Saturday, 3 April 2010

IOA planning the demolition of 312 buildings in OJ


[ 03/04/2010 - 07:32 AM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Jerusalemite institution for the development of the society has said that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) controlled municipality of Jerusalem was planning to demolish 312 buildings in eastern Jerusalem.

The institution in a press release said that the demolitions would take place in Silwan and nearby suburbs such as Bustan, Ras Al-Amud and Thawri.

It said that the plan falls in line with the municipality's scheme to build the so-called City of David in Bustan suburb in the heart of eastern Jerusalem and in the vicinity of the Aqsa Mosque.

The institution said that it obtained a detailed map that was leaked from the municipality outlining the number of Palestinian buildings to be razed in the upcoming period.

It noted that Israeli violations against the Jerusalemites have noticeably increased since the start of 2010 topped by tens of demolition orders, confiscation of land and declaration of new settlement schemes.

It warned that the plan also falls in line with the IOA attempt to control the Aqsa Mosque especially following the inauguration of the ruin synagogue in Jerusalem around three weeks ago.

River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

Sayyed Nasrallah: Israel Doesn't Have A Future in Our Region

Al-Manar

31/03/2010 Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah is Al-Manar TV’s guest Wednesday night in the talk show ‘What’s Next” with Amr Nassef.

Amr Nassef – Introduction:
Assalam Alaykom and Allah’s blessings be upon you. It is not easy for a journalist to interview someone who dwells in the minds and hearts of millions of Arabs and Muslims; to interview someone who’s regarded as the enemy of all tyrannies. Our guest today is someone who promises and fulfills his promise; someone who if he threatens, his enemies hold their breaths; someone who every time he triumphs, becomes more modest. No victory has distracted him from his obligation. All that I can promise tonight in this interview is that we will do our best in talking to a ‘Sayyed’ who excels in putting the dots on the I’s to for the enemy and the friend, the swindler and the loyal to read much clearer. Allow me to welcome with great pride his eminence Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.

Sayyed Nasrallah: Welcome.

Nassef: First of all, how true are the reports that have recently circulated in the media and attributed to the Attorney General pertaining to summoning some Hezbollah members to appear before judicial authorities?

Sayyed Nasrallah: This is true. In the past few weeks the Attorney General office contacted several people who have close ties with Hezbollah and requested they appear before judicial authorities. Yes this is true.

Nassef: What is the number?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Their number reached 12 comprising Hezbollah members and non-members. The Attorney General is to summon six more people.

Nassef: Is this the first time?

Sayyed Nasrallah: I believe that the basic summoning took place at the end of 2008, following the May 7 incidents and right before the release of the four generals. At that time, some brothers and sisters were summoned and in 2009, others were summoned as well. This is not the first time that such thing happens; however, no uproar was made about it before.

Nassef: Before now?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Many were summoned in 2005. However, no one was summoned as a Hezbollah member, for being a Hezbollah member, or to ask about someone from Hezbollah.

Nassef: Did they summon leaders?

Sayyed Nasrallah: It did not happen before. In the past few weeks, we cannot say that publicly known leaders have been summoned but among the brothers were a ‘cultural official’ and another ‘jihadi’ brother working on the Palestinian portfolio and in contact with Palestinians inside the occupied territories.

Nassef: The reaction?

Sayyed Nasrallah: My request to the (Special Tribunal for Lebanon) is to maintain secrecy and as far as we are concerned. We’ll not reveal the names or the context of the investigations at the time being. We have agreed not to say anything other than what we believe is convenient. At the current stage, it’s better to keep everything secret.

Nassef: Could there be more summoning and by who?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We have no information yet. If we consider political salons or some journals, we can understand and expect this, but we don’t have any information.

Nassef: Is it accusatory?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We have to differentiate between what is being said in the media, what was directly addressed with the investigation panel, and what we have heard from them. A meeting was held between Hezbollah delegates and officials at eh Attorney General’s office, and they confirmed that those people were summoned as witnesses, not as suspects.

Nassef: How did this go to the media?

Sayyed Nasrallah: What’s being raised by the media is associated with political sides, embassies, intelligence corpses, propaganda, and rumors in Lebanon, the Arab world and the world. At one level, we have a political accusation and at another level there are circulations related to the investigation panel. There could be a strong link between the two, but what is being raised today are leaks, and political and media accusation. We are used to this.

The first time anyone talked about the circumstances, the circumstances-to-be, and pointing the finger at Hezbollah or some Hezbollah members, was the French daily Le Figaro in August, 2006. It published a detailed report which the Der Spiegel later made use of. Le Figaro reported details and talked about motives. It sought to involve some regional states into this, immediately after the 2006 war. What does that mean? The second to write about this issue was the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyyassa in March 2009, just when the case of the four general was resolved.

It was the same Al-Siyyassa that published in 2005 a scenario about the four generals. The new scenario of 2009 sought to point the finger at Hezbollah. Then came Der Spiegel’s report in May 2005. It stated similar details but added some new names amid preparations for general elections in Lebanon. The French Le Monde also wrote about this in February, 2010. All those articles sought to determine the networks (involved in the assassination of former PM Martyr Rafiq Hariri) and tried to give details and bring accusations.

Everything that was written was attributed to sources close the investigation or to sources close to politicians. It is clear that everything that has been said was political and media accusations, which were directed towards Syria and what they call the ‘joint Lebanese-Syrian security regime’ immediately following the assassination of Hariri. This went on for five years, until PM Saad Hariri’s visit to Syria.

Nassef: Can we understand that there is no sort of any accusation to Hezbollah at any level?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Until this moment, there are no accusations. No brother was summoned based on accusations. But this can happen in the future. My answer until this moment is based on facts.

Nassef: How do you understand the origin of what’s been circulated in the media in this regard?

Sayyed Nasrallah: What we are discussing now is the media and the political accusation, just as we discussed the media and the political accusations to Syria and the four generals in 2005. We’ve been target since many years, and there were political powers that have accused Syria. Right after the martyrdom of Hariri, Israeli leaders and the Israeli media accused Hezbollah of standing behind his assassination; they were the first to accuse Hezbollah.

This is normal, because those who accused Syria had their problems with Syria and the same goes with Hezbollah. This is exactly what happened in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, when the Israel lobby accused Lebanon’s Hezbollah of carrying out the attacks. But this was irrational, because there was a political scheme that was supposed to benefit from these attacks, namely to occupy Iraq. The Israelis went further to say – after the Americans accused Al-Qaeda - that the 9/11 attacks were the fruit of coordination between Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda.

We have read reports about meetings that took place between Hajj Imad Moghniyeh and Sheikh Ossama Bin Laden on the Iran-Pakistan border. Today, the changes and attempts of isolation were supposed to end Hezbollah, which did not happen. Then came the 2006 war to crush the resistance and establish a new demographic reality in Lebanon; at least south of the Litani River. The resistance came out victorious, so other attempts were made to drag the resistance into a domestic conflict on May 7, 2008. It is my right to believe that that this resistance is a target because of its influence on the local and regional arenas.

How can this resistance be confronted? With a new war with unguaranteed results? With internal sedition that no one know where it could lead us? With distortion? Distortion can be effective, but we have been subject to distortion since day one. They use everything that would distort our image and our bright jihadi example that we’ve set, and this is not new. I can say that the last weapon to use against the resistance is this file that is being opened after the 2006 war. I believe that what was written back then is somehow linked to the tribunal and the political powers.

Nassef: I would like to make use of your answers to ask about the foundations. You are talking about a programmed action?

Sayyed Nasrallah: What they are saying is not new, even if its level has increased in the past few months. There are leaks, and there are Lebanese political and security leaderships speaking about the tribunal’s disposition to accuse members of Hezbollah. Therefore, these are not speculations. They found their information on what their sources in the tribunal and the Attorney General’s office tell them. Moreover, in May, they used to say that the indictment would be issued within 3 weeks, and the period was extended and extended…Hezbollah does not have anything to fear and this is why we told our brothers to respond to the judicial request. But when the summoning took place at this particular time – having had previous information that April will see investigations leading to bringing accusations against Hezbollah – how can we explain this?

Nassef: Why do you rule out speculations?

Sayyed Nasrallah: There are three hypotheses: either those officials and those authors are guessing and then, by coincidence, their guess becomes the actual course of the tribunal. This would damage the investigation panel making it a tool in the hands of political leaderships. The second hypothesis is a leak from the investigation panel that reveals its next steps. I is weird that anyone can predict names, dates, and details. The third hypothesis is that they either know the future or they are prophets. I personally go for the second hypothesis. I have read Mr. (Daniel) Bellemare’s statement, and I call on him to investigate, because he has employees and senior employees who have ties with their security apparatuses which they came from, as well as ties with parties that they belong to; they have relations with many politicians and journalists to whom they leak such information. The Attorney General is responsible for what is written and what is published in this regard.

Nassef: Can you clearly see the foundations that the media are relying on?

Sayyed Nasrallah: I am talking about a leak. It seems that there is scenario that’s been set and everything that’s been said was said in the media. This language establishes our conviction that what is taking place is nothing but leaks. Since the first investigation panel was formed, we’ve been hearing everything about it in the media and from political leaderships. Lots of people heard they were suspect in the media and they were later summoned. The tribunal’s history is full of leaks. It is not a homogenous body; it is formed by different states. There is dispute and discord within the tribunal, otherwise how can we explain the successive resignation in a short period of time? The tribunal is a blend of people, except for the March 8 people. In my opinion, a tribunal of this kind would normally lead to leaking information.

Nassef: You say that political and media parties have returned to accusing Hezbollah. Is there anything beyond this, like eliminating the party?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Eliminating the party is a product of imagination. The most they can do is distort the image of Hezbollah that has great respect and support. All attempts to distort this image were to no avail. Even the sectarian rhetoric was useless. Now this is a way to distort the image; I mean harming a great symbol like martyr Imad Moghniyyeh. They are working on fulfilling their objective before any official accusation by the court. They want to take advantage of time and they will not be satisfied with what they expect or know about charges to be pressed one day so that they can start their campaign. It is required that they begin the campaign immediately, maybe to strike a deal with Hezbollah sometime later. But eliminating Hezbollah is a product of imagination.

Nassef: It seems that someone is trying to put a barrier or some sort of ghost in front of him.

Sayyed Nasrallah: This will be of no value. Ever since the political pressure begun in 2005, they thought that they could eliminate Hezbollah; I assure them, they cannot. We are a big party with people involved in politics or in any other dossier, and they are not involved in the dossier of the resistance. As we have this conversation right now, there are people in Hezbollah who have nothing to do in this discussion. They work day and night to keep the resistance fully ready.

Nassef: Since this accusation is political, what’s its value?

Sayyed Nasrallah: This is a good question. In 2005, the political accusation resulted in serious political and social repercussions. Pressure was made to get the Syrian forces out of Lebanon. I’m not saying that the demonstrations led to the pullout, but an international pressure was made. In Syria, there is a calm and wise leadership that did want to be part of the confrontation.

A major political shift happened in Lebanon; even the 2005 elections were held based on this political accusation. In some areas, they used to say that “whoever votes for the other list will be voting for Rafiq Hariri’s murderers.” The parliament was formed based on this accusation and the region was on the verge of abyss because of this accusation. See what this political accusation had done? Who said that there was no meaning for a political accusation? It should be very clear that we will not stay silent to any political or media accusation to us. Those who want to bring accusations to us should know that we will not accept it, even if they simplify the whole matter.

To say that ‘we do not accuse Hezbollah, but some members of Hezbollah’ is an offense to us as well. A political accusation is not that simple; it led to killing scores of innocent Syrian workers in Lebanon. The atmosphere that the political accusation created had led to killing them. It may not seem that the reality today is not as hard as it was before, because they want to take Lebanon to a much harder place. We do not accept political accusations and distortion will continue even if the investigation panel did not say a word.

Nassef: How do you evaluate the investigation panel and its conduct?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Everyone has the right to evaluate the way he/she sees fit, and we don’t want to cause a dispute. Today, I read an interview in Assafir daily with former (Justice) Minister Bahij Tabbara. It was one of the most scientific, accurate, and sedate interviews I have ever read; it tackle our present stage. I will not go into this. We now have an accomplished fact called the International Tribunal and the General Attorney’s office. Before that we had the investigation panel. In our opinion they all constitute a single institution and we have basic remarks.

First of all, any investigation panel should commit to secrecy, the secrecy of the witnesses and the investigation. The panel did not commit to this neither in the past nor now. This puts its credibility under the microscope and affirms the political exploitation of the investigation. We consider that the panel has not yet finalized its work; it set a single hypothesis from the very first day and this is politicization. They didn’t even include Hezbollah, or Al-Qaeda, or Israel, or any security apparatus in the world that was seeking to destabilize Lebanon in this hypothesis.

They set this one hypothesis called Syria and the four officers. I don’t accuse Israel because I don’t have the proof, however, I analyze, and I conclude that whoever rules out this hypothesis is insulting martyr Rafiq Hariri, as if saying that Israel doesn’t kill Hariri. They went for a single hypothesis and it failed.

Even when the “Group of 13” hypothesis was brought to light, the investigation panel did not take it into consideration and the file was closed, knowing that some officials had said that some members of the group had confessed. However, they later retracted their confessions as we heard. Nobody knows how this file was closed and why it is out of the investigation panel’s circle of interests. Until this very moment, they are still working on a single hypothesis; this is obvious. The hypothesis of the four generals has failed and so did the direct Syrian hypothesis. Today they are working on the Hezbollah hypothesis or members of Hezbollah with or without Syrian direction.

Another remark is the false witnesses. The investigation panel had relied for four years on false witnesses who were exposed from the first weeks of the probe. At the end, they say that the false witnesses have nothing to do with the case, knowing that someone had brought them, directed them, and still protects them. So this is a judicial side that relied on false witnesses for years and built its case based on their testimonies which led to arrests and imprisonment (of the four generals), and therefore it supports a political accusation.

My fifth remark is related to the way people were arrested and how they stayed in jails; there are examples. Two of those arrested stayed in jail for two years and seven months just for selling mobile phone numbers to customers they failed to remember. What fair and credible investigation could lead to this? Another two people stayed in jail for three years and eight months because they are affiliated with a political group, and one of those two had made a telephone call leading to the generals.

They get thrown in jail, without interrogation, for three years and eight months based on the testimonies of the false witnesses. The same conduct continued with Bellemare. The political accusation ended, the four generals were steadfast, and Syria was steady and an enormous effort was exerted to expose those wrongdoings and as a result, the detention was no longer possible. This is enough for me to ask if this investigation panel is to uncover a certain truth or to fulfill the objectives of a greater scheme.

One senior officer proposed a deal to Brigadier General Jamil Sayyed. Suppose that this man had for one second miscalculated his options and agreed to it, what would have happened to Syria, Lebanon, and his fellow officers?

All this information cannot convince you that this is a credible tribunal or even make you judge it with integrity or maybe trust it. This is our evaluation.

Nassef: What is left for you to agree to cooperating with the investigation panel?

Sayyed Nasrallah: The panel has a chance to rebuild trust. For instance I suggest the following:

1- Trying the false witnesses and this would guarantee that we’ll not have more such witnesses. One expert told me that it is possible to rely on witnesses without giving us the opportunity to have a face-to-face meeting with them. Trying false witnesses guarantees no one would dare to make a false statement.
2- Trying those behind the false witnesses.
3- Trying the those who made the leaks. Bellemare can search for them and try them. Everyone who leaks information is disrupting the investigation and distorting it.
4- Banning leaking names and details; we know the names from newspapers!
5- Working on other hypotheses to have a professional investigation.
6- Establishing the right of those who were falsely accused. They cannot wash their hands of them. Until now, those people have not been treated fairly either by the Lebanese government or by the international panel. This is why the (four) officers and others were unjustly treated.

Nassef: In case those remarks were not taken into account, could you say that you will not cooperate with the tribunal?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Despite everything I have just said, despite all our doubts and concerns, and despite the painful experience with this panel, there are some considerations which I would like to address. We are, just as all the Lebanese are, concerned and we want to know the truth. We condemned the assassination from the beginning and described it as a dangerous incident and an earthquake. The main target was Syria and its friends; the first step on the road to the new Middle East. One the hypotheses we forgot to mention is the involvement of the CIA.

We want to cooperate to confront deception. What would have happened if the officers and the Syrians surrendered and no efforts were made to bring back the investigation to its course? To express fidelity to martyr Rafiq Hariri, we agree to cooperate but not on confidence ground but in the hope that this cooperation would help in omitting incorrect courses in the investigation.

We are hearing all this libel and no one has yet accused us. If I say today that we will not cooperate, they would say that Hezbollah is scared because it is involved. We have nothing to be scared of. This is why our decision is to cooperate and we have nothing against the panel sitting with those brothers.

We will cooperate, but you may ask me: will we unlimitedly cooperate? Will we cooperate till the end of the line? We have to wait and see what the course will be like. If it were the same as the course of the Le Figaro and Der Spiegel, then it will be my right to have a different stance. If false witnesses remained, it will be my right to have concerns. At the moment I say that we will cooperate but we are waiting to see the course of the investigation so that we can decide whether to continue cooperation or not.

Nassef: What if they summon heavy weight leaders?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Let’s not anticipate. There are meetings to be held next week and those brothers will be interviewed as witnesses. We cannot decide on everything tonight.

Nassef: On the US-Lebanese security agreement, how do you read it especially that you have been accused of exploiting it to divert attention?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Here is the security agreement in front of us. If we adopt it or cancel it, what effect would it have on the investigation panel? The bring accusations against you when you speak rationally. Someone said that the party that is targeting the Internal Security Forces is the party that wants Israeli spy networks active in Lebanon. If he means Hezbollah by this, then this is ridiculous. Let us abandon the Lebanese way of escaping through accusations.

I will not get into the legal and constitutional sides; I will talk about the content. There are many different aspects in the content. But let me first ask all ministers and members of parliament as well as other political powers to have some respect for the minds of the Lebanese. To say that this is an unconditional gift and not an agreement is not true. (Sayyed reading) “The text of the agreement hereby determines the obligations of the United States and the Lebanese government. It also determines the resources that both parties should make available to support this agreement and they will be considered fixed commitments binding both parties.” So this is an agreement with two parties and commitments. There should be more respect to the minds of the people.

Moving to the essence of the agreement, there are three issues: Security, terrorism, and national dignity which all government adhere to.

With regards to security, when we see that the American has every right to go to ISF stations to make sure of the proper use of the equipment, this means a full scan of ISF stations. (Sayyed reads) “...and to determine if the users are the same individuals who received (the equipment) from the US government.” What does the US have to do with this? Why does it want to interfere?

Another example: The American has the right to keep a list of all equipment provided by the US government and file a report about how they (equipment) are distributed. The US government is to be allowed to reach the equipment “without restraints.” This means that we are exposing a security institution and opening it for the Americans whenever they want to.

On terrorism: The same article is repeated in more than one place. “The Lebanese government is required to make sure that all the users (of the equipment) do not belong to any organization labeled by the US government as a terrorist organization.” When we sign this, we will be accepting the US categorization. Another text stipulates that the Lebanese government has to make sure that the users have no relation whatsoever with the US labeled organization. So the Americans can ban a brother of a Hezbollah member, or a son of a Hezbollah member, from taking part in the training. The United Nations and the European Union did not accept this categorization of Hezbollah, but the Lebanese government accepted it and this is extremely dangerous.

Since I don’t want to go into details, I would like to speak about national dignity. This has been done for nothing more than $50 million, which is nothing in terms of a security apparatus budget. Still, they set conditions: The government shall spare no effort to guarantee that the funds made available according to this agreement will not be used in drug trafficking or illegal trades…Is there any government in the world that would accept such conditions?! This is insulting.

The collective insult is that every ISF personnel who would take part in the training has to sign an avowal: I hereby testify that in the past ten years, I have not committed crimes nor did I trade in narcotics…I realize that the US State Department could terminate the training…” This is insulting. If anyone is to make an avowal then let it be to the ISF not to the Americans.

I don’t think that anyone who is concerned about the dignity of his country would accept such conditions. These are our remarks and we are raising them because we want to protect the country and the Internal Security Forces. We want to help it more to uncover spy networks and we want its doctrine to be directed towards the real enemy not the artificial enemy which the US is trying to create.

Nassef: What do you want to accomplish from discussing this agreement?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Everyone knows that we don’t libel anybody. When we read this in the Assafir newspaper, and we thank it, we resorted to the Parliamentary Communications’ Committee because we want to have solutions. We do not aim at anyone or any institution. Our goal is to solve this matter that we regard as very serious. If the solution were in amending the agreement, then amend it. If the solution were in terminating it, then terminate it. We believe that his agreement contains very serious material that should be terminated.

Another example, since we see doctrine as very important: In lesson number 3 – the trends of international terrorism – terrorist organizations: “Terrorist groups are divided into several categories. Some are religious extremists among which are groups spported by certain nations. Of those organizations, the following are the most active...” Now of course, Israel is not mentioned. They start with Al-Qaeda and thanks be to God we come second, as we were judged by default. Following Hezbollah is Hamas, then the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command. What they do is that they train ISF personnel and tell them that the problem in Lebanon is Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad…etc. But Israel is not mentioned. The agreement continues: …The state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Syria, and North Korea among others. Again Israel is not mentioned because Israel is neither a terrorist state nor a state sponsor of terrorism.

My brothers told me yesterday that as a result of raising the issue before the parliamentary committee and with the Minister of Interior, there have been some attempts to resolve some issues. For instance, Brigadier General Ashraf Rifi (ISF Commander) told the US embassy in a letter that they mentioned Iran and Syria were state sponsors of terrorism while they are friendly states for Lebanon and you label Hezbollah as a terrorist party. B.G. Rifi’s effort is appreciated and this is a good step, but does this letter bind the Americans? I don’t think so. The classifications that the Americans are presenting are very serious. Opening the door for the Americans is very serious. Giving diplomatic immunities to the Americans is also very dangerous. Through immunity, they can enter the country as Al-Mabhouh’s killers did (in Dubai). We want this to be resolved. The parliamentary committee is following up this issue and something will soon be presented to the House Speaker, who has his unique way in dealing with such matters. There is also the President of the Republic who is the guardian of the constitution. We tell him: You Excellency the President this is very serious, please take the initiative and resolve it. Even the Prime Minister can take the initiative. No one wants to undermine the ISF. We all want a strong institution but with conditions that preserve sovereignty.

Nassef: Is the invitation to the dialogue related to the tripartite (Assad, Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah) meeting in Damascus?

Sayyed Nasrallah: I don’t think so and I don’t believe in this. I have information that discussions and preparations preceded the tripartite meeting.

Nassef: Is it related to US pressure?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Maybe. Eventually, the US and Ban Ki-Moon have nothing else to deal with other than the arms of the resistance in Lebanon. They frequently ask Lebanon’s official authorities about the progress made in this regard. Authorities tell them that this is what dialogue is about. So they ask again: What’s become of it? If the goal of the national dialogue was to ease down the foreign pressure on Lebanon, then we don’t mind.

Nassef: There are some sides engaged in the national dialogue with a sole objective to prejudice the arms of the resistance. Why do you take part in the dialogue?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Lebanon is characterized by the diversity of its constituents. We should not get tired of dialogue which should always be the basis. Sometimes dialogue itself can be an interest. Some say that we will not reach a solution and yet they take part in the dialogue, because the mere existence of the round table clams the country and the people and leaves all doors open, and this is what we need. We cannot say that the dialogue table is useless.

Nassef: These sides want to make the world understand that there is no agreement on the national dialogue.

Sayyed Nasrallah: There is no problem, this is reality. We have divided on the resistance in Lebanon since 1982. Is it the fault of the resistance that there is no consensus on the resistance? of course not. Throughout history, there had never been consensus on a resistance by its people.

Nassef: Why didn’t Hezbollah present its paper (view)?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Before the war (2006) and during the pre-final session, Speaker Berri asked me to speak about it (the view), and I improvised; I had no paper in front of me because this is a matter that I’m fully aware of. I made my comprehensive presentation and I explained the military aspect of the view; everyone was writing dow what I was saying. I few weeks later, we implemented our view during the 2006 war and we triumphed. We were sure of its feasibility and credibility. Then dialogue sessions were resumed. Some presented their views on paper, others did not. They are accusing us of not presenting our view? This is utterly wrong. We were the first to do so, and we may present our view on paper, but we want to wait for others first and we want to make use of them to present a final version of our view in light of our first view, and then we can discuss it.

Nassef: Some are demanding that dialogue focuses on one point while others want it expanded.

Sayyed Nasrallah: We do not oppose discussing other topics at the dialogue table. But regarding the theme of the dialogue, some sides say that the theme is discussing the arms of the resistance. This was never the theme of any dialogue session. If it were so, I would not have taken part in it. The main theme is discussing the “National Defense Strategy.” This is what the President of the Republic said during the last session. A national strategy means a military strategy, but it also means a political and security strategy to deal with spy networks. There is also a media strategy and a mobilization and cultural strategies. It is wrong to understand that a national strategy involves on the military aspect.

Nassef: It is noticed that the Zionist entity has backed down from its threats. Is this the calm before the storm?

Sayyed Nasrallah: I still adhere to my conviction which I stated during the Leader Martyrs Day. I don’t believe it’s the calm before the storm. When the Israelis see the picture (Assad, Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah) in Damascus and perceive the general position in Lebanon, and become certain that the resistance has capabilities, they will have to thoroughly reconsider their position. I believe that Israel today is in a strategic dilemma. It is not capable of making what they call ‘peace,’ which is settlement not war, neither are there guarantees for an Israeli victory in any future confrontation.

Nassef: Walid Jumblatt went to Damascus. Do we congratulate him or your eminence?

Sayyed Nasrallah: It’s not about felicitations, it’s about what’s in the interest of everybody as well as the Lebanese-Syrian ties. We have to look ahead of us and make use of the past experiences. I believe that this is a good result and I would like to seize the moment to thank President Assad because I know from the very beginning that this was not easy. I acknowledge, however, that President Assad acted apart from personal considerations. He acted as a great responsible Arab leader who has the ability to make a strategic diagnosis of the nature of the conflict in the region.

Nassef: President Assad talked about Syria’s ties with some groups in Lebanon and entrusted you with this matter.

Sayyed Nasrallah: I have listened to the interview with the Syrian President. Syria has its own standards; first concerning the Israeli enemy, Syria wants Lebanon to be strong in the face of any aggression. This is part of its national commitment, because what harms Lebanon harms Syria as well. This is why we find that Syria has always been standing by the resistance even in the toughest conditions. Syria has never agreed to conspire against the resistance. I recall in 2004, when there were reports about pressure, one of the big leaders proposed the following to President Assad: If you pledge to end the resistance in Lebanon and disarm its arms, we can get you an international commitment stipulating that Lebanon is yours and you are free to rule it as you see fit. But President Assad turned down the deal. The resistance is a very important matter to Syria, so are the special ties between our countries as stated in the Taef Accord. Syria is building its relations with Lebanese groups based on these priorities. Does this mean that Lebanese-Syrian ties have to pass through Hezbollah? Of course not. President Assad has his own direct relation with our top three leaders; bilateral ties between two countries. The saying was that we are two peoples in two countries, however the truth is that is one people in two countries. I don’t believe that Syria and Lebanon can be limited to a single group, no matter what this group meant to Syria.

Nassef: You do you view future ties between Lebanon and Syria?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Ties between both countries should focus on cooperation, and this is possible. President Assad said something worth reiterating; he said that he did not want to interfere in Lebanese affairs and asked the Lebanese not to engage Syrians in their affairs. In fact, he stated this before 2005 and Syria today is acting on this basis. I know that Syria does not interfere in details and is more concerned about these priorities. If Syria made a courageous review then we, as Lebanese, should fold this page because Lebanon needs Syria much more that Syria needs Lebanon.

Nassef: Moving to the domestic issues and municipal elections. To what extent do these elections reflect the factual political scales?

Sayyed Nasrallah: Municipal elections have more a developmental aspect than political. But just like everything else in Lebanon, they are politicized. However, I believe municipal elections express the political gravitas of the parties.

Nassef: Do you want these elections to happen on its due time.

Sayyed Nasrallah: We are open to all options and we don’t have anything to hide. I have read in the newspapers that several political powers prefer to postpone elections, however no one want to take the responsibility of making this demand. I’m ready for this today. We have no concerns, especially that we’ve established a full understanding with our brothers in the Amal Movement. But if ask now why I prefer a delay, my answer will be that there will be problems in villages and towns. What we’re saying is: Give the government a chance to make an accomplishment. Given these circumstances, if all powers agreed to a delay then we don’t mind, and if they agreed to go for elections on time, we don’t mind as well.

Nassef: According to which law?

Sayyed Nasrallah: It will be better for all of us to wait a couple of months to make elections with the necessary reforms. It will be a technical delay. In fact, this is General (Michel) Aoun’s position and we support it. However, if a decision was taken to have the elections on time, we will have no problem with this.

Nassef: What about relativity?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We’ve been clear about relativity in large municipalities. We said we supported it. However, we do not support relativity in smaller municipalities because it will be very complicated.

Nassef: You mentioned an understanding with the Amal Movement, should we expect a coalition?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We’ve already agreed. I’m not saying that we will make an agreement. The Amal Movement and Hezbollah have agreed to a coalition in every town. There will not be competing lists, there will rather be unified lists. We’re almost done with laying a foundation to organize this relationship, and commissions will be formed in different towns. I believe that things will go smoothly, as both of us are counting on the consciousness of our people in towns where we will have an electoral activity.

Nassef: In the middle of all what’s happening now, doesn’t it take you away from Palestine? What’s happening in the occupied land brings back the ugliest details of the Israeli scheme set for Quds (Jerusalem) and Al-Aqsa mosque, what do you have to say about this?

Sayyed Nasrallah: We are used to being frank with the people even if it were painful. The peoples and the governments should have no delusions about the future of Al-Quds. The Israelis may dispute over Gaza and Golan, but Israel is resolved to establish the Jewish state with Al-Quds being its eternal capital. We’ve heard (Benjamin) Netanyahu’s challenging speech in Washington and in the AIPAC conference. He said that settlement building will continue in Al-Quds. This means that what can be delusive are settlements in the West Bank. Al-Quds is a determined matter for Israel and the Israeli plot is to render it a Jewish city by gradually forcing Palestinians and Arabs out of it. I believe that the Israeli scheme is to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque and they are seeking the right opportunity. How would they destroy it and in what manner? If excavations continued underneath it, we’ll see the mosque tumble down one day and we’ll hear Israel denying any responsibility.

This is where they want to get to, and this is what we have to open our eyes to. We have to know that things will go this far if things were left as they are today.

Nassef: Why don’t we adopt the vision of the Arab summits and bargain on the US?

Sayyed Nasrallah: I know that in the wake of the Gaza war, a great conference was held in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh where donations were made to reconstruct Gaza. What happened to Gaza? They don’t let anything into it, even raw material. Will these donations reconstruct the rifted homes in Al-Quds? Where will this money be spent?

For decades, many have bargained on the US and the settlement process, and this bargaining has taken a long time.

Nassef: There was no Obama then.

Sayyed Nasrallah: The choice of the resistance has led to many accomplishments in terms of gaining back the initiative and the balance of deterrence. It has put the entire Zionist plot in jeopardy. This is what this choice has accomplished at a time when the choice of settlement gives the Zionists the time they need to execute their scheme.

However, whether we say Obama agrees or he disagrees, the result is the same. Either he wants but he’s incapable or he doesn’t want to. The Americans have not taken concrete steps to stop settlement building even in the West Bank. The more they bargain on the US the more they will reap failures.

Nassef: Before we end this interview, what would like to say to the Palestinians?

Sayyed Nasrallah: The Palestinians have proven to be an exceptional people with exceptional power of endurance, patience, and steadfastness. I urge the Palestinians not to let despair conquer them. The status-quo in the region will change. The options, clarity, the vision, and the level of consciousness and awareness, the reliable choice of the resistance and the weakness of the settlement option are all unfolding.

I say that Israel doesn’t have a future in our region. Even those buildings they are erecting in Al-Quds to Judaize the city, there will come a day when its real owners will reside in them. I call for adopting the choice of the resistance again. If the Palestinian Intifada was meant to continue, it would have put the Israeli scheme and all of the Israeli entity on the verge of collapse; it was an abandoned Intifada. We should go back to the real choice of the resistance inside Palestine. Supporting this choice, by all resistance factions and resistant states is the only way to save Palestine and Al-Quds. Of course Hezbollah back them and we are their partners in the struggle, resistance, sacrifice, and martyrdom.

Nassef: In the end, I can only thank you and salute you. as all words of gratitude cannot explain sentiments. Thank you very much.

Sayyed Nasrallah: God bless you.


River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

The So Called 'Only Democracy in the Middle East’ by Gilad Atzmon


In Israel, the so called ‘only democracy in the Middle East’, a journalist has been held under house arrest since December for leaking a story of Israeli barbarism. In the Jewish Democracy another prominent Journalist had to run for his life for telling the truth about Israel’s murderous policies and its chief war criminals.

The Guardian reported today that Anat Kam, 23, an Israeli journalist “has been under secret house arrest since December on charges that she leaked highly sensitive classified military documents that suggest the Israeli military breached a court order on assassinations in the occupied West Bank.”

Seemingly, in the ‘Jews only democracy’, people are put under house arrest even when they are trying to suggest a breach of the state’s High Court’s orders. (Even kosher citizens)

Anat Kam, 23, goes on trial in two weeks on treason and espionage charges and could face up to 14 years in jail. In the ‘democratic’ Jewish state, a court-imposed gagging order is preventing media coverage of the arrest and charges in Israel. I am left puzzled here as it seems Israelis can be prosecuted for reporting illegal activities.

A Haaretz leading journalist, Uri Blau, who has also been linked to the case, has had to escape Israel. He is now in London, apparently for fear he will be targeted for his reporting.

In November 2008, Blau reported in Haaretz that the IDF had been carrying out assassinations of Palestinian militants in the West Bank in contravention of an Israeli high court ruling, which said efforts should be made first to arrest suspected militants rather than assassinating them.

According to Blau the IDF chief General Gabi Ashkenazi allegedly approved the assassination operations. The Haaretz piece was accompanied by copies of military documents but it was approved by the military censor before publication.

I am here to suggest that if America still insists to ‘democratize the world’, it may have to start with its ‘best ally’. Time may also be ripe for Neocon British Foreign Secretary David Miliband who advocates ‘liberal interventionalism’, to face the fact that the Jewish state, the state that lists him as one of its Propaganda (Hasbara) authours, is no less than a Tyranny inspired by a deep Talmudic intolerance.

Shalom Warns of New Gaza Assault; Hamas Urges Int’l Community to End Escalation


02/04/2010 Israel on Friday threatened a wide scale military operation against the Gaza Strip after a string of air strikes which injured three Palestinian children.

Israel's deputy prime minister, Silvan Shalom, warned that the Israeli occupation military would soon launch a new offensive on the Gaza Strip unless the rocket fire from the Strip was halted. "If this rocket fire against Israel does not stop, it seems we will have to raise the level of our activity and step up our actions against Hamas," Shalom told public radio.

"We won't allow frightened children to again be raised in bomb shelters and so, in the end, it will force us to launch another military operation," said the Israeli deputy premier.

"I hope we can avoid it, but it is one of the options we have, and if we don't have a choice, we will use it in the near future," he said.

Three Palestinian children - aged two, four and 11 - were hit by flying glass in one of the six overnight raids, said Moawiya Hassanein, head of the Palestinian emergency services in Gaza. There were no other reports of casualties.

Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyyeh, reacted by blaming Israel for the increase in tensions. "My government is in talks with the Palestinian organizations to maintain a united stance with regards to the struggle against Israel," he said, and urged the international community to "intervene to put an end to the Israeli escalation," Haniyyeh said in a statement.

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, told Al Jazeera Channel that Hamas held the Israeli government led by Binjamin Netanyahu responsible for the "escalation", but said the air raids had been expected because of threats by Ehud Barak, the defense minister, and other ministers.

He also blamed "the international community and the Arabs" for failing "to do anything about the situation in Gaza". "The absence of the international community and the Arabs has allowed the Israelis to escalate the situation," he said.

Israeli aircraft bombed in Khan Younis, including a site housing Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV network. In Gaza City, warplanes targeted the Daloul cheese and diary factory in the Sabra neighborhood. Houses were damaged nearby.

Aircraft fired two missiles at a police station in the Nusseirat refugee camp in addition to other sites in central Gaza, including a telecommunications company.

In accordance with an emergency plan developed for renewed Israeli attacks, ambulances were mobilized throughout Gaza in anticipation of casualties.

Palestinians across the coastal enclave said dozens of Israeli aircraft were spotted overhead.

An Israeli military spokesman said the warplanes targeted two weapons manufacturing facilities, one in the north, one in central Gaza, and two weapons storage facilities in the south.

Earlier, Israeli occupation officials reported that Palestinian fighters fired a homemade rocket into Israeli territory from Gaza. No one was injured.

Late Thursday, Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets on areas of Gaza bordering the occupied territories warning Palestinians not to approach the frontier. "The (army) holds Hamas as solely responsible for maintaining peace and quiet in the Gaza Strip," the occupation military said.

The rise in rocket fire comes amid mounting tensions in the region sparked by Arab fears that Israel has been moving to deepen its hold on annexed, mainly occupied east Jerusalem.

It has also been accompanied by fresh clashes along the Gaza border fence. On Tuesday, a Palestinian teenager was killed and several others were wounded as Israeli occupation troops fired on protesters near the border of the blockaded territory.

And two Israeli occupation soldiers, including an officer, were killed along with two Palestinian resistance fighters during fierce clashes last weekend when Israeli tanks carried out a brief incursion into Gaza.

'CONCERNED' BRITAIN URGES RESTRAINT ON BOTH SIDES IN GAZA

Meanwhile, Britain expressed concern Friday at Israeli air strikes against the Gaza Strip and the increase in rocket attacks from the enclave, and called for restraint on both sides.

"We are concerned by today's strikes and the escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel over the past week. We call on all parties to show restraint," a Foreign Office spokeswoman said. "We encourage Israelis and Palestinians to focus efforts on negotiation and to engage urgently in US-backed proximity talks."

Haneyya callas on the international community to bridle Israeli escalation
3 Palestinian children wounded in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza


River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

Ever evolving unimaginable scenario: 'Rogue' Hezbollah elements killed Hariri ...

Via Friday-Lunch-Club


Suddenly we are led to believe that this party, paragon of secrecy & discipline, has branched out with 'rogue' elements deciding to submit Lebanon & Syria to "a tectonic shift"...... Blanford in FP/ here

"... Hezbollah's lack of motive makes it unlikely that the party would have acted on its own initiative in killing Hariri. True, Nasrallah and Hariri were poles apart politically.... The two men grew close in the last months of Hariri's life, holding a series of secret meetings in Nasrallah's heavily guarded home, beginning in June 2004. Snacking on coffee and fruit, they discussed weighty regional affairs such as the Iraq war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and their shared fears of Sunni-Shiite strife.
Mustafa Nasr, Hariri's advisor for Shiite affairs, who attended the meetings, told me in 2005 that the two men had a genuine rapport and shared much in common on a personal level, (such as?) even if their visions for Lebanon remained different.
Given the lack of motive, it has been mooted that elements within Hezbollah might have cooperated in the planning of the assassination with an external power, presumably Syria, without the knowledge of the party's leadership. If true, this would raise all manner of intriguing questions about Hezbollah's internal command and control. ....
Hezbollah circles have been abuzz with speculation in recent days over the tribunal's intentions. There is a universal belief among Hezbollah cadres and their supporters that the tribunal is being manipulated by the United States to attack the party.
Recent conversations with two Hezbollah military unit commanders suggest that mitigating the potential fallout from the tribunal's investigation has become a top priority for the party. The two commanders agreed that before Israel can be confronted, Hezbollah has to ensure that it will not be "stabbed in the back" by its Lebanese opponents. This requires building a political and public consensus in Lebanon to block the tribunal from moving against Hezbollah, they said.
Any domestic attempts to take advantage of the tribunal to weaken Hezbollah would be "slapped down," they said. They also refused to rule out the possibility of a show of force on the streets, as occurred in May 2008 when Hezbollah overran the mainly Sunni western half of Beirut following an attempt by the U.S.-backed Lebanese government to shut down the party's private military communications network.
For now, however, Hezbollah has limited its response to denying any involvement in Hariri's murder and questioning the tribunal's credibility. On Wednesday night, Nasrallah accused the tribunal of leaking information implicating Hezbollah, warning that if the leaks continue he might halt his cooperation with the investigation.
Last week, the office of Daniel Bellemare, the tribunal's chief prosecutor, said it took "strong exception" to allegations that it was deliberately leaking information to the media. Yet it is no secret that some Western officials are given periodic briefings on the tribunal's work, allowing them insights into the investigation's direction, if not all the key details. It can be safely assumed that the Syrian and Iranian governments do not receive the same courtesy.
Such briefings and leaks (authorized or not) make it easier for critics to challenge the credibility of the tribunal. Since its inception, the tribunal has had to defend itself against accusations that it is a political instrument, serving the interests of the United States and France under the respective leaderships of former President George W. Bush and former French President Jacques Chirac. The two countries supported Lebanon's call for an international investigation into the Hariri murder because it would pressure Syria, the prime suspect. If Israel had been the chief suspect, there never would have been an international investigation and tribunal.
But political calculations in the Middle East have changed since 2005, and there are no guarantees that the outcome of the investigation will be to the liking of the powers that supported it in the first place. Saudi Arabia and France have recently patched up their differences with Syria, and Washington has embarked upon a hesitant re-engagement with Damascus. Syrian influence in Lebanon has steadily returned, causing the March 14 coalition, which spearheaded the anti-Syrian campaign in Lebanon from 2005, to crumble. Saad Hariri, Rafiq's son who was appointed prime minister last year, swallowed his personal feelings to travel to Damascus in December to embrace Syrian President Bashar al-Assad........
It is difficult to envisage how Lebanon can avoid a serious political crisis if the tribunal issues indictments against Hezbollah officials. In that event, Saad Hariri will face an unenviable dilemma. On Monday, he reiterated his support for the tribunal, saying that it was a "big component of stability in Lebanon." "We will accept any decision that comes out of the tribunal, whatever it is," he said.
But he and his coalition government, which includes a member of Hezbollah, are in no position to compel the Shiite party to turn over anyone indicted by the tribunal, which presumably would conduct the trials in absentia. Such a scenario, however, would lead to the absurd situation of a Lebanese government declining to comply with the demands of a tribunal that is partially funded by Lebanon, includes Lebanese judges, and has been championed from the beginning by the Lebanese state. ..."

Posted by G, Z, or B at 3:32 PM
River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

Are Arabs ready for Obama?

Intifada Voice
02. Apr, 2010 

Aijaz Zaka Syed

April 2, 2010
What’s that Abba song again? The winner takes it all; the winner takes it all…The loser standing small
These days the 1980s classic seems to constantly play in my mind as I watch Barack Obama knock down his adversaries with a winning smile on his face.
Having been elected amid unprecedented euphoria, Obama became a victim of his own gravitas and success.  After the initial, lusty celebrations by his fans at home and around the world, the disenchantment with the first black man in the White House had been equally swift and breathtaking.  His popularity ratings began dipping faster than you could say ‘Change We Can.’
Even the most diehard supporters of the president began wondering if it was all talk and no substance behind that magical smile.  It looked as though everything was finished and Obama’s dream presidency had crashed right after the take off.  The man in the thick of it though never seemed to doubt himself, never taking his eyes off the ball.  And he struck even as his detractors were busy writing his obit.  This is perhaps what Dryden had in mind when he warned, ‘Beware of the fury of a patient man.’
When you are under siege and things are all falling around you, it’s amazing what one decisive victory could do to restore the world’s confidence – and your own trust – in yourself.  All the pompous pundits who’d skewered Obama all year around are now rushing to crown him as the greatest president since Teddy Roosevelt. It seems nothing indeed succeeds like success. This most unlikeliest of all presidents has many firsts to his credit, the most significant of them being his own impossible election.  But by pushing through the long needed health care reforms in the face of great adversity helping tens of millions of poor Americans, he has accomplished something that eluded numerous of his formidable predecessors including Roosevelt and Bill Clinton.
And this after just 14 months in office. Around the time US lawmakers were voting on health care bill, Obama quietly scored another victory, this time on foreign front, by clinching a sweeping nuclear disarmament deal with Russia. The treaty will substantially cuts down on the deadly arsenal accumulated during the Cold war. Again an accomplishment that evaded many of his predecessors. “Yes we did, yes we did, yes we did!” he shouted back to the cheering crowds in Iowa, 1,000 kiolometres from Washington DC where he had vanquished his once invincible rival Hillary Clinton in the race for White House. With his jacket cast off and the pristine white shirt sleeves folded, the prophet of hope that the world had fallen in love with after long years of beating around the Bush was back with a bang.
But can our hero repeat the success story over the Middle East? Every US and Western leader over the past half a century or so has paid lip service to the Middle East peace, dialogue, two-state solution and what not.  Only to set new records of prostrating before Israel even as it builds ever new monuments to its delusions of grandeur over the Palestinian bodies and towns.
At last though the US establishment and official Washington appear to be waking up to the reality we in the Middle East have been trying to highlight and underscore all these years. Last week, top US commander General David Petraeus did the unthinkable by arguing before the Senate that an early resolution of the Palestine question was key to winning America’s ‘war on terror’.
The architect of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan established a clear link between the Israeli persecution of Palestinians and the anti-US and anti-Western sentiment in the Arab and Muslim world: “The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, [because of] a perception of US favouritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and peoples in the region and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world,” Gen Petraeus warned the Senate.
No US leader or General has ever come this close to holding a mirror to the so-called ‘special relationship’.  Ground has shifted in Washington and Israel would ignore the writing on the wall at its own peril.  More and more Americans, including mainstream US media, are beginning to realise that the ‘special relationship’ with Israel has become a millstone and albatross around America’s neck and is dragging it down the abyss.
The continuing persecution and dispossession of Palestinian people, fueling anger fury across the Muslim world, not weapons of mass destruction, has emerged as the “clear and present danger” to the US and its other Western allies.  President Obama appears to be increasingly conscious of this fact and clearly wants to act before it’s too late.  It’s suggested that Gen Petraeus’ Senate testimony and comments by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the same vein were in response to orders from the commander-in-chief himself.
If Israel’s Netanyahu thought he could get away with snubbing Obama on the building of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land stolen in 1967, he was grievously mistaken. The pro-Israel US media has recounted with horror how Obama dropped the Israeli leader from Michelle’s dinner invitation at White House after he thundered to cheap cheers at the AIPAC conference in Washington that Obama or no Obama Israel would continue to build the settlements in Jerusalem.  “Let me know if there’s anything new,” Obama is reported to have said after curtly cutting short Netanyahu’s attempts to “explain” the settlements with the help of a flow chart. Then the President brusquely walked out of the meeting, leaving Netanyahu and his aides speechless – and their mouths wide open!
Telling Israel that ‘enough is enough’ and it’s time to behave is something that no US leader has ever done before.  As Andrew Sullivan says in the Sunday Times, Obama has torn apart Israel’s carte blanche – or its license to kill – to do anything and get away with it all these years. Commenting on Obama’s snub to Netanyahu, the New York Times’ Jewish columnist Roger Cohen wrote: “This man is no softie. He’s a politician tough enough to watch his rivals auto-destruct on his cool.” And I so hope Obama will eventually persuade Israel’s intransigent leaders to ‘self-destruct.’ This unusual president with an extraordinary background has many firsts to his credit. However, Obama’s real test lies in taming the monster that the US and other Western powers created and unleashed on the Middle East. Can he do it? I would like to think so.  This US leader has both the courage of conviction and honesty of intention.  More important, he has the persistence of purpose. As Sullivan says, the key thing to understand about Obama is his persistence.
Obama cannot do it alone though.  He needs the active support of other world powers and people everywhere who believe in a just world.  Global opinion has shifted our way. For the first time, a US president appears willing and ready to deliver peace in the Middle East. But are the Arabs ready? They must not squander this historic opportunity with their petty squabbles. They must speak in one voice and act for the sake of Palestinians and for their own sake. This is the Change We Can! Go ahead, Obama, you can do it. God be with you!
Aijaz Zaka Syed is Opinion Editor of Khaleej Times. Write to him at aijaz@khaleejtimes.com
River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

Palestinians support anti-normalization activists in Egypt

[ 02/04/2010 - 05:56 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian Media Federation (PMF) has hailed the stand of Egyptian Journalist Syndicate (PJS) that publicly rejected normalization with the Zionist entity, and welcomed the syndicate’s plan to issue a dictionary with terms confirming the Arab identity of Palestine.

In a statement it issued on Thursday, the PMF appreciated the move of Egyptian film director Ahmad Atef for withdrawing from the panel of judges after an Israeli film was exhibited during the sixth film festival at the French cultural center in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

The PMF also hailed the Palestinian journalist organizations and media institutions who announced their intention to form an anti-normalization committee in the field of media, expressing readiness to start Arab, Muslim, and international contacts to activate the committee.

Furthermore, the PMF called on Arab and Muslim journalists to support the Palestinian journalists, including Palestinian-Jerusalemite journalists, who, according to the PMF, face repressive measures and human rights violation at the hands of the Israeli occupation authorities.

River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

Special Assistant to USAF Chief of Staff was a "major in the Israeli Air Force"

Via Friday-Lunch-Club


"Dr. Lani Kass is Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. As the senior civilian assistant to CSAF, Dr. Kass is the principal adviser on policy and strategy and formulates, develops, implements, and communicates the policies, programs and goals of the Air Force.
Prior to her appointment as the CSAF's Special Assistant, Dr. Kass served as the Director of the CSAF's Cyberspace Task Force to investigate cyberspace as a domain and craft recommendations for senior Air Force leadership to deal with the threats in this emerging domain. Her efforts culminated in the decision to stand up Air Force Cyber Command. She continues to share her cyber expertise across the Interagency, industry and academe."
USAF Biography
-----------------------------------------------------------
Her offical position is as a Special Assistant to USAF Chief of Staf, General Norman Schwartz. Apparently whatever she does for Mullen is unofficial. Harper?
She was a major in the Israeli Air Force. Is she an Israeli national?

Posted by G, Z, or B at 2:16 PM
River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

Israel threatens new Gaza offensive

Link



Date published: 2nd April 2010
Source: Al Jazeera English
_____


Israel has warned that it could launch a fresh military assault on the Gaza Strip if Hamas does not stop rocket and mortar attacks from its territory.

The threat on Friday came just hours after a series of air raids across Gaza, which Israel said were in response to rocket fire the previous day, injured at least three Palestinian children.
The Israeli military has said that almost 20 rockets have been fired into Israel in the past month, including one that killed a Thai farm worker.

“If this rocket fire against Israel does not stop, it seems we will have to raise the level of our activity and step up our actions against Hamas,” Silvan Shalom, Israel’s deputy prime minister, told public radio on Friday.
“We won’t allow frightened children to again be raised in bomb shelters and so, in the end, it will force us to launch another military operation.
“I hope we can avoid it, but it is one of the options we have, and if we don’t have a choice, we will use it in the near future.”





About 1,400 Palestinians were killed when Israel launched its last offensive on the Gaza Strip in December 2008.
Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians also died over the 22-day period of the assault.

“Twenty rockets in the space of one month might not sound a huge amount compared to the intensive rocket fire preceeding and during the Gaza war of just over a year ago,” Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Jerusalem, said.
“Nevertheless, in comparison to recent months it did mark an escalation.”
There was no claim of responsibility for Thursday’s lone rocket, which caused no casualties.
Gaza targets
The Israeli military said Friday’s air raids had targeted weapons manufacturing and storage facilities in the central Gaza Strip, in Gaza City in the north and the southern part of the Palestinian enclave, all in response to rockets fired from the territory.
“The IDF [Israeli military] will not tolerate any attempt to harm the citizens of the State of Israel and will continue to operate firmly against anyone who uses terror against it,” the Israeli army said in a statement.
“The IDF holds Hamas as solely responsible for maintaining peace and quiet in the Gaza Strip.”



But witnesses and Hamas officials said that Israeli missiles hit two caravans near the town of Khan Younis and a cheese factory, while helicopters attacked a metal foundry in the Nusseirat refugee camp.
The children injured in the air raids were hit by flying glass, Palestinian medics said.
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, told Al Jazeera that Hamas held the Israeli government led by Binyamin Netanyahu responsible for the “escalation”, but said air raids had been expected because of threats by Ehud Barak, the defence minister, and other ministers.
He also blamed “the international community and the Arabs” for failing “to do anything about the situation in Gaza”.
“The absence of the international community and the Arabs has allowed the Israelis to escalate the situation,” he said.
There have been increasing tensions between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, a Palestinian teenager was killed and several others wounded as Israeli troops fired on protesters near the border between Gaza and Israel and last weekend two Israeli soldiers and two Palestinian fighters died during clashes.
Clashes have also broken out in the West Bank and Jerusalem over Israeli settlement plans, the reconsecration of a synagogue in East Jerusalem and other issues.

River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

Occupation police raid two cultural centres and assault staff in Silwan


[ 02/04/2010 - 12:02 PM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation police raided on Thursday evening the Wadi Hilwa Information Centre and the Mada Centre for Creativity, in the Wadi Hilwa neighbourhood of Silwan village near the Aqsa Mosque, according to Palestinian sources in Jerusalem.

The sources said that Jewish settlers participated in the assault on the Wadi Hilwa centre and that they assaulted the staff during the assault injuring five of them including Ramadan al-Banna, Ahmad al-Natshe and Wael Seyam.

This is in addition to a number of arrests including an elderly man, a woman and a 15-year-old boy who was accused of throwing stones at a Jewish settler.

Meanwhile, citizens of Eisaweyyah to the north east of Jerusalem organised a picket to protest the occupation's decision to bar them from reaching their fields.

The villagers own about 2500 dunums of land and they have been barred from reaching them by the occupation authorities without any reasons given for this ban.

River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian

The US, Iran & the Middle Easts new "Cold War"

Via Friday-Lunch-Club


The Leveretts at the RFI/ here


The absence of US-Iranian rapprochement will perpetuate the new Middle Eastern Cold War, imposing costs on the United States, Iran and other regional and international players. However, in strategic terms, the heaviest costs of continued US-Iranian estrangement are likely to be borne by the United States. In particular, lack of productive relations with Tehran will contribute significantly to Washington’s failure to achieve important policy objectives in the Middle East, thereby conditioning further erosion of America’s regional standing and influence
This is the most important, “bottom-line” conclusion of our most recent article, “The United States, Iran, and the Middle East’s New ‘Cold War’” , just published in The International Spectator. The article argues that U.S.-Iranian relations “need to be analyzed and understood not only in terms of their bilateral dynamics, but also in their strategic context.” More specifically, we argue that “the relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic both shapes and is shaped by the new Middle Eastern Cold War”:
“As the new regional Cold War plays out, analysts suggest different scenarios for how the ongoing strategic competition between the United States and Iran will evolve. Some, like former Germany Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, see this competition as a struggle for regional hegemony in the Middle East comparable to that in late nineteenth century Europe following German unification; from this perspective, Fischer warns that, without careful handling, tensions between the United States and the Islamic Republic could ultimately erupt in a large-scale military confrontation. Others, like Fareed Zakaria, believe that the United States and its regional and international partners will move inexorably toward a posture of containing and deterring the Islamic Republic and its allies, in a manner reminiscent of the West’s Cold War posture toward the Soviet Union.” Against the backdrop of these scenarios, we argue that the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran should transcend the prospects for hegemonial war of strategic standoff and seek a fundamental realignment of their relations, in a manner similar to the realignment in relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China during Richard Nixon’s tenure in the White House. We further argue that such a fundamental realignment of US-Iranian relations can only be achieved through a comprehensive rapprochement between Washington and Tehran.”On the Iranian side of the equation, we note that, “like the emergence of the Middle East’s new Cold War, the Islamic Republic’s rise has occurred during a still ongoing period of tectonic shifts in the region’s strategic environment”:

"These shifts include the effective collapse of the traditional Arab-Israeli peace process, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, the rise of Hezbollah and Hamas as political actors in their national and regional contexts, the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and subsequent Israeli military campaigns in Lebanon and Gaza, structural changes in global energy markets and a tremendous transfer of wealth to major Middle Eastern energy producers. All of these shifts are playing out against what is increasingly perceived, in the Middle East and elsewhere, as a decline in America’s relative power and influence.”
We note that, after President Ahmadinejad’s election in 2005, “the Islamic Republic was able to take advantage of these developments to effect a significant boost in its own regional standing.” But, we also note that a critical mass of Iranian elites,cutting across the Islamic Republic’s factional spectrum, continues to recognize that
“the Islamic Republic has basic national security and foreign policy needs which can only be met—or, only optimally met—through rapprochement with Washington. And, over the course of [the last 20 years], Iranian decision-makers have come to believe that the only reliable way to effect such a rapprochement is by forging a comprehensive set of strategic understandings with Washington.”
After tracing the evolution of the Islamic Republic’s post-1989 foreign policy toward the United States and other great powers, we take on some of the more common—and also more distorted and damaging—portrayals of Iranian foreign policy in the West:
“There has always been a current in Western analyses of Iranian politics that sees the Islamic Republic as too ideologically constrained and/or politically fractious to pursue a strategic opening to the United States. From this perspective a determinative portion of the Iranian leadership sees opposition to rapprochement with Washington as critical to regime legitimation and a weapon to use against political opponents. Since the Islamic Republic’s 12 June 2009 presidential election, such arguments have gained greater prominence in Western discussions of Iranian politics. But the historical record of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy since 1989 strongly suggests that this view is fundamentally mistaken.”
Notwithstanding an increasing interest in Tehran in forging closer ties to major Eastern powers—China, India, Russia—Iranian foreign continue “to be attracted by the prospective benefits of rapprochement with the United States.” To be sure, Iran does not want rapprochement with the United States at any price and, at this point, wants to define, a priori, a “comprehensive framework” for any sustained US-Iranian dialogue—
“a framework that would be clearly oriented toward fundamentally realigning US-Iranian relations, addressing the Islamic Republic’s security interests, recognising its regional role, and normalizing its international relations.” But, “even after the 2009 presidential election, there continues to be a critical mass of Iranian elites, cutting across the Islamic Republic’s factional spectrum, that is interested in rapprochement with the United States, within the parameters discussed above.”
On the American side, we argue that, “from an interest-based perspective, the imperatives for comprehensive realignment of US-Iranian relations are as compelling for Washington as they are for Tehran”:
“Looking ahead, how Washington deals with the Islamic Republic has become, in the context of the Middle East’s new Cold War, the primary litmus test for the future of America’s regional position. At this point in the evolution of the Middle East’s balance of power and geopolitical influence, the United States cannot achieve any of its high-priority objectives in the region—reaching negotiated settlements to the unresolved tracks of the Arab-Israeli conflict, stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan, containing terrorist threats from violent jihadi extremists, curbing nuclear proliferation, putting Lebanon on a more stable trajectory and ensuring an adequate long-term flow of oil and natural gas to international energy markets—absent a productive strategic relationship with Iran.”
Against this backdrop, we take on some of the more frequently-heard criticisms of our analogy between the reorientation of American policy toward China undertaken by President Nixon during the early 1970s and what we believe is the optimal course for America’s Iran policy today:
“Some observers question the parallel between the policy challenges confronting Nixon regarding China and those confronting decision-makers today regarding Iran, arguing that there was an immediate Cold War rationale for US-China rapprochement (to “triangulate” against the Soviet Union) that is absent in the Iranian case…Such a [perspective] defines both Nixon’s accomplishment vis-à-vis China and the contemporary challenge of Iran too narrowly. The primary impetus for US-China rapprochement was not a common enemy, but the need to align US and Chinese interests to deal with an array of strategic challenges; that is why the relationship established by Nixon and his Chinese counterparts has become even more important in the post-Cold War era. And, as with China in the 1970s, the United States today cannot address some of its most important foreign policy problems without a strategic opening to Iran.”
Not surprisingly, we argue that,
“to achieve this, Washington needs to pursue a genuinely comprehensive and strategic approach to diplomacy with Tehran. Such an approach would be grounded in a reaffirmation of America’s commitment in the Algiers Accord not to interfeere in Iran’s internal affairs and in the prospect of a US guarantee not to use force to change the borders of form of government of the Islamic Republic. It would seek to resolve major bilateral differences and channel Iran’s exercise of its regional influence in support of US interests and policies.” We note though that, “unfortunately, the United States—even with the Obama administration in office—has yet to pursue such an approach.”
Why has the United States—even under the Obama administration—not moved more purposefully to embrace comprehensive engagement with Tehran, aimed at a fundamental realignment of relations? We acknowledge that “part of the answer lies in domestic politics”. But
“a larger part of the explanation, in our view, lies in ongoing confusion among American foreign policy elites about two critical questions: The first of these questions is the relative stability/fragility of the Islamic Republic’s political order…The second of these questions is whether Tehran’s national security and foreign policy strategies are designed to resist aspects of US hegemony that threaten Iranian interests and regional prerogatives or to replace American hegemony in the Middle East with Iranian hegemony.”
We, of course, offer what we believe are clear and compelling answers to these questions. But,
“in the absence of intellectual consensus on these critical questions—or a clear presidential choice to deal with the Islamic Republic as it its presently constituted and seek rapprochement based on a balance of US and Iranian interests—US policy toward Iran has been and will remain, at best, incoherent.”
We conclude with a forecast that,
“because of the intellectual confusion and policy incoherence described above, US efforts to encourage internal liberalization and contain perceived Iranian threats will continue to undercut the credibility, in Iranian eyes, of whatever attempts Washington makes to engage diplomatically. And, thus, the United States—even under the Obama administration—will continue to fall short of the Islamic Republic’s minimum threshold for determining that Washington is finally serious about rapprochement.”
And that brings us to the closing passage that we cited at the outset of this piece:
“The absence of US-Iranian rapprochement will perpetuate the new Middle Eastern Cold War, imposing costs on the United States, Iran and other regional and international players. However, in strategic terms, the heaviest costs of continued US-Iranian estrangement are likely to be borne by the United States. In particular, lack of productive relations with Tehran will contribute significantly to Washington’s failure to achieve important policy objectives in the Middle East, thereby conditioning further erosion of America’s regional standing and influence.”
Posted by G, Z, or B at 10:18 AM
River to Sea
 Uprooted Palestinian