History of Fake Attacks Cement Belief Saleh Govt Using AQAP as Excuse
“The truth is there is no al-Qaeda.” Such a comment rarely finds currency in a nation’s popular consciousness but in Yemen, home to what the CIA calls the most dangerous of al-Qaeda’s many affiliates (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP), it is all too common.
For some AQAP is just a cynical excuse for the Saleh government to get increased foreign military aid from the US and others. Other Yemenis, particularly in the south, see it as an excuse to attack separatist groups that have nothing to do with international terrorism.
It isn’t naivete on the part of Yemenis, however, but a natural function of the Yemeni government’s constant use of “al-Qaeda” as a justification for attacks on separatist-linked civilians, and as a catch-all for the many different groups that have bones to pick with the Saleh regime.
Indeed AQAP appears responsible for precious little of the internal violence in Yemen, and the group’s focus on overseas targets makes it difficult to sell the idea of them being something for the Yemeni military to focus on. What few attacks they have claimed were usually clear retaliation for the government offensive, raising the inevitable question of whether the Saleh regime is simply hitting a hornet’s nest over and over and claiming a “threat” when it gets stung.
Would America look much different if Republican John McCain had beaten Democrat Barack Obama to become president?
If John McCain were president, we can never be exactly sure what would be happening, but I think we can make some educated speculations.
First of all, the “banksters” would be receiving their carte blanche bailouts and Ben Bernanke would have been re-appointed as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Robert Gates would probably still be the secretary of defence and Sarah Palin would be offering late night comedians endless fodder for their monologues.
If John McCain happened to be the one infesting the Oval Office at this time, single-payer health care would surely be “off the table”. I am confident that a health care “reform” bill probably would have contained massive giveaways to the insurance and big pharmaceutical industries, with no “robust” public option.
We citizens would, I’m sure, have been forced to purchase insurance from the very same insurance companies that spread out a largess of nearly $170m lobbying dollars to Congress in 2009. If we are one of the “lucky ones” that happen to already have coverage, we would have been taxed for the benefit.
McCain and ‘justice’
Without a doubt, McCain’s Justice Department would be protecting war criminals – like John Yoo – of the preceding administration and the McCain Department of Justice (DOJ) would probably be vigorously defending the discriminatory practise of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for the military.
More than likely, under this nightmarish scenario, McCain’s Federal Bureau of Investigation would be committing home invasion break-ins (designated as “legal raids”) to intimidate activists.
McCain probably would have given himself the power to be judge and jury over any American citizen that didn’t approve of his foreign policy.
There is not even a shadow of doubt that McCain would be feigning strictness with Israel, while turning a blind eye to the continued expansions of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the completely immoral and destructive blockade of Gaza.
If the unthinkable occurred and McCain beat Obama in 2008, official unemployment would be hovering around 10 per cent (unofficial around 20 per cent). And one in every five homes would be in danger of being foreclosed upon. We might even be experiencing the widest income disparity between the rich and poor that we have seen since before the stock market crash of 1929!
McCain, being the “brave” military man, may have tripled troop deployments to Afghanistan and the needless deaths of US troops and Afghan civilians would probably have increased dramatically. I am sure that McCain would have given huge contracts to the US war machine for drones, mercenaries, airplanes and other military hardware.
Being a loyal Bushite, McCain would probably be conscientiously following the Status of Forces Agreement for the slow withdrawal from Iraq that was negotiated between the Bush government, and the puppet regime in Iraq.
At least we aren’t bombing Iran!
I get informed all the time, that even though “Obama isn’t so great”, at least he hasn’t invaded Iran yet, and McCain surely would have been bombing Iran by now.
Okay so rhetoric towards Iran would be heigtened, but whether McCain would have waged another military campaign during the current political climate would be an assumption too far.
Gosh, if McCain were president right now, the defense budget might be the largest - $741.2bn - since World War II. He might have even asked for billions upon billions of supplemental funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Horrors!
Of course, a McCain education budget would only be about 1/10th of the defense budget at $78bn. And, a McCain education plan would probably contain lots of rigorous testing if the states were to want more desperately needed funds.
If McCain were president, there would be an active “anti-war” movement. However – as during the Bush years – the “movement” wouldn’t be so much antiwar, but anti-war waged by the Republicans. The anti-Republican movement wants no systemic change, it just wants Democrats in office.
Blurring the political divide
However in almost every case, Democrat equals the status quo.
Of course, in all of my above scenarios, Obama and his regime have done all of those things that people were afraid that McCain would do, but there’s an extremely small outcry.
Here we are, once again, careening madly down the path to electoral ruin—where voting for the “lesser of two evils” has become a national pastime.
When the elite class gives the appearance of only two choices on the ballot, we end up voting “against” a candidate far more times than we vote “for” someone.
What’s wrong with us? We are lazy, we are fearful, the establishment beats us down, we are ignorant, and we are defeated. Voting at least gives us the latent feeling that we are doing something, when we are really doing very little.
We righteously march down to our polling place, like good soldiers for the status quo. We vote. We get our little stickers with an American flag that proudly proclaims: I VOTED. But when we vote for a member of the political duopoly, we are only voting for “Dee or Dum”.
The Democrats had their chance during the last four years, and instead of passing progressive legislation and ending the wars, they have pandered to the right, which has been emboldened by the power the Democrats gave it.
Now the Republicans are poised to take over at least the House of Representatives. And Democrats will begin to spew progressivism out of their lying mouths and abuse the energy of their newly-angry base to try to regain power – like the Republicans have done effectively for the past two years.
Will progressives ever learn that political pandering and fear-based voting never brings anything but defeat, or are we trapped in a vicious cycle of our own making?
A Palestinian home demolished in Beit Hanina, occupied East Jerusalem, July 2009. (Silan Dallal/ActiveStills)
Bulldozers, backed by Israeli soldiers and police forces, razed a Bedouin Palestinian encampment in Isawiya, a village northeast of Jerusalem on Wednesday, 27 October. Israeli forces destroyed tents and other structures that were home to six families, according to Ma’an News Agency (“Israel Razes Bedouin Camp,” 27 October 2010).
“Hani al-Eisaway of the Isawiya Land Defense committee said that the Israeli [forces] bulldozed more than 50 dunams (12.5 acres) of land,” Ma’an reported. The encampment was close to the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim.
Israel has designated the area where the homes were razed as the “E1 zone,” an area in the occupied West Bank and centered in East Jerusalem, where Maale Adumim and other nearby settlement blocs are being planned to connect together.
The massive settlement project would incorporate Givat Zeev and Ariel settlement blocs in the north, Maale Adumim in the center, and Gush Etzion in the south. The plan would also stretch east, connecting to settlements in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley — which Israel has designated a closed military zone, making it off-limits to most Palestinians.
All of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem are illegal under international law and violate several United Nations resolutions. There are currently more than half a million Israelis living in such illegal settlements.
Demolition orders issued in East Jerusalem
Elsewhere in East Jerusalem, protests broke out in the Old City on 25 October after Israeli police handed out 231 demolition orders to Palestinians in Silwan, Shufat, Beit Hanina, Isawiya, Wadi al-Dam and the al-Ras area in Wadi al-Joz, and other neighborhoods across the city, Bethlehem-based International Middle East Media Center reported (“Israel Hands 231 Orders Targeting Arab Homes In Jerusalem,” 26 October 2010).
Israeli police posted notices on the doors of five homes in the Palestinian neighborhood of al-Bustan in Silwan. The notices stated that the houses are “illegal” and therefore could face demolition, promting protests by residents, Ma’an reported. The head of the local popular committee, Fakhri Abu Diab, said “a large force of Israeli border guards ransacked the area, using homes as vantage points to fire tear-gas canisters, stun-grenades and rubber bullets ‘in all directions’” when the protests broke out (““Israeli ministers back new Jerusalem bill,” 24 October 2010).
Many Palestinian homes in Silwan have been demolished and more more are under regular threat as the neighborhood has been a target by the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem municipality. The Israeli government intends to destroy dozens of houses and turn the area into a Jewish historical theme park which would incorporate Jewish-only settlement housing units. Israeli settlers, police and armed forces frequently attack Palestinians in Silwan, prompting clashes and regular protests, while settler takeovers of Palestinian homes continue apace (“Home demolitions, arrest raids as Israel implements Jerusalem ‘Master Plan’,” 2 July 2010).
According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem are faced with discriminatory housing and building policies, forcing residents to build homes without obtaining building permits, thereby designating the homes as “illegal” and subject to demolition. “The Jerusalem Municipality enforces the building laws on Palestinians much more stringently than on the Jewish population, even though the number of violations is much higher in the Jewish neighborhoods,” states B’Tselem (“East Jerusalem: Policy of discrimination in planning, building and land expropriation“).
According to an August report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), demolitions in East Jerusalem have seen a significant spike in 2010. While Israel continues to demolish more Palestinian homes, “it continues to subsidize the Jewish settlements nearby,” stated Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director of HRW (“Israel: New Peak in Arbitrary Razing of Palestinian Homes,” 19 August 2010).
The Israeli government and the municipal authorities have allocated “only 13 percent of East Jerusalem for Palestinian construction, compared with 35 percent for Israeli settlements,” HRW states in its report. “While Israel has built 50,000 housing units for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, it has built virtually none for Palestinians, according to Israeli nongovernmental organizations.”
Settlement-building increases four-fold
Israeli daily Haaretz reported on 15 October that 240 building plans were approved by the Israeli housing ministry for units in Ramot and Pisgat Zeev, settlements in northeastern Jerusalem (“Netanyahu approves tenders for 238 homes east of Green Line,” 15 October 2010).
Illegal settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem has currently increased up to four-fold that of the estimated rate before the so-called settlement moratorium began in December 2009, according to Israeli settlement watchdog group Peace Now (“Settlers confirm work has begun on up to 600 homes,” Associated Press, 25 October 2010). In the same report, Peace Now added that 600 settlement housing units are currently under construction following the end of the moratorium on 27 September.
Additionally, inside Israel itself, the Palestine News Network reported that several Palestinian-owned homes were demolished in the city of Lydd, near Tel Aviv (“Five Demolition Orders Given to Jerusalem Residents, Two Homes Leveled In Lod,” 26 October 2010).
“Before demolition, soldiers arrested two family members for trying to stop the bulldozers,” PNN reported. “A state spokesman said the homes were built without permission.”
The United Kingdom breached its strict obligations under the non proliferation of nuclear weapons treaty (NPT).
The UK and France have agreed on the use of a French laboratory to help maintain and service the UK’s 160 nuclear warheads.
Officials in both countries say that a deal to share the secrets of their nuclear programmes would boost the defence collaboration between the countries and save money at a time when their defence budgets are being cut.
The agreement ends a half a century ban on the United Kingdom sharing nuclear secrets with countries other than the United States.
This collaboration with France goes against the “unequivocal undertaking” given by the nuclear weapon states, of which Britain is part of, in the year 2000 “to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament”, in accordance with their NPT obligations.
BETHLEHEM — PLO negotiator Nabil Sha’ath said Tuesday that dissolving the Palestinian Authority would be considered as a last resort if efforts to end Israel’s occupation failed.
The Fatah official told Ma’an radio that if the PA was unable to meet its responsibilities, it would be shameful to retain authority. “Its decisions are shot down by the occupation, as the people of the West Bank can’t visit Gaza and Gazans can’t live in the West Bank. It is not permitted for anyone to build a new Palestinian village or city, which is unacceptable.”
If Israel’s right-wing administration continues to ignore its obligations, the dissolution of the PA could force Netanyahu to find a solution for the conflict, Sha’ath said.
However, there are alternatives to dissolving the PA to be considered first, Sha’ath said, adding that the PA is ready to return to negotiations “tomorrow” if Israel stops expanding. If Netanyahu continues to refuse, the PLO will seek recognition of statehood from the UN Security Council, the US and the EU, he said.
The Arab League follow-up committee gave the US one month to resolve the current deadlock in negotiations, which stalled when Netanyahu resumed full-scale settlement building across the West Bank in late September.
Sha’ath questioned the ability of the US to put pressure on Israel, which has continued to build on Palestinian land despite signing agreements. “How will they stop the occupation?” he asked.
An 89-year old Jewish man has become the latest target of an organized campaign to rid the Israeli town of Safed of Palestinian-Israelis (Palestinians with Israeli citizenship). On Tuesday, posters appeared all over town denouncing the man for renting an apartment to three Palestinian-Israeli students studying at Safed College.
The public humiliation of the elderly gentleman comes just days after a gang of around thirty Jewish youth attacked a building housing Palestinian-Israeli students, breaking windows and illegally firing a government-issued rifle with live ammunition while shouting “Death to Arabs”.
The elderly apartment owner told reporters that he has also been threatened with violence by anti-Arab leaders in the town, and was told that his building would be torched if he did not evict the Arab students.
While the violence and threats have mainly been carried out by youth, the town’s leadership, including the Chief Rabbi of Safed, have encouraged the campaign with anti-Arab rhetoric and edicts. Chief Rabbi Eliyahu was one of 17 rabbis who issued a public edict to the residents of Safed to refuse to rent property to Arab students. The town’s mayor has also spoken against the presence of Arab students in Safed.
Three weeks ago, the town leadership held an ‘emergency council’ to decry the increase in Arab students enrolled in the local college this term, and calling for the students to be removed from the town.
The 89-year old long-time resident of Safed who was targeted in Tuesday’s campaign, said that although he is scared, he knows that he has the support of other long-term residents of the town, many of whom, like him, moved there as refugees from Europe after World War II. He told reporters with the Israeli daily Ha’aretz that he felt an obligation to house the students because “They’re in school every day and needed a place to sleep at night.”
Prior to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, Safed was a Palestinian town, but was depopulated by Jewish gangs in 1948, and the ‘Arab quarter’ became a haven for Jewish artists and mystics.