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Western Asia ("Middle East")

Field Notes on American-Style Democracy

Field Notes on American-Style Democracy - by Stephen Lendman

Perhaps George Bernard Shaw was thinking of Obama's administration when he said, "Democracy is a form of government that substitutes election by the incompetent many for the appointment of the corrupt few."

Obama upholds the tradition and then some, doing more harm globally in two years than most of history's tinpot despots in decades, yet most of it gets little attention. Imagine what's planned ahead. Already, his legacy includes:

-- breaking every key promise he made across the board;

-- looting the nation's wealth, wrecking the economy, and consigning growing millions to impoverishment without jobs, homes, savings, social services, or futures;

-- enacting greater Wall Street empowerment, disguised as financial reform;

We're All Egyptians Now!

We're All Egyptians Now! - by Stephen Lendman

And Tunisians, and Yemenis, and Algerians, and Jordanians, and Lebanese, and, of course, Palestinians, suffering for over six decades after Israel stole their historic homeland, over 43 years under brutal, suffocating occupation. Their struggle is ours, and it's high time we reacted, showing spirit as courageous as theirs.

In her latest January 31 article, Phyllis Bennis headlined, "Tunisia's Spark and Egypt's Flame: the Middle East is Rising," asking:

"Is this how empires end, with people flooding the streets, demanding resignation of their leaders and forcing local dictators out? Maybe not entirely, (but the) legacy of US-dominated governments across the region will never be the same. The US empire's reach in the resource-rich and strategically vital Middle East has been shaken to its core....The years of Washington calling the shots (based on its) version of 'stability' are definitively over."

End Game in Egypt

End Game in Egypt - by Stephen Lendman

On February 3, New York Times writers Helene Cooper and Mark Landler headlined, "White House, Egypt Discuss Plan for Mubarak's Exit," saying:

His administration is "discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for (Mubarak) to resign immediately and turn over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military," including Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, armed forces chief, and Field Marshall Mohamed Tantawi, defense minister.

The alleged plan includes constitutional reform, a transitional government with opposition groups like the Muslim brotherhood, and "free and fair elections in September."

Testifying during a February 3 Senate hearing, senior CIA official Stephanie O'Sullivan said earlier tracking of Cairo instability showed conditions were "untenable," but "we didn't know what the triggering mechanism would be."

After Mubarak: What's Next?

After Mubarak: What's Next? - by Stephen Lendman

The line from Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore relates well to what's going on in Egypt, perhaps elsewhere in the region as well, saying: "Things are seldom as they seem. Skim milk masquerades as cream."

Visceral street anger is real. What's orchestrating it, however, is suspect, especially its likely Washington impresario, implementing long-planned regime change for new faces continuing old policies, leaving deep-rooted hardships unaddressed. The script is familiar.

In his book "Freedom Next Time," John Pilger discussed Nelson Mandela's betrayal in post-apartheid South Africa, embracing what he called "Thatcherism," telling Pilger:

"You can put any label on it you like; you can call it Thatcherite, but for this country, privatization is the fundamental policy."

In 1990, two weeks before freed from prison, he was quoted saying:

Wake Up Call for U.S. Empire: Egypt an Opportunity for a Transformational New Beginning

By Kevin Zeese

Egypt is an alarm that highlights the urgent need for change in U.S. foreign policy. It provides President Obama an opportunity to transform a foreign policy that has often had the opposite effect that was sought and is undermining U.S. economic and national security.

The list of recent policy failures in the Middle East is quite astounding:

Swapping a Dictator for a Torturer in Egypt

By James Ridgeway

As things now stand, the United States appears ready to have Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak tossed out in exchange for his newly-named Vice President, Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian spy master. That is, maintain the status quo by swapping one dictator for another.

Of course, Israel must sign off on this deal aimed at assuring that Egypt can remain as America’s main base in the region, straddling as it does North Africa and the Middle East. Without that status quo, the U.S. would have to rethink its entire neo-colonial policies in the region.

But Suleiman looks like a nasty piece of work.

You don’t get much about him in the US corporate media, but Agence France Press has pulled together the basics:

Alan Dershowitz Supporting Tyranny?

Alan Dershowitz Supporting Tyranny? - by Stephen Lendman

Perhaps so in his January 31 Huffington article titled, "The Egyptian Revolution May Produce a Lebanon-Type Islamic Regime," saying:

"No one can confidently predict the outcome, both short and long term...." He then quoted Zhou Enlai once saying "It's too soon to say," when asked to assess the 1789 French Revolution.

Regime changes produce good, bad and in-between results, he said, ranging from his notion of post-Soviet societies to Hitler and other less ambitious despots. As for "liberated" Eastern European states, neoliberal tyranny proved much worse than harsh communist rule, but don't expect Dershowitz to explain or discuss decades of Washington/Israeli state terror and lawlessness. More on his article below.

A Marxist Analysis: Arab Uproar

By Ron Ridenour

Long time in the making! Long time suffering poverty, inequality, official murder-torture-imprisonment, despotism, fundamentalism, and governments lackeyed to US/Western powers.

I am no expert on Arabic/Middle East history or politics, other than knowing that US/Israel-led imperialism has had a grip on the entire area for decades, and before that there were other foreign oppressors. I know that in part of the Arab world—so far not involved in this uproar—the US-led “humanitarian” operation has cost over one million Iraqi lives, created millions of refugees, tortured tens of thousands and destroyed incalculable cultural wealth and history. European allies assisted in this butchery. Something similar is occurring in Afghanistan, and extending into Pakistan.

Egypt's Revolution: Obama Backing Regime Change?

Egypt's Revolution: Obama Backing Regime Change? - by Stephen Lendman

In July 2003, a USAF Institute for National Security Studies report titled, "Egypt as a Failing State: Implications for US National Security" suggested "Mubarak's traditionally autocratic and oppressive short-term fixes" weren't working. As a result, "the possibility of unrest is real; with the correct confluence of domestic, regional, and international events, Egypt can quickly be added to the list of failed states....This paper (thus) contends that (the appearance of) democracy is a security imperative for the post-9/11 world."

In its July/August 2010 Failed States Index 2010, ForeignPolicy (FP) ranked nations under five categories: critical, in danger, borderline, stable and most stable. Ranked 49th among 177 countries evaluated, FP called Egypt a failed state "in danger." It scored lowest in three "delegitimization" categories because of:

-- endemic corruption, including ruling elite profiteering;

Why Washington Clings to a Failed Middle East Strategy

By Gareth Porter,

The death throes of the Mubarak regime in Egypt signal a new level of crisis for a U.S. Middle East strategy that has shown itself over and over again in recent years to be based on nothing more than the illusion of power.  The incipient loss of the U.S. client regime in Egypt is an obvious moment for a fundamental adjustment in that strategy.

The Last Zealots: Hack History on the Right

By John Grant

It was a dark and stormy night and Scat Horbath was glad to be out of the weather in the Washington DC metro, where he was to meet the sinister Ali Ben al-Masseur in the last car of the Blue Train.

Al-Masseur ran the Brothers Of Islam Charity Center in Arlington, and he held the clue to a two-thousand-year-old secret that had been scratched in code into the bottom of John Hancock’s pewter chamber pot. The fate of the free world hung in the balance.

The doors opened, and Scat entered the nearly empty car. As the car moved off he became aware of the subtle smell of falafal. Then he saw his man, seated at the end of the car chewing as he read from a copy of The Koran.

Al-Masseur looked up and flicked his tongue, projecting little pieces of yogurt sauce into the air.

“So, Scat, we meet again.”

Revolutionary Change in Egypt: Internal or Made in USA?

Revolutionary Change in Egypt: Internal or Made in USA? - by Stephen Lendman

US imperial policy includes regime change, affecting foes as well as no longer useful friends. Past targets included former Philippines leader Ferdinand Marcos, Iran's Shah (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi), and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, among others. According to some reports, Mubarak is next - aging, damaged and expendable.

George Friedman runs Stratfor, a private global intelligence service. On January 29, he issued a special Egypt report, saying:

On January 29, "Egypt's internal security forces (including Central Security Forces anti-riot paramilitaries) were glaringly absent" after confronting protesters forcefully for several days. Army personnel replaced them. Demonstrators welcomed them.

Revolutionary Middle East Change

Revolutionary Middle East Change - by Stephen Lendman

Democratic Middle East birth pangs may have legs enough to spread regionally, including in Occupied Palestine.

Officially launched in Cairo in 1959, the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) offers hope, driven by a commitment for Palestinian liberation. With more than 100 chapters and over 100,000 members, it's organized rallies, political debates, cultural programs, and other initiatives to spread truths about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Perhaps inspired by events across the region, on January 27, its press release headlined, "Palestinian students claim right to participate in shaping our destiny," saying:

Fear Extreme Islamists in the Arab World? Blame Washington.

By Jeff Cohen

In the last year of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. questioned U.S. military interventions against progressive movements in the Third World by invoking a JFK quote: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Were he alive to have witnessed the last three decades of U.S. foreign policy, King might update that quote by noting: “Those who make secular revolution impossible will make extreme Islamist revolution inevitable.”

For decades beginning during the Cold War, U.S. policy in the Islamic world has been aimed at suppressing secular reformist and leftist movements. Beginning with the CIA-engineered coup against a secular democratic reform government in Iran in 1953 (it was about oil), Washington has propped up dictators, coaching these regimes in the black arts of torture and mayhem against secular liberals and the left.

President Obama's State of the Union Speech: WTF?

By Dave Lindorff

I never expected to find myself agreeing with Sarah Palin, but I’ve got to admit that the woman nailed it regarding President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address. Asked to comment on it, she said it had a lot of “WTF moments.”

That’s exactly what I found myself thinking as I read through it!

We’ve “broken the back” of the recession? WTF? The official unemployment rate is still 9.4%, and even that is down slightly from a 9.8% high only because so many people have given up trying to find a job and have left the workforce, taking early retirement or just staying home. And the real unemployment rate--the one that counts those who have given up but would work if there were actually jobs to be had, and those who have grasped at part time work just to survive--is still at between 19% and 22%, depending on how you’re counting. Who’s Obama kidding: us or himself?

Middle East Intifadas

Middle East Intifadas - by Stephen Lendman

Initially in Tunisia, popular revolt spread regionally across North Africa and the Middle East, erupting in Algeria, Jordan, Egypt and Yemen. On January 27, Al Jazeera reported revolutionary fervor in Egypt, saying:

"On Thursday, protesters hurled petrol bombs at a fire station in Suez, setting it ablaze. They tried but failed to (torch) a local" Mubarak-controlled National Party office. Near Giza, on Cairo's outskirts, police attacked hundreds of protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets and batons. In Ismailia, the scene repeated, police using similar tactics to disperse crowds. Ahead of expected massive Friday protests, Cairo was uncharacteristically quiet.

On January 28, Al Jazeerah headlined, "Fresh protests erupt in Egypt, saying:

Following Friday prayers, "angry demonstrators demand(ed) an end to Hosni Mubarak's 30-year presidency....(d)etermined protesters," vowing to "carry on until their demands are met."

Chas Freeman: US No Longer Qualified to Mediate Mideast Peace

By Just World Books

In his remarks today at the DC's New America Foundation, Ambassador Chas Freeman Jr. presented a scathing critique of a  US foreign policy in the Middle East.  He explained that the current trajectory of US foreign policy is bound to unfold more and more disasters around the world, noting that US missions in Afghanistan and Iraq and the stalled Israel/Palestinian peace process are exhausting America's political and economic capital.  Rather than pursue national interests, he argues, the US has become subject to a series of self-defeating policies and unsustainable civilian-military relations.  He made the case to revisit the original US objectives in Afghanistan, to reconsider the cost of US aggression and military supremacy in the world and to "outsource" the fumbled US role in the Mideast peace process to more credible nations. A video of his complete remarks is below. 

Amb. Freeman's latest book, "America's Misadventures in the Middle East" presents a series of essays on  US policy in the Middle East, covering the first Gulf War, the disastrous US invasion of Iraq, America's failure to engage in diplomacy and the relationship of Saudi Arabia with Western and world powers.  The book delves in depth into many of the arguments presented by Ambassador Freeman at Wednesday's NAF talk. 

Video streaming by Ustream



Mixed-Media: Assange and Posada in the Propaganda System

By Edward S. Herman and David Peterson

By an historical coincidence, both Julian Assange and Luis Posada Carriles were brought before Western courts around the same time in late 2010 and early 2011—Assange in Britain and Posada in the United States. The contrast in their treatment by the U.S.-Anglo system of justice and in their handling by the Western establishment media is enlightening.

Posada, now 82, is a self-confessed terrorist, Bay of Pigs veteran, School of the Americas graduate, and CIA operative who has been credibly placed at two meetings where the plan was hatched for the October 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed all 73 civilians aboard. He also has been implicated in numerous other terrorist acts in which people were killed or injured and property destroyed, and he played a role in the United States' arms-smuggling network in Central America that eventually came to light in the Iran-Contra investigations.

Historical Amnesia: The Nation's Number One Disease

By John Grant

Recent indicators suggest the US military mission in the Middle East and Southwest Asia is waning in influence, leaving us mired down with hundreds of thousands of soldiers and billions of dollars of equipment and bases. And a lot of face to save.

According to a New York Times analysis, Turkey and Iran are rising in regional influence as the United States is falling. And let's not forget, arguably the single-most important historical act that boosted Iran to this level of regional influence was the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

“The jockeying might be a glimpse of a post-American Middle East,” writes Anthony Shadid in the Times analysis.

Still, you have to admire US leaders for their talent and tenacity in never publicly recognizing the obvious. George Bush, of course, was an underestimated master at this.

Bradley Manning Walking in the Footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Kevin Zeese

“The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong. . . that we have been detrimental to . . .life . . . . The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways,” said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when speaking of the Vietnam War.

Bradley Manning and the Rule of Law

By Kevin Zeese

The case of Private Bradley Manning raises legal issues about his pre-trial detention, freedom of speech and the press, as well as proving his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Putting aside Manning’s guilt or innocence, if Bradley Manning saw the Afghan and Iraq war diaries as well as the diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks what should he have done? And, what should be the proper response of government to their publication?

The Chemistry of Empire

In the beginning, chemicals collided and catalyzed, evolving a system of development from non-living to living things, proteins and nucleic acids interacting--greeting and meeting, dating and mating—in a metaphorical dance of romance. The recipe to make more was born. Now, chemicals portend the end. So much tells us so. An eye for an eye doesn’t just blind the world; it annihilates. The blueprint for reproduction becomes one of destruction.

I’m not relaxed.

Sen. Lindsay Graham advocates permanent military presence in Afghanistan, despite an objection from Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government.

And despite the deaths of thousands of military men and women during Bush’s war—the War OF Terror that passed seamlessly to Commander Obama. Last week, two US troops died in Iraq where combat ENDED months ago. Because the president told us so, even announcing the improved name of the non-war: Operation New Dawn.

Islamophobia Explained:

A Conversation With Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Alejandro Beutel

Dec 27th, 2010 - Not since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 has the fear and loathing of Muslims been as virulent, as widespread among Americans, and as close to morphing from hateful rhetoric into life-threatening violence.

A Better Time? When?

It’s been so cold I’ve powered on the elliptical trainer. I prefer running through my neighborhood, in sunshine, observing people, reading bumper-sticker messages, and breathing fresh air.

I was on the exerciser, though, and consumed enough by the monotony (groan) to glance OFTEN at the mounting minutes. I was thinking about cutting the workout short but, instead, decided to reverse and go backwards. Backwards, backwards, my legs worked, and, suddenly, I was struck by a thought--the possibility that I could continue this redirection and undo time. I could accelerate the pace until the mile display indicated a negative as I ellipti-seized the past. Faster and faster, I would retreat to a place in my life that carried the promise of fullness, satisfaction, those days when the children were young and more was right in my world.

The Irony

US trauma treatment center assists Iraqi refugees

Dec 23, 2010 - Ekhlas Gorgees kept her composure as she recounted the horrific traumas she and her family endured in Iraq.

She calmly recalled how her husband was severely wounded after a bomb exploded outside of his Baghdad plumbing shop, how she was threatened at gunpoint while walking home from church and how her family tried to escape north to the city of Mosul just before a bloody attack on civilians sent them fleeing back to the capital. It wasn't until later when she talked about the difficulty of leaving her homeland that the tears came.

"We are the native people of Iraq - it's hard for us to leave our native country," she said through an interpreter. "The hope - even now - is to go back to my country."

‘Muslim terrorist’ ????

‘Muslim terrorist’ on Air Malta plane turns out to be Caribbean Christian

24 December 2010 - The story that made the rounds of the world that a Muslim man was apprehended on an Air Malta plane when he persisted in praying out aloud in the aisle just as the plane was taxying to take off at London’s Heathrow Airport, now has to be revised.

It was a Caribbean Christian man, Maria Busuttil who was on the plane with him, told The Times. And the prayer he was chanting was the ‘Our Father’.

Yet even yesterday on In-Nazzjon, Brian Grech who had a hand in restraining the man, still insisted the man was an Arab Muslim.

Writing on The Times comment pages yesterday, Ahmed Sain wrote: “For all of you who made a comment yesterday on this subject, I think you got it all wrong regarding this man’s religion. Now you guys ask for forgiveness.”

The Bankster Merry-Go-Round

Obama apologists are on a low rung of the ladder to hope, hoping that the president will, suddenly, fulfill some of his promises of, yes, hope.

Articles and letters have been composed, direct pleas to the president, by historians, economists, former politicians, retired veterans, physicians, educators, the underemployed, unemployed, and others, all people who just want the man they supported to do something, anything, indicating that he is real, that he works for americaville, for them, for the woe-man on the street.

This week we saw a fired-up Obama, defending negotiations with Republicans. The president explained his position on tax breaks for the wealthy, saying he compromised to insure tax cuts for the middle class. A majority of Americans oppose extending Bush-era tax cuts to the rich.

Friend or Foe?

In the muddy of my mind, the Minutemen are singing “Warfare” lyrics:

Falling down the road
Steeper as it goes
Friend or foe
Nobody knows

In the muddy of my mind the Minutemen are singing “The Big Stick” lyrics: “We learn and believe there is justice for us all and we lie to ourselves with a big stick up our ass.”

On Monday, six US troops, serving in Afghanistan, died after receiving friend-foe fire from an Afghan police officer during a training exercise. Friend or foe (?) must be among the many complexities servicemen, women, and their families ponder.

This wasn’t unique, isn’t an aberration. Similar incidents have occurred. Last December, five British soldiers were killed by an Afghan police officer.

Wikileaks: The Faucet Has Opened!

I'll say this again: Sadly it looks like these don't go back far enough, I for one want to know how much it cost this country for the so called 'coalition of the willing' for the invasion of Iraq, and there's still plenty that needs to be added to what has already come out as to the previous admin!!

US embassy cables: browse the database

Sunday 28 November 2010 - Use our interactive guide to discover what has been revealed in the leak of 250,000 US diplomatic cables. Find stories and original documents by country, subject or people Visit to Use Their Interactive Globe and More

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