The US government (White House and Congress) spends $10 billion dollars a month, or $120 billion a year, to fight an estimated “50 -75 ‘Al Qaeda types’ in Afghanistan”, according to the CIA and quoted in the Financial Times of London (6/25 -26/11, p. 5). During the past 30 months of the Obama presidency, Washington has spent $300 billion dollars in Afghanistan, which adds up to $4 billion dollars for each alleged ‘Al Queda type’. If we multiply this by the two dozen or so sites and countries where the White House claims ‘Al Qaeda’ terrorists have been spotted, we begin to understand why the US budget deficit has grown astronomically to over $1.6 trillion for the current fiscal year.
During Obama’s Presidency, Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment has been frozen, resulting in a net decrease of over 8 percent, which is exactly the amount spent chasing just 5 dozen ‘Al Qaeda terrorists’ in the mountains bordering Pakistan.
It is absurd to believe that the Pentagon and White House would spend $10 billion a month just to hunt down a handful of terrorists ensconced in the mountains of Afghanistan. So what is the war in Afghanistan about? The answer one most frequently reads and hears is that the war is really against the Taliban, a mass-based Islamic nationalist guerrilla movement with tens of thousands of activists. The Taliban, however, have never engaged in any terrorist act against the territorial United States or its overseas presence. The Taliban have always maintained their fight was for the expulsion of foreign forces occupying Afghanistan. Hence the Taliban is not part of any “international terrorist network”.
If the US war in Afghanistan is not about defeating terrorism, then why the massive expenditure of funds and manpower for over a decade? Several hypotheses come to mind:
The first is the geopolitics of Afghanistan: The US is actively establishing forward military bases, surrounding and bordering on China.
Secondly, US bases in Afghanistan serve as launching pads to foment “dissident separatist” armed ethnic conflicts and apply the tactics of ‘divide and conquer’ against Iran, China, Russia and Central Asian republics.
Thirdly, Washington’s launch of the Afghan war (2001) and the easy initial conquest encouraged the Pentagon to believe that a low cost, easy military victory was at hand, one that could enhance the image of the US as an invincible power, capable of imposing its rule anywhere in the world, unlike the disastrous experience of the USSR.
Fourthly, the early success of the Afghan war was seen as a prelude to the launching of a sequence of successful wars, first against Iraq and to be followed by Iran, Syria and beyond. These would serve the triple purpose of enhancing Israeli regional power, controlling strategic oil resources and enlarging the arc of US military bases from South and Central Asia, through the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean.
The strategic policies, formulated by the militarists and Zionists in the Bush and Obama Administrations, assumed that guns, money, force and bribes could build stable satellite states firmly within the orbit of the post-Soviet US empire. Afghanistan was seen as an easy first conquest the initial step to sequential wars. Each victory, it was assumed would undermine domestic and allied (European) opposition. The initial costs of imperial war, the Neo-Cons claimed, would be paid for by wealth extracted from the conquered countries, especially from the oil producing regions.
The rapid US defeat of the Taliban government confirmed the belief of the military strategists that “backward”, lightly armed Islamic peoples were no match up for the US powerhouse and its astute leaders.
Wrong Assumptions, Mistaken Strategies: The Trillion Dollar Disaster
Every assumption, formulated by these civilian strategists and their military counterparts, has been proven wrong. Al Qaeda was and is a marginal adversary; the real force capable of sustaining a prolonged peoples war against an imperial occupier, inflicting heavy casualties, undermining any local puppet regime and accumulating mass support is the Taliban and related nationalist resistance movements. Israeli-influenced US think-tanks, experts and advisers who portrayed the Islamic adversaries as inept, ineffective and cowardly, totally misread the Afghan resistance. Blinded by ideological antipathy, these high-ranking advisers and White House/Pentagon civilian-office holders failed to recognize the tactical and strategic, political and military acumen of the top and middle-level Islamist nationalist leaders and their tremendous reserve of mass support in neighboring Pakistan and beyond.
The Obama White House, heavily dependent on Islamophobic pro-Israel experts, further isolated the US troops and alienated the Afghan population by tripling the number of troops, further establishing the credentials of the Taliban as the authentic alternative to a foreign occupation.
As for the neo-conservative pipe dreams of successful sequential wars, cooked up by the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, Feith, Abrams, Libby et al, to eliminate Israel’s adversaries and turn the Persian Gulf into a Hebrew lake, the prolonged wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have, in fact, strengthened Iran’s regional influence, turned the entire Pakistani people against the US and strengthened mass movements against US clients throughout the Middle East.
Sequential imperial defeats have resulted in a massive hemorrhage of the US treasury, rather than the promised flood of oil wealth from tributary clients. According to a recent scholarly study, the military cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have exceeded $3.2 trillion dollars (“The Costs of War Since 2001”, Eisenhower Study Group, June 2011) and is growing at over ten billion a month. Meanwhile the Taliban “tightens (its) psychological grip” on Afghanistan (FT 6/30/2011, p. 8). According to the latest reports even the most guarded 5-star hotel in the center of Kabul, the Intercontinental, was vulnerable to a sustained assault and take over by militants, because “high security Afghan forces” are infiltrated and the Taliban operate everywhere, having established “shadow” governments in most cities, towns and villages (FT 6/30/11 p.8).
Imperial Decline, Empty Treasury and the Specter of a Smash-Up
The crumbling empire has depleted the US treasury. As the Congress and White House fight over raising the debt ceiling, the cost of war aggressively erodes any possibility of maintaining stable living standards for the American middle and working classes and heightens growing inequalities between the top 1% and the rest of the American people. Imperial wars are based on the pillage of the US treasury. The imperial state has, via extraordinary tax exemptions, concentrated wealth in the hands of the super-rich while the middle and working classes have been pushed downward, as only low paid jobs are available.
In 1974, the top 1% of US individuals accounted for 8% of total national income but as of 2008 they earned 18% of national income. And most of this 18% is concentrated in the hands of a tiny super-rich 1% of that 1%, or 0.01% of the American population, (FT 6/28/11, p. 4 and 6/30/11, p. 6). While the super-rich plunder the treasury and intensify the exploitation of labor, the number of middle income jobs is plunging: From 1993 to 2006, over 7% of middle income jobs disappeared (FT 6/30/11, p. 4). While inequalities may be rising throughout the world, the US now has the greatest inequalities among all the leading capitalist countries.
The burden of sustaining a declining empire, with its the monstrous growth in military spending, has fallen disproportionately on middle and working class taxpayers and wage earners. The military and financial elites’ pillage of the economy and treasury has set in motion a steep decline in living standards, income and job opportunities. Between 1970 -2009, while gross domestic product more than doubled, US median pay stagnated in real terms (FT 7/28/11, p. 4). If we factor in the added fixed costs of pensions, health and education, real income for wage and salaried workers, especially since the 1990’s, has been declining sharply.
Even greater blows are to come in the second half 2011: As the Obama White House expands its imperial interventions in Pakistan, Libya and Yemen, increasing military and police-state spending, Obama is set to reach budgetary agreements with the far right Republicans, which will savage government health care programs, like MEDICARE and MEDICAID, as well as Social Security, the national retirement program. Prolonged wars have pushed the budget to the breaking point, while the deficit undermines any capacity to revive the economy as it heads toward a ‘repeat recession’.
The entire political establishment is bizarrely oblivious to the fact that their multi-hundred- billion-dollar pursuit of an estimated 50-75 phantom Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan has hastened the disappearance of middle income jobs in the US. The entire political spectrum has turned decisively to the Right and the Far-Right. The debate between Democrats and Republicans is over whether to slash four trillion or more from the last remnants of our country’s social programs. The Democrats and the Far-Right are united as they pursue multiple wars while currying favor and funds from upper 0.01% super-rich, financial and real estate moguls whose wealth has grown so dramatically during the crisis!
But there is a deep and quiet discomfort within the leading circles of the Obama regime: The “best and brightest” among his top officials are scampering to jump ship before the coming deluge: the Economic Guru Larry Summers, Rahm Emmanuel, Stuart Levey, Peter Orzag, Bob Gates, Tim Geithner and others, responsible for the disastrous wars, economic catastrophes, the gross concentration of wealth and the savaging of our living standards, have walked out or have announced their ‘retirement’, leaving it to the smiling con-men – President Obama and Vice-President ‘Joe’ Biden – and their ‘last and clueless loyalists’ to take the blame when the economy tanks and our social programs are wiped out. How else can we explain their less-than-courageous departures (to ‘spend more time with the family’) in the face of such a deepening crisis?
The hasty retreat of these top officials is motivated by their desire to avoid political responsibility and to escape history’s indictment for their role in the impending economic debacle. They are eager to hide from a future judgment over which policy makers and leaders and what policies led to the destruction of the American middle and working classes with their good jobs, stable pensions, Social Security, decent health care and respected place in the world.
After turning down loans from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Egypt is now turning to oil-rich Arab Gulf States to finance its budget deficit.
Some of the money is supposedly being given freely, as “gifts” rather than loans, but some fear that accepting the money will come with political baggage and behind-the-scenes deals. The grants come as Egypt is testing its foreign policy in the region.
The irony of a newly-democratic Egypt turning to the traditional monarchies stifling dissent within their own borders has not been lost on many commentators.
“Why, how, what did we do to get their satisfaction?” said Reda Issa, an independent economic researcher who objects to Egypt taking money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. “Why are they offering to give this money? Why now? Nobody knows.”
Just months ago, Gulf states did not express support for the revolution, said Issa,
Because their interests do not align with the forces that overthrew Hosni Mubarak, he said Egypt should be wary of their money.
Throughout the weeks of protest against the former president, the Gulf countries suppressed democratic movements in their own monarchies. Saudi Arabia offered to financially support Mubarak ‘s government if the United States decided to withdraw its US$1.5 in annual aid. Following his ouster, various Saudi government figures called for pardoning Mubarak.
In the most recent offer on 7 July, the United Arab Emirates promised that it would give Egypt $3 billion in financial assistance. The money would be in addition to Qatar’s pledge of $10 billion and the $4 billion Saudi Arabia has already promised.
Most of these offers are a mixture of funds, loans, and grants. The amounts will probably be paid at intervals.
The UAE money includes a $1.5 billion fund for small to medium businesses, $750 million in loans, and a $750 million grant, with no expectations of repayment. The Saudi money includes a $500 million grant to help finance the budget deficit, $500 million in loans, and $500 million in Egyptian bond purchases.
The $10 billion from Qatar will probably be mostly investments, but the country has also given some grants.
In the weeks that Egypt was revising its budget so not to take on IMF and World Bank loans, Qatar provided $500 million to help the budget immediately. Finance Minister Samir Radwan, when asked about any conditions to the money, said “That is a gift.”
Earlier this week Egypt’s new foreign minister announced that there is no pressure from Gulf countries to prevent the criminal trial of Mubarak, a theory that has been widely circulated. The foreign minister also denied that the Gulf states are pressuring Egypt not to resume regular ties with Iran.
The interim government has said it requires between $10 and 12 billion in international funding in the next year to keep running. It was initially thought that the IMF and World Bank would help Egypt close the fiscal gap.
But after announcing a budget that was conditioned upon acceptance of a $3 billion IMF loan and World Bank money in June, Egypt’s finance ministry retracted the proposed budget last week.
In taking the money from the Gulf, analysts say, Egypt’s interim government is avoiding taking on debt from the World Bank and IMF, perhaps at the expense of making political concessions to Arab neighbors. The decision came as a surprise to some, including those involved in the talks.
Radwan said in an interview with the Financial Times that the decision was made in response to public disapproval of the IMF and World Bank. Other reports said the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) had taken issue with conditions of the loans and did not approve them.
Two days after Radwan’s announcement, a World Bank spokesperson said that discussions were still ongoing and that they had heard nothing from the government to suggest the contrary. Ratna Sahay, IMF deputy director of the Middle East, maintained that Egypt had not decided against the fund’s offer because of IMF stipulations.
“Nothing was hidden or kept quiet,” she said.
And so a new budget was formulated and ratified on 4 July, with Gulf, not IMF, money picking up the slack. The new budget cut back on government spending and reduced the projected deficit from 11 percent to 8.6 percent. A copy of that budget has yet to be made public.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera television, Radwan said that the decision to reject IMF and World Bank money was because neither the government nor the SCAF wanted to leave behind “a legacy of debt.”
When asked whether money from the Arabian Peninsula came with any conditions, he said, “None whatsoever.”
But the disarray and opaqueness of it all, including how the Gulf money will be given and used, is what concerns Issa. Who knows, he said, what conditions could be attached to the money, because the government is not conducting talks in a transparent way.
“There has to be a political reason,” he said. “We are not foolish enough to believe that money is given for nothing.”
The UAE announcement comes just after Foreign Minister Mohamed al-Orabi assured Gulf leaders that Egypt will not pursue relations with Iran if it means risking stability in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar consider neighboring Iran a threat to their security. During Orabi’s visit to the region, Orabi mostly assuaged the fears of Gulf leaders. Sharaf’s trip to the UAE struck the same tone.
Alanoud Al-Sharekh, a senior fellow for regional politics at the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and former analyst at the Kuwait National Security Bureau, said Gulf countries simply see their grants as an investment in the region’s stability that will help restore Gulf investors to Egypt.
“The GCC countries have all been crucial in supporting Arab states financially, they have a history of giving money to Egypt,” she said. “This is not a new phenomenon.”
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf are also home to hundreds of thousands of Egyptian workers, whose remittances feed money into Egypt’s economy. In addition to government support, Gulf businessmen are some of Egypt’s biggest investors.
It is a crucial period for the Gulf and the rest of the region, Sharekh said, a time when relationships can be strengthened or broken.
Saudi Arabia in particular, formerly a strong ally with Mubarak, does not currently enjoy a good reputation among most Egyptians.
In the days following the uprising, many speculated that Saudi royalty and businesses were funding a counterrevolutionary movement, perhaps even providing money to extremists that would incite sectarian violence.
In February, a government official said that Saudi Arabia had offered to host Mubarak in the country, but the former president turned it down, determined to die on Egyptian soil. Former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, also an unpopular figure, found sanctuary in the kingdom after being deposed by a Tunisia’s popular rebellion.
In May, Saudi princes offered to pay Mubarak’s hospital expenses, upon hearing that the Egyptian government was unwilling to foot the bill.
Not all Gulf States were on great terms with Mubarak; the Qatari ruling family and Mubarak were far from close, and their investments could be seen as a way to rewrite the relationship with Egypt.
In that light, the UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia might be making clever plays to bolster their image and gain influence in Egypt’s new government.
The moves “also cement [the GCC countries’] position in foreign policy,” she said, “[irrespective of] whether they are popular on the street.”
RAMALLAH, West Bank – Moad Arqoub, a Palestinian graduate student, was bouncing around the Internet the other day and came across a site that surprised and attracted him. It was a Facebook page where Israelis and Palestinians and other Arabs were talking about everything at once: the prospects of peace, of course, but also soccer, photography and music.
“I joined immediately because right now, without a peace process and with Israelis and Palestinians physically separated, it is really important for us to be interacting without barriers,” Mr. Arqoub said as he sat at an outdoor cafe in this Palestinian city.
The Facebook page Bronner profiles is called YaLa-Young Leaders and is founded by Uri Savir, a former Israeli diplomat and head of the Peres Center for Peace. It is supposed to be a forum for interaction and normalization between Israeli and Palestinian youth in particular, and Israeli and Arab youth in general.
It is endorsed by Israeli President Shimon Peres, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, and Tony Blair – figures more likely to repel than attract Palestinian youth.
But Bronner’s story reads more like a promotional piece than a report. He appears to have relied only on the page’s creators for information, and presented people involved in managing the project as if they were unaffiliated users. Whether he was duped, careless or engaging in advocacy, Bronner’s report raises many questions about his standards of reporting from Palestine.
Moreover, while falsely presenting the project as popular with Palestinians and Arabs, Bronner ignores the vast body of Palestinian public opinion that opposes such projects for violating the Palestinian civil society call for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel.
Who are Moad Arqoub and Hamze Awawde?
Moad Arqoub and Hamze Awawde are real people whom Bronner quotes in his story as if they were just ordinary Palestinian users of the YaLa Facebook page.
But examination of online records shows that Arqoub and Awawde are likely involved in the YaLa project, and already knew each other long before YaLa was created through their work with and participation in MEPEACE, an organization and Ning social network founded by an Israeli activist, Eyal Raviv.
Bronner’s claim that Moad Arqoub was merely “bouncing around the Internet the other day and came across a site that surprised and attracted him” is highly suspect and not credible as the evidence will show.
YaLa’s Facebook page was apparently created in early May (the first postings are on 4 May). Arqoub began participating on YaLa’s Facebook page as early as 22 May.
Both Arqoub and Hamze Awawde “liked” a posting from that day which announced the upcoming creation of a discussion forum.
Awawde also makes an appearance in Bronner’s story and is pictured in it:
Most of the talk seems to be between people in Ramallah and Tel Aviv. But Hamze Awawde, a 21-year-old student here in Ramallah said he got “friend” requests on Yala from Morocco and Egypt.
He said: “I asked one Egyptian why he had contacted me and why he was taking part in this, and he said: ‘After the revolution, everything is permitted. I want to see what Israelis are like.’”
This is Bronner’s only reference to Awawde, presenting him – like Arqoub – as just another user.
But what Bronner does not disclose is that by every indication Awawde is a representative of the YaLa project, and there are strong indications that Arqoub assists him. Moreover, apart from fleeting comments here and there, Arqoub and Awawde appear to be the only Palestinians with any involvement or investment in YaLa.
Who manages the YaLa Facebook page?
Awawde’s role as a representative of YaLa can be easily seen from his frequent postings on the page’s wall – answering questions from other users and posting information about a photo contest that Bronner mentions in the article.
Awawde used the YaLa logo as his avatar on his personal Facebook page and when responding to questions and leaving comments (Awawde replaced the avatar with the picture of him that appeared in The New York Times a few hours after Bronner’s article was published online).
While Hamze Awawde clearly appeared to be acting as a representative for YaLa, Arqoub’s role is slightly less clear. But the nature of his involvement in it and the fact that it began a lot further back than “the other day,” as well as his prior relationship with Eyal Raviv and Awawde through the very similar project MEPEACE casts severe doubt on Bronner’s account.
At times, Arqoub appears to assist Awawde in representing the project. For example on 19 June, Arqoub answers a question posed in Hebrew by another user about the date of the photo contest.
Both Awawde and Arqoub responded enthusiastically, Arqoub writing, “Ahlan Eyal Raviv Fast progress :1,277 now ! we will be 1 000 000 soon Inshallah :)” – suggestive that Arqoub felt some responsibility for ensuring the success of the page.
Awawde and Arqoub already knew each other through MEPEACE
MEPEACE was founded in 2008 according to a Haaretz profile and has similar goals to YaLa: encouraging normalization between Palestinian and Israeli youth.
On his Facebook profile, Awawde lists under “Employers”: “mepeace.org with Eyal Raviv.”
Arqoub has also been involved in MEPEACE since 2008, the same year it was founded. In December last year, for example, Arqoub is acknowledged along with Raviv for work on an MEPEACE video called “Middle East Peace start with each of us” [sic].
Photographs posted publicly on mepeace.org show Awawde and Arqoub seated together in a January 2010 MEPEACE event. The two are recognizable in the photographs, and images of the same event posted on Facebook are tagged with Moad Arqoub’s name and describe the event as a “Leadership Training” held in the occupied West Bank town of Beit Jala. Other photographs taken at the same event show that Eyal Raviv was also present. Awawde is pictured at many other MEPEACE events in 2010 and 2011.
Hamze Awawde (left) and Moad Arqoub (second from left) in January 2010. (Waleed Hammad/MEPEACE)
Thus, Awawde, Arqoub and Raviv are part of a tight “peace dialogue” circle. The notion that Arqoub just happened upon the YaLa site serendipitously as Bronner claims is simply not credible. Awawde and Arqoub have not responded to emails requesting comment, but this article will be updated with their responses if they do.
Raviv offers congratulations for New York Times article
After Bronner’s profile of YaLa was published on The New York Times website, Raviv, Arqoub and Awawde quickly began to circulate it among their networks, especially on mepeace.org and Facebook. Raviv posted the following message on Facebook: “Congratulations to MEPEACE Peacemakers Hamze Awawde and Moad Arqoub on their success and sensational story in the New York Times about YaLa-Young Leaders.”
Exaggerated claims of participation
Called Facebook.com/yalaYL, the site, created by a former Israeli diplomat and unambiguous about its links to Israel, has had 91,000 views in its first month. Of its 22,500 active users, 60 percent are Arabs – mostly Palestinians, followed by Egyptians, Jordanians, Tunisians, Moroccans, Lebanese and Saudis.
Yet close examination of the Facebook page finds little to substantiate this. When first viewed by The Electronic Intifada at approximately 6:30 p.m. in Chicago on 9 July, the page had just 2,971 fans. This rose above 3,000 within hours, almost certainly as a result of the publicity from Bronner’s article.
The page’s wall and discussions reveal little activity and much of that is by Israelis. Very few Arabs participate, with the exception of Awawde and Arqoub. An early participant in MEPEACE had the same observation about that group in 2008 – the vast majority of the activity was by and about Israelis.
Bronner ignores mainstream Palestinian opinion
Bronner presents YaLa as unambiguously positive – a “virtual bridge” – and even claims that:
the Facebook page has surprised those involved by the enthusiasm it has generated, suggesting that the Facebook-driven revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt may offer guidance for coexistence efforts as well.
Not only is there no evidence for this enthusiasm on YaLa’s page, but there is strong general resistance to such normalization projects within Palestinian civil society and in the Arab world more broadly. These initiatives are opposed because they reward Israel with normal relations and integration without requiring it to end its oppression of Palestinians and its occupation of Arab land. They may also violate the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as well as the call for cultural and academic boycott of Israel.
Cultural events and projects involving Palestinians and/or Arabs and Israelis that promote “balance” between the “two sides” in presenting their respective narratives, as if on par, or are otherwise based on the false premise that the colonizers and the colonized, the oppressors and the oppressed, are equally responsible for the “conflict,” are intentionally deceptive, intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible. Such events and projects, often seeking to encourage dialogue or “reconciliation between the two sides” without addressing the requirements of justice, promote the normalization of oppression and injustice. All such events and projects that bring Palestinians and/or Arabs and Israelis together, unless framed within the explicit context of opposition to occupation and other forms of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, are strong candidates for boycott.
There is nothing on YaLa’s page that expresses opposition to Israeli occupation and oppression, and indeed Bronner quoted Salah al-Ayan, “a Palestinian Authority official and a friend of Mr. Savir’s who is helping with the site” saying:
“Our goal is to start by talking about art and sports. Since Israelis and Palestinians don’t meet face to face anymore, this is a virtual place to meet. I was happy when I saw that some Palestinians had voted for Israeli photos in the contest.”
Palestinian youth reject normalization
Last year, dozens of Palestinian youth organizations throughout Palestine and the diaspora signed a joint statement condemning such initiatives under the banner of “Palestinian youth united against normalization with Israel.” The statement rejected:
the efforts of Israel and its apologists around the world, who aim to direct our efforts at convincing Israel of our inalienable rights rather than resisting its oppression through legitimate and legal means to obtain them; especially organizations that aim to convince us that that conflict is but a symptom of psychological barriers that can disappear through dialogue with the other. Such organizations they completely ignore the reality which is Israel’s oppression and systematic discrimination against the Palestinian people. Organizations like Seeds of Peace, One Voice, NIR School, IPCRI, Panorama, and others specifically target Palestinian youth to engage them in dialogue with Israelis without recognizing the inalienable rights of Palestinians, or aiming to end Israel’s occupation, colonization, and apartheid.
While Bronner might disagree with these positions, his job is to report the views of Palestinians, not to help promote astroturf organizations where a tiny minority of Palestinians are falsely portrayed as speaking for a nonexistent groundswell.
Where are the Palestinian organizations YaLa boasts about?
On the info section of its Facebook page, YaLa makes the following claim:
YaLa is an opportunity provided by Israeli and Palestinian organizations, led by the Peres Center for Peace and the Palestinian Wide Link Media company, as well as international business, cultural and sports entities….
Little is known about the Wide Link Media company. A domain name (wlinkmedia.com) that is registered to the company in Ramallah is devoid of content and up for sale. A LinkedIn profile for Wide Link Media names the director of the company as Mamoun Matar, who elsewhere identifies himself as a media consultant and also has a profile on Eyal Raviv’s MEPEACE social network.
There is no indication of any participation from grassroots Palestinian organizations.
Ethan Bronner’s report is no more than a press release from the YaLa-Young Leaders initiative, which is itself nothing more than another Israeli attempt to use social media for hasbara.
Perception of Syrian conflict defined by baseless “activist” statements
Tony Cartalucci | Activist Post | July 10, 2011
Bangkok, Thailand July 10, 2011 – According to Fortune 500/Soros-funded Human Rights Watch whose sponsors represent a corportocracy that has been attempting to breakdown and despoil Syria for decades, anonymous Syrian soldiers who defected and are now living abroad have “claimed” that they were ordered to “shoot to kill.” According to the Qatari propagandists at state-owned Al Jazeera, one of the “interviewees” told HRW that their “superiors had told them that they were fighting infiltrators, salafists, and terrorists, but were surprised to encounter unarmed protesters instead.”
Of course, not a shred of evidence exists to back any of these claims – just Human Rights Watch’s “good” corporate-funded word, and the slick graphics of Al Jazeera along with the $500 suits worn by their correspondents in their multi-million dollar studios. Al Jazeera, it should be remembered, is state-owned by the government of Qatar – the same government shipping weapons to Libya’s Benghazi rebels in support of NATO’s military campaign, in direct violation of their own contrived UNSC r.1973. It is quite clear that their insistence on reporting unverifiable, slanted news, in favor of yet another Western-backed destabilization constitutes their current modus operandi.
For months now, Syria has been destabilized by admittedly US funded “activists” and groups of militants responsible for the death of hundreds of Syrian security forces. An April AFP report titled, “US trains activists to evade security forces,” admits that indeed the US is funding, equipping, and training armies of activists to effectively rise up and topple their governments. Michael Posner, the assistant US secretary of state for human rights and labor, said that $50 million had been spent on training up to 5,000 activists, and one particular gathering that included activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon who would then go back and create a “ripple effect.” The “ripple effect” of course is the foreign-funded sedition unfolding across Syria today. … Full article
The Zionist entity is to expel 124 mostly European activists who had managed to arrive on flights to the country as part of a pro-Palestinian protest, an official said on Saturday.
“Access to Israeli territory was blocked to 124 pro-Palestinian militants coming from Europe, who are now being held in Israel jails,” said Sabine Hadad, spokeswoman for the immigration service.
They will be expelled “as soon as there are places on appropriate flights,” she said, adding that because Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath, “there are not a lot of flights and this could take a bit of time.”
She said most of the activists were French, with the others being American, Belgian, Bulgarian, Dutch and Spanish.
While awaiting expulsion, they are being held at two jails — one near Tel Aviv and the other in the Negev desert.
The activists were participating in the “Welcome to Palestine” campaign, which some have called the “flytilla,” in which up to 800 activists were to fly in on a peaceful mission to visit Palestinian families.
Zionist authorities said they largely managed to pre-empt the campaign by foreign activists demonstrating for the right of access to the occupied West Bank.
Officials said that by notifying foreign airlines of ticket-holders who would not be admitted to the occupied territories, they had prevented hundreds from boarding at their ports of departure.
The “flytilla” took place as a flotilla of ships was being prevented by Greece from sailing to the Gaza Strip in a bid to break the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian territory.
Not content with having helped in no small way in bringing “freedom” to much of the Arab world during the “revolutionary” spring of 2011, Freedom House is now setting its sights on what it sees as another “Outpost of Tyranny” — the former Soviet Union. In a Foreign Policy op-ed piece, its president David J. Kramer and director of studies Christopher Walker argue:
While the collapse of the authoritarian regimes of the former Soviet Union may not be imminent, it is clear that they suffer from many of the same grave flaws that led to this year’s Arab revolts. Lacking established succession mechanisms and leaning heavily on informal, personality-based patronage networks, they are inherently unstable. Ultimately, the former Soviet states that are currently languishing under autocratic rule must confront, or be confronted by, the myriad problems they have left unresolved.
The transatlantic democracies, therefore, have a clear strategic interest in helping reforms occur sooner rather than later and under more orderly circumstances. A more peaceful, sustainable transition is more likely when it can be negotiated between the regime, the opposition and civil society than when it takes place under crisis conditions, when crowds are already massing on the streets.
David J. Kramer, who preceded Michael Posner as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, was a senior fellow at the neoconservative Project for the New American Century. He is currently on the advisory council of the “Iran Strategy Task Force” — a joint initiative of Freedom House and the Progressive Policy Institute. “The dominant issues in the Middle East are democracy and freedom. The Iran regime thinks that it can escape demands for change,” says one of its co-chairs. “The United States, and its allies, therefore need a strategy that will help Iranians attain the human rights they so richly deserve.”
One would hope that few human rights activists in the targeted countries would be taken in by such rhetoric. However, Freedom House’s successful wooing of the future “Arab Spring” protestors doesn’t bode well for the regimes in Iran and the former Soviet Union.
According to a New York Times report titled “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” some Egyptian activists baulked at taking money and training from a U.S. government-funded organization whose freedom-loving board of trustees includes such pro-Israel stalwarts as Thomas Dine, Max Kampelman, Kenneth Adelman, Paula Dobriansky and Joshua Muravchik:
Affiliating themselves with the American organizations may have tainted leaders within their own groups. According to one diplomatic cable, leaders of the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt told the American Embassy in 2009 that some members of the group had accused Ahmed Maher, a leader of the January uprising, and other leaders of “treason” in a mock trial related to their association with Freedom House, which more militant members of the movement described as a “Zionist organization.”
A prominent blogger, according to a cable, threatened to post the information about the movement leaders’ links to Freedom House on his blog.
There is no evidence that this ever happened, and a later cable shows that the group ousted the members who were complaining about Mr. Maher and other leaders.
Interesting also that Foreign Policy, which has Steve Walt as one of its bloggers, is now giving the staunchly pro-Israel Freedom House a platform to advocate for regime change in countries such as Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Talk about skewing foreign policy “while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.”
The Zionist entity is to seek a U.N. opinion on its maritime borders with Lebanon in the Mediterranean, where lucrative offshore gas fields have been found, Zionist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday.
“We will soon be presenting the United Nations headquarters in New York with our position on our maritime borders,” Lieberman told Zionist public radio.
“We have already concluded an agreement on this issue with Cyprus… Lebanon, under pressure from Hezbollah, is looking for friction, but we will not give up any part of what is rightfully ours,” he added.
The occupying entity has been moving to develop several large offshore natural gas fields in the Mediterranean that it hopes could help it to become an energy exporter.
Those development plans have stirred controversy with Lebanon, which argues the gas fields lie inside its territorial waters.
Israeli entity does not have officially demarcated maritime borders with Lebanon since IOF had been forcibly withdrawn from part of the Lebanese land, occupied since 1982.
A senior Zionist official told AFP that their regular cabinet meeting will be held on Sunday, where ministers would endorse a map of Israel’s maritime borders in the Mediterranean to be presented to the U.N.
The two biggest known offshore fields, Tamar and Leviathan, lie off Occupied Palestine’s northern city of Haifa.
Tamar is believed to hold at least 8.4 trillion cubic feet of gas (238 billion cubic meters), while Leviathan is believed to have reserves of 16 trillion cubic feet (450 billion cubic meters).
In recent weeks, a Zionist company has also announced the discovery of two new natural gas fields, Sarah and Mira, around 70 kilometers (45 miles) off the city of Hadera further south.