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Friday, June 27, 2008

Iraqi MPs against US bases

Monday, June 9, 2008

Iraqi MPs against US bases

Leaked document says US plans for permanent bases in Iraq being discussed with Iraqi government.

Opposition Makes List of Future Movement Attacks


The ruling bloc is exploiting the Lebanese National Opposition's commitment to the Doha Agreement article on stopping media campaigns and incitement to portray itself and its supporters as the victims of alleged attacks by opposition supporters.

The Lebanese National Opposition issued a memorandum to President Michel Suleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri and PM-designate Fouad Saniora as well as the Lebanese Army and Internal Security Forces commands. The paper included a list of attacks [since the Doha conference was being held] against citizens by Mustakbal (Future Movement) cadres and individuals.

According to opposition sources, the memorandum included 37 incidents in the Tarik el-Jdideh region (the stronghold of Future Movement) with at least three shooting incidents, tossing grenades, beating, stabbing, tossing stones, threatening families and store owners, erecting roadblocks and checking the IDs of passengers, burning factories, banning the owners of some damaged stores from rebuilding them and attacking other stores and motorcycles.

The memorandum said that these attacks have also targeted many employees working in firms located in the Tariq el-Jdideh region.
It also listed the names of 28 perpetrators, including a member of an official security service and two other Palestinians affiliated with the Future Movement.

The paper also listed a number of attacks against civilians in the Na'meh and Haret el-Na'meh regions as well as the names of 16 perpetrators, all of them Future Movement members.
The memorandum added that the assailants who attacked Hussein Baghdadi in the Bshamoun region were also members of the Future Movement.

According to the memorandum, the Masna' region (near the border with Syria) had witnessed cases of kidnap carried out by Future Movement members just when the Doha conference was being held. It added that Tripoli had witnessed similar cases as well as attacks on residents and stores.

The memorandum stated in detail what happened when a Lebanese army vehicle carrying two arrested individuals in the Mal'ab al-Baladi region was attacked, the two arrested young men were nearly stabbed to death and soldiers were beaten by Future Movement members including Imad Zaghloul who was shot and injured two days ago in Beirut.

Mohamad Shmaysani - Almanar

Sarkozy's Lebanese Visit - Guess who accompanied him?

Monday, 9 June 2008

Sarkozy, who is heading a large delegation, arrived Saturday from Athens and was received at Beirut airport by Suleiman and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. His office has described the visit as an "unprecedented'' effort to show French support for the Lebanese people.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France visit Lebanon

France's main opposition leaders, Socialist Francois Hollande, the centrist Francois Bayrou, communist Marie-George Buffet and the left-wing leader Jean-Michel Baylet will accompany Sarkozy in this state visit, intended to send out a "message of unity" to the country.

The delegation is set to meet with leaders of 14 Lebanese political parties, including Hezbollah. Initially the date of this visit was the dateline intended to formalize the crytalization of the Unity Government Cabinet - Flopped!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Unity Government deadlock in Lebanon?

Monday, 9 June 2008

On the June 6, 2008 Almanar had reported that Hariri had suspended talks on the New Cabinet (Unity government) line up. Now there are report that Hariri had revoked that decision.

However there has been hackling among the ruling bloc regarding the appointments of the Cabinet posts especially to fill up the Maronite Chistian Quota and also the Sunni quota.

The new government should comprise 30 ministers. According to the political distribution, the loyalty bloc takes 16 seats, the opposition takes 11 and the President takes 3 ministers.

In terms of confessions, the government should be made up of 6 Maronite, 6 Sunni, 6 Shiite, 4 Orthodox, 3 Druze, 3 Catholic and 2 Armenian Ministers. Such distribution has put the loyalty bloc in front of a big problem on the Christian and Sunni levels.

What's Keeping Saniora from Announcing New Cabinet?

07/06/2008 Mora than 15 days have passed since the Doha Accord that put an end to the political crisis in Lebanon was signed. A new President has been elected and the opposition sit-in in down-town Beirut has been removed, however the new government with a guaranteeing one-third of ministers from the opposition (as stipulated in the agreement) has not been formed yet.

The Doha agreement ended a three-year epoch of power monopoly and decision appropriation by the ruling bloc against the Lebanese people.

What is keeping this new government from seeing light?
It's the ruling bloc itself, but how?

The new government should comprise 30 ministers. According to the political distribution, the loyalty bloc takes 16 seats, the opposition takes 11 and the President takes 3 ministers.
In terms of confessions, the government should be made up of 6 Maronite, 6 Sunni, 6 Shiite, 4 Orthodox, 3 Druze, 3 Catholic and 2 Armenian Ministers. Such distribution has put the loyalty bloc in front of a big problem on the Christian and Sunni levels.

The problem gets more complex on the Christian level, particularly the Maronite level. Of the 6 Maronite seats in the Cabinet, the President wants a minister and the Lebanese National Opposition – Namely MP General Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement – wants 2 seats leaving the loyalty bloc with three Maronite seats.

The problem begins here.

Prime Minister designate Fouad Saniora wants a seat reserved for his finance minister Jihad Az'our, the Phalanges Party (of former President Amine Gemayel) is demanding 2 seats and the Lebanese Forces (of Samir Geagea) is demanding three seats. Moreover, the Qornet Shehwan teams is also demanding a seat in the new Cabinet. Of course, there remains the representation dilemma of Social Affairs Minister in the caretaker government Nayla Moawwad and MP Butros Harb.

For Sunnis, there are 6 seats and there are Saniora, the Tripoli Bloc (headed by MP Mohammed Safadi who has become a burden on the loyalty bloc) and there is Tripoli MP Misbah Ahdab who wants a seat in the new Cabinet. This explains why Ahdab has been assailing Safadi.

There are similar complexities for the Orthodox and Catholic seats.
This has prompted the loyalty bloc to seek to take whatever it can from the opposition's share in the government. Saniora suggested giving them 8 portfolios and 3 ministers of states, however a source in the opposition said that Saniora's proposal was odd. "Suppose that we distributed the seat equally between Hezbollah, Amal and the Free Patriotic Movement, Shiites would have four portfolios in a government of 30 ministers, whereas Shiites had five portfolios in a government of 24 ministers, so how can this be?" the source wondered.
He also noted that the loyalty bloc still insists on considering some portfolios as its exclusive right. "The ministry of finance that MP Aoun is demanding is a red line and the communications ministry that Hezbollah is demanding is also a red line," the source said.

The government should have been announced before the arrival of French President Nicholas Sarkozy to Beirut, however the loyalty block has so far failed to resolve its differences over representation in the new Cabinet.

courtesy : almanar Mohamad Shmaysani

Rebellion. It's the word of the moment in Westminster.

Monday, 9 June 2008

In this world of tightly whipped discipline, any deviation from the party line is seen as a courageous act of career-crushing defiance.

But the proposal that is really getting rebel watchers excited is contained in the Counter-Terrorism Bill.

The House of Commons votes on Wednesday on extending 28-day detention limit to 42 days - and the result remains impossible to call . . more

Mr Brown - British PM

Israel threatens Iran

Sunday, 8 June 2008

On Saturday, Reuters reported that the Iranian UN ambassador Mohammad Khazaee had written to the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon demanding action from the Security Council in response to the Israeli threat. . . more

Mofaz, Israel's deputy Prime Minister. a former army chief, may be lining up a challenge to Olmert, said military strikes to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons looked "unavoidable".

Israeli deputy prime minister

Hariri Suspends Talks on New Cabinet Line-up

Friday, June 6, 2008

05/06/2008 Source Al-manar

While Lebanese were hoping the national unity government, agreed on in Doha, would finally see light to put an end to all disputes over ministerial seats and open the way for stability and prosperity in the country, an unexpected decision by MP Saad Hariri's Future Parliamentary bloc is likely to stall the whole process.

Without prior notice, the Future bloc announced Wednesday suspending talks over the cabinet line-up, under the pretext of an individual incident a day earlier near the Kuwaiti embassy in Beirut. Armed men reportedly opened fire at one Future Movement official in the area. He was identified as Imad Zaghloul.

Hariri put his decision in the framework of protest at what he called slack security in Beirut in the wake of repeated security breaches," urging Arab intervention to investigate facts.

Speaking to the Arab daily Al-Hayat, Hariri called on the Arab ministerial committee to "dispatch an Arab envoy immediately to investigate the facts in Beirut to guarantee implementation of the security part of the Doha agreement." "Does this atmosphere help solve the problems facing the cabinet line-up?" Hariri asked, claiming that "persistent attacks and provocations only complicate matters instead of turning a new page."

The unpredicted decision coincided with a visit made by Prime Minister-Designate Fouad Saniora to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri that was the first of its kind since the end of parliamentary consultations last week.

Saniora informed Berri on the Future bloc decision, what prompted the Speaker to call up Hariri in an effort to redirect things. Berri assured Hariri that Beirut's security would improve, stressing what should be done is that a new government assumes, through its security, military and judiciary bodies, responsibilities and protect citizens regardless of their political or sectarian affiliations.

The individual incident reminded of other recent security incidents in Beirut parallel to the many breaches by the pro-loyalty media to the media truce as stipulated in the Doha Accord.

For his part, Saniora said the issue must be "looked into,' yet insisted on continuing talks to form the longed for national-unity government.

After meeting Berri, he told journalists the government formula was progressing rapidly and reiterated he is not committed to a specific time to announce the new government as much as he's committed to the "quality of the government."

According to the Lebanese daily As-Safir, Saniora didn't brief Berri of any line up formula for the new cabinet, citing (opposition and loyalty) demands that still need to be addressed.

Meanwhile, Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman said on Wednesday there are some obstacles that are hindering the formation of the new cabinet, but stressed that all obstacles can be overcome through dialogue.

Speaking to a delegation of Arab ambassadors, Suleiman denied earlier reports that some foreign parties were pressuring him to nominate certain people for the next cabinet. "There is no party that can pressure the Presidential Palace in Baabda We are only ready to move under the pressure of national and Arab interests," Suleiman stressed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

UN Clears Cluster Bombs from Areas of South Lebanon

05/06/2008 Almost half of the areas in southern Lebanon contaminated with cluster bombs dropped by Israel in 2006 have been cleared, a UN official said on Wednesday. contaminated with cluster bombs dropped by Israeli warplanes.

"Forty three percent of the areas affected by the cluster bombs dropped during the July 2006 war have been cleared", UN Mine Action Coordination Centre for South Lebanon spokeswoman Dalya Farran said.
Clearing Cluster Bombs in Lebanon

"Efforts are currently underway to clean 49 percent of the contaminated areas," she said, adding that work has yet to begin in eight percent of the affected areas.

She said 970 contaminated sites had been found in an area spanning 39 million square meters (420 million square feet).

Since the war's end in August 2006, cluster bombs have caused "256 civilian casualties between deaths and injuries," according to Farran. She added that there have also been 51 casualties from the Lebanese army and international forces in the area.

Farran said Israel had to make known "the number of bombs that were dropped as well as their locations."

"Israel didn't respond yet to this repeated request from the United Nations so far," Farran said.

The United Nations has repeatedly asked Israel to provide a map of the locations of cluster bombs and mines in southern Lebanon in order to facilitate clearing efforts.

The United Nations says Israel dropped about one million bombs on Lebanon between July 12 and August 14, 2006, and that 40 percent of them did not explode when they hit the ground. Most of them are located in towns and fields in southern Lebanon.

courtesy almanar lebanon

Zimbabwe: Sharp crackdown on political opponents

4 June 2008

Amnesty International today condemned the detention of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai, saying that his detention was part of a sudden, sharp and dangerous crackdown on political opposition in the run-up to the elections.

“Morgan Tsvangirai should be released immediately – or charged with a recognizable criminal offense,” said Amnesty International.

MDC Leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Mugabe Oppositon

According to reports, Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested at a roadblock north of Bulawayo and is being held at a police charge office in Lupane. It is not clear what the charges are against him.

In March 2007, Tsvangirai, along with other MDC and other civil society activists, was severely beaten while in police custody and had to be hospitalised.

His arrest comes the day after the publication by Amnesty International of a damning report highlighting the extensive human rights violations that have taken place since parliamentary and presidential elections were held in March 2008. These include unlawful killings, torture and other ill-treatment, beatings, and the harassment and intimidation of mainly MDC supporters and human rights defenders in Zimbabwe.

The organization revealed that a witness to the abduction of an MDC senatorial candidate Shepherd Jani by suspected Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) agents has gone into hiding after he and his family received threatening phone calls from men believed to be state agents, who told him to hand himself in at Harare Central Police station. Amnesty International says his life is at risk and his family has also been threatened.

Kumbirai Masimo witnessed the abduction on 21 May of Shepherd Jani, senatorial candidate for Murewa North. Jani was abducted by suspected CIO operatives and his body was found days later.

“The government of Zimbabwe must ensure the safety and security of Morgan Tsvangirai, Kurmirai Masimo and all others at risk during this dangerous crackdown on those deemed to be a political threat to the ruling government,” said Amnesty International.

Mugabe rejects UN request to send special envoy.

The organization said that the bulk of the human rights violations are being perpetrated by supporters of the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party and members of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) -- generally known as “war veterans”.

State security organisations, in particular the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) have been unwilling to act against these perpetrators – allowing them to kill, torture, assault and burn homes and businesses of suspected MDC supporters with impunity. In fact, in some cases authorities have instigated or even directed attacks by these groups.

The Zimbabwean government is also severely tightening restrictions on international aid agencies operating in Zimbabwe.

“By introducing restrictions against aid workers in Zimbabwe, including CARE International, which was recently forced to suspend all of its field operations in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean government is attempting to hide the worst of the state-sponsored violence from the eyes of the world,” said Amnesty International.

Millions of people in Zimbabwe will be affected by the aid restrictions, which are likely to worsen significantly Zimbabwe’s food security problems.

To see a copy of the report Zimbabwe: A trail of violence after the ballot, please click here.

Courtesy Amnesty International

Attacks on- thousands of ethnic Somali.

The British and US governments are complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Ethiopian army in the Ogaden region of the Horn of Africa, a human rights group has claimed.

"The Ethiopian army's response to the rebels has been to viciously attack civilians in Ogaden," said the group's spokeswoman, Georgette Gagnon. "These atrocities amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity." . . . more
satellite images

Images obtained from satellites confirm reports that Ethiopia’s military has destroyed several towns and villages in the nation’s arid, rocky eastern region of Ogaden. The images were disclosed Thursday as part of a report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and provide evidence of burning and other destruction in the area. . . . more

The Deal American wants from Iraq Part 3

Iraq: New US plan for total control

Tens of thousands of Iraqis took to the streets last week as the provisions in the “accords” were leaked to the Arabic ­newspaper Al-Hayat.

Included in the treaty is the right for the US to launch wars on “third countries” from Iraqi soil.

Iraq SOFA demo

This is a direct threat against Iraq’s neighbours and another step towards a war on Iran.

But for many Iraqis, the biggest insult in the new treaty is that all US troops, citizens and mercenaries – the so-called contractors – will be immune from Iraqi law.

Under these terms, occupation forces can use deadly force under any conditions, giving them a green light to arrest, imprison or kill any Iraqi with no fear of prosecution or regard for the country’s institutions. . . more

While the Kurds are believed to be the only Iraqi group to support the agreement and the notion of long-term US military presence in the country, Shias and Sunnis have expressed their strong disapproval of the deal.

The Deal American wants from Iraq Part 2

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The mandate of US troops in Iraq will expire in December 2008 and Washington has been trying to win the support of Iraqi politicians over the deal which, the major terms, would allow the US military to have at least 13 permanent military bases and grant American citizens immunity from legal prosecution.

Thousands of Iraqi protested against the agreement

Al-Maliki's government is under US pressure to sign this 'mutual security agreement' which would allow the long-term presence of US troops in the oil rich country. There are widespread objections from Iraqi religious and Political figures and has raised doubts that negotiators can meet a July target to finalize a pact which according to critics would turn Iraq into a 'US colony'.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the US President George W. Bush signed the draft SOFA in 2007. The White House has also been struggling to win the support of the Iraqi lawmakers for the agreement by offering them bribes. According to sources in Iraq's parliament, Washington has offered three-million dollars in bribe to the MPs who sign the "framework accord."

Iraqi Cleric opposition

Iraq's Ayatollah Mohammad Sadegh Shirazi and Ayatollah Kasim al_Haeri has voiced concern over Washington's proposals for a long-term security agreement with Baghdad. Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani had already voiced his strong opposition to the deal in a meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the holy city of Najaf on Thursday.

Moqtada Al-Sadr has been vocal too, saying he will send delegations to other neighboring countries to gain their support in objecting against the SOFA and has called for demonstrations.

On Friday Tens of thousands of people took to streets throughout the country after Moqtada al Sadr called for the protests. Al-Sadr has also called for weekly protests against the deal.

Iraqi Politicians opposition

Head of the main Shia bloc in Iraq, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, whose alliance constitutes the backbone of the Iraqi government, has also expressed his reservations about the accord.

Iraqi politicians loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr including lawmakers Falah Hassan Shanshal and Maha Adel, have urged the government to hold a referendum on the US-Iraq 'security pact' and issued a statement on Saturday in Baghdad and called on the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to halt negotiations with the White House and hold a public referendum on the controversial issue.

The lawmakers also said they 'absolutely reject' the accord and urged all Iraqis to continue their peaceful demonstrations against it. A former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari highlighted that the agreement brings shame to the Iraqi nation.

Government reaction

In a new twist, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says the Iraqi nation will never fall under foreign tutelage nor will Iraq ever lose its sovereignty.

Maliki said Friday that there will be no need for the presence of occupational forces in Iraq as long as his government is able to enforce the law equally toward all factions and political parties in the country. "No one in Iraq will accept the guardianship of foreigners. All Iraqis oppose it," he added. He made these remarks in a meeting with Iranian apeaker and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on the sidelines of the Stockholm conference on Iraq.

Meanwhile, a senior Iraqi official has said that negotiations between the US and Iraqi government over a security agreement to extend US troops presence in Iraq beyond 2008 has hit snag. Sa'ad Javad Qandil, an advisor to the Iraqi vice president, said: "There are many big problems in the draft of the security deal; there would also be many setbacks in future talks."

Qandil added: "What is important at this stage is discussion over the principles and codes determining the details of the agreement." "These principles include respect to the Iraqi government's sovereignty, safeguarding the country's independence, removing the country from the UN charter's Chapter Seven, attempts to end the foreigners' presence in the country and taking from them the entire responsibility for establishing security, transparency regarding the items of the agreement, and making it public for the people's knowledge".

the deal american wants from iraq part 1

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cluster Bombs - reality & its banning

30 years after the Vietnam war, 78 million unexploded US cluster bombs remain scattered across Laos.

111 countries ban the use of cluster bombs, except Israel, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and the US.

Carter says Israel has 150 nukes

Aijaz Ahmad: Why is corporate media marginalizing a former President?

John Bolton escapes citizen's arrest at Hay Festival

John Bolton, the former American ambassador to the UN, managed to escape a British journalist's attempt to place him under citizen's arrest Wednesday evening at a festival in Wales. He had brushed off an attempted citizen’s arrest at the Hay Festival in Wales as “comic”.

Mr George Monbiot argues that Bolton helped plan the war in Iraq when he was undersecretary of state for arms control at the State Department, using information he knew to be false.

Mr Bolton said the war was legal, partly because Iraq had failed to comply with a key and binding UN resolution after the end of the Gulf War in 1991. On the war's legality, he added: "This is not my personal opinion, this is the opinion of the entire legal apparatus of the US government."

Mr Monbiot blocked by security guards

A crowd of about 20 protestors, one dressed in a latex George Bush mask, chanted "war criminal" as Mr Bolton was ushered away. Mr Monbiot was blocked by two heavily-built security guards at the end of the one-and-a-half hour appearance, before he could serve a "charge sheet" on him. Mr Monbiot said moments later he was "disappointed" that he had been blocked from making the citizen's arrest.

"This was a serious attempt to bring one of the perpetrators of the Iraq war to justice, for what is described under the Nuremberg Principles as an international crime," he said.

A citizen’s arrest is legal in certain circumstances under the under the Serious and Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

But Peter Florence, director of the Hay Festival, said on Wednesday that they had sought legal advice and been told carrying out such an arrest would be “completely unlawful” given the circumstances.

Iraqi clerics against SOFA & US bases

The Bush administration will have a hard time extracting a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) from the government in Baghdad – indefinitely stationing US military troops in the country just as in Japan and South Korea. Muqtada al-Sadr wants any agreement to be submitted to a national referendum. Grand Ayatollah Sistani has recently been visited by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Najaf. And he practically ordered Maliki to call a national referendum. Now Ayatollah Kazim al-Haeri – the 5th grand Ayatollah of Iraq - has issued a fatwa against the agreement.

Countries to Adopt Cluster Bomb Ban

30/05/2008 A conference of more a hundred nations has agreed on a draft treaty to ban current designs of cluster bombs and to destroy stockpiles within eight years.

The announcement on Wednesday came after 12 days of negotiations in Dublin, the Irish capital.

Countries from across the globe were to adopt a landmark convention banning cluster bombs in a formal ceremony on Friday, in a move supporters hope will stigmatize the lethal weapons as much as landmines. Diplomats from 111 countries were to adopt the treaty in a closing ceremony at Croke Park in the Irish capital after 12 days of robust negotiations at the Gaelic games stadium.

A Cluster Bomb Explsion

The convention, agreed Wednesday, outlaws the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. It also provides for victim welfare and clearing contaminated areas. Politicians and campaigners insisted it was a hugely significant pact despite the absence of key powers like the United States, China and Russia. Diplomats will adopt the treaty before Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin closes the conference.

Norway has spearheaded the treaty initiative and the convention is due to be signed in Oslo on December 2-3. States then have to ratify the pact. The United States, China, Russia, India, Pakistan and Israel did not participate in the convention talks, leading some commentators to question its worth. However, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere insisted the treaty would stigmatize the use of cluster bombs among those countries keeping their stockpiles.

Cluster munitions are among the weapons posing the gravest dangers to civilians, especially in heavily bombed countries. Dropped from planes or fired from artillery, they explode in mid-air, randomly scattering bomblets, with many civilians having been killed or maimed by their indiscriminate, wide area effect. They also pose a lasting threat as many bomblets fail to explode on impact.

The treaty is due to be signed in Oslo on December 2-3. The cluster munitions treaty requires the destruction of stockpiled munitions within eight years -- though it leaves the door open for future, more precise generations of cluster bombs that pose less harm to civilians. The treaty was welcomed by the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), an umbrella group of non-governmental organizations, which hopes it will stigmatize cluster munitions.

Courtesy almanartv

Factfile: Cluster bombs

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A cluster bomb, containing more than 600 bomblets, that was dropped
by an Israeli aircraft during the 2006 Lebanon war [ courtesy: File: AP]
  • Cluster bombs are containers holding multiple bomblets or submunitions.
  • They are fired into the air or dropped and break in mid-air. They have the potential to spread hundreds of bomblets over large areas - covering areas as large as several football fields.
  • Many of the munitions fail to work properly on release and remain a threat to people long after they are fired.
  • About 60 per cent of the people injured by cluster bombs are not involved in conflict activities.
  • A third of recorded cluster munitions casualties are children.
  • At least 14 countries have used cluster bombs, including France, the Netherlands, Russia, the UK, the US and Saudi Arabia.
  • Billions of cluster bombs are held by about 76 nations. Thirty-four states have produced the weapon.
  • Cluster bombs were first used by German and Soviet Union forces in the second world war.
  • The US used significant numbers of the munitions in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam during the 1970s.
  • More recently, Russia has used the weapon in Chechnya and the Sudanese government employed them during their civil war. Israel used them, and (Hezbollah was accused of using them - malafide statement), during the Lebanon war in 2006.
  • The weapon caused more civilian casualties in Iraq in 2003 and Kosovo in 1999 than any other weapon system.

* editors comment

Source: Cluster Munitions Coalition

courtesy al jazeera

Indonesia Pulls Out of OPEC

28/05/2008 Indonesian energy minister said Wednesday that his country is pulling out of OPEC, because it is no longer a net oil exporter. Purnomo Yusgiantoro told reporters it did not make sense for his oil-producing nation to be a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries at a time when domestic reserves were drying up and consumption increasing. "We are pulling out of OPEC,'' he said."I will sign the papers today.'' . . . more

Not Arab-Iranian, But Saudi-Iranian Problem

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

"Can you tell me what is the problem of Morocco, Algeria or even yours, as an Egyptian citizen, with Iran?" Who told you that there is a Syrian, Lebanese or Palestinian problem with Iran? Yes, Saudi Arabia has a problem with the Islamic Republic, which according to the kingdom is the result of a wave of presumed Shiitism, which is not true. Therefore, let Saudi Arabia fix its problems with Iran, but I will not accept that the Arabs shoulder the responsibility of the Saudi policy, because there is no such thing as an Arab-Iranian problem," President Assad told Mussa.

. . . . but in fact there is a Saudi-Iranian problem. . . . more

A Chinese Woman in PAS Country (a state in Malaysia under Islamic Party)

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

"I love my PAS," said a middle-aged Chinese businessman at the political rally as he got into his chauffeured four-wheel-drive with his wife. "PAS is good." When I pointed out the lack of entertainment, he quipped, "So what if there is no entertainment? It's not everything. You want a beer? I'll take you for a beer now."

Despite the fact that it has become an integral part of the opposition coalition in the parliament in Kuala Lumpur, federal power, however may not be the party's goal as its leaders appear quite content running their own little Islamic kingdom in this secluded and almost magical part of Malaysia, which has a distinct cultural identity. Many Kelantanese are proud of their state and their chief minister, Nik Aziz Nik Mat. The PAS spiritual advisor, fondly refered to by many as "Tok Guru" (teacher), has ruled since 1990 and has built a cult-like following with his spartan lifestyle and messianic mannerisms. . . . . more

Let’s give the warmonger George Bush a warm welcome

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

George Bush is a dangerous and desperate man – and now he is coming to Britain.

The US president is expected to visit London on Sunday 15 June as part of his European tour. The Stop the War Coalition is organising a protest to make him feel as unwelcome as possible.

Chris Nineham of the Stop the War Coalition told Socialist Worker, “The US is escalating the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. . . . more

US - Iran, Hezbollah, Hammas, Iraq issues

US and Iran: Is an Iraq grand bargain possible?

The Real News Network's Paul Jay talks to Gareth Porter about Iran, Iraq and the Bush administration. One of the fundamental reasons The White House is giving for a possible attack on Iran is that it is arming Iraqi militias that are killing American soldiers. The administration and the US military first began to talk about Iran as a source of weapons in 2005 but have yet to present concrete evidence to back the charges. Complicating matters is the fact that both Iran and the US support Iraq's al-Maliki government at the same time. While the White House hints at a possible attack on Iran, the US military talks about a deal over Iraq. But what kind of deal could it be?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Deal America wants from Iraq Part 1

Saturday, May 24, 2008

There are reliable reports that the Iraqi government might sign a long-term framework agreement with the United States, under which Washington would be allowed to set up permanent military bases in the country and US citizens would be granted immunity from legal prosecution in the country.

The US troops in Iraq.

The mandate of US troops in Iraq will expire in December 2008 and al-Maliki's government is under US pressure to sign 'a mutual security agreement' which would allow the long-term presence of US troops in Iraq, referred to by the Western media as the Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

Malik al-Nouri, Iraq's PM

According to Presstv, Iran, the main goals of the agreement:

- A part of the agreement covers issues regarding 'sustainable security': this section of the agreement will allow the US to build 3 to 12 military bases on Iraq's soil to maintain control over the country's military for an indefinite period. Under the agreement Iraqi military and security forces would not be able to carry out any operations independently and they would have to ask for permission from the US Military Command in Iraq. This section of the agreement would virtually result in the colonization of Iraq and would undermine the sovereignty of the country.

- Another section of the agreement would regulate the authority of US troops in Iraq: thorough this section the US would extend the privileges given to its troops and not only its military forces but also private US contractors like Black Water would be granted immunity from prosecution. All visa restrictions would be lifted for US nationals and they could freely travel to the country. In fact such humiliating conditions have never been imposed on any country even the defeated ones after World War II.

- The US would also be able to decide on agreements between Iraq and other nations and it would have the authority to veto any agreements between Iraq and US opponents. This section was in sharp contrast with Iraq's national interests and would have dire consequences for the nation's ties with other Middle Eastern states.

- Iraq's cultural affairs would be controlled by the US. In this way the US would be able to undermine the Islamic identity of Iraq, westernize the country and replace Islamic values with the Western ones.

The Grand Ayatollah has reiterated that he would not allow Iraq to sign such a deal with "the US occupiers" as long as he was alive, a source close to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said.

Weeping, women in Fadhil, Iraq.

Washington's plan has so far faced fierce protests by religious figures including Ayatollah Seyyed Kazem Haeri, another senior Shia cleric, and it is expected that other religious figures join the efforts to prevent the deal.

in Tehran, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami on Friday, in the Friday Kutbah, slammed as treachery to Islam a security accord due to be sealed between Baghdad and Washington on the presence of American occupation troops in Iraq.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

The mainstream media keep mum about the accord, critics say SOFA would virtually put Iraq under the US tutelage and violate the country's sovereignty.

British to Built two aircraft carriers.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

The ships, which will be 280 metres (919 feet) long by 70 metres wide and displace 65,000 tonnes full load carrying up to 40 aircraft, are expected to enter service in 2014 and 2016 respectively and be operational for 50 years. . . . more

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Counseling Gaza's traumatized children

As George Bush concludes his trip to the Middle East in another effort to revive talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Gaza, the small, overcrowded strip of land slides ever deeper into economic catastrophe. Another in The Guardian's film series about life in Gaza, multimedia reporter Clancy Chassay meets those counseling the area's traumatized children

The Iraqi Army occupation of Sadr City

US corporate media has found a feel good story about Iraq: “Operation Peace” – 3 brigades of 10 thousand Iraqi soldiers taking over the giant Sh’ite slum of Sadr City in Baghdad. Pepe Escobar says it is really still about Maliki supporting the al-Hakim family in its war of influence against the Sadr family.


Friday, May 23, 2008

1.Somaliland, without any international recognition is planning to hold local council and Presidential elections. The ruling and two opposition parties is working out an election Schedule with the Election Commission.

Somaliland a declare independence since 1990

2. Puntland, Somalia - Another Private Security Militia? – this one for Somalia. The two foreign companies that gain oil prospecting rights in Somalia have organized their own security militia. The militia have began providing major security services for them in moving their equipment to the required location

Private Security Militias providing security to oil companies.

Gen Adde Muse

While the leader of Puntland, who has been away for two months, Gen. Adde Muse, is having a hard time over moves that he did while visiting foreign countries (extradition agreement with Ethiopia) recently and the situation especially economy and security of the region. Gen Adde Muse is working on extend his mandate as the leader for Puntland for another year.

3. Somalia – Al Shabaab militia and ICU forces have taken another two towns, one each in the middle and southern Somalia - adding up to the numbers to five.

There are reports that the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) Parliament building in the south-western town of Baidoa has been under attacks by the opposition militias killing guards.

South Africa’s UN ambassador voiced that Ethiopia is guilty of acting against the United Nations Security Council arms embargo on Somalia by bringing in weapons into Somalia. This is the first direct swipe at the Americans sponsored occupation of Somalia by foreign forces.

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