Archive for January, 2011

PA stonewalled the Goldstone vote

January 27, 2011
PA, with US encouragement, delayed a UN vote on the Goldstone Report into war crimes committed during Israel’s Gaza war.
S. Farhan Mustafa, Al Jazeera , 26 Jan 2011

The Palestine Papers reveal the conversations between US and PA officials in the days before the vote [EPA]

On October 2, 2009, the UN Human Rights Council was widely expected to pass a resolution supporting the Goldstone Report, the UN’s probe of war crimes committed during Israel’s war in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009.

The Council instead agreed to delay a vote on the report until March 2010, following major reservations expressed by the Palestinian Authority, the United States and Israel.

A UNHRC endorsement of the report would have brought Israeli officials one step closer to prosecution before a war crimes tribunal, an event many Palestinians were anxious to see.

But, as The Palestine Papers reveal, the Palestinian Authority apparently sacrificed a potential victory for Palestinian victims in exchange for favorable assurances on negotiations from the United States and, they hoped, from Israel.

Quid pro quo

The Goldstone Report, formally known as the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, was released in mid-September 2009 amid calls for a review of Israel’s wartime practices. The probe was led by Richard Goldstone, a former South African judge; it identified war crimes committed overwhelmingly by Israeli forces, but also by Hamas, during Israel’s war on Gaza.

“Bad faith”

Both the United States and Israel were outspoken in their criticism of the report, claiming that any UN endorsement would endanger the peace process and future Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has already admitted that the PA asked for the postponement; he said at the time it was to secure more international support before the vote.

“Since we felt we would not be able to gather enough support we asked for the postponement,” Abbas said in October 2009. “We wanted to reach mechanisms that would ensure the implementation of the decision and punish the perpetrators of crimes against our people.”

What The Palestine Papers demonstrate is that, in the weeks preceding the vote, the United States apparently urged the PA to stall the report as a means of restarting negotiations with Israel.

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Hosni Mubarak, our man in Cairo: Egypt’s protesters have grown impatient with U.S. realism

January 27, 2011

By Eric Trager, NY Daily News, Thursday, January 27th 2011

Obama meets with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the White House in August, 2009.


Obama meets with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the White House in August, 2009.

CAIRO – Last night, as the second day of popular demonstrations that have gripped huge chunks of downtown Cairo and beyond continued past dusk, a hundreds-strong crowd outside the Lawyers Syndicate suddenly swapped slogans.

After hours of chanting, “usqut, usqut ya Mubarak!” – “Fall, fall Mubarak!” – they turned their tongues toward another target: “Mubarak ‘ameel American!” – “Mubarak is an American agent!”

It remains unclear where these demonstrations are heading and what their long-term implications will be. But there remains one long-term certainty: Someday, President Hosni Mubarak will either retire or die. And when this happens, he will leave behind approximately 80 million constituents, many of whom will blame the United States for backing his brutal rule even in its most unsympathetic moments.

And the blame game is already starting.

This is not to say that the United States tops the demonstrators’ grievance list – the regime, which has ruled the country for 29 years, does, along with the many facets of its domestic repression. But in conversations, demonstrators routinely express their disapproval of the United States’ longtime financial support for the very security forces that stand in the way of their freedom. They call the U.S. “arrogant,” “disrespectful” and “hypocritical.”

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Pakistan flood crisis as bad as African famines, UN says

January 27, 2011

Unicef survey shows almost a quarter of people malnourished in Sindh province six months after floods

Declan Walsh in Islamabad, The Guardian, Jan 27, 2011

Pakistanis wave to an army helicopter dropping food aid to a village in Sindh after the floods Pakistanis wave to an army helicopter dropping food aid to a village in Sindh after the floods. A survey found 6% of people in the province are severely underfed. Photograph: Declan Walsh for the Guardian

A “humanitarian crisis of epic proportions” is unfolding in flood-hit areas of southern Pakistan where malnutrition rates rival those of African countries affected by famine, according to the United Nations.

In Sindh province, where some villages are still under water six months after the floods, almost one quarter of people are malnourished while 6% are severely underfed, a Unicef survey has found.

“I haven’t seen malnutrition this bad since the worst of the famine in Ethiopia, Darfur and Chad. It’s shockingly bad,” said Karen Allen, deputy head of Unicef in Pakistan.

The survey reflects the continuing impact of the massive August floods, which affected 20 million people across an area the size of England, sweeping away 2.2m hectares of farmland.

The figures were alarming, Neva Khan, of Oxfam, said.

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American drone attacks provoke fury in Pakistan

January 26, 2011

By James Cogan,, January 26, 2011


Thousands of people rallied on Sunday in Mir Ali, a town in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal agency, and in Peshawar, the capital of the country’s north-west Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, in furious protest against a wave of US Predator missile strikes on homes and vehicles inside Pakistan.Hundreds of Pashtun tribesmen spontaneously assembled for the Mir Ali demonstration. Just hours before, a Predator had stalked a car allegedly carrying four anti-US militants and incinerated it with Hellfire missiles when it parked in the village of Doga Madakhel. All the occupants were killed.

Two other Predator strikes followed. A motorcycle rider and two others were killed not far from Doga Madakhel, then at least six people were killed by another missile strike on a house near Miranshah, the largest town in North Waziristan.

Sunday’s demonstration in Peshawar highlighted the growing fury in Pakistan over the US operations inside the country—which are gross violations of Pakistani sovereignty and war crimes under the Geneva Convention, which bans extrajudicial assassinations and the targeting of civilian housing and vehicles.

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Tens of thousands march in Egypt against Mubarak regime

January 26, 2011
By Johannes Stern and Stefan Steinberg ,, 26 January 2011
Police charge demonstrators

The thirty-year-old US-backed dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak was shaken by an unprecedented wave of mass demonstrations Tuesday demanding an end to the regime. An estimated 20,000 protesters, largely youth and young workers, defied a huge deployment of riot police and paramilitary troops in the center of Cairo, and thousands more rallied in cities across the country.

The demonstrators hailed the mass protests that ousted long-time Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14 and demanded that Mubarak follow Ben Ali’s example and resign. Police attacked the rallies in Cairo and other cities, firing tear gas and water cannon and wielding clubs. Two protesters were reported killed in Suez, east of Cairo.

The day in Cairo began with a massive buildup of police and paramilitary units in the city center. Central Security Forces trucks were deployed in front of the High Court in downtown Cairo and police moved in to cordon off large sections of the city center.

Demonstrators in Cairo advanced in star formation from the city’s suburbs to assemble in the centre. At midday, reports emerged of hundreds protesting in Dar El-Salam, south of Cairo, chanting “bread and freedom.” The protest was quickly broken up by the police.

Marchers demonstrated in front of the ruling National Democratic Party headquarters in Cairo chanting, “We want a free government” and “Down with Mubarak.” Later, crowds advanced to Tahrir Square and attempted to storm the Egyptian parliament. They were met by waves of police and security forces who used water cannon, tear gas and clubs to repulse them.

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Tunisia’s Worrying Precedent: Arab Rulers Fear Spread of Democracy Fever

January 26, 2011

By Clemens Höges, Bernhard Zand and Helene Zuber,

Spiegel Online,  Jan 25, 2011

A man attempts to set himself on fire in Cairo: The self-immolation that set off the protests that toppled Tunisia's leader has inspired copycats in other North African states.


A man attempts to set himself on fire in Cairo: The self-immolation that set off the protests that toppled Tunisia’s leader has inspired copycats in other North African states.

In the wake of Tunisia’s mostly peaceful revolution, Arab leaders are worried that their young, frustrated populations might follow suit. While the West sits back and watches, regimes stress stability over genuine democracy and hope to calm simmering discontent with cash.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom don’t have all that much in common, but they do share one thing: Neither thinks much of the revolution in Tunisia.


“I fear that we now stand before a new and very critical phase in the Arab world,” Shalom, who was himself born in Tunisia in 1958, said in an interview aired on Israeli radio on Jan. 14. Israel and the majority of its Arab neighbors now agree on the importance of fighting Islamic fundamentalism, Shalom said. His concern lies with what might happen if Arab states start becoming democratic. He fears Tunisia might “set a precedent that could be repeated in other countries, possibly affecting directly the stability of our system.” If democratic governments take over Israel’s neighboring states, the vice prime minister said, the days of the Arab-Israeli security alliance will be over.

Gadhafi also complained that he was “very pained” to see his friend Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime collapse and Tunisia descend into fear and insecurity. “What is this for?” he asked. “To change Zine El Abidine? Hasn’t he told you he would step down after three years? Be patient for three years and your son stays alive.”

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US threat to Palestinians: change leadership and we cut funds

January 26, 2011

Obama administration told Palestinian Authority its leaders must remain in office if it wants to retain US financial backing

Seumas Milne and Ian Black, The Guardian, Jan 24, 2011

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas with US president Barack Obama The government of Barack Obama (right) ‘expects to see the same Palestinian faces’, such as President Mahmoud Abbas (left), if it is to continue funding the Palestinian Authority. Photograph: Rex FeaturesThe Obama administration has privately made clear that it will not allow any change of Palestinian leadership in the West Bank, the leaked papers reveal, let alone any repetition of the Hamas election victory that briefly gave the Islamists control of the Palestinian Authority five years ago.

That is despite the fact that the democratic legitimacy of both the Palestinian president and Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), and prime minister, Salam Fayyad, is strongly contested among Palestinians, and there are no plans for new elections in either the West Bank or Gaza.

“The new US administration expects to see the same Palestinian faces (Abu Mazen and Salam Fayyad) if it is to continue funding the Palestinian Authority,” the then assistant secretary of state David Welch is recorded as telling Fayyad in November 2008. Most of the PA’s funding comes from the US and European Union.

Almost a year later, the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, reacted angrily to news that Abbas had threatened to resign and call for new presidential elections. She told Palestinian negotiators: “Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] not running in the election is not an option – there is no alternative to him.” The threat was withdrawn and no election was held.

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Robert Fisk: A new truth dawns on the Arab world

January 26, 2011

Leaked Palestinian files have put a region in revolutionary mood

The Independent, January 26, 2011

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator, during a rally yesterday Reuters: Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator, during a rally yesterday

The Palestine Papers are as damning as the Balfour Declaration. The Palestinian “Authority” – one has to put this word in quotation marks – was prepared, and is prepared to give up the “right of return” of perhaps seven million refugees to what is now Israel for a “state” that may be only 10 per cent (at most) of British mandate Palestine.And as these dreadful papers are revealed, the Egyptian people are calling for the downfall of President Mubarak, and the Lebanese are appointing a prime minister who will supply the Hezbollah. Rarely has the Arab world seen anything like this.

To start with the Palestine Papers, it is clear that the representatives of the Palestinian people were ready to destroy any hope of the refugees going home.

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Hindutva: A Story of Hate and Terror

January 25, 2011

Promising Hindu superiority, Hindutva has been turned into a vicious doctrine that promotes ultra-nationalism, religious fundamentalism and intolerance

Shahid R. Siddiqi, Foreign Policy Journal, January 25, 2011

Muslims are a suspect community in India and, in some states more than others, are increasingly becoming targets of scorn and terrorism at the hands of radical and fundamentalist Hindu outfits. What lies at the root of this is a fundamental change in the outlook of a segment of Hindus towards non-Hindus and minorities.

They call this doctrine of hate and terror, ‘Hindutva’.

In an election related petition before the Bombay High Court the appellants contended that an appeal to vote for Hindutva amounted to an appeal to vote on grounds of religion and therefore is a corrupt practice under the law. The respondents argued that ‘Dharma’ or ‘Hindutva’ or ‘Hinduism’ are all synonymous terms and appeal to vote for Hindutva was not for religion, but for culture. The Bombay High Court agreed that Hindutva or Hinduism was culture falling within Article 29 of the Constitution.

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Indian Hindu Nationalists March to Kashmir

January 25, 2011

World Bulletin, January  25, 2011

Thousands of Indian Hindu-nationalist opposition supporters massed on a bridge to the disputed Muslim Kashmir region on Tuesday as officials sought to stop a flag-raising ceremony that could spark violence.

Police faced off with flag-waving Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers as authorities sealed routes into Kashmir to thwart the planned raising of the national flag in the Muslim state that majority opposes to Indian rule.

Police forced about 7,000 marchers on to buses and drove them away, police sources said, while the remaining 2,500 protesters attempting to cross the border from the Jammu region into Kashmir faced arrest or detention.

Officials in Kashmir fear that the symbolic show of Indian cental control over the disputed region could trigger protests in which more than 100 people were killed by police fire last year.

“There is no justification whatsoever to push a political agenda that will certainly affect peace and law and order in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Home Minister P. Chidamabaram said in a statement.

“It would be most unfortunate if the BJP leaders defy the restrictions placed by the state government or deliberately cause a breach of the peace.”

The state government, backed by the ruling Congress party, sealed all road links into the state, media reported, a day after BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were detained at the airport in the main Kashmiri city of Srinagar and sent back out.

Senior BJP officials have said raising the national flag in Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir, to celebrate India’s Republic Day on Wednesday, was a “patriotic right”, and have vowed to push on with their march to the city.

“We have started march towards J&K … We are marching in a group of 500 people holding tricolour (flag)… Huge police presence on the other side of the bridge,” Swaraj, the BJP leader in the lower house of parliament, posted on Twitter.

In 1948, the United Nations adopted a resolution calling for a referendum for Kashmir to determine whether the Himalayan region should be part of India and Pakistan. But India has rejected to hold referendum in Kashmiri territory.


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