Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Dominoes theory is very real, and Clinton has no clue on Afghanistan or anything else

'Brother' Gaddafi, you're going down..., The Dominoes theory is very real, and Clinton has no clue on Afghanistan or anything else....except a few more Millions....
By Pepe Escobar

You know the fat lady is about to sing when a dictator unleashes hell from above over his own unarmed, civilian compatriots, and bombs parts of his capital city. That's a bridge too far even by the unspeakable standards of Western-backed dictators in the Arab world.


You know the (ghastly) show may be over when Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, one of the most popular Sunni authorities in the world, not least because of his weekly show on al-Jazeera, issues a fatwa - "I am issuing a fatwa now to kill [Muammar] Gaddafi. To any soldier, to any man who can pull the trigger and kill this man to do so" - and then prays live, on al-Jazeera, for the end of the

Libyan dictator ("O Lord save the Libyans from this pharaoh." When he finishes, the al-Jazeera anchor says "Amen").

You know the bells are ringing when your "Abu Omar Brigade", responsible for your protection, is still on a rampage; but your ambassadors around the world defect en masse; your own deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Omar al-Dabashi, says your government is carrying out genocide; your fighter pilots refuse to bomb your cities; your military officers, in a statement, ask all members of the army to head to Tripoli and depose you; a coalition of Islamic leaders tells all Muslims it is their duty to rebel against you because of your "bloody crimes against humanity"; and to top it off, people are calling for a "million man march" following the Egyptian model.

And what about the Maltese Falcons? In a day of volcanic activity, it's hard to beat the spectacular defection of two colonels of the Libyan Air Force, who flew their Mirages to Malta. They had refused to bomb protesters in Benghazi, telling Maltese authorities they had come so close to carrying out their mission that they could see the crowds on the ground. They also passed "classified" information about what the Libyan military has been up to.

And all this in just one day - Monday.

It was not enough to deploy "black African" mercenaries in a shoot-to-kill rampage in Benghazi. Already on Sunday, Sheikh Faraj al-Zuway, leader of the crucial al-Zuwayya tribe in eastern Libya, had threatened to cut oil exports to the West within 24 hours unless what he called the "oppression of protesters" in Benghazi was stopped.

Akram Al-Warfalli, a leader of the al-Warfalla tribe, one of Libya's biggest, in the south of Tripoli, had told al-Jazeera Gaddafi is "no longer a brother, we tell you to leave the country". The 500,000-strong Berber, Tuaregs from the southern desert, are also against him. When you have four of your key tribes - the spine of your system - marching on Tripoli to get rid of you, you better watch out.

History may eventually register how Gaddafi's appalling 41-year rule in Libya (he was already in power when "Tricky Dicky" Richard Nixon was the United States president) virtually collapsed in only 24 hours. There will be blood - a lot of blood; but "brother" is about to go down.

'Rivers of blood will run through Libya'
The beginning of the end was classic Arab dictator stuff; Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, looking like an upscale bouncer in suit and tie, went on Libyan state TV on Sunday night instead of his father to deliver a threatening/repellent/pathetic speech that only infuriated the Libyan masses even more, after six days of protests in the historic Cyrenaica region.

After threatening to "eradicate the pockets of sedition" (echoes of Iran's leadership eradicating protests last week) Gaddafi's "modernizing" son said Libyans risked igniting a civil war in which Libya's oil wealth "will be burned".

In 2009, Said received a PhD from the London School of Economics (LSE) with a thesis titled "The Role of Civil Society in the Democratization of Global Governance Institutions: From 'Soft Power' to Collective Decision-Making". Last year he delivered a lecture about it at the LSE (listen to it

Isn't wonderful that the ghastliest dictators in the world may send their offspring to the best schools in the world where they can appease the West's false consciousness while back at home they openly threaten their own people and go for sniper fire, automatic weapons and heavy artillery against their unarmed compatriots?

It's doubtful the LSE taught Saif how to ignite a flash civil war with just a rant. But that's what he accomplished.

Libyan writer Faouzi Abdelhamid - comparing the name Saif al-Islam ("sword of Islam") with Saif al-I'dam ("sword of execution") came out all guns blazing, calling the whole Gaddafi clan criminals and thieves; "You don't even have the right of living among us as ordinary citizens, because you're guilty of high treason".

By the time Saif was delivering his threats, the eastern city of Benghazi had already fallen to the protesters. Tripoli was next, on Monday. With the regime blocking all phone lines, all day Monday occasional, frantic tweets relayed all sorts of terrifying rumors and facts - inevitably clouded by the ominous sound of live ammunition. Helicopters raining bullets down on people in the streets below. Fighter jets launching strikes. Snipers firing from building tops.

Schools, government offices and most stores in Tripoli were closed, with armed "Revolutionary Committees", ie regime thugs, patrolling the streets hunting for protesters in Tripoli's old city. According to Salem Gnan, a London-based spokesman for the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, 80 people may have died when protesters surrounded Gaddafi's residence and were shot at from inside the compound.

As the People's Hall - where the parliament meets when it is in session in Tripoli - was set on fire and all cities south of Tripoli were progressively being "liberated", al-Jazeera managed to trace the source of jamming of its Arabsat satellite frequency to a Libyan intelligence building south of the capital.

Ahmed Elgazir, a human-rights researcher with the Libyan News Center (LNC) in Geneva, later told al-Jazeera he got a call for help from a woman witnessing a massacre in progress on a satellite phone. Eyewitnesses reported to Agence France-Presse another "massacre" in the Fashloum and Tajoura districts of Tripoli. By late Monday night, the (unconfirmed) death toll in Tripoli alone had reached at least 250.

Among Libyans, virtually all information all around the country was and remains word of mouth. But tweets that reached al-Jazeera or the BBC also emphasized a profound disgust with the deafening silence of the "international community" ("Are we only worth mentioning when it has to do with oil and terrorism?")

Round up the oily condemnations
Said "international community" indeed started noticing when the Libyan Quryna newspaper reported protests had broken out in the northern city of Ras Lanuf, whose oil refinery processes 220,000 barrels a day.

Yes, apart from Gaddafi's antics, Libya registers in the West because it exports 1.7 million barrels of oil a day. Its gross domestic product is US$77 billion - number 62 in world rankings; that theoretically implies a per capita income of over $12,000 a year, more, for instance, than BRIC member Brazil. But profound inequality is the norm; roughly 35% of Libyans live below the poverty line, and unemployment is running at an unbearable 30%. The oil wealth stays in Tripolitania. Eastern Libya - Cyrenaica - where the anti-Gaddafi revolution started, is dirt poor.

In the high-stakes front, the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) - also owner of a London-based hedge fund - has invested more than $70 billion around the world. It's a major shareholder, for instance, in the Financial Times, Fiat and one of Italy's top soccer clubs, Juventus. LIA invests - and plans to invest - billions in Britain.

Cue to the European Union (EU) foreign ministers issuing the usual, bland, bureaucratic condemnation. At least Italian Prime Minister, "bunga bunga" idol and close Gaddafi pal Silvio Berlusconi, who had said earlier he didn't want to "disturb" his friend, had to qualify the massacre of civilians as "unacceptable" and profess he was "alarmed". To see Berlusconi literally kissing Gaddafi's hands, go
here No less than 32% of Libya's oil exports go to Italy.

Then there's another classic - Washington's deafening silence. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued the standard bland condemnation. Libyan-American scientist and activist Naeem Gheriany told the Institute for Public Accuracy the Barack Obama administration "says it's 'concerned' about the situation - there's no real condemnation in spite of the dire situation. People are being massacred in the hundreds, Gaddafi is reportedly using anti-aircraft guns to shoot people. In a few days, more people in Libya have apparently been killed than in weeks in Iran, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen and even Egypt (which has a much larger population) ... Even the oil cannot justify this silence."

Not to mention that Washington and Gaddafi have been the best "war on terror" pals. Captured al-Qaeda operative Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi - the object of a Central Intelligence Agency "rendition" to former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Omar "Sheikh al-Torture" Suleiman, who duly tortured him into confessing to a non-existent Saddam-al-Qaeda weapons of mass destruction connection that then-secretary of state Colin Powell used as "intelligence" at his United Nations speech in February 2003 - was later tracked in Libya by Human Rights Watch just to end up his life as an alleged "suicide".

Milan villa or The Hague?
Libyan opposition writer Ashour Shamis has remarked, "For Gaddafi it's kill or be killed". The family told Saudi paper al-Sharq al-Awsat, "We will all die on Libyan soil." That means Gaddafi and a row of hated offspring.

Son Khamis - the commander of an elite special forces unit, trained in Russia - is the mastermind of the repression in Benghazi. Son Saadi is, or was there too, alongside the head of military intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi.

Son Muatassim is Gaddafi's national security adviser and, until now, possible successor. In 2009, he tried to set up his own special forces unit to erode Khamis's power.

Son Saif, the "modernizer" with an LSE diploma, cuts no mustard with the regime's old guard and the dreaded "Revolutionary Committees".

Son Saadi is basically a thug fond of raising hell across nightclubs in Europe. Same applies to son Hannibal.

It all looks and sounds like a cheap blood-splattered gangster movie. What to make of Gaddafi's bizarre 20-second appearance on state TV early this Tuesday ("I'm in Tripoli, not in Venezuela"), clutching an umbrella, sitting inside a cream-colored microvan and sporting a winter hat with ear flaps, with no clue of what is going on? (After all he was supporting his pals, Tunisia's Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and to Mubarak, until the very end). He defined TV channels - such as al-Jazeera - as "dogs" (in the 1980s he had already used hit squads to murder exiled "stray dogs" who challenged his revolution).

Still, Gaddafi should not be underestimated. He controls all the hardware - defense, security, foreign affairs. Plus all those "black African" mercenaries/exterminators paid in gold. Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh said Yemen was not Egypt or Tunisia. Gaddafi said Libya was not Egypt or Tunisia. Mubarak said Egypt was not Tunisia.

They were all wrong; the entire Arab world now is Tunisia. The Libyan masses hate "their" leader. Even fellow Arab dictators - with the exception of the House of Saud - hate him. He has few expat options. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez would be crazy to offer him asylum and forever destroy his "champion of the poor" credibility.

Well, there's always Berlusconi. Nice villa near Milan, great pasta, and he can pitch his Bedouin tent in the luxurious gardens. And if Berlusconi is sent to jail in his "Rubygate"-related trial in April, Gaddafi may even move up to the main residence. But, after you bombed your own citizens from the air, and hired mercenaries to shoot them, there is only one choice destination: the International Criminal Court in The Hague....

Lessons from a whirlwind
By Donald K Emmerson

At this phase in a still unfolding process, all one can safely say of the overthrows in Tunis and Cairo and their spreading repercussions is that they have thrown into question the future of autocracy from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf. There are things one can unsafely say, however. Events to date evoke three broad, and broadly revisionist, conclusions:

1. The domino theory is not always wrong
In 1975, when the Indochinese dominos fell to communism, they did not bring down the chain of adjacent Southeast Asian states from Thailand through Malaysia to the Philippines and Indonesia. What toppled was the domino theory itself - the expectation that this would happen. The radical Islamists who seized power in Tehran in 1979 could not knock over the governments of neighboring states in the name of that revolution.

More recently, the Wolfowitzean fantasy of toppling Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein and setting off a chain reaction that would democratize the Middle East was revealed for what it was - absurd. By then the entirely reasonable idea that countries were not inert objects whose stability depended on having stable neighbors had congealed into a conventional wisdom.

Fast forward to 2011. Less than a month separated the January 14 and February 11 ousters of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from Tunis and of Hosni Mubarak from Cairo. Major protest demonstrations have also broken out in Algiers, Amman, Benghazi, Manama, Rabat, Sana'a and Tehran.

Each of these situations is unique; the sequence has been not neatly linear; and it remains to be seen how many more regimes will succumb to pressure from the streets. But the whirlwind across North Africa and the Middle East certainly has illustrated the power of events in one place to inspire them elsewhere in the same region, as a domino theorist would expect.

Proliferating linkages in cyber-space have enhanced the chance that what happens in one place will be quickly and widely known in another. Imitation is not the necessary outcome of awareness. Without their own, home-grown reasons for revolt, the texting and tweeting Cairenes who filled Tahrir Square would not have followed the Tunisian example. That said, however, and other things being equal, access to electronic networks has everywhere lowered the barriers to local mobilization.

A first lesson of these events is that we are likely to see more electronically facilitated demonstration effects spilling across national borders, and more reliance on the Internet to achieve local change.

2. The medium is not the message
There is no such thing as "liberation technology" if by that we mean that cyber-space is intrinsically or inevitably anti-tyrannical - that "information wants to be free" in a political sense. Information does not "want" anything. Democracy is not a tweet. A camera phone with Internet access empowers whoever holds it. But cyber-linkages can be put to progressive or regressive use.

Democrats are the not only ones capable of drawing inferences from recent events. What Ben Ali and Mubarak did or did not do is doubtless already being studied by more than a few of the world's remaining autocrats for clues to avoiding the same fate.

When Mubarak shut down the Internet, he behaved as if cyber-space itself had become the enemy of his regime. If dictators are intrinsically fearful of change, if instead of using new technology they ignore it, and if they close themselves off from information about the way things really are, they will tilt the electronic playing field against themselves. An early student of cybernetics and politics, Karl Deutsch, used to say that power is the ability not to have to listen, to which one could add: until it's too late.

For clever autocrats, on the other hand, the lesson of Tahrir Square may be that their incumbency depends on innovating and manipulating "repression technology": that if halting the flow of information is futile, managing and using it is not. Coercion can be calibrated, as Cherian George has argued with reference to the hitherto successful maintenance of Singapore's illiberal regime.

The uniqueness of conditions in that city-state sharply limits the exportability of its synoptic and thermostatic model of control. But the Internet among other channels of communication can and will be used in efforts to postpone plural politics in the name of state performance - trying to sideline the desire for democracy by acknowledging and responding to the need for welfare.

Striking in this context is the February 9 decision by Syria's authoritarian president Bashar al-Assad to reverse Mubarak's pull-the-plug tactic by canceling long-standing bans on Facebook and YouTube inside Syria. His reasoning, including his timing, is unclear. But it may reflect a sense of confidence following the failure of an anti-government protest to materialize on the previous weekend despite the willingness of some 15,000 people to join the Facebook page calling for "days of rage". A cyber-strategy of surveillance and co-optation is rendered all the more plausible by Assad's previous leadership of the Syrian Computer Society, whose advertised goals include shaping and regulating the local use of information technology.

One can hope that the Internet will help civil societies grow, but cyber-space will remain contested terrain.

3. The secular should not be discounted
In many academic and policy circles, the rise of religion around the world has become, so to speak, an article of faith. The faith is not misplaced. Since the 1970s, Islam has indeed become a more visible frame of personal and social reference among Muslims around the world. The local versions and extents of that global phenomenon have varied substantially from time to time and place to place, but not enough to refute the existence of the trend itself.

It is accordingly fashionable in Western academic and policy settings to downplay the relevance of the secular in the Muslim world. The toponym itself privileges religious affiliation as the defining characteristic of societies from Morocco to Mindanao. Yet Islam is only one reference point in the typically multivalent lives of populations whose actual - as opposed to self-acknowledged - daily fealty to their faith may range from pious to perfunctory.

If religion really had the behavioral weight that the notion of "rising Islam" implies, the revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries lumped together in such an avowedly "Muslim world" would already have inspired the slogans if the not also the aims of the demonstrators.

That has not been true. In Cairo, the slogan that "Islam is the solution" was replaced on Tahrir Square by a motto that paid homage to another nation: "Tunisia is the solution." In country after country, far from rallying under the banner of Islam, the young demonstrators waved or wore the national flag, or showed their familiarity with hypermodern - that is, virtual - reality in signs proclaiming "GAME OVER" for dictators.

Nationalism and cyber-space are not "secular" in an anti-religious sense. Islam has inspired nationalism in Muslim-majority countries since colonial times. Muslim and Islamist websites dot the net. Yet while some protesters have shouted "Allahu akbar!" and prayed in the streets, most have not couched their demands in Islamic terms.

The Shi'ite majority's resentment of Sunni-minority rule has been a key subtext of the protests in Bahrain. But that example hardly reflects the rise of Islam as a single, shared identity. On the contrary, it re-expresses sectarian grievances that have long divided Muslims. And even those grievances have been less theological than socioeconomic. If "secular" means simply non-religious, then the whirlwind so far has been a secular affair.

This may change when the wind dies down, as Islamist political parties and movements become involved in post-euphoric or "morning after" processes of actual - or, at any rate, ostensible - reform, including prospective elections.

Islamists in exile have already come home in the hope of influencing events - Rachid Ghannouchi in Tunis, Yusuf al-Qaradawi in Cairo. The Barack Obama administration's recent decision to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegal will add Islamist, Arabist, and nationalist anti-American fuel to political fires. But the young people who started the storm were not trying to recreate the caliphate. Nor were their demands for freedoms, jobs, and justice, or their disgust over corruption, distinctively Koranic.

If the mainly secular-nationalist minorities who protested are rewarded with majority rule, more explicit religious preferences will have to be taken into account. Yet their likely future influence should not be exaggerated. It is time to retire the fear that an Islamist party that wins an election and becomes the government is bound to cancel all future balloting in order to remain in power. The record of democratically empowered Islamism does not corroborate that suspicion.

From Jakarta to Cairo to Damascus and back
Muslim-majority Indonesia became a democracy more than a decade ago. Since then, no Islamist party has won a national election by a wide enough margin to form a government on its own. More and less Islamist parties have joined ruling coalitions, and their leaders have become ministers in cabinets. Yet the behavior of these ostensibly religious politicians has not deviated much from what one would expect of their secular counterparts.

Pious candidates who invoke ethical behavior as an Islamic imperative do, however, run the risk of failing to practice what they preach. If politics is the art of compromise, it can also be compromising. Leaders who claim to cleave to a higher standard of morality are especially vulnerable to the charge of hypocrisy if their practices transgress their principles. An Indonesian example is the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), an Islamist member of the current ruling coalition. Allegations of corruption leveled at the PKS have been particularly damaging because they so sharply contradict the party's association with pious probity.

A more risible illustration occurred in November 2010 when Indonesia's cabinet ministers lined up to welcome Barack and Michelle Obama to Jakarta. One of the ministers was a leading PKS politician, Tifatul Sembiring. He had prided himself, as a "good Muslim", on shunning physical contact with any woman who was not a relative. Nevertheless, when his turn came to greet the US's First Lady, he shook her hand.

Sembiring claimed to have done so only because she had stuck out her own hand, effectively forcing him to touch it against his will. His blame-the-guest gambit backfired, however, when he was shown on video smiling and extending his own hand proactively to her. The scene went viral in cyber-space. The minister had managed to turn inconsistency into hypocrisy - and himself into an object of amused derision among more cosmopolitan Indonesians. He had also reinforced an image of Islam as a forbidding religion in both senses of that adjective.

In North Africa and the Middle East, the Muslim Brothers may be more skilled in public relations. But Sembiring's case illustrates the difficulty of observing exclusionary prohibitions in a modern democracy whose citizens want to engage with, and be included in, the larger world.

The views of the arguably moderate Egyptian Islamist Qaradawi are instructive in this context. Accessible at IslamonLine.net, his recommendations on "Shaking Hands with Women" rest on a complex scholarly analysis of contrasting texts and opinions. His major conclusion amounts to a series of negations: that it is not forbidden for a Muslim man to shake the hand of a woman who is not his relative by blood or marriage, provided that doing so is not motivated by, and that it will not stimulate, sexual temptation.

Should a conscientious Muslim be able to predict the future? Where does an aesthetic appreciation of beauty end and the risk of physical attraction begin? What if they co-occur? Does avoiding contact to prevent temptation prolong and encourage irresponsibility and immaturity by precluding occasions in which the man allows himself to feel tempted, but then overcomes the feeling by practicing self-control? Is dating the enemy of marriage? What is the nature of love?

It is not disrespectful of either Islam or of Qaradawi to wonder whether such questions could conceivably arise in the mind of a believer trying to follow his advice. Political parties that are committed to religious strictures that imply social closure and reinforce communal identity are likely to have limited appeal.

In Indonesia recently, fearing that its Islamist coloration might have become a political liability, the PKS has tried to soften its image and broaden its popularity among secular Muslims and non-Muslims as well. Still more recently in Egypt, in a Friday sermon delivered to a crowd of more than a million people gathered in Tahrir Square, Qaradawi made a point of honoring the country's Coptic Christian minority and urging respect for freedom and pluralism.

The future of democracy in North Africa and the Middle East is still up in the air, but the whirlwind to date points toward these conclusions:

Politically consequential spread effects will become more common, and as they do, those resisting change will try to rival, divert, co-opt, filter, and block the offending cyber-traffic.

In Muslim-majority societies that do manage to democratize, although anti-religious secularism will remain rare, non-religious secularity will be amply evident in many contexts: demands for modern education and employment in this life; nationalist pride that is not slanted to favor the pious; disgust with corruption especially by religionists with double standards; and the moderating compromises that absolutist politicians in competitive politics will have to make if they want to win.

Donald K Emmerson is an affiliate of the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University and a co-author of Islamism: Contested Perspectives on Political Islam (2010). His website is
Clinton off the mark on Afghanistan
By M K Bhadrakumar

The Barack Obama administration's choice of Marc Grossman as successor to the late Richard Holbrooke, former special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, is significant for three reasons. If Grossman's diplomatic career spanned Pakistan and the Afghan mujahideen at a time when Pakistan was a "frontline" state for the United States, his two stints in Turkey in a bygone era, including as ambassador, make him an "expert" on the strange workings of a political democracy run by the country's military.

Indeed, Grossman also devoted his career to the remaking of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including the denouement to the alliance's first "out-of-area" operations in the Balkans. Thus, Grossman's appointment gives away a certain shift in Obama's thinking - gradually moving away from the military "surge" in Afghanistan to a diplomatic and political track of reconciliation with the Taliban.

The "leaks" last week by administration officials to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll appeared almost alongside Grossman's appointment - that the US administration is engaged in direct talks with the Taliban. Coincidence or not, this was also the gist of the policy speech delivered by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Asia Society at New York on Friday regarding the war.

With Grossman's appointment, the past two months' drift in US policies has been punctuated. But the US's capacity to pull off a denouement to the war that Clinton outlined remains in doubt. The principal points in her speech were:
  • The transition to Afghan-led security will commence as planned in the coming weeks and the drawdown of US troops will be completed by end-2014.
  • Washington will continue to pursue a three-track strategy running on "mutually reinforcing tracks": a military "surge" combined with a civilian effort to revitalize the political economy of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a diplomatic "surge" to end the war.
  • Reconciliation with the Taliban is subject to well laid out conditions.
  • The US will relentlessly degrade the Taliban and they will face international "ostracism" until they choose political compromise.
  • At the same time, the US recognizes "we will never kill enough insurgents to win this war outright".
  • Therefore, US civilian and military efforts will aim at supporting a durable political settlement and the US will "intensify our regional diplomacy to enable a political process".

    Did Clinton break new ground? The answer is "no". The war is fast morphing into a "bleeding wound", to use Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's famous words of another superpower's Afghan war. Clinton tacitly acknowledged the stalemate. So, all that the Taliban need to do is to simply "wait it out". Just as Washington has preconditions, so do the Taliban.

    In a statement on Saturday, the Taliban zeroed in on precisely the aspect of the ongoing US-Afghan negotiations for American military bases in the post-2014 phase (although Clinton deftly glided over the issue in her speech): "Afghanistan is not a country where the native people will tolerate the presence of foreign troops ... The Americans should know that neither the rulers of the puppet regime nor the hand-picked parliament is entitled to trade on the destiny of Afghanistan ... establishment of permanent bases in Afghanistan is an American pipedream and is not realizable."

    Most significantly, the Taliban concluded, "The regional countries unmistakably realize the goals and objectives of America behind their prolonged presence in Afghanistan. Naturally, the regional countries will not accept this notion but rather will oppose it. They will even forge an alliance against it if they find an opportunity to do so and will make efforts to hand out a forceful and devastating blow to the American plan."

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai seems to agree with the Taliban. He said in Kabul on Saturday: "This [agreement on US bases] is not something to be done only by the Afghan government and it neither has the authority. It is Afghans who should come up with a decision. In any case, Afghanistan needs peace as a precondition and it wants to make sure that neighboring countries don't feel any threats."

    Interestingly, Karzai echoed a Russian Foreign Ministry statement earlier in the day: "This information [regarding US bases] makes one think and it raises questions. Why will the US military bases be needed if the terrorist threat in ... Afghanistan is ended? Will Kabul be able to combine negotiations on a long-term American military presence with the reconciliation process? How will Afghanistan's neighbors view the establishment of a foreign country's military bases near their territory?"

    Karzai is convinced that Washington is systematically weakening his authority. He and the Pakistani military leadership will see the new approach in Clinton's speech as a ploy to scatter their nascent endeavor to kickstart an "intra-Afghan" peace process and, generally speaking, to create confusion among Afghan protagonists.

    Clinton failed to concede a pivotal role for Pakistan in the search of a settlement. She defined Pakistan's role in terms of cracking down on Taliban sanctuaries, keeping up cordial state-to-state relations with Afghanistan, maintaining non-interference in Afghan affairs and principally moving onto a sustained trajectory of settlement of differences (including over Afghanistan) and normalization with India. In short, Clinton offered to Pakistan a "peace dividend" in terms of its own internal stability and enhanced regional cooperation with India.

    She failed to acknowledge Pakistan's "special" interests, a broader security matrix that also includes the alarming prospect (from Islamabad's point of view) of a regional imbalance emanating out of the cascading US-India military cooperation and Washington's unilateral recognition of India as a nuclear-weapon power.

    On the other hand, Clinton made it abundantly clear that the key levers of the political process to reconciling the Taliban as well as regional politics over Afghan problem would remain very much in Washington's hands.

    Conceivably, Washington counts on its non-Pashtun allies inside Afghanistan to frustrate any Afghan-Pakistan peace process that gets beyond the US's control or defies its objectives and, second, it counts on Saudi Arabia to be the regional "balancer" vis-a-vis Pakistan and Iran, given Riyadh's old links with the Taliban. Washington seems confident it can play merry havoc within the Taliban leadership by splintering or atomising the group, thereby denying Pakistan its "strategic asset".

    The US strategy outlined in Clinton's speech, wittingly or otherwise, could create misgivings in Islamabad regarding Karzai's game plan. It all seems rather an audacious hope. The hard realities are:

    The US possesses very limited capability to persist with its much-touted civilian and military "surge".
    The US claims that the Taliban are weakening and lack conviction. The security situation is deteriorating, war is spreading to the north and Kabul city's security perimeters have been breached.
    The latest accord among militants in Kurram agency gives "strategic depth" to the Taliban operating out of the North Waziristan tribal area in Pakistan.
    The US military faces the contradictory situation of adhering to a drawdown deadline while simultaneously degrading the Taliban on the battlefield and reinforcing the political and diplomatic "surge".
    Washington's equations with Kabul and Rawalpindi are at an all-time low.
    The Afghan-Pakistan relationship is way beyond the US's control.
    India-Pakistan relations are fraught with huge question marks and Washington faces an uphill task balancing its ties with the two South Asian adversaries.
    The US-Iran "standoff" is entering uncharted territory following the developments in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.
    Major regional powers harbor misgivings regarding the US's "unilateralist" approach and its geopolitical objectives.
    The war is increasingly controversial in Western opinion and Obama is gearing up for a tough re-election campaign. Clearly, the timeline favors the Taliban.

    Clinton's optimism seems unwarranted. She said, "Today, the escalating pressure of our military campaign is sharpening a decision for the Taliban: break ties with al-Qaeda, give up your arms and abide by the Afghan constitution, and you can rejoin Afghan society. Refuse, and you will continue to face the consequences of being tied to al-Qaeda as an enemy of the international community. They cannot wait us out. They cannot defeat us. And they cannot escape this choice."

    Very tough talk, indeed. And no mincing of words, either. But, if only life were that simple and the road ahead that straightforward. British Pakistani author and commentator Tariq Ali once wrote that it is when such eloquent rhetoric appears that a resounding voice can be heard echoing through the valleys and hills of the Hindu Kush - loud, derisive Pashtun laughter......

  • Dominoes or a House Of Cards....???
    وكي لا "نفلح في البحر" وكي لا تنطفئ شعلة الثورة المتنقلة من وطن عربي الى آخر، يجب ان نعي ان اطاحة الطاغية لا تعني بالضرورة الوصول الى الحرية والديموقراطية. هناك مسافة شاسعة بين اسقاط النظام واحلال نظام جديد. من الثورة الى الحرية طريق طويل وهناك على الطريق من يتربص لاغتيال الثورة ودفنها. وهناك على الطريق كثير من التحديات. سنركز على ثلاثة منها:

    التحدي الاول، هو الفوضى. فالفوضى قد تقود الى حروب اهلية وحروب عبثية، وتضل فيها الثورة الطريق الى اهدافها. ولكي لا نقع في الفوضى تحتاج الثورة الى فرز قيادة شجاعة وحكيمة وحضارية. من دون قيادة لا تصل الشعوب الى مكان. قائد واحد في إمارة دبي اخذ الصحراء وجعلها جنة. وقيادات طائفية سياسية متخلفة في لبنان اخذت "الجنَّة" فيه وحولتها "صحراء". والقيادة الشجاعة والحكيمة لا تكون من دون تنظيم سياسي واجتماعي. فالقيادة والتنظيم هما القوة لإنجاح الثورة والوصول بها الى اهدافها

    والتحدي الثاني الذي نخافه ويخافه العالم كله، هو ان تنتهز الاصولية الدينية المتمثلة في هذا الشرق العربي بالايديولوجيات الاسلامية المتطرفة الفرصة والفوضى لتخطف الثورة . فهناك خوف من ان تتحول الثورة في البحرين حكم الاصولية الشيعية. وها قد ارتفعت في اليمن اصوات تنادي بجمهورية اسلامية. وهناك خوف حقيقي في مصر من نفوذ الاخوان المسلمين وقوتهم. ان محور الثورة ليس الاسلام بل الانسان. وها قد امتزجت دماء المسيحيين مع دماء المسلمين في الشوارع. كلهم ثاروا. مسيحيون ومسلمون. كلهم رفعوا شعارات واحدة: الحرية والكرامة والديموقراطية. وكم هو مهم ان نفصل بين الدين والثورة حتى تبقى الثورة للشعوب ويبقى الدين لله

    والتحدي الثالث هو عودة العسكر. قد يستغل العسكر الفوضى للعودة الى السلطة بحجة فرض النظام والاستقرار. فالعسكري قد يعي اهمية الاستقرار والسلام لكنه، على رغم احترامنا لما يقوم به من مهمة اساسية لحفظ الامن للمواطن، قد لا يعي ما هو أهم من الاستقرار، ألا وهو عظمة الانسان الفرد واهمية العقل والابداع وقوة الحرية. نحن نطلب من الثوار ان يرفعوا شعاراً كبيراً "لا عودة للعسكر"

    بين الثورة والحرية طريق طويل. سيسقط الكثيرون وسيموت الكثيرون. ولكن هل هناك خيار آخر للثورة غير المضي الى الامام؟ ونتوجه الى النخب العربية ونقول لها: لقد دقت ساعة الحقيقة. في الماضي وفي الحاضر كان عتبنا عليكم كبيراً. اذ ان السواد الاعظم منكم إمّا لاذ بالصمت وإما تملّق للطاغية. ان الكثيرين منكم بدل ان يلتزموا قضايا شعوبهم التزموا مصالحهم الشخصية الآنية. وهنا لا بد لنا من ان ننحني اجلالا واحتراما امام القلة من هذه النخب الذين فضلوا السجون على الركوع للطاغية والقبول بالذل

    هذه الثورة هي ثورتنا. هذه هي فرصتنا التاريخية. ويل لنا اذا قتلناها بجهلنا، وويل لنا ان اغتالوها. ان تحرير الانسان الفرد هو اكبر قضية في هذا الشرق. وتحرير الانسان هو الخطوة الاولى في الطريق الى الحرية، والحرية هي الطريق للابداع، والابداع هو الطريق للحضارة، والحضارة هي التي ستعود بنا ثانية الى التاريخ. من زمان كان العرب في التاريخ ثم خرجوا منه لقرون عدة وها هم اليوم يعودون اليه

    حتى الأمس القريب كان مفكرون في الغرب يعتقدون ان الاسلام هو العقبة لدخول العرب التاريخ مرة ثانية. وهل يا تُرى، أدركوا بعد ان رأوا ما رأوا، وبعد ان مات من مات في سبيل الحرية، انهم كانوا على خطأ كبير؟

  • HK


    Arithmetics of Disdain,

    At a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act"

    It is noteworthy that the State Department's list of global terrorist incidents for 2002 worldwide failed to list the car bombing attack on Hobeika and his party.... But Listed a small Hand Grenade thrown at a U.S. franchise in the middle of the night when the place was closed, empty and no one was hurt? The White House wanted to ensure the terror attack on Mr. Elie Hobeika, and his party of three young men with families, was censored from the report. The reason was simple: this attack ultimately had Washington's and Israel's fingerprints all over it....Given the actual climate of political cacophonies, deceit, deception and intrigue in Lebanon of today, Lebanon of the LIARS of NEOCONVILLE, it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Mr. Elie Hobeika was a visionary Leader and a Hero.Lebanon will probably never know a Leader of this caliber.My dear friend ELIE, you have been reborn on January 24th 2002.Heroes are reborn the day of their Martyrdom .ELIE, you are more alive today, than many living political corpses,walking and talking in Beirut Lebanon every day, until resurrection.At a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act"- G. Orwell A U.S. intelligence source revealed to me, that in the world of intelligence "carve out" subcontracts such confusion is often the case with "plausible deniability" being a foremost concern in ALL covert operations, especially in Elie Hobeika's case on January 24th 2002, & Hariri's Feb. 14th 2005... Notwithstanding Jacques CHIRAC's gesticulations and false sorrow for the loss of his "friend" Rafic HARIRI, he has been regularly organizing official meetings in Paris for Asef Shawkat with his services to secure SYRIA for and with Assef Shawkat,....

    The propensity of governments to create secrets out of the obvious is one of the more tedious aspects of international relations. But this secret is not obvious, and it is not trivial. Though it is true, and I hold the KEY.

    Fabrications, LIES , False Flag operations, CIA and MOSSAD.It has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt,that ALL stories which came out immediately after the Assassination of Mr.Elie Hobeika, Fares Sweidan,Dimitri Ajram, and Waleed El-Zein, were completely &utterly FALSE. It was a pure fabrication by the KILLERS;AND the CIA'S Foreign Denial and Deception Committee (FDDC),to cover their tracks. Standard operating procedure...101I mean by that, the stories relating to Elie trying to find IMAD Moughnieh, the alleged attempted contacts with CIA, MOSSAD, etc. , the missing Iranian diplomats, the 9 most wanted by CIA, whose names have been circulated then,on purpose by CIA, to 7 ministers in the Lebanese Government, etc. [names which CIA has completely forgotten now,one of them has proven since to be a CIA asset himself...] ALL these were a tortuous web of lies to cover the tracks of the Murderers of CIA, MOSSAD, and their Syro-Lebanese tools.Special ongoing Investigation.Oct. , 2007- On September 15, 2001, just four days after the 9-11 attacks,CIA Director George Tenet provided President [sic] Bush with a Top Secret"Worldwide Attack Matrix"-a virtual license to kill targets deemed to be a threat to the United States in some 80 countries around the world. The Tenet plan, which was subsequently approved by Bush, essentially reversed the executive orders of four previous U.S. administrations that expressly prohibited political assassinations. Mr. Elie Hobeika will be the first target of the US administration, to pave the way for its Iraq Invasion .It planned to directly control the "Energy Basin" and ALL the OIL Transportation routes,from Pipelines to the Maritime avenues and choke points in the Gulf areas, and from central Asia to Mauritania and beyond.But most of all, Mr. Elie Hobeika will be made to pay dearly with his life,for daring to change his politics and views, after experiencing first hand,THE BRUTALITY OF THE ISRAELIS AND THE AMERICANS ,and their CULTURE OF VIOLENCE , Intrigue, murder & very bad Politics.The BUSH+CHENEY Energy MATRIX, coming to a place near you SOON.The awakening is near. It will be like a hurricane passing with untold fury.Mark my Words: .....


    THE assassination of yet another Lebanese MP — the seventh anti-Syrian figure to be murdered since the slaying of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005 — has brought Lebanon to the brink of a catastrophe. It threatens to be even more devastating than the 1975-90 civil war. The country’s survival as an independent unified state is now at stake. The divide between anti-Syrian and pro-Syrian blocs is now unbridgeable.

    As to fears of fresh civil war, it is already a reality. With ministers and pro-government MPs being assassinated, the government even more besieged than the one in Iraq, surviving MPs in hiding, who can talk of political normality? Lebanon is at war with itself. How long before that translates into general armed conflict is anyone’s guess. It would be naive to imagine that Ghanem’s killing will be the last. The anti-Syrian majority in Parliament is now razor-thin. Those behind this and the other killings are obviously determined to bring down the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora by the physical elimination of its parliamentary majority.

    There can be no doubt that more assassinations are planned and will be attempted. If that happens and the Lebanese government falls as a result and is replaced by a pro-Syrian government, it will trigger a wave of retaliatory violence — against Hezbollah, against the Shiite community and against pro-Syrian figures. Open warfare waits in the wings.

    Syrian protestations that it had nothing to do with Antoine Ghanem’s murder and the others may be true. It is quite possible that the killings are wholly internal, the work of pro-Syrian elements inside Lebanon who want power back. There are certainly some who do not want a new president elected to replace Emile Lahoud. It is even possible that Israelis were behind the killings, intent on destabilization and making Syria appear the villain — possible but unlikely; they have much to lose if a Hezbollah-dominated, pro-Syrian government were installed in Beirut.

    The problem is that very few believe Syria’s innocence. They ask the question “who benefits?” and, in the case of each assassination, come up with the same answer: Damascus and its clients in Lebanon. That belief robs Syria of having an acceptable role in Lebanon for a long time to come. The majority of Lebanese want their sovereignty to be absolute; with no interference from anyone — be they Syrian, Israeli, Iranian, American or whatever. That dream, however, is being car-bombed to oblivion....

    Forget what you've heard about objectivity. Not even cameras are objective. To nearly everything you analyze (and report on) you bring notions based on - but not limited to - your class, gender, skin color, ethnicity, native language, upbringing, education, religion, culture, playground experiences, political orientation, the influences of people you trust and things about the way our brains work that nobody even knows yet. Like sponges, we absorb stereotypes and clichés about other people's attitudes and behavior which skews our perceptions in ways we don't even realize. So don't fool yourself into believing in objectivity. The best you can achieve is fairness, and that's a tough path to stick to as well.

    And then we'd have a talk about the textbook description of objectivity, which is that "every story has two sides," a pernicious dualistic myth that profoundly undermines what is supposed to be a search for truth....

    The even greater danger with these dark clouds forming over Lebanon is for the region. With Syria’s links to Iran, Iran’s links to Hezbollah, rising tension over Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions, there is a chain explosion waiting to happen. An Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, an American attack on Iran, a Syrian attack on Israel, more Lebanese assassinations: One could trigger another. The temperature is fast rising on the Middle East’s northern rim — and it is near flash point.


    Petition USA

    Dear Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
    http://judiciary.senate.gov/ , thanks for your
    great work defending the USA Constitution, with
    between Churches and State and Free Speech,
    and my questions are:1) since most likely the Senate

    will approve Michael Mukasey as the new A.G.of

    the United States, and since as you know,he is an

    orthodox Israeli-American and with dual citizenship,
    American and Israeli,

    http://phillyfreedom.blogspot.com/ , NYT Sept.
    18.07 "Washington outsider with many sides"
    for info on Mukasey as Judge of the WTC-
    Insurance 9/11 case , will he respect other
    religions exactly thesame as his?2) since he is an

    ordained rabbi within his orthodox community,will his partners get treatment better or different in any way
    from the one you or I or anybody else would get from

    him in the United States of America?

    3) what happens to all the Security Contracts
    and Military deals he and his son Marc are
    doing with the Companies and Interests of
    Giuliani Partners and other associates ?

    4) what happens with all the deals they
    worked on in his son's law firm,
    Bracewell&Giuliani?since Bracewell&Giuliani has

    offices in the South Asia, like in Kazakhstan,a big

    oil supplier ruled by an extreme undemocratic leader,
    Nazarbayev, will the Mukasey's and Giuliani's
    get special deals? with no supervision? political
    donations? will the actual law firm of Mukasey
    get special deals too? will anybody ask ? or will
    they just say yes :blindly?

    5) Michael Mukasey

    and his son Marc are strong AIPAC supporters ,

    but will anyone in the Senate ask anything about their relationship to these political-military-religious-financial
    and foreign groups? we know that no one
    will,but is that right? isn't special treatment?
    the A.G.?

    6) Chairman,this powerful military-religious-
    financial group , of which Michael Mukasey is
    a leader, will have unprecedented influence in
    the Justice Dpt. ,White House and Congress,
    not to mention over the average taxpayer,
    and since many members of the orthodox
    community to which he belongs are diamond,
    gold,jewelry,insurance ,real estate and tobacco
    dealers and wholesalers while claiming Tax
    Exemption due to religious condition,will his
    appointment stop all the Investigations of the
    IRS and Justice Dpt.as well as Commerce,etc.?
    and back taxes?
    do average Americans have a guarantee of
    equal treatment?
    when we start getting prosecuted for asking
    questions,what recourse do we have ? any ?
    and since orthodox Mukasey will most likely
    install many members of his organized religious
    group into office,will we be forced to request
    help from the same community like his with
    the special privilege?7) Judge Mukasey was in

    charge of the 9/11/01 Trial case between the

    leaseholders of the WTC,SIlverstein-Goldman-

    Pacific-etc., and the 23 Insurance Companies these

    new leaseholders called just days before 9/11 to
    open dozens of policies over everything in
    the Towers, services,leases,businesses,contracts,
    profits,hardware,you name it,their premiums
    were millions of dollars a week, didn't make
    any business sense,unless they knew what was
    going to happen a few days later ,and
    everybody in N.Y. and around the world
    was waiting for answers from the Trial ,
    and then Judge Mukasey put a lid on the
    Trial and no news came out, NOTHING !!!!
    and everybody asked why ?, if it is a patriotic
    case,why no news at all ?why the secrecy ?
    why Judge Mukesay didn't want anybody in
    America to know everything about Silverstein
    and his dozens of policies? , then we also found
    out that then N.Y.State A.G. Eliot Spitzer
    wrote a Friend of the Court brief supporting
    Silverstein,the AG siding with one of the
    parties!, and the Judge and Spitzer started to
    push the Insurance Companies to settle for 2
    events,a total of 7 billion dollars to Silverstein
    and his partners, many of the Insurance
    Companies refused because they knew
    something was not right and eventually they
    settled on 4.6 billion dollars for Silverstein ,
    but we still never got any details in any
    newspaper ,radio or TV,NOTHING ! I WOULD
    but we do know that no one will ask him
    anything in D.C., he and his Orthodox
    Congregation partners rule,after all they all
    go to Israel together and share Religious
    Ceremonies with Kissinger, Chertoff,
    Bloomberg ,Silverstein,etc., and yet we hear
    S. Schumer and other neocons saying to the
    media that they want to learn more from
    the man !8) Chairman,this new A.G. will have
    unprecedented influence over President Bush
    and VP Cheney,since he is the only one that
    can prosecute the 2,is it wise to have a
    member of a foreign religious-political group
    having so much power over the President and
    the Vice-President of the United States of
    America ? safe ? smart? patriotic?We know that MR..Mukasey was selected by
    Joshua Bolten and approved by Senator
    Schumer and others,so since "they" run
    Washington,it's a done deal ,hearing Senator
    Schumer telling the Media how wonderful
    Mukasey is and that his nomination cuts
    down on pressure on the White House, do
    they extorted a deal from the President:
    Our orthodox candidate and we stop asking
    for White House U.S. Attorney papers and
    information?is that why Bush looks so depressed?

    is that how Schumer,Bolton, Emanuel,Specter,
    Lieberman and Bloomberg are going to run
    this country?
    because clearly with Mukasey as A.G.,they
    run this country lock,stock and barrel,it's
    that how our Constitutional Rights end ?
    Extortion of the President of the United
    hearing Schumer and Specter, it's clear that it
    was all about getting the Christians out of the
    Justice Dpt. and installing the neocon orthodox
    in, is that how they do it ?A partner of Mukasey

    as adviser to Giuliani , the neocon Pedhoretz,

    has repeatedly pushed with Pr.Bush to bomb Iran,

    to attack, and since Sen. Lieberman and Sen. Kyl

    are pushing to brand Iran's Military a terrorist

    Organization, is this the beginning of a concerted

    effort to push for war? it's important to remember
    all this , because in 2002 and 2003 all these
    neocons with Sen.Schumer,S.Coleman,
    Sen.Boxer,R.Emanuel,Kristol,Safire, Wolfowitz,
    Whitman, Kaplan,Kellner,Gutman,Berman,
    Sulzberger,Murdoch,Karmazin, ex-sec.Cohen,
    were pushing for war every day on the media
    and yet now they are attacking anyone that
    mentions it, they are warning elected officials
    like R.Moran that to mention these facts is
    anti-this and anti-that and "watch it ", they
    are bullying any one that mentions what happen
    before the USA went to Iraq,and worst: they
    insist now on their media that only Bush-
    Cheney-Rice-Rumsfeld are responsible , that
    no one else pushed for this war:

    it looks like its not the first time, it sounds
    like they always pull the same trick: they push
    for war,financed with their Hedge Funds and
    then with the media they erase any links to
    themselves, this is criminal; to push for war
    and then to hide and blamethe Christians
    only,that's evil and SHOWS LOTS OF
    COUNTRY! to confirm an organized
    religious-political-military from a foreign sect
    and laws to Attorney General is
    un-Constitutional,illegal, un-American and
    goes against the core of the USA values,
    thousands died to defend the USA
    Constitution from foreign religions, how can
    the Senate now approve a religious leader ?
    will they even ask this question? will they
    commit High Treason ?when you look at these

    incompetent and criminal decisions against the

    Rule of Law and the Declaration of Independence,
    how can Taxpayers petition the Government
    for any rights?Thanks for your great work defending
    America from foreign and domestic enemies,
    in my humble opinion, this situation
    looks to me like occupation and foreign control,
    and to you ?America knows that George Washington,

    Lincoln and all the Founding Fathers would be proud of
    your defense of the USA Constitution against
    High Treason and High Crimes,


    US Citizens


    NO COMMENT ....... "For Now..."

    Saakashvili Ordered me to Get Rid of Patarkatsishvili’ – Okruashvili

    Ex-Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili has made yet another startling allegation against his former ally, President Saakashvili. The president, he said, had personally ordered him to liquidate Badri Patarkatsishvili, a business tycoon.
    Speaking live on Imedi TV’s talk show On the Air late on September 25, Okruashvili said: “Saakashvili told me that we should get rid of him [Patarkatsishvili], in the same way as happened to Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, who was killed in a car bomb attack.”
    “In July 2005,” Okruashvili said, “Saakashvili asked me: what did I think about getting rid of one person… - Badri Patarkatsishvili? And then he [Saakashvili] outlined a very detailed plan on how to get rid of him.”
    Okruashvili continued: “It was absolutely clear to me that it was a trap for me as well, because they would have gotten rid of me as well after getting rid of Patarkatsishvili.”
    He said in response he told Saakashvili that he needed time to think about it.
    “Meanwhile, I met with one person who at that time was working with the Americans and told him about the president’s proposal,” Okruashvili said. “I did it in the hope that the information would have been passed on to the Americans… It was Zaza Gogava [now Chief-of-Staff of the Georgian armed forces] However it did not work. Because after a month Saakashvili again repeated his demand about getting rid of Patarkatsishvili.”
    “Then I met with another person in Turkey, whose identity I can not reveal. He also has close links with the Americans. He's not a Georgian citizen. I told him about Saakashvili’s plan. This information, it seemed, was delivered to the Americans, because since then Saakashvili never talked with me about getting rid of Patarkatsishvili.”President Saakashvili, who is currently in New York for the UN General Assembly Session, has yet to comment on his former ally’s allegations.


    Irakli Okruashvili, ex-defense minister and once President Saakashvili’s closest ally, has accused the president of engaing in “anti-state steps” and “ordering murders.”
    In his first public statement since he quit the government last November, Okruashvili also finally announced the launch of his political party – Movement for United Georgia. He refused to take question after his ten-minute speech, but said he planned to give further details and “answer all questions” during a TV appearance planned for later on Tuesday.
    “I will definitely speak more on these crimes, which were masterminded by the authorities,” he said. Okruashvili added: “I was ordered by Saakashvili several times to liquidate certain influential and important people, which I refused to do.” He gave no further details.
    There has been considerable speculation that “a war of compromising materials” would precede Okruashvili’s political comeback and the unveiling of his new opposition party.
    Okruashvili said at the news conference in his party's headquarters in downtown Tbilisi that “fascist trends” and “anti-state steps undertaken by the authorities” had convinced him and his co-thinkers to set up the new movement. He also suggested that it hadn't been easy to launch the party.
    People, he said, “are terrorized” because of “repression.” “Those with dissenting opinions are deemed ‘enemies of the state’ and the government is refusing to hold a dialogue with them,” he said.
    This, he said, had made it difficult to convince people to engage in public life.
    Okruashvili said that the anti-corruption campaign was “unreal.” The prisons, he said, were full of petty criminals, while corruption continued to thrive among “top level officials, Saakashvili’s inner circle and his family.”
    “Three years ago when I was Interior Minister,” Okruashvili said, “I arrested Temur Alasania, the president’s uncle, for extortion of USD 200,000. I, however, had to release him on the president’s insistence.”
    He also accused the authorities, and personally Saakashvili, of, as he put it, “a deliberate anti-Orthodox Church campaign” and “of fighting against Georgian traditions and values.”
    “Saakashvili has an inner hatred of the Georgian Orthodox Church,” Okruashvili said. “The Georgian church is the most respected institution in Georgia. [Because of this] he [Saakashvili] perceives the Church as his main competitor. While in his inner circle, I often heard him talking about splitting the Church and discrediting the clergy.”
    He also said that there was “a clear attempt” by the Saakashvili administration “to re-write Georgia’s history, as if nothing Georgian existed before the Rose Revolution, and everything new is being created by Saakashvili.”
    Okruashvili also made an obvious attempt to appeal to other walks of life by saying that the older generation, those over 50, had been “neglected and humiliated.”
    Internally displaced persons from Abkhazia and South Ossetia, he said, “were not regarded as human beings during ex-President Shevardnadze’s regime and this trend has continued in the Saakashvili regime as well.”
    He also criticized the authorities’ policies towards the secessionist regions.
    “We were one step away from reclaiming one of our lost territories,” Okruashvili said, apparently referring to South Ossetia.
    Several months before his resignation from the cabinet, Okruashvili said that he had planned to celebrate the 2007 New Year in Tskhinvali, the capital of breakaway South Ossetia. Commentators said that Saakashvili’s decision to move Okruashvili last November from the Defense Ministry to the Ministry of Economy was largely because of Okruashvili’s perceived hawkish stance on South Ossetia.
    In his speech on September 25, Okruashvili said that “only Saakashvili’s weakness, inability and fear” had foiled plans to reclaim the secessionist region. He also said Saakashvili was too weak to take an unspecified “historic decision.”
    He also criticized Tbilisi’s decision to create the provisional South Ossetia administration, led by Dimitri Sanakoev. Okruashvili said Sanakoev had no respect and authority among the population of the region. He also said that installing Sanakoev was “an imaginary attempt” to unite the country.
    Okruashvili explained his decision to “quietly” quit the government without voicing his discontent was because of, as he put it, his sense of “civil responsibility.”
    “Army officers, who are still my friends, asked me to do it quietly,” he said and added that by doing so he had denied the country’s enemies an opportunity to speculate on a split within the government.
    Okruashvili admitted that he shared “the responsibility for some mistakes because I was also once part of this government.”
    “I, however, have done nothing but good for my country when in government,” he added. “So any attempt to discredit me will fail.”
    Towards the end of his speech, he implied that he might have presidential ambitions.
    “Georgia will be united only if it has a president who doesn't humiliate and insult its own people,” Okruashvili said.
    Throughout his speech, Okruashvili's fellow party members stood beside him. They include: lawmakers Tea Tlashadze, Ketevan Makharashvili, Koka Guntsadze, Gia Tortladze and Gia Tsagareishvili; former Deputy Defense Minister Levan Nikolaishvili and a lawyer, Eka Beselia.
    Two former journalists from Rustavi 2 TV station, Nana Lezhava and Natia Lazashvili, were also there. Both quit the TV station shortly after Rustavi 2 changed hands last November following Okruashvili’s resignation.