Hamas says faces “battle” to lift Gaza blockade

Hamas says faces “battle” to lift Gaza blockade

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Hamas’s leader Khaled Meshaal said on Monday the Palestinian Islamist group still faced a battle to lift the Israeli blockade of Gaza despite separate ceasefires declared by his group and the Jewish state.

Visiting Tehran, he praised Iran for providing financial and political backing in the fight against Israel, highlighting ties between Hamas and the Islamic Republic.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal speaks during a rally in Tehran university February 2, 2009. Meshaal said on Monday the Palestinian Islamist group still faced a battle to lift the Israeli blockade of Gaza despite separate ceasefires declared by his group and the Jewish state. (REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)

Hamas was in close contact with Iran, its main backer along with Syria, during the 22-day Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Hamas has said it would intensify its post-war diplomatic efforts to lift the Israeli blockade on the coastal territory.

It has kept a line open with Egypt, which is mediating a deal for a more solid truce that tries to meet Israel’s demands for stopping arms flows into Gaza and Hamas’s demands for ending the blockade.

“We invite you and we call on you to continue with the steps to support Gaza because the battle is not over,” Meshaal said in a speech at Tehran University.

“We still have a battle, the battle of lifting the siege of Gaza and opening the border crossings,” he said in comments translated by Iran’s English-language Press TV.

His arrival in Tehran on Monday with a Hamas delegation was part of a regional push to reinforce support for the group after the Israeli invasion of Gaza.

Israel accuses Iran of providing weapons to Hamas. Tehran says it provides financial, humanitarian and moral support.

“Thank you for all your support — the financial, political and media and popular support which you gave to us,” he said.

Iran criticised some Arab states and the West for not doing enough to stop Israel’s attacks on Gaza, which medical officials in the enclave said killed 1,300 Palestinians.

Analysts say Hamas’ ties with Shi’ite Iran have contributed to strained relations between the Sunni group and Arab Sunni heavyweights like Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Hamas and Iran were confronting Israel and the “American tyrant”, Meshaal said. “Sunnis and Shi’ites, we are with you for the sake of the interests of the Islamic and Arab world.”

Meshaal, who met Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday, said Iran after its 1979 Islamic revolution had become “a victor for all of the resistance movements, all of the liberation movements in the world, especially Palestine.”

Hamas views the war as resulting in regional diplomatic gains for it, with Turkey criticising Israel and Qatar convening a high-profile meeting that supported the group’s objectives.

Meshaal said Israel, Iran’s arch-foe, had both failed to defeat Hamas and to stop the rockets fired at its territory.

Israel carried out air strikes and Palestinians launched mortar bomb attacks on Monday despite the ceasefire in Gaza.

“Israel failed in stopping the rockets from being launched and the rockets continue to be launched towards the enemies’ territory even after the ceasefire,” Meshaal said.

Copyright © 2008 Reuters

Israel, with its adamant stance, risks losing Turkey

Israel, with its adamant stance, risks losing Turkey

Israel’s assault on Gaza and the ensuing tension with Turkey may have a damaging effect on Tel Aviv’s credibility and cast doubts on its commitment to reaching peace through dialogue, Turkish analysts have warned. Turkey has spent hard-earned diplomatic currency with close friends Pakistan and Syria on behalf of its strategic ally Israel. Following the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) military attack on Gaza, which left over 1,300 Palestinians, mostly civilians, dead, Turkey was placed in an awkward position with both Pakistan and Syria. Turkish diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity here in Ankara, said Israel was quickly losing its only Muslim ally that can mend the Jewish state’s relations with countries across and beyond the Middle East.

Over the weekend Israeli media was busy filing news reports and bylined articles meant to ring alarm bells about the sustainability of Turkey’s role as a mediator in the Middle East following Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent public confrontation with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Almost all of those reports and articles have featured tones of intimidation toward Turkey, while they lacked any analytical view based on facts vis-à-vis the Turkish capital’s mediation efforts to date. Furthermore, they also failed to note that the issue at the core of the recent tension between Israel and Turkey was still the killing of Palestinian civilians in Israel’s deadly offensive in the Gaza Strip, not whether Erdoğan behaved diplomatically enough during the recent confrontation, as he and Peres have already exchanged friendly and calm messages following the incident.

Israel launched a military offensive on Dec. 27 to force Hamas militants who control the Gaza Strip to stop firing rockets at southern Israeli towns. Some 1,300 Palestinians were killed, of whom over 700 were civilians. Over 4,000 were wounded and thousands were left homeless after their houses were destroyed by bulldozers. Ten Israeli soldiers were killed in the fighting and three civilians were killed by Hamas rockets inside Israel before the two sides called a halt to the fighting on Jan. 18.

Syrians wave Palestinian and Turkish flags as others place roses in front of the Turkish Embassy in Damascus on Saturday to thank Erdoğan.

Erdoğan walked off a panel at the World Economic Forum (WEF) held in Davos on Thursday evening after being prevented from rebutting Peres’ fervent defense of Israel’s 23-day deadly offensive. The prime minister had encountered an audacious Peres, who launched a fiery defense of his country’s offensive in Gaza over the past month with a raised voice and pointed finger, and questioned what Erdoğan would do if rockets were fired at İstanbul every night.

Erdoğan “has lost all credibility as an honest broker in peace discussions,” leading Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post quoted a senior Israeli diplomatic official as saying on Saturday night. “As long as he is the prime minister of the country, Turkey has no place in peace negotiations or discussions. It is not a trustworthy diplomatic partner anymore,” the same official said.

Within days of the launch of Israel’s offensive, Turkey had announced that it had suspended efforts to broker peace talks between Israel and Syria, saying the onslaught in Gaza had led to “deep disappointment” in Ankara. Turkey, a predominantly Muslim but secular country that historically has had good ties with Israel and the Arab world, also played a role in helping broker an end to the Gaza offensive, particularly by lobbying the Hamas group to declare a cease-fire.

Another leading Israeli daily, Haaretz, cited Israeli Foreign Ministry officials as saying that they have “learned that senior European Union diplomats were highly critical of the vociferous criticism Erdoğan had leveled at Israel over the operation in Gaza and for his support of Hamas.”

Haaretz quoted senior European officials as saying, “Erdoğan wants to be part of the European Union, but now he can forget about it.”

All of these comments, apparently aimed at causing alarm in Ankara, were met with a calm response by a senior Turkish diplomat speaking with Today’s Zaman yesterday.

“There is no rush or an alarmed mood here in Ankara,” the Turkish diplomat, speaking under condition of anonymity, first noted.

“We’ve never acted hastily or asked parties in a conflict to be a mediator. That has to be understood very well. We have assumed this role only as long as the two sides of a conflict have requested us to do so,” the diplomat said.

“All kinds of mediation efforts around the world are outlined and formed in line with mutual interests. That’s what all parties should focus on now, too. Turkey has always said that there will not be any major problem in bilateral relations as long as channels of cooperation and dialogue are kept open and that’s what we’ve been trying to do in the case with Israel, as well,” he added.

When reminded of certain comments suggesting that Erdoğan had lost his “neutrality,” which is necessary for mediation, the diplomat said: “When everything has quieted down, realities will be comprehended by everyone and common sense will prevail. Time will then show whether Mr. Prime Minister has lost neutrality or not. One should not forget that he brought a new momentum to the region by delivering messages based on democratic principles to the peoples of the region.”

Ankara had long remained tight-lipped concerning its mediation efforts between Israel and Syria. The Turkish capital broke its silence in the spring of last year only after Israeli and Syrian officials acknowledged the ongoing negotiations publicly. “We’re not seeking to show off. We do not hold unreasonable expectations, either. But Turkey will firmly continue its efforts in a calm manner,” a senior Turkish official told Today’s Zaman at the time.

Furthermore, Turkey’s mediation between Israel and Syria came despite harsh criticism of Ankara at the time for holding talks with Hamas officials.

In early 2006, after Hamas’ landslide victory in Palestinian elections, a Hamas delegation led by Khaled Meshaal, the Damascus-based leader of Hamas, was hosted in Ankara. The visit drew ire from Israel, which, like the US, calls Hamas a terrorist organization and refuses to hold talks with it.

At the time, Turkey defended its dialogue with the Hamas leader, saying it had urged the Palestinian group to renounce violence.

Pushing relations to their limits

Over the weekend, Erdoğan continued his criticism of Israel, this time for arresting leading Hamas parliamentarians. In an interview with The Washington Post published on Saturday, Erdoğan described the Gaza Strip as “an open-air prison” and said Israel’s moves provoked Hamas.

“You expect them to sit obediently?” he asked in the interview.

In a separate interview with Newsweek International, Erdoğan denied that he had pushed the Turkish-Israeli relationship to its limits with his expression of a sense of disappointment when he recounted how he had met with Olmert just days before the offensive, and believed they were close to reaching terms for a face-to-face meeting with Syrian leaders.

“At the request of Syria, we entered a phase of working together with Israel and Syria indirectly to get them to talk with each other. We are mediators in that process. This was an example of how much importance we put on peace in the Middle East. We had done this before with Pakistan and Israel. During the tenure of Mr. Pervez Musharraf, we brought them together in İstanbul: the foreign minister of Israel and the foreign minister of Pakistan. In these talks, at least we started the process of coming together. The request came from Pakistan and Israel to bring them together, so we did. The meetings took place for two days in secret about two years ago,” Erdoğan explained.

“I’m not saying that Hamas is a good organization and makes no mistakes. They have made mistakes. But I am evaluating the end result,” he also told Newsweek.

“We have a serious relationship. But the current Israeli government should check itself. They should not exploit this issue for the upcoming elections in Israel,” he said, when asked whether Turkey-Israel relationship was over.

Who Really Fires the Provocative Toy Rockets


Why War in Gaza

Why War in Gaza

By Charles E. Carlson

What does Israel’s war against the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have in common with America’s serial wars all over the globe, now centered on Afghanistan? The common denominator is that American money and weapons are used in every such war. Israel enjoys the approval and unconditional support of the American government. That means that no act that Israel does or has done will arouse serious objection from America’s leaders. In this Part V, we will examine why the War for Palestine is no closer to ending now than it was when it began, 54 years ago, and why the American government is financing the Israeli side in its brutal path.

The war in Palestine is an American war, just as much as the one in Afghanistan is. I know this, because I, personally, heard and saw the American F-16 planes and the missiles made in the U.S. exploding in the refugee camps, homes, and office buildings of Gaza. It is not necessary to go to Gaza to understand what is going on there, unless you are a person who trusts the American media implicitly. There is little reason for anyone to have doubts about who is beating up on whom. Most of the facts show up in the international press, and they are readily available on the Internet, where there is much greater freedom from the censorship that controls the mainstream press.

I saw the people who live in the gulag called Gaza, and I learned to appreciate their dignity and ability to govern themselves and live under nearly impossible circumstances. We Hold These Truths is not against the Israelis, but we are against what they do to Palestine. Similarly, we are not against the father who makes the bad choice to submit his unborn child to the abortionist. We do not favor punishing or killing him because he has allowed his unborn child’s life to be ended, but in every abortion situation, we are pro-baby, because the baby cannot defend itself; it is always the victim.

We oppose what the Israelis do, and we oppose those who are causing and promoting the genocide Israel is engaged in, and that includes our own government and large numbers of the Christian leaders in America. We do not condone killing by Palestinians either, but we recognize that it is a response to Israeli aggression against them, and not the other way around, as it is portrayed by the Pro-Israel American media.

Israel is responsible, even though it has clearly been manipulated by its American financiers to commit genocide. If the world’s only superpower gives weapons of mass destruction to the Israeli side of the war, Israel can hardly be expected not to use them. Because of the exorbitant military aid that the U.S. gives to Israel, it is able to use extremely costly weapons of mass destruction on the Palestinians every day. Israel is the aggressor this is undeniable to any fair-minded person, whether he visits the gulag called Palestine or whether he just listens to the international version of CNN and BBC. The news that CNN presents in Egypt is different from the news it presents to Americans; it employs a double standard of reporting.

In every fight or squabble, including those our kids get into, there is always an aggressor–a perpetrator. In some fights, the victim wins…we like to see these hero stories on TV and read about them in books. But in the case of the Palestinian people, they are and have always been the victim; though the press tries to make them the aggressor. To presume that Palestinians are the aggressors is as ridiculous as presuming that a four-year old child attacked a 90-pound pit bull; it could happen, but it never does.

We have heard all the arguments as to why Israel has a right to destroy the Palestinians in order to possess the land if need be. Many of the arguments are specious and do not hold any historical or legal water, and are based upon one or another false premise. Jewish and Israeli historians, time and time again, in hundreds of written works have refuted all of these arguments. We could offer many references without ever naming a Christian author. Our own One Nation Under Israel has a bibliography that is almost entirely Jewish and makes these arguments look silly.

There is, however, one argument about who owns the land that we will answer. Most Israelis I asked told me, “We own the land because God gave it to us.” Several of those who said this then admitted they never attend synagogue and are not religious. We will discuss this argument in depth in the next and final edition of this series, because it is the answer that is presented most often by Americans, particularly professing Christians. Many of these Christians say they believe this excuses any actions the Israelis may take to keep the land, no matter how violent.

Israel has surpassed the Soviet Union as the most socialistic country on the face of earth. One evidence of this was told to me by my American friends who live in Gaza but who, unlike the Palestinians, are able to travel to and shop in Israel. They tell that in the up-coming Passover no bread will be available in Israel even though most store owners are secular and do not really believe in the so called Jewish history. Merchants are required to hide the leavened bread during Passover, selling only the Kosher unleavened, regardless of their own beliefs. To insure its official religion is observed, the State of Israel maintains Passover police who patrol stores looking for malefactors selling yeasted bread, who they believe are prosecuted and fined when caught.

Most store owners apparently do not really believe in God, but my hosts said they tolerate this practice even if it is slightly silly to enforce the belief in tradition. What would Moses have said about Passover police back in the days of slavery? Not even the Pharaohs went this far, but Israelis think nothing of it.  But it is religion that works. The statement “god gave it to us” referring to the Palestinians’ land, is heard from everyone including Sharon. It, too, is part of Israeli religion. If few believe in or worships “god” what difference does it make? It is a religion that works for the Israelis….it is the system.

During my stay in Gaza, I learned that the Palestinians have dignity and pride in spite of the conditions imposed on them by the Israelis. They are not lacking for bravery and have given a good account of themselves in battle. Israel is not enjoying the war with them; if you think otherwise, ask any Israeli. Some prominent Israelis are now saying they cannot defeat the Palestinians. They may be right, but Israel has yet to employ nuclear arms against Palestine, and it’s my opinion that, if it received US approval, it would do it. Israel is pleading for more massive aid from the US taxpayers right now.

Palestinians wonder why Americans will not do their part by ending their aid to the bully. As one person told me in a letter, if we allow this great injustice to continue, some day we will be the Palestinians and our grandchildren will be in the ghetto or gulag. If we can stop this war, we can stop all wars, but I don’t mean stopping war by the phony peace process we hear about on the news.

Both parties are exhausted by the 54-year war in Israel. Only the victims of the Soviet Union during the Bolshevik reign parallel the suffering of the Palestinians. But in the last half of the 20th century, there has been no comparable brutality. The Israeli people have also suffered from the conflict, but in a different way that few discuss. Israeli deaths are exaggerated in our news and have been about one-for-every-seven Palestinians.

It appears the war has impoverished Palestinians while the Israelis seem to prosper, but this too is an illusion. In its struggle and poverty, the life style of the Palestinians has never been stronger in terms of commitment to religion and the family. It has prospered while Israel has deteriorated. In Israel moral decay of every conceivable kind is epidemic. The best measure of this divergence in character is the relative birth rate; Palestine has one of the highest rates in the world and Israel one of the lowest.

Israel is the sad site of the most outrageous inflation; meantime, one can buy a street lunch in Gaza city for 50 U.S. cents, and a white cotton men’s shirt can be taken home for $7.50, about a fifth of the cost in Israel.  Without its biggest moneymaker, tourism, Israel is in effect bankrupt; its businessmen are on their knees. Furthermore, its farming practices that have been touted as greening the desert will run Israel out of drinking water, not to mention irrigation, in about 30 years, I was told by an Israeli businessman. Palestinian farmers and nomads lived with the frail ecosystem for a thousand years; Israel may well destroy it in less than a century.

Since the Intifada 2, Israel apparently has no one willing to pick the oranges, which can begin rotting on the trees in orchards. Keep in mind that 100% of the Israeli youth, who would normally be entry level labor and might pick fruit, are riding the busses from place to place and standing guard over the Arabs at a thousand outposts. They are not available to pick the oranges, and the Arabs, who have picked for generations, are locked up in the gulags. It is Israel’s specious claim they have a blooming desert, but do not have a way to harvest their crops without the Palestinian labor.

One comparison I found curious was public transportation. In Gaza City, a fair sized town, there is no public bus system, but unemployment is high and taxis are everywhere. The fare is one Israeli shekel (25 cents) to go anywhere in the city. This is a bargain in transportation, but you must share your cab with anyone else going your way. There are no subsidies and little regulations, and most people ride because they can afford it.

In Israel, the government owns the public bus system that is everywhere and is obviously losing a bundle. You can ride all the way across Israel for $18.00, but the taxpayers (American ones) are probably putting up at least that much for every ride. The buses are, in effect, military transport vehicles half full of armed Israeli Defense Forces. It did not make me feel safe, and it is clearly another road to Israeli bankruptcy.

The greatest problem of the Israelis is their morale. They are a people afraid, and it shows. Israelis simply do not like the risk of being splattered by suicide bombers, no matter how favorable the odds. Recently prominent Israeli officers have stated that Israel cannot win the war. Thousands of Israeli Defense Force reserves and regulars are now refusing to serve. Israel is in the worst moral crisis of its history. It shows in the eyes of the thousands of youth who ride its radically-subsidized bus system. It shows in the voices of businessmen who tell you that there is no business and that the war must end.

There is no denying who the parties to the war are. The American government is the principal Warmaker on the Palestinian people. I defy anyone to go to Gaza and Jerusalem and not sense it is true. Every Palestinian knows this and will say so if you give him time to express himself. The Americans provide everything for the war except the people. Israel provides the boys and girls. It also sends the dead home to Israeli families in body bags.

I stood on my rented roof and watched sortie after sortie of American F-16s delivering 50 million dollar missiles into a refugee camp where the homes are made of dirt. Every missile dropped had “Made in the USA” stamped on it. I witnessed an attack by Apache helicopters, perhaps the most frightening war machines in the world, for it can be anchored a mile away and fire a guided missile capable of incinerating a 60-ton tank into your bedroom window without even waking you to the danger. That day the Apaches fired 42 guided anti-tank missiles into relatively worthless office buildings that were abandoned by the Palestinian government because they were known to be targets. The cost was many million dollars of American money.

Everyone in Israel knows the government is bankrupt and has been for years. I am told by a trusted financial analyst that the Israeli war budget exceeds its Gross National Product and has for many years. Consider for a moment this amazing statement, which if even half true would be staggering. Israel is a country that spends more on its war with the indigenous Palestinians than all its citizens and residents combined take in from the sale of everything.

As an analogy, what if your household spent more on the lottery than all your sources of income combined–your wages, your sale assets, your pension plan, social security, whatever. It is inconceivable to even contemplate such a household, much less a government. This means that Israel must receive gifts to carry out its war against the Palestinians; else it would have to make peace. And it does receive those gifts–from the American taxpayer.

The Palestinians know where the bombs and bullets come from, but they do not want to believe it, because to recognize America as the real enemy is to admit defeat. Most Palestinians do not believe Israel can defeat them, but they can’t help knowing that they cannot defeat the full war efforts of the American Government. This is the sad plight of the Palestinians; they cannot admit what they know deep inside, that the enemy is the U.S. The question is, can the Americans come to admit it?

We shall now examine how and why America is secretly at war with the poor mothers and sons I visited in Gaza. We shall also logically show how this tragic war can be ended and why, for the sake of the American people if not for the Palestinians and Israelis, it must be ended. If the American government would stop funding the war in Israel, it would stop overnight. There is no need for an Oslo Accord or a Washington-initiated peace accord, or an Arab plan. The people in Israel on both sides are afraid and tired of the war. Both sides see the hopelessness of the war, and there is an easy solution the United States must withdraw from helping either side.

The State of Israel–both the Palestinian side and the Jewish side–is nothing more than a vast resettlement camp for both Jews and Arabs. On November 29, 1947, by a vote of 33 to 13, with 10 abstentions, the United Nations General Assembly declared the existence of the State of Israel by a Partition Plan. The U.N. was a new, internationalist tool owned, created and controlled by the winners of World War II. It granted control of certain seaport cities on the Mediterranean to a government entity that did not even exist, but which was to constitute itself and adopt the Biblical name of Israel.

These cities granted to Israeli control include TelAviv, Haifa, and others. These cities and the surrounding territory were primary populated by Arabs at the time, and nothing in the agreement suggested that the Arabs were required to leave the new Israeli state. But, in fact, the Arabs were forced to leave and became refugees in their own lands. Some left Palestine by boat or on foot, but many stayed, and today they and their descendants number 400,000 in Gaza alone. Many refugee camps still exist in the Gaza Strip and the West bank.

In subsequent military operations the new State of Israel–always supported by U.S. financial and military aid–invaded and captured all of the Palestinian territory not given to it in the Partition Agreement. Israel assumed control of the entire state of Palestine, except for two separate chunks of territory most densely populated by Palestinian Arabs–the West Bank and Gaza. These two isolated parcels are today the home of millions of Arab Palestinians.

But Israel did not stop here, it effectively subdivided the West Bank and Gaza into dozens of gulags, or live-in prison camps by capturing and occupying all the major roads and waterways within the West Bank and Gaza, and further, by establishing militarized squatter camps at all strategic road crossings, and sites having potential military value. These squatters’ camps have been referred to as settlements but the civilian inhabitants are actually squatters on the occupied, inhabited land. In fact, they evicted the Arab residents by force.

As a result of their action, the map of partitioned territory today resembles two chunks of Swiss cheese, the holes being the settlements, with all surrounding roads and most of the internal roads designated as Israeli territory. One Jewish commentator likened the set up to a house where the rooms belong to the Palestinians, but the halls, windows and doors belong to the Israelis.

One intelligent question is asked over and over again and must be answered: Why is America warring against one Islamic country after another? Is it because Muslim and Arabs are subhuman as the Israelis claim, and as the American press sometimes subtly suggests? Or is there an anti-Islamic agenda among our nation’s leaders that they do not share with us? Who can help but notice the common denominator in America’s serial wars; Muslims are dying in almost every war.

My hosts in Gaza were almost all Christians who had long experience living and working among the Muslims. Some had themselves been Muslims. They wonder how it can be a coincidence that Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan are all Islamic countries, and they are all war victims of the U.S. Why, they ask, would the U.S. government single out Islam for destruction? There can be no understanding of why the U.S. supports war against the Islamic Palestinians until we face this question. Fortunately, the answer has been recorded and tested by the unforgiving standard of time

On March 21, 1994, this author wrote the answer to that question in Attacking Islam, which was published in a national magazine. That article is history and needs no additions or corrections to expose the truth today. The proof of its accuracy is that it can stand the light of scrutiny eight years later. We are quoting the entire article intact, changing nothing and leaving off only the historical introduction. The story is called “Attacking Islam,” and it explains exactly why the U.S. government is doing and why.

Predator Attacks Crimes Against Humanity, Whether in Pakistan or Gaza

Faulty intelligence, wanton recklessness, or a combination of the two

1 February 2009: A 13-year-old girl who was asleep in her bed; three primary school-age boys who were carrying sugar canes; two young women on their way to a shelter in search of safety; a 13-year-old boy on his bicycle; eight secondary school students who were waiting for the school bus to take them home; an entire family sitting outside their home – these are among the many victims of missiles fired from Israeli UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), commonly known as drones.

Here in Gaza people call the drones “zannana”, an onomatopoeic description reflecting the buzzing sound that they emit as they fly overhead. Their main function is surveillance, but, in recent years, Israeli forces have also used them to fire missiles, often to assassinate “wanted” Palestinians.

An Israeli journalist told us that the military censor does not permit Israeli media to publish any reference to strikes by drones. These missiles seem to be very precise, with a relatively small but concentrated radius. Yet, they have killed or injured hundreds of civilians, including many children, though the reason for this – whether due to faulty intelligence, wanton recklessness, or a combination of the two – is unclear.

In many of the cases we investigated, we found a consistent pattern: each missile is packed with tiny metal cubes that increase its lethal effect. These are blasted with extreme force, penetrating through metal doors and steel pylons and embedding deep into concrete walls.

Today, we visited the place where a missile fired from a drone killed two women and three children from the same family on the morning of 15 January. It was in a Bedouin village on the outskirts of Beit Lahiya, in north Gaza. Those killed were three children, their mother and their grandmother.

The family’s home had been destroyed some 10 days earlier by the blast from a powerful air strike that apparently targeted a nearby tunnel. After this, the family had gone to stay with relatives across the road. The two women and three children were killed by the missile when they returned to the remains of their home to retrieve some of their possessions.

Earlier, we investigated several other cases in the Khan Yunis area, in the south of the Gaza Strip. There, the latest drone attack had occurred on 29 January, despite the 11-day-old ceasefire, in the centre of Khan Yunis.

The target, it seems, were two suspected Palestinian militants who were riding a motorcycle. They were hit and injured, but so too were 16 civilians, almost all of them children, as might have been predicted considering the location and time of the missile strike.

It was launched at a point opposite the hospital, only a few metres distant from the entrance to a UN primary school and directly in front of a row of food stalls. The attack was launched at 11.30am, just as children were leaving school at the end of the morning lessons.

On 2 January, three boys from the al-Astal family – eight-year-old Abderrabbo, his brother Mohammed, aged 11, and Abd-al-Sattar al-Astal, also just 11 – were killed by a missile fired from a drone while collecting sugar cane in al-Qarara, north-east of Khan Yunis. At the scene, we again found metal posts peppered with the signature square holes from the shrapnel blasted from the drone missile.

Another characteristic of these missiles is a small hole that penetrates deep into the ground, leaving few remains. We asked to borrow a shovel from local farmers in order to dig down and try to recover any remains from the missile. At this, some village youths stepped up enthusiastically and began to dig into the sandy ground.

Some six feet down, they recovered small parts of the circuit board and other shards of the missile. We urged the children’s family to hold on to these and keep them safe, as possible evidence to be considered in any future investigation.

HARDtalk: “Our intelligence is not good enough” —Ameer Haider Hoti, Chief Minister NWFP

HARDtalk: “Our intelligence is not good enough” —Ameer Haider Hoti, Chief Minister NWFP

Ameer Haider Hoti, chief minister of the NWFP, says the army’s “ground intelligence is not good enough” to get militant leader Maulana Fazlullah in Swat, though the situation in the area has “not slipped out of hand totally”. In an exclusive interview with Daily Times’ Peshawar Bureau Chief Iqbal Khattak, Hoti expressed concern that the command structure of the militants is “still intact”, and that “their FM channel is still operational.” Excerpts follow:

Daily Times: How would you describe the situation in Swat today?

Ameer Haider Hoti: When this [insurgency] started, no one moved in. Had we moved in [at the beginning], I think we wouldn’t have had this problem now. In Swat…the situation on ground is not good. We tried peace agreements with military operations but, unfortunately, despite our best efforts we haven’t been able to achieve our targets. It is an extraordinary situation and we require an innovative solution for Swat right now. But…you have to look at whole picture. It is not just Swat. What is going on in FATA? The Swat situation is linked to the situation in FATA. For a stable Pukhtoonkhwa [NWFP], you need stability in FATA.

How are the government and the military coordinating their efforts against the militants?

The government’s priority is clear. We told the military it should be selective with its targets, and that there should be minimum collateral damage. But there has been a lot of collateral damage, and people have been complaining about what is happening. Now we got new commanders on the ground and have a better understanding with army. So, now the strategy is that the military will be clearing areas and handing them over to civil security forces. The military will be moving forward, instead of being scattered and stretched. That is what happened earlier, and it was not helping anyone.

ANP leaders Haji Adeel and Ilyas Bilour have openly admitted that Swat has slipped out of the government’s hands completely.

It has not slipped totally. With coordinated efforts, we can manage things. But let me admit that we do have a lot of problems and a lot of challenges as far as Swat is concerned. There is room for improvement. For that, force is one of the options. But civilians should not suffer. Political dialogue was and is the best possible option. Reconstruction and rehabilitation should follow. But winning the media war (against militancy) is very important. The same goes for rest of the province and the country.

Do the local people still have confidence in the government after the Pir Samiullah incident?

The people of Swat really hate [the militants]. They need the support of the government. We need to reorganise them. What happened to Pir Samiullah should not have happened. The Pir should have been supported. He was the voice of the people, he stood up against the militants. Unfortunately, he could not be supported and what happened after his death to him, no Muslim can accept.

How long do you think it will take the government and the armed forces to conclusively deal with this problem?

There is a war going on. We are facing an insurgency. I cannot give you a definite timeframe…but it is going to take quite some time.

Why do you think the army has failed to get Fazlullah?

I think this question is for the army to answer. I think our ground intelligence is not very good, which is a problem that is hurting the army and everyone involved. It is very difficult to differentiate between the locals and the militants. The army is worried about this. In a village of 5000, there are 50 to 100 militants, [who are difficult to identify if] you don’t have proper intelligence. We have discussed this problem to improve ground intelligence… I would love to see this insurgency defeated. But we have certain problems and setbacks. The command structure [of Fazlullah-led militants] is still intact. The FM channel is still operational. Something needs to be done about these things. We shouldn’t be allowing them to expand their territory. We are trying to make the military operations more effective.

Given your concerns about collateral damage, has the ANP stopped the army from conducting a full-fledged operation in Swat?

We clearly told [the army] that we can afford minimum civilian casualties. No government can afford a lot of collateral damage. So an operation on a massive scale right now would solve the problem to some extent…but at the same time would lead to a lot of civilian casualties. We don’t want this to happen. We want the operation to be selective and targeted. That can be managed with good ground intelligence.

Your government released Sufi Mohammed, Fazlullah’s father-in-law, as a confidence-building measure. Yet it has been obvious for months that Fazlullah did not value this gesture and continued with his activities.

Sufi Muhammad was not released because of Fazlullah. Sufi Muhammad was tortured; wasn’t treated properly. He was never given the opportunity to defend himself. In fact, no one took his case to a court of law. He was being held hostage for nothing. If the government had a case against him, it should have gone to court. This has happened to us, my own elders. They have been behind bars for ages without trial. [Sufi Muhammad] was freed purely on humanitarian grounds.

Is there any shift in the ANP policy on Swat?

Our policy is political dialogue. That will eventually be the way out. As a last option, to protect our own people and installation and to ensure that there is no parallel administration running, force has to be used. It is a hard decision for a political government to order the use of force.

Given your commitment to negotiations, are you still trying to negotiate a peace deal with Fazlullah?

Yes. We are ready to talk to anyone, provided the group or individual is ready to renounce violence, come to the negotiating table and accept the government’s writ. We are ready to negotiate even with those who planned and ordered the suicide attack at Wali Bagh if they are ready.

What about the Swat Taliban’s recent ‘summons’ to several politicians and influential people of Swat, including some from the ANP?

We don’t recognize them or their courts… They have no authority to summon anyone. No one is going to their court. This is a propaganda stunt.

Last year, just before you took over as chief minister, you said that if the imposition of sharia can improve things, why not. Do you still consider sharia to be a viable option?

You can call it sharia or adal regulation. Basically, what people want is speedy justice, and that is what we want too. But this will definitely be done in accordance with the Constitution. This system, in no way, will go against basic human rights and liberties.

Will Fazlullah stop his activities if sharia is enforced?

I don’t trust Fazlullah or any other miscreant. And we would not do this for Fazlullah. We will be doing this for the people of Malakand because this is their demand and it is genuine. By putting such a system in place, we would isolate those who carry out violent acts. *

Yishai: Destroy 100 houses for each rocket fired


Rabbi Perin: “A million Arabs are not worth one Jewish fingernail”

Gil Yohanan

Yishai: Destroy 100 houses for each rocket fired

Shas chairman presents his solution for thwarting rocket fire towards southern communities: ‘We must set a price tag for every act of shooting at Israel. If we damage infrastructures or houses in response to every small action – the rocket fire will end’

Raanan Ben-Zur

Shas Chairman Eli Yishai demands a harsh response against the rockets fired at Israel from Gaza: Yishai said Monday that Israel should set a price tag for any rocket launched by Hamas.

“Even if they fire at an open area or into the sea, we must damage their infrastructures and destroy 100 houses. That’s when it will end,” he said.

Speaking at the 9th Annual Herzliya Conference, Yishai referred to the situation in the Gaza vicinity: “We are witnessing and aware of the harsh and complex security reality.

There’s no doubt that years of restraint have heavily damaged our deterrence ability.

Operation Cast Lead restored Israel’s deterrence ability. It’s very important, but we are now facing a big test – whether we harm the achievement to the limits of our deterrence or strengthen it.

“We’re not looking for a military action. The people of Israel seek peace, act sensitively while taking chances.”

The Shas chairman said the Jewish state “must set a price tag for every rocket fired at Israel, every tunnel dug and every act of smuggling. We will respond immediately to every act of terror using the price tag. Believe me, not much will happen before it stops – as they also want to live after all.”

As for the response as he views it, Yishai said, “If for every small action, even a mortar shell fired at an open area or into the sea, we damage infrastructures which have yet to be damaged or hit dozens of hundreds of terrorists’ homes while informing them in advance – so as not to hurt the family members – these hours will be destroyed once and the rocket fire will end.

“We’re not doing this gladly or with pleasure; we are doing it in order to defend Israel’s citizens. The situation in the south, if we don’t act as we demand, will worsen as we are witnessing in day to day life.”

Yishai added that the Palestinians don’t want peace and that Israel should stop being eager. “This raises the price and moves peace away.”

CIA coup plot helped aid 1979 Iranian Revolution

CIA coup plot helped aid 1979 Iranian Revolution

This week, the Iranian people are celebrating a dubious holiday – the 30th anniversary of their Islamic Revolution – which the United States and Britain, in part, can take credit for helping to bring about.

America’s post-WWII involvement in Iran is a tragic parable that can help teach us the limits of empire building, and the dangers of foreign policies that place the acquisition of petroleum above the rights and sovereignty of our neighbors.

In 1953, the U.S. and British intelligence services implemented a controversial secret coup plot, code named operation TPAJAX, to overthrow the leadership of Iran and reinstall its Western-leaning Shah. This plot was eventually outlined by Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist James Risen in two New York Times articles in 2000.

Risen’s exposé reveals the details of the successful return of the Shah of Iran, and provides a perfect example of America’s obsession with securing control of foreign oil reserves – and the catastrophic effects this foreign policy obsession can have on our national security.

By the end of WWII, Risen writes, Iran had become a target of both the United States and the Soviet Union due to its massive oil reserves.

In the early 1950s, friction began growing between the Iran’s supreme leader, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlami, and the nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh over Western influence over Iran’s oil reserves. In 1952, the Shah removed Mossadegh temporarily until angry public demonstrations forced him to reverse his decision.

The following year, both U.S. President Eisenhower and the British Prime Minister agreed to a coup plot devised by the CIA and the SIS – Britain’s military intelligence service – to overthrow Mossadegh as Iran’s Prime Minister.

After first refusing to sign CIA-drafted royal decrees dismissing Mossadegh on August 1st, which were delivered by Army General H. Norman Schwarzkopf – father of the Desert Storm hero of the same name – the Shah finally agreed to back the CIA plan on August 13th. But the delay had allowed time for Mossadegh gain knowledge of the coup.

Mossadegh managed to fend off the U.S. and the British efforts to remove him, and three days later the terrified Shah flew to safety in Iraq, which at the time was also a strong U.S. ally in the region.

What occurred during the next three days in Tehran is now legend among the CIA’s old guard, as agency operatives fanned out across the city, hiring gangs of thugs to storm the capital and intimidate the population into demanding the return of the Shah.

By 1954, with Mossadegh in prison and his followers either incarcerated or executed by pro-Western units of the Iranian Army, the Shah was reinstalled as Iran’s leader.

The brutal rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlami was therefore extended by more than 25 years by this U.S. and British covert operation. America’s oil rights in Iran were reestablished, but the Shah’s notorious private terror squad, known as the SAVAK, increasingly denied self-determination and civil rights to the Iranian people.

One victim of the Shah’s ruthless subjugation was a popular religious leader named Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who was exiled to Turkey in 1964 after raising public objections to the Shah’s relationship with the United States.

The 15 years following Khomeini’s exile were filled with horrors for the Iranian people as the SAVAK grew in size and brutality. Eventually numbering 60,000 members, the vicious punishment meted out by the Shah’s enforcers increased to match their leader’s growing unpopularity.

Finally, in 1979, a revolution guided by Ayatollah Khomeini from his new home in France forced the Shah to flee Iran. He eventually ended up in the United States where he sought treatment for the cancer that ultimately took his life in 1980.

With the triumphant return of Khomeini to Iran, the proverbial wheels of U.S. Middle East policy were immediately torn off, and the decades long American domination of the Iranian oil fields came to a dramatic and tragic end.

In a brutal attack that occurred shortly after Khomeini’s arrival in Tehran, which was identified as a direct response to Western interference in Iranian affairs during the preceding years, revolutionary radicals captured the U.S. embassy and held 52 American employees hostage for 444 days.

This agonizing chapter in U.S. foreign policy provided both an insight into the intensity of radical Islamist fundamentalism, as well as a sobering example of the destructive implications that petroleum-centered foreign policy decision-making can have on American national security.

Unfortunately, it took the events of Sept. 11, 2001 – over 20 years later – for America to finally realize that our oil-dominated foreign policy choices can radically affect our national security. And in the intervening three decades, Iran has suffered under the weight of a repressive theocratic régime whose existence we helped usher in.

Wars are Manipulated

Wars are Manipulated

February 1st, 2009 8:03 pm  |  by Doug Lasken |  Published in Blowback, Foreign Policy, History, Media, Politics, War1 Comment

This means, of course, that people are manipulated. Take the current Gaza conflict. The ceasefire came neatly before Obama’s inauguration, conveniently getting the new president off the hook for a spell, until a resumption of hostilities could be finessed on terms to fit the new administration. Now we’re on the brink of those new hostilities. How have they been finessed?

They were precipitated by a roadside bomb that killed an Israeli soldier patrolling outside Gaza, breaking the ceasefire. The finesse? Hamas denied responsibility for the bomb. Israel and the West (including Hamas) know that the world outside Gaza does not take note of niceties like a denial of responsibility for a bomb attack, so Israel can now launch attacks on Gaza as it sees fit. These attacks will not appear the all out massacre that Operation Cast Lead did, giving Obama wiggle room to say that Israel has the right to defend itself. Note: this delicate controlling of history involves complicity from ALL sides, including Hamas, which is now in a position to fire rockets at will.

There is ample precedent in the middle-east for manipulation of wars. During the Lebanese civil war, soldiers from various factions were paid salaries from the same government agency, and hostilities were halted on payroll days. But such manipulation is apparent in all hostilities in the modern world. During the cold war I used to walk over to the UCLA library and read Pravda in English. What I discovered was that for any incident involving conflict between Russia and the West, there were two accounts: one for the Russians and one for the West. The most blatant discrepancies appeared in accounts of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The Russian version would detail the deaths of Afghani “militants,” while the Western told of slain Afghani “shepherds.”

Note the similar treatment of the current drone missile attacks in north-western Pakistan. The American public has been trained, with the tacit approval of our new President, to see Waziristan as the origin of 9/11. This takes care of any questions that might arise concerning the focus of the world’s mightiest, most technologically advanced and most expensive military on a remote strip of primeval herdsman. U.S. unmanned drone aircraft have been firing lethal missiles into villages in Waziristan for months.

The most high profile attack came just before the Democratic convention that nominated Obama. For the spin you could pick your national press. Our press was honest enough to report the claim that up to 40 men, women and children attending a bridal procession were killed, but it was not honest enough to follow up on the story, or to note Obama’s silence on the matter, which has continued into the first two weeks of his presidency. You can imagine the press accounts in the “rogue county” and “terrorist” press: “Forty men, women and children in wedding party killed by U.S. missile. No militants involved. U.S President says nothing. General American public not interested.” In this case, the Western press does not have to write a special versions of the story that leaves out the wedding procession deaths, replacing “women and children” with “terrorists.” Why not? Because the events are folded into the weave of world news in such a way that the public forgets the details.

This is easy enough to prove. Go up to one hundred adults in a public place in any American city, and ask them to tell you what they think of our policy of firing missiles at Waziristan. You’ll be lucky to get 5 people who can even describe it, let alone get into the element of civilian deaths. Of those 5 people, up to 5 will say that the people in Waziristan are planning the next 9/11. In defense of our citizenry, they are too busy wondering how they’ll be making a living in six months to follow the nuances of a far away war. This public distraction is carefully monitored, and policy is based on it.

The point of the Western attacks on “militants,” and of their attacks on us, is to engender hatred of “the other.” But what’s it for? Why would governments want to create hatred in this duplicitous fashion? George Orwell summed it up eloquently in “1984,” where the world’s large industrial states prop each other up like “sheaves of wheat” with unending, controlled conflict, including tactics like launching missile attacks against one’s own country, secretly using one’s own ships offshore, then blaming “the enemy” for the “unprovoked attack.” The purpose of the ongoing conflict in Orwell’s world is to distract people from the utter bankruptcy of their societies, the unemployment, the banality of life, the limited freedom of movement, the lack of vision and purpose.

Orwell’s “Big Brother” sought a dismal status quo. But one might add a far more frightful purpose for luring people into conflict: the desire for an actual war, with actual death and devastation. What would be the point? Control. Population reduction. Creation of new systems, both biological and economic. What a great science fiction novel this would make. But Henry Kissinger has already written the seeds into non-fiction, in “Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy,” written in the 50’s in his relatively more candid Harvard days. After detailing the potential horrors implicit in the most powerful atomic weapons, Kissinger concludes that there need to be “options less cataclysmic than a thermonuclear holocaust.” His solution? Elimination of nuclear weapons? Not quite.

He proposes the doctrine of “limited nuclear war” as a way of avoiding the “impotence of atomic stalemate.” Yes, he proposes that we have nuclear war, controlled through international agreements so that only pre-designated areas and, presumably, pre-designated populations would be blasted to smithereens. Kissinger’s book was said to have excited Nixon, who proclaimed after reading it that, “Kissinger is the man!” The book also earned Kissinger a parody in Stanley Kubrick’s character Dr. Strangelove in the eponymous movie.

Speaking for myself, I’d rather have a controlled nuclear war than an uncontrolled one. On the other hand, wouldn’t we be better off without any sort of nuclear war? I think, unless you’re in Dr. Strangeloves’s government shelter deep beneath the Rockies, where females, “selected for their beauty,” are stocked for production of the future uber-race, you’d likely opt for no kind of war at all.

How can people avoid such nefarious scenarios as outlined here? A little communication would help in this regard. And a little chutzpah. The future world should have at least a few communities that come to birth outside the parameters of a science-fiction/horror novel come true.

Killings: Protestors block Kabul-Kandahar highway

Killings: Protestors block Kabul-Kandahar highway

GHAZNI CITY (PAN): Demonstrators blocked Kabul-Kandahar Highway as they along local officials blamed foreign forces for killing civilians during operation in southern Ghazni province on Sunday. The Coalition forces however reported that they sought an individual near Kalakhel with strong ties to the Haqqani network and known to facilitate insurgents by providing mines, weapons and money. “When the coalition forces arrived at the intended compound they called out for the inhabitants to peacefully come outside. Women and children did come out after several calls and were safeguarded, but some people barricaded themselves inside the building. While making a forced entry into the building two individuals demonstrated hostile intent and were killed,” COL Greg Julian.added. “I will contact the Ministry of Interior to determine if a Joint Investigation is warranted because we take this seriously when allegations of civilian casualties are made. In contrast insurgents indiscriminately kill Afghan civilians like the suicide bomber in Kabul did this morning.” On the other hand a large number of local people blocked the main Kabul-Kandahar Highway during a demonstration protest against overnight operation held by coalition troops in the lawless Qarabagh district of the province for five hours early this morning, said the district police chief, Col. Safiullah. He told Pajhwok Afghan News the US-led soldiers have killed two civilians and wounded five others during an airstrike carried out in Kalakhel area of the district. Three women were also among the five wounded, he continued. “The American soldiers kill us and their dogs bite our children and women during their irresponsible operations,” said Abdul Baser, one of the protestors, adding the soldiers have bombed ordinary civilians who had no links with Taliban or al-Qaeda. The angry protestors led by tribal elders were chanting slogans against American soldiers, President Hamid Karzai and Afghan officials and rushed the victims to provincial capital to demonstrate in front of the governor house. Muhammad Qasim, another protestor informed this news agency Haji Abdul Qadoos and Abdul Rauf were killed in the overnight strike. Three children and two women received injuries during attack which also damaged seven mud houses of ordinary people, Qasim claimed. He added one of the wounded women was shifted to the provincial capital while the remaining was under treatment in the area. The coalition soldiers had also killed a former Jehadi commander and the district council chief of Urgon district in the neighbouring Paktika province late Friday night. Killing of civilians by foreign soldiers has recently increased. Over 15 ordinary people were killed by coalition soldiers in Tagab district of central Kapisa province over 16 days back. Another 18 civilians were killed in a similar air strike in Garoch area of Laghman province. The soldiers firstly said they had killed Taliban fighters, however, the soldiers later delivered over $40000 to family members of the victims after an investigation into the incidents. Another three civilians were perished in another overnight strike in Arghandab district of southern Kandahar province, but the US-led soldiers had claimed they eliminated four militants during the operation. President Hamid Karzai has many times condemned such sweeps.

Rival Afghans hold secret talks to end war

Rival Afghans hold secret talks to end war

Muhammad Tahir Khan

ISLAMABAD: Afghan factions have held second round of secret talks aimed at ending the conflict in the war-ravaged country, Afghan sources told The Frontier Post on Sunday. The Saudi King, Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, had hosted the first round in the Holy City of Makkah in September when he invited representatives of Taliban, Afghan government, some former Taliban leaders and representative of Hizb-e-Islami (Hekmatyar). Sources believe that the dialogue process has now extended to Europe as Ghairat Baheer, the representative of Hizb-e-Islami, who took part in the first round of dialogue, had been in London last month to interact with Britain-based Afghans. He was thought to have briefed the Afghan leaders in Britain and other European countries. A Hizb source does not rule out Baheer’s meeting with British authorities. He was of the opinion that the main purpose of talks in London was to include the Britain-based Afghans in the process. He said Ghairat Baheer had gone to London to discuss a Hezb formula for the solution of the Afghan issue. Afghans believe Ghairat Baheer was released from Bagram airbase, after four-year detention, by the Americans as part of a deal of the negotiation package. Taliban, Hizb-e-Islami, Afghan government and former Taliban leaders, now in Kabul under virtual control of the Karzai authorities, did not publicly confirm when approached. Observers are of the view that Britain thinks Hezb-e-Islami has a soft stand regarding the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan. It wants a timetable of withdrawal while Taliban wants a complete withdrawal before any negotiations. They had also denied reports about the first round held in Makkah in Ramazan when Saudi King had invited them. The Saudi media, which is under the government control, had also reported that talks had been held. The Saudi-owned daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat had quoted sources as confirming the talks. The paper reported that the talks were aimed at “stopping the violence”. The negotiators later moved on to Islamabad. The Afghan and Saudi authorities want to keep the process away from any media attention at this stage as the things are to be matured later and they would not disclose unless all sides reach any conclusion. “I was the guest of Saudi government. But there had been no talks,” a former senior Taliban leader said in an email reply. He was reluctant to offer more comments. The Frontier Post has learnt second round of talks were held in Saudi Arabia during Hajj, (in December), and shortly after the Hajj period. Mulla Zaeef confirmed to me that he was in Saudi Arabia. But he did not publicly confirm that any formal talks were held but said he was there for Umra but according to Saudi rules the Umra season has not yet started and it is expected next month. A Taliban source said on phone that from Taliban side the talks were attended by Syed Tayyeb Aga, former deputy to Mulla Omar, Mulla Jalil, the former deputy foreign minister during Taliban rule and Mulla Mutasim, in charge of political affairs of Taliban. The Afghan government team is believed to be led Abdul Qayyum Karzai, brother of President Hamid Karzai, who in his ‘Eid’ message had even invited Taliban supreme leader Mulla Omar to come to Kabul and assured him protection. Mr Karzai said he had asked King Abdullah to help broker a settlement with Taliban. According to sources the discussion period in the second round lasted more than a week in Saudi Arabia and those Afghan leaders who could not go for Hajj were invited immediately after Hajj to join those ‘special guests’ who were invited for pilgrimage. The role of Saudi Intelligence Chief, Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, to bring Taliban and the government to the negotiation table, is considered to be more important. Prince Muqrin travelled to Islamabad and Kabul in the second week of January to keep the dialogue process on. Sources say that Muqrin during his stay in Islamabad also discussed the issue with the government and those religious leaders who have influence on Taliban and Hekmatytar. He had met Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) and Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed. Fazl has strong ties with Taliban and Qazi with Hekmatyar. Afghan sources believe that the Saudis are trying to bring Taliban to the negotiation process at this stage but if they did not agree then the Saudis may try to convince some former Taliban leaders to form a bloc to push for peace talks with the Afghan government. According to sources Mulla Zaeef is playing a key role, although he publicly does not confirm it. Although there are no results coming out at the moment, the important thing is that the second round has also been held. And the dialogue process has now been extended to Europe. There is a strong perception that President Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif are facilitating the talks. The government has never confirmed it is playing any role. The dialogue process is getting boost and backing from some quarters, including NATO whose secretary general in his last month visit to Islamabad indicated that a purely military victory was not possible and there would have to be a negotiated end to the conflict. The grand ‘Loya Jirga’ in Kabul in August, 2007, had also decided to talk to ‘opponents’ a reference to Taliban and other opposition armed groups. The ‘jirga-gai’ (mini-council) in its meeting in Islamabad late last year re-affirmed the dialogue decision.

Iran Key to Afghanistan Peace: Experts

Iran Key to Afghanistan Peace: Experts

IslamOnline.net & News Agencies


“It is absolutely essential, you cannot stabilize Afghanistan without Iran,” says Rashid. (Google photo)

KABUL — Experts believe that Iran is more crucial for stabilizing Iran than any other country in the region, warning that continuing American animosity towards Tehran stands as a major stumbling block.“It is absolutely essential, you cannot stabilize Afghanistan without Iran,” Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani political analyst, told Reuters on Sunday, February 1.

With Afghanistan taking center stage in American foreign policy under the Obama administration, many see Iran as a key to any strategy to bring peace to its war-torn neighbor.

They believe that engaging the important regional player would be more helpful in improving the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan than any troop surge.

Obama, a long-time critic of predecessor George Bush’s focus on Iraq, intends to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan by next summer to control the spiraling violence.

The deployment, to double the number of US troops in the country, is expected to largely focus on the border with Pakistan.

“Pakistan has only been partially helpful in fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban,” argues Rashid, the author of a widely acclaimed book on the Taliban.

“Talking to Iran will put a lot more pressure on Pakistan and neighboring countries to cooperate with NATO and American forces in Afghanistan.”

Western calls for engaging Iran picked up steam recently, amid speculations that the Obama administration plans a regional strategy that will include Tehran as a key player.

Last month, Gen. David Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, said Afghanistan and Pakistan were now a singular problem that will require a strategy to involve the entire region, including Iran.

Germany, the third largest troop contributor in Afghanistan, has recently floated the idea of a “contact group” of nations to kick-start rapprochement with Iran.

Stumbling Animosity

Experts warn that the bitter rivalry between the US and Iran stands as a stumbling bloc in the way of engaging Tehran on Afghanistan.

Afghan officials admit that the growing animosity led the pro-Western Kabul government to keep Iran at arm’s length.

“As a whole Iran’s contribution has been constructive and positive, but there are some in Tehran who are still ambiguous about Afghanistan…because the US is here,” Davood Moradian, senior policy advisor at the Foreign Ministry, told Reuters.

“If the relationship between the US and Tehran stabilizes, things will be much better for us in Afghanistan.”

Tension between the two nations, which severed diplomatic ties three decades ago, soared over the past few years.

The Bush administration, which branded Iran as part of an “axis of evil” together with Iraq and North Korea, never ruled out a “military action,” against Tehran.

Analysts believe that using Afghanistan as the theatre for a proxy war is a tactic of both the US and Iran.

Rashid, the Pakistani analyst, says Tehran has stepped up support to dissident groups “not necessarily as political proxies — because clearly they don’t want the Taliban back — but as forces who could disrupt the US if there was going to be an attack on Iran”.

Trita Parsi, president of the Washington-based National Iranian-American Council, says if the US and Iran were to narrow their differences, Afghanistan would be much more stable.

“A lot of the countries in the region that have involuntarily become the battleground for US-Iranian rivalry can only benefit tremendously if that rivalry will transform into a more collaborative relationship.”

Conflict-resolution is the key

Conflict-resolution is the key

Monday, February 02, 2009
By by S Rahman
Years and years of animosity between Pakistan and India has made the one billion plus people of the subcontinent think in terms of peace. Isn’t it a strange equation: animosity leading to thinking in terms of peace? On the face of it, it appears to be an odd equation but it is not at all an oddity if evaluated objectively in the light of the actual facts surrounding Pakistan-India ties.

The point that is intended to be explained here is that almost 1.25 billion people of the subcontinent are fed up with wars and war hysteria. And whenever there is talk of war, whether from the military top brass or political top notches or from hawks in the media and other segments, the masses on both sides get perturbed given the fact that they have seen too much of strife in the region that has done no good to them other than aggravating their suffering and backwardness.

Some of the intelligentsia explain this situation in this manner. According to them only those people know the worth of peace more than anyone else who are all the time confronted with warlike situations. Take for example the particular case of Pakistan and India. The ties have never remained comfortable. The element of trust has been missing on most of the occasions.

Taking serious note of this ‘trust deficit situation’, the two countries initiated a number of CBMs (confidence-building measures) like bus service, efforts to revive mutual trade and cultural exchanges etc etc. These CBMs, however, owed, to some extent, also to the sincere endeavours of civil society and peace activists on both sides who did not slack even for a while to carry on their peace missions and Track II- type dialogues. Obviously, the sole, ultimate objective of all these endeavours has been to ensure peaceful co-existence.

This peaceful co-existence is the only way of bringing normalcy and sense of security, let alone prosperity, in the lives of the people who have suffered despite being blessed with immense potential and mental abilities that have been sacrificed on the altar of war and/or war hysteria.

Peaceful co-existence is the only answer to our problems that have plunged the subcontinent into an abyss of pall and gloom.

Certainly, it is a moment of distress for both Pakistan and India whose decision-makers and all other prominent segments worth the name ought to revive the CBMs with full vigour lest the present strife should take over sanity and mar the prospects of peace for a longer period of time. If that happens, it would eclipse all the development in which India takes pride calling itself an economic giant or tiger. As for Pakistan, it will be yet another tragedy added to its existing tragedies like the so-called war on terror as well as the skeptic, unreliable conduct of the influential states dominating the world scene.

Now, while talking of CBMs, the need for focusing attention on conflict-resolution has become more pronounced and compelling. President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani have already laid emphasis on conflict-resolution. Even the top world leaders of the West and other regions have started feeling the enhanced need for conflict-resolution between Pakistan and India.

For quite a lengthy period of time, the world leaders have been describing Kashmir as nuclear flashpoint. Then came the buffer period when this flashpoint view got sidetracked. Now, with the tension rising between the two countries in the wake of Mumbai attacks, world leaders including US President Barack Obama, have started re-suggesting resolution of Kashmir dispute.

What better recipe can anyone prescribe for lasting peace in the subcontinent, i.e better than conflict-resolution especially the resolution of Kashmir conflict, as also demanded, of late, by President Asif Ali Zardari.

The ball, however, lies in India’s court to do away with most of the root causes (and excuses) of terrorism in the subcontinent now that Pakistan is willing, as always, to revive CBMs and is also in the process of extending full-blown cooperation to India in Mumbai occurrence investigations on the basis of concrete evidence (if and when found). For sure, India has the main role to play in this whole scenario.

The best course for New Delhi is to give due consideration to Pakistani top leaderships’ oft-repeated demand for resolving the Kashmir dispute. New Delhi would be taking the peace process to a successful conclusion if it sheds the old rigid stance and starts giving acceptance to the opinion of Kashmiri people. The stress is on the opinion of Kashmiri people. There is nothing unacceptable in this suggestion because if anyone is suggesting to India to give some weight to the wishes and aspirations of the people of Kashmir, he is just going by the democratic principles acknowledged throughout the civilized world.

By all standards of international relations and on the basis of all yardsticks of sovereignty, the Kashmir conflict’s resolution need not be viewed as a victory-defeat situation, whether for Pakistan or for India.

Hoti quits cabinet, says ANP betrayed Pakhtuns

Hoti quits cabinet, says ANP betrayed Pakhtuns

“I quit cabinet due to military operation in Swat, Hangu and FATA,” he said, adding “Awami National Party has lost its control over the province and the masses are left at the mercy of terrorists.”

Hoti quits cabinet, says ANP betrayed Pakhtuns

Statesman Report, February 2, 2009

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Narcotics Control Nawabzada Khawaja Mohammad Khan Hoti alias Toti Khan on Sunday announced to quit the cabinet in protest over the Awami National Party’s (ANP) failure to honour its pledges made with the masses and leaving the people at the mercy of terrorists.

Addressing a packed press conference here, Khawaja Hoti said that ANP is responsible for the bloodshed of Pahktuns.

Hoti also complained that the problems of his constituency were not being taken into consideration, adding that even the provincial government did not take him into confidence in any matter of the province.

But Hoti said the decision of resignation was made in protest over poor law and order situation and rampant corruption in NWFP.

“I quit cabinet due to military operation in Swat, Hangu and FATA,” he said, adding “Awami National Party has lost its control over the province and the masses are left at the mercy of terrorists.”

Reacting to Hoti’s allegations, ANP’s central spokesperson Zahid Khan alleged that Khawaja Hoti had crossed the party lines so he should also give up the seat in the National Assembly.

Talking to media persons the ANP spokesman said: “We have the option to go to election commission if Hoti does not quit the National Assembly seat.”

The spokesman said ANP was a disciplined party and has sufficient rules and regulations to deal with such cases of violation of party discipline.

He said the resigned minister was a member of party’s all vital decision-making bodies. He never raised his concerns in party meetings.

Hoti has not yet conveyed the party about his resignation decision – verbally or in writing, Zahid said.

However Hoti denied the charges framed against him and said he never violated party norms and raised his voice against decisions in party he considered incorrect.

Hoti alleged that some elements of the party were hatching conspiracies against him in his constituency.

“False allegations are being levelled against me,” he said.

“I am ready to quit National Assembly if someone proves allegations against me”, he challenged.

that the problems of his constituency were also not being taken into consideration.

To a question he said: “I asked party chief Asfandyar Wali several times to take notice of the conspiracies against me but to no avail.”

Reply to a question, Hoti said although his son Omar Farooq has joined PML-N, however “I can not even think to leave ANP.”

“We failed to fulfil pledges which we made with the masses during elections campaign. “I would continue to raise voices for the people of my constituency in the National Assembly”, he concluded.

Swat suffers one of deadliest days: 64 killed

Swat suffers one of deadliest days: 64 killed

Food shortage hits the valley; hundreds of families migrate; Edhi suspends service as ambulance attacked.

From Fayyaz Zafar, Daily Statesman, February 2, 2009

MINGORA: In one of the deadliest days, women and children among 64 people were killed in troops shelling in different areas as security forces accelerated cannon fire against militants in the valley while people’s exodus continued as hundreds of people migrated from the restive areas on Sunday.

According to an ISPR press release 16 millitants were killed in the past 24 hours, however Taliban sources confirmed the death of only two militants.

A medical technician and a dispenser were killed and six other hurt including a driver by the firing on unknown persons on the four Edhi ambulances carrying wounded people from Charbagh.

After the incident the Edhi Foundation suspended the aid service in the area which added to the miseries of people.

The security forces, backed by gunship helicopters, pounded suspected militants hideouts in Charbagh on Saturday night till Sunday morning.

However the locals alleged the onslaught mostly targeted the civilian areas.

The security forces have stepped up operations against militants in Swat following the visit of Chief of the Army Staff Ashfaq Pervez Kayani to the valley. The forces targeted the hideouts of the militants with artillery shelling in Charbagh, Matta, Mangalor and Kabal areas, sources in the military told the Statesman.

Two militants were killed in clashes between security forces and militants in Matta.

At lease nine people were killed by the gunship helicopters shelling in Chamaktai, Khwazakhela while five of a family died in Mangalwar.

Five other people were perished in Jokai area due to gunships shelling, locals said.

At least 21 dead bodies, including children and women, were retrieved from houses in Shaikh Pallu area of tehsil Charbagh which was targeted by the security forces on Saturday night.

The dead bodies could not be taken from the area due to imposition of curfew.

A dead body was found in Hazara area of Kabal, while a man was killed in shelling at the hideouts of militants.

A police constable was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Rahimabad.

The security forces are advancing towards Charbagh and upper areas.

Several houses were demolished due to shelling of security forces in Dehri area.

“A total 64 people were reportedly killed across the valley in Sunday’s carnage, the deadliest since the operation launched in the valley,” people say.

According to officials and people at least 80 percent areas of the district are under curfew for the last nine days due to which people face acute shortage of daily use items.

“People are dying for food in the curfew areas, let aside medical assistance,” people who migrated to Mingora said.

Reportedly 300 children, aged between 5 to 8, are trapped in a madrassa in Manglawar, they said.

The exodus continued as dozens of families shifted from Charbagh and thousands of people have been displaced due to operation.

Witnesses said families using mountainous areas to reach Mingora and onward due imposition of curfew in most of the upper areas of the valley.

“Thousands of people have been migrated from the highland valley to other parts of the province in just two days,” official sources said.

Official figures show seven lakh people have already left the valley of 17 lakh population.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has projected that the situation in Swat valley and the tribal areas would aggravate during the year, causing a fresh displacement of up to 625,000 people.

According to the OCHA’s “humanitarian response plan”, the displacement would exacerbate an “already complex humanitarian situation”.

Population movements have been fluid and more constant in comparison with August; the conflict continues with no sign of abating.

The situation in Swat district was particularly alarming, with areas under militant control receiving very little or no assistance. Large portions of Swat district remain under curfew or inaccessible to aid agencies.

The OCHA has announced that an amount of $127 million will be required to assist newly displaced persons. With $29 million in funding available from original appeal for the Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan, this leaves an unmet requirement of $98 million for 2009, it explained in a statement.

In Swat district, fighting is on the rise with 50 per cent of its 1.8 million inhabitants affected by the conflict and a large number of individuals displaced, according to UN report.

Until now, 232,720 displaced people have been registered in nine districts of the NWFP.

Hamas is a global phenomenon

Hamas is a global phenomenon

Abid Ullah Jan

Most Muslims are Gazans to varying degrees and most ruling juntas, kings, elites and ‘democrats’ in Muslim world are acting like Fatah under Abbas.

The right to self-determination and self-rule through legitimate representatives is denied to Muslims in most of the Muslim world, just as it is denied to Gazans.

After US, UK, Israel and their allies successfully undermined Hamas government after it was popularly elected in 2006 free elections, most of the world is now coming to realization that Hamas has to be engaged and the Palestinians need a national unity government.
Fawaz A. Gerges writes in his column, “Hamas is a Mideast reality…” in Los Angeles Times (jan 31, 2009):

Despite its wooden and reactionary rhetoric, Hamas is a rational actor, a conclusion reached by former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy, who also served as Ariel Sharon’s national security advisor and who is certainly not an Israeli peacenik. The Hamas leadership has undergone a transformation “right under our very noses” by recognizing that “its ideological goal is not attainable and will not be in the foreseeable future,” Halevy wrote recently in Yedioth Ahronoth. His verdict is that Hamas is now ready and willing to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state within the temporary borders of 1967.

Even Toney Blair said the other day that Hamas must be brought into the peace process because the policy of isolating Gaza in the quest for a settlement will not work.

The extraordinary irony is that Jimmy Carter’s book and other evidence suggest that this is what Hamas itself has been pushing for, for two years now. It is Israel and its allies who have maintained solidarity as rejectionists only to keep the 18-years old “peace process” limited to being a process in the name only.

Exactly this is a global phenomenon. At the heart of political impasse between the colonizing and colonized world is an unholy alliance between imperialists – the globalist neo-cons and their Zionist, corporate terrorists – and autocrats in the colonized world; most importantly the Muslim world.

Just like the partnership between Israel and Fatah, in which Fatah is false presented as a voice of Palestinian “moderation,” all the autocratic regimes in the Muslim world are presented as “moderate’ allies. Fatah makes the same claim. How is it that a Palestinian national movement can claim its legitimacy not on the basis of its popularity but instead on its willingness to work with an Israeli government? On global scale, why is it so that those who are presented as Muslims ideologues, ‘Islamists” and ‘radicals’ – From Qutub to Maoududi and even Zawahiri – have no personal grievances against the West other than rejection of the colonialists’ support to unrepresentative and repressive regimes.

Just like Fatah, regimes in Saudi, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Algeria and elsewhere, have consistently resisted efforts at restoring local unity. Abbas’s Fatah is on the record of resisting efforts at Palestinian unity. The reason for all this is that the autocrats realize that in the process they will definitely lose power.

Therefore, it is easy for them to jump on the new propaganda bandwagon and declare all their opponents, ‘Islamists,’ ‘brotherhood,’ and al-Qaeda. What an easy escape have they been provided by those who are seeking global dominance and one world government. The problem for imperialists is: the more independent sovereign nations around the world, the harder their task. Therefore, to imperialists, the kings, sheikhs, puppet presidents and mercenary generals are like Fatah is to Israel.

Fatah fiercely clings to its role in the Palestinian Liberation Organization — which has long been internationally recognized as the sole representative of the Palestinian people — for the simple reason that it has been able to exclude Hamas from the organization. This gives legitimacy to Israel to carry on its propaganda of about an enemy continue a war along with prolonging pragmatic and just solution to the conflict.

In other Muslims states, suppression of legitimate movements for justice, freedom, equal rights and opportunities are presented as Al-qaeda or Al-qaeda inspired movements so as to give legitimacy to the repressive regimes’ crimes against humanity one the one hand and secure more imperialist for the autocratic regimes. Saudi Arabia is a good example. In the post 9/11 world, all opposition is presented as Al-qaeda, whereas the world knows there is a history of the Saudi regime’s repression and public resistance.

Imperial propaganda sometimes claims that ‘Islamists’ are opposing Saudi regime. Let’s agree this is true. The Question is: What do ‘Islamists” want in Saudi Arabia, which is the only regime in the world which is already implementing all possible strict injunctions of Sahriah? The propagandists won’t admit that Islam is not the issue. “Islamism” neither exists, nor is it the cause of unrest. Of course, some aggrieved parties and opposition forces will justify their resistance and action based on some Islamic injunctions. It is understandable and natural, but this is not the root cause.

The solution to the ongoing international problem is simple: On the occupied Palestine front, if the Quartet is really serious about fostering Palestinian unity, instead of merely looking for ways to coax Hamas into the “peace process”, it would be wise to stop supporting Fatah alone and put pressure on it by spelling out that everyone can see — and will stop pretending otherwise — that the solution lies in giving a people the right to self-determination and self-rule through legitimate and real representatives.

On the wider scale, there is not much hope but the imperialists must realize that their dream of global domination and a world government for that will not materialize without pushing the world into an unprecedented catastrophe, global wars, death and destruction.

To avoid this eventually, it is time to begin with the Muslim world and give people a chance to throw away the illegal, repressive regimes no matter how much the imperialists may consider them friendly allies. Political relevance of the kings, puppet presidents and military dictators has become limited to the CIA, Pentagon and the White House. In their respective countries their relevance is rapidly disappearing. For example, the mercenary army, busy butchering its people in Pakistan, can never establish what is called “government writ.”

It is not about writ. It is about mass acceptance, credibility and political relevance which such regimes have lost. Beyond this point, the imperialists can have Karzais and Malakis overseeing occupations, but they can’t have a peaceful world in which various states co-exist in peace and harmony for the prosperity of all human being regardless of their race, color and creed.


Comment from Project Humanbeingsfirst.org
February 1, 2009 at 11:49 AM

“but the imperialists must realize that their dream of global domination and a world government for that will not materialize without pushing the world into an unprecedented catastrophe, global wars, death and destruction.”

Imagine for a moment, a cabal which actually believes that this is what humanity needs at the moment. To thin out its exploding populations to about 20% of present levels, to go back to the more ‘lesser industrialized’ times, and that the vast earth has to be un-inhabited first in order to reconstruct a ‘better’ society from its ashes to be ruled by them.

Utopians have been the greatest cause of wars and pestilence upon humanity, and the distinction between killing all the dim-witted ‘untermensch’ to rebuild their preferred ‘ubermensch’ civilization, and just a dream, is only a nightmare.

If such tortuous thinking besieges the mind of such a misanthropic cabal as postulated here, then appeals don’t and can’t work. Only ending mankind’s voluntary servitude to such a cabal ever can.

And knowing their wondrous source of infinite power is the key to castrating them, as Delilah once did Samson. And learning from that lesson, the same defense as even been intellectually and physically engaged – to destroy all the world, including themselves, if their own destruction is ever realized!!

That aspiration for ending voluntary servitude to bring in the reign of a thousand years of justice in itself then becomes a counter dream of the new idealists who want to imagine a world – like the dog imagining an existence without dog fleas for everlasting scratch-free lazing about in the sun – and while the human mind can go a bit farther than a dog’s, such idealism is equally inimical to right action to end the reign of such a cabal.

We see that continually in monetary reformers continually dreaming the dog’s dream, when knowing fully well that it isn’t getting rid of all the fleas that’s importantant, but getting rid of the fleas ability to infest a host and take over its body that is. I.e., remove their power to coin and control money, and the fleas become cute furry creatures that the dog may grow fond off.

The upshot of it all is that we have to fight, to standup for what’s right, and appeals and dreams only hasten our demise. And we have to fight not with fisticuffs, but with the kind of mobilization and potency which Zbigniew Brzezinki was fearful of when he noted: “democracy is inimical to imperial mobilization”.

Zahir Ebrahim
Project Humanbeingsfirst.org

Comment from Bradley
February 2, 2009 at 6:01 AM

Excellent post that exposes the reality of the imperialist nations and their stooges. We need more people to talk more of the importance of people to be free and the right for them to have self determination

Comment from peter chamberlin
February 2, 2009 at 7:59 AM

These are beautiful words from my friends Abid and Zahir about the devil before us and the keys to the chains that bind us to the dreams/nightmares of the imperialist warlords. Like the fleas challenging the dog to find means of relief, the tribulation that God has sent us is a wake-up call, more than it is the end of time.
Resistance to the evil is the means of mankind’s salvation from the hell of lower existence (we are all Hamas, the ‘untermensch,’ or the “untouchables,” targeted in the sick plans of the warlords because we are considered to be “useless eaters”).
Every human being has to take a stand right now, for the sake of the earth and the human race. “Conspiracy theorists” are ridiculed for daring to point-out that there is an evil cabal of men who plot the takeover of the planet, albeit a planet thinned-out by war and disease. We are about to be proven either right or wrong by the next scheduled events on the world stage. For those willing to look at all the available evidence, the proof is there. The danger we have witnessed over the last few years is nothing compared to what awaits us. It is time to resist with the greatest weapon available to us, the truth. Find it. You too will realize that all of us must resist or witness the inception of a new dark era.

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Review Underway For Drone Attacks In Pakistan







Review Underway For Drone Attacks In Pakistan

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Morning Edition, February 2, 2009 · Since August, the United States has intensified an aerial offensive using unmanned drones in Pakistan’s lawless tribal regions. The Predators, usually armed with Hellfire missiles, are targeting al Qaida and the Taliban in western Pakistan, partly to stem cross-border attacks against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. But there is increasing concern that the U.S. could be dragged into a much wider conflict in Pakistan.

On Jan. 23, a few short days after President Obama took office, three missiles hit the village of Zharki in north Waziristan — a mountainous region in Pakistan’s tribal belt. Within hours, another missile strike was reported in South Waziristan.

According to Pakistani officials, at least 18 people were killed in the attacks, among them half a dozen foreign militants and their families. It’s widely believed the missiles were fired from U.S. drones circling high above western Pakistan.

“The fact that these drone attacks occurred in the first week of President Obama’s administration was seen as a surprise,” says Shuja Nawaz, the director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council and author of the book Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within.

Nawaz says Pakistan protested the drone attacks, but the attack “seemed to indicate a new resolve on the part of the U.S. administration and the military to use this weapon. They don’t want to give up that option, it seems.”

There have been more than 35 suspected U.S. missile strikes against Islamist militant sites inside Pakistan since August. At least 130 civilians have been killed so far — and that’s a conservative estimate.

The majority of those killed are believed to be militants, says Stephen Cohen of the Brookings Institution’s Foreign Policy Studies program. Cohen says with good intelligence, the drones are accurate.

“What they do is allow any country that possesses them to pinpoint a target without much collateral damage to specific sites,” he says.

While the drones conjure up images of a mechanical monster, they are in fact “far more effective and more humane than dropping tons of bombs on an area,” Cohen says.

The drones have been used occasionally in other countries, including Yemen and Somalia. But the use of the drones in Pakistan is sustained and shows no sign of letting up. The attacks violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Retired Army Col. Andrew Bacevich, a professor of history and international affairs at Boston University, says the U.S. needs to admit it’s opened another front and another war.

“This is a war that is mostly conducted by remote control, unmanned aerial vehicles launching missiles at targets on the ground,” Bacevich says. “But it is a war … that deserves very critical scrutiny by the new administration.”

Bacevich says there’s been very little debate or dialogue about the growing U.S. military offensive in Pakistan — whether in Congress, in the public realm or the UN. For the most part, the aerial attacks on Pakistan’s soil are still seen as an appendage to the Afghan conflict, rather than an independent issue.

Seth Jones, a South Asia expert at the Rand Corporation, says while the Pakistan government may publicly protest the attacks, it has given its tacit blessing primarily because it also wants to put down the militancy.

“Most of these attacks have been done with cooperation from Pakistani authorities in the national security establishment, — the military, especially the army, as well as the intelligence service,” Jones says.

When Congress passed the Use of Military Force resolution in September 2001, it authorized the U.S. to go into any area to attack the nations or people involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Brookings Institution’s Cohen says the U.S. isn’t attacking Pakistan per se; it’s attacking militant bases in a lawless area. Cohen says the Pakistan government is incapable of exercising sovereignty over the tribal region.

“It’s open territory. And under international law, ungoverned territories … can be subject to attack,” he says.

Some analysts say the problem is the longer the U.S. continues its military action in Pakistan — using Predators — the greater the chances of becoming embroiled in a much broader conflict in Pakistan.

Nawaz, with the Atlantic Council, says militants have already started moving from the remote border region into more built-up areas of Pakistan.

“What would happen when the next drone attack occurs on a city or a town or a village inside the Northwest Frontier province? Or inside central or southern Punjab? What then?” Nawaz asks.

Drone attacks in the more densely populated areas of Pakistan could result in a greater civilian death toll, which in turn could produce a backlash and undermine the nuclear-armed nation’s fledgling government.

The Rand Corporation’s Jones says the drones may be helpful in a short-term, tactical sense. “But in the long run, they need to be supplemented by much broader, longer-term activities to clear hold and build in these areas,” he says.

Analysts say there are a couple of high-level reviews about a Pakistan strategy underway. Until they’re completed, they say it’s likely the drone attacks will continue apace.


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peter  chamberlin (peterchamberlin)

peter chamberlin (peterchamberlin) wrote:

The Predator attacks and support for local militant groups are two elements of counter-insurgency strategy which amount to no more than simple terrorism, by anyone’s definition. Like the callous bombing of wedding parties in Afghanistan, drones firing Hellfire missiles into homes and religious schools are a formula for disaster, unless your ultimate goals are overthrowing the civilian government of Pakistan and its Army. Like the Israeli bombing of shelters full of innocent civilians (about half children), these are clearly war crimes that should be addressed in the United Nations and World Court. For more info, see:


Monday, February 02, 2009 7:02:37 AM

Hero’s welcome for Turkish leader after Davos walkout

Protesters carrying Turkish flags waiting for the arrival of Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey, at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul on Friday. (Osman Orsal/Reuters) See Hero’s welcome for Turkish leader after Davos walkout

Hero’s welcome for Turkish leader after Davos walkout

Sebnem Arsu and Katrin Bennhold – International Herald Tribune January 30, 2009

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan flew home to a hero’s welcome on Friday after walking off the stage following an angry exchange over the Gaza war with the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The episode Thursday had all the overtones of a diplomatic incident, ruffling relations between Israel and a Muslim ally that is playing a key role in Middle East peace efforts.

The semiofficial Anatolian News Agency reported that Peres called Erdogan five minutes after the walkout in Davos to apologize for any misunderstanding, saying that his remarks about Israel’s Gaza offensive had not been directed at the prime minister personally. In Jerusalem, a spokeswoman for Peres, Meital Jaslovitz, described the telephone conversation as “positive.” But, she said on Friday, there was no apology from Peres, contrary to the Turkish news agency report.

Erdogan did not seem apologetic, either.

“I only know that I’m responsible for protecting the honor of the Turkish Republic, the Turkish nation from A to Z,” Erdogan said as he returned to Istanbul. “I am not a leader of a tribe. I am the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey. I do whatever I need to, so I did it, and will continue to do so. This is my character. This is my identity.”

“It was a matter of my country’s respect and prestige. Therefore, my attitude should have been clear,” he said. “I couldn’t have allowed anyone to hurt the prestige and especially the honor of my country.”

Live television footage showed crowds waving Palestinian and Turkish flags at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport while chanting slogans in support of the prime minister. Banners proclaimed Erdogan the “delegate of the oppressed” and said: “Let the world see a proper prime minister.” The passions reflected widespread anger over the Gaza war in Turkey, a secular nation whose population is mostly Muslim.

The incident came just days before President Obama’s new Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, had planned to visit Turkey to discuss regional peace efforts as part of a tour of several countries. However, on Friday, a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, speaking in return for customary anonymity under diplomatic rules, said the visit had been postponed because of “severe scheduling constraints.” The decision to put off the visit was made before the altercation in Davos, the spokesperson said.

In Davos, Erdogan apparently became incensed after the moderator curtailed his response to remarks by Peres on the recent Israeli military campaign. The panel was running late, and Peres was to have had the last word, participants said.

Panel discussions at Davos are restricted to one hour, but Erdogan insisted on responding to Peres. Red-faced, and with one hand grasping the arm of the moderator, the columnist David Ignatius of The Washington Post, Erdogan turned to the Israeli president.

“Mr. Peres, you are older than me,” he said. “Your voice comes out in a very high tone. And the high tone of your voice has to do with a guilty conscience. My voice, however, will not come out in the same tone.”

Resisting efforts by Ignatius to end the session, Erdogan continued, saying to Peres, “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.”

Eventually, the prime minister gathered up his papers and departed, saying, “And so Davos is over for me from now on.”

Peres pointed at the departing Erdogan and said Turkey would have reacted as Israel did had rockets been falling on Istanbul, participants said.

In a news conference immediately after the panel discussion, Erdogan said he was particularly upset with Ignatius, who he said had failed to direct a balanced and impartial panel.

By all accounts, the discussion of the Gaza offensive was lively, with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations and Amr Moussa, the Arab League’s secretary general, joining Peres and Erdogan. Participants said Peres was mostly alone in defending Israel’s role in Gaza, and for that reason he was given the final 25 minutes to speak. Earlier, Erdogan spoke for 12 minutes about the Palestinians’ sufferings.

Although Erdogan has strongly criticized Israel’s Gaza offensive, his country and Israel have long enjoyed close diplomatic relations. With its strong relations with the militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party has played a growing role mediating among Israel, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians.

Katrin Bennhold reported from Davos, Switzerland, and Sebnem Arsu from Istanbul. Alan Cowell contributed from Paris.

Global Financial Crises and Hugo Chavez

Global Financial Crises and Hugo Chavez

Abdul Basit

The Financial Crises that has gripped the globe resulting in the growing unemployment, poverty and hunger that will further aggravate during the coming months and years have created great uncertainty. While the global political and financial leaders and the media and establishment that support them, are groping in darkness about the solution to overcome this crises that has gripped the world community, it is futile to maintain expectation on the ability of these leaders to retrieve the situation as they themselves are the basic reason for this crises. This has been proven during the just concluded World Economic Forum meeting in Davos where empty discussions and debates was held, that lacked any concrete ideas to fix this crisis. The Davos Forum failed to find any answer and they stressed more about the problems instead of finding solutions.

The current crises is due to the wrong policies that were hitherto pursued by the so-called dominant leaders led by the United States and its allies, whose aim was to serve the corporate military establishment instead of addressing the crises as a whole. Most of the efforts of these leaders were to bailout the banks and corporate that paid huge bonuses and incentives to its executive at the expense of the taxpayers and common people. This is because the capitalist and consumerist policies pursued by these nations relied heavily on these financial institutions, corporations and Stock Exchanges. The recent ILO report has predicted a frightening scenario in which 51 million more jobs could be lost by the end of 2009, leading to a 7.1 percent global unemployment rate and those who manage to keep a job, earnings and other conditions of employment will deteriorate.

The world has been continuously deceived by theses leaders and we have repeatedly fallen into the same trap again and again.  After the disastrous eight years of Bush administration, the world is looking forward to the Barack Obama, who might either be one of the highly sophisticated among the these traps or an initial source of future change. The coming months and years will provide the answer.

What Do We Require from the Leadership?

To this point, the arrogant and exploitative policies of the world’s sole superpower and its allies at least temporarily benefited them and their allies. But since the last two years after the financial crises and the climatic crises that have engulfed the world, these leaders and nations can no longer continue these arrogant policies as they have also started facing the brunt of their policies that earlier ruined third world countries.

We cannot solve the impending crises with the existing leadership that is part of the problem and is more interested in igniting new conflicts, instead of solving the existing financial and existential issues that are haunting the humanity as a whole.

While searching for new leadership and new solution to overcome the serious financial consequences, we must discard the current economic and financial system and terminologies associated with it as it has only brought sufferings to humanity. We must also discard the ideological confines and arrogance and open minds and hearts to formulate the new route that we have to take to rescue the humanity from the current crises and for building a better future.

While criticizing the current leadership and their short sighted and arrogant policies, taking into consideration the dire consequences that we are about to face in the coming years, it is important to understand what kind of leadership is required and what are the policies to be implemented to overcome the serious challenges. Some of the immediate measures that the world requires to take to face the challenges are as follows:

1) With the global financial collapse and the ensuing bankruptcy and shut down of many corporations and companies that will result in job cuts and unemployment, we will face growing poverty, hunger and homelessness. This consecutively will result in financial and economic breakdown, social evils, crimes, chaos and civil wars. In order to prevent this situation, it is essential that the governments take necessary steps by taking over and controlling the public distribution system and other essential and life sustaining services and ensuring the smooth distribution of basic essential items including food to all sections of the society to prevent further deterioration and civil strife that may follow. This is also essential taking into consideration the depleting food stocks and the growing population.

2) With the collapse of the neoliberal economic and financial system that the current administration is trying to save with all its efforts, the ‘other’ leadership must formulate and implement alternative sustainable economic policies that will ensure equitable distribution of the limited and depleting resources and ensuring environmentally compliant, agrarian economic system as a replacement to exploitative, consumerist and polluted capitalist system. This includes conversion from a financial to a humanistic economy and implementing an interest free banking system. The localisation of economies by building self sustaining cooperatives and ensuring self sufficiency at the grassroots level is one of the basic ingredients to ride over the crises and for building a sustainable society.

3) The great disparities and injustice between nations and resulting exploitation and oppressions has led to the conflicts and social chaos. The depleting resources and the financial collapse will further aggravate these crises. In order to prevent future conflicts and to bring justice to all nations and all strata of the society, we need a global leadership that is above narrow confines and ensure justice for all especially the oppressed and the downtrodden. Resistance, mass movements and civil disobedience have to be organized against the existing establishment representing the capitalist- corporate-military axis and their   neoliberal capitalist policies.  Resistance should also be organized against the arrogant imperialist foreign policies of these nations pursue and the resulting exploitation, injustice and brutality that is imposed on the people of other nations by them.

4) Addressing and implementing policies to counter the threat of climate change that has resulted in huge natural upheavals, melting glaciers, rising sea level, extinction of variety of species and depleting agricultural yield.

Is there any leader of distinction and stature among the present statesmen who can lead the world to overcome the dire situation that we have got ourselves into?

The ‘Other’ Leadership

Taking into account the current leadership and their negative performance, it is natural that we make an in-depth analysis about the ‘other’ leaders who are accused by the dominant media and regimes as ‘tyrants’ and ‘dictators’. Although many leaders come to our mind, the most prominent among them are Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Ahmedinejad of Iran..etc. In this article we will look into the policies pursued by the one among them namely Hugo Chavez, an icon of resistance against Imperialists and oppressors. In order to understand his leadership, it is important to assess the progress and change he has brought in Venezuela during the last 10 years of rule.

Hugo Chavez  of Venezuela

Hugo Rafael Chavez Frías who came to power in Venezuela as the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution (popular democracy, economic independence, equitable distribution of revenues, and an end to corruption – in Venezuela) and promoting  democratic socialism and Latin American Integration is a strong critic of neolibralism, globalization and the imperialist foreign policy of United States and its allies.

The eventful and tumultuous  rule of Chavez who got elected President of Venezuela, in 1998 and re-elected in 2000 and 2006 implemented many Bolivarian Missions that was successful in combating  disease, illiteracy, malnutrition, poverty, and other social ills. He also successfully initiated several reforms aimed at improving the social welfare of his people including land transfer program, a free government funded health care system and free education up to the University level. These reforms helped in lowering the infant mortality rates by 18% between 1998 and 2006, reduced inflation by 12.3% with improved economic growth and increased enrolment in primary school enrolment of millions of students. In 2003 and 2004, Chavez launched a number of social and economic campaigns as he struggled to maintain popular support including Mission Robinson, Mission Sucre and Mission Ribas (for providing free education for millions of Venezuelans), Mission Guaicaipuro (to protect the livelihood, religion, land, culture and rights of Venezuela’s indigenous peoples), Mission Vuelta al Campo and Mission Barrio Adentro (constructing, funding and refurbishing secondary and tertiary public health care facilities and construction of thousands of free medical clinics for the poor), Mission Arbol (an environmental program of reforestation) and Mission Mirinda that established a National Militia. He also enacted food and housing subsidies. In 2008, 62.9% of Venezuelans have bought subsidized food from the Food Market Network (Mercal). He has also formed 100,000 cooperatives during the past few years that are the centrepiece of President Hugo Chavez’s new socialist model to create jobs and redistribute this oil-rich country’s wealth. The government offers cooperatives exemption from all taxes as well as interest-free loans. The movement is changing the nature of Venezuelan society, putting quality of life and “solidarity” above the profit motive. Due to his reforms, family income among the poorest stratum grew more than 150% between 2003 and 2006. According to official sources, the percentage of people below the national poverty line has decreased significantly during the Chavez years, from 48.1% in 2002 to 12.3% in 2007. Since 1999, 2.7 million Venezuelans no longer are impoverished, 437,000 in 2008 alone; extreme poverty stood at 42% earlier in the 1990s; today it’s 9.1%. The government earmarked 44.6% of the 2007 budget for social investment, with 1999-2007 averaging 12.8% of GDP. GDP growth rates were 18% in 2004, 9% in 2005 and 9.6% in the first half of 2006, with the private sector growing at a 10.3% clip. In March 2006 the Communal Council Law was approved, whereby communities that decide to organize themselves into a council can be given official state recognition and access to federal funds and loans for community projects. This skips the local and state governments that are perceived as corrupt. From 2004 to the first half of 2006, non-petroleum sectors of the economy showed growth rates greater than 10%.  Datos reports real income grew by 137% between 2003 and Q1 2006. Unemployment dropped by 7 %. The World Bank calculated a 10% drop in poverty.

He attained all these progress in the midst of constant threat, coup attempts (including a failed attempt to overthrow him in April 2002), assassination attempts general strikes and lockouts conducted by the corporates and the elite with the support of foreign masters. In return for the conspiracy hatched by the Superpower to overthrow his government, he responded by initiating a program to provide cheaper heating fuel for low-income families in several areas of the US. The program was expanded in September 2006 to include four of New York’s five boroughs, earmarking 25 million gallons of fuel for low-income New York residents at 40% off the wholesale market price. That quantity provides enough fuel to heat 70,000 apartments, covering 200,000 New Yorkers, for the entire winter. Chavez also offered heating oil to poor, remote villages in Alaska. In 2007, Chavez signed a deal with Ken Livingstone, the then Mayor of London for a similar program

Chavez placed greater emphasis on alternative economic development and international trade models, and organized the countries of Latin America against neoliberal model of economic development and supported these countries in the form of extremely ambitious hemisphere-wide international aid agreements. . On April 30, 2007 Chavez announced that Venezuela would be formally pulling out of the IMF and the World Bank, having paid off its debts of around $3 Billion five years ahead of schedule and so saving US $8 million. Chavez then announced the creation of a regional bank, the Bank of the South, and said that the IMF and the World Bank were in crisis. Chavez has acted against the Washington Consensus by supporting alternative models of economic development, and has advocated cooperation among the world’s poor nations, especially those in Latin America.

Hugo Chavez took an unrelenting stand against the American hegemony and the brutalities shown by the Zionists and the Imperialists. The recent expulsion of Israeli Ambassador from Venezuela and the breaking of ties with Israel for the genocide against people Gaza were much appreciated throughout the world. He has remained a symbol of resistance against the brutalities and oppression and has been the voice of the downtrodden and the oppressed. In a famous speech that was received with wide applause in UN on 20th September 2006 in which he called the former US President as the ‘devil’, he strongly attacked the US policies and its current pattern of domination, exploitation and plunder of the peoples of the world. Due to his strong stand against the brutalities of Imperialists and Zionists, he has been considered a hero of the oppressed throughout the world including Middle East. During the brutal attack on Gaza by the Zionists,  Deputy of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hamas Government, Dr. Ahmed Yousef send an open letter to Hugo Chavez in which he stated that “Throughout history, in a just conflict, there always emerges a champion, a single hero who, by his actions, embodies all the virtues the masses aspire to. You have demonstrated that you are such a man”.

South America Shows The Way

Hugo Chavez along with his counterparts namely Eva Morales of Bolivia and President Rafael Correa of Ecuador and counterparts in Argentine Paraguay and Brazil has together been challenging the superpower next door and its neoliberal and imperialist policies. They have also been providing an alternative economic model for the global economy that is infected by financial recession. The recent World Social Forum that was held in the Brazilian city of Belem as an alternative to World Economic Forum being held Davos with the theme ‘another world is possible’, was well received with the presence of leaders from most of the South American presidents to promote Latin America as a model for global economic development and co-operation. In this conference Hugo Chavez strongly criticized the global capitalist system for the current financial mess. He quoted that “In Davos the world that is dying is meeting, here the world that is being born is meeting.”, a true portrayal of the failing capitalist system and a desire for new world.

Venezuelans will be participating in a referendum on February 15th to vote on whether he can contest for elections when he completes his second term of office in 2013. Whether he wins the referendum or not, he has already taken his place in history as a great leader who courageously fought the seemingly omnipotent imperialists and their allies and at the same time brought progress and sustainable prosperity to his people by eradicating poverty through equitable distribution of wealth.

Congratulations…Hugo Chavez. We Salute you.

US/Pakistan Showdown/Throwdown July12

Bush Obama

By: Peter Chamberlin

Obama has begun the tedious work of separating himself from the failed policies of his predecessor. He has halted pending Bush regulations and executive orders and reversed CIA policies on torture and secret prisons. If the President was sincere in his interview with Al-Arabiya, about wanting to assure Muslims that “Americans are not your enemy,” then he must be willing to reexamine all elements of the rogue agency’s terror war, especially the more controversial elements of it.

If President Obama really seeks a fresh start with the Muslim world –establishing a humane new foreign policy for the United States to guide us to an acceptable conclusion of the war– then he must make a visible clean break with all the failed Bush policies. A fresh start with Pakistan, our most important ally in the terror war, would begin by ending CIA Predator strikes and cutting-off all support for their gangs of criminals and terrorists who now plague the country. The illegal CIA actions extend far beyond the widely known abductions and torture, to far more sinister dark programs of abductions and murderous attacks which are indistinguishable from “terrorism.” Obama should understand what most every citizen of Pakistan understands, that the CIA is the source of most of the “terror” that comes out of that region. The CIA is also the source of the terror that our soldiers fight against.

The Bush presidency was an aberration, a deviation from our historical path. Undoing the many mistakes that have been made will represent a long overdue repudiation of a wrong response to a violent attack by, as yet, undetermined organizations. This cannot be avoided or sugar-coated. The United States treated the 911 attack as an opportunity to plunder, in effect, declaring war upon the world because of a militant organization with deep roots in the CIA. The spy agency proceeded to shape the forthcoming military actions by US and coalition forces, setting into motion the plan for total world conquest that Cheney had been carrying-around since 1992. Obama must demolish this war plan and begin the process of rebuilding the destruction left in its wake.

The repercussions from the illegal CIA torture and prison programs have reverberated throughout the world, turning all free-thinking individuals against us. Covert operations in Afghanistan and Iraq to enlist local gangs and tribal militias actually fuel the greater wars, serving to amplify natural anger at American brutality, driving the opposition and guaranteeing a never-ending supply of resisters to our war plans. Other CIA actions, such as “targeted assassinations” using Predator drones and the creation of new terrorist groups such as “Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan” (TTP), completes the repertoire of crimes and double-crosses which fuel the militant movements involved in fighting against American troops. Reining-in the CIA’s war-making authority completely is the first and most important step towards ending this war or establishing a saner more moral foreign policy.

The CIA program for victory through the maximum abuse of human rights is patterned after the Israeli Mossad model of counter-terrorism which has failed so miserably in Palestine, Lebanon and throughout the Arab world. The Israeli model is based on intimidation through the merciless application of technological superiority, creating a state of permanent conflict in the process. There is no room for “peace” in this version of “counter-terrorism.” One need only look as far as the destruction and suffering inflicted upon Gaza to understand where the Israeli war-fighting policies (abduction, torture, targeted assassinations, walls and waves of genocidal fury) inevitably lead.

We have joined the Israelis in the club of pariah nations because of our inhumane attacks upon Muslim civilians and those by our proxy forces, making us outcasts who vainly seek allies to salvage our losing battles. If Obama insists on following Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Olmert down this road, then he is marking himself as a moral equal to those mental midgets.

If Obama is serious about finishing the wars, he will not continue the invasion of Pakistan that Bush began with last July’s order to escalate covert actions in the Frontier region. The evidence so far speaks volumes about Obama’s plans for our unfortunate ally.

MIRANSHAH, Pakistan (AFP) – Missiles fired from suspected US drones on Friday slammed into presumed militant dens in Pakistan killing 15 people, including three children and at least four civilians, officials said.

The strikes, which pulverized two houses in the northwest tribal belt, were the first since US President Barack Obama took office and one day after he appointed a brand new special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan…

The town, a known Taliban and Al Qaeda hub, is also the main stomping ground of Maulvi Nazir, a key Taliban commander accused by the United States of recruiting and sending fighters to Afghanistan to attack US and NATO forces.”

The secret war in Pakistan, referred to euphemistically as the “counter-insurgency,” is an immoral series of criminal actions. The counter-insurgency is indistinguishable from other “terrorism.” Pakistani civilians and Army personnel are attacked with Predator drones and by groups of CIA-sponsored terrorists (called “neo-Taliban”), in order to terrorize the targeted areas, while the Pakistani Army carries-out a US-induced war in the north, sowing even more terror and creating floods of refugees. The effect is a populace that besieges its own government, seeking relief.

The most visible manifestation of this secret war upon our trusty ally is the ongoing Predator airstrikes in FATA. The new administration is currently trying to ignore the issue by refusing to comment.

Both VP Biden and the new White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs have refused to comment on the Obama-ordered airstrikes.

The only thing new about the Obama position is this blatant attempt to hide administration intentions in the “war on terror” behind this challenge to First Amendment rights of the free press to report vital truths to the American people. Truth cannot be denied by simple edict or by dismissals from high officials in the age of the Internet. The foreign press is providing grist to American reporters who are brave enough to ask the relevant questions. The reporters in the two press conferences were seeking clarification about the attacks based on the foreign press reports.

The big problem with studying foreign media is in learning to get past the national filters, to get past the clarifying lenses of the national character that shapes each report, in order to understand the facts contained therein. This has probably never been truer than it is in reading the foreign press reports on the Predator attacks in Pakistan. Consider the following report on the target of Obama’s Predator attack from Dawn:

“Khalil Dawar was reported to be associated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan of Baitullah Mehsud.”

It may be understandable that a reporter for a local newspaper like Dawn would not understand who’s who in the local militancy and confuse Maulvi Nazir and Baitullah Mehsud, or fear to report the truth in the dangerous Frontier region, but for the military intelligence of the world’s only superpower to consistently mistake known enemies is inexcusably shoddy spymanship, or worse, sheer deception. What does this say about the American/Western media that promotes the fiction that our forces are attacking “public enemy number one” in Pakistan, afraid to do a reporter’s job and ask the question—why are Predators targeting his enemies instead?

Most of the recent Predator attacks in Pakistan have been in South Waziristan against Maulvi Nazir’s forces. Why are the Western media and subservient Pakistani press outlets reporting that these attacks are upon Mehsud’s rivals? That is the question that Obama’s White House must answer. Why carry-on with the failed Bush policies that have squandered the war that was nearly won?

Baitullah Mehsud is “public enemy number one.” According to Army investigators, he is considered to be responsible for 75-80% of all suicide bombers in Pakistan and has been implicated in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the bombing of the Islamabad Marriott.

baitullah-mehsud_04 baitullah-mehsud_12Baitullah Mehsud

Approximately 12,000 civilians and 200 security forces have died in Pakistani Army operations against Mehsud and his allies in Swat and Bajaur, while killing only 75 “neo-Taliban” in the process. Curiously, the United States has sent no Predators to attack him or allied militant leaders since Bush proclaimed the Frontier region to be the new “third front” in the terror war, not even when Pakistan provided the exact coordinates for Mehsud.

Brigadier Mahmood Shah, who served as secretary of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and chief of security until 2005, says Mehsud is unimpressive. brig-mahmood-shah2Brig. Mahmood Shah,

“He is not much of a man, inconsistent government policy has made him so important. I don’t think people respect him because they think that all their troubles are because of him.”

“He is very clever, he is very cool-minded, he is very calculating. He is not a jumpy character.”

Shah believes that Mehsud has been able to rule over fellow tribesmen who are sick of conflict through a campaign of intimidation.

Baitullah has built his reputation as a powerful warlord by building on the work of his predecessor, distant cousin, Abdullah Mehsud. An early veteran of Guantanamo’s torture and indoctrination program, Abdullah was mysteriously released back onto the battlefield in early 2004, where he somehow managed to immediately muster a small army of well-equipped Afghan and Uzbek mercenaries (“neo-Taliban”) around him. He moved back to Pakistan and began serving American/”al Qaida” interests by kidnapping Chinese engineers working in FATA. Because of the military heat that Abdullah’s actions brought down on the region, the real Taliban leadership in Afghanistan rebuked him, forcing him to turn-over command of his “new Taliban” force to Baitullah. He returned to the fight in Afghanistan in shame.

According to defense analyst Hassan Abbas:

Baitullah Mahsud, the most powerful pro-Taliban commander in that area, is unlikely to play the kind of role played by Maulvi Nazeer. He was publicly blamed by President Musharraf for sending fighters to Afghanistan against US-led coalition forces, and warned him to desist from the practice.”

Baitullah came into conflict with neighboring Waziri warlord Nazir because of Sharia-enforcing attacks that were being carried-out by his Uzbek “al Qaida” forces under Mehsud’s command. The foreigners under his command appear to be the “al Qaida” forces that the US insists it is seeking to eliminate in FATA.

Pakistan Militant Leader Maulvi Nazir

After laying down his arms in the 2004 amnesty program, Nazir became Pakistan’s great hope in 2006. He is an ally of the Pakistani government and has helped it by evicting Uzbek militants from his territory around Wana. He failed to fill the role that the Army had anticipated for him by refusing to lead further attacks on “al Qaida” forces outside of his home turf. The Army had hoped to replicate the “Sunni awakening” anti-Qaida movement from Anbar province in Iraq. All the elements were in place, Sharia enforcers, terrorist attacks, Sunni militants, military support; only one thing was missing, tribal division. Unlike the tribal situation in Iraq, the Pashtuns are one people, with very tight familial loyalties.

Even though Nazir did not step into the leadership of the counter-insurgency, the pattern he had set, of tribal self-defenders forming tribal lashkars to confront foreign troublemakers has been somewhat effective at bringing peace and order to parts of their wild land.

“The organizers of these lashkars were further discouraged when the Taliban began targeting all those tribal elders who had been part of the militias. Since then, more than 300 tribal elders have been killed in targeted killings in the tribal belt alongside the Afghanistan border, stretching from South Waziristan to the Bajaur area (Aaj TV, October 28).”

Nazir’s great mistake was in challenging Baitullah Mehsud’s “neo-Taliban” Uzbek forces in South Waziristan and by extension, the powerful forces who sponsor him. Was it Maulvi’s attacks upon the fake “Taliban” that put him in the CIA’s sights, or was it his willingness to make peace with the Army?


Other than Nazir, only Jalaluddin Haqqani in North Waziristan has come under CIA Predator attack since last summer. Both men share a common guilt for having opted for peace with the Pakistani government. The other thing that these two warlords have in common is that each of them occupies land on the Pakistani side situated in the headlands of one of only two mountain passes that lead into south-eastern Afghanistan. The US has judged people as terrorists simply because militants pass through their neighbourhoods, once again, following the Israeli model of scapegoating entire populations for events beyond their control.

Pakistan has been set-up as the “fall guy,” the all-purpose excuse for the failed war in Afghanistan. Afghanistan was lost because of the foolish decisions made by the previous administration. Obama cannot win this war with an Iraqi-type surge; he can only add to the death and the destruction of the nation that so many people have invested so much in its survival over the past thirty years. Pakistan has been a faithful and steadfast ally through the entire thirty year “war on terror.” It is time to end this war by reaching across the borders and calming the beast that we have together unleashed.

If Obama is serious about all the reassuring things that he has said, then he will stop the terror and turn the money saved into reconstruction funds. He will stop offensive actions on both sides of the Durand Line and place the troops in defensive positions at the mouths of the handful of mountain passes which slope down into Afghanistan. If the Taliban choose to mount an offensive against these defensive positions then they will meet the full force of combined US/Pakistani forces, with all available satellites and attack drones focused on the real leaders of the false “Taliban” by the Pakistani Army. Instead of accepting the will of Pakistan and maintaining a defensive posture along the border (guarding the Afghan side of the narrow passes more efficiently to eliminate the infiltration into Afghanistan), we prefer a bloodier more simple solution.

Haqqani is an old veteran of the Soviet war and an old friend of the CIA. At the beginning of the current Afghan war he made a peace offer to his old friends, only to witness the kidnapping of his brother Ibrahim by US Special Forces, under pressure from another local warlord rival, Pacha Khan Zadran.


Zadran is a powerful Pashtun leader, who bears a grudge against Pakistan over an arrest and against the US for killing one of his sons and sending another one (plus a brother and a neighbour) to Guantanamo. Even though he was somehow elected to the Afghan legislature in 2005, Zadran is considered by US forces to be a troublemaker, known for setting-off fire fights with local rivals and setting-up illegal checkpoints on local highways to extort money from truckers. If the US Army “intelligence” squelched the rapprochement with Haqqani on Zadran’s word, then their motives are even more foolish, or more sinister than those of the CIA.

Haqqani was targeted because he too, like Maulvi Nazir, dared to express an interest in peace negotiations, instead of fighting against us. The Predator and terror attacks are psywar experiments in the strategy of tension, part of the diabolical plan to destabilize Pakistan.

The covert war plan began to fall-apart on June 11, 2008, when the TTP forces of Baitullah Mehsud staged a preemptive attack on US Special Forces who were attempting to set-up a secret command post near the Pakistani Frontier Scout outpost at Gora Prai. The US forces called in a Predator airstrike which killed 11 Pakistani soldiers.

One month later, on July 11, unidentified coalition forces fired up to sixty mortar rounds into Angoor Adda, South Waziristan. The turning point in US/Pakistan relations came the next day on July 12, 2008, when military and intelligence officials from both governments sat down in Rawalpindi to confront their counterparts with proof that the other side was supporting terrorism in the area. Pakistan did their best to get US technical assistance:

The top US military commander and the CIA official were also asked why the CIA-run predator and the US military did not swing into action when they were provided the exact location of Baitullah Mehsud, Pakistan’s enemy number one and the mastermind of almost every suicide operation against the Pakistan Army and the ISI since June 2006.

One such precise piece of information was made available to the CIA on May 24 when Baitullah Mehsud drove to a remote South Waziristan mountain post in his Toyota Land Cruiser to address the press and returned back to his safe abode.”

The US side made another serious error that day by presenting “evidence” from an Indian source of Pakistani involvement in the Jul 7, 2008 bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.

On July 13, the day after the fateful meeting, over 200 militants attacked a US outpost, Forward Operating Base Blessing, in a battle near Wanat, Afghanistan, killing 9 US soldiers. After that “the gloves came off” and a series of cross-border incidents took place, culminating on September 3 in a Special Forces helicopter assault of Angoor Adda in South Waziristan, killing 20 Pakistani citizens. On Sept. 25, Army forces fired on the next helicopters to enter the area.

Since the day of confrontation, all CIA Predator attacks have been against the peace-seeking Pashtun leaders of North and South Waziristan, not against the forces allied with Baitullah Mehsud, even though TTP’s actions in the north had just embarrassed the US, extracting a heavy toll on US forces. Making new enemies in the terror war seems to be so much more important to American commanders than dealing decisively with the hardcore killers who terrorize Pakistan. It is much easier to point fingers of blame than to admit our own errors.

The biggest error in the Afghan conflict has been Pentagon/CIA insistence that the Pashtuns in Pakistan are all guilty of providing material support to terrorists, Taliban, or “al Qaida.” Taliban commander Zabihullah Mujahid set the record straight when he denied to a reporter from Dawn that the Taliban had expelled Baitullah Mehsud, separating themselves from the actions of his TTP:

“Baitullah is a Pakistani and we as the Afghan Taliban have nothing to do with his appointment or his expulsion. We did not appoint him and we have not expelled him,”

“We do not support any militant activity and operation in Pakistan,”


Why Americans Won’t Get It

Why Americans Won’t Get It


One of the most misunderstood questions surrounding the Palestine conflict is why Americans won’t get that their seemingly unconditional support for Israel is morally wrong. The one and only politically correct explanation is the power of America’s “Christian Zionist” churches, but that’s just a malicious lie. Those Israel-loving churches are only a factor in the Republican Party, whereas blind support for Israel is at least as common amongst Democrats. Blaming Christian churches for America’s immoral support of the Jews-only state is just adding insult to injury.

I won’t spend much time on the reasons why Evangelists are so supportive of the Zionist entity. One big factor certainly is their dependence on the Jewish dominated media. Another, the financial support Evangelist churches are receiving from Jewish donors. Rev. Ted Pike is probably right when he accuses those churches of being a creation of Mossad.

Far less politically correct, but increasingly acceptable amongst ‘enlightened’ Americans, is to blame America’s pro-Israel bias on the power of the “pro-Israel lobby”. And just like the previous excuse with the Christian Talibans, it’s just another self-serving lie. If America’s politically elite wanted to, it could eliminate the likes of AIPAC on the grounds that they are creating a conflict of interest amongst U.S. politicians in favour of a foreign power. The fact that this does not happen goes to show that America’s politicians WANT to bend over for the Jews.

The Holocaust factor

One idiotic argument Israeli apologists always come up with is, “I know what Israel is doing is wrong, but given the Jewish experience during the Nazi Holocaust, it’s understandable.” That’s like saying it’s okay to be a paedophile if you have been molested as a child. The standard explanation for this nonsense comes from Jewish dissidents such as Finkelstein. They go to extreme length to tell us how Jewish groups are systematically abusing the Judeo-Bolshevik Holocaust narrative to extort money and effectively immunise the Zionist entity against any criticism. The point Finkelstein is unfortunately omitting is why those Jewish groups are being allowed to get away with it. He also fails to explain why the ‘Holocaust industry’ is being allowed to destroy anyone questioning the veracity of the Holocaust narrative. Isn’t it obvious that a story that cannot be questionned without becoming a social lepar, committing career suicide and – in many countries – even being imprisoned, is most likely a hoax?

The fact that Israel and her lobby have been getting away with their nonsense for so long indicates that the Holocaust factor is just another dishonest excuse for America’s blind Israel support. Someone who gets raped with the threat of a gun that’s obviously fake is either stupid or WANTS to be raped.

The same by the way applies to the other Jewish Wunderwaffe, directly related to the Jewish Holocaust™: the threat of being ostracised as an anti-Semite. America’s political elite could easily thwart off any accusations of being anti-Semitic and justify an end to all support for the Zionist entity, by informing the American public of Israel’s sins. The fact that they fail to do so only goes to show that they WANT to give in to Jewish pressure.

Americans are neither stupid nor hypocrites

The true reason why most Americans give in so willingly to Jewish bullying is that they are neither stupid nor hypocrites. They are just shameless, selfish, arrogant bastards. Why shouldn’t the Israelis be allowed to do to the Palestinians what the European settlers did to the native American tribes? By admitting that what the Israelis are doing is morally wrong, Americans would also admit that what the Europeans did to the American tribes was as bad and open the floodgates to native land and compensation claims.

If it was wrong for European Jews to take away Palestinian land, it’s equally wrong for European Christians to do the same with America’s native tribes. They did exactly what the Israelis are now doing to the Palestinians. They starved and poisoned them. They systematically destroyed the economic foundations of their existence. They outnumbered them and pushed them back with waves and waves of new immigrants. They bribed and blackmailed their leaders. Or they provoked them to hostilities to have an excuse to disproportionially retaliate. They even supplied them with the weapons and paid them to attack.

That’s the real reason why Americans have no sympathy for the Palestinian resistance. Hamas and Hezbollah are doing exactly what the native American tribes should have done. If Pocahontas’ father had known what was going to happen to his people, he would have killed every single white man, woman and child who ever set foot on American soil. In this clash between civilisations there are no civilians. The Palestinian resistance has the right and duty to kill as many Israelis as it takes for the rest of them to pack and leave for good. Not many Americans will be able to accept that.

Andrew Winkler is the founder and editor/publisher of dissident blog ZioPedia.org and independent news site RebelNews.org. You can read more of his writings in the editorial section of ZioPedia.org. Andrew can be contacted on andrew@therebel.org

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Source: ZioPedia.org