Saturday, 18 August 2012

"Washington puts its money on proxy war"

"...A more recent proxy failure occurred in Iraq. For years after the 2003 invasion, American policymakers uttered a standard mantra: "As Iraqis stand up, we will stand down". Last year, those Iraqis basically walked off.   
Between 2003 and 2011, the United States pumped tens of billions of dollars into "reconstructing" the country with around $20bn of it going to build the Iraqi security forces. This mega-force of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and police was created from scratch to prop up the successors to the government that the United States overthrew. It was trained by and fought with the Americans and their coalition partners, but that all came to an end in December 2011. 
Despite the Obama administration's efforts to base thousands or tens of thousands of troops in Iraq for years to come, the Iraqi government spurned Washington's overtures and sent the US military packing.  
Today, the Iraqi government supports the Assad regime in Syria, and has a warm and increasingly close relationship with long-time US enemy Iran. According to Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency, the two countries have even discussed expanding their military ties... 
Africa may, at present, be the prime location for the development of proxy warfare, American-style, but it's hardly the only locale where the United States is training indigenous forces to aid US foreign policy aims. This year, the Pentagon has also ramped up operations in Central and South America as well as the Caribbean... 
The evidence for this conventional wisdom, however, is lacking. And failures to learn from history in this regard have been ruinous. The training, advising and outfitting of a proxy force in Vietnam drew the United States deeper and deeper into that doomed conflict, leading to tens of thousands of dead Americans and millions of dead Vietnamese. Support for Afghan proxies during their decade-long battle against the Soviet Union led directly to the current disastrous decade-plus American War in Afghanistan.     
Right now, the US is once again training, advising and conducting joint exercises all over the world with proxy war on its mind and the concept of "unintended consequences" nowhere in sight in Washington. Whether today's proxies end up working for or against Washington's interests or even become tomorrow's enemies remains to be seen. But with so much training going on in so many destabilised regions, and so many proxy forces being armed in so many places, the chances of blowback grow greater by the day."

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Creative Chaos: ‘Outlaws, smugglers US proxies in looting of Syria’

An RT Interview with Ibrahim Alloush

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Netanyahu and Barak Gambling With Israeli Lives, US Relations

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits across from Defence Minister Ehud Barak during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem March 11, 2012. (photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
By:Yossi Melman posted on Friday, Aug 17, 2012
 TEL AVIV — Ehud Barak is playing with fire, and we may all get burned. Based on the Israeli defense minister’s declarations in recent weeks, on and off the record, it seems that he stands solidly with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue of Iran’s nuclear program. They are clearly preparing the groundwork for a fateful vote by the Israeli cabinet on whether to bomb Iran.

Their target date seems to be sometime in October, after the Jewish high holidays next month — in part before bad weather may make the skies over Iran impenetrable to Israel’s air force, but also because they feel less certain of support by the United States after America’s election day on November 6.
They both are ready to gamble on a decision that could light a fire throughout the Middle East — unless Israel is extraordinarily lucky, and everything goes as well as it did when the nation’s air force destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 and a reactor that was under construction in Syria in 2007.

Netanyahu and Barak seem to differ only in style. The prime minister tries to touch the hearts and fears of his countrymen by speaking of a second Holocaust. He likens Islamic Iran to Nazi Germany, a menace to the very existence of the Jewish people, yet most of the world ignores the threats.

Barak, on the other hand, tries to present all the arguments for and against a strike on Iran, as though analyzing rationally. Can Israel’s air force significantly damage Iran’s nuclear plants? How many Israelis might die if Iran and its allies strike back with thousands of missiles? What will be the true impact on USA-Israeli relations? Yet, taking a step back, it seems that he is also calculating his own best chances for a political comeback.

How can one take seriously a man who, just five years ago, opposed dispatching Israeli planes to destroy Syria’s nuclear facility? Barak’s stand, in cabinet meetings only recently revealed, smells of political interests: Better to wait, in his view, for then-prime minister Ehud Olmert to lose power so that Barak could rush forward and be elected the country’s new leader.

In addition, Israelis who spoke with Barak three years ago about Iran’s nuclear program did not hear him breathe a word about an “existential threat” to Israel — one of his favorite tropes today. Even then he was reading the Israeli intelligence analyses, which have not essentially changed in their prediction that Iran will be able to create a nuclear warhead and deliver it atop a missile no sooner than 2014 or 2015.
All that has really changed is Barak’s position on all this. Now he acts more like a gambler. At age 70, his political career is probably near an end. He no longer leads the Labor Party, and his new faction in the Knesset is little more than his own chair in the parliamentary chamber. Yet it seems that Barak seeks one more chance to grab glory.
Toward that end, he and Netanyahu are willing to let the Israeli people take huge risks to their welfare and to their very lives.

Even before one bomb is dropped, their inflammatory, bellicose rhetoric has already caused damage not only to the US-Israeli strategic alliance but also here in Israel. The fear of war can be heard on every street corner. Many Israelis are getting nervous, speaking of moving to other areas or foreign countries they deem safer. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange has been jittery. Investments from abroad could dry up.

Why Barak and Netanyahu keep beating the war drum so loudly, I was asked by a former senior Mossad operative who thirty-one years ago was deeply involved in the decision-making process which led to the attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor.

"We deliberated in closed doors, maintained secrecy and avoided spreading panic," he said. One possible answer to his puzzlement is that Netanyahu and Barak have no real intention of attacking Iran but are trying to provoke the Iranian leadership to lose its nerve and stage a pre-emptive strike: to attack Israel and not wait for the “aggressive and odious Zionists” to hit first.

Even more Machiavellian is the possibility that Netanyahu and Barak are hoping to draw the United States into war, at a time that could be most inconvenient for Washington.
Why the rush? Why do they act like it's now or never? The defense minister says that Iran is amassing enriched uranium and moving it to underground locations that Israeli bombs will soon be unable to reach and penetrate. Yet if Israel attacks soon and triggers a crisis before America’s election, Barack Obama may well be very annoyed — or worse. A president seeking re-election does not need such situations, and the Israeli premier and defense minister certainly could wait a few weeks more.
The Israelis must remember that though a nuclear Iran will pose a threat to the existence of Israel, there is an even bigger existential danger: risking the long and intimate strategic alliance with the US and eventually losing the support of its best ally and its guarantee of surviving in the hostile and rough neighborhood of the Middle East. The Israeli leaders had better listen to the US and believe the president and his top administration officials when they promise that America cannot and will not tolerate a nuclear Iran.

Yossi Melman is an Israeli commentator on security matters and co-author of Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars, recently published by Levant Books.
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Syria and Us (Part I)

A Free Syrian Army fighter observes the area during clashes in Aleppo 16 August 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Goran Tomasevic)
Published Friday, August 17, 2012
So far, the pummelling of Syria by the Arabs’ enemies has been successful. The fact that the regime has not fallen by no means indicates that the state is standing fast. The Syrian army has now become the cornerstone on which the regime stands. The Baath party and civilian institutions and even the pro-regime public have all become engaged in the struggle for local influence. The historic authority of the state has been dealt a major blow. The unreconstructed security agencies are ineffective. The daily bloodletting reinforces the division.

The result: a sharp decline in stability, an even bigger decline in economic activity, and a steep decline in the need for the state. That is from above. From below, there has been a collective resort to mechanisms of self-administration. These benefit the opposition, and particularly the armed groups which have been establishing themselves wherever the state has stopped functioning, the army is absent, and regime loyalists have retreated.

Rural Syria was the foundation of the uprising, and has become the foundation of its militarization. It is where the armed rebels are based, and from where they move and plan. These rural areas were the mainstay of the Baathist revolution decades ago. The late Hafez al-Assad later relied on them to consolidate his rule. They provided the counter-balancing element that made for the new Syria.
But the countryside’s share of human and economic development went into decline, for dozens avoidable reasons. Major mistakes committed by the regime over the course of 20 years exhausted it, leaving rural Syrians to journey to the misery-belts that grew around the main cities, or consigning them to wholesale unemployment. Falling school attendance and deteriorating public services – in addition to political, security, ruling-party and even sectarian oppression – also contributed to turning the countryside into fertile ground for the first popular uprising witnessed in Syria since the days of French occupation.

There is no place now for this discussion. The table onto which problematic issues were supposed to have been placed has been pushed aside. The regime thought it would be easier to resort to outright repression, while the insurrectionists erred by letting their demands be co-opted by enemies of all of Syria, be they Arab or Western. The result was to plunge the country into a vicious civil war, in which there is no place for reason, whose driving forces are malice and rage and whose outcomes are ominous.
Seventeen months after the start of the crisis, Syrians and outside observers alike have reverted to trying to prove that they were right all along. Both sides are now saying, scornfully, that they warned this would happen – though each comes from a different perspective and draws different conclusions.
The regime and its supporters reiterate that the opposition did not appreciate the fact that Syria differs from other Arab countries and disregarded the foreign and regional players willing to support any protest in order to serve their own interests and destroy Syria.
The opposition repeats that the regime turned a blind eye to realities on the ground, arrogantly denying there was any genuine domestic problem, and confined its efforts to a security solution which led to the militarization of the popular uprising
Amid the quarrel, the loyalists are calling for calm, for arms to be abandoned and the streets to be cleared, and for movement toward “realistic dialogue” with the regime. It opponents, meanwhile, are demanding the removal of the regime’s head as an absolute precondition for compromise with its props within the state and among the general population.
In short, there is no sign of either side backing down, and with foreign interests fuelling the domestic confrontation, it has again been left to the bloody warfare to judge. Each side is banking on a breakthrough on the ground which could open the door to political efforts. Until that time, Syria’s doors will remain open to death and destruction in every guise and to a confrontation whose savagery justifies the fears for the country’s future voiced by allies and enemies alike.
On the ground, meanwhile, the borders of mini-states are being drawn, in blood. Whether these are overcrowded or uninhabited makes no difference. But the Syria we know has died, and with it all dreams of a civil state in this dismembered sectarian East.
On Syria’s eastern, western, southern and northern borders, states and peoples are paying the price for the abandonment of a united Syria.
Iraq is bracing for a new round of sectarian warfare. The alliance which wants to bring down the Syrian regime seeks to topple the current regime in Iraq too. Even the US, which enjoys special privileges in post-Saddam Iraq, has been coming round to the thinking of Christian Europe and the Sunni Gulf states who would rather see a strife-torn Iraq than a Shia-ruled Iraq beholden to Iran.
Jordan is wallowing in internal problems caused by the regime’s corruption and the growing inability of the state to provide the requisites of life. The country is being torn apart by powerful forces pulling it in opposite directions. One of these wants Jordan to play a decisive part in battering the regime in Syria, even as a hireling paid by the Gulf oil monarchies. The other fears the collapse of current regime in Syria and the influence of political Islam spreading into Jordan. That is because for the Jordanians, political Islam can only translate into greater Palestinian influence, turning it into a decisive element which might lead the state. At that point, the US, the West and all their Arabs would seek to consolidate the idea of the alternative homeland, whether at the expense of the Jordanian state, or at the expense of Palestine.

Turkey, which prides itself as one of the region’s greatest countries, is witnessing a process of “Islamization” that is undermining the trappings of civic equality which characterized Ataturk’s autocracy. Nearly a century after the fall of the caliphate, the language of discrimination between sectarian, confessional, national and ethnic minorities has made a forceful comeback. The misguided adventurism of the Justice and Development Party’s theorists and politicians has meanwhile led it into blunders, and prompted it to tighten its authoritarian grip at home. Democracy, along with public and personal freedoms, is in retreat, while wholesale privatisation has become the only way of sustaining growth in an economy which could take a big hit from losing Syria along with Iraq and Iran.

This is in addition to the fact that all the barriers that partly held the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in check will soon have been completely lifted. Much Syrian territory is set to become a base for Turkish rebels who seek an independent national identity.
As for Israel, it is becoming more frantic by the day, its head full of big existential questions. The survival of the Syrian regime means the strengthening of the resistance axis which seeks the downfall of the Zionist regime. Yet the fall of the Syrian regime means exposing the northern front to all sorts of negative possibilities for Israel, whatever the nature of the central authority in Damascus.
Israel’s bigger problem, however, is that its traditional option of launching pre-emptive or preventive wars is no longer on hand. It is tempered by fears of unforeseen errors, which could lead to an explosion for which Israel would pay the first and biggest price.
Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
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Samir Kuntar escape Salifi attack on Al-Aqsa Tunisia Festival

August 17, 2012

Hardline Islamists armed with swords and sticks attacked a cultural festival in northern Tunisia late on Thursday, with five people wounded in the clash, witnesses and officials said.

It was the third time in just three days that Tunisia's emboldened Salafists have disrupted cultural events, condemning some of them for violating Muslim sensitivities during the holy month of Ramadan and fuelling fears of a rising Islamist tide.

At the music and theatre festival in Bizerte, "around 200 people belonging to the Salafist movement used violence to block a protest organized by various groups to mark Jerusalem Day, denouncing the presence of certain Arab guests," the interior ministry said.

The ministry said it had dispersed the assailants with tear gas and arrested four of them, adding that five people were wounded.

Festival organizers Khaled Boujemma and Slahedine Masri, speaking on private radio station Mosaique FM, said the Salafists were armed with swords and sticks. Human rights activist, Bechir Ben Cherifa, said the police waited an hour before intervening.

Witnesses said the hardliners were angered by the presence at the protest of Lebanese militant Samir Kantar, who spent nearly three decades in jail in Israel before being freed in 2008 in a prisoner swap with Lebanon's powerful Shiite group Hezbollah.

Kantar, sentenced to multiple life sentences for a notorious 1979 attack in Israel that killed a policeman, a four-year-old girl and her father, is considered a hero by many in Lebanon and was honored by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after his release.

There is mounting concern among artists and activists in Tunisia about the ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim movement, which has grown increasingly assertive since the ouster of veteran dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in last year's uprising.

Two festivals have been cancelled this month and two cultural performances prevented from taking place just this week because of threats by the Salafists, who considered them un-Islamic.
Opposition and civil society groups have repeatedly criticized Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party that heads Tunisia's ruling coalition, for failing to do more to rein in the hardliners.

Tunisian Salafis attack pro-Palestine march
A picture dated 20 May 2012 shows a Tunisian Islamist waving a Salafi flag which says in Arabic, "There is only one God," during a rally in Kairouan. (Photo: AFP – Fethi Belaid)
Published Saturday, August 18, 2012
Hardline Salafis attacked a peaceful pro-Palestine protest on Friday evening in the Tunisian city of Gabes.
Hundreds of people were marching in support of the Palestinian demand for statehood on the occasion of International Quds Day but were attacked, witnesses said.
In a telephone interview with UPI a protester said that about 30 people affiliated with the hardline Salafi movement “attacked participants in the march with sticks and batons on the pretext that they are Shia, and not allowed to display their beliefs in the town of Abu Lubaba Ansari.”
The witness, who requested anonymity, said that clashed between Salafis and the participants in the rally continued for more than an hour in the absence of security forces - resulting in a number of injuries.
The witness added that Salafis attacked participants with sticks and stones, and also burnt the Palestinian flag and hoisted black banners reading “there is no god but Allah.”
They also chanted slogans, including: “There is no god but Allah, and Shias are the enemies of God," and others calling for the killing of Shias.
Tunisia has witnessed a number of aggressive moves moves by the Salafi movement in the past week.
On Thursday night the closing ceremony of the second session of the al-Aqsa festival in the city of Bizerte was interrupted by attacks in which five people were injured.
The festival was attended by Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese resistance figure formerly detained in Israel.
Militant Salafis stormed the concert hall and threatened the audience with swords and sticks on the pretext that Kuntar is Shia, despite him coming from a Druze background.
Extremist demonstrations in the name of Islam have become an increasing trend in Tunisia and security forces have been accused of turning a blind eye to such attacks.

(UPI, Al-Akhbar)

السلفيّون يستهدفون سمير القنطار

الاعتداء أعاد التأكيد على عجز حكومة الترويكا عن ضمان أمن المواطنين (أرشيف - أ ف ب)
نورالدين بالطيب

تونس | لم يكن المناضل سمير القنطار يتخيل مجرد خيال أن يكون مطارداً ومطلوباً من السلفيين في تونس تحت حكم الثوريين وهو الذي واجه آلة القمع الاسرائيلية لما يزيد على الثلاثين عاماً. هذا ما حصل في تونس التي تكتظ حياتها اليومية بالمفارقات منذ صعود حركة النهضة الإسلامية إلى الحكم، إذ احتلت مجموعة من حوالي ٥٠٠ شخص من التيار السلفي دار الشباب في مدينة بنزرت (شمال تونس) احتجاجاً على حضور سمير القنطار مهرجان القدس في دورته الثانية. وتطور النقاش مع المنظمين ليتحول الى مواجهة دامية استعمل فيها السلفيون السيوف والهراوات والحجارة والأسلحة البيضاء. وقد أصيب خمسة من الحقوقيين بجراح متفاوتة، ومن بينهم خالد بوجمعة رئيس المكتب الجهوي لمنظمة حرية وانصاف، الذي اصيب بكسر في الانف وإصابات في مستوى الساق والفم، ومنجي الطياشي الذي أصيب بسيف في مستوى الرأس وقد تسبب له في جروح خطيرة. كذلك أصيب المحاميان شكري الغربي وعماد الصفاقسي، أما سمير القنطار فقد تم تهريبه من الباب الخلفي.

هذه الحادثة المؤلمة والدامية، التي حدثت مساء أول أمس في مدينة بنزرت الساحرة، جزء من مسلسل اعتداءات منظمة لمجموعات سلفية لم تلق ردعاً من الداخلية التي يتولى مسؤوليتها علي العريض، القيادي في حركة النهضة. وبرر السلفيون اعتداءهم الهمجي على الحاضرين بانتماء القنطار للمذهب الشيعي ودفاعه عن النظام السوري الذي يكن له الاسلاميون العداء.

ردة الفعل الغريبة والمفاجئة وغير المسبوقة، فسرها بعض المحللين بالخطاب الذي ألقاه القنطار في المؤتمر الصحافي قبل يومين في العاصمة تونس، والذي دعا فيه زعيم حركة النهضة راشد الغنوشي، إلى اعلان تونس أرضاً لمعاداة التطبيع مع الكيان الصهيوني اذا كان فعلاً جاداً في دعوته لتحرير فلسطين. ويبدو أن قواعد الحركة اعتبرت هذا التصريح بمثابة الاستفزاز، الذي يجب الرد عليه. يضاف إلى ذلك تورط الحركات الإسلامية في الأزمة في سوريا بتمويل من بعض الدول الخليجية الراعية الرسمية للحركات الوهابية التي تنتمي إليها المجموعة المعتدية.

الاعتداء الذي استهدف دار الشباب، تم في غياب قوات الأمن. لكن الأخيرة أعلنت أمس عن إلقاء القبض على أربعة من المعتدين، كما نفت غيابها عن مسرح الأحداث باشارتها إلى أن الشرطة «فرقت المعتدين باستعمال الغاز المسيل للدموع».

هذا التبرير لم يحل دون اثارة هذه الجريمة المنظمة ضد حرية التعبير حالة استياء عام، وخصوصاً بعدما أكدت مرة أخرى عجز حكومة الترويكا عن ضمان أمن المواطنين وتساهلها المثير للريبة مع السلفيين. وقد نددت الأحزاب والجمعيات بما حدث. ودعت إلى تحرك شعبي للضغط على وزارة الداخلية ومن ورائها الحكومة بهدف تتبع الجناة وتطبيق القانون، ووضع حد لتحكم هذه المجموعات في الفضاء العمومي وتهديد الحريات. كذلك بدأ عدد كبير من المواطنين والناشطين في جمع الامضاءات لمقاضاة وزير الداخلية والمطالبة باستقالته بعد عجز الوزارة عن ضمان الأمن.

ورغم تبرؤ حركة النهضة كالعادة من مسؤوليتها عن هذه الحادثة، فإن تزامن اعتداءات السلفيين وعودتهم الى استعراضات القوة وممارسة العنف مع ارتفاع الاحتقان في الشارع ومأزق الحكومة يطرح أكثر من سؤال.

وجاء استهداف سمير القنطار بعد يوم واحد من منع فرقة إيرانية في مدينة القيروان من العرض بسبب انتمائهم إلى المذهب الشيعي. وقد أثار تكرار هذه الأحداث حفيظة مجموعة من الشيعة في مدينة قابس (جنوب)، الذين طالبوا بتنظيم مسيرة احتجاج ضد هذه السلوكات الغريبة عن المجتمع التونسي المتسامح. وهي الدعوة التي رد عليها أنصار حركة النهضة على صفحات «الفايسبوك» بشكل عنيف بلغ حد التهديد «بالتأديب».

الاعتداء على سمير القنطار بما يمثله من رمزية زاد في غضب الشارع التونسي على حركة النهضة. وقد بدا هذا من خلال شبكة «الفايسبوك»، التي تناقلت الحادثة. وحمّل الناشطون حركة النهضة مسؤولية ما حدث. كما أدانت الاحزاب السياسية والرابطة التونسية للدفاع عن حقوق الانسان والقوى النقابية ما حدث وطالبوا بفتح تحقيق عاجل وجدي حول كل تفاصيل الجريمة وغياب الأمن. وطالبوا بتشديد أقسى العقاب على المعتدين. ويتوقع أن تشهد مدينة بنزرت اليوم تظاهرات للتنديد بالاعتداءات السلفية.

كل المؤشرات تؤكد أن رقعة العنف بدأت في الاتساع، وأن خطاب الجماعات السلفية ومن يحميهم ويشجعهم يقود البلاد المعروفة باستقرارها إلى منعرج خطير إن لم تسترجع الدولة هيبتها لتضرب بقوة على أيدي العابثين بالسلم الأهلي والاستقرار الاجتماعي، الذي عرفت به تونس. ويحمّل الناشطون التونسيون والأحزاب حركة النهضة وحليفيها مسؤولية الانحدار غير المسبوق الذي وصلته البلاد، إذ عملت الترويكا الحاكمة على تقسيم الشعب التونسي بين مسلمين وملحدين. والآن تسعى أطراف تعول على حماية الترويكا إلى تقسيم البلاد الى سنة وشيعة وهو منزلق خطير وخط أحمر لا احد يعرف نتيجة تجاوزه.

سمير القنطار يفلت من هجوم سلفي على مهرجان الأقصى بتونس
سلفيون يهاجمون مهرجانا ثقافيا شمال تونس والشرطة تفرقهم بالغاز المسيل للدموع
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Iran war: Countdown to Israel doomsday

An Iranian long-range Shahab-3 missile being launched during the second day of military exercises, codenamed Great Prophet-7 July 3, 2012.
An Iranian long-range Shahab-3 missile being launched during the second day of military exercises, codenamed Great Prophet-7 July 3, 2012.
Mon Aug 13, 2012 1:58AM GMT
But if Israel ever ventures into a military strike against Iran, it must ask itself this question first: how many Iranian missiles can the Zionist entity take 10,000? 20,000? 50,000? 100,000? 150,000 or more?"
“Why on earth is the Zionist regime making threats against Iran? How many missiles have they prepared themselves for? 10,000? 20,000? 50,000? 100,000? 150,000 or more?"

These words were expressed in full force on November 27, 2011 by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi.
He warned Tel Aviv that "If the Zionist regime ever decides to carry out its threats against Iran, the Basij forces will exact revenge on the entity for its long span of bullying oppressed nations.”
There is a recently renewed call for military strike on Iranian nuclear sites on the part of the Zionist regime. It is reported that the voices coming from the offices of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak about Iran are “worrisome.”

Iranian navy fires a Mehrab missile during the "Velayat-90" naval wargames in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran on January 1, 2012.Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer says that Iran strike spells security and financial crisis and that the entity is gearing to deal with recession.

“The primary responsibility of each country is to maintain its security. It is possible to describe situations of widespread war which would be very difficult to deal with. We are preparing for a major crisis and for security situation which is much worse,” Fischer said in an interview with Channel 2 News on Friday.

Saudi Arabia has warned Israel that it would shoot down any Israeli fighter jets that enter its airspace en route to an attack on Iran. However, other sources says Riyadh might allow Israeli jets to enter its airspace if Israel coordinates the military strike with Washington and does not embark on military strike unilaterally.
More to the point, Western presstitute media have ratcheted up an anti-Iran campaign at the behest of their Zionist masters with the express intention of rending any possible Israeli strike on Iran legitimate in the eyes of the western community. In line with this satanic policy and in order to add fuel to fire, Reuters reported that “Iran has stepped up work to develop a nuclear warhead,” quoting Israeli newspapers as saying on Sunday.
On Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak shamelessly lied to the media and said that US President Barack Obama had received a new National Intelligence Estimate to the effect that Iran had made significant and surprising progress toward military nuclear capability. However, US officials said on Thursday the United States still believes that Iran is not on the verge of having a nuclear weapon and that Tehran has not made a decision to pursue one.

A White House National Security Council spokesman refuted the Israeli reports, saying the US intelligence assessment of Iran's nuclear activities had not changed since earlier this year.

"We believe that there is time and space to continue to pursue a diplomatic path, backed by growing international pressure on the Iranian government," the spokesman said. "We continue to assess that Iran is not on the verge of achieving a nuclear weapon."
Unfortunately, the international community is prone to forget that Israel is the thieving entity and that it is an irresponsible regime with a huge arsenal of at least 300 nuclear warheads at its disposal. It is excruciatingly manifest that the nuclear reality of Israel and what immeasurable destruction it can wreak on the entire region and the world are often consigned to oblivion and any suggestion to that effect is brushed away with a gesture of nonchalance. Ironically, global ignorance is turned into an asset for the Israeli regime in order to carry on or out with its threats against Iran.
An Iranian short-range missile (Fateh) launched during the second day of military exercises, codenamed Great Prophet-7 July 3, 2012.In fact, what torments the Israeli officials tremendously is that Iran is paying no attention to the US-orchestrated illegal sanctions. Iran believes that the sanctions are like obstacles placed on its path by ill wishers and that they have to be overcome in one way or another. In other words, Iran stands tall against the bullies and their heavy-handed tactics. That is why the Israeli top echelons have taken recourse to lies and rumors about the country.

From a military point of view, Iran is an extremely powerful country. In July, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) test-fired indigenous missiles in a three-day military drill codenamed The Great Prophet 7.

A number of missiles were test-fired including Shahab (Meteor) 1, 2, 3, Khalij Fars (Persian Gulf), Tondar (Lightning), Fateh (Victor) and Zelzal (earthquake) as well as Qiam (Uprising).

The Pentagon has recently confessed to the “lethality and effectiveness” of Iranian missiles, saying that Tehran is a “formidable force” in defending its territory.
According to a June 29 report by the Pentagon, “Iran has boosted the lethality and effectiveness of existing systems by improving accuracy and developing new submunition payloads” that “extend the destructive power over a wider area than a solid warhead.”

Signed by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the report had been submitted to the four US congressional defense committees to comply with a 2010 directive to provide an annual classified and unclassified assessment of Iran’s military power.

Be that as it may, Iran’s prodigious military capabilities, as it has often pointed out, are defensive and will only be used against aggressors and those who threaten the country’s territorial integrity.

But if Israel ever ventures into a military strike against Iran, it must ask itself this question first: how many Iranian missiles can the Zionist entity take 10,000? 20,000? 50,000? 100,000? 150,000 or more?

AKA Ali Salami, Dr. Ismail Salami is an Iranian author, Shakespearean, political writer, Iranologist and lexicographer. A prolific writer, Salami has authored over a hundred books and articles. His articles have appeared in international journals and many of them have been translated into numerous languages. Salami holds a PhD in Shakespeare Studies and is the author of Human Rights in Islam and Iran, Cradle of Civilization. More articles by Ismail Salami
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U.S. Presidential Election

I find it amazing that in a nation with over 300 million inhabitants the best candidates for the US Presidency are either Obama or Romney. Both have the same ruthless and unlawful attitude to International Law and devotion to Apartheid.

In fact over the last 50 years the only US presidents I've had any respect for were Kennedy & Carter, both refused to accept Israeli shekel as a valid form of payment, Apart from those two we've had a succession of Tweedledumbs and Tweedledumbers, the Bushes, Clinton made the USA the best democracy in the world which money can buy.

The latest nut job on the scene is a Paul Ryan , a running mate for Romney. Now Ryan is so far off the scale he thinks the UK's National health Service "Interferes with democracy" and should not be copied. This is the potential Vice President of a country where people literally die in the streets because they can't afford health care, the biggest cause of bankruptcy in the USA and Ryan apparently thinks that's democracy.

He's pro-gun, anti-abortion, hates the NHS, hunts deer and catches catfish with his bare hands: The brains behind Presidential candidate Mitt Romney
Keep-fit fanatic Paul Ryan hopes to smarm his way into the US public’s ­affection as Republican candidate Romney’s running mate
Keep-fit fanatic Paul Ryan hopes to smarm his way into the US public’s ­affection as Republican candidate Romney’s running mate

When Paul Ryan left school, his classmates voted him their “biggest brown noser”.

Now the deer-hunting keep-fit fanatic hopes to smarm his way into the US public’s ­affection as Republican presidential ­candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate.

And the would-be vice president intends to do it by reining in public spending and slashing medical benefits for the old and needy.

On the way he’s already ­infuriated Brits by ­criticising the NHS.

Claiming “socialised ­healthcare” jeopardises tax cuts, he said: “The NHS interferes with democracy and the US must beware following Britain’s path.”

When mega-rich Romney announced his choice a week ago, he introduced Ryan as “the next president of the United States”.

The crowd tittered but the gaffe may well prove to be true.

If President Barack Obama is re-elected in November as expected, Ryan should be the Republican front-runner in the 2016 race for the White House.

And unlike Sarah Palin, the Tea Party supporter who helped derail John McCain’s bid four years ago, pundits say Ryan does have a shot at the White House.

The driven political insider is seen as bringing a bit of intellectual backbone to the ticket.

The 42-year-old father-of-three has spent his entire career in politics and is known as a ­ferocious budget axe-wielder.

The Wisconsin ­congressman’s favourite hobby-horse is Medicaid, the government agency that helps pensioners with medical bills.

He wants to slash government spending to reduce the deficit and free up private enterprise.

Yet he conveniently failed to remember that he’d applied for some of President Obama’s government stimulus money.

After denying the ­accusations twice, he admitted “forgetting” that his office had sent letters, some signed by him, to the Energy and Labour departments seeking aid for two Wisconsin firms.

But he has faultless right-wing credentials.

His Irish great, great, great grandfather arrived in the US during the potato famine and worked on the Boston railroads before saving enough to buy a small Wisconsin farm.

As a devout Catholic, Ryan is fiercely pro-life, describing himself as an “ardent, unwavering foe of abortion rights.”

He doesn’t agree with gay rights either – he votes against same-sex marriage and opposed the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which allowed gays who kept quiet to stay in the forces.

He also backs the pro-gun lobby and has argued against tougher background checks for owners.

The obsessive fitness freak has little time for the unhealthy – and is a devout follower of hardcore home work-out system P90X.

The trim 6ft 2in Ryan got into keep-fit when he was 16 and discovered his 47-year-old dad Tobin dead of a heart attack.

He is so well know for it that web spoofers have put his head on “ripped” muscular bodies.

His daily regime takes in cross-country runs, super-strength cardio exercises, pull-ups, push-ups, karate and yoga.

Asked once if he had any vices, he said: “I drink two cups of coffee every morning.”

At weekends in Janesville, Wisconsin he goes on cross-country skis, clambers up mountains and shoots deer and turkey with bows, arrows and rifles.

He spends his downtime in the Colorado Rockies, where he has made 40 ascents up the “Fourteeners”, peaks of over 14,000ft.

He catches catfish with his bare hands and even proposed to tax attorney wife Janna, 43, at his favourite angling spot.

The couple married in 2002 and live in a grand six-bedroom house with their three children, Liza, 10, Charlie, 8, and Sam, 7.

He has 67 cousins, all living within a few minutes walk.

Many work for Ryan Inc, the earth-moving business founded by his Irish great grandfather.

Ryan has never bought a ­Washington bolt-hole. He often sleeps on his office sofa or drives to his sister-in-law’s house in the suburbs to use her spare room.

He is an avid reader of Ayn Rand novels, beloved of American opponents of “big government”.

He says her books inspired him to run for public office.

As a student he did internships at the Senate. He paid his bills working as a waiter at a Mexican restaurant, a fast food salesman and personal trainer to political aides.

He listens to Beethoven and Led Zeppelin as he works out.

Until recently, he was also a fan of Rage Against the Machine. But the left-wing rockers were aghast.

Their guitarist Tom Morello said: “He is the ­embodiment of the machine our music rages against.”
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Roknabadi to Al-Manar Website: The More Syria Defeated, The More “Israel” Saved

Soumaya Ali

abadi interview manarWhen meeting him, the Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghadanfar Roknabadi made reservations to his answers about the relationship with Turkey and the abducted Iranians in Syria. All of what Mr. Ambassador disclosed was that communications are taking place regarding the case of the abductees, yet there is no news till the moment.

Roknabadi preferred to emphasize in the interview on the International Al-Quds Day and its importance on the level of returning the Palestinian cause to the top of the concerns in light of the changes taking place in the Arab World. The Iranian Ambassador, whose words are much serious and diplomatic, insists that the probability of political settlement in Syria still exists, and that overthrowing the Syrian regime aims at saving the Zionist entity.
What did Imam Khomeini want from devoting the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan a day for Al-Quds, the capital of occupied Palestine?

Even before the victory of the revolution in Iran, the Imam was concerned with Al-Quds and the Palestinian Cause, as well as all the just causes in the whole world. Imam Khomeini called all peoples of the world to support the Palestinian cause and liberate Al-Quds from Zionists. But when the revolution triumphed, the Imam worked harder to install this thought by closing the Israeli Embassy in Tehran and opening a Palestinian Embassy instead.

In addition to that, serious efforts were exerted to support the Palestinian cause. Among the steps was the Imam’s announcing the last Friday of every month of Ramadan the International Day of Al-Quds. Imam Khomeini specifically chose this day because he wanted it to be deep-rooted and alive in the conscience of every free person in the world without the need to change its duration.

Mr. Ambassador, in your opinion, why was the Palestinian cause absent from the Arab peoples’ conscience in light of the movements going on in their countries?

I don’t agree with what you have said. Israel wants the movements in the Arab world to negatively affect the Palestinian cause. Before those movements have started, Israelis were exerting their maximum efforts to divert attention from Palestine and the occupation of Palestine, as well as the cause of refugees.

They were adopting the discrimination policy based on the principle “you discriminate, you rule.” But the intensity of this policy grew higher after the movements that took place in the Arab countries especially after Husni Mubarak’s regime fallout, when the Israelis felt that this security backing regime has collapsed. And the Muslim Brotherhood group, which was chosen by the Egyptian people to be ruling, believes in the rightness of the just causes among of which is the Palestinian cause.

Consequently, Israel and Western countries are currently trying their best to control the Arab revolutions, especially the Egyptian one that is considered at the top for constituting an important change on the occupied Palestinian borders. Many revolutionists in the Arab world had shouted in favor of the Palestinian cause, such as the Egyptian revolutionists who tried to break into the Israeli embassy building, something which emphasizes that revolutions were reviving the Palestinian cause.

Are we still able to call what is going on in the Arab World an Islamic awakening, as Imam Ali Khamenei said, in light of the sectarian fighting and strongly thinking about partition?

In this context, I would like to recall the Iranian revolution even though it is different from the Arab revolutions on the levels of the united leadership, the method, and the clear program. The revolution in Iran faced a lot of problems even harder than those current revolutions are witnessing. It was due to the Israeli-American focus to smash the Iranian revolution and topple the Islamic Republic regime through the terrorist bombs and the Iraqi war, in addition to the incitement for the sectarian and national differences in order to perform protests and fuel conflicts.

But we, through hard efforts, were able to establish the pillars of this revolution. For this reason, Arab people that were able to create those revolutions must work hard to set the pillars of their revolutions stable and protect them from the internal and foreign threats.

What is important is that this awakening still exists and what is still needed is the suitable time to stabilize this revolution and start reaping its results. We, the Iranians, needed ten years to stabilize our revolution and face all the plots that are still ongoing.

For that, we hear today about revolutions in Arab worlds, the same accusations we used to hear against the Iranian people during the Iranian revolution, because this awakening took place according to the Islamic principles.

Al-Quds International Day has a symbolic dimension on the level of supporting the Palestinian cause. With what should this day, which makes Palestine alive in the consciousness, be accompanied in order to make the fight against the Israeli enemy more effective?

Palestine is not only the Qiblah for Arabs and Muslims, Al-Quds rather must trigger every alive and free conscience in the world. Al-Quds was occupied by force, and also must be freed by resistance, and progressive and inclusive support from all the peoples in the world. The last Friday in the holy month of Ramadan is a golden chance to commemorate this day and show the available energies among free people that must all flow in the stream of supporting Al-Quds and liberating it.

Al-Quds Day anniversary coincides this year with the escalation in the level of the crisis in Syria, which is considered a cornerstone in reluctance supporting the Palestinian resistance, as well as the decline in the Palestinian front’s resistance. What do you think it’s due to?

We assert that a part of the Israeli enemy current plans is to divert the attention from Palestine toward Syria. Nowadays, we are witnessing the project to overthrow Syria and the Syrian public will, because the majority of the people in Syria want reforms under this regime and President Bashar Assad’s leadership. On the contrary, this huge public will is being attacked by force, foreign intervention, arming terrorist groups, and bringing those groups from different places. In fact, the more Syria is defeated, the more “Israel” is saved.

How much is it possible that Iran will make a breach on the level of political solution to the Syrian crisis especially after the failure of Kofi Annan’s plan and in light of some countries’ continuous support to the armed groups?

Since the very beginning, we said there is no solution in Syria but the political one. As for the Syrian opposition, there is a political opposition group and not a military opposition group. He who wants to achieve democracy won’t carry his gun, perform terrorist operations, and kill people, and import armaments and terrorists to Syria. As long as there is an opposition in Syria, we have to start dialogue with the political opposition. Yet, there are still imported groups that neglect every political solution, and don’t do but murdering, terrifying, and torturing corpses in Syria.

On this basis, the Consultative Meeting in Tehran is working on preparing the ground on which the Syrian regime officials will sit along with the opposition on the dialogue table in order to agree on stopping violence and performing the inclusive elections, as well as paving the way to deliver the humanitarian supplies to the Syrian people.

All the attendees of the Consultative Meeting stressed on what I have just said, they also stressed on exerting efforts to solve the crisis from all sides, not with the help of some countries, but with the help of all the effective countries with regard to the events taking place in Syria. The Consultative Meeting in Tehran was perfect, despite difficulties; it seemed it is possible to reach a solution. Imported armed groups are spoiling things, for this reason, we must differentiate between the real local opposition and those who were brought to destroy Syria.
Source: Al-Manar Website

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Leader Says Israel Will Be Wiped Out, Urges Massive Participation in Quds Day

 Local Editor

 As he stresses that the Israel is an artificial entity and will be wiped out, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei called for massive turnout on International Quds Day.
imam khamenei
During a meeting with hundreds of veterans from the Iraq-Iran war on Wednesday, Ayatollah Khamenei said that a high turnout on Quds Day would give a crushing response to the enemies of Islam and Palestinians.

The Leader said that the Zionist entity was an artificial one and would be wiped out from the region, describing the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the formation of the Israeli regime as the root of evil in the Middle East.
“Had this conspiracy not taken place, these wars, divisions, and interventions by colonialists and oppressors would not have occurred,” the Leader stated.
Ayatollah Khamenei urged Muslims to counter attempts made by Israel and its allies to push the issue of Palestine into oblivion, describing the Islamic Revolution in Iran as a major “historical obstacle” against the enemy plot to smother the Palestinian cause.

The Leader condemned enemy schemes to create sectarian divisions among Muslims as part of the effort to avert attention from the West’s silence and support for the decades-long occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Imam Khamenei noted that liberating Palestine from the grip of Israel and its allies is a religious duty for all Muslims across the world.

The late founder of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini declared in August 1979 the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as International Quds Day, calling on Muslims across world to commemorate the annual occasion.

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Politicians, Understand These Seven Simple Rules

by Stuart Littlewood

Saturday, August 18th, 2012
“People in public life are not always as clear as they should be about where the boundaries of acceptable conduct lie.” – Nolan Committee
“Who will own Mitt Romney if he is elected?” asks Philip Giraldi (‘Foreign money for Mitt?’ ) after Romney’s trip to Israel to raise campaign funds. The Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1966, he explains, prohibits the involvement of foreigners in funding election campaigns.
Another question is this: how do politicians think they can get away with it? Does fighting an election with foreign cash never strike them as dangerous, utterly immoral and downright wrong?
Apparently not.

So what to do? The solution is actually very simple and, as it happens, ready-made. You introduce easy-to-remember ground rules, assuming you can find a government honest enough and courageous enough to implement and enforce them.

You don’t even have to invent them. A suitable set of rules already exists. It’s called the Seven Principles of Public Life.
Back in 1994, after the British government was rocked by the “cash for questions” scandal and rising anger among the public about the conduct of some politicians, the then prime minister John Major set up the Committee on Standards in Public Life headed by a judge, Lord Nolan.
People in public life are not always as clear as they should be about where the boundaries of acceptable conduct lie. This we regard as the principal reason for public disquiet. It calls for urgent remedial action,”
said the Nolan Committee. What they produced was a set of ground rules that even the dumbest politicians could understand – The Seven Principles of Public Life…
1. Selflessness
Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
2. Integrity
Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
3. Objectivity
In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
4. Accountability
Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.
5. Openness
Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.
6. Honesty
Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest.
7. Leadership
Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

These easy-to-remember principles apply to all aspects of public life and to all who serve the public in any way, in any country.
They underpin our MPs’ Code of Conduct, which states that in carrying out their parliamentary and public duties Members are expected to observe those Seven Principles and they will be taken into account when investigating any allegations of breaches of the Code.
Members are also required to
base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest.”
No Member shall act as a paid advocate in any proceeding of the House, and the acceptance of a bribe, including any fee, compensation or reward in connection with the promotion of, or opposition to, any business of the House is contrary to the law of Parliament.
Furthermore, Members must “conscientiously” register their interests in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
The Seven Principles neatly represent people’s expectations of the way their public servants should behave. Sadly the reality is still very different, mainly because they are not enforced.
The Standards Committee’s remit does not include investigating individual allegations of misconduct. And the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is supposed to investigates allegations against individual MPs but only seems interested in expenses-fiddling,
So nothing much has changed. MPs are still at liberty to act in the interest of a foreign military power at the expense of our own national interests, and to let foreign influence cloud their judgement, even though such conduct is clearly at odds with the second Principle, namely Integrity.
The various Friends of Israel organisations still flourish at the heart of government, waving the flag of the Zionist regime and going to great lengths to influence those in power at Westminster, even flying them to Israel to have their heads filled with Zionist propaganda. A good many, it seems, reach positions of power with FoI help, and it is said that membership is an essential stepping stone to promotion. 80 percent of the Conservative MPs are believed to be signed-up members, and the Conservative Friends of Israel has become the largest affiliated group in the party.
Senior Conservatives try to justify this un-British state of affairs by insisting that Israel is a force for good in the world” and
in the battle for the values that we stand for – for democracy against theocracy, for democratic liberal values against repression – Israel’s enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together”.
Of course, the British people should not have to tolerate dual allegiance in their Parliament and Government, since it obviously puts national security at risk.
Mitt Romney and many others in Congress would have their work cut out trying to comply with these simple and obvious rules.

Over here, we are asking the same questions as Philip Giraldi. Who owns prime minister David Cameron, a self-proclaimed Zionist who has pledged undying support – in OUR name – for the toxic state of Israel?

Who owns foreign secretary William Hague, who rattles his sabre at Iran at every opportunity and loves ratcheting up sanctions designed to cripple Iran’ economy and impoverish its people, and who has been a loyal Friend of Israel since his schooldays?
And why aren’t the Seven Principles, especially numbers Two and Seven, rigorously enforced?
Answers on a postcard please…
Stuart Littlewood
17 August 2012
Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine, with Foreword by Jeff Halper, can now be read on the internet by visiting
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Israel losing international support, says British ambassador to Israel

by Richard Morris
Friday, August 17th, 2012

david gould

Photo courtesy of Press TV
Israel losing international support, says British ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould says Jewish state losing mainstream political support over lack of peace progress and West Bank expansion
The British ambassador to Israel has said international support for the Jewish state among those in the political mainstream is eroding, driven by settlement expansion in the West Bank and continued restrictions on Gaza.

There is “growing concern” in the UK over lack of progress towards peace with the Palestinians. In an unusually forthright interview for Israel’s Channel 10 news, Gould said he detected a shift among the middle ground of British members of parliament towards a more critical view of Israel.
“Support for Israel is starting to erode and that’s not about these people on the fringe who are shouting loudly and calling for boycotts and all the rest of it. The interesting category are those members of parliament in the middle, and in that group I see a shift.”
But, he added, Britain was “by no means unique” in its growing concern about the lack of progress towards peace.
“Anyone who cares about Israel’s standing in the world should be concerned about the erosion of popular support.”
The shift was a result of Israeli government policies, Gould said, suggesting that it could not be countered or obscured by hasbara. The Hebrew word for explanation refers to efforts by the Israeli government and its supporters to promote a pro-Israel agenda and challenge what it sees as negative media coverage.
“The centre ground, the majority, the British public may not be expert, but they are not stupid and they see a stream of announcements about new building in settlements, they read stories about what’s going on in the West Bank, they read about restrictions in Gaza. The substance of what’s going wrong is really what’s driving this,” Gould said.

Harriet Sherwood who often seems to be the only journalist voice reporting the truth of what goes on in Israel writes of Israeli reaction to Ambassador Gould’s words

At 40, Gould is the first Jewish person to serve as British ambassador to Israel. He said in an interview to mark his arrival in Israel in 2010 that being Jewish gave him “a visceral understanding of why Israel is so fixated on its own security and why security and peace mean so much to Israel and why it’s a country which feels so keenly that it lives on the knife edge”.

Does he not think that thousands of Palestinians have a visceral fixation on their own plight?
Zionist self-love rears its ugly head again from the Ambassador.

He previously held posts in Tehran, Washington and Downing Street.

Anshel Pfeffer, writing in Haaretz, said,
“not only is Gould not betraying his roots, he is doing the Jews of Britain a huge favour,”
saying that this will give strength to those British Jews who wish to say something critical of Israel but at the same time show support for Israel.

According to an article in the Jewish Chronicle of London, an “Israeli Foreign Ministry source said privately that it was a pity more diplomats did not say what Mr Gould had said.”

Mr Gould is clearly a principled and decent human being with a distinguished career behind him.
Why then do I have problems with him and his apparent liberal approach?

It is difficult to define liberalism but whatever liberal wing we think we belong to, the abiding and fundamental philosophy accepted since the Enlightenment is one of individual rights, liberty and equality of opportunity.

My liberal principles make me accept and act on my fundamental moral and political responsibilities to my fellow citizens. The evidence is irrefutable that Israel does not accept those principles and quite clearly breaks international law concerning human rights, land and water rights on a regular basis, despite the horrendous history of the Jews and the irrefutable evidence of Nazi atrocities and policies.

I recently asked Nadine Gordimer at a Q&A session if she thought Israel policies has similar parallels with Apartheid.

I was dismissed rather tartly with some confused defence that the situation and history are vastly different.

I have enormous respect for MS Gordimer but was deeply disappointed with her reply, another confusion of the liberal approach with what should be unequivocal moral action, behaviour and belief with no special pleading for Israel.

It would seem to me that Mr Gould and commentators like Jonathan Freedman, Henry Porter and many others use liberalism as children use comforters, that is to assuage their fears.

It is essentially an immoral approach, pretending to offer radical challenges to the Israeli establishment and British Jews where in fact they co-opt what brave people like Edward Said, Daniel Barenboim, Mourid Barghouti, Ilan Pappe and many others have been writing about for years.

The apparent liberal approach of many British Jews obscures the facts that they are the enemies of fundamental political change in Israel/Palestine.

As for politicians like the Milibands, Denis Macshane , the morally corrupt Jonathan Sacks and Julia Neuberger, their hypocrisies are manifold.

Mr Gould sees “growing concern” in the UK over the lack of peace moves in Israel.

We might remind him and his ilk that “the lack of peace moves” has been Israeli policy and reaction since 1948 and 1967, all the time encroaching steadily on Palestinian land.

Did he when as Principal Private Secretary to David Miliband from 2007 to 2010 advise the Milibands of this “growing concern” or has it just appeared on the horizon?

Why did Mr Gould launch an appeal amongst UK Jews for £2 million pounds to build six social clubs for Holocaust Survivors in Israel but make no efforts to help the traumatised survivors of Israeli attacks on Gaza or try to alleviate the sufferings of Palestinians still in refugee camps after 70 years?

It makes me queasy when liberals like Freedland and Gould pontificate about peace but forget the people whom Israel persecutes on a daily basis.

Their brand of liberalism always manages to remove the problem to the future.
“Israelis might wake up in 10 years’ time and find out that the level of understanding in the international community has suddenly changed, and that patience for continuing the status quo has reduced,” writes Gould
Perhaps he should be more concerned about those of us “on the fringes shouting loudly and organising boycotts”

We will still be shouting Mr Gould.
We shall bear witness.

In his sojourn in Israel/Palestine does he ever contemplate the real world of Occupation?

The State of Checkpoints.

It is a bizarre, surrealistic world of mirrors.

Our negotiators agreed that in Gaza and Jordan, Israeli security agents, although present throughout the terminal building, would be separated from travellers by one way mirrors.

Provision was made for Israeli security personnel to emerge into the hall, “in the event of an emergency situation and if necessary use their weapons”.

The travel documents of Palestinians were to be checked by an Israeli office “indirectly in an invisible manner”.

So imagine I am a Palestinian.

I enter the Palestinian Hall and see a Palestinian flag, Palestinian policemen, Palestinian luggage, Palestinian families, Palestinian mirrors.

The place smells Palestinian.

An unsmiling Palestinian border policeman is standing behind a large counter.

I give him my passport

He examines it, slips it into a drawer hidden behind thecounter, pushes it through to the other side where it is opened by the Israeli.

Of course I know nothing of this charade !

Behind the mirror the Israeli processes the passport and then pushes it back with one of two coloured paper slips denoting permission to enter or not.

The mirrors are so positioned that at all times the Palestinian official is under scrutiny by Israeli personnel.

Check Points

They prey on our sanity and humiliate us on a daily basis, taking away hours of time we want to spend with our families and our friends, or trying to make a living.

The IDF play games with us.

At Nablus, Israeli soldiers decided to detain every ninth adult male wishing to cross the checkpoint whose name was Mohammed.

You might imagine…there’s quite a lot of Mohammeds in Palestine.

In 2005 President Bush allocated 200 million dollars “to support Palestinian political, economic and security reforms”.

The pro-Israeli United States Congress qualified that all the aid could not go directly to The Palestinian Authority.

So 50 million dollars of the aid went to Israel to help fund the installation of more terminals, thus knowingly assisting the application of one of the most invasive and blatant tools of the Occupation.

When I arrive at the “state of the art” terminal of Qalandia, I must go through a first set of turnstiles, an x-ray gate, second set of turnstiles, an inspection booth and baggage x-ray whilst I am photographed and loudspeakers blare out instructions, which my old ears cannot understand.

The aim is to eventually do away with any communication between Israeli and Palestinian whatsoever.

Where’s the humanity in these measures ?

Who are these security people and soldiers who examine my passport ?

Where are they from ?

Brooklyn ? Golders Green ? Moscow?

Mourid Barghouti, the Palestinian writer and poet asked himself when he returned after thirty years of exile and waited silently before the soldier.
“Can he notice my humanity or the humanity of the Palestinians who pass beneath the shadow of his shining gun every day?”
From Bitter Fruit Of Palestine by Richard Morris
August 17 2012

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Tunisia: Al-Nahda’s Failures Lead Sidi Bouzid to Rise Again

Protesters shout slogans calling for the release of other protesters, who were arrested after clashes with police late last week, outside a court in Sidi Bouzid 14 August 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Zoubeir Souissi)
Published Friday, August 17, 2012

On Tuesday August 14, the central Tunisian governorate of Sidi Bouzid held a general strike to call for the release of several protesters detained during the demonstrations held over the preceding weeks and to demand concrete plans for development in the region.

Tuesday’s events come after a series of city-wide general strikes which, from the month of May, have swept through Tataouine, Monastir, Kasserine and Kairouan. The recent events in Sidi Bouzid, cradle of the Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, should be considered the culmination of an extended standoff, not only between the al-Nahda-led ruling coalition and Tunisia’s main trade union federation, the UGTT, but also between those in power and those who are yet to see the revolutionary demands of “work, freedom, and national dignity” realized.
One year celebration of the Arab Spring in Sidi Bouzid

Tensions in Sidi Bouzid have been mounting over a period of months. However, the origins of this most recent wave of unrest can be linked to July 26 when a large number of day workers in the region attacked the al-Nahda party offices in protest at a two-month delay in their wages being paid. The Interior Ministry estimated the numbers involved at 150 while union officials claimed more than 1,000 took part.
The response of al-Nahda to these events was typical. Refusing to recognise the genuine demands of the chronically unemployed and disenfranchised in the southern regions of Tunisia, party officials claimed that those demonstrating had been manipulated by rival political parties, seeking to sow instability and dissent for their own ends. The police fired warning shots and tear gas canisters to disperse the protest.

Tensions have been further exacerbated in recent months by ongoing water shortages in the region. Over the past six months, drinking water has commonly only been available in the evenings and has occasionally been cut off for the entire day. Mohamed Najib Mansouri, the governor of Sidi Bouzid, claimed that one of the reasons for these shortages was the failure of residents to pay their bills. It is more likely that the local infrastructure has been unable to sustain the increased consumption of water during an especially hot and dry summer.

On Thursday August 9, a protest was organised by the December 17th Progressive Forces Front in conjunction with the December 17th Committee for the Protection of the Revolution, the UGTT and a number of opposition parties.

As well as demands for a guaranteed supply of water to the region, the protesters’ demands included the settlement of the status of workers, the resignation of the regional commander of the National Guard, the resignation of Governor Mohamed Najib Mansouri and the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, in view of its failure to respond to the legitimate demands of the residents of Sidi Bouzid.
In response to the protests, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowds. One man was hospitalised having been struck in the stomach by a rubber bullet and four others were taken to hospital after inhaling tear gas.

Following these events, al-Nahda once again ignored the grievances of those protesting, this time claiming that rival party Nidaa Tunis was behind the protests. Indeed, a spokesperson from the ruling Islamist movement went so far as to claim that Nidaa Tunis, created in June of this year by former interim prime minister Beji Essebsi, represented the political arm of Ben Ali’s defunct Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party and that they had “proof that some figures within the region known to be close to Nidaa Tunis sided with criminals, thieves and alcohol vendors to spread anarchy in Sidi Bouzid”.

Despite President Moncef Marzouki’s efforts to quell the the growing tension in the region, the general strike went ahead on Tuesday with over 1,000 protesters assembling outside the court house.
The events of recent weeks mark a significant development in the mounting levels of anger at the failures of the majority Islamist party. More than the ruling coalition as a whole, it is now al-Nahda which is perceived to be behind the lack of real progress in Tunisia. What’s more, one should not be surprised at the police’s violent handling of these protests. Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and Interior Minister Ali Larayedh have previously made it clear that they are willing to use force in order to maintain order in the country. Sadok Chourou, a prominent figure within the al-Nahda ranks claimed in January that strikers were “enemies of God” and that they should suffer the same fate as apostates.
It is the protesters themselves who are blamed for the ongoing instability within Tunisia and not the failures of the ruling coalition and, specifically, al-Nahda. And yet, one need only look at actions of the ruling parties in order to see the falsity of such a claim. Negotiations up until now have been dogged by political outbidding and brinkmanship which has severely hindered the transitional process, as seen in al-Nahda’s attempts to prevent the transition to an independent judiciary, its decision to level a sentence of up to two years for attacks on “sacred values” or its recent rewording of the draft constitution to define the status of women as “complementary to men.”

Furthermore, the economic alternatives being proposed will likely do little to alleviate the situation of many in the southern regions of Tunisia which have traditionally suffered from high levels of unemployment and a lack of investment. Relying principally on foreign and private investment, the government aims to to provide 100,000 more jobs in Tunisia and predicts a level of 3.5 percent GDP growth for 2012. The latter of these two predictions seems increasingly unlikely considering that Tunisia has, to date, experienced four consecutive quarters of negative growth. With levels of unemployment at 18.1 percent, the aim to create 100,000 jobs will also do little to abate social unrest in a country which counts over 709,000 (of an active workforce of 3.9 million) unemployed.

With Minister for Investment Riadh Bettaib announcing last Friday that Tunisia can expect to receive a further $1 billion in World Bank loans alongside his continued insistence on boosting foreign direct investment (FDI) and tourism revenues, it is clear that the proposed model for economic development differs very little from the neoliberal agenda of the former regime.
Of course, alongside the social context of these protests, one must also take into account the political dimension of what is occurring. Tuesday’s general strike was called by the UGTT and the protests of the past week have found support among a broad range of opposition political parties, including the centrist Republican Party, al-Watan (The Nation), and several leftist parties, including the Workers’ Party. While it is important not to discount the role played by opposition political forces in these mobilisations, it remains the case that the principal drivers of this spell of popular contestation have been the young and unemployed in the region whose demands, as has commonly been the case, are channeled through the UGTT. Malek Khadraoui, a writer and activist who has been present throughout the latest wave of strikes and protests in Sidi Bouzid, further comments that, while some opposition parties may be seeking to capitalize on recent events, “the youth in the region harbour a deep distrust towards political parties” and the real cause of these events is the inability of the ruling coalition, and particularly al-Nahda, to respond to their demands.
It is difficult to predict where this latest spell of social upheaval is headed. An International Crisis Group report published this June remarked that it would be an exaggeration to “raise the spectre of a second insurrection,” but that the continued political instability within Tunisia alongside sustained levels of socioeconomic insecurity could “negatively feed on each other and risk snowballing into a legitimacy crisis for the newly elected government.”
In the same report, economist Lotfi Bouzaiane comments that one of the principal demands of the revolution was “the right to work.” Prior to the revolution, he says, it was Ben Ali who insisted that “to find work you just had to wait for the economy to grow!”

Following this latest wave of strikes and demonstrations, it is becoming ever more difficult to distinguish between the rhetoric of the former regime and Tunisia’s new ruling coalition, so committed is it to denouncing any expression of popular dissent in the name of national stability and economic growth. In the absence of any real answers to the demands of those in Sidi Bouzid and elsewhere, the government is increasingly having recourse to violent means of repression. It appears that Tunisia’s uncommonly hot summer may precede an even hotter Autumn.

Christopher Barrie is a student and journalist currently working in Tunisia at Nawaat.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect Al-Akhbar's editorial policy.

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