Archive | May 21st, 2011

Obama’s lousy speech

NOVANEWS

Comrade Joseph writes:  “Opposition to the United States and Israel in fact is something espoused by the peoples of the Arab world, not by their leaders, who have been insisting for decades that the US and Israel are the friends of Arabs. Indeed the people of the region have been the only party that insisted that US policies and domination in the region and constant Israeli aggressions are what make these two countries enemies of the Arab peoples, while Arab rulers and their propaganda machines insisted on diverting people’s anger toward other imagined enemies, which the US conjured up for the region, while making peace with Israel.  Obama’s attempt to deny the hatred that Arabs feel towards the United States and Israel because of the actions of these two countries is nothing short of the continued refusal of the United States and Israel (not of Arabs) to take responsibility for their own actions by shifting the blame for the horrendous violence they have inflicted on the region onto their very victims. When Obama and Israel call on Arabs to take responsibility for the state of the region and not blame the US and Israel for it, what they are essentially doing is to refuse to take responsibility for what they have inflicted on Arabs.”

Emperor Obama vs the Arab people

Despite calling for change in some parts of the Middle East, the US president reaffirmed the status quo where it counts.

By giving Israel his unflinching support, Obama has alienated much of the Arab world [GALLO/GETTY]

In 1960, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan delivered an important speech titled Wind of Change, first in Accra and later in Cape Town, signaling British decolonisation of its African territories and warning the South African regime to move away from its apartheid policies. In 2011, US President Barack Obama begged to differ. While dubbing his speech Winds of Change, in reference to the uprisings ongoing across the Arab World, his speech made it clear that the same winds were not yet blowing in Washington DC, and perhaps never will. President Obama’s second speech on the Arab world, delivered on 19 May, showed such constancy and lack of change in US policy as his first speech, delivered in Cairo on 4 June 2009. This is not to say that the two speeches lacked flair and imperial hubris in the delivery, but rather that their characteristic lack of substance or novelty, let alone their decorative and gratuitous verbosity, demonstrate that imperial climate control in Washington can never be “changed”, not even by the wind of the Arab uprisings.

The problem with US policy in the Arab world is not only its insistence on broadcasting credulous US propaganda – easily fed to Americans, yet with few takers elsewhere in the world – but also that it continues to show a complete lack of familiarity with Arab political culture and insists on insulting the intelligence of most Arabs, whom it claims to address directly with speeches such as Mr Obama’s.

US diversions

In the past three decades, Arab leaders allied with the United States (and even the few who were not) have been telling their peoples that Iran, Shia, Sunni Islamists, the Palestinian people and their wretched cause, among others, are the reason for the hardship of Arabs. Indeed this conjuring up of enemies started with the US-Saudi-Kuwaiti plan to subcontract an all-out war against revolutionary Iran, as the enemy of Arabs, which was launched by Saddam Hussein in 1981 to defend America’s oil wells – and which resulted by 1988 in the death of one million Iranians and 400,000 Iraqis.

In the meantime, and since the late 1960s, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon have engaged in wars with the Palestinian guerrillas and against Palestinian civilians, whom they identified as the enemy. Egypt launched a war against Libya when Sadat was in power, and later, under Mubarak, against its own Islamists and against the Palestinian people. Indeed even Algeria was conjured up as the enemy of Egyptians in Mubarak’s last year on the throne.

Saudi Arabia, while repressing all of its population in the name of Wahabism, has not stopped hatching various plans (and plots) since 1982 to bring Israel into the Arab fold. When President Obama peddles the Israeli lie, that his pro-Israel advisors at the White House – and there has been no other kinds of Middle East advisors at the White House since the Clinton administration – feed him, that “too many leaders in the region tried to direct their people’s grievances elsewhere. The West was blamed as the source of all ills, a half-century after the end of colonialism. Antagonism toward Israel became the only acceptable outlet for political expression,” to which leaders is he actually referring? Sadat, Mubarak, Ben Ali, Kings Hussein and Abdullah II of Jordan, Kings Hasan II and Muhammad VI of Morocco, President Bouteflika, any of the Gulf monarchs or the two Hariri prime ministers, Rafiq and Saad?

Not only are such lies not believable to anyone in the wider world, but also, were the US administration to believe them, explain the ongoing foreign policy failures in a region the US insists on dominating – but which it refuses to learn much about.

Popular opposition and leadership support

Opposition to the United States and Israel in fact is something espoused by the peoples of the Arab world, not by their leaders, who have been insisting for decades that the US and Israel are the friends of Arabs. Indeed the people of the region have been the only party that insisted that US policies and domination in the region and constant Israeli aggressions are what make these two countries enemies of the Arab peoples, while Arab rulers and their propaganda machines insisted on diverting people’s anger toward other imagined enemies, which the US conjured up for the region, while making peace with Israel.

Obama’s attempt to deny the hatred that Arabs feel towards the United States and Israel because of the actions of these two countries is nothing short of the continued refusal of the United States and Israel (not of Arabs) to take responsibility for their own actions by shifting the blame for the horrendous violence they have inflicted on the region onto their very victims. When Obama and Israel call on Arabs to take responsibility for the state of the region and not blame the US and Israel for it, what they are essentially doing is to refuse to take responsibility for what they have inflicted on Arabs.

Arabs have clearly taken responsibility and have been trying to remove the dictators that the US and Israel have supported for decades – and which they continue to support. The only parties refusing to take responsibility here are the United States and Israel. Obama’s speech, sadly, continues this intransigent tradition.

In the same vein, Obama chastises Syria for following “its Iranian ally, seeking assistance from Tehran in the tactics of suppression. And this speaks to the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime”. He would have done well to accuse the French, British, and his own government – with whom the regimes of Ben Ali and Mubarak consulted until their last moment in office. The scandal of French collaboration with Ben Ali’s and Mubarak’s governments until the last minute, especially in “security” matters, has filled world newspapers over the past months, as did the news that both the Egyptian defense minister Muhammad Tantawi (now in charge of the military council governing post-Mubarak Egypt) and army chief of staff Sami Anan spent much of the Egyptian uprising in Washington DC consulting with the Americans on how best to “deal” with the uprising – leaving aside the other direct line to Mubarak and Omar Suleiman that many US government and security organs had until the last moment of Mubarak’s rule – and since.

But Obama thinks Arabs are stupid or ignorant of the fact that it is the US and European countries who train and fund almost all governmental security agencies in the region. Iran’s help to Syria may expose Iranian hypocrisy, but US, British and French hypocrisy, thankfully remains unexposed.

Freedom – for some

Obama spoke of how “there must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity”, but given his insistence that such change be brought about in Syria and Libya, but not in Oman, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain (among others), does raise many doubts. The silence on demonstrations in monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Morocco) and the mild criticisms of Yemen, whose popular uprising precedes Libya’s, stand in stark contrast with the vehemence of Obama’s criticisms of Syria and Libya.

The belated mention of Bahrain stood out as a sign of a lack of courage, as now weeks after the Bahraini uprising has been successfully crushed through use of a US-supplied and supported Gulf mercenary force led by Saudi Arabia, Obama mustered the courage to speak about ongoing arrests there and the destruction of Shia mosques.

In the case of Syria, however, his criticisms and those of his government started from day one. Indeed when juxtaposed with his statement that “we will keep our commitments to friends and partners”, a clearer picture was revealed about where and what kinds of changes the US welcomes – and where and what kinds of changes it does not. Obama even went further by enumerating where America’s “core” principles should apply: Baghdad, Damascus, Sanaa, and Tehran, in addition to Benghazi, Cairo, and Tunis – but not Riyadh, Manama, Muscat, Amman, Algiers, or Rabat.

America’s alleged core principle of religious tolerance and equality is also highly country-specific. Aside from identifying Iraq, a country the US destroyed and where it instituted the most virulent form of religious sectarianism and ethnic hatred in the region, as “a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian democracy”, Obama’s concern for religious tolerance applies to Egypt – and thankfully, but more mildly, to Bahrain only. But when it comes to Israel, this commitment disappears, as Obama insists that Arabs must “recognise Israel as a Jewish State”, and once again threatens Palestinians (as he had threatened them in his Cairo speech) to desist from “delegitimising” Israel’s right to be a state that discriminates by law against its non-Jewish citizens on a religious and ethnic basis.

“For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimise Israel will end in failure,” he said. Supporting religious tolerance, one would think, should apply uniformly and not selectively. Obama’s myopia, however, is such that he thinks Arabs will buy his anti-Arab and pro-Israel rhetoric readily.

This also applies to another of America’s “core interests”, namely nuclear proliferation. Obama shamelessly declared that his country has “for decades … pursued” a policy of “stopping the spread of nuclear weapons” in the region. But as the entire world has known for almost four decades, Israel is the only country in the region that possesses such weapons, which, at least, on one occasion it threatened to use – and refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

That the US has supported Israel in its nuclear pursuits, and blocks any UN decision that seeks to penalise it for it seems not to be in contradiction of America’s “core interests.” Iraq, Syria, and Iran should be prevented from having nuclear reactors, even for peaceful purposes – but Israel can and should be allowed to have all the nuclear weapons it wishes to have.

Sympathy for colonisers

Finally, Obama comes to the Palestinian question and tells us once again nothing new or substantive, Zionist protestations notwithstanding. First, Arabs are enjoined once again – as we were in his Cairo speech – to sympathise with the poor Israeli Jews who experience “the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them”. That Israel and the leading US Jewish organisations have for decades been the main global purveyors of the most racist and virulent forms of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hateful propaganda seems to have escaped Obama and his advisors.

What kind of credibility does Obama think he will have with Arabs who have been on the receiving end of such global hatred for decades, when he wants them to sympathize with the suffering of their persecutors who have been blowing up Arab children non-stop since 1948?

But Obama went further, not only does he believe that, unlike all other countries in the region which must practice religious tolerance, Israel should be exempted from that condition and must be supported in its legal practice of religious and ethnic intolerance – but tells us that such exemption should only apply inside the state of Israel but not in the Occupied Territories.

When Obama declares that “the dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation”, he is telling us that it is possible to exist without tolerance, meaning that Palestinian citizens of Israel should continue to suffer ethnic and religious discrimination from the “Jewish and democratic state” – but not Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. He remains unclear on whether Palestinians of the city of Jerusalem should suffer or not.

Right to exist

Obama proposes that the negotiations over the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem be postponed, but he simulatenously proposes that Israel should withdraw to the borders of 1967; here he is either showing ignorance of the situation, or outright malice. The 1967 borders of which Obama speaks include East Jerusalem, but Obama seems to have excepted the city from these borders a priori, as if it is not part of them, even though international law and the United Nations recognise it as part and parcel of the territories occupied through war in 1967.

This is aside from the fact that Israel has illegally expanded East Jerusalem at the expense of West Bank lands, with some estimates putting its current municipal size at ten per cent of the West Bank (in 1967 it was a mere six square kilometers). The so-called “mutually agreed swaps” of land that Obama proposes are no such thing. Israel already took a further ten per cent of the West Bank behind its apartheid wall. Add to that the settlements and the Jordan Valley, which Israel claims is the part it wants to swap land for.

What Palestinians have left at the end is less than 60 per cent of the West Bank that could be designated as a “Palestinian state”, although even that state should be “non-militarised,” yet surprisingly “sovereign”, as Obama tells us.

Obama also remains concerned about Israel’s right to exist but not that of the Palestinians. He declared,without irony, in reference to Hamas: “How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognise your right to exist?” After all, the Palestinians have been negotiating for two decades with Israel, which refuses insistently to recognise the Palestinians’ right to exist in a state of their own.

If Harold Macmillan’s speech in 1960 urged the South Africans to abandon apartheid, Obama’s in 2011 insists that the Palestinians must recognise Israel’s right to continue to be a racist state.

When Obama speaks of how America’s “short-term interests” in the region, at times, “don’t align perfectly with our long-term vision for the region”, he is peddling the biggest imperial lie of all. America’s short- and long-term interests in the region have always been control of oil resources, securing US profits, and defending Israel. Until “winds of change” blow on these interests, the position of the United States as the most powerful anti-democratic force in the Arab World will remain the same, Emperor Obama’s speeches notwithstanding.

Joseph Massad is Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University. He is author of The Persistence of the Palestinian Question (Routledge, 2006).

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

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Why Saudi King was outraged: he wanted Zionist Mu-Barak to kill them all

NOVANEWS

“It is not an easy sell in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, where King Abdullah was outraged by Mr. Obama’s abandonment of President Hosni Mubarak. (He told Mr. Obama that he needed to support the Egyptian leader even if the protesters in Tahrir Square were fired upon.) Saudi Arabia’s drive now is to stop the threat to established governments — even as Mr. Obama seeks partners in helping integrate a new Egypt into the world economy.”

For U.S., Matching Moral and Financial Support for Revolts Proves Difficult

 

Ed Ou for The New York Times

Patrons at a cafe in Cairo on Thursday as President Obama spoke. About 10 minutes into the speech, the channel was changed to one showing an action movie.

By 

Published: May 19, 2011

WASHINGTON — After six months of struggle inside the White House to reconcile American interests in the Arab uprisings with American values, President Obama on Thursday sought to portray the region’s revolt in the historical tradition of the American Revolution and the civil rights movement.

But even as Mr. Obama appealed for the people of the region to embrace self-determination as the route to peace and prosperity, he left open how far the United States could go in matching its enthusiasm with concrete financial support for a sustained transformation, in a region where repression has often been the handmaiden of poverty and seething frustration. 

The model, the president suggested at one point, was the integration of Eastern Europe into the West after the fall of Communism, urging Congress to create “enterprise funds” to invest in Tunisia and Egypt, and presumably in other places where dictators have yet to fall. “Successful democratic transitions depend upon an expansion of growth and broad-based prosperity,” he said.

But this is not 1989. In global politics, as in life, timing is everything. The Middle Eastern and North African states now in various stages of upheaval have come to democracy in an era of painfully tight budgets in the United States and economic crisis in Europe.

What Egypt was offered in the president’s speech — $1 billion in debt relief over several years and another $1 billion in loans to finance infrastructure improvements — is hardly a Marshall Plan, as the Egyptians have made clear in private discussions with Washington. “The reality is that there just isn’t much money around for this project,” one of Mr. Obama’s top officials acknowledged after his speech.

“This is obviously a very small amount,” Steven A. Cook , a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said after Mr. Obama’s speech. Egypt, he noted, has external debt in excess of $30 billion, and an economy in freefall. “But it’s what the political freight these days will bear,” he said.

The problem becomes more complex because there are no institutions in the Arab world akin to the European Union. The prospect of joining the European bloc became the beacon that drove many of the former Soviet states to adopt the institutions of democratic capitalism. For many, even success stories like Poland, it took years. But usually the goal of becoming integrated with the West ended all political debates about how to proceed.

So Mr. Obama and other Western leaders, when they meet in France next week, will be racing to invent something.

The drive now is to persuade the Saudis and other oil-rich states to underwrite the transitions to democracy. It is not an easy sell in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, where King Abdullah was outraged by Mr. Obama’s abandonment of President Hosni Mubarak. (He told Mr. Obama that he needed to support the Egyptian leader even if the protesters in Tahrir Square were fired upon.) Saudi Arabia’s drive now is to stop the threat to established governments — even as Mr. Obama seeks partners in helping integrate a new Egypt into the world economy.

Mr. Obama’s economic team, however, believes there is no need for a Marshall Plan for Egypt. “It’s a misdeveloped economy, not a destroyed one the way Europe was after World War II,” said one of the president’s top economic aides. “They need to privatize, to open the economy to trade, to create jobs.”

The relief Mr. Obama described is largely symbolic, he conceded, an effort to show that the United States was willing to contribute to economic change just as it was willing in the past to help support Mr. Mubarak.

Mr. Obama worded his speech carefully to make it clear that economic support was dependent on letting democracy flourish — code words for a warning that if the Muslim Brotherhood became the dominant force in the country, economic cooperation could halt. But this is more than just the usual economic sticks and carrots.

Six months after a Tunisian street peddler named Mohamed Bouazizi immolated himself in protest, starting the cycle of uprisings and revolution, the president was understandably eager to fill any vacuum forming in the region.

With the fate of Libya, Syria and Yemen still in play, his aides knew he had to align himself more forcefully with the voices for change, and to equate their revolution with America’s, 235 years ago.

He did, declaring: “The United States of America was founded on the belief that people should govern themselves. Now, we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable and more just.”

Such an embrace of traditional American values carried deliberate echoes of Mr. Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo, his plaintive call for a restart between the Muslim world and the United States. But back then, it was a theoretical issue.

Now, Mr. Obama has hard choices to make. He must find a way to support the protesters in Bahrain without overthrowing the government that houses the Navy’s Fifth Fleet. He must find a way to keep Saudi Arabia in the American camp, while urging reforms that some in the Saudi royal family view  as assisted suicide. And mostly, he must create beacons for democratizing states — hard enough in normal times, and far harder in an age of austerity.

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Obama’s Peace Tack Contrasts With Key Aide, Friend of IsraHell

NOVANEWS

 

By  and 
WASHINGTON — Five days ago, during a closed-door meeting with a group of Middle East experts, administration officials, and journalists, King Abdullah II of Jordan gave his assessment of how Arabs view the debate within the Obama administration over how far to push Israel on concessions for peace with the Palestinians.

Jacqueline Arzt/Associated Press

Dennis B. Ross, right, with Benjamin Netanyahu in 1997. Mr. Ross has served as a Middle East envoy for several presidents.

From the State Department, “we get good responses,” the Jordanian king said, according to several people who were in the room. And from the Pentagon, too. “But not from the White House, and we know the reason why is because of Dennis Ross” —President Obama’s chief Middle East adviser.

Mr. Ross, King Abdullah concluded, “is giving wrong advice to the White House.”

By almost all accounts, Dennis B. Ross — Middle East envoy to three presidents, well-known architect of incremental and painstaking diplomacy in the Middle East that eschews game-changing plays — is Israel’s friend in the Obama White House and one of the most influential behind-the-scenes figures in town.

His strategy sometimes contrasts sharply with that of a president who has bold instincts and a willingness to elevate the plight of the Palestinians to a status equal to that of the Israelis.

But now, as the president is embarking on a course that, once again, puts him at odds with Israel’s conservative prime minister, the question is how much of a split the president is willing to make not only with the Israeli leader, but with his own hand-picked Middle East adviser.

The White House would not say where Mr. Ross, 62, stood on the president’s announcement on Thursday that Israel’s pre-1967 borders — adjusted to account for Israeli security needs and Jewish settlements in the West Bank — should form the basis for a negotiated settlement. Mr. Ross did not respond to requests for comment for this article. His friends and associates say he has long believed that peace negotiations will succeed only if the United States closely coordinates its efforts with the Israelis.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel reacted sharply to the president’s proposal, the reality is that the course Mr. Obama outlined Thursday was much more modest than what some of his advisers initially advocated.

During the administration’s debates over the past several months, Mr. Ross made clear that he was opposed to having Mr. Obama push Israel by putting forth a comprehensive American plan for a peace deal with the Palestinians, according to officials involved in the debate.

George J. Mitchell, who was Mr. Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, backed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, argued in favor of a comprehensive American proposal that would include borders, security and the fate of Jerusalem and refugees. But Mr. Ross balked, administration officials said, arguing that it was unwise for the United States to look as if it were publicly breaking with Israel.

Mr. Netanyahu and Israel’s backers in the United States view Mr. Ross as a key to holding at bay what they see as pro-Palestinian sympathies expressed by Mr. Mitchell; Mr. Obama’s first national security adviser, Gen. James L. Jones; and even the president himself.

“Starting with Mitchell and Jones, there was a preponderance of advisers who were more in tune with the Palestinian narrative than the Israeli narrative,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a friend of Mr. Ross. “Dennis balanced that.”

Mr. Ross is the most senior member of a coterie of American diplomats who have advised presidents stretching back to Ronald Reagan. Unlike many of his colleagues, Mr. Ross has thrived in Republican and Democratic administrations.

“Dennis is viewed as the éminence grise, a sort of Rasputin who casts a spell over secretaries of state and presidents,” said Aaron David Miller, a Middle East expert who has worked with him over several administrations and says he is an admirer. “But in the end, it’s the president who makes the ultimate decisions.”

Denis R. McDonough, the deputy national security adviser, said: “Dennis brings to the discussion a recognition of the vital importance of peace to the parties, but also to the United States. He’s in many ways dedicated much of his professional life to getting there.”

Mr. Ross initially began his tenure in the Obama administration as a senior Iran policy maker at the State Department. But in the summer of 2009, just a few months into his job at State, Mr. Ross moved to the White House, where he kept his Iran portfolio and eventually assumed a broader role that has allowed him to take part in developing Mr. Obama’s response to the upheavals in the Arab world.

 

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Dirty laundry of House of Saud

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UK Court Allows Resumption Of Case By Wife Of Late Saudi King Fahd


“A London court has recently allowed the resumption of a long-running legal battle waged by a wife of the man who later became King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, according to documents seen by Dow Jones Newswires.

A spokesman for a son of King Fahd, a defendant in the case, says the lawsuit is without merit.
In recent years, the private affairs of the Saudi royal family have regularly made headlines. In October, a Saudi prince was found guilty in a London…”


 

 

 

 

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Obama and Netanyahu: An Awkward Photo Op

NOVANEWS

 

By Laura MecklerIf President Barack Obama was hoping that a White House photo opportunity today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would paper over differences between the U.S. and Israel, he must have been sorely disappointed.

President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office Friday.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

He and Mr. Netanyahu spoke with reporters after a two-hour meeting that lasted much longer than originally scheduled. The meeting came a day after Mr. Obama made a major address on the Middle East, angering Israel by calling for peace talks with the Palestinians to be based on Israel’s 1967 borders.

Mr. Obama strained to accentuate the positives – as is customary during such White House photo ops. “We agreed that there’s a moment of opportunity that can be seized as a consequence of the Arab Spring but also acknowledge there are significant perils as well,” he said.

When it was his turn, Mr. Netanyahu  delivered a lengthy and highly unusual lecture in a setting designed to highlight only the most polite political interactions.  Mr. Netanyahu bluntly told Mr. Obama that he would not accept his conditions for reviving peace talks and at one point turned and warned him that “a peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality.” While he referred to the nations’ “enduring bond of friendship,” he set out to explain exactly how his counterpart was wrong about Mideast peace negotiations.

The two leaders sat side-by-side. Mr. Obama sat back in his chair, somewhat stiffly and mostly looked to the reporters in the room as he spoke. Mr. Netanyahu leaned toward Mr. Obama and looked directly at the president as he expressed disagreement with his newly announced Mideast policy. (The White House transcript of the leaders’ remarks is here.)

Mr. Netanyahu  said that Palestinians “will have to accept some basic realities.” But he might as well have said: “The U.S. is going to have to accept some basic realities.”

First off, he said Israel is not returning to the borders in place before the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel was attacked by its Arab neighbors but emerged from the war having garnered significant new territory. Some of that is the land that will make up a new Palestinian state.

“While Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines, because these lines are indefensible,” Mr. Netanyahu told reporters, sitting beside Mr. Obama. “So we can’t go back to those indefensible lines, and we’re going to have to have a long-term military presence along … Jordan.”

In his speech, Mr. Obama had said the issue of Palestinian refugees will have to be worked out, but he didn’t take sides on that question.

Mr. Netanyahu said it is obvious that the heirs of the Palestinians who were displaced in the 1948 war for Israeli independence are not going to be absorbed into Israel.

“Sixty-three years later, the Palestinians come to us and they say to Israel: accept the grandchildren, really, and the great-grandchildren of these refugees, thereby wiping out Israel’s future as a Jewish state,” he said. “So that’s not going to happen. Everybody knows it’s not going to happen. And I think it’s time to tell the Palestinians forthrightly, it’s not going to happen.”

And he got personal, equating Hamas, one faction within the Palestinian leadership, with al Qaeda. “Hamas has just attacked you, Mr. President, and the United States for ridding the world of bin Laden,” he said, turning to Mr. Obama. “So Israel obviously cannot be asked to negotiate with a government that is backed by the Palestinian version of al Qaeda.”

–Carol E. Lee contributed to this post.

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Questions linger over control of Pakistan airfield

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People rally to condemn the killing of al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and American’s drone attacks on Pakistani tribal areas, on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Placard in center reads “we condemn US drone attacks.” – AP Photo

ISLAMABAD: During a recent, rare briefing to parliament, a top Pakistani air force commander made a surprising claim: a remote southwestern airfield long suspected of housing US drones used in missile strikes was actually under the control of the United Arab Emirates.

The comment stunned lawmakers and ordinary Pakistanis, who – in the wake of the May 2 US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in northwest Pakistan – had been questioning whether their nation has been surrendering its sovereignty.

But this week, a UAE official only added to the mystery by strongly denying to The Associated Press that the Gulf state has any operational role in the Shamsi airfield, although, the official, said wealthy Arabs have occasionally used it to fly to Pakistan on hunting expeditions.

The airfield – in the sparsely populated, rugged province of Baluchistan about 1,000 kilometers southwest of Islamabad – has been used in the past by US troops fighting in Afghanistan, although Americans working there have been asked to leave in recent months amid tensions between Pakistan and Washington, according to a Pakistani official.

Pakistan has long publicly denied that it allows the US to use its territory to launch drones attacks – or that it supports the drone campaign at all. Saying Shamsi is controlled by the UAE may have been an attempt by Pakistan’s military to gain some domestic political cover, but it has simply led to more confusion.

“The question arises: who authorized this surrender of sovereignty?” asked an editorial in a Pakistani English-language paper.

The unusual, private military briefing last week was about the bin Laden raid. Air Marshal Mohammad Hassan insisted that no drones used in missile strikes took off from Pakistani soil. But he also said Shamsi was not a Pakistan Air Force facility and that it was handed to the UAE during the 1990s, according to lawmakers who requested anonymity because the session was supposed to be confidential.

At least one lawmaker said that during questioning about the base, air force officials said US surveillance drones – but not armed ones – used the Shamsi field. Local media also reported that claim.

It’s not unheard of for wealthy Arabs to lease property in Pakistan, which has tried to build alliances with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries over the years in bids to shore up its standing among Muslim nations and gain allies in the event of tensions with neighboring India.

The UAE official told the AP that the Arab state helped Pakistan build the airfield decades ago but has never had control of it and does not lease the property.

The extent of its involvement today is that UAE sheiks and others may use the airfield for “recreational purposes” such as hunting expeditions, the official said. Those private, civilian planes that come in for hunting and falconry trips must get clearance from Pakistani aviation authorities and file flight plans, according to the UAE official.

The base “was never operated nor controlled by the UAE,” said the official, who had been briefed on the subject by the Gulf state’s Foreign Ministry and requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive subject.

The US used the Shamsi field as a forward staging point in the initial period after it invaded Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. In January 2002, a US military tanker plane crashed near the area, killing all seven Marines on board.

Since 2008, when the US began a sustained campaign of missile strikes against militant targets in Pakistan’s tribal regions, reports have surfaced that the drones used in the attacks were taking off from Shamsi.

A Pakistani English-language daily and the Times of London published a Google Earth image purportedly showing three US drones at Shamsi as early as 2006. Citing unnamed US officials, The New York Times has also reported that employees of the security company previously known as Blackwater worked at Shamsi to load missiles and bombs onto American drones.

But Pakistani officials have been tightlipped about Shamsi, which, like much of the Baluchistan region, is largely off limits to reporters. Attempts to get comment from the Pakistan Air Force and the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority were not immediately successful this week.

A US military official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said there are presently no US military personnel at Shamsi. But he could not speak for the CIA or contractors used by any other US agencies. The CIA rarely discusses the covert drone program.

At the end of the marathon session in Pakistan’s Parliament on Saturday, lawmakers passed a resolution warning against future unilateral US raids and also condemned the drone strikes, which target al Qaida and the Taliban in the tribal areas along the Afghan border.

The resolution called on the government to consider cutting off US and Nato supply lines that run through Pakistan if the missile strikes continue.

Just two days later on Monday, the US launched two missile strikes, killing seven people in North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region home to several militant groups fighting Western forces across the border in Afghanistan.

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Israel must abide by the 1967 borders: Obama

NOVANEWS

 

 

Israel must abide by the 1967 borders: Obama — but refuses to do anything about it and obeys Zionist demands for him not to recognize  Palestinian Statehood!

Obama’s statements are nothing new. This has been American policy since 1967, including during the infamous Bush administration. America has consistently opposed illegal Jewish Zionist settlements on Palestinian land in the Palestinian parts of Jerusalem. But, America has done nothing about it except send Zio-Nazi more billions of American taxpayer’s money and doesn’t support any meaningful UN policies to stop the theft of Palestinian land and the destruction of an intact Palestinian state. And of course, the Zionist-controlled media never makes an issue of this dichotomy between words and deeds.

Salma El-Wardani, Michael Gunn

May 19, 2011

President Barack Obama said for the first time Thursday that the borders of Israel and a future Palestinian state should be based on 1967 lines and be completed with land swaps.

“The United States believes that negotiations between Palestine and Israel should be based on two independent states with each having permanent borders” he said during today’s speech on events in the Middle East and North Africa and the United States’ policy in the region, live-streamed from the State Department.

“An Israeli state must abide by the borders of the 1967 accord,” he said.

The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states,”

“The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. The duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.”

Obama said  also that the Palestinian drive for recognition of statehood at the UN General Assembly will not work.
“Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state,”  the president said.

At a Cairo screening of the speech at the Semiramis hotel, heavy applause greeted his statement: ”At the time when the whole MENA region are casting off the burdens of the past, the change is more urgent than ever for the Palestinians.”

Article Source:  AhramOnline

Map Source:   The Guardian

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The X (Rated) Conference

NOVANEWS

 

(Image courtesy of Skulz Fontaine)

1. I do not know what it is that Dr. Juan Cole, whom I’ve praised in the past and no doubt will do so again in the future, is smoking, but Juan please tell us what it is and how we can get some?  Maybe it’s some new Israeli drug called Obamasy, cause when Obama mouths Zionist bullshit, Juan gets higher than Larry Sinclair in the back seat of a limo.

Obama’s speech about the Middle East given last Thursday was delayed a bit because it had to be translated from the Hebrew and all the State Department Hebrew interpreters were already working in Congressional offices. Fortunately, once it was translated the Jerusalem Washington New York Times Post (JEWNYTP) ran the speech through Mantiq al-Tayr’s Tafsiranator and noted that the pablum about the 1967 borders Obama uttered was just a bunch of bullshit designed to fool the Arabs and especially dumb-ass Americans. It worked on the Americans as Dr. Cole himself proves, but the Arabs have the Israelis figured out and shot the speech in the chest and the head and dumped it into the ocean.

Here ‘s JEWNYTP reassuring Israeli-firsters that the President was just joking.  They ran the speech through the Tafsiranator but attributed the results to unnamed “officials” in the Netanyahu administration.

Oh, wait, I need to digress for a second. A few days ago a very thoughtful reader named Kate made a comment on my previous post in which she suggested that it might be a good idea if the posts on this blog contained  little or no profanity noting this might attract more readers. We thought about it for quite some time and all the Tuyuur here at Mantiq al-Tayr gave their opinions. We came to a historic compromise and decided that for today’s post we would only use the F-word or its derivatives four times. That’s right we are only going to use fuck four fucking times. And that’s two already. The other two will really need to be well-placed.  But, as I said, I digress.  Now back to JEWNYTP and its use of the Tafsiranator. (Red highlights are mine, as usual.)

. . . Obama, like Bush before him, knows Israel will almost certainly not return to the 1967 lines in a final peace agreement. But the officials [actually the Tafsiranator] said Obama chose to stress a different starting point for talks, even though the negotiated outcome might be the same, to introduce a new element into what has been a stalled process.

“The positions are consistent,” one official [the Tafsiranator] said, referring to Obama’s and Bush’s policies toward negotiations. “We certainly know what the president’s position doesn’t mean — a return to the 1967 lines.”

Yup it’s all bullshit. Let’s see what the Israeli Vice President for American Affairs, Barack Hussein Obama, has to say tomorrow at the Conference of Traitors.

Okay, now before I go on, go here and here to see Dr. Cole when he is not on Obamasy. Much better.

JEWNYPT also points out that a bunch of Republicans are going to prove to the whole world that when it comes to Israel they don’t spit, they swallow. (The Democrats are no better. So please don’t email me about how I am partial to the Democrats. Only Shas Party members could be so stupid.)

“Republicans on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, injected partisan politics into the debate by vowing to formally condemn Obama’s position toward Israel in a resolution next week.”

And guess who is leading the charge? Recording artist and song writer Orrin Hatch (Likud, Utah).

“In a statement, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said he would introduce a congressional resolution next week “disapproving the president’s new policy towards Israel.” Hatch said the resolution would “affirm Israel’s right to maintain its territorial integrity.””

Hatch was so worked up about it that he issued a press release. I include a mildly edited version of it below.  Edits are in brackets.

WASHINGTON –  [After walking out of a bathroom with Israeli lobbyists] U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch ([Likud]-Utah) today condemned the President’s new demands that threaten Israel’s security.  Hatch said he will introduce a Congressional Resolution next week disapproving the President’s new policy towards Israel.  Hatch issued the following statement:

“Israel is the United States’ strongest friend and ally.  By calling for a return to the pre-1967 borders, President Obama has directly undermined her.  Rather than stand by Israel against consistent unprovoked aggression by longtime supporters of terrorism, President Obama is rewarding those who threaten Israel’s very right to exist.  This is not only ridiculous, but dangerous.  [Pausing for a moment to swallow, Hatch went on to say] There is strong disapproval in Congress for the President’s new posture towards Israel, and I will introduce a resolution next week affirming Israel’s right to maintain its territorial integrity.

[Hatch then paused, coughed something up, sipped an entire glass of water and then went on to say.]

“Now, more than ever, the security interests of the United States and Israel are linked.  Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is a clear and present danger to both of our nations.   We cannot distance ourselves from our Israeli friends.”

Okay, it’s video time. This one is a real treasure. The song was written by Orrin Hatch and at the end he even sings in it. See where his loyalty lies and sing along.

Oh, I have to interrupt video time. I didn’t use the final two “F-word opportunities” today. This means I get to use it six fucking times in my next post. Oops. Five times. Got to watch that.  But I digress.

I love this song, not sure why. Has our country become the Roy Orbison of this song?

“I stood beside him and sang with him. He didn’t seem to be singing. So I thought, ‘He’ll sing it the next take. He’s just reading the words.’ And then we went in to listen to the take, and there was this voice, which was the loudest whisper I’ve ever heard. He had been singing it. But he hardly moved his lips. And the voice was louder than the band in its own way. I don’t know how he did that. It was like sleight of hand.”

That’s from Bono talking about Roy Orbison singing the hauntingly beautiful song below.

Orbison was a real song writer. Here’s Bono on that subject.

“”The thing people don’t talk about enough as far as I’m concerned is how innovative this music was, how radical in terms of its songwriting. As I become more interested in songwriting, you hit a wall where Roy Orbison is standing.”

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Netanyahu rebukes Obama’s idea on Zionist’s State ’67 borders

NOVANEWS

 

McClatchy Newspapers

 

WASHINGTON — In a public rebuke, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a White House appearance with President Barack Obama on Friday to flatly reject any suggestion that Israel might even consider withdrawing from territories it seized in the 1967 Six-Day War.

“While Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines,” Netanyahu said with Obama at his side, both seated in the Oval Office. “These lines are indefensible. … They don’t take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years,”

The president had called Thursday for new peace negotiations toward a Palestinian state to be based on Israel’s 1967 borders, supplemented with voluntary land swaps and leaving questions about Jerusalem’s status for the future. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush had taken essentially the same position, though with different wording.

Netanyahu said the territory added since 1967 gave Israel a better chance to defend itself, and that any retreat would forfeit defensive positions against attack.

“Remember that, before 1967, Israel was all of 9 miles wide. It was half the width of the Washington Beltway,” he said. “These were not the boundaries of peace; they were the boundaries of repeated wars, because the attack on Israel was so attractive.”

Moreover, Netanyahu made clear that he intends not only to maintain control of at least some of the seized territory in the West Bank of the Jordan River, but he also said he’d keep Israeli military there.

“We can’t go back to those indefensible lines, and we’re going to have to have a long-term military presence along the Jordan,” he said.

Netanyahu addressed his remarks to the Palestinians. But with Obama’s talk about the 1967 borders in his speech the day before, it was clear that the prime minister was reacting to the president. Obama stared blankly at Netanyahu as the prime minister spoke.

Despite Netanyahu’s face-to-face rebuke — in the president’s office and in front of the news media — Obama aides said that the president didn’t propose that Israel simply withdraw to pre-1967 borders. They said he’d proposed only that the pre-1967 borders serve as an opening point for negotiations with the Palestinians, as long as any agreement included mutually agreed-on swaps of land.

“We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states,” Obama said Thursday.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also said that the idea of using the pre-1967 borders — also known as the borders set in 1949 — as a starting point for negotiations wasn’t new. President Bill Clinton started from the same premise in trying to broker a peace deal in 2000.

In an April 2004 letter to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, President George W. Bush suggested that the 1949-1967 borders were a starting point, but he also said that any final peace would be subject to agreements that would reflect Israel’s settlements in some of the territory seized since 1967. “It is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiation will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949,” Bush wrote.

In a 2005 news conference, Bush said that any “changes to the 1949 Armistice Lines must be mutually agreed to.”

“Anybody who knows this issue knows that this has been an understood starting point,” Carney said Friday.

Haim Malka, the deputy director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that no one really thought that a final peace would re-establish the 1949-1967 borders.

“The president never said that Israel should go back to the 1967 border,” Malka said.

He said the Israelis were upset because Obama “used different language than President Bush used to convey the same idea” in terms of mutually agreed swaps. “The Israelis wanted to hear language on the border issue similar to President Bush’s,” Malka said.

Malka said that Obama essentially said the same thing, only with different wording.

In his comments at the White House, Netanyahu also said that he could never negotiate with a Palestinian government that recently formed a coalition with the militant Islamist group Hamas, which doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist and which has been labeled a terrorist group.

Obama agreed, saying that, “it is very difficult for Israel to be expected to negotiate in a serious way with a party that refuses to acknowledge its right to exist. And so for that reason I think the Palestinians are going to have to answer some very difficult questions about this agreement that’s been made between Fatah and Hamas.”

On another point of long-standing friction between Palestinians and Israel, Netanyahu flatly rejected the Palestinian goal of winning Israel’s permission to grant a “right of return” to the descendants of Palestinian Arabs who were expelled from Israel after the 1948 war.

“It’s not going to happen. Everybody knows it’s not going to happen,” Netanyahu said, contending that it would destroy Israel’s identity as a Jewish nation.

Obama called his 90-minute meeting with Netanyahu constructive, reiterating the close relationship between the countries.

“Obviously, there are some differences between us in the precise formulations and language, and that’s going to happen between friends,” he said.

“But what we are in complete accord about is that a true peace can only occur if the ultimate resolution allows Israel to defend itself against threats, and that Israel’s security will remain paramount in U.S. evaluations of any prospective peace deal.”

 

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Turkish Paper–CIA chief in Ankara to discuss possible regime change in Syria

NOVANEWS

 

 

Leon Panetta, the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has spent the last five days in Ankara, Turkey, on a secret visit with high-ranking Turk officials to evaluate the crisis in Syria, according to Turkish newspaper, Sabah.

The paper reported that Panetta is rumored to have met with head of the Turkish Intelligence Organization (MIT), members of the government and officials from the General Staff.

The paper also reported that Panetta discussed the civil war in Libya, relations between Israel and Turkey, the war in Afghanistan and U.S. cooperation in fighting against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which seeks independence from Turkey.

Separately, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is reportedly planning to send an envoy to Damascus in order to encourage Assad to implement more democratic reforms.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Turkish Paper–CIA chief in Ankara to discuss possible regime change in Syria

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