Aletho News


Oxford University invests £630,000 in US cluster bomb manufacturers

Moqawama | October 18, 2011

The Independent has revealed that the leading British Oxford University has invested £630,000 ($990,045) in the US arms manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, which is still involved in the cluster-bomb industry.

Information further revealed that the Oxford University Endowment Management (OUEM) has invested more than £2 million ($3.143 million) in several arms and war companies including Northrop Grumman and European Aeronautics Defense and Space.

Although Britain is one of the some 100 nations who have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster bombs, however, the UK-based Oxford University used a loophole which states that financial institutions and private citizens can continue to back cluster-arms manufacturers, as long as they do not directly invest in the bombs.

According to the university’s spokesperson, there is a committee that checks if companies are violating the UK law regarding cluster bombs, further noting that “Lockheed Martin” is not on the prohibited investment list.

October 18, 2011 Posted by | War Crimes | 4 Comments

This year’s olive harvest in Walaja may be the last

By Nigel O’Connor | The Palestine Monitor | October 17, 2011

This week, the olive harvest began across the West Bank, with people returning to villages from city jobs to assist with the picking.

Many farmers face restrictions, imposed by the Israeli Defence Forces, on when and where they can harvest due to the proliferation of Israeli settlements and outposts.

For villagers in al-Walaja, a village near Bethlehem, the harvest is overshadowed by the fact that next year they will be separated from their land when Israel completes the construction of the Seperation Wall. The route of the Wall will completely encircle the village, save for one access road.

On 23 August, Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a petition against the proposed route of the Wall, that effectively annexes nearly 5,000 dunums, or 1,250 acres, of the village’s agricultural land.

On Friday, in a show of support, Palestinians and internationals assisted farmers in gathering the olives from trees that lie beyond the planned path of the wall.

The solidarity action was organized through the International Solidarity Initiative, an organization founded by former Palestinian presidential candidate, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi.

Dr. Barghouthi attended the harvest and thanked volunteers for the strong turnout.

“We are here because the Israeli wall will prevent the people from harvesting here,” he said.  “The wall is surrounding the village and completely isolating the villagers from their community.”

On Saturday morning, Israeli soldiers had gathered close to the harvest site and it was expected farmers would be told to leave the land.

Dr. Barghouthi believed the strong international presence prevented them from taking any action. “This was a very important act of solidarity,” he said.

Speaking to The Palestine Monitor in September, al-Walaja resident Sheerin al-Araj said her village represented a microcosm of Palestine’s recent history.

“Originally our village owned 18,000 dunams of land,” she said, while protesting the construction of the Separation Wall. “Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 took 11,000 dunams.” The Wall will reduce the village’s land mass further.

Following the 1967 Six-Day War and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries were expanded to take more land. The settlements of Gilo and Har Gilo were established.

“After 1967 we have two settlements, a road and a train line. With the Wall being built we will be left with only 2,200 dunams,” Sheerin said.

Since the Second Intifada and the subsequent crippling of the West Bank’s economy, many Palestinian have a greater dependence on the harvest reaped from their family farms.

In the lead up to the olive harvest, Israeli settlers often target adjacent villages by uprooting, destroying or burning trees. For al-Walaja, it is the IDF, with the complicity of Israel’s Supreme Court, that will cut the villagers off from their trees and land.

October 18, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | Comments Off on This year’s olive harvest in Walaja may be the last

“I was 1-day-old when my father was jailed”

By Shahd Abusalama – The Electronic Intifada – 18 October 2011

Gaza City – A very confusing feeling passes through me after hearing about the exchange of 1,027 Palestinian detainees for the only Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who was held captive by the Palestinian resistance fighters. I don’t know whether to feel happy or sad.

Gazing at the faces of the prisoners’ families in the solidarity tent in Gaza City, I see a look that I have never seen before: eyes glittering with hope. These people have attended every event in solidarity with our detainees, have never given up hope that their freedom is inevitable someday, and have stayed strong during their loved ones’ absence inside Israeli cells. Thinking about those women whose relatives are most likely to be released and seeing their big smiles makes me happy. But at the same time, thinking about the other 5,000 detainees who will steadfastly go on with their resistance in the prisons makes my heart break for them.

Hearts aching for those still in jail

When I arrived at the tent on 12 October, the wife of the prisoner Nafez Herz, who was sentenced to life-long imprisonment and has been jailed for 26 years, shook hands with me and said very excitedly that she had heard that her husband would be freed. Then she said, “But you can’t imagine how much my heart aches for those families whose prisoner will not be released in this exchange deal. All prisoners’ families have become like one big family. We meet weekly, if not daily in the Red Cross, we share our torments, and we understand each other’s suffering.” I grabbed her hands and pressed them while saying, “We will never forget them, and God willing, they will gain their freedom soon.”

While I was writing this article among the crowd of people at the Red Cross building, I suddenly heard people chanting and clapping and could see a woman jumping with joy. While on the phone, she said loudly, “My husband is going to be free!” Her husband is Abu Thaer Ghneem, who received a life sentence and spent 22 years in prison. As I watched people celebrating and singing for the freedom of the Palestinian detainees, I met his only son, Thaer. He was hugging his mother tight while giving prayers to God showing their thankfulness. I touched his shoulder, attempting to get his attention. “Congratulations! How do you feel?” I asked him. “I was only one day old when my father was arrested, and now I am 22-years-old. I’ve always known that I had a father in prison, but never had him around. Now my father is finally going to be set free and fill his place, which has been empty over the course of 22 years of my life.”

His answer was very touching and left me shocked and admiring. While he was talking to me, I sensed how he couldn’t find words to describe his happiness at his father’s freedom.

The celebration continues for an hour. Then I return to my former confusion, feeling drowned in a stream of thoughts. The families of the 1,027 detainees will celebrate the freedom of their relatives, but what about the fate of the rest of the prisoners?

Don’t forget the hunger strike

I have heard lots of information since last night concerning the names of the soon-to-be-released prisoners, but it was hard to find two sources sharing the same news, especially about Ahmad Saadat and Marwan Barghouti and whether they are involved in the exchange deal. I’ve always felt spiritually connected to them, especially Saadat, as he is my father’s friend. I can’t handle thinking that he may not be involved in this exchange deal. He has had enough merciless torment inside Israeli solitary confinement for over two and a half years.

Let’s not forget those who are still inside the Israeli occupation’s prisons and who have been on hunger strike, as this hunger strike wasn’t held for an exchange deal, but for the Israeli Prison Service to meet the prisoners’ demands. The people who joined the hunger strike in Gaza City has included those with loved ones in prison. We have to speak out loudly and tell the world that Israel must address our living martyrs’ demands. We will never stop singing for the freedom of Palestinian detainees until the Israeli prisons are emptied.

Shahd Abusalama is an artist, blogger and English literature student from the Gaza Strip. Her blog is called Palestine from My Eyes.

October 18, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | 2 Comments

Iran and the Hollywood Script: A Collaborative Effort

By Daniel McAdams on October 16, 2011

According to FBI director Robert Muller, the latest FBI-created-and-miraculously-defeated terror threat — this time straight out of Iran and straight from the top — was something “straight out of a Hollywood script.” Well, he should know so we’ll take him at his word.

Although the same neocons who are probably writing these Hollywood scripts are screaming “this means war!!”, we cannot help but wonder just how deep is the manipulation of our media and our government by shadow forces both foreign and domestic pushing us covertly toward another war.

Considering the latest news out of the UK, where the male partner of recently-departed-in-scandal Defense Secretary Liam Fox is revealed to have been working covertly with the Mossad to overthrow the Iranian government, these speculations should no longer be written off as the conspiratorial thinking of feverish minds.

Disgraced Secretary Fox had been jet-setting all over the world with his “best man,” Adam Werritty, in tow; Werrittty passed himself off as Fox’s de facto chief of staff, and it is in this capacity that he has been engaged over the past several years covertly bumping up the Iranian “opposition” — the same Green Movement that some of us were attacked for suggesting had a very, umm, Western flavor — and attempting to overthrow the Iranian regime.

Just the outlandish suggestion that a booze-addled Iranian immigrant used car salesman was plotting to have the Saudi ambassador assassinated was enough to have the media, ThinkTankistan, and the Left/Right interventionists screaming that an “act of war” had been committed by Iran and demanding an invasion. Yet why is it never an act of war when Western spooks go into Iran in a blatant attempt to overthrow its government and foment phony “Green Revolutions” where scores are killed?

With the Fox scandal breaking big in the UK, it is increasingly obvious that these scripts written to bring the US and its allies to a disastrous war on Iran are more of a collaborative effort, perhaps Hollywood, Langley, and Tel Aviv.

October 18, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on Iran and the Hollywood Script: A Collaborative Effort

The Legend of Sirte

By Jeremy Salt | Palestine Chronicle | October 17, 2011

A legend is being created that is going to haunt the people who have been propelled into power in Tripoli. In Sirte a handful of men have set an example of bravery in the face of impossible odds that will eventually find its place in Arab history. Weeks of missile and bomb attacks have reduced the centre of the city to ruins and killed an unknown number of civilians. The photos coming out of the city show Beirut-style devastation. The fighters defending the city would seem to be doomed. They have their backs to the sea and are surrounded on three sides. We don’t know who they are or how many of them there are. Some might be the remnants of the Libyan army and others civilians who have taken up arms to defend their city. We don’t know why they are fighting. We are told that they are just fighting for their lives. We are told that they are mercenaries, but mercenaries put down their arms when the money runs out. We are told that they are ‘Gaddafi loyalists’. That discredits them immediately. Noone really knows what they are fighting for, but their country has to be a possibility for at least some of them.

Why was this war launched? The Gaddafi who has now been dislodged is the same old Gaddafi who arrived in Rome a couple of years ago with photos of Umar al Mukhtar pinned to his tunic as he stepped off the plane. He is the same Gaddafi who was embraced in Paris by Sarkozy and, according to Saif al Islam, gave generously to Sarkozy’s election campaign. He is the same Gaddafi who was embraced by the ever-smiling Tony Blair in Tripoli. He was the same Gaddafi with whom Shell was very happy to do business. Between those occasions and now he didn’t change. Years ago it was the ‘stray dogs’ – Libyan dissidents – he wanted to hunt down. This year it was the ‘greasy rats’ he vowed to pursue street to street – zenga zenga – and house to house. This was what gave the US, Britain and France their justification for taking military action. This was not supposed to be about regime change, but that is how it ended and if it was not planned from the start it was inevitable once these three powers intervened.

Whatever Libyans thought of Muammar Gaddafi, there were no signs that anything like the majority supported the uprising against him. As Gaddafi himself asked on October 6:  ‘The NTC, who gave them legitimacy? How did they obtain legitimacy? Did the Libyan people elect them? Did the Libyan people appoint them? And if only the power of NATO bombs and fleets grants legitimacy, then let all rulers in the Third World beware, for the same fate awaits you. To those who recognize this council as legitimate, beware.  There will be transitional councils created everywhere and imposed upon you and one by one you shall fall’.

This was not a popular revolution or a war of liberation. This was not Egypt or Tunisia, where it was the people who overthrew the government. This was a war of conquest by Britain, France and the US, coordinating their efforts with armed groups on the ground. These three powers turned an uprising into a civil war, and then ensured victory for one side through the massive use of aerial fire power. The soldiers on the ground – the ‘Gaddafi loyalists’ – were as defenseless from the missiles being rained down on them as civilians in plain clothes. By themselves the ‘rebels’ would have been quickly scattered.

With the attack building up and the outcome all but certain, senior Libyan government ministers began to defect. The common metaphor is rats jumping from a sinking ship. Musa Kusa flew to London and told British intelligence everything he knew, which must have been quite a bit, because whatever crimes Gaddafi committed over the past four decades, Musa Kusa was in them up to his neck. Mustafa Abd ul Jalil was the Minister for Justice in the old regime. He also got out just in time. Deserting Gaddafi, he then agreed to head an interim governing council set up in collaboration with the attacking foreign powers. People who do this kind of thing are usually called traitors. In the Second World War Marshal Petain collaborated with the Nazis and would have been executed afterwards but for his advanced age and his distinguished war record in 1914-18. William Joyce (‘Lord Haw Haw’) was executed just for broadcasting Nazi propaganda against his own country, Britain. Vidkun Quisling acted as the regent for the Nazis in occupied Norway and was executed after the war for treason. The foreign powers with whom Mustafa Abdul Jalil has collaborated have attacked his country and killed thousands of his fellow countrymen, women and children. Unless the word has lost its meaning, that makes him a traitor, too.

With NATO planes clearing the path ahead all the way to Tripoli and then to Sirte, the end result was inevitable. Without air cover and without ground defence against aerial attack the Libyan army – the ‘Gaddafi loyalists’ – had no chance. There are numerous parallels in the long history of western attacks on Muslim countries. In 1882 a British fleet bombarded Alexandria and then blamed arsonists and brigands for the massive destruction they had caused. Troops were landed to restore the order which had just been destroyed. Egyptians tried to defend their country but against the firepower, training and and organization of a modern European army, they had no chance. In 1898 about 60,000 followers of the Sudanese khalifa, the successor to the mahdi, stormed across a plain outside Omdurman towards the British battle lines. It was their country and they fought for it with enormous bravery but against Maxim guns, lined up in a row on the battlefield, they also had no chance. There were exceptions to the rule.  In the early 1880s the Sudanese destroyed the Hicks expeditionary army, but that was before the invention of the Maxim gun. In 1896 an Ethiopian army all but wiped out an Italian army in the battle of Adowa. Nearly four decades later an Italian army invaded Ethiopia again, suffering severe battlefield defeats before superior weaponry and the use of mustard gas gave them victory. Driven into exile, the emperor Haile Selassie told the League of Nations  ‘It was us today.  It will be you tomorrow’. Indeed it was.

In 1911 the Italians invaded Libya but failed to penetrate the interior because of the resistance of the Sanusi tribes and the small Ottoman force sent to do what it could, Libya then being part of the Ottoman Empire. In the 1920s Italy embarked on a full-scale program to tame the Libyans. Thousands were moved from Jabal al Akhdar in Cyrenaica and penned up in concentration camps. The resistance was led by a Quran teacher, Umar al Mukhtar, who was captured in 1931 and hanged in the Suluq concentration camp. Now, getting on for a century later, Libyans themselves have opened the door to another foreign attack on their country.

Without the ‘humanitarian’ intervention of the US, Britain and France, Gaddafi would be still be in Tripoli but thousands people now dead would be alive. The buildings and the infrastructure  that has been destroyed would still be standing. Libya would still be the most advanced country in Africa, instead of a country that has been battered by war and will now need repairing in accordance with the prescriptions of ‘disaster capitalism’.

As an investment this war was not even a risky one. Libya is a large country with a relatively small population and almost no capacity to defend itself against outside attack by powerful states. It is rich in oil, foreign reserves and gold bullion. Would the attack even have been considered if it were poor? Its financial situation was far healthier than that of the countries attacking it. The notion that this was done for altruistic reasons has to be scotched immediately. Whatever the humanitarian packaging, ulterior motives lie behind every war launched by the western powers in the Middle East and North Africa over the last two centuries. The war on Libya is no exception. At a time of extreme financial crisis, the attacking countries are not sinking billions of dollars into the war without expecting a generous strategic and commercial return on their investment.

In all the weeks Sirte was being devastated from the air, where was the UN Security Council, which opened the door to the attack on Libya with its ‘no fly’ zone resolution but has taken no responsibility for the consequences? Where was the EU, where was the OIC, where was the Arab League, where was the outrage in the media, where were all the governments upholding a ‘responsibility to protect’ which had turned into a license to kill? They were all mute. Not a word of concern or even of condemnation passed their lips. They only wanted to talk about Syria. The pictures of destruction now coming out of Sirte give some indication of what Britain, France and the US have done. How many civilians have been killed we don’t know, but the estimates being made for the country as a whole suggest a death toll running into the tens of thousands. Such is the cost of ‘humanitarian intervention’. Such is the price the Libyans have had to pay for their own ‘liberation’. They did not want this war. It was the governments of the US, Britain and France who wanted this war, for reasons of their own, and used the rising in Benghazi as their leverage.

A country which was stable is now in turmoil. The news agencies refer to the government in Tripoli but there is no government in Tripoli.  The ‘National Transitional Council’ has still not got its act together. Uncertainty, turbulence and possibly a spreading war of resistance lie ahead, as the implications of what has been done sink in. History is written by the victors, so we are told, but if this western triumph over yet another Middle Eastern madman cannot be consolidated, the day may yet come when Libyans will be building statues to commemorate the bravery of the small band of men who fought to the last for Sirte.


Jeremy Salt is associate professor in Middle Eastern History and Politics at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. Previously, he taught at Bosporus University in Istanbul and the University of Melbourne in the Departments of Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science. Professor Salt has written many articles on Middle East issues, particularly Palestine, and was a journalist for The Age newspaper when he lived in Melbourne.

October 18, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | 2 Comments