By Matt Duss | February 13th, 2010
A Washington Post editorial today calling on President Obama to implement gas sanctions against Iran contains this falsehood:
[F]or every expert who argues that a shortage of gasoline would somehow help Mr. Ahmadinejad, there is one who believes it will deepen popular rejection of the regime.
That’s simply untrue. There’s actually a very substantial agreement among experts that gas sanctions will be an ineffective and potentially counterproductive tool against Iran, and that any anti-government sentiment they generated would likely be overwhelmed by nationalist solidarity in the face of outside pressure.
In December, at a hearing of the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, the four Iran experts testifying were unanimous in recommending against gas sanctions, citing the recent history of such measures helping the Iranian government consolidate power.
At a recent event at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, two leading Iran experts, WINEP’s Patrick Clawson and Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations, came out against gas sanctions. Citing the difficulty of enforcing them, Clawson said the U.S. should “not adopt a sanction on gasoline imports into Iran unless we are prepared to sink Venezuelan ships carrying that gasoline… because it’s going to make [the U.S.] look impotent.”
The number of experts who believe that gas sanctions will deepen popular rejection of the Iranian regime is vanishingly small. The only two I can think of are Mark Dubowitz of the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Michael Rubin of the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute. There are probably a few others, but not nearly enough to constitute a serious disagreement among “experts.” Rubin’s view has even been contradicted by a report from his own think tank, as well as by AEI’s director of foreign policy studies, Danielle Pletka, who has said that the Iranian regime “will likely be impervious” to such sanctions.
The main support for gas sanctions comes not from actual Iran analysts, but from pundits and politicians looking for an easy way to “get tough” on Iran. Now they’ll get to cite this editorial as “evidence” for their views.
The analytical consensus can be a hard thing to define, but with gas sanctions it’s not a tough call. The Washington Post obviously has the right to support aggressive and counterproductive measures against other countries. But it also has a responsibility to its readers to honestly and accurately portray the evidence behind its claims, and it has egregiously failed to do so in regard to gas sanctions.
Urbicide by worming: the zionist entity’s cutting edge in military strategy.
Press TV – February 22, 2010
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues on his campaign for international sanctions to be imposed against Iran’s energy sector.
“We must prohibit Iranian oil exports and imports to Iran of refined oil products. No other sanctions will be effective,” Netanyahu said in Jerusalem (Al-Quds) at a meeting of delegates from the Jewish Agency, an organization that encourages Jewish immigration to Israel.
Netanyahu went so far as to say the UN Security Council should be sidestepped if it cannot agree on the move.
“We have arrived at a point where the international community has to decide if it seriously plans to stop Iran’s nuclear program,” he added.
Netanyahu’s effort to stop Iran’s nuclear program — which Tehran says is peaceful — comes while Israel is reportedly the sole possessor of nuclear arsenals in the Middle East with 200 nuclear warheads.
On a visit to Russia last week, Netanyahu insisted on the need for “biting sanctions that have the power to influence the regime, bitter sanctions that have to hit, in a convincing way, the oil industry, imports, exports and refining.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry, however, rebuffed the call and announced that Moscow is against imposing sanctions on Iran, noting that Russia has always favored a diplomatic solution with regards to Iran’s nuclear program.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow was against imposing “crippling sanctions” on Iran.
The US, Israel and some Western countries accuse Iran of seeking atomic weapons under the guise of its nuclear energy program.
Iran denies that it seeks to build an atomic bomb and says it only wants to enrich uranium for civilian purposes such as generating electricity and producing medical isotopes.
By Nadia Hijab, The Electronic Intifada, 22 February 2010
|The Mamilla cemetery in Jerusalem, 1854. (Wikipedia)|
I carried a handful of ashes from my father’s cremates into the Occupied Palestinian Territories a few years ago, hoping to take them to his hometown, Nablus. At the border, the only available taxi was driven by an Israeli Moroccan Jew. Delighted I was an Arab, he immediately plunged into conversation and pointed out various landmarks along the way to Jerusalem.
“That road,” he said at one point, “leads to Nablus,” indicating the tarmac cutting through the rocky soil as we drove through a desolate area. I asked him to stop the car. Israel often kept Nablus under curfew for weeks on end and I didn’t know if I’d be able to get there during my short trip. On the road to Nablus, I laid the ashes and paid my respects. Back in the car, the puzzled driver wondered what I had been doing. When I told him he asked hesitantly, “Don’t you have rites like ours, including visiting loved ones’ graves?”
I stared at the back of his neck, as brown as my own, as I sought a response. We do have similar rites. It is rare for a Muslim to seek cremation, as in our father’s case, part of the enforced modernity of exile. In fact, at no time is the loss of Palestine more piercing than at a loved one’s passing, reinforcing the realization that, Muslim or Christian, Palestinians are as scattered across the globe in death as in life. But how could one explain 100 years of history in a cab ride? “Yes, but you’ve made it impossible for us to practice ours.”
So it is with special poignancy that I have followed the latest twist in the battle over Jerusalem’s Mamilla Cemetery, a Muslim cemetery known in Arabic as Maman Allah, where the US-based Simon Wiesenthal Center intends to build a Museum of Tolerance, a project stalled by legal and other protests since it began in 2004.
Mamilla is estimated to be over 800 years old and was in continuous use until 1948 when the Western part of Jerusalem was conquered as Israel was created. In the latest Palestinian challenge, representatives of 60 of the oldest and most prominent Jerusalemite families have petitioned several bodies at the United Nations to uphold the international legal obligation to halt the project.
The battle over Mamilla encapsulates many aspects of Israel’s approach to Palestinian rights since the conflict began, and it is worth considering five here.
First, the use of legal garb to shroud illegal acts. In this case, for example, Israel’s high court ruled in favor of the museum project in 2008. However, it turned out that the Israeli Antiquities Authority had withheld its own Chief Excavator’s conclusion that the site should not be approved for construction. Calling the Authority’s conduct an “archeological crime” the Chief Excavator noted, among other things, at least four unexcavated layers of Muslim graves dating back to the 11th century. However, the court has refused to reopen the case.
Second, the overreach. The move on Mamilla spotlights not just Israel’s occupation of Arab East Jerusalem in 1967, but also its original takeover of West Jerusalem. The international community still does not accept Israeli sovereignty over West Jerusalem because the basis for the establishment of the Israeli state — the 1947 United Nations partition plan — provides for a corpus separatum for Jerusalem, as the European Community reminded Israel in 1999.
Third, the ongoing creation of facts on the ground to erase evidence of the indigenous inhabitants. As former Israeli leader Moshe Dayan told Technion University students back in 1969, “There is not one place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”
Fourth, the Orwellian use of language to mean the direct opposite of what is intended: for example “tolerance” for “discrimination.” Indeed, the plans for the Museum of Tolerance are replete with irony. At one point, it was suggested that a horizontal barrier be built to separate the museum and the graves to show “respect” — a horizontal separation of the dead comparable to Israel’s vertical separation barriers in the West Bank and Gaza.
Fifth, the delegitimization — not of Israel, which is a secure member state of the UN — but of the Zionist ideology that resulted in Israel’s creation. These actions remind the world that one people was displaced by another. The project architect, the renowned Frank Gehry, has since withdrawn his plans. Further international attention to the Mamilla case can only add to the growing global campaign to boycott Israel until it upholds international law.
Mamilla is not just about family history but also a nation’s history, as Dyala Husseini-Dajani — who comes from one long-established Jerusalem families and married into another — told a journalist while at the cemetery to say a prayer to her forebears. She added, “One day I want to be buried here. And I want my grandchildren to come and say this prayer for me.” As I read those words, I wished the Moroccan Jewish taxi driver would read them too.
Nadia Hijab is an independent analyst and a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies.
Press TV – February 22, 2010
Turkey has arrested more than 40 people, including high ranking officers, in connection with an alleged military plot against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“This morning our security forces began a detention process,” the prime minister told a news conference during an official visit to Spain. “As of now, more than 40 people have been detained,” he added.
According to Turkish media, former air force chief Ibrahim Firtina, former navy chief Ozden Ornek and other high-ranking officers both retired and on active service in Ankara, Istanbul, the western city of Izmir and the northwestern city of Bursa, were among the detainees. They also included at least five other retired top officials, among them Ergin Saygun, the former First Army commander and retired admirals Ahmet Feyyaz Ogutcu and Lutfi Sancar, the reports said.
Those held were brought to Istanbul for questioning by anti-terror police, AFP reported. The detainees arrested over alleged links to a purported 2003 plot, which was revealed by the liberal Taraf daily in January.
The daily published what it described as a document drafted in April by a navy colonel on blocking efforts by Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party from “destroying Turkey’s secular order and replacing it with an Islamist state.”
Turkish military chief, Gen. Ilker Basburg, however, dismissed the allegations saying as far as the military investigators were concerned the document was fake.
Ma’an – 22/02/2010
Jerusalem – A street collapse near the entrance of the Bab Khan Az-Zeit market in the Old City of Jerusalem occurred on Sunday, as a result of Israeli excavations in the area, witnesses reported.
“A two by one meter deep hole was left following the collapse,” Ma’an’s Jerusalem correspondent said.
The latest collapse is reportedly related to ongoing Israeli archeological digs around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which have caused a series of cave-ins around the Old City and in East Jerusalem neighborhoods.
The cave-in follows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to include two sites in the occupied Palestinian territories on an Israeli heritage list, The Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.
In January, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage reported a street collapse on the main road in the area of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem, causing a hole in similar dimensions to the most recent cave-in.
According to the foundation, the collapse was related to ongoing excavations by Israeli authorities in the vicinity, apparently on tunnels extending underneath the neighborhood about 700 meters from the mosque compound. Authorities recently removed quantities of dirt and rocks from under Silwan to undisclosed locations, the statement said.
A second collapse was further reported in Silwan in January, by the Wadi Hilwah Information Centre, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound which creating a 12 meter square hole in the middle of Wadi Hilwah street.
Jawad Siam, head of the information centre, said that the latest collapse in Wadi Hilwah took place over a 10 meter deep tunnel and is was few meters from the previous cave-in in January.
A child was injured and a vehicle fell ithrough the site, Siam said, adding that the local Al-Ein mosque, where Israeli excavation has intensified, was flooded as rainwater seeped into the collapsed site.
The Al-Quds Centre for Economic and Social rights said that this incident follows a number of similar collapses in Silwan recently, pointing out that last year, a collapse occurred in a girls’ school, injuring 17 students.
AFP | February 22, 2010
“I did not get a straight answer,” Mariyam Alavi said in a letter published in Arab News on her question to the top US diplomat last Tuesday. “My question was simple and direct enough,” she wrote, but Ms Clinton’s response “was very unsatisfying.”
Alavi, a 12th grader at the International Indian School in Jeddah, attended the meeting at the elite Dar al-Hekma College with six classmates. She had asked Ms Clinton about Washington’s stance on the existence of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
If the Americans “so vehemently oppose Iran’s nuclear programme,” she had asked, “then why isn’t the US asking Israel to give up their nuclear weapons?”
Ms Clinton gave a lengthy answer detailing the US case against Iran, but did not mention Israel. She did, however, say that “we want not only a world free of nuclear weapons, we want a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, including everyone.”
Alavi’s Arab News letter assailed US “hypocrisy” over the issue, reflecting a widely held sentiment in in the region.
“Clinton said that the United States, under the able leadership of President Barack Obama, was trying to repair and strengthen its ties with the Muslim world.
“It is high time she realised it couldn’t be done without answering the questions uppermost in the minds of the Middle East people.”
Alavi said she had been nervous about asking such a “politically provocative question” but was then encouraged by strong applause from the audience when she addressed Ms Clinton.
Ms Clinton had been on a three-day trip to Qatar and Saudi Arabia to discuss, among other things, how to confront Iran’s alleged programme to develop nuclear weapons.
Press TV – February 22, 2010
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa says his country was added to a list of states accused of lagging in the campaign against money laundering to punish it for its ties with Iran.
“This decision has nothing to do with the fight against money laundering, or the fight against the funding of terrorism… It has to do with that we have an embassy in Iran,” Correa said in the highland town of Sangolqui outside Quito on Saturday.
“So because we have misbehaved. They are giving us a smack so we don’t misbehave,” he added, describing the move as a “hypocritical punishment.”
“Instead of revising themselves, they condemn us. There is no money laundering here my friends. There is no terrorism, and no funding of terrorism. Imagine if he had money to fund terrorism, I wish I had money to build all the schools that I want to build,” he said.
The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, or FATF, named Ecuador and Iran on a list of states that it says are failing to comply with international regulations against money laundering and financing terrorism.
However, Correa said that Ecuador’s two dozen banks had perfectly adequate legislation to protect against laundering and terrorism financing and dismissed the report as “a huge lie.”
Under Correa’s administration, Ecuador has strengthened diplomatic and commercial ties with Iran, which has opened an embassy in Quito.
In recent years, Iran has looked to increase its cooperation with Latin American states such as Ecuador, to the chagrin of Washington.
Citing a 2009 agreement between Ecuador’s Central Bank and some Iranian financial institutions, Ecuador’s private bank association said on Friday that it believed the Iran factor was behind the country’s inclusion on the FATF list.
Ma’an – 22/02/2010
Gaza – Hamas said Monday that Dubai Chief of Police Dahi Khalfan Tamim had yet to provide evidence that a collaborator from within the movement had supplied Mossad with information on Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, who was killed in his Dubai hotel room in January.
“Who is this person he speaks of, why haven’t they disclosed his name and why wasn’t he arrested like the two other Palestinians?” read a statement from a party official.
UAE media outlets reported that Tamim accused a member of Hamas of providing information to the Israeli intelligence agency on Al-Mabhouh’s movements and locations in Dubai to facilitate the hit.
Sources said that the movement had not been informed of the Dubai police’s investigations into the murder. “It is illogical to see Hamas learn of case through the media,” adding that it was unclear if Tamim’s claims were based on evidence or mere speculation.
Hamas spokesman Salah Al-Bardawil said Saturday that Al-Mabhouh’s pursuers could have learned of his whereabouts from a telephone call he made to his family before leaving for Dubai, informing them of his hotel details and the online booking he made when purchasing airline tickets.
On Sunday, the British weekly The Sunday Times reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the final authorization to carry out the assassination Al-Mabhouh in Dubai, and that he met with members of the 11-person hit squad, traveling on a host of European passports.
Members of the hit squad had visited Dubai on previous occasions to follow up on Al-Mabhouh’s movements and trained in a Tel Aviv hotel to prepare for the hit, the weekly wrote.