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Cairo holds massive anti-Israel rally

Press TV – April 27, 2011

Thousands of Egyptian Protesters have gathered in front of the Israeli embassy in the capital Cairo demanding an end to ties with the Tel Aviv regime.

The demonstration originated from the nearby Cairo University.

The protesters demanded that the Egyptian government abruptly sever all ties with Israel.

The protesters have also called for a freeze on all gas exports to Tel Aviv.

They have threatened to continue massive protest rallies if the current government does not move to cut off ties with the Israeli regime.

The new development is the latest in a series of major protest rallies that led to the downfall of the decades-long ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Under the US-backed Mubarak regime, Egypt consistently served Israeli interests and objectives by helping to impose a total blockade on the impoverished Gaza strip after the democratically elected Hamas government took control of the territory in 2007. The crippling blockade on the territory has triggered a humanitarian crisis.

A major Egyptian political party, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), has recently demanded that the country’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces takes immediate measures in breaking the siege of Gaza.

Egypt’s political parties say the Gaza blockade serves American and Israeli objectives in the region and threatens regional stability and independence.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials have been repeatedly threatening to launch a fresh major offensive against Gaza.

The Israelis boast that the next Gaza onslaught could be even more destructive than the previous one at the turn of 2009, which killed over 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians, including many women and children.

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | 1 Comment

NATO’s Kosovo Air War Redux

By Stephen Gowans | What’s Left | April 27, 2011

NATO’s military intervention in Libya began as an enforcement of a no-fly zone to protect civilians but has quickly morphed into an attack on civilian targets to undermine the morale of Gaddafi loyalists in order to turn them against the country’s leader.

NATO has struck Gaddafi’s residence repeatedly, and in recent days attacked a TV broadcast center.

If it sounds like a rerun of NATO’s 1999 air war on Yugoslavia, when NATO showered bombs on civilian targets in order to “protect” civilians, that’s because NATO has dusted off an old script.

The campaign over Libya, according to senior US officers, draws on lessons from 1999. (1)

Here was US General Michael Short 12 years ago on the logic of the NATO bombing campaign.

If you wake up in the morning and you have no power to your house and no gas to your stove and the bridge you take to work is down and will be lying in the Danube for the next 20 years, I think you begin to ask, “Hey, Slobo, what’s this all about? How much more of this do we have to withstand?” (2)

Short told The New York Times that the bombing campaign was based on “hopes that the distress of the Yugoslav public will undermine support for the authorities in Belgrade.” (3)

Here’s US General John P. Jumper today, who was commander in 1999 of US Air Force units in Europe.

It was when we went in and began to disturb important and symbolic sites in Belgrade, and began to bring to a halt the middle-class life in Belgrade, that Milosevic’s own people began to turn on him. (4)

Jumper says NATO is following the same logic in Libya today.

How NATO got away with bombing civilian targets in Belgrade in 1999 offers insight into how it’s getting away with bombing civilian targets in Tripoli in 2011.

First, then as now, no one was big enough and strong enough to stop them.

Second, NATO bamboozled enough people into believing Serb forces were slaughtering ethnic Albanians in Kosovo to win support for an intervention as the only way to avert a bloodbath (sound familiar)? The tens of thousands of corpses NATO ministers warned would be found scattered across Kosovo and buried in the Trepca mines, were never found.

Third, NATO simply made the definition of a military target so malleable that it could fit just about any site NATO planners wished to destroy. Roads and railways were said to be legitimate quarry, because they were used by military vehicles. Bridges allowed military units to move easily from one point to another, and therefore could be taken down as legitimate military targets. Radio-television buildings were fair game because they were deemed to be part of the enemy’s “propaganda apparatus” (which means, if we’re to apply a consistent standard, that The New York Times’ building is a legitimate target for any country the United States attacks.) Government buildings were part of the enemy’s command and control infrastructure, and as a consequence could be obliterated as lawful targets. And the schools, hospitals and people destroyed by NATO bombs that couldn’t be passed off as legitimate military targets were dumped into the convenient category of “collateral damage.”

Peter Ackerman, the moneybags who hobnobs with Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert Gates on the US foreign policy elite’s Council on Foreign Relations, and who founded an organization to promote color revolutions, created a documentary about the downfall of Milosevic, called Bringing Down a Dictator. It credits so-called nonviolent pro-democracy activists—not NATO’s bombing of civilian targets to turn Milosevic’s supporters against him–with bringing about Milosevic’s ouster.

Maybe Ackerman’s definition of non-violence (and of dictator: Milosevic was elected in multiparty elections which continued to be carried out after he became president) is as malleable as NATO’s definition of a military target.

What’s clear is that NATO and the color revolution outfit Ackerman founded have the same goal: to sweep leaders of non-satellite countries from power in order to integrate their countries unconditionally into the global economy as Western vassal states.

If the goal can be achieved by bombing civilians to weaken their morale, NATO is up for it, as much today as it was in 1999.

1. Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger, “Nato says it is stepping up attacks on Libya targets”, The New York Times, April 26, 2011.
2. Washington Post, May 24, 1999.
3. New York Times, May 13, 1999. Cited in William Blum’s Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower.
4. Shanker and Sanger.

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | Comments Off on NATO’s Kosovo Air War Redux

Fatah, Hamas in unity govt ‘understanding’

Ma’an – 27/04/2011

CAIRO — Rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah reached an “understanding” in Cairo on Wednesday to set up a transitional unity government and hold elections, Hamas and Fatah sources said.

Hamas leader Izzat Ar-Rishiq confirmed the initial agreement. Ar-Rishiq said Cairo will call all factions to sign the final reconciliation within the week with the presence of Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashaal.

Egypt’s official MENA news agency said the factions “reached a complete understanding after talks on all the points, including the formation of a transitional government with a specific mandate and setting a date for elections.”

Egypt will now call a meeting of all Palestinian factions to sign a reconciliation agreement in Cairo, MENA added.

Fatah delegation chief Azzam al-Ahmad confirmed the report and said the two sides had agreed to set up a “government of independents.”

“This government will be tasked with preparing for presidential and legislative elections within a year,” Ahmad said in a phone call in Ramallah.

Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu reacted immediately, demanding that President Mahmoud Abbas “choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas.”

Netanyahu said such an agreement paved the way for Hamas to take control of the West Bank too, where Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have their headquarters.

“The Palestinian Authority must choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There cannot be peace with both because Hamas strives to destroy the state of Israel and says so openly,” Netanyahu said.

“I think that the very idea of reconciliation shows the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and creates the prospect that Hamas could retake control of Judea and Samaria just like it took control of the Gaza Strip,” he said, referring to the West Bank.

Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Abbas, dismissed these remarks.

“In reaction to Netanyahu’s remarks we say that Palestinian reconciliation and the agreement reached today in Cairo is an internal Palestinian affair,” Nabil Abu Rudeina said.

Netanyahu, he said, “must choose between peace and settlements.”

Hamas and Fatah were on the verge of agreeing to the same deal in October 2009 but the Islamist movement backed out, protesting the terms had been revised without its consent.

Wednesday’s deal was brokered in Cairo where the factions met with Egypt’s new spy chief Murad Muwafi, whose predecessor Omar Suleiman tried unsuccessfully to bridge a split that has left Gaza and the West Bank ruled by rival administrations.

The Hamas delegation included senior members from Gaza as well as its Damascus-based deputy leader, Mussa Abu Marzuk.

On March 16, the president said he was ready to visit Gaza for talks with Hamas leaders to form a new government in order to pave the way for an agreement with Hamas on the formation of non-partisan cabinet lineup ahead of elections.

“I am ready to go to Gaza tomorrow to end the division and form a government of independent national figures to start preparing for presidential, legislative and National Council elections within six months,” he said. … Full article

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | 2 Comments

Remembering Palestinian prisoners, renewing our struggle

Ameer Makhoul | The Electronic Intifada | 27 April 2011

Palestinian Prisoners Day was marked on 17 April, an annual day to contemplate the individual and collective suffering and impossible pain of political prisoners and their families. It is also a day to recommit to our struggle for liberation and human dignity.

I feel like I am engaged in “collaboration” of sorts with an unfair narrative when I use the terminology of numbers or statistics to relate to more than 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.

In so much international discussion and media, each of these thousands of Palestinian prisoners is considered just a number while an Israeli occupation soldier held as a prisoner by Palestinians is portrayed as a story representing the whole of humanity.

Even “equal” or “neutral” language and descriptions end up favoring the occupier when there is no equality in the real situation. Palestinian prisoners are not prisoners of war, but prisoners of a liberation struggle. Palestinian prisoners are victims of reality of occupation, colonialism, racism, ethic cleansing and political persecution.

We should look always to the root causes of conflict, not just at the superficial aspects. Colonialists all over the world throughout history damaged their own human values, and imposed real damage to their victims whenever these victims became passive toward their human duty to struggle for liberation.

So I look at all the solidarity groups, movements and people all over the world — you are doing great work. You are all people who will never accept injustice to be the norm. I call on all of you as partners in the struggle for rights to continue to view the Palestine liberation struggle as one struggle. Don’t play within the oppressors’ game of allowing the Palestinian cause to be fragmented.

Fragmentation means allowing fundamental rights to be subordinated to the balance of power. We must always place our commitment to rights and justice at the center of our ethics and our struggle.

The new wave of international solidarity movements is doing this by placing Palestinian rights at the center, and recognizing that it is the denial of these rights that is the root cause of conflict in Palestine.

This movement is motivated by universal values and human rights, but it also links the main demands of the Palestinian people: the right of return, an end to the occupation, the end of siege and blockade, and the end of the colonial and racist system that is the essence of Israel and stands in the way of liberation and self-determination.

Freedom for the 7,000 Palestinian prisoners of the liberation struggle will never be granted by Israeli courts. The legal system of the colonial racist oppressor is a mechanism and guarantor of oppression, not justice and liberation.

Only Palestinian struggle, supported by international solidarity, can free these prisoners and free all Palestinians. We will continue our role of steadfastness and struggle. But we are counting on our friends’ solidarity too. Together we shall overcome.

Ameer Makhoul is a civil society leader and political prisoner at Gilboa prison.

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Remembering Palestinian prisoners, renewing our struggle

Germans demand nuclear plant closures

Press TV – April 27, 2011

Tens of thousands of protesters in Germany have gathered near twelve of the country’s nuclear plants, demanding an end to the use of nuclear power.

On Monday, over 120,000 protesters met at 12 of the country’s 17 nuclear plants, calling for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to immediately close all plants, AP reported.

The protesters brought the officials’ attention to the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident in Ukraine, which occurred 25 year ago, as well as the Fukushima power plant incident in Japan last March.

According to the protest organizer, Peter Dickel, the German state of Lower Saxony has witnessed some of the country’s greatest demonstrations with over 20,000 individuals participating.

Some 17,000 protesters turned out at the Krummel nuclear plant in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, while over 15,000 others congregated near the Grafenrheinfeld plant in Bavaria.

Calls for an end to NATO’s presence in Afghanistan were also among the anti-nuclear slogans in the nation-wide demonstrations.

The protests came after Merkel imposed a moratorium on the construction of new nuclear plants last month.

Following the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan, seven of the country’s oldest plants have been temporarily shut. The security levels of the remaining 10 plants are currently being monitored.

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Nuclear Power, Solidarity and Activism | 1 Comment

Whither Now Egypt?

By Joseph M. Cachia | Palestine Chronicle | April 27, 2011

For those who thought the Egyptian revolution is done and past, think again. The Egyptians did not go home. They are out there again if things do not turn out the way they had hoped.

There’s no question that the unrest in Egypt is of paramount world concern. Opinions vary about how this situation will work out, but many analysts think, or rather hope, that this situation could actually have a positive outcome for Egypt.

One must keep in mind that Egypt’s standing in the Arab and Islamic world is partly linked to its role as a patron of the Palestinian cause in the era of Nasser.

There is talk about America’s worries that a government less friendly to the USA will be installed. That is secondary, as long as it is a government that cares for its own people. And maybe if the US doesn’t interfere, there is a chance of that happening. Hopefully the Egyptians would not swallow the bait of falling in the same gutter that they managed to escape from, enticed by the hypocritical words of Obama; “We stand ready to provide assistance that is necessary to help the Egyptian people as they manage the aftermath of these protests.” In her statement, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton claimed that Washington’s concern in relation to Egypt was to bring about a “real democracy” and not a “so-called democracy that then leads to what we saw in Iran.” Sometimes the argument comes in the form of “I support democracy, but only if I agree with the results.” In other words, her sole criterion for a democracy is not the will of the people, but subordination to US interests or perhaps an imperialist ‘pax americana’.

The fear really is an Egypt that no one can predict. Will it continue in its former alliances? What good are its former alliances if they have to be maintained by a brutal and corrupt police force in the streets of Cairo?

The young activists who had organised the protests are still very optimistic but would not give up the pressure on the army to fulfil all its reform pledges, including the release of thousands of political prisoners. The leadership of the Coalition for change is still divided over the extent to which the army can be trusted.

If the Egyptian masses were allowed to express their genuine aspirations at the ballot box it would spell an end to the country’s role as a servile client of Washington and Israel.  The issue that worries the US is that when people are free, they try to be independent. They will not accept living in the custody of the US.

Many western leaders are worried that the failure of the Egyptian regime could see the Muslim Brotherhood, the most well-organised opposition party, take control. The Mubarak regime has historically used the Muslim Brotherhood as a bogeyman to frighten the people and the Western countries. However, it’s not radical Islam that worries the US – it’s the independence.  The nature of any regime it backs in the Arab world is secondary to control. Subjects are ignored until they break their chains. The US and its allies have regularly supported radical Islamists, sometimes to prevent the threat of secular nationalism.

There was a sense among reformists in Cairo that the army has been true to its word so far.  Indeed, the Army has unequivocally stated that “it will not be an alternative to the legitimacy approved by the people”. But concerns have mounted in the last days. Secular democratic parties are not involved in the dialogue the Army currently has with the Muslim Brotherhood. The process for reforming the constitution is far too quick and is not inclusive. Representatives of the old regime are there but there are no women. The question here is this: ‘Is the army more representative of the people, or more representative of the old status quo?’ It boggles the mind to think that, after all the sacrifices the country made to unseat a dictatorship, a new one seems to lurk in the shadows of this promising new era.

The pledge that elections would take place within six months was welcomed, but a faster timetable was then introduced, making it impossible for the impoverished liberal parties like Wafd (‘Delegation’) or El Ghad (‘Tomorrow) to organise. The Muslim Brotherhood gets huge financial support from the Gulf States and is experienced in fighting elections. While the Brotherhood will not put up a presidential candidate, it will fight across the country for parliamentary seats. Alternatively, the hugely-popular Wael Ghoneim – a Google manager who was held and beaten up during the recent violence – has already been drawn into talks with the administration. Political groups would be able to accept unlimited funding from individuals, corporations or even foreign powers interested in influencing the presidential elections. This will leave the Egyptian political system ripe for corruption.

The young demonstrators are determined that the future political make-up of Egypt should reflect their role in the revolution. Nevertheless, getting rid of the dictators was only the first step of a process in which ordinary people will fight for their rights, notably better wages and public services. In a country of 80 million with 40% that live below the World Bank poverty level of $2 a day, it’s doubtful that the ‘youth element’ would hold the voting majority.

“All Egyptians now think they are Che Guevara, Castro or something,” says Essam el-Erian, a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, bursting into laughter. “This is democracy.”

Foreign governments, especially those in Europe and the US, have to make major reassessments as the Arab world makes up its own mind at last.

– Joseph M. Cachia lives in Vittoriosa, Malta.

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Whither Now Egypt?

Armed Jewish settlers burn commercial stores in Al-Khalil old city

Palestine Information Center – 27/04/2011

Al-KHALIL — Armed Jewish settlers attacked Palestinian commercial stores with Molotov cocktails in Kazazeen souk (market) in the old city of Al-Khalil at dawn Tuesday burning down four of them and all goods inside them.

Owners of these stores are Shaban Hashlamoun, Mohamed Al-Shalloudi, Atta Al-Shweiki and Abdelhameed Al-Natsha.

Firefighters from Al-Khalil municipal council tried to enter the old city to extinguish the fire, but the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) blocked their way at the pretext the area was a closed military zone.

Eyewitnesses said they saw armed Jewish settlers in Kazazeen souk dancing in circles, singing and shouting racist chants against Arabs before culminating their revelry with an arson attack on the stores.

“We know the settlers torched our stores in order to expel us from our old city and fully take it over, but they can never achieve that and we are staying in the city even if we get killed,” one of the Palestinian store owners said.

“They offered us huge amounts of money to sell our stores, and one of their leaders told us, ‘You have an open check,’ but we kicked them out and we told them to leave along with their lackeys because our [Palestinian] land is more precious than our blood and they cannot take a grain of its soil,” he added.

April 27, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | 3 Comments

AU: Military Action Targeting Libyan Officials should End

Al-Manar | April 27, 2011

The African Union urged an end to military actions targeting senior Libyan officials and key infrastructure, a statement said Wednesday.

“Council urges all involved to refrain from actions, including military operations targeting Libyan senior officials and socio-economic infrastructure, that would further compound the situation and make it more difficult to achieve international consensus on the best way forward,” the AU said.

The pan-African body stressed the need for all the parties involved in the implementation of UN resolution 1973 on Libya “to act in a manner fully consistent with international legality and the resolution’s provisions, whose objective is solely to ensure the protection of the civilian population.”

On Monday allied warplanes struck Moamer Kadhafi’s compound in Tripoli. US and British defence chiefs Robert Gates and Liam Fox at a joint press conference Tuesday said the choice of target was legitimate.

The AU statement said the body would look into convening an extraordinary meeting in May “to review the state of peace and security on the continent, in light of the new crises and threats to peace and security in Africa.”

Libya’s foreign minister on Tuesday asked the AU Peace and Security Council to convene an extraordinary summit to find ways for the continent to fight “external forces”.

April 27, 2011 Posted by | War Crimes | Comments Off on AU: Military Action Targeting Libyan Officials should End