Showing posts from May, 2009

6 dead in battle between Hamas, Palestinian police

This is from Philstar.

It seems that Abbas is not interested in any unity deal with Hamas but rather with extending his influence with the US by acting as a good cop and reigning in militants and helping out Israel defeat Hamas. This will certainly weaken the Palestinians' power. Being disunited gives Israel the upper hand.

6 dead in battle between Hamas, Palestinian police
QALQILIYA (AP) – Top Hamas fugitives lobbed grenades and fired automatic weapons Sunday to push back Palestinian security forces storming their hideout, leaving six dead in the bloodiest clash since the Palestinian president launched a crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank two years ago.
Two top Hamas militants — on the run from Israel for years — were among those killed, along with an unarmed Hamas supporter and three Palestinian policemen.
After the hours-long battle, hundreds of spent bullet casings, puddles of blood and tear gas canisters were visible at the hideout, a two-story building in the northern West Bank…

Iraq's Kurdish oil: Kurdistan goes glug glug

This is from the economist.

Strange most mainstream media are saying nothing about this. Note that the famous Iraq oil law that was once an important benchmark has completely faded from mainstream radar even though the law is still languishing in the Baghdad parliament for about three years!
Kurdistan has made an end run around the central govt. having its own oil law and in effect sharing with the central govt. on its own terms. It remains to be seen if the central government is able to do anything about all this except for the sort of rhetorical rants cited in this article.
Given the new foreign investments in Kurdistan no doubt there will be western support for any attempts to limit Kurdistan autonomy. Even Turkey is on board it would seem!

Iraq's Kurdish oil
Kurdistan goes glug glug
May 28th 2009 ERBILFrom The Economist print edition
The federal government is letting Iraq’s Kurds export from their new oilfields
ON JUNE 1st a man in a hard hat in the blazing sun will ritually tu…

Iraq election delayed complicating US pullout timetable

The US forces are supposed to stay so that there will be security for the elections. However, the US forces are there and security is getting worse which is why the elections are postponed. This is all very convenient. It keeps the Maliki government in power and the US forces in Iraq. The American public however may begin to catch on after while and this could cause political troubles for Obama. However, most Americans probably have other matters on their mind at present!
I wonder if the referendum on the status of forces agreement is also postponed. That was supposed to be this summer. No doubt it would be convenient to postpone that as well.

- News From - -
Iraq Election Delayed, Complicating US Pullout Timetable
Posted By Jason Ditz
The Iraqi government has announced today that the national parliamentary elections, which were supposed to be held later this year, will be pushed back until January 30, 2010. Others had fought to push the elections back e…

Abu Ghraib abuse photos "show rape"

This is from the Telegraph (UK)

It will be interesting to see if FOX news or CNN cover this issue to any extent. Obama is adopting Bush administration tactics in trying to block unpleasant information from the public domain. The people responsible for these abuses no doubt have not been charged with anything.

Abu Ghraib abuse photos 'show rape'
Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent and Paul Cruickshank Last Updated: 8:21AM BST 28 May 2009

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.
Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.
Detail of t…

Pentagon: US Ready to Keep Troops in Iraq for another 10 years.

Of course Iraq may have something to say about this. There is supposed to be a refendum this summer on the status of forces agreement as I recall. Strange there is no word about this in the press. Also, the Iraq election is being delayed and this will cause problems with even the present rate of pullout. Adding to the turmoil is the blowback from the awakening councils some of whom are now in conflict with the Shiite government. There may very well be a renewed Sunni insurgency. Finally there is still conflict in the Kurdish border regions between Arabs and Kurds both vying for control of certain areas rich in oil.

- News From - -
Pentagon: US Ready to Keep Troops in Iraq For Another 10 Years
Posted By Jason Ditz On May 26, 2009
While US officials have continued to insist that the timetable for removing troops from Iraq remains in place, a growing trend of violence and a delay to Iraq’s national parliamentary elections has led to considerable speculatio…

Clinton: "No Exceptions" to Israel Settlement Freeze

This is from

This sets the stage for a confrontation between US and Israel. The Israel lobby will bring out the troops to argue the Israeli case. It remains to be seen what the US will do if anything about the fact that Israel is going ahead regardless of US opposition. There is also the issue of a two state solution. Israel refuses so far to admit this as a goal as well. Just as Bush was stymied in trying to obtain a solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict it seems that Obama is even less likely to be successful unless the situation changes drastically.

Clinton: ‘No Exceptions’ to Israel Settlement Freeze
Secretary of State Says Obama was "Very Clear" With Netanyahu
by Jason Ditz, May 27, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says that President Obama was “very clear” in last week’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States wants Israel to halt all expansion to its West Bank settlements, and would make no exceptions fo…

Showdown looming over Israeli Settlements

Netanyahu is between a rock and a hard place. He may want to accomodate US demands but then he would face so much opposition at home that his very government might be in danger of falling. He would rather accomodate his own constitutency to some extent even at the cost of US ire. The Israel lobby is very powerful in the US and if Obama punished Israel to any extent there would be a huge outcry from the lobby, in the press, and in the blogosphere. Obama is unlikely to get anywhere in the mideast peace process given the present situation in Israel. The media has gone silent on what is happening between Hamas and Fatah.

- Original - -
Showdown Looming Over Israeli Settlements
Posted By Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler On May 25, 2009 @ 9:00 pm In Uncategorized
JERUSALEM - A showdown over Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is looming between Israel and the United States barely a week after the encounter at the White House between U.S. Pr…

Obama orders update to Iran attack plan.

Israel's having the right to attack Iran translated means that the U.S. has assured them that nothing drastic will happen if they do. There is no right of Israel to attack Iran unless you believe in the tooth fairy and an expanded right for a preventive attack. On that ground Iran has every right to attack Israel since Israel (and the U.S.) have often threatened attacks upon Iran.
Interesting that Gates just recently warned against any attack but now is dutifully updating plans for an attack for Obama.

- News From - -
Obama Orders Update to Iran Attack Plan
Posted By Jason Ditz
On NBC’s Today Show this morning, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that President Obama has ordered him to update the plans for a US attack on Iran, plans which were last updating during the Bush Administration. Gates says the plans are “refreshed” and insists that “all options are on the table” with respect to the potential attack.
It was only a month ago that Secre…

Iran: They May Not Want the Bomb: Zakaria

This is a breath of fresh air from a mainstream media figure such as Zakaria who has his own program on CNN; also, the article is from Newsweek hardly an organ of non-mainstream opinions. Perhaps this is a dastardly plot by liberals who are soft on terrorists and for accomodation with evil extremist Islam to infect the general populace with false ideas!
Zakaria notes the ways in which Iran actually has helped the US in Afghanistan. Now that the Shiite majority is firmly entrenched in Iraq, Iran probably sees no need to continue needling the US there. Iran already won the war! Perhaps if the US wants to improve relations with Iran it might release the Iranians it is still holding after in effect kidnapping them from a facility used as a consular office! Iran after all released a US journalist but after a trial. There has been no trial ever for those Iranians held by the US. But of course this is not worth a mention since it is an action by the good guy!

Iran: They May Not Want The Bom…

Tom Engelhardt: Six Ways the Af-Pak war is expanding.

This is from

This article not only gives information about how the Af-Pak was is expanding under Obama but also has more info about Stanley McChrystal and shows his connection to the worst Bush hawks and neo-cons. The two party system in the U.S. is absolutely useless as far as producing much in the way of change but then that is how it is designed to work. Change occurs mostly at the level of rhetoric especially in foreign policy although Obama has opened up a little re Cuba and it is just possible that he might abandon the missile defence system and he also has spoken out against torture and some day he may even close Guantanamo but will still adopt Bush lite military tribunals and may also introduce indefinite detention without trial. One step forward two steps back.
An interesting aspect of this article is the discussion of the role of Zalmay Khalilzad in the new Afghan govt. assuming Karzai wins. Originally the US groomed him for the job as president but having decided…

Insurgents still remain in major SWAT towns.

This is from

No doubt in some instances the Taliban will simply disappear into the general population or more likely leave some to fight and others to blend in with the populace to emerge at a later date. No doubt also that the Pakistani forces will kill many civilians as this article notes. In many cases the forces may mistake ordinary civilians for Taliban.

Despite Offensive, Insurgents Remain a Presence in Major Swat Towns
Posted By Jason Ditz The Pakistani military has claimed some major gains in the ongoing Swat Valley offensive, notably today capturing a tent on top of a desolate mountain. Yet reports are suggesting that even as the troops slowly move deeper into the valley, the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militants remain entrenched in its major towns, blending easily with the local populace.
You cannot distinguish between a Talib and a normal citizen,” Major General Sajjad Ali admitted, which is perhaps ominous inasmuch as the military claims to have k…

Some Philippine Armed Forces Personnel giving themselves bonuses for Military Exercises with US?

This is from the Tribune (Manila)

While the AFP is mounting a probe without the whistle-blower one wonders what positive evidence will come forward given that the woman who made the charge fears for her safety if she testifies. No doubt others who might testify have the same fears.

AFP to press probe of Balikatan fund mess even without Gadian
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will proceed with its investigation of the alleged misuse of the funds intended for use in the RP-US Balikatan exercises held two years ago in the country even without the issue’s whistle-blower, Navy Lt. Senior Grade Nancy Gadian, a military official said yesterday.
Speaking at the Balitaan sa Tinapayan forum held in Sampaloc, Manila, AFP spokesman, Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. said the investigation will focus on studying the records of the Commission on Audit in 2007 which had made an audit of the use of the funds to determine if there was indeed irregularity in their disbursement.
“We will be…

Israel won't yield to U.S. demands, won't halt settlement construction.

This is from Haaretz.

One could probably add that the U.S. probably will not do anything about this. Israel and Iran are quite similar both could care less about international opinion. However, Israel could be brought to heel if the U.S. had the gumption to cut off aid particularly military aid to Israel. This is about as likely as that the president of Iran will erect a Holocaust monument! No word these days about what if anything is going on between Hamas and Fatah. A while ago it seemed that the two might try to reconcile. This would certainly strengthen the Palestinians.

'Israel won't yield to U.S. demands, won't halt settlement construction'
By Haaertz Service
Tags: Israel news, Netanyahu

Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon spoke to Channel 2 on Saturday about the meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama, held earlier this week, saying that Israel's government will not allow the U.S. to dictate its policy, and tha…

Ivan Eland: Blowing Smoke on Gitmo

It would be nice if the mainstream media published more critical and analytical material such as this but it remains for struggling outlets such as to do so. They are having a fund drive right at the moment. THis post comes from their site. Original - -
Blowing Smoke on Gitmo
Posted By Ivan Eland On May 22, 2009 @ 9:00 pm
Unfortunately, politicians claim they don’t read opinion polls, while scrutinizing them even more closely than options for their next junket. This has been most evident recently in the civil liberties arena. On the same day he was inaugurated, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that would close Guantanamo prison in Cuba – a largely symbolic and overrated act to show his break with flagrant Bush administration abuses of civil liberties.
But Obama is not the only person in the Washington public relations circus who is perpetrating demagoguery on the issue. The Republicans, and now the Democrats, in Congress…

Israel finally supplies maps of cluster bomb sites

While this is a positive development, it also shows that Israel must not feel threatened at all in revealing the extent and nature of its use of cluster bombs. As the article notes most countries ban their use. Israel used them mostly just a few days before the war ended. It seems a gratuitous hateful act that has caused continual misery for many and was roundly condemned by many rights groups but of course the US remains a defender of cluster bombs.

Israel Finally Supplies Maps of Cluster Bomb Sites
Nearly Three Years After War, Data Finally Provided
by Jason Ditz, May 12, 2009

Nearly three years after the end of Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, the Israeli military is finally providing the United Nations with maps and technical data regarding locations which were attacked with cluster munitions. The data has been requested essentially since the war ended.
The Israeli barrage of clusterb bombs was launched chiefly in the final 72 hours of the war and many were fired in between the agree…

Greenwald G.: Facts and Myths about Obama's preventive detention proposal

This is an excellent fact filled and argument rich article on Obama's proposal to introduce preventive detention legislation. As Greenwald in effect notes this proposal gives powers to Obama that when Bush used them brought a chorus of criticism from liberals. Far from restoring the United States to international credibility on human rights Obama is making a few gestures on the issue of torture while expanding drone attacks, making MacChrystal an expert in black ops the top man in Afghanistan, and now suggesting what is in effect abolishing habeas corpus for some persons.

Glenn Greenwald
Friday May 22, 2009 09:23 EDT
Facts and myths about Obama's preventive detention proposal
[Updated below - Update II (Interview with ACLU) - Update III - Update IV - Update V - Update VI]
In the wake of Obama's speech yesterday, there are vast numbers of new converts who now support indefinite "preventive detention." It thus seems constructive to have as dispassionate and fact-based …