Thursday, March 31, 2011

The US has long discovered that its future lies with the Shia in the Middle East....?

The US has long discovered that its future lies with the Shia in the Middle East....?

It seems conventional wisdom in the West that the vast majority of Middle Easterners are Sunni, that they are more democratically oriented and less radical than the Shia, that they support religious freedom more than the Shia, and that they control the bulk of the region’s vast oil and natural gas reserves. Thus it is in a country’s national interest to back Sunni Muslims. But not so fast—these are largely myths and the numbers tell a different story.

The population of the Muslim countries east of Egypt through the Persian Gulf—Lebanon (40% Shia), Syria (15%), Jordan (2%), Yemen (45%), Saudi Arabia (10%), Iraq (63%), Kuwait (30%), Iran (93%), Oman (2%), UAE (15%), Qatar (5%) and Bahrain (70%)—totals about 190 million. Although there are different sects within Shia Islam, the indisputable number of Shia in Iran and Iraq total about 86 million, or over 45% of the region’s total population; conservative estimates for the Shia in the remaining countries bring the total number of Shia to 106 million or 56% of the region’s population. In short, the Shia are the majority in the area that might be considered the "heart" of the Middle East, including all the countries of the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula and the Levant, and the area that holds the region’s vast oil and natural gas reserves.

Although in Islam rulers must be just and serve with the blessing of their community, none of the rulers in the Muslim countries of the Middle East could be classified as just, nor have they been selected in a free system. It is only Iraq, Iran and Lebanon that could be even remotely considered to be attempting to meet these criteria. Sunni imams teach their flock that even if their ruler is unjust, they should put the stability of the community ahead of justice and obey. Shia, on the other hand, are taught that an unjust ruler must be removed. Those who do not stand up to oppose an unjust ruler are as guilty as the ruler.

Non-Muslims around the world, especially Americans, have been brainwashed into believing that the Shia are the radical sect of Islam, spawning the likes of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations that hate the West and its values. Nothing could be further from the truth. Saudi Arabia finances fundamentalist schools (madrassa) in a number of Muslim countries, most prominently in Pakistan. It is in these schools that young Muslims are taught to be anti-Western, anti-Shia, to reject the rights of women and modernization and to follow a path that excludes culture, science, social sciences and economic progress. It is was precisely this environment in Saudi Arabia that spawned Al Qaeda, the attack on 9/11 and the majority of the suicide bombers who have gone to Iraq to frustrate the country’s progress toward normalcy and democracy.

It is this same environment in Saudi Arabia that prohibits the practice of any religion other than their strict, austere and fundamentalist version of Islam. Churches, synagogues and private religious celebrations are not tolerated. But in Shia Iran, churches and synagogues are allowed, and although under today’s mullahs the Baha’is are sadly persecuted, the country’s constitution reserves two seats in parliament for Armenian Christians, and one each for Assyrians Catholics, Jews and Zoroastrians. In Shia Iraq religious freedom is upheld; even during the rule of Saddam Hussein Iraq had a Christian foreign minister and deputy prime minister.

In sum, the Shia are more tolerant and have values that are more compatible with how the US and the rest of the West see themselves.

Why have the Shia been so maligned? The taking of US hostages by Iranian student revolutionaries and the Mujahedin (or MEK) in 1979 left an indelible mark on the American psyche. Moreover, the anti-American rhetoric that spewed out of Tehran in the early days of the revolution and more recently from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has kept the anti-Shia flame strong. Shia’s traditional reverence for martyrdom has also put Shiism in the spotlight. The Al-Sauds have added fuel to the fire. They blame Iran for attacks on Americans; they tell visiting dignitaries to Riyadh that the Shia cannot be trusted; without a shred of evidence they blame Tehran for fomenting the uprisings in Bahrain and elsewhere in the region. Meanwhile, with their high-priced public relations campaigns and lobbyists, the Al-Sauds continue to escape close scrutiny.

As for oil and natural gas reserves—where are they? Today’s figures give Iran and Iraq about 75% of the GCC’s natural gas reserves and 55% of its oil reserves. But it should be emphasized that this is today; Iraq has been cut off from the international oil community for a long time and only 15% of its potential area has been explored. Iran has been sanctioned since the time of its war with Iraq and has had limited access to foreign investment and much needed technology. In fact, a number of energy insiders expect Iran’s and especially Iraq’s oil and gas reserves to be adjusted significantly upward, with some anticipating that Iraq’s oil reserves could eventually equal if not exceed Saudi Arabia’s. My expectation would be for the combined gas reserves of Iran and Iraq to equal those of the GCC and for their oil reserves to climb up to 75-85% of the GCC’s. In short, our energy interests are linked to Iran and Iraq as much as they are to Saudi Arabia and the GCC. We neglect our interests in Iran and Iraq to our own peril....

Today, the growing division between Shia and Sunnis in the Persian Gulf has been in large part fomented by the Al-Sauds. In the past, the Shia could travel everywhere in the Persian Gulf, except in Saudi Arabia, without feeling that they were "different." The Al-Sauds have changed all that by sowing the seeds of discord within Islam throughout the Persian Gulf. They have drawn a line in the sand in Bahrain that could ignite a regional war. In Iraq and in Iran, Sunni and Shia have intermarried, but with increasing discrimination being practiced in Saudi Arabia and spreading to the rest of the GCC, new divisions have appeared where there were none before.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Kuwait have issued warnings bordering on threats to Iran not to interfere in the protests in Bahrain, while Saudi Arabia and the UAE have sent soldiers and police to Bahrain to suppress the oppressed Shia, who make up 70% of the population there. Kuwait has dispatched its navy to Bahrain. Some countries may be scared by warnings, but what the Al-Sauds are doing is counterproductive. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and intelligence services have little respect for the GCC’s military and covert capabilities despite the GCC’s top-of-the-line hardware. With threats from the Saudis, Iran’s natural instinct is to show the Saudis a thing or two to put them in their place. Surprisingly, Saudi Arabia shows little understanding, if any, of the Iranian and Iraqi mindset, nor does it understand the decision makers in the Persian Gulf, even sometimes countries that are members of the GCC. This will not serve the region in resolving regional differences.

Still, and no matter what GCC leaders say, Iran has not interfered in the internal affairs of Bahrain to anything approaching the extent claimed by Saudi Arabia. Recently, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said as much. The Saudis are using this line of rhetoric in an effort to further isolate Iran and hide their discrimination of Shia. While Tehran has not interfered in the past, things may be about to change. Iran has been given every incentive to interfere in the internal affairs of the GCC and especially in those of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. On what basis can the Al-Sauds intervene in Bahrain to crush peaceful demonstrators when Iran is not allowed to come to the defense of fellow Shia and support their basic human rights, both in Bahrain and across the region in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia?

Perhaps the Al-Sauds have become delusional. Maybe they have begun to believe the story they tell the US about Iranian treachery and the dangerous Shia. If they could wake up to reality, the Al-Sauds might still save themselves and their GCC brethren by reforming and adapting, not by digging their heals in deeper, fomenting hatred and dragging the rest of the GCC down with them. Creating divisions throughout the entire Persian Gulf, especially in Bahrain and Kuwait, will not help them squash their own Shia minority in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis may have succeeded in misleading the US about the Shia, but the US will soon discover that its future lies as much, if not more, with the Shia in the region.

While the rest of the GCC may have limited influence on their big brother in Riyadh, it is up to the US to persuade the Al-Sauds to change now and embrace reform before it is too late. US national interests are not what the Al-Sauds, the GCC rulers or the Sunni minority perceive as their familial or national interests. While developments in the GCC are important for US national interests, developments in Iran, Iraq and in the majority Shia community in the region are equally important today and could be much more important in the future. The Shia are the majority in this crucial region east of Egypt and they are much more likely to be compatible allies. If the Shia in Sunni majority countries are persecuted and the US does not support their rights as it has for those protesting in Egypt and Libya, then the Shia majority could threaten US national interests throughout the region. The US must stop ignoring the persecution of Shia in Bahrain, in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf.

It is simply dishonest to support human rights, freedom and the right of people to determine their future in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen and to ignore them in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the GCC. US duplicity has begun to enrage Shia throughout the Middle East. Chants in Bahrain already confirm it: protesters shouting death to the Al-Khalifas and Al-Sauds are also asking whether their rights are less important than those of people marching in the streets in Egypt, Libya and Yemen. If the US does not adopt an evenhanded approach to upholding basic human rights in the region, the disenfranchised Shia will start including Washington on their list of oppressors. It is high time for the US to recognize how closely aligned its national interests are with those of the Shia communities in the area that is at the "heart" of the Middle East....


Pakistan skating on thin Bahraini ice...
The visit by the Bahrain Foreign Minister Shaikh Khaled Bin Ahmed Mohamed Al-Khalifa to Islamabad opens an incredible twist to the unfolding saga of 'Arab revolt' in the Persian Gulf region. The visiting dignitary met President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar. The discussions primarily related to 'defence cooperation'. Shorn of diplomatese, Bahrain wants Pakistan to be a key provider of security and 'Barkis is willing'. Bahrain is very pleased with Pakistan's`principled stand` on the situation in the Gulf state, which was succinctly articulated by Zardari: “Pakistan desires peace, security, and stability in Bahrain. Pakistan… would not like its (region`s) stability to be upset in any way. Pakistan believes that it would be dangerous for regional peace and stability if the system was destabilized one way or the other”.
Bahrain and its mentors in Riyadh have every reason to be thrilled that Pakistan has unequivocally endorsed the Saudi intervention in Bahrain to crush the Shi'ite uprising. Such clear-cut support is hard to come by nowadays. Quite obviously, Pakistan has estimated that no matter what it takes, Riyadh will never allow Shi'ite empowerment to be realized in Bahrain lest it repeats in the oil-rich eastern provinces in Saudi Arabia itself and from Islamabad's point of view, it pays to be with the 'winning side'. There could be many positive spin-offs - greater job opportunities for Pakistani expatriate workers in the PG states, economic assistance from the petrodollar GCC states, oil supplies on concessionary terms, budgetary support for Pakistan's ailing economy and if things go well, a key role in the PG region's security architecture.
But Pakistan is taking a big gamble. Pakistan has a sizeable Shi'ite minority and it is prudent not to take sides in the sectarian strife in another Muslim country when Sunni-Shi'ite tensions are endemic to Pakistan itself. Second, Pakistan is bound to annoy Iran and
other Shi'ite countries in the region, apart from the Shi'ite majority community in Bahrain itself. Third, Pakistan may be overlooking the possibility of the Shi'ite uprising in Bahrain increasingly getting radicalized as time passes and it may get sucked into a protracted internal strife. US Vice-President Joe Biden's phone call to the Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa on Sunday gives an indication that Washington remains unsure that the Saudi-led crackdown is the best means of preventing a dangerous situation from developing as the excessive force may well drive the protest underground or may trigger even a region-wide Sunni-Shi'ite conflagration. Indeed, the calm in Manama is deceptive. A White House statement said, "The vice president recognized the important steps taken by the crown prince to reach out to the opposition and that law and order are necessary in order for a productive dialogue to proceed." But one can never tell the US intentions in the Bahrain situation insofar as its first priority will always be to safeguard the basing facilities of the US' Fifth Fleet.
Pakistan could be estimating that by aligning itself with the "pro-West" Arab oligarchies in the persian Gulf, it serves the US strategic interests as well. In sum, is Pakistan chewing more than it can chew? The prominent Middle East expert
Juan Cole has warned that "Among the Middle East protest movements, that in tiny Bahrain is one of the more momentous".
Turkey learns rules of the game in Iraq
By Seyfeddin Kara

Muffled guffaws would have been an appropriate response from Iraqis to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's claim this week that openness and sincerity have been hallmarks of Turkey's policy towards its neighbor.

Erdogan, along with the usual coterie of business people seeking deals in the growing economy, met Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other senior politicians in a two-day visit. Erdogan had paid two previous visits to his growing neighbor, but the unusual content of his trip from March 28 marked it as a foreign policy event of particular note.

Before flying to Baghdad on Monday afternoon, Erdogan told reporters: "Turkey will continue to support Iraq. We put a lot of effort into improving bilateral relations in many areas with Iraq.

What he went on to say was worthy of derision in Iraq: ''Turkey has been pursuing an open and sincere foreign policy towards Iraq over the past eight years. We tried to provide support to ease the pains of our Iraqi brothers."

While Turkey and Iraq have a growing economic bilateral relationship, Turkey has its own agenda dominated by the Kurdish issue. Ankara's main focus is the prevention of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq, the elimination of attacks on its territory by the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) across the border in northern Iraq, and the protection of a Turkmen minority residing primarily in Mosul and Kirkuk. To forward its political agenda, Turkey has been supporting Turkmens and some Sunni Arab factions located in its orbit.

Unholy alliances
Turkey saw its "opportunity" to support its agenda during last year's elections in Iraq. As a part of a status of forces agreement, the United States will be withdrawing its last troops from Iraq by the end 2011, which would make way for Turkey to increase its influence. But first the right pieces had to be put together to refashion the political landscape of Iraq.

Growing concerns on the part of the United States and Saudi Arabia about the rising influence of Iran in Iraq gave further impetus to the Turkish plan [1]. The US had wanted to strengthen its influence by inaugurating a close ally into the Iraqi government. With the blessing of the US and Saudi Arabia, there seemed to be no obstacle for the Turks to realize their goal.

Turkey embarked on a complex and risky political game during the elections. Under the leadership of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davudoglu, who accompanied Erdogan during his visit this week, Turkish bureaucrats worked behind the scenes on a coalition in which secular nationalist Sunnis and Turkmens were placed at the center.

Inclusion of a secular Shi'ite leader, Iyad Alawi, who held the premiership for 10 months to April 2005, strengthened the plan and gave birth to the al-Iraqiyya coalition. The Turkish, US and Saudi alliance planned that Alawi would lead the coalition and gain a majority to form the next government. With involvement from Turkey, the coalition ran for the election and the campaign went ahead despite protests from the leaders of religious Shi'ite groups who conveyed their messages of discontent to Erdogan and Davudoglu personally. [2]

When the election results were revealed the Turks were taken by surprise. Although al-Iraqiyya came first, it had insufficient seats to form a government. It was close-run and the Turks failed to turn their gains into a political victory. Even after the election, Ankara continued to refuse to listen to the religious Shi'ite groups and Kurds, and instead insisted on forming a government with the leadership of al-Iraqiyya.

According to Cengiz Candar, a prominent Turkish expert on Middle East affairs, Ankara wanted a Sunni president, possibly Tariq al-Hashimi, to replace Kurdish President Jalal Talabani. The Turks have always been suspicious of the Kurds, and believed that Talabani had been plotting for an independent Kurdish state.

An earlier rift between Talabani and Massoud Barzani, the leader of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that administers the predominantly Kurdish north of Iraq, gave false hope to Turkey's policymakers. But the two Kurdish leaders had already resolved their issues and Barzani continued to support Talabani when he needed it the most.

Al-Iraqiyya was doomed not to form the government right from the start. It included ex-Ba'ath members and nationalist Turks and Arabs. The combination the Turks put together was unattractive to both Shi'ites and Kurds; hence the formation of an Iraqi government was delayed for 249 days.

Finally, the Iranians, who have had good relations with all groups and strong influence in certain sections of religious Shi'ite groups, seized the opportunity: the Iranians got the Kurds and Shi'ites to sit around a table and helped them find common ground. A government - headed by Nuri al-Maliki in his second term as prime minister - was formed, but few concessions were given to the al-Iraqiyya coalition.

A second chance
Turkey's intractable attitude angered the Kurds and the Shi'ites. In an interview given to Milliyet, a Turkish-language newspaper, Talabani did not hesitate to express his dismay: "I don't know who is behind this policy but Turkey's policy on Iraq [during the elections] was wrong and it failed. Yes their favorite [candidate] couldn't become prime minister. And their favorites couldn't become president and foreign minister ... They did not support me first but then [when I became president] they congratulated me."

Talabani, known for his skills as a politician, promised cooperation with his disappointed neighbor, while also downplaying Iran's influence in Iraq. Talabani knew how necessary it was for the new government, especially its Kurdish element, to work with Turkey closely for the future and how mutual economic interests and the realities of post-US Iraq were pushing Turks and Kurds together.

Turks also learned their lesson. It was obvious that Erdogan's trip aimed to break the ice with the Shi'ites and Kurds, and to lay a foundation for a new approach to Turkey's foreign policy on Iraq. Turkey seems to have realized that if influence in Iraq is desired, then it needs to overcome obsessions with the "Kurdish threat" and "Shi'ite conspiracy" and work with both groups to nurture mutual interests. This is perhaps why Erdogan became the first Turkish premier to visit Najaf, a power center of Shi'ites, and Irbil, capital of the Kurdish autonomous region.

In line with the policy in its relations with other neighbors, Turkey wants to increase its "soft power" in Iraq. Ankara has been working hard to get maximum benefit from Iraq's economic prosperity and natural resources. Soon after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, an aggressive economic campaign was launched by private Turkish enterprises, especially in closer and more stable northern Iraq. Since then, almost 80% of goods in northern Iraq have been imported from Turkey; the region's trade with Turkey has reached $7.5 billion a year.

On Erdogan's previous visit to Iraq in October, 2009, 48 memoranda of understanding were signed for a more comprehensive economic integration. A senior Turkish official traveling with the business delegation earlier this week announced that Turkey hoped bilateral trade would rise from $7.5 billion last year to $10 billion in 2011 and reach a $25 billion target.

Turkey also has been seeking to become the main route for the export of Iraqi oil and gas, especially for the proposed Nabucco pipeline that goes through northern Iraq to Turkey and on to Europe.

Iraqis are also pleased with the growing economic relations as Turkish construction companies are rebuilding the war-torn country and Turkey is acting as a gateway for the vast energy sources of Iraq for European markets.

Turkey is a major investor in Iraq, especially in the gas sector and it hosts key pipelines for Iraqi oil exports through its port on the Mediterranean, and provides Iraq with electricity. More than 260 Turkish contractors currently operate in Iraq on projects valued at nearly $11 billion. Turkey also means stability; in the current climate of uncertainty and mayhem, securing support of a popular country may give a sense of steadiness to a frail Iraq.

However, the biggest obstacle to closer relations remains the issue of the PKK. Erdogan made this very clear in a speech to Iraqi legislators aired on state television. Understanding the sensitivity of the issue, Maliki signaled a harsher crackdown on the PKK in Iraq by making allusions between the PKK and al-Qaeda. This seemed to raise hopes among members of the Turkish delegation, given their concerns that the PKK's spring campaigns will probably soon begin with the melting of snows on the mountains of southeast Turkey.

Discovering Shi'ites
Erdogan's meeting with the most senior Shi'ite religious leader of Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, was a very important part of the mix on the visit. Erdogan became the first Sunni premier to meet the 80-year-old influential cleric and to pray at Imam Ali Mosque. Although Turkey and Iran have been developing good relations, Turkey had been worried about the increasing influence of Iran in Iraq, and blamed Shi'ites for paving the way for Tehran. Consequently, regardless of their different views on Iran, Turkey has remained aloof to the Shi'ites.

Recent developments, however, are forcing Turkey to think outside of the box. George Friedman, founder of US think-tank Stratfor, made it clear in an interview that Turkey must change its stance:
The US army is leaving Iraq this year, hence the future of Iraq and Iran's ambition to become a dominant power in Iraq directly affect Turkey's national interests. Turkey claims "We don't have any problem with Iran"; yes, they may say this but they cannot ignore the problems regarding the future of Iraq. Turkey will have to come to an understanding [with Iran] as much as possible for the future of Iraq. This might [lead to] Turkey and the US [being] at odds.
Turkey may have already begun to reach for better understanding: As a sign of Turkey's changing policy, Erdogan has been making conspicuous gestures to Shi'ites. A few months ago, he joined the Ashura ceremonies, the most important Shi'ite occasion to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husain, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, held in Istanbul.

Erdogan was the first Turkish leader to attend the ceremonies and to give a speech that was warmly received by Shi'ites all around the world. It has been reported that Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the kingmaker of Iraqi politics, sent a personal message to congratulate Erdogan on his participation.

This month, during the first days of the de facto Saudi invasion of Bahrain to suppress Shi'ite demonstrators, Erdogan warned the Saudis about causing another Kerbala for Shi'ites. Although he soon backtracked under pressure from Riyadh, Erdogan's message was again well received by Shi'ites.

Erdogan's visit to Sistani came as the latest and perhaps the most important development for Turkey's rapprochement with Shi'ites. In the meeting, issues regarding Iraq weren't the only topics under discussion. They talked about regional developments, especially the Saudi invasion of Bahrain. As Khaled al-Jashaami, a member of Najaf's provincial council put it before the meeting took place, "We expect Iraqi issues to be discussed, as well as what is happening in neighboring countries, especially in Bahrain."

The timing of these events suggests that they are calculated moves by the Turks who finally have realized that they should not underestimate the growing significance of Shi'ite influence not only in Iraq but in the whole region.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Empire is clearly re-playing the Bosnian scenario in Libya...

The Empire is clearly re-playing the Bosnian scenario in Libya...

At a time when the Empire is clearly re-playing the Bosnian scenario in Libya, it is extremely important to look back and understand what exactly happened during the war in Bosnia. I am therefore very grateful to F for drawing my attention to the publication of this book and I urge you all to read it with attention and make up your own mind based on facts and logic, not ideology.

The controversy of Srebrenica enters a new phase. There is now a definitive new study in English incorporating the most up to date evidence and presenting a thorough critique of the evidence (or what passed for evidence) that was available previously. It is the monograph prepared by a group of authors and published by Srebrenica Historical Project entitled “Deconstruction of a virtual genocide: An intelligent person’s guide to Srebrenica.”

The guiding concept behind the monograph was to address all the key points in this controversy within the confines of a single readable and well-documented volume. As we have always done since the beginning of our work, we have strived here also to achieve maximum balance and fairness with a minimum of emotion. The banishment of emotion from the discussion of such a highly charged topic as Srebrenica may appear to be a difficult and nearly impossible task. But it is not so daunting after all when it is approached in the right way. The now familiar descent into emotionalism whenever Srebrenica is debated occurs only when the subject is approached by those who have a set agenda. They usually take extreme positions and since their claims are not supported by facts they must resort to emotion, and on occasion even vituperation and ad hominem diatribes, to make up for the shortcomings of their “arguments.”

We are not in that position because we have no agenda, so we also have no need for emotional shortcuts. We are only interested in the truth, whatever in the end it may turn out to be, and that is a goal that we will continue to pursue dispassionately.

Since we are not finished with our task, we cannot draw any final conclusions. But we can suggest some preliminary findings which the evidence that we have seen so far supports strongly. What happened in the region of Srebrenica between 1992 and 1995 was a human tragedy of enormous proportions. Two neighboring communities virtually annihilated each other. There are no winners in the Srebrenica story.

Chronologically, the first community in Srebrenica to be devastated was the Serbs. They were first expelled from the town itself in 1992, then their villages surrounding it were systematically attacked and torched while with medieval barbarity a part of the inhabitants were “put to the sword” and the rest were driven out. When predictably the boomerang returned in 1993 and with even greater ferocity in July of 1995, regrettably it was the turn of the local Bosnian Muslims to suffer. And, indeed, they paid a heavy price for the insane policies of their venal and incompetent leadership.

The controversy which has surrounded the subject of Srebrenica ever since defies rational understanding. There are established core facts about Srebrenica (focusing on July 1995) that all reasonable people can readily agree on: [1] After the fall of Srebrenica to Serbian forces on 11 July, 1995, a substantial number of Muslim prisoners of war were executed, and [2] That massacre was a war crime the perpetrators of which must be identified and punished. The incomprehensible, characteristically Balkan, overkill aspect of the debate is that the Muslim political leadership in Sarajevo insists on imposing its own, politically-driven and dogmatic interpretation of those facts. Notwithstanding the glaring lack of physical evidence after 15 years of assiduous searching, it requires everyone to believe, or at least to hypocritically pretend in public that they believe, that the number of executed prisoners was 8,000. They have also proclaimed it a dogma that the execution of the prisoners was an act of genocide, although – based on the evidence discovered so far – there is nothing to support such a radical interpretation of the massacre. It is for that politically twisted version of Srebrenica that our monograph is meant to serve as a Requiem.

The lunacy of this position should be apparent to everyone whose mind functions on non-Balkan principles. If you want to discredit someone, imputing the killing of a couple of hundred unarmed prisoners is bad enough; you are not going make him look substantially worse by exaggerating the figure tenfold. Likewise, it would seem ultimately futile (not to say ridiculous) to claim “genocide” on the basis of an 8,000 figure, whether it has a factual foundation or not, in a century of real genocides where figures range from 1,5 million (Armenian) to six million (Jewish). Certainly, no court would ever manage to convict the Sarajevo Muslim political leadership on the charge of subtlety.

We have earnestly sought to avoid as many minefields as possible (no pun intended, but readers are kindly requested to turn to Chapter VII of our monograph to understand the reasons for this notice). It was our goal also to sort out as many dilemmas as possible given the current state of Srebrenica evidence. As they always say on such occasions, we now commend the fruit of our labors to our gentle readers and, naturally, we are fully prepared to abide by their judgment.

Finally, we consider it appropriate to offer to our readers the “Introduction” written by former BBC journalist and political analyst, Jonathan Rooper, who has retained a lively interest in the affairs of the former Yugoslavia and in particular the controversy of Srebrenica ever since the Balkan conflicts of the nineties. The monograph “Deconstruction of a virtual genocide: An intelligent person’s guide to Srebrenica” can be downloaded in its entirety from the link which is at the end of Mr. Rooper’s piece.


One question that anybody who takes up the critical study of the regnant narrative of the "Srebrenica massacre" always faces is ‘why?’

As a field of research and inquiry, hasn't the basic outline of the events that befell the Srebrenica ‘safe-area’ population after the enclave was captured by the Bosnian Serb army on 11 July 1995 been well-established since the second-half of that year, when Western reporters such as the Christian Science Monitor's David Rohde allegedly stumbled upon a ‘decomposing human leg protruding from the freshly turned dirt’ in a landscape that, Rohde claimed, he recognized from ‘spy-satellite photos’ that had been faxed to him just days before by ‘American officials’?

Why then would it occur to someone to challenge what appears to be well-known about the ‘Srebrenica massacre’? And why should this task be of interest and importance to anyone outside survivors and a relatively small coterie of fanatics?

The critical study of the ‘Srebrenica massacre’ that Stephen Karganović collects in this volume is important because, taken as a whole, they show that within a very brief period of time – no longer than a handful of weeks - what had originated in self-serving wartime propaganda and whispers about an atrocity that symbolized Serb evil, became institutionalized as The Truth, effectively removing the actual event from inquiry, and placing it under seal in a sacrosanct realm of myth where it has flourished ever since.

Initially generated by a nexus between the NATO-bloc powers that had intervened on behalf of the Bosnian Muslim and Croat sides in the civil wars that destroyed the unitary Yugoslavia, and Western news media and human rights organizations committed to proving the veracity of this wartime propaganda, the myth of the ‘Srebrenica massacre’ has been re-institutionalized with every Srebrenica-related judgment at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (e.g., Krstic in August 2001) as well as the International Court of Justice (February 2007).

As this book reminds us, it serves also as a "mass mobilization vehicle" every year during the 11 July internment ceremony at the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial and Cemetery for the Victims of the 1995 Genocide, where yet new layers of propaganda are laid upon the propaganda of the earlier years.

It is of course also one of the two most frequently cited symbolic bloodbaths in the Western canon (the other being Rwanda 1994) whenever someone invokes the ‘Never again’ imperative of the Nazi holocaust to urge the great powers towards ‘humanitarian intervention’, the ‘responsibility to protect’, and most recently ‘mass atrocity response operations’.

Because this ‘Srebrenica massacre’, with its alleged 8,000 victims, conformed so well to framework of what could be expected from the monster Serbs held responsible for the wars, very few inquiries into the real, if far smaller, massacres and executions carried out against the males of the fleeing ‘safe area’ population have ever been undertaken.

This is why the critical study of the ‘Srebrenica massacre’ undertaken here is vital and stands as a far more honest tribute to these real victims than does the vast literature which it challenges and helps to overturn.

There is a further pertinent question to answer: why has it taken so long for the core facts about Srebrenica, so clearly expressed in this book, to be collected in this way?

The answer comes in two parts. First, the process of international investigation and prosecution was very slow and much of the ‘evidence’ supporting the judgments handed down by the ICTY was not revealed in any form until years after the events.

Second, few people have tried to make an independent assessment of what happened. For example, of all the journalists who have ever written or broadcast about Srebrenica, only a handful appear to have made any real efforts to investigate the official account. It has, as a result, been solely through the efforts of a loose collaboration of individuals around the world that we now have a thorough analysis of what happened in July 1995.

Predictably, many attacks have been made on these people. They have been repeatedly accused of genocide denial. Serious attempts have been made, in Europe and elsewhere, to criminalize their investigative efforts.

The collaborations which have finally led to the publication of this book have developed almost entirely by chance. In the UK a number of us began to collect reports and broadcasts, building a chronology of events and a background database. We did this separately at first, but by 1995, thanks to the former “Observer” journalist Nora Beloff, a group of us were in touch with one another, exchanging information and ideas.

We had become quite an efficient monitoring machine by the time the Bosnian Serb Army took control of Srebrenica in July 1995. We archived hundreds of reports. As we went along, we noted many pieces of information which conflicted with the consensus narrative in the media in the UK, the USA and Europe.

We were conscious of Srebrenica’s short-term political importance in drawing attention away from the US-backed invasion of Krajina and the final abandonment of the international ‘neutrality’, which led to the ending of the civil wars and the terms imposed at Dayton in November. But we did not yet foresee the full extent to which the ‘Srebrenica massacre’ would become the most complete symbol of Serbian evil in the Balkan conflicts. Our work was therefore much more widely focused until at least 1997, and was further diverted by the Kosovo war in 1999.

Our network was gradually expanding. Through the internet, people researching aspects of the Balkan conflicts eventually became aware of each other and often made contacts that would lead to new partnerships.

One such development was the Srebrenica Research Group[1] an international collective brought together by Professor Edward Herman in the summer of 2003. This was not only a platform for the free exchange of knowledge, information and ideas, but a determined attempt to investigate exactly what had happened on the basis of academic rigor.

The work of the group was exciting and, I think, highly productive. The outcome was in my opinion about the best analysis that could be made on the basis of available information. Our constraint was that we had no resources beyond the limited amounts of our own time we could devote to Srebrenica research. And we certainly had no means of carrying out our own fundamental investigations.

In September 2008 I was contacted by Stephen Karganović, who had recently set up the Srebrenica Historical Project. Based in Holland, this organization had secured funding to mount conferences and to commission its own investigations and expert analysis of key questions about Srebrenica.

The extent and quality of the work done by the SHP since that time has been remarkable. In a little over two years they have taken on a range of challenges that would daunt the most skilled data crunchers. I believe this work has rewritten the Srebrenica narrative decisively.

The purpose of this Introduction is not to summarize the many revelations published on the pages that follow. It is, rather, to commend this book in the strongest terms. This collection demonstrates that the stories about ‘the worst war crime in Europe since the 2nd World War’ are fictions, unrelated to what took place.

It is vital that the unadorned truth about the Balkan conflicts should be freed from the lies and misrepresentations that have characterized the first draft of this history. Only then can there be some kind of genuine process of truth and reconciliation in the aftermath of the Balkan wars. This work provides a platform from which such a process can begin.

==>>Book can be downloaded from this location: CLICK<<==

Jonathan Rooper

Jonathan Rooper was a BBC TV News & Current Affairs journalist from 1983 – 1999.
On Libya....
These two clowns - Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron - looking all macho, with fire in their eyes, making all sorts of threats against Gaddafi and the sight of these two corporate suits trying to sound marital just made me sick to my guts....

It was like watching a bad remake of the movie "Dubya and his poodle Blair".

At the fall of the Berlin wall, NATO was left without a mission and without any kind of justification or rationale for its existence. The wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo gave it a new purpose: to enforce the US colonial rule in Europe. At that time Russian politicians were moaning and whining about how they had been lied to (which they had) and how NATO had no other purpose. Then came the disgraceful wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in which NATO was essentially defeated. Well, guess what? Russia just gave NATO its own little "Grenada" - a feel good mission which cannot fail (the Libyan military is really a joke) and which will grant corporate suits like Obama and Cameron their "macho credentials" (very important for Imperial leaders).

In the meantime, Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky are bitching in Moscow, but who cares about what these two clowns have to say?

As for the folks celebrating in Benghazi, they remind me of the short-sighted Bosnian-Muslims celebrating their imminent 'independence' (ha!) in Sarajevo just before all hell broke loose: all they will get is a bloodbath and a re-colonization by the USA.

Camp Bondsteel v2.0, Libya.

What is wrong with these people?! Can they really not learn from history? Must they really repeat the same tragic mistakes over and over again?

Sickening. And totally depressing.

I have to admit that on days like today I am thoroughly disgusted by mankind.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

House of Saud 'liberates' Bahrain.....first Saudi soldier shot dead ain't lookin good....Obama Administration is morally bankrupt ...

House of Saud 'liberates' Bahrain.....first Saudi soldier shot dead ain't lookin good....!!!!
By Pepe Escobar

United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits Bahrain to meet King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa on Saturday. Saudi Arabia invades Bahrain on Monday. This has got to be just a coincidence; Gates and the king were obviously discussing the fortunes of Ferrari and MacLaren in the (postponed) Formula 1 Grand Prix in Bahrain....

Moreover, this walks like an invasion, talks like an invasion, but it's not really an invasion, as White House spokesman Jay Carney confidently reassured world public opinion. It helps that said opinion happened to be conveniently narcotized, transfixed by the heartbreaking post-tsunami drama in Japan to the point of ignoring some distant rumblings in a tiny Gulf kingdom.

Let's imagine that neo-Napoleonic French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio "Bunga Bunga" Berlusconi decided to send North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops to help not the Libyan rebels but Muammar "King of Kings" Gaddafi to protect his "sensitive installations". After all, as Gaddafi assured the world, these rebels are "terrorists".

That's exactly what happened with the House of Saud sending armored carriers, tanks and 1,000 troops - part of "Peninsula Shield" forces - to Bahrain to repress an unarmed, civilian, domestic opposition (al-Qaeda or Iran "terrorists", take your pick) demanding political reform.

While the whole West - plus the Arab League - was involved in the dead-end no-fly zone debate concerning Libya, the Gulf neighbors ensured an all-drive zone through the causeway linking Saudi Arabia to Bahrain's capital Manama. Gates must have been jet-lagged to oblivion; he had said he was convinced the al-Khalifas "are serious about serious reform".

"The US and world community must show they will not stand by while this thug al-Khalifa uses tank power to murder fellow Bahrainis."

Substitute Gaddafi for al-Khalifa, airpower for tank power, and Libyans for Bahrainis, and these are the exact words pronounced in outrage by US Senator John Kerry. But outrage is for the "thug" in Libya; the al-Khalifa and the Saudis are our "valuable allies".

One thing is already certain. These two paragons of equanimity - the House of Saud and the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty - have just helped to reconfigure a peaceful mass movement towards a constitutional monarchy in Bahrain into a full-fledged revolution. The ignominy extends to auditioning for mercenaries in Lahore, Pakistan; the al-Khalifa's methods are Gaddafi's methods (see the details
here ). Bahrain's revolutionaries will now settle for nothing less than the overthrow of the al-Khalifas.

Time to call the cavalry
Whatever the spin, Saudi Arabia could not have invaded Bahrain without Washington's assent (and this even after Gates told the al-Khalifas there was "no evidence" the bogeyman, Iran, "started any of these popular revolutions or demonstrations across the region".)

Both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are Washington's solid client states. Details of Bahrain's subservience, especially to the Pentagon, abound in WikiLeaks cables -
here, here and here. There's also this one here laying down the law; "As the smallest Gulf state, Bahrain has historically needed closer security ties with a Western patron than any of its neighbors ... we can use our close security ties with Bahrain to continue pushing the envelope for GCC-US security cooperation."

GCC is the Gulf Cooperation Council, the US-protected umbrella of regional paradises on Earth (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates). Since the start of the protests in the Pearl/Lulu roundabout in Manama, Bahrain has revealed itself to be the GCC's weak link; a 70% Shi'ite majority living as third-class citizens under a corrupt 200-year-old Sunni dynasty.

If the pro-democracy movement succeeds in Bahrain, the next in line will certainly be the minority Shi'ites in the eastern oil provinces of Saudi Arabia (which had their "Day of Rage" last Friday). That, in the long run, could spell out anything from the end of Bahrain as a prime parking lot space for the US 5th Fleet to the end of Saudi Arabia's "stability" - the other pillar, along with the Egypt, of US foreign policy in the Middle East since the 1970s.

Once again, it's the al-Khalifa regime that has sought a clash. Bahraini journalists and tweets tell the campaign of civil disobedience was stepped up this Sunday, with roadblocks set up across the highway in front of the Bahrain Financial Harbor. The police fired tear gas; then followed protesters to the Pearl roundabout, launching stun grenades, more tear gas, and possibly using live ammunition. Street battles ensued. Bahrainis tweeted the crackdown offered images similar to those on the bridge near Tahrir Square in Cairo when Hosni Mubarak had ordered the Internet all across Egypt to be shut down.

Meanwhile, in the University of Bahrain - the largest public university in the kingdom - protesters were attacked by al-Khalifa loyalists. According to eyewitnesses, many pick-ups carrying baltajiyya (thugs)- a la the last days of Mubarak - a lot of them masked, entered the campus with sticks and swords and attacked protesters. And once again, the government used mercenaries against Bahrainis; this is generating a worrying series of revenge attacks on South Asian residents.

This is all essential to debunk the Western corporate media narrative of "violent protests" that must be "contained" by Saudi intervention. It is the al-Khalifas who are fostering violence - a la Mubarak. To top it off - another cheap stunt - Western media were "invited" to leave the country on Monday, so as not to report on the Saudi invasion.

The frightened al-Khalifas did call the cavalry - in the form of Saudi tanks and troops. The House of Saud - as the GCC's top dog - was just itching for such a fight; if France and Britain are itching to intervene in Libya, what would prevent Saudis from intervening in Bahrain? Western corporate media depicting "Saudi Arabia's reluctant emergence as the key regional policeman" is nothing but cosmic disinformation; there's nothing "reluctant" about it, it's a question of fear mixed with ruthlessness, as in the survival of both repressive regimes at stake.

To compound the advanced wave of hypocrisy, while Europe debated no-fly in Libya the House of Saud came up with its "all-drive" and sped to Manama in the dead of night. al-Wefaq, the largest Shi'ite party in Bahrain, now describes Saudi Arabia as an occupation force. Imagine the outrage in the "international community" - and the calls to start carpet-bombing right away - if this was Iran invading Lebanon.

No fly? No; no drive
By the way, GCC members - also part of the Arab League - support no-fly in Libya (not because they love the eastern Libya revolutionaries, but because they hate Gaddafi's guts). Yet abandon all hope those who expect the Barack Obama administration to support a no-drive zone in Bahrain (for Saudi tanks).

Great swathes of Arab public opinion are absolutely right on the money; Western elites are staging just an illusion of action in Libya. The objective is to create a firewall between the revolutions in northern Africa and the repressive Gulf petro-monarchy clients. No fly against "evil" Gaddafi? Why not? No drive against strategic Saudi Arabia? Don't even think about it.

The West really doesn't care much about a bunch of kids with guns in Libya, those that have been grabbing a Kalashnikov and wrapping a keffiyah (checkered scarf) around their heads, rushing to the front in sports utility vehicles to fight for a better life. Yet this is Homage to Catalonia revisited, George Orwell on the Spanish Civil War, with Benghazi as the new Barcelona - an outburst of revolutionary fervor that may be crushed by the heavy weaponry of a northern African neo-fascist army.

Yet a no-fly zone in Libya won't change a single fact on the ground. A game-changer would be to support the eastern Libyan council to force a no-drive zone on Gaddafi's tanks and armored personnel carriers; and to arm the rebels with weapons and intelligence. That's exactly what they're asking of the West (and not a North Atlantic Treaty Organization invasion). So the first step would be for the Obama administration to immediately recognize the "rebels" as the legitimate government of Libya. Then cause havoc on Gaddafi's communications system (a cakewalk for the Pentagon). And then tell the rebels what Gaddafi's command and control are up to. All this at virtually zero cost - and no US boots on the ground.

Invading you softly with my tanks
While the pro-government daily al-Ayyam talked about hundreds of Bahrainis "welcoming the Saudi forces", Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, Bahrain's answer to Saif al-Gaddafi (the relative "modernizer") still talks of dialogue, including electoral reform, "a government representing popular will", investigations on corruption and the end of "political naturalizations" (Bahrain naturalizes scores of Sunnis to dilute the Shi'ite political representation).

The absolute majority of the population doesn't believe a word of it anymore. Not with the Medieval House of Saud having supported Mubarak to the end, welcoming Tunisia's Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali as an exile, supporting Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen and now invading Bahrain - with the White House virtually begging Riyadh to pump just a little more oil to make up for the shortfall in Libya.

Everything one needs to know about the House of Saud is in these words by Minister of Interior Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz, King Abdullah's half-brother and the de facto Minister of Pain. On the oily family hacienda having survived this past Friday's "Day of Rage", Prince Nayef said, "Some evil people wanted to spread chaos in the kingdom and called for demonstrations that have dishonorable goals." But in the end the House of Saud managed to thwart this "deeply nefarious plot". They certainly did; just in time to invade a neighbor.

Saddam Hussein must be kicking himself in his tomb. If only he'd been slightly more subtle while invading Kuwait (which, by the way, was part of Iraq before the British Empire decided it wasn't). There would have been no no fly zone, no shock and awe, no US wasting a trillion dollars, and on top of it he'd be hailed today as a pillar of "stability" in the Middle East, as well as a "valuable ally". As valuable as those irrepressible democrats, the al-Khalifas and the House of Saud. ....

Disinfo from CFR....

The signals have been given. The Obama Administration is morally bankrupt because its leader is....

Morale is a valuable commodity and the last Administration used it up....

Our benevolent exporters of finished goods in the East have met their Waterloo, and our benevolent exporters of oil in the Middle East have met theirs...

A perfect storm.....

Looks like we are nearly there.... 1848 in Europe? (look it up). A wave of insurrections not connected except for a general desire for greater opportunity, Is this it? Clinton as Metternich? That would seem strange. What price loyalty?

Saudi troops in Bahrain, Salih resolute in Sanaa. Qaddafi advancing in Libya....

This sounds to me as though the "dog whistles' have sounded in Washington. Stability over all!! Whose whistles are these?

- Oil companies...

- Israel...[ The CIA/MOSSAD/AMAN/DIA Siamese Twins...]

- The Arab despots...

- State Department gutlessness....and utter corruption to the core....

- US Armed forces unwillingness to do more (read moral illiteracy...)-

- US Civilian unwillingness to do more (read "I've been bull shitted too often")

You are on your own in Arabia....MENA and Beyond....

Here is how I sum it up about the USA....

1. The United States has been a patron power of the status quo. In the current setting, we are transformed into a reactionary power. All and sundry from the Arab 'street' to the Arab divan see that. Only the American political class doesn't. Only they believe that jerry-built structure is seismic resistant.

2. The underlying reason is our three obsessions: Terrorism, Iran and Israel - as alluded to in an earlier post. Nothing that is happening has made the slightest qualification in that mindset. Hence, we quietly bless Mr. Saleh and the Bahraini royal family as we did Mr. Suleiman and the fading memory of the dying Mr. Mubarak. Mr. Gates did not fly to Bahrain to bid a fond farewell to anyone but rather to be in on the establishment of a GCC protectorate to keep those Iran inspired Shi'ites in their deferential place. From now all, all our rhetoric bout democracy & freedom in the region will cause acute digestive revulsion....

For a decade, we have looked like players of a bizarre arcade video game where the goal is to shoot yourself in the foot as many times as possible. Extra points for a disabling injury. At this pastime, we are nonpareils....

In response to a question, "That [establishing a new modernism with freedom and economy] seems unlikely does it not? "

The short response is that the establishment of a new modernism is probably unlikely, but there may be hope.

I have been to MENA.... and, I have watched hours and hours of interviews with very modern Middle Easterners who have a deep hunger for freedom. I have seen hours and hours in the last few weeks of young people speak their desires for a modern world where their nations are not totally backwatered. I have seen the fall of the Soviet Empire with mixed results--some nations becoming really free and modern while others lapsed into dictatorships. I have read hundreds of blog posts written by people from the MENA countries who seem to exhibit the core values necessary to create a modern society in MENA. I have spent hours talking with friends who have come from Iran, Lebanon, and Palestine who have the values and education of an educated middle class that could support a more modern MENA unburdened by the radicalism many fear.

My sense is that there is a near-critical cultural mass that could support some sort of new modernism for the region.

I have been an amateur radio operator for many years. During the Soviet era, Amateur Radio was a very popular sport in the USSR. When I first started making radio contacts with the Russians, all they would speak about was their rigs, the weather, and radio propagation. Never would anyone ever speak about politics or anything that was a comment on their society because a radio operator would be sanctioned and lose his ability just to speak to the outside world. As Gorbachov began to come into his own, with the concepts of glasnost and perestroika, things began to open up. The code word Glasnost ("openness") had great power. Suddenly, I was listening into and participating in some really profound conversations. Russians were openly talking about how they wanted disarmament and how they had long ago turned against nuclear weapons. [I had been taught from elementary school that the Russians wanted to blow up the world.] They began talking about how their societies were changing and their personal hopes and fears. Then, almost overnight, Soviet communism collapsed and these people began moving toward a much more open society.

The old Soviet system simply broke. It broke not only at the bottom and with the educated middle class, it broke at the highest level and all other levels. The people of the USSR simply decided collectively that communism did not work and they were no longer going to follow its rules. The collapse of the Idea was complete, finished. The building of a much more open society began. The current Russian government is not perfect, but it is much better than before if you are young enough to participate. For the old pensioners and the displaced it, like all capitalist systems, had been very difficult.

Earlier, the contradictions of the Czarist state collapsed at the beginning of the last century. The 1917 Revolution was a disaster for 70 years, but it finally the revolution against the Czarists ended in 1989 and 1990 with a modicum of modern freedom. As TTG remarked on an earlier post, revolutions take time. Our own took a full generation or more and the French took decades.

In Turkey, Attaturk created a new paradigm of modernism upon the fall of the Ottoman Empire and fought and won against the Allied forces to create the modern Turkish state.

In each of these cases and for a long line of other historic revolutions, old paradigms fall and new ones are created by the emergence of code words that provide tools for people to use to conform their tacit and explicit realities. I am impressed by the words of a young woman protester in Egypt who stated to the effect, "We are not Muslims or Copts, we are Egyptians! We want to be free of the dictator and the corrupt ones." This is a powerful thought that the nation's bounty should be shared and that no one has the right to create a police state.

In our revolution, the code words shouted at the Boston Tea Party was "No taxation without representation," "freedom of the press and speech," and "Liberty." At King's Mountain, if was "Give 'em Tarleton's Quarter!" and "Give them Buford's play." My guess is that if you got a half-dozen patriots together to define these terms, there might have been fisticuffs, but as long as no one was too specific those terms united and freed a people.

I see the necessary language or organizing code words developing. These words will resonate at all levels of the authoritarian governments, even in Saudi Arabia, and especially if there is a brutal reprisal for the uprisings. Sooner or later, in the face of modern communications, the language will begin to emerge.

The fundamental Idea that countries belong to the people, all of the people, and not to families is emerging in MENA from a long dormancy in Islamic thought. I do not know Arabic, so I cannot pick up the lingo, but there is evidence in English that it is emerging. Once the Idea that no family or small group of families can own a country and that a country is owned by all of its people becomes imbedded in the tacit perception of the People, the Authoritarian regimes will fall on their own. Perhaps this is already happening in Egypt and in Tunisia. The Idea is pregnant and cannot be aborted by any crackdown. It may be ready for birth or may need more time for gestation, but the idea now seems fully to impregnate the MENA cultures. Like a human birth, once started, the birth of the new Idea is an urgent and non-stoppable event.

The system of authoritarianism is breaking in the MENA states including in Iran. The old system of Islamist Monarchs and old-line Islamist states seems to be nearing the end.

As Americans and westerners, we must be vigilant to the linguistic emergence that gives the people of the region a tool to reframe their reality. Our present government, particularly the Republicans and those within the White House and within the Beltway are simply tone deaf as we auger our own polity into the ground by moving towards a more authoritarian mode.

Contrary to the common lie that a more surveyed and controlled society will make us more free. Obama and the Republicans are simply moving our country in the wrong direction. They have perfected the legal infrastructure of a fully totalitarian and authoritarian corporatist society if the “leaders” ever decide to turn on the people. With the Fortune 400 most wealthy in the US owning more wealth than the bottom half of all citizens, our wealth distribution is becoming more and more skewed. The information distributed by the highly concentrated mainstream media is simply Pabulum. Real information about the actual functioning of our government is very hard to come by. National elections after Citizens United conducted on totally hackable electronic voting machines are more and more a joke. [I had a conversation about the voting machines one time with one of the Carter Center people who monitor elections who opined that our election system would not come close to the standards they apply when they monitor elections] We are rapidly developing a security police in the DHS that is going to extremes "trying to keep us safe" while conditioning us behaviorally to be quite submissive. We are creating a large underclass of uneducated and unemployable youth as the Republicans and Tea Partiers do everything they can do to destroy public education. We have forgotten that the reason we have government and are taxed to run it is because government mediates the rampant greed and selfishness of the polity. These trends are having very negative consequences on our future and current liberty.

While the MENA people struggle to move from authoritarianism, we in the US, rush rapidly toward a fully corporatist corrupt society more perfectly surveyed and, perhaps soon, more perfectly controlled in the finest detail than ever in history.

I hope that there is some likelihood of a more moderate MENA, but the chances remain slim as long as men like Obama, Pelosi, Reid, McConnell, and Boehner have much to do with it. They seem irrevocably to be on the side of the monarchical families at home and abroad.

We live in interesting times....

Friday, March 11, 2011

End of an era: Will Israel be wanded , 'sold'...or crushed?"

A new Turkish satellite has Israelis eyeing the end of a U.S.-backed blackout on high-resolution commercial photography of their turf from space.The GokTurk satellite due in orbit by 2013 will sell images of objects more detailed than 2 meters across -- currently the finest grain available when it comes to pictures of Israel, thanks mainly to U.S. legislation from the 1990s. Turkey's leap into the aerospace market treads on Israeli security sensitivities given the former allies' recently strained ties. Unlike with other nations that have fielded commercial satellites, Israel has little leverage over Ankara. "We try to ensure that we are not photographed at high resolutions, and most [countries] accommodate us," a senior Israeli defense official said. "Should we request this of the Turks? We won't ask for it. There is no one to talk to." ........Turkey, whose Islamist-rooted government froze relations with Israel after its deadly raid on a Gaza aid ship last year, has shown no interest in veiling the Jewish state from GokTurk. "We decide how to use the images taken by our satellite," an unnamed Turkish official told the newspaper Today's Zaman....
The Israeli official said such measures helped prevent "sensitive material falling into the hands of terrorists". Israel also frets about its nuclear facilities and other secretive projects becoming too open to public scrutiny......"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Basic Information About How the Brain Works and how easy it is to manipulate us all....

Because of bugs in the way our brains work, it is easy to manipulate us....

For example, social proof is the well-known principle stating that many people will believe something if most other people believe it. And see this.

In other words, we have a herd instinct. So if marketers, advertisers or propagandists convince us that most people believe something (even if they actually don't), we'll tend to believe it too.

Psychiatrists and behavioral economists tell us that this is true with investing, as well. Our brains are hardwired to "follow the herd" of investors. Since most investors lose money playing the markets, you don't want to follow the herd.

A study by Barber and Odeon (Journal of Finance, 2000) shows that an average household with an account at a large discount brokerage firm underperforms by an average 15 basis points per month based on the "efficient market" model. This is based on gross returns before expenses. The study also found that the average individual investor would have been better off by not trading.

Indeed, many savvy traders speak of "trading against the dumb money", meaning trading against the majority of people who follow herd instincts and lose money.

Why is the herd so bad at investing? Well, as Paul Farrell wrote last year:

In Mean Markets & Lizard Brains, former Goldman trader Terry Burnham says our primitive [or "lizard"] brain was designed to help our ancestors hunt for food, daily survival stuff.

But “by its very nature, investing requires us to be forward looking, to anticipate events. Our lizard brains, however, are designed to look backward. Thus, the lizard brain causes us to be optimistic at market peaks (after rises) and to be pessimistic at market bottoms (after falls).” So whether it’s optimism or pessimism, greed or fear, your emotions do your investing, not reasoning and logic—and you can’t trust them.


Burnham’s summary: “We need to precisely restrain our instincts in order to make money. Unlike neural games of chance, or ancestral problems like gathering and hunting, financial success means suppressing our ‘gut’ instincts.”

Top investors like Kyle Bass like to quote Charles Mackay on this point:

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

Speaking of senses, the founder of the field of social psychology showed that the opinions of one's group affect one's own physical sensations. As Wikipedia notes:

In an otherwise totally dark room, a small dot of light is shown on a wall, and after a few moments, the dot appears to move. This effect is entirely inside-the-head, and results from the complete lack of "frame of reference" for the movement. Three participants enter the dark room, and watch the light. It appears to move, and the participants are asked to estimate how far the dot of light moves. These estimates are made out loud, and with repeated trials, each group of three converges on an estimate. Some groups converged on a high estimate, some low, and some in-between. The critical finding is that groups found their own level, their own "social norm" of perception. This occurred naturally, without discussion or prompting.

When invited back individually a week later and tested alone in the dark room, participants replicated their original groups' estimates. This suggests that the influence of the group was informational rather than coercive; because they continued to perceive individually what they had as members of a group, Sherif concluded that they had internalized their original group's way of seeing the world. Because the phenomenon of the autokinetic effect is entirely a product of a person's own perceptual system, this study is evidence of how the social world pierces the person's skin, and affects the way they understand their own physical and psychological sensations.

As fear makes people stupid and prone to bend over backwards and justify the actions of the powerful:

Sociologists from four major research institutions investigated why so many Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, years after it became obvious that IRAQ had nothing to do with 9/11....

The researchers found, as described in an article in the journal Sociological Inquiry (and re-printed by Newsweek):

  • Many Americans felt an urgent need to seek justification for a war already in progress
  • Rather than search rationally for information that either confirms or disconfirms a particular belief, people actually seek out information that confirms what they already believe.
  • "For the most part people completely ignore contrary information."
  • "The study demonstrates voters' ability to develop elaborate rationalizations based on faulty information"
  • People get deeply attached to their beliefs, and form emotional attachments that get wrapped up in their personal identity and sense of morality, irrespective of the facts of the matter.
  • "We refer to this as 'inferred justification, because for these voters, the sheer fact that we were engaged in war led to a post-hoc search for a justification for that war.
  • "People were basically making up justifications for the fact that we were at war"
  • "They wanted to believe in the link [between 9/11 and Iraq] because it helped them make sense of a current reality. So voters' ability to develop elaborate rationalizations based on faulty information, whether we think that is good or bad for democratic practice, does at least demonstrate an impressive form of creativity.
An article yesterday in AlterNet discussing the Sociological Inquiry article helps us to understand that the key to people's active participation in searching for excuses for actions by the big boys is fear:
Subjects were presented during one-on-one interviews with a newspaper clip of this Bush quote: "This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaeda."

The Sept. 11 Commission, too, found no such link, the subjects were told.

"Well, I bet they say that the commission didn't have any proof of it," one subject responded, "but I guess we still can have our opinions and feel that way even though they say that."

Reasoned another: "Saddam, I can't judge if he did what he's being accused of, but if Bush thinks he did it, then he did it."

Others declined to engage the information at all. Most curious to the researchers were the respondents who reasoned that Saddam must have been connected to Sept. 11, because why else would the Bush Administration have gone to war in Iraq?

The desire to believe this was more powerful, according to the researchers, than any active campaign to plant the idea.

Such a campaign did exist in the run-up to the war...

He won't credit [politicians spouting misinformation] alone for the phenomenon, though.

"That kind of puts the idea out there, but what people then do with the idea ... " he said. "Our argument is that people aren't just empty vessels. You don't just sort of open up their brains and dump false information in and they regurgitate it. They're actually active processing cognitive agents"...

The alternate explanation raises queasy questions for the rest of society.

"I think we'd all like to believe that when people come across disconfirming evidence, what they tend to do is to update their opinions," said Andrew Perrin, an associate professor at UNC and another author of the study...

"The implications for how democracy works are quite profound, there's no question in my mind about that," Perrin said. "What it means is that we have to think about the emotional states in which citizens find themselves that then lead them to reason and deliberate in particular ways."

Evidence suggests people are more likely to pay attention to facts within certain emotional states and social situations. Some may never change their minds. For others, policy-makers could better identify those states, for example minimizing the fear that often clouds a person's ability to assess facts ...

The AlterNet article links to a must-read interview with psychology professor Sheldon Solomon, who explains:

A large body of evidence shows that momentarily [raising fear of death], typically by asking people to think about themselves dying, intensifies people's strivings to protect and bolster aspects of their worldviews, and to bolster their self-esteem. The most common finding is that [fear of death] increases positive reactions to those who share cherished aspects of one's cultural worldview, and negative reactions toward those who violate cherished cultural values or are merely different.

And once people form a belief, it can be almost impossible to get them to change their beliefs ... even if confronted with contradictory information.

As NPR noted last July:

New research suggests that misinformed people rarely change their minds when presented with the facts — and often become even more attached to their beliefs.


A new body of research out of the University of Michigan suggests ... that we base our opinions on beliefs and when presented with contradictory facts, we adhere to our original belief even more strongly.

The phenomenon is called backfire, and it plays an especially important role in how we shape and solidify our beliefs on immigration, the president's place of birth, welfare and other highly partisan issues.


It's threatening to us to admit that things we believe are wrong. And all of us, liberals and conservatives, you know, have some beliefs that aren't true, and when we find that out, you know, it's threatening to our beliefs and ourselves.


This isn't a question of education, necessarily, or sophistication. It's really about, it's really about preserving that belief that we initially held.

Investors, consumers and citizens have no chance - and will become easy prey to those who are trying to sell us snake oil - unless we arm ourselves with a basic understanding of how our brains work....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Roger Cohen WILLFULLY ignores the well known deeds of the ASSAD Mafia in Damascus...

Roger Cohen WILLFULLY ignores the well known deeds of the ASSAD Mafia in Damascus...

Libyan Closure...? What closure is Mr. Cohen talking about, when he WILLFULLY ignores the well known deeds of the ASSAD Mafia in Damascus, which include dozens of assassinations in Lebanon, the butchery of the Assads at HAMA in 1982...the complicity in the Panam 103 Bombing at Lockerbie and dozens of joint covert actions with CIA/MOSSAD for decades...., the brutality of the Jordanian Mafia in Amman, the wahhabi, salafi Saudi family of puppets, and the extra-judicial assassinations of the infamous White House Murder INC, in the Levant since January 24th 2002..., and the US war crimes since 1998....with PNAC designs, the Clean Break etc....

LONDON — There’s a video of Dr. Alia Brahimi of the London School of Economics greeting Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi as “Brother Leader” at the school three months ago, and presenting him with an L.S.E. cap — a tradition, she says, that started when the cap was handed to Nelson Mandela.

It may be possible to sink to greater depths but right now I can’t think how.

Sir Howard Davies, the director of the L.S.E., had the decency to resign over the school’s financial links to Qaddafi and his own misjudgments. If only the L.S.E. were an isolated case. The Arab Spring is also a Western Winter.

I’m glad the United States and Europe have gotten behind the Bahrain-to-Benghazi awakening. But I’ve not heard enough self-criticism.

Hearings should be held in the U.S. Congress and throughout Western legislatures on these questions: How did we back, use and encourage the brutality of Arab dictators over so many years? To what degree did that cynical encouragement of despots foster the very jihadist rage Western societies sought to curb?

The West has long known what the likes of Qaddafi and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak did. Hisham Matar, the acclaimed Libyan novelist, has a new novel out called “Anatomy of a Disappearance.” His father, Jaballa, disappeared in 1990, abducted from his Cairo apartment by Egyptian security agents who handed him over to Libya.

For more than a decade there has been no trace of this cultured man, a former diplomat last seen in Tripoli’s notorious Abu Salim prison. His crime was belief in democracy and freedom. He has vanished leaving a fine novelist aching for closure, demanding — if his father is dead — “to know how, where and when it happened.”

There you have the Cairo-Tripoli axis. They were useful, Mubarak and Qaddafi, for intelligence and renditions and a cold Israeli peace in the case of the Egyptian; for oil and gas in the case of the Libyan. They were also killers.

Disappear is a transitive verb for dictators. That’s what they do to foes, disappear them in the night for questioning that becomes a nameless forever.

No law governs these captives’ fate. They vanish — and then they are tossed into mass graves. Qaddafi massacred over 1,000 political prisoners at Abu Salim in June 1996. Was Jaballa Matar among them?

It’s important to have names. The skulls in the sand were once sentient beings who screamed for justice.

The entire Western world has been complicit in the pain of Hisham Matar, whose first novel “In the Country of Men” was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The West has embraced every Arab dictator now being toppled by the people they starved of rights and life itself.

Matar told The New Yorker this was “an appropriate moment for Americans to reflect on how they have for three decades allowed their elected officials to support a dictatorship as ruthless as Mubarak’s. To ask, for example, what are the reasons that have motivated the current vice president of the United States to say, as recently as Jan. 27, that Mubarak is no dictator.”

I think Joseph Biden might answer that question.

There are many reasons I oppose a Western military intervention in Libya: the bitter experience of Iraq; the importance of these Arab liberation movements being homegrown; the ease of going in and difficulty of getting out; the accusations of Western pursuit of oil that will poison the terrain; the fact that two Western wars in Muslim countries are enough.

But the deepest reason is the moral bankruptcy of the West with respect to the Arab world. Arabs have no need of U.S. or European soldiers as they seek the freedom that America and the European Union were content to deny them. Qaddafi can be undermined without Western military intervention. He cannot prevail: Some officer will eventually make that plain.

Timothy Garton Ash, in his book “Facts are Subversive,” quotes the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz who wrote:

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.

You may kill him — another will be born.

Deeds and words shall be recorded.

Yes, the poet remembers, and Qaddafi’s deeds — his crimes — will be recorded. One day we will know what befell Jaballa Matar and the numberless dead. I just watched Mohamed Al-Daradji’s powerful movie, “Son of Babylon,” in which an Iraqi Kurdish woman looks in vain for her son, disappeared in 1991 by Saddam Hussein. At one point she says, “I’ve been searching the prisons and now I’m searching the graves.”

Let’s put names to the dead, dates to the crimes, and details to our complicity. I know the world is unjust: Nobody made a big fuss about Dr. Brahimi’s words three months ago. All the more reason to be severe in assessing lessons learned.

In his new novel, Matar’s chief protagonist observes, “There are times when my father’s absence is as heavy as a child sitting on my chest.” He searches — “Everything and everyone, existence itself, has become an evocation, a possibility for resemblance.”

The foul Libyan regime that knows the answer must fall for the truth to be known. Closure time has NOT come, YET Mr. COHEN...., until you all disclose the JOINT deeds of CIA/MOSSAD in the infamous White House Murder INC, in the Levant.....and the atrocious US/Israeli War Crimes in Lebanon and the World over....


......Dominoes or a House of Damascus ????

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؟



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, , 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, , 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 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.