Saturday, May 3, 2008

Al-Jazeera Video: Ghost town Mogadishu - 03 May 08

"Islamic fighters battling the Somali government have promised revenge attacks after a US airstrike killed one of their top commanders. They have also warned foreigners to stay away from the country and say they could now pullout of UN-sponsored peace talks due to start a week from now. Al Jazeera has obtained exclusive pictures from the capital, Mogadishu. Yvonne Ndege reports. "

Manufacturing Consent to Attack Iran: United States is drawing up plans to strike on Iranian insurgency camp

Times Online

"The US military is drawing up plans for a “surgical strike” against an insurgent training camp inside Iran if Republican Guards continue with attempts to destabilise Iraq, western intelligence sources said last week. One source said the Americans were growing increasingly angry at the involvement of the Guards’ special-operations Quds force inside Iraq, training Shi’ite militias and smuggling weapons into the country.

Despite a belligerent stance by Vice-President Dick Cheney, the administration has put plans for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities on the back burner since Robert Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld as defence secretary in 2006, the sources said.

However, US commanders are increasingly concerned by Iranian interference in Iraq and are determined that recent successes by joint Iraqi and US forces in the southern port city of Basra should not be reversed by the Quds Force.

If the situation in Basra goes back to what it was like before, America is likely to blame Iran and carry out a surgical strike on a militant training camp across the border in Khuzestan,” said one source, referring to a frontier province.

They acknowledged Iran was unlikely to cease involvement in Iraq and that, however limited a US attack might be, the fighting could escalate......."

No, This is Not Gaza; it is Sadr City!...... US rocket attack damages Baghdad hospital

A wounded boy arrives at a hospital in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq on Saturday, May 3, 2008. More than 100 people were wounded in clashes Friday and Saturday in Baghdad's embattled Sadr City district, Iraqi health officials said. A U.S. helicopter on Saturday allegedly fired a missile at a target some 50 meters away (yards) from the general hospital in Sadr City, wounding about 28 people and damaging at least seven ambulances, hospital officials said.(AP Photo)

A boy examines an ambulance destroyed in an apparent U.S. airstrike in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq on Saturday, May 3, 2008. More than 100 people were also wounded in clashes Friday and Saturday in Baghdad's embattled Sadr City district, Iraqi health officials said. A U.S. helicopter on Saturday allegedly fired a missile at a target some 50 meters away (yards) from the general hospital in Sadr City, wounding about 28 people and damaging at least seven ambulances, hospital officials said.(AP Photo)

A man examines an ambulance destroyed in an apparent U.S. airstrike in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq on Saturday, May 3, 2008. More than 100 people were also wounded in clashes Friday and Saturday in Baghdad's embattled Sadr City district, Iraqi health officials said. A U.S. helicopter on Saturday allegedly fired a missile at a target some 50 meters away (yards) from the general hospital in Sadr City, wounding about 28 people and damaging at least seven ambulances, hospital officials said.(AP Photo)

"BAGHDAD (AFP) - A US rocket attack damaged a hospital in the Iraqi capital's violent Shiite stronghold of Sadr City on Saturday, wounding 28 people as American forces claimed to have killed 14 militants in the district.

The US military said it used a rocket system in an attack on militants in Sadr City that witnesses earlier reported was an air strike.

An AFP reporter at the scene said the district's main Al-Sadr hospital was badly damaged and a fleet of ambulances was destroyed.

Just outside the hospital, a shack which appeared to have been the target was reduced to a pile of rubble.

The military said it destroyed a "criminal element command and control centre" by munitions from a "rocket system" at approximately 10 am (0700 GMT)........

Hospital staff said at least 28 people wounded in the strike were brought inside for treatment at the complex which had its windows shattered and medical and electrical equipment damaged.

Medical staff and other hospital workers were livid.

"They (the Americans) will say it was a weapons cache" that was hit, said the head of the Baghdad health department, Dr Ali Bistan, who arrived to assess the damage.

"But in fact they want to destroy the infrastructure of the country."

He charged that the attack was aimed at preventing doctors and medicines from reaching the hospital which is in an area that has seen increased clashes between American troops and militiamen loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.[The US military occupation did exactly the same thing during the attacks on Fallujah when it bombed the Fallujah hospital]

The hospital corridors were littered with glass shards, twisted metal and hanging electrical wiring. Partitions in wards had collapsed.

Huge concrete blocks placed to form a blast wall against explosions had toppled onto parked vehicles, including up to 17 ambulances, disabling emergency response teams......."

The Bitch is Back, Again! Head to The Bomb Shelter (if you have one)

Rice arrives in Israel to review how Israel, PA keep promises

"U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Saturday urged Israel not to undercut Palestinian security forces as they deploy in the West Bank and questioned if its promises to remove roadblocks had been kept.

Speaking to reporters as she began a two-day visit to the Middle East to try to speed up Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Rice said she planned to review whether Israel had taken steps on the ground to make life easier for Palestinians.

She also plans to assess the extent to which the Palestinians have honored their own commitments, which include cracking down on militants that launch attacks on Israel......."

Did He Forget That The Pharaoh Has No Balls?

Agha calls on Cairo to supply Gaza with fuel through Rafah crossing

"GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mohammed Ramadan Al-Agha, the minister of agriculture in the PA caretaker government in Gaza, has called on the Egyptian government to open the Rafah border terminal and to supply Gaza with fuel, especially gas.

Agha in a statement on Saturday said that Egyptian gas should be supplied to Gaza instead of Israel.

The minister said that he held many contacts with Arab energy ministers on providing Gaza with fuel, and pointed out that the most affected sectors, due to the fuel shortage, were those of agriculture and fishing."

Al-Jazeera Video: Sami Al Hajj returns to Sudan - 02 May 08

"Sami Al Hajj, a cameraman for Al Jazeera, had not tasted freedom since 2001.

But now he is in his homeland Sudan after spending six years at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was held without charge or trial.

The frail and sick looking man was delivered to Sudanese authorities in Khartoum. There he had an emotional reunion with his family as he arrived at hospital.

Amr Al-Kahky, who worked with al Hajj before his imprisonement, went to meet him and sent this report from Khartoum. "

By Hamed Najeeb

At Last, Al-Jazeera Reporter Sami Al-Hajj is Free!
By Baha Boukhari

Iran backs Iraq’s crackdown on lawbreakers: report

Tehran Times

"TEHRAN -- Iranian Ambassador to Baghdad Hassan Kazemi-Qomi has reiterated that Tehran supports a crackdown on lawbreakers and illegal armed groups by the Iraqi government.

Iran Supports serious confrontation of the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki with lawbreakers and (illegally) armed groups,” Kazemi-Qomi said in an interview with Asharq Alawsat newspaper released on Thursday.

Tehran supports the actions that the Iraqi government is taking to establish security in Iraq, the newspaper quoted the ambassador as saying.

Asked if Tehran supports efforts by the central government to disarm the Mahdi Army, Kazemi-Qomi said Iran likes to see the issue revolved through national dialogue and constitutionally.

The ambassador added supporting the Iraqi government is one of Iran’s foreign policy priorities[It is also the priority of the US occupation; what a coincidence??]......."

الغاز المصري يؤمن خمس احتياجات اسرائيل من الكهرباء. وغزة بلا وقود

بدأ بالتدفق علي تل ابيب وأسدود وسط استياء شعبي في مصر.. وصاحب الصفقة الـمقرب من مبارك يبيع حصته

الغاز المصري يؤمن خمس احتياجات اسرائيل من الكهرباء. وغزة بلا وقود

"القاهرة ـ لندن ـ القدس العربي :
بدأ الغاز الطبيعي المصري في التدفق علي محطتي توليد الكهرباء في تل ابيب واسدود تنفيذا لصفقة مثيرة للجدل بين شركة مملوكة لحسين سالم رجل الاعمال المصري المقرب من الرئيس حسني مبارك، ورجل الاعمال الاسرائيلي يوسف ميمان.
وبموجب الصفقة التي بقيت غامضة حتي الآن ستزود مصر اسرائيل بـ107 مليار متر مكعب من الغاز سنويا لمدة عشرين عاما قابلة للتجديد، ما يعني ان خمس الكهرباء المولدة في اسرائيل خلال العقد المقبل ستأتي من الغاز المصري.
ويجيء بدء تدفق الغاز المصري علي اسرائيل بعد ايام قليلة من اعلان وكالة غوث اللاجئين التابعة للامم المتحدة (اونروا) وقف عملها في قطاع غزة بسبب نقص الوقود.
وكانت محطة توليد الكهرباء في غزة اوشكت علي التوقف عن العمل الاسبوع الماضي بسبب نفاد الوقود، قبل ان تتدخل الحكومة المصرية لدي اسرائيل لتزويد المحطة بالوقود.
واثارت صفقة الغاز المصرية لاسرائيل جدلا واسعا في الاوساط السياسية بالقاهرة، نظرا لرفض الحكومة الكشف عن السعر التفضيلي الذي تبيع به الغاز لاسرائيل.
وبررت الحكومة موقفها بأن الصفقة تمت بين شركتي قطاع خاص ، وان الاعلان عن السعر امر يخصهما.
الا ان نوابا في البرلمان المصري اكدوا ان الحكومة اعطت اسرائيل عرضا يقل كثيرا عن السعر العالمي للغاز، وان الفارق كان يمكن ان يوفر نحو عشرة مليارات دولار سنويا للخزينة المصرية.
ونقلت صحيفة المصري اليوم عن رجل الاعمال حسين سالم المعروف بصداقته الشخصية للرئيس مبارك ونجليه انه باع حصته من شركة شرق المتوسط التي عقدت الصفقة مع اسرائيل لشركتين امريكية وتايلندية، الا انه رفض ذكر اسميهما.
واشارت تقارير صحافية الي ان الشركة المصرية وفرت حماية امنية لأنبوب الغاز الذي يمر قرب العريش، ودفعت اموالا لشيوخ العشائر المسيطرين علي المناطق التي يسلكها والتي تم اختيارها بحيث تكون بعيدة عن التجمعات السكنية.
وفي تصريحات خاصة لـ القدس العربي أشار عبد الوهاب المسيري منسق حركة كفاية الي ان تصدير الغاز لاسرائيل لا يخدم الا مصالح الجيش الاسرائيلي والذي يقوم بدك القري والمدن الفلسطينية بالصواريخ وسط صمت عربي مهين.
وانتقد اصرار النظام المصري علي المضي قدماً في تنفيذ اتفاقية تصدير الغاز لتل أبيب بينما الواقع الراهن للقضية الفلسطينية بالغ السوء وكان من الممكن الضغط علي الحكومة الاسرائيلية علي الأقل من أجل رفع الحصار الظالم عن الفلسطينيين
..... ......"

Secret Bush "Finding" Widens War on Iran

Democrats Okay Funds for Covert Ops


".....Bush’s secret directive covers actions across a huge geographic area – from Lebanon to Afghanistan – but is also far more sweeping in the type of actions permitted under its guidelines – up to and including the assassination of targeted officials. This widened scope clears the way, for example, for full support for the military arm of Mujahedin-e Khalq, the cultish Iranian opposition group, despite its enduring position on the State Department's list of terrorist groups.

Similarly, covert funds can now flow without restriction to Jundullah, or "army of god," the militant Sunni group in Iranian Baluchistan – just across the Afghan border -- whose leader was featured not long ago on Dan Rather Reports cutting his brother in law's throat.

Other elements that will benefit from U.S. largesse and advice include Iranian Kurdish nationalists, as well the Ahwazi arabs of south west Iran. Further afield, operations against Iran's Hezbollah allies in Lebanon will be stepped up, along with efforts to destabilize the Syrian regime......

Until recently, the administration faced a serious obstacle to action against Iran in the form of Centcom commander Admiral William Fallon, who made no secret of his contempt for official determination to take us to war. In a widely publicized incident last January, Iranian patrol boats approached a U.S. ship in what the Pentagon described as a "taunting" manner. According to Centcom staff officers, the American commander on the spot was about to open fire. At that point, the U.S. was close to war. He desisted only when Fallon personally and explicitly ordered him not to shoot. The White House, according to the staff officers, was "absolutely furious" with Fallon for defusing the incident.

Fallon has since departed. His abrupt resignation in early March followed the publication of his unvarnished views on our policy of confrontation with Iran, something that is unlikely to happen to his replacement, George Bush's favorite general, David Petraeus......."

Is Sadr City Becoming the Next Gaza?

Misery Under Siege


"......In an area only half the size of Manhattan, bombs have been dropped from U.S. warplanes, Predator Hellfire missiles fired and Apache attack helicopters dispatched. Yet the heart of Sadr City remains unpenetrated and only its southern outskirts precariously held. The difficulties of street warfare and a recent sandstorm – considered divine intervention by some – have hampered efforts to make further gains. The U.S. is now in the process of erecting a two-mile concrete wall which will separate the southern quarter’s Thawra and Jamila districts from the rest of the city. Apparently, what cannot be defeated will be imprisoned.

As is custom in conflicts where civilians frequently pay the ultimate price, the U.S. has resorted to the classic Israeli defense of blaming the victims. A Associated Press photo showing two-year-old Ali Hussein being pulled from the rubble of his home after it was destroyed by U.S. missiles (he later died in the hospital) caused military spokesman Lt. Col. Steve Stover to comment, “The sole burden of responsibility lies on the shoulders of the militants who care nothing for the Iraqi people."

Lost in the coverage of this conflict has been the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Sadr City. On April 23rd, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that the fighting has isolated civilians from food and water supplies and caused hospitals to run out of basic necessities such as dressings and anesthesia. They continue to transport 10,000 liters of drinking water daily to the area.......

Sadr City and Gaza are starting to look more and more alike and their inhabitants have much in common with one another. Both live in densely-populated, poverty-stricken areas where food, clean water, fuel and medical supplies get harder to come by as life under siege takes its inevitable toll; both are reeling from Israeli and American military strikes killing scores of civilians in their midst. Al-Sadr’s eight-month ceasefire is in jeopardy of being rescinded while Hamas’ offer for one was quickly rejected.

Of all the unmitigated disasters the occupation of Iraq has wrought and of all the comparisons made to other foreign misadventures, the U.S. siege of Sadr City and its unfortunate similarity to the Israeli siege of Gaza is certainly one of the most damning. "

A strangled people

The bold claims about Middle East peace from London ring hollow in the empty streets of Gaza

Sami Abdel-Shafi in Gaza City
The Guardian, Saturday May 3 2008

"......That feeling of strangeness continued as I read the statement delivered by the Quartet in London yesterday. The four powers mediating in the Middle East - the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia - spoke of "deep concern" and demanded "concrete steps by both sides". There was no sense, however, that they had properly grasped the depth of Gaza's plight or the realities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. World politics seems to have morphed into a diplomacy of denial - a denial of how much more firm the international community must be towards the cause of an occupied and dying people.

This diplomacy of denial only gives succour to Israel's urge to exercise its will over Palestinians, and over besieged Gazans particularly. Israel's cabinet seeks to play God over Gaza by bluntly controlling every facet of civilian life. Tearing up the West Bank presents a threat of similarly terrible consequences. Israel's separation barrier and hundreds of checkpoints threaten to create numerous smaller Gazas in the West Bank. The villages and cities that are becoming increasingly isolated and economically strangled today could become hotspots of desperation and violence tomorrow.

Last week in Gaza, Israel not only continued depriving the people of fuel and cooking gas, it held back supplies to UN agencies such as Unrwa - the agency devoted to the health, education, food supplies and more of Gaza's poor and deprived population. In hindering the operations of the UN, Israel was hindering the Quartet, of which the UN is a part.

Israel's current policies are slowly expelling Palestinians from their land and pushing those who remain into indignity, desperation and extremism. The word "siege" no longer seems adequate to describe what is being done to Gaza. The territory's 1.5 million people have been thrust into a humanitarian catastrophe. It has become a nonsense to speak of peace negotiations while Israel creates more injustices on the ground in the West Bank and East Jerusalem........"

From the New FOX News, Formerly Known as Al-Jazeera: Iraq hospital 'damaged by US raid'

"At least 28 people have been wounded after a hospital in Baghdad's Sadr City district, a stronghold of Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, was damaged in what witnesses described as a US air strike.

A medic at the al-Sadr hospital said women and children were among the wounded in the raid, which an Iraqi security official said took place at around 10am local time (0700 GMT) on Saturday.

The US military confirmed the attack but said it targeted "known criminal elements" [Notice that the New FOX does not call it US occupation any longer. Also, in the spirit of being "fair and balanced," FOX gives equal weight to the US military, rather than investigate the story and report the facts].

"I can confirm that we conducted a strike in Sadr City this morning. The targets were known criminal elements. Battle damage assessment is currently ongoing," a US military spokesman said........"

Partners in Crime: The IOF and Abbas

Report: PA security kidnapped 80 Palestinians in April

"GAZA, (PIC)-- A report issued by the Hamas information office stated that the PA security apparatuses within the context of security coordination with Israel kidnapped 80 Palestinians affiliated with Hamas in the West Bank in April.

Regarding the Israeli aggression on the Palestinian people during the same month, the IOF troops killed 79 Palestinians including 18 children, 75 of the victims were killed in the Gaza Strip, according to the report......."

IOF kidnaps 363 Palestinians including mentally retarded persons in April

"NABLUS, (PIC)-- The Israeli occupation forces rounded up 363 Palestinians in the past month of April using "savage means" such as sabotaging gates and humiliating detainees, the Palestinian center in defense of prisoners said.

It issued a statistics report charging that the IOF troops were deliberately spreading panic and terror in their operations, describing the practice as "inhuman" and "barbaric".

The IOF troops used hounds to terrorize civilians, it said, noting that the soldiers beat up detainees and their families during the kidnap in violation of international laws and treaties.

The center pointed out that the soldiers rounded up children, women and even mentally retarded persons, and added that most of the kidnapped were from Nablus district.

In a related development, IOF soldiers Friday night kidnapped five Palestinians east of Yatta town, Al-Khalil district, after they were attacked by Jewish settlers.

Locals said that dozens of Jewish settlers attacked the homes of Palestinian farmers in the area and the Palestinians tried to defend themselves but an IOF force backed up the settlers and arrested five of them."

Friday, May 2, 2008

Gaza.....(written in blood)
By Emad Hajjaj

A new approach ?

From Missing Links

"We have it on the excellent authority of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq itself (ISCI, formerly SCIRI, aka just the "Supreme Council") that its leader Abdulaziz al-Hakim took a phone call from President Bush yesterday afternoon, after receiving a visit from ambassador Crocker and special ambassador Satterfield. And following the meeting and the phone call he convened a meeting of United Iraqi Alliance (the Shiite bloc that once included Sadrists and Fadhila, but now includes only the Supreme Council and the Dawa Party), which he also heads. (As RoadstoIraq, which first called attention to these events, noted: "Bush-Hakim are up to something").

Then this morning the New York Times reports that a delegation of senior Dawa and Supreme Council people was sent yesterday to Tehran for talks. The delegation included Hadi al-Ameri, head of the Badr Organization, the military wing of the Supreme council. (Interestingly, the NYT didn't identify Hadi al-Ameri as head of the Badr Organization, merely calling him a "senior member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shiite party in Mr Maliki's coalition.")

So: Bush calls Hakim; Hakim convenes the Shiite coalition; and a delegation including the Badr Organization head is sent to Tehran. And the NYT this morning, leaving out the Bush phone-call and the resulting UIA meeting, spins the events like this: "American officials supported the trip, but portrayed it as the brainchild of Mr Maliki."......

It could be that Sadr spokesperson Saleh al-Obeidi has the overall picture right. He said a couple of days ago that Iran appears to be working hand in glove with the Americans for a "division of influence" in Iraq, and he said one proof of that is that Iran has declined to come out in opposition to the proposed US-Iraq long-term security agreement."

Palestinians protest exclusion as government moots minimum wage

Report, Electronic Lebanon, 2 May 2008

"BEIRUT, 1 May (IRIN) - With inflation in double digits and the cost of living rising, the government has proposed raising the minimum wage for the first time in a decade, but Palestinians say they continue to be marginalized in the labour market.

Several hundred Palestinians protested at the edge of Shatila camp in south Beirut on 30 April ahead of the 1 May labour day holiday, traditionally a time for workers' to air their grievances.

"We are humans, we have the right to live," shouted the protesters. "We are half humans in Lebanon."

Palestinians in Lebanon are barred from working in 70 professional vocations. They cannot work as lawyers and doctors, and cannot own or inherit property. Unemployment is rife, particularly inside the dozen refugee camps which are home to just over half the country's 400,000 Palestinian refugees. In Ein al-Hilwe, the largest and most dangerous camp, leaders of factions estimate unemployment at 70 percent......."

Real News Video: Hundreds killed by US strikes in Sadr City

"PEPE ESCOBAR, The Real News Network News Analyst
It’s been five years since George W. Bush proclaimed Mission Accomplished in Iraq.

Now take a very good look at these images.

Yes, they are disturbing. You won’t see them on Western TV networks. And no, there’s not a hint of mission accomplished about them.

These are innocent civilians – poor Shi’ite Arabs living in the 3- million-strong Sadr City in Baghdad, one of the largest slums in the world.

As The Real News has reported Sadr City is being walled in – transformed into a gulag, and pounded relentlessly by US air strikes.

The Pentagon – and the Iraqi government – say they are “protecting the Green Zone” by attacking Sadr City.

As if that traumatic scene of the helicopter leaving the roof of the US embassy in Saigon in 1975 was rattling too many military minds.

1745 Iraqi civilians were killed in April – against 159 policemen and 104 soldiers. Over 400 people were killed in Sadr City alone. Only 10% were guerrillas.

This carnage is a direct consequence of Dick Cheney’s recent tour of the Middle East, Iraq included.

This carnage is a direct consequence of Gen. David Petraeus’ surge.

These are victims of a vicious political battle between the al-Maliki government in Baghdad, supported by the al-Hakim family, and the US, against Muqtada al-Sadr, who they fear will win the next elections in October – because he is immensely popular.

And in the big picture, these deaths are a graphic example of how the sophisticated Pentagon machine plans to deal with “problematic” urban slums in the future. We wall them, we isolate them, and we bomb the hell out of them. Who cares about collateral damage?

It may be very harsh to say, but that's how it is."

EGYPT: New Strike to Greet Mubarak

By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

"CAIRO, May 2 (IPS) - Hundreds remain in detention following a nationwide protest Apr. 6 against rising food prices and political stagnation. But this has not deterred activists from calling for a second general strike on May 4, timed to coincide with President Hosni Mubarak's birthday.

"About 40 percent of the Egyptian people answered the call to strike earlier this month," Mohammed Zeki, a 28-year-old Internet-based activist from Cairo told IPS. "Despite the state's dictatorial methods, we expect an even greater response on May 4.".......

The use of electronic media, meanwhile, appears to now be a regular feature of Egyptian political activism.

"We're sending out emails and mobile phone messages and communicating on Facebook groups in order to get the message out," said Zeki.

In an effort to prevent more mass arrests, strike leaders are also urging supporters to avoid gathering in specific locations en masse.

As was the case with the Apr. 6 protest, the role played by Egypt's main opposition groups in the planned May 4 strike has so far been negligible.

"Opposition parties still haven't announced their respective levels of participation," said Ali. "But if they take part by organising street demonstrations, there could be more violent confrontations with security forces."

Unlike the heavy-handed state media campaign that preceded April 6 -- in which the interior ministry warned citizens not to take part -- the government has until now remained largely silent about the upcoming protest.

"We're still waiting for the government's reaction," said Abu Saeda. "It's possible that the interior ministry will try to close down the Facebook site or arrest the group's founding members."

Protest advocates seem prepared for any eventuality. "Sure, they might arrest me for promoting the call to strike," said Zeki. "But I haven't done anything wrong, and there are others that will continue the fight.""

ANALYSIS: Syrian-Israeli contacts worry Iran, Hezbollah

".......Khaddam also claims that the Turks are not merely 'letter carriers,' but have presented compromise proposals of their own to the hostile neighbours.

Khaddam cites US sources that are supposedly well informed of the course of the covert talks.

He says Israel has offered Assad a complete withdrawal from part of the Golan Heights, and that the area in question may be somewhat smaller than what Israel offered his late father, president Hafez al- Assad, during talks in Geneva in 2000. Israel is said to want to lease the rest of the Golan from Syria for several decades.

Khaddam and a number of neutral Arab observers surmise that Iran and Hezbollah not only play a role in Israel's equation but also in the calculations of Bashar al-Assad, who is trying to wriggle out of the international isolation he manoeuvred himself into on account of his close partnership with Teheran.

Assad allegedly also hopes that peace negotiations with Israel could end an investigation of his brother-in-law and other Syrian officials who are suspected - possibly with Assad's knowledge - of pulling the strings in the 2005 assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik Hariri."

Divert, Distract, and Demonize

The War Party's strategy to sink Barack Obama

By Justin Raimondo

".....Hillary Clinton, as far as the War Party is concerned, is the "safe" candidate: she came through for them with her recent remark that Iran ought to be "obliterated," while we must cover Israel – and unnamed other countries in the region – with our nuclear shield. She doesn't care what she has to do in order to win, and if that means making Obama unelectable – well then, so be it. Rush Limbaugh, Bill Kristol, Richard Mellon Scaife, Sean Hannity – these are her new allies. Who's next – Norman Podhoretz? What more confirmation do we need of my contention that both political parties in America are merely the "left" and "right" wings of the War Party?

If all else fails – the smears, the "mainstream" media barrage, the dirty tricks – the anti-Obama crowd can always bring out the really big guns. Those "super-delegates" were put in place in order to make sure that the Democratic presidential candidate toes the War Party's line, and guarantees that the nominating process never strays very far from their iron grip. As I said of Obama in February: "They'll never let him become president." Unfortunately, it looks like I was right."

The Iranian Chessboard

by Pepe Escobar and Tom Engelhardt

"It's like old times in the Persian Gulf. As of this week, a second aircraft carrier battle task force is being sent in – not long after Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Michael Mullen highlighted planning for "potential military courses of action" against Iran; just as the Bush administration's catechism of charges against the Iranians in Iraq reaches something like a fever pitch; at the moment when rumors of, leaks about, and denials of Pentagon back-to-the-drawing-board planning for new ways to attack Iran are zipping around ("Targets would include everything from the plants where weapons are made to the headquarters of the organization known as the Quds Force which directs operations in Iraq"); and only days before the U.S. military in Iraq is supposed to conduct its latest media dog-and-pony show on Iranian support for Iraqi Shi'ite militias ("including date stamps on newly found weapons caches showing that recently made Iranian weapons are flowing into Iraq at a steadily increasing rate"). On the dispatching of that second aircraft carrier, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates offered the following comment: "I don't see it as an escalation. I think it could be seen, though, as a reminder."

And, when you really think about it, it is indeed a "reminder" of sorts. After all, the name of that second carrier has a certain resonance. It's the USS Abraham Lincoln, the very carrier on which, on May 1st exactly five years ago, President George W. Bush landed in that S-3B Viking sub reconnaissance Naval jet, in what TV people call "magic hour light", for his Top-Gun strut to a podium. There, against a White House-produced banner emblazoned with the phrase "Mission Accomplished," he declared that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended."

Now, more than five years after Baghdad fell, with Saddam Hussein long executed, Osama bin Laden alive and kicking, and American soldiers fighting and dying in the vast Shi'ite slum suburb of Sadr City in Baghdad, the dangerous administration game of chicken with Iran in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere once again intensifies. It's a dangerous moment. When you ratchet up the charges and send in the carriers, anything is possible.

We regularly read about all of this, of course, but almost never as seen through anything but American administration or journalistic eyes (and sometimes it's hard to tell the two apart). The author of Globalistan and also Red Zone Blues, Pepe Escobar, a continent-hopping super-journalist for the always fascinating Asia Times and now The Real News as well, has done a striking job of covering the Iraq War, the various oil wars and pipeline struggles of the Middle East and Central Asia, and, these last years, has regularly visited Iran. Today, in his first appearance at Tomdispatch, he offers something rare indeed, an assessment of Iran "under the gun" – without the American filter in place......"

Blockade puts Gaza on brink of serious food crisis, says UN

By Donald Macintyre in Gaza City
The Independent

"Destitution and food insecurity among Gaza's 1.5 million residents has reached an unprecedentedly critical level, according to unpublished UN findings that they now need "urgent assistance" to avert a "serious food crisis" in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The report revealing that Gaza's population has already passed the internationally-agreed threshold at which it needs concerted measures to prevent a "deterioration in their nutrition" has been drafted on the eve of a donors' conference to discuss Palestinian political and economic prospects in London today.

Showing that Palestinians are having to spend a higher and higher share of their shrinking incomes on food, the findings are that the proportion of Gazan incomes now going on food is 66 per cent – significantly higher than the 61 per cent recorded for Somalia. Seventy per cent of Gazans are at a "deep poverty" income level of $1.20 (60p) per head per day or less......

The growing emergency comes on top of the devastation of Gaza's economy by the nine-month closure of crossings to commercial exports and imports, growing fuel shortages, and a warning by John Ging, UNWRA's director of operations in Gaza, to British MPs on Wednesday that it was on the point of an "explosion" which could lead to a repeat of a breakout from the territory.

In Jerusalem the WFP's Kirstie Campbell said the budget for the next two years of food distribution to the Palestinian territories would cost $50m more than planned.

The WFP has already cut a food aid programme to 130,000 farmers in Gaza designed to stop them selling land and other assets as a result of not being able to send out fruit, vegetable and flower exports because of the blockade.

Ms Campbell said last night: "At the moment we are less and less able to assist what is a growing need. Hunger today is widespread in Gaza on the ground and it will not be long before we face a growing problem of malnutrition in Gaza."......"

What's not to hate?

By Steve Bell, The Guardian

US releases al-Jazeera cameraman

Martin Hodgson
The Guardian, Friday May 2 2008

"An al-Jazeera cameraman detained by American forces in Afghanistan was last night released after spending nearly six years imprisoned without charge at Guantánamo Bay.

Sami al-Haj, 39, was arrested on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan on December 15 2001, while on assignment to cover the war against the Taliban. Although he had a valid visa to work in Afghanistan, US intelligence alleged that he was an al-Qaida operative, and he was transferred to Guantánamo in June 2002.....

Prior to his release, Haj had been on hunger strike since January 2007, and was forced to undergo "assisted feeding" via a tube through his nose. According to Stafford Smith, he was suicidal and had throat cancer, but camp authorities withheld medical treatment. "We are very concerned about him, because he has been under a tremendous amount of stress and has been on hunger strike for 480 days. He has asked to be taken straight to a hospital in Khartoum," Stafford Smith said....

Robert Ménard, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, said: "Sami al-Haj should never have been held so long. US authorities never proved that he had been involved in any criminal activity."....

Commentators in the Middle East viewed Haj's imprisonment as a proxy punishment for al-Jazeera, whose broadcasts have angered US officials.

When the BBC reporter Alan Johnston was kidnapped in Gaza, Haj appealed for his release. Johnston in turn, called on the US authorities to free Haj. But Stafford Smith said much of the western media had been slow to take up Haj's case [How do you spell RACISM??]......."

Sami al-Hajj hits out at US captors

"Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj has hit out at the US treatment of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison where he was held for nearly six and a half years.

Saying that "rats are treated with more humanity", al-Hajj said inmates' "human dignity was violated".

Al-Hajj, who arrived in Sudan early on Friday, was carried off the US air force jet on a stretcher and immediately taken to hospital.

Later, he had an emotional reunion with his wife and son.

His brother, Asim al-Hajj, said he did not recognise the cameraman because he looked like a man in his 80s.

Still, al-Hajj said: "I was lucky because God allowed that I be released."

But his attention soon turned to the 275 inmates he left behind in the US military prison.

'Dignity violated'

"I'm very happy to be in Sudan, but I'm very sad because of the situation of our brothers who remain in Guantanamo. Conditions in Guantanamo are very, very bad and they get worse by the day," he said from his hospital bed.

"Our human condition, our human dignity was violated, and the American administration went beyond all human values, all moral values, all religious values.

"In Guantanamo ... rats are treated with more humanity. But we have people from more than 50 countries that are completely deprived of all rights and privileges.

"And they will not give them the rights that they give animals," he said.

Al-Hajj complained that "for more than seven years, [inmates] did not get a chance to be brought before a civil court to defend their just case"......

He was seized by Pakistani intelligence officers while travelling near the Afghan border in December 2001.

Despite holding a legitimate visa to work for Al Jazeera's Arabic channel in Afghanistan, he was handed to the US military in January 2002 and sent to Guantanamo Bay.
Al-Hajj, who is originally from Sudan, was held as an "enemy combatant" without ever facing trial or charges.

Al-Hajj was never prosecuted at Guantanamo so the US did not make public its full allegations against him......

'Element of racism'

Al-Hajj had been on hunger strike since January 7, 2007.

David Remes, a lawyer for 17 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, told Al Jazeera that the treatment al-Hajj received "was more horrific than most" and that there was "an element of racism" in the way he was treated.

He said he had been in contact with the lawyer representing al-Hajj and it appeared the cameraman had been "psychologically damaged".

"The Europeans would never receive this treatment," Remes said.

About 275 detainees remain at Guantanamo and the lawyer said European detainees had all been returned to their country, leaving nationalities such as Yemenis - who now constitute one third of the inmate population......"

Al-Jazeera Video: Sami al-Hajj speaks of his Guantanamo ordeal - 02 May 2008

"The Al Jazeera cameraman describes how he was treated during the seven years he was detained at the US detention center in Cuba."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The struggle for Syria

Israel's offer to return the Golan is a ruse betraying ulterior agendas.

By Hassan Nafaa
Al-Ahram Weekly

"The Struggle for Syria is the title of Patrick Seale's 1965 book in which he reviews internal and external Syrian developments from 1946 up to its merger union with Egypt that gave birth to the United Arab Republic on 22 February 1958. In retrospect, the book's accounting of Syria's regional situation and the modalities of its interaction with the surrounding international environment turned out to be nothing short of prophetic......

Israel's overture towards the Syrians comes at a time when Palestinian-Israeli and Palestinian-US talks are stalled. It is highly unlikely that any progress will be achieved on the Palestinian track before the end of Bush's term. Even more remarkably, Israel has been building settlements at an accelerating pace since Annapolis, without a word of protest from the US. Meanwhile, various Arab mediators have been actively trying to reconcile the Palestinians in order to lift the blockade and provide a more favourable climate for peace talks.

Israel, in my opinion, is simply trying to distance Damascus from Iran, the Palestinians, and perhaps Hizbullah. The Israelis are feigning readiness to give up the Golan and to sit down and discuss all details. The whole exercise is designed to neutralise Damascus while Israel and US ponder strikes against Iran and Hizbullah.

No one can ask the Syrians to turn down an offer to get back the Golan. But one must question the sincerity of the Israelis. Even if they are sincere, they will inevitably ask Damascus to give up supporting Hizbullah and Hamas. Are the Syrians, with their well-known pan- Arab record, willing to play along?"

Jenin: the Israeli army kidnaps five children

"Five Palestinian children were kidnapped by the Israeli army during a pre-dawn invasion targeting the village of Fahmah, located near the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Thursday.

Witnesses reported that troops and army jeeps entered the village from several directions, during the invasion troops searched and ransacked a num,ber of homes then took the five children and left the village.

Local sources identified those five kidnapped as; Syif Sa'abnah, 13, Sufiyan Sa'abnah, 14, Shadi Sa'abnah, 16, Mohamed Marab'ah, 15, and Abed Al Fatah Nawasrah, 14."

Crossing the Line interviews journalist Mohammed Omer

Podcast, The Electronic Intifada, 1 May 2008

"This week on Crossing The Line: On 17 April 2008, Fadel Shana'a, a Palestinian camerman with Reuters news agency, was killed when he was struck by an Israeli tank shell in the Gaza Strip. Even though he was holding a camera and was clearly marked as a member of the press, both on his body and his vehicle, Shana'a was fired at by an Israeli tank less than a mile away. Host Naji Ali speaks with Mohammed Omer, a Palestinian journalist based in the Gaza Strip, about the dangers of reporting on Israeli violence......"

Click Here to Listen

No Mercy

Najwa Sheikh writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 1 May 2008

"In their simple house made of metal sheets, Myassar Abu Me'teq was sitting next to three of her children having breakfast and holding her one-year-old baby in her arms. She listened to their daily complaints and loving quarrels, trying to comfort them and keep them away from the sound of the Israeli shelling close to their home in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.

This mother did not know that their clock would soon stop ticking, not by their creator but by their enemy. She did not know that it was the last breakfast she would prepare for her children. She did not know that it was the last time she would hold her baby. She did not know that she would no longer know her children and their future as they also would never know their mother as an old woman. Like any mother, she refused to leave her children alone on their trip. She did not want to let go of her baby and insisted on accompanying them as one family in life and in death....."

Dubai begins to comply with calls to boycott settlement financier

Press release, Adalah-NY, 1 May 2008

"In a sudden reversal, just 16 days after Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev publicly announced plans to open two new jewelry stores in Dubai this year, a high-level Dubai government official said that Leviev had no trade license to open a store in the Emirate. The report in the 30 April edition of Dubai's Gulf News followed a flurry of media coverage of the 18 April call by Palestinians and New York activists for Dubai to boycott Leviev's businesses over his companies' settlement construction in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Issa Ayoub, a spokesperson for Adalah-NY, an activist group leading a boycott campaign against Leviev, commented, "We're gratified that, by refusing trade licenses for Leviev, Dubai has joined the growing movement to boycott Leviev's companies due to their violations of international law and human rights abuses in Palestine and Angola. We repeat our call to the people of Dubai to stop entirely the sale of Leviev's jewelry, even in local stores. Israeli businesses like Leviev's need to be held accountable for their role oppressing the Palestinian people." ..........

Daniel Lang/Levitsky of Jews Against the Occupation-NYC noted, "We've found support from New York to Dubai for the call to boycott Leviev's businesses as soon as people know that his companies are destroying Palestinian villages, and extracting tens of millions of dollars of diamonds in Angola while committing severe human rights violations there and leaving local communities in poverty. Leviev claimed on one of his websites that he supported the charity Oxfam; when we brought this to Oxfam's attention they immediately denied any ties to Leviev and repudiated him due to his violations of international law. We believe others will do the same until Leviev's companies cease their attacks on human rights in Palestine, Angola and elsewhere.""

Denying Palestinians Free Movement in the West Bank

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, May 1, 2008

"This article summarizes an August 2007 B'Tselem report now available in print. It's one of a series of studies it conducts on life in Occupied Palestine to reveal what major media accounts suppress. This one is titled: "Ground to a Halt - Denial of Palestinians' Freedom of Movement in the West Bank."

B'Tselem has a well-deserved reputation for accuracy and integrity. It's the Jerusalem-based independent Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). It was founded in 1989 by prominent academics, attorneys, journalists and Knesset members to "document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in (Occupied Palestine), combat (the Israeli public's) denial, and create a human rights culture in Israel" to convince government officials to respect human rights and obey international law.......


Israel's repressive measures force West Bank Palestinians to live in a constant state of uncertainty, prevent them from making plans, deny them their basic rights, harm them when emergencies arise, and overall consign their lives to the will and whims to an illegal occupier.

Beyond the immediate harm that's considerable, the West Bank's geographical division causes severe long-term detriment to the entire Palestinian fabric of life - affecting their economic, political and social welfare. The result is an entire nation locked down, punished for being unwanted and in the way, and denied their right of self-determination and free movement on their own land.

Israel's justification is fraudulent on its face, yet goes unchallenged by the world community as well as by neighboring Arab states. Shamefully and willfully, they turn a blind eye to a human calamity they won't confront and denounce publicly as illegal and unacceptable.

B'Tselem has no such hesitancy. It ends its report by calling on Israel to:

-- "immediately remove all the permanent and sweeping restrictions on movement inside the West Bank (including the Separation Wall ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice). In their place, Israel should" protect its citizens along the Green Line and inside the Jewish state according to the rule of law;

-- "act immediately to evacuate all the settlements in the West Bank. Until this is done, Israel" has every right to protect its settlers security, but not to the detriment of the Palestinian people who are the lawful occupants of their own land; and

-- "verify, before any temporary approved (while settlements remain in place)," that it's "needed for a legitimate security purpose and that the resultant harm to the Palestinian population will be proportionate," according to international law. Restrictions in place "must be incorporated in a written order that specifies the nature of the restriction and the period of time it will remain in force."

Until Israel takes these measures and begins ending its 41 year occupation, it will continue violating international law and remain in violation of dozens of UN resolutions condemning it for its actions, deploring it for committing them, and demanding they be ended. So far, Israel shows no signs of complying and continues acting with impunity, arrogance and defiance of the rule of law it disdains."

The heat is on Muqtada

A Good Piece

By Sami Moubayed
Asia Times

".....Who is behind all of this?
Some claim the Americans asked Maliki to strike, as a condition for keeping him in power, so he can bring some law and order to Iraq before the term of President George W Bush expires in January 2009.

The Americans have wanted to eliminate Muqtada from day one, but were prevented from doing so, first under the mediation of the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, then under Maliki's direct intervention. Maliki needed Muqtada to obtain legitimacy in the Shi'ite community when first becoming prime minister in May 2006.

Muqtada legitimized him among young Iraqis and poor Iraqis, while Maliki provided a security umbrella. Nobody would harass the Mahdi Army as long as he was serving as prime minister. In addition to six seats in the Iraqi cabinet, and 30 seats in Parliament (all obtained by virtue of Muqtada's popularity) the Sadrists were allowed to keep their militia - and often use it - to settle old scores with the Ba'athists, or new ones either with al-Qaeda and rising Sunni militias.

Provided these arms were not being used against Maliki - or the Americans - then everybody seemed pleased with Muqtada. Soon, however, Maliki could no longer control the power and ambition of Muqtada. The young cleric learns quickly - too quickly some would say - and started creating a system that made him the uncrowned king of Baghdad.

Learning from the Hezbollah model and inspired by Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon, he eliminated any anti-Sunni rhetoric from his speeches and began calling for rapprochement with Sunnis. At a time when Maliki was increasingly unable to deliver anything to disgruntled Sunnis, they found solace in the words of Muqtada. Despite the bad blood between them in 2004-2007, especially after Muqtada's team accused the Sunnis of blowing up the holy Shi'ite site at Samarra, the Sunnis were willing to work with Muqtada to bring down Maliki. Muqtada had personally and publicly challenged the Sunnis by discriminating against them in government ministries under his control, like the Ministry of Health, Commerce and Education. He turned a blind eye to the death squads roaming the streets of Baghdad - searching for trouble, with Sunni notables. He did nothing to prevent attacks on Sunni mosques, the assassination of Sunni clerics and the razing of Sunni neighborhoods after the attack on Samarra.

All the same, Muqtada seemed less dangerous than Maliki because he was clear about his agenda and his vision. He does not tolerate the Americans in Iraq, just like the Sunnis despise them. He does not want to partition Iraq and give the Shi'ites an autonomous district in the south, which had been called for by Maliki's ally, Hakim. Although he wants a theocracy inspired by the Iranian model, he nevertheless does not want the Iranians to meddle in Iraqi affairs. He wants to maintain Iraq's Arab identity and strengthen its relations with its Arab neighbors.

Maliki feared a double deal; some kind of united front between the Sunnis and Muqtada, and under American urging, cracked down on the Sadrists.

The Iranian angle

Others claim Iran gave a green light to Maliki during the March visit of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, to wipe out the Sadrists. This is a little confusing since confirmed reports from Iran claim that at one point during the past six months, the Iranians began to see an ally in Muqtada. They realize that their former proxy, Hakim, is aged, ailing with cancer and unable to control the Shi'ite community of Iraq for much longer. His successor, Ammar al-Hakim, is no match to the popularity of Muqtada and will be unable to keep either the SIIC or Badr united once Abdul-Aziz parts the scene.

Additionally, the Iranians are afraid that at one point, their other proxy in the Arab world, Hezbollah, will get caught up in a civil war, or another confrontation with Israel that might severely weaken, if not break, its powers. Or if Syria signs a peace deal with Israel (something that is currently a hot issue due to the initiative of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan), then part of the deal would be a break between Damascus and Hezbollah.

With Badr losing its popularity, Hakim marching into obscurity and Hezbollah in critical waters, the only credible alternative is the Mahdi Army. Hakim and Muqtada, however, are not on good terms. They are traditional enemies, fighting from one generation to the next, over control of Iraqi Shi'ites........

Muqtada, learning from Nasrallah, began sending monthly subsidies to families in need, who in turn pledged full support, and distributing money at will to young Shi'ites, either to join his political movement or the Mahdi Army. It seemed like the logical and prestigious thing to do. Muqtada has legitimacy and family history. He is a cleric and rising in religious prominence, as a result of him returning to the books to reach the title of grand ayatollah.

He is nationalistic and wants to see an end to the Americans in Iraq. And although he may have become close to the Iranians, he is by no means a puppet of Iran. If the Iranians did in fact give Maliki the green light to crush him, this would have been either 1) to reach some kind of back-channel deal with the Americans. 2) They realized that cooperation with him was limited and he would never allow himself to become another Hakim.

Rather than have him as a thorn in their side, the Iranians decided to rid themselves of him. This would first empower their original proxies, Hakim and Maliki. Second, it would send off a powerful message to the Americans, or at least, whomever succeeds Bush.

This might explain why, on April 30, the Sadrists came out with a strong-worded statement against Tehran, accusing the Iranians of "dividing influence" with the Americans on Iraq. This is proven, the Sadrists added, by the lack of objections from Iran to what is happening in Sadr City or to the Iraqi-US talks regarding a long-term political and military agreement. Iran is "behind the nightmares in Iraq".

Either way, whether Muqtada is under attack as a result of an American plan, or an Iranian one, he has a major fight on his hands. "

هل بدأت مرحلة الصدام بين إيران والائتلاف الشيعي العراقي؟

فاضل الربيعي

"تحت سطح الأحداث العنيفة، غالباً ما يدور صراع خفي بين "الحلفاء" لا بين الخصوم وحسب. وفي حالة العراق الراهنة، حيث تختلط صور الحلفاء بالخصوم بطريقة يصعب توقعها، بحيث يتحول "صديق الأمس" بسهولة إلى "عدو اليوم"، نتيجة تعارض المصالح أو الآراء أو درجة الولاء المطلوب، فإن التفاعلات الخطيرة التي تجري تحت السطح، ستبدو أنها أكثر خطورة بالفعل من الظواهر البارزة فوق السطح.

وقد بينت وقائع الأيام الماضية من الشد والجذب بين إيران وبعض أطراف الائتلاف الشيعي -وبشكل أخص حزب الدعوة/جناح المالكي- على خلفية المعارك الدامية في البصرة ومدينة الصدر، أن إيران تخوض صراعاً خفياً ضد بعض حلفائها، وأنها تقترب من موعد مواجهة شبه محتومة معهم، وقد تصبح على أعتاب مواجهة مكشوفة مع قوى أخرى داخل الائتلاف نفسه.

ولعل إصرار حكومة المالكي على المضي قدماً في التعاون مع الأميركيين والاعتماد المكشوف على دعمهم وحمايتهم من أجل مواصلة الحرب على الصدريين، بل وإصرارها على الاستمرار في عمليات القصف الوحشي لمنازل المدنيين في بعض المدن الشيعية، وبشكل أخص مدينة الصدر الفقيرة والمنكوبة، هو من بين إشارات كثيرة تدل على بداية مرحلة "قطيعة" متوقعة بين إيران وحلفائها.
من الناحية التاريخية، كان هناك وباستمرار عداء خفيّ شبه مُستحكم بين إيران وحزب الدعوة، يعود في جذوره إلى الأيام الأولى من الثورة الخمينية، عندما فجرّ بعض قادة الثورة -استناداً إلى وثائق رسمية- فضيحة "ارتباط حزب الدعوة بالمخابرات البريطانية والسافاك"، وأن هذا الحزب لم يتأسس في العراق في خمسينيات القرن قبل الماضي إلا نتيجة تواطؤ الشاه مع البريطانيين.

لذلك سارع الخميني بحلول صيف عام 1980 إلى دعم خطة تقدم بها الحرس الثوري لتأسيس "المجلس الأعلى للثورة الإسلامية في العراق بقيادة باقر الحكيم (الشقيق الأكبر لعبد العزيز الذي قتل في انفجار سيارة مُفخخة).

في هذا الوقت كان موفق الربيعي يترك صفوف حزب الدعوة ويعيد تقديم نفسه من لندن كطرف مستقل، ولكن أكثر ارتباطاً بالبريطانيين الذين سيعيدون تقديمه مع مطلع التسعينيات إلى الأميركيين بوصفه قناة الاتصال الفعالة مع الأحزاب الشيعية.

اليوم، ومع تصاعد نبرة العداء لسياساتهم في العراق -وهذه أخذت مؤخرا صورة نقد لاذع يصدر باستمرار عن أطراف وجماعات وعشائر شيعية- ومع استمرار وزارة الداخلية في سياسة "الكشف عن عمليات تهريب أسلحة إيرانية إلى المليشيات الشيعية".. يشعر الإيرانيون أنهم قد ينزلقون نحو صراع مكشوف ضد أقرب حلفائهم.

ولأن مثل هذا التطور يعكس بدرجة كافية من الوضوح مدى استعداد كل أطراف الصراع في العراق لإعادة ترتيب أوراقها استعداداً لمرحلة جديدة، فقد يكون من المحتمل أن إيران استشعرت مبكراً إمكانية انحياز بعض حلفائها إلى السياسة الأميركية وانتقالهم نهائياً إلى "جبهة أعداء إيران".

والمثير للسخرية أن بعض الأطراف الشيعية الحاكمة في العراق أخذت في الآونة الأخيرة تستخدم كلمات مثل الحفاظ على عروبة العراق في سياق نقدها للنفوذ الإيراني، وهو التعبير نفسه الذي استخدمته كوندوليزا رايس أثناء زيارتها لبغداد عشية اجتماع دول الجوار في الكويت، حين خاطبت المسؤولين الحكوميين بأن عليهم "الحفاظ على عروبة العراق".

هذه "العروبة" التي يدافع عنها المالكي والربيعي ورايس هي "عتاد حربي" لمعركة أميركية توشك أن تندلع ضد إيران، لا أكثر ولا أقل

Real News Video: Hamas backs Egypt's ceasefire plan

"Smaller Palestinian militant groups coming on board, but Israel balks at offer

Thursday May 1st, 2008

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Wednesday that an Egyptian-backed ceasefire plan could bring calm to strife-torn Gaza. As signs mounted that smaller militant groups such as Islamic Jihad were coming into line behind Hamas and the Egyptian-backed truce plan."

Back to The Present....

Addicted to War.....

Mullen Cites U.S. 'Vulnerability'

Transition to New President in Wartime Concerns the Military
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer

"The nation's top military officer warned yesterday that the transition to a new American president will mark a "time of vulnerability" as the United States fights two wars, and he said military leaders are already actively preparing for the changing of the guard.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, said the U.S. political transition will be "extraordinarily challenging," particularly as the military is engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan and faces interference in both countries from Iran.

"Iran is not going away," Mullen said. "We need to be strong and really in the deterrent mode, to not be very predictable" regarding Iran, he said in a meeting with editors and reporters at The Washington Post.

Mullen spoke on a day when Pentagon officials announced that a second U.S. aircraft carrier group, the USS Lincoln, had arrived in the Persian Gulf for a brief overlap with another carrier. Having two carriers in the Gulf will provide additional air power for strikes and reconnaissance in the combat zone, giving commanders added flexibility, said Lt. Gen. Carter F. Ham, the Joint Staff operations chief. "It allows us, also, to demonstrate to our friends and allies in the region a commitment to security in the region," he said......"

Hebron orphanage

Punitive measures against orphans will never win the hearts and minds of the Palestinians, and will only strengthen the extremists

By Seth Freedman
The Guardian

"Supporters of the Israeli authorities love to blame the country's poor reputation as being a result of woeful PR, believing that all that is required to redress the balance is a slick hasbara campaign. However, given the harsh reality of the occupation, to suggest that a superficial gloss job would do the trick is to totally miss the wood for the trees.

I found as much on Sunday, when I went to Hebron as a guest of the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT), who are desperate to highlight the plight of a Palestinian orphanage threatened with closure by the IDF. For nearly a month, the scores of children have been living with a sword of Damocles over their heads, after the army issued an eviction order, claiming that the Islamic Charitable Society (ICS) - which runs the orphanage - is a front for Hamas.......

And his scepticism is now being recreated among the next generation, namely the orphans whose lives are being turned upside down by the army's actions. "Our kids are terrified when the soldiers come," said Rasheed, "and all they ask is 'why?'." One 13-year-old student in the boys' orphanage told us: "This is my home - if they come to shut us down, I won't leave." His predicament, as well as his youthful defiance, should serve as a warning to the Israeli authorities as to what really causes animosity towards Israel from the Palestinian population.

As I wrote in Occupation Breeds Terror, punitive measures such as the orphanage eviction will never win the hearts and minds of the Palestinians, and will only serve to strengthen the extremists, who will point to such actions as proof that the Israelis couldn't care less about the wellbeing of the Palestinian people. Similarly, when Israel's supporters think it's all about PR, they should look behind the headlines and see whether the source of all the smoke is actually the ever-smouldering fire in the West Bank and Gaza.

Until they do, the Israeli authorities will continue to get away with their sadistic treatment, and the pressure will be ratcheted up another notch on the Palestinian street. Which will only bring more death, more misery, and more retaliation on both sides - leaving the likes of CPT to wonder how they can ever achieve their goal of bringing peace to a region that so desperately cries out for it. "

Video From The New FOX News, Formerly Known As Al-Jazeera: Israel/Syria peace negotiations

Part 1

Part 2

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We're not celebrating Israel's anniversary

The Guardian, Wednesday April 30 2008

"In May, Jewish organisations will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. This is understandable in the context of centuries of persecution culminating in the Holocaust. Nevertheless, we are Jews who will not be celebrating. Surely it is now time to acknowledge the narrative of the other, the price paid by another people for European anti-semitism and Hitler's genocidal policies. As Edward Said emphasised, what the Holocaust is to the Jews, the Naqba is to the Palestinians.

In April 1948, the same month as the infamous massacre at Deir Yassin and the mortar attack on Palestinian civilians in Haifa's market square, Plan Dalet was put into operation. This authorised the destruction of Palestinian villages and the expulsion of the indigenous population outside the borders of the state. We will not be celebrating.

In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March. We will not be celebrating.

In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians (Israeli citizens) were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating.

We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations.

We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East......."

An evil state that will disappear one day

Comment by Khalid Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem

"Just as Israel inaugurated its misbegotten birth with genocidal ethnic cleansing sixty years ago, the evil brat of Zionism is marking its 60th anniversary with yet another spate of bloodletting.

On Sunday, 27 April, the Israeli “Defense” Forces (a more appropriate appellation would be the Jewish Wehrmacht) murdered a mother and her four children in Beit Hanoun, a northern Gaza suburb......

This happens as Israeli officials appearing on western TV screens keep assuring the mostly nonchalant or morally-apathetic western audiences that under no circumstances would Israel allow a “humanitarian crisis” to develop in Gaza. Well, what, apart from lies, do we expect from Zionism, a Godless, satanic ideology based on murder, theft and mendacity?

What do we expect from a state that sends its crack soldiers to raid and terrorize orphanages and boarding schools in Hebron in the dead of night?

What do we expect from a state that confiscates donated food for orphaned children whose parents had been murdered by the Israeli army…a state that orders its soldiers to raid inventory warehouses and steal shoes, clothes, even underwear, of orphaned children under ten years of age?

What do we expect from a state whose soldiers murder 12-year-old school kids, and then verify the kill by emptying 20 more bullets into the small victim’s body to make sure that the dead or dying little girl or boy doesn’t pose a threat to the security and safety of the heroic soldier?

What do we expect from a state whose army bulldozers crush peace activists to death and then tells the world that “ the bulldozer driver acted in accordance with outstanding instructions and did nothing wrong.”

Obviously, a sate as such is a Nazi state par excellence......"

Are these Syrian nuclear pictures faked?

Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian, Thursday May 1 2008

"The CIA published three aerial photographs last week purporting to show a Syrian nuclear reactor, bombed by Israel last September. But are the pictures all that they seem? Doubts about their authenticity have been raised by Professor William Beeman, head of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, who has had a long involvement with the Middle East.

He posted on a Los Angeles Times website a note received from a "colleague with US security clearance" pointing out "irregularities". The unnamed colleague said a picture taken before the bombing looked as if it had been digitally enhanced, noting that the lower part of the building, the annexe and the windows pointing south appeared much sharper than the rest.

He also questioned why the alleged reactor had no air defences, no military checkpoints and no powerlines. Turning to two shots of the bombed building, he noted that the first showed a rectangular building and the second a square one. Were they the same building?......"

Al-Jazeera Caroon

The Iraqi Palm Today.....

هدية حملها عباس لاولمرت: بقلاوة دمشقية وقرارات القمة العربية باللغة العبرية

هدية حملها عباس لاولمرت: بقلاوة دمشقية وقرارات القمة العربية باللغة العبرية

موظفون ذاقوها قالوا انها أطيب حلوي في منطقة الشرق الأوسط

"الناصرة ـ القدس العربي
من زهير اندراوس:
تواصل وسائل الاعلام الاسرائيلية باللغة العبرية التركيز علي المفاوضات التي قد تبدأ بين الدولة العبرية وسورية، وتوحي بجو من التفاؤل بقرب التوصل الي اتفاق سلام بين الدولتين.
وقال المحلل السياسي لصحيفة معاريف الاسرائيلية بن كاسبيت، المعروف بصلاته الوطيدة جدا مع ديوان رئيس الوزراء الاسرائيلي، ان ايهود اولمرت ذاق طعم ثمار السلام، اذ ان الرئيس الفلسطيني محمود عباس، حمل اليه هدية من دمشق هي عبارة عن حلويات من نوع البقلاوة الشامية المشهورة، وذلك بعد أن شارك عباس في مؤتمر القمة العربية الذي عقد في نهاية الشهر الماضي في العاصمة السورية، دمشق.
وأضاف المحلل الاسرائيلي أنه بعد عودة الرئيس عباس من دمشق الي الأراضي الفلسطينية عقد مباشرة لقاء آخر مع رئيس الوزراء الاسرائيلي في القدس الغربية، وفوجئ الاسرائيليون عندما أخرج الرئيس الفلسطيني علبة من الخشب مزينة ومصنعة في دمشق وبها بقلاوة شامية، وقال موظفون رفيعو المستوي ذاقوا طعم البقلاوة الشامية انها أطيب وألذ بقلاوة ذاقوها في منطقة الشرق الأوسط. كما كشف النقاب عن ان الرئيس الفلسطيني أحضر هدية مماثلة لوزيرة الخارجية الاسرائيلية تسيبي ليفني. واللافت ان الصندوق الصغير الذي كان محملا بالبقلاوة حمل أيضا رسالة هامة جدا، فقد كان ملصقا علي الصندوق وثيقة مكتوبة باللغة العبرية وهي عبارة عن القرارات التي اتخذت في مؤتمر القمة العربية في دمشق وعلي الرسالة جميع أعلام الدول العربية التي شاركت في مؤتمر القمة
. يشار الي ان القمة العربية في دمشق صادقت علي قرارات سابقة اتخذتها الجامعة العربية، ومن أهمها موافقة الدول العربية علي المبادرة السعودية، التي تحولت الي مبادرة عربية، والتي تنص علي ان الدول العربية علي استعداد للتطبيع مع اسرائيل مقابل قيامها بالانسحاب من الأراضي التي احتلتها في عدوان الخامس من حزيران (يونيو) من العام 1967 .
وقالت مصادر فلسطينية للصحيفة انه لم يكن الهدف من وراء البقلاوة الشامية ان تحول المبادرة العربية الي مذاق أطيب، علي حد تعبيرهم.

The Nazis of Our Time:

Israeli Army raids Hebron Orphanage home to 110 girls

"At 1.00 in the morning on the 30th of April, the Israeli Army raids orphanage in Hebron, home to 110 girls, seizing all equipment from community sewing workshop.

The Hebron Orphanage for girls is run by the Charitable Islamic Society,(I.C.S) and houses 110 children.

The ICS is accused by Israel of funding the Hamas movement under the table, and in recent years, the ICS has been raided several times by the Israeli Army who seized computers and paper work from their offices. Now the Israeli government wants to take property owned by the ICS and has issued a court order to this effect.

Bassim the director of the Hebron orphanage for girls says that the Israeli officials came and inspected a sewing work shop in the basement, a project set up to give local women whose husbands are in jail a means of earning a living.The official forbade any one from working in the room he photographed and made an inventory of all sewing machines and related equipment in the basement.He forbade Bassim from moving the workshop elsewhere threatening him with a prison sentence of five years were he to do so, he then said that the army would come and remove the equipment after the 26th of April 2008.

The Christian Peace Maker teams were concerned about the effects of such a raid on the children so began to sleep over night in the orphanage.At one in the morning on the 30th of April the army drove three trucks into the playground of the orphanage, one equipped with a winch for hauling heavy equipment.They sawed up the metal table for cutting fabric with an angle grinder, and seized everything from the workshop including the stock of clothes sewn by the women.They swept the floor and left taking everything leaving the room utterly void.The Christian Peace Maker Teams tried to speak with the soldier s about their actions, but they refused to engage and completely ignored them."

British Jews: Don't celebrate Israel's 60th

"'We cannot celebrate birthday of state founded on terrorism… which engages in ethnic cleansing,' says group of prominent British Jews, saying time has come to recognize 'Naqba' as Palestinian equivalent to Holocaust

On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day and a week before Israel marks its 60th Independence Day, a group of over 100 British Jews comprised of well-known academics, writers, actors and other public figures has launched a scathing attack against the Jewish state.

'We're not celebrating Israel's anniversary,' proclaimed the letter carried by the Guardian newspaper on Wednesday. Among the signatures of those claiming Israel forced 70,000 Palestinians into a Death March in 1948 are Prof. Haim Bresheeth, a professor at the University of East London who organized the call for an academic boycott against Israel, playwright Harold Pinter, Attorney Daniel Machover, who filed a lawsuit against Maj. Gen. Doron Almog, and Stephen Fry.

"We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land," say the letter writers. "We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations. We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East."

"In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March. We will not be celebrating," the letter continues.

"In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating."......"