Archive for May, 2010

Israeli Massacres Go International–Commandos Kill 20 Free Gaza Activists

Israeli occupation forces massacred 20 activists on board the Gaza-bound “Freedom” flotilla Sunday overnight and Monday, according to the Israeli TV. 60 other people were also injured. The killing took place in international waters.

Among the injured, leader of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch in the occupied territories Sheikh Raed Salah whose injuries are serious, according to reports.

Israeli marine commandos had opened fire as they stormed one of the ships the (Mavi Marmara). Israeli television justified the commandos’ massacre claiming that the soldiers were attacked with knives and axes, but did not elaborate. The Israeli censor blocks all reports on the activists murdered on the flotilla.

According to a reporter on one of the ships, the Israeli occupation army raided all vessels from the sea and air at the same time and informed all of the passengers that they were under arrest.

The Israeli vessels, the report said, attacked the flotilla in international waters with aerial reinforcement, using gas. A Qatari television channel broadcast live the dramatic images from the ships, with Hamas spokespeople giving interviews and vowing to punish Israel for “the new crime”.

The images showed Commando soldiers with their faces covered. A fighter in uniform, wearing a gas mask, tried to block the camera with his hand, while more and more troops raided the ship after sliding down from a helicopter using a rope.

One of the passengers on the ship called out to the Navy vessels, “Don’t attack us. We are unarmed civilians. There are injured people onboard.”

The calls were first made in English, and were later joined by Knesset Member Hanin Zuabi (Balad), who called out to the ships in Hebrew.

Turkey summoned the Israeli ambassador to the Turkish foreign ministry Monday. “The ambassador (Gabby Levy) was summoned to the foreign ministry. We will convey our reaction in the strongest terms,” the diplomat, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

Israeli occupation forces massacred 20 activists on board the Gaza-bound “Freedom” flotilla Sunday overnight and Monday, according to the Israeli TV. 60 other people were also injured. The killing took place in international waters.Among the injured, leader of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch in the occupied territories Sheikh Raed Salah whose injuries are serious, according to reports.

Israeli marine commandos had opened fire as they stormed one of the ships the (Mavi Marmara). Israeli television justified the commandos’ massacre claiming that the soldiers were attacked with knives and axes, but did not elaborate. The Israeli censor blocks all reports on the activists murdered on the flotilla.

According to a reporter on one of the ships, the Israeli occupation army raided all vessels from the sea and air at the same time and informed all of the passengers that they were under arrest.

The Israeli vessels, the report said, attacked the flotilla in international waters with aerial reinforcement, using gas. A Qatari television channel broadcast live the dramatic images from the ships, with Hamas spokespeople giving interviews and vowing to punish Israel for “the new crime”.

The images showed Commando soldiers with their faces covered. A fighter in uniform, wearing a gas mask, tried to block the camera with his hand, while more and more troops raided the ship after sliding down from a helicopter using a rope.

One of the passengers on the ship called out to the Navy vessels, “Don’t attack us. We are unarmed civilians. There are injured people onboard.”

The calls were first made in English, and were later joined by Knesset Member Hanin Zuabi (Balad), who called out to the ships in Hebrew.

Turkey summoned the Israeli ambassador to the Turkish foreign ministry Monday. “The ambassador (Gabby Levy) was summoned to the foreign ministry. We will convey our reaction in the strongest terms,” the diplomat, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

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Pakistan natural ally of SCO, says China

Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Masood Khan met Muratbek Imanaliev, Secretary General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to underline Pakistan’s strong aspiration to become a full member of the SCO, says a press release received here from Beijing.

The SCO Secretary General, Muratbek Imanaliev said that, as an observer of the SCO, Pakistan had been making consistent and substantial contribution to the work of the Organisation. Talking to him Masood Khan observed that “because of geographical contiguity with SCO member states as well as strong desire to work for regional stability, security and economic prosperity, Pakistan fully qualifies to become a full member.”

“Pakistan is a natural ally and partner of SCO”, he added.

Ambassador Masood Khan said Pakistan fully supports SCO’s objective of strengthening security and stability in Central Asia and looks forward to deepening its cooperation with SCO member states in the areas of trade, investment, energy, transport, communications as well as science & technology.

On May 22nd the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers approved the draft procedure for admitting new members into the SCO, which would be submitted for approval in the SCO Heads of States meeting scheduled to take place on June 10 – 11, 2010 in Tashkent.

Pakistan is an Observer of the SCO. President Asif Ali Zardari attended the SCO summit held in Yekaterinburg in June last year and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani attended the SCO Heads of Government meeting held in Beijing in October 2009.

In addition to Pakistan, India and Iran also have observer status, whereas Afghanistan and Turkmenistan attend the SCO Conferences as guests.

Categories: Article

“Murderous Israel you will drown in the blood you shed!”

May 31, 2010 1 comment

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel and called for an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council as criticism and condemnations arose across Europe and the Arab world Monday over Israel’s deadly commando raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The raid, in which at least 10 pro-Palestinian activists were killed, was a new blow to Israel’s international standing at a time when the West — including the United States — have grown frustrated with its stance in the peace process. The bloodshed particularly hurts its relations with Turkey, which was once a close regional ally of Israel but has become increasingly critical of it.

Around 10,000 Turks marched in protest from the Israeli consulate in Istanbul to a main square, chanting, “Murderous Israel you will drown in the blood you shed!” The protesters earlier tried to storm the Consulate building but were blocked by police. The flotilla of six ships, carrying some 700 activists, was sponsored in part by a Turkish organization.

Around 1,000 protested in Jordan’s capital, Amman, calling for their government to cut diplomatic ties with Israel. Smaller protests erupted in capitals across the Middle East as well as in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, the Greek city of Thessaloniki and the Pakistani city of Karachi.

Palestinian youths protesting the raid scuffled with Israeli soldiers, throwing bottles and stones at them, at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem, as senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the Israeli raid a “war crime.”

Israel says the activists attacked its commandos as they boarded the six ships taking tons of supplies to Gaza, while the flotilla’s organizers say the Israeli forces opened fire first.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the violence, saying, “I am shocked by reports of killing of people in boats carrying supply to Gaza. I heard the ships were in international water. That is very bad.” He called for a “thorough investigation.”

The White House issued a cautious reaction, saying “The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained, and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy.”

The European Union’s foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, said the bloc was deeply concerned and she called on Israel to carry out an inquiry.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned “the disproportionate use of force” against the flotilla.

“All light must be shed on the circumstances of this tragedy, which underlines the urgency of resuming peace talks,” he said in a statement.

Greece suspended a military exercise with Israel and postponed a visit by Israel’s air force chief. Greece, Egypt, Sweden, Spain and Denmark summoned Israel’s ambassadors demanding explanations for the violence.

But the strongest reaction came from Turkey. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc called Israel’s actions “piracy” and said Turkey is withdrawing its ambassador on Monday as well as canceling three joint military drills and calling on the U.N. Security Council to convene in an emergency session about Israel. Turkey is currently a member of the council.

“I strongly condemn the use of force by Israeli military forces on an aid convoy composed of 32 countries, including Turkey,” Arinc said. “This attack must not remain unanswered.” He also said a Turkish youth soccer team currently in Israel would be brought home.

The raid also brought heightened attention to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, imposed after the Palestinian militant group Hamas seized control of the tiny Mediterranean territory in 2007. The blockade — along with Israel’s fierce offensive against Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009 to stop Hamas rocket fire — has fueled anti-Israeli sentiment around the Arab world.

The president of Iran, a key supporter of Hamas, called the raid “an inhuman act.”

“All in all, these (actions) only bring closer the end of the miserable and false regime” in Israel, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, according to state TV.

The Cairo-based Arab League called an emergency session for Tuesday to address the attack, as the two only Arab states with peace deals with Israel — Jordan and Egypt — sharply condemned the violence. Jordan’s information minister, Nabil al-Sharif, called it a “heinous crime” and called for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza.

The incident also put Egypt in a tight position. The only Arab country bordering the Gaza Strip, it has helped enforce the blockade by cracking down on smuggling tunnels that are a key source of goods to Gaza’s 1.5 million people and by rejecting pressure that it open its border crossing. The Egyptian government has said it cannot open the border since there is no agreement on restoring European monitors who left during the Hamas takeover.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said the violence underlines how Gaza “remains under total Israeli occupation,” and it called “for the immediate lifting of the Israeli siege on Gaza.”

In Beirut, about 500 Palestinian and Lebanese activists protested in front of the U.N. headquarters, setting Israeli flags on fire. “The only solution with the usurping entity is resistance. This entity only understands the language of force,” Hezbollah lawmaker Nawar al-Saheli told the crowd.

In neighboring Syria, more than 200 Syrian and Palestinian protesters staged a sit-in before the offices of the United Nations to denounce the Israeli raid.

Keath reported from Cairo. AP correspondents from around the Mideast and Europe contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press.

Can India compete with Pakistani drones?

Pakistan has already received US Shadow drones, but Pakistan has already been working on its own drones.

Israeli drone technolgy to Pakistan via Italain, Chinese, Turkish firms

Indians jittery over US arms sales to Pakistan

US ignores Indian concern on drones for Pakistan

THE LETHAL PAKISTANI BURRAQ IS THE PREDATOR EQUIVALENT: The Burraq is capable of reconnaissance and missile attacks:

“PAC engineers have been working on the first UAV project of the country for two years,” according to a report published on the aviation industry Flightglobal website in August. Pakistan is also reported to be flight-testing the Burraq, named for a winged-horse type creature in Islamic tradition. The Burraq is to be equipped with National Engineering and Scientific Commission (or NESCom) designed laser designator and laser-guided missiles. Unlike the Falco, Burraq will be able to attack and destroy targets.

Pakistan has now virtually become a member of the club of countries manufacturing drones. The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) desperately needs UAVs capable of firing at targeted militants.

The Falco, with an autonomous navigation and control system, has a standard control link range of 200 kilometers and is capable of short take-offs from semi-prepared airstrips. Among its prominent features are automatic take-off and landing, fully redundant and fault-tolerant control systems and near-real-time target image processing.

ISLAMABAD — After years of watching U.S. drones operate along its Afghan border, Pakistan is working on its own Predator-like unmanned aerial vehicle to undertake the same mission, sources here said. The sources said the country’s air force and government-owned defense conglomerate, the National Engineering and Scientific Commission, are flight-testing a new-design aircraft to be equipped with a NESCom-designed laser designator and laser-guided missiles. The Burraq UAV is named for a winged horse creature in Islamic tradition, similar to Pegasus.

According to local news reports, Pakistan is focusing its unmanned aircraft efforts on upgrading various older UAVs with Chinese help. But the sources note that no domestically produced UAVis large enough to heft both a missile and a targeting system. The military’s most capable UAV is the air force’s Selex Galileo Falco, which can laser-designate targets for other platforms but cannot deliver munitions.

Officials with the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Defence Production here refused to confirm or deny the program’s existence. A spokesman for the military’s Inter Services Public Relations said it was “not ready to give a statement on the issue at this time.” One former air force officer said the notion of a Pakistan-developed hunter-killer UAV is credible. “You only have to see our track record,” said Kaiser Tufail, a retired air commodore. “We have some fantastic achievements in the field of defense.”

Tufail said Pakistan needs such a weapon. Anti-terror operations on the frontier require “hours and hours of round-the-clock reconnaissance,” married with the ability to strike quickly when a target is spotted, he said. Help from China? Analysts were more dubious about Pakistan’s ability to produce a laser-guided missile, but they noted that help might be found in China or Turkey. Turkey, with whom Pakistan has an agreement to cooperate on UAV development, is seeking an armed UAV, preferably the Predator or MQ-9 Reaper. This UAVmay someday be armed with the UMTAS infrared guided anti-tank missile being developed by the Turkish firm Roketsan to arm the T-129 attack helicopter.

Pakistan could simply produce China’s new CH-3 unmanned combat air vehicle, “or co-produce any number of Chinese components to assemble a unique UCAV,” said Richard Fisher, China specialist and senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Washington. “China has also developed the unique AR-1, a 45-kilogram, laser-guided attack missile, apparently designed specifically for light winged or helicopter UCAVs,” he said. Pakistan reported developing armed UAV By Usman Ansari – Staff writer, Saturday May 9, 2009 8:17:26 EDT

The Burraq is based on the Falco – SELEX GALILEO technology. We produce information on the Selix Galileo so that an adequate comparison can be made with the Burraq.

NEW DELHI: New battlelines are being drawn for a spy drone versus spy drone face-off between India and Pakistan. Even as Islamabad continues to badger Washington to give it armed drones like `Predators’, New Delhi is quietly working towards bolstering its fleet of reconnaissance and `killer’ Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

While Pakistan has been after US to get `strategic’ UAVs like `Predators’, the latter has so far only agreed to supply `tactical’ unarmed `Shadow’ drones for intelligence-gathering missions.

`Predators’ and `Reapers’, controlled from hundreds of miles away through satellites, can unleash havoc with their `Hellfire’ missiles…The Times of India

Unable to produce its own drones, the Bharati (aka Indian) establishment is doing what it does best–tries to buy drones. Most of the time, the exporting nations sell their junk to Delhi. Corrupt Bharati politicians don’t really care about the quality of the equipment–as long as their pockets are filled.

In the latest such contract inked with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) a few days ago, India has ordered a few more `Heron’ MALE (medium-altitude, long endurance) drones, ground control systems and data terminals for around Rs 700 crore, defence ministry sources said on Thursday.

The importance of UAVs in modern-day warfare cannot be overstated, both for their snooping as well as targeting capabilities.

Bharat has been unable to produce any drones on its own–however it does have stripped down versions of Israeli UAVs.

These primarily include Israeli ones like Searcher-II and Heron, as also some Harpy `killer’ drones designed to detect and destroy enemy radars by functioning like cruise missiles.

Under the latest deal, Navy will now get two more Herons to add to its UAV fleet of eight Searcher-II and four Herons, which are being used for maritime surveillance up to 200 nautical miles.

There is also the ongoing Rs 1,163 crore joint IAI-DRDO project for NRUAVs (naval rotary UAVs) or unmanned helicopters operating from warship decks for advanced ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) missions.

As reported by TOI earlier, Army is also going in for two more `troops’ (8 birds each) of advanced Heron UAVs for Rs 1,118 crore after the Defence Acquisitions Council approved it in February 2009.

Apart from using UAVs for spying and directing precision-guided munitions, IAF is now looking to induct Israeli Harop `killer’ UAVs from 2011 onwards. Like the Harpy, Harop drones are capable of loitering over targets before they explode into them. But what makes them more advanced is that they also have electro-optical sensors to make them capable of even hitting important enemy military installations like missile sites.

While Harpy and Harop are kamikaze UAVs which perish with the targets, Predators and Reapers are more like fighters since they return to their bases to get a fresh stock of missiles for new missions.

The next phase will be that of full-fledged UCAVs (combat UAVs) being currently developed to replace manned fighter jets for medium and long-range conventional or nuclear bombing missions. India lines up Israeli drones in race with Pak Rajat Pandit, TNN, Mar 26, 2010, 01.06am IST

The latest Times of India article does acknowledge that the indigenous production has been non-existent.

India, on its part, has also set the indigenous ball rolling. After Nishant and Lakshya drones, DRDO is developing the `Rustom’ MALE drones, with the Army keen to induct seven `troops’ of them.

Moreover, as reported earlier, Army also wants to induct man-portable `mini’ and `micro’ UAVs for short-range surveillance and NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) detection in the battlefield. Army, in fact, wants to induct these miniature spy drones right down to the battalion-level by 2017. India lines up Israeli drones in race with Pak Rajat Pandit, TNN, Mar 26, 2010, 01.06am IST

Turkey and Brazil defying Israel and US on Iran

May 29, 2010 1 comment

Turkey and Brazil defying Israel and US on Iran

Giving Hypocrisy a Bad Name US / Israel Challenged on Iran By RAY McGOVERN

The times may be a-changin’ – at least a bit – with the United States and Israel no longer able to dictate to the rest of the world how crises in the Middle East must be handled, though the new reality has been slow to dawn on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her neocon friends in Congress and the U.S. media.

They may think they are still in control, still the smart ones looking down at upstarts like the leaders of Turkey and Brazil who had the audacity to ignore U.S. warnings and press ahead with diplomacy to head off a possible new war, this one over Iran.

On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced success in persuading Iran to send roughly 50 percent of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for higher-enriched uranium that would be put to peaceful medical uses.

The tripartite agreement parallels one broached to Iran by Western countries on Oct. 1, 2009, which gained Iranian approval in principle but then fell apart.

That Monday’s joint announcement took U.S. officials by surprise betokens a genteel, ivory-tower-type attitude toward a world that is rapidly changing around them, like old British imperialists befuddled by a surge of anti-colonialism in the Raj or some other domain of the Empire.

Tellingly, U.S. officials and their acolytes in the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) could not bring themselves to believe that Brazil and Turkey would dare pursue an agreement with Iran after Clinton and President Barack Obama said not to.

However, the signs were there that these rising regional powers were no longer willing to behave like obedient children while the United States and Israel sought to take the world for another ride into a Middle East confrontation.

Standing Up To Israel

In March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was so upset with President da Silva’s advocacy of dialogue with Iran that he gave the upstart from South America a stern lecture. But the Brazilian president did not flinch.

Da Silva had grown increasingly concerned that, without some quick and smart diplomacy, Israel was likely to follow up a series of escalating sanctions by attacking Iran. Mincing no words, da Silva said:

“We can’t allow to happen in Iran what happened in Iraq. Before any sanctions, we must undertake all possible efforts to try and build peace in the Middle East.”

Turkey’s Erdogan had his own face-off with an Israeli leader – shortly after Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza from Dec. 17, 2008, to Jan. 18, 2009, in which some 1,400 Gazans and 14 Israelis were killed.

On Jan. 29, 2009, the Turkish president took part with Israeli President Shimon Peres on a small panel moderated by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius at the World Economic Summit at Davos, Switzerland.

Erdogan could not abide Peres’s loud, passionate defense of Israel’s Gaza offensive. Erdogan described Gaza as “an open-air prison,” and accused Peres of speaking loudly so as to hide his “guilt.”

After Ignatius allotted Peres twice as much time as he gave Erdogan, the latter was livid, and insisted on responding to Peres’s speech.

The final one-and-a-half minutes, captured on camera by the BBC, shows Erdogan physically pushing Ignatius’s outstretched arm down and out of the way, as Ignatius tries to cut him off with entreaties like, “We really do have to get people to dinner.”

Erdogan keeps at it, refers to “the sixth commandment — Thou Shalt Not Kill,” and adds, “We are talking about killing” in Gaza. He then alludes to barbarity “way beyond what it should be,” and strides off the stage saying, “I don’t think I’ll come back to Davos.”

The Brazilian government also condemned Israel’s bombing of Gaza as “disproportionate response.” It expressed concern that violence in the region had affected mainly the civilian population.

Brazil’s statement came on Jan. 24, 2009, just five days before Erdogan’s strong criticism of the Israeli president’s attempt to defend the attack. Perhaps it was then that a seed was planted to germinate and later grow into a determined effort to move forcefully to prevent another bloody outbreak of hostilities.

And that is what Erdogan did, with the collaboration of da Silva. The two regional leaders insisted on a new multilateral approach to head off a potential Middle East crisis, rather than simply acquiescing to the decision-making from Washington, as guided by the interests of Israel.

So, get over it, boys and girls in the White House and Foggy Bottom. The world has changed; you are no longer able to call all the shots.

Eventually you might even be thankful that some prescient grownups came by, rose to the occasion, and defused a very volatile situation from which no one — repeat, no one — would have profited.

Giving Hypocrisy a Bad Name

One might have even thought that the idea of Iran surrendering about half its low-enriched uranium would be seen as a good thing for Israel, possibly lessening Israel’s fears that Iran might get the bomb sometime soon.

By all rights, the surrender of half Iran’s uranium should lessen those concerns, but the bomb does NOT appear to be Israel’s primary preoccupation. You see, despite the rhetoric, Israel and its supporters in Washington do not view the current dispute over Iran’s nuclear program as an “existential threat.”

Rather, it is viewed as another golden opportunity to bring “regime change” to a country considered one of Israel’s adversaries, as Iraq was under Saddam Hussein. As with Iraq, the selling point for intervention is the accusation that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon, a weapon of mass destruction that might be shared with terrorists.

The fact that Iran, like Iraq, has denied that it is building a nuclear bomb — or that there is no credible intelligence proving that Iran is lying (a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate in 2007 expressed confidence that Iran had halted such efforts four years earlier) — is normally brushed aside in the United States and its FCM.

Instead, the fearsome notion of Iran with nuclear weapons somehow sharing one with al-Qaeda or some other terrorist group is used to scare the American public once more. (That Iran has no ties to al-Qaeda, which is Sunni while Iran is Shiite, just as the secular Saddam Hussein despised al-Qaeda, is sloughed off.)

Yet, earlier this year, answering a question after a speech in Doha, Qatar, Secretary Clinton let slip a piece of that reality, that Iran “doesn’t directly threaten the United States, but it directly threatens a lot of our friends, allies, and partners” — read Israel, first and foremost among friends.

Clinton also would have us master the mental gymnastics required to buy into the Israeli argument that, were Iran to somehow build a single bomb from its remaining uranium (presumably after refining it to the 90 percent level required for a nuclear weapon when Iran has stumbled technologically over much lower levels), this would pose an unacceptable threat to Israel, which has 200-300 nuclear weapons along with missiles and bombers to deliver them.

But if it’s not really about the remote possibility of Iran building a nuclear bomb and wanting to commit national suicide by using it, what’s actually at stake? The obvious conclusion is that the scare tactics over Iranian nukes are the latest justification for imposing “regime change” in Iran.

That goal dates back at least to President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” speech in 2002, but it has an earlier precedent. In 1996, leading American neocons, including Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, prepared a radical strategy paper for Israel’s Netanyahu calling for a new approach to guaranteeing Israel’s security, through the removal or neutralizing of hostile Muslim regimes in the region.

Called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” the plan envisioned abandoning “land for peace” negotiations and instead “reestablishing the principle of preemption,” beginning with the ouster of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and then tackling other regional enemies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

However, to achieve such an ambitious goal — with the necessary help of American money and military might — required making traditional peace negotiations appear foolish or impossible and then ratcheting up tensions.

Obviously, with President Bush in the White House and with the U.S. public outraged over the 9/11 attacks, new possibilities opened – and Saddam Hussein, the first target of “securing the realm,” was taken out by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

But the Iraq War didn’t go as easily as expected, and President Obama’s intentions to reinvigorate the Middle East peace process and to engage Iran in negotiations emerged as new obstacles to the plan. It became important to show how naïve the young President was regarding the impossibility of dealing with Iran.

Derailing a Deal

Many Washington insiders were shocked last Oct. 1 when Tehran agreed to send 2,640 pounds (then as much as 75 percent of Iran’s total) of low-enriched uranium abroad to be turned into fuel for a small reactor that does medical research.

Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, gave Tehran’s agreement “in principle,” at a meeting in Geneva of representatives of members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, chaired by Javier Solana of the European Union.

Even the New York Times acknowledged that this, “if it happens, would represent a major accomplishment for the West, reducing Iran’s ability to make a nuclear weapon quickly, and buying more time for negotiations to bear fruit.”

The conventional wisdom presented in the FCM today has it that Tehran backed off the deal. True; but that is only half the story, a tale that highlights how, in Israel’s set of priorities, regime change in Iran comes first.

The uranium swap had the initial support of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And a follow-up meeting was scheduled for Oct. 19 at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

However, the accord soon came under criticism from Iran’s opposition groups, including the “Green Movement” led by defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has had ties to the American neocons and to Israel since the Iran-Contra days of the 1980s when he was the prime minister who collaborated on secret arms deals.

Strangely, it was Mousavi’s U.S.-favored political opposition that led the assault on the nuclear agreement, calling it an affront to Iran’s sovereignty and suggesting that Ahmadinejad wasn’t being tough enough.

Then, on Oct. 18, a terrorist group called Jundullah, acting on amazingly accurate intelligence, detonated a car bomb at a meeting of top Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanders and tribal leaders in the province of Sistan-Baluchistan in southeastern Iran. A car full of Guards was also attacked.

A brigadier general who was deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards ground forces, the Revolutionary Guards brigadier commanding the border area of Sistan-Baluchistan, and three other brigade commanders were killed in the attack; dozens of other military officers and civilians were left dead or wounded.

Jundullah took credit for the bombings, which followed years of lethal attacks on Revolutionary Guards and Iranian policemen, including an attempted ambush of President Ahmadinejad’s motorcade in 2005.

Tehran claims Jundullah is supported by the U.S., Great Britain and Israel, and retired CIA Middle East operations officer Robert Baer has fingered Jundullah as one of the “good terrorist” groups benefiting from American help.

I believe it to be no coincidence that the Oct. 18 attack – the bloodiest in Iran since the 1980-88 war with Iraq – came one day before nuclear talks were to resume at the IAEA in Vienna to follow up on the Oct. 1 breakthrough. The killings were sure to raise Iran’s suspicions about U.S. sincerity.

It’s a safe bet that the Revolutionary Guards went directly to their patron, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, arguing that the bombing and roadside attack proved that the West cannot be trusted.

Khamenei issued a statement on Oct. 19 condemning the terrorists, whom he charged “are supported by certain arrogant powers’ spy agencies.”

The commander of the Guards’ ground forces, who lost his deputy in the attack, charged that the terrorists were “trained by America and Britain in some of the neighboring countries,” and the commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary Guards threatened retaliation.

The attack was big news in Iran, but not big news in the United States, where the FCM quickly consigned the incident to the great American memory hole. The FCM also began treating Iran’s resulting anger over what it considered acts of terrorism and its heightened sensitivity to outsiders crossing its borders as efforts to intimidate “pro-democracy” groups supported by the West.

Still, Iran Sends a Delegation

Despite the Jundullah attack and the criticism from the opposition groups, a lower-level Iranian technical delegation did go to Vienna for the meeting on Oct. 19, but Iran’s leading nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili stayed away.

The Iranians questioned the trustworthiness of the Western powers and raised objections to some details, such as where the transfer should occur. The Iranians broached alternative proposals that seemed worth exploring, such as making the transfer of the uranium on Iranian territory or some other neutral location.

But the Obama administration, under mounting domestic pressure on the need to be tougher with Iran, dismissed Iran’s counter-proposals out of hand, reportedly at the instigation of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and neocon regional emissary Dennis Ross.

Both officials appeared averse to taking any steps that might lessen the impression among Americans that Ahmadinejad is anything other than a rabid dog needing to be put down, the new most despised bête noire (having replaced the now deceased Saddam Hussein, who was hanged by the U.S.-installed government in Iraq).

Watching all this, da Silva and Erdogan saw the parallels between Washington’s eagerness for an escalating confrontation with Iran and the way the United States had marched the world, step by step, into the invasion of Iraq (complete with the same deeply biased coverage by the leading American news outlets.)

This spring, hoping to head off a similar result, the two leaders dusted off the Oct. 1 uranium transfer initiative and got Tehran to agree to similar terms last Monday. Both called for sending 2,640 pounds of Iran’s low-enriched uranium abroad in exchange for nuclear rods that would have no applicability for a weapon.

Yet, rather than embrace this Iranian concession as at least a step in the right direction, U.S. officials sought to scuttle it, by pressing instead for more sanctions. The FCM did its part by insisting that the deal was just another Iranian trick that would leave Iran with enough uranium to theoretically create one nuclear bomb.

An editorial in Tuesday’s Washington Post, entitled “Bad Bargain,” concluded wistfully/wishfully:

“It’s possible that Tehran will retreat even from the terms it offered Brazil and Turkey — in which case those countries should be obliged to support U.N. sanctions.”

On Wednesday, a New York Times’ editorial rhetorically patted the leaders of Brazil and Turkey on the head as if they were rubes lost in the big-city world of hardheaded diplomacy. The Times wrote:

“Brazil and Turkey … are eager to play larger international roles. And they are eager to avoid a conflict with Iran. We respect those desires. But like pretty much everyone else, they got played by Tehran.”

Rather than go forward with the uranium transfer agreement, Brazil and Turkey should “join the other major players and vote for the Security Council resolution,” the Times said. “Even before that, they should go back to Tehran and press the mullahs to make a credible compromise and begin serious negotiations.”

Focus on Sanctions

Both the Times and the Post have applauded the Obama administration’s current pursuit of tougher economic sanctions against Iran – and on Tuesday, they got something to cheer about.

“We have reached agreement on a strong draft [sanctions resolution] with the cooperation of both Russia and China,” Secretary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, making clear that she viewed the timing of the sanctions as a riposte to the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement.

“This announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide,” she declared.

Her spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, was left with the job of explaining the obvious implication that Washington was using the new sanctions to scuttle the plan for transferring half of Iran’s enriched uranium out of the country.

Question: “But you say that you’re supportive and appreciative [of the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement], but don’t you think you handicapped it in any way? I mean, now by introducing the resolution the day after the agreement, you almost guarantee that Iran is going to react in a negative way.”

Another question: “Why, if, in fact, you think this Brazil-Turkey deal — Iran will prove that it is not serious and you don’t have a lot of optimism that it’s going to go forward and Iran will continue to show that it’s not serious about its nuclear ambitions, why don’t you just wait for that to play out and then you could get a tougher resolution and even presumably Brazil and Turkey would vote for it because Iran would have humiliated them and embarrassed them? Why don’t you just wait to see how that plays out?”

Yet another question: “The impression left, though, is that the message here — sure there’s a message to Iran, but there’s also a message to Turkey and Brazil, and that is, basically, get out of our sandbox, that the big boys and girls are playing here and we don’t need your meddling. Do you not — you don’t accept that?”

I almost found myself feeling sorry for poor P. J. Crowley, who did his level best to square these and other circles. His answers were lacking in candor, but did reflect an uncanny ability to stick to one key talking point; i. e., that the “real key,” the “primary issue” is Iran’s ongoing enrichment of uranium. He said this, in identical or similar words no fewer than 17 times.

That the State Department at this moment has chosen to cite this single point as a showstopper is curious, at best. The proposed deal offered to Tehran last Oct. 1 did not require it to give up enrichment, either.

And the current emphasis on non-observance of Security Council resolutions – which had been demanded by the United States and its allies – is eerily reminiscent of the strategy for maneuvering the world toward the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Crowley said the administration has “no particular timetable” in mind for putting a resolution to a vote, saying, “it will take as long as it takes.” He added that President Obama “laid out a goal of having this done by the end of this spring” – about one month from now.


Despite the efforts by Washington officialdom and neocon opinion-makers to derail the Iran-Brazil-Turkey plan, it still seems on track, at least for the moment.

Iranian officials have said they would send a letter confirming the deal to the IAEA within a week. In a month, Iran could ship 2,640 pounds of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey.

Within a year, Russia and France would produce 120 kg of 20-percent enriched uranium to be used to refuel a research reactor in Tehran that produces isotopes to treat cancer patients.

As for Clinton’s claim that China, as well as Russia are part of a consensus on the draft Security Council resolution, time will tell.

There is particular doubt as to how firmly China is on board. On Monday, Chinese officials hailed the Iran-Brazil-Turkey proposal and said it should be fully explored. Russian officials also suggested that the new transfer plan be given a chance.

Also, the proposed new sanctions don’t go as far as some U.S. and Israeli hardliners wanted. For instance, it does not embargo gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran, a harsh step that some neocons had hoped would throw Iran into economic and political chaos as a prelude for “regime change.”

Instead, the proposed new sanctions call for inspections of Iranian ships suspected of entering international ports with nuclear-related technology or weapons. Some analysts doubt that this provision would have much practical effect on Iran.

Israel will be conferring with Washington before issuing an official response, but Israeli officials have told the press that the transfer deal is a ”trick” and that Iran had “manipulated” Turkey and Brazil.

There is every reason to believe that Israel will search deep into its toolbox for a way to sabotage the agreement, but it isn’t clear that the usual diplomatic tools will work at this stage, and even Israel might deem the covert action ones too risky. There remains, of course, the possibility that Israel will go for broke and launch a preemptive military strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities.

In the meantime, it’s a sure bet that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will apply all the pressure he can on Obama.

As a former CIA analyst, I hope that Obama would have the presence of mind to order a fast-track special National Intelligence Estimate on the implications of the Iran-Brazil-Turkey agreement for U.S. national interests and those of the countries of the Middle East.

Obama needs an unvarnished assessment of the agreement’s possible benefits (and its potential negatives) as counterweight to the pro-Israel lobbying that will inevitably descend on the White House and State Department.

Ray McGovern was an Army officer and CIA analyst for almost 30 year. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. He is a contributor to Imperial Crusades: Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair (Verso).

A shorter version of this article appeared at

Categories: Article

A eulogy for the Gaza Palestinians

RUPEENEWS | Moin Ansari

I never cease to be amazed at the power of the human spirit to survive. During my last visit to Gaza in October 2008 I was amazed and deeply moved by the power of the people I witnessed. In a triumph of hope over adversity and tremendous suffering, love still abides.

Gaza comprises a small strip of land 27 miles long and 6 miles wide. This coastal strip is bordered by Israel on the one side, the Mediterranean Sea on the other and to a lesser extent by Egypt at the southern end. With one and a half million inhabitants Gaza is the fifth most densely populated place on the planet, 50% of which are under the age of 18. Two thirds of the total population hold refugees status, and comprise the victims and their descendants of previous acts of Israeli aggression.

Gaza’s people have suffered an Israeli occupation for over 40 years and even though Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005 it has continued to control every aspect of life in the tiny coastal strip. Hamas was democratically elected to power in the 2006 Palestinian elections and has governed the Gaza strip since the summer of 2007. It was at this time in 2007 that Israel commenced its devastating blockade of the strip. Essentially the blockade represents a draconian policy by Israel. A minimum amount of basic subsistence goods are allowed to enter the strip with the intention of holding a malnourished population just short of outright starvation. Coupled to the severe food shortages are the restrictions / ban on basic essentials such a medicine and desperately needed reconstruction materials. This blockade constitutes “Collective Punishment” of a civilian population an act illegal under Article 33 of the fourth Geneva Convention. But the Culture of Impunity, under which Israel operates, means Israel continues to ignore International Law with many of the World’s Governments and international bodies’ remaining silent.

In the words of one Israeli Professor, Israel has made Gaza into the largest open air prison in the world. Whether by land, sea or air the one and a half million inhabitants of Gaza are trapped, their 6 border crossings are closed (including the Raffah crossing with Egypt), their airport destroyed and their port and coastal waters shut down by a naval blockade. The people are forced to live a suffocating life of misery and hardship. The closure has impacted every imaginable aspect of their existence both physical and emotional. Lives are constantly lost for lack of access to hospital treatments unavailable in Gaza. Bright and willing students are deprived of an opportunity to progress their studies; places offered abroad in universities can not be accepted as student are unable to leave. The Israeli policy of divide, blockade and conquer used against the Palestinian people strikes right to the heart to family life. Families in Gaza can no longer visit their relatives in the West Bank. Wives are torn from husbands and husbands from wives. Many are forced to live apart some in the West Bank others in Gaza. All across the Occupied Palestinian Territories there is a common shared experience of humiliation. The West Bank is constantly shrinking under a deluge of illegal Israeli Settlements and new settlement construction. The countless thousands of Gazans left homeless after the Israeli bombings can find a paler shadows of the same existence among their friends and family in East Jerusalem where forced evictions and house demolitions are a daily occurrence.

The children of Gaza are the ones who suffer most. During my visit to Gaza in October, 2008 I went to visit the area of Khankhounis. In all my years of visiting areas of poverty and devastation, I have never witnessed anything so terrible. The area had been hit by floods which had washed away the roads forming a river which flooded the houses, of many hundreds of people, with mud. We walked through home after home completely destroyed and yet some families made vain attempts to salvage what they could and live in the midst of this horrific destruction. The children played on the destroyed roads and footpaths, amidst raw sewerage and the mothers did their best to protect their young ones all too aware of the dangers of disease lurking in the open puddles which, children being children persisted in playing in. Community leaders explained that they were unable to reconstruct homes, roads and repair open sewers as Israel would not permit the materials and equipment to enter Gaza. Teachers had no writing materials, the doctors not enough medicines and the children were suffering from malnutrition and showing signs of stunted growth. One father asked ‘if I give you some money, next time the Free Gaza boat comes in will you bring in some milk, the children have no milk’. (In June, 2009, twenty-one of us tried to sail on the Freegaza boat to Gaza, but our boat was hi-jacked in International waters by Israeli navy and we were all forcibly taken to Israel, put in prison for a week and then deported).

Since 2008 all of this suffering has only magnified and worsened due to the shattering effect of operation “Cast Lead” Israel’s brutal attach on Gaza which took place in December/January 2008/2009. Disease from raw sewerage and shortage of medicines are not the worst things to affect the children these days. During the Israeli assault on Gaza, bombs and white phosphorus were dropped on Palestinian civilians and of the l,400 people who died, over 400 were children. The agricultural land is now radiated with depleted uranium and holds it own terrible dangers for the people of Gaza. Many who depended on the land for their livelihood have seen their stock and crops destroyed and the soil poisoned.

Where is the hope? Where is the love in the midst of such suffering and injustice? The international community has all but failed in its duty of care and seems unwilling or unable to take a stand against Israeli brutality but thankfully there are those who still refuse to stands aide. And so in an expression of love and solidarity the “Freedom Flotilla” takes to the water in an attempt to breach the siege on Gaza. The Freedom Flotilla comprises 8 boats, in a joint effort including Turkey and Greece, over 600 People from over 60 countries, will sail to Gaza in May, 2010. The flotilla will be joined by a cargo boat from Ireland, the MV Rachel Corrie. Its large cargo includes tonnes of construction material, cement, medical equipment and a special donation of printing paper from Norway. This trip will again highlight Israel’s criminal blockade and illegal occupation. In a demonstration of the power of global citizen action we hope to awaken the conscience of all.

We hope the Freedom Flotilla will provide a way to open up the sea. When we arrived in Gaza on the Freegaza boat in October 2008 last we stayed at Marna House, the hotel owner was overjoyed as he invited us to sign the register. He explained his joy telling us that, with closure of their Port to the outside world, we were the first people to enter Gaza by port and stay in his hotel in over 40 years of Israeli occupation. It would be wonderful if the sea passage could be permanently opened for the people of Gaza so they can freely enter and leave their own land, and be reunited again as a part of the Mediterranean family, selling their produce and buying what they need without let or hindrance.

This journey, by boat, will be my third with The Freegaza Movement and it has shown me that people can make a difference. The Freegaza Movement was started by a few people with an idea and the courage to make it happen. If people wish to support their work and follow us on the boat journey to Gaza visit their website at

But above all we are inspired by the people of Gaza whose courage, love and joy in welcoming us, even in the midst of such suffering gives us all hope. They represent the very best of humanity and we are all privileged to be given the opportunity to support them in their nonviolent struggle for human dignity, and freedom.

Mairead Maguire
Nobel Peace Laureate
25th May, 2010

Irish Peace Nobelist Mairead Maguire Calls on Peace Nobelists President Obama and President Shimon Perez to do all they can to Free Mordechai Vanunu

Mairead Maguire, has written to President Barack Obama, USA and President Shimon Perez, Israel, asking them to ‘do all they can’ to obtain the release of Mordechai Vanunu and for Mordechai to be given his freedom and allowed to leave Israel.

Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli Nuclear Whistleblower, was convicted by an Israeli Court in l986 and sentenced to 18 years for passing on information about Israel’s nuclear weapons.

He served 11 of his 18 years in solitary confinement.

Vanunu was released from Prison in 2004 but instead of being allowed to leave Israel, as was his wish and legal right, he was placed under strict restrictions depriving him of many of his civil and fundamental rights, including the right to move freely, right to have contacts with foreigners.

For exercising this latter Right Mordechai Vanunu has been returned to prison on 23rd May,2010 (Eshel Prison) for three months detention.

Maguire said:

“I join my voice with many others around the world, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Mordechai Vanunu. The restrictions put on Mordechai Vanunu are not parole restrictions since he served his full18 year term. These restrictions arbitrarily limit his right to freedom of movement, expression and association, and are therefore in breach of International Law.

“After 24 years held within Israel against his will, it is time for Mordechai to be allowed to leave the country, so he can get on with his life. He has suffered enough and is no threat to Israeli National Security.”

In her letter to President Obama, Mairead Maguire thanked him for all he is doing for a Nuclear Free World and a Nuclear Free Middle East. Maguire went on to say:

“Twenty four years ago when Mordechai Vanunu, as a young technician in Dimona, Israeli Nuclear Weapons Plant, in conscience told the world about Israeli Nuclear Bomb, it was his attempt to do what he could for a Nuclear Free Middle East and a Nuclear Free World. History will remember Vanunu as a man of courage, integrity and peace.

“But today all Vanunu asks for is for his Freedom. Obama and Perez have it within their power to free Mordechai Vanunu and the world expects them to do so.”

Mairead Maguire Tel: 44(o)28 663465

25th May, 2010, Tribute To The People Of Gaza By Mairead Maguire 27 May, 2010

Categories: Article

Israel’s worst-kept secret revealed: Nuclear proliferation

RUPEENEWS | Israel’s worst-kept secret revealed: Nuclear proliferation

Israel’s worst-kept secret has finally been revealed.

Documents published in recent days show that Israel not only has nuclear weapons — something it has never officially acknowledged — but that it considered selling them to South Africa’s white minority government in 1975. The evidence — contained in Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s new book The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa — appears strong and credible.

But will it cause Europe and America to rethink their relationship with Israel? The truth is that Israel already enjoys such a privileged level of access to their key institutions that any rethink is improbable — at least in the short-term. One of the most important aspects of this relationship relates to how Israel interacts with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In December 2008, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni visited the headquarters of NATO in Brussels to sign an “individual cooperation program” with its member states. By hooking up Israel to NATO’s computer systems and facilitating its increased participation in the alliance’s missions, this agreement has helped give Israel closer ties with NATO and its 28 member states than any other country outside the club.

Within a few weeks of that agreement being signed, Israel launched a brutal offensive against Gaza, killing more than 1,400 Palestinians. The slaughter did not deter then-NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer from making a public gesture of friendship with the Israeli state. While the death toll in Gaza was continuing to mount, he visited Israel in January 2009 to celebrate “the growing depth both of our practical cooperation and of our political dialogue.” Even though Israel’s armed forces caused almost all of the deaths in that three-week assault and had unilaterally broken off a ceasefire with Hamas by attacking it two months earlier, he repeated the official Israeli narrative of blaming the violence on Hamas.

Over the past week, NATO has published a paper recommending an update to the “strategic concept” that underpins its activities. Partly authored by Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, this report “NATO 2020: Assured Security; Dynamic Engagement,” signals that the alliance is mired in a Cold War funk. As well as advocating that the US, Britain and France hold on to their nuclear missiles as long as these weapons “remain a reality in international relations,” it identifies the development of a missile defense shield as “an essential military mission.” This system is — if you believe the propaganda — supposed to protect the member countries against Iran, which is singled out as the state most likely to present a fundamental security challenge in the coming decade. Substitute Iran for the Soviet Union and the case for the system is almost identical to that put forward by US President Ronald Reagan when proposing his “Star Wars” initiative in the 1980s.

NATO has already signaled that Israel will be involved in the development of the defense shield (an Orwellian term, given that the project will probably only ratchet up tensions in the Middle East). Earlier this month, NATO representatives took part in an armaments conference in Airport City, a “business park” near Tel Aviv. Alan Berry, a senior NATO official, confirmed that he and his colleagues were studying Israel’s own military interceptors and had helped preliminary discussions about how Israel could take part in the defense shield project.

So far Turkey appears to be the only NATO member to have indicated there is an inherent double standard in seeking Israel’s assistance to ward off a perceived threat from Iran. Unlike Iran (and most other nations), Israel has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, with the result that its nuclear weapons program has never been subject to international scrutiny. Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, is reported to have raised this anomaly with his NATO peers at a meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, last month, telling them that “no country should be exempted from joining this treaty.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s reputation for inventing some of the most technologically advanced weapons used in modern warfare is attracting an increasing level of attention from that other powerful club based in Brussels: the European Union.

Sources in the European Defense Agency (EDA) — a body set up following lobbying by leading arms manufacturers and dedicated to boosting military expenditure by EU governments — have told this writer they are particularly excited by Israel’s pilotless drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Many officials in the EDA regard the agency’s work on drones as its most important activity. In July, the EDA will participate in a major conference here aimed at convincing the public that these sophisticated spy-planes can help achieve such laudable objectives as protecting the environment.

This exercise bears all the hallmarks of what ecologists call “greenwash.” Far from being invented to save the planet, drones have been used in numerous attacks by Israel on Palestinian civilians, as well as by NATO forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Britain and the Netherlands are among the countries taking part in the war in Afghanistan to have signed contracts to buy or rent Israeli drones in recent months.

A spokeswoman for the EDA explained that while her agency keeps a close eye on Israel’s arms industry, there are no plans for a formal cooperation agreement with Israel. The same cannot be said for the EU’s multi-annual scientific research program, which has a budget of 53 billion euros ($66.7 billion) for the 2007-13 period. Israel is the largest foreign partner in this program and the country’s arms-makers are intimately involved.

To prove that it was committed to former US President George W. Bush’s “war on terror,” the EU has decided in recent years to include security as a theme within the program. Nearly 60 projects have been financed under this category, with Israel taking part in 12 of them. Motorola Israel, for example, is signed up to a project designed to help the detection of “intruders” to buildings or areas deemed of high economic value. Motorola has ample experience in developing the kind of surveillance equipment that will probably feature in this project: it has installed a “virtual fence” around a network of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This “fence” uses thermal cameras and other sensory devices to pinpoint anyone — such as a Palestinian — who the Israeli authorities believe should not be allowed to enter settlements built illegally on Palestinian land in open violation of international law.

In another example of greenwash, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is playing a prominent role in the “Clean Sky” project, which is supposed to encourage the development of less-polluting aircraft engines. Far from being an eco-warrior, IAI is a top supplier of warplanes to the Israeli army.

Earlier this year, Irishwoman Maire Geoghegan-Quinn became the new European commissioner for science and research. When her spokesperson Mark English was asked if she has any ethical concerns about how EU-funded projects have been opened up to Israeli firms who have field tested their weapons against Palestinian civilians, rather than answering that question, he said that all of the EU’s research activities “maintain an exclusively civilian orientation.” He added: “our rules, however, do not preclude enterprises, which are also active in the defense industry — be they in the EU or in an associated country like Israel — from participating.”

It is deceptive for EU officials to claim that activities that involve arms companies are entirely civilian, especially when those companies hail from a highly militarized country like Israel and are directly implicated in the occupation and its attendant abuses of international law. As it happens, other officials have acknowledged that the EU institutions are preparing a blueprint for extending the scope of its scientific research programs into more hardcore military research.

Nobody should be surprised if Israel’s merchants of death and destruction will gobble up an even greater chunk of the EU’s research pie in the coming years. The only positive aspect of this ever-deepening relationship with Israel is that it helps shatter all illusions that the EU is serious when bragging routinely of its commitment to human rights.

David Cronin’s book Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occupation will be published later this year by Pluto Press. NATO’s Other Member State By David Cronin, 27 May, 2010, The Electronic Intifada