Saturday, 4 September 2010

“Hezbollah Has 15,000 Rockets on Border”

04/09/2010 Hezbollah has an arsenal of approximately 15,000 rockets amassed on Lebanon's border with Israel, including some with a long enough range to hit the southern city of Eilat, US envoy Michael Oren told AFP on Friday.

"The Syrian-Iranian backed Hezbollah poses a very serious threat to Israel...Hezbollah today now has four times as many rockets as it had during the 2006 Lebanon war. These rockets are longer-range. Every city in Israel is within range right now, including Eilat," he said.

Oren expressed Israeli concerns with “Hezbollah’s concealment of the weapons as well.” "In 2006, many of their missiles were basically out in the open, in silos and the Israeli air force was able to neutralize a great number of them...Today those same missiles have been placed under hospitals, and homes and schools because Hezbollah knows full well if we try to defend ourselves against them, we will be branded once again as war criminals," he claimed.

This was not the first time that Oren has warned of the threat that Hezbollah poses to Israel. Following a clash on the northern border between the Lebanese Army and Israeli occupation army soldiers last month, Oren warned that the distinction between Lebanon's Army and Hezbollah has become "cloudy." He expressed concerns that advanced weaponry given to the regular army could find its way into the hands of the resistance group.

Following the border clashes and Oren's warnings, the US Congress voted to suspend $100 million in aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces.
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Hamas Vows to Attack More Settlers

04/09/2010 A Hamas spokesman told Arab language newspaper Al-Hayat that the group intends to continue its attacks on settlers because they are "legitimate targets" on Saturday.

Azat al-Ghashek reportedly said that "Zionist settlers" made up an entire army living on occupied land, with a large cache of weapons at their disposal.

"Hurting Zionist settlers is a natural thing… they now constitute an actual army, in the full sense of the word. They have more than a half a million automatic weapons, in addition to the basic protection granted them by the occupation army," al-Ghashek said.

The spokesman made the comments in an interview with the newspaper, adding that the peace talks launched on Thursday in Washington were nothing but a "media circus."

On Thursday, Reuters reported that thirteen Gaza resistance groups have joined forces to launch a wave of attacks against Israel.

When asked if the renewed attacks would include suicide bombings, the Hamas spokesman reportedly answered: "All options are open."

Hamas's representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, was also interviewed by the paper. He did not disguise his hope that the attack would hinder the talks, and condemned Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad for speaking out against it.

"Fayyad was the first to condemn the move. The security forces under him in the West Bank are hurting the resistance, and their job is to maintain Israel's security… They serve the enemy," he said.

Also on Thursday, Hamas condemned the launch of direct talks, saying its goal is to "liquidate" the Palestinian cause, and accusing Abbas of allowing Israel to build settlements in the West Bank and denying refugees' "right of return."

Earlier this week, Hamas claimed responsibility for two attacks on Israelis: one, which killed four, and another that injured two. Both were shootings that took place in the occupied West Bank.

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Arab League Asshole: This round of Israeli-Palestinian Talks Will Be the Last

04/09/2010 Arab League chief Amr Moussa predicted on Friday that the latest round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will be the last.

Israeli-Palestinian talks resumed in Washington this week and are meant to continue later this month.

Speaking at a news conference in Italy, Moussa said Arabs are ready for full peace with Israel in exchange for a pullout from the lands Israel occupied in 1967, including occupied East Jerusalem.

He continued by stressing that Arabs were ready to have normal relations with Israel and that there was no alternative but to achieve a real peace.

Moussa's remarks sharply contrast comments he made this past Sunday, when he said that he had little hope that direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians would be successful.

"We are hoping that talks will succeed but we are all very pessimistic about the viability of the peace process because of the past experience," Moussa told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a political conference in Slovenia on Sunday.

"The only reason [for the hope in the success of the talks] is the sincerity of President Obama and his wish to achieve something good in his presidency," Moussa said.

He said Obama had given the Palestinians assurances that Israel would stop settling new territory during talks that are due to last for one year.

"If we find that during that year Israel continues to build settlements, there is no use in waiting for the full year [of talks]" Moussa said.

The 10-month freeze is set to expire on September 26. Palestinian officials have declared that talks would break down if Israel resumed construction in the settlements after that date. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has remained mum on whether or not he would extend the moratorium.

Aides to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told the Arabic language London-based newspaper Al-Hayat on Saturday that the skepticism which plagued the Palestinian camp prior to the relaunch of direct Middle East peace talks has all but disappeared.

Speaking at the launch of direct talks on Thursday, Abbas urged Israel to end construction in the West Bank settlements, on land that the Palestinians seek for a future state, saying that negotiations would face many hurdles, but that the goals were clear and the path to an enduring peace was known to both sides.

"We call on the Israeli government to move forward with its commitment to end all settlement activities and completely lift the embargo over the Gaza Strip," Abbas said.

According to the Al Hayat report on Saturday, those close to the Palestinian president claimed the atmosphere in the Palestinian delegation to the peace talks in Washington had "changed by 180 degrees" from the hesitance which prevailed prior to their arrival at Washington.

Sources told the London-based newspaper that the reasons for the change in attitude were both the United States' desire to settle all final-status issues within one year as well as U.S. pressure on Israel to extent its soon-to-be-expired moratorium on settlement building.

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Hamas official: Israeli settlers are a legitimate military target

Member of Hamas' politburo says settlers posses more than half a million automatic weapons, as well as being regularly supported by IDF troops.

Israeli settlers in the West Bank are legitimate targets since they are an army in every sense of the word, a senior Hamas official told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper on Saturday, adding that Palestinians were still committed to an armed struggle against Israel.

Israel police and IDF troops at the scene of the West Bank shooting on Sept. 1, 2010.
Photo by: Emil Salman
The comment by Ezzat al-Rashk, a member of Hamas's political office, came in the wake of recent attacks against Israeli citizens in the West Bank.

On Tuesday, four Israelis were killed when unknown assailants opened fire at a vehicle they were traveling in near the West Bank city of Hebron. The following night, two Israelis were wounded in a similar shooting attack at the Rimonim Junction near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Earlier Thursday, Palestinian sources told Haaretz that the Palestinian security forces had apprehended two Hamas-affiliated Hebron residents suspected to have been involved in the deadly shooting attack on Tuesday.

The attacks coincided with the launch of U.S.-sponsored direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in Washington. The Islamist Palestinian group Hamas has come out vocally against the talks. Claiming responsibility for Tuesday's and Wednesday's shootings, Hamas vowed to carry out further attacks.

"Attacking settlers is a natural thing," al-Rashk told Al-Hayat on Saturday, saying the "Zionist settlers are the occupation's first reserve military force."

"They are now a real army in every sense of the word, with more than 500,000 automatic weapons at their disposal, on top of the basic protection by the [Israel Defense Forces]," the Hamas official said.

Al-Rashk also referred to the ongoing attempt to relaunch talks between Israel and the PA, saying they were noting more "than a media circus through which the U.S. administration wants to market its policy."

Another Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, the organization's Lebanon spokesperson, told the London-based newspaper that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was willing to forfeit "99 percent of the Palestinians' rights, saying negotiations were over before they even began.

The comments by the two Hamas strongmen came as a Qassam rocket was fired by militants from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, exploding in an open field in the western Negev. No injuries were reported.

Also read:
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German newspaper: Abbas an out-of-date puppet

[ 04/09/2010 - 04:46 PM ]

BERLIN, (PIC)-- The German Yungas Welt newspaper described de facto Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas as “Washington's puppet”, adding that he “has expired”, arguing that direct talks between the Oslo authority and Israel “were dead at birth”.

“One of the reasons for this description goes back to the state of the leaders participating in the negotiations.

The Israeli side led by extreme rightist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a Palestinian team headed by a puppet purchased by Washington, Mahmoud Abbas,” wrote Rob Reiner the paper's political editor.

“Barack Obama, the official sponsor of these negotiations, was supposed to be a neutral and impartial mediator, but turned into a small device in Israel’s bag after repeatedly bowing down to the lobby in support of those in Washington and Israel,” he added.

“Most surprisingly, Abbas, who presents himself in these negotiations as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians, has in fact lost legal authority after the end of his term in January 2009,” the analyst went on to say.

“How can Abbas approve without a democratic mandate historic decisions that will have a heavy impact on the issue of Palestine?”

“Netanyahu’s strong sense of Obama’s bias and inability to oppose him has encouraged him to announce before talks in Washington began that he would not offer any concessions or extend the settlement freeze set to end this fall,” he concluded.

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Erekat's apology for Israelis widely deplored

[ 04/09/2010 - 10:14 AM ]


The Remarks made lately by chief negotiator of the Palestinian authority Saeb Erekat in which he begged peace from Israelis and apologized to them for past mistakes made by the Palestinians received wide condemnation from the Palestinians at home and abroad.

His reprehensible remarks, which were posted on Youtube, were part of mass media campaign funded by USAID organization. The PA initiated the campaign on august 28 under the title "We are partners, what are you?" in order to address the Israeli citizens and convince them of the two-state solution.

De facto president Mahmoud Abbas and a group of his entourage including Salam Fayyad, Riyadh Al-Malki, Jibril Rajoub and Yasser Abdelrabbo participated in this campaign.

"Shalom to you in Israel, I know we have disappointed you, I know we have been unable to deliver peace for the last 19 years," Erekat started his speech addressing Israelis.

"I am your partner. Are you mine?" he concluded.

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Maqdesi: Israel's violations against Palestinians in J'lem ongoing

[ 04/09/2010 - 04:34 PM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Al-Maqdesi for society development (MSD) foundation said in its weekly report that Israel is still persistent in its violations against the Palestinian citizens in occupied Jerusalem, especially the demolition of their homes.

MSD's report, that covers the violations between August 27 and the second of September, explained that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) still prevent the Palestinians from building homes on their own lands, adding that 600 Bedouin families living in the area between Jerusalem and Ariha are facing displacement after they received evacuation orders lately.

The violations mentioned in this report are many including the restrictions imposed on the Palestinians' travel and movement, and the arbitrary detention of Jerusalemite lawmakers.

The report also highlighted the Judaization projects in Jerusalem including the building of an underground shrine below Al-Buraq wall (wailing wall) and a plan to market Palestinian archaeological sites as Jewish ones in the context of Israel's scheme to create fake antiquities referring to its alleged temple of Solomon.

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Sayyed Nasrallah: Mideast Peace Talks Are "Born-Dead"

Hussein Assi



Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said on Friday that the so-called Middle East peace talks were stillborn and doomed, stressing that Jerusalem cannot be the eternal capital of the illegal State of Israel.

His eminence said that the Israeli enemy is facing a lot of challenges, emphasizing that the American-Israeli scheme has failed and that the one representing the Resistance has won although the conflict didn’t reach its end yet.

While renewing commitment to the equation of “army, nation and resistance,” Sayyed Nasrallah said that Burj Abi Haidar incident was tragic and individual, condemning the reactions of some Lebanese politicians who chose to exploit it for political purposes. His eminence also reiterated that Hezbollah is not concerned with the international tribunal or with the UN probe.

Sayyed Nasrallah was speaking through a large TV screen while commemorating Al-Quds Day in Sayyed As-Shouhadaa’s complex in Beirut’s southern suburb.


Hezbollah Secretary General began his speech in “the best day of the best month” by paying tribute to the Palestinian cause as a noble cause that needs to be always remembered. “We fear that some causes would go away with time,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, while stressing that the nation could not ignore or forget the Palestinian cause “as it is a part of our religion, culture, civilization, ethics, values, history, present and future.”

According to his eminence, Al-Quds Day is the day of confirming the values and principles, not the day of declaring them. “Our principles are already declared and known. Therefore, Al-Quds Day is the day in which we renew our belief, we confirm them and announce commitment to our goals.”

“Today we say to the whole world that the challenges have not changed a single letter in our fundamental principles, although some fell in the middle of the road,” his eminence said, recalling the principles which say that the whole Palestine is the right of the Palestinian people and that nobody has the right to abandon any part of it.

“We tell the whole world again and again that Jerusalem cannot be the eternal capital of the so-called State of Israel, but is the capital of Palestine, the capital of heaven and earth,” Sayyed Nasrallah stressed. “Not even one street of Jerusalem can be the capital of the so-called Israel,” his eminence said, reiterating that Israel is an illegitimate state, inhumane which was built on the logic of massacres and killings. “Israel can’t get legitimacy no matter who acknowledges it. This is the logic of Al-Quds Day, the logic of saying the right things without surrender.”


Sayyed Nasrallah said that the so-called peace negotiations launched in Washington between the Israeli enemy and the Palestinians were “born dead.”

While rejecting the negotiations as “silly,” Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted the facts that the talks’ use was clear. “The political need ahead of the Congress elections in the United States is clear, the Israeli need is clear, and the need of some of the Arabs is also clear. These negotiations were born dead”

However, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that the majority of the Palestinian factions have rejected the talks.

“Some factions reject the simple principle of talking with the enemy. However, even the factions which do not discuss the principle, announced its rejection of the talks. All polls also showed that the majority of the Palestinian nation rejected the talks. Therefore, the talks are useless.”

His eminence added that the attempts of those who participated in negotiations in the past point to great frustration. “Unfortunately, the negotiations with this Israeli enemy in particular, this arrogant and patronizing enemy which is supported by the US and the West, have no results apart from legitimizing this illegitimate entity.”


Turning to the American withdrawal from Iraq, Sayyed Nasrallah read in it another proof of failure and defeat. “Not even one official in the US administration could speak about a victory. All their speeches were closer to defeat speeches. Even those who spoke about accomplishments did with modesty. They were seeking to justify their withdrawal.”

While distinguishing between the Iraqi Resistance which used to target the US occupation forces in the country and other terrorist factions which sought to promote conflict among Iraqis, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that the Iraqi resistance was the main factor that contributed to accelerating the American humiliating withdrawal.

“Yet, there’s another very important factor that made the withdrawal the only possible option for the Americans. It’s the Iraqi nation’s steadfastness. Since many years, there was a serious plot to push the Iraqi nation into civil war and sectarian strife. That’s why we should salute the Iraqi nation after defeating all suspicious schemes. Who could bear such level of scaring daily explosions without being pushed into civil strife? Yet, the oppressed Iraqi nation was stronger than the plot.”

Sayyed Nasrallah pointed to the Israeli potential role in Iraq. “If the level of the Israeli spying activities in Lebanon is so high, what can we say about the Israeli espionage in Iraq, amid an American occupation?” his eminence wondered. “All of us know that having a strong and unified Iraq is a red line for Israel. That’s why Israel believes it should word day and night to promote conflicts among Iraqis. Thanks God, and despite all massacres, Israel failed and Iraqis exceeded this stage. When the sedition choice falls, there’s no choice other than withdrawal.”


Hezbollah Secretary General then said that the Resistance axis was able during the last decade to achieve an exceptional and historical accomplishment at the level of the region, an accomplishment which would have repercussions worldwide.

His eminence recalled of the “New Mideast” theory raised by the Americans who came to the region with the aim to impose a humiliating compromise on Arabs. "After the September 11 attacks, the neo-conservatives came to the White House with a plan for the entire regime called 'the great Middle East.' The essence of the plan was stabilizing Israel's status and strengthening it though a "shameful agreement" which would be imposed on the Palestinians with a comprehensive Arab agreement. They came with the goal to destroy the entire resistance – military, political and cultural.”

“They wanted to delete the Resistance from Palestine to Lebanon and Iraq, not only the armed Resistance but even the political and popular one. They wanted to impose a humiliating compromise and were not ready to face any Resistance. They also wanted to topple the resistance regime in Syria, absolutely dominate Iraq. They wanted to isolate Iran and end its Islamic regime.”

“I can say that this scheme was strong. Yet, the Resistance axis could achieve victory, despite the difference in competences and capabilities. The other scheme was defeated. But this doesn’t mean that the conflict has ended. We turned to another form of the conflict. The United States is not launching wars in the region not because it has modified its norms and ethics, but simply because it’s unable of launching new wars following its defeat.”

“Why did we succeed?

It’s mainly thanks to the steadfastness of the Resistance in Palestine and Lebanon, the steadfastness of the political will in Lebanon, the steadfastness of people in Syria and Iraq.

Today, we’re invited to continue the path. We feel that we’re closer than ever to the victory. Mighty Israel is gone. Israel today is facing a lot of challenges. We need to strengthen our unity and coherence. We are concerned more than ever to provide support for the Palestinian resistance. It’s the only way to liberate Al-Quds and Palestine.”


Turning to Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah renewed commitment to the golden equation of “army, nation and Resistance.”

His eminence raised the anniversary of the disappearance of Imam Mussa Sadr and his two companions. “Imam Sadr is the Resistance’s Imam. He’s our leader and father. He was the one who taught us how to love Al-Quds and how to fight occupation. We know that he was in Libya when he disappeared. Speaker Nabih Berri spoke on Tuesday about this issue.

I won’t repeat but I will confirm every word he said in this issue at all levels.”

According to Sayyed Nasrallah, the justice should assume its responsibilities. “We did not take the issue of Imam Moussa Sadr’s disappearance to the International Tribunal. We say it out loud: Imam Sadr and his two companions are being held in Libya and they should be released.”


In another topic, Sayyed Nasrallah said he will not respond to requests by Special Tribunal for Lebanon Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare because the Resistance group is not concerned with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

“We are not concerned with the International Tribunal and, therefore, we will not respond to Bellemare's requests,” Sayyed Nasrallah said.

“In case the Lebanese judiciary had some questions and requests, we’re ready. But in case, the role of the Lebanese judiciary was only to mediate between Hezbollah and Bellemare, then we’re not ready because we’re not concerned with the STL Prosecutor.

If the Lebanese judiciary was interested in interrogating spies and false witnesses, we’re ready for every possible cooperation. But, it’s the last of our concerns whether Bellemare is interested or not.”


Hezbollah Secretary General then turned to the second part of the equation: the army. His eminence renewed calls to provide the national army with advanced weapons. “We already submitted a proposal to ask Arab States for help. We renew our proposal. It’s their duty to help Lebanon. Lebanon is the reason making Arabs proud of their Arabic identity. We have to urge them to provide us with their unused weapons. We also said we’re ready to help in calling for Iranian aid. Iranians said they were ready.”


Turning into the Burj Abi Haidar incident, Sayyed Nasrallah said the incident was really tragic. “I told our brothers that we didn’t only lose two martyrs in this incident. We actually lost three. It is a tragic, individual incident that has no political overtones. It’s a complete loss for us at all levels, humanly, morally and politically.”

Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that the incident was an individual one which developed in a very sad way. “But I can assure you the incident has no political backgrounds.

All what you heard of political analyses is not true.

I can assure all those claiming that the incident was a reflection of a so-called Syrian-Iranian conflict; Syrian-Iranian ties are stronger than ever.” (He assured that Hezbullah-Syrian ties are stonger than ever)


Sayyed Nasrallah, meanwhile, said the media over-estimated and amplified the incident. “There’s also the exploitation. We stayed silent for more than three days because we were injured. But what did they do? Despite seeking to prevent sedition as we did with the Ahbash, they did absolutely the opposite.

This is a very dangerous exploitation that threatens security and stability. This is not how we should deal with very dangerous and sensitive issues. This is not how statesmen and party leaders should work.”

Meanwhile, Sayyed Nasrallah criticized the fact that some politicians made use of the incident to open huge topics such as the weapons file in Lebanon.

“This is a long methodology. It’s impossible to solve such a file in two or three days.

There are weapons in every house in Lebanon. It’s a very complicated file and therefore, it needs time and wisdom. That’s why I call for a consensus on putting a methodology to administer the country’s files, far from reactions.”


To conclude, Sayyed Nasrallah raised the issue of the rights of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. “What happened at the Parliament needs discussion. What happened is good, but not enough. The refugees were not satisfied, but at the same time, there are legal and justifiable worries. There should be serious discussions to think of a way to unify the worries and the rights and needs.”

In conclusion, Sayyed Nasrallah said that the Resistance feels that it’s closer to Al-Quds than ever. “The issue with the Zionist scheme is only a matter of time,” his eminence said, renewing that the Zionist entity is entitled to “vanish” sooner or later.

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Angry crowds meet Blair at book signing

From: AlJazeeraEnglish | September 04, 2010 
 Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been met by angry crowds in Dublin as he arrived to promote his memoirs. Shoes, eggs and plastic bottles were hurled in his direction. This was Blair's first public signing session since his Book, titled "A Journey" was launched earlier this week.

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Haneyya: PA's talks with the occupation state will fail

[ 04/09/2010 - 10:06 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian premier Ismail Haneyya stated Friday that the fate of the Palestinian authority's direct talks with Israelis would end in failure because the occupation state only moves to consolidate its Zionist project at the expense of the Palestinian cause.

The premier made his remarks in a meeting held in Deir Al-Balah area in central Gaza Strip to distribute financial aid to the owners of homes that were damaged during the last Israeli war on Gaza.

Haneyya highlighted that the PA-Israeli negotiations are a frivolous political process that were emerged from the Zio-American conditions and the Palestinian and Arab impotence.

He also hailed the Palestinian masses at home and abroad who went on marches in protest at the negotiations and to confirm their support for the Palestinian cause and the occupied city of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Palestine.

The premier emphasized the Palestinian resistance's right to respond to Israel's crimes by all means available as long as the Palestinian land is occupied, holding the occupation responsible for the Palestinian people's increasing suffering in their homeland.

During the meeting, the Palestinian premier handed owners of destroyed homes financial aid worth in total $200, 000, affirming that this governmental assistance cannot make up for one drop of the Palestinian blood and is not equal to the size of sacrifices made by the Palestinians.

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Settling Palestine for ....peace!

Svia Friday-Lunch-Club

The Israeli flag is a clear signal: An army commander told the newspaper Maariv that settlers could flood the West Bank "with thousands of homes." He fears they will advance at night with dozens of concrete mixers and begin pouring walls. The army would not be able to do anything about it, said the Israeli commander

Posted by G, Z, or B at 10:00 PM

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Support for Omar Suleiman 'embarassed the Mubarak Regime'..."

ملصقات لعمر سليمان تحيط بأخرى لجمال مبارك في شوارع الجيزة بالقاهرة (أ ب)
Omar Suleiman 'besieging' Gamal Mubarak?

"Posters supporting Egypt's intelligence chief as a candidate in next year's presidential election were removed from Cairo's streets hours after they appeared, while an independent newspaper was ordered to pull reports of the campaign from its pages, officials said Friday.
The swift reaction against the posters, which bore an image of Lt. Gen. Omar Suleiman in a dark business suit and sunglasses and waving his right hand, appeared to indicate that the campaign backing the enigmatic spy chief had embarrassed President Hosni Mubarak's regime...
The activists insist on anonymity, making it impossible to determine who or how popular they are..... Earlier this month, posters sprung up around Egypt supporting Gamal as a candidate for presidency.
In an indication of just how delicate the issue of who will succeed the elder Mubarak is, an official at the independent Al-Masry Al-Youm daily the paper was ordered to destroy 30,000 copies of the daily that carried reports of the Suleiman poster campaign. It was an unusual request for Egypt's largely vibrant press.The official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the printing house of a state-owned newspaper refused to print another batch of Al-Masry Al-Youm until news of the campaign was pulled from the front page....
Suleiman, 74, has been Egypt's intelligence chief for nearly two decades. He is in charge of Egypt's most pressing foreign policy issues, such as relations with Israel, the United States and neighboring Sudan. He rarely speaks to the media and, like most of those with intelligence or military backgrounds, is viewed positively by many Egyptians who look to him as a candidate that would keep Egypt's top job within the widely respected military..."
Posted by G, Z, or B at 9:21 PM

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Lebanon Complains to UN about Israel 'Spy Ring'

03/09/2010 Lebanon has filed a complaint with the United Nations over what it says is an Israeli spy ring in the country, giving a list of 141 suspected agents, a diplomat said on Friday.

"Lebanon has complained over Israel having set up an espionage network in several areas, notably those of national security, military security and the security of telecommunications, both mobile and fixed," the diplomat said.

The government wants the complaint to be placed on the agenda of the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly to be held in New York later this month.

Beirut "calls on the international organization to take note of the danger represented by this matter, which could be the prelude to a new aggression against Iran," the diplomat said.

More than 100 people have been arrested on suspicion of espionage since April 2009, including telecom employees, members of the security forces and active duty troops. Many of the suspects are accused of having helped Israel identify targets during its war against Lebanon in July 2006.

Five of those tried have been sentenced to death for spying for Israel's Mossad overseas intelligence service.

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"... The decline of Egypt is only the latest in a series of problematic developments for Washington in the region..."

Via friday-Lunch-Club

Winep's Schenker in the Weekly Standard:

"... under President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Cairo was the undisputed military and diplomatic power in the Middle East. Nasser's speeches mobilized crowds; his army toppled foreign governments.

Today, a once respected and feared Egypt is but a shadow of its former self. Mubarak appears tired and sick. Meanwhile, facing profound challenges at home and its first political transition in nearly three decades, Cairo has largely retreated from regional politics in favor of focusing on internal matters. On almost every front, Egypt evokes a waning regional power....

Mubarak's White House cameo notwithstanding, it's been years since Egypt has exercised significant diplomatic clout in the Middle East. Cairo's diplomacy has proved especially anemic with its Palestinian neighbors.

Egyptian officials, for example, state they would "not accept the establishment of an Islamic emirate" in Gaza. For the past three years, Cairo has tried to broker an agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to forestall this outcome. But that's all been to little avail. This lack of sway among Palestinians would have been unimaginable years ago. Just recall the 1995 signing of the Oslo II accords.
When then Palestinian ra'is Yassir Arafat balked at initialing the maps, Mubarak reportedly convinced Arafat to do so by ordering him to "sign you dog!"

Cairo's approach to the seeming dissolution of its southern neighbor, Sudan, has proved equally ineffective. Whether out of indolence or resignation, despite its professed desire to thwart an Islamic state in Gaza, Cairo appears indifferent to a similar prospect in Khartoum. In any event, notwithstanding the slaughter in Darfur, Egypt is said to only have some 4,000 troops stationed in Sudan and seems ambivalent about the impending division of its southern neighbor.

The most striking example of Egypt's diminished stature, however, concerns Cairo's access to water. The Nile River is the lifeblood of Egypt, providing nearly all of the state's water, and per a 1929 agreement, Egypt receives nearly 70 percent of the river's flow and veto power over all water projects in upstream riparian states. Recently, though, this Egyptian dominance of the Nile has come into question as members of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) have begun to agitate for a more equitable arrangement.
The fact that Cairo can neither persuade -- nor intimidate -- NBI member states Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania to continue the present arrangement speaks volumes as to Egypt's standing in Africa. With its population predicted to surge to 100 million by 2025, water could well constitute yet another Achilles heel for the state that Greek historian Herodotus once called "The Gift of the Nile."
For Egypt, none of this is good news. But for Washington -- which has since 1978 relied on Cairo as its key Arab partner -- the weakening of Egypt is yet another blow to an already shaky U.S. regional security architecture. Indeed, with Ankara moving away from its traditional alliance with Washington and a diminished Cairo looking inward, the Obama administration today has no militarily formidable Muslim partners to help counter the threat posed by Tehran.
But the impact of an increasingly diminished ally in Cairo goes beyond the crisis with Iran. When Egypt was strong, its powers of persuasion helped Washington articulate and promote policies advancing the causes of regional moderation and peace with Israel. Now that Egypt can no longer play this role, it will be harder for the U.S. to accomplish many of its policy goals in the Middle East.

Of course, the decline of Egypt is only the latest in a series of problematic developments for Washington in the region. The recent re-orientations of the Turkish and Lebanese governments away from the west and a strengthening Iranian-Syrian axis should constitute a clarion call to action for the Obama administration. Unless Washington does something dramatic to reverse it, the weakening of Egypt will constitute another example of diminishing American power in the region. "

Posted by G, Z, or B at 9:31 AM

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Middle East loses trillions as US strikes record arms deals

Via Redress

By Rick Rozoff

4 September 2010

Rick Rozoff views the United States’ growing arms exports to Middle East countries, which will spend an estimated 100 billion dollars on arms from the US by 2014, and the lost opportunities for development in a region that “has known the least peace in the past 60 years and that is in most need of it”.

The internet has provided the world with, if nothing else, instantaneous access to news and in-depth information previously available only to governments and think tanks. It has also allowed for the exchange of data and analyses between groups and individuals around the globe, in part by making one tongue, English, the language of the World Wide Web. It remains to be seen whether the keystroke is mightier than the sword.

An illustrative case in point is a report dated 29 August from China's Xinhua News Agency on a news article by Egypt's Middle East News Agency regarding a study conducted by the Strategic Foresight Group in India. The study, published in a book entitled The Cost of Conflict in the Middle East, calculates that conflict in the area over the last 20 years has cost the nations and people of the region 12 trillion US dollars.

Lost opportunities
The Indian report adds that the Middle East has had "a high record of military expenses in the past 20 years and is considered the most armed region in the world".

The study was originally released in January 2009 and was recently translated into Arabic by the Institute for Peace Studies of Egypt. It estimates that in a peaceful environment the nations of the Middle East could have achieved an average annual growth in gross domestic product of 8 per cent.

Sundeep Waslekar, President of the Strategic Foresight Group and one of the report's authors, was quoted in January 2009 saying of the region's nations: "The choice they have to make is the choice between the danger of devastation and the promise of peace." (Reuters news agency, 23 January 2009)

An account of the presentation of the report last year added that the cost of conflict in the region is estimated at 2 per cent of growth in gross domestic product.

In regards to specific cases, it stated:

One conclusion is that individuals in most countries are half as rich as they would have been if peace had taken off in 1991.

Incomes per head in Israel next year would be 44,241 dollars with peace against a likely 23,304 dollars. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip they would be 2,427 dollars instead of 1,220 dollars.

For Iraq, income per head next year is projected at 2,375 dollars, one quarter of the 9,681 dollars that would have been possible without the conflicts of the past two decades. (Reuters, 23 January 2009)

Other sources estimate the overall rate of unemployment in the Middle East at 20-25 per cent, with joblessness in nations like Lebanon and Yemen at 30 per cent or more. This despite the fact that the region has achieved one of the world’s more impressive successes in improving educational opportunities, measured by the number of years students spend in school.

“The Middle East requires comprehensive regional development, but instead is receiving billions of dollars worth of arms.”

The Middle East requires comprehensive regional development, but instead is receiving billions of dollars worth of arms. The area's nations could be spending that sum on rural and urban infrastructure, dams and reservoirs, desalination and irrigation, forestation and fisheries, industry and agriculture, medicine and public health, housing and information technology, equitable integration of cities and villages, and repairing the ravages of past wars rather than on US warplanes, attack helicopters and interceptor missiles.

A 100-billion-dollar bonanza
In 2009, an American news report revealed that, according to a US-based consultancy firm, several Middle Eastern nations were set to spend over 100 billion dollars on weapons in the upcoming five years. Most of those arms purchases -- "unprecedented packages" – would be undertaken by Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the "core of this arms-buying spree will undoubtedly be the 20-billion-dollar US package of weapons systems over 10 years for the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council -- Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain". The expansion of American arms sales and military presence in the Persian Gulf targets Iran in the first place.

The same feature documented plans for the US to supply Egypt with a 13-billion-dollar arms package and Israel with 30 billion dollars in weaponry over 10 years, the latter "a 25-per-cent increase over previous levels". (United Press International, 25 August 2009)

A year later it was disclosed that Washington will sell 13-billion-dollars worth of arms and military equipment to Iraq, "a huge order of tanks, ships and hardware that US officials say shows Iraqi-US military ties will be tight for years to come". A 3-billion-dollar deal for 18 F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole jet fighters is also in the works. Iraq will become one of the largest purchasers of US weapons in the world.

According to the US army's Lieutenant-General Michael Barbero, senior American officer in charge of training and advising Iraqi troops, such military agreements help "build their capabilities, first and foremost; and second, it builds our strategic relationship for the future". (USA Today, 31 August 2010)

With 4.7 million Iraqis displaced since 2003, 2.2 million as refugees in Jordan, Syria and other nations, and a near collapse of the nation's civilian infrastructure since the US invasion, surely there are better ways of spending 16 billion dollars than on American arms.

The Gulf
To Iraq's south, last month the US announced one of the largest weapons sales in its history: a 60-billion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon notified Congress of the colossal transaction which the US legislative body will approve later this month.

Over the next decade Washington will supply Saudi Arabia with F-15SA Strike Eagle jet fighters (SA is for Saudi Advanced), 72 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, 60 AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, helicopter-carrying offshore patrol vessels and upgrades for the 96 Patriot Advanced Capability-2 interceptor missiles already stationed in the kingdom.

Last month Kuwait announced that it planned to purchase more than 200 US Patriot anti-ballistic missiles in a 900 million dollar deal. The US Defence Department also advised Congress of that transaction, stating "Kuwait needs these missiles to meet current and future threats of enemy air-to-ground weapons".

The news agency which reported the above, Agence France-Presse, also provided the following information: “The US has several military bases in Kuwait, including Camp Arifjan, one of the biggest US military facilities in the region. There are between 15,000 and 20,000 US troops stationed in Kuwait." (Agence France-Press, 1 September 2010) The American Fifth Fleet is headquartered in neighbouring Bahrain.

The US is also providing Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates with Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile interception batteries.

Last year Washington approved the transfer of a Terminal High Altitude Air Defence (THAAD) missile shield system to the United Arab Emirates. The deal, estimated to cost 7 billion dollars, is the first transfer of the advanced interceptor missiles outside the US.

Israel and Egypt
In May the Barack Obama administration requested 205 million dollars from Congress for the Israeli Iron Dome layered interceptor missile shield, in the words of a Pentagon spokesman "the first direct US investment in the Iron Dome system". (Reuters, 13 May 2010)

In the autumn of 2008 the US opened an interceptor missile radar base in Israel's Negev Desert centred on a Forward-Based X-Band Radar with a range of 2,900 miles.

This August 15 Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak announced his country is to receive -- one can't say buy - 20 US F-35 Joint Strike Fighters worth 96 million dollars apiece along with spare parts, maintenance and simulators. "The 2.7-billion-dollar-deal will be paid for using US military assistance." (Russian Information Agency Novosti, 15 August 2010) The fifth generation stealth warplanes are the world's most advanced. According to Israeli government sources, in reference to the prospect of eventual deployment of Russian air defences to Iran and Syria, "the purchase of F-35 fighters would effectively eliminate the threat from Russian-made S-300 air defence systems because a series of computer simulations had clearly demonstrated that new US stealth fighters outperform the Russian missiles".

This year the US State Department confirmed that 2.55 billion dollars in US military assistance was given to Israel in 2009 and that the figure will "increase to 3 billion dollars in 2012, and will total 3.15 billion dollars a year from 2013 to 2018". (Reuters, 13 May 2010) That is, it will grow by almost 25 per cent.

Since the administration of Jimmy Carter and his National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski bought off Anwar Sadat and through him Egypt in 1978 at the expense of Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and other Arab states, Washington has provided Cairo with 1.3 billion dollars a year in military aid, adding up to 50 billion dollars by 2008.

In January of this year, General David Petraeus, then head of US Central Command and now in charge of 150,000 American and NATO troops in Afghanistan, visited Yemen and called for more than doubling military aid to the strife-torn nation from 70 to 150 million dollars annually. He was later forced to retract his comments, but the Wall Street Journal reported on 2 September that "The US military's Central Command has proposed pumping as much as 1.2 billion dollars over five years into building up Yemen's security forces." The United Nations Statistics Division estimated Yemeni gross national income per capita for 2008 at 1,260 dollars.

The US has launched several missile strikes inside Yemen over the past nine months and "US Special Operations teams … play an expansive role in the country". (Wall Street Journal, 2 September 2010) Funding for what the Pentagon describes as a counterterrorism programme in the country has grown from 5 million dollars a year in fiscal year 2006 to over 155 million dollars four years later.

Washington is planning to add unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) equipped with lethal missiles operated by the Central Intelligence Agency to its operations in Yemen, replicating the same arrangement in Pakistan.

“The (by Lebanese standards) unprecedented donations of arms and military equipment by the Pentagon were explicitly for internal use -- against Hezbollah -- and for deployment at the Syrian border. Not for defending the nation against the country that had invaded it in 1978, 1983 and 2006 - Israel.”

After the so-called Cedar Revolution in Lebanon in 2005 -- modeled after comparable "colour revolutions" in the former Soviet states of Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan in 2003, 2004 and 2005 respectively -- led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country and the installation of pro-Western Fouad Siniora as prime minister, the US re-established military contacts with Lebanon, which had been broken off after 1983. A dozen US military officials travelled to Beirut at the end of the year, inspecting bases as part of a "comprehensive assessment of the condition of US-made equipment in the Lebanon armed forces". (Chicago Tribune, 2 March 2006)

After the Israeli invasion of the country the following summer, Washington started military aid to the nation of four million people which two years later had exceeded 410 million dollars. According to an Associated Press account in 2008, "The [George W. Bush] administration has spent about 1.3 billion dollars in the past two years trying to prop up Siniora's Western-allied government, including about 400 million dollarsin military aid". (Associated Press, 14 May 2008)

On 6 October 2008, the US established a joint military commission with Lebanon "to bolster military cooperation".

The (by Lebanese standards) unprecedented donations of arms and military equipment by the Pentagon were explicitly for internal use -- against Hezbollah -- and for deployment at the Syrian border. Not for defending the nation against the country that had invaded it in 1978, 1983 and 2006 -- Israel.

On 2 August this year, a day before two Lebanese soldiers were killed in a firefight with Israeli troops on Lebanese territory, Congressman Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, blocked a 100-million-dollars security assistance package to the Lebanese military. There should be no misunderstanding: the Pentagon has not built up the armed forces of post-"Cedar" Lebanon to defend the nation, its people or even the army itself.

The sum blocked by Berman, added to that already provided by the Pentagon, well exceeds half a billion dollars. That amount of money would go a long way in alleviating the suffering of 900,000 Lebanese displaced and in rebuilding some of the 30,000 housing units destroyed by the Israeli military in 2006.

Weapons are the most expensive of manufactured goods and the least productive, generating no value and designed only to destroy and kill. They are not produced solely or primarily to be displayed in parades or at air shows.

The Middle East is that part of the world that has known the least peace in the past 60 years and that is in most need of it. Regional disputes -- over land and borders, over water and other resources -- need to be resolved in a non-antagonistic manner.

The foreign and national security policies of the region's states need to be demilitarized. Disarmament of both conventional and nuclear forces is imperative.

Washington pouring over 100 billion dollars in news arms into the Middle East will not contribute to the safety and security of its inhabitants. It will not benefit the nations of the region. In truth, not a single one of them.


Rick Rozoff runs the blog ‘Stop NATO: Opposition to Global Militarism’.

A version of this article was originally published at the ‘Stop NATO’ blog.

Mass arrests, clashes follow settler shootings

Report, The Electronic Intifada, 3 September 2010

Israeli police arrest demonstrators at a protest in Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

On 1 September the Palestinian Authority's (PA) security forces launched an unprecedented arrest campaign against Palestinians affiliated with the Hamas party in the occupied West Bank. The arrest sweep followed attacks earlier in the week against Israeli settlers in Hebron and Ramallah.

The PA's Preventative Security Services and the General Intelligence Services arrested and detained at least 350 Palestinians from all West Bank governorates, according to a press release from the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq.

Four Israeli settlers from the Beit Hagai settlement were killed on Tuesday evening near the city of Hebron, when they were shot dead while driving on Route 60, the highway that connects Jerusalem to the settlements in the southern occupied West Bank. Approximately 24 hours later, two Israeli settlers were shot and injured in their car while driving near Ramallah and the Kochav Hashachar settlement.

The al-Qassam Brigades -- Hamas' armed wing -- claimed full responsibility for both attacks, according to Ma'an News Agency. Ma'an reported that the al-Qassam Brigades released a subsequent statement describing the shootings as a "normal and legal response to Zionist aggressions on the Palestinian civilians" and "part of the repelling operations against the occupation assaults on the Gaza Strip and West Bank" ("Hamas claims Ramallah attack," 1 September 2010).

Al-Haq says that the Palestinian Authority's arrest campaign against individuals affiliated with Hamas across the West Bank was "executed without the proper arrest warrants" and violated several laws related to arrest and detention rights and procedures.

"The total number of persons arrested without a legitimate warrant is likely to be significantly higher," Al-Haq added. "However, it is not possible to obtain an exact figure of the detainees as no record is being kept of persons detained and released within 24 hours. Hundreds of people currently remain in detention."

On Thursday, 2 September, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the PA detained an additional two Palestinian men from the Hebron area, alleged by the PA to be in connection to Tuesday's attack ("Palestinian authorities: We're arrested two suspects ...").

The settler shootings and the heavy crackdown on Hamas supporters comes as US-brokered direct talks are taking place between the Palestinian Authority and Israel in Washington, DC. All opposing Palestinian political parties, including Hamas, have been disallowed by the PA from participating in the negotiations process. Last week, PA forces interrupted and dispersed a conference in Ramallah, attacking dissenting political officials and activists.

Al-Haq stated that "the sweeping and arbitrary nature of the arrests of political opponents demonstrates that these measures are fueled by political expediency as opposed to genuine security concerns. In fact this campaign is part of a pattern of oppressive policies adopted by the Palestinian Authority to stifle political dissent and to generate a sense of intimidation within Palestinian society."

The group added that it "condemns this arbitrary use of power by the Palestinian Authority and reiterates that the rule of law and the fundamental rights of individuals must not be sacrificed on the altar of political interests."

Meanwhile, in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan on 1 September, hundreds of demonstrators, including Palestinian residents of Silwan and Israeli and international activists, confronted attendees of a conference aimed at promoting "archeological" interests in the neighborhood.

An increasing number of Israeli settlers have regularly taken over Palestinian homes in Silwan, under the cover of an Israeli archaeological institution, Elad, which has led the charge to push Palestinians out of the area and re-brand Silwan as the "City of David." Elad was the sponsor of Wednesday's conference in Silwan.

Journalist Joseph Dana reported on his website that Israeli border police and special forces, called Yasam, "were deployed and allowed to use physical violence to prohibit the protesters from getting close to the entrance."

"The protest stayed completely nonviolent as Yasam forces repeatedly attacked protesters, threw them to the ground like rag dolls and arrested them," wrote Dana. "At one point, a settler literally drove his car through the protest, almost running over a number of people" ("Israel vs. Israel ...," 2 September 2010).

Wednesday's demonstration follows previous clashes and arrests in Silwan last week. On Monday, clashes broke out when Israeli municipal police, border police and intelligence officers raided several neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem, arresting and detaining Palestinians accused of participating in clashes the previous week, according to Ma'an. Residents of the neighborhood reported that last week's clashes began after Israeli settlers broke into the local al-Ein mosque on 26 August ("Clashes reported in Silwan," 30 August 2010).

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

"Abbas's ONLY incentive: Not embarrassing President Obama

Via FridayLunch-Club

Cook at the CFR;
"...The Palestinians remain divided, that's been the situation since the January 2006 elections [in which Hamas won the majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament] and the June takeover in 2007 of Gaza by Hamas. So the Palestinian leadership is clearly divided. They are reluctant to go to these direct talks.
It took an enormous amount of diplomatic and political pressure to get them to agree to these talks. That's one of the reasons why Mubarak and Abdullah are going to be there, because the Palestinians fear that if they get involved in these direct talks they will be vulnerable to attacks from within both the factions that support the Palestinian Authority, mainly Fatah, but more importantly, they'd be vulnerable to political attacks from Hamas, because the negotiations rarely lead anywhere. And from the Palestinian perspective, the Israelis do everything possible to delegitimize their position while at the same time claiming that they're interested in direct negotiations.
This is political poison for Abbas. He has no real domestic political incentive to go forward with these talks. His only incentive is not wanting to embarrass President Obama....
.... If the Palestinians maintain the position that extending the so-called moratorium on settlement building is the litmus test for continuing these talks, it is quite likely that you're not going to have talks after this initial round. Lieberman is an important player in coalition politics, although I don't believe he's an important player necessarily in Israeli policymaking. He's been sidelined by Netanyahu and his team, but of course, Lieberman can bolt the coalition over an issue like this, and can create political instability in Israel. The Israeli cabinet is engaging in intense discussions about whether to formally extend this moratorium. Perhaps they're searching for some sort of formula that will satisfy the different factions within the coalition, but this is a very, very difficult situation that the Israelis find themselves in. And it may end up being a deal breaker...."
Posted by G, Z, or B at 2:15 PM

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian