Saturday, 4 July 2009

Daily Mail: rumours swell that the government staged 7/7


On 4 July 2009, the UK's Daily Mail newspaper has this headline:

Conspiracy fever: As rumours swell that the government staged 7/7, victims' relatives call for a proper inquiry

The Mail asks: which train did the four Muslims catch from Luton to London on the morning of the bomb blasts?

The three separate Tube explosions at Edgware Road, Aldgate and King's Cross occurred together at exactly 8.50am.

The official reports said the bombers got on the 7.40am train from Luton.

However, the 7.40am train never ran that morning.

It was cancelled.

Survivors pointed out the error.

The Government then changed its mind and said the bombers caught the 7.25 am from Luton, for the 35-minute journey to King's Cross.

It was due to arrive in the capital at 8am.

However, this train ran 23 minutes late.

It arrived in London at 8.23am, say station officials.

The three separate Tube explosions at Edgware Road, Aldgate and King's Cross occurred together at exactly 8.50am.

It looks as if it would be impossible for the 'bombers' to get to their different destinations in time.
Reportedly, it takes seven minutes to walk from the Thameslink line station to the tube station at the main King's Cross station.

Police say the four men were seen on the main King's Cross concourse at 8.26am, although no CCTV footage has ever been made public.

How had the men got there in three short minutes after getting off the Luton train at 8.23am?

Controversially, no CCTV images have been released of the alleged bombers actually in London.

There is a picture claiming to show the 'bombers' in Luton. In this Luton image "the quality is poor and the faces of three of the bombers are unidentifiable."

This photo is timed at four seconds before 7.22am.

The men would have had just three minutes to walk up the stairs at Luton, buy their £22 day return tickets and get to the platform, which was packed with commuters because of the earlier travel disruptions.

A video called Ripple Effect accuses Tony Blair, and elements of the Government, the police, and the British and Israeli Secret Services of carrying out the London Tube bombings.

It is alleged that the four British Muslims were tricked into taking part in what they were told would be a mock anti-terror training exercise.

The Ripple Effect video claims government agents set off pre-planted explosives under the three Tube trains and on the bus.

It suggests that the four Muslims were not on any of the Tube trains.

Dr Mohammad Naseem, the chairman of Birmingham's Central Mosque, says: 'We do not accept the government version of July 7, 2005. The Ripple Effect video is more convincing than the official statements.'

Naseem has said that the identities of the bombers were discovered by the police suspiciously quickly.

'When a body is blown up, it is destroyed. How is it that the identification papers found at the bomb scenes of these men were still intact? Were they planted?'

The Daily mail asks:

Why did the four bombers get return tickets to London if they were on a one-way suicide mission?

Why are there no CCTV images of the four together in London even though the city has thousands upon thousands of such cameras in public places?

Why did so many survivors of the Tube bombings say that the explosions came upwards through the floor of the trains, not down, as would be the case if a backpack blew up inside?

And why do no passengers on the London-bound Luton train clearly remember the four bombers with their huge rucksacks on that fateful morning?

There was a mock terrorist exercise going on in London that day.

Former Scotland Yard officer Peter Power said on BBC radio: 'At half-past nine this morning we were running an exercise for a company of over a thousand people in London based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.'


Israel cuts off water to Arab Druze towns on hottest day of year


July 04, 2009 01:49 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC News

The Israeli National Water Company has cut off the water supply to two Arab Druze towns inside Israel. While water cut-offs by Israeli authorities are common within the Occupied Territories of Gaza and the West Bank, they are fairly unheard of within Israel itself.

While the National Water Company, Mekorot, blamed the municipal authorities in the towns of Daliyat al-Karmel and Usafiya for collecting the fees and then keeping them instead of passing them on to the water company, the municipal authorities say the Ministry of Interior is to blame.

For the last five years, the towns have been under the control of a federally-appointed comptroller who was supposed to arrange a payment plan for the towns to pay off past debt to the water company. First, the two municipalities were combined under a single entity called Carmel City, and ‘Carmel City’ signed an 18-month payment plan that would have ended in May 2009.

But after six months, the entity ‘Carmel City’ was dissolved, and the two municipalities returned to having separate governing authorities. But apparently the federally-appointed comptroller did not take responsibility for following up on the 18-month payment plan made with the no-longer-existent Carmel City, and the plan expired with millions of shekels unpaid.

The water company makes no provision for the weather in their decisions to cut off water in non-payment cases. Instead, they happened to choose a day (July 1st) that is in the middle of a heat wave, and is in fact the hottest day so far this year.

Ordinary citizens who pay their water fees each month are outraged that the two municipalities have been completely cut off. Kamal Adwan, a resident of one of the towns, told Israeli daily Yediot Ahranoth, "It's not easy to get by without water in this heat. A few have water reservoirs or wells near their houses, others just have to buy bottled mineral water." Another resident, Samah Kayouif, told the Israeli daily that the residents had received no notice of an impending water cutoff, saying, "We woke up in the morning to find there was no water in the pipes. How do you shower? Shave? Go to the bathroom? Never mind just getting a drink. It's impossible to live like this, I had to go to work, but my wife took the kids and drove to her parents' because they have a rainwater reservoir."

Mekorot water company issued a statement saying that they "deeply regret" the suffering of ordinary citizens, but told those citizens to complain to their municipality.

'Mahmoud Abbas Does Not Plan on Running for Another Term'

'Mahmoud Abbas Does Not Plan on Running for Another Term'
Readers Number : 31

04/07/2009 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas does not plan on running for another term, Deputy Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Hassan Khraisheh said on Saturday.

According to Khraisheh, Abbas made the announcement in a meeting with Palestinian Parliament Speaker Aziz Duwaik, who was recently released from Israeli prison. Khraisheh was also present at the meeting.

Khraisheh, who is not a member of Hamas, but was elected to parliament as an independent candidate, spoke to Palestinian reporters but refused to give further details on the expected retirement.

However, Khraisheh did state that Abbas stressed in the meeting that his current term, that is scheduled to conclude in January, 2011, will be his last.

The deputy speaker added that Abbas proposed establishing a unity government, in which five to six Hamas members would serve.

He said this would enable the ministers to facilitate in the removal of the siege on the Gaza Strip.
Khraisheh also noted that Abbas expressed his willingness to put an end to Palestinian division, and agreed on continued cooperation with Duwaik.

The report comes as a surprise as Abbas has recently expressed determination to run for another term as president. The development also puts at risk progress of talks on the possibility of holding elections in January 2010, the date when the Palestinian parliament ends its term.

Meanwhile, Egypt continues its efforts to convince Hamas and Fatah to agree on a date for elections, regardless of disagreements on other issues between the two parties.

Torture by Permission of Judiciary Reflects Official Terrorism of IOA (Report)

Torture by Permission of Judiciary Reflects Official Terrorism of IOA (Report)

[ 04/07/2009 - 03:08 PM ]

Amid the laughter of Israeli soldiers mocking all norms and values, the officer calls out: “Number Three: step forward.” With weak and hesitant steps, one of the six Palestinian children steps forward to receive several blows on his skinny body and then return to his comrades. Then another child is called forth to undergo the same treatment while the soldiers laugh.

For 14 hours six children from Ramallah were continuously subjected to brutal torture, beatings, sitting in awkward positions, and a stream of insults and threats, after being abducted from the street on their way home from school.

One of the children who reported the incident, 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Akroob, said: “They prevented us from drinking water, eating any food or going to the bathroom throughout the period of the interrogation and torture. They would call each of us by a number from one to six; if anyone delayed a few seconds after hearing the number, he was subjected to a double dose of torture and beatings; as a result, all of us were covered with bruises, cuts and welts, some of which are still on our bodies two weeks after the incident.”

As usual, the Israeli police opened an investigation into the incident, as they do for the hundreds, nay thousands, of attacks on Palestinians and the use of prohibited methods of torture against them; such investigations result in nothing more than the opening of files that are then promptly forgotten.

This occurrence is one of the many incidents of torture against Palestinian prisoners under the Zionist occupation, a policy that violates all international norms. Torture is routinely practiced in all its forms, and even legitimized by the courts and through the enactment of laws that encourage it.

The Ministry of Prisoners in a report issued on Friday, June 26th (coinciding with World Anti-Torture Day) stated: “The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) has no compunctions about using torture against Palestinian prisoners in its prisons. The torture starts from the moment of the kidnapping, which is carried out in an atmosphere of terrorism and gunfire, then the binding and blindfolding of the prisoner, after which he is thrown into a military jeep, where he is beaten, threatened and insulted. Once he arrives at an interrogation and detention center, he will be subjected to the harshest forms of humiliation and torture to extract a confession from him by force.”

The Ministry pointed out that the Israelis use more than 100 methods for interrogation and torture and that these methods have led to the death of 70 prisoners in the occupation’s jails, out of a total of 196 martyrs of the prisoner’s movement.

The Public Committee against Torture, an Israeli organization, stressed that torture may be used against Palestinian prisoners right from the time of their arrest, or when they are transferred to detention centers, or after being sentenced to prison. Prisoners are routinely shackled in a violent and painful manner, even when they pose no danger, including minors who are supposed to be protected by international law, and even by Israeli law. All this occurs with the knowledge of Israeli judicial and legislative authorities, who take no punitive action against the perpetrators. The Committee has cited more than 600 cases of prisoners who have been subjected to torture.

The two human rights organizations, B’tselem and Hamoked, have stated in previous reports that interrogators from the Israeli security services routinely mistreat Palestinian prisoners physically and psychologically, and sometimes use methods that are classified as torture and, hence, prohibited by international conventions.

Doctors Involved in the Torture!

Riyad al-Ashqar, Director of the Information Department in the Ministry, indicated that the practice of torture in the prisons of the occupation is not confined to guards or interrogators, but rather includes those who call themselves “doctors” and “nurses”, professions that are supposed to be purely humanitarian.

The Israeli organization, Physicians for Human Rights, revealed that prison doctors participate in the torture of prisoners by denying them treatment in order to force them to confess.

They also deliberately ignore diseases prisoners suffer, discovered during the routine exam conducted when a prisoner first arrives at the prison, and write false reports that the prisoners are in good health and not suffering from any disease.

This constitutes a medical license for interrogators to continue torturing them by clearing the way for the use of greater physical and psychological pressure on the prisoner. That makes these doctors complicit in the torture of prisoners.

State Terrorism

Al-Ashqar expressed astonishment at the world’s unconscionable silence over the open practice of torture, despite dozens of relevant reports which confirm that the international community and the organizations of the United Nations have not lifted a finger to condemn the occupation for committing war crimes against Palestinian prisoners.

Even more serious, the Zionist judicial system provides legal legitimacy for torture, allowing its perpetrators to carry on without accountability or punishment.

It is evidence of the official state terrorism conducted by the occupying power, which does not abide by any convention or international law, but at the same time calls for its application in the case of the captive soldier, Gilad Shalit, being held by Palestinian factions in Gaza.

Breaking the Law

Al-Ashqar revealed that the Israeli government gives a green light to interrogation teams to exercise torture against Palestinian prisoners. The Israeli courts sanction the use of violence against prisoners of war without respect for the dignity of the human person, in violation of all international conventions and treaties that prohibit the use of torture against prisoners. They pay no mind to such conventions, for they consider them nothing more than ink on paper.

He said that the guidelines issued by Israeli courts are quite contrary to the principles of human rights and to the Fourth Geneva Convention and its appendices; for international law has categorically prohibited torture and has not allowed any justification for its use.

In fact, it has devoted a special convention specifically against torture, in addition to the many articles and principles contained in treaties and other international conventions; for example, Article VII of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel treatment or punishment or inhuman or degrading treatment.”

Also, the sixth principle of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment states: “No person undergoing any form of detention or imprisonment shall be subjected to torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. No circumstances can be invoked to justify torture.”

Where Are Human Rights?!

Al-Ashqar asked: “Where are the human rights conventions when it comes to the 65 female Palestinian prisoners subjected to every form of oppression and terror; who are deprived of their rights to visits and medical treatment; who continue to be subjected to strip searches, and whose rooms are burst into late at night for brutal and barbaric searches; who are imprisoned along with female common criminals who verbally abuse and humiliate them daily; who are detained in prisons that do not meet the minimum health requirements due to insufficient access to sunlight and fresh air?

“What is the crime of Yusuf, the infant son of the prisoner, Fatima al-Zak, that he is deprived of liberty and forced to live with his mother in such inhumane conditions, and is subjected to all the violations suffered by the rest of the prisoners? He must undergo the hardships of traveling for long hours without food or air in the event of a court hearing for his mother, during which he is held for hours in the prison vehicle and then in a cell of the court under harsh and unhealthy conditions for a child not more than 17 months of age!

“And where are the human rights conventions when it comes to the 1,600 sick prisoners suffering from chronic and other various diseases? A large number of them are in need of urgent surgical operations, yet the prison administration sits idly by, deliberately ignoring serious medical conditions that could lead to death in case of continued medical negligence. 49 prisoners have died as a result of medical negligence.”

100 Methods of Torture

The report pointed out that the occupation uses dozens of methods of prohibited physical and psychological torture. It is a rare Palestinian prisoner who is not subjected to some form of torture, and most prisoners are subjected to more than one of the more than 100 torture methods in the Zionist repertoire.

Statistics show that 98% of the prisoners abducted by Israeli authorities are tortured in the interrogation cellars and detention centers of the Zionist security forces.

One of the most famous torture methods is known as "Shabh" to which prisoners are subjected for long periods. “The Shabh” is a process in which the hands of the detainee are cuffed behind his back and a bag of filth is slipped over his head; he is then forced to sit on a chair sized for a small child for several days or weeks, causing him pain in his back and spine.

In another method, a prisoner is placed in a cramped refrigerator, a cube with interior dimensions of about two feet per edge (70 cm3). His hands are cuffed behind his back; cold air is then pumped in from an opening at the top of the cube until the temperature inside is zero degrees centigrade; this leads to the prisoner freezing inside the refrigerator till he is racked by violent tremors, which can lead to the breakage of ribs.

Another technique is shackling prisoners in painful positions, such as cuffing the calves and pulling them backwards underneath the chair; then pulling the upper body of the prisoner backward over the top of the chair. Loud music is also employed; as is covering the head and face with a dirty bag reeking of rotten flesh.

Another technique is to shine a powerful light directly into the prisoner’s eyes. Another is to lay the prisoner on his back with his hands cuffed beneath him in order to induce severe pain in the hands from his own body weight pressing down on them. The interrogator may also sit on his chest to further increase the pressure and pain so as to extract a confession.

Another technique is to force prisoners to stand for long periods. One of the most sinister methods employed is to put the detainee in a room with turncoat Palestinians working with the occupation authorities; they attempt to convince the prisoner that they are activists like him in an attempt to draw him out about his activities on the outside. If he refuses to talk, they will attack and beat him.

The effects of torture are not limited to the period of interrogation and detention. A number of prisoners become permanently physically disabled as a result of ongoing torture, not to mention the long-term psychological effects of imprisonment on the minds of prisoners, effects that remain with them long after their physical release from prison. Dozens of them have died as a result; among them: Hayel Abu Zaid from occupied Golan, who was martyred on July 7th, 2005, and Murad Abu Sakoot of Hebron, who died January 13th, 2007 in a hospital in Jordan.

The Most Severe Form of Torture

Torture is not limited to such means; rather, the occupation authorities have devised a form of torture more severe than physical abuse: psychological abuse through solitary confinement, which can make prisoners mentally ill for long periods. It may even drive some of them thoroughly insane or at least cause them to lose metal and legal competence, which is what happened to ‘Uwaidah Kallab of the Gaza Strip.

Isolation should be considered a form of slow and systematic murder of prisoners. A prisoner will be left alone for several months or years in a small cell, tightly sealed by a thick metal door, that sunlight never reaches.

He will not see anyone or talk with other prisoners, and he will be deprived of all means of communication with the outside world, even of visits. The guards will search his room daily in order to increase the psychological sense of violation and insecurity. If he gets sick, he will be deprived of medical treatment. The abuse is rounded out with beatings, humiliation, and placement of his cell in prison wings filled with common criminals.

The Ministry of Prisoners called on the American human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, which has called for Hamas to allow the Red Cross to visit Shalit, to join with the Red Cross in putting pressure on the occupation to allow the families of prisoners from the Gaza Strip to visit them in order to detect the prohibited methods of torture used by the occupation against the prisoners.

These organizations should not marshal all their resources for the benefit of one Zionist prisoner while overlooking the suffering of eleven thousand Palestinian prisoners.

Helen Thomas: Not Even Nixon Tried to Control the Media Like Obama Administration


Helen Thomas, a mainstream media elder spokeswoman, is sharper than other members of the US press corps half her age. This testy exchange between White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Chip Reid (CBS) and Helen Thomas (Hearst News Service) is significant because it shows how even the mainstream press corps are becoming frustrated with increasingly tight regulation of the press by the current White House. Thomas, who has covered every administration since Kennedy, told that “not even Richard Nixon tried to control the press the way President Obama is trying to control the press.” Thomas cites a recent arrangement between the Obama Administration and a Huffington Post journalist who was invited to President Obama’s press conference last week on the understanding that he would ask Obama a question about Iran. The CNSNews piece and transcript follows (h/t 99).

From CNSNews:

Following a testy exchange during Wednesday’s briefing with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas told that not even Richard Nixon tried to control the press the way President Obama is trying to control the press.

“Nixon didn’t try to do that,” Thomas said. “They couldn’t control (the media). They didn’t try.

“What the hell do they think we are, puppets?” Thomas said. “They’re supposed to stay out of our business. They are our public servants. We pay them.”

Thomas said she was especially concerned about the arrangement between the Obama Administration and a writer from the liberal Huffington Post Web site. The writer was invited by the White House to President Obama’s press conference last week on the understanding that he would ask Obama a question about Iran from among questions that had been sent to him by people in Iran.

“When you call the reporter the night before you know damn well what they are going to ask to control you,” Thomas said.

“I’m not saying there has never been managed news before, but this is carried to fare-thee-well–for the town halls, for the press conferences,” she said. “It’s blatant. They don’t give a damn if you know it or not. They ought to be hanging their heads in shame.”

During today’s briefing, Thomas interrupted a back-and-forth between Gibbs and Chip Reid, the White House correspondent for CBS News, when Reid was questioning Gibbs about who was going to decide what questions would be asked of President Obama in a townhall meeting that was scheduled to take place in Annandale, Va., today.

Gibbs then had an exchange involving Reid and Thomas that went as follows:

Gibbs: “… But, again, let’s–How about we do this? I promise we will interrupt the AP’s tradition of asking the first question. I will let you [Chip Reid] ask me a question tomorrow as to whether you thought the questions at the town hall meeting that the President conducted in Annandale—“

Chip Reid: “I’m perfectly happy to—”

Helen Thomas: “That’s not his point. The point is the control–”

Reid: “Exactly.”

Thomas: “We have never had that in the White House. And we have had some, but not– This White House.”

Gibbs: “Yes, I was going to say, I’ll let you amend her question.”

Thomas: “I’m amazed. I’m amazed at you people who call for openness and transparency and—”

Gibbs: “Helen, you haven’t even heard the questions.”

Reid: “It doesn’t matter. It’s the process.”

Thomas: “You have left open—”

Reid: “Even if there’s a tough question, it’s a question coming from somebody who was invited or was screened, or the question was screened.”

Thomas: “It’s shocking. It’s really shocking.”

Gibbs: “Chip, let’s have this discussion at the conclusion of the town hall meeting. How about that?”

Reid: “Okay.”

Gibbs: “I think—“

Thomas: “No, no, no, we’re having it now–”

Gibbs: “Well, I’d be happy to have it now.”

Thomas: “It’s a pattern.”

Gibbs: “Which question did you object to at the town hall meeting, Helen?”

Thomas: “It’s a pattern. It isn’t the question—”

Gibbs: “What’s a pattern?”

Thomas: “It’s a pattern of controlling the press.”

Gibbs: “How so? Is there any evidence currently going on that I’m controlling the press–poorly, I might add.”

Thomas: “Your formal engagements are pre-packaged.”

Gibbs: “How so?”

Reid: “Well, and controlling the public—”

Thomas: “How so? By calling reporters the night before to tell them they’re going to be called on. That is shocking.”

Gibbs: “We had this discussion ad nauseam and—”

Thomas: “Of course you would, because you don’t have any answers.”

Gibbs: “Well, because I didn’t know you were going to ask a question, Helen.
Go ahead.”

Thomas: “Well, you should have.”

Reporter: Thank you for your support.

Gibbs: “That’s good. Have you e-mailed your question today?”

Thomas: “I don’t have to e-mail it. I can tell you right now what I want to ask.”

Gibbs: “I don’t doubt that at all, Helen. I don’t doubt that at all.”

Written by peoplesgeography

July 4, 2009 at 3:48 pm

Posted in Media, USA, Video

Tagged with , ,

Kouchner and the New Humanitarian Order


Communiste et Rastignac. Christopher Caldwell reviews Pierre Péan’s Le Monde selon K., a book about Bernard Kouchner’s particular contributions to the rise of the New Humanitarian Order, a phase of imperialist interventions that has deployed human rights as its preferred justification. (Also see my earlier post on Kouchner’s Zionist activism)

Bush and Kouchner

Bush and Kouchner

In mid-May, as the Sri Lankan army completed its rout of the Tamil Tigers, President Mahinda Rajapaksa described the scorched-earth campaign as ‘an unprecedented humanitarian operation’. Others were more inclined to see it as a calamity. Among them was the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, who had travelled to Sri Lanka with David Miliband to argue, in vain, for a truce.

Rajapaksa’s remark was in one sense a tribute to how Kouchner has changed the world. It is Kouchner, more than anyone, who has eroded the distinction between philanthropy and combat. As a young gastroenterologist and self-described ‘mercenary of emergency medicine’, he helped launch Médecins sans frontières in the early 1970s. He broadcast the plight of the Vietnamese boat people in the late 1970s, advised Mitterrand in the 1980s, roused public indignation over events in Somalia, Bosnia and Rwanda in the 1990s, and served as interim governor of Kosovo after Nato’s attack on Serbia; more recently he has become the most prominent of several socialists in Sarkozy’s cabinet. Kouchner may not have invented the concept of ‘humanitarian intervention’, but he has been its symbol for decades.

Most French people would say this is a good thing. In a country that is cynical about politics and elites of all sorts, Kouchner has been consistently beloved, with approval ratings above 60 per cent. He is both a dashing man of adventure and a political idealist – the closest thing present-day France has to a Malraux. His reputation even survived his support for the invasion of Iraq.

In February, however, the country’s most celebrated investigative journalist published an exposé accusing Kouchner of various intellectual, political and financial misdeeds. Pierre Péan is best known for having revealed that the dictator Jean-Bédel Bokassa, of the Central African Republic, had given diamonds worth millions of francs to Giscard d’Estaing, and for uncovering the extent of Mitterrand’s work for the Vichy government as a young man. In Le Monde selon K., Péan considers a number of uncomfortable moments in Kouchner’s career as a consultant. More important, if less controversially, he argues that Kouchner’s transnational humanitarianism has made France’s foreign policy interests subservient to those of the United States – indeed, that humanitarianism as he practises it is just a larval form of neoconservatism.

The book hit Paris like a bomb. Kouchner accused Péan of anti-semitism and rallied celebrity friends to defend him, from Bernard-Henri Lévy at home to Hillary Clinton and Kofi Annan abroad. Newspapers of the left – notably Libération – opened their columns to Péan, while Le Monde attacked his book. The news weekly Le Point conducted an independent investigation of Péan’s allegations and generally corroborated them. Le Monde selon K. is a brave and important book: though intemperate, frequently unfair and sometimes slapdash, it levels charges against Kouchner’s militarised humanitarianism that demand an answer – and neither Kouchner nor any of his defenders has yet provided one.

Kouchner was a Communist as a young man, but of an unusual sort. He made no bones about viewing political engagement as an avenue for personal ambition. ‘Je suis communiste et Rastignac,’ he wrote in the independent Communist review Clarté, referring to Balzac’s fame-seeking hero. He was a bit old, at 28, for the tumult of May 1968, which, in any case, he considered a localised, hedonistic revolution that ‘wasn’t really looking at the rest of the world’. That autumn, he volunteered to take part in a Red Cross mission to treat the starving and wounded in the breakaway Nigerian state of Biafra. Medical workers must obey strict neutrality in war zones, but Kouchner wanted to take sides. He was rooting for the Biafran Igbos, and argued that more of them could be saved if the world rallied to their cause. ‘We had to make a noise,’ he would later write, ‘to proclaim that the Nigerians were killing children and attacking civilians.’

Kouchner was not the only young doctor thinking this way. By 1971 some Biafra veterans, affiliated with the Beaujon hospital in Paris and the medical review Tonus, were discussing how to organise international volunteering. Kouchner joined the group early on, and became its most visible and charismatic face. This group evolved into Médecins sans frontières, which Paul Berman describes in Power and the Idealists (2005) as ‘a more political Red Cross – a Red Cross willing to identify the political realities that create humanitarian crises’. In general, Kouchner thought, the left should not sit around while people got slaughtered. But he had a more particular reason for thinking this: his grandparents were murdered at Auschwitz when he was four. He later wrote that an attack by Nigerian troops on a Red Cross hospital where he was working convinced him ‘not to submit to instructions from the bureaucrats of the Red Cross, an organisation that had kept silent about the Nazi concentration camps’. One must either face squarely the political logic of a situation or risk complicity in genocide.

Péan has a more nuanced (or perhaps conspiratorial) view of the Biafran war. Biafra was awash with oil, and De Gaulle, Franco and Salazar had encouraged it to declare independence. It was Jacques Foccart, the mastermind of French crypto-colonialism in Africa, who had got the Red Cross involved there in the first place. The military supply flights that Kouchner and his co-workers took from Gabon to Biafra often carried arms: their mission was less neutral than it appeared. The conflict might have felt genocidal to its victims, but it would more accurately be seen as a particularly brutal civil war.

As Péan views it, the ‘Biafran model’ of humanitarian intervention that Kouchner invented, and would press into service again and again, was a public relations strategy. It was made up of three elements: oversimplification (through constant invocations of genocide), egotism (through the use of the mass media) and militarism. One of the annoying things about Péan’s book is that it never takes seriously the idea that the prevention of genocide could be a genuine moral preoccupation, that it could be anything more than a propaganda tactic. (He doesn’t mention Kouchner’s grandparents.) He is nonetheless correct in saying that Kouchner’s insistence on taking sides blinded him to the complexity of local conditions and has led to a ‘selective indignation that doesn’t rest on a rational analysis of situations’.

Kouchner began to see genocides everywhere – not just in Rwanda but also, more dubiously, in Kosovo and Darfur. He would cast one side in a civil war as the embodiment of evil and the other as blameless victims. When the war had an ethnic or tribal element, it was a short step to stigmatising whole peoples – the Serbs, for instance, or the Hutus – and thus abetting the ethnic demonisation he aimed to combat. ‘Influenced by his friend Bernard-Henri Lévy, Kouchner’s worldview is schematised in the extreme,’ Péan writes. ‘It is an easy world to figure out. All you need to do is separate heroes and villains, good and evil, civilisation and barbarism, and, finally, victims and perpetrators. It is a sort of subtitled version of the American neoconservative ideology, every platitude of which he espouses.’

In A Bed for the Night, his 2002 study of humanitarian relief work, David Rieff, noting Kouchner’s somewhat embarrassing gift for ‘providing television viewers with the simple fables the medium seemed to require’, tried to explain it:

It is easy to lampoon Kouchner. But it is by no means clear that he was wrong . . . If aid workers don’t want their organisations to become completely dependent on a few major donors, as some US NGOs already are, they must make their case through the media. Though some disguise this need better than others, and few are as outspoken about its necessity as Kouchner, aid workers are in the business of selling their organisations and the needs for aid they perceive to journalists.

Kouchner did not last long at Médecins sans frontières. When MSF hesitated over how to respond to the crisis of the boat people in 1979, he quarrelled with his old comrades, including the MSF president, Claude Malhuret, and Rony Brauman, who has been a thorn in Kouchner’s side ever since. Kouchner outfitted a cargo ship as a floating clinic and took it to the South China Sea, to vast media effect. (The medical benefits have been questioned.) He founded a more vocal group called Médecins du monde, in the hope of carrying out more such operations.

Kouchner has spent the last three decades trying to translate his humanitarian reputation into political, military and diplomatic influence of a more traditional kind. In 1988, Mitterrand created a post for him as secretary of state for humanitarian affairs. Kouchner’s great achievement at the time was to theorise (with the help of the international lawyer Mario Bettati) the droit d’ingérence – the right to disregard national sovereignty and intervene in countries experiencing humanitarian crises – and to get it codified, in UN Resolution 43/131. There was something sneaky about the way the measure was implemented: it calls for intervention in case of ‘natural disasters and similar emergency situations’. Political turmoil turned out to be similar enough to storms or earthquakes, and in 1990 and 1991 the UN Security Council invoked 43/131 to open a ‘humanitarian corridor’ for Kurds fleeing Iraq.

This changed everything. It rendered national sovereignty conditional, and led to the increasing militarisation of humanitarianism, starting in Somalia. On the eve of the invasion of Somalia in December 1992, Kouchner wrote in Le Monde: ‘We believe in an armed and saving intervention by the international community.’ Péan notes the outrage that greeted these pronouncements: the defence minister Pierre Joxe objected that Kouchner gave ‘the impression of disposing of the lives of French soldiers without even consulting the minister of defence’, and Rony Brauman later wrote, dismayed, that ‘for the first time, in Somalia, we killed under the banner of humanity.’ Yet these views, which would have seemed the merest common sense five years earlier, were in the minority. Public opinion, or at least public sentiment, was squarely behind Kouchner. Péan sees the droit d’ingérence as the start of a path that leads from Iraq to Somalia to Kosovo and then back to Iraq. He is right.

Kouchner’s role in Rwanda was somewhat different. There, an actual genocide failed to result in an intervention. Péan has an idiosyncratic view of Rwanda, which he laid out at length in Noires fureurs, blancs menteurs (2005). Without denying the genocidal violence on the Hutu side, he believes that the Tutsis, elevated to the status of passive victims by Kouchner and other sympathisers, started the war. He insists that it was the Tutsi leader, Paul Kagame – now Rwanda’s president but then the commander of the Tutsi Front Patriotique Rwandais and Kouchner’s primary interlocutor – who ordered the flight of President Juvénal Habyarimana to be shot down, unleashing the bloodbath. (An investigation into Kagame’s involvement in the 1994 crash, launched by the crusading former juge d’instruction Jean-Louis Bruguière, has been quietly put aside since Sarkozy came to power, to Péan’s fury.)

In short, Péan accuses Kouchner of having been manipulated by the FPR. His main exhibit here is Jean-Christophe Klotz’s 2006 documentary about Kouchner’s time in Rwanda, Kigali, des images contre un massacre, which describes Kouchner’s horror over killings perpetrated in Kibagabaga (near Kigali) the day after the downing of Habyarimana’s plane. Using the testimony of UN officers and some very helpful maps, Péan makes the case that the murders, which Kouchner used as propaganda for the FPR, may have been committed by the FPR itself. Kouchner’s explanation for the large number of Hutu dead is that those killed were democrats, distrusted by the Hutu mob for their tolerance. Péan thinks this shows his demonisation of the Hutus. Judging who is right is beyond my expertise, but at the very least, Péan’s is a patient and potent reconstruction.

What has attracted the French to Kouchner is the idea that humanitarianism can offer a politics that is not Machiavellian. This turns out not to be quite true. Kouchner abandoned the Socialist Party to join the Sarkozy cabinet in 2007, after having advised Sarkozy’s Socialist opponent, Ségolène Royal. Whether he exercises real power at the Quai d’Orsay, or is just a trophy of post-partisanship, is an open question. It was Sarkozy, not Kouchner, who helped formulate the common European position on the Russian invasion of Georgia last summer. Kouchner’s latest obsession – the Iranian nuclear programme – has led him into loud but often self-contradictory stances. He warned the US not to talk to Iran during the American presidential elections last year, but then chided it for using Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rantings at the UN anti-racism conference in April as an excuse not to.

Given the change that Kouchner – or his ideology – has wrought in the whole system of nation-states, it’s surprising that almost all of the discussion of Péan’s book in France has revolved around a few allegations of mundane corruption. Péan levels a lot of charges. In 2002 and 2003, Kouchner made a visit to Burma paid for by the French oil giant Total. Because other oil companies were boycotting the Burmese junta at the time, Total was the largest foreign investor there and worked with the Burmese army, which had a record of using forced labour. Kouchner’s report, for which he was paid €25,000, called on Total to ‘speak out clearly on the need for democracy’, but otherwise found its behaviour satisfactory. The report was brandished by the company as an exoneration. As such, it was well known to readers of the French press.

Less familiar until Péan’s book came out was his involvement in a fantastically lucrative project for the government of Gabon. In 2003, a few long-time Kouchner associates, including Eric Danon (now a French diplomat at the UN), set up two companies – Imeda and Africa Steps – which signed contracts, worth millions of euros, to research ways of setting up a national health service for Gabon. Kouchner was a consultant for both companies, earning €216,000 net over three years. Though he did not hold a government post at the time, the prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, had made him head of Esther, a quasi-governmental group that managed the sending of aid from French hospitals to African ones. Péan believes that Omar Bongo, the late Gabonese dictator, was under the impression he had bought the services of the French government.

It is a complicated matter. How offensive you find it depends on how you see Esther and its constitutional standing as a ‘groupement d’intérêt public’. It also depends on the difficult to determine matter of Gabon’s intentions. If Gabon did not really intend to launch a national health service – and it hasn’t taken many steps in that direction since – then commissioning the report could be seen as a deniable way of giving work to friends in high places. The writing of ‘reports’ is a time-honoured French way of moving money to political allies. A decade ago the wife of the mayor of Paris, Chirac’s ally Jean Tibéri, was summoned before a court to explain how she had come to be paid 200,000 francs for a sloppily written, 36-page report on the global progress of the French language.

How you feel about Péan’s Gabonese allegations also depends on how you view the French tradition of pantouflage – the system whereby members of the establishment move between government posts and business sinecures. The week the book came out, Kouchner appealed to the everybody-does-it defence. ‘If you want to look into all the ministers who do consulting work,’ he told France 2, ‘you’ll have a lot on your plate.’ True enough. That week he was in Washington visiting Hillary Clinton, who has herself been accused of profiting from her political connections. ‘It’s the fourth book against me,’ he said. ‘She told me she’d had 25 of them.’

Péan is a rough, tough writer. His methods are ad hominem. He criticises Kouchner for one thing and then for its opposite: for surrendering France’s sovereignty to international bodies on the one hand, and acting without the sanction of the UN on the other. By exposing Kouchner’s failure to live up to his ideals, though, he distracts the reader’s attention from his deeper objection, which is to the ideals themselves. Péan is an old-style French republican, a Gaullist for whom it is hard to love humanity without being a bit untrue to France. He sees, quite rightly, that the logical conclusion of Kouchner’s politics is the abandonment – or, at the very least, the weakening – of the nation-state in favour of transnational structures: the EU, the UN and the International Criminal Court, not to mention the less formal court of international public opinion. He accuses both Kouchner and Bernard-Henri Lévy (whom Kouchner has called ‘my conscience’) of

a hatred of Gaullism and the political philosophy that it sustains: the values of the French Revolution, running from the Convention to the Résistance, the values of national independence, which they mock in the name of an Anglo-Saxon cosmopolitanism, human-rights-based and neoliberal, the foundation of the neoconservative ideology that our nouveaux philosophes have wound up signing on to.

The day after the book was published, Kouchner had that passage at the ready when he counter-attacked on the floor of the National Assembly. Péan, he said, had accused him ‘of personifying the counter-idea of France – the anti-France, cosmopolitanism. To accuse someone of cosmopolitanism in difficult times . . . does that remind you of anything? It does me. And, I’ll tell you, that is a bigger matter than just me personally.’ Péan stormed out of a television interview when he was asked to defend himself against the charge of anti-semitism. Lévy called him a ‘dwarf’.

Should the burden of proof rest so heavily on Péan? Is ‘Anglo-Saxon cosmopolitanism’ the same thing as the cosmopolitanism invoked by the enemies of Alfred Dreyfus? Péan asked in Libération what ‘sans frontières’ could possibly mean if not ‘cosmopolitan’. He also cited a 1985 article that Lévy had co-signed with two other intellectuals, in which the three declared: ‘Of course, we are resolutely cosmopolitan. Everything that smacks of “the soil”, berets, bourrées, binious – in short, everything franchouillard or jingoistic – is foreign to us, even disgusting.’ In a country as obsessed as France with formal equality in every single area of life (except, perhaps, the financial), Péan cannot be expected to accept that Lévy and Kouchner should have rights to the language that he is denied.

Péan’s use of the word braderie (which denotes a cut-price street market) was also remarked on, particularly in Le Monde. The word, which crops up again and again in his references to Kouchner, was a staple in the attacks against Pierre Mendès-France, the Jewish prime minister who came to power in the wake of France’s defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, almost immediately negotiated a peace treaty with Ho Chi Minh, and set in motion (or tried to) the French withdrawal from Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. Applied to Mendès-France, braderie meant something like ‘sell-out’. Péan objects whenever Jewish groups appear to be given the last word on what constitutes a genocide and what does not. He quotes an interview with an American PR expert who encouraged Western governments to intervene in favour of Bosnia in the 1990s, and who claims his most important coup was getting Jewish-American organisations to denounce Serbia’s actions as genocidal. Péan sees the opening of an office in Tel Aviv as crucial to the acceptance of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) as a mainstream group. He cites the role of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Union of Jewish Students of France in creating the French organisation Urgence Darfour.

The role of arbiter may have been conferred on Jews without their seeking it, but it gives rise to a paradox. If genocide (or, more precisely, its prevention) is to be a guiding and binding principle of a new global constitution, written or unwritten, in the name of which young men can be sent to kill and die, then there can be no ethnically based claims of expertise on the matter. As a matter of history, morality and individual conscience, the Holocaust deserves a privileged place in memory. As a political matter, things are different. If this new Kouchnerian system is to be democratic, then Ahmadinejad will be able to claim the same right to a voice as Kouchner. And this prospect – that definitions of genocide may be debated and enforced in the tumultuous and populist give-and-take of global democracy, or cyberdemocracy – is more worrying than Pierre Péan’s vocabulary. International humanitarianism thus opens a terrible can of worms – what Alain Finkielkraut has called the ‘incitement to anti-racist hatred’.

Without ever explicitly accusing Péan of anti-semitism, Kouchner and Lévy use innuendo about it to help them skate over the charges he levels. But there is no reason to believe that when Péan says ‘Anglo-Saxon cosmopolitanism’, he means something else. Throughout the book, nothing is cast in a more nefarious light than the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ aspect of Kouchner’s ideology. Péan quotes an old friend of Kouchner’s saying: ‘He often says he wishes he were born American.’ He places Kouchner’s Rwanda diplomacy in the context of post-Cold War ‘operations of Anglo-Saxon reconquest’. He faults Kouchner and John Garang, the leader of the rebel Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement, for undermining a joint Franco-Sudanese strategy to counter ‘Anglo-Saxon expansionism in the region’ in the early 1990s. He sees a ‘total convergence of Kouchner’s actions in the Balkans with those of the Americans’.

The ‘Anglo-Saxon’ problem has less to do with capitalism than with foreign policy, although Péan does make a connection between the two. He approvingly quotes Humanité’s description of the American world order as ‘the right of the rich and powerful to set themselves up as international policemen’. But he believes the main US (or Anglo-Saxon) goal is ‘to fragment those territories and nation-states still standing, to chop up their spheres of influence and retribalise their populations’, in order to remove rivals to its hegemony. The American empire, for him, is like the Empire in Star Wars: any member of a local population who thinks its influence a good thing for his country is a fool, a coward or a traitor.

But there is a very different way of looking at the role Kouchner has played in the spread of US hegemony. Very few of the people described in their own countries as ‘lackeys’ and ‘poodles’ of the US new world order appear that way to Americans. (This includes Tony Blair.) Like it or not, Kouchner’s co-operation with the US has not meant knuckling under to US military might, but rather borrowing it for European purposes, which are often idealistic ones. Consider the interviews Kouchner gave this spring about France’s reintegration into Nato. Full membership, he told Le Figaro, allows France to get in on the planning stage of the kinds of operation – Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan – that it would join anyway. Furthermore, it would let Europeans ‘more easily conduct foreign operations without the agreement or the participation of the Americans’.

Kouchner supported the US intervention in Somalia in 1992 partly on the grounds that it would open the way to a principled intervention in Bosnia. Péan is wrong to see this view as a sell-out, but he is right to see a problem. If intervening in Somalia made it permissible, on principle, to intervene in the Balkans, then intervening in the Balkans made it permissible, on principle, to intervene in Iraq. There were good grounds for opposing the invasion of Iraq, but for those who accept the droit d’ingérence and other tenets of Kouchnerism, there were no principled ones. The Bush administration had every reason to believe that the ‘international community’, above all in Europe, would be deferential to US diplomacy, the goose that kept laying the golden humanitarian eggs. Once the humanitarian case for going to war against Saddam Hussein was established – gassing his own people, death squads, assassination of political opponents – everything else, if you accepted Kouchner’s premises, was beside the point. The absence of weapons of mass destruction was unfortunate, but it was a side issue, as Kouchner forthrightly admitted: ‘The Americans,’ he said, ‘have led a legitimate war on the basis of bad and false reasons.’

As Paul Berman put it a few years ago: ‘If Kouchner was doing a good thing by sailing the seas of East Asia in a rented ship with six doctors . . . why stop there?’ Putting human rights first leads to a much more intimate military engagement with the world’s danger zones than most citizens of democracies would think prudent. It also leads to a depoliticisation of military operations in the first place. Although it is not always easy to tell what the French mean when they use the word ‘neoconservatism’, Péan is quite right to say that neoconservatism is merely Kouchnerism taken to its logical conclusions.

All sorts of newfangled doctrines held power unopposed in the two decades after the Berlin Wall fell. Humanitarian interventionism is one of them. Unbridled capitalism is another. These things, and their collapse, are epiphenomena of the ruling doctrine of human rights, which the individualist West imposed at a time when it was dizzy with success. Nobody will mistake Péan’s prose for Lytton Strachey’s, but Le Monde selon K. gives the reader the same feeling as a chapter of Eminent Victorians: it is deaf to its subject’s virtues, too keen to cry humbug, but full of valuable lessons about how hard it is to distinguish authority from moral authority.

Christopher Caldwell writes a column for the Financial Times. Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West has just been published by Penguin.

I Come and Stand by Every Door


Nâzım Hikmet Ran was a Turkish poet, playwright and novelist who was jailed several times by the Turkish government for his Communist beliefs. He produced some of the most beautiful political poetry that has ever been written. I’ve included a scene from Fazil Say’s fabulous Oratorio entitled Nazim. The poem that the girl sings was written by Hikmet in 1956.

I Come and Stand by Every Door
(The Little Girl)

I come and stand at every door
but none can hear my silent tread.
I knock and yet remain unseen
for I am dead, for I am dead.

I’m only seven tho’ I died
in Hiroshima long ago.
I’m seven now as I was then
when children die they do not grow.

My hair was scorched by swirling flame,
my eyes grew dim, my eyes grew blind.
Death came and turned my bones to dust,
and that was scattered by the wind.

I need no fruit, I need no rice,
I need no sweets or even bread.
I ask for nothing for myself,
for I am dead, for I am dead.

All that I ask is that for peace
you fight today, you fight today,
so that the children of the world
may live and grow and laugh and play.

Written by Jasmin Ramsey

July 4, 2009 at 3:41 am

Posted in Art, Music, Poetry, Turkey

Tagged with ,

Tough stance toward Iran could backfire

US blocking new sanctions on Iran?

Haaretz, here

"... diplomatic sources in New York reported that American officials are working behind the scenes to prevent new sanctions from being imposed against Iran.

U.S. officials claimed that a tough stance toward Iran could backfire, bringing about an opposite outcome to that desired by those who support such measures.

The Obama administration, according to the diplomatic sources, has discarded the notion of direct talks with Iran. However, the United States is still interested in re-engaging Iran through the renewed discussion of its nuclear program through the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany....

In addition to U.S. reluctance to enact fresh sanctions, G8 members Russia and China have been known to oppose any punitive steps against Tehran. .."

Posted by G, Z, & or B at 8:27 AM

New footage disputes account of Basij base incident


July 3, 2009

Thu, 02 Jul 2009, Press TV

Press TV has broadcast newly-obtained footage of a controversial clash between Basij members and protesters, which shows the Basij base under siege.

Tehran became the scene of violence in recent weeks amidst rallies staged in protest at the outcome of the June 12 presidential election — which saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected to a second term in office.

People described by Iranian officials as “saboteurs” infiltrated the riots and set fire to a mosque, two gas stations and a military post in western Tehran. At least 20 people were killed and many others were injured in the ensuing violence.

The protests came to worldwide attention when major media outlets broadcast footage of what they described as unprovoked attacks by security forces.

In Britain, Channel Four covered the news by airing a video of a clash between rioters and Basij members in which a man was seen shooting at the crowd.

According to comments broadcast in a video provided by the government in Tehran, journalist Maziar Bahari had provided Channel Four with the footage of the June 15 attack. What was aired by the channel, however, had the scene of the attack on the base censored.

The new footage obtained by Press TV shows a group of people attacking the Basij base with Molotov cocktails.

The building in question has been deemed as a vital structure and has been confirmed by Tehran officials as an armory.

New IAEA Head: No Evidence Iran Seeking Nuclear Weapons


by Jason Ditz, July 03, 2009

New International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano may have been the candidate of choice for Western nations, and in particular Israel, but he sought to assure the world today that he would remain independent and would seek to de-politicize the office.

In particular,

Amano noted that going through the IAEA’s documents he didn’t see any evidence that Iran was trying to develop nuclear weapons. The IAEA had repeatedly certified that Iran was not diverting any of its civilian program’s enriched uranium to any other purpose, but outgoing chief Mohamed ElBaradei claimed to have a “gut feeling” that Iran secretly wanted the technology.

Amano seems less inclined, at least so far, to rely on his gut and is looking for hard evidence to back up the allegations by Western nations in general and Israel in particular, that the Iranians have a covert program.

He did however claim that the Iranian government had an ‘obligation’ to abandon its civilian program, despite the lack of evidence of anything untoward in the program, citing demands from the UN Security Council. Those demands are separate from any Iranian obligations under the IAEA’s protocols however, under which Iran would seem to have every right to civilian energy generation.

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Law expert: Hamas did not violate int’l law and settlers are not civilians

[ 04/07/2009 - 10:55 AM ]

BEIRUT, (PIC)-- Dr. Hasan Johnny, a professor of international law at the Lebanese University, criticized Friday the report issued by Amnesty International (AI), saying that the Israeli settlers, living on usurped Palestinian lands, are not civilians and Hamas did not violate international law in Gaza war.

These remarks came during a seminar held in Beirut by AI and attended by specialists, jurists and representatives of Palestinian and Lebanese civil organizations who discussed the report issued by the organization about Israeli war crimes that also included accusations against Hamas.

Dr. Johnny said, during his speech, that what Hamas did was an internationally-recognized military necessity and not war crimes committed against civilians, adding that the Palestinian resistance attacked primarily Israeli military targets.

Most of the participants in the seminar castigated the report and called on AI not to equalize between the executioner and the victim. They also urged it to take into account the Israeli crimes committed on the ground regardless of the generality of international legal texts.

For its part, AI tried to defend its position, specifically its reported accusations against Hamas, where its regional director Ahmed Kar’ood said that the international humanitarian law rejects the targeting of civilians, but he hailed Hamas for its cooperation with the UN fact-finding committee.

In the same context, the popular resistance committees strongly denounced AI for equalizing between the executioner and the victim and holding Hamas responsible for the last Israeli war.

The movement said that such reports confirmed that some international institutions are associated with a Zionist agenda, promote Israel’s policies and justify its crimes, adding that the report gave Israel more excuses for the targeting of civilians.

The movement called on the international institutions and the free people of the world to stand in the face of the global Zionism and the Zionist crimes committed against the Palestinian people, so as not to be false witnesses to these crimes.

U.S. Uses False Taliban Aid Charge to Pressure Iran

The Iran Canard


The Barack Obama administration has given new prominence to a Bush administration charge that Iran is providing military training and assistance to the Taliban in Afghanistan, for which no evidence has ever been produced, and which has been discredited by data obtained by IPS from the Pentagon itself.

The new twist in the charge is that it is being made in the context of serious talks between NATO officials and Iran involving possible Iranian cooperation in NATO's logistical support for the war against the insurgents in Afghanistan.

Since the early to mid-1990s, Iranian policy in Afghanistan has been more consistently and firmly opposed to the Taliban than that of the United States.

The Obama administration thus appears to be pressing that charge as a means of increasing the political-diplomatic pressure on Iran over its nuclear programme, despite NATO's need for Iranian help on Afghanistan.

CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus declared in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee Apr. 1, "In Afghanistan, Iran appears to have hedged its longstanding public support for the Karzai government by providing opportunistic support to the Taliban."

Defence Secretary Robert Gates told reporters in Brussels Jun. 12, "Iran is playing a double game" in Afghanistan by "sending in a relatively modest level of weapons and capabilities to attack ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) and coalition forces."

The State Department's annual report on terrorism, published Apr. 30, 2009, claimed that the Iranian Qods Force had "provided training to the Taliban on small unit tactics, small arms, explosives and indirect fire weapons." It also charged that Iran had "arranged arms shipments including small arms and associated ammunition, rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, 107mm rockets, and plastic explosives to select Taliban members."

The report offered no evidence in support of those charges, however, and Rhonda Shore, public affairs officer in the State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, refused to answer questions from IPS about those charges in the report.

A military official who refused to be identified told IPS the charge of Iranian assistance to the Taliban is based on "an intelligence assessment", which was limited to "suspected" Iranian shipment of arms to the Taliban and did not extend to training. That admission indicates that the charge of shipments of weapons to the Taliban by Iran is not based on hard evidence.

The only explicit U.S. claim of specific evidence relating to an Iranian arms shipment to insurgents in Afghanistan has been refuted by data collected by the Pentagon's own office on improvised explosives.

In an April 2008 Pentagon news briefing, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said in reference to Iranian authorities, "[W]e're seeing some evidence that they're supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan".

When pressed by reporters for the evidence, however, Mullen admitted that there was no "constant stream of arms supply at this point" and that the basis for the charge was primarily "evidence some time ago" that Iranians were providing amour-piercing EFPs (explosively formed projectiles) to the Taliban.

That was a reference to a July 2007 allegation by the U.S. command in Afghanistan, under obvious pressure from the White House, that Iranian-made EFPs had appeared in Afghanistan.

Col. Tom Kelly, a U.S. deputy chief of staff of the ISAF, told reporters Jul. 18, 2007 that five EFPs that had been found in Herat near the Iranian border and in Kabul were "very sophisticated", and that "they're really not manufactured in any other places other than, our knowledge is, Iran".

That was the same argument that had been used by the U.S. command in Iraq to charge Iran with exporting EFPs to Shi'a insurgents there.

But in response to a query from this writer last July, the Pentagon's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organisation (JIEDDO), which is responsible for tracking the use of roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan, provided the first hard data on EFPs found in Afghanistan. The data showed that there was no connection on which to base even an inferential connection between those EFPs and Iran.

Every one of the 13 EFPs reported to have been found in Afghanistan up to that time were "crude and unsophisticated", according to Irene Smith, a spokesperson for Gen. Anthony Tata, JIEDDO's deputy director for operations and training. In fact, the insurgents in Afghanistan had not shown the ability to make the kind of EFPs that had been found in Iraq, Smith said.

The U.S. command in Afghanistan, moreover, does not appear to be an enthusiastic supporter of the administration's political line on the issue. NATO officials began a serious dialog with Iran last March which focused on the possibility of moving supplies for NATO troops to Afghanistan from Iranian ports.

At an off the record seminar in Washington last month, a senior U.S. military officer in Afghanistan said the Iranian policy toward Afghanistan is neither a "major problem" nor a "growing problem" for the war against the Taliban, according to one of the attendees.

The lack of enthusiasm of the U.S. command in Afghanistan for charges of Iranian support for the Taliban suggests that the impetus for such charges is coming from those in the administration who are trying to ramp up the overall pressure on Iran to make concessions on its nuclear programme.

Gilles Dorronsoro, a specialist on Afghanistan and visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, says he sees sharp differences between the position of those responsible for Afghanistan and those whose primary concern is Iran's nuclear programme.

"You have one discourse of officials in Afghanistan, who would support collaboration with Iran," Dorronsoro said in an interview with IPS. "It's very clear that those people don't want a crisis with Iran and don't want to push Iran too far."

But those who want to put pressure on Iran to stop its enrichment programme, he said, "are acting as though they are building some kind of legal case against Iran."

The Bush administration initially claimed it had evidence of Iranian aid to the Taliban in 2007 that didn't exist, only to have it refuted by the U.S. command in Afghanistan.

In April and May 2007, NATO forces in Helmand province found mortars, C-4 explosives and electrical components believed to have been manufactured in Iran. Then Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns asserted that the United States had "irrefutable evidence" that those weapons were provided to the Taliban by the Qods Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

When State Department spokesman Sean McCormack was questioned about the Burns statement on Jun. 13, 2007, McCormack admitted that the charge was an inference.

Gen. Dan McNeill, then the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, rejected the idea that any official Iranian role could be reasonably inferred from Iranian weapons showing up in Afghanistan.

"[W]hen you say weapons being provided by Iran, that would suggest there is some more formal entity involved in getting these weapons here," he told Jim Loney of Reuters. McNeill said he had "no information to support that there's anything formal in some arrangement out of Iran to provide weapons here."

The obvious alternative explanation for Iranian weapons in arms shipments is that drug lords and the Taliban have used commercial arms smugglers to get the weapons from Iran into the country. Arms dealers have close ties with Afghan officials, and have been reported to use police convoys to carry smuggled arms, according to a BBC2 television report last September.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist with Inter-Press Service 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", was published in 2006.

Farwana: IOF kidnapped 3,060 Palestinians in first half of 2009

Farwana: IOF kidnapped 3,060 Palestinians in first half of 2009

[ 04/07/2009 - 08:43 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Abdul Nasser Farwana, a former prisoner and prisoners' activist, affirmed that Israeli occupation forces kidnapped 3,060 Palestinians including children, women and fishermen in the first half of 2009 at a rate of 17 detainees per day.

He pointed out that 16 females, tens of children, and a number of MPs and Hamas politicians were among the kidnapped, stating that 1,000 citizens were taken into custody during the war on Gaza.

Meanwhile last June witnessed the release of Dr. Aziz Duweik, the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), and Jamal Huwail, a PLC member.

These kidnapping operations are not necessarily related to security measures as claimed by IOF and have no justification under the law, Farwana said, adding that they are carried out as a matter of routine; sometimes out of political or vengeful reasons.

The kidnapped people are used by IOF as bargaining and pressurizing tools against their organizations, he underlined.

The majority of the kidnapped are from the West Bank except those who were kidnapped during the war on Gaza, the activist said, pointing out that the fishermen were taken into custody and interrogated while their boats and equipment were impounded.

He charged that each kidnapped person was exposed to a form of physical or physiological torture or insult before family members and citizens.

Mustafa Barghouthi Meets with the UN Commission Investigating Israel’s War Crimes in Gaza: Says that Israel will not Stop Until Sanctions are Imposed


Saturday, 04 July 2009 12:06 RamallahOnline

Palestine Monitor

4 July 2009

Amman: Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, General Secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative, met with the UN Human Rights Council, lead by Judge Richard Gwleston—former Attorney General of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The UN Commission is currently investigating the war on Gaza, just as Israel barred the Commission from entering the occupied territories.

During their meeting, Barghouthi gave the council a comprehensive overview of the seven war crimes that Israel committed during its war on Gaza. These included the excessive use of force, attacks on and killing of civilians, the prevention of medical teams from reaching the wounded, the attack on medical teams and their centers, the destruction of the environment and infrastructure, and the use of internationally banned weapons.

Barghouthi presented evidence on Israel’s use of internationally banned weapons—including the use of white phosphorous shells. He also presented a table showing the chemicals in white phosphorous and their impact on civilians.

Cluster bombs were also used by the Israeli military in Gaza—which Barghouthi reminded the Commission was also a banned weapon.

In addition to discussing Gaza, Barghouthi talked about the West Bank and Jerusalem. He talked about the situation in these areas and the extent of racial discrimination the Palestinians experience there.

As evidence, he offered videos showing the extent of Israel’s human rights violations in the Palestinian territories. These included the construction of the Apartheid Wall, settlement activity, and attacks on peaceful demonstrators—which have already killed six people in Ni’lin and Bilín.

Barghouthi also submitted a copy of the detailed report prepared by an independent international medical commission on the Israeli violations of international law and war crimes committed during the war in Gaza.

He questioned the value of these committees on behalf of Palestinian citizens who have asked the question: What good do these committees do if they do not lead to a change on the ground? If they do not stop illegal and inhumane Israeli policies and crimes, what good are they to us?

The challenge for the UN Commission will be how to get the attention of the international community, and use that to impose the long-awaited sanctions on Israel.

Barghouthi expressed his regret that at this time there appears to be no way to deter Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing and the displacement of Palestinians in Jerusalem. These are being caused by house demolitions as part of Israel’s planned Judaization of the city.

This plan includes isolating and seizing Palestinian land for Jewish settlements. He called on the international community to take a firm stance with Israel on these racist policies and if necessary, to impost strict sanctions on the country.

Barghouthi reiterated that he cannot separate the investigation into Israel’s crimes in Gaza from what is happening now in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Israel’s crimes in these areas include illegal settlements, the Apartheid Wall, consistent stealing of Palestinian resources and land in the territory, military roadblocks and checkpoints.

He said there is no way to erase the more than 60 years of Israel’s crimes and occupation, but that the international community can make a difference now—by imposing sanctions on Israel.

They must deal with Israel the same as they did with the apartheid regime in South Africa. If they don’t, Israel will only increase its crimes and aggression against the children of the Palestinian people.

Barghouthi explained the difficult situation Palestine is facing now with prisoners of war and the suffering experienced by more than ten thousand political prisoners in Israeli prisons. He also reminded the commission that Israel’s use of administrative detention is in violation of international law.

Another pressing issue, Barghouthi said, is Israel’s arrest of three members of the Palestinian Legislative Council—a crime which has been met with the silence of the international community.

These arrests have paralyzed the legislature and deepened internal division in the West Bank. Barghouthi says that the silence of the international community is only strengthening Israel’s aggression against Democracy in Palestine and against human rights.

Barghouthi also said he would provide additional documents at the request of the Commission for their report on Gaza.

Hajj Sami Sadiq also presented on behalf of the village of Aqaba in the Jordan Valley. He gave the Commission a detailed description of the suffering of the people there due to the Israeli occupation and attempted ethnic cleansing which is being carried out now in the region.

Israel has been destroying houses in the Jordan Valley and preventing the construction of new houses. They have also set up military camps on Palestinian territory—which has lead to the injuries and deaths of Palestinians because they throw grenades and other used weapons onto nearby village land. He stressed that no matter what Israel is doing, the people of Aqaba will not leave their village and would not give up their rights.

Barghouthi commended the steadfastness of the population of the Jordan Valley for resisting Israeli practices of ethnic cleansing as well as the entire West Bank for their persistence in the face of countless Israeli crimes.