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Drone Strikes Continue To Fuel Anti-US Sentiment In Pakistan

Drone Strikes Continue To Fuel Anti-US Sentiment In Pakistan

Jason Ditz

US Claims Massive ‘Militant’ Deaths and Almost No Civilian Casualties

The CIA’s drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas, something which has become an enormous issue over the past year and a half, have been an enormous source of controversy, both legal and practical.

The US, for its part, maintains that the drone strikes have caused no more than 30 civilian casualties, while killing over 500 militants. The claims seem common among US officials, in keeping with the narrative of precision drone strikes.

But they are tough to swallow for children killed and maimed in the almost constant bombardment. And for villagers the claims that friends and relatives are “suspected militants” are tough to reconcile with reality, as are the claims of US precision.

They also don’t jibe with figures from Pakistan’s own intelligence agencies, which estimate that the US actually killed 700 civilians in 2009 alone, while killing only a handful of confirmed militants. The number of civilians wounded in all these attacks is unknown, but significant.

It is unsurprising, then, that the strikes continue to inflame anti-US sentiment across Pakistan, and US claims that the victims are almost universally “militants” is likely only making matters worse, in the face of enormous evidence to the contrary.

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US to Soften Sanctions, Drop Iranian Embargo Plans

March 27, 2010 Leave a comment

US to Soften Sanctions, Drop Iranian Embargo Plans

(AFP) – 1 day ago

WASHINGTON — The United States has stepped back from a series of harsh measures against Iran and softened proposed UN sanctions to win the backing of China and Russia, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The newspaper said proposals that would have effectively closed international airspace and waters to Iranian state-owned air cargo and shipping lines had been scrapped.

The proposed package of sanctions had also been stripped of plans targeting insurance for certain Iranian companies and the sale of Iranian bonds.

The United States is working to develop consensus among the five veto-wielding permanent members of the United Nations Security Council on sanctions punishing Tehran for its nuclear program.

But while the United States, Britain and France agree on the need for tough new measures, Russia and particularly China have been more reluctant to sign off on new sanctions.

The Journal said the revised sanctions would more narrowly target “major power centers in Iran, in particular the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” and would firm up existing pressure on Tehran.

The scrapped proposals included tough new measures that would increase Iran’s isolation to unprecedented levels.

The US proposals reportedly sought to ban Iran Air and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines cargo craft from entering international airspace and to prevent the purchase or sale of any Iranian bonds linked to the Tehran government.

It would also have prevented “the provision of insurance services to Iranian companies for international transport-related contracts,” the Journal said.

Instead, the proposed resolution now seeks to enforce existing sanctions on cargo shipments, urges the country to take additional steps to bar insurance provisions and calls for “vigilance” in transactions involving Iran.

The United States had hoped to get a new round of UN sanctions passed early this year, possibly around April, the newspaper said, but difficulty securing support could push the effort back into the summer.

While Washington suspects that Iran is trying to develop atomic weapons, the government in Tehran insists its nuclear program is merely designed to meet its domestic energy needs.

Crazy Zionists and Their “Temple Mount” Plot

March 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Hamas: ‘Hurva’ Synagogue a Declaration of War; Israel Playing With Fire

Hanan Awarekeh

16/03/2010 Israel has opened the so-called “Hurva” (Ruin) synagogue in occupied Jerusalem (al-Quds) on Monday, in a move backed by the United States and ignited angry protests by Palestinians in the holy city and elsewhere in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Hamas announced Tuesday a “day of rage” a day following the opening of the synagogue a few hundred meters from the al-Aqsa Mosque in.

A joint Palestinian factions’ statement read by Hamas’ Politburo Chief Khaled Meshaal in Damascus on Monday, described the synagogue opening as “a declaration of war” because of its direct threat to the holy site. “It is part of a project to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque” and replace it with Israel’s so-called “Solomon’s Temple.”

Mashaal slammed Tel Aviv’s “falsification of history and Jerusalem’s religious and historic monuments”. “Israel is playing with fire and touching off the first spark to make the region explode,” he said.

Large Israeli occupation forces continued to deploy throughout the occupied city, with 3,000 policemen and border officers stationed in the area and in neighboring villages, where hundreds of Palestinians clashed with the occupation police early Tuesday.

Israeli police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at protesters who hurled rocks at occupation security forces in the Shuafat refugee camp.

In a video message to the opening ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claimed that the synagogue brought a message of religious coexistence. “We permit believers of other faiths to conserve their places of worship. We proudly protect our heritage, while at the same time allowing others freedom of religion,” he said.

Netanyahu’s speech came while Palestinian men under the age of 50 were barred from entering the al-Aqsa Mosque compound for a fourth day and will continue for the fifth day. Members of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee are set to hold a procession in the east of the city on Wednesday.

Israeli Housing Minister Ariel Atias used the occasion to stress construction in Jerusalem will continue. “We have thousands of housing units in 2010, and no government has allowed a dialogue about the right to build in Jerusalem,” the Israeli minister said.

Palestinians both in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip closed ranks to condemn the Israeli move.

Head of al-Quds international institution, Dr. Ahmed Abu Halabiya, warned the opening of the synagogue in al-Quds was part of an Israeli plan “to build a Jewish temple on al-Aqsa ruins.”

Hamas called on Arab and Islamic governments to shoulder the responsibility of protecting Al-Quds and the Aqsa Mosque. The movement also urged PA chief Mahmoud Abbas and his entourage to end the futile negotiations with the Israeli occupation government and to return to the ranks of the Palestinian resistance to confront the occupation and its schemes.

Senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Zahhar leveled scathing criticism to the occupation government saying: “You who are opening Hurva are heading towards ruin. Wherever you have been you’ve been sent to your destruction. You’ve killed and murdered your prophets and you have always dealt in loan-sharking and destruction,” he said Monday, during a conference of Palestinian groups in Gaza.

“You’re destined to be destroyed. You’ve made a deal with the devil and with destruction itself – just like your synagogue,” al-Zahhar said.

He urged the Arab world to respond to “Israel’s crimes and protect the sites that are holy to Muslims and Christians from the Zionists’ racist onslaught”.

Moreover, Political bureau member of Hamas Ezzet Al-Resheq said the synagogue served as a cornerstone for the Judaization of Jerusalem, warning in a press release on Monday the Israeli occupation authority of the repercussions of the aggressive policy against Al-Quds and the Aqsa Mosque.

Hatem Abdel Qader, the Palestinian Authority’s official in charge of al-Quds affairs, expressed concern over what he described as “not just a synagogue.” “This synagogue will be a prelude to violence, extremism and religious fanaticism, and that will not be limited to extremist Jews but includes members of the Israeli government,” he warned.

The US State Department, however, criticized Palestinian comments for “mischaracterizing the event in question, which can only serve to heighten the tensions we see.”

The US support for the opening of the synagogue raises serious questions over a purported dispute between Tel Aviv and Washington over the continued Israeli settlement construction. Some analysts argue that the ostensible tensions are to provide a cover for Israel’s encroach upon Palestinian and Islamic identity of al-Quds