Saturday, April 12, 2008

Livni heads for Qatar to promote normalized ties with Arab states

"Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was to leave for Qatar Sunday for a two-day visit during which she is scheduled to speak at the opening of the Doha Forum on Democracy, Development and Free Trade.

In her speech, Livni is expected to call on Arab nations to assist in the Israel-Palestinian peace process by promoting "gradual" normalization of ties with Israel, among other things.

The foreign minister is scheduled to meet with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, as well as Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamed bin Jassem al-Thani.......

Foreign ministers from Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain are also expected to attend the Doha conference. Israel does not maintain diplomatic relations with these countries, but it is not yet clear whether Livni will meet with any of the foreign ministers in attendance......"

Arab Loyalty Oath
By Hamed Najeeb

The People: "I pledge to remain loyal to your control of authority; not to object or criticize; only to say yes, sir; may God be my witness!"

Carlos Latuff's Latest: Iraq Veterans Against the War

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Another Defining Moment in Iraq

Ignition Point?


"......Maliki's Dawa Party and his allies in the ISCI, have long been at loggerheads with Muqtada over three major issues.

First, Muqtada is a nationalist and deeply opposed to the U.S. occupation, while Maliki and the ISCI's leader, Abdelaziz al-Hakim, support the presence of U.S. troops as a shield against the nationalists.

Second, Muqtada supports a unified Iraq with a strong central government. Maliki and Hakim, on the other hand, have pushed for dismembering Iraq into separate provinces dominated by the country's three major ethnic groups -Sunnis in the west, Kurds in the north, and Shiites in the south. Since most of the oil reserves are in the south, as is the country's only port, whoever controls the south essentially controls 70 percent of Iraq's economy.

Which leads to the third point of contention, and one closely tied to the first two: Muqtada's followers, along with most of the Sunnis and Iraq's illegal, but still powerful, trade unions want Iraq to keep control of its oil. Maliki, Hakim and the U.S., on the other hand, want to privatize Iraq's enormous oil wealth and open it to exploitation by international oil cartels.

According to Leila Fadel of the McClatchy newspaper chain, when Vice-President Dick Cheney visited Iraq Mar. 17-18, he "strong armed" Iraq's Presidency Council into passing a provincial election law. The law sets up an October election in which the various provinces will vote on whether they want to remain a unified country or splinter into separate provinces.

Cheney also sealed an agreement with Maliki to keep U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely, in spite of the fact that seven out of 10 Iraqis want the occupation to end.

If the U.S. and Maliki and Hakim are to pull off dismembering Iraq and privatizing the oil, they need to win the election in the south. About 20 percent of the Middle East's oil reserves are in Basra Province.

But the Mahdi Army has far more support among the Shiia masses than either the Dawa Party or the ISCI........"

IRAQ: From One Dictator to the Next

A Good analysis which sheds more light on the subject of our heated and long string of comments, yesterday.

Analysis by Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail

"BAGHDAD, Apr 12 (IPS) - Many Iraqis have come to believe that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is just as much a dictator as Saddam Hussein was.

"Al-Maliki is a dictator who must be removed by all means," 35-year-old Abdul-Riza Hussein, a Mehdi Army member from Sadr City in Baghdad told IPS. "He is a worse dictator than Saddam; he has killed in less than two years more than Saddam killed in 10 years."

Following the failed attempt by the U.S.-backed al-Maliki to crack down on the Mehdi Army militia of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the situation in Iraq has become much worse. Iraq appears to be splintering more widely under this rule than under Saddam's.

Fierce fighting has broken out between Sadr's Mehdi Army and Maliki's army and police forces in Baghdad, which comprise mostly the Badr Organisation militia, the armed wing of the political group, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC).

According to statistics compiled by the U.S. military in Baghdad, there has been a sharp increase in attacks against U.S. and Iraqi security forces, from 239 in February to 631 in March. Most of these attacks are believed to have been carried out by the Mehdi Army.

The Mehdi Army is known to have substantial control of the streets of Baghdad, Basra, and many other predominantly Shia areas in southern Iraq.......

Many Iraqis feel caught in a cross-fire in what they see as a battle for power between the Shia factions. "Over a thousand Iraqis got killed and more than that number wounded just for a game of chess between warlords," Mohammad Alwan, a lawyer in Baghdad told IPS. "All of them call for dissolving militias while they keep militias of their own. Most of those in power in the government are militia leaders."

Sadr and his followers are calling for unity, in an attempt to bring as many Iraqis as they can, Sunni and Shia, to their side....

It is widely believed in Iraq that parties who call for unity are using the issue to get public support against federalism, seen to be supported by the U.S. and Iranian backed parties such as the SIIC and Maliki's Dawa Party. Many in Iraq see federalism as the break-up of the country......

Division has broken out also within tribes; many have now come to back Sadr, not because they like him, but because they hate the Badr militia of Hakeem's SIIC and Maliki's Dawa party.

"Our problem in the southern parts of Iraq and other Shia dominated areas is that all options are bad," the chief of a major tribe in Basra who fled for Baghdad, told IPS on condition of anonymity. "Iranian controlled militias killed so many chiefs of tribes because they refused to support these division projects concealed under the flag of federalism."

Several tribes in the south have formed unions to fight the separation project, but some sheikhs have formed counter unions to support the Badr and Dawa agenda.

Most people seem to oppose any federalism that would separate Shia from Sunni Muslims.

"We will be weak without our Sunni brothers," says Shamil Mahmood from Sadr City, the east district of two million in Baghdad. "The whole of the south will be swallowed by Iran, that will humiliate us and treat us like animals." "

Real News Video: Killing of key Al-Sadr aide sparks outrage

"Najaf under curfew as supporters vent anger at police, politicians
Saturday April 12th, 2008"

In Prison, Who Knows Why

By Mohammed Omer in Gaza

"GAZA CITY - You would think the baby boy named Yousef has his life ahead of him. But who knows, with a child born to Palestinian parents from Gaza. What's more, Yousef was born in an Israeli prison.

He is the only one of Fatima al-Zeq's nine children who is with her for that reason -- she was arrested nine months ago. But these days the baby is not with her. He developed stomach pain, began to vomit, and has been transferred to a hospital inside Hasharon prison in Israel.

Fatima has written to human rights organisations in Gaza asking for their help in seeing the baby is looked after, something she cannot do herself.

Her other children do not know why mother is in prison; the Israelis haven't told them, and they haven't told Palestinian authorities. And they declined to tell IPS. If anything, the Israelis say the arrests are for "security reasons".

According to a Palestinian source, she was arrested because Israeli authorities suspected she would carry out an attack in Israel. No explosives were found on her. Another source suggests that she was arrested because she is a relative of an Islamic Jihad leader........

There are a total of 10,400 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. These include 90 women and 328 children below the age of 18, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees. Forty-six of the prisoners are members of parliament, mostly affiliated to Hamas.

Israeli human rights groups say that security forces called Shin Bet regularly torture Palestinians in Israeli jails. The two groups B'Tselem and HaMoked: Centre for Defence of Individuals tracked 73 prisoners between July 2005 and July 2006. They reported that Shin Bet routinely uses "beatings, painful binding, back bending, body stretching and prolonged sleep deprivation" to torture Palestinian prisoners."

Struggling country where bread means life

Fear of unrest grows as soaring wheat prices strain Egypt's creaking economy

Ian Black in Cairo
The Guardian, Saturday April 12 2008

"....Others complain of their pitifully small incomes and shortages. In the last two months 11 people have died in bread queues, either from exhaustion, heart attacks, brawls or accidents.

"We are so badly off now we have to eat dogs and donkeys," shouts another middle-aged woman to raucous laughter from the jostling crowd. It sounds like an outlandish joke, but a butcher was prosecuted recently for selling adulterated spiced mincemeat in nearby Giza.

It looked as if this simmering crisis could trigger wider unrest. Last week, four people were killed and scores more injured and arrested in rioting in Mahalla, an industrial town in the Nile Delta, while a general strike left the normally teeming centre of Cairo eerily quiet. "The strike is against poverty and starvation," demonstrators shouted......

In Egyptian Arabic the word for bread is aish - life - and getting enough of it is a truly existential issue. "The word is pregnant with meaning," says the left-wing thinker Mohammed Sayyid Said. "It's the basic component of life."......

.....The UN defines Egypt as a middle-income country. But very little of this wealth is trickling down to the poor.

"Poverty in itself does not hurt," says Abdel-Wahhab al-Massiri, of the opposition Kefaya movement. "What hurts is the inequality in a country where 20 million people live in slums and you have some of the best golf courses in the world."......

The official line is that the crisis is manageable and that media coverage is exaggerated, especially on al-Jazeera TV. Analysts believe the unrest has rattled the government but can be contained, not least because the opposition is so divided. Its most powerful component, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which was excluded from this week's local elections, did not back the strike, sitting on the fence for fear of being provocative. "There are plenty of carrots and plenty of sticks," says one diplomat. "It's still early in the game."

It is hard to predict how events will unfold. Fifty Kefaya members were detained without charge by state security officers after the strike, but "Facebook activists" - a new breed of young middle-class Egyptian protesters - have called for a new strike on May 4, Mubarak's 80th birthday, chosen as a reminder of how long he has been in power......."

Al-Jazeera Video: Interview With Egyptian Exiled Activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim - 11April08

Friday, April 11, 2008

Digging for Trouble

The Politics of Archaeology in East Jerusalem


" Archaeology has become a weapon of dispossession," Yonathan Mizrachi, an Israeli archaeologist, said in a recent telephone interview with us. He was referring to the way archaeology is being used in Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood in the oldest part of Jerusalem, where, we believe, archaeological digs are being carried out as part of a concerted campaign to expel Palestinians from their ancestral home.

That effort is orchestrated by an Israeli settler organization called Elad, a name formed from Hebrew letters that stand for "to the City of David." For several years, Elad has used a variety of means to evict East Jerusalem Palestinians from their homes and replace them with Jewish settlers. Today Silwan is dotted with about a dozen such outposts. Moreover, practically all the green areas in the densely populated neighborhood have been transformed into new archaeological sites, which have then been fenced and posted with armed guards. On two of these new archaeological sites, Jewish homes have already been built........"

Kandil accuses Egypt of participating in the siege on Gaza

"CAIRO, [PIC]-- Egyptian political activist Abdul Haleem Kandil has accused the government of his country of participating in the Israeli siege on Gaza, asserting that the tight Egyptian security measures at the Rafah crossing point substantiates his charges.

In an interview with the Quds Press, Kandil, who is also a leader of the opposition Kefaya (enough) Movement, underlined, "This one form of the Egyptian government's connivance with Israel against the Palestinian people in Gaza".

"To my regret, the Egyptian stand over what is happening at the Rafah crossing point is attached to the American and Israeli stand as we could only find the Israeli occupation forces and the Egyptian security forces that besiege Gaza Strip, which per se unveils the nature of the Egyptian regime that exports gas and oil to Israel that enhances Israel's capabilities in committing crimes against the Palestinian people, thus, making the Egyptian hand stained with Palestinian blood", Kandil furthermore asserted.

He also accused the Egyptian regime of besieging the Egyptian city of Al-Mahalla in the same it besieges Gaza strip, explaining that the Egyptian regime grants Israeli settlers an entry visa of two weeks to the Sinai Peninsula while Palestinian citizens are denied entry into Egypt even if they have valid Visas.

But he made it clear that the Egyptian official stand doesn’t reflect the real stand of the Egyptian people who are 100%b behind the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom.

The real Egyptian stand appears during critical times similar to the IOF bloody holocaust in Gaza Strip few weeks ago.

Moreover, the Egyptian activist, who is also a journalist, lashed out at the official newspaper in Egypt, describing those newspapers as mouthpieces of the government.

"Those news paper are separated form the Egyptian public sense, and they are directly connected to the security apparatuses, and thus, they don’t deserve to be called newspapers… they are security men carrying out security missions", the Egyptian activist said of the official newspaper in Egypt."


Analysis by Jim Lobe

"......That conflict is likely to become much more intense -- and violent -- with the approach of regional elections in October, according to Iraq specialists here, making it even less likely that Washington will withdraw more troops before Bush leaves office.

"It's abundantly clear that President Bush is simply trying to 'run out the clock' and hand off the mess to the next president," observed Sen. Edward Kennedy.

As grim -- and as widely accepted -- as that conclusion appeared to be by the end of the week, some observers noted that the administration's focus on Iran and its "nefarious" role in Iraq raised anew the spectre of a much larger "mess" that Bush might yet leave to his successor.

Speculation that Bush might yet attack Iran before the end of his term, which had been mostly silenced after the publication last December of the intelligence community's assessment that Iran had suspended a key part of a nuclear-weapons programme in 2003, was raised anew this week by the Petraeus/Crocker testimony and Bush's equation of the threats posed by al Qaeda and Iran.

In addition, Vice President Dick Cheney, the leader of the administration's Iran hawks, came out of his usual seclusion this week to describe President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an interview this week as "a very dangerous man... who believes... that the highest honour that can befall a man is that he should die a martyr in facilitating the return of the 12th imam."

Ahmadinejad has repeatedly threatened to "destroy Israel", he noted, adding that the deterrence strategy used by Washington against Moscow would not work with Tehran. "Mutual assured destruction with Ahmadinejad is an incentive," he said. "You have to be concerned about that." "

Basra Battles: Barely Half the Story

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"......Al-Hakim is pushing for what is being termed a super Shia province with its centre in Basra; Sadr is demanding a unified Iraq with a strong central government. Al-Hakim wishes to see a permanent American presence in the country; Sadr insists on a short timetable for withdrawal. The US's major quandary is that Sadr reflects the views of most Iraqis. His possible victory in the south in fair elections could position him as the new nationalist leader, and a unifying force for Iraqis.......

Naturally, skewed reporting leads to slanted conclusions. No, the lesson learnt is not that the Iraqi army requires more training and funds, which would necessitate the US and other forces to prolong their stay in the country. It is rather that the tide has turned so fast in Iraq, whereby the new enemy is now largely Shia, and one which envisions a unified and free Iraq which controls its own resources; that Iran's influence in Iraq has morphed to the point of guaranteeing a win-win situation, while the US is playing with a lot fewer cards; that US firepower has proven less effective than ever, and that the upcoming elections could create a nightmare scenario whose consequences could remove the sectarian label from Iraqi violence and replace it with a nationalist one.

Reporters can be quisling, incompetent and parrots of official accounts. Regardless, no matter how they wish to term it, the battle of Basra is likely to change the nature of the US fight in Iraq for years to come. "

A Paradigm Shift: How Hizbollah Won the War

By M. Shahid Alam
Palestine Chronicle

"........The Israeli military offensive of July 2006 had failed because Israel was fighting a war that did not play to its advantages in size and technology. Israel had finally met its match – a foe that was prepared to fight, that knew how to fight on its own terms, a foe that was elusive and cunning, skilled and daring, ready to adapt its methods to neutralize Israel's technical superiority, that controlled its terrain, and, most importantly, was backed by Iran and Syria. For the first time in its history, an Israeli invasion had been reversed by a cunning guerilla resistance.

In the past, Arab armies had handed easy victories to Israel. Repeatedly, the Arab states chose to fight conventional wars: these backward, recently decolonized countries sent their poorly trained, poorly led, poorly motivated military to fight against the best, most determined military force the developed West could put together. Israel's victories against the Arab armies is overrated: it always remained an unequal match. The Palestinians chose to fight a guerilla war in Jordan in the late 1960s, but they did so prematurely, without preparing the political conditions for their success. They were defeated because they were forced to fight on two fronts: against Arab enemy states and the Israelis.

The Israelis only deceive themselves when they use alibis – bad decisions or inadequate preparation – to ‘explain’ their military failures. Ever since their withdrawal from southern Lebanon in April 2000, the Israeli leadership had prepared for the occasion to deal a knockout blow to Hizbollah. Indeed, when the Israelis launched their latest invasion of Lebanon on July 12, 2006, they had had more than six years to prepare; and they had had more than two decades to study their adversary.

The Hizbollah too had prepared. Without fanfare, but with dedication, discipline, skill, and cunning, the Hizbollah leaders assembled an arsenal of low-tech rockets as well as more advanced missiles; they built secret bunkers; they laid out defensible communications; they acquired capabilities in electronic warfare; they used drones and eaves-dropping equipment to gather information; they placed spies inside Israel; they studied their enemy; and, most importantly, they had planned and trained, while maintaining the highest secrecy.[3] In a word, the small bands of Arab guerillas in southern Lebanon were prepared and ready.....

In the late nineteenth century, the advanced Western nations had opened a lethal weapons gap with their automatic weapons: this gave them a quick, nearly costless colonization of Africa and Southeast Asia. When that gap began to close in the interwar period, it gave an impetus to resistance movements in Indonesia, Vietnam, Kenya and Algeria.[15] Already weakened from fighting their own fratricidal wars, the Western colonial powers retreated: and the Third World was born.

Will the twenty-first century herald the dawn of another era of gains for movements of resistance across Asia, Africa and Latin America? "

Israel in Colombia: Death Do We Impart

By José Steinsleger
Source: La Jornada

"Military links between Israel and Colombia date back to the first five years of 1980 when a contingent of the Colombia battalion "... one of the worst violators of human rights in the western hemisphere, received training in the Sinai desert from some of the worst violators of human rights in Middle East," according to the U.S. investigator Jeremy Bigwood (who) observed that the training of young Colombian paramilitaries could not have been done without the express permission of the highest authorities of the Israeli defence forces......

......The official presence in Colombia of Israel Ziv, retired IDF general, represents a qualitative leap in the war plans of Uribe and his Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos. Engaged for the moderate sum of $10 million, Ziv could well have collaborated in the attack against FARC in Ecuadorian territory. His experience gives him away: in October 2002, as head of the Givati Brigade, Ziv invaded the refugee camp of Al Amal (Gaza). Infantry troops, tanks and armoured vehicles caused a massacre in which the old, the disabled, women, children and babies died.

General Ziv is on the payroll of Counterterrorism International and is member of the Task Force on Future Terrorism (FOTFF), created in June 2005 by the Office of Homeland Security of — Israel? No, of the USA. FOTFF operates under the orders of Secretary Michael Chertoff and Lee Hamilton, director of the ultra-conservative Woodrow Wilson Centre, nest of academics, psychologists, businessmen and ‘intelligence' experts.

In Colombia, Ziv's operations base is in Tolemaida. He meddles at the highest level. The Defence Vice Minister Sergio Jaramillo described as "precious" the Israeli help. "They are like psychoanalysts to us: they raise issues we had not thought about."

What will they be?"

Real News Video: US airstrikes pound Sadr City

Death toll mounts as US, Iraqi troops fight Mahdi Army
Friday April 11th, 2008

Real News Video: Ex-CIA analyst on Petraeus and Cheney

Ray McGovern: Was Cheney behind Iraqi army's failed Basra offensive?
Friday April 11th, 2008

"Raymond McGovern is a retired CIA officer turned political activist. McGovern was a Federal employee under seven U.S. presidents over 27 years, presenting the morning intelligence briefings at the White House for many of them. McGovern was born and raised in the Bronx, graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University, received an M.A. in Russian Studies from Fordham, a certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University, and graduated from Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program."

Barack Obama’s Hebrew blog

"Democratic presidential candidate launches Hebrew blog, plans visit to Israel in order to court Jewish US vote...."

Petraeus Points to War With Iran

by Patrick J. Buchanan

"The neocons may yet get their war on Iran.

Ever since President Nouri al-Maliki ordered the attacks in Basra on the Mahdi Army, Gen. David Petraeus has been laying the predicate for U.S. air strikes on Iran and a wider war in the Middle East.

Iran, Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee, has "fueled the recent violence in a particularly damaging way through its lethal support of the special groups."

These "special groups" are "funded, trained, armed and directed by Iran's Quds Force with help from Lebanese Hezbollah. It was these groups that launched Iranian rockets and mortar rounds at Iraq's seat of government (the Green Zone) ... causing loss of innocent life and fear in the capital."

Is the Iranian government aware of this – and behind it?

"President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders" promised to end their "support for the special groups," said the general, but the "nefarious activities of the Quds force have continued."

Are Iranians then murdering Americans, asked Joe Lieberman......

With a friendly regime in Baghdad that rolled out the red carpet for Ahmadinejad, Iran has nothing to gain by war. Already, it is the big winner from the U.S. wars that took down Tehran's Taliban enemies, decimated its al-Qaeda enemies and destroyed its Sunni enemies, Saddam and his Baath Party.

No, it is not Iran that wants a war with the United States. It is the United States that has reasons to want a short, sharp war with Iran."

Warlord: The rise of Muqtada al-Sadr

How did a small-time cleric from the outskirts of Baghdad become the most influential figure in the power struggle shaping post-war Iraq? In his acclaimed new book, our correspondent Patrick Cockburn chronicles the events that propelled Muqtada al-Sadr to centre stage
The Independent

"......Another development deeply alarmed the CPA and the US military commanders: co-operation was growing between Shia fighters in Najaf and Sunni fighters in Fallujah. Military supplies came to the beleaguered Mehdi Army men from Fallujah through Karbala. "Fighters came from Fallujah though there were not many and it was towards the end of battle," says Ali Ahmed. "They were useful because they had also fought the Americans and were experienced in street fighting tactics."

The co-operation was brief, but was an important motive for the US to bring the crisis in Najaf to an end. Losses among his men were heavy, but Muqtada al-Sadr had emerged the winner because he had challenged the US-led occupation, held off their greatly superior army for weeks, and survived without making concessions that would weaken him permanently."

Video: Unrecognised and unwanted?

Video The rights of the Negev desert's Bedouin community seem to count for little, despite the fact that they are Israeli citizens

By Seth Freedman
The Guardian

" The last time I wrote about the Negev desert's Bedouin community, I was seriously guilty of not seeing the wood for the trees. While I still think that the way in which the Bedouin "see the light but prefer to wallow in the darkness" is counterproductive to say the least, the fact is they are done a massive disservice by the heavy-handed treatment meted out to them by the state - which is what I should have focused on.

As Human Rights Watch say in their latest report on the situation, the Bedouin are victims of widespread government discrimination. The state refuses to recognise their claims to the land (sounds familiar, I know, but what's worse is the Bedouin are fully-fledged Israeli citizens, yet still don't count for much in the eyes of the authorities), their houses are demolished on a regular basis, and their most basic human rights trampled upon. That those in power refuse to do anything to rectify the Bedouin's plight is yet another stain on an already pretty filthy track record. "

International Accountability

By Steve Bell, The Guardian

Reflections on the Palestine return movement

Muhammad Jaradat, The Electronic Intifada, 11 April 2008
(Muhammad Jaradat is the Coordinator of the Campaign Unit of Badil)

"......Later on, when the text of the agreement was opened to the public, the Israeli press was the first to publish. I ran to the Israeli Press Office in West Jerusalem to get a copy -- it was published then only in Hebrew and English. Reading the original English copy, I was not only shocked but also deeply alarmed and upset, because I had expected that the PLO leadership would not surrender and, at the minimum, uphold the fundamental national rights and base any agreement on UN resolutions and international law. Reading the agreement, I searched for references to the core issue of the conflict, i.e. the refugee issue, and found it mentioned only in a few words as an issue scheduled "for discussion in the final status negotiations." I thus understood that there were no guarantees or principles recognized for dealing with this most central issue of the conflict, and that the future of the large majority of the Palestinian people who are refugees was uncertain......

The Palestine Return Movement has succeeded in revitalizing the Palestinian consensus about the centrality of the right to return for the future of the Palestinian people and peace in the region. This consensus is expressed in similar language by a large majority of the Palestinian public, organized civil society and the media, as well as in public statements of the Palestinian leadership. Understanding and support of this Palestinian consensus, as well as the need for a solution of the Palestinian refugee issue in accordance with international law, have increased considerably also among the global solidarity movement and a small but important minority of Jews in Israel......"

On Which Planet Does This Man Live? Few Days Ago Hamas Accused Egypt of Torturing Palestinians in its Jails! The Pharaoh is Starving Gaza's Ghetto...

Haneyya: Strategic relationship with Egypt bigger than differences

"GAZA, [PIC]-- The legitimate prime minister of the PA government Ismael Haneyya has affirmed on Thursday that the Palestinian-Egyptian relationship was and still strategic and brotherly, and couldn’t be affected with small differences in opinions.

The prime minister also hailed Egypt's role in defending the Palestinian issue against the Israeli plans to liquidate it, adding that Egypt was playing significant role in a number of hot files in the Palestinian arena, including the file of truce, the file of swapping of prisoners with the Israeli occupation government, and the file of national reconciliation.

"Some differences that could arise while discussing the details were similar to the differences inside the one home and inside the one family, and thus, they won't affect the deep relationship between the Palestinian and the Egyptian peoples who share the same destiny", asserted Haneyya in a press statement he issued in Gaza and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC.

However, Haneyya highlighted the plight of the Gaza Strip as a result of the crushing Israeli economic embargo imposed on it since one year, asserting that the blockade created "unprecedented human crises" in the Strip.

Nevertheless, Haneyya expressed hope that Egypt will exploit its position in the regional and international arenas to work for ending the embargo, and to open the vital Rafah crossing point which is under Egypt's control in order to bail the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip out of the "big Israeli jail", affirming that his government was very much concerned in bringing the Egyptian efforts in this regard to full success.

Yet, Haneyya accused "certain parties" of attempting to poison and mar his government's good relationship with Egypt, describing Hamas's relationship with Egypt as "solid, transparent, and firm".

He also underscored that the daily contacts between his government and Egypt regarding a number of issues aim at alleviating the suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza were continuing. "


Does this man still belong to Hamas? If so, when Hamas speaks with many conflicting and confused voices it adds to the confusion of the Palestinian message and strengthens the Pharaoh when he is under siege by his own people.

I know that this man is trying (as always) to act and sound "presidential"; but is this the time for "presidential" doublespeak??

Genocide announced

Bombs would fall under other circumstances, but when influential rabbis call for the total annihilation of the Palestinians the world watches without blinking

By Saleh Al-Naami
Al-Ahram Weekly

""All of the Palestinians must be killed; men, women, infants, and even their beasts." This was the religious opinion issued one week ago by Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, director of the Tsomet Institute, a long-established religious institute attended by students and soldiers in the Israeli settlements of the West Bank. In an article published by numerous religious Israeli newspapers two weeks ago and run by the liberal Haaretz on 26 March, Rosen asserted that there is evidence in the Torah to justify this stand. Rosen, an authority able to issue religious opinions for Jews, wrote that Palestinians are like the nation of Amalekites that attacked the Israelite tribes on their way to Jerusalem after they had fled from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. He wrote that the Lord sent down in the Torah a ruling that allowed the Jews to kill the Amalekites, and that this ruling is known in Jewish jurisprudence.......

Palestinian writer and researcher Abdul-Hakim Mufid, from the city Um Fahem, holds that the religious opinions of rabbis have gained major significance due to the harmony between official rhetoric and that of the rabbis. Mufid notes that official Israeli establishments have not tried to confront the "fascist" rhetoric expressed in these religious opinions even though they are capable of doing so. "Most of the rabbis who issue tyrannical religious opinions are official employees in state institutions and receive salaries from them. And the state has not held these rabbis accountable or sought to prohibit the issue of such opinions," he told the Weekly.

Mufid points out that when the official political institution is in a crisis, the Zionist consensus behind these religious opinions grows more intense, and offers as an example the religious opinions relied upon by Rabbi Meir Kahane in the early 1980s to justify his call to forcefully expel the Palestinians. Mufid adds that Israel in practice encourages all those who kill Palestinians, and points to the way that the Israeli government dealt with the recommendations of the Orr Commission that investigated the Israeli police's killing of 13 Palestinians with Israeli citizenship in October of 2000. The government closed the file even though the commission confirmed that the police had acted aggressively towards the Palestinian citizens. Mufid suggests that what makes the racist rhetoric the rabbis insist upon influential is the silence of leftist and liberal voices, and the lack of any direct mobilisation against it."

More hopeless talks

By Khaled Amayreh in Occupied Ramallah
Al-Ahram Weekly

".....According to Israeli press sources, the two leaders were updated on "secret talks" being held by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei on final status issues such as Jerusalem, the right of return, Jewish settlements and the borders of a prospective Palestinian entity in the West Bank.

During the meeting, which lasted for three hours, Olmert and Abbas agreed to hold biweekly meetings and keep up the "secret talks channel" in the hope of reaching a peace agreement before the end of 2008......

Prior to the latest Abbas-Olmert meeting, Israeli Foreign Minister Livni, who also participated in the meeting, said Israel had a number of "red lines" which she would cross under no circumstances. Israeli Army Radio, GaleTzahal, quoted Livni as saying that she hoped the international community understood that Israel wouldn't compromise on Jerusalem, the refugees and borders.

Hamas lambasted the latest encounter between Abbas and Olmert, calling it "a cover for further Judaising of Jerusalem and expansion of settlements". Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas's chief spokesman in the Gaza Strip, said: "It is lamentable indeed that Abbas has agreed to meet with this war criminal whose government oversaw the recent genocidal onslaught against the children of Gaza."......"

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Video: Deir Yassin Remembered

"Early in the morning of April 9, 1948, commandos of the Irgun (headed by Menachem Begin) and the Stern Gang attacked Deir Yassin, a village with about 750 Palestinian residents. The village lay outside of the area to be assigned by the United Nations to the Jewish State; it had a peaceful reputation. But it was located on high ground in the corridor between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Deir Yassin was slated for occupation under Plan Dalet and the mainstream Jewish defense force, the Haganah, authorized the irregular terrorist forces of the Irgun and the Stern Gang to perform the takeover.

In all over 100 men, women, and children were systematically murdered. Fifty-three orphaned children were literally dumped along the wall of the Old City, where they were found by Miss Hind Husseini and brought behind the American Colony Hotel to her home, which was to become the Dar El-Tifl El-Arabi orphanage. Visit"

تدريب شرطة عباس وقوات بدر في الأردن .. الأهداف والمصير (تقرير)

"عمّان – المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

في الوقت الذي تتضارب فيه الأنباء حول مصير قوات بدر التابعة لمنظمة التحرير الفلسطينية والموجودة في الأردن، يثور جدل حول حقيقة الموقف حيال هذه المسألة، لا سيما وأنها تأتي بالتزامن مع المعلومات المؤكدة عن التدريب الذي تتلقاه قوات فلسطينية تابعة لرئيس السلطة محمود عباس على أيدي مدربين أمريكيين في معسكرات موجودة في الأردن أيضاً.

مسألة تدريب قوات عربية في الأردن لم تعد أمراً سرياً، إذ من المعروف أن قوات عربية عدة تتدرب في معسكرات أردنية بإشراف أمريكي، من بينها قوات فلسطينية ولبنانية وعراقية، ولم يعد سراً أن الجنرال الأمريكي كيث دايتون قام بزيارة قوات بدر الموجودة في الأردن، كما تسربت معلومات عن قيام "وزير" الداخلية في سلطة رام الله عبد الرزاق اليحيى بزيارة هذه القوات آخر الشهر الماضي.

مجرد تدريبات روتينية!

وفي حين يؤكد مراقبون أن قوات بدر يتم إعدادها حالياً بإشراف أمريكي لمساندة السلطة وحركة "فتح" في الضفة بعد عملية الحسم العسكري لحركة "حماس" في غزة، ينفي مسؤولي هذه القوات هذه الأنباء، مؤكدين في الوقت ذاته أن قواتهم تتلقى تدريبات وصفوها بـ "الروتينية داخل المعسكرات".

ونقلت صحيفة "الغد" الأردنية اليومية الأربعاء (9/4) عن مصدر بجيش التحرير الفلسطيني في العاصمة عمان قوله حول هذه الأنباء: "لم تصدر حتى الآن أي تعليمات رسمية بشأن دخول قوات بدر المتواجدة في الأردن إلى الأراضي المحتلة، وأضاف المصدر أنه "م ترد حتى الآن أي معلومات جديدة تتعلق بتجهيز عناصر من قوات بدر لدخولها الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة".

الفكرة لا زالت قائمة

وفي هذا السياق؛ تحدث الكاتب والمحلل السياسي الأردني إبراهيم ناجي علّوش لـ "المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام" منتقداً الدور الأردني في هذا المجال، منوهاً في الوقت ذاته على أن فكرة إرسال قوات فلسطينية إلى الضفة من الأردن لا زالت قائمة.

ويقول علّوش الناشط في مجال مجابهة الصهيونية والتطبيع إن: "الحديث عن إدخال قوات بدر للضفة، وعن دور أمني أردني في الضفة، حديث قديم، وقد تصاعد بعد الانتفاضة الثانية كما نعلم، ولكن ردة الفعل السلبية في الشارع لمثل هذا الدور، في الأردن وفي الضفة، ربما تكون قد أجلته مرحلياً، مع العلم أن الفكرة قائمة ومتداولة في الدوائر الغربية والصهيونية، خاصة بعد تكسير أجنحة السلطة الفلسطينية في الضفة عام 2002".

وعن موقف السياسة الأردنية حيال الوضع الفلسطيني؛ يرى علّوش أنها تقوم على "دعم السلطة الفلسطينية سياسياً وأمنياً، وقد تجلى ذلك بالأسلحة التي تم نقلها بالأردن للسلطة الفلسطينية، وبالتالي يأتي تدريب قوات الشرطة الفلسطينية ضمن هذا السياق".

ويتابع: "سياق يرتبط أولاً بتحالف الأردن الرسمي مع الطرف الأمريكي- الصهيوني، ويرتبط ثانياً بنهج محاربة خط المقاومة من قبل الأنظمة العربية، كما يرتبط بخوف الأردن الرسمي من سيطرة قوى المقاومة على الضفة بعد تطهير غزة من العصابات الموالية للعدو الصهيوني".

ويربط علّوش بين موقف السياسة الأردنية من السلطة والموقف من قوى المعارضة لديها وعلى رأسها الحركة الإسلامية، حيث يقول: "لا يمكن أن نفصل هذا الموقف المتحالف مع السلطة الفلسطينية عن الإجراءات القمعية لمصادرة الدور السياسي للحركة الإسلامية في الأردن ولشطب شخصياتها الأكثر دعماً للمقاومة في فلسطين".

ويختم حديثه بالإشارة إلى أن "مثل هذه الخطوات لا تدعم الوحدة الوطنية داخل الأردن ولا حتى داخل فلسطين"، مضيفاً: "كما أنها قصيرة النظر لأن الرهان الرسمي الأردني هنا على طرف يستمد نفوذه فقط من الطرف الأمريكي-الصهيوني، لا يمكن أن يستتب الأمر له على المدى البعيد".

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you support the Egyptian authorities' measures to prevent the Palestinians from re-storming the wall at Rafah?

With about 500 responding so far (it is early), 85% said no.

Remembering What NOT Many of We the People Ever Knew about 'Never Forget,' Deir Yassin, 9/11 and Israel Too

By Eileen Fleming

"Deir Yassin was once a peaceful Palestinian village on the west side of Jerusalem. On April 9, 1948 the lives of over 100 innocent men, women, and children ended by the hand of Jewish terrorists from the Irgun and the Stern Gang.

Deir Yassin is 1,400 meters to the north of Yad Vashem, the most famous Holocaust memorial, where the world is taught to "Never Forget."

Might the world also remember that on May 15, 1948, the British left Palestine and the Israeli military force consisted of three independent groups: "The larger one was the Hagana. Within the Hagana there was a strike force known as the Palmah. Outside Hagana there were two more independent smaller forces. The bigger of the two was Etzel, which was the underground terrorist organization of the opposition party led by Menahem Begin, and the smaller one was Lehi, known also as the Stern Gang, a splinter group which separated from the Etzel a few years previously." [1].....

Thinking people comprehend that all governments lie, that politicians get addicted to gaining and keeping power and that religion has been misused for eons.

Shortly after my first of five trips to occupied Palestine, in 2005, a USA Episcopal priest and I exchanged a few emails before he left America to work with Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem Holocaust memorial, where the world is taught to "Never Forget."

I wrote to the priest about my concern that the fastest growing cult in the U.S.A. is the cult of Christian Zionism and that approximately 25 million U.S. Christians choose the simple answers of fundamentalism rather than struggle with a God of justice, mercy and compassion......

I admonished that priest to consider how American Christians blind allegiance to every act of Israel as being orchestrated by God and therefore is to be condoned, supported, and even praised, should instead compel all people of integrity and good will to instead question and challenge the true motives of Christians who actually relish the idea of Armageddon-and who love to speculate on who gets left behind on Judgment Day.

After three email exchanges, I never heard from that priest again, but a parishioner of his from his Central Florida church wrote me that he had moved to Jerusalem and was now working at Yad Vashem.

Jesus' other name is The Prince of Peace, and he was very clear that on the final day, there will be a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth by those who were so sure they were in, because they get left out.

If only the self-righteous and militant minded amongst us could remember what they have never even known and seek to do what Jesus promised; be peacemakers, for the peacemakers shall be called the children of God."

The Pharaoh Ehud Mubarak is Doing His Best to Starve the Palestinians: Egypt bars commercial trucks from Rafah

(Cartoon by Khalil Bendib)

"Egypt barred large trucks from taking goods into the Sinai border town of Rafah on Thursday to remove any economic incentive for Palestinians to breach the Gaza-Egypt frontier, security sources said.

Egypt sent 1,200 security forces to Sinai from Cairo on Wednesday to reinforce the border following remarks by a leader of the Islamist movement Hamas that the border, which militants blasted open in January, could soon be breached again.

Police turned back goods-laden large trucks at checkpoints on main roads leading to Rafah and the nearby town of el-Arish, but smaller trucks and those not carrying loads were still being allowed through, the sources said.

They said the focus was on vehicles carrying food products, fuel and motorcycles - items that Palestinians bought in large quantities during the last border breach.

January's breach defied an Israeli blockade on Gaza. It allowed hundreds of thousands of Gazans to stream across the frontier at Rafah to stock up on food and fuel for 10 days before the border was re-sealed........"

Saudi bribery probe decision overturned

"The Serious Fraud Office's decision to drop its investigation into alleged bribery and corruption involving arms deals between BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia was overturned by the High Court today.

The ruling was an extraordinary victory for anti-bribery pressure group Corner House Research and the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation arose out of BAE's £43 billion Al-Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia in 1985, which provided Tornado and Hawk jets plus other military equipment.

In December 2006, the then attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, announced that the investigation into the arms company was to be discontinued.

Tony Blair, prime minister at the time, said that the Saudis had privately threatened to cut intelligence co-operation with Britain unless the inquiry was stopped.......

It is understood that the most likely course will be that the SFO will have to reconsider its decision.

Documents released to the court alleged that threats had been made by the Saudis to make it easier for terrorists to attack London by holding back security information.

The judges heard investigators were told there could be "another 7/7" with the loss of "British lives on British streets".

Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council and son of the crown prince, was alleged to be behind the threats.

He has been the subject of accusations that he took more than £1bn in secret payments from BAE........"

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)
By Tom Toles

By Mike Luckovich

Real News Video: Why blame Iran?

Aijaz Ahmad on the Petraeus hearings and why the neo-cons target Iran

Thursday April 10th, 2008

Israeli calls for killing Hamas leaders heighten after Nahal Oz operation

"RAMALLAH, (GAZA)-- Israeli calls for eliminating the Hamas Movement and its leaders in Gaza heightened after the Palestinian resistance killed Tuesday an Israel officer and two soldiers, and wounded five others in the Nahal Oz crossing, east of the Gaza city.

Extremist Knesset MP Ivy Itam called for assassinating premier Ismail Haneyya, overthrowing his government and eliminating the Palestinian resistance; whereas, Israeli minister Gideon Ezra called for stop supplying Gaza power station with fuel.

For her part, Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni held Hamas fully responsible for the operation at the pretext that Gaza is under the Movement's control.

Otniel Schneller, another Knesset MP, called for targeting all leaders of Palestinian factions in Gaza regardless of their affiliations and for establishing a buffer zone inside Gaza lands along the border fence."

Fayyad's government slams Nahal Oz operation

"RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The unconstitutional government of Fayyad in Ramallah, which has strong relations with the Israeli government, condemned the heroic Nahal Oz operation carried out Wednesday by the Palestinian resistance and resulted in the death of one Israeli officer, two soldiers, and the injury of many others.

"While efforts being made to reach calm and end the issue of Gaza crossings which could alleviate the suffering of our people in the Strip, some parties deliberately give [Israelis] pretexts for the closure of crossings and depriving Gaza citizens from fuel supplies," an official source in the Fayyad government said.

The Israeli occupation had been imposing a suffocating siege on Gaza for more than ten months and closing crossings before such operations were carried out.

Israeli political sources said Wednesday that Hamas would pay dearly for the operation carried out by Palestinian resistance fighters in the Nahal Oz crossing, east of the Gaza city, alleging that such operations are carried out with Hamas approval......."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Healing Israel’s Birth Scar

By Tony Karon

"With the 60th anniversary of Israel’s birth — and of the Palestinian Nakbah (catastrophe) — which are, of course the same event, almost upon us, I was reminded this week that April 9 was also the 60th anniversary of an event that has long epitomized the connection between the creation of an ethnic-majority Jewish state and the man-made catastrophe suffered by the Palestinian Arabs. That would be the massacre at Deir Yassein, a small village near Jerusalem where fighters of the Irgun, led by Menahem Begin, massacred up to 250 Palestinian civilians — in what later emerged as a calculated campaign of “ethnic cleansing,” using violence and the threat of violence to drive Palestinians to flee their homes and land, which were then summarily appropriated by the new state of Israel, which passed legislation forbidding the Palestinian owners from returning to their property. It was the events of 1948 that created the Palestinian refugee problem, and set the terms of a conflict that continues to define the State of Israel six decades later. No resolution of the conflict is possible without understanding the events of 1948 — something that precious few mainstream U.S. politicians do. The irony is that Israelis are far more likely to be familiar with the uglier side of their victory in 1948 than are their most enthusiastic supporters on these shores......"

War and the "New Middle East": US Coalition Building and the Arab League

A Very Good Piece
by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Global Research, April 9, 2008

"In the collective memory of many inside and outside the Arab World, the summits of the Arab League have a tradition of inconsistency and contradiction. They symbolize the dysfunction that has plagued the Arab World since the First World War. The pageantry and speeches of Arab League conferences are scorned by the citizens of Arab League members as hollow, empty, and as the pinnacles of hypocrisy.

Here is an important look back at three summits of the Arab League held in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria in 2003, 2007, and 2008. The importance of these Arab League summits are in their roles in paving the political grounds for U.S. war plans in the Middle East.

It is in the context of the Arab summits of 2003 and 2007 and the U.S. desire to categorize the Middle East into two opposing camps, one of so-called “moderates” and the other of so-called “radicals” or “extremists,” that the 2008 Arab League gathering in Syria must be analyzed. A review of the Arab League gatherings of 2003, 2007, and 2008 will also give a glimpse of the involvement of Arab governments in American war plans in the Middle East from Iraq to Lebanon and beyond.......

The road of the historical conflict for control over the Middle East does not end in Damascus it goes through Damascus, as it did through Baghdad, for the Arabs and all the other peoples of the Middle East, including the Iranians and the Turks. Damascus has merely served to further expose the political dividing lines that exist in the region. This political divide and the alliance system that it accentuates, which is also solidifying, in the Middle East have striking similarities to the political process and the alliance systems that were in place in Europe on the eve of the First World War. The most important question in regards to this process is where are these divisions taking the Middle East? Is war the final objective or is something else? Even if the objectives of this process are understood the sentiments of the public in the Middle East are united, with some variations, from Iran and Turkey to Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia — and this in itself is a genuine challenge to imposing the Project for the “New Middle East.”"

Evil Iran, the new al-Qaeda

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

".....As for the bread-and-butter daily horror in Iraq, nothing will change. No significant "troop withdrawals in the months ahead", and no "political timeline". But then Lieberman-Graham soar to unparalleled brotherhood heights when they write that "thanks to the surge, Iraq today is looking increasingly like Osama bin Laden's worst nightmare: an Arab country, in the heart of the Middle East, in which hundreds of thousands of Muslims - both Sunni and Shi'ite - are rising up and fighting, shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers, against al-Qaeda and its hateful ideology".

Bin Laden is patient - he knows the occupation itself will continue to be a magnet to thousands of aspiring jihadis. Sunni Arab guerrillas have learned to be patient; they'd rather breathe now, paid by US cash, and then relaunch their offensive, at the right time, to recapture Baghdad. As for those "hundreds of thousands of Muslims" - in fact millions - their main battle cry is not al-Qaeda, but rather "Occupation out", as in the Million Man March called by Muqtada al-Sadr for this Wednesday in Baghdad and then canceled.

Why the abrupt cancelation? Because the immense Sadr City slum, as well as other Sadrist bases, have been totally encircled by Maliki's and Petraeus' "surge" troops. In a press conference at Firdous Square - where exactly five years ago today the marines staged the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein, with the help of a few Baghdad locals - Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Obaidi said Muqtada would not risk the safety of his millions of supporters.

Asia Times Online sources confirm Iraqi "security" - in fact Badr Organization commandos - have been detaining every single young Shi'ite male from 15 to 35 and preventing them from entering the city center. This is also what the "surge" is about - massive popular repression, although no one will hear it from Lieberman-Graham.

The war on Iraq ended five years ago today. No: the war on Iraq actually started five years ago today. For those who still live under the spell of a Bush "we create our own reality" administration, the Lieberman-Graham piece is soothing. For McCain supporters, it's confirmation of the road map ahead - The Hundred Year War plus "bomb, bomb, Iran". As for the majority of the American public, which has had enough of an endless war that has torn the country apart, it's nothing but an insult to their collective intelligence."

Egypt police arrest democracy activist

Egypt Cops Arrest Head of Pro-Democracy Movement; Group Says It's Retaliation for Labor Unrest

"A key leader of Egypt's main pro-democracy group was arrested Wednesday night during a raid on his home in Cairo, police and group officials said.

George Ishaq, director-general of Kifaya, was taken away by security officers who stormed the home around 8 p.m., one of the group's founders, Abdel-Halim Qandil, told The Associated Press. He said more than 50 members of the movement had been arrested this week.

A police officer confirmed Ishaq's arrest, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

Ishaq had not been formally charged, but was expected to undergo interrogation. Egyptian authorities often detain suspects for weeks or months without charge.

Kifaya, which means "Enough" in Arabic, is a broad-based movement that has spearheaded demonstrations against the government of President Hosni Mubarak since late 2004.

Qandil accused the Egyptian government of cracking down on Kifaya in retaliation for a nationwide labor strike last weekend........"

Al-Jazeera Video: Jimmy Carter to meet Khalid Meshaal in Syria - 09 April 08

Real News Video: Did Petraeus part ways with the neocons?

"The Real Story examines General Petraeus' testimony and the contending forces in Iraq

Wednesday April 9th, 2008

Professor Sabah Al Nasseri Born in Basra, Iraq, is Professor of Political Science (Middle East Politics) at the York University, Toronto. Prior to that he was a Lecturer of Political Science at the J.-W.Goethe University, Frankfurt. Currently he is working on an article, “Understanding Iraq.”"

Real News Video: Are the US and Iran backing the same horse?

"Raed Jarrar on why both Iran and the US are supporting the same players in Iraq
Wednesday April 9th, 2008"

Everything His President Wants to Hear

By Robert Scheer

"General Betray Us? Of course he has. can hardly be expected to recycle its slogan from last September, when Gen. David Petraeus testified in support of escalating the U.S. war in Iraq, given the hysterical denunciations that worthy group received at the time. But it was right then—as it would be to repeat the charge now.

By undercutting the widespread support for getting out of Iraq, Petraeus did indeed betray the American public, siding with an enormously unpopular president who wants to stay the course in Iraq for personal and political reasons that run contrary to genuine national security interests. Once again, the president is passing the buck to the uniformed military to justify continuing a ludicrous imperial adventure, and the good general has dutifully performed.

So why are we surprised? Why do we expect the generals to lead us on the path to peace when that is the professional task of statesmen and not warriors? It is an abdication of civilian control of the military, the basic principle of American constitutional governance, to assign a central role to an active duty general to make the decision to end the war......"

Petraeus' Ghost by Patrick Cockburn and Tom Engelhardt

Riding the Tiger

Muqtada al-Sadr and the American dilemma in Iraq
by Patrick Cockburn

A Kleptocracy Comparable to the Congo

Mass movements led by messianic leaders have a history of flaring up unexpectedly and then subsiding into insignificance. This could have happened to Muqtada and the Sadrists but did not, because their political and religious platform had a continuous appeal for the Shia masses. From the moment Saddam was overthrown, Muqtada rarely deviated from his open opposition to the U.S. occupation, even when a majority of the Shia community was prepared to cooperate with the occupiers.

As the years passed, however, disillusion with the occupation grew among the Shia until, by September 2007, an opinion poll showed that 73 percent of Shia thought that the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq made the security situation worse, and 55 percent believed their departure would make a Shia-Sunni civil war less likely. The U.S. government, Iraqi politicians, and the Western media habitually failed to recognize the extent to which hostility to the occupation drove Iraqi politics and, in the eyes of Iraqis, delegitimized the leaders associated with it......."

Endless Enemies

First it was the 'dead enders,' then it was al-Qaeda in Iraq, now it's the 'Special Groups' – but when will it end?

By Justin Raimondo

"Aside from the expected drivel and boilerplate rhetoric, the testimony of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker before Congress on Tuesday had a few surprises. Yes, we all know the administration's line: the "surge" is working, all's well, oh sure, more needs to be done but… etc., etc., ad nauseam. What I sense, however, is a shift away from the alleged "threat" posed by al-Qaeda in Iraq – which doesn't seem to be much of a factor anymore, according to the testimony of these two principals – and toward identifying the "real" enemy, the actual target of this administration's latest war plans: Iran.

This came out early on in the general's testimony, as he laid the blame for the recent violence in Basra at Tehran's feet:

"The recent flare-up in Basra, southern Iraq, and Baghdad underscored the importance of the ceasefire declared by Moqtada al-Sadr last fall as another factor in the overall reduction in violence. Recently, of course, some militia elements became active again. Though a Sadr stand-down order resolved the situation to a degree, the flare-up also highlighted the destructive role Iran has played in funding, training, arming, and directing the so-called Special Groups and generated renewed concern about Iran in the minds of many Iraqi leaders. Unchecked, the Special Groups pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq."......."

The occupation has frozen Iraq. All else is tinkering

Yesterday's declaration by General Petraeus that the surge must go on will simply prolong the country's agony

Simon Jenkins
The Guardian, Wednesday April 9 2008

".....The surge sheds no light on this route. Iraq remains the most wretched country in Asia, its children dying youngest, its minorities most terrorised, its infrastructure most wrecked. Politics is in suspense, and the middle classes in exile or living in perpetual fear of death. The claim that America and Britain, who created this mess, can best serve it by continuing to hang around, bombing and shooting, is laughable.

Maliki may be the west's baby, and leaving him on the bare mountain may be harsh. But tough love is long overdue. The new Iraq, whatever that may be, has not seen an end to the beginning of its misery, let alone a beginning to the end."

Like a Dead Man Walking

(Click on cartoon to enlarge)
By Steve Bell, The Guardian

Food price rises threaten global security - UN

Hunger riots will destabilise weak governments, says senior official

The Guardian

"Rising food prices could spark worldwide unrest and threaten political stability, the UN's top humanitarian official warned yesterday after two days of rioting in Egypt over the doubling of prices of basic foods in a year and protests in other parts of the world.

Sir John Holmes, undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and the UN's emergency relief coordinator, told a conference in Dubai that escalating prices would trigger protests and riots in vulnerable nations. He said food scarcity and soaring fuel prices would compound the damaging effects of global warming. Prices have risen 40% on average globally since last summer......"

Cairo warns Hamas of any attempt to breach Egyptian borders

"Egypt warned on Wednesday of any breach of its border lines with Gaza after a Hamas senior leader in Gaza hinted at the likelihood of breaching the Gaza-Egypt border line by Palestinian crowds.

An Egyptian diplomatic source told AFP that Egypt's borders are 'red line' that can not be crossed and that Egypt is capable of responding to such an attempt.

Alhaiya was quoted as saying during a press conference yesterday in Gaza that all 'options are open' if the Israeli blockade remains in place.

aL-Hayia also dismissed the likelihood of an Egyptian troops' response in case the Palestinian crowds breach the border-line with Egypt , pointing out that Hamas-Egypt talks over reopening of Rafah crossing terminal have yet failed.

On January23, hundreds of thousands of Gazans flooded into the nearby Egyptian town of aL-Arish for essential supplies amidst a crippling Israeli siege. "

مصادر: تجهيزات كبيرة للقوات المصرية لقمع أي تدفّق للفلسطينيين المحاصرين بغزة

"رفح – المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام

أفادت مصادر أمنية خاصة أن قوات الأمن المصري انتشرت بأعداد كبيرة على الحدود مع قطاع غزة، مؤكدة على أن تلك القوات تتسلح بقذائف "آر بي جي" المضادة للدروع، مدرعات وأسلحة خفيفة وثقيلة.

وأكدت المصادر لمراسل "المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام" اليوم الأربعاء (9/4) بأن المدرعات المصفحة انتشرت على طول الحدود المصرية مع رفح (جنوب قطاع غزة) بكثافة كبيرة جداً بحيث قدرت المسافة بين كل مدرعة وأخرى بنحو خمسين متراً فقط.

وأوضحت أن هذا الانتشار الكبير يأتي في إطار الاستعداد للتصدي لأي تدفق للمواطنين الفلسطينيين المحاصرين في قطاع غزة إلى الأراضي المصرية، بعد أن بات يهدد الحصار بكوارث غير مسبوقة.

جدير بالذكر أن حالة الاستنفار الأمني للقوات المصرية على الحدود تأتي بعد تصاعد وتيرة التحذيرات من خطر انفجار الأوضاع الإنسانية في قطاع غزة والتي قد تخرج عن نطاق السيطرة ليوجه الشعب المكلوم غضب انفجاره إلى الأراضي المصرية للتزود بأدنى حاجياته ومستلزماته التي قد تساهم في تخفيف معاناته.

يشار إلى أن قطاع غزة يقبع تحت حصار مطبق ومشدد توقفت فيه كافة مناحي الحياة اليومية للمواطنين في ظل تزايد حالات الوفيات من المرضى الممنوعين من الخروج للعلاج عبر معبر رفح البري مع الحدود المصرية الفلسطينية.

وتحرم سلطات الاحتلال الصهيوني سكان قطاع غزة من الوقود ومواد البترول مما أدى لتوقف مضخات الصرف الصحي وآبار المياه وأجهزة المستشفيات وحركة السير في قطاع غزة جراء نفاذ الوقود والذي أتى على جميع مناحي الحياة اليومية للمواطنين.

وكانت فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية وعلى رأسها حركة "حماس" قد حذرت أمس من انفجار وصفته بـ "الغير مسبوق" في كل الاتجاهات، إذا ما استمر الحصار المفروض على القطاع. "

Israeli soldiers continue to use civilians as human shields

"Resident Sameer Abu Khweira from Khallit Al Amoud area in the northern West Bank city of Nablus reported on Wednesday that Israeli soldiers forced him and his brother to accompany them as the soldiers broke into two homes.

Sameer stated that on Wednesday approximately at 2:20 A.M, soldiers broke into his home and forced him and his brother Sa’id to walk in front of them as they broke into two houses in the area.

He added that he, his brother and their uncle had to stand in the cold weather for more than 30 minutes and were used as human shield as the soldiers broke into nearby houses, searched them and kidnapped four residents.

Sameer also said that this act subjected them to danger as the soldiers were carrying military acts while using them as Human Shields.

At least 23 residents were kidnapped by the army in Nablus on Wednesday at dawn and during early morning hours.

The Israeli Information Center For Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, previously published a report which included testimonies from residents who were used as human shield in spite of a ban by the Israeli High Court of Justice.

One of the incidents took place in February 25, 2007, when Israeli soldiers used two children and their uncle as Human Shields. The two children, aged 11 and 15, in addition to a 25-year old resident, were forced to walk in front of the soldiers and their jeeps during the” Warm Winter” Offensive.

B’Tselem filed an appeal to the Israeli Military Prosecutor and demanded a probe into the issue.

On 6 October 2005, the High Court of Justice ruled that it was illegal for the army to use Palestinian civilians during military actions.

The decision was made on a petition that the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B'Tselem) and six other human rights organizations filed in 2002.

The petition followed the army’s use of Palestinian civilians as human shields since the beginning of the second intifada, primarily during IDF operations carried out in Palestinian population centers, as occurred in Operation Defensive Shield, B’Tselem reported.

Using civilians is an international banned measure which constitutes a War Crime and is only banned by the Israeli law, yet the army uses civilians as human shields and ignores the international law. "

Blood, Oil Shatter Iraq, 5 Years after US-led Invasion


"09/04/2008 Every year since April 9, 2003, Iraq folds another page in the book of its occupation written by the United States with the blood of Iraqis; a book the US began writing five years ago but when will they finish it? There is still plenty of Iraqi blood…

Nevertheless, Iraqi people were able to overcome difficulties and establish political groups and factions. The country's first free elections were held and several competing parliamentary blocs emerged.

Moreover, as the US casualties have piled up, the occupation has been increasingly haunted by the pre-war warning reportedly delivered by secretary of state Colin Powell to President George W. Bush: "You break it, you own it."

Five years on, the Americans are still picking up the pieces......."


So, Al-Manar, "The country's first free elections were held"?? Since when elections held under American occupation are considered free? Is that because these "elections" resulted in a sectarian, Shiite "government?"

Shame on you Al-Manar; was this script written for you in Iran? I thought you were more principled than that!

IOF: An officer killed, two soldiers wounded during incursion

"KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)-- The IOF command acknowledged on Wednesday that an officer was killed and two soldiers were wounded during an incursion late last night into eastern Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip.

Hebrew media said that the casualties were carried by an army chopper to Soroka hospital in Beer Sheba.

Sources in the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas Movement, said that Israeli air force choppers were summoned to rescue the IOF special force that was attacked in the area."

Would The Arabs Do That?

Haitians stormed the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince to demand the resignation of Rene Preval, the country's president, while going on a rampage in the capital over soaring food prices -- Al-Jazeera.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Human Rights Watch Report: Double Jeopardy; CIA Renditions to Jordan

Headquarters of Jordan's General Intelligence Department (GID) in Wadi Sir, showing the detention facility where rendered terrorism suspects were held.


Why Jordan?” The question puzzled Abu Hamza al-Tabuki, a Saudi citizen who claims that US agents arrested him in Afghanistan in December 2001, interrogated him in Pakistan, and then flew him in a private jet to Jordan. Because he was not Jordanian and had no past connection to Jordan, he did not understand why he was sent there. “Why wasn’t I sent to America since I was arrested by Americans?” al-Tabuki asked, in a narrative he sent to contacts in Jordan after he was released.

What al-Tabuki learned was that Jordan offered greater possibilities for abusive interrogations: it was a place for him to be questioned “more freely,” as one US official put it.

According to al-Tabuki, the Jordanians’ methods included “terror and fear, torture and beatings, insults and verbal abuse, and threats to expose my private parts and rape me.” Nor was al-Tabuki alone in facing this abuse. Based on our investigations in Jordan and elsewhere, including interviews with several former detainees, Human Rights Watch has concluded that al-Tabuki was one of at least 14 prisoners that the United States sent to Jordan for interrogation and likely torture.

From 2001 until at least 2004, Jordan’s General Intelligence Department (GID) served as a proxy jailer for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), holding prisoners that the CIA apparently wanted kept out of circulation, and later handing some of them back to the CIA. More than just warehousing these men, the GID interrogated them using methods that were even more brutal than those in which the CIA has been implicated to date. The prisoners were typically held for several months in GID custody—and in at least one case, for nearly two years......."

Iran condemns Green Zone attacks

From the Iranian Press TV

"Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini has roundly condemned the attacks on Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

Hosseini denounced the ongoing tension in Baghdad's Green Zone, which is the seat of the Iraqi government and foreign embassies.

Hosseini also criticized the US forces for launching air strikes in Basra and the Shia bastion of Sadr City in Baghdad.

The spokesman added that measures taken by the Iraqi government against militants aim to establish security and stability in the war-battered country.

Hosseini also expressed hope that the occupation forces would withdraw and hand over Iraq's domestic affairs to the country's democratically-elected government.

He went on to highlight the need for increased vigilance and national unity among Iraqi factions to help secure peace and stability in the country. "


This is very interesting. So, Iran is now standing with the US in defending the Green Zone!

I think that this is one of the clearest statements from Iran that it really, really, really would love to work with and protect the interests of the Great Satan. Does this not shed more light on Ahmadinejad's recent visit and his stay in the Green Zone?

Major row in Assad regime delays Sunday publication of Mughniyeh probe findings

"DEBKAfile’s Middle East and intelligence sources report that President Bashar Assad has fallen out with his brother-in-law Gen. Asif Shawqat, sacked him as military intelligence chief and appointed Gen. Aly Younes in his place.

Shawqat has not been seen in the capital for three weeks. Several intelligence officers were reported arrested in Damascus Monday, April 7.

The apparent downfall of Syria’s strongman is seen as symptomatic of a fierce rift in the top level of Syrian government. Our Washington sources report that Assad decided at the last minute to hold back the report promised for Sunday, April 7, on the killing of Hizballah leader Imad Mughniyeh last February, until after April 17, when the US House Intelligence Committee hears the details of Israel’s reported Sept 6, 2007 strike on a nuclear installation Syria was building with North Korean assistance. He will the decide how to play it......."

Also, Zarathustra contributed this:

"Report that Asif Shawkat is arrested.

دبي - العربية.نت - التزمت السلطات السورية ووسائل الإعلام السورية الرسمية بالصمت حتى الآن إزاء تزايد شائعات تتحدث عن اعتقال مسؤول الاستخبارات العسكرية والشخصية الأمنية القوية آصف شوكت

صهر الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد تحسبا لعملية انقلابية ضد النظام.

ففي الوقت الذي تتناقل فيه صحف ومواقع إلكترونية، ومعظمها مقربة من أطراف معارضة سورية، شائعة اعتقال آصف شوكت زوج بشرى الأسد شقيقة الرئيس، لم تورد السلطات السورية أي نفي أو تأكيد للخبر، كما لم تورد الصحف السورية أنباء من أي نوع عن صهر الرئيس السوري"