These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 8, 2011.
Friday, 8 July 2011
That Fiasco In Libya
In Libya, a Western "victory" -- defined as a weakening of the Camp of Islam -- will come not from the settlement of some contest between the forces depicted in the Western press as those of Good (anti-Qaddafy) and Bad (pro-Qaddafy) , but from the diversion of local resources -- men, money, materiel, attention -- to that contest itself. These wars or rebellions in Libya, Syria, Yemen should, ideally, go on forever.
Libyan defector thinks rebels ill-equipped to take Tripoli
He says a quick rout of Khadafy’s forces is unlikely
RUJBAN, Libya - For months now, military leaders in the Libyan rebel capital, Benghazi, have boldly predicted lightning advances by their fighters and an imminent rout of the forces loyal to Moammar Khadafy in Tripoli that would finally snuff out his brutal four-decade rule.
The rebels have made some advances in the west in recent days, taking a small village and pushing westward some distance from Misurata toward Tripoli. But a senior rebel military officer here in the mountains who said he defected from the Libyan army last month called the prospects of a collapse by the Khadafy forces highly unlikely.
The officer, Colonel Mohammed Ali Ethish, who now commands opposition fighters here, said that even if the rebels were able to reach Tripoli, shortages of fuel, personnel, and weapons made it unlikely that they would try to invade or march on the heavily fortified city.
A more realistic possibility, he said, is for rebels and others within the city to rise up against Khadafy. “I hope that when we do reach the borders of Tripoli, the revolutionaries there free it,’’ Ethish said. “If we don’t go in with an organized army, there’s going to be a huge mess.’’
In the meantime, he said, the mountain fighters were focused on the more modest goal of winning cities in the region, either by persuading Khadafy’s soldiers to defect or by driving them out in battle.
His candid comments raised the possibility of a protracted endgame in the Libyan conflict. They also provided little comfort to NATO countries that face increasing pressure to end the bombing campaign and seem desperate to find a quick exit, either by arming the rebels or by killing Khadafy with air strikes.
Although Ethish said he was speaking for the fighters from Rujban, rebel fighters from other mountain towns also said that talk of a Tripoli offensive was premature because they had their hands full on several fronts.
To the east, they have been fighting in the city of Kiklah, where at least five rebels were killed in clashes this week, commanders said. On Wednesday, the rebels pushed past Kiklah to capture Khadafy’s positions in a village, Qawalish. At least 13 pro-Khadafy soldiers and seven rebels were killed in that battle .
North of Kiklah, on the plain that leads toward Tripoli, the rebels have been engaged in a running battle with Khadafy’s forces in Bir al-Ghanim and have so far been unable to advance, despite NATO’s bombings.
Khadafy’s soldiers also control lowland towns stretching from the border with Tunisia to Qasr al-Hajj, leaving rebel control of the border crossing exposed and vulnerable to attack.
Ethish said the rebels were low on ammunition for the weapons they rely on in the quick, fluid battles in the mountains, including antiaircraft guns and small rocket launchers. He also said he had seen no evidence on the battlefield of arms the French said they had gave the rebels.
In several rebel-held mountain towns, new training centers are being constructed, with the aim of building the kind of disciplined forces that can cope with any chaos that follows the war, the colonel said.
In Kiklah, on the site of a former teachers college for women, hundreds of recruits will be trained to serve as a “protection force’’ for civilians in the event that Khadafy leaves power, according to a volunteer, a small-business owner who lives in the United States and who asked not to be identified.
“A lot of people are going to have a lot of anger,’’ he said. “We want to keep it under control.’’
Despite being one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world and being desperately poor, the south is potentially rich in oil supplies and could face threats to its borders.
Oxfam have expressed concerns that an expected UN protection force will be too small and leave the region unable to protect itself. A spokesman for the charity said: 'Some Security Council members want to limit the number of peacekeepers to less than 7,000. South Sudan is the size of Texas and has little capacity to protect its own population despite its commitment to do so,'
It's hoped the U.N. Security Council will approve the deployment of up to 7,000 peacekeepers in the south before independence is declared tomorrow. Adding to potential conflict, analysts fear a crackdown on non-Muslims in the North by Sudan's tyrannical President Omar al Bashir as part of plans to make Islam the only religion and Arabic the official language
Albino Gaw, 38, a member of a minority tribe who works for the government in Juba, said he was excited about the south's independence but pessimistic about how much work lay ahead.
Petraeus: Afghanistan Is "Not Hopeless"; Speaks Uncomprehendingly Of Having "Flipped" Iraq
From NBC News:
KABUL – After nearly four decades of military service, Gen. David Petraeus will be trading in his combat pants for some slacks as he assumes his new role as the director of the CIA later this year.
As Petraeus packs his bags to leave Afghanistan for Washington he spoke with NBC News in a one-on-one interview about America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It hasn’t been an easy year – or decade – for the general who is credited with helping turn the Iraq war around [what does this mean? How has the war been "turned around" and why is the result claimed to have been achieved better for America and Europe and the rest of the non-Muslim world?] and was then tapped by President Barack Obama to do the same in Afghanistan. He has been unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate for his next big job as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and will turn over command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan on July 18.
In 2005, the then-lieutenant general worked on an Afghan war assessment stating that the mission would likely continue for many years to come pointing to various factors including the fact that the country had already suffered through three-decades of war, resulting in extreme poverty and enormous suffering.
“There is extraordinary potential here but it's much more difficult to capitalize on, than in Iraq,” he said.
The success of the surge in Iraq was one of the reasons why Obama decided to implement a so-called “mini-surge” in Afghanistan beginning in December 2009 – adding around 30,000 additional troops to the fight, bringing the number up to just over 100,000 U.S. boots on the ground.
Petraeus believes that the Taliban’s momentum has been reversed since those troops hit the ground, but says there is still work to be done.
“It remains fragile and it does remain reversible – so this will take determination and steadfast purpose,” he said emphasizing that the Iraqi surge was not an exact blue print for Afghanistan.
“I never felt that we could flip Afghanistan the way were able to flip Iraq through a variety of activities during the surge,” he said.
And although Afghanistan has not been “flipped,” Petraeus does believe that there have been extraordinary improvements in many parts of the country.
“The situation here is very hard, without question, it has gotten progressively more difficult up until somewhere around last year – last fall – when we started taking back areas from the Taliban that matter enormously to them,” he said, including Mullah Omar’s hometown in Kandahar.
And while many Americans are frustrated by the ongoing level of violence in Afghanistan, Petraeus pointed out that the violence we are seeing Afghanistan is nowhere near what was experienced in Iraq.
“Iraq was completely out of control in a way that I don’t think Afghanistan has ever been,” he said.
He pointed to the fact that in Iraq there were 220 attacks per day at the height of the violence compared to the 50 or 60 per day in Afghanistan at its peak.
“The level of violence [in Iraq] was so horrific that you almost can’t imagine it now looking back.”
As Iraq continues to improve, Petraeus believes that Afghanistan is on the right track as well, pointing to the fact that the country is about a week away from seven provinces and municipalities being handed over to complete Afghan control.
“Afghanization is moving forward and that is indeed what we want to see happen over the course of the years between now and the end of 2014 when transition will be complete.”
As Petraeus prepares to leave Afghanistan he believes there can be success in what some see as the never ending war – once again pointing to lessons he learned in America’s other war.
“We used to say about Iraq that it was hard but not hopeless, there is similar sentiment about this. It is hard, but it’s certainly not hopeless.”
Al Jazeera And The Filmmakers Want Us To Sympathize -- But Why?
Here is a brief note about a movie, made by two French film-makers, about those Tunisian young men who keep trying to smuggle themselves into Europe. Tens of thousands have already managed to make it to Lamedusa, and you can see on Italian television -- but nothing on American television -- these splendid would-be additions to Europe rioting, and attacking, and destroying, buildings -- including a church -- on Lampedusa. Apparently they were enraged that they were not immediately allowed to proceed to the mainland of Europe,. to travel where they wanted, to take full advantage -- they know all about what they can get -- of the generous benefits European states make available to so-called "refugees."
Here is how Al Jazeera, that sly and powerful organ of Muslim Arab (Qatari) propaganda, describes the movie:
Despite the recent revolution, thousands of Tunisians are risking their lives in search of a new life in Europe.
In January 2011, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia's president, was ousted from office. Twenty-three years of brutal dictatorship had come to an end. But despite the celebrations, thousands of Tunisia's young men continue to risk their lives to travel to Europe, convinced their country has no future.
Haytem is one of them and he believes that there is nothing left for him in Tunisia. He is on his third attempt to make it to France aboard one of the overcrowded people smuggling boats that run between Tunisia and the Italian island of Lampedusa.
On his last attempt the ship he was travelling on sunk, drowning 31 of the 120 passengers. Haytem saved five people from drowning after the collision with another boat. But this experience has not lessened his ambitions to try again.
Under often life-threatening circumstances the film reveals the stories and desperation of young men who are prepared to die rather than put their faith in a homeland which they believe can never fulfill their dreams.
Just look at the language. "Thousands of young men risk their lives."
And one of those men has survived a boat sinking, a sinking in which he -- a certain Haytem -- "saved five people from drowning."
And Haytem concludes that "there is nothing left for him in Tunisia."
Conclusion: Despair of A Brave And Noble Man, willing to "risk his life" to get to Europe, to Italy, to France, and there to do exactly what? How many of these would-be arrivals intend to work like dogs, the way, for example, Italians who went to West Germany to work in the 1960s did, or as Portuguese immigrants did so in France in the 1950s, never taking a thing from the state and integrating, when they were permitted to stay, just fine, with no problems?
We have already seen, in the French news, some of these Tunisian arrivals. They're mad. They expect free this and free that, and they want, not jobs, but "wages" and "salaries." They expect all this, even though they have no training, many do not speak anything but Arabic (or some rudimentary French), are untrained, and hostile, not grateful, to those whose lands they are trying to invade -- not through armed might, but with a new Shield of Achilles -- the apparently invulnerable shield labelled "Refugee."
They are not refugees. They are not fleeing persecution. Only non-Muslims can claim "persecution" when they come from Muslim lands.
They are instead fleeing the MIsrule of Islam -- the despotism, and the economic backwardness that lack of true education, and inshallah-fatalism, and a civilization based on the notion that non-Muslims are there to be exploited, but when the non-Muslims are driven out, so there are none left to exploit, then Muslims should simply seek new pastures, in lands where non-Muslims live and prosper, thanks to their own legal and political and economic institutions and their attitudes, all so palpably lacking in Muslim lands, where men sit in cafes, sullenly, watching political programs on television, and playing tric-trac or other games, and smoking the hubble-bubble, or stand on street corners, looking for ways to engage in mischief and mayhem, often of a political color. Nowhere in the Muslim world does one see people getting up and going to work, en masse (there are always exceptions), and working at the rhythm that is customary in the comparatively well-run West and, some may think, even better-run East.
Al Jazeera is a propaganda station.
But shouldn't it attempt to explain why, after the end of the Ben Ali dictatorship, tens of thousands of young Tunisian males are trying to get to Europe?
Shouldn't it explain why the Tunisian focussed on says he has "no future in Tunisia."
What does he mean?
He means, but he can't admit it to himself, can't explain it to himself, that Islam explains the failure, the wretchedness, of all Muslim states that do not have the manna of oil revenues to rely on, to buy political peace and social contentment, of the crude kind.
He instead wants to go to Europe, not in order to work hard -- just look at the Arab areas of France, and how little work is done, and what a drain is the Muslim population, with its free education, free medical care, free or highly subsidized housing, all created by, and continuing to be paid by, the non-Muslim French taxpayers who, when their welfare system was set up, had in mind the poorer members of their own societies as the intended beneficiaries, and not usurpers, invaders, who arrived from abroad, hostile to everything that makes France France, and determined to take full advantage -- and then some -- of what was on offer.
The European Court of Human Rights has rejected appeals against a ban on the construction of new minarets in Switzerland.
Judges ruled that the plaintiffs – three Muslim organisations and a private citizen – were not victims of an alleged human rights violation.The Strasbourg-based court on Friday announced that the complaints by the applicants were not admissible.
“The main complaint was that a disputed constitutional provision offended their religious beliefs. However, they did not allege that it had had any practical effect on them,” the statement said. The applicants could not prove either that they were indirect victims because none of them was planning on building a mosque with a minaret in Switzerland in the near future, it added.
A majority of 57.5 per cent of Swiss voters came out in favour of the rightwing initiative in November 2009.
Nato alliance fears as Italy cuts back on Libya role
08 July 2011
By Nicole Winfield
ITALY will pull back its role in the Libya campaign, the country's defence minister said yesterday, bringing an aircraft carrier and hundreds of sailors home, in new evidence that a Nato alliance is starting to fray after nearly 100 days of bombing.
The drawdown will trim the cost of Italy's mission by a third after it spent €142 million in three months, defence minister Ignazio La Russa said. The aircraft carrier Garibaldi will be replaced by a smaller ship, freeing up nearly 1,000 military per
sonnel, though its three aircraft will be replaced by jets at Italian bases that would still fly missions.
The cutbacks were part of an overall trimming of Italy's military missions abroad, but it was read as the strongest signal yet of a growing weariness with the war among some Nato allies. The US House of Representatives recently voted overwhelmingly against giving President Barack Obama the authority to continue the military mission, though it stopped short of cutting off funds.
Premier Silvio Berlusconi is under pressure to withdraw from the Libya campaign from his key ally the Northern League, which has opposed the war because of the cost and fears of an influx of migrants.
Nato's campaign was originally intended to deliver a sharp, devastating military blow that would allow the opposition to quickly oust Muammar al-Gadhafi's regime. France, which led the first airstrikes in March, said yesterday it is determined to continue and will urge its parliament to extend the operation.
A Nato spokesman yesterday denied a Libyan government charge it is using its airstrikes to assist rebel advances, saying it is sticking to its mandate to protect civilians.
Wing Commander Mike Bracken, an alliance spokesman in Naples, Italy, said Nato is "not involved in the ground battles," although he acknowledged the alliance is tracking the fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Col Gaddafi.
Libya's deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim had accused Nato of intensifying its bombing campaign and backing foreign mercenaries to lay the groundwork for an advance by rebels. Mr Kaim said increased bombings in recent days represent the "final phase" of Nato's air campaign, but the push would fail.
The News of the World used to have the best football coverage in the country and did a package for weekly works football sweeps which my Dad found very useful when he was in charge of the one at his factory. It was even more use than me helping him every Sunday morning. For that reason my mother allowed the paper into the house, but I was forbidden to read it.
It was always noted for a less than wholesome interest in people’s ‘private’ functions. In the days of the Lord’s Chamberlains Office exercising a modicum of decorum over the media (it wasn’t called the media then, of course, I think we just called it by its individual names) it got the salacious details out there through the medium of the Court report, especially divorce cases in the days when a petitioner had to prove the respondent’s adultery. The observations of the private detective or the professional co-respondent were dying out by the time I had learnt to read, although the case of the Duchess of Argyll was one I couldn't help noticing, but I gather they livened many a post prandial rest in their day.
By the time I was forbidden the paper it was the swinging 60’s and Mick Jagger was believed to be doing all sorts of scandalous stuff with Marianne Faithful. Deep fried Mars bar anyone? The tradition of the snooze after the Sunday roast and maybe a couple of halves with my uncle was also kept up in our house. Which gave me a good half hour with all the human life (the slogan in this period was ‘All Human Life is Here! although I seem to remember several features on UFOs and alien abductions) while I was supposed to be cleaning out the budgie’s cage (my regular Sunday afternoon chore) and listening to John Peel.
All newsprint came off on the hands in those days but the NOTW was the worst of the lot. Not only did I have to replace the paper and assume an air of innocence before the adults woke, I frequently had to wash my grubby little hands. That’s why the budgies cage was good cover, and a few sheets of old newspaper were a necessary tool. It was a broadsheet in those days so the paper was very useful for wrapping purposes.
Looking back I don't know what had the most influence - the call of the law, or rock and roll? And it still took me a long time, several years, to understand my uncle's joke "What have Christine Truman and Christine Keeler got in common? A - they both have a racket".
In 1969 Murdoch bought the NOTW and the new (since 1964) kid on the block The Sun, invented Page 3, and things went from bad to worse. Other than a rather incongruous addition to the features - their own range of dressmaking patterns, none of which would fit me any more. I don’t know whether the football coverage declined, or the coverage in other papers improved, but I have never taken it since I set up my own home.
The staff are the people I feel sorry for. Not the journalists but the setters (or whatever they are called in the digital age) and packers and stationery clerks.
There has been a reputable local paper called the Sunday Sun in the North East for years. But how long until the Sun on Sunday or the New World Sun or some such explodes onto the news stands?
I give it three weeks.
A no such thing as co-incidence interlude. The London Evening Standard accompanys its lunchtime piece on the demise of the NOTW with a picture of a printer checking a copy from 1953. The headline? Five Weeks Change the Face of the Sudan, presumably a reference to the perod of Sudan's first democratic elections prior to independence. This the day before South Sudan achieves independence from the north after particularly nasty Civil war.
Israeli Pro-Palestinian Activist at Ben Gurion Airport
The Free Gaza Movement flotilla has fizzled for all intents and purposes, thanks to Greek, Cypriot and Israeli government and NGO actions that we have posted on The Iconoclast. The fly in of more than 700 Palestinian activists, given the nickname of “Flightilla”, has for all intents and purposes flopped, as well. No-fly lists of 347 passengers with long purchased tickets attempting to fly from points in North and South America and Europe have been turned back at origination and transit airports in Europe. In Israel last night two Americans were detained upon arrival and deported. Protests at several European airports and by Israeli pro-Palestinian activists at Ben Gurion airport tried to give the impression that Israeli authorities were arbitrarily barring them from travel to the West Bank, let alone Gaza. It is all about the occupation these International and Israeli leftists, argue. Actually, it is all about Israel’s security.
Two passenger aircrafts that landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Friday afternoon have been diverted to Terminal One for "more thorough checks" amid police preparations for the arrival of pro-Palestinian activists expected to try to enter the country as part of the "air flotilla," Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.
Police believe a bulk of foreign pro-Palestinian activists are on those jets and they will be scrutinized closely by immigration officials at airports.
Meanwhile, six left-wing Israeli activists were arrested after causing a disturbance in the arrivals area at Terminal Three police added.
"Five males and one female are being questions," Rosenfeld said.
The activists held up signs inside the terminal saying "Welcome to Palestine."
Several of them were taken outside by police where they were arrested and attacked by bystanders.
Earlier Friday, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said that even though hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists taking part in the "air flotilla" were prevented from entering Israel, "the wave was still ahead of us," adding that in the coming hours approximately 100 activists are expected to land in Israel.
"We're not taking any chances," the minister said.
Ahronovitch made the comments during an assessment held at Ben Gurion Airport on Friday morning together with police Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino and other senior police officials.
During the meeting, the latest security preparedness was discussed, and the minister heard that all security agencies were able to "significantly minimize" attempts by hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists abroad from reaching Israel, by preventing them from boarding at their point of origin, the Public Ministry said in a statement.
"At the same time, police preparations at Ben Gurion Airport is creating deterrence," the statement added. "The presence of undercover and overt forces at the airport has prevented many who sought to disturb public order from heading [to Israel]," the statement added.
Around 200 foreign activists are believed to have been banned from boarding flights bound for Israel in various European airports.
He added that "we have a list of some people who are planning to hold illegal demonstrations around the country."
At Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport, fifty pro-Palestinian activists arrived at the Lufthansa terminal hoping to board a flight to Israel, and then refused to leave the terminal after they were blocked from boarding the plane, Israel Radio reported.
Olivia Zemour, leader of the EuroPalestine organization that is arranging the "air flotilla," said that the blacklist includes names of 347 activists.
"Charles de Gaulle Airport is under Israeli occupation. We are peaceful people and have no interest in causing disorder at Ben Gurion Airport," Zemour was quoted by Israel Radio as saying.
In Geneva, EasyJet also refused to let 30 acitivists on board a flight to Israel.
This Fly In was not a cheap affair and someone or some anti-Israel groups were funding it at a cost of well over a million dollars. Just do the math. Each protester’s air ticket might have cost $500 or more, and then there were families bringing children for a ‘vacation’ in the West Bank. So, the mystery that needs to be solved is who put up the funds for this stunt?
Doubtless, the liberal media in the West will portray this as yet another example of Israeli intransigence about restrictions on travel by Internationals involved with trying to upend Israel’s air travel security system - perhaps the only effective one, given its procedures, including profiling. But that will be lost on the liberal media, who are only concerned about the faux nationhood demands of the Palestinian Authority and its tenuous ally, Hamas. Security for Israel is not a world media priority for attention grabbing news.
What we have is a media circus by the ‘concerned’ leftist enemies of the Jewish state. The real message with this fly-in flop and the fizzled flotilla is that international cooperation has torpedoed these faux humanitarian stunts by fellow travelers of the Palestinian cause. Jews who have organized and participated in these protests are afflicted with self-hatred. The irony is that the existence of a sovereign Jewish state with the means of defending itself has preserved the future of all Jews, even these traitorous ones, in the both Israel and the Diaspora.
WASHINGTON — More cities across the country are considered at high risk of a terrorist attack, according to a new list of funding priorities from the Homeland Security Department.
The department made 45 cities or regions eligible for a competitive counterterrorism grant program last year. This year, the list has been expanded to 60 areas that can apply for the nearly $782 million available, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The urban area grants are one of the department’s most popular — and most intensely debated — programs. The department divides the regions at highest risk of a terrorist attack into two tiers. The seven highest-risk areas — including Los Angeles, New York and Washington — will be competing for about $430 million this year. The remaining 53 will compete for about $352 million. The department plans to release the list Friday.
The list has grown and shrunk in recent years, based on decisions the department says are not the result of specific threats or concerns but that reflect an overall analysis of threat data.
Some regions on the list in the past were dropped more recently. For instance, Albany, N.Y., was put back on the list this year after being dropped in 2003.
Other regions added to the list this year are: Rochester, N.Y.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Austin and Round Rock, Texas; Baton Rouge, La.; Bridgeport, Stamford and Norwalk, Conn.; the Hartford, Conn., region; Louisville and Jefferson County in Kentucky and an adjoining area in Indiana; Nashville, Davidson County and Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Richmond, Va.; Riverside, San Bernardino and Ontario, Calif.; Salt Lake City; San Juan, Caguas and Guaynabo, Puerto Rico; and Toledo, Ohio.
Norwegian security police are seeking charges against three men suspected of planning Scandinavian bomb attacks in an alleged plot with possible al-Qaida connections, state broadcaster NRK reported on Friday.
Police Security Service (PST) personnel allege 39-year-old Uygur (China) Mikael Davud, David Jakobsen, 31, from Uzbekistan, and Iraqi Kurd Shawan Sadek Saeed Bujak, 37, plotted to bomb a Norwegian target. Mr Davud claims this was the Chinese Embassy.
The alleged terrorists, who originally came to Norway as asylum seekers, were arrested last year. Two were seized in a police raid in Oslo on July 8, whilst Mr Bujak was apprehended in Duisburg, Germany. Police extradited him to Norway a week later.
Subsequent investigations have revealed Mr Bujak admitted he planned to blow up Danish paper Jyllands-Posten, following its publication of Prophet Muhammad cartoons in 2005.
Mr Davud, in whose apartment near Ullevål University Hospital (UUS) police found enough explosive material to make one large or several smaller bombs for the Norwegian target, has admitted to some of the terrorism charges.
The Norwegian Police Security Service had no immediate comment when contacted by Reuters on Friday, and NRK did not say what charges the service proposed in a recommendation to Norway's prosecuting authority.
TAIZ, Yemen — Sheik Hamoud al-Makhlafi is prepared for war. Inside his palatial house, overlooking this tense city, more than 20 of his tribesmen stand guard with Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades; hundreds of other armed fighters are hidden nearby in neighborhoods wrested from government control.
“We are here to protect the youth of the revolution,” declared Makhlafi, 46, slim with short, gray speckled hair and a razor-thin mustache.
But the intervention of tribal militias in what had been a nonviolent revolution has added a combustible new dimension to the uprising in Yemen. The clash in Taiz has already turned portions of Yemen’s second-largest city into a war zone, and while the tribesmen claim to be protecting the activists, the change appears likely to bring more upheaval to this fractured Middle Eastern nation.
Over the weekend, violent clashes erupted again between the tribesmen and government forces, which included shelling of parts of the city, killing several people.
“Taiz is more of a time bomb now. It could explode at any minute,” said Ali Mohammed Almujahed, a senior ruling party official here. “Both sides are filled up with anger and hatred.”
Fueled by decades of neglect and resentment of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime, protesters in this south-central city, considered the intellectual soul of Yemen, rose up in February. Inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, they erected scores of tents in a section of Taiz they renamed Freedom Square, emulating Cairo’s Tahir — or Liberation — Square. Thousands camped out round-the-clock, staging rallies demanding the ouster of Saleh.
Since April, the government’s security forces have tried to suppress the rebellion, shooting dead dozens of protesters and preventing them from marching toward the city’s presidential palace and other government institutions. The crackdowns in recent weeks have emulated those used by autocrats in Syria and Bahrain, cracking down violently on protesters in an effort to intimidate the opposition.
May 29: A touchstone
For weeks, Makhlafi and other anti-government tribal leaders expressed support for the protesters but watched from the sidelines. Some were aligned with Yemen’s political opposition; others held long-standing grievances against the regime and sensed an opportunity to exert their power.
Then, on May 29, the security forces attacked Freedom Square. There are conflicting versions of what unfolded, but it remains a touchstone for all sides.
Activists say the soldiers opened fire on demonstrators and set fire to tents. As many as 140 were killed, the activists allege. They now refer to the day as “the Holocaust.” In a rare interview, Taiz’s head of security, Col. Abdullah Abdu Kayran, denied the allegations. He acknowledged that security forces entered the square but said they did not commit atrocities. He said eight people died that day.
Within hours of the attack, Makhlafi and other tribal leaders rose up and engaged the security forces in fierce clashes. The tribesmen hailed from villages on the outskirts of the city. Armed with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikovs, they knew the city’s streets and alleys well and had the loyalty of much of the population. That gave them a significant advantage over the security forces that were largely brought in from other parts of the country.
Buildings were destroyed; bodies lay on the streets. The tribesmen took control over large portions of the city, including 14 government buildings. The fighting intensified after Saleh was nearly assassinated in a June 3 attack on his presidential compound in the capital, Sanaa, forcing him to receive treatment in neighboring Saudi Arabia.
“Those who perpetrated the Holocaust should be confronted with the same weapon,” declared Sultan al-Samei, an influential tribal leader and opposition socialist lawmaker who dispatched his forces alongside Makhlafi’s. “It’s our natural right to defend ourselves.”
The muscle-flexing by a powerful anti-government tribe has kindled some mistrust among protesters and government loyalists alike.
Government officials describe Makhalfi as a pawn of Yemen’s traditional political opposition, in an effort to violently overthrow the government under the guise of protecting the demonstrators. Some youth leaders say they worry that the tribes could take over their populist rebellion and harness it to gain political influence.
But the youth leaders also say that without the protection of the tribes, their uprising would be stamped out violently by the regime.
“We are quite aware of the possibility that they could hijack our revolution, and we are keeping careful watch of this,” said Manal Abdulrahman, 25, an unemployed university graduate and activist. “Right now, we need them to get rid of President Saleh, his sons and nephews.”
A law graduate, Makhlafi once served as a political security officer in Saleh’s regime. He ran for local office in the 2006 elections but did not win. When the uprising began in February, he defected.
Among government officials, Makhlafi’s opponents describe the tribal leader as ambitious and ruthless. “His personal profile is full of crimes, killings and troublemaking,” said Mohammed Mansour al-Shawafi, the deputy governor of Taiz province. “He has no idea of democracy.”
But Makhlafi says he has no political aspirations. “I am not affiliated with any political party,” he said. “I am not interested in power."
Today, the city is gripped by a tense stalemate. A cease-fire negotiated by local leaders calls for the tribal militias and the security forces to withdraw from the city. But neither shows any signs of observing the pact.
Security forces still maintain a heavy presence in the city, manning checkpoints. Both sides trade accusations. Clashes still unfold and have taken on an ominous new dimension. “They are now targeting my tribe,” Makhlafi said, adding that six of his tribesmen have been killed and eight injured in recent weeks.
Under the terms of the cease-fire, Makhlafi’s men have recently handed back eight government buildings, under the terms of the cease-fire, but continue to hold on to the electricity department and judiciary complex. Makhlafi says they will not leave until the security forces withdraw to their barracks outside Taiz; Kayran, the local security chief, says that approach is out of the question.
Freedom Square today is virtually empty. Once covered by a sea of tents, only a few remain. The protests are still unfolding, but with smaller numbers and less intensity. Activists say the security forces continue to fire sporadically into the square, scaring protesters away. Massive fuel shortages are also preventing people from coming to the square. Government spies keep watch.
Youth leaders are determined to resurrect the momentum. Security and other committees are being reorganized. Facebook campaigns are underway to bring back protesters. “Taiz is still betting on the fall of the regime,” said Bushra al-Maktari, a protest leader. “The revolution is still here.”
Still, the soul of the uprising appears to have been permanently altered. Makhlafi said that at every demonstration now, his tribesmen are hidden in the crowds, armed and ready for any possible attack by the security forces.
The Big Gather, Or, Headings For The Last Restive Roundup
Latest developments in Arab political unrest stretching from North Africa to the Persian Gulf
By Associated Press, July 8
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians pour into the streets of the opposition stronghold Hama, bolstered by a gesture of support from the American and French ambassadors who visit the city where a massacre nearly 30 years ago came to symbolize the ruthlessness of the Assad dynasty. The visit by U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford draws swift condemnation from the Syrian government, which says the unauthorized trip is proof that Washington is inciting violence in the Arab nation.
Tens of thousands of Egyptians brave scorching summer heat to hold one of their biggest protests in months, filling streets in Cairo and other cities to demand trials for members of Hosni Mubarak’s regime and express frustration with the slow pace of change. The exhilaration of Mubarak’s ouster on Feb. 11 after 18 days of mass protests has yielded to widespread frustration that “the revolution” has stalled.
Supporters and opponents of President Ali Abdullah Saleh stage competing marches in Yemen’s capital, a day after his first TV appearance since flying to Saudi Arabia a month ago to treat wounds sustained in an attack on his palace. The video shows the leader with casts on his arms and visibly weakened after a series of operations, reinforcing speculation that he won’t return to Yemen soon.
An agitated Moammar Gadhafi lashes out at those seeking to push him from power, warning in an audio message broadcast on state TV that NATO and other enemies will be trampled “under the feet of the Libyan masses.” In the capital of Tripoli, thousands rally in the main square for mass prayers and a show of support for Gadhafi. The gathering comes a week after another large pro-government demonstration there, showing that Gadhafi can still muster significant support in his stronghold, Tripoli.
Bahrain’s top Shiite cleric criticizes reconciliation talks between the Shiite-led opposition and the kingdom’s Sunni rulers, accusing the monarchy of using the U.S.-supported dialogue to delay democratic reforms. The remarks by Sheik Isa Qassim underline the deep tensions in the tiny, but strategically important nation, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, after five months of pro-democracy protests.
President Obama likes to use the words "sustainable" and "unsustainable." When running for office, he liked to talk about his "improbable" life story. He found it "improbable" dozens of times. He then went on to adopt other words, other concepts. During the "Arab Spring," for example, he wanted to be sure the United States was on "the right side of history." Since one would have to know a good deal of history to know if there was not only history but History, on whose Right Side one simply had to get, and since that "Arab Spring" has bloomed in all sorts of unsweet-smelling ways, that too has been dropped.
But now he's started to talk about what is "sustainable" and what is "not sustainable." He presumes to tellPrime Minister Netanyahu, that his attempts to decide what are secure and defensible borders for Israel, possibly the very borders, at least at the Jordan, which were originally assigned, by the provisions of the Mandate for Palestine, to a future Jewish state, are not to be countenanced because the present situation is "unsustainable."
But what is "unsustainable" is the notion that Muslim Arabs, consumed with hatred, and lacking the manna of oil, can possibly create a decent and unhostile society, and one that pays for itself.
The "Palestinian Authority" is economicaly -- let's leave aside all the other ways -- "unsustainable."
And here is a piece by Daniel Greenfield about the drain that these local Arabs, turned into the "Palestinian people" so as to re-present the Jihad against the Infidel nation-state of Israel as a fight for the rights of a "tiny people" (that "tiny people" -- the soi-disant "Palestinians," were invented after the Six-Day War, and possess no features -- language, religion, culture -- to distinguish them from the Sunni Arabs in Jordan, or Syria, or anywhere else, where religion, and sect, and ethnicity, not the foreign implant of the "nation-state," are what matter.
The Palestinian Authority is facing a budget crisis. It has reached its borrowing limit and has a 585 million dollar deficit. So naturally its leaders are asking the West for another handout.
Back in 2007, 7.4 billion dollars was pledged to keep the terrorist edifice of the Authority running. The PA claimed that it needed 3.9 billion for budgetary shortfalls alone. And after pissing away far more than that, the men who give the suicide bombers their marching orders are back passing around the plate.
Even as the Palestinian Authority pushes forward on a statehood bid at the UN, not only is it unable to pay its own bills, but its only real revenue stream is foreign aid. Few states can claim to have failed, before they are even declared– but the PA is on its way there.
But do "Palestinian People” really need billions more in aid? The World Bank report for 2011 found that only 16 percent of the West Bank under PA control was living below the poverty line.
How serious is a 16 percent poverty rate? It’s better than the poverty rate in Washington D.C. which hit 18.9 percent. That means that politicians in Washington D.C. are diverting money that could have been used to help needy Americans a few miles from their offices, to help the comparatively better off terrorist populations in the West Bank.
Contrary to the barrage of news stories on the suffering of the Palestinians, the poverty rate for America and the West Bank aren’t that far apart. The California poverty rate is at 15.3 percent. And the national average at 14.3 percent is hardly that much better.
If a 16 percent poverty rate requires billions in international aid– then where is Washington D.C.’s international aid. Why isn’t there a UN aid facility distributing food near Foggy Bottom? And if being a failed state with no budget discipline requires international aid, then where are California’s aid pledges?
Many of the PA’s chief donors have poverty rates in the same range. Some are even worse off. Greece’s poverty rate is at 20 percent. Spain’s is nearly as high. And 17 percent of the EU population is considered to be at risk of poverty. Even Germany’s strong economy still has a 15.5 percent poverty rate. A few percentage points away from the West Bank.
But most damningly Israel’s poverty rate is nearly 24 percent. Worse than in the Palestinian Authority. About half those numbers come from its Arab population, which unlike their cousins in the Palestinian Authority, aren’t the beneficiaries of vast amounts of aid.
What’s the West Bank’s economic secret? 16.9 percent unemployment, a better number than among many of its international donors, funded by those same donor countries.
The dirty secret of the Palestinian Authority is that it is a wholly subsidized enterprise paid for by American and European taxpayers. And most of the money goes to the same place that it does in California– to the local government and its vast army of employees and their pockets.
The Palestinian Authority payroll stands at over 150,000 people. That’s in an area with only 840,000 adult males and 1.5 million adult males and females. That’s one government worker for every 10 adults in the West Bank. 1 government worker for every 5 males.
In July, the PA announced that it could only afford to issue half its payroll for the month. The terrorists on its payroll would have to make do with 115 million, instead of 225 million. This stunt is meant to bully international donors into kicking in more money so the Fatah employment agency stays open.
Why the sudden payroll crisis? Last month the PA passed a law putting all imprisoned terrorists, even members of Hamas, on its payroll. Now the Palestinian Authority is having payroll problems and expects foreign donors to bail it out– so it can continue paying money to convicted murderers.
And what else is all that money paying for? 1.3 million to computerize the records of the PA’s Religious Courts. So no offenders against Sharia law can hope to dodge the Islamic justice system. Plus another 29 million to construct "model buildings” for religious courts.
8 million to identify and survey Waqf land for Muslim religious authorities. 32 million to construct "National Security Training Camps”. 15 million to computerize the "National Security Agencies”.
A giant chunk of the aid goes to creating and funding Palestinian “security agencies”. That currently includes three intelligence agencies, the General Intelligence Service, the Preventive Security Organization and Military Intelligence. Why does an autonomous territory that can’t pay its bills or cover its own payroll need three intelligence agencies?
Military Intelligence is responsible, in the official GAO description, for “arresting and interrogating opposition activists”. This does not tend to fall under the purview of what is considered “military intelligence” even in Zimbabwe.
The General Intelligence Service is there “conducting counterespionage”, which is apparently a euphemism for hunting down and executing “collaborators” who tip off Israel about terrorist plots and attacks. But calling it “counterespionage” sounds so much more like a John le Carre novel.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have noted that the General Intelligence Service has tortured and disappeared people, but this hasn’t stopped the US and other foreign donors from continuing to fund it. Neither does the fact that one of its former leaders is serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison for plotting terrorist attacks.
The combined official security forces rolls peg the ratio at 65 security officers to a thousand Palestinians. Compare that to 2.3 officers per a 1000 people in California. Which is curious because there are fairly few offenses reported or prosecuted. But that’s not what the security forces are really for.
The National Security Force, which is being trained by the United States, has a role as;
“A lightly armed and equipped gendarmerie style force charged with supporting the civil police; delivering law and order; and combating terrorism, short of acting as a true military force.”
Except they look exactly like a military force, complete with camo gear, red berets and AK-47?s. A FOX News report described it as what “amounts to a light army now springing up in the West Bank.‘Light’ because all the Israeli’s have allowed them to pack are AK-47 rifles, at least so far.”
The United States is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to create an army for a terrorist organization. And is providing the training too. The odds of American soldiers encountering some of the men being trained here on the battlefield in the near future are very good.
Then there’s the Presidential Guard, which reports directly to the PA President. The Guard is another armed force, whose official task is protecting “important PA officials”. That 10 percent of the Palestinian Authority security forces are dedicated to this task says more about the real nature of the authorities in the West Bank than anything else could.
And after investing all this money into gangs of armed thugs and its religious courts, into construction projects funded by Western aid and given to well connected figures, and discreetly siphoned off, the Palestinian Authority is once again short of money and in need of donations.
The unelected PA Prime Minister, working for an unelected PA government, has declared that the authority’s insolvency doesn’t mean that it’s not ready for statehood. The fault according to him lies with international donors for not shoveling enough money into the Palestinian Muslim Money Hole. The bottomless pit which swallows billions and always needs more. But that’s exactly what it means.
The Palestinian Authority can’t pay its own bills. It can’t even fund its own army, yet insists on having one. It can’t generate its own electricity, provide its own water or even hold elections. If that’s not the definition of being unready for statehood– what is?
Dans le cockpit, personne n'a réalisé que l'avion avait décroché. Les pilotes d'Air France dénoncent une formation insuffisante.
L'AF 447 et la manœuvre réalisée par l'équipage au moment de l'accident qui a fait 228 victimes sont de plus en plus un sujet de malaise à Air France. Six mois avant le drame, le 6 novembre 2008, la compagnie française avait publié une note à destination de ses pilotes intitulée «Anomalies anémométriques» dont Le Figaro s'est procuré une copie. Celle-ci rappelle aux pilotes la conduite à adopter en cas de givrage des sondes Pitot qui mesurent la vitesse de l'appareil.
Le texte sonne comme une prémonition des conditions rencontrées par le vol AF 447 le 1er juin 2009. Il rappelle ainsi les circonstances de six incidents récents de Pitot: «zone de givrage prévue ou observée», «turbulence faible à modérée», «vol en haute altitude». Les conditions énumérées sont identiques à celles rencontrées par le vol Rio-Paris.
Cliquez sur l'aperçu pour agrandir l'infographie.
La chronologie des anomalies l'est également: «indications erronées» de vitesse, désengagement du pilote et de l'autopoussée des réacteurs et «annonce furtive ou persistante Stall», c'est-à-dire enclenchement de l'alarme de décrochage. La note rappelle alors aux équipages qu'en «cas de reprise de contrôle manuel de l'avion», il est nécessaire de «procéder par faibles corrections».
Cette directive n'a pas été suivie par le pilote d'Air France aux commandes cette nuit-là. Celui-ci a même fait le contraire puisqu'il a brutalement fait grimper l'appareil de 2500 pieds avec une prise d'altitude de 7000 pieds par minute et une inclinaison de 16 degrés.
Une grosse erreur
À l'altitude de 37.000 pieds finalement atteinte, la moindre variation de vitesse de l'appareil peut entraîner un décrochage. Lorsque l'alarme de décrochage (Stall) a retenti dans le cockpit, le pilote a maintenu son ordre à cabrer, c'est-à-dire a tiré le manche, et entraîné le décrochage de l'appareil. Durant sa chute, le pilote qui avait des informations d'altitude valide et voyait cette dernière chuter, n'a pas appliqué une manœuvre de base: réduire l'incidence de l'avion (baisser son nez) en poussant sur le manche. Mise à part quelques manœuvres contraires fugaces, il a continué à tirer sur le manche jusqu'à l'impact.
Selon plusieurs sources concordantes à la tête de la compagnie, l'étude en cours des discussions dans le cockpit (le CVR) indiquerait que l'équipage n'a jamais réalisé que l'avion avait décroché et que ce décrochage était la cause de la chute de l'appareil à 180 km/h vers l'océan. Le commandant de bord qui était parti se reposer n'a jamais pu comprendre non plus ce qui s'est passé car il est arrivé en cours de route dans le cockpit.
La question épineuse à laquelle doivent aujourd'hui répondre les enquêteurs du BEA est celle de savoir pourquoi le pilote a commis cette grosse erreur et a persisté durant 3 minutes 30 malgré le retentissement de l'alarme de décrochage. «Si le pilote était persuadé que tout était faux, il ne croyait plus rien», plaide un pilote. Les enquêteurs devront ainsi dire si le comportement de l'avion et notamment les informations disponibles dans le cockpit ont entraîné une erreur d'appréciation de l'équipage ou si l'erreur incombe totalement aux pilotes. Pour l'instant, selon un cadre de l'entreprise, les investigations s'orienteraient notamment vers une analyse des dossiers professionnels de l'équipage pour déceler des failles dans la formation ou le parcours de ses pilotes.