Tag Archives: seymour hersh

on meddling and hypocrisy in iran

i’ve been reading the selected writings of eqbal ahmad this week. there are some excellent, insightful essays about palestinian politics and resistance strategies in this volume, which are especially interesting given ahmad’s history–as someone who lived in algeria and tunisia during the algerian revolution that kicked out the french colonists and although he was born in bihar, india his family had to move lahore after the 1947 partition of india and his family was split by the new border. so he has a particularly interesting take on things. but he also has an essay entitled “iran’s landmark revolution: fifteen years later.” the essay was published in 1994 and given the situation in iran right now and all the comparisons i see people making between the current situation in iran and previous events in iranian history i find the essay a useful read. ahmad starts by reminding us that it was “the first fully televised revolution in history” (81). He opens the essay by comparing the french and iranian revolutions in the sense that both marked a new era regionally. he says:

…the Iranian was like the French a unique and perhaps seminal revolution for the postcolonial era as the French had been for the industrial age. The uprising that began in January 1978 and ended successfully on February 11, 1979, was the first major break in the postcolonial world from the revolutionary model of protracted armed struggle experienced in China, Algeria, Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau. Iran’s, by contrast, was a mass insurrection, by far the most popular, broad-based, and sustained agitation in recent history. During a single year–1978–some thirty thousand protestors were killed in Iran while its economic institutions and public services were intermittently shut down. The movement was quite unparalleled for its militant but nonviolent character and for its discipline and morale in the face of governmental violence. As such, it deserves to be studied for its lessons in mass mobilization and agitational politics.

The Iranian Revolution pointed toward a shift in the focus of revolutionary struggle in the so-called Third World from the rural to the urban sector. Until 1978, almost all Third World revolution had been primarily peasant revolutions, centered in rural areas and involving guerrilla warfare. Even in those countries (e.g., Algeria and Cuba) where support of the urban population held great importance in revolutionary strategy, the rural population was from the outset viewed as being central to the revolutionaries’ success.

The Iranian Revolution represented the first significant departure from this pattern. It was predominantly urban in composition and entirely so in its origin and initiation. Its cadres came from the middle, low middle, and working classes. Its following was swelled by the lumpenproletariat, mostly rural migrants driven to the cities by the shah’s “modernization” of agriculture. The capital-intensive commercial farm strategy of economic development which the shah initiated in the 1960s–and which Ms. Bhutto’s “agricultural task force” has now recommended for Pakistan–led to rapid urbanization, cultural dislocation, and grossly augmented and visible inequality. These conditions created the mass base for the uprising, and increasingly they are appearing in other Third World countries, especially in those which are seeking links with the commercial market as uncritically as they once sought to imitate socialism.

Iran yielded a textbook example of the general strike as a primary weapon in revolutionary seizure of power. The strike, which lasted nearly six months in Iran, was one of the longest and by far the most effective in history. The turning point in the struggle against the shah came during September and October 1978, when the oil workers in Abadan and Ahvaz proved the weapon of the general strike to be powerful beyond the dreams of the nineteenth-century Marxists and syndicalists, who had viewed it as the lynchpin of revolutionary strategy. Subsequently, events in South Korea, South Africa, Nicaragua, and Brazil, among others, suggested that what we witnessed in Iran was a trend….

The fall of the shah revealed that, in the Third World, deployment of advanced weapons promotes internal contradictions and subjects the state apparatus to unbearable strains. When confronted by a sustained popular uprising, Iran’s 450,000 strong, superequipped military establishment disintegrated. Significantly, the noncommissioned officers and technicians, whose numbers had swelled since 1972 as a result of large infusions of sophisticated arms, were the first to defect en masse; their defection proved crucial in the disintegration of Iran’s armed forces. The military’s open and mass defections, which began in December 1978, were spearheaded by technicians and cadets of the air force and armoured divisions. They sealed the Pahlavis’ fate.

Herein lies an extraordinary irony. In terms of intensity, scope, and the social forces which were involved in it, the Iranian was by far the most modern and objectively advanced revolution in the Third World. Yet revolutionary power in Iran was seized by a clerical leadership of theocratic outlook, medieval culture, and millenarian style. Most scholars have attributed this remarkable phenomenon to the shah’s repression (only in the mosque one found the freedom of association and speech…) and to Iran’s Shia traditions (of martyrdom and clerical power). (81-84)

the events of 1979 is, of course, one of the flashpoints being used as a point of comparison right now. so is the 1953 american coup which led to the overthrow of mohammed mossadgh, and the installment of the shah as the american puppet in iran, which of course led to the 1979 events that ahmad discusses above. here is chris hedges reminding of the american coup in 1953:

Iranians do not need or want us to teach them about liberty and representative government. They have long embodied this struggle. It is we who need to be taught. It was Washington that orchestrated the 1953 coup to topple Iran’s democratically elected government, the first in the Middle East, and install the compliant shah in power. It was Washington that forced Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, a man who cared as much for his country as he did for the rule of law and democracy, to spend the rest of his life under house arrest. We gave to the Iranian people the corrupt regime of the shah and his savage secret police and the primitive clerics that rose out of the swamp of the dictator’s Iran. Iranians know they once had a democracy until we took it away.

Picture 1

in all of the news going on in iran i have been thinking about one of the most insightful statements i read on as’ad abukhalil’s blog early on in relation to a statement barack obama made:

You need to read Obama’s statements on Iran carefully. There is one particular statement in which he said that the US (for historical reasons) can’t “appear to be meddling”. The statement does not say that the US is not meddling, but that it does not want to appear to be meddling. Similarly, the US in 1953 meddled but it did not appear to be meddling.

here is obama’s original quote from the los angeles times by paul richter:

“It’s not productive, given the history of the U.S.-Iranian relationship, to be seen as meddling,” Obama said Tuesday.

the image above is a screenshot i took of the white house website. if you click on the link you can watch a video of obama’s press conference and read a transcript in english, farsi, and arabic. if obama did not want to seem to be meddling last week, this week he is blatantly meddling. what i find most hypocritical about his remarks are on the subject of justice:

The Iranian people can speak for themselves. That’s precisely what’s happened in the last few days. In 2009, no iron fist is strong enough to shut off the world from bearing witness to peaceful protests [sic] of justice. Despite the Iranian government’s efforts to expel journalists and isolate itself, powerful images and poignant words have made their way to us through cell phones and computers, and so we’ve watched what the Iranian people are doing.

This is what we’ve witnessed. We’ve seen the timeless dignity of tens of thousands of Iranians marching in silence. We’ve seen people of all ages risk everything to insist that their votes are counted and that their voices are heard. Above all, we’ve seen courageous women stand up to the brutality and threats, and we’ve experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets. While this loss is raw and extraordinarily painful, we also know this: Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.

part of what has been unnerving about the situation in iran is the zionist entity’s press over the protests. they seem to be foaming at the mouth over the post-election protests. indeed, the majority of the articles in ha’aretz and ynet have been on iran, which is unusual. there have also been many rumors spread on the internet which are difficult to verify at this point with respect to zionists meddling in iran. in the guardian rory mccarthy, martin chulov, hugh macleod, and ian black report precisely why the zionist entity is up in arms about the protests:

In private, Israeli officials appeared to be hoping for an ­Ahmadinejad victory even before the polls opened, despite his vitriolic ­criticism of Israel, his denial of the ­Holocaust and his apparent eagerness for a nuclear weapons programme.

but there does appear to be evidence of the united states meddling in iran as jeremy scahill reported today:

As violence continues on the streets of Tehran, RebelReports has learned that former US National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft has confirmed that the US government has spies on the ground in Iran. Scowcroft made the assertion in an interview to be broadcast on the Al Jazeera program “Fault Lines.” When asked by journalist Avi Lewis if the US has “intelligence operatives on the ground in Iran,” Scowcroft replied, “Of course we do.”

While it is hardly surprising that the US has its operatives in Iran, it is unusual to see a figure in a position to know state this on the record. New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh and Former Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter both have claimed for years that the US has regularly engaged in covert operations inside of Iran aimed at destabilizing the government. In July 2008, Hersh reported, “the scale and the scope of the operations in Iran, which involve the Central Intelligence Agency and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have now been significantly expanded.”

In the Al Jazeera interview, Scowcroft defended President Obama’s position on Iran, which has been roundly criticized by Republicans as weak and ineffective with some characterizing Obama as a “de facto ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.”

Scowcroft tells Al Jazeera: “We don’t control Iran. We don’t control the government obviously. There is little we can do to change the situation domestically in Iran right now and I think an attempt to change it is more likely to be turned against us and against the people who are demonstrating for more freedom and, therefore, I think we need to look at what we can do best, which is to try to influence Iranian behavior in the region, and with nuclear weapons.”

the video footage of the interview can be seen here (though it is josh rushing and not avi lewis doing the interview as scahill claimed):

and why exactly might the u.s. be meddling? to what end? here is abukhalil’s “abcs of iranian developments”:

Let me explain the ABC of Iranian developments to you. Rafsanjani (the wealthiest and most corrupt man in Iran) represents reform, and Moussavi (who led one of the most repressive eras in the Iranian revolutionary era and who sponsored Hizbullah in its most horrific phases) represents democracy. Did you get that? Write that down NOW.

but it is not just the meddling that is disturbing. it is also the hypocrisy. obama goes off about people fighting for justice being on the right side of history. the palestinians have been doing this for over 61 years and yet where is obama when it comes to speaking about their rights and justice here? abukhalil’s takes this a step further with some important observations:

The hypocrite in speech is invoking an argument that he himself so blatantly ignores and will continue to ignore to the last day of his presidency. Does he really believe in that right for peoples? Yes, but only in countries where governments are not clients of the US. Will he invoke that argument, say, in Saudi Arabia or Egypt or Morocco or Tunisia or Libya or Jordan or Oman, etc? Of course not. This is only an attempt to justify US imperial policies. And even in Iran, the Empire is nervous because it can’t predict the outcome. But make no mistake about it: his earlier statement to the effect that the US can’t for historical reasons “appear to be meddling” sets the difference between the Bush and the Obama administration. The Bush administration meddled blatantly and crudely and visibly, while the Obama administration meddles more discreetly and not-so-visibly. Tens of thousands of pens equipped with cameras have been smuggled into Iran: I only wish that the American regime would dare to smuggle them into Saudi Arabia so that the entire world can watch the ritual of public executions around the country.

my friend matthew cassel also commented on the western media coverage of the protests in iran in electronic intifada today as compared to other parts of the world this week–namely georgia and peru–as well as to palestine to unveil this american hypocrisy:

However, Iran is different than both Georgia and Peru. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has probably overtaken Osama Bin Laden as the most hated individual in the US. Over the past several years, many officials in Washington have called for more aggressive actions to be taken against Iran. More recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave US President Barack Obama an ultimatum that the US president better take care of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, or else Israel would. It’s no coincidence then that the protests in Iran are receiving around-the-clock media coverage and are also one of the only examples in recent years where US government officials have showed support for demonstrators like Obama did when he called on Iran to “stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people.” They are certainly not the only protests that have been met with violent government repression.

For years, Palestinians have organized weekly nonviolent demonstrations against Israel’s wall in the West Bank. Each week protestors face the heavily-armed Israeli military and are beaten and shot at with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear-gas canisters, sometimes fatally. Yet, during his recent speech in Cairo to the Muslim world, Obama made no reference to these protests and instead called on Palestinians to “abandon violence” and adopt nonviolent means. Days after the speech a Palestinian was killed and a teenager wounded during the weekly protest, yet there has been no call by the US administration for Israel to “stop all violent and unjust actions” against the Palestinian people. And the media has followed and remained silent, even though covering the demonstrations would be as easy as a 30-minute drive from most Jerusalem-based news bureaus on any given Friday.

and here is another important moment of hypocrisy that abukhalil pointed out on his blog:

“(Editors’ note: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.)” Did Reuters use that disclaimer when reporting on the Israeli massacres in Gaza?

i do not claim to be an expert on iran. but post-1979 revolution i found my home town of los angeles suddenly populated with iranians. these iranians, many of whom i went to school with and some of whom i was friends with, were decidedly pro-shah. this community gave me a very distorted view of iran growing up. but as i got older and met other iranians in the u.s., and the later around the world, and then began reading more i started to understand more. in the u.s. i hear about media reports on the mainstream news that feature the shah’s family members as abukhalil noted:

The media coverage went from crazy to insane this week. Now, they are–KID YOU NOT–reporting on the reactions of the Shah’s family. Some of them at CNN in fact think that the Iranian people are demonstrating to restore the Shah’s son to power. I heard that the Shah’s widow–taking time from enjoying the wealth of the Iranian people which was embezzled with full American cooperation and complicity–was tearing up on national TV. The plight of the Shah’s family will be similar to that of the descendants of the Iraqi Hashemites after the overthrow of Saddam. The royal dude went back to London when he discovered–against Amerian neo-con assurances–that he has no chance on earth.

aside from this american media distortion machine there are a number of bloggers and scholars speaking about iran from a variety of perspectives. there are some good tweeters out there who are reporting responsibly, but the fact that new media is one of the vehicles for getting information out about iran means that there is all sorts of noise one must filter out. maximillian forte has a great long post on the use of twitter that is worth reading. forte offers some important analysis including on the subject of tweeters from the zionist entity:

It may be wrong to single out Americans here, since there is every likelihood, given the current geopolitical context, that Israeli Twitter users (among the heaviest Twitter users one can find) have a vested interest in manipulating the discussion to serve the ends of the Israeli state, as do many Americans. One thing to do is to try to foment a division between Iran and Hezbollah, thus one posted: “large number of armed forces are lebanese/arab hired to beat down the brave iranians” — completely without substance. Another Twitter user I spoke to chose to quote the Talmud to the Iranian protesters. Interestingly, the Jerusalem Post was immediately “aware” of three “Iranian” bloggers (who post only in English), almost as soon as they joined, claiming without support that their Twitter feeds were from Iran (see here and here).

That the U.S. government has an active interest in the unfolding of the “Twitter revolution” for Iran, is an established fact. The U.S. State Department intervened to ask Twitter to delay a scheduled maintenance break so as to not interrupt tweets about Iran — “Ian Kelly, a state department spokesman, told reporters at a briefing that he had recognized over the weekend the importance of social media ‘as a vital tool for citizens’ empowerment and as a way for people to get their messages out’. He said: ‘It was very clear to me that these kinds of social media played a very important role in democracy – spreading the word about what was going on’” (see “US urges Twitter to delay service break,” by Chris Nuttall and Daniel Dombey, Financial Times, 17 June 2009, and “U.S. State Department speaks to Twitter over Iran,” Reuters, 16 June 2009). What the U.S. State Department is also doing, of course, is reinforcing the unproven claim that this is important to Iran, while careful not to specify whose citizens are being empowered, whose word is being spread, and “out” from where. At the same time, the Obama regime claims that it is not meddling in Iranian affairs.

forte also has a really important blog entry on the necessity of sharing accurate sources when using social media that i think is necessary reading for anyone active on the internet in general, not only in relation to iran. blogger mo-ha-med has a different take on the subject of sourcing that is equally important and interesting in the current climate.

scahill has been particularly annoyed by the discourse of the so-called “twitter revolution” that even al jazeera has used. here is his entertaining rant on the subject:

I’m really sick of people in the US talking about the “twitter revolution” in Iran. I especially hate when it’s US liberals who would NEVER get off their asses and away from their computers to protest anything in their own country. They’d never face down tear gas or baton-wielding thugs at home. Some of these liberals (you know who you are) were poo-pooing activists protesting at the Republican and Democratic Conventions and scorn activism in general. This whole commentary about the “twitter revolution” when it comes from these lizards is narcissistic crap.

but even more importantly, i love scahill’s short post on this phenomenon i’ve seen on facebook and twitter with people turning their avatar green to support iran:

Seeing some of these people online turning their profile pictures green “for Iran” makes me want to create a Facebook and Twitter application that turns profile pictures blood red, in solidarity with all of the Afghans and Iraqis and Pakistanis being killed by US wars today; wars that people in the US failed to stop and whose representatives continue to fund to the tune of $100s of billions.

the is the essential thing about bloggers: they point out the points that most journalists cannot or will not point out–the hypocrisies, the context (of course scahill is an exception to the rule). m. monalisa gharavi’s blog south/south has had a number of important observations and posts on post-election iran, including with the help of journalist alireza doostdar, a full breakdown of the iranian elections by the numbers. on the protests gharavi has this to say:

It is becoming clear that the events in Iran are no longer about actual behind-the-scenes political machinations but about manifestations of built-up (and real) public grievance and emotion, a Carnival in the best and most political use of that word. When I use the word ‘Carnival’ I am not talking about the naked, topless women in the Sambodramo, but about the Portuguese verb ‘desabafar’ for the venting of political anger about social and economic grievances that people exercise in sequins and costumes for three days a year. It is an affirmation, not a dismissal, of grievances.

On a personal angle, that the perception of fraud has become much more important than the actual existence of fraud has revealed some major complexities about solidarity. Now as ever I’m with the people of Iran: not only with cousins, friends, and fellow Tehranis facing enormous consequences to their protests and arrests, but also the people who voted for the incumbent, people who cannot butter their bread and face even graver livelihood injustices in other regions of Iran.

How could anyone dismiss the protests, especially in the past few days when there have been deaths? Who is not revolted by riot cops? (The majority of the violence against unarmed protesters–and many of them women, who are leading so many of the protests–are by the armed and plain-clothes Basiji militiamen.) The right of assembly got suspended (and again, the dance: reinstated) many times and in reactive and preventative fashion. I am extremely glad people are openly disobeying permit orders: they should be disobeyed anywhere in the world where they are illegitimate.

But in the U.S. almost every protest large and small requires a permit, and in my own participation at anti-capitalist demos like the World Economic Forum in New York or the FTAA meeting in Miami, military riot gear/tear gas/tanks/undercover officers were unleashed on ‘permitted’ protests to zero accountability. The Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, where I shot video for Steve Stasso’s film Situation Room #2, saw almost 2000 people arrested, beaten, and jailed (the highest number at a political convention to date) with the near-total silence of the favorite ‘non-governmental’ liberal newspaper, the New York Times.

on the monthly review zine website there is another interesting take on the protests by arshin adib-moghaddam which picks up where the ahmad bit i quoted at the beginning of this post left off:

Iran’s civil society is fighting; it is giving blood for a just cause. It is displaying its power, the power of the people. Today, Iran must be considered one of the most vibrant democracies in the world because it is the people who are speaking. The role of the supporters of the status quo has been reduced to reaction, which is why they are lashing out violently at those who question their legitimacy.

In all of this, the current civil unrest in Iran is historic, not only because it has already elicited compromises by the state, but also because it provides yet more evidence of the way societies can empower themselves against all odds. These brave men and women on the streets of Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, and other cities are moved by the same utopia that inspired their fathers and mothers three decades ago: the utopia of justice. They believe that change is possible, that protest is not futile. Confronting the arrogance of the establishment has been one of the main ideological planks of the Islamic revolution in 1979. It is now coming back to haunt those who have invented such slogans without necessarily adhering to them in the first place.

And yet the current situation in Iran is profoundly different from the situation in 1978 and 1979. First, the Islamic Republic has proven to be rather responsive to societal demands and rather flexible ideologically. I don’t mean to argue that the Iranian state is entirely reflective of the will of the people. I am saying that is it is not a totalitarian monolith that is pitted against a politically unified society. The fissures of Iranian politics run through all levers of power in the country, which is why the whole situation appears scattered to us. Whereas in 1979 the bad guy (the Shah) was easily identifiable to all revolutionaries, in today’s Iran such immediate identification is not entirely possible. Who is the villain in the unfolding drama? Ahmadinejad? Those who demonstrated in support of him would beg to differ. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei? I would argue that he commands even stronger loyalties within the country and beyond. The Revolutionary Guard or the Basij? Mohsen Rezai, one of the presidential candidates and an opponent of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is contesting the election results, used to be the head of the former institution.

The picture becomes even more complicated when we take into consideration that some institutions of the state such as the parliament — via its speaker, Ali Larijani — have called for a thorough investigation of the violence perpetrated by members of the Basij and the police forces in a raid of student dormitories of Tehran University earlier this week. “What does it mean that in the middle of the night students are attacked in their dormitory?” Larijani asked. The fact that he said that “the interior ministry . . . should answer for it” and that he stated that the “parliament is seriously following the issue” indicate that the good-vs-bad verdict in today’s Iran is more blurred than in 1979.

There is a second major difference to 1979. Today, the opposition to Ahmadinejad is fighting the establishment with the establishment. Mir Hossein Mousavi himself was the prime minister of Iran during the first decade of the revolution, during a period when the current supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, was president. Mohammad Khatami, one of the main supporters of Mousavi, was president between 1997 and 2005. Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, another political ally, is the head of the Assembly of Experts and another former president. They are the engineers of the Islamic revolution and would never devour their project. When some commentators say that what we are witnessing is a revolution they are at best naive and at worst following their own destructive agenda. The dispute is about the future path of the Islamic Republic and the meaning of the revolution — not about overthrowing the whole system. It is a game of politics and the people who are putting their lives at risk seem to be aware of that. They are aware, in other words, that they are the most important force in the hands of those who want to gain or retain power.

Thus far the Iranian establishment has shown itself to be cunningly adaptable to crisis situations. Those who have staged a revolution know how to sustain themselves. And this is exactly what is happening in Iran. The state is rescuing its political power through a mixture of incentives and pressure, compromise and detention, due process and systematic violence. Moreover, when push comes to shove, the oppositional leaders around Mousavi would never question the system they have built up. As Mousavi himself said in his fifth and most recent letter to the Iranian people: “We are not against our sacred regime and its legal structures; this structure guards our independence, freedom, and Islamic Republic.”

and an iranian reader of abukhalil’s blog had this to say about the reactions to the elections early on, which is also revealing on a number of levels:

Alexander sent me this (I cite with his permission): “As an Iranian and avid reader of your blog, I wanted to share my thoughts on your “Iranian developments” post with you. First of all, your point about Western coverage of Iranian democracy vis-a-vis other countries in the region is spot-on. I think you are right to criticize the impact of Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric on Palestine, and I would like to explain a little about that. In the past, Palestinian liberation was a cause championed by the Iranian secular left, but nowadays it is strongly associated with the religious right. This is not due only to Ahmadinejad (every Iranian leader since Khomeini has expressed the idea that Palestine is a “Muslim issue” that Iranians should be concerned about) but it has gotten worse under Ahmadinejad. It’s not just the statements he makes in international settings, but more importantly the way the issue is used domestically in order to distract people from their own issues. People are told not to protest economic stagnation, repressive government, etc. because they shouldn’t complain when Palestinians have it so much worse. “Pray for Gaza” is shoved down their throats in the same breath as “fix your hijab.” In addition, many people resent the fact that the Iranian state spends so much money on Palestinian and Lebanese affairs when there is such poverty and underdevelopment at home. Incidentally, one of the popular (and hyperbolic) chants at the protests that are going on right now is “mardom chera neshastin, Iran shode Felestin!” (People, why are you sitting down? Iran has become Palestine!”).

Finally, I am glad that you are defending neither Ahmadinejad nor Mousavi. It is frustrating that everyone I talk to from Pakistan to Egypt loves Ahmadinejad and is shocked to hear that many Iranians think he is ineffective and embarrassing. Meanwhile every Westerner seems to think that Mousavi is a great reformist or revolutionary, and some kind of saintly figure beloved by all. He’s an opportunist crook. That being said, I support the students and protesters in Iran, even the ones chanting Mousavi’s name. I believe they are putting their lives on the line to fight for greater freedom, accountability, and democracy within the Islamic Republic, and they have to couch that in the language of Islam and presidential politics in order to avoid even greater repression than that which they already face. A friend who is in Iran right now confirms: “half the kids throwing rocks at the police didn’t even vote.” To me, that means that they are not fighting for a Mousavi presidency, but for more freedom, which they must hide under a green Mousavi banner in order to have legitimacy in the eyes of the state.”

on democracy now! today amy goodman spoke with professor hamid dabashi about his take on the situation in iran, which he frames in a civil rights context:

It’s based on my reading of what I believe is happening in Iran. This, in my judgment, is a post-ideological generation. My generation was divided into third world socialists, anti-colonial nationalists and militant Islamists. These are the three dominant ideologies with which we grew up. But if you look at the composition of Iranian society today, 70 percent of it is under the age of thirty—namely, born after the Islamic Revolution. They no longer are divided along those ideological lines.

And if you read their newspapers, if you watch their movies, if you listen to the lyrics of their underground music, to their contemporary arts, etc., which we have been doing over the past thirty years, this, to me, is a civil rights movement. They are operating within the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. They don’t want to topple the regime. If you look—come outside, from the right of the right, in the US Senate to the left, is waiting for yet another revolution to happen. I don’t think this is another revolution. This is a civil rights movement. They’re demanding their civil rights that are being denied, even within the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. From their chants that they are doing in the streets to their newspapers, to their magazines, to their websites, to their Facebook, to their Twitters, everywhere that you look, this is a demand for civil liberties and not—

There are, of course, underlying economic factors, statistically. The unemployment in the age cohort of fifteen to twenty-nine is 70 percent. So this is not a class warfare. In other words, people that we see in the streets, 70 percent of them, that a majority of them are young—70 percent of them do not even have a job. They can’t even rent a room, let alone marry, let alone have a family. So the assumption that this is a upper-middle-class or middle-class, bourgeois, Gucci revolutionaries on the side of Mousavi and poor on the side of Ahmadinejad is completely false.

finally one of the most brilliant posts i’ve seen online over the last week or so comes from mo-ha-med’s blog in which he responds directly to meddlers who become “experts” overnight and begin to write about iran entitled “to you, the new iran expert”:

Yes, you.

Who, until this morning, thought that ‘Shiraz’ was just the name of a wine

Who’s beaming with pride you can now write ‘Ahmadinejad’ without copy-and-pasting it from a news website

Who only heard of Evin prison when Roxana Saberi was there (Roxana who?)

Who changed your Facebook profile picture to a green rectangle saying “Where’s my vote?” even though you don’t actually vote in Iran

Who actually thinks that Mir-Hossein Mousavi is a secular
And that his election means that Iran will give up its nuclear claims
And allow you to visit Tehran for Christmas

Who joyfully makes Azadi/Tiananmen square comparisons
Who first heard of Azadi square last Sunday

Who’s quick to link to articles you haven’t read, debunking other articles you’ve barely heard of

Who has just discovered that Iran has a (quasi-)democracy, and elections, and the like

Who blinked in disbelief at the images of women – oh, they have women! and they’re not in burkas! – demonstrating

Who has never heard of Rezai or Karroubi before (hint: they ran for election in a Middle-Eastern country last Friday)

Who staunchly believes that the elections have been stolen – either by ballot box stuffing, (14 million of them!) or by burning some ballots, or both (somehow?), regardless of the absence of any proof (yet)

… But who nevertheless

Has been tweeting, and re-tweeting, and polluting cyberspace with what is essentially hearsay, rumours, and unconfirmed truncated reports or falsification coming from people who actually know about the realities of Iran’s political world and have an agenda:

You know nothing. Abso-fucking-lutely nothing about what happened, or is happening across Iran at the very moment. Most of us don’t, actually. What we see is a tiny slice of reality, mind you, what is happening on the main squares in the big cities, under camera lenses.

I hear your objection though:

Yes, you are entitled to an opinion, to formulating it, to blog it, and to discuss it. I do that too. (this my blog after all).

But do everyone, and you first and foremost, a favour.
Learn from the people who know a thing or two about the issue at hand.
Be selective about you read, listen to, and watch. A simple way is to follow an Iranian friend’s updates and the links they put up.

(Even the State Dept is reading tweets from Iranians.)

Ask questions more than you volunteer answers.

And when you get a tweet that says UNCONF or ‘can anyone confirm?’, for Pete’s sake, that says “This is potentially bullshit”. Don’t spread nonsense. Don’t spread unconfirmed or unsourced information.

And rather that getting all excited following live some current events taking place in a country you probably cannot place on a map, read analysis of what it means, what the candidates actually stand for, and what the result will mean for the Iranians and the world.

Then, I would be delighted, truly, to read what you have to say.
Until then, please, pretty please – SHUT UP.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-

As for what I think? I don’t know. I think the results could be fake – and they also could be real. We probably will never know.

And I don’t think we’re watching a Ukraine ’04 redux or a ‘Green revolution’.
And I think that the people on the street will tire of getting beaten up by a government that is currently revoking foreign media licenses and will forfeit. We’re – well, Iran is – likely stuck with Ahmadinejad for four more years.

And while the troubles on the street are unlikely to lead to a change of government, they’d have had the benefit of showing the Iranian people in a new light – they’re normal people, only with more courage than most of us have.

don’t ask, don’t tell: aka the zionist entity’s nuclear arsenal

mr. fish

mr. fish

this week in ha’aretz there was an article in response to the obama administration’s nuclear non-proliferation treaty. read carefully in the quoted paragraphs below to see how they couch their language so as not to admit that the zionist entity has a nuclear arsenal, though the world knows they do (also click on the link for the rest of the article to see how they are shaking in their boots over the hypocrisy that the u.s. and europe pressure iran, but not the zionist entity):

It is unclear whether the U.S. assistant secretary of state’s call to Israel to sign on to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty indicates a change in Washington’s policy toward Israel’s nuclear program, or even if the move was anticipated by the White House.

It is clear, however, that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The U.S. has been protecting Israel for years, creating a diplomatic umbrella and pushing away any attempt, in any international debate, to discuss the nuclear weapons the entire world believes Israel possesses.

in yet another article in ha’aretz you can see some of this concern over a fear of pressure that may be exerted on the zionist entity over its nuclear weapons:

On the practical level, Washington recognizes the unique positions that Israel, India and Pakistan are all in, all of them important American allies. U.S. politics also plays an influential role – Democratic lawmakers tend to emphasize international diplomacy and the importance of nuclear monitoring, while Republicans are broadly less likely to do so.

Israel’s nuclear policy – its infamous “ambiguity” – is based on an unwritten 1969 agreement between then-prime minister Golda Meir and American president Richard Nixon, according to which, experts believe, Israel maintains nuclear ambiguity and does not conduct nuclear tests, and the U.S. refrains from pressuring it to sign the NPT.

But in 2009, the problem is more complex. As far as the Americans will progress in talks with Iran, demands will almost certainly arise for a full denuclearization of the region. In other words: “Dimona for Natanz.”

apparently, one of the changes the zionist entity is afraid of is first and foremost the admission, by the obama administration, that they in fact have nuclear weapons as saed bannoura reported:

An Obama administration official has provoked the anger of the Israeli government by implying that Israel has nuclear weapons.

While the US has never admitted that its ally Israel has nuclear weapons, the last Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted last year to the existence of the arsenal.

Anti-nuclear whistle blower Mordechai Vanunu spent eighteen years in Israeli prison for exposing the Israeli nuclear program with photos and testimony.

As a condition for his release he was denied the right to speak to foreigners and reporters.

But the U.S. and Israel have both continued to maintain a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ stance toward Israel’s nuclear arsenal of approximately thirty warheads.

Now, assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller may be breaking that taboo. She gave a speech in New York listing the countries that must adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea. By including Israel in that list, she broke a thirty year silence by U.S. officials on the existence of an Israeli nuclear arsenal.

mordechai vanunu's photograph a nuclear weapon of the zionist entity

mordechai vanunu's photograph a nuclear weapon of the zionist entity

of course, seymour hersh’s important book, the samson option: israel, america and the bomb, (1991) detailed the facts about the zionist entity’s nuclear weapons. and much of what we know about this comes from mordechai vanunu’s work to expose their arsenal after having worked there for many years (and, of course, he was imprisoned by the zionists for this). john steinbach’s historicizes the criminal origin of their nuclear weapons for the center for research on globalization:

The Israeli nuclear program began in the late 1940s under the direction of Ernst David Bergmann, “the father of the Israeli bomb,” who in 1952 established the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission. It was France, however, which provided the bulk of early nuclear assistance to Israel culminating in construction of Dimona, a heavy water moderated, natural uranium reactor and plutonium reprocessing factory situated near Bersheeba in the Negev Desert. Israel had been an active participant in the French Nuclear weapons program from its inception, providing critical technical expertise, and the Israeli nuclear program can be seen as an extension of this earlier collaboration. Dimona went on line in 1964 and plutonium reprocessing began shortly thereafter. Despite various Israeli claims that Dimona was “a manganese plant, or a textile factory,” the extreme security measures employed told a far different story. In 1967, Israel shot down one of their own Mirage fighters that approached too close to Dimona and in 1973 shot down a Lybian civilian airliner which strayed off course, killing 104. There is substantial credible speculation that Israel may have exploded at least one, and perhaps several, nuclear devices in the mid 1960s in the Negev near the Israeli-Egyptian border, and that it participated actively in French nuclear tests in Algeria. By the time of the “Yom Kippur War” in 1973, Israel possessed an arsenal of perhaps several dozen deliverable atomic bombs and went on full nuclear alert.

Possessing advanced nuclear technology and “world class” nuclear scientists, Israel was confronted early with a major problem- how to obtain the necessary uranium. Israel’s own uranium source was the phosphate deposits in the Negev, totally inadequate to meet the need of a rapidly expanding program. The short term answer was to mount commando raids in France and Britain to successfully hijack uranium shipments and, in1968, to collaborate with West Germany in diverting 200 tons of yellowcake (uranium oxide). These clandestine acquisitions of uranium for Dimona were subsequently covered up by the various countries involved. There was also an allegation that a U.S. corporation called Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) diverted hundreds of pounds of enriched uranium to Israel from the mid-50s to the mid-60s.

Despite an FBI and CIA investigation, and Congressional hearings, no one was ever prosecuted, although most other investigators believed the diversion had occurred. In the late 1960s, Israel solved the uranium problem by developing close ties with South Africa in a quid pro quo arrangement whereby Israel supplied the technology and expertise for the “Apartheid Bomb,” while South Africa provided the uranium.

helena cobban, writing for ips, addressed the implications of making the zionist entity’s nuclear weapons program transparent:

Now, it looks as if Washington may be preparing to join this movement toward stressing Israeli transparency and accountability. This would take the Obama administration back to the stance adopted by Pres. John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s. Just a few years later, however, in 1969, Pres. Richard Nixon signed off on a policy that Israeli nuclear policy expert Avner Cohen has described as one of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Back in the Cold War, there were many – including key Nixon adviser Henry Kissinger – who argued that colluding with Israel’s nuclear opacity was in the U.S. interest since, if Israel came out openly as a nuclear power, that could spark Soviet arms sales to pro-Moscow allies in the region and raise tensions in the region.

After the Cold War ended, many in the U.S. strategic-affairs community favoured continuing the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” They argued that Israel acted as an extension of U.S. power in the Middle East, so its capabilities should be supported, or that the U.S. was so powerful globally that it had no need to put pressure on or embarrass its Israeli ally.

Both those arguments were based on the judgment that U.S. interests always coincide with those of Israel. Now, as Obama and his top aides have started to hint, that judgment may be starting to change.

but just because these words sound different, don’t expect a new policy for real. because the u.s. is just as hypocritical as the zionist entity when it comes to its nuclear arsenal. and neither both will continue to build their nuclear weapons programs. both will continue to use them as a threat whether they are secret or public. and both will allow their allies to have nuclear weapons and they will both continue to threaten or bomb countries trying to develop their own as a way to defend themselves from these colonial or imperial powers.

update: jasmin ramsey at pulse media just published a post on this subject, which i strongly recommend!

on why there is no (post) in colonialism

mr. fish

mr. fish

the obama administration is continuing with the age-old policies and practices of american racism at home and abroad. it was founded on these principles, and of course, just because the united states has its first african american president does not mean that this phenomenon will magically end. glen ford has a brilliant assessment of why the u.s. boycott of the united nations world conference against racism (durban 2) not only affects america’s racism directed at people around the world, but also at home in the u.s. he contextualizes this in relation to the other white colonial boycotters of the conference:

What a spectacle it was! Diplomats from the colonizing countries of Europe and the white settler regimes they founded rose in indignation in Geneva, Switzerland, last week, to denounce a Persian leader for racism. Envoys from France, Britain, Spain and Denmark, whose nations are responsible for orgies of rape and pillage that killed untold millions in the centuries-long European war against the darker regions of the planet, pretended that their sensibilities had been assaulted by a speech from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The irate Europeans joined with their brothers and sisters in historical genocide and mass murder, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden – kidnappers of nations, invaders, enslavers of whole peoples – who had boycotted the Geneva conference on racism, commonly known as Durban II. The world is stained with oceans of blood because of these Europeans, yet they have the nerve, the gall, to attempt to demonize the Iranian president for the words he spoke about Israel. Leading the sabotage of the conference was the United States, along with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and, of course, Israel – the European settler colonies that became nations on the bones and stolen land of previous inhabitants.

What a display of unbounded arrogance! Of the 15 nations that either boycotted or walked out of the anti-racism conference, in Geneva, only two – Poland and Finland – were not tainted by or products of colonialism and the slave trade. All the rest are complicit in the death of millions, and most continue to profit from their crimes.

The object of European and white settler anger, the Islamic government of Iran, has not attacked anyone in several hundred years. Its president told the conference that an entire nation was made “homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering … in order to establish a totally racist government in occupied Palestine.” Most of the world agrees with that assessment – just as most of the world considers the slave trade to have been a crime against humanity. But that verdict is not accepted by the governments of the nations that built fabulous wealth on commerce in genocide.

The walkout in Geneva was all but choreographed by the United States and its Zionist partners, who began subverting the conference from the moment Barack Obama was sworn into office. The U.S. and its allies made sure that President Ahmadinejad’s speech would get lots of corporate media attention. He was the only head of state to address the conference, that day; nobody else came.

In sabotaging Durban II, Barack Obama succeeded in avoiding coming to grips with grievances registered against the United States by delegates to the previous international anti-racism conference, in Durban, South Africa, eight years ago. The U.S. was supposed to report last week on progress made in fighting residential housing segregation, police brutality, the crimes associated with Katrina, and other American racial problems. But it was more important to Barack Obama to whitewash Israel. Now we know who serves whom.

here is more of glen ford in all his eloquence on laura flanders’ grit tv talking about durban 2 and american racism/racism in america:

more about "Durban II and Race in America", posted with vodpod

john pilger weighs in on obama’s continuing racist imperial regime in dissident voice today:

In his first 100 days, Obama has excused torture, opposed habeas corpus and demanded more secret government. He has kept Bush’s gulag intact and at least 17,000 prisoners beyond the reach of justice. On 24 April, his lawyers won an appeal that ruled Guantanamo Bay prisoners were not “persons”, and therefore had no right not to be tortured. His national intelligence director, Admiral Dennis Blair, says he believes torture works. One of his senior US intelligence officials in Latin America is accused of covering up the torture of an American nun in Guatemala in 1989; another is a Pinochet apologist. As Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, the US experienced a military coup under Bush, whose secretary of “defense”, Robert Gates, along with the same warmaking officials, has been retained by Obama.

All over the world, America’s violent assault on innocent people, directly or by agents, has been stepped up. During the recent massacre in Gaza, reports Seymour Hersh, “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel” and being used to slaughter mostly women and children. In Pakistan, the number of civilians killed by US missiles called drones has more than doubled since Obama took office.

In Afghanistan, the US “strategy” of killing Pashtun tribespeople (the “Taliban”) has been extended by Obama to give the Pentagon time to build a series of permanent bases right across the devastated country where, says Secretary Gates, the US military will remain indefinitely. Obama’s policy, one unchanged since the Cold War, is to intimidate Russia and China, now an imperial rival. He is proceeding with Bush’s provocation of placing missiles on Russia’s western border, justifying it as a counter to Iran, which he accuses, absurdly, of posing “a real threat” to Europe and the US. On 5 April in Prague, he made a speech reported as “anti-nuclear”. It was nothing of the kind. Under the Pentagon’s Reliable Replacement Warhead program, the US is building new “tactical” nuclear weapons designed to blur the distinction between nuclear and conventional war.

Perhaps the biggest lie — the equivalent of smoking is good for you — is Obama’s announcement that the US is leaving Iraq, the country it has reduced to a river of blood. According to unabashed US army planners, as many as 70,000 troops will remain “for the next 15 to 20 years.” On 25 April, his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, alluded to this. It is not surprising that the polls are showing that a growing number of Americans believe they have been suckered — especially as the nation’s economy has been entrusted to the same fraudsters who destroyed it. Lawrence Summers, Obama’s principal economic adviser, is throwing $3 trillion at the same banks that paid him more than $8 million last year, including $135,000 for one speech. Change you can believe in.

more signs of change you cannot believe in is how obama has been dealing with the situation in somalia, which of course feeds into american stereotypes and racism. davey d did an interview with somali rapper k’naan for black agenda report that helps to dispel a lot of myths about somalia on a number of levels. for one thing k’naan mentions an important factoid in the first half of the interview: “somalia has had the longest anti-colonial war in the history of africa.” also interesting is a question davey d asks in relation to obama’s racial profiling of somali american youth returning to somalia to fight for their country against american-led proxy wars against somalia; davey d asks how somali american youth are treated in this regard as compared to israeli american youth who go back to the zionist entity to join their terrorist army. i feel like k’naan sort of side steps part of the issue given that he’s dealing with imperialist struggles over somalia in much of this interview and does not make that link to palestine, though i’m sure he is well aware of this given his music. in any case, here is the interview:

glen ford’s editorial this week on black agenda report adds some analysis to k’naan’s assessment of the imperialist nature of somali coast guards (what the west calls “pirates”):

It is impossible to discuss lawlessness in Somali coastal waters without confronting the U.S. and European role in destroying the rule of law in the country. The chief culprit is the United States, which encouraged Ethiopia to invade Somalia, in 2006, in order to depose the first government the country had had since 1991. Since the early Sixties, U.S. policy in Africa has been to sow chaos in those regions it cannot effectively control. The Somalis drove the Ethiopians out, much to the chagrin of Washington. With the increase in ship hijackings, the Americans and Europeans spin the situation as one in which they must impose order on Somalia – when, in fact, it is outsiders’ attempts to dominate Somalia that have led to such grave disorder.

We now learn that France and Spain, among the maritime powers most guilty of illegally poaching Somalia’s fisheries, have designated themselves as the guardians of the Somali coast. The French and Spanish have enjoyed a bounty of fishing off Somalia, with no Somali coast guard to keep them from taking as much as they want of the national resource. So, the biggest thieves of Somali fish choose themselves as protectors of the fisheries. France and Spain both base their fishing fleets in the nearby Seychelles Islands.

Any dispassionate observer would conclude that the French, the Spanish and the rest of the freeloaders are reverting to a kind of piracy of their own, like in the good old days when whites sailed the world and took what they wanted. But then, that’s a cartoonish way of looking at the world – or is it?

iraq & palestine

palestinian tent in al ruweished refugee camp, jordan

palestinian tent in al ruweished refugee camp, jordan

having lived in jordan i spent much of my time working with refugees. at the beginning, it was just palestinian refugees living in camps. some had fled in 1948 and some had fled in 1967 when they were ethnically cleansed from their land in palestine. but midway through my year in jordan i read about another refugee camp–a new one–that had a significant number of palestinian refugees in it. this new camp was for people fleeing iraq. and in this camp there were palestinian refugees among them, all of whom had fled their homes for a 3rd or 4th time. al ruweished refugee camp, which also housed a number of other people, including kurds from iraq and iran, is now gone. the families have largely been resettled in canada, northern europe, and south america (there is an electronic intifada article about the resettlement in chile). (i have written about this at length on this blog in earlier posts when i was going to the camp regularly you may search to find out more about this. you can also click here to see more photographs from the camp.) but i was struck by these twin refugees: iraqi and palestinian, both of whom were trapped in jordan under a regime that treated them with hostility. a regime that, for many palestinians, has always conspired against them with the british and then with the zionists. one of my students shared a poem with me today about this. he wrote a poem that talked about jordan as the real enemy of palestinians. but the important thing that both sets of refugees demand their right of return. the sad thing is that both groups who remain in jordan–and elsewhere for that matter–seem to be in despair over whether that right will be something they see in their lifetime. nisreen el-shamayleh did a report for al jazeera from gaza camp in jerash, jordan today on palestinian and iraqi refugees in jordan:

of course there are so many other parallels between the iraqi and palestinian refugees. both are subjected to governments, for instance, that are puppet regimes serving the american and israeli terrorist interests not theirs. neither group is a priority for the regimes in their home countries. and yet here are the puppet presidents meeting today in iraq one promising the other protection. as if!

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has received guarantees that Iraqi leaders will protect Palestinians living in Iraq.

The assurance was given on Sunday during his first visit to the country since the US-led invasion in 2003, which toppled Saddam Hussein from power.

Abbas said that the Iraqi officials he met consider Palestinians living in Iraq to be “part of the Iraqi people, so we believe that they are in safe hands”.

He praised Iraq’s pledge to support Palestinians, but did not publicly mention reports of human-rights abuses against Palestinians living in Iraq.

“We would like to thank the Iraqi government for its concern about Palestinians living in Iraq,” Abbas said after a meeting with Jalal Talabani, his Iraqi counterpart.

Abbas also met Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, in a trip that marked a major step in improved ties between the Baghdad government and the Palestinian leadership.

of course they did not talk about the perilous state of palestinians in iraq or their flight from iraq, or the palestinians still in refugee camps in syria because they had to flee iraq. (see human rights watch’s report on palestinian flight for background on this.) the letter below is one of the reasons for the flight of many palestinian refugee families i met in al ruweished camp. but of course iraq doesn’t protect palestinians in iraq what makes abbas think that maliki is going to protect palestinians in palestine or anywhere else for that matter?

letter threatening palestinins in baghdad forcing them to flee

letter threatening palestinins in baghdad forcing them to flee

there is a great article about palestinian refugees displaced from iraq in electronic intifada by anaheed al-hardan. here is some of the article that provides context for palestinians in iraq, though the rest of the article is worth reading, too:

Umm Nawras generously invited me to her home where I was introduced to Suhaila as well as Amira, their nine-months-pregnant sister-in-law. Amira is a current resident of al-Tanf camp who was given temporary permission to enter Syria in order to give birth and then return to her tent home in al-Tanf as there are no medical facilities in the camp. The family histories of these women are similar to many Palestinians refugees from Iraq.

Like most Palestinian refugees in Iraq, their families were originally from villages in the Haifa district that were ethnically cleansed between May and July 1948 and later wiped off the face of the earth. Furthermore, their families too had first sought refuge in the Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarm areas in the West areas before the retreating Iraqi army withdrew with approximately 5,000 refugees in 1949. However, unlike the fate of the villages of most of the refugees who found themselves in Iraq, Umm Nawras and Suhaila’s families hail from a village that was not demolished owing to its architectural appeal to some in the unit that occupied it: Ayn Hawd today is an “artists’ colony.” The implications and injustice of 1948 could not be crueler, especially when some of the original inhabitants of Ayn Hawd as well as their descendants are languishing in tent-camps yet again.

“When they first brought them to Iraq from Palestine, they put them in Basra, in a place they used to call al-Shuaybah camp,” Umm Nawras explained, referring to where her family, alongside the rest of the new Palestinian arrivals, were first placed in Iraq. Shuaybah was an abandoned British military barrack in the desert south of Basra where the Palestinians were placed under military jurisdiction. Two years later they came under civil jurisdiction and their welfare was relegated to the newly-created Refugee Affairs Department of the Ministry of Interior. They were issued Iraqi travel documents for Palestinian refugees and allowed equal access to health, education and public sector employment. These conditions were generally consistent, with a few exceptions during the various regime changes of Iraq’s post-independence history.

Under civil jurisdiction, the Palestinians were moved between Mosul, Basra and Baghdad, although the overwhelming majority then, as in 2003, were placed in the capital. In Baghdad, the Palestinians were housed in various public buildings until most were placed in complexes: al-Baladiyyat and al-Durra in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively. Some families did remain in the various public buildings and the more affluent rented at their own expense. Later on, the housing issue would be one of the main catalysts of Iraqi resentment toward Palestinians that exploded after 2003 due to their perceived preferential treatment under Saddam Hussein’s regime.

“I came of age in [the area of] al-Za’faraniyya where we used to live in huge blind peoples’ homes … It was a huge complex with many rooms; it had huge halls around which every family was allocated a room,” Umm Nawras told me after I probed about life in pre-2003 Iraq. “I remember that whenever we would write our postal address, we would write: the former blind peoples’ homes, the Palestinians’ houses.” In the late 1980s, the women’s families were allocated a private apartment in the purpose-built al-Durra complex and shared the fate of other residents of the country who lived through the Iran-Iraq war and later the UN-imposed siege after the first Gulf War.

all of this got me thinking about an episode of jassem azzawi’s “inside iraq” this week on al jazeera featuring anas al tikriti (who is one of the most eloquent and powerful speakers) and some israeli terrorist professor named mordehcai kedar (who, thankfully, sucks when it comes even to serving up his own propaganda). the episode looks at the zionist entity’s role in creating the invasion and occupation of iraq. it is well known that

don’t you love how the israeli terrorist tries to goad al tikriti into thinking that iran is iraq’s greatest enemy. blatant attempt at divide and rule there. but al tikriti’s response is beautiful and apt: no, of course, not the zionist entity is the greatest enemy of everyone in this region. in this episode you will also hear the israeli terrorist pretend like mossad is not operating in iraq, but here is an interview with seymour hersh and amy goodman on democracy now! from 2004 (and i can tell you from friends who have been in kurdistan that israeli terrorists are all over the place, some rather obviously so):

AMY GOODMAN: Sey Hersh, what is Israel’s role in the covert presence in Iraq?

SEYMORE HERSH: Obviously acquiescence. At the minimum, acquiescence. We certainly didn’t lean on them. There is a high level—i think the chief of staff of the Turkish armed forces, there is a very high level military dell investigation of Turkish military officials in Washington now. They arrived over the weekend I think. They are certainly here now, leading generals, to talk just about this issue. What are we going to do with Israel? I asked add senior C.I.A. Intelligence official about this last week. And his comment, which I think is really pretty accurate, he said really how much control do we have over Israel. They will do what’s in their best interest no matter what we say. This is a complicated one. Because Richard Perle, a Neocon, was really a great champion of the Turkish-Israeli relationship and now that move into Kurdistan is destabilizing that. What the Israelis did, which is remarkable stupid, I think, and I understand has caused enormous problems inside the Israeli government on just the issue of how dumb they are is when the Turks began to raise questions about the obviously growing Israeli presence in Kurdistan, and Kurdistan, Iran has got great intelligence and so does turkey. It is not hard to penetrate. Kurds are, you know, they’re great bargainers and buyers and sellers. And one can easily buy information there. In any case, turkey learned quite a bit earlier this year and asked the Israelis their great buddies about this. And Israel said officially to them that there is nothing there and the people that are there, Israelis are there as private citizens doing their own work. And I can tell you I was an anchor and I did see—I can’t quote him, but it’s clear from my story, very senior people in the government and they are really angry about this. They will not tolerate an independent Kurdistan. They will simply go to war immediately and they won’t even tolerate the idea that the Kurds are getting closers and edging—in their public statements, the Kurds are saying more and more that if things go badly in Iraq, they will consider going independent. So, Israel sort of screwed the pooch with its own ally and then they put themselves in a terrible position with a journalist like me of having to issue these stringent and strong denials, which, between you and me, people in the government acknowledge are just pro forma. They stuck themselves. They said we don’t have anything there. What happened is some of the intelligence people and some of the military people, obviously don’t go into Kurdistan and run operations in Iran with Israeli passports or anything connected to Israel. So, they wash them. We use the word sheep dip for taking in a military person. In America, when you take in a military officer and redress them as a civilian and send them into a war zone, that’s called sheep dipping. Same thing happened with the Israeli Mossad and their military people. They went in undercover.

in theory any palestinian and iraqi leader should be and would be partners in fighting colonialism and neocolonialism in their countries, in the region. but the american-israeli colonial tactic of divide and rule is making that rather impossible. al-tikriti’s point in the “inside iraq” interview, however, is important: the people are completely in solidarity with one another. it is their governments that continue to make deals with and be controlled by the devil.

and in the interest of solidarity here is one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets, mohja khaf, entitled “Snowfall on the Colossal Ruins” from 2000. it is about iraqi refugees in amman.

In the Roman amphitheater in Amman,
life is beautiful and sad. Unexpected snow
falls like a gift from heaven, settles
slowly on the hillocks,
curves, and rumps of bodies
strewn across the steps. The human floor
stirs. Thousands of Iraqis sleep here
nightly, this winter of the year 2000,
this tenth winter of the sanctions.
The proud, the dignified,
the ones you might have met in gracious homes
by appointment, bringing with you flowers,
fruit, or any small token,
to avoid arriving empty-handed,
you will find them here, roseate cheek
laid against the subzero stone.
You will find them curled against each other
in piles so that a walker must step watchfully
not to tread on wrist or groin.
You will find minds trained
in the construction of buildings and poems
wrapped around a crate of unsold chewing gum.
You will find them here, parentless girls
and boys, who in former days were carefully forbidden
to stay out past a certain hour.
You will find them here now, some ready
to sell to you for next to nothing
anything they still own,
snowflakes clinging
to their lush Iraqi lashes, a bare leg
here and there gleaming golden in moonlight.
There is not cover enough to go around
in the Roman coliseum in Amman.
You will find them here coughing
in the air of this winter, turning
from one side to the other, exposed
to whatever is to fall upon them next,
and not upon us, not tonight. (79-80 in E-mails from Scheherazad

of course iraqis are not the only people in the region made refugees by the americans or israeli terrorists. there are uncountable afghan refugees, including some children found by italian police today:

Italian police have found more than 100 immigrants, including 24 Afghan children, living in the sewer system beneath railway stations in Rome.

The children range in age from 10 to 15 years and are now being looked after by the city’s social services.

They were found when the railway police followed up reports of children living near the city’s stations.

The police say they do not speak Italian and broke into the sewers by removing manhole covers.

The charity Save the Children Italy says that more than 1,000 unaccompanied children arrived in Rome last year from various countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

and then, of course, there are the new pakistani refugees and internally displaced people because of the obama bombs falling on pakistan in our undeclared war on that country:

AMERICAN drone attacks on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are causing a massive humanitarian emergency, Pakistani officials claimed after a new attack yesterday killed 13 people.

The dead and injured included foreign militants, but women and children were also killed when two missiles hit a house in the village of Data Khel, near the Afghan border, according to local officials.

As many as 1m people have fled their homes in the Tribal Areas to escape attacks by the unmanned spy planes as well as bombings by the Pakistani army. In Bajaur agency entire villages have been flattened by Pakistani troops under growing American pressure to act against Al-Qaeda militants, who have made the area their base.

Kacha Garhi is one of 11 tented camps across Pakistan’s frontier province once used by Afghan refugees and now inhabited by hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis made homeless in their own land.

are we to expect iranian refugees to be next? how many millions of people will be rendered homeless at the hands of these rogue states? if jonathan cook’s latest report is any indication we might be seeing such a fate as a strike on iran in the near future, which of course would have refugees following right behind:

The White House under Barack Obama has made conciliatory gestures towards Tehran, culminating in a video statement from the president a fortnight ago in which he appealed for a “new beginning” in relations between the two countries.

But since Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in as Israeli prime minister on Tuesday, he has preferred to highlight the military option as a way to prevent what Israel and the United States have claimed are Iranian plans to acquire a nuclear warhead under the guise of a civilian energy programme.

Statements from Mr Netanyahu and his officials over the past few days have been designed to suggest that Israel is preparing to launch such a strike, even if it contravenes the wishes of the White House.

The public differences between Israel and the United States on Iran have accelerated since Israel’s military intelligence chief, Amos Yadlin, published an assessment last month that Tehran had passed the “point of no return” in developing nuclear technology.

He concluded that sanctions had failed and that, if Tehran gave the go-ahead, its scientists had the technology to assemble a warhead within a year or so. The US director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, has dismissed such claims as a “worst-case” scenario.

the west bank does not = palestine (just a very small, diminishing part of it)

archipelago of eastern palestine by julien bousac

archipelago of eastern palestine by julien bousac

as soon as i turned on my computer after school today i saw this tweet from @avinunu:

Ding dong the 2- state solution is dead! Rub your eyes get out of bed! Ding dong the wicked 2-state solution is dead! #Israel #Netanyahu

no, it is not an april fool’s joke. but this is the thinking among many palestinians about the new terrorist, fascist colonist regime that was sworn in today. khaled amayreh sums up this sentiment in palestine think tank pretty well:

In short, we are talking about a man who lies as often as he breathes a dishonest politician who thinks and smart public relations can be a more effective substitution for an honest peace process based on human rights and international law.

This is why, the capitals of the world must not allow themselves to be duped, deceived and cheated by this notorious, cardinal liar.

I am, of course, in no way suggesting that the previous Israeli government was less nefarious than the new one. The previous government of the evil trio Olmert, Livni and Barak had all the hallmarks of a Zionist Third Reich.

What else can be said of a government that ordered its army to exterminate and incinerate thousands of civilians with White Phosphorus, and then shamelessly claimed that it didn’t really mean to do it?

However, that government was considered by many states around the world, such as the gullible Europeans, a “government of peace,” a “liberal,” even “leftist government,” which really gave a new meaning to the term “verbal fornication.”

For us Palestinians, and despite the legitimate and understandable anxiety stemming from the rise of fascism in Israel, it is still better to have in Israel a manifestly fascist government pursuing fascist policies than a deceptively “liberal” or “leftist” government pursuing the same criminal policies.

Let the world see Israel as it really is.

In the final analysis, an honest criminal is better than a lying saint. At least the former is predictable and consistent.

in contradistinction former palestinian president mahmoud abbas had this to say about the netanyahu in ma’an news:

Israel’s new Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “does not believe in peace” Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said Wednesday, and urged the world to put pressure on him to make peace.

“Benjamin Netanyahu never believed in a two-state solution or accepted signed agreements and does not want to stop settlement activity. This is obvious,” Abbas told the official Palestinian Authority news agency, WAFA.

while most of us who want to celebrate the death of a two-state solution with this new regime we are facing, there are, unfortunately, the palestinian authority wish to continue to promote an ever-shrinking palestinian state. i suspect if they keep at it they will wind up with ramallah as their state. perhaps jordan, which is what the israeli colonists have wanted all along. the map up above demonstrates just how little of the west bank would be a state in this so-called “solution.” (see mondoweiss and strange maps for more about its creation). but abbas’ words quoted above are reminiscent of hillary clinton’s comments that building illegal colonies are “unhelpful.” here are more of what i think are abba’s unhelpful comments:

Netanyahu made no specific mention, however, of Palestinian statehood, an important Palestinian demand that is supported by the US and other parties involved in mediating between the two sides.

“Under the final accord, the Palestinians will have all the rights to govern themselves except those that can put in danger the security and existence of the state of Israel,” he said.

Netanyahu also said that he wanted “full peace” with all Arab countries, praising Islam as a rich religion, but he attacked Iran and “radical Islam” as threats to Israel’s security.

“Extremist Islam does not only threaten us, but it threatens us first and foremost … Its goal is to erase the state of Israel from the face of the earth,” he said.

The Palestinian Authority described Netanyahu’s remarks as “not encouraging”.

of course the real island here is the pa itself. their thinking that peace is something you beg for is not shared by many palestinians, including many people in fatah. max ajl wrote in the palestine chronicle that some americans are still attempting to force palestinians into submitting that their state consists of this archipelago pictured above:

And it presents the brief for acting with dispatch: “Failure to act would prove extremely costly. It would not only undermine current efforts to weaken extremist groups, bolster our moderate allies and rally regional support to stabilize Iraq and contain Iran, but would also risk permanent loss of the two-state solution as settlements expand and become entrenched and extremists on both sides consolidate their hold.” The report’s authors recognize that if the two state settlement is not emplaced now, it will be emplaced never.

the plan ajl talks about is, like all american-sponsored plans, a frightening proposition as it allows the continued theft of palestinian water. but i suspect we needn’t worry about any of this given avigdor lieberman’s, the new foreign minister, statement today:

New foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday that Israel was not bound by commitments it made at a U.S.-sponsored conference to pursue creation of a Palestinian state.

“There is one document that obligates us – and that’s not the Annapolis conference, it has no validity,” Lieberman said in a speech, referring to a 2007 gathering in Annapolis, Maryland.

“The Israeli government never ratified Annapolis, nor did Knesset.”

and yet nour odeh reporting for al jazeera from ramallah seems woefully out of touch of what the people think about this new government. she stands there speaking from the island of ramallah thinking that palestinians are waiting for the europeans or the americans to fix the problem of the two state solutions. somebody really needs to tell her that the problem is that palestinians want to liberate their land and that they don’t want to think of this series of islands in the west bank as their state. she needs to spend a couple of weeks in nahr el bared refugee camp in lebanon to get a dose of reality in relation to what palestinians want:

still the note it ends on–that this is likely the end of the two-state catastrophe–is a good one. a hopeful sign. sam bahour published a new poster on his blog today to protest the new government and to support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (see below) calling for:

Hang this poster/flyer on your library bulletin board, supermarket bulletin board, city hall bulletin board, university bulletin board, place on car windshields at events, take out newspaper ads, hold press conferences, add to your websites, send to your newspapers editorial staff, etc, etc.

sam bahour flyer on bds

sam bahour flyer on bds

for those who prefer to wait for obama to rescue them and give them their bantustan state, while israeli terrorists continue to colonize more land, we can glean what obama is really about from this brief comment seymour hersh made on cnn with wolf blitzer about his encouragement of the israeli terrorists who besieged gaza:

and for those of you who think that boycott doesn’t work: check this out from the jerusalem post:

“In addition to the problems and difficulties arising from the global economic crisis, 21 percent of local exporters report that they are facing problems in selling Israeli goods because of an anti-Israel boycott, mainly from the UK and Scandinavian countries,” said Yair Rotloi, chairman of the association’s foreign-trade committee.

oh, and here, by the way, is a real map of palestine. the palestine that must be liberated from the river to the sea.

THIS IS PALESTINE

THIS IS PALESTINE

american meddling

Disturbing news from Lebanon. It seems that in the midst of UNRWA’s financial crisis and the failure of anyone to do anything to help people from Nahr el Bared refugee camp, where at least 20,000 out of the original population of 31,000 are still not allowed to return to their homes–and destroyed homes at that–the Lebanese army is considering pulling a similar operation in nearby Baddawi refugee camp. Many Palestinians from Nahr el Bared are still living in Baddawi, though it’s far less crowded than it was when the siege first began in the summer of 2007. It seems that Lebanon, without clear answers for the recent bombings and fighting in Trablus wants to blame the Palestinians. This phenomenon, unfortunately, has too long a history in Lebanon: blaming Palestinians. This scary news bulletin comes from Al Nahar:

The Lebanese army on Friday was reportedly preparing a “massive operation” against the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Baddawi similar to the offensive launched against Nahr al-Bared last summer. The German news agency DPA, citing a Lebanese security source, said security forces would likely kick off a massive offensive against Badawwi if investigation proved that those responsible for the recent bombing attacks against the Lebanese army had took refuge in the shantytown with the protection of Salafi groups aligned with Fatah al-Islam extremists.

What would happen if the culprits were blamed? A re-reading of Seymour Hersh’s “The Redirection” wouldn’t hurt:

The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney. (Cheney’s office and the White House declined to comment for this story; the Pentagon did not respond to specific queries but said, “The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran.”)…

The United States has also given clandestine support to the Siniora government, according to the former senior intelligence official and the U.S. government consultant. “We are in a program to enhance the Sunni capability to resist Shiite influence, and we’re spreading the money around as much as we can,” the former senior intelligence official said. The problem was that such money “always gets in more pockets than you think it will,” he said. “In this process, we’re financing a lot of bad guys with some serious potential unintended consequences. We don’t have the ability to determine and get pay vouchers signed by the people we like and avoid the people we don’t like. It’s a very high-risk venture.”

American, European, and Arab officials I spoke to told me that the Siniora government and its allies had allowed some aid to end up in the hands of emerging Sunni radical groups in northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and around Palestinian refugee camps in the south. These groups, though small, are seen as a buffer to Hezbollah; at the same time, their ideological ties are with Al Qaeda….

Alastair Crooke, who spent nearly thirty years in MI6, the British intelligence service, and now works for Conflicts Forum, a think tank in Beirut, told me, “The Lebanese government is opening space for these people to come in. It could be very dangerous.” Crooke said that one Sunni extremist group, Fatah al-Islam, had splintered from its pro-Syrian parent group, Fatah al-Intifada, in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, in northern Lebanon. Its membership at the time was less than two hundred. “I was told that within twenty-four hours they were being offered weapons and money by people presenting themselves as representatives of the Lebanese government’s interests—presumably to take on Hezbollah,” Crooke said.

In 2005, according to a report by the U.S.-based International Crisis Group, Saad Hariri, the Sunni majority leader of the Lebanese parliament and the son of the slain former Prime Minister—Saad inherited more than four billion dollars after his father’s assassination—paid forty-eight thousand dollars in bail for four members of an Islamic militant group from Dinniyeh. The men had been arrested while trying to establish an Islamic mini-state in northern Lebanon. The Crisis Group noted that many of the militants “had trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.”

This article was published on March 5, 2007. The war on Nahr el Bared broke out two months later. I have highlighted the key players’ names in bold in the above-quoted paragraphs from Hersh’s article. Notice, especially, Crooke’s comments: who was it who paid Fatah al Islam? Possibly still pays Fatah al Islam? Who let them into the country, much of the time with their weapons? Who let them in and out of Palestinian refugee camps like Ein el Helweh and Nahr el Bared for which one needs a Lebanese army permit to enter? Who let them move from one area of Lebanon to the next with their weapons, through Lebanese army checkpoints? Why is it that Hariri bailed and then paid these militants?

These are questions that must be answered. These are questions that would lead one to try those whose names I emphasized above in the International Criminal Court. These are questions that I’m sure neither Palin nor Biden could answer. But Americans should answer, most notably Cheney, and in a framework of international law. The U.S. is largely complicit, if not responsible for, what happened in Nahr el Bared.

Neither could they answer about the Americans who seem to think that it is okay to invade and bomb Pakistan. Yesterday another American strike in northern Pakistan murdered at least 12 people. At the same time that Biden is mouthing off ridiculous claims of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons as a threat to the state of Israel (of course, Fisk reminds us in the article below that no one ever mentions Israel’s nuclear arsenal–which is more taboo the word Palestinian or Israel’s nuclear weaponry?) the U.S. is busy making a nuclear weapons deal with India. Who is it who is the real threat to the region? Who is selling, making, using weapons of mass destruction and actually murdering innocent civilians every day? The Orwellian nature of this world is mind boggling.

As if things couldn’t get any scarier, it seems that there are people advocating for furthering the process of making the Zionist state America’s 51st state:

Without U.S. consent, says Ephraim Kam, deputy head of the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies, it is highly unlikely that Israel would carry out an attack. But, he adds, if the U.S. does not give Israel the green light, then they need to offer an alternative.

“Some have mentioned the possibility of a (U.S.-Israel) defence treaty,” he told IPS. “We need a clear-cut statement saying that any nuclear attack on Israel will be considered an attack on the U.S. That America would respond with nuclear weapons against Iran. This would be an important deterrent.”

God help us if that happens. I can only imagine how it would be extended out to other contexts, for instance Israel’s next invasion of Lebanon.

But the U.S. has found new ways to meddle in Palestine. In Gaza they are now actively aiding the Israeli Terrorist Forces in military operations:

US soldiers are aiding Egyptian officials in the search for illegal smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, according to a report published by a major Israeli newspaper on Thursday.

Hebrew daily Yediot Ahronot said Thursday that American soldiers-operating under the guise of civilian contractors-discovered 42 tunnels under Rafah over the past month.

US forces found the tunnels with advanced American technology, reported to be gradiometry, which measures deviations in the Earth’s gravitational forces to detect underground voids, coupled with ground-penetrating radar and seismic techniques. They have also received help from other engineering experts, the paper reported. The tunnels were supposedly used for smuggling arms into the Gaza Strip.

There is an interesting news story on Al Jazeera this morning showing these tunnels and what they are mostly used for: basic household necessities that people in Gaza have no access to be cause of the siege:

Where does all of this meddling begin, you might ask. For the U.S. often with USAID, which is why its history was tied to the CIA. Rania reminds us of its recent removal from Bolivia because Morales has integrity as well as what USAID is up to in Africa and Lebanon. But this interference on the part of USAID and its history of participating in helping to destabilize countries and overthrow governments is why taking money or accepting services from USAID is never a good idea. This is why one news item today is particularly disturbing:

A 50 million US dollar program will see the water and sanitation infrastructure of the West Bank and Gaza expanded, repaired and rehabilitated over five years. The project will be administered by the American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) and funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Yes, there is a serious water problem in Palestine. But this is due to Israel’s consistent theft of Palestinian water sources as well as its complete lack of respect for human health and the environment when it comes to what its illegal settlements do with its water. I posted a link to this piece the other day, but Mitri I. Musleh’s article is worth reposting along with its powerful title: “How do you explain to a Palestinian child he must ration his drinking water so an Israeli can swim?”

How do you explain to a young Palestinian that his father is being kept in Israeli jail because he was born Palestinian? How do you explain to a young Palestinian that his sibling was shot because he or she wanted to look out of the window? How do you explain to a young Palestinian that he has to ration his drinking water so an Israeli youngster can swim? How do you explain to a young Palestinian that all of the countries in the world are against you because you keep saying no to occupation, corruption and imperialism?

These are important questions that must be answered. That get at the root of the problem, if answered. Americans would not rather ask these questions. Nor would they like to know the answers. Because to do so means looking at the root cause of the situation and that would necessitate a real solution like the right of return for all Palestinian refugees under UN Resolution 194. Instead, with the increase of USAID here supposedly coming to help with Palestinian water issues, I expect that there will be more meddling. There is supposed to be an election here in Palestine in January. Wait and see just what USAID’s role will be in that one.