Sunday, 21 September 2008

Tony Blair forgets what is happening in Iraq

Tony Blair in the Daily Show video defends the Iraq war and forgets that the Iraqi government the US and UK are supporting is the one with the Iranian-backed militias! Maybe it is just too embarrassing?

Friday, 19 September 2008

Tony Blair's Sister-in-Law Lauren Bo terrified by machine gun fire from Israeli navy - DRAMATIC VIDEO Released

Dramatic just-released video showing British citizens and Palestinian fishermen being terrified by machine gun fire close to their boats from the Israeli navy two weeks ago . You can hear the terrified shouts of former Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife's sister Lauren Bo. The shots are seen going into the sea close to their boat.

The footage, taken on September 6th 2008 by Scot Andrew Muncie, shows an Israeli gunboat engaging unarmed fishing boats, shooting close to their hulls, while international observers hold their arms in the air and scream for them to stop firing.  These were an  81-year-old nun, an 84-year-old holocaust survivor and Cherie Blair’s sister, Lauren Bo.

After many shots fired at close range ahead and astern of the fishing boats and into the sea between them, narrowly missing them, the firing ceased. The firing is clearly highly dangerous - but this time no one was injured. Palestinian fishermen claim 14 colleagues have died in similar incidents since June 2007.

Muncie, 34, of Dalbreagha, Spean Bridge, with Lauren Bo and the other international observers, arrived in Gaza last month on two boats from Cyprus that breached Israel’s  blockade of Gaza. 

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

What happened between Georgia and South Ossetia?

Most of us had never heard of South Ossetia - so when war suddenly broke out there as the Olympics started, many of us were dashing to our atlases - or looking it up on Google Maps. Since then the American press has judged that is was a totally unjustified Russian attack on a small democratic neighbor, Georgia - and as such to be absolutely condemned. Russia was clearly back to her Soviet days. It was another invasion like that of Hungary in 1968 - or so we were told.  (photos - the troops in group photo are reported  to be American trainers - with them training in explosives in the next photo - the last is a South Ossetian  improvised hospital in basement during during Georgian attack)

The Russians claim their attack was justified because mass slaughter had just taken place in South Ossetia at the hands of the Georgians. They said it seemed 1400 people had been slaughtered by the Georgian government - but the US-based Human Rights Watch said it was nearer 100. So - just what had happened?

Here is what i have managed to find out. There was a different slant taken on the conflict in Europe.

The first video is a BBC report on the situation -

And here is a report by an American eye-witness

Now for the basic facts as far as I can establish them

Ossetia historically has been different from Georgia. They were absorbed into the Russian empire at different times. The people are ethnically different. The Ossetians live both north and south of the Caucasian Mountains which run from the shores of the Black Sea east towards the Ural mountains. The Georgians live in the large valley to the south of these mountains.

In Soviet times, Stalin, a son of Georgia, placed the Ossetians living south of these mountains under the administrative control of the Georgians. These South Ossetians did not like this - but they were given an autonomous zone as an ethnic minority and in practice it did not matter where one lived within the Soviet Union.

But when the Soviet Union was abolished by the Russians and Georgia decided to go independent, the South Ossetians refused to follow. They prized their autonomy - and wanted to remain in close relationship with the rest of their people living in North Ossetia inside Russia. When the Georgians tried to enforce their control over them, these people fiercely resisted. Hundreds died. A peace deal was eventually agreed. South Ossetia regained its autonomous status, It had self-rule - but formally stayed within Georgia. Georgian and Russian troops were deployed as peace keepers along its border. In most practical senses it had gained its independence from Georgia - but formally it remained part of Georgia.

So things remained for some years. There was often tensions between the two sides - but Georgians would flock to the markets in South Ossetia where prices were cheaper. The peace keepers, mostly Russians, stayed in place.

Then the current president was elected in Georgia - and he vowed to regain total control over South Ossetia. He started by closing down Georgian access the Ossetian markets. These people, only numbering 70,000 to 80,000, began to again fear war. The Georgians vastly outnumbered them. Skirmishes occured along their borders. Georgian spy drones were shot down.

Georgia over the past three years has heavily increased its military spending - from around $30 million a year to one billion dollars. The country has been gaining a good income from an oil pipeline built by a British oil company, BP, but with significant Israeli investment. The US has also poured funds in.  Israeli sources report that around one thousand privately contracted military advisors were sent from Israel to Georgia to train its army and improve its weaponry. Along with this came imports of Israeli and US military equipment - and about 100 American military advisors.

The Georgian Defense Minister reportedly speaks Hebrew. The alliance became very close. It was reported that Georgia had agreed to allow Israel the use of two military airfields if Israel decided to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. These would greatly shorten the route the Israeli strike would have to take -and make it much harder for Iran to stop it.

What is called the "Silk Route" strategy was also in play. The oil pipe line laid across Georgia takes Central Asian petroleum to a Turkish Mediterranean sea port from which the Israelis were planning to pipe underwater some to Israel and across to an Israeli port on the Red Sea from which it could be supplied to Asia. The US neo-con plan is to militarize this route via Georgia to the Caspian and its oil - with alliances to protect it and massive supplies of armaments. The new alliance is known as GUAM.

This 'silk route' runs right along Russia's southern borders and would give NATO and the US enormous advantages. It was hoped that it would take the riches of this very important, very oil-rich former Soviet region away from Russia, seriously limiting Russia's economic potential, while greatly enhancing the West's control over oil.

Georgia is practically essential if oil is to be got to the Mediterranean while avoiding Russia.

'The logical routes to take oil to Asia are via the pipeline now being built across China to the Caspian and also a pipe line to the Persian Gulf across Iran would be highly logical and economic. But the latter is the one the West does not want and are actively blocking.

The Recent War

It was planned by Georgia as a surprise strike against the capital of South Ossetia to begin at the moment when everyone was watching the start of the Olympics.

It was immediately preceeded by a meeting of the GUAM military alliance in Georgia in early July - then by a Russian military exercise near Georgia but inside Russia  and by a military exercise involving 1,200 US troops and about 700 Georgian inside Georgia. In fact this only finished one week before the war broke out.

Interestingly, the Russians only pulled out of their two Soviet-era bases inside Georgia, as agreed with the Georgians, immediately before the US/Georgian joint military exercise.

It is inconceivable that the US and Israel did not know about this war in advance. This is also the view of Israeli military experts. They believe that Israeli advisors were with the Georgian troops during the initial attack. The Russians believe that Americans also were - producing an American passport dropped in a building captures by the Georgians inside S. Ossetia. American ration packs were also found.

The Start of the War.

Just a few hours before it started, the Georgian president announced the offer of a peace deal with the South Ossetians.  This now seems to have been merely a ploy.

The Georgian forces at the same time assembled around the Georgian city of Gori close to the South Ossetian border.  Many vehicles carrying batteries of 40 Grad rockets at a time were set up in nearby fields along with other artillery. Planes were loaded with bombs.

Then suddenly they attacked.  Electric power was shut off and the residential neighborhoods of the capital town of South Ossetia were targetted by the  Grad Rockets. They came in through the roofs and walls. They hit cars upon the roads.  Georgian tanks blasted the Russian peace-keepers base, killing many of them.

The Georgians soon claimed they had seized this town  - but the Ossetians fought back with molotov cocktails against the tanks, destroying several of them.  The Georgians came back. We now have mobile phone video of their tanks shooting at the houses as they drove down city roads. The water supplies were also cut off.  We have many photos of the bullet scared and burnt out brick or stone walled houses. The Georgians now tried to capture the tunnel on the only major road from Russia into South Ossetia - and it was at this point that they were stopped by Russians coming out of this tunnel to the aid of the Ossetians.

The war was then swiftly ended in Ossetia - it had only lasted a few days.

Nevertheless the Ossetian capital and villages were so scarred that it was felt that about 1,400 must have died in the town and the neighboring villages. Stories were told about hand grenades thrown into cellars by the Georgian troops .  Ryan Grist, the British head of the OSCE Tkhinval Field Office witnessed this attack and said 'the entire city was under fire... It is absolutely intolerable that a peaceful city full of civilians should be shelled.'
However many local people managed to survive  in cellars, half the population managed to flee  to shelter in Russia,  and the current Ossetian list of dead numbers about 320.

This video shows Tskhinval, the capital of South Ossetia and the widespread destruction. The yellow building you see at 00:42 was a University. Then it shows the building of Ossetian television that was destroyed with Georgian tanks and GRADS according to the Ossetians.

North Ossetians  also rushed to help - and when they saw this devastation they set out on revenge attacks, raiding and looting the nearby town of Gori where the attack had come from.  It took time for the Russians to stop this - perhaps because they too were angry at what had been done.

For them, the President of Georgia is as evil as was Saddam Husein. He was responsible for an horrific war crime. Amnesty International has repeated condemned his government for using torture. Last year in November he brutally put down the Opposition within his country. 

The Russians did not try to topple him - but they lingered inside Georgia to humiliate him and to destroy the military equipment the Georgian government had assembled near to South Ossetia.  The fighting would not have stopped if the Russians had not gone into Georgia - as the artillery, planes and grad rockets have a long range and could reach into the heart of Ossetia from Georgian territory. 

 The Russians then refused to leave until he had signed an agreement not to try to use violent means to regain control over South Ossetia.  They left immediately after he signed this - it took days to get this out of him. They did not touch the oil pipeline.

Behind the scenes, the Russians, by standing up to what they regard as a ruthless attack on a civilian population planned with the assistance of Israelis and Americans,  have seriously derailed the Washington and UK neocons' plans for this region.  Thus the incredibly hostile reactions to the Russian action  afterwards - despite the Russians having stopped an invasion. The Russians are now heroes among the Ossetians - but demonized for this in the West.

What has happened since?

Turkey stopped  two major American warships from passing through the Dardanelles to come to Georgia's aid.  They did this under a pre-Second World War treaty. But this was astonishing given that Turkey is in NATO.

The Caspian nations stopped pumping oil though the pipeline through Georgia - sending it instead out via a Russian pipeline. It is not known how long this is for.

In the Ukraine, a vital part of Neocon plans to closely encircle Russia and make it indefensible  has come to nothing this week.  Why - because Ukraine's Prime Minister was extremely unhappy with the President's plans to embrace NATO and the West and to turn the country's back on Russia.  Most people in Ukraine in opinion polls now question if joining NATO is the right thing for their country - they are very unhappy with what is seen as Western bias in the policies of the President - he is now most unpopula. A more pro-Russian government is likely to be put into place.

The Caspian oil nations before all this happened  had formed their own defense alliance including China and Russia - with Iran given guest status. America is not part of this - and nor is the EU.


Friday, 12 September 2008

Important post on Iran

September 07, 2008

Report: '60 Minutes' Cut Ahmadinejad's Statement, 'Solution Is Democracy' in Israel/Palestine

The interview that Mike Wallace did of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 2 years ago was aired on C-Span recently, and a diligent blogger has reported on what "60 Minutes" cut out of the interview when it aired. When Wallace confronted Ahmadinejad with the "wipe Israel off the map" threats, Ahmadinejad said that "the solution is democracy" in Israel and Palestine, a suggestion that he favors a one-state solution. I agree with blogger Tom Murphy that "60"'s edits misrepresent Ahmadinejad's thrust, making him out to be far more confrontational than he is, especially after Wallace promised Ahmadinejad that he would listen to his complete answers to questions. And yes, that this amounts to "suppression of basic facts concerning Israel and the Palestinians."

Here's Murphy's data:

The text in red was edited out of the 60 Minutes broadcast:

MR. WALLACE: You are very good at filibustering. You still have not answered the question. You still have not answered the question. Israel must be wiped off the map. Why?

PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD: Well, don't be hasty, sir. I'm going to get to that.

MR. WALLACE: I'm not hasty.

PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD: I think that the Israeli government is a fabricated government and I have talked about the solution. The solution is democracy. We have said allow Palestinian people to participate in a free and fair referendum to express their views. What we are saying only serves the cause of durable peace. We want durable peace in that part of the world. A durable peace will only come about with once the views of the people are met.

So we said that allow the people of Palestine to participate in a referendum to choose their desired government, and of course, for the war to come an end as well. Why are they refusing to allow this to go ahead? Even the Palestinian administration and government which has been elected by the people is being attacked on a daily basis, and its high-ranking officials are assassinated and arrested. Yesterday, the speaker of the Palestinian parliament was arrested, elected by the people, mind you. So how long can this go on?

We believe that this problem has to be dealt with fundamentally. I believe that the American government is blindly supporting this government of occupation. It should lift its support, allow the people to participate in free and fair elections. Whatever happens let it be. We will accept and go along. The result will be as you said earlier, sir.

MR. WALLACE: Look, I mean no disrespect. Let's make a deal. I will listen to your complete answers if you'll stay for all of my questions. My concern is that we might run out of time.

PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD: Well, you're free to ask me any questions you please, and I am hoping that I'm free to be able to say whatever is on my mind. You are free to put any question you want to me, and of course, please give me the right to respond fully to your questions to say what is on my mind.

Do you perhaps want me to say what you want me to say? Am I to understand --


PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD: So if that is the case, then I ask you to please be patient.

MR. WALLACE: I said I'll be very patient.

PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD: Maybe these are words that you don't like to hear, Mr. Wallace.

MR. WALLACE: Why? What words do I not like to hear? [the words highlighted in red and edited out of the interview]

PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD: Because I think that you're getting angry.

MR. WALLACE: No, I couldn't be happier for the privilege of sitting down with the president of Iran.

Posted at 10:09 PM in Iran, Israel/Palestine, Journalism, U.S. Policy in the Mideast | Permalink

thanks to Philip Weiss blog