Since the war in Iraq turned into a disaster, one common argument has been that President Bush's misadventure bears many similarities with US imperialism in South Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s.
As the North Vietnamese army closed in on Saigon, Ford arranged for 130,000 South Vietnamese, afraid of Communist retribution and retaliation, to be resettled in the United States.
The current president, unfortunately, has shown no such character in the United States' latest failed war.
Of all the depravity associated with the Bush administration's war in Iraq, nothing has shown this administration's moral bankruptcy and callousness more than its treatment of those ordinary Iraqis fleeing anarchy for any pocket of civility they can find. Almost three million Iraqis find themselves internally displaced, many of them women and children. The UN estimates that another 500,000 Iraqis have fled to Jordan, while 1.2 million Iraqis have crossed over Syria's border for protection.
In March 2007, Bush did acknowledge this crisis indirectly by promising to resettle 12,000 Iraqi refugees inside the United States in fiscal year 2008. The result: only 2,627 Iraqis have found new homes in the US since the end of March. This leaves five months in the fiscal year for the administration to admit 9,373 more Iraqis to achieve its already stingy goal. At the present rate, the administration won't even reach half its target by the end of the year.
Gary Ackerman has a theory: "The only answer I can come up with is that President Bush simply doesn't care about the refugees."
US expenditures on humanitarian aid support such an accusation. Since 2003, according to the US state department, the US has given $500m in humanitarian aid to Iraq - a pittance compared to the more than $500bn spent overall on the Iraq war since 2003. As Human Rights First notes: "That means that the US spends more on the war in two days than we've contributed to humanitarian assistance for refugees and [internally displaced persons] in five years."
ZURICH: US victims of attacks in Israel and their families are suing Swiss bank UBS for 500 million dollars, alleging it financed terrorism by doing business with Iran, their lawyer told AFP Tuesday.
A UBS spokesman told AFP that the accusations were “without foundation” and that the bank would defend itself in the courts. The bank, which cut its links with Iran in 2006, was fined 100 million dollars in 2004 for having made currency transfers to Iran, Cuba, Libya and Yugoslavia. UBS is also one of around 50 multinationals accused of having helped the South African government during the apartheid era, between 1948 and 1994.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An emotional President George W. Bush pledged that America would remain "Israel's best friend in the world" on Wednesday during a celebratory visit to Jerusalem to mark the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state.
His host, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, appeared to bring a tear to the president's eye when he called him "a great leader, a great friend". Olmert also held out hope of reaching a peace with the Palestinians before Bush steps down in January.
Bush condemned "terrorists", including the Iranian allies Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. He said Washington would support those Palestinians "who don't share" Hamas's vision.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet Bush in Egypt on Saturday. Though Abbas, who lost control of Gaza last year to Hamas, would not echo an Islamist leader who condemned Bush as a "hypocrite", unwelcome in the Holy Land, he and his allies have indicated discomfort with Bush's trip to Israel.
For Olmert, Bush's visit has provided a distraction from an investigation into his finances that has threatened his survival in office -- and, with it, Bush's hopes for a deal this year.
Clashes between Hezbollah supporters and loyalists of the governing coalition in Beirut and other cities erupted after the government acted to remove Hezbollah's communications network.
The Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Seniora should be helped in strengthening its capacity 'to respond with a military that is effective,' Bush said.
Olmert's people are leaning, said the sources, toward presenting the visiting president with a list of weapon systems that Israel wants to purchase or otherwise gain access to. Next month Olmert is scheduled to visit Washington D.C. for 48 hours, expecting to receive Bush's answer on the possibility of supplying the items on the list.
"We attribute a lot of importance to this visit, because strategic issues of great significance will be discussed," sources from the Prime Minister's Bureau told Haaretz yesterday.
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said the possibility was discussed in closed talks between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and U.S. President George Bush, during the latter's visit to Israel this week.
The officials said that Bush wants to deal with Iran on a root level, to weed out the negative influence aiding militant groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, the radio said.
Meanwhile, senior officials in Jerusalem said Thursday that Israel is fully satisfied with the results of Bush's visit, including policy on Iran's nuclear program.
"America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary. And America stands with you in firmly opposing Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions. Permitting the world's leading sponsor of terror to possess the world's deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations. For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," the president said.
Bush accused Ahmadinejad of seeking to return the Middle East to the Middle Ages by calling for the destruction of Israel.
Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi al-Aridi said in a press statement on Wednesday that the US-backed cabinet has cancelled two measures it took against Hizbullah, which triggered the worst internal fighting in the country since the 1975-90 civil war.
The two measures in question were the army's decision to overturn a government act to reassign the head of Beirut airport security, and the decision to probe a communications network set up by Hizbullah.
Lebanese media reported that the decision to repeal the acts was instated despite Saudi Arabia's request that the government refrain from ceding to Hizbullah.
U.S. President George Bush said during a closed working meeting between the American and Israeli teams that there is no difference between Hamas, Hezbollah and Al-Qaida.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her U.S. counterpart Condoleezza Rice also took part in the meeting, held at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, which focused on the latest developments in Syria, Lebanon, Iran and the Gaza Strip.
Bush vowed continued American support for Israel: "The objective of the United States must be, on the one hand, to support our strongest ally and friend in the Middle East, against the forces of terror you've just described, while at the same time to talk about a hopeful future."
Eyewitness reports said there were minor skirmishes in the area Thursday morning but noted many gunmen could be seen dismantling bombs scattered in the district. Other reports indicated most of the armed militias vanished from the streets as the terms of the cease-fire brokered between Sadr loyalists and the Iraqi government during the weekend took hold.
Atta told a news conference that Iraqi authorities established checkpoints where militants could turn in their guns in exchange for government-backed rewards.
The death toll from yesterday's suicide bombing at a funeral in Abu Minasir rose by three dead and eight wounded to 25 killed and 48 wounded. One witness described the bomber as a crying teenager and noted that the boy's suicide vest appeared to have detonated by remote control, suggesting he was an unwilling accomplice.
2 Baghdad Attacks Attributed to Teenagers Kill 11 Others
Clashes in Sadr City left seven dead and 19 wounded. Women and children were among the injured. U.S. forces said they killed two gunmen.
In Jalawla, a roadside bomb killed two policemen and wounded four others.
A blast killed two people in Balad Ruz.
Six policemen were injured during a blast in Khaneqeen.
In Mosul, the Iraqi army arrested the manager of the Ninevah governor's office and the head of the facilities protection services.
Two suspects were detained and a weapons cache was confiscated in Makhmour.
Three doctors were kidnapped near al-Hamra village.
Iran bombarded the Qalaat Daza district, but no casualties were reported. In the past, Iran has targeted PJAK (Partiya Jiyana Azada Kurdistanê) rebel bases there. They believe the rebels use the bases to stage attacks in Iranian territory.
Two dumped bodies were found near Lake TharThar.
An Interior Ministry report said unidentified gunmen in northern Baghdad fired on two SUVs carrying the five employees and driver, who were transported to an Iraqi hospital.
The Baghdad Operations Command, however, reported that an Iraqi army patrol was shot at and returned fire at the SUVs -- injuring the embassy workers and their driver, according to the official.
Iran's state-run Islamic Republic News Agency was blaming the United States for the attack.
"U.S. agents carried out terror attacks on Iranian Embassy staff in Baghdad," a bulletin on IRNA's Web site said.
Another message posted eight minutes later read, "Iran holds the U.S. government responsible for terror attacks on Iranian Embassy staff in Baghdad."
"The North Koreans have been offered guarantees against any attacks from outside, the Iranians have not been offered this as far as we know, nor have they been offered diplomatic relations which the North Koreans have been," said the former IAEA chief.
"When you see talks now with the North Korean and the Iranian, they sit there and are told by the US and other, who retain all these weapons, you should not have all these nuclear weapons, that it is a danger for you, it is not a danger for us, it is for the safety of the world that is very hypocritical," Blix affirmed.
The United States should construct a combination of incentives and pressure to engage Iran, and may have missed earlier opportunities to begin a useful dialogue with Tehran, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday.
"We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage . . . and then sit down and talk with them," Gates said. "If there is going to be a discussion, then they need something, too. We can't go to a discussion and be completely the demander, with them not feeling that they need anything from us."
The Bush administration has said it will talk with Iran, and consider lifting economic and other sanctions, only if Iran ends a uranium enrichment program the administration maintains is intended to produce nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies. Although the U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Baghdad met three times last year for discussions on Iraq, Iran has refused to continue that dialogue.
Gates said yesterday that the U.S. military remained "stretched" by deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, although he said that all service branches had met their recruitment and retention goals last month. "There is no doubt that . . . we would be very hard-pressed to fight another major conventional war right now," he said. "But where would we sensibly do that, anyway?"
The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to endorse US charges of Iranian involvement in arms smuggling to the Mahdi Army, and a plan to show off a huge collection of Iranian arms captured in and around Karbala had to be called off after it was discovered that none of the arms were of Iranian origin.
US officials also planned to display Iranian weapons captured in both Basra and Karbala to reporters. That sequence of media events would fill the airwaves with spectacular news framing Iran as the culprit in Iraq for several days, aimed at breaking down Congressional and public resistance to the idea that Iranian bases supporting the meddling would have to be attacked.
But events in Iraq diverged from the plan. On May 4, after an Iraqi delegation had returned from meetings in Iran, al-Maliki's spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said in a news conference that al-Maliki was forming his own Cabinet committee to investigate the US claims. "We want to find tangible information and not information based on speculation," he said.
Senior US military officials were clearly furious with al-Maliki for backtracking on the issue. "We were blindsided by this," one of them told Zavis.
The government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki refused to endorse US charges of Iranian involvement in arms smuggling to Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, and a plan to show off a huge collection of Iranian arms captured in and around the central city of Karbala had to be called off after it was discovered that none of the arms was of Iranian origin.
Another adviser to Maliki, Haider Abadi, told the Los Angeles Times' Alexandra Zavis that Iranian officials had given the delegation evidence disproving the charges. "For us to be impartial, we have to investigate," Abadi said.
Dabbagh made it clear the government considered the US evidence of Iranian government arms smuggling to be insufficient. "The proof we want is weapons which are shown to have been made in Iran," Dabbagh said in a separate interview with Reuters. "We want to trace back how they reached [Iraq], who is using them, where are they getting it."
Eighteen people including foreign militants were killed when two missiles hit a house in the village of Damadola in the Bajaur tribal region, where Islamist militants have been known to operate, on Wednesday evening, a security official said.
A senior government official said the strike had apparently targeted a mid-level, Arab al Qaeda member, who had been killed.
Neither U.S. nor Pakistani authorities officially confirm U.S. missile attacks on Pakistani territory, which would be an infringement of Pakistani sovereignty and are unpopular with many Pakistanis who oppose the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism.
Pakistan's Western allies say previous peace pacts merely gave the militants a free hand to regroup and plot violence in Afghanistan and beyond.
The Washington Post reported in March that the United States had escalated air strikes against al Qaeda fighters operating in Pakistan's tribal areas fearing that support from Islamabad may slip away as Musharraf's power ebbed.
Bin Laden is believed to be hiding somewhere along the border.
The Hezbollah-led opposition and U.S.-backed government agreed Thursday to hold political talks that will lead to the election of Lebanon's army chief as president, an Arab mediator said.
Immediately after the deal was announced, bulldozers and opposition supporters began clearing a series of airport roadblocks along the highway.
... said that dialogue will result in the election of compromise candidate Gen. Michel Suleiman, the army chief, as president.
Late Wednesday night, the Cabinet rescinded two measures against Hezbollah that sparked the worst violence since Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. The government backed down from its decisions to remove the airport security chief for alleged ties to the militant group and to declare Hezbollah's private telephone network illegal.
A preliminary report indicate that a possible new *Tsunami is approaching within days, perhaps hours, to take place in the bedouin village of "Um El-Naser", in northern Gaza Strip,as a result of the stop of generators pumps, caused by a lack of fuel and spare parts.
The United Nations Office for the "Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs" said in a report released on Wednesday,that Gaza Strip water authority has dumped over 60 million liters of partially treated and untreated sewage into the Mediterranean sea since January 24."The sewage discharge is contaminating the Gaza Strip seawater, and posing health risks for the people visiting the beaches during the summer season approaching, also health risks to consumers of seafood.
The sewage does not only stream into the sea, but also into empty lagoons, which normally drain off the storms.The lagoons in Gaza City and the Jabaliya refugee camp have been turned into open cesspools, according to UN. Detailed method or structures, to improve the sewage treatment system have been drawn up, but were being held back by the Israelis.
The project which will cost $12 milj USD, and was intended to begin by the end of April 2008, if the Israeli authorities would end its illegal hostage of shipment of material and equipment into Gaza Strip.The KfW project, will allow the plant to treat 60 million liters of sewage per day and use the treated sewage for agricultural purposes or to restore depleted fresh water aquifer on Gaza Strip.A plan to build a new sewage treatment plant in northern Gaza Strip is also being blocked by the Israelis, according to the UN report.
The IDF plans to escalate its operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip after US President George W. Bush leaves Israel on Friday, senior defense officials said Thursday.
At the same time, Israel is continuing its dialogue with Egypt over the cease-fire proposal...
Defense Minister Ehud Barak is scheduled to travel to Sharm e-Sheikh next week to participate in the World Economic Forum and to hold talks with Suleiman and possibly President Hosni Mubarak regarding the proposal, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Olmert is scheduled to visit Egypt for talks with Mubarak the following week.
Throughout the day a number of rockets were fired into Israel, including a Grad-model Katyusha that hit a field outside Netivot without causing injuries. Two Hamas gunmen were killed when IAF aircraft bombed a terrorist observation post in Gaza City before dawn.
Several people were treated for shock when Palestinians fired three Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip at Sderot Thursday night. One of the rockets hit a synagogue, causing damage. Another projectile fell outside the city and police were searching for the third.
Earlier Thursday evening, Palestinians fired three rockets at the Sderot area. One of the rockets hit an industrial zone near the city, while another landed in a wheat field in the Sha'ar Hanegev region, causing a fire.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The United States and Israel agree on the need for "tangible action" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman said after a visit by U.S. President George W. Bush.
Regev described diplomatic efforts so far to exert pressure on Iran as "positive," but added: "It is clearly not sufficient and it's clear that additional steps will have to be taken."
Bush ratcheted up his rhetoric toward Tehran in a speech to Israel's Knesset on Thursday, saying critics' calls for talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were comparable to the "appeasement" of Adolf Hitler before World War Two.
TEHRAN, Iran: Iran said Thursday that a group Tehran has accused of bombing a mosque in the country last month and of having ties to the U.S. and Britain also planned to attack a Russian consulate, the state-owned newspaper reported.
Iran has repeatedly accused both the U.S. and Britain of backing groups to destabilize the government. They have denied the accusations.
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran has arrested a total of 15 people over a deadly mosque bombing in the southern city of Shiraz, the intelligence minister said on Wednesday.
Iranian officials have accused the United States and Britain of training and financing people behind the April 12 bombing which killed 13 people and wounded more than 200.
Ejeie also said "the ones responsible for the Shiraz blast were directly controlled by America and were trained in bombing, acting secretly and escaping. They were provided with equipment and financial aid."
The intelligence minister also said the people behind the blast "intended to bomb a Russian consulate in Iran to harm Iran's relations with its neighbours."
These British units are deployed along the Iraqi border with Iran, using Apache helicopters, the source said.
Over 300 American and British forces are currently stationed some 10 km from the Iranian border of Shalamcheh in the Iraqi town of Tanumeh.
Members of the terrorist Mujahideen Khalq Organization have reportedly been sighted among the marines in American uniforms.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Pakistani officials are making it increasingly clear that they have no interest in stopping cross-border attacks by militants into Afghanistan, prompting a new level of frustration from Americans who see the infiltration as a crucial strategic priority in the war in Afghanistan.
In an unusual step during a visit to Pakistan in March, Adm. Eric T. Olson, the commander of United States Special Operations Command, held a round-table discussion with a group of civilian Pakistani leaders to sound them out on the possibility of cross-border raids by American forces. He was told in no uncertain terms that from the Pakistani point of view it was a bad idea, said one of the participants.
“Pakistan will take care of its own problems, you take care of Afghanistan on your side,” said Owari Ghani, the governor of North-West Frontier Province, who is also President Pervez Musharraf’s representative in charge of the neighboring tribal areas.
Mr. Ghani, a key architect of the pending peace accord, believes along with many other Pakistani leaders that the United States is floundering in the war in Afghanistan. Pakistan, he said, should not be saddled with America’s mistakes, especially if a solution involved breaching Pakistan’s sovereignty, a delicate matter in a nation where sentiment against the Bush administration runs high.
“Pakistan is a sovereign state,” he said. “NATO is in Afghanistan; it’s time they did some soldiering.”
Last week John D. Negroponte, the deputy secretary of state, used perhaps the strongest language yet against Pakistan, saying that the United States found it “unacceptable” that extremists used the tribal areas to plan attacks against Afghanistan, the rest of the world and Pakistan itself.
In their meetings, Mr. Khattak said, it was hard to deter the Americans from the notion of launching their own operations into Pakistan. The topic came up “again and again,” he said.
The Iranian Intelligence Ministry busted a CIA-backed terror group that was planning to bomb scientific, educational, and religious centers, and carry out assassinations, according to a report in the Tehran Times. The arrests come weeks after Ret. Gen. Thomas McInerney urged the U.S. to carry out terror bombings in Iran.
In the framework of the discussions, Harel also met with the chiefs of staff from 13 different countries. Iran’s nuclear developments and its involvement in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip, arose in each of the respective meetings.
Political officials in Jerusalem said on Saturday, that Israel and the US agreed on vigorous activity against Iran’s nuclear program. According to them, the treatment of the Iranian threat will be much more effective after all the options are placed on the table and the Iranians need to be much more worried now.
Washington must assert to the rest of the world that if they want to be friends with America, they need to do more to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, visiting US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Sunday in an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post.
The US cannot stop nuclear proliferation alone, Pelosi said, adding that "if these weapons proliferate, they are a threat to everyone, not just to the US, and not just to Israel."
This can't just be a "conversation," she said, "it has to be seriously enforced and sanctioned, because the alternative is one that has a tremendous downside - and that would be to use military force."
"We owe you a great deal of gratitude," she said, "because in resisting weapons of mass destruction, Israel was not only looking after her own security interests but those of the rest of the world."
Referring to the Jewish state as a beacon of democracy, she said that Israel and the US shared the same vision of the future.
Pointing to Iran's nuclear program, Kissinger said the international community had to define 'nuclear capability' and once it is defined, they had to set a timetable and impose meaningful sanctions on the country.
"There is no point talking about unacceptability without defining specific proposals and significant sanctions," Kissinger said in a conference in Jerusalem.
"We are saying that (we have no evidence about Iran's manufacturing of nuclear bomb) and we can't know the intentions of Iran in future," El-Baradei addressed a World Economic Forum's (WEF) session about new strategies to achieve stability.
He said the Arab countries must cooperate to tackle problems in the Middle East without foreign interference.
The fact of the matter is that Israel is using nuclear blackmail against the U.S. Essentially, Israel is saying that if we don't agree to use our nuclear weapons against Iran, then they will use theirs. Israel is determined to keep its monopoly on nuclear weapons in the Middle East and is using its nuclear arsenal to force the U.S. to support its demand. It's time for our politicians to refuse to be blackmailed into a policy that is detrimental to achieving our goal of a nuclear-free Middle East. Most importantly, the U.S. must resist being pushed into attacking Iran to preserve Israel's nuclear monopoly.
It is time to deal openly with Israel's nuclear weapons. We need to recognize that the epicenter of the nuclear arms race in the Middle East is Israel's secret bomb factory, 250 feet underground in the Negev desert. The U.S. must join with the international community in opening Israel's nuclear weapons program to inspection and monitoring.
The only way to secure a nuclear-free Middle East is to have every nation in the region play by the same book of rules, and this must include Israel.
An increasing number of commentators have pointed out that Israel, and the zionists in america who give primary loyalty to the jews-only state, are at the forefront of the campaign to push america into a war against iran. However, which country, america or the jews-only state, would initiate an attack on iran is a matter of speculation.
If iran is attacked by missiles launched from the jews-only state’s submarines then iran can blame america for financing these weapons.
In the following analysis the phrase zionist occupied government war will be used to cover all three options for the initial attack on iran. There are virtually no significant political or military differences between a war against iran that is initiated by the zionist occupied government of america or by the jews-only state in palestine or by both.
Even as Defense Ministry officials said Sunday that Israel was likely to accept the Gaza Strip cease-fire deal brokered by Egypt, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in a meeting with a high-level US congressional delegation, did not mention the cease-fire and talked instead about a possible large-scale military incursion.
When asked during an interview with The Jerusalem Post afterward whether Israel would be justified in launching a widespread incursion into Gaza, Pelosi said that "Israel makes its own decisions about its own security. I would hope that it is something that could have been avoided by other means. Minister Barak was very direct in his presentation to us about what the possibilities were."
In a related development, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who threatened to resign if an agreement were not reached within six months, said that a deadlock in peace negotiations would strengthen extremists and would likely bring the Middle East back to "the tragedy of 2000 that followed the failure at Camp David."
The White House had given the green light to Israel to attack Lebanon's Hezbollah on May 11th, Israeli intelligence sources have revealed.
May eleven was the day when Hezbollah forces were engaged in street battles with opposition militiamen in Beirut and other Lebanese regions.
"Israel failed to grasp a historic opportunity to get rid of one of its four enemies (Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, and Hamas). This would certainly lead to the destruction of Hezbollah," DEBKA quoted a senior US military source as saying.
Olmert, Barak and Livni decided not to intervene and cancelled the operation at the last moment. The decision outraged hawkish echelons in the Bush administration.
Israel is skeptical that a cease-fire with Hamas will be reached and, therefore, the IDF is preparing for a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said in recent closed-door meetings while adding that he is letting the process play out in order to show respect for the Egyptian leadership.
During their meeting, Barak also stressed Israel's position that Schalit's release must be part of any cease-fire deal with Hamas in Gaza.
A cease-fire, he said, would only be accepted by Israel after a complete cessation of terrorist activity by Hamas and other terror factions, as well as a stop to the smuggling of weapons from the Sinai into Gaza.
"The present economic sanctions on Iran have exhausted themselves," Olmert was quoted as saying in the meeting Tuesday.
"The international community must impose tougher sanctions against Tehran."
Olmert also spoke about imposing air travel restrictions which he said would prevent Iranian business people "from landing anywhere in the world which would touch off pressure on the regime," according to Haaretz.
Rafi Eitan, a member of Olmert's security cabinet, told public radio Wednesday that "a blockade of maritime and air routes against Iran is a good possibility."
Israel, which is believed to be only, if undeclared, nuclear armed state in the Middle East, is also pushing for tougher sanctions against Tehran, especially from European countries.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has proposed in discussions with the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, that a naval blockade be imposed on Iran as one of several ways to pressure Iran into stopping its uranium enrichment program.
Although the White House denied a published report that U.S. President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term in January, the Bush administration is said not to have ruled out entirely the possibility of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Olmert is scheduled to fly to Washington in two weeks for another working meeting with Bush that will focus on the Iranian issue. During Bush's visit last week, he met with Olmert privately, as well as together with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to discuss the options for dealing with Iran's nuclear program.
Senior government officials in Jerusalem said they were satisfied with the talks and Bush's speech in the Knesset on Iran. They said they believed Bush would make good on his declarations.
The United States slipped from 96th last year, but was still ahead of foe Iran which ranked 105th. It, however, lagged Belarus, Cuba, South Korea, Chile, Libya and others which were listed as more peaceful.
Iraq, which the United States invaded in 2003, leading to the toppling of Saddam Hussein, ranked lowest on the index. Afghanistan was also in the bottom five, along with Sudan, Somalia and Israel.
The White House on Tuesday flatly denied an Army Radio report that claimed US President George W. Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term. It said that while the military option had not been taken off the table, the administration preferred to resolve concerns about Iran's push for a nuclear weapon "through peaceful diplomatic means."
In an interview last week in the Oval Office, Bush told the Post that "Iran is an incredibly negative influence" and "the biggest long-term threat to peace in the Middle East," but that the US was "pushing back hard and will continue to do so."
Speaking at a session of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, ElBaradei reiterated the International Atomic Energy Agency has no evidence that Iran is seeking to develop an atomic bomb.
"We haven't seen indications or any concrete evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon and I've been saying that consistently for the last five years," ElBaradei asserted.
Iran has repeatedly stated that as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is entitled to enriching uranium, which will provide fuel for the country's under-construction nuclear power plants.
However, the US president's flagrant disregard for international reports on Iran indicates his determination to drum up support for an act of aggression against the Islamic Republic.
Though she tried to avoid commenting on the presidential campaign, Rice told reporters that the United States and other powers agreed on what she considers a common, effective approach to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
"I will note that the Iranian problem is not just America's problem, it is an international issue, and it is an issue on which the international community is united in confronting Iran with choices before it," Rice said.
And Iran has paid an economic price with the "drying up" of international investment in its oil industry, economic infrastructure and export credits, the secretary of state said.
"I think this is called a successful multilateral coalition of states that have the same view" that Iran should be rewarded for its cooperation or isolated for its defiance, Rice said.
"Thanks to George Bush's policy, Iran is the greatest threat to the United States and Israel and the Middle East for a generation. John McCain wants to double down on that failed policy," Obama said.
An Israeli press report that US President George W. Bush intends to launch a military attack on Iran before he leaves office at the beginning of next year prompted a heated denial from the White House Tuesday.
“A senior member of the president’s entourage said during a closed meeting that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action was called for,” the article quoted an Israel official as saying.
Later on Tuesday, however, Bush’s spokesperson Dana Perino was pressed by several reporters, who expressed skepticism in regard to the denial. “Do the President and the Vice President feel that an attack is called for—whether someone said that in Israel, or not?” asked one.
Dana Perino refused to answer, reiterating the official position that Washington is working to resolve its confrontation with Iran “diplomatically” but that it would not take any “options off the table.”
In reality, the Jerusalem Post story is hardly the only indication that the Bush administration is preparing for a military attack on Iran.
Ample physical evidence exists in the stepped up US military deployments in the region, with the Navy once again having two aircraft carrier battle groups—the USS Lincoln and the USS Harry S. Truman—within striking distance of Iran.
Meanwhile, the flagship of the 6th Fleet, the USS Mount Whitney, has been deployed off the coast of Lebanon, in what the Navy has described as an “unscheduled mission.” The ship is the Navy’s most advanced command, control and intelligence vessel, capable of coordinating a major attack over a wide region. It joined the USS Cole, a missile destroyer, already there.
The tentative plan would give great leverage to chamber Republicans and would probably doom billions of dollars in domestic programs, including 13 weeks of additional unemployment benefits for the jobless, and funding to heating subsidies, fighting Western wildfires and aid to rural schools, among many programs backed by senators in both parties.
In exchange, GOP leaders would allow a vote on a big expansion of education benefits for veterans under the GI Bill. It's virtually certain to pass, despite a veto threat by the White House.
In Jisr Diyala, southeast of Baghdad, Ellerson leads an 11-man squad responsible for getting a 3,000-officer police force into fighting shape.
The advisers say the National Police’s 3rd Brigade has grown by leaps and bounds in the past six months. The goal is to have the unit stand on its own in the next year, with Army advisers serving in a scaled-back "tactical overwatch" mode.
"A lot of people think this should happen overnight, but that’s not how it works," Ellerson said.
The position of Gen. David Petraeus, nominated to assume control of U.S. forces in the Middle East, and Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, picked to replace Petraeus as the top commander in Iraq, all but guarantees that some 140,000 troops will be committed in Iraq for the remainder of the year.
The two Army generals were set to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee, giving Democrats a chance to sharply question them on when more troops might come home and whether the U.S. war effort in Iraq has aggravated the violence there.
Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan are all likely to feature as senators consider Petraeus' nomination to run U.S. Central Command, the headquarters responsible for an unstable swath of the world that includes the Middle East, Central Asia and East Africa.
Petraeus has accused Iran of training Iraqi Shi'ite militant groups and supplying them with weapons to attack and kill U.S. troops. But he has avoided saying whether he favors direct U.S. military action inside Iran.
In the face of persistent speculation the Bush administration may go to war with Iran and U.S. allegations that Iranian small boats have harassed U.S. Navy vessels in the Gulf, he is likely to be pressed on that point Thursday.
The House would be unlikely to act until Congress returns from a one-week recess.
The war funding measure has had a remarkably chaotic journey through Congress. It's been delayed for weeks as Democrats tried to figure out ways to structure debate to allow themselves to vote against financing the war in Iraq but still ensure that it passes.
The unusual procedure in both House and Senate allowed separate votes on components of the measure to allow Democrats and a few Republicans to tack domestic programs onto Bush's war request, while Republicans would supply the votes to adopt the war funding.
Republicans say the process is unfair, and when the House debated the war funding measure last week, angry Republicans sat out the vote and combined with anti-war Democrats to kill the war funding. But the House easily passed the GI Bill improvements, an increase in unemployment benefits and restrictions on Bush's ability to conduct the war in Iraq.
In the Senate, members of the Appropriations Committee added more than $10 million in discretionary funding not requested by Bush, including funding for grants to state and local police departments, $1 billion for energy subsidies for the poor and more than $1 billion to help Mississippi recover from Hurricane Katrina.
Reid always held a dim view of the domestic extras, knowing they would guarantee a veto and reinforce perceptions that Senate is too profligate. Indeed, Appropriations Committee members treated the war funding bill like the last train leaving the station, and, as a result, added billions of dollars for pet programs.
For instance, Congress including in the domestic-programs amendment a provision that would help pave the way for undocumented agriculture workers to win legal status, an amendment that could reopen Congress’ rancorous debate over immigration policy.
The supporters of the so-called Ag-Jobs measure, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho), say the five-year program is needed to keep farms operating and crops growing. The provision was added by a 17-12 vote.
But critics say that it amounts to amnesty for people who entered the country illegally, and warn that it could imperil support for the underlying bill.
Other immigration measures were added as well, including one by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who sought a three-year extension on a returning worker provision under H-2B visas, which she said was necessary to save seasonal businesses like seafood companies. That amendment has the support of Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.).
The agriculture ministry in the PA legitimate government in Gaza Strip asserted on Wednesday that the IOF troops had bulldozed vast agricultural areas in the eastern sector of the Gaza Strip which is considered the food basket of the 1.5 million Palestinians living there.
The report, furthermore, added that Palestinian farmers in Qarara and Al-Buraij areas, east of Deir Al-Balah city, weren’t able to reach and cultivate their farms for fear that the IOF troops stationed opposite to their farms could shoot and kill them "in cold blood" any time.
In this concern, the AEQ urged the international community and all concerned organizations to immediately intervene and pressure the occupation to stop its aggression against the Gaza Strip and its people.
Israel set terms for concluding a peace deal with Syria on Thursday, closing ranks with Washington in demanding Damascus distance itself from Iran and stop supporting Palestinian and Lebanese militants.
Coordinated announcements on Wednesday by Israel and Syria that they had begun indirect talks in Turkey, the first confirmation of negotiations between the long-time enemies in eight years, drew a lukewarm response from the United States.
Many analysts say U.S. hostility to Damascus, and to its Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah allies, makes a Syria-Israel deal unlikely before President George W. Bush steps down in January.
Syrian Information Minister Muhsin Bilal condemned Israel's setting of any prior conditions.
Others wondered aloud if Wednesday's announcement was not timed to divert attention from Olmert's troubles with the police. They will interview him for a second time, on Friday, over suspicions he took bribes from an American businessman.
The deal to end Lebanon's long stalemate allows a triumphant Hezbollah and its allies back into the government after street fighting reminiscent of the 1975-1990 civil war. Hezbollah patrons Iran and Syria praised the agreement, which seems certain to strengthen Iran's hand as it vies for influence in Iraq and across the Middle East.
"It's a necessary and positive step," said David Welch, the top U.S. diplomat for the Middle East. "It's not for us to decide how Lebanon does this."
For most observers, the deal appeared "a pretty straightforward win" for Hezbollah, in the words of Paul Salem, the Beirut-based head of the Middle East Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
But he noted: "The flip side is that it would usher in a period of accommodation and calm and stability" in Lebanon. That could help calm other parts of the Mideast, given Lebanon's frequent role as a proxy for regional battles.
The agreement struck in Qatar does not force Hezbollah to give up its weapons, putting no restraints on its ability to obtain rockets and bury them in south Lebanon for potential use against Israel.
Overall, there are only two likely brakes on some future Hezbollah action against Israel.
One would be a Syrian-Israeli peace deal, which would push the Syrian-backed Hezbollah toward accommodation with Israel. Syria and Israel confirmed Wednesday they are holding indirect talks but many obstacles remain in the way.
The second possible brake is the fact that Hezbollah is now compelled to work within Lebanon's government, rather than against it, in a country with a multitude of sects and shifting alliances.
An Iraqi television station accused U.S. troops on Thursday of shooting dead one of its cameramen as he walked to his Baghdad home.
The U.S. military has said its troops shot dead 11 militants, but police and several residents said at least some of the dead were civilians killed by U.S. snipers.
"Wisam was one of our most prominent cameramen. His killers have no values or humanity," the station's director, Mohammed Thiab al-Baidhani, said. "We will loudly condemn those who kill journalists."
A spokesman for the U.S. military in Baghdad, Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Stover, denied any civilians were killed during Wednesday's military operation in Obaidi.
Eight civilians have been killed in an air strike by US military helicopters north of Baghdad, Iraqi police say.
Two children were among those who died in the attack on Wednesday evening near the town of Baiji, the police said.
Baiji's police chief said the attack targeted a group of shepherds in a farming area. The US military said the incident was under investigation.
In a press statement, the US military said it regretted the loss of innocent civilian lives.
Heavy gunfire broke out Wednesday along the administrative border separating Georgia and its breakaway region of Abkhazia, wounding several people who were trying to vote in parliamentary elections, Georgian officials said.
Tensions between Georgia and Abkhazia — which broke away from Georgian government control in the 1990s — have escalated in recent weeks amid mutual accusations that each side is preparing military action. Russia, which has long supported Abkhazia, has bolstered peacekeeping forces in the region and also accused Georgia of preparing for war.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's ruling party is being challenged in Wednesday's election by opposition forces embittered by a violent crackdown on protesters last year and a presidential ballot earlier this year they claim was fraudulent.
The United States and the European Union are watching the election closely because of Georgia's frayed ties with Moscow and because of its location on an export route for Caspian Sea oil and gas.
Saakashvili is a staunch U.S. ally who has angered Russia by his drive to gain NATO membership for Georgia.
Some Zimbabweans are also going home, preferring to risk the violence there than stay in South Africa.
At least 42 people have been killed and some 15,000 have sought shelter from the mobs, who blame foreigners for high crime and unemployment.
... attacks have been reported in North-West province for the first time, after violence in Durban in recent days.
The police have used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowds.
"I think Zimbabwe is safe."
Some three million Zimbabweans are believed to be in South Africa, fleeing poverty and violence at home.
Kgalema Motlanthe, secretary general of the ruling ANC, on Wednesday said many of the immigrants were able to get jobs in South Africa because they were better qualified than the locals, whose education was disrupted by apartheid.
He said there was an "envy from South African sisters and brothers, who did not have the opportunity to acquire this education or skills.
"We need to address the young generation without skills in order to enable them to make a living."
Pakistan's government promised to "gradually" pull out troops from the northwestern valley of Swat after signing a peace agreement with Taliban militants on Wednesday.
The deal was done a day after the United States advised its ally against negotiating with militants, saying it could give them breathing space to plot attacks in Pakistan and abroad.
Pakistan has cut peace deals in the past but critics, including western allies, have complained that these resulted in militants regrouping and intensifying cross-border attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.
"We'll reserve judgment," U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington, stressing the United States did not want militants to be able to use any part of Pakistan to launch attacks at home or abroad.
Insurgents launch almost daily attacks on Ethiopian forces propping up Somalia's shaky transitional government.
The Ethiopians have been in Somalia since spearheading a U.S.-backed invasion in late 2006 that toppled an Islamic government in Mogadishu.
Peace talks that began last week stalled without any significant dialogue between the two sides.
Somalia was racked by violence Tuesday, as suspected Islamist insurgents killed government soldiers and seized territories throughout the capital, Mogadishu, in a backlash against a US missile strike earlier this month that killed a leader who the US says had links to Al Qaeda. Further highlighting the deteriorating law-and-order situation, two foreign aid workers were kidnapped at gunpoint from the capital.
The incidents came just a week after peace talks sponsored by the United Nations failed to produce an agreement between Islamist forces and the Somalian government.
Violence has been growing in Somalia since 2006, when neighboring Ethiopia, with support from Washington, launched a military operation inside Somalia to oust an Islamist movement that had seized control of the capital and other cities, Voice of America reports.
Islamist insurgents launch almost-daily attacks on Somali government forces and allied Ethiopian troops. More than a year of fighting has killed thousands of Somalis and displaced hundreds of thousands more, mostly from Mogadishu.
U.N.-sponsored talks in Djibouti aimed at starting a reconciliation process between Somalia's secular government and Islamist-led rivals ended last week without a breakthrough. A political reconciliation is considered key to restoring stability in the war-ravaged nation. But as VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu reports from our East Africa Bureau in Nairobi, growing divisions within the warring parties are complicating peace efforts as Somalia continues to sink deeper into an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.
U.N. experts investigating violations of an arms embargo against Somalia report that countries and private traders are supplying weapons to warlords and militants, South Africa's U.N. ambassador said Thursday.
Dumisani Kumalo, who chairs the Security Council committee monitoring the sanctions, said the experts concluded that "Somalia is affected by a war economy with great profits made by military commanders who therefore have little incentive to change the status quo."
In past reports, the U.N. monitors have said almost a dozen countries were supplying arms or cash to the warring parties in Somalia.
The U.N. experts are currently investigating the links between piracy, which is rampant off Somalia's coast, and arms trafficking, Kumalo said.
He said the experts also reported that "elements" of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia and the country's transitional government were involved in illegal trafficking.
In a few days, all of us on this wretched continent will be celebrating African Union Day. May 26th will be a public holiday in almost every country - except in Morocco, which is not a member of the AU. It’s a commemoration that is supposed to remind us to focus on the need to unite as one big nation. After all, they say, we are one people – torn apart by colonialism and slavery.
I am looking forward to May 26th. Who doesn’t like a public holiday? But I’m so not looking forward to what that day represents – one big United Republic of Africa. I am very sure it will not happen in my lifetime. Just about a year ago, when African leaders gathered in Accra they chose to turn a blind eye to all the major challenges confronting the continent at the time. Darfur was on fire, Mugabe was delighting himself by plunging his country deeper into economic and political chaos and Somalia was (and still is) every brute’s paradise.
Finkelstein landed at Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv in the early morning and was told by a representative of the ministry of interior that he would not be allowed into the country on ’security’ grounds...
Finkelstein, who is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors, has written critical books on Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories and on what he called ‘exploitation’ of the Jewish tragedy during World War II.
Google is not satisfied with just shutting down anti zionist blogs…. their virus has spread. New targets are now sites that speak of US and UK war crimes in Iraq….
Action Alert! Uruknet, one of the most important sources of un-censored news about the occupied Palestinian territories and the Iraq war was removed from Google News on April 24, 2008, and was recently hacked. They are still on line providing important news, but your support is needed. Please visit this link: www.uruknet.de..., and send a speedy form letter to google.news. Ask that Uruknet and the other sites be reinstated. The above sites recognize the genocidal repression of the Palestinian people that is being carried out by Israel. A small but very vocal group known as Zionists wants to silence this information. PLEASE POST THIS APPEAL.
Is it true? Are 9/11 activists really anti-semites?
... many of the leading members of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and other groups questioning 9/11 are Jewish. As are some of the other prominent individuals who have called for a deeper investigation into the events of 9/11. Indeed, some of the most-committed and hard-working 9/11 activists, such as Jon Gold and many others, are Jewish.
Moreover, the charges of anti-semitism are clearly illogical. For example, a book has been labelled as anti-semitic even though its co-editor is Jewish and it contains contributions from 4 Jewish writers.
So that must mean that these are "self-loathing" Jews, right? No, actually.
From an Apache helicopter, Capt. Ben Katzenberger's battlefield resembles a vast mosaic of tiny brown boxes.
He uses a powerful lens to zoom in on tiny silhouettes, trying to identify people with "hostile intent" among hundreds of ordinary citizens in Baghdad.
In recent weeks, Katzenberger and other pilots have dramatically increased their use of helicopter-fired missiles against enemy fighters, often in densely populated areas. Since late March, the military has fired more than 200 Hellfire missiles in the capital, compared with just six missiles fired in the previous three months.
The military says the tactic has saved the lives of ground troops and prevented attacks, but the strikes have also killed and wounded civilians, provoking criticism from Iraqis.
The U.S. military said in a statement that it had targeted men linked to a suicide bombing network. "Unfortunately, two children were killed when the other occupants of the vehicle, in which they were riding, exhibited hostile intent," the statement said.
Many residents described the recent military operations in Sadr City as indiscriminate attacks. Civilian deaths and damage to homes were key reasons Sadrist leaders demanded that U.S. troops remain on the sidelines of an Iraqi Army incursion into Sadr City this week that has significantly reduced violence there.
The pilots sometimes scrawl messages on the five-foot-long missiles strapped to their "birds." During a recent visit to the base, a reporter saw a missile addressed to "Haji," an honorific for people who have made the pilgrimage to Mecca. Many U.S. soldiers use it to refer dismissively to Iraqis and Arabs in general.
"They are occupiers and they consider whoever is in the city to be an enemy to them!" she said. "They came for the destruction of the country and this is what they are doing."
Many residents described the recent military operations in Sadr City as indiscriminate attacks. Civilian deaths and damage to homes were key reasons Sadrist leaders demanded that U.S. troops remain on the sidelines of an Iraqi Army incursion into Sadr City this week that has significantly reduced violence there.
"Those responsible for the attack against the Shiraz mosque have confessed to having links to worldwide oppression, in particular the United States and Israel," Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi was quoted by the agency as saying.
Iran has already accused Britain and the United States of training and financing those behind the bombing. In the past it has also blamed US and British agents based in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan for launching attacks on border provinces with significant ethnic minority populations.
Listening to the questions asked of Gen. David Petraeus in the Senate Thursday, you might think the U.S. was headed for a new war in the Gulf. Senators from both sides of the aisle spent as much time asking him about Iran as they did about Iraq and Afghanistan. Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut grilled Petraeus on Iran's anti-U.S. activities in the region.
Republican candidates on Capitol Hill, already facing their worst electoral prospects in a generation, are equally disinclined to support military action against Iran. Even Bush's own cabinet officials, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have been repeatedly cool to the idea in public.
"A military option is not a good option," for dealing with Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions, a senior Israeli official told TIME on the sidelines of one of Bush's meetings, "But there's only one thing worse than that, which is Iran going nuclear." Those outside the Israeli government express even greater urgency. "I'm worried that by November it's going to be too late," to stop Iran from gaining the ability to produce nuclear weapons, said Yossi Kuperwasser, the former senior intelligence officer for the Central Command of the Israeli Defense. On military action against nuclear sites in Iran, he said, "Just do it. For Christ's sake, do it and solve our problem."
The CIA has denied any direct ties with the group, but U.S. officials tell ABC News U.S. intelligence officers frequently meet and advise Jundullah leaders, and current and former intelligence officers are working to prevent the men from being sent to Iran.
"The U.S. is behind many events in Iran and the region with the aim of bringing insecurity," the intelligence minister reportedly said. "We have proper documentations in this regard," the minister told the news agency's reporters.
A senior U.S. official said Iran's claims "are nonsense, ludicrous."
The alleged abuses came in the aftermath of a bloody firefight in Iraq in 2004 which led to the deaths of at least 20 Iraqi civilians. The so-called Battle of Danny Boy has led to allegations that soldiers covered up the alleged torture and execution of civilians.
The revelation that a boy was the victim of alleged brutality will raise fresh concerns about why the 'hooding' of prisoners of war - a practice banned by former Prime Minister Edward Heath more than 30 years ago - was still taking place in Iraq.
... nothing, can compare in its ugliness as his approval, as commander in chief, of the imprisoning of over 2500 children.
According to the US government’s own figures, that is how many kids 17 years and younger have been held since 2001 as "enemy combatants"—often for over a year, and sometimes for over five years. At least eight of those children, some reportedly as young as 10, were held at Guantanamo. They even had a special camp for them there: Camp Iguana.
Treaties don’t mean much to this president, to the vice president, or to the rest of the administration, but they should mean something to the rest of us.
For these crimes, the president should today be impeached by the Congress and then tried as a war criminal.
After watching this Congress cower from its responsibility to defend the Constitution, I have little hope of that happening.
The country's top rights body meanwhile reiterated its finding that the troops had used excessive force in the March 4 incident in Nangarhar and the United Nations said it was disappointed no one was held accountable.
"The United Nations has always made clear that there must be increased transparency and accountability of all parties to this conflict if we are to retain the trust and confidence of the Afghan people," spokesman Aleem Siddique said.