peace situation that is playing on an already edgy Palestinian nerves and their collective sense of insecurity......."