Saturday, September 8, 2007

Above: The child Ramez Helles, who was shot by Israeli occupation forces, then he died of his wounds (imemc, 9/8/07).

Using the Uniform of the Executive Force to Kidnap Hamas Officer

"Senior Hamas militant Mahawish Al-Qadi was seized by an undercover Israel Defense Forces unit in the Gaza Strip on Saturday Palestinian sources reported.

Hamas said commandos dressed in the light blue fatigues of Hamas's paramilitary police Executive Force drove up to Mohawesh al-Qadi's car outside Rafah on Friday night, bundled him into their vehicle, and escaped......"


It is ironic that the IOF is more successful using guerrilla tactics than the Palestinians who are busy with the trappings of a nonexistent state, including uniformed "soldiers." Not too smart on the part of the Palestinians.

Turkey says two IAF fuel tanks found near its border with Syria

"Turkey has asked Israel for clarification after finding two fuel tanks allegedly belonging to Israel Air Force warplans on its territory near the Syrian border, a Turkish source said Saturday.

The statement came two days after Damascus said that Israeli jets broke the sound barrier flying over northern Syria, (Click here for map) then dropped munitions onto deserted areas after being shot at by Syria's air defenses.

Turkey's top-selling Hurriyet newspaper carried photographs on Saturday of what it said were fuel tanks jettisoned by Israeli F-151s sent to gather intelligence on Syrian installations near the Turkish border.....

The jettisoned fuel tanks were discovered late on Thursday in the Turkish provinces of Hatay and Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, hours after Damascus had accused Israel of bombing its territory. Israel has declined to comment on Syria's charge.

"We have asked Israel to explain what happened," the source told reporters.

The source said Turkish authorities were also trying to establish whether IAF warplanes had briefly violated Turkey's airspace......."

Why Capitalism Needs Terror: An Interview with Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein interviewed by
Kenneth Whyte

"There's a school of thought that free markets and democracy go hand in hand and together they make people free and prosperous. You're arguing that free-market ideology has triumphed around the world not because people have embraced the market but because the ideology has been imposed on them, often in moments of distress. Furthermore, these moments of distress have sometimes been created by governments as a pretext to bring in free-market policies. To top it all off, the policies haven't really worked. They've just enriched the people who introduced them. How's that for a summary?......."

Battle of the Camps

The Siege of Nahr al-Bared


".......Under the leadership of Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, it is Hezbollah which has most challenged the nature of the power structure of the Middle East, aptly represented by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah of Jordan and (King) Mubarak of Egypt. Also included are Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hariri's successor, Fouad Siniora. All enjoy the perks and privileges of servants of the United States and indirectly, Israel.

To undermine Hezbollah, radical anti-Shia groups like Fatah al-Islam were invited into Lebanon (or let out of its prisons) by the current Lebanese government, with the junior Hariri calling on old friends in Saudi Arabia for assistance. But deals with devils often do not go as planned; hence the outbreak of violence in Nahr al-Bared. But similarly-minded organizations remain sprinkled throughout the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon, including its largest, Ain al-Hilwah, located near Sidon in southern Lebanon. In it, the extremist group Asbat al-Ansar resides.

Attacks against UNIFIL troops there are likely at the hands of these Sunni militant outfits. In the case of Asbat al-Ansar, they have conveniently taken up residence in the Shia-dominated part of the country under the protection of the camps, where the government is prohibited from entering by law. Most others function as true "sleeper cells," slowly recruiting and stoking resentment amongst Palestinians in the teeming camps, where unemployment, poverty and desperation also have found sanctuary.

So when will these sleeper cells awake?

It is quite predictable actually. As the United States war drums beat louder and louder against Iran, expect these Saudi, Jordanian and Lebanese hired guns to agitate against Hezbollah, almost on cue. For if there is to be a war against Iran, there will also be a simultaneous one by proxy against Hezbollah.

The saga of The Battle of Camps has just begun and you may not have long to wait before reading Chapter 2."

Will the US Really Bomb Iran?

CounterPunch Diary


".....Weigh it all up, and you'd be foolish to bet that an attack on Iran couldn't happen. I knew Noam Chomsky used to be dubious about the likelihood of a U.S. attack emailed his last week to ask if he is still of that opinion. Here's his answer.

Yes, I was quite sceptical. Less so over the years. They're desperate. Everything they touch is in ruins. They're even in danger of losing control over Middle Eastern oil -- to China, the topic that's rarely discussed but is on every planner or corporation exec's mind, if they're sane. Iran already has observer status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization -- from which the US was pointedly excluded. Chinese trade with Saudi Arabia, even military sales, is growing fast. With the Bush administration in danger of losing Shiite Iraq, where most of the oil is (and most Saudi oil in regions with a harshly oppressed Shiite population), they may be in real trouble.

Under these circumstances, they're unpredictable. They might go for broke, and hope they can salvage something from the wreckage. If they do bomb, I suspect it will be accompanied by a ground assault in Khuzestan, near the Gulf, where the oil is (and an Arab population -- there already is an Ahwazi liberation front, probably organized by the CIA, which the US can "defend" from the evil Persians), and then they can bomb the rest of the country to rubble. And show who's boss.

The peace movement had better pull itself together, remembering that should the bombs start to fall on Tehran, most of the Democrats in Congress will be on their feet, cheering."

Syrian paper: Israel, US coordinated operation

"A Syrian government newspaper accused the US on Saturday of encouraging Israel's reported violation of Syrian airspace by remaining silent on the issue.

"This new Israeli hostile operation was carried out in coordination between Washington and Tel Aviv," the Tishrin newspaper said in a front-page editorial. US silence can only be interpreted as an "overt and scandalous encouragement of Israel," it said........

"How could a superpower call for the establishment of peace and send invitations to some countries to convene a peace conference at a time when it maintains silence over a clear violation of the simplest laws and international norms?" Tishrin said in its editorial on Saturday.

The newspaper also criticized Arab countries for planning to attend the proposed conference. "How would they go to Bush's conference and how would they justify to their people shaking hands with those who kill Palestinians and Iraqis and threaten the Arabs' future with grave consequences?" it said......"

An urge to smash history into tiny pieces

By Robert Fisk

"What is it about graven images? Why are we humanoids so prone to destroy our own faces, smash our own human history, erase the memory of language? I've covered the rape of Bosnian and Serb and Croatian culture in ex-Yugoslavia – the deliberate demolition of churches, libraries, graveyards, even the wonderful Ottoman Mostar Bridge – and I've heard the excuses. "There's no place for these old things," the Croat gunner reportedly said as he fired his artillery battery towards that graceful Ottoman arch over the Neretva. The videotape of its collapse was itself an image of cultural genocide – until the Taliban exploded the giant Buddhas of Bamian......

Beside that same East Sutton church in Kent, there still stands an English tombstone which I would read each time I panted past it in my Sutton Valence school running shorts on wintry Saturday afternoons. I don't remember whose body it immortalises, but I remember the carved verse above the name: "Remember me as you pass by,/ As you are now, so once was I./ As I am now, so you will be./ Remember Death will follow thee."

And I do recall, exhausted and frozen into my thin running clothes, that I came to hate this eternal message so much that sometimes I wanted to take a hammer and smash the whole bloody thing to pieces. Yes, somewhere in our dark hearts, perhaps we are all Talibans."

So, This is What Will Slow Down U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq!

US drawdown likely to be long, slow crawl to Kuwait

".......Every piece of equipment has to be steam cleaned and inspected before it can shipped back to the United States, a process that takes 10 days to two weeks.

"You have to make sure it's agriculturally safe to come back into the United States so you don't bring back vermin that play havoc with our own agriculture over here," the official said.

"It takes time.""

Manufacturing Consent for Attacking Iran: Mortar 'made in Iran' killed British soldier

"Cpl Matthew Cornish, 29, of 1Bn The Light Infantry, died during an attack on a coalition base in Basra last August.

The revelation that an Iranian bomb had been used in the attack comes two days after Lt Col Patrick Sanders, who planned the recent withdrawal of British troops from Basra Palace, said UK forces were fighting "a proxy war" with Iran.

Speaking after the inquest, Cpl Cornish's father Robin said: "I do not think there is any doubt that Iranians are involved.

"It is also just as likely that the insurgent who fired the mortar was not from Iraq either."......"

By Mike Luckovich

Are Petraeus and Westmoreland Birds of a Feather?

By Ray McGovern

".......Today is Sept. 7, 2007, a year and a day since Cpl. Shank was killed. In a few weeks we will know where the small-town Shanks of America stand in the priorities of members of the House and Senate. As far as the president is concerned...well, he does not seem to be very concerned at all. They should simply smile appreciatively as he presents them with a rubber turkey, and then populate the backdrop for photo-ops.

More unconscionable still, those Shanks clearly sit low on the priority lists of those senior generals who command them – generals like the sainted David Petraeus, smart enough to know the war cannot be won, but not courageous enough to come out and say it. The Shanks are merely what we used to call "warm bodies" to throw into the fight.

For many of us with some gray in our hair, we've seen it all before – and, ironically enough, exactly 40 years ago. What Gen. David Petraeus has set in motion, or at least condoned, is the massaging of data to justify what his boss, President Bush, wants to do in Iraq; namely, to keep enough troops "in the fight" in order to stave off definitive defeat before he and Vice President Dick Cheney leave office in January 2009. That's what the "surge" is all about, and Petraeus is smart enough to know that only too well.

Like his apparent role model, Colin Powell, he can bear four stars on his shoulder, but he must also bear on his conscience thousands of dead and wounded Shanks as a result of his eagerness to play in the Bush/Cheney charade. A more precise counterpart to Gen. Petraeus is the late Gen. William Westmoreland, commander of our forces in Vietnam. The argument over whether or not the "surge" is working brings back un-fond memories of the deliberate smoke-and-mirrors approach Westmoreland forced on intelligence analysts in Saigon – and Washington – including deliberate falsification of the numbers on enemy strength......."

The Shiite Power Struggle: Hardly Good News for US in Iraq

By Ramzy Baroud

"......However, despite his seemingly erroneous strategies and media depictions as a 'radical', al-Sadr has actually adopted a very careful balancing act. He has continued to appeal to his Shiite followers in a way that sets him apart from al-Sistani, while simultaneously maintaining good relations with al-Sistani and Iran. He has even occasionally appeared sympathetic to the plight of the Sunnis.

Yet his relative political shrewdness could hardly bridge the gap between the various Shiite groups, which remains essentially ideological and an extension of the theological contention between the Hawza followers of al-Sistani and the followers of Mohammad Sadiq al-Sadr, Muqtada's father. The divide between the two religious Shiite schools is as real as ever and the new economic woes and power struggles are likely to bring back to the fore - and further fuel - these differences. With Badr Brigade claiming 70,000 strong militiaman and al-Mahdi counting over 50,000, both groups are overwhelmed with fear and mistrust; under these circumstances, the prospect of co-existence seems bleak.

We know very little of why al-Sadr decided to send the al-Mahdi army into hibernation. He claims that his militias are being infiltrated by Iran, but this is unconvincing given that al-Sadr uses Iran as a personal escape whenever his safety is threatened at home. The US military continues to crack down on his followers, and the Iraqi military, mostly controlled by his rivals, are carrying mass arrests in al-Sadr city and elsewhere. A lenient al-Sadr may well inspire revolt amongst his followers and send the inner Shiite fight on an early and destructive path, or he might find himself compelled to resume the fight on behalf of his own group. Both scenarios would be bad news for the Americans, who would be forced to watch an escalating Shiite power struggle in a country they supposedly control."


I disagree with Ramzy's conclusion that an escalating inter Shiite fight would be bad news for the U.S. The U.S. goal remains to fragment Iraq into smaller and smaller pieces for easier control. Since the Shiites are the majority (about 60%), they have to be broken up.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Osama bin Laden: The Newest Fake

Contributed by Fatima

What a Joke!
Can't the CIA Hire a Better Makeup Artist?

Elliott Abrams and His Palestinian Contras Discover the Power of "Prayer" in Public Places.....
Abrams: Creative Chaos R US!

Asad is a Good Sport; He Always Turns the Other Cheek

Majadle: Alleged IAF flyover won't spark war with Syria

"In the first reaction from an Israeli official to Wednesday night's alleged IAF foray over Syria, Science, Culture and Sports Minister Ghaleb Majadle said Friday that IAF planes enter Syrian airspace on a daily basis, adding that he did not believe the latest alleged incident would spark off a war.

Majadle told the Nazareth-based A-Sinara newspaper that while he had no specific information about the latest alleged operation, it was likely that "the planes either entered Syrian airspace to take photographs or in error."....."

The Occupation Within

Middle East Mind Lock


"How were the terms of US political and economic debate severed from basic standards of evidence and common sense? Why does the word "hypocrisy" seem inadequate to describe the pretzel logic of the neo-conservatives? Why do the people of the United States remain inert as the madness at the top claims the authority to hemorrhage its execution of Iraq into a nuclear war on Iran?

John McMurtry is a decorated professor of philosophy who has pursued questions like these to the ideological foundations of today's US-centric global empire. (1) His analysis offers insights that can help us identify and think our way out of this now ubiquitous "mind-lock". McMurtry's approach also turns out to be useful for illuminating core ideological contradictions in Israel's US-supported ethnic cleansing regime, which has been forcing Palestinians off their lands for the last 60 years.

McMurtry narrates the ascendance of a "fanatic mind-set" in the west following the demise of the Soviet Union, when "a strange ideological inversion occurred." Marxism's 'economic determinism', "abhorred by liberal theory", was swiftly replaced with the west's own brand of imposed economic determinism. "Inevitable globalization" was framed as a product of unaccountable and unstoppable forces unleashed by a veritable law of nature, the ultimate "wisdom of the market" that benefits all.......

In the US, we face a threat to our national sanity that is similar to the physical danger bearing down on the caged and impoverished Palestinian people-the destruction of what we have left. Our common foe is an irrational ideology that inverts fundamental values and legitimizes crimes against humanity. For us, the struggle to overcome the threat begins in the mind."

Dubya Sticker

By Mike Luckovich

Reporting from Baghdad

By Scott Ritter

"It should come as no surprise that the Bush administration’s newest military-man-of-substance-turned- political lapdog, General Petraeus, maintains that the situation in Iraq is not only salvageable, but actually improving, due to the “surge” of U.S. combat troops into Iraq over the past year. All the president and his collection of GI Joe hand-puppets ask for is more time, more money and more troops.

There is no reason to believe that the compliant war facilitators who comprise the “anti-war” Democratic majority in Congress will do anything other than give the president what he is asking for. No one seems to want to debate, in any meaningful fashion, what is really going on in Iraq......

In a way, Iraq is a manifestation of all that ails America today. A complete breakdown of fundamental societal checks and balances brought on by greed and hubris. From General Petraeus who will give it, to the mindless corporate-owned minions who populate much of Congress who will receive it, to the entertainment-as-news media which will report on it, and to the American people who will consume it with no foundation upon which to evaluate it, the “Petraeus Report” will have little relevance to what is really going on in Iraq. Once again, Americans will be searching for a solution to a problem they have yet to properly define.

Just ask Katie Couric. Or better yet, watch her."

Book review: "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy"

Michael F. Brown, The Electronic Intifada, Sep 7, 2007

"The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy by professors John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt weighs in with 106 pages of endnotes. The controversial tome challenging the might of the pro-Israel lobby is nonetheless accused of "shoddy scholarship" -- much as when the authors' shorter paper on the subject in 2006 unexpectedly burst the bubble of a lobby unaccustomed to challenge and reprimand. However, EI contributor Michael F. Brown finds that the heavy-hitting academics did not suddenly lose their intellectual acumen in penning this well-reasoned criticism of the Israel lobby......"

Stateless democracy

Palestinian sectarian violence looks more and more like Iraq

By Khaled Amayreh
Al-Ahram Weekly

"......"The huge spate of decrees issued by President Abbas is a blunt violation of the amended Palestinian basic law," said Bahr, adding that, "the legislative council will block and annul the violations." Bahr lambasted Abbas for "violating all constitutional articles", accusing him of adopting the proportional representation system in order to "impede the next presidential elections so that he would remain president for life."

Abbas is unlikely to give any attention to Bahr's remarks. On the contrary, the PA president continued to issue vindictive decrees intended to punish Hamas, such as dismissing civil servants appointed by the previous Hamas-led and national unity governments. Moreover, Abbas has decided to outlaw another 20 non-governmental organisations and civic associations.

Last week, Abbas outlawed 103 charitable and civic associations, alleging that these bodies were indulging in illegal activities and that "legal and financial irregularities" marred their operations. West Bank judicial and human rights organisations have denounced the sweeping closures as "illegal" and "flying in the face of the law". The protests, however, are unlikely to seriously influence Abbas and his government which is effectively operating under martial law, which Palestinians now derisively call "a police state without a state"........"

Ignorant thieves

By Azmi Bishara
Al-Ahram Weekly

"If the US proceeds on the basis of the conviction that, after its failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, it needs to score a success in Lebanon by rolling back the opposition through the application of international resolutions, and another success in Palestine by feeding the West Bank and starving Gaza in the hope of compelling the Palestinians to accept anything Israel offers, the only thing it will accomplish will be to propel these two countries to civil war and destruction.

For America's friends and allies in these countries, this is their moment to shine. If they have an ounce of patriotism, they should be able to picture the possibility of national reconciliation and agreements that will spare their countries death and devastation. They can give the Americans some sound advice. They can tell them that no amount of outside support or money will resolve the domestic conflict, that a Hamas desperate enough to initiate resistance in the West Bank, for example, will frustrate the projects dreamed up by various research institutes for a Western-financed social safety net to take the place of the Hamas- run philanthropic societies along with all the economic initiatives conceived in the course of a businessmen's convention in Tel Aviv. They can say that only national reconciliation will work, that local balances of power are one thing and the balance of power in the Security Council another, and that forcing the former to mirror the latter has only succeeded in inflicting on the region an endless train of disasters.......

At some point in the recent past, such concepts as "the battle of Arabism" and the Arab "fight for survival" against Israel have become objects of derision, a kind of adolescent joke among teenagers who have just discovered the signs of puberty and who already show signs of never being able to grow up. The fact is, however, that these were not airy slogans but rather the substance of an actual phase in Arab perception of a peril that is now looming closer than ever. This understanding has eluded those to whom "national liberation" was never more than a slogan, who tout the pragmatism of any settlement with Israel at all, and who blame the Palestinians for holding this up. Regretfully, their reading of reality, their knowledge of Israel as based on this reading, and their total dependence on Israel's good intentions, has only worked to whet Israel's appetite for extorting more. Their take on reality lets them operate on the assumption that the US is prepared to use its influence to get Israel to back down and that Israel is eager to help them save face when needed. It is a take that is certainly not founded on facts, but then facts and information are not this generation's forte. Indeed, I would suggest that the generation of Gamal Abdel-Nasser and the old Baathists were far more informed, far more realistic, and immeasurably less corrupt........"

Bin Laden: Still Dead After all these Years

By Kurt Nimmo

"It hardly comes as a surprise… Osama plans to release “a new video recording … on or before next week’s sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States,” reports the Voice of America, the propaganda unit established by the Office of War Information. “No photos or video of Bin Laden have been seen since late 2004, and the last audio message attributed to the fugitive terrorist leader was heard more than a year ago.” Of course, this makes perfect sense, as Osama died in late 2001, and as for the audio messages, these are routinely dismissed as fakes, although this is rarely mentioned by the corporate media......."

By Steve Bell, The Guardian

Global poll shows most people want US out of Iraq

Mark Tran
Friday September 7, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

"Most people across the world think American troops should withdraw from Iraq within a year, according to a BBC poll published today.

The BBC World Service survey, released just before Congress receives a landmark report on George Bush's "surge", underlined the unpopularity of the president's Iraq policy.

In the poll, 39% of people in 22 countries said troops should leave now, and 28% backed a gradual withdrawal. Only 23% wanted them to stay until Iraq is safe......."

Britain 'backed US decision to disband Saddam's army'

The Independent

"The British Government and military high command fully supported the controversial US policy of disbanding Saddam Hussein's armed forces after the 2003 invasion, according to Washington's former proconsul in Baghdad, Paul Bremer.

Stung by remarks from President George Bush that he alone had been responsible for one of the most disastrous mistakes of the war while running the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), Mr Bremer went to some lengths to set the record straight yesterday and provided previously unknown details of British support for the US policy......"

Iran spinning centrifuges - and half-truths

By Gareth Porter
Asia Times

"Iran claims to have achieved its goal of 3,000 operational centrifuges in its uranium-enrichment program. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is closely monitoring activities, puts the figure much lower. Iran has good reason to exaggerate as it maneuvers to have its nuclear dossier moved from the United Nations Security Council back to the IAEA and tries to avert a military confrontation with the United States......"

Thursday, September 6, 2007

What's next for Nahr al-Bared

Jamal Ghosn, Electronic Lebanon, Sep 6, 2007

"......Sadly, the repopulation without proper reconstruction of Nahr al-Bared would not lead to standards of living much different than those in Ein al-Hilwe or Sabra. The lack of utilities and infrastructure will not be missed much as the residents of Nahr al-Bared faced the same problems even before the birth of Fatah al-Islam and the destruction of the camp. Over the years, Palestinian refugee camps have been decked with a constant dose of heavy artillery of Lebanese government, Arab, and international neglect. Neglect as ravaging as the half-ton bombs airlifted from the US and other third-party allies like Jordan to be dropped on Nahr al-Bared. The attention given to Nahr al-Bared will rapidly wane, and as always none of the humanitarian or political issues associated with the Palestinian camps will be addressed. Meanwhile, a new generation of Palestinians can now claim their own painful memories of the ongoing struggle for existence. The refugees from Nahr al-Bared and elsewhere are left, until further notice, with only hopes and prayers that the next incident involving one of their camps will not be as bloody and devastating as previous episodes."

Bush, Iran and Israel's Hidden Hand

Nuclear Hypocrisy in the Middle East

Former CIA Analysts

"The internet is loaded these days with reports of the inevitability of a U.S., or a U.S.-Israeli, attack on Iran. Some writers allege that the attack is imminent. Others, including the writers of this article, argue only that the attack will happen sometime before January 2009, when the Bush administration leaves office. Many of these stories have by now been picked up by the mainstream media. In fact, it is probably safe to say that today a majority of the traditionally cautious and so-called respectable foreign policy experts in the U.S. think it is at least possible that Bush will attack Iran before he leaves office.

Such is the power of recollection with respect to how Bush bulled his way into invading Iraq in 2003 that many people simply accept that he might gamble on doing it again. He has made it clear that in this "War on Terror," victory means everything to him. He might also believe that a win in Iran could reverse current setbacks in Iraq and also bring victory closer for the U.S. and Israel in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. And he has already shown that he is willing to accept the killings of hundreds of thousands or even a million people in the hope of going down in history as a great commander-in-chief......."

Hizbollah 'did not use civilians as cover'

The Independent

"In its strongest condemnation of Israel since last summer's war, Human Rights Watch said yesterday that most Lebanese civilian casualties were caused by "indiscriminate Israeli air strikes".

The international human rights organisation said there was no basis to the Israeli claim that civilian casualties resulted from Hizbollah guerrillas using civilians for cover. Israel has said that it attacked civilian areas because Hizbollah set up rocket launchers in villages and towns. More than 1,000 Lebanese were killed in the 34-day conflict, which began after Hizbollah staged a cross-border raid, killing three Israeli soldiers and capturing two others......."

Should ‘Pragmatist Intellectuals’ Decide Refugee’s Fate?

There are Palestinian intellectuals who do not deal with the Palestinian refugees from the viewpoint of the Israelis, but their views have not and will not be recognized by the PA leadership and the West pro-Israel policy makers.

A Very Good Article
By Hasan Afif El-Hasan
Special to

"......Joseph Massad, a realist himself, observed that pragmatism in the Palestinian intellectuals discourse “is one wherein everything Israel accepts is pragmatic”. It should not come as a surprise that Mr. Khouri was co-recipient of the pro-Israeli Pax Christi International Peace Award for his efforts to bring peace and reconciliation to the Middle East. What peace! US pro-Israeli organizations do anything they can to recruit and promote the careers of Palestinian intellectuals, such as Rami Khoury, who are willing to support the Israeli strategic goals. They are given generous grants for research, chairs in high education institutions, memberships in US sponsored fact finding committees, invitation to participate in conferences and of course peace awards. They are “invited to the Brookings Institution and become regulars on US televisions”. Yassir Arafat received the Nobel Prize for peace for squandering the gains of the first Intifada by signing the ill-fated Oslo Accords.

There are Palestinian intellectuals who do not deal with the Palestinian refugees from the viewpoint of the Israelis, but their views have not and will not be recognized by the PA leadership and the West pro-Israel policy makers. They have been sidelined, ignored by the West and fiercely attacked by the self-proclaimed pragmatist supporters of Oslo fiasco for speaking their minds since 1993. They were described as “anachronisms relegated to the dustbin of history”. Driven by desires to be accepted by Israel and the West, Arafat intellectual compradors referred to those who opposed Oslo as people imprisoned in miserable past.

It is ironic that books of Edward Said, a realist and a critic of Oslo, have been banned only in the Palestinian territory under the PA control but not in Israel proper or anywhere else in the world. And all PA administration since 1993 upheld the ban. Shouldn’t the self-proclaimed pragmatic intellectuals come back and apologize to Said today even in his memory since he had been proved to be right all the way and they have been dead wrong? I don’t think they will because they have sold their souls with their intellectual potential and identity to the enemy of the Palestinian cause. Very few have recognized the gaffs of Oslo agreements and bailed out, but none of the major players and supporters. Rashid Khalidi, a strong advocate of the refugees’ right of return, was one of those involved in Madrid process but opted out soon after realizing that Oslo agreement was a scam.

Salman Abu Sitta, a realist Palestinian intellectual is another voice, but it will not be registered on the political radars of the West because he has not surrendered his intellect to protect the Israeli interests. On the refugees’ issue, he does not agree that the right of return for the Palestinian refugees should be tied to what is practical from the viewpoint of the Israelis at the expense of the Palestinians. From his perspective, the return of the refugees to their lands is “practical and feasible”. He has a plan to implement it. And he supports his argument with documents on the Palestinian land in Israel proper that had been confiscated by Israel and the depopulated villages. Abu Sitta work should inspire the young refugee leaders to skip the empty slogans of the PA leaders and be very suspicious of solutions offered by the Palestinian comprador intellectuals associated with the West.

The refugees constitute seventy percent of the Palestinians and there will be no peace unless their issue is resolved. They should not give the comprador intellectuals a mandate to compromise their absolute and inalienable right of return to their homes and property in Israel proper. And they should insist on receiving full compensation for losses and damages that had been incurred.

The refugees have lost all previous rounds with Israel but they cannot afford to lose the final one. This time around, if they lose because they trusted the self-proclaimed pragmatist intellectuals to decide their fait, they should blame none but themselves."

Syria and Iran: The Threats That Aren't

by Michael Scheuer

".......Surely, if Senator Lieberman truly believes the Syrians are a threat to America, the people of Connecticut have sent – hopefully unwittingly – someone akin to the agent of a foreign power to the U.S. Senate. Syria might be a threat to Israel, but the idea that it is a threat to the United States, that the armored Syrian horde may sweep across the Bronx, occupy Manhattan, and lasciviously ogle New Jersey, should be met with the most appropriate response possible – convulsive and derisive laughter.............

....While Iran is a threat to Israel, there is surely no threat to America in Iran's less-than-impressive military forces, nuclear development program, or unattractive public diplomacy. No, the threat to the United States comes from two sources. First, the relentless "Iran is the new Nazi Germany" propaganda pushed by Israel and the American citizen Israel-firsters, and, second, the multi-decade failure of the U.S. Congress to seriously address the national-security issues of energy, borders, and immigration......

.....Americans have been ripe for the delusions induced by the periodic visits of Binyamin Netanyahu and other Israeli politicians, and their well-staged rants that equate the creaky, mostly foreign-purchased, and slightly more than tin-pot military machine of the Ayatollahs with Hitler's Wehrmacht, the product of an extremely modern industrial economy, a united populace ready for revenge against its conquerors, and the Germans' apparently genetic talent and taste for war. To say that Netanyahu, other Israeli politicians, and their American Israel-first supporters are being disingenuous in pushing the Iranian threat would be incorrect. They are consistently and blatantly lying......."

Lebanon cries victory, but is it too soon?

By Robert Fisk

"The victory of the Lebanese army at the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp – the killing of up to 100 al-Qa'ida-type insurgents at the cost of 163 Lebanese soldiers and 42 civilians – is being greeted in the country with "trumpetings" and "hootings" worthy of the country's greatest poet, Khalil Gibran........

But Gibran, whose Garden of the Prophet was published in 1934, warned that we should "Pity the nation that... boasts not except among its ruins... whose art is the art of patching and mimicking..." And, after 106 days of fighting, the ruins of Nahr el-Bared are a sea of Dresden-like walls and collapsed slums, of booby-traps and unexploded bombs.

The Lebanese government has promised to rebuild the whole fandango. The Palestinians are the brothers of the Lebanese, they say – and what other Arab government would be so generous after the carnage of the past four months? But everyone is asking where the next battle will begin......."

Don't mention the A-word

An Israeli journalist has got into trouble with British Zionists for describing Israel as an apartheid state.

By Richard Silverstein
The Guardian

"Danny Rubinstein, Arab affairs editor of Haaretz newspaper and a member of its editorial board, has landed himself in hot water with the British Zionist community. He had the temerity to say something outside Israel that can be read in his own newspaper and others quite regularly. At a UN conference on Palestinian human rights he called Israel an "apartheid state":

Rubinstein, the Israeli newspaper's Arab affairs editor and a member of its editorial board, [said] "today Israel is an apartheid state with different status for different communities," according to sources at the event, held at the European parliament in Brussels. He went on to say that Palestinians living in Gaza, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israel each had 'a different status'," according to a summary of his speech by a United Nations website.

For this, British Jewry unfurled a "not welcome" sign and cancelled its co-sponsorship of a speaking engagement for the New Israel Fund in London on September 3.........."

Iraq's government has failed, but America's isn't doing so well either

Even supporters of the Bush administration criticise its incompetence and the dysfunctional political system behind it

Timothy Garton Ash in Washington
Thursday September 6, 2007
The Guardian

"As we approach the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US, and General David Petraeus's report on the "surge" in Iraq, the question being asked here, even by staunch Republicans who share the president's goals, is: why has the Bush administration been so incompetent? Behind that is a larger question about how the American political system as a whole is failing to deliver consistent policy and good governance. In the course of three months spent in the US, I have heard this larger issue raised again and again by people with intimate experience of the ways of Washington.

Congress, the administration and senior military commanders berate the Iraqi government for failing to meet Washington's political and security "benchmarks". But the long-suffering ordinary people of Iraq are entitled to ask in return how the American government has delivered on its own promises....."

By Tom Toles

From al-Qaeda to al-Quds

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"PARIS –In 2002, in the runup to the war against Iraq, the George W Bush administration changed the subject from its failure to destroy al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan to Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

In 2007, in the run-up to the coming war against Iran, the administration has changed the subject from its abject failure in Iraq to Iran's also non-existent nuclear weapons. The manufacture-of-consent techniques are exactly the same - the apocalyptic 2007 Bush forecast of an Iranian-orchestrated "nuclear holocaust", echoing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's apocalyptic 2002 prediction of a Saddam Hussein-orchestrated "mushroom cloud".

Vastly experienced European diplomats, from Paris to the European Union headquarters in Brussels, confess their helplessness and impotence. They also confirm off the record that Bush's brand-new European poodle, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, is convinced the US president will order the bombing of Iran's nuclear sites –not to mention general infrastructure. A number of chancelleries are already working under this premise.......

The Iranian regime anyway is clearly getting ready to face the coming attack.

Kazemi Qomi, the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad, hails from the IRGC. Speaking this week to official news agency IRNA, he has indirectly warned the US in no uncertain terms "any change in [Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-] Maliki's government will lead to the outbreak of a security crisis in Iraq". This could be code, for instance, for the IRGC-trained Badr Corps giving to the Iranians the precise coordinates of American forces to be targeted inside Iraq.......

This fine strategist [Jafari] identifies the IRGC's role as mostly "deterrence and defense". More importantly, he characterizes the IRGC as a popular organization excelling in asymmetrical war - "similar to the one Hezbollah fought against Israel" in his own words - and, one might add, similar to what Iran will fight against the US. His message to the US after his appointment was clear: "I suggest that they end their presence and interact with Islam and countries of the region from afar. This will surely be to their benefit and I suggest that they leave the region as soon as possible.".....

The only guiding logic of the US far right in power is permanent war. The hellish mechanism is already in place. Any pretext will do for Bush to order an attack on the Quds force inside Iran. The IRGC will retaliate. And there it is, the precious casus belli for "shock and awe" remixed. First the bombing of Quds; then the bombing of Bushehr, Natanz and Isfahan. The whole of Iran, out of Persian national pride, will rally behind Ahmadinejad, the supreme leader, the IRGC and the theocratic police state. So much for regime change. "

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Those five nukes on that B-52 may have something to do with Iran

Staging Nukes for Iran?

By Larry Johnson
(Mr. Johnson, who worked previously with the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism, is a recognized expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, crisis and risk management)

"Why the hubbub over a B-52 taking off from a B-52 base in Minot, North Dakota and subsequently landing at a B-52 base in Barksdale, Louisiana? That’s like getting excited if you see a postal worker in uniform walking out of a post office. And how does someone watching a B-52 land identify the cruise missiles as nukes? It just does not make sense.

So I called a old friend and retired B-52 pilot and asked him. What he told me offers one compelling case of circumstantial evidence. My buddy, let’s call him Jack D. Ripper, reminded me that the only times you put weapons on a plane is when they are on alert or if you are tasked to move the weapons to a specific site.

Then he told me something I had not heard before.

Barksdale Air Force Base is being used as a jumping off point for Middle East operations. Gee, why would we want cruise missile nukes at Barksdale Air Force Base. Can’t imagine we would need to use them in Iraq. Why would we want to preposition nuclear weapons at a base conducting Middle East operations?

His final point was to observe that someone on the inside obviously leaked the info that the planes were carrying nukes. A B-52 landing at Barksdale is a non-event. A B-52 landing with nukes. That is something else.

Now maybe there is an innocent explanation for this? I can’t think of one. What is certain is that the pilots of this plane did not just make a last minute decision to strap on some nukes and take them for a joy ride. We need some tough questions and clear answers. What the hell is going on? Did someone at Barksdale try to indirectly warn the American people that the Bush Administration is staging nukes for Iran? I don’t know, but it is a question worth asking."

In Spite of a Ban in Sydney of Anti-Bush Protests.....
This is How the War Criminal Was Received

Riverbend is Out! Now a Refugee...

Leaving Home...

".......Syria is the only country, other than Jordan, that was allowing people in without a visa. The Jordanians are being horrible with refugees. Families risk being turned back at the Jordanian border, or denied entry at Amman Airport. It’s too high a risk for most families......

The Syrian border was almost equally packed, but the environment was more relaxed. People were getting out of their cars and stretching. Some of them recognized each other and waved or shared woeful stories or comments through the windows of the cars. Most importantly, we were all equal. Sunnis and Shia, Arabs and Kurds… we were all equal in front of the Syrian border personnel.

We were all refugees- rich or poor. And refugees all look the same- there’s a unique expression you’ll find on their faces- relief, mixed with sorrow, tinged with apprehension. The faces almost all look the same.

The first minutes after passing the border were overwhelming. Overwhelming relief and overwhelming sadness… How is it that only a stretch of several kilometers and maybe twenty minutes, so firmly segregates life from death?

How is it that a border no one can see or touch stands between car bombs, militias, death squads and… peace, safety? It’s difficult to believe- even now. I sit here and write this and wonder why I can’t hear the explosions.

I wonder at how the windows don’t rattle as the planes pass overhead. I’m trying to rid myself of the expectation that armed people in black will break through the door and into our lives. I’m trying to let my eyes grow accustomed to streets free of road blocks, hummers and pictures of Muqtada and the rest…

How is it that all of this lies a short car ride away?"

Born in Lakeland; detained by Israel (Because of Palestinian Heritage)

A family is told seven of their children cannot leave via Tel Aviv

St. Petersburg Times

"LAKELAND -- A large Lakeland family has been split in two temporarily by complex Israeli travel restrictions that forced the mother to leave seven of her children behind when they attempted to fly home.

On Aug. 18, Wedad Yacoub and 10 of her children -- all U.S. citizens -- were returning from a family visit in the West Bank through Tel Aviv, the same airport through which they had arrived more than two months before.

Israeli officials initially tried to block the family from leaving, saying they had to go through Jordan, a travel restriction that applies to Palestinian residents of the West Bank. Officials finally permitted Wedad Yacoub and her three youngest children to fly home, but the other seven children are still in the West Bank, two weeks later with no resolution in sight.

"I can't believe that children who were born in Lakeland could have their American citizenship ignored by a country so friendly to the U.S," said Wedad.

Even Israeli officials couldn't readily explain it......"

CNN News: U.S. seizes 'Iran agent' in Iraq

Sara, Mahmoud and Yehya

Yassmin Moor writing from Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, The Electronic Intifada, Sep 5, 2007

"Sarah Abu Ghazal's school uniform still lay on her mattress, untouched as she had left it before running out after her cousins Mahmoud and Yehya Abu Ghazal on Wednesday, 29 August. She was to begin the fourth grade on 2 September, but her friend Amani, who has accompanied her to school since the first grade, would walk alone this year. Sarah's mother had bought her the blue school uniform, blue jeans and the black shoes just the day before she was killed by Israel tank fire. Her mother waited until the last minute to buy Sarah's school supplies because she was waiting for her husband's salary which he had not received since June. Still full of life, Sarah was readying her new clothes for the start of the school year when Yehya called for her to come out and play.

Ten-year-old Mahmoud looked up to Yehya and followed him wherever he went, as he did not have any brothers of his own. On the day he died he had just finished telling his mother not to buy him anything for school until Yehya had acquired his things. He made her promise only to buy the same things that Yehya had. Mahmoud was killed alongside Yehya and now lies buried right beside him......."

Iraq: Government Death Squads Ravaging Baghdad

By Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily

"The death toll is high - in all 1,536 bodies were brought to the Baghdad morgue in September. The health ministry announced last month that it will build two new morgues in Baghdad to take their capacity to 250 bodies a day.

Many fear a government hand in more killings to come. The U.S. military has revealed that the 8th Iraqi Police Unit was responsible for the Oct. 1 kidnapping of 26 Sunni food factory workers in the Amil quarter in southwest Baghdad. The bodies of ten of them were later found in Abu Chir neighbourhood in the capital......

While there is little evidence of direct U.S. involvement, questions have arisen over what the U.S. forces have done - or not done - to encourage such killings........"

Naomi Klein's new book a lightning rod

The Toronto Star

"The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, a painstakingly detailed analysis of how corporations manipulate natural and manmade disasters to line their pockets and further their privatizing agenda, is not a marginal, academic treatise by a lefty think tank targeted at a small, like-minded audience.

It is a book by a bestselling writer and activist who also happens to be one of the anti-globalization movement's most recognizable faces. It's also a book that comes with its own promotional documentary, a short directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In other words, instead of being consigned to pointy-headed discussion in unread academic journals, it is a book that has the potential to become a lightning rod of controversy and debate......."

Hamas flag goes up in Lebanon camps

Anand Gopal, Electronic Lebanon, Sep 5, 2007

"BADDAWI CAMP, Lebanon, 5 September (IPS) - There is a new look to the entrance of the Palestinian refugee camp Baddawi in northern Lebanon. Hanging above the armed man who guards the entrance are posters of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the slain spiritual leader of Hamas, and other fighters from the Palestinian guerrilla group. Nearby, a huge Hamas banner covers the side of a house, and down the road Hamas flags flutter in the wind. Just months ago, such banners and posters would have been torn down by supporters of the rival Fatah party. But many residents here say that they have grown disillusioned with Fatah (known in Lebanon as Fatah Abu Ammar) after its defeat in Gaza in June and its handling of the crisis at the nearby refugee camp Nahr al-Bared......

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) officials in Lebanon, led by members of the Fatah party, sided with the army, despite what many here perceive as indiscriminate shelling of Nahr al-Bared.

On Sunday, the Lebanese army declared victory, after more than three months of fighting, and everywhere Lebanese are waving flags and honking horns in support. But instead of rejoicing, many Palestinians here are angry with Fatah and the PLO for failing to protect civilians. "These politicians allowed the Lebanese army to destroy the whole camp," said former Nahr al-Bared resident Abdel Salaam Khader, who lost a brother in the fighting. "We have been exposed many, many times to Israeli bombs, but even the Israelis destroyed certain places and not a whole camp." He added, "They could have dealt with the fighters in a different way, not in a military way. The Palestinian leaders made an agreement with the government that caused us to lose our homes and possessions."

When fighting began and the first wave of displaced Palestinians arrived at the Baddawi camp, Fatah leaders promised funds for reconstruction, compensation for victims of violence, and talks with the army to ensure that the camp would not be destroyed. But according to many of the displaced, the Palestinian leadership has not delivered on any of these promises. Locals also accuse Fatah and other PLO leaders of not preventing the army from arbitrarily detaining and torturing Palestinians fleeing the violence. "Fatah Abu Ammar did not protect civilians, and on the contrary they gave the Lebanese army and government all the help they needed," said a former Nahr al-Bared resident who asked not to be named. "Until now we don't have a clear timetable about the future, about the rebuilding of our camp, the date of our return, or what will happen to Nahr al-Bared. Fatah Abu Ammar didn't give us any help; they only went on TV and made grand promises. They only give money to those who belong to them. But Fatah Abu Ammar has given us nothing."

Samer Diad, another local resident, added, "While Abu Ammar (Yasser Arafat) was alive, we called them Fatah Abu Ammar. Now we call them Fatah of the Thieves."......

Despite the PLO's decline, however, it always had a strong base in Lebanon. But with the ascendancy of Hamas in the Occupied Territories, Fatah's negotiations with Washington and Tel Aviv and the siege of Nahr al-Bared, many analysts contend that Fatah's support in the camps of Lebanon is at an all-time low.

Ashraf Ibrahim, analyst and community leader at the Njaz Community Centre in Baddawi, insisted that many people looked to Fatah to represent the Palestinian people in Gaza and in Nahr al-Bared, but in both cases Fatah failed. "Fatah Abu Ammar wants to be the unique force in all of the camps," he said. "They want to crush the other groups and become the unique representation for the refugees. Therefore they have good relations with the government, but they don't talk about Palestinian rights."......

However, many Palestinians here in former Fatah strongholds are turning to Hamas. "Hamas is gaining influence here," Ashraf said, "because from the beginning they took the right position. They said we are against the military aggression of the army. They said we will pressure the politicians to help our displaced and work until everyone is returned to their home."

Moreover, Hamas' takeover of Gaza in June and its insistence on demanding the right of return of refugees to the Occupied Territories has only increased its standing in the eyes of many in the camps. When asked about the issue of right of return, Fatah representative Subiyeh told IPS: "Leave it for hundreds of years."

For the Palestinians of Baddawi and Nahr al-Bared, many twice displaced and living eight to a room, this may be a hard pill to swallow."

Who Are the Fanatics?

The Politics of Blind Hatred


"......In America today blind ignorant hate against Muslims has been brought to a boiling point. The fear and loathing is so great that the American public and its elected representatives in Congress offer scant opposition to the Bush administration's plan to make Iran the third Middle East victim of American aggression in the 21st century.

Most Americans, who Harris believes to be so reasonable, tolerant, and deliberative that they cannot defend themselves, could not care less that one million Iraqis have lost their lives during the American occupation and that an estimated four million Iraqis have been displaced. The total of dead and displaced comes to 20 percent of the Iraqi population. If this is not fanaticism on the part of the Bush administration, what is it? Certainly it is not reason, tolerance, and deliberation......"

The End Begins

The Iraq War is Political Plutonium


"This is the way the world ends,
not with a bang but a whimper.

-T. S. Eliot

So President of the United States George W. Bush "diverted" a flight to Australia to a desert base in Anbar Province, Iraq (Sure he did.). Anbar Province is now being effectively run not by US occupation forces, but by the armed Iraqi nationalist forces that fought the US to a standstill there -- with the cooperation of the same US forces. This is being spun as a successful "counter-insurgency" campaign.

Many who opposed the war in Iraq, and the many more who just disliked the Bush administration, certainly had different expectations of what forms the end of that war might take. And this is certainly the beginning of some kind of end. That is not a call to complacency. Fight against this warlike lives depend on it. They still do. I just feel compelled to counter-spin it.

With El Presidente on this "surprise" trip, as it happened, were the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. Meeting them on this remote base between Baghdad and the Syrian border was none other than Bagwan Petraeus, the current Vivekananda of counter-insurgency doctrine and the latest in a long line of Generals who will be dragged into historical ignominy by this Commander-in-Chief.

The Ba'athists of Anbar seem to bear no grudges, even for the genocidal revenge that was visted on Fallujah. This bespeaks a political sophistication (or Realpolitik, choose your term) that is miles ahead of the power curve in Washington DC. Only lately, it seems, as the mad mandarins of The Project for a New American Century chirp with bellicosity at Persia, has it occurred to the administration that the raison d'etre of US policy in the region since 1979 -- containing the surprise independence of Iran -- has been judo-flipped into an Iranian Era, in the same moment that the privatized Islamist militias of the Afghanistan operation (also cranked up courtesy of the CIA circa 1979) have metastasized into a popular movement that threatens the US-obedient rulers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Pakistan......

Now the whole US National Command Authority is sitting together with former enemies surrounded by the sands of Anbar.

Someone is cutting deals.

Someone else is preparing to spin a victory, just as they are spinning the surrender of Anbar as the success story of the invasion and occupation......."

Middle East Madness

By Stephen Lendman

"Administration rhetoric is heated and the dominant media keep trumpeting it. It signals war with Iran of the "shock and awe" kind - intensive, massive and maybe with nuclear weapons. Plans are one thing, action another, and how things play out, in fact, won't be known until the fullness of time that may not be long in coming. For now, waiting and guessing games continue, and one surmise is as good as another. The more threatening they are, the less likely they'll happen, or at least it can be hoped that's so.

It's not media critic, activist and distinguished professor emeritus Edward Herman's view. He writes "the situation now is even more menacing than we faced in 2002-2003 when the Bush gang was readying us for the invasion (and) occupation of Iraq. There is strong evidence that Bush-Cheney and company are about to attack Iran (and) the groundwork is being set with a flood of propaganda, helped by the media and Democrats." It may be "his last (crazed) hope for immortality" and possible attempt to revive "Republican strength through this classic maneuver of cornered-rat politicians."

Most frightening is that the Bush administration doesn't have enough of a bad thing and may want more of it. This time, however, the stakes are incalculable, the risks over the top, and the chance for success (from an American perspective) almost nil if post-WW II history is a good predictor. Distinguished historian Gabriel Kolko notes in all its conflicts since 1950, America never lost a battle and never won a war. It's a world class bumbler, never learns from its mistakes, and only succeeds, in Kolko's words, in making an "unstable world far more precarious" than if it left well enough alone........"

This deployment was always doomed

By Patrick Cockburn

".......Could the British have done any better?

The problem was the belief that because in 2003 the Iraqis were glad to be rid of Saddam Hussein, they would welcome a foreign occupation force.

The Sunni in central Iraq rose in rebellion in 2003 but the Shia, though willing to use the occupation, never accepted it as legitimate.

In fact, an increasing number supported armed resistance.

They saw the rhetoric of President George Bush and Mr Blair about installing democracy in Iraq as propaganda concealing a neocolonial adventure."

Spotlight on Lebanon

Free trade and elections in Lebanon mean little to a population without healthcare, education or social services, the EU should note.

By Mai Yamani
The Guardian

".......Attempting to politically isolate and disarm Hizbullah is a task that the EU-led UN force cannot accomplish and should not attempt, for it would mean war, with Syria and Iran in the background. But were the EU to resign itself to mere observer status in Lebanon, the UN and Europe would lose all credibility. An armed peace has held for a year. But an armed peace never lasts. The mission must therefore walk a fine line to bridge the country's communal divisions, which will be possible only with a clear understanding of Lebanon and the wider Middle East.

The road toward peace rather than ceasefire in Lebanon precludes the EU's participation in America's emerging "containment" strategy vis-a-vis Iran, at least in its current form, which is based on organising the resistance of Sunni states to Shia influence. For the Shias are the biggest of Lebanon's three religious communities. They also form a majority in some Gulf states, as well as in the oil-rich regions of Saudi Arabia. So a neat Shia-Sunni dividing line cannot be drawn.

Europe should instead push for new constitutional and institutional solutions that ensure the Shias have a legitimate role in the political arrangements of Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states - all places where they now regard themselves as third-class citizens. Giving the Shias a real stake in the nations in which they live is the only way to satisfy the craving for empowerment that they feel after so many years of suppression.

Europe must also recognise why leaders like Hizbullah's Sheikh Hasan Nasrullah are popular. Anti-Americanism and an aggressive foreign policy are, of course, part of the allure of men like Nasrullah. But what has really allowed Hizbullah (and Hamas, for that matter) to win elections and cement support is their ability to provide education, health, and other social services, particularly to the poor......."

It is not the end, but the first chapter of the war in Iraq is drawing to a close

The British exit from Basra palace, remarks by the US defence chief and fledgling peace talks are all telling signs of change

Jonathan Freedland
Wednesday September 5, 2007
The Guardian

"Lord knows, it makes no sense to be anything but a pessimist when it comes to the war in Iraq. The occupation remains as bloody and fruitless as the original invasion was fraudulent and needless. The killing and dying go on, with any let-up only relative and slight. So it would be naively hopeful to see in a series of moves these last few days anything so clear as a breakthrough. But we might detect at least a change, the passing of one phase of this dread conflict into another. As Churchill said following the victory at El Alamein in 1942: "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."......"

It Isn’t a Peace Conference.....
It is Conspiring Against the Palestinians

A Bruised Reed

By Uri Avnery

".....I once likened our situation to that of a gambler at a roulette table, who has an incredible streak of luck. In front of him, the pile of chips grows and grows. He could stop at the right moment, change the chips into millions of dollars and live happily ever after. But he cannot. The betting fever will not let go. So he continues even when his fortunes change, with predictable results.

At this moment, we are at the height of our power. Our connection with the U.S., which is still all-powerful, gives us a standing much beyond our natural capabilities.

This is the time to change the chips for money, exchange our temporary gains for permanent assets. To give up the occupied territories and make peace, establish good relations with our neighbors, strike deep roots in the region, so that we will be able to hold on when the will and ability of America to protect us at all costs has evaporated.

That is even more true if we take into consideration the rise of Islamic radicalism, which is a natural reaction to the actions of the American-Israeli axis. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the main cause for this earthquake, which may one day unleash a tsunami. Both we and the Americans would be well advised to start work soon on removing the causes of this natural phenomenon.

America is far from being a bruised reed – now. Those who want to can still lean on this staff for some time to come. But it would be wise for us to make good use of this time to ensure our existence in peace in the coming world."

More Money for Israel?

They're richer than ever, and they don't need it – so why are we giving it?

By Justin Raimondo

".......As Mearsheimer and Walt have pointed out, neither the practical nor the moral case for this extraordinary amount of material support is justified: our Israel-centered foreign policy has been a burden to us in our dealings with the other nations of the Middle East, and it is increasingly clear that U.S. and Israeli interests have diverged since the end of the Cold War. Contrary to the Lobby's assertion that 9/11 made their fight our fight, the exact opposite is the case. Anti-Americanism in the Muslim world is a deadly danger to our national security and a great boon to Osama bin Laden and his many imitators around the globe. This arming of the Israeli Sparta is a strategic and diplomatic liability that grows with each passing year........"

Empire of Stupidity

by Tom Engelhardt

".....Whatever brief respite his August embrace of Vietnam may have given him in the polls, it involved a larger concession on the administration's part. Like its predecessors, the Bush administration and its neocon supporters simply couldn't kick the "Vietnam Syndrome" – much as they struggled to do so – any more than a moth could avoid the flame. Now, they found themselves locked in a desperate, hopeless attempt to use Vietnam to recapture the hearts and minds of the American people.

It's possible to track this losing struggle with the Vietnam analogy over these last years. Take one issue –- the body count – on which we know something about administration Vietnam thinking. For Americans of the Vietnam era, a centuries-old "victory culture" – in which triumph on some distant frontier against evil enemies was considered an American birthright – still held sway. In Vietnam, when it nonetheless became clear that the promised frontier victory was, for the second time in little more than a decade, nowhere in sight, American military and civilian officials tried to compensate.

One problem they faced was that the very definition of victory in war – the taking of terrain, the advance into hostile territory that signaled the crushing of enemy resistance – had ceased to mean anything in Vietnam. In a guerrilla war in which, as American grunts regularly complained, you couldn't tell friends from enemies, no less hold a hostile countryside, something else had to substitute for the landing at D-Day, the advance on Berlin, the island-hopping campaign in the Pacific. And so the "whiz kids" of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's Pentagon and the military high command developed a substitute numerology of victory.

Everything was to be counted and the copious statistics of success were to flow endlessly up the chain of command and back to Washington, proof positive that "progress" was being made......

Jump almost five years to October 2006 and a president thoroughly frustrated by an inability to show "progress" in his war of choice, despite proclaiming that "major combat operations in Iraq" had "ended" in May 2003 and presenting a National Strategy for Victory in Iraq in November 2005. In an outburst to a group of sympathetic conservative journalists, he revealed just how much he yearned for the return of the body count: "We don't get to say that – a thousand of the enemy killed, or whatever the number was. It's happening. You just don't know it," he exclaimed in frustration.

And why exactly couldn't the president reveal that figure – of which he was inordinately proud – to the American people? "We have made a conscious effort not to be a body-count team," was what Bush told the assembled journalists and pundits, indicating in the process how much conscious planning for Iraq as the not-Vietnam had actually taken place in the White House as well as the Pentagon......."

Bardawil warns: Blair's current tour prepares for war

"GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, the spokesman of the Hamas-affiliated change and reform parliamentary bloc, has charged that the international quartet committee's envoy Tony Blair's current tour of the region aims at achieving serious goals.

Bardawil, in a press statement, charged that the tour was part of a scheme preparing the atmosphere for a war in the region and for Arab normalization with Israel in return for nothing.

However, he belittled the importance of Blair's tour, affirming that he would fail in achieving any breakthrough in the Middle East settlement process.

"We do not hinge any hope on the visit because there is no real intention for peace or any real peace process in the region," he underscored, adding that preparations are underway for waging a war on Syria or Iran.

The former British premier, who failed in running his country's internal and external policies would not succeed in conspiring against the Arab and Palestinian questions, Bardawil affirmed.

He added that another important goal of Blair's tour is to convince Egypt and Saudi Arabia among other Arab countries to attend the autumn conference in the USA along with Israel to impose normalization with occupation.

Within his current tour of the region, Blair met in Alexandria on Tuesday with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to discuss means of pushing forward the Middle East peace process, an official statement said."

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Iraq, Israel, Iran

By David Bromwich

"......Admittedly, it was a showdown speech, reckless and belligerent, to a soldier audience; but then, this has been just the sort of crowd and message that Cheney and Bush favor when they are about to open a new round of killings. And in a sense, the Senate had given the president his cue when it approved, by a vote of 97-0, the July 11 Lieberman Amendment to Confront Iran. It is hardly an accident that the president and his favorite tame senator concurred in their choice of the word "confront." The pretext for the Lieberman amendment, as for the president's order, was the discovery of caches of weapons alleged to belong to Iran, the capture of Iranian advisers said to be operating against American troops, and the assertion that the most deadly IEDs used against Americans are often traceable to Iranian sources--claims that have been widely treated in the press as possible, but suspect and unverified. Still, the vote was 97-0. If few Americans took notice, the government of Iran surely did........

The hottest cries for another war have been coming this summer from Joe Lieberman. He has called for attacks on Iran, and for attacks on Syria. It is as if Lieberman, with his appetite for multiple theaters of conflict, spoke from the congealed memory of all the wars he never fought. But Joe Lieberman is a stalking-horse. He would not say these things without getting permission from Vice President Cheney, a close and admired friend. Nor would Cheney permit a high-profile lawmaker whom he partly controls to set the United States and Israel on so perilous a course unless he had ascertained its acceptability to Ehud Olmert.

Yet the chief orchestrater of the second neoconservative war of aggression is Elliott Abrams. Convicted for deceptions around Iran-Contra, as Lewis Libby was convicted for deceptions stemming from Iraq--and pardoned by the elder Bush just as Libby had his sentence commuted by the younger--Abrams now presides over the Middle East desk at the National Security Council. All of the wildness of this astonishing functionary and all his reckless love of subversion will be required to pump up the "imminent danger" of Iran. For here, as with Iraq, the danger can only be made to look imminent by manipulation and forgery. On all sober estimates, Iran is several months from mastering the nuclear cycle, and several years from producing a weapon. Whereas Israel for decades has been in possession of a substantial nuclear arsenal.

How mad is Elliott Abrams? If one passage cited by Mearsheimer-Walt is quoted accurately, it would seem to be the duty of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to subject Abrams to as exacting a challenge as the Senate Judiciary Committee brought to Alberto Gonzales. The man at the Middle East desk of the National Security Council wrote in 1997 in his book Faith or Fear: "there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live. It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart--except in Israel--from the rest of the population." When he wrote those words, Abrams probably did not expect to serve in another American administration. He certainly did not expect to occupy a position that would require him to weigh the national interest of Israel, the country with which he confessed himself uniquely at one, alongside the national interest of a country in which he felt himself to stand "apart...from the rest of the population." Now that he is calling the shots against Hamas and Hezbollah, Damascus and Tehran, his words of 1997 ought to alarm us into reflection........"

Protesting Bush Outlawed At APEC

Authorities turn Sydney into a prison camp and refuse "permission" for main organizations to march, characterizing protest as "an unlawful act"

"Authorities have effectively outlawed protest at the APEC summit in Sydney Australia by refusing to grant "permission" for groups to march anywhere in the city, while quarantining part of the central business district within a 3-mile wide security fence.

Around 100 protesters were able to stage a demonstration outside Sydney's main railway station today, but they were heavily outnumbered by police and media.

New South Wales (NSW) state Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione characterized the protests as "an unlawful act" during a press conference and urged others not to get involved........"

US used me, says veteran

The New Zealand Herald

"Matt Howard came to Sydney this week to shame his Australian namesake, Prime Minister John Howard, and castigate his own President, George W. Bush.

As Bush flew towards Australia after visiting troops in Iraq, and Prime Minister Howard winced at the latest appalling poll predicting a landslide to Labor in this year's election, the 26-year-old former Marine made a sobering confession.

"In 2003 I illegally invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq with the 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division," he said. "The man that is still, sadly, my commander-in-chief arrives [last night] unwelcome in Sydney.

"He unleashed the world's fiercest fighting force upon the country and people of Iraq, and now those of us used and betrayed by him are demanding justice."

Former Marine Howard, who survived two tours in Iraq, is at the vanguard of a movement determined to use the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit to strengthen opposition to the continued occupation of Iraq......."

Rep. Bamboozled by Neocons, One Million Iraqis Die as a Result

By Kurt Nimmo

"As the neocons prepare to sell us another lemon—this time a shock and awe mass murder campaign against Iran—it is demonstrative to reflect upon the convoluted lies the neocons passed off as supposedly damning “intelligence” prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. For instance, those with a sharp memory—or sharper than the average American amnesiac—may recall the neocons claiming Saddam Hussein possessed UAV drones, infernal machines he planned to use against American grade schoolers and other such innocents.

“In a town hall meeting in Bloomsburg, Pa. this week, Rep. Paul Kanjorski, a 12-term congressman, said that shortly before Congress was scheduled to vote on authorizing military force against Iraq, top officials of the CIA showed select members of Congress three photographs it alleged were Iraqi Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), better known as drones. Kanjorski said he was told that the drones were capable of carrying nuclear, biological, or chemical agents, and could strike 1,000 miles inland of east coast or west coast cities,” Walter Brasch writes for Counterpunch. “Kanjorski said he and four or five other congressmen in the room were told UAVs could be on freighters headed to the U.S. Both secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and President Bush wandered into and out of the briefing room, Kanjorski said.”......"

Indonesia expresses surprise at aborting resolution to end siege on Palestinians

"JAKARTA, (PIC)-- Indonesian officials expressed their astonishment to MP Mushir Al-Masri that the PA representative at the UN had aborted a draft resolution tabled by Indonesia and Qatar so as to end the siege imposed on the Palestinian people and to open the Rafah crossing.

The officials affirmed, during meetings with Masri the secretary-general of the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform Bloc, the Indonesian people's support for the Palestinian people until the termination of the Israeli occupation, and underlined that Indonesia will never halt raising the Palestinian cause in international conventions and would exert all efforts possible to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people.

In an exclusive statement to the PIC in Jakarta, Masri, who recently concluded a visit to Jakarta, stated: "During this tour, we seek to clarify the truth of what has happened in the Gaza Strip to many officials in the Islamic East Asian countries, especially Malaysia and Indonesia, whose peoples have never hesitated to provide constant support for the Palestinian people and its legitimate resistance."

The MP expressed thanks to Indonesian government and people for their efforts in supporting the Palestinian cause and people and extended an apology for the irresponsible position of the PA representative at the UN who follows orders of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, considering it a political crime against humanity and a connivance with the IOA over the siege imposed on the Palestinian people.

For his part, Dr. Mohamed Al-Agha, the agriculture minister of the caretaker government, warned on Tuesday of the continued closure of the Mintar crossing (Karni) in the face of exports and imports to and from the Gaza Strip.

In a statement issued by the ministry's information section, Agha highlighted that the government sent several letters to Arab countries, international concerned parties and human rights organizations, urging them to intervene to lift the unjust embargo imposed on the Gaza Strip by the IOA in participation with European, regional and local parties."

Cheney Orders Corporate Media to Sell Iran Attack

By Kurt Nimmo

"Buried in the New Yorker and yet uncovered by Paul Joseph Watson is an item by George Packer about “instructions” handed-down from on-high by Cheney’s office—call it Neocon Central—to sell the attack of Iran to the American people. Packer quotes Barnett Rubin, described as having “connections to someone at a neoconservative institution in Washington,” and this institution, likely the American Enterprise Institute, where Bush gets his criminal “minds,” has instructed the complaisant corporate media to sell the attack.

“They [the source’s institution] have ‘instructions’ (yes, that was the word used) from the Office of the Vice-President to roll out a campaign for war with Iran in the week after Labor Day,” Packer quotes Rubin, “it will be coordinated with the American Enterprise Institute, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, Fox, and the usual suspects. It will be heavy sustained assault on the airwaves, designed to knock public sentiment into a position from which a war can be maintained. Evidently they don’t think they’ll ever get majority support for this—they want something like 35-40 percent support, which in their book is ‘plenty.’”....."

Iran warns US over risks of military action

"Iran on Tuesday issued a stark warning to the United States over the danger of launching a military attack, saying Washington could never foresee the size of its response against US troops in the region.

"The US will face three problems if it attacks Iran. Firstly, it does not know the volume of our response," said General Rahim Yahya Safavi, the new special military advisor to supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

"Also, it can not evaluate the vulnerability of its 200,000 troops in the region, since we have accurately identified all of their camps," added Safavi, who stepped down last week as head of the elite Revolutionary Guards.

Safavi also warned over how Iran's reaction to a US attack could affect Israel - Tehran's regional archfoe - and also crude oil supply from the world's fourth-largest producer.

"Secondly, it does not know what will happen to Israel and, thirdly, the United States does not know what will happen to the oil flow," he was quoted by the ISNA news agency as saying......."