It’s not that one has been forced to silence, rather that words have tumbled elsewhere than this blog for a while. Here’s a good excuse to restart this blog – commenting on the imprisonment of Palestinian poet, Ashraf Fayadh, jailed for “apostasy” for eight years and 800 lashes, his beheading sentence commuted by the vicious, tyrannical Saudi oilagarchy, best mates of the US empire and Israel, connivers in the oppression of the region and in particular, occupied Palestinians.
How to Grow a Garden
Mulch the Saudi princes,
jumped up hereditary popinjays
presiding over the ineffable infinite
as if they know it all by divine right
and can take it with them.
May the Saudi princes,
enemies of poets and truth
be deposed and decomposed,
words choking their greedy mouths.
Jinjirrie, March 2014
From Ashraf’s latest poem, written since he was jailed.
“I saw my father for the last time through thick glass,
then he departed, for good.
Because of me, let’s say.
Let us say because he could not bear the thought
I’d die before him.
My father died and left death besieging me
without it frightening me sufficiently.
Why does death scare us to death?
My father departed after a long time
spent on the surface of this planet.
I didn’t say farewell as I should have
nor grieve for him as I should have
and was incapable of tears,
as is my habit, which grows uglier as time passes.
The soldiers besiege me from all fronts
in their uniforms of poor color,
laws and regimes and statutes besiege me.
Sovereignty besieges me;
its highly concentrated instinct
cannot be shaken by living creatures.
My loneliness besieges me,
my loneliness suffocates me,
I am choked by depression, nervousness, and worry,
remorse, that I’m a member of the human race,
For Fayadh from Gaza, Haidar Eid performs “Thirsty for Freedom,” adapted from a poem by the late legendary Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm.
‘There are two ways opposite to each other, one leading to the house of freedom, the other to the house of slavery. Lead the people on the road that goes through courage and harmony; avoid that which leads through strife and ruin.’
Did you cheer when NATO boots smashed into the face of Afghanistan?
those evil Taliban, hate hate hate, such primitives, more sanctions
and the wall came down, Brzezsinski crowed.
Did you party when US bombs destroyed the Koranic library in Baghdad,
because democracy is messy? So Cheney gloated.
Saddam is gone, pushed off the long drop.
Aren’t they better off now? history is a sweet crude encumbrance.
Did you share a joke or two when Gaddafi was clubbed in a culvert,
raped with a knife – all hail NATO, such zealot humanitarians,
AFRICOM, civilised pointy ends over means,
millions of liquidated lives afri-forgotten beyond trothawk triumph at chaos.
Great white saviours! power vacuum cleaners armed with fake incubator Saudi sat pics
sarin barrel WMDs chemical Putin Niger uranium Lockerbie Russian attacks.
Empire gives notice to the latest demon of infinite malevolence, Assad,
usurps the right to protect us all from remembering,
betrays landlocked Kurds again already.
Do you recall Halabja, Amiriyah, Fallujah?
The price, Madeline snarled, was worth it, and who paid?
not nationalist PR agents in their recliner rockers, hunched over lethal keyboards.
Your pillars of wisdom are mirages of multi-imperialism,
Syriabara buttressed by indifference to brown people squatting on our oil,
may they buy our weapons as penance.
Once venerated as obedient dancers, dictatorships topple dramatically when they stand on imperial toes.
Like Alice, the last thing you remember is the cat’s grin above the chess board,
then repeat after me, “I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care” as you disappear.
“Brzezinski: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?
Brzezinski: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic [integrisme], having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?
Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated: Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.
Brzezinski: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.”
Despite Obama’s statement that Gaza borders should be opened for aid and commerce, Israel still refuses to open border crossings for goods other than aid, thus continuing its strangulation and collective punishment of the Gazan people and preventing reconstruction of the devastated strip.
While tens of thousands of Gazans remain homeless, destitute and ill from Israel’s sociopathic aggression, Prince Turki al Faisal writes an article in the Financial Times making it clear in no uncertain terms that the US must stop footsying with the murderous, land-thieving Zionist enterprise or risk its alliance with Saudia. There is no mention of the oil weapon, yet that is the last thing the US needs to be wielded while it is in the throes of recession.
In my decades as a public servant, I have strongly promoted the Arab-Israeli peace process. During recent months, I argued that the peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia could be implemented under an Obama administration if the Israelis and Palestinians both accepted difficult compromises. I told my audiences this was worth the energies of the incoming administration for, as the late Indian diplomat Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru Pandit said: “The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.”
But after Israel launched its bloody attack on Gaza, these pleas for optimism and co-operation now seem a distant memory. In the past weeks, not only have the Israeli Defence Forces murdered more than 1,000 Palestinians, but they have come close to killing the prospect of peace itself. Unless the new US administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the US-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk.
Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, told the UN Security Council that if there was no just settlement, “we will turn our backs on you”. King Abdullah spoke for the entire Arab and Muslim world when he said at the Arab summit in Kuwait that although the Arab peace initiative was on the table, it would not remain there for long. Much of the world shares these sentiments and any Arab government that negotiated with the Israelis today would be rightly condemned by its citizens. Two of the four Arab countries that have formal ties to Israel – Qatar and Mauritania – have suspended all relations and Jordan has recalled its ambassador.
America is not innocent in this calamity. Not only has the Bush administration left a sickening legacy in the region – from the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to the humiliation and torture at Abu Ghraib – but it has also, through an arrogant attitude about the butchery in Gaza, contributed to the slaughter of innocents. If the US wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and keep its strategic alliances intact – especially its “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia – it will have to drastically revise its policies vis a vis Israel and Palestine.
The incoming US administration will be inheriting a “basket full of snakes” in the region, but there are things that can be done to help calm them down. First, President Barack Obama must address the disaster in Gaza and its causes. Inevitably, he will condemn Hamas’s firing of rockets at Israel.
When he does that, he should also condemn Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians and support a UN resolution to that effect; forcefully condemn the Israeli actions that led to this conflict, from settlement building in the West Bank to the blockade of Gaza and the targeted killings and arbitrary arrests of Palestinians; declare America’s intention to work for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, with a security umbrella for countries that sign up and sanctions for those that do not; call for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Shab’ah Farms in Lebanon; encourage Israeli-Syrian negotiations for peace; and support a UN resolution guaranteeing Iraq’s territorial integrity.
Mr Obama should strongly promote the Abdullah peace initiative, which calls on Israel to pursue the course laid out in various international resolutions and laws: to withdraw completely from the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, returning to the lines of June 4 1967; to accept a mutually agreed just solution to the refugee problem according to the General Assembly resolution 194; and to recognise the independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. In return, there would be an end to hostilities between Israel and all the Arab countries, and Israel would get full diplomatic and normal relations.
Last week, President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad of Iran wrote a letter to King Abdullah, explicitly recognising Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Arab and Muslim worlds and calling on him to take a more confrontational role over “this obvious atrocity and killing of your own children” in Gaza. The communiqué is significant because the de facto recognition of the kingdom’s primacy from one of its most ardent foes reveals the extent that the war has united an entire region, both Shia and Sunni. Further, Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s call for Saudi Arabia to lead a jihad against Israel would, if pursued, create unprecedented chaos and bloodshed in the region.
So far, the kingdom has resisted these calls, but every day this restraint becomes more difficult to maintain. When Israel deliberately kills Palestinians, appropriates their lands, destroys their homes, uproots their farms and imposes an inhuman blockade on them; and as the world laments once again the suffering of the Palestinians, people of conscience from every corner of the world are clamouring for action. Eventually, the kingdom will not be able to prevent its citizens from joining the worldwide revolt against Israel. Today, every Saudi is a Gazan, and we remember well the words of our late King Faisal: “I hope you will forgive my outpouring of emotions, but when I think that our Holy Mosque in Jerusalem is being invaded and desecrated, I ask God that if I am unable to undertake Holy Jihad, then I should not live a moment more.”
Let us all pray that Mr Obama possesses the foresight, fairness, and resolve to rein in the murderous Israeli regime and open a new chapter in this most intractable of conflicts.
This brings to mind an ironic mirroring of the neocon mantra “Iraq is the tactical pivot, Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot, Egypt the prize” where Israel becomes the tactical pivot and Palestine the prize.
So the first message in Obama’s call was not to get active Saudi participation in the naval blockade of Gaza but assurances that Riyadh would not try to undermine it by moving cash and material to Palestinian groups in the area. The second message, however, is more important and hard to decipher:
Do those US-Saudi ties mean that Obama will accept Saudi ideas for Israel-Palestinian negotiations, for example, a revival of the 2002 Mecca proposals that the Bush Administration flagrantly rebuffed? Or is Washington expecting the Saudis to follow the lead of a yet-seen approach that will be unveiled in the visit of George Mitchell to the region?
Saudi Arabia yesterday blamed Hamas for Israel’s continuing offensive in the Gaza Strip and urged it to resolve bitter differences with the western-backed Palestinian Authority – even as divisions deepened with a new charge of treachery.
Arab League foreign ministers meeting in emergency session in Cairo warned it was not possible to help until the Islamist movement in control of Gaza returned to national unity talks with its rival Fatah.
Saudi Arabia will continue supporting the Palestinian Authority despite the election of a government led by the Islamic militant group Hamas — because it does not want to punish ordinary Palestinians, the kingdom’s foreign minister said Wednesday.
Turki’s missive recounts the approaches by Ahmadinejad to King Abdul for a unification of Sunni and Shia in combined defence of the Palestinian people may supercede the analysis made by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, general manager of the satellite television station Al-Arabiya, who on January 20 saw Hamas as having been used as a tool by Iran, alienating members of the Arab League –
“Hamas must be aware that they were used by Iran to attack the Arabs in an unprecedented way that surpasses any previous antagonism. Iran has progressed as a result of this, and made advancements on the ground to an extremely dangerous point, which includes the attempt to create chaos in Arab countries opposed to it, and explicitly seeking to destroy Saudi Arabia, and incite the overthrow of the Egyptian regime. Such audacity serves only to unite Arab countries against Hamas. However it is also just and reasonable to say that the door is still open; it is up to the Hamas movement to choose between returning to the Arab family or remaining a weapon in the hands of Iran.
“Hamas is in a good position, and must negotiate with itself with regards to its own relationship with the Arabs, who can only respect Hamas and ensure its political and material rights on Palestinian soil. Generally speaking, we know that Hamas is not a singular organization, despite the similarity of its language and political façade; there is Hamas the hostage to Damascus and Tehran and whose leaders live in hotels, and there is the Gazan Hamas who have paid a high price in order to fulfill the orders of their brothers in Damascus, the results of which were always disastrous. The Gazan Hamas must chose between Tehran or Cairo.”
On the divisions among Arabs, the Middle East Times notes in an editorial that if both the Israelis and Hamas claim that they are victorious, “who are the losers? The Arabs, of course. Why? The Arab world comes out of this war far more divided than it has been in decades. Egypt and Syria, the two powerhouses in the Middle East remain as far apart as they have ever been.” “And one side has been working overtime trying to convince the rest of the Arab world that they should sever ties with the Jewish state (Syria’s view), while Egypt’s approach to the conflict is to keep negotiations with Israel going.
Israel would not open the Gaza crossings without progress toward the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit
As Hamas begins to hand out aid to those whose homes were destroyed or damaged by Israel’s collective punishment. “Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli Defence Ministry official, met Egyptian officials in Cairo on Thursday to discuss ways to stop smuggling through tunnels between Egypt and Gaza”.
The London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported Saturday that Hamas has suggested representatives of the Palestinian Authority be stationed at the Rafah crossing, but that they be residents of Gaza, not the West Bank.
A Hamas delegation comprising representatives from Gaza and Damascus traveled to Cairo is to meet with Egyptian officials on Sunday.
One Hamas official reiterated the group’s demand that Shalit be freed as part of a larger prisoner exchange, and that his release not be tied to the issue of opening Gaza’s border crossings.
Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha told Asharq Al-Awsat that his group wants European Union and Turkish troops to patrol Gaza’s border crossings with Israel.
The discussions in Egypt will focus on a working paper to consolidate the cease-fire with Israel following the three-week offensive.
One official said the talks – slated for Sunday – will also address the fate of Israeli soldier Shalit, captured by militants in a June 2006 cross-border raid.
The Hamas officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.
The six-day-old truce remains fragile. Israel wants a halt to arms smuggling to the militants, while Hamas wants an end to Gaza blockade. Hamas demands the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.
These are quite clever proposals. Hamas is trying to separate the Shalit issue from the question of reopening the crossings, and their proposals for the border are very close to the Mubarak-Sarkozy plan pressed by Cairo soon after the initial Israeli attacks. If Cairo agrees, Egypt has effectively dismissed its earlier hopes of removing Hamas from power, and the diplomatic ball will be in Tel Aviv’s court.
George Mitchell is due in the region next Wednesday – latest news is that
Western, Arab and Israeli diplomats said [George Mitchell] was expected to make stops in Egypt, Israel, the occupied West Bank and Jordan, but they ruled out direct contacts with Hamas who rules the Gaza Strip.
With an illegitimate President Abbas and Fatah, collaborators with the illegal Occupation as his sole base for negotiating settlement, will Mitchell contemplate his past negotiations with the IRA which led to successful resolution in Northern Ireland, smf bite the bullet to deal with the only democratically elected government in Palestine, Hamas, despite their designation, proliferated so successfully after their election by Israel, as a terrorist organisation?
The Mitchell announcement came after eight years during which there has been no American peace envoy, and the substance of the Mitchell’s previous work on Northern Ireland and Israel-Palestine is both attracting attention and igniting a precious, if cautious, spark of hope that progress toward peace might just be possible.
Writing about the ‘Irish Lessons For Peace’ in the International Herald Tribune in May 2007 (together with Richard Haass), Mitchell suggested that “those previously associated with violent groups” should be brought in, preconditions be kept to an “absolute minimum”, parties be allowed to “hold on to their dreams”, and that sanctions be imposed for backsliding on commitments. All sound advice for anyone seeking to overcome the flaws in the current Middle East peace process.
One who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be in danger in a hundred battles.
One who does not know the enemy but knows himself will sometimes win, sometimes lose.
One who does not know the enemy and does not know himself will be in danger in every battle.
Over recent years, there has been considerable confusion in the West about what university qualifications Osama Bin Laden actually possesses. A firm knowledge of his various expertises would seem to be of great import if his adversaries wished to benefit from Sun Tzu’s dictums.
In this interview with Robert Fisk in 1996, he says “I am a construction engineer and agriculturalist.” At that time, indeed he was. The interview does not, however, mention his educational qualifications.
Bin Laden may have studied economics and business administration at the Management and Economics School of King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah. Some reports suggest bin Laden earned a degree in civil engineering in 1979, or a degree in public administration in 1981.
Saudi King Abdullah, whose country is a close US ally, slammed Wednesday the “illegitimate foreign occupation” of Iraq in an opening speech to the annual Arab summit in Riyadh.
“In beloved Iraq, blood is being shed among brothers in the shadow of an illegitimate foreign occupation, and ugly sectarianism threatens civil war,” Abdullah said.
He also said that Arab nations, which are planning to revive a five-year-old Middle East peace plan at the summit, would not allow any foreign force to decide the future of the region.
What will be the reaction of the United States to such impudence? The original neocon plan called for the transformation of the middle east using Saudia as a pivot to democratise the region, with Egypt the eventual prize. Saudia is thus throwing a big spanner in the works by projecting its power and biting the hand that feeds it.
Saudi leaders are keen to promote the beleaguered Sunni cause in Iraq, which is presently endangered by overwhelming Shite power, including within the Shite dominated and United States’ backed puppet Iraqi government. The summit is expected to adopt a resolution calling for more power sharing with the former Sunni elite.
The Iraqi government has immediately dug in its heels, telling the Sauds they
did not need a “diktat” from the Arabs on how to amend its constitution and boost national reconciliation.
The Arab League wants to resume negotiations with Israhell, offering normalisation for acceptance of terms including withdrawal of all land occupied in 1967, the creation of a Palestinian state and return of Palestinian refugees.
Despite mutterings from Israeli officials about the Arab plan being a “starting point”, it is likely that rightwing Israeli zealots who, with the support of Doodoo bush and the Israel first lobby, will insist on retaining lands they have stolen through warfare. Acceptance of the right of return of refugees driven from their land in the Nakba catastrophe in 1948 is seen by the Israeli rightwing, religious nuts and fanatical settler movement as tantamount to destruction of their pariah apartheid state, despite the clear legal basis for such return under international law.
At the summit, Hamas is calling for an end to the western boycott of Palestine and is seeking financial support from the Arab states to the tune of $2.7b.
Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud Al Faisal projected firmness, warning Israel
not to expect any further diplomatic overtures, telling a British newspaper: “What we have the power to do in the Arab world, we think we have done.”
“If Israel refuses [the plan], that means it doesn’t want peace and it places everything back in the hands of fate. They will be putting their future not in the hands of the peacemakers, but in the hands of the lords of war.”
And that, my friends, will suit the Netanyahooites and religious zealots down to the ground, to the detriment of Israel’s future security and prosperity.