Monday, July 30, 2007

Armageddon – Bring It On

by Gordon Prather

Last week the Christians United For Israel organization held its annual show-of-force in our Nation’s Capital and Max Blumenthal recorded for posterity – if, God Willing, there is to be one – this most "politically extreme, outrageous" spectacle.

"Founded by San Antonio-based megachurch pastor John Hagee, CUFI has added the grassroots muscle of the Christian right to the already potent Israel lobby. Hagee and his minions have forged close ties with the Bush White House and members of Congress from Sen. Joseph Lieberman to Sen. John McCain.

"In its call for a unilateral military attack on Iran and the expansion of Israeli territory, CUFI has found unwavering encouragement from traditional pro-Israel groups like AIPAC [America-Israel Public Affairs Committee] and elements of the Israeli government.

"But CUFI has an ulterior agenda: its support for Israel derives from the belief of Hagee and his flock that Jesus will return to Jerusalem after the battle of Armageddon and cleanse the earth of evil. In the end, all the non-believers – Jews, Muslims, Hindus, mainline Christians, etc. – must convert or suffer the torture of eternal damnation."

According to the Jewish Blumenthal, the typical CUFI member apparently believes "God" wants Bush to do what Lieberman and the Likudniks are urging him to do – nuke Tehran – to trigger an all-out nuke war to bring on Armageddon – the final climatic battle, waged here on the planet Earth, between God and Satan.

But the Russians and the Chinese evidently did not consider Bush’s premeditated war of aggression against Iraq to even be necessarily inimical to their national interests, much less a cause to wage all-out war with nukes.

And they were right. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq has done immense damage to America’s image, vis a vis theirs.

Nor does it appear the Russians – and perhaps even the Chinese – consider Bush’s upcoming war of aggression against Iran to be necessarily inimical to their national interests, even if Bush is crazy enough to nuke Tehran.

It seems likely, at present, that the Russians – and perhaps even the Chinese – would not object to Bush doing further incalculable damage to America’s image, to say nothing of America’s ability to influence – diplomatically and militarily – world events, especially in the Western Pacific.

Stranger still, it does not appear that even the Iranians consider Bush’s upcoming war against Iran to be necessarily inimical to their national interests. Even if he uses – or threatens to use – a few nukes.

And no one who knows anything about the effects of nuclear weapons – who has read Herman Kahn’s authoritative treatises On Thermonuclear War – could expect that even an all-out nuke war between Hagee and Russia/China, involving thousands of high-yield nukes, could result in the deaths of even half the world’s almost seven-billion inhabitants.

Of course, the percentage of deaths resulting from Hagee’s War would be higher in the United States than in Russia or China or in the Islamic World, because a higher percentage [75%] of Americans live in urbanized areas, prime H-Bomb targets.

But, what the hell – if you’ll pardon the expression. All the survivors are going to have to convert to Hagee’s "Jesus," anyway, or "suffer the torture of eternal damnation." Better to have died during Armaggedon. Or just before, like Jerry Falwell.

Historian Barbara Tuchman, when asked why she wrote A Distant Mirror, replied she wanted to examine the societal consequences of what the aftermath of an all-out nuke war might be. So she chose the 14th Century in Europe, when The Black Death quickly killed up to two-thirds the population. To her immense surprise, she was unable to detect any evidence of societal consequences.

Of course, we don’t have to worry. The Cheney Cabal, the Likudniks and AIPAC consider CUFI members to be useful idiots, holding naïve and foolish religious beliefs, useful to their program to remake – militarily, if necessary – the Middle East to their liking, politically and economically.

Surely neither President Bush or any of his close associates hold such naïve and foolish religious beliefs. Right?

Well, Michael Gerson – now a Washington Post columnist and until last year chief speech writer for President Bush – wrote a column last week in which he concluded that the mess that the Cheney Cabal has wrought in Iraq would probably be made worse by an outright attack on Iran. So, Gerson proposed, instead, a bank-shot – the "use of force" against Syria "to disrupt the trail of suicide bombers" Gerson claims are "passing through Syria" on their way to "murder" Americans.

But Gary Leupp, a Professor of History at Tufts University and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion, notes that Gerson was rated in 2005 by Time magazine to be one of the top 25 Christian evangelicals in America.

"As a member of the White House Iraq Group, tasked to disseminate frightening disinformation about Iraq preparatory to the attack on Iraq in March 2003, he proposed the "smoking gun turns into a mushroom cloud" metaphor used by Bush, Cheney and Rice in late 2002 to frighten the nation into war.

"Gerson wants to transform the Greater Middle East, that biblical prophecy might be fulfilled and Jesus comes back soon. According to the Book of Revelation, there must be a great war surrounding Israel before that happens, involving kings to the east of the Tigris and Euphrates. That implies war with Persia (Iran). So he wants the U.S. to provoke war with Iran, but if that's not doable just now, he wants an attack on Syria."

Now, Leupp does not charge that the fulfillment-of-biblical-prophecy convictions of speechwriter and propagandist Gerson are held by Bush, himself.

Of course not. The "God" Bush talks to every day – who tells him what to do, who assures him that he is doing the right thing in sending thousands of American servicemen to their deaths in Iraq, in collaterally ending the lives of many, many thousands of Muslims – is not Gerson’s "God." Is not Hagee’s "God."

Of course not.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

According to an Israeli website Iran will buy 250 long-distance Sukhoi fighter-bombers and 20 fuel tankers from Russia

DEBKA reports that Tehran and the Russian Rosoboronexport arms group are about to sign a mammoth arms deal running into tens of billions of dollars for the sale to Tehran of 250 Su-30MKM warplanes and 20 IL-78 MKI fuel tankers. DEBKAfile’s military sources report Iran has stipulated delivery of the first aircraft before the end of 2007.

The transaction, Russia’s largest arms deal in 30 years, will endow Iran with a long-range aerial assault capability. The Sukhoi can sustain a four-and-a-half hour raid at its maximum range of 3,000 km against long-distance, marine and low-lying ground targets across the Persian Gulf and Middle East, including Israel and Lebanon.

The fuel tankers extends the Su-30MKM’s assault sustainability to 10 hours and its range to 8,000 km at altitudes of 11-13 km. The closest comparable plane in the West is the American F-15E fighter bomber. Iran’s acquisition of an exceptionally large fleet of the Russian fighter-bomber will elevate its air force to one of the two largest and most advanced in the region, alongside the Israeli Air Force.

Iranian air crews are already training on the new Sukhoi aircraft, ready to start flying them early next year with only a short delay after delivery. DEBKAfile’s sources report that Moscow is selling Tehran the same Sukhoi model as India received earlier this year. The Iranians leaned hard on New Delhi to let them have the Israeli avionics and electronics the Indian Air Force had installed in the Russian craft. India refused.

Russia began delivering the same craft in June to Malaysia, which also sought Israeli avionics without success. The Su-20MKM has won the nickname of “Islamic Version of Sukhoi.”

Its two-member crew shares the workload. The first pilot flies the aircraft, controls weapons and maneuvers the plane in a dogfight. The co-pilot employs BVR air-to-air and air-to-ground guided weapons in long-range engagements, sweeps the arena for enemy craft or missiles and performs as command-and-control in group missions.

Some of the plane’s systems are products of the French Thales Airborne Systems company. Moscow’s contract with Tehran for the sale of the Su-30MKM must therefore be cleared with Paris.

There is no decision in Jerusalem about asking Paris to withhold its consent to a deal which would substantially upgrade the long-range air assault capabilities of the Islamic Republic whose leaders want to wipe Israel off the map. However, President Nicolas Sarkozy is in mid-momentum of a diplomatic drive in the Arab and Muslim world and unlikely to be receptive to an Israeli approach. The only chance of aborting the Russian sale would be to route the approach through Washington.

(As usual, the problem with DEBKA is whether the info is correct, or whether this is just their way to add to the Neocon pressure on the USA to "act before it is too late". In this case however, the nature of the alledged purchase would make perfect sense. Iran badly needs an almost complete modernization of its air force and a combination of Su-30 and tankers is definitely the best option in existance. The "wipe Israel off the map" part is, of course, utter nonsense. VS)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Iran Firm on Supporting Iraqi Government

TEHRAN, July 25 --President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran’s firm policy regarding Iraq is to support the country’s security, solidarity and its government.
Ahmadinejad made the remark while speaking to reporters at the end of the Cabinet session on Wednesday, ISNA reported.
Commenting on the second round of Iran-US talks on Iraq held in Al-Khadra district west of Baghdad on Tuesday, the president said, “Assisting the people and government of Iraq was the only objective behind Tehran’s talks with the US officials.“
Stressing that the talks had taken place upon the request of Iraqi officials, the president said, “We will do all within our power to help promote Iraq’s security, solidarity and its government.“
Asked if the issue of the abducted Iranian diplomats in Iraq was discussed during Tuesday’s talks, the president said, “I have not seen the report of the talks yet.“
The talks were held by Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi and his US counterpart, Ryan Crocker.
The first round of Iran-US talks on Iraq was held on May 28 in Baghdad at the ambassadorial level with Qomi and Crocker as the main negotiators.
Ahmadinejad also said that all countries have plans for fuel consumption and transportation sector, adding that the adoption of a gasoline rationing system will result in thrift and cost-effectiveness.
Noting that the gasoline rationing system is a national drive and people have acted wisely, Ahmadinejad noted that the government can do great things by saving gasoline.
“We have discussed the issue with lawmakers and reached the conclusion that a total of 700 km of railway can be built within three years by saving gasoline,“ he said.

Misunderstanding Muqtada al-Sadr

by Matt Duss for Foreign Policy in Focus

In a July 11 Wall Street Journal op-ed, writer Kimberly Kagan touted the success of the Iraq surge strategy. Kagan noted, among other supposed triumphs, that the Maliki government had "confronted Muqtada al-Sadr for promoting illegal militia activity, and has apparently prompted this so-called Iraqi nationalist to leave for Iran for the second time since January." While one can perhaps excuse Kagan’s sunny defense of the surge, (the plan was partly devised, after all, by her husband, Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute, a fact which the Wall Street Journal did not reveal to readers) the repeated attempts by conservative defenders of Bush’s Iraq policy to dispute Sadr's nationalist credentials and treat him as an Iranian puppet indicate a real and troubling lack of knowledge of the Iraqi political scene, and of Sadr’s place within it.

It’s almost comical how many times Muqtada, after provoking a reaction from U.S. forces, has gone to into hiding, and been declared irrelevant by wishful thinkers, only to return later, with his organization intact, drawing bigger crowds than before. True to form, less than a week after Kagan's dismissive aside, Muqtada returned to Iraq, (if indeed he had even left) to great acclaim, with his political base, his Mahdi militia, and social services network, more evident than ever.

Sadr and Iraqi Nationalism

Far from being an Iranian instrument, among Iraqi Shi'i leaders, Muqtada al-Sadr is probably the least susceptible to Iranian influence. Journalist Bartle Breese Bull, who has spent several years in Iraq observing the Sadr movement, wrote in the New York Times on June 3 that "The Sadrist movement has always been about Iraq for the Iraqis. They might accept help from Iran--and I saw Iranian supplies in their compounds in Najaf in 2004--but the movement is not for sale. Mr. Sadr gets his strength from the street. And the Arabs of the Iraqi street have no time for Persian bosses."

Sadr has repeatedly stated his opposition to Iranian interference in Iraqi politics, and has consistently advocated Iraqi political unity. He has fashioned a populist-Shi'i political platform that has deep resonance among Iraq’s long-oppressed Shi'i underclass, whose votes helped install a bloc of his loyalists in the Iraqi Parliament, and put control of the Health and Transportation ministries in his hands. There is a strong nativist element in his rhetoric; he has indicated his belief that the religious leadership of Iraq should be in the hands of ethnic Arabs, rather than the ethnic Persians who currently make up much of the higher Shi'i clerical establishment in Najaf.

Muqtada al-Sadr comes from a highly revered line of Iraqi Shi'i clerics. One of Muqtada's great-uncles was among the leaders of the 1920 Iraqi revolt against the British occupation. Muqtada's uncle, Grand Ayatollah Baqr al-Sadr (1935-1980), is widely considered to be the most significant Shi'i scholar of the 20th century. He engaged with and critiqued Communism and Marxism in his early works, becoming the first to elucidate a modern Islamic system of cooperative economics. He later developed a model of clerical activism distinct from the more quietist approach dominant in the Najaf clerical establishment. Along with Ayatollah Baqr al-Hakim, Sadr was one of the founders of the Da'wa Party in the 1960’s, and served as its guiding spiritual leader. After the establishment of Khomeini’s Islamic Republic in neighboring Iran, which was inspired in part by Sadr’s ideas, many Iraqi Shi'is hoped that Sadr would lead a similar revolution in Iraq. Fearing this, Saddam Hussein had Baqr al-Sadr executed in 1980, the first execution of a Grand Ayatollah in modern history.

In the wave of repression that followed Baqr al-Sadr's execution, many Iraqi Shi'is fled Iraq and found refuge in Iran. Among this group was Ayatollah Baqr al-Hakim and his younger brother, Abd al-Aziz. In Iran, with the support and funding of the Iranian government, the Hakims founded SCIRI (the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq). The goal of SCIRI, as its name suggests, was to create a revolution in Iraq and establish an Islamic republic on the model of Iran’s. Around the time of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Abd al-Aziz reentered Iraq as commander of the Badr Brigade, the militia wing of SCIRI, which was armed and trained by the Iranian Republican Guard, and made up mainly of Iraqi defectors from the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. After the murder of Ayatollah Hakim by a truck bomb in Najaf in 2003, Abd al-Aziz took over as leader of SCIRI.

In the wake of the Shi'i uprising after the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein attempted to dilute the influence of the largely Persian Shi’i clerical establishment by supporting the Arab cleric Muhammad Sadeq al-Sadr, Muqtada's father. Sadeq initially followed the plan, taking advantage of government patronage to build a network of loyal activist clerics throughout Iraq’s poor Shi'i communities that distinguished itself from the Shi'i establishment in Najaf. Soon enough, however, Sadeq al-Sadr turned his criticisms on Saddam’s regime, and was assassinated by Saddam’s agents in 1999, along with two of Muqtada’s elder brothers.

The massive demonstrations and riots that broke out in response to Sadr’s murder became known as the 1999 Intifada. After the fall of Saddam in April 2003, Sadrist militias quickly took over the huge Shi'i slum neighborhood in northeast Baghdad neighborhood known as Saddam City, and renamed it Sadr City, in honor of Grand Ayatollah Sadeq al-Sadr.

From nationalist standpoint, the legacy of the two Sadr martyrs has been a powerful rhetorical weapon for Muqtada. Posters and murals featuring the three men, Baqr, Sadeq, and Muqtada, adorn walls and billboards throughout Shi'i neighborhoods, and Muqtada rarely appears in public without a portrait of his father nearby. Their status as Arab martyrs of Saddam’s tyranny provides Muqtada with credibility that many other leaders lack.

The Shiite Split

Though both the Hakim and Sadr families suffered greatly from Ba'athist repression, Muqtada's adherents have relentlessly hammered at the fact that the Sadrs stayed and struggled in Iraq, while the Hakims fled. This gets at another of Muqtada's key rhetorical devices: presenting himself and his family as emblematic of Shi'i oppression under Saddam. Like the poor Shi'is that make up the bulk of his movement, he suffered. Like them, he lost loved ones. Like them, he is now entitled to a share of power in the new Iraq.

That the Sadrists have been able to compete so well against the far better organized and funded SCIRI indicates the effectiveness of this rhetorical framework. That SCIRI was founded in, and continues to be funded by, Iran, certainly makes them vulnerable to Muqtada's charge of being insufficiently Iraqi in their outlook. Recognizing this, last May the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) changed its name to the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council, and indicated that it would now look to Iraq’s Grand Ayatollah Sistani, rather than Iran’s supreme jurist, Ayatollah Khamenei, as its main source of guidance. This move should be seen as an attempt to make up for SIIC’s nationalist deficit vis-a-vis Sadr, and to combat the perception that SIIC is an Iranian instrument by more closely associating themselves with the religious structures and culture of Iraq.

Mistakes of U.S. Policy and Looking Forward

It must be understood that the confrontational stance that the United States continues to take toward Muqtada's movement benefits no one as much as Muqtada himself. His staunch and consistent opposition to the U.S. presence enables him to credibly criticize the failure of the U.S.-backed Iraqi government to deliver services and security, while at the same time, his control of several government ministries provides access to government funds and resources, which can then be distributed as patronage and charity under the banner of his movement.

Given his popular support and nationalist credibility, the cooperation of Muqtada al-Sadr is essential for stability in Iraq. One possible way to bring about Muqtada's cooperation is for the United States to offer him the one thing that he seems to want from us: the U.S. out. Working through Ayatollah Sistani as an intermediary, the U.S. could agree to a phased withdrawal timetable, with each phase being contingent on Muqtada's ability to reign in of violence by his followers, and by his willingness to acknowledge the legitimate authority of the Iraqi government.

While a withdrawal by the U.S. will be cast as a victory by various elements in Iraq, including al-Qaeda, given that the eventual U.S. withdrawal is inevitable, it is imperative to use that withdrawal as an opportunity both to strengthen those figures in Iraqi society, such as Sistani, who can contribute to stability, and to give popular leaders such as Sadr a tangible stake in the survival of the new Iraqi state.

Muqtada al-Sadr and his followers are already deeply embedded in the political structures of the new Iraqi state, regardless of how Muqtada might currently challenge the legitimacy of that state because of its dependence on U.S. support.

It’s long past time that U.S. policymakers recognized this, left aside the questionable advice of "experts" such as Kimberly Kagan, and found some way to work with Sadr, encouraging and enabling him to use his influence to create stability and help strengthen and legitimize Iraq’s vulnerable new political institutions, rather than continuing to condemn and confront him, and thus ensuring chaos.

Matt Duss holds a Masters in Middle East Studies from the University of Washington and is an analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Saker interviews Mizgîn from Kurdistan

Today I am publishing an interview which truly gives me great pleasure: my Q&A email exchange with Mizgîn, a Kurd who has studied in the West and who generally supports the PKK. That is all I can say about her as in fact that is all I know about her. And that is how it should be. On my blog, names do not matter, not even self-evidently nonsensical ones (like, say, "vineyardsaker"). Only ideas are important here, and Mizgîn has a lot of very interesting things to say, things which are almost never heard in the West or, as far as I know, anywhere else in the world. This is, in fact, how I "met" Mizgîn: she posted some rather interesting replies on Scott Horton's blog and I decided to contact her and to request an interview. To say that I was not disappointed would be an understatement: I was delighted.

Mizgîn is the kind of person which I most enjoy listening to: passionate, strongly committed to her values, and willing to take the time to explain them to those who, like myself, know very little about her reality. In a time when Neocon propaganda is maskarading as "objective reporting" it is truly refreshing to hear a voice which concerns itself not with (pseudo-)"objectivity", but with the truth as she sees it.

I would encourage those who are interested in the topic of the Kurdish people to use the comments section to post questions for Mizgîn. You can also email me the questions and I will forward them to her.

Mizgîn preceded her answers with the following disclaimer:

"I have written PKK as "PKK" in the replies, because PKK does not exist as a party anymore. It is an ideological school. Neither is it or PJAK synonymous with KONGRA-GEL. KONGRA-GEL is an organization under the overall umbrella of KCK (Koma Civakên Kurdistan--roughly, Confederation of Kurdistan Societies), under which everything else falls, including HPG, the armed wing which is the successor of PKK's ARGK. If you see statements from the leadership at Qendil, you will see that it's coming from KCK. So the leadership at Qendil is in charge of more than just HPG or PJAK (including its armed wing, the HAK)".


Very little is published in the Western media about the developments in Turkish- controlled Kurdistan. Recently, Dahr Jamal has claimed that since the beginning of the year over 70 Turkish soldiers have been killed there by Kurdish fighters coming from Iraqi Kurdistan and that, in response, the Turks have deployed about 100’000 soldiers right on the border and that they are ready to invade Iraqi Kurdistan. According to him, only Washington’s opposition has prevented this, but the risks of the Turks actually going ahead with this invasion are very real. Is this information correct and what is the current situation in Turkish-controlled and Iraqi-controlled Kurdistan? Do the Kurds fear an invasion and do you think they are ready to deal with one?

Very little about Turkish-occupied Kurdistan is published in the West because the West has to protect the genocidal regime it has supported for decades, and continues to support today.

It’s very easy to find out how many Turkish soldiers have been killed. HPG publishes a monthly body count on its website. They have just published year-to-date totals and are showing 446 enemy forces killed, with a yearly total of 96 HPG martyrs.

How does Dahr Jamail know if the guerrillas are conducting operations from Iraqi Kurdistan? Has Dahr Jamail, or anyone else, taken out a map to actually look at the region to get an idea of what it takes to walk from Iraqi Kurdistan, specifically Qendil, to the places where clashes with the Turkish army have taken place? Bear in mind the topography of the region; mountain peaks reach approximately 12,000 feet (3700 m). Bear in mind the nature of guerrilla warfare; guerrillas move on their feet. Not in trucks, not in helicopters, not in armored personnel carriers, but they move on their feet. So it will take two to three weeks to walk from Qendil to, say, Dersim (Tunceli) province, Çewlik (Bingöl) province, Erzirom (Erzurum), Mûş (Muş), or Gümüşhane.

On top of the two to three week walk, they have to stop at times, make camp, do reconnaissance and other patrols, and set up posts and machine gun defenses. By the very nature of guerrilla warfare, HPG’s guerrillas are constantly on the move within Turkey itself, because it’s not effective to spend the time walking to one operation in, say Dersim, and then walk back to Qendil. Such a thing would be sheer stupidity and, apparently, it’s the kind of thing that Western media regularly expects us to believe. The majority of the guerrillas are not at Qendil and have not been for some time. Even the Turkish regime is aware of this fact, as indicated by Erdoğan’s statement in mid-June:

”Has the struggle against 5,000 terrorists inside Turkey come to a close, so that we can now start dealing with the 500 in northern Iraq?”

If the Turkish regime decides to invade Iraqi Kurdistan, it will be for some other reason and not because of “PKK.” They may decide to do it to gain control over the oil at Mûsil and Kerkuk, or to secure their many business interests, or for both reasons. In the last 80 years, Turkey has engaged in a continuing genocide against the Kurdish people because the ideological foundations of the regime is based on denial of the existence of the Kurdish people, so there is also the problem that Kurds in South Kurdistan and in the Baghdad government are not holding true to Turkey’s idea of Kurds as “Mountain Turks,” as savages who are inherently incapable of the slightest degree of sophistication or ability, particularly as regards politics. As a result, it’s also possible that Turkey invades for the purpose of saving its own ideological roots which are the very foundations of the current regime.

Has Washington’s opposition prevented a Turkish invasion to this point? Well, that’s a very simplistic view. First of all, every act of aggression carried out by the Turkish regime has had the approval of Washington, as well as the rest of the international community.

At the end of April 2006, just after the Turkish regime murdered a number of Kurds, including children, in the wake of the series of protests throughout Turkish-occupied Kurdistan known as the Amed Serhildan (uprising), Condoleezza Rice made a visit to Ankara. This was at the time that the Turkish army began massing hundreds of thousands of its troops in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan and began shelling Iraqi Kurdistan. Her presence in Ankara while there were ongoing TSK operations is proof that the US encourages Turkey in its aggression against the Kurdish people.

By the way, notice the timeframe of the massive deployment. It wasn’t just recently that “100,000”—or whatever number the current propaganda quotes—Turkish troops deployed. They have been there since April of last year. This is similar to the Western media’s other propaganda which said that “PKK” had suddenly called a ceasefire in mid-June, when the fact is that “PKK’s” ceasefire went into effect on 1 October 2006. The American media warmongers were all over that. Plus there was some garbage that DebkaFILE picked up from its Kemalist friends at Cihan News Agency, stating that there had been a massive invasion of South Kurdistan.

On the other hand, no one, absolutely no one, in the Western media wrote so much as a syllable about Iran shipping weapons to Syria with the help of Turkey—and it was HPG that derailed the train. Yaşar Büyükanıt, the chief of the Turkish general staff, permitted this information to penetrate Turkish media for a brief period before it was finally censored.

Now another Kurdish blogger has speculated that the Turkish military is cooperating with Washington, acting as Washington’s tool to threaten all of Iraq, including South Kurdistan, over rapacious oil laws that would permit an equitable distribution of oil revenue among Iraq’s ethnicities after Western Big Oil takes its 75% cut of the profits.

So, is Washington the only thing preventing an invasion of South Kurdistan? Insofar as Washington, itself, is the lapdog of Big Oil, yes. Is it coincidence that the Turkish regime begins a new round of shelling of South Kurdistan as Iraqis—across the board—dig in their heels in opposition to the oil laws? I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

When I was in South Kurdistan two years ago, friends told me then that if Turkey invaded, everyone in South Kurdistan would take up arms against the invaders. Since then, the situation has evolved to the point where Kurds under Turkish-occupation would also rise up against an invasion of Southern Kurds, and a Kurdish DTP politician, Hilmi Aydoğdu, recently got himself in trouble with the regime for speaking this fact of life:

”The two sides in this war would be Turkey and the Kurds in Iraq. There are some 20 million Kurds in Turkey, and the 20 million Kurds would regard such a war as an attack against them,” newspapers quoted Aydogdu as saying.

“Any attack on Kirkuk would be considered an attack on Diyarbakir.”

Everyone knows this--everyone. And when it is spoken out loud in public, the one who says it goes to prison. But prison does not negate truth. If anyone wants to engage in guerrilla warfare with 20 million Kurdish guerrillas in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan and 5 million Kurdish guerrillas in South Kurdistan, then let’s get on with it.

Are Kurds afraid of an invasion? No. This would not be the first Turkish invasion anyway. The Turkish regime has invaded several times in the recent past, even during the so-called “safe haven” in which the British and Americans permitted Turkey to bomb Kurdish civilians in the South—the very people the UK and US claimed to be “protecting.” What did Turkey get from these invasions? “PKK” is still there. “PKK” is still fighting. Southern Kurds, ordinary people, are willing to fight the invader, too. Kurdistan will become Turkey’s graveyard once again.

A basic background question: What are the differences between the KDP and PUK and what is their relationship to the PKK? Is this just a conflict between Barzani and Talabani or are there deeper, ideological, political differences between these to parties? Whom, if any, did Ocalan support

The KDP is more conservative, more tribal or “feudal.” The PUK is more progressive and oligarchic. The PUK was created from the KDP when there was a split among them back in the 1960s. The PUK was the first Kurdish group to side with Saddam against another Kurdish group, the KDP. They have been at each others’ throats since then and they would still be if not for the fact that the heat is on and they are going to have to make South Kurdistan work.

The “PKK” and Öcalan have supported neither of these parties against the other, except during one, specific event. In 1997, the KDP brought in Saddam Hussein’s army to help them recapture Hewlêr (Irbil) and the surrounding area, which had been under PUK control. The PKK went in to set up defensive positions in the Soran areas (PUK heartland) to help contain the KDP. The KDP had also captured Hero Talabanî, the wife of Iraq’s current president, Celal. They were using her in anti-PUK propaganda which showed Celal as the “honorless fleeing husband.” Celal Talabanî had, in fact, fled to Iran, leaving his wife behind. Ocalan called for her release and threatened to become actively involved in the fighting if KDP did not comply.

That was the only time that “PKK” sided with either group.

”PKK” has had its focus elsewhere, mainly in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan and now there is a sister organization under the KCK which focuses on Iranian-occupied Kurdistan, both politically and militarily. “PKK” has always had guerrilla members from all parts of Kurdistan, as well as Europeans and guerrillas from other parts of the world. It is the same today. “PKK” is always open to anyone who wishes to fight with them, both politically and militarily, for the cause of freedom.

As for ideological differences, both KDP and PUK are far more conservative than “PKK.” PKK’s outlook is socialist/green and it is far more progressive than either KDP or PUK. A core value of “PKK” is gender equality which can easily be seen by the women’s guerrilla army, YJA-STAR, and the training they give other women’s rights activists in the Kurdistan region.

The general goals of the “PKK” are outlined pretty well in their Declaration for the Democratic Resolution of the Kurdish Question, which was propsed to the Turkish regime in August of last year.

From the outside, the capture of Ocalan by the Turkish MIT seemed to have crippled the PKK. First, where can one get somebody get good information about the details of his capture? Second, what has the effect of his capture been on the PKK? Is he still considered the PKK’s leader and, if not, who has replaced him and how did that succession happen? Does the PKK consider Ocalan’s call for a truce genuine, or has it been coerced out of him or outright faked?

Turkish MIT did not capture Öcalan. Öcalan was the first victim of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program and after his capture was arranged by the US—some say with the help of MOSSAD—he was handed over to Turkish MIT. In fact, the MIT undersecretary who was involved with the CIA in the capture is now a “consultant” for a Turkish mercenary company, Black Hawk Security, Inc. This company is based in Maryland, has a training facility in Silopî (at the Habur border crossing), and they are now serving as mercenaries in Iraq, including Kerkuk.

Ocalan wanted to change many policies when he arrived in Europe after being forced out of Syria and he, as well as the Kurdish people, hoped that his arrival in Europe would be the first step in a peaceful solution of the Kurdish situation. Both the US and Turkey applied pressure on the governments of Europe to prevent Öcalan from staying in Europe and to prevent a wider international discussion of the gross human rights abuses and atrocities that Turkey, with full American backing, had inflicted on the Kurdish people since the US-backed coup of September 12.

As an aside to this, the fact that US special operations types trained Turkish special teams is widely known and has been documented by Desmond Fernandes, Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Serdar Çelik, and Kendal Nezan, among others. Late last year, Desmond Fernandes published the results of his most recent research into US-backing of Turkey in the so-called “War on Terror.”

It was a shock to see Europe behave with such arrogance and ignorance when Öcalan arrived in Europe. The policy changes that Öcalan wished to implement were stalled as the political side of the Kurdish freedom movement fought for Öcalan to be taken seriously by European governments. Some policy changes did go into effect, such as Öcalan’s call for a unilateral ceasefire in 1998. Since this ceasefire was proclaimed in when Öcalan was free in Italy, then why wouldn’t “PKK” take it seriously? Or how does that prove that “PKK” was crippled? I mean, if “PKK” is crippled, why are there some hundred thousand Turkish soldiers deployed against “PKK” at this very moment?

While Öcalan fought to bring the Kurdish case to the attention of Europe, it was in the interest of the Kurdish people to uphold and support the ceasefire, so this is not coercion nor is it fake. The same goes for the current ceasefire.

It should be pointed out that those of the time who were calling for retaliation were the very same people who had ignored Öcalan when he came to Europe to solve the Kurdish situation by peaceful, political means. These people did not have Kurdish interests at heart but rather acted as agent provocateurs for the American and Turkish regimes. These were the political Left of Europe, the same ones who stand behind the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel. These agents, the non-Kurdish leftist grassroots apparat in Europe and North America, cut all ties with the Kurdish freedom movement as soon as they saw there was no retaliation forthcoming, calling “PKK” ”defeatist” and “Kemalist,” and accused the Kurdish freedom movement of having “betrayed” the cause of the “proletariat” for not fighting for their “socialist revolutionary war.”

Kurdish hope in Europe as a bastion of democracy and justice was destroyed with the international conspiracy against Öcalan and the Kurdish cause, and the response to the capture was intense, furious, and personal. Greek embassies were targeted because they were initially seen to blame. Many set fire to themselves in protest. Israeli embassy personnel in Berlin murdered four young Kurds protesting Israel’s hand in the capture.

Öcalan is still considered the leader of the “PKK,” but there is also an executive council of the KCK which also makes decisions for the movement. One has to consider the love that the Kurdish people have for Öcalan and the politicization of the people that has come about as a direct result of the “PKK.” Whatever minor concessions the Ankara regime has granted came about only as a result of the blood of “PKK’s” martyrs. The “PKK’s” political wing has enlightened the Kurdish people under Turkish occupation and this enlightenment can be seen today throughout the region, in the efforts of the DTP in overcoming obstacles to the political process in Turkey, or in organizations such as the Peace Mothers. In this respect, the Kurds under Turkish occupation are much better off than Kurds in South Kurdistan, because they are much more politically aware and act on their awareness. As an example of that, all one has to do is follow the activity of the DTP mayors. This is the result of the blood of “PKK” martyrs.

It has been reported in the Western media that the “Kurdish Peshmerga” had offered the Iraqi government to eliminate the Sunni militia in Baghdad (according to some reports they wanted to do this with the support of Shia militias) but that that offer was rejected. Is this information correct? More generally, would it be correct to say that the Kurds are closer to the Shias than the Sunnis because the Shias are less set on opposing an largely autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan and because the Sunni militias have a lot of former Baathists in them?

KDP has been closer to the Sunnis historically, and PUK has been closer to the Shi’a. Only the Western media and its consumers would be stupid enough to circulate rumors—no doubt started in Arab media—that Kurdish pêşmerge would “offer” to eliminate Sunni militias in Baghdad. If anyone would have wanted someone else to eliminate Sunni militias, it would have been the US, and they would have had to make the “offer” to Kurds because it’s obvious that the US can’t do anything about any militia in all of Iraq.

If anyone at all can hold Iraq together, it’s Kurds because they have tried to work with both Sunni and Shi’a, even though 98% of the Kurdish people in South Kurdistan don’t want to be part of Iraq at all. Of course, democracy requires a complete disregard of the wishes of the demos.

According to definition of the word “pêşmerge,” and according to popular view, pêşmerge are not aggressors. The word “pêşmerge” is the name of a defending warrior, someone who stands before death. If you’re an aggressor, you don’t stand before death, you are death. Those who stand against you, to defend themselves, are pêşmerge, or those who stand before death.

Those Kurds who make up the majority of the Iraqi army are no longer pêşmerge because their loyalty is to Iraq, not Kurdistan, and they’re no longer serving in a Kurdish army.

Additionally, Kurds are not interested in invading anyone else. There are enough problems to deal with inside Kurdistan itself without having to look for more problems in someone else’s house.

What do you make of Ahmed Chalabi? It is often written that he began his career as a Kurdish politician but that he also has close ties to Shia factions. Where are his loyalties? Does he matter in the Kurdish political life? There also is the persistent rumor that Chalabi was an Iranian agent who acted as an “agent provocateur” for Tehran who wanted the USA to get rid of Saddam Hussein and bogged down in Iraq. According to this thesis, the Iranian actually used the clueless US Neocons to get them to push the USA into a war which would serve Tehran’s interests? Does this thesis make sense to you? What is written about all this in the Kurdish media?

How can Ahmed Chalabi get his start as a Kurdish politician when he’s not a Kurd? I don’t know of anyone who likes Ahmed Chalabi, and the KDP never liked him. He might have had closer ties to the PUK, but I’m not certain about that because I never see anything about Chalabi in Kurdish media. So he’s meaningless as far as Kurdish political life goes.

As far as the clueless neocons getting conned by Chalabi, in my opinion it was a mutual con. Michael Ledeen is one of the neocons who’s well-known for his close associations with Iranians and their con men. Maybe somebody should ask Ledeen about Chalabi.

General Joseph Ralston, former Vice Chairman of the JCS, has been appointed by Bush as the US “special envoy” to “coordinate” the PKK for Turkey. What does this appointment mean? What is the current US policy towards Kurds and what are their objectives for Turkish-controlled and Iraqi Kurdistan? What will Ralston true role be?

The appointment of Joseph Ralston as the “special envoy” to”coordinate” the PKK for Turkey means that the US and Turkey intend to continue the genocide that they’ve inflicted for decades on the Kurdish people under Turkish occupation.

Joseph Ralston is not merely the former NATO commander and vice-chairman of the US JCS, he’s also a member of the board of directors for Lockheed Martin. He’s also a vice-chairman of William Cohen’s The Cohen Group, which is a lobby firm among whose clients is Lockheed Martin. In the months before he was appointed, he was listed with the US Senate as a lobbyist for The Cohen Group for the purpose of exporting tactical fighter aircraft. That listing fell under the Lobby Disclosure Act and two of the required documents have been posted online. Within two months of his appointment, he managed to swing $13 billion worth of tactical fighter exports to Turkey as a result of his ”coordination of the PKK.” The aircraft involved in the deal were F-16s and the new F-35.

He is also a member of the advisory board of the American Turkish Council. Lockheed Martin is also a Golden Horn member of the ATC, something which costs $11,000 per year—chump change for Lockheed Martin.

Out of sheer frustration with getting this conflict of interest presented in the American media, I wrote something on it last October and published on KurdishInfo, with a follow-up on the F-35 deal. Slowly, a friend and I got a few independent journalists interested, including Kevin McKiernan, Chris Deliso, and Ken Silverstein. Luke Ryland, a blogger who has one a lot of research on the Sibel Edmonds case, picked up the Ralston conflict of interest, and from there, Sibel herself picked up the information and added it to hers.

The appointment of Ralston is highly cynical and only serves the interests of the American corporatocracy. Ralston, along with Yaşar Büyükanıt, rejected the PKK ceasefire out of hand and further rejected any political settlement on the IRA model, while the international community obeys its American masters, as with everything. These people do not want peace; they want to continue the genocide. That’s the American policy toward Kurds and its objectives for Turkish-occupied Kurdistan and South Kurdistan—Genocide. Kurds are a very inconvenient problem when they exist in a region rich in energy resources.

What is the situation of the Kurds in Iranian Kurdistan and what is the connection of the PDKI and the PJAK to the KDP, UDP, PKK? What has been the role of Iran in regards to the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq and what are, in your opinion, Iran’s objectives concerning the Kurds and their future?

The situation of Kurds in Iranian-occupied Kurdistan does not differ very much from the situation in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. Kurds there are also repressed by a genocidal regime that denies Kurds as Kurds, prohibits Kurdish language and other forms of cultural expression, imprisons, tortures, and executes those Kurds who are politically active or Kurdish journalists who don’t reproduce the mullahs’ propaganda in their writing, and economically strangles the people to death. If it were not for the limited liberation in South Kurdistan, Kurds in the East would be much worse off than they are right now.

Iran shares Turkey’s goal of genocide of the Kurdish people.

PDKI has no relationship with PJAK and as far as I know, it’s not even located in Iranian-occupied Kurdistan. I have no idea what its relationship with KDP or PUK is.

PJAK is part of “PKK” and gets all its support from “PKK.” Cemil Bayık said as much last November.

In the last few years there has been some cooperation between “PKK” and KDP. At least, there have been no hostilities such as there were in the 1990s, when the KDP fought alongside the Ankara regime against the Kurds of the “PKK.”

There was an item in Turkey’s Akşam, in which the Turkish general staff claims that their intelligence says that some 1,000 guerrillas will join KDP’s special forces and be deployed along the border with Turkish- occupied Kurdistan. We’ll have to see how true that turns out to be, but KDP’s special forces were founded by a former “PKK” guerrilla and such a turn of events would be the Ankara regime’s worst nightmare come true.

The relationship with the PUK may be a bit more stand-offish, especially since Qubad Talabanî, Celal Talabanî’s son and PUK’s representative in Washington, was recently involved in a scandal at the Hudson Institute, with the Americans and a representative of the Turkish general staff. Among other things, they discussed assassinations of Kemalist members of the judiciary, suicide bombing of shopping areas, and the capture of PKK’s” leadership at Qendil, sort of a sequel to Öcalan’s extraordinary rendition.

This was a huge scandal in the Turkish press, and the Islamist Zaman carried two articles in English, ”Terrifying scenarios discussed at US think tank,” and ”More details revealed on scandalous meeting. Given that we know the Turkish regime, with US support, regularly engages in black operations against the Kurdish people and in Western Turkey in order for the Turkish military to keep a death grip on the reins of power. The scenarios discussed at the Hudson Institute are very similar to recent events or are very similar to incidents in the past. Since everyone knows that these things are possible, and that the Deep State carries out such operations, no one was laughing about this scandal.

Of course, Qubad Talabanî’s presence at such a planning session is absolutely unacceptable from any honorable Kurdish perspective.

But you read about all of this in the US media, right?

For many years it has been reported that Israelis have been involved in the Kurdish issue and that they have been covertly arming and training the various Kurdish militias. At the same time, the Israelis are also allied with Ankara. What is the current Israeli policy towards Kurds in Turkey and Iraq and what are their objectives in these areas?

Why is it that no one bitched about the Israeli presence in South Kurdistan during Mala Mustafa Barzanî’s time? Yes, there’s a long history between the Barzanîs and Israel, and apparently there were some Israeli contractors, former military types, training pêşmerge in counter-terrorism tactics a few years ago. As for the details of the current relationship, I don’t know.

Yes, Israel is an ally of Ankara, just as the US is, and for that reason, the only policy that Israel could have toward Kurds under Turkish occupation is the same as the US and Turkey—Genocide. I have never come across any stated Israeli policy toward the Kurdish people under Turkish occupation, although Israel’s cheerleaders in the US appear to have sudden bleeding hearts for Southern Kurds, Kurds in Iranian-occupied Kurdistan and Kurds in Syrian-occupied Kurdistan.

Now isn’t that a curiosity in itself? The enemies of Israel are guilty, according to Israeli cheerleaders, of severe repressions of Kurds but there is a total lack of concern for Kurds suffering the severe repression at the hands of Israel’s good ally, Turkey. What does that tell you? Sure the Israelis engage in tit-for-tat when it suits them, like suggesting that they sit down and talk to Öcalan since Turkey invited the HAMAS leader to Ankara. But they don’t mean it and, as far as I can tell, Israel has no interest in justice for the Kurdish people. They ignore Turkey’s atrocities and they’ve ignored Syrian, Iranian, and Iraqi atrocities until they think they can use it for their own cause.

But then, like the US, Israel doesn’t recognize the Armenian Genocide either.


On the Kurdish side, the Kurds are the only nation that does not want to annihilate the Jewish people or Israel, and this is consistent across the political spectrum. Kurds don’t support the annihilation of the Arab or Turkish people,for that matter. And Israel knows this, which makes its position that much more hypocritical. On the other hand, the vast majority of the Turkish people hate Israel and Jews, and subscribe to every anti-Jewish conspiracy theory that comes along. When I was in Turkey two years ago, what was the bestseller? Mein Kampf. It was everywhere, from the shiny, new modern grocery store in Amed (Diyarbakır)--which was built to serve the local military families—and in upscale bookshops near the Sultanahmet in Istanbul.

What should Israel do, in contrast? Here are the Kurds, a nation trying to rise from the ashes of brutal repression, a nation willing to see others as their equal and never act as an aggressor toward its neighbors. What should be the Israeli policy toward such a people?

According to Wikipedia, various religions are present among the Kurdish people. While most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, others are Shia, Christian and even Yazdani. What role, if any, does religion play in the Kurdish political processes?

Except for the Kurdistan Islamic Union in South Kurdistan, there is no religion in the Kurdish political process. Kurds are overwhelmingly secular.

Insurgencies and political parties need money and support. How do the PKK/KDP/PUK/PDKI/PJAK finance themselves? What are their sources of income? Where do they get their weapons? Who trains them? Most successful insurgencies have outside supporters, does anyone support these groups and, if yes, who? How much money do Kurdish exiles in Europe and elsewhere send to these groups?

The KDP and PUK are part of the Kurdistan Regional Government, a recognized political entity. As such, they are financed like any other government—taxes, loans, interest, trade. I suspect PDKI gets at least some of its funding from PUK, but I will leave that open to question.

PJAK is part of “PKK,” so it gets its support from “PKK.” Now, even if I knew the details of “PKK’s” funding, I would not discuss it because I view it as a matter of national security. However, historically, “PKK” gets its funding from the Kurdish people themselves, mainly by the Kurdish Diaspora in Europe. Europe has historically been the biggest source of funding. “PKK” has taxed smugglers moving through its territory, regardless of what’s being smuggled—and “PKK” has neither cared what is smuggled nor has it wanted to know.

”PKK” has trained itself for decades now. It doesn’t need anyone else. Besides, who’s going to teach Kurds how to conduct a guerrilla war in the mountains? Everyone else is a rank amateur when it comes to this.

I assume that “PKK” gets its weapons in the same way that anyone else would get weapons—from international arms dealers. “PKK” has money; arms dealers have weapons.

The PKK used to have a formidable underground organization in Europe which in the eighties even succeeded in perfectly coordinated attacks on several Turkish embassies in different European countries. What happened to this network? Has it been destroyed by European police/counter-intelligence agencies or is it still out there?

The “PKK” has never had an underground organization in Europe. The ”PKK’s” organization in Europe is the Kurdish people in diaspora. More aggressive actions have been carried out there by young Kurds who have the will, and are militant and professional enough to carry them out. Even the political wing of the old “PKK” (the ERNK) had offices in Europe,and underground organizations rarely have offices.

There are millions of Kurds in diaspora that support the Kurdish freedom movement—and remember, Istanbul, Ankara, and other Turkish cities are diaspora. Although Turkey is constantly engaged in psychological operations against the Kurdish people and their freedom movement, the people know the justice of their own cause, even while fighting for legitimacy in the “civilized” world. It is the shame of Europe that it has remained silent for so long about the massive, systematic, state-sponsored human rights abuses carried out against the Kurdish people under Turkish occupation. Given US-backing of the same abuses, it is also a shame against the US as well, particularly when activists like Noam Chomsky, John Tirman, or Kevin McKiernan have documented and publicized the US role in Turkey’s atrocities, and human rights groups in the US have documented American sales and subsidies of weapons to Turkey, which were used to murder some 40,000 (official figure, therefore most likely on the low side) Kurdish civilians, utterly destroy some 4,000 villages (about the same as Saddam Hussein destroyed in South Kurdistan), and displace some 3 million more.

The information on all of this is widely available on the Internet, so there’s no excuse for not knowing about it.

Whoever wants to get rid of the “PKK” must murder the 20 million Turkish Kurds at the very least. That applies to the Kurdish Diaspora in Europe, so if European police/state terrorism agencies want to do that, I guess they can refurbish the ovens they used in their last genocide and put them back in service.

In conclusion, in which country is the current situation of Kurdish people the most likely to result in some kind of peace? How do you see the future of Kurds in Turkey, Iraq and Iran?

Ironically, the country in which the Kurdish people will find some kind of peace will be Turkey. Turkey’s elites are going to try to drag the rest of the country into the EU, so even though support for EU accession is at a low point, they will probably continue with it because they are too far along in the process.

There have been those in the Turkish elites who have made remarks here and there that indicate they realize very well that Turkey’s future viability lies in full equality and freedom for the Kurdish people. Unfortunately, it has been these very same people who have created a monster of the majority Turkish population through a media and system that are dedicated to perpetuating ultra-nationalistic propaganda. I think it will take a few generations, if they start to undo the damage now, to turn the Turkish people into democrats. But that means they have to end the ultra-nationalist propaganda and change the system now.

There are certain groups within Turkey that are willing to work peacefully with Kurds. Most of these are among the intellectuals or are on the Turkish Left. Also, Kurds under Turkish occupation are not as isolated as those in other parts of Kurdistan.

Finally, the efforts of DTP in the recent election campaign have been Herculean and heroic. If this leadership can continue to grow in experience and maintain its determination—something that I do not doubt—then I, for one, feel great hope. Certainly I think DTP has made mistakes in the very recent past but, on the other hand, they are on the political frontlines and deal with the situation in and up-close and personal way every day, yet they continue to push the boundaries.

As bad as the situation in Turkey has been and can be, including with the recent declaration of a new OHAL (State of Emergency), I feel the most hope for this part of Kurdistan. In Iraq, the greatest problem is the extreme corruption of the two main parties, the failure to provide basic services to the people, the repression of free speech, and a perverse refusal to invest in self-subsistence. Food is entirely imported, and that’s a serious problem for a population that has always been predominately agricultural without going in to the danger of relying on surrounding, hostile regimes for a food supply.

Syria and Iran, the two allies, have the Kurdish regions they occupy virtually cut off from the rest of the world and are ruled by repressive, racist regimes.

The key is the Kurdish population of Turkey, the largest population of Kurds on earth. Equality and freedom for us, within the Turkish state, will transform the entire Middle East for the better.

Serkeftin! (Victory)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Russia to Veto UN Kosovo Resolution

PODGORICA, Montenegro, July 19--Russia will veto any UN Security Council resolution on Kosovo that is unacceptable to Serbia, a senior Russian official said Thursday.

The statement by Boris Gryzlov, the speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, was the strongest sign yet that Russia is set on rejecting the final version of a UN draft resolution that it contends is a hidden route to the Serbian province's independence.

"In the case that the resolution is put to a vote, Russia will use its veto right,'' Gryzlov said. He added that Kosovo's independence "would represent a fuse that would ignite several conflicts in different parts of the world.''

Gryzlov was in Montenegro as part of a tour of the region seeking support for Russia's position.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meanwhile, indicated that the US was ready to recognize Kosovo even without UN backing.

"We are committed to an independent Kosovo and we will get there one way or another,'' Rice told reporters en route to Lisbon, Portugal, where she was to attend the Quartet meeting for Middle East peace.

The US Ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, said the security council would discuss the draft in closed consultations on Thursday.

The final draft calls for four months of intensive negotiations between Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, which is clamoring for independence, and Serbia which wants the province to remain its part.

Russia, a close Serb ally, said the text still contained a hidden path toward Kosovo's independence if talks fail.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in Berlin to discuss Kosovo, the German Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Lavrov will arrive Friday for "a short visit which we hope will be very intense,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger told reporters. The two will also discuss tense British-Russian relations in the diplomatic row over the death by poisoning of the former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko.

Kosovo has been under UN and NATO administration since a 78-day NATO-led air war that halted the Serb massacre of ethnic Albanians in 1999.

In April, UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari recommended that Kosovo be granted internationally supervised independence -- a proposal strongly supported by the province's ethnic Albanians, who make up 90 percent of the 2 million population, as well as the US and EU. It was opposed by Serbia and Russia.

The Saker interviews Israeli author and speaker Joel Bainerman

I have recently published a very interesting article by the Toronto-born Israeli author and speaker Joel Bainerman entitled "One State Solution is Best". Having posted his article I decided to contact Joel for some follow-up questions which he kindly agreed to answer. Hopefully, our Q&A exchange will provide a more in depth understanding of Joel's views and of the one state vs. two state debate.

From his answers it appears to me that Joel made a number of assumptions about my background and intentions (I can only suppose that some of my questions elicited these assumptions). In light of this, I am particularly thankful to Joel for agreeing to answer my questions.


In your article "One State is Best" you write: "Israel is not a Jewish state- it is a secular, democratic state with an overwhelming Jewish population ". But that is not so. The Law of Return is based on being Jewish, right to purchase "reclaimed" land is based on being Jewish, the laws on marriage are based on being Jewish, even the car licenses are different for Palestinians and Jews and the Israeli ID indicate nationalities, no citizenship. How can that be called "not Jewish" or "Democratic".

Israel is not a Jewish state because it is not run by Jewish law. For lack of an alternative- it is a secular state. Non-Jews can marry each other in Israel. If it were Jewish- it would be run by Jewish law. That is what was meant.

Israeli politicians always speak about "Arab terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands" but never of "Jewish terrorists with Arab blood on their hands" (even though there are plenty of those). Currently, *rabbis* get to decide who is Jewish or not, not the courts. Does that not sound like an ethno-religious theocracy to you?

I won't debate these issues with you- as they have nothing to do with my arguments.

In a recent comment of mine on the possibility of a one state solution I wrote: The problem with that is there is no way in hell most Jews in Israel (or outside Israel for that matter) will agree with that.

You just ran an article from one that does- and my goal is to convince others.

Just imagine the very concept of an Arab Muslim Chief of Staff for the military or a Parliament with an Arab majority!

Who said there would be an Arab majority? The moment the living standards of Arabs on West Bank rise- their birth rate will decrease. If you notice I don't include Gaza in the OSS. Israel can't absorb Gaza- but it can absorb the West Bank.

The Jewish culture as it is today, whether secular or religious, is based on 3000 years of "us versus them" and on at least 2200 years of ethno-phyletistic hostility to the Gentiles.

Nonsense. You are reading too many websites who run articles by people who claim to know what is in the Talmud but can't read it by themselves.

The fact that the Nazis butchered millions of Jews only made that worse. And Arab terrorism (including such niceties as blowing up Jewish kindergartens in Europe or slaughtering entire families in Palestine) pushed that sense even further. So the correct decision seems impossible to achieve as it would require that Israelis embrace the Palestinians as their fellow human beings created by God with the same essence, rights, duties and purpose. From all my readings about Judaism I do not see that happening. Not even among secular Jews. What would you answer to these arguments?

I have lived with Israelis- for 25 years- and know what the majority will accept. I always get a kick of people who claim to know what motivates Israelis but have never lived a day in Israel or spoken to an Israel in Hebrew. Don't worry about Israelis. Worry about Palestinians not realizing that with or without Israeli approval or opposition- it is likely that they will never build a stable, prosperous state. If not- what are the alternatives. The OSS is one alternative. The Palestinians don't have to accept it- but if not- what will they have? More of the same? Military occupation misery and poverty.

In your article you write: "there would be no reason to dismantle Jewish settlements at an estimated cost of tens of billions of dollars. In the eyes of the law- the West Bankers would enjoy the same rights as the Jewish residents of the West Bank/Judea and Samaria. No longer would the Arabs who live near the settlements view them as their enemy but as their neighbors and fellow citizens ." Does this not overlook the fact that Jewish settlers are illegally occupying land which was seized from the Palestinians by violence and terror?

I also said once Israeli citizens- the Palestinians can file claims in Israeli courts for any land they claim was stolen. Try doing that in a military court. Israel seized the land from Jordan in a war in 67. Most of it, 90%, was Jordanian state land. No denying there was private land and Palestinians owned it. As for "violence and terror" I won't debate with you who are worse, horrible people, Israeli army or Palestinian terrorists. Not my issue.

Why should Palestinians ever accept that somebody just showed up one day, demolished their houses and field, expelled them and now lives in racist fortresses as "neighbors and fellow citizens"?

In war- people suffer. The Palestinians suffered. You are interested in scoring propaganda points. I want to build a modern infrastructure for all West Bankers and give them full access to the Israeli economy as well as full access to the Israeli civilian courts. If you would rather they go on suffering- under military occupation- with their lives getting worse every passing decade- then the OSS doesn't suit you. As for "racist" nobody is more racist than Arabs- including Palestinians. I think it is time you guys stopped throwing that one around.

Do you really believe that the settlers would agree to share water resources with the Palestinians.

The settlers do not control the Israeli government. They are an instrument of it. Besides, importing water from Turkey or desalination is a perfect solution for water for all. As Israeli citizens the Palestinians will get as much water as they need. Under military occupation they will continue to get screwed.

Keep in mind that in almost every municipality of the West Bank the Jewish settlers are a tiny minority and that if democratic and civil equality was introduced into the West Bank all the settlers would be at the mercy of Palestinian courts and city councils, some, if not most, of which would be run by Hamas. Do you really believe that these self-described tzaddikims would accept regulations, legal decisions or decrees of goyim Arabs?

You didn't read my article. Both settlers and West Bankers are Israeli citizens. The Israeli police, courts, taxation system and government is in charge. The settlers do not decide what happens in the Israeli government. I know it is convenient for some to think this- but it is not true.

Lastly, what is the status of the One State Solution among Palestinians and Israelis today? Are there any political and civil forces supporting this idea and does the current situation in the Middle-East lead you to believe that the future is conducive to this idea?

I am hoping to find more Israelis to accept it- as it is a good solution for Israel- and considering their options- an excellent, realistic solution for the Palestinians.

Thanks for the opportunity to express my views. I look forward to feedback from anyone. You can tell anyone they can contact me for rebuttal at his email address:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Alleged US spy decapitated in Pakistan

Source: AFP, Press TV

Suspected Islamic militants in a chaotic Pakistani tribal town have decapitated a man accused of spying for US forces on Wednesday.

The militants dumped the body of the unidentified victim in his 20's in an isolated area near the northwestern town of Khar in the Bajaur tribal district, said the local official who was informed by the villagers.

The official also added that they found a note, left by the militants, near the body in which those who spy for the US forces were warned of the same fate.

It was the second killing of the kind in the area this week, after militants slit the throat of a 40-year-old Afghan refugee from the neighboring Afghan province of Kunar on Tuesday.

IDF generals prepare next war, 25% of Israelis dodge the draft

“Israel” preparing for war with Syria, confirms general

Source: Israeltoday, 17-7-2007

A senior “Israeli” general on Monday confirmed that the army is preparing for a full-scale war with Syria in the very near future.

Speaking at “Israel’s” Institute for National Security Studies, Maj.-Gen. Eyal Ben-Reuven, who served as deputy commander of “Israel’s” northern forces during last summer`s war in Lebanon, said that the army is “preparing itself for an all-out war, and this is a major change in the military`s working premise” following the 34-day conflict with Hizbullah that many “Israelis” feel their nation failed to win.

The general said that when war breaks out, Syria will be prepared to suffer mass military and civilian casualties, while at the same time playing on “Israel’s” sensitivity to civilian losses by striking “Israel’s” home front with as many missiles as possible.

Syria “will try to hit `Israel`s` home front in order to win diplomatic gains in peace talks that will follow, and also cause another split in `Israeli` society,” “Israel” National News quoted Ben-Reuven as saying.

In order to deny Syria this victory, Ben-Reuven said the “Israeli” army is training for a swift and overwhelming invasion of Syria “to knock out the areas from where missiles are launched against `Israel` as quickly as possible.”

He lamented that if “Israel” had responded to Hizbullah`s rocket attacks in such a manner, the Second Lebanon War would have ended much differently.

One in four “Israeli” men dodges the draft

Source:, 18-7-2007

Jerusalem (al-Quds) - One in four “Israeli” men eligible for national service last year dodged the draft, the highest proportion in the history of the Jewish (Zionist) state.

Figures released yesterday by the “Israeli” Army showed that in the 2006 intake, just 75 per cent of eligible men joined up. The figures date from before last year`s Lebanon war, widely viewed in “Israel” as a failure, and there are worries that this year`s numbers could show an even greater rate of non-participation.

The declining participation rate in a country that since its foundation in 1948 has repeatedly had to use its army to fight for its existence led to strong criticism from officers inside the “Israeli” army.

"`Israeli` society has to condemn draft dodgers," an unnamed officer said. "This is not just a military matter, but a social issue as well. Those who do not shoulder their share of the burden have to be made to feel ashamed."

“Israeli” men can avoid service in several ways. The growing number of Ultra-Orthodox Jews have special dispensation to continue religious studies, while convicted criminals are barred from serving, as are the ill and infirm.

But some young “Israelis” travel overseas beyond the reach of the army authorities and there is some evidence of people pretending to have mental illness to avoid service.

There have been calls to reverse the decline either by limiting exemptions, or by allowing those with a criminal record to enlist.

The reduced levels of participation reveal a change in attitudes among young “Israelis” as the memory of the country`s early days, surrounded by hostile, aggressive Arab neighbours, becomes more distant.

With peace treaties signed with Egypt and Jordan, the imminent sense of threat is not as strong for today`s young “Israelis” as it used to be.

(note: the quotatian marks around the words "Israel" or "Israeli" are not mine, but are from the original articles. VS)

No Evidence of Iran’s role in violence and instability in Iraq – confirms British Foreign Minister

by Mehrnaz Shahabi, Wednesday, July 18, 2007

David Milliband, British foreign secretary, confirmed in an interview (1) with the Financial times, 8th July, that there is no evidence of Iranian complicity in instability in Iraq or attacks on British troops:

Asked by the FT, “What do you think of Iran’s complicity in attacks on British soldiers in Basra”?, Miliband’s first response was, “Well, I think that any evidence of Iranian engagement there is to be deplored. I think that we need regional players to be supporting stability, not fomenting discord, never mind death. And as I said at the beginning, Iran has a complete right, and we support the idea that Iran should be a wealthy and respected part of the future. But it does not have the right to be a force of instability”. However, prompted more closely, “Just to be clear, there is evidence?”, he replied, “Well no, I chose my words carefully…”.

This confession came in the context of an implied accusation or a not so subtle suggestion of Iranian role in the instability in Iraq which seem to have stimulated the question “There is evidence?”, to which the reply “Well no …”; a possible disappointment, was nonetheless crystal clear: There is no evidence.

Contextually, this important admission by the British Foreign Minister of absence of any evidence linking Iran to the violence and instability in Iraq was preceded by the discussion about Iran’s nuclear programme and Britain’s readiness to impose another set of punishing sanctions on Iranian people, for Iran’s non-compliance with the security council’s resolutions which have no basis in international law, imposed based on supposed suspicions for which again, there is no evidence .

Confirmation of the absence of evidence was then followed by yet another confirmation that Britain is leaving the military option “on the table”, on pretexts for which, there is no evidence, either of Iran’s breach of non proliferation rules or its threat to international peace and security. This confirms that despite a change of faces and make up, Britain continues to tow the American foreign policy and is in danger of being dragged into another illegal and immoral war, contrary to the will of the British people, and contrary to the evidence of its own finding. Jack Straw rejected as madness, any idea of military attack on Iran. Yet, Miliband refused to remove the military option off the table.

Keeping open, submissively, the possibility of British participation in a US/Israeli war or to give at least political backing to such an adventure, supports the assumption that the transition from Blair to Brown is significant, not from the point of view of any fundamental difference between Blair and Brown and their respective cabinets, but because of popular opposition to Blair’s open warmongering and servitude to American foreign policy.

The transition to the new government is a victory for the popular opposition to war and will remain a victory only if, under popular pressure and demand, the Brown government categorically rejects and opposes the military option against Iran; that it rejects the sanction resolutions which cause Iranian people immense suffering, and as with Iraq, are used as a pretext for war; and demand that the British government uses any influence it might have on the US administration in support of the pursuit of bilateral dialogue between the US and Iran without precondition.

Silence of the Media

The financial Times itself did not linger on the admission by Miliband of absence of evidence. Relevantly so, two days previously the FT published a story alleging Iranian government’s cooperation with Al-Qaeda using Iranian territory for launching anti-coalition operations in Iraq, without any evidence. Across the mainstream media the response has been uniform silence. This revelation should have been greeted with relief and welcomed by those in Britain and the US who are genuinely concerned about the tragedy that this illegal invasion and occupation has brought upon the people of Iraq, the security and moral implications for the people of the US and the UK, the welfare and safety of the coalition troops and the establishment of peace and security in Iraq and the Middle East. Considering the orchestrated chorus of the war media finding shadows of Iranian culprits at every corner, from Palestine to Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond, sabotaging the ‘noble efforts at establishing peace, security and democracy in this dangerous region’, these warriors of the clash of civilisations have not found the absence of evidence of Iranian complicity in the violence in Iraq newsworthy!

Neither has the 8th July Associated Press story (3) of the released audio tape from Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the leader of an al-Qaeda umbrella group in Iraq, has elicited any response from the US government, or particular interest and analysis in the media. In this audio tape, Baghdadi, allegedly, threatens to wage war against Iran unless Iran stops supporting the Shiia government in Iraq, and declaring that “his Sunni fighters have been preparing for four years to wage a battle against Shiite-dominated Iran”. This absence of interest in the media, in the wake of the recent flood of propaganda accusing Iran of complicity with Al-Qaeda (2) (4) is remarkable in its degree of cynicism, not just towards Iran but towards genuine desire for peace and security internationally.

The US, with its army briefing of 2nd July by Bregadier General, Kevin Bergner, who made wild and serious accusations about Iranian complicity in Anti-Us insurgency and its collusion in killing the US servicemen, has understandably remained silent!

Because of course, both the confirmation of Iranian non-involvement in the violence in Iraq, and the Al-Qaeda’s alleged intention to wage a war against Iran should Iran continue to support the Iraqi government, debunks the myth of Iranian involvement and investment in the continuing instability in Iraq and exposes the alliance of interests between the US and Al-Qaeda around their deep hostility towards Iran.

For those with a genuine desire for peace, this clear confirmation of the absence of Iranian involvement in the violence and instability in Iraq would have signaled a better prospect for establishing security in Iraq, and a better prospect for a successful withdrawal of troops. This would have also indicated the possibility, at least as far as Iran’s willingness is concerned, for a fruitful outcome for the bilateral dialogue between Iran and the US, the consequences of which are far reaching in terms of prosperity and security for the people in the region and for peace and security internationally.