Posts Tagged ‘military occupation’

Western oil firms remain as US exits Iraq

January 9, 2012

Dahr Jamail, Aljazeera, Jan 7, 2012

The end of the US military occupation does not mean Iraqis have full control of their oil.

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Baghdad, Iraq – While the US military has formally ended its occupation of Iraq, some of the largest western oil companies, ExxonMobil, BP and Shell, remain.

On November 27, 38 months after Royal Dutch Shell announced its pursuit of a massive gas deal in southern Iraq, the oil giant had its contract signed for a $17bn flared gas deal.

Three days later, the US-based energy firm Emerson submitted a bid for a contract to operate at Iraq’s giant Zubair oil field, which reportedly holds some eight million barrels of oil.

Earlier this year, Emerson was awarded a contract to provide crude oil metering systems and other technology for a new oil terminal in Basra, currently under construction in the Persian Gulf, and the company is installing control systems in the power stations in Hilla and Kerbala.

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Exit Strategies for Afghanistan and Iraq

March 10, 2010

By Tom Hayden, ZNet, March 10, 2010

Source: The Nation

Tom Hayden’s ZSpace Page

It’s been a long winter for the peace movement. Waiting for Obama has proved fruitless. The Great Recession has strengthened Wall Street and diverted attention from the wars. The debate over healthcare still won’t go away and has demoralized progressive advocates. Given a chance to exit from Afghanistan when the Karzai election proved to be stolen, President Obama escalated anyway, but also promised to “begin” exiting almost before an opposition could mobilize at home.

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The Rationale for Keeping U.S. Forces in Iraq

February 27, 2010
by Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, February 25, 2010

With the deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of next year creeping nearer, the U.S. has to find some way to convince the Iraqi government to allow a continued military presence, which is the likely outcome despite the U.S.-Iraq status of forces agreement containing the deadline.

One means by which this will be accomplished, relabeling “combat forces” something else, perhaps remaining as “military advisers” or something to that effect, has already been discussed. Thomas E. Ricks outlines another rationale for maintaining a military occupation of Iraq in the New York Times, offering up a variation on a theme that has been familiar throughout the war that is likely to become a mainstay in the political discourse.

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Jewish Anti-Occupation Activists Send Forceful Message to Israel

February 2, 2010

By Alex Kane, The Indypendent, Feb 1, 2010

For some Upper West Side residents, their usual stroll down Broadway this evening had a surprise:  a group of 20 New York Jews denouncing Israel’s occupation of Palestine were standing with thought-provoking signs while a few passed out flyers.

Challenging the assumption that all Jews support Israel no matter what, the action, organized by Jews Say No, called on Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza and to end the longest running military occupation in recent history.  The group was founded last year during Israel’s war on Gaza.

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The Gaza Ghetto and Western Cant

December 31, 2008

Tariq Ali | Counterpunch, Dec 30, 2008

The assault on the Gaza Ghetto, planned over six months and executed with perfect timing was designed largely to help the incumbent parties triumph in the forthcoming Israeli elections. The dead Palestinians are little more than election fodder in a cynical contest between the Right and the Far Right in Israel. Washington and its EU allies, perfectly aware that Gaza was about to be assaulted, as in the case of Lebanon a few years, sit back and watch. Washington, as is its wont, blames the pro-Hamas Palestinians, with Obama and Bush singing from the same AIPAC hymn sheet.

The EU politicians, having observed the build-up, the siege, the collective punishment inflicted on Gaza, the targeting of civilians, etc [See Harvard scholar Sara Roy’s chilling essay in the latest LRB] were convinced that it was the rocket attacks that had ‘provoked’ Israel but called on both sides to end the violence, with nil effect. The moth-eaten Mubarik dictatorship in Egypt and NATO’s favourite Islamists in Ankara, failed to even register a symbolic protest by recalling their Ambassadors from Israel. China and Russia did not convene a meeting of the UNSC to discuss the crisis.

As result of official apathy, one outcome of this latest attack will be to inflame Muslim communities throughout the world and swell the ranks of those very organisations that the West claims it is combating in the ‘war against terror’.

The bloodshed in Gaza raises broader strategic questions for both sides, issues related to recent history. One fact that needs to be recognised is that there is no Palestinian Authority. There never was one. The Oslo Accords were an unmitigated disaster for the Palestinians, creating a set of disconnected and shrivelled Palestinian ghettoes under the permanent watch of a brutal enforcer.

The PLO, once the repository of Palestinian hope, became little more than a supplicant for EU money. Western enthusiasm for democracy stops when those opposed to its policies are elected to office. The West and Israel tried everything to secure a Fatah victory: Palestinian voters rebuffed the concerted threats and bribes of the ‘international community’ in a campaign that saw Hamas members and other oppositionists routinely detained or assaulted by the IDF, their posters confiscated or destroyed, us and EU funds channelled into the Fatah campaign, and US Congressmen announcing that Hamas should not be allowed to run. Even the timing of the election was set by the determination to rig the outcome. Scheduled for the summer of 2005, it was delayed till January 2006 to give Abbas time to distribute assets in Gaza—in the words of an Egyptian intelligence officer: ‘the public will then support the Authority against Hamas’. Popular desire for a clean broom after ten years of corruption, bullying and bluster under Fatah proved stronger than all of this.

Hamas’s electoral triumph was treated as an ominous sign of rising fundamentalism, and a fearsome blow to the prospects of peace with Israel, by rulers and journalists across the Atlantic world. Immediate financial and diplomatic pressures were applied to force Hamas to adopt the same policies as those whom it defeated at the polls.
Uncompromised by the Palestinian Authority’s combination of greed and dependency, the self-enrichment of its servile spokesmen and policemen, and their acquiescence in a ‘peace process’ that has brought only further expropriation and misery to the population under them, Hamas offered the alternative of a simple example. Without any of the resources of its rival, it set up clinics, schools, hospitals, vocational training and welfare programmes for the poor. Its leaders and cadres lived frugally, within reach of ordinary people. It is this response to everyday needs that has won Hamas the broad basis of its support, not daily recitation of verses from the Koran.

How far its conduct in the second Intifada has given it an additional degree of credibility is less clear. Its armed attacks on Israel, like those of Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade or Islamic Jihad, have been retaliations against an occupation far more deadly than any actions it has ever undertaken. Measured on the scale of IDF killings, Palestinian strikes have been few and far between. The asymmetry was starkly exposed during Hamas’s unilateral ceasefire, begun in June 2003, and maintained throughout the summer despite the Israeli campaign of raids and mass arrests, which followed, in which some three hundred Hamas cadres were seized from the West Bank. On 19 August 2003 a self-proclaimed ‘Hamas’ cell from Hebron, disowned and denounced by the official leadership, blew up a bus in West Jerusalem, upon which Israel promptly assassinated the Hamas ceasefire’s negotiator, Ismail Abu Shanab. Hamas in turn responded. In return, the Palestinian Authority and Arab states cut funding to its charities and, in September 2003, the EU declared the whole Hamas movement to be a terrorist organization—a long-standing demand of Tel Aviv.

What has actually distinguished Hamas in a hopelessly unequal combat is not dispatch of suicide bombers, to which a range of competing groups resorted, but its superior discipline—demonstrated by its ability to enforce a self-declared ceasefire against Israel over the past year. All civilian deaths are to be condemned, but since Israel is their principal practitioner, Euro-American cant serves only to expose those who utter it. Overwhelmingly, the boot of murder is on the other foot, ruthlessly stamped into Palestine by a modern army equipped with jets, tanks and missiles in the longest armed oppression of modern history. ‘Nobody can reject or condemn the revolt of a people that has been suffering under military occupation for forty-five years against occupation force’: the words of General Shlomo Gazit, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, in 1993.

The real grievance of the EU and US against Hamas is that it refused to accept the capitulation of the Oslo Accords, and has rejected every subsequent effort, from Taba to Geneva, to pass off their calamities on the Palestinians. The West’s priority ever since was to break this resistance. Cutting off funding to the Palestinian Authority is an obvious weapon with which to bludgeon Hamas into submission. Boosting the presidential powers of Abbas—as publicly picked for his post by Washington, as was Karzai in Kabul—at the expense of the Legislative Council is another.

No serious efforts were made to negotiate with the elected Palestinian leadership. I doubt if Hamas could have been rapidly suborned to Western and Israel but it would not have been unprecedented. Hamas’s programmatic heritage remains mortgaged to the most fatal weakness of Palestinian nationalism: the belief that the political choices before it are either rejection of the existence of Israel altogether, or acceptance of the dismembered remnants of a fifth of the country. From the fantasy maximalism of the first to the pathetic minimalism of the second, the path is all too short, as the history of Fatah has shown. The test for Hamas is not whether it can be house-trained to the satisfaction of Western opinion, but whether it can break with this crippling tradition. Soon after the Hamas victory I was asked in public by a Palestinian what I would do in their place. ‘Dissolve the Palestinian Authority’, was my response and end the make-belief. To do so would situate the Palestinian national cause on its proper basis, with the demand that the country and its resources be divided equitably, in proportion to two populations that are equal in size—not 80 per cent to one and 20 per cent to the other, a dispossession of such iniquity that no self-respecting people will ever submit to it in the long run. The only acceptable alternative is a single state for Jews and Palestinians alike, in which the exactions of Zionism are repaired.

There is no other way. And Israeli citizens might ponder the following words from Shakespeare [The Merchant of Venice] that I have slightly altered:

‘I am a Palestinian. Hath not a Palestinian eyes? Hath not a Palestinian hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Jew is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that…the villainy you teach me, I will execute; and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.’

Tariq Ali’s latest book, ‘The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power’ is published by Scribner.


Haiti: In Solidarity with its Five Freedoms

October 5, 2008

By James Petras | Information Clearing House, Oct 5, 2008

Today the acid test for all democrats in North and South America is the issue of the military occupation of Haiti, the economic pillage and denial of elementary political and human rights of the Haitian people.

In 2004 a US-led invasion force overthrew the democratically elected government of Jean Bertrand Aristide and subsequently promoted and organized an occupation army. This colonial military force has repeatedly violently repressed popular demonstrations, violently raided the neighborhoods of the poor and killed, wounded and arrested Haitians who were affirming their rights of self-determination and an end to foreign occupation.

Since the United States bears major responsibility for the invasion, occupation and subsequent pillage and privatization of essential public services, we have a special responsibility to speak out clearly and forcefully to the United Nations (UN) in support of Haiti’s Five Freedoms:

1. The UN must end its military presence of Haiti through its occupation army (MINUSTAH), action contrary to the very founding principles of the organization. Haiti must recover the right of self-determination and the freedom to govern itself.

2. The Haitian people demand the end of the pillage of its national treasury by official and private banks extracting payments of $1 million USD a week for illegitimate debts contracted by past corrupt dictatorial regimes. Haitians demand freedom from illegitimate elite debts in order to finance basic life-sustaining programs for the 80% of the population living in extreme poverty.

3. Every country, which has suffered massive natural disasters, as the hurricanes that recently devastated Haiti, is entitled to large-scale, long-term humanitarian aid with no strings attached. Haitians demand the immediate fulfilling of aid pledged and its allocation according to needs without MINUSTAH manipulation to perpetuate its occupation.

4. The collapse of the free market model today highlights the disastrous consequences of the IMF-World Bank policies of privatization of public services in Haiti, where ‘private health and education’ effectively excludes the vast majority of Haitians. Haitians must regain the right to re-nationalize public services and all other strategic economic sectors necessary for their well-being.

5. Free elections means the return of deposed, exiled and persecuted political leaders and the end of foreign military occupation and repression of anti-colonial movements. Elections with occupation guns pointed at the heads of the electors and candidates have no legitimacy. We, the American people in North, South and Central America, have a responsibility to demand the end of MINUSTAH and the return national sovereignty to the Haitian people. No government no matter what its political claims and rhetoric can justify its democratic credentials when it acts as a colonial gendarme.

James Petras latest book , Zionism,Militarism and the Decline of U.S. Power – Clarity Press :Atlanta Ga.

RIGHTS: U.N. Report Castigates Israel for Harassing Journalists

October 4, 2008

By Thalif Deen | Inter-Press Service


UNITED NATIONS, Oct 3 (IPS) – A new United Nations report on the human rights situation in Palestinian territories blasts the Israeli government for its heavy-handed treatment of journalists reporting on the military occupation.

The 20-page report, which will go before the 63rd sessions of the General Assembly currently underway, singles out the mistreatment of award-winning Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer who was stripped, interrogated, kicked and beaten up when he returned from Europe to his home town in the occupied territory of Gaza last June.

A stringer for Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency, Omer, 24, was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism for “displaying courage and ability in covering war zones”.

The U.N. report, by Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, says that Omer was convinced the brutal assault on his person was carried out by personnel from Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency.

The security agents “were fully aware that he had received the Gellhorn Prize while abroad, and were attempting to confiscate the award money, but were frustrated because it has been deposited in a bank account and was unavailable.”

When he left Gaza for Europe to pick up his prize, he was assured of the benefit of a Dutch diplomatic escort on his return.

But the escort arrived late at the Allenby Bridge border, where he was interrogated and beaten up and lost consciousness.

According to Omer’s testimony, he was forced to strip by an Israeli officer wearing a police uniform. He was pinned down on the floor with a boot on the neck. He says he collapsed during interrogation, and when he came round his eyelids were being forcibly opened. He was then dragged along the floor by his feet by officials of Shin Bet.

Omer was taken by ambulance from the Allenby crossing to the Jericho hospital in Palestinian territory in the West Bank. From there he was transferred to Gaza after a few hours.

A note from the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) denies Omer’s account of physical abuse in Israeli custody. “In contradiction to his claims, at no time was the complainant subjected to either physical or mental violence.”

But an ambulance report of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society says: “We note finger signs on the neck and chest.” A report from the European Gaza Hospital of the Palestinian National Authority’s Ministry of Health includes the following notation following examination of Omer: “Ecchymosis (discolouration caused by bleeding underneath, typically caused by bruising) at upper part of chest wall was found.”

Following the assault, international press freedom groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders called for an immediate and public investigation of Omer’s treatment.

By private communication, Falk was assured by the Dutch Ambassador in Geneva that the incident is being taken “extremely seriously” and that an explanation is being sought from the government of Israel.

But at the time of the U.N. report, no response had been received to either request for an account and an explanation.

Falk says the unfortunate incident “cannot be discounted as an accident or an anomaly involving undisciplined Israeli security personnel.”

“The treatment of Mr. Omer seems to have been motivated by Israeli anger over international recognition of his journalism describing the occupation of Gaza, his willingness to repeat his descriptions abroad and his dedication and intention to continue in the professional role of bearing witness to the excesses of the occupation.”

Falk also points out that all Palestinians are subject to arbitrary harassment and abuse at borders and military checkpoints, “although the hostility towards journalists seems particularly severe.”

During his time in Europe, Omer had also spoken before European parliamentary audiences, describing the suffering in Gaza caused by the Israeli siege, closures and fuel and food shortages.

“It should be noted,” says Falk, “that Mr. Omer was not charged with any offence, nor was he carrying any prohibited materials.”

His treatment, as described, appears to constitute a flagrant violation of article 3(1)(a)(c) of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits “outrages on personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment” of persons under military occupation.

Nadia Hijab, senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for Palestine Studies, told IPS: “Richard Falk is absolutely right.”

She said other journalists have been killed or injured by Israeli security forces, even though they and their vehicles were clearly marked as “press”.

But there are several particularly chilling aspects to Israel’s assault against Mohammed Omer, she added.

“He had just been on a successful European speaking tour and received a prestigious award, and he was being met by European diplomats on his return home,” she noted.

Through its actions, said Hijab, Israel was sending a message that no Palestinian, journalist or otherwise, is safe and that even European diplomats are no match for Israel.

“That is a very chilling message to a defenceless people,” she added.

In his report, Falk also says that although the incident affected only one individual, it inevitably has “a chilling effect, and appears to be part of a broader pattern of Israeli punitive interference with independent journalistic reporting on the occupation.”

Falk says the United Nations has a “clear responsibility and definite obligation to protect independent journalism, especially in war zones and areas under occupation, as part of its commitment to human rights and international law.”

Asked if the United Nations is doing enough to protect reporters covering the occupied territories, Hijab told IPS: “The United Nations is not equipped to protect reporters covering the occupied territories, just as it is not equipped to protect civilians.”

“The only possible protection would be for the U.S. and/or Europe to make it very clear to Israel that they do not condone its violations of international law,” she added.


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