Nasser’s Ghost


As I watch Egypt’s slow-motion revolution, I wonder if somewhere among the 465,000-man armed forces is another young colonel who loves his people even more than he loves real estate.
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A NEW NASSER IN THE LAND OF THE PHARAOHS?

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by Eric Margolis

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“The king is dead!,” as the French say, “long live the king!” Will this be the case in Egypt, where one monarch, the ousted Husni Mubarak, will be replaced by another general or military junta led by Field Marshall Mohammed Tantawi?

So far, this is what Egyptians are getting. The new military junta just proclaimed it would support the rigged Israeli-Egyptian peace deal signed by Anwar Sadat, and hold elections sometime in the future.   This is not what Egyptians want or deserve.

As one option of what may develop, let’s look back to the 1947-48 Arab-Israeli war. A group of young Egyptian army officers fighting in Sinai found themselves surrounded by Israeli forces in the Falluja Pocket.

Egypt’s soldiers had fought bravely to defend the Palestinians, but their equipment was rotten and their senior generals corrupt.

Funds to buy tanks and artillery were stolen by high-ranking generals. Hand grenades and rifles hurriedly bought in Italy were sabotaged by Jewish agents. Grenades exploded as soon as their pins were pulled; rifles fired backwards, into their user’s face.

The besieged Egyptian officers, none above the rank of colonel, vowed to clean up their nation’s widespread corruption and oust its royal regime.   In 1952, they struck, exiling the British puppet, King Farouk, and proclaiming a new dawn for Egypt.

I met poor, sad King Farouk in Geneva in 1958. He spoke to me of his love for Egypt and even praised the leader of the coup that overthrew him, Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Col. Nasser and his fellow officers -that included a would-be actor, Anwar Sadat – were the first native Egyptians to rule Egypt since the days of Alexander the Great.   The fiery, charismatic Nasser electrified Egypt (literally and figuratively) and turned it into a leader of the Third World. Egypt resumed its traditional role as political, military, cultural and intellectual pacesetter for the Arab world.

This pivotal role just as quickly ended when first Anwar Sadat, then Gen. Husni Mubarak, assumed power. Both were handpicked by the Americans, Sadat reportedly as early as 1952. Under their rule, Egypt became a backwater, losing its former authority, influence, and image.

President Nasser was adored by most Egyptians for his simple life, love of country, his craggy looks and powerful masculinity. My mother, a journalist and Mideast specialist, interviewed both Nasser and Sadat. Always sharp-tongued and direct, she told me Nasser was “a real man, with guts and a true heart.” She dismissed Sadat as a “clown.”

I lived in Egypt in 1957 and remember ecstatic crowds chanting, “Ya Gamal! Ya Gamal.” A year earlier, Nasser had nationalized the Suez Canal and withstood attacks by Israel, Britain and France. To Egyptians, he was simply the “rais,” the boss.

Nasser made many grave errors. His great heart finally burst from over-work and chain-smoking. Sadat was quickly engineered into power by Washington. The same process occurred after Sadat was assassinated.

As I watch Egypt’s slow-motion revolution, I wonder if somewhere among the 465,000-man armed forces is another young colonel who loves his people even more than he loves real estate.

Egypt’s senior generals are part of the ruling establishment. Many spend more time managing their business affairs than military matters.

As in Pakistan, Egypt’s army is up to its helmets in big business: shopping centers, tourism, property, hotels, steel, telecom. Few among Egypt’s top brass wants to end their gravy train by changing the status quo.

The US also pays Egypt’s military $1.4 billion annually not to confront Israel. That’s a fortune in a poor nation.

Egypt’s younger officers must be thinking about the example of Gamal Abdel Nasser. Perhaps there is a young colonel or even major who may try to seize power and emulate the “rais.”

If Egyptians feel cheated by the change of power in Cairo, as many will, and violent demonstrations begin, what will happen if the junta orders a battalion commanded by a colonel to open fire on protestors?

The first young officer who refuses and orders his men to join the demonstrators will be Egypt’s new hero. Nasser’s ghost haunts Cairo.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2011

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Source, Title image
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Worse Than A Crime – A Mistake


Britain’s new conservative prime minister, David Cameron, calls the Gaza siege, “completely unacceptable” and the UN chief Ban Ki-moon says Israel i punishing civilians, which constitutes a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions.
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“WE ARE ALLL PALESTINIANS”  BANNERS FLUTTER ALL OVER TURKEY

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Turks are still seething with rage over last week’s Israeli attack on a Turkish vessel trying to break the years-long blockade of Gaza. Four of the nine peace activists killed aboard the ship were Turkish citizens. A score of peace activists were wounded; some claimed they were beaten when in Israeli custody ashore.
 `We are all Palestinians’ read banners being waved across Turkey. Turks, a very nationalist and combustible people, are taking the Israeli attack as an assault on their homeland.
 
Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accused Israel of a “massacre,” warning, “Israel risks losing its closet ally in the Mideast if it does not change its mentality.” By “mentality,” Erdogan meant Israel’s rightwing, Likud coalition of PM Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom relations have steadily worsened.
 
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, a rising star in Turkey’s politics, accused Israel at the UN of “terrorism” and “piracy.” However, under international law, piracy is done by individuals, not states. 
 
Israel’s supporters have launched a furious, world-wide offensive, insisting Israel’s naval commandos were only defending themselves and somehow victims of “terrorism.” blockading 1.5 million malnourished Palestinians prevents Gaza from becoming an Iranian naval and missile base.  
 
Few outside pro-Israel circles agree with such hyperbole, to which Netanyahu is famously prone him. His mantra that Israel had to defend itself mostly fell on deaf ears.
 
Britain’s new conservative prime minister, David Cameron, called the Gaza siege, “completely unacceptable.” UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Israel was punishing civilians, which constitutes a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions.
 
France’s foreign minister, Bernard Kuchner, demanded Israel lift the siege and offered the attractive compromise of having all ships bound for Gaza searched for arms by French naval vessels.
 
French philosopher Bernard-Henry Levy accused Israel’s Likud government of “political autism.” Both men are Jewish. Israel’s respected center-left newspaper “Ha’aretz” called the maritime raid “a disgraceful failure.” 
A leading Israeli thinker, Uri Avnery, who was assaulted In Israel this past weekend by rightwing thugs, called Netanyahu, “crazy.”
 
The Obama administration, following previous US policy, blocked UN condemnation of Israel, further infuriating the Muslim world against the United States. This after the undiplomatic Hillary Clinton insulted Brazil and Turkey by sneeringly dismissing their sensible plan to diminish Iran’s uranium stockpile. 
 
Israel’s worldwide condemnation was ironic because it has been attempting to divert international attention away from the frightful suffering of Gaza’s people by beating the war drums about Iran’s non-existent nuclear threat. This policy has backfired. 
 
The whole world is now looking at Gaza – whose wretched people hailed originally from land now occupied by Israel and have ended up crammed into the world’s largest open-air prison camp.   One would never learn from the news that Gaza’s Hamas-led government is the Arab world’s only fairly elected democratic government.
 
Israel’s right wingers have sailed their beleaguered nation into a political ambush that even the Wall Street Journal, the Likud Party’s leading US voice, termed “one of Israel’s worst public relations disasters in years.” 
 
The maritime fiasco further deepened Israel’s growing isolation and dangerous, nuclear-armed bunker mentality. 
As Uri Avnery said, Israel had isolated itself by trying to isolate Gaza.
 
Turkey has long been Israel’s strategic ally and sole friend in the Muslim world.   The Ottoman Empire had an honorable tradition of sheltering Jews from Christian persecution. Turkish- Israeli trade is close to $4.5 billion; some 80,000 Israeli tourists vacation annually in Turkey. 
 
Until PM Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AK, was elected in 2007, real power in Turkey was wielded from behind a façade of parliamentary democracy by hardline, rightwing generals of its powerful, 510,000-man armed forces. 
 
Turkey’s brass have overthrown four governments since World War II and once ousted Erdogan from office. They particularly detest his AK party, which espouses principles of Islamic welfare, cuts in defense spending, friendship with Greece, and joining the EU.
 
Turkey’s dinosaur generals, and their allies in the security establishment, courts and academia, are militant secularist Kemalists who fear and loathe religious and political Islam that challenges their privileges and power base, look down on Arabs, and are ideologically close to Israel’s rightwing military establishment. Israel has sold Turkey billions in arms deals, producing fat commissions for all involved.   
 
Israel’s crack air force trains in Turkey and had been planning to use Turkish airspace to attack Iran. The two nation’s intelligence agencies cooperate closely. 
 
 After a series of intrigues collectively know as, “Ergenekon,” the government has broken up cabals of far-right Turkish officers and civilian plotters trying to launch another military coup.  
 
Turkey’s bullying military has been largely pushed out of politics, at least for the time being.
 
“Ergenekon” ruptured the secret Israeli-Turkish link and the dominance of the military. This allowed PM Erdogan to articulate Turkish public opinion by denouncing the killing of 1,300 Palestinians in Israel’s heavy bombing of Gaza in 2008-2009, beginning the rapid souring of Turkish-Israeli relations.  
 
Now, Netanyahu’s bungling has shot Israel in both feet. To paraphrase Tallyrand, worse than crime, it was an error.
 
The world is demanding Israel end its brutal siege of hungry Gaza. If Gaza’s Palestinians will stop firing their useless home-made rockets at Israel and negotiate a prisoner swap with Israel (Israel has been balking at the exchange ratio), the end of this siege, which bans even delivery of spices and children’s toys, could be in sight.    
 
However, Israeli-Turkish relations may never recover.   Erdogan has emerged as the Muslim world’s most important leader, embarrassing all those Arab leaders who did nothing about Gaza. Their only response to the maritime killing was to call another meeting of the ever-useless Arab League.
 
When Israeli’s emotions cool down, they will see how rash and foolhardy Bibi Netanyahu, has been.   He looks more each day like Israel’s version of his good friend, George W. Bush.
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Source: Eric Margolis Title Image: Hammer and Sickle
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DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

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TERRORISM: THEIRS AND OURS – I


Menachem Begin, with the looks of a sober young guy, the 6thPrime Minister of Israel, in his thirties, was actively involved in terrorism. He was declared a terrorist and an award of LP 2,000 was announced by the Palestine government under British mandate.
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BEFORE 1942 IT WAS WEST WHICH HAD DECLARED ZIONISTS AS TERRORISTS WITH HEAD MONEY

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by Eqbal Ahmad

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In the 1930s and 1940s, the Jewish underground in Palestine was described as “TERRORIST.”  Then new things happened.

By 1942, the Holocaust was occurring, and a certain liberal sympathy with the Jewish people had built up in the Western world. At that point, the terrorists of Palestine, who were Zionists, suddenly started to be described, by 1944-45, as “freedom fighters.” At least two Israeli Prime Ministers, including Menachem Begin, have actually, you can find in the books and posters with their pictures, saying “Terrorists, Reward This Much.” The highest reward I have noted so far was 100,000 British pounds on the head of Menachem Begin, the terrorist. (more…)

Israel – or You Don’t Pee in My Pool and I Won’t Sh*t in Your Sandbox – I


Once upon a time there was a treaty by the United Nations – Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Guess who has never signed it?  Israel.
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Israel – or You Don’t Pee in My Pool and I Won’t Sh*t in Your Sandbox

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Last month Sec. of State Hillary Clinton had been doing a middle east tour where she called for a nuclear free middle east, and of course Iran is playing the game..and guess who else is playing?  Israel.

Once upon a time there was a treaty by the United Nations – Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Guess who has never signed it?  Israel.  For years Israel has refused to discuss it’s nuclear capabilities, although it is generally accepted that they are a nuclear state.    Does that not beg the question why do we, as the US or anybody in the rest of the world not demand that Israel disclose what they do or do not have, particularly in light of Iran claiming to be a nuclear state.

The Middle East is a simmering keg – and some nukes in there and see if the entire world doesn’t feel the heat.  Not that I have any particular love for the Iranian regime (let’s be honest Ahmadinejad is an idiot, and I fully support the Iranian people in their rebellion) but at least they are admitting they have the capabilities.   Just in time to turn up the heat Israel shows their new drone which can fly up to 20 hours, a not too subtle hint to Iran that we can reach you…there is a lot of saber rattling going on, makes one wonder who is going to call whose (or should that be whoms) bluff.

I also think that in light of the financial help the US directly gives Israel they should at least come clean with their nuclear capabilities..here are some interesting facts and figures..I mean after all we bought the information one way or another.Total direct aid to Israel, 1948-2003$89.9 billion (uncorrected for inflation)

    • Since 1976 Israel has been the largest annual recipient of US aid. It is the largest cumulative recipient since World War II.
    • Direct U.S. aid for each Israeli citizen in 2001 (per capita annual income of Israel = $16,710) — over $500
    • Direct U.S. Aid for each Ethiopian citizen in 2001 (per capita annual income of Ethiopia = $100) — about $.45
    • REGULAR US GRANT AID in FY 2003
    • $2.76 billion military aid grant
    • $2.1 billion economic support funds
    • $600 million refugee resettlement grant
    • COMMERCIAL LOAN GUARANTEES IN FY 2003
    • $2 billion
    • BUSH ADMINISTRATION SUPPLEMENTAL REQUEST FOR FY 2003
    • Military aid grant $1 billion
    • Commercial loan guarantees $9 billion
    • Arrow missile development $60 million
    • TOTAL AID FOR FY 2003 $14.82 billion
    • Percentage of U.S. foreign aid that goes to Israel — 30%
    • Israel’s population as a percentage of world population — .01%
    • Section 116 of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) states, “No assistance may be provided under this part to the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” 22 U.S.C. 2304(a)
    • Section 4 of the Arms Export Control Act prohibits selling military equipment to countries that use them for non-self-defense purposes.
    • The U.S. State Department determined in February 2001 that Israel has committed each of the acts that the law defines as “gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges and trial, causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction and clandestine detention of those persons, and other flagrant denials of the right to life, liberty, or the security of person.” It described Israeli army use of live ammunition against Palestinians when soldiers were not in impending danger as “excessive use of force.”
SOURCES: Clyde R. Mark, Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance,  Congressional Research Service, updated April 1, 2003; Clyde R. Mark,  Middle East: U.S. Foreign Assistance, FY 2001, FY 2002, FY 2003 Congressional Research Service, March 28, 2002

Sometimes I am quite confident that I am the only person in the world that doesn’t have direct access to a bomb.

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Source: Public Monkey 2010 Blog
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The New ‘Forgotten’ War


Every Picture Tells a Story, Don’t It: Iraqi Forces soldier Ali, whose full name was withheld for security reasons, hugs a nephew he had never seen before as he is reunited with family members  in Umm Qasr, Iraq.


IRAQ OCCUPATION FALLS INTO MEDIA SHADOWS

Dahr Jamail

The Western world that slaughtered Iraq and Iraqis, through 13 years of sanctions and seven years of occupation, is now turning its back on the victims. What has remained of Iraq is still being devastated by bombings, assassinations, corruption, millions of evictions and continued infrastructure destruction. Yet the world that caused all this is trying to draw a rosy picture of the situation in Iraq.”

-Maki Al-Nazzal, Iraqi political analyst

As Afghanistan has taken center stage in U.S. corporate media, with President Barack Obama announcing two major escalations of the war in recent months, the U.S. occupation of Iraq has fallen into the media shadows.

But while U.S. forces have begun to slowly pull back in Iraq, approximately 130,000 American troops and 114,000 private contractors still remain in the country (Congressional Research Service, 12/14/09)-along with an embassy the size of Vatican City. Upwards of 400 Iraqi civilians still die in a typical month (Iraq Body Count, 12/31/09), and fallout from the occupation that is now responsible, by some estimates, for 1 million Iraqi deaths (Extra!, 1/2/08) continues to severely impact Iraqis in ways that go uncovered by the U.S. press.

From early on in the occupation of Iraq, one of the most pressing concerns for Iraqis-besides ending the occupation and a desperate need for security-has been basic infrastructure. The average home in Iraq today, over six and a half years into the occupation, operates on less than six hours of electricity per day (AP, 9/7/09).

“A water shortage described as the most critical since the earliest days of Iraq’s civilization is threatening to leave up to 2 million people in the south of the country without electricity and almost as many without drinking water,” the Guardian (8/26/09) reported; waterborne diseases and dysentery are rampant. The ongoing lack of power and clean drinking water has even led Iraqis to take to the streets in Baghdad (AP, 10/11/09), chanting, “No water, no electricity in the country of oil and the two rivers.”

Devastation wrought by the occupation, coupled with rampant corruption among the Western contractors awarded the contracts to rebuild Iraq’s demolished infrastructure, are to blame (International Herald Tribune, 7/6/09). Ali Ghalib Baban, Iraq’s minister of planning, said late last year (International Herald Tribune, 11/21/09) that the billions of dollars the U.S. has spent on so-called reconstruction contracts in Iraq has had no discernible impact. “Maybe they spent it,” he said, “but Iraq doesn’t feel it.”

Last January, the Los Angeles Times ran a story (1/26/09) that highlighted the lack of electricity: “As elections near, people say it’s hard to have faith in leaders when they don’t even have electricity,” was the subhead. But most other large U.S. papers have avoided the topic-unless it is brought up in such a way as to blame Iraqis for the problem, as the New York Times (11/21/09) did with its piece, “U.S. Fears Iraqis Will Not Keep Up Rebuilt Projects.”

Further complicating matters, a drought that is now over four years old plagues most of Iraq. In the country’s north, lack of water has forced more than 100,000 people to abandon their homes since 2005, with 36,000 more on the verge of leaving (AP, 10/13/09).

Corporate media coverage of the ongoing Iraqi refugee crisis-the U.N. estimates that more than 4.5 million Iraqis in all have been displaced from their homes (UNHCR.org, 1/09)-continues to be scant. The stories that do appear tend to be local stories about Iraqi refugees in the newspaper’s home city (e.g., Chicago Tribune, 10/25/09).

For Iraqis who remain in the country, another critical story is cancer. The U.S. and British militaries used more than 1,700 tons of depleted uranium in Iraq in the 2003 invasion (Jane’s Defence News, 4/2/04)-on top of 320 tons used in the 1991 Gulf War (Inter Press Service, 3/25/03). Literally every local person I’ve ever spoken with in Iraq during my nine months of reporting there knows someone who either suffers from or has died of cancer.

The lead paragraph of an article by Jalal Ghazi, for New America Media (1/6/10), is blunt:

Forget about oil, occupation, terrorism or even Al-Qaeda. The real hazard for Iraqis these days is cancer. Cancer is spreading like wildfire in Iraq. Thousands of infants are being born with deformities. Doctors say they are struggling to cope with the rise of cancer and birth defects, especially in cities subjected to heavy American and British bombardment.

Ghazi reported that in Fallujah, which bore the brunt of two massive U.S. military operations in 2004, as many as 25 percent of newborn infants have serious physical abnormalities. Cancer rates in Babil, an area south of Baghdad, have risen from 500 cases in 2004 to more than 9,000 in 2009. Dr. Jawad al-Ali, the director of the Oncology Center in Basra, told Al Jazeera English (10/12/09) that there were 1,885 cases of cancer in all of 2005; between 1,250 and 1,500 patients visit his center every month now.

Babies born to U.S. veterans of the 1991 war are showing birth defects very similar to affected Iraqi babies (Sunday Herald, 3/30/03), and many U.S. soldiers are now referring to Gulf War Syndrome 2, alleging they have developed cancer because of exposure to depleted uranium in Iraq (New America Media, 1/6/10).

How has this ongoing story been covered by the corporate media? It hasn’t, at least not in the last five years, with the exception of an article in Vanity Fair (2/05) and a few isolated Associated Press stories, like “Sickened Iraq Vets Cite Depleted Uranium” (8/13/06). While smaller publications like the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (11/05) and the Public Record (10/19/09) have taken it on, none of the other big outlets have touched the story.

While U.S. newspapers have been following the lead-up to the Iraq elections, there has been virtually no coverage of the mass arrests Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s government is busy conducting in predominantly Sunni areas of Iraq. As the Iraqi daily Azzaman (1/4/10) reported:

Iraqi security forces have launched a wide campaign in Sunni Muslim-dominated neighborhoods of Baghdad and towns and cities to the north and west of the capital…. The campaign is said to be the widest by the government in years and has led to an exodus of people to the Kurdish north.

Family members of those being arrested are not told where their loved ones are being held, only that those arrested will remain behind bars until after the elections. These sweeps have collected members of the formerly U.S.-backed Awakening Councils, Sunni militias once paid off by the U.S. to stop their attacks on occupation forces. The cutoff of U.S. support for the Councils is another underreported story.

Meanwhile, the hardship for Iraqis continues unabated, along with the need to find alternative sources for accurate information-or any information-about an occupation that continues to involve as many troops as when Iraq dominated U.S. headlines in 2004 (Congressional Research Service, 7/2/09).

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Notes:

Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who has been reporting about the U.S. occupation of Iraq for more than six years. His most recent book is The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
There is also a YouTube video on the subject including a commentary on the babies born with deformed  bodies by the writer Dahr Jamail on Al-Jazeera English TV.
Source: Dahr Jamail’s Mideast Dispatches Image: Winds of Change
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.

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