Countdown: Clinton + Cindy McCain-Worst + 43,000 troops too sick to fight sent to Iraq

Dandelion Salad

VOTERSTHINKdotORG

May 08, 2008
MSNBC Keith Olbermann

Hillary: White Working Class Voters Not Ready For Black Pres

What’s next For Hillary Clinton?

Hillary Clinton’s EXIT SIGNS

Cindy McCain Worst Person In The World!!!

43,000 U.S Troops Too Sick To Fight Sent Back To Battlefield

GOP sharply divided on best method to spread fear about Obama (satire)

Robert

by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
May 8, 2008

WASHINGTON – As the November Presidential election looms nearer, Republicans are still undecided regarding the best strategy to use to discredit Democratic front runner, Barack Obama. “Republicans are split almost 50-50 whether to portray Obama as a scary black man or as a scary Muslim,” said Bill Windham, a GOP spokesman. “We are not sure why the Reverend Wright controversy had no traction,” said Windham, “but tying Obama to his rouge preacher is a tactic that had to drop from the strategy race.”

“Our polls show that Republicans in the South, especially among men over 40 favor using the race card,” said John Zogby of the Zogby International, “while younger Republican voters and Republican women prefer smearing Obama with the Muslim label. There will be some positives for the GOP that Obama’s name sounds like an Islamic terrorist, but it may be hard to convince any American with half a brain that Obama is a Muslim in light of his long term relationship with Reverend Wright, a Christian preacher. On the other hand,” Zogby said, “the race card usually works.”

GOP insiders are worried that the party split will last all the way to the Minneapolis convention in August, not giving the Republicans enough time before the November election to whip up the proper amount of hatred for Obama. “We will need to use fear on steroids against Barack,” said Harvey Schlemp, a GOP party leader, “to distract the American voter from what they should really be afraid of – crazy McCain being the one to answer the White House phone at 3AM.”

“It’s going to come down to the vote of the party loyalists,” said Karl Rove speaking on Hannity’s America on Fox, “it will up to the Super Bigots to put either divisions of race or religion over the top.”

A Human Rights Crime By Jimmy Carter

Dandelion Salad

By Jimmy Carter
ICH
05/08/08 “The Guardian

The world must stop standing idle while the people of Gaza are treated with such cruelty

The world is witnessing a terrible human rights crime in Gaza, where a million and a half human beings are being imprisoned with almost no access to the outside world. An entire population is being brutally punished.

This gross mistreatment of the Palestinians in Gaza was escalated dramatically by Israel, with United States backing, after political candidates representing Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Authority parliament in 2006. The election was unanimously judged to be honest and fair by all international observers.

Israel and the US refused to accept the right of Palestinians to form a unity government with Hamas and Fatah and now, after internal strife, Hamas alone controls Gaza. Forty-one of the 43 victorious Hamas candidates who lived in the West Bank have been imprisoned by Israel, plus an additional 10 who assumed positions in the short-lived coalition cabinet.

Regardless of one’s choice in the partisan struggle between Fatah and Hamas within occupied Palestine, we must remember that economic sanctions and restrictions on the supply of water, food, electricity and fuel are causing extreme hardship among the innocent people in Gaza, about one million of whom are refugees.

Israeli bombs and missiles periodically strike the area, causing high casualties among both militants and innocent women and children. Prior to the highly publicised killing of a woman and her four children last week, this pattern had been illustrated by a report from B’Tselem, the leading Israeli human rights organisation, which stated that 106 Palestinians were killed between February 27 and March 3. Fifty-four of them were civilians, and 25 were under 18 years of age.

On a recent trip through the Middle East, I attempted to gain a better understanding of the crisis. One of my visits was to Sderot, a community of about 20,000 in southern Israel that is frequently struck by rockets fired from nearby Gaza. I condemned these attacks as abominable acts of terrorism, since most of the 13 victims during the past seven years have been non-combatants.

Subsequently, I met with leaders of Hamas – a delegation from Gaza and the top officials in Damascus. I made the same condemnation to them, and urged that they declare a unilateral ceasefire or orchestrate with Israel a mutual agreement to terminate all military action in and around Gaza for an extended period.

They responded that such action by them in the past had not been reciprocated, and they reminded me that Hamas had previously insisted on a ceasefire throughout Palestine, including Gaza and the West Bank, which Israel had refused. Hamas then made a public proposal of a mutual ceasefire restricted to Gaza, which the Israelis also rejected.

There are fervent arguments heard on both sides concerning blame for a lack of peace in the Holy Land. Israel has occupied and colonised the Palestinian West Bank, which is approximately a quarter the size of the nation of Israel as recognised by the international community. Some Israeli religious factions claim a right to the land on both sides of the Jordan river, others that their 205 settlements of some 500,000 people are necessary for “security”.

All Arab nations have agreed to recognise Israel fully if it will comply with key United Nations resolutions. Hamas has agreed to accept any negotiated peace settlement between the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, provided it is approved in a referendum of the Palestinian people.

This holds promise of progress, but despite the brief fanfare and positive statements at the peace conference last November in Annapolis, the process has gone backwards. Nine thousand new Israeli housing units have been announced in Palestine; the number of roadblocks within the West Bank has increased; and the stranglehold on Gaza has been tightened.

It is one thing for other leaders to defer to the US in the crucial peace negotiations, but the world must not stand idle while innocent people are treated cruelly. It is time for strong voices in Europe, the US, Israel and elsewhere to speak out and condemn the human rights tragedy that has befallen the Palestinian people.

· Jimmy Carter, a former president of the United States, is founder of The Carter Center project-syndicate.org

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“The Second Palestinian Intifada” by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, May 8, 2008

Review of Ramzy Baroud’s recent book

Ramzy Baroud is a veteran Palestinian-American journalist and former Al-Jazeera producer. He also taught Mass Communication at Australia’s Curtin University of Technology and is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle, a vital resource for information on Israel/Palestine and much more.

Baroud is an international media veteran. He publishes many articles, commentaries and short stories, is a frequent radio and television guest, and has been a guest speaker at top universities around the country and abroad. He was also once guest speaker at the British House of Commons.

Baroud published his first book of Arabic poetry at age 18 and has since written two others – “Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion” and “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and subject of this review.

Baroud is well-qualified for his task. He was born and raised in a Gaza refugee camp and saw how Israeli soldiers repressed and humiliated young Palestinians like himself – “forcing (them) to their knees….and threatening to beat them if they did not spit upon a photo of Yasser Arafat.” They refused to insult his image even under threat, and “would endure pain and injury, but would say nothing.” They’ve taken plenty, and it’s unrelenting.

Baroud’s book is poignant and masterful. It blends his personal experience with a gripping narrative of his peoples’ struggle for justice. It’s about the strong against the weak, war, repression, displacement, massacres, targeted assassinations, and yet Palestinians resisted throughout the painful Second Intifada years. Baroud’s book was published in 2006. His timeline is from September 29, 2001 (the Intifada’s onset) through September 29, 2005. The Uprising ended, but the struggle continues.

Forward and Introduction

Two introductory sections precede the Intifada years that Baroud recounts. The first is by Kathleen and Bill Christison. They both formerly worked for CIA. Kathleen resigned after 16 years service. Bill retired after 28 years. Over time, their views ideologically changed, and both husband and wife are now vocal Israeli critics.

They reflect about Baroud’s grandfather. He was a Beit Daras village refugee, who lived in a Gaza camp for 40 years until his death hoping one day he’d return to his home. It was lost in the 1947-49 Nakba, an old man’s dream proved fruitless, and it “symbolizes….the tragedy of the Palestinian people and their great strength.”

For decades, Zionists tried to ignore the historical record, delegitimize Palestinian claims to their land, dehumanize and remove them from more it it, crush their spirit, seize their land, destroy their homes, and erase their existence. Yet a proud people persist. The Christisons refer to their “great strength: their resilience and remarkable endurance (despite being) ignored, exiled, repeatedly dispossessed, (viciously) oppressed, occasionally massacred,” yet their struggle for liberation continues.

Jennifer Loewenstein is a political activist and University of Wisconsin Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program. She added her reflections in an introductory section. From her travels to Occupied Palestine, she wrote of her experience – getting through checkpoints, for her as an American Jew, what it’s like for Palestinian Arabs, how demeaning and punishing it is, how Israelis control the Occupied Territories, and how they take full advantage to dismember “Palestinian culture and society….”

She describes how Israeli settlers live compared to their Palestinian neighbors – “neatly packed housing units….cheerfully clean, with an assortment of modern businesses available to (their) residents.” Some homes have swimming pools, “all of them (have) small, green gardens,” streets are lined with “flowers, glossy green shrubs, and well-tended trees.”

In contrast, across the West Bank and Gaza (before the disengagement), “poor Arab villages (are) huddled together in valleys overlooked by hilltop settlements” on the choicest land. In most cases, they’re “encircled by….IDF military outposts with….watchtowers, barbed wire fences, jeep patrols….scores of entrapping checkpoints” and for-Jews only roads. Big cities are separated from smaller ones, which, in turn, are “cut off from villages….” They, in turn, are detached from farmland, water, businesses, schools, clinics and “access to the outside world.”

Under these conditions, Palestinians are viciously confronted. They’re vilified as “militants, gunmen and insurgents.” These are code words for “terrorists,” and the spring 2002 “Operation Defensive Shield” was one of many assaults against them. Israeli forces rampaged through Ramallah. They destroyed civic institutions and NGO records; ransacked buildings and homes; randomly smashed furniture and appliances; scrawled graffiti on walls; covered floors with food, drink, mud, urine, feces, and other type trash; removed computer hard drives; then smashed the equipment beyond repair.

It wasn’t enough. They wrecked everything in sight – burning, shredding and at times shooting at photos, posters and pictures on walls. They vandalized radio and TV stations, banks, schools, hospitals, clinics, government facilities and cultural centers. In the end, they justified their actions as “a necessary part of the ‘war on terror.’ “

This was a single instance of what Israelis inflict willfully, wantonly, viciously, and randomly throughout the Occupied Territories. All the while, world community support is firm, while Palestinian self-defense is called terrorism. Both sides are urged to show restraint as if the struggle were between equal adversaries.

Nonetheless, in spite of everything Israel unleashes, the dream of a liberated Palestine remains strong. That’s the goal in spite of continued repression, Oslo’s betrayal, fiasco at Camp David in 2000, decades of built up frustration, and Hizbollah’s forcing Israel’s May 2000 South Lebanon withdrawal remains inspiring. It sewed the seeds of the Second Intifada. Anger and discontent were building, then erupted in a popular uprising on September 29, 2000. Ariel Sharon provoked it by “visiting” the Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) the previous day. Israel responded harshly, a cycle of resistance and retaliation followed, and the struggle continued ever since. Baroud recounts its nominal five year period.

He begins by stating that it “will be etched in history as an era in which a major shift in the rules of the game occurred.” It was fueled by:

— decades of continued, repressive occupation;

— desperate young people in frustration voluntarily blowing themselves up; their resistance and defiance is called “terrorism;” Palestinians call them heroic; Baroud urges Palestinians to resist targeting civilians regardless of how Israel acts; he believes it’s vital to seize a higher ground, maintain moral values, and confine resistance to self-defense and targeting an illegal occupation;

— the construction of the 721 kilometer Separation Wall on confiscated Palestinian land; the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled it illegal and ordered it be removed; Israel ignored the ruling and continues to build its unfinished parts; its consequences have been devastating; Palestinians have been cut off from work, schools, medical facilities, and their community life is seriously impaired; farmers are separated from their land; it’s an act of land seizure and collective punishment; and

— a decades-long struggle now “an eternal divide between two peoples,” and its gulf continues to widen.

Baroud was in high school when the First Intifada erupted in December 1987. In spite of it, residents of his Gaza refugee camp “were consumed with….other more” daily concerns: “would they eat today, would they find clean water, would they seize their long-awaited freedom?” Palestinians took to the streets, and Baroud joined them in their chants. He also began to write with poetry his earliest efforts. They evolved into chants, were “published” on Gaza refugee camp walls, and there they stayed.

Baroud was studying in America when the Second Intifada began. Like the first one, Palestinians were unfairly blamed and condemned by a media as one-sided as the nations they report from. Baroud confronts them, and his book and writings are his “contribution” to the mostly neglected Second Uprising narrative and the Palestinian struggle overall.

He has no political affiliation and intends it solely as an independent view. His aim is direct and forthright – to represent and report on “the same principles espoused by countless (numbers of Palestinians) in small and over-crowded refugee camps where freedom is proudly cherished over life.” Without comment, his book is dedicated to them and everyone who supports his efforts to reveal what the mainstream continues to suppress.

Intifada – Year One (2000-01)

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is the main protagonist. He willfully incited violence before becoming Israel’s 11th Prime Minister in March 2001, and consider what Palestinians were up against.

He was brutish and violent from his earliest days as a platoon commander during Israel’s “War of Independence.” He later led the infamous Unit 101 that carried out vicious and criminal assaults against Palestinian civilians, including women and children.

As IDF’s southern command head, he conducted a reign of terror against Gaza – indiscriminate killings, targeted assassinations, wanton destruction of hundreds of homes, displacement of thousands of civilians, and uprooting their lives. It got him called “the Bulldozer,” and for all of it he was never held to account.

In 1981, as defense minister, he led the infamous Lebanon attack. He bombed civilian populations, killed around 20,000 Lebanese, and oversaw what British journalist Robert Fisk called “one of the most shocking war crimes of the 20th century” – the Sabra and Shatila massacres of about 3000 men, women, children and infants in a 62 hour proxy Phalange militia force rampage.

He always opposed peace. He voted against the 1979 treaty with Egypt, the southern Lebanon withdrawal in 1985, the 1991 Madrid peace conference, the Knesset 1993 Oslo agreement plenum vote, the Hebron 1997 agreement, and he abstained from voting on peace with Jordan in 1994.

He was at it again on September 28, 2000 prior to becoming Prime Minister. Accompanied by over 1000 Israeli troops and police, he staged a provocative (photo-op) visit to Islam’s third holiest site – the Haram al-Sharif sacred shrine and Al-Aqsa Mosque. It ignited “uncontainable violence” and Second Intifada the following day.

Baroud suggests that the Second Uprising may have been “rooted in south Lebanon.” After years of “empty promises, meaningless summits and equally barren accords,” Palestinians were at a “numbing impasse.” To the north, things were much different. After a decade of occupation, a few hundred Hizbollah fighters defeated the IDF, forced their withdrawal in May 2000, then did it again in summer 2006 (beyond Baroud’s timeline).

It shook the notion of IDF invincibility, made its commanders want to regain their machismo, emboldened Palestinians to resist, and ignited the events that followed. A political element is important as well – the failed Camp David II July 2000 talks. They were all take and no give. Clinton, Arafat and Barak were the protagonists. The major media played up Barak’s “generous offer,” Arafat spurning peace, with no mention that Israel presented nothing in writing and had no documents or maps.

Barak presented a take it or leave it betrayal, no different than similar past ones. Palestinians were offered nothing in return for renouncing armed struggle, recognizing Israel’s right to exist, leaving unresolved issues for later, and agreeing to be Israel’s enforcer and have the West Bank divided into four isolated cantons surrounded by expanding Israeli settlements on the Territory’s choicest land. Arafat had to reject it and was blamed for not being a serious peace partner. It later sealed his fate.

In the meantime, Barak fortified settlements, sent in more military forces, set the stage for September 2000, and Sharon took full advantage as explained above. The majority of Israelis approved and elected him Prime Minister on February 6, 2001 with the Intifada already underway.

In his new capacity, Sharon escalated things further by “unleash(ing) a bloody onslaught on the disadvantaged, disappointed, and fed-up Palestinian masses….” Khan Yunis was one of his first targets. Its refugee camp houses 60,000, it’s one of the most crowded places on earth, its homes are makeshift, the residents are impoverished, garbage is everywhere, and human misery and despair are very real for these long-suffering people.

Earlier, the IDF attacked them in March 1956 killing 275 civilians in one night. It emboldened the camp’s resistance, made it a target during the First Intifada, dozens were killed, thousands injured, maimed and arrested, yet survivors continued to resist. It became a target again during the Second Uprising with a horrific toll on the people. IDF forces savagely attacked, unknown chemical agents were used, missiles and helicopter gunships were unleashed, bulldozers destroyed homes, many were killed and wounded, and when it ended an entire neighborhood was obliterated. The Palestinian Authority (PA) couldn’t intervene, appealed for outside help, but had to stand by helpless when none came.

Targeted assassinations are also ignored. They violate international law, but not according to Israel’s High Court of Justice. In December 2006 (beyond Baroud’s timeline), it ruled that these killings aren’t in violation, and that each one must be evaluated on its own merit. This is what passes for justice in a nation that affords it only to Jews. It’s also one that systematically kills, starves and brutalizes an entire people. It collectively punishes them, gets full western backing, huge US funding, and one-sided media support without exception. Criticizing Israel is the most taboo of all issues. Journalists who dare can count on a very short career.

Instead they go along to get along and label victims terrorists with clever code words like “militants” and “gunmen.” Baroud knows them well, the overwhelming force they face, and how ruthlessly it’s unleashed. He calls resistance fighters: “dedicated and honest individuals, men and women (and children) who represent large segments of Palestinian society with its wide spectrum of political and ideological affiliations.” They embrace “freedom, liberty, and human rights.” They show courage and will, have endured for six decades, survived every Israeli harsh tactic, won’t ever surrender, so the “free” world views them as “terrorists.”

It doesn’t matter how often Israel violates international law, how many UN resolutions it ignores, or that it disdains the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling against the Separation Wall. With western backing against a disenfranchised people, it gets free reign, and it became easier post-9/11. Sharon took full advantage.

Baroud cites lessons from the Intifada’s first year:

— “audacious….institutionalized violence,” but even worse

— Israeli Knesset legislation “in willful and blatant violation of international law.”

In place of Geneva and Nuremberg, Sharon’s model is Machiavelli’s “The Prince:”

— ruthlessly seizing power (in Sharon’s case manipulating public opinion to get i);

— justifying any actions to keep it;

— believing a stable state is the only morality;

— people are of no consequence;

— it’s best to be feared and loved but if can’t have both fear works best;

— using the law to institutionalize repression;

— having a strong military to enforce it;

— today a supportive media as well;

— the enemy must be portrayed as criminals, savages, terrorists; they’re wicked; we’re righteous;

— mass-killings and imprisonments, repression, occupation, land seizures and total disregard for civil and human rights are acceptable ways to govern;

— then convince the world, you’re the victim acting in self-defense.

Intifada Year Two (2002)

The struggle continued and got world attention and International Solidarity Movement (ISM) support. It’s an August 2001-founded “Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the Israeli occupation….using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles.” It provides “international protection and a voice….to nonviolently resist an overwhelming military occupation force.”

Israel tolerates no opposition. It attacks its members – kills, wounds, imprisons and deports them. Yet, like Palestinians, they persist. They’re volunteers from around the world, coming to the Occupied Territories (OPT), risking their lives, “laying down before tanks, breaking curfews, (acting as) human shields,” and defying an illegal occupation. The UN gives them no legitimacy, and Israel calls them “anti-Israeli radicals.”

Its anti-Palestinian jihad persists, and it came to a head in early April 2002 with the infamous Jenin refugee camp invasion. It’s the home of 13,000 displaced Palestinians in the northern West Bank. The IDF cut off the camp and city from outside help; destroyed hundreds of buildings; buried people inside under ruble; cut off power and water; kept out food and essentials, including medical aid; and killed dozens of mostly civilian men, women and children.

With no outside help and little for self-defense, Palestinians resisted, and inflicted losses on the vaunted IDF. One Palestinian inside the camp on a cell phone with a dying battery reached Al-Jazeera television and said: ” I just wanted to tell the proud people of the world not to worry, we are resisting and will fight to the last drop of blood.” It’s the price many there paid and keep paying as the struggle continues.

Throughout the ordeal, the West, US administration, Congress and dominant media react the same way – justifying Israeli actions and condemning “Palestinian terror.”

A definition is in order, and noted scholar and activist Equal Ahmad offered one a decade ago. He identified five types of terrorism:

— crimes of any sort, individual or organized;

— pathology (by the disturbed) who “want the attention of the world” and may kill to get it;

— political by a private group;

— religious like Christian and Muslim killings during Papal crusades; Catholics killing Protestants and the reverse in Northern Ireland; Sunnis and Shiites killing each other; any groups claiming God-inspired violence is justified; and by far the worst of the five types –

— state terrorism committed by nations against other states, groups, or individuals, including state-sponsored assassinations.

Individual one-on-one violence makes headlines and is condemned. So is individual self-defense and retaliation against state repression; but when Israel or America commit state terror, it’s called self-defense; when they wage aggressive wars, they’re called liberating one.

When Palestinians demand international law protection, they’re denied and ignored. When, in frustration, they blow themselves up in a crowd of Israelis, no one understands, they’re condemned as “terrorists” and are called “enemies of peace.” Who listens to how to end this – stop attacking them, and they’ll have no reason to retaliate.

Instead, Israel commits more state terrorism, calls it part of America’s “war on terror,” and Baroud puts it this way: “Fighting terror is the new trend.” It so “aggressive, powerful countries (can) crush weaker foes, deprive them of freedom (and keep) blam(ing) them for all the woes of the world.” We’re “expected to believe (that) Israel is defending itself as though Palestinians….occup(ied) Israeli territories, besiege(d) Israeli people, bl(ew) up their homes, st(ole) their land, and gun(ned) down their children.” We’re supposed to hate the victim and praise the powerful. “How long will we be blinded by empty slogans,” truth reversal, “unexplained hatred, and pretentious condemnations?”

Intifada Year Three (2003)

Israeli killings and targeted assassinations escalated in the third Intifada year. Retaliatory suicide bombings followed, and the cycle of violence begot still more. It claimed the lives of two of Baroud’s cousins. They were PA Bureij refugee camp police officers who were celebrating the Eid al-Fitr feast when they were killed. Israeli tanks invaded the camp. The two men got their rifles to face heavy armor. They fought so others could flee, then died from a shell explosion they couldn’t avoid.

Bureij is “ingrained in (Baroud’s) mind.” It was his mother’s first refugee home and his grandmother’s. Now it’s special because his cousins died there and for their valor were branded “militants” – meaning “terrorists.”

Baroud calls the Second Intifada “uniquely different” from the first one. Efforts from 1987 to 1993 were largely symbolic. The Second Uprising used new methods and went beyond “the traditional stone-throwing (and sling shots) of the past.” Armed resistance was more significant and legitimate than ever, and international law supports it. It clearly gives sovereign states the right to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter. What about individuals and groups?

The General Assembly’s 1965 20th session affirmed it for the first time. It recognized “the legitimacy of struggle by the people under colonial rule to exercise their rights to self-determination and independence.” It also urged “all States to provide material and moral assistance to the national liberation movements in colonial territories.” In 1974, the General Assembly passed Resolution 3236. It fully and properly recognizes collective Palestinian rights and UN Charter self-determination affirmation. It also granted their right to national independence, sovereignty, and right to return to their homes.

The General Assembly went further in 1975. Its Resolution 3375 recognized the PLO as a liberation movement and its right to represent its people under Resolution 3236. Additional Palestinian support came from the 1977 Geneva Convention Protocol I (Act 1 C4). It declared that armed struggle may be used as a last resort to exercise the right of self-determination. These measures affirmed the Second Uprising’s legitimacy, now with strong international law backing it.

Year three also saw the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) appoint Mahmoud Abbas as Prime Minister. An intense debate followed as it represented Yasser Arafat’s first challenge as PA President. Abbas’ prominence was the result of two separate Palestinian movements – one wanting true reforms and democracy; the other purely political to forge “peace” with Israel using the US-devised “Road Map.” It caused a PA and Fatah split. One side refused to negotiate under military assaults and settlement expansions. Their leaders (including Marwan Barghouti) were either assassinated or arrested and imprisoned. Others still at large are wanted men.

Abbas represents the other side. He was an Oslo formulator, only “moderately corrupt,” and, in deference to Israel and Washington, insists that all violence end and Palestinians disarm. Even worse, he wanted negotiations to resume with a sweetener – his willingness to “compromise” (read surrender) on fundamental issues that ignited armed struggle in the past. The Sharon government loved Abbas because he’d sell out his people for his own self-interest. He was very unpopular as a result, and only an Israeli-rigged election made him PA President later on. More on that below.

On August 6, Palestinian factions concluded a meeting with Abbas. Although described as positive, it was full of grievances. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others agreed to a three month “hudna” (ceasefire) starting June 29 on condition Israel reciprocate. Palestinians honored its commitment, but Israelis didn’t and claimed it had no obligation to do it. As a result, killings, assassinations, land seizures, arrests and more incitement followed as before. Washington backs everything Israel does, the ceasefire wouldn’t last, and another peace process was stillborn.

Frustration led to rage with two August 12 bombings in Israel after a multi-week one-sided lull. Sharon’s position was clear. He ignored the ceasefire, demanded unconditional surrender and insisted resistance groups be disbanded. On top of it, throughout his life, he threw all his weight against a peace he never wanted and wouldn’t accept. For decades (and most notably under George Bush), Washington has the same design and showed it repeatedly in UN Security Council vetos of everything unfavorable to Israel. In the eyes of many independent observers, the US is a “dishonest broker and a biased party (with no) genuine interest in (MIddle East) peace and stability.”

At the same time, rumors about an Arafat-Abbas “power struggle” emerged. It was hard to imagine with the long-time Palestinian leader hugely popular and convincingly elected. In contrast, Abbas had a rock-bottom 3% approval rating so where was the disagreement. It was over differing visions. Abbas favored nonviolence and surrender while Arafat opposed suicide bombings but knew Israeli violence demanded resistance.

In the eyes of Tel Aviv and Washington, it made him persona non grata with Abbas a prefered safe alternative. He was even more conciliatory by vowing to crack down on Palestinian resistance, step up security, and pretty much tow the Israeli line. The plan ahead was clear – remove Arafat and replace him with a reliable Abbas.

It was a bad time for Palestinians to lose one of their iconic best. Baroud learned of it in a troubling email – “Edward Said passed away this morning.” He’d suffered for years and finally succumbed to a decade-long battle with leukemia. Baroud describes him like many other admirers, including this reviewer: He “stood for everything that is virtuous. His moral stance was even more powerful than (his) essays, books, and music (as critic and consummate performer)….”

“He was an extraordinary intellectual….thoughtful (and) inimitable. And because of that, he was a target for those who wish to silence (powerful voices) of truth.” Said was never silent or compromising in his beliefs or virtue. As a Palestinian, he was denied the right to live freely in his homeland. He spent his life instead teaching, writing, speaking forcefully and traveling the world to “convey the pain of his people (like no) intellectual” before him had done. No “wonder he….was adored by (his) people (and) detested by the” powerful he opposed. He died on September 25, 2003. He’s sorely missed.

Others now carry on in his place and Baroud is one of them. He notes that the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights may work in some places but in others, like Occupied Palestine, it’s just “ink on paper.” Nonetheless, it endorses the notion that we’re all “born free and equal in dignity and rights.” Its Article 3 declares: “Every one has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Article 4 says: “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude,” and under Article 6 “Every one has the right to recognition everywhere before the law.”

Palestinians enjoy none of these and other basic human rights. They’re falsely imprisoned and tortured; viciously attacked and killed; surrounded, harassed and humiliated; ethnically cleansed from their land; stripped of their homes and crops; denied their livelihoods and right of free movement; forced to endure a brutalizing occupation; and yet, on their own and without aid, they’re united in their decades-long liberating struggle. “Why,” asked Said? “Because (their cause is) just..noble (and) a moral quest for equality and human rights” everyone deserves.

In Intifada year three, Palestinians were sacrificed on the alter of continued Israeli viciousness. Attacks against them increased, they resisted as international law allows, media vilification followed, and Baroud reflects what most of them believe: that “the will of the people might some day prevail over tyranny and occupation. And it will, of this I am certain.”

Intifada Year Four (2004)

The new year brought more pain and agony as well as “profound changes (and) insurmountable challenges.” Hundreds of Palestinians died, countless others kept suffering, and Sharon’s Separation Wall “became a reality” in spite of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling it illegal in July.

Targeted assassinations continued as well. Khalil al-Zabin, a 59-year old Palestinian journalist was gunned down outside his Gaza office in March. He was a close Arafat advisor, ran a newspaper, was funded by the PA, and “was entrusted with the complex and controversial subject of human rights.”

Later in the month, Israelis targeted Hamas’ spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The IDF murdered him while he was returning from early morning prayer at a Gaza mosque. He was old, paralyzed, confined to a wheelchair, and no match for an Israeli missile that killed him and nine others.

Less than a month later, Israel assassinated Dr. Abdelaziz Rantisi, a top Hamas leader. Yassin’s importance was spiritual, and he was respected and cherished for his role. Rantisi, on the other hand, was a hands-on political operative. Removing him was part of Israel’s scheme to destroy Hamas’ infrastructure and render it ineffective. More killings followed against even moderate leaders, Israel’s reign of terror was relentless, it flagrantly violates international law, and Baroud called the elimination of resistance leaders “a counter-productive military strategy.”

Gaza’s history since the 1970s shows why. After the 1967 occupation, Palestinians sought alternative strategies. Armed struggle surged in the 1970s, Gaza was its hub, extreme poverty and overcrowding fueled it, and proximity to Egypt aided it at a time Palestinians “were determined to become the defenders of their own plight….”

Israel’s response was savage, and it took its toll. Almost all resistance members were killed, imprisoned or forced into exile. A period of “hibernation” followed. Israel then invaded Lebanon in 1982, PLO factions were dispersed, and “homegrown resistance” reborn. It led to the 1987 Uprising – the First Intifada, a popular revolt against a repressive occupation. It also gave birth to Hamas. It became an integral part of Gaza, a full-fledged political and military force and much more. It provided essential services Gazans lacked – clinics, universities, vast charity networks, even daycare centers. It’s little wonder it drew support it now enjoys.

Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Palestinian resistance changed. It fostered solidarity, and unlike in the 1970s “the killing of one resistance fighter (encouraged) ten others (to) join the struggle.” For Israel, it was disastrous. Eliminating old leaders gave rise to new equally effective ones. It kept Israelis busy assassinating them, one by one, and by assaults on Palestinian towns taking scores.

A May 14 Rafah attack was one of many. It lasted a week and claimed 40 mostly civilian lives along with many more elsewhere in Gaza. Targeted assassinations continued as well. Sharon kept murdering with impunity with plenty of US funding, weapons and political support. Bush administration officials also rejected the ICJ ruling against the Separation Wall. They called the Court an “(in)appropriate forum to resolve a political issue (that should) specifically (be left to) the road map.”

As for the Palestinians, the ruling reaffirmed their right to resist with full World Court backing. It also exposed the “PA’s bankrupt approach” – localizing the Palestinian struggle instead of pursuing it within a regional and international context. In addition, it led to a PLC report and its galling evidence of corruption. It revealed that Palestinian companies had been smuggling and selling Israel (discounted) cement to speed up the Wall’s construction, and some PA ministers were involved in the scheme.

Meanwhile political crises affected the PA. Israel battered Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters, confined him inside it, and co-opted his prime minister, Ahmed Oorei, to pressure him. For a while crisis was averted, but Israeli efforts persisted – to force out an unwanted leader and replace him with a more “moderate” one.

At a time prospects looked grim, Israel killed 140 mostly civilian men, women and children in a devastating Gaza raid. The media championed it, said Arafat orchestrated the Uprising, called him no partner for peace, and vilified him for turning down Barak’s “generous (Camp David 2000) offer.”

Another element was Sharon’s “Disengagement Plan” that was all political subterfuge and no gracious gesture. Washington referred to his “painful concessions.” It was all a sham, and close Sharon advisor Dov Weisglass explained it to Haaretz. He said the scheme was to “freeze” the peace process, assure 80% of West Bank settlements remain unaffected, erase any chance for an independent Palestinian state, and do it all with Washington’s blessing and funding. He added that this also shuts down discussion of the right of return, borders and Jerusalem. In other words, it was all win for Israel and more defeat for Palestinians with Gaza even after “disengagement” staying occupied and reentered or attacked militarily at Israel’s discretion.

Baroud closes out the year with the passing of Arafat. He took ill in his compound, there’s strong evidence Israel poisoned him, and his personal physician (Dr. Ashraf Al Kurdi) believes it. He was flown to France on October 29 and died in Paris on November 11 at age 75.

Some suggested it ended an era, but Baroud believes that it’s rash to represent the Palestinian struggle through the legacy of one man, even Yasser Arafat. Some called him autocratic, but they ignore his “political, cultural, and intellectual mix….his ability to mean many different things to….different people.” Whatever his faults, he was an important figure who unified the Palestinian struggle and symbolized it. “But Palestinians are resilient,” states Baroud. They’ll learn “how to deal with life without Arafat and his mystique….the march to freedom would certainly carry on.”

At the end of another painful year, Baroud remained hopeful and awaited the new year with his annual thought: “I pray that the coming year will bring peace and justice in our troubled world.” He noted that “Onslaughts that were designed to ravish and destroy a land and its people were in fact creating unity and igniting an awakening among the forces of good all over the world.”

The Fifth and Ending Intifada Year (2005)

No official announcement signaled its end, and talk at the time was of a Third Uprising because of a one-sided ceasefire. Presidential elections were scheduled for January with Hamas more concerned about parliamentary and municipal ones later on. Winning substantially would establish its popular legitimacy – politically as well as morally and religiously.

As Israel’s presidential choice, Abbas was favored to win, and how could he lose the way Israel arranged it. He was safe and reliable, represented the status quo, and categorically opposed armed struggle. Baroud describes him as a man without vision and with “no meaningful alternative to armed resistance.”

To assure he won big, “Israel resorted to its usual tactics of intimidating other candidates who dared” challenge their choice for the top PA job – a man more concerned about Israeli security than his own peoples’ rights and wishes.

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi was his main opponent. Baroud calls him an “eloquent and dedicated physician and activist….He was never (involved in) corruption (and he provided) free medical services (for) tens of thousands of the poorest Palestinians.” He respected human rights, believed in democracy and national unity, and was “one of the most influential founders and leaders in the democratic opposition movement.”

Those aren’t attributes Israel prefers, so he was targeted with a vengeance for having them. While campaigning, IDF soldiers beat him at checkpoints, choked him with his necktie, and inflicted wounds on his hands, foot and nose. He and other candidates were arrested repeatedly, harassed and beaten, demeaned in the media, and Israel called it democracy.

Imagine the outrage if this happened in America or any western country. It got scant notice in Occupied Palestine and Israel where the election was reduced to charade, and its outcome preordained. Abbas, of course, won. Israel got its puppet, and Palestinians were again betrayed.

The February Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt) summit followed. Western leaders hailed its success. Once again, Palestinians got nothing. Concluding pro forma statements promised continued efforts to pursue the Road Map, and a formal Intifada end was declared.

Baroud chose to defer judgment on the outcome and examine the Second Uprising in a historical context. He noted how “Israeli governments….mastered the technique of pushing Palestinians to the brink,” punishing them collectively, seizing their land, and destroying their homes and lives. Resistance naturally followed. The First and Second Uprisings reflected the aspirations of most Palestinians – “a truly sovereign Palestinian state in all territories illegally occupied…in 1967.” After decades of abuse and disappointment, they’re willing to sacrifice 78% of historic Palestine and settle for the remaining (OPT) 22%.

Israel, however, rejects even these modest demands. Its notion of peace is to “drive Palestinians out of their land….expand (illegal) settlements….expropriate large (West Bank) chunks as ‘security zones,’ and further alienate and completely fence off Occupied East Jerusalem.”

In 2000, Israel’s scheme got sidetracked for a time. Arafat refused any further sacrifice, and the Second Intifada erupted. After Arafat’s 2004 death, Sharm el-Sheikh followed and with it revived Israeli hopes. Palestinians were told to “overcome their violent tendencies,” assure Israel gets the security it “rightfully needs and deserves.” The term “occupation” was never mentioned. No Palestinian grievances were addressed. Settlements expansions would continue, the right of return was a non-starter, occupation remained, seizing all of East Jerusalem is planned, unconditional Palestinian surrender is demanded, and all that matters is what Israel wants.

Abbas is the perfect “peace partner.” But Hamas in Gaza became credible after its December 2004 electoral success. Baroud called it a “dramatic shift in the way the movement was perceived nationally and internationally.” The defining event was Arafat’s passing. It “shifted the political momentum in (their) favor.” Fatah was deeply corrupted and without its leader thrown into “structural and organizational mayhem.” Hamas won control of over one-third of OPT municipal seats, including most major cities. It signaled what would soon follow.

Palestinians view Hamas as credible – for its social services and confronting Israel militarily. Its unilateral ceasefire commitment, in spite of repeated Israeli violations, also enhanced its reputation. Before its January 2006 stunner, British diplomats met with Hamas twice and EU officials did it “every 10 days to two weeks,” according to a senior Hamas member. Reports were that Israel was “fuming” about it and the Foreign Ministry said “Europeans should be strengthening ‘moderate’ Palestinians and not appeasing the ‘extremists.’ ” Israel applies that designation to anyone opposing its OPT agenda or who confronts its worst abuses, let alone the way Hamas does.

Post-“disengagement,” Gaza remained occupied, but talks, nonetheless, proceeded on core Palestinian issues – border crossings, free movement, the airport, seaport, and Israel’s stranglehold on the OPT economy. After the 1967 occupation, Israel controlled border crossings into Egypt and Jordan. The economic impact was devastating.

Both countries offered Palestinian professionals employment that could lead to better opportunities in oil-rich Arab states. In addition, income earned abroad was sent home, and needy families relied on it.

With border crossings controlled, traffic across them halted, so Palestinians had to depend on Israel for relief. Its economy is vibrant, jobs plentiful during good economic times, and Israeli employers exploited a vulnerable labor pool. With no other option available, Palestinians were easy pickings. They became part of Israel’s cheap labor force, were forced to work “under harsh and even inhumane conditions,” accept meager compensation, and be offered no benefits like health care, pensions, or insurance covering personal injury. It was the beginning of a “historic….economic dependency” that was all downhill from there.

It’s the reason Oslo was welcomed and each successive engagement to address needs previous ones hadn’t met. With Israel controlling the process and having one-sided western support, outcomes each time were predictable – hopes again dashed, talk only empty rhetoric, promises made and then broken, and no end to an occupation and all its harshness. Israel wanted PA partners for one purpose – as “prison guards” for the Territories so forget about peace and concessions.

Conflict is planned, a “high level of chaos” assured, and the idea is to show that Palestinians are “innately lawless and irresponsible” to justify continued crackdowns and occupation for a people not ready for prime time on their own.

The Second Uprising marked its fifth anniversary on September 29. The cost in bloodshed was huge, the suffering immense, and there was nothing to show for the sacrifice as the struggle entered “one of its most consequential challenges yet.”

Epilogue

Baroud symbolizes the spirit of his people. It’s magnificent and contagious. He reflects on “reality versus rhetoric.” In spite of decades of disappointment, “peace and justice movements (everywhere see) the Palestinian people as an icon of resistence….no other struggle in the world….symbolize(s so much) to so many people.” Palestinians are a “rallying point for the dispossessed and the aspiring underdog.”

Their reality – repression, occupation, suffering, isolation, anger, “packed prisons, ruined lives,” six decades of hopes raised and then shattered.

“Symbolic Palestine – the dream….for (the) long hijacked….reality.”

On December 26, 2005, barely months after the Second Uprising ended, a historic era did as well. Sharon suffered a stoke, sunk into coma, and some believe he’s dead. The “Butcher of Beirut” is a brutish war criminal, but the US media extolled him. “Replacing the Irreplaceable” read one headline, and lots of others picked up on the theme to honor a “great statesman” whose crimes went unmentioned.

On January 25, 2006, one month later, Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections were held. Their outcome was stunning and historic. It was the second PLC election ever and a momentous event in Palestinian history as Hamas won in a landslide – 74 of the 132 seats at stake. Baroud explained it this way:

“….Palestinian voters were obviously fed up with the Israeli occupation, the US’s dishonest role as a ‘peacekeeper,’ and the indefensible corruption of the Palestinian Authority.” They chose Hamas for its “commitment to social services and corruption-free history….” The movement is the “antithesis” of Oslo’s ills and betrayal. Palestinians voted for “unity, not exclusion.”

The western response was harsh and predictable – no donor money to a government that won’t acknowledge Israel’s existence and is “dedicated to Israel’s destruction.” It was grossly hyperbolic and exaggerated, but easy to say when Hamas’ response is silenced. It’s also easy to ignore its exemplary unilateral ceasefire throughout most of 2005.

Baroud’s book ended before the West’s crackdown on Hamas began – before all outside aid was cut off, economic sanctions and embargo instituted, political isolation enforced, Israeli rule tightened, daily attacks increased, a Fatah insurgent force enlisted to confront the new government militarily, and then (since June 2007) a medieval siege imposed.

It’s taken a horrific toll on the Territory and its people. They face isolation, repeated incursions, abductions, killings, targeted assassinations, and mostly against civilian men, women and children. Their power and fuel supplies were cut, essentials denied, the most inhumane punishments imposed, they continue to be at this writing, and the world community remains dismissive. They sanctified the siege, fully stick by Israel, uncompromisingly vilify Hamas, ignore its conciliatory efforts, so Palestinians continue to suffer and die.

Baroud covers it all on his Palestine Chronicle web site. It’s a vital resource for what’s happening in the Territories and much more. He calls the Palestinians a “force to be reckoned with,” and ends his book with four thoughts:

— despite the Second Uprising’s initial success, the PA reverted to its same failed approach; the Intifada’s legacy is thus discredited;

— any resolution of the decades-long struggle must include the diaspora – the millions of scattered-around-the-world refugees and their right of return; international law guarantees it; so does UN Resolution 194;

— some issues are non-negotiable – the existence of Palestine for generations; resolution demands it be duly recognized; and a final important point –

— Palestinian resistance will continue; struggling for six decades proves it; in the face of intensified Israeli oppression it’s resilient, and history’s lesson is clear; ferment builds, then erupts; renewed Palestinian response is assured, and their struggle for “freedom, human rights, and justice” will persist; more important, it’s unbeatable; ultimately, it’ll prevail.

In the meantime, Baroud list’s the five-year Intifada toll at his book’s end. Citing multiple sources, it includes:

— 4166 Palestinian deaths, including 886 children and 271 women;

— 554 extra-judicial assassinations; 253 of them were bystanders;

— 3530 disabled or maimed;

— 8600 imprisoned, including 288 children and 115 women;

— 576 students killed, including 199 university-level ones and 32 teachers;

— another 4713 students injured and 1389 detained;

— 2,329,659 dunums of confiscated land;

— another 73,613 dunums of razed land plus 1,355,290 uprooted trees; and

— 7761 demolished homes and another 93,842 damaged.

This was a five-year toll. The six-decade holocaust is incalculable. It will take generations to heal and renew. For now, conditions continue to worsen. They can no longer be tolerated. In Israel’s 60th year, the world no longer can wait.

Ramzy Baroud is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Ramzy Baroud

Global Research Associate Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM – 1PM US Central time for cutting edge discussions with distinguished guests.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8867

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MEND: The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta

by Jennifer
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Jennifer’s blog post
Justice and Peace
Mayl 8, 2008

The oppressive and repressive activities of the oil companies and the Nigerian State [sic] impact women first and foremost. During military occupation of communities, the women suffer psychologically, emotionally, and physically. They are raped and maimed. They suffer as their sons get arrested and killed…and feel it most when their brothers, husbands and lovers are tortured maimed and killed. The military and armed police have brutalized and sacked whole communities, assaulting and beating indiscriminately. The objective is to humiliate, intimidate, and eliminate all those who resist oil exploitation activities. ~ Emem J. Okan

On November 10, 1995, a small group of ten human rights activists including Ken Saro-Wiwa was led to a prison yard to face punishment for their crimes. Ken Saro Wiwa was executed by hanging. The Nigerian military wanted to make an example of individuals who might consider further protest of the destruction of their land, the poisoning of their air and water, and the theft of their natural resources, namely oil.

In September of 1999, a group of journalists with the Essential Action and Global Exchange spent ten days in the Niger Delta meeting with community leaders, residents, and state and local officials. According to the report that subsequently followed released on January 5, 2000, “There is a long and terrible record of environmental destruction and human rights violations in the oil-producing regions of Nigeria. The gross level of environmental degradation caused by oil exploration and extraction in the Niger Delta has gone unchecked for the past 30 years.” However, in spite of the atrocities committed by the Nigerian government, Shell, and other multi-national companies, the murder of Wiwa, environmental degradation, and civil unrest caused by oil exploration and drilling went unnoticed by Western audiences. Stories of celebrity drama continue to hold the attention of the American people, even as they pay close to three-dollars and fifty cents for one gallon of gas.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND has claimed responsibility for several bombings that have taken place in recent weeks that have forced oil conglomerates to shut down operations and have removed close to 164,000 barrels of oil a day from world markets. According to a recent article in the Tehran Times, “The latest wave of attacks and an eight-day strike by senior oil workers at U.S. energy giant Exxon Mobil which ended on Thursday, had slashed Nigeria’s output by 50 percent, helping to push oil prices to new records.”

In an electronic communication released this week, the group stated, “The MEND command is seriously considering a temporary ceasefire appeal by Senator Barack Obama. Obama is someone we respect and hold in high esteem.”

In sharp contrast and in spite of the pleas of organizations and authors like Emem J. Okan, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam International, Amnesty International, and the Council of Ijaw Associations Abroad, the administration of Bill Clinton continued to allow the use of private military contractors in the Niger Delta. Regardless of the fact that the use of private military personal has become the focus of recent US attention, Mother Jones Magazine points out, “The use of private military companies, which gained considerable momentum under President Clinton, has escalated under the Bush administration.” Part of this escalation took place in the Niger Delta where companies like Shell and Chevron hired private military for ‘security’.

To further the power of multi-national corporations and military contractors, Clinton joined with these companies to overturn laws that allow states to use “selective purchasing” power. According to Corp Watch, “Selective-purchasing laws are designed to force companies to choose between continuing to do business with repressive foreign governments and bidding on often-lucrative state or local government contracts.”

Most recently in a press release dated February 2008, the Clinton campaign has said about military contractors in Iraq, “From this war’s very beginning, this administration has permitted thousands of heavily-armed military contractors to march through Iraq without any law or court to rein them in or hold them accountable… We need to stop filling the coffers of contractors in Iraq, and make sure that armed personnel in Iraq are fully accountable to the U.S. government and follow the chain of command,” However, prior to Clinton’s most recent statement and in spite of sitting on Armed Services Committee no legislation has been presented by Clinton. When questioned about this contradiction, Clinton claimed she did not know about this problem, “Maybe I should have known about it; I did not know about it.” This in spite of well-documented human rights abuses around the world by the very contractors who contribute regularly to her campaign.

Juxtaposed with Clinton rhetoric is bill S.674: Transparency and Accountability in Military and Security Act of 2007, submitted by Barack Obama in February of 07. According to the Obama campaign website, the bill would “require accountability and enhanced congressional oversight for personnel performing private security functions under Federal contracts, and for other purposes. The act would clarify the legal status of contractors, subjecting them to the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA) to ensure that all contractors working in war zones – regardless of contracting agency would be held accountable under U.S. law. Passed in 2000, MEJA says that contractors for the armed forces can be prosecuted under US law for crimes committed overseas.”

The potential for the United States to regain the respect and admiration of the world is within our grasp. As some elder statesmen have pointed out, as long as the United States continues to build relationships with foreign nations whose records on the democratic process are abysmal, we will continue to pay the price. A price paid at the gas pump and in innocent blood.

Haunted By Spirits (2000) + Cindy McCain Refuses to Release Her Tax Returns… Ever

Dandelion Salad

By John Dougherty, Amy Silverman
http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com
February 17, 2000

John McCain derived his wealth from his marriage to Cindy Hensley McCain, whose father started his road to riches as a bootlegger. As a politician, the senator has remained beholden to the liquor industry and the family business.

Would United States Senator John McCain be a presidential contender if it weren’t for his marriage to Cindy Hensley McCain, heiress to the Hensley liquor fortune?

It’s doubtful. The senator’s wife and — more important — his father-in-law, James Willis Hensley, are very wealthy people.

Like his father and grandfather before him, McCain was a career Navy officer. His earning power and his inheritance were modest. At its peak, his pay as a captain was about $45,000.

But he retired from the military in 1980, divorced his first wife, wed Arizona native Cindy Lou Hensley and moved here to plunge into the world of politics. His first job in Arizona was as a public affairs agent for Hensley & Company, one of the nation’s largest beer distributors. He was paid $50,000 in 1982 to travel the state, touting the company’s wares. But he was promoting himself as much as he was Budweiser beer. A better job description might have been “candidate.”

In 1982, Cindy drew more than $700,000 in salary and bonuses from Hensley-related enterprises as her husband was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in his first political campaign.

…continued

h/t: an anonymous peace activist

***

Cindy McCain Refuses to Release Her Tax Returns… Ever

Veracifier

Cindy McCain on NBC’s Today Show, May 8, 2008

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Amnesty International denounces war crimes by US-backed forces in Somalia

Dandelion Salad

By Barry Grey
http://www.wsws.org
8 May 2008

Amnesty International, the London-based human rights organization, issued a report Tuesday documenting widespread atrocities against Somali civilians by Ethiopian occupation forces and troops of the US-backed Somali government.

The report, entitled “Routinely Targeted: Attacks on Civilians in Somalia,” presents a harrowing picture of a humanitarian disaster compounded by terror against the civilian population in the form of summary executions, torture, rape and arbitrary detention.

While the report says all sides in the civil war have carried out crimes against civilians, it places greatest emphasis on the actions of forces armed, financed and backed militarily and politically by the United States—the Ethiopian military and the Transitional Federal Government. (TFG).

…continued

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Willing Executioners: America’s Bipartisan Atrocity Deepens in Somalia by Chris Floyd

I know no one cares about Somalia by Chris Floyd

Riz Khan: Somalia: Forgotten war? (vids)

Somalia: a victim of Bush’s recklessness

90,000 child refugees could die in Somalia (video)

200 Arrested in Massive Show of Civil Disobedience Over Police Acquittals in Killing of Sean Bell

Dandelion Salad

Democracy Now!
May 8, 2008

200 Arrested in Massive Show of Civil Disobedience Over Police Acquittals in Killing of Sean Bell

More than 200 people have been arrested in a day of protest over acquittal of three police officers in the killing of Sean Bell. The twenty-three-year-old Bell died in a hail of fifty police bullets on the morning of what would have been his wedding day in November 2006. He was unarmed. On Wednesday, demonstrators halted traffic at six busy intersections in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Listen/Watch/Read
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/5/8/200_arrested_in_massive_show_of

Will the Olympic Torch Pass Through Iraq? Pass the Hypocrites Bean Dip

by Paul Donovan
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

May 8, 2008

The Olympic torch has been steadily making its way across the globe, lighting up news headlines, and surprisingly enough transcending embargoes into North Korea to reach it’s final destination in the evilest nation on earth – Communist China…which yes, has been nearly a complete Capitalist enterprise since the death of Chairman Mao Tse Tung in 1976. Continue reading

State’s Creation Had Ugly Side

Dandelion Salad

by Ehab Lotayef
ICH
05/07/08 “The Gazette

Palestinian refugee problem cannot be ignored

Abou-Yasser was still hoping to return to his house in Tel-es-Safi when I met him in the Dehaishah refugee camp in the occupied West Bank in 2005. He still had the keys to a door that might not exist any more. He left that house fleeing Israeli occupation in 1948, and now lives under that same occupation but as a refugee. When Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967, Abou-Yasser refused to flee again and become a double refugee. As he was telling me his story I was wondering, what kind of refugee is he now?

In May of 1948, Abou-Yasser was in his late teens training in a British “police academy” in Bethlehem. The “cadets” were a mix of Jews and Arabs, Abou-Yasser told me. They studied together to become colleagues in the police force under the British mandate government of Palestine or in the new country that would be founded when the mandate ended.

One morning, the Arab cadets arrived for class to find none of the Jews there. On the blackboard there was writing in Hebrew, which most of the Arab cadets couldn’t read, addressing the Jewish cadets. But Abou-Yasser had enough knowledge of Hebrew to translate what was written. “Rise up! The Jewish state is born,” it read.

…continued

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

The Promised Land? Pioneers (vids)

Israel at 60 – Crusader Anxiety By Uri Avnery

Sixty Years of Palestinian Displacement, Occupation and Suffering

The Arab-Israeli Conflict by Dr. Sigmund Freud

Another Year of Carnage, Brought to you by Corporate Democrats by Cindy Sheehan

The Real Cindy Sheehan


by Cindy Sheehan
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
May 8, 2008

The Democrats are working diligently to put a war funding bill on George’s desk that will give him two cycles of money for the illegal and obscene occupations in the Middle East connecting anti-poverty programs and VA educational benefits to the appropriation’s bill to exploit the horrible condition of poor families and vets who have risked life and limb because Congress is too worried about their political stakes than our children’s lives.

The Democrats, with shaky reasoning, feel that attaching a time-line on an appropriation’s bill for troop withdrawal (which George has promised to veto) by December 2009, will assuage the anti-war left that is becoming a bigger and bigger majority by the day. What the Democratic leadership is doing is putting their major donors and political futures ahead of our flesh and blood. Are you okay with the Democratic leadership thinking that you are dumber than a door bell and hoping that you don’t see their ploy for what it is: a pure political calculation to help themselves and harm everyone else.

Are you okay with borrowing 178 billion more dollars from China furthering the demise of our dollar, economy and enlarging our deficit? Are you okay with putting our children’s future at jeopardy so the Democrats can maybe widen their majority in Congress and perhaps put a Democrat in the White House?

Are you okay with the HUMANS of Iraq and Afghanistan (who bleed the same color you do and who love their children just as much) being exploited and abused for the sake of a bigger Democratic majority? Are you okay with our brothers and sisters in these countries being terrorized by OUR military? Are you okay with CHILDREN being demonized and then blown up by bombs dropped out of US jets? Are you okay with two countries being torn apart so Congress’ cronies can make obscene profits when you know that many Senators and Congressional Reps are invested in the very industries that profit off of the death, dismemberment and destruction?

Are you okay with the Democratic leadership attaching the funding of programs to help our nation’s neediest citizens to a bill that appropriates more money for a virtual genocide? Are you okay with the “Let them eat cake” mentality of such Democrats as Nancy Pelosi who wants to provide “guns for butter?” Are you okay with the Democratic leadership attaching provisions to fund Veteran educational benefits to a bill that will kill, maim and emotionally injure hundreds more of our troops?

Are you okay with paying over 4.00/gallon for gas while George and Dick’s cronies in the oil business are reaping obscene profits? Are you okay with spending more for food and other essentials because the cost to transport these items has skyrocketed because of the cost of gas?

Are you okay with the demonization of another country and the potential invasion of Iran? Are you okay with tens of thousands of other HUMAN lives being destroyed for the neocon agenda of world domination?

Are you okay with letting George Bush and Dick Cheney walking away from the pain they have caused by their crimes and corruption after eight years of their reign of terror? Are you okay with BushCo leading lives of ease and peace for the rest of their lives while our own country is mired in poverty and violence?

I am vehemently not okay with any of these things! I pray to everything that is sacred (life, liberty, family, and health) that you are also not okay with it.

Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House and she has the constitutionally enumerated power of doing two very relevant things: De-funding (Article I, Section 8, clause 11) the occupation (instead she is uber-funding it) and allowing articles of impeachment to be introduced against George and Dick (instead, Article II, Section 4 is off the table).

Do not allow the Corporate Democrats to pull the wool over your eyes… again. They are not working hard to end the occupation; they are working overtime to extend it for another year at the expense of our military and their families, our economy, our ecology, and the HUMANS in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Do not allow the Corporate Democrats to pay one more penny for these occupations because, whether you are aware of it or not, at a cost of 16 billion dollars a month to maintain the occupations, THIS WAR ECONOMY IS AFFECTING YOU AND YOUR FAMILY! Not just me, not just our troops and their families, not just the HUMANS thousands of miles away, but YOU!

If you are as outraged as Cindy for Congress is and you want the carnage to stop now, not later: please support our campaign for true change, peace, and accountability.

see

$178 Billion in Blood (video; action alert)

War Is A Racket – US Lawmakers Have As Much As $196 Million Invested In “Defense” Companies 

Perhaps 60% of today’s oil price is pure speculation

Kucinich: We’re in Iraq for OIL! + McCain: Confirms America’s WAR for OIL Policy!

Permanent Wars for Oil and Permanent Terrorism by Rodrigue Tremblay

Beating the Drums of a Broader Middle East War

Pentagon Targeted Iran for Regime Change after 9/11 By Gareth Porter

Beating the Drums of a Broader Middle East War

Dandelion Salad

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, May 7, 2008
– 2008-05-06

Israel, Syria, and Lebanon Prepare the “Home Fronts”

The Levant could be the starting point of a major international conflict with global ramifications and which could quickly spin out of control. Such a conflict could even involve the use of Israeli or American nuclear weapons against Iran and Syria. Syria has additionally declared that it is preparing for an inevitable war with Israel despite the fact that it believes that the chances of a war in 2008 are slim.

In the scenario of a war against Iran, the reaction of Syria will be pivotal. Damascus plays a central role and how it acts and reacts will have a definitive impact on Israeli military strategy in regards to Iran. It is in this context that Israel, the U.S. and the E.U., with the help of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, have been attempting to undermine and ultimately destroy the alliance between Syria and Iran. This is part of a geo-strategic stride to foreclose the possibility of a Mediterranean battle-front that might emerge in the Levant as a result of an attack on Iran.

The casus belli for an Israeli attack or a joint Israeli-U.S. attack, possibly involving NATO, against Syria or against both Syria and Iran could use the pretext of any form of retaliation by Hezbollah against Israel for the assassination in Damascus of one of its leaders, Imad Fayez Mughniyeh.

Hezbollah has joined Iranian officials in saying that the U.S. military is incapable of starting another war in the Middle East by launching attacks on Iran and Syria. [1] Israeli officials have also renewed calls for peace by openly mentioning that Tel Aviv is willing to return the Golan Heights back to the Syrians, while there have been strong political noises against the move in Israel. [2]

Tel Aviv is simultaneously part of a U.S. endeavour that claims Syria has a secret nuclear program aided by North Korea. [3] Strategic efforts, with strong links to war preparations, have also started with the aim of bringing temporary calm to the Palestinian Territories as part of the same track of events in the Levant.

Redrawing the Arab-Israeli Conflict as an Iranian-Israeli Conflict to justify War

Momentum is being built up against Iran in a list of growing, and more frequent, accusations against Tehran.

Iran is portrayed as the main threat against Israel. It is also accused of intervening in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. In this sense, the Israeli-U.S. war plans in the Levant have been tied to Iran, as well as Syria. The investigative journalist Seymour M. Hersh, a Pulitzer Prize winner, reported in 2006 that the Israeli war against Lebanon was part of this Israeli-U.S. military roadmap to ultimately target Iran.

The accusations against Tehran and Damascus are part of a calculated effort to justify attacks against Iran and Syria as the only means to achieve peace in the Levant between Israel and the Arabs. They are also upheld as justification to ensure the security and success of occupation forces, for Anglo-American and NATO forces respectively in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In this regard, the Gaza Strip, alongside Lebanon, is now being described by Tel Aviv as an “Iranian base” against Israel. Israel is pointing the finger more and more towards Tehran as the source of its problems.

This argument is fabricated. It is in blatant contradiction with the history of the Palestinian struggle. The inner causes and history of the Arab-Israeli Conflict are now being brushed aside and ignored. The Arab-Israeli Conflict is now being redefined as a mere existential conflict between Israel and a few irrational and violent Arab organizations controlled by Tehran.

All players, state or non-state, have rational interests and motives. All actions are also based on these interests and motives. Any analysis without the mention of these interests seeks to sidestep specific issues. By portraying the Arabs as inherently violent, the truth is being sidestepped without explaining the full rationale for their attacks against Israel.

This brushing aside of motives is part of a disinformation campaign, which is used to camouflage the truth. The historical facts of the Arab-Israeli Conflict are being redrawn with a view to presenting Tehran as having always been in the picture as a spoiler and a source of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. The motives for this agenda are to justify the outbreak of a conflict with Iran.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict is being redrawn as an Iranian-Israeli Conflict, where the Arabs are portrayed as Iran’s foot soldiers against Tel Aviv.

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Turning the Tide of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Iranian Arms Shipments to the Levant

Although there have been reports of Iranian arm shipments to the Palestinians and Lebanon since the downfall of the Iranian monarchy, these reports had new value given to them after 2001.

The first such report to note came on January 3, 2002 when the Karine-A was intercepted en route in the Red Sea by Israeli naval commandos. Sceptics questioned how an undeclared arms shipment could pass through the heavily U.S. and NATO patrolled waters of the Red Sea. The Israeli capture made international headlines in 2002 as the Israelis revealed that the ship was carrying a major weapons cache headed for the Gaza Strip. A whole set of indicting links were made between the ship and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Iran. The Israelis maintained that the ships cargo came from an Iranian sea port in the Persian Gulf. The event was used not only to draw attention to Tehran as a problem in the Levant, but also by Tel Aviv as a part of the effort underway to portray Yasser Arafat as not being a genuine partner for peace.

Hezbollah and Syria have also been armed and supplied by Iran for years. Although neither the Lebanese nor Syria would attack Israel unless attacked, invaded, or occupied.

Aside from what it already possesses, Israel can no longer annex Arab territory any more than it has. Nor can Israel project itself as it once did. This is a major problem for establishing a new regional order. Iranian arms shipments and military aid have upset both strategic Anglo-American and Israeli interests in the Middle East. Arguably this has necessitated even more active involvement by America and Britain militarily in the Middle East.

After 2005 the Israeli claims about Iranian arms supplies to the Palestinians increased even more with the establishment of a Hamas-led government in the Palestinian Territories. After 2006, the reports concerning Iranian arms shipments to Hezbollah started carrying a sense of urgency that they never had before. The upgrades being made to the Syrian military were also looked upon at as provocative and inappropriate, even though the Israeli military had further upgraded and modernized its military arsenal.

In 2007 and 2008, the Israelis reported that Iran has increased its weapons shipments to the Palestinians. The Jerusalem Post made one such claim on April 17, 2008: “In recent months, the IDF has noticed an increase in Iranian-made weaponry in the Gaza Strip, including rockets and mortars. Terror groups [meaning the Palestinian Resistance] in Gaza recently were equipped by [Tehran] with two different types of mortar shells made in Iran — one 120 mm with a range of 10 kilometers like a Kassam rocket and another with a range of six kilometers.” [4] The same report also continued to state that thousands of Iranian mortars were also imported by the Gaza Strip, which Israel has defined as a “Hostile Entity.” [5]

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The National Emergency Authority of Israel and its War Preparations

The National Emergency Authority (NEA) of Israel was created to administer and manage Israel, the “Home Front,” under a “mass-casualty” scenario resulting from a major war. Israel’s NEA was established in 2007 in the aftermath of the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon and the rocket counter-attacks on Israel from Lebanon. The creation of the National Emergency Authority is an integral part of Israeli war preparations.

The new organization planned five-day emergency exercises (April 6-11, 2008) that were linked to both Israeli military preparations and the preparation of Israeli civilians. These emergency exercises were the largest in the history of Israel. Strategically and as part of the bigger picture, the primary purpose of the emergency exercises were to prepare Israel for — using Condoleezza Rice’s often mentioned words — “the birth pangs of a new Middle East” or a new regional order. This process, according to Tel Aviv, will be “painful for Israel.” A regional war against Syria, Iran, and their allies has been presented to Israeli public opinion as a prerequisite to bringing about this new regional order and even for the very survival of Israel.

The Israeli exercises simulated mass evacuations from “hit zones” and large patient build-ups in crowded Israeli hospitals. [6] In the event of the conflict exercised for the Knesset, government offices, power stations, bridges, military facilities, and state buildings are also expected to be attacked, damaged, and destroyed. This is why respective entities in Israel such as the Knesset and Israeli government offices all participated in the drills.

Drills involving preparations for chemical and biological weapons were also executed. Israel has also maintained that Syria with the help of Iran has been upgrading its chemical weaponry. Reports of an incident involving Syrian and Iranian military specialists and engineers were also used as justification by Israel in regards to preparations against Syrian chemical and biological weapons during the exercises. [7]

Segments of the emergency exercises took place beforehand. Starting on March 18, 2008 the Barzilai Hospital held full-scale emergency exercises that simulated direct rocket and missile hits on the hospital in the city of Ashkelon. [8] The city of Ashkelon, adjacent to the Gaza Strip, is an important Israeli maritime and commercial port and is the entrance point for energy supplies from Egyptian natural gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea.

Tel Aviv keeps the Public in the Dark: Omitting Iran from a War Scenario

In 2007, a media propaganda campaign was launched to influence international public opinion in the event of an Israeli war against Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. Israeli sources have claimed Iran is also preparing its journalists for an Israeli war against Lebanon and Syria. [9] 2008 has seen an even higher stage of Israeli war preparations.

In 2007, Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash, the former commander of Israeli military intelligence, communicated his fear that a war with Iran, launched by Israel’s American ally, could start before the “Home Front” in Israel was prepared.

In this context the aims of the Israeli emergency exercises were to condition Israelis for such a war. Under the war scenario played out by Israeli officials, the whole of Israel was part of a simulated battle-front in which missiles and rockets would be launched from the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, and Syria. Under the scenario, some 400 to 500 projectiles were expected to hit Israel on a daily basis.

A key and very notable aspect of the emergency drills was that Iranian involvement was excluded from the scenario. In the event of a war with Iran, Tehran has credibly maintained that it can launch over 11, 000 missiles and rockets in a minute. [10]

In this regard, a two-sided approach was taken by Israeli officials in regards to their emergency preparations. War preparations and scenario layouts had two dimensions, one for the Israeli public and an accurate one kept for the scrutiny of Israeli officials that was withheld from the Israeli public.

The rationale for the two-set approach by officials in Tel Aviv was to hide the real scope and magnitude of a regional war on Israel and to reduce fear, panic, and any anti-war sentiment amongst Israelis that would develop if they realized the immense harms they would face if their government launched a regional war involving Syria and Iran.

Additionally, days after the nationwide Israeli emergency exercises were completed the Israeli military tested an imitation of an Iranian ballistic missile in isolation, away from the public. [11] If not central, Iran is clearly a real and major part of Tel Aviv’s war preparations.

The Emergency War Scenario: An Israeli Omission of War Plans?

The first day of the emergency exercises were characterised by the formation of an Israeli war cabinet scenario in response to a major “enemy attack.” [12] This war cabinet would respond to the “enemy.” Although, it should be noted that all Israeli responses have been calculated and predetermined and include the use of a nuclear strike option against Iran and Syria. [13] Such an act would have apocalyptic ramifications in the Middle East and worldwide.

The war scenario envisioned and simulated by Israeli planners during the national emergency exercise in Israel foresaw massive damage and casualties through missile and rocket attacks by “Arab enemies.” The scenario excluded the significantly larger Iranian arsenal. This accounts for the lower number of missile and rocket hits; 400 to 500 per day.

The Israeli scenario, however, also projects a smaller amount of strikes by the rockets and missiles of the “Arab enemies” on the initial day of the war. In other words, strikes in realistic numbers against Israel were missing on the initial day of the war scenario and this makes very little sense in regard to a hypothetical Arab offensive against Israel.

Hezbollah alone has over 13, 000 rockets according to Israel itself. In addition, Hezbollah’s arsenal is nothing compared to the capabilities and size of the Syrian one. Under the Israeli scenario the hypothetical war only lasted for about a week; the math does not tally up unless the scenario is not what Israeli officials maintain.

The Israeli simulation is an omission in regards to who plans on starting the war and who will attack in retaliation. Under these circumstance, Helmi Musa a columnist for As-Safir, a major Lebanese newspaper, pointed out that “this Israeli exercise has signalled, for the first time, to ‘whom starts and to whom retaliates.’ If the Arabs are to start this battle, it would see an intensive rocket strike on the first day with thousands of rockets launched [and not the few hundred that Israeli strategists predict].” Unknown to the Israeli public the scenario being simulated was one where the “Arab enemies” were reacting to an Israeli attack and probably fighting Israeli incursions too. This would account for the low number of strikes. If they, the Arab players outlined by the drills, were to have attacked Israel first it is fair to assume that the number of strikes on Israel would have been their largest on the initial day of the scenario.

Syrian National Emergency Exercises: A counter-measure to Israeli War Drills

Syria has repeatedly maintained since 2007 that it has made a strategic decision to pursue peace with Israel, but is also prepared to protect itself if attacked. [14] At the start of April 2008, the Syrian Deputy-Foreign Minister, Fisal Al-Mekdad, in an interview with Al-Thawra, a government-owned newspaper in Syria, acknowledged that Damascus was ready for a clash with Tel Aviv. He told Al-Thawra that Israeli war preparations were forcing Syrian strategists to draw their own contingency plans for a conflict in advance. “If Syria is the target of all of this [meaning the Israeli emergency drills], know that we are following the drill and are also developing our capabilities and our plans to face the Israeli [manoeuvres],” the Syrian Deputy-Foreign Minister told Al-Thawra. [15]

True enough, in response to Israeli war preparations, the Syrians also announced two days after the start of the Israeli exercises that Damascus planned to hold national emergency exercises too. Al-Thawra reported that the nationwide exercises in Syria were announced during a cabinet meeting of Syrian ministers. The military, the police, security forces, and civil institutes were all said to have roles in what was termed as a part of “general preparations for natural disasters and crises” by the Syrian government.

In reality the emergency preparations were part of Syria’s preparation to repel any Israeli attack that could occur directly or as a result of an Israeli war with Lebanon that would by extension include Syria.

What is crucial in understanding the evolving Middle Eastern war theater is that the movements taking place in both Syria and Israel are unprecedented. Along with the growing Israeli-U.S. threats directed against Iran, including statements of support for military action from the E.U. and NATO, there is justifiable reason for apprehension and concern.

2008: The Year of an Israeli Invasion of Syria?

The Syrian border with Israel has been peaceful for decades and is one of Israel’s most peaceful frontiers. Yet, tensions have been rising. In 2006 Israel created a new series of military units specifically for a war with Syria, amongst them was the Kfir infantry brigade, the largest military unit in Israel. In addition, the Israeli military predicted in 2007 that a war would breakout between Syria and Israel in 2008 if no settlement were reached between Tel Aviv and Damascus. [16]

Since the 2006 Israeli failure in Lebanon, the Israeli military has been routinely performing simulations of an Israeli invasion of Syria. A great deal of Israeli manpower has been dedicated to an invasion force that would attack Syria. Major-General Eyal Ben-Reuven, a reservist general, declared in 2007 that Israel is “preparing itself for an all-out war.” [17] Major-General Eyal Ben-Reuven also stated that Israel must invade Syria to Israeli troops. He first stated that “the IDF’s mission will be very focused and will have to be quick, in order to neutralize as quickly as possible the strategic areas threatening Israel’s soft underbelly, thus preventing Syria [from] reaching its coveted goals.” Eyal Ben-Reuven also gave some depiction about the shape of a war against Syria. Ben-Reuven stated “that in order to carry out such missions successfully, an extensive ground operation will be needed,” meaning a land invasion of Syria, which would most probably swiftly target Damascus and the Syrian southern governorates.

This strategic aim also explains the well reported Israeli invasion exercises of model Syrian villages and Israeli military exercises in the Golan Heights. [18] Israel and the U.S. have also held strategy meetings to formulate a course of military actions to be taken in Lebanon and against both Syria and Iran. According to a report from Qatar by Al-Watan a senior Syrian officials indicated that the Israeli emergency exercises were surveyed by an American general and also involved military operations on the borders of Syria. [19]

Syrian mobilization on the Lebanese border in preparation for Israeli Attacks

Ehud Barak, in the capacity of an Israeli defence minister, on April 2, 2008 renewed Israeli threats of war against Hezbollah, Lebanon, and Syria. According to Israeli sources the Syrians believe that Israel will launch another military invasion of Lebanon on the pretext of addressing Hezbollah in a pre-emptive war. In this context since 2006 Tel Aviv has been calling Hezbollah “the growing threat in Lebanon” or “the growing threat in the ‘Northern Front.’” In light of this, Israeli and other Middle Eastern sources have reported that Syria started reinforcing its military presence on the Lebanese-Syrian border before the start of April, 2008 and had placed all its forces on high alert.

The Syrians were also reported to believe that the Beirut-Damascus Highway would be targeted with greater ferociousness by Tel Aviv than in the summer of 2006 to prevent logistical support from reaching Hezbollah and Lebanon. Israeli sources also maintain that the Syrians also started mobilizing their reserve forces on the Lebanese-Syrian boarder. In addition, the Syrians were reported to have deployed three armoured divisions, nine divisions of mechanized infantry, and special forces units opposite the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. [20] In line with this Israeli sources additionally insisted that Palestinian fighters were also amassing in the Bekaa Valley in coordination with Syria and Hezbollah.

Hours after the original report about the mobilization of the Syrian military was released by Al-Quds Al-Arabi, a London-based Arabic newspaper, the top brass of Israel came out to respond. Major-General Dan Harel indirectly gave a message to Damascus. The Deputy Chief of Staff for the Israeli military told reporters gathered for a press briefing that “anyone who tries to harm Israel must remember that it is the strongest country in the region, and retaliation will be powerful and painful.” [21] Syria was being told to look out.

In the days following this statement emanating from the Israeli military, Syrian officials gave mixed responses about Syrian war preparations. Damascus denied reports that Syrian troops were amassing on the Lebanese-Syrian border. Syrian officials responded that despite the fact that the Israelis were making war preparations against Syria, Damascus was not increasing the troop presence on the Lebanese-Syrian border.

During an interview with Al-Arabiya, Mohammed Habash, an important Syrian parliamentarian, refuted the reports about the mobilization of Syrian reserves on the border with Lebanon in preparation for an Israeli attack. The Syrian parliamentarian, who is the chairman of the Syrian Parliament’s strategically important Syrian-Iranian Committee, also pointed the finger at Tel Aviv for escalating tensions in the Levant: “Syria is ready to defend itself but is not striving for war — it is the Israeli side that is taking steps to bring about an escalation.” [22]

In the same timeframe as the reports of Syrian mobilization on the unfortified Lebanese-Syrian border, there was also an increase of Israeli military air traffic near the Syrian and Lebanese borders. The Israeli military also acknowledged that additional Israeli warplanes were displaced to Israel’s northern borders and in a state of high alert.

Internationalizing “Hezbollah” as a Menace: Pretext for NATO intrusions in Lebanon?

On April 8, 2008 Bernard Kouchner, France’s top diplomat and head of the French Foreign Ministry, revealed that Mohammed Zuhair Siddiq the individual who was a star witness in the Hariri Assassination and a source for claims of Syrian involvement in the event had disappeared while he was under French protection. Even more significant, Bernard Kouchner also proclaimed that “Hezbollah” was no longer “a domestic issue for Lebanon.” The implications of this statement carry significant indications.

Monsieur Kouchner additionally announced that the weapons that Hezbollah carried were also a serious international concern. The ground was being paved for NATO’s active involvement in Lebanon. Hezbollah was being targeted through the internationalization of concerns over its arms. What was being implied in Paris was that international action should be taken against Hezbollah.

The statements of U.S. and Coalition representatives in Iraq, such as General Petraeus, about the involvement of Hezbollah in attacks against U.S. and Coalition troops and claims that Hezbollah is training Iraqi militias inside Iran also serve this purpose. [23]

Just a few days after the statements by Bernard Kouchner the head of the disputed Lebanese government, Fouad Siniora, asserted in close proximity to Israeli and Syrian war preparations and the renewed American pressure on Iran that the time for internal dialogue was over in Lebanon. Foud Siniora made the announcement while the Parliamentary Speaker of Lebanon, Nabih Berri, was in Damascus meeting with Syrian officials as part of a diplomatic tour of Arab capitals to get Arab League support for new intra-Lebanese political dialogue.

The Third Expanded Ministerial Conference of the Neighbouring Countries of Iraq, which was held in Kuwait, was also related to Lebanon. The international conference hosted by the Kuwaitis on April 22, 2008 involved much more international players than just the neighbours of Iraq and its scope included the whole Middle East.

The U.S., Saudi Arabia, France, Britain, and several other Arab states all pushed ahead with an agenda to internationalize the political deadlock in Lebanon and to present Hezbollah as an international concern too. In league with these efforts to internationalize Hezbollah as a global problem the U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, also released a report claiming that Hezbollah was an international problem. All these events were part of the brinkmanship for internationalizing Hezbollah as a threat and eventually justifying U.S. and NATO intervention in Lebanon.

The efforts to internationalize Hezbollah as a menace also entered a new phase in Lebanon too. The Hariri-led March 14 Alliance, which effectively forms the Lebanese government, declared that it would take legal action in May, 2008 against Hezbollah because of a camera network monitoring Lebanon’s main airport and a vital parallel security telecommunications network setup by the group. These internal efforts against Hezbollah were executed through the coordination of the March 14 Alliance with U.S. and Saudi Arabian diplomats in Beirut.

Lebanon prepares for Israeli Attacks

The Syrian border with Israel is heavily fortified, unlike the Lebanese-Syrian border. This is why the Israeli military was desperately pushing to get to the banks of the Litani River before the Syrians could fully prepare in 2006. A quick Israeli land assault against Damascus, which is seated close to the Lebanese-Syrian border, would have to go through Lebanon and not through the Golan Heights or the Israeli frontier with Syria. Any invasion of Syria through the Israeli-Syrian border would be secondary in nature. For this reason amongst several others, Lebanon is tied to Israeli war plans against Syria. To invade Lebanon a pretext is needed and Hezbollah is that pretext.

After the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, the U.S. Navy deployed a contingent of warships to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Lebanese coast on February 28, 2008. The White House claimed that the rationale for the deployment was to establish stability in Lebanon and to help democracy in Lebanon.

In a case of bitter irony the naval deployment had a reverse effect. It contributed to elevating tensions in Beirut and the entire country. The U.S. move was made without the permission of Lebanon and the Lebanese government was forced to denounce it. The majority of Lebanese citizens also felt threatened and were outraged about the U.S. deployment in their waters. Because of public opinion in Lebanon the Lebanese government and the March 14 Alliance denied any ties or advanced knowledge about the U.S. naval deployment off the coast of Lebanon.

In connection to the U.S. naval build-up, news broke out of an alleged U.S. conspiracy against the Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanon’s largest Christian political party and a member of the Lebanese National Opposition.

Michel Aoun, the former commander of the Lebanese military and the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, and other Christian Lebanese leaders opposed to the interests of the U.S., Israel, and France in Lebanon have been systematically targeted. On August 2, 2007 the White House even passed an executive order to freeze the financial assets of any individual or group deemed to oppose Fouad Siniora and the March 14 Alliance. The mass protests by Lebanese citizens against the March 14 Alliance, which were peaceful acts of political and democratic expression, were even called “undemocratic” and “destabilizing” acts by President George Bush Jr. and the White House.

What this signifies, aside from U.S. meddling in the domestic affairs and politics of Lebanon, is that the political opposition to the Lebanese government was being targeted in the name of democracy and governance.

Since 2006, the Free Patriotic Movement and several other Christian political parties have been staunch political allies of Hezbollah. They are consequently at odds with the U.S. and France and have refused to bend to foreign pressure. They firmly oppose Israel and have protested U.S. and French meddling in Lebanon’s internal affairs. Hezbollah, the Free Patriotic Movement, and these Christian political parties are also allied to several other political parties that represent Lebanon’s Druze, ethnic Armenian (which are Christian), and Sunni Muslim communities.

Several key political figures in the March 14 Alliance, such as Walid Jumblatt and Samir Geagea, have been working hand in glove with the White House and Tel Aviv against the political alliance between the Free Patriotic Movement and Hezbollah. These individuals have had regular meetings with U.S., Saudi, French, and Israeli officials. This includes meetings with Ehud Barak where attacks and tactics against Hezbollah, the Free Patriotic Movement, Syria, and Iran were discussed.

Along with the Hariri family, these Lebanese figures are being used to open an internal front against Hezbollah and its political allies in Lebanon. After the 2006 defeat of Israel, these Lebanese figures and their parties also slowly started being armed by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and others. Pentagon weapons shipments that were intended for use in Anglo-American occupied Iraq were also covertly making their way into the hands of these Lebanese factions. The U.S. has also been cooperating with them in preparations being made on the Lebanese-Syrian border and in efforts to make parallel chains of command in the Lebanese military that could be used against Hezbollah and the Lebanese National Opposition.

Moving forward, days before the Israeli emergency exercise, the Siniora government ordered the Lebanese military to be on full alert for “Israeli violations.” In Lebanon the March 14 Alliance and the Lebanese National Opposition in concurrence comprehended the possibility of conflict. Both the Lebanese government and Hezbollah made it clear that they were watching Israeli forces and that both were prepared for the serious possibility of another conflict between Lebanon and Israel. [24] In addition, the U.S. State Department official responsible for American relations with Lebanon, C. David Welch, also promised a “hot summer” in Lebanon if the Lebanese National Opposition did not capitulate.

According to Israeli sources citing Fars News Agency (FNA) and the Syrian newspaper Al-Hakikah, Hezbollah warned Israel that if it launched another war against Lebanon that Hezbollah would carry the war into Israel. In Israel this information was claimed to mean by xenophobic and ultra-Zionist elements that Israeli Arabs (Palestinians with Israeli citizenships who did not leave their homeland) would act as fifth columnists for Iran and Lebanon. An unnamed senior Hezbollah official was quoted as saying, “In the next war, we will run the battle for the first time since 1948 inside Palestine. They will be more surprised than ever before, as they will see our fighters fighting them not only in Lebanon, as they did till now, but also inside their homes and settlements.” [25] The same Hezbollah official is quoted as also saying “The next war, if it breaks out, will be an offensive war on our part. This doesn’t mean we will initiate the war, but that every war they launch in the future will become what the organized armies in the world refer to as a counteroffensive on our part. They will see our fighters behind their lines, not just in front of them.” [26]

The Independent, one of Britain’s most respected newspapers, has reported that Hezbollah has also been sending trainees to Iran: “Yet it is an open secret south of the Litani [River] that thousands of young men have been leaving their villages for military training in Iran. Up to 300 men are taken to Beirut en route to Tehran each month and the operation has been running since November of 2006; in all, as many as 4,500 [Hezbollah] members have been sent for three-month sessions of live-fire ammunition and rocket exercises to create a nucleus of Iranian-trained guerrillas for the ‘next’ [Israeli attack against Lebanon].” [27]

Another British source, The Observer, has also reported about war preparations in Lebanon: “But an Observer investigation [by Mitchell Prothero] has discovered that [Hezbollah] is quietly but steadily replacing its dead and redoubling its recruitment efforts in anticipation of a new, and even more brutal, conflict. [Hezbollah] has embarked on a major expansion of its fighting capability and is now sending hundreds, if not thousands, of young men into intensive training camps in Lebanon, Syria and Iran to ready itself for war with Israel. ‘It’s not a matter of if,’ says one [member of Hezbollah]. ‘It’s a matter of when Sayed [Hassan] Nasrallah [{Hezbollah’s political} chief] commands us.’” [28]

It light of the preparations in Lebanon for an Israeli attack, the number of Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace also increased starting in March, 2008. The Israelis openly violated Lebanese airspace and conducted military flights over Beirut and elsewhere in Lebanon in April and May, 2008. In April, 2008 the Lebanese military even acknowledged that Israeli warplanes had been performing military reconnaissance missions over Lebanon and that these missions were linked to Israeli war preparations. [29]

The Independent has also gone on to pronounce, with the context of aerial war in mind, that in the next war against Lebanon that Israeli supremacy in the air would be challenged by the Lebanese because of Iranian military technology and hardware: “For months, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the [Hezbollah] leader, has been warning Israel that his organisation has a ‘surprise’ new weapon in its armoury and there are few in Lebanon who do not suspect that this is a new Iranian-developed ground-to-air missile — rockets which may at last challenge Israel’s air supremacy over Lebanon.” [30]

The Brzezinski and Carter visits to Damascus

Tel Aviv and Washington, D.C. have not given up their efforts to prevent the emergence of a Mediterranean battle-front in a war against Iran. With the rise of regional tensions in the Middle East it was announced that former U.S. President James E. Carter Jr. had flown to Egypt and the Levant for a fact-finding mission with a view to promoting peace. To some, the announcement sounded like a breath of fresh air. The former U.S. president, met with leaders and officials in Egypt, Israel, the West Bank, and Syria.

It should be noted that Jimmy Carter met with President Basher Al-Assad in Syria just months after Zbigniew Brzezinski headed a RAND Corporation delegation to Damascus on February 12, 2008. [31] The sequence of these meetings is not coincidental. Brzezinski was a U.S. national security advisor under the Carter Administration. Both men could also have been involved in talks with Iranian diplomats and officials in Damascus.

What really highlighted Carter’s trip to the Middle East were his meetings in Damascus with the leader-in-exile of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, on April 18 and 19, 2008. [32] The controversy behind the meetings with Hamas was that they had been portrayed as diplomatic taboo in an effort to isolate the Palestinian organization in the Middle East and global arena.

Before the meetings in Damascus, Carter had prior meetings with representatives of Hamas in Cairo. [33] From the start of the talks between the political leadership of Hamas and Jimmy Carter, the media reported that Israel and the U.S. were fiercely opposed to these meetings. [34] In reality, the Bush Jr. Administration and Israel were supportive of these meetings.

Engaging Hamas: An Attempt to Deactivate the Opening of a Palestinian Front?

Despite the claims of Condoleezza Rice, the Carter Center even released a statement from its headquarters in Atlanta saying that the U.S. State Department made no objections about Carter’s meetings with Hamas officials and the Syrians. In the past, the White House secretly supported Nancy Pelosi’s 2007 visit to Damascus with a bipartisan U.S. delegation. It was in the same timeframe as Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Syria that a Bush Jr. Administration official arrived in Damascus to talk about “Iraqi refugees” and that Condoleezza Rice went on to hold talks with the Syrian Foreign Minister in Egypt. In this case Jimmy Carter was part of concerted efforts by the U.S. and Israeli governments to disengage the fighting between the Palestinians and Israel in the Gaza Strip through a truce.

While public opinion was led to believe that Israel was opposed to the Hamas-Carter talks, the former U.S. president was in fact negotiating directly with Hamas on behalf of Israeli officials.

While the Israeli government reaffirmed that Hamas could not be a “partner for peace”, Jimmy Carter was passing on messages from the Israeli government to both Hamas and Syria. According to Carter’s own words, he was acting in the Middle East as a communicator and intermediary between the parties.

A closer examination of what transpired between Hamas and Carter reveals the true nature and purpose of the Carter mission.

The deputy prime minister of Israel is Eli Yishai, who is also responsible for the Israeli Ministry of Industry. Eli Yishai’s office acknowledged on April 18, 2008 that the second highest ranking official in the Israeli government had asked Jimmy Carter to arrange meetings between Hamas and Eli Yishai. The pretext and justification was to discuss a possible prisoner exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli corporal captured by Hamas and two other Palestinian groups. [35] Officially, it was claimed that Eli Yishai, the leader of the Shas Party, had defied government policy with his request.

In actuality, Israel has been negotiating a ceasefire with Hamas. Ehud Olmert’s comments to Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli newspaper, spell out the real reasons why Carter was reported not to have met with Israeli leaders prior to his visit to Syria: “Were Jimmy Carter to have met with me, and two days later with Khaled Meshaal, it could have created a facade of negotiations between us and Hamas.” [36] Ehud Olmert’s public rebuff of Jimmy Carter was also announced as not being personal by Yohanan Plesner, a member of Ehud Olmert’s Kadima Party, during meetings with Carter in Jerusalem. [37] Undoubtedly, the meeting between Carter and Plesner would not have happened without Olmert’s okay. Ehud Olmert’s messages were being passed to Carter through his Kadima subordinate.

Adding context to the mission by Carter is crucial. His visit came at a junction in time when war was being openly talked about not just against Lebanon and Syria, but against Iran.

On April 20, 2008, the Syrian President announced that messages had been exchanged between Israel and Syria through an unnamed third party, to explore the possibility of resuming Israeli-Syrian peace talks. [38] This was merely days after Carter’s visit to Damascus.

Two days later, on April 23, 2008, it was reported worldwide that the Israeli government had notified Damascus on April 22, 2008 through Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the third party, that Israel was ready to return the Golan Heights to Syria. [39] The Turkish government had served as a go between since 2006, exchanging messages between Israel and Syria. The Israelis also insisted, again, that Syria knew what the conditions for peace were: the dissociation of Damascus from Iran and the Resistance Bloc. [40]

The American role in these overtures to Hamas and Syria is also a major factor. Syria was even reported to have requested U.S. involvement in peace talks with Israeli officials. In fact, a few days after the end of the Carter mission and the Israeli messages sent via Turkey, the Syrian Foreign Minister travelled to Tehran to discuss the Israeli and U.S. proposals with Iranian officials. It is clear that Syria will not end its alliance with Iran. While in Tehran, the Syrian Foreign Minister stated that Israel should withdraw to the international boundary of 1967 and not just withdraw from the Golan Heights alone. [41]

The Palestinian-Syrian-Iranian United Front

Ten different Palestinian organizations opposing Israel are hosted by Syria, and thus called the “Palestinian Damascus Ten,” whereas many other capitals in the Arab World have rejected hosting them. While some of these Palestinian organizations are Syrian surrogates, they are considered as “rejectionists,” because they adamantly oppose the one-sided Palestinian-Israeli agreements dictated by the White House and accepted by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Amongst the rejectionists are Hamas, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), and the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF or PSF).

Hamas along with the Damascus-based Palestinian groups are aligned to both Tehran and Damascus. It is on this basis that ties linking the Palestinians, Syria, and Iran have developed.

The Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, while visiting Tehran in 2006 referred to Iran as the “strategic depth” of the Palestinian people in their struggle against Israel. [42] Syrian, Libyan, Lebanese, Algerian, and Iraqi officals, amongst many others in the Arab World, have also called Iran the “strategic depth” of the Arabs against Israel. In relationship to these ties, Khaleed Meshaal announced in 2005 during high-level meetings in Tehran that Hamas and the Palestinians would support their important ally Iran in a regional war. [43] This factor is of immense importance in the case of an Israeli-U.S. war directed against Syria and Iran.

Alongside Hamas, most of these Palestinian organizations and their supporters, including those in Egypt and Jordon, have also made it clear, through announcements in 2005, 2006, and 2007 that they would lead the Palestinians in battle as part of a united front in the case of an all encompassing conflict in the Middle East. This is another dimension of the Mediterranean battle-front that would emerge in a war against Iran.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordon could be sucked into any regional war involving the Palestinians as allies of Syria and Iran. There are more Palestinians and Iraqis in Jordon than there are Jordanian Arabs. Jordon could also face simultaneous civil war and regime change in Amman, where a new republican government could take over and ally itself with Syria and Iran. This would have major ramifications against the U.S. and Israel. Other Arab regimes are also vulnerable too.

In this regard, the leaders in Cairo have been pushing for a truce between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Omar Sueiman, an Egyptian cabinet minister working in the capacity of the chief of Egyptian intelligence, was also sent to Tel Aviv several times by his government, to assist Israel in neutralizing a potential Palestinian front from emerging in the context of a regional war scenario.

Furthermore, if a regional war were to break out, Palestinian fighters would confront Israeli forces, with the help of Syria and Iran. At this particular juncture, the dialogue with Hamas is part of an effort to silence or disengage the “Palestinian Front” by establishing a truce between Hamas and Israel, prior to the commencement of a war with Iran.

The March to War in the Levant and its relationship to a Broader War involving Iran

Despite the Israeli-Syrian peace talks, the two sides are involved in war preparations.

Zalman Shoval, a former Israeli diplomat and politician describes this evolving situation as follows: “The message I received in Washington about two weeks ago [in the start of April, 2008] was clear and included a trace of displeasure: Why do you have people [in Israel], and ministers in particular, who continue to amuse themselves with the baseless notion that conditions for peace between Israel and Syria have been created?” [44]

In the eyes of both those controlling the U.S. and Israeli governments, the terms of a so-called peace must be dictated by the victors, those with the upper hand. According to the Fox News Network the Bush Jr. Administration also signed a secretive, unprecedented, and broad directive in March, 2008 to target Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and those in Lebanon that are opposed to America’s agenda for establishing a new regional order.

The Levant is on a serious war footing.

All major players in the Levant have been continuously talking about war.

Tel Aviv’s leaders have insisted that they are not seeking war with Syria. Tel Aviv has maintained that it wants peace with Syria, even on the eve of the largest emergency exercise in the history of Israel, which included open war preparations by the Israeli military on the Syrian border. These exercises included simulations of an Israeli invasion of Syria.

The Israeli government insisted that Israel was not making war preparations against Syria despite the fact that the scenarios played out in Israel for over a year, identified Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories as the enemies. [45]

Moreover, Israeli officials have continuously threatened to retaliate with a heavy hand against any attempts against Israel.

Al-Watan has also revealed that defensive preparations are being made by Syria against Israeli attacks expected to be launched in the summer months of 2008 in close coordination with U.S. military planners, just as they were against Lebanon in 2006. [46] May and June, 2008, are expected to be possible windows of time for an Israeli offensive against Syria.

On the other hand, Al-Watan reported (April 3, 2008) that the Israeli government would in 2009 distribute gas masks to its citizens, in anticipation of attacks using chemical and biological weapons. This report could be an indication that there will be no war in 2008.

Several reports from the Middle East maintain that all the players involved in the Levant are preparing for a scenario where Israel is awaiting retaliation by Hezbollah for the Mughniyeh Assassination. This scenario of expected retaliation could be used by Israel to draw Syria into the conflict. The situation would then escalate as Iran intervenes militarily against Israel to protect its allies. In turn, the United States and NATO would intervene to protect Israel.

Other analysts suggest, on the other hand, that Israeli-U.S. strikes against Lebanon, Syria, and Iran would be implemented almost simultaneously. Still others believe that Iran will be attacked first and then a front in the Levant will be opened.

Other plausible reports suggest that secret negotiations have been ongoing between all parties and that war will be avoided either because of a weakened U.S. military, which has forced America to negotiate with Iran or because of emerging common interests between Iran and America.

Another outlook is that Tel Aviv has no intention of striking Iran, which has advanced military capabilities of retaliation against Israel. But Israel still intends to attack Lebanon.

Whatever the scenario, the United States and Israel are making joint preparations and intend to confront the same players including Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, the top U.S. civilian official in Iraq, have told the U.S. Senate that Syria and Iran are using a “Lebanization strategy” in Iraq. A “Lebanization strategy” according to Ambassador Crocker is a political strategy where local forces are committed to alignments with Syria and Iran. This is being painted as the reason behind Anglo-American failure in Iraq. As mentioned earlier Hezbollah and Iran, along with Syria, are also being blamed for U.S. and Coalition deaths in Iraq.

Since 2003, Israel and the U.S. have been looking for ways to force Syria into surrendering or for waging an isolated war against Damascus without involving Tehran.

The window of time for an isolated war against Syria, apart from one with Iran, appears to have vanished and a war against Syria seems to be planned alongside the conflict with Iran. Moreover, Russia has also initiated a naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and off the Syrian coast to protect Syria and to challenge the U.S. and its NATO allies. [47] Both Russia and Iran have also been arming Syria and cooperating together.

The march to war in the Levant is linked to the stride towards conflict with Iran.

Syria has long been a target of Israel and America. At this point it is fitting to refer back to an incisive British report from 2006 by The Sunday Times: “‘The challenge from Iran and Syria is now top of the Israeli defence agenda, higher than the Palestinian one,’ said an Israeli defence source. Shortly before the war in Lebanon Major-General Eliezer Shkedi, the commander of the air force, was placed in charge of the ‘Iranian front’, a new position in the Israeli Defence Forces. His job will be to command any future strikes on Iran and Syria.” [48]

This account from The Sunday Times indicates that the war against Lebanon in 2006 was part of a broader war agenda in the Middle East. Moreover, an Israeli command post against Iran was established prior to the 2006 war. The article also illustrates the intricate link between a war against Iran and war plans against Lebanon and Syria. Further details are also given in regards to Israeli preparations for Syria in 2006: “‘In the past we prepared for a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities,’ said one insider, ‘but Iran’s growing confidence after the war in Lebanon means we have to prepare for a full-scale war, in which Syria will be an important player.’ A new infantry brigade has been formed named Kfir (lion cub), which will be the largest in the Israeli army [and responsible for an invasion of Syria]. ‘It is a partial solution for the challenge of the Syrian commando brigades, which are considered better [trained and equipped] than Hezbollah’s [militia],’ a military source said.” [49]

Eric S. Margolis, one of Canada’s most respected columnists has also linked war preparations against Lebanon and Syria as part of a broader war scenario directed against Iran: “Israel, backed by the [White House], certainly has been using the carrot of a return of [the] Golan to entice Syria away from Iran. But there is also a big stick: Ever-stronger threats of a U.S.-Israeli attack on Syria. Israel’s September [2007] attack on Syria was a clear warning. Cheney and fellow militarists are pushing hard for attacks on Syria, Lebanon and Iran before President George W. Bush leaves office. Neocons have flocked to [Senator] John McCain’s banner — in spite of Hillary Clinton’s vow to ‘obliterate’ Iran if it attacked Israel with nuclear weapons. They believe U.S. attacks on Arab states and/or Iran would prove decisive in winning the presidency for McCain this November. A U.S. attack on Syria could well be the first step of a broader air war against Lebanon and Iran.” [50]

In a regional war scenario, Israel will deal mainly with Lebanon and Syria while the U.S. and Britain will deal mainly with Iran. [51] The help of Turkey and NATO will definitely be needed by Israel, America, and Britain in such a war. Ankara and NATO will also be involved in both fronts. [52]

NATO has already built a presence on the western borders of Syria and Lebanon and inside Afghanistan on the eastern borders of Iran with forward positions. Israeli officials such as Shaul Mofaz have also stated, in no uncertain terms, that if they launch an attack on Iran, the U.S. and NATO will come to the aid of Tel Aviv.

Only time will tell what happens. In the words of Robert Fisk, “Whether this frightening conflict takes place will depend on President Bush’s behaviour. If America — or its proxy, Israel — bombs Iran, the response is likely to be swift…” [53]

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a writer and geopolitical analyst based in Ottawa who specializes on the Middle East. He is currently Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization.

NOTES

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© Copyright Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Global Research, 2008
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see

The March to War: Israel Prepares for War against Lebanon & Syria

The March to War: Syria Preparing for US-Israeli Attacks

NATO and Israel: Instruments of America’s Wars in the Middle East by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Israeli Bombing of Syria (nukes)

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words by Helen Thomas

Dandelion Salad

by Helen Thomas, Hearst White House columnist
http://www.wesh.com
May 7, 2008

Newspaper Criticized For Publishing Photo

WASHINGTON — Some readers resented The Washington Post for publishing an Associated Press photograph of a critically wounded Iraqi child being lifted from the rubble of his home in Baghdad’s Sadr City “after a U.S. airstrike.”

Two-year-old Ali Hussein later died in a hospital.

As the saying goes, the picture was worth a thousand words because it showed the true horrors of this war.

…continued