Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Death to the Arabs!"

By Uri Avnery

"TOMORROW WILL BE the 32nd anniversary of the first "Day of the Land" - one of the defining events in the history of Israel.

I remember the day well. I was at Ben Gurion airport, on the way to a secret meeting in London with Said Hamami, Yasser Arafat's emissary, when someone told me: "They have killed a lot of Arab protestors!"......

After the 1948 war, only a small, weak and frightened Arab community was left in the state. Not only had about 750 thousand Arabs been uprooted from the territory that had become the State of Israel, but those who remained were leaderless. The political, intellectual and economic elites had vanished, most of them right at the beginning of the war......

For the sake of "security" (in both senses) the Arabs were subjected to a "military government". Every detail of their lives depended on it. They needed a permit to leave their village and go to town or the next village. Without the permission of the military government they could not buy a tractor, send a daughter to the teachers' college, get a job for a son, obtain an import license. Under the authority of the military government and a whole series of laws, huge chunks of land were expropriated for Jewish towns and kibbutzim......

"THE DAY OF THE LAND" changed the situation. A second generation of Arabs had grown up in Israel, no longer timidly submissive, a generation that had not experienced the mass expulsions and whose economic position had improved. The order given to the soldiers and policemen to open fire on them caused a shock. Thus a new chapter started......

The bloody events of the Day of the Land brought the "Israeli Arabs" back into the fold of the Arab nation and the Palestinian people, who now call them "the 1948 Arabs".......

Their belonging to the Palestinian people is self-evident. The Arab citizens of Israel, who lately tend to call themselves "Palestinians in Israel", are only one part of the stricken Palestinian people, which consists of many branches: the inhabitants of the occupied territories (now themselves split between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip), the Arabs in East Jerusalem (officially "residents" but not "citizens" of Israel), and the refugees living in many different countries, each with its own particular regime. All these branches have a strong feeling of belonging together, but the consciousness of each is shaped by its own particular situation......"

Maliki and the US fear the emergence of another round of national-resistance

From Missing Links

"Remarks reported this morning by Maliki, a US State Dept official, and the Iraqi Defense Minister indicate they wish they could put this genie back in the bottle, and the reason appears to be a general anxiety to the effect this could turn into a national resistance movement.

AlHayat reports this morning (Saturday March 29) the following:

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki--who extended his deadline for the militias to surrender their arms in exchange for monetary rewards to April 8--was intent on stressing that he did not invite the coalition forces in Iraq to participate in the Basra operations, and persons close to Maliki justified this by explaining the government's desire not to turn this fighting into a confrontation between the resistance and the occupation forces. In addition to confirming the Iraqi forces' ability in the field.

In other words, and it seems quite logical, Maliki is becoming concerned that what was supposed to be a mopping-up operation in Basra shows signs of turning into a nationwide uprising against the occupation forces (to which he owes his safety and that of his government).......

In other words, the government, which tried to disguise its attack on the Sadrists as a mere local law-enforcement effort in Basra, is finding that their intended victims are responding to the real threat, not the pretext, and have been able to do so effectively, using region-wide strategies in the South, and counterattacking against the government in Baghdad, so that the US State Department, now obliged to tell its Green Zone people to wear helmets outdoors and to sleep in fortified locations, is now stressing what a lovely group the Sadrists are, and what a bright future lies ahead for them, if we can just clean up this unfortunate situation in Basra."

القذافي ينتقد الزعماء العرب ويحذرهم من مصير صدام

"انتقد الزعيم الليبي معمر القذافي الزعماء العرب خلال كلمته في افتتاح أعمال القمة العربية في دمشق وحذرهم من أن يلقوا مصير الإعدام الذي لقيه الرئيس العراقي الراحل صدام حسين قبل أكثر من عام
وتساءل القذافي لماذا لم يطالب العرب بـ"التحقيق في تسميم (الرئيس الفلسطيني الراحل) ياسر عرفات وإعدام صدام حسين". وحذر الزعماء العرب من إمكانية انتهائهم إلى المصير نفسه قائلا "قد يأتي عليكم الدور كلكم
وذكر بأن نظام صدام حسين لا علاقة له بالقاعدة وأنه لم تكن لديه أسلحة دمار شامل، مضيفا أن المسؤولين الأميركيين الذين شنوا الحرب

على العراق كانوا كلهم أصدقاء لصدام، "كما أننا اليوم كلنا أصدقاء للأميركيين" حسب تعبيره.......

وقال القذافي إنه ليس في مصلحة العرب معاداة إيران، داعيا إلى رفع الخلاف حول الجزر الإماراتية إلى محكمة العدل الدولية، وتحدث عن التشتت العربي قائلا "نحن أعداء لبعضنا ونتآمر فيما بيننا على بعضنا ولا شيء يجمعنا سوى هذه القاعة".


Arab summit boycott of Syria threatens regional conflict

Report, Electronic Lebanon, 29 March 2008

"BEIRUT, 28 March 2008 (IRIN) - A boycott by Lebanon and major Arab powers of the Arab summit in Damascus (29-30 March) has dashed hopes for a last-ditch settlement of the Lebanese presidential crisis, raising fears of a descent into violence after it passes.

Political turmoil in Lebanon has often been the precursor to regional conflict and serious humanitarian problems in the past......

Ahmad Moussalli, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut, said the fractured summit marked the death of an Arab League initiative aimed at electing a president, redistributing cabinet seats and paving the way for parliamentary elections next year.....

"Somewhere it's going to explode"

Lurking behind the Arab isolation of Syria are US-Iran tensions, the analysts said, with Syria paying the price for being the only major Arab player allied to Teheran, which Washington accuses of sponsoring terrorism and attempting to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

"I think this could be the beginning of the death of the Arab League. Now we will see more the crystallization of alliances with the two major players in the region, the United States and Iran," said Moussalli.

Moussalli said the regional rift so graphically illustrated by the split over the Arab summit could blow up in Iraq, the Palestinian territories or Lebanon.

"Somewhere it's going to explode -- Lebanon seems a very likely place -- and push the players either to go to war or reach a settlement. As things seem now, there is likely to be no settlement.""

The Traitor Can't Suppress the Resistance Using Dayton's Puppet Forces. Now He Wants Arab (read Jordanian) Troops to Do the Job

At Syria summit, Abbas calls for Arab troops in Palestinian territories

"Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Arab leaders assembled at a Damascus summit Saturday to send peacekeeping troops to the Palestinian territories, as Arab leaders debated the future of a 2002 peace inititiative......

Abbas has called in the past for international peacekeepers in the Gaza Strip. But his call Saturday at an Arab summit in Damascus is the first time he has urged Arab countries to send forces.

He asked Arab countries to "think seriously of Arab and international
protection for our people."

Abbas took a sharply pessimistic tone over Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations launched in November......."

A great leap backward

By responding to Washington's call to arms, Nouri al-Maliki will be seen in Iraq as the tool of a deeply unpopular occupation

By Sami Ramadani
The Guardian

"Whoever they are, the people who planned and put in motion the onslaught on Basra have yet again dragged themselves into the quicksands of the Sadr movement......

Within 48 hours of the initial assault, many of Iraq's southern cities were visibly controlled by the Mahdi Army. More alarmingly still for Maliki's "charge of the knights" operation, many areas of Baghdad were not only staging protest marches but were evidently controlled by Sadr supporters, joined by various anti-occupation allies.....

An elated George Bush gave Maliki his full support - the "kiss of death", as one Baghdad resident put it.....

Many Iraqis are linking what they regard as a premeditated and unprovoked attack on a relatively peaceful city with Cheney's visit and Washington's insistence that the US-trained Iraqi armed forces should do more of the ground-fighting, while the occupation forces resort to air attacks and emergency support.

They are also linking it to the fact that oil and dock workers' unions, declared illegal, are in full control of the ports and the major oil fields. These unions are strongly opposed to the US-backed oil law to privatise the Iraqi industry and allow the major oil companies to control production and marketing. The law is also opposed by the Sadr movement, which was expected to win a decisive victories in forthcoming elections.

Once again, the occupiers have miscalculated the depth of resentment in Iraq. And once again, the occupation is seen by many Iraqis as a divisive force, the root of the bulk of the violence. For most Iraqis, it is the occupation which threatens to ignite civil war. Only an end to the occupation and complete withdrawal can put Iraq on the long and tortuous path of rebuilding its tormented lands."

Al-Jazeera Video: Al-Sadr calls for support of Arab states - 29 Mar 08

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Iraq - The cost of war - 28 Mar 08

A Very Good Video; listen to Haifa Zangana, among others.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Chief Arab Ass Has Spoken, So Listen Up: Moussa for new look at peace talks

"Amr Moussa, the Arab League chief, wants foreign ministers of the group to re-evaluate the Arab-Israeli peace talks.

Moussa said this at Saturday's opening of the Arab summit in Damascus, where Bashar al-Assad, Syria's president, asked how long Arab nations can keep offering Israel a land-for-peace proposal [because they have nothing else to offer]......

Moussa warned that the Arab League could take "painful decision regarding the Arab position towards peace negotiations".

He said: "Does that mean that the peace option is no more feasible? Yes, this is a possible position."

Moussa wanted Arabs to reconsider their options on Israel and the current negotiations if no progress is seen in the next few weeks.

He urged them to take a firm and decisive position on Israel and called on Arab foreign ministers to meet in mid-2008 [what is the hurry?]......."

Barhoum: Rice's visit "ominous"

"GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Saturday described American secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's visit to the region as "ominous" and aims at foiling Palestinian national reconciliation.

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press release that Rice's visit expected later today was "unwelcome" and bode ill for the Palestinian people.

The visit falls in line with the American continued efforts to abort any Palestinian national reconciliation specifically between Hamas and Fatah factions especially after the Arab summit's preliminary meeting adopted the Sana'a declaration, he elaborated.

"We do not expect this visit to bring any good to the Palestinian people or its usurped rights," he underlined.

Barhoum said that Rice's shuttle visits to the region only targets boosting Israel's security and pressuring the PA leadership and the "illegitimate" government of Salam Fayyad to enhance security coordination with Israeli occupation and to exercise more repression on Palestinian resistance fighters."

The Bitch, Mother of All Wars, Is Back!
Her Second Trip in Less Than 30 Days....
Her 14th Trip to the Region.....
More Birth Pangs on the Way.....
Head to the Bomb Shelter (if you have one)

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you support the Mahdi Army Obeying Maliki's orders and giving up its arms?

With over 300 responding so far (it is early), 74% said no.

Friday, March 28, 2008

اخطار ما بعد القمة

اخطار ما بعد القمة

عبد الباري عطوان

بالأمس كان العراق هو العدو الذي يجب تدميره عقابا له علي امتلاك اسلحة الدمار الشامل التي تهدد الدولة الاسرائيلية وتحقق التوازن معها، واليوم تأخذ ايران محله لانها تجرأت علي بناء ترسانة عسكرية قوية اصبحت تشكل خطرا علي اسرائيل وعلي الهيمنة الامريكية علي المخزون النفطي في الخليج.
في الحرب الاولي لم تكن امريكا بحاجة الي اسرائيل لتدمير العراق، لانه كان ضعيفا محاصرا مجوّعا، ولكنها اليوم لا تستطيع مواجهة ايران دون محور التحالف العربي ـ الاسرائيلي، وهذا ما يفسر تفرغ المسؤولين الامريكيين وتعاقب زياراتهم الي المنطقة العربية، وكأنه لا توجد مناطق ساخنة في العالم غيرها. فلا يمر شهر تقريبا دون ان يبدأ مسؤول امريكي كبير جولته في المنطقة جاعلا اسرائيل وعواصم الاعتدال العربي محطات رئيسية فيها، فهل هذه الجولات من اجل نشر الديمقراطية وقيم حقوق الانسان، ام من اجل دعم الاستقرار وإزالة شبح الحروب، ام من اجل قيام الدولة الفلسطينية التي تأخرت كثيرا، مثلما تباكي تشيني اثناء زيارة المجاملة التي قام بها الي رام الله مؤخرا؟
عندما تزور رايس المنطقة للمرة الرابعة عشرة، وبعد ثلاثة اسابيع تقريبا من زيارتها الثالثة عشرة، وقبل شهر تقريبا من وصول الرئيس جورج بوش اليها للمشاركة في احتفالات الذكري الستين لاغتصاب فلسطين، وبعد اسبوع من زيارة جون ماكين، المرشح الجمهوري، وتزامنا مع انعقاد القمة العربية، فان علينا ان نتوقع الاسوأ، فهناك طبخة يتم اعدادها! ويبدو انها اقتربت من مرحلة النضج، وهي طبخة سموم في جميع الاحوال، وعزاؤنا ان طباخيها سيتذوقونها حتما."

The Remains of Iraq

Iraqi police in Basra shed their uniforms, kept their rifles and switched sides


"Abu Iman barely flinched when the Iraqi Government ordered his unit of special police to move against al-Mahdi Army fighters in Basra.

His response, while swift, was not what British and US military trainers who have spent the past five years schooling the Iraqi security forces would have hoped for. He and 15 of his comrades took off their uniforms, kept their government-issued rifles and went over to the other side without a second thought.

Such turncoats are the thread that could unravel the British Army’s policy in southern Iraq. The military hoped that local forces would be able to combat extremists and allow the Army to withdraw gradually from the battle-scarred and untamed oil city that has fallen under the sway of Islamic fundamentalists, oil smugglers and petty tribal warlords. But if the British taught the police to shoot straight, they failed to instil a sense of unwavering loyalty to the State.

We know the outcome of the fighting in advance because we already defeated the British in the streets of Basra and forced them to withdraw to their base,” Abu Iman told The Times......

The reason for his apparent switch of sides was simple: the 36-year-old was already a member of the al-Mahdi Army which, like other militias, has massively infiltrated the British-trained police force in the southern oil city. He claimed that hundreds of others from the 16,000-strong force have also defected to the rebels’ ranks.Abu Iman joined the new Iraqi police force after the invasion, joining the Mugawil, a special police unit infamous for brutality, kidnapping and sectarian murders.

We already heard two weeks ago that we were going to attack the Mahdi Army, so we were ready,” he said. “I decided to take off my uniform and join my brothers and friends in the Mahdi Army......"

When a Great Power Goes Mad

By Robert Parry

"With the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War and the grim milestone of 4,000 U.S. dead, the nation has been awash with news retrospectives on the war and speeches by politicians, mostly offering sanitized versions of what's transpired.

With a few exceptions, these media/political reflections have had the feel of self-rationalizations, more than self-criticisms. They’ve conveyed a sense that the U.S. system is doing just fine, thank you, although a few mistakes were made.

So, you have President George W. Bush, the chief author of this catastrophic war, declaring that “normalcy is returning back to Iraq” even as fighting rages across much of the country and rockets rain down on the highly fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.

Bush’s comment invited comparisons to the acronym coined by U.S. Army soldiers during World War II: SNAFU for “situation normal, all fucked up.”.....

No need for national guilt. No need for accountability. No reason to purge the editorial offices of leading newspapers and TV networks. No reason to talk about impeachment or war-crimes tribunals for committing the "supreme" crime against world peace. No need for any of that.

As President Bush said on March 27, “normalcy is returning back to Iraq,” if you don't take note of the mayhem all around. One might add that a similar form of “normalcy is returning back to Washington,” if you don't take note of all the lies and the self-deceptions."

UN: Former Lebanon PM Hariri killed by criminal network

"Former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated by a "criminal network," according to a report filed Friday by the head of a United Nations team charged with investigating the killing.

Daniel Bellemare said in his first report to the UN Security Council on Friday that evidence indicates the so-called Hariri Network existed before his assassination on Feb. 14, 2005.

Syrian intelligence was often accused of being behind the murder, and while Damascus denied the charges, the attack nonetheless prompted Syria to end its long-time military presence in the country.

Bellemare said the evidence also indicates it conducted surveillance of the former premier, and that at least part of the network continued to operate after he was killed along with 22 others in a bombing in Beirut.

The former Canadian prosecutor said the commission investigating Hariri's
assassination "can now confirm, on the basis of available evidence, that a network of individuals acted in concert to carry out the assassination of Rafik Hariri."

The UN team found that the criminal network was also involved in the assassinations of other high-profile Lebanese figures. "

Also, posted by Evelyn:

"Wayne Madsen Report (entire) -

March 28-30, 2008 -- UN panel says Hariri killed by "criminal network": A UN panel headed by former Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare has concluded that former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated by a "criminal networK" and not by either Syrian and Lebanese intelligence or Lebanese Hezbollah as proffered by the neocon propaganda mill operating out of Washington, DC and Jerusalem.

The UN panel said that a "Hariri Network" had the ex-Prime Minister under surveillance before the Beirut massive car bombing that killed Hariri and 22 other people in November 2005.

WMR previously reported that the "criminal network" was composed of Lebanese and rogue Syrian intelligence agents connected to Israel's Mossad and a White House operation run by National Security Council senior staff member Elliott Abrams, the formerly convicted Iran-contra figure.

Although for political reasons the UN refrained from identifying the members of the "criminal element," WMR has reported it included rogue Syrians, Druze, and Palestinian intelligence operatives in Lebanon, as well as mercenaries linked to now jailed international arms smuggler Viktor Bout and members of the Russian-Israeli "organizatsiya" criminal syndicate.

WMR was criticized by the neocon press when it first reported on the actual elements behind Hariri's assassination and charges of "anti-Semitism" were the rule rather than the exception.

The UN revelations about Hariri's assassination removes a large predicate being pushed by the neocons for a military attack on Syria."

And When Do We Eat??
Contributed by Fatima

The Arab "Leaders" Reaffirm Their 2002 "Peace Initiative"

Stalled assault on Basra exposes the Iraqi government's shaky authority

By Patrick Cockburn

"The Iraqi army's offensive against the Shia militia of the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Basra is failing to make significant headway despite a pledge by the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to fight "to the end".

Instead of being a show of strength, the government's stalled assault is demonstrating its shaky authority over much of Baghdad and southern Iraq. As the situation spins out of Mr Maliki's control, saboteurs blew up one of the two main oil export pipelines near Basra, cutting by a third crude exports from the oilfields around the city.....

In Basra, Iraqi forces have cordoned off seven districts but appear stalled in their effort to dislodge the Mehdi Army fighters. Masked gunmen in some cases have captured or seized abandoned Iraqi army vehicles and painted pro-Sadrist slogans on their armour......

The Green Zone, the heavily fortified centre of American power in Iraq, was wreathed in smoke yesterday as it was struck by rockets and mortars fired from Shia neighbourhoods. In a further blow to the belief that the surge has restored law and order, one of the two Iraqi spokesmen for the Baghdad security plan, which is at the heart of the surge strategy, was kidnapped and three of his bodyguards killed before his house was set on fire. The victim was Tahseen Sheikhly, a Sunni who often appeared with American officials to proclaim the success of the surge......

When he first came to power, Mr Maliki balanced between ISCI and the Sadrists but has steadily become closer to the first party and has shown growing hostility to Mr Sadr. The last great battle between the Sadrists and the Iraqi government backed by the Americans was in Najaf in 2004 and was ended by the intervention of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani who wanted the Sadrists humbled but not crushed.....

The government has about 15,000 soldiers and the same number of police in Basra but this is not a great number in a city of two million. The police are closely linked to the militias and are unlikely to prove a resolute ally against the Mehdi Army."

I Have News for MP Khudari: Most Arab "Leaders" Are Part of and Enforcing the Siege

Khudari calls on Arab summit to send a delegation to Gaza to see effects of siege

"GAZA, (PIC)-- MP Jamal al-Khudari, chairman of the Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS), called on participants in the Arab summit, which will convene on Saturday, to take brave decisions to break the siege of the Gaza Strip and protect the Palestinian people.

Khudari called, during a press conference held by PCAS on Friday, on the summiteers to form a delegation to visit the Gaza Strip and see for themselves the tragic situation resulting from the oppressive siege there.

"If there was no summit we would have called for an urgent one to discuss the siege of Gaza and take urgent and important decisions to save the Strip, which is subjected to an Israeli suffocating siege which is being escalated all the time and that has claimed tens of victims, destroyed the economy, caused the deterioration of the health situation and paralysed life," Khudari said.

He pointed out that both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are suffering; whereas while the Gaza Strip is suffering because of the closure of all crossings preventing the movement of people and essential goods and resulting in the death of tens of patients, the West Bank is suffering from hundreds of roadblocks, the apartheid wall and separation from Jerusalem the Gaza Strip.

Khudari also stressed that the Arab summit should break the siege straight away [Dream on!]. He also called on European officials and human rights organisations to break the siege and called for reopening the Rafah crossing under Egyptian-Palestinian control.

He added that PCAS takes the opportunity of the convening of the Arab summit to make this call for lifting the siege and to stress that the Palestinian people have the right to enjoy peace and security."

From the Zionist Echo Chamber Known as the Palestinian Authority: Hamas gets Iranian plans for improved Qassams

"Hamas militants who recently returned to the Gaza Strip after training in Iran have a detailed plan for upgrading the capabilities of the rockets being developed in the Strip, according to senior Palestinian Authority sources.

A senior Palestinian source told Haaretz this week that members of Hamas' military wing smuggled blueprints and other detailed technical instructions into the Strip that will enable the group to develop rockets capable of striking at longer distances.

The PA source was unable to estimate the actual distance that these upgrades will allow the Qassam rockets to cover, but said that the aim is to strike at communities north of Ashkelon, which is approximately 15 kilometers north of the northern border of the Strip.......

And the stockpiles of Katyusha rockets in Gaza, according to the PA source, have dwindled since the fighting three weeks ago, although Iran has smuggled more Katyushas, made by its own military industries, into the Strip by sea, and has also stepped up its efforts to develop more effective rockets locally in the Strip.

The senior Palestinian source said that the technical information for improving the rockets was smuggled into the Strip following January's breach in the Philadelphi Route wall, which separates the Gaza Strip from Sinai and Egypt.

The source added that some 200 Hamas militants who received training in Iran, the Beqa'a Valley in Lebanon, and Syria, returned to the Strip through this breach in the wall.

Hamas and Hezbollah militants are being trained in Iran together, and are learning the same fighting doctrines.

In addition to the experts in rocket development, militants with specialized training in guerrila warfare also snuck back into the Strip. These men received specialized training in the use of anti-tank missiles, laying road-side bombs, and tactics for carrying out defensive
operations against a possible IDF invasion of the Strip......."


Hamas...Hizbullah...Iran; Hamas...Hizbullah...Iran; Hamas...Hizbullah.....
Got it?

It is not just one Palestinian Chalabi; there is a whole "authority" of them.

The Mystery of American Foreign Policy; Why are we propping up the pro-Iranian Maliki faction in Iraq?

By Justin Raimondo

"The recent increase in fighting around Basra, which is rapidly spreading to Baghdad, has the punditariat in a lather. Their sacred Surge has turned into a mere splurge – of resources, lives, and misplaced hope. Well, I could have told you that, and, indeed, I did. But never mind the chattering classes, their delusions of American omnipotence, and my own unfortunate penchant for self-congratulation. What's really fascinating about this story is how it underscores the central mystery of our Iraq war policy: why in the name of all that's holy are we supporting the pro-Iranian parties and factions in the Iraqi government, whilst Our Glorious Leader is coupling Tehran and al-Qaeda as "twin" evils to be fought and defeated in Iraq?

We have placed our chips on the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose party, Da'wa (Islamic Call), in alliance with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), now known as ISCI, was one of the few Iraqi resistance groups to refuse all U.S. aid in the run-up to the invasion, and wasn't all that cooperative as the occupation regime was established. Together with their partners in government, the Da'wa Party, SCIRI/ISCI took refuge in Iran during the Ba'athist era and received military aid and training from Iran's Revolutionary Guards. The extension of Iranian influence into Iraq was a direct consequence of the Iraq war, and the recent visit of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Baghdad has underscored this.......

From the very beginning, U.S. policymakers were determined to go after militant Shi'ite leader Moqtada al-Sadr, the son of a prominent cleric, whose Mahdi Army is the only significant indigenous opposition to the pro-Iranian militias and the Tehran-influenced central government. Sadr is critical of both the U.S. and the Iranians, and, as such, represents a direct threat to the occupation and the Iraqi status quo. U.S. efforts to paint the Sadrists as tools of Tehran backfired for lack of evidence, and are, in any case, counterintuitive – as Sadr is an ardent Iraqi nationalist who decries the country's breakup and opposes all foreign influence.

The consolidation of a strong Iraqi state is the last thing the Americans want, for that would threaten their occupation and lead to their swift exit from the country. It is also in the Iranian interest to keep Iraq divided and stop the nationalist Sadr and his brutal militia from taking power in Baghdad. And, as Robert Parry points out, another factor played a key role in tricking us into war:

"Israeli governments have long made a high priority out of forging alliances with countries like Iran on the periphery of the Arab world to divert Arab antipathy that otherwise could be concentrated on Israel. Plus, Israel and Iran had an important enemy in common: Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Both Israel and Iran had a lot to gain by convincing the United States to remove their hated adversary."........"

Arab Govts Ever More Draconian, Group Says

"One of the Arab world's most widely respected non-governmental organizations is charging that at least 14 Middle East and North African governments are systematically violating the civil liberties of their citizens – and most of them are close U.S. allies in the war on terror.

In a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) said that there have been "huge harassments of human rights organizations, and defenders have been increasingly subject to abusive and suppressive actions by government actors … in the majority of Arab countries, particularly Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, and Tunisia."

The group this week called upon the international community to "exert effective efforts to urge Arab governments to duly reconsider their legislation, policy, and practices contravening their international obligations to protect freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom to form associations, including non-governmental organizations"

It added, "Special attention should be awarded to providing protection to human rights defenders in the Arab World."......

As an example of typical area-wide human rights abuses, the CIHRS report cited the recent forced closure by Egyptian authorities of the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid, an organization active in exposing incidences of torture. The Egyptian government claimed that the organization"received foreign funding without having the consent of the Minister of Social Solidarity." ........

The organization warned of "increasingly repressive conditions" being imposed on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Egypt, including a proposed amendment to the Law of Associations that it said would limit the right of association and expression.

Other Arab nations singled out for detailed criticism included Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The report also accused four other Arab countries of human rights abuses – Libya, Algeria, Sudan, and Morocco.

The U.S. and other Western governments have had close ties with Arab governments in the Middle East and North Africa for many years. These ties have grown closer since the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. ......"

(Cartoons by the Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat)

Real News Video: Iraqi demonstrators call for Maliki's resignation

"Mounting anger focuses on Prime Minister al-Maliki as fighting spreads across sections of Iraq

Friday March 28th, 2008"

The Big Arab Decision?
Coke or Pepsi?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Separation or unity

The first and second Intifadas in the West Bank and Gaza steered the Palestinian liberation project away from unity with the rest of Palestine. In his second instalment on Israel's historic options, Azmi Bishara argues that there is no reason now why that unity cannot be recaptured

As Usual, A Great Piece
By Azmi Bishara
Al-Ahram Weekly

"Negotiations on the "two-state solution" have been voided of all substance. The Palestinian national liberation movement has lost all its sources of strength as a liberation movement, including its ability to rely on the Arab community instead of the "international community". It lost and forfeited its sources of strength before ever becoming a state and securing national sovereignty. It became the Palestinian Authority, an entity totally dependent upon negotiations, America's and Israel's good intentions, Israeli public opinion and other such factors. Negotiations over the Palestinian state have been reduced to a process of blackmail in which concessions are demanded and offered and fundamental rights are bartered away.

From the attitude that negotiations are an alternative to resistance, as opposed to the culmination of resistance, a new Palestinian leadership was born, a leadership so bound to the negotiating process that it is existentially dependent upon it. Israel knows that; we know that. Moreover, in this process, what is most essential to the concept of negotiation has been drained and replaced by Israeli handouts and the tokens of good intention that this leadership needs in exchange for laying siege to, hunting down and killing those Palestinian forces that have chosen and adhered to the path of resistance......

Unfortunately, the formula that Israel is currently proposing in this regard, as couched in the Bush and Sharon "visions", has so little to do with the actual creation of two sovereign states living side-by-side that it effectively proves the futility of the two-state solution. Worse yet, the Palestinian elite born from the "peace process" along with Arab regimes that are itching to put this burden behind them are helping Israel to market the rhetoric and stage the scene so as to make it appear as though the creation of a Palestinian state within the framework of a two-state solution is really on the cards. So for the time being we will be hearing a lot more about "land swaps" (without Jerusalem), "recognition of the right to return" without the exercise of this right, the creation of an entity without full sovereignty but called a state, and other such devices and euphemisms of which there seems to be an endless supply.

Would such a settlement bring peace, even if not a just peace? An answer to this question will be offered in the third episode."

رسوم محظورة عربيا في معرض الفنان علي فرزات

One of the Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat's cartoons depicting an Arab "leader" asking a dying citizen to be quiet, since an Arab Summit was in progress!

Al-Jazeera Cartoon

Official Arab Support For Besieged Gaza

حقبة ما بعد الصدر والتحول الجذري في الخيارات

فاضل الربيعي

ولكي ندرك بعمق مغزى هذا التحول وحدوده وآفاقه، فسوف أسوق الواقعة التالية، عندما كانت الاشتباكات العنيفة تندلع في البصرة (جنوب) والعصيان المدني يزمجر كالإعصار في سماء بغداد، وتقترب الساعة التي يضرب فيها مناطق غرب بغداد، فتغلق المحلات والمتاجر أبوابها استجابة لنداء التيار الصدري وتنفيذا لتهديداته، فاجأ وفد من "الصدريين" كان قد وصل إلى دمشق للتو، للقاء القوى والشخصيات الوطنية المناهضة للاحتلال، مضيفيه عندما بادر إلى سؤالهم عن الشيخ مقتدى الصدر، وما إذا كان موجودا في دمشق؟

ووسط حيرة وذهول المضيفين الذين كانوا ينتظرون من الوفد، جوابا على سؤال حائر يتعلق بمصير الصدر، وما إذا كان يخطط حقا، للدراسة في "حوزة النجف" كما قيل دار حوار مقتضب عن "مستقبل التيار"، واحتمالات التحول في خياراته السياسية في المرحلة المقبلة، ولكن دون التطرق بأي شكل من الأشكال إلى مستقبل زعيمه أو مصيره.

ولأن دوي القذائف وصواريخ الكاتيوشا في البصرة كان يسمع في بغداد كما في دمشق، بدا النقاش حول مصير مقتدى الصدر أمرا قليل الأهمية.

ووسط هذه الأجواء تسربت معلومات من بعض الأوساط الدينية العراقية بأن "إيران فرضت الإقامة الجبرية على مقتدى الصدر في قُم". وقد أبلغني رجل دين عراقي بارز، وهو يعلق على زيارة وفد الصدريين أن إيران استبقت الإعلان عن العصيان المدني في بغداد، والاشتباكات في الجنوب باتخاذ قرار "سحب" الصدر من الواجهة، وأنها "فرضت عليه الإقامة الجبرية في قم".

ولذلك، بدا السؤال البريء الذي ألقاه وفد الصدريين على مضيفيهم في دمشق، عن "زعيمهم" المتواري عن الأنظار، وكأنه أبعد ما يكون عن "التضليل" أو التعمية على حقيقة ما يجري، وأقرب ما يكون تعبيرا علنيا وصريحا عن حسم حالة الارتباك والتجاذب بين القوى الجديدة والقديمة داخل التيار.

قمة بلا مستقبل

عبد الستار قاسم

"القمة العربية السنوية على الأبواب، فماذا سينتج عنها؟ بالتأكيد لن تكون النتائج إلا متناسبة مع حجم أقطابها مجتمعين.

الأقطاب العظام يتخذون قرارات عظيمة، يعملون على تنفيذها بجد ودأب وحرص ومتابعة، والأقطاب الصغار يتخذون قرارات هزيلة خاوية لا يعملون على تنفيذها. هذه قاعدة تاريخية صحيحة تنطبق على العرب وعلى غير العرب.

القضايا بقدر عقول أصحابها، القرارات على قدر متخذيها
والمتابعة على قدر الإرادة، ومن كان عقله صغيرا تصغر قضاياه، ومن كان ضعيفا لا يستطيع القفز عن ضعفه، ومن كان متهتكا يعجز عن توظيف الجهود.
وأحاطت بقمة بيروت عام 2002 ظروف مختلفة دعت الحكام العرب إلى اتخاذ قرارات هزيلة، لكن السواعد كانت أكثر هزلا من القرارات الهزيلة.

مع كل قمة عربية تستنفر وسائل الإعلام العربية خاصة الرسمية منها وتضخ الآمال في نفوس الناس وتعدهم بخير وفير قادم، وبعزة عربية طال انتظارها، ولا تكاد أسابيع تمر حتى تتبدد الآمال دون أن تعتذر وسائل الإعلام، علما بأن انعقاد القمة عبارة عن خبر وليس حدثا بمعنى أن للحدث تبعات وذيولا بينما قد لا يكون للخبر مثل ذلك.
يبدو أن أغلب الأنظمة العربية منهمكة الآن في التعاون مع إسرائيل مباشرة أو بصورة غير مباشرة للقضاء على حزب الله، ومع أميركا لمحاصرة القوة الإيرانية المتزايدة.

هذا أيضا منطقي من حيث إن إسرائيل لا تشكل تهديدا للأنظمة العربية رغم أنها تهدد الأمة، وحزب الله يهدد الأنظمة من حيث إن لانتصاره العسكري تأثيره على رغبة وقدرة الشعوب العربية على مواجهة الحكام.

حزب الله يشكل خطرا غير مباشر على أغلب الأنظمة العربية بينما تشكل إسرائيل ضمانة لاستمرار هذه الأنظمة، ونفس المنطق ينسحب على إيران التي ترى فيها الأنظمة العربية خطرا داهما يمكن أن يقلل من النفوذ الأميركي في المنطقة.

هذا المتغير يعمق الانقسام في الساحة العربية، وإن كان من الممكن النظر إليه تاريخيا ومنطقيا على أنه إيجابي ولصالح الأمة، وهو تطور يعبر عن نضج الصراع الدائر في المنطقة الذي لا مفر سيحسم لصالح المستقبل، لأن الماضي لن يكسب المعركة لأنه قد مضى، والمستقبل يبقى للذين ينظرون إلى الأمام.

نحن العرب ما زلنا خلف التاريخ في مختلف المجالات إلا من مجال الاستهلاك. نحن لدينا حداثة استهلاكية، لكننا بدون حداثة إنتاجية، بل إن الإنتاج التقليدي يعاني من أزمات. ولدينا الكثير من الآليات الحديثة لكننا لا نملك المبادرة العلمية ولا التقنية، وإذا كنا سنلقي المسؤولية في هذا التخلف على أحد فإن الحكام الذين يجتمعون في القمة يحتلون رأس القائمة.

الحاكم الذي لم يدخل عالم الحداثة والتطوير العلمي والتحديث السياسي لا يمكن أن يكون قادرا على إدارة شؤون شعب أو أمة، ولا أن يكون مساهما في عملية البناء الحضاري.

القمة لا قيمة لها، وقد تكون آثارها سلبية من حيث إنها تسهم في تعزيز الإحباط لدى الإنسان العربي. قد لا يقوى أبناء القرن الـ21 على اتخاذ خطوات موفقة نحو التقدم والازدهار وتحرير الإنسان، فكيف إذا تعلق الأمر بأصحاب الكهوف؟

Thousands of Palestinians protest in Hebron against charity closures (by the Evil Twins: the PA and the IOF)

"Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron protested on Thursday against Israeli raids and closures of orphanages and charities linked to Islamist group Hamas.

Israel says the charities, which helped Hamas build support among Palestinians and win a 2006 parliamentary election, provide help to militants. The charities say they are simply aiding ordinary Palestinians.

According to organisers, some 4,000 protesters including children protested in Hebron. They chanted anti-Israeli slogans, waved green banners - the color of the Hamas flag - and held placards reading "They even took our bread".

Since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June, Israel has stepped up raids targeting the group's charities and schools in the occupied West Bank, where Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's rival Fatah faction holds sway.

Abbas's government has also sought to crack down on Hamas members and their charities in the West Bank.

Israel Defense Forces troops last month raided the Hamas-linked Islamic Charity Organisation in Hebron, confiscating computers and vehicles from its main office and closing several smaller offshoot institutions, including an Islamic school.

"We are not a terrorist organisation. We are helping orphans and families who have no source of income," said Abu Hamdan, a spokesman for the Islamic Charity Organization....."

British Correspondent Patrick Cockburn on Iraq’s Growing Sectarian Divide and the Myth of “Success” in the U.S. “Surge”

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"As a new civil war threatens to explode in Iraq between U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces and Shia militiamen, we go to London to speak with Patrick Cockburn, Iraq correspondent for the London Independent. Covering the invasion and occupation from the ground in Iraq for the past five years, Cockburn has been described as “the best Western journalist at work in Iraq today.” He is author of the new book “Muqtada: Muqtada Al Sadr, The Shia Revival and the Struggle For Iraq.”......"

Prognosis for Iraq

Mars Only Knocks Once--Then He Blows the Building


"Most wars move not at a steady pace but in a series of fits and starts. For about half a year, we have been enjoying something of a lull in the war in Iraq. Anything that reduces casualties is to be welcomed. But the bulletins' claims that the downward trend in violence will continue should be seen more as political vaporing than military analysis. Events begin to suggest that the lull is ending and Mars is in the ascendant.

To make a prognosis, we first must understand why we have enjoyed a period of relative quiet. There are four basic causes. In order of importance, they are......

The main story of the current lull is one of lost opportunity. Whether soon or in the more distant future, the war in Iraq will get hotter again. The lull gave us what might be our only opportunity to leave Iraq with some tailfeathers intact. Just as the Bush administration's blindness got us into this war, so its rigidity made us pass over our best chance to get out. Like opportunity, Mars only knocks once. Next time, he blows the building."

In New Book, Chilean Ambassador to the UN Details Bush Admin’s Pre-War Efforts to Coerce Allies into Supporting Iraq Invasion

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

".....AMY GOODMAN: Although the Bush administration never got the Security Council resolutions they needed, they did try their best to pressure undecided Security Council members to support the Iraq invasion. Chile, along with Mexico, Pakistan, Cameroon, Angola and Guinea, were the six undecided members of the Security Council during the lead-up to the war.

Heraldo Muñoz, the Chilean Ambassador to the United Nations, has written an insider’s account of that period, revealing new details of how the United States bullied its allies and threatened reprisals against those withholding support. His book is called A Solitary War: A Diplomat’s Chronicle of the Iraq War and Its Lessons. Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz joins us in our firehouse studio here in New York, just down the road from the United Nations......

JUAN GONZALEZ: What about the pressure that those undecided members of the Security Council were under in those months, those early months of 2003? What kind of efforts did the United States make, other than obviously these phone calls, to try to get the votes of those members?

AMBASSADOR HERALDO MUÑOZ: Well, there were abundant phone calls, of course. My president, President Lagos, was called by President Bush on several occasions. He talked to Prime Minister Blair, looking for an intermediary solution that was at a moment, between the British and Chile and the other undecided, the possibility of an outcome that never was. And in addition to that, by the way, there were pressures from those that were fully opposed, without a doubt, to the invasion, meaning France. President Jacques Chirac talked to Lagos and to other world leaders in the Security Council.

But the pressure, I think, is, as I say it in the book, expressed itself in nuanced warnings, like, for example, a memorandum has emerged in the Spanish ministry showing that President Bush mentioned that the free trade agreement between Chile and the United States hadn’t been finished, and that could be endangered if Chile did not go along the way that the United States thought we should in Iraq. And a warning was made as regards Angola, that perhaps the Millennium Account that benefited development goals of Angola could be also in danger if there was not—if Angola didn’t follow the US or the US-British posture. So there were veiled, I would say, warnings.

But nevertheless, here was a fundamental principle at stake for countries like Chile, and that was a respect for multilateralism, respect for the Security Council and the Charter of the United Nations, that you use force as a last resort once all diplomatic efforts have been exhausted, and then you make sure that there are weapons of mass destruction. Evidence and history has shown that we were right. And the costs, in terms of lives, in terms of treasure, have been tremendous. And that, I think, leaves us quite satisfied about what we did: even though relatively small countries, we stood up our ground on questions of principle......."

Flowers, Strawberries, and Missiles

By Mohammed Omer

"BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza, Mar 27 (IPS) - Just 300 yards from the hidden eyes in the Israeli tank, Ahmed Felfel picks his strawberries. But it isn't the Israelis in the tank who worry him as much as those others who will not let him sell them.

Earlier, it was flowers grown in Gaza and then fed to camels because the Israeli blockade would not let them through. Now it is strawberries grown and wasted.

It is Gaza's irony that the most desperate conditions produce some of the finest people seek. Nature itself has been kind to Gaza; the soil is rich, there is plenty of sunshine, and predictable rainfall. All that produces strawberries of a quality that the best restaurants in Europe like to serve.

After Gaza elected Hamas, Israel moved swiftly with U.S. backing to isolate the 23-mile long strip of land with Israel on one side and the Mediterranean on the other. It's a siege that will not let even flowers and strawberries through......."

Syrian FM: Israel must show commitment to peace process

"Israel must show a commitment to the peace process if Syria is to re-evaluate its support of the 2002 Saudi peace initiative, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said on Thursday.

The minister's comments were made two days before Arab leaders were to meet in Damascus for a regional summit scheduled for Saturday.

According to Moallem, Israeli reluctance to take diplomatic steps towards peace was behind the decision made by Arab League members in Cairo last month that the continuation of the Saudi Peace initiative will hinge upon Israeli cooperation.......

Abbas says he opposes withdrawal of peace plan

Abbas conferred Thursday with Jordan's King Abdullah II on the upcoming Arab summit conference in Damascus, and said he was opposed to the proposed withdrawal of the pan-Arab peace plan with Israel.

"There is no room for changing or amending the Arab initiative," Abbas told reporters after the meeting.

"Our attitude has always been that this plan should remain as it is and that we should defend it and fight for it because it is an expensive initiative and the other side [Israel] should accept it," he said.

The Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa recently raised the possibility of withdrawing the Arab peace blueprint at the Damascus summit if Israel continued to ignore it [Do you believe these bankrupt clowns?]......."

Manufacturing Consent For War

Hizbullah increases rocket range; can now reach Dimona

"Anonymous Defense Ministry officials reveal Iran, Syria arming Hizbullah with new rockets ranging up to 300 km. Organization can now hit almost all major cities

With Iranian backing, Hizbullah militants have dramatically increased their rocket range and can now threaten most of Israel, anonymous Defense Ministry officials said Wednesday, explaining that the Lebanese organization has acquired new Iranian rockets with a range of about 300 kilometers. This means the guerrillas can hit anywhere in Israel's heavily populated center and reach as far south as Dimona......."

"Blood and Religion" A Review of Jonathan Cook's book

by Stephen Lendman

Global Research, March 27, 2008

"....Cook states why he's in Nazareth as follows: to give himself "greater freedom to reflect on the true nature of the (Israeli-Palestinian) conflict and (gain) fresh insight into its root causes." He "choose(s) the issues (he) wish(es) to cover (and so is) not constrained by the 'treadmill' of the mainstream media....which gives disproportionate coverage to the concerns of the powerful (so it) makes much of their Israel/Palestine reporting implausible."

Living among Arabs, "things look very different" to Cook. "There are striking, and disturbing, similarities between" the Palestinian experience inside Israel and within the Occupied Territories. "All have faced Zionism's appetite for territory and domination, as well as repeated (and unabated) attempts at ethnic cleaning."
Cook authored two important books and contributed to others. His newest one, just published was reviewed by this writer. It's called "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East." Advance praise accompanied it, and noted author John Pilger calls it "One of the most cogent understandings of the modern Middle East I have read. It is superb, because the author himself is a unique witness" to events and powerfully documents them.

Cook's earlier book was published in 2006. It's titled "Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State" and is the subject of this review. It's the rarely told story of the plight of Israel's 1.4 million Arab citizens, the discrimination against them, the reasons why, and the likely future consequences from it. Israel's "demographic problem" is the issue Cook addresses. It's the time when a faster-growing Palestinian population (excluding the diaspora) becomes a majority, and the very character of a "Jewish State" is threatened. Israel's response - state-sponsored repression and violent ethnic cleansing, in the Territories and inside Israel.

Arab-Israeli citizens are referred to as "Israeli Arabs." It's how many of them refer to themselves as do Israelis. They're the sole remnants of the Palestinian population Israel expelled in its 1948 War of Independence. Palestinians call it the Nakba that describes as follows: ...."the Nakba (cataclysm)....saw the mass deportation of a million Palestinians from their cities and villages, massacres of civilians, and the razing to the ground of hundreds of Palestinian villages." Noted Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, believes 800,000 were affected. Cook uses 750,000. Whatever the true figure, it was huge and changed everything for Palestinians henceforth......."

Normality in the West Bank

Maria Urkedal York writing from Nablus, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 27 March 2008

(Maria Urkedal York is from Norway and currently lives in Nablus where she works with the Right to Education Campaign at An-Najah University)

"...... As someone who came here hoping to bring clarity to the hazy and media-influenced image I had of the life and people in Palestine, the contrasts visible everywhere still continue to astonish me even after four months. No matter how trivial and shallow some of the traces of the military occupation might seem at first, their marks are everywhere, forcing themselves onto the landscape and people's lives, hinting to the many layers and the depths of the effects of the occupation.......

It is the constant reminder that every aspect of people's lives here is affected by the occupation. My Palestinian friends who have lived their whole lives in this context tell me that one of the worst things of existing under such conditions is that after a while it becomes normal. One comes to expect everything. One has to endure everything. One has to remain hopeful that life will become easier one day. But when I ask how they understand the situation, they tell me that it is just getting worse; although they want to remain hopeful for future improvements, reality has shown them too many times that hope can be deceiving. Imagine yourself living in conditions of constant oppression, discrimination and insecurity I tell my friends back home, and I know they cannot. I cannot even imagine it myself. My little red passport, always kept in my pocket, feels somehow like a protective shield."

Real News Video: Why did US green light Iraq gov attack in Basra?

Pepe Escobar: The Battle of Basra rages on

"Based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Pepe Escobar writes The Roving Eye for Asia Times Online. He has reported from Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, US and China. He is the author of the recently published Red Zone Blues. Pepe is a regular analyst for The Real News Network."

L'état c'est moi
By Steve Bell, The Guardian

Bombers attack Basra oil pipeline

Claire Truscott, Richard Norton-Taylor and agencies

"One of southern Iraq's two main oil export pipelines has been severely damaged in a bomb attack, officials said today.

The bombing of the pipeline, seven miles south of Basra, came as clashes between Iraqi security forces and Shia fighters in the port city entered a third day.

"This morning, saboteurs blew up the pipeline transporting crude from [the] Zubair 1 [oil plant] by placing bombs beneath it," an oil company official said.

"Crude exports will be greatly affected because this is one of two main pipelines transporting crude to the southern terminals. We will lose about a third of crude exported through Basra."

The official said it would take three days to repair the damage if security could be provided for workers......"

West Bank faces toxic waste crisis

By Mel Frykberg in Ramallah

"The West Bank has become a dumping site for hazardous waste - which is making residents sick, say Israeli and Palestinian environmental groups.

Several weeks ago, villagers from Jima'in in the Nablus district complained that Israeli trucks were again dumping waste on Palestinian land.

Ayman Abu Thaher, the deputy director-general of the Palestinian Authority's Environmental Awareness Directorate said such dumping has been going on for years.

"The Israelis are using the West Bank as a cheap and easy alternative for dumping their waste at the expense of the health of Palestinians," he said.

According to Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME), a joint Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian environmental group, improper dumping of contaminants and waste has over time become a threat to the region's drinking water......

Accusing Israel

Abu Thaher, told Al Jazeera that some Israeli companies were dumping waste in the Palestinian territories rather than resorting to the official hazardous waste treatment site, Ramot Havav, in southern Israel.

In 1985, Israeli pesticide company Geshuri closed operations in Kfar Sava and relocated to Tulkarem in the northern West Bank after Israeli residents petitioned for and obtained a court order for the company to move.

They had accused the company of being responsible for an increase in pollution-related health issues.

"A number of Israeli companies have relocated to the West Bank to avoid the strict environmental laws governing the disposal of waste, particularly hazardous waste in Israel," Abu Thaher told Al Jazeera......."

Al-Jazeera Video: Inside Story - Iraq's militias - 26 Mar 08

Part 1

Part 2

Nazareth, the neglected city of Jesus

Christine Bro, The Electronic Intifada, 27 March 2008
(Christine Bro is a recent graduate of McGill University currently working and residing in Haifa)

"Last weekend, Catholics in Nazareth and around the world celebrated the most holy and significant events to Christianity, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, marking the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a man in Biblical times known simply as "Jesus of Nazareth." However, today Nazareth faces a slow and painful death in the face of land theft and colonization.
In 1948, during what Palestinians call the Nakba, over 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes and country through direct physical expulsion, ethnic cleansing or psychological warfare, leaving only one third of the original inhabitants in historic Palestine. Even the indigenous Palestinians who remained during the period of 1947-49 became internally displaced refugees in the newly created state of Israel, due to laws passed by the Israeli government that transferred land to the state by declaring it a military zone and did not allow for Palestinians to return to their original homes. Until today, these internally displaced refugees have no right to return to their original land, towns or villages and presently account for more than 355,000 refugees inside Israel.......

The conditions of the Nazareth souq reflects the condition of Nazareth as a whole, substantiating that it is a myth that the majority of Palestinian Arabs living under the Israeli state are comfortable and content with their current circumstances. Unfortunately for the people and city of Nazareth today, that is all Nazareth remains, an idea in the past, a fantasy in the Christian mind and a destination for Christian pilgrims who remain unaware of this historical city's present situation and its continued slow and painful death. In the words of Abu Ali, "this city [Nazareth] must shine again because this is the city of Jesus Christ, a holy city, and should be opened to all tourists, not closed.""

Thank You Turkish Supporters!

60 seriously injured Palestinians arrive in Istanbul for medical treatment

"ISTANBUL, (PIC)-- Under the auspices of IHH, a Turkish relief committee, 60 Palestinians from those who sustained serious injuries in the last Israeli aggression on Gaza arrived aboard a private plane in Istanbul to receive medical treatment in Turkish hospitals.

The seriously wounded Palestinian will be receiving appropriate medical treatment and surgical operations in Turkish hospitals. Many of the survivors of the Israeli massacre in Gaza will be provided with prostheses and will be provided with psychological support within an integrated program during their stay in Turkey.

For its part, IHH announced that it held meetings with the Egyptian government prior to the travel of the wounded Palestinians to Istanbul which resulted in the latter's approval to allow 60 cases to travel for medical treatment.

IHH underlined that there are dozens of serious injuries in the Egyptian hospitals such as the case of a Palestinian child called Shukri Khader, 11, who became paralyzed after sustaining three bullet wounds in his body one is in his hip."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Real News Video: Basra: Shiite elites fight for dominance

"Pepe Escobar on fighting in Basra

Wednesday March 26th, 2008

Based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Pepe Escobar writes The Roving Eye for Asia Times Online. He has reported from Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, US and China. He is the author of the recently published Red Zone Blues. Pepe is a regular analyst for The Real News Network."

EGYPT: Can't Wait a Generation to Eat

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, Mar 26 (IPS) - A World Bank official said this month it could take as long as "a generation" for the effects of Egypt's recent economic growth to be felt by the poorest segments of the population. But as "neo-liberal" economists urge patience, retail prices for essential foodstuffs continue to skyrocket, stretching many household salaries to breaking point.

"Prices of most basic food commodities are increasing dramatically," Nagla Badr, a 35-year-old housewife and mother of two from Cairo, told IPS. "Within the last few months alone, one kilo of rice has gone up from two Egyptian pounds (roughly 0.35 dollar) to five Egyptian pounds (about 0.90 dollar] in many places. This is simply too expensive for many families.".....

According to al-Massiri, the critical state of affairs could end up having momentous political consequences.

"Public anger is rising across the board," he said. "But this anger has to be mobilised by the opposition in order to bring about peaceful political change."

For much of the public, however, political considerations have taken a backseat to more immediate concerns.

"Ultimately, the people don't care who's in charge -- the Mubarak regime or the Islamist opposition," said Badr. "We just want leadership capable of providing the public with the bare minimum of food.""

مقتل سيدة في صراع بالأسلحة على أولوية الحصول على الخبز بطنطا

"انضمت ربة منزل بإحدى قرى مركز طنطا إلى قائمة ضحايا أزمة الخبز في مصر، بعدما دفعت حياتها ثمنًا من أجل الحصول على عشرة أرغفة، أثناء وقوفها في طابور أمام أحد أفران الخبز، فيما أحبط مجموعة من الأشخاص في وقت متأخر مساء أمس الأول، محاولة مخبز تابع للشركة العامة لمخابز القاهرة الكبرى بالمهندسين، تهريب أربعة آلاف رغيف خبز مدَّعم وثلاثة أجولة من الدقيق الفاخر لبيعها بمنطقة الشيخ زايد ...."

Israeli Army Denying Cancer Patient Vital Treatment, Charges Amnesty International

"WASHINGTON, DC - March 26 - The Israeli army must allow chronically ill cancer patient Karima Abu Dalal to leave the Gaza Strip and obtain desperately needed medical care in Israel, Amnesty International said today.

"Karima Abu Dalal's life now hangs in the balance because of the Israeli army's failure to grant her a permit to leave Gaza to obtain specialized cancer treatment not available there," said Amnesty International.

More than 40 people are reported to have died in the Gaza Strip in recent months because they were refused passage out of the area in order to obtain urgent medical treatment that could not be provided to them there.

Karima Abu Dalal, 34, suffers from Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of cancer which can be cured if appropriate, timely treatment is provided. Her condition has deteriorated recently and she now has difficulty breathing and walking. Her doctors in Gaza consider that her survival depends on her being removed urgently to Israel for treatment at an advanced medical center......"

Bush's "Vision" for a Palestinian "State"

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you see any point in holding Arab summits?

With over 2,000 responding so far, 85% said no.

“The Man Who Pushed America to War”–Aram Roston on “The Extraordinary Life, Adventures and Obsessions of Ahmad Chalabi”

Democracy Now!
With Amy Goodman

"As the war in Iraq enters its sixth year, we take a look at The Man Who Pushed America to War. That’s the title of a new book about Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi exile who helped drum up pre-war claims that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction and had links to al-Qaeda. We speak with author Aram Roston about Chalabi’s past, his close ties to the US government, his role in the US invasion of Iraq and much more......"

Sadr Offensive Shows Failure of Petraeus Strategy

Analysis by Gareth Porter

"WASHINGTON, Mar 26 (IPS) - The escalation of fighting between Mahdi Army militiamen and their Shiite rivals, which could mark the end of Moqtada al-Sadr's self-imposed ceasefire, also exposes Gen. David Petraeus's strategy for controlling Sadr's forces as a failure......

Petraeus statement was clearly intended to divert attention from a development that threatens one of the two main pillars of the administration's claim of progress in Iraq -- the willingness of Sadr to restrain the Mahdi Army, even in the face of systematic raids on its leadership by the U.S. military and its Iraqi allies.

The rocket attacks appear to have been one of several actions by the Mahdi Army to warn the United States and the Iraqi government to halt their systematic raids aimed at driving the Sadrists out of key Shiite centres in the south. They were followed almost immediately by Mahdi Army clashes with rival Shiite militiamen in Basra, Sadr City and Kut and a call for a nationwide general strike to demand the release of Sadrist detainees......

Revealing the contradictions built into the U.S. position in Iraq, even as it was blaming Iran for the alleged renegade units of the Mahdi Army, the U.S. was using the Badr Organisation, the military arm of the ISCI, to carry out raids against the Mahdi Army. The Badr Organisation and the ISCI had always been and remained the most pro-Iranian political-military forces in Iraq, having been established, trained and funded by the IRGC from Shiite exiles in Iran during the Iran-Iraq war.

It was the ISCI leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim who had invited two IRGC officers to be his guests in December 2006, apparently to discuss military assistance to the Badr Organisation. The Iranian officials were seized in the home of home of Hadi al-Ameri, the leader of the Badr Organisation and detained by the U.S. military. The Bush administration continued throughout 2007 to cite those Iranian visitors as evidence of the IRGC's illicit intervention in Iraq.

But the Badr Organisation had become the indispensable element of the Iraqi government's security forces, who could be counted on to oppose the Mahdi Army in the south. And in a further ironic twist, it was the leaders of the ISCI and of the Nouri al-Maliki government, which depended on Iranian support, who insisted last summer and fall that the United States should credit Iran with having prevailed on Sadr to agree to a ceasefire. The close collaboration of the U.S. command with these pro-Iranian groups against Sadr appears to be the main reason for the State Department's endorsement of that argument last December......."

The Authority of Thieves

PA to probe ex-Arafat aide over multi-million dollar Aqaba project

"The Palestinian Authority will probe former Yasser Arafat economic adviser Mohammed Rashid's connection to a multi-million dollar tourism project in a 'neighboring state', public prosecutor Ahmed Al-Maghni said Wednesday.

PA sources told Haaretz that the project was located in the south Jordan port city of Aqaba, and valued at $600 million. Senior PA officials other than Rashid had also been involved, the sources said. According to Al-Maghni, the PA plans to investigate the source of the capital which was invested in the project.

Senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Rouhi Fattouh, was arrested one week ago at the Allenby Bridge crossing between Jordan and Israel with between 2,000 and 3,000 mobile telephones valued at $1.5 million......"

عقب فضيحتي فتوح وقريع .. مستشار سابق لعرفات يستثمر بـ 600 مليون دولار!

"رام الله - المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

قالت مصادر صحفية فلسطينية الأربعاء (26/3)، إن النيابة العامة الفلسطينية تدرس اتخاذ إجراءات قانونية بحق خالد سلام "المستشار الاقتصادي للرئيس الفلسطيني الراحل ياسر عرفات" على خلفية اختلاس أموال.

ونقلت المصادر عن النائب العام في "حكومة" رام الله (غير القانونية)، المستشار أحمد المغني إنه يدرس حالياً إمكانية اتخاذ إجراءات قانونية بحق خالد سلام الملقب بمحمد رشيد بعد نشر أنباء تفيد أن الأخير سيقيم مشروعاً استثمارياً ضخماً بقيمة 600 مليون دولار على شاطئ البحر الجنوبي للعقبة.

وقال المغني إن الإجراءات القانونية التي يتم دارستها الآن تهدف إلى معرفة مصادر هذه الأموال وما إذا كانت من أموال السلطة الفلسطينية أم من عدمها.

وقد أثيرت شبهات حول خالد سلام عقب وفاة الرئيس عرفات باعتباره أحد أبرز المؤتمنين على أموال السلطة ومنظمة التحرير الفلسطينية باعتباره مستشاراً اقتصادياً للرئيس ومشرفاً على العديد من الاستثمارات للسلطة في الخارج.

ويقيم خالد سلام خارج الأراضي الفلسطينية منذ سنوات، وكانت دعوات فلسطينية قد طالبت مراراً بتقديمه للقضاء على خليفة اتهامات عديدة له بالاختلاس.

وتأتي الفضيحة الجديدة للسلطة بعد أيام قليلة من ضبط القيادي في الحركة روحي فتوح وفي سيارته 3 ألاف جهاز هاتف نقال، وفضيحة أخرى لعضو اللجنة المركزية أحمد قريع باختلاس 3 مليون دولار من مخصصات منظمة التحرير وحركة فتح في الخارج. "

Anti-Arab Racism and Incitement in Israel

A Very Good Piece

By Ali Abunimah
Source: Palestine Center Information Brief No. 161

"A prominent strategy of Israeli hasbara, or official propaganda, is to deflect criticism of its actions in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip by stressing that within the country’s 1948 boundaries, it is a model democracy comparable to the societies in Western Europe and North America with which it identifies and on whose diplomatic support it relies to maintain a favorable status quo. In fact, Israeli society is in the grip of a wave of unchecked racism and incitement that seriously threatens Israel’s Palestinian community and the long-term prospects for regional peace. This briefing examines societal and institutional racism and incitement by public figures against Israel’s Arab population and considers some policy implications.

Background and Context....

Unlearned Lessons: The Jabal al-Mukkabir “Pogrom”.....

Racist Statements and Incitement by Religious and Political Leaders.....

Silence is Consent......

A Society in Crisis......

Discrimination against United States Citizens.....

Conclusions and Implications.....

Although most international actors are not yet ready to do so, it is inevitable that the situation inside Israel will eventually have to be internationalized. A good example of the successful internationalization of an “internal” situation is the role external actors played in overseeing the transformation of the Royal Ulster Constabulary from a uniformed sectarian militia into the present-day Police Service of Northern Ireland and otherwise supporting the Northern Ireland peace process. There must also be external pressure on Israel to curb and punish racist incitement and to launch broad public initiatives, particularly in schools, to combat hateful stereotypes of Arabs.

As Israeli politicians and parties increasingly propose “solutions” that treat all Palestinians, whether citizens or not, as equally inferior, Palestinians in the diaspora, the Occupied Territories and inside Israel must urgently engage with each other to formulate common strategies to protect and advance their human and political rights."

This is Zionism: Hang Their Children From a Tree!

Safed chief rabbi calls on state to exact 'revenge' against Arabs

"The chief rabbi of Safed, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, is calling on the government to carry out "state-sanctioned revenge" against Arabs in order to, in his words, restore Israel's deterrence......

In a piece penned for this upcoming weekend's edition of the newsletter "Eretz Yisrael Shelanu," Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu wrote: "It's time to call the child by its name: Revenge, revenge, revenge. We mustn't forget. We have to take horrible revenge for the terrorist attack at Mercaz Harav yeshiva," referring to the incident in which eight students were killed earlier this month.

"I'm not talking about individual people in particular, I'm talking about the state," Eliyahu wrote. "[The state] has to pain them to the point where they scream 'Enough,' to the point where they fall flat on their face and scream 'help.' Not for the sake of satisfying the need for revenge but for the purposes of deterrence."

In the newsletter, which was distributed to synagogues around the country, Eliyahu proposes "hanging the children of the terrorist who carried out the attack in the Mercaz Harav yeshiva from a tree."

"Two weeks have passed since the attack and we haven't heard of any retaliatory operations by Israel," the Safed chief rabbi wrote. "Something is amiss among the decision makers at the top. At one time, this was a basic component of Israel's policy. Every operation by the 'fedayeen' - the prior name used to describe terrorists - would bring a painful response. Today, they have forgotten the meaning of 'deterrence force'. The IDF's capacity for deterrence is gone."

The rabbi added that he "already sees all the bleeding hearts clicking their tongues, moving uncomfortably in their chairs, contorting their faces at this display of 'depravity' and beginning to spout their slogans. 'Barbaric.' 'Amoral.' 'Inciter' and the rest of the usual words that are frequently blurted out from their mouths. Don't pay them any mind. With their way of doing things, there won't be a state here in another 30 years. They've already taken the trouble to arrange foreign passports for their children. We'll stay here. We need to live with those who understand very well the language of revenge."......

"This isn't the first time the rabbi from Safed incites against Arabs," a Musawa spokesperson said. "In 2004, Eliyahu gave a radio interview in which he called on homeowners neither to rent out their homes nor sell their homes to Arabs."......"