Friday, July 25, 2014

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Rare national consensus: Stop Israel’s genocide

Sadeq Khan

At last the world’s conscience, eyeless in Gaza, has been able to speak up loud and clear, undaunted by big power swaggers in merciless pursuit of ‘strategic bargains’ at the cost of human life and dignity of peoples of the Third World. The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted overwhelmingly to set up a commission of enquiry to investigate “war crimes” committed in the unequal war being waged by Israel against Palestinians in the besieged Gaza strip.

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Sadeq Khan

At last the world’s conscience, eyeless in Gaza, has been able to speak up loud and clear, undaunted by big power swaggers in merciless pursuit of ‘strategic bargains’ at the cost of human life and dignity of peoples of the Third World. The United Nations Human Rights Council has voted overwhelmingly to set up a commission of enquiry to investigate “war crimes” committed in the unequal war being waged by Israel against Palestinians in the besieged Gaza strip.

Already reduced to subhuman existence by military siege over the years since 2007, Gaza residents are now finding their homes, schools and hospitals raged to the ground by Israeli bombardment from the air and the sea, Israeli tanks invading their defenceless territory, Israeli shells killing their women, children and the elderly who cannot run fast enough to safety. Israeli military, unable to find the “tunnels” that hide the Hamas resistance in Gaza, are targeting patients, nurses and doctors in hospitals filled with dead and wounded, by perverse logic passing the blame to the victims for “shielding” Hamas fighters.

OIC condemned Israeli attack
Big powers look the other way, the USA and the erstwhile colonial powers of Europe expressly invoking Israel’s “right of self defence” by military offensive against hidden rocket launchers in the imprisoned Gaza strip. In the British parliament, a member of parliament reminded the House that the Palestinians in Gaza, 1.8 million people held in 140-square-mile (363-square-kilometer) open prison not unlike a concentration camp, also had a “right of self-defence” against Israeli military siege and the Zionist settlers’ atrocities. He was dubbed “irresponsible” by friends of Israel on both sides of the British parliament.
But world leaders could not ignore the indignation and protests being voiced by conscientious citizens all over the world in the streets, in social media and in barrages of public statements issued by rights organisation and philanthropists. The Israeli assault on civilian targets in Gaza began on July 8.
“On July 10, an expanded meeting of OIC Foreign Ministers’ Executive Committee strongly condemned the ceaseless brutal Israeli raids in the Gaza Strip, with the use of fighter jets and heavy weapons, strongly condemned the settlement activities of Israel, and the transfer of its citizens to the occupied Palestinian territories including Eastern Al-Quds, condemned crimes perpetrated by settlers, and reiterated OIC support for the National Consensus Government under the leadership of the Palestinian president.
“On 12th July organisations in Palestine gave a call with the appeal and demands that: “We Palestinians trapped inside the bloodied and besieged Gaza Strip call on conscientious people all over the world to act, protest and intensify the boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel until it ends this murderous attack on our people and is held to account.
We call for a final end to the crimes and oppression against us. We call for: -Arms embargos on Israel, sanctions that would cut off the supply of weapons and military aid from Europe and the United States on which Israel depends to commit such war crimes; - Stop any kind of collaboration or exchange programs - Support the boycott and disinvestment campaign against Israel.”

World demands arms embargo
On July 20, five Nobel Laureates including Professor Mhammad Yunus of Bangladesh responded as follows: “As Nobel Peace Laureates, we join others worldwide who are calling on the international community to secure an immediate ceasefire to prevent any further deaths among Israelis and Palestinians. As the situation continues to deteriorate and the disproportionate number of deaths in Gaza mounts, we are called by conscience to speak out in every way possible not only to end the current violence, but to address the roots of violence.
“There have been attacks on Gaza before.  There have been cease-fires declared before. And yet the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory grinds on. One million and seven hundred thousand Palestinians continue to live under Israeli siege in Gaza. Immediately after the last cease-fire in 2012, calm did return to Israel, but Israeli attacks did not stop in Gaza. Peace is more than the absence of outright war. “Those who would be brokers for peace must first acknowledge and address the coercive and corrosive power that Israel wields over Palestinians.
“The conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis will only be resolved when Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory is ended.”
On July 21, sixty-four public figures, including seven Nobel Peace Prize winners, called for an international arms embargo on Israel for its “war crimes and possible crimes against humanity” in Gaza: “Israel has once again unleashed the full force of its military against the captive Palestinian population, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip, in an inhumane and illegal act of military aggression.”
Among the signators were Nobel peace laureates Desmond Tutu, Betty Williams, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, Jody Williams, Adolfo Peres Esquivel, Mairead Maguire and Rigoberto Menchu. Also signing were academics Noam Chomsky and Rashid Khalidi, filmmakers Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, musicians Roger Waters and Brian Eno, writers Alice Walker and Caryl Churchill, and journalists John Pilger and Chris Hedges. Two Israelis, academics Ilan Pappe and Nurit Peled, joined international colleagues in calling for an arms embargo against Israel.

UNSC collaborators: Turkey
On July 22, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey officially denounced “cruel” Israel for its attacks on Gaza, and dubbed the indifferent UNSC as collaborators of new crusade against Islam. Meanwhile, pro-Palestinian demonstrations continued in Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam and other European cities, and anonymous cartoon of President Obama shielding Israel from worldwide resentment as it stomped on Gaza was making the rounds on social media networks.
On July 23, however, the UN Human Rights Council voted to launch an independent inquiry into Israel’s offensive in Gaza, as Israel continued its bombardment of the Gaza Strip and ground invasion.
The vote came hours after the UN rights chief, Navi Pillay, placed before an emergency session of the council evidences collected by UN officials and examples that suggested “a strong possibility that international humanitarian law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes. “147 children have been killed in Gaza over the past 16 days. They had a right to life, just like children in any other countries.”
The 47-member council adopted the investigation under a draft resolution at the request of Palestine, which has UN observer status. 29 states voted in favour of the investigation. 17 abstained, including many EU states. There was only one voted against lonely USA.
Over 715 Palestinians - the vast majority of them civilians - have been killed in Israel’s 18-day campaign in Gaza. In the same period, two Israeli civilians have been killed by rocket fire into Israel, and 32 Israeli soldiers have died in Gaza.

UNSG demand end of occupation
In his first comments since the Israeli invasion, Khalid Mesaal, the Hamas political leader, said in a news conference in Qatar that Hamas would never agree a ceasefire plan that did not offer the ending of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The Israelis want a two-step solution - a ceasefire, then talks on any easing of restrictions. In Jerusalem on July 23, Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, pointedly called for “an end to the occupation and the daily humiliation and anger that comes with it.” He repeatedly criticized condemned as “atrocious” the Israeli strikes on the Shejaiyah neighbourhood in Gaza which destroyed a whole residential block and killed 72 men, women and children.
Earlier, Modi’s India had “diminished itself” by refusing to discuss the Gaza inferno in parliament on the plea that India was friend to both Israel and Palestine. Indian public, however, mobilised in force responding to Hamas call for denouncing and boycotting Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian lands, and the Modi administration corrected itself by voting for UN enquiry into war crimes in Gaza.
Like India, Bangladesh was slow in reacting to the inhuman pounding of Gaza by Israel. The official reactions fell short of the OIC stand on the issue, being limited to comments of the Foreign Minister calling for justice and peace in Gaza, as well as a cabinet resolution condemning the savage Israeli raids on Gaza and calling on the international community to halt Israeli aggression, which would only amount to return of statusquo.
But the public and socio-cultural bodies burst out in anger all over the country. Public reactions were often bypassed by the media, busy with political intrigues. And then amazingly, something extra-ordinary happened. All the political party leaders, in the government as well as in the opposition, seemed to have a simultaneous shake-up of their conscience, and were in unison in their denouncement of Israeli “genocide” in Gaza. Although they did not flinch from their usual rituals of blame game even on this issue, the phenomenon is nevertheless an embodiment of rare national consensus.


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Siliguri Corridor is terribly vulnerable

Shamsuddin Ahmed

More than six decades ago Jawharlal Nehru had declared in parliament that India assumed full responsibility in regards to the defence of Bhutan. The situation has undergone a vast change since. Defence experts of India are now worried for the integrity and security of their own country. They have been urging the government for building up military strength on the northern front to contain the advances of China.
Through the concerted efforts Beijing succeeded in reaching Chumbi valley, tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China. The presence of PLA at the valley is like a Chinese dagger held at India’s throat. At this point the Chumbi valley which is part of southern reaches of the Tibetan Autonomous Region along the Line of Control (LOC) is like a pointed kris dagger thrust between Sikkim and Bhutan, giving access to China directly into West Bengal. It is barely 5 km from the southern edge of the Chumbi valley to the Shiliguri Corridor.

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Shamsuddin Ahmed

More than six decades ago Jawharlal Nehru had declared in parliament that India assumed full responsibility in regards to the defence of Bhutan. The situation has undergone a vast change since. Defence experts of India are now worried for the integrity and security of their own country. They have been urging the government for building up military strength on the northern front to contain the advances of China.
Through the concerted efforts Beijing succeeded in reaching Chumbi valley, tri-junction of India, Bhutan and China. The presence of PLA at the valley is like a Chinese dagger held at India’s throat. At this point the Chumbi valley which is part of southern reaches of the Tibetan Autonomous Region along the Line of Control (LOC) is like a pointed kris dagger thrust between Sikkim and Bhutan, giving access to China directly into West Bengal. It is barely 5 km from the southern edge of the Chumbi valley to the Shiliguri Corridor.

China’s railroad to Chumbi valley
With access to Chumbi valley China gets closer to West Bengal and Bangladesh too. Recent reports say that China is working on its railway link extension to the valley by 2017. Once it is done, the prospect of Chinese goods from the Chumbi valley flow to Bnagladesh over the Shiliguri corridor is not ruled out. China is well known for doing things in small steps and piecemeal, quietly, patiently, eventually bringing the pieces together when the conditions are ripe.
Indian military experts view escalation of Chinese military activities all along the Line of Control. But, they say, India cannot afford to allow the PLA come down through the Chumbi valley to West Bengal.  Chinese thrust into West Bengal has many advantages for China. The main would be the fall of Arunachal Pradesh into its lap along with Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura. As part of its strategy, China will hold Arunachal Pradesh and return the other north eastern states if India agrees to accept the line of control as per Chinese perception as the final border.
That will be a terrible blow to India not just for the present. The consequences could be the balkanization of northeastern states with Chinese supported insurgencies gaining the upper hand because of weakening the Indian army.
The Northeast Indian states are politically and geographically distant from New Delhi. Most parts of the region share more in common culturally with Burma than they do with Punjab, or even West Bengal. A quirk of South Asian political geography  the Siliguri Corridor  has made it quite challenging for New Delhi to effectively integrate the Northeastern states.

Delhi’s strategic nightmare
Like most of the borders in South Asia, the Siliguri Corridor, also known as the Chicken’s Neck, is a cartographic relic of the British decolonization process. The corridor at its slimmest point is barely 14 miles between the Bangladesh and Nepalese borders. All land trade between Northeast India’s 40 million citizens and the rest of the country traverses the Siliguri Corridor. A single-line railway is all that carries rail-based freight across the Siliguri. The harsh topography of the region makes the railway and roads subject to damage from frequent landslides and natural disaster. India’s Northeast is known for its record levels of rainfall.
Siliguri is on the top of the list of India’s strategic anxieties.  Indian strategists have envisioned a future scenario where the Chinese may simply bypass and drop special force to choke vulnerable Siliguri Corridor and cut off the Northeast. China’s diplomacy with Bhutan gives reason to take this possibility seriously. China began in late 90s a concerted diplomatic effort to yield a border claim with Bhutan in exchange for the Doklam Plateau. The territorial swap with Bhutan’s Chumbi valley placed in China’s hands the key to India’s choke point in the Siliguri.

Siliguri’s vulnerability
In acknowledgement of its importance to India’s national security, the state maintains a heavy patrol presence in the Siliguri region. The Indian Army, the Assam Rifles, the Border Security Force, and the West Bengal Police all patrol the region. India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is known to closely observe Nepalese, Bhutanese, and Bangladeshi activity in the region as well.
The Siliguri Corridor is a terrifyingly vulnerable artery in India’s geography. For Indians in the Northeast, every look at the map is a sobering reminder of just how fragile their physical and economic link to the rest of the country. Unlike so many of the problems India faces, the Siliguri Corridor’s vulnerability is a cruel endowment of political geography and essentially one it is stuck with. It is barely 5 km from the southern edge of the Chumbi valley where the Chinese are active in building communication infrastructures.


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ETHNIC CLEANSING IN GAZA
Who will try Netanyahu?

Abu Hena

It was Saturday, 18 September, 1982, when massacre of Palestinians took place in two refugee camps, Sabra and Shatila, in Beirut. Earlier, Palestinian fighters had agreed to be evacuated from Beirut, after a siege, on the understanding that Palestinian women and children would be safe. But breaking the understanding, Christian Phalangists, sent by the Israelis, massacred hundreds of women and children as well as innocent civilians in the camps. While the slaughter was going on, the United States envoy sent Israel’s General Ariel Sharon a message: “You must stop this horrible massacre …You have absolute control of the area and are, therefore, responsible ..”

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Abu Hena

It was Saturday, 18 September, 1982, when massacre of Palestinians took place in two refugee camps, Sabra and Shatila, in Beirut. Earlier, Palestinian fighters had agreed to be evacuated from Beirut, after a siege, on the understanding that Palestinian women and children would be safe. But breaking the understanding, Christian Phalangists, sent by the Israelis, massacred hundreds of women and children as well as innocent civilians in the camps. While the slaughter was going on, the United States envoy sent Israel’s General Ariel Sharon a message: “You must stop this horrible massacre …You have absolute control of the area and are, therefore, responsible ..”

On 29 March, 2002 again the same Sharon embarked on an operation with some 100 APCS , 60 tanks, bulldozers and 2500 armed men attacking Arafat’s Ramallah office, cutting off all communication channels, water and electricity connections and food supply.  Driven by the lust for Palestinian blood, Sharon’s tanks and armoured vehicles, supported by air to ground missiles, carried out onslaught on the refugee camps in the city of Nablus. His gunmen besieged Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, one of the holiest sites of Christendom . In Jenin, Sharon’s atrocities surpassed the fury, brutality and cruelty of all including the Huns, the Vandals and the Nazis. For days the Israeli hordes carried out the massacre. They did not allow the International Red Cross, and media to enter the area and murdered innocents in cold blood. The magnitude and extent of slaughter and destruction was yet to be ascertained and on the mere sight of the savagery the UN envoy described the scene as “horrifying beyond belief.”

Genesis of ‘war crimes’
In 2008 – 09, Israel unleashed a fierce terror campaign against the Gaza Strip when 1400 innocent Palestinians and the Goldstone Commission accused the Zionist leaders of “war crimes.” But none could conduct the criminals to the dock to bring them to justice. In 2012 the attack was launched with the target killing of the Hamas military chief hitting more than 1500 civilian  targets, killing 155 civilians and wounding 1200. The Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing in Gaza” warning “Israel is committing ethnic cleansing by ignoring peace in this region and violating international law. Sooner or later , Israel will have to answer for the innocent blood it has shed so far.”
What we have today in the Palestinian land are the Zionists whose leader Theodor Herzi met Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II in 1901 seeking his favour for a piece of  land in Palestine to form a Jewish state. It was in 1903 when the anti – Jewish programs took place in Russia that the Fifth Zionist Congress founded the Jewish National Fund to raise money to purchase land in Palestine. The same year the Russian Jews escaping anti – Jewish programs arrived in Palestine .
Today the same Zionists who were begging favour  are ravaging everything on their way and savagely demolishing all civilian dwelling places in Gaza with wild, primitive fury thanks to the billions of dollars and most sophisticated weaponry supplied by the United States every year. The horrors being committed in front of the TV camera and social media by the hordes led by Benjamin Netanyahu are sending shock waves all around. He resembles Himmler’s cruelty, who had tortured the Jews in Germany.
Nobody is going to stop him so long he has powerful friends in the US Congress as Hitler had his friends in London and it was Chamberlain’s business to ‘appease’ the tyrant.

Kerry’s caricature
“The humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza is heartbreaking,” said John Kerry the US Secretary of State while announcing $47 million humanitarian aid for the victims of Israeli terror in Gaza. “US is comfortable with the Israeli action,” he said earlier, after he had sarcastically remarked, “It’s a hell of a pin-pointing operation,” referring to the Israeli murderous design which gave the US assurances that while ‘demilitarizing’ Hamas, no harm would be done to the civilians in Gaza and there would be no loss of life on the Israeli side.
When asked in Cairo whether he was still comfortable with the Israeli action, Secretary Kerry said, “No country is comfortable…No human being is comfortable with children being killed…”. Netanyahu, on the other hand thinks the carnage in Gaza was “very measured.”
“Very measured” indeed. On the 13th day of the Israeli misadventure alone, their “criminal miscalculation” led to the displacement of 100,000 civilians, more than 1300 homes destroyed, number of Palestinian killed over 500 and wounded 3000, hospitals overflowed and  UN schools which shelters the displaced were full. On the very day the military wing of Hamas drew Israel’s Elite Armoured Infantry Brigade, the best trained and equipped military unit in the world, into an ambush killing 13 and wounding 101 who were undergoing amputations in the hospitals. Images of tens of thousands of Palestinians running for shelter, carrying children and disabled and getting shelled on the way, while others getting buried under the collapsing houses, under indiscriminating air strikes and artillery shells by the savage hordes of Netanyahu, were heart rendering.
With 1.8 million people inside, eighty percent of whom live in UN refugee camps, the Gaza Strip is a veritable prison, a hell on earth. The death toll is now nearing 700 with 3700 Palestinian wounded. Casualty on the Israeli side is 32 which include 30 best trained soldiers of the Elite Brigade and 2 civilians. Two of the soldiers are Israeli Americans with dual nationality. For over two weeks the world has been watching this appalling  tragedy.

Gaza like Nazi camps
“We kept screaming and crying people were dying and homes destroyed. At our home we left everything, my toys, everything. We want to go back home,” a child was telling the media man. When his attention was drawn to the horrendous, dreadful sight in Gaza the maniac prime minister said, “We asked the population, leave …”. He asked hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to leave their hearth and home so that he could indulge in his whims. What a shame.
The Palestinians are fighting a grim battle against the Zionist occupation army. That is the way all freedom loving people, colonies and territories became independent from tyrants, colonialists and invaders. Israel is the last vestige of the colonial legacy. The Israeli atrocities in Gaza remind the world how the Nazis herded the Jews into concentration camps. The same racist ideology, the “animal xenophobia” which worked in Hitler, is instinctively working in Netanyahu. Civilization, as Freud pointed out, demands self discipline. No one can be licensed to threaten and kill people with carving knives. President Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points contained the morals of international code of conduct and civilized norms: the liberation of peoples, justice to friends and enemies alike and peace. On 10 February, 1915 he warned Germany that it would be held to “strict accountability.” It’s time President Obama issues the same warning to Israel.
The writer is a former Member of Parliament and author of ‘ Islam the Last Hope’


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Sacrificed at the alter of geopolitics

Fazal M. Kamal in New York

“This makes you wonder what kind of world we are living in!” exclaimed an exasperated and astounded Dutch relative of one of the victims of the Malaysia Airlines calamity. Given the extant circumstances, from Ukraine to Palestine, not to mention Syria, Iraq, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Nigeria and some others, many people would certainly like to wish that one day soon the entire population of the world would wake up and discover that it was only a nightmare. The reality, however, is that predators have been let loose across planet Earth, and as often happens, there’s precious little the powers that be can do to end the marauders on a dime.

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Fazal M. Kamal in New York

“This makes you wonder what kind of world we are living in!” exclaimed an exasperated and astounded Dutch relative of one of the victims of the Malaysia Airlines calamity. Given the extant circumstances, from Ukraine to Palestine, not to mention Syria, Iraq, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Nigeria and some others, many people would certainly like to wish that one day soon the entire population of the world would wake up and discover that it was only a nightmare. The reality, however, is that predators have been let loose across planet Earth, and as often happens, there’s precious little the powers that be can do to end the marauders on a dime.

If Russia is culpable because of the vicious actions of Ukrainian separatists who brought down flight MH17 killing almost 300 people, the United States must also accept complicity in the deaths of thousands of Palestinians as Israel nonchalantly rained down an assortment of ammunitions on the unarmed and helpless Gazans who have been corralled into a sliver of land after most of them were driven out of their homes. Neither Russia nor Israel appears to have any regard for national sovereignty or territorial integrity of countries. Evidently, in the stratospheric environment of geo-politics the demise of some thousands or even hundreds of thousands is merely the necessary sacrifice to the malevolent deities of power.

Secret Israeli-Arab alliance
Here’s a piece of information that may partly explain the sordid violence  unleashed on Gaza: “The attack on Gaza comes by Saudi Royal Appointment. This royal warrant is nothing less than an open secret in Israel, and both former and serving defense officials are relaxed when they talk about it. Former Israeli defence minister Shaul Mofaz surprised the presenter on Channel 10 by saying Israel had to specify a role for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the demilitarization of Hamas. Asked what he meant by that, he added that Saudi and Emirati funds should be used to rebuild Gaza after Hamas had been defanged.”  (David Hearst, Middle East Eye).
Hearst goes on to quote Amos Gilad, the director of the Israeli defense ministry's policy and political-military relations department: "Everything is underground, nothing is public. But our security cooperation with Egypt and the Gulf states is unique. This is the best period of security and diplomatic relations with the Arab."
David Hearst adds: “Mossad and Saudi intelligence officials meet regularly: The two sides conferred when the former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was about to be deposed in Egypt and they are hand in glove on Iran, both in preparing for an Israel strike over Saudi airspace and in sabotaging the existing nuclear program. There has even been a well sourced claim that the Saudis are financing most of Israel's very expensive campaign against Iran.”
Hearst tellingly concludes his commentary by stating, “Peace would indeed be welcome to everyone, not least Gaza at the moment. The means by which Israel's allies in Saudi Arabia and Egypt are going about achieving it, by encouraging Israel to deal Hamas a crippling blow, calls into question what is really going on here. …This Saudi-Israeli alliance is forged in blood, Palestinian blood….”

Egypt’s Al-Ahram thanks Israel!
Venting a different sentiment Azza Sami of the semi-official Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, commenting on the Israeli massacre of Palestinians said, "Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas!" Obviously no further clarification is required about the comment made earlier in this article that the deaths of thousands are the necessary sacrifice to the deities in the world of power and geo-political influence. For pragmatic world leaders terms like conscience, morality, ethics or even humanity are comprehensively devoid of any meaning or relevance.
Meanwhile though, some positive developments appear to have been made regarding possible inquiry into the shooting down of the Malaysian aircraft with promises of access of the investigators to the site of the catastrophe as well as to the bodies of the victims and other materials relevant to the investigation. And while President Obama, presently ensnared in the tentacles of volatile situations in various parts of the globe, has been pressing for a ceasefire in Palestine, the complications in that arena (partly underlined in David Hearst’s report above) make it unlikely that a cessation of Israeli homicidal hostilities is imminent.
In any case the ground reality is that hundreds of Palestinians are already dead, thousands have been wounded and dozens of homes have been destroyed while many thousands have been rendered homeless, thanks to the courage of Israeli soldiers who have been exhibiting their bravura for decades by maiming and killing rock-throwing young people whose families have lost relatives and/or homes to Israeli occupation.
In the whole process at least two fundamental elements are ignored. Due to the persistent extermination of Palestinians the probability of radicalization of the youth in the occupied territories keeps growing. Definitely, this possibility isn’t unknown to those who are operating in that area, either in plain view or from behind the drapes. On the other side there’s increasing brutalization of large segments of the Israeli population as hatred for the repressed people continues to increase.

Israelis cheer bombings
In a report in the Guardian Harriet Sherwood writes, “As the sun begins to sink over the Mediterranean, groups of Israelis gather each evening on hilltops close to the Gaza border to cheer, whoop and whistle as bombs rain down on people in a warzone hell a few miles away. Old sofas, garden chairs, battered car seats and upturned crates provide seating for the spectators. On one hilltop, a swing has been attached to the branches of a pine tree, allowing its occupant to sway gently in the breeze. Some bring bottles of beer or soft drinks and snacks.”
She adds, “On Saturday, a group of men huddle around a shisha pipe. Nearly all hold up smart phones to record the explosions or to pose grinning, perhaps with thumbs up, for selfies against a backdrop of black smoke.…An atmosphere of an anticipatory excitement grows as dusk falls, in the expectation that Hamas militants will increase rocket fire after breaking their Ramadan fast, and the Israeli military will respond with force. The thud of shellfire, flash of an explosion and pall of smoke are greeted with exclamations of approval. ‘What a beauty,’ says one appreciative spectator.”
If this isn’t stomach churning, how else can it (be) described? That ordinary citizens of a country whose leaders have persistently and incrementally enhanced its people’s animosity against the very people they have shooed away from their hearth should now be cheering the deaths of a traumatized people cannot be surprising anymore; but it certainly should be a matter of profound disquiet.

Oust them and shower bombs
In the ultimate analysis, as Robert Fisk writes in The Independent, “It’s about land. The Israelis of Sederot are coming under rocket fire from the Palestinians of Gaza and now the Palestinians are getting their comeuppance. Sure. But wait, how come all those  Palestinians---all 1.5 million---are crammed into Gaza in the first place? Well, their families once lived, didn’t they, in what is now called Israel? And got chucked out – or fled for their lives – when the Israeli state was created….
“[T]he people who lived in Sederot in early 1948 were not Israelis, but Palestinian Arabs. Their village was called Huj. Nor were they enemies of Israel. Two years earlier, these same Arabs had actually hidden Jewish Haganah fighters from the British Army. But when the Israeli army turned up at Huj on 31 May 1948, they expelled all the Arab villagers---to the Gaza Strip! … David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) called it an ‘unjust and unjustified action’…The Palestinians of Huj were never allowed back. And today, well over 6,000 descendants of the Palestinians from Huj---now Sederot---live in the squalor of Gaza, among the ‘terrorists’ Israel is claiming to destroy and who are shooting at what was Huj. Interesting story.”


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Yunus proposes Mayanmar to join SAARC

Nava Thakuria in Guwahati

The emerging democracy after decades of military dictatorship in Southeast Asia, an unusual well wisher emerged with Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, who advocates for Burma’s entry into the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

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Nava Thakuria in Guwahati

The emerging democracy after decades of military dictatorship in Southeast Asia, an unusual well wisher emerged with Nobel laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, who advocates for Burma’s entry into the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

The first and only Nobel prize winner from Bangladesh, who created the globally famous micro-financial institution Grameen Bank has proposed that  Burma (now Myanmar) to be a member of seven-nation SAARC comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Pakistan.
During a recent meeting with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, also a Nobel laureate at her residence in Yangoon (Rangoon), Professor Yunus announced it. The legendary economist, who is presently preaching social business across the globe also urged the National League of Democracy (NLD) chief to support his agenda on Burma’s entry into the SAARC.

Suu Kyi to visit Dhaka
Adjacent to Bangladesh and northeast India, Burma is a member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political and economic grouping comprising ten countries located in Southeast Asia. Once known as the rice bowl of Asia, Myanmar (Burma) is closely associated with India and Bangladesh since the pre-historic era. During the freedom movement, Burma’s generous populace played an important role in favour of millions of Indian freedom fighters.
Popularly known as the banker to the poor, Professor Yunus was invited to Myanmar on 19 July at the invitation of the British Council there to speak to the members of the government, civil society and business community about the potential of social business and the role of business in the country’s development.  His three-day visit started with a 30 minute one-on-one discussions with Ms Suu Kyi on various socio-economic issues.
In fact, it was the first ever meeting between the two Nobel peace laureates from two neighboring Asian countries. Professor Yunus apprised Ms Suu Kyi about social business programs in Bangladesh including microcredit, health care, education and vocational training, renewable energy, social businesses as well as equity investment for the development of enterprises by the unemployed youths of Grameen bank families.

Grameen Trust active in Mayanmar
Professor Yunus thanked Ms Suu Kyi for her support to Grameen microcredit replication program set up by the Grameen Trust at Myanmar’s delta zone in 1997, which is now operated by PACT, an international NGO, and is the largest microcredit program serving 700,000 clients in Mayanmar currently, said a statement issued by the Dhaka based Yunus Centre.
The pro-democracy Burmese icon, now a member of Mayanmar Parliament appreciated the pro-poor initiatives of Professor Yunus around the world. The daughter of Burmese independence war hero General Aung San also briefed Professor Yunus about the work she has been doing in her constituency to bring development to the rural communities.  Both the Nobel awardees emphasized on resolving the outstanding issues related to Bangladesh and Burma for close collaboration between the two developing countries. Professor Yunus also invited Ms Suu Kyi to visit Bangladesh social businesses, on which she responded positively.
Nava Thakuria writes from Guwahati.


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GAZA MASSACRE
What’s Netanyahu’s game plan?

Alan Hart

Here is my speculation which was provoked by a headline in The Times of Israel over a report of remarks by Dan Shapiro, America’s ambassador to the Zionist state. The headline was Envoy says US will work to get Abbas back ruling Gaza after conflict over. According to the report Shapiro said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 News that the US wants to see Abbas’s Palestinian Authority restored to ruling Gaza and “will make efforts to bring this about.”

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Alan Hart

Here is my speculation which was provoked by a headline in The Times of Israel over a report of remarks by Dan Shapiro, America’s ambassador to the Zionist state. The headline was Envoy says US will work to get Abbas back ruling Gaza after conflict over. According to the report Shapiro said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 News that the US wants to see Abbas’s Palestinian Authority restored to ruling Gaza and “will make efforts to bring this about.”

In 2007, at the request of American policy makers and led by Mohammad Dahlan, Abbas’s Fatah forces were planning to launch an Israeli-backed coup to remove Hamas as the elected authority in the Gaza Strip and destroy it. The coup didn’t happen because Hamas got wind of the plot and launched an Israeli-like pre-emptive strike that defeated Fatah’s forces and drove them out of the Gaza Strip.
Against that background and in the light of Shapiro’s remarks my speculation is that Netanyahu’s real game plan was the product of two hopes.

Gaza coup attempt foiled
The first was that he could put Hamas out of military and political business and set the stage for the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip prison camp to be ready, however reluctantly, to accept Abbas and his corrupt and discredited Palestinian Authority (PA) as their leadership. (Netanyahu might also have thought that the task of restoring Abbas and his PA to control in the Gaza Strip would be greatly assisted by the US pouring money into its coffers for re-construction and development).
The second was the hope that once the authority of Abbas and his cronies was restored to the Gaza Strip there would be Palestinian elections which could and would be rigged to bring on Dahlan as Abbas’s successor.
Very many Palestinians believe, as I do, that Dahlan, currently in exile in the UAE and in contact with Israeli leaders as he prepares his comeback, is an Israeli asset, in which capacity he was, almost certainly, the one who administered the Israeli-supplied polonium that killed Arafat. (Abbas himself has said he believes that was the case).
It could be that in Netanyahu’s vision of the future Dahlan as Palestinian “president” would be prepared to use whatever means were necessary, including force, to compel his occupied and oppressed people to abandon their struggle in return for crumbs from Zionism’s table – a few Bantustans here and there on the West Bank which they could call a state if they wished. In other words, the Dahlan of Netanyahu’s vision would bring about a Palestinian surrender on Zionism’s terms.

A sick, mad scenario
I agree that’s a sick, mad scenario but it could very well be what was in Netanyahu’s mind. Am I suggesting that he is sick and mad? Yes, and one of his latest comments is surely proof of that. He said on CNN that Hamas wanted more and more Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to be killed by Israel in order to generate worldwide support for its cause and push American tv presenters into asking him tough questions. One of his actual quotes was: “They (Hamas’s leaders) want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.”
At the time of writing there are some indications that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are beginning to panic because they know that the latest killing spree by what Ismail Haniyeh (Hamas’s top political leader) has called the “Zionist murder machine” is unacceptable to a growing number of people around the world. And I think this has made Obama and Kerry realise that if they don’t put real effort into bringing about a ceasefire, they will be exposed, fully naked, not only as moral cowards, not only as hypocrites but also as puppets of the Zionist state and its lobby in America.
The problem for Obama and Kerry is that as long as Hamas has rockets to fire at Israel (it currently has thousands) there is no way it can agree to a ceasefire unless its main condition, the lifting of Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip, is part of the agreement. And there is no way Netanyahu will accept that because lifting the siege which is best described as occupation by remote control would mean defeat for him. (In other words, the lifting of the siege would demonstrate and prove that Israel’s latest war had been totally counterproductive).

US & deadly Zionist lobby
In that light it seems to me that if the Israeli war machine is to be stopped Obama will have to confront Netanyahu and the Zionist lobby’s traitor agents in Congress.

Will he do so?
With the mid-term elections only about four months away and the soliciting of funds for them gathering momentum, I will be more than astonished if he does.
Last week the US Senate voted 100 to 0 in support Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, so Netanyahu has good reason to believe that Obama is not in a political position to press him to accept a ceasefire on terms other than his own and that he, Netanyahu, will therefore remain free to escalate his war on the Gaza Strip and with it the killing, slaughter, of more and more Palestinians. The only thing that could cause Netanyahu to seek a face saving way out of the conflict on terms other than his own is a change in Israeli public opinion.
Because they have been conditioned (brainwashed) to regard themselves as the victims when they are in fact the oppressors, most Israeli Jews don’t care about how many Palestinians are killed by their war machine. Some even chant “Death to the Arabs” and scrawl the same message in graffiti on walls.
But almost all Israeli Jews have a very low tolerance level of casualties on their own side. It is not impossible that if more and more Israeli soldiers are killed in combat with Hamas fighters a significant number of Israel’s Jews will say to Netanyahu, “Enough is enough. Stop the war.”
We shall see.
Sournce: Countercurrents.org;  Alanhart.net. The author   is a former ITN and BBC Panorama foreign correspondent. He is author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews. He blogs at  http://www.alanhart.net and tweets via http://twitter.com/alanauthor


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Will BRICS Bank, CRA bring change to existing global order?

Faruque Ahmed

The establishment of BRICS Bank comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa has come at a time when the existing global financial institutions like the World Bank (WB), IMF and Asian Development Bank (ADB) are increasingly failing to meet the growing demand for funding huge infrastructure development projects in the developing nations.

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Faruque Ahmed

The establishment of BRICS Bank comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa has come at a time when the existing global financial institutions like the World Bank (WB), IMF and Asian Development Bank (ADB) are increasingly failing to meet the growing demand for funding huge infrastructure development projects in the developing nations.

These multilateral financial institutions dominated by the western powers were suffering from fund shortage while remaining captive at the same time of the western decision makers. They follow a policy of selective lending to developing countries and their major projects and use the lending primarily taking into consideration how it would further their political leverage and financial control over the recipient nations.
However, in all fairness, it should be mentioned that the WB, IMF and ADB are also overloaded with loan requests in recent years and new organizations like BRICS financial institutions may add more capital and choices before global financial system to support major infrastructure projects. There is a growing need for funding socio-economic activities also in areas such as health, education and expansion of social services.

More competition likely
In view of this perspective, experts believe that the launching of BRICS Bank has come at the right moment to make the global financial architecture broad-based for funding the need of the developing world breaking the monopoly of the WB and IMF which often work against the interest of the poor nations and the especial needs of the middle income countries.
However, it remains to be seen how BRICS institutions make their presence felt. But one should not have the doubt that given their normal growth under efficient management, the WB, IMF and ADB and other such institutions would come under pressure in the coming years to undertake reforms to make them more acceptable to the emerging economies. The world may be happy to see new challengers to ensure better services.
It is interesting that the WB and IMF are not making their comments public on the launching of the BRICS financial institutions. Meanwhile, the ADB has already announced a 10-point strategic plan to bring changes in its policy regime and field level operations to bring it closer to the specific needs of the people in its member nations.   
The just concluded 6th summit of the BRICS nations in Brazilian city of Fortaleza has also decided to set up a Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA) along with the BRICS Bank. It aims at making available the urgently needed balance of payment support to member states once it comes into operation. 
Nations were so far dependent on IMF loan for balance of payment support at critical moment and the institution was using tough socio-political conditions to secure restructuring of the economy and financial institutions of the applicant nations to the advantage of the western economies, regardless of how it affects the recipients’ domestic politics.
BRICS Bank (BB) will have an initial authorized capital of $100 billion while it will start with a paid up capital of $50 billion and analysts believe that it may begin lending from 2016.

Funding of new facilities
With its head office at Shanghai, it will have an Indian chairman to begin with. Similarly, the CRF will have $100 billion funding. Basically it will be a currency swap arrangement allowing for emergency support to BRICS countries facing balance of payment crisis. China promised to contribute $41 billion to the fund while $18 billion each by India, Russia and Brazil. South Africa will contribute $5 billion to the fund.
Initiated in mid-2009, BRIC became BRICS in 2010 with South Africa’s joining the group to set up the new financial institutions. Their key objectives were to have a bigger say in global financial order challenging the monopoly of the western countries. BRICS represents 40 percent of the global population; 18 percent of global trade and having $4 trillion in combined foreign reserves. Estimates suggest that “the large foreign reserves of BRICS and many developing economies in Asia have been mostly invested in the US Gilt-edged Securities and Sovereign Wealth Funds over the years.  Despite the low yield in such securities and funds, the bulk of the reserve surpluses of emerging and developing economies have been invested in them mainly due to the strength and international standing of US dollar. Had these reserves been invested in emerging and developing economies, they would have not only bridged the massive infrastructure deficit of those countries but also uplifted millions of people out of poverty.”
Economics and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific- 2010 carried out by ESCAP showed if $800 billion per annum was allocated to the Asia-Pacific region, the infrastructure deficit in the region could have been covered in a couple of years.  ESCAP in fact, argues that “the rate of return on investing part of the reserves in the region would have been higher than the returns from the US market, and for this purpose only 5 percent of the $5 trillion reserves in the region could have been used to create an Infrastructure Fund”.

China still serious for AIIB?
Such thinking has influenced the Chinese leadership with their largest investment in US securities to promote an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), similar to Japan’s initiative to set up the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in 1966, reports said.
Such thinking influenced all BRICS leaderships who were convinced of the benefits of their surplus savings and foreign reserves from establishing a new development bank, particularly for funding major infrastructure projects. The idea of setting up the BRICS Bank thus came to the fore.
It has been estimated that close to $1 trillion funding is required per annum to meet the infrastructure deficit in emerging economies and developing countries. The existing local, regional, and multilateral banks cannot meet this requirement and the new BRICS Bank will be able to supplement the existing banks’ contribution, in addition to making the global financial system competitive. 
“The launch of the BRICS Bank and CRA will be a concerted step for reshaping the Western dominated international financial system. It will be the first step to challenge the domination of the US influenced WB and the IMF and the US dollar power,” analysts said. 
Japan had taken an initiative to set up such an institution soon after the East Asian Financial crisis of 1997 but it had to abandon the move on pressure from IMF and US Treasury. BRICS has walked over such resistance.
Its financial institutions may now slowly work to bring about reforms in global financial system. In fact, the BRICKS nations – Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa, the global emerging economic powers – have the potentials to bring pressures on western dominated institutions to reform and comply.
But questions remain whether China will abandon its plan to set up the Asian Infrastructure development Bank after the establishment of BRICS Bank and CRA. Moreover, will the BRICS Bank give large loan at concessional rates? Again will the CRA provide balance of payment support in more liberal terms? We have to wait and see.


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CLIMATE CRISIS
Asia risk 70% flooding

Countercurrents.org

Climate crisis increases risk of flooding across 70% of Asia, according to a new map launched by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office on July 16, 2014.

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Countercurrents.org

Climate crisis increases risk of flooding across 70% of Asia, according to a new map launched by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office on July 16, 2014.

The map shows the potential impact of global climate crisis that includes:
Millions of people flooded due to sea level rise, particularly in East, Southeast and South Asia.
The map shows the impact climate crisis could have on the whole planet by the end of the century if carbon emissions continue to increase.
The Human Dynamics of Climate Change map, developed by the Met Office Hadley Centre shows a range of potential impact. These include:
Temperatures on the warmest days of the year rising by 6°C or more across Europe, parts of Asia and part of North America.
The number of days of drought going up by more than 20% in parts of South America, Australia and Southern Africa.
Maize yields falling by up to 12% in Central America and sea temperatures rising by up to 4°C in some parts of the world. A news story from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Mark Simmonds MP said: “The map illustrates how climate change could affect the global economy as regions connected by trade are affected by changes in crop yield, droughts, flooding and high temperatures. It also shows how many already water-stressed regions of the world could face an increase in the frequency and duration of droughts, at the same time as an increase in demand for water for agriculture and for the consumption of a growing population.”
This initiative is part of supporting international action on climate change.
The UK foreign office minister Mark Simmonds said: “This map shows how the impacts of climate change on one part of the world will affect countries in other parts of the world, particularly through the global trade in food. This reinforces the point that climate change is a global problem: no country is immune, and we all need to work together to reduce the risks to our shared prosperity and security.”
Dame Julia Slingo, the UK Met Office Chief Scientist, said: “We’ve used the latest science to assess how potential changes in our climate will impact people around the world. This map presents that information together for the first time. While we see both positive and negative impacts, the risks vastly outweigh any potential opportunities.”
The UK considers climate change to present a great risk to our future global prosperity and security. So as well as reducing emissions domestically, the UK is also working closely with a wide range of countries to achieve effective global action to limit climate change to 2°C.
Source: “New Map Reveals Worldwide Impacts of Climate Change”  https://www.gov.uk/ government/news/new-map-reveals-worldwide-impacts-of-climate-change


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Pak Cricket Board plays musical chair

Jonaid Iqbal in Islamabad

Pakistan cricket has been in a terrible mess of controversies since several years. In this period of ad-hocism, Pakistanis were entertained to a game of musical chairs going on between past Chairman Mr.Zaka Ashraf and the present long time senior journalist Najam Sethi.

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Jonaid Iqbal in Islamabad

Pakistan cricket has been in a terrible mess of controversies since several years. In this period of ad-hocism, Pakistanis were entertained to a game of musical chairs going on between past Chairman Mr.Zaka Ashraf and the present long time senior journalist Najam Sethi.

Sethi was called in by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to accept the job of Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), and put some life into the game of cricket, one of the most keenly contested games the public loves.
Pakistan Tehrik Insaf (PTI) chief and ace cricketer Imran Khan alleged Sethi was given the job as reward for nice work done in ensuring “punctures” in 35 constituencies in which the PTI won but was shown cheated in published election results. During the past 15 months, Najam Sethi has been ousted several times from the job.
This week, a day after he was sacked, Najam Sethi was drafted back on the job by a Supreme Court of Pakistan’s clear judgment, which tried to straighten PCB affairs.
The judgment asked Sethi to continue to function as Chairman (PCB) till a fresh election is held to the post and directed the prime minister to appoint the board’s acting Chairman and also a chief election commissioner to hold a free and fair election within a week. Najam Sethi informed the Supreme Court Bench he would not contest Chairman PCB’s post in the election. The bench also disposed of petitions against the termination of 22 PCB employees, fired by Najam Sethi as the chairman.
Currently, the Pakistan team is going to Sri Lanka to play a series of matches, beginning August 6, and ending on 30 August.


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