Middle East

Thursday, 13 March 2008 19:00 Fred Hyde Editorial Dept - Middle East

Ever since last summer, when Pakistani dictator General Pervez Musharraf stepped up arrests of political opponents, each round of increased repression has been met with greater resistance to his abuse of power.

The conflict came to a head on Nov. 7, 2007, when Musharraf suspended the constitution and arrested the Supreme Court for refusing to validate his unconstitutional bid to be both president and head of the military. Musharraf closed down media outlets and arrested hundreds of judges and over 10,000 attorneys, trade unionists, students, journalists and human rights activists.

Musharraf's crackdown failed to intimidate his adversaries, including many women and youth, who bravely challenged his declaration of martial law by engaging in daily rallies, strikes, and other acts of defiance. It also sparked international protest, including demonstrations by lawyers and letter-writing campaigns participated in by the U.S. and Australian sections of the FSP.

At the same time, the Bush administration sought to shore up Musharraf's discredited government - a key ally in U.S. efforts to control Mideast oil - by putting a democratic face on his regime, which has received billions in U.S. military aid. The U.S. ordered the general to agree to a power sharing arrangement with infamously corrupt former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, his main political foe. 


Wednesday, 12 March 2008 19:00 Michael Skinner Editorial Dept - Middle East

The Afghanistan Canada Research Group was formed in 2006 by a group of York University graduate students concerned with the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan.

The focus of our work over the past two years was to document Afghan opinions of the international intervention in Afghanistan.

In June and July of 2007, I spent five weeks travelling in Afghanistan with another researcher Hamayon Rastgar. Based out of Kabul, we travelled to Bamiyan and Yawkawlang in the central region of Afghanistan, north into Parwan province, and as far south as the city of Ghazni. During Hamayon’s three month visit, he travelled further north to Mazar-e-Sharif and Konduz and as far south as Kandahar City. 

The purpose of our visit was to ask ordinary Afghans – particularly workers and students who do not have a voice in either the international or Afghan media – what they think about the international military intervention in their homeland.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008 19:00 Sungur Savran Editorial Dept - Middle East

 The February incursion of the Turkish army into northern Iraq has ended in a terrible debacle for both U.S. imperialism and Turkey.

The two allies are at loggerheads once again, after the thaw in their relations achieved at the White House talks between Bush and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan on 5 November 2007. The Turkish government and the army are the object of unprecedented criticism by the bourgeois media and also by ordinary people.

And, to add insult to injury for the USA, only three days after the withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Iraq on February 29, a triumphant Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, the President of Iran, was shown on television screens around the world in Baghdad, presumably all smiles for having achieved the feat of being the first Iranian president to visit Iraq under U.S. occupation, 29 years after the Islamic revolution and 20 years of the deadly war between the two countries.


Thursday, 17 January 2008 19:00 Yacov Ben Efrat Editorial Dept - Middle East

After returning from the Annapolis Conference, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Haaretz (November 28, 2007) that "the State of Israel cannot endure unless a Palestinian state comes into being."

Olmert had made a like pronouncement in December 2003, when he was Deputy Prime Minister to Ariel Sharon. At that time he told Nahum Barnea of Yediot Aharonot: "Israel will soon need to make a strategic recognition… We are nearing the point where more and more Palestinians will say: 'We're persuaded. We agree with [right-wing politician Avigdor] Lieberman. There isn't room for two states between the Jordan and the sea. All we want is the right to vote.' On the day they reach that point," said Olmert, "we lose everything. … I quake to think that leading the fight against us will be liberal Jewish groups that led the fight against apartheid in South Africa."

On hearing these words, Barnea rubbed his eyes in astonishment. Today, it would appear, the message is no less relevant. In Olmert's appraisal, if no solution is found to the Palestinian question, Israel will wind up with an apartheid regime; the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories will then demand the right to vote. The democratic West, he knows, will not forever tolerate an ethnocracy that withholds this right from a third or more of its subjects. Such is the Zionist nightmare.

Tuesday, 01 January 2008 19:00 Linda Averill Editorial Dept - Middle East

Palestinian immigrants thwart 20-year effort by U.S. to deport them for their radical views

On Oct. 31, 2007, the LA 8 scored a hard-earned and long sought victory for the First Amendment rights of immigrants when the Board of Immigration Appeals dropped all deportation proceedings against Khader Hamide and Michel Shehadeh.

The decision marks the end of a 20-year ordeal for the two men, who are both originally from the West Bank but have lived in the U.S. their entire adult lives as permanent residents and raised families here.

Hamide and Shehadeh are part of a group of seven Palestinians and one Kenyan, who were originally rounded up in Los Angeles in 1987, thrown into a maximum security prison for three weeks, and then threatened with deportation because of their political activism and advocacy for Palestinian statehood.


Wednesday, 26 December 2007 19:00 Sharif Hikmat Nashashibi and Guy Gabriel Editorial Dept - Middle East

Every now and then, particularly around Christmas, the odd commentator in the British press attempts to deny Israel's responsibility for the demise of Bethlehem and the suffering of its residents, blaming the Palestinians themselves and the media's supposedly inherent desire to demonise Israel. This year, one such person is Michael Gove, a columnist for The Times, writing in the newspaper on 11 December 2007 under the headline "Bethlehem and bigtory."

"The truth is very different," claims Gove, adding that the "parlous position of Palestinian Christians…is a consequence not of Israeli aggression," and that "Israel goes out of its way to honour sites and traditions sacred to other faiths."

He is either woefully ignorant of the situation, or wilfully deceiving his readers. Either way, it is evident that he has neither the knowledge nor authority to speak for Bethlehem's residents or Palestinian Christians, who would vehemently disagree with him. As such, AMW recommends that Gove and his ilk visit Bethlehem, speak to Palestinian Christians, and brush up on relevant, authoritative human rights reports. 



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