American Resistance To Empire

Islamic militancy is a foreign policy tool of the US and Pakistani establishments


Islamic militancy is a foreign policy tool of the US

and Pakistani establishments

By Yousuf Nazar

Admiral Mike Mullen (first from left), the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Pervez Kayani (third from the left) and next to him, the ISI Chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha (then Major. Gen. and Director General Military Operations) aboard the US naval carrier Abraham Lincoln in Indian Ocean; in a secret meeting on August 26, 2008. Pasha was promoted to the rank  of  Lt. Gen. and appointed as the head of the Inter-Services Intelligence on Sept. 29, 2008.                                            –_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Who stands to gain the most from the Mumbai attacks?

The Pakistani media was quick to dismiss Indian allegations about the complicity of elements from Pakistan in Mumbai attacks. Some channels even carried stories that there was no Aslam Amir in Faridkot, only to contradict themselves later. We need to reflect upon the whole paradigm of ‘terrorism’. For this purpose, it is essential to to take a holistic view including examination of some important and critical events since 9/11, US’s strategic interests in the Middle East and Central Asia, the relationship between the US and Pakistan authorities, and the murky nature of CIA’s involvement with the so-called Islamic militants.

In Pakistan, there are two extreme viewpoints. One view sees things through a conspiracy paradigm where India-US-Israel nexus is out to destroy Pakistan and Pakistani establishment is an innocent bystander. The other view sees fundamentalism as purely a home grown issue that has gone out of control. There are elements of truth in both the views. But the reality, as always, is far more complex.

It has been made more complex due to the fact there is big money involved on both the sides. The Americans have poured money into so-called Pakistani think-tanks and media groups. Some of these think-tanks have clear and identifiable linkages to those run by neocons or are indirectly funded by the US. Their views are given platforms by large and respected groups such as DAWN and GEO TV without bothering to make disclosures about conflict of interest; a standard practice.

Some of the so-called funadamentalists enjoy cosy relationship with the Arab kingdoms and the Pakistani intelligence agencies. These agencies are very close to the CIA and the Pentagon.

Hence, the exponential increase in militancy and terrorist attacks in Pakistan since 2004 cannot be analysed in isolation from the role of the establishment, the US policies, and the biggest ever [ongoing] covert operations of the CIA since the end of the Afghan war in 1989.

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Tickled To Death!

CIA HAS BEEN TICKLING PEOPLE TO DEATH FOR YEARSBy: Peter ChamberlinMichael Hayden said the clandestine agency is using Predator missile attacks to tickle enemy groups, to provoke a reaction.We use military operations to excite the enemy, prompting him to respond.The agency director was jokingly referring to the policy of committing multiple mass-murders of innocent citizens of Pakistan, as a tactic for provoking retaliation by their relatives.http://therearenosunglasses.wordpress…Category: Science & Technology

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Mike Vickers Author of Anti-Soviet Strategy Now Plots the “Take-Over-the-World Plan”


Sorry, Charlie. This Is Michael Vickers’s War.


By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 28, 2007; A19

Defense officials once jokingly described Michael Vickers as being in charge of the “take-over-the-world plan.”

In the Pentagon’s newly expanded Special Operations office, a suite of sterile gray cubicles on the “C” ring of the third floor, Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael G. Vickers is working to implement the U.S. military’s highest-priority plan: a global campaign against terrorism that reaches far beyond Iraq and Afghanistan.

The wide-ranging plan details the targeting of al-Qaeda-affiliated networks around the world and explores how the United States should retaliate in case of another major terrorist attack. The most critical aspect of the plan, Vickers said in a recent interview, involves U.S. Special Operations forces working through foreign partners to uproot and fight terrorist groups.Vickers’s job also spans the modernization of nuclear forces for deterrence and retaliation, and the retooling of conventional forces to combat terrorism — a portfolio so expansive that he and some Pentagon officials once jokingly referred to his efforts as the “take-over-the-world plan,” one official said.

Vickers, a former Green Beret and CIA operative, was the principal strategist for the biggest covert program in CIA history: the paramilitary operation that drove the Soviet army out of Afghanistan in the 1980s. The movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” released last weekend, portrays Vickers in that role, in which he directed an insurgent force of 150,000 Afghan fighters and controlled an annual budget of more than $2 billion in current dollars.Today, as the top Pentagon adviser on counterterrorism strategy, Vickers exudes the same assurance about defeating terrorist groups as he did as a 31-year-old CIA paramilitary officer assigned to Afghanistan, where he convinced superiors that with the right strategy and weapons, the ragtag Afghan insurgents could win. “I am just as confident or more confident we can prevail in the war on terror,” Vickers, 54, said in a recent interview, looking cerebral behind thick glasses but with an energy and build reminiscent of the high school quarterback he once was. “Not a lot of people thought we could drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan.”

Vickers joined the Pentagon in July to oversee the 54,000-strong Special Operations Command (Socom), based in Tampa, which is growing faster than any other part of the U.S. military. Socom’s budget has doubled in recent years, to $6 billion for 2008, and the command is to add 13,000 troops to its ranks by 2011.

Senior Pentagon and military officials regard Vickers as a rarity — a skilled strategist who is both creative and pragmatic. “He tends to think like a gangster,” said Jim Thomas, a former senior defense planner who worked with Vickers. “He can understand trends then change the rules of the game so they are advantageous for your side.”

Vickers’s outlook was shaped in the CIA and Special Forces, which he joined off the street through a “direct enlistment” program in 1973. In the 10th Special Forces Group, he trained year-round for a guerrilla war against the Soviet Union. One scenario he prepared for: to parachute into enemy territory with a small nuclear weapon strapped to his leg, and then position it to halt the Red Army.

Vickers recalled that the nuclear devices did not seem that small, “particularly when you are in an aircraft with one of them or it is attached to your body.” Was it a suicide mission? “I certainly hoped not,” Vickers said.

An expert in martial arts, parachuting and weapons, and second in his class at Officer Candidate School, Vickers was also fluent in Czech and Spanish, which made him overqualified when he joined the CIA’s paramilitary unit in 1983. Soon after, he received a citation for combat in Grenada.

But Vickers’s greatest influence was in the clinically precise way he reassessed the potential of Afghan guerrilla forces and prescribed the right mix of weaponry to attack Soviet weaknesses. This brash plan to create a force of “techno-guerrillas” able to fight year-round called for exponentially more money, which through sheer force of logic Vickers was able to obtain.

Today Vickers’s plan to build a global counterterrorist network is no less ambitious. The plan is focused on a list of 20 “high-priority” countries, with Pakistan posing a central preoccupation for Vickers, who said al-Qaeda sanctuaries in the country’s western tribal areas are a serious threat to the United States. The list also includes Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the Philippines, Yemen, Somalia and Iran, and Vickers hints that some European countries could be on it. Beyond that, the plan covers another 29 “priority” countries, as well as “other countries” that Vickers does not name.

“It’s not just the Middle East. It’s not just the developing world. It’s not just nondemocratic countries — it’s a global problem,” he said. “Threats can emanate from Denmark, the United Kingdom, you name it.”

The plan deploys a variety of elite troops around the world, including about 80 to 90 12-man teams of Army Special Forces soldiers who are skilled in foreign languages and at working with indigenous forces. Today, those forces are heavily concentrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, but as their numbers grow, they will increase their presence in other countries.

“The war on terror is fundamentally an indirect war. . . . It’s a war of partners . . . but it also is a bit of the war in the shadows, either because of political sensitivity or the problem of finding terrorists,” Vickers said. “That’s why the Central Intelligence Agency is so important . . . and our Special Operations forces play a large role.”

Vickers is pressing Congress to double “train and equip” funding from levels approved in recent years for the military. The funds, which total $325 million for fiscal 2007, allow the U.S. military and Special Operations forces to pay indigenous fighters and paramilitaries who work with them in gathering intelligence, hunting terrorists, fomenting guerrilla warfare or putting down an insurgency.

The funds are “very important . . . so we can move rather rapidly to train and equip foreign security forces” and more will be needed, Vickers told senators at his confirmation hearing in July. “If you don’t have close cooperation, you can’t fight the war,” he said later.

But while local forces can be far more effective in countering terrorism in their regions, creating the forces must be done carefully, said Thomas, the former defense planner. “The last thing we want to do is create a bunch of right-wing goon squads that go out and shoot jihadists with very little legitimacy.”

Vickers is also arguing for billions of dollars in new technology: specialized stealthy aircraft able to fly over countries undetected, unmanned aerial vehicles and other equipment for distant and close-up surveillance, and technology to “tag” and “track” individuals and cars for long distances over time.

Finally, Vickers seeks authority for more flexible and rapid “detailing” that would allow Special Operations forces, in larger numbers, to be seconded to the CIA and allowed to work under agency rules.

“It’s striking to see how quickly he moves through large amounts of information” and then gives guidance how to get things done, said Kalev Sepp, deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations, who works under Vickers. “He knows the key players on Capitol Hill. . . . He understands what level of general officer has to be contacted to make decisions,” Sepp said.

But with just over one year left in the Bush administration, Vickers is impatient with bureaucratic infighting within the military and between the Pentagon and other agencies, current and former officials said. One official noted that it took Socom about three years to write the counterterrorism plan, and two years for the administration to approve a classified “execute order” against al-Qaeda.

Vickers, who has advised President Bush on Iraq strategy, is convinced that more U.S. troops are not enough to solve the conflict in Iraq and that working with local forces is the best long-term strategy for both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Its imperative that the Iraqis provide . . . security, so transitioning to an indirect approach is critical,” he said. “The surge has been phenomenally effective . . . but not sufficient,” he said, adding that he thinks that without political change the effects of the troop buildup “will dissipate.”

Working with proxy forces will also enable the United States to extend and sustain its influence, something it failed to do in Afghanistan, he said. “After this great victory and after a million Afghans died, we basically exited that region and Afghanistan just spun into chaos,” he said.

“It’s imperative that we not do that again,” he said.

Counterterrorism Mastermind Vickers Addresses Israeli-American Lobby On Terror War

Building the Global Counterterrorism Network

Featuring Michael Vickers
November 4, 2008

On October 24, 2008, Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Vickers addressed a Policy Forum luncheon at The Washington Institute as part of the Institute’s 2007-2008 counterterrorism lecture series. The U.S. Senate confirmed Mr. Vickers as assistant secretary of defense (special operations/low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities) on July 23, 2007. The following is a rapporteur’s summary of his remarks.

Although much work still remains on the counterterrorism front, the past seven years have seen notable achievements. The Philippines and the area of Southeast Asia referred to as the “terrorist transit triangle” have seen considerable success against Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah. In the Middle East, the tide turned against al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula in 2003, and al-Qaeda in Iraq is now only “a whisper of what it used to be.” Moreover, although there have been many plots, no attacks have occurred on the U.S. homeland since September 11, 2001.

The threat, however, remains significant. Al-Qaeda has demonstrated an ability to regenerate, and its ambitions remain high. The group aims to catalyze an Islamist insurgency, break up and prevent the formation of international coalitions arrayed against it, exhaust and expel the West from Muslim lands, overthrow “illegitimate states,” establish a caliphate, and transform the international balance of power in favor of this new Islamic polity.

In Iraq, the situation has improved, but General Petraeus and others have pointed out that the durability of the past year’s dramatic change is difficult to measure, though the signs are pointing in the right direction. In Afghanistan, the insurgency has intensified over the past two years, and the international community faces a growing challenge to prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists and a source of instability.

The tribal areas of western Pakistan remain the most significant strategic threat, and the problem has escalated over the past decade. In late 2001 al-Qaeda’s senior leaders fled Afghanistan after the successful U.S. operation there and managed to align themselves with local Pakistani groups in this unsettled region. These groups have become more militant as a result and now present an internal threat to Pakistan’s government; in the past year, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have declared open war on the country. Not only is this threat serious for Pakistan, it poses an immense challenge to international strategy and stability in the region and beyond.

Furthermore, the United States faces challenges in the Horn of Africa, Somalia, Yemen, the Levant, and the Maghreb — all areas that al-Qaeda targets strategically. The threat remains global, emanating not just from traditional Muslim lands but also from the United Kingdom and other parts of Western Europe. In fact, we have seen just as many or more threats emerging from Europe over the past decade as we have seen emanating from the greater Middle East.

The long-term strategic challenge of the war on terror is dealing with a threat that has spread across the globe to some sixty countries. We can take either a direct approach, applying power ourselves as primary actors, or an indirect approach, working through others whom we advise, train, and enable. A clandestine component is also imperative, as this is primarily an intelligence war, or a “war in the shadows.” Our intelligence disciplines are therefore essential — particularly covert action, which was the decisive instrument of the Cold War and remains critical to the war on terror today.

Above all, the critical operational instrument of this war is what we describe as a global counterterrorism network. This network’s purpose is to create a persistent, ubiquitous presence in many countries that prevents adversaries from gaining traction and gradually smothers them over time. Ultimately, it takes a network to defeat a network. It is not enough to have a strong partner in one or more countries; we must be stronger than our adversaries everywhere. The principal operational element of this network is the intelligence community, which gives us our global reach and allows us to move at the speed of war.

In particular, the national clandestine service of the Central Intelligence Agency, in conjunction with U.S. Special Forces and the security apparatuses of our partners around the world, is central in this battle. Special Operations Forces have grown tremendously in the Department of Defense in recent years. By the end of the decade, the forces will be twice as large (reaching upwards of 64,000 in terms of total manpower) than they were at its outset, with more than double the original budget. In addition, more senior leaders will have special-operations backgrounds.

The core of U.S. Special Forces consists of approximately 15,000 ground operators, ranging from Army Special Forces and Green Berets to Rangers, Seals, Marine Corps Special Operations, and other classified units. Each of these elements has increased its capacity by a third since 2001, constituting the largest growth in Special Operations history. These forces are present in sixty countries around the globe, with more than 80 percent concentrated in the greater Middle East, the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, particularly Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus, we are expanding our force significantly to achieve broader global coverage.

These forces have invented a new way to fight the war on terror, waging it from an operational perspective and taking a proactive and sustained approach to counterterrorism. We now have intelligence-driven operations, with new tactics, techniques, and procedures — the cumulative effect of which will enable us to take down a network over time.

Gaps, however, still exist in the areas of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. We need to increase capacity in civil affairs and psychological operations, and we are also taking steps to acquire foreign-language expertise, in part by recruiting foreign-born operators. Additional organizational reform may also be in order, such as greater integration and consolidation, as exemplified by the Department of Homeland Security. We are looking at alternative command arrangements within the Department of Defense as well as mainstreaming Special Operations officers into senior leadership positions. We have the necessary institutions, but we must now focus on getting the right people and ensure that that they receive the necessary resources and authority.

Some of our current capabilities, capacities, and relationships predate the September 11 attacks, some have been significantly expanded since then, and others will reach the projected end state by the end of the next administration. There will likely be a need for more integration as we go forward, and we must operate simultaneously in countries with whom we are not at war. Thus, partner development and partner alignment remain critical issues, making diplomacy essential to achieving our goals. The pieces are gradually coming into place as we gain more experience and enhance our ability to build and develop a far more capable network. We are well on our way to building a global counterterrorism network — the critical instrument for keeping America safe through the next decade and beyond.

This rapporteur’s summary was prepared by Sana Mahmood.

American Secret Force based in Afghanistan includes Naval Units: Army Times USA

American Secret Force based in Afghanistan includes Naval Units: Army Times USA

From Army Times, USA

Critics: Afghanistan plan takes SF from usual training mission

By Sean D. Naylor – Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Dec 23, 2008 13:30:19 EST

Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ announcement of a plan to deploy an additional three brigades of combat troops to Afghanistan by the summer has superseded a contentious debate that pitted the Bush administration’s “war czar” against the special operations hierarchy over the National Security Council’s proposed near-term “surge” of special operations forces to Afghanistan, a Pentagon military official said.

The NSC proposal, which grew out of its Afghan strategy review, recommended an increase of “about another battalion’s worth” of troops to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force- Afghanistan, or CJSOTF-A, said a field-grade Special Forces officer, who added that this would enlarge the task force by about a third.

There are two major special operations task forces in Afghanistan: CJSOTF-A, which is the “white,” or unclassified, task force and is organized around a Special Forces group headquarters with two SF battalions and Marine special operations and Navy SEAL elements; and a “black” special operations task force with a headquarters element drawn from the secretive Joint Special Operations Command overseeing elements of Navy Special Warfare Development Group, also known as SEAL Team 6, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

Several sources said that the “SOF surge” proposal originated with Lt. Gen. Doug Lute, whose official title is assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan policy and implementation, but who is often referred to as the “war czar.” The rationale behind deploying more special ops forces to Afghanistan was that any decision to deploy more conventional brigades to Afghanistan would take several months at a minimum to implement, whereas special ops units could be sent much more quickly, the field-grade Special Forces officer said.

The deployment of additional Special Forces A-teams, the 12-man units also known as operational detachments-alpha, or ODAs, “became the sine qua non” that the Bush administration was taking immediate action to reverse negative trends in the Afghan war, the Pentagon military official said.

“During this NSC review, my understanding was the most contentious issue was whether to arm the tribes,” a Defense Department civilian official said. “Lute had been pushing this idea of a lot more white SOF working specifically with the tribes.”

However, the proposal sparked a fierce high-level debate, with special operations officers charging that Lute and his colleagues were trying to micromanage the movement of individual Special Forces A-teams from inside the Beltway, and countercharges that Special Forces has strayed from its traditional mission of raising and training indigenous forces and become too focused on direct-action missions to kill or capture enemies.

“Four or five weeks ago, this was fairly contentious,” the Pentagon military official said. But the combination of Gates’ announcement of the plan to send an additional 20,000 troops to Afghanistan — which will include a significant special ops contingent — and the impending presidential transition has rendered the debate “stillborn,” the military official said.

Most major special operations commands were opposed to the proposal, special operations sources said. The sources identified U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command and the office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, Low-Intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities Michael Vickers as all resisting the initiative.

Lute declined to be interviewed through a representative, and spokesmen for SOCOM and Vickers’ office adopted a similar stance.

“It would be inappropriate for USSOCOM to comment on what may or may not be an ongoing policy discussion,” SOCOM spokesman Ken McGraw said. “It’s pre-decisional, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about it until it’s officially released,” Defense Department spokesman Cmdr. Bob Mehal, who handles media queries for Vickers, said with regard to the NSC review.

Special operations sources said that those opposing the “SOF surge” were generally against the idea on two grounds: that the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, has not requested them, and that the CJSOTF-A does not have enough “enablers” — such as helicopters and intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance assets — to support the forces it has in country now, let alone another battalion’s worth.

“This is being driven out of Washington, D.C., not requested by General McKiernan or by [U.S. Central Command],” a senior special operations staff officer said. “People in Washington, General Lute and those guys … want to micromanage the employment of individual ODAs. Is that really the right thing to do? Who are the guys in Washington to order the deployment of more forces if the theater commander has not asked for them and has no strategy to employ them? The next thing, those same guys in D.C. are going to be picking [high-value targets] for these guys to go after.”

A spokesman for McKiernan did not return a call seeking comment. An administration official denied that Lute was trying to interfere with the theater commander’s prerogatives.

“The requirements for forces are generated from the field, not generated from Washington,” the administration official said, adding that the NSC considered “all sorts of options” in putting together its strategic review for Afghanistan.

But the field-grade Special Forces officer said that the requests for forces generated by commanders in Afghanistan do not seem to comport to any overall plan for the theater. “Commanders are asking for what they think they can get, rather than what they need,” he said.

However, the field-grade SF officer acknowledged that the NSC proposal had run up against stiff opposition among the special ops brass. “SOCOM, USASOC, [USASOC commander Lt. Gen. John] Mulholland, ASD SO/LIC [i.e., Vickers’ office] are saying, ‘We’re not going to put more [forces] in until you give us dedicated enablers,’” he said. In addition to more helicopters and ISR assets, such as Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, the enablers sought by the special operations headquarters include “more dedicated forward operating bases, more money for [Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles], the whole package,” he added.

The short supply of helicopters in Afghanistan has been a constant problem for conventional forces and CJSOTF-A. Unlike the Joint Special Operations Command task force, which is directly supported by elements of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, “white” Special Forces groups do not have their own dedicated aviation units and have to compete for helicopter support with the rest of the U.S. and allied force in Afghanistan. But CJSOTF-A is commanded by a colonel, whereas the other organizations are all commanded by flag officers. “They’re left begging black SOF — the 160th — or begging conventional [forces] — the 101st Airborne — and who’s going to lose in that fight?” the field-grade Special Forces officer said.

However, a special ops surge would still benefit Afghanistan, said the field-grade SF officer, a proponent of the surge initiative. “The bottom line is even ODAs or [Marine Special Operations Command units] or Navy SEALs that are less enabled will make parts of Afghanistan better off if they’re doing full-spectrum counterinsurgency than those parts of Afghanistan that have nothing at all,” he said.

The Pentagon military official said that the planned deployment of an additional 20,000 U.S. troops, including three brigade combat teams, to Afghanistan would also include a lot of “enablers” that the special operations forces could use. “When you start building in BCTs … you get a lot of stuff that the SOF guys can fall in on,” the military official said. The Pentagon plan includes more helicopters being sent to Afghanistan, as well as the possibility of a one-star special operations flag officer to command “white” SOF forces in country, which would obviate the need to have “O-6s arm wrestling with O-7s and O-9s,” he said, referring to the paygrades for colonels, brigadier generals and lieutenant generals, respectively.

A field-grade officer in Washington who has been tracking the debate said that the “white” SOF leaders’ argument that their forces need more ISR assets and helicopters is a reflection of how Special Forces has veered away from its traditional mission of “foreign internal defense” — training host nation forces to conduct counterinsurgency — in favor of the more glamorous direct-action missions.

“Lute would say that’s a symptom of the problem,” the field-grade officer in Washington said regarding the insistence by some SF officers that the task force needs more ISR assets and helicopters before it can accommodate more troops. “You don’t need ISR and rotary-wing aviation if you’re training indigenous forces. You only need those things if you’re doing direct action.”

Lute thinks that special operations forces, particularly Special Forces, “are the right force” to send to Afghanistan because of their skills at teaching foreign internal defense, the field-grade officer in Washington said. “He seems to remember that once upon a time, SOF did something like that. Last we checked, their principal mission is raising and training indigenous forces.”

This might explain the special operations hierarchy’s opposition to Lute’s surge proposal, the field grade officer in Washington said. “This is an implict criticism of what SOF has done for the last five years,” he said. “They haven’t been training indigenous forces. That may be what SOCOM is objecting to, is it’s implicitly a critique of SOF’s over-fascination with direct action.”

He noted that Special Forces A-teams in Afghanistan are partnered with Afghan commando units, not regular Afghan National Army battalions. “The CJSOTF may think that ODAs are too good to work with conventional forces, [so] they only work with SOF-like forces,” he said.

The senior special operations staff officer acknowledged that SF A-teams in Afghanistan do not routinely partner with conventional Afghan units, but said some of the blame lies with the way the coalition mission in Afghanistan is structured. “The real question is, are all Special Forces in Afghanistan sufficiently postured with Afghan forces? And the answer is no,” he said. “The problem is that the advisory mission is separate from the SF mission. That’s the fundamental problem with Afghanistan.” As a result, he said, “Our ODAs are not being effectively employed.”

Under the Defense Department plan for Afghanistan, Army brigade combat teams and Marine regimental combat teams would be responsible for “mentoring” Afghan National Army units, but “white” special operations forces would also have a role, according to the Pentagon military official. “White SOF can come in and focus on the much harder nuts … the tougher missions,” he said, adding that he was not referring necessarily to “kinetic” operations, but to training missions at more remote locations.

“The framework is going to look a lot more like the framework did in Iraq over the last couple of years,” the Pentagon military official said.

Part of the debate over the feasibility of a special operations surge revolves around the perception by some surge proponents that special operations leaders are not making as many of their forces available as they might. “Lute, for a long time, has been talking about his deeply held belief from his time as the J-3 [director of operations on the Joint Staff] that the SOF are withholding a lot of their assets in order to preserve their op tempo and their retention numbers,” said the field-grade officer in Washington who has been following the debate.

Special Forces’ deployment ratio was 1 to 0.8, he said, meaning that for every day the average SF soldier spent deployed, he spent 0.8 of a day at home. “That’s not even 1 to 1,” the senior special operations staff officer said. “The guys are deployed more than they are home.”

This claim was flatly rejected by the senior special operations staff officer.

Of 288 A-teams in the five active-duty Special Forces groups — there are also two National Guard groups — about 36 are assigned to CJSOTF-A and 44 to CJSOTF-Arabian Peninsula, the “white” special operations task force in Iraq, for a total of 80 committed to the two wars at any one time. “However,” he said, “that number is really 160 ODAs committed to the CJSOTFs as they are on a seven months in, five months out rotation. In addition, he said, there is “an almost permanent presence” of two company headquarters (“B teams” in SF terminology) and about 10 A-teams in Colombia and Central America, about eight to 10 A-teams in the Philippines, “a handful” in the Horn of Africa and a similar number dedicated to the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership that includes countries across north and west Africa. When other A-teams conducting training in Pakistan and classified missions elsewhere are included, that makes for a total of about 32 A-teams committed outside of the two CJSOTFs, “which translates into a commitment of 64 ODAs with rotations,” the senior special operations staff officer said.

There is also a Special Forces presence at more than 40 U.S. embassies, while SF is supporting six “named” operations and more than 50 requests for forces around the world, he said. “There’s no ODAs sitting around doing nothing,” he added, noting that any deployment of additional Special Forces to Afghanistan “is going to be a question of priorities.”

The field-grade Special Forces officer acknowledged that pulling ODAs from other groups that do not habitually deploy to Afghanistan, such as 1st Group, which focuses mostly on east Asia, would incur a cost for regional combatant commanders in those parts of the world, who would have to curtail the number of joint/combined exchange training programs that Special Forces teams conduct with host nation forces. “There’s a huge list of JCETs and other missions that are going to go unfulfilled” in the event of a special operations surge into Afghanistan, he said.

However, it’s not clear that a SOF surge, whether the near-term one sought by the NSC or the longer-term one envisioned by the Pentagon plan, would be made of entirely or mostly of Special Forces units. CJSOTF-A already includes a Marine Special Operations Command element in western Afghanistan, which is likely to grow, the field grade Special Forces officer said. “The term that’s being bandied about is ‘ODA equivalents,’” he said.

The senior special operations staff officer scoffed at such talk. “There’s only SF,” he said. “There’s no SF equivalents. That’s idiocy. SEALs are not SF. MARSOC are not SF and SF are not SEALs. They’re not interchangeable. … Those people who are throwing that [term] around certainly don’t understand what they’re talking about.”

Organized Jewry Opposes Free Speech

Organized Jewry
Opposes Free Speech

By Prof Kevin MacDonald

It is something of an axiom of Jewish life that “Is it good for the Jews?” remains the litmus test of Jewish communal activity – in other words, interest over principles. A good example is free speech. There can be little doubt that the organized Jewish community sees free speech as a problem because it may be used to criticize the behavior of Jewish organizations and especially Israel.
In Canada the response of the organized Jewish community to recent demonstrations against Israel was to attempt to invoke Canada’s restrictions on free speech in order to silence their critics. The Canadian Jewish Congress complained that protests against Israel’s incursion into Gaza contained images that were “uncivil, un-Canadian, that demonize Jews and Israelis.” They are asking the police to investigate the matter, for referral to the Canadian Human Rights Commission which is in charge of enforcing laws that infringe on free speech. Although the organized Jewish community in Canada has strongly supported the thought crime legislation (see below), Bernie Farber, the head of the CJC, stated “we are firm supporters and believers in the need to be able to demonstrate passionately in free and democratic societies.”
Because of the First Amendment, we are still a ways from situation in Canada here in the US. Nevertheless, the ADL has been in the forefront of promoting hate-crime legislation in America, and there can be little doubt that they see the First Amendment as a barrier to their interests in suppressing thoughts and speech critical of Israel and other Jewish interests.
An example of the efforts of the organized Jewish community in the direction of thought control is the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004. This law created an office of “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism” within the State Department, headed by Gregg J. Rickman. The act not only requires the State Department to document acts of anti-Semitism, but also to “combat acts of anti-Semitism globally.”
The act does not say what the U.S. must do to combat anti-Semitism around the world. I assume combating anti-Semitism wouldn’t require any more in the way of lives and money than, say, the war in Iraq – another project spearheaded by Jewish activism on behalf of Israel. But that may be wishful thinking as the same activists are avidly promoting a war with Iran which would likely be even more disastrous.
In any case, the office issued its most recent Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism Report (GASR) in March of last year. The document is an excellent example of Jewish activism that would be unremarkable except that it is now officially ensconced at the highest reaches of the U.S. government. As we shall see, it goes beyond criticism anti-Jewish actions to anti-Jewish attitudes, such as statements about Jewish influence.
The report performs the by now familiar casuistry on Israel as a cause of anti-Semitism. The reader is led to believe that the allegations of Israeli atrocities are overblown propaganda – when the real question is just how Palestinians manage to survive at all in the occupied territories. The recent horrifying incursion into Gaza is only the most recent example. Not only did Israel carry out a starvation-inducing blockade during a ceasefire and an assault that finally provoked Palestinian retaliation, there seems little doubt that Israel committed war crimes – particularly the use of white phosphorus bombs in densely populated civilian areas.
The report complains that Israel’s bad behavior is singled out while nobody cares when other governments behave inhumanely. The problem here is that because Israel’s bad behavior is in important ingredient in enflaming the entire region, it should interest everyone. And because of the role of the Israel Lobby in shaping American policy, Israel’s bad behavior is even more properly the concern of all Americans. American taxpayers are not being asked to massively subsidize other badly behaved governments, nor are they asked to fight and die in wars designed to advance the interests of those governments.
The report graciously states that “responsible criticism” of Israel’s policies is acceptable. (Thanks!) But there’s a catch: “Those criticiz-ing Israel have a responsibility to consider the effect their actions may have in prompting hatred of Jews.”
This, of course, has the effect of proscribing criticism of Israel for fear of being called an anti-Semite. Presumably responsible criticism of Israel does not include books like John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt’s The Israel Lobby, despite its academic tone and masterful marshalling of evidence. Jewish activists have routinely accused the authors of resurrecting the Protocols and other vicious acts of anti-Semitism.
As the report notes, Israel is without doubt the source of most anti-Jewish words and deeds in the contemporary world. But the report also points to traditional Jewish stereotypes as a continuing concern: Jews as more loyal to Israel and Jewish interests than the interests of their country of residence; and Jews as having inordinate influence and control over media, the economy or government. For example, according to ADL surveys, substantial percentages of Europeans believe that Jews have too much power in business and in international financial markets. (The percentages range from around 20% in Germany to 60% in Hungary.)
Similarly, ADL surveys indicate that beliefs that Jews are disloyal are common among Europeans, ranging from 39% in France to 60% in Spain. The report notes that “those who believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country tend to believe that Jew-ish lobbying groups and individual Jews in influential positions in national governments seek to bend policy toward Israel’s interests.”
In other words, these anti-Semites are living under the illusion that organizations like AIPAC actually have some influence. And they may even believe that highly placed Jews like Paul Wolfowitz, Elliott Abrams and Richard Perle may have steered U.S. policy in a way that benefited Israel to the detriment of the United States.
As I noted in my review of Mearsheimer and Walt, Pro-Israel activists such as Perle typically phrase their policy recommendations as aimed at benefiting the United States. Perle does this despite evidence that he has a strong Jewish identity and despite the fact that he has typical Jewish concerns, such as anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and the welfare of Israel. Perle poses as an American patriot despite credible charges of spying for Israel, writing reports for Israeli think tanks and op-eds for the Jerusalem Post, and maintaining close personal relation-ships with Israeli leaders.
Needless to say, the GASR is not a good place to find nuanced or fair treatments of these issues.
The GASR also has a section deploring ethnic nationalist movements of non-Jews, mainly in Eastern Europe, complaining that these movements are commonly anti-Jewish. Typically the anti-Jewish sentiments of such movements stem from the perception that Jews are an elite with considerable power and that this elite opposes the ethno-nationalism of non-Jews-a view that certainly has some basis in reality. (Jewish opposition to ethno-nationalism is restricted to non-Jews in areas where Jews form a Diaspora; it does not, of course, apply to Israel.)
For example, the GASR singles out Roman Catholic institutions as “encouraging anti-Semitism and ethnic and religious chauvinism.” Chief among the offenders is a conservative Catholic radio station in Poland, Radio Maryja, cited for claiming that “Jews were pushing the Polish government to pay exorbitant private property restitution claims [for Holocaust reparations], and that Poland’s President was `in the pocket of the Jewish lobby.'”
This seems odd, since it would hardly be surprising if indeed Jews and Jewish organizations were pressuring the Polish government on this issue. Indeed, Norman Finkelstein points out:
In negotiations with Eastern Europe, Jewish organizations and Israel have demanded the full restitution of or monetary compensation for the pre-war communal and private assets of the Jewish community. Consider Poland. The pre-war Jewish population of Poland stood at 3.5 million; the current population is several thousand. Yet, the World Jewish Restitution Organization demands title over the 6,000 pre-war communal Jewish properties, including those currently being used as hospitals and schools. It is also laying claim to hundreds of thousands of parcels of Polish land valued in the many tens of billions of dollars. Once again the entire US political and legal establishment has been mobilized to achieve these ends. Indeed, New York City Council members unanimously supported a resolution calling on Poland ‘to pass comprehensive legislation providing for the complete restitution of Holocaust assets’, while 57 members of Congress (led by Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York) dispatched a letter to the Polish parliament demanding ‘comprehensive legislation that would return 100% of all property and assets seized during the Holocaust’.
No sign of Jewish involvement there. Clearly, Radio Marija is way out of line.
Incidentally, Finkelstein has paid dearly for offending the Israel Lobby: blacklisted from employment in the academic world, deported and barred from Israel, and living in a rent-stabilized apartment near his boyhood home in Brooklyn. The Lobby clearly believes in free speech so long as it’s in done in one’s closet and assuming the neighbors can’t hear it. (More on this below.)
Also related to Poland, the GASR notes that Maciej Giertych, European Parlia-ment Deputy and former head of the Political Party League of Polish Families, wrote a booklet “suggesting that Jews were unethical and a `tragic community’ because they did not accept Jesus as the Messiah.” The report also deplored the ADL’s finding that 39% of Polish respondents agreed that “Jews are responsible for the death of Christ.”
This is truly amazing. Here we have an official U.S. government report condemning a Polish politician and a large percentage of the Polish people for expressing religious ideas that date from the origins of the Church in antiquity. It’s very reminiscent of the situation in Canada where the Christian Heritage Party has been charged with promoting hatred because they published material opposing homosexuality for religious reasons stemming from their reading of the Bible.
Incidentally, the GASR complains that Giertych also claimed that “Jews `create their own ghettos’ because they like to separate themselves from others.” Residential segregation, of course, was standard Jewish behavior in the Diaspora beginning in the ancient world, and it certainly occurred in Poland well into modern times. Indeed, it continues in many areas of the Diaspora today. But, as with thought crimes generally, truth is no defense.
The GASR coyly states that “While the report describes many measures that foreign governments have adopted to combat anti-Sem-itism, it does not endorse any such measures that prohibit conduct that would be protected under the U.S. Constitution.”
Nevertheless, the act requires the compilation of material that would presumably be protected by the US Constitution, in particular “instances of propaganda in government and nongovernment media that attempt to justify or promote racial hatred against Jewish people.” When one considers that a great many of the attitudes mentioned in the GASR are either substantially factual or reflect common religious beliefs, they would certainly seem to fall within the protections of the First Amendment.
And it’s pretty clear where its heart lies. Indeed, as Ezra Levant has recently described, Jewish organizations and activists have been a major source of support for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, intervening in dozens of cases in favor of plaintiffs.
Levant describes the Simon Weisenthal Center as “one of the most vicious interveners in Canadian Human Rights Commission censorship trials.” And Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress stated recently that “our anti-hate laws are probably the most underused.” Levant comments: “That sounds like Ian Fine, senior counsel for the CHRC, who declared that `there can’t be enough laws against hate.’ So while the rest of the country is realizing that our government censorship has gone too far, Farber says it goes nowhere far enough; it’s underused. He wants more censorship, more government intervention into thoughts and ideas – and the emotion called `hate’.”
Clearly, the office of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism is nothing if not a Jewish activist organization. And it doubtless would love to institute the same kinds of thought control in the U.S. that have made Canada into a police state. Indeed, it would be entirely within the letter of the law that created this monster if the United States were to declare war on Poland as a means of combating anti-Semitism. At least it won’t be necessary to invade Canada.
Kevin MacDonald is a professor of psychology at California State University­Long Beach.

Mubarak Thinks Kissing Israel’s Ass More Important Than Food For Gaza

Cairo against Iran aid delivery to Gaza
Wed, 28 Jan 2009 15:33:40 GMT

Egypt has officially refused to give an Iranian aid ship permission to dock at Al-Areesh port.

Cairo has officially refused to give an Iranian relief ship permission to unload Gaza-bound humanitarian aid at an Egyptian seaport.

After weeks of stalling the Iranian aid ship Shahed some 25 km (15 miles) off the coast of Gaza, the Egyptian government expressed opposition to the emergency delivery through the Al-Areesh port, an informed source said Wednesday.

The move dealt a blow to efforts by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) aimed at channeling desperately-needed aid to Gazans, added the source who requested anonymity.

“The Immoral opposition of Egypt to aid transits is clearly a sign of cooperation with Israel and its policy of choking off humanitarian deliveries to Gazans,” he added.

Following the Israeli onslaught in Gaza, the Islamic Republic loaded a ship with 2,000 tons of medical and food supplies to help allay the humanitarian crisis brought about by the intense fighting.

The vessel, however, was intercepted by Israeli naval forces on January 14 and consequently opted to deliver the cargo through Egypt, the only state that shares a border with the Gaza Strip.

Egyptian authorities issued permits for the aid’s dispatch via the Al-Areesh port – some 50km (30 miles) off the coastal strip – but later backtracked on their promises.

In an exclusive interview with Press TV on Tuesday, the chief of operations of the Iranian Red Crescent, Morteza Shadbakht, said that the Iranian relief society was working hard to secure the delivery.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the head of the Egyptian interests section in Tehran, Amre al- Zayat, on Tuesday to expound on why the ship has not been permitted to dock.

The United Nations, concerned about the deepening humanitarian impact of the war, says there is an urgent need for emergency shipment as Tel Aviv’s repeated interception of Gaza-bound stockpiles of food, fuel and medicine has strangled humanitarian efforts for the besieged Palestinians.

Hamas officials have started paying compensation to the Gazan families who have lost their home in Israel’s three-week-long incursion into the Palestinian territory.

“We try to keep thing even between all people therefore we deliver to every family that lost their home 5000 dollars and every family that has a house which is not inhabitable 2500,” said Hamas welfare minister Ahmed al-Kurd.

An estimated 60,800 people are left homeless and more than 100,000 people remain displaced in the coastal sliver. Running water and electricity are reportedly available less than 12 hours a day. “Entire neighborhoods have disappeared,” the BBC reported.

The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics has reported that more than 4,100 homes have been reduced to rubble and 17,000 others damaged.

Netanyahu Gleefully Predicts Al-CIAda Will Attack Holy Sepulchre

Bibi: Qaeda to blow up holiest Christian site
Wed, 28 Jan 2009 19:34:01 GMT

Benjamin Netanyahu, the favorite to win the upcoming Israeli election, says al Qaeda terrorists will destroy Jesus Christ’s burial site.

Netanyahu, who claims he had predicted an Islamic extremists attack on the World Trade Center six years before the actual attack, said terrorists will target Church of the Holy Sepulchre also known as the Church of the Resurrection – Christianity’s holiest site.

The church located in Jerusalem (al-Quds) — which Christians believe is the site of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus — attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims every year and is considered a spiritual focal point.

“Radical Islam is willing and will want to attack the symbolic heart of the Christian religion,” said the former Israeli prime minister.

“This will incur a chain reaction we can’t even envision. We will witness an escalation of religious conflict above and beyond the regional conflict we have now,” Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying.

The Right-wing Likud leader said he had warned in a 1995 book — six years before the September 11 attacks — that “Islamist terrorists” would detonate a nuclear device in the World Trade Centre in New York.

Life after the apocalypse

Life after the apocalypse

Tanya Gold

What if the doomsayers are right … what if society, as we know it, really is about to collapse? Do you have what it takes to make it in a world without electricity and running water? Tanya Gold offers an essential survival guide

I am standing in a wood with a tall man and a dead pheasant. There is blood everywhere: on my shoes, my hands, my face. Why am I here? Because the man – his name is Leon Durbin – is preparing me for the apocalypse, now.

What would happen if you awoke one morning and everyone was dead? Or if, less melodramatically, the world as we know it – and our teetering financial systems – ceased to function? What if you awoke to find your bubble-wrapped, gilded life was over, and for good? Could you survive? Could I?

I am an urban girl. I have no skills except whingeing and bingeing. I can barely open a packet of Hobnobs without an explosive device. But, unlike you, doomed and dying reader, I have decided to prepare for The End, and I am prepared to share the life-saving knowledge I will accrue. This is your cut-out-and-keep guide to the apocalypse. Put it in a drawer. One day you may need it.

So you wake up; everyone is dead. For the purpose of this exercise, imagine it’s like Survivors, the cheap BBC rendition of the apocalypse, where a plague wipes out humanity and then everyone is mildly annoyed that the trains are delayed. We could imagine total financial or ecological collapse leading to the failure of social structures, but let’s say it’s a plague. So, how long can you stay in your house?

The answer is: not long. According to the people at the National Grid, the electricity will stop. So will the water. These systems have buttons. Buttons need fingers. Fingers need people who are alive. You have a day, maybe two, of electricity. Then you will be in darkness, with no way of washing your face.

What should you do? You can steal food from supermarkets but the rotting corpses on the floor of Sainsbury’s will be fetid fonts of infection. And if you try to sit out the plague in your home, you could burn or drown. After a lightning strike, fires will begin and they will not stop. And if you live in London, the Thames barrier will fail without electricity and the low-lying areas of the city will flood.

So you have to leave. But where do you go? The apocalyptic norm – see 28 Days Later and Survivors – is for survivors to sit in desirable country mansions, eat tinned tomatoes, develop post-traumatic psychosis and shoot each other. Never in any apocalyptic scenario in any movie I have seen – and I have seen them all – does anyone try to live off the land. They prefer to feed on the crumbs of the lost civilisation. It never works. How can you rebuild civilisation with tinned tomatoes? You need to grow your own food.

But where? I choose Devon. It is warm and wet and fertile, and I have been happy there. There are cows. This is where I would live off the land, but I need to learn how. This thinking has led me to Durbin and the dead bird.

Durbin is tall and tweedy. He is the sort of man who keeps firewood kindling in his pocket, just in case. He owns Wildwood Bushcraft, a company that explains how to survive if you are dropped into the wilderness with no supplies, no warning and no clue.

Durbin leads me through the spindly, sleeping trees, pointing out different kinds of branch and bush, and their uses. According to him, the wood is a shop that will give you everything you need. “Willow bark can be boiled to relieve a headache,” he says. “Yew is for making long bows. Oak is for shelters. Ash is for tool handles. Have you ever had a beech-leaf sandwich?” I don’t bother replying.

To be competent in bushcraft, you have to be well equipped: before you leave the city, stop for a saw, chisel, spade, axe and hunting knife. Durbin has them all. They poke out of his rucksack in a manly fashion.

We arrive at a clearing and Durbin demonstrates how to light a fire. He places a small block of wood on the ground and puts a wooden stake on it, point down. He takes a bow, made of wood and string, places it round the stake and, when he moves the bow in a sideways motion, the stake rotates very fast. Its friction with the block of wood magically creates a pile of super-hot matter. It can ignite dry hay or bark. This creates a conflagration that can light a fire.

How will I get water? Durbin runs bushcraft weekends for angry executives here, so he knows where it is. “Water,” I cry, lunging at a small stream. “Careful,” says Durbin. “We have to filter the water with a sock full of sand. Then we have to bring it to a rolling boil.” Why a sock? He ignores me.

Food is harder. It is winter and the countryside is closed for repairs. My two main vegetarian foods, Durbin explains, will be burdock root and hazelnut. Both are high-energy. You can make chips out of burdock and you can boil, mash and dry hazelnut to produce a repulsive kind of biscuit. Durbin picks up a spade and starts digging for burdock. He finds some, but it’s rotten. “Winter,” he sighs. “Hmmm.”

So, with a fiendish flourish, I produce a dead pheasant from my handbag. I had spent the day before negotiating with the Guardian as to the legal and moral implications of murdering a rabbit for the purposes of this article. Finally we had compromised, and I had gone to a posh butcher’s in Mayfair and bought this beautiful pheasant for £3.50. Durbin looks impressed. “You have to pull off its head,” he says. “Just twist it.”

I close my eyes and twist. The head comes off easily; it feels like wringing out a slightly damp scarf. Then Durbin makes a hole in the pheasant’s bottom and I stick my hand up and clutch everything inside. Out comes a squelchy mass of once-living flesh. Durbin grabs the heart and cuts it open. “Very nutritious,” he says. I am slightly sick in my mouth. I pluck, and soon I have a pile of bloodstained feathers – and a nude bird. Durbin sticks it on a spit over the fire. When it is cooked, we eat it. It tastes slightly of excrement but I still feel strangely empowered. It was much easier than I thought it would be, to rip this bird apart.

I now have bloodlust. I ask Durbin how to trap animals. I could theoretically shoot them, but trapping is more suitable for the lazy or incompetent survivor. He looks slightly nervous. “It’s illegal,” he says slowly. But I prod and he tells me about different types of trap. I could try the pit trap, he says, where you dig a hole in the forest floor, line it with sharpened stakes and camouflage it. It is for large animals – deer, wild boar, parents, other journalists. There is also the deadfall trap, which is for small animals. They saunter over a trigger mechanism, and a lump of wood falls on their head. Bon appetit and ha ha.

But what would I eat if I couldn’t trap? “Bugs,” says Durbin happily. “Worms.” There are 40 calories in a worm, apparently; this is the equivalent of two Maltesers. “Or snails,” he adds. “But quarantine the snail for three days before you eat it. It may have eaten poisonous plants, and you will have to wait until it expels them.”

Now you need shelter. If I had the choice, I would probably look for a small stone cottage – hardy and easy to maintain – but if I am foraging, I have to go to where the food is. So Durbin shows me how to make a survival shelter. He hurls logs up against a tree trunk, and covers them with a foot of leaves and bracken and mud. “It is waterproof,” he says. I climb in and lie down. It is a hole that only a troll could love. But there they are, the four pillars of survival: food, water, fire and shelter.

The next day, I go to Pullabrook Wood in Devon to practise my skills. It was easy to survive yesterday, with Durbin standing by. Can I cope alone? Pullabrook is a lovely wood, administered by the Woodland Trust. It is full of happy Tories and happy Labradors. But now I have my own mini-apocalypse. I fail at bow drilling. I find a stream, but a happy Tory says the water is poisonous, even if filtered by sock. Why? “Because sheep droppings have contaminated it,” he says. Death by Sheep is only slightly behind Death by Snail in the encyclopaedia of embarrassing ways to die.

The first shelter I build is too small for me to enter. My second shelter collapses. I decide to abandon bushcraft. I will try my hand at farming. Woman cannot live on worm alone.

So, a few days later, I am standing inside an Iron Age roundhouse at Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire. Butser is a project that re-enacts Iron Age life. The roundhouse is huge and round and dim. I feel a bit as if I am standing inside a giant breast. Steve Dyer is the archaeological director. He is tall and red-faced, with a frizzy white beard.

“Roundhouses are easy to make,” he says, waving his arms. He points out two animal skulls, tied to the entrance posts. Is that a cow’s skull? Dyer grimaces politely. “It’s a horse,” he says, before proceeding to tell me how to make a roundhouse.

The ingredients are: 27 large oak trees, 60 small oak trees, 100 hazel trees, 100 ash trees, wheat straw for thatching, and animal hair, clay, manure, soil and water for the walls.

You will also need animals. Dyer escorts me to his pigpen to meet two nameless pigs. To domesticate animals, he says, you just have to enclose them in smaller and smaller areas. Provide them with what they need – food, water and attention – and they will obey you. You can then eat them, and peel them, and tan their hides for soft furnishings. But beware of sheep, he says, waving a bright red finger. “I know this guy called Si,” he says. “He approached a frisky ram. It jumped up and broke his nose.” I am back at Death by Sheep.

I telephone the psychologist Cecelia De Felice. I want to know if I will go insane in my new one-woman world, especially when faced with tasks such as chopping down 27 large oaks. “You will be in a state of trauma,” she agrees. “You will quickly become lonely and paranoid. It is possible you will have a breakdown.” And if I meet other survivors? Be cautious, she advises. “They too will be lonely and paranoid. Of course you are stronger in a group. But you do not know whether they will help you or just steal your resources. Trust no one.”

I am (vaguely) confident I will not starve. But there is one other thing I am sweating over: nuclear power stations. Professor Alan Weisman wrote The World Without Us, a description of what he believes would happen to Earth if we all vanished. I call him. He says I am right to worry. Why? Because most nuclear plants are water-cooled. Water, he explains, in a dry, calm voice, needs to circulate around the reactors, or they will explode. If there were no humans to operate it, the plant would shut down automatically, and the water would be cooled with diesel fuel. For about a week. Then the heat from the reactor would evaporate and expose the core. “It will either melt down or burst into very radioactive flames,” he says. So what would you do, Professor Weisman? “I would probably go to Canada,” he says. “There aren’t many nuclear power stations in Canada.”

So, it comes to this. No matter how hard you try, Britain will probably become a nuclear wasteland. The snails that are your lunch will either die, or look very weird. So, again, what to do? My considered advice is this. You, Guardian reader, need to begin building a boat – a sailing ship, actually – to take you to – yes, Canada. Before you leave the city you should pause at a library and steal the entire boat-making and maintenance shelf. Canada may be your only hope of salvation. And that is as fitting an obituary for our civilisation as I can type. In The End, it turns out you don’t just have to be the heroine of Survivors. You need to bloody well be Noah too.

Happy apocalypse.

It’s not all bad: Fun things you could do after the apocalypse

• Pop into the National Gallery and take Jan Van Eyck’s Portrait of a Man off the wall. (If you have no taste, take a Renoir.) The Van Eyck is hanging in the Sainsbury Wing. If you want to preserve it properly, Thomas Almeroth-Williams of the National Gallery suggests you store it in a slate mine, where the temperature and humidity levels are perfect for its conservation.

• Go to the British Library and help yourself to one of its two copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio. One is in a box in a strong room under the library floor; the other is in a glass case in the Treasure Room. If you want to preserve it properly, Helen Shenton of the British Library suggests you store it in a cool, dark place, and watch it carefully for infestations by animals or fungi. Dust regularly.

• Steal the crown jewels. If you can. “There are contingency plans in place in event of a power failure,” says a Royal Palaces spokesperson, “so the crown jewels should remain safe.” Really? To preserve them properly, do nothing. A diamond is for ever.

• Invade the News of the World – it’s in Wapping – and read all its secret files. Then break into M15. It’s on Millbank. Read all its secret files too. Oh, no! She was murdered! I knew it!

• Go and stand on the stage at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Skip over the bodies of the dead actors. Re-enact the whole of Oliver!

The vital skills you will need

How to make bread

I type this in full because I want bread at The End, and I want you to have it too (should you survive). So, clear the land, turn the soil over to create furrows, take seed from any wheat growing wild, sow it 20cm apart and kick the soil over. Make sure that the birds don’t eat the seed.

Stop browsing animals by hedging the field off and root out weeds. When the corn is ripe, thresh it by hitting it with a stick and mill it by rubbing it between large stones. Add the flour to water to make dough. Stick it in a pan on the fire. Result? Wholemeal flatbread!

How to make sanitary products and toilet paper

Find some sphagnum moss and use that. It is very spongy and it contains iodine, so it is slightly antiseptic.

How to eat snails

Always, always quarantine snails before eating them. Take the snail and put it where there is nothing for it to eat. Ignore its cries of hunger, leave for three days and then consume.

How to purify water

Collect the water from the purest source available, ideally a spring, minimising sediment and avoiding chemical contamination. Filter it through a sock full of sand. Sterilise the water by bringing it to a rolling boil for a few seconds.

How to clay bake a fish

Wrap the fish in large leaves, tying up the parcel with nettle stalk. Dig for clay in the earth. After combining the clay with water, cover the fish with a centimetre of clay, leaving no cracks. Scrape a shallow pit in the centre of the fire and lay the fish in it. Cover the fish with embers. After an hour, remove the fish and crack the outer shell open. The fish should be perfectly cooked.

How to remove the skin from a cow

You can kill a cow by strangulation apparently, although I have never met anyone who has done it. Or you can cut its throat, or spear it through the heart. Split the cow along its belly from the groin to the throat. Remove the internal organs. Hang the cow up by its hooves for several days to let the blood run out. Cows are heavy, so do not attempt to do this alone. To take the skin off, slide a blade or a sharp stone between the skin and the flesh. Once you have inserted the tool a little way, you can just peel the skin off.

How to shoot a deer with a bow and arrow

Deer are sensitive to human noise and smell. If you stomp through the wood with a bow and arrow you will never find one. Find out where the deer are going to be – they often walk the same way to the same place. Camouflage your scent, be quiet and do not move. When you see a deer, shoot it from 20m away. You ideally need a kill shot, eg in a lung. You don’t want to hit it in the bottom, because it will run off and you won’t get your dinner. TG

• Sources: Leon Durbin (Wildwood Bushcraft), Steve Dyer (Butser Ancient Farm) and Ben Jones (Merlin Archery Centre).

Israeli War Criminals in Jenin & Lebanon

The right place for the war criminals is jail. Leaving war criminals free is a big threat against the  security of the international society, and they are a grave danger to their own societies. The International lebanon_aCriminal Court was established to deal with exactly these criminals. Let us work together to bring these criminals to justice. Let us work together to push the International Criminal Court to fulfill it’s duties and to play an active roll in ridding the planet of this grave kind of criminality.

Here are some more names of Israeli soldiers who participated in war crimes during “Operation Defensive Shield”  from April 3 to 21 of 2002 in Jenin. The former OC Central Command, Maj-Gen. Yitzhak Eitan gave awards to these criminals for their war crimes and crimes against humanity in Jenin, which left large sectors of the Palestinian population of that city homeless, and where about 500 were massacred by the IOF. These Israeli war criminals received an appreciation medal from their regional commander for the crimes which they committed.
Colonel Fuad Halhal, the IOF officer in Jenin during during “Operation Defensive Shield”, a former Military officer in Hebron, a druze.

Fuad HalhalMaj. (res.) Baram Segev.

Senior Warrant Officer Richard Awizrat.

Capt. Tomer Tsiter

Sgt. Shenior Alfassi

Sgt. Ron Margalit

Maj. Nimrod Aloni

Capt. Alon Madanes

Capt. Ron Vardi

Capt. Kfir Cohen

Capt. Ofir Levy

Anyone having additional information about these individuals, please email me.

Here are some names of Israeli war criminals who participated in the Major General Yishai Barso-called “second war” against Lebanon in 2006. These criminals were awarded for their crimes by the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, and Maj.-Gen. Yishai Beer, the former President of the Court of Appeals of the Israeli Forces and now a lecturer at Hebrew University in the occupied Jerusalem.

Col. Miki Edelstein Nahal Brigade Commander.

Yehuda David from Nahal Brigade’s Battalion 931, he also participated in “Operation Defensive Shield” in Nablus in 2002.

Lt. Erez Ramati, Nahal Battalion 931. Ramati, 31, from Kochav Yair, is still the doctor of Battalion 931.

Staff Sgt. Michael Hibner, Nahal Battalion 931, death squad unit.

Staff Sgt. Amichai Avraham, a combat soldier from the elite Egoz unit

Staff Sgt. Steven Friedland, born in Houston, Texas, made aliyah to Jerusalem staff-sgt-steven-friedlandwith his family in 1995. He participated in the second war against Lebanon in 2006 and he received an award “citation of valor” as a recognition for his service in the Second Lebanon War crimes.
Friedland completed his military service in the IOF in October 2007 serving as a commander and teacher for the Intelligence unit. Currently, he is in Melbourne, Australia working for the Masorti (conservative) movement.

Maj. Ro’i Klein.

Sgt. Avichai Yaakov.

Capt. Hanoch Daube.

sergeant-yoni-binyamin-asraf_aLt. Anton Syomin.

Sergeant Yoni Binyamin Asraf, served as a gunner in the reconnaissance battalion of the Paratroop Brigade during the war in Lebanon.

Sergeant (res.) Rotmensch, 23, is from Beit Aryeh.

Sergeant (res.) Eliran Iluz, 24, is a resident of Even Yehuda.

The Israeli Death Squad war criminals
Nitai Okshi, a company commander who murdered several Palestinians at the Israeli concentration camp checkpoints surrounding Gaza

Major General David Ben-Ba’shat, Israeli Navy Head of Public Relations, department of the IDF Spokesman

Lieutenant Colonel Ofer Vinter (or Winter), is the commander of the lt-erez-ramatireconnaissance battalion of the Givati infantry brigade, which has been at the forefront of the IOF offensive activity in the Gaza Strip in the past few years.  Winter is a war criminal who operated in Gaza in 2004. He headed the worst of Operation Orange Iron in the Al Namsawi neighborhood in Khan Youniss were a quarter of a million citizens suffered from electricity and water shortages. Four bulldozers razed houses and shelters in the camp, forcing several families to gather near the hospital. In December 18, 2004, the forces of Lieutenant Colonel Ofer Vinter and tanks supported by helicopter gunships rolled into Khan Yunis refugee camp and israeli-lebanon_second_warkilled six Palestinians. Lieutenant Colonel Ofer Vinter and his troops also participated in operation Cast Lead in Gaza. The war criminal commander Ofer Vinter also participated in dozens of infiltration operations to murder civilians on Palestinian territory. Winter is a illegal colonist who studied at the  academy which was established in the illegal colony of Eli in the northern West Bank at the end of the 1980s. Winter is suspected to be a German citizen.

If you have any more information about these individuals, or about others involved in any way in perpetrating grave crimes against Palestinians, please Email me.

The Illustrated Manual for Police Brutality

The Illustrated Manual for Police Brutality

The New York Times is not usually a favorite of those of us who are, well, addicted to the news.

But there is always something to be thankful for, everyday. Like this picture which the paper used today:

It was taken by Sebastain Scheiner of the AP and is used here in an illustrative purpose.

It displays “Lesson #53” in the (fictitious) Police Manual for Methods of Applying Brutality.

Lesson #53 reads: “while your colleague(s) subdue a protestor, raise your right arm to his/her head level, take a step forward with your left foot, pretend to accidentally stumble, thus causing you to take a brisk and firm step forward with your right foot, thus causing your upraised right elbow to effectively smash into the protestors face. With any luck, you can even break his/her nose or at the very least, his/her glasses”.

Other lessons:

#42 – When gently leading a protestor away, hold his/her hand in both of your and firmly press the his/her fingers together. With luck, you may crush a digit.

Like this:

and Lesson #77 – When carrying a demonstrator away, especially female, have two officers grab one leg each and then slowly separate as walking away.

Like this:

I found another legs version here:

And Maneuver #28, Twist Arm While Pressing Out Elbow here:-

Welcome to the Israeli Police, those guardians of civil rights and liberties.

You Thought Olmert Was a Maniac, Netanyahu Says Saving Israel More Important Than Saving World

Bibi: Iran threat trumps economic crisis

Keeping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons ranks above the economy in the challenges facing leaders in the 21st century, Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu told the World Economic Forum on Thursday.

Likud leader Binyamin...

Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday.
Photo: AP

Netanyahu said the global financial meltdown was reversible but the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a “fanatic radical regime” was not. “We have never had, since the dawn of the nuclear age, nuclear weapons in the hands of such a fanatical regime,” he added.

Pro-Israel media: Bloggers join media war

Pro-Israel media: Bloggers join media war

Some 1,000 new immigrants and foreign-language-speaking Jews volunteer to army of bloggers set up by Absorption Ministry and Foreign Ministry with the stated objective of flooding blogs with pro-Israel opinions

Itamar Eichner

Arye Sharuz-Shalicar, 31, whose parents emigrated from Iran to Germany, is a one-man PR show. He speaks Persian, German, English, French, and Spanish and can also get by in Russian, Turkish, Arabic, and Italian.

Sharuz-Shalicar is one of the front-line soldiers in the Ministry of Absorption’s new “army of bloggers” that was recently established in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry’s public relations department following Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

The Absorption Ministry is recruiting new immigrants and Jews living abroad who have access to a computer and who speak a second language to a volunteer effort to improve public relations for Israel on the internet. The campaign was launched last week.

In the cross hairs are problematic blogs, talkbacks, online social networks, online polls, Youtube videos, and more.

The ministry was amazed by the massive response to the effort. More than 1,000 interested applicants contacted them, of which 350 are Russian speakers, 250 English speakers, 150 Spanish speakers, 100 French speakers, and 50 German speakers.

A range of other European languages are also represented among the volunteers: Portuguese, Swedish, Dutch, Italian, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish, Greek, Bulgarian, and Danish. Persian-, Turkish-, and Arabic-speaking Jews also offered their services. The ministry even got an application from a Chinese speaker.

Some 60% of the applicants are immigrants, old and new. The rest are Jews living in the Diaspora, Israelis living abroad, and even non-Jews who support Israel and want to help out.

The Absorption Ministry forwarded the volunteers’ details to the Foreign Ministry, which briefed them via email and provided up-to-date material on the situation, including video clips that could help them in the field.

While the Absorption Ministry is tasked with recruitment, the Foreign Ministry will be responsible for directing the volunteers online. Each time the ministry identifies an anti-Israel trend on a foreign-language blog, news site, or other website, it will immediately put out a message to the volunteers to flood the site with pro-Israel opinions.

Absorption Ministry Director-General Erez Halfon commented, “This provides an important opportunity for new immigrants, who have always been a strong Zionist nucleus, to feel like they are contributing to improving Israel’s image in the world. The foreign-language-speaking immigrants are a real asset, and it is important to take advantage of this. From our perspective, it was like an emergency call up, and I am thrilled that the response was so great.”

Noam Katz, director of the Foreign Ministry’s PR department, said, “We are in the process of thinking how to utilize these volunteers not only during conflict, but also during regular times as well.”

Miriam Schatzberger, 25, a new immigrant from Germany, joined the ranks of the ministry’s volunteers.

Schatzberger said, “I surf the German websites, and I was shocked by the anti-Israel reports. It is really smart to go on these blogs, to introduce myself as an Israeli and just to talk to them in order to try and balance out the picture.”

Doctors Spooked by Israel’s Mystery Weapon

A Palestinian woman with severe facial injuries from a Dime bomb

Doctors Spooked by Israel’s Mystery Weapon

By David Hambling

Critics continue to press the case that Israel committed “war crimes” in its war with Hamas, because of the civilian casualties in Gaza. Ironically, many of these wounds may have been caused by a weapon designed to reduce collateral damage. Not that the Israelis admit they have the thing.

We first reported on Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) munitions in 2006. The weapons originated as an offshoot of a bunker-busting program, when it was found that adding tungsten powder to explosives seemed to increase the blast effect over a small area. The powder was acting as micro-shrapnel which only carries for a few feet (compared to hundreds of feet for larger fragments), so the result was dubbed the “focused lethality munition” (FLM) which does massive damage in a small area and nothing outside.

There are a large number of reports from Gaza that suggest this type of weapon has been used, and, unfortunately, caused civilian deaths. There are reports and pictures of victims peppered with small particles, and descriptions which are consistent with very localized blast.

During Noah’s trip to Israel, he saw drone footage of an extremely small weapon hitting a car. When it struck — on a road, cutting through a Gaza cemetery — the car didn’t go up in a ball of flames. Its roof caved in, with a puff of smoke. The back doors were blown out; the front doors stayed shut.

Erik Fosse, a Norwegian doctor working in Gaza says that the weapon “causes the tissue to be torn from the flesh. It looks very different [from a shrapnel injury]. I have seen and treated a lot of different injuries for the last 30 years in different war zones, and this looks completely different.”

According to Fosse and his colleague Mads Gilbert, the weapon typically amputates or tears apart lower limbs and patients often do not survive.  It’s no more illegal than normal blast-and-shrapnel weapons, but it is a mystery.

The only known focused-lethality munition is a version of the GBU-40 Small Diameter Bomb. The weapon has been sold to Israel; Danger Room reported last month that the Israeli Defense Forces were using it in Gaza. But there are two problems. First, the Israelis seem to have bought the original version, not the FLM. And secondly, as Ares reported, Boeing has stated that it has not made any deliveries of the weapon to Tel Aviv, yet.

Ares speculated that the IDF is using weapons supplied by the U.S. Air Force; a spokesman told the site that “we cannot release sensitive information on foreign military sales.”

However, Fosse told Britain’s Independent newspaper, “all the patients I saw had been hit by bombs fired from unmanned drones. The bomb hit the ground near them and exploded.”

It’s just possible that Israel is dropping Small Diameter Bombs from drones, but far more likely that this is a small missile with a DIME warhead. Channel 4 News recently aired footage of Human Rights Watch’s Marc Garlasco investigating the site of a number of DIME strikes in Gaza. The damage was very localized — confined to one room in one case  — suggesting a much smaller weapon.

It is highly likely that Israel has developed its own version of DIME. In the United States, DIME is also being used for active defense systems to shoot down rocket-propelled grenades and other incoming threats. Because it does not throw shrapnel to any distance, it’s much safer than traditional warheads. The Israeli “Iron Fist” interceptor unveiled in 2006 is a similar concept, with small radar-guided projectiles. “Iron Fist uses only the blast effect to defeat the threat, crushing the soft components of a shaped charge or deflecting and destabilizing the missile or kinetic rod in their flight,” according to Defense Update. This suggests DIME technology.

One of the often-quoted concerns about DIME — which I mentioned two years back — is the potential for tungsten particles to cause cancer. But it’s quite possible that the Israeli version is not based on tungsten, and we will not know until there is chemical analysis. (Just a guess, but something called Iron Fist might well use iron or steel particles).

But why is such a precise weapon, intended to avoid the risk of collateral damage, causing civilian casualties at all? It takes tactics and procedures, as well as technology. I can only quote Marc Garlasco’s original comment to me in 2006:

“It is unfortunate that these weapons are being developed specifically for use in densely populated areas which may negate the intended effect.”

Blockade thwarts any postwar building boom in Gaza

Blockade thwarts any postwar building boom in Gaza

By Alastair Macdonald

GAZA, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Whole streets lie in ruins, many thousands of Palestinians are homeless after weeks of Israeli bombing and foreign aid cash is piling up. As a builder in the Gaza Strip, this should be Anwar al-Sahabani’s big moment.

Instead, though, he sits at home, angry and sad, not just at the wounds he suffered on the first day of bombardment, but with frustration at being denied the basic supplies he needs to start rebuilding. Israel will not let in cement, steel pipes and other materials it says its Hamas enemies might use to make war.

“The fighting stopped over a week ago but people are still sleeping in the open air,” said Sahabani, whose firm employs up to 100 craftsmen and labourers when working at full capacity.

“We should have started reconstruction the day the war ended. But we have no supplies.” His men, like him, sit idle, he said: “I am sad and angry and I feel a pain beyond words.”

Along the 45 km (30-mile) strip of Mediterranean coastline, half-finished construction sites stand silent, and, amid the ruins left by this month’s violence, families are building makeshift wood-and-plastic shelters to escape the cold.

“For two years now, we have not been able to build,” Sahabani said of an Israeli embargo going back to 2007. “God knows what will happen now to the people who lost their homes.”

Across town, Nabeel al-Zaeem, understands. His Palestinian Commercial Services Co. is Gaza’s top importer of cement.

Only these days, he has no cement.

“We need cement to rebuild the Gaza Strip, because of the Israeli offensive and the comprehensive destruction,” he said on a quiet morning this week at his office overlooking Gaza’s blockade-hit fishing port. “But we have no raw materials.”

He was able to import only a fraction of what he needed since June 2007, when Hamas, victors in a 2006 parliamentary election, seized full control in the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


Peter Lerner, a Defence Ministry official dealing with trade for Gaza, said Israel was helping international aid agencies in their efforts to move in the food and other vital supplies for the 1.5 million Gazans, most of whom are refugees, from families that fled or were driven from what is now Israel in 1948.

But until Israel was satisfied that cement would not be used by Hamas for fortifications and that steel pipes would be used only for plumbing and not to build improvised rockets for firing at Israeli towns, the embargo on construction material remained:

“We are working together with the international community to assist those needs that are beyond the humanitarian issues, such as building and reconstruction,” Lerner said.

But he added: “We are not interested today in rebuilding Hamas, their bunkers. We are not interested in supplying them with pipes that will be used for rockets.”

Amid the shaky ceasefire that has followed an offensive intended to deter Hamas rocket fire, Israeli ministers have also said this week that supplies will not re-start until Hamas frees an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was taken captive in 2006.

But John Ging, who runs the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency operations supplying much of Gaza’s population with basic rations, schooling and other essentials, said getting building materials into the enclave must be a priority: “This is the number one issue,” he said. “We have to get the crossing points open now to get everything that is needed to rebuild Gaza.”

Cement importer Zaeem said that even if the blockade were lifted it would take years to bring in all that was needed: “We need now 8,000 tonnes a month,” he said. “And even at that rate we would need three years to repair the damage.”

In all last year, he said, about 20,000 tonnes came in, all from Israeli quarries — Gaza has no cement industry. A crossing from Egypt is also largely closed, in coordination with Israel, and smuggling tunnels that provide many of the goods in Gaza’s stores cannot supply large quantities of building materials.


The World Bank says projects worth $240 million were frozen due to the blockade after Hamas took over and 42,000 workers had been laid off: “All the construction projects …. have been halted (due) to the absence of construction materials,” it said.

Yet even before losing some 5,000 homes this month and sustaining damage worth up to $2 billion by international estimates, Gaza was in dire need of a construction boom. At its present growth rate, the population is doubling with every generation, creating an acute shortage of schools and housing.

“It is just not acceptable in the 21st century that 1.5 million people are imprisoned like this,” said Zaeem, dismissing Israel’s security concerns about uses of cement as a “pretext”.

U.N. officials have described Israel’s blockade as illegal “collective punishment” of civilians and some Israelis also criticise the policy for fueling Palestinian resentment against the Jewish state while failing to stop Hamas attacks.

“They must open the passages,” Zaeem added. “We hope to live as everybody all over the world.”

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israel’s infrastructure minister, made clear this week, however, that the government, which faces an election battle against the right-wing opposition on Feb. 10, has no intention of opening up the crossings in a hurry.

“Let nobody delude themselves that we are going to open the crossings for anything but humanitarian essentials,” he said.

“They can say what they want … We don’t intend to open the crossings before Gilad Shalit comes home.”

In Gaza, construction contractor Sahabani retorts: “Israel is inventing pretexts. For now the pretext is Hamas. Before it was Yasser Arafat … It doesn’t seem to matter.”

Lamenting one particular project, for 200 apartments, which his firm has had to mothball for lack of supplies, Sahabani said: “We hope there can be a truce, so that we can live like other people … We can appeal only to God.”

Asked if he thought Hamas and Israel might be able to come to terms and break the political deadlock from which he and other Gazans are suffering, he confessed to little optimism: “We have had so many disappointments that we have almost lost hope.” (Editing by Ralph Boulton)

Blockade thwarts any postwar building boom in Gaza

Blockade thwarts any postwar building boom in Gaza

By Alastair Macdonald

GAZA, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Whole streets lie in ruins, many thousands of Palestinians are homeless after weeks of Israeli bombing and foreign aid cash is piling up. As a builder in the Gaza Strip, this should be Anwar al-Sahabani’s big moment.

Instead, though, he sits at home, angry and sad, not just at the wounds he suffered on the first day of bombardment, but with frustration at being denied the basic supplies he needs to start rebuilding. Israel will not let in cement, steel pipes and other materials it says its Hamas enemies might use to make war.

“The fighting stopped over a week ago but people are still sleeping in the open air,” said Sahabani, whose firm employs up to 100 craftsmen and labourers when working at full capacity.

“We should have started reconstruction the day the war ended. But we have no supplies.” His men, like him, sit idle, he said: “I am sad and angry and I feel a pain beyond words.”

Along the 45 km (30-mile) strip of Mediterranean coastline, half-finished construction sites stand silent, and, amid the ruins left by this month’s violence, families are building makeshift wood-and-plastic shelters to escape the cold.

“For two years now, we have not been able to build,” Sahabani said of an Israeli embargo going back to 2007. “God knows what will happen now to the people who lost their homes.”

Across town, Nabeel al-Zaeem, understands. His Palestinian Commercial Services Co. is Gaza’s top importer of cement.

Only these days, he has no cement.

“We need cement to rebuild the Gaza Strip, because of the Israeli offensive and the comprehensive destruction,” he said on a quiet morning this week at his office overlooking Gaza’s blockade-hit fishing port. “But we have no raw materials.”

He was able to import only a fraction of what he needed since June 2007, when Hamas, victors in a 2006 parliamentary election, seized full control in the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.


Peter Lerner, a Defence Ministry official dealing with trade for Gaza, said Israel was helping international aid agencies in their efforts to move in the food and other vital supplies for the 1.5 million Gazans, most of whom are refugees, from families that fled or were driven from what is now Israel in 1948.

But until Israel was satisfied that cement would not be used by Hamas for fortifications and that steel pipes would be used only for plumbing and not to build improvised rockets for firing at Israeli towns, the embargo on construction material remained:

“We are working together with the international community to assist those needs that are beyond the humanitarian issues, such as building and reconstruction,” Lerner said.

But he added: “We are not interested today in rebuilding Hamas, their bunkers. We are not interested in supplying them with pipes that will be used for rockets.”

Amid the shaky ceasefire that has followed an offensive intended to deter Hamas rocket fire, Israeli ministers have also said this week that supplies will not re-start until Hamas frees an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was taken captive in 2006.

But John Ging, who runs the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency operations supplying much of Gaza’s population with basic rations, schooling and other essentials, said getting building materials into the enclave must be a priority: “This is the number one issue,” he said. “We have to get the crossing points open now to get everything that is needed to rebuild Gaza.”

Cement importer Zaeem said that even if the blockade were lifted it would take years to bring in all that was needed: “We need now 8,000 tonnes a month,” he said. “And even at that rate we would need three years to repair the damage.”

In all last year, he said, about 20,000 tonnes came in, all from Israeli quarries — Gaza has no cement industry. A crossing from Egypt is also largely closed, in coordination with Israel, and smuggling tunnels that provide many of the goods in Gaza’s stores cannot supply large quantities of building materials.


The World Bank says projects worth $240 million were frozen due to the blockade after Hamas took over and 42,000 workers had been laid off: “All the construction projects …. have been halted (due) to the absence of construction materials,” it said.

Yet even before losing some 5,000 homes this month and sustaining damage worth up to $2 billion by international estimates, Gaza was in dire need of a construction boom. At its present growth rate, the population is doubling with every generation, creating an acute shortage of schools and housing.

“It is just not acceptable in the 21st century that 1.5 million people are imprisoned like this,” said Zaeem, dismissing Israel’s security concerns about uses of cement as a “pretext”.

U.N. officials have described Israel’s blockade as illegal “collective punishment” of civilians and some Israelis also criticise the policy for fueling Palestinian resentment against the Jewish state while failing to stop Hamas attacks.

“They must open the passages,” Zaeem added. “We hope to live as everybody all over the world.”

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israel’s infrastructure minister, made clear this week, however, that the government, which faces an election battle against the right-wing opposition on Feb. 10, has no intention of opening up the crossings in a hurry.

“Let nobody delude themselves that we are going to open the crossings for anything but humanitarian essentials,” he said.

“They can say what they want … We don’t intend to open the crossings before Gilad Shalit comes home.”

In Gaza, construction contractor Sahabani retorts: “Israel is inventing pretexts. For now the pretext is Hamas. Before it was Yasser Arafat … It doesn’t seem to matter.”

Lamenting one particular project, for 200 apartments, which his firm has had to mothball for lack of supplies, Sahabani said: “We hope there can be a truce, so that we can live like other people … We can appeal only to God.”

Asked if he thought Hamas and Israel might be able to come to terms and break the political deadlock from which he and other Gazans are suffering, he confessed to little optimism: “We have had so many disappointments that we have almost lost hope.” (Editing by Ralph Boulton)

Spanish court to probe Israeli officials for alleged ‘crimes against humanity’

AFPAlex Kolomoisky

Spanish court to probe Israeli officials for alleged ‘crimes against humanity’

Madrid Court grants motion by Palestinian group to probe several senior defense officials for their involvement in 2002 hit on Hamas operative Salah Shehade; which left 14 dead, 100 wounded. Defense minister calls announcement ‘delusional’, says he will do all in his power to have charges dropped

Roni Sofer and AFP

Latest Update: 01.29.09, 18:18 / Israel News
National Infrastructure Minister and former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and former IAF and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz may face criminal charges in Spain for killing Palestinian civilians seven years ago.

A Spanish court granted a petition by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights on Thursday, asking the two be investigated for alleged “crimes against humanity” for their involvement in the 2002 assassination of Hamas operative Salah Shehade. Fourteen civilians were killed in the incident and about 100 more were injured.

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon, former GOC Southern Command Doron Almog, former National Security Council Head Giora Eiland and Brigadier-General (Res.) Mike Herzog have also been named as persons on interest in the case.

“Those who call the killing of terrorists ‘a crime against humanity’ are living in an upside-down world,” said Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He called the Spanish announcement “delusional”.

“This decision is all the more outrageous when you consider Hamas’ true colors, being revealed once again these days to us and the world,” Barak added. He said he would do everything in his power to get the charges dropped.

“All senior officials belonging to the defense establishment, past and present, acted properly and in the name of the State of Israel, out of their commitment to protect the citizens of Israel,” he said.

According to a legal source in Madrid, Justice Fernando Andeo decided to grant the Palestinian petition “in the name of universal justice.”

Scene of Shehade assassination in 2002 (Photo: Reuters)

Andeo, a Audiencia Nacional de España (National Court of Spain) judge, is expected to inform both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities of his decision.

Shehade was the founder of Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades – the organization’s military wing. He was arrested by Israel in the 1980s and later turned over to the Palestinian Authority’s custody. The latter set him free in early 2000.

Shehade was considered to be the mastermind behind hundreds of deadly terror attacks on Israel. He was targeted by the IAF on July 22, 2002.

Dan Haluzt, who was still the Israeli Air Force chief at the time, was later quoted as telling his pilots that they carried out the mission “perfectly.”

Shehade’s assassination also gave birth to one of his most infamous quotes, noted when he was asked about the collateral damage of the hit: “If you want to know how I feel when I release a bomb (off a fighter jet) – I feel nothing but a little thump on the side of the plane. It only lasts a second. ”

‘Jewish money’ controls U.S.: African diplomat


‘Jewish money’ controls U.S.: African diplomat

Johannesburg – South Africa’s deputy foreign minister has been taken before the national human rights body for allegedly saying that “Jewish money” controls the United States, officials said Thursday.

Fatima Hajaig allegedly told a political rally two weeks ago in Johannesburg that Jews “control America, no matter which government comes into power, whether Republican or Democratic, whether Barack Obama or George Bush.”

“Their control of America, just like the control of most western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money,” she allegedly said.

Outraged by the remarks, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies — a civil rights group — said it filed a complaint Wednesday against Hajaig at the human rights commission.

“We submitted yesterday our formal complaint on the minister’s outrageous statement to the South African Human Rights Commission,” the head of the group, Zev Krengel, told AFP.

“That minister’s statement is incorrect, inflammatory and outrageous. We feel in our young democracy and in the 21st century, we should learn to respect each other and refrain from such anti-Semitic statements,” Krengel said.

The rights commission’s spokesman Vincent Moaga confirmed that the body had received the complaint, but could not give a timeline for processing it.

Foreign affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa declined to give details on the case, but told AFP that the South African government “has committed itself to fighting against all forms of racism, in all their ramifications, including anti-Semitism.”

Turkish PM storms off in Gaza row

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Turkish PM storms off in Gaza row

Turkey‘s prime minister has stormed off the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos after a heated debate on Gaza with Israel’s president.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan clashed with Shimon Peres, whose voice had risen as he made an impassioned defence of Israel’s actions, jabbing his finger.

Mr Erdogan said Mr Peres had spoken so loudly to conceal his “guilt”.

He accused the moderator of not allowing him to speak and said he did not think he would return to Davos.

The Turkish PM stressed later that he had left the debate not because of his disagreements with Mr Peres but because he had been given much less time to speak than the Israeli leader.

Turkey is one of the few Muslim countries to have dealings with Israel, but relations have been under strain since the Islamist-rooted AK Party was elected to power in 2002.

Late on Thursday, a WEF official said that Mr Peres and Mr Erdogan had spoken by mobile telephone, and both men now considered the matter closed.

Dinner time

In the debate, Mr Erdogan was cut off as he attempted to reply to Mr Peres.

Palestinian children reportedly injured in an Israeli missile attack lie in hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, 29 January

Many of the casualties in Gaza have been children, doctors say

Earlier the Turkish Prime Minister had made an address himself, describing Gaza as an “open-air prison”.

When the audience applauded Mr Peres, he said: “I find it very sad that people applaud what you said. You killed people. And I think that it is very wrong.”

The moderator, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, had given him a minute to reply, then asked him to finish, saying that people needed to go to dinner.

“I do not think I will be coming back to Davos after this because you do not let me speak,” Mr Erdogan shouted before marching off the stage in front of Mr Peres, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and an elite audience of ministers and international officials.

Mr Peres had told the audience Israel was forced on to the offensive against Hamas by thousands of rockets and mortars fired into Israel.

“The tragedy of Gaza is not Israel, it is Hamas,” the Israeli leader said.

“Why did they fire rockets? There was no siege against Gaza. Why did they fight us, what did they want? There was never a day of starvation in Gaza.”

He argued that Mr Erdogan would have reacted in the same way if rockets had hit Istanbul.

More than 1,300 Palestinians and 14 Israelis were killed during the three-week conflict which began on 27 December.

At news conference later on Thursday, Mr Erdogan complained that he had been allowed to speak for just 12 minutes compared with 25 for Mr Peres.

“I did not target at all in any way the Israeli people, President Peres or the Jewish people,” he said.

“I am a prime minister, a leader who has specifically expressly stated that anti-Semitism is a crime against humanity.”

Israel Ramping-Up Rhetoric on Hezbollah, As Well As Iran

Azerbaijan Thwarts Hizbullah Plot to Blow up Israeli Embassy

Israel Thwarted ‘Major Terror Attack’ In Europe

Nasrallah vows revenge for Mughniyeh

Is Gates Undermining Another Opening to Iran?

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Iran of “subversive activity” in Latin America

President Aliyev: Joining NABUCCO hinges on price

President Aliyev: Joining NABUCCO hinges on price

28-01-2009 05:50:18
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday pledged further backing for the NABUCCO gas pipeline, but hinted the country`s joining the West-backed project depended on the most lucrative price for its fuel.
As European leaders held talks on the supplies of Caspian and Central Asian gas in Budapest, Aliyev said Baku was ready to cooperate with all parties involved in the project.
“I am confident that good partnership relations will be forged as part of this project. It is possible to succeed in getting all the work done as a result of cooperation.”
Although the Azerbaijani leader made it clear that his country generally supported the NABUCCO project, he had told Hungarian media prior to the summit that this was not a political, but rather a commercial issue for the resource-rich South Caucasus republic.
In his address, Aliyev brought to the attention of participants the prospects of Azerbaijan`s acting not only as a transit state but also as an exporter. In other words, the country intends to sell its gas to the parties that will offer the most commercially viable prices and conditions.
“Azerbaijan supports the project, however, as before, what role it will play in the project – that of a transit state or a supplier of gas – remains an outstanding issue,” the president said.
While a proposal on the price for Azerbaijani gas to be pumped into the NABUCCO pipeline is yet to be made, Russia, which is bypassed by the conduit, has offered to buy it for $250 per 1,000 cubic meters.
The NABUCCO pipeline will deliver about 30 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani and Turkmen gas a year to European markets through a 3,300-kilometer pipeline traveling via the territories of Azerbaijan and Turkey to Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria.
The goal of the two-day summit held in the Hungarian capital was to rally support for the West-backed project and speed up its implementation. The project aims to help European countries diversify supplies of energy and ease reliance on Russian gas. It requires about 8 billion euros, but it is still unclear which countries will provide the needed funds and gas for the pipeline.
The summit was attended by representatives of Georgia, Austria, Romania, Egypt, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Germany, Iraq, the United States, as well as those of the European Union, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
The EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said NABUCCO was “a test for European unity.” He emphasized that if the countries involved fail to reach an agreement on the project, it will not be supported by the EIB and EBRD either.
“Amid the current financial crisis, no bank will assume the risk of allotting a loan just for the sake of a very good idea,” Piebalgs said.
The EIB Chairman Philippe Maystadt said his institution was ready to finance 25 per cent of the NABUCCO project, which will benefit European energy security.
EBRD President Thomas Mirow also pledged financial aid for the project. However, both banks require guarantees and a respective intergovernmental agreement.
Indeed, reaching an agreement among the governments of the interested countries appears more likely than before.
As per US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza, the Russia-Ukraine dispute over gas supplies in the past weeks that threatened Europe`s supplies has drastically altered the view of the summit host Hungary, which saw NABUCCO as merely a dream just a year ago. The country`s Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsany, stopped short of calling the project a symbol of independence and urged European financial institutions to allocate 300 million euros to start realizing the project.
Mirek Topolanek, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic that chairs the EU, said the North Stream and South Stream pipelines that Russia plans to build to export its gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine were a threat to NABUCCO.
“NABUCCO is a project that will ensure our [energy] independence, as it will allow the EU to buy gas from a third, alternate source – along with Russia and Norway. And, I didn`t mention these two countries together in vain — I am trying to make it clear that NABUCCO is not aimed against Russia.”
If we set aside statements by European politicians and bankers, the main question remains to be answered, i.e. whose gas will be pumped into the pipeline? It is indicative that although the officials of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, which are potential suppliers of gas for NABUCCO, attended the summit in Budapest, they stated merely generally-worded support for the project.
Russia`s envoy to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, has said Moscow offers Europe an alternative to NABUCCO – the South Stream pipeline passing through Turkey.
“The conduit already exists, and, after expansion, it will be able to transport 30bn cubic meters of gas annually. Moreover, Russia has gas available for the pipeline, while that for NABUCCO is not even there yet,” Chizhov maintained.
Transporting first gas via the NABUCCO pipeline, which will be an extension of the existing Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum conduit, is expected in 2013 at the earliest. Deliveries of gas from Kazakhstan, Iran and Iraq are possible in the future as well. Six shareholders – German RWЕ, Turkish Botas company, Romanian Transgas, Bulgarian Bulgargas, Austrian OMV, and Hungarian MOL – hold equal stakes in the project consortium.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused, at the last moment, to attend a summit on the NABUCCO gas pipeline project held in Budapest early this week. Instead, the country was represented at the event by Energy Minister Hilmi Guler, local media reported.
The Turkish premier warned earlier that if talks on Turkey`s admission to the European Union did not resume, Ankara might reconsider its support of the Western-backed project.
Talks on Turkey`s EU admission were launched in 2005 but were suspended later over tension caused by the Cyprus issue.
The NABUCCO pipeline is a new route for transporting gas from the resource-rich Caspian and Central Asia regions to Europe. It will deliver about 30 billion cubic meters of Azerbaijani and Turkmen gas a year to European markets through a 3,300-kilometer pipeline traveling via the territories of Azerbaijan and Turkey to Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Austria, while by-passing Russia. The project is valued at about 8 billion euros. Transporting the first gas via the pipeline is expected in 2013 at the earliest.
Sinan Ogan of the Ankara-based think-tank Turksam has said that following the Russia-Ukraine dispute over gas supplies in the past weeks that threatened Europe`s supplies, Turkey witnessed how important energy resources are for the EU. Thus, by using this leverage, Ankara is now trying to bolster its influence and to speed its admission to the 27-member bloc.
“Turkey, itself, is in need of gas. But, if need be, Turkey doesn`t have to participate in this project, and, instead, it will lay a pipeline from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and then sell gas to Europe on its own. The EU needs the NABUCCO project more.”
According to the analyst, the EU has, so far, sought a limited role for Turkey as a transit state in the project, but Ankara will now demand that it become one of the pipeline`s owners.
Azerbaijani former state adviser, analyst Vafa Guluzada, has said Turkey has fallen under Russia`s clout, as Ankara and Moscow have drawn very close of late both in the trade and tourism sectors.
Nonetheless, Guluzada believes the NABUCCO pipeline will be built. “America will step in, hold consultations with Ankara and the EU, and bring Turkey on board,” he concluded.

“The only moderate Iranian is one who has run out of bullets.” –Robert Gates

Is Gates Undermining Another Opening to Iran?

Published on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 by Inter Press Service (IPS)

by Gareth Porter


WASHINGTON – When U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Iran of “subversive activity” in Latin America Tuesday, it raised the question whether he is trying to discourage President Barack Obama from abandoning the hard line policy of coercive diplomacy toward Iran he has favored for nearly three decades.

In making a new accusation against Iran, just as Obama is still considering his diplomatic options on Iran, Gates appears to reprising his role in undermining a plan by President George H. W. Bush in early 1992 to announce goodwill gestures to Iran as reciprocity for Iranian help in freeing U.S. hostages from Lebanon.

Bush ultimately abandoned the plan, which had been three years in the making, after Gates, as CIA director, claimed in Congressional appearances that new intelligence showed Iran was seeking weapons of mass destruction and planning terrorist attacks.

In his Senate armed services committee testimony Tuesday, Gates said Iran was “opening a lot of offices and a lot of fronts behind which they interfere in what is going on”. Gates offered no further explanation for what sounded like a Cold War-era propaganda charge against the Soviet Union.

It was not clear why Gates would make such an accusation on a non-military issue unless he was hoping to throw sand in the diplomatic gears on Iran.

Gates has made no secret of his skepticism about any softening of U.S. policy toward Iran. In response to a question at the National Defense University last September on how he would advise the next president to improve relations with Iran, Gates implicitly rejected what he called “outreach” to Iran as useless.

“[W]e have to look at the history of outreach [to Iran] that was very real, under successive presidents, and did not yield any results,” he said.

In the 1980s, Gates was known at the CIA as a hardliner not only on the Soviet Union but on Iran as well. Former CIA official Graham Fuller recalled in an interview that Gates often repeated in staff meetings, “The only moderate Iranian is one who has run out of bullets.”

Gates’s 1992 sabotage of the Bush plan for reciprocating Iran goodwill relied in part on making public charges against Iran which created a more unfavorable political climate in Washington for such a policy.

Bush had referred in his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 1989, to U.S. hostages being held by militant groups in Lebanon and suggested that “assistance” on the issue would be “long remembered”, adding, “Goodwill begets goodwill.” That was a clear signal to Iran of a willingness to respond positively to Iranian assistance in freeing the hostages.

After Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a pragmatic conservative, was elected Iranian president in July 1989, Bush asked U.N. Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar to convey a message to Rafsanjani: Bush was ready to improve U.S.-Iran relations if Iran used its influence in Lebanon to free the U.S. hostages. Giandomenico Picco, the U.N. negotiator sent to meet with Rafsanjani, recalled in an interview with IPS that he repeated Bush’s inaugural pledge to the Iranian president.

In 1991, Rafsanjani used both secret intermediaries and shuttle diplomacy by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akhbar Velayati to ensure the release of hostages held by anti-Western groups in Lebanon. Rafsanjani later told Picco that he had to use considerable Iranian political capital in Lebanon to get the hostages released in the expectation that it would bring a U.S. reciprocal gesture, according to the U.N. negotiator.

In a meeting with Picco six weeks after the last U.S. hostage was released in early December 1991, Bush’s National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft said “it might be possible” to take Iran off the terrorist list, reduce economic sanctions and further compensate Iranians for the July 1988 shoot-down of an Iranian civilian Airbus by the U.S. navy, which had killed all 290 Iranian passengers and crew. Scowcroft believed a decision might be made in early March.

Picco took personal notes of the meeting, from which he quoted in the interview.

On Feb. 25, 1992, Scowcroft again met Picco and told him that the administration was considering allowing the sale of some airplanes and parts and easing other economic sanctions, according to Picco’s notes.

But at a meeting in Washington on Apr. 10, Scowcroft informed Picco that there would be “no goodwill to beget goodwill”.

Scowcroft explained the sudden scuttling of the initiative by citing new intelligence on Iran. He referred to an alleged assassination of an Iranian national in Connecticut by Iranian agents and intelligence reports that Iran would use “Hezbollah types” in Europe and elsewhere to respond to Israel’s assassination of Hezbollah leader Abbas Mussawi in southern Lebanon in February.

Scowcroft also cited intelligence that Iran had made a policy decision to follow “a different road” from one that would have allowed improved relations with Washington. He said that intelligence related to Iranian “rearmament” and to its nuclear program, according to Picco’s notes.

But the alleged new intelligence on Iran cited by Scowcroft reflected the personal views of Gates, who had become CIA director for the second time in November 1991.

Gates was assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor from 1989 to 1991, and was well aware of the plan to make a gesture to Iran. His response after returning as CIA director was to launch a series of new accusations about the threat from Iran.

In Congressional testimony in January 1992, Gates said Iran’s rearmament effort included “programs in weapons of mass destruction not only to prepare for the potential reemergence of the Iraqi special weapons threat but to solidify Iran’s preeminent position in the gulf and Southeast [sic] Asia”.

Gates testified in February 1992 that Iran was “building up its special weapons capabilities” and the following month, he told Congress that Iran was seeking nuclear, chemical and biological weapons “capabilities” and was “probably” going to “promote terrorism”.

But Gates was not accurately reflecting a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran which had been completed on Oct. 17, 1991, just before he became director. New York Times reporter Elaine Sciolino wrote just two weeks after the NIE was completed that it concluded only that “some” Iranian leaders were calling for a nuclear weapons program, and that the nuclear program was still in its infancy.

Sciolino reported that “some administration officials” believed the NIE “underestimates the scope of Iranian intentions”, suggesting that it had not supported Gates’s personal views on the issue.

The current intelligence reports sent to the White House to strengthen the argument against any gesture to Iran also turned out to be misleading. No allegation of an Iranian role in a murder in Connecticut has ever surfaced. And no terrorist attack by “Hezbollah types” in retaliation for the Israeli assassination is known to have occurred.

That was not even the first time Gates had sought to use intelligence to torpedo an effort to achieve an opening with an adversary. During the Ronald Reagan administration, Gates, as CIA deputy director and then director, had discouraged any warming toward the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, asserting that he would not be able to alter Soviet policy toward the United States. Former Secretary of State George Shultz decried Gates’s politicized intelligence to bolster the case against policy change his 1993 memoirs.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam [1]”, was published in 2006.

Turkish Gladio-like groups not a surprise, says researcher

Turkish Gladio-like groups not a surprise, says researcher

It would be a surprise not to have clandestine groups and structures in Turkey that bear the basic qualities of Operation Gladio — a stay-behind army set up in NATO countries during cold war years to counter a communist invasion — says Philip Willan, who has been researching the level and pattern of cooperation between secret services and the mafia, in addition to unsolved and mysterious assassinations.

Speaking to the Cihan news agency, Willan said Ergenekon, a clandestine terrorist organization charged with plotting to overthrow the government, is very similar to the Gladio network. He also stated that newly emerging evidence about Ergenekon in Turkey also highlighted the similarity. Describing Gladio as an organization set up by NATO through the US and British secret services and special operations units during World War II to prevent an invasion of Italy by the Eastern Bloc, Willan said the Gladio operation recruited individuals known for their anti-communist beliefs. The group also had arms and explosives caches buried underground in a large number of places in Italy.

Willan said Gladio employed a “Strategy of Chaos” to prevent some democratic forces from coming to power in Italy. He said at the time, secret services working for Gladio started gathering personal information about famous politicians, journalists and businessmen for the purpose of blackmail, just as some groups inside Ergenekon are accused of doing.

Willan said an ultranationalist group called “Grey Wolves” was active in Turkey’s intelligence services during the years of Gladio. CIA operations officer Duane Clarridge, who served both in Turkey and Italy, had contacts with both the Italian Gladio and its Turkish version. Mehmet Ali Ağca, whose attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II failed in 1981, was a link to the relationship between the secret services in the two Mediterranean countries, according to Willan. Gladio also had known links with a business group called P2, an illegal splinter Masonic organization led by Licio Gelli.

Willan said the role of the media is of prime importance in shedding light on the secret organizations that have created a society of fear, saying a free media and the elected parliament should make strong efforts to bring such networks to light. Willan said the failure to bring these to light would generate a constant environment of conflict within the country, endangering democracy.

He also said the prosecutors conducting the investigation and judges were facing great pressure from the probe’s rivals in Italy. The prosecutors could only start investigating these issues more comfortably after the end of the Cold War. Italian courts, he said, are given great powers by the Italian constitution, but their ability to use these powers depends on the courage of the judges.

He said the exposure of secret organizations that terrorize society, such as Ergenekon and Gladio, is extremely important for any society. He also said there still is much to be revealed about Ergenekon, noting that there were still many things in Italy that remain secret.

Drone attacks lead to sharp rise in mental ailments

Drone attacks lead to sharp rise in mental ailments

By By Mushtaq Yusufzai
PESHAWAR: Frequent drone attacks on suspected militants’ hideouts in South and North Waziristan and elsewhere in the rugged mountainous tribal region have started negatively affecting the minds of people, particularly children and women, in many ways.

In North Waziristan, the psychological impact of continuing drone attacks is leading to mental disorders, especially among women and children, observed Dr Munir Ahmad, a 50-year-old psychiatrist from Miramshah. “The aftermath of drone hits is alarming, as far as its impact on the psyche of women and children is concerned.”

In an exclusive telephonic chat with The News from the Gomal Medical College in Dera Ismail Khan, Dr Munir Ahmad confirmed a sharp rise in mental ailments. Two years ago, he examined about 10 patients with different mental disorders during a single visit to the area. As the number of such patients has dramatically shot up, the psychiatrist now sees 160 patients a day.

Uncontrollable fears and short temper are common corollaries of the murder and mayhem spawned by the drone raids. “The real worry is long-term effects on children,” observed Dr Munir, who hails from North Waziristan and now visits his native town once a month to examine patients.

“After disappointment, the next stage is aggression followed by violence,” Dr Munir elaborated, reckoning that 90 per cent of North Waziristan residents were suffering from some kind of mental diseases because of violence in the region.

“I don’t have the resources to see so many mentally disturbed people. And they can’t afford to be without help, as they wait for me to see them. Thus, many take their patients to distant districts like Bannu, Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan,” he said.

Schoolteacher Muhammad Yaqoob said: “Children are the worst victims of this war. Students of the Government Primary School, Danday Darpakhel, where I have been teaching, would always look up to the sky.”

In South Waziristan, the drone raids have instilled a sense of insecurity among the people. Many people opine the attacks tend to be counterproductive, promoting militancy and terrorism. Relatives of the people killed in Predator strikes eventually become suicide bombers, they argue.

A farmer from Mirali town of North Waziristan, Mohammad Wali, recalled his neighbour lost four blood relatives in one such instance. Shell-shocked by the killing of his mother, two sisters and a seven-year-old brother in Khaisura village, he decided to avenge the irreparable loss.

“In retaliation, he rammed an explosive-laden car into a military convoy in Nawrak village in Mirali and killed 12 people, 10 of them Army soldiers and two civilians, on September 20, 2008,” recalled Mohammad Wali.

Army holds free medical camp in North Waziristan

Army holds free medical camp in North Waziristan

Thursday, January 29, 2009
By Bureau report
PESHAWAR: The Army Medical Corps held a free medical camp at Miramshah in North Waziristan Agency to provide healthcare facilities to people at their doorstep.

Over 350 patients, mainly women and children, were provided diagnostic facilities at the camp established in Saidgai area of the agency headquarter. Medical specialists, including lady doctors of Army Medical Corps, examined the patients. More than 200 children were also administered polio drops.

The free medical camp was part of the army’s efforts to provide healthcare facilities to the underprivileged people at their doorstep in the remote parts of the tribal areas. Provision of medical facilities to people has been given top priority since the army entered the tribal areas in 2001. Troops also distributed biscuits, sweets and stationery items to the children.

Huge crowds join French strikes

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Crowds clash with police in Paris

Huge crowds join French strikes

Huge crowds have taken to the streets in France to protest over the handling of the economic crisis, causing disruption to rail and air services.

Unions said 2.5m workers had rallied to demand action to protect wages and jobs. Police put the total at 1m.

President Nicolas Sarkozy said concerns over the crisis were legitimate and the government had to listen and act.

He will meet union and business leaders next month to discuss what programme of reforms to follow this year, he said.

Overall, the government estimated that a quarter of the country’s public sector workers had joined the action, which was called by eight major French unions. The unions put the figure higher.

A spokesman for the CGT union told AFP that 2.5m people across the country had taken part in the day’s protests. French police put the number at just over 1m.

CGT leader Bernard Thibault called on Mr Sarkozy to recognise the gravity of the situation and “reassess his measures” to deal with the economic crisis.

In Paris, police said some 65,000 demonstrators had joined a march from the Place de la Bastille towards the centre of the city.

There were reports of violent outbreaks on the outskirts of the protest as it reached central Paris, with dozens of youths throwing bottles and lighting fires in a main shopping street.

Police in riot gear charged the youths, pushing them back on to the Place de l’Opera where the  crowds were gathering, but the situation remained volatile.There were repeated baton charges, and after fires were lit on some of Paris’ best-known boulevards, police used tear gas on the minority of protesters who were violent.

Earlier, some 25,000 to 30,000 people rallied in the city of Lyon, according to organisers and police.

In Marseille, organisers and the authorities disagreed, with the former putting the number of demonstrators at 300,000 but the police estimating 24,000 had taken part.

The protests are against the worsening economic climate in France and at what people believe to be the government’s poor handling of the crisis.

Opposition Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry said people were out in the streets “to express what worries them: the fact that they work and yet cannot make ends meet, retired people who just can’t make it [financially], the fear of redundancies, and a president of the Republic and a government that just don’t want to change policy”.

Staying home

The strike action disrupted transport services but did not cause the paralysis forecast by unions.

Regional trains and those in and around Paris were hit, and a third of flights from Orly airport were cancelled.

Striking is… the national sport, a selfish and narrow-minded way of dealing with just about any disagreement
Brigitte Cavanagh, Paris

Forty per cent of regional services were running, train operator SNCF said, and 60% of high-speed TGV services. Three-quarters of metro trains were running in Paris.Paris’s second airport was heavily hit by the strike, but flights out of the larger Charles de Gaulle hub were experiencing only short delays, AFP news agency said.

Schools, banks, hospitals, post offices and courts were also hit as workers stayed at home. Officials said just over a third of teachers and a quarter of postal and power company workers were on strike.

According to a 25 January poll by CSA-Opinion for Le Parisien, 69% of the French public backs the strike.

“I’m tired and frozen after waiting half-an-hour on the platform,” commuter Sandrine Dermont told AFP as she arrived by train in Paris.

“But I’m prepared to accept that when it’s a movement to defend our spending power and jobs. I’ll join the street protests during my lunch break,” she said.

Hit hard

Many people are furious that Mr Sarkozy said there was no money left to raise wages and consumer spending power, but nonetheless managed to find billions of euros to bail out floundering French banks, says the BBC’s Emma-Jane Kirby in Paris.

The walk-out has affected transport, education and postal services throughout the country, our correspondent says, and is the biggest one-day strike since Mr Sarkozy took up office.

With unemployment looking likely to reach 10% next year, she says, the protesters hope he will drop his programme of cost-cutting reforms and focus instead on protecting workers’ jobs and wages.

Mr Sarkozy cannot ignore this demonstration of anger, our correspondent adds. Street protests have repeatedly brought down French leaders and Mr Sarkozy does not want his government added to that list of casualties.

“We want to show how the people are dissatisfied with the situation at the moment,” Thierry Dedieu of the CFDT general workers’ union told the BBC.

People had the feeling they were paying for a crisis they were not responsible for, he added.

But earlier in the week, French Finance Minister Eric Woerth condemned the strike organisers, accusing them of scare-mongering during a time of economic uncertainty.

…and now the Mitchell fantasy

…and now the Mitchell fantasy

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Written by Khalid Amayreh
Thursday, 29 January 2009 12:57

It is really difficult to take seriously those who think that the new American envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, has a real chance of getting  Israel, the Nazi-like entity,   to end its occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip,  and therefore achieve a just and lasting peace in this tortured part of the world.

True, Mitchell succeeded in resolving the 800-year-old conflict in Northern Ireland . However, with Israel in tight control of the American Congress, media and public discourse, it is unlikely that Mitchell will be able to do much in terms of pressuring the apartheid state to take a strategic decision to end its  40-year-old colonialist occupation of Palestinian territories.

The factors militating against  Mitchell’s mission are numerous and overwhelming.

First, Mitchell should be honest enough to realize that Israel has effectively killed any realistic prospects of creating  a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank . The building of hundreds of Jewish-only colonies throughout the occupied territories has simply left no room for establishing such a state.

This is of course unless a quisling Palestinian leadership will  be cajoled or coerced into accepting a “state” made up of disconnected Bantustans and townships under tight Israeli control.

Needless to say, such a  scandalous sell-out of Palestinian rights would be strongly and violently  rejected by a vast majority  of Palestinians, and whatever  Palestinian “Judenrat” acceding to such  deal would be mercilessly crushed and its members killed like stray dogs in the streets of the West Bank .

Traitors who trade the national patrimony of their people  for money, investment and preferential treatment by America and Israel can’t really hope for a better treatment from their people. This is how  traitors are treated everywhere.

Moreover, it should be amply clear by now  that no Israeli government would be able, even if willing, to dismantle the hundreds of settlements built on occupied Arab land since 1967.

The Israeli society and political environment are simply too jingoistic to allow any Israeli government to undo the “gains” of the 1967 war.

There are those who may argue that the settlers and their supporters can be overruled by a majority of Israelis who want peace. Well, this is not an accurate appraisal of reality. The settlers and their supporters represent a real majority within the Israeli society and especially within the Israeli army, as the upcoming Israeli elections will undoubtedly show.

This is the reason why successive Israeli governments  consistently refrained from dismantling even a single settlement, including  those created brazenly illegally, even according to the lopsided  Israeli law itself. (All settlements are illegal according to international law as elucidated a few years ago by the International Court of Justice in the Hague ).

Israeli leaders know deep in their heart that dismantling settlements and removing settlers  could lead to a Jewish civil war. Olmert, whose election platform a few years ago was based on a promise to remove settlements east of the “Separation Wall,” eventually cringed before the settlers and didn’t dare to remove a single outpost.

Hence, it is inconceivable that in the absence of a truly massive political and psychological earthquake hitting the collective Israeli psyche, no Israeli government would be able to embark on the unthinkable task of dismantling the settlements and withdrawing to the armistice lines of the 4th of June, 1967 .

Needless to say, such an “earthquake” can only be triggered by the United States , Israel’s guardian-ally. However, for such an earthquake to occur in Israel ,  a stronger political earthquake would have to occur in Washington D.C. first.

I am talking about a mental and political transformation, a real revolution that would free the American political class from the stranglehold of American Zionism, the demonic ghoul now gripping America by the throat.

This takes us  to another question. Is America capable of extricating herself from  this Zionist grip? Can America say “No” to the Israeli bully and act on it? Can America outsmart and outmaneuver the  tyrannical Zionist clique enslaving America now?

I am raising these questions because all the old tools of trying to resolve the conflict in Palestine have been  tried ad nauseam and proven ineffective and bankrupt.

This necessarily requires new “unorthodox” and “un-classical” tools that would convince Israel that “enough is enough” and that America wouldn’t continue to play the role of powerful whore in the service of Zionist supremacy in the Middle East .

But in order to reach such a realization, America would have to think honestly and do a lot of soul-searching. America would have to confront itself with the naked facts about the Nazi-like monster known as Israel. America would have to face the fact that the huge  crisis now haunting the American economy is attributed first and foremost to Israel . More to the point, America needs to realize that unless Israel is reined in, America itself will go down. Isn’t America already going down, at least in part because it allowed a tiny criminal entity 10,000 miles away to dictate American policy and behavior toward the rest of the world.

After all, it was Israel that by way of deception got the unmissed ignoramus of the White House, George Bush,  to invade, occupy and destroy two sovereign Muslim nations and murder or cause the death of over a million human beings.

It was Israel that envisaged the so-called  “war on terror.” And it may well be proven eventually that Israel stood behind the 9/11 events. Yes, I don’t  possess irrefutable evidence proving this point right  now, but the cunning  Zionist serpent is too demonic,  too nefarious and too sly to be given the benefit of the doubt.

Hence, I would like to give the following advice to Mr. Mitchell.

Don’t  be naïve, Israel and its leaders will try to dilute your mission by eviscerating it of  substance.  They will seek to overwhelm you with mountains of red-herring tactics. They will raise all sorts of issues, real and imagined to confuse you. They will shamelessly raise the issue of terror, ignoring the cardinal fact that Israel herself is the most satanic embodiment of terror in this world. They will speak about “anti-Semitism,” overlooking the obvious  fact that Israel’s Nazi behaviors, e.g. the recent genocidal blitzkrieg in Gaza , are the premier generator of anti-Semitism around the world.

They will confront you with an avalanche of distractions to divert attention from the real core issue, their enduring Nazi-like occupation of Palestinian land and their unmitigated oppression of the Palestinian people.

If you are brave and honest, confront them, let them frown in your face, let them get angry. But don’t  cower, or cave in to their bullying tactics, even if they threaten to mobilize Congress against you and your boss in Washington .

They might hint to you that the Jews control America and could therefore  get the President to fire you. Don’t be impressed by this. Report it directly to Mr. Obama.

You are likely to be affronted soon by a man named Benyamin Netanyah, who is likely to become Israel’s next Prime Minister.

This man is a pathological liar, a professional propagandist who thinks that effective hasbara (propaganda) is the solution for all problems. Diversionary tactics and  verbal prevarication are his policy and sheer mendacity is his modus operandi. So, don’t be deceived by his false magic.

Finally, I would like to say the following:

Be honest and frank with your boss in Washington . Tell him that Israel doesn’t want peace and is not seeking true peace partners among Palestinians.

A country that has built and continues to build settlements on stolen land obviously doesn’t want peace. Moreover,  a country that bullies   peace partners, e.g. the Palestinian Authority,  to act and behave  very much like the “Jewish councils” in Nazi-occupied Europe did, doesn’t seek genuine peace partners, but genuine quislings and bona fide collaborators.

Also, tell Mr. Obama that Israel and her leaders don’t really  take America seriously. I give you one little example. In eight years of Bush’s misrule, and despite incessant and occasionally aggressive demands from Washington to remove roadblocks from the West Bank to enhance  Palestinian mobility  and help revive the region’s  moribund economy, Israel actually increased rather than decreased the number of these evil checkpoints and roadblocks…and they did it under America ’s nose.

(Didn’t Olmert boast recently  about ordering President Bush to instruct Condoleezza Rice to abstain from voting in favor of a UNSC resolution calling for ceasefire in the Gaza Strip?)

Remember these barriers are erected in the heart of Palestinian population centers, not along side the Green Line, e.g. between Israel and the West Bank .  They are meant primarily  to torment and savage the Palestinian people.

This was done while Israeli leaders and officials  were having chummy chats with  Rice who visited Occupied Jerusalem and Ramalla  24 times. And the result  of all her visits was a great fat zero. Well, Mr. Mitchell, try to learn from Rice’s monumental failure…don’t repeat it, even if you have to quit.

Good luck Mr. Mitchell.

Pakistan claims arrests of 3 alleged terrorists trained in India

Pakistan claims arrests of 3 alleged terrorists trained in India

Islamabad – A senior Pakistani police officer on Thursday announced the arrest of three people he said were ‘trained and pampered’ by the Indian intelligence agency for carrying out terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

The Pakistani nationals had planned to target government buildings and important personalities, including religious figures, city police chief Pervez Rathore told reporters in Lahore, the capital of the eastern province of Punjab.

Rathore said the three suspects were detained close to the Pakistan-India border, which, he said, they crossed several times to receive training in bomb making from India’s Research and Analysis Wing spy agency.

‘They (Indian agents) were encouraging them, they were training them and they paid them in millions,’ he said.

During preliminary interrogations, the detainees confessed that they detonated a dust-bin bomb in 2006 in Lahore, killing two bystanders and injuring 16, the police officer said.

The allegations came as tensions simmered between Indian and Pakistan in the aftermath of the November 26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which killed more than 170 people.

India blamed the Pakistan-based Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist organization for the carnage. Although Islamabad admitted that the only alleged Mumbai attacker to be arrested is a Pakistani national, it categorically denied patronizing the four-day siege.

Rathore said Thursday that the three arrested men were involved in reconnaissance of Pakistani landmarks for the Indian spy agency and they had also recently been focusing on LeT offices.