Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Pentagon Strangles Our Economy: Why the U.S. Has Gone Broke

by Chalmers Johnson

Global Research, April 26, 2008
Le Monde diplomatique

"The military adventurers in the Bush administration have much in common with the corporate leaders of the defunct energy company Enron. Both groups thought that they were the "smartest guys in the room" -- the title of Alex Gibney's prize-winning film on what went wrong at Enron. The neoconservatives in the White House and the Pentagon outsmarted themselves. They failed even to address the problem of how to finance their schemes of imperialist wars and global domination.

As a result, going into 2008, the United States finds itself in the anomalous position of being unable to pay for its own elevated living standards or its wasteful, overly large military establishment. Its government no longer even attempts to reduce the ruinous expenses of maintaining huge standing armies, replacing the equipment that seven years of wars have destroyed or worn out, or preparing for a war in outer space against unknown adversaries. Instead, the Bush administration puts off these costs for future generations to pay or repudiate. This fiscal irresponsibility has been disguised through many manipulative financial schemes (causing poorer countries to lend us unprecedented sums of money), but the time of reckoning is fast approaching......"

From the Nile to the Euphrates; The 'Victims of a Map'

by Felicity Arbuthnot

Global Research, April 26, 2008

"......Israel is about to celebrate sixty years of human rights violations against the region, Palestinians and destruction of their ever diminishing lands, revelling, in effect on graves, ancient bulldozed groves and over half a century of decimation of dreams, homes, heritage. The travesty of the theocracy's founding on the above untruth, its betrayal, from the State's inception, is encapsulated in the story of one child, caught in the early displacement of nearly three quarter of a million souls from the land of their birth. A forced flight and fragmentation of families, friends, communities, unceasing over six grinding decades.

The child was six years old in 1948. One night, that year, Israeli soldiers came to his home in al-Barweh. The family “...fled through a forest, bullets winging overhead and reached Lebanon, where they stayed for more than a year, living on meagre United Nations hand outs”. Finally, the child was led by his uncle, back across the border to the village of Deir al-Asad, in Galilee. They could not return to al-Barweh, for it had been obliterated by Israeli soldiers.

"All that had happened", he recounted in 1969, "was that the refugee had exchanged his old address for a new one. I had been a refugee in Lebanon and now I was a refugee in my own country."

Further, the first Israeli census deemed any Palestinian not accounted for as “an infiltrator” and “therefore not entitled to an identity card”. The child had been in Lebanon during the census and was, thus, illegal in his own country. His family and the Headmaster of his primary school used to hide him when police or officials appeared. Eventually, officials were told that he had been with the nomadic Bedouin during the census, thus finally obtaining an identity card, legalising him in the land of his birth......

The boy was Mahmud Darwish, probably the world's best known Palestinian poet, recipient of the 1969 Lotus Prize and 1983 Lenin Peace Prize. Palestine's plight is reflected in the gentle, insightful screams of his haunting words, each poem a requiem to a land, history and people, raped by initial edicts from Whitehall and a world that has turned its face away from a “beloved country”, dismembered, piece by piece. To compare the lush richness of Palestine from the 1948 map and that of now, is to compare the vibrancy of beauty, become force-starved and mutilated, yet still fighting for precious life and future.

The contrast of Darwish's poignant lines with the obscene language of those who have risen to the highest political offices in Israel, is stark: “We go to a country not of our flesh. The chestnut trees are not of our bones .... “We go to a country that does not hang a special sun over us ...”

Another poem begins: “We travel like other people, but we return to nowhere ...”

Another: “The earth is closing in on us, pushing us through the last passage .... “We saw the faces of those who'll throw our children Out of the windows of this last space ...”

And his near unbearable: “Give birth to me again that I may know in which land I will die, In which land I will come to life again ...”

The lexicon, from which the leaders of Israel have pronounced over the years, must have come from the proverbial parallel universe. Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, opined of the Palestinians, as five hundred villages were being destroyed in sort of national house warming ceremony, unfettered violence raging: “The old will die off and the young will forget.”......."

Biting the Hand That Feeds You.....But, as Sharon Said, "Don't Worry About America, We Control America."

U.S. fumes after Israeli envoy to UN envoy brands Carter 'a bigot'

"The United States registered an official protest with Israel against its ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, for calling former U.S. President Jimmy Carter an "enemy of Israel" prior to Carter's recent visit to the region.

A senior Foreign Ministry source said Saturday that the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv asked that Gillerman be made aware of the U.S. administration's dissatisfaction with the disrespectful comments about the former U.S. President.

In addition, the State Department is planning to issue a public statement condemning comments made by Gillerman at a press conference in New York on Thursday, where he called Carter a "bigot."......."

Al-Jazeera Video: Fourteen-year-old girl killed in Israeli raid - 27 Apr 08

"A day after rejecting a truce offered by Hamas, Israel has carried out two airstrikes on Gaza.

A 14-year-old girl - said to be the daughter of a Hamas leader - was also killed during an Israeli incursion into the town of Beit Lahiya. At least eight others were wounded.

From Gaza, David Chater reports. "

STC: Incarceration conditions of Palestinian children in Israeli jails shocking

"LONDON, (PIC)-- Britain-based Save the Children organization revealed facts described as "shocking" related to incarceration conditions of Palestinian children in Israeli occupation jails, pointing out that the most disturbing phenomenon observed by international organization was that Israel arrests children and issues sentences against them harsher than others.

According to the organization, the IOF troops kidnapped 6,000 Palestinian children since the beginning of the Aqsa Intifada eight years ago, and there are currently more than 320 children detained in Israeli jails, adding that the IOA detains on average about 700 children every year.

Greg Ram, the deputy director of international operations of the organization, underlined that the Israeli measures represented by the arrest of Palestinian children even for simple reasons deprive hundreds of them from enjoying their natural rights.

Ram explained that the Palestinian children at the age of 12 get arrested for the most trivial reasons and are taken away from their families to jails inside Israel, adding that the IOA deprives them from seeing their families for long periods of time and probably do not provide them with lawyers during interrogation."

Fisk Fighting

An Exclusive Interview with Robert Fisk


".....Throughout the interview I kept thinking the world’s most decorated foreign correspondent would have an equally brilliant career as a headmaster or drill sergeant.

It took nearly a week of phone tag to secure interview time with Robert Fisk, the Middle East correspondent for The Independent who has lived in the region for nearly three decades......He finally agreed to a fifteen-minute interview that quickly ballooned into a lengthy, hour plus conversation and an enlightening and entertaining Middle East history lesson by the celebrated reporter.....

ALI: A recent British report said Gaza is in its worst condition since the last 30 years. Just last week, a seminary was targeted and several civilians were killed. Americans see this and think “Arabs vs. Jews, they’re just always killing each other.” What’s the ground scene reality regarding the current volatility? Is one side to be blamed more than the other for the recent conflagration?

FISK: Oh, God! Sounds like a CNN question!......

ALI: Well, Obama as you know before his run as President, was more partial towards Palestinian rights. But, last month along with Clinton, he wrote a letter strongly condemning Palestinian violence. Many wonder, if he or even Clinton wins, is there going to be any change in policy?

ALI: Lebanon seems to be a forgotten story. In 2006, it had a struggle with Israel which devastated a large part of that society –

FISK: Hezbollah did. I don’t know if Lebanon did at all, but Hezbollah did........

ALI: Has the Lebanese society been able to recover in the past 2 years, or has it only strengthened Hezbollah?

ALI: You have experience in Kosovo and Serbia, and you know Kosovo declared independence and sovereignty from Serbia on Feb 17. Do you believe there is complicity of Western agents in its prolonged suffering? Is this a new chapter signaling hope? And could it have come earlier?

ALI: Many of your critics, specifically some Zionist critics, say that you’ve lived in the Middle East for so long that you’ve become partial and succumbed to “their” narrative.

ALI: You just gave a really good microcosm example of how you’re on “the scene.” You’re one of the very few people who is “lucky” – well, I don’t think that is the proper word, I don’t even what the proper word is – to meet Osama Bin Laden and have an interview with him.

ALI: I had an interview with Seymour Hersh and asked him about Iran’s activity in the Middle East. He said Iran is doing what it’s always been doing in supporting the Shias. That’s what it’s doing in Lebanon and in Iraq. Now, you mention Ahmadinejad as being a “Crackpot” and

FISK: I think he’s a crackpot, yeah.

ALI: People say Iran has its fingers in the cookie jar in helping Hezbollah and helping the Iraqi insurgents. Is Iran completely innocent? Should it be attacked? And what would –

FISK: You’re doing what CNN and FOX do. You’re producing a sustained government narrative and then asking a question about it......"

Will U. S. Policy in Lebanon and the Middle East Ever Change?

What's in it for Hezbollah?


Editors' Note: This is the third and final installment in Franklin Lamb’s three-part series.

Part One: Historical Context and Current Posturing

Part Two: The Israeli Project Has Failed in Lebanon

".......Hezbollah's Response

Hezbollah accepts dialogue as a matter of principle and axiom. Historically, the Shia culture generally and Hezbollah in particular is comfortable with discussions and exchanging ideas with friends and foes ranging from issues of war and peace to social problems to religion and ways to improve peoples lives. It is prepared for dialogue over the question of Palestine, the bloodstream issue and central cause of Arabs and Muslims and increasingly people around the World.

However, Hezbollah has consistently rejected most US feelers because, as Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has stated, "our acquiescence to America's demands would simply have meant abandoning our faith, our people and our history."

As far back as November 16, 2001, Hassan Nasrallah explained Hezbollah's past objections to US offers to the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai Al-Aam:

"As for their demand that we sever our connection to the Arab-Israeli conflict, that would mean the total elimination of Hezbollah's head and heart, a complete disregard for the martyrs' blood and a betrayal of their families' tears, of our people and of their sacrifice. It would also mean giving up our religious and legal duty to come to the assistance of Palestine".
According to Hezbollah, the US has tried several times "to place us in a state of confrontation with what they called "Sunni fundamentalism".

They tried to provoke us along these lines, on the grounds that, in the future, Sunni fundamentalism will pose the gravest threat to Shiism". The Bush administration, according to Hezbollah, also tried to get Iran to attack the Taliban and provoke a Shia-Sunni confrontation. But Iran did not fall into the trap.

With respect to the bargaining chip of pulling back from the Palestinian cause, Hezbollah considers that it has, in the words of Nasrallah, "a moral, humanitarian, religious, patriotic, and national duty towards the Palestinians".

Hezbollah believes that peace will come to Palestine and the region not through a phony 'peace process' trying to buy off the Palestinian or Lebanese Resistance but when the occupation ends. It really is that simple. And until the Bush administration or its successor in Washington really understand this, negotiations will remain just talk.

One Hezbollah acquaintance stated: "We need to ensure at the beginning of negotiations that the occupation ends. Then peace can be made between states. An occupied people cannot make peace with its occupiers".......

What the Hezbollah leadership discusses in its Shura Council becomes public knowledge only when Hezbollah wants it to. But until today Hezbollah views US proposals with deep suspicion and as calculated to advance Israel's agenda in the region.

Hezbollah is no stranger to the Bush Administration carrot and stick pattern of wooing and then harshly threatening if overtures are spurned. Hezbollah respects the American people but views most of the recent American governments proposals "as nothing but a political bomb meant to destroy Hezbollah, since they cannot of course destroy us by dropping a nuclear bomb on us," as Hezbollah's Secretary General Nasrallah has said........

Many in Washington would favor dialogue with Hezbollah. It remains to be seen if 'bridge builders' can make that happen and if we are going to see some serious changes in US foreign policy starting with the Middle East."

Egypt sends forces of policemen to the Rafah crossing

"Egyptian security sources reported on Friday that Egyptian authorities sent hundreds of policemen to the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip to enforce security and to prevent the Palestinians from breaching the borders.

The Eqyption security sources reported that the action came after information stating that thousands of residents of the Gaza Strip will flock to Erez crossing north of the Gaza Strip and the Rafah crossing after the weekly, Friday prayer in protest of the blockade imposed by Israel

An anonymous source said that the move was "a precaution to prevent any attempt by the Palestinians to breach the borders with Egypt." He added that 300-400 policemen backed by armored vehicles were deployed today inside the Rafah crossing and in front of its gate on the Egyptian side and added "that there is no specific danger that threatens the borders".

This came after Israel's rejection of Hamas' declaration of a six month truce in the Gaza Strip during which the blockade would be lifted and said that "the Gaza activists want to prepare themselves for more fighting and not peace.""

Arab League Warns of Humanitarian Catastrophe in Gaza. Why Are the Bastards Part of it Then? Like Killing Someone and Marching in the Funeral?


"26/04/2008 The Arab League on Saturday warned of an "unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe" in the Gaza Strip after the United Nations was forced to suspend aid deliveries because of Israeli restrictions.

The 22-member body expressed its "grave concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip after the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was forced to stop delivering aid," Hisham Yussef, Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa's chief of staff, said in a statement.

"These circumstances, as well as the Israeli armed forces' continued military action against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, will lead to an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe for which the Israeli government will have to bear responsibility," Yussef said [How about your responsibility, Mr. Mussa??].

He said the Israeli blockade on Gaza, as well as military operations and the halting of fuel supplies to the impoverished territory, is "unacceptable and silence over the issue cannot continue."

Yussef urged international bodies including the United Nations and the European Union to "exert pressure on Israel to accept its responsibility in applying international law."[How about the Pharaoh's government's responsibility? Egypt is responsible for Gaza, but the Pharaoh has no balls to open the Rafah crossing.]

The United Nations stopped distributing aid to the Gaza Strip on Thursday after running out of fuel as the Israeli terminal that supplies the besieged Palestinian territory remained shut. Humanitarian agencies say Gaza, one of the world's most densely populated territories with 1.5 million people living on a narrow sliver of land, is on the brink of disaster. "

IRAQ: Poverty Gets the Survivors

By Maki al-Nazzal and Dahr Jamail

"DAMASCUS, Apr 26 (IPS) - More than a million Iraqis were lucky enough to flee into Syria. But in this relatively safe haven, there is no getting away from poverty.

Mohammad Saleem ran a successful supermarket in Baghdad. "I was leading a comfortable life with my family, despite the 13 years of UN sanctions," Saleem told IPS in Damascus. "My four sons worked together to keep our supermarket running, and so we passed the dark sanctions period successfully. The big suffering started with the 2003 occupation that brought closed roads and reduced income for people."

The day came when they were told by militias to leave within 24 hours, he said. "It is not possible for us to start over in Syria, and so my brother is selling our property piece by piece so that we can survive."

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates there are 1.5 million Iraqis in Syria. But the economy of Syria itself is struggling under U.S. sanctions. Jobs for refugees on the black market bring no more than 100 dollars a month.

And expenses have risen. "I paid 300 dollars rent when I came here in early 2005," said Dr. Shakir Awad. "In 2006 I had to rent a smaller flat for the same amount of money because rent went up after more Iraqis fled for Syria when sectarian evictions escalated in Iraq. My assets started to dry up, and I have started selling my property back home to maintain a minimal living standard."

A very large number of Iraqi refugees live on charity from Syrians......"

Hawks Resurgent?

By Jim Lobe

"Are the latest accusations and tough language leveled against Iran, Syria, and North Korea evidence of a resurgence by the remaining hawks in the administration of President George W. Bush hoping for a final confrontation against one or more members of the revised "axis of evil" before his term next January?

That's the big question here this week, particularly following Thursday's long-awaited intelligence briefings to Congress about alleged North Korean involvement in the construction of a "covert nuclear reactor" in Syria that was destroyed in a raid by Israeli warplanes in September last year.

According to some interpretations, the briefing's timing and content appeared deliberately designed to raise tensions between Washington, on the one hand, and Pyongyang and Damascus, on the other, potentially derailing ongoing long-running negotiations between the State Department and North Korea and Turkish-mediated peace feelers between Israel and Syria......."

U.S. Weighing Readiness for Military Action Against Iran

The Washington Post

Contributed by Anders

"The nation's top military officer said yesterday that the Pentagon is planning for "potential military courses of action" as one of several options against Iran, criticizing what he called the Tehran government's "increasingly lethal and malign influence" in Iraq.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a conflict with Iran would be "extremely stressing" but not impossible for U.S. forces, pointing to reserve capabilities in the Navy and Air Force.

"It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability," he said at a Pentagon news conference. Speaking of Iran's intentions, Mullen said: "They prefer to see a weak Iraq neighbor. . . . They have expressed long-term goals to be the regional power."

Mullen made clear that he prefers a diplomatic solution and does not expect imminent action. "I have no expectations that we're going to get into a conflict with Iran in the immediate future," he said.

Mullen's statements and others by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently signal new rhetorical pressure on Iran by the Bush administration amid what officials say is increased Iranian provision of weapons, training and financing to Iraqi groups that are attacking and killing Americans......."

It's easy to be snotty with an airline so haughty that it regards its own customers as an inconvenience

By Robert Fisk

"Oh, those wretched "disruptive" passengers! Poor British Airways. They can't even ship off a crying man to Nigeria with the boys in blue to keep him quiet without passengers objecting and disrupting and disturbing their lovely aeroplanes. No wonder all the economy-class passengers were chucked off flight BA075 to Lagos on 27 March rather than have them object to the deportation of a crying man. Quite right, too.

Indeed, having long ago abandoned British Airways – arrogant check-in staff and Roxy usherette stewards and stewardesses – I've always thought the airline should be broken up and left with a core institution. Deportation Airlines, for example, or – if that sounds a trifle downmarket – Guantanamo Airlines, or even Rendition Airlines........."

Current Al-Jazeera (Arabic) Online Poll

The question is:

Do you believe that Israel is ready to withdraw from the occupied Golan in return for peace with Syria?

With over 9,000 responding so far, 83% said no.

Friday, April 25, 2008

سورية المستهدفة.. حربا وسلما

سورية المستهدفة.. حربا وسلما

عبد الباري عطوان

"يعتبر الاسبوع الماضي، اسبوع سورية بكل المقاييس، فقد بدأ بعقد اجتماع لدول محور الاعتدال العربية في المنامة برئاسة كوندوليزا رايس، الذي من المفترض ان يشارك بفاعلية في اي حرب ضد محور الشر الذي تتشارك فيه مع ايران و حزب الله و حماس ، ثم بعقد اجتماع آخر لدول الجوار العراقي بحضور رايس ايضا في الكويت ومشاركة السيد وليد المعلم وزير خارجية سورية، ولعل الاجتماع الذي ضم اصدقاء لبنان، وقاطعته سورية لا يقل اهمية عن الاجتماعين المذكورين.
بعد مغادرة رايس عائدة الي واشنطن، حدث تطوران مهمان، الاول من جانب دمشق التي حرصت علي تسريب، ومن ثم تأكيد، وساطة تركية يقوم بها السيد رجب طيب اردوغان رئيس الوزراء، اثمرت عن استعداد اسرائيلي كامل للانسحاب من هضبة الجولان، والثاني من قبل الولايات المتحدة علي شكل بث وثائق فيديو تكشف عن صور لما وصفته بالمفاعل النووي السوري الذي كان قيد الانشاء بمساعدة كورية شمالية، ودمرته غارة جوية اسرائيلية قبل سبعة اشهر.
المسؤولون السوريون، بمن فيهم الرئيس بشار الاسد شخصيا، حريصون علي ابراز مساعيهم للتوصل الي سلام مع اسرائيل، واستعدادهم للانخراط في مفاوضات تتكلل بمعاهدة سلام، وهو امر مخالف للصورة التي حاولوا ويحاولون عكسها عن موقفهم كدولة ممانعة بينما يصر الامريكيون في المقابل علي شيطنة نظامهم من خلال اتهامه بخداع وكالة الطاقة الذرية الدولية وامتلاك اجهزة نووية سرية من خلف ظهرها.
هناك مثل تونسي شهير يقول تحاول ان تفهم.. تدوخ ، الأمر الذي يجعل اي محاولة لفهم ما يجري في سورية، وحولها، أمرا في غاية الصعوبة،
سورية قد تخرج متضررة من كل هذه الحملة التي تستهدفها، لان اي تذكير بقدرة الطائرات الاسرائيلية علي اختراق دفاعاتها الجوية والارضية والوصول الي المفاعل المزعوم في اقصي شمالها الشرقي وتدميره دون اي اعتراض بل والتقاط صور له، يشكل احراجا لها وهزّا لصورتها في اذهان الشعب السوري اولا، والشعوب العربية التي تلتف في معظمها حولها، باعتبارها الحصن الاخير لـ الممانعة في مواجهة التواطؤ العربي الرسمي مع المخططات الامريكية والاسرائيلية
تخطيء القيادة السورية اذا ما بالغت في تفاؤلها تجاه الوساطة التركية، ونامت علي وسادة من حرير معتقدة ان معاهدة السلام باتت وشيكة. فالثمن المبالغ فيه الذي تطلبه اسرائيل مقابل التنازل عن الجولان لا تستطيع سورية تلبيته، وحتي لو استطاعت فانه قد يكون كأس السم الذي ستتجرعه وينهي نظامها، لان شرعية النظام تقوم في معظمها علي الممانعة لا الاعتدال ، ونسج تحالفات قوية في هذا الخصوص مع ايران و حزب الله و حماس . الثمن الذي تريده اسرائيل هو فك التحالف الاستراتيجي مع ايران، وانهاء العلاقة مع حزب الله وبالتالي خسارة كل اوراقها ونفوذها في لبنان، والتخلي عن القضية الفلسطينية كليا.
انه ثمن باهظ، خاصة اذا عرفنا ان السيادة السورية في الجولان العائد ستكون مقيدة باتفاقات نزع السلاح، ووجود مراقبين امريكان، وتنقل اسرائيلي دون عوائق او تأشيرات دخول، وفوق هذا وذاك تطبيع ساخن بعد ان اشتكت اسرائيل اكثر من مرة من التطبيع البارد مع مصر، فهل تقبل القيادة السورية الحالية كل هذه الشروط، خاصة ونحن نعرف ادبياتها المعلنة المناقضة لهذا كليا؟

Why the Bush Administration Wants to Negotiate Now with Hezbollah

The Israeli Project Has Failed in Lebanon


Note: This is the second installment in Franklin Lamb’s extraordinary three-part series, which we are publishing across Thursday, Friday and the weekend. Editors.

"......US allies are urging the Bush administration to open dialogue with Hezbollah and efforts to isolate Hezbollah have failed.

British Defense Secretary Des Browne in a newspaper interview published in the March 30 2008 UK Daily Telegraph agreed with Jonathan Powell, formerly Tony Blair's top adviser, that Hezbollah should be engaged in discussions. The efforts to politically isolate Hezbollah along with Hamas have failed. Just last week the French Embassy in Beirut invited Hezbollah's foreign affairs representative to lunch. President Carter's meetings with Hamas will accelerate the process.

In addition, pro-Hezbollah sentiment is growing in Jordan and Egypt as reflected in legislation introduced in the Jordanian Parliament this week to abrogate the Oct. 26, 1994 Treaty with Israel. While the proposal will not pass this year, the Bush administration is being advised that both Jordan and Egypt will likely abrogate their treaties with Israel following anticipated rebellions against the Abdullah and Mubarak regimes.

Nearly two-thirds of the 27 Countries that make up the European Union are said to believe that it is doubtful whether there really is a viable military option - American, Israeli or combined - for destroying Hezbollah. The Party is too integrated and has support all over Lebanon and the region. Even if there were, the war in Iraq has effectively eliminated it. The American military's strength has been exhausted in Iraq and Afghanistan and it has inadequate force to devote to a particularly dangerous third front......

'Essential' Bush administration/Israeli projects have failed in Lebanon.

Neither the Sunni-Shia conflict, the Kleiaat airbase, the Al Qaeda affiliates, a civil war nor the planned and supported July 2006 destruction of Hezbollah has been realized.

A brief comment on one of its projects. The Bush Administration and their Welch Club allies brought al Qaeda elements from Iraq to Lebanon and Syria, starting in 2005, for two purposes. One was to fight Hezbollah and thus weaken Iranian influence in the region and the second was to ignite another Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Syria like the April 1981 attack on the Alawite village of Hama or overthrow the Bashar Assad government.......

No viable civil war option

Another reason the White House wants to put out 'feelers' to Hezbollah is that it has concluded that it is not likely to be able to ignite a Lebanese Civil war and what was thought by the Welch Club to be perhaps its most promising project, is not going to happen anytime soon......."

Abbas: I failed in U.S., no progress in peace talks

However,......He Was Ordered to Keep "Negotiating!"
What a Disgrace to the Palestinian People For Having Produced Such a Coward and Traitor!

"WASHINGTON - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that he failed to achieve any progress in Middle East peace talks with U.S. President George W. Bush and he is returning home from Washington with little to show for his visit.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, the Palestinian leader sounded pessimistic about the prospects of achieving any deal with Israel this year, despite a big U.S. push that began five months ago at a Middle East peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland.

"Frankly, so far nothing has been achieved. But we are still conducting direct work to have a solution," Abbas said.

"We demanded the Americans implement the first phase of the road map that talks about the cessation of settlement expansion," Abbas said, expressing disappointment the U.S. has not exerted more pressure on Israel to stop.....

Abbas' aides said he was also upset after his lunch Thursday with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. While discussing what a peace deal would look like, Rice did not mention the Palestinian goal of creating a state based on borders before Israel captured Gaza from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day war.

"We demanded that they talk about the '67 borders," Abbas told AP, showing a rare flash of anger. "None of them talks about the '67 borders."

Asked whether U.S. officials offered any new U.S. proposals, Abbas said no......

"All the files are still open. None of them are concluded. The situation is still as it was," Abbas said, speaking in Arabic......

Despite his disappointment, Abbas said he would still meet with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert regularly in hopes of achieving a deal......"

Settlement leaders in Golan call for further construction of settlements

"Leaders of settlements in the occupied Golan Heights stated on Thursday that settlement construction and expansion in the occupied Syrian area will continue and will advance.

The leaders said that “any attempt to harm the Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights inflicts danger on the Israeli security, and will fail”, the Arabs48 news website reported.

The statement came following a meeting held on Thursday with the participation of Eli Malka, head of the Golan Regional Council, Sami Barlev, head of the local council of Katzrin settlement, former member of Knesset Yihoda Hariel, and others.

Several members of Knesset slammed the notion of a withdrawal from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria. The Golan Heights are Syrian territories illegally annexed by Israel after the 1967 war.

Member of Knesset Ze’ev Elkin, from Kadima party which is headed by Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said that withdrawal from the Golan will not be supported by Knesset members, even by Kadima members of Knesset......."

Crossing the Line interviews Dr. Eyad al-Sarraj

Podcast, The Electronic Intifada, 25 April 2008

"This week on Crossing the Line: Haaretz recently reported that Egypt and Israel have agreed in principle that Egypt will assume responsibility for supplying electricity to the Gaza Strip's 1.4 million residents. But will Israel, who had previously supplied Gaza with most of its electricity, allow for this to continue in the context of their ongoing siege on Gaza? Host Naji Ali speaks with Dr. Eyad al-Sarraj, founder and director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme about the ongoing siege and humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Next, more and more solidarity activists are mobilizing in the US to demand an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. But our guest today argues that Palestinian-Americans need to become more involved in the struggle in the US. Nadeen Elshorafa, a Palestinian-American activist, discusses her efforts to mobilize Palestinian, Arab and Muslim youth in the US."

Click Here to Listen

Latin America: the attack on democracy

John Pilger argues that an unreported war is being waged by the US to restore power to the privileged classes at the expense of the poor

by John Pilger

Global Research, April 24, 2008
New Statesman

"Beyond the sound and fury of its conquest of Iraq and campaign against Iran, the world's dominant power is waging a largely unreported war on another continent - Latin America. Using proxies, Washington aims to restore and reinforce the political control of a privileged group calling itself middle-class, to shift the responsibility for massacres and drug trafficking away from the psychotic regime in Colombia and its mafiosi, and to extinguish hopes raised among Latin America's impoverished majority by the reform governments of Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia......."

Hillary, the war chick

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"It was a silly question to begin with, but Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton jumped in boots and all, saying if she were US president and Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons, she would "obliterate" Iran. Clinton's positioning spells Imperial Washington in all its glory - and hubris......"

Real News Video: Blockade halts food aid to Gaza. Is it a Genocide Yet?

"Michael Bailey: 70,000 Gazans have no drinking water; UN can't feed 700,000 refugees

Friday April 25th, 2008

The Gaza Strip has fallen eerily silent as day-to-day life grinds to a halt in the face of an Israeli fuel blockade that has forced the UN to halt its food shipments into the territory. Michael Bailey of Oxfam in Jerusalem tells The Real News Network that some 300,000 Gaza residents have drinking water at home for less than five hours per day, every four days, and the UN can no longer get supplies to the 700,000 refugees living in Gaza."

Rush Order

By Tab, Calgary Sun

Love and Resistance in the Gaza Strip

Doctor Mona el-Farra, top left, poses with a group of children in the Gaza Strip

The Guardian Weekly

Mona el-Farra is a doctor and human rights activist working with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. She is also the author of From Gaza With Love, a blog through which she keeps the world abreast of conditions under the Israeli occupation.

"I started writing in 2000 when my parents’ home was demolished by the Israeli occupation army at the beginning of this intifada. I felt strongly that I should tell people abroad about my personal experience and about what’s happening in Gaza under occupation.

As a doctor working in the field and living in Gaza I witnessed so many human rights violations and I wanted people to know about it. About two years ago some friends and supporters of the Palestinian cause in Britain encouraged me to start a blog because they thought that my message was strong, but I didn’t expect the reaction – the response was overwhelming. So I continued.

Gaza at the moment is a big prison, a very dire situation. Like all the community, most of the time I feel isolated, but by writing I feel that I am not alone. Other people in the world react to my writing, and I can see I am not alone – it is a sort of therapy for me.......

I also coordinate work in cultural centres for children in refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. I believe very strongly that these centres are important because they support children’s psychology through entertainment. Playing, dancing, painting, reading – these are important needs. OK, people are hungry in Gaza, but their psychology has collapsed; we need to help the minds of children through these activities. At least 65% of Palestinian children suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome from living in war conditions.

Support from other parts of the world is very important – some people give, but it is not enough. However, if it comes directly to the children of Gaza, to the patients of Gaza, it is going to do a lot. On another level, it would help if people wrote to their members of parliament because nothing will change dramatically unless the politics are changed.

Mona el-Farra is still looking for a paediatric surgeon. She can be contacted through her blog, She was interviewed by Charlotte Baxter."

Bush to Nasrallah: an Offer Hezbollah Cannot Refuse?

Part One: Historical Context and Current Posturing


Note: This is the first installment in a series of three which we will publish across Thursday, Friday and the weekend. Editors.

"“The Bush administration parking a flotilla from its US 6th fleet off the coast of Lebanon was made necessary, it claims, to demonstrate Washington’s ‘commitment to stability in the region’. This provocation, aimed at Hezbollah and also Syria, is the equivalent of a Sicilian fish wrapped in newspaper with a white rose—left on a doorstep: “This is business. It is not personal. Here is an offer you cannot refuse“.

– Italian officer seconded to UNIFIL outside his Tebnine HQ, South Lebanon

Recent US back channel feelers to Dahiyeh, where Hezbollah’s decision makers are sometimes present, reflect US calculations that given current trends in the Middle East, Hezbollah will play a major regional role......."

Gates: Iranians kill US soldiers

The US Defense Secretary blames Iran for the killing of US troops in Iraq as the Bush administration steps up rhetoric against Tehran.

Press TV

""What the Iranians are doing is killing American servicemen and women inside Iraq,'' Robert Gates told a press conference on Wednesday.

The Defense Secretary denied the reports that senior US military officials including General Raymond T. Odierno, General David Petraeus and Admiral William Fallon are at odds over Iran, saying they have no disagreement about the need to confront Iran "over its conduct in Iraq".

"General Odierno and General Petraeus and Admiral Fallon were all in exactly the same position when it came to their views of Iranian interference inside Iraq,'' Gates claimed.

The United States accuses Iran of supporting insurgents inside Iraq. Tehran, however, dismisses the allegations saying Washington has failed to provide any concert evidence to prove its claims.

Iranian officials argue that the improvement of security in Iraq is in the best interests of the Islamic Republic. "

Pollard's Ghost

Latest arrest exposes Israel's fifth column in the U.S.

By Justin Raimondo

" Whenever the subject of Israeli spying in the U.S. comes up, the journalistic handle is always the same: the infamous Jonathan Pollard. His ghost hovers over the increasingly troubled "special relationship" – and he isn't even dead yet.

Convicted of espionage in 1986, Pollard did such damage to U.S. national security that top intelligence officials threatened to resign if Bill Clinton acceded to Israeli demands to pardon him. He is serving a life sentence for stealing secrets deemed so valuable that the Soviet Union reportedly agreed to trade them for the release of tens of thousands of Russian Jews for resettlement in Israel. ......

The Israeli spy network embedded in our government is deeply burrowed into the neoconservative apparatus that lied us into war. Exhibit A: the Office of Special Plans. At least two Pentagon employees engaged in this cherry-picking "intelligence" unit set up by former assistant secretary of defense Douglas Feith were reportedly under investigation "on suspicion that one of them passed highly classified U.S. military information to the government of Israel, according to federal law enforcement officials." This was the outfit that promoted fraudster Ahmed Chalabi and utilized his phony "evidence" of Iraqi WMDs to goad the U.S. into war. Chalabi, it turned out, was passing U.S. secrets to Tehran – including the fact that the Americans had broken the Iranian code. Espionage surrounds the neocons like a cloud of smoke, and has for years. There's got to be some fire there.

What is striking about all this is the sheer size and ambitious scope of the Israeli underground in America. Pollard, Kadish, Rosen, Weissman, Franklin, that holder of "very senior security positions in the Clinton and Bush White Houses" – all worked in tandem with, and sometimes inside of, the aboveground Israel Lobby. These fifth columnists are bold to the point of brazenness and have operated relatively freely up until now. Their ability to cover their tracks – and cry "anti-Semitism" in answer to rude inquiries as to the treasonous nature of their activities – has so far served them well: their luck, however, may be running out, along with Uncle Sam's patience. "

Deepening crisis

Economic conditions in the West Bank as well as Gaza are deteriorating, leaving many incensed at the masquerade of peace talks

By Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
Al-Ahram Weekly

"As 1.5 million Gazans are crying out to the world to pressure Israel to lift its scandalously callous blockade of the coastal territory, another 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank are struggling to cope with an unprecedented economic crisis that is further impoverishing and exhausting them.

The crisis, the harshest in recent memory, stems from a host of local and global factors, including soaring food and energy prices, sagging currency value, rampant joblessness and draconian Israeli restrictions on the movement of people, goods and services........

To be sure, Palestinian frustration with the peace process is more than justified since that process has so far yielded no substantive outcome despite numerous talk sessions, highlighted meetings -- involving American, Israeli and Palestinian leaders -- as well as a number of peace conferences in the US and Europe.

This week, Henry Siegman, director of the US/Middle East Project in New York, underscored the bankruptcy and disingenuousness of the peace process. "What is required of statesmen is not more peace conferences or clever adjustments to previous peace formulations but the moral and political courage to end their collaboration with the massive hoax the peace process has been turned into," he said.

"Of course," he added, "Palestinian violence must be condemned and stopped, particularly when it targets civilians. But is it not utterly disingenuous to pretend that Israel's occupation -- maintained by Israel's army- manned checkpoint and barricades, helicopter gun-ships, jet fighters, targeted assassinations, and military incursions, not to speak of the massive theft of Palestinian lands -- is not an exercise in continuous and unrelenting violence against more than three million civilians? If Israel were to renounce violence, could the occupation last even one day?""

Can Bush attack again?

Though the balance of reason weighs against the US waging war on Iran, since when has the Bush administration appeared reasonable?

By Galal Nassar
Al-Ahram Weekly

"......Is a fourth war really slated for the Gulf or is it all part of an orchestrated pressure to compel Iran to capitulate to Western demands to halt its nuclear development programme? This article takes an in-depth look at the harbingers of war and the obstacles to war, obstacles that may ultimately gain the upper hand if reports that secret negotiations have been ongoing between Washington and Tehran for five years are anything to go by.......

DANGEROUS ECHOES: That said, since the Iranian agreement with the IAEA in July 2007 over inspections of its nuclear facilities the most dangerous threat to a peaceful solution resides in intelligence errors and strategic miscalculations on the part of both sides. US military leaders, for example, might reach the conclusion that they could destroy Tehran's military capacities, which would give impetus to the position of American hawks that a military solution leading to regime change is the only way to deal with the Iranian crisis. The Iranians, meanwhile, might be too complacent in their belief that the US is mired and on the verge of defeat in Iraq and that it could not summon the will or ability to wage another war. The current administration in the US is not one to shrink from considerable risk, not to say recklessness.

In sum, while US-Israeli threats should not be underestimated, the situation as it stands seems to favour the protraction of a state of no-war, no-peace. Overall, the factors against war seem to outweigh the factors propelling towards war. But since when has logic had the upper hand in determining the behaviour of the Bush administration? It is perhaps again the unknown quantity of Bush and his neo-con allies that, above all, feeds the spectre of Gulf War IV."

Remembering the past

Azmi Bishara identifies the most urgent challenges facing any renewal of Arab nationalist thought

Al-Ahram Weekly

"......What are the distinguishing features of Arab national thought?

First, it recognises the existence of an Arab national identity that has the right to sovereign national expression. Secondly, it holds that Arab national theory and the policies derived from it should be founded upon the higher collective interest of the whole, as opposed to only a part such as the sect, tribe or region.

While these points might suffice to distinguish Arab national thought from the bodies of thought that do not recognise Arab national identity they do not offer a sufficient platform for running a country. They cannot define a position on democracy, civil rights or education or healthcare policies. This is why early Arab nationalists had such divergent views on what constituted the most urgent concerns of their countries.

It is precisely for this reason that persons such as myself believe that democracy offers the best means for a nation to express its will, that the complementary side of sovereignty is the principle of equal citizenship and civil rights and that social rights, such as medical insurance, free education and labour rights are an integral part of nation-building. It is also for this reason that people of different outlooks and temperaments might translate the two distinguishing premises of Arab national thought into completely different outward expressions.

It is because of the outward expressions -- the regimes and movements -- that Arab national thought has taken that there is a need for renovation. Arab national thought fossilises when its proponents are marginalised from the political and social process and when the thought itself becomes no more than an ideological prop for a ruling regime.......

Renewed Arab national thought will have to settle, through practice, the question of democratic citizenship as organic to the state (as opposed to organic to the affiliation). When it does it will find that the way to Arab unity is not through the imposition of theory from above but through the exercise of grassroots democracy, as was the case with the European Union. Also, through practice and involvement with the people Arab liberals, who have been so frustrated by their marginalisation from politics and society to the extent of airing admiration for Israeli democracy, will find themselves not only ready to condemn the Israeli version of democracy as a colonialist model but will also be capable of appreciating the achievements of Arab nationalists and not just their flaws and failures.

When proponents of Arab national thought, democratically inclined and open-minded, deal directly with the needs of the people they will discover their own sources of strength. For example, they will discover that identity is not an airy theoretical concept but a pressing popular concern with tangible ramifications and that Arab identity, in contrast to sectarian and tribal identity, is one of the sources of the strength of the Arab national movement and its thought.......

The more recent such nationalist expressions the more adamantly they feel they must justify themselves. However, not every national ideology is justifiable and there is no reason why the democratic nationalist should not look favourably upon the alternative of living in a multinational democratic country. Yugoslavia, for example, could have become such a multinational democratic state instead of a series of bloodbaths and ethnic cleansings on the way to the establishment of several separate "democratic states". National purity as grounds for secession and as a condition for establishing an ostensibly democratic state is an almost certain road to massacres, ethnic transfer and the spread of totalitarian ideology.

When we speak of citizenship in Arab national thought we must recall that just as Arab nationalism is an imagined community seeking sovereign expression, there are non-Arab groups living in Arab countries. Not only must we recognise that the individual members of these groups should be endowed with full rights of citizenship but also we must recognise the collective rights of groups that continue to define themselves as non-Arab and that seek to express their national identity......"

'You become accustomed to the smell of blood during war'

As a witness to unbearable horror during his years in the Middle East, Robert fisk has – on occasion – been lost for words. But he believes that John Hoyland's artwork, capturing the brutality of conflict, is as eloquent as any journalist's article

By Robert Fisk

"......But John Hoyland's Blood and Flowers quite scrupulously directs our eyesight on to the bright, glittering centre of gore that we – be we photographers or writers – look at immediately we enter the centre of that little Golgotha which we wish to visit and of which we never wish to be a part: the hospital. Blood is not essentially terrible. It is about life. But it smells. Stay in a hospital during a war and you will become accustomed to the chemical smell of blood. It is quite normal. Doctors and nurses are used to it. So am I. But when I smell it in war, it becomes an obscenity.

I remember how Condoleezza Rice, when she was Secretary of State, visited Lebanon at the height of the war – at the apogee of the casualties – and said that the birth of democracy could be bloody. Well, yes indeed. The midwifery was a fearful business. Lots of blood. Huge amid the hospitals. God spare us Ms Rice's hospital delivery rooms.......

I have to admit that I have a few worries about art and war. Can a painter who has never experienced war really understand the nature of the vile beast? Most of Britain's First World War artists were in France, but that does not apply to Iraq. When I saw wild beasts – the desert dogs – tearing apart the corpses of men, women and children in southern Iraq (killed by the United States Air Force and, yes, by the RAF, whose pilots – God bless them – refused to go on killing the innocent) and running off across the sand with fingers and arms and legs, there was no art form to convey this horror. Film would have been a horror movie, paintings an obscenity. Maybe only photographs – undoctored – can tell you what we see......

When the Americans entered Baghdad in April 2003, I ran into the main teaching hospital in Baghdad to find a scene of Crimean war proportions. Men holding amputated hands, soldiers screaming for their mothers as their skin burned, a man without an eye, a ribbon of bandage allowing a trail of blood to run from his empty socket. Blood overflowed my shoes. I guess it's at times like this that we need John Hoyland."

Orwell prize goes to lament for Palestinian landscape

The Guardian

"Britain's most prestigious award for political writing, the Orwell book prize, has been won by Raja Shehadeh's Palestinian Walks, a victory further distinguished by such strong competition that the judges felt the need to extend this year's shortlist.

The subtitle of Shehadeh's book is Notes on a Vanishing Landscape, and it describes how over 40 years the West Bank he loves has been steadily taken over by Israeli settlements, and how the destruction of a beloved landscape mirrors the damage to Palestinian identity. Judges praised its combination of lyrical nature writing with understated political passion.

The chair of the prize, Professor Jean Seaton, saluted Shehadeh's command of detail.
"One way of measuring the quality of your freedom is just to take a walk," she said. "Raja Shehadeh's book records how brutalising the loss of a landscape is, both to the losers, and to the takers: there are no winners. Palestinian Walks is a stoic account of a particular place, but one which - like many of Orwell's own works - has universal resonance. The judges felt it made landscape into the essence of politics, and political writing into an art."......"

Israelis shot dead near West Bank

"Two Israeli security guards have been shot dead in a factory on the border between Israel and the West Bank, the Israeli military said.

Medics pronounced the two guards dead at the scene on Friday, and troops began searching the surrounding Netzanei Oz industrial zone - close to the West Bank town of Tulkarem - for the assailant.
"A Palestinian shot dead two guards at the security-check area at the entrance to the industrial zone," a military spokeswoman said......."

Activists make last-ditch effort to save orphans from Israeli state terror

One of the seized buildings in Hebron
From Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Hebron

"Palestinian leaders and Christian peace activists as well as representatives of human rights organizations operating in the occupied Palestinian territories on Thursday made an impassioned appeal to “all men and women of conscience all over the world” to help stop Israeli army plans to close down and take over several orphanages and boarding schools sheltering thousands of orphans and impoverished students. Many of the orphans’ parents had been killed by the Israeli army and paramilitary Jewish terrorists, also known as “settlers.”

The Israeli army accuses the Islamic Charitable Society, the largest and oldest in occupied Palestine, of teaching school children “radical ideas.” However, the Charity lawyer Muhammed Farrah dismisses the charges as “a big canard and a blatant lie.” “We have challenged them to produce a shred of evidence proving their claims. And so far they have failed to prove any of their allegations.”

Art Arbor, a Christian Peace-maker Team (CPT) member spoke at the beginning of the press conference, saying he was pretty sure that Israeli charges against the Hebron Charity were “baseless.”......

Nago Humbert, Head of the Swiss Medecins du Mond Agency, lashed out at the immense brutality and savagery being inflicted on the Palestinian people by the Israeli state and army.“Closure of schools, storming orphanages in the dead of night, destroying bakeries, confiscating food and clothes, throwing orphan kids onto the street…What is happening here? What is the lasting image Israel is going to leave in the minds of these kids when they grow up?”

Humbert, who spoke in French, said he couldn’t really understand what the Israeli army’s ultimate goal by acting in this manner.” “How can we teach Palestinian children non-violence when Israel is doing to them all this, when Israeli soldiers are throwing kids from their orphanages onto the streets. Israel is destroying all our efforts.”......

Two representatives from President Jimmy “Carter’s Center” in Ramallah also showed up at the press conference and one of them delivered a statement from the former US President. The statement urged the Israeli government to rescind military orders to shut down and expropriate school buildings, orphanages and supporting businesses.

Far from being fazed by nonviolent protests against its draconian measures in Hebron, the Israeli army last week stormed a bakery owned by the Islamic Charitable Society, seizing ovens and other equipments used to provide bread for thousands of orphans and needy students......

It is enough to claim that a given institution is associated with Hamas to destroy that institution. This is very much like Nazi Germany behaved toward political opponents prior to the Second World War,” said Muhammed Hirbawi, a Hebron civic leader. Hirbawi said the Israeli occupation army was acting as a policeman, a plaintiff, a General Prosecutor and a judge combined.....

The Israeli army has not given really convincing reasons for its brutal onslaught against the Hebron charities. However, Israeli officials are saying privately at least that Israel is doing what the Western-backed Palestinian Authority wants. Last month, an Israeli government official was quoted by the Israeli radio as saying that “what we are doing in Hebron is in the interest of (PA Chairman Mahmoud) Abbas.”....."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Iran backs Iraq’s crackdown on ‘armed groups’

Tehran Times

Contributed by Anders

"KUWAIT CITY (AFP) -- Iran said on Tuesday that it backs the Iraqi government’s crackdown on armed groups and denied accusations of assisting militias in the war-battered nation.

“There are armed groups in Iraq. A firm measure must be applied to disarm all these groups, without any exception,” Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki told a press conference in Kuwait.
“Weapons should be only in the hands of the Iraqi army [which is made up mostly of the Iran-formed, armed and trained Badr Brigade],” said Mottaki, who took part in a key conference of foreign ministers of Iraq’s neighbors and Western powers.

Iraqi security forces have launched a crackdown against the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the southern oil city of Basra and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed to disarm all illegal groups.

Mottaki denied accusations that Shiite Iran was assisting Shiite militias in Basra and interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs.

“The ones who should be blamed are the foreign forces in Iraq,” he said.

The Islamic Republic of Iran provides the strongest support to the Iraqi government and the political process and thus it is illogical to accuse us of supporting terrorist groups there,” Mottaki said. "


Iran is trying so hard to please the Great Satan at the expense of the Iraqis. I think that Iran is trying to be too clever and to have its cake and eat it too. How can it so openly support a most corrupt puppet government installed and kept in power by the US occupation and which has no political legitimacy or support among Iraqis?

This relationship with the Great Satan has become so scandalous, that Iran can't just gloss over it. How can Iran support Hizbullah in Lebanon which fought the Israeli occupation while supporting the US occupation in Iraq by supporting the Maliki puppet?

How about some principles and consistency, Tehran? Is this too much to ask? I think that by this crooked policy Iran will lose a lot of support among Arabs, including ordinary Iraqis. What kind of Islamic "revolution" is this that keeps corrupt US lackeys in power, at the expense of the Iraqi people? And Tehran supports the US and British bombing of Basra and Sadr City which has killed thousands already?? What is going on here??

Entry denied

By Abir Sarras

"In the early hours of Monday morning, 21 April, journalist Abir Sarras was denied entry into Israel by border guards at the international airport in Tel Aviv. She was detained in a jail cell for several hours before being put on a plane back to the Netherlands. Her intention was to document stories about the 60-year history of the state of Israel. Instead, she is back home, at Radio Netherlands Worldwide, and now has a very different story to tell.
A sigh of relief and a feeling of homecoming overcame me. It was 3 am when the plane touched down at Ben Gurion airport, whose white stone buildings are surrounded by palm trees as if they were guarding the premises. At the passport control I presented my Dutch passport. With an uncomfortable glimpse the young lady behind the desk asked why I was born in Jerusalem. "Wait on the side", I was told.

Minutes later, she escorted me to the waiting room. After a short talk with another security agent, I was told that I would not be allowed to enter Israel via the airport because I had a Palestinian passport.

"According to the Oslo Accords, Palestinians are only allowed to enter from Allenby bridge".

I protested......"

Breaking the Silence - Israeli Soldiers Speak

by Stephen Lendman

Global Research, April 24, 2008

".....Israel must no longer be exempted from international law, from being allowed to flaunt it brazenly, from ignoring over five dozen UN Resolutions going back decades. Peace activists and refuseniks condemn the Jewish state for its actions, deplore it for committing them, and demand, call on and insist Israeli governments end them. Its lawlessness must end, and collective resistance can achieve it. It's no longer an option. It's an obligation to assure that everyone has equal dignity and the right to life, liberty, security and freedom under universal international law.

May 14 is the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding. Commemorations there and in the West will celebrate it. People of conscience won't participate. Refuseniks may not either. Use this time to demand an illegal occupation end and that Israel no longer be allowed a pass on the international law it disdains."

Real News Video: Understanding Muqtada al-Sadr

"Pepe Escobar continues his interview with Patrick Cockburn, author of the seminal book Muqtada

Thursday April 24th, 2008

Cockburn talks to The Real News Analyst Pepe Escobar about the disconnect between the reality of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's resistance to the US occupation and the picture being painted in the media, and in the halls of Washington. He argues that the US underestimated the strength of Iraqi nationalism when it invaded Iraq, causing US military commanders to follow a wayward path in their efforts to occupy the country. Cockburn also talks about the seemingly improbable "power sharing" going on in Iraq between the US and Iran, as evidenced by the recent ceasefire between Iraqi troops and Sadr's Mehdi Army, a ceasefire that was brokered by Iran."

Real News Video: Israel gives Gaza a fuel reprieve

Enough Marches and Protests, Hamas! Storm the Damn Rafah Crossing, Now!

Hamas calls for popular revolt at Rafah on Friday

"GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement called for a popular revolt at the Rafah border crossing at noon Friday in protest at the Israeli siege which prevents the entry of minimum basics of life to Gaza.

Ashraf Abu Daya, the spokesman for the popular action of Hamas, said the Palestinian masses will be marching at noon towards the crossings of Beit Hanoun and Rafah, pointing out that these angry marches will be a message to everyone to move urgently to put an end to this unjust siege which became intolerable.

In a related context, the Mizan center for human rights appealed Wednesday to the international community to intervene urgently and swiftly to rescue the besieged Gaza Strip from a serious humanitarian disaster.

In a statement received by the PIC, the center underlined that the Israeli siege paralyzed most of the public utilities and private businesses including the education, health and transportation sectors in Gaza and it also affected governmental and non-governmental institutions especially the UNRWA.

The statement highlighted that the gradual escalation of the fuel crisis, which began dramatically to affect all aspects of life, raised worries that this crisis would cause more serious violations against the civilians, especially since this crisis came at a time while Gaza suffers from an acute shortage of different supplies including the minimum basic needs."

Olmert is Willing to Pull Out of Golan; at What Price?


"24/04/2008 Syrian President Bashar Assad told Qatari newspaper al-Watan that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has expressed willingness to cede the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria.
In the interview published Thursday, Assad said that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, who's mediating between Israel and Syria, has informed him of "Israel's willingness to pull out from the Golan in exchange for peace with Syria."
The Syrian president also elaborated on the negotiations with Israel brokered by Turkey. "The attempts to mediate between Damascus and Tel Aviv have increased since the aggression against Lebanon in the summer of 2006 and after the triumph of the resistance. "However, Turkey became involved about a year ago, in April 2007. This involvement yielded positive results, and Olmert stressed to the Turkish prime minister his willingness to return the Golan." According to Assad, Erdogan conveyed to him the Israeli message about a week ago.

The Jerusalem Post quoted western diplomatic officials as saying that Israel made clear that any peace agreement would necessitate Syria ending its support for Hamas and throwing Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal out of Damascus; ceasing support for Hezbollah; and distancing itself from Iran.
"We want peace with the Syrians, and they know what we expect from them," Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev

"Olmert is ready for peace with Syria on the grounds of international conditions; on the grounds of the return of the Golan Heights in full to Syria," Syrian Expatriates Minister Buthaina Shaaban told Al-Jazeera television.

In an interview to Yediot Aharonot over the weekend, Olmert was asked whether he was willing to stand by the "deposit" given by former prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak to Assad's father, Hafez Assad, that Israel would eventually withdraw from the Golan in return for peace. "What I can say is that I'm very interested in peace with the Syrians, I'm working on it, and I hope my efforts will ripen into significant progress. I promise that in issues between us and Syria, they know what I want from them, and I know well what they want from us," Olmert said. "

Mixed Priorities: Why Palestinian Unity is Not an Option

A Good Article

By Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle

"Just days after the Hamas-Fatah clash last June in Gaza, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas looked firm and composed as he shook hands with members of his new emergency government. He made sure his move appeared as legitimate as possible, issuing decrees that outlawed the armed militias of Hamas, and also suspended consequential clauses in the Palestinian Basic Law, which had thus far served as a constitution.

The Basic Law stipulates that the Palestinian parliament must approve of any government for it to be constitutional. Abbas simply decreed that such a clause was no longer valid, effectively robbing Palestinians of one of their greatest collective achievements — democracy......

As for Abbas and his ministers, they knew too well that the newfound American-Israeli fondness for them was conditional........ Rather than rejecting the role of the stooges, Abbas’ cabinet ministers played along.....

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad reportedly said it was “the largest sum of assistance of any kind to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority by any donor in one tranche since the Palestinian Authority’s inception (in 1994).” Heart-rending indeed, Mr Fayyad, but one must wonder how much of the money will go to feed the starving in Gaza, or rehabilitate the refugee camps of the West Bank?

While such noble efforts by the UN’s John Dugard, former US President Jimmy Carter and Bishop Desmond Tutu have brought much needed attention to the plight of Palestinians and Gazans in particular, PA officials are too busy attending donor’s conferences and issuing empty statements which few even bother to read. They act as if they are a neutral party caught in the middle of religious fanatics and Israel. Their fight no longer seems even remotely related to Palestine or its people. These are hardly the qualities of any liberation movement or leadership anywhere, in any period of history, recent or otherwise. Neither Abbas nor Fayyad are likely to be the exception."

The Choice of Non-violence: Our Strategy for Palestine

By Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi

".....The Palestinian struggle to achieve freedom and independence is therefore firstly a struggle to exist as a people. In this endeavour, resistance is essential. Resistance through memory, resistance through unwavering demands for their rights, resistance against open or covert attempts to displace them and take their land from them.

But what sort of resistance?

Armed resistance to occupation is legitimate and legal under international law, under the strict condition that it does not target civilians. But as someone who truly believes in the sanctity of human life, and as a doctor who always puts human life first, I have an inherent belief that non-violence is a fundamental philosophical choice......."

Yinon's Prophecy: Is the US Waging Israel's Wars?

By Linda S. Heard
Palestine Chronicle

"Many throughout the Muslim world and beyond are asking this question: What are the real reasons behind the US invasion of Iraq and its wish to overthrow the governments of Syria and Iran?

For all their grandiose posturing, in truth, Iraq, Syria and Iran have never posed a direct threat to the US mainland. Put simply, they're too far away from the neighbourhood. So why would the US be willing to expend so many human lives and so much treasury on changing the regimes of countries it doesn't like?......

A premise, which many in the Arab world believe, should also be dissected. Is the US manipulating and remoulding the area so that Israel can remain the only regional superpower in perpetuity?

This is not as fanciful as one might imagine on first glance. Read the following strangely prophetic segment from an article published in 1982 by the World Zionist Organisation's publication Kivunim and penned by Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist with links to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Yinon's strategy was based on this premise. In order to survive Israel must become an imperial regional power and must also ensure the break-up of all Arab countries so that the region may be carved up into small ineffectual states unequipped to stand up to Israeli military might. Here's what he had to say on Iraq:

"The dissolution of Syria and Iraq into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon is Israel's primary target on the Eastern front. Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel's targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run, it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel.

"An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and Lebanon.

"In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul and Shiite areas in the South will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north."

Sound familiar?........

There is one thing that we do know. Oded Yinon's 1982 "Zionist Plan for the Middle East" is in large part taking shape. Is this pure coincidence? Was Yinon a gifted psychic? Perhaps! Alternatively, we in the West are victims of a long-held agenda not of our making and without doubt not in our interests."

Here is the link to Oded Yinon's 1982 "Zionist Plan for the Middle East"

Food, drugs run short in Sadr City, Red Cross says

"BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Weeks of fighting in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood have destroyed the main market and isolated civilians from supplies of food and water, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned Wednesday.

In addition, several hospitals in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood have run out of basic medical supplies, including anesthesia and dressings, the Red Cross said.

The Red Cross said Sadr City's largest market, al-Jamila, "used to provide enough supplies to cover everyday needs" before it was destroyed in the recent fighting.

"People are now short of food, especially as prices of fresh vegetables have increased considerably," it said......"

New Egyptian Law Tightens Noose Around Freedom

by Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO - Egypt's parliament ratified legislation earlier this month outlawing public demonstrations in or near religious establishments. While government officials say the move is meant to preserve the inviolability of Egypt's mosques and churches, critics say the new law aims to further stifle freedom of expression.

"The goal of the new law is obvious: to stop people from holding political protests," Mohammed Abdel Qaddous, a prominent member of the Muslim Brotherhood opposition movement and head of the Freedoms Committee at the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate, told IPS. "The move is entirely in keeping with the behavior of a police state."......"

Petraeus Promotion Frees Cheney to Threaten Iran

by Gareth Porter

"The nomination of Gen. David Petraeus to be the new head of the Central Command not only ensures that he will be available to defend the George W. Bush administration's policies toward Iran and Iraq at least through the end of Bush's term and possibly even beyond.

It also gives Vice President Dick Cheney greater freedom of action to exploit the option of an air attack against Iran during the administration's final months.

Petraeus will take up the CENTCOM post in late summer or early fall, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The ability of the administration to threaten Iran with an attack both publicly and behind the scenes had been dramatically reduced in 2007 by opposition from the former CENTCOM commander, Adm. William Fallon, until he stepped down from the post under pressure from Gates and the White House last month......

Petraeus has become the primary administration spokesman for the argument holding Iran primarily responsible for the Shi'ite military resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Petraeus and his staff developed the idea in early 2007 that Iran was using so-called "special groups" of renegade Mahdi Army fighters to wage a proxy war against U.S. forces.

In his testimony before congressional committees earlier this month, Petraeus declared that what he called the "special groups" allegedly organized and manipulated by Iran "pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq.""

Iraq's gift to Latin America

Distracted by the Iraq war, the United States is ignoring a growing socialist hegemony in Latin America which once it would have swiftly countered

By Stephen Kinzer
(Author of Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq)
The Guardian

"Trying to figure out who won the Iraq war is a challenging parlour game. Nearly every faction, group and nation has lost. The only evident victors are Iran, the Kurds and a handful of giant American corporations.

It is slowly becoming clear, however, that there is another winner: Latin America. With the United States so totally consumed by the Iraq conflict, it has no time, energy or political capital to crack down on challenges south of the Rio Grande. Sensing their historic chance, many Latin nations have embarked on experiments that the US would in past eras have instantly stepped in to crush.

The independence that many Latin American countries have shown in the last five years borders on outright defiance of US power. Yet to a degree unprecedented in modern history, Washington is allowing them to do as they please.......

Many voters in the US were horrified when senator John McCain suggested that the occupation of Iraq might last for another century. Latin Americans, however, could be forgiven for liking the idea. The last five years have shown them that the more fully the US sinks into its Middle East quagmire, the more freedom they will have to chart their own futures. "

Fuel shortage forces UN to halt Gaza food aid

Rory McCarthy in Gaza City, Wednesday April 23 2008

"The UN is to halt food handouts for up to 800,000 Palestinians from tomorrow because of a severe fuel shortage in Gaza brought on by an Israeli economic blockade.

John Ging, the director of operations in Gaza for the UN Relief and Works Agency, which supports Palestinian refugees, said there had been a "totally inadequate" supply of fuel from Israel to Gaza for 10 months until it was finally halted two weeks ago. "The devastating humanitarian impact is entirely predictable," he said.

A shortage of diesel and petrol means UN food assistance to 650,000 Palestinian refugees will stop tomorrow, and aid from the World Food Programme for another 127,000 Palestinians due in the coming days will also be halted.

"The collective punishment of the population of Gaza, which has been instituted for months now, has failed," said Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East......."