Monthly Archives: January 2009

Political crisis and humanitarian situation in Madagascar

Source: United Nations Country Team in Madagascar

Date: 30 Jan 2009

The following report has been prepared by the OCHA support mission to the Office of the Resident Coordinator in Madagascar in collaboration with the UN Country Team.

SITUATION

The current political volatility in Madagascar has resulted in massive street protests, violence and looting. In Antananarivo significant material damage has been done to shops, markets and other businesses. Deaths (82) and a high number of injured people (321 injured of whom 108 hospitalised)[1] were registered in hospitals and other health centers across Antananarivo and other cities and regions (Toliary, Antsirabe, region Diana, region Sava, Fianarantsoa)[2] . As of today, only three local radio stations are reported functioning in the capital and there is still no nation-wide TV coverage. All international and domestic airports, as well as ports, are operational.

UN RESPONSE

The UN Country Team, under the leadership of the Resident Coordinator, is closely monitoring the humanitarian situation in the country. The UN House, where a majority of the UN agencies are based, is open and functioning. In view of the operational and logistical challenges, UN agencies are reviewing their operational capacity and are ready to take appropriate measures when necessary; this includes the strengthened security of WFP’s port warehouses in Toamasina and Toliary where for security reasons dispatches from these warehouses have been suspended until further notice. The UNICEF warehouse in Antananarivo is under no threat, having been reinforced with additional security personnel.

HUMANITARIAN ANALYSIS

The continuing political crisis is likely to compound the fight for daily survival of the two thirds of the Malagasy population living in poverty, risking pushing many even further over the edge. As the crisis spreads into other major cities and towns of the country, it is expected to generate equal humanitarian challenges. The UN Country Team is not only concerned about the immediate humanitarian impact, but also that Madagascar is likely to find itself with weakened capacity to respond to a number of humanitarian challenges, either current or lying ahead, including the cyclones, floods and drought, to which the country is excessively prone.

HEALTH (Cluster Lead: WHO)

There is a serious concern about public health including the access to basic health services. Besides transport difficulties, the population is likely to have fewer financial resources to pay for transport to and from medical facilities. Approximately 165 women give birth every day in Antananarivo. Women giving birth during curfew hours at night have no access to trained birth attendants, and even less to emergency obstetric care if needed. Also, deteriorating environmental conditions and limited surveillance create an epidemic risk. Other factors to take into account are the existence of a high rate of children under 5 vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases (at least 20%), the low rate of health facilities utilization, estimated at 30%, and the educed access to iron supplements for pregnant women and Vitamin A for breastfeeding women.

PROTECTION (Cluster Lead: UNICEF)

A serious concern exists with regards to the access of the most vulnerable groups, in particular women and children, to limited public and social support services under the political crisis. Technical clusters are well aware of the protection challenges and are closely monitoring the situation in Antananarivo and in the field. The unusual rates of violence recorded this week have generated high levels of stress and anxiety among the population, including children and youth who witnessed or were directly exposed to it. This is likely to require in some cases psychological support which, unfortunately, is at a nascent stage in Madagascar. The destruction and potential negative economic impact are likely to result in job losses, thereby directly decreasing overall family cash income and risking generating harmful behaviour. Linked to food insecurity and school drop-out rates, the protective environment of children in poor areas are all expected to be adversely impacted.

NUTRITION AND FOOD SECURITY (Cluster Lead: UNICEF)

There is a serious concern about food security. A chain of stores, MAGROS, has been pillaged with large quantities of rice disappearing overnight. MAGROS is known to stock rice, which has a stabilizing effect on the overall rice price index in the country. Some shortages of rice and cooking oil have been reported as citizens continue to stock up on basic commodities, leading to price increases on the market for basic necessities. While currently some looted stocks are reportedly being sold at reduced prices in peripheral markets, lack of cash in hand as well as potential shortages may seriously impact on the food basket of the most vulnerable families, affecting the children under 5 and pregnant and breastfeeding women diet and nutrition status. It should be noted that nutritional and food security surveys carried out late 2008 by UNICEF and WFP respectively confirm the already precarious situation of the urban population in these areas. UNICEF’s survey shows that malnutrition for children under 5 years of age (as shown by chronic malnutrition rate > 50%) in some parts of Antananarivo is above the country’s average. WFP’s food security assessment for Antananarivo shows that 20% of the population is under severe food insecurity; 42% under moderate food insecurity; while only 29% are relatively safe in terms of food security[3]. A high proportion of women (19%) have a Body Mass Index lower than 18.5, representing chronic energy deficiency. In addition one pregnant woman in two (50%) suffers from anemia[4]. Therefore, lack of availability of food could exacerbate these vulnerabilities.

EDUCATION (Cluster Lead: UNICEF)

Depending on their locations in the captail and potential exposure to violence, many schools remain closed to date. The need for catch-up classes, specific support to re-establish the sense of normalcy, and activities to reassure children will need to be urgently addressed in Antananarivo.

HABITAT (Cluster Lead: IFRC/Malagasy Red Cross)

Currently no impact

WATER AND SANITATION (Cluster Lead: UNICEF)

The political crisis is putting on hold the municipal garbage collection services, causing the accumulation of garbage. An imminent return of rains would likely bring about the deterioration of water quality in the poor areas of Antananarivo where most people use either well water or water collected from rice fields.

AGRICULTURE (Cluster Lead: FAO)

On account of the fact that the first rice harvest has already been picked, with the second harvest planted, there is no immediate impact of the political unrest on the sector, according to FAO. However, if the crisis persists, it is predicted that the long term impact on agriculture will take up the form of labour shortages generated by security issues. Experience tells that people are reluctant to migrate for work from other regions under current conditions. This could potentially have a significant impact on the yield and price of rice, as was the case in May 2002.

LOGISTICS AND COMMUNICATION (Cluster Lead: WFP)

The current crisis is impacting on logistics and communication in terms of accessibility, timely delivery of assistance, and interruptions in the flow of information between the capital and the field. The cluster is currently studying the type of impact the ongoing political turmoil will have on logistics and communication, focusing on the measures to be taken to minimize it.

EARLY RECOVERY (Cluster Lead: UNDP)

The Early Recovery network, with the involvement of all UN agencies, is developing an Early Recovery Framework and an Early Recovery Work Plan. Key strategies include: – Reconciliation and stabilisation, – Ensuring equitable governance, – Revitalizing economic livelihoods and food security, – Restoring basic services, – Promoting human rights and gender, – A context-based Post Crisis Needs Assessment (PCNA) with the collaboration of the World Bank and UN agencies, – Initial Livelihood Impact Assessment (ILIA) or Detailed Livelihood Assessment (DLA) with the participation of FAO, ILO and UNDP, – Emphasis on the importance of activities around “responsible communication”, including: Working with the media and engaging respected local community leaders and elders to (1) change the dynamic of messages from partisan to objective information/facts, and (2) mitigate further violence and looting; Working on equitable governance advocating for a reconciliation platform if needed.

POLITICAL CRISIS AND ONGOING HUMANITARIAN OPERATIONS

Last week two cyclones, Eric and Fanele, struck the north-eastern and south-western coasts of Madagascar respectively, bringing heavy rain and strong winds to a number of districts. Fortunately, this time the level of damage was moderate. It is believed that existing national capacity, supported by the Humanitarian Country Team, suffices to assume the responsibility for relief efforts for some 54,802 people affected and 4,102 without shelter[5]. The districts of Mandritsara (Sofia Region, hit by Eric) and Morondava and Manja (Menabe Region, hit by Fanele) have been the most severely affected in general. The cyclone season traditionally continues through April 2009. Unfortunately, UNICEF staff in the field working on cyclone response have reported a marked decrease in government response to the emergency as the crisis in Antananarivo evolved. Given the current socio-political crisis in Antananarivo, further coordination on emergency cyclone response has been put on hold due to the ongoing unrest. It remains to be seen how soon the activities will pick up at full speed. A meeting of a humanitarian platform, CRIC[6], planned on 24 January was already postponed twice until further notice. In spite of the outlined difficulties, the UN agencies operating in the field are making every effort to keep up their operations in the impacted areas. For example, in collaboration with CRS in Morondava[7], WFP had prepositioned 87 Mt of cereals and 13 Mt. of pulses which are being distributed to affected people in the area. Five UNICEF trucks containing education, health and WASH supplies that departed Antananarivo on Friday, 23 January, arrived in Morondava on the weekend of 24-25 January with the intervention starting immediately. In addition, UNICEF is leading repairs and clean-up of affected schools in Morondava in coordination with the Ministry of Education and volunteers from the community. International NGOs such as CARE, CRS, and Aquasure, as well as the Malagasy Red Cross, reportedly continue their operations in the field. In the south of Madagascar, WFP continues to carry out school feeding, nutrition and FfW activities without a reported interruption and UNFPA continues offering basic and reproductive health services and information, including hygiene kits, to drought affected women of reproductive age.

COORDINATION

Humanitarian activities are coordinated by the Office of the Resident Coordinator, with the support of UN OCHA. The Cluster Approach is active and operational in Madagascar under the leadership of cluster leads. Coordination of activities in disaster preparedness and management at the UN level is dealt with by a technical group GT PGC (Groupe Thématique pour la Prévention et la Gestion des Catastrophes), chaired and vice-chaired by UNICEF and WFP respectively. The UN Information Centre (CINU) is in charge of the UN information strategy vis-à-vis Malagasy citizens, keeping them informed on UN mission and activities in the country.

Contact Details:

Dr. Xavier Leus Resident Coordinator of the UN System Antananarivo, Madagascar Mateusz Tuniewicz Information and Advocacy Officer UN OCHA/BCR Antananarivo, Madagascar: +261 32 05 076 94 Zoe Rasoaniaina National Information Officer UN Information Centre Antanananarivo, Madagascar: +261 32 07 466 69 Rija Rakotoson Humanitarian Affairs Officer UN OCHA/BCR Antananarivo, Madagascar +261 32 05 076 93

Notes

[1] Official data released by the Ministry of Health, Madagascar.

[2] Official data released by the Ministry of Health, Madagascar.

[3] WFP’s Food Security Assessment in Urban Areas of Madagascar. November 2008.

[4] Demographic and Health Survey 2003-2004.

[5]The latest consolidated data available from the BNGRC in Madagascar as of 27 January at 1 PM in addition to the latest information from the region.

[6] Main coordination body between Government and partners

[7] The district of Morondava was impacted by Cyclone Fanele.

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Sri Lanka pledges safe passage for civilians

Source: Reuters Foundation

Date: 29 Jan 2009

By C. Bryson Hull COLOMBO, Jan 29 (Reuters) –

Sri Lanka’s president on Thursday pledged safe passage for thousands of people trapped by fighting with Tamil Tiger rebels, hours after a convoy carrying more than 200 seriously wounded people left the war zone. Amid rising international outcry over the fate of civilians, President Mahinda Rajapaksa challenged the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to let people leave the 300 square km (115 sq miles) of jungle where the separatist rebels are now cornered.

 “I urge the LTTE within the next 48 hours to allow free movement of civilians to ensure their safety and security. For all those civilians, I assure a safe passage to a secure environment,” Rajapaksa said in a statement. The military said it would not cease combat operations or declare a ceasefire, but would stop shooting to allow civilians to get out as it did for the convoy on Thursday.

“Whenever civilians want to move into safer areas, we will adhere to that,” spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said. Sri Lankan troops are battling to finish one of Asia’s longest wars, having won a series of major battles and swiftly encircled the LTTE in the northeast of the Indian Ocean island. Aid agencies say about 250,000 civilians are caught between the foes and at serious risk. Rajapaksa’s announcement came after United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said a convoy took 226 people out of the war zone after days of negotiations, while another ferried in 170 tonnes of food. The ICRC had said hundreds have been killed or wounded in the last week.

The government says those numbers are too high and may include wounded rebels. It says it has no exact figure. NO EXODUS Many people were stranded without adequate treatment in poorly equipped hospitals until the U.N.-ICRC convoy carried them to a government hospital in Vavuniya, outside the war zone, the ICRC said. “The wounded and sick had to wait for days before being transferred safely.

It had become critical that they receive medical treatment immediately,” Paul Castella, head of the ICRC delegation in Sri Lanka, said in a statement. The United Nations had said it tried to get the people out on Tuesday, but the LTTE stopped them from going. On Thursday, LTTE political head B. Nadesan denied the rebels blocked the convoy, pro-rebel web site http://www.TamilNet.com said. “Any individual who wishes to leave the combat zone has an individual right to move anywhere,” TamilNet quoted him as saying.

“But we will not be organising any ‘organised exodus’ against the collective will of the people.” Human rights watchdogs and the government accuse the LTTE — designated a terrorist group by India, the United States and the European Union — of keeping civilians in its territory to use them as fighters, battlefield labourers or human shields. Both sides have traded blame for the casualties, with the Tigers saying the army is shelling a no-fire zone it set up last week for civilians.

The military denies that and says the Tigers moved artillery to keep people from going into that area. It also accused the LTTE of creating a civilian crisis to build pressure for a truce, as it has done in the past when losing in battle. It is nearly impossible to verify accounts from the war zone, since journalists are rarely allowed in. (Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva) (Editing by Richard Meares)

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Samy Vellu perlu hormati kedaulatan undang-undang

HISHAMUDDIN BELASAH SAMY VELLU

saiful.hasam@utusan.com.my

KUALA LUMPUR 28 Jan. – Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO membidas Presiden MIC, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu dan dua Timbalan Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Datuk K. Devamany dan Senator T. Murugiah kerana cuba meletakkan kedudukan mereka melebihi undang-undang negara. Ketua Pemuda UMNO, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein berkata, mereka bertiga tidak sepatutnya melupakan prinsip asas undang-undang bahawa yang salah tetap bersalah. Sehubungan itu, beliau meminta ketiga-tiga tokoh parti politik India dalam gabungan komponen Barisan Nasional (BN) itu menghormati kedaulatan undang-undang negara.

“Dia (Samy Vellu, Devamany dan Murugiah) siapa boleh meletakkan diri melebihi undang-undang negara, yang salah tetap bersalah. “Mereka perlu akur kepada undang-undang negara secara terhormat,” katanya sewaktu dihubungi Utusan Malaysia di Mekah hari ini. Hishammuddin mengulas kemelut tuding menuding jari antara menteri, timbalan menteri, polis dan ahli politik berikutan kematian suspek kes curi kereta mewah, A. Kugan, 22, sewaktu disoal siasat.

Ketua Polis Selangor, Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar sebelum ini berkata, bedah siasat mendapati Kugan mati akibat paru-paru berair tetapi keluarganya mendesak diadakan bedah siasat kedua kerana mendakwa ia disebabkan kecederaan. Minggu lalu, Devamany dan Murugiah bersama sekumpulan orang awam didakwa menyerbu dan menceroboh rumah mayat Hospital Serdang sehingga ada yang bertindak merakamkan gambar mayat Kugan.

Kedua-dua timbalan menteri itu mempertahankan tindakan mereka berada di sana dengan alasan mententeramkan keluarga Kugan.

Menteri Dalam Negeri, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar baru-baru ini pula membuat kenyataan bahawa kedua-dua timbalan menteri itu mungkin menghadapi tindakan jika didapati melanggar undang-undang.

Sehubungan itu, Samy Velu dalam kenyataannya kelmarin menyatakan komitmen untuk melantik peguam mewakili dua timbalan menteri itu sekiranya mereka didakwa di mahkamah. “Kami akan melantik seramai mana peguam yang boleh bagi mempertahankan mereka jika didakwa di mahkamah,” kata Samy Vellu yang menerajui MIC selama 30 tahun.

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THE GREAT ARAB BETRAYAL THAT STINKS

By Dr. ABBAS BAKHTIAR

Betrayal is the only truth that sticks – Arthur Miller

The Arab Collaborators

The often asked question, when it comes to the Palestinians, is about the role of Arab countries in the Palestinian struggle for freedom. The people not familiar with the political landscape of the area often see the Middle East as two camps, Arab countries on one side and Israel on the other. The reality is totally different. Israel has seldom been alone. Beside its usual American, French, British and other staunch allies, she has had the hidden backing of several Arab countries.

For close to 30 years now, many Arab countries have been collaborating with Israel ; some like Egypt (gained independence: 1922) and Jordan (gained independence: 1946) openly, while others like Saudi Arabia (founded: 1932), UAE (founded: 1972) and Kuwait (founded: 1961) from behind the scenes. The reasons for this collaboration vary from country to country but they all have one thing in common: the rulers of these countries are all dictators and need foreign protection from their own people. Some such as Saudi Arabia , Jordan , Kuwait and UAE were put in power by the British. The founder of Saudi Arabia , Abdul-Aziz bin Saud (the kingdom is name after him) was put in power
by the British.

The same goes for the others, except Egypt which experienced a coup by the army officers in 1952, resulting in the ousting of the monarchy and the accompanying British influence. But the Western influence returned with
Anwar Sadat. All these countries are dictatorships and all are under pressure from their people. What they cannot accept is any democratically elected form of government in their mist.

They fear that if an Arab government becomes democratic they may have to become one themselves, hence losing power. One of the things that they love about Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, is that he won the election not by popular vote but by popular method of rigging the election; something that these Arab leaders understand and respect.

In contrast, Hamas really represented the aspiration of the people. As soon as Mahmood Abbas’ term as president is over and he had to stand for re-election, he would surely lose. In contrast, Hamas really won the municipal elections in
2005 and the Parliamentary election in 2006. The elections were supervised by international observers, many from Europe , and US.

Palestinians were fed-up with the corrupt regime of Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah. They wanted to clean house. But as soon as Hamas took over, the US and the Europeans put an embargo on Hamas, calling it a terrorist organisation and not a peace partner. Israel closed the borders and refused to let anything into Gaza . Egypt also did the same.

What is not mentioned much in the media is that this was done with the complete approval of the Saudi Arabia , Egypt and Jordan . After all, Egypt could have opened its border for transfer of food and fuel. The reasons behind this hostility were and are that Hamas is a truly elected government and worst of all, Hamas is a branch or an off-shoot of Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt.

Muslim Brotherhood has a branch or related organisation in Jordan as well. Egypt and Jordan are worried that should Hamas survive and show its resistance, their people may get the idea that they can also resist the tyrannical rule of
these despots. One must not forget that Muslim Brotherhood represents the only serious challenge to the Mubarak’s rule in Egypt .

Egypt

The 81 year old Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has been “president” since 1981 (28 years). He has won every election with a comfortable majority. He is much loved by his secret services. Prior to every election he arrests and imprisons all the opposition, ensuring a “clean” election. Torture is so widely used and accepted in Egypt that US outsources torturing of some its prisoners to Egypt .

This alone should tell you volumes about the nature of Mubarak’s rule. He is now trying hard to crown his playboy son as his successor. But the Americans are not so sure if the son is capable of keeping the 80 million Egyptians in line and are therefore looking for alternative candidates. The head of the feared main secret service is one of the prime candidates along with some of the top generals. Challenging him is the Muslim Brotherhood organisation, enjoying grass root support from all sections of the Egyptian society including Lawyers, doctors, judges and student associations. Not surprisingly, US and Israel call Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation.

By all accounts, the Muslim Brotherhood be it in Jordan , Egypt or the occupied territories such as Gaza runs a clean operation, running many charity organisations and providing services to the poor and the needy. As such wherever they are, they pose a threat to the corrupt regimes, since they provide an alternative to the people of that area.

Jordan

King Abdullah II of Jordan , born of a British mother, educated in the West, including the Jesuit Center of Georgetown University, was brought to power by the CIA. His Uncle was a long time crown price, yet after his father died in a US hospital, Madeline Albright, Clinton ‘s Secretary of Estate flew to Jordan to inform the Jordanians that the King on his death bed had changed his will and named his son Abdullah as his successor. The new king Abdullah II is married to the Queen Rania, a Palestinian.

The majority of this Kingdom of 5 million people are Palestinians who are not very friendly to this King. In 1967 there was a Palestinian uprising (led by the PLO) against King Hussein (ruled: 1952-1999, the father of the current king), which resulted in heavy casualties among Palestinians. In addition, the Kingdom is currently full of Iraqi refugees who resent the King’s help to the Americans in invasion of their country. On top of all this, we have the Muslim Brotherhood which tries hard to abolish the monarchy. King Abdullah relies heavily on the US support and backing for staying in power. King Abdullah also sees a natural ally in Israel , a country that can come to its aid in case of another uprising.

Saudi Arabia (House of Saud)

I don’t have to tell you much about Saudi Arabia . The Kingdom is run by the 84 year old, ailing Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud. His personal wealth is estimated at $21 billion USD. He rules a clan of 8000 princes who in turn rule the country. Saudi Arabia is the centre of corruption in the Arab world. The Saudi rulers corrupt everything with their money. Lacking the necessary mental power or physical courage, they try to stay in power by subterfuge, lies, and deception. They fund the real extremists on the one hand while portraying themselves as the protectors of the Western interest on the other. They preach intolerance and xenophobia to their people decrying the Western decadence, while spending a lot of time enjoying the life in the West. They pay the West for protection against their own people and they pay the extremists to do their fighting elsewhere. Saudi rulers are indeed the worst of them all.

House of Saud is also the financier of the so called Arab Moderates and the extremism that they cause. House of Saud financed the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. They later financed the Taliban. They also paid Saddam Hussein to fight Iran . Then they paid the Americans and Egyptians to fight Saddam Hussein. They are the financiers of death and misery. They finance anything, anywhere, as long as this reduces the threat to their illegitimate rule. They are currently financing the civil war in Somalia , bandits in Baluchistan ( Pakistan and Iran ) and god knows what else. They are detested by their own people and neighbours yet loved by Bush, Cheney and the oil companies.

As long as they provide the money and oil the US is willing to tolerate them. And guess what? The Muslim Brotherhood hates the House of Saud too. This makes them a threat and hence they have to be dealt with.

The Collaboration

As can be seen, each country has a selfish reason to eliminate Hamas, but each is restrained by its population. Israel has no such a restraint imposed on it. She not only can wage a terrible war, but she also gets assistance from Arab countries. Indeed it is the second time (the first was the invasion of Lebanon in 2006) that Israel is getting open and solid support from these Arab countries.  The invasion of Gaza was discussed in Egypt before its implementation. Egypt , Jordan , and Saudi Arabia are Israel ‘s active partners.

Egypt is actively involved in stopping all aids from getting to Palestinians in Gaza save a token few trucks. These few trucks are allowed to go through so they can be filmed and shown to Egyptian people. All demonstrations are banned, and all Egyptian volunteers for Gaza are either arrested or sent back.

There are hundreds of thousands of volunteers across the Muslim world that are willing to go to the aid of the Palestinians, but the Egyptian authorities don’t allow them passage. Egyptians even stop medical aid from passing through
their territory.

This is part of a report from Associated Press:

RAFAH, Egypt : Frustration is mounting at Egypt ‘s border with the Gaza Strip, where many local and foreign doctors are stuck after Egyptian authorities denied them entry into the coastal area now under an Israeli ground invasion.

Anesthesiologist Dimitrios Mognie from Greece idles his time at a cafe near the border, drinking tea and chatting with other doctors, aid workers and curious Egyptians.

“This is a shame,” said Mognie, who decided to use his vacation time to try help Gazans. He thought entering through Egypt , which has a narrow border with the Hamas-ruled strip, was his best bet. “That in 2009 they have people in need of help from a doctor and we can go to help and they won’t let us.

This is crazy,” he added.

In addition there are many Iranian cargo planes full of food and medicine which have been sitting on the tarmacs in Egypt for days waiting for permission to deliver their cargo. Egyptians even denied the medical aid sent by the son of the Libyan President Qaddafi to land in Egypt .

One thing is clear: these three countries do not want the Israelis to fail in their mission of totally destroying Gaza . Hosni Mubarak said so himself. The daily Haaretz reported that Hosni Mubarak had told European ministers on a peace mission that Hamas must not be allowed to win the ongoing war in Gaza .

As Egypt physically aids the Israeli military by denying food, fuel and medicine to the civilians, the House of Saud helps Israel by giving her time and diplomatic cover. When Israel started its invasion there was an immediate call for an Arab summit. Saudi Arabia and Jordan (along with Egypt of course) delayed the summit. The Saudis along with the UAE said that they had another meeting to attend to and therefore Palestinian issue had to wait. After a few days when the summit was eventually held, they issued the same old statements. Yet this time same as the Israel ‘s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, they blamed the victims.

In a statement, Saudi Arabia blamed Hamas for Israel ‘s continuing offensive in the Gaza Strip. Saudi Arabia , after blaming Hamas, declared that it will not even consider an oil embargo on Israel ‘s supporters. She then again blamed Hamas.

By this time, the three Arab countries along with Kuwait and UAE began singing the old song: international community is not doing anything about the catastrophe that is taking place in Gaza . It seems that these Arab tyrants have no shame at all. This reminds me of a quote from Marquis De Sade (1740-1814):  “One is never so dangerous when one has no shame, than when one has grown too old to blush.”

These Arab leaders (many are indeed too old to blush) are complicit in the murder of so many civilians, especially young children. According to Agence France-Presse, quoting the medics on the ground, fully one third of all people killed have been children.

How can these Arab leaders justify this to their people?

The answer is that they cannot. Israel knows this and for the second time can show the Arab street that their leaders are nothing but a bunch of old hypocrites.  These Arab leaders are now exposed and can do nothing but to cooperate fully with Israel and US. What stand between them and their people’s rage is their army and secret services; which in turn are supported by US.

Israel has cleverly exposed these leaders for what they are: collaborators of the worst kind. These Arab leaders have brought an unimaginable shame to their people. To quote Lucien Bouchard: I have never known a more vulgar expression of betrayal and deceit. Our hope is now with the people of these countries to clean this stain from their honour.

1. ABC News Norway . “Røde Kors sjokkert over Israel ,” (Red Cross Shocked by Israel ), 8 January 2009.

2. Aljazeera.net. “UN: No fighters in targeted school,” 8 January 2009.

3.  Aljazeera.net. ” Israel fires on UN Gaza convoy,” 8 January 2009.

4. nytimes.com. “For Israel , 2006 Lessons but Old Pitfalls,” 5 January 2009.

5.  The Associated Press. “Doctors stuck at bottleneck on Egypt-Gaza border,” 6 January 2009.

6. google.com: hosted news. ” Egypt denies Kadhafi’s son permission to land at airport,” 6 January 2009.

7. Agence France-Presse. “Children make up third of Gaza dead,” 7 January 2009.

Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar lives in Norway . He is a management consultant and a contributing writer for many online journals. He’s a former associate professor of Nordland University , Norway and can be contacted at:
Bakhtiarspace- articles@ yahoo. no

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23 proofs of Israel’s defeat in the 23-day war

crying

Israel began its Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the Gaza Strip on December 27, 2008, an almost three-week long bloodbath which killed or wounded thousands of civilians.

Taking into consideration the lessons the regime learned from its defeat in the summer 2006 war against the Lebanese Hezbollah, Tel Aviv avoided setting out any specific objectives for its military operation in a bid to enable it to claim victory after the conflict ended.

The Israeli military initially presumed that it could settle its old score with Hamas and crush the movement in a matter of days. Relying on the support of some Arab states which viewed Hamas’s defeat as a blow to Iran, the regime, therefore, took the opportunity provided by the transitional period in the White House and escalated its bombing campaign into a full-blown ground offensive to kill Hamas leaders once and for all.

The plan, however, blew up in the face of its masterminds; everything spiraled out of control and the Israeli Army found itself stuck in a quagmire. Subsequently, the leaders of the Kadima Party who were on the brink of political bankruptcy and had resorted to the plan to save themselves ahead of the general elections, had to hastily find a way to clean up the mess.

They unilaterally declared a truce to break the deadlock while disguising their military failure as a humanitarian act.

However, Israeli military and political officials interestingly are still boasting about a decisive victory over Hamas. The reality on the ground proves the opposite; it indicates a defeat more humiliating than what the regime suffered in the 33-day war.

Israel was, without doubt, the loser because:

1- From the military perspective, “the most powerful” army in the Middle East which faced only a militia group hardly advanced into the Gaza Strip’s urban areas. It faced fierce resistance and realized that the price of any military victory would be too high.

2- At the beginning of the operation, Israel announced that the operation was aimed at preventing rocket attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian groups against Israeli towns. Palestinians, however, continued striking Israeli targets, even in the last hours of the war.

3- Hamas extended the range of its rockets and managed to hit targets as far away as 60 kilometers from the Gaza Strip. In fact, the Israeli operation helped Hamas boost its military might.

4- In the course of killing civilians, the Israeli regime set up a factory for producing living time bombs which will jeopardize the security situation for Israel. Civilian casualties in any conflict always radicalize members of bereaved families. Following the massacre of civilians in Gaza, it is more likely that those Palestinians who adopted a nonviolent approach to resist the Israeli occupation, will now turn to military tactics. Keep in mind that many of them have noting to lose.

5- Israel hastily signed an agreement with the US-a third party which was not directly involved in the war-to prevent “the arm smuggling” into the Gaza Strip. The deal envisaged measures to prevent Hamas from rearming, going so far as to for example seek US assistance in policing sea routes to Gaza and providing Egypt with the equipment to destroy smuggling tunnels along its border with the coastal sliver. This was however nothing but a propaganda tactic to persuade public opinion that the war had had some achievements. Shin Bet’s announcement that Hamas will be able to rearm within a few months supports this notion. The Israeli media has also revealed that Washington has given no guarantees to Tel Aviv that Hamas would not be rearmed.

6- Hamas has vowed to restore its arsenals, dealing a blow to Israeli officials who claim that the movement has been “punished” and it knows that it cannot continue its armed campaign against Israel.

7- No high-ranking Hamas leader, except Said Siyam, was killed in the Israeli operation. In fact, it is estimated that out of more than thousands of victims of the Israeli offensive, only 95 people were Hamas members and most of them were killed on the first day of the attack when Hamas was caught off guard due to alleged betrayal of some Arab states.

8- Israel’s defeat by a small group has shattered the image of an invincible army that overpowered the army of several Arab nations in 1967. It would not be surprising if Israel’s arch foes were encouraged to settle their old score with the regime after its recent defeat. No matter what you have in your arsenals, you are considered the loser if you have been defeated in your enemy’s mind. Israel seems to have entered the spiral of decline.

9- From the political perspective, Israel’s situation is not any better than the one in the military arena. For the first time, two Israeli ambassadors were expelled, a big diplomatic humiliation for Tel Aviv.

10- The indiscriminate killing of civilians including women and children drew international condemnation to the point that the US, which always vetoes UN Security Council resolutions against Israel, was neutralized and gave in to mounting international pressure when the council voted on a binding resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire.

11- Israel’s strategy of decreasing Hamas’s popularity through putting pressure on the Gazans has obviously backfired. The Islamic movement emerged more popular than ever before after the war, because any group or person who deals a blow to Israel will be praised as a hero in the eyes of Arab nations. We witnessed the phenomenon during the 33-day war which made Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah the most popular Arab leader in the Islamic world.

12- Following the Gaza war, Mahmoud Abbas’s political life came to an end. Now, Abbas who was reportedly preparing himself for returning to Gaza after the Hamas government was toppled, has to desperately beg to political brokers to find a place for him in the political future of Palestine. If Abbas loses in the Palestinian Authority general elections – a strong possibility given the situation after the Gaza war- Israel will lose its partner for peace talks.

13- Kadima’s hopes for victory in the upcoming elections have been dashed. In other words, right-wing parties like the Likud and people like Israel Beitenu’s and Shas’s hawks will come to power, fanatics who do not even believe in peace. Israel should brace itself for days during which there would be no hope for a political solution to the current conflict.

14- The Gaza war managed another sort of uncalled for achievement for Israel: it united all Muslims and anti-Israeli parties across the world! The world has never witnessed such massive anti-Israeli rallies.

15- Hamas has set a good example for others. A small group managed to defeat the most powerful army in the Middle East. It would not be surprising if someday, we see Israel struggling to survive in a battle with a host of small or big groups and organizations which adopt military resistance as their approach.

16- The Israelis have realized that their leaders are unable to protect them; there is no safe place inside the occupied territories. It means that Israel’s worst nightmare is coming true: a dramatic rise in the rate of negative immigration followed by major demographical impacts. It could shake the foundation of the Israeli regime through changing the Jewish people to a minority group in occupied Palestine. The apprehensions about this issue have so far prompted the regime to deny Palestinian refugees the right to return to their land.

17- After the war, the world is recognizing Hamas as a major player whose role can no longer be ignored and it cannot be excluded from any political process in the Middle East.

18- Prime Minister Ismail Haniya called the war “Forqan”, a Quranic word meaning what separates good and evil. The outcome of the war weakened those Arab states who had adopted a pro-Israeli stance. On the other hand, it also highlighted the significance of the role of pro-resistance countries including Iran and Syria. Therefore, the balance of power has changed with regards to Israel’s interests.

19- Kadima leaders made a fool of themselves and showed that they lack the qualifications required to lead the regime. Kadima, which was set up by former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to end the regime’s political deadlock, committed a political suicide by attacking Gaza.

20- The war also weakened the political base of those leaders of Islamic countries who are close to Israel. They have to face their people. The process has already started as we have witnessed demonstrations in some countries in which political or social protests are rare.

21- Despite nonstop bombing of the Gaza Strip by unconventional weapons, Gazans kept their high morale, a fact reported by Western journalists. There were no long queues of people at border crossings wanting to flee to a safe place. Inside Israeli towns, scores of people were treated for “shock” everyday. In other words, Israel has also lost the psychological war.

22- The war unfortunately fueled anti-Semitic sentiments across the world. Although attacks on Jews or their property under any pretext are certainly condemned, the fact indicates that Israel, despite paying lip service to the world Jewry, never considers the interests of the Jewish. Tel Aviv even turned down a request by 11 prominent leaders of the British Jewish community who asked the regime to stop its offensive for the sake of their security.

23- There are and will be groups which will open legal cases against Israel in international courts for its war crimes in Gaza. If Hamas had been destroyed, Israeli leaders might have been able to claim that it had been worth paying such a heavy price. But without achieving anything, how can they justify their acts which have drawn a wave of international condemnation?

The Gaza war has certainly changed the status quo against Israel. History seems to repeat itself; the situation is the same as that of the days after the end of the 33-Day War except for one thing: this time, the regime has no excuse to justify its defeat; there was no inexperienced defense minister leading the war.

The Gaza war dealt the last blow to the Israeli regime and its end result is the start of a battle within the regime which will put its very existence at risk.

Those who make a mistake once may be considered as inexperienced but those who repeat their mistakes are certainly judged as being “incompetent and insane”. Shall we expect another Winograd report?

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Laporan Misi GPM ke Gaza – 28 Januari 2009

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Salam

Sdr sekalian

Dr. Hyzan Mohd Yusof, pakar otopedik dan salah seorang sukarelawan dari Misi Pertama GPM  ke Gaza telahpun selamat pulang ke tanahair pada hari Sabtu 24 Januari 2009, jam 10.00 malam setelah berada di sana selama seminggu. 

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Beliau melaporkan bahawa amat sukar untuk mendapat izin masuk ke Gaza. Pintu masuk ke Gaza melalui Rafah di kawal dengan ketat oleh pihak berkuasa Mesir. Tidak ada  kriteria  yang jelas yang ditetapkan oleh pihak berkuasa Mesir mengenai  siapa dan bila boleh masuk. Ada masanya wartawan dibenarkan masuk, tetapi doktor tidak dibenarkan. Makanan pula tidak dibenarkan masuk tetapi ubat-ubatan dibenarkan masuk.

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Walaubagaimanapun, alhamdulillah, dengan kerjasama sebuah NGO tempatan, sebuah truk berisi ubat-ubatan yang dibeli oleh GPM hasil sumbangan orang ramai telahpun berangkat masuk ke Gaza pada hari Jumaat, 23 Januari,  yang lalu. Trak-trak lain akan menyusul.

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Di maklumkan bahawa 2 orang anggota misi GPM  iaitu Sdr Azlan Muhammad Shariff dan Khairil Anwar telah tiba di Gaza pada jam 4.45 ptg waktu tempatan (10.45 malam waktu Malaysia) Selasa 27 Januari 2009. Mereka juga memaklumkan bahawa krew RTM1 juga berada di Gaza dan dijangka akan bersama membuat liputan.

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Misi juga telah melawat ke Hospital Palestine di Kaherah.

Cek sumbangan boleh dibuat atas nama GLOBAL PEACE MISSION dan dihantar ke alamat berikut :
(Sila tuliskan nama dan alamat penyumbang di belakang cek untuk membolehkan kami mengirim resit)

GLOBAL PEACE MISSION (GPM)
2-2A Jalan GJ 2
Batu 5 1/2 Jalan Gombak
53100 Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia
Tel
: +60 3 6188 3230  Fax: +60 3 6188 3233
Web: www.gpm.com. my Email: gpmhq@yahoo. com

Sumbangan boleh juga dimasukkan terus ke akaun GPM seperti butir berikut
melalui CASH DEPOSIT MACHINE (CDM) atau ONLINE BANKING:

BANK ISLAM (M) BERHAD : A/C no. 14 023 01 002922 4
– MAYBANK : A/C no. 564 221 611 602

(Untuk mendapatkan resit, sila fax atau emel butir transaksi berserta nama
dan alamat penyumbang kepada GPM).

Sumbangan boleh juga dihantar terus ke pejabat GPM seperti alamat tertera di
atas. Pejabat GPM kini bersebelahan dengan Masjid As Syakirin, Batu 6, Jalan
Gombak.

SHAHRUL PESHAWAR, disesuaikan dari Laporan Mohd Halimi Abdul Hamid, Exco GPM

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Iran says ship full of humanitarian supplies turned away by Israel Navy off coast of Gaza

LET HUMANITARIAN SUPPLIES TO GAZA

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent

The Israel Navy on Tuesday turned away an Iranian ship that was attempting to dock in Gaza in order to deliver humanitarian supplies to the residents of the coastal territory, Iranian radio reported.

Iran radio said that the ship departed from Iran 13 days ago carrying 200 tons of food and medical supplies.

The Israel Defense Forces spokesman said they had received no report of such an incident.

 
 

On Monday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said an Iranian ship had passed through the Suez Canal. On Tuesday, Iran radio aired an interview with Ahmed Nabad, said to be the ship’s captain, who said the ship had neared the coast of Gaza but “the Zionist regime is blocking its entry.”

When Nabad was asked if there is another route by which the ship could reach Gaza, he said the only other option was to dock in Egypt and deliver the supplies by way of the Rafah crossing.

Nabad added that senior officials in Teheran have contacted Egyptian officials to ask them for permission to deliver the aid by way of Egyptian territory.

 

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