Saturday, September 11, 2010
"Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid, a festival that brings families together.
However, Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails find it very difficult to receive visits from their families and relatives.
Human rights organizations say that while Israeli convicts are allowed family and home visits, Palestinians are denied even a phone call .
Al Jazeera's Nour Odeh reports from the West Bank in the Palestinian Territories."
September 11, 2010
"Apparently having learned no lessons from the Iraq WMD debacle, the New York Times is pushing for a heightened confrontation with Iran, slipping into the same kind of hysteria that it and other major U.S. news organizations displayed in 2002 and 2003....
Having brushed aside the disaster in Iraq and the related bungled war in Afghanistan, the neocons and their allies appear to remain the chief arbiters and the leading architects of U.S. foreign policy."
NEW YORK September 10, 2010
"....So what, in the end, can we conclude? 1. We still do not know the real story about 9/11. 2. The official version is not credible. 3. 9/11 was used to justify invading strategic Afghanistan and oil-rich Iraq. 4. The attacks plunged America into wars against the Muslim world and enriched the US arms industry. 5. 9/11 boosted pro-Israel neoconservatives, formerly a fringe group, into power, and with them America’s totalitarian far right. 6. Bush’s unprovoked war against Iraq destroyed one of Israel’s two main enemies. 7. 9/11 put America in what may turn out to be a permanent state of war with the Muslim world – a key goal of the neoconservatives .
But I’ve seen no hard evidence to date that 9/11 was a plot by America’s far right or by Israel or a giant cover-up. Just, perhaps, the Mother of All Coincidences. In the end, it may just have been 19 angry Arabs and a bumbling Bush administration looking for someone else to blame. "
By Arundhati Roy
"....The Trickledown Revolution
On the sixty-fourth anniversary of India's Independence, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh climbed into his bullet-proof soap box in the Red Fort to deliver a passionless, bone-chillingly banal speech to the nation. Listening to him, who would have guessed that he was addressing a country that, despite having the second highest economic growth rate in the world, has more poor people than 26 of Africa's poorest countries put together? "All of you have contributed to India's success" he said, "the hard work of our workers, our artisans, our farmers has brought our country to where it stands today... We are building a new India in which every citizen would have a stake, an India which would be prosperous and in which all citizens would be able to live a life of honor and dignity in an environment of peace and goodwill. An India in which all problems could be solved through democratic means. An India in which the basic rights of every citizen would be protected." Some would call this graveyard humor. He might as well have been speaking to people in Finland, or Sweden.
If our Prime Minister's reputation for 'personal integrity' extended to the text of his speeches, this is what he should have said: "Brothers and sisters, greetings to you on this day on which we remember our glorious past. Things are getting a little expensive I know, and you keep moaning about food prices. But look at it this way -- more than six hundred and fifty million of you are engaged in and are living off agriculture as farmers and farm labor, but your combined efforts contribute less than eighteen percent of our GDP. So what's the use of you? Look at our IT sector. It employs 0.2 percent of the population and earns us thirty four percent of our national income. Can you match that? It is true that in our country employment hasn't kept pace with growth, but fortunately sixty percent of our workforce is self-employed. Ninety percent of our labor force is employed by the unorganized sector. True, they manage to get work only for a few months in the year, but since we don't have a category called 'underemployed', we just keep that part a little vague. It would not be right to enter them in our books as unemployed. Coming to the statistics that say we have the highest infant and maternal mortality in the world -- we should unite as a nation and ignore bad news for the time being. We can address these problems later, after our Trickledown Revolution, when the health sector has been completely privatized. Meanwhile, I hope you are all buying medical insurance. As for the fact that the per capita food grain availability has actually decreased over the last twenty years -- which happens to be the period of our most rapid economic growth -- believe me, that's just a coincidence......"
The crisis of Indian democracy (part 2)
"....So I talked about the Lebanon in which I have lived for 34 years, whose courageous, kind people taught me how to survive other, more terrible wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lebanon had almost killed me several times, I said, but it had also saved my life. And I talked about Samir Kassir, who was murdered in Beirut, who flew like a moth through the latest chapter of Lebanon's history. Fêted, admired, jealously despised, a beacon of freedom in a place without oxygen, his genius almost inevitably consumed by his country's violence. At 45, he was a journalist's dream: writer, philosopher, academic, intellectual, reporter. And yes, he was also what we would call a street reporter, fighting off threatening calls from the secret police while condemning the Syrian intelligence apparatus.
In retrospect, I think Samir Kassir misunderstood his future killers, whom he had clearly identified before he died as the Syrian military-intelligence apparatus. He broke one of the cardinal rules of journalism. As a reporter or columnist, you can take on governments or armies or corrupt politicians or secret policemen or clergymen or multinationals. But the one thing reporters must never attempt is to take on organised crime. Kassir's enemies in Lebanon created and lived in a world of bribery and stolen wealth which spread like a web over the Middle East, to Egypt, to Iraq, to Jordan, even to Israel. To offend Syria was to offend the Saudis. And the Iranians. This was not about individuals – Arab kings and princes rarely give orders for the murder of politicians and journalists. (The slaughter of vast masses of rebellious citizens – nationalist or Islamist – is another matter.) We are talking about corporate crime......"
A VERY GOOD PIECE
By Robert Fisk
"Did 9/11 make us all go mad? How fitting, in a weird, crazed way, that the apotheosis of that firestorm nine years ago should turn out to be a crackpot preacher threatening another firestorm with a Nazi-style book burning of the Koran. Or a would-be mosque two blocks from "ground zero" – as if 9/11 was an onslaught on Jesus-worshipping Christians, rather than on the atheist West.
But why should we be surprised? Just look at all the other crackpots spawned in the aftermath of those international crimes against humanity: the half-crazed Ahmadinejad, the smarmy post-nuclear Gaddafi, Blair with his crazed right eye and George W Bush with his black prisons and torture and lunatic "war on terror". And that wretched man who lived – or lives still – in an Afghan cave and the hundreds of al-Qa'idas whom he created, and the one-eyed mullah – not to mention all the lunatic cops and intelligence agencies and CIA thugs who failed us all – utterly – on 9/11....
...And as the sickness has spread across the Middle East and then the globe, they – the air force pilots and the insurgents, the Marines and the suicide bombers, the al-Qa'idas of the Maghreb and of the Khalij and of the Caliphate of Iraq and the special forces and the close air support boys and the throat-cutters – have torn the heads off women and children and the old and the sick and the young and healthy, from the Indus to the Mediterranean, from Bali to the London Tube; quite a memorial to the 2,966 innocents who were killed nine years ago. All in their name, it seems, has been our holocaust of fire and blood, enshrined now in the crazed pastor of Gainesville.....
And God? Where does he fit in? An archive of quotations suggests that just about every monster created in or after 9/11 is a follower of this quixotic redeemer. Bin Laden prays to God – "to turn America into a shadow of itself", as he told me in 1997 – and Bush prayed to God and Blair prayed – and prays – to God, and all the Muslim killers and an awful lot of Western soldiers and Dr (honorary) Pastor Terry Jones and his 30 (or it may be 50, since all statistics are hard to come by in the "war on terror") pray to God. And poor old God, of course, has had to listen to these prayers as he always sits through them during our mad wars. Recall the words attributed to him by a poet of another generation: "God this, God that, and God the other thing. 'Good God,' said God, 'I've got my work cut out'." And that was just the First World War... "
(Click on cartoon by Khalil Bendib to enlarge)
"10/09/2010 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday that the plan by a US church to burn Islam's holy book of Koran was a "Zionist plot" that would end up in the speedy "annihilation" of Israel [COMMENT: Sure! Tell us some more please; this is the first time we hear about this annihilation business from you. By the way, when are you going to visit the Green Zone in Baghdad, again? U.S. Marines will guarantee your safety, as they did last time.]
The Koran burning plan was a "Zionist plot that is against the teachings of all divine prophets," state television quoted Ahmadinejad as saying at a meeting of senior government officials with supreme leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei. "Zionists and their supporters are on their way to collapse and dissolution and such last-ditch actions will not save them, but multiply the pace of their fall and annihilation."....."
"Just before the attacks, in a Gallup poll conducted Sept. 7-10, 2001, less than one-half of 1% of Americans mentioned terrorism as the nation's most important problem. One month later, in October 2001, 46% named terrorism, the highest in Gallup's history.....
As terrorism has faded, other concerns have risen in importance. Over the past nine years, Americans have most commonly mentioned the war in Iraq (from 2003 to early 2008) and the economy or jobs (from 2008 to the present) as the top problem facing the country...."
"A London-based journalism nonprofit is working with the WikiLeaks Web site and TV and print media in several countries on programs and stories based on what is described as massive cache of classified U.S. military field reports related to the Iraq War. Iain Overton, editor of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, tells Declassified that his organization has teamed up with media organizations—including major television networks and one or more American media outlets—in an unspecified number of countries to produce a set of documentaries and stories based on the cache of Iraq War documents in the possession of WikiLeaks. As happened with a similar WikiLeaks collection of tens of thousands of U.S. military field reports on the Afghan war, the unidentified media organizations involved with the London group in the Iraq documents project will all be releasing their stories on the same day, which Overton says would be several weeks from now. He declined to identify any of the media organizations participating in the project.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Habila Responds (it takes two Habilas to start a religious, nonsensical war): 40,000 memorizers of Quran will graduate in answer to Quran burning
Haneyya said during his Eid sermon that the Zionist project is waning and that victory of the Palestinian people is closer than they think [I have been hearing this for the past 62 years; have your turn now, Habila.]....."
"...In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, she describes a man who became a victim of his own delusions.....
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why do you think your father sees Islam in such a hostile way?
Jones: It is relatively new. For years he led a church in Cologne that was, at first, merely Bible oriented, but later it began to have sect-like elements. Just before he left Cologne in 2008 and returned to the US, he began saying that Islam is getting the upper hand and that we can't allow it. But I didn't grow up with this radicalism.....
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Former members of his church have spoken of psychological cruelty, forced work, financial irregularities and calls to beat ones own children.
Jones: My mother, Lisa Jones, died in 1996 of a heart attack. Shortly thereafter, my father remarried and I left the church at age 17. In 2005, he offered me a job as a bookkeeper in a company belonging to the church, which sold donated furniture on eBay. I gained a new insight, and realized that my father preached things and did things that I didn't find to be in accordance with the Bible at all. He demanded that people completely obey him and his second wife, Sylvia. Both are extremely obsessed with power. I saw genuine religious delusion. A typical indication of a sect. Both of them wanted to control everything.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Did you confront your father at the time?
Jones: Yes. I didn't agree with those things which I saw as exploitation and psychological abuse. I repeatedly brought those things up. In the end, he called me into his office and said he received a message from God for me: God would take my children and then kill me. I stood up and left. Then I contacted members of the church and tried to open their eyes. And I was successful.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: It is true, then, that the church in Cologne ousted your father itself?
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is your father a megalomaniac?
Jones: I'm afraid he is. As his daughter, it is difficult for me to say that.....
SPIEGEL ONLINE: He has indicated that the final decision will be imparted to him by God. Does he see himself as someone who is in constant contact with God?
Jones: Yes. He was constantly comparing himself with Moses....."
COMMENT: He sounds similar to Jim Jones. Remember Jonestown and the massacre?
"....Take Hillary Clinton, U.S. secretary of state. “It's regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Fla., with a church of no more than fifty people can make this outrageous and distressful, disgraceful plan and get, you know, the world's attention,” Clinton said in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, a favored venue for the elites debating homicidal policies around the world. Clinton concluded, “It doesn't in any way represent America or Americans, or American government, or American religious or political leadership.”
This is the same Hillary Clinton who has spent much of her term as helmswoman of the nation’s foreign affairs demonizing Iran and threatening it with nuclear obliteration, during which uncounted millions of Korans and the people clutching them would turn to cinders.....
...What better symbol than Jones of what should have been America’s overall resilience in the aftermath of the Muslim attacks of 9/11/2001: an assertion of one of the greatest of American values, as embodied in constitutional provisions for free speech. These freedoms matter most when they are under duress. Amid the duress after 9/11/2001, the Constitution was trashed by the same leaders who now decry Jones. The same President Obama who denounced Pastor Jones for planning an act “completely contrary to our values as Americans” is defending the “extraordinary renditions” of the Bush era with “state secrets” rationales just endorsed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Read the tortures inflicted on those men rendered by US government agents to Egypt and Morocco, and judge for yourself whether Obama has any standing to preach to Jones about “our values as Americans.”
My hope had been that on the other side of the road from Pastor Jones’ burn barrels, or on some piece of property volunteered by the mayor of Gainesville, a gay man, there would have been other barrels, into which could be tossed by their opponents the Bible, and kindred sacred texts such as the Talmud, plus Bacon’s Advancement of Learning, Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity, and Das Kapital. Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature of the crucible, in which ideas and principles survive or die. "
By TARIQ ALI
"A few days ago, the West’s favorite Pakistani journalist, Ahmed Rashid, wrote a ‘guest column’ on the BBC website in which he suggested that the Afghan governance model be transferred to Pakistan.....
Ahmed Rashid wants to hand the country over to the United States and institutions under its control. Surely this is a bit mean spirited to the other world powers. Given the dodgy state of the US economy he would be better advised to expand the list. Perhaps four global multinationals (based in the United States, Germany, China and Russia) could set up a consortium (AFPAKCO) and start bidding for failing states, starting with Pakistan.
What Blackwater, its subsidiaries and rivals are doing for the US and British armies, could be replicated in civil society by big banks, oil giants and the nuclear industry. They could take over and run a few countries and if they messed up the World Bank and IMF could bail them out. The elites, many of their number already on the payroll, would happily sell out completely. And if the consortium were broad-based enough then the Pakistan Army would willingly police the new structure in return for a larger monthly check than it receives currently from CENTCOM...."
"A new report by the London-based International Insititute for the Strategic Studies (IISS) concludes that the threat posed by al-Qaeda and Taliban is exaggerated and that the strategy in Afghanistan has "ballooned" out of proportion from the original aim of preventing attacks by al-Qaeda. With the US due to review its own progress at the end of the year, how will this impact future strategy in Afghanistan?"
YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS VIDEO!
"Leading fundamentalist rabbis gather in Israel to defend the publication of a book, Torat Ha'Melech, that attempted to provide halakhic justification for the killing of non-Jews, including innocent children and families. The gathering exposed not only the ferocious racism of a swath of Israel's pro-settlement rabbinate, but the powerlessness of the government to stop them. Produced by Max Blumenthal, Joseph Dana and Alternet."
"As the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks approached and the land of the free was still enmeshed in war to combat the rising tide of Islamic world dominance, a coalition of Republican politicians, talk show hosts and assorted wackos moved without hindrance throughout the American land, in a reign of intolerance, bigotry and catchy sound bites. This was the American Inquisition ...."
".......What we can be sure of is that that the halfhearted peace attempt will garner nothing good. If an agreement is somehow concocted, it is doomed to fail. The Palestinian people, the absent but real party in any lasting solution, will simply not allow it. The Palestinian collective has the tendency to watch charades to their end, and then react at the opportune moment to defeat them. Almost every Palestinian revolt in the past has resulted from similar processes, the Second Palestinian Uprising of 2000 being the most pertinent example. When Arafat was being humiliated and forced into submission to US-Israeli diktats, Palestinians of all parties and from all sections of society rose in anger. Israel understood the revolt as a Palestinian attempt at extracting concessions and used unprecedented violence to quell their revolt. Many thousands were killed and wounded, and the rest is history.
If violence spirals this time around, it promises to be much worse than before. Those who cling to resistance in Palestine have been bolstered by the success of Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. More, they are emboldened by their political legitimacy as a result of the democratic elections of 2006. Predictably, Netanyahu will not shy away from interpreting Palestinian protests as a conspiracy to intimidate Israel. The problem with violence is that once it reaches a new threshold, it rarely retreats to old parameters. What took place in Gaza at the hand of the Israeli army in 2008-09 was frighteningly genocidal in its scope. Future violence is likely to stay within this category.
To avoid this, Washington’s strategists really need to reconsider the long-term consequences of their government’s policies. Obama’s choreographers might succeed in getting a few leaders to stand in perfect order before a crowd of reporters, but they will fail to contain the political chaos that will ensue when the talks fail, as they surely will."
by Justin Raimondo, September 10, 2010
(Cartoon by Emad Hajjaj)
"One would think that after nine years at least some of the anger, the horror and shock of the 9/11 terrorist attacks would have dissipated: but no. A glimpse at the headlines, a few days before the somber anniversary, disabuses us of this hopeful notion: a crazed pastor out in the boonies somewhere is burning Korans, and the commander of our forces in Afghanistan feels compelled to respond, as does the President. The proposal to build a Muslim community center blocks from "ground zero" – modeled on Jewish community centers ubiquitous in New York – is met with furious opposition, and the "anti-Islamization" movement spearheaded by bigots takes off, with mosques all over the country under attack. Physical attacks on Muslims, or people perceived as Muslim, escalate: a New York City cabbie is assaulted by a crazed Islamophobe, and people who have lived in this country for the whole of their lives are afraid.....
What happened on September 11, 2001, has changed the shape of history, and certainly determined the utterly disastrous course of US foreign policy since that day. We have launched a war of retribution against the entire Muslim world, a vast campaign of bombings, drone attacks, occupation, and terror unleashed on the peoples of the Middle East, from Iraq to Pakistan. This is precisely why the Israelis didn’t tell us what Mohammed Atta and his co-conspirators were up to, although – if we take Fox News seriously, and I realize there are plenty who don’t – there is no doubt that they had it in their power to stop the whole operation before the hijackers had a chance to strike. All they had to do was tell us – and they didn’t. This is the "intelligence failure" – not the lack of centralized information, not the competition between the CIA and the FBI – that made the 9/11 terrorist attacks possible: the perfidy of our Israeli "ally."....."
"....Data provided by the Pentagon’s Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), however, shows that IEDs planted by Afghan insurgents killed nearly 40 percent more U.S. and NATO troops in the first eight months of 2010 than in the comparable period of 2009.
The data also show that Taliban IEDs wounded 2,025 U.S. and NATO troops in the first eight months of this year – almost twice the 1,035 wounded in the same months last year.....
The JIEDDO data on IED incidents by month also provides evidence that the U.S. and NATO forces have failed to win the trust of the population in the Pashtun provinces where the Taliban have been strongest. The JIEDDO figures show that the proportion of IEDs turned in by the population has continued to fall with each passing year since the NATO military buildup in Pashtun areas began in 2006....."
"....So I was right about the middle-aged lady. But has the law changed that much? Is that woman really safe? I'm not sure I like Khodr's reply. "It is not logical to change the law at once when the values of the society are not up to that level," she says. "There must be gradual development. Yet we cannot ignore the fact that changes are going on. In our new laws, 95 per cent of court judgments are a minimum of 10 years for 'honour' crimes. Arab law is largely based on French law, which is patriarchal. No, there is nothing in the Koran for 'honour' killings, apart from lashes for adultery. Historically, stoning was a Jewish practice, afterwards used by conservative Muslims. Yes, it was patriarchal, a practice that is easy to spread. But in Middle Ages Europe, women were victims of killings because of witchcraft, were they not? The church played the same patriarchal role in those days."
We talk late into the afternoon, about the women's union, about Egypt and poverty, about religion. "The most important way of 'empowering' women" – I admit I've never liked that phrase – "is by encouraging economic opportunities," she says. "You need social justice and development to get rid of patriarchy. You cannot just rely on the law. No institutional or state powers can do all this. Some people who believe in this patriarchy are trying to exploit even God."...."
By Robert Fisk
"....But within the villa lie the dark secrets of a society, stories which are not supposed to be told, tales of female terror and death which are meant to remain within the family, within the community, within the refugee camps. These stories are not for strangers from the West. Yet Nadia Shamroukh – perhaps the most exuberant, courageous, intelligent woman to emerge in this women's organisation – wants to talk: about the 4,000 women who have passed through her group's shelters; about her staff who work for nothing; about their lawyers who fight for the rights of women in the courts; about their 14 offices in Jordan which try to protect the country's women from violence and death threats. Irbid is the busiest, along with the Palestinian refugee camps.....
In Jordan, the government has also opened a shelter, of which Shamroukh approves. "We are dealing with family law in the Arab world: in Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan. We approach all this through the civil law. The judges fought back. They said they couldn't interfere with religion. So now we are going to target the Arab League. Here in Jordan, there are Christians as well as Muslims, and per capita the Christians suffer from 'honour' crimes more than the Muslims."
Many of Jordan's Christian community – perhaps most – are Palestinian refugees."
By Patrick Cockburn
"In the Pakistani town of Gojra in Punjab just over a year ago word spread among Muslims that a local Christian had burned a copy of the Koran. It was untrue, but within hours a mob had started setting fire to Christian houses in Gojra. In one of them, a man, a woman and four children were burned to death.
The persecution of Christian communities across the Muslim world has escalated rapidly since the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Christians are often seen as the natural allies of western occupiers and, as a minority, are highly vulnerable to retaliation....
Incidents like this are not unheard of, but the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001, and the consequent pervasive anti-Americanism in the Muslim world, has strengthened Jihadi Islam and made it more dangerous to be a Christian. "
"10/09/2010 Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei said Friday US-sponsored talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is a cover-up for Israeli crimes against the Palestinian nation.
"The Zionist regime, with utmost impudence, is continuing its cruelty on the oppressed Palestinian people, while in Washington there is a peace meeting. Peace with whom?" Sayyed Khamenei said addressing crowds gathering at Tehran University, where the Leader led Eid al-Fitr prayers. "They (US) want to cover up the Palestinian issue and the crimes committed there with this meeting which is dubbed a peace meeting. They are just standing and watching with disregard and then they set up a peace meeting. What peace? Peace between who and who?"....."
Thursday, September 9, 2010
"Sometimes, reading an article about war, I want to puke. Recovering from Max Blumenthal’s latest bombshell from Haifa, that was my first impulse. Eventually, though, I merely cried:
[Dr. Yehuda Hiss] also conceded to taking “samples” from Corrie’s body for “histological testing” without informing her family. Just which parts of Corrie’s body Hiss took remains unclear; despite Hiss’s claim that he “buried” the samples, her family has not confirmed the whereabouts of her missing body parts.
Dr.Hiss came to attention because of this:
The chief pathologist of Israel for a decade and a half, Hiss was implicated by a 2001 investigation by the Israeli Health Ministry of stealing body parts ranging from legs to testicles to ovaries from bodies without permission from family members then selling them to research institutes. Bodies plundered by Hiss included those of Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. He was finally removed from his post in 2004 when the body of a teenage boy killed in a traffic accident was discovered to have been thoroughly gnawed on by a rat in Hiss’s laboratory. In an interview with researcher Nancy Schepper-Hughes, Hiss admitted that he harvested organs if he was confident relatives would not discover that they were missing. He added that he often used glue to close eyelids to hide missing corneas."
Contributed by Molly
BY NIR ROSEN SEPTEMBER 7, 2010
"....Iraq has had several declarations of sovereignty since the first one in June 2004. As with earlier milestones, it's not clear what exactly this one means. Since the Americans have declared the end of combat operations, U.S. Stryker and MRAP vehicles can be seen conducting patrols without Iraqi escorts in parts of the country and the Americans continue to conduct unilateral military operations in Mosul and elsewhere, even if under the guise of "force protection" or "countering improvised explosive devices." American military officers in Iraq told me they were irate with the politically driven announcement from the White House that combat troops had withdrawn. Those remaining still consider themselves combat troops, and commanders say there is little change in their rules of engagement -- they will still respond to threats pre-emptively....."
by Prof. Marc W. Herold (M.I.T.)
(Edited Transcript of a Public lecture by professor Marc Herold, Massachussetts Institute of Technology.)
Global Research, September 7, 2010
"....The resistance differs greatly from other national liberation movements like those in Algeria, Vietnam, Angola, or Peru (Sendero Luminoso) insofar as it lacks a national political vanguard party. In Algeria and Vietnam, the armed struggle against the occupier began with the formation of a national liberation front. [COMMENT: This is also what the Palestinians lack today.] In Afghanistan, on the other hand, the national liberation movement emerged de facto after the aggressions of the foreign occupiers. This reflects the particular specificity of Afghanistan wherein family-clan-tribe-ethnic group form the primary social cohesion blocks. Afghanistan never was a secular nation-state; instead a figurehead, royal sovereign reigned over the little urban island of Kabul (just as Karzai, the ‘mayor of Kabul,’ has since 2002).
We saw the fragile unity at the national level in the Taliban movement in its tenuous relationship with the Al Qaeda group. The latter had clear national and international political agendas, whereas the Taliban’s focus was upon strengthening the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan proper inspired by the Deobandi interpretation of Islam, removing un-Islamic foreign influences. As I mentioned earlier, the Taliban were even willing to hand over Osama bin Laden in early October 2001 in return for a cessation of the brutal U.S. bombing. The Haqqani hard-line faction within the Taliban maintained a greater affinity and working relationship with Al Qaeda (it also remains the cutting edge in military terms of the Afghan resistance).
What the U.S-led occupation did was to provide the glue during 2003-6 to bring together disparate groups united in a fight against the foreign occupier (and his obvious corrupt, puppet regime in Kabul), i.e. liberation from the foreign occupation. In effect, this is a replay of the anti-Soviet struggle in which a variety of mujahideen groups aligned themselves against the Soviets. And just as when the Soviets withdrew in 1989, the disparate members of the current temporary national liberation movement will disband once the US/NATO exit and pursue their own regional agendas. In other words, I use the word “liberation” here in a very constrained way: this is no implied social liberation from multiple forms of social oppression. There is no guarantee what emerges after: Islamic Sharia, a bourgeois democracy, or a socialist state. The mujahideen anti-Soviet national liberation war resulted in six years of deadly civil war. Those who wish to conflate national and social liberation (however defined) may do so at their own intellectual peril. I would caution, however, against whining about a lack of “democracy” in post-occupation Afghanistan. Samir Amin has argued that the term “democracy” - or the ‘democratic question’ (whose essence is of course the caricature of ‘multi-party elections’) has been and continues to be employed by the Triad of collective imperialism (and its academic point men/women) as a battering ram in its geopolitical struggle to open up the world to the dictates of the market. But, democracy in its essence is about accountability and traditional societies whether Native American Indian or rural Afghan may have community structures of responsibility and/or accountability, admittedly sometimes imperfect (respectively constrained here by money and there by religion). We whether bourgeois democrats or Marxists, might not like this national movement but that should not cloud our analysis. As Julian Assange recently stated, “the Taliban is part of the will of Afghan people.”
An optimistic vision of Afghanistan’s post-occupation future must involve a very loose federative structure with significant regional autonomy, allowing regions to implement their visions of socio-economic “development.” For example, one would hope that Afghanistan’s innovative National Solidarity Program of grassroots development would be greatly expanded.
As my dear friends from RAWA put it, first get rid of the foreign oppressors, then we’ll focus upon the remaining home-bred ones. Is that not better than continued…..maiming……abductions……and fear?"
"Mohammed el-Baradei, a former Egyptian diplomat, is demanding political reform and a boycott of the upcoming elections. But will he transform Egypt into a genuine democracy? How far will he be able to go? And is Egypt about to enter a new phase in its democratic transformation?"
".....Okay readers, I know many will object to being required to vote and the rejection of a secret ballot. I know Amendment 28 is not going to happen but there has to be a restoration of some form of transparency and accountability in America’s obstinately interventionist foreign policy. Why the United States persists in foreign and security policies that do not serve the nation is very clear. It is because currently the legislators in Washington and the hardliners back home in their constituencies who are eager to bash the Muslims and kick butt generally have absolutely no serious stake in the wars that they promulgate. They are not being taxed to pay for them and, by and large, their children are not being used as cannon fodder. It is other people’s kids who are paying that price while the wars themselves are being funded on an international credit card with the tab being picked up temporarily by Asians who have been foolish enough to buy US Treasury bonds. Some measure to actually make the people who want war take the risks and pay the bills is long overdue. My bet is that if we were to make war more personally painful the percentage of the public calling for attacks on Iran, Yemen, and Somalia to expand the ongoing splendid adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan would drop to single digits."
(Honour' murders are a hidden crisis in Cairo and across Egypt, where they are regarded as a tradition, and therefore permissible.)
By Robert Fisk
".....Officially, Egypt has no "honour" killings. Young women may commit suicide, yes, but they are never murdered. This is the government line – and of course, it is a lie. The files in Azza Suleiman's Centre for Egyptian Women's Legal Assistance office – and in those of other NGOs in Cairo – tell the truth. In May of 2007, a farmer in southern Egypt decapitated his daughter after discovering she had a boyfriend.....
According to Azza Suleiman, foreign NGOs are refused projects if they make politically unacceptable remarks. She says the police have interfered with her social projects, even those intended to improve relations between Christian and Muslim women. "The police rang me and said: 'We will teach you a lesson.' So I said in a newspaper interview: 'The police are like wild dogs.' That's when they stopped our projects. The police asked me to apologise, so I did. I said: "What I said was a mistake – dogs are much nicer than the police.""
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 9 September 2010
"When Tony Blair's memoir, A Journey, was released last week, columnists and reviewers focused on his fairly unrevealing comments about the Iraq war. Less widely reported is Blair's account of his other major misjudgment in the Middle East: his stubborn refusal to call for a ceasefire during the 2006 Lebanon war.....
A Journey thus presents Blair's actions in summer 2006 as those of a committed ideologue, not simply Bush's poodle as previously charged. Blair seems driven by a world view that, though not explicitly neoconservative, certainly has similarities. He sees the Middle East through a largely religious lens, frames its complex conflicts though a simplified struggle between radical and moderate Islam and is willing to use force and sacrifice lives to achieve its aims, irrespective of public and expert opinion.
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 9 September 2010
".....There is a paradox here, because Arab regimes have an almost insatiable urge to control. They legislate and regulate endlessly, they establish large armies and security forces and employ vast bureaucracies – and yet their ability to exercise power and influence the behaviour of their citizens is far more limited than it looks.
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 8 September 2010
"The Israeli soldier convicted of killing British activist Tom Hurndall was released from prison today, two years before completing his sentence.
When Killing is a Sport: US soldiers 'killed Afghan civilians for sport and collected fingers as trophies'
Chris McGreal in Washington
The Guardian, Thursday 9 September 2010
"Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret "kill team" that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies.
Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians....."
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
The 75-year-old cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, whose drawings of Mohammed that offended Muslims worldwide first appeared in Danish paper Jyllands-Posten in 2005, was due to receive a prize Wednesday evening at a conference on freedom of the press.
At a time of fierce debate in Germany over disparaging remarks about Muslim immigrants made by a central bank member, some Muslims criticized the center-right chancellor and the media said she was taking a risk by honoring a man whom many Muslims believe insulted their faith.
Aiman Mazyek of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany said in a statement: "Merkel is honoring the cartoonist who in our view trampled on our Prophet and trampled on all Muslims."....."
"(Jerusalem) - An Israeli military court's conviction of Abdullah Abu Rahme, an advocate of nonviolent protests against Israel's de facto confiscation of land from the West Bank village of Bil'in, raises grave due process concerns, Human Rights Watch said today. On August 24, 2010, Abu Rahme, who has been detained for more than eight months, was convicted on charges of organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations and inciting protestors to damage the separation barrier, throw stones at Israeli soldiers, and participate in violent protests.
The convictions were based on allegations that did not specify any particular incidents of wrongdoing and on statements by children who retracted them in court, alleging they were coerced, and who did not understand Hebrew, the language in which Israeli military interrogators prepared the statements they signed.....
"Israel's conviction of Abu Rahme for protesting the unlawful confiscation of his village's land is the unjust result of an unfair trial," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The Israeli authorities are effectively banning peaceful expression of political speech by convicting supporters of nonviolent resistance."...."
By Amy Goodman
The ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States should serve as a moment to reflect on tolerance. It should be a day of peace. Yet the rising anti-Muslim fervor here, together with the continuing U.S. military occupation of Iraq and the escalating war in Afghanistan (and Pakistan), all fuel the belief that the U.S. really is at war with Islam.
Sept. 11, 2001, united the world against terrorism. Everyone, it seemed, was with the United States, standing in solidarity with the victims, with the families who lost loved ones. The day will be remembered for generations to come, for the notorious act of coordinated mass murder. But that was not the first Sept. 11 to be associated with terror:
Sept. 11, 1973, Chile: Democratically elected President Salvadore Allende died in a CIA-backed military coup that ushered in a reign of terror under dictator Augusto Pinochet, in which thousands of Chileans were killed.
Sept. 11, 1977, South Africa: Anti-apartheid leader Stephen Biko was being beaten in a police van. He died the next day.
Sept. 11, 1990, Guatemala: Guatemalan anthropologist Myrna Mack was murdered by the U.S.-backed military.
I am reminded, as well, by the steady stream of pictures of young people in the military killed in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and now, with increasing frequency (although pictured less in the news), who kill themselves after multiple combat deployments.
For each of the U.S. or NATO casualties, there are literally hundreds of victims in Iraq and Afghanistan whose pictures will never be shown, whose names we will never know.
While angry mobs continue attempts to thwart the building of an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan (in a vacant, long-ignored, damaged building more than two blocks away), an evangelical “minister” in Florida is organizing a Sept. 11 “International Burn the Koran Day.” Gen. David Petraeus has stated that the burning, which has sparked protests around the globe, “could endanger troops.” He is right. But so does blowing up innocent civilians and their homes.
Right after Sept. 11, 2001, as thousands gathered in parks around New York City, holding impromptu candlelit vigils, a sticker appeared on signs, placards and benches. It read, “Our grief is not a cry for war.”
This Sept. 11, that message is still—painfully, regrettably—timely.
Let’s make Sept. 11 a day without war.
""During War there are no civilians," that’s what “Yossi,” an Israeli military (IDF) training unit leader simply stated during a round of questioning on day two of the Rachel Corrie trials, held in Haifa’s District Court earlier this week. “When you write a [protocol] manual, that manual is for war,” he added.
For the human rights activists and friends and family of Rachel Corrie sitting in the courtroom, this open admission of an Israeli policy of indiscrimination towards civilians -- Palestinian or foreign -- created an audible gasp.
Yet, put into context, this policy comes as no surprise. The Israeli military’s track record of insouciance towards the killings of Palestinians, from the 1948 massacre of Deir Yassin in Jerusalem to the 2008-2009 attacks on Gaza that killed upwards of 1400 men, women and children, has illustrated that not only is this an entrenched operational framework but rarely has it been challenged until recently.....
With Lamis Andoni
"Relations between Syria and Lebanon have improved and now Hariri has dramatically changed track. But why now? Who is behind it? And where does it leave the investigation into Raik Hariri's death?"
by Justin Raimondo, September 08, 2010
"In conversation with a progressive friend of mine the other day, I had occasion to hear a valid criticism of my writing: why, he asked me, do you limit yourself to attacking the left on the war question, why not praise them when they’re doing something right? This is a paraphrase, and not a word for word quotation, but you get the idea: an entirely negative critique, given the left’s storied history of anti-interventionism, is not entirely fair.
However, it is precisely because of the long, heroic tradition of left-wing anti-imperialism that I tend to get a bit bitchy when it comes to the contemporary record, which hardly measures up. When I hear that United For Peace and Justice, the major antiwar coalition controlled by Communist party types, has basically dissolved itself – at a time when the US is fighting two and a half wars, with a third in the making – I tend to suspect they’re just not that into it, as the saying goes. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that their hero, President Obama, is the one fighting the wars now, and without George W. Bush to demonize anymore, the fight has gone out of them....."
By Robert Fisk in Amman
"Call her Hanan. She sits in front of me, a red scarf tied round her long intelligent face, her wide, bright eyes sparkling as she tells her story, her two-year-old son Omar restless on the chair beside her. To save the "honour" of her family – and to avoid being killed by her youngest brother – she has married her own rapist. To save the "honour" of her family – to stay alive – she is now divorcing her rapist. Omar, drinking orange juice, jumping on his plastic chair, is the rapist's son.
Hanan is the victim of a vast, corrupt system of "honour" crimes that plagues the Middle East, and takes the lives of at least 5,000 women – perhaps four times that number – a year, a vicious patriarchal system of extra-judicial killings in which a chance conversation between an unmarried woman and a stranger, a mere rumour of extra-marital relations – let alone sexual relations – leads to death by throat-cutting, strangulation, beheading or shooting....."
Also see this, by Robert Fisk:
Relatives with blood on their hands
Eight of the women who sought refuge in Hina Jilani's Lahore shelter died later at the hands of their families. In the second part of our investigation, the lawyer explains how authorities covered up
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 8 September 2010
".....Meanwhile, Lebanon's Palestinians live in the thrall of dark memories. They commune with the spirits of Sabra and Shatila and clutch their weapons. They recall the War of the Camps and grasp them more tightly. Theirs is an endless insecurity. They exist outside the social fabric and rely on an illusion of martial security.
I use the word "illusion" deliberately. When terrorists infiltrated the Nahr al-Bared camp in 2007, the army simply razed the camp to eliminate them. Here the Palestinians felt their second-class status acutely – a Lebanese village would not have been razed – and saw that their guns were powerless to prevent the destruction.....
If the Palestinians are to disarm, Lebanon must provide them with security guarantees – which means that other historically antagonistic militias must also be disarmed. Palestinians won't consent to relinquishing their arms so long as the Lebanese Forces militia possesses the strength to massacre civilians in the camps once again. Therefore, Palestinian disarmament has to occur within the context of a greater Lebanese disarmament.
Simultaneously, the state ought to incentivise Palestinian disarmament by increasing access to Lebanese society; it's not enough to say that Palestinian security is guaranteed....."
Jack Shenker in Cairo
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 7 September 2010
"Former UN nuclear weapons chief and prominent Egyptian dissident Mohamed ElBaradei has called on Egyptians to boycott next month's parliamentary elections, threatening a campaign of mass civil disobedience if his demands for political reform continue to be ignored.
In his most provocative speech to date since making a high-profile return to Cairo earlier this year, the Nobel Laureate warned that the poll would be marred by fraud, and that "anyone who participates in the vote either as a candidate or a voter goes against the national will".....
In the meantime, he is trying to persuade the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest organised opposition movement [Comment: Some Opposition! They Just Want a Seat at the Table, and Are Used as "Democratic" Decor by the Pharaoh. The Same Applies to Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood and the Puppet King.], to join the boycott of next month's parliamentary elections.
"If the whole people boycott the elections totally it will be, in my view, the end of the regime," he told supporters yesterday."