Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported, on Sunday at dawn, that a father, mother and their two children, were wounded when the Israeli army bombarded their home in Gaza City. Two Palestinians were wounded in an earlier strike on Gaza.
The sources stated that the Israeli Air Force fired at least one missile at the house of Ahmad Az-Zaharna, in Gaza’s At-Tuffah neighborhood, wounding the father, Ahmad, in addition to his wife and their two children. They were all moved to the Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza city.
Furthermore, the army bombarded an area east of Gaza city leading to excessive damage but no injuries.
The area is claimed to be a training center for the Al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement.
On Saturday at night, Israeli war-jets fired a number of missiles at a blacksmith workshop in Gaza leading to two injuries among the civilian population.
Eyewitnesses said that the Air Force fired two missiles into the workshop that belong to Ashour family; the workshop is part of the home of the family an issue that led to the injury of two family members, their injuries were described as mild-to-moderate.
- Medics: Two wounded in Israeli helicopter strikes in Gaza (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Israeli forces killed 19 Palestinian children in Gaza in 2011 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Iran’s Oil Ministry announced it has cut oil exports to British and French firms in line with the decision to end crude exports to six European states.
The move comes as Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi had earlier hinted at the possibility of Iran’s halting oil exports to certain European countries.
Iranian Oil Ministry Spokesman Alireza Nikzad-Rahbar said Sunday that Iran has no problem in exporting and selling crude oil to its customers.
“We have our own oil customers and replacements for these [British and French] companies have already been chosen and we will sell the crude oil to new customers instead of the British and French companies,” Nikzad-Rahbar pointed out.
European Union foreign ministers agreed to ban oil imports from Iran on January 23 and to freeze the assets of the Iranian Central Bank across the EU in a bid to pressure Iran over its nuclear program.
The sanctions will become fully effective on July 1, 2012, to give EU member states enough time to adjust to the new conditions and find alternative crude oil supplies.
Despite the widely publicized claims by the US, Israel and some of their European allies that Iran’s nuclear program may include a military aspect, Tehran insists its nuclear work is civilian in nature.
Iran argues that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
The IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence indicating that Tehran’s civilian nuclear program has been diverted towards nuclear weapons production.
- Britain spreads nuclear lies about Iran (alethonews.wordpress.com)
On February 17, subscribers to the mailing list of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) received a message entitled “Want to Know What’s Going On in Syria?” inviting them to a special conference call briefing from Farid Ghadry, co-founder of The Reform Party of Syria. The invitation from the hawkish Israel lobby think tank — whose half-accurate motto is “Securing America, Strengthening Israel” — to the February 22 briefing reads:
In October of 2001, Mr. Ghadry, along with several Syrian-Americans, formed the Reform Party of Syria. A constitution was written and a constructive and comprehensive program has been put in place to bring regime change to Syria. Today, the party is enjoying the tacit support from many organizations and people in the U.S. administration and think tanks in Washington.
Mr. Ghadry and the other co-founders of RPS are hoping to return to Syria one day to rebuild the country on the basis of principles of real economic and political reforms that will usher democracy, prosperity, freedom of expression, and human rights in addition to lasting peace with open borders with all of Syria’s neighboring countries.
Not mentioned but well-understood by the men from JINSA is that the well-connected Syrian “reformer” has been groomed to facilitate that unlikely democratic utopia by leading Iraq war architect Richard Perle, a prominent member of JINSA’s advisory board until a few weeks ago. But as the Prince of Darkness’s biographer wrote in a 2007 Los Angeles Times article:
Unfortunately for Perle, Ghadry is seen in many quarters as a front man for Israel. Not only is he a dues-paying member of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful Israeli lobby in Washington, but a recent column on his Web site, titled “Why I Admire Israel,” seems to play right into the hands of those who believe the Bush administration’s obsession with regime change in the Middle East is really all about protecting Israel. Did Perle, the savviest of Washington power players, believe that Ghadry’s tub-thumping for Tel Aviv would make him more popular in Syria?
“No,” Perle replied. “I don’t. But he’s his own man. I don’t always understand what he’s doing and why he’s doing it.”
So, in his quest for idealistic dissidents to do in the Middle East what the Walesas and Havels achieved in Eastern Europe, Perle and his acolytes have tapped the discredited Ahmad Chalabi for Iraq, the suspect Amir Abbas Fakhravar for Iran and the allegiance-challenged Fahrid Ghadry for Syria. They’re just not making heroes like they used to.
Perhaps Farid Ghadry’s pro-Israel image problem is why there appears to be no mention of his conference call briefing on the JINSA website. There is, however, one rather revealing reference to Perle’s Syrian Chalabi. In its Events & Programs section, under “New York Cabinet Meetings 2009, 2010 & 2011,” there is the following brief entry:
“The Role of Syria in the Middle East: Friend of Iran, Host to Hamas, and Patron of Hizbullah” – Farid Ghadry, President, Reform Party of Syria
To put all this into the broader context of the supposedly Israel-threatening “Arab Spring” — which the LA Times reference to Perle’s “quest for idealistic dissidents to do in the Middle East what the Walesas and Havels achieved in Eastern Europe” seems to prefigure — a seminal event, which I have previously written about, was held almost five years ago that brought together Israel partisans concerned with “rolling back Syria” among other regional rivals and their native collaborators:
Under the direction of Natan Sharansky, the former Israeli minister who resigned his cabinet seat in 2005 in protest over Ariel Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan, the [Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies] held a “Democracy and Security” conference in Prague in 2007. It brought together Israeli officials; their American neoconservative sympathizers with their favourite Middle Eastern dissidents in tow — most notably, Richard Perle’s Israel-admiring Syrian protégé Farid Ghadry; and the newly-installed Eastern European democrats swept to power in the wake of a wave of neocon-backed “color revolutions,” the latter group presumably serving to inspire the Arab and Iranian participants to emulate them.
So, if you want to know what’s going on in JINSA’s road to regime change in Damascus, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-667-3900, Ext. 224.
- The ‘Humanitarian’ Road to Damascus (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel Lobby Pushes for US Action Against the Syrian Government (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Larry Greenfield tapped to lead JINSA (jta.org)
- Sanctioning Syria (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- JINSA Proposes Iraq War on 9/13/2001 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Khader Adnan’s Hunger Strike
A month ago only those who had met him knew Khader Adnan. Now all of Palestine and people across the world know his name and his cause.
Before December 17, when Khader was arrested for the eighth time from his home in Jenin, he was one of thousands of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories who had entered and re-entered administrative detention.
Administrative detention allows Israel to hold Palestinian prisoners without charging them, and potentially indefinitely. There is no specification as to why each person is held and the length of the detention has no legal limits.
In its very essence administrative detention is dehumanizing; its effects are to homogenize the Palestinian population and strip each man, woman and family that encounters it of his or her singularity and personal identity. Each person who enters administrative detention is the same as the one who came before, and the one who will follow. This endless cycle of incarceration paints all those who pass through it with the same brush, rendering the Palestinian population indistinct.
“The essence of totalitarian government and perhaps the nature of every bureaucracy, is to make functionaries and mere cogs in the administrative machinery out of men, and thus to dehumanize them.”
Hannah Arendt wrote these words after observing the trial of Nazi leader, Adolf Eichmann, in Jerusalem. What is perhaps so remarkable about this sentence is the ambiguity of whom she is speaking. Arendt’s words note that both the oppressors and the oppressed become agents of, or cogs in, a regime of totalitarianism. In this understanding, there is no room in a system of oppression for individuals.
But Khader’s unbearably long hunger strike has stopped this process, clearing the fog of bureaucracy that turns humans beings into mechanisms allowing them to disappear into the monochromatic fabric of administrated tyranny.
He told his lawyers, “I am a man who defends his freedom. If I die it will be my fate.”
Khader is a graduate student of Economics, a father of two girls, a husband to Randa, who is pregnant with their third child, and a member of Islamic Jihad. He is a political activist and a baker at a pita shop, Qabatiya, near his home in Jenin.
We cannot know the internal process by which Khader came to his decision to engage in a hunger strike that may end his life. He began the strike as soon as he was detained, so it seems certain that he was neither surprised that he was detained yet again, nor unprepared for a different and meaningful response.
In a letter he wrote from an Israeli hospital on day fifty-six of his strike, Khader stated, “The Israeli occupation has gone to extremes against our people, especially prisoners. I have been humiliated, beaten, and harassed by interrogators for no reason, and thus I swore to God I would fight the policy of administrative detention to which I and hundreds of my fellow prisoners fell prey.”
But we do know that when Khader entered administrative detention on 17 December, he made the decision to interrupt the routine of administrative detention, a system whose banality defines its power.
His reaction, to go on hunger strike, marked a radical departure from obediently waiting out his sentence, as the steady stream of Palestinian detainees had done before him. After Khader refused his meal, Israeli soldiers proceeded to beat him, rip hair from his beard, smear dirt from a soldier’s shoe onto his face, force him into painful stress positions and verbally degrade female members of his family.
Even as Khader nears the end of his sixty-second day, the weakened man remains shackled to his hospital bed by both his feet and one hand—in a strange and symbolic recognition of how threatening and powerful this act truly is.
The might of Khader’s humanity and his valiance in the face of cruelty will not be met with a just response. There is no just response a master can give to a slave—for justice would see the end of the master/slave relationship. And while Khader’s strike will not and cannot lead to the end of Israeli tyranny over Palestinians, it is certainly a profound denial of its power to erase the humanity of Palestinians.
Khader has shown the face of a Palestinian. He has etched his name onto the hearts and thoughts of all who became aware of his plight, and in his quiet, agonizing determination he shows the world the man who Israel murdered with its savage weapon of “administrative detention.” That is a profound feat and for it, we owe Khader Adnan our deepest gratitude.
Charlotte Silver is a journalist based in Ramallah, West Bank and currently the editor of The Palestine Monitor.
- Raymond McCartney, former Irish hunger striker in message of support to Khader Adnan (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Washing your hands of Khader Adnan: Ali Abunimah’s response to weasel words of EU’s Catherine Ashton (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Al Jazeera English Doesn’t Care About Khader Adnan (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death | Khader Adnan (riseresistandrevolt.wordpress.com)
- Former Irish hunger striker’s message for Khader Adnan, a Palestinian prisoner 55 days on hunger strike (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- B’Tselem reports sharp increase in the numbers of Palestinians being held in administrative detention (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Footage from protest at Ofer prison for Khader Adnan (angrywhitekid.blogs.com)
The press wires are reporting on intensified fighting in Mali between the nation’s military and ethnic Tuareg rebels of the Azawad National Liberation Movement in the north of the nation.
As the only news agencies with global sweep and the funds and infrastructure to maintain bureaus and correspondents throughout the world are those based in leading member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, BBC News and Deutsche Presse-Agentur – the coverage of ongoing developments in Mali, like those in most every other country, reflects a Western bias and a Western agenda.
Typical headlines on the topic, then, include the following:
“Arms and men out of Libya fortify Mali rebellion” Reuters
President: Tuareg fighters from Libya stoke violence in Mali” CNN
“Colonel Gaddafi armed Tuaregs pound Mali” The Scotsman
“France denounces killings in Mali rebel offensive” Agence France-Presse
“Mali, France Condemn Alleged Tuareg Rebel Atrocities” Voice of America
To reach Mali from Libya is at least a 500-mile journey through Algeria and/or Niger. As the rebels of course don’t have an air force, don’t have military transport aircraft, the above headlines and the propaganda they synopsize imply that Tuareg fighters marched the entire distance from Libya to their homeland in convoys containing heavy weapons through at least one other nation without being detected or deterred by local authorities. And that, moreover, to launch an offensive three months following the murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after his convoy was struck by French bombs and a U.S. Hellfire missile last October. But the implication that Algeria and Niger, especially the first, are complicit in the transit of Tuareg fighters and arms from Libya to Mali is ominous in terms of expanding Western accusations – and actions – in the region.
Armed rebellions are handled differently in Western-dominated world news reporting depending on how the rebels and the governments they oppose are viewed by leading NATO members.
In recent years the latter have provided military and logistical support to armed rebel formations – in most instances engaged in cross-border attacks and with separatist and irredentist agendas – in Kosovo, Macedonia, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Libya and now Syria, and on the intelligence and “diplomatic” fronts in Russia, China, Pakistan, Sudan, Iran, Indonesia, Congo, Myanmar, Laos and Bolivia.
However, major NATO powers have adopted the opposite tack when it comes to Turkey, Morocco (with its 37-year occupation of the Western Sahara), Colombia, the Philippines, the Central African Republic, Chad and other nations that are their military clients or territory controlled by them, where the U.S. and its Western allies supply weapons, advisers, special forces and so-called peacekeeping forces.
The drumbeat of alarmist news concerning Mali is a signal that the West intends to open another military front on the African continent following last year’s seven-month air, naval and special operations campaign against Libya and ongoing operations in Somalia and Central Africa with the recent deployment of American special forces to Uganda, Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan. In Ivory Coast, Mali’s neighbor to the south, last February the French military with compliant United Nations troops – “peacekeepers” – fired rockets into the presidential residence and forcibly abducted standing president Laurent Gbagbo.
U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) first became operational as the war fighting force it was intended to be from the beginning in running the first two weeks of the war against Libya last March with Operation Odyssey Dawn before turning the campaign over to NATO for seven more months of relentless bombing and missile strikes.
Mali may be the second military operation conducted by AFRICOM.
The landlocked country is the hub of the wheel of former French West Africa, bordered by every other member except Benin: Burkina Faso, Guinea (Conakry), Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. It also shares a border with Algeria, another former French possession, to its north.
Mali is Africa’s third largest producer of gold after South Africa and Ghana. It possesses sizable uranium deposits run by French concessions in the north of the country, the scene of the current fighting. Tuareg demands include granting some control over the uranium mines and the revenue they generate. Major explorations for oil and natural gas, also in the north, have been conducted in recent years as well.
The nation is also a key pivot for the U.S.’s Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership established in 2005 (initially as the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative), which grew out of the Pan Sahel Initiative of 2003-2004.
In May of 2005 U.S. Special Operations Command Europe inaugurated the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative by dispatching 1,000 special forces troops to Northwest Africa for Operation Flintlock to train the armed forces of Mali, Algeria, Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Tunisia, the seven original African members of the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative, which in its current format also includes Burkina Faso, Morocco and Nigeria. Libya will soon be brought into that format as it will the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue military partnership.
The American special forces led the first of what have now become annual Operation Flintlock counterinsurgency exercises with the above nations of the Sahel and Magreb. The following year NATO conducted the large-scale Steadfast Jaguar war games in the West African island nation of Cape Verde to launch the NATO Response Force, after which the African Standby Force has been modeled.
Flintlock 07 and 08 were held in Mali. Flintlock 10 was held in several African nations, including Mali.
On February 7 of this year the U.S. and Mali began the Atlas Accord 12 joint air delivery exercise in the African nation, but Flintlock 12, scheduled for later in the month, was postponed because of the fighting in the north. Sixteen nations were to have participated, including several of the U.S.’s major NATO allies.
Last year’s Flintlock included military units from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal.
When AFRICOM became an independent Unified Combatant Command on October 1, 2008, the first new overseas U.S. regional military command established in the post-Cold War era, AFRICOM and Special Operations Command Africa’s Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara took control of the Flintlock exercises from U.S. European Command and U.S. Special Operations Command Europe.
In 2010 AFRICOM announced that Special Operations Command Africa “will gain control over Joint Special Operations Task Force-Trans Sahara (JSOTF-TS) and Special Operations Command and Control Element–Horn of Africa (SOCCE-HOA).”
Last year the AFRICOM website wrote:
“Conducted by Special Operations Command Africa, Flintlock is a joint multinational exercise to improve information sharing at the operational and tactical levels across the Saharan region while fostering increased collaboration and coordination. It’s focused on military interoperability and capacity-building for U.S., North American and European Partner Nations, and select units in Northern and Western Africa.”
Although the stated purposed of the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership and its Flintlock multinational exercises is to train the military forces of nations in the Sahel and Magreb to combat Islamist extremist groups in the region, in fact the U.S. and its allies waged war against the government of Libya last year in support of similar elements, and the practical application of Pentagon military training and deployment in Northwest Africa has been to fight Tuareg militias rather than outfits like al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb or Nigeria’s Boko Haram.
The U.S. and its NATO allies have also conducted and supported other military exercises in the area for similar purposes. In 2008 the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the regional economic group from which the U.S.- and NATO-backed West African Standby Force was formed, held a military exercise named Jigui 2008 in Mali, which was “supported by the host governments as well as France, Denmark, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the European Union,” as the Ghana News Agency reported at the time.
AFRICOM also runs annual Africa Endeavor multinational communications interoperability exercises primarily in West Africa. Last year’s planning conference was held in the Malian capital of Bamako and, according to U.S. Army Africa, “brought together more than 180 participants from 41 African, European and North American nations, as well as observers from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Eastern African Standby Force and NATO to plan interoperability testing of communications and information systems of participating nations.” The main exercise was also held in Mali.
The U.S. military has been ensconced in the nation since at least 2005 and Voice of America revealed in that year that the Pentagon had “established a temporary operations center on a Malian air force base near Bamako. The facility is to provide logistical support and emergency services for U.S. troops training with local forces in five countries in the region.”
The following year U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Command Europe chief Marine General James Jones, subsequently the Obama administration’s first national security advisor, “made the disclosure [that] the Pentagon was seeking to acquire access to… bases in Senegal, Ghana, Mali and Kenya and other African countries,” according to a story published on Ghana Web.
In 2007 a soldier with the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group based in Stuttgart, Germany, where AFRICOM headquarters are based, died in Kidal, Mali, where fighting is currently occurring. His death was attributed to a “non-combat related incident.” The next year a soldier with the Canadian Forces Military Training Assistance Programme also lost his life in Mali.
Last year the Canadian Special Operations Regiment deployed troops to the northern Mali conflict zone for what was described “an ongoing mission.” Canadian Special Operations Regiment forces also participated in the Flintlock 11 exercise in Senegal.
In September of 2007 an American C-130 Hercules military transport plane was hit by rifle fire while dropping supplies to Malian troops under siege by Tuareg forces.
According to Stars and Stripes:
“The plane and its crew, which belong to the 67th Special Operations Squadron, were in Mali as part of a previously scheduled exercise called Flintlock 2007…Malian troops had become surrounded at their base in the Tin-Zaouatene region near the Algerian border by armed fighters and couldn’t get supplies…[T]he Mali government asked the U.S. forces to perform the airdrops…”
In 2009 the U.S. announced it was providing the government of Mali with over $5 million in new vehicles and other equipment.
Later in the year the website of U.S. Air Forces in Europe reported:
“The first C-130J Super Hercules mission in support of U.S. Air Forces Africa, or 17th Air Force, opened up doors to a future partnership of support between the 86th Airlift Wing and upcoming missions into Africa.
“The mission’s aircraft commander, Maj. Robert May of the 37th Airlift Squadron, and his crew were tasked to fly into Mali Dec. 19 to bring home 17 troops who were assisting with training Malian forces.”
The U.S. has been involved in the war in Mali for almost twelve years. Recent atrocity stories in the Western press will fuel demands for a “Responsibility to Protect” intervention after the fashion of those in Ivory Coast and Libya a year ago and will provide the pretext for American and NATO military involvement in the country.
AFRICOM may be planning its next war.
- Washington is Conquering Africa using France, Human Rights, Terrorism, and the National Endowment for Democracy (libyaagainstsuperpowermedia.com)
Each time a new measure that the city of Chicago is preparing for the coming NATO and G8 summits is unveiled, the tension in the city ratchets up a notch. The latest news comes in the form of reports that Chicago has purchased face shields, and may be considering the implementation of airborne surveillance technology.
As part of the expanded powers given to Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the May summits, the city has authority to accept contracts for goods or services without approval of the City Council or the expected competitive bidding process. The face shields and aerial surveillance technology are the first use of this allowance.
Chicago police officers, and any law enforcement the city chooses to deputize under the measures put in place for NATO/G8, will be equipped with 3,000 new face shields that “will fit easily over gas masks,” according to The Chicago Sun-Times.
The nearly $200,000 contract with Super Seer, a Colorado-based company, was made as an “emergency purchase for the G8 summit,” according to Super Seer President Steve Smith.
The airborne units will transmit to four strategically located ground-based receiver sites providing city-wide coverage and the ability to simultaneously receive real-time images from two aircraft for viewing at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) operations center. An additional three receive systems will be installed in the city’s mobile command vehicles to facilitate field operations.
These measures will be in addition to “snipers that will stand guard from above,” reported ABC. Overarching security jurisdiction for the summits, which have been designated a national security event, has already been handed over to the Secret Service.