Friday, July 27, 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bummer..Now We Gotta Bomb Syria AND Iran!

Iran and Syrian Forge Military Alliance Against "Common Enemies"

by Alex Traiman
( Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar Assad held a joint press conference in Damascus Thursday confirming the formation of a new regional military alliance.
"The enemies of this region should drop their plans to strike the interests of this region, for these enemies will burn by the fire of the people," Ahmadinejad stated. "Both countries are united in a frontier facing common enemies to the region."
Ahmadinejad warned the unnamed enemies to abandon their “hostile plans,” stating "Syria and Iran are aspiring for this summer to be hot by virtue of the victories that will be attained by the peoples of the region... and the enemies of the peoples of the region are on their way to perdition and defeat."
As part of the new military alliance, Iran will fund over $1 billion in new defense equipment for Syria including: 400 Russian tanks, 8 Mikoyan helicopters, 8 Sukhoi fighter jets, 18 MiG-31s, Iranian armoured vehicles and tanks, and Chinese C-801/802 missiles.
Ahmadinejad reportedly also pledged to help Syria overthrow Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and to aid in the restoration of pro-Syrian influence within the Lebanese parliament. In addition, Iran will fund Syrian research towards the respective establishment and improvement of nuclear and biological weapons programs.
In return, Syria has reportedly pledged not to enter into any peace negotiations with Israel. Tehran will also be permitted to keep Iranian warplanes stationed in Syria.While in Damascus, the two heads of state also reportedly met with Hizbullah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.
History Repeats Itself
Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said the military alliance forged between Iran and Syria is “reminiscent of the pacts that were signed on the eve of the Six Day and Yom Kippur wars”.
“The Iranian decision will lead to the launching of an attack on Israel from Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Iran,” Eldad stated.
"For some reason, the government of Israel, chooses to ignore not only intelligence information, but even information that is published for all to see," he added.
Olmert Still Prepared to Negotiate
In an interview with Channel 10 Saturday night, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Kadima) said that Israel was still prepared to negotiate with Syria and abandon the Golan Heights. "I don't know what will be at the end of negotiations with Syria. Of course we will have to make concessions but can I make commitments even before the beginning of negotiations and promise that I will withdraw from the entire Golan Heights?"
Previously, Syria demanded that Israel commit to a complete withdrawal from the Golan Heights as a precondition to opening talks with Jerusalem.
In a separate interview Thursday, when asked how Nasrallah was able to sneak into a meeting between Ahmadinejad and Assad, Olmert responded, "No reply I could give would sound the way I'd want it to."
Strategic Alliance Minister: Form Unity Government
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Beiteinu) called for Olmert and Opposition Leader Benyamin Netanyahu (Likud) to form a unity government to deal with the growing Iranian-Syrian threat.
"The strengthening of the relationship between Assad and Ahmadinejad demands that Israel reorganize its political and military preparations," said Lieberman.
"The Iranian threat, said the minister, remains outside of politics, and therefore I call on the prime minister and the head of the opposition to reconsider forming a national emergency government.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Israel releases Palestinian prisoners, but doubts linger over peace

By Dan Murphy
Israel released just over 250 Palestinian prisoners on Friday, leading to scenes of jubilation on the West Bank and pledges of support to Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, the Associated Press reports.

The release was meant to bolster Abbas in his power struggle with the Islamic militant Hamas, which took control of Gaza by force last month.

Several thousand chanting, clapping Palestinians greeted the prisoners as their buses rolled into Abbas' headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah....

"This is the beginning," said Abbas. "Efforts must continue. Our work must continue until every prisoner returns to his home."


Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said the prisoner release is part of a package of goodwill gestures that is to give new momentum to stalled peace efforts.

But a number of reports express skepticism that the two key players in the conflict, as well as the United States, are ready or willing to push for the compromises that could bring peace a step closer. Agence France-Presse reports on an interview that Israel's Haaretz newspaper carried with James Wolfensohn, the former special envoy for the so-called Middle East Quartet of the EU, US, Russia and the World Bank, who said the US was a particular obstacle to his peace efforts.

"There was never a desire on the part of the Americans to give up control of the negotiations, and I would doubt that in the eyes of ... the State Department team, I was ever anything but a nuisance," Haaretz quoted him as saying.

Haaretz said Mr. Wolfensohn believed Israeli officials also regarded him as a nuisance, particularly after former prime minister Ariel Sharon disappeared from public life following a stroke in January 2006.

But he expressed hope that former British premier Tony Blair, his successor, would have a "greater mandate" than the one he enjoyed.

In another article in Haaretz, an unnamed senior military official is quoted as saying that Hamas's military strength is improving in its Gaza Strip stronghold, though the outlook for a major incursion into Gaza is limited because of a lack of Israeli public support for such a move now. The tone of the article is that even if Israel is less likely to face attacks from the West Bank, that conflict in Gaza is looming.

A senior military source offered reporters troubling details regarding Hamas' arming in the Gaza Strip. The [Philadelphia] Route, he said, is entirely out of control. The deterioration that began after Israel's disengagement from Gaza in 2005 has now become fully legitimized in the eyes of the Palestinians following Hamas' takeover a month ago. Smuggling, meanwhile, has transformed into an operation of importing arms and ammunition.

The senior military source said the improvement in Hamas' capabilities in the past two years was equivalent to a "generational leap," which in military jargon means a significant advance.

The army is certain that Israel and Hamas are on a collision course. They also say that the more time passes and Hamas grows in strength – including expertise acquired by its operatives in training camps in Iran – the more difficult it will be to deal with it.

The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel is ruling out the fast transfer of full security responsibility for West Bank cities to Mr. Abbas, something that close aides of the Palestinian President have said would be a significant gesture to bring peace closer.

Government sources said ... [the step] was premature. "They first have to have an effective security service in place," one official said.

The officials speculated that Palestinian leaks to the press about an imminent handover of the cities seemed designed to pressure Israel to do so.

While transferring security control of cities in the West Bank to the PA could ultimately take place, it is currently not even on the table, one official said.

The Washington Post reports that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair "made his debut as the new Middle East envoy," by calling Israeli-Arab peace efforts the most important peace and security issue in the world even as Iran pushed a dramatically different approach to the region than Israel, Fatah, and their Western allies.

The new U.S. plan centers around helping Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stabilize the West Bank and engage in revived peace talks, while isolating the Hamas Islamic movement currently in control of Gaza.

But in a reflection of the obstacles ahead, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad huddled with the leaders of Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas in Damascus yesterday to chart their own future course for the Middle East.

After bilateral talks, Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar Assad vowed to deepen their alliance and warned Western powers to stand back. "The enemies of the region should abandon plans to attack the interests of this region, or they will be burned by the wrath of the region's people," Mr. Ahmadinejad said at a joint news conference

The United States's top diplomat also said a Palestinian state cannot be achieved without Israel first ending its occupation of the West Bank. "We need from the Israelis a recognition of – and politics based on a recognition – that the future of Israel lies in places like the Negev and Galilee, not in the continued occupation of the West Bank," [Condoleezza] Rice said in an unusually blunt comment about the closest U.S. ally in the region.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that President Bush is planning to meet Jordan's King Abdullah in Washington next week to "reinvigorate Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking."

Palace officials said the surprise visit by the staunch U.S. ally to the White House on Tuesday would focus on efforts to broaden support for Bush's call on Monday for a Middle East peace conference later in the year, probably in the United States.

The king is spearheading an Arab campaign to get Israel to accept a plan offering a sweeping land-for-peace initiative and has long sought an international meeting that brings together Israel, moderate Palestinian leaders and their Arab neighbors.

Jordan, which hosts the largest number of Palestinians outside the West Bank and Gaza, fears time is running out because of rising Iranian influence and the spread of Islamic fundamentalism that has brought more regional instability.

Writing in the Daily Star, Lebanon's leading English-language newspaper, Yossi Alpher, once an adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and now codirector of, an online newsletter about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, argues that neither Arab states nor Israel are doing enough to back Abbas and create the preconditions for peace.

The neighbors must help Abbas reform the Palestine Liberation Organization, Israel's designated Palestinian negotiating partner. Lest we forget, the Arab League created the PLO. Now that Palestinian body is hopelessly corrupt, manipulated by "dinosaurs" appointed decades ago by Yasser Arafat and out of touch with the Palestinian masses. Abbas, who is basing his leadership strategy on the PLO now that the Palestinian Authority is virtually defunct, seems sadly incapable of changing very much on his own.

Abbas is a weak but well-intentioned leader for whom there is no obvious successor or replacement (although Israel could contribute here by releasing Marwan Barghouti). With the active backing and involvement of Israel's Arab neighbors and a forthcoming Israeli approach – we can't expect much from the United States during the next 18 months – his legacy could conceivably be the initiation of a modest conflict-management process that ushers in another attempt at peace negotiations.

Otherwise - if we leave matters to Abbas alone, if Israel doesn't resume rolling back the settlements and outposts or if the Arabs once again fail the Palestinian cause - he will almost certainly usher in even greater chaos and more Islamist rule.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Row in Israel Over Potter Sabbath Launch

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

JERUSALEM — The figure responsible for Israel's latest religious row is a bespectacled British teenager who is gifted with magical powers, world famous and entirely fictional.
The synchronized worldwide launch of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the seventh and last installment in the wildly popular series, falls at 2:01 a.m. local time this Saturday _ on the Jewish Sabbath, when Israeli law requires most businesses to close.
With Israelis already clamoring for "Deathly Hallows," many bookstores are planning to launch the book at the appointed hour. That has drawn fire from Orthodox Jewish lawmakers, including Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai, who threatened to fine any store that opens Saturday.
"Israeli law forbids businesses to force their employees to work on the Sabbath, and that applies in this case as well. The minister will fine and prosecute any businesses which violate the law," said Roei Lachmanovich, a spokesman for Yishai, of the ultra-0rthodox Jewish Shas party.
Avraham Ravitz of the United Torah Judaism Party slammed the Potter books for their "defective messages."
"We don't have to be dragged like monkeys after the world with this subculture, and certainly not while violating our holy Sabbath," Ravitz said in a statement.
Steimatzky, Israel's biggest bookstore chain, is holding a gala event in Tel Aviv beginning Friday night to launch the book, and the company has no plans to change the time, said spokeswoman Alona Zamir.
"We're required by our agreement with the book's publisher to launch the book at the same time as everywhere else in the world," Zamir said.
The chain has already received tens of thousands of advance orders for "Deathly Hallows" in English, with the book's Hebrew translation due out close to the end of 2007, she said.
Worldwide, the Potter books have sold more than 325 million copies, have been translated into at least 64 languages, and have been spun off into a hit movie series.
The book's author, J.K. Rowling, has indicated that two characters die in the new book, leading to speculation that one of them might be Harry himself.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Israel army holds Shalit suspect

Israel army holds Shalit suspect The Israeli military says it has arrested a Palestinian man over the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit one year ago near the Gaza Strip.
A military spokesman said Mohammed Salameh Abed Zufi was detained by Israeli troops during a raid on the Rafah refugee camp in Gaza on 9 June.
The army said it delayed announcing the man's arrest while it prepared charges.
Cpl Shalit was captured by militants last year in a raid across the Gaza border which killed two other soldiers.
The Israeli army said Mr Zufi was a member of Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees militant group.
Hamas' military wing has said it captured Cpl Shalit.
'Honourable deal'
An army spokesman said Mr Zufi had photographed the 25 June 2006 attack in which Cpl Shalit was seized.
The spokesman said Mr Zufi had taken part in other attacks, including firing rockets from Gaza into southern Israel.
A Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said last week that he would like to bring Cpl Shalit's captivity to an end.
Mr Haniya said he wanted the Israeli soldier freed in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in an "honourable deal".
About 10,000 Palestinian prisoners are being held in Israeli jails, some without charge.
On the first anniversary of Cpl Shalit's capture, militants linked to Hamas released an audio message from him.
He said his health was deteriorating after a year in captivity.
His capture triggered a large-scale Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip.

Story from BBC NEWS: 2007/07/13 18:36:52 GMT© BBC MMVII

Monday, July 2, 2007

Terrorists, Morons or Just Idiots?

Patterns emerge from London and Glasgow

9/11 gave a false impression: not all Islamist terrorists are masterminds, says crispin black
Security authorities believe the men who rammed their jeep into Glasgow airport's departure area on Saturday were acting in concert with the London West End car bombers the day before. The men were part of the same group or network, even if only loosely connected.
Some of the individuals involved are clearly known to authorities. That the police have not released a 'crystal clear' CCTV image of the man who parked his bomb outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub suggests they know who he is and are confident of tracking him down without having to appeal to the public for help.
The attacks appear to have other things in common. They were all bungled. It is no comfort that the three bombs were simply constructed, even rudimentary - so is the Kalashnikov rifle responsible for more misery and death than any other fire arm. But it is a
It is unlikely that this group could plan and execute a so-called ‘catastrophic attack’
comfort that all three Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) failed to detonate properly, suggesting that the bomb makers have yet to master some of the fundamentals of their grisly trade.
This is important. We cannot be sure that the series of attacks is over yet. But we have got a good idea of the level of professionalism of the terrorists trying to carry them out. It is unlikely that this group could plan and execute a so-called 'catastrophic attack'. They have struggled so far to deliver bog-standard car bombs effectively.
It is also important in readjusting the public's perception of terrorism. The 9/11 attacks gave Islamist terrorists a cachet which perhaps most of them do not deserve. They are not all masterminds.
In their murderous and conceited fantasies, British jihadists no doubt see themselves as outwitting MI5, the SAS and Special Branch - but not London's ever-energetic traffic wardens, who unceremoniously towed away a primed and ready-to-go car bomb in the early hours of Friday morning.

The Chomsky Hoax

The Chomsky Hoax
Exposing the Dishonesty of Noam Chomsky