Rene -- Iraq War: Report Calls on UN to End "Complicity of Silence"
Iraq War: Report Calls on UN to End "Complicity of Silence"
Date: Sat, 16 Jun 2007 16:13:40 +0500 (AMST)
IRAQ WAR: REPORT CALLS ON UN TO END "COMPLICITY OF SILENCE"
by Mithre J. Sandrasagra
Inter Press Service
Published on Thursday, June 14, 2007
UNITED NATIONS - The U.S. Coalition is the principal cause of Iraq's
current woes, charges a report released Wednesday by the Global Policy
Forum (GPF), a New York-based watchdog group.
Since the March 2003 invasion, the U.S.-British occupation of Iraq has
"utterly failed to bring peace, prosperity and democracy, as originally
advertised," says the report, entitled "War and Occupation in Iraq".
"The United Nations and the international community must end the
complicity of silence and they must vigorously address the Iraq
crisis," it says.
Produced by GPF and 29 international non-governmental organisations
(NGOs), the report was released to coincide with U.N. Security
Council consultations on the Iraq problem. The 117-page report
assesses conditions in the country, especially the responsibility
of the U.S.-led Coalition, for violations of international law
and concludes with recommendations for action, including a speedy
withdrawal of Coalition forces.
It covers areas such as destruction of cultural heritage, unlawful
detention, killing and torture of civilians, displacement, corruption
and fraud, attacks on cities and long-term military bases.
"This is ongoing, is not under control, and is something the Coalition
is saying it is doing under mandate of the U.N. Security Council,"
James Paul, GPF's executive director, told reporters Wednesday.
"It's time for a new approach," Paul stressed. "The Security Council
has done virtually nothing on this subject; [it] has to take its head
out of the sand."
GPF has shared the report with all the members of the Council.
"Many members took interest in the report," Celine Nahory, GPF's
Security Council programme coordinator, told IPS.
Avi -- Amira Hass -- In praise of the occupation
Palestine / Israel
In praise of the occupation
By Amira Hass
The occupations brought about by the 1967 war accomplished one great thing: They reunited the majority of the Palestinian people within the boundaries of their homeland. For the first time in 19 years it was once again possible for Palestinians to live and experience together, as a group, the expanse between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
Up until the start of the 1990s this was a basic experience that was taken for granted, and it played a part in empowering and reconstructing the Palestinian people after the catastrophe and the disintegration that was brought upon it by the establishment of the State of Israel. Only today, as this expanse is being butchered into dozens of separated and distanced enclaves in a process that is causing Palestinian society to crumble, is it possible to understand the importance of space during about a quarter of a century. In 1967 Israel learned from the "mistake" it made in 1948. It took care not to grant citizenship to the inhabitants of the occupied territories, not even the inhabitants of the 70 square kilometers it annexed to Jerusalem. But it made a new "mistake": It opened one expanse to both Jews and Palestinians. Of course the Jews had the hegemonic privilege to settle in the entire expanse, to take over Palestinian lands and precious water sources to build expansive settlements for themselves. This right is denied not only to the Palestinians in Hebron or to the Jaffa refugees, now living in the Jabalya refugee camp, but also to the inhabitants of Nazareth and Sakhnin, who are Israeli citizens.
But the right to movement within the expanse and the basic rights that derive from it - the right to earn a living, to study and to develop cultural ties - opened up possibilities of development and progress for people, both as individuals and as a national community. The experience of the expanse compensated for the many vacuums that the Israeli policy of discrimination had created.
Anjalisa -- 2 more texts from Anjali related to Ousmane
2 more texts from Anjali related to Ousmane
1. Ousmane Sembčne, major figure in African cinema, dead at
2. OUSMANE SEMBENE: THE LIFE OF A REVOLUTIONARY ARTIST
by Samba Gadjigo
It is with deep sadness that I announce the passing of Africa's greatest
film makers Ousmane Sembene who died on Sunday.
I was lucky enough to have met him not long ago when he was here
showing Moolaade, his sensitive and deeply symbolic film on female
genital mutilation in Senegal. Due to the hospitality of his hosts here
in London and their kind invitation to us, Kodwo and I were able to
spend time with him and were able to see the great man up close and hear
some of his stories and learn more about his life.... and what a life it
was ....one that moved through and in between so many epsisodes and
political histories . It was an honour and a joy to meet him and I
wonder sometimes what the world will look like when all these kind
gentle, generous and wise people have left us. There are people like
Sembene who always remind me of what is important... sometimes one needs
cinema to see things differently and he did that so well and gave birth
to some of greatest films of the century. For those who haven't seen his
work I urge you to do so .....
In sadness and with condolences to all his friends and family
Ousmane Sembčne, major figure in African cinema, dead at
Anjalisa -- Ousmane Sembčne
Ousmane Sembčne, the Senegalese-born 'father of African cinema', talked to Bonnie Greer about film-making in Africa, his European experiences and why Live 8 is fake, before receiving the fellowship of the BFI. Here's a full transcript
Sunday June 5, 2005
'I think big campaigns such as Make Poverty History and Live 8 are fake, and I think African heads of state who buy into that idea are liars. The only way for us to come out of poverty is to work hard' ... Ousmane Sembčne talks to Bonnie Greer at the NFT. Photograph: Sarah Lee
Bonnie Greer: Before I start, I'd like to say that I am a huge fan of this gentleman, so I am really nervous. But I am going to do my best. There will be simultaneous translation by Mr Samba Gadjigo, Mr Sembčne's biographer and himself an eminent professor of French at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Moolaadé is the second film in a trilogy, and you call it a trilogy about the heroism of daily life. Could you expand on that, please?
Ousmane Sembčne: We are talking here about the African continent, and it is a continent going through a crisis. Nobody can deny that we have a lot of wars going on; brothers killing brothers; we have a lot of diseases and catastrophes. But on the other hand, we have a majority of individuals, both men and women, who are struggling on a daily basis in a heroic way and the outcome of whose struggle leaves no doubt. This is a struggle whose purpose is not to seize power, and I think the strength of our entire society rests on that struggle. And it is because of this struggle that the entire continent is still standing up. So I've tried in my own way to sing the praises of those heroes, because I am also a witness to that daily struggle. In the traditional society which I come from, when you look at our societies, whether you're talking about the Mandinka, Bambara or Fulani, we have the tradition of the storyteller called the griot and also other kinds of storytellers. Their role was to record memories of daily actions and events. At night, people would gather around them and they would tell those stories that they had recorded. I think there are parallels between myself and these storytellers, because in that traditional society, the storyteller was his own writer, director, actor and musician. And I think his role was very important in cementing society. Now, with new technologies and the tools that we have acquired, I think we can take inspiration from them and do some work.
BG: You have said that Moolaadé is your most African film. Can you expand on that?
OS: When I made such a statement, I was referring to its narrative structure and aesthetic. But then, ultimately, it's up to my people to judge whether or not I have come close to telling their reality. What makes the difference between this film and the others I've made, is I already know what the people are saying in the rural areas. I think it is up to you, brought here in the west by the contingencies of history, it is up to you to understand and to see what is African in this film. And I think your appreciation and judgment is going to help me improve my future work. Right now, I am very, very obsessed, because right now, Moolaadé is enjoying some measure of success. So what am I going to do with my next film? Since the setting for the next film is going to be an urban area, how am I going to talk about African cities? Of course when I talk about African cities, there is no difference between a building in London or Abidjan or anywhere in the world. But what is important is to wonder, the men or the women who live in that building, what kind of life are they living? It's not enough to have all kinds of gadgets. This is what I'm working on right now.
BG: I adore the title of the latest film in the trilogy, Brotherhood of Rats. I love it because you're talking about a very important subject: it's about the cities and the complicity or not of African governments in some of the troubles afflicting African states.
Rene -- Fisk -- Lies and Outrages ... would you believe it?
Palestine / Israel
One of the reasons I like to post Fisk's articles is that they are really sometimes beyond any journalism we know, they border on subaltern histories, on opinions, on first hand accounts, and on the poetic. Language loses its thread sometimes and borders some strange malady, what else could we expect from someone who has walked in his shoes. Here is a strange and lovely bit of fragmentary writing. -RG
ROBERT FISK: LIES AND OUTRAGES... WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT?
Published: 09 June 2007
It was Israel which attacked Egypt after Nasser closed the straits
When I was a schoolboy, I loved a column which regularly appeared
in British papers called "Ripley's Believe It or Not!". In a single
rectangular box filled with naively drawn illustrations, Ripley -
Bob Ripley - would try to astonish his readers with amazing facts:
"Believe It or Not, in California, an entire museum is dedicated to
candy dispensers ... Believe It or Not, a County Kerry man possesses
an orange that is 25 years old ... Believe It or Not, a weather
researcher had his ashes scattered on the eve of Hurricane Danielle
400 miles off the coast of Miama, Florida." Etc, etc, etc.
Incredibly, Ripley's column lives on, and there is even a collection of
"Ripley Believe It or Not" museums in the United States.
The problem, of course, is that these are all extraordinary facts
which will not offend anyone. There are no suicide bombers in Ripley,
no Israeli air strikes ("Believe It or Not, 17,000 Lebanese and
Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in Israel's 1982
invasion of Lebanon"), no major casualty tolls ("Believe It or Not,
up to 650,000 Iraqis died in the four years following the 2003
Anglo-American invasion of Iraq"). See what I mean? Just a bit too
close to the bone (or bones).
But I was reminded of dear old Ripley when I was prowling through the
articles marking the anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Memoirs
there have been aplenty, but I think only the French press - in the
shape of Le Monde Diplomatique - was prepared to confront a bit of
"Believe It or Not".
Rene -- Zizek -- The Dreams of Others
The Dreams of Others
By tying the drama to a mere personal whim, The Lives of Others fails to capture the true horror of the GDR
By Slavoj Zizek
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Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others—this year’s Oscar-winning film on life under the Stasi, the East German secret police—has often been favorably compared with Ulrich Becker’s 2003 comedy Good Bye, Lenin!. The claim is that it provides the necessary corrective to Lenin’s sentimental Ostalgie (nostalgia for the East), illustrating how the Stasi terror penetrated every pore of East Germans’ private lives. But is this really the case?
Like so many other films depicting the harshness of Communist regimes, The Lives of Others misses their true horror. How so? First, what sets the film’s plot in motion is the corrupt minister of culture, who wants to get rid of the top German Democratic Republic (GDR) playwright, Georg Dreyman, so he can pursue unimpeded an affair with Dreyman’s partner, the actress Christa-Maria. In this way, the horror that was inscribed into the very structure of the East German system is relegated to a mere personal whim. What’s lost is that the system would be no less terrifying without the minister’s personal corruption, even if it were run by only dedicated and “honest” bureaucrats.
Equally troublesome is the film’s portrayal of Dreyman. He is idealized in the opposite direction—a great writer, both honest and sincerely dedicated to the Communist system, who is personally close to the top regime figures. (We learn that Margot Honnecker, the Party leader’s wife, gave him a book by Solzhenitsyn strictly prohibited to ordinary people.) One cannot but recall here a witty formula of life under a hard Communist regime: Of the three features—personal honesty, sincere support of the regime and intelligence—it was possible to combine only two, never all three. If one was honest and supportive, one was not very bright; if one was bright and supportive, one was not honest; if one was honest and bright, one was not supportive. The problem with Dreyman is that he does combine all three features.
To ask some obvious questions: If he was such an honest and powerful writer, how come he did not get into trouble with the regime much earlier? Why wasn’t he considered at least a little bit problematic by the regime, with his excesses tolerated because of his international fame, as was the case with famous GDR authors like Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Muller and Christa Wolf? The film takes place in 1984—so where was he in 1976 when the GDR regime did not allow Wolf Biermann to return from a West German tour, leading nearly all great East German writers to sign a petition protesting this measure.
Likewise, during a reception at the film’s beginning, a dissident directly and aggressively confronts the culture minister, without consequences. If such a thing was possible, as is assumed in the film, was the regime really so terrible? Finally, there is a weird twist to the story that blatantly contradicts historical fact. In all known cases of a married couple where a spouse betrayed a partner, it was always a man who became an informant—in Lives, it is the woman, Christa-Maria, who breaks down and betrays her husband.
Rene -- BITTER FRUITS OF BOYCOTT
Palestine / Israel
BITTER FRUITS OF BOYCOTT
Thursday June 14, 2007
Alvaro de Soto is not the first experienced diplomat to have entered
the Middle East a moderate and to have left it two years later angry at
the role of Israel and the US in subverting the search for peace. Nor
will he be the last. In his confidential 52-page report, published by
the Guardian this week, the former Peruvian foreign minister describes
the reality of diplomacy. Informed observers already suspected that US
pressure had "pummelled into submission" the UN's role as an impartial
negotiator, that it had made the Middle East peace process subservient
to wider policies on Iraq and Iran, and that the US had got the other
members of the Quartet negotiating team - the EU, Russia and the UN -
to impose sanctions on the government formed after painful negotiations
between Fatah and Hamas. The sanctions did not encourage the unity
government to function properly. They killed it off.
Mr de Soto does not spare Hamas either, with its "abominable" charter,
its links to Iran and its abysmal record on stopping violence
directed at Israeli civilians. What makes his report so prescient
is the full-scale civil war now raging in Gaza. Far from being a
success, the international boycott on the Hamas-led national-unity
government has proved to be a disaster. Its bitter fruits could be
seen in Khan Younis yesterday, when the Islamic militants demolished
Fatah's security headquarters and took over the town. Last night they
began a fierce assault on security bases in Gaza City after members
of the Fatah-allied Bakr clan encamped in a seaside neighbourhood
surrendered. If the fighting is not stopped soon, the whole of Gaza
could fall to Hamas.
Rene -- U.S. RELIES ON SUDAN DESPITE CONDEMNING IT
2 Articles on CIA in Sudan
U.S. RELIES ON SUDAN DESPITE CONDEMNING IT
by Greg Miller / Josh Meyer
the Los Angeles Times
June 11, 2007
WASHINGTON - Sudan has secretly worked with the CIA to spy on the
insurgency in Iraq, an example of how the U.S. has continued to
cooperate with the Sudanese regime even while condemning its suspected
role in the killing of tens of thousands of civilians in Darfur.
President Bush has denounced the killings in Sudan's western region as
genocide and has imposed sanctions on the government in Khartoum. But
some critics say the administration has soft-pedaled the sanctions
to preserve its extensive intelligence collaboration with Sudan.
The relationship underscores the complex realities of the post-Sept. 11
world, in which the United States has relied heavily on intelligence
and military cooperation from countries, including Sudan and
Uzbekistan, that are considered pariah states for their records on
"Intelligence cooperation takes place for a whole lot of reasons,"
said a U.S. intelligence official, who like others spoke on condition
of anonymity when discussing intelligence assessments. "It's not
always between people who love each other deeply."
Sudan has become increasingly valuable to the United States since
the Sept. 11 attacks because the Sunni Arab nation is a crossroads
for Islamic militants making their way to Iraq and Pakistan.
That steady flow of foreign fighters has provided cover for Sudan's
Mukhabarat intelligence service to insert spies into Iraq, officials
"If you've got jihadists traveling via Sudan to get into Iraq, there's
a pattern there in and of itself that would not raise suspicion," said
a former high-ranking CIA official familiar with Sudan's cooperation
with the agency.
"It creates an opportunity to send Sudanese into that pipeline."
As a result, Sudan's spies have often been in better position than
the CIA to gather information on Al Qaeda's presence in Iraq, as well
as the activities of other insurgent groups.
"There's not much that blond-haired, blue-eyed case officers from the
United States can do in the entire Middle East, and there's nothing
they can do in Iraq," said a second former CIA official familiar with
Sudan's cooperation. "Sudanese can go places we don't go. They're
Arabs. They can wander around."
The officials declined to say whether the Mukhabarat had sent
its intelligence officers into the country, citing concern over
the protection of sources and methods. They said that Sudan had
assembled a network of informants in Iraq providing intelligence
on the insurgency. Some may have been recruited as they traveled
The U.S.-Sudan relationship goes beyond Iraq. Sudan has helped the
United States track the turmoil in Somalia, working to cultivate
contacts with the Islamic Courts Union and other militias in an effort
to locate Al Qaeda suspects hiding there. Sudan also has provided
extensive cooperation in counter-terrorism operations, acting on
U.S. requests to detain suspects as they pass through Khartoum.
Sudan gets a number of benefits in return. Its relationship with the
CIA has given it an important back channel for communications with
the U.S. government.
Washington has also used this channel to lean on Khartoum over the
crisis in Darfur and for other issues.
And at a time when Sudan is being condemned in the international
community, its counter-terrorism work has won precious praise. The
U.S. State Department recently issued a report calling Sudan a
"strong partner in the war on terror."
Rene - In Iraq's Four-Year Looting Frenzy, The Allies Have Become The Vandals
In Iraq's Four-Year Looting Frenzy, The Allies Have Become The Vandals
British and American Collusion In The Pillaging of Iraq's Heritage Is A
Scandal That Will Outlive Any Passing Conflict
Published on Friday, June 8, 2007 by The Guardian/UK
by Simon Jenkins
Fly into the American air base of Tallil outside Nasiriya in central
Iraq and the flight path is over the great ziggurat of Ur, reputedly
the earliest city on earth. Seen from the base in the desert haze or
the sand-filled gloom of dusk, the structure is indistinguishable from
the mounds of fuel dumps, stores and hangars. Ur is safe within the
base compound. But its walls are pockmarked with wartime shrapnel and a
blockhouse is being built over an adjacent archaeological site. When
the head of Iraq's supposedly sovereign board of antiquities and
heritage, Abbas al-Hussaini, tried to inspect the site recently, the
Americans refused him access to his own most important monument.
Yesterday Hussaini reported to the British Museum on his struggles to
protect his work in a state of anarchy. It was a heart breaking
presentation. Under Saddam you were likely to be tortured and shot if
you let someone steal an antiquity; in today's Iraq you are likely to
be tortured and shot if you don't. The tragic fate of the national
museum in Baghdad in April 2003 was as if federal troops had invaded
New York city, sacked the police and told the criminal community that
the Metropolitan was at their disposal. The local tank commander was
told specifically not to protect the museum for a full two weeks after
the invasion. Even the Nazis protected the Louvre.
When I visited the museum six months later, its then director, Donny
George, proudly showed me the best he was making of a bad job. He was
about to reopen, albeit with half his most important objects stolen.
The pro-war lobby had stopped pretending that the looting was nothing
to do with the Americans, who were shamefacedly helping retrieve stolen
objects under the dynamic US colonel, Michael Bogdanos (author of a
book on the subject). The vigorous Italian cultural envoy to the
coalition, Mario Bondioli-Osio, was giving generously for restoration.
Hugo -- Kissinger -- the Lessons of Vietnam
The lessons of Vietnam
Iraq desperately needs a political solution in the short term to make the war more manageable for the next president.
By Henry A. Kissinger, HENRY A. KISSINGER was secretary of State from 1973 to 1977.
May 31, 2007
THE IRAQ WAR has reawakened memories of the Vietnam War, the most significant political experience of an entire American generation. But this has not produced clarity about its lessons.
Of course, history never repeats itself exactly. Vietnam and Iraq are different conflicts in different times, but there is an important similarity: A point was reached during the Vietnam War when the domestic debate became so bitter as to preclude rational discussion of hard choices. Administrations of both political parties perceived the survival of South Vietnam as a significant national interest. They were opposed by a protest movement that coalesced behind the conviction that the war reflected an amorality that had to be purged by confrontational methods. This impasse doomed the U.S. effort in Vietnam; it must not be repeated over Iraq.
This is why a brief recapitulation of the Indochina tragedy is necessary.
It must begin with dispelling the myth that the Nixon administration settled in 1972 for terms that had been available in 1969 and therefore prolonged the war needlessly. Whether the agreement, officially signed in January 1973, could have preserved an independent South Vietnam and avoided the carnage following the fall of Indochina will never be known. We do know that American disunity prevented such an outcome when Congress prohibited the use of military force to maintain the agreement and cut off aid after all U.S. military forces (except a few hundred advisors) had left South Vietnam. American dissociation triggered a massive North Vietnamese invasion, in blatant violation of existing agreements, to which the nations that had endorsed these agreements turned their backs.
Anjalisa -- Against the Wall -- Bil'in Call for Assistance
Palestine / Israel
AGAINST THE WALL
On the legal front the Bil'in committee against the wall and settlements and
their attorney Michael Sfard have taken every possible step to fight the
route of the wall. Now they are asking us to help generate international
pressure on the Israel politicians to change the route of the in Bil'in
before the Supreme Court decision.
The Bil'in committee has proposed a coordinated advocacy campaign with third
countries. The committee will be meeting with the representative offices in
Ramallah but would like an Israeli counterpart group representing the
Israeli friends of Bil'in to meet with the councilors and ambassadors in Tel
Aviv and Jerusalem.
Attached (and also pasted below) is the letter that will be sent to the
councils and ambassadors requesting a meeting on behalf of Israeli friends
of Bil'in. Please consider signing on as an individual or better yet as a
group/organization. Help in recruiting impressive signatories to this list
would be much appreciated. Organizations please send your name asap to
email@example.com . Individuals (and organizations) interested in adding
your name please go to: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/Bilin40/petition.html