The high one built the higd dam,
the low one built the low dam...
The high one built the higd dam,
the low one built the low dam...
LONDON: World leaders meeting in London on Thursday agreed on a timetable for the handover of security duties in Afghan provinces starting in late 2010. In their final communique, the leaders also pledged funds for a plan aimed at persuading Taliban fighters to renounce violence, but offered no specific figures. The meeting backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai's plan to reintegrate Taliban willing to “cut ties with al-Qaida and other terrorist groups and pursue their political goals peacefully.'' It said handover of security responsibilities would begin this year, with the Afghan National Army “conducting the majority of operations in the insecure areas of Afghanistan within three years.” The conference was called to help world powers chart a roadmap out of Afghanistan amid rising U.S. and NATO casualties and falling public support.That is how the Pakistani newspaper 'The News' brought the news from the London Conference, where about 70 countries gathered at the invitation of British prmie minister Gordon Brown to discuss the future, or rather their contribution to the future, of Afghanistan. Very short, very factual. Apparently the outcome was no too thrilling for the people in Islamabad. And that is no surprise if you ask me. How would one stabilize a regime that consists of a president who was elected through election fraud and who, after more than two months, had only seven of the 17 cabinet ministers approved by the parliament (ena that after a first attempt during which only seven out of 24 were approved). Can Karzai's government, can Afghanistan be saved, by bringing in the Taliban?
The 70 nations say Karzai had promised to crack down on corruption and said a summit in Kabul later this year would offer specific plans to bolster his faltering government.
The text said discussions marked a “decisive step towards greater Afghan leadership to secure, stabilize and develop Afghanistan."
NATO to Provide $500 mn. to Bribe Taliban; Seeks Exit beginning 2011; Obama's Request for 10,000-troop NATO Surge Quietly RejectedBritish Prime Minister Gordon Brown may have called the London Conference on Afghanistan for domestic political purposes, as a sort of publicity stunt. But the nearly 70 nations that gathered there unexpectedly took advantage of the meet to plot out a NATO exit strategy. Of course, how realistic it is remains to be seen. The London conference saw as many plans put forward for dealing with the low-intensity war against the Taliban there as there were countries in attendance. (...)
President Hamid Karzai asked for 15 years more of a substantial NATO commitment and heavy investment of foreign training and aid in the country. Karzai also offered to open talks with the top echelons of the Old Taliban of Mullah Omar in hopes of bringing them in from the cold.(....) NATO was generally very unhappy at Karzai's mention of "15 years", and instead began speaking of 2011 as the beginning of a withdrawal of NATO troops, with the expectation that over time more and more of Afghanistan's provinces would be patrolled by the Afghan military without foreign assistance. (..) France says it will send no more troops to Afghanistan and criticized Karzai's 15-year timeline. Germany is sending only 500 more troops. The Dutch may pull out their 2000 troops soon. Obama is highly unlikely to get his 10,000 quota from NATO, though that piece of the troop escalation was key to his plan.
"Les tentatives de l'ennemi d'acheter les moudjahidine en leur offrant de l'argent et des emplois pour qu'ils abandonnent le jihad sont vaines", s'est empressé d'indiquer le Conseil du commandement des talibans afghans dans un communiqué mis en ligne jeudi sur un site islamiste, selon le centre de surveillance de sites islamistes SITE Intelligence.
Last night you spoke in your State of the Union address you spoke of America’s support for human rights. Then, why have we not condemned Israel and Egypt’s human rights violations against the occupied Palestinian people? And yet we continue supporting them financially with billions of dollars from our tax dollars?
"The Middle East is obviously an issue that has plagued the region for centuries (sic!), and it's an issue that elicits a lot of passions as you have heard. Here's my view. Israel is one of our strongest allies, it has...[applause] let me play this out. It is a vibrant democracy. It shares links with us in all sorts of ways. It...it is critical...for us...and I will never waver from ensuring Israel's security, and helping them secure themselves in what is a really hostile region. So...so...so I make no apologies for that."
"What is also true, is that the plight of the Palestinians is something that we have to pay attention to, because it is not good for our security, and it is not good for Israel's security if you've got millions of individuals who feel hopeless, who don't have an opportunity to get an education, or get a job, or what have you. The grievances on both sides of the issue. What I have said, and what we did from the beginning when I came into office, is to say we are seeking a two state solution."
U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people, among them six of 15 top leaders of a regional al-Qaeda affiliate, according to senior administration officials.What is so disturbing about it, is that the US seems to be selecting its targets in a highly arbitrary way, to say the least, as raids on December 19th and December 24th both led to demonstrations and public protests from local people who claimed that most of the dead, if not all of them, had been civilians (and in one case it was suggested that it concerned a family with whom a local offcial wanted to settle a score). Another reasons - even more disturbing - is that the US in this way puts its weight behind a regime that is severely mismanaging several conflicts in the country and for all we know might even be falling apart. Apart from that
The operations, approved by President Obama and begun six weeks ago, involve several dozen troops from the U.S. military's clandestine Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), whose main mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists. The American advisers do not take part in raids in Yemen, but help plan missions, develop tactics and provide weapons and munitions. Highly sensitive intelligence is being shared with the Yemeni forces, including electronic and video surveillance, as well as three-dimensional terrain maps and detailed analysis of the al-Qaeda network.(...)
As part of the operations, Obama approved a Dec. 24 strike against a compound where a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, was thought to be meeting with other regional al-Qaeda leaders. Although he was not the focus of the strike and was not killed, he has since been added to a shortlist of U.S. citizens specifically targeted for killing or capture by the JSOC, military officials said.In a newly built joint operations center, the American advisers are acting as intermediaries between the Yemeni forces and hundreds of U.S. military and intelligence officers working in Washington, Virginia and Tampa and at Fort Meade, Md., to collect, analyze and route intelligence.
The combined efforts have resulted in more than two dozen ground raids and airstrikes. Military and intelligence officials suspect there are several hundred members of AQAP, a group that has historical links to the main al-Qaeda organization but that is thought to operate independently. (...)
Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called "High Value Targets" and "High Value Individuals," whom they seek to kill or capture. The JSOC list includes three Americans, including Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi's name has now been added.
Intelligence officials say the New Mexico-born imam also has been linked to the Army psychiatrist who is accused of killing 12 soldiers and a civilian at Fort Hood, Tex., although his communications with Maj. Nidal M. Hasan were largely academic in nature. Authorities say that Aulaqi is the most important native, English-speaking al-Qaeda figure and that he was in contact with the Nigerian accused of attempting to bomb a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day.
Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubaker al-Qirbi said in Washington last week that his government's present goal is to persuade Aulaqi to surrender so he can face local criminal charges stemming from his contacts with the Fort Hood suspect. Aulaqi is being tracked by the country's security forces, the minister added, and is now thought to be in the southern province of Shabwa.(..)
In combating al-Huthi rebels in the north and disaffected populations in the south, Sana'a has violated many international human rights standards, for instance by placing civilians in the line of fire, denying relief to tens of thousands of displaced persons and harassing or shutting down independent newspapers. Some Yemenis and Yemen-watchers are concerned that framing the country's problems in terms of terrorist threats and the risks of state failure amount to a rationale for bolstering a police state. I hope the US doesn't provide assistance to create a more effective military dictatorship.”according to Sheila Carapico, Yemen-specialist and professor at the universities of Richmond and the American University in Cairo. Yet, at a conference in London, held at teh invuiatation of British prime minister Gordon Brown, Yemen got a pledge of support from the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and 20 other countries.According to The Guardian:
The London meeting promised to support Yemeni counter-terrorist capabilities, enhance aviation and border security, and strengthen coastguard operations. Yemen pledged in return to pursue reforms and initiate discussions with the IMF. An existing 10-point plan includes scrapping fuel subsidies and public sector jobs.What really should have been done is exerting pressure on president Saleh and his government to put an end to his fight with the Houthis in the north, invite a commission of independent (foreign) observers to investigate the grievances of the south, let him mend his ties with the most important tribes in the country and prepare either a national reconcilaition conference or new elections under adequate international supervision.
"We look to Yemen to enact reforms to improve the lot of its people and reduce the influence of groups like al-Qaida," said Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state. "If conflict and violence go unaddressed they will undermine the political reform and reconciliation that are essential to Yemen's progress."
David Miliband, the foreign secretary, said: "Yemen faces a crisis that could have implications for the people of Yemen and the whole region."
Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, Yemen's foreign minister, said: "We want to implement our national reform programme, combat terrorism and create an environment that will help us find political solutions through dialogue." Saudi Arabia, seen by the US and Britain as the key to support of its southern neighbour, agreed to host a follow-up conference next month to look at "the barriers to effective aid" – diplomatic code for the Sana'a government's shortcomings in terms of capacity, corruption and lack of transparency.
An EU contract paying for fuel shipments into the Gaza Strip for its sole power plant expired on 30 November 2009, according to Kan'an Obeid, deputy manager of the Energy Authority in the Strip.
While the EU had been providing the service after the contract expired, EU officials notified the Energy Authority that they would no longer pay for the fuel shipments unless the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah drafted a new agreement and payment scheme.
Obeid said that the fuel in Gaza will last until Thursday morning. If a new shipment does not arrive, Gaza's power plant will be forced to shut down, in turn affecting 70 percent of the population.
For the second time in the past ten years, at approximately 6pm on Monday 18 January 2010, Israel opened the floodgates of one of the dams in the Gaza Valley, which flows into Gaza from the east. As a result, dozens of Palestinian houses and properties were damaged. Israel built this floodgate to prevent the rainwater's natural flow into Gaza, depriving the Gaza aquifer from its main natural source of underground water.
According to Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights field workers, the water flooded both sides of the Gaza Valley, causing harm to the Palestinian houses; agricultural land and other properties.
Dozens of Bedouin families live in that area. According to Al Mezan's field workers, about 50 families live in tents in that area. Water reached about two meters above the valley's level and flooded their houses. Other families who have been living in the watercourse in the valley, which has been dry for many years due to the Israeli dams, had left the area two days before the flood occurred due to the heavy rain. The mayor of the Gaza Valley village (Juhr Ad-Dik) told Al Mezan that about seventy houses were flooded, dozens of poultry and sheep died, and several personal belongings were damaged as people were surprised by the sudden flow of water.
A similar situation had occurred when the so-called Nahal Oz dam suddenly collapsed nine years ago, on 26 March 2001. Hundreds of donams of agricultural lands; chicken and cow farms; and rural houses were damaged. Then, the Israeli authorities took precautions on their side of the border before the collapse; however, they did not inform the Palestinian authorities with whom they had regular coordination at the time.
In the light of the above, Al Mezan asserts that the Israeli authorities bear the responsibility for the moral and physical damages resulted from this sudden water flow into the Gaza Valley.
The closure of Gaza since mid-2007 and the last Israeli military strike between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 have led to on-going deterioration in the social, economic and environmental determinants of health.
Many specialized treatments, for example for complex heart surgery and certain types of cancer, are not available in Gaza and patients are therefore referred for treatment to hospitals outside Gaza. But many patients have had their applications for exit permits denied or delayed by the Israeli Authorities and have missed their appointments. Some have died while waiting for referral.
1103 applications for permits for patients to cross Erez were submitted to the Israeli Authorities in December 2009. 21% had their applications denied or delayed as a result of which they missed their hospital appointments and had to restart the referral process.
Two patients died recently while awaiting referral - one in November and one in December. 27 patients have died while awaiting referral since the beginning of the year.
DEATH OF FIDAA TALAL HIJJY
Fidaa Talal Hijjy, 19 years old, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in 2007, and was treated at Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Her health deteriorated and she was told she needed a bone marrow transplant. This procedure is not available in Gaza. Her doctors referred her to Tel HaShomer Hospital in Israel on 20 August 2009 and she obtained a hospital appointment for 23 September 2009 for a transplant.
The District Liaison Office submitted an application for Fidaa to cross Erez on the date of her appointment but the Israeli Authorities did not respond to her application and she lost her appointment with Tel HaShomer Hospital. She secured a new appointment for 20 October 2009 and a new application was submitted to cross Erez. She had no response from the Israeli Authorities. Her health condition deteriorated further. She was given a new appointment at Shneider Hospital in Israel for 9 November 2009 and submitted an urgent application to cross Erez. No response was received.
Fidaa died on 11 November 2009. The Israeli Authorities approved her request on 12 November 2009, three days after her hospital appointment and one day after her death.
Supplies of drugs and disposables have generally been allowed into Gaza. However, there are often shortages on the ground mainly because of shortfalls in deliveries.Delays of up to 2-3 months occur on the importation of certain types of medical equipment, such as x-ray machines and electronic devices. Clinical staff frequently lack the medical equipment they need. Medical devices are often broken, missing spare parts or out of date.
- Health professionals in Gaza have been cut off from the outside world. Since 2000, very few doctors, nurses or technicians have been able to leave the Strip for training eg to update their clinical skills or to learn about new medical technology. This is severely undermining their ability to provide quality health care. An effective health care system cannot be sustained in isolation from the international community.
ECONOMY IN COLLAPSE
Rising unemployment (41.5 percent of Gaza's workforce in the first quarter of 20092) and poverty (in May 2008, 70 percent of the families were living on an income of less than one dollar a day per person3) is likely to have long term adverse effects on the physical and mental health of the population.
WATER: OVER-EXTRACTION, SALINITY AND NITRATE LEVELS
The increasing salinity and high levels of nitrates in water supplies from the over-extraction of the ground water and the intrusion of salt water is a major concern for the safety of drinking water, particularly for children they are most vulnerable to high nitrate levels4. Salinity levels in water wells in most parts of the Gaza Strip are above the 250 mg/liter limit established by WHO, and nitrate concentrations exceed WHO guidelines of 50 mg/liter (up to 331 mg/l).
OPERATION "CAST LEAD": IMPACT ON FACILITIES AND STAFF
Maybe the right thing to do here is to quote Juan Cole's blog Informed Comment. Cole argues that the blockade of Gaza is meant to weaken Hamas, but
- 16 health workers killed and 25 injured on duty
- Damaged health services infrastructure:
- 15 of 27 Gaza's hospitals
- 43 of its 110 Primary Health Care services
- 29 of its 148 ambulances
- The lack of building materials is affecting essential health facilities: the new surgical wing in Gaza�fs main Shifa hospital has remained unfinished since 2006. Hospitals and primary care facilities, damaged during operation 'Cast Lead', have not been rebuilt because construction materials are not allowed into Gaza.
Collectively punishing 1.5 million Gazans in order to weaken Hamas is in any case strictly illegal in international law and is a war crime. According to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949:
'Articl 33. No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.Not only is today's ongoing blockade a war crime, but it follows on and continues destructive policies of the Israeli military during the Gaza War, as the Goldstone Report for the United Nations concluded.
Pillage is prohibited.
Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.'
On 10 January 2010, Israeli forces, accompanied by a number of bulldozers, moved into the Kherbat Tana area northeast of Nablus. They demolished the elementary school, 11 mud brick houses, 10 animal sheds, one greenhouse, and one tent. At least 120 Palestinian civilians, mostly children, became homeless.
Also on 10 January 2010, Israeli occupation authorities forced Khaled Yousef Abu Shousha to demolish his 35-square-meter house in al-Tour village near East Jerusalem. A notice was delivered to him on Thursday, 07 January 2010, ordering him to demolish his house within 24 hours.
On 11 January 2010, Israeli settlers from "Gilad" settlement, northeast of Qalqiliya, attacked a number of Palestinian farmers who were farming their lands. Two farmers were injured.
On 13 January 2010, Israeli forces, citing security reasons, razed a 3-donum area of agricultural land planted with olives belonging to the Abu Maria family in Safa village, north of Hebron.
On Thursday evening, 07 January 2010, Israeli soldiers violently beat 6 Palestinian civilians and abducted one of them in al-Litwana area to the south of Hebron.
Two Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded by Israeli troops stationed at military checkpoints. On Friday morning, 08 January 2010, Israeli troops stationed at a military checkpoint at Beit Fajjar intersection on the Hebron-Bethlehem road stopped a Palestinian civilian car. They forced the driver to exit his vehicle and violently beat him. They then abducted him.
On Monday noon, 11 January 2010, Israeli troops stormed the Um al-Khair area to the south of "Carme'el" settlement, south of Hebron. They attacked Palestinian shepherds, including women and children. As a result, 15-year-old Mahmoud 'Eissa Hammad, sustained bruises.
Also in the West Bank, 6 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children and a journalist, were wounded when Israeli forces used force to disperse peaceful demonstrations organized by Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders, in protest of the construction of the Annexation Wall in the West Bank.
For the full report click here.
On 12 January 2010, two Palestinian children were wounded when Israeli troops fired at a number of children who demonstrated against them in Safa village, north of Hebron.
A former student of his said that on June 15 (when the huge demonstrations against the rigged presidential election of June 12 broke out) he was at the gathering of the members of the Muslim Student Association of the Faculty of Sciences. At that time, someone from Mousavi's headquarters had called to caution them that security forces had orders to shoot demonstrators, if necessary. He said that Professor Ali-Mohammadi told him, "Young man, do not be scared. We must resist them [the hardliners]. A bullet hurts only at the beginning." According to this student, Professor Ali-Mohammadi then arranged for a bus to take him and many of his students to the demonstrations.This last fact, his past involvement with the Revolutionay Guards, makes it less likely that Israel was behind the murder. The more so, since professor Mohammadi was specialized in quantum physics and had no links with the Iranian nuclear program. In the past Israel was linked to a number of assassinations of nuclear physicists or ballistic experts in Arabic an Middle Eastern countries, the site Four Winds cites scores of cases. In the case of Iran there was in 2001 the murder of Mahmoud Mimand, the man in charge of Iran's ballistic missile program, who was shot in his office in Tehran, and in 2007 the murder of the nuclear scientist Ardeshir Hassanpour. Both were ascribed to the Israeli Mossad. But Ali-Mohammadi? It seems highly unlikely.
According to a statement that was issued by a group of physics students at the University of Tehran, Professor Ali-Mohammadi was one of the leading academics who stormed the University Chancellor's office to demand an investigation into the June 15 attack on the university when several students were murdered and many more were injured.
Several other students have stated that Professor Ali-Mohammadi had organized debates on the national crisis at the University of Tehran. He had apparently told his students that "they" [the hardliners] had ordered him to put an end to such activities, but that he was going to press on despite their demands. The last of such debates had occurred on January 5, in which he had urged students to come up with a scientific and practical solution to the Iranian crisis. All of his speeches have reportedly been recorded and can be used as evidence to refute the hardliner's propaganda that he was one of them.
A source in Tehran told the author that Professor Ali-Mohammadi had worked with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) on several projects in the past. This source said that given Professor Ali-Mohammadi's extensive knowledge of the IRGC's activities and his recent new-found support for the reformists and Mousavi would have made him a potential target for the IRGC.
...on the evening of 21 November, the area around the church, where most Christians in Farshout are based, was the scene of much violence as Muslim gangs started breaking into and looting shops and pharmacies owned by Christians, then torching them after taking what they wanted. They went from store to store with batons in hand and, according to some reports, fire arms, wreaking havoc.Stories like this happen time and again in Upper-Egypt, which in many places has an important Coptic population and several churches and monasteries which are hundreds of years old. Unfortunately the goverment most of the time fails to act in time to suppress these sectarian outbursts. (Nag Hamady, in the governorate of Qena, lies about 60 km north of Luxor).
The violence came after 21-year-old Girgis Barouny Girgis, a Copt, was charged with assaulting and raping a 12-year-old Muslim girl. Girgis, a resident of Kom el-Ahmar, is currently in police custody pending trial. The incident, however, has spurred continuous protests in addition to the violence – the worst of which happened in Farshout, the hometown of the girl which lies a few kilometers away from Kom el-Ahmar.