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URUK Net 27 February, 2009

Last updated: Sunday, March 1, 2009 10:34

Obama Sells Continuation of Iraq War as the New Pullout Plan
Gates Suggests Keeping Troops in Even Past 2011 SOFA Deadline
Jason Ditz
Then-President George W. Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq, and then proceeded to keep the war going for the remaining five and a half years of his presidency. In a speech today at Camp Lajeune, North Carolina took a page out of his predecessor’s book when he declared that “by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end,” even as his administration prepares to keep the combat going until at least the end of 2011. His administration has been touting a military surge in Afghanistan which would bring the overall American force to roughly 50,000 troops. That is taking a war to the next level. Bringing the level of troops in Iraq to roughly the same level, somehow, is being sold to the public as the end of that war. Will anyone buy it?…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52222

U.S. Government: Refreshing our memories and remembering their lies
Arturo Rosales, Axis of Logic
… Somehow, people want to believe that the lies of the Bush era have ended with the advent of Barack Obama. This time around, Obama’s Democrat Administration promises: * to close Guatanamo, only to send these prisoners of war to other prisons and torture camps abroad; * to withdraw US troops from Iraq, only to send them to Afghanistan and Pakistan; * to “save or create 3.5 million jobs” in the next 2 years” – pretty safe promise. How does one measure success. What does it mean to “save a job”?; According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, nonfarm payroll employment lost 598,000 jobs in January, 2009 alone. In the same month, the unemployment rate rose from 7.2 to 7.6 percent. Payroll employment has declined by 3.6 million in 2008. About one-half of this decline occurred in the last quarter of 2008). In January, 2009 job losses were large and widespread across nearly all major industry sectors…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52220

Settlement expansion plans
B’Tselem
Following the Oslo agreement, Israel made a commitment to the United States that it would not build new settlements or expand existing ones, except to meet “natural growth.” This narrow allowance, never defined, was utilized by Israel to greatly expand settlements and build new settlements, such as Modi’in Ilit… Despite its commitment to freeze building in settlements, protocols of the Supreme Planning Committee, in the Civil Administration, reveal plans for substantial expansion of settlements. The relevant protocols, of the Supreme Planning Committee’s Environment Subcommittee, were made in 2007 and 2008 and dealt with the treatment of sewage of settlements. B’Tselem received these protocols under the Freedom of Information Act. The plans uncovered also relate to anticipated expansion of settlements lying east of the route of the Separation Barrier, which some, most Israeli politicians present as Israel’s future border…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52225

In Gaza, Rice Is Aid, Pasta Not
Mel Frykberg
Red-faced and unusually tongue-tied Israeli officials were forced to try and explain to U.S. Senator John Kerry during his visit to Israel last week why truckloads of pasta waiting to enter the besieged Gaza strip were not considered humanitarian aid while rice was. Kerry, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, visited the coastal territory on a fact-finding mission. The purpose of the visit was to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground and the level of destruction wrought by Israel’s three-week military assault on Gaza, codenamed Operation Cast Lead. During his visit to Gaza it came to the senator’s attention that Israel had prevented a number of trucks loaded with pasta from entering the territory…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52224

Drawdown Plan May Leave Combat Brigades in Iraq
Analysis by Gareth Porter*
President Barack Obama has given military commanders a free hand to determine the size and composition of a residual force in Iraq up to 50,000 troops, apparently including the option of leaving one or more combat brigades or bringing them from the United States, after the August 2010 deadline for the ostensible withdrawal of all combat brigades now in Iraq. Although the ostensible purpose of the combat brigades remaining in Iraq would be to protect other U.S. troops in the country, they would also provide the kind of combat capability that U.S. commanders have wanted to maintain to deal with a broad range of contingencies…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52221

What About Bagram?
William Fisher
While human rights and legal advocacy groups applauded President Barack Obama’s decision to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay within a year, many immediately raised another thorny question: “What about Bagram?” The answer came as a shock. In a brief filing in federal court last week, lawyers from Obama’s Department of Justice said they would adopt the same position taken by the George W. Bush administration – that detainees held at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan have no right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts. The U.S. government is holding more than 600 prisoners at Bagram. Some claim they are victims of “extraordinary rendition” by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), while many more say they have been tortured and abused at the facility just outside Kabul…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52219

Afghan FM urges US-Iran ties
Press TV, Iran
The Afghan Foreign Minister urges the US administration to restore relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran as an “important regional player.” Afghan Foreign Minister, Rangeen Dadfar Spanta, said Friday, “I hope that with the new administration here in Washington come some changes in the bilateral relations between Tehran and Washington.” His remarks follow a three-day meeting of the foreign ministers of Pakistan and the US… Earlier, Washington’s former special envoy to Afghanistan, James Dobbin, also acknowledged Tehran’s major contributions to Washington’s war against the Taliban in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on US soil…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52218

Afghanistan – Another Forgotten People.
Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues
…For God’s sake what is left of Afghanistan for another surge? The place is in total ruins. Just go and look at some of the pictures, there is nothing left there…there is nothing left there to surge for. What is this barbarity ? My mind can no longer comprehend this barbarity of the “civilized world.” This has gone beyond politics. And where is it heading ? And the silence — the abominable silence regarding the crimes committed daily in Afghanistan is unbearable, truly unbearable… And let us assume for argument’s sake — that even if the population there were getting fed up with the Taliban’s rule, the way NATO and American troops are conducting themselves, makes people long back for the previous reign… As I said the Afghans are no sheep, and they are a very proud people. And I really can’t see how America or any of its allies will win this one. I mean, how many more Baghrams prisons and how much more torture can anyone inflict?How much more devastation and killing can anyone commit ? From the memories I have kept, I can already tell you, it will not make a difference to the Afghan people. They have this warrior streak/quality to them… You have not succeeded in breaking their spirit until this very day and you will not succeed in the future either. The Afghans are unbreakable when it comes to their dignity and honor. Do remember that — on your 100th surge…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52208

Video: Gaza’s Children “will be terrorists in about 20 years anyway.”
I Saw It In Palestine
The video documents Israeli army harassment of local Palestinians as well as the soldiers’ dismaying attitude toward the widespread killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. A soldier says, in full view of the camera, that the children killed in Gaza “will be terrorists in about 20 years anyway.”…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52216

Return to Gaza
Amira Hass
…The immediate consequence of the separation policy was to disconnect Gaza from the West Bank (and Palestinian East Jerusalem), from its population, its education centres and health services, from jobs in Israel and from family members and friends. No wonder Israel now defines Gazans who live in the West Bank as ‘illegal sojourners’ unless they have an Israeli permit to be there. The tight siege imposed in Gaza over the last two years has merely exacerbated the situation. The separation policy of the 1990s (along with the rapid expansion of Jewish colonies in the West Bank) was designed to destroy the foundation of a future Palestinian state…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52214

Jaffa: from eminence to ethnic cleansing
Sami Abu Shehadeh & Fadi Shbaytah, The Electronic Intifada
Jaffa was the largest city in historic Palestine during the years of the British mandate, with a population of more than 80,000 Palestinians in addition to the 40,000 persons living in the towns and villages in its immediate vicinity. In the period between the UN Partition resolution (UNGA 181) of 29 November 1947, and the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel, Zionist military forces displaced 95 percent of Jaffa’s indigenous Arab Palestinian population. Jaffa’s refugees accounted for 15 percent of Palestinian refugees in that fateful year, and today they are dispersed across the globe, still banned from returning by the state responsible for their displacement. Jaffa was the epicenter of the Palestinian economy before the 1948 Nakba. Beginning in the early 19th century, the people of Jaffa had cultivated citrus groves, particularly oranges, on their land…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52199

the third hit her in the kneecap
Eva Bartlett | In Gaza
…The al Najar’s home is one of 14 destroyed in the war on Gaza in their area of the small village alone. In the greater Khoza’a area, 163 houses were destroyed by invading Israeli forces during war on Gaza. Another 1,500 m agricultural land was destroyed, razed and torn up by Israeli tanks and bulldozers, bombed and burned by shelling from Israeli F-16s and tanks. For Amal al Najar the house was a long-time investment and sudden loss. “It took 8 years to build our house. We lived only 9 months in it before they destroyed it.” We are aware of the Israeli soldiers’ daily shooting on Palestinians in the fields of the “buffer zone” but the residents of the Khoza’a region enlighten us to the tactics of shooting at children. “Everyday they shoot when the children are going to or coming from school. Everyday children are crawling on the ground because Israeli soldiers are shooting at them.” The “Khoza’a Martyr’s school” – named after the number of martyred from the Khoza’a region in the past 5 years: 113, not including the 25 further killed in Israel’s war on Gaza -was built some years ago to serve the students who until then had had to walk or travel 8 km to the nearest school…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52213

US decides to refrain from participating in the 2nd Durban conference on racism
Saed Bannoura – IMEMC
Following the lead of Israel, the United States officially decided not to participate in the Second Durban Conference which is a follow-up to “the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discriminations, Xenophobia and related intolerance” which was held in 2001. Canada will also be boycotting the summit. Israel and the United States participated in the first conference but had to cut it short and walk out after claiming that it turned out to be dominated by the Middle East issue, and slavery. Several countries slammed Israel during the conference over its illegal activities and assaults against the Palestinian people…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52212

Protests over Afghan ‘mosque raid’
AlJazeera.net
Hundreds of protesters have clashed with police in southern Afghanistan amid claims international forces opened fire inside a mosque and copies of the Quran were ripped up. Rocks were thrown at police and at least three demonstrators were wounded by gunfire after about 500 people demonstrated in Ghazni on Friday, said Mohammad Zaman, the province’s police chief. The protest came a day after Polish troops were accused of shooting their weapons inside the mosque in Dhi Khodaidad village and beating local residents…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52211

Mosul Police Attack US Soldiers, Killing One
Interpreter Also Killed, Three Others Wounded
Jason Ditz
The details of a 2 PM incident at a police station in the Iraqi city of Mosul remained elusive for several hours, with quotes from media outlets putting the number of soldiers killed at four (citing an unnamed official from the Iraqi Interior Ministry), while the US military initially claimed to have no information beyond the death of an Iraqi interpreter. The reports finally seem to have stabilized, however: two policemen at the station opened fire on US troops and their interpreter, killing the interpreter and wounding four US soldiers, one of whom later died of his wounds…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52110

The Silence of the Liberals As Obama launches “war on terrorism” II
JUSTIN RAIMONDO
…Has anyone noticed Obama’s vaunted 16-month withdrawal-from-Iraq plan has already stretched into 19 months – and the “residual force” he kept talking about during the campaign, as if it were a mere afterthought, turns out to be 50,000 strong? Originally, none of those “residuals” were supposed to be combat troops – yet now we are told “some would still be serving in combat as they conducted counterterrorism missions.” You have to go all the way to the very end of this New York Times report before you discover that, according to Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell, “A limited number of those that remain will conduct combat operations against terrorists, assisting Iraqi security forces.” In short: we aren’t leaving… What kind of a “withdrawal” is this? It is one so burdened with contingencies, conditional footnotes, and amendatory clauses, that it falls beneath its own weight and collapses into a fair approximation of the status quo. Antiwar voters who cast their ballots for Obama have succeeded in rolling the stone all the way up a rather steep hill, only to see it fall down the other side – and we are right back where we started. The next hill is called Afghanistan, and beyond that is yet another: Pakistan…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52226

Eviction in Haifa
Maisa Abu Ghazaleh
A large police unit forcibly evicted the Abu Shimla family from Haifa this week, a city with a large Palestinian population within the boundaries of the Israeli state. The three-story home was the scene of a physical assault on both the residents and the property alike. Windows were smashed and contents confiscated. MP in the Islamist movement on the United Arab List, Ghanayim, paid a solidarity visit to the family on Thursday knowing they were under threat. Residents of the house included 10 children…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52207

Palestinian factions in Cairo agree to new PA unity government
Palestinian Information Center
Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, among other Palestinian factions meeting in Cairo have agreed Thursday to form an interim national unity government that would manage the Palestinian affairs till next PA election is held. Senior Hamas official and deputy-head of the Movement’s political bureau Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, who heads Hamas’s delegation to the inter-Palestinian dialogue in Cairo, confirmed in press conference that five preparatory committees that the factions approved would suggest and specify members of that interim government. He also disclosed that a “new and special” agreement on Rafah crossing point will be prepared, hailing the Egyptian efforts in reaching that agreement…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52205

Palestinian Kum Ba Yah
KABOBfest
The Palestinian leadership has finally came to its senses somewhat. In the Cairo Summit, Fatah and Hamas (as well as other factions) agreed to form a unity government and bury the hatchets of the past three years. They expressed gratitude to Egypt for taking on such a monumental step and serving delicious foul mdemmas, which created the right mood for quick deal-making. The agreement calls for a new national unity government to be formed by the end of March this year. However, the most important piece of the agreement is the formation of five new committees that will oversee certain aspects of governance…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52217

US says enemy fire caused deadly air collision in Iraq
AFP
The US military said on Friday that four soldiers killed last month when two helicopters crashed in northern Iraq had been the target of enemy fire. An investigation “determined that the two OH-58 helicopters involved in the January 25 incident in Kirkuk province were engaged and struck by hostile fire,” army spokesman for north Iraq Lieutenant Colonel David Doherty told AFP. “While executing evasive manoeuvres in response to the hostile fire, the two OH-58s collided, resulting in the catastrophic loss of both aircraft and crews,” he said, without elaborating on what had been fired at them…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52215

Obama Seeks $205 Billion for Wars
Gates Touts “Strong Commitment to Our Security”
Jason Ditz
In his first budget proposal, President Barack Obama has requested over $205 billion in war funding through the end of fiscal 2010. The funding would be in addition to the $533.7 billion he is asking for the Pentagon’s regular budget next year. Defense Secretary Robert Gates cheered the movie as a “strong commitment to our security” at a time when the economy is floundering. The move is a break from the Bush Administration’s tactic of funding the war through “emergency” requests. President Obama says putting the war funding “on the books” is important to ensuring officials are honest about the amount of money being spent on the nation’s assorted wars…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52204

FLASHBACK: Lieberman calls for execution of Arab lawmakers who met Israel’s enemies By Israel Insider staff and partners
Israelinsider
A nationalist Israeli legislator who backs the expulsion of Arab Israelis went a step further Thursday, calling in parliament for the death penalty to be imposed on Arab lawmakers who met with leaders of the radical Lebanese Hezbollah and the militant Palestinian Hamas. Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Yisrael Beitenu Party, which was passed over for a place in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s new coalition government, spoke from the podium at the beginning of a parliamentary session to approve the new Cabinet, lashing out at legislators from the United Arab List who met last month with a Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52202

Israel planned expansion of West Bank settlements, documents show
Ma’an news
A key Israeli government agency has been promoting plans to build thousands of new houses in illegal West Bank settlements, government documents made public on Friday show. Documents from Israel’s Civil Administration, the government organ responsible for nonmilitary affairs in the occupied West Bank, were obtained by the organization B’Tselem through a Freedom of Information request. The plans, developed over the last two years, were approved by the Environment Subcommittee of the Civil Administration’s planning wing and plot out a major expansion of the Gush Eztion settlement bloc. If realized the plan will cut a swath of the West Bank adjacent to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, and annex it to the new settlement areas…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52200

Iraq’s queer underground railroad
Peter Tatchell, Guardian
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, homophobia and the terrorisation of LGBT people has got much worse. The western invasion of Iraq in 2003 … destroyed a secular state, created chaos and lawlessness and allowed the flourishing of religious fundamentalism. The result has been an Islamist-inspired homophobic terror campaign against LGBT Iraqis. …This campaign of terror is sanctioned by Iraq’s leading Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. In 2005, he issued a fatwa urging the killing of LGBT people in the “worst, most severe way” possible. This is the same Sistani who was praised by President Bush as a “leading moderate”. The British government concurred. We hosted him in Britain for medical treatment. He was anti-Saddam, so the west backed him, even after he issued his murderous religious edicts…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52209

GI Special 7B17: It’s Official [ 27 February 2009 ]
Thomas F. Barton
Some of the U.S. forces likely to remain in Iraq after President Barack Obama fulfills his pledge to withdraw combat troops would still have a combat role fighting suspected terrorists [translation: Iraqi nationalists fighting for their independence against a foreign occupation army], the Pentagon said Wednesday.
“I think a limited number of those that remain will conduct combat operations against terrorists [translation: Iraqi nationalists fighting for their independence against a foreign occupation army], assisting Iraqi security forces,” Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.
Although most of the fighting forces would be withdrawn in the next 18 months, some troops could remain in Iraq for years to come.
Obama expects to leave a large contingent of troops in Iraq, between 30,000 and 50,000 troops, after August, 2010 to advise and train Iraqi security forces and to protect U.S. interests, according to two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been made public.

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52197

Obama defends his “Guantánamo” in Afghanistan
By James Cogan
The Obama administration has insisted that prisoners being detained indefinitely without trial at a US prison at Bagram air base in Afghanistan have no right to challenge their detention or treatment through American courts. Last Friday, in a case in the federal district court involving four detainees at Bagram, Obama’s Justice Department stood by the Bush administration’s claim that the men were “enemy combatants” and that US courts had no jurisdiction. “Having considered the matter,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Michael Hertz wrote in a submission, “the government adheres to its previously articulated position”…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52191

UN apologises for giving Kerry letter from Hamas
By Donald Macintyre in Gaza City
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency apologised to the US government last night after it was criticised for passing to a US senator a letter from a Hamas representative intended for President Barack Obama. Karen Koning AbuZayd, the agency head, said she “deeply regrets any awkwardness” the transmission of the letter may have caused for the government, which has refused any direct contact with the Palestinian Islamist faction that rules Gaza…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52206

“A Whole New Kind of Struggle is Emerging”
Interview with John Bellamy Foster, Author of “The Great Financial Crisis”
Mike Whitney
…The first thing to recognize is that we are suddenly in a different historical period. One of my favorite quotes comes from Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1969 film Burn! where the main character, William Walker (played by Marlon Brando), states: “Very often between one historical period and another, ten years suddenly might be enough to reveal the contradictions of an entire century.” We are living in such a period, not only because of the Great Financial Crisis and what the IMF is now calling a depression in the advanced capitalist economies, but also because of the global ecological crisis that during the last decade has accelerated out of control under business as usual, and due to the reappearance of “naked imperialism.” What made sense ten years ago is nonsense now. New dangers and new possibilities are opening up. A whole different kind of struggle is emerging. The sudden fall of the governments in Iceland and Latvia as a result of protests against financial theft is remarkable, as are the widespread revolts in Greece and throughout the EU, with millions in the streets…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=52203

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