So, you may be wondering how the Mahdi Army is doing, now that The Surge is on. You may be concerned about their well-being. Fret not, habeebi. 700 of their thugs are receiving the finest care and hospitality in the custody of the US military. They get 3 hots and a cot, and you get to pay for it. When The Surge eventually fizzles, they’ll be back on the street. It's a terrorist catch-and-release program. Why are we even taking prisoners?
Petraeus: “We’re going slowly there [in Sadr City]. We just want to keep nudging this forward in the constructive way that it has gone forward.” Don’t worry, you have all the time in the world. Just ask the Democratic Congress.
Patton (remember him?) didn't have much patience with "Hold and Clear":
“I don’t want to get any messages saying, “I am holding my position.” We are not holding a Goddamned thing. Let the Germans do that. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything, except the enemy’s balls. We are going to twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all of the time. Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy. We are going to go through him like crap through a goose; like shit through a tin horn!”
The beginning of the end for the Sadrite thugs? Iraqslogger says Basra is in lockdown and the British are going after the Mahdi Army there, in a joint effort with Iraqi forces. What took so damn long? Hasn’t it been plainly obvious for at least two years now that Sadr and his followers should be rubbed out?
The enigmatic Obadiah Shoher is skeptical of the house-searches in Baghdad, similar to the ones in Basra. He raises a great question: will Iraqi Shi'a soldiers truly fight their brothers?
The Mahdi Army may be the major target of joint Iraqi-UK operations in Basra, sources in the city have told IraqSlogger. A curfew is in force in the city, and Iraqi forces conducted house-to-house searching today, especially in areas near Basra University, IraqSlogger has learned from eyewitnesses.
Iraqi and British officials have been tight lipped about the intended targets of the security plan, which have imposed a security cordon across all land and sea entry points to the city.
In fact, Carter never mentions in his book that the Palestinians could have had a state in 1938, 1948, 1967 and on several other occasions. Their leaders cared more about destroying Israel than they did about creating Palestine.
That is the core of the conflict. It is Palestinian terror, not Israeli policy, which prevents peace.
Carter chooses to believe Arafat's story over that of Clinton, Barak and Saudi Prince Bandar, who called Arafat's refusal a "crime." Why?
We know from Carter's biographer, Douglas Brinkley, that Carter and Arafat strategized together about how to improve the image of the PLO. It is highly likely, therefore, that Arafat sought Carter's advice on whether to accept or reject the Clinton/Barak offer.
Did Carter advise Arafat to walk away from a Palestinian state? Did he contribute to the new intifada, which claimed thousands of lives on both sides? That is an important question-one I would have asked Carter had I been given the chance.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S.-backed Iraqi television station Al Hurra said Saddam Hussein had been executed by hanging shortly before 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Saturday.Bush probably had to hurry up and hang him before the Democrats take power and restore Saddam to his rightful throne.
Arabic satellite channel Arabiya also reported the execution had taken place.
The former Iraqi president ousted in April 2003 by a U.S.-led invasion was convicted in November of crimes against humanity over the killings of 148 Shi'ite villagers from Dujail after a failed assassination bid in 1982.
Ferocious gunbattles broke out between Hamas and Fatah militants in the Gaza Strip and West Bank early Friday, underscoring the fragility of a new truce between the rival Palestinian factions. A Hamas militiaman injured in violence that touched off the Gaza City shootout died of his wounds.
The office of President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah blocked five major Hamas appointments to senior government positions. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas accused Abbas of trying to subvert the government's authority by refusing to authorize the appointments.
Abbas' power struggle with Hamas turned violent earlier this month after he declared that efforts to form a more moderate coalition government with the militantly anti-Israel Islamic group had broken down.
The street battle early Friday in Gaza City, which encompassed Abbas' residence and the home of Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar of Hamas, broke out as Hamas militiamen tried to free two fighters kidnapped Thursday.
Rooftop gunmen began shooting at other armed men in the streets.
The presidential guard took up defensive positions behind newly built walls of sandbags and cement block barriers outside the residence of Abbas, who was not in Gaza at the time.
Hamas officials said Fatah gunmen shot at Zahar's home.
One witness estimated that more than 2,000 bullets were fired in the first 10 minutes of the shootout, and several rocket-propelled grenades were also launched.
Bush urged the international community to take action. Sanctions threatened by the United Nations Security Council if Iran did not meet its ultimatum to end uranium enrichment by the end of August never materialized after Iran ignored the deadline.So much blah-blah, so little time...
“If they continue to move forward with the program,” said Bush, “there has to be a consequence. And a good place to start is working together to isolate the country. And my hope is, is that there are rational people inside the government that recognize isolation is not their country’s interest.”
In a Newsweek-Washington Post interview ahead of his trip, Prime Minister Olmert said, "I am ready to release many, many prisoners. I made it clear long ago that I am anxious to open up a new dialogue with [Palestinian Authority President] Abu Mazen, and for that purpose, I'm ready to release many prisoners."What else are you ready to do, Ehud?
The first customers come at about 23:30 P.M. The group consists of locals and a few foreigners - employees from foreign embassies in Jerusalem and international organizations. The cover fee is only NIS 30.
Peter sees that things are a little slow and takes to the booth. The song "Big in Japan" brings Mariana and Giorgia, both Italian, to the floor. They are joined by Eric, a Finn who lives in Beit Hanina. This is not his first time here. For Eric, the big advantage of Cosmos over the Jerusalem clubs is, "There aren't any Jews here, but don't write that. I'm kidding, I don't have a problem with Jews, only with Israelis." Giorgia also says she prefers Cosmos, and would not want to go out in Tel Aviv because she's not interested in Israelis.
BAGHDAD, Oct 21 (KUNA) -- A US helicopter on Saturday bombed an office of Al-Sadr militia in Suwaira, 45 kilometers south of Baghdad, witnesses said.
Witnesses told Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) that a US helicopter fired four missiles on the militia's office, noting that a number of militiamen were killed and wounded in the bombing, but the presence of Iraqi and US forces made it impossible to figure a death toll.
Clashes between Al-Sadr Militia (also-known-as Al-Mahdi Army) and the Iraqi forces erupted today in Suwaira, killing nine people, eight of them were militiamen, and wounding an Iraqi Police captain. (end) ahh.
CHITRAL: The Afghanistan-based Nato forces on Tuesday violated Pakistan’s airspace and dropped bombs on two border towns of Arandu that caused huge fire in the dense forests of the area.
Residents of Chitral’s border town of Arandu informed The News that Nato planes intruded into Pakistani territory from the neighbouring Nooristan province of Afghanistan several times where an operation against al-Qaeda and Taliban has been going on since few days.
According to the residents, the Nato aircraft targeted two villages, Daroshot and Azo. There was no casualty but the bombing caused a huge fire in the dense forests of the area. Nazim UC Arandu Sher Muhammad told this scribe that precious forests in the two border villages have been burnt by the fire causing losses of millions of rupees and created panic among the dwellers of the border villages. He demanded of the Pakistan government to lodge a strong protest over its airspace violation by the coalition forces.
Iraqi MPs have passed a law enabling the country to be split into semi-autonomous regions, despite warnings that it could mean the end of Iraq as a sovereign state.
The federalism Bill, introduced last month by a Shia party, passed the 275-member parliament by 141 to 0. Its opponents had boycotted the vote in a failed attempt to prevent enough MPs being present to reach the required 50 per cent quorum.
Provinces will be permitted to band together to form self-ruling regions if a third of provincial legislators request it and the move is backed by local referendums.
As a result, a Shia state is likely to emerge in the south, similar to the autonomous region the Kurds have established in the north. It will be able to levy taxes and post armed guards on its borders.
The law has been bitterly opposed by Sunni Arabs, who dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein but form only a fifth of the population. They fear that the Shia south will become a satellite of Iran, and that they will be left with a central area with little oil.
In an attempted compromise move, the Bill included a clause preventing the formation of any federal regions for 18 months. But Sunni MPs still tried to prevent its passage by boycotting the session. They were joined by supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr, the nationalist Shia cleric who opposes federalism, saying it risks causing the country's break-up.
Adnan al-Dulaimi, leader of the largest Sunni party, warned after the vote that the law could provoke even worse sectarian violence. "This is the beginning of the plan to divide Iraq," he said.
Nasaar al-Rubaie, a Sadr supporter, said: "The present conditions are not conducive to establishing regions because we lack a strong central government that can overrule the regions. The central authority is actually weakening, instead of being solidified and strengthened."
A federalised Iraq was one of the key principles accepted in the country's constitution written last year, but the new law is the first time a legal mechanism has been established setting out how this will be implemented.
Its Shia supporters argue that it will prevent Iraq's regions from ever again being dominated by a central dictator such as Saddam.
While Pyongyang prepares to detonate a nuclear device--our sources say North Korea's first-ever nuclear explosion is imminent--Tehran is pushing Damascus to attack Israel. And Islamist Iran's secular Arab ally seems to be listening: Syria has publicly threatened the Jewish state with war, accusing it of abandoning the peace process.
Just as Stalinist North Korea has accused the United States of pushing it to blow up an atom bomb.
No way. As we have previously noted, nuclear armed North Korea and nuclear wannabe Iran have been cooperating closely since late June--in order to buy time for both nations. Time and again, North Korea has turned up the volume just as Iran has signaled possible moderation in its nuclear standoff with the West.
But the pattern is changing. With push coming to shove, the two rogues are apparently escalating tensions--simultaneously--in a manner that the world has not seen since the runup to the Second World War.
Within hours of North Korea's unofficial declaration of war against the US--scroll down for the story--Syrian President Bashar Assad told a Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Anba, that his country is preparing for war with (US ally) Israel. But Assad added that peace is still possible--provided, presumably, that Israel return the contested Golan Heights to Syria.
The backstory: Alarmed by increasing Iranian influence in the Middle East and Israel's failure to defeat Iranian proxy Hezbollah during this summer's 34-day Lebanese war, the US is reportedly making a last-ditch effort to lure Syria into a more moderate regional grouping under Saudi Arabia. But Tehran is not about to sit back and let this happen. Instead, it is stepping up arms shipments to Hezbollah--which now enjoys effective protection by so-called United Nations peacekeepers, including Chinese troops--and drawing Syria into plans for a new assault on Israel, including coordinated missile attacks on Israeli cities.
During the fighting in Lebanon Hezbollah received direct intelligence support from Syria, using data collected by listening posts jointly manned by Russian and Syrian crews. Hezbollah was also fed intelligence from new listening posts built on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, which are operated jointly with Iran.
This information was confirmed in recent reports by the defense journal Jane's.
Syria's centrality to the collection and transfer of intelligence to Hezbollah is based on separate agreements Damascus signed with Moscow and Tehran on intelligence cooperation.
The agreement with Russia is much older than the one with Iran, which was signed earlier this year.
As happened with the significant numbers of advanced Russian anti-tank missiles procured by Syria and transferred to Hezbollah, Russia found itself operating indirectly in favor of the Lebanese Shi'ite organization in matters of intelligence.
In addition to the profits from arms sales to Syria, the Russo-Syrian intelligence cooperation benefits Moscow in terms of the actual first-hand data collected by the listening posts.
Russia is also involved in assisting Syria to enlarge two of its ports on the Mediterranean, Latakia and Tartus. Reports of this development have emerged only recently.
JERUSALEM – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was questioned for 45 minutes yesterday by Israel's state comptroller regarding a suspicious real estate deal suspected of facilitating bribes to the Israeli leader in exchange for political favors.
An official report to be issued on the subject in two weeks by the comptroller, Micha Lindenstrauss, will recommend Israel's attorney general file criminal charges against Olmert, top sources in the Lindenstrauss' office told WorldNetDaily.
If charges indeed are filed, Olmert would need to resign as prime minister according to Israeli law.
The comptroller's investigation focuses on Olmert's acquisition of a home in a posh Jerusalem neighborhood in 2004. At the time, Olmert served as minister of Industry and Trade.
Dramatic development in relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert secretly met about 10 days ago with a senior member of the Saudi royal family, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Monday morning.TalkBacks on this article speculate that he either agreed to the "Right of Return" or gave away Jerusalem.
According to several sources, the person Olmert met with was Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah himself. Other sources implied that the meeting was held with a different senior figure in the kingdom.
Only a number of Israelis were involved in the secret meeting, which was welcomed by senior American officials.
This appears to be the first time an Israeli prime minister holds a direct meeting with such a senior member of the Saudi royal family.
"Any government that recognizes Israel will be a legitimate target for our fighters," said Abu Abir, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, one of the groups that issued the threat. "We will fight against such a government with all means and we will consider it as part of the Israeli occupation."So when we talk about Israel making peace with the Palestinians, which Palestinians are we talking about?
The groups also criticized Abbas for insisting that a unity government recognize Israel and urged him to halt his attempts to overthrow the Hamas-led government. Two of the groups that were represented at the press conference claimed that they were affiliated with Abbas's Fatah party.
Samir Geagea, a notorious former leader of a Christian militia, scoffed at Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah's declaration that his guerrillas achieved "a victory" against Israel.
"I don't feel victory because the majority of the Lebanese people do not feel victory. Rather, they feel that a major catastrophe had befallen them and made their present and future uncertain," he said.
Hezbollah's fight with Israel sent its support soaring among Shiites. But a large sector — particularly among Christians and Sunni Muslims — opposes Hezbollah and resents it for provoking the monthlong fight by capturing two Israeli soldiers on July 12.
The latest public opinion poll in the Palestinian Authority territories shows that some 61 percent of Palestinians support "military operations" inside Israel compared with only 32% who reject such attacks.What, the Hamas win wasn't a clue?
Although the center did not specify the nature of the "military operations," many Palestinians interpret the term as a reference to suicide bombings inside Israeli cities.
This is the first poll in several years that shows growing support among Palestinians for launching terror attacks inside Israel. The results reflect an increased trend of radicalism among the Palestinian public.
Israel's shadowy security service is looking for a few good geeks.
Normally shrouded in secrecy, the Shin Bet launched its first public recruitment drive Tuesday, unveiling a Web site and buying online ads in Israel and abroad in a bid to attract top computer programmers to its cutting-edge tech division.
Though widely associated with undercover espionage and tough interrogation tactics, the security service, whose main task is to prevent attacks by Palestinian militants, is actually a funky, intellectually challenging place to work, according to the campaign.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has decided to appoint his former special adviser Lakhdar Brahimi to mediate a possible agreement for swapping Lebanese prisoners in return for freeing the reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Brahimi recently publicly expressed his support for talking directly with Hizbullah.
Annan announced his intention of taking on the prisoner swap mediation during a visit to Saudi Arabia Monday. "I will appoint a person to work secretly with the two sides... I will not announce his name today or tomorrow," Annan said.
The Post has learned from UN sources that the person will be Brahimi, one of Annan's most trusted advisers.
Although Israeli officials repeated Tuesday that they did not ask Annan to appoint a mediator, and that Israel expected the unconditional release of the two soldiers as called for by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, they also did not rule out having talks with him.
Qantar’s role in the attack on the coastal town of Nahariya 27 years ago would make this an especially bitter pill for Israelis to swallow. A policeman was killed and a family taken hostage when Qantar’s group burst into their home.
Danny Haran, 28, was shot at close range in front of his terrified four-year-old daughter Einat, whose head was then smashed with a rifle butt.
The dead man’s wife Smadar hid in a loft with their two-year-old daughter Yael, keeping a hand over her mouth to stop her crying out. But the girl suffocated, leaving Smadar Haran bereft of her husband and both daughters.
Beirut - He said that he would prefer Italian command [of UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) troops] to French. He repeated that Hezbollah "has no intention of disarming for the time being, not even in the areas of south Lebanon that will be subject to the new UNIFIL force's control". But he promised that no soldier in the international contingent "will ever see our weapons; we will hide them well." All in all, [Lebanese] Labour Minister Tarad Kanj Hamadah [commonly called Trad Hamadah - JI], who controls two ministries - his own, and the Energy Ministry - but who is known above all for being the moderate face of "God's Party [Hezbollah]", is satisfied.
In his view, the meeting in Brussels two days ago achieved "an excellent result". And he expects to meet UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan tomorrow, to reiterate "the hope that the UNIFIL troops will arrive soon; they will help to prevent Israeli aggression".
[Cremonesi] Is the expansion of the UNIFIL force not designed also to prevent your strikes against Israel?
[Hamadah] For us, they will facilitate the liberation of our lands in the Shab'a [Farms] area, and our prisoners' release.
[Cremonesi] What do you think of the formula involving alternate command of the UNIFIL contingent between Italy and France?
[Hamadah] I have to confess that we have a slight preference for Italy. We do not like France's traditional policy of interfering in Lebanon's domestic affairs. In addition, Italy does not have a colonial past in this region. But the situation is fine like this: Italy and France are two friendly countries today. There will be no difficulties.
[Cremonesi] Do you think that the UNIFIL force will be able to deploy also on the border with Syria?
[Hamadah] We are opposed to that. It would be a serious attempt on our country's sovereignty.
[Cremonesi] Israel argues that it would prevent weapons from reaching Hezbollah.
[Hamadah] Our army will take care of patrolling that border.
"15. Decides further that all states shall take the necessary measures to prevent, by their nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft;---http://www.mideastweb.org/1701.htm
* a. the sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, whether or not originating in their territories, and;
* b. the provision to any entity or individual in Lebanon of any technical training or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the items listed in subparagraph (a) above, except that these prohibitions shall not apply to arms, related material, training or assistance authorised by the government of Lebanon or by Unifil as authorised in paragraph 11;
[Cremonesi] What would happen if UNIFIL troops were to open fire in order to stop a blitz against Israel on your part, or to confiscate one of your arms depots?Copyright 2006 Financial Times Information * Posted here for Fair Use Only
[Hamadah] That will not happen. The UNIFIL force has an observer mission. It can report any fact to our army. But it cannot intervene militarily; that is not its task. Our military alone has a monopoly on the use of force in Lebanon.
[Cremonesi] It has not had that for the past 30 years. What has changed?
[Hamadah] What has changed is that a political accord has now been reached within our government. Hezbollah agrees to cede its place to the regular army. The long-term prospect is that, once Israel has withdrawn from the Shab'a area and released our prisoners, our armed militiamen can be integrated into the army.
[Cremonesi] [UN Security Council] Resolution 1701 provides for your disarmament in the south.
[Hamadah] That is not accurate: It only says that the army alone may bear arms. That is a very subtle distinction. Our arms will not be seen, but that does not mean that they will not be there. Hezbollah remains, in any case, a defence force at its country's service.
[Cremonesi] If Israel were to withdraw from Shab'a and to exchange prisoners, do you think that peace is possible?
[Hamadah] Absolutely not. I have always been opposed also to the Oslo accord between the PLO and Israel. First and foremost, it is necessary for the Palestinian question to be resolved once and for all. And in any case, I am against the separate existence of Israel. The best formula would be a single state for Muslims, Jews and Christians.
Whatever success the U.N. Security Council would presume to claim, it cannot be said that Resolution 1701 has effectively addressed the direct cause of the fighting--the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser, 31, and Eldad Regev, 26, by Hezbollah, and the earlier abduction of Gilad Shalit, 19, by Hamas. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for the unconditional release of these soldiers has been ignored. Moreover, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, the terrorists have not only seized the soldiers as hostages for political blackmail, they have not allowed the Red Cross to visit them. Their families do not know their physical condition; they have no proof they are even alive.
Undoubtedly, the secretary-general will tell the families of Ehud, Eldad and Gilad that he has dispatched a high-level team to Beirut that will urge the release of their loved ones. But that team negotiates behind closed doors. And by not publicly demanding the unfettered access of humanitarian representatives to the kidnapped soldiers, Mr. Annan has deprived his team of the force of credibility and seriousness they need in those negotiations.