Monday, November 27, 2006




While the United States is emptying its Treasury into the 'War On Iraq', distracted, trapped and deeply troubled, China has been busily sewing up energy and trade deals with four nations set to become the biggest power players on the international stage in the next decade : Saudi Arabia, Iran, India and Pakistan. To say nothing of their quiet, slow infiltration of Africa and renewed 'friendship' with Russia.

Of course, it's easy to argue that China's military strategists well knew, as did many others around the world, that the United States would sink into an Iraq War quagmire once Saddam Hussein was deposed and the Iraqi Army and police forces were disbanded. Regardless of whether or not China knew what would become reality in Iraq, they were ready to make the massive world power plays now unfolding.

It's also decidely clear now that Russia and China will neither back major sanctions against Iran, nor support any military action by the United States to take out its nuclear energy facilities. At the same time, behind the scenes, Russia and China have made it well clear to the US and Israel that they will not tolerate any sabotage (in lieu of officially military strikes) on Iran, nor further moves to destabilise the country, the regime or the region.

US Vice President Dick Cheney went begging to Saudi Arabia a few days ago to help sort out the mess in Iraq, and President Bush and Secretary Of State Condoleezza Rice are about to head to the Middle East to beg some more.

Meanwhile, China stands back and waits, holding more than a trillion US dollars in its reserves, prepared to take massive losses on its US debt holdings now the US is buying less and less Chinese products.

China has been rapidly expanding and creating new markets for its low-cost, high production products in India, Pakistan and soon enough Saudia Arabia and Iran as well.

The question now is what will the United States do to counter the continual, rapidly increasing rise of China to the top ranks of world powers?

When China can literally destroy the entire US economy in a matter of days, by utterly dumping its US debt holdings on the world markets at the first signs of true aggression, it seems the United States has no cards left to play. Outside of friendship and good relations. China insists on it, and not just for China, but for Iran as well.

From the International Herald Tribune :

Iran and China have moved a step closer to signing an energy deal worth as much as $100 billion, with the Islamic republic saying it had invited China Petrochemical's managing director to Tehran to sign an accord first reached in 2004.

The contract for Sinopec Group, as China Petrochemical is known, to develop the Yadavaran oil field in Iran and secure oil and gas supplies over a 25-year period is complete and ready to be signed, Petroenergy Information Network, the Iranian oil ministry news agency, said Saturday.

Iran, under U.S. economic sanctions and at odds with the United States and the European Union over its nuclear activities, is seeking friendlier markets. China and Russia said in October that they would oppose a draft resolution imposing United Nations sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program.

And this from the Khaleej Times :
China’s insatiable demand for oil — and Saudi Arabia’s position as the world’s top exporter—have become the basis for a trade partnership that analysts say could upset (Saudi Arabia) Riyadh’s decades-old oil-for-security relationship with Washington.

Saudi Arabia has become the key regional player as China quietly moves onto traditional US turf in the Middle East.

This new alignment has also seen China boosting ties with six booming Gulf Arab states, including oil producers Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

China National Offshore Oil Co. (CNOOC) is in talks with Qatar for liquefied natural gas supplies, PetroChina is studying plans with Kuwait to build a refinery and petrochemical complex in South China, and Aramco is negotiating refinery joint ventures in China.

China’s economic thrust has coincided with a time when US prestige in the Arab world is at a low ebb due to the Iraq war and US support for Israel.

In addition, once-cosy US-Saudi ties have not fully recovered from the shock of the Sept. 11 attacks in which 15 of the 19 suicide hijackers were Saudis. This has hit the oil-for-security “special relationship” long based on the role of US military forces as guarantor of Saudi Arabia’s safety, largely to protect huge Saudi oilfields.

Saudi Aramco was the largest supplier of oil to China for the last four years, in addition to being the biggest supplier to India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

China has even started discussions with Aramco to provide it with a strategic oil reserve, opening up the possibility of future tension over global access to Saudi crude oil.

Chietigj Bajpaee, research associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., said China risks being seen as trying to “lock up” Saudi oil at the expense of Washington, or India, another Asian tiger economy with a billion-plus population and a voracious appetite for oil.

“(China and the United States) have an increasingly symbiotic relationship,” Bajpaee said. “This has led to fears in the United States that China is encroaching into its ’sphere of influence’ and undermining relations with its traditional allies.”

As China moves to solidify its power on the world economic stage, so too it arms itself to cope with any and all the military strengths of the United States. China is rapidly closing the gap with the United States in regards to military strength. And that's only what they're currently disclosing, or allowing American spies and intelligence agents to know. The true secrets of China's military strength, and future combat systems, are buried far below the earth, well out of sight of the United States' and Israel's spies and spy satellites.

From the Washington Times :
China's military buildup includes new missiles and naval weapons designed to sink U.S. aircraft carriers and deny U.S. forces access to the Asia-Pacific region, a congressional commission official said yesterday.

Daniel Blumenthal, a former Pentagon defense policy-maker and now a member of the U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission, said China's military is building up forces to "deny the United States the use of the commons -- the sea, the air, cyber and space."

"The Chinese have been quite successful ... in the area of sea denial, meaning that if we sent a carrier to or outside the [Taiwan] Strait as we did in 1996, it would be a lot riskier and a lot costlier to the United States...."

The comments followed disclosure last week that a Chinese submarine sailed undetected to within five miles of the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk near Okinawa, Japan, and surfaced close enough to fire wake-homing torpedos or anti-ship cruise missiles, according to U.S. defense officials.

...Chinese weapons include 10 different types of ballistic and cruise missiles and up to 800 missiles aimed at Taiwan, five different types of submarines and 15 types of new warships.

Beijing's military also is experimenting with new attack concepts, including land-based attacks on ships "through multiple entry concepts" in what Mr. Blumenthal called "a very serious effort to try to basically sink a carrier or battle group."

The report revealed that China's new DF-21C ballistic missile is being configured with a guidance system that will allow it to attack ships at sea and defeat shipborne missile defenses.

The report stated that China's warships and submarines could delay the arrival of U.S. Navy forces called on to defend Taiwan....

China Quietly Resumes Crude Oil Exports To Isolated North Korea

Hu Eases Through Political Minefield To Sew Up Bilaterial Ties With Pakistan And India

China Official Admits Difficulties In Countries With Large US Reserves To Dump Dollar

United States Domination Of Middle East Ending As China Moves In

China In The Middle East Is A Minefield For The United States

Saturday, November 25, 2006


A ceasefire in Gaza, where hundreds of militiants and civilians have been killed by Israeli troops and missiles in the past eight months, was first proposed weeks ago by the democratically elected Hamas government, but rejected by Israel, who insisted Palestinian militants had to reject violence, lay down their arms and recognise Israel.

But seemingly out of the blue, a ceasefire agreement was delivered yesterday by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who telephoned Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and announced an agreement had been reached by the majority of the Palestinian factions to begin a ceasefire in Gaza.

Israel claims 11 rockets have been fired into Israel, causing minor structural damage to one apartment building, but no casualties, since the ceasefire was declared, and that all Israeli Defence Force troops have withdrawn from Gaza.

The ceasefire follows a ramping up of criticism of Israel's policy of targeted assassinations in Gaza by the United States - in particular from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - the United Nations, Italy, Spain, Russia, China, all Arab states and the United Kingdom, which have killed more than 100 Palestinians in the past month alone, as well as a recent high profile slaughter of more than a dozen women and children after a "technical error" by the Israeli Defence Force. Israel apologised, but a United Nations spokesman said it was not "good enough".

The ceasefire deal appears to be simple : Israel withdraws its forces from Gaza and Palestinian militants halt the firing of rockets from Gaza territory into Israel.

Israel did not demand official state recognition from the Hamas-led Palestinian government, nor the laying down of all arms by Palestinian militants. Nor were demands made by Israel for the retun of a kidnapped IDF soldier, still believed to be held captive in Gaza.

From the UK Observer :
In Gaza, the Israeli army continued its offensive. Israeli tank fire killed one militant, and other Israeli fire wounded six Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy shot in the head while standing outside his house.

Palestinian militants have maintained a steady fire of rockets at Israeli areas close to Gaza.

Although the crude rockets are very inaccurate, in recent weeks they have managed to hit town centres more frequently than before.

In an indication of a new atmosphere, Khaled Mashal, an exiled leader of the militant Hamas organisation, said in Cairo that his organisation was willing to give Israel the opportunity to negotiate on the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza for six months.

From :
Government sources in Jerusalem said the Palestinians had agreed to stop Qassam fire, suicide bombings and the digging of tunnels.

A senior security source said on Saturday that military pressure and increased military actions in recent weeks had led the Palestinian factions and terror organizations to agree to a cease-fire.

A senior military source said that in the past 96 hours, 25 Palestinian terrorists had been killed, and military pressure had shown them they were losing people and assets and making only small gains, even though they were hitting Israelis.

Government sources in Jerusalem said if the cease-fire held, it would bring forward a meeting between Olmert and Abbas.

The Americans recieved a report on the details of the agreement and the Olmert-Abbas conversation, but have not announced whether they intend to initiate a summit.

U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are scheduled to visit Jordan on Wednesday, and U.S. envoy Elliot Abrams will be in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

A spokesman for a group affiliated with the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), Abu Abir, told Haaretz that Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh met Saturday night with representatives of a number of armed groups involved in Qassam firing, including the PRC. The previous day Haniyeh met with all major factions.

A spokesman for the PA Interior Ministry, Khaled Abu Hilal, told Haaretz that this was the first decision of its kind involving all factions. He said that if the cease-fire succeeded in the Gaza Strip, the factions would be called to decide on extending it to the West Bank. "At the moment the West Bank is not included in the cease-fire. We are waiting for confidence-building measures from Israel," he said.

From ABC News :

The effective restoration of a truce agreed last year could pave the way for a long-awaited summit between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on ways to restart peacemaking.

Hamas said its armed wing fired three rockets at Israel just before the cease-fire began. The missiles damaged a building but caused no injuries, the Israeli army said.

Hamas, the Islamist group whose rise to power in the Palestinian territories drew a Western aid boycott that has deepened economic hardship, was instrumental in persuading militant groups to agree to hold their fire.

"President Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh agreed with all factions and resistance groups on calm, including the stopping of rocket fire, starting from 6am (local time) on Sunday," Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said.

Israel, which completed a pullout of troops and settlers from Gaza in September 2005, threatened last week to step up the military offensive it began in the territory in June after militants on a cross-border raid abducted an Israeli soldier.
Palestinian Security Forces Deploy In Gaza To Enforce Ceasefire

Mid-East Leaders Say They Are Committed To Truce

Rogue Rocket Attacks Fail To Shatter Ceasefire Deal

"No Euphoria From Ceasefire"

Flashback : Saudi Report Claimed US Paved The Way For Hamas Victory In Elections



Earlier this year, there was heated debate about whether or not the sectarian violence in Iraq amounted to a civil war. Today, it hardly seems worth bothering with vague such descriptives in an attempt to place historical perspectives on the savagery engulfing the city once defined as one of the world's greatest.

After the mutiple car bomb attacks in the Sadr City main market on Thursday that killed more than 270 Shiites, and injured another 22o more, Shiite and Sunnis death squads, insurgents, militiamen and lone vigilantes are now engaged in a storm of revenge killings. Revenging the revenge attacks that avenged the revenge attacks.

Baghdad is under as much of a total curfew as 20,000 to 30,000 Iraqi and American troops can enforce, but clearly those who intend to kill are moving about the city, and in particular, Sunni neighbourhoods unfettered.

One of the least reported results of the car bombings that led to the Baghdad curfew is the fact that Iraq's president has cancelled his weekened summit with the presidents of Iran and Syria. American military controlling the Baghdad international airport have closed down the runways to all incoming and outgoing flights.

One of the more horrific stories of the past 24 hours have been the reports that Sunni worshippers leaving a mosque were drenched in petrol and then burned alive, but as wire reporters are only able to gather information by telephone, these reports remain unconfirmed. Some news wires say they torchings occured, others say they are only terrible rumours.

The key lines below do not tell the full story of the horrorstorm engulfing Baghdad, and other large population centres of Iraq tonight, but they will lead you to more information, if that's what you require.

21 Shiite men were executed in front of their families by gunmen raiding homes in village 45 miles outside of Baghdad.

Shiite miliitamen drove through Sunni neighbourhoods in Baghdad, shooting at mosques with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades. At least two mosques were completely destroyed. Four or five more Sunni mosques were damaged. Guards and locals were gunned down outside mosques.

American helicopters fired missiles into buildings from which Shiite militiamen, loyal to powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, were launching rockets into Sunni neighbourhoods; more than 18 people were killed, dozens more injured in Shiite revenge attacks on Sunni mosques during the holy day of prayer; Moqtada al-Sadr was reported as claiming he would withdraw all support for the Iraqi government if prime minister al-Maliki meets with US President Bush in Jordan on Thursday; Shiite gunmen overran one Sunni mosque and then declared it was now a Shiite mosque, before postering images of al-Sadr.

In the United States, Democrats are calling for a phased four-to-six month withdrawal of American forces ahead of Bush's upcoming meeting with the controversial Iraq Study Group, which is expected to recommend a similiar plan. Key Democrats are now saying Iraqis must understand the US commitment of troops to Iraq is not "open-ended".

The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, on November 14, said he was in favour of entering"talks" with Syria and Iran, a strategy backed by British PM Tony Blair. Bush, however, does not yet favour this option.

Bizarrely, President Bush actually believes he is in a position to negotiate with Iran and for the Iranians to make concessions. Bush is notorious for putting positive spins on ultimately dire situations because he believes to do otherwise will show a dangerous weakness which will encourage terrorists and anti-American militias and fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iraq PM Hails Iranian Assistance In Reconstruction Efforts

In Iraq "There Are No Voices Of Moderation. The Calls For National Unity Are Lost Among The Cries For Sectarian War."

Powerful Shiite Legislator Blames US For Sadr City Market Car Bombings, Calls For US Troops Withdrawal,

Mocqtada al-Sadr Demands PM Maliki Cancel Summit With President Bush - "There Is No Reason To Meet With The Criminal Who Is Behind Terrorism In Iraq"

Claim : Documents Reveal US Already Negotiating With Sunni "Reistance" In Iraq - US May Help Turn Control Of Iraq Back Over To Sunnis To Stop Iran From Claiming Country As Victory Prize

Turkey And Iran Warn Against The Partitioning Of Iraq

Tuesday, November 21, 2006



From :

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says Iran and Syria have already been involved in discussions on Iraq.

"Iran and Syria are components of the general situation in Iraq and there is constant dialogue taking placing with Iran and Syria about these issues," he told reporters.

"Much on the Iraq issue ... occurs beneath the surface. There are constantly - and have been for the last three years, and then some...In recent times we've had some very interesting and productive conversations with a number of different governments about the question of Iraq."


From the London Times :

The Prime Minister of Iraq will sit down for the first time next week with representatives of insurgent groups in his most concerted effort yet to quell the country’s sectarian war.

Nouri al-Maliki’s Government has asked insurgent leaders to send intermediaries to a national reconciliation conference, marking a new domestic drive to bring peace to Iraq.

It will pave the way for a subsequent conference outside Iraq, possibly in Damascus or Amman, with insurgent leaders themselves.

The peace initiative comes as the United Nations released a report yesterday into human rights, which said that 7,054 civilians had been killed in September and October, making it Iraq’s deadliest period since 2003.

More Than 160 Killed, Hundreds Injured, In Five Car Bomb Attacks On Shiite Slum, Al Qaeda Blamed

Shiite Fighters Retaliate For Car Bombings, Launch Mortars At Sunnis' Holiest Shrine


From ABC news :
US President George W Bush will ask NATO to boost its ties with Australia.

Mr Bush will ask a NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organisation] summit next week to establish a partnership between the Atlantic alliance and five key allies, including Australia, Japan and South Korea.

US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns says it will allow for increased strategic discussions between the countries.

"They also want to train more frequently with us militarily because they're operating with us militarily," he said.

"[The] three countries have been in Iraq, they've been in Afghanistan and they've been in the Balkans and so we want to grow closer to them."


From Washington Times :

China obtained secret stealth technology used on B-2 bomber engines from a Hawaii-based spy ring in a compromise U.S. officials say will allow Beijing to copy or counter a key weapon in the Pentagon's new strategy against China.

Details of the classified defense technology related to the B-2's engine exhaust system and its ability to avoid detection by infrared sensors were sold to Chinese officials...


From the Financial Times :
Those who warn of the danger of Europe becoming dependent on Russia see Russia-EU relations in black and white and try to fit them into the obsolete mould of “friend or foe”. Such stereotypes have little in common with reality, but their persistent influence on political thinking and practice runs the risk of creating fresh divisions in Europe.

The past must not be used to divide us, because we cannot rewrite history. Our current goal is to join forces so that Russia and the EU can build a common future as partners and allies. Russia is prepared to work for this and I hope a constructive approach will also prevail in the EU.


From the UK Guardian :
Lebanon lurched closer to a fresh round of sectarian bloodletting yesterday with the assassination of its industry minister, Pierre Gemayel, a member of the country's most powerful Christian family and a leading opponent of Syrian influence.

The killing shook Lebanon's already beleaguered government and sent tremors across the Middle East, further complicating attempts to find a regional solution to the Iraq war. The Bush administration, under rising pressure to negotiate with Syria and Iran, yesterday hinted at the responsibility of both countries' governments, accusing them of trying destabilise Lebanon.

From the UK Independent :
The assassination of Pierre Gemayel was angrily condemned by the Bush administration yesterday. It also dealt a serious blow to efforts by Tony Blair to bring Syria into regional talks on the future of Iraq and the Middle East.

...the Lebanese politician's murder only serves to underscore how the US has largely lost the ability to influence events in the region, its power and reputation sapped by the post-invasion debacle in Iraq.

His policy in shreds, Mr Blair said the murder "underlines once again the absolute and urgent need for a strategy for the whole of the Middle East".


From the Washington Post :

The government and rebels signed a peace deal Tuesday to end a decade-long insurgency, paving the way for the guerrillas to join Nepal's interim government.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist rebel leader Prachanda signed the accord at a Katmandu convention hall packed with cheering officials, dignitaries and foreign diplomats.

The deal came after months of negotiations that centered on how to disarm the insurgents and bring them into the government, which they helped bring to power by backing widespread demonstrations earlier this year against the dictatorship of King Gyanendra.

"This ends the more than one decade of civil war in the country," Prachanda declared after signing.


From the Washington Post :
Arab and African leaders in Libya on Tuesday agreed to work together to end the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, as the U.S. and U.N. pressed the African nation to spell out the conditions for its acceptance of an international peacekeeping force for the troubled area.

The presidents of Egypt, Sudan, Chad and Eritrea held talks in Tripoli hosted by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The Central African Republic also participated.

Suleiman Awad, spokesman for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, was quoted by Egypt's official News Agency MENA as saying Mubarak called the Tripoli meeting the first step to a resolution of the crisis.

"This summit opens the road for us to approach the end of the current situation in Darfur and end the tension between Sudan and its neighbors, Chad and the Central African Republic," Mubarak reportedly said.


From the Washington Post :
39 percent of the land used by Jewish settlements in the West Bank is private Palestinian property, and contends that construction there violates international and Israeli law guaranteeing the protection of property rights in the occupied territories.

(The illegally occupied areas) includes some of the large settlement blocs inside the barrier that Israel is building to separate Israelis from the Palestinian population in the West Bank.

Israel's government has long maintained that the settlements, developed in large part with public money, sit on untitled property known as "state land" or on property of unclear legal status. Israeli courts have also ruled that unauthorized outposts erected on private Palestinian property must be razed, although those orders are rarely carried out.


From :

The Iraq war was a boon for Israel's security, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Wednesday, voicing fresh endorsement for a Bush administration sapped by the unpopularity at home of its Middle East policies.

"I know all of his (Bush's) policies are controversial in America. There are some who support his policies in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, and some who do not," he said.

"I stand with the president because I know that Iraq without Saddam Hussein is so much better for the security and safety of Israel, and all of the neighbors of Israel without any significance to us," added Olmert, who was speaking in English.

"Thank God for the power and the determination and leadership manifested by President Bush."

But Olmert's views on today's Iraq have not been shared by all Israeli experts.

Yuval Diskin, chief of the Shin Bet intelligence service, said in a leaked briefing earlier this year that Israel could come to rue Saddam's ouster if it deepens regional instability.

"When you take apart a system in which a dictator has been controlling his people by force, you have chaos," Diskin said in a recording broadcast by Israeli television. "I'm not sure we won't end up missing Saddam."

UN Official To Israel : Apology Not Good Enough When You Slaughter 19 Civilians In Their Beds


There were a lot of wild predictions in early 2003 about how the world, and the United States in particular, would be better off once Saddam Hussein was removed from power in Iraq. But even those vehemently against the war dared to suggest that regime change in iraq would result in a new alliance between Iran, Syria and Iraq.

But that is exactly the reality now unfolding.

From the Associated Press :
Iran has invited the Iraqi and Syrian presidents to Tehran for a weekend summit with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to hash out ways to cooperate in curbing the runaway violence that has taken Iraq to the verge of civil war and threatens to spread through the region, four key lawmakers told The Associated Press on Monday.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has accepted the invitation and will fly to the Iranian capital Saturday, a close parliamentary associate said.

Iran is flexing its muscles in a chaotic Middle East, following the recent Israel-Lebanon 34 day war. Syria and Lebanon are already clearly under the influence of the Iranian regime. Claims that Iran is funneling fighters and weapons into Iraq refuse to die down.

The "three-way" summit is further proof of just how much influence Iran and Syria is having in shaping the future of the Middle East, now the United States is widely percieved as rushing to find a way to pull its troops out of Iraq.
Both Iran and Syria are seen as key players in Iraq. Syria is widely believed to have done little to stop foreign fighters and al-Qaida in Iraq recruits from crossing its border to join Sunni insurgents in Iraq. It also has provided refuge for many top members of Saddam Hussein's former leadership and political corps, which is thought to have organized arms and funding for the insurgents.

The Sunni insurgency, since it sprang to life in late summer 2003, has been responsible for most of the U.S. deaths in Iraq.

Iran is deeply involved in training, funding and arming the two major Shiite militias in Iraq, where Tehran has deep historic ties to the current Shiite political leadership. Many Iraqi Shiites spent years in Iranian exile during Saddam's decades in power in Baghdad. One militia, the Badr Brigade, was trained in Iran by the Revolutionary Guard.

The much vaulted 'Iraq Study Group' initiated by US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, is expected to recommend that Iran and Syria be brought into the fold to end the 'War On Iraq'. Some see the Iranian weekend conference as key players in the Middle East getting in first, so it doesn't appear as though the US is directing Iran and Syria and Iraq talks.

Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, will use the summit to show the world that he is a 'man of peace', helping to clear up the American mess in his neighbourhood. The summit is also likely to boost the credibility of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and do much to repair the frosty relationship between Syria and the current president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani.

Incredibly, the summit is also expected to pave the way for a return of full diplomatic ties between Syria, Iraq and Iran, a result of the chaos of the Iraq War not predicted in detail by the pro-war or anti-war think tanks. Sryia and Iraq were all but warring enemies for much of the past 24 years, since Syria backed Iran after Iraq attacked Iran, backed unofficially by the United States, in the early 1980s.

From the UK Guardian :
Iran already has close relations with the Iraqi government. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa party, as well as the largest Iraqi Shia party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, were based in Iran in exile during the Saddam Hussein era.

US officials have repeatedly accused Syria of allowing former Ba'athist insurgents as well as al-Qaida sympathisers to pass into Iraq from Syria. The Iraqi Ba'athists are said to have training camps in Syria - a charge that Syria denies. It says it cannot control its long, largely desert border with Iraq but has improved security patrols in response to US requests.

700 Iraqis Die In Eight Days Of Unrelenting Violence

Iran Gives $1 Billion To Its Western Provinces To Help Rebuild Iraq

"We Must Bomb Iran Now" - US NeoCons Panic As Chance To Bomb Iran Fades Fast

Iranian President Is No Hitler - Hating Israel And Denying Holocaust Not Exactly Radical Ideology In The Middle East

Iran Claims It Can Attack Its Enemies 2000km Away

Iraq And Syria Resume Diplomatic Ties - Weekend Summit Of Iran, Iraq, Syrian Presidents Seen As An Historical Event - Further Blowback From US' Illegal War On Iraq

White House Dismisses CIA Report That Says Iran Has No Nuclear Weapons Or Nuclear Weapons Programs

I Would Understand If Israel Chose To Attack Iran, Says Bush

Iran And Zimbabwe Announce Rejection Of US-British Global Hegemony

Monday, November 20, 2006



The War On Afghanistan is not going well, and UK PM Tony Blair is spinning his black little heart out. At the same time, a covert war on Pakistan by Western intelligence agencies, led by the CIA, is already underway.

From the London Times :
Tony Blair pledged Britain's continuing support for war-torn Afghanistan until after the Taleban is defeated during a press conference in Kabul today with President Karzai.

The Prime Minister flew into Afghanistan this morning amid tight security in a show of support for the UK force which has seen some of the heaviest fighting by British troops since the Second World War.

His visit, in which he earlier met British troops at Camp Bastion this morning, makes him the first Western leader to meet Mr Karzai in Kabul.

During the joint press conference, Mr Blair stressed the importance of international support to stabilise and rebuild the country following the ousting of the Taleban five years ago.

"We believe that Afghanistan rather than being abused as a haven for terrorists and for the Taleban to oppress people, that Afghanistan and its people deserve the chance to increase their prosperity and to live in a proper democratic state.

"We will be with you in this endeavour. Our commitment remains that whatever challenges, whether of security or reconstruction or development, we are up to meeting those challenges with you."

Mr Blair used the press conference, ahead of a Nato summit in the Latvian capital Riga later this month, to urge that "now is the time to bring into sharp focus the need to stay with Afghans as they make their journey to progress."

Nato’s International Security Assistance Force has about 31,000 troops in Afghanistan including around 5,500 Britons.

British troops in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan have suffered the brunt of the heavy fighting and casualty rates are now higher than those in Iraq, with 36 killed since the beginning of this year.

A total of 41 British soldiers have been killed while serving in Afghanistan, of those 20 have been killed in action and 21 as a result of illness, non-combat injuries or accidents.

Asked whether the West had lost focus on Afghanistan, Mr Blair accepted that recent Taleban resistance had been stronger than expected over the summer but that it was important to show the progress that had been made.

"I think certainly from our perspective it’s important that we show the progress that’s being made to reenergise people, that it’s something that’s worth doing," he said.

Mr Blair said called the problem of opium farming in Afghanistan a "big, big challenge". Mr Karzai acknowledged that harvests of the drug in some parts of the country had increased, but said that it was "naïve" to think it can be wiped out overnight.

Mr Blair arrived in the country at Camp Bastion, the main UK base in the southern province of Helmand in a RAF Hercules transport aircraft.

It is Mr Blair’s second visit to the country. On the previous occasion in 2002 - shortly after the fall of the Taleban government - he was restricted to the Bagram air base.

His trip comes just a day after the West was accused by Pakistan of pursuing a failing strategy in Afghanistan by concentrating solely on military tactics.

But the West’s strategy in Afghanistan was attacked by President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan yesterday, who and said that the task could not be achieved by military action alone.

He added that only Pakistan was implementing the right strategy. He called on the West to implement a plan of billions of dollars of aid to rebuild Afghanistan, just as the US spent billions of dollars rebuilding Europe after the Second World War.

Mr Blair flew to Pakistan on a mission to step up the battle against terrorism and gave warning that that it was a global battle that would take a generation to win.

In talks with General Musharraf , Mr Blair offered £480 million to combat the preaching of hatred in Pakistani religious schools and the two leaders agreed further co-operation against Taleban militants in Afghanistan.

But Mr Musharraf said that the war "cannot be won through military action alone, you have to come up with a broader strategy. This strategy must involve a political element and reconstruction or development."

Reacting angrily to accusations that he was not doing enough to stop the Taleban crossing the border to safe havens in Pakistan’s largely lawless northwest provinces, Mr Musharraf turned the tables on Britain and America by declaring:

"We are the only one who are trying to implement the whole strategy, which means military, political, and also reconstruction. More action is required on the Afghanistan side, because the war will be won on the Afghan side, because the Taleban problem is on the Afghan side."

He added: "I have indicated to the Prime Minister also that we believe there is a requirement for a massive inflow of developmental funds there, some kind of a Marshall Plan, some billions of dollars."

Mr Blair agreed that reconstruction had to go hand in hand with the military action, but said that despite suffering enormous casualties at the hands of British troops, the Taleban would still try to take back control of some parts of the country. "The Taleban will try to get a foothold back, they will, that is what we expect, but our will has got to be superior to theirs," he said.

He insisted the strategy was right, declaring that in the War on Terror, "we begin to win when we start fighting properly, and I think we are now fighting properly, but we have got to do more".

But in a gloomy prognosis, he said that the global battle against terrorism "took a generation to grow and will take a generation to defeat".

His spokesman said that the amount of aid was not the problem in Afghanistan, but that the fighting made it difficult to carry out reconstruction.

Britain alone had given £500 million while $10.5 billion was pledged at the International Donors Conference in London in January "The problem is not the lack of financial aid available. The problem is getting the physical infrastructure and government infrastructure in place to spend that money," Mr Blair said. He added that in Helmand province, Britain had built 13 health clinics, 89 reservoirs, 423 wells and eight classrooms.

From Rueters :

The security of the world will be decided on the desert battlefields of Afghanistan, British Prime Minister Tony Blair told his troops on the frontline of an increasingly bloody war on Monday.

"Here, in this extraordinary desert, is where the future of world security in the early 21st century is going to be played out," Blair said in remarks barred from publication until he flew out of Camp Bastion in Helmand province.

Afghanistan's western allies say the Taliban is on the run, despite a resurgence, but Blair's long-planned visit has been kept in strict hour-by-hour secrecy due to security fears.

"You may not know this, but people back home are very proud of what you do, regardless what they think of political leaders," he told troops in the desert province that is a Taliban stronghold and the opium capital of the world's main producer.

Fighting in Afghanistan this year is the bloodiest since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban's hardline government exactly five years ago. The British troops in Helmand and other NATO troops in the south have been at the forefront of the combat.

And with the rise in fighting and a redeployment to the Taliban's southern heartland, British casualty rates here are now higher than those in Iraq, with 36 killed since June.

From the UK Independent :

The paraphernalia of death were laid out on the table - shrapnel, detonators, bombers' manual, false identification cards. "Enough for four, five suicide attacks" said General Ali Shah Paktiawal of the Afghan police.

"We are not allowed to blame Pakistan directly of course. But the men we caught were from Pakistan, these things were bought there. Look, they have even kept receipts."

This was Kabul yesterday, the capital of a country from which Tony Blair famously promised "this time we will not walk away", a land now torn by violence and wide-scale corruption, the heroin supplier to the world despite millions of dollars spent on eradication.

Five years after the American-led invasion, the infrastructure still lies shattered, with accusations of international aid being squandered. Meanwhile, the rights of half the population, women, are being steadily clawed back under the burqa.

Afghanistan is also where Western forces, in large numbers, are fighting a war which George Bush and Mr Blair had declared won with the fall of the Taliban regime as they moved the "war on terror" to Iraq.

The Taliban are back with a vengeance now and there is little talk of victory. Nato troops have inflicted heavy casualties on the insurgents, but military commanders talk of reinforcements coming from across the Pakistani border.

The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, has accused Pakistan of sheltering the bombers and its intelligence service, the ISI, of arming and training them. Mr Bush and Mr Blair have raised the claims with Pakistan's leader, General Pervez Musharraf, who vehemently denies them.

General Paktiawal was poisoned while in a government ministry four months ago, an example of the long reach of a ruthless enemy. He received emergency treatment abroad and is still on medication. He said: "Who did it, the Taliban, al-Qa'ida, the ISI, working together? I do not want to say. What I do know is that I will be surprised if they do not try to kill me again.

"You cannot end terrorism quickly, especially when there are outside forces involved," he added. "I accept we have big problems."

From the UK Independent :
Tony Blair declared that Islamic terrorism would go on for at least a generation as he was urged by Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf to back a new "Marshall Plan" for Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister admitted that a change of strategy by the West was needed to secure victory against Islamic extremists by winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Britain.

Speaking in Pakistan yesterday, Mr Blair promised a doubling in aid to £480m for Pakistan, partly intended for madrassas - Islamic schools - to help fight Islamic fundamentalism against the West. But he appeared to admit that the past strategy led by US policy had failed to stop the rise in terrorism.

"We begin to win when we start fighting properly. I think we are now fighting properly but we have got to do more," Mr Blair said. "This is about ideas and we have got to make our ideas powerful. It is about justice and where there is injustice we have to deal with it."

His remarks signalled a scaling back of expectations on the "war on terror"that launched with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, aimed at bringing down the Taliban and destroying Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida training camps. He said: "This took a generation to grow. It will take a generation to defeat."

Speaking in Pakistan during his tour of South Asia, after meeting moderate Muslim clerics, Mr Blair said: "In the end security measures are important but they can only take you so far. You have got to win hearts and minds as well. That is where we have got a lot more work to do." Mr Blair flew to the region to prepare for more wide-ranging measures to stop the collapse of Afghanistan, and to bolster support for the West's key ally in the area, President Musharraf, who is facing a Muslim backlash in his country for supporting the West.

President Musharraf said a modern-day Marshall Plan was needed for Afghanistan. The Marshall Plan - which was named after the US Secretary of State in the Truman government - spearheaded the post-war recovery of Europe with billions of dollars from America. Speaking after hour-long talks with the Prime Minister, including 20 minutes on their own, President Musharraf said they were united on all the key issues.

"We believe that there is a requirement for a massive inflow of development funds there. Some kind of Marshall Plan, some billions of dollars could be put in there for the reconstruction effort for the south-eastern region of Afghanistan which is under turmoil. Unless we understand the environment correctly, our strategy will never be correct."

Senior officials travelling with the Prime Minister made it clear that Mr Blair had not signed up to a massive increase in spending on Afghanistan. They pointed to a conference in London in January at which $10.5bn (£5.5bn) was pledged for reconstruction.

"In terms of a Marshall Plan we have always said you have to have the reconstruction going with the security. But it goes at different places. The security problem in the south-east is the greatest," said one official. "The problem is not having the money available, it is getting the infrastructure to spend that money."

President Musharraf admitted Pakistan had to "put our own house in order", with tougher measures to cut off support for the Taliban, but defended the border deals which have allegedly left the Taliban untouched in some areas. He insisted Pakistan would oppose the "Talibanisation" of Afghanistan or tribal areas of Pakistan.

Fact or fiction?

* BLAIR'S BOAST: 4.6 million refugees have returned to Afghanistan in the last five years.

* REALITY: Many have quietly left again, uncounted. Thousands more are internally displaced.

* BOAST: 25 per cent of MPs are now women.

* REALITY: Women MPs are targeted by the Taliban and fear for their lives.

* BOAST: 37 per cent of pupils at school are girls.

* REALITY: Entire provinces now give girls no education because schools have been burnt down, teachers killed and parents intimidated.

* BOAST: 60 per cent increase in the number of health clinics.

* REALITY: Many patients have to provide their own medicine and surgical equipment to qualify for treatment.

From the UK Independent :

Tony Blair flew into Pakistan last night on a mission to seek more co-operation from Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, on the war in terrorism in Britain.

Mr Blair announced a doubling in aid from £236m to £480m over the next three years to the Pakistan Government to support "moderate" schools in Pakistan. It is part of a strategy of undermining the hardline madrassas which are alleged to have brainwashed students in extremist forms of Islam and to have provided radical converts for al-Qa'ida operations in Britain.

The Prime Minister is also seeking improvements in intelligence-sharing between MI6 and Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency, the ISI, in spite of suspicions - denied by President Musharraf - that they have sympathies with the Taliban. British sources said it was intelligence from Pakistan that led to arrests and the summer alert over an alleged plot to blow up about 10 airliners bound for the United States from British airports.

One million people in Britain are of Pakistani origin. Two of the suicide bombers who blew themselves up in London on 7 July last year had visited Pakistan shortly beforehand, and a British national, Rashid Rauf, is still held in Pakistan over the alleged airliner plot.

High on Mr Blair's agenda for talks with President Musharraf today will be the need to stop the flow of men and weapons across the leaky border with Afghanistan, where the resurgent Taliban are attacking British forces. There have been 36 British casualties this year, many in the lawless Helmand province, where British forces were deployed to protect reconstruction schemes but have become bogged down in a vicious war with the Taliban.

Senior British officials admitted the accuracy of the assessment by Tom Koenigs, the German diplomat heading the UN mission in Afghanistan, that Nato forces could not win without the backing of Afghan troops. "We have tactically defeated the Taliban, as one Nato general said, but we recognise that there are difficulties. It has to be a combination of military action and reconstruction," said one official with Mr Blair's party.

British commanders have complained of shortages of helicopters and armoured vehicles to protect against roadside bombs and suicide bombers. Mr Blair, determined that Afghanistan does not become a second Iraq, is urgently seeking reinforcements, and Britain will be calling for more support at a Nato conference in Riga. Although 37 nations are contributing to the Afghan force, many have rules of engagement which prevent their deployment in southern Afghanistan and Nato is still awaiting troops for a rapid reaction force there.

In his talks with President Musharraf, Mr Blair is almost certain to raise the question of the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, the al-Qa'ida leader believed to be hiding on the border, but officials made plain he would not be criticising the Pakistani leader in public. When they last met, at Chequers on 28 September, Mr Blair had to apologise privately for a leaked defence report - later dismissed as "research notes" - which said there was still considerable support for the Taliban in the ISI.

"Pakistan is not a banana republic," President Musharraf reportedly told the German magazine Focus last week. "We have an extremely loyal and disciplined army. The secret service is made up mainly of military men."

Mr Blair has little alternative but to accept the assurances of his key ally in the region.

Dozens Murdered In Pakistan After Accusations Of Being American Spies - Afghan Cleric Latest Victim - Two Bullets To The Head

1 In 30 Afghans Now Using Heroin, Opium, Hashish - AIDS Rising Concern - War Lords Build Power Bases On Back Of Raw Ingredient For 90% Of World's Heroin

Tony Blair Urged To Change Course On Afghanistan By Pakistan President - Pakistan Deal With Afghan Fighters Feared To Be Allowing Al Qaeda And Taliban Fighters To Regroup, Re-Arm, For New Offensives

Monday, November 13, 2006



From the Columbia Journalism Review :

Borzou Daragahi
Los Angeles Times

I know how religious the people in Iraq are, how traditional they are with regard to gender relations and stuff like that. I would see certain stuff and I would just cringe and want to say [to U.S. soldiers], “You guys are really, really making a bad name for yourself here by storming into this guy’s house with your shoes on. This guy’s done nothing and yet you’re going to make an enemy out of him because he’s gonna talk about you guys for the rest of his life, and that day when they came storming into my house with their shoes on — nobody walks into my house with their shoes on!”

One time I was really tempted to say something to U.S. soldiers when I was in Najaf. And Najaf is a very American-friendly place in general. And there were these soldiers and they were just sitting there, taking pieces of bread and throwing them at each other. They were just kids — like twenty-two years old — just playing around. There’s these Iraqi police officers looking at this from out the window and they’re just totally aghast. They’re totally shocked: Look at what they’re doing to bread! You know, bread is considered holy in Islam. You know, you’re just not supposed to do that. People pick up pieces of bread and you’re not supposed to step on bread. You’re not supposed to play with bread. And I felt tempted to say something and I didn’t. I just didn’t feel it was my place.

Nir Rosen
Freelance Writer

I tried to interact with the Iraqis who were being ignored. And even by then there was a great deal of literature being produced by various religious organizations; they all had their own newspapers and journals and magazines and CDs, and they were very clear about their position and their grievances and their attitude towards the Americans. And I think the Americans, for some reason, didn’t take religion that seriously as a factor in Iraqi society, which is weird because we’re like the most religious nation in the industrialized world. We have a born-again Christian president and the religious right is so powerful, but we didn’t think that religion was an important motivator for Iraqis. So we just ignored that, except for the so-called moderate clerics who we could try to use to our advantage. But that Iraqi anger and hostility toward the American occupation, and fear of the Americans, and fear that the Americans are going to corrupt their values, steal their women, bring the Jews in to create a greater Israel, bring the Jews in to divide the land — all these fears that just sounded stupid to us were real for them.

Elizabeth Palmer CBS

I've been struck by how essentially humane a lot of the soliders are, with a very strong sense of right and wrong, which I think comes with growing up in America. And how ill-equipped they were to apply that to a situation like Iraq, without enough historical or geographical or cultural knowledge to actually — unless they were under the command of a very gifted officer, and there are some who are extremely well-equipped, but a lot of them are not — to apply that sort of fairness to Iraqi society. I feel that a huge majority of them are good men trapped in an impossible situation and have not really understood where they are historically, as well as culturally and physically. I think they’re hostages of a terrible situation as well; it’s given me enormous sympathy for them, and certainly a new appreciation for how ill-prepared they were for the mission, at least in the early days.

I remember early on in Baghdad — it must have been the end of 2003 — some American soldiers who were very keen to befriend a couple of families — families who had been, who were essentially caretakers of properties in Baghdad. They were very poor and these soldiers wanted to befriend the children. They had this tremendous human instinct to try and help them make life easier. It was just at the time when the insurgency was really getting going, and Iraqis who were seen to have relations with the American forces were in great danger, and the soldiers found it very difficult to accept that this gesture of friendship — their wanting to help look after these children and give them gifts and so on — could, in fact, get the family killed.

Nir Rosen
Freelance Writer

The daily things the Iraqis endure — and those that I experienced just because I looked Iraqi and then because I was a male, and a so-called “male of fighting age.” My [new Iraqi] friends would ask me, “Why do Americans say ‘fuck’ so much, what’s this word ‘fuck?’” I heard that a few times. “Why do Americans spit so much?” They didn’t know about chewing dip — the tobacco thing. So they see Americans spitting all the time; they’re going into a house on a raid, and in order to stay awake they chew dip and they’re spitting constantly, spitting all over people’s yards, things like that. Having to deal with the barbed wire everywhere, the tanks and Humvees blocking traffic in your roads, pointing their guns at you, firing into the air, shouting at you. It was constant humiliation and constant fear, because they control your life. They have these huge guns and you can’t even communicate with them adequately. And that summer [2003], it was just unbearably hot and American soldiers were dressed in all that gear. Obviously they were not in a good mood. Iraqis had no electricity. They were in a bad mood. It was always very tense, they were always shouting at Iraqis and shouting at me sometimes. I was walking down the street toward a checkpoint once, and I heard one American soldier say to the other, “That’s the biggest fucking Iraqi I ever saw.” And the other soldier said, “I don’t care how big he is, if he don’t stop moving I’m gonna shoot him.” And there were one or two other times I heard soldiers talking about shooting me, and whether it was in jest I don’t know, but at least I understood and could shout, “Don’t shoot, I’m an American!” Most Iraqis couldn’t, and that’s a very scary thing.

Larry Kaplow
Cox Newspapers

In April 2003, there was the big Fallujah killing, where members of the Eighty-second Airborne opened fire on a demonstration in Fallujah after they said they had heard shots fired. And they killed anywhere from ten to maybe twenty-five Iraqis there. First of all, we could just drive out there in those days. We heard about it somehow, I think maybe on some radio report, and just drove out to the scene and showed up at this little school in the middle of the Fallujah neighborhood. And the Eighty-second Airborne guys were there. And they said, “Okay, come in, we’ll show you around, and we’ll tell you our version of what happened.” And then you could walk across the street and talk to Iraqis who were around there, and ask them what happened, although it was difficult to get a clear version from either side. It turned out to be a seminal event. Later when you’d talk to insurgents in the days to come, you’d hear them refer to that event.

Patrick Cockburn
The Independent

I was struck at the beginning at how the rules of engagement appeared to allow U.S. forces to open fire when there were civilians around. As in the early stage in Fallujah, according to what has emerged subsequently in writings from there. It was shooting at a crowd of demonstrators in Fallujah which gave the first real boost to militancy there.

Patrick Graham
Freelance writer

The U.S. Army propaganda about who the insurgency was — that they were dead-enders and it was over, a bunch of criminals — was very effective, and that was essentially what was written for a long time. So I think that, in many ways, there was an enormous amount of press self-censorship early on, for about almost the first year of the invasion.

If you look back at how things were reported in that first year, it was pretty close to the way the U.S. government wanted it to be presented, which is, “It’s not so bad, it’s coming along, we’ve got a few criminals but we’re handling them,” when, in fact, what was going on was the Eighty-second Airborne in Fallujah was doing what aggressive, elite units always do, which is create a lot of enemies.
By September or October of 2003, the Eighty-second had already killed at least forty people around Fallujah, probably more like one hundred, some of them even local police, a lot of them kids, all of them from a tribal area. You just knew things were going to go badly.

Ali Fadhil
Translator, Reporter

[In Najaf, August 2004], me and Ivan Watson [of NPR] found ourselves at the top of a tower. We found two American soldiers, very, very young soldiers — they were snipers — at the top room of the tower, and they invited us to eat the MREs [Meals Ready to Eat]. And we were very happy because we didn’t eat anything, like only eggs and potatoes all of these days, because there is no food in the city. And we ate with them and started chatting with them, and myself personally, I had like a friendship with them, and one of them called me to come and hold the sniper machine and look through the sniper zoom and look to the [Imam Ali] Shrine, because I wanted to look at it. And we were like joking about the situation until the moment when suddenly we heard the voice coming from the shrine for the prayers. At that time the two soldiers were back in position. They were furious, and I said, “What’s wrong?” They said, “The sound — it means something,” and I said, “What?” They said, “It does mean that they’re calling their soldiers to come kill us, isn’t that right?” I said, “No, it’s not. It’s prayer calls.” It seems like these soldiers didn’t know that these are prayer calls, because it’s long, long prayer calls — it’s prayers they do for the martyrs. And they thought that this was something like a call to start fighting.

Patrick Graham
Freelance Writer

Iraq wasn’t a country that was fact-checkable, right? It wasn’t a country where there were a lot of facts. And it wasn’t a country that anybody knew anything about, so your problem wasn’t selling the story. It was convincing touchy magazines to run things. I had a story on insurgents killed because the magazine couldn’t fact-check it [the story eventually appeared in Harper’s, which had not commissioned it]. American magazines have been beaten up very badly by various scandals, and they just couldn’t take a risk. If you said this is a group of insurgents that I’m with, they’re not a bunch of former Baathists, they’re fighting for kind of tribal, nationalistic reasons — that was the opposite of what was being written in the press in the fall of 2003. The majority of the articles were that they were a group of Baathists, they’re dead-enders, they’re criminals, they’re disgruntled Sunnis who want to take over the country again. The insurgency was over, the insurgency would soon be over. And I was saying, “No, actually, this is an expression of a minority that’s scared and doesn’t feel that it’s going to participate in the future of the country. It’s very tribal; it has to do with the cultural context.” And it’s very hard to prove that.

Go Here For The Columbia Journalism Review's Special Edition On Iraq War Reporting



It is certainly an interesting coincidence that just as the United States, Britain and Australian leaders debate negotiations with Iran over how to end the Iraq War, and the Iraq Study Group made up of former presiden Bush cronies is about to announce that Iran can be a "a partner for peace" in the Middle East, Israel again cuts loose with threats and warnings about Iran's nuclear energy program.

From the London Times :

Israel and Iran traded threats after Ehud Olmert arrived in the United States for talks with President Bush yesterday, warning Tehran that it should “start to fear” the consequences of trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

Iran responded swiftly that it would retaliate if attacked, escalating rhetoric over the issue that is likely to dominate talks between the Israeli Prime Minister and US President alongside continuing Israeli-Palestinian violence. Mr Olmert has said that the nuclear ambitions of Iran would be the main item on his agenda when he met US officials in Washington.

He was scheduled to meet Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, yesterday and Mr Bush today.

Before the talks, Mr Olmert delivered a stark warning to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, calling him “a man who is ready to commit crimes against humanity, and . . . has to be stopped.”

He told Newsweek magazine that he would support any deal under which Iran stopped short of crossing the technological threshold into full nuclear capability. He added: “But I don’t believe that Iran will accept such compromise unless they have good reason to fear the consequences of not reaching a compromise. In other words, Iran must start to fear.”

Israeli officials have hinted that the Jewish state may try to halt the Iranian nuclear programme, as it did in 1981 by bombing the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in order to destroy the atomic weapons programme of Saddam Hussein.

This prompted an immediate reply from Iran. Muhammad Ali Hosseini, a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Tehran, said: “If the Zionist regime commits such stupidity, the response by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard will be swift, strong and crushing. Iran will take no longer than a second to respond.”

Olmert : "I'm Not Looking For Wars" - Hints At Military Action Against Iran

Top Military Official Says Israel Must Prepare For Full-Scale War

We Will Soon See Israel's "Destruction And Its Disappearance," Says Iran's President

How Israel Put The Women And Children Of Gaza In Firing Line Of Killer Tank Shells

We Will Reply Swiftly To Any Attack By Israel, Says Iran

Thursday, November 09, 2006


The London Times is claiming :

American and Iraqi officials have set a date for giving Iraq’s forces responsibility for security across the country. Under a plan to be presented to the UN Security Council next month, the Iraqi Government would assume authority from coalition troops by the end of next year.

Only hours after Donald Rumsfeld was replaced as US Defence Secretary, American, British and Iraqi officials spoke openly about accelerating the handover process.

Baghdad made clear that it would use the Democrat victory in congressional midterm elections to push President Bush for concessions. Confidants of Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, said that they hoped defeat would make Mr Bush more open to ideas that he had previously rejected.

Maliki has made it clear, recently, that he wants Iraq back in control of the Iraqis as soon as possible, not a decade or two into the future. But Bush Co. has resisted, telling the Iraqis they are not secure enough yet to be given control of the world's second largest supply of oil.

Bush himself said, just before the mid-term elections in the US, that it was too soon for the Iraq government to be handed full control of its Army and oil because terrorists might then use the oil as a way of blackmailing the West.

If Bush Co. refuses to give back control of Iraq to its democratically elected government, and its Army, then there will be a new phase of the war even uglier than what is happening there now. This would be the point where the 'War On Iraq' fully spills out into a regional war pulling in Iran, Syria, Saudia Arabia, Jordan, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.

Should Bush Co. continue to refuse to give control of Iraq to the Shiite dominated Iraqi government, we may very likely see the Iraqi Army, backed by Iran, going to war against the US/Coalition forces.

This would be the point when Bush Co. turns to the Sunni Resistance, who would then pull their allies Syria into the fight to battle the combined and united Shiite forces.

Despite dominating the Iraqi government, and ruling Iran, the Shiites are actually a minority in the greater Middle East region. It is the Sunnis who remain the most powerful tribal bloc, with the mega-wealth of the Saudis amongst their masses.


Yeah, well it isn't going to get any less confusing in the next twelve to eighteen months.

We will see, soon enough, whether it was ever the intention of Bush Co. to hand control of Iraq, and its estimated 200 billion barrels of unpumped oil wealth, back to the Shiite dominated people of Iraq.

This war is far from over.

The Bush Dynasty's 'Favourite Newspaper' Suggests "
Washington Should Consider Shifting Its Support To The Sunnis"

Democrats Take Control Of Congress And Senate, Stage Set For Major Policy Shift In Iraq - "You Can't Unscramble The Omelet"


The Iraqi health ministry claims that some 150,000 Iraqis have died due to the violence of war since March, 2003 :

Accurate figures on the number of people who have died in the Iraq conflict have long been the subject of debate. Police and hospitals often give widely conflicting figures of those killed in major bombings. In addition, death figures are reported through multiple channels by government agencies that function with varying efficiency.

As al-Shemari issued the startling new estimate, the head of the Baghdad central morgue said Thursday he was receiving as many as 60 violent death victims each day at his facility alone. Dr. Abdul-Razzaq al-Obaidi said those deaths did not include victims of violence whose bodies were taken to the city's many hospital morgues or those who were removed from attack scenes by relatives and quickly buried according to Muslim custom.

Australian prime minister, John Howard, has joined US President Bush in redefining what actually constitutes the free and democratic Iraq that would allow coalition troops to declare 'victory' and begin withdrawing from the conflict, even if the internal conflicts are expected to rage on for years, if not decades.

Yesterday, Howard described that kind of Iraq as being, "...a reasonably stable country with a good prospect of preserving its democracy."

Of course, it could be widely argued what actually is "reasonably stable" when a country is beset by slow-burn civil war and daily car bombings and suicide attacks.

Is reasonably stable one terrorist attack a week instead of one to ten a day?

John Howard is rumoured to be planning to withdraw the majority of Australian forces from Iraq in time for his re-election campaign in late 2007, a time frame expected to mesh with plans soon to be announced by President Bush.

Howard also said in the interview that "early" withdrawal from Iraq would be viewed as a defeat for America by the rest of the world, and that this would be incredibly dangerous.
"Even people who are critical of the American action and our action in Iraq must accept that the authority and power of the United States around the world is important to the stability of the world, the stability of our own region and important to the long term security of this country and it's a factor we should always keep in mind."
Howard, however, clearly doesn't keep in his mind the reality that many people around the world already view the United States as having suffered an inglorious defeat in Iraq, as so few of the pre-war plans and claims of swift victory have turned out to be true.

Neither does Howard appear to realise how far the rest of the world has already moved from the decades-old view that the United States is essential "to the stability of the world". China, Russia and Iran have sewn up new security agreements as have many countries across East and South East Asia. North Korea's recent nuclear tests clearly showed how weak they view the United States as being on the world stage.

With the 'War On Iraq' already well out of the control of the United States, it is easy enough to argue then that the stability of the world is currently being tested by the actions of the Bush regime, and the aggression and threats of US ally Israel towards Palestine, Iran and Syria.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006



Today he became the former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and the American military rejoiced.

Rumsfeld didn't go because he wanted to. He went because if he hadn't, the United States could have very likely faced a mutiny within the senior command of the American Army.

The United States' most powerful generals and colonels wanted Rumsfeld's head on a stick, they got the next best thing. His exit.

On November 4, the highly influential Military Times publications issued a joint editorial titled "Rumsfeld Must Go".

From the Military Times :

Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.
If Rumsfeld hadn't quit, or been removed, then Bush would have had to have faced some incredibly embarrassing, and dangerous, consequences.

Imagine ten thousand current Iraq War veterans blockading the Pentagon or Congress.

Rumsfeld went because the generals and the colonels and most of the Army demanded that he do so.

He handed in his resignation and Presdent Bush accepted it, literally, within hours of a joint editorial from the influential Military Times publications that demanded his resignation hit the news headlines.

That President Bush has now named former CIA director Robert Gates as the new defence secertary is yet another sign of just how much the president's father - former president George HW Bush - is doing to save his son from the clutches of the NeoCons.

Henry Kissinger is regularly advising Bush and vice president Cheney, former Secretary of State, James Baker III, is heading up the Iraq Study Group to examine Iraq War withdrawal options and strategies, and now Robert Gates will be in charge of the Pentagon.

The NeoCons are history, their doctrine of pre-emptive war and American World Rule By Force is toast. Rumsfeld, however, will not be the last casualty. Dick Cheney will also quit, before he is forced to testify in any number of hearings and investigations the Democrats are planning in the next year. Cheney has already stated he will not testify before the Democrats.

Gates, meanwhile, is expected to begin serious negotiations with Iran over winding down the Iraqi insurgency and allowing the United States to begin its program of near-total withdrawal from Iraq :
In the summer of 2004, Gates and former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski co-chaired a task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations that argued for opening a dialogue with Iran.

The task force’s report contended that the lack of American engagement with Iran had harmed American interests, and advocated direct talks with the Iranians.

“Just as the United States has a constructive relationship with China (and earlier did so with the Soviet Union) while strongly opposing certain aspects of its internal and international policies, Washington should approach Iran with a readiness to explore areas of common interests while continuing to contest objectionable policy.”

Go Here For The Full Story



For the past few weeks, Palestinian militants in Northern Gaza have continued their barrage of rockets into Israel, and last week, the Israel Defence Force rolled in to "cleanse" the area of rocket-wielding militants.

More than fifty Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, died during those operations, and hundreds were wounded.

Israel then announced it was pulling out, and did so on Tuesday, even though rockets continued to be fired.

But yesterday, long after most Palestinians had gone to bed, Israel fired numerous tank shells straight into a heavily populated civilian area of Beit Nanoun.

From the Sydney Morning Herald :

"We saw legs, we saw heads, we saw hands scattered in the street," said Attaf Hamad, 22, in Beit Hanoun, a town in the northern Gaza Strip that has been a launching ground for Palestinian militants' rocket attacks on Israel.

At least seven children and four women were killed. Most of the children died in their beds, where they had been sleeping when the tanks fired into their homes.

Thirteen of the dead are reported to be from the same extended family.

The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, described the killings as a "horrible and ugly massacre". A senior Hamas official urged Palestinians to attack inside Israel in response, and the Islamic Jihad group vowed suicide bombings.

Hamas's armed wing, decrying Washington's "political and financial support" for Israel, appeared to call on Palestinians to attack US targets, urging them in a statement "to teach the American enemy harsh lessons".

The office of Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said he and the Defence Minister, Amir Peretz, "voiced regret over the deaths of Palestinian civilians … and offered emergency humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority and medical care for the wounded".

Despite the propaganda from apologists for state terrorism like this, the rocket attacks by Palestinian militants do not come from the rooftops of civilian homes and apartment blocks.

The isolated rocket site Israel was attempting to hit has been reported as being a kilometre from the town.

"We were asleep and we were awakened by shells hitting the house of my uncle next door. Then the windows to our houses were blasted away," said Asma al-Athamna, 14, who suffered wounds. "We fled the house only to be hunted outside. The shells killed my mother and sister and wounded all my siblings."

The carnage could bring world pressure on Israel to curb its Gaza offensive, begun in June after militants seized a soldier.

Fifty-four people were wounded in the shelling, which struck at least seven houses, the ministry and witnesses said.

Israeli ground forces pulled out of Beit Hanoun on Tuesday after a week-long operation aimed at curbing rocket attacks that killed at least 52 Palestinians, more than half of them militants, hospital officials and residents said.

This is being reported as the worst attack by Israel on civilians in Northern Gaza in some four years. In 2002, Israel destroyed a block of flats in Gaza, killing 14 civilians.

It seems remarkable now that only a few days ago, Hamas was pressing Israel to agree to a cease-fire. Obviously that has now gone right out the window.

From :

Hamas' military wing called Wednesday on Muslims around the world to attack American targets following reports that an Israeli tank strike killed 18 people in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun.

The Hamas-led Palestinian government distanced itself from the call, saying its fight was with Israel.

Hamas militants have historically directed their suicide bombings and rocket attacks only against Israeli targets.

"America is offering political, financial and logistic cover for the Zionist occupation crimes, and it is responsible for the Beit Hanoun massacre. Therefore, the people and the nation all over the globe are required to teach the American enemy tough lessons," Hamas' military wing said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

But Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-led Palestinian government, said the group had no intention of attacking American targets.

The King of Jordan called it all an "ugly massacre".

The European Union described the slaughter of innocent children as "profoundly shocking", followed by the usual, and useless, calls for restraint.

The Italian foreign minister said the firing of tank shells into homes where civilians were sleeping was clearly "a massacre" and unacceptable.

Syria chose to describe it as a massacre as well, and government officials are reportedly furious at Israel, after Damascus spent weeks trying to co-ordinate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, while pressuring Hamas and Fatah to sort out their proposed 'coalition government' plans.

Israel is now on "high alert" after the slaughters in Gaza. Palestinian militants said Israel should prepare body bags for the response to the killings.

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