Aletho News


Hillary Clinton’s Iran Weapons Lie Is ‘Tough Talk’

By Peter Hart – FAIR – 05/08/2012

Covering Hillary Clinton’s trip to India, USA Today’s Richard Wolf writes (5/8/12):

Fielding rapid-fire questions at a town-hall-style event in Kolkata, she denounced Iran’s nuclear arms program and urged India to reduce its Iranian oil imports further.

“We appreciate what has been done, and of course we want to keep the pressure on Iran,” she said.

When I read that I thought, “Here we go again, another outlet misstating the basic facts about the Iran debate.”

Then I checked the transcript of the Clinton’s town hall, and that is indeed what she said, in response to a question about U.S. pressuring India to stop buying oil from Iran:

That’s a very good question, and let me give you a little context for that question. When President Obama took over in 2009, we knew Iran’s continuing development of a nuclear weapons program would be very destabilizing in the region, because there would be an arms race with the nations in the region who have pre-existing enmity between themselves and Iran. And it would also cause a great threat to Israel.

USA Today should have noted that there is no evidence that Iran has any nuclear weapons program at all–as U.S. intelligence and the Pentagon secretary have acknowledged. That’s what newspapers should do when politicians mislead. Instead, the paper puts this headline over the piece: “Clinton Wraps Asia Trip with Tough Talk on Iran.”

“Tough talk” is a weak way to describe a government official’s misrepresentation of the facts.

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

10 years on from Nativity Church siege, deportees ‘forgotten’

By Jenny Baboun | Ma’an | May 10, 2012

BETHLEHEM – Ten years after Israel exiled 39 Palestinians taking refuge in Bethlehem’s Nativity Church, deportees say they have been forgotten by Palestinian leaders.

On May 10, 2002, Israeli forces ended a 39-day siege on the church after striking a deal with Palestinian leaders to send 39 people given sanctuary in the church to Gaza and Europe.

When Israeli tanks surrounded Bethlehem on April 2, 2002, around 220 locals — including around 40 priests and nuns — took shelter in the church. Over the next 39 days, eight Palestinians were killed inside the church and 27 others injured.

The siege on the site believed to be Jesus’ birthplace sparked outrage in the Vatican as monks sheltering inside pleaded for international assistance.

Former Bethlehem Governor Salah Tamari headed the negotiations team to end the siege, and told Ma’an TV the deportation deal was reached without his knowledge.

He recalled his shock when Israeli officials told him Palestinians would be exiled, and said he called the office of President Yasser Arafat to resign as chief negotiator.

Israeli officials had demanded a list of names of everyone in the church, Tamari said.

“Since the first moment, we refused to give any names. We told [the Israelis] if you have anyone who’s wanted, give us their names and we’ll see if their charges affect the Palestinian law, we’ll hold them accountable.”

Rafat Obayyat was one of 27 Palestinians injured by Israeli attacks on the church. He is in a wheelchair due to his injuries.

He told Ma’an the grotto was the safest place in the church during the siege. Food was scarce and small amounts of pasta would be rationed between everyone, he added.

After a decade in exile, deportees say they have been abandoned by the Palestinian Authority and all political factions. They have not been allowed to return to their families in the West Bank.

Deportees had planned to demonstrate on Thursday but canceled the protest to stand beside prisoners on hunger strike, spokesman for the group Fahmi Kanan said at a press conference on Monday.

Instead, deportees will go on a 3-day hunger strike on Thursday in solidarity with detainees in Israeli jails, Kanan said.

‘A dangerous precedent’

Former detainee and researcher Abdul Nasser Farwaneh said the deportation deal was a clear violation of international law and human rights.

The Palestinian leadership’s acceptance of the deal to send Palestinians into exile set a dangerous precedent and over the last decade Israel has deported hundreds more Palestinians, Farwaneh said in a statement.

He urged the international community to send a commission of inquiry into Israel’s siege on one of the world’s holiest sites.

He also called for greater efforts to bring the deportees home and said the ongoing failure to bring them back from exile reflected Palestinian indifference to the issue.

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on 10 years on from Nativity Church siege, deportees ‘forgotten’

Protesting NATO

By Margaret Kimberley | Black Agenda Report | May 9, 2012

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a cold war relic with no positive use in the 21st century. Its original intent, or so it was claimed, was to protect western nations from a supposedly threatening Soviet block. The Soviet Union collapsed, and now some of the old Soviet bloc states are NATO members themselves. Why does this organization still exist?

The explanation is simple, but not very pretty. NATO is the armed wing for European and American elites who control the destiny not only of the capitalist nations they represent but of people around the world. It is NATO which continues to occupy Afghanistan, and send drones which kill civilians. It is NATO which over threw the Muammar Gaddafi government in Libya and killed an unknown number of civilians in the name of protecting them.

When the United Nations sought to investigate whether NATO committed any crimes against the Libyan civilian population, NATO said quite simply that it hadn’t, and that no one should even suggest otherwise. “We would accordingly request that, in the event the commission elects to include a discussion of NATO actions in Libya, its report clearly states that NATO did not deliberately target civilians and did not commit war crimes in Libya.”

This same NATO, which despite its claims to the contrary, did target civilians in Libya, will soon celebrate its violent triumphs in the city of Chicago. It was meant to be a celebration with its economic and political arm, the G-8, but the possibility of mass protests against the G-8 caused Barack Obama to move the festivities to secluded Camp David, where the pesky masses won’t be allowed to disrupt the party.

Fortunately, activists are not fooled by the sleight of hand of a smaller celebration and are organizing mass protests. NATO’s presence in Chicago must not be seen as acceptance of its activities by the American people. It is vital that peaceful protests be successfully carried out against NATO and against its activities around the world.

NATO’s criminality did not begin with Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Its hands have been very dirty in recent history in many different places. In 1999 NATO used the ruse of humanitarianism to kill human beings and destroy the infrastructure of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavs victimized by these acts weren’t silent about them, and in the absence of action anywhere else in the world, convened their own war crimes tribunal against NATO heads of state and military personnel.

Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder and others were sentenced in absentia to twenty years imprisonment. They were convicted of violating the Geneva Conventions, and the U.N. Charter. In the words of the Yugoslav court, NATO leaders were guilty of the following, “…inciting an aggressive war, war crimes against the civilian population, use of banned combat means, attempted murder of the Yugoslav president, as well as with the violation of the country’s territorial integrity”.

NATO’s trail is a long and bloody one, and the phony festivities are creating risks to the people of Chicago too. They will not only face disruptions and inconvenience as they attempt to go about their daily lives, but their city will also be the place where new Obama administration restrictions on civil liberties will be put into full effect.

The Nobel Peace Prize winning constitutional law professor has decreed, with bipartisan support, that American citizens can be seized and held without charge if they are even suspected of anything the government labels as terrorist activity. Constitutional protections of due process are now a thing of the past.

In addition, the mere proximity of secret service personnel at even peaceful protests can result in arrests and federal felony charges carrying a sentence of up to ten years in prison. This Trespass Bill, as it is called, can be used to charge protestors who are in proximity of the Secret Service – whether knowingly, or unknowingly. Of course, there will be plenty of Secret Service staff on hand in Chicago, and anyone who takes the righteous action of protesting may put themselves in great legal jeopardy.

The NATO meeting is obviously seen as a political plus for the president in his home town in an election year. It should be seen as nothing of the sort, and the activists who attempt to tell the world about NATO’s crimes are doing their country and the world a great service.

Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Comments Off on Protesting NATO

The Israel Lobby Never Sleeps

By Philip Giraldi | The Passionate Attachment | May 10, 2012

There has been no media reporting on H.R.4133 — United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 introduced into the House of Representatives of the 112th Congress on March 5th “To express the sense of Congress regarding the United States-Israel strategic relationship, to direct the President to submit to Congress reports on United States actions to enhance this relationship and to assist in the defense of Israel, and for other purposes.” The sponsors include Eric Cantor, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Howard Berman (all of whom are Jewish) and also Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who is Norwegian but might as well be Jewish given his frequently expressed love for Israel. The bill provides Israel with a blank check drawn on the US taxpayer to maintain its “qualitative military superiority” over all of its neighbors combined. It is scheduled for passage on a “suspension of the rules,” which means it will not actually be voted on and will be approved by consent of Congress.

It is perhaps no coincidence that on Monday the Republicans in the guise of the redoubtable Howard “Buck” McKeon released their proposal for increased defense spending (yes, increased) for 2013. It includes a cool $1 billion for Israel to upgrade its missile defenses. That’s on top of the $3 billion it already receives plus numerous co-production programs that are off the books and defense spending that is not considered to be part of the annual grant. Perhaps “Buck” should consider changing his sobriquet to “Warbucks.” Buck is not Jewish but he is a Mormon, perhaps a sign of what will be coming if we are so unlucky as to vote into office the born again Hawk Mitt Romney. Mitt has a foreign policy team consisting of more than thirty stalwarts, mostly drawn from the Bush Administration, and nearly all of whom are neocons. It features Robert Kaplan, John Bolton, and Dan Senor.

Israel and its partisan hacks in Congress are utterly shameless. At a time when the country is screaming for some measure of restraint in government spending, Israel is the one budget line that only sees increases.

Philip Giraldi is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues.

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sudan says Juba owes over $1 billion, says Heglig oil production to be boosted

Sudan Tribune | May 8, 2012

KHARTOUM – The Sudanese oil Minister Awad Ahmed al-Jaz today reiterated accusations that South Sudan deliberately planned to sabotage his country’s oil infrastructure to hurt its economy.

In a briefing to Sudanese national assembly, al-Jaz said that technical teams are still in the oil-rich town of Heglig assessing damage to oil facilities created by the brief occupation of South Sudan army (SPLA) last month.

He refused to give an estimate of the damages saying that his ministry is keen on providing “accurate and factual” information to lawmakers and prevent confusion among investors.

Nonetheless the oil minister gave some details of the physical damage which he said included fully blowing up the main electricity station, which produced 17 megawatts, by placing explosive devices between each machine and detonating it from a distance.

Al-Jaz also claimed that South Sudan ignited a fire in the main pipeline, destroyed tanks of crude which led to the flow of oil from the main processing center and bombed the main warehouse containing spare parts for machinery and installations.

The work was all done by foreign experts, al-Jaz said, brought by South Sudan government. He said that all the looting and sabotaging has been well documented and will be used in international legal proceedings against Juba.

A South Sudanese official had claimed that Sudan aerial bombardment created a large part of the damage in Heglig oil facilities.

Al-Jaz also informed the parliament that the capacity of Heglig oil field will increase to 80,000 barrels per day (bpd) from its optimal current levels of 55,000.

“We assure you the oil ministry is moving along in its programme for this year, to upgrade production and increase it from blocks 2 and 4, which represent the Heglig area, to a ceiling of 80,000 bpd of crude,” he said.

The government said last week it had begun pumping oil again after partial repairs to the Heglig facility, but it did not say how much oil was flowing or when full production could resume.

In a related issue, the oil minister alleged that South Sudan owes $1 billion for usage of the oil pipelines last year but did not elaborate.

Effective earlier this year, South Sudan shut down its entire oil production to stop Khartoum from seizing part of it to make up for what it calls unpaid fees for transit and use of its facilities. The two sides could not agree on what a fair charge should be for the service.

Khartoum wanted the South to pay $36 per barrel but Juba dismissed the figure and offered around $1.

The landlocked south can only export its crude through Sudan to a Red Sea terminal at port Sudan.

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Comments Off on Sudan says Juba owes over $1 billion, says Heglig oil production to be boosted

South Darfur town falls to rebel group as Sudan army claims recapture of new area

Sudan Tribune | May 8, 2012

KHARTOUM – Rebel fighters belonging to the faction of Sudan Liberation Army led by Minni Minnawi (SLA-MM) managed to seize the town of Gereida in South Darfur from the hands of government troops, according to Sudanese MP.

Gereida is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Nyala? the South Darfur state capital.

Yacoub Mohamed al-Malik, who represents the town in the national assembly, said that SLA-MM entered using 37 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles at 3 p.m. inflicting unspecified human and material losses.

SLA-MM fighters attacked from southeast and engaged with an army garrison before proceeding to control the town, he said.

The MP claimed that buildings belonging to local government and police as well as the market were looted in the aftermath.

Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune that several people were injured and that the telecommunication tower was destroyed.

South Darfur government spokesperson Ahmed al-Tayeb accused South Sudan of supporting the assailants adding that the army fought fierce battles with SLA-MM.

SLA-MM confirmed the reports and revealed that other rebel groups took part.

“Today our joint troops took control of Gereida after fighting with [Sudan Armed Forces] SAF,” Abdullah Moursal, spokesman for SLA-MM told Agence France Presse.

“From our side there were four people wounded,” Moursal said, adding that the attack took place in conjunction with rebels of the SLA faction headed by Abdel-Wahid Nur (SLA-AW).

The two groups are part of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) which also includes Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N).

The umbrella coalition has as its stated goal ??? toppling the Khartoum regime.

In a related issue, SAF has reportedly recaptured Kafan Dibi area in South Darfur on the borders with South Sudan from SRF and South Sudan’s SPLA.

The government sponsored Sudanese Media Center (SMC) website quoted South Darfur government spokesperson as saying that SAF inflicted heavy losses on the rebels.

Kafan Dabi is one of the border areas that are in dispute between Khartoum and Juba.

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Comments Off on South Darfur town falls to rebel group as Sudan army claims recapture of new area

Syria blast hits UN chief’s convoy

Al Akhbar | May 9, 2012

The head of a UN observer mission to Syria, Major General Robert Mood, escaped unharmed when a blast went off as his convoy entered a restive southern town on Wednesday, Syria’s Addounia TV reported.

The explosion in Deraa wounded six Syrian soldiers, including an officer, who were escorting the UN convoy, while 12 other monitors traveling with the Norwegian general were uninjured in the attack, said an AFP photographer.

The attack was “a graphic example of violence that the Syrian people do not need,” said UN observer chief Major General Robert Mood.

“It is imperative that violence in all its forms must stop,” Mood, who was unhurt in the attack, was quoted by observer spokesman Neeraj Singh as saying.

“We remain focused on our task,” Singh told AFP.

The blast, caused by an explosive device planted in the ground, went off after four UN vehicles passed the entrance to Deraa safely, the photographer said.

The attack came as one of Syria’s main armed rebel leaders threatened to resume attacks on President Bashar Assad’s forces, a pan-Arab newspaper reported.

The statement from Free Syrian Army (FSA) chief Colonel Riyadh Asaad will deal a further blow to the fragile UN-backed ceasefire agreement that both sides are accused of disregarding.

“We will not stand with folded arms because we are not able to tolerate and wait while killings, arrests, and shelling continue despite the presence of the (United Nations) observers who have turned into false witnesses,” Asaad said, according to the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

“Our people are also demanding we defend them in the absence of any serious steps by the Security Council which is giving the regime a chance to commit more crimes,” he added.

Explosive devices are a common technique used by the Free Syrian Army, Colonel Asaad said, but it was uncertain whether his group was behind the attack on the UN convoy.

“Bombings are not part of our ethics and we don’t need them. Our aim is to target military vehicles and we only use explosive devices,” he said.

The UN has noted violations to the ceasefire from the government and armed rebels, who are suspected of carrying out a series of bombings in recent weeks, as well as political assassinations.

The armed Syrian opposition is highly fragmented and there are militant groups in the country who say they do not take orders from Asaad.

Syrian National Council spokesperson Ausama Monajed told Al-Akhbar in March that Asaad’s fighters only accounted for “maximum five percent” of all armed groups.

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a Russian-European drafted resolution last month that authorized an initial deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers to Syria for three months, to be known as UNSMIS.

But despite an initial pause in fighting on April 12, a promised ceasefire has not taken hold. Nor has the carnage in Syria stopped, despite a parliamentary poll on Monday which the government promoted as a milestone on its path to reform but most opposition groups dismissed as a sham and boycotted.

International mediator Kofi Annan called on both Syrian government forces and opposition fighters to put down their weapons and work with the unarmed observers to consolidate the fragile ceasefire that took effect in April.

The newspaper quoted Asaad as saying the Free Syrian Army had devised a new strategy to make its attacks more effective.

Asaad said the FSA had pulled out of cities to give the Annan plan a chance to succeed.

“The Free Syrian Army is still on the ground in most Syrian territories, and its departure from the cities was to spare civilians military operations and in order not to give the regime an excuse to say that we do not want a ceasefire,” he added.

(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Syria blast hits UN chief’s convoy