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Egypt Closes Banks, Stock Market; Protests Spread to Saudi Arabia, Jordan; Saudi King Backs Mubarak; Reflections on Misguided US Policy

Posted on 29 January 2011 by admin

One sure way to get people fired up is to shut down the stock market and all the banks, thereby denying citizens access to their money. Yet, that is exactly the desperate course of action chosen by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Protests have now spread to Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. So far however, the protests in Saudi Arabia are of a peaceful nature, mostly related to government response to flooding. Recent history suggests that may change at any moment into something far more significant.

In a move that can easily backfire, the Saudi king defended Mubarak and offered support.

Meanwhile, in Jordan, the pace of protests have now picked up as opposition supporters have held rallies in Amman and called for the resignation of Jordan’s prime minister.

Egyptian Bourse, Banks to Close

Bloomberg reports Egyptian Bourse, Banks to Close Tomorrow on Unrest

The Egyptian bourse will be closed tomorrow after thousands of protestors congregated in central Cairo for a fifth day and President Hosni Mubarak ignored demands to resign. Banks will also be shut, State TV said.

“No one expected this to take place and at such a fast sequence of events,” said Mohamed Radwan, head of international sales at Cairo-based Pharos Holding for Financial Investment. “The critical time frame for the market is from now until the implementation of economic and democratic reforms demanded by the people.”

Soldiers, backed by armored carriers and tanks, are guarding banks and government buildings in the capital after acts of looting and theft yesterday. Forty people were killed and another 1,100 people were injured yesterday and today in the clashes that have swept major cities including Cairo, according to the Egyptian Health Ministry. The government of Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif resigned today at Mubarak’s request.

Domino Effect

Bloomberg reports Saudi Stocks Decline Most Since May as Egyptians Defy Curfew 

Saudi Arabian shares retreated the most since May on concern political unrest could spread in the Middle East after Egyptian protesters clashed with police and the North African country’s president refused to resign.

The Tadawul All Share Index tumbled 6.4 percent, the most since May 25, to 6,267.22 at the 3:30 p.m. close in Riyadh. All but one of the 146 shares fell. Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s largest petrochemical maker, slumped 7.5 percent. Savola Azizia United Co., a food producer with subsidiaries in Egypt, dropped 10 percent, the maximum fluctuation allowed in a single trading session.

“There is a lot of worry looming among investors that we’re going to see a domino effect across the region,” said Amro Halwani, a trader at Shuaa Capital PSC in Riyadh. “That is pushing investors away from equities and straight into cash. It is panic selling across the board.”

Mubarak appoints leaders as protests rage

MarketWatch reports Mubarak appoints leaders as protests rage

Mubarak appointed his intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, vice president and named former civil aviation minister Ahmed Shafik prime minister. Shafik was charged with setting up a new government.

The appointment of the 74-year-old Suleiman may signal that Mubarak won’t run again in presidential elections in September. But the appointments of Suleiman and Shafik didn’t slow protestors’ demands for Mubarak’s resignation or immediately satisfy the Obama administration.

“The Egyptian government can’t reshuffle the deck and then stand pat,” U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley wrote Saturday on Twitter. “President Mubarak’s words pledging reform must be followed by action.”

Protests Call for Ouster of Jordanian Prime Minister

Anti-government action in Jordan picked up and Jordanian Protesters Say Prime Minister Must Go

Taking their cue from Tunisia and Egypt, an estimated 3,000 Jordanians marched through the streets after Friday prayers, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Samir Rifai and calling for political and economic reforms.

They warned corrupt Arab leaders would face the same fate as ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Peaceful protests were also held in the cities of Irbid, Karak, Maan, and Diban, AFP reported. Jordan has a population of six million, 70 percent of whom under the age of 30. Official unemployment is running at about 14 percent, but other estimates put joblessness at 30 percent.

The government says it is pumping around $500 million into the economy to improve the people’s standard of living.

Peaceful Protests in Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, Dozens of protesters arrested in Jeddah

Dozens of protesters have been arrested in Saudi Arabia’s second biggest city after they protested against the weaknesses of infrastructure of Jeddah.

The protests were triggered on Friday after floods swept through the city, killing at least four people, and raising fears of a repeat of the deadly 2009 deluge, in which more than 120 people lost their lives.

On Wednesday, torrential rains caused flooding that swept away cars and downed electric lines in Jeddah.

The oil-rich kingdom lacks the basic necessary systems and structures to drain water out of the residential areas during a heavy rainfall.

Given infrastructure is this bad, I have a simple question: What the hell is Saudi Arabia doing with all the oil money it receives?

I also have an answer: It is going into the pockets of billionaire sheiks who have more money than they possibly know what to do with. The same could be said for multi-billionaires everywhere.

Saudi Protest Video

Saudi king vows support for Mubarak

Inquiring minds are likely pondering the wisdom of this action: Saudi king vows support for Mubarak

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah ensures Mohamed Hosni Mubarak of his support amid nationwide protests against the Egyptian president’s three-decade-long rule.

In a Saturday telephone conversation with Mubarak, Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud described the popular movements as “tampering with Egypt’s security and stability in the name of freedom of expression,” AFP reported.

The Saudi king branded the protesters as “intruders” and said, “Saudi Arabia stands with all its power with the government and people of Egypt.”

The comments came after a Human Rights Watch report lambasted Riyadh earlier in the week for mistreatment of women, foreign labor and the Kingdom’s Shia minority.

There is widespread approval among Arabs for the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Offering support to someone who is clearly despised does not seem like a prudent move to me.

Reflections on Decades of Misguided US Policy

President Obama is attempting to play this from both sides as best he can. For more details on his phone conversations with Mubarak, please consider

    1. Mubarak’s Acts of Cowardice; Obama Calls Mubarak for 30-Minutes; Cell Service, Internet Total Shutdown; Anarchy in Cairo; How Long can Mubarak Last?

 

  1. Egypt Calls in Army, Imposes Curfew; Mubarak Orders Ministers to Resign; US Puts Egypt Aid Under Review; Will the US Get this one Right?

It’s important to note that I am not talking about mistakes in current US policy but rather misguided policy decisions over the decades.

  • We supported a corrupt Shah of Iran and look at the results.
  • We supported Iraq on the hopelessly flawed theory “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” There are pictures of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Hussein.
  • We gave chemical weapons to Iraq.
  • Our intelligence do not see the takeover of the US embassy in Iran coming.
  • Our CIA trained Bin Laden to fight Russia in Afghanistan. Now we are hunting Bin Laden and fighting in Afghanistan.
  • We have wasted trillion of dollars in both Iraq and Afghanistan and all we have to show for it is more enemies.

Contrast that that with our actions in Tunisia. We did not spend a dime, nor did our intelligence efforts even see it coming. Yet, in Tunisia, a protest by the people overthrew overthrew Tunisian strongman Zine el Abidine ben Ali.

Wall of Fear Comes Down

The La Times reports Fearless protesters challenge regimes around Middle East

Reporting from Tunis, Tunisia — A wall of fear has come down.

All across the Arab world, people living under the thumb of repressive leaders are rising up against the rulers who once seemed omnipotent.

They are using the Internet to network and spread the word. They are watching themselves on satellite television. They are drawing strength from the hyperactive energy of the frustrated young people dismissed and discarded by their governments.

It is a contagious spirit.

“It’s like a transition moment in the Arab world,” said Mohammad Abou Rouman, a political researcher at the University of Jordan, in Amman, where protests erupted Friday. “It’s the influence of the Tunisian domino, and it will not stop. It will go to other Arab states.”

The uprisings are having a ricochet effect across the Arab world. People are watching the events unfolding on television and Facebook and identifying with the people in the streets.

“I was with my friends on Facebook, and we encouraged each other,” said Dali ben Salem, a 25-year-old intern in pharmacy in Tunis. “The solidarity helped me to face the fear.”

And whether or not Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak manages to survive what one analyst called a political “tsunami” that is enveloping the Arab world, things will never return to normal, analysts said.

War of the Future

How much money did the US spend on misguided missile programs and misguided missile defense systems, only to be defeated by a group of hijackers with razor blades? Is there more of a threat from a suitcase bomb or a missile?

How much money do we waste keeping troops in 140 countries where they are mostly not wanted?

Please remember Bin Laden’s primary objection to the US was that US troops were on sacred Arab soil. So why do we do it? What has it brought us but misery?

We have caused countless trillions of dollars of destruction in Iraq, and in Afghanistan. Sadly, the war in Afghanistan is no more winnable than the War in Vietnam.

Quiet revolutions by the people are the war of the future, and the only kind of war that makes any sense.

Please note that Tunisia did not cost US taxpayers a dime. We should not have wasted a dime to get rid of Hussein either. Iraq was not a threat to the US. Simply put, it was a matter for the Iraqi people to settle, not us.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

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Webster Tarpley: CIA fuels ‘mob rule’ in Arab world to change power

Posted on 29 January 2011 by admin

From: RussiaToday  | Jan 29, 2011  | 44,845 views

The U.S. government had been planning to topple the Egyptian President for the past three years – that’s according to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks. The files show Washington had been secretly backing leading figures behind the uprising. Reportedly some fifty people have died and hundreds more injured in nationwide demonstrations since Tuesday. Protesters have returned to Cairo’s central square this morning reiterating calls for President Hosni Mubarak to step down. Earlier the president dismissed his government, but refused to quit. Unrest in Egypt comes weeks after a month of chaos in Tunisia, which saw 80 deaths and the president being toppled before fleeing into exile. Investigative journalist, Webster Tarpley, told RT, Washington wants to put new leaders in power in the Arab world to follow the U.S. agenda.
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Tony Blair : A Bright Shining Lie.

Posted on 18 July 2010 by admin

Tony Blair : A Bright Shining Lie.

Felicity Arbuthnot
Part I

“If justice and truth take place,
If he is rewarded according to his just desert,
His name will stink to all generations.”
(William Wesley, 1703-1791.)

It has been a good couple of weeks of medal gathering for Charles Anthony Lynton Blair, QC. To add a lucrative and glittering array (1) he has added to the (30th June) announcement of the (US) National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal, the award of a second “Freedom Medal” (first, January 2009, from the US) on 10th July.

The man who scribbled: “I just do not understand this”, in the margin of the advice from his top Law Lord, that the the invasion of Iraq would be illegal without a second United Nations Resolution, ignored, or dodged legalities, committing his country to the destruction of a sovereign nation, has been honoured again, this time, some might say, appropriately.

The awarding country is Kosovo, where the rule of law, it seems, has yet to become the rule of thumb.

According the the (US) Overseas Security Advisory Council, “Kosovo 2010 Crime and Safety Report”, there is: ” … a high level of crime … violent crimes can and do occur – even in downtown (capitol) Pristina … stay alert …If you normally carry a wallet … put it in a front pocket and put your hand in your pocket to hold onto it when in a crowd. Better yet, leave your wallet with your driver’s license and U.S. department store credit cards in the hotel safe. When walking with a purse or bag (ensure) it is closed and tuck it under your arm …

Do not leave your purse or bag over the back of your chair at a restaurant, watch that no one kicks your bag or purse out from under your table at a restaurant, and be particularly vigilant of where you place your belongings when at a sidewalk café. Make a copy of your passport data page and carry the paper copy instead of your actual passport … it is inadvisable to use (credit cards) for incidental purchases, each use increases the chance of compromise.” Using an ATM should be “avoided.”

If the visitor decides the rural scenery might be preferable: “Driving is becoming increasingly dangerous (with) a 30% increase in traffic fatalities … and a 55% increase in hit-and-run incidents. Defensive driving is a must (but) given the sharp increase in injuries and deaths, it may not be enough. Do not drive unless you really have to, and limit your driving to hours of daylight …”

Avoid public celebrations, a magnet for pickpockets – and people are : “…occasionally, killed by the falling bullets.” Still set on the ultimate living-on-the edge adventure holiday? “…. the relative availability of … weapons has led to … RPG attacks, grenade attacks, and use of automatic weapons—even in downtown Pristina.”

“All international security and intelligence agencies regularly portray a dismaying image of the province, a sort of ‘European Medellin or Cali.’ ” (3)

It also has to be wondered if “I’m a pretty straight forward sort of guy”, Blair, has read any of the reports on the level of corruption in this State he supported with characteristic gung-ho righteousness:

“Drug barons in (neighbouring) Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia (with links to the Italian Mafia) had become the new economic elites, often associated with Western business interests. In turn, the financial proceeds of the trade in drugs and arms were recycled towards other illicit activities (and vice versa) including a vast prostitution racket between Albania and Italy.” Albanian criminal groups operating in Milan: “have become so powerful running prostitution rackets that they have even taken over the Calabrians in strength and influence.”

Further: “The application of “strong economic medicine’, under the guidance of the Washington based Bretton Woods institutions, had contributed to wrecking Albania’s banking system and precipitating the collapse of the Albanian economy. The resulting chaos enabled American and European transnationals to carefully position themselves. Several Western oil companies including Occidental, Shell and British Petroleum had their eyes riveted on Albania’s abundant and unexplored oil-deposits. Western investors were also gawking Albania’s extensive reserves of chrome, copper, gold, nickel and platinum…. ” (4) In 1999, one mine owner told a journalist that the region including Kosovo, was “the Balkans’ Kuwait.”

And for the thrill seeker, just getting out of Pristina airport might present the challenge sought. In March 2009, the UN Secretary General’s Office devoted a long Report on corruption levels at the airport, after an investigation by the UN’s International Task Force. It included:

The Deputy General Manager of Pristina Airport having a criminal conviction for “the trafficking of persons across borders …”

“Allegations of theft and corruption arising out of the collection of handling and landing fees and de-icing costs for passenger aircraft using Pristina Airport ..”

And “The Task Force also received reports that some commercial Airlines had been the subject of extortion in the payment for landing slots …” Eye watering amounts in fraudulent cargo charges were also also recorded as disappeared, and there was misappropriation of funds from everything from huge sums meant for ventilation, to heating to car park construction.(5)

In May 2009 The American Council for Kosova noted, in “Organised Crime in Kosova”:
“As can be seen by the documents, cash and projects that should have helped the people, lined the pockets of crooks, cronies and dodgy officials … it now appears that this money has disappeared, raising all kinds of questions about the … unaccountable organisations running countries. (6)

This then, is the country to whom Blair is unreservedly, a hero. Streets are named after him. For his visit, Pristina was plastered with posters of Blair, lauding him as: “A Leader. A Friend. A Hero.” Seemingly not one defaced with “Bliar”, “Liar”, “War Criminal” or “Blair Lied, Thousands Died.” He was met by the Prime Minister, and “serenaded by the Kosova Ceremonial Guard.”

In the main square (also named after him) it transpired that children too are named after him: “Tonybler” (not satire.) He met nine Tonyblers, all nine years old, honouring him for the 1999 bombardment, of the former Yugoslavia – as Iraq, without a United Nations Resolution, and largely cooked up with his friend Bill Clinton (who is to present him with the Liberty Medal.)

Bill Clinton has an eleven foot bronze statue in Pristina. Hope it is well bolted down, shame if it found its way to a smelt to be flogged off in small lots.

The Toniblers sang: “We are the World”, in Blair’s honour. “He is a very great man”, said one little lad. Some still believed in fairies when they were nine. The gold Freedom Medal was presented to him by President Fatmir Sejdiu. The Tonibler’s hero said what he always says of unmitigated atrocities: “I did what was right. I did what was just. I did not regret it then. I do not regret it now.”

What was “right” and “just” included 35,000 bombing sorties between 24th., March and 11th., June 1999. As David North wrote (wsws.org) three days after the bombardment ended: “Nearly all the major highways, railways and bridges have been extensively bombed. The electrical transformers, central power plants and water filtration systems upon which modern urban centers depend are functioning at only a fraction of their pre-bombardment capacity. Several hundred thousand workers have lost their livelihoods because of the destruction of their factories and workplaces. Several major hospitals have suffered extensive bomb-related damages. Schools attended by a total of 100,000 children have been damaged or destroyed.” Cluster bombs were dropped on residential areas.

The great Danube river, 2,850 kms long – immortalised by Johann Strauss’s haunting “Blue Danube Waltz” – which rises in the Black Forest and falls in to the Black Sea, defeated Charlemagne’s tinkering in 793, and flowed through the centuries, but the pollutants unleashed in to it by the bombing, are reminiscent of some of the world’s most catastrophic environmental vandalism. Fish and bird life floated, poisoned, on the surface, with eco-systems lost, decimated, beneath.

Further war crimes included the bombing of the building housing Serbia’s state television and international networks, a passenger train on a railway bridge (twice) markets, the Chinese Embassy (“wrong map”) a prison, killing eighty five prisoners – also bombed previously, killing a guard and three inmates – petro-chemical and car plants, industrial sites, releasing vast amounts of carcinogenic pollutants – and the use of depleted uranium weapons which has left the terrain, as Iraq and Afghanistan, a haunting of cancers and birth defects, to stalk not alone current, but future generations throughout the region. Kosovo may yet rue its gratitude.

There were some small setbacks in Blair-land over the same period though. It has transpired that when Prime Minister, he had over-ruled the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s efforts to provide a British citizen, held in Zambia, to provide Consular support to his return to the UK. He was subsequently “rendered’ to Guantanamo. With five hundred thousand additional documents now having been identified as possibly relevant regarding the alleged relationship between the UK and US relating to possible co-operation over transfers to Guantanamo, under Blair’s tenure as Prime Minister, a few clouds might yet be forming over “Teflon Tony.”

In context, it is perhaps pertinent to record, that in the dying days of her Premiership, Margaret Thatcher, who many would argue, outdid stubborn and right wing: “… came under pressure from British spies to be complicit in the use of torture.” She thought and consulted and: ” … in her very last days in power, issued instructions to the intelligence services: that they were not in any circumstances ‘to use intelligence that might in any way have come from torture.’ We know this from the extraordinary testimony of the former British Diplomat, Craig Murray,* who under questioning by MPs revealed that British policy on torture was explicitly changed under the Blair regime.”(7) Trafficking for torture comes to mind.

His publishers, Random House might also be asking questions as to the wisdom of their £4.6 million advance on his memoirs, not officially due out until 1st September. He was reportedly forced to change the name from “The Journey” to “A Journey”, the latter sounding “less messianic.” Whatever, it can already be bought on Amazon for £12.37 (down from yesterday’s £14.99) the official retail price being £25.00. Six new copies are available “from £6.38.” Gravitas is further eroded by it being listed next to: “The Bartenders Assistant : A Guide for the Journey” (£4.99.)

Of Blair’s book title, a less than generous spirited friend emailed: “To the Hague?” She is undoubtedly not alone.

But if all collapses, there will be a little corner of the world, that will, for the moment, for ever welcome “Tonybler.” A place he could feel at home. Perhaps in a governmental advisory position. Honoury President – even advising the Deputy Manager of the Airport.

Oh, and wonder if he got that gold Freedom Award out, unscathed.

1. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=20136
2. https://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=114370
3. http://www.worldpress.org/Europe/2722.cfm
4. http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/apr1999/kla-a10.shtml (Chossudovsky.)
5. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/0139
7/brunopdf_1397401a.pdf
6. http://www.savekosovo.org/default.asp?p=5
* Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Biography, “Murder in Samarkand.”
7. Peter Oborne, Daily Mail, 17th June 2010.

:: Article nr. 68054 sent on 19-jul-2010 04:30 ECT

Tony Blair : A Bright Shining Lie. (Part two.)

July 18, 2010 – “If justice and truth take place,
If he is rewarded according to his just desert,
His name will stink to all generations.”
(William Wesley, 1703-1791.)

It has been a good couple of weeks of medal gathering for Charles Anthony Lynton Blair, QC. To add a lucrative and glittering array (1) he has added to the (30th June) announcement of the (US) National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal, the award of a second “Freedom Medal” (first, January 2009, from the US) on 10th July.

The man who scribbled: “I just do not understand this”, in the margin of the advice from his top Law Lord, that the the invasion of Iraq would be illegal without a second United Nations Resolution, ignored, or dodged legalities, committing his country to the destruction of a sovereign nation, has been honoured again, this time, some might say, appropriately.

The awarding country is Kosovo, where the rule of law, it seems, has yet to become the rule of thumb.

According the the (US) Overseas Security Advisory Council, “Kosovo 2010 Crime and Safety Report”, there is: ” … a high level of crime … violent crimes can and do occur – even in downtown (capitol) Pristina … stay alert …If you normally carry a wallet … put it in a front pocket and put your hand in your pocket to hold onto it when in a crowd. Better yet, leave your wallet with your driver’s license and U.S. department store credit cards in the hotel safe. When walking with a purse or bag (ensure) it is closed and tuck it under your arm …

Do not leave your purse or bag over the back of your chair at a restaurant, watch that no one kicks your bag or purse out from under your table at a restaurant, and be particularly vigilant of where you place your belongings when at a sidewalk café. Make a copy of your passport data page and carry the paper copy instead of your actual passport … it is inadvisable to use (credit cards) for incidental purchases, each use increases the chance of compromise.” Using an ATM should be “avoided.”

If the visitor decides the rural scenery might be preferable: “Driving is becoming increasingly dangerous (with) a 30% increase in traffic fatalities … and a 55% increase in hit-and-run incidents. Defensive driving is a must (but) given the sharp increase in injuries and deaths, it may not be enough. Do not drive unless you really have to, and limit your driving to hours of daylight …”

Avoid public celebrations, a magnet for pickpockets – and people are : “…occasionally, killed by the falling bullets.” Still set on the ultimate living-on-the edge adventure holiday? “…. the relative availability of … weapons has led to … RPG attacks, grenade attacks, and use of automatic weapons—even in downtown Pristina.”

“All international security and intelligence agencies regularly portray a dismaying image of the province, a sort of ‘European Medellin or Cali.’ ” (3)

It also has to be wondered if “I’m a pretty straight forward sort of guy”, Blair, has read any of the reports on the level of corruption in this State he supported with characteristic gung-ho righteousness:

“Drug barons in (neighbouring) Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia (with links to the Italian Mafia) had become the new economic elites, often associated with Western business interests. In turn, the financial proceeds of the trade in drugs and arms were recycled towards other illicit activities (and vice versa) including a vast prostitution racket between Albania and Italy.” Albanian criminal groups operating in Milan: “have become so powerful running prostitution rackets that they have even taken over the Calabrians in strength and influence.”

Further: “The application of “strong economic medicine’, under the guidance of the Washington based Bretton Woods institutions, had contributed to wrecking Albania’s banking system and precipitating the collapse of the Albanian economy. The resulting chaos enabled American and European transnationals to carefully position themselves. Several Western oil companies including Occidental, Shell and British Petroleum had their eyes riveted on Albania’s abundant and unexplored oil-deposits. Western investors were also gawking Albania’s extensive reserves of chrome, copper, gold, nickel and platinum…. ” (4) In 1999, one mine owner told a journalist that the region including Kosovo, was “the Balkans’ Kuwait.”

And for the thrill seeker, just getting out of Pristina airport might present the challenge sought. In March 2009, the UN Secretary General’s Office devoted a long Report on corruption levels at the airport, after an investigation by the UN’s International Task Force. It included:

The Deputy General Manager of Pristina Airport having a criminal conviction for “the trafficking of persons across borders …”

“Allegations of theft and corruption arising out of the collection of handling and landing fees and de-icing costs for passenger aircraft using Pristina Airport ..”

And “The Task Force also received reports that some commercial Airlines had been the subject of extortion in the payment for landing slots …” Eye watering amounts in fraudulent cargo charges were also also recorded as disappeared, and there was misappropriation of funds from everything from huge sums meant for ventilation, to heating to car park construction.(5)

In May 2009 The American Council for Kosova noted, in “Organised Crime in Kosova”:

“As can be seen by the documents, cash and projects that should have helped the people, lined the pockets of crooks, cronies and dodgy officials … it now appears that this money has disappeared, raising all kinds of questions about the … unaccountable organisations running countries. (6)

This then, is the country to whom Blair is unreservedly, a hero. Streets are named after him. For his visit, Pristina was plastered with posters of Blair, lauding him as: “A Leader. A Friend. A Hero.” Seemingly not one defaced with “Bliar”, “Liar”, “War Criminal” or “Blair Lied, Thousands Died.” He was met by the Prime Minister, and “serenaded by the Kosova Ceremonial Guard.”

In the main square (also named after him) it transpired that children too are named after him: “Tonybler” (not satire.) He met nine Tonyblers, all nine years old, honouring him for the 1999 bombardment, of the former Yugoslavia – as Iraq, without a United Nations Resolution, and largely cooked up with his friend Bill Clinton (who is to present him with the Liberty Medal.)

Bill Clinton has an eleven foot bronze statue in Pristina. Hope it is well bolted down, shame if it found its way to a smelt to be flogged off in small lots.

The Toniblers sang: “We are the World”, in Blair’s honour. “He is a very great man”, said one little lad. Some still believed in fairies when they were nine. The gold Freedom Medal was presented to him by President Fatmir Sejdiu. The Tonibler’s hero said what he always says of unmitigated atrocities: “I did what was right. I did what was just. I did not regret it then. I do not regret it now.”

What was “right” and “just” included 35,000 bombing sorties between 24th., March and 11th., June 1999. As David North wrote (wsws.org) three days after the bombardment ended: “Nearly all the major highways, railways and bridges have been extensively bombed. The electrical transformers, central power plants and water filtration systems upon which modern urban centers depend are functioning at only a fraction of their pre-bombardment capacity. Several hundred thousand workers have lost their livelihoods because of the destruction of their factories and workplaces. Several major hospitals have suffered extensive bomb-related damages. Schools attended by a total of 100,000 children have been damaged or destroyed.” Cluster bombs were dropped on residential areas.

The great Danube river, 2,850 kms long – immortalised by Johann Strauss’s haunting “Blue Danube Waltz” – which rises in the Black Forest and falls in to the Black Sea, defeated Charlemagne’s tinkering in 793, and flowed through the centuries, but the pollutants unleashed in to it by the bombing, are reminiscent of some of the world’s most catastrophic environmental vandalism. Fish and bird life floated, poisoned, on the surface, with eco-systems lost, decimated, beneath.

Further war crimes included the bombing of the building housing Serbia’s state television and international networks, a passenger train on a railway bridge (twice) markets, the Chinese Embassy (“wrong map”) a prison, killing eighty five prisoners – also bombed previously, killing a guard and three inmates – petro-chemical and car plants, industrial sites, releasing vast amounts of carcinogenic pollutants – and the use of depleted uranium weapons which has left the terrain, as Iraq and Afghanistan, a haunting of cancers and birth defects, to stalk not alone current, but future generations throughout the region. Kosovo may yet rue its gratitude.

There were some small setbacks in Blair-land over the same period though. It has transpired that when Prime Minister, he had over-ruled the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s efforts to provide a British citizen, held in Zambia, to provide Consular support to his return to the UK. He was subsequently “rendered’ to Guantanamo. With five hundred thousand additional documents now having been identified as possibly relevant regarding the alleged relationship between the UK and US relating to possible co-operation over transfers to Guantanamo, under Blair’s tenure as Prime Minister, a few clouds might yet be forming over “Teflon Tony.”

In context, it is perhaps pertinent to record, that in the dying days of her Premiership, Margaret Thatcher, who many would argue, outdid stubborn and right wing: “… came under pressure from British spies to be complicit in the use of torture.” She thought and consulted and: ” … in her very last days in power, issued instructions to the intelligence services: that they were not in any circumstances ‘to use intelligence that might in any way have come from torture.’ We know this from the extraordinary testimony of the former British Diplomat, Craig Murray,* who under questioning by MPs revealed that British policy on torture was explicitly changed under the Blair regime.”(7) Trafficking for torture comes to mind.

His publishers, Random House might also be asking questions as to the wisdom of their £4.6 million advance on his memoirs, not officially due out until 1st September. He was reportedly forced to change the name from “The Journey” to “A Journey”, the latter sounding “less messianic.” Whatever, it can already be bought on Amazon for £12.37 (down from yesterday’s £14.99) the official retail price being £25.00. Six new copies are available “from £6.38.” Gravitas is further eroded by it being listed next to: “The Bartenders Assistant : A Guide for the Journey” (£4.99.)

Of Blair’s book title, a less than generous spirited friend emailed: “To the Hague?” She is undoubtedly not alone.

But if all collapses, there will be a little corner of the world, that will, for the moment, for ever welcome “Tonybler.” A place he could feel at home. Perhaps in a governmental advisory position. Honoury President – even advising the Deputy Manager of the Airport.

Pity this potential haven is slightly further tarnished by the arrest of the head of the Central Bank, Hashim Rexhepi, taken away in handcuffs just thirteen days after Blair’s tumultuous hero’s welcome, for alleged corruption, bribes, tax evasion and money laundering. Forty Special Unit eight armed police, were accompanied by EU Justice officials.

The transport and Telecomununications Minister is also under investigation for alleged embezzlement.

Oh, and wonder if he got that gold Freedom Award out, unscathed.

1. http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/tony-blair-a-bright-shining-lie-when-mass-murder-is-upheld-as-a-peace-making-endeavor/
2. https://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=114370
3. http://www.worldpress.org/Europe/2722.cfm
4. http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/apr1999/kla-a10.shtml (Chossudovsky.)
5. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/0139
7/brunopdf_1397401a.pdf
6. http://www.savekosovo.org/default.asp?p=5
* Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Biography, “Murder in Samarkand.”
7. Peter Oborne, Daily Mail, 17th June 2010.

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Dennis Kucinich: Israel must answer for Flotilla attack

Posted on 04 June 2010 by admin

US Congressman Dennis Kucinich has called for Washington to impose diplomatic and financial consequences on Israel over its deadly attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla.

Israel’s conduct “constitutes an act of belligerence against Turkey, which at one time Israel considered an important ally,” the Ohio Democrat wrote in a letter to US President Barack Obama on Friday.

“It also undermines United States troops’ efforts in Iraq, since your administration’s efforts to achieve stability in the region and to withdraw troops from Iraq have depended upon Turkey’s cooperation through use of its air bases,” the congressman added.

Kucinich also said that the attack on the Freedom Flotilla should have consequences for the aggressors and urged Obama to call Israel to “an accounting for planning and carrying out the attack.”

“If our nation fails to act in any substantive way, the United States licenses the violence and we are complicit in it and our own citizens will be forced to pay the consequences,” Kucinich wrote.

Kucinich also called for an independent investigation into the incident.

The Israeli military attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea early on May 31, killing at least 19 people on board the six ships, including eight Turkish citizens, and injuring about 50 others.

Israel also arrested nearly 700 activists from 42 countries on board the Freedom Flotilla, which was attempting to break the siege of Gaza in order to deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian assistance to the long-suffering people of the territory.

DK calls for independent probe of Israeli raid

WASHINGTON — A US lawmaker called Friday for an independent probe into Israel’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship and called for Washington to impose diplomatic and financial “consequences” on its ally.

“The US can begin by calling for an independent international inquiry of the Mavi Marmara incident. The integrity of such inquiry necessitates that it not be led by the nation whose conduct is under scrutiny,” Representative Dennis Kucinich said in a draft letter to President Barack Obama.

The message, which Kucinich was circulating to colleagues for their signature before sending it to the White House, urges Obama to “call Israel to an accounting for its conduct in planning and executing” the raid.

“The attack on the Mavi Marmara requires consequences” for Israel’s government, the Democrat said. “Those consequences must be dealt by the United States. They must be diplomatic and they must be financial.”

Israel has defended both its right to carry out the Monday raid and its punishing blockade of Gaza, which is ruled by the Islamist movement Hamas. The group is blacklisted in Washington as a terrorist group.

Kucinich, who earlier this year introduced legislation calling for a full withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, also called for Washington to “begin to redefining its relationship” with Israel.

“No one questions the right of Israel to defend its border, but that defense does not extend to shooting innocent civilians anywhere in the world, anytime it pleases,” said the lawmaker.

Kucinich called the raid “an act of belligerence against Turkey” and warned it “undermines” US efforts in Iraq, which rely on Turkey granting access to key air bases on its soil.

The Ohio lawmaker noted that said Washington views Israel as “our most important ally in the region, whose survival is a primary concern” but that the Jewish state had failed to uphold its end of the bargain.

“Israel owes the United States more than reckless, pre-meditated violence waged against innocent people,” he charged.

A spokesman for Kucinich said that, with the US Congress in recess this week, he would not be releasing how many lawmakers had signed on to the tough message, an unusually sharp criticism of Israel at a time when other lawmakers have pledged to stand by the US ally.

Turkey’s ambassador to Washington, Namik Tan, expressed disappointment Friday that the United States had thus far failed to condemn Israel outright over the raid, which left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

“There is no word of condemnation at any level,” he said, insisting “the US should have been the first party to condemn.”

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Ron Paul: U.S. Shouldn’t Support Israel’s Gaza Blockade

Posted on 03 June 2010 by admin

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JoGwq9k5lw

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Obama’s Timidity and Deaths at Sea

Posted on 02 June 2010 by admin

A chief lesson to learn from President Barack Obama’s recent unwillingness to stand up to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud Lobby is that such timidity can get people killed.

Casualty figures are still arriving in the wake of Israel’s Sunday night-Monday morning commando attack on an unarmed flotilla trying to bring relief supplies to the 1.5 million Palestinians crowded into Gaza. Already, at least nine civilian passengers are reported killed, and dozens wounded.

Seldom has an act of aggression been so well advertised in advance. Israel had made clear that it would use force to prevent the ships from reaching Gaza and heard no stern protest from President Obama, who apparently could not overcome his fear of Israel’s legendary political clout.

Earlier this year, Obama did criticize Israel’s continued settlement of Palestinian areas and Netanyahu’s resistance to holding meaningful peace talks, but the president has failed to follow up his words with firm action or resolve. Netanyahu concluded that Israel could do what it wished, including dropping commandos from helicopters onto crowded ships and, after alleging a clash with civilians, ordering the use of lethal force.

Then, Netanyahu could expect that America’s Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) – with leading figures like Wolf Blitzer, who built his journalistic career by working for the Jerusalem Post – would finesse the murderous assault into something reasonable and possibly even tilted sympathetically toward the Israeli troops.

Early on, CNN began repeating the Israeli “explanation” for its attack on the high seas, parroting the Jerusalem Post, which reported that “militants were killed” after they set upon Israeli naval commandos who boarded one of the six ships Monday morning at two o’clock.

The commandos “were met with strong resistance from men armed with bladed weapons and the situation degenerated into a massacre when one of them grabbed the weapon of a soldier and opened fire,” said the Jerusalem Post, quoting Israeli military sources.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that the relief convoy organizers had a “radical Islamic anti-Western orientation,” and that Israeli “naval forces were attacked with metal clubs and knives, as well as live fire,” though there were no reports of Israeli deaths. The IDF statement continued, “The demonstrators had clearly prepared their weapons in advance for this specific purpose,” adding that the Navy then used riot dispersal methods, which include live fire, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA).

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed the organizers of the convoy for the violent outcome, and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told a news conference why that was so: “The organizers’ intent was violent, their method was violent, and unfortunately, the results were violent.”

So, you see, the Israeli military resorted to violence only in self-defense. Right.

Quiet Conversation

On Monday, President Obama spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone about the incident. Afterward, the White House said Obama had expressed “deep regret” over the deaths, but declined further comment, citing “the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances” as quickly as possible.

Don’t hold your breath, though, waiting for the timid Obama or his Likud-leaning advisers – much less the FCM – to question the Israeli version.

We are likely to get an “explanation” worthy of the late Alexander Haig as to why the slaughter may well have been “justified.” Haig’s death in February brought to mind comments he made about a brutal incident on the night of Dec. 2, 1980, shortly after Ronald Reagan’s election victory.

In rightist-ruled El Salvador, government security forces stopped four American churchwomen in their mini-van and were ordered to kill them. The soldiers first raped the women and then executed them with high-powered rifles. Reagan’s foreign policy team decided to treat the rape-murder as a public relations problem, best handled by shifting blame onto the victims. And so, the women were deemed not nuns, but “political activists.” (Today, “militants”–whatever that means–is often the label of choice.)

After becoming Reagan’s first secretary of state, Haig told Congress that “the nuns may have run through a roadblock or may have accidentally been perceived to have been doing so, and there may have been an exchange of fire.”

In just a few weeks, the American women had gone from being innocent victims to “political activists” to armed insurgents – although knowledgeable U.S. government officials conceded there was no evidence to support Haig’s shootout speculation. As an intelligence analyst at the time, I knew of Haig’s inclination to make up stuff.

Watch for something similar to happen with respect to the “militants” or “activists” who were killed or wounded in the incident off Gaza. I avoid tuning in to the FCM anymore (it’s just too much for my Irish temper), but I’m told that Israel-friendly pundits are already spinning faster than the famous centrifuges in Iran.

Uncle Remus’ Wisdom

“He Don’t Say Nothin’,” as Uncle Remus put it, with improper grammar but with an accurate understanding that by not saying anything you can often convey a powerful or dangerous message.

As a presidential candidate, Obama was careful to say nothing about the brutal Israeli blockade against the 1.5 million people in Gaza, about to enter its fourth year. As president-elect, he stayed mum as the Israelis attacked densely populated Gaza, killing some 1,400 Gazans.

As president, he has backed down at every significant moment when Netanyahu thumbed his nose at Obama or at Vice President Joe Biden.

Obama knew about the “Freedom Flotilla” and its plan to bring supplies to Gaza. And he had to be aware of Israel’s threats to attack the relief ships. But, like Uncle Remus’ Br’er Fox, Obama “don’t say nothin.’”

Quite the contrary, Obama’s pro-Zionist White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who recently vacationed in Israel and met with Netanyahu last Wednesday, extended an invitation for a working visit at the White House. Netanyahu was to visit Obama on Tuesday after a four-day visit to Canada.

On Monday morning, Netanyahu canceled out of a gala dinner to be held in his honor in Ottawa and nixed the visit to Washington. He said he hoped that both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Obama “understand that Israel has a great security problem.”

Getting Away With Murder

The fatal incident off the Gaza coast was not the first time Israel had used lethal force against a nearly defenseless ship at sea. The attack on the “Freedom Flotilla” was reminiscent of the attack on the USS Liberty during Israel’s Six-Day War against three of its Arab neighbors.

The war started on June 5, 1967, when Israel carried out an unprovoked blitzkrieg attack. What is my source for “unprovoked?” Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who 15 years later admitted publicly:

“In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”

Three days into the war, Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats turned their firepower on the intelligence-collection ship USS Liberty in international waters after the Israelis had identified it as a U.S. Navy ship.

The Israelis later insisted that the strafing and torpedo attacks were accidents in the fog of war. However, U.S. intelligence intercepted Israeli conversations at the time showing the attacks were deliberate, and their nature and persistence showed clear intent to sink the Liberty and leave no survivors.

Israeli commandos clad in black were about to land from helicopters and finish off what remained of the Liberty crew when Seaman Terry Halbardier (later awarded the Silver Star) slid over the Liberty’s napalm-greased deck to jury-rig an antenna and get an SOS off to the Sixth Fleet.

Israeli forces intercepted the SOS and quickly broke off the attack. But 34 of theLiberty crew were killed and over 170 wounded.

To avoid exacerbating relations with Israel, the U.S. Navy was ordered to cover up the deliberate nature of the attack, and the surviving crew was threatened with imprisonment if they so much as told their wives. When some of the crew later called for an independent investigation, they were hit with charges of anti-Semitism.

One of the surviving crew of the USS Liberty, decorated Navy veteran Joe Meadors, was with the “Freedom Flotilla” when it was attacked on Sunday night. Meadors is past president of the USS Liberty Veterans Association. The State Department tells us that Joe Meadors survived this latest Israeli attack. At last word, he sits in an Israeli jail.

Rachel Corrie

Another American was murdered in cold blood on March 16, 2003. Twenty-three year-old Rachel Corrie, a volunteer serving in Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement was run over by an Israeli army bulldozer after a prolonged face-off in full view of several of her volunteer colleagues. Rachel had been trying to prevent the bulldozing of a Palestinian home where she had been staying.

The message the Israelis wanted to convey in killing Rachel Corrie was that international volunteers would no longer be exempt from the brutal treatment accorded young Israeli volunteers who tried to stand up, as Rachel did, for decent treatment of Palestinians in Gaza.

The FCM’s excitement over President George W. Bush’s eagerly anticipated “shock-and-awe” bombing of Iraq three days later pushed what limited coverage there was about Rachel’s murder to the back pages. The Israelis claimed the killing was an inadvertent mistake, like the shoot-up of the Liberty. The courageous Rachel was very much with the Freedom Flotilla in spirit. And a certain poetic justice is to be found in that one of the ships in the convoy bore the name “Rachel Corrie.”

Israel cannot hide behind “inadvertence” this time, although its spin-masters are already doing their best to smear the civilians on the ships with buzzwords, calling them “militants” and “terrorists” who “ambushed” and tried to “lynch” the Israeli commandos.

These P.R. tactics may work with the American FCM and neocons in Washington – and by extension the TV-watchers in the United States – but patience with Israel in the international community is wearing paper-thin.

Some Care About the Scandal of Gaza

Much of the world’s impatience has to do with Gaza, including the Israeli attack from Dec. 17, 2008, to Jan. 18, 2009, as well as the three-year blockade that began when Hamas won Palestinian elections and became the governing party in Gaza.

Israel and the U.S. government deem Hamas to be a terrorist organization, though some other countries regard it more as a resistance movement fighting against Israeli occupation.

Regardless of how one feels about Hamas, Israel’s harsh blockade of Gaza and last year’s military assault have inflicted a humanitarian disaster on the Palestinian people.

Has Netanyahu Gone Too Far?

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has reacted strongly to the Israeli attack on the relief ships, the largest of which sailed from Turkey. According to one report, Turkey has served warning that Turkish navy ships will escort future relief convoys to Gaza.

Erdogan has had it with Israeli mistreatment of Muslims in his eastern Mediterranean neighborhood. On Jan. 29, 2009, at the economic summit in Davos, he leveled harsh criticism to Israeli President Shimon Peres’  face, labeling Gaza “an open-air prison.”

Erdogan angrily cited “the sixth commandment – thou shalt not kill,” adding, “We are talking about killing” in Gaza. Erdogan’s one-and-a-half-minute tirade was capturedon camera by the BBC.

Five days before Erdogan’s outburst, the Brazilian government also condemned Israel’s bombing of Gaza and its effect on the civilian population as a “disproportionate response.”

It seems to have been the atrocity in Gaza – plus a common determination to prevent war from spreading to Iran – that galvanized the successful joint effort by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to defy Israel. They persuaded Iran to agree to transfer half of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey for further processing, rendering it unusable for a nuclear weapon.

“Defy Israel?” you ask. Confused? If the Israeli leaders truly believe that low-enriched uranium comprises an essential part of an “existential threat” to Israel from eventual nuclear weapons in Iran, would they not be delighted at Iran’s agreement to send half of that uranium out of the country? Good question.

Truth be told, Israel cares a lot less about Iran’s uranium that it does about forcing “regime change” in Tehran. Netanyahu does not want any agreement with Iran; he wants sanctions against Iran, and eventually a military conflict, with the U.S. jumping in to help finish Iran off.

And this twin wish is shared by American neocons who remain influential in the Obama administration and in the FCM.

The pro-Israeli hardliners are the ones running U.S. policy on the Middle East, not Obama, who seems only nominally in charge. Unusually clear proof of this came when the Brazilians released a letter revealing that Obama had personally encouraged the Brazilian and Turkish leaders to pursue the kind of deal they were able to work out with the Iranians.

Small wonder, then, that the leaders of Brazil and Turkey were taken aback when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other administration spokespeople trashed the tripartite Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal and pressed ahead with a new round of sanctions.

And the president? Did he step up and acknowledge that he had encouraged Brazil and Turkey to seek the uranium deal? Well, he don’t say nothin’.

Israeli Influence

While Americans continue to be starved of real information from the FCM, better informed people around the world have come to view with disdain the degree to which Washington dogs are wagged by Israeli tails.

When I suggested five years ago before a Capitol Hill hearing chaired by Rep. John Conyers that Israel was right up there, together with oil and military bases, as comprising the real rationale for war on Iraq, I, too, was called anti-Semitic. But the evidence has always been as clear as it is abundant.

An inadvertent remark by a major player on Iraq, former British Prime Minister Blair, has provided insight – straight from the horse’s ass, I mean, mouth.

In early February 2010, the British press revealed that Blair, testifying to the Iraq war commission in the U.K., offered the following account of his discussions with Bush in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. (That’s when Bush said war was the only way to deal with Saddam Hussein, and Blair acquiesced.) But Blair’s remarks revealed that Israeli concerns were a major part of the equation and that Israeli officials were involved in the discussions. Thus, Blair:

“As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this.”

It is a safe bet that Hillary Clinton’s Likud-friendly lieutenants and their new junior partners in London are busy conferring with Tel Aviv right now about how to handle the P.R. challenge caused by the upstart leaders of Turkey and Brazil with the temerity to work out a deal with Tehran. (Never mind that Obama personally asked them to do it.)

How does one make into a bad thing Iran’s agreement to ship half its uranium out of the country, even if additional steps might still be needed to assure the world that Iran is telling the truth when it says it isn’t building a nuclear bomb?

More and more people around the globe are seeing Obama as subservient to the Likud Lobby, perhaps not as enthusiastically as Bush was, but still unwilling to put action behind his occasional words of dissatisfaction. Important players in the Middle East, as well as increasingly assertive countries like Turkey and Brazil, conclude that the policies and behavior of Tel Aviv and Washington are virtually identical.

And then there is the $3 billion or so that the United States gives Israel each year that enables the Israelis to arm themselves to the teeth. It is understandable, then, that many will blame Washington for what happened in the dark of night, on the eve of Memorial Day, on the high seas.

Hard Lessons

The likely results are three-fold:

1. On Memorial Day next year, there may well be hundreds more “fallen heroes” to honor, killed by Muslim and other “militants” who make no distinction between what the U.S. has done in Iraq and Afghanistan and what Israel does in Gaza and the occupied West Bank – and add Lebanon and Syria, for good measure.

As Gen. David Petraeus pointed out earlier this year, the unresolved Arab-Israeli “conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel” and thus puts U.S. troops at greater risk.

“Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the [region] and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world,” Petraeus said. “Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support.”

2. The linking of U.S. support with Israeli actions increases the incentive of terrorists to ply their dark arts in the United States.

While it is difficult to find a measure of objectivity in official U.S. government documents on this topic, every so often there is a slip between cup and lip. There was such a slip on Sept. 23, 2004, for example, when the Pentagon-sponsored U.S. Defense Science Board issued a formal report concluding:

“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights.”

You will not be surprised to find out that the board’s report was generally suppressed in the FCM, as were the following, more specific, examples:

“By his own account, KSM’s [9/11 “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's] animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.” (9/11 Commission Report, July 22, 2004, page 147)

And what motivated Dr. Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi, the 32-year-old Jordanian physician of Palestinian origin, who on Dec. 30, 2009, detonated a suicide bomb at a CIA site in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven American CIA operatives? According to his brother, al-Balawi “changed” during the three-week-long Israeli offensive in Gaza, which killed some 1,400 Gazans.

When al-Balawi volunteered to treat injured Palestinians in Gaza, he was arrested by Jordanian authorities, his brother said. It was after that arrest that al-Balawi allowed himself to be “recruited” to spy on al-Qaeda for the CIA. Quickly, it became payback time for Americans and Jordanians whom he associated with Israel.

Christmas underpants bomber Abdulmutallab, also is reported to have been particularly outraged by Israel’s slaughter of Gazans at the turn of 2008-09 and Washington’s defense of Israel’s action.

That Israeli actions in Gaza acted as catalysts to al-Balawi’s and Abdulmutallab’s determination to exact revenge on the U.S. is hardly surprising – the more so in view of Washington’s efforts to suppress the findings of the UN-commissioned Gaza investigation by Justice Richard Goldstone. His report concluded that:

“The blockade policies implemented by Israel against the Gaza Strip, in particular the closure of or restrictions imposed on border crossings in the immediate period before the military operations, subjected the local population to extreme hardship and deprivations that amounted to a violation of Israel’s obligations as an Occupying Power under the Fourth Geneva Convention. …

“Israel has essentially violated its obligation to allow free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital objects, food, and clothing that were needed to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the civilian population. …

“The Mission concludes that the conditions resulting from deliberate actions of the Israeli forces and the declared policies of the Government with regard to the Gaza Strip before, during, and after the military operation cumulatively indicate the intention to inflict collective punishment on the people of the Gaza Strip.

“The Mission, therefore, finds a violation of the provisions of Articles 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

3. Attacking Iran.

It is no secret that this goal enjoys high priority on Netanyahu’s agenda. It could be stopped in its tracks by a public warning from President Obama. But all signs point to his bending to neocon advice to shy away from a showdown and, rather, leave everything, including another war of aggression, “on the table.”

The fact that world leaders consider Netanyahu a clear and present danger to peace in the region is shown by the way the leaders of Turkey and Brazil moved at an accelerated pace to bend the Iranians to the kind of deal that Obama personally had advocated, before being overruled by Hillary Clinton and others in his misguided Team of Rivals.

The urgency of the Turkey-Brazil initiative came through in the words of Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who could hardly have been more explicit:

“We can’t allow to happen in Iran what happened in Iraq. Before any sanctions, we must undertake all possible efforts to try and build peace in the Middle East.”

Green Light?

Netanyahu listens only to Washington, when he listens at all. Following the bloody attack on the Freedom Flotilla, I imagine he will now get at most a mealy-mouthed “please-don’t-do-this-again” from the White House, together with acquiescence in an Al-Haig-type made-up excuse about an “exchange” of fire.

If that proves to be the case, Netanyahu is altogether likely to consider that Israel has a green light to provoke hostilities with Iran, with the full expectation that the United States will jump right in to help the non-ally ally finish the job.

Non-ally ally? Sorry, despite what you hear from Obama, Congress, and the whole Washington establishment, Israel is not an ally of the United States. Webster’s (and international law) define ally as “a state associated with another by treaty.”

There is no mutual defense treaty between the U.S. and Israel. (Washington has broached the idea to Israel from time to time, but Israel has said no thanks. Treaties, you see, require internationally recognized borders, and – for obvious reasons – Israeli leaders avoid that subject like the plague.)

NATO member Turkey, on the other hand, is a U.S. ally. This could make things very awkward if Turkey sends its warships to accompany the next convoy trying to lift the siege of Gaza. It is possible that Washington may have to choose between a real ally and a synthetic one, if shots are fired.

Israel’s Attack Illegal; What Now?

Craig Murray, a former British ambassador and Foreign Office specialist on maritime law (and VIPS member), has just weighed in with a helpful description of two clear legal possibilities, which take into account both international law and the Law of the Sea:

“Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists in international waters. The applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred.

“In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory. So in this case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the attack by Israeli commandos falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

“Possibility two is that, if the killings were not military actions authorized by Israel, they were then acts of murder and fall under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law. It is for Turkey, not Israel, to carry out any inquiry or investigation and to initiate any prosecutions. Israel would be obliged by law to hand over indicted personnel for prosecution.”

Stay tuned.

Read more by Ray McGovern

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Israelis must speak up for Gaza activists

Posted on 01 June 2010 by admin

The savage attack on the Gaza flotilla is a wake-up call for every Israeli and further proof of the government’s growing paranoia

Binyamin NetanyahuThe defiant and paranoid spirit emanating from the likes of Binyamin Netanyahu is poisoning the internal public discourse. Photograph: Bernat Armangue/AP

A few months ago I was handed a leaflet from the group that organised the humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza. I entertained the idea of joining it as a journalist because I believed the presence of journalists and of Israelis would make its journey safer. I gave up the idea because the pressing chores of life were more demanding and also – I wonder if I’ll ever be able to forgive myself for this sentiment – I was somewhat horrified by the idea of spending a lot of time on a ship with a bunch of Kumbaya-singing hippies.

I did not think the IDF would attack the ships. I thought Israel was too clever, too PR aware, to jeopardise the lives of foreign nationals for the whole world to see. I didn’t for a moment foresee anything resembling the murderous carnage the world witnessed on Monday morning. Little did I know.

I must have forgotten that even though Likud and Labour governments might be prone to identical behaviour when it comes to land grabbing, settlement building and Palestinian human rights oppression, there is still a great difference in their levels of stupidity, and their disregard of international public opinion. The one good thing about traditional Labour governments is that, on occasion, a raised cautioning finger from the US administration or an international outcry might make them stop and think for a minute.

What harm would have come to Israel if it had let the protesters embark in Gaza and deliver their goods? The world media generally yawns at such initiatives, and all the activists could have rationally hoped for would have been a photo op in an obscure back page of a number of broadsheets. Israel could have come out of it looking majestically generous.

But Israel has moved into a new stage in the last few months. The defiant and paranoid spirit emanating from Binyamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and their opportunistic and violent Labour ally, Ehud Barak, is poisoning the internal public discourse. Ministers and members of parliament are openly inciting against Palestinian citizens of Israel and their political representatives in the most racist manner, and against leftwing activists – Jewish as well as Arab. The talk about “traitors”, “backstabbers”, “snitches” and “fifth column” are increasingly reminiscent of the Weimar republic.

It is not just Hamas and Hezbollah, or even the whole of the Palestinian people that seems to be the enemy, it is everybody: from “hypocritical and Muslim-infested” Europe to the soapy liberals among the Israelis, from the journalists to the lawyers. Journalist Anat Kam is facing trial on spying allegations for leaking military documents when serving as a soldier, and journalist Uri Blau has gone into exile in London under intimidating threats of facing similar charges for publishing them.

Ameer Makhoul and Dr Omar Saeed (human right activists and Israeli citizens) were arrested in the middle of the night at their homes some two weeks ago, and were unlawfully prevented from conferring with their lawyers for 12 days. Now they are facing trial on extremely controversial spying allegations. In this atmosphere, no wonder the government now starts killing European human rights activists and protesters in an act of terrorist piracy.

The international peace movement has shown that it consists of much more that “Kumbaya-singing hippies”. It showed immense courage and solidarity with Gaza’s people, and paid an incredibly heavy price in the lives of heroic activists. They have followed the footsteps of Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall, in sacrificing their lives while exposing the evils of the Israeli occupation forces.

Any decent Israeli citizen is faced with very clear choices today. The first is to support the government and the army, to pretend to buy into their stories about “gunfire coming from the ship”. The second is to align ourselves with the people who died on board the Gaza flotilla, and to back their struggle for a better future in Israel in Palestine.

The Israeli government proves day after day that when you start robbing human rights off someone, you end up robbing them off everyone. The savage attack in the Mediterranean should be a wake-up call for every Israeli. If we do not speak up now, nobody will be left when the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak thugs come for us.

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Flotilla Massacre: Israel’s Outrageous Claims

Posted on 01 June 2010 by admin

At least nine people have been killed and more than 30 wounded when an Israeli commando stormed the biggest boat of a flotilla carrying 800 humanitarians, peace activists, and aid workers. The flotilla was trying to break through the three-year blockade put in place by Israel after Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006 and seized control of Gaza. The ships were carrying some 10 tons of humanitarian aid. The commandos boarded the ship from helicopters at 4 a.m. Video from , who can be heard clearly shouting, “We are being attacked in international waters,” and audio from , a reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald, show that the ship was boarded while still in international waters. The last known coordinates of the flotilla was latitude: 32.64113, longitude: 33.56727–approximately 65 miles off the coast of Netanya. Israeli police have also imprisoned 16 passengers.

Israeli spokesman Mark Regev said he was confident that the aid workers opened fire first on the commandos. But the aid workers have noted that all the ships were searched at port by both the Turkish and the Cyprus governments and no weapons were found. Video of the siege shows some of the passengers armed with marbles and slingshots.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given his full support to the operation but has cut short a trip to Canada and canceled completely the meeting that was to take place on Tuesday with President Obama at the White House. Last June, Obama sent a note to the Israeli government officially protesting the blockade and demanding that the border crossings into Gaza be opened to facilitate reconstruction. The U.S. demanded that the Israelis allow more food and medicine into the territory, that cash transfers to banks in the Gaza Strip be permitted, and that construction materials such as cement and iron be allowed in.

. Read The Daily Beast’s complete coverage of the crisis in Israel.The names of the dead are not yet known, but passengers aboard the ships included retired U.S. diplomats Amb. Edward Peck and Col. Ann Wright, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, and former U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Denis Halliday, as well as humanitarian aid and human-rights workers, several MPs from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Turkey, Malaysia, and Palestinian members of the Knesset.

This is not the first attempt by the group, known collectively as the , to break through Israel’s blockade. In the summer of 2008, the organization set sail from Cyprus on two small wooden fishing boats carrying 44 activists from 17 different countries. That mission successfully docked at Gaza–the first international ships to do so since 1957. Bolstered by their initial success, leaders of the Free Gaza Movement organized four more successful trips in 2008, transporting tons of aid and dozens of United Nations workers, international activists, and members of European parliaments to the Gaza Strip.

But circumstances changed after the devastating war in December of 2008 between Israel and Hamas (Operation Cast Lead, as the Israelis called it). When the Free Gaza Movement organized an emergency delegation to deliver three tons of medical supplies and a handful of doctors and surgeons to Gaza, they were intercepted by the Israeli Navy, which rammed their ship, almost sinking it. In January 2009, the group bought another ship and once again set sail to Gaza. Once again they were turned back by the Israeli navy. Last June, the organization tried a third time to break through the blockade, this time taking with them Nobel Peace Prize winner Maguire and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. The Israeli navy boarded that ship, confiscated the materials on board, arrested the passengers, including Maguire and McKinney, and detained them in an Israeli prison for a week. Although the ship was never returned, the Israeli government claimed to have delivered the medical supplies on board to Gaza, though all the other material, including the food, toys, and reconstruction material were seized and, presumably, destroyed.

The Israeli government has instructed the Free Gaza Movement to try to deliver its supplies through official channels. But considering that those channels are strictly controlled by the government itself, it is difficult to take the suggestion seriously. If such “official channels” were actually effective in delivering aid to the Gazans, then there would not be the massive starvation and malnutrition that we are seeing today in Gaza.

Then again, according to the Israeli government, everything is just fine in Gaza. No need to worry. Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak has made the extraordinary claim that there is absolutely no shortage in humanitarian aid to the Gazans and that food and supplies are regularly and freely transferred to the area.

That will come as a surprise not only to the hundreds of thousands of starving Gazans living on piles of rubble that used to be their homes, but to just about every single human-rights and international aid organization in the world, including the United Nations, all of which have repeatedly reported that the blockade is causing extreme hardship, severe malnutrition in children, and increased poverty in Gaza. The World Health Organization recently passed a resolution demanding that Israel end the blockade, claiming that it has caused a devastating shortage of medicines in the Gaza Strip. (Predictably, the United States opposed the WHO resolution, saying that it “stirred up tensions.” Heaven forbid!)

Amnesty International has written numerous reports about how the blockade has destroyed the livelihoods of Gaza’s farmers and fishermen and limited access to medical care. The U.N.’s Association for International Development Agencies has documented the disastrous impact of the blockade on Gaza’s health services. According to one report, long delays for those seeking medical treatment in Israel caused the deaths of 28 people last year alone. The Vatican has called Gaza “one big concentration camp.” The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that the blockade has imposed “unacceptable hardships” on innocent civilians while “empowering extremists.” Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who has called the blockade a “crime and an atrocity,” echoed Ban’s statement. “I think politically speaking [the blockade] has worked even to strengthen the popularity of Hamas and to the detriment of the popularity of Fatah,” Carter said.

Confronted with these statements and statistics, the response of the Israeli government has been as predictable as it is absurd. After all, all of these international aid and human-rights organizations are against Israel, didn’t you know? Amnesty International is “borderline anti-Semitic,” as Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League has declared. Human Rights Watch has an “anti-Israel bias,” according to AIPAC. And please don’t get Israeli politicians started on the United Nations! Whatever criticisms these organizations have against Israel are obviously biased and need not be taken seriously.

As to why continue the blockade in Gaza? Well that’s an easy question for the Israeli government to answer. “Hamas, which rules Gaza, is a terror organization supported by Iran,” said Defense Minister Barak. “It smuggles weapons and rockets with the sole purpose of harming Israelis, as it has done many times in the past.”

OK, fine. Hamas is bad. We get it. But what about the rest of the 1.5 million men, women, and children living in what has become the most densely packed region on earth? How can the cutting off of food, medical supplies, gas, and electricity to the entire population of Gaza be understood in any other way except as an act of collective punishment?

Despite the unprecedented humanitarian crisis facing Gazans, Israel’s blockade has gotten very little international attention. Despite a promise by the international community to pledge over $4 billion of aid to help rebuild Gaza in 2009, almost none of that money has reached Gazans. Most Americans, it seems, could not care less about what is taking place in Gaza. Ask the average pundit on TV about it and the response will inevitably be, “Hamas.”

End of conversation.

And yet, do we not all have a moral obligation to put politics aside and stand up for the suffering of our fellow human beings no matter where they are? Are we not obligated to work toward overturning the profoundly immoral policies that have made the situation in Gaza intolerable for its inhabitants? And if the world’s governments are not willing to take action to address this unprecedented crisis, then does it not fall on the citizens of the world to do something about it?

“When the tsunami hit Indonesia, the world came together to provide aid for those affected,” said Ramzi Kysia, a volunteer who has been with the Free Gaza Movement since 2006. “When the earthquake hit Haiti, again, the world came together to help those who were suffering. And yet what we have in Gaza is a man-made disaster, a man-made humanitarian crisis. But it is every bit as bad as any natural disaster.”

Responsibility Is With Hamas For Attack On Gaza Flotilla! Yochanan Plesener

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Kucinich Forces Congress to Debate Afghanistan

Posted on 06 March 2010 by admin

On Thursday, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) introduced H. Com Res. 248, a privileged resolution with 16 original cosponsors that will require the House of Representatives to debate whether to continue the war in Afghanistan. Debate on the resolution is expected early next week.

Original cosponsors of the Kucinich resolution include John Conyers, Jr. (D-Michigan); Ron Paul (R-Texas); José Serrano (D-New York); Bob Filner (D-California); Lynn Woolsey (D-California); Walter Jones, Jr. (R-North Carolina); Danny Davis (D-Illinois); Barbara Lee (D-California); Michael Capuano (D-Massachusetts); Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona); Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin); Timothy Johnson (R-Illinois); Yvette Clarke (D-New York); Eric Massa (D-New York), Alan Grayson (D-Florida) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine).

The Pentagon doesn’t want Congress to debate Afghanistan. The Pentagon wants Congress to fork over $33 billion more to pay for the current military escalation, no questions asked, no restrictions imposed for a withdrawal timetable or an exit strategy.

Ideally, from the point of view of the Pentagon, Congress would fork over that money right away, before the coming Kandahar offensive that the $33 billion is supposed to pay for, because you can expect a lot of bad news out of Afghanistan in the form of deaths of American soldiers andAfghan civilians once the Kandahar offensive starts, and it would sure be awkward if all that bad news reached Washington while the $33 billion was hanging fire.

So it’s a great thing that Kucinich and his 16 allies are forcing Congress to debate the issue, and it would be even better if more Members of Congress would be urged by their constituents to support Kucinich’s resolution. That would be a signal to the House leadership that continuation of the open-ended war and occupation is controversial in the House, and the House leadership should not try to ram through $33 billion more for the war on a fast-track without ample opportunity for debate and amendment.

Every day the Afghanistan war continues is another day on which the United States government plays Russian roulette with the lives ofAmerican soldiers and Afghan civilians.

The British government has more urgency than the US government about ending the war – and is more supportive than the US of a political solution to end the conflict – because in Britain there is greater public outcry.

If there were greater public and Congressional outcry in the US, we could be more like Britain, and get our government on board the train to a political solution, instead of prolonging the war indefinitely.

The first step towards bringing our troops home is for members of Congress to hear from their constituents.

source: truthout

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Iran Suspends Google Email

Posted on 10 February 2010 by admin

Iran Suspends Google Email

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSsOW15-wWY

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