Saturday, June 14, 2008

Iran won't bargain on nuclear program

 Last update - 11:30 14/06/2008       
Iran: We'll refuse EU incentives if they mean halting nuke work
By Reuters
Iran rejected on Saturday any suspension of its nuclear enrichment program, after the EU's top diplomat handed Tehran a world powers' offer of economic benefits to try and persuade it to stop such work.
"If the package [from six major powers] includes suspension it is not debatable at all," Iranian government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham told reporters.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Saturday handed Iran an offer of trade and other benefits from world powers if it suspends nuclear enrichment, which the Islamic Republic has repeatedly refused to do.
Solana arrived in Tehran late on Friday to present an incentives package agreed by the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany in the latest bid to end a deepening dispute over Tehran's atomic ambitions.
Solana's spokeswoman said he presented the offer to Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran and that talks were under way.
The offer, including civilian nuclear cooperation, is a revised version of one rejected by Iran two years ago.
The world's fourth-largest oil producer has ruled out halting a nuclear program it says is for generating electricity but which Western powers suspect is aimed at making bombs.
Seeking to step up the pressure, the United States and the 27-nation EU have threatened more sanctions if Tehran does not stop enriching uranium, which has both civilian and military uses.
Solana says he hopes the incentives package will start a new process for resolving the long-running standoff, which has helped push up crude prices to record highs, but has also played down the prospect for a breakthrough.
Solana, who has said he expects no "miracles", said the proposals would support Iran in developing a modern nuclear energy program and also covered political and economic ties.
"I am traveling to Tehran to present a generous and comprehensive offer," he said in a statement.
"I am convinced that it is possible to change the present state of affairs," Solana said. "Our proposal is good for the future of Iran and for the future of the Iranian people."
The United States, which is leading efforts to isolate Iran over its nuclear ambitions, says it wants to resolve the dispute diplomatically but has not ruled out military action.
The incentives package, hammered out by the six major powers in May, is an updated and enhanced version of an offer spurned by Iran in 2006, which also included wider trade in civil aircraft, energy, high technology and agriculture.
Iran's refusal to stop enrichment, which can provide fuel for power plants or material for bombs if refined much more, has drawn three rounds of UN sanctions against the country since 2006.
Solana was accompanied by senior officials from the major powers with the exception of the United States, which cut ties with Iran after its 1979 Islamic revolution.
On a farewell tour of Europe this week, U.S. President George W. Bush said a nuclear-armed Iran would be "incredibly dangerous for world peace" and that "all options are on the table", alluding to military action as a last resort.
Concern in the oil market that Tehran's nuclear dispute with the West may lead to a disruption in its crude exports have helped drive oil to record levels near $140 a barrel, hurting the United States and other consumer nations.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Religious persecution: Rape-Murder of Christian schoolgirl in Bangladesh


Bangladesh: Please raise your voice!

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury


For Bituni Ashru De Silva, a Jehovahʼs Witness Christian minority schoolgirl, being gang raped wasnʼt enough; she had to be killed in the end. Rapists poured poison in her mouth first to kill her. She was rushed to the nearby hospital for treatment, by none, but her own mother, Sima D Silva, who had also been raped by culprits. Sensing Bituni Asru D Silva may survive and testify in court of the notoriety, the gang of culprits came back to the hospital and suffocated the girl till they were sure that she was already dead. Local police station refused to register murder case, although specific allegation was lodged by the victims father James D Silva. Inspector General of Police, Noor Muhammed, instead of taking action against the culprits, passed objectionable remarks, saying both Bituni and her mother were ʽprostitutesʼ.


The incident in brief is, terrorists led by a member of influential Muslim business family in the locality broke into their home on the night of April 30th 2008. As Sima D Silva [mother of Bituni] came out of her bedroom, they pressed a gun at her and grabbed her. And they took their turn in raping her in front of her daughter, Bitumen [a ʽAʼ student at eight grade].

After Bituni came forward to try to save her from further degradation, they took Mrs. Sima De Silva into the bathroom and kept her inside. And then they started raping her 14-year-old daughter. At one stage, they poured some poisonous liquid inside Bituniʼs mouth, and, left her barely conscious body on the floor.

Mrs. Sima D Silva telephone her husband, James, who was in
Dhaka, and informed him of what happened. Meanwhile, she had taken her gang rape victim daughter to the local hospital for treatment and care. Bituni Asru D Silva started recovering at a slow pace. And was making good progress.  She was also got her speech back and begun speaking clearly up until 9 am.

The gang of rapists Mehdi [24], Dulal [28], Russel [20] Sohail and Jessim managed to arrive at the hospital and were found near Bituni. As the hospital staff had become aware of the gang rape incident, Mehedi and his gang used some pretext and persuaded Bituniʼs mother [herself a gang rape victim of the same men] to go out to buy some essential medicine for Bituni. This gave them the chance to the gang for choking Bituni to death. When Bituniʼs mother came back with the medicine, she found that Mehedi and his men sitting quietly and watching the unconscious body of Bituni on the hospital bed. The desperately helpless mother started frantically shaking Bituiʼs body while these men quickly sneaked out of the room.

Following this horrific incident, Mrs. Sima D Silva made calls from a cell phone to inform the local news paper staff and the law enforcement authorities that Mehedis have killed Bituni by choking her to death in the hospital.


Mr. James D Silva complained that when he went to the police station to file charges, he found that Bhumulia Uion Parishad Chairman, Mr. Abu Bakar Banu, acting on behalf of the accused and pressuring him to drop the charges. As well, he was hurling profanities at Mr. James D Silva right inside the grounds of the police station. Police refused to register a murder case, while a case under Women and Children Repression Act was already registered. Case No. FIR No.04/88, Dated 05/05/2008.

Mr. James further complained that he found out those five days after the incident, the local police officer in charge, Mr. Khandakar Sisthan, has made up a case by himself without any consent of the D Silvas. The Officer in charge has also entrusted himself with the responsibility of investigating the case.


The matter has already drawn attention of some local and international organizations. But, because of endless persuasion by the influential thus affluent family of the perpetrators, as well as questioned stand by the Inspector General of Police, it is rather a very big confusion as to whether this incident would at all get into proper investigation or the culprits get punishment. It is further learnt that the local police administration is heavily compensated by the affluent family of the attackers.


Family of Mr. James D Silva is now in extreme danger. Rapists and murders are continuing to give threats of raping his other daughters, any time. The entire family fled the village and is now passing days in extreme terror in Dhaka. Mr. James D Silva, head of the victim family can be contacted at 0171-1955640. Leader of Christian Development Alternative, William Gomes [Cell phone number 0191-2342809] and Human Rights Forum [0181-9407963] are constantly monitoring the case. A protest rally will take place at 9:30 am on Tuesday [June 17] at the village in Kaliganj, where the incident took place.


Persecution of religious minority groups in Bangladesh is very unfortunately increasing in past several months. This specific case is just one amongst many, which are even not reported in fear of trouble or social obstacles. But, this reported case of rape and murder of Bituni Asru D Silva as well rape of her mother Sima D Silva is gradually turning prominent internationally.


Bangladesh government needs to immediately look into this matter. Inspector General of Police, Noor Muhammed should be questioned for his dubious role. If necessary, he should be removed from the post of IGP for such notorious behavior. Family members of James D Silva deserve protection. This is not only to save a Christian family from further persecution, but for the sake of salvaging image of Bangladesh.

Journalist, Columnist, Author & Peace Activist
Editor & Publisher, Weekly Blitz
PEN USA Freedom to Write Award 2005; AJC Moral Courage Award 2006
Key to the Englewood City, USA [Highest Honor] 2007; Monaco Media Award, 2007

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Israeli cabinet accepts Egyptian formula for truce with Hamas

June 11, 2008, 10:02 PM (GMT+02:00)

IDF tanks stalled again

IDF tanks stalled again

The prime minister Ehud Olmert's decision, coupled with orders to the military to stand by for all eventualities, was endorsed by the security cabinet Wednesday, June 11, as Hamas continued to shoot mortars at Israel. Four shells injured three Israelis at the same Kibbutz Nir-Oz factory where Amnon Rosenberg was killed last week. A storehouse of inflammable materials caught fire.

The Palestinian attack followed - and was succeeded by - Israel air force raids over southern Gaza to stop the mortar and missile fire.

DEBKAfile's military sources report that Kibbutz Nir-Oz and its neighbors in the Eshkol region which abuts on Gaza have no shelters and the Red Color alert for missiles does not work for mortar shells. Hamas' newly-smuggled 155mm ordnance is more powerful and accurate than its older stocks.

Because of the mortar fire, the IDF shut the Sufa crossing to the entry of food trucks for the Gaza population. Tuesday, 18 mortar rounds and four missiles were fired from the Gaza Strip, forcing truck drivers to halt their deliveries of wheat for Gaza through the Karni crossing. A group of Israeli protesters from the locations under daily Palestinian attack protested outside the prime minister's office in Jerusalem Wednesday. Many are leaving the region, abandoning homes and jobs, after giving up on government action to halt the measured Palestinian harassment.

DEBKAfile's military sources reported earlier Tuesday that prime minister Ehud Olmert, supported by defense minister Ehud Barak and foreign minister Tzipi Livni, had effectively opted to take up the Egyptian-Hamas informal offer of a truce in Gaza – possibly preceded by a nominal Israeli military attack which leaves Hamas riding high.

DEBKAfile's Middle East sources confirm that, contrary to various claims, Hamas has not accepted Israel's terms for a truce, any more than the Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas heeded Israel's ultimatum when he went ahead over the weekend with reconciliation talks with Hamas in Dakar. The Olmert government has quietly bowed to Cairo's formula and agreed to a tryout of an informal, unsigned truce, which Hamas is free to end at any moment; problems arising would be solved ad hoc.

The Israeli government thus surrendered to the following situation:

1. Hamas is under no binding commitment to hold its missile fire or force its allied terrorist groups in the territory it governs to join a ceasefire. Although they rule the Gaza Strip, Hamas leaders shrug off responsibility for Jihad Islami and other Palestinian terrorist groups. The missile and mortar attacks from Gaza may slow down for a while but undoubtedly continue. The same applies to Palestinian terrorist incursions across the border.

2. The informal truce arrangement does not provide for the release of the Israel soldier Gilead Shalit, as Olmert promised. He has been held captive for nearly two years since he was kidnapped on Israeli soil. Thursday, Hamas rejected any linkage between the truce and his release.

3. Another Israeli condition ignored in the upcoming truce deal is the guaranteed cessation of smuggling to the Gaza Strip through Sinai of Palestinian fighting men, armaments and money. Whereas Egypt offered another of its empty promises to stem the flow, in the last two weeks, an unprecedented volume of smuggled war materiel was allowed to reach the Gaza Strip and top up Hamas' war arsenal.

4. Israel has quietly agreed to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip in stages. This entails reopening the border crossings, including the Rafah terminal to Egyptian Sinai. Next are negotiations through Egypt for handing the crossing facilities over to Mahmoud Abbas' presidential guard.

In this way, Israel lets itself be maneuvered into "contributing" to the Palestinian fence-mending deal between Fatah and Hamas, and accepting Hamas as the ruling power in the Gaza Strip behind a token PA administration.

There is nothing to stop the same formula from being extended to the West Bank, installing Hamas as the majority power in Ramallah.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Alternative narrative: Israel assassinated John F. Kennedy

A new chapter in alternative history is opened. No doubt it will soon appear in authoritative books by learned professors. Reuters did not give the customary background - Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, who had nothing to do with Israel of course. In the 80s, Obama's ex-preacher Jeremiah Wright visited Gaddafi with Louis Farakhan. Was he the  source of the "information" that the Mossad assassinated Kenndy?
Ami Isseroff  
Last update - 09:35 12/06/2008       
Gaddafi: Obama fears Israel will assassinate him like it did JFK
By Reuters
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Wednesday that U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's expressed support for Israel stems from his fear that the Mossad would assassinate him, just as it did President John F. Kennedy.
While the existence of Israeli nuclear weapons is widely assumed, Israeli officials have never admitted their existence and U.S. officials have stuck to that line in public.
Gaddafi saw a dark motive behind a recent speech by Obama in support of Israel. "Obama offered $300 billion in aid to Israel and more military support. He avoided talking about Israel's nuclear weapons," he said.
Gaddafi said Obama would have an "inferiority complex" because he is black and if elected he might "behave worse than whites."
"We fear that Obama will feel that, because he is black with an inferiority complex, this will make him behave worse than the whites," Gaddafi told a rally at a former U.S. military base on the outskirts of the Libyan capital Tripoli.
"This will be a tragedy," Gaddafi said. "We tell him to be proud of himself as a black and feel that all Africa is behind him because if he sticks to this inferiority complex he will have a worse foreign policy than the whites had in the past."
He was speaking before thousands of cheering supporters at a ceremony to celebrate the 38th anniversary of the departure of U.S. troops from Libya.
Gaddafi, known for his controversial statements, took power in 1969 in a military coup in his oil- and gas-rich North African state. He was shunned for decades by the West, which accused him of supporting terrorism.
His ties with Western countries have improved since Libya announced it was scrapping weapons of mass destruction programs in 2003 and agreed to pay compensation for families of victims of bombings of U.S. and French airliners.
Obama, the son of a Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas, would be the first African American elected U.S. president. In his campaign he has largely eschewed the rhetoric of racial struggle and drawn support among blacks and whites.
Gaddafi said Obama should adopt a policy of supporting poor and weak peoples such as the Palestinians and be a friend of what he called free Arab peoples rather than U.S. "agents" in the Arab world who, he said, were hated by their own people.
"We still hope he will be proud of Africa and change America and free America of its past policy, namely with the Arabs," said Gaddafi.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Corruption among Iranian Mullahs

What is not generally appreciated is that being an Ayatollah is a very profitable business. This is illustrated in this article from Rooz, but it is obviously only the tip of the iceberg. Drug trade and prostitution could not exist in a police state like Iran without tacit official cooperation - yet both evils are rampant.

Unprecedented Revelations against Senior Iranian Clerics
A Member of the Majlis Investigative Committee - 2008.06.10
Mahbubeh Niknahad
A film and the speech of Abbas Palizar, a member of Iran's Majlis Investigative ‎Committee are now available on the Internet for the public, whose contents expose the ‎country's judiciary and senior clerics. Palizar made his speech at Hamedan University in ‎western Iran and named leading politicians and clerics from the conservative camp and ‎accused them of engaging in corrupt economic practices. He also revealed that the plane ‎crash that carried, and killed, Iran's former minister of transportation during Khatami's ‎presidency was the work of sabotage by insiders, and also that another air crash that ‎killed a former army commander at the Passdaran, Ahmad Kazemi, was at the least ‎‎"suspicious".‎
Who is this new exposer?‎
The person whose revelations at Hamedan University have now attained sensational ‎quality was for some time the "operational secretary" of the research unit of the seventh ‎Majlis where his key responsibility was to head the (Infrastructure Research Bureau) ‎Daftare Motaleat Zirbanai. He was the leading figure to draw up a plan to punish those ‎who committed economic disruption and prior to being the head the Majlis research unit, ‎he was the advisor to the Majlis Economic Committee and the Chairman and ‎spokesperson of the Board of Trustees of the House of Industrialists of Iran (Khane ‎Sanatgaran'e Iran). He had made an unsuccessful bid for Tehran's provincial council ‎while running on the list that supported president Ahmadinejad.‎
The End of the Conservatists' Grouping and the Repetition of Old Accusations
Palizar called the country's judiciary "the center of economic corruption" and forcefully ‎asserted that neither the judiciary branch nor the State Inspectorate Organization would ‎cooperate with the Majlis in its investigations over corruption. "The State Inspectorate ‎Organization strived to prevent the investigative committee of the Majlis from gaining ‎access to the existing corruption cases and to accomplish this provided forced leave to its ‎members, while with the passage of a year, we eventually gained access to the data on ‎this", he said.‎
In detailing the corruption, he said, "One day a one of these cleric came to me and said ‎that he had a disabled son and wanted to build a physical therapy center to be run under ‎his management. We registered the center. Then he came and said that he desired to have ‎a financial passport (license) and asked us to give him the license to operate the Dehbid ‎stone mining company in Fars province, a company that has the best stones in the world. ‎After that, he came and asked for the license to operate yet another mine in Zanjan ‎province. Today, he operates four mines and owns the license to a physical therapy ‎center." Students at Hamedan University asked for more details and the name of the ‎cleric and he told them that it was ayatollah Imami Kashani (member of the Guardians ‎Council and one of the 4 temporary Friday prayer leaders of Tehran).‎
In another part of his speech at Hamedan, Palizar said, "Another ayatollah once went to ‎the leader and said that they wanted to build a law university for women in Qom. He got ‎the license to do that. Immediately after that however he requested a financial passport ‎‎(license) for Dena Tire Company. The then minister of industries Mr. Nematzadeh told ‎him that he would give him the company at the price of 126 billion Toman (about $126 ‎million). The real market value of the company was 600 billion Toman ($600 million). ‎Soon, these gentlemen were asking for discounts on the price of the tire company and ‎eventually settled for 10 billion Toman (about $10 million). But then they said that they ‎did not have the money and so would pay 80 percent of the price in installments. ‎Nematzadeh accepted that. But they returned and said that they did not even have the 20 ‎percent in cash but would pay it by selling some assets of the company. This is how ‎easily he acquired the company, and then sold it in the market soon after." Students again ‎asked for the name of the cleric and Palizar burst it out: ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi ‎‎(current member of the Guardians Council and Experts Assembly, former head of the ‎judiciary and the new leader of the Teachers of Qom Theological Center, which is the ‎most important grouping of the conservative clerics in Iran). ‎
Palizar continued with his story: "Ayatollah Yazdi continued his drive and wrote a letter ‎to Mr. Foruzesh, the then minister of industries arguing that his son, Hamid was jobless ‎and requested that arrangements be made so he could export wood from the forests of ‎northern Iran. It is interesting that Hamid Yazdi was a director general at the judiciary. ‎But soon the forests of the north were looted. At the same time, a group of local residents ‎were arrested for cutting down trees (which they did in amounts sufficient for their ‎personal needs) and imprisoned, which led to riots in front of the prison where they were ‎detained."‎
Palizar mentioned another case of fraud to belong to Iran Khodro car manufacturing ‎plant. "Iran Khodro company was transferred to judges who owned Persia Machine plant ‎at half the market price, while the rest was supposed to have been paid in installments by ‎buyers of the vehicles, most of which were never paid. But this state of affairs did lead to ‎protests. For example, a group calling itself members of the Nahjol-Balaghe foundation ‎came and said that they wanted 500 cars with the same terms. And who do you think are ‎the members of this foundation? None other than Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri (former head ‎of the Special Investigative Unit of the Leaders Office), Mohsen Refighdoost (former ‎head of the Mostazafin Foundation), Asqar Oladi (the former secretary of the ‎conservative 'Jamiate Motalef Islami' i.e. Islamic Coalition Association) Moezi (deputy ‎director of the Leader's office), etc. After this episode came another foundation, ‎Hamgaraie Andishe belonging to cleric Falahian (former minister of intelligence) and ‎ayatollah Elm Alhoda (the radical cleric of Mashhad)."‎
Adding to the list, Palizar continued his drive by adding that the Tabas Stone Mining ‎Company and twelve other large mines in the country in Khorasan province (the largest ‎province in the country) in eastern Iran were handed over to ayatollah Vaezi Tabasi, the ‎representative of the leader of Iran in that province.‎
Moving to a different area, Majlis deputy Palizar revealed that the cause for the crash of ‎two aircraft that carried senior officials of the Islamic regime (Rahman Dadman the ‎minister of transportation during Khatami's administration in 2002 who lost his life in the ‎crash and Ahmad Kazemi, the former commander of the Passdaran ground forces who ‎was killed in the helicopter crash of 2006) could be attributed to intentional planning in ‎which one of the then leaders of the Passdaran had a hand in (no details are provided). ‎The Dadman incident was pre-planned. The 1000-page dossier regarding this air crash ‎demonstrates this (again no details are provided)."‎
As the list got longer, Palizar mentioned the importation of contraband through one of the ‎airports called Payam and said, "The grand smuggler of Payam airport has 1,500 court ‎cases for smuggling, but nobody has arrested him yet because he is under the protection ‎of cleric Nategh Nouri."‎
The sugar industry in Iran was not left out of these revelations, and Palizar said in this ‎regard, "Mr. Modalal, the son in law of one of the senior clerics in Iran (this is a ‎reference to ayatollah Makarem Shiraz, who is also a source of emulation) was the king ‎of sugar and of the sugar mafia. Modalal worked with a person named Mohammad Reza ‎Yusefi both of whom were willing to pay 700 billion Toman ($700 million) in hush ‎money when the case was exposed."‎
Palizar ended his expose by naming Hashemi Rafsanjani and his family members to be ‎economically corrupt and said, "Their economic corruption is so wide that it is not ‎possible to list them. But one of them is in their lack of payment of taxes to the ‎government."‎
Copyright for

Monday, June 9, 2008

Israeli girls of Moroccan origin

Intelligence and beauty.

100 Most Beautiful Israeli Women

How have been these ladies ranked? Impossible!
The mad Iranian theocrats want to obliterate Israel with nuclear bombs.....
And the misinfomed media critizise Israel when she tries to defend herself from the Iranian genocidal proxies, Hamas, Hizballah, et al, disguised associates as Al-Fatah......
No further comments......

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Another Arab lie

Who Threatens the Mecca Interfaith Conference?

Who Threatens the Mecca Interfaith Conference?


The serious situation in Islamic groups and sects within the Islamic body and the looming clashes between some of the followers of Islam and the followers of other religions do not require a lot of explaining. The caricatures [of Prophet Muhammad] were only a small drill for a much bigger crisis. This exercise has shown how an unrenowned newspaper and an unknown caricaturist in a country like Denmark, which is far from crises, were able to create a large clash. The other crisis drill was manifest in Al-Qaeda's release of several video recordings that showed horrifying details of beheadings of non-Muslims and in which Al-Qaeda called for fighting the followers of other religions. These recordings have caused popular tension, thus putting the blame on all 1 billion Muslims.

As among Muslims themselves, we see how the relationship between Shiites and Sunnis has never been worse in contemporary history and portend collective wars. The exchange of verbal attacks between Islam and Christianity has not stopped since the emergence of Al-Qaeda, which has relied on the anti-Crusader discourse in an effort to instigate the public against Western regimes, despite the fact that Al-Qaeda's primary enmity is against Arab regimes, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Modern technology has played a role in spreading the disease of hatred between both sides. In the past, there was no major means for conveying rhetoric without going through official channels. Today, Al-Qaeda -- this renegade and internationally wanted organization -- has hundreds of empathetic online websites that ensure that Al-Qaeda's video and audio messages reach the entire world and are viewed by millions of people on both sides of this world. Moreover, satellite television channels have become open platforms for Muslim, Christian, and Hindu extremists, who are fomenting resentment among their supporters and inciting them to take revenge.

Accordingly, we are facing an urgent problem that differs immensely from all the old religious clashes that involved battles between all parties. Today's wars are spontaneous. An unknown caricaturist draws some defaming cartoons and others publish them for their followers to see. One party foments resentment and the other views this act as sacred freedom, the objectors to which must be punished. Hence, how could a caricaturist ignite a war if it was not for the new technological situation, the continued tension, and the officials' avoidance of dealing with this problem? Although some people have called this problem "the clash between the ignorant" or "the clash between extremists," the problem is a general rather than a specific problem. This means that the victims of such clashes are the billions of people who belong to the nations that are facing division because of their extremist minority.

Therefore, the Mecca [interfaith] dialogue conference, for which King Abdullah, the custodian of the two holy mosques, has called, is being held at its usual time and place. This conference has brought together Islamic figures from all over the world, each of whom has his own status, influence, and experience. Also, it is the first step toward identifying the 21stcentury crisis. Regardless of how hard non-Muslims try to insult Islam, it is Muslim extremists who are threatening Islam today and not the followers of other religions. The same holds true for the followers of other religions, who are forced into the cycle of tension and confrontation by their extremists. Unless each party curbs extremism from it own position and within its own circle of influence, the crisis will continue to grow and will be difficult to contain. It is extremists who jeopardize the Mecca conference and who should be the goal of our study, follow up, and encirclement too.


Palestinians: Tora Bora over Statehood

Palestinians: Tora Bora over Statehood


In an article published April 21, 2008 in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, well-known researcher, writer, author, and columnist Dr. Mamoun Fandy wrote that the Palestinians must proceed from revolution to state-building, demonstrating that they are capable of building a prosperous state which will contribute to the stability of the region.(1)
The following are excerpts from the article:    
"When Will the Palestinians Advance From the 'Adolescence' of Revolution to the 'Maturity' of Statehood?... [Will the] Palestinian State... Strengthen, Rather Than Weaken, Regional Security?"

"Sixty years have passed since the Palestinian Nakba [catastrophe]… and I would like to pose two questions to the divided Palestinian leadership, [i.e.] to the Palestinian Authority, represented by President Mahmoud 'Abbas, and to the Hamas leadership, represented by Ismail Haniyya and Khaled Mash'al.
"The first question is: When will the Palestinians advance from the 'adolescence' of revolution to the 'maturity' of statehood? The second question is: Given that there is an intent to establish a Palestinian state in the region, can the Palestinians assure the international community, and in particular their neighbors, that the Palestinian state will strengthen, rather than weaken, regional security?...
"The object of the first question is to give the international community an idea to what extent the Palestinians are capable of managing their affairs independently; to what extent the Palestinian leadership is committed to its people, their aspirations and demands; and whether, like most governments around the world, it can ensure that its people live in dignity.
"Gaza Is a Seaport of Diminutive Proportions, Akin to Singapore Or Bahrain... Yet the Palestinians Have Chosen the Model of Tora Bora!"

Today, the international community has great doubts regarding the Palestinians' ability to advance from the 'adolescence' of revolution to the 'maturity' of state. The most clear-cut example of this is Gaza, which has presented a complicated and steadily growing problem. I am not speaking of the Hamas's coup or even of the futile killing, but only of the appalling mismanagement of its affairs.
"Gaza is a seaport of diminutive proportions, akin to Singapore or Bahrain. Small though it is, Singapore has become one of the most important [states] in Asia – owing to a wise government, which runs its affairs with perspicacity. Similarly, Bahrain has ties and alliances with the most prominent world powers…
"Yet, instead of adopting Singapore as a model, the Palestinians have chosen the model of Tora Bora! They have transformed Gaza into part of Afghanistan, with its extremist Islamists, weapons, and missiles.
"The main reason that the Palestinian leadership in Gaza has failed is that it is still in the 'adolescent' revolutionary stage, and is not acting as someone faced with the task of [establishing] a state capable of managing its people's affairs. It is this adolescence [of revolution] that accounts for [Hamas's] attempt to breach the Egyptian border and drives it to fire rockets [at Israel] every now and then. [And] it is the ordinary people who are paying the price – [i.e.] Gaza residents, who are fed up with the siege and with hunger.
"Israel should be condemned for imposing a siege on Gaza. [To be sure,] no one thinks of absolving Israel of responsibility. But considering that Israel has a well-equipped army – did Hamas really anticipate that Israel would send it flowers in return for rockets?
"Egypt must be condemned for closing its borders, as is the custom of all other countries. However, Hamas leadership expects to avoid all condemnation; the important thing [in their eyes] is that Ismail Haniyya remain the leader in Gaza, even if all its residents are exterminated…"

In the Arab World, "Human Life is Not Important; What Counts Is That the Leaders Survive"

"As long as Haniyya is in charge – Gaza is on a winning streak. [Indeed,] presenting defeat as victory is not unique to the Palestinians. In this way, the June 1967 fiasco was not conceived of as defeat, since Gamal 'Abd Al-Nasser remained president [of Egypt] after the war; Saddam [Hussein's] setbacks were not regarded as defeat either, since Saddam remained president of Iraq; nor was Lebanon's downfall regarded as defeat – [despite] the complete destruction of its infrastructure  – since Hassan Nasrallah continued as leader of the uprising. [It seems that] human life is not important; what counts is that the leaders survive.
"The second question is whether the new Palestinian state is capable of strengthening regional security or whether it will become a source of threat and disrupt the security equilibrium. This is another criterion for assessing the Palestinian leadership's ability to assure its Arab and non-Arab neighbors that the new state will be the basis for reconstruction rather than destruction, stability rather than [disruption], economic welfare rather than poverty.
"One could say that, from 1996 until the beginning of the 2000 intifada, the PA had begun acting as a state, although it did make a few mistakes. Those in Fatah who made the revolutionary step of moving towards the 'maturity' of the Palestinian Authority have made an important qualitative leap, which history will count in their favor. [Indeed,] they initiated the PA into the rites of maturity, and took part in the negotiations in Oslo, Washington, Taba etc."

In 2000, "Instead Of Declaring A State, [The Palestinian Leadership] Decided to Declare A Revolution... the Palestinian Security Apparatuses Joined the Resistance as Factions... [Thus]... Relinquish[ing] Their Role in Building the State [And] Undermining the Trust of the International Community"

"The Palestinian leadership committed a major error in the beginning of 2000, when it refused to accept the outcome of the negotiations with U.S. President Bill Clinton, who nearly gave them a state in return for certain concessions. At the time, the Palestinian leadership refused to agree to these concessions out of fear that, otherwise, it might find itself up against the [Palestinian] people.
"Instead of declaring a state, it decided to declare a revolution. The Palestinian security apparatuses joined the resistance as factions – in other words, they reverted to the 'adolescence' of revolution. By joining the resistance, the security apparatuses relinquished their role in building the state, thereby undermining the trust of the international community, and the trust of its patron countries. Never again would the Egyptians, Americans, Europeans, and Israelis believe that the Palestinian leadership was truly capable of advancing from the 'adolescence' of revolution to the 'maturity' of state…
"The only solution left to the Palestinians, including Hamas, is to rebuild their institutions in accordance with the maturity of state rather than with the adolescence of revolution, thereby contributing to the stability of the region, rather than to its destruction.
"This is [how they should proceed]:
"First – [they must] search for new leaders, who are trusted both inside and outside the country, and in doing so they must apply as criteria, not the ideology of revolution, but that of statehood. [Moreover,] Hamas must come to terms with the fact that it is a political party, and act accordingly. [So far] Hamas's radical conduct has indicated that it is incapable of acting as a party – rather, it has been behaving like a militia...
"Fatah [C]ould Be Like the U.S. Democrats, and Hamas Like the Republicans; Alternatively, Fatah and Hamas [C]ould Be Like the Conservatives and Labor in Great Britain"
"If Hamas is incapable of acting maturely, as befits a [ruling] political party, the Palestinian political process could be modeled after the veteran democracies. Thus, Fatah would be like the U.S. Democrats, and Hamas like the Republicans; alternatively, Fatah and Hamas would be like the Conservatives and Labor in Great Britain. Furthermore, the Palestinians should hold new elections in order to form a new leadership. These elections must be free and unhampered by fear – since freedom of choice is the foundation of a free society.
"If the Palestinians cannot elect new leaders who can demonstrate to the international community that they believe in the maturity of state rather than in the adolescence of revolution, and, moreover, [that they believe] in a Palestinian state that can strengthen the stability of the region instead of contributing to its decline and destruction… if the Palestinians cannot rise up to this great challenge, we may be facing another 60 years of Nakba."
(1) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 21, 2008.


Amazing proposal: Saudi Interfaith dialogue

If this proposed dialogue really takes place, it can be more important for inter-faith relations than Vatican II. It would also, at one stroke, put Saudi Arabia and Sunni Islam squarely in the forefront of the Muslim world, just as Vatican II restored much of the leadership of the Catholic Church.
A master stroke. But it will also invite fierce and violent opposition from radical Mujahedin  groups that insist that Saudi Arabia is "poisoned" by the presence of non-Muslims. King Abdullah has taken quite a risk.
This initiative should be welcomed and encouraged by all persons of good will.
Ami Isseroff
Saudi king prepares ground for interfaith meeting
Jordan Times Sunday, June 8th, 2008

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has won backing from Muslim clerics from around the world for an interfaith dialogue with Christians and Jews, state media reported on Saturday.

Some 500 religious scholars and academics gathered for a 3-day conference in Mecca which ended on Friday as the first step of a plan announced by the Saudi king this year to create a dialogue with other faiths.

The king's call, which followed a meeting with Pope Benedict at the Vatican last year, sparked much interest from Jewish and Christian groups around the world.

The Mecca meeting recommended "conferences, forums and discussion groups between the followers of the prophetic messages, and relevant civilisations, cultures and philosophies to which academics, media and religious leaders will be invited", according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

It said the participants, who included Egypt's Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar Mohammad Sayed Tantawi and former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, established that a dialogue with other faiths was legitimate in Islam.

SPA gave no more details, but a gathering of Jewish and Christian clerics in Saudi Arabia would be ground-breaking.

Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest sites, sees itself as the leader of Sunni Islam. It promotes a hardline school of Islam called Wahhabism which has traditionally seen some other Muslims and non-Muslims as "infidels".

But Riyadh has been making efforts to build better ties with Washington and improve its international image after the September 11 attacks of 2001, in which 15 of the 19 attackers were Saudi.

Saudi Islamist militants also launched a violent campaign to overthrow the monarchy in 2003, denouncing the rulers as un-Islamic.

Although the official religious establishment is on board for the king's interfaith effort, many Wahhabi clerics remain opposed even to talking to Shiite Muslims.

A group of independent clerics issued a statement last week saying Shiites, including Lebanese group Hizbollah, were posturing against Israel to hide an anti-Sunni agenda.

Some Shiites said that, despite the presence of Iran's Rafsanjani, few of their number were invited to the Mecca meeting. None came from Europe or North America and one from Saudi Arabia's own Shiite minority, which complains that it is given second class status.

The final statement said the conference called for "communication between Islamic sects in an effort to unite the Islamic nation and lighten the effects of fanaticism".

IAEA report highlights weapons as well as nuclear development

The Belated Message from the IAEA on Iran, INSS Insight No. 59, June 8, 2008
Asculai, Ephraim and Landau, Emily B.
On May 26, 2008 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) circulated a technical and factual report on Iran, devoid almost entirely of political overtones. The IAEA report gives prominence to the major issue of the day – Iran's unrelenting progress in its uranium enrichment program – but also highlights an additional serious issue of concern: Iran's secret weapons development activities. The unprecedented level of concern included in the report reflects and furthers tendencies that first emerged last February, when new material was handed over to the IAEA regarding Iran's involvement in weaponization studies. On the basis of briefings at the IAEA in this regard, suspicions have increased within the organization that Iran is proceeding with its nuclear development program, and the program could eventually yield nuclear weapons. True, the signs were there long ago; unfortunately, their recognition by the IAEA has come quite late in the day.
According to the IAEA report, Iran fed into its 3000 gas centrifuge uranium enrichment unit some 2.3 tons of natural uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas during the December 2007-May 2008 period. According to the New York Times the amount produced was about 150 kilograms of UF6, at about 4 percent enrichment. This is much less than the amount that could be expected had the unit been operated at full efficiency, but is still an impressive result. Iran would need about ten times this amount in order to be able to further enrich it so as to produce some 25 kilograms of enriched uranium at about 90 percent grade. This amount at this grade is defined by the IAEA as a "significant quantity," i.e., the quantity sufficient for one nuclear explosive device. This is, therefore, an important milestone for Iran.       
However, the present rate of production, probably caused by the inefficiency of the P-1 centrifuge machines, may not be up to speed as far as Iranian aspirations go. The IAEA reported that they are rapidly building additional units to expand their enrichment capabilities. In addition, the IAEA reports that Iran has developed two advanced types of centrifuges – IR2 and IR3 – and is testing them. Once these machines are mass produced, installed, and running, the rate of production would increase dramatically.
A major portion of the IAEA report comes under the section "Possible Military Dimensions." Significantly, the IAEA draws attention to aspects that "remain a matter of serious concern," including the development and testing of firing equipment and exploding bridgewire (EBW) detonators, an underground testing system, and other testing of at least one full scale hemispherical system that may be pertinent to an implosion-type nuclear device. Another development relates to alleged changes of the Shehab-3 missile re-entry vehicle, to accommodate a nuclear warhead.
The cumulative effect of the different pieces of evidence included in the IAEA report creates a picture of a country seriously engaged in developing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. The essence of a closed briefing conducted by Olli Heinonen (IAEA Deputy Director General in charge of safeguards) on May 29 appeared in the press; he reportedly reviewed the "alarming" document, which describes the process of machining uranium metal into two hemispheres of the kind used in nuclear weapons. He added that "there was no reason why a country would need to possess such a document unless they wanted to produce uranium hemispheres for a nuclear weapon."
Where does this leave international efforts to confront Iran's nuclear activities? A positive aspect is that this new report contains a severe message of concern, unprecedented in its content and tone. Moreover, it seems to have been accepted by many states, with the exception of Russia, where Prime Minister Putin stated: "I don't think the Iranians are looking to make a nuclear bomb. We have no reason to believe this."
The bad news is that the new and important level of concern expressed by the report is unlikely to be translated into determined and effective action anytime soon, not only because of Russia's stance in particular, but rather because the dynamic will inevitably be a slow one. There is little chance that it will engender the necessary momentum for action soon enough to deal effectively with Iran's nuclear ambitions. Recent dynamics with regard to Syria underscore the less than desirable pace of IAEA-led processes. The US turned to the IAEA with a request that it check new information regarding additional nuclear facilities in Syria. The IAEA contacted Syria about this, but Syria took its time in scheduling a date for IAEA inspections. They are now set for late June, although it is not yet clear which sites Syria will permit inspectors to visit. CIA director Michael Hayden predicted that Syria would most likely "attempt to delay and deceive" the IAEA.
Iran's initial reaction to the report itself – as expressed by its ambassador to the IAEA, Soltaniya – was to claim that it is yet another document that shows that Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful. Iran continues to try to sell this message internally and on the public opinion front. However, within days of that statement, a different message emerged, underscoring Iran's recognition of the more severe assessments that the report actually contains. Both the new speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, as well as the spokesman for the foreign ministry, Hosseini, have criticized the IAEA for this report, going so far as to say that Iran may have to reconsider the nature of its cooperation with the agency, perhaps setting new limits.
Iran's pattern of behavior over the past six years has been to engage the international element that it viewed as most amenable to its case and least likely to seriously impede its nuclear activities. Thus Iran sought to work with the IAEA until late 2003, when it appeared that the IAEA might refer the case to the UN Security Council. At that stage, Iran was quick to pick up the offer of the EU-3 to negotiate, which it did for two years, and signed two agreements for the suspension of uranium enrichment that were subsequently abrogated. When Iran tired of that process and the demand that it suspend uranium enrichment activities, and when the issue was transferred to the Security Council, Iran again maintained that it would deal only with the IAEA. Now that the IAEA has disappointed it a second time, Iran is very likely to run back into the arms of Solana, with his new offer of incentives for Iran to halt nuclear enrichment. The new incentive package is a revised version of one presented to the Iranians in 2006. In parallel, on May 13, 2008, Iran's foreign minister submitted to the UN secretary general a document detailing Iran's proposal for dealing with the nuclear issue, which seems to be no more than an attempt to stall for time. One can only hope that if Iran does show new interest in considering Solana's offer of negotiations, it will not blind the international community to Iran's game of playing for time.