Friday, June 22, 2007

Muslims’ Veils Test Limits of Britain’s Tolerance - New York Times

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Muslims’ Veils Test Limits of Britain’s Tolerance - New York Times: "Muslims’ Veils Test Limits of Britain’s Tolerance

LONDON, June 16 — Increasingly, Muslim women in Britain take their children to school and run errands covered head to toe in flowing black gowns that allow only a slit for their eyes. On a Sunday afternoon in Hyde Park, groups of black-clad Muslim women relaxed on the green baize lawn among the in-line skaters and badminton players.

Their appearance, like little else, has unnerved other Britons, testing the limits of tolerance here and fueling the debate over the role of Muslims in British life.

Many veiled women say they are targets of abuse. Meanwhile, there are growing efforts to place legal curbs on the full-face Muslim veil, known as the niqab.

There have been numerous examples in the past year. A lawyer dressed in a niqab was told by an immigration judge that she could not represent a client because, he said, he could not hear her. A teacher wearing a niqab was dismissed from her school. A student who was barred from wearing a niqab took her case to the courts, and lost. In reaction, the British educational authorities are proposing a ban on the niqab in schools altogether.

A leading Labor Party politician, Jack Straw, scolded women la"

Monday, June 18, 2007

Those who denied poll result were the real coup plotters | World | The Observer

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Those who denied poll result were the real coup plotters | World | The Observer: "Those who denied poll result were the real coup plotters

The reality is that the only people who are really behind Salam Fayyad are the European and US diplomats who have long sung his praises behind the scenes to any journalist prepared to listen.

Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor
Sunday June 17, 2007
The Observer

Here is how democracy works in the Alice in Wonderland world of Palestinian politics under the tutelage of the US and international community. After years of being hectored to hold elections and adopt democratic norms, a year and a half ago Palestinians duly elected Hamas with 44 per cent of the vote, ahead of Fatah on 41 per cent.

It was a good election, as former US President Jimmy Carter observed at the time, a free, fair and accurate expression of the desires of a Palestinian people sick of the uselessness, corruption and gangsterism of Fatah. The problem was that it didn't quite reflect the wishes of Washington and the international community.

Article continues
And while there can be no denying that Hamas, which refutes the existence of Israel and has backed suicide bombings, is a threatening organisation, there was no attempt at engagement, in the way that Fatah, whose militants have perpetrated scores of attacks, has been engaged"

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hamas to Grant Amnesty to Fatah Leaders -

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Hamas to Grant Amnesty to Fatah Leaders - "Hamas to Grant Amnesty to Fatah Leaders

By Scott Wilson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, June 15, 2007; 8:56 AM

JERUSALEM, June 15 -- Victorious Hamas gunmen rounded up senior military leaders of the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip early Friday, then announced a general amnesty in a sign the Islamic movement is seeking to reconcile with its secular rivals after five days of fierce fighting.

As world leaders planned to confer on the fast-moving events, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas moved to restructure the crumbling Palestinian government, naming independent lawmaker Salam Fayyad as prime minister a day after dismissing Hamas' leader from the post.

The amnesty announcement defused worries that Hamas, which completed its swift military seizure of Gaza hours earlier, would begin dispensing victor's justice in the strip. In announcing the arrest of the commanders of the vanquished Fatah-controlled security services, Hamas officials called them 'collaborators,' a label indicating they work on behalf of Israel and can often mean a death sentence in the Palestinian territories.

But a few hours later, as Gaza residents emerged from their homes to walk in streets quiet for the first time in days, Hamas officials said the commanders, including the head of the Fatah-controlled Pre"

Gaza Is Calm After Hamas Gains Control - New York Times

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Gaza Is Calm After Hamas Gains Control - New York Times: "June 15, 2007
Gaza Is Calm After Hamas Gains Control

JERUSALEM -- Gaza was quiet Friday after five days of fighting in which Hamas completed its conquest of the Gaza Strip from its Fatah rivals.

The West Bank and Gaza territories that President Bush said he wanted to see become an independent Palestinian state before he left office appeared torn asunder.

Hamas said it arrested 10 senior Fatah leaders in the strip, including the commanders of President Mahmoud Abbas’s elite guard unit and the chief of the National Security force. But a Hamas spokesman, Abu Obeideh, said all Fatah prisoners would be released unharmed.

Though he and other Hamas leaders claimed their men were under control, there were instances of post-revolutionary looting of prominent Fatah symbols, including the luxurious house of Muhammad Dahlan, the former Fatah security chief in Gaza, now in Ramallah. Masked men of the Hamas military wing stripped the house of everything down to the bathroom tiles, and they were followed by the poor, salvaging wood and metal.

The victors also said they would take control of Gaza’s crossing with Egypt.

The crossing, which has been closed since the outbreak of fighting this week, is monitored by European ob"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hamas takes upper hand in Gaza struggle | Israel and the Middle East | Guardian Unlimited

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Hamas takes upper hand in Gaza struggle | Israel and the Middle East | Guardian Unlimited: "Alvaro de Soto, the just-retired UN coordinator for the Middle East, has warned that international hostility to Hamas could have grave consequences by persuading millions of Muslims that democratic methods do not work.

In a confidential report published in the Guardian today, Mr de Soto criticised the international boycott imposed after Hamas won elections, which he argues contributed to the current crisis.

'The steps taken by the international community with the presumed purpose of bringing about a Palestinian entity that will live in peace with its neighbour, Israel have had precisely the opposite effect,' he wrote.

The US and Israel had both erred in seeing Hamas as a passing phenomenon, the envoy argued. 'Erroneous treatment of Hamas could have repercussions far beyond the Palestinian territories because of its links to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose millions of supporters... might conclude that peaceful and democratic means are not the way to go,' he wrote."

Hamas Gains Ground in Gaza Fighting - New York Times

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Hamas Gains Ground in Gaza Fighting - New York Times: "Hamas Gains Ground in Gaza Fighting

Hamas Gains Ground in Gaza Fighting

JERUSALEM, June 13 — Hamas forces consolidated their control over much of Gaza today, seizing the main north-south road and blowing up a key Fatah headquarters in the southern city of Khan Yunis.

In northern Gaza and Gaza City, Hamas military men, many of them in black masks, moved freely through the streets unchallenged. Hamas controlled Gaza City except for the presidential compound of Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and the Al Suraya headquarters of the National Security Forces, the Palestinian army.

Hamas took over a tall apartment building where many Fatah leaders lived, the Al Awdah building, causing another Fatah leader, Maher Miqdad, to flee with his family, after at least eight Fatah men were killed. Hamas also took over and burned the main police station in Gaza City, another symbol of Fatah power.

In northern Gaza, Hamas gave those at the isolated Fatah military headquarters until Friday evening at 7 P.M. to surrender their weapons.

In Khan Yunis, Hamas detonated a large bomb in a tunnel dug underneath the Preventive Security headquarters, killing at least one of those inside and wounding eight more.

A Hamas spokesman said that Hamas is trying to defend itself from a group within Fatah collaborating with Israel and the United States.

Sami Abu Zuhri of Hamas said in an interview that “there is no political goal behind this but to defend our movement and force these security groups to behave.” When the fighting dies down, he said, “We have no interest in staying. The government will supervise the whole thing according to the law.”

He insisted that “Hamas did not initiate these attacks, but it was pushed to do so to end crimes by the factions inside Fatah who favor a coup.” He said that Hamas “is doing the work that Fatah failed to do, to control these groups,” whom he accused of crimes, chaos and collaboration with Israel and the United States.

“The faction inside Fatah refuses to recognize the results of the elections and is working with the United States and Israel, according to the Dayton plan, and they are given money and weapons to achieve it,” he said, referring to U.S. Security Coordinator Lt. Gen. Keith W. Dayton, who is organizing the training and supplying of Mr. Abbas’s Presidential Guard.

Instead, Mr. Zuhri insisted, the United States should “sit with the movement at the dialogue table on the basis of mutual respect, respecting the elections” of January 2006, which brought Hamas a legislative majority.

Fatah’s Mr. Miqdad sounded depressed on the telephone, and he accused Hamas of following an Israeli script. “This is an Israeli plan,” he said. “They want to connect the West Bank to Jordan and make Gaza a separate jail. This will be the end of an independent Palestinian state.”

He said that Hamas “is committing a coup against legitimacy,” and he said Fatah “should consider pulling out of the government entirely.”

Hundreds of members of the Fatah-allied Bakar clan, who have engaged in fierce battles with Hamas in recent months near the Beach Camp in Gaza City, surrendered to Hamas, witnesses said.

Many demoralized police and security officials loyal to Fatah simply surrendered their positions, witnesses said. One Hamas military man exulted that the police station in the old Israeli settlement of Netzarim surrendered without a fight at 4 a.m.

Abdullah al-Aqad, 28, of Khan Yunis, said he joined the national security forces to have a job. “Hamas is very strong there, stronger than Fatah so far,” he said. “I am not willing to go and raise my gun to kill a Palestinian.”

He marveled at the speed of the Hamas advance. “We are 70,000 PA soldiers, and where are they all?” he asked. “And facing 10,000 Hamas soldiers.”

His cousin, Abdel-Rahman al-Aqad, 29, said: “No religion, no law can justify what is happening. Where is Abu Mazen and Haniya?” he asked, referring to Mr. Abbas and the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya. “All they’re good at is speeches. I have no hope anymore. These are not Palestinians. A Palestinian does not kill his brother.”

Some 40 men of Fatah’s Preventative Security forces fled the southern city of Rafah into Egypt, where they are in custody.

Mr. Abbas, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, spoke to exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal to try to ease the crisis. “This is madness, the madness that is going on in Gaza now,” Mr. Abbas told reporters.

At least 13 Palestinians were killed today and another 64 injured, according to Moaweya Hassanein of the Palestinian Health Ministry. He said that 59 have died since Monday.

The dead included two workers with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which helps the 70 percent of Gazans who are refugees or their descendants. The organization announced that it was curtailing its operations until the fighting stopped.

In Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned of “regional consequences” if Gaza fell under the complete control of Hamas. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that Hamas control of Gaza would limit Israel’s ability to negotiate with Mr. Abbas, as Washington wants.

Some Israeli security officials say privately that Israel wants to see the West Bank isolated from Gaza, even more so with Hamas in control there. One official suggested that Hamas’s show of strength in Gaza will make it more likely that the Israeli military intervenes there to curb Hamas’s military power, which they say is similar to that of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, said that Israel did not see “the implosion of the Palestinian Authority in anyone’s interest.” But in Gaza, he said, “the clear strength that Hamas is demonstrating on the ground is a problem for us, and a challenge. It’s a problem for the Palestinians, too,” he said. “Our whole policy is to work with moderate pragmatic Palestinians who believe in peace, and Hamas hegemony in Gaza is not good for Israel, for the Palestinians or for peace.”

Asked whether the Hamas gains showed the failure of the American and Israeli effort to isolate and damage Hamas and boost Fatah with recognition and weaponry, Mr. Regev said: “I don’t think Israel or the international community should give up on Palestinian moderates. That would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Though things don’t look good in Gaza, we should have patience. Controlling the guns in Gaza doesn’t mean controlling the minds.”

While Fatah blamed Hamas for the crisis, Israeli analyst of Palestinian affairs Danny Rubinstein of Haaretz said that the “primary reason for the breakup is the fact that Fatah has refused to fully share the PA’s mechanism of power with its rival Hamas, despite Hamas’s decisive victory in the January 2006 general elections.” Fatah “was forced to overrule Palestinian voters because the entire world demanded it do so,” Mr. Rubinstein added. “Matters have come to the point where Hamas attempted to take by force what they believe they rightfully deserve.”

While rocket fire from Gaza into Israel has been sharply reduced and Israel has held off aerial attacks for the last few days, Israel lifted a gag order today about the arrest May 20 of two Palestinian women who sought to enter Israel to be suicide bombers on behalf of Islamic Jihad in Tel Aviv and Netanya.

The two women, one of them pregnant, had received Israeli permission to travel to Ramallah for medical tests. The Israelis say that the two women were to meet Islamic Jihad in Ramallah to get explosive belts.

Fatima Yunes Hassan Zak, 39, a resident of Gaza, mother of eight children and pregnant with her ninth, had been responsible for an Islamic Jihad Gaza women’s labor office for four years. Her niece, Ruda Ibrahim Yunes Habib, 30, a mother of four children, sought her assistance in carrying out a suicide attack inside Israel.

Both women were arrested as they tried to leave Gaza and they remain in Israeli custody.

Taghreed El-Khodary contributed reporting from Gaza City and Khan Yunis.

Hamas Gains Ground in Gaza Fighting - New York Times

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Hamas Gains Ground in Gaza Fighting - New York Times: "June 13, 2007
Hamas Gains Ground in Gaza Fighting

JERUSALEM, June 13 — Gunmen from the Hamas party further consolidated their control of northern Gaza today, seizing additional security buildings and a key north-south road, and killing fighters from the rival Fatah party.

Fatah held on to parts of Gaza, but was increasingly outgunned and hemmed in by Hamas, which ordered the Fatah fighters in the north to lay down their arms by 7 p.m. Friday, local time. There was no immediate response from Fatah.

Hamas, which follows an Islamist ideology, killed at least nine Fatah fighters in gun battles and 13 more in a grenade and mortar attack on a security building in the town of Khan Yunis, Reuters reported.

“What is happening in Gaza is madness,” the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who is the leader of Fatah. told reporters on the West Bank today.

Fatah said it was suspending its participation in the joint “unity” government until the fighting with Hamas ends.

The United Nations said that it would scale back its operations in Gaza after two Palestinians who worked for a U.N. agency were killed in the fighting there, The Associated Press reported. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency"

sheikh imam rare concert video (الشيخ إمام)

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Egyptian Voters Impeded In Opposition Strongholds -

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Egyptian Voters Impeded In Opposition Strongholds - "Egyptian Voters Impeded In Opposition Strongholds

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, June 12, 2007; A18

AWSEEM, Egypt -- Egyptian security forces barred voters from entering polling centers in opposition areas Monday during the first national elections since the U.S.-backed government of President Hosni Mubarak pushed through constitutional changes that analysts say were intended to keep the Muslim Brotherhood from power.

In Awseem, a dusty town north of Cairo that is a Brotherhood stronghold, security officers lined up behind chest-high plastic riot shields to block all entrances to a locked polling place. Officers clenching automatic rifles alongside a row of police wagons effectively sealed off another voting site.

Residents in other towns around Egypt on Monday complained of police turning them from the polls and occasionally beating them. One person was killed in election-related violence, the Associated Press reported.

In areas loyal to Mubarak's National Democratic Party, voters surged into polling sites. In Bortos, also north of Cairo, a girl of 15 said she cast a ballot for the NDP, and children who appeared much younger than the voting age of 18 waved fingers stained with the pink ink used to mark ballots and boasted that they had voted.


US signals permanent stay in Iraq |

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US signals permanent stay in Iraq | "US signals permanent stay in Iraq
Critics say a long-term US military presence may provoke greater Iraqi resistance of the 'occupier.'
By Howard LaFranchi | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor


This spring's debate over a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq may have implied that the US presence there is likely to wind down soon, but recent comments from both the administration and military officials suggest a different scenario.

In Washington and among American military officers in Iraq, the idea of establishing permanent US bases there is under discussion – with one official citing as an example the decades-long presence of US troops in Korea. The aim would be to keep American soldiers on Iraqi soil well into the century as a support for the Iraqi government against outside aggression, a means of training and developing a new Iraqi military, and a platform from which the US could fight Al Qaeda and other war-on-terror opponents.

Yet as early proposals in notebooks at the White House and the Pentagon are slowly revealed to a US public increasingly opposed to the Iraq war, many Iraq and Middle East experts warn that any plan for permanent bases would cement the US image in Iraq and the region as that of an occupying force.

'This is a really bad idea, one that will only feed the image"

Monday, June 11, 2007

Print Story: Iran slams US as it welcomes Nicaragua's Ortega on Yahoo! News

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Print Story: Iran slams US as it welcomes Nicaragua's Ortega on Yahoo! News: "Iran slams US as it welcomes Nicaragua's Ortega

by Hiedeh FarmaniSun Jun 10, 1:39 PM ET

Iran's leaders on Sunday held talks with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, emphasising a shared distrust of the United States as Tehran seeks to bolster ties with US critics in Latin America.

Ortega, a Cold War foe of the United States, was welcomed personally at Tehran's Mehrabad airport by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an unusual step indicating the increasingly warm ties between the two nations.

Ahmadinejad visited Managua in January shortly before Ortega's swearing-in as president, and the two leaders announced the restoration of full diplomatic relations and the reopening of embassies in their respective capitals.

'We will work together to put in place a world order based on peace and justice,' Ahmadinejad told reporters at the airport, reprising one of his favourite themes.

'The two peoples have great capacities to put at each other's disposal on the way to independence and freedom,' he added, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Ortega is the former Marxist leader of the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front that ousted US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979 and battled US-financed Contra rebels throughout the 1980s."

I blame myself for our downfall in Iraq | International News | News | Telegraph

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I blame myself for our downfall in Iraq | International News | News | Telegraph: "I blame myself for our downfall in Iraq

By Tim Shipman in Washington, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:56am BST 10/06/2007

I blame myself for our downfall in Iraq, says US torturer
Confession: Tony Lagouranis, conducted mock executions

A former American army torturer has laid bare the traumatic effects of American interrogation techniques in Iraq - on their victims and on the perpetrators themselves.

Tony Lagouranis conducted mock executions, forced men and boys into agonising stress positions, kept suspects awake for weeks on end, used dogs to terrify detainees and subjected others to hypothermia.

But he confesses that he was deeply scarred by the realisation that what he did has contributed to the downfall of American forces in Iraq.

Mr Lagouranis, 37, suffered nightmares and anxiety attacks on his return to Chicago, where he works as a bouncer.

Between January 2004 and January 2005, first at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison - by then cleaning up its act as the prisoner abuse scandal was breaking - and then in Mosul, north Babil, he tortured suspects, most of whom he says turned out to be innocent. He says that he realised he had entered a moral dungeon when he found himself reading a Holocaust memoir, hoping to p"

Tribal Coalition in Anbar Said to Be Crumbling -

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Tribal Coalition in Anbar Said to Be Crumbling - "Tribal Coalition in Anbar Said to Be Crumbling
U.S.-Backed Group Has Fought Al-Qaeda in Iraq

By Joshua Partlow and John Ward Anderson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, June 11, 2007; A11

BAGHDAD, June 10 -- A tribal coalition formed to oppose the extremist group al-Qaeda in Iraq, a development that U.S. officials say has reduced violence in Iraq's troubled Anbar province, is beginning to splinter, according to an Anbar tribal leader and a U.S. military official familiar with tribal politics.

In an interview in his Baghdad office, Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, 35, a leader of the Dulaim confederation, the largest tribal organization in Anbar, said that the Anbar Salvation Council would be dissolved because of growing internal dissatisfaction over its cooperation with U.S. soldiers and the behavior of the council's most prominent member, Abdul Sattar Abu Risha. Suleiman called Abu Risha a 'traitor' who 'sells his beliefs, his religion and his people for money.'

Abu Risha, who enjoys the support of U.S. military commanders, denied the allegations and said the council is not at risk of breaking apart. 'There is no such thing going on,' he said in a telephone interview from Jordan.

Lt. Col. Richard D. Welch, a U.S. military official who works closely with"

U.S. Arming Sunnis in Iraq to Battle Old Qaeda Allies - New York Times

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U.S. Arming Sunnis in Iraq to Battle Old Qaeda Allies - New York Times: "U.S. Arming Sunnis in Iraq to Battle Old Qaeda Allies

BAGHDAD, June 10 — With the four-month-old increase in American troops showing only modest success in curbing insurgent attacks, American commanders are turning to another strategy that they acknowledge is fraught with risk: arming Sunni Arab groups that have promised to fight militants linked with Al Qaeda who have been their allies in the past.

American commanders say they have successfully tested the strategy in Anbar Province west of Baghdad and have held talks with Sunni groups in at least four areas of central and north-central Iraq where the insurgency has been strong. In some cases, the American commanders say, the Sunni groups are suspected of involvement in past attacks on American troops or of having links to such groups. Some of these groups, they say, have been provided, usually through Iraqi military units allied with the Americans, with arms, ammunition, cash, fuel and supplies.

American officers who have engaged in what they call outreach to the Sunni groups say many of them have had past links to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia but grew disillusioned with the Islamic militants’ extremist tactics, parti"

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lawyers slam US for sending Guantanamo prisoners to Albania

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Lawyers slam US for sending Guantanamo prisoners to Albania: "

Lawyers slam US for sending Guantanamo prisoners to Albania
WASHINGTON (AFP) - A group of lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees on Friday criticised a US decision to transfer a group of former inmates to Albania.

Timed to coincide with President George W Bush's visit to Tirana on Sunday, the statement by the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said at least 30 prisoners held at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are designated as ready for release.

But the prisoners cannot be repatriated, the CCR said, because they could face abusive treatment in their home countries.

The centre referred to the case of 15 prisoners from the Uighurs Muslim minority in western China, who had sought refuge in Afghanistan and were detained in Pakistan shortly after the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan.

At present, only Albania, has accepted some detainees - five Uighurs, one Algerian, an Uzbekh and an Egyptian - released from Guantanamo, the CCR said."

New French Political Cry: Liberté, Egalité, Diversité -

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New French Political Cry: Liberté, Egalité, Diversité - "New French Political Cry: Liberté, Egalité, Diversité
Minorities Run for Parliament in Record Numbers

By Molly Moore
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, June 10, 2007; A18

LYON, France -- When Najat Vallaud Belkacem, a Moroccan Muslim immigrant, applied to France's most prestigious political science university, she recalled, her high school teachers told her she'd never be accepted: She wasn't rich, she wasn't from Paris -- she wasn't even from France.

Vallaud Belkacem graduated high in her class at Paris's Institute of Political Sciences and today, at age 29, is a member of the most diverse group of candidates ever to seek national public office in France. More Arabs, Africans, Muslims, blacks and women are running for the National Assembly in Sunday's elections than in any campaign in French history.

'If we want to be heard, we have to engage,' said Vallaud Belkacem, a Socialist Party candidate in this southeastern French city. 'When politicians don't look like the people they represent, they can't understand the problems of the people they are supposed to represent.'

Propelled by weeks of street violence in immigrant-dominated neighborhoods in 2005 and emboldened by record numbers of new voters from minority populations,"

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

الأخبار - عربي - 700 ألف فلسطيني في الأسر الإسرائ

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الأخبار - عربي - 700 ألف فلسطيني في الأسر الإسرائ: "ألف فلسطيني في الأسر الإسرائيلي منذ 67
مجموعة من الأمهات الفلسطينيات يتظاهرن للإفراج عن أبنائهن (الجزيرة نت)

أحمد فياض-غزة
ألف فلسطيني في الأسر الإسرائيلي منذ 67

مجموعة من الأمهات الفلسطينيات يتظاهرن للإفراج عن أبنائهن (الجزيرة نت)

أحمد فياض-غزة
أكد تقرير رسمي صادر عن دائرة الإحصاء في وزارة الأسرى الفلسطينية أن قوات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي اعتقلت أكثر من سبعمائة ألف مواطن فلسطيني منذ هزيمة الخامس من يونيو/حزيران 1967.
وأشارت الوزارة في تقريرها الذي أعدته بمناسبة الذكرى الأربعين للهزيمة، إلى أن الاعتقالات الإسرائيلية بحق أبناء الشعب الفلسطيني لم تتوقف منذ ذلك الوقت ولم تقتصر على فئة أو شريحة محددة، بل طالت كل ما هو فلسطيني بدءاً من الطفل والشاب والفتاة ومروراً بالمرأة الحامل والطبيب والمحامي والعامل والطالب والنائب والوزير وصولاً للشيخ العجوز.
وأفاد التقرير أن قوات الاحتلال اعتقلت منذ تلك الهزيمة قرابة 700 ألف مواطن بالإضافة لآلاف المواطنين العرب، وأن نسبة الاعتقالات انخفضت بشكل ملحوظ بعد قدوم السلطة الوطنية عام 1994 وحتى اندلاع انتفاضة الأقصى وإعادة انتشار الجيش الإسرائيلي في بعض المناطق الفلسطينية. ولكنها عادت وارتفعت بشكل كبير خلال الانتفاضة حيث سُجل خلالها اعتقال 60 ألف مواطن.
وأشارت الوزارة الفلسطينية إلى أن سجون الاحتلال تضم بين جنباتها 10.5 آلاف أسير منهم 310 طفلاً و116 أسيرة وبينهم 65 أسيراً أمضوا أكثر من عشرين عاماً ولا زالوا في الأسر، وأقدمهم الأسير سعيد العتبة المعتقل منذ ثلاثين عاماً.
لا تحسن
توضيح لعمليات التعذيب أشرفت على تجسيدها جمعية فلسطينية تعنى بالأسرى (الجزيرة نت)
ولفت التقرير إلى أنه خلال العقود الأربعة الماضية لم يطرأ أي تحسن جوهري على طبيعة السجون وظروفها أو طبيعة معاملة السجانين للسجناء والمعتقلين الفلسطينيين، وفق ما تنص عليه كافة المواثيق الدولية وخاصة اتفاقية جنيف الرابعة الخاصة بمعاملة الأسرى أو تلك الخاصة بمعاملة الأشخاص المدنيين وقت الحرب.
وأوضح أن الشعب الفلسطيني ومؤسساته فشلا في امتلاك سجلٍ كاملٍ لمجمل أو معظم حالات الاعتقال أو سجلٍ دقيقٍ لشهداء الحركة الوطنية الأسيرة، أو اعتماد خطة إستراتيجية تعتمد على العمل التراكمي التكاملي لتوثيق تاريخ الحركة الأسيرة.
وأعرب التقرير عن استيائه من ضعف التحرك التضامني والمساند الذي لم يكن بمستوى الأحداث والاعتداءات التي تعرض لها الأسرى داخل السجون الإسرائيلية، باستثناء أهالي الأسرى وبعض النشطاء الذين يواصلون فعالياتهم واعتصاماتهم الأسبوعية أمام بعض مقرات الصليب الأحمر في الضفة الغربية وقطاع غزة.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

BBC on "extraordinary rendition"

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Monday, June 4, 2007

الأخبار - عربي - الطالباني والبارزاني يتهمان مخابرات أجنبية بمعاداة شعب العراق

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الأخبار - عربي - الطالباني والبارزاني يتهمان مخابرات أجنبية بمعاداة شعب العراق: "الطالباني والبارزاني يتهمان مخابرات أجنبية بمعاداة شعب العراق
الطالباني والبارزاني اتهما مخابرات أجنبية بمحاولة إجهاض المكتسباته الدستورية (الجزيرة نت)

أربيل-شمال عقراوي

قال الرئيس العراقي جلال الطالباني في مؤتمر صحفي مشترك مع رئيس إقليم كردستان مسعود البا�"
الطالباني والبارزاني يتهمان مخابرات أجنبية بمعاداة شعب العراق
الطالباني والبارزاني اتهما مخابرات أجنبية بمحاولة إجهاض المكتسباته الدستورية (الجزيرة نت)

أربيل-شمال عقراوي

قال الرئيس العراقي جلال الطالباني في مؤتمر صحفي مشترك مع رئيس إقليم كردستان مسعود البارزاني إن السلطات العراقية ستعمل بشكل جدي في موضوع المصالحة الوطنية لإنجازه, ولكن بعد الانتهاء من حسم بعض الخلافات في قانون النفط وقانون اجتثاث البعث.

واتهم الطالباني والبارزاني إثر اجتماعهما في مدينة السليمانية شمالي العراق، مخابرات أجنبية بتنظيم اجتماع لفصائل سياسية عراقية في العاصمة المصرية قبل فترة أفضى إلى تأسيس جبهة جديدة. وقال الطالباني للصحفيين إن الجبهة السياسية الجديدة تأسست بهدف الوقوف ضد حكومة نوري المالكي.

وجاء في بيان أصدره حزبا الطالباني والبارزاني "بمزيد من الأسف والاستغراب اطلعنا على بيان تأسيس جبهة سياسية جديدة تضم، إضافة إلى أحزاب الوفاق الوطني والحزب الإسلامي العراقي، مجموعة من العنصريين المعادين لحقوق شعب العراق ومن خونة الشعب الكردي من أيتام صدام حسين".

وأضاف البيان أن تأسيس الجبهة الجديدة الذي تم برعاية مخابرات الدول الأجنبية، يشكل عقبة أمام ما سماها المسيرة الديمقراطية للشعب العراقي و"محاولة لإجهاض المكتسبات الدستورية".

وكان الاجتماع عقد في يوم ميلاد الرئيس الراحل صدام حسين يوم 28 أبريل/نيسان وشاركت فيه إضافة إلى مصر، كل من تركيا والكويت والإمارات والأردن والسعودية.

وأضاف الطالباني للصحفيين أن "اجتماع القاهرة غير دستوري لأن كلا من رئيس الجمهورية ورئيس الوزراء لا يعلمون عنه شيئا".

وتضم الجبهة السياسية الجديدة جبهة الحوار برئاسة صالح المطلك والحزب الإسلامي الكردستاني وشخصيات عشائرية كردية معروفة بولائها للرئيس العراقي الراحل. واتهم بيان الحزبين الكرديين المجموعات المشاركة في الجبهة الجديدة بالإخلال بسيادة ووحدة العراق والتعاون مع أجهزة مخابرات الدول الأجنبية.

ودعا بيان حزبي الطالباني والبرزاني كلا من أحزاب الوفاق الوطني الذي يتزعمه أياد علاوي والحزب الإسلامي العراقي بزعامة طارق الهاشمي والحزب الإسلامي الكردستاني، إلى الانسحاب من الجبهة الجديدة والعودة إلى "صف التحالف الوطني الموسع".

واختتم البيان مخاطبا الأحزاب الثلاثة "استمراركم في الجبهة يعني إحدث انشقاق خطير في الصف الوطني العراقي وتثبيت الطائفية وتحقيق رغبات العنصريين المعادين للأكراد".

In fight against militants, Lebanon bolstered by US, Gulf countries |

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In fight against militants, Lebanon bolstered by US, Gulf countries | "rom the June 04, 2007 edition - rom the June 04, 2007 edition - NAHR AL-BARED CAMP, north Lebanon

Ill-equipped, overstretched, and largely untested, the Lebanese Army faces a formidable challenge as it presses ahead with an air, sea, and land assault against a band of several hundred militants besieged in this Palestinian refugee camp.

Amid the worst internal violence since Lebanon's 16-year civil war ended in 1990, the Lebanese Army on Friday launched a major offensive against the militants to crush them once and for all.

But the troops face an enemy whose leaders have sworn to fight to the death. The battle represents the first big test for the Lebanese Army since Syria withdrew its forces from Lebanon two years ago.

"The Lebanese Army was accused of doing nothing during last summer's war [between Hizbullah and Israel], and they can't afford to be accused of the same thing again. I think that's very much at the back of their mind," says Timur Goksel, a Beirut-based consultant on Middle East security affairs who was a longtime United Nations peacekeeper in south Lebanon.

Military diplomats in Beirut say the special forces are highly motivated and take training seriously. But unlike many of the militants, who have fought American troops in Iraq, the Lebanese have had little combat experience.

To help the Lebanese government crush the militants, the US – which has increased its military aid to Lebanon sevenfold in the last year – and some Gulf countries last week flew in planeloads of equipment, thought to include additional ammunition, night-vision goggles, and antitank missiles.

Prime minister calls for surrender

The fighting began two weeks ago when Fatah al-Islam militants attacked and overran Army positions surrounding the Nahr al-Bared camp. At least 10 soldiers were killed, some of them decapitated.

Troop reinforcements were rushed to the camp and the Army positions were quickly retaken. An intermittent cease-fire in the following days allowed two-thirds of the camp's population of around 40,000 to flee. UN workers responsible for the Palestinians' welfare estimate that some 5,000 to 8,000 refugees remain.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora warned the militants to surrender or be killed, calling them a "terrorist gang." He said that any militant who surrenders would receive a fair trial.

But Abu Hurreira, a Lebanese and spokesman for Fatah al-Islam, told the Associated Press that they would fight to the death. "Let them come; we are ready," he said by phone from inside the camp, a small coastal area of densely packed three- or four-story buildings separated by narrow alleyways.

The special forces troops inching into the camp, driving the militants back into their stronghold, face an unusual array of deadly booby traps, including roadside bombs, car bombs, bottles of propane gas rigged together, and even donkeys and dogs fitted with explosives and sent toward Army lines. Seven soldiers were killed on the first two days of the offensive. The number of casualties among Fatah al-Islam and civilians inside the camp is unknown.

"Fighting in built-up areas is an art form and the Lebanese Army has no real experience [in] it," says a Western Army officer working with a UN agency in Beirut.

But Nizar Abdel-Kader, a retired general in the Lebanese Army and military analyst, says that the Lebanese special forces are among the best-trained troops in the Middle East and are capable of fighting even in the cramped confines of the camp.

He adds, however, that it will not be a quick job. "You only need to look at the configuration of the camp – with its alleys and connected houses – to see how difficult the mission is," he says. "They need to take their time, move slowly and smoothly to save lives."

US military aid spikes sevenfold

The US is spearheading an international effort to upgrade and modernize the Lebanese Army. Last year, Washington allocated Lebanon $40 million in military aid, and this year the figure has soared to $280 million.

Although the Lebanese Army has a large amount of equipment for a small Army of some 45,000 (augmented in the past year by 15,000 reservists), most of it is obsolete or unusable. Furthermore, the Army's manpower is stretched to the limit with 20,000 troops deployed along the Lebanese-Israeli border after last summer's war, another 8,000 policing the porous border with Syria and thousands more maintaining security in Beirut.

The Lebanese Air Force has no operational fixed-wing aircraft and relies instead on Vietnam war-era UH-1 transport helicopters and several Gazelle attack helicopters recently donated from surplus stock in the United Arab Emirates' military. The French-built Gazelle helicopters were used to attack Fatah al-Islam positions on Saturday in the first air operations by the Lebanese military since 1983.

The Army's tanks date from the 1950s and are vulnerable to the rocket-propelled grenades fired by Fatah al-Islam militants. Most of the tanks at Nahr al-Bared are dug in behind earthen embankments and used as stationary artillery guns to pound positions held by the militants.

Although some equipment from international donors has been promised, including German-made Leopard tanks from Belgium, the most pressing need, analysts say, is for logistical and communications equipment.

"They don't even have proper radios. The officers are running this war by communicating with cellphones," Mr Goksel says.

Lebanese soldiers determined

Still, the spirit to fight appears strong. Soldiers manning frontline positions say they are determined to finish off Fatah al-Islam.

"We will kill them if they don't surrender. The fighting will be difficult, but we will win, be assured of that," says a special-forces captain.

The camp echoed Sunday with the near-constant rattle of heavy machine guns and rifles, punctuated every few seconds by thunderous blasts from exploding tank rounds. The plain concrete four-story buildings at the edge of the camp were pitted with holes from tanks shells and spattered by hundreds of bullet holes. Tiny flashes of light peppered walls of buildings marking the impact of explosive-tipped machine gun rounds fired by Lebanese troops. Thick coils of black smoke from burning buildings rose into the air. Some buildings were so badly damaged, they seemed to defy gravity by still standing. Tiny beads of orange light from rocket-propelled grenades floated lazily across the smoking rooftops before exploding in a dirty gray cloud of dust and smoke. One half-built five-story building was struck repeatedly with tank shells within a few seconds and collapsed in a huge cloud of dust and a deafening roar.

The attacking troops appeared to be slicing pockets of territory one at a time, forcing the Fatah al-Islam militants to retreat into the heart of the camp where the buildings are jammed against each other so tightly that sunlight rarely penetrates the tiny passageways in between.

But it promises to be an even tougher battle than the Army initially believed.

"We thought this might take two or three days, but I think it's going to be more like a week," says an Army officer in the Lebanese ministry of defense.
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