Ammaar W. Al-Jallad

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Bahraini woman poet tells of torture while in custody

14 Jul 2011
Richard Spencer

A young Bahraini woman who was arrested after reciting an anti-government poem to demonstrators in the Gulf kingdom said she was beaten, electrocuted and threatened with sexual assault while in custody.

Ayat al-Qurmezi, 20, became one of the symbols of the protests that hit the center of the Bahraini capital, Manama in February and March. After she was arrested, reports circulated that she had been whipped and even at one point raped and killed, leading to an improvement in her conditions and her release on Wednesday evening.

Greeted by a crowd of hundreds of people at her home, she told her family she had not been sexually assault but threatened as well as being electrocuted with clips attached to her face.

She also denied that she had committed treason by attacking the king, saying she wanted reform not revolution. “The demand isn’t to overthrow the regime, but we want a real constitutional monarchy,” she said to reporters.

Miss al-Qurmezi, a member of the Shia majority who was at teacher training college when the protests began in February, was filmed reciting poems to a huge crowd at Pearl Roundabout, the epicenter of the demonstrations.

One featured a conversation between Satan and King Hamad in which they outlined the complaints of the opposition, mostly Shia calling for the Sunni royal family and elite to share power.

Another, addressed to the prime minister, said: “You must go. Take His Majesty with you, and leave your deeds behind.”

After her family received threats, she gave herself up to the authorities in March and put in a narrow cell at a police station. Meanwhile, Bahrain security forces backed by troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates dispersed the protesters. Altogether, about 30 people were killed, while four more protesters died in custody.

“She was beaten with a hose and electrocuted,” Miss al-Qurmezi’s brother, Yusuf, told The Daily Telegraph on Thursday. “They put the clips on her lips and on other parts of her face.

“They did not rape her but they told her they would. They put her in a narrow cell. Through the wall she could hear the screams of men who were being beaten. They would come and tell her, ‘you are next’.”

State media and pro-government activists, mostly Sunnis, attacked her and claimed she had incited racial hatred, by insulting naturalized Bahrainis and Indian residents, and called for violence against the king. She was jailed for a year last month by a military court.

One commentator wrote: “Al-Qurmezi was not interrogated because of the poem. Rather, it was because she read the poem in public and insulted the Monarchy, enraging the formerly silent majority who demanded her arrest.”

Miss al-Qurmezi said she remained under house arrest and although released early the charges on which she had been jailed had not been dropped. “I hope Bahrain can move away from the crisis to a transition into a better future, without discrimination or sectarianism,” she said.

Hundreds of people were detained following the crackdown, including more than 40 doctors and nurses from the main Al-Salmaniya Hospital. Eight leading activists have also been handed life imprisonment.

However, the government has been attempting to restore its reputation in recent weeks, returning trials to the civilian courts, announcing a “national dialogue” with the opposition, and commissioning a high level panel of international human rights experts to conduct an inquiry into the events of February and March.

Source: The Daily Telegraph.

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Rebuilt Iraq hospital plans surgery on infants

Baghdad (AFP)
July 13, 2011

It will be three years before doctors in Iraq can perform heart surgery on infants, doctors say, in a country where birth defects are high due to marriage within extended families.

“Until now, we have not been able to conduct heart surgery on infants,” said Doctor Hussein Ali al-Hilli, director of the Ibn Bitar Hospital for Cardiac Surgery in Baghdad.

“We receive 80 children a day with various heart-related birth defects that we cannot treat. We need three years to learn because such procedures are complicated,” he added.

The publicly-funded Iraqi hospital this weekend signed an agreement with Beirut’s Hotel Dieu hospital for its staff to receive training in heart surgery on infants, through agreements with Lebanese charity Heart Beat and France-based international NGO Chain of Hope.

The first seven-member Iraqi team, including a pediatric cardiac surgeon, a pediatric cardiologist and five other staff members from Ibn Bitar are to travel to Beirut on September 1 for a four-month training course.

A second team will follow.

“Here (in Iraq) the level is good for adult cardiac surgery but it is average for pediatric cardiac surgery,” said Issam Rassi, a Lebanese pediatric cardiac surgeon and vice president of Heart Beat.

“The smaller the child in weight and age, the greater the need for intensive-care units and advanced life-support systems,” he said.

“Congenital deaths are high in Iraq because there are a lot of marriages between cousins,” Rassi said, referring to the Iraqi custom of marriages within extended families.

Victor Jebara, also of Heart Beat, said that “children who cannot be operated in Baghdad because their case is complicated” would be sent to Hotel Dieu under the terms of the agreement.

UNICEF said in a report marking “Day of the Iraqi Child” on Wednesday that nearly 900 children were killed in violence in Iraq between 2008 and 2010 and more than 3,200 wounded.

The Day of the Iraqi Child was named after 32 children were killed by a car bomb on July 13, 2005, as they rushed toward American soldiers offering them candy and toys.

Meanwhile, by 2012 the Ibn Bitar Hospital plans to complete a 55-bed pediatric wing with four operating rooms and an intensive-care unit.

For the hospital, which was built in 1979 by an Irish company but closed after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussein’s forces, the new wing will the culmination of a great adventure.

The hospital was severely damaged during “Desert Storm,” in which a US-led coalition pounded Iraqi occupation forces out of Kuwait. The restored facility reopened in 1992, named the Saddam Heart Hospital.

But during the US-led invasion it was looted and burned, to the point that the US military’s medical mission concluded in April 2003 that it was beyond repair.

But the Americans had not counted on the commitment of doctors to their hospital. To get it going again, they scavenged around Baghdad’s “thieves’ market” buying back looted equipment.

Today, Ibn Bitar receives 80,000 patients a year from around the country.

Hilli, the director, remembers when the Americans told him the hospital was a write-off. “Your assessment is wrong,” he recalls replying. “You don’t know us, we will rebuild it.”

Source: Space War.

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Al Jazeera turning into private media organization

By Habib Toumi
July 13, 2011

The change from a public entity will allow the Doha-based TV station, set up in 1996, to embark on an ambitious expansion plan and will provide it with more flexibility in its administrative and editorial functioning.

Manama: Pan-Arab Al Jazeera channel is planning to change its legal status and turn into a “private organization devoted to public interest.”

The change from a public entity will allow the Doha-based TV station, set up in 1996, to embark on an ambitious expansion plan and will provide it with more flexibility in its administrative as well as editorial functioning, Qatari dailies The Peninsula and Al Sharq reported.

Launching regional channels

Following the change of status, the network credited with changing the media landscape in the Arab world will work on launching a host of regional channels that include Al Jazeera Balkans, Al Jazeera Turkey and Al Jazeera Swahili.

The channel will be able to get involved in wider media activities, social networking sites, mobile and Internet-based news services, the daily said.

The Arab broadcaster, launched on November 1, 1996, has reportedly been given the go-ahead to alter its legal status through an amendment formalized by Law 10/2011 ratified by the Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani in May, the dailies said.

‘Al Jazeera Media Network’

The new name will be ‘Al Jazeera Media Network’ and the changed status would ensure that the channel becomes a truly international media organization.

Legal experts told The Peninsula newspaper that the change of status could mean that Al Jazeera shareholders and staff members may have to sign new contracts.

“Although it is difficult to get investors because it is a very expensive enterprise, going private would mean Al Jazeera would have private shareholders,” a legal expert said.

The channel has a wide network of offices and correspondents.

“Al Jazeera is truly a phenomenon in the world of media, and especially in Arabic media”, the unidentified expert said. “However, going private could also mean some job cuts even though that is highly unlikely.”

‘Private organization devoted to public interest’?

According to the expert, the meaning of the phrase ‘private organization devoted to public interest’ is that the channel would not deal with issues that are harmful to national security or stability of the country.

However, the decision was challenged by Khalid Al Sayed, the editor in chief of The Peninsula who in a front-page editorial, wrote that the move raised several questions.

“First, the purported reason for the change is not convincing since Al Jazeera already enjoys the freedom and flexibility to report on controversial issues like no other channel in the Arab world. The need to change its legal status to enable flexibility, therefore, makes little sense,” he wrote.

“Then, how can a media outlet become a ‘public utility’? What do they exactly mean by ‘public utility’? And how will Qatar as a nation benefit from this public utility?

This is the first time that we have heard of a media company, which is profit-based, being turned into a public utility. Besides, it will become a private institution.

Our question: What happens to the billions of dollars spent by the Qatar government on Al Jazeera? Will it just be considered as a donation then? Or do they want to utilize Law 21/2006 which gives more autonomy to the management of a public utility.”

According to Al Sayed, the reason Al Jazeera is seeking these changes is to bypass the new media law expected anytime now.

“If the government allows Al Jazeera this status change, will it also allow other local media outlets the same opportunity? Maybe, by taking this decision, Al Jazeera is challenging the government to give a similar opportunity to other media outlets.”

Another reason, according to the editor-in-chief, could be a drive by Al Jazeera to avoid being questioned in future about its finances by an elected parliament.

“The big question here is how can a company that was financed by government money become a private institution? What is the legality of this action?”

Al Sayed wrote that he had high hopes for Al Jazeera, “especially after the role they played during the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt.”

“I thought Al Jazeera will become the voice of the Arab people similar to the radio station, Sout Al Arab, during the era of [Egypt’s President] Jamal Abdul Nasser. I was hoping that our Emir will make a present of Al Jazeera to the Arab people and there will be something like an Advisory Council to support the board members of Al Jazeera, and that Advisory Council will have representatives from the different countries in the Arab world,” he wrote.

“Al Jazeera would thus become an institution of the Arab people and the real voice of the Arab world. That would stop future regimes from saying that Al Jazeera is biased or has its own agenda since the people managing it would represent the Arab world and not just one country. Al Jazeera would be the free media zone, where all Arabs would be given the chance to have their voices heard.”

Source: Gulf News.

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Saudi Arabia, Zionism, Peace and the Palestinian Cause

12. Jul, 2011

By Haytham A. K. Radwan – Intifada

(Adelaide, Australia) – The attempts to destroy the Palestinian Cause have been on the drawing board of the Al Saud’s alliance with Zionism and the West for at least 63 years. Today, not only are they fighting against the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to resist occupation, they are doing everything in their power to prevent them from returning to their indigenous land in favor of Israel.

Established as a kingdom without an independent strategic plan or a sense of nationalism, Saudi Arabia has sought to destabilize Billad el-Cham in order to undermine the Palestinian cause in favor of Zionism and the West. Indeed, since the occupation of Palestine in 1948 the kingdom has persevered with it mission to strengthen Zionism by inciting disputes between rival groups. This has had the effect of destabilizing the region so that Zionism and Israel’s occupation of the territory of Billad el-Cham continue, though Riyadh disguises its activities and policies under the banner of Islam, peace and its relationship with the West. Today, the mission of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to strengthen Zionism continues, this being accomplished by undermining popular regional and national resistance movements, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, in order to destroy their confidence and their willingness to resist Israel’s Zionist projects. This paper seeks to shed light on Saudi efforts to undermine the Palestinian cause for the sake of Israel through the propagation of myths, by destroying all forms of resistance, and by instigating peace initiatives which it knows will ultimately be ineffective.

Palestine and the Saudi Myth

This year (2011) marks the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba, the illegal occupation of Palestine by the Zionist movement. However, not all Arab countries have resisted Zionist projects in Palestine, notable among them being Saudi Arabia. Indeed, Al Saud have created the myth that the Saudis have used their position as an oil supplier, as a valuable friend and ally of Western nations, and as the protectors of the most important Islamic sites, Mecca and Medina, to help liberate Palestine. Saudi Arabia’s message to Arab people and to Muslims everywhere is that the kingdom is acting in support of Palestine and its displaced population. Additionally, the kingdom has fostered the notion that it is not in conflict with the establishment of Israel in Palestine and is willing to do everything in its power to restore peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It is argued here that these messages have been accepted uncritically by the media, and this situation has served the House of Saud – as well as Zionism – very effectively. However, many (or most) Palestinians have resisted the message very effectively. Indeed, research into the events of the past 60 years or more reveal a very different situation from the reports provided in the media, and it is evident that there has been a high degree of on-going Saudi cooperation with Israel. Indeed, Saudi Arabia negotiated with the British Foreign Office and with Churchill, expressing its willingness to accept openly the Jewish claim to Palestine in return for Britain withholding support from its Hashemite rivals, and in doing so the Saudis ignored calls by King Ghazi of Iraq to form a common Arab front to defend Palestine. Then, as events unfolded during 1948 Saudi Arabia remained on the sidelines and refused to contribute forces to liberate Palestine. Furthermore, when the 1948 Arab-Israeli War ended, the kingdom withheld financial support from the Egyptian and Jordanian forces still occupying parts of Palestine, and it made every effort to prevent Syria from uniting with Iraq to create a military counterweight to Israel. The kingdom also refused to contemplate the possible use of oil to pressure the US into a more even-handed Palestinian policy.

Since 1948 Saudi conspiracies against the Palestinian cause have continued through secret meetings and communications between Saudi government officials and princes and the Israelis. According to statesmen, senior military officers and former intelligence officers, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar, has maintained regular contact with Israel since at least 1990. Moreover, evidence indicates that such contacts occurred much earlier; for example, in 1976 the Saudi government secretly sent a letter, via Tunisian Foreign Minister, Mohammed Masmoudi, to Israel offering a large sum of money in return for withdrawing from the occupied territories.

Saudi efforts to destroy the Palestinian cause even entailed military plans. Accordingly, in 2009 when the Gaza attack occurred, Saudi Arabia was in support of Israel, and repeatedly met the chief of Mossad to plan an attack on Iran, the main supporter of Hamas, the most influential anti-Israeli movement in the occupied land. Similarly, during the conflict along the Israel- Lebanon border in 2006, the Saudis allegedly contacted the Israelis, the top-selling Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot reporting that Israel and Saudi Arabia had been conducting secret negotiations. It appears, then that while Hezbollah was fighting for the interests of both Lebanon and Palestine – and for all Arab countries – the Saudis were conspiring against it by collaborating with Israel.

Secret meetings and military planning between the Saudis and the Israelis have not been the only conspiracies to undermine the Palestinian cause. For instance, in 1958 the Saudis endeavored to put an end to unity plans between Iraq and Jordan after a pro-Nasser coup d’état succeeded in overthrowing Iraq’s Hashemite monarchy. The Hashemite had long been the strongest traditional Arab force, but they were displaced when Ibn Saud forced them from Mecca in 1924 and Medina in 1925. Then in 1921 the British placed Faisal on the throne in Jordan, and shortly afterwards, in 1923, granted Abdullah control of Iraq. These Hashemite princes were outsiders, but the British used religious differences to justify their actions to the Arab people by asserting that the Hashemite lineage could be traced back to Muhammad. They also worked hard to put an end to the Syrian-Egyptian union (described at the time as the United Arab Republic) which lasted from 1958 until 1961.

The secret relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel has not been intended to help the Palestinian people nor is it to maintain stability and peace in the region. Instead, it has sought to increase the threat of terrorism, a situation which is favorable both to Israel and the House of Saud. Indeed, their relationship can be considered to be lower than that between al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the differences between the two are akin to the differences between the act of war and terrorism. Both have supported terror and war to justify their expansionism. Saudi Arabia has used Islam and its wealth to further its cause. Israel has used Saudi Arabia’s wealth, Islam, its military superiority, and its contacts with the West to achieve its objectives.

Thus, the interaction between the Saudi royal family and the Anglo-American-Israeli alliance has dangerously strengthened anti-secular and national movements in Billad el-Cham. Also it has deepened the divisions that emerged during the period of colonial rule in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Indeed, events show that the Saudi royal family has stood against Syrian nationalism and the liberation of Palestine in order to strengthen Saudi-style religious movements. However, what now concerns the Saudis is the threat that Syrian nationalism can cause to the existence of the royal family and its Wahhabi mission within Billad el-Cham. Similarly, what worries Israel and the West is the threat that nationalism can cause to the existence of the State of Israel.

Unlike the Saudis, who have never realized that Zionism constitutes a threat both to Billad el-Cham and to the kingdom itself, the people of Billad el-Cham have seen the emergence of Israel as a real threat to the security and stability of the entire Middle East. This danger lay in the Zionist endeavor to establish an exclusively Jewish state in Billad el-Cham based on the claim that the Jewish people had an ancient, inherent and inalienable right to Palestine. This endeavor has been founded on the belief that the Jews constitute a nation, yet such a belief is unwarranted because the Jews are very diverse racially, socially, and culturally. Indeed, for the liberation of Palestine in particular, and the existence of Billad el-Cham in general, the Zionist threat cannot be denied. Zionist Jews have claimed an historic title of the Jewish people to Palestine even though they are not descendants of the original inhabitants of the country. Historically, the Jews, or the Israelites, arrived in the land of Canaan as immigrants and they then lived with the Canaanites. However, there was never peaceful coexistence between them and the Philistines, who also came to the land of Canaan almost contemporaneously with them. The Israelites eventually disappeared from Palestine after their deportation by the Romans following their second revolt in AD 132-5. Moreover, the Jews who migrated to Palestine in the twentieth century showed no disposition to share the country or to coexist with the Palestinians. Rather, they were determined to realize the political ambitions defined by the World Zionist Organization, to create an exclusively Jewish state.

Today, like the West, the Saudis continue to do everything in their power to strengthen Zionism and weaken Syrian nationalism. Within Billad el-Cham this is continuing to this day; Israel is using similar tactics in order to justify its wars against the Palestinians, Lebanese and the Syrians in the occupied territories while the Saudis, like the West, have done little to end the crises by putting a stop to Israel’s step-by-step expansionism. However, these policies are having an impact on the behavior of Muslim sects, on radical organizations, and on US-backed political parties within Billad el-Cham. Similarly they are affecting the behavior of the Zionists and Saudi Arabia. For example, Israel and the US are using Saudi Arabia’s influence in the Persian Gulf to destabilize Iran. However, there may be unforeseen consequences for these policies will impact on the security of Saudi Arabia itself and not just Iran.

Using Iran as an Excuse to Weaken the Palestinian Cause

Today, the Saudi royal family continues the policy of Ibn Saud in harming the Palestinian cause, although the Palestine question remains important for Saudi policy-makers. This is so not because of the sensitivities of the Palestinian crisis but because of growing Iranian influence in the occupied land. This may explain why Saudi Arabia is opposing the Iranian-backed democratically elected anti-Israel Sunni government led by Hamas while supporting the unpopular Fatah government led by Mahmud Abbas. Indeed, Saudi officials have repeatedly stated that Iranian support for Hamas has widened the rift with Fatah and hampers a resumption of peace talks.

This situation helps explain why, during a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in February 2010, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal expressed support for United Nation sanctions against Iran because of Iran’s military support for Hamas and Hezbollah. The Foreign Minister commented:

We see the issue [Iran’s nuclear program] in the shorter term maybe because we are closer to the threat … So we need an immediate resolution rather than a gradual resolution [sanctions].

However, by June, as the UN Security Council passed a new round of sanctions against Iran, The Times in London published a report stating that:

Defense sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.

At this point it is relevant to note that Zionism has been successful in influencing policies and events in Saudi Arabia. It has been successful in convincing the Saudi royal family that Iran is a threat to their existence and that the royal family needs to co-operate with Israel to ensure the kingdom’s safety. Indeed, the Saudis have apparently accepted the view that they need Israel as a back-up in any future confrontation with Iran. Israel is still considered to be an enemy in the eyes of Arab and Muslim people, and though Iran is a Muslim country and shares similar values and interests with Arabs nevertheless Saudi Arabia still favors Israel. This is evident today. At present, Saudi policy regarding Iran is aligned with that of Israel, and both are sectarian in nature and publicly political. A Saudi/ Sunni war against the Shias would achieve Israel’s aim of destroying Iran’s growing power, but from an Israeli standpoint such a conflict would be to the benefit of Zionism which is hostile to both Shias and Sunnis.

Today, Saudi policy makers are keeping pressure on Iran regardless of the fact that Iran is seeking to counter-balance Israel’s hegemony in the region. It is widely believed that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, but this seems to ignore the fact that Israel is already a nuclear state. There is no evidence yet that Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction, however Saudi Arabia chooses to insist that Iran is a threat to the region and in so doing is ignoring Israel’s nuclear capabilities.

It seems that Iran’s enmity toward Saudi Arabia has a more immediate strategic cause. Iran is not going to forgive Saudi Arabia’s political stand with the US against Iran’s nuclear interests, nor is it going to forget Saudi Arabia’s support for Saddam Hussein’s forces in the Iran/Iraq conflict in the 1980s. Indeed, Tehran’s main hostility stems from the belief that Saudi Arabia is covertly co-operating with its enemies on three fronts. Firstly, the government in Tehran believes that the Saudis collaborated with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the abduction of an Iranian nuclear scientist in 2009. Iran accused Saudi Arabia of assisting the CIA abduction of Shahram Amiri while he was in Mecca, this view being confirmed by Amiri who stated on his return from the US that the CIA has kidnapped him with the help of Saudis. Secondly, the Iranian regime suspects that the Saudis have agreed to support Israel in planning a’ ‘surgical strike’ against Iran’s nuclear facility, and thirdly, that the Saudi government has been providing ideological support for Iran’s main domestic terrorist group, the Jundallah.

Unworkable Peace Process

Soon after the events of 9/11 King Abdullah negotiated the so-called ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ to avoid criticism from the West because 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. The initiative was produced in the 2002 Arab Summit in Beirut, but in the subsequent ten years Israel has refused to comply, and Saudi Arabia has taken no steps to implement it.

In the light of these events it is reasonable to question whether Saudi Arabia could solve the crises through peace negotiation and whether Saudi Arabia is able to pressure Israel to make peace. It is argued here that there is no evidence to suggest that Israel is dedicated to peace in the region. Nor is there evidence that Saudi Arabia would cease supporting Zionism or reduce its loyalty to the US, especially since the US itself is under Zionist control.

Theoretically, peace is represented in contemporary literature as a ‘liberal peace’: that is, an institutional peace to provide international governance and guarantees, a constitutional peace to ensure democracy and free trade, and a civil peace to ensure freedoms and rights within society. However, these distinctions mean little to people living under occupation and in refugee camps.

But in reality, peace with Israel means recognizing the Zionist state as a sovereign political entity, something Palestinians refuse to accept. Accordingly, the peace process is not welcomed in Billad el-Cham in general and Palestine in particular. For the people of the region there are deep disagreements about the issue of peace with Israel. Additionally, there is a growing awareness among the indigenous inhabitants of the Middle East that Israel has become firmly entrenched, but despite this there has not been a commensurate shift in support for Israel’s presence; to the contrary, opposition to Israel remains as high as ever.

It is proposed here that a peace arrangement between Israel and its neighbors would legitimize injustice because millions of displaced Palestinians still live in refugee camps abroad, a state of affairs in violation of basic human rights. Although much is heard about the plight of the Jews in the holocaust, little is said about the Palestinians who fled from their homeland. It is clear that Israelis have no intention of living peacefully with the Palestinians, and evidence of this can be seen in the relentless extension of settlements on Palestinian land. This process is exacerbating the refugee problem by forcing the remaining Palestinian inhabitants to cross into Jordan. Despite this worsening situation Saudi Arabia is doing nothing except encourage Mahmud Abbas to continue peace talks with Israel and by supporting the Oslo Agreement, although the kingdom’s rulers know that the Oslo process is unlikely to contribute to a lasting peace. In 2002, King Abdullah proposed peace in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders. Israel did not accept his initiative. Five years later (in March 2007) that proposal was revived, but, as before, it produced no tangible results, and Saudi Arabia was still unwilling and unable to force Israel’s hand on the matter. Instead, the Saudis are now cooperating with Israel to prepare an air strike against Iran, a new fabricated enemy to replace the original enemy of all Arabs, Israel.

Peace between Israelis and Palestinians may never be achievable regardless of the efforts of the Israelis and Saudis because Israel has no roots in the region. Palestine has been occupied, it has been renamed Israel, and the original inhabitants have been forced to flee their homeland. Consequently, Israel can never really achieve a lasting peace with people who they have displaced. Some may argue that Israel has signed a peace treaty with Egypt and Jordan, countries with whom they now enjoy relatively peaceful relationships. But are those treaties sustainable? It is argued that they are not because while Governments may sign treaties those arrangements may never be accepted by the public, especially after so many years of bloodshed and injustice. Public feelings on the matter are becoming more evident today in Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere, where anti-Israeli slogans are appearing more often. Can the Saudi government continue to resist (or ignore) rising public sentiment today, and can its petrodollars, allies, and political advocates, both internal and external, protect the world from growing sectarianism, extremism and terrorism?

Today, although Palestinians have not forgotten the lessons of military power and occupation, Saudi Arabia still believes that peace with Israel is achievable and that Israel itself is serious about making peace and ensuring justice. It is insisting that the Palestinian (and Lebanese) resistance to Israel must be halted in order to resume peace negotiations. Saudi Arabia’s rulers have repeatedly witnessed Israel’s rejection of many offers of peace and Israel’s recourse to violence and expansion of settlement, yet they insist that the Palestinians must negotiate peace with Israel.

Meanwhile, injustice can result in more violence, propelling people to acts of resistance in order to gain justice. In the eyes of the international community, Israel has persistently violated international law which requires it to recognize the rights of the indigenous Palestinian people. The occupation is illegal, the Palestinians have been confined to small areas in Gaza and the West Bank and have remained under siege, and displaced people have been prevented from returning to their native land – all acts being condemned by natural and human laws. In the meantime, Israel, protected by the US, has caused many Palestinian deaths and condemned many others to a life of agony and despair. Thus, a just settlement would require an independent and an honest broker, Western or non-Western, but can this happen?

So far the international community has been unable and unwilling to solve the crisis in Palestine. Similarly, it has demonstrated unwillingness to challenge the Saudis for their tacit support for the status quo. Indeed, for the American government the occupation of Arab and Muslim territory, and the displacement of its population are convenient ways to force the hand of the Saudi, Arab, and Muslim people.

In summary, this paper has examined the Saudi-Zionist efforts to undermine the Palestinian cause. While these policies have succeeded in some places, they have failed to be effective in Palestine, as well as in other places in Billad el-Cham. Failure to win over the hearts and minds of people in the region has caused the Saudi-Israeli-Western policy makers to forge what they called “the New Middle East”. But for this new vision to succeed will entail the destruction of regimes regardless of whether these regimes are secular or Islamic. This also requires the destruction of groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and of leaders who are willing to stand in opposition.

Source: Intifada-Palestine.

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Germany’s controversial Saudi tank deal

Heidenheim, Germany (UPI)
Jul 11, 2011

German politicians are defending the government’s controversial decision to sell tanks to Saudi Arabia under terms of a $2.5 billion armaments contract.

The Saudis want to buy 200 German-made Leopard II main battle tanks built by Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann and Rheinmetall, Heidenheimer Zeitung reported Monday.

Christian Democratic Union foreign policy adviser Roderich Kiesewetter said that, while there was a “lack of transparency” in the proceedings, “national security interests” meant that “it would be harmful to our country when things were revealed that are still in negotiation. We must ensure the security of Israel.”

The CDU is the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Saudi purchase of German armor would represent a significant diversification of arms purchases by Saudi Arabia, which currently fields about 1,000 main battle tanks of U.S. and French manufacture.

The deal has surprised some CDU officials.

“Normally you’d expect at least Israel would object if Saudi Arabia got a delivery of tanks,” CDU member and Arabic affairs expert Joachim Hoerster said. “That was always the case in the past and that’s why no arms went there before.

“But the geopolitical situation in the Middle East has evidently changed so much that Israel has no comment on all this — and that speaks volumes by itself.”

German-Saudi relations have been expanded since the first visit of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to Saudi Arabia in October 2003.

The Leopard 2A7+ tanks weigh 68 tons and were unveiled to the public during last year’s Eurosatory defense industry trade show in Paris.

The German contingent of the U.N. peacekeeping force operated a number of Leopard 2A4s and 2A5s in Kosovo in 1999.

The Leopard 2A7+ is a versatile main battle tank, as it was specifically designed to operate in both low- and high-intensity conflict situations.

The Leopard 2A7+ contains upgraded modular armor, among other things providing all-round protection against RPGs as well as mines, options specifically designed to improve the survivability of the tank in urban operations.

Its munitions handling capabilities have also been upgraded as well as its observation systems.

Germany’s Leopard tanks have proven to be one of the country’s most sought after arms exports. Purchasers include Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

The proposed Saudi sale is taking political overtones, as media reports are beginning to surface about the two munitions companies’ past political donations to German progressive political parties, including the CDU, over the past decade.

Source: Space War.

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Iraqi tribes feud over nightingale

AMARA, Iraq, July 12 (UPI) — A pair of Iraqi tribes in the province of Missan are feuding over a nightingale a member of one tribe allegedly stole from the other, locals say.

The Azzaman newspaper reported the theft of the nightingale has led to calls for violence from the tribe that owned the bird due to a violation of its “tribal honor.”

The newspaper said surrounding tribes are attempting to smooth the ruffled feathers and prevent violence from breaking out while the chieftains of the two tribes are planning a summit to discuss the issue.

Tribe members said any settlement reached between the chieftains would have to involve the return of the bird and the payment of “a generous ransom.”

Source: United Press International (UPI).

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Panetta in Iraq as another US soldier killed

Baghdad (AFP) July 10, 2011

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Baghdad on Sunday to urge Iraqi leaders to act against Iran-backed Shiite militias, as another American soldier was killed in the south of the country.

Panetta, who took office 10 days ago, flew in after visiting Afghanistan and was also to urge Iraqi leaders to decide soon on whether they want US troops beyond the scheduled pullout at the end of this year, a senior US defense official said.

About 46,000 US troops remain in Iraq, down from a high of 170,000 after the 2003 US-led invasion. They are scheduled to leave in less than six months unless a deal is reached between Baghdad and Washington.

“If they are to make a proposal with regards to the continuing US presence there, they have to make a formal request that we would obviously consider,” Panetta told reporters shortly after his arrival.

He is due to meet President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massud Barzani.

“The issues for Iraq are security there and what’s being done, particularly to deal with the Iranian supply of weapons to militants in Iraq,” Panetta said.

Three American soldiers have been killed so far this month, after June was the deadliest month in three years for US troops, with 14 killed.

A US military statement said a soldier was killed in southern Iraq on Sunday, but gave no other details.

Asked about increased attacks on US forces by Shiite militants backed by Iran, Panetta expressed “tremendous concern,” and called on Iraq to do more to “go after those extremists that are making use of these weapons” supplied by Tehran.

“If we’re all gonna be partners, they have a responsibility to protect against that kind of attack. It’s in the interest of Iraq to provide for their own security,” he said.

Iran has denied US accusations that it was smuggling weapons to insurgents in two of its neighbors, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Panetta said the United States was open to a request by Iraq on a troop extension.

“If they are to make a proposal with regards to the continuing US presence there, they have to make a formal request that we would obviously consider,” Panetta told reporters.

“I think the secretary will convey to the Iraqis… that there’s some urgency for them to make that request if they’re going to make it,” said a senior US official traveling with the defense secretary.

Panetta is the latest top US official to arrive in Iraq, asking officials to accept a contingent of American troops beyond 2011. US diplomatic sources in Baghdad say there has been no talk on the possible number who could remain.

A possible extension would be deeply unpopular among the public in Iraq, where many people look upon the American soldiers as “occupiers.”

Talabani, a Kurd, said on Saturday that political parties would announce their decision in two weeks on whether they want some US forces to remain.

Ali Mussawi, Maliki’s media adviser, told AFP on Sunday that a decision within two weeks was unlikely.

“I believe that political leaders will not reach an agreement during the two-week deadline,” he said, adding that leaders were too busy arguing over small issues instead of focusing on more important issues such as the future of American forces in Iraq.

Some Kurdish officials have said they want US forces to stay beyond the deadline, but the powerful Shiite movement of Moqtada al-Sadr has threatened to resume armed struggle against American troops if they extend their stay.

In a statement posted on his website on Sunday, Sadr said that due to internal issues he would not reactivate his powerful Mahdi Army even if US forces stayed, but added that the elite Promised Day Brigade would be at the forefront of the fight against American forces staying on.

It is one of three militias that US military officials say receives weapons from Iran and has been behind attacks on US troops.

Panetta said he would also press Iraqi leaders to speedily appoint defense and interior ministers, posts which remain vacant because of political bickering, despite the formation of a unity government last December.

Source: Space War.

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