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Dagelijks archief 27 maart 2011

Meet Allen West: GOP Young Gun And Anti-Muslim Extremist

August 19, 2010 1:54 pm ET

The National Republican Congressional Committee considers Allen West, the Republican candidate for Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, one of the party’s Young Guns.  According to Politico, West, a retired Lt. Colonel in the Army raised an astonishing $530,000 in July alone and has thus far amassed more cash “than any other House challenger candidate in the country.”  What is behind West’s fundraising success?  To put it mildly, West hates Arabs and Muslims. In a year where Muslim-baiting has become a mainstay of the conservative brand, West’s support for a civilizational war with the Muslim world has made him a darling among some of the most conspiratorial, reactionary and bigoted minds on the political landscape.  West calls President Barack Obama “the dumbest person walking around in America right now,” says that hospitals should refuse service to people who can’t produce their immigration documents, and accuses supporters of a Palestinian state of all wanting a return of the Holocaust.

Allen West Hates Arabs, Believes We Are In A War With Islam

West: We Are In A War Against Islam. Speaking at an anti-Muslim panel during the CPAC annual conference, Allen West said: “A nation goes to war against an ideology and that’s what we been talking about here today. We been talking about the fact that we are against something that is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology and it is called Islam.” [YouTube, accessed 6/8/10]

West Opposes Any Palestinian State Because It Would “Create A Terrorist State.” On his campaign website, Allen writes: “I do not support any creation of a Palestinian state, to do so would be to create a terrorist state. There is already a state for the Arabic people residing in the region called Palestine, Jordan.” [, accessed 5/20/10]

West Likens Building Of Indoor Ski Slope To Solution Of The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Allen West wrote on his campaign site: “If the Arabs can build an indoor ski slope in Dubai, they can resolve the issue of their Arab brothers and sisters. Instead, they use them as pawns in an international game of extortion and use the subsidies provided not for humanitarian gain but for more weapons, for jihad.” [, accessed 5/20/10]

West: Palestinians Only Want One Thing, “A Return Of The Holocaust.” Speaking at a rally in Fort Lauderdale, Allen West said: “Every time we give them land, they want more.  Every commission decision, from the 1937 Peel Commission all the way to the Oslo Accords.  And just recently, when Benjamin Netanyahu said ‘We will suspend for ten months,’ they said it’s still not enough. You’re dealing with an enemy that only wants one thing and that is, a return of the Holocaust. That’s not happening as long as I have breath in my lungs.  There will never be anything other than the nation of Israel that occupies these boundaries that are set, in the words here that we have in the Bible and the Torah.” [YouTube, 1/5/10]

West: “If You Want To Free Palestine, You Give It Back To The People Who Had It In The First Place.” Speaking at a pro-Israel rally, West said that Israel’s boundaries were determined by the Bible and that “if you want to free Palestine, you give it back to the people who had it in the first place.” [YouTube, 1/5/10]

West: Persecution Of Jews Began With The Rise of Islam In The 7th Century. On his campaign website, Allen West writes: “About 62 years ago, the world came together and established something that was very long overdue, the State of Israel. When one considers the travails of the Jewish people since the 7th century, it should bring shame upon the face of the world. These persecutions began with them being forced out of the Saudi peninsula and the Levant by muhammad [sic] and his successors. The horrors of the inquisition in Spain among other wrongs brought upon the Jews in early Europe followed. When we failed to learn from that lesson, the world would witness the supreme horror of the Holocaust in Europe. Finally, we learned the lesson. We made a commitment and established a Jewish homeland, fully recognized.” [, accessed 5/20/10]

West: Bible Proves Arabs Are “Wild” And “Against Everyman.” On his campaign website, Allen West quotes the Bible to say that there can never be peace with the Arabs:  “Genesis Chapter 16, verses 11-12 states, ‘And the Angel of the Lord said to [Hagar]: Behold you are with child, and you shall bear a son, you shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against everyman, and every man’s hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.’ Ishmael of course became the beginning of the Arab people….and God’s word is immutable truth.” [, accessed 5/20/10]

West Feared Al Jazeera Would Kidnap Him. As the New York Daily News reported: “West’s combat instincts flared a few days ago when his campaign office got a call from a young woman who identified herself as a booker for the Al Jazeera network’s English-language channel.  ‘She told my staff that she wanted to talk about the perceived uptick in violence in Afghanistan,’ West tells us. ‘I found that strange, since I haven’t been in Afghanistan in eight months. There are a lot of other people better qualified to speak to that subject.  But my b.s. flag really went up when they said they wanted my address, to pick me up at night. They said they would send a car but wouldn’t tell me where it was going.  I don’t know if it was a kidnapping attempt,’ says West, who is challenging first-term Democratic Rep. Ron Klein in the Sunshine State. ‘But I am not going to entrust Al Jazeera with my life. I said, ‘Cancel the interview!”” [New York Daily News, 7/28/09]

While In The Army, West Performed Mock Execution On An Iraqi Detainee. As Slate reports, “Army investigators learned that West participated in the August 2003 forcible interrogation of an Iraqi police officer thought to be involved in a plot to assassinate him and other soldiers. In their report, the investigators found that West directed four enlisted soldiers and a female civilian interpreter to punch and kick the Iraqi detainee repeatedly in an attempt to get information. The investigation also found that West brandished his pistol during the interrogation and fired it near the detainee’s head in a mock execution to scare the detainee into talking…Fourth Infantry Division commanding Gen. Raymond Odierno initially brought criminal charges against West, but a pretrial hearing officer recommended that those charges be dismissed. Instead, Odierno gave West an administrative punishment and fined him half a month’s pay for two months, or about $5,000. In spring 2004, West retired from the Army.” [Slate, accessed 5/20/10]

West: Terrorists Are Infiltrating The Military. As the Huffington Post reported: “Lt. Col. Allen West (Ret), who is running for Congress in Florida’s 22nd District, released a statement on Friday morning that heavily insinuated that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan — the soldier responsible for the Fort Hood killings — was a Muslim extremist. ‘This enemy preys on downtrodden soldiers and teaches them extremism will lift them up,’ West said, in a statement titled ‘Terrorists Are infiltrating Military’. ‘Our soldiers are being brainwashed.'” [Huffington Post, 11/6/10]

Extreme Domestic Policy

West Believes Emergency Rooms Should Be Able To “Refuse Care To…Illegals.” In a campaign speech in Jupiter, Florida, West said: “Everyone talks about healthcare and the effects of healthcare and the high cost of health care. There are hospitals and there are emergency rooms right here in our state that are going under because they cannot refuse care to people who are going in there that are illegals. We’ve got the change that. And this is not about me being an uncompassionate person, I am very compassionate. But my compassion starts with people who are Americans. Because I believe one thing. There are three types of people that should be here in this country: your Americans, those people that want to be Americans, and those people we invite here as our guests. Other than that you don’t deserve to be here.” [, 5/18/10]

West: “No More Progressive Tax System.” On his campaign website, Allen West writes: “We should begin to redefine our tax code, no more progressive tax system; we need to go to a flat tax system. Currently we have some 40-45% of Americans who are not paying any taxes; a rate of around 15-17% would be adequate. A twist I recommend is to have a flat tax up to an income level of $2 Million, then institute a progressive system. My intent is to inspire Americans to earn and develop their wealth.” [, accessed 5/20/10]

West: End The “Failed Ideal Of Multiculturalism.” Writing on his campaign website, West commented, “We have to end the failed ideal of ‘multiculturalism’ as it pertains to subjugating American culture to every other culture. The practice of easily obtained student visas led to the horror of 9-11. We can no longer grant these visas, or any others, to citizens entering from Countries known to harboring terrorist groups, especially Islamic terrorist groups.  We must clean out our prisons of illegal immigrants and have harsher penalties against illegals perpetrating crimes against American citizens. The ‘anchor baby’ practice must be terminated. Lastly, any American city classifying itself as a ‘sanctuary city’ must be cut off from receiving any federal government funding.” [, accessed 5/20/10]

West Has An Extreme Anti-Choice Position. According to West’s campaign website: “There are pro-abortion groups that advocate abortion at all costs, even at the expense of the mother. These groups promote abortion as a means of birth control and have developed a multi-million dollar industry out of this culture of death. This is simply unacceptable. And, partial birth abortion is nothing short of an abomination.  I believe all future discussion on this issue should move us toward the elimination of abortion except in the most extraordinary of circumstances. Current law is poorly constructed and it is the opinion of many constitutional attorneys that abortion is not a privacy issue, as stated in the Roe v. Wade decision.” [, accessed 5/20/10]

We Need A Constitutional Amendment To Make English The Official Language. West told Florida-based radio host that he supported making English the national language through a constitutional amendment, saying: “But the official language of these United States of America should be English.  And all you have to do is look to the North.  You see what happens when you try to have these bilingual societies.  They do not work.  And one of the great things, when I was there in Kandahar with the Canadian officers – Canadian officers need to know English and French – that’s very confusing, very tough.”  [, 6/2/10]

West Charges That “Liberalism Is A Dishonest Tyranny,” Calls Current Government “A Thugocracy.” In a March 28 address to the Ft. Lauderdale Tea Party, West said: “Liberalism is a dishonest tyranny. It’s a dishonest tyranny because it will lie to people that says, ‘I know what’s best for you and I can determine and engineer your life.’ All they’re seeking to do is be tyrannical in nature. And eventually we will have a government that has taken away all the liberties of the American people… We gotta stop ’em. And see that’s why I wanna go to Congress. And the point is this. That’s a theocr– a thugocracy you have up in Washington, D.C. right now.” [, 3/28/10]

Allen West Attacks President Obama

West: President Obama Is “The Dumbest Person Walking Around In American Right Now.” Speaking on the Michael Savage radio show, West said: “This is not a Republican thing.  This is Republicans, Democrats and Independents, regardless of what Nancy Pelosi, CNN and all the rest are trying to say that it was something concocted by a right-wing FOX network or a talk show host. You know, the Tax Day tea parties was [sic] the shot across the bow for the Obama administration and for him to stand up and say yesterday that he knew nothing about it, I gotta tell you, he’s probably the dumbest person walking around in America right now.” [Savage Nation, 4/20/09]

West: “I Absolutely Can’t Stand” President Obama. In a campaign speech in Jupiter, Florida, West said: “See our government wants to castigate us as the enemy. Our president went down and said that the problem is here in the United States of America. Well, ya know, let’s face it, wherever he goes he’s going to apologize for this country. I can’t stand the guy. [Cheers] I absolutely can’t stand him.” [, 5/18/10]

West Compared Obama To Hitler, Said “Tyrannical Government” Is Coming For Your Guns. In a campaign speech in Jupiter, Florida, West said: “But see this is once again a ploy by this government to open up the amnesty. To op– to close down our second amendment rights. And never forget this, my fellow Americans. In 1930, there was a gentleman in Germany who took away private gun ownership. And you know what happened to that population. You must be well-informed and well-armed because this government that we have right now is a tyrannical government. And it starts with this issue with illegal immigration.” [, 5/18/10]

West: Difference Between Carter Administration And “Obama Regime Is Naiveté And Maliciousness.” Speaking to conservative anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller, West accused President Obama of maliciously trying to destroy the country, saying: “I think the difference the Jimmy Carter presidency and the Obama regime is naïveté and maliciousness.  I think this is purposeful maliciousness.  That’s why what you’re seeing now in this administration. I don’t think they care for this country.  And I think they’re trying to make it into some kind of third-world socialistic cesspool.  I think they are willing to get in bed with any dictator or despotic ruler that they see.” [YouTube, accessed 5/20/10]

West Blamed Gulf Oil Spill On Obama. On his campaign website, West wrote: “There is no reason why those we elect to oversee our Nation have no clue about deep water oil drilling emergency management procedures. Leadership is about anticipating, analyzing, and executing viable solutions, before the incident occurs; that is what we call vision. Leadership is not about the immature game of pointing fingers and laying blame. As well, leadership is not about saying “mea culpa” and giving up on what is a national security, economic, and jobs, issue for our Nation.” [AllenWestForCongress, accessed 5/16/10]

West: Democrats Are “Creating More Slaves So That They Can Have Control Over Them.” In a speech to mark the opening of a campaign office, West said: “This is about fighting a dishonest tyranny. Fighting against people that will lie to the American people and say ‘we’re doing all this for the betterment of your lives’ when all they’re doing is creating more slaves so that they can have control over them. That is not the country that our founding fathers, our grandparents and our parents left to us. And it’s about not creating victims, it is about creating victors.” [, 4/17/10 via]

West Called Obama Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review A “Serious And Heinous” Violation “Of Our National Security Strategy.” In an interview with Fox News‘ Sean Hannity, West said: “It’s absolutely terrible. Y’know one of the key things the federal government is charged to do is to provide for the common defense. And that means the physical security of the American people. And so last week what we saw were two very serious uh, and heinous violations of our national security strategy. Your nuclear weaponry is a deterrent to ensure that you can stay safe and secure as a nation.” [Fox News via, 4/14/10]

( / 27.03.2011)

Israeli Minister joins call for removal of pro-Palestinian Facebook page

Last week, I wrote about’s Editor, Jackie Cohen, using her platform as a bully pulpit to encourage “friends of Israel” to report a Facebook Page calling for an intifada (uprising) in the Palestinian territories in the hopes of getting it taken down.  Apparently, Cohen has been joined by Israeli Minister of Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein in appealing to Mark Zuckerberg to remove the page; Edelstein wrote a letter to Zuckerberg demanding the immediate removal of the page, claiming it incited violence.  Specifically, Edelstein noted:

On this Facebook page there are posted many remarks and movie clips which call for the killing of Israelis and Jews and the “liberating” of Jerusalem and of Palestine through acts of violence.

Edelstein goes on to claim that believes in the value free speech, but that there is a difference between freedom of expression and incitement to violence.

Where do I start?  First off, I agree with Edelstein’s latter claim in theory; there is indeed a difference between free expression and incitement.  That said, I’ve pored through the contents of the Facebook Page, and while there may be individual comments that can or should be perceived as incitement, I have not yet come across incitement by the Page organizers.  In that case, individuals should be dealt with on an individual basis, and their accounts removed if they are indeed violating Facebook’s Terms of Service.

While I view Cohen’s call for removal of the Page as an abuse of Facebook (she specifically asked users to report the page as a TOS violation), Edelstein’s call is not so much an abuse of Facebook as an example of a politician overstepping existing frameworks in an attempt to curb free expression.  What Edelstein did is not unlike what Senator Joe Lieberman did when he called for Amazon to remove Wikileaks from its servers.

My own political leanings aside, I very much believe that the best way to counter offensive speech is with more speech.  I understand why the page calling for a third Palestinian Intifada is offensive to some, just like I understand why the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” page is offensive to others.  Nevertheless, both pages are protected under the First Amendment, and both pages–unless they actually commit incitement to violence–should remain places for controversial speech.

Jillian C. York writes about free expression, politics, and the Internet, with particular focus on the Arab world. Her website is

( / 27.03.2011)

Tension back to Gaza following Israeli airstrike, Jihad vows revenge

GAZA, March 27 (Xinhua) — The atmosphere of tension was back to the Gaza Strip, after an Israeli airstrike hit the Islamic Jihad movement militants, killing two and injuring three, while the group’s armed wing Saraya al-Quds vowed revenge.

Medics and witnesses said two Islamic Jihad militants, Adham Namrooti, 26, and Sabri Assaleya, 22, were killed and three others were wounded early Sunday morning in an Israeli aerial attack on the northern Gaza Strip.

Gaza emergency spokesman Adham Abu Selmeya confirmed the casualties to reporters, adding that the militants were directly hit by an missile fired from an Israeli war jet.

The militants tried to launch rockets at southern Israel, and an Israeli war jet immediately hit them with a missile, witnesses said.

Saraya al-Quds said in a press statement sent to reporters that they will revenge the deaths and “resistance against the enemy will continue in response to its massacres.”

The airstrike was carried out hours after Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip since it seized control of the enclave in June 2007, held a meeting in Gaza with leaders and representatives of several factions and militant groups.

A joint statement issued late Saturday after the meeting said that the factions will be committed to calm with Israel as long as Israel is committed to it. Members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, a main rival of Hamas, didn’t attend the meeting.

Around 14 Palestinians were killed over the past 10 days in a new wave of violence between Israel and Gaza militants, mainly Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The violence erupted after Hamas militants fired dozens of mortar shells at southern Israel to revenge the killing of two of its militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened that the Israeli army would strike harshly on militants to protect the security of its citizens.

Following Sunday’s airstrike, Dawood Shihab, a spokesman of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, told Xinhua that his movement will avenge the killings of the militants, adding that “Our movement respects the local and regional efforts to restore calm, but what Israel has done and the escalation of aggression oblige us to respond.”

“Israel is fully responsible for the escalation, just hours after the factions announced that they respect a national agreement over restoring calm with Israel,” Shihab said, confirming that over the past three days there were local and regional efforts exerted to restore calm in Gaza with Israel.

Abbas earlier met with a senior Hamas delegation in the West Bank city of Ramallah. He urged Hamas leaders to restore calm in the Gaza Strip and avoid more violence in order to prevent any future Israeli aggression on the enclave.

Abbas made the request after Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak threatened that Israel won’t stay silent for the ongoing rocket attacks launched from the Gaza Strip. Barak said over 100 rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel.

Israel launched a three-week military operation coded as Cast Lead on the Gaza Strip in December 2008, after rockets were fired from the enclave at southern Israel. The conflict, which killed around 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis, was ended after Hamas and Israel reached an undeclared truce following an Egyptian mediation. However, militant groups kept firing rockets from Gaza at southern Israel, where Israel responded in limited airstrikes and quick ground operations.

President Jemen treedt toch niet af

De president van Jemen Ali Abdullah Saleh heeft zondag zijn aanbod om voor het einde van het jaar af te treden ingetrokken. Saleh deed het aanbod aan de oppositie vorige week, na een golf van protesten tegen zijn bewind. De tegenstanders van zijn regime wezen het aanbod vorige week onmiddellijk af.

Saleh gaf de afgelopen tijd aan bereid te zijn om snel af te treden en een ordentelijke overdracht van de macht voor te bereiden. Jemen is een belangrijke partner van de Verenigde Staten in de strijd tegen terrorisme. Een aftakking van de terreurorganisatie Al-Qaida heeft een machtsbasis in het zuiden van Jemen.

Jemen dreigt intusse, steeds meer uit elkaar te vallen.In het noorden van het land, in de provincie Saada, hebben sjiitische Houthi-rebellen zich dit weekend onafhankelijk verklaard van het centrale bestuur. Ze stelden een provinciegouverneur aan: Fares Manaa. Het leger zou zich volledig uit de provincie hebben teruggetrokken en hun wapens aan de rebellen overgelaten.

In het zuiden, in de provincie Abjan, konden al-Qaida-aanhangers met geweld een lokaal bestuur veroveren.

In de oostelijke stad Marib overvielen Al-Qaeda-aanhangers een militaire post, waarbij zeven soldaten gedood werden. Volgens Amerikaanse geheime diensten gaat van de Jemenitische Al-Qaida-tak ook een terreurdreiging voor de Verenigde Staten uit.

Intussen klampt de Jemenitische president Ali Abdallah Saleh zich vast aan de macht. Sinds midden februari wordt er bij straatprotesten geijverd voor zijn vertrek. Saleh regeert al dertig jaar in Jemen.

Bij de protesten kwamen officieel zo’n 100 mensen om en raakten minstens 1.000 burgers gewond.

( / 27.03.2011)

Mofaz: We must return to policy of assassinations in Gaza

Foreign Affairs and Defense C’tee chairman says Israel can’t hide behind Iron Dome while life goes on in Gaza; Sderot mayor reiterates need for his city to be protected.

Talkbacks (2)   Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman MK Shaul Mofaz said at a meeting held at Beersheba Municipality on Sunday that Israel must return to the policy of assassinations in the Gaza Strip. “We did it with Rantisi and anyone who decides to harm civilians needs to know that there will be consequences,” Mofaz said.

Mofaz criticized the government’s policy regarding Hamas and said: “Israel can not hide behind the Iron Dome defense system while in Gaza life goes on.”

( / 27.03.2011)

En nadert ontucht niet

woensdag 20 april · 18:30 – 22:00

Stichting as-Soennah (in Opera zalencentrum)

informatieTitel/activiteit: Jongerenavond: En nadert ontucht niet
Spreker: Aboe Ismail
Tijd: 18:30 uur inloop
Organisatie: Stichting as-Soennah (in Opera zalencentrum)
Adres: Fruitweg 28
2525 KH
Plaats: Den Haag
Doelgroep: Iedereen is van harte welkom
Voor contact:

Unrest in Syria and Jordan Poses New Test for U.S. Policy

WASHINGTON — Even as the Obama administration defends the NATO-led air war in Libya, the latest violent clashes in Syria and Jordan are raising new alarm among senior officials who view those countries, in the heartland of the Arab world, as far more vital to American interests.

Medics treated a wounded man, who later died, after security forces fired on protesters on Wednesday in Dara’a, Syria.

Deepening chaos in Syria, in particular, could dash any remaining hopes for a Middle East peace agreement, several analysts said. It could also alter the American rivalry with Iran for influence in the region and pose challenges to the United States’ greatest ally in the region, Israel.

In interviews, administration officials said the uprising appeared to be widespread, involving different religious groups in southern and coastal regions of Syria, including Sunni Muslims usually loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. The new American ambassador in Damascus, Robert Ford, has been quietly reaching out to Mr. Assad to urge him to stop firing on his people.

As American officials confront the upheaval in Syria, a country with which the United States has icy relations, they say they are pulled between fears that its problems could destabilize neighbors like Lebanon and Israel, and the hope that it could weaken one of Iran’s key allies.

The Syrian unrest continued on Saturday, with government troops reported to have killed more protesters.

With 61 people confirmed killed by security forces, the country’s status as an island of stability amid the Middle East storm seemed irretrievably lost.

For two years, the United States has tried to coax Damascus into negotiating a peace deal with Israel and to moving away from Iran — a fruitless effort that has left President Obama open to criticism on Capitol Hill that he is bolstering one of the most repressive regimes in the Arab world.

Officials fear the unrest there and in Jordan could leave Israel further isolated. The Israeli government was already rattled by the overthrow of Egypt’s leader, Hosni Mubarak, worrying that a new government might not be as committed to Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

While Israel has largely managed to avoid being drawn into the region’s turmoil, last week’s bombing of a bus in Jerusalem, which killed one person and wounded 30, and a rain of rocket attacks from Gaza, have fanned fears that the militant group Hamas is trying to exploit the uncertainty.

The unrest in Jordan, which has its own peace treaty with Israel, is also extremely worrying, a senior administration official said. The United States does not believe Jordan is close to a tipping point, this official said. But the clashes, which left one person dead and more than a hundred wounded, pose the gravest challenge yet to King Abdullah II, a close American ally.

Syria, however, is the more urgent crisis — one that could pose a thorny dilemma for the administration if Mr. Assad carries out a crackdown like that of his father and predecessor, Hafez al-Assad, who ordered a bombardment in 1982 that killed at least 10,000 people in the northern city of Hama. Having intervened in Libya to prevent a wholesale slaughter in Benghazi, some analysts asked, how could the administration not do the same in Syria?

Though no one is yet talking about a no-fly zone over Syria, Obama administration officials acknowledge the parallels to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Some analysts predicted the administration will be cautious in pressing Mr. Assad, not because of any allegiance to him but out of a fear of what could follow him — a Sunni-led government potentially more radical and Islamist than his Alawite minority government.

Still, after the violence, administration officials said Mr. Assad’s future was unclear. “Whatever credibility the government had, they shot it today — literally,” a senior official said about Syria, speaking on the condition that he not be named.

In the process, he said, Mr. Assad had also probably disqualified himself as a peace partner for Israel. Such a prospect had seemed a long shot in any event — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has shown no inclination to talk to Mr. Assad — but the administration kept working at it, sending its special envoy, George J. Mitchell, on several visits to Damascus.

Mr. Assad has said that he wants to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel. But with his population up in arms, analysts said, he might actually have an incentive to pick a fight with its neighbor, if only to deflect attention from the festering problems at home.

“You can’t have a comprehensive peace without Syria,” the administration official said. “It’s definitely in our interest to pursue an agreement, but you can’t do it with a government that has no credibility with its population.”

Indeed, the crackdown calls into question the entire American engagement with Syria. Last June, the State Department organized a delegation from Microsoft, Dell and Cisco Systems to visit Mr. Assad with the message that he could attract more investment if he stopped censoring Facebook and Twitter. While the administration renewed economic sanctions against Syria, it approved export licenses for some civilian aircraft parts.

The Bush administration, by contrast, largely shunned Damascus, recalling its ambassador in February 2005 after the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri. Many Lebanese accuse Syria of involvement in the assassination, a charge it denies.

When Mr. Obama named Mr. Ford as his envoy last year, Republicans in the Senate held up the appointment for months, arguing that the United States should not reward Syria with closer ties. The administration said it would have more influence by restoring an ambassador.

But officials also concede that Mr. Assad has been an endless source of frustration — deepening ties with Iran and the Islamic militant group Hezbollah; undermining the government of Saad Hariri in Lebanon; pursuing a nuclear program; and failing to deliver on promises of reform.

Some analysts said that the United States was so eager to use Syria to break the deadlock on Middle East peace negotiations that it had failed to push Mr. Assad harder on political reforms.

“He’s given us nothing, even though we’ve engaged him on the peace process,” said Andrew J. Tabler, who lived in Syria for a decade and is now at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “I’m not saying we should give up on peace talks with Israel, but we cannot base our strategy on that.”

The United States does not have the leverage with Syria it had with Egypt. But Mr. Tabler said the administration could stiffen sanctions to press Mr. Assad to make reforms.

Other analysts, however, point to a positive effect of the unrest: it could deprive Iran of a reliable ally in extending its influence over Lebanon, Hezbollah and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

That is not a small thing, they said, given that Iran is likely to benefit from the fall of Mr. Mubarak in Egypt, the upheaval in Bahrain, and the resulting chill between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

“There’s much more upside than downside for the U.S.,” said Martin S. Indyk, the vice president for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. “We have an interest in counterbalancing the advantages Iran has gained in the rest of the region. That makes it an unusual confluence of our values and interests.”

( / 27.03.2011)

Depleted uranium: a strange way to protect Libyan civilians

In the first 24 hours of the Libyan attack, US B-2s dropped forty-five 2,000-pound bombs. These massive bombs, along with the Cruise missiles launched from British and French planes and ships, all contained depleted uranium (DU) warheads.

DU is the waste product from the process of enriching uranium ore. It is used in nuclear weapons and reactors. Because it is a very heavy substance, 1.7 times denser than lead, it is highly valued by the military for its ability to punch through armored vehicles and buildings. When a weapon made with a DU tip strikes a solid object like the side of a tank, it goes straight through it, then erupts in a burning cloud of vapor. The vapor settles as dust, which is not only poisonous, but also radioactive.

An impacting DU missile burns at 10,000 degrees C. When it strikes a target, 30% fragments into shrapnel. The remaining 70% vaporises into three highly-toxic oxides, including uranium oxide. This black dust remains suspended in the air and, according to wind and weather, can travel over great distances. If you think Iraq and Libya are far away, remember that radiation from Chernobyl reached Wales.

Particles less than 5 microns in diameter are easily inhaled and may remain in the lungs or other organs for years. Internalized DU can cause kidney damage, cancers of the lung and bone, skin disorders, neurocognitive disorders, chromosome damage, immune deficiency syndromes and rare kidney and bowel diseases. Pregnant women exposed to DU may give birth to infants with genetic defects. Once the dust has vaporised, don’t expect the problem to go away soon. As an alpha particle emitter, DU has a half life of 4.5 billion years.

In the ‘shock and awe’ attack on Iraq, more than 1,500 bombs and missiles were dropped on Baghdad alone. Seymour Hersh has claimed that the US Third Marine Aircraft Wing alone dropped more than “five hundred thousand tons of ordnance”. All of it DU-tipped.

Al Jazeera reported that invading US forces fired two hundred tons of radioactive material into buildings, homes, streets and gardens of Baghdad. A reporter from the Christian Science Monitor took a Geiger counter to parts of the city that had been subjected to heavy shelling by US troops. He found radiation levels 1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal in residential areas. With its population of 26 million, the US dropped a one-ton bomb for every 52 Iraqi citizens or 40 pounds of explosives per person.

William Hague has said that we are in Libya ” to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas”.You don’t have to look far for who and what are being ‘protected’.

In that first 24 hours the ‘Allies’ ‘expended’ £100 million on DU-tipped ordnance. The European Union’s arms control report said member states issued licences in 2009 for the sale of £293.2 million worth of weapons and weapons systems to Libya. Britain issued arms firms licences for the sale of £21.7 million worth of weaponry to Libya and were also paid by Colonel Gadaffi to send the SAS to train his 32nd Brigade.

For the next 4.5 billion years, I’ll bet that William Hague will not be holidaying in North Africa.

( / 27.03.2011)

Israel air strike kills 2 in Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli warplanes fired missiles at the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza on Sunday morning, killing two Palestinian fighters and injuring three others.

Medics at the Kamal Udwan Hospital identified one of those killed as Sabri Hashim Asaliyya, a recently-married nurse.Asaliyya, 26, and Radwan Namrouti, also 26, were both later identified by Islamic Jihad’s military wing as fighters.

The Al-Quds Brigades confirmed that two of its fighters were killed in an attack on the northern Gaza Strip, a statement said, noting both were from the An-Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

Ma’an’s reporter said Islamic Jihad’s supporters announced the death of two fighters through loudspeakers on vehicles in Jabalia’s streets.

According to medics, the group of men were hit by a missile fired from an Israeli reconnaissance plane on As-Sikka Street east of the camp.

In a statement, the Israeli military said it identified “a group of rocket launchers preparing to fire a rocket” in the northern Gaza Strip and fired at them.

A hit was confirmed, the statement added.

The attack came less than 24 hours after Palestinian factions offered a truce if Israel’s military stopped bombarding the Gaza Strip.

The latest strike brought the death toll in the coastal enclave to at least 12, including civilians and children, over the last week. More than 50 have been injured.

Israel’s army says it is responding to projectiles fired by militants in Gaza, which have injured one Israeli over the last week.

( / 27.03.2011)

Days of Revolution

Every time there is repression, it gives birth to revolution. The people of the Middle East are under repression for too long. Too many years we have suffered the dictators who exercised their own will upon the masses. They subjugated us, denied our rights and exploited us. The West is vocal about democracy but when it came to Middle East they preferred silence and co-operated intimately with those dictators. This double standard made us realize something has to be done. We all were waiting for a spark that would ignite us. We knew the time is neigh to break our cocoon and set ourselves free from this oppression.

I am Roba Salipi. I live in Gaza strip, Palestine. Gaza is now under siege from land, sea and air by the “world’s most moral army” who killed 1400 people including over 350 innocent children in the last war. I have been there when the bombs were falling like acid rains. Whenever there was an explosion I used to close my eyes and thought I won’t live to see another day light. But here I am speaking to you. I survived. But one of my friend wasn’t so lucky. She was killed along with 3 of her other cousins because of shells fired by the Israel Defense (!) Force. We are still in a blockade and the international community seems to be deaf, dumb and blind to do anything about it.  The only way we can end the blockade and fight for a liberated Palestine is by being united. But sadly our political parties are deeply divided. There is anger and mistrust between them which is ruining our freedom movement. Despite the political division, every Palestinian aspires for freedom. All we were waiting for was an inspiration from somewhere perhaps.

Something happened very suddenly. There was a sudden uprising in Tunisia. They succeeded to get rid of their dictator. Egypt was next to follow. I watched with enthusiasm when a young girl in Tahrir Square said “We will make the change” in a firm and determined voice. I was amazed to see how a young girl could find such courage to speak in public like that. I started to believe in the spirit of youth. If we all can speak against injustice, than Middle East could be a much better place. I begin to realize youths are a part of the society and should share the responsibilities. It is how we could bring the changes. Young people leading the protests in Tahrir square stood their ground for 23 long days despite many difficulties. They were not tired or afraid because they had a cause to defend and a reality to change. Soon revolution was ignited in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Palestine.

The interesting part behind all these movement was the involvement of the social media. People started to speak up their mind in blogs, Facebook, Twitter or Youtube. Some youths here in Palestine started to talk about ending the division between the political parties. There were groups in Facebook who wanted to start this change on March 15. As the days went by more and more people started to show enthusiasm. On March 15, I went to the protests along with all my family members and friends in my Palestinian traditional dress. Mao Tse-Tung said, “Revolution is not a dinner party, not an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery; it cannot be advanced softly, gradually, carefully, considerately, respectfully, politely, plainly and modestly.” I learned it on that day. While we were peacefully protesting with our Palestinian flags we were attacked by Hamas supporters. I don’t understand why they thought our movement is a threat to them. Many people who participated in the protests were beaten including woman. Many were arrested. One of my cousins was injured in her leg. My sister was trapped in an UN building while protesting. I was chased by the pro Hamas supporters as I was taking pictures of their violent crack down on us. Things were going against us, but that is how revolution is I guess. We aimed to unite the whole Palestine under one flag, the national green, white, black and red one. Not just a green flag that of Hamas, or a yellow flag of Fatah or a red flag of PFLP. Perhaps we have to deal with the biggest revolution of all. We have to win over our own people before we can fight against the injustice of Israel.

As we are continuing our struggle for the freedom of our people here, many people have been killed in Bahrain, Yemen and Libya. I don’t know when we will have the victory but I have faith that, when truth collides with falsehood, falsehood perishes because falsehood by its nature is bound to perish. I hope and dream for a day when every people of the world would be able to live their life with dignity and honor, enjoying their freedom and there would be peace in the land.

(This article is co-written by my friend Roba Salipi and me, just after the March 15 protests all over Palestine.)

(Found on Facebook / 27.03.2011)