Saturday, December 22, 2007

PCAS offers mediation to ending crossings crisis

"Popular Committee Against siege (PCAS) expressed today, Saturday, full readiness to act as mediator among all parts to reopen Gaza's borders. PCAS stated that there must be a compromise among all sides to ensure permanent opened crossings including Rafah terminal.

The committee confirmed that this step comes from its awareness towards alleviating suffering of students, patients, labors, businessmen and all society classes. The PCAS asserts that it works far from any political affiliation.

This initiative comes today, December, 22, 2007, after widespread news among formal Palestinian figures and politicians as well. Additionally, there have been some decelerations made by international individuals regarding operating Gaza's crossing points under international control.

Palestinian independent MP and Chairman of PCAS, Jamal N El Khoduri, welcomed any agreements that could lead to reopening all crossings and facilitating trade movement as well as individuals. Thus, this will help to alleviate sufferings of people.

El Khoduri said that PCAS believes that there would be a possibility to find out a compromise that leads to end the recent suffering and reopens closed crossings for the past 6 months. "The closure of these crossings caused environmental, health and economic crises on the ground. These crises will leave negative impacts for long time" Stated Chairman El Khoduri.

He called all linked parts to start working rapidly to meet the Palestinian people's requirements in the Gaza Strip regarding reopening crossing points. Chairman asserted on the importance of these crossing considering them as vital life's vein.

The chairman called upon the International community to put more pressure on Israel to end this humanitarian crisis.

"the raised funds and donations proposed for Palestinians in Paris economic conference will not contribute in the development process in case the recent situation remains as it is. The statuesque in Gaza strip includes flagrant violations of human rights accords, charters and four Geneva conventions." PCAS's chairman said."

Refusing to accept apartheid in Beit Jala

Trees marked with white will soon be uprooted to make way for the wall in Beit Jala.

The wall runs through the agricultural lands in Beit Jala.

By Adri Nieuwhof and Amer Madi writing from Beit Jala, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 22 December 2007

"Last night the rains finally arrived in Beit Jala, a small town in the West Bank, one kilometer west of Bethlehem and about eight kilometers south of Jerusalem. Its alluring hills are covered with olive trees, vineyards and apricots. In 1967 Israel confiscated 22 percent of Beit Jala's land. Now, the construction of Israel's separation wall is in full swing and will cut off another 45 per cent of Beit Jala's land. We went to visit the area to feel the impact of the wall and listen to the stories of the farmers who didn't sell their land and choose to resist its confiscation......."

Society on Steroids

Life on a Titled Field


"There's been talk all this week about that stunning report from former Senator George Mitchell revealing that Major League Baseball players, including some of the sport's biggest stars, have been using steroids for years. The findings prompted my fellow journalist and friend Dick Starkey to recall an important insight into America by the eminent social critic, Jacques Barzun. A Frenchman by birth, now 100 years old and living in Texas, Barzun, like his illustrious ancestor Alexis de Tocqueville, has been a canny interpreter of the American character. "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America," he once wrote, "had better learn baseball."

So what do we learn about ourselves from the Mitchell Report? That something is flowing through our veins other than red corpuscles. It turns out owners, players and the players' union were complicit in ignoring the growing use of steroids and other illegal drugs in our national pastime. But suppose our national pasttime has become our national pathology? Ours is a society on steroids, and we're as blind as baseball's owners were a decade ago......."

What If America Were Invaded and Occupied?

"Unembedded" journalist Dahr Jamail reviews Meeting Resistance. With video.

By Dahr Jamail

""Suppose Iraq invaded America. And an Iraqi soldier was on a tank passing through an American street, waving his gun at the people, threatening them, raiding and trashing houses. Would you accept that? This is why no Iraqi can accept occupation, and don't be surprised by their reactions," says "The Imam," a young man from a mixed Sunni-Shia family, as he explains the genesis of the insurgency in Iraq and its exponential growth......

The eighty-five-minute groundbreaking film focuses on ten members of the Iraqi resistance. Interspersed with stunning footage of the aftermath of car bomb attacks, of frightened soldiers aiming their weapons at crowds of Iraqis, and of burning remains of destroyed military vehicles, the meat of the film is the words of the fighters themselves.

"I felt a fire in my heart," one of them recounts. "When they occupied Iraq, they subjugated me, subjugated my sister, subjugated my mother, subjugated my honor, my homeland. Every time I saw them I felt pain. They pissed me off, so I started working [in the resistance]."

The complex nature of their lives speaks to the intricacies of the Iraqi resistance.....

Aside from screenings at international film festivals and numerous private and public shows, Connors and Bingham screened the film at West Point, the U.S. Marine Corps staff college at Quantico, and Baghdad.

Bingham feels that the film represented a radically different perspective to the military personnel who viewed it.

"The bulk of the people were taking on new information that was a dramatic paradigm shift for them," she says. "To see their enemy as largely fighting for their homeland because of nationalism and religion, rather than being terrorists, is a big deal.""

Apartheid-style Fight for Democracy Looms

Despite seeing the one-state train coming down the track, it is unlikely that Olmert will accept a just two-state solution. He is more likely to try to impose a bantustan on Abbas.

By James Bowen
Palestine Chronicle

"Samuel Johnson, who once said that "a second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience", would have had something pithy to say about anybody expecting justice for the Palestinians from the Annapolis process. Too many past initiatives have been derailed by the intransigence of Israeli governments whose tactic has long been to delay justice in order to deny justice.....

Olmert is surely aware that a group of Palestinian and Israeli intellectuals issued a declaration last week in which they called for "a single state . . . that does not privilege the rights of one ethnic or religious group over another".

Despite seeing the one-state train coming down the track, it is unlikely that Olmert will accept a just two-state solution. He is more likely to try to impose a bantustan on Abbas. If he does, the South African-style struggle will not be long behind. "

On ‘Israel’s Right to Exist’

There is an enormous difference between "recognizing Israel's existence" and "recognizing Israel's right to exist".

By John V. Whitbeck
Special to

"Almost two years after the most democratic elections ever held in the Arab world, as Palestinians struggle to survive in two disconnected and hostile fragments of historical Palestine, a besieged Gaza Strip and a coopted West Bank, with the enemies of the Palestinian people sending arms and funds to the side perceived as responsive to Israeli and Western wishes for use against the side perceived as representing Palestinian interests, the justification put forward by Israel, the United States and the European Union for their refusal to accept the result of the January 2006 elections, their determined efforts to overturn that result and their brutal collective punishment of the Palestinian people -- the refusal of Hamas to "recognize Israel" or to "recognize Israel's existence" or to "recognize Israel's right to exist" -- merits serious examination......

Those who recognize the critical importance of Israeli-Palestinian peace and truly seek a decent future for both peoples must recognize that the demand that Hamas recognize "Israel's right to exist" is unreasonable, immoral and impossible to meet. Then they must insist that this roadblock to peace be removed, that the siege of the Gaza Strip be lifted and that justice -- not simply "peace", which can be a euphemism for the successful repression of resistance to injustice -- be pursued, with the urgency it deserves, with all legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people."

O little (divided) town of Bethlehem

This year's traditional nativity scenes reflect the bitter conflict raging in the Holy Land: a separation barrier divides the wise men from the baby Jesus. Donald Macintyre reports

The Independent

"The Bethlehem craftsman Tawfiq Salsaa says simply that he was "inspired" to produce the first model with a "political meaning" he has turned out in more than half a century of continuous carving in olive wood and mother of pearl. "I was thinking about our problems and I thought that if Jesus was to come here today, he would find a wall. Then I started working on it. That's how it came to express our situation."

"It" is certainly the most striking crib you'll find this Christmas, deftly combining the nativity with the stark realities of Bethlehem 2,007 years later. Its beautifully carved wooden parts, detachable for easier packing and dispatch, depict the familiar scene of the infant Jesus, Joseph and Mary, the three wise men, complete with camels, and depending on the buyer's taste, a palm tree or a stable, to indicate that there was no room at the inn.

But in the middle, separating Magi from manger, is an unmistakable representation of the Israeli military's separation barrier, the forbidding eight-metre-high wall that snakes round Bethlehem from the terminal-like checkpoint at the northern entrance to the city and which leaves such an indelible impression on every first-time pilgrim on their way to the Church of Nativity from Jerusalem at this – or any other – time of the year.....

......But the barrier will be a burning issue for far longer than this Christmas rush – and not just round Bethlehem but for the whole of its 450-mile route, much of it cutting into the West Bank, dividing many communities from their relatives and neighbours, agricultural land and, sometimes, schools, universities and 24-hour medical services – trapping some 50,000 Palestinians between it and the 1967 Israeli-border. Around Bethlehem, the barrier will, in the words of a UN report in July this year, "sever the last route between Bethlehem and Jerusalem and isolate the majority of Bethlehem's agricultural hinterland". Some two miles into the West Bank side of the 1967 green line, it means that farmers in its western districts will only be able to reach their land by going through a tunnel that passes under it....."

Blair called for BAE inquiry to be halted

David Leigh and Rob Evans
Saturday December 22, 2007
The Guardian

"Tony Blair's personal role as prime minister in halting the Saudi arms sale bribery investigation is revealed in court documents which the Guardian is publishing in full on its website.

Government memos stamped "Secret" reveal that the then attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, twice tried in vain to stop Blair interfering in the criminal investigation.

His chief of staff told the cabinet secretary, Gus O'Donnell, on October 3 2006: "The attorney general is of the firm view that, if the case is in fact soundly based, it would not be right to discontinue it."....."

Official memos released in court case (pdf)

Witness statement by head of Serious Fraud Office (pdf)

Video: Prince Bandar, challenged as to whether there is corruption in deals with the Saudi royal family, replies: "Yes. So what?"

They Survived the Mongols From the East, But Can They Survive the Barbarians From the West?

Can Iraqi sites that have survived seventeen centuries survive the US military?

"American soldiers in Iraq have been issued with thousands of packs of playing cards urging them to protect and respect the country’s archaeological sites, in an effort to curb the destruction and plunder of Iraq’s antiquities......

.....The effort to induce greater cultural awareness among US troops comes amid dire warnings from international archaeologists that Iraq’s ancient heritage is in greater peril than ever.

The looting of the Iraqi National Museum in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion caused widespread outrage, but with the security situation deteriorating, the robbery of ancient sites has accelerated to feed a booming illegal trade in stolen artefacts.....

....But some experts say that the well-meaning effort to instil cultural sensitivity in the troops comes far too late.

In one of the most notorious incidents, US troops constructed a helicopter pad on the ruins of ancient Babylon, filling sandbags with remains from what was once the holy city of Mesopotamia. The US military base built five years ago on the site of the ancient city of Ur, believed to have been the home of the prophet Abraham, is also causing irreparable damage. Under the Hague Convention heritage sites should not be used as military bases. US officials said that the base at Babylon had been built to protect the site, a claim dismissed by most archaeologists."

Justifying the Iraq War: Why the NIE Is Wrong

by Gordon Prather

".....In any case, Kissinger, Schlesinger and the Likudniks argue that the principal reason the Iranians "halted" their alleged nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003 – if they, indeed, did – was that Bush launched his war of aggression on Iraq and they were afraid they would be next.

In other words, the 2007 NIE on Iran justifies Bush's war of aggression against Iraq.

Of course, if Scott Ritter is right, the Iranians never had a nuclear weapons program to halt. And, the Likudniks and the neocrazies have known that all along."

Israel wants to annihilate Palestinians, not reach peace with them

Comment by Khalid Amayreh in the occupied West Bank

"......In less than forty eight hours, more than 24 Palestinians have been killed. A large number of people have also been injured, some sustaining serious wounds that will leave them crippled for the rest of their lives.

The wanton killings are added to the manifestly evil blockade Israel has been imposing on the 1.5 million Gazans, which has already wreaked havoc on all aspects of life there.....

Yes, there are no gas chambers in Rafah and Khan Younis and Nablus. And Palestinians are not being shipped en mass to crematoria.

However, Palestinians are being killed nonstop, each hour and every hour, seven days a week, four weeks a month, in their homes, their kitchens, their streets and their neighborhoods.

In fact, a PR-savvy Israel doesn’t need “gas chambers” to kill Palestinians, even on a genocidal scale. It can and it is killing them rather quietly but constantly through an open-ended campaign of murder and terror, which has been going on for over 60 years. This murderous obscenity is being done while virtually everyone else, from the calamity called Condoleezza Rice to the infamy called Mahmoud Abbas, keeps babbling about the virtues of peace and moderation......

Today, the Palestinian people, especially in the Gaza Strip, are facing a looming genocide at the hands of the Nazis of our time. This looming genocide, a preview of which is already being demonstrated for quite sometime, could be affected in collusion with several parties, including the nefarious American administration, the whoring European Union and, of course, the quisling-like Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah.

Hence, Palestinians and their friends must never indulge in too much of wishful thinking by miscalculating that the world public opinion would prevent Israel from going too far. Well, the world public opinion has been dead for a long time.

And the influential powers in this world, e.g. those states that are capable of pressuring Israel, are part of the problem and can’t be part of the solution.

The US, for example, which invaded and destroyed two Muslim nations and killed or caused the death of a million innocent Muslims, all under the mendacious rubric of the war on terror, will not seriously object to having Israel kill a million or two million Palestinians under the equally mendacious rubric of “self defense” and “preserving Israel as a Jewish state.”.....

A few days ago, an Israeli cabinet minister threatened a genocide against Israel’s own non-Jewish citizens. This minister was quoted as saying that “those who keep invoking the Nakba, a new Nakba shall fall on their heads.”......"

Friday, December 21, 2007

'Father Christmas' beaten in West Bank demo

"BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AFP) - Israeli guards beat five demonstrators, including one dressed as Father Christmas, during a protest on Friday against Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank, organisers said.

About 50 Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists attended the rally in the village of Um Salomona, near Bethlehem, the Biblical birthplace of Jesus that is preparing to celebrate Christmas.

Israeli border guards armed with truncheons briefly detained one activist and beat another five during the rally, the organisers told AFP, adding that one was wearing a Santa Claus costume......"

A Video Repost: They Have Cancelled Christmas in Bethlehem: The Wall Must Fall

Xmas Greetings...

By Layla Anwar

"I have it fresh for you guys...

While you are doing your Xmas decoration and writing good wishes cards...
While you are on your usual bulimia of shopping and stuffing your frigdes and cupboards with more...
While you are arranging your, oh so sweet green Xmas tree and arranging for your Santa to stuff socks for your kids with all kind of goodies... How nice, how generous!
Stuff the socks and stuff the turkey, eat, drink and be merry...

Why not indeed. You deserve it. You are such a good people, with such a great conscience. Who could really say otherwise?

Well got news for you fellow "humans", I can say otherwise...

The latest figures from UNICEF on the children of Iraq reads as follows:

- 2 Million Iraqi kids this month are DIRECTLY threatened by disease, illiteracy, violence and famine.

- 25,000 kids are displaced each month and are susceptible to getting killed .

and do not forget the Bingo, Jackpot, Luck charm number for your holiday seasons,

-5 Million Iraqi kids are orphaned . OK Let me spell it for you again. ORPHANED. That means, they lost BOTH parents.

So when you are busy stuffing yourselves with more and more, remember those figures, for they are of YOUR doing. Yes, you read me right- Your own doing.

And since you are such forward planners and visionaries with agendas full with your 5 and 10 year plans and you can supposedly think and see beyond your navel and nose, do take 5 minutes of your precious time and envisage what the future of Iraq will look like with these numbers...

And do say hello to your lovely little ones will you ?!

And oops, I nearly forgot to wish it - Happy, happy, Xmas to the "civilized" world."

فريق أوسلو ومهزلة الدولة..!!

بقلم:أ.د. محمد اسحق الريفي

"علينا ألا ننظر إلى فريق أوسلو على أنه يمثل الشعب الفلسطيني، فقد اندمج هذا الفريق كلية مع النظام الصهيوني، وأزال كل الحدود الفاصلة بينه وبين هذا النظام، خاصة بعد مؤتمري أنابوليس وباريس، وأصبحنا نعيش الآن مهزلة جديدة بعنوان إقامة الدولة الفلسطينية القابلة للحياة وفق رؤية بوش.

وتتمثل هذه المهزلة في إطلاق مفاوضات عبثية باسم "مفاوضات الحل النهائي" بين فريق محمود عباس وحكومة الاحتلال الصهيوني، بينما يشترك الطرفان في حرب مفتوحة على حركة حماس والمقاومة الفلسطينية، ويتبادلان الأدوار بينهما في هذه الحرب المفتوحة بذريعة السعي لإقامة الدولة الفلسطينية الموعودة وفق خريطة الطريق التي وضعها بوش..!!

وبذلك تكون هذه المفاوضات مجرد مسرحية للضحك على الجماهير الفلسطينية والعربية وذر للرماد في العيون وخداع للرأي العام العالمي، ووسيلة يستخدمها فريق أوسلو لتبرير عدوان الاحتلال الصهيوني والتغطية على جرائمه ضد الشعب الفلسطيني. ويتخذ فريق أوسلو الدولة الفلسطينية الموعودة أمريكياً ذريعة لما يمارسه هذا الفريق من قمع لحركة حماس في الضفة المحتلة ومحاصرة غزة وتجويع أهلها ومعاقبتهم جماعياً، ولاندماجه مع النظام الصهيوني العالمي من حيث المواقف والممارسات والأجندة والأهداف.

ولذلك فقد أصبحت مفاوضات الحل النهائي هدفاً بحد ذاته للطرفين المتفاوضين، بل أصبحت – من وجهة نظر فريق أسلو والنظام الصهيوني – حلاً نهائيا للقضية الفلسطينية، ومناسبة للتنسيق الأمني بين الفريقين وتنفيذ مهام المرحلة الأولى
وعلى أي حال، لم يعد الأمر ينطلي على أحد، فرئيس سلطة أوسلو "محمود عباس" ورئيس حكومته غير الشرعية "سلام فياض" وكل فريق أوسلو، لا يمثلون الشعب الفلسطيني بأي شكل من الأشكال، وإنما هم مجرد وكلاء للاحتلال الصهيوني وشركاء له في الحرب على المقاومة الفلسطينية، بل هم سماسرة يتلقون مليارات الدولارات لبيع فلسطين وشعبها على رؤوس الأشهاد ضمن صفة تم عقدها بين هؤلاء السماسرة الجدد وبين الاحتلال ورعاته في مؤتمر باريس.

ولذلك لا بد للشعب الفلسطيني – كي يحمي مقاومته ويصون حقوقه من البيع في المزاد العلني – أن يعلن براءته من فريق أوسلو، وعليه أن يرفض الأموال المسيسة التي تأتي عبر هذا الفريق من السماسرة، وعليه التعامل بجد مع الخطر المحدق الذي يشكله فريق أوسلو على شعبنا وقضيته، وعليه أن يضع نهاية لهذه المهزلة الخطيرة."

7 British soldiers killed by the same gun. Was it Juba's Gun?

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)
"A single trained marksman is suspected of killing seven British soldiers in separate attacks in Iraq, an inquest heard on Thursday.

The sniper's victims are thought to include Cpl Rodney Wilson, who was killed when he was shot in the back while trying to rescue an injured colleague in Basra.

Analysis of the bullet which struck him showed it was fired from the same American-made weapon which has been involved in the deaths of six other servicemen in the city.

Cpl Wilson's father, Richard, said: 'It's almost certainly the same person firing it, some sort of hired shooter probably.'....."

Top Hezbollah official blasts Bush, says Lebanon rejects his tutelage

"The militant Hezbollah group lashed out on Friday at U.S. President George W. Bush for urging Lebanon's anti-Syrian lawmakers to push through their own choice for president if need be to resolve the country's long political deadlock.....

....Hezbollah's deputy leader, Sheik Naim Kassem, said in a statement Friday that the American leader's orders will not be implemented in Lebanon. "Bush still thinks he can bet again on achieving some gains for America and Israel in Lebanon, despite consecutive and accumulated failures in the region," Kassem said, apparently referring to U.S. policies in Iraq and Hezbollah's war last year with Israel.....

Parliament had been scheduled Saturday to try again to start the process of electing army chief Michel Suleiman as president. But opposition leader Michel Aoun told reporters Friday that there will be no vote Saturday because there is no agreement and all dialogue lines are broken.....

The continued deadlock has also dealt a blow to hopes of a warming between the United States and Syria after Damascus participated in last month's Mideast peace conference in Annapolis, Md.....

"The March 14th Coalition can run their candidate and their parliament; majority plus one ought to determine who the president is. And when that happens, the world ought to embrace the president," Bush said.

"Syria needs to let the process in Lebanon work," Bush said, sharply rejecting any dialogue with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"My patience ran out on President Assad a long time ago," Bush said. "And the reason why is, is because he houses Hamas, he facilitates Hezbollah, suiciders go from his country to Iraq, and he destabilizes Lebanon. And so, if he's listening, he doesn't need a phone call. He knows exactly what my position is.".....

American President Bush announced the bad news and gave his direct orders to his group in Lebanon to violate the constitution, Kassem said. "At a time when the Lebanese are trying to reach an accord, he is trying to create problems between them."

"Bush, your orders will not be implemented and your tutelage is rejected," Kassim said. "Lebanon is not a farm that you can do whatever you want with it."......"

One More Time.....Lebanon delays presidential vote to Dec. 29

Election postponed for tenth time after Western-backed coalition and Syrian-backed opposition fail to agree on how to share power in government to be formed once new president takes office.

"A Lebanese presidential election scheduled for Saturday has been postponed until Dec. 29, the parliament speaker said on Friday, the tenth delay to the vote......"

Iraq Does Exist

If you are a fan of Nir Rosen, the following article will make you stop and think, and perhaps change your opinion of him. I never accepted many of Rosen's assertions and I often suspected his motives. This well-written article takes many of Rosen's statements and systematically refutes them.

A Good article that escaped my attention at the time of its initial posting, but well worth reading:

By Ghali Hassan
(an independent writer living in Australia)

"The history of trying to obfuscate the truth and distort the image of Iraq has always been the aim of the U.S. aggression against the people of Iraq. There is the added factor now of new breed of ‘journalists’ and ‘bloggers’ ever on the lookout for a story that will tell Westerners all they need to know about Iraq, its problems, dangers, and prospects. Despite all of this, Iraq remains a nation of proud people struggling to liberate themselves from a murderous colonial Occupation.

In a recent interview ("Iraq Doesn't Exist Anymore") with the self-described ‘leftists’ blogger Mick Whitney, Nir Rosen made untruthful and unsubstantiated statements regarding the situation on the ground in Iraq and the Occupation of that country by U.S. forces and their collaborators.....

Iraq does exist. We should never forget the fact that there is an Iraqi nation and nationalism represented by legitimate National Iraqi Resistance. The U.S. government and its collaborators may have succeeded in killing many innocent Iraqis and removed a sovereign government but the U.S. failed and will not success in its attempt to destroy the Iraqi nation and the Iraq people’s will to resist the Occupation.

Today more than ever there is a need for honest and independent journalists who can stand up and against the active complicity of the mainstream media and in support of the people of Iraq struggle for freedom and independence. Nir Rosen is just another propaganda agent who has shown to be part of a murderous colonial Occupation."

Somalia: A nation in ruins

Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow and Andrew Simmons travelled to different parts of Somalia to witness first-hand what is going on in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation.

"Moving through the chaotic capital of Mogadishu, one comes across a grisly scene: several artillery shells had just hit the capital's Bakaara market.

Dismembered bodies, blood and severed limbs lie everywhere. And as is often the case, all the victims are civilians. Such scenes are not uncommon in this theatre of war, but they are rarely captured on camera.

Those lucky to escape the attack run for dear life. But in this city, there is nowhere to hide.....

Many Islamic Courts' Union fighters are still licking their wounds from the fighting with Ethiopian forces, but they remain bold enough to venture out into the streets. They have also become increasingly confident in recent months.

Along with Ethiopian forces, they are also accused of targeting civilians, a charge they strongly deny.

"We are the people and the people are us. We are not any different," one Islamic Courts' fighter told Al Jazeera.

"We are victims of our enemies who attacked our land after Somalis enjoyed six months of peace and tranquility under the Islamic Courts.

"They are the enemies of Allah, Muslims and the Somali people."....

Mogadishu's desperate situation is echoed in other parts of the country. In Galguduud, a town several hundred kilometres north of the capital, aid workers from Medicins Sans Frontieres Belgium struggle to treat those in need......."


It is interesting, and characteristic of the English edition of Al-Jazeera, that no mention is made of the fact that it was the U.S. that pushed Ethiopia to invade Somalia and it is the U.S. which still arms and finances the continuing Ethiopian occupation. The report completely absolves the U.S. of any responsibility, by omission of the U.S. role.

Hezbollah's Scout brigade

".....Yet in politically divided Lebanon, sectarian divisions are apparent even in the country's 27 youth groups, with each political party possessing its own organisation for young people.

And Hezbollah, the main Lebanese Shia party and armed movement, is among those with its own youth group, the Imam al-Mahdi Scouts, some of whose members go on to become fully-fledged Hezbollah fighters.

Dr Bilal Naim, president of the Mahdi Scouts, told Al Jazeera that the group places importance on telling Scouts about the work of the Islamic Resistance, Hezbollah's armed wing.

"After 15 or 16 years old, we say to everybody that the Islamic Resistance is one of the foundations that defends against Israel and that the jihad [struggle] against Israel is one of the concepts of Islam," he said in the district of Haret Hreik, Beirut. But Naim said that the group, which caters for boys and girls, also has a programme of activities similar to those of other Scout brigades across the world.....

Hasosoun says that while some Scouts go on to become a member of the Hezbollah's armed Islamic Resistance group, there is no compunction on them to do so.

"Yes, it is continuous [that Scouts go into the resistance]. We also teach them administrative skills. We cater to an individual's personal desires and needs," he says. "But it is not obligatory that everyone will join the resistance.".....

The Mahdi Scouts was founded in 1985, three years after Hezbollah was founded in response to Israel's invasion of Lebanon during its civil war.

The Scout group was licensed by the Lebanese ministry of education in 1992 and joined the Lebanese Scout Federation six years later, but it has faced criticism for allegedly indoctrinating children.....

The claims of indoctrination have been rebuffed by the Scout group, which has called the report "an organised attack [which] aims at erasing the culture of the resistance," in its own published response.

As for the contentious literature, "Sharon will always be a criminal in the minds of the Lebanese children for he has committed hundreds of massacres," the Mahdi Scouts say.

Controversy will remain over whether the Mahdi Scouts is a simple youth organisation or a dedicated 'feeder' group for Hezbollah......."

Karzai (the real one, not the Palestinian): Troops needed for ten more years

AFGHANISTAN President Hamid Karzai said that his war-torn country will need foreign troops for at least another decade.

""I believe it will take another 10 years, at least 10 years," he told German newspaper Bild when asked for how much longer the country will need German troops.

"We need more time. The destruction was massive. Rebuilding Afghanistan will take longer than we thought."

Mr Karzai said the most important step in restoring security to Afghanistan was closing down insurgents' rear bases, and accused the international community of failing to realise this.

"Our biggest security problem is that the international community has not been concerned enough about the rear bases of the Taliban and terrorists outside Afghanistan," he said.

"This is the most important element in the fight against terrorism. And we are suffering because of this."....."

Lebanon Political Crisis Towards Further Escalation?


"21/12/2007 French President Nicholas Sarkozy demanded his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad commits to Saturday as a date to elect a new Lebanese President, his Elysee spokesman said.

Earlier, the Assarq Al-Awsat daily quoted a French official source as saying that Paris does not consider Syria cooperating to find a solution to the Lebanese political crisis. The French source added that Paris had been clear in making Damascus understand what it expects. "Syria is capable of facilitating the way out of the Lebanese crisis through pressuring the opposition not to make so much conditions," the French source said according to the Arab daily.

This came after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem accused the United States of "blocking a Syrian-French attempt" to settle the ongoing political crisis in Lebanon and criticized Paris for not rejecting Washington's approach. Muallem also expressed "regret because the French did not commit to distancing themselves from the American role." "Unfortunately, the French did not show a commitment to distancing themselves from the American role that blocked the Syrian-French attempt to reach a solution," Muallem said. However, he said, Syrian-French "contacts regarding Lebanon persist." He insisted Damascus has been playing a constructive role in Lebanon and does not interfere in its affairs.......

For his part, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea received fresh support from Washington through US Under-Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch. He said that the February 14 alliance was about to ask the government to send a constitutional amendment bill to Parliament. Speaker Nabih Berri and the opposition refuse any amendment bill to pass through Fouad Saniora's government that is highly regarded as an unconstitutional government. Geagea returned to the half-plus-one rhetoric saying that the "majority has several alternatives, but our basic option at present is bringing Gen. Michel Suleiman to the presidency because the characteristics of a consensus president fit him most." "This doesn't mean that if the year ends without elections that the chance is lost," Geagea said adding that "we will meet again to assess our position in light of the public stances, then we will determine the steps required to fill the presidential vacuum.""

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you support the election of the Lebanese president by simple majority (half plus one)?

With over 1,500 responding so far, 76% said no.

No More Slam Dunks

A reality-based assessment of Iran’s nuclear capability

by Philip Giraldi

"The bombshell National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear program asserted with a “high degree of certainty” that Tehran had abandoned its nuclear weapons in 2003 due to international pressure and as part of a negotiated agreement with the Europeans. The report stated that even if Tehran were to restart its program, it would not have enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon until 2010 at the earliest.

The NIE is widely seen as a decisive blow to the neoconservatives and Bush administration hawks who have been advocating a preemptive attack on Iran, depriving them of their principle casus belli. They have counterattacked, claiming that the report is based on flawed information or even Iranian disinformation, that the CIA has a history of poor analysis of proliferation issues, and that a politicized intelligence community is out to get the White House and/or Israel......

Both the Iraq NIE and the 2005 NIE on Iran suffered from White House staffers, mostly neoconservatives from Vice President Cheney’s office, participating in the review process. To deal with the problem of such political pressure, Director of Central Intelligence Michael Hayden and DNI Mike McConnell isolated analysts from policymakers and also took steps to deal with the groupthink problem. In the 2002 Iraq NIE, the consensus view that Saddam Hussein must have weapons of mass destruction influenced analysis, but proved to be untrue. The Iran NIE was instead constructed from the ground up with every assumption being challenged. The critics of the NIE curiously engage in their own groupthink when they claim that the CIA’s record of failures in the past mean that it has likely failed again. This time, however, the CIA has gotten it right. "

With members of the House gaining support for Cheney’s impeachment, a convenient fire erases critical records.


It’s common knowledge, he reveals, CIA, Mossad behind terror attacks

"Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga, who revealed the existence of Operation Gladio, has told Italy’s oldest and most widely read newspaper that the 9-11 terrorist attacks were run by the CIA and Mossad, and that this was common knowledge among global intelligence agencies.

In what translates awkwardly into English, Cossiga told the newspaper Corriere della Sera:

All the [intelligence services] of America and Europe…know well that the disastrous attack has been planned and realized from the Mossad, with the aid of the Zionist world in order to put under accusation the Arabic countries and in order to induce the western powers to take part … in Iraq [and] Afghanistan.”

Cossiga was elected president of the Italian Senate in July 1983 before winning a landslide election to become president of the country in 1985, and he remained until 1992.

Cossiga’s tendency to be outspoken upset the Italian political establishment, and he was forced to resign after revealing the existence of, and his part in setting up, Operation Gladio. This was a rogue intelligence network under NATO auspices that carried out bombings across Europe in the 1960s, 1970s and ’80s. Gladio’s specialty was to carry out what they termed “false flag” operations—terror attacks that were blamed on their domestic and geopolitical opposition.

In March 2001, Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra stated, in sworn testimony, “You had to attack civilians, the people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple: to force … the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security.”

Cossiga first expressed his doubts about 9-11 in 2001, and is quoted by 9-11 researcher Webster Tarpley saying “The mastermind of the attack must have been a sophisticated mind, provided with ample means not only to recruit fanatic kamikazes, but also highly specialized personnel. "I add one thing: it could not be accomplished without infiltrations in the radar and flight security personnel.”....."

Egyptian government, not people, recognize Israel

Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani, The Electronic Intifada, 21 December 2007

"....."The so-called peace between Egypt and Israel continues to lack popular approval," Ahmed Thabet, professor of political science at Cairo University told IPS. "Meanwhile, Israel has exploited the situation to maintain racist, expansionist policies."......

In contrast to Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party, virtually all of Egypt's opposition parties stand against diplomatic normalization with Israel.

The Muslim Brotherhood movement in particular, which represents Egypt's biggest opposition bloc in parliament, remains adamant in its refusal to acknowledge the state of Israel or accept the terms of the Egypt-Israel peace accord.

"The Muslim Brotherhood does not recognize Israel and rejects the Camp David agreement," Essam al-Arian, head of the movement's political department, told IPS. "If a popular referendum were held, we're sure the people would also reject it."

Thabet, for the most part, agreed with this assessment.

"Camp David was signed by the small political and economic elite that governs Egypt," he said. "But the people, along with opposition groups of all stripes, reject the treaty."

According al-Arian, the same can be said about Cairo's recent economic understandings with Israel.

"It was the Egyptian government that agreed to the QIZ scheme and the natural gas sale," he said. "But these deals don't enjoy any popular support."

All of Egypt's many professional unions also remain staunchly against the idea of cooperation with the Hebrew state.

"Every one of the professional syndicates, along with most writers and intellectuals, stand against diplomatic normalization," said al-Arian, who is also assistant secretary-general of the Egyptian Doctors Syndicate. "Those who depart from this stance can expect to have their syndicate memberships suspended."

According to Thabet, official Egyptian cooperation with Israel must be seen within the context of US influence on Egyptian policymaking.

"Cairo signed these agreements with Israel -- despite tremendous popular disapproval -- at Washington's behest," he said. "Because, at the end of the day, the regime needs Washington to keep it in power.""

Former US Intelligence official: Israel will attack Iran

Bruce Riedel, a former career CIA official and senior adviser to three US presidents, including Bush, tells Newsweek he came back from trip to Israel in November convinced that Jewish state would attack Iran. 'Israel is not going to allow its nuclear monopoly to be threatened,' he says

""I came back from a trip to Israel in November convinced that Israel would attack Iran," Bruce Riedel, a former career CIA official and senior adviser to three US presidents - including George W. Bush - on Middle East and South Asian issues, told Newsweek Thursday, citing conversations he had with Mossad and Israeli defense officials......

The magazine quoted Knesset Member Ephraim Sneh, a former deputy defense minister who has "warned for years that Israel would eventually have to confront Iran alone," as saying that "today we are closer to this situation than we were three weeks ago ... we have to be prepared to forestall this threat on our own.".

David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington told Newsweek that Israel was likely encouraged by the non-reaction to their September air strike on a reported Syrian nuclear facility, "which may have been a test run for Iran, or at least a warning directed at Tehran"......

The magazine said one reason for Bush's abruptly announced nine-day visit to the Middle East in mid-January was "to deal with the fallout from the NIE, which includes not only the possibility that Israel will act unilaterally but also that Bush's prized Annapolis peace process will stall....."

The Ramallah Mafia, With Eyes on Billions in New Donations, Have the Long Knives Out

Fatah leaders conspire to unseat Salam Fayyad Palestinian PM to pre-empt his control of donated $7.4 bn

"Our sources report the revolt is led by ousted Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan, jailed terrorist Marwan Barghouti and Ahmed Qureia, chief Palestinian negotiator with Israel. If Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas stands in their way, the Fatah leaders propose cutting Fayyad off from exercising his authority on the West Bank. The revolt was sparked, DEBKAfile’s Palestinian sources reveal, by the international donors’ allocation of $7.4 bn for state-building at their Paris conference five days ago. Dahlan and Co. are determined not to let this bonanza fall into the hands of a Fatah outsider, whose appointment was forced on them by Washington. The success of their scheme would spell the end of the peace process proclaimed by President George W. Bush, flanked by Ehud Olmert and Abbas at Annapolis last month.

The conspirators have gone into action by:

1. Leaning hard on Abbas to fire the prime minister and name a successor.

2. Efforts to persuade cabinet ministers, most of whom lack political backing either on the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, to defy Fayyad and start taking orders from the rebels.

3. Convening of the Fatah Executive Committee under the slogan: “Restore the Fatah to control of Palestinian decision-making!” The conspirators maintain that the Annapolis conference pushed Fatah out of key positions.

4. Intimidation of local activists on the West Bank, who have begun working with Fayyad. Dahlan and his co-conspirators are moving fast before the prime minister has collected enough money from the US and Europe to buy influence and an independent power base independent of Fatah.

DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair have got wind of the Fatah plot. They realize that if Fayyad, goes, so too does the prospect of orderly Palestinian government and transparent financial management. Their plans to create the institutions of statehood and an effective campaign against terror will go up in smoke.

They are especially dismayed to discover that Dahlan, long a close associate of Rice, champion of relations with Washington and friend of Israelis in high places, has taken up the cudgels against the “Americanization” of the Palestinian Authority."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bush, Maliki Break Iraqi Law to Renew U.N. Mandate for Occupation

A majority of Iraqi lawmakers say renewal requests not ratified by the parliament are illegal.

By Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland, AlterNet

Contributed by Steven Rix

"On Tuesday, the Bush administration and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pushed a resolution through the U.N. Security Council extending the mandate that provides legal cover for foreign troops to operate in Iraq for another year.

The move violated both the Iraqi constitution and a law passed earlier this year by the Iraqi parliament -- the only body directly elected by all those purple-finger-waving Iraqis in 2005 -- and it defied the will of around 80 percent of the Iraqi population......

The renewal is the latest in a string of instances in which the Bush administration and its allies in Iraq's executive branch have shut down a nonviolent, political avenue for Iraqi citizens to resist the presence of foreign troops in their country. By denying them those avenues, Bush and Maliki have effectively done what they accuse advocates of withdrawal of doing: "emboldening" violent insurgents and getting more innocent Iraqis and more U.S. troops killed.

One can only wonder, now that the United States has "liberated" Iraq from Saddam Hussein, just who will liberate Iraq from the United States?"

Video: Bethlehem checkpoint, 4am

Contributed by Bea

معايدة لمحمود رضا عبّاس

بقلم: د. إبراهيم حمّامي

"فخامة وسيادة وعظمة محمود عبّاس
رئيس السلطة الوطنية الفلسطينية
رئيس دولة فلسطين
رئيس اللجنة التنفيذية لمنظمة التحرير الفلسطينية
القائد الأعلى للقوات المسلحة الفلسطينية
وغيرها من المناصب والصفات والألقاب!

بمناسبة عيد الأضحى المبارك، عيد التضحية والفداء، أتقدم لفخامتك وسيادتك وعظمتك بالشكر على تضحيتك الكبرى والعظيمة بشعب فلسطين هذا العام، فأي تضحية أكبر من هذه التضحية وأي فداء أعظم، وأنتم ترون دماء الشعب يسيل أنهارا؟ وأي وفاء للشعب الذي انتخبك رئيساً له (483.039 من أصل 11 مليون فلسطيني) أكثر من إيثاره على نفسك بالذبح وسفك الدماء؟

إن جهودك الجبارة يا فخامة وسيادة وعظمة محمود رضا عبّاس عبّاس في كسر الحصار، ورفع المعاناة، وتخفيف القيود عن شعبنا، لا تخفى إلا عن غافل أو متغافل، فقد شخصت ومعك الجوقة إياها أساس المشكلة، وحددت المسؤولية، وقررت أن خلاص أبناء الشعب الفلسطيني خاصة في قطاع غزة، أو من أسماهم رئيس حكومتك "الغزيون"، لا يكون إلا بضربهم ومعاقبتهم، وتشديد الخناق عليهم، فشاركتك وحرضت على قطع الكهرباء، ووقف إمدادات الوقود، وأوقفت الرواتب إلا لمن جلس مستريحاً في بيته، وتوسلت من أجل شعبك أن لا يُفتح معبر رفح، حتى لا يكون انتصاراً للطامعين في ملكك الوافر وسلطانك العظيم.

إن تلك الجهود المضنية والجبارة التي تبذلها بعيداً عن أهلك وبيتك، متجولاً في حل وترحال حول العالم، من بلد إلى بلد، ومن عاصمة لأخرى، للتأكيد على مواقفك المبدئية الثابتة، وتمسكك بالمفاوضات خيارا استراتيجيا وحيدا مهما كانت التضحيات، تلك الجهود تستدعي التوقف عندها، فمن غيرك يعانق ويقبل ويجتمع ويلتقي مع قتلة شعبه، من أجل شعبه! ومن لها غيرك يا من تصر على أن الحوار هو الطريق الوحيد مع شركاء السلام؟، حتى وان كانت أياديهم تقطر دماً من أبناء شعبنا، وصدق ربيبك ذو الوجه الأصفر عندما وصفك بالقائد العظيم المبدع، وأيما إبداع!

إن هذا الإصرار البطولي على محاورة شركاء السلام -من الأعداء!- يثبت أنك من نوع خاص، لم يسبقك إليه أحد، وأنك تملك من المشاعر ما يصعب وصفه، فعشرات الشهداء، ومئات الجرحى، وآلاف الأسرى، وعشرات الآلاف من الوحدات الاستيطانية، لا تحرك في شعورك ذرة، ولا تفت من عضدك، بل هي في نظرك قرابين عيد الأضحى التي تتقرب وتتعبد بها، من أجل السلام وعملية السلام وخطط السلام، وعلى قاعدة يا جبل ما يهزك لا ريح ولا دماء ولا شهداء.

في ذات الوقت لا يسعنا إلا أن نذكر مواقفك الصلبة والحاسمة والواضحة وضوح الشمس، تجاه من يعارض فخامتك وسيادتك وعظمتك، ومن يعارض سياساتك وتوجهاتك السلمية المبدعة، ومن يحاول إهانة ومقاومة شركائك من خلال مقاومة "عبثية" و"حقيرة"، ويتمسكون بثوابت وحقوق تحت شعارات واهية عفا عليها الزمان، مواقفك تلك غير القابلة للزعزعة أو الزحزحة: لا حوار ولا لقاء ولا تفاهم معهم، لاءات عظيمة لقائد مبدع عظيم، يرددها ليل نهار من اخترتهم من ناطقين رسميين، ولا بأس من أي يأخذوا زمام المبادرة فيضيفوا ما تيسر من شروط أخرى.

إنك يا فخامة وسيادة وعظمة محمود رضا عبّاس عبّاس لا تدخر جهداً لإثبات النوايا الصادقة تجاه شركاء السلام سابقاً ولاحقاً، ومنذ العام 1968 عندما بدأت أول اتصالات معهم إيماناً منك وبشكل مبكر بأهمية الحوارات، لكنك أيضاً لا تألو جهداً في رفض الحوار مع من لا يقبل فكرك النيّر المستنير، وإبداعاتك المتميزة.

بمواقفك الرائعة تلك تثبت يوماً بعد يوم أنك تستحق الألقاب والصفات والمناصب، وتثبت أنك الأجدر على تحمل المسؤولية، كيف لا وقد استطعت في فترة وجيزة من عهدك الميمون أن تصدر شهادة الوفاة للانتفاضة التي عجزت ترسانة المحتل عن وقفها، وفرضت الأمن والأمان كما وعدت في برنامجك الانتخابي، وأصبح واقعاً ملموساً نعيشه ولا يمكن أن نستبدله بكنوز الأرض، وبغض النظر عن استمرار الاغتيالات والاجتياحات والاعتقالات والإرهاب اليومي المنظم من قبل الاحتلال، فهذا شأن خاص بهم حتى وإن كنا من يدفع ثمنه، فما يهمنا هو التزامنا الثابت الذي لا يتزعزع بحفظ الأمن – لا يهم أي أمن سواء كان أمن المستوطنات أو غيرها - لسحب الذرائع من المحتل، حتى وان كان لا يحتاج لذرائع، لأن أخلاقنا تفرض علينا أن نُضرب ولا نصرخ، وأن نُقتل ولا يسمع لنا صوت، وأن نُعذّب ونعض على الشفاه من الألم، ما يهم هو المبدأ.

إنك اليوم تؤكد أن أرض فلسطين هي مهد الأديان والحضارات: تقدم دماء شعب فلسطين في عيد الأضحى الإسلامي تأسياً بسيدنا إبراهيم عليه السلام، وتطبق رسالة المسيح عليه السلام وتزيد، فتقبل أن تصفع على خديك مراراً وتكراراً من شريكك في السلام بعد مهرجان أنابوليس، حيث قرر أن يبني المزيد من المستوطنات، واعتبر القدس خارج الحوار والتفاوض، ورفض حق العودة، وقال أن المفاوضات ستأخذ عشرات السنين، وتوجه رسالة محبة لأتباع الديانة اليهودية بقبولك مبدأ يهودية "اسرائيل"، ما أفخمك يا فخامة!

بهذه المناسبة، مناسبة عيد الأضحى المبارك، وفي ظل الدم الفلسطيني المسفوك قرباناً على مذبح السلام، إرضاء وولاء لأولياء الأمر والنعمة ممن أنعموا علينا بعيدية العيد من باريس، وأرسلوها بسرعة البرق عبر الصواريخ الموجهة في غزة، أتقدم بأخلص الأماني أن يجمعك الله سبحانه وتعالى مع شركائك في الدنيا والآخرة، وأن يجزيك عن كل قطرة دم سالت وتسيل فداء للسلام الذي اخترته، وأن يجعلك عبرة لمن يليك."

Authenticated Israeli Crime in Gaza: killing patients in cold blood

Sam Armanda Reports from Gaza Strip,
Dec, 20th 2007, PCAS

"For the past 6 months Israeli occupation committed illegal and savage massacres against Palestinians. The committed actions (massacres) are flagrant and obvious violations of human rights law, four Geneva conventions and other international human laws and charters. Infants, old men and old women have been killed in cold blood. Yet Israel and its occupation forces say, "we are defending ourselves and own country!" Therefore, we ask a question! Are old men, old women and infants holding guns? Are they firing rockets? Are they…. Are they and are they! Wonders will not end bye the end of these words.

The more astonishing reality is the fact of those people in the following pictures. They are mostly patients with chronic diseases. They are being killed due to siege imposed on Gaza Strip. Israel is firing, shooting, and preventing them from having medicines and banning them from traveling abroad for medications.

Ironically, those patients are in serious health situations and they are spending their times in Intensive Care Unit, ICU. However, Israel is always rejecting their medical requests to leave for medications outside! The ready pretext made by Israel is, "they are source of danger on our state."

Hence, we raise some questions with the help of patients' pictures in Gazas' hospitals. Are those powerless people able to bother Israel by blowing up themselves? Are they able to fire or short? Why they are banned from having medications abroad? Why Israelis reject letting medicines into Gaza Strip?

It's remarkable that health sector has been rapidly and dramatically affected by the siege. According to the latest Humanitarian Situation Report of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released on October 9th, 2007, fewer than five patients crossed into Israel/West Bank each day for medical treatment compared to an average of 40 patients per day in July. World Health Organization has indicated, though, that an average of 1000 patients used to leave Gaza for treatment each month prior to the mid-June closures. But now, all patients are banned to leave outside for urgent surgeries and medications!

The following pictures exclusively have been taken by Popular Committee Against Siege (PCAS). They are some of siege ramifications on health sector.."

(Click on photo to enlarge)
The Arab "Masses" Today.....
Thanks to the American-Saudi Alliance.....
"Happy" Eid!

Volunteers to fight al-Qaeda targeted in Iraq blast

"Thirteen people were killed today when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest at a recruitment post for volunteers wanting to fight extremists in Iraq.

American troops may also have been caught up in the blast that rocked the majority Shia Arab town of Kanaan, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, according to Iraqi police. US military spokesman confirmed that a suicide attack had taken place but was unable to provide further details immediately.

Iraqi police said that all of the dead were volunteers to a local Awakening group, an initiative supported by the US military that enables disenchanted Iraqis to oppose the perpetrators of suicide bombings and sectarian slaughters who have thrived in the aftermath of the invasion.

Paid each month by US troops and allowed to carry a weapon, these largely Sunni Arab movements have taken charge of grassroots security in their neighbourhood, becoming one of the key factors that have helped to produce a 60 percent drop in attacks in Iraq since June.

Such patrols, however, are prime targets for insurgents who are still trying to derail the Government and force US-led troops to leave the country......."

Mirage Of Improvement In Iraq

By Dahr Jamail

Contributed by Datta

"....People in the US are willing to believe the establishment media telling them that refugees are returning to their homes in Baghdad in an environment of improved security and new hope.

It is true that there have been fewer American soldiers killed in Baghdad and the number of Iraqis fleeing to Syria has declined. However, this relatively quieter security situation needs to be placed in its proper context, something the Western media steadfastly refuses to do....."

Could this be what Pat Lang is talking about ?

A Very Interesting Piece From Missing Links. It sheds more light on the endless divide-and-conquer strategy of the US occupation in Iraq. Well worth reading!

" cites "western diplomatic sources in Washington" who have seen reports on an American plan to recruit Shiite tribal leaders in the South and Center of Iraq to form an alliance with Washington to "guarantee the existence of a military force on the ground to face down Iranian influence in Iraq...and to confront the Shiite political parties currently participating in the government, which form bulwarks for this Iranian influence." The reports say the contacts with Shiite tribal leaders have been undertaken by US intelligence officers in Iraq, sometimes with the assistance of regional governments including those of the UAE, Saudi, and Jordan......

The reports are said to include also a second theme, in addition to this point about creation of an armed force capable of confronting Iranian influence. The second point is that Washington is intent on igniting a Shiite-Shiite war at the earliest possible opportunity....

These sources say the Americans are trying very hard, and in a race against time, to ignite a Shiite-Shiite war in Iraq on the model of the war between the Sunni awakening councils and AlQaeda, utilizing the "awakening" phenomenon ...and the creation of armed groups to confront the Shiite political parties.....

The reports say the US administration considers the year 2008 the time-limit the US administration has given its military and intelligence people for implementation of important parts of this plan, "while the American forces still hold the reins of the security file almost completely".....

Making allowance for the differences in language and outlook, this appears to be much the same strategy as that advocated by Pat Lang, who is said to have written the book on the awakening strategy. Lang writes, in relation to Iranian influence in Iraq:
Clearly, the US should look at the possibility of applying the "divide and rule" methods it has applied elsewhere in Iraq to this problem. There is no reason to treat the Shia population as a monolith. There are analogous fissure lines among the various Shia factions and between them and the Shia tribes. Is a diagram necessary?
And then he writes this too:
At present the US has accepted as temporary allies many of those who fought against us before the "Anbar Awakening." That is as it should be. We should continue that policy in other parts of the country......."

Palestinian refugees from Iraq stranded in desert camp

By Miret El Naggar | McClatchy Newspapers

"CAIRO, Egypt —Hundreds of Palestinian refugees who've been forced out of their homes in Iraq are stranded in a remote stretch of the Syrian desert, where they're living in tents that offer little shelter against blinding sandstorms and the biting cold of winter nights, according to humanitarian aid workers and refugees.

Syrian authorities have barred the Palestinians from leaving the Tanaf refugee camp near the border with Iraq. Journalists aren't allowed to visit.

But United Nations officials and camp residents reached by phone described deteriorating health conditions, with an increase in illnesses related to contaminated water and skin afflictions caused by unhygienic conditions. Many children have lice, the Palestinians said, and the elderly suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure. They survive solely through handouts from the U.N. and Arab humanitarian groups.

"We die a thousand times a day," said Wafaa Mazhar, 37, a mother of five who said that her 16-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia six months ago at Tanaf. "We Palestinians are leading miserable lives. We're helpless, and no one feels our pain."....."

The truth behind the Surge

From The Vineyard of the Saker

"The so-called 'Surge', and its alleged success, are based on two fundamental tactics: the first one is the so-called 'Redirection' which consists of buying off the Sunni resistance, including all those groups who only yesterday were called 'terrorists'; the second new tactic is massive increasing in the use of airpower. The blog Lenin's Tomb has just published an excellent analysis which proves that the occupation forces are now truly engaged into a 'rolling wave of massacres' as 'Lenin' writes:

Both countries have taken a hammering, but Afghanistan in particular has taken the brunt of a massive series of air attacks in part due to the 'risk-transfer' conception of war, in which civilians are to bear the brunt of death and destruction rather than US combatants. The hostile terrain of Afghanistan, and the fact that few are actually covering it very extensively, makes it an ideal target for this kind of ferocious assault - with, as we saw last year, a rolling wave of massacres in the country. Inevitably, since the air war hasn't been covered much by the media, and given its insensitivity to 'enemy' casualties, those massacres reported are a tiny sample of the true total. Without a Lancet-style survey, we will remain very much in the dark about the true nature of this assault and its effects.

Arming the Sunnis + using air strikes = a successful 'Surge', at least statistically, for the time being. In reality, this will make the situation even worse as the Sunnis will inevitably turn on the occupation force they hate, the Shias will be even further alienated by their betrayal, and the thousands of new civilian casualties will only result in more hatred for the brutal occupation. Add to this the US support for Turkey against the Kurds and you have all the ingredients of a complete nightmare and even more bloodshed. The 'Surge' will go down in history as one of the dumbest and most immoral political stunts ever devised."

Cartoon by Gazzawy

Would You Buy A "State" From This Puppet??
By Hisham Shamali, Gaza

The Honeymoon Was So Short! The Syrian Regime Will Get What it Deserves: Contempt!

Bush: Patience with Syria's Assad had 'run out long ago'

"U.S. President George W. Bush said on Thursday his patience with Syrian President Bashar Assad had run out long ago. "Syria needs to stay out of Lebanon," Bush told a White House news conference when asked whether he would be willing to talk to Assad about stabilizing Lebanon, which is caught up in a political crisis.

The Bush administration has tried to isolate Damascus diplomatically, though Syria sent representatives to the Annapolis peace conference hosted by the U.S. last month.

"My patience ran out on President Assad a long time ago," Bush said. "The reason why is because he houses Hamas, he facilitates Hezbollah, suiciders go from his country into Iraq and he destabilizes Lebanon," Bush said....."

Mouallem Accuses U.S of Blocking Solution in Lebanon


"Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem on Thursday accused the United States of "blocking a Syrian-French attempt" to settle the ongoing political crisis in Lebanon and criticized Paris for not rejecting Washington's approach.

Talking to a group of reporters in Damascus on the Lebanon situation, Mouallem also expressed "regret because the French did not commit to distancing themselves from the American role."
"Unfortunately, the French did not show a commitment to distancing themselves from the American role that blocked the Syrian-French attempt to reach a solution," Mouallem said.

However, he said, Syrian-French "contacts regarding Lebanon persist." He said that an agreement had been reached between Paris and Damascus on a "declaration of principles that includes the election of a consensus president who is Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman, the formation of a national unity government and amending the election law."

Mouallem criticized the recent mission in Lebanon by U.S. Undersecretary of State David Welch, saying Washington "is not for consensus among the Lebanese, but wants a conqueror and a vanquished. “Washington wants the majority to monopolize the decision-making in Lebanon,” he charged.

"We believe that forming a national unity government is as important as electing a new president because it would lead to activating all constitutional institutions, end the sit-in and pave the way for a thorough national dialogue," Mouallem said in echoing a call by the Lebanese national opposition for agreement on a "basket" of conditions prior to facilitating Suleiman's election.

"Syria does not exert pressure. It encourages and urges (its Lebanese allies)," Mouallem said. "The position of the opposition groups is legitimate. They don't demand seats in the cabinet more than their share in parliament." "Syria plays a constructive role and does not interfere," the Syrian FM concluded."


It looks like the Syrian regime is not getting anything from the Empire in return for its (free) services; good!

Iran.....Iran.....Iran....Report: Nuclear bunker being built at PM's residence

"Yedioth Ahronoth reports Olmert's official Jerusalem residence being outfitted with bunker that can withstand nuclear, chemical attack; another nuclear bunker being constructed outside Jerusalem for government officials...."

Arab Rulers and MERCOSUR Trade Agreement with Israel

An Apology to Lula de Silva

By Dr. Adel Samara in Occupied Ramallah

I posted the Arabic version of this good article a few days ago.

"A whole year went by between the visit of the elected Brazilian President Lula De Silva's to some Arab countries, that are governed by unelected rulers, and the signing of an economic agreement between the Zionist regime and MERCOSUR, the common market for Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Lula's visit was motivated by his sentiment, and that of his people, that the Arab nation is closer to Brazil than the Zionist entity.

My argument stems from the fact that when the US-British bloody invasion of Iraq took place, the Brazilian people were the first to protest against it. Lula was under the impression that a strong and vital economic relationship with Arabs might strengthen his country's resistance against the US capitalist domination. Additionally, there is no doubt that Lula considers trade with Arabs to be more profitable than that with the Zionist regime.

It is not necessary that a good Arab-Brazil relationship should mean the termination of Brazil's relationship with the Zionist regime, but it is certain that any level of Arab-Brazil cooperation will be at the cost of the enemy's ambitions, i.e. Israel, which is keen to expand in Latin America.

The Zionist "invasion" of Latin America is not new. It started decades ago with the Mosad's training of death squads in Latin America, and the black weapons trade, a trade that even the US and other imperialist powers avoid. In fact, weapons trade is subjected to a division of labor where black trade is left for the sub-imperialisms.

What is so crucial, and provoking, is that, while many Latin American countries are embarking towards a new socialism of the 21st century, the Zionist entity continues its deep penetration of these countries, while Arab rulers are absolutely absent. The recent trade agreement between the Zionist entity and MERCOSUR involves the sum of $2 billion a year. It will start with 20% of custom exemption for both agricultural and manufactured products. It should be noted that the total population of the members in this Latin American market matches the population of Arab people.

Arab rulers did not respond properly to Lula's initiative. They failed to gain Latin America, and even worse, they did not even try.

Why would such regimes even attempt to gain Latin America while they are deliberately losing Africa, and their own nation, despite the fact that Arab communities in both continents, Asia and Africa, are in millions!

What these regimes have really confirmed in the collective memory of other nations is that Arabs are slave traders, and blood suckers of the peoples in the periphery through high oil prices, while the truth is that most of the oil surplus is being "openly" stolen by the giant core capitalist corporations.

However, the truth lies in the fact that Arab regimes are too busy expanding normalization with the Zionist regime which is aimed at integrating that regime in the Arab Homeland as a dominant economic power. That is why nearly two dozens of those Arab regimes participated in the recent Annapolis conference without any Zionist promise or commitment to ease the life of Palestinians under occupation.

It should be noted, however, that Arab regimes neither represent Arab peoples, nor are they democratically elected. In other words, these regimes are some form of internal occupation.
Many might argue that some Arab regimes have economic agreements with Brazil. However, a visit of a leader from a country as large as Brazil, with such a big market needs to be dealt with in a different manner. The least it deserves is a unified Arab policy that is oriented to terminate, and replace, economic ties between this market and the Zionist regime. But, this policy needs Arab regimes of a different kind, those with a nationalist agenda.

The attitude of current regimes reminds us of the Arab-Soviet relationship in the last century, where Arab trade remained mostly with the imperialist core countries. Arab regimes did not try to consolidate their relationship with the Soviet block or at least use it for applying some pressure on the West to exert less hostility and aggression towards Arab issues.

In normal situations, such as when states have their own national agendas, this policy will be adopted. But, that is not the case with current Arab regimes. The main reason why these regimes lack national strategy is because they were created by British-French joint imperialist agreement (known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916) which was designed to fragment the Arab Mashreq, (Eastern Arab countries) into several small dependent entities. The same imperialists decided to create the Zionist entity in Palestine. My argument here is that both, the ruling dependent Arab regimes and the Zionist entity, were created by the same core imperialist regimes to serve their interests. Both are deeply related and tied to this core, as well. Accordingly, there is no real contradiction between these two creations: the Arab dependent regimes and the Zionist entity. This is the main difference between the position of Arab regimes and that of the popular Arab classes towards the Zionist regime. Arab masses feel that their contradiction with the Zionists is an antagonistic one, while that is not the case with Arab rulers.

Since this is the situation of Arab regimes, it is not an exaggeration to state that Arab countries are, in one way or another, colonized internally and externally. This theory is supported be evidence that was revealed in the recent Annapolis conference where Arab rulers participated in such a manner that is subjugated to the will of US ruling class, which has never hidden its complete alliance with the Zionists.

Finally, while the Zionist regime is expanding in Latin America and Africa, Arab regimes become more and more in the service of Zionism."

Video: Gaza shortages bring back the donkey as form of transportation

Contributed by Bea

"Gazans seem to be traveling back in time as major shortages in fuel and car parts restore the donkey to the most prevalent form of transportation....."

'IDF ability to fight Qassams limited'

Chief of army intelligence speaks at TAU meet, says military has limited resources when fighting camouflaged Qassam launchers in Gaza. 'It's like looking for a needle in a haystack,' he says

"Chief IDF Intelligence Officer Brig.-Gen.Yuval Halamish said Thursday that the IDF's activity against Qassams launchers in some parts of the Gaza Strip is "difficult and nearly impossible," adding that unfortunately, luck plays a major role in the battle....

"The Qassams have a major effect on the home front's morale, especially when our ability to fight Qassams launchers in some parts of the Gaza strip is minimal – it's like looking for a needle in a haystack."

The type of warfare used by militants in Gaza is similar to what the IDF encountered while fighting in Lebanon, said Halamish, adding the terror groups in Gaza receive constant intelligence and weapons from Iran, Syria and the Hizbullah. "

Politicising Gaza's Misery

Let's not allow inhumanity to become the accepted norm. If we allowed it to triumph in Gaza, we are deemed to repeat it elsewhere.

A Good Piece
By Ramzy Baroud
Special to

"......Hamas's political advent in January 2006 as the first "opposition" movement in the Arab world to ascend to power using peaceful and democratic means was successfully thwarted in a brazen coup, engineered jointly by the United States, Israel and renegade Palestinians factionalists. Following this, history was rewritten, as is usual, by the victor. Thus Hamas, a party embodying democratic institutions in the occupied territories, became the party that "overthrew" Abbas's "legitimate" democracy. As strange a notion as that is (a government overthrowing itself), it went down in the annals of Western media as uncontested truth.

All parties involved, directly or otherwise, were expected to determine their position from this fallacious claim, and they did so to meet their own interests. Some had little problem in disowning Palestinian democracy altogether. The United States government, Israel, the European Union, and various non- democratic Arab governments were delighted by the outcome of Palestinian infighting. They celebrated Abbas and his faction as the true and legitimate democrats, and chastised those who disagreed. Countries such as Russia, South Africa and some Arab Gulf states followed suit, with some hesitation and disgruntlement, but too weak or indecisive to confront the status quo.

On the Palestinian front, the choices were harder, but nonetheless those who were previously aligned neither to Fatah nor Hamas now positioned themselves quickly on the side that served them best. Renowned leftists, for example, who normally spoke as though they were representatives of the voice of reason, now couldn't risk losing what few ineffective NGOs they operated in a management style more reminiscent of "grocery stores" (the actual name that many Palestinians use to mock many of the NGOs in their midst).

Fear of losing freedom of movement and access to US and European financial institutions motivated many Palestinians to disown Gaza completely. The sympathy millions of people worldwide felt towards the perpetually suffering Gazans translated mostly in the realm of the intangible. Helplessness prevailed and quickly joined the prevalent sense of powerlessness and incapacity long affiliated with Palestine in general and Gaza in particular......"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The end of Israel?

Hannah Mermelstein, The Electronic Intifada, 19 December 2007

"I am feeling optimistic about Palestine.

I know it sounds crazy. How can I use "optimistic" and "Palestine" in the same sentence when conditions on the ground only seem to get worse?.....

I am optimistic not because I think the process of ethnic cleansing and apartheid in Israel/Palestine is going to end tomorrow, but because I can feel the ideology behind these policies beginning to collapse. For years the true meaning of political Zionism has been as ignored as its effects on Palestinian daily life. And suddenly it is beginning to break open. Olmert's comments last week are reminiscent of those of early Zionist leaders who talked openly of transfer and ethnic cleansing in order to create an artificial Jewish majority in historic Palestine.

We must expel the Arabs and take their places and if we have to use force to guarantee our own right to settle in those places -- then we have force at our disposal. - David Ben-Gurion, Israel's "founding father" and first prime minister, 1937

So this idea of a "two-state solution" a la Olmert -- which I would argue provides neither a "state" nor a "solution" for the Palestinian people -- is the new transfer. It is no longer popular in the world to openly discuss expulsion (though there are political parties in Israel that advocate this), but Olmert hopes that by creating a Palestinian "state" on a tiny portion of historic Palestine, he can accomplish the same goal: maintaining an ethno-religious state exclusively for the Jewish people in most of historic Palestine. His plan, as all other plans Israeli leaders have tried to "negotiate," ignores the basic rights of the two-thirds of the Palestinian population who are refugees. They, like all other refugees in the world, have the internationally recognized right to return to their lands and receive compensation for loss and damages. This should not be up for negotiation.

So why am I optimistic? Why do I think Olmert will fail, if not in the short term, at least in the long term? There are many signs......"

Because the Pharaoh Has No Balls: 43 Palestinian patients died so far as a result of the siege on Gaza

"GAZA, (PIC)-- Two sick teen-age girls died on Wednesday, the first day of Eid, in Gaza after being barred from seeking medical treatment abroad by the Israeli occupation.

Palestinian medical sources on Wednesday morning announced the death of Dua Imran, 18 years, after suffering from a chronic disease and being barred from seeking medical treatment abroad because of the hermetic siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, 15-year-old Rawan Nassar, who suffered kidney failure, died on Wednesday evening, according to medical sources in the Gaza Strip.

The death of Rawan brings to 43 the number of Palestinian patients who died in the Gaza Strip since the closure of all Gaza Strip crossings since mid-June, turning the Gaza Strip into the largest concentration camp on earth.

The total closure since June 2007 and the economic siege that preceded it have left Gaza hospitals incapable of meeting the demands of the local population as the hospitals are running out of the necessary medication and spare parts for medical equipment, such as the much needed dialysis machines."

Latest From Dr. Mona El-Farra in Gaza

merry christmas and happy new year -happy eid Adha

"......In Gaza today our stories are the stories of loss of hope lack of just realistic political solution , poverty , despair ,unsafe streets irregular power , lack of clean water ,all sorts of frustrations, increasing %of children who suffer of posttraumatic disorders , desperate women and men increasing of domestic violence ,hungry kids in the streets , increasing number of children labourers ,increasing number of school leavers ,lack of proper environment for children upbringing etc……...

Xmas time is so close, from Gaza I send my love, and best wishes for merry xmas and happy new year, I ask you while celebrating not to forget us in Gaza, to spread the word of truth, to shake the world consciousness against the big war crimes that are happening in Gaza, the harsh inhuman collective punishment against my people, the occupation crimes that are committed under the pretence of Israel security and fighting terrorism!!

When it is late, it is not acceptable for the world to say: WE DID NOT KNOW WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN GAZA"

Palestinian Karzai Inviting a New Occupation; by NATO!

Otte to 'Post': Int'l force for Gaza could be set up quickly

"The mechanism for an international security presence in the Gaza Strip "could be devised quickly" if Israel and the Palestinians reach an agreement on the matter, EU Middle East envoy Marc Otte told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Otte said there is "definitely more interest than in the past" for the idea from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

"After the [Second] Lebanon War, the sides see the merit in an international security presence," Otte said, referring to the international force in southern Lebanon. At the same time, he said, "we are a long way away from implementation."

Otte said that the EU was currently "in a listening mode" on the matter, adding: "We must make sure that all the parties are interested."

Both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have spoken positively about an international force in recent days, and they were not alone.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said at Monday's donors' conference in Paris that France "proposes the deployment, when the time and conditions are right, of an international force to assist the Palestinian security services."

Abbas said Tuesday he supported Sarkozy's proposal, telling a press conference in Paris that he welcomed the idea. "We are working for this to become the international position in the near future," he said......."


Are the Palestinians going to stop this stooge before the disaster becomes irreversible?