Wednesday, January 3, 2007
By Amina Mire
Toosoo isku tiirsada ee
Hadba kiina taag daranee
(Somalia wake up,
wake up and join hands together
and we must help the weakest of our people
all of the time.)
--Somali national anthem.
For the average western person, the current Ethiopian invasion of Somalia is just another military operation taking place in a distance land in the war against Islam terror. For Somalis, this invasion is nothing short of humiliating catastrophe. Somalis are deeply nationalistic; yet their nationalistic passion to towards their country did not prevent them from committing self-inflected genocidal civil wars which weakened their cultural fabric, political institutions and central authority so that after 16 years without functioning state, Somalia is today under the occupation of their most hated historical enemy, Ethiopia.
The latest Ethiopian invasion of Somalia is a conflict is between the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and US-sponsored Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (ARPCT), a group of Somali warlords backed by Ethiopia and the US. After the 1991 collapse of central authority in Somalia and ensuing civil war, the ICU emerged as a grassroots organization in response to the lawlessness, violence in the country. In the absence of central political authority and using ,primarily, Sharia law and other traditional Somali values (xeer and dhaqan), the ICU were able to bring law and order throughout the country. They were also able to provide essential services such as healthcare and education. In this way, ICU courts were the only source of stability for civil society while warlords continue to terrorize ordinary Somalis. Whilst the ICU were able clean drugs and guns from the streets in their communities, many attempts to forge transitional government failed because squabbles over power sharing. The current Transitional Federal Government is the latest of many such fruitless efforts.
In June 2006, the Islamic Union Courts assumed centralized control over many parts in the South, including the capital city capital, Mogadishu. This move came about partly after it was revealed that the CIA was secretly working with Somali warlords and Ethiopia to occupy Somalia. In the context, of post September 11, 2001 political stigmatization the Bush Administration had identified the IUC as a terrorist group. Many Somalis saw such rhetoric as a thinly disguised pretext for the US's desire to avenge the 1993 defeat of US Forces in Somalia. Despite U.S. cash payments to various warlords none was able to assert their authority over the population and bring law and order and security to the Somali people.
On the other hand, the ICU was able to clear big urban centers such as Mogadishu, of guns and drugs off the street and also clean up the city. Seaports and airports opened for commercial business again after 1995. The Bush administration continued to treat the ICU as a terrorist organization and started courting its overthrow by using Ethiopia as a proxy state to do its dirty work in exchange for cash incentives for the warlords and for Ethiopia's leader, Meles Zenawi.
Somalis have suffered so much already. Their country has been without central authority since 1991. There is not a shred of evidence that Somalia pose a security threat to the US nor there is any evidence that Islamists are providing safe heaven for Al Qaida or other terrorist groups. In the context of utter humiliation in the hands of their historical enemy, Ethiopia, the current US support of the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia will, most certainly, fan hatred toward the US.
Meles Zenawi faces fierce opposition from various opposition groups inside Ethiopia who accuse him of illegal usurpation of political power, rigging election results, arresting his critics, in some cases, killing hundred of people taking part in peaceful protests against his political misrule. Thus, the sudden invasion of Somalia is a perfect strategy, for him to buttress his legitimacy as a national leader who can defend Ethiopia against Islamic terrorism. Internationally, he is able to position himself and his nation as a friend of the U.S .and Bush's strong man in the Horn of Africa in the US global war against Islamic terror. It is in this context, that Bush administration was able to quickly push through the Security Council the rather dubious resolution which gave Zenawi the green card to invade Somalia.
Resolution 1725 on Somalia authorizes a regional force from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union (AU) to protect the weak Transitional National Government in Baidoa and provide training for its forces. It also authorizes partial lifting of the Somalia Arms Embargo of 1992.
Many Somalis, who are not religious, saw their own safety and security improved under the rule of IUC. In addition, many Somalis in the worldwide Somali Diaspora support IUC for the same pragmatic reasons. Most Somalis were willing to give the IUC sufficient time to clean the streets of guns and violence. After restoring law and order back into the streets, it would have been possible, albeit slowly, to modernize some of their interpretations and the applications of Islamic Sharia. Besides, Sharia laws are already part of the Somali cultural value system.
A large number of Diaspora Somalis were willing to return to Somalia, and rebuild the country, once peace and security were ensured. But now, we are back into the old, ugly days where teenage boys toting AK47s in the back of pick up trucks, used to terrorize the local population. It is hard to predict what future hold for Somalia; I can easily predict the following scenario. Meles Zenawi is a Christian, who draws most of his political power and military support from his Tigre tribe. As a result, his invading soldiers in Somalia are largely from his Tigre Christian tribe. These soldiers do not speak the Somali language; once deep inside Somalia, they will be exposed to attacks by the locals.
Ironically, Zenawi's invasion of Somalia has killed any chance the weak transitional federal government might have had to rule Somalia. The warlords were hated before by all Somalis for their corruption. Now they will be despised as traitors and stooges for the number one enemy of the Somali people, Ethiopia. The history of the animosity between Somalia and Ethiopia is long. In this humiliating condition, Somalis will turn on each other; there will be endless recrimination, revenges and counter-revenges. The clan-based cloak and dagger power struggles will continue.
Amina Mire's last article here was "A Somali Woman Discusses the Sharia Court and Her Cousin Who Leads It".She lives in Ottawa, Canada and can be reached at email@example.com
By Michael Watts
Ryzard Kapucinski, the great Polish journalist, once wrote that 'oil is a fairy tale and like every fairy tale a bit of a lie'. The terrifying oil explosion that engulfed a Lagos neighborhood following Christmas Day--the current death toll is almost 300--says less about vandals who hot-tap the exposed pipelines running through the city's abject slum world than the venality, waste and corruption of a Nigerian petro-capitalism fuelled by windfall profits and modernity's addiction to the automobile. The horrific pictures of charred human carcasses being dragged from the burned-over wreckage of the Awori area of Abule Egba, a suburb of Lagos, is a bleak testimony to the total failure--the great lie--of secular national development in post-colonial Nigeria. The spectacle of an oil nation in which desperate poor city dwellers scramble to scoop petrol and kerosene from ruptured or tapped pipelines stands at the heart of the abject failure of many oil states, what Stanford political scientist Terry Karl calls 'the paradox of plenty'.
Nigeria produces over 2 million barrels of oil a day (currently valued at roughly $40 billion per year) which accounts for 90% of its export earnings and 80% of government revenue. Nigeria also supplies 9% of US imports and is the pillar in the US post 9/11 African oil strategy of the Bush administration which anticipates that the Gulf of Guinea will provide perhaps 25% of US imports by 2015. A multi-billion dollar oil industry is however a mixed blessing at best, and for most Nigerians nothing more than a fairy tail gone awfully wrong. To inventory the 'achievements' of Nigerian oil development is a salutary exercise: 85 percent of oil revenues accrue to 1 percent of the population; over three decades perhaps one quarter of $400 billion in oil; revenues have simply disappeared; between 1970 and 2000 in Nigeria, the number of people subsisting on less than one dollar a day grew from 36 percent to more than 70 percent, from 19 million to a staggering 90 million. According to the International Monetary Fund, oil 'did not seem to add to the standard of living' and 'could have contributed to a decline in the standard of living'. The anti-corruption chief Nuhu Ribadu (one of the few bright lights on a dark political landscape), claimed that in 2003 70% of the country's oil wealth was stolen or wasted; by 2005 it was 'only' 40%. Over the period 1965-2004, the per capital income fell from $250 to $212 while income distribution deteriorated markedly. Since 1990 GDP per capita and life expectancy have, according to World Bank estimates, both fallen. This isn't pretty.
What, then, is the real story behind the horrors of Abule Egba? Let's begin with the fact that in the days before the explosion, fuel was almost impossible to find in Lagos and other cities across the country. Massive lines at gas stations during the holiday period were in large measure the produce of a hugely inefficient and corrupt local refining industry that functions, if at all, well below capacity. The brutal reality of life in the Nigerian petro-state is that fuel for everyday use is one of the country's scarcest commodities.
What might strike the American reader as a bizarre, and potentially deadly, popular livelihood strategy, namely oil theft, exposes the rank underbelly of Nigerian development. The poor quality of oil pipeline infrastructure and their close proximity to human habitation has long been a matter of concern for Nigerian activities and communities in the oil producing and consuming regions. In fact the recent Lagos disaster is business as usual. In 2003 I visited the remains of a church in Okrika, in the heart of the oil-producing Niger delta region, which had been incinerated by a pipeline explosion during a Sunday-morning service. Overall, the picture is one of massive irresponsibility and complacency by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) which has responsibility for most of the pipeline infrastructure, and a dismal lack of leadership and political will from Abuja, the federal capital.
Since the late 1990s, there have been at least major ten explosions and at least 2000 deaths associated with punctured and vanadalized pipelines. In 1998 over 1000 persons died in Jesse; more than 300 were burned alive in Warri in 2000. There have been at least three huge fires in Lagos alone since late 2004, the most recent on May 12th 2006. Countless other smaller events rarely reach the pages of the Nigerian press. The announcement by President Obasanjo that he has only now approved the NNPC plan to re-lay 5000 kilometers of pipelines underground can only be met with amazement--and the deepest of cynicism.
There are at least two important facets of the Awori story. One is what it says of the vast Nigerian slum world of which Lagos is part. By some estimations Lagos has a population of seventeen millions. Mike Davis in his extraordinary new book Planet of the Slums reminds us that perhaps eighty to ninety per cent of the rapidly growing population of African cities--Lagos is forty times larger than it was in 1950--are barracked in slums, a Dickensian nightmare of squalor, poverty and disease. The slum world of Lagos defies description, in part because its operations remain a mystery. In Ajegunle, one of its vast swamp shanty towns, perhaps 1.5 million people inhabit eight square kilometers. In a recent New Yorker article, George Packer describe the city as a burning garbage heap, populated by armies of scavengers that are superfluous and ultimately disposable. It is no wonder that Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos saw in the charred remains of Abule Egba, 'the shame of our nation'.
And what of the vandalization of the pipelines and the theft of oil? The women and children who gathered around the punctured pipeline were almost certainly bit players. The pipe had been tapped on Christmas Eve and by the early morning there were widespread reports of two fuel tankers being filled in the presence of local police. Oil theft--referred to locally as 'bunkering'--is a very large and well organized business in Nigeria. By some estimations perhaps 10-15% of Nigerian oil is stolen by so-called oil syndicates. The impoverished Lagosians who scoop fuel into jerry cans are low-level feeders in a vast ecosystem of crime that reaches to the very highest levels of government and military, and involves the complicity of the transnational oil majors. Across the Niger Delta oil fields well-connected military and government officials have made use of disenfranchised and unemployed youth groups to orchestrate the tapping of major pipelines and to run the oil barges through the tangle of creeks in the Delta to offshore loading stations--all under the watchful eye of the Nigerian navy and coast guard. At present prices, this oil mafia controls a black economy worth billions of dollars annually.
Yet the bunkering business has radically backfired. Angry youth groups, many from marginalized ethnic minorities across the Niger Delta largely excluded from the federal oil revenue allocation process, have gained control of important sections of the oil theft trade. Bunkering finances the purchase of large caches of weapons for what has become a series of armed insurgences across the oilfields. The movement for resource control and self-determination that sprang to life in the late 1980's in the non-violent movement of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni people, by the late 1990s had morphed into a series of militias the Niger Delta Vigilante, The Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force--for whom the slick alliance of a corrupt oil state and unaccountable transnational oil companies became the object of an armed and increasingly violent struggle. Many of these insurgents began life as political thugs hired by oil-fuelled politicians in the elections of 1999 and 2003 but their insertion into the bunkering trade has granted them a political autonomy and a military capability to conduct a guerilla war in the swamps and creeks of the Niger Delta.
In late 2005 a hitherto unknown militia--the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta [MEND]--took a number of oil worker hostages and subsequently mounted massive attacks on oil infrastructures owned by Chevron, Agip, Shell and the Nigerian national oil company. By late 2006 MEND has grown increasingly more brazen to the point where some companies have commenced the evacuation of expatriate staff. The turbulence on the Nigerian oilfields date back to the 1990's and escalated dramatically at the time that President Obasanjo came to power in 1999. The national oil company estimates that between 1998 and 2003, there were four hundred vandalizations on company facilities each year. In seven years the insurgencies and conflicts have cost the government $6.8 billion in lost oil revenue.
The Niger Delta is now almost ungovernable. In a 2005 report, Amnesty International concluded that the Nigerian security forces still operate with impunity. The government, they claim, has failed to protect communities in oil producing areas while providing security to the oil industry. The terrible conditions across the delta are compounded by the policies of the transnational oil companies who have finally acknowledged that their practices of community development and 'cash payments' have made the situation worse. In June 2004, the leak of an internally commissioned Shell Nigeria report revealed the company's direct contribution to corrupt practices and inter-community violence which has eroded what they call their 'license to operate.'
In the ashes of the Lagos inferno lies a much darker story of state corruption, corporate power and a growing oil insurgency, all framed by the existence of endemic poverty amidst oil wealth. As Nigeria prepares for the elections of April 2007, the grave danger is that buoyant oil prices will fund a huge electoral war chest for politicians only too willing to deploy restive youth and angry insurgents for their own political purposes.
In the background stands the US military. According to General James Jones, in testimony offered to the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2005, the new objective in Africa "should be to eliminate ungoverned areas, to counter extremism, and to end conflict and reduce the chronic instability" because of Africa's "potential to become the next front in the Global War on Terrorism." At a May 2006 African Seapower Conference in Abuja. Admiral Harry Ulrich, EUCOM's Commander of US Naval Forces Europe and Africa in referring to Shell's Bonga oil field --Nigeria's largest oil field, costing $3.6 billion to develop and lying within Nigeria's territorial waters--admitted that American ships were patrolling Nigerian oil fields within the 200 mile limit: "We are concerned for Nigeria and we want to help her protect the region from the hands of the maritime criminal..the US and any good nation want a safe coast for countries who are supplying their energy and that is why we are often there. So there is nothing to fear for Nigeria". Against a backdrop of spiraling militancy across the Delta, US interests have met up with European strategic concerns in the region and have established the Gulf of Guinea Energy Security Strategy.
By December, 2005 the American ambassador and the Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation agreed to establish four special committees to co-ordinate action against trafficking in small arms in the Niger Delta, bolster maritime and coastal security in the region, promote community development and poverty reduction, and combat money laundering and other financial crimes. The oil majors facing shut in of up to 500,000 barrels per day are inevitably concerned. A senior maritime analyst at the U.S. Office of Naval Research, revealed to participants at March 2006 conference at Fort Lauderdale "Shell led a group of oil companies in an approach to the US military for protection of their facilities in the Delta," and warned that "Nigeria may have lost the ability to control the situation." It is a perfect storm of oil-lubricated conflict. An oil inferno of another sort.
Interested readers might want to look at a new International Policy Report (2007) published by the Centre for International Policy in Washington DC by Paul Lubeck, Ronnie Lipschitz and myself which discusses the militarization of the Gulf of Guinea. The report is entitled "Convergent Interests: US Energy Security and the "Securing" of Nigerian Democracy" .
Michael Watts is Director of Centre for African Studies, University of California, Berkeley
CRIMES AND CORRUPTION OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER NEWS
Jan 3, 2006
By Nicola Nasser
The U.S. foreign policy blundering has created a new violent hotbed of anti-Americanism in the turbulent Horn of Africa by orchestrating the Ethiopian invasion of another Muslim capital of the Arab League, in a clear American message that no Arab or Muslim metropolitan has impunity unless it falls into step with the U.S. vital regional interests.
The U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Dec. 28 is closely interlinked in motivation, methods, goals and results to the U.S. bogged down regional blunders in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Sudan as well as in Iran and Afghanistan, but mainly in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
Mogadishu is the third Arab metropolitan after Jerusalem and Baghdad to fall to the U.S. imperial drive, either directly or indirectly through Israeli, Ethiopian or other proxies, and the fourth if the temporary Israeli occupation of Beirut in 1982 is remembered; the U.S. endeavor to redraw the map of the Middle East is reminiscent of the British-French Sykes-Pico colonial dismembering of the region and is similarly certain to give rise to grassroots Pan-Arab rejection and awaking with the Pan-Islamic unifying force as a major component.
The U.S. blunder in Somalia could not be more humiliating to Somalis: Washington has delegated to its Ethiopian ally, Mogadishu’s historical national enemy, the mission of restoring the rule of law and order to the same country Addis Ababa has incessantly sought to dismember and disintegrate and singled Ethiopia out as the only neighboring country to contribute the backbone of the U.S.-suggested and U.N.-adopted multinational foreign force for Somalia after the Ethiopian invasion, thus setting the stage for a wide-spread insurgency and creating a new violent hotbed of anti-Americanism.
The U.S. manipulation is there for all to see; a new U.S.-led anti-Arab and anti-Muslim regional alliance is already in the working and not only in the making; the U.S.-allied Ethiopian invaders have already taken over Somalia after the withdrawal of the forces of the United Islamic Courts (UIC), who rejected an offer of amnesty in return for surrendering their arms and refused unconditional dialogue with the invaders; the withdrawal of the UIC forces from urban centers reminds one of the disappearance of the Iraqi army and the Taliban government in Afghanistan and warns of a similar aftermath in Somalia in a similar shift of military strategy into guerilla tactics.
The UIC leaders who went underground are promising guerilla and urban warfare; “terrorist” tactics are their expected major weapon and American targets are linked to the Ethiopian invasion. It doesn’t need much speculation to conclude that the Bush Administration’s policy in the Horn of Africa is threatening American lives as well as the regional stability.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, “Because the United States has accused Somalia of harboring al-Qaeda suspects, the Ethiopian-Eritrean proxy conflict increases the opportunities for terrorist infiltration of the Horn and East Africa and for ignition of a larger regional conflict,” in which the United States would be deeply embroiled.
Eritrea accused the United States on Monday of being behind the war in Somalia. “This war is between the Americans and the Somali people,” Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu told Reuters.
The U.S administration found no harm in keeping the divided country an easy prey for the warlords and tribal bloody disputes since 1991, probably finding in that status quo another guarantee-by-default for U.S. regional interests. It could have lived forever with the political chaos and humanitarian tragedy in one of the world’s poorest countries were it not for the emergence of the indigenous grassroots UIC, who provided some social security and order under a semblance of a central government that made some progress towards unifying the country.
Pre-empting intensive Arab, Muslim and European mediation efforts between the UIC and the transitional government, Washington moved quickly to clinch the UN Security Council resolution 1725 on Dec. 6, recognizing the Baidoa government organized in Kenya by U.S. regional allies and dominated by the warlords as the legitimate authority in Somalia after sending Army Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, to Addis Ababa in November for talks with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on bailing out the besieged transitional government by coordinating an Ethiopian military intervention.
Resolution 1725 also urged that all member states, “in particular those in the region,” to refrain from interference in Somalia, but hardly the ink of the resolution dried than Washington was violating it by providing training, intelligence and consultation to at least 8,000 Ethiopian troops who rushed into Baidoa and its vicinity before the major Ethiopian invasion, a fact that was repeatedly denied by both Washington and Addis Ababa but confirmed by independent sources.
To contain the repercussions, Washington is in vain trying to distance itself from the Ethiopian invasion; U.S. officials have repeatedly denied using Ethiopia as a proxy in Somalia. Moreover it is trying to play down the invasion itself: “The State Department issued internal guidance to staff members, instructing officials to play down the invasion in public statements,” read a copy of the guidelines obtained by The New York Times.
“Mission Accomplished,” Addis Ababa's Daily Monitor announced when the Ethiopian forces blitzed into Mogadishu, heralding a new U.S. regional alliance at the southern approaches to the oil-rich Arab heartland in the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq; in 2003, the same phrase adorned a banner behind President Gearge W. Bush as he declared an end to major combat operations in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. All facts on the ground indicate that the U.S. mission in Somalia won’t be less a failure than that in Iraq, or less misleading.
The U.S. foreign policy has sown the seeds of a new national and regional violent hotbed of anti-Americanism in the Arab world, the heart of what western strategists call the Middle East, by succeeding in Somalia in what it failed to achieve in Lebanon a few months ago: Washington was able to prevent the United Nations (UN) from imposing a ceasefire until the Ethiopian invasion seized Mogadishu; the Lebanese resistance and national unity prevented the Israeli invaders from availing themselves of the same U.S. green light to achieve their goals in Beirut.
In both cases, Washington involved the UN as a fig leaf to cover the Israeli and Ethiopian invasions, repeating the Iraq scenario, and in both cases initiated military intervention to abort mediation efforts and national dialogue to solve internal conflicts peacefully.
In Somalia as in Iraq, Washington is also trying to delegate the mission of installing a pro-U.S. regime whose leaders were carried in on the invading tanks to a multinational force in which the neighboring countries are not represented, only to be called upon later not to interfere in Somalia’s internal affairs, as it is the case with Iran, Syria in particular vis-à-vis the U.S.-occupied Iraq.
The Bush administration has expressed understanding for the security concerns that prompted Ethiopia to intervene in Somalia. So once again U.S. pretexts of Washington’s declared world war on terror were used to justify the Ethiopian invasion as a preventive war in self-defense, only to create exactly the counterproductive environment that would certainly exacerbate violence and expand a national dispute into a wider regional conflict.
Real Security Concerns of Ethiopia
Regionally, the U.S. pretexts used by Addis Ababa to justify its invasion could thinly veil the land locked Ethiopia’s historical and strategic aspiration for an outlet on the Red Sea by using the Somali land as the only available approach to its goal after the independence of Eritrea deprived it of the sea port of Assab.
Agreed upon peaceful arrangements with Somalia and Eritrea is the only other option that would grant Ethiopia access to sea - whether to the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and Bab el Mandeb or the Arabian Sea, and through these sea lanes to the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. This option is pre-empted by the empirical dreams of Greater Ethiopia that tempted the successive regimes of Emperor Hailie Selassie, the military Marxist rule of Mengistu Haile Mariam and the incumbent U.S.-backed oppressive regime of Meles Zinawi, which were deluded by the military means of the only country with a semblance of a nation state and a military might in a regional neighborhood disintegrated into the poorest communities of the world by tribal strife left over by the British, French and Italian western colonialist powers; hence the Ethiopian wars with Eritrea and Somalia.
The Eritrean fear of an Ethiopian invasion of Assab via Somalia is realistic and legitimate, given the facts that Ethiopia’s borders are, like Israel’s, still not demarcated, its yearning for an access to sea as a strategic goal is still valid and its military option to achieve this goal is still not dropped because of the virtual state of war that still governs its relations with both Somalia and Eritrea. Hence the reports about the Eritrean intervention in Somalia, denied by Asmara, and the regional and international warnings against the possible development of the Ethiopian invasion into a wider regional conflict that could also involve Djibouti and Kenya.
Internally in Ethiopia, the successive regimes since Hailie Selassie were dealing with the demographic structure of the country as a top state secret and incessantly floating the misleading image of Ethiopia as the Christian nation it has been for hundreds of years, but hardly veiling the independent confirmation that at least half of the population are now Muslims, a fact that is not represented in the structure of the ruling elite but also a fact that explains the oppressive policies of the incumbent U.S.-backed regime.
Here lies the realistic fears of the Ethiopian ruling elites from the emergence of a unified Somalia and the impetus it would give to the Ogaden National Liberation Front, which represents the 1.5 million Muslim tribesmen of Somali origin who inhabit the 200,000-square-kilometer desert region occupied by Addis Ababa and led to the 1977-88 war between the two countries and remains a festering hotbed of bilateral friction.
A united independent Somalia and a liberated or revolting Ogaden would inevitably deprive Ethiopia of its desert corridor to the coast and have at least adverse effects on/or imbalance altogether the internal status quo in Addis Ababa. True the potential of infiltration by al-Qaeda is highly probable with such a development but it is only too inflated a pretext for Addis Ababa to justify its unconvincing trumpeting of the “Islamic threat” emanating from the ascendancy of the UIC in Somalia.
Ethiopia’s justification of its invasion by Washington’s pretexts of the U.S. war on terror is misleading and encouraging Addis Ababa to justify its invasion by the “Islamic threat,” leading some UIC leaders to declare “Jihad” against the “Christian invasion” of their country and in doing so contributing to turning an Ethiopian internal and regional miscalculations into seemingly “Muslim-Christian” war, which have more provocateurs in Addis Ababa than in Mogadishu.
The sectarian war among Muslims fomented by the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq within the context of “divide and rule” policy could now be coupled with a “religious war” in the Horn of Africa to protect the U.S. military presence that is “defending” the Arab oil wealth in the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq against a threat to its mobility from the south, a war that could drive a new wedge between Arabs and their neighbors, in a replay of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and in tandem with a 60-year old Israeli strategy of sowing divide between them and their Ethiopian, Iranian and Turkish geopolitical strategic depth.
However, this U.S.-Israeli strategy is certain to backfire. Somalis could not but be united against foreign invasion in a country where Islamism is the essence of nationalism and where Pan-Arabism could not but be a source of support as the country is too weak and poor to be adversely affected by Arab League divides; they are in their overwhelming majority Muslims with no divisive sectarian loyalties and no neighboring sectarian polarization center as it is the case with Iran in Iraq; the “Christian face” of the invasion would be a more uniting factor and would serve as a war cry against the new American imperialistic plans because it is reminiscent of earlier “Christian” European colonial adventures.
Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine. He is based in Ramallah, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
Posted on Tuesday January 2, 2007
An article by Tom Friedman, a quote from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a letter by a Virginia Congressman hit in one day last week reminding me how tolerant our national discourse has become of bigotry toward Arabs and Muslims and how condescending policy-makers and analysts have become in their dealings with the Middle East region.
Tom Friedman’s Article
In the lead up to the Iraq War, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman was one of the invasion’s strong advocates. Friedman has now figured out why the war has gone so badly, and so in a rather remarkable piece appearing in the Times this week, he offers advice to President Bush.
Never known for humility or apologies, here’s what Friedman has concluded: it’s the Arabs’ fault. I said the article was remarkable, and it was, not for its wisdom, but for its shameless self-serving bigotry.
The article “Mideast Rules To Live By” makes the following observations:
- Arabs are dishonest (they say one thing in private, another in public);
- Arabs are illogical (prone to conspiracies);
- Arabs are weak-kneed, without principles (“moderates”, in particular, are dissemblers, with no backbone);
- Arabs are more violent and vengeful than “we” are;
- Arabs are petty and tribal, and so on.
The Friedman lesson for the President appears to be, “It’s not your fault, sir, it’s theirs. You and I weren’t wrong about the war; they weren’t ready for the gift you were giving them.” I have often been disturbed by Friedman’s dismissive tone coupled with his weird obsession with all things Arab. With this piece my reaction went from disturbed to outrage.
As I read through Friedman’s 15 rules for dealing with “Middle Easterners” (as he terms the objects of his condescension), I wondered, “what if an Arab had written a comparable piece about Jews?” The reaction would have been swift and justifiable condemnation.
European imperialists wrote this way about their subject natives. And whites, at one time, wrote much the same was about blacks. But, this is the 21st century and here, in the “enlightened” New York Times, is bigotry and condescension on display – passing as enlightened analysis.
Which brings me to…
Secretary Rice’s Quote
In a long interview with the Washington Post Rice notes, “The old Middle East was not going to stay. Let’s stop mourning the old Middle East. It was not so great and it was not going to survive anyway.”
The condescension and arrogance at work here is stunning. In one sweeping stroke, Rice dismisses the tens of thousands who have died, the civil war in Iraq and the volatile mess left by our neglectful and misguided policies in Lebanon and Palestine as the mere passing of the “old Middle East”, which wasn’t “so good” anyway. There is, therefore, no need to beat our breasts with mea culpas, no reason to fret about the failures and the devastating consequences of our misguided policy. It is not our fault, it is theirs. And, in any case, things are better off now, because we said they were.
Thank you for the clarification and the history lesson, Madame Secretary.
If Friedman and Rice weren’t bad enough, the worst quote of the week came in the form of…
Rep. Virgil Goode’s (R-Va) Letter
In a letter to constituents, Republican Congressman Virgil Goode expressed his concern with the intention of newly elected Congressman Keith Ellison to take the oath of office using the Qur’an.
Goode wrote, “I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. …[I]f American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.”
This ugly rant conflates a number of bigoted threads that have infected our national discourse, including xenophobia and Islamophobia. I’ve heard them on our radio talk shows and read them in blogs but coming from a Congressman on official stationary is another matter.
Facts don’t matter to bigots, only hate and fear. Ellison is an African American who traces his ancestry back to the 1700’s. The largest component group of U.S. Muslims are African American converts, not immigrants. There are a number of American Muslim immigrants serving with distinction at the highest levels in the Administration and in the US military.
But, facts don’t matter. What does matter and is of concern here, is that it has become acceptable to spew this type of venom.
All of this raises serious and troubling questions we must answer. How do we face up to the mess we made in the Middle East and find a way forward? How can we capture and preserve the “values and beliefs” that we claim if a Congressman can write like this, a Secretary of State can be so dismissive of the human tragedy created of our blunders and the respected New York Times can publish such ugly bigotry?
Resolving to answer these questions might be a great way to start the New Year.
As if to kick off the New Year, and usher in the required political mindset, the Israelis are switching the attack Iran mantra into hyperdrive.
“As an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and US newspaper editors,” declares Israeli Brigadier General Oded Tira. “We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure.”
It is refreshing, in a sadistic sort of way, so little translation is required here. First, Tira, a former IDF chief artillery officer, has cut to the chase, not belaboring us with the sort of platitudes uttered by a Binyamin Netanyahu or Ehud Olmert. In order for Israel to exist, so the reasoning goes, it is required for the United States to attack Iran and kick off world war three, or as the neocons call it, world war four. Of course, by “existence” the former IDF officer means Israel must continue the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, continue killing and torturing the Palestinian people, and mucking around in the domestic affairs of its Arab neighbors.
I believe the second point, however, is not necessary, as in many ways the Democrats are more pro-Israel than the Republicans, if that is possible. Killing large numbers of Muslims—650,000, by conservative estimates, in Iraq alone as the year ends—is indeed a bipartisan affair. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, while dissing the neocon occupation of Iraq in the name of political expediency, have called for invading Iran. But the likely Democrat presidential selectee, John Edwards, is even more pro-Zionist than either Clinton or Obama.
“Edwards has been one of Israel’s strongest and most consistent supporters in the U.S. Senate, and as President, he will work in the tradition of Democratic Presidents like Harry Truman, John Kennedy and Bill Clinton to strengthen the special relationship between the United States and Israel and the Jewish people. He will work tirelessly to strengthen America’s economic and political ties with Israel—the region’s only democracy—and will ensure that America will do what is necessary to ensure Israel’s security, including through economic and military aid,” declares the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, billed as a “non-partisan” organization established “to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship by emphasizing the fundamentals of the alliance,” that is to say disseminate propaganda through the Jewish Virtual Library, a sprawling online encyclopedia.
Specifically, in regard to Iran, Edwards said during a vice presidential selectee “debate” in 2004: “It’s important for America to confront the situation in Iran, because Iran is an enormous threat to Israel and to the Israeli people.” Not the American people, mind you, but the Israeli people. As president, Edwards will carry Israel’s torch forward, making certain to ignite Iran—not that he will be required to do such, as the departing neocons will do it for him, possibly sooner before later.
Mr. Tira offers a few choice suggestions on how best to start world war four and ultimately destroy America. “For our part, we must prepare an independent military strike by coordinating flights in Iraqi airspace with the US. We should also coordinate with Azerbaijan the use of airbases in its territory and also enlist the support of the Azeri minority in Iran. In addition, we must immediately start preparing for an Iranian response to an attack.”
In addition to the lucrative Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and billions in oil and gas revenue, the Israelis are interested in using Azerbaijan as a staging platform for a future attack, as Tira notes. According to Seymour Hersh and Scott Ritter, the Israeli Mossad is busily at work unleashing covert intelligence cells inside Iran, “supplemented with specially trained commandos entering Iran disguised as local villagers,” according to Hersh. In an interview published by Aljazeera, Ritter claims “the Mossad is working with the Azeri population” to undermine Iranian sovereignty.
The strategic importance of the Israeli-Azeri alliance should not be underestimated—Azeris are the second largest ethnic group within Iran. “Human Rights Watch reports that between 15 and 20 million Azeris reside in Iran, and that they ‘inhabit a strategically important, prosperous area in northwest Iran, relatively close to Tehran,’” notes Nick Grace C.
According to Glenn Hauser, who monitors short wave radio, the Voice of Southern Azerbaijan is an Israeli operation. Wolfgang Bueschel, another short wave monitor, told “IPS in October 1992 from Baku, that the Israelian (sic) secret service specialist David Kimche and… Richard Secord, who was involved in the Iran-Contra-Affair, visited Azerbaijan, (and) presented a delegation of more Israelian secret service personnel. Mr. Culuzadeh took part on a return visit to Israel, (and) lead a delegation of Azerbaijan/Uzbek/Kazakh secret services.”
But simply stirring up the Azeri population will not be enough, not without an aroused United States, once again willing to lend its once powerful, now increasingly impotent, military to the Israeli cause. “Based on the urgency of General Tira’s extraordinary pleas, it is immediately apparent that he has been shocked by the turn of political events inside America. By this time, he has learned from official US sources that the long-anticipated attack against Iran has been shelved because of tectonic shifts in American politics,” writes Michael Carmichael.
In short, the Israelis are not prepared to wait for the glacial turn of American politics, especially now that the decidedly pro-Israel Democrats are taking over the reigns of Congress. Israel has demanded the United States invade Israel for a couple years now and is obviously growing increasingly agitated with the slow move in that direction, a move nonetheless promised before Bush leaves office.
Even though Mr. Carmichael believes the neocon plan for attacking Iran is in decline, the principals remain faithful to the cause. For instance, Binyamin Netyanahu.
In an op-ed published in the neocon-infested Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu declares “Iran can still be stopped,” and the Israelis “must make it clear to the government, the Congress and the American public that a nuclear Iran is a threat to the US and the entire world, not only Israel.”
In other words, in regard to the in-coming Democrat Congress, there must be “an intense, international, public relations front focusing first and foremost on the US…. The time has come for the Israeli government to put our existence in its utmost priority. If it does so, I guarantee that both my party members and myself will give our full support in preparation against the Iranian threat, as we did in the Lebanon war,” never mind that “war” went badly for Israel, as it ran smack up against the reality of a well-armed and trained Hezbollah.
Come the invasion of Iran, Hezbollah’s resistance will look like an informal dress rehearsal by way of comparison.
As it now appears, 2007 will be the decisive year for Israel’s long-planned attack on Iran, thanks to a never-ending stream of propaganda and the easily exploitable ignorance of the American people. “The Bush administration, with the able help of the Israeli government and the pro-Israel Lobby, has succeeded in exploiting the ignorance of the American people about nuclear technology and nuclear weapons,” writes Scott Ritter. “If there is an American war with Iran, it is a war that was made in Israel and nowhere else.”
In addition to AIPAC influence and the overtime work of the neocons, the latter with a virtual electronic forum thanks to the corporate media and the former now diligently canvassing Congress for easily won support, there is Bush’s “legacy” to consider.
“Bush can’t stop now,” writes Scott Horton. “He figures his legacy as a disgrace to America and all mankind can be postponed or perhaps somehow even reversed if he could have just a little more time. Time for what? Could it be that Bush truly intends to carry out the full neoconservative program in the Middle East, complete with more regime changes? …. Perhaps the question is whether Israel will start a war in Syria as a back door to the expansion of America’s war to Iran, or will the U.S. simply fake another Gulf of Tonkin provocation in the Indian Ocean and hit Syria second?…. Robert Parry reports that Bush, Blair and Olmert are already planning for more war in the new year. The Iranians seem to have waited too long to get their act together. If they had withdrawn from the NPT and started harvesting plutonium the way North Korea did, instead of throwing their books wide open to the UN and trying to go along, they’d have a nuclear deterrent by now.”
Deterrent or not, Iran will not come out on the short end of any attack, although doubtless plenty of Iranians will die. It will be the United States and Israel that will ultimately suffer, or rather the people of these countries. If Israel manages to goad the United States into an attack, the economic consequences alone will put an end to the demented aspirations of Pax Americana, and this will spell disaster for Israel as well, as it cannot possibly hope to exist in current form if its nanny funds, to the tune of billions each year, suddenly evaporate.
Second U.S. carrier group to deploy to Gulf: sources
1 hour, 2 minutes ago
The Pentagon will send a second aircraft carrier and its escort ships to the Gulf, defense officials said on Wednesday, as a warning to Syria and Iran and to give commanders more flexibility in the region.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bremerton, Wash.-based USS John C. Stennis strike group would deploy this month. It will put 5,000 more U.S. sailors in the region, bringing the total to 16,000.
The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier group entered the Gulf in December.
By James Brooks
The recent “peace” overtures between Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Abbas do not promise significantly improved conditions for Palestinians or an end to the Israeli occupation. More likely results include intensified efforts to split the Palestinian public and undermine their legally elected government.
The meeting has been portrayed as an opening to relations between Israel and the PA that “boost Abbas” and exclude Hamas altogether. Olmert, Abbas, and their backers in Washington and Europe have insisted that Hamas, the popularly elected majority party, “renounce violence” and “recognize Israel’s right to exist.” These are the stated objectives of the crushing economic blockade that Israel and the Western powers have enforced against occupied Palestine since last March.
Objectively, neither demand has much substance. Hamas recently renounced violence by maintaining a unilateral ceasefire for well over a year. The same period saw a steady escalation of Israeli raids, arrests, killings, and settlements in the occupied territories. Everyone, including Israel’s general staff, knows that Hamas would return to a ceasefire if it thought Israel were serious about reciprocating. Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal’s recent proposal for a 10-year ceasefire was summarily rebuffed.
It is not Hamas that is launching most of the rockets into Israel these days, but the Al Aqsa Brigades attached to Mr. Abbas’ Fateh Party, seconded by the Al Quds Brigades of Islamic Jihad. And all the Israeli casualties and destruction caused by the last two years of Palestinian rockets would not equal the damage wrought in one average week of IDF operations in occupied Palestine.
The Olmert-Abbas ‘mini-summit’ provided more evidence of the insincerity of the “renounce violence” demand when Mr. Olmert failed to get even a pause in the firing of Al Aqsa rockets before his meeting with the leader of Fateh.
As for ‘recognizing Israel’s right to exist,’ we simply note that Israel has yet to recognize the state of Palestine’s ‘right to exist.’ Israel currently forbids a Palestinian state and negates the Palestinians’ national rights daily with its strangling military occupation. Under the circumstances, it hardly seems unreasonable for Hamas to withhold recognition of this ‘right to exist’ until it is reciprocated in word and deed.
The problem, of course, is that a PA run by Hamas cannot be considered fit company in any “peace process” with Israel until Hamas meets both demands, as Fateh is supposed to have done in the past. The “peace process” operates under a bifurcated system of precedent, in which every concession made by Palestinian leaders has been irreversibly chiseled into stone, while numerous Israeli promises have been erased in practice and will have to be won again by Palestinians in future talks.
Today, in the 40th year of Israel’s occupation and creeping annexation of their remaining land, Palestinians have little left to hold on to but their national rights, and their obstinate refusal to part with them. No one familiar with the history of the “peace process” can be surprised by polls that continue to show a majority of Palestinians supporting Hamas and its refusal to recognize Israel’s ‘right to exist,’ at least until it is returned in kind.
Yet the stated subtext to the economic blockade of the PA has been to “convince the Palestinian people” (by driving them into destitution) to abandon Hamas in favor of the more “moderate” Fateh. Presumably, an informed strategist would know that the majority of Palestinians would reject this blatant attempt to undermine their voice. It might even harden support for Hamas and its allegiance to principles.
If so, the policy must have been directed at the minority response. What was the likelihood that deepening poverty, accompanied by a bloody military siege and internal strife, fanned and sometimes instigated by Israeli agents and collaborators, would drive a sizeable number of people to capitulate in the arms of Abbas? This was, after all, one of the stated objectives of the project.
Politically, this would be considered “pushing a wedge issue,” a calculated effort to divide an electorate along ideological lines, usually for one’s own political gain. In this case the electorate is not the constituency of the politicians “pushing the wedge,” but the Palestinian people, the impoverished and land-robbed victims of the modern world’s longest running illegal military occupation.
While Mr. Olmert and his wife recently shared herring in lemon sauce with Mr. Abbas in a sunny East Jerusalem villa, the PM’s aides pulled out all the stops to project the image of Abbas as “just like any other head of state.” They even (flouting the law) flew a Palestinian flag.
The Christmas “gifts” from Mr. Olmert included $100 million of the PA’s own tax revenues, which Israel has refused to turn over since the elected Hamas government took office last March. Since Israel’s take in this heist is now estimated to exceed $800 million, the pittance given to Mr. Abbas had the air of hush money paid by organized crime. Most of it will be used to pay down the PA’s debts -- to Israeli creditors -- and then only after Israel is satisfied that Hamas will never see it.
As Olmert was willing to part with only one-eighth of the Palestinians’ money, he may consent to removing one-eighth of the Israeli army’s “roadblocks” in the fragments of the West Bank where Palestinians are still allowed to live. He also promises to make it easier for the people of the West Bank to get permits to travel to their own orchards, or to the next town or village, or maybe (mirable dictu!) to a nearby city. In other words, Mr. Abbas has gained a slight (and very likely temporary) loosening of Israel’s suffocating grip on the throat of Palestine.
In exchange, President Abbas managed to forget that Israel has illegally kidnapped and imprisoned the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, at least 28 of the PLC’s elected members, and at least 10 government ministers, half of whom it still holds. Does a “head of state” go begging for crumbs from a foreign power that is holding abducted members of his own government?
If Mr. Abbas were sincerely interested in forming a national unity government with Hamas, he would not have sold their prisoners of state so cheaply. Had he been truly committed to democracy last March, he would have led his defeated party into loyal opposition in the newly elected Hamas government. By closing ranks with Hamas, Abbas and Fateh could have shown the world that Palestinians would obey their own constitution, work out their own issues, and would not be prey to outside interference or blockades.
Instead, he set out to commandeer the PA’s security forces and led Fateh into the disloyal opposition they have maintained to this day. Lately he has taken the PA into new constitutional territory by claiming the unilateral power to call new elections. His Fateh-packed Supreme Court recently declared that decisions made by the current PLC are “null and void.” Fortified by a significant new supply of US weapons and training, Mr. Abbas appears dangerously close to usurping both the Palestinian constitution and the will of the people by pretending to be the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian Authority.
In following this course, Mr. Abbas has made himself available to external forces that wish to make him the ultimate spoiler of last January’s free and fair elections. The ultimate goal of these parties, Israel foremost among them, may be to trigger Palestinian civil war and fatally split the Palestinians’ national solidarity, their key to survival. Perhaps to this end, the myth that Israel has “no partner for peace” is being transformed into the myth that Israel has “only one partner for peace,” one that, under present conditions, cannot claim to represent the Palestinian people.
James Brooks serves as webmaster for Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar
Last Saturday at approximately 6:05 am, former dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, was executed by hanging at the former headquarters of Saddam's military intelligence where many of his victims were executed on the same gallows.
Shortly after the execution, the Iraqi government released a short film of the execution which showed the former dictator, very composed, declaring his faith and refusing the hood, walking to the trapdoor where a noose was placed around his neck. Here the sound track was either cleaned and/or missing. Shortly after, a new video, supposedly taken by a mobile phone by one of those present at the scene, was circulating around the world. This film showed all the gruesome details of the execution and, most importantly, recorded the sounds in the gallows chamber. In this film, one can hear Saddam Hussein declaring his faith (similar to the last rites) while a person shouted “Moqtada is alive” (referring to the Shi’ite Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr) and “you are going to hell.”
The trial and execution of Saddam raise important questions: why was he tried and executed for only one incident: ordering the 1982 killings of 148 Shiite Muslims in Dujail, (“small” as compared to other horrific atrocities committed during his reign of terror); why was he executed at such a (religiously) sensitive time; why were the videos were released; and finally why did the authorities allowed his body to be buried in Tikrit, his home town?
Why was he tried and executed for one incident
The list of crimes attributed to Saddam Hussein and his regime is indeed a lengthily one, but to show that there were much more serious crimes than the massacre of Shi’ites in Dujail, I shall just list a few of them here.
Saddam’s use of chemical weapons against both military (Iran) and against civilians (both Iranian and Iraqis) is well documented. One of the most horrifying acts of Saddam was his ordering of chemical attack on Kurdish civilians in the town of Halabja. In this incident, more than 5,000 Iraqis (men, women and children) were killed in a few hours.
In his book, “Eastern Gate Ruins," General Wafiq Al Samarae, the former director of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, admits that Saddam’s government used chemical weapons against Iraqi people in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala to crush the popular uprising of March 1991, which followed the defeat of Saddam in invading Kuwait. Saddam also used chemical weapons against citizens in the marshes of southern Iraq.
Among thousands of executions and assassinations, he was also responsible for the killing of Sunni religious leaders, such as Abdul Aziz Al Badri the Imam of Dragh district mosque in Baghdad; Al Shaikh Nadhum Al Asi from Ubaid tribe in Northern Iraq; Al Shiakh Al Shahrazori, Al Shaikh Umar Shaqlawa, Al Shiakh Rami Al Kirkukly, Al Shiakh Mohamad Shafeeq Al Badri, Abdul Ghani Shindala, etc., etc.
Invasions of Iran and Kuwait also resulted in deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, not to mention Iranians and Kuwaitis. When one considers the number of people killed and the magnitude of Saddam’s crimes, one wonders why he was tried and executed for killing 148 Shi’ites in 1982? Considering the extensive documentation that exists, surely it was not difficult to prove the use of chemical weapons on Halabja.
Keeping the accomplices hidden
The problem with trying Saddam Hussein for really big atrocities, such as use of chemical weapons on civilians was that many enablers of Saddam’s regime, including Western companies and both Western and Middle Eastern governments, would have been implicated. During the 1980s, 29 countries supplied him with weapons, while nine others fronted for him whenever a cover was needed. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, China and Russia (just to name a few) had to be named and their complicity explained.
For example, it is a well-known fact that it was Saudi Arabian money that helped underwrite Iraq’s eight year war with Iran. It was Saudi Arabia’s encouragement and guarantees of financial support that finally persuaded Saddam Hussein to attack Iran. By the end of 1981, Saudi Arabia had “officially” loaned over $10 billion to Iraq . This financial help was in addition to producing and selling 1 million barrels of oil per day on behalf of Iraq. But Saudi Arabia, although the chief financier, was not the only Arab country that wholeheartedly assisted Saddam Hussein. The so-called moderate Arab countries, such as Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait, were also heavily involved in assisting Saddam.
But while Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were providing the money, it was the West that was supplying the weaponry and the technical assistance that enabled Saddam Hussein to carry out some of his most horrific crimes against humanity. “The Blue prints for the construction of the first chemical weapons plant were provided by Pfaulder Corporation of Rochester, New York.”  German, French, Italian and British companies were all heavily involved in arming Saddam Hussein. Even after Saddam’s heavy use of chemical weapons against Iranian targets and his own people, the relationship continued unabated. By 1989 the whole world knew about the use of chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein. After all, it was on 16 March 1988 that Iraqi forces gassed the town of Halabja, killing 5,000 and injuring 7,000 Kurds. Yet even this atrocity did not affect the US or British relationship with Saddam’s regime.
“In 1989 the United States supplied Iraq with helicopter engines, vacuum pumps for a nuclear plant, sophisticated communications equipment, computers, bacteria strains and hundreds of tons of unrefined Sarin.
"Furthermore, the pro-Iraq activities of the US-Iraq business Forum, led as it was by former diplomats with solid connections with the State Department, were augmented by the work of Kissinger Associates, the consulting firm headed by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Representing companies such as Volvo, Fiat and Hunt Oil, this firm was staffed by other insiders who took their signal from the government. Two of the insiders, Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger, were to join the Bush administration in the spring of 1989, the former as National Security Adviser.” 
Execution: the date, the films and the burial place
Muslims celebrate two Eids (Arabic: festival): One is called Eid ul-Fitr that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, and the other is Eid ul-Adha or in Persian Eid-e Qurban which is celebrated to commemorate Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God.
Eid Al Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of the month of Dhul Hijja of the lunar Islamic calendar, after the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. This festival is four days long, starting the day after the pilgrims (during their ceremony) descend from the mount Arafat (Saudi Arabia). During this festival lambs are slaughtered and the regular charitable practices of the Muslim community are demonstrated by the concerted effort to see that no impoverished Muslim is left without sacrificial food during these days. In other words, these four days of festivals are to be the time of charity and good deeds. This year’s Eid Al Adhais began on 30 December, the very day that Saddam Hussein was executed.
The timing indicates that the Iraqi government was under pressure to remove Saddam from the scene before the Gregorian calendar New Year. But why? Does this have something to do with the Bush’s new Iraq strategy? On its own, executing Saddam on that day did not make any sense except angering the Sunni Muslims of Iraq even more than they are already.
Videoing of the execution and releasing it to the public was also a propaganda victory for Saddam Hussein. He went to his death with dignity and courage. The Sunnis, especially the Ba'athists, will remember him for his defiance to the very end. So, why release the video in the first place? And why release the second video? This video with sound track was shot by a mobile phone. It was clear that all present were aware that this person was filming them. We know that everyone was there by invitation and everyone was thoroughly searched. So it was not an accident, nor the work of a freelance journalist to shoot the video and release it to the public. Both the central government and the Americans would have had to okay the release. So why was it released?
If you watch the second video, you hear one of the executioners (guards) shouting the name of Muqtada al-Sadr. This video connects the execution directly to al-Sadr. It is no secret that Muqtada al-Sadr is an Arab nationalist and the one that could pose the greatest threat to the Americans. He has considerable influence in the Shi’ia community and has several people in the parliament. He also has a large militia in Baghdad and elsewhere in southern Iraq. He is also the one that can easily make common cause with the Sunni insurgents against the occupation forces. This video tried to portray al-Sadr people as the ones responsible for the taunting and, in the minds of some, the execution of Saddam.
Then we have the burial place: Awja, near Tikrit. Why did the government not send the body to Jordan where most of Saddam’s family live? Or why wasn’t it sent to Yemen for burial as one of his daughters, Raghad wished ?
By sending Saddam’s body to Awja, the government and the Americans are ensuring that the Sunnis will have a nationalist shrine right at the heart of the Sunni triangle. The Ba'athists and the Sunni nationalists will have a shrine dedicated to what they believe was a national hero, killed at the hands of Shi’ites and the Americans.
Stupidity or design
By all legal standards, the trial of Saddam Hussein was unfair and farcical to say the least. It was a show trial for the public. His hasty execution was also a disgrace. Those who had suffered most at his hands did not get justice, for their voices were never heard or their sufferings acknowledged; while those who supported him did not see a proper legal trial for their leader.
The farcical trial and hasty execution only achieved one thing: silencing the man that could expose the hypocrisy and complicity of both the so-called moderate Arab governments and the major Western powers.
Some may think that by executing him, the Sunni insurgents will be disheartened and become more amiable in dealing with the US. This is, of course, an illusion. The existing Iraqi Ba'ath Party has already appointed Saddam’s former general and number two party member Ezat Irahim Al Dawri as the new leader and the “president of Iraq." Al Dawri has been in hiding since 2003 and is believed to be directing some attacks against the occupation forces. However, it is just possible that given enough power in the Al-Maliki’s government, some Sunni elements may join the governing group. But this can only be achieved if Muqtada al-Sadr is neutralised.
This is the most likely reason behind the release of the second film. If the US attacks Al-Sadr, it is hoped, it will show Sunnis that the US is attacking a hated Shi’ia who was taunting Saddam on the gallows. So far, the US has had an uneasy truce with al-Sadr, something that the US is no longer is interested in. It is evident that the United States will, in the near future, attack Al-Sadr forces in Baghdad and will try to crush and disband his militia, the Mahdi Army. This attack will result in the resignation of al-Sadr’s supporters in the parliament, creating a vacuum which can then be filled with the Sunnis. In this way, a new Shi’ia government can be constructed with enhanced Sunni representation which can then embark on a new pacification campaign of the Sunni Triangle.
All this, of course, is based on the assumption that Mahdi army of Muqtada al-Sadr is swiftly defeated and that it does not spread to other parts of Southern Iraq. Considering the popularity and strength of al-Sadr, it is highly unlikely that this can be accomplished easily or swiftly. Most likely the situation will deteriorate fast and southern Iraq will turn into another hotbed of anti-American insurgents.
In its campaign in Iraq, the United States has made many mistakes, but attacking Al-Sadr will be one move that will either make or break the US in Iraq.
1. Dilip Hiro, “The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict,” Paladin, 1990. pp.76
2. Abdel Darwish and Gregory Alexander, “Unholy Babylon: The Secret History of Saddam’s War,” Gollancz, 1991, pp. 104
3. Said K. Aburish, “Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge,” Bloomsbury, 2000, pp.269.
4. The Age, “Saddam’s daughter wants Yemen burial,” December 30, 2006
Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar lives in Norway. He is a management consultant and a contributing writer for many online journals. He's a former associate professor of Nordland University, Norway. Contact him at Bakhtiarspaceemail@example.com.
By Khalid Amayreh
Jan 2, 2007, 15:21
In 2006, the Palestinian diplomacy failed, almost completely, in achieving its central goals.
These include, first, expediting the process of ending the Israeli military occupation that began in 1967; second, lifting the draconian siege imposed by Israel, the US, and EU, in connivance with certain Arab regimes, for the purpose of punishing the Palestinian people for electing Hamas; and, third, exposing Israeli brutality and criminality against our people.
In the past year, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas visited many capitals, including Washington D.C. , and received in Ramallah scores of foreign leaders and diplomats.
However, these high-profile meetings and encounters yielded next to nothing in terms of positive tangible outcome, apart from the usual pleasantries and public relations trappings.
Indeed, a meticulous review of Abbas’s meetings with foreign leaders in 2006 (2005 was no different) shows that the Palestinian leadership failed utterly in communicating the messages that ought to have been communicated to these foreign visitors.
For example, Abbas made little or no efforts to tell the world community that it was unfair and unwise to punish ordinary Palestinians because of Hamas’s refusal to recognize Israel and that it was illogical to demand that Hamas recognize Israel without demanding a reciprocal Israeli recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state on the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
He also equally utterly failed to effectively and clearly convey the message that the election of Hamas in January 2006 didn’t really imply that a majority of Palestinians were against peace with Israel or dedicated to the destruction of the apartheid state as Israeli hasbara has been successfully trying to convince the international community.
Indeed, Abbas’s statements and remarks in the presence of foreign visitors often suggested that he more or less agreed that the Palestinian people erred, to put it mildly, by electing Hamas, and had to incur the consequences.
Furthermore, the PA leadership in 2006 was guilty of indulgence in seeking to appease and please the West, especially the United States , by creating the impression that the PA, especially Fatah, was joining the American-inspired “coalition of the moderates,” which includes pro-American regimes in the Middle East against the anti-Israeli coalition, which includes Hamas, Hizbullah , Syria and Iran .
Well, this impression is false and deceptive because Palestine and the Palestinians are occupied and tormented by Israel whose occupation of our land is supported, sustained and guarded by the United States , not by Iran or Hizbullah or Syria .
More to the point, we must take note of the fact that these artificial and disingenuous classifications (the coalitions of moderates and extremists) are being utilized by the bankrupt Bush administration in order to redefine the essence of the Palestinian cause, from an enduring criminal and racist occupation of Palestine and systematic repression of its people to a mere psychological problem of moderates and extremists. This is how the Bush administration, in coordination with some Zionist circles, such as the so-called Peres Peace Center , has come to understand the conflict in this region.
That is why they are always trying to get Palestinian soccer players (usually the young boys and girls uncorrupted by extremist thinking!!) to play Israeli counterparts or play with them in one team against a foreign soccer team, as happened recently in Spain . Well, they are trying to spread the message that the problem is not the rape of Palestine by the Jews, the expulsion of millions of Palestinians from their ancestral homeland, but merely a psychological problem and some unresolved psychological complexes.
Having effectively joined the “axis of moderates” (which actually is an axis of liars), Abbas may have hoped that this false perceived proximity vis-à-vis the Americans would have placed him in a better position to extract Palestinian rights from Israel ’s criminal hands.
But this view is short sighted if not outright naïve. This almost messianic American administration, which believes that the invasion, occupation and destruction of Iraq, was inspired by God, will not award or reward Abbas for being moderate (in the American lexicon “moderate” means coming to terms with the Israeli occupation and giving up Jerusalem as well as the right of return and much of the West Bank).
This is clear from the quality of the award the Bush Administration is already giving the PA.
Indeed, instead of ordering Israel to stop building racist Jewish-only colonies and put an end to the policy of narrowing Palestinians’ horizons, George Bush has decided to give us weapons and millions of bullets to kill each other. More to the point, the fact that the delivery of these weapons has been supported by the likes of Avigdor Lieberman and right-wing Jewish extremists in the US speaks volumes in itself.
This is the same Bush that once described Ariel Sharon (we know well who Sharon is) as a man of peace and awarded his artificial withdrawal from Gaza by bestowing legitimacy to scores of Jewish colonies in the West Bank .
Our leadership must realize that the Palestinian people are not an Eidul Adha ram, to be fed today in order to be slaughtered tomorrow.
It is lamentable that PA spokesmen, from Abbas downward, are scandalously failing to get the right messages through to the world.
For these reasons, in 2007, we must seek to rethink our performance with regard to media tactics and public diplomacy and do away with the often jumbled and confused public discourse. And in order to do that, we must concentrate on the following messages.
First, that the Israeli occupation is an act of rape and that it is the mother of all problems in the Middle East and beyond, and that there can be no peace or stability between Islam and the West, let alone between Israel and the Muslim world, as long as the Israeli occupation persists and the Palestinian people are denied their rights, including the right to have a viable and sovereign state with East Jerusalem as its capital as well the repatriation of Palestinian refugees to their original hometowns and villages in what is now Israel.
Second, that Hamas is an authentic societal force that can’t be marginalized let alone eradicated and that it is futile and unrealistic to starve and torment the Palestinian people in order to weaken Hamas.
Third, that the Palestinian people will not be cajoled or bullied into accepting a deformed state, one with a form but without a substance.
Furthermore, the PA should stop talking about Hamas in the presence of foreign, especially American visitors since this would give the impression that the real problem lies in the existence of Hamas, not in the reality of the Israeli colonization and occupation of our homeland.
More to the point, the PA should really tell the international community that the PA itself is under the Israeli occupation and that the Israeli occupation of Palestine is still as sinister and as direct as it was prior to the conclusion of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
Indeed, giving the false impression of Palestinian statehood, by employing such bombastic but mendacious phrases as Palestinian “sovereignty” and Palestinian “government” and Palestinian “security forces,” is really self-defeating and very very harmful to Palestinian aspirations for real freedom and real statehood. After all, real freedom can only be attained following a real delivery from this Nazi-like occupation of our country.
Finally, it is sad that the PA continues to employ poorly qualified or unqualified spokespersons with inadequate political and linguistic abilities to communicate the Palestinian view point to the outside world. We need professional spokespersons with excellent knowledge of the world and mastery of foreign languages, especially English, to tell the world in straightforward manner that Israel is a murderer, liar and land thief and that the problem lies squarely in the Zionist theft of our land and savagery of our people.
© Copyright 2003 by palestine-info.co.uk email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Likud chairman finds positive aspects in economic cuts in child pensions during his tenure as finance minister: Birth rate in non-Jewish sector dropped, more ultra-Orthodox people joined workforce
Opposition Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to rehabilitate his relations with the ultra-Orthodox sector. Speaking at a convention of the ultra-Orthodox local authorities held in Gush Etzion on Tuesday evening, Likud Chairman Netanyahu explained his economic moves during his tenure as finance minister which caused harm to the ultra-Orthodox public, particularly regarding child pensions.
In his speech, Netanyahu referred to the cuts in child pensions, saying that since they were implemented "two positive things happened: Members of the haredi public seriously joined the workforce. And on the national level, the unexpected result was the demographic effect on the non-Jewish public, where there was a dramatic drop in the birth rate."
After the government's cuts, Netanyahu suggested recruiting other financing elements in order to assist families with a large number of children, for instance the Jewish Agency and donations from abroad.
"I don’t think that the Jewish Agency should refrain from helping part of the Jewish public in the State, and it is possible that additional non-governmental bodies could have done so.
"I would look for ways to help families blessed with children, which have at least one breadwinner," he said.
The former finance minister had another proposal: Negative income tax for a person who is working and was blessed with children.
'Erroneous strategy'Netanyahu exerted a lot of efforts in explaining to the conference attendees the moves which led him to cut child pensions.
"We had to do a terrible and difficult thing. We had to implement drastic cuts in expenses. The ultra-Orthodox public suffered, and I am aware of how difficult it was. I know that it's not easy to take from a family with eight or 10 children, but in this case there was simply no choice, because when a crash comes, it come very fast."
Beitar Illit Mayor Yitzhak Pindrus said, "There is no doubt that Netanyahu tried to explain that the cuts in the pensions came as a result of the economic situation. It is clear to me that if he eventually builds a government in the future with United Torah Judaism and Shas as partners, he will talk differently."
Arye Zisman, the political correspondent of the Yated Ne'eman newspaper, refused to be impressed by Netanyahu's remarks, saying that "Bibi is now attempting to set the ultra-orthodox public against the Arabs. This is a foolish attempt.
"The ultra-Orthodox public suffered financially from the cuts in the pensions and is not convinced by remarks about the birth rate among the Arabs. He took an erroneous strategy."
WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. soldiers are losing confidence in the way President George W. Bush is running the Iraq war.
According to a new poll conducted by the Military Times newspapers, "For the first time, more troops disapprove of the president's handling of the war than approve of it," the Army Times reported Dec. 29.
"Barely one-third of service members approve of the way the president is handling the war," the newspaper said.
The findings of the poll, which was conducted by a mail survey from Nov. 13 through Nov. 22, marked a significant fall in the president's popularity and credibility with members of the U.S. armed forces, who had previously been among his staunchest supporters. In a previous Military Times poll two years ago, 83 percent of poll expected victory in Iraq. "This year, that number has shrunk to 50 percent," the Army Times said.
"Only 35 percent of the military members polled this year said they approve of the way President Bush is handling the war, while 42 percent said they disapproved," the newspaper said. This marked a dramatic decline from the 63 percent who approved of his conduct of the war in the 2004 poll.
The paper noted that contrary to widely held assumptions, the president's popularity among the U.S. armed forces is now "only slightly higher than for the population as a whole."
The poll was the fourth to be conducted among active duty military subscribers to the Military Times newspapers. "The results should not be read as representative of the military as a whole," the Army Times said. "The survey's respondents are on average older, more experienced, more likely to be officers and more career-oriented than the overall military population."
Wednesday January 3, 2007
On Saturday, newspaper readers awoke to headlines heralding Saddam Hussein's execution. Stories reported that while the execution provided Iraqis some closure, Saddam's hanging was not expected to quiet the sectarian civil war and violence unleashed by the American invasion in 2003.
Good riddance to the blood-soaked tyrant. Too bad that what we've created might be worse than Saddam himself.
Rising to regional significance on the back of oil profits, Saddam initially set about building a westernized - if not abjectly authoritarian - sectarian Arab state. But deluded by visions of a greater Iraq and fueled by weaponry fronted by America, Saddam instead squandered his peoples' resources, launching Iraq into years of devastating wars - first with Iran, partially as an American proxy, and later with Kuwait.
Yet even amid these disastrous wars, Iraq remained the rare Arab country where women had rights to practice professions, drive cars, wear Western clothes, and where 1.2 million Christians felt free to worship.
Iraq's big downside? Saddam's Iraq was a belligerent nation. And challenging Saddam was a sure death sentence for any Iraqi. Saddam's conviction for genocide was fair justice. But that the U.S. partially outfitted Saddam's aggression isn't completely secondary to the story. U.S. handprints were all over Saddam, nearly from the start.
With Saddam now executed and gone, a world longing for peace has one bloody tyrant down - with two warmongers to go.
I'm not suggesting we stage a Iraq-style kangaroo court and hang George Bush and Dick Cheney in front of taunting crowds at the gallows, with cell phone cameras recording the botched proceedings. Rather, impeachment is the appropriate process for the trial of their offenses.
Equal to Saddam, Bush and Cheney are part and parcel of the crime of the Iraq war and the mass killing and destruction committed therein.
Without Bush and Cheney, we would have no Iraq war. Had the Supreme Court given Al Gore the nod in 2000, we'd still be suffering boring international weapons inspectors peacefully keeping Iraq in check. Jets would still routinely fly routes along "no-fly zones," pinning Saddam within his borders. And instead of the $500 billion Bush has squandered, President Gore would be spending peanuts in Iraq.
But America is an attention-deficit nation, and peace doesn't drive presidential popularity like action-packed war. So in our anger from Sept. 11, you and I granted Bush permission to launch an unprovoked war against a country innocent of Sept. 11 complicity. And our tough-talking president's ratings indeed did soar as our deficit-funded bombs plummeted and pummeled the peoples of Iraq.
Most of what goes up eventually does come down, and the true facts surrounding the war have finally crashed down on Bush. Like bombs in Iraq, the facts have buried Bush in their wake. Bush staggers clueless amidst his war's ruin, unable to shove the genie of violence unleashed back into its bottle.
However, with Saddam's execution, the world now has a singular opportunity to bring acceptable closure to Iraq's and America's shared nightmare. Saddam's execution was the first leg kicked out from under a mistaken war. Impeachment of Bush and Cheney would kick out the other two complicit legs, as well.
Saddam was convicted of genocide. For their part, Bush and Cheney should be made to stand trial in for lying to the American people, for provoking the needless deaths of 3,000 American soldiers, and for conducting and unleashing the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis.
Considered in the best light, America was led to war by an incompetent president advised by incompetent advisors, leading to 600,000 lives lost, $500 billion wasted, and a ruinous civil war. This alone seems practical cause for removal from office.
More realistically, George Bush crafted a politically motivated war, stitching together obscure lies to add the appearance of "truthiness" to the sales job. Bush-Cheney tricked us into war.
"The smoking gun is a mushroom cloud." "Uranium from Africa." "Mobile weapons labs." "Shock and awe." "Mission accomplished." "The insurgents are in their last throws." "Bring 'em on." "As the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down." "Stay the course."
National headlines no longer read of shock and awe and glorious victory over evildoers. This New Year's Day, we reached the tragic milestone of our 3,000th soldier lost. Nearly 25,000 others have sustained serious injuries. Iraq itself loses upward of 100 civilians per day - courtesy of George Bush blasting open Iraq's Pandora's box of sectarian strife and warfare. In Bush's new "free" Iraq, every Iraqi risks slaughter and mayhem. Fear of death and torture is no longer limited to Saddam's old enemies.
The Signal recently ran the story, "President Bush worked nearly three hours at his Texas ranch on Thursday to design a new U.S. policy in Iraq, then emerged to say that he and his advisers need more time to craft the plan he'll announce in the new year."
Three hours. Republican Sen. Ron Wyden suggested Bush might be guilty of criminal negligence.
Other recent news lines haven't been nearly as ironic: "Baghdad Reels After String of Bombings - death toll in Shiite area is 152." "Youths Playing Ball Killed in Baghdad - eight are slain on soccer field." "Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Gage, 28, Modesto, killed by bomb in Iraq." "Army Spc. Matthew Creed, 23, Covina, shot to death by sniper in Iraq." And another 25 soldiers from across America also were listed as killed in that one week alone.
American soldiers die in Iraq at the rate of one every seven hours. And Bush gives the problem three hours thought.
The world will not be a settled place until America disposes of its warmonger leaders. Anything less than impeachment will send the world the continuing message that America is more interested in empire than in justice and democracy.
With warmongers Bush and Cheney removed and new and honest leadership in place, we can again work within the community of nations to bring peace to the region we've single-handedly set ablaze.
Gary Horton lives in Valencia. His column reflects his own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal.Copyright:The Signal
Long live the freedom and democracy of the puppets government in the “Green Zone”
Alsharqyia Chief manager is Sa’ad AlBazaz, he is also chief editor of Azzaman Iraqi newspaper based in London, Bazaz is a journalist, historian and author.
The reason that the puppets government shut down alsharqyia is:
The only Iraqi station who refers to all foreign military forces in Iraq as “the occupation Forces” in their news [Al-Zawra’a also].
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
by Sarah Meyer
Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble. Witches in Macbeth, Shakespeare
The United States has had an unsuccessful love affair with ‘Regime Change.’ Regime change for Cuba has been on the menu for over 40 years. One can be sure that present back-stage machinations for imminent regime change, following the death of Castro, are in rehearsal. Oil rich Venezuela has been added to the roll call. Will other blossoming socialist countries in Latin America be added to this “communist” regime-change list?
Following 9/11, the United States intentionally started upsetting the Middle East by initiating a war in Afghanistan. The 'War of Terror' is about protecting oil and Israel. Bush and Co. found their 'heroic' war feet. Bush passionately vowed to ‘get’ Osama bin Laden. But getting Saddam (Iraq) was more important for the neo-conservatives. ‘Democracy and Freedom’ remain the main media message to a mostly uninformed American public.
What about the present cauldron in Palestine? And Lebanon? Iran? And Syria?
Even Fox News is now using the US-created infernos as a positive PR point. I hope this story disgusts the reader as much as it does me. Odds Bush incorporates this ‘good’ news into his ‘new’ strategy? ‘But gee, folks, look what we have achieved to protect our interests and secure our future. … just a few hundred thousand more dead and we will have success.’
The US has encouraged ‘regime change’ within NATO, with propaganda that this is now a ‘global’ force when in fact it is a US-controlled force. The US also wants a US-controlled UN.
How much is Israel in collusion with the american regime-change programme? There is zero US govt./media info about Iran's oil and euro programme or indeed Israel's nuclear weapons. Can we have some chat about these problems now? To add a ‘fenny snake’ to the Middle East witches brew, a recent article said that foreign policy think tanks are brainstorming ways to stabilize (sic) the Middle East – they want Israel to be admitted into NATO. Clever? Wow! Another nail in the Middle East (bar Israel) coffin. Now Israel is lobbying for this to happen. So it will?
The UK was also cultivating regime change/civil war with neo-con plans in Iraq. Hopefully, Tony Blair, whose hubris disallows failure, will bring about his own announced regime change soon.
If the US cannot control the world’s resources they want through war or murder, then there is always blackmail. Here are two examples of that blackmail:
• US accused of using aid to sway votes in UN security council
• U.S. pursues financial strategy against regimes it can't otherwise corral
26.12.06. A. Gearan, AP . Sign On San Diego
Now Bush and Co. are looking for a ‘new’ strategy - never having had (except for Bremer's poisonous imperial laws) a strategy to begin with. Perhaps the 'new' strategy will be to remove their Iraqi / Afghan puppets? For now, the 9/11 US mantra, ‘security,’ has been redrawn from the hat. But. With a twist. Osama and al Qaeda have been relegated to a corner.
|“The extremists, the radicals would have safe haven from which to launch further attacks. They would be emboldened," Bush said following the almost three-hour meeting. "They would be in a position to threaten the United States of America."|
Will this new definition of ‘terrorist’ soon include any citizen who disagrees with US policy? Will the public soon be threatened with martial law? Will they (we) be thrown into the new Halliburton prisons?
There are many countries in the world who now need protection against the intentional brewing (US) civil wars / regime changes. What is needed is for a ‘Great Birnam Wood’ to come to Dunsinane. For the country most needing the oft-mentioned ‘turning point’ is the United States. The removal of the present US administration would do more to stabilise our world than any neo-con dead-end brain-storm.
Does anyone remember the happier Peace-Corps-America days? Will anyone remember for a lifetime where they were when Junior Bush dies? Both the present US / UK regimes will leave a disaster wake that will cause future tsunamis for a long time. The US has infected the whole world in their moral morass. It is difficult to find compassion for those who regard morality with sarcasm and contempt.
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.
1. Strategic Imperatives: Reports & Documents; Articles; Media
2. Military Contracts
3. NATO, General
4. NATO: participating countries Countries (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, UK)
5. Aid and Reconstruction
7. Human Rights, War Crimes: Documents / Reports; Articles; Case Studies
8. Some of the Dead in Afghanistan: ‘regrets’ are not enough.
Please also see other source material:
• Index on Afganistan to end 08.06.
• Nato: The Bathtub of Unreadiness
• Afghanistan: NATO is now US-ATO
• Index on Afghanistan September 2006
• Index on Afghanistan October 2006
• Index on Afghanistan November 2006
I would be grateful, if you use any sources from Index on Afghanistan, if you give credit to Index Research. Thank you, Sarah
Coming and Going
Stephen A. Cambone to Resign
01.12.06. US DoD. Cambone was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the under secretary of defense for intelligence on March 7, 2003. Prior to March 7, he was the director, program analysis and evaluation, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Cambone held that position from July 1, 2002. On July 19, 2001, he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy. He held that position until July 1, 2002. Prior to that, he served as the special assistant to the secretary and deputy secretary of defense from January 2001 to July 2001. (No mention is made of his war crimes trial in Germany)
Top General in Mideast to Retire
20.12.06. LA Times / Truth Out. Army Gen. John P. Abizaid, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, has submitted plans to retire and will leave his post in March
New NATO commander raises questions
08.12.06. RADIO NETHERLANDS. Human rights groups have expressed concern over the appointment of NATO's new military chief who was sworn in at the Alliance's military headquarters in Belgium on Thursday. General Bantz John Craddock, who is taking over from General James Jones as Supreme Commander of all NATO forces, has a long and glittering military career. But there is one major stain on his otherwise impeccable military record - Guantanamo Bay. (NB: google earlier index research articles about this appalling appointment)
Air war costs NATO Afghan supporters
18.12.06. R. Morarjee, Christian Science Monitor. At a large gathering with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in this southern city last Tuesday, Abdul Ghafar sat among hundreds in the audience, clutching a piece of paper. On it were the names of 20 members of his family killed two months ago in a NATO airstrike.
Afghan District Makes Own Deal With the Taliban
02.12.06. C. Gall/ A.W. Wafa, NY Times.
Afghanistan: A job half done
04.12.06. L. Doucet, BBC.
(Oops. Apologies. I inadvertently deleted files between 04 and 18 December.)
Afghanistan: Bush’s Other War
18.12.06. P. Gasper, Monthly Review. Just as in Iraq, Washington promised that the invasion would bring about liberation for the local population -- particularly women, who had suffered severe oppression under the Taliban -- democracy, respect for human rights, stability, and prosperity. Now, more than five years later, it is easy to see just how hollow those promises were.
Dark Days Ahead for Kabul
20.12.06. S. Tisdall, Guardian.
Pentagon wants $99.7 billion more for Iraq, Afghanistan
20.12.06. A. Taylor, AP / Dailynews.
Soldier accused of passing secrets – papers
21.12.06. Peterborough Now.
Afghanistan Experiences Worst Year Since Taliban Ousted
21.12.06. Playfuls.com. Over 3,900 people, including over 1,000 civilians, were killed in the militancy in 2006, four times the death toll of 2005.
Pakistan to mine and fence Afghan border
26.12.06. Financial Times
Afghan landmines won't deter militants
29.12.06. Professor J. Trevelyan, Letter to the Guardian
2006: year of bloodshed in Afghanistan
26.12.06. Hindustan Times. The year 2006 witnessed the killing of over 3900 people, representing a four-fold increase over the 1000 deaths last year. / Those killed included about 1000 civilians. More than 115 suicide attacks accounted for 270 Afghan civilians and 17 international soldiers killed. 180 NATO soldiers have been killed in action against the Taliban, this year.
Taliban will never accept defeat, says Mullah Omar
29.12.06. Asian Age.
AP Interview: 'Higher levels of fighting' coming in Afghanistan, top US general says
30.12.06. AP / IHT.
Rights official presses for Afghan war crimes prosecutions after Saddam hanging
30.12.06. The Jurist.
US presence in Afghanistan source of instability
When will British troops come home?
31.12.06. R. Whittaker, Independent. ‘What are our troops doing in Afghanistan and Iraq? Are they fighting a "war on terror"?’
US will be defeated in Afghanistan: Former CIA hand
Video. Never Mind the Taliban. 01.12.06, Channel 4. 25 min.
French Troops Had Bin Laden in Sight
19.12.06. A (French) documentary says French special forces had Osama bin Laden in their sights about three years ago but their US superiors never ordered them to fire.
NYT Reporter: I was assaulted by ‘Pakistani’ Agents
26.12.06. blogs ABC news.
Canada pulled reporters from Afghanistan after Aust complaints
31.12.06. ABC. ‘According to the documents, several of Canada's allies had complained the country's policy on embedded journalists was too liberal.’
|PERSONAL NOTE FROM SARAH MEYER. Nevermind CNN, Fox, BBC, Channel 4, Sky. If you want to watch real news, no celebrities, read Al Jazeera English. There is also a link to watch it live. Superb discussions and analysis. It is shocking that most americans are unable to see this programme. One has to assume this is not only because of cowardly sponsors but also American governmental fear of 'foreign' reality seeping into educated awareness. The 'new' Bush strategy should add Jazeera to the networks to counterbalance the obvious Pentagon psychobabble.|
Computer contractor lands major NATO deal
02.12.06. Orlando Sentinel. Science Applications International Corp., long a prominent computer-systems contractor for the U.S. government, has landed its first major deal with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the company said this week. … $95 million contract.AL
Bush loses another ally as UN ambassador Bolton resigns in face of Senate hostility
05.12.06. J. Borger, Guardian. The White House yesterday bowed to Senate opposition and gave up its attempt to keep its controversial ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, in his job - the latest sign of President George Bush's diminishing authority. Mr Bush issued a statement denouncing the senators, including a Republican moderate, who had blocked Mr Bolton's confirmation process in the chamber's foreign affairs committee.
U.S. report says Afghan police unfit for duty
U.K. Spending on War in Iraq, Afghanistan Rises to $16 Bln
Bush has created a comprehensive catastrophe across the Middle East
14.12.06. T. Garton Ash, Guardian. In every vital area, from Afghanistan to Egypt, his policies have made the situation worse than it was before
Pentagon eyes $468.9 bln budget for fiscal 2008
15.12.06. Reuters / Washington Post. The Pentagon is likely to ask for an additional $100 billion to fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars early next year.
Contractors Lost in Pentagon Bureaucracy
19.12.06. SFGate. The Pentagon is still struggling to get a handle on the unprecedented number of contractors now helping run the nation's wars, losing millions of dollars because it is unable to monitor industry workers stationed in far-flung locations,
Dutch Arms Exports Reach Record 1.2 Billion Euros In 2005
Debating "War and Peace" behind Closed Doors: NATO's Riga Security Conference
26.11.06. M. Chossudovsky, globalresearch.ca. ‘Although Israel will not be represented at the Summit, NATO has developed in the last two years a close working relationship with Tel Aviv, which in practical terms provides Israel with a "de facto associate membership" within the Atlantic Alliance. The NATO Riga Summit will launch NATO's Rome based training program for its Mediterranean partner countries and members of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI). The latter includes a number of Arab countries as well as Israel.(see map below.)’
US Troops Will Be Forced Out of Afghanistan Like the Soviets
12.12.06. Hekmatyar speaks. Iran daily.
Troops face risk of failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, say MPs
13.12.06. R. Norton-Taylor, Guardian. British troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are too thin on the ground, do not have the equipment they need and there is a significant risk they will fail in their mission, a cross-party committee of MPs warns today.
Sharp NATO conflicts over Afghanistan
13.12.06. P. Swartz, Guardian (Australia). The NATO summit, which took place in the Latvian capital of Riga in the early days of December was marked by bitter divisions between the US on the one side and France, Germany, Italy and Spain on the other.
NATO troops struggle to find “Taliban” fighters
27.12.06. Video. CTV.
NATO Launches New Offensive In Afghanistan
15.12.06. CFRA. ‘It's being billed as a show of unity and strength. Operation Falcon's Summit is about to begin in Afghanistan. NATO says the major offensive against the Taliban will focus on the war-torn Panjwaii district of Kandahar province.’
NATO Proposed As Security Move
18.12.06. Mediafax. Growing instability across the Middle East has prompted foreign policy think tanks to brainstorm ways to stabilize that region. One idea circulating in Washington last week called for admitting Israel into NATO, The Washington Times reported Monday.
NATO military leader says force in Afghanistan is 2,500 troops short
21.12.06. T. Shanker, IHT.
Mullah Omar Pledges to Expel NATO
France, Germany, Italy, UK)
No more troops for Afghanistan, says Belgian minister
27.12.06. Pak Tribune.
Ignatieff wants young Canadians to go to Afghanistan to support democracy
Ignatieff “has argued that western democracies may have to resort to "lesser evils" like indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, and pre-emptive wars in order to combat the greater evil of terrorism. He states that as a result, societies should strengthen their democratic institutions to keep these necessary evils from becoming as offensive to freedom and democracy as the threats they are meant to prevent. In the context of this "lesser evil" analysis, Ignatieff discusses whether liberal democracies should employ coercive interrogation and torture.”
Canada doesn’t see safer Afghanistan in next year
21.12.06. Yahoo. ‘Parliament backed a motion from Harper in May to keep Canadian troops in the country at least until February 2009 but he is under pressure now from the opposition either to pull out or to put less emphasis on war and more on aid.’
Canadian efforts in Afghanistan shift into reconstruction mode
29.12.06. Pak Tribune.
Afghan Torture Allegations Upset Denmark
France to withdraw 200 special forces from Afghanistan
17.12.06. AP / IHT.
France to allow troop redeployment in Afghanistan
18.12.06. Reuters. France, which is pulling its special forces soldiers out of Afghanistan, said on Monday it would temporarily redeploy its remaining troops anywhere in the country for emergencies.
Germany sends 100 more armored vehicles to troops in Afghanistan
13.12.06. English People.
Germany to deploy reconnaissance aircraft in Afghanistan
21.12.06. English People.
Why Germans Won’t Fight
PRODI: CONTINUE AFGHANISTAN MISSION
SASSARI BRIGADE: PARISI, IN FEBRUARY WILL GO TO AFGHANISTAN
Morale of Royal Marines serving in Afghanistan plummets
30.11.06. Zee news. ‘The morale of British Royal Marines serving on the front line in Afghanistan has plummeted after a 3,000 pounds allowance was deducted from their wages, following a "dreadful blunder" by Royal Navy administrators. ‘
Troops under investigation for Kandahar shooting spree
09.12.06. D. Walsh, Guardian. British military authorities are investigating allegations that Royal Marines shot indiscriminately on Afghan bystanders following a suicide bombing last weekend. At least two people died and five were wounded by shots fired from a supply convoy that raced through Kandahar after coming under attack. … The British convoy pressed towards the city centre. At the busy Martyrs Square junction Abdul Rahim stopped his motorcycle to let it pass. More gunfire rang out, sparking panic. Bystanders dived into shops for cover, he said. Abdul Rahim tried to push his motorcycle back but it was too late. The first bullet passed through his upper back. The second pierced his side and lodged near his spinal cord. Grimacing with pain, the 35-year-old spoke softly from his bed at Kandahar hospital. "The British say they came to bring peace to our country. What kind of peace is this?" he said.
Not enough troops for training excercises
29.12.06. Graeme Wilson, Telegraph. ‘The Army has been forced to cancel more than 60 training exercises in the past year amid growing concern that the armed forces are being stretched to breaking point by deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.’
Taken from The We
Iran to aid Afghanistan on judicial grounds
Poor families in Afghanistan get $8.5M in Canadian funding
Italy pledges $9 m aid to Afghanistan
24.12.06. Pak Tribune.
Afghanistan's forgotten drought
25.12.06. CNN. While the eyes of the world are focused on the international military coalition's continuing struggle with the Taliban, Afghan children are dying because of a little reported drought which has hit huge areas of the country. The U.N. says 1.9 million people are at risk because of the drought and along with the Afghan government has appealed for $76 million for food aid.
Governor of Afghanistan's biggest opium-producing province replaced; 5 killed in violence
Surge in overdoses blamed on powerful Afghan heroin
26.12.05. Yahoo / resist.com. A steep rise in drug overdose deaths in Los Angeles is being blamed on an influx of highly potent heroin from Afghanistan.
Afghan heroin supply on rise across America
27.12.06. G. Therolf, LA Times
Doubts grow as sprayers target Afghan poppies
31.12.06. Michael Smith, Times on Line.
Detainee Abuse and Accountability Project (DAA)
April 2006. Human Rights Watch Report. The DAA Project has to date documented at least 330 cases in which U.S. military and civilian personnel are alleged to have abused detainees, ranging from beatings and assaults, to torture, sexual abuse, and homicide. Among the cases:
At least 600 U.S. personnel are implicated (numerous cases involve more than one perpetrator). Military personnel comprise over 95 percent of those implicated (at least 570 people), and at least ten CIA or other intelligence personnel are implicated, and approximately twenty civilian contractors working for either the military or the CIA.
At least 460 detainees have been subjected to abuse, including people held in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at Guantánamo Bay.
The majority of the approximately 330 cases took place in Iraq (at least 220 cases), followed by Afghanistan (at least sixty cases), and Guantánamo Bay (at least fifty cases).
U.N. adopts treaty banning countries from secretly abducting perceived enemies
21.12.06. Reuters / LA Times. ‘The General Assembly adopted a treaty Wednesday that would ban nations from abducting perceived enemies and hiding them in secret prisons or killing them.
The United Nations received reports of about 535 disappearances last year, many of them in Colombia, Nepal and the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya.
The treaty has been under negotiation since 1992. The measure was approved by consensus and will come into force 30 days after 20 countries ratify it.’
Bush guilty of `high crimes' in terror war - former UK judge
30.11.06. irna. US President George Bush is guilty of "high crimes under international law" in the war on terror, says one of Britain's most eminent judges. Former law lord Steyn also accused Prime Minister Tony Blair of complicity in war crimes, saying Blair backed Bush "however lawless and outrageous the means adopted." In a speech to the UK Bar Council, the representative body for barristers, Steyn cited the creation of the US Guantanamo prison camp, secret CIA prison camps, CIA `extaordinary rendition' flights of prisoners, and the invasion of Iraq as examples of the Bush administration's crimes.
Denmark accused of handing over Afghan prisoners to US
02.12.06. International News. ‘Danish opposition parties on Friday accused their country’s defence ministry of handing over prisoners in Afghanistan to United States forces who allegedly later abused them.
“The army took prisoners and handed them over to the Americans. Already at this point the Americans had been accused of treating prisoners badly,” the opposition Unity Party said in a statement.’
26 Afghans released from U.S. military prison in Afghanistan
US releases 17 more Guantanamo detainees
The Jurist. Seven of the newly-freed detainees have been transferred to Afghanistan.
Repeat Iraq Tours Raise Risk of PTSD, Army Finds
20.12.06. Washington Post. U.S. soldiers serving repeated Iraq deployments are 50 percent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress, raising their risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Army's first survey exploring how today's multiple war-zone rotations affect soldiers' mental health.
More than 650,000 soldiers have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001 -- including more than 170,000 now in the Army who have served multiple tours -- so the survey's finding of increased risk from repeated exposure to combat has potentially widespread implications for the all-volunteer force. Earlier Army studies have shown that up to 30 percent of troops deployed to Iraq suffer from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with the latter accounting for about 10 percent
46 Guantanamo Suspects OK'd for Transfer
23.12.06. SF Gate.
In Search of a Criminal: Donald Rumsfeld’s Name Tops the List of Accused of War Crimes
-25.12.06. A. Garamfalvi, Legal Times.
U.S. troops kill Afghan officer; NATO investigates incident
03.12.06. AP, contra costa times. An American troop convoy fired on Afghan policemen in waning daylight in eastern Afghanistan, killing one officer and wounding another, officials said Saturday. A NATO spokesman said a policeman in civilian clothes touched off the incident Friday evening by firing at the convoy, but an Afghan district police chief said no officers shot their weapons.
2 Americans, 5 Afghans killed as bomber hits security contractors
06.12.06. sandiego.com. The bomber struck as the victims exited the Kandahar offices of the Houston-based U.S. Protection and Investigations security company, said Rohullah Khan, a company official. Three other people were wounded, he said.
U.S. Deaths in Afghanistan, Pakistan
08.12.06. AP, Forbes. As of Friday, Dec. 8, 2006, at least 295 members of the U.S. military have died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department. … There was also one military civilian death and four CIA officer deaths.
Four civilians killed in NATO air-strike in Afghanistan
11.12.06. The news. The civilians were killed during a "mid-scale" operation launched this week against militants in Laghman province just east of Kabul, local police chief, Abdul Karim Omeryar said.
Afghan president weeps for dead civilians
10.12.06. AP/IHT. 'This nation and this country doesn't have the power to rescue itself. Neither can we tell the terrorists not to come from Pakistan, nor can we tell the coalition forces not to kill our children in the fight against terrorism,' Karzai said, adding in a breaking voice and with tears in his eyes, 'the oppression has gone beyond its limit.' Nearly 4,000 people have died in Afghanistan this year due to the insurgency and anti-terrorist operations, including over a thousand civilians.
NATO slashes Taliban death toll
Courier Mail. The real toll was “seven or eight,” ISAF said. (Who were the other dead ‘Taliban’?)
Afghan child killed by NATO soldier
AFGHANISTAN: Kandahar residents support UN call for NATO to do more to avoid civilian casualties
"65 Taliban insurgents" killed in Kandahar
21.12.06. Gulf Times. "Fifteen Taliban insurgents," including two high-ranking commanders, were killed in occupied Afghan province of Kandahar, while Nato occupation forces claimed killing around 50 more suspected Taliban during an operation started earlier this week in the same province.
Afghan civilian killed by NATO soldiers
27.12.06. Belfast telegraph. The Afghan was at least the eighth civilian to be killed since November 15 by gunfire from Nato soldiers on public roads.
Maryland Reservist killed by police after refusing deployment to Iraq
30.12.06. WSWS. A 29-year-old ex-soldier who had served 12 months in Afghanistan, upset over orders to deploy to Iraq, was shot to death December 26 after a night-long standoff at a house in Maryland. James E. Dean was notified earlier this month to report to Fort Benning, Georgia, on January 14, 2007, for service in Iraq.
Afghans protest killings by US-led troops
31.12.06. Gulf News.
Democracy, a Death Sentence for Afghanistan
29.11.06. D. Spingola, Peoples Voice. This is a book every American must read – Afghanistan After Democracy. … The benefactors of the illegal and immoral invasion of Afghanistan, which began October 7, 2001, were administration-friendly, multi-national corporations and oil. The initial recipients of the blood money were the weapons manufacturers. After destroying the infrastructure, “more than 70 American companies and individuals have won up to $8 billion in contracts for work in postwar Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two years, according to a new study by the Center for Public Integrity. Those companies donated more money to the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush—a little over $500,000—than to any other politician over the last dozen years, the Center found.” (October 30, 2003)  it depicts, through pictures, the horrific results of the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan. The author of the book, Dr. Mohammed Daud Miraki left Afghanistan, his homeland, in 1982 with what was left of his family. More than a dozen of his family members perished during the Russian onslaught which ultimately left more than 1.5 million Afghan civilians dead. The Russians retreated in 1989 and twelve years later the United States invaded. … During the International Criminal Tribunal (essential reading) Bush’s criminal use of genocidal and omnicidal radioactive Depleted Uranium weapons in Afghanistan was addressed. “Professor Albrecht Schott, Scientist, World Depleted Uranium Centre, Berlin in an address titled ‘Consequences of the Military and Civil Use of Depleted Uranium (DU)’, at the public symposium on 'American Policy and its Consequences', has described Depleted Uranium as ‘A Weapon Against This Planet.’ Prosecution Document E-130; this leads logically to the word ‘Omnicide’ used by witness Leuren Moret, among other scientists while describing the effect of this weapon system; as going beyond the ‘silent genocide’ it has inflicted on the Afghan and Iraqi people.” 
Scott Ritter, Target Iran, Nation Books, September 2006.
Photos and commentary on Afghanistan at 'The We"
“the oppression has gone beyond its limit." Karzai, 12.12.06.
Bring out the nails because, drunk with delusions of grandeur and self-adulation, the Empire seekers made a bad choice in Afghanistan as the launching pad of their dream by ignoring the warning of Sir Olaf Caroe, the last British governor of North West Frontier Province of bordering Pakistan, who said: “Unlike other wars, Afghan wars become serious only when they are over.” Jason Miller, Thomas Paine’s Corner, Bring Out The Nails.
The url to Afghanistan December 2006 is: http://indexresearch.blogspot.com/2007/01/index-on-afghanistan-december-2006.html
Sarah Meyer is a researcher living in the UK.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
TAGS: Index Research, Afghanistan, NATO, War Crimes, Guantanamo, Regime Change, Military Contracts, Opium, Rumsfeld, Cambone, B. Craddock,