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Sunday, May 8, 2011

War’s consequences at “mothers’ weekend”

Re-reporting, editing, comment, by Carolyn Bennett

Citizens of the world must keep pressure on this U.S. president and future presidents and congresses and on entrenched power elites and militarists getting through to them that this character of violence, this perpetual war and provoked violence and its consequences in human suffering are medieval and altogether unacceptable.

True progressives must press home relentlessly the better principle, the better course of nonviolence in domestic and international affairs. The axiom still holds: Constant vigilance is the price of liberty but in the mind of the Progressivist, that liberty is not alone for the few; it is for all people, all creatures, and for nature itself.

We are not islands nor do we live alone on islands. Whether we like it or not, we are a collective, a world society.  

in the midst of war

Three hundred and twenty-seven thousand (327,000) people, according to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, have been displaced by the fighting inside Libya.

Africa spills over African borders

NATO strikes Tripoli and Libya strikes Tunisia.  Tunisian officials warned again on Sunday “that the repeated shelling from Libya of one of its border towns may force it to take measures to protect its sovereignty.”

This country’s official news agency had reported approximately “80 shells from Libya have fallen on Tunisian territory.” On April 29, Tunisia had summoned Libya’s ambassador and complained about shells falling in inhabited areas.

A Live blog to Al Jazeera from inside Libya said, “‘We are now at a cemetery burying 11 people martyred during [Saturday]’s fighting in which 35 other fighters were also wounded.’ The reported air raids came a week after the Libyan government said that [President Qaddafi]’s son, Seif al-Arab [Qaddafi], and three of his grandchildren had been killed in a NATO air strike on a compound in Tripoli.

Africa/Asia pours into Europe

Five hundred shipwrecked refugees had to be rescued today, according a report from Deutsche Welle. The rescue operation occurred off the Italian island of Lampedusa, which has become a destination for tens of thousands of refugees fleeing the unrest in North Africa.

The report says “most of the refugees were migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia who had been living in Libya. Months of fighting between pro- and anti-Qaddafi forces has left thousands dead.

Since the start of 2001, Lampedusa, 140 kilometers (85 miles) from the Tunisian coast, has been the port for more than 30,000 refugees. Backlash has erupted throughout the EU, between Italy and France in particular, and the island’s authorities are said to be struggling “to keep up with the influx of immigrants seeking asylum.” In addition to the shipwrecked refugees, Lampedusa received another boat of 842 people overnight” Saturday to Sunday.

Update African refugees into Europe, death at sea
From Democracy Now Headlines Monday May 9

“Boat of African Migrants Fleeing Libya Left to Die by NATO  European Units — The Guardian newspaper reports dozens of African migrants were left to die in the Mediterranean Sea after a number of European and NATO military units apparently ignored their cries for help.

“The boat had left Libya bound for Italy with 72 passengers, including several women, young children and political refugees.

“All but 11 of those on board died from thirst and hunger after their vessel was left to drift in open waters for 16 days.” [http://www.democracynow.org/2011/5/9/headlines#6]

Questions of morality and legality
Not everyone countenances or celebrates murder

In Germany and elsewhere, concerns are rising over the legality (and morality) of the U.S. mission (allegedly) into Pakistan last Sunday and the killing of an Al Qaeda leader.

Former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt told German television that the act announced by the Obama administration “was clearly a violation of international law.” Chancellor Angela Merkel praised then “clarified.”

After the announcement was made that Osama bin Laden was dead, Chancellor Merkel said, “‘I am pleased that it was possible to kill bin Laden.’ [But] Several figures in Germany distanced themselves from the comments, including some from within Merkel’s conservative party, the Christian Democrats (CDU). Hamburg judge Heinz Uthmann filed a criminal complaint against Merkel for ‘endorsing a crime,’ describing her comments as ‘disgraceful.’”

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, asked the United States to give the UN full details about the (alleged) killing of Osama bin Laden. In Brussels, European Union Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom wrote in a blog that it “‘would have been preferred to see Osama bin Laden before a court.’” Echoing this thought were European newspaper editorials. 

Italy’s La Repubblica daily: 
“‘We Europeans would have preferred bin Laden to be captured and tried because executions are contrary to our culture.’”
Rheinische Post newspaper: 
“‘It would have been better if the Americans had arrested him and brought him to trial… “‘Then, justice would really have been served.’” 
Update U.S. assassinations, targeted killings [Yemen]
From Democracy Now Headlines Monday May 9

“U.S. Targets American-Born Cleric in Assassination Attempt in Yemen —The Obama administration launched a drone strike in Yemen last week in an attempt to assassinate a U.S.-born Muslim cleric. Anwar al-Awlaki survived the attack but two suspected members of al-Qaeda died.

“It was reported to be the first U.S. drone strike in Yemen in nine years. According to the Washington Post, Anwar al-Awlaki is one of at least four U.S. citizens the Obama administration approved for assassination — even though Anwar al-Awlaki  has never been convicted of a crime.

“The attack came just days after U.S. Special Forces killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and NATO strikes hit Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s compound.”  [http://www.democracynow.org/2011/5/9/headlines#6]

A tarnished leader’s thousand-miles Drones

Though U.S. citizens generally seemed less concerned last year, other people in the world were concerned about U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan and elsewhere.

“The unmanned aerial vehicles, which are equipped with high-resolution infrared cameras and hellfire rockets,” a Deutsche Welle article read in late 2010, “have become U.S. President Barack Obama’s weapon of choice in the so-called war on terror. However, critics argue that the drones are used to carry out extrajudicial executions.…

“Just one click of the mouse at CIA headquarters in the U.S. state of Virginia is all that is needed to crush a suspected al Qaeda cell thousands of miles away in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan — and to kill dozens of people in one strike. 

Increasingly the relationship between Pakistan and the U.S. has come under intense scrutiny. The Pakistani army now says it will “review cooperation with the U.S. if there is another violation of its sovereignty.”

Pakistan’s foreign secretary told the press of the Obama administration’s Osama bin Laden “mission” — “the first that Pakistan knew of the raid was when the helicopters buzzed over Abbottabad after evading Pakistani radar. He said troops were sent to the scene ‘once it became clear they were not our helicopters’ but that the Americans had already left by the time they arrived.’ Pakistan then scrambled two F-16 fighter jets but the American helicopters had apparently already made it back to Afghanistan before they could be intercepted. The foreign secretary said the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen had called Pakistan after the fact to inform them that the raid had taken place.

Al Jazeera reports that the United States “has given the Pakistani army more than $10 billion in aid over the past decade to help it fight al-Qaeda and its Afghan Taliban allies. [However] As far as the majority of Pakistanis are concerned, they don’t want any support from the United States, they don’t want the money…They say the government has enslaved their national interests to the Americans for the money they have received.”

In last Sunday’s raid, officials told the press, four yet unidentified people died and13 children were recovered from the compound.

Western Journalists at risk

A reporter for Al Jazeera, “Dorothy Parvaz, was detained upon arrival in Damascus, Syria, six days ago” and since then she has had no contact with the outside world. Parvaz holds American, Canadian and Iranian citizenship. She joined Al Jazeera in 2010. Before going to Al Jazeera, she was a columnist and feature writer with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  

Casualty sites reporting May 8, 2011
(Accurate totals unknown)
Anti-war dot com Casualties in Iraq since March 19, 2003
[U.S. war dead since the Obama inauguration January 20,
2009: 224]
Wounded 33,023-100,000
U.S. veterans with brain injuries 320,000
Suicides estimated: 18 a day
Latest update on this site: May 1, 2011
Iraq Body Count
The worldwide update on civilians killed in the Iraq war and occupation
Documented civilian deaths from violence
100, 708 – 110, 005
Full analysis of the WikiLeaks’ Iraq War Logs may add 15,000 civilian deaths.  http://www.iraqbodycount.org/
ICasualties figures:
1,572 United States
2,445 Coalition
4,452 United States
4,770 Coalition

Sources and notes

“Thousands flee Libyan fighting — As conflict rages in north African nation, many seek shelter in refugee camps,” May 4, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/video/africa/2011/05/20115453514196407.html

Raids on Libyan weapons depots reported  — Accounts of NATO strike in Zintan and explosions in Tripoli follow ‘government attacks on fuel depots’ in Misurata,” May 8, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/05/201158135733735559.html

“Five hundred refugees saved from shipwreck off Italian island,” May 8, 2011, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15059853,00.html

“Germans taken aback by outspoken jubilation over bin Laden’s killing — As new details surface of the U.S. operation that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the legality of the mission is being debated in Germany. Many are also critical of rejoicing — they say it is inappropriate,” May 5, 2011, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15048183,00.html

“Merkel clarifies controversial praise of bin Laden killing — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has revisited her ‘praise’ of the killing of Osama bin Laden, after a German judge filed a criminal complaint against her for saying she was ‘glad’ at his death,” May 7, 2011, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15057782,00.html

“Use of drone attacks draws little criticism in U.S. — Several suspected terrorists were killed in a recent drone attack in northwest Pakistan. Five were apparently German citizens. In the past five weeks alone, the CIA has launched 23 remote attacks in Pakistan,” October 6, 2010, http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,6085155,00.html

“Pakistan army threatens to reconsider U.S. ties — Warning against future raid comes as US politicians question Pakistan aid following bin Laden’s killing in Abbottabad,” May 6, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2011/05/20115633712747260.html

“Syria confirms journalist detained — Al Jazeera calls for immediate release of journalist Dorothy Parvaz, held since arriving in Damascus on Friday,” May 4, 2011, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/05/201154183912826324.html

U.S. Theater of WAR

The Middle or Near East consists of the lands around the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. These lands extend from Morocco to the Arabian Peninsula and Iran, sometimes beyond.

Some of the first modern Western geographers and historians who tended to divide the Orient into three regions gave the region the name Near East. In their three-region designations, the Near East applied to the region nearest Europe, extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf; the Middle East, extending from the Persian Gulf to Southeast Asia; and the Far East, encompassing the regions facing the Pacific Ocean.
The change in usage from Near to Middle East began evolving before World War II and extended through the war. The term Middle East was given to the British military command in Egypt.

So defined, the Middle East consisted of the states or territories of —
Turkey, Cyprus
Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran
Palestine, Jordan, Egypt
The Sudan, Libya and
Various states of Arabia proper (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and the Trucial States, or Trucial Oman [now United Arab Emirates]
Subsequent events have tended, in loose usage, to enlarge the number of lands included in the definition, among them — 
Three North African countries: Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco “closely connected in sentiment and foreign policy with the Arab states”  
Afghanistan and Pakistan, because of geographic factors, state official and others take into account in connection with affairs of the Middle East.  
Greece occasionally is included in the compass of the Middle East because the Middle Eastern (then Near Eastern) question in its modern form first became apparent when the Greeks in 1821 rebelled to assert their independence from the Ottoman Empire). 
Turkey and Greece, together with the predominantly Arabic-speaking lands around the eastern end of the Mediterranean, were also formerly known as the Levant.
Historically the countries along the eastern Mediterranean shores were called the Levant. Common use of the term is associated with Venetian and other trading ventures and the establishment of commerce with cities such as Tyre and Sidon as a result of the Crusades.

It was applied to the coastlands of Asia Minor and Syria, sometimes extending from Greece to Egypt. It was also used for Anatolia and as a synonym for the Middle or Near East. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the term High Levant referred to the Far East. The name Levant States was given to the French mandate of Syria and Lebanon after World War I, and the term is sometimes still used for those two countries, which became independent in 1946. Levant (from the French lever, ‘to rise,’ as in sunrise, meaning the east.

Use of the term Middle East remains unsettled, and some agencies (notably the United States State Department and certain bodies of the United Nations) still employ the term Near East. Middle East. (2011). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Deluxe Edition.  Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica


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