Archive for the ‘Middle East’ category

The Green Zone Is Now Under Iraqi Control

January 1, 2009
Republican Palace

Republican Palace

(New York) – January 1, 2009. A new year has come and an old one has gone, in a sign of the progress in Iraq the United States has made it has handed over control of the Green Zone to Iraqi forces. The 5.6-square-mile area in the heart of Baghdad also known as the International Zone will be under full control of the Iraqi’s, although there will be a United States presence there, the US is even paying rent now. (more…)

Advertisements

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert: “currently at the first of several stages” of the operation

December 30, 2008

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a meeting with top officials that the latest military actions were to continue. Mr Olmert’s statement that the bombardment was “the first of several stages approved by the security cabinet” was quoted from a briefing he gave to President Shimon Peres on Tuesday.

Israel is determined to defeat Hamas and end rocket fire into its southern cities. So far there are reports of close to 400 casualities however there is no known number of how many of those are civilian. Hamas has responded with rockets which have killed at least 1 Israeli.

One would expect large civilian causalities in such a densely populated area however so far Israel has managed to keep its bombs on target as there have been no reports of schools or other civilian buildings being hit. Israel has explicitly said it is only targeting Hamas and its operatives in the strikes.

Most of the strikes into Gaza have been predominately in Gaza city which is at the northern part of the Gaza strip.

The Israeli military “has made preparations for long weeks of action”, deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai said in an interview with the BBC.

US BACKS ISRAELI ACTIONS.
“The United States understands that Israel needs to take actions to defend itself, In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable ceasefire.”

The United States has not called for restraint as many had hoped it would. President Bush has not announced his position on it, leaving the spokesperson to do so. Secretary of State Rice is pushing for a ceasefire.

– White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

CNN has more coverage:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/12/30/gaza.israel.airstrikes/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

The Next Step In Gaza

December 29, 2008

Israel has launched an attack on Hamas in the Gaza strip. We all know the outcome, hundred of Hamas fighters hurt along with the “collateral damage” of innocent civilians.

Yes, only a handful of Israeli’s have died due to the rocket attacks and their response was the killing of hundreds. One has to realize however that Israel has to appear unbeatable in order to survive while surrounded by what it perceives to be as enemies.

What I don’t seem to understand is Israel’s plan here. Sure, they attack Hamas and set them back for a bit, but then what? There are close to one and a half million people in the Gaza strip, in order to completely put down Hamas, Israel will have to reoccupy the Gaza strip.

When they attempted to do this against Hezbollah they failed, miserably. They did not achieve a single objective for the first time in their military history. What they did do, is send people into the arms of Hezbollah, and the people saw Hezbollah as a legitimate organization. These attacks are doing nothing but acting as a recruitment tool for Hamas, and Hezbollah.

If Israel wants to defeat Hamas and end these rocket attacks once and for all they will have to work with Hamas, as hard as that is for them to swallow, not all medicine is sweet.

End this renewed campaign, do not send in ground forces, start opening up the ports and airspace to allow for the people of Gaza to realize that Israel is not their enemy. Israel says it is not the enemy of the people in press conferences. But to those Palestinians who have seen bombs fall on their houses, those words are meaningless.

Israeli Embassy In London Faces Mass Demonstrations

December 29, 2008

(New York) Today protesters have gathered near the Israeli embassy to protest the recent military incursions into Gaza. We have clips from YouTube filmed by protesters outside of the embassy. The protesters were not allowed close to the embassy as they were held back by the London Metropolitan Police.

These protests follow reports stating that the embassy had received a white powder filled envelope which turned out to be a false alarm. Stay tuned for more updates.

Israel Launches Air Offensive on Gaza Strip

December 27, 2008
Gaza Strip map.

Gaza Strip map.

(New York) – Reports have been coming in about the recent Israeli military operations launched into the Gaza strip. The Israeli air force launched wave after wave of air strikes into Gaza as a response to the rocket attacks on civilian populations by Hamas. Casualty reports vary but estimates say close to 200 Palestinians have been killed in the air strikes. The BBC’s London Bureau is reporting injuries close to 700 people as of now. The air strikes continued on into the night and showed not sign of ending soon.

This does not seem to be a quick retaliation from the Israelis as indicated by announcements from top leaders. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the military operation “may take some time.”

Surrounded by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni he went on to say “It’s not going to last a few days.”

Khaled Meshaal a Hamas leader, called for a new intifada against Israel as a response to the recent violent escalation. An attack such as this against the palestinians has not been seen in decades. Hamas’ Gaza leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said “Palestine has never witnessed an uglier massacre.”

Israel has claimed to have hit close to 40 targets in the strip and Hamas confirmed that all of its security compounds in the Gaza strip have been destroyed as a result of the air strikes. Hamas has stated they would renew their rocket attacks against southern Israeli cities immediately as a response to this latest turn of events.

Rumors abound of an Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza strip amid televesion reports stating that Israeli ground forces had begun amassing near the border. (more…)

US To Increase Troop Presence In Afghanistan

December 20, 2008
U.S. Army Soldiers from Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment provide security during a meeting with the district subgovernor at the district center in Sabari, Afghanistan, March 6, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Holley)

U.S. Army Soldiers from Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment provide security during a meeting with the district subgovernor at the district center in Sabari, Afghanistan, March 6, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Holley)

(New York) – In Kabul Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen announced a planned increase in the number of American troops in Afghanistan.

“Some 20 to 30,000 is the window of overall increase from where we are right now. I don’t have an exact number,” He was quoted as saying.

This would double the amount of American troops in the country. Currently there are 31,000 US troops in the country. NATO is contributing 51,000 soldiers to the mission in Afghanistan under the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). However included in that number are 14,000 American soldiers.

General David McKiernan who is in charge of the ISAF has continually requested more troops to help combat a resurgent Taliban. Admiral Mullen said the American troops would be sent to Southern Afghanistan to assist Canadian and Dutch troops which have shouldered most of the burden in fighting the Taliban.

Secretary of State Gates recently announced the deployment of another brigade to arrive early next year. The annoucment of troops while not unexpected comes on the heels of an announcement from the British government stating their intentions to send more troops to Afghanistan.

It seems the plan would be to help build infrastructure and increase security on the local level while the Taliban is held at bay by the new forces.

After Guantanamo… part 2

December 14, 2008

This is part two of a two part series on Guantanamo Bay. The first part can be found here.

Previously we answered the question about where detainees who are set free can go. Now we address the rest of the detainees….

So what about the rest of the detainees? Well most of them will face trails under the plans being crafted by the Obama administration. The Bush administration has set up military tribunals for the detainees.

Various organizations such as the ACLU and Amnesty International have cited these tribunals as unfair. Recently the ACLU released a letter about the tribunals.

“Many of us do not believe these military commissions to be fair, in accordance with American values, or capable of achieving the justice that 9/11 family members and all Americans deserve,”

Many are asking to give the detainees fair trials with Constitutional rights, the same rights anyone on American soil is entitled to. There is opposition to the plan to give the detainees trials in the US. One of those is Senate Judiciary Committee member John Cornyn, (R-TX) said it is a “colossal mistake to treat terrorism as a mere crime.”

Human Rights First which recently met with the transition team issued a statement saying since the attacks of 9/11 there have been 107 successful prosecutions of international terrorism cases in the federal courts, compared with three convictions in military commissions at Guantanamo Bay.

President-Elect Obama will no doubt have to address this issue very early on in his presidency. Many have cited the unfair treatment of prisoners as a violation of human rights and some have even resigned their positions in protest of the treatment.

Many inside the current administration are hoping Obama will keep the camp open after reading some of the classified information he now has access to. Will it happen? (more…)