Obama’s hidden war: US intensifies drone attacks in Pakistan

MIRAMSHAH, Pakistan — Based here in the remote, weathered hills of North Waziristan, is the Haqqani Network, a group of insurgents closely aligned with the Taliban that has long provided a safe haven for Al Qaeda.

The Haqqani Network is believed to be one of the greatest threats to U.S.-led NATO forces operating in neighboring Afghanistan.

This is a region ruled by tribal law and allegiances, making it difficult for even a Pakistani from outside to travel freely. It is a Wild West where everyone is watching everyone else, a semi-autonomous region where, according to the country’s constitution, normal judicial and criminal laws don’t apply.

There are no police here, no army and no courts. Pashtunwali, a centuries-old tribal code, rules day-to-day life and is the law of land. All disputes are resolved through a Jirga, an assembly of community elders, whose word is final.

Security analysts say North Waziristan is the most important route for militants moving back and forth across the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where they persistently attack NATO troops. And before Osama bin Laden died in a neighborhood not far from Islamabad, North Waziristan is where many thought he would be hiding.

“If America wants to stay in Afghanistan, or safeguard its interests in case of a proposed pull-out, it has to tame North Waziristan”

~Shafiq Ahmed, a former Pakistani army general

U.S. President Barack Obama has long claimed that winning the war in Afghanistan will require that this region — and the Haqqani Network that rules it from the shadows — be brought back into the fold. The Haqqani Network is thought to command about 3,000 trained militants.

“If America wants to stay in Afghanistan, or safeguard its interests in case of a proposed pull-out, it has to tame North Waziristan,” said retired Maj. Gen. Shafiq Ahmed, a Lahore-based security analyst.

So Obama — who made winning the war in Afghanistan and catching bin Laden two of his central campaign promises in 2008 — has stepped up the use of unmanned drones in North Waziristan. The drones are operated by the Central Intelligence Agency and were first authorized by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2004.

The first drone attack here targeted Taliban commander Moulvi Naik Muhammad on June 18, 2004. It was the only attack that year. Since then, there have been 246 more and every year since they have increased in frequency. In 2008, 38 drone strikes were recorded. In 2009, there were 52 and in 2010 there were 132.

While some believed the killing of bin Laden might lead to a halt in drone attacks in the area, the strikes have only grown more regular. There have been seven bombings since the raid in Abbottabad took place.

The most recent struck on May 20, killing four people. Another, on May 16, killed nine people here — all of whom are thought to have been militants. On May 6, a U.S. drone attack struck Datta Khel, also in North Waziristan, killing 15 people. And on May 10, another drone attack killed four people, all of whom officials said were militants. Seven civilians were wounded.

On April 21, in one of the deadliest attacks of late, at least 25 people were killed in North Waziristan following a U.S. drone attack. The missile struck a large compound in the town of Spinwam. Five women and four children were among the victims.

According to Pakistani intelligence sources, more than 2,200 people have been killed in drone attacks since 2004. It’s hard to know how many of those deaths have been civilians. But even by the most conservative estimates, about 50 percent of the casualties are thought to have been civilians.

Before the drone attacks began in earnest, the Obama administration had tried to pressure the fragile Pakistani government to launch a full-fledged military offensive in North Waziristan with little success.

Despite the importance of the region to the war in Afghanistan, now in its 10th year, a series of visits by top U.S. officials — including Vice President Joe Biden and Chief of Central Command Adm. Mike Mullen — was not able to coax Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership to fight back.

Pakistan says that its 60,000 troops are already engaged in operations against Taliban forces in South Waziristan, the tourist valley of Swat and other regions of the country — not to mention along its border with longtime enemy India. It says it’s not in a position to open a new front.

Left with little choice, the Obama administration has increasingly depended on the unmanned drones, which are launched from Afghanistan, to strike Haqqani, Taliban and Al Qaeda militants operating in North Waziristan.

The strategy has triggered a public falling out between the two countries. Coupled with the shooting in Lahore by CIA operative Raymond Davis that killed two Pakistanis — and his subsequent arrest and detention — Pakistani officials have increasingly taken a tougher stance, at least publicly, on U.S. transgressions on their soil.

The relationship was further strained by the killing of bin Laden by U.S. Navy SEALs outside of Islamabad on May 2.

On May 14, Pakistani lawmakers, in their harshest language yet, demanded a halt to the drone attacks and threatened to cut off a key NATO ground route that is used to supply troops in Afghanistan if they continued.

Like with the raid on bin Laden’s hideout, Pakistan has always publicly claimed that it has had no prior knowledge of the attacks and regularly condemns the United States for them. Some political analysts and Pakistani intelligence officials, however, say that the Pakistan government has given the United States the green light in exchange for plausible deniability.

Analysts believe Pakistan wants simply to protect itself from a public that is increasingly frustrated by the presence of the CIA in Pakistan and by the large numbers of civilian causalities caused by the drone attacks.

“Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership does not want to be the center of hatred not only within Pakistan … but also in the Arab world,” said Najam Sethi, a Pakistani political analyst.

The United States, for its part, has claimed some success in dismantling Pakistani militant networks using the targeted drone attacks. But the civilian casualties, including women and children, have complicated the allegiances of a population that has in the past tried to keep its head down and avoid taking sides.

Many experts fear that the civilian deaths could ultimately serve only to bolster the ranks of militants wishing to target the United States and its allies. They also fear it could threaten a counterterrorism strategy — penned by Gen. David Petraeus, who is now heading up the mission in Afghanistan but will, at the end of the year, take over the reins at the CIA — that values winning hearts and minds above victory by force.

(www.globalpost.com / 29.05.2011)

Israeli Soldiers Demolish Water Wells, Arrest Palestinians in Jenin

ENIN, May 29, 2011 (WAFA)- Israeli Bulldozers Sunday demolished eight  artesian wells in Kafr Dan, a village northwest of Jenin as well as they arrested a number of Palestinians who resisted them, according to security sources.

Witnesses said that large forces of Israeli soldiers and two bulldozers accompanied by the so-called Israeli Water Authority raided the village, demolished water wells, destroyed crops and arrested who ever tried to resist these brutal measures.

One of the villagers, Nu’man Mara’ie, told WAFA that the Israeli soldiers bulldozed and destroying water wells, after notifying their owners that they will close 13 artesian wells  under the  pretext of ‘ not having permits to dig them’.

Governor of Jenin, Qadura Mussa, condemned these terrorist and aggressive acts, which coincide with the farmers’ harvest, calling on humanitarian and human rights organizations to intervene and end such acts.

(english.wafa.ps / 29.05.2011)

Morocco protests dispersed violently

Club wielding Moroccan police riding motorcycles drove into crowds of thousands of demonstrators in the country’s largest city to disperse a protest by pro-democracy activists on Sunday.

A similar protest organised by the pro-reform February 20 movement in the capital’s twin city of Sale on Sunday also was violently disrupted, as was a demonstration in front of parliament a day earlier.

With a hand-picked commission set to recommend amendments to the constitution as part of King Mohammed VI’s own reform process, authorities are showing no tolerance for demonstrations by activists.

“What we want is freedom, dignity and democracy, as well as a decent standard of living,” said Omar, a civil servant who tried to take part in the Casablanca protests before it was dispersed. “We want a democratic, popular constitution,” he said, as opposed to one designed by appointees of the king.

Phalanxes of police motorcycles cruised through the main roads and back streets of Casablanca’s lower income Sbata neighbourhood, scattering any attempts by the protesters to regroup.

Heavily armoured riot police were also deployed throughout the neighbourhood blocking streets to cars and discouraging people from congregating in large groups. There were no official reports of the number of injured.

About an hour after the activists had been dispersed, a few dozen teenage residents of the neighbourhood organised their own pro-government demonstration. “Mohammed VI is our only king,” they chanted, while police looked on.

(www.3news.co.nz / 29.05.2011)

Does Israel seek War or Peace?

Gaza, (Pal Telegraph) – Successive Israeli governments have failed to achieve peace with the Palestinians. The reasons were sometimes vague, while in other times they were crystal clear. It was after the killing of Yitzhak Rabin that a lack of vision became dominant in the Israeli political arena and Israeli erosion of that which he agreed upon in Oslo.  Various pretexts were given and responsibility for their failure was placed on the shoulders of Palestinians, while it was Israel who in fact did not choose peace.

The current Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, refused to continue with the peace process when he held the post in 1996.  Not surprisingly, he is repeating himself today by burying the two-state solution and any hope for peace.

It is clear that Israel was never interested in peace. When Yassir Arafat was in charge of Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel said he is no partner. America and the EU pressured him to create prime minster post, which he did and appointed Mahmoud Abbas.  Abbas became the prime mister, yet they continued to refuse the idea of peace. Yassir Arafat was killed and Abbas became the  president. President Abbas negotiated with Israel but, alas, nothing happened. Then, they said that Palestinians were not ready for peace. Hamas came to power in 2006 and Israel again said there was no partner for peace. Hamas and Fatih fought each other and negotiations took place, yet there still was no peace. Now, Hamas and Fatih are united again.  Israel and the US say that peace will never happen due to reconciliation.

Each and every time Israel made it clear that peace was not its priority. The intention here is not to attack Israel, but merely to present the facts. The entire time the aforementioned peace process was on-going or there were negotiations regarding the resumption of peace, Israel continued with its settlement expansion.  More settlements were built, lands were stolen and a tight apartheid wall was built.  People were and continue to be ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem, while the Judisation of the city takes place.

For almost 5 years now, Israel imposes a harsh siege on the population of Gaza. The siege is causing new generations to be raised in poverty, fear and trauma of Israeli warfare. Yet, Israel speaks of peace. What are we expecting from a new traumatized generation in Gaza?

Undoubtedly, the region is nearing a full-scale confrontation and Israel is trying to push the Palestinians into a corner, not leaving anything for them. It has rejected both one and two state solutions; it has refused all solutions that allow Palestinian refugees to return; and, it has besieged the people and launched wars over Gaza and led raids on West Bank cities.

Ironically, Israel sounds happy about the Arab pro-democracy revolutions.  Yet it ignores the aspiration of those people. Their aspirations include not only toppling their dictators, but also bringing an end to the injustice suffered by the Palestinians.  With the absence of any readiness toward peace from Israel, the scale of confrontation will be far wider than we ever expected.

By Sameh A. Habeeb

Palestinian Journalist from the Gaza Strip and Founder of Palestine Telegraph Journalist

(networkedblogs.com / 29.05.2011)

Yemen rebel generals: Saleh let Abyan fall

Dissident generals on Sunday accused Yemen’s embattled president of surrendering Abyan province to “terrorists” after suspected Al-Qaeda militants took its capital, and called for others to defect.

A security official said that more than 200 suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen seized control of the southern city of Zinjibar, Abyan’s capital, in fighting that has left 21 dead.

In “Statement Number One,” the generals led by General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar accused President Ali Abdullah Saleh of “surrendering Abyan to an armed terrorist group” and urged army forces “to join the peaceful popular revolution.”

They also called on the army to fight the “terrorists” in Abyan.

Several generals, including Ahmar who commands troops that control part of Sanaa, have pledged support for protesters calling for Saleh to quit.

But the Republican Guards and other elite units commanded by Saleh family members have remained loyal.

Police on Sunday shot dead four anti-regime protesters and wounded dozens more in Yemen’s second largest city of Taez, south of Sanaa, medics said.

The “Youth of the Revolution” group said about 3,000 people gathered outside a police station to demand the release of a detained protester and that police fired into the crowd when they refused to leave, killing three.

A fourth demonstrator was shot dead in the city’s nearby Tahrir Square.

The security official and witnesses said Zinjibar had fallen to militants who may be Al-Qaeda fighters.

The fighters “were able to gain control of the city of Zinjibar… and took over all government facilities,” except for the 25th mechanised brigade headquarters which is besieged by militants, the security official said.

Witnesses said gunmen were still battling members of the besieged brigade.

“We will fight until the last bullet, and we will not surrender to the gunmen who killed our colleagues,” a brigade officer reached by telephone said.

A medic said five civilians were killed and 15 wounded in shelling between the brigade and suspected Al-Qaeda fighters on Sunday.

Residents reported heavy fighting in Zinjibar on Friday and Saturday, and said the attackers had freed dozens of prisoners from the main jail.

One witness said on condition of anonymity that the gunmen executed soldiers who surrendered, and that residents were not able to bury them.

“Most of the residents of Zinjibar have left,” another said.

Nazir Ahmed Said, who fled to the south’s main city Aden, told AFP he left because Zinjibar “is under the control of gunmen who say they are from Al-Qaeda.”

The security official, who said he was among the last security officials to quit Zinjibar, estimated that more than 200 militants had attacked the city.

“The lack of concern from the authorities is unfortunate,” he said, adding that “the leadership in Abyan province left the area before it exploded.”

Five soldiers and a civilian were killed on Friday, two other security officials said, and Zinjibar residents said they found the bodies of 10 soldiers, bringing the toll from the fighting there to at least 21.

One official said that another two soldiers were killed on Friday in clashes with suspected Al-Qaeda militants in Loder, also in Abyan province.

In a statement, the Common Forum parliamentary opposition coalition blamed Saleh for the situation in Zinjibar, but said he had “delivered Zinjibar to groups that he has formed and armed, to continue to utilise the spectre of Al-Qaeda to frighten regional and international parties.”

Since January, Saleh has faced protests calling for him to stand down after 33 years in office.

On May 22, he refused to sign a Gulf Cooperation Council-sponsored accord that would have seen him cede power within 30 days in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

The following day, fighting erupted in Sanaa between security forces and followers of opposition tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, who heads the powerful Hashid federation.

Ahmar’s fighters seized various government buildings between May 23 and 26, but on Sunday began vacating them following tribal mediation mediator Sheikh Abdullah Badr al-Din told AFP.

Several buildings were heavily damaged in Al-Hasaba area where the fighting was centred, including Ahmar’s residence, the interior ministry, the official news agency Saba and the offices of the Yemenia national airline, an AFP correspondent said.

In other areas of Sanaa, roadblocks were set up by forces loyal to the president and by dissident army units, with both deploying heavy armour and machine guns.

(www.rnw.nl / 29.05.2011)

International Human Rights Help (IHRH)

International Human Rights Help (IHRH) – the name of the new org. It’s the first project of the medical aid convoy to Gaza.

We are looking for volunteers who want to go to Gaza and to participate in this venture, as well as sponsors.

For more information, please write to me on email:

malgorzataczil@hotmail.com or raefel@web.de

 

الجمعية الخيرية (IHRH تعلن عن اول مشروع لها وهوقافلة مساعدات طبية إلى غزة. نحن نبحث عن المتطوعين الذين يريدون الذهاب الى غزة والمشاركة في هذا المشروع , و بحاجة لتبرعات لتنفيذ هذا العمل

لمزيد من المعلومات ، يرجى الكتابة لي على البريد الالكتروني :

malgorzataczil@hotmail.com او raefel@web.de

 

International Human Rights Help (IHRH) – nazwa nowej organizacji. Jest to pierwszy projekt w postaci pomocy medycznej poprzez konwój dla Strefy Gazy.

Szukam chętnych, którzy chcą pojechać do Gazy i uczestniczyć w tym przedsięwzięciu, jak i również sponsorów.

Aby uzyskać więcej informacji, proszę pisać do mnie na email: malgorzataczil@hotmail.com ; raefel@web.de

 

International Human Rights Help (IHRH) – der Name des neuen org. Es ist das erste Projekt des medizinischen Hilfskonvoi nach Gaza.

Wir suchen nach Freiwilligen, die mit nach Gaza gehen und in diesem Projekt teilnehmen möchten, sowie Sponsoren.

Für weitere Informationen schreiben Sie mir bitte über E-Mail:

malgorzataczil@hotmail.com oder raefel@web.de

 

ΔΙΕΘΝΗΣ ΒΟΗΘΕΙΑ ΑΝΘΡΩΠΙΝΩΝ ΔΙΚΑΙΩΜΑΤΩΝ (IHRH) – το όνομα του νέου org. Είναι το πρώτο πρόγραμμα ομάδας-συνοδείας ιατρικής βοήθειας στην Γάζα.

Ψάχνουμε για εθελοντές που θέλουν να πάνε στην Γάζα και να συμμετάσχουν σε αυτό το εγχείρημα, καθώς επίσης και χορηγούς.

Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες, παρακαλώ γράψτε μου στο: malgorzataczil@hotmail.com ; raefel@web.de

 

(Facebook / 29.05.2011)

Israeli forces shoot Palestinian in Gaza

Israeli forces shoot Palestinian in GazaA Palestinian citizens was injured Sunday as Israeli military forces opened fire at him in the east of al-Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza city.

Adham Abu Silmya, medical emergency spokesman, said that the man was hit in his right leg by Israeli gunfire near Malaka juncture in al-Zeitoun neighborhood .

He added that medical teams evacuated the man to Al-Shifaa hospital in Gaza city to receive medication; his health condition was described as moderate.

Israel regularly struck targets near the borders with Gaza strip in an attempt to halt rocket attacks lunched by Palestinian fighters in response to the ongoing Israeli  violations against residents of the besieged strip.

(gazatvnews.com / 29.05.2011)

Palestinian Activist Says Obama Speech “Irrelevant”

AUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington. And in Washington on Thursday, President Obama delivered what he said was a new vision for US foreign policy in the Middle East. Here’s what he had to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

BARACK OBAMA, US PRESIDENT: The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves and reach their full potential in a sovereign and contiguous state. As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself by itself against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state.

JAY: Now joining us from Ramallah, Palestine, to give his views on President Obama’s speech is Omar Barghouti. Omar is independent Palestinian researcher, commentator, and human rights activist. He’s a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and a Palestinian civil society boycott, disinvestment, and sanctions campaign against Israel. So, Omar, what is your reaction to the speech in general, and then more specifically about Israel and Palestine?

OMAR BARGHOUTI, INDEPENDENT PALESTINIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: I just want to comment on one specific line in this speech which may say it all. President Obama said that the Arab democratic spring has made al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden irrelevant even before he was executed by US forces. There’s another person who has become almost irrelevant by the Arab democratic spring, and that’s President Obama. I don’t know how long it will take him to realize that, but he’s becoming less and less relevant to people in the region. As everyone in the West was waiting by their TVs to watch him, hardly anyone cared in our region, in our part of the world–maybe Netanyahu, and maybe Mahmoud Abbas. But for most people I know of, including commentators, analysts, and so on, hardly anyone cared, really, what Obama had to say, because (A) no one expected him to say anything new, and, lo and behold, he did not say anything really new. Two, even if he said something new, who cares?

JAY: You say what President Obama says is somewhat irrelevant in the region, but at the same time, the United States is still a major funder to Israel, and both in terms of money and military support; also for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries–Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and so on. It’s still the behemoth in the region. So why wouldn’t people care what President Obama has to say?

BARGHOUTI: Oh, absolutely. No one is denying that the US is the main partner of Israel in committing its crimes against Palestinians and other Arabs. No one denies that US complicity is the reason why we have so many dictatorships in our region. So no one is denying that. But I’m saying no one has held his or her breath waiting for Obama to give us anything positive that can help the democratic social justice spring in the Arab world, and least of all in the occupied Palestinian territory. The fact that Arab peoples are taking initiative on their own and deposing regimes that have been supported by the US administrations for decades says it all, really, that the US administration does not realize that it is not part of the solution. It has not been part of the Arab revolutionary changes. In fact, those changes were very much against US establishment’s interests in the region, ’cause those dictators have been serving US interests, the establishment interests, very well, not the people’s interests, in the US.

JAY: Well, do you think there’s some recognition of this fact that this has been the history of US foreign policy in the region and that President Obama’s saying it’s time for a new vision? And here’s an example of at least the kind of words he was using.

OBAMA: So we face a historic opportunity. We have the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator. There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be. Of course, as we do, we must proceed with a sense of humility. It’s not America that put people into the streets of Tunis or Cairo. It was the people themselves who launched these movements, and it is the people themselves that must ultimately determine their outcome. Not every country will follow our particular form of representative democracy, and there will be times when our short-term interests don’t align perfectly with our long-term vision for the region. But we can and we will speak up for a set of core principles, principles that have guided our response to the events over the past six months. The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region.

JAY: So do you think that at least this is a different kind of positioning?

BARGHOUTI: You know, that doesn’t work with Arabs in general. We don’t fall for that, because he got interested in the vendor when the vendor won over the dictator. He was with the dictator up to the very last minute, when he was actually flying out of Tunisia. Only then did the White House take any position that’s slightly positive. Same with Mubarak, the dictator of Egypt. With Israeli influence, the US kept supporting Mubarak up to really the very last minute, when they saw that he’s crumbling, his regime is crumbling. And only then they started to speak a bit positively about the Egyptian popular revolution. So the fact is, no thanks to any US role in any of these Arab revolutions–in fact, if anything, the US has played a very negative role. So the best thing that President Obama can do for the region is just leave us alone. We can build democracy on our own. We’ve seen how you, the US administration, builds democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. No, thank you. That’s not the kind of democracy we need.

JAY: In his speech, President Obama spoke about the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah. Here’s a clip of that.

OBAMA: And particularly, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel. How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist? And in the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question.

JAY: So President Obama seems to be saying something that’s certainly quite different than Netanyahu’s saying, which is that Hamas possibly could be included in these negotiations, something that Netanyahu’s made very clear is absolute no to them. Obama says they’re going to have to answer these questions about Hamas’s unwillingness to recognize Israel. But it’s not the kind of language, certainly, you would have heard perhaps from a President Bush that simply would have called Hamas terrorist. So does this reflect a different position, then, by the US from Israel?

BARGHOUTI: Well, in your question, you’re assuming that the US position is identical to Israel’s. And that’s in fact true, and that is the problem. Instead of talking what Hamas and Fatah should answer to Israel, he never mentions that while Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state–and that’s the key, and I’ll talk about that later–Israel is wiping out our existence in reality, concretely, on the ground. Forget about verbal recognition. Israel does not just not recognize our right to exist; it is actually disappearing us as we speak. As President Obama is speaking, Israel is ethnically cleansing more and more Palestinians, building more colonies on occupied territories, and denying our refugees the right to return, and carrying on with its apartheid policies in Israel, passing more and more racist laws. So they’re disappearing the Palestinians as President Obama is so concerned about a verbal recognition of Israel’s right to exist. Having said that, what does that sentence mean? President Obama again reiterated his new position, which was not the position of Clinton, say, or even presidents before then, that Israel should be a Jewish state, and he repeated that and said a state of the Jewish people. Is he willing to say that the US is a state of the Christian people? What would people feel if President Obama had said that? What does it mean for Palestinians who’ve been ethnically cleansed from today’s Israel and Palestinians who today live in Israel with Israeli citizenship, when somebody, a president of another country that’s a partner in Israeli crimes, says that your country shall not be yours, it will be the state of the Jewish people? He’s reducing us not just to second-class citizens; he’s reducing us to nonexistent citizens. If the US were a state of the Christian people, Jews in the US, Muslims, Hindus, atheists would have no room in that state. A state based on equal rights for all should not agree that any other state has a right, a divine right, to be an ethnocentric state, a racist, exclusivist state.

JAY: So this speech was billed as being directed at least partly towards the Arab peoples, the Palestinian people, and to show that the American state is on the side of this Arab Spring, Arab uprising. Will it resonate in that way with the Arab people?

BARGHOUTI: A very negative resonance, I suspect. He fell into all the traps that people expected him to, coming across as the most biased president to Israel’s interests so far, the most biased US president so far, maybe after Bush junior, coming across as offering some bribes to the Egyptian revolution–I’ll wipe out $1 billion in debts and I’ll give you another $1 billion. Well, you were privy to the fact that the dictator Mubarak was stealing billions and billions, some say tens of billions of dollars, most of it invested in the US for 30 years, and you had nothing to say about that. And now you’re offering the Egyptian revolution $1 billion and some entrepreneur’s support system in Congress. I mean, really, what does President Obama think of the Arab people, regardless of his rhetoric?

JAY: To be fair, there was one statement in his speech that said that the United States would assist in recovering stolen assets. One assumes he meant Mubarak. I guess now we’ll see how real that is.

BARGHOUTI: But, I mean, he misses the point about the Arab revolutions. It’s not just about a vendor who lost his dignity. It’s about people asking for social justice. And this is the term that he ignored completely. It’s about democracy, freedom, and social justice. Social justice, by definition, means that US and Western pillage, the exploitation of the resources of the region, have to come to an end. We have to rise as economic powers. Egypt has to rise as an economic power based on its own resources and its own people’s capacities, not upon US dictates, not benefiting Google, Intel, and Northrup Grumman, but benefiting Egyptian people, Egyptian companies, and so on. So trying to bribe the current Egyptian leadership, which is not yet elected leadership, with a couple of billion dollars is really too little too late and missing the point completely about the Egyptian revolution.

JAY: Thanks very much for joining us, Omar.

BARGHOUTI: Thank you.

JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

(therealnews.com / 29.05.2011)