Archive | October 8th, 2014

ISIL: From Decapitation to Islamophobia



Global Research

With the ISIL terrorists mounting more gory adventurism in Syria and Iraq and capturing villages and towns, there seems to be no tangible impediment to stop this influx of terror.

The ghastly images circulated freely by the cult on the internet from beheading to crucifying their victims in cold blood have incensed the international community on the one hand but on the other hand, they have regrettably conduced to Islamophobia, a plan long funded by the officials in Washington.

The root causes of the ISIL cult are not hard to imagine and there are times that those involved in the creation and financing of the cult unwittingly engage in a blame game.

A recent instance of this blame game happened on October 2, when US Vice President Joe Biden made one of his off-the-cuff remarks at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, saying that the Turks, Saudis and UAE “poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons against anyone who would fight Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist element of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

Unsurprisingly, his remarks drew swift condemnation from Washington’s regional allies who took a swipe at Biden’s ‘untoward’ statements. Among those licking their wounds was Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who fumed that, “Biden will be history to me if he has used such expressions.” After all, Biden later apologized to Turkey and UAE.

On October 4, Biden delivered his personal apology to President Erdogan on the telephone and the White House issued a statement to the effect that Biden did not mean to say that Turkey “intentionally” facilitated terrorists.

The world’s richest terrorist organization, ISIL has been funded by Qatar, Kuwait plus the countries mentioned by Mr. Biden.

According to a report published by the Brookings Institute titled “Playing with Fire”, Kuwaiti private donors “began their operations in Syria under a previous 2002 law that did not criminalize terrorist financing and left authorities with few tools to combat potentially troubling financial activity. Nonetheless concerned about the threat of radicalization in their own country, Kuwaiti officials insisted before the new law was implemented that they had been monitoring the situation closely.”

Former US Navy Admiral and NATO Supreme Commander James Stavridis says the cash flow from private donors is significant now and was even more significant in the early fund-raising done by ISIS and al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, the al-Nusrah Front.

“These rich Arabs are like what ‘angel investors’ are to tech start-ups, except they are interested in starting up groups who want to stir up hatred,” said Stavridis, now the dean of the Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts University. “Groups like al-Nusrah and ISIS are better investments for them. The individuals act as high rollers early, providing seed money. Once the groups are on their feet, they are perfectly capable of raising funds through other means, like kidnapping, oil smuggling, selling women into slavery, etc.”

Sources which point with all force to the very agents supporting and financing ISIL are legion but what seems to complicate the issue is why they should engage in such a precarious enterprise which will eventually recoil upon those who initially fermented the crisis.

It is somewhat naïve to think that the ISIL was brought into existence with the intention of overthrowing the regime of Assad and that the creators of this horror were oblivious of the inhumane dimensions it could assume.

Thanks to the abominable efforts of the Arab puppet regimes, Islam is being depicted as a violent religion, Islamophobia is escalating and the Muslims are gradually bearing the brunt of what ISIL has done and is doing.

France, which is home to the largest Muslim community in Europe, is becoming less and less tolerant towards the Muslims.

France’s new Minister of Education, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, who happens to be a Muslim was targeted by a French far-right magazine, Minute. “I call for respect,” Belkacem told the Associated Press in an email, adding, “I repeat in particular that racism is not an opinion, but a crime.”

There has been an alarming rise in Islamophobia in recent months. According to a BBC report, hate crimes against Muslims in London have risen by 65 percent in the last 12 months.

Hijacking the name of Islam, ISIL is tarnishing the image of Islam and through perpetrating every thinkable and unthinkable atrocity, they are treading in a path most appealing to the West and the West, for its part, is furtively and consciously weaving a sham narrative on Islam in the world.

The long way the West has been seeking to traverse in order to tarnish the image of the religion of peace is being cut short by the bloodbath unleashed by the ISIL cult. The West is silently supporting the cult in spite of all their pretentious facades in combating the ISIL.

Now is the time for the Muslim community to reveal to the world that the terrorist cult has nothing to do with Islam and that they are a band of terrorists begotten by the West and funded by the regional Wahhabi regimes as part of the Islamophobic legacy of the former and the imperialist ambitions of the latter.

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From Pol Pot to ISIS

“Anything That Flies on Everything that Moves”.

In transmitting President Richard Nixon’s orders for a “massive” bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, “Anything that flies on everything that moves”.  As Barack Obama ignites his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger’s murderous honesty.

As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery – including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields – I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again.  A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.

According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of “fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders”. Once Nixon’s and Kissinger’s B52 bombers had gone to work as part of “Operation Menu”, the west’s ultimate demon could not believe his luck.

The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They levelled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left monstrous necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air. The terror was unimaginable. A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors “froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told … That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over.”

A Finnish Government Commission of Enquiry estimated that 600,000 Cambodians died in the ensuing civil war and described the bombing as the “first stage in a decade of genocide”.  What Nixon and Kissinger began, Pol Pot, their beneficiary, completed.  Under their bombs, the Khmer Rouge grew to a formidable army of 200,000.

ISIS has a similar past and present. By most scholarly measure, Bush and Blair’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the deaths of some 700,000 people — in a country that had no history of jihadism. The Kurds had done territorial and political deals; Sunni and Shia had class and sectarian differences, but they were at peace; intermarriage was common. Three years before the invasion, I drove the length of Iraq without fear. On the way I met people proud, above all, to be Iraqis, the heirs of a civilization that seemed, for them, a presence.

Bush and Blair blew all this to bits. Iraq is now a nest of jihadism. Al-Qaeda — like Pol Pot’s “jihadists” — seized the opportunity provided by the onslaught of Shock and Awe and the civil war that followed. “Rebel” Syria offered even greater rewards, with CIA and Gulf state ratlines of weapons, logistics and money running through Turkey. The arrival of foreign recruits was inevitable. A former British ambassador, Oliver Miles, wrote recently, “The [Cameron] government seems to be following the example of Tony Blair, who ignored consistent advice from the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6 that our Middle East policy – and in particular our Middle East wars – had been a principal driver in the recruitment of Muslims in Britain for terrorism here.”

ISIS is the progeny of those in Washington and London who, in destroying Iraq as both a state and a society, conspired to commit an epic crime against humanity. Like Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, ISIS are the mutations of a western state terror dispensed by a venal imperial elite undeterred by the consequences of actions taken at great remove in distance and culture. Their culpability is unmentionable in “our” societies.

It is 23 years since this holocaust enveloped Iraq, immediately after the first Gulf War, when the US and Britain hijacked the United Nations Security Council and imposed punitive “sanctions” on the Iraqi population – ironically, reinforcing the domestic authority of Saddam Hussein. It was like a medieval siege. Almost everything that sustained a modern state was, in the jargon, “blocked” — from chlorine for making the water supply safe to school pencils, parts for X-ray machines, common painkillers and drugs to combat previously unknown cancers carried in the dust from the southern battlefields contaminated with Depleted Uranium.

Just before Christmas 1999, the Department of Trade and Industry in London restricted the export of vaccines meant to protect Iraqi children against diphtheria and yellow fever. Kim Howells, a medical doctor and parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Blair government, explained why. “The children’s vaccines”, he said, “were capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction”. The British Government could get away with such an outrage because media reporting of Iraq – much of it manipulated by the Foreign Office — blamed Saddam Hussein for everything.

Under a bogus “humanitarian” Oil for Food Programme, $100 was allotted for each Iraqi to live on for a year. This figure had to pay for the entire society’s infrastructure and essential services, such as power and water.  “Imagine,” the UN Assistant Secretary General, Hans Von Sponeck, told me, “setting that pittance against the lack of clean water, and the fact that the majority of sick people cannot afford treatment, and the sheer trauma of getting from day to day, and you have a glimpse of the nightmare. And make no mistake, this is deliberate. I have not in the past wanted to use the word genocide, but now it is unavoidable.”

Disgusted, Von Sponeck resigned as UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator in Iraq. His predecessor, Denis Halliday, an equally distinguished senior UN official, had also resigned. “I was instructed,” Halliday said, “to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults.”

A study by the United Nations Children’s Fund, Unicef, found that between 1991 and 1998, the height of the blockade, there were 500,000 “excess” deaths of Iraqi infants under the age of five. An American TV reporter put this to Madeleine Albright, US Ambassador to the United Nations, asking her, “Is the price worth it?” Albright replied, “We think the price is worth it.”

In 2007, the senior British official responsible for the sanctions, Carne Ross, known as “Mr. Iraq”, told a parliamentary selection committee, “[The US and UK governments] effectively denied the entire population a means to live.”  When I interviewed Carne Ross three years later, he was consumed by regret and contrition. “I feel ashamed,” he said. He is today a rare truth-teller of how governments deceive and how a compliant media plays a critical role in disseminating and maintaining the deception. “We would feed [journalists] factoids of sanitised intelligence,” he said, “or we’d freeze them out.”

On 25 September, a headline in the Guardian read: “Faced with the horror of Isis we must act.”  The “we must act” is a ghost risen, a warning of the suppression of informed memory, facts, lessons learned and regrets or shame. The author of the article was Peter Hain, the former Foreign Office minister responsible for Iraq under Blair. In 1998, when Denis Halliday revealed the extent of the suffering in Iraq for which the Blair Government shared primary responsibility, Hain abused him on the BBC’s Newsnight as an “apologist for Saddam”. In 2003, Hain backed Blair’s invasion of stricken Iraq on the basis of transparent lies. At a subsequent Labour Party conference, he dismissed the invasion as a “fringe issue”.

Now Hain is demanding “air strikes, drones, military equipment and other support” for those “facing genocide” in Iraq and Syria. This will further “the imperative of a political solution”. Obama has the same in mind as he lifts what he calls the “restrictions” on US bombing and drone attacks. This means that missiles and 500-pound bombs can smash the homes of peasant people, as they are doing without restriction in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia — as they did in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. On 23 September, a Tomahawk cruise missile hit a village in Idlib Province in Syria, killing as many as a dozen civilians, including women and children. None waved a black flag.

The day Hain’s article appeared, Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck happened to be in London and came to visit me. They were not shocked by the lethal hypocrisy of a politician, but lamented the enduring, almost inexplicable absence of intelligent diplomacy in negotiating a semblance of truce. Across the world, from Northern Ireland to Nepal, those regarding each other as terrorists and heretics have faced each other across a table. Why not now in Iraq and Syria.

Like Ebola from West Africa, a bacteria called “perpetual war” has crossed the Atlantic. Lord Richards, until recently head of the British military, wants “boots on the ground” now. There is a vapid, almost sociopathic verboseness from Cameron, Obama and their “coalition of the willing” – notably Australia’s aggressively weird Tony Abbott — as they prescribe more violence delivered from 30,000 feet on places where the blood of previous adventures never dried. They have never seen bombing and they apparently love it so much they want it to overthrow their one potentially valuable ally,  Syria. This is nothing new, as the following leaked UK-US intelligence file illustrates:

“In order to facilitate the action of liberative [sic] forces … a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals [and] to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria. CIA is prepared, and SIS (MI6) will attempt to mount minor sabotage and coup de main [sic] incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals… a necessary degree of fear… frontier and [staged] border clashes [will] provide a pretext for intervention… the CIA and SIS should use… capabilities in both psychological and action fields to augment tension.”

That was written in 1957, though it could have been written yesterday. In the imperial world, nothing essentially changes. Last year, the former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed that “two years before the Arab spring”, he was told in London that a war on Syria was planned.  “I am going to tell you something,” he said in an interview with the French TV channel LPC, “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business. I met top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria … Britain was organising an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister for Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate … This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned.”

The only effective opponents of ISIS are accredited demons of the west – Syria, Iran, Hezbollah.  The obstacle is Turkey, an “ally” and a member of Nato, which has conspired with the CIA, MI6 and the Gulf medievalists to channel support to the Syrian “rebels”, including those now calling themselves ISIS. Supporting Turkey in its long-held ambition for regional dominance by overthrowing the Assad government beckons a major conventional war and the horrific dismemberment of the most ethnically diverse state in the Middle East.

A truce – however difficult to achieve – is the only way out of this imperial maze; otherwise, the beheadings will continue. That genuine negotiations with Syria should be seen as “morally questionable” (theGuardian) suggests that the assumptions of moral superiority among those who supported the war criminal Blair remain not only absurd, but dangerous.

Together with a truce, there should be an immediate cessation of all shipments of war materials to Israel and recognition of the State of Palestine. The issue of Palestine is the region’s most festering open wound, and the oft-stated justification for the rise of Islamic extremism. Osama bin Laden made that clear. Palestine also offers hope. Give justice to the Palestinians and you begin to change the world around them.

More than 40 years ago, the Nixon-Kissinger bombing of Cambodia unleashed a torrent of suffering from which that country has never recovered. The same is true of the Blair-Bush crime in Iraq. With impeccable timing, Henry Kissinger’s latest self-serving tome has just been released with its satirical title, “World Order”. In one fawning review, Kissinger is described as a “key shaper of a world order that remained stable for a quarter of a century”. Tell that to the people of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Chile, East Timor and all the other victims of his “statecraft”.  Only when “we” recognise the war criminals in our midst will the blood begin to dry.


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The Siege of Kobani

Will Turkey’s Abandonment of the City Signal an ‘Irrevocable Breach’ with the Kurds?

Kurds vented their fury at the Turkish government for standing by as Isis fighters looked poised to take the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani in view of the Turkish border and the watching Turkish army.

At least 12 people died and dozens of people were wounded in demonstrations across Turkey. Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who burnt cars and tyres as they took to the streets mainly in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish eastern and southeastern provinces, although clashes erupted in the nation’s biggest city, Istanbul, and the capital Ankara as well.

The likely fall of Kobani may mark an irrevocable breach between Turks and Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Many of the 30 million Kurds in the region believe that, if Kobani falls, it will be because Turkey refused to help its defenders as they faced repeated Isis assaults and cut them off from reinforcements and fresh supplies of weapons and ammunition. “We are besieged by Turkey, it is not something new,” said Ismet Sheikh Hassan, the Kurdish Defence Chief for the Kobani region.

The already faltering peace process between the Turkish government and its Kurdish minority could be a long-term casualty of Kobani, particularly if its capture is accompanied by ritual massacres of surviving defenders by Isis.

The capture of Kobani by Isis may be a turning point in the present crisis in Iraq and Syria because it marks the failure of the US plan to contain Isis using air power alone. President Obama promised less than a month ago “to degrade and destroy” the fundamentalists with air power, but Isis is still expanding and winning victories.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made very clear where he stood during a visit to a refugee camp at Gazantep, saying “Kobani is about to fall”. He explained that the Turkish price for rescuing Kobani and acting against Isis would have been three measures aimed, not at Isis, but at displacing President Bashar al-Assad. Mr Erdogan said: “We asked for three things: one, for a no-fly zone to be created; two for a secure zone parallel to the region to be declared; and for the moderate opposition in Syria and Iraq to be trained and equipped.” In effect, he was saying that given a choice between Isis and Assad, he would chose the former.

In a further sign of the Turkish government’s lack of sympathy for the Syrian Kurds, some 200 of whom fled from Kobani into Turkey this week and were detained and questioned about their links with the YPG, the Kurdish militia defending the town. Turkey is deeply suspicious of the YPG and its political counterpart the PYD because they are the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has fought for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984.

The refusal by the Turkish government to help the Syrian Kurds in their hour of need immediately provoked demonstrations by Kurds across Turkey. There have been protests, often violent, in the Kurdish south-east and wherever there are Kurdish minorities, such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Bursa. In Varto, a man was killed and in Istanbul a prominent human rights lawyer, Tamer Dogan, was shot in the head. His friends say he may have been targeted. Smoke was rising over many towns where demonstrators had lit fires in the streets and police used tear gas and water cannon.

Turks may react angrily to reports that a bust of Ataturk was burned by a crowd in Van province. The General Staff in Ankara put out a report that the Turkish flag had also been set alight. An office of the Kurdish political party, the HDP, was surrounded in one Istanbul district by a crowd shouting ‘Allahu Akhbar’.

One observer in Turkey writes: “These events could turn what began as a general humanitarian protest at the abandonment of the besieged in Kobani into a headlong collision between the Kurds and the Turks.”

The fall of Kobani will give Isis control of a large part of the 510-mile Syrian frontier with Turkey. This will be a further incentive for Turkey to establish a buffer or ‘safe’ zone on the Syrian side of the border, though this would shift Turkey towards becoming a military participant in the civil war. It plans to use a Turkish-controlled zone to train anti-government fighters and to house Syrian refugees.

The Turks were not alone in abandoning Kobani to the Islamic militants. The US was careful not have any direct liaison with Kurdish fighters on the ground though local intelligence should have made their air strikes more effective and might have stopped the Isis advance. Over the past 24 hours, these strikes have increased in number but may come too late as Isis militants fight street to street.

The US campaign against Isis is weakened not so much by lack ‘boots on the ground’, but by seeking to hold at arm’s-length those who are actually fighting Isis while embracing those such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey who are not. There is a similar situation in Iraq, where most of the fighting against Isis is by the Shia militias from which the US keeps its distance.

As Isis closes in on Kobani, the city’s defenders have been abandoned. They may have hoped for assistance from the Syrian government, with whom they have a truce, but there are no reports of Syrian aircraft in action at Kobani though bombing Isis there would have been keeping with Mr Assad’s claim to be defending Syrians from Isis.

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Ab-A$$ To UN: “End This Settlement Occupation”


Play that ICC card, President Abbas, at a time of your own choosing. Only the dumbest politicians keep committing their crimes with a set of indictments hanging over their collective heads.

by James M Wall

Mahmoud Abbas at UNGA 2014

Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas described the recent Israeli airstrikes against the Gaza Strip as “a war of genocide” in his 30-minute address to the United Nations on Friday.

On Friday, September 26, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas told the United Nations General Assembly, “The time has come to end this settlement occupation.”

The New York Times described Abbas as “visibly enraged” when he spoke to the General Assembly.

In her analysis of the address for Ha’aretzAmira Hass wrote that Abbas was obviously not directing his angry words to the Israeli public. His message, she notes, was directed primarily to the West. Abbas wanted the West to know:

“The negotiations with Israel, as they have been held until now, are over; forget about the Palestinians returning to them. Forget about the Palestinians continuing to meet and discuss while Israel continues to construct settlements and ignore even the simple commitments it agreed to, such as the release of prisoners.”

Furthermore, Abbas wants the West to understand:

“The Palestinians will not return to any negotiations that do not take as a starting point the final objective of a Palestinian state to stand alongside Israel, based on the ’67 borders, and a binding timetable for its establishment”.

Hass points to words in the speech that sounded more like a prosecutor addressing a jury determined to prove to that jury, the guilt of the accused.

In his address directed to the west, Abbas used such words as “colonialist occupation,” “racism,” “a war of genocide”, massacres, and a nation above the law.”

The last time an angry Palestinian leader addressed the UN was on November 13, 1974, when PLO leader Yasir Arafat came to the General Assembly podium carrying a gun in one hand and an olive branch in the other.

Donald Neff, one of the most astute western journalists who covered the early days of the Israeli occupation, described Arafat’s address to the UN General Assembly November 13, 1987 gathering:

“Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization made a dramatic appearance before the U.N. General Assembly and called on the world community to decide between an “olive branch or a freedom fighter’s gun.”

It was the first time a Palestinian leader had been invited to speak to the UN body. Neff described Arafat’s presence as a “watershed for the Palestinian community”. Neff’s report ran in the November/December 1994, edition of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. twenty years after Arafat’s speech and twenty years before Abbas’s “visibly angry” address. 

Neff’s report is an indication of how little has changed in the colonial scenario in which  the United States stands watch over, and finance, Israel’s illegal takeover of Palestinian lives and land.

Neff wrote in his 1994 story for the Washington Report:

“The United States and Israel had opposed Arafat’s [1974] appearance, as they had for years fought against recognition of Palestinians as a separate people. Washington and Tel Aviv insisted that the Palestinians be identified by their function or position such as refugees or terrorists rather than as a people.”

Arafat’s speech contained words, which had they been heeded in 1974, would have produced a far different outcome between Israel and the Palestinians than what followed for the next 40 years:

“The difference between the revolutionary and the terrorist lies in the reason for which each fights. Whoever stands by a just cause and fights for liberation from invaders and colonialists cannot be called terrorist. Those who wage war to occupy, colonize and oppress other people are the terrorists….

The Palestinian people had to resort to armed struggle when they lost faith in the international community, which ignored their rights, and when it became clear that not one inch of Palestine could be regained through exclusively political means.”

In the Abbas speech of 2014, the Palestinian leader has moved far beyond Arafat’s proffered choice between a gun and an olive branch, which were in 1974, metaphors that  the aging revolutionary used to warn the West of what the future would bring.

Abbas is currently the president of a Palestinian state with a government led by the united political factions of Hamas and Fatah. Those factions have much work ahead to form “a more perfect union”.

The most important thing they hold in their new wobbly unity is the ability to present Israel to the ICC, the International Criminal Court where Israel’s conduct as an occupying force can be tried on criminal charges in a world court.

Israel and the United States know that the ability of Abbas to join the ICC will change the dynamics between Israel and Palestine, allowing Palestine, for the first time, to stand on equal footing with Israel before a court seeking justice.

In spite of knowing this, the best Israel and the United States could do this time around, following Abbas’ message to the west at the UN was to cry that the speech was “offensive” (the U.S., of course, in its best State Department whimper) or to attack the speech as filled with “lies” (the standard Israeli response to any criticism).

It is important to note that in its coverage of the Abbas speech, the Times complained that the speech ” was short on details”. Specifically, the Times wrote:

[Abbas] did not offer his own deadline for an Israeli withdrawal, as some had expected, nor did he say anything about joining the International Criminal Court, which his aides have repeatedly said he is prepared to do. He only hinted that he would seek accountability for alleged war crimes against Palestinians during the latest war with Israel.

Exactly, why should he play those cards now? Thanks in part to Israel’s excessively wrought carnage in this summer’s Gaza invasion, and what that invasion showed Israel was capable of doing to a captive population, world sympathy has shifted.

Abbas now holds two important cards, joining the ICC and allowing other nations to bring charges against Israel for its “alleged” war crimes. Why play those cards now?

There will be time to hold them as a threat to Israel as the rest of the world slowly stirs itself and sees the reality of Israel’s occupation.

In her analysis of the Abbas speech, Amira Hass takes note of the fact that the man who spoke to the General Assembly Friday is a changed man from his days as a leader who tried to trust Israel and the United States.

Clearly, Abbas has changed, as Hass writes:

How great the distance between the Abbas who now extols the achievements of the BDS movement and its work against “Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies” and the Abbas who once expressed his opposition to boycotts directed against Israel (as opposed to those directed against settlement-made products), and several times referred to it as “a neighbor.”

A wide gulf divides the speaker who on Friday said Palestinians “will not forget or forgive and won’t let war criminals go unpunished” and the one who in 2010 blocked the passage of the Goldstone report – which investigated allegations of war crimes committed by Israel and the Palestinians during “Operation Cast Lead” – to the hands of the UN Security Council.

The next two years are crucial. President Obama may be the last American president in the next decade, in either party, with the experience and the moxie, to force a right wing government of Israel to recognize that the ICC is a legal body with the power to wound wrong-doers.

A legal body, that is, that is not subservient to the Israel Lobby. That Lobby, of course, will continue to throw road blocks in the path Palestine takes to the ICC.  For a detailed study of that process and the chances of a successful landing by Palestine vs. Israel in the ICC, see this Link essay by John B. Quigley.

The journey to the ICC is complicated, as are all things in the Middle East. But making the journey at a time of Palestine’s choosing should keep Israel from an early return to periodically “mowing the grass”, in Gaza, as Israelis have obscenely described their invasions.

Only the dumbest politicians keep committing their crimes with a set of indictments hanging over their collective heads.  Play that ICC card, President Abbas, at a time of your own choosing.

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George Monbiot, McCarthy of the Left?

The Vilification of Chomsky, Herman and Peterson

Questioning someone’s integrity is not something I do lightly, especially when I share much ideological common ground with them. But the unsavoury behaviour of George Monbiot, a leading columnist for the Guardian and one of Britain’s most prominent progressive intellectuals, is becoming ever harder to overlook – and forgive.

On a whole range of issues, such as corporate greed and threats to the planet posed by climate change, I agree wholeheartedly with Monbiot. It is also entirely possible for two people to disagree, even intensely, but still believe their opponent’s views are legitimate and advanced in good faith. That is how I regard, for example, Monbiot’s support for nuclear power as the least-bad option for dealing with mounting carbon emissions. It’s not a position I share, but he has set out his reasoning clearly and honestly.

But I can extend no such understanding to his campaign of vilification begun three years ago against several leading figures on the progressive left.

It started with an article in 2011 in which he attacked two scholars for publishing a book, the Politics of Genocide, in which they collected together their own and other experts’ research into two supposedly well-documented genocides, in Rwanda and the Balkans. After examining the evidence, they reached a controversial conclusion: that the nature of events in both genocides had been distorted to fit western political agendas.

They did not question that large numbers of people had been killed in either conflict. They and their contributors argued instead that the term “genocide” had been used as a way to draw a veil over the events, cementing an official narrative that could not be questioned or re-assessed. Instead, they suggested, the official narrative might be serving political ends rather than reflecting accurately who had been killed and why.

One of the two authors is Ed Herman, most famous for an influential book, Manufacturing Consent, jointly written with Noam Chomsky, which argues that the mainstream media are not the democratic and pluralistic institutions they claim to be but rather corporations advancing official narratives designed to serve elite – including, of course, their own – interests. Their thesis has only found more adherents over time, particularly as the internet has provided dissident writers, including Chomsky, with a rival platform from which to challenge the consensus policed by the corporate media.

So it is hardly surprising, given their starting point about the media’s role in manufacturing consent, that Herman and his collaborator David Peterson should be suspicious of two of the strongest consensual narratives of recent times: the Rwanda and Balkan genocides, which even had their own dedicated international tribunals established to very publicly try the official bad guys.

It may also not be stretching credulity to suspect that Monbiot, a leftwing intellectual who has thrown in his lot and reputation with the Guardian on the assumption that Herman and Chomsky are wrong about the corporate media, might not look too kindly on their thesis. If Manufacturing Consent is right, then Monbiot is not a guardian of our moral consciences, as he likes to think, but a guardian of the outer limits of a corporate-sanctioned consensus.

It is increasingly hard to shake such suspicions given his behaviour over the past three years. Monbiot’s 2011 column denounced Herman and Peterson as genocide deniers, probably the most serious accusation one can level against a fellow intellectual. One might have assumed that Monbiot would marshal enormous evidence before making such a serious allegation. Not a bit of it: in his column he made a brief and sweeping condemnation of their thesis and their right to question the official narrative.

A single ugly column by Monbiot might possibly have been excused as an unfortunate lapse. But he then revisited the theme a year later in what can only be characterised this time as an exercise in leftwing McCarthyism. Having no stronger argument than before, Monbiot on this occasion recruited four academics to his cause of denouncing Herman and Petersen as genocide deniers.

As someone who himself challenges orthodoxies – in my case Israeli ones – I know precisely how weak this kind of resort to an argument from authority is. Were I to so wish, I could easily seek to discredit the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in similar fashion for his argument – an entirely correct one – that Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homeland by Israel in 1948. All I would need is find a handful of respected historians and public intellectuals like Benny Morris, Anita Shapira and Ari Shavit to support my case. But what would this prove? Only that the job of many, if not most, “experts” in any field is to help construct and maintain official narratives. That is, after all, why they are official narratives!

But not satisfied with tarring the reputations of Herman and Peterson, this time Monbiot chose to drag in Chomsky too. On his website, he published a lengthy correspondence between the two in which he tried first to cajole, then demand that Chomsky join him in denouncing Herman as a genocide denier. Chomsky staunchly refused, repeatedly providing Monbiot with his reasoning.

Monbiot’s performance here was as ugly as watching McCarthy in his heyday grilling American intellectuals to expose their Communist sympathies. In full righteous mode, Monbiot ended by flaunting like some diva his “depression” at the left’s “idiocy”. He lamented how Chomsky, once his “hero”, had – by refusing to agree with him – proven himself a fellow traveller with genocide deniers.

What underlies this argument, unexamined by Monbiot – presumably because he lacks the self-awareness to understand it – is a serious divergence of views about power.

Monbiot’s clash with Herman, Peterson and Chomsky is not really over the facts of a genocide, but over who has a right to speak. Monbiot, embedded in the camp of the corporate media, has adopted its ethos as his own. Those who are respected – that is, those who stay within the limits of officially sanctioned thought – have the right to advance their claims. Those outside the magic circle – those not credited by the corporate guardians of legitimate thought – do not. Herman, Peterson and Chomsky’s work implicitly exposes the vacuous and circular logic of Monbiot’s assumptions.

That point becomes especially clear if one reads through Monbiot’s correspondence with Chomsky. Chomsky struggles to hide his exasperation at Monbiot’s inability to grasp the elementary arguments he is making, even though he is forced to make them repeatedly. Monbiot, on the other hand, thinks he has cornered Chomsky in some kind of intellectual hypocrisy. What he has revealed instead is how deeply embedded he is in the corporate mindset, one that reserves for itself the right to determine the limits of the thinkable.

Interestingly this month, however, Monbiot found his own assumptions exposed from an unlikely quarter: the BBC. The corporation – one of the most powerful enforcers of official narratives – made an unusually daring programme, Rwanda’s Untold Story, questioning the consensus on the Rwandan genocide, all be it 20 years after the events. The programme-makers’ conclusions echoed those of Herman and Peterson: that census figures and death toll estimates do not support the accepted narrative of a genocide in which the Tutsis were the main victims of the slaughter. The data, in fact, indicate the exact opposite: more Hutus were killed than Tutsis, possibly many times more.

This has ramifications beyond the historical. Paul Kagame, the leader of the Tutsi militia the RPF, and therefore now potentially in the frame as the chief perpetrator of a genocide against the Hutus, is today the much-respected leader of Rwanda, a man feted by western leaders.

On my blog I suggested last week, given that even the hyper-cautious BBC appears ready to concede that the Rwanda genocide needs a reassessment, it might be time for Monbiot to apologise for his ugly accusations against Herman, Peterson, Chomsky and others.

So far Monbiot has made no proper response, despite receiving similar demands for a retraction from a number of people on social media. It would be nice to think that his silence suggests he is engaged in soul-searching and formulating the necessary response. But unfortunately the omens are not good.

Monbiot has not yet spoken himself but he has not remained entirely silent either. In an indication that this may be more about his ego and self-appointed status as guardian of a left righteousness, he retweeted a flippant dismissal of his critics, including me, provided by a group called Mediocre Lens.

Sadly, that is very much of a piece with Monbiot’s behaviour on this issue. Mediocre Lens is the poor cousin of what Monbiot has rightly exposed elsewhere as the phenomenon of “fake persuaders”, usually corporate lobbyists hiding behind front organisations that pose as “concerned ordinary citizens”. The point of the fake persuaders is to create the impression of popular support for corporate policies that harm our interests, such as destroying forests and polluting rivers. In short, the fake persuaders are there to uphold official narratives that serve business interests.

Mediocre Lens does something similar, if rather more feebly. In its case it claims to be a group of ordinary journalists with a “left perspective” who promote the idea that the mainstream media is there to serve our interests. More precisely, its sole rationale is to discredit Media Lens, an increasingly popular website whose editors – wait for it – advance the thesis of Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent.

Monbiot’s promotion of a tweet from Mediocre Lens should make about as much sense – if he were the independent thinker he claims to be – as Naomi Klein retweeting approvingly an attack on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change by a climate change denial group.

But it makes rather more sense if we understand that Monbiot is no longer what he claims to be or seems. Years of being embedded in the corporate media have eroded his ability to remain truly independent or to appreciate those like Herman, Peterson and Chomsky who demand the right to retain that privilege for themselves.

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Is dissolving the Palestinian Authority an essential next step?


Is dissolving the Palestinian Authority an essential next step?

by Alan Hart

The Obama administration or those who write its scripts must think that all of us who support the Palestinian claim for justice are stupid. It described Palestinian Authority President Abbas’s statement (during his speech to the UN General Assembly) that Israel’s last war on the Gaza Strip was a “genocidal crime” as “offensive and provocative” and one that “undermined peace efforts.”  Peace efforts? There are no peace efforts to be undermined!

And that causes me to return to the theme of my last post which was headlined Obama takes hypocrisy to new high levels.

The longer version of my headline question for this post is the following.

Is dissolving the impotent and corrupt PA and handing back to Israel full and complete responsibility and accountability for occupation an essential next step if the Palestinians are not to be denied for ever an acceptable measure of justice?

In my analysis the answer ought to be obvious to all who are fully aware of the dynamics of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel, dynamics which can be summarized in three short sentences as follows.

  • * Justice for the Palestinians is not on Zionism’s agenda.
  • * By default the regimes of the existing corrupt and authoritarian Arab Order are complicit in Zionism’s ethnic cleansing enterprise.
  • * As things are there is no prospect of the major powers led by America using the leverage they have to try to cause Israel to be serious about peace on terms the Palestinians could accept.

So unless the dynamics can be changed, the Zionist (not Jewish) monster state will remain above the law and free to go on imposing its will on the Palestinians and gobbling up more and more of what is left of  their land.

That being so the only end game scenario  I can see  as things are (assuming as I do that the occupied and oppressed Palestinians will never surrender to Zionism’s will by abandoning their struggle and accepting crumbs from its table) is a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

That being so, or most likely, the priority question for discussion and debate by activist groups everywhere which campaign for justice for the Palestinians ought to be this. What can be done to change the dynamics of the conflict?

There are some who believe that an escalating campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) will do it.

My view is that BDS will not cause Israel to be serious about peace on terms the Palestinians could acceptunless it becomes the policy of the governments of the major powers including and especially America.

And there’s no chance of that happening unless the dynamics of the conflict are changed.

In my analysis there is only one effective way to change them – dissolving the PA and handing full and complete responsibility and accountability for occupation back to Israel That, as noted in my last post, would not only impose significant financial, security and other burdens on Israel, it would enable global discussion and debate about the conflict to be focused without distraction on the occupation and the need for it (now in its 47th year) to be ended.

Putting the occupation and all that goes with it under greater and concentrated scrutiny ought to make calling Israel to account for its defiance of international law something less than the mission impossible it currently is.

Question:  How could the political and economic vacuums left by the dissolution of the PA be filled?

There doesn’t have to be a political vacuum. The executive committee of the PLO, preferably with new elections to it, would again be the institutional representative of the  occupied and oppressed Palestinians. If diaspora Palestinians then put their act together (as Jewish supporters of Israel right or wrong have always done) the Palestine National Council (PNC) could  be brought back to life, refreshed and re-invigorated by new elections.  A Palestinian parliament-in-exile that could speak to power with one voice on behalf of Palestinians everywhere would be far more effective than the PA.

The main argument against dissolving the PA is that the loss of American and European funding for it would have serious even catastrophic consequences for the occupied and oppressed Palestinians, not only the 100,000 or so who are employed by the PA.

But would this have to be the case?

I say “No” because the regimes of the most wealthy Arab states could easily provide the replacement funding needed. The incentive for them to do so can be simply stated. If they refused a PLO request for funding to keep the Palestinian cause alive with some hope of obtaining an acceptable amount of justice, they would be exposed like never before, fully naked, as traitors to the cause and, by default, complicit in Zionism’s enterprise. My speculation is that the regimes of the most wealthy Arab states would not want to be seen as such by their own and other Arab masses.

It was Saudi Arabia’s King Feisal, in my view the first and the last great Arab leader of modern times, who fought and won a political battle with Henry Kissinger to get Arafat to the UN to make his gun and olive branch speech and secure recognition for the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. In a sense King Feisal was the PLO’s political godfather.

As I write I find myself wondering if Qatar’s new, young ruler, Emir Tamim Hamad al-Thani, could emerge as his region’s Feisal-like wise man and become the PLO’s financial godfather.  Hamas’s political leadership is allowed to live and be headquartered in Qatar and that, perhaps, is an indication that it’s pragmatic ruling family is guarding against being on the wrong side of history. Qatar alone could make the necessary investment to keep the Palestinian cause financially alive in the event of the dissolution of the PA.

So it seems to me that an economic disaster for the occupied and oppressed Palestinians would not be inevitable if the PA was dissolved and American and European funding was not then available to the replacement Palestinian leadership.

It is, of course, only the Palestinians themselves who can cause the dynamics of the conflict to be changed by insisting on the dissolution of the PA and handing back to Israel full and complete responsibility and accountability for occupation.

My hope is that  activist groups of all faiths and none everywhere which campaign for justice for the Palestinians will urge them to do so.


Events in Iraq and Syria are dominating the news and I find myself wondering how different things might have been today if at a very early stage of the Syrian uprising Obama had had the wisdom to say to Putin something like, “What’s your price for requiring Assad to stand down and make way for open and honest elections?”

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Is dissolving the Palestinian Authority an essential next step?

Nazi Archaeological dig damages property in Hebron

The Khatib house is already very close to the excavations which are just behind the wall/Photo: Save Tel Rumeida Facebook
Nazi Antiquities Authority is digging so that Palestinian-owned property will be destroyed or seriously damaged in its “rescue digs” in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

Nazi Antiquities Authority (IAA) approached the Khatib family, who live in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida area, and asked permission to destroy their retaining wall and dig 3 metres onto their property. The Save Tel Rumeida Project reports that the family refused. The wall is under threat, however, as all the earth is being removed from behind it so that it will probably fall down in the coming days.

While financed by Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sport, this dig was undertaken at the initiative of Nazi settlers in Hebron. The dig, the fourth in Tel Rumeida, is carried out by the IAA and the University of Ariel, located in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

While David Wilder, spokesperson for Hebron’s Nazi settlers, claims all decisions related to the excavations are made by the IAA, the settlers already plan to establish an archaeological park on the site upon conclusion of the dig.

The Civil Administration told the Zionist newspaper Haaretz in January that “The Antiquities Authority has been carrying out rescue excavations in Tel Hebron, following the Hebron Nazi settlers’ initiative to develop an archaeological park open to the public. The administration is endeavoring as a matter of routine to protect, develop and carry out rescue digs regardless of the future of these sites and the arrangement to be carried out in the future”.

While Nazi presents these as “rescue digs”, already in the late 1990s the IAA was involved in an excavation of Tel Rumeida, on top of which permanent housing for the Ramat Yishai outpost was constructed from 2001.Nazi archaeologists’ group Emek Shave reports that many of the remains discovered in this previous excavation are now located under settlers’ houses and are features of a guided tour led by the Nazi settlers.

Palestinians note that the current excavation in Tel Rumedia will likely be used in the future to connect between the Jewish illegal settlement outposts in Hebron’s Old City.

The use of ancient sites to attract visitors and strengthen the legitimacy of settlements is known from other areas, including the City of David in East Jerusalem and Sussiya in the South Hebron Hills. Emek Shave estimates that in the case of Hebron, the combined archaeological site and view of the ancient city of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs will have just such an effect, with an especially powerful emotional component.

Speaking with the AIC, Hisham Sharabati of the Hebron Defense Committee stated that Hebronites “will continue to protest against this project, and all rights violations perpetuated by settlers in the city”.

This resistance is conducted in tandem with a petition against the dig, submitted to Nazi High Court. A verdict has yet to be issued in the case, and the court has not ordered the dig to be delayed until a decision is rendered.

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Jewish Nazi Settlers damage over 100 olive trees

Ahmad Jaradat

Olive trees are a mainstay of Palestinian economy and culture, and are thus targeted by settlers/Photo: AIC archive

Jewish Nazi settlers damaged over 100 Palestinian-owned olive trees in the northern West Bank district of Nablus 

The olive trees, owned by the Al Etyani family from the Nablus-area village of Yasuf, were damaged by Jewish Nazi settlers from the nearby Tapuah settlement.

Jewish Nazi Settlers further damaged 20 olive trees belonging to Mahmoud Abu Halema from the village of Borin, and an additional 15 Palestinian-owned olive trees in the village of Awarta, all located in the Nablus area.

Some 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted in the occupied West Bank since 1967, according to a joint report by the Palestinian Authority and the Applied Research Institute -Jerusalem.

Since 2002, the second year of the al Aqsa intifada, Palestinian farmers have explicitly requested international activists to join them during the yearly olive harvest, which began this week. The solidarity presence of activists serves to deter Jewish Nazi settler and military violence toward the farmers, and further supplies working hands during the busy month of harvest.


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Why Evo Morales Will Likely Win Upcoming Elections in Bolivia

The Shortcomings of the Proceso de Cambio

Buses charged through downtown La Paz, Bolivia, honking horns and belching exhaust, as street vendors hawked ice cream and cell phones. I walked past corner stores selling mining equipment, and climbed the steps to the central offices of the Bartolina Sisa indigenous and women farmers’ organization, a close ally of President Evo Morales, who is expected to be re-elected to a third term on October 12th.

“Our challenge as an organization is to continue moving forward, continue protecting this process of change which has cost so many men, women, young people and even children so much,” Anselma Perlacios Peralta, the organization’s current Secretary of the Defense of the Coca Leaf, told me last April. We were sitting on sofas beneath framed portraits of Evo Morales and Latin American independence leader Simón Bolívar.

The process of change, or proceso de cambio, is the phrase typically used to describe the far-reaching political project of Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism (MAS), a party which grew out of social movements; Morales, the country’s first indigenous president, is himself a former union leader and coca farmer. The costs, for Perlacios, are a reference to the many struggles against neoliberal policies and imperialism that led to the MAS election for the first time, in 2005. “We have been a fundamental part of this process, and as an organization we have to continue pushing, we have to continue advancing,” she explained.


Along with the Bartolina Sisa organization, the MAS enjoys crucial support from the Bolivian Workers’ Center, the Confederation of Rural Workers of Bolivia, and other major sectors of civil society and workers organizations. Perlacios’ comment underlines the commitment among MAS allies to bolster the momentum and support of the government in its projects, protecting and advancing Morales’ vision from the streets, union meetings, strikes and road blockades.

Morales is almost certainly going to win the election – he is currently polling with 59% support, 47 points ahead of his closest opponent, Doria Medina, a right wing politician who is one among many of the fractured opposition candidates running against Morales. The president’s likely victory at the polls, along with many other MAS politicians running for office on October 12th, is in part a result of popular economic and social policies which have lifted people out of poverty and empowered marginalized sectors of society.

But the votes for the MAS don’t articulate the serious divisions among various leftist social movements regarding the government, the negative environmental impacts of the MAS’s extractivist industries, or what kind of grassroots autonomy has been lost through the MAS’s channeling of people’s power. From the streets to the government palace, the looming elections have put the successes and shortcomings of the proceso de cambio into focus.

Why Morales Will Likely Win

It’s easy to see why Morales will likely be re-elected; many Bolivians have benefited from his time in office. Thanks to government efforts, a recent report from the UN noted that Bolivia has the highest rate of poverty reduction in Latin America, with a 32.2% drop from 2000 to 2012. The GDP has grown steadily from 2009-2013, and employment rates and wages have also gone up, with a notable 20% minimum wage raise last year.

The Morales administration’s nationalization of various sectors in the hydrocarbon and telecommunications industry, among others, have led to an enormous rise in government funds, allowing for expanded state-initiatives in infrastructure and social programs supporting elderly people living in poverty as well as school children and pregnant mothers. Thanks in part to a literacy program introduced by Cuba called “Yes I Can,” Bolivia has becomefree of illiteracy, according to UNESCO.

The MAS coca policy, now underway with the notable absence of US agencies, has also been a success, with the U.N.’s Office on Drugs and Crime reporting that Bolivia is doing a fantastic job controlling coca production (the leaf is used legally for medicinal and cultural purposes in the country) and curtailing the manufacturing of cocaine, all without the violent militarization of coca-producing regions that historically was the norm.

Major development projects have been initiated during Morales’ time in office, including most recently the country’s first wind farm, the launching of its first telecommunications satellite and continued improvement of Bolivia’s road infrastructure – only ten percent of the country’s roads are paved.

Such policies have led to economic stability and a balanced budget; the MAS government has saved an enormous reserve of money in its state coffers, a huge break from the recent past when previous governments were typically crippled by debt. “We are showing the entire world that you can have socialist policies with macroeconomic equilibrium,” Economy and Finance Minister Luis Arce told the New York Times in February. “Everything we are going to do is directed at benefiting the poor.”

Dark Sides of Development

However, there are dark sides to this progress. Morales is internationally known as a defender of Mother Earth, but in Bolivia, his government has continued to amplify the extractivist focus of the country’s economy in areas of oil, gas and mining industries, albeit with a stronger role for the state rather than foreign corporations. “It is one thing to plunder the natural resources of a country for the benefit of another one. It is another thing to use those natural resources for the benefit of the people,” Morales explained to an interviewer in 2010.

While MAS politicians applaud this extractivist approach as a popular route to overcoming poverty and the structural burdens left by decades of neoliberalism, the environment and various indigenous and rural communities are paying a price. Nationalized sectors of extractivist industries are producing funds for the government’s popular programs, yet mining is poisoning rivers across the country. The Morales government is moving forward with plans to industrialize and export the country’s sought-after lithium deposits, yet a recent investigation by Bolivia’s Center for Labor and Agricultural Development Studies reported that the current lithium extraction plan will produce 1.5 million tons of toxic waste per year, resulting in “mountain ranges” of waste.

A new Mining Law passed by the MAS-controlled congress in late March of this year criminalizes protest against mining operations, and gives the mining industry the right to use public water for its water-intensive and toxic operations, while disregarding the rights of rural and farming communities to that same water. And in recent years, MAS plans to build a highway through the TIPNIS indigenous territory and national park have sparked controversy, particularly when government violence against pro-TIPNIS activists in 2011 left 70 wounded.

Social and indigenous movement critics of this extractivist approach have faced repression and a divide-and-conquer strategy on the part of the MAS government. As Julieta Ojeda of the Bolivian feminist group Mujeres Creando told me in 2012, “[Evo’s MAS] has penetrated certain organizations and divided them. They enter these social movement spaces and create divisions by forming their own parallel organizations.” As a result, some of the most vocal critics of extractivism and controversial development projects on the grassroots left have been marginalized and silenced.

A MAS victory at the polls doesn’t speak of many such contested terrains of politics in the country which will continue to shape government policy and public consciousness long after the election. For example, a movement for women’s rights arose during this election season in the face of sexist comments from leading candidates and an ongoing wave of violence against women in the country. And some members of Bolivia’s largest campesinoorganization have threatened to cast votes against the MAS in protest of the party’s imposition of candidates without sufficient input from the grassroots.

Major social movements, such as the Bartolina Sisa Confederation and the Confederation of Rural Workers of Bolivia, generally celebrate their relationship with the MAS and its expected victory on October 12th. Yet various protagonists in the country’s historic protest movements of the 2000s against neoliberalism, water privatization and government repression feel as though the transformative vision, autonomy, solidarity of those earlier street mobilizations has been swept up into the MAS machine and subordinated to its party’s hegemony, one movement leader at a time.

“The MAS isn’t co-opting the social movements, but rather the movement’s leaders. They’re demobilizing the people,” renowned Bolivian sociologist Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui told me in La Paz. “When they have the people wait on directives of the state, they essentially put them into the service of the state.”

Overall, it is the success of Morales’ party in bringing about positive change, as well as its ability to co-opt certain social movements and further controversial but lucrative extractivist industries, that will lead to electoral victory. This victory at the polls is likely in spite of these contradictions and tensions, but also because of them.

Posted in South AmericaComments Off on Why Evo Morales Will Likely Win Upcoming Elections in Bolivia

Saudi Arabia: Zio-Wahhabi Hires Zio-Nazi Security Firm to Overlook Hajj, Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca


Saudi Hires Occupation-Friendly Company for Hajj Security

By: Orouba Othman

This year [2013], the mandatory Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, or hajj, will compound the Palestinians’ woes. Palestinian pilgrims will be greeted by a company that assists in their repression – and even torture – under the Nazi occupation regime. Indeed, hajj this year will be brought to you by none other than Zionist G4S.

[“First, the company has provided security equipment and services to incarceration facilities holding Palestinian political prisoners inside the Nazi state of I$raHell and in the illegal occupied West Bank. Second, the company offers security services to businesses in illegal settlements. Third, the company has provided equipment and maintenance services to Nazi military checkpoints in the West Bank. Finally, the company has also provided security systems for the Nazi police headquarters in the West Bank.” 

This is not the first time that the Zio-Wahhabi regime  has hired the private security firm, which has recruited a staggering 700,000 to provide hajj-related services this year, according to exclusive information obtained by Al-Akhbar. Most of the leaked reports indicate that security for the hajj season since 2010 has been entrusted to al-Majal G4S, an affiliate of the parent company G4S.

The CEO of al-Majal G4S is a former security official in Saudi named Khaled Baghdadi. The Saudi subsidiary is fully owned by the British-Danish firm.

The parent company has not disclosed the nature of the contracts it has signed with the Zio-Wahhabi regime. In its periodic reports, G4S makes limited references to its Saudi operations, such as winning a contract with Jeddah Metro to assist with security during the hajj, or stating that the company assists in the transport of more than 3 million pilgrims who visit Mecca each year. In 2011, the website Asrar Ararabiya – Arab Secrets – published an ad by the company asking people to apply to work in Mecca for seven days only, during hajj.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign has not been sitting idly by. In a press conference on Wednesday, October 2, the campaign sent a clear message to the Saudi government, urging it to terminate the contract with the company that happens to provide equipment and security services to protect Nazi illegal settlements, occupation checkpoints, and police facilities. The private security contractor has also been implicated in enabling the torture of administrative detainees in Palestine, including children, according to BDS activist Zaid Shuaibi.

BDS activists were not the only ones to react to the news. Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the head of the Supreme Islamic Council in Jerusalem and the imam of al-Aqsa Mosque, has proclaimed, “This company operates in security, and has activities and commitments in areas under Zio-Nazi occupation. Those who help the occupation must be held accountable and are complicit in the crime, as those who help aggressors also are aggressors.”

A Palestinian Muslim pilgrim prays at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt as he waits to cross the frontier to continue his journey to the Muslim holy city of Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage on 2 October 2013. (Photo: AFP – Said Khatib)

Shuaibi, speaking to Al-Akhbar, said that the BDS campaign contacted the Palestinian Ministry of Economy, being the competent authority in the issue of boycotting Nazi illegal settlements, such as the ones serviced by G4S. But according to Shuaibi, “The ministry did not bother to respond or take action to stop the abuse, even as the company violates Palestinian law by continuing to provide services to the settlements.”

G4S in Nazi Prisons and Interrogation Centers

G4S’ subsidiary in Nazi (Hashmira) was awarded a contract with the Nazi Prison Service in July 2007 to supply equipment and security services that enable violations of Articles 49 and 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The company provides security systems and centralized control systems to the Hasharon-Ramonim prison, which contains a section for Palestinian political prisoners.

G4S has installed a central command room in Megiddo Prison, in addition to supplying a wide array of security services to the Damon and Ketziot prisons. In Ofer, the prison where more than 1,500 Palestinians are detained – mostly administrative prisoners – G4S has also installed a central command room and provided protection through peripheral defense systems on the walls surrounding the prison. The company routinely supplies systems for command and control, IT, CCTV, and communications to Israeli prisons.

In the Jalma and Maskoubieh interrogation centers, which are also serviced by G4S, not even children are spared from torture. It is in one of those centers that Palestinian detainee Arafat Jaradat was tortured to death earlier this year. There, too, Luay al-Ashqar, a Palestinian administrative detainee, became permanently paralyzed in his left leg when he suffered a triple fracture in his spine during his detention.

The scope of G4S’ operations and profits in the Arab world is nearly six times the size of its operations and profits in the Jewish state. In truth, its market share in Saudi alone is about 10 times its share in I$raHell.

Under Israeli military law, prisoners can be detained for investigation for 60 days without access to a lawyer, which means that lawyers cannot witness interrogation methods used against their clients. All these practices and more are facilitated by G4S.

Checkpoints, Settlements, and Police Stations

According to a report by Who Profits, “G4S Nazi supplied luggage scanning equipment and full body scanners to several checkpoints in the West Bank, including the Qalandia checkpoint, the Bethlehem checkpoint…[and] the Erez checkpoint in Gaza.” The company also provides security equipment to Israeli police facilities in the E1 zone of the West Bank, near the settlement of Maaleh Adumim.

Meanwhile, G4S-serviced checkpoints make life extremely difficult for more than 23,000 Palestinians who work in Jerusalem and the territories of 1948 (Israel proper), who have to wait and are often delayed as they undergo humiliating inspection each morning. G4S also operates in the Nazi illegal settlements, catering to businesses and private citizens.

Europe Reacts

BDS campaigns have been able to achieve some success in Europe while Saudi Arabia continues to ignore appeals to terminate contracts with G4S. The company lost several contracts in Europe, including with Oslo University back in July after pressure by student groups.

In the United Kingdom, the East London Teachers Association put pressure on local authorities to terminate contracts with G4S, which provides services to more than 25 schools in the British capital. Campaigns to boycott G4S have spread to Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, and the rest of Europe. In April this year, G4S failed to renew a 2008 contract to provide security services for parliament buildings in Europe.

G4S in the Arab World

The scope of G4S’ operations and profits in the Arab world is nearly six times the size of its operations and profits in the Nazi state. In truth, its market share in Saudi alone is about 10 times its share in I$raHell.

The company is active in 16 Arab countries, with a turnover of 501 million British pounds ($805 million) last year, or 6 percent of its total revenues. It employs nearly 44,000, who work in operations ranging from providing security for airports in Baghdad and Dubai, Arab embassies, various Arab sports events, as well as protection for private businesses.

In comparison, G4S earns about 100 million pounds ($160 million) from its Nazi operations, or 1 percent of its total yearly revenues.

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