Saturday, 26 March 2011

George Galloway: the truth about involvement in Libya

Posted: March 26, 2011 by attendingtheworld

The three most important letters in any conflict:
O     I     L
I will add: why aren’t we bombing the Israelis? Their warplanes and tanks unleash disproportional retaliation against Palestinian civilians and what’s left of their economy!
“This war is about oil, control and a message to the rest of the world and region that we can do it if we want to. I fear we will soon be involved in a ground war, the partition of Libya and the theft of that country’s oil and resources.
“What is even more worrying is the fact that David Cameron ignored my request, in the House of Commons … for assurance that cluster bombs and depleted uranium weapons would not be used,” he added. “This is not peace. Let there be no mistake. This is war.”
Hudson agreed, calling the attacks “utterly reprehensible”. Galloway predicted that the air strikes would cost the Libyans “hundreds of thousands of lives and even more livelihoods … just as the shock and awe savagery has in Baghdad”.

He predicted: “This bombing will not succeed. This will be a long war, casualties will occur far from the scenes of battle and the radicalisation of Arab and Islamic world will proceed apace. This is not peacekeeping. This is imperialist war-making.”

German warned people not to be “taken in” by claims that the goal of the air strikes is to “help the poor people of Libya”. She said: “The people of Libya will not be helped but will be harmed by this intervention, just as the people of Afghanistan and Iraq have been. The only people who can change the situation in the Middle East are the people in the Middle East.” – more
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Libya: What next?

The phrase written in Arabic
on this Libyan woman's hands reads:
 " I love Libya"


- 25. Mar, 2011

One week after the United Nations Security Council authorized the use of military force in Libya, a solution to the country’s crisis appears nowhere in sight.

By Mohamed Hussein / BBC Monitoring

The Gaddafi regime remains entrenched in the west and the “rebels” continue to control the east, from Libya’s second city of Benghazi to the Egyptian border, raising the spectre of stalemate and the de facto division of the country.

The UN resolution

Security Council Resolution 1973, passed on 17 March, called for a ceasefire and the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya, and it imposed a freeze on “all funds, other financial assets and economic resources” owned or controlled by the Libyan authorities.

Although the resolution authorized member states to “take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack”, it explicitly excluded “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”.

Since the resolution was passed Western countries, led by the United States, France and Britain, have carried out a series of air strikes which appear to have succeeded in degrading or neutralizing Libyan air defences, thus minimising the risk to the warplanes patrolling the no-fly zone.

Most importantly, air strikes on the outskirts of Benghazi on 19 March removed the immediate threat facing the city where the regime’s forces had been poised to advance after Gaddafi promised to search it “alley by alley, house by house, room by room” and to show “no mercy”.

Military failures

However, initial speculation that the removal of Gaddafi’s air power from the military equation would clear the way for the rebels to advance to the areas still under his control has so far not been borne out.

To begin with, the rebels, who are using Benghazi as their headquarters, have failed to take advantage of the cover provided by the no-fly zone to move westwards.

Poorly trained or untrained, disorganised, without a command structure or, apparently, a plan, and lacking the wherewithal to counter Gaddafi’s armour and heavy artillery, they have failed to retake even towns that they had originally captured, such as Ajdabiya, a gateway town to eastern Libya located 100 miles (160 kilometres) to the west of Benghazi, and the oil towns of Brega and Ras Lanuf further to the west.

Moreover, Libyan army units that had turned their back on the Gaddafi regime in the early days of the rebellion, notably the Sa’iqa special forces brigade based in Benghazi, appear to have shed their uniforms and vanished instead of joining the rebel armed forces.

The special forces’ long-serving erstwhile commander, General Abd-al-Fattah Yunis, who in February defected from the regime where he was interior minister and is now “chief of the General Staff of the Army of Free Libya”, appears not to have used his influence or contacts in the force to mobilise it to the rebel cause.
Consequently, in the areas previously under full rebel control, such as the central city of Misrata, about 130 miles (210 km) from the capital Tripoli, and the western city of Zintan, about 55 miles (90 km) southwest of Tripoli, Gaddafi’s forces have continued to tighten their grip through what eyewitnesses describe as the indiscriminate use of tanks, heavy armour, multiple rocket launchers and snipers, as well as by cutting water and power supplies to the population.

Political and communications failure

The rebels’ failure on the military front has been matched by an equally significant absence of a communications strategy towards Libyans and, crucially, Western publics whose support is essential if their governments are to continue to participate in implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1973.

Furthermore, although soon after taking over Benghazi and eastern Libya in February the rebels announced an interim leadership the Transitional National Council – which consists mainly of people who either had served in or had been connected to the Gaddafi regime – they have not so far explained their vision for the country or how they intend to achieve that vision, beyond toppling Gaddafi.
This has generated anxiety among some Libyans, and especially in the Western states implementing the UN Security Council resolution where questions are being asked regarding the wisdom of supporting a side in the Libyan conflict about which little is known.

Stalemate and division?

On the face of it, these tactical and strategic failures do not bode well either for the future of Libya or for the rebels’ cause.

The inability of the Gaddafi regime to overwhelm the rebels in the absence of air cover, and the failure of the rebel forces to plan and organise a push westwards, could in time result in a freezing of the status quo and the de facto division of the country, with a rump state controlled by Gaddafi in the west and the eastern half of the country under rebel rule.

Both sides have vowed not to let this happen but they may have no choice but to accept it.

From the Western allies’ point of view, this would also be a most undesirable outcome because as long as Gaddafi remains in power in one half of they country – and therefore a threat to civilians in the other half – it would mean that they would have to maintain the no-fly zone indefinitely.

The Iraq scenario, then, where the no-fly zone was in position for 10 years, would begin to haunt decision makers, not only because it would create a haemorrhaging of public support for the intervention in Libya, but also because of the big economic costs involved.

As far as the rebels are concerned, a long-drawn-out stalemate would also give the Gaddafi regime time to mobilise international opinion against the no-fly zone and for the lifting of UN sanctions.


However, a stalemate and the facto division of Libya are by no means inevitable.
In the first place, the rebels still have time to formulate a strategy, organize a coherent military force and capture the areas still under Gaddafi’s control.

Secondly, now that Gaddafi’s air defences have been neutralised and a no-fly zone is fully operational, his forces are no longer capable of retaking any of the major towns and cities under rebel control.

Furthermore, with the no-fly zone in place, the air forces of the countries implementing the UN Security Council resolution can now focus their attention on the regime’s supply lines and troop movements where these are judged to be a potential threat to civilians, as has happened in Misrata.

This would not only ensure that the Libyan ruler does not expand the areas under his grip, but might also lead army commanders still loyal to him to question the long-term value of their loyalty.

Another factor that would work against the possibility of a long-term stalemate and the de facto division of Libya is the possibility of intervention by Western ground troops in areas where Gaddafi’s forces might infiltrate into towns and cities and present a grave threat to the civilian population.

Although Security Council resolution explicitly excludes “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”, it does not rule out targeted intervention by ground forces, for example, special forces sent in to take out snipers from residential centres.

Finally, there is the possibility of decapitation, that is, targeting Gaddafi himself. Although this is a controversial subject and is not authorised explicitly in the Security Council resolution, the resolution does authorise UN member states to “take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack”.

Given the centralised character of the Libyan regime, and the fact that no major attack against civilians is likely to be undertaken without Gaddafi’s explicit endorsement, taking “all necessary measures to protect civilians” could be interpreted under specific circumstances to include taking out Gaddafi himself.
Source: BBC Monitoring

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PHILIP GIRALDI :Neocon Foreign Policy

- 25. Mar, 2011

Prominent Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz demonstrates, the sole immutable principle of neocon foreign policy is that it should benefit Israel.

by Philip Giraldi /

One of the enduring mysteries is why neoconservative foreign policy continues to dominate the Republican Party and also large parts of the Democratic Party even though that policy has been disastrous for the United States.  No one – not even Secretary of Defense Robert Gates – is willing to call the two land wars currently underway in Asia successful and the hemorrhage of more than $12 billion a month to support the conflicts does nothing whatsoever for a struggling US economy unless one is a defense contractor.  Yet the view that the United States must use its waning power to remake much of the globe prevails.  The policy is in some circles underwritten by the myth that the United States is a special nation that makes it somehow immune to the history of the decline and fall of past empires.  The catch phrase “American exceptionalism” persists in the minds of presidential wannabes like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, both of whom conflate the country’s genuinely unique national qualities with a divine right to intervene militarily anywhere and at any time, a continuation in perpetuity of the nearly forgotten Bush Doctrine.

The neocon wordspinners are always ready with a glib turn of phrase to mask reality.  America is not poised to intervene or invade in their minds.  It is instead pursuing a “freedom agenda” and who can criticize freedom?  Tunisia, Egypt, and now even Libya are being welcomed as democracies in the making, though with the usual caveats lest democracy proceed too fast and in the wrong direction.  Hillary Clinton has made it clear that the Obama administration wants to see the proper kind of democratic development even as she privately moves to reassure remaining friendly despots in the Persian Gulf that the United States is not eager to embrace any more regime changes after Gaddafi goes.

As the situation in the Middle East stabilizes, the new enemy that is surfacing is the same old enemy: Iran.  Iran has not helped its own case by cracking down hard on protesters at a time when the region might be moving towards what amounts to a populist revolt against authoritarian governments.  But Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen have also opted for the iron fist, indicating that at least some rulers in the region will not hesitate to shoot their own subjects in order to survive.  Iran is, of course, a special case in the neocon mind because it potentially poses a threat to Israel, which is not the case in Manama, Riyadh, and Sanaa.
Republican presidential hopefuls have been making the rounds to polish their foreign policy credentials and there is no promise of peace in our times.  Mike Huckabee, Haley Barbour, and Mitt Romney were all recently in Israel where they pledged undying affection for Bibi Netanyahu and all his political progeny while Sarah Palin is doing the same this week.  Comments about facing down the Iranian nuclear threat are obligatory. Netanyahu himself recently upped the ante regarding Iran by declaring that military action will have to be taken against the country if sanctions do not end its nuclear program.  As sanctions are unlikely to accomplish that, it amounted to a demand that war should be the next phase.  Netanyahu even expressed a preference for who should do the attacking:  the United States.  He also stated his belief that Iran has enough nuclear material to make three bombs and expressed concern that Tehran is seeking to assume control over the oil fields in Saudi Arabia through a takeover of Bahrain, which has a Shi’ite majority.
So, per the Israeli government, Iran is not only seeking a nuclear weapon, it is also out to take control of a large chunk of the world’s oil supplies.  Of course, both assumptions could be challenged and there is considerable evidence, including the most recent US National Intelligence Estimate or NIE on Iran, that indicates that there continues to be no solid evidence that Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapon and is in no position economically or militarily to establish any kind of dominance over the Persian Gulf region.  But the problem is that the narrative being promoted by the mainstream media emphasizes the threat posed by Iran and does not attempt to provide information to the contrary so the American public unfortunately believes what it hears and sees.

Prominent Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz even outdoes Israel’s prime minister in his assessment of the Iranian threat on a recent Huffington Post submission “Israel Has the Right to Attack Iran’s Nuclear Reactors Now.”  Iran’s alleged attempt to ship weapons “designed to kill Israeli civilians” to Hamas in Gaza is, for Dershowitz, an act of war justifying an armed Israeli response.  Dershowitz also claims, without citing any evidence whatsoever, that Iran might deliberately develop a dirty nuclear weapon that could be sent on a ship into Israeli waters and detonated.  He also cites the recent killing of an Israeli settler family in the illegal settlement of Itamar as evidence of how “weapons are used by Israel’s enemies against civilians in violation of the laws of war.”  He describes the Iranian regime as suicidal, willing to suffer great damage if it is able to enter into a nuclear exchange with Israel that it knows it will survive and Israel will not.  Dershowitz admittedly is completely shameless and will either invent or use any argument no matter how weak to justify any action taken by the Israelis, but as he is advocating military action that would inevitably draw the United States into yet another war, someone should perhaps challenge his scatterbrained assumptions about reasonable grounds for initiating a conflict.

As Dershowitz demonstrates, the sole immutable principle of neocon foreign policy is that it should benefit Israel. 

Neoconservatives initially supported Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak because of his peace agreement with Tel Aviv, but they have now shifted away from that position and are urging the Obama Administration to liberate the Arabs.  They have been pressuring the White House to adopt a more aggressive policy in general, particularly vis-à-vis Libya.  They have generally viewed the Libyan situation as mechanism to revive their agenda to remake the Middle East following the model of the Bush “freedom agenda,” which combined the threat of military force with gentler forms of persuasion.  A successful armed intervention in Libya would vindicate the military option and could mean that using force will definitely be on the table for settling other disputes, including the long simmering problem posed by Iran.   President Obama has been understandably reluctant to get on board, but he finally agreed to take the initiative knowing that a successful Libyan action would be attractive, casting him as a successful wartime president and taking the heat off his own misadventures in Afghanistan.  But it would also put him under pressure from the blue dogs in his own party who join with the Republicans in demanding a more robust foreign policy across the board, which would include seriously threatening Iran.

There is also a seldom remarked upon secondary agenda for the neoconservatives as related to freedom for the Arab world.  As in the case of Iraq, many neocons would prefer to see democratic Arab nations that are divided by internal divisions and therefore not strong enough to challenge Israel rather than headed by dictators like Saddam Hussein who are hostile.  Developments in Eastern Europe over the past twenty years have revealed clearly that democracy does not necessarily bring with it unity of purpose or political cohesion, quite the contrary.  Small, weak, divided Arab states encumbered by a number of squabbling political parties work well for Israel and for its neocon friends.

Needless to say, the dominant neocon crafted foreign policy that still drives the Republican Party and that is all too popular elsewhere in Washington should be challenged by every American who believes more armed conflict in the Middle East could bring disaster.  What did not work in 2003 in Iraq will not work in 2011 in Iran and if there are no demands for change there will be another war, one that could easily have catastrophic consequences.  Using military force as the first option to change governments that Washington disapproves of is a concept that must be addressed directly and discredited.  If the notion persists that one more war can be fought and might have a good result, it could be the final straw that breaks the back of the American experiment in republican government.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer, is the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest. His “Deep Background” column appears every month exclusively in The American Conservative.
Read more
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Jordanians Want PM’s Resignation or Sacking

Jordan's opposition, leftists and trade unions on Saturday demanded the ouster of Prime Minister Maaruf Bakhit, who they blame for violence that has killed one person and injured 130, in a protest one day earlier.

"The opposition demands the resignation or the sacking of the government and the formation a national unity and reformist government that would win the people's trust and protect their lives," Hamzah Mansur, chief of the powerful Islamic Action Front (IAF), said. "Any government that kills citizens loses legitimacy," he told a news conference.

Mansur accused the government of crimes against humanity. "The government of Maaruf Bakhit has given proof that it does not believe in the reforms, it is a government with blood on its hands which today has committed crimes against humanity," he said.

Youth movements backed the call. "We demand the prime minister and intelligence chief (Mohammed Raqqad) quit," Firas Mahadin of the March 24 youth group told reporters. "We have reached a point of no return."

The rift between Jordan's government and the opposition widened after the prime minister on Friday accused the main opposition movement of spreading chaos following the martyrdom of a protester, the first in the kingdom. "Stop playing with fire... stop hiding your real intentions," Prime Minister Bakhit told the opposition in an address broadcast on Jordanian television. "We have invited the Muslim Brotherhood for talks, away from protests and demonstrations, but apparently they have an agenda to create chaos in the country," Bakhit said.

Brotherhood spokesman Jamil Abu Bakr said "by accusing the Muslim Brotherhood, the government is trying to escape its responsibilities" proving his calls for reform and freedom were false.

The IAF is the main opposition party and political branch of the Brotherhood which found protection in Jordan in the 1950s and 1980s when they were persecuted in Egypt and Syria.

Adopting an unusually strident tone, Bakhit accused the Brotherhood of "taking orders from the Muslim brothers in Egypt and Syria," adding their refusal to dialogue signaled they chose "chaos" for the country.

The opposition group rejected, however, his accusations. "We always hear such lies from time to time. We are leaders and we have the right to consult with our brothers in Damascus about the Palestinian cause," Brotherhood leader Hammam Said told reporters. "We do not take orders or instructions from anybody."

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Post Mubarak change in Egypt

Egyptian airline no longer features the Zionist
state among its flight destinations.


- 25. Mar, 2011

Egypt Air deletes Israel from its destination list

Egypt Air – the official Egyptian airline – has deleted Israel from its travel destinations. The airline’s website no longer features the Zionist state among its flight options.

According to the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, “Israeli travellers intending to fly to Ben-Gurion Airport in Lod did not find ‘Israel’ among the Egyptian airline’s destinations while the capitals Amman, Beirut and Damascus appeared on the map; this is despite Egypt’s proximity to Israel.”

The newspaper pointed out that Egypt Air was the first major airline to remove Israel from its map of travel destinations and that both Turkish Airlines and Royal Jordanian Airways continue to maintain flights to the country. Until recently, Egypt Air scheduled four flights weekly between Cairo and Lod airport.

Air travel between Egypt and Israel was suspended temporarily following the Egyptian Revolution which broke out in January. Last year, 2010, saw a 27% increase in the volume of flights between the two states over the previous year.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Dr. Nabil El Arabi,
praised the bilateral relations and brotherhood
between the Egyptian people and the Palestinians.

Egypt tells Gaza that lifting the siege is a priority

The Egyptian Foreign Minister has told the Palestinians that lifting the Israeli-imposed siege of Gaza – supported by the discredited Mubarak regime – is a priority for the new government in Cairo.

Dr. Nabil El Arabi sent a message to his counterpart in Gaza which was discussed at Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s cabinet meeting on 21 March. The Foreign Minister praised the bilateral relations and brotherhood between the Egyptian people and the Palestinians. “The Egyptian government’s priority is the issue of the Israeli siege on Gaza,” he stressed. “We are acting to open the border at Rafah and facilitate an easing of life for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Planning in Gaza released a statement confirming that it has been in touch with the Egyptian authorities regarding the issue of Palestinians returning from Libya. Joint efforts by Gaza and Cairo have resulted in stranded Palestinians being able to pass through the Rafah border crossing.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry also confirmed that it has sent a letter of condolence to the Japanese government: “The Palestinian people are standing by the Japanese people during their ordeal,” it said.

Source: Middle East Monitor
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PAUL BALLES : Israel, right or wrong

Richard Cohen
Washington Post Columnist
March 25, 2011 posted by Paul J. Balles ·

A staunch defender of anything Israel does, the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen feeds Jewish paranoia, distorts Palestinian history and attacks Israel’s critics.
by Paul J Balles
“If I were an Israeli, I’d be worried. If I were an Arab, I’d be insulted. If I were a critic only of Israel, I’d be ashamed.”
Thus concluded Richard Cohen in the Washington Post (Monday, February 28, 2011)

What Cohen would be worried about is what he perceives as anti-Semitismin the Arab world, fuelled in WWII by the Muslim cleric Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem.

According to Cohen, al-Husseini “the titular leader of Muslim Palestinians, broadcast Nazi propaganda to the Middle East, recruited European Muslims for the SS, exulted in the Holocaust and after the war went on to represent his people in the Arab League.”

Cohen not only faults Arabs for their support of al-Husseini, but for Cohen’s conclusion that “The Arab world is saturated by Jew-hatred.”

This is a propaganda line that serves no other purpose but to instil fear in Jews everywhere.

Voices like Cohen’s–and there are many–have a much greater impact on Israelis and their worldwide supporters than any biased statements made by a single Muslim cleric.
But then Zionists in America feed their own paranoia by deceiving themselves and distorting reality in their image twisting house of mirrors.
Cohen says “If I were an Arab I’d be insulted.”

To Cohen, an Arab should be insulted by al-Husseini seeking support from the Axis of Germany and Italy prior to WW II.

In 1941, al-Husseini sought a public declaration of support from the Axis nations for: 1) Arab independence from British and French rule; 2) the freedom for the independent Arab nations to unite in some form; 3) and for the elimination of the proposed Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Why should those goals give cause for anyone except an Israeli to suggest that Arabs should be insulted?
Instead of putting al-Husseini’s mission to save Palestine for the Palestinians into proper perspective, Cohen attempts to distort history.

Al-Husseini also sought military and financial assistance for an Arab uprising that he promised he could unleash, though only in conjunction with the Axis declaration.

Finally, Cohen crows “If I were a critic only of Israel I’d be ashamed.”

If American supporters of Israel were more critical of Israel when Israel deserves it, there would be little call to complain of the crimes committed by Israelis.
Israel stands in constant denial of any wrong-doing, whether the wrong happens to be killing by the Stern Gang, apartheid treatment of Palestinians, murders in Gaza or illegal Jewish settlements.
If the rest of the world attempts to pass a resolution finding Israel guilty of wrong-doing, the US, under Zionist control, vetoes it. This has happened 36 times in the past four decades.

Jews who criticize anything that Israel does, no matter how horrendous, have been dubbed “self-hating Jews”.

Major U.S. Jewish organizations, from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations are committed to defending Israel whether right or wrong.

“Any time you engage in an activity critical of Israel you are trying to destroy the state of Israel,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, said.

Israel isn’t even able to accept criticism by Zionist Jews. Judge Goldstone is a case in point. He was severely faulted for identifying wrongdoing by Israel in Gaza even though his investigation was thorough and fair.
While Israel continues with apartheid practices, illegal settlements, and attempts to get the US to bomb Iran, its blind supporters promote anti-Semitism.

It’s time for reflection and self-criticism. Thinking like Richard Cohen’s only increases fear by Jews and disdain by others.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. He’s a weekly Op-Ed columnist for the GULF DAILY NEWS . Dr. Balles is also Editorial Consultant for Red House Marketing and a regular contributor to Bahrain This Month.Read Full Bio

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Palestinian hospitalized after health deteriorates in PA custody

[ 26/03/2011 - 03:06 PM ]

RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- Moatasim al-Natsheh, 25, has been hospitalized after his health deteriorated while held by the Palestinian Authority in the Jericho prison in Ramallah.

He had been held in solitary confinement since September 2010 when his father and brothers were arrested among 1,400 other Hamas supporters targeted by PA intelligence in a West Bank arrest campaign.

He is brother to Maamoun al-Natsheh, a Qassam Brigades fighter who was killed in a resistance attack.

The PA intelligence agency intends to prosecute Moatasim and several more of Hamas's men detained in Jericho next Sunday.

Separately, the PA security services arrested at least eight Hamas supporters on Friday following the Jerusalem bombing that left one woman dead and around 19 injured.

Four of those men were from the Islamic Jihad Movement in Al-Khalil district and have all been identified as ex-prisoners in Israeli jails.

Another one of those detained was a mosque preacher who condemned politically motivated arrests sweeping the West Bank and who blamed Fatah's refusal to accept election results as the reason for the current Palestinian split during Friday's sermon.

The same day, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided several homes in Tulkarem and gave summonses to several Hamas supporters previously held by the PA security militias in order to be questioned by Israeli intelligence.

In Dura near Al-Khalil, the IOF arrested Qusai Nasasira just one week after he was released after serving six months in PA detention.

They arrested another Bethlehem man 50 days after he was released by PA intelligence.

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WINEP: "So, at a minimum, these protests are cracking the Sunni veneer around the regime..."

Via friday-Lunch-Club

"... Escalating protests could weaken the Asad regime's stability, though raging protests may not bring it down altogether. Unlike in Egypt and Tunisia, where the militaries have some degree of independence from the regime, the minority networks around the Asad regime overlap between the military and the security bodies. A number of Syrian military officers hail from the Houran region, which could threaten Sunni representation in the military. But the fear by Alawites and other minorities that a fall of the Asad regime would lead to a massacre by vengeful Sunnis could protect the Asad regime from military defections that were necessary to ending regime rule in Tunisia and Egypt.
The unrest has deep implications for U.S. policy. The Obama administration has based its Syria policy on facilitating peace talks between Syria and Israel. A major cog in that premise was that a large part of Asad's legitimacy rested on his piecemeal effort to "reform" Syria. This week's protests have called that legitimacy into serious question. The question now remains as to how -- or whether -- a minority leader with a narrowing domestic base and severely compromised domestic legitimacy rooted in a proven inability to launch real reforms will be able to abandon Syria's state of war with Israel.
Over the last two years, the Obama administration has kept U.S. sanctions on Syria in place, but has not introduced new "negative incentives" or pressures to cajole Asad into changing his policies. The hope behind this position has been that peace talks between Syria and Israel were imminent. So far, those efforts, however sincere, have not borne fruit. While attempts to focus on the Syria track should not be abandoned, the time has come for Washington to develop a hybrid policy in two senses: first, by denouncing human rights abuses in Syria as well as promoting the peace process, and second, by introducing negative incentives into the mix of engaging Syria. More than anything, this week's protests show that Asad only truly changes tack when he is under pressure and facing dilemmas.
.... Washington's best means to pressure Damascus are U.S. sanctions , specifically Treasury department designations of regime members found responsible for human rights abuses during the regime's crackdown. It should also work with Western allies and Turkey to pressure Asad diplomatically to institute domestic reforms with clear benchmarks and timetables as a peaceful path out of the crisis. By holding the Asad regime accountable for its commitments, Washington has the best hope for influencing Asad's domestic policies for the better, avoiding further bloodshed, and fostering a real peace between Syria and Israel...."
Posted by G, Z, or B at 7:25 PM

Syria: 'Do not squander the Golden opportunity!'

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Ten tons of cement await entry into Gaza Strip on Egypt’s Rafah border crossing

March 25, 2011 posted by Adam Morrow ·
RAFAH (Mar. 25) – On Thursday afternoon, a flatbed truck bearing ten tons of cement arrived at Egypt’s Rafah border crossing en route to the besieged Gaza Strip. The shipment, which was accompanied by a 15-member delegation from the Egyptian-International Coalition for Lifting the Siege and Rebuilding Gaza, is now awaiting written permission from the relevant authorities to enter the coastal enclave.

“Since the border is officially closed on Fridays and Saturdays, we’re hoping to get permission to bring the cement into Gaza on Sunday morning,” said coalition coordinator Ahmed Elassy. “Based on our positive experiences with the Egyptian Armed Forces and intelligence services in the past, along with the warm assistance we’ve received from the office of Egypt’s new foreign minister, HE Dr. Nabil al-Arabi, we’re confident that this consignment of cement will arrive to the strip as planned.”

Members of the delegation, which consists of concerned Egyptian citizens and foreign nationals, set out from Cairo at 8AM. They arrived at the Rafah crossing at approximately 2:00PM after rendezvousing with the cement-laden truck in the city of Al-Arish, some 55 kilometers west of Rafah.

The initiative comes following the successful outcome of the coalition’s earlier March 6 campaign, when it entered the strip via Rafah with a single, symbolic 50kg bag of cement. That campaign represented the first formal entry of building supplies into the Gaza Strip since the siege of the territory first went into effect in 2006 and the first humanitarian aid delegation to enter the strip since Egypt’s January 25 Revolution.
The current campaign, however, is not a humanitarian aid convoy, but a commercial transaction, as all the cement involved was paid for in advance by the Arab-International Committee for Building Gaza.

“We’re not interested in charity or handouts,” Kanan Obaid, chairman of Gaza’s Engineers Syndicate, told delegation members during the coalition’s previous March 6 visit to the strip. “We don’t want to be consumers, we want to be producers. But in order to do this, we need raw materials — especially cement.”
The Gaza Strip remains in desperate need of construction. Along with killing more than 1500 people, the three-week-long Zionist assault on the territory in 2008/2009 destroyed some 5000 residential units and partially destroyed another 50,000. An estimated 95 percent of the strip’s factories and workshops, meanwhile, remain closed until today as a direct result of the illegal blockade on the territory.

Gaza’s need for reconstruction was highlighted again this week by a series of attacks by the Zionist state targeting several districts of the besieged coastal enclave. According to coalition members camped out on the border, the artillery barrages were easily heard from Rafah.

“The dire circumstances under which the people of Gaza are living has only served to steel our resolve,” said Elassy. “We plan to stay at the border as long as it takes until this consignment of cement is allowed across the border.”

“Most of us participated in the recent January 25 Revolution, which led to the ouster of the longstanding Mubarak regime,” said coalition member Mohamed Mahmoud Aweida. “From that experience, we’ve learned how to exercise patience to achieve our objectives.”


Special UNHR Watchdog for Iran

Posted on March 25, 2011 by rehmat1|

Yesterday, Washington finally succeeded in diverting world’s attention from Israel’s human rights violations by blackmailing (US pays 22% of the UN’s annual budget of $1.18 billion) the 47-members UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to appoint a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights for Iran. Professor Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights for the Palestinian Territories has been a thorn for both Tel Aviv and Washington.

The proposal championed by the United States and Sweden won approval in a 22-7 vote at the council. As many as 14 nations abstained, and four of the council’s 47 nations did not participate.

Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, the US representative at the council, told members before the voting that the U.S. and other countries “are gravely concerned about the situation in Iran, where respect for fundamental human rights has deteriorated dramatically in recent years.”

Iran’s UN mission disagreed, saying that the United States has committed human rights abuses against Palestinians by supporting Israel, against Afghan civilians and against secretly held detainees who also have been tortured.

This politicizes the process,” said Pakistan’s UN Ambassador Zamir Akram, speaking for the Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which represents 57 Muslim nations. “As a matter of principle, Pakistan does not support country mandates,” he said. “No country in the world can claim to have an unblemished human rights record.”

Geneva-based HRC is in the final week of a month-long session in which it will adopt up to six resolutions condemning Israel. The Cuba-born Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee (Irving Moskowitz, a funder of illegal Jewish settlements in West Bank and East Jerusalem – was her major election campaign contributor) has asked Obama to withdraw from the HRC and “explore credible, alternative forums to advance human rights.”

The UNHRC was established in 2006 to replace the 60-year-old Human Rights Commission. The US joined the body in 2009 when NewZealand withdrew in its favor.

In March 2009 – The council adopted a resolution sponsored by Pakistan and other Islamic states that condemned the “defamation of religion” as a violation of human rights, arguing that abuses against Muslims have mounted in the years following the 911 terror attacks. But European states criticized the Islamic resolution, saying it posed a threat to the right of free speech. Interestingly, many of these European states have laws which say: “Deny the Holocaust and go to prison“.

I suppose Israel-Firster and a major cheerleader for the US-led war on Iraq in 2003,  John Bolton, former US ambassador at UN – could be the best Special Rapporteur on Iran to counter Dr. Richard Falk’s (with a Jewish family background) criticism of Israel’s human rights violations. John Bolton, whose mother was Jewish – showed his paranoid nature about Islamic Iran during his speech at CPAC meeting in 2009.

“The fact is on foreign policy I don’t think President Obama thinks it’s a priority,” said Bolton. “He said during the campaign he thought Iran was a tiny threat. Tiny, tiny depending on how many nuclear weapons they are ultimately able to deliver on target. Its, uh, its tiny compared to the Soviet Union, but is the loss of one American city” – here Bolton changes his tone subtly to prepare for the joke – “pick one at random – Chicago – is that a tiny threat?”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Israel deploys air defense system 'Iron Dome' near Gaza to stop "Useless"

[ 26/03/2011 - 09:13 AM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Israeli army is to deploy the mobile air defense system the "Iron Dome" in areas adjacent to the Gaza Strip on Sunday, a Hebrew press report said.
Yediot Ahronot said the deployment of the system to start on Sunday was in anticipation of further deterioration of the conditions on the "Gaza front" as calls are escalating for launching a large scale offensive against the besieged coastal enclave.

Two of the Iron Dome's systems would be initially deployed, the paper said, noting that it would not be practically operational for months.

However, heads of local councils surrounding Gaza doubted the Iron Dome's ability to ward off the danger of rockets fired from the Strip as it would not cover all those areas in the first stage.

The army announced that the Iron Dome, which is designed to intercept very short-range rockets up to 70 kilometers in all-weather situations, would not be able to cover and protect all settlements surrounding the Strip.

In case you missed it: "Veteran" SAMI JADALLAH: 

"why would any one fire a ‘rocket” when this rocket is useless as those who manufacturer it and those who fires it?"

Another Palestinian Idiot smeared hamas for using useless "Mickey Mouse rocket"
and Mickey Mouse "Resistance" He spent years shaking the shit bag over his head  after hearing "Hamas declaring that it would stop an Israeli invasion of Gaza,"

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

14 arrested, several injured during West Bank protests

[ 26/03/2011 - 08:00 AM ]

WEST BANK, (PIC)-- Fourteen Palestinians have been arrested and several injured as Israeli occupation forces (IOF) cracked down on protests across the West Bank on Friday.

The IOF fired stun grenades and rubber bullets and sprayed waste water mixed with chemicals to suppress the weekly Bil'in march in Ramallah city.

Three Palestinians were left injured, and dozens suffered from the effects of breathing tear gas.

Three more Palestinians were injured, dozens sustained breathing difficulties and 14 were arrested, most of them foreign activists when the IOF suppressed a weekly march in Nabi Saleh village near Ramallah.

The soldiers assaulted and pepper-sprayed the activists, blocked the village entrance, enforced a security cordon and occupied several homes and facilities, turning them into military barracks.

In separate incidents, the IOF intercepted a weekly march in the village of Al-Ma'sara near Bethlehem as protesters progressed towards the separation wall.

Meanwhile in the East Jerusalem district of Silwan, dozens of Palestinians, including senior citizens, choked as Israeli soldiers fired toxic gas and tear gas.

Clashes erupted after Friday prayers in the Al-Bustan neighborhood and quickly spread to most communities across Silwan as Palestinians fought back with stones and Molotov cocktails without report of arrest.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

ICG: "Bashar Assad has accumulated significant political capital, & many Syrians are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt

Rights group: Syria frees more than 260 political detainees

Via Friday-Lunch-Club

"... A window of opportunity still exists to change these dynamics, although it is fast closing. Unlike most of his peers in the region, President Bashar Assad has accumulated significant political capital, and many Syrians are willing, for now, to give him the benefit of the doubt. In fact, a broad range of citizens – including members of the security apparatus – are desperately waiting for him to take the lead and to propose, before it is too late, an alternative to spiraling confrontation. Although he has held numerous consultations and sent some signals of impending reform through the foreign media and other officials, he has yet to assume clear and palpable leadership.
Instead, faced with an unprecedented, multi-faceted, fast-paced and critical challenge, the power apparatus at best is implementing chaotic steps that convey a sense of confusion, at worst is reacting according to well-ingrained habits. Left to its own devices, it will send precisely the wrong messages to a population that will not wait much longer for the regime to get its act together and to put forward a comprehensive and credible vision. At this point, only one thing can change swiftly, dramatically and effectively for the better, and that is the president’s own attitude.
President Assad must show visible leadership and do so now. His political capital today depends less on his past foreign policy successes than on his ability to live up to popular expectations at a time of dangerous domestic crisis..... This should include several steps:
The President should speak openly and directly to his people, recognise the challenges described above, stress the unacceptable and counterproductive nature of repression, offer condolences to the families of victims,....
He should announce the following, immediate measures: release of all political prisoners; lifting of the emergency law;....
Upcoming parliamentary elections should be postponed pending a referendum on sweeping constitutional amendments which should be discussed with a wide and inclusive range of Syrians. Deeper change requires broad consultation and cannot be arbitrarily implemented.
Many within the regime argue against such a radical course of action. Their points might appear logical, but none should carry the day:
The regime has never responded to pressure, and this time-honoured principle has always served it well over the years, particularly in times of crisis. While this might have been true in the past, the current situation involves an entirely different and unprecedented kind of pressure, one that is relentless and grounded in deep-seated popular feelings. If resisted, it will only swell. This is not a time for business as usual or for standing still when all around is moving....
People do not know what they really want and express endless demands, some of which are unacceptable.
Again, this likely is true and, after years of suppression, wide-ranging aspirations cannot but be expressed. But the lack of a clear popular vision for orderly change offers the president the chance to convince citizens of the merits of his own.
The regime’s enemies are stirring things up and must be subdued before they do more damage.
In reality, none of the regime’s enemies possess enough support or influence in Syria to mount a critical threat. At best, they can try to make use of broad popular anger and steer it to their advantage. But by focusing on “enemies”, the regime is giving them more space while deepening popular discontent. 
There is, in short, reason to question whether a dramatic approach will prevail. But it is the only realistic way to avoid a perilous confrontation.
After decades of colonialism followed by authoritarian rule, the Middle East and North Africa are facing a new phenomenon: a demand for governments based on popular legitimacy. Rulers in Syria or elsewhere can pass this test of leadership, or they can fail it. Bashar Assad has important assets; he retains significant political capital measured by regional standards, and it is high time that he spends it.
As each day goes by, repression will both dissipate that capital and increase popular demands, making constructive action all the more difficult. Hunkering down and waiting for the storm to pass may have served the regime well in days past. But now, it must fight against those instincts if it wants to preserve the possibility of a peaceful outcome."

Time for Nassrallah and Obama to talk?

“Just maybe!” hints the latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)

"We in Hezbollah know when to hold em and when to fold em"
Franklin Lamb - Beirut

An experienced Washington Post columnist, David Ignatius, to his credit not among the most biased Israeli Hasbara spewers from  the Zionist daily, dropped by our Hezbollah neighborhood known as Dahiyeh the other day. During a hour meeting with Hezbollah Foreign Relations Officer Ammar Mousawi and his brilliant assistant, and friend to many Americans,  English Literature scholar Hussein Haider, the WP  reporter  came away apparently impressed with the quality of the discussion with the Lebanese political party that Israeli President Shimon Peres claims “is now Lebanon!”   Visiting Westerners are regularly surprised to learn firsthand that Hezbollah, the new majority party in Lebanon whose imprimatur will be stamped on all major Lebanese government decisions, including, enshallah (God willing), without any more nonsense, the internationally mandated civil right to work and to own a home for Lebanon’s quarter million Palestinian refugees, bears no resemblance to the past quarter century of Zionist Fox News- US Main Stream Media portrayal.
David Ignatius,
Washington Post columnist
But then, western epiphanies in Dahiyeh are old news.


Like many observers of Lebanon’s new majority, Ignatius apparently wondered about the possibility of some sort of high level direct dialogue between Hezbollah and the Obama administration given the continuing US skid and waning influence in the region and the dramatic rise of Hezbollah and its allies against the backdrop of the Islamic-Arab Awakening that may be in just its early stages. So, as seems to happen every couple of years recently, an alert journalist makes contact with the US Intelligence Community and grist is offered for an intriguing column that the US might anoint for dialogue  the ”political wing” of Hezbollah as distinct from the “military wing” since the Party does not act much like  a “terrorist organization” should.
The “separate wings” concept is a fiction of course as there is no totally separate political-military command division within Hezbollah. There are many departments and units that do specialized work on health care, education, urban and environmental planning, post war reconstruction and fourteen other social service focused tasks. Specialized units keep an eye on the blue line and prepare to confront Israeli aggression against Lebanon.  The party is generally unified in its decision making following sometimes freewheeling  “best expert argument wins” debates as part of its almost Leninist ‘democratic centralism’ model with the buck stopping with the 7 member Shura or Executive Council. The Secretary-General, Hassan Nasrallah has significant power but he acts for and answers to the Shura and lacks the typical absolute authority of collapsing Arab despots.

The “good wing-bad wing” pretense is favored by some in the US Intelligence Community as it allows political cover for desired engagement much as was the case for other ‘terrorist’ groups such as the PLO, the ANC and the IRA. For that reason John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser recently discussed the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Hezbollah that is nearing completion, with ‘draft ideas’ being circulated to key Members of Congress and AIPAC.

According to Congressional sources, the White House, has zero interest in attacking Iran and believes that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah is someone the US “can do business with.”  Given Nasrallah’s admirers in Tehran, and his mass popular appeal in this region, some of the NIE drafters and White House staffers think Nasrallah could help with at least some US-Iranian antagonisms.

As Israel and its Arab collaborators quake  as Iran ascends in the region, the future determinate of Middle East Peace will be US Iranian relations”, according to a US Senate Intelligence Committee staffer, who added: “Many in Washington think we can work with Iran and Nasrallah could perhaps help both of us immeasurably.”
The same source opined that the White House appears split down the middle whether to seek direct contact with Hezbollah with some close Obama aides arguing that times are changing in the Middle East and maybe US policy should too following a decade of trillion dollar a year wars with nothing but carnage and US economy ruining deficits to show for them.  Obama aids are said to favor a regional approach that has already led to two U.S.-sponsored meetings on Afghanistan that included Iranian representatives – one in Rome last year and one in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on 3/3/11.

Opposed to this view is the Foreign Policy establishment which, committed to Israel, does not care much who is president as they always stay in power and exist in the form of the Council on Foreign Relations and other non-elected, self-appointed and  auto-replenished guardians of American foreign policy.  Their view, expressed this week by Tommy Vietor, the National Security Council spokesman, is still mired in:  “on the political level, there can be no dialogue with Hezbollah because it is a terrorist organization creating instability in the Middle East.”

Dialogue with political adversaries is a well-known hallmark of Hezbollah and some have suggested that Hassan Nasrralah and Barack Obama might have a fascinating private tete a tete given many shared life experiences and outlooks including work as community organizers, inclusive outreach advocates, multiculturalists, bright and broad minded progressive thinkers not much attracted to acceptance of stereotyping or political shibboleths.

Truth claimed, Congressional sources report that Obama, and his friend US Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerrey (D-Mass.) are fascinated with Nassrallah.  On the other hand, having been publically humiliated three times by Israel’s Netanyahu, Obama reportedly finds the latter intransigent, lacking any interest in a just peace in Palestine and fixated only in building illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land. At the same time finding Netanyahu personally obnoxious.  Nasrallah might agree.
Some of the 16 Intelligence Agencies that comprise the US Intelligence Community are discussing the prospects, in the context of the expanding Middle East uprising,  that the single obstacle to normalizing relations between the US and the Middle East, the continued occupation
of Palestine by the 19th Century Zionist Colonial Enterprise, may be resolved, perhaps sooner than later. Some Israeli leaders reportedly concede privately that with the rising youth fuelled rebellions toppling US-Israeli backed despots the freedom tsunami might not ebb until Palestine is restored.


There remains some heavy baggage around potential “let bygones be bygones” discussion between Dahiyeh and Washington.  During its 29 year history Hezbollah has had multiple indirect contacts with US administrations via Lebanese politicians, PLO figures, and European diplomats and even today, with Western countries queuing for dialogue with Hezbollah, understanding  mutual US-Lebanese resistance problems is no mystery.  The issues are clear.
While conceding that White House-Dahiyeh talks, based on mutual respect, could be historic, nevertheless neighborhood contacts suggest that there is a de facto condition precedent to meaningful dialogue.  It includes a political ceasefire from Washington.

Since the 1992 Lebanese elections when Hezbollah decided to participate in governing Lebanon, but even before, the American administration has waged with Israel, a continual campaign against the Lebanese resistance for one reason.  Hezbollah’s opposition to the theft of Palestine and the movements pledge to help return Palestine to its rightful inhabitants.

The same pledge millions of American and Western human rights advocates have taken and continue to pursue with increased solidarity during this Arab Spring.
Hezbollah has been incessantly targeted by Washington accusing it, without proof of “terrorism” and sometimes, even conceding US errors such as the admitted March 8, 1985 CIA ordered assassination of the erroneously identified “Hezbollah leader”, the late humanist, Mohammad Hussein Fadallah.  Grand Ayatollah Fadlallah escaped death, but more than 60 Lebanese civilians were slaughtered and more than 250 wounded outside his Hussayneyeh  
(Mosque) near my current home.
After more than half the past decade of launching various anti-Hezbollah schemes, the Jeffrey Feltman team has made clear that its pressure on Lebanon’s new majority is just getting started. Analyst’s across the political spectrum in Lebanon claim they have never witnessed  such intense sectarian strife and vitriol as has been unleashed since the collapsed of the pro-US  March 14 government last January.  
Last week the US Treasury Departments reminded Lebanon of its skill at interfering with international banking and sent a warning that Lebanon’s banks were “on limits for scrutiny.” It hinted that a run on the banks from Gulf money could be expected.  Among those it seeks to intimidate is Lebanon’s richest businessman, Nijab Miqati who Hezbollah helped choose  for Prime Minister. Washington claims that some Lebanese banks laundry money for Hezbollah and allow Iran to avoid US sanctions while helping to fund the Resistance.  Current US Ambassador Maury Connelly told the media that the US actions “were part of the U.S. Treasury's global effort, under Section 311 of the Patriot Act to protect the U.S. financial sector from illicit activities. Lebanon's Central Bank Governor, Riad Salameh Central Bank fired back that Lebanon’s banks abide by all national and international regulations and that the US should offer proof otherwise if it has any.


The Feltman teams: “It’s us or Nasrallah-it’s the US or Iran running Lebanon!” attitude has been exposed yet again by the publication of a bundle of Wilklikeaks Beirut Embassy cables, this past week.
The diplomatic cables confirm is that the US Embassy functioned as a virtual Israeli operations center during the July 2006 war and has saturated Lebanon with more intelligence and political penetrations than perhaps any country in the region, except Iraq.
During the July 2006 war, US embassy staff, led by Feltman who functioned as a kind of ‘godfather’ for Hezbollah’s detractors, received countless pro-Israeli  consigliere as they executed plans how to best manage the war for Israel  while protecting their own business  and sectarian interests.

On the degree to which some Arab leaders, in this case Bahrain, and its  ambassador, Houda Ezra Nonoo,  are collaborating with Israel while publicly pledging brotherly support for the Arabs “ central cause”, Palestine, a recent report is instructive


Feltman, the cables make plain,  personally instructed Washington to tell Israel not to bomb bridges in what he derisively called “Maronistan areas” because that would weaken Christian support for Israel and affect logistics for US Embassy “staff” in Awkar.  Embassy Beirut apparently had no problem with Israel carpeting bombing  south Beirut, with American weapons, endangering  Shatila  and Burj al Barajneh Palestinian Camps around the  Bir Hassan  neighborhood which includes the ‘little Tehran’ neighborhood with Iranian media outlets and the Iranian Embassy.

 Five days after the July 2006 war was launched, Embassy cables to Washington which were immediately passed to Israel document: “The Ambassador asked Jumblatt what Israel should do to cause serious damage to Hezbollah. Jumblatt replied that Israel is still in the mindset of fighting classic battles with Arab armies. “You can’t win this kind of war with zero dead,” he said.
Jumblatt finally explained what he meant; Israel will have to invade southern Lebanon. Israel must be careful to avoid massacres, but it should clear Hezbollah out of southern Lebanon”. (July 17, 2006)


On August 5, Assistant Secretary David Welch and Ambassador Feltman met with a more than a dozen Christian leaders from the anti-Syria March 14 movement, The Embassy cable read: “While claiming to be fully supportive of Prime Minister Siniora’s call for a ceasefire, they are troubled that the current conflict might leave Hezbollah in a stronger position within Lebanon than at the beginning.

The Lebanese government will need to be in a position of strength to deal with Hezbollah once the conflict is over, the leaders argued. To this end, they would support a continuation of the Israeli bombing campaign for a week or two if this were to diminish seriously Hezbollah’s strength on the ground….Claiming to reflect PM Siniora’s private thoughts, several of the assembled leaders urged that Hezbollah be given a “real pounding” by the Israelis to the point that the group would be “soft enough to listen to reason.”

According to Boutros Harb, ( Ed: one of the anti-Palestinian Cabinet Ministers who prevented Palestinians from obtaining the internationally mandated Right to Work and Home Ownership on August 17, 2010)
if we are convinced that Israel can finish the job, then we can allow a few more weeks,”( Ed: of slaughter) though the consensus seemed to rest between seven to ten days.

If on the other hand Hezbollah were to emerge emboldened with a perceived sense of victory, “that would be a disaster.” (August 7, 2006)


Another leaked Embassy Beirut cable: “Asking that his comments be kept close-hold, Saad Hariri whispered that, “We need to remove Lahoud, (LAF commander Michel) Sleiman, and (Head of the G2 army intelligence) George Khoury. They are in bed with Syria. They are in bed with Hezbollah.” While Hariri hopes to eventually recruit Nabih Berri’s critical support to achieve this, he asked that international pressure on Iran and Syria continues unabated.” (August 12, 2006)


This close coordination with Israel during its July 2006 War on Lebanon which slaughtered more than 1,400 and wounded thousands, represented a rogue US government view of “noninterference in the internal affairs of Lebanon.” These strategy sessions, and a long list of other actions by some claiming to represent the American people in Lebanon has raised serious questions about the diplomatic status of Embassy Beirut and whether Embassy Beirut serves the American people or Israel. According to Lebanese Human Rights Ambassador Ali Khalil, “Israel has an Embassy in Lebanon representing its interests. The American people do not.”


Yet another serious allegation that the Feltman team corrupted the Special Tribunal of Lebanon has been leveled by As Safir a Lebanese daily in its 3/23/11 edition. According to its investigative report, the US sought to use the indictment of the STL to back Caretaker Premier Saad Hariri after his government was toppled by the Hezbollah-led alliance, and to bring Hariri back to power while sidelining Hezbollah.

The US plan was to have the STL issue the indictment after STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare filed an amended indictment earlier in the month for confirmation by pre-trial judge Danial Fransen. But developments in the Arab world, including the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's regime “thwarted the US plan to issue the indictment as a prelude to a change in the political balance of power in Lebanon with Feltman’s team concluding that the release of the indictment at this stage would have made it ineffective amid the ongoing Arab Awakening turmoil. Moreover, western diplomats informed March 14 officials that any STL indictment and Lebanon are currently at the bottom of their priority list, hinting that the release of the charges could be delayed for several months.

If true, this latest US action alone would destroy any remaining STL credibility as such a political corruption fundamentally violates UNSCR 1757.

Perhaps it is the above described US government campaign that is one of the reasons that Hezbollah contacts, in principle, genuinely interested in dialogue, feel the timing is not yet quite right.

Hassan Nassrallah, speaking on 3/19/11 to our neighborhood gathering in support of the Arab Spring Awakening, repeated Hezbollah’s position: “We will have something constructive to talk about and call for normalizing relations with the Americans once the US administration changes its policy on Palestine. We will reevaluate our stance on the United States' policies when it changes its stance on Palestine." 
One neighbor, a fan of Kenny Rodgers as Jeffrey Feltman is said to be, put it this way to me:  “We in Hezbollah know when to hold em and when to fold em. For now Hezbollah best hold our cards.  There will be time enough for talking when the dealings done.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and can be reached c/o