Revolution is in the Air: 5/30/11: NATO corrects the record: we only killed nine civilians

INDEX (stories follow)

EVENTS

 

Egyptian Military summons comrade Hossam

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
IMPERIALISM IN WORD & DEED

Oh, really? We did not know that. How surprising. We assumed that Western powers never intervene in internal affairs of Arab countries

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)

EVENTS

Egyptian Military summons comrade Hossam

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“Blogger Hossam El-Hamalawy and television host Reem Maged were given a summons on Monday to appear before military prosecution after Maged screened on her show on Thursday Hamalawy criticising the role of military police, holding the head of the military police responsible for torturing activists.” (thanks Ahmet)

Zionists will freak out some more: the new Egypt

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“Egypt’s foreign minister, Dr Nabil El Arabi, has affirmed that the detention of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the torture and killing of some, “represents a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convection and the principles of human rights and international humanitarian laws”. He added, “These violations require urgent investigation and the prosecution of those responsible for inhumane practices before an international tribunal.“”

Justice for Bahrain

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
Bahraini comrades sent me this:  “As you may know the oppressors in Bahrain are targeting professional women arresting from their places of work or study. Many have disappeared into military style prisons and have not had access to lawyers or their families. The few who have been released report sexual attacks, verbal and physical insults and threats and other forms of torture. I attach for your attention a spreadsheet with the names of only 55 of these detainess. You will note that one of those arrested is a pregnant woman who happens to be the wife of an activist.  Many others are young women in their early 20’s. One of these young ladies is a poet and a student teacher who was arrested after 4 of her brothers were threatened at gunpoint to turn their sister in.  No other Arabic regime has used torture and arrest against women to crush protests in this systematic and brutal manner. Yet media outlets in the west and Aljazeera Arabic are largely silent on these abuses in stark and shameful contrast to the coverage given to other protests.  I ask you to urge the young women who read your blog to do whatever they can to call for the release of these detainees.”  Visit here for the “Justice for Bahrain” campaign.

Manal Charif and women’s rights in Saudi Arabia

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
This is a report about the case.  (thanks Madawi)

NATO corrects the record: we only killed nine civilians

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“Afghan officials said Sunday that a NATO airstrike had killed 14 civilians, most of them women and children, in the southern province of Helmand on Saturday night.
Local officials said the strike was aimed at Taliban fighters and missed, hitting two family homes.  But in a conflicting account, a high-level NATO official said Sunday night that nine civilians were killed in the strike, which was aimed at five insurgents who attacked a coalition foot patrol and killed a Marine. The insurgents continued to fire from inside a compound when NATO forces called in the strike.”

Afghanistan: NATO raids kill civilians —again

from World War 4 Report blogs by WW4 Report
Two NATO air-strikes in Afghanistan May 29 again killed civilian villagers, outraged residents ad local officials said. One strike on Nawzad in Helmand province, apparently launched in response to an attack by the Taliban on US Marine forces, killed 14. Officials said that all of the dead were women and children, and that of the six injured, only two were men, both unarmed civilians. President Hamid Karzai’s office issued a formal statement condemning the attack. The other strike took place in the Doab district of remote northeastern province ofNuristan, and killed 38 civilians, 20 of whom were part of the local police force, local officials said. The police officers were apparently engaged in ground fighting with the Taliban insurgents. Afghan TV showed images of the Nawzad casualties being taken into hospitals and bereaved relatives cradling the bodies of several young children wrapped in bloody sheets. A NATO spokesman said that an investigation was under way. (The GuardianGamut, May 29)

Secret Libyan rebel leaders

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“Still, it may explain why the rebels’ Transitional National Council has so far refused to reveal the identities of most of its members. (This is a big issue for the United States, which has not recognized the rebels, at least in part out of concern over who its leaders really are.)”

Iraq: Maliki hedges on US withdrawal; Sadr back in the saddle

from World War 4 Report blogs by WW4 Report
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has maintained for months that he’ll stand by his agreement for the withdrawal of all US troops from the country by the end of this year, has in recent weeks done a turnaround—now saying he’d support keeping some troops in Iraq after the deadline. Maliki outlined his position at a press conference, saying he’s willing to meet Iraq’s elected officials and consider whether some US troops should stay beyond this December. “We won’t get unanimous agreement on this issue,” Maliki said. “But if we get 70 or 80 percent, isn’t that the will of the people? Isn’t this the democracy we have worked so hard for?” (NPR, May 29).
IMPERIALISM IN WORD & DEED

Oh, really? We did not know that. How surprising. We assumed that Western powers never intervene in internal affairs of Arab countries

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“An al-Jazeera report appears to show western special forces on the frontline in Libya, in what the TV channel said was “evidence for the first time of allied boots on the ground“.” (thanks AK)

With sweets and flowers

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
According to New York Times, Libyan people receive NATO bombers with “sweets and flowers.”

Arab Bank for Counter-Revolution

From The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“Meanwhile, Qatar has been talking to oil-rich Gulf partners about a new plan to create a Middle East Development Bank to support Arab states in transitions to democracy. It has been inspired by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development that helped to rebuild the economies and societies of eastern bloc countries at the end of the cold war. One person familiar with the Qatari plan for a Middle Eastern development bank said it envisaged tens of billions of dollars of yearly lending for political transitions. He said Qatar was seeking the support of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates for theinitiative.” (thanks Sultan)

The return of Palestinian Egypt: this should be read by Zionists worldwide (so they can freak out some more)

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
Famed Egyptian journalist, `Abdul-Halim Qandil, writes about “the return of Palestinian Egypt.”
HISTORY & ANALYSIS

Syria: The strong risk of fitna, and how to prevent it

Josh Landis has a truly excellent piece on his blog today. It is a lengthy account that he’s publishing there, that was written by someone identified only as “An American in Syria.” Whoever the writer is, the writing shows the closeness of her/his own connectedness to Syrians in Damascus of a variety of views and backgrounds, the acuity of his/her ability to understand the dangerous social fragmentation that seems to be ripping through the heart of Syrian society right now, and her/his own deep humanity.

The writer– or Landis?– identifies the following eleven themes in the essay:

      – the new phenomenon of Dera’an separateness
      – the challenging experience of Shia minority in the Dera’a muhafiza
      – effects of the suppression on the entire muhafiza, not just the city
      – identity as geographical, not only tribal/sectarian
      – new Damascene attitudes toward Dera’ans
      – Christian passivity and approval for the suppression
      – conservative trends in Sunni society vs. denial of Salafist presence
      – Alawi movement from prior measured criticism of the regime to a new, fanatical patriotism
      – reaction of Lebanese Shia, effect on large, extended family groups that span the Lebanon-Syria border
      – Hizbullah’s rapidly declining popularity among opposition Syrians
      – experience of opposition-oriented Syrian AUB students in Lebanon, threats

This piece is part of a fine tradition of great descriptions of how it feels to be inside a country that is undergoing a social fragmentation that is speedy, deep, and often comes as a huge surprise to the people who are undergoing/participating in the process, themselves… In Spring 1994, I published a review of two great books that explored the process from the inside, in both Lebanon and former Yugoslavia… I already archived the text of that review on JWN, several years ago. You can find it here.

One key lesson from both books is just how fast the ruptures, fissures, fears, scars, and worldview of fitna can spread through a whole society.

Since Spring 1994, of course, we have seen many other instances of seemingly stable societies splintering in a shockingly speedy and violent way. Right then, in April 1994, there was Rwanda… Since then, the first big examples that come to mind are post-invasion Iraq and Kenya.

There are many, many things that a responsible national government, responsible opposition politicians, and deeply engaged outsiders can do to arrest and even reverse this process of social breakdown (fitna.) Thus far, neither the Syrian government nor– as far as I can see– the opposition leaders, nor any outsiders have done anything effective in this regard.

The time to act is now (or yesterday.) The tools are widely available in all the annals of diplomacy and negotiation. Various governments (Norway, Qatar, Turkey, Switzerland) and non-governmental organizations like the Sant’ Egidio group in Rome have a lot of experience in figuring out how to stop and reverse the process ofiftitan.

A basic agreement not to demonize or diminish any “other” group of human beings, just for being members of that group, is key. So is a commitment to always be conservative in the way people report atrocities, tragedies, or other harms, as opposed to allowing exaggeration, fearmongering, and warmongering to enter into and take over the discourse. Finally, focusing on a strong concept of equal co-citizenship in the one country is an excellent way to restore respect among all the co-citizens, to underline their joint commitment to the wellbeing of their one country, and to pave the way for establishment of a democratic and accountable political system going forward.

But as I said, the time to act is now. Otherwise, Rwanda beckons.

The reactionary Egyptian government DID NOT open the Rafah crossing

from Jews sans frontieres by Gabriel
While most gush over the public relation stunt pulled by the lousy, reactionary, zionist, neoliberal, comprador government of post Mubarak Egypt, it is worth noting the Rafah passage remains tightly controlled in coordination with Israel.

Egypt on Saturday reopened the Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip to people but not goods after keeping it closed for more than four years.

It will be open to people for eight hours daily except Fridays and public holidays People under 18 or older than 40 will require only a visa to pass, but those between 18 and 40 will still need security clearance, crossing officials say.Commercial traffic will continue to have to pass through border points with Israel, which controls all other access points to the area.(RFI)

The most important outcome of the “new” Egyptian policy is that Israel continues to decide how many calories people in Gaza ought to consume. Goods cannot pass through Rafah.

The second most important outcome is that Israel’s policy of singling out young men, which has been in force for years in Jerusalem (men between 18 and 45 cannot visit the holy sites of Islam in Jerusalem), is now exported to Gaza. What has happened is that the “new” Egypt is becoming even more like the “old” Israel in relation to Palestinian liberty.

Finally, there is the issue of the security clearances. The file of every Palestinian man from Gaza who wants to travel will be sent by the Egyptian security services to their supervisors in Israel, to be approved or rejected.

What did change is that the new Egyptian government, unlike the Mubarak government, is afraid of its people. It therefore must use the technology of the spectacle, which Western governments are so well trained in, to confuse the people. Thus, we had a public relation stunt, consisting of “the opening of the Rafah border crossing,” playing in newspapers and networks, with dramatic music and pomp. And Israel, playing its role in the spectacle, reacted with anger and fear (which is directed at Israeli Jews, who need to be scared out of their wits by the mere thought that people in Gaza would enjoy anything.) But Israel has nothing to fear from the “new” Egyptian government. That government is still Israel’s best ally in the region.

Then there is the Egyptian people. The people, as an upper-class Englishman once said, is “a many headed monster” that causes folks like Netanyahu, Obama and Tantawi to wet their beds at night. Whether the people will be fooled remains to be seen.

Time to Begin Leaving Afghanistan

from Informed Comment by Juan
1 person liked this
Memorial Day, in my view, should be a time of reflection not only on the sacrifices made for the nation in war but on whether our wars are necessary and whether they are being fought in the right way.

The Iraqi people and the parliament want the US out of Iraq, and the US public wants out, and that withdrawal should proceed as outlined in the SOFA (i.e. US out by the end of the year). The Iraqi military is such that Baghdad will likely muddle through without the Pentagon. Moreover, trying to keep US troops in a country where they are widely disliked can only cause a lot of trouble. There are no US troops in Libya and US air involvement is limited in favor of NATO- and Arab League- UN allies. It in any case is likely to be a limited engagement. The place where there are over 100,000 US troops doing war-fighting on a large scale and over many years is Afghanistan, which for some reason gets less press and less public interest than Libya.

The protests in Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, against yet another alleged killing of 14 women and children in an airstrike that went awry, reminds us that the big counter-insurgency effort in that country still has not produced social peace, still has not yielded a government capable of taking over security duties. NATO has had to issue an apology. If Afghan police and soldiers could project authority and force in local areas, air strikes would be unnecessary. And after nearly 10 years since the overthrow of the Taliban, it is legitimate to ask when and how exactly local troops can be expected to take up this slack?

The deadly Taliban suicide bombing in the north of the country, which killed the police chief, a German officer, and NATO troops, raises questions about the Karzai government’s preparedness:

Popout

But those who are skittish about a proposed US withdrawal in 2014, saying it is too soon, have to tell us when exactly it won’t be too soon. It is the Afghans’ country; when will they be willing and able to fight for it?

The US public is tired of forever wars, and the idea that massive counter-insurgency is necessary to fight al-Qaeda has been belied by the success of a small, focused counter-terrorism operation against Usama Bin Laden.

On this Memorial Day, it is time to start thinking about how to get out of Afghanistan, where the US has no vital interest, where there are no resources to speak of, where the international will to stay on the part of NATO allies is collapsing, and where the Karzai government has been erratic and corrupt. Regional powers have an interest in it not becoming terrorism central again, and the US has shown it can strike smart and on a micro-level. Hundreds of thousands of troops and decades of nation-building are the wrong way to go on this one.

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This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Background & Analysis, Bahrain, Counterinsurgency, Egypt, Events, Human Rights, Imperialism, Imperialist Interference & Views, Libya, US Foreign Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

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