Friday, November 30, 2007

The One State Declaration

uruknet.info, November 29, 2007

Various authors, IMEU

On the 60th anniversary of the passage of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181, the below signatories have issued the "One State Declaration." The statement is the result of two conferences held this year in Madrid and London on the one-state solution.

For decades, efforts to bring about a two-state solution in historic Palestine have failed to provide justice and peace for the Palestinian and Israeli Jewish peoples, or to offer a genuine process leading towards them.

The two-state solution ignores the physical and political realities on the ground, and presumes a false parity in power and moral claims between a colonized and occupied people on the one hand and a colonizing state and military occupier on the other. It is predicated on the unjust premise that peace can be achieved by granting limited national rights to Palestinians living in the areas occupied in 1967, while denying the rights of Palestinians inside the 1948 borders and in the Diaspora. Thus, the two-state solution condemns Palestinian citizens of Israel to permanent second-class status within their homeland, in a racist state that denies their rights by enacting laws that privilege Jews constitutionally, legally, politically, socially and culturally. Moreover, the two-state solution denies Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right of return.

Keep reading . . .

Annapolis's sole purpose is to serve the Bush agenda


By Adrian Hamilton
The Independent | Published: November 29, 2007

There can have been few more excruciating sights than President Bush parading the Israeli and Palestinian leaders before the cameras at the Annapolis summit on Tuesday, clasping their hands, squeezing their shoulders, pushing them together for a handshake and then leaving them to return to their seats like awkward boys summoned to the podium to be congratulated for their efforts at a school prizegiving.

But then that was only right for the occasion. Why were President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert there in the first place, if not because the White House had propelled them there with not an iota of prior agreement between them? And why did their joint statement of intent single out the end of 2008 as the time by which they hoped to reach a peace settlement? Because that is when President Bush will be leaving office.

Keep reading . . .

News Not Fit to Print: US Coup Planned for Venezuela?

Counterpunch, November 29, 2007

By Dave Lindorff

The New York Times had a news article about Venezuela in Thursday's edition, but it was about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez saying he would cut diplomatic ties with neighboring Colombia. There wasn't a word about a memo from a CIA operative in Caracas to CIA Director General Michael Hayden, uncovered yesterday, outlining a plan for interfering with a Venezuelan referendum set for Dec. 2, and laying out the steps for instigating and backing a coup.

The plot, called "Operation Pliers," and laid out in the letter to Hayden by an undercover operative named Michael Steele, who reportedly works in the US Embassy as a "regional affairs officer," was intercepted by Venezuelan intelligence and released publicly on state TV yesterday.

Keep reading . . .

Thursday, November 29, 2007

US missile plan targeting Russia: Gorbachev

The News International, November 29, 2007

BUDAPEST, Hungary: Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said on Wednesday that he viewed a US plan to deploy a missile defence shield in Central Europe as targeting Russia, not Iran.

“(On Tuesday) Milos Zeman, the former Czech prime minister, said, ‘What kind of Iran threat do you see? This is a system that is being created against Russia,’” Gorbachev said.

“I don’t think Zeman is alone in seeing this. We see this as well as he sees it.” The United States wants to place a radar station in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland, saying the components would defend European allies against a possible Iranian strike. Gorbachev, 76, whose policies of glasnost and perestroika openness and restructuring helped end communism in the Soviet Union and its satellites, criticised the high level of military spending by the United States. “Does America intend to fight the rest of the world, does America need to build a new empire? They will not succeed,” Gorbachev said at the close of a meeting of the World Political Forum, a group he founded in 2003 that includes many former high-ranking politicians.

Keep reading . . .

Saudi judges insulted gang rape victim: HRW

Khaleej Times, November 29, 2007

LONDON - A Saudi gang rape victim who was sentenced to six months in jail and 200 lashes was scolded by judges while police repeatedly dismissed her claims, she said in testimony published on Thursday.

The 19-year-old girl described the rape itself — including the fact that one of her attackers photographed her — and her struggle to eat or sleep in its immediate aftermath to the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

She was attacked at knifepoint by seven men after she was found in a car with a male companion who was not a relative, in breach of strict Saudi law, and was initially sentenced last year to 90 lashes for being with the man.

Following her appeal, the court ordered her punishment should be increased to the current sentence, a decision which has attracted wide international condemnation from human rights groups to the White House.

According to the testimony published in Britain’s The Independent newspaper, once the girl’s husband found out about the gang rape, he told the police and appealed for the rapists to be arrested, to which a police officer said: “You go find them and investigate.”

Keep reading . . .


“A” is for Apartheid or Annapolis

In the 80s, we gave up 78% of our homeland to try to pick up the pieces of our lives on the remaining 22% of Palestine. This was, and remains, the only true (brave or otherwise) concession ever made in the so-called ‘Middle East Conflict.” Next came Camp David, then Madrid, then Oslo, then another Camp David, Taba, Wye, (deep breath) Sharm el Sheikh, the Disengagement, the Road Map. Through it all, Israel continued to divide, carve out, confiscate and settle that 22%. They scattered us into a diaspora, shut down our schools, bombed damn near every inch of the West Bank and Gaza, herded us into ghettos, set up checkpoints all around us and employed every tool of imperialism, times ten, to get rid of or subjugate us as a cheap labor force.

Keep reading . . .

Who Is Defending Pakistan's Democracy? Not the Politicians, It's the Judges

By Medea Benjamin, AlterNet. Posted November 29, 2007.

The heroes in Pakistan aren't returning former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif -- it's the Supreme Court and High Court judges who stopped Musharraf's assault on the Constitution.

The heroes in today's Pakistan are not the returning former prime ministers -- Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif -- but the Supreme Court and High Court judges who refused to accept Gen. Musharraf's emergency law putting the Constitution in abeyance. When asked to take a new oath pledging to uphold his "Provisional Constitutional Order," they simply said no. While politicians Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif are making deals with Musharraf to get back into power, these judges are putting principle over power. They may have lost their seats on the bench, but they have won the hearts of millions of Pakistanis.

Keep reading . . .

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

US air strikes kill 14 civilian roadworkers in Afghanistan

David Batty and agencies
Wednesday November 28, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

US air strike in Afghanistan
Afghans load a casket of a victim of the Jalalabad air strike into an ambulance. Photograph: Rafiq Shirzad/Reuters

US forces mistakenly killed at least a dozen road construction workers in air strikes in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said today.As many as 14 engineers and labourers were killed in the incident on Monday in Nuristan province, which officials blamed on faulty intelligence, possibly fed out by the Taliban.

The workers, who had been contracted by the US military to build a road in the mountainous province, were sleeping in their tents when they were killed, according to Sayed Noorullah Jalili, director of the road construction company Amerifa.

“All of our poor workers have been killed,” Jalili said. “I don’t think the Americans were targeting our people. I’m sure it’s the enemy of the Afghans who gave the Americans this wrong information.”

The company has asked the US military to investigate the information that led to the air strike, Jalili said.

The Nuristan governor, Tamim Nuristani, said US troops had been tipped off that a feared local Taliban commander was in the area but they hit the wrong target.

The US-led coalition said it was investigating the incident. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed it had conducted air strikes against Taliban fighters in the area, but did not say when.

“ISAF was engaged in Nurgaram and Du Ab districts, and in those places we used air strikes against [Taliban],” said the ISAF spokesman, Brigadier General Carlos Branco. “The situation is not clear at all at this stage. We are carrying out the investigation and trying to get a clear picture.”

The incident is likely to fuel Afghan resentment at the presence of international forces. Earlier this year, foreign troops came under scathing criticism for conducting air strikes based on poor intelligence that caused a number of civilian casualties.

Afghanistan has seen a steady rise in violence over the past two years since the Taliban renewed its attempt to overthrow the pro-western Afghan government and eject more than 50,000 foreign troops.

Annapolis and the ‘merry-go-round’

Online Journal, November 26, 2007
Commentary


By Dr. Marwan Asmar
Online Journal Guest Writer

It is being described as a “merry-go-round” peace process, because it keeps going round and round with actors going on and off, but doesn’t lead anywhere. It has new faces all the time but it does not move on substance.

The latest peace conference on the Middle East due to be held in Annapolis on 27 November is seen as another brave but diluted attempt to put the peace process, which has been on a life support machine for the last seven years, back on track.

Annapolis is sort of a last ditch attempt by the Bush administration to tell the world, and probably the Arabs and the Palestinians especially, ‘we are trying, we are trying, but its is up to you guys, including of course the Israelis to sit together and sort out your differences.'

For the Bush administration Annapolis is a face-saving attempt to tell the Arabs to support US policy in Iraq, as if they really need to. Privately Washington knows the Arab world has long become the careless sick man of Europe, but argues a little pandering now and then would not do any harm.

It sends public blessings to the Israelis to carry on their business-as-usual with the Palestinians, while embroiling them in a continuous hand-shaking formula that means much political-speak but no practical action on the ground.

Keep reading . . .

US unsure about new Sharif in town

Times of India, 28 Nov 2007,

Chidanand Rajghatta



WASHINGTON: From Pakistan's man-on-the-street to stratospheric analysts at international think-tanks, it has long been said the perpetually embattled country is governed by three As - Army, Allah, and America.

But on a long Thanksgiving weekend during which the United States feasted itself to distraction, another A quietly took centerstage ahead of the troika of Pakistan's patrons.

Saudi Arabia has always been Pakistan's great benefactor, as much as long-time ally China and the vice-regal United States. But where Beijing and Washington have given Pakistan arms, nuclear weapons, and assorted goods, Saudis have provided Islamabad with ideological and religious underpinning, not to speak of loads of money and plenty of free oil.

Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia moved to protect its investment in Pakistan, taking over a key role in the country's transformational politics and edging out its own patron, the United States. By forcing the return of exiled former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan, the Saudi monarchy seemingly cocked a snook at Washington, which is backing Sharif's arch-rival Benazir Bhutto and engineering her political marriage with military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Keep reading . . .

Last Call for a Two-State Solution?

Source: Fernand Braudel Center, Binghampton University

Commentary No. 220, November 1, 2007

By Immanuel Wallesrstein

The prevailing worldwide view of how to resolve politically the conflict of two nationalisms in Israel/Palestine is the so-called two-state solution - that is, the creation of two states, Israel and Palestine, within the boundaries of the onetime British Mandate of Palestine. Actually, this position is not at all new. One might argue that it was the prevailing worldwide position throughout the twentieth century.

The Balfour Declaration of the British government in 1917 called for the establishment of a "Jewish national home" within Palestine, which implied the idea of two states. When the United Nations passed its resolution in 1947, it called explicitly for the establishment of two states (with a special status for Jerusalem). The partition was supported at the time by both the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as by the social movements everywhere that followed their lead. The Oslo accords of 1993 called for two states. And today Condoleezza Rice insists that a final agreement on two states is an urgent matter that she hopes to see implemented at a conference to be convened in Annapolis, Maryland (at an as yet indefinite date, presumably in November of this year).

Keep reading . . .

Broken Peace Process


by Stephen Zunes

There’s little reason to hope for a breakthrough at the Middle East peace summit in Annapolis, unless there is a fundamental shift in U.S. policy in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And there’s little evidence to suggest such a change is forthcoming.

Indeed, Yossi Beilin, the Israeli Knesset member and former cabinet official who served as one of the major architects of the Oslo Accords, called for the conference to be canceled, fearing that it will only be “an empty summit that will only attract Arab ambassadors and not decision-makers alongside an Israeli leadership that prefers [appeasing Israeli hardliners] over a breakthrough to peace.” As a result, he argues that the meeting is doomed to fail and, as a result, would “weaken the Palestinian camp, strengthen Hamas and cause violence.”

Keep reading . . .

The Algebra of Occupation


Conn Hallinan | Foreign Policy In Focus, November 27, 2007

In 1805, the French army out maneuvered, outsmarted, and outfought the combined armies of Russia and Austria at Austerlitz. Three years later it would flounder against a rag-tag collection of Spanish guerrillas.

In 1967, it took six days for the Israeli army to smash Egypt, Jordan, and Syria and seize the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula. In 2006, a Shiite militia fought the mightiest army in the Middle East to a bloody standstill in Lebanon.

In 1991, it took four days of ground combat for the United States to crush Saddam Hussein’s army in the Gulf War. U.S. losses were 148 dead and 647 wounded. After more than five years of war in Iraq, U.S. losses are approaching 4,000, with over 50,000 wounded; 2007 is already the deadliest year of the war for the United States.

In each case, a great army won a decisive victory only to see that victory canceled out by what T.E. Lawrence once called the “algebra of occupation.” Writing about the British occupation of Iraq following the Ottoman Empire’s collapse in World War I, Lawrence put his finger on the formula that has doomed virtually every military force that has tried to quell a restive population.

Keep reading . . .

The Iraqification of Afghanistan

AlterNet,

By Marie Cocco, Washington Post Writers Group. Posted November 28, 2007.

As the disaster in Iraq continues, the forgotten country of Afghanistan is on the
verge of becoming another widespread human rights disaster.


Winter approaches, and as many as 400,000 Afghans face starvation. The trouble is not an insufficient supply of food. There is no way to get food to those who need it.

Attacks on aid workers and the hijacking of food convoys -- the United Nations' main feeding program says it has lost about 100,000 tons of food to attacks by insurgents and criminals so far this year -- have made it all but impossible to transport supplies along the main road connecting vast stretches of the country between Kandahar in the south and Herat in the west.

Nothing exposes a hollow promise like the prospect of mass starvation. By now, six years after the United States and its Western allies launched military operations to avenge the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and free Afghanistan from the grip of the Taliban, humanitarian workers surely should not be forced to give up on feeding the desperate. But this is only one measure of our catastrophic failure.

Keep reading . . .

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

IBA condemns targeting of lawyers by Pakistan authorities

International Bar Association, November 27, 2007

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) today condemned the continuing arrest and detention of lawyers in Pakistan, despite the Government’s claims that it was easing emergency rule.

‘It was claimed that the deposed Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had been released from house arrest,’ said Dr Phillip Tahmindjis, IBA Programme Lawyer. ‘However, when lawyers went to see him at his home last Tuesday they were prevented by the police from doing so and one of them, Athar Minallah, was later arrested without charge.’

Many lawyers remain in custody in Pakistan, including the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Aitzaz Ahsan.

‘It appears to be more than a mere coincidence that Mr Minallah and Mr Ahsan have both been critical of the government,’ Dr Tahmindjis added. ‘Mr Ahsan was one of the Chief Justice’s defence counsel.’

The IBAHRI is monitoring the situation to ascertain whether lawyers who supported the Chief Justice in their professional capacity are being particularly targeted.

For further information/expanded commentary, please contact:

Romana St Matthew - Daniel

Press Office

International Bar Association

10th Floor

1 Stephen Street

London W1T 1AT

United Kingdom

Direct Line: +44 (0)20 7691 6837

Switchboard: + 44 (0)20 7691 6868

Fax: + 44 (0)20 7691 6544

E-mail: romana.daniel@int-bar.org

Website: www.ibanet.org

Musharraf will not reinstate deposed judges: aides

Dictatorship Watch, November 27, 2007

Islamabad (PTI): Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is expected to end the emergency and restore the Constitution soon but he will not reinstate the deposed judges of the Supreme Court, two of his close aides have said.

Attorney General Malik Qayyum and former Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, both considered close to Musharraf, said the President may lift the emergency, withdraw the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) and restore the Constitution within a few days, but he will never accept the opposition's demand to reinstate deposed judges.

Musharraf is ready to accept every demand of the opposition parties, except the reinstatement of sacked Chief Justice Iftikhar M Chaudhry and other judges of the pre-emergency apex court, Qayyum and Ahmed told 'The News'.

Ahmed said restoring the judiciary is impossible for Musharraf now as it was the "only problem" for him.

Qayyum said: "It is impossible now as the present Supreme Court has made it clear in its verdict in the case against imposition of emergency and promulgation of PCO that the judges who didn't take oath under the PCO are no longer judges. The President couldn't go against the orders of Supreme Court."

Asked if the demands of former Premier Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) for restoration of the Constitution and ending emergency also meant the reinstatement of the judges, Qayyum said "no."

"Even when the Constitution will be restored and emergency will be lifted, the deposed judges could not be restored as it will be against the November 23 verdict of the present Supreme Court," he said.

The End of State-Socialism and the Future of Marxism

Socialist Viewpoint, May/June 2007, Vol. 7, No. 3

By Dr. Nasir Khan

The New World Order

The rapid course of events that had started unfolding in the second half of 1989 in Eastern Europe eventually culminated in the disintegration of the Soviet Union by the end of 1991. These colossal changes in the former Eastern bloc countries undoubtedly constitute one of the major turning points in the history of the twentieth century. In view of the epochal changes that had taken place, political observers asked questions, such as: What will be the final outcome of these developments? What sort of new global order will emerge to replace the former balance of power between the East and the West? How is the United States as the sole superpower going to behave in relation to those countries that choose to follow their independent socio-economic developments, stand for their national interests or refuse to bow to the U.S. domination and pressure? As it turned out, no one had to wait long for the answers. The events during the last fourteen years are before us. They have revealed clearly the shape of international developments.

Let us take a quick glance at some of the events. We have seen how during the course of the last sixteen years the U.S. has virtually monopolized the United Nations and started to use it to dictate its decrees in the international organization. In the first place, this ploy succeeds because it gives the appearance of legalistic formality to the American conduct before the silent majority in the international community who in any case has little or no effective influence on the major decisions, which are taken in the Security Council. Secondly, this practice has been closely associated with asserting the full weight of the U.S., the only superpower in the international arena. The foundation of this role is to protect and increase the sphere of the U.S. interests. These, in any case, are not confined to any fixed area or location; they extend to the whole world in general, and in particular, the oil-rich countries of the Middles East. At the same time, only the U.S. can define and proclaim its national interests in any manner it chooses to do so. This assertion of supra-national interests is backed by the most destructive military arsenal and prowess in the human history as well as by using the policy of terror and intimidation against those countries that dare to defy the United States diktat.

Complete article . . .

Reading Nandigram

Where to Place the Bookmark?
by Badri Raina | ZNet,
November 18, 2007

I recall a young member of the family who would snatch an Agatha Christie as someone was reading it, sift quickly to the last pages, find out who-done-it, hand the book back, and grin for days with the secret knowledge that the one reading the book did not yet have.

Such are the joys of reading books from the wrong end.

Thus, for many historians of modern Russian history, the only one thing to remember about the Bolshevik revolution is that it led to the Gulag, or that the chief feature of India’s Freedom Struggle was the Partition of India, or that it is the madness of 1989-90 that once and for all must define the character of Kashmiri Muslims, never mind that the very same saved both the valley and the [Kashmiri] Pandits against co-religionist invaders in 1947.

In the same vein, many hold that both Nazism and the Second World War happened simply because Hitler was an evil man, and the Gujarat massacres of 2002 had nothing to do with the history of Hindu-Fascist ideology over a century or so but with the fact that a train caught fire at Godhra.

Nor is there a dearth of readers who believe that the evil nature of science is conclusively established by the single fact of atomic fission; nothing else may be said for science. Period.

Keep reading . . .

Israeli-Palestinian Middle East "Peace Process": Tragedy and Travesty at Annapolis

Global Research, November 26, 2007

November 27 at Annapolis kicks off the latest Israeli-Palestinian Middle East peace process round that may be an historic first. It's the first time in memory the legitimate government of one side is excluded, and that alone dooms it. Like previous rounds, it's more pretense than peace, and as Jonathan Steele puts it in his November 16 Guardian column: "The Palestinian path to peace does not go via Annapolis....so what do....Palestinians do next....In their decades-long bid for justice, they have tried everything:" armed struggle to compromise, but nothing works and the reason is simple. Their sincerity isn't matched by Israel, the West, other Arab states and the US most of all with all the muscle in its hands to push or constrain Israelis to be serious and fair. That's the problem. How can one side negotiate in good faith without a willing partner.

Keep reading . . .

Leaderless and Clueless America Heads for the Trash Can of History

VDARE.com, November 26, 2007

By Paul Craig Roberts

In new books writers as disparate as Naomi Wolf and Pat Buchanan conclude that America as we know her is disappearing. Both writers hope, but are not confident, that enough Americans will catch on in time to find the leadership to pull America back from the brink.

If polls are reliable, a majority of Americans are dissatisfied with President Bush and Congress. However, Americans are far short of Wolf and Buchanan’s grasp of our peril.

Americans are unable to connect their dissatisfaction with the current political leadership with their choice of new leaders. All polls show that Hillary Clinton is far in the lead for the Democratic presidential nomination and Rudy Giuliani is far in the lead for the Republican nomination [See Polling report.com: Election 2008 ]. These are the only two candidates guaranteed to be worse than Bush/Cheney.

Both Hillary and Rudy are committed to the war. Both refuse to rule out expanding the war to Iran and beyond. Both are totally in the pocket of the Israel Lobby. Indeed, practically every Giuliani advisor is a member of the Lobby. Both defend the police state measures that “protect us from terrorism.” And neither gives a hoot for the US Constitution and the civil liberties it guarantees. The Republican Giuliani is likely to overturn the Second Amendment even quicker than the Democrat Hillary.

Keep reading . . .

US troops kill five Iraqi civilians: military

Khaleej Times, 27 November 2007

BAGHDAD - US troops killed five Iraqi civilians, including a child, in two separate shootings in the past two days, the US military said on Tuesday.

On Monday, US troops targeting al Qaeda fighters in Baiji, 180 km (110 miles) north of Baghdad, opened fire on a vehicle which approached a roadblock at high speed. Two men inside ignored warnings to stop, a military statement said.

A child was found wounded inside the vehicle but later died despite receiving medical treatment. A US military spokesman later said the two men in the vehicle were civilians and were not armed.

“Multi-National Force-Iraq deeply regrets when any Iraqi civilian is injured or killed, and our condolences go out to their families,” the spokesman said.

In Baghdad, US soldiers opened fire on a minibus early on Tuesday after its driver ignored instructions to stop which included a warning shot.

A military spokesman said the bus was travelling in a street that is off-limits to vehicles other than passenger cars.

“Initial reporting indicates that two passengers were killed and four wounded,” the spokesman said.

One police source said the bus was carrying Finance Ministry employees through the Shaab district of northern Baghdad. He said two people were killed and witnesses reported seeing at least one body lying in the street.

Another police source said four people were killed in the Shaab shooting, including three women.

Iraqis have often been angered by what they describe as the heavy-handed use of force by US troops since the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, especially in air strikes and by troops travelling in convoys of “Humvee” vehicles.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Posing For A Peace Snap

Toronto Sun, November 25, 2007

The photo ops in Maryland will be easy. Developing a fix for Mideast woes, a little more difficult

By ERIC MARGOLIS

About the only things on which Palestinians and Israelis agree as they head into this week's U.S.-orchestrated peace talks is their mutual love of falafel and belief the conclave at Annapolis, Md., will be little more than a photo op.

After creating disasters in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Palestine, and fanning worldwide anger against America, President George Bush desperately needs a foreign policy success in the final year of his ill-starred term.

So the same White House fib factory that produced such hit science fiction epics as Saddam's Death Rays, Iran's Nukes Menace the Globe and Muslim Terrorists Under Our Beds has been ordered to churn out the pre-Xmas fantasy Bush Brings Peace to the Holy Land.

A bunch of U.S. clients has been dragooned into reluctantly appearing as spear carriers. The cast includes Israeli PM Ehud Olmert, Palestinian semi-leader Mahmoud Abbas, and delegations from U.S. Arab allies. Syria, which fears a joint U.S.-Israeli invasion, debated whether it was more dangerous to come or stay away. Great Satan Iran was not invited to Bush's Maryland clambake.

Israel's strategy has long been to talk about talks about peace while steadily continuing to expand by building settlements on the West Bank and the former Syrian Golan Heights. Israeli settlements and military bases now occupy over half the entire West Bank and its best farmland and water resources.

Keep reading . . .


The Republicans who would’ve impeached Bush?

Not so long ago, members of Congress put the rule of law above partisan politics and loyalty to the White House.

By Vincent Rossmeier | Salon.com, November 26, 2007

News

AP Photo: Rep. Lawrence Hogan, R-Md., speaks on the Nixon impeachment question before the House Judiciary Committee on July 25, 1974. Listening at right is Rep. Caldwell Butler, R-Va.

During the past six years, leading Republicans in Congress have prioritized allegiance to a Republican president above all other governmental and constitutional concerns. But there was a time when U.S. lawmakers, regardless of party affiliation, actually voted the way of their conscience. There was a time when a president could not break the law or ignore a summons from Congress with impunity. Indeed, by the height of Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, a number of congressmen — including Republicans staunchly loyal to their party — acted to uphold the law and make Nixon accountable.

Today, the main concern of lawmakers seems to be the preservation of power and the entitlements that come with it. Republican allies of the White House have blocked congressional investigations into the Bush administration’s alleged misdeeds, including illegal spying on Americans’ phone calls. In 2006, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Pat Roberts, R-Kan., thwarted an investigation into warrantless eavesdropping by the National Security Agency. While serving as chairman of the Judiciary Committee prior to the Democratic takeover of Congress in 2006, Arlen Specter, R-Pa., though a vocal critic of the spying, failed to initiate any investigations into Bush’s wiretapping program, despite ample evidence that it violated the existing FISA laws. Meanwhile, top Democrats, including Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Dianne Feinstein of California, have shown a willingness to cave into Bush’s demands, including retroactive immunity for American telecom companies that assisted the government’s spying.

Keep reading . . .

Bhutto and Sharif decry dictatorship, while seeking a deal with Pakistan’s US-backed military regime

WSWS : News & Analysis

By Keith Jones
26 November 2007

Use this version to print | Send this link by email | Email the author

Pakistan is now in its twenty-third full day of de facto martial law. Basic civil liberties have been suspended. Thousands of government opponents—members of opposition parties, lawyers, human rights activists and trade unionists—remain in detention. Police break up anti-government protests with baton charges and mass arrests on a daily basis and the US-supported, military-dominated government has made civilians who challenge the rule of General President Pervez Musharraf liable to court martial.

Yet, even as they fulminate against military rule, all major factions of Pakistan’s traditional bourgeois political establishment are angling for a deal with the military and its supporters and bankrollers in Washington.

Only after the military regime had twice placed Benazir Bhutto under house arrest and arrested and roughed up thousands of her supporters did the “life chairperson” of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) announce, November 12, that she had “definitively” broken off power-sharing negotiations with Musharraf.

Now, bowing to pressure from the Bush administration, Bhutto has signaled that her PPP will participate in the bogus national and provincial elections the military regime intends to hold January 8. And the other major parties, beginning with the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who returned to Pakistan yesterday, appear set to follow suit, thereby serving as direct accomplices of the military regime.

Keep reading . . .

The PLO excluded from the Annapolis Conference


Global Research, November 23, 2007
As you will see from the list below, it seems the US has invited practically everyone in the world to this fandango -- from Poland to Sweden to Slovenia to Yemen to the World Bank and the IMF... except the PLO -- which is the only body that has the authority and international standing to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people! In addition, the elected government of Hamas is also not invited, of course.

Nov 23, 2007

My Dear Palestinian Friends:

As you can see from the US Government's list of Invitees [below] to the Annapolis Conference, it has only invited the Palestinian Authority, not the PLO. But only the PLO has the authority under international law to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian People and the State of Palestine. That is why the Chairman of the PLO Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Agreement in the name of the PLO. The Palestinian Authority has no authorization under international law to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian People, let alone the State of Palestine, whose Provisional Government is the PLO Executive Committee. Indeed, an entire series of UN General Assembly Resolutions have made it clear that only the PLO is the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian People. Hence this delegation of the Palestinian Authority to the Annapolis Conference has no legal authority under international law to conclude anything on behalf of the Palestinian People, let alone the State of Palestine

I would appreciate it if you would be so kind as to bring this matter to the attention of the Palestinian People around the world.

Thank you.

Francis A. Boyle

Professor of International Law
Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations and His Excellency Dr. Haidar Abdul Shaffi (1991-1993)

Keep reading . . .

Richardson: Iraq war not worth one more life

DesMonitorRegister.Com

By AARON W. JACO • Record-Herald Staff Writer • November 25, 2007

Indianola, Ia — The United States’ accomplishments in Iraq are not significant enough to merit the loss of another human life, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson told a crowd of about 100 people here Sunday.

“This war is not worth one human life, an American human life, the thousands of Iraqis,” Richardson said. “It should not be about body counts. It should be about, 'Is political progress being made?’ No.”

The comment sparked the loudest applause of Richardson’s hour-long talk, which also hit a high note when Richardson said Congress has been wimpy when it comes to finding withdrawal solutions.

“I wanted (Congress) to end this war,” Richardson said. “I wanted them to find ways we can get America to retreat.”

Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, called for the withdrawal of all American troops — including residual peacekeeping forces — from Iraq within one year.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Priorities and Prospects

Noam Chomsky

Excerpted from Hegemony or Survival, Metropolitan Books, 2003

A few years ago, one of the great figures of contemporary biology, Ernst Mayr, published some reflections on the likelihood for success in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Mayr took exception to the conclusions of astrophysicists who confidently expected to find higher intelligence throughout the universe. He considered the prospects of success very low. His reasoning had to do with the adaptive value of what we call “higher intelligence,” meaning the particular human form of intellectual organization. Mayr estimated the number of species since the origin of life at about 50 billion, only one of which “achieved the kind of intelligence needed to establish a civilization.” It did so very recently, perhaps a hundred thousand years ago. It is generally assumed that only one small breeding group survived, of which we are all descendants, apparently with very little genetic variation. What we call “civilizations” developed near the end of this brief moment of evolutionary time, and are “inevitably are short-lived.”

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Noam Chomsky On U.S. Policy Towards Iran

Source: Information Clearing House


Must watch - Video and Transcript

"Suppose it was true that Iran is helping insurgents in Iraq. I mean, wasn’t the United States helping insurgents when the Russians invaded Afghanistan? Did we think there was anything wrong with that? I mean, Iraq's a country that was invaded and is under military occupation. You can't have a serious discussion about whether someone else is interfering in it. The basic assumption underlying the discussion is that we own the world." Continue

US War Contracts Top $25 Billion: Study

US contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan more than doubled from 2004 to 2006 to over 25 billion dollars but government oversight of the firms involved has slackened, a watchdog group said Monday.

“While the billions of dollars involved and the complexity of these war-related contracts has only grown, the lack of oversight has been staggering,” said Bill Buzenberg, head of the Center for Public Integrity.

The study by the independent center said government outsourcing for the two war theaters was marred by issues such as a lack of competitive bidding, missing contracts and unidentified companies.

The construction and services company KBR, formally known as Kellogg, Brown and Root and a subsidiary of oil-services giant Halliburton until April, topped the list with more than 16 billion dollars in US contracts from 2004 to 2006.

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Uri Avnery: How to Get Out?



Thousands detained ahead of Sharif return to Pakistan

Reuters, November 25, 2007

By Simon Gardner

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistan police detained thousands of supporters of Nawaz Sharif to stop them greeting the former prime minister on his return from exile in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, according to party loyalists.

U.S. ally President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule on November 3 to safeguard his own presidency, but under pressure from Saudi King Abdullah reluctantly acquiesced to the return of Sharif, the leader he deposed in a bloodless coup eight years ago.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Neoconservative Agenda to Sacrifice the Fifth Fleet – The New Pearl Harbor

voltairenet.org

by Michael Salla |November 19, 2007

The U.S. plans for an attack on Iran envision to sacrifice the Fifth Fleet in order to justify a nuclear retaliation. This is not a hypothetical scenario, but a real option being discussed within the U.S. Joint Chief of Staff cabinet. According to our sources, admiral William Fallon made clear that if such an order was given, he would refuse to follow it and would hand in his resignation along with the entire Centcom headquarter’s. So far only the Navy and Army’s superior officers’ resistance has prevented the neoconservatives and the Air Force to launch the operations.

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The Myth of Middle East Peace

Uruknet.info

Deception as Truth

By William A. Cook |November 23, 2007

"A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel; for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the Lord their God." Jeremiah 2:21

This week the forces of good will assemble in the city of Ann, the Queen who presided over her colonies, an apt gesture as the Israeli colonialist state meets to consider the fate of its Palestine colony, the one carefully preserved behind its apartheid wall of infamy, to attempt once again the fraud perpetrated on the American people and the United Nations that Israel is sincere in wanting peace. The moguls that control our press and TV channels sing the praises of Ehud Olmert and the Israeli Knesset as custodians of peace seeking to bring justice to the war weary peoples of Palestine. Thus are sown the seeds of discord that will reap the whirlwind of bitter disappointment, followed by the weeping and gnashing of teeth by these perpetrators of deceit.

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A plan to attack Iran swiftly and from above

globeandmail.com

A bombing campaign has been in the works for months - a blistering air war that would last anywhere from one day to two weeks

PAUL KORING

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

WASHINGTON — Massive, devastating air strikes, a full dose of "shock and awe" with hundreds of bunker-busting bombs slicing through concrete at more than a dozen nuclear sites across Iran is no longer just the idle musing of military planners and uber-hawks.

Although air strikes don't seem imminent as the U.S.-Iranian drama unfolds, planning for a bombing campaign and preparing for the geopolitical blowback has preoccupied military and political councils for months.

No one is predicting a full-blown ground war with Iran. The likeliest scenario, a blistering air war that could last as little as one night or as long as two weeks, would be designed to avoid the quagmire of invasion and regime change that now characterizes Iraq. But skepticism remains about whether any amount of bombing can substantially delay Iran's entry into the nuclear-weapons club.

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U.S. tipped to Musharraf emergency rule

United Press International |Published: Nov. 23, 2007 at 12:01 PM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Pakistani and U.S. officials say the United States wasn't surprised when President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule in Pakistan, a report says.

Aides and advisers to Musharraf conducted a series of meetings with U.S. diplomats in the capital city of Islamabad just days before the general's Nov. 3 announcement, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

A U.S. official familiar with the discussions says they were part of "intensive efforts" to dissuade Musharraf from declaring emergency rule.

"There was never a green light," the U.S. official told The Journal.

However, one of Musharraf's closest advisers says U.S. criticism of the impending move was muted, leading some senior Pakistanis to interpret it as a sign they could proceed.

Friday Pakistan's new Supreme Court declared Musharraf's seizure of emergency powers was legal. It came just one day after the court ruled against another challenge to the general's re-election last month.

Hands Off Iran

The Nation |comment | posted November 21, 2007 (December 10, 2007 issue)

By Chris Hedges

I will not pay my income tax if we go to war with Iran. I realize this is a desperate and perhaps futile gesture. But an attack on Iran--which appears increasingly likely before the coming presidential election--will unleash a regional conflict of catastrophic proportions. This war, and especially Iranian retaliatory strikes on American targets, will be used to silence domestic dissent and abolish what is left of our civil liberties. It will solidify the slow-motion coup d'├ętat that has been under way since the 9/11 attacks. It could mean the death of the Republic.

Let us hope sanity prevails. But sanity is a rare commodity in a White House that has twisted Trotsky's concept of permanent revolution into a policy of permanent war with nefarious aims--to intimidate and destroy all those classified as foreign opponents, to create permanent instability and fear and to strip citizens of their constitutional rights.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Three Reasons Why America Will Never Leave Iraq

Source: BlackBallot Weekly

By C.B. Forde

While watching President Bush make a speech during his surprise visit to Iraq last week, I thought to myself, America will never leave Iraq. One of the many conspiracy theories about the war in Iraq is that the primary reason for the American invasion was to seize Iraq's oil reserves and keep America one step ahead of the Chinese in the global scramble to secure energy resources. So I decided to do some research and came up with three very concrete reasons why in spite of the noise the Democratic Party is trying to raise, the United States will not be leaving Iraq anytime soon:

1. Iraq's Vast Oil Wealth
2. The New U.S. Embassy/Fortress
3. The 'non-permanent' Military Bases currently being constructed

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Seizing Destiny for U.S. Capital

Socialist Viewpoint, Nov/Dec 2007, Vol. 7, No. 6

By Bonnie Weinstein

An article appeared in The New York Times on September 13, 2007, entitled “Compromise on Oil Law in Iraq Seems to Be Collapsing,” by James Glanz. This piece could have been a chapter in the book Seizing Destiny: How America Grew from Sea to Shining Sea,by Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Kluger. It’s a painstaking historical breakdown of the wheeling and dealing between the commanders of capital in England, France, Spain, even Mexico, and the commanders of U.S. financial and business interests in their pursuit of the acquisition of the land that now makes up the United States of America. By any means necessary—through war, occupation, slavery, and extermination of the indigenous peoples of America—U.S. commanders of capital got most of what they wanted. But it is still not enough of what they need—an unending supply of capital.

U.S. big business wheeling and dealing

The Times article by Glanz details the financial machinations going on in the Iraqi oil fields. The pivotal thorn in the U.S. occupying paw is the Iraqi Oil Law, which includes, according to Glanz, “Article 111 of the Iraqi Constitution...oil and natural resources are properties of Iraqi people....” It is worth a closer look at this article.

Complete article . . .

What Freedom? What Democracy?

Source: Axis of Logic

By Siv O'Neall


The idea that the United States is the freest and most democratic country on the planet has forever been force-fed into the minds of Americans. In fact, there are really no other countries in the world that can even closely approach the level of freedom and democracy enjoyed by the American people. Americans are unique.

The hidden truth

Where is the democracy in a country and in a world that is being run by transnational corporations? Where even the Congress is tied down by bonds of dependency to Corporate America, Republicans and Democrats alike. Where the rulers have not even been freely and honestly elected by the people? Where the ruling clique consists exclusively of men and women representing Big Money, business executives who have no understanding of what it is like to go sick and hungry? Who have no humility, no compassion, no understanding of how all the cogs in a machinery are important in the process of making the engine run. The voices of the poor have been silenced for so long that the power people have forgotten their sound.


Continued . . .

Palestine Protests Biased UN Reporting


by Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS - The Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations has lodged a formal protest against the continued “misrepresentation” of facts in recent U.N. reports on the Israeli-occupied territories.1121 01

“There has been a tendency in several reports to portray the prevailing situation (in the occupied territories) as more of a conflict between two equal sides — the Israeli and Palestinian — rather than actually one of occupation,” says Ambassador Riyad Mansour, in a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The “skewed” reporting, including “certain language usage that overlooks the existence of this occupation, is unacceptable,” he says, virtually accusing the U.N. Secretariat of trying to undermine the Palestinians by its misreporting.

Mansour’s letter to the secretary-general also says: “For sometime now, the delegation of Palestine has been troubled by misrepresentations in several U.N. reports in the recent period, including some issued by the secretary-general, that have had the effect of skewing the context of the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

He points out that Palestinian territories are under an “occupying power”, namely Israel, which is bound by clear obligations under international law, including humanitarian and human rights law.

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The Problem in Pakistan

Rootless Cosmopolitan

By Tony Karon

The rather silly media narrative in which Washington supposedly suddenly faces a dilemma between backing the decrepit dictatorship of General Musharraf, or the Jeanne D’Arc pretensions (Winnie Mandela may be a closer analogy) of the kleptocratic Benazir Bhutto, has mercifully been laid to rest. That narrative’s connection to reality has always been somewhat tenuous, and the visit last weekend of Deputy U.S. Secretary of State John Negroponte — the man you send when there’s fixing to be done among unsavory clients in the troubled provinces, as his track record in Central America reminds us — made clear that business will continue as usual in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, notwithstanding some ritual scolding of Musharraf for the limits he sets on civilian participation in government.

Continued . . .

How Will Pakistani Conflict Impact the World?

AlterNet

By Paul Staniland, MIT Center for International Studies. Posted November 23, 2007.

The conflicts on the Afghan border and within Musharraf's dictatorship could have a large rippling effect in neighboring countries and abroad.

South Asia has emerged as a strategically pivotal region, from the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan to the emergence of India as an economic and military power. The current political crisis in Pakistan -- with President Pervez Musharraf suspending the constitution and declaring an emergency on November 3 -- threatens core interests of South Asia's major political actors, including the United States.

There are two distinct conflicts within Pakistan's polity. The first is between rebels along the Afghan border and the Pakistani state, and the second is between pro-democracy forces and Musharraf's military dictatorship. The outcomes of both struggles will affect the rest of the region, with some implications potentially being felt globally. Who is affected by Pakistan's turmoil, and why?

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Impeachment is Back on the Table

McClellan's Dish

By DAVE LINDORFF | Counterpunch, November 22, 2007

The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White House briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

There was one problem. It was not true.

I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the Vice President, the President’s chief of staff, and the President himself.

–Excerpt from Scott McClellan’s forthcoming book “What Happened”
(Public Affairs Books, due out in April 2008)

With that one little statement, released on the Public Affairs Books website this week, all excuses for not impeaching President Bush and Vice President Cheney, not to mention indicting Cheney (who of course has no immunity from prosecution while in office), have evaporated.

Here is rock-solid evidence from a man who, as press secretary, was privy to the inner workings of the White House, of a vile conspiracy involving the two top men in the Bush/Cheney administration, as well as their top three staffpeople, to expose the identity of an important CIA undercover operative, Valerie Plame, and then, when caught, to obstruct a criminal investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, into that crime.

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Pakistan's problems start at the top

Musharraf's military rule has damaged his country's ability to fight Islamist insurgents.

By Pervez Hoodbhoy | Los Angeles Times, November 18, 2007
Gen. Pervez Musharraf seized power in Pakistan eight years ago, claiming that the army had to step in to save the country from corrupt and incompetent politicians. Since then, he has run both the army and the government himself, with the connivance of a rubber-stamp Parliament put in place through rigged elections. His rule has proved to be a dismal failure, creating more problems than those it set out to solve.

Earlier this month, with opposition to his regime growing and the courts about to rule that he could not legally be president, Musharraf chose to suspend the constitution and impose emergency rule. He dismissed the Supreme Court and arrested the judges, replacing them with judges who will bend to his will. He blocked all independent television channels and threatened to punish the news media if it disparaged him or the army. His police arrested thousands of lawyers and pro-democracy activists. He ordered that civilians be tried in closed military courts. This is what is necessary, he said, to save Pakistan from a rapidly growing Islamist insurgency.

But no one should believe him.

Keep reading . . .

Military gangster in Pakistan has his way

From Times online, November 22, 2007

Pakistan court rules in Musharraf's favour


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President Musharraf could step down as head of the military as soon as the end of this week

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Pakistan's Supreme Court today cleared the last legal hurdle for President Pervez Musharraf to be confirmed in office after winning fresh presidential elections last month.

The court – stuffed with judges sympathetic to General Musharraf – today took less than an hour to throw out the sixth and final legal challenge to the constitutionality of his standing for office while still in the military.

General Musharraf is now expected to doff his uniform and quit as head of the army within days, in order to continue the appearance of moving from military dictatorship to civilian democracy.

"The petition is dismissed," said chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar.

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'Fair elections not possible till Mush stays in power'

The Times of India, 22 Nov 2007

WASHINGTON: Warning that another rigged election would add "even more salt to Pakistan's open wounds", a prominent US expert has said political trends lines in the country are likely to grow worse the longer President Pervez Musharraf remains in any position of leadership.

"The longer Musharraf wears either of his two hats, the longer it will take for Pakistan to hold sufficiently credible elections upon which a semblance of political normalcy can resume," Michael Krepon, the Co-Founder of The Stimson Center, says.

In the article titled, "Pakistan With or Without Musharraf", he says the longer Musharraf stays, the greater the difficulties Washington can expect on all three fronts-- counter-terrorism, control of the country's nuclear assets, and in handling bilateral ties.

Krepon also argues that the corporate interests of the Pakistan Army with respect to the above three fronts "are unlikely to change appreciably if or when Musharraf goes".

Pakistan's domestic politics have become so abnormal that modest remedies now seem insufficient while near-term solutions, including the goal of free and fair national elections in January, appear improbable, he says.

Ex-Iraq Commander Says Bring Troops Home

SF Gate

By Anne Flaherty, Associated Press Writer
Wed, November 21, 2007

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top commander in Iraq shortly after the fall of Baghdad, said this week he supports Democratic legislation that calls for most troops to come home within a year.

His comments come as welcomed ammunition for the Democratic-controlled Congress in its standoff with the White House on war spending. This month, the House passed a $50 billion bill that would pay for combat operations but sets the goal that combat end by Dec. 15, 2008. The White House threatened to veto the measure, and Senate Republicans blocked it from passing.

Keep reading . . .

Planning for a Musharraf in civilian garb

If he steps down as Army chief, Musharraf may find himself newly vulnerable to a hostile civilian politics.

A newly appointed panel of Supreme Court judges, handpicked by President Pervez Musharraf, is scheduled to throw out the last of the legal challenges to his continued rule Thursday.

The rulings would clear the way for the general to quit the Army and take an oath as a civilian president of Pakistan – as he has publicly pledged he would – for another five-year term.

If he follows the script, President Musharraf will become the first military ruler in Pakistan to quit the Army to become a civilian leader – in itself a testament to the extraordinary challenges the ruler has faced of late.

But it is a move inherently laden with risk and uncertainty. There is no historic precedent to suggest how civil, political, and military forces will react to Musharraf's new placement in the power landscape.

"He thinks he has created a structure in the military and engineered his political party so that both will support him in the future," says Talat Masood, an independent analyst and retired Army general. But there is a "big question mark," he says, over how military and civilian politics will interact with each other, with a civilian Musharraf as a buffer between the two.

Keep reading . . .