Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Rumsfeld: Don't Call Them Insurgents!

November 29, 2005
Associated Press.

Washington--More than 2 and 1/2 years into the Iraq war, Donald H. Rumsfeld has decided the enemy are not Insurgents.

"the group of people who don't merit the word 'Insurgency,' I think," Rumsfeld said Tuesday at a Pentagon conference.

He said the thought had come to him suddenly over the thanksgiving weekend.
"It was an epiphany."

Rumsfeld's comments drew chuckles but had a serious side.

"I think that you can have a legitimate Insurgency in a country that has popular support and has a cohesiveness and has a legitimate gripe," he said.

"these people don't have a legitimate gripe," still he acknowledged that his point may not be supported by the standard definition of 'Insurgent.' He promised to look it up.

Webster's new world college dictionary defines the term "Insurgent" as "rising up against established authority."

Even Gen. Peter Pace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who stood beside Rumsfeld at the news conference, found it impossible to describe the fighting in Iraq without using the term 'Insurgent.'

After the word slipped out the first time, Pace looked sheepishly at Rumsfeld and quipped apologetically, "I have to use the word 'Insurgent' because I can't think of a better word right now."

Without missing a beat, Rumsfeld replied with a wide grin: "enemies of the legitimate Iraqi government. How's that?

Was Cairo Meet First Step Toward Peace Talks?

by-Gareth Porter
November 29, 2005
Inter Press Service

The final Communique of the Cairo Conference of Iraqi political groups last week appears to be a tentative first step in a process that could eventually lead to a peace settlement in Iraq. The Shi'ite leadership of Iraq may not be ready to negotiate with the Sunni Insurgents yet, but its behavior at the conference suggests that it it is not ruling out that option.

The surprising agreement between the Sunnis and the government representatives on setting a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and the legitimacy of "resistance" to the occupation was the result of a carefully crafted compromise between factions that remain bitter rivals with different visions of how the war should end.

The language on withdrawal of coalition forces, for example, cleverly combined the Sunni demand for a timetable for withdrawal with the Shi'ite and Kurdish insistence on increasing the nation's ability to "get control of the security situation." The key sentence in the communique begins with, "we demand the withdrawal of foreign forces in accordance with a timetable"-certainly a major concession to the Sunnis.

The Sunnis, in turn, made a concession to the Shi'ites and Kurds by supporting their insistence on adequate Iraqi forces. Specifically, they accepted a demand for "the establishment of an immediate national program for rebuilding the armed forces through drills, preparation, and being armed, on a sound basis that will allow it to guard Iraq's borders and to get control of the security situation."

The phrase "rebuilding the armed forces" was undoubtedly proposed by the Sunni negotiators, however. It implies the need for restructuring the military by allowing former Ba'athist officers in Saddam Hussein's army to play a role. In the past, Shi'ite leaders have rejected any role for Ba'athists in the government institutions.

The most difficult issue negotiated in Cairo was how to characterize the Sunni resistance and its relationship to terrorism in Iraq. The initial position of the government at the meeting was to lump together those who continue to attack US and Iraqi forces with the al-qaeda foreign Jihadists as "terrorists," suggesting that the Sunni resistance organizations must lay down their arms before any deal is possible. The Sunni representatives on the other hand, insisted that resistance to occupation must be recognized as legitimate.

The biggest surprise, therefore, was the acceptance by Kurdish and Shi'ite representatives of the statement that "resistance is a legitimate right for all people," which implies recognition that the Sunni resistance is legitimate politically. The Sunnis agreed that "terrorism does not represent legitimate resistance," and that attacks on nonmilitary targets are indeed "terrorism." The statement is an obvious jab at the foreign Jihadists who have routinely targeted civilians, particularly Shi'ites. The communique also condemned "takfir"--the practice of declaring some Iraqis to be "infidels."

Shi'ite leaders apparently saw Sunni approval of those positions as a political victory, clearly dividing them from the al-qaeda organization in Iraq. But in fact the Sunni Insurgent organizations have never hidden their opposition to the tactics and ideology of the foreign Jihadists in the country. Evidence of strained relations between the largely secular Insurgents and the al-qaeda-led groups has continued to grow ever since the Insurgency took shape.

Other provisions of the communique also contributed to the creation of a framework within which future peace talks could take place. The document includes a commitment to Iraq's unity, although its meaning was left undefined. It called for releasing all "Innocent detainees," who have not been convicted by courts, and for the Investigation of all allegations of torture and holding accountable those responsible. Finally, it demanded "an Immediate stop to arbitrary raids and arrests without a documented judicial order." These points coincide with demands made previously by Insurgent groups through Sunni Intermediaries."

The Cairo communique takes on greater significance because it was apparently approved by leaders of some of the major resistance organizations as well as by representatives of the government. Among the Sunni representatives at the conference was Harith Al-Dhari, the Secretary-General of the Influential Association of Muslim Scholars, who is generally agreed to have a direct link to several resistance organizations through his son Muthanna.

Furthermore, some Insurgent leaders were reportedly in the corridors during the negotiation of the communique. Sunni former interim government minister Ayham Al-Samarrai announced the week before the meeting that leaders of several Insurgent organizations, whom he did not identify, would attend the meeting. The government refused to agree to their formal participation in the conference, but Al-Samarrai told Investigative Journalist Robert Dreyfuss that several of those resistance group leaders were actually present on the fringes of the meeting.

The outcome of the conference, in the context of a broader "reconciliation conference" scheduled for February, raises the question of whether it could lead to more direct peace talks between the government and Sunni resistance groups. That possibility is certain to be the subject of serious discussions within the government between Kurdish and Shi'ite leaders. President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, took a significant step toward direct talks at the conference, when he said, "if those who call themselves the Iraqi resistance desire to contact me, I shall welcome them."

The london-based newspaper Al-Hayat reported at the end of the conference that Insurgent groups had already given their conditions for peace directly to Talibani. Talibani apparently was acting without the agreement of his Shi'ite allies in the government. Militant Shi'ite party leaders have nursed hopes for a longer US occupation that would continue to weaken the Sunnis while building up Shi'ite forces. They have been more adamant about ruling out such negotiations in the past and did not join Talabani in Cairo in agreeing to meet with Sunni resistance leaders. Even the Shi'ite leaders may be rethinking their strategy of seeking to impose a unilateral military solution on the Sunnis.

However, the same day the Cairo Conference ended, Shi'ite Interior Minister Bayan Jabr suggested that occupation forces might leave Iraq by the end of 2006--a radical departure from previous government policy toward the US presence--This new Shi'ite willingness to agree with Sunnis on a short-term withdrawal is not the result of increased confidence that the Sunni Insurgency is on the verge of defeat. Rather it is probably being driven by the dramatic erosion of popular support for the US occupation of Iraq, and the obvious conclusion that only a limited period of tolerance for US troop presence remains. In light of the domestic US political realities, key Shi'ite leaders may have concluded, however reluctantly, that they can no longer ignore the option of peace negotiations.

The Cairo Communique is still very far from being a peace agreement. Major political obstacles could still delay or even halt permanently the process before it began. But it suggests for the first time that peace negotiations between the warring factions are withing the realm of possibility.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Realists Tighten Grip As Talks Open With Iran

by-Jim Lobe
November 29, 2005
Inter Press Service

In a new indication that the balance of power within the administration of president George W. Bush has tilted strongly in favor of the realists, Washington's influential Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, has disclosed that Bush authorized him to open direct talks with Iran about stabilizing Iraq.

The announcement, which came in an interview with Newsweek Magazine, marks a major change in policy. The two countries have not held direct talks since mid-may 2003, shortly after the US ouster of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, when the influence of the neoconservatives was at its zenith.

At that time, the administration charged that al-qaeda attacks carried out in Saudi Arabia had been coordinated from Iranian territory. It promptly broke off ongoing diplomatic dialogue with Iran in Geneva that was led by Khalilzad himself and dealt primarily with Afghanistan and Iraq.

"I've been authorized by the president to engage Iranians as I engaged them in Afghanistan directly," Khalilzad told Newsweek. "There will be meetings, and that's also a departure and an adjustment [to US policy]," he added.

The decision to reopen direct talks with Iran, which has not yet reacted to Khalilzad's announcement, provoked a heated intra-administration debate earlier this fall about engaging Iran more deeply, particularly in light of US concerns--and threats--concerning Tehran's nuclear program.

Some hardliners, including neoconservatives associated with the committe on the present danger, have urged the administration to open an interest section in Tehran to gain more direct access to and intelligence about opposition groups. They argue that with sufficient US support, these groups could subvert the regime.

"I think its a good idea to maintain back-channel contacts with adversaries," says Raymond Tanter, a former National Security Council staffer whose Iran policy committe has called for Washington to deploy the Iraq-based Mujahedin-e-Khalq, which is listed as a "terrorist" group by the State Department, against Tehran.

But to a critic of the hardliners, University of Michigan Middle East Historian Juan Cole, the message was clear. "Its a sign of desperation and recognition that [the administration] needs Iranian goodwill to get out of Iraq," he told IPS. "To the extent you can have a soft landing in Iraq, the Iranians have to be involved."

Indeed, Khalilzad depicted the decision as part of a more general strategy, long urged by realists such as Bush Sr.'s National Security Adviser, Brent Scowcroft, and some Democrats, including the Party's ranking foreign policy spokesman, Sen. Joseph Biden, to enlist the cooperation of Baghdad's neighbors in stabilizing Iraq sufficiently to permit a substantial drawdown of US troops.

That goal has become far more urgent in the past months as public support for the US presence in Iraq has plummeted, as has confidence in Bush's performance there and in the general "war on terror."

As Bush's poll numbers have dropped to levels not seen since the Richard Nixon administration in the early 1970s, Democrats have become more aggressive in urging a major policy shift toward realism, while Republicans have grown restive.

The White House was badly shaken earlier this month when a majority of Senate Republicans voted with Democrats to require the administration to submit regular reports on prospects for withdrawing substantial numbers of troops in 2006 and progress in training Iraqi troops to take their place.

According to a number of published reports, the Pentagon has prepared plans to begin withdrawing large numbers of the nearly 160,000 US troops currently deployed in Iraq to about 140,000 soon after next month's elections, to about 115,000 by next July, and around 100,000 or less by next November's mid-term congressional elections.

But those hopes are based not only on the military's ability to train and equip tens of thousands of members of Iraq's armed forces and police, but also on a political strategy to both reduce the strength and virulence of the largely Sunni Insurgency. At the same time, it is key to ensure that Shi'ite groups, especially the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), that are most closely tied to Tehran, are prepared to go along with any measures that may be needed to pacify the Sunnis.

It is in this light that the intensified diplomacy within the region of the past several weeks should be seen--particularly last week's Arab League meeting in Cairo where both Sunni and Shi'ite Iraqi Parties, as well as the predominantly Sunni Arab governments that make up the League, joined together to call for reconciliation and a withdrawal of non-arab troops.

The fact Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who has long been close to Iran, flew immediately to Tehran after the meeting did not go unnoticed. Nor was it missed here that, two weeks after Secretary of State Rice publicly raised the possibility of direct talks with Iran, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, a longtime friend of Khalilzad who had fallen out of favor in Washington 18 months ago amid charges that he was working with Iranian Intelligence, held high-level talks in Tehran just before arriving here in early November for the first time in two years.

While Chalabi was received rapturously by neoconservatives at the American Enterprise Institute, who did so much to champion his efforts to bring US troops to Iraq, it now appears that his official reception here by senior administration officials, including Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, and Vice President Dick Cheney, was linked to his perceived usefulness in extricating those troops from a political quagmire--and, more specifically, gaining Tehran's cooperation in doing so. "Perhaps that's why he was given such a good reception," noted Cole.

Washington's growing reliance on and support for regional diplomacy marks a serious setback to neoconservatives who, long before the Iraq war, had championed the Unilateral Imposition of a Pax Americana in the Middle East that would put an end to what in their view constituted the chief threats to Israel's security--arab nationalism and Iranian theocracy.

Now, two and a half years after Invading Iraq to put that peace into place, the administration finds itself seeking the support of both forces, just as the realists had warned.


Arabs Should Not Exclude Islamist Parties

Web posted at: 11/29/2005
Source: Reuters.

Dubai--The United States should not back "sham" reforms in the arab world which continue to Isolate powerful Islamist opposition, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said yesterday.

"It would be a mistake to exclude Islamist parties on the assumption they are Inherently undemocratic or prone to violence," she said in a statement released shortly before her appearance at a conference in the United Arab Emirates.

"The best way to marginalise violent extremists is to make room for as broad a range of non-violent perspectives as possible."

Her comments appeared to be directed at arab countries including Egypt, where the banned Muslim Brotherhood has made stunning gains by winning 76 seats in an ongoing
parliamentary elections.

The Bush administration has made little comment on violence that marred the polling. police have arrested nearly 200 Muslim Brotherhood activists in a crackdown on the group.

Washington backs Egypt's refusal to license the Brotherhood--a vocal critic of US policy in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--over its religious platform. Albright, who played a key role in Arab-Israeli diplomacy in the 1990s, attacked a recent constitutional reform which allowed for Egypt's first ever multi-party presidential elections.

"The system he (President Hosni Mubarak) is recommending would make it impossible for truly independent parties to participate. Sham democracy should be exposed for what it truly is," Albright said.

Mubarak, whose ruling National Democratic Party has the majority in parliament, has been in power for over two decades.

The constitutional amendment approved by referendum in May set tough conditions for rival presidential candidates. Under the old system, parliament chose Mubarak as sole candidate and Egyptians then voted for or against in a referendum.
Deep Within

Deep within myself,
I am a mirror of all that has been,
and all that will be...

Deep within my heart,
I am a traveler through time and space,
a vessel of harvested wisdom...

Deep within my spirit,
I am a fusion of innumerable lifetimes,
a soul plump with guidance refined, and truth born out....

Deep within my being,
I am a contraction of all I have gleaned,
ever hopeful of another chance for expansion...

Deep within my essence,
I am one with the source of all,
that naught can dismiss...

Deep within my soul,
I am proof that all these truths will endure,
time without end...
(unknown author)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Lessons From The Three Wise Men

by-Jacob Bender
Released: December 20 2003
Muslim Association of Hawaii

I write not as a scholar, but as a humble student of three great traditions that spring from our common father Abraham (PBUH), and of the bonds that tie Jew to Christian, Christian to Muslim, Muslim to Jew. Yet even though our prayers speak of peace, these are dark and difficult times, and we live in an age when war has replaced dialogue, when terrorism has replaced tolerance, when ignorance has replaced understanding.

my own response to the events of 9/11 was to begin work on a documentary film that I entitled "reason and revelation: averroes, maimonides, aquinas in their time and ours."

who were these three men, averroes the muslim, moses maimonides the jew and thomas aquinas the christian, these three geniuses from a long-age ago, and what if anything, do they have to teach us today? Before we can answer that question, we must first explore, as will my film, the world into which they were born.

In the case of averroes and maimonides, that world was al-andalus, the splendor of spain, the centuries of Islam in Iberia. I believe there are three reasons that learning about al-andalus is critical to the world today:

first, the level of civilization that al-andalus achieved, at a time when the rest of europe was shrouded in the dark ages, the muslim city of cordoba in al-andalus was the most advanced city on the entire european continent. In philosophy, architecture, mathematics, astronomy, medicine, poetry, theology, and, numerous other fields of human endeavor, medieval Islam was the world's most advanced civilization.

second, al-andalus in particular, and Islamic civilization in general, served as both the repository of ancient greek knowledge and science, and the transmission point in its journey to the christian-dominated west.

and third, the culture of al-andalus is now justly celebrated for the extent that religious pluralism and tolerance were hallmarks of this most glorious age, as manifested in Islam's respect for ahl al-kit-ab, "the people of the book."

now let us turn to our three wise men: averroes, moses maimonides, and thomas aquinas:

Abu al-Walid Muhammad Ibn Rushd, known in the west as averroes, was born in cordoba in southern spain in the year 1126 and died in 1198. He is without question the greatest mind produced by Islamic civilization in al-andalus. as a young man, Ibn Rushd already excelled in theology, religious law, astronomy, literature, mathematics, music, zoology, medicine and philosophy.

It is in the field of philosophy, however, that Ibn Rushd left an indelible mark upon the intellectual history of western civilization. In the year 1169, Ibn Rushd was asked by the caliph to undertake new and up-to-date arabic translations and commentaries of the works of aristotle. Ibn Rushd's commentaries on aristotle have had an immense impact upon both christian and Jewish philosophy for hundreds of years.

Rabbi Moses Maimonides was born 12 years after Ibn Rushd. His name in his mother tongue of arabic was Musa Ibn Maymun al-Qurtubi, and he was universally considered the most important Jewish thinker in the last 2,000 years.

please note the similarities between Ibn Rushd and Rabbi Musa: both were born in cordoba in al-andalus, both became "philosopher/theologians" and the foremost interpreters of aristotle within Islam and Judaism, with both attempting to harmonize the truths of reason with the revelations of the Holy Qur'an and the Torah, both became Jurists and authorities in religious law (the sharia in Islam, the halakah in Judaism) that is still central to Muslim and Jewish observance, both lived part of their lives in Fez in Morocco, and both became court physicians to their local rulers, Ibn Rushd to the caliph of cordoba, and Rabbi Musa to the great Salah al-Din in Egypt.

Thomas Aquinas was born near Naples, Italy in the year 1225. He is the most important and influential christian philosopher of the middle ages. His masterpiece, "the summa theologia," is widely considered the most comprehensive exploration of philosophy and theology in the entire history of christianity. and like Ibn Rushd and Rabbi Musa before him, Thomas was primarily concerned with finding a way of incorporating aristotle's rationalism into christian theology.

It is also abundantly clear in his writings how indebted Thomas is to Ibn Rushd and Rabbi Musa, both of whom he quotes on numerous occassions, even the present Pope, John Paul II, has recognized this, when he specifically mentions that one of the influences on Thomas Aquinas, the greatest theologian in catholic history, was "the dialogue that Thomas carried on with the writings of the Arab and Jewish thinkers of his time."

but it is not only the writings of three great thinkers that speak to us today, it is their life stories and their courage in pursuing, in the words of Rabbi Musa, "the truth from whatever source it proceeds."

herein lies part of the contemporary importance of our three wise men, for they dared to advance the notion that wisdom about the universe was not the exclusive property of one tradition, one people, one faith.

In the middle ages, this was a controversial and even heretical idea, for the malevolence of intolerance and fanaticism, all too prevalent even in our own time, was there in the middle ages as well. and so Ibn Rushd was exiled from his beloved al-andalus, and his books were burned by other muslims. and so Rabbi Musa, now celebrated as the greatest Jewish philosopher who ever lived, had his books burnt at the order of other Rabbi's. and so Thomas Aquinas, was denounced by church leaders at the University of Paris for daring to incorporate the writings of a pagan into christianity.

Just as our three wise men were not afraid to challenge prevailing opinion within their own religious community in the middle ages, so today I believe we must also be willing to openly criticize our co-religionists when they engage in extremism and intolerance.

Thus muslim religious leaders around the world condemned the taliban's destruction of the ancient budhist statues in Afghanistan and the 9/11 terror attacks by al-qaeda. Thus many christian ministers in the US denounced the bigoted attacks on Islam by reverands Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham (all friends of the current Bush administration). and many Jews, like myself, have for decades supported the right of the Palestinian people to an independent state and condemned Israel's brutal occupation with its assassinations, house demolitions, closures, and illegal settlement policy.

I believe that some eight hundred years after they lived, Ibn Rushd the Muslim, Rabbi Musa the Jew, and Thomas Aquinas the Christian can still all enter both our hearts and minds if we let them. Their words, and their life stories, can both inform and inspire us about some of the greatest issues confronting us at the beginning of this new century.

The relationship between reason and revelation, the dangers of political extremism, and the courage it often takes to oppose injustice and search for truth. By reading and interpreting their writings we can discover that we, Muslims, Jews and Christians, are all Ibnu Ibrahim, the children of Abraham (PBUH).

We can discover that in the struggle to create a more just and peaceful world, we may perhaps have more in common with those in other traditions who share our values of justice than with the more extreme followers within our own religious families.

Jacob Bender, an American Jew, is a documentary filmmaker in New York.
He can be reached at


Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Rose

some say love, it is a river,
that drowns the tender reed.
some say love, it is a razor,
that leaves your soul to bleed.
some say love, it is a hunger,
an endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
and you its only seed.

It's the heart, afraid of breaking,
that never learns to dance.
It's the dream, afraid of waking,
that never takes a chance.
It's the one who won't be taken,
who cannot seem to give.
and the soul, afraid of dyin',
that never learns to live.

when the night has been too lonely,
and the road has been too long,
and you think that love is only,
for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter,
far beneath the bitter snows,
lies the seed, that with the sun's love,
In the spring becomes the rose.
(by-Bette Midler)

A New Chance

When doubts and fears are growing
It's hard to keep on going
From day to day not knowing
Just what the end will be...

Take each day as you find it
If things go wrong, don't mind it
For each day leaves behind it
A chance to start anew...
(by-Gertrude Ellgas)
Al Qaeda University (AQU) Applications?

From Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' Recent Press Conference:

"the indictment specifically alleges that, as part of the conspiracy Mr. Padilla filled out a terrorist training camp application form in July 2000 in preparation for his violent Jihad training in afghanistan and, shortly thereafter in September 2000, was reported to have arrived in afghanistan by his conspirators."


Wow, very professional! So these guys have application forms now?

The government has reached rock bottom a while back, and have now started to dig even further.

lol, I do admire their tenacity in continually succeeding in setting the lowest standard possible.

What ever happened to the good old days when government's made an effort into making a lie more believable? I miss those days.
Time To Talk: US Engages The Taliban

by-Syed Saleem Shahzad
Nov 22, 2005
Asia Times Online

Karachi--Despite deposing the taliban regime in Afghanistan in quick time at the end of 2001, the United States has not been able to rid the country of the Islamic hardliners, who four years later lead an afghan resistance that shows no signs of abating, let alone buckling.

US efforts to combat the taliban include outright military action (there are 18,000 US troops in the country, in addition to 12,000 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the International Security Assistance Force), and attempts to embrace "good taliban".

And now, most significantly, come efforts to deal directly with the real "problem" taliban leader Mullah Omar, the only person with the ability to influence decisions of import related to the taliban and their future activities in the country.

Reports emerged in the Pakistani media at the weekend that the US had contacted the taliban leadership with the aim of establishing a truce in Afghanistan. In fact the latest peace initiative was started a few months ago when the US realized, finally, that it simply was not making significant progress in stabilizing Afghanistan, despite the relatively successful conclusion of presidential and parliamentary elections.

To date this year, about 90 US troops have been killed in the country, compared with the 186 who have died since the 2001 campaign began. Resistance attacks have become more frequent as well as more sophisticated. The momentum for finding a strategy that will allow for an honorable exit is becoming irresistible.

Enter Mansoor Ijaz, a US citizen of Pakistani origin with close ties to the right wing of the Republican Party. In London, with the help of British authorities, he began the peace process. Mansoor's point man in Pakistan is Khalid Khawaja, a former Pakistan Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) official who was a close friend of Osama bin Laden. Khawaja's associates included Paracha, a former member of the provincial assembly in North West Frontier Province and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Group). His claim to fame is his advocacy for the families of al-Qaeda operators detained by Pakistani authorities.

One of the inducements put on the table for the taliban leadership was their inclusion in the government of President Hamid Karzai, but Mullah Omar rejected this, saying there could not be any form of a deal until all foreign forces were pulled out of Afghanistan. Thus there was no possibility of the taliban laying down their weapons.

"Actually, the media have jeopardized the peace initiative when it is still in its initial stages, though part of the news is correct, that yes, there is a discourse between the taliban and the US, but it is wrong that any US officials met Javed Ibrahim Paracha," Khalid Khawaja told Asia Times Online.

Asia Times Online sources in the afghan resistance across the border from Pakistan confirm that there has been recent contact between Karzai and the taliban leadership. This took place through a go-between. Karzai, according to the contacts, sought support for himself and agreed that any cooperation with the taliban would hinge on one single point-the evacuation of foreign troops.

The contact was confirmed at a time the afghan parliamentary results confirmed that members of the former taliban regime and former mujahideen leaders had won seats in parliament with heavy mandates. The general perception is that these new parlimentarians are split into small political groups, and will therefore not be able to make much of an impression.

However, most of the taliban warlords who won in the elections are still in contact with the taliban leadership, and so are the members of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-i-Islami, whose leadership sits quietly in Peshawar, Pakistan. Veteran warlord Hekmatyar is active in the afghan resistance.

Far from being splintered, these new parlimentarians are believed to be in a decisive position, and they are taking guidance from their taliban or hizb leaders. For instance, once Mullah Omar received Karzai's communication agreeing that the withdrawal of foreign troops was the minimum starting point for any negotiations, Mullah Omar called a Shora (Council) and then sent messages to all former taliban members in parliament to support Karzai.


As the might of the US military descended on Kabul in late 2001, the taliban simply retreated, apart from sporadic opposition. In that sense they were never defeated. It took them some time to regroup, but they have done that.

The reasons are rooted in afghan society. From the very beginning, the taliban movement was inextricably linked to tribal bonds, especially as the taliban brand of Islam dove tails with pakhtoon wali (afghan tribal values). Tribes are the ultimate social order in Afghanistan, and nobody will ever wash that away.

Washington never, really came to grips with this. They undertook decisions based on universal wisdom and common sense to isolate the taliban, but failed to comprehend that this lonely planet called Afghanistan has its own dynamics. As a result, step after step to isolate the taliban simply complicated the situation.

In mid-2003, the US agreed on a "good taliban" policy (see Asia Times Online, US turns to the taliban, Jun 14 ). Negotiations failed immediately as the taliban refused to remove Mullah Omar as their head.

The US invested a lot of time and effort in cultivating groups, some of which cooperated, but invariably they drifted back to the taliban camp. For example, the Jamiat-i-Khudamul Furqan (or Koran) was a breakaway faction carved out in Peshawar by the ISI and US Intelligence. Within a couple of years it secretly joined the taliban again.

Similarly, The Jaishul Muslim was formed by the US in Peshawar to infiltrate the taliban and stage a coup against Mullah Omar. Once they were effectively launched in Afghanistan with money and weapons, a segment of the group promptly pledged allegiance to Mullah Omar and is now fighting alongside the taliban resistance.

Tribal bonds and allegiances run too deep. This is the reality, as obvious as the sand in the broad light of day in the desert. Anything hinting at a taliban demise is a mirage.
The administrations in Washington and Kabul at last appear to have come to terms with this.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Impact of Sanctions-
Genocide Through Economic Warfare

1- For the first time, people round the world could watch on TV a "high tech war" as missiles flew across the night skies, a view of warfare which obscured the horror on the ground, as Ramsey Clark put it.

"Without setting foot on Iraqi soil, or engaging Iraqi troops, US aircraft and missiles systematically destroyed life and life-support systems in Iraq over a period of six weeks. There were two thousand air strikes in the first twenty-four hours. More than 90 per cent of Iraq's electrical capacity was bombed out of service in the first few hours. Within several days, "not an electron was flowing." multimillion-dollar missiles targeted powerplants up to the last days of the war; to leave the country without power as economic sanctions sapped life from the survivors. In less than three weeks the US press reported military calculations that the tonnage of high-explosive bombs already released had exceeded the combined allied air offensive of WWII. By the end of the assault, 110,000 aircraft sorties had dropped 88,500 tons of bombs on Iraq, the equivalent of seven and a half atomic bombs of the size that incinerated Hiroshima."

2- In 1996, CBS News' 60 Minutes broadcast a chilling exchange.

Correpondent Lesley Stahl interviewed Madeleine Albright, then US Ambassador to the United Nations. Albright maintained that the sanctions had proved their worth because Saddam had made more admissions about his weapons programs and because he had recognized the independence of Kuwait (Which he did in 1991, right after the war).

"We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima," said Stahl "and, you know, is the price worth it?"

"I think this is a very hard choice," replied Albright, "but the price-we think the price is worth it."

3- On August 2nd 2000, French Foreign Minister. Hubert Vedrine, called for an end to what he called "cruel, ineffective and dangerous" sanctions against Baghdad:

"They are cruel because they punish exclusively the Iraqi people and the weakest among them. They are ineffective because they do not touch the regime, which is not encouraged to cooperate, and they are dangerous because they accentuate the disintegration of society."

4- Richard Butler, head of UNSCOM (the UN weapons inspection team), speaking on the BBC's world service programme, "talking point" on June 4 2000, he said the following:

"Let's get to the point of substance, and I'll say it now on air. I deeply believe that sanctions as now applied to Iraq and this has been the case for a number of years, have been utterly counter productive to the disarmament process; and I think that the damage to the Iraqi people must stop. Now ironically I also think that they have probably helped keep Saddam Hussein in power. So in that sense...I think that the sanctions issue is something that the United nations must address with utmost urgency."

5- "The embargo by its perverse and uncontrollable effects is destroying the soul of the Iraqi people who desperately see their cultural and moral patrimony being squandered and their social fabric unraveling." (Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, following his visit to Iraq in 1988 as special envoy to his holiness, Pope John Paul II)

6- "Not far from Bethlehem and Nazareth, an entire people is the victim of a constraint which puts it in hazardous conditions of survival. I refer to our brothers and sisters in Iraq, living under a pitiless embargo. In response to the appeals for help which unceasingly come to the holy see, I must call upon the consciences of those who, in Iraq and elsewhere, put political, economic or strategic considerations before the fundamental good of the people, and I ask them to show compassion. The weak and the innocent cannot pay for mistakes for which they are not responsible." (Pope John Paul II address to the Diplomatic Corps, 1998).


7- "War of collective punishment, a war of mass destruction directed at the civilian population of Iraq. The UN, at the insistence of the US, and contrary to international conventions and treaties, has created, in Iraq, a zone of misery and death-with no end in sight... The toll of these sanctions on an entire generation of Iraqi children is incalculable.
What are the implications of Iraqi children growing up traumatised by hunger and disease, if they survive at all?"

"How can the deeds of one leader or even an entire government be used to justify this unprecedented, internationally sanctioned violation of human rights?...The devastating effects continue to harm the environment, agricultural production and health of the Iraqi people significantly." (Catholic worker magazine, January/February 1998)

Definition of Terrorism

1- The League of Nations:
All criminal acts directed against a state and intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or a group of persons or the general public...

2- Code of Federal Regulations (Revised July 2001):
Terrorism includes the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives. (28 CFR section 0.85, on Judicial Administration, describing functions of the FBI within the Department of Justice)...

3- United States Department of Defense:
The calculated use of violence or threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological...


All things have their time,
All things have their answers,
All things have their right to be.
Accepting this reality,
All things come into harmony...
(unknown author)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Stone Walls

Stone walls do not a prison make
nor iron bars a cage;
minds innocent and quiet take
that for an hermitage
If I have freedom in my love,
and in my soul am free.
Angels alone that soar above
enjoy such liberty...
(R. Lovelace)
Interpol, UN To Test Terrorist Attack Readiness

Friday November 25, 2005

Cape Town (Reuters)-Interpol will hold a global simulation under the auspices of the United Nations to test the world's readiness to deal with a natural disaster or terrorist attack, a top official said on friday.

"Basically it's looking at what we think will be a real incident, then having a real time response," Lord John Stevens, head of Interpol's Strategic Advisory Panel, told Reuters.

The 10 member panel of senior figures in international law enforcement is meeting in Cape Town to help chart a global police response to security threats.

Earlier this week, Interpol Secretary-General Ronald Noble said there was a real risk of an international biochemical attack, while security officials remain on high alert for bomb attacks following recent incidents in Britain, Bali and Egypt.

Stevens, a former london police chief, said the panel had unanimously endorsed the proposed exercise, which was likely to happen in new york early next year.

Representatives from police forces and international organizations such as the World Health organization and Civil Aviation Authority would take part.

"This will be the first time...that we will have a world-wide link into a table-top exercise...It will certainly be next year and perhaps even in the first part of next year," stevens said.

All the lessons that had been learned from last years Indian Ocean Tsunami and from the attacks in new york, london and bali would be tested again to enhance the response to future events, he said.
Group Of Utah Religious Leaders Endorse Anti-Torture Bill

November 24th, 2005
Associated Press

Salt Lake City (AP)--A group of Utah religious leaders has endorsed a US Senate-passed measure that would ban US use of torture.

A statement signed by the 41 religious leaders, representing a number of christian denominations, the muslim community and pagan clergy, called on congress and the president to rule out any use of torture of war prisoners.

The statement issued by the 41 Utah religious leaders urged their members to press congressional representatives to pass the 2006 defense appropriations bill containing anti-torture provisions.

It cited a similar declaration by the National Council of Churches.

The US Senate has passed a ban on the torture of suspected terrorists in US custody. The Senate's plan would restrict the techniques used to interrogate foreign terrorism suspects and ban "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of anyone in US custody.

The Bush administration has threatened a veto, saying the measure could tie the government's hands in the fight against terrorism. Vice President Dick Cheney has been lobbying congress to exempt the CIA from any torture ban.

The House has yet to take up the issue.

Utah's faith leaders "are concerned about the way in which americans are conducting themselves in waging the war on terror," said the Rev. Dan Webster, spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese. "They believe they are well within their rights as spokespeople for the moral conscience of the country."
Muslims Want Islamic Free Trade Zone

From Correspondents In Istanbul
25 November 2005
the Herald Sun

The head of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference called Thursday on its members to work for the creation of a Free Trade Zone "in the near future."

"It is imperative for our countries to accelerate the process of economic and trade cooperation inside the OIC, which in turn will act as a ensure that some of our economies are not further marginalised," OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said in Istanbul.

He was speaking at the opening of the 21st Annual Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC).

Ihsanoglu invited those states that had not yet done so to sign and ratify as fast as possible a framework agreement on trade preferences between OIC members so they could "enter discussions" on the creation of a Free Trade Zone "in the near future."

The aim of the agreement, ratified by some 10 members, is a progressive reduction in customs duties in signatory states.

During the opening ceremony Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer lamented the fact that "OIC member states account for 22 per cent of the world's population but only 5 per cent of the world's gross national product and 8 per cent of international trade."

"These figures underline the need of member engage in more intensive cooperation," he said.

"It is clear that we shall succeed in reaching our development aims by means of the Constitution of an Islamic Economic Union," added Shaikh Saleh Bin Abdullah Kamel, President of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry, cited by the Anatolia News Agency.

The system of trade preferences between OIC members, the development of tourism and the intensification of the war on poverty are on the agenda for discussion by 230 representatives from 51 of the OIC's 57 member states.,5478,17359564%5E1702,00.html

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Liquid Drop Of Soul

Just a single drop you see
fallen from the heart of me
but in this liquid drop of soul
are my emotions in a whole...

It falls from truth and verity
It falls from loves own clarity
It falls from hope's sincerity
It falls from souls deep rarity...

It slowly trails across my cheek
control of sorrow I do seek
but fail so perfectly and so well
It's not yet time to sadness quell...

It falls for distance and for time
It falls for one more heartfelt rhyme
It falls for heights I cannot climb
If falls for love of ours sublime...

A drop of life of mine from deep
of heart so full, no more would keep
and so this tear it had to be
shed from deep inside of me...

It falls for stolen months and days
It falls for nights of lonely grays
It falls for pain in many ways
It falls for hope still firm ablaze...

(unknown author)

An Irish Blessing

May there always be work for your hands to do
May your purse always hold a coin or two
May the sun always shine upon your window pane
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain
May the hand of a friend always be near to you, and
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you...
Report Drops Fallujah Bombshell

by-Peter Popham and Anne Penketh
the New Zealand Herald

Rome: the controversy over the American use of White Phosphorus as a Weapon of War in Fallujah deepened yesterday when it was revealed that a US Intelligence Assesment had characterised WP as a "Chemical Weapon."

The Italian Journalist who sparked the controversy, Sigfrido Ranucci, told a press conference in Rome that while a colleague was browsing American Defence Department Websites he had stumbled on a Declassified Intelligence Report from the First Gulf War.

The file was headed "Possible use of Phosphorous Chemical Weapons by Iraq in Kurdish areas along the Iraq-Turkish-Iranian borders."

The report was made in late February 1991 during the Iraqi crackdown on the Kurdish uprising that followed the coaltion victory against Iraq.

"Iraqi forces loyal to President Saddam may have possibly used White Phosphorous (WP) Chemical Weapons against Kurdish rebels and the populace in Erbil and Dohuk. The WP Chemical was delivered by artillery rounds and helicopter gunships."

The Intelligence Report added that "reports of possible WP Chemical Weapon attacks spread quickly among the populace in Erbil and Dohuk. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled from these two areas across the border into Turkey."

Ranucci commented that "When Saddam used WP it was a Chemical Weapon but when the Americans use it, its a Conventional Weapon. The Injuries it Inflicts, however, are just as terrible, however you describe it."

In the original RAI documentary, witnesses inside Fallujah during the November 2004 bombardment described the terror and excruciating agony suffered by victims of the shells fired by American Artillery.

Two former US soldiers who fought at Fallujah told how they had been ordered to prepare to use the Weapons.

The film and still photos on the website of the channel that made the film show the strange corpses discovered after the city's destruction.

Many of the skin on the bodies had apparently melted or caramelised so their features were indistinguishable.

Ranucci said he had seen "more than 100" of what he described as "anomalous corpses" in the city.

The US State Department and the Pentagon have shifted their position repeatedly in the aftermath of the films showing. After intially denying that US forces used WP as a Weapon, the Pentagon said WP had been used against Insurgents in Fallujah.

Daryl Kimball, the director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, yesterday called for an Independent Investigation to Scrutinise the US use of WP in Fallujah.

"If it was used as an Incendiary Weapon, clear restrictions apply," he said. "Given that the US and UK went into Iraq on the ground that Saddam Hussein had used Chemical Weapons against his own people, we need to make sure that we are not violating the laws that we have subscribed to."

Yesterday a further wrinkle was added to the row when Adam Mynott, a BBC Correspondent posted to Nassiriya during the Invasion of Iraq in April 2003, told rainews24 that he had seen WP apparently used as a Weapon against Insurgents in that city.

Original Article by the Independent (UK)

The following link is to view the US Intelligence Report Claiming White Phosphorous is a Chemical Weapon:


If you love someone, tell them!
because hearts are often broken,
by words left unspoken...
(unknown author)

the bitterest tears shed over graves,
are for words left unsaid,
and deeds left undone...
(Harriet Beecher Stowe)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

US Indicts 'Dirty Bomb' Suspect
--On Civilian Criminal Charges--

Wednesday November 23, 2005

Washington (AFP)--In an abrupt reversal, US authorities unveiled a Civilian Indictment against American terror suspect Jose Padilla, after holding him for more than three years in military jail as an "enemy combatant."

Padilla was charged with conspiracy to "murder, kidnap and maim" abroad, but not Indicted for plotting to detonate a radioactive dirty bomb on US soil, a claim made by top officials after his arrest in Chicago in May 2002.

Padilla is one of only two US citizens dubbed "enemy combatants"--a designation that voids his constitutional rights--and has been at the centre of a fierce political and legal tussle over the government's treatment of terror suspects.

Padilla had been waiting for the Supreme Court to consider his appeal against detention without trial, seen as a major test of President George W. Bush's claim he has the power to detain terror suspects indefinitely.

Padilla's lawyers Immediately accused the Bush administration of trying to avoid a Supreme Court showdown over how long a US citizen be held in custody without charges.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to say why Padilla had not been charged with the "dirty bomb" plot or with other previousely mentioned allegations of conspiracy to blow up apartment buildings in the United States.

Senior Justice Department officials said on condition of anonymity that Padilla would no longer be "held as an enemy combatant."

The process of transferring Padilla from Military to Civilian custody was already taking place Tuesday officials said.

Newman said Padilla's defense team had contacted him and he was "very happy" and looked forward to being "Vindicated" at trial.

"We would absolutely contest any of the allegations that are contained in this Indictment and we look forward to the trial to demonstrate our clients Innocence," said Newman.

She accused the Bush administration of exploiting Padilla's plight for political gain.

"In three and a half years every single time they needed something newsworthy, whether their ratings were down or whether they needed to speak about terrorism, they have used Mr. Padilla and once again they have used him."

Newman also claimed that a Jury could be prejudiced against him because he had been unable to fight to clear his name on the dirty bomb charges.

But how he graduated from being a member of the latin desciples gang to an alleged operative for the group blamed for the September 11, 2001 attacks has left many experts scratching their heads.

"I could show you 1,000 people like this," a Chicago police gang expert once told the Chicago Tribune. "If you were to show me this record, I would say he's a gangbanger.
These are gangbanging arrests. There's nothing to tell me he's a terrorist."

Iraq's Oil: The Spoils Of War

by-Philip Thornton,
Economics Correspondent
Published: 22 November 2005
the Independent

Iraqi's face the dire prospect of losing up to $200bn of the wealth of their country if an American-Inspired plan to hand over development of its Oil reserves to US and British
Multinationals comes into force next year.

A report produced by American and British Pressure Groups warns Iraq will be caught in an "Old Colonial Trap" if it allows foreign companies to take a share of its vast energy reserves.

The report is certain to reawaken fears that the real purpose of the 2003 War on Iraq was to Ensure its Oil Came Under Western Control.

The Iraqi government has announced plans to seek foreign investment to exploit its Oil reserves after the general election, which will be held next month. Iraq has 115 billion barrels of proved Oil reserves, the third largest in the World.

According to the report, from groups including War On Want and the New Economic Foundation (NEF), the new Iraqi Constitution opened the way for greater foreign investment.

Negotiations with Oil Companies are already under way ahead of next month's election and before legislation is passed, it said.

The groups said they had amassed details of high-level pressure from the US and UK governments on Iraq to look to foreign companies to rebuild its Oil Industry. It said a foreign office code of practice issued in summer last year said at least $ 4 bn would be needed to restore production to the levels before the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

"Given Iraq's needs it is not realistic to cut government spending in other areas and Iraq would need to engage with the International Oil Companies to provide appropriate levels of foreign direct investment to do this," it said.

Yesterday's report said the use of production sharing agreements (PSAs) was proposed by the US State Department before the Invasion and adopted by the Coalition Provisional Authority.

"The current government is fast-tracking the process. It is already negotiating contracts with Oil Companies in parallel with the constitutional process, elections and the passage of a petroleum law," in the report , Crude Designs, said.

Earlier this year a BBC Newsnight report claimed to have uncovered documents showing the Bush administration made plans to secure Iraqi Oil even before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the US.

Based on its analysis of PSAs in seven countries, it said multinationals would seek rates of return on their investment from 42 to 162 per cent, far in excess of typical 12 per cent rates.

Taking an assumption of $40 a barrel, below the current price of almost $60, and a likely contract term of 25 to 40 years, it said that Iraq stood to lose between $74 bn and $194 bn.

Andrew Simms, the NEF's policy director, said: "over the last Century, Britain and the US left a global trail of conflict, social upheaval and environmental damage as they sought to capture and control a disproportionate share of the world's oil reserves. Now it seems they are determined to increase their ecological debts at Iraq's expense. Instead of a new beginning, Iraq is caught in a very old colonial trap."

Louis Richards, chief executive of War On Want, said: "people have increasingly come to realise the Iraq War was about oil, profits and plunder. Despite claims from politicians that this is a conspiracy theory, our report gives detailed evidence to show Iraq's Oil Profits are well within the sights of the Oil Multinationals."

The current Iraqi government has indicated that it wants to triple production from two million barrels a day this year to six million.

The report named several companies, including the Anglo-Dutch Shell Group, as Jockeying for Position before a new government is elected.

In 2003, Walter van der Vijver, then head of exploration and production, said Investors would need "some assurance of future Income and a supportive contractual agreement."

The group said yesterday, "we aspire to establish a long-term presence in Iraq and a long-term relationship with the Iraqi's, including the newly elected government."