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 Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Vindictive Response to HAMAS Victory

  by

Linda Heard

Linda Heard is a British editor, journalist and columnist currently based in Cairo where she is a correspondent for the English-language Saudi daily The Arab News. Besides the writer’s weekly column in the Gulf News and regular articles in Shindagah magazine, her political commentaries have been published in Ahram Weekly, the South China Morning Post, Athens News, Palestine Chronicle, CounterPunch, Alternet, Online Journal and Outlook India.

Read here article by Linda Heard

The strong message coming out of Israel, which has long self-styled itself as “the only democracy in the region”, and Western proponents of Middle East democracies is that true democracy doesn’t pay.

Israel, the US and the EU all agree that the Jan. 27 elections, which produced a landslide Hamas victory, were free and fair, but this wasn’t good enough for them.

The outcome was simply NOT TO THEIR LIKING.

So now, the Palestinian people must be punished for making the wrong choice.



  • They are to be starved into submission, with curtailment of aid from the US and the EU held over their heads like the sword of Damocles.

  • Hamas is a terrorist organization, they say, conveniently forgetting that Fatah and its leader the late Yasser Arafat were once similarly labeled.

  • Arafat, who was the most frequent visitor to the Clinton White House and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, was vilified by the Bush administration from day one. Israel was quick to follow suit and kept the Palestinian patriot imprisoned in his Ramallah headquarters until the day he quit this world in mysterious circumstances.

  • The absence of Arafat left a void in Palestinian minds and hearts, which his successor Mahmoud Abbas could never hope to fill.Instead, of putting his people’s interests first, Abbas bent over backwards to appease the occupier and its Western cheerleaders, and got nothing at all in return.


  • The Palestinians have been subsisting under siege for more than half-a-century.



    1. They’ve suffered the confiscation of 80 percent of their land.

    2. They’ve been deprived of personal freedoms and livelihoods.

    3. They have been forced to helplessly witness the demolition of their homes and olive groves, the extrajudicial assassination of their leaders and the slaughter of their children whose only “crime” was throwing stones at IDF tanks.

    4. Today they live in virtual Bantustans cut off from each other by roadblocks and checkpoints.

    5. On the West Bank, an apartheid wall snakes through their lands, cutting them from schools, colleges and hospitals, and most importantly from their spiritual heartland Jerusalem.

    6. The Israelis may have quit Gaza but Palestinians there have no control of their borders, coastline or airspace and their economy lies in ruins.

    7. Some 80 percent of Palestinians subsist below the poverty of level of $2 per day and 38 percent are unable to find employment.
    Yet their spirit remains undimmed as we saw on Jan. 27 when, encouraged and supported by the West, they went to the polls hoping for a better future.

    Why did they choose Hamas is a question that many are asking.

    Some so-called experts believe the Palestinians wanted to punish Fatah for the party’s perceived graft as well as its failure to deliver either security or peace.

    On the other hand, Hamas has displayed a social conscience providing the poor with food, medical treatment and education for their children.

    While some leaders of Fatah have constructed grand multistory villas for themselves and regularly stuffed their Swiss bank accounts, their Hamas counterparts have espoused simple living and vowed to combat corruption.

    Whether Israel and the West like it or not, Hamas is now in the driving seat.

    This is not the time for hysteria.

    Israeli-Palestinian politics has reached a watershed and what happens from here on will design the future perhaps for decades to come.

    The West’s refusal to talk to Hamas and its threats of cutting aid unless Hamas disarms and recognizes Israel is NOT the way forward.

    Rather than break the will of Hamas, this stance is likely to further radicalize the group and throw it into the arms of Tehran, whose leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed the wish to see Israel wiped off the map.

    When considering their policies vis-à-vis Hamas, Israel, the US and the EU should bear in mind the unilateral ten-month hudna (cease-fire) adhered to by Hamas and its willingness to join the mainstream and pursue a political agenda.

    These are good indications that Hamas is now willing to adopt a more moderate line.

    Furthermore, Hamas is urging Fatah members to join its new government and promises to fill ministerial seats with technocrats, with whom Israel and the West can do business.

    But Israel has threatened to withhold millions of dollars representing customs and VAT reimbursements and announced it intends to pursue its policy of assassinating Hamas leaders even if they are appointed ministers.

    Khaled Meshal, the group’s current leader, has himself been a victim of this policy.

    In 1998, Meshal was targeted by Mossad agents masquerading as Canadians and injected with a lethal toxin.

    His predecessor Abdel-Aziz Rantissi and the spiritual leader of Hamas Sheikh Ahmed Yassin were both victims of targeted Israeli missiles.

    Amid such a hostile climate, it is unreasonable to expect Hamas to disarm, embrace Israel and tear up its controversial charter overnight.

    When Fatah stretched out its hand, Israel wanted to grab the whole arm and still refused to return to the peace table, so why should Hamas expect preferential treatment?

    Israel, the US and the EU need to open up lines of communication with Hamas.

    The new German Chancellor Angela Merkel showed the stance she plans to take when refusing to meet with Hamas representatives last Sunday during a visit to the region.

    Does Ms. Merkel honestly believe that such rejection of a democratically elected body will bear fruit?

    I don’t think so.

    Refusing to face the new Palestinian reality is not only hypocritical when Europe has been actively encouraging unfettered elections, but also puerile.

    The Israeli public is nervous.

    It's own ballot is on the horizon and if it perceives Hamas as a serious threat, it could once again opt for the hard-line Likud, led by archhawk Binyamin Nethanyahu, who has already compared the Hamas win to the rise of Hitler.

    It’s time for the US and Europe to quit their bully boy roles, get out of the name-calling schoolyard and show the Israelis that while the way forward won’t be strewn with rose petals, it doesn’t have to be littered with bullets either.

    Where are the wise men?

    Where are the lateral thinkers?

    If the only solution Israel and the West can come up with is starving a people who are struggling daily to combat poverty, then shame on them.

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    HAMAS Win: Israel Should Take the Blame

      The consequences of HAMAS' win are huge, not just for Palestinians but for the Middle East and for global movements of change as a whole.

    In terms of the relationship with Israel, NOTHING fundamental will change, but the mask will be off.

    1. ``Parliament'' and ``government'' are words that connote a sovereignty that is absent in reality.

    2. The mantra ``there is no partner for peace'' has been an ironclad law of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians since the days of the British Mandate.

    3. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's version was only the latest incarnation of the phrases we've heard so often: ``There are no Palestinians'' is how Golda Meir (Israeli Prime Minister, 1969 - 1974) put it.

      News Compass Note:
      The actual statement made by Golda Meir was this:
      "There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist."
      -- Golda Meir, statement to The Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969.

      "How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to."-- Golda Meir, March 8, 1969.

      From David Ben-Gurion, Prime Minister 1949 - 1954, 1955 - 1963 :

      "We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population." --- David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978.

      "
      We must expel Arabs and take their places." -- David Ben Gurion, 1937, Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs, Oxford University Press, 1985.


      From Menachem Begin, Prime Minister,1977-1983 :

      "[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs."
      -- Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, "Begin and the 'Beasts,"' New Statesman, June 25, 1982.

      Read here related comments from other Israeli Prime Ministers

    4. ``The PLO is a terrorist organization'' was the line of successive Israeli governments until Oslo in 1993.
    5. ``We will NOT negotiate with Arafat'' was the catchphrase of the post-Oslo era.

    It wasn't really Hamas that eviscerated Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah in the elections.

    It was the Israeli governments that engineered the FAILURE of the ``peace process'' to produce fruit.

    Still, the Hamas victory will make it much easier for Israel to sell the ``no partner for peace'' line.

    After Oslo, the daily life of Palestinians in the occupied territories has deteriorated to almost subhuman levels, largely because of Israeli policies.

    The best that people hope for is to keep their heads above water and pray that their society will not suffer a complete collapse.

    At times like these, people turn to God and to each other.

    Hamas has helped them to do both, and it has something to show for it
    .

    Read here full article in the San Jose Mercury News


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     Monday, January 30, 2006

    United States: Catastrophe Looming as Average Americans are Incapable of Processing information

      by

    Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

    Image hosting by PhotobucketDr. Roberts is Chairman of the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing editor for National Review, and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.


    Two recent polls, a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll and a New York Times/CBS News poll, indicate why Bush is getting away with impeachable offenses.

    Half of the US population is INCAPABLE of acquiring, processing and understanding information.

    Much of the problem is the media itself, which serves as a disinformation agency for the Bush administration.

    (Read here earlier posting "Many Americans STILL Believe 9/11 Hijackers were IRAQIS ")

    Fox "News" and right-wing talk radio are the worst, but with propagandistic outlets setting the standard for truth and patriotism, all of the media is affected to some degree.

    Despite the media’s failure, about half the population has managed to discern that the US invasion of Iraq has not made them safer and that the Bush administration’s assault on civil liberties is not a necessary component of the war on terror.

    The problem, thus, lies with the absence of due diligence on the part of the other half of the population.

    Consider the New York Times/CBS poll.


  • Sixty-four percent (64%) of the respondents have concerns about losing civil liberties as a result of anti-terrorism measures put in place by President Bush.

  • Yet, 53 percent approve of spying without obtaining court warrants "in order to reduce the threat of terrorism."

    Why does any American think that spying without a warrant has any more effect in reducing the threat of terrorism than spying with a warrant?

    The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Bush is disobeying, requires the executive to obtain from a secret panel of federal judges a warrant for spying on Americans.

    The purpose of the law is to prevent a president from spying for partisan political reasons. The law permits the president to spy first (for 72 hours) and then come to the court for permission. As the court meets in secret, spying without a warrant is no more effective in reducing the threat of terrorism than spying with a warrant.

    Instead of explaining this basic truth, the media has played along with the Bush administration and formulated the question as a trade-off between civil liberties and protection from terrorists.

    This formulation is false and nonsensical.

    Why does the media enable the Bush administration to escape accountability for illegal behavior by putting false and misleading choices before the people?

    The LA Times/Bloomberg poll has equally striking anomalies.

    Only 43 percent said they approved of Bush’s performance as president.


  • But a majority believe Bush’s policies have made the US MORE secure.

    It is extraordinary that anyone would think Americans are safer as a result of Bush invading two Muslim countries and constantly threatening two more with military attack.

    The invasions and threats have caused a dramatic swing in Muslim sentiment away from the US.

  • Prior to Bush’s invasion of Iraq, a large majority of Muslims had a favorable opinion of America.

  • Now only about 5 percent do.

    A number of US commanders in Iraq and many Middle East experts have told the American public that the three year-old war in Iraq is serving both to recruit and to train terrorists for al Qaeda, which has grown many times its former size.

    Moreover, the US military has concluded that al Qaeda has succeeded in having its members elected to the new Iraqi government.

    We have seen similar developments both in Egypt and in Pakistan.

  • In the recent Egyptian elections, the radical Muslim Brotherhood, despite being suppressed by the Egyptian government, won a large number of seats.

  • In Pakistan elements friendly or neutral toward al Qaeda control about half of the government.

  • In Iraq, Bush’s invasion has replaced secular Sunnis with Islamist Shia allied with Iran.

  • And now with the triumph of Hamas in the Palestinian election, we see the total failure of Bush’s Middle Eastern policy.

    Bush has succeeded in displacing secular moderates from Middle Eastern governments and replacing them with Islamic extremists.

    It boggles the mind that this disastrous result makes Americans feel safer!

    What does it say for democracy that half of the American population is unable to draw a rational conclusion from unambiguous facts?

    Americans share this disability with the Bush administration.


  • According to news reports, the Bush administration is stunned by the election victory of the radical Islamist Hamas Party, which swept the US-financed Fatah Party from office.

    Why is the Bush administration astonished?

    The Bush administration is astonished because it stupidly believes that hundreds of millions of Muslims should be grateful that the US has interfered in their internal affairs for 60 years, setting up colonies and puppet rulers to suppress their aspirations and to achieve, instead, purposes of the US government.

    Americans need desperately to understand that 95 percent of all Muslim terrorists in the world were created in the past three years by Bush’s invasion of Iraq.



    Americans need desperately to comprehend that if Bush attacks Iran and Syria, as he intends, terrorism will explode, and American civil liberties will disappear into a thirty-year war that will bankrupt the United States.

    The total lack of rationality and competence in the White House and the inability of half of the US population to acquire and understand information are far larger threats to Americans than terrorism.

    America has become a rogue nation, flying blind, guided only by ignorance and hubris. A terrible catastrophe awaits.

    Read here original article


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     Sunday, January 29, 2006

    No Option Situation: ISRAEL and HAMAS Have to Cooperate

     

    Other Breaking News

    HAMAS will make Islamic law a source for legislation:Sheikh Mohammed Abu Tir, No. 2 on the Hamas list, said that the if his movement forms the next Palestinian government, it will make sharia, or Islamic law, a source of law in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. He told Canada's Globe and Mail that the government will modify the existing Palestinian education system to and institute a more Islamic curriculum, and will separate boys and girls.Read here for more


    Read here full article by Anna Badkhen in San Francisco Chronicle

    Hamas leaders say they NEVER will negotiate with Israel, a state the militant group has pledged to destroy.

    Israeli leaders say they will NOT deal with Hamas, which swept to stunning victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections this week.

    But in the crowded confines that Israel and the Palestinian territories occupy, confrontation is likely to take a back seat to the demands of day-to-day concerns, analysts say.

    And some say the inevitable interaction between the two sides -- which once seemed impossible -- may push Hamas and Israel toward broader cooperation.

    Naseer Aruri, professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and a former member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Central Committee said:
    "It's inevitable that Hamas will be dealing with Israel ... in matters relating to infrastructure -- water, electricity, security, trade, crossing borders. "
    Much of the Palestinian Authority's economy and infrastructure is tightly linked with Israel, which supplies the 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with water, electricity and telecommunications.

    Any Palestinian government that wants to improve the lives of its people -- a pledge Hamas candidates made during the election and, according to opinion surveys, is a top priority for Palestinian voters -- will have to deal with Israel on such issues as utilities, border crossings, imports and exports.

    But Israel cannot ignore Palestinian needs either unless it is prepared to endure an upsurge in violence, said Robert Malley, the Middle East program director at the International Crisis Group and a member of then-President Bill Clinton's negotiating team at Camp David in 2000.

    According to Malley,
    "It's not clear that the Israelis would benefit from the breakdown of Palestinian Authority, which would bring chaos, instability, renewed violence against Israel."
    In fact, examples of cooperation between Hamas and Israeli officials already exist, he said. In the Palestinian town of Qalqilya, which sits on the border between Israel and the West Bank, acting mayor and Hamas functionary Hashem al-Masri has been talking with Israeli officials, negotiating the flow of electricity, garbage removal and sewage grids, said Malley, who visited al-Masri this month.

    If the leaders of the two sides understand that such contact is inevitable, they are not showing it yet, at least publicly.

    On Friday, acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert again ruled out negotiations with a Hamas government "if even part of it is an armed terrorist organization calling for the destruction of the state of Israel."

    Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Hamas movement in Syria, responded by pledging to continue resistance against the Israeli presence in the West Bank and military forays into the Gaza Strip.

    "As long as there is occupation and so long as our people's rights are usurped, our stand will remain as it is. We would resist the occupation to restore our rights," Abu Marzouk told the Associated Press.

    Some experts say Israel's tough talk is prompted at least partially by Israeli parliamentary elections, scheduled for March 28.

    Olmert's moderate Kadima party will compete against the hard-line Likud party of Benjamin Netanyahu.

    The incapacitation of charismatic Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the founder of Kadima who suffered a massive stroke early this month, makes Israel's political situation even more unsettled.

    Shai Feldman, director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., said:

    "The last thing that Olmert needs now is to provide ammunition to Likud to say: 'Olmert is advocating negotiations with Hamas,' Until

    March 28, there will be very tough rhetoric.

    After that, I think that of course everybody will have to begin to adjust to realities."


    Surveys suggest that a majority of Israelis support talking to a Palestinian government led by Hamas.

    A poll published Friday in the Israeli Maariv daily newspaper showed that 40 percent of Israelis believe Tel Aviv should talk with Hamas if it renounces its determination to destroy Israel, and another 27 percent said talks should be held with no conditions.

    Only 29 percent of Israelis favor cutting off all contacts with the Palestinians, freezing talks and resuming "targeted" assassinations of Hamas leaders, the poll showed.

    At the same time, Palestinian polls have consistently shown that majorities in the West Bank and Gaza believe in a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, signaling that most Palestinians will NOT be opposed to negotiations between Hamas and Israel.

    And if Hamas wants to realize its election promises to restore order to lawless streets, cut unemployment and improve infrastructure, it will have to make concessions and deal with Israel, said Yossi Alpher, a former Mossad agent and co-editor of bitterlemons.org, an Israeli-Palestinian political Web-based magazine.

    "They elected a movement which wants to destroy Israel ... and now they have a problem: How are they going to run Palestine, given the heavy dependency on Israel?" he said. "They might have to make some painful compromises."

    One possibility, he said, is that Hamas sets up "a government of technocrats, so that we can talk to the prime minister or the minister of finance because they're not from Hamas," Alpher said. "But for that, Hamas would have to agree that even though it won the elections, it will stay on the sidelines ... basically admitting that they can't run Palestine."

    Another option is that Hamas manages internal Palestinian affairs while delegating the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is the legal agent for negotiations with Israel, to talk to Israelis on all issues pertaining to infrastructure, said George Bisharat, a Palestinian activist and an adviser to the Oakland-based Institute for Middle East Understanding.

    Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said last week that his group would consider talks with Israel through a third party, and mentioned the PLO as a potential mediator.

    "Ultimately both parties will have to deal with each other," Bisharat said.

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     Saturday, January 28, 2006

    Double Standards: Unease and Conditional Acceptance of Western-styled Democracy for Middle East

      Read here original article by JOHN LEICESTER, Associated Press Writer

    HAMAS won seemingly fair-and-square at the ballot box. The group was listed as a terrorist organization and this compounded the dilemma for foreign governments.

    (Note: Compare to international response to Israel's election when the right-wing Likud led by Ariel Sharon won. The Likud Government had resulted in more casualties in terror-related attacks on the Palestinians over the last 5 years. Read here for more)

    World leaders, uneasy at the prospect of a Hamas-led Palestinian government, immediately exerted pressure on the Islamic militants Thursday to recognize Israel and renounce violence as a precondition for support.

    While they welcomed the smooth running of the Palestinian legislative elections, the militants' stunning showing also unsettled many and threw Middle East peacemaking into turmoil.

    "Hamas won," said Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel. "Hamas is surely not a democratic movement. Its ideas are surely not humanistic ideas.

    "What do we do now?"

    European governments and the United States presented a united front — insisting that Hamas renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist — and planned meetings to coordinate their response.

    A senior European Parliament lawmaker, Elmar Brok, warned of a possible cutoff of European Union aid for the Palestinians if Hamas does not change its policies.

    "You cannot have one foot in politics and another in terror," said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, adding that for the United States, Hamas is still a terrorist organization.

    "The whole of the international community has the responsibility to accept the outcome of any fair and democratic election," said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. "But in this case Hamas has a clear responsibility to understand that with democracy goes a rejection of violence."

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman was blunt: "We can only do business with people who renounce terrorism," he said.

    Concern crossed political divides, with traditional supporters of the Palestinian cause — such as Italy's center-left opposition — among those expressing concern.

    The Italian government said Hamas' victory could indefinitely postpone any chance of Israeli-Palestinian peace and make the creation of a Palestinian state more difficult.

    "It is a very, very, very bad result," Italian news agencies quoted Premier Silvio Berlusconi as saying.

    Rice was due to meet in London on Monday with U.N., Russian and European leaders as the so-called "Quartet" evaluates the election results and tries to decide how to proceed with peacemaking efforts.

    EU foreign ministers meeting Monday also will discuss the 25-nation bloc's response.

    In the Arab and Islamic worlds, some were jubilant. Hamas' win topped the news on state-run radio in Iran — which is accused by Israel and the United States of supplying Hamas and other Palestinian militants with weapons and funding.

    "This is a victory to all the region's free people," said Ayyoub Muhanna, a 29-year-old who owns a spare parts shop in Lebanon. "The Palestinians gave their vote to the party that gave of its blood."

    In Pakistan, a lawmaker from the hard-line Islamic opposition said Israel and the United States would be enemies of democracy if they refused to negotiate with a Hamas-led government.

    An Islamic leader in Indonesia said Hamas' win must be recognized as an expression of Palestinian aspirations.

    "Hamas' victory heralds a change in the entire region. This symbolizes that Islamic groups are getting successful," said the Pakistani lawmaker, Liaqat Baluch.

    Japan hailed the successful holding of elections as "an important step toward building a democratic Palestinian state" but also said it expects the Palestinian Authority "to control the extremists" and work for peace.

    Israel, the United States and the European Union have said they would not deal with a government led by Hamas, which has carried out dozens of suicide bombings, seeks Israel's destruction and has said that it opposes peace talks and will not disarm.

    Sweden's foreign minister, Laila Freivalds, said Hamas' showing was "a protest against those in power who have not done enough, a reaction to the incapacity to lead the political process forward."

    But she said the 25-nation EU cannot cooperate with Hamas unless it changes its policies.

    In France, the prime minister said renouncing violence, accepting progress toward peace, recognizing Israel and the Oslo peace accords were "indispensable" conditions for working with "a Palestinian government of any kind."

    "These (election) results may confront us with an entirely new situation which will need to be analyzed," said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

    The EU has given millions of euros (dollars) in aid to the Palestinian Authority to help reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank — funding that was called into question following Hamas' win.

    "It is obvious that the EU would never countenance funding a regime that continued an armed fight against Israel," said Ignasi Guardans, a Spanish member of the European Parliament. "But we cannot push for democracy and then deny the result of free and fair elections."

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    HAMAS Leader, Mahmoud al-Zahar, Speaks Out.

     

    Other Breaking News
  • A confidential Saudi report prepared just weeks before the Palestinian elections predicted a Hamas victory in Gaza and the West Bank and puts the blame on the United States: 'By failing to strengthen (President Mahmoud )Abbas`s position, the U.S. has paved the way for a Hamas victory,' states a document prepared by the Saudi National Security Assessment Project. Obaid`s study anticipated that the Palestinian elections set for January 25, 2006 'will in all probability result in a victory for Hamas. Such an outcome would have wide ranging implications for Saudi Arabia`s national security and emerging foreign policy in the region." Read here for more
  • HAMAS should thank Bush for its election success: WHEN Hamas leaders trace the roots of their electoral triumph they should spare a thought — or perhaps devote a prayer — to their nemesis President Bush, who more than anyone has made the march of political Islam a reality in the Middle East. Thanks in no small measure to America’s efforts, groups previously marginalised in politics are in the ascendancy from the Nile to the Tigris and beyond. The strategy, adopted after the attacks on September 11, 2001, was supposed to give a voice to the disgruntled population of the region, many of whom had lived under dictatorships for a generation.Read here fore more

  • Mahmoud al-Zahar
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    Mahmoud al-Zahar is widely regarded as the leader of Hamas in the Palestinian territories.

    He is HAMAS's most senior figure in Gaza after the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi in 2004.

    Profile

    Born in Gaza, he studied medicine at Cairo University. An admirer of Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, he turned to Islamism after Israel’s rout of the Arab regimes in 1967. He grew disillusioned at what he called the ‘contamination and poverty’ of the Egyptian system.

    He was a co-founder of Hamas in 1987 and served as as its first press spokesman.

    Israel expelled him from Gaza in 1992 and sent him into temporary exile in Lebanon.

    Israel tried to assassinate him, but he escaped an F16 raid on his home.

    The Israeli raid killed his eldest son and injured his wife.

    Dr al-Zahar offered no apologies for his past or his hardline views.

    This is what he told Stephen Farrell of The Times this week.

    1. On giving up weapons:

    “Why do we have to give up our weapons?

    If Israel comes back to occupy our land, will your country come to defend our people?

    Why do we have to put up our guns while every country everywhere has in addition to a political system a strong military system in order to protect their homeland, their interests and their people?

    So why do you consider us a unique phenomenon that we have to keep the Israeli border, to keep the Israeli aggression against our people, to keep our people inside Israeli jails without resistance?”

    2. On negotiations with Israel:

    “Negotiation is not a goal in itself. It is a method; it is not an objective.

    If Israel has anything to offer on the issues of halting attacks, withdrawal, releasing prisoners . . . then one thousand means can be found.

    Negotiation is not taboo.

    The political crime is when we sit with the Israelis and then come out with a wide smile to tell the Palestinian people that there is progress, when in fact, there is not.

    The Palestinian Authority (PA) negotiated with them for many, many years and reached lastly a deadlock. So why should we be a new copy, like Fatah, wasting the time and money of the people negotiating for nothing?”

    3. On relations with Israel:

    “We have to disengage from Israel economically, on security, everything.

    We have to open the doors to the Arab and Muslim countries.

    Co-operation on the security field was a disaster for the Palestinians because it threatened the integrity of the Palestinians.

    When the PA co-operated against Hamas, that was a very critical moment that could have pushed some Hamas people to attack the PA.

    We destroyed our economical status by the linkage of our economy with the Israeli (one) . . . For example, we pay 5.5 shekels (66p) per litre for petrol from Israel.

    From Egypt, one metre from our borders, it is one Egyptian pound (9p).

    In 2004 we paid to Israel in one year $186 million (£105 million) for electricity.

    If we took it from Egypt it will be $20 million. We have ten commercial agreements with the Arabic and Islamic world without taxes.

    Israel takes from us 17 taxes and they are destroying our industry.”

    4. On fears that the West will cut off aid:

    “Forty per cent of donated money is conditional.

    If the condition is to dismantle the resistance movement to prevent Hamas participating in the government, when the people vote for Hamas, how can we justify to the Palestinians that we are taking money from a donor country at the expense of national interest?

    So we are not in need of the money, especially if it is at the expense of our national interest. But even so we ask everybody to help the Palestinian people, but without conditions.

    And they have the full right to come, watch and observe where the money went, where it is used.

    But if they are going to help Israel’s long-standing occupation this is unacceptable.”

    5. On Europe:
    “The European people came to me in the last month and they said within six months they are going to do their best to change the attitudes of their administration, because they do not accept Hamas is a terrorist organisation.

    Sooner or later the European countries in particular are going to change their mind concerning their attitude with Hamas.”
    6. On relations with America:

    “With America in such a ‘dirty man’ period I think nothing can be changed.

    In America there is a Christian Zionism. They believe that Jesus will return for the second 1,000 years.

    You heard from Bush when he said, ‘It is a new Crusade’.

    He is arousing a deep hatred, an historical hatred in this area.

    The F16 which destroyed my house is American.

    The Apache helicopters are American.

    The international decisions in the Security Council backing Israel are American.

    The pressure on you to help the Israelis and to consider Hamas terrorist is American.”

    7. On US foreign policy:

    “After the attack on Iraq they are suffering from a big hatred, a bad feeling from the Arabic and Islamic world and also the international community . . . They arrange for a very dirty policy in the Middle East.

    They attacked Afghanistan and put in (Hamid) Karzai, an American collaborator, and put in a corrupt Iraqi collaborator.

    And they dismantled the security of Egypt by arousing the protests of Christianity and Islam. They tried to interfere in Saudi Arabia.

    Now they destroy the integrity of Lebanon.

    Now they threaten the situation in Syria.

    What is running here is big crimes, international crimes.”

    8. On electoral victory:

    “It is good for the history of Palestine because the corrupted system should reach an end for the benefit of the Palestinian people.

    For Hamas it will give a second stage towards being legitimate.

    We achieved the first process: the legitimacy of fighting against the enemy and achieving success.

    The second is constitutional.”


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    HAMAS is the SON of ISRAEL

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    History and Background of HAMAS:

    Hamas is an abbreviation of Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya (Arabic: Islamic Resistance Movement).

    The acronym corresponds to an Arabic word, meaning "enthusiasm, fire, ardor, fervor, zeal, fanaticism".

    Its military wing is known as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades to commemorate Sheikh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, the father of modern Arab resistance, killed by the British in 1935.

    Armed Hamas cells also sometimes refer to themselves as "Students of Ayyash," "Students of the Engineer," or "Yahya Ayyash Units," to commemorate Yahya Ayyash, an early Hamas bomb-maker who was assassinated by Israel in 1996 for designing explosive devices used in operations that killed more than 50 Israelis.

    Read here for more

    "The Israelis birthed and nurtured their Islamist nemesis"


    by

    Justin Raimondo
    (Justin Raimondo is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000). He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996).

    He is a contributing editor for The American Conservative, a Senior Fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute, and an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.


    Amid all the howls of pain and gnashing of teeth over the triumph of Hamas in the Palestinian elections, one fact remains relatively obscure, albeit highly relevant:

    Israel did much to launch Hamas as an effective force in the occupied territories.

    If ever there was a clear case of "blowback," then this is it.

    As Richard Sale pointed out in a piece for UPI:

    "Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.

    Israel 'aided Hamas directly – the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization),' said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic [and International] Studies.

    Israel's support for Hamas 'was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,' said a former senior CIA official."

    Middle East analyst Ray Hanania concurs:

    "In addition to hoping to turn the Palestinian masses away from Arafat and the PLO, the Likud leadership believed they could achieve a workable alliance with Islamic, anti-Arafat forces that would also extend Israel's control over the occupied territories."
    In a conscious effort to undermine the Palestine Liberation Organization and the leadership of Yasser Arafat, in 1978 the government of then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin approved the application of Sheik Ahmad Yassin to start a "humanitarian" organization known as the Islamic Association, or Mujama.

    The roots of this Islamist group were in the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, and this was the seed that eventually grew into Hamas – but not before it was amply fertilized and nurtured with Israeli funding and political support.

    Menachem Begin and his successor, Yitzhak Shamir, launched an effort to undercut the PLO, creating the so-called Village Leagues, composed of local councils of handpicked Palestinians who were willing to collaborate with Israel – and, in return, were put on the Israeli payroll.

    Sheik Yassin and his followers soon became a force within the Village Leagues.

    This tactical alliance between Yassin and the Israelis was based on a shared antipathy to the militantly secular and leftist PLO: the Israelis allowed Yassin's group to publish a newspaper and set up an extensive network of charitable organizations, which collected funds not only from the Israelis but also from Arab states opposed to Arafat.

    Ami Isseroff, writing on MideastWeb, shows how the Israelis deliberately promoted the Islamists of the future Hamas by helping them turn the Islamic University of Gaza into a base from which the group recruited activists – and the suicide bombers of tomorrow.

    As the only higher-education facility in the Gaza strip, and the only such institution open to Palestinians since Anwar Sadat closed Egyptian colleges to them, IUG contained within its grounds the seeds of the future Palestinian state.

    When a conflict arose over religious issues, however, the Israeli authorities sided with the Islamists against the secularists of the Fatah-PLO mainstream.

    As Isseroff relates, the Islamists:


    "....encouraged Israeli authorities to dismiss heir opponents in the committee in February of 1981, resulting in subsequent Islamisation of IUG policy and staff (including the obligation on women to wear the hijab and thobe and separate entrances for men and women), and enforced by violence and stracization of dissenters.

    Tacit complicity from both university and Israeli authorities allowed Mujama to keep a weapons cache to use against secularists.

    By the mid 1980s, it was the largest university in occupied territories with 4,500 students, and student elections were won handily by Mujama."

    Again, the motive was to offset Arafat's influence and divide the Palestinians.

    In the short term, this may have worked to some extent; in the longer term, however, it backfired badly – as demonstrated by the results of the recent Palestinian election.


    The Hamas infrastructure of mosques, clinics, kindergartens, and other educational institutions flourished not only because they were lavishly funded, but also due to being efficiently run.

    Sheik Yassin and the future leaders of Hamas acquired a reputation for "clean" governance and good administrative practices, which would greatly aid them – especially in comparison to the PLO, which was widely perceived as corrupt.

    Indeed, "clean government" – and not the necessity of armed struggle – was the main theme of their successful election campaign.

    The response of Israel and the U.S. has been shock, horror – and a stated refusal to deal with any government dominated by Hamas.

    U.S. congressional leaders – who unhelpfully passed a resolution prior to the Palestinian poll that demanded Hamas be banned from running – are now calling the entire "peace process" into question.

    Yet no one acknowledges that the victory of the Suicide Bombers Party demonstrated, in practice, an ancient principle expressed, I believe, by no less an authority than the Bible (Galatians 6:7):

    "Be not deceived. God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

    This "blowback" principle applies to Hamas not only insofar as Israel was involved in funding and encouraging Mujama, but also, after the consolidation of Hamas as an armed group, due to Israeli military policy.

    The much-touted "withdrawal," which amounts to Israel giving up Gaza while strengthening its hand elsewhere in the occupied territories, has been grist for the radical Islamist mill, as has the Wall of Separation and the attempt to quash the vote in East Jerusalem.

    Israel's relentless offensive against its perceived enemies – first Fatah, now Hamas and Islamic Jihad – has created a backlash and solidified support for fundamentalist extremist factions in the Palestinian community.


    Likewise, the victory of Hamas will embolden the ultra-Zionists in Israel, who similarly mix a fanatic theology with faith in a military "solution" to the Palestinian "problem."

    The electoral victory of Hamas was only a few hours old before Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu went on television explaining why any concessions to the Palestinians – including the Gaza pullback – only served to embolden the most radical elements, such as Hamas.

    The stricken Ariel Sharon lies in his hospital bed, unconscious – while his unilateral "land for peace" plan suffers from a very similar condition. Sharon's newly-formed Kadima Party is the big potential loser in all this, with Netanyahu's Likud looking to gain bigtime.

    The irony is that, as defense minister, it was Sharon who helped conceive and oversee the Village Leagues scheme that did so much to implant and empower Hamas.


    Like some Middle Eastern version of Dr. Frankenstein, he wound up being struck down by his own monstrous creation.

    There is a lesson in there, somewhere, though it isn't one the Israelis or their American sponsors seem capable of learning just yet.

    The idea that voting is some kind of panacea that will cleanse the Middle East of a self-defeating radicalism is an illusion that died a painful death with the election victory of Hamas.

    It had earlier suffered near-fatal convulsions with the ascension to power in Iraq of a Shi'ite fundamentalist coalition closely tied to Iran.

    The bitch-goddess of capital-D Democracy is a fickle and often perversely cruel deity, whose worshippers have been hit with a one-two punch as they seek to transform an entire region according to the canons of their peculiar dogma.


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     Friday, January 27, 2006

    Democracy in Middle East: A Two-Edged Sword for President Bush

      Read here full article by Paul Richter in LA Times

    HAMAS's victory at the Palestinian election was a graphic illustration of the perils of the President's push for greater democracy in the Middle East.

    Some analysts said the U.S. would have to rethink the entire approach.

    Some U.S. officials acknowledged that the administration was surprised by the Hamas victory, which was not predicted by any poll.


  • Elections in the last year have handed power to a hard-line government in Iran and to religious Shiite parties in Iraq.

  • They have boosted the position of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

  • The vote in Palestinian territories Wednesday was perhaps the clearest example that elections do not necessarily result in governments friendly to Washington.

    However, Bush also seemed to leave open the possibility of a better relationship with Hamas. He said he didn't regard the vote as an endorsement of terrorism.

    He rejected suggestions that the vote was a setback for his strategy of using democratic reform to bring beneficial change.

    Yet it was clear that Hamas' victory had altered the diplomatic landscape overnight in a way that seems likely to diminish U.S. leverage in the search for Middle East peace.

    The election throws into doubt how much Washington can use one lever of its influence — U.S. aid — since federal law prohibits the spending of American money by groups such as Hamas that are designated terrorist organizations.

    The elections also will test U.S. relations with another key partner in the peace effort, the Europeans.

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice likewise suggested that Washington hoped it could prod HAMAS toward acceptable conduct.

    Edward Abington, a former U.S. diplomat who advises the Palestinian Authority, predicted that in the absence of the current leadership, the peace effort would come to a halt. He said Abbas would probably remain in office but become increasingly isolated.

    "The Americans will say they support him, but I don't know how much that will mean."

    Abington called the elections "a huge setback for the Bush administration and its policy in the region."

    Some analysts predicted that Hamas' victory would cause a rethinking among outsiders if not within the White House. David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said there needed to be "some soul-searching in Washington" about whether the administration pressed too hard for the election over Palestinian calls to postpone it.

    New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said the election had to be respected as it reflected the will of the Palestinian people. Mr Peters said:
    "Hamas now has an historic opportunity and responsibility to change direction and embrace the peace process.

    Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei's government has resigned and Hamas is in a position to form a new government.

    Hamas now has the responsibility to represent all Palestinians and embody their need and desire for peace and stability."
    Read here for more

    In Israel, shocked and embarrassed was the best way to describe the mood at Israel Defense Force (IDF) headquarters in Tel Aviv after the top brass learned of Hamas's unexpected landslide victory.

    One senior Israeli Defense Ministry official said the army had clearly failed in its job to accurately "read" the Palestinian street. The mistake, the official said, showed that Military Intelligence (MI) was "out of touch" with what was really going on in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

    "What this mistake shows," the official said, "is that the IDF is not on top of things and is out of touch with what is really going on in the PA territories." Read here for more


  • How HAMAS has attained political power

    BY RALPH NURNBERGER
    RalphN@prestongates.com


    The strong showing of Hamas in the Palestinian elections is worrisome to Israel, the United States and most European states.
    However, it is not surprising.

  • The United States classified Hamas as ''a terrorist group.''

  • Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated ''It is not possible to have one foot in terrorism and the other foot in politics. It simply does not work.''

  • British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that ``it is very difficult for us to be in the position of negotiating or talking to Hamas unless there's a clear renunciation of terrorism.''

    Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas leader, repeatedly emphasized during the campaign the right to armed struggle to destroy Israel.

    He said,
    ''We do not recognize the Israeli enemy, nor his right to be our neighbor, nor to stay on the land.

    Our principles are clear: Palestine is a land of Waqf (Islamic trust), which cannot be given up.''

    Zahar told a cheering crowd that Hamas participated in the elections to make the newly elected legislative council ``a project of resistance.''
  • Upsetting? Yes. Surprising? No.

    Hamas previously refused to participate in Palestinian Authority elections, believing this was de facto recognition of Israel.

    Following the death of Yasser Arafat in November 2004, Hamas reversed this stand, determining to enhance its political power by engaging politically.

    Since Arafat's passing, Hamas' support has grown by approximately 40 percent.

    Five factors contributed to Hamas ascendancy.

    1. Hamas concluded that it could fill a power vacuum after Arafat died. While Arafat's popularity declined during his last years, he was still an icon who was almost impossible to challenge successfully. His successor, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), is a man in his 70s, with little charisma and almost no following on the streets.

      Abbas was unable to curb Palestinian corruption. His security forces are unable to ensure law and order.

      Unemployment among Palestinians still seeking work is approximately 20 percent in the West Bank and over 30 percent in Gaza.

      Poverty is more widespread, and basic services are inadequate.

      Arab states have not provided the aid they promised.

      Despite meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President George Bush, Abbas did not move the peace process. Both Israel and the United States concluded that, despite his positive comments, Abbas could not deliver.

    2. Fatah, the party founded by Arafat in the 1960s and now led by Abbas, has become increasingly fragmented.

      Although theoretically united while Arafat lived, splits within Fatah were discernable during Arafat's lifetime.

      Younger members objected to the arrogance of their elders, many of whom had traveled with Arafat and only returned to the region in 1994.

      While the old guard never regained credibility on the streets, younger leaders such as Marwan Barghouti developed their own following within Fatah, but did not achieve sufficient leadership positions within the party.

    3. Hamas earned support even among Palestinians who rejected hard-line positions. Aided by funds from Iran and elsewhere, Hamas provided alternative social services, including education, medical care and welfare.

      Hamas also sought to crack down on many elements of corruption. Its successes in municipal elections enabled it to show that it could work to enhance the quality of people's lives.

    4. Explanations provided by Hamas for Israeli disengagement from Gaza resonated more than those provided by the PA. Khaled Mashal, a Hamas leader, said,
      ''The resistance . . . of our people forced the Zionists to withdraw.''
      This approach legitimized the death of ''martyrs,'' enhanced Palestinians' self-image and set the stage for future territorial gains through further violence.

    5. Hamas is more politically unified than Fatah. Unlike Fatah, which ran multiple candidates in some districts, Hamas did not dilute its vote.
    Hamas will now play a major role in the new government without rejecting any core principles such as accepting Israel's right to exist, renouncing terrorism or disarming its constituents.

    This, in turn, poses major challenges to Washington and Jerusalem.

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    Palestinian Election: Expert Says HAMAS won on its Welfare Services

      Read here original article

    A New Zealand expert on the Middle East says HAMAS won the Palestinian election on the back of its provision of social welfare services and its reputation for honesty.

    HAMAS won an overwhelming majority in the 132-seat legislature, taking 76 seats to ruling party Fatah's 43, giving it the right to form the next government.

    Massey University School of History, Philosophy and Politics lecturer Nigel Parsons said the elections confirmed Hamas' popularity for the work it did alongside its high-profile militant attacks on Israel.

    Dr Parsons has spent time in the occupied territories and published a book on the Palestinian Authority.

    He said:


    "The West gives the impression of dreading Hamas in Palestine, but people have voted for them, as the Egyptians have for the Muslim Brotherhood.

    There is more to the party than the suicide bombings – Hamas has also established clinics, schools and essential infrastructure to replace that destroyed by the Israeli Army.

    They have proved to be reliable and fair and importantly honest in their administration.

    People feel confident when giving money to Hamas that the funds will be distributed as intended."

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party said on Thursday it did not want to join a government led by Hamas after the militant group won a legislative election.

    Fatah's Central Committee met after preliminary results gave Hamas Islamists 76 seats in the 132-seat legislature to 43 for Fatah in Wednesday's election -- ensuring that Hamas can decide the shape of the next government.Read here for more

    Iran congratulated militant group Hamas Thursday on its stunning victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections.

    "Iran congratulates the great Palestinian people, the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), all Palestinians combatants on this occasion," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying. Read here for more
    Is Democracy Empowering Islamists?

    By Howard LaFranchi
    (Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor )

    Palestinian voters availed themselves of the time- honored democratic right to "throw the bums out" in their first legislative elections in a decade Wednesday - exactly the kind of action implicit in President Bush's push for democracy in the Middle East.

    But by snubbing the Fatah Party of US-supported Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in favor of the radical Islamist group Hamas, Palestinians also put the Bush administration in a difficult spot.

    The US might now seem hypocritical to many Arabs - encouraging democracy in the Middle East, while rejecting the choices that result from its exercise.

    At the same time, questions mount over whether Mr. Bush's campaign for democracy is encouraging the empowerment of Islamist militants across the region.

    Says Arthur Hughes, a former deputy assistant secretary of State for Near East affair :

    "This [election result] is really going to scare ... other governments in the region, and the Egyptians in particular are going to tell the US, 'We told you so.'

    They'll see this as more evidence of what comes from our pressure to open up their societies, but they won't acknowledge that their hard-line tactics are what are leading to the growth" of Islamic extremism."


    The Palestinian results, which give an organization on the US list of terrorist groups a majority in the 132-seat Legislative Council, are part of a trend across Muslim countries, experts say.

    Fawaz Gerges, a Middle East expert at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. says:

    "The victory of Hamas cannot be seen in isolation from the major accomplishments of Islamists across Muslim lands.

    There's a pattern here of Arab and Muslim electorates fed up with the secular governments that have failed to deliver the goods, both in economic terms and protecting the security of the homeland."

    The irony is that the Bush administration's championing of the Middle East's democratization has allowed the radical Islamists to "flex their political muscle" - from Egypt and Saudi Arabia to Lebanon and Iraq."

    Some historians argue that radical groups' entry into mainstream politics has led them to moderate their stances: The Irish Republican Army or former guerrilla groups in Central America are often cited as examples.

    Others, though, say this moderating process, if undertaken at all, takes time - and does not happen in a vacuum.

    The US, they add, is going to have to decide how to deal with the Palestinians and the Middle East peace process in a period of deep uncertainty for the region.

    Bush reiterated this week that the US will NOT work with Hamas unless it dramatically modifies its behavior and removes from its platform a call for the destruction of the state of Israel.

    At a news conference Thursday, he said a political force like Hamas, one with an armed wing that advocates violence against Israel, "is a party with which we will not deal."

    Soon after the election results became known, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Palestinian President Abbas and, according to Palestinian sources, praised Palestinian democracy and pledged US support for Mr. Abbas and his policies.

    Few analysts expect the Bush administration to make bold moves with so much on the ground in flux.

    Not only are the Palestinians embarking on the hard task of forming a government from outside the president's political circle, but Israel - still digesting the departure of Ariel Sharon from the leadership scene - is heading for elections on March 18.

    The US could simply suspend contact with - and financial assistance to - the Palestinian Authority over the rise of Hamas to the government.

    But "the stakes are too high on the ground to simply walk away," says Haim Malka, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

    The alternative, he says, is for the US to work exclusively with the Office of the President - provided Abbas remains in office.

    Bush "left the window open" for the US to work with Hamas - provided Hamas renounces violence and reverses its stance toward Israel, Mr. Malka notes.

    But that kind of fundamental shift takes time, he says - and events are not apt to wait.

    Some analysts worry that turmoil among Palestinians - and a radical government at the helm - will prompt Israel to shift toward more radical policies itself.

    A unilateral decision to include blocks of West Bank settlements inside its final borders is the kind of action Israel might take in response to Hamas's rise but which would inflame the situation, experts say.

    Certain actions "would virtually rule out ... arriving at a two-state solution, and if that disappears you just have conflict without end," says Mr. Hughes, now a scholar at the Middle East Institute here.

    At Thursday's press conference, Bush said the election is a "wake-up call" to the old guard Palestinian leadership.

    Others say it also blew a whistle in Washington. Malka says:
    "We're seeing that, for now, the only alternative to secular regimes in the Middle East are the Islamists.

    They're the only ones who have legitimacy among the people."


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    US AUDITOR'S REPORT: BILLIONS US$ Misused and Lost in Rebuilding IRAQ

      Read here original article by Tim Reid in Times Online

    AN AUDIT of US reconstruction spending in Iraq has uncovered spectacular misuse of tens of millions of dollars in cash, including:

  • bundles of money stashed in filing cabinets,

  • a US soldier who gambled away thousands and stacks of newly minted notes distributed without receipts.

    The audit, released yesterday by the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, describes a country in the months after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein awash with dollars, and a Wild West atmosphere where even multimillion-dollar contracts were paid for in cash.

    Nearly $9 billion (£5 billion) of Iraq’s oil revenue disbursed by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which governed Iraq until mid-2004, cannot be accounted for.

    The huge sums in cash were paid out with little or NO supervision, and often WITHOUT any paperwork, yesterday’s audit found.

    The US has so far spent $226 billion on the Iraq war.

    The CPA was allocated $38 billion in US and Iraqi funds, and spent $19.7 billion of UN-administered Iraqi oil money. problems with nearly 2,000 contracts worth $88.1 million..

    The report found:

  • A US soldier gambled away more than $40,000 while accompanying the Iraqi Olympic boxing team to the Philippines.

  • “one contracting officer kept approximately $2 million in cash in a safe in his office bathroom”,

  • “ a paying agent kept approximately $678,000 in cash in an unlocked footlocker”.

  • A contract for $662,800 to refurbish the Hilla General Hospital was paid in full by a US official, even though the work was NOT finished. Instead of replacing a central lift, as demanded in the contract, workers only tinkered with the existing mechanism. Three months later the lift crashed, killing three Iraqis.

  • Cash was stolen during insurgent raids but NEVER reported, the audit found.

  • A contractor was paid $108,140 to refurbish completely the Hilla Olympic swimming pool. The contractor simply polished some of the pumps and piping to make it look as if new hardware had been installed. The pool has NEVER reopened.

  • More than 160 vehicles worth about $3.3 million could not be traced because there was NO proper documentation.

  • Another project, a $473,000 contract to install an internet service in Ramadi, was cancelled because officials could not oversee it. But the contractor had ALREADY been paid.

    In all, $12 billion in cash, weighing 363 tonnes, was flown into Iraq.

    On December 12, 2003, one single flight to Iraq contained $1.5 billion in cash, the largest single Federal Reserve payout in US history, according to Henry Waxman, the Democrat congressman who is investigated the funding.


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    Palestinian Election: Democracy Brings HAMAS to Power. Israel Faces Dilemma

      The Islamic militant group Hamas says it has won the Palestinian parliamentary election. The Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator Saeb Erekat admitted that early indications suggested Fatah had lost the election.

    Voter sentiment was the same: It's time to teach the ruling Fatah party a lesson. Fatah, founded by Yasser Arafat and led today by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, is widely viewed as corrupt and incompetent.

    Around a third of all Palestinian voters now support HAMAS, widely viewed among Palestinians as a vehicle for clean and competent government.

    HAMAS has gained popularity among Palestinians not only for its attacks on Israelis during a 5-year uprising but also for its charity network and its corruption-free image. Read here for more

    The election is undoubtedly a huge victory for Palestinian democracy because it has ended the near monopoly of Fatah over political life in Palestinian society for the best part of 50 years.

    Washington and the EU, which have pressured the Palestinians to hold democratic elections, cannot now object to the outcome of the elections without laying themselves open to charges of hypocrisy.

    Moreover, whoever runs the Palestinian Authority has to liaise Israeli officials to deal with issues such as water and power supplies.

    Hamas cannot have it both ways - it cannot be in government and at the same time refuse to deal with Israel.

    The next few days and weeks will show whether Hamas can demonstrate the maturity needed to deal with a uniquely complex political situation. Read here for more

    HAMAS leader Mahmoud Zahar today said he was ready to maintain a ceasefire with Israel forged last February if Israel does likewise, but that the Islamic group will respond to Israeli attacks.

    If they are going to continue commitment to what is called quietness, then we will continue,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press Television News. “But if not, then I think we will have no option, but to protect our people and our land.”

    The impromptu interview took place in the garden of Zahar’s Gaza City home, where he received party officials and other well-wishers who came to congratulate him on the militant Islamic group’s apparent victory in Wednesday’s Palestinian general election. There was no sign of armed guards at the scene.Read here for more

    Israel called on the European Union on Thursday to take a firm stance against the establishment of what it called a "terrorist government" after the Islamic militant group Hamas won a Palestinian election. Read here for more

    The Swiss Foreign Ministry welcomed the smooth running of the elections and in a statement on Thursday evening called on all parties to renounce violence and respect the right of law.

    The ministry described the result as having "groundbreaking meaning" and expressed the hope that the future Palestinian cabinet would pursue policies that accommodated the interests of all Palestinians.

    Palestinian and Israeli groups in Switzerland say the victory of radical Islamic group, Hamas, in the Palestinian elections, was to be expected.

    There was no surprise either on the part of Yves Kugelmann, the editor of Swiss Jewish weekly newspaper Tachles. Although the result was uncomfortable for Israel, the country would have to deal with it, he said:

    "The Israeli side cannot ignore the result.

    The Palestinians have voted in democratic elections and elected HAMAS, and not because it's a terrorist organisation.

    I think observers and the international community must take this result seriously."

    Read here for more

    Israeli Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is now facing a dilemma after a stunning victory ofthe Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in the Palestinian legislative elections, local daily newspaper Ha'aretz said in a analysis on Thursday.

    On one hand, if Olmert shows signs of softening attitude toward Hamas, Olmert and the centrist Kadima party, which was formed by stricken Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in late November and currently under the leadership of Olmert, might have a hard time in continuing to carry out the party's policy on the Palestinians,the analysis was quoted as saying.

    Most likely, ahead of the March 28 general elections, Olmert's political rival conservative Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu would base Likud's campaign on the claim that the Gaza pullout was a reward for Hamas, it added.

    The analysis, meanwhile, noted that "if Olmert threatens to sever ties with the Palestinians, boycott them, further delay funds owed to them or impose any other punishment," he would face increasing international pressure to honor the legitimate and democratic Palestinian election results. Read here for more

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     Friday, January 20, 2006

    HE IS BACK ! Osama bin Laden Offered Truce, Bush said NO

      Read here original article in BBC

    New Yorkers are on edge again today after Osama Bin Laden broke a year's silence to threaten new attacks - and they're furious the Al Qaeda overlord is still on the loose. Read here for more



    Image hosting by Photobucket

    The White House has dismissed a fresh audio message thought to be from Osama Bin Laden, and pledged once again to track down the al-Qaeda leader.

    US Vice President Dick Cheney rejected an apparent offer of a "long-term truce", describing it as a "ploy".

    Arabic TV station al-Jazeera aired the tape, later authenticated by the CIA.

    The message contained threats of new attacks within the US and abroad, but US security officials said they would not raise the national threat level.

    It is the first time Bin Laden has been heard from since December 2004.

    Analysts believe the tape dates from at least 22 November as the speaker refers to reports that President Bush planned to bomb al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar.

    Speaking on the Fox News TV network, Mr Cheney said it was too early to draw firm conclusions about the tape, but added that al-Qaeda was "unlikely" ever to sit down and sign a truce.

    "I think you have to destroy them. It's the only way with them," the vice-president said.

    In the audio message, Bin Laden appeared to suggest that a US withdrawal from Muslim lands could prompt agreement over a truce.

    But the speaker also threatened fresh attacks in the US, as well as a continuation of strikes within Iraq.

    In his message, the man purported to be bin Laden referred to the allegation of a US plan to attack al-Jazeera, calling Mr Bush "the butcher of freedom in the world".

    The speaker on the tape said the reason there had not been an attack in the US since 11 September 2001 was not because of superior US security, but because the group had been engaged in activities in Iraq - and because operations in the US "need preparations".

    "The operations are happening in Baghdad and you will see them here at home the minute they are through (with preparations), with God's permission," he said.

    On Fox News, Mr Cheney said: "Obviously no-one can guarantee that we won't be hit again. But our nation has been protected by more than luck."

    US officials have said they believe Bin Laden is hiding in a mountainous area on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    In a video message broadcast last month, al-Qaeda's number two Ayman al-Zawahiri declared that bin Laden was alive despite a prolonged absence and rumours about ill-health or possible injury.

    The offer of a truce came in light of the fact that US public opinion polls now show growing opposition to the war in Iraq

    We have no objection to responding to this with a long-term truce based on fair conditions," the speaker said.



    "We do not mind offering you a truce that is fair and long-term... so we can build Iraq and Afghanistan... there is no shame in this solution because it prevents wasting of billions of dollars.

    "Your president is misinterpreting public opinion polls which show that the vast majority of you support the withdrawal of your forces from Iraq."
    White House spokesman Scott McClellan quickly dismissed the truce offer saying: "We do not negotiate with terrorists. We put them out of business".

    Bin Laden offered Europe a similar pact following the Madrid train bombings of March 2004.

    Correspondents say it is an attempt to frighten the public and drive a wedge between them and their governments, which say it is necessary to stay to distance in Iraq, not pull out troops.

    The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says that in the US the immediate political effect of the tape will probably be to boost support for President George W Bush.


    Here is the full text of the message, as carried on al-Jazeera's website.





    My message to you is about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the way to end it.

    I had not intended to speak to you about this issue, because, for us, this issue is already decided on: diamonds cut diamonds.

    Praise be to God, our conditions are always improving and becoming better, while your conditions are to the contrary of this.

    However, what prompted me to speak are the repeated fallacies of your President Bush in his comment on the outcome of the US opinion polls, which indicated that the overwhelming majority of you want the withdrawal of the forces from Iraq, but he objected to this desire and said that the withdrawal of troops would send a wrong message to the enemy.

    Bush said: It is better to fight them on their ground than they fighting us on our ground.

    In my response to these fallacies, I say: The war in Iraq is raging, and the operations in Afghanistan are on the rise in our favour, praise be to God.

    The Pentagon figures indicate the rise in the number of your dead and wounded, let alone the huge material losses, and let alone the collapse of the morale of the soldiers there and the increase in the suicide cases among them.

    So, just imagine the state of psychological breakdown that afflicts the soldier while collecting the remnants of his comrades' dead bodies after they hit mines, which torn them. Following such situation, the soldier becomes between two fires. If he refuses to go out of his military barracks for patrols, he will face the penalties of the Vietnam butcher, and if he goes out, he will face the danger of mines.

    So, he is between two bitter situations, something which puts him under psychological pressure - fear, humiliation, and coercion. Moreover, his people are careless about him. So, he has no choice but to commit suicide.

    What you hear about him and his suicide is a strong message to you, which he wrote with his blood and soul while pain and bitterness eat him up so that you would save what you can save from this hell. However, the solution is in your hand if you care about them.

    The news of our brother mujahideen, however, is different from what is published by the Pentagon.

    This news indicates that what is carried by the news media does not exceed what is actually taking place on the ground. What increases doubts on the information of the White House's administration is its targeting of the news media, which carry some facts about the real situation.

    Documents have recently showed that the butcher of freedom in the world [US President Bush] had planned to bomb the head office of al-Jazeera Space Channel in the state of Qatar after he bombed its offices in Kabul and Baghdad, although despite its defects, it is [Al-Jazeera] one of your creations.

    Jihad is continuing, praise be to God, despite all the repressive measures the US army and its agents take to the point where there is no significant difference between these crimes and those of Saddam.

    These crimes include the raping of women and taking them hostage instead of their husbands. There is no power but in God.

    The torturing of men has reached the point of using chemical acids and electric drills in their joints. If they become desperate with them, they put the drill on their heads until death.

    If you like, read the humanitarian reports on the atrocities and crimes in the prisons of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

    I say that despite all the barbaric methods, they have failed to ease resistance, and the number of mujahideen, praise be to God, is increasing.

    In fact, reports indicate that the defeat and devastating failure of the ill-omened plan of the four - Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz - and the announcement of this defeat and working it out, is only a matter of time, which is to some extent linked to the awareness of the American people of the magnitude of this tragedy.

    The wise ones know that Bush has no plan to achieve his alleged victory in Iraq.

    If you compare the small number of the dead when Bush made that false and stupid show-like announcement from an aircraft carrier on the end of the major operations, to many times as much as this number of the killed and injured, who fell in the minor operations, you will know the truth in what I am saying, and that Bush and his administration do not have neither the desire nor the will to withdraw from Iraq for their own dubious reasons.

    To go back to where I started, I say that the results of the poll satisfy sane people and that Bush's objection to them is false.

    Reality testifies that the war against America and its allies has not remained confined to Iraq, as he claims.

    In fact, Iraq has become a point of attraction and recruitment of qualified resources.

    On the other hand, the mujahideen, praise be to God, have managed to breach all the security measures adopted by the unjust nations of the coalition time and again.

    The evidence of this is the bombings you have seen in the capitals of the most important European countries of this aggressive coalition.

    As for the delay in carrying out similar operations in America, this was not due to failure to breach your security measures.

    Operations are under preparation, and you will see them on your own ground once they are finished, God willing.

    Based on the above, we see that Bush's argument is false. However, the argument that he avoided, which is the substance of the results of opinion polls on withdrawing the troops, is that it is better not to fight the Muslims on their land and for them not to fight us on our land.

    We do not object to a long-term truce with you on the basis of fair conditions that we respect.

    We are a nation, for which God has disallowed treachery and lying.

    In this truce, both parties will enjoy security and stability and we will build Iraq and Afghanistan, which were destroyed by the war.

    There is no defect in this solution other than preventing the flow of hundreds of billions to the influential people and war merchants in America, who supported Bush's election campaign with billions of dollars.

    Hence, we can understand the insistence of Bush and his gang to continue the war.

    If you have a genuine will to achieve security and peace, we have already answered you.

    If Bush declines but to continue lying and practicing injustice [against us], it is useful for you to read the book of "The Rogue State", the introduction of which reads: If I were a president, I would halt the operations against the United States.

    First, I will extend my apologies to the widows, orphans, and the persons who were tortured. Afterwards, I will announce that the US interference in the world's countries has ended for ever.

    Finally, I would like to tell you that the war is for you or for us to win. If we win it, it means your defeat and disgrace forever as the wind blows in this direction with God's help.

    If you win it, you should read the history. We are a nation that does not tolerate injustice and seek revenge forever.

    Days and nights will not go by until we take revenge as we did on 11 September, God willing, and until your minds are exhausted and your lives become miserable and things turn [for the worse], which you detest.

    As for us, we do not have anything to lose. The swimmer in the sea does not fear rain. You have occupied our land, defiled our honour, violated our dignity, shed our blood, ransacked our money, demolished our houses, rendered us homeless, and tampered with our security. We will treat you in the same way.

    You tried to deny us the decent life, but you cannot deny us a decent death. Refraining from performing jihad, which is sanctioned by our religion, is an appalling sin. The best way of death for us is under the shadows of swords.

    Do not be deluded by your power and modern weapons. Although they win some battles, they lose the war. Patience and steadfastness are better than them. What is important is the outcome.

    We have been tolerant for 10 years in fighting the Soviet Union with our few weapons and we managed to drain their economy.

    They became history, with God's help.

    You should learn lessons from that. We will remain patient in fighting you, God willing, until the one whose time has come dies first. We will not escape the fight as long as we hold our weapons in our hands.

    I swear not to die but a free man even if I taste the bitterness of death. I fear to be humiliated or betrayed.

    Peace be upon those who follow guidance.


    ----------------

    Commentary by Justin Raimondo on Osama bin Laden's latest Message

    ".... Bin Laden is right: instead of being pinned down in Iraq, the worldwide Islamic insurgency, of which al-Qaeda is the spearhead, has spread far and wide: to Europe, to South Asia, and – he says – has even infiltrated the American homeland. Given the utterly abysmal state of our defenses against another terrorist strike – as evidenced by the recent fulminations of the 9/11 Commission – is there anyone who really doubts OBL is telling the truth about this?

    We had better believe that "operations are in preparation." In the absence of such elementary precautions as inspecting all cargo coming into the U.S., we can't afford to assume this is an idle boast.

    Bin Laden mocks the clueless Bush, who believes that "we're fighting them in Iraq so we don't have to fight them over here," by clearly implying that they are already over here and have been for some time. That ought to send a chill down your spine.

    The "preparations" he talks about may be just about finished: at least, that is how it seems to me. If you examine bin Laden's past pronouncements, and the public statements of al-Qaeda, a clear pattern emerges: there is a warning, followed by an attack – and a claim of responsibility. Bin Laden's public persona is very consistent: he says what he intends to do, then he does it. We have no reason to disbelieve him, or to assume he'll break the pattern this time.

    Another pattern of behavior is that he always offers his enemies a way out: in the past, he has said that a change in U.S. foreign policy would have to mean a corresponding change on his part. His spokesman, Zawahiri, offered the Europeans a truce after the Madrid and London bombings; this was treated with contempt by every Western government and virtually everyone else, yet there is no reason to disbelieve him on this point, either.

    While this may not be enough to spark a "bin Laden for president" boom in the U.S., it confirms what analysts such as Scheuer have long said: that al-Qaeda launched its global insurgency in order to secure certain specific and strictly limited goals, the primary one of which is to rid the Middle East of Western military and political dominance.

    By announcing that the U.S. would henceforth not be interfering in the affairs of other nations, we would effectively bring the insurgency to an end – and the threat of terrorism against the U.S. homeland would cease. This bin Laden pledges, on his word as a Muslim. It would be foolish to believe he doesn't take such a vow seriously, or utter it in all sincerity – just as it would be equally foolish to disdain his threats as baseless boasting.

    Of course, according to the demonological view of bin Laden, which depicts him as an irrational monster entirely without any strategic sense – or even any genuinely religious conviction – he is not capable of sincerity.

    The offer of a truce had barely been uttered before it was rejected by the U.S. government, which announced that it doesn't "negotiate with terrorists." We negotiated with Stalin, with Hitler, with despots of every size, shape, and hue – and yet to do so with bin Laden, even if indirectly, is impermissible.

    However, bin Laden is not asking to negotiate: what he wants is a change – a turnabout – in U.S. policy in the Middle East. This, in his view, is not negotiable: it is the whole rationale behind his jihad. The jihad will end, he says, if and when Americans realize. READ HERE FOR MORE

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