Friday, October 15, 2004

Fallujah Actions

Fallujah Actions
Subject: Fallujah actions 1) Phone Blockade 3 November 2) Petition 3) Letter-writing 4) Contingency Plans
Dear all Fallujah and over a dozen other Iraqi towns are under threat of major assault by US forces. JNV supports those organising activities to try to prevent these assaults. No US attack is inevitable. Public protests inside and outside Iraq have the power to derail these attacks, or at the very least to minimise the damage done, and to help prevent further such atrocities. Britain is complicit in these attacks, directly, by redeploying British troops to the centre of Iraq to free up US forces to take part in the planned assaults. Here are some ideas for pro-active action, and some London contingency plans if the major attacks do take place. (More info on our website ) Best wishes Maya Evans Milan Rai JNV
**************** 1) Phone Blockade of the MOD & Email Geoff Hoon Wednesday 3 November Phone the MOD between 9am - 5pm on the day after the US elections. Please ask to speak to Geoff Hoon, to tell him to oppose the planned assaults on Fallujah and other cities, and to demand that he withdraw the Black Watch from their supportive role in Central Iraq. MOD Public Enquiry Office: 0870 607 4455 MOD Press Office: 020 7218 2906 You may also wish to try this email address for Geoff Hoon's PA:
**************** 2) Stop The Attacks - Petition At a meeting called by Voices UK, there was a call for a petition to be drawn up and circulated immediately for use this weekend. A pdf is attached of two versions of the petition, one concentrating on the immediate crisis, the other including the demand for troops to be withdrawn. Next is the text of the narrow focus petition: BASIC PETITION TEXT To Our Local MP Please tell Geoff Hoon: Don’t let British Troops support Bush’s massacres in Iraq’s cities. The senseless slaughter of civilians is making a desperate situation even worse. Don’t Attack Fallujahâ€"Recall The Black Watch TOP TIPS For Using This Petition This petition is designed to be used the weekend of 30/31 October. Using pretty much this text, Wrexham Peace & Justice Forum collected 450 signatures in 2 hours recently. 1) One reason for their success is that they had a huge poster version of the text behind them so that people knew what they were signing. People were queueing to sign. So JNV has included in the pdf full A4 size versions of the text, for you to enlarge to A3 or larger size (some photocopy shops can enlarge to A1). 2) Please do let the local radio and newspapers know about your petitioning, and take your own photos to send to the paper if they do not send a photographer themselves. Whatever the response of your local MP when you present the petition, that is worth press releasing also. 3) Please let us know the results of your petitioning. If you have any suggestions for improving the petition or how to present it on the street/at work, please let us know. This petition initiative came out of an emergency meeting called by Voices in the Wilderness UK. There may be further editions of this petition in future weeks. Please check out the JNV website and the Voices UK website for more campaigning information.
**************** 3) Letter-writing Write to your MP This is something that anyone and everyone can do. If you ask your MP to ask Geoff Hoon to recall the Black Watch from central Iraq, and to withdraw all British support for the planned US assaults, then she/he will pass on your concerns to the Defence Secretary, and you get two (small) impacts from one letter. A veteran letter-writer informs us that when/if you receive a response, it is well worth writing back, as it is this reply of yours that has most impact. You can (a) find out who your MP is and (b) fax your MP from the following website: Some possible points for a letter: 1) Human Cost Please remind the Defence Secretary of the horrors of the earlier (April 2004) siege of Fallujah - horrors which the British Government refused to condemn, ‘insist[ing] that there were “no disagreements” with the US about its tactics on the ground’ (Independent, 14 April). On 11 April the director of Fallujah’s general hospital, Rafie al-Issawi, estimated â€" on the basis of figures gathered from four clinics around the city as well as the hospital itself - that more than 600 people had been killed and that ‘the vast majority of the dead were women, children and the elderly’ (Guardian, 12 April). Ask whether the British government has sought assurances that US tactics and rules of engagement have been changed to prevent such carnage in any future engagement. 2) Redeployment Please ask the Defence Secretary why British troops are being redeployed with the ‘aim of … free[ing] US forces to attack Fallujah’ (Telegraph, 18 Oct) again â€" this time causing possibly even greater carnage. 3) Condemnation and Withdrawal I urge you to condemn the redeployment and to support calls for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq. I would be grateful if you would ask the Defence Secretary to withdraw British troops from central Iraq, and ask also whether contingency plans have been prepared for the withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq in the event that the January elections produce a government in Baghdad which calls for the removal of foreign forces. Voices UK has drawn up more points for writing to your MP, available at
**************** 4) Contingency Plans There are now plans for a London demo, and for London nonviolent direct action, on the night of any major attack. Please see www.j-n- for more details. If your local group draws up any similar contingency plans, please register them with Stop The War and with JNV. -- Justice Not Vengeance landline 0845 458 9571 (UK) +44 1424 428 792 (int)

American security and Iraqi stability

American security and Iraqi stability depend on a prompt handover.
by William R. Polk
From childhood, we Americans are deluged with slogans. We often select our breakfast food, our soap, and our toothpaste by jingles and catchphrases rather than by reading the labels. So we fall easily into accepting evocative expressions in place of analysis even when it comes to national security. Our parents were sold on the slogan that the First World War was the “war to end all wars,” although the 20th century had more of them than any other in history. We went into Vietnam fearing the “domino effect,” although the struggle there had little relationship to events in any other Asian country. We were rushed into the war in Iraq by the assertion that little, poor, remote Iraq was at the point of attacking mighty America, and now we are bogged down there allegedly by a ragtag faction of Ba’athist diehards.
Seldom do we hear hard-headed analysis of what is happening, what is possible, what the alternatives are, how much each will cost in lives, treasure, prestige, and security. When I was the member of the U.S. State Department’s Policy Planning Council responsible for the Middle East, I had the duty to try to understand the reality in the problems we then faced, to comprehend the forces at work, and to identify what could be done. Now as a private citizen, I ask: what is the reality of Iraq, what do we face there, and what can we do?
Leaving aside Kurdistan, where roughly a quarter of all Iraqis live, Iraq is a shattered country. Its infrastructure has been pulverized by the “shock and awe” of the American invasion. Few Iraqis today even have clean drinking water or can dispose of their waste. About 7 in 10 adult Iraqis are without employment. Factories are idle, and small shopkeepers have been squeezed out of business. Movement even within cities is difficult and dangerous. And the trend in each of these categories is downward. Iraq’s society has been torn apart, and perhaps as many as 100,000 Iraqis have died. Virtually every Iraqi has a parent, child, spouse, cousin, friend, colleague, or neighbor—or perhaps all of these—among the dead. More than half of the dead were women and children. Putting Iraq’s casualties in comparative American terms would equate to about one million American deaths. Dreadful hatreds have been generated.
Not all hatreds are on the Iraqi side. American soldiers, often not knowing why they are in Iraq but only that they are getting shot at in 50 to 100 attacks each day, are fearful. Against an indistinguishable enemy, who fades into the general population, their fear turns into general hatred. To GIs, the natives are “ragheads,” just as in Vietnam they were “gooks.” And they may be suicide bombers. Hatred of the enemy appeared in a film made by NBC News inside a mosque in Fallujah showing a Marine shooting a wounded Iraqi. It also appeared in the photographs of the torture of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. Those scenes, in turn, helped to cement the image of the uniformed, indistinguishable foreign troops as the common enemy, whom the Iraqis are beginning to call the “crusaders.”
Such graphic demonstrations of hatred and contempt also, of course, echo far beyond Iraq among the more than one billion Muslims throughout the world. They have tended to corrupt the greatest of America’s national treasures, the nearly universal respect of mankind. As one former senior Army officer Andrew Bacevich said, “My sense is that such an impression has already taken hold in the Arab world.” He is certainly right.
Thus, even when, as in the Fallujah battle, the insurgents were outnumbered at least 20:1, and it was obvious that they could not win against a phalanx of helicopters, gunships, fighter-bombers, tanks, and artillery, they fought to become martyrs for their cause and thus to inspire others to take up their mission. They lost the battle of Fallujah as they will lose every battle. But they have not lost the war. This is the reality with which America must deal.
* * *
Guerrilla warfare is not new. In fact, it is probably the oldest form of warfare. But in recent centuries, so much attention was given to formal warfare that most soldiers forgot about informal war. Although few guerrilla leaders have given us accounts of how they organized, got their supplies, fought, retreated, regrouped, and fought again, history provides a rich lode of information. We can study experiences dating from the 20th-century conflicts in Europe, Asia, and Africa, including the Irish struggle against the British, Tito’s and the Greek ELAS’s struggles against the Germans in the Balkans, Mao Zedong’s war against the Japanese and then against the forces of Chang Kai-shek in China, the Viet Minh’s defeat of the French in Indo-China, the Algerian war of national liberation against the French, the Chechens’ centuries-long war against the Russians and, of course, our Vietnam and Russia’s Afghanistan.
The story they tell was well summarized by Mao Zedong when he described the guerrilla as a fish that must swim in the sea of the people. Absent popular support, Mao’s sea, the guerrilla is at best an outlaw and, more likely and sooner, a corpse. But with the support of the people, he is elusive, nourished, and ultimately replaceable. Consequently, almost no matter what forces are brought against him, he—or at least his cause—has proven indefatigable. If we are ignorant of this history, we are doomed to repeat it.
Generation after generation of soldiers and strategists have done just that— repeated it. Often ignorant of history and of the reflections of their predecessors, they attempted to find techniques to defeat the guerrillas. The ultimate way was by killing them. Caesar’s conquest of Gaul was essentially a war of extermination as was the British war against the Irish and the Tsarist and Communist Russians’ war on the Chechens. Even genocide rarely succeeded because new generations arose to replace the dead.
If not all could be killed, at least their lands and other resources could be taken away from them and given to alien settlers. This was the gist of colonialism as practiced by the French in Algeria and the Russians in Central Asia. Since we regard neither genocide nor colonialism as politically correct today, experiments have been made with various other tactics. In Vietnam, America tried a variety of them, as did the Soviet Union in Afghanistan without ultimate success. Today, in Iraq and in occupied Palestine, Americans and Israelis are repeating these campaigns, focusing primarily on the application of overwhelming military power designed to dishearten the insurgents. In 40 years, the Israelis have not achieved security; the chances that the Americans will in five years appear unlikely.
Why is this so? The answer is essentially simple: people of all religions and races share a common desire to control their own lives. Our Declaration of Independence puts it eloquently for us, and President Woodrow Wilson summed it up neatly for others when he spoke of the quest for “the self-determination of peoples.” Thwarted in this quest, some people—whom, if we approve of them, we call “freedom fighters” or, if not, “fanatics” or “terrorists”—take up arms, as Americans did in our revolution. They are usually few in number, perhaps 15,000 or so in Iraq today and roughly the same in Algeria in the 1950s, but many more people who do not themselves actually fight support them.
Knowing that they cannot defeat the foreign enemy, they seek not so much to win battles but to wear him down, to inflict upon him what he will regard as unacceptable casualties and other costs, and to erode his political support. Thus, almost inevitably, the techniques of guerrilla warfare fade into terrorism.
We have mistakenly acted as though terrorism was a thing or a group against which one can fight. But terrorism is merely a tactic that can be used by anyone. Ancient Britons used it against the Romans, the Zionists against the British, the Algerians against the French, the French against the Nazis, the Chechens against the Russians, the Basques against the Spaniards, and so on. It is the traditional “weapon of the weak,” who resort to it when all else fails.
At the beginning of the struggle against Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration charged that Iraq was a terrorist state acting in close collaboration with Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda. In the emotional reaction to the attacks in New York and Washington, sloganeering drowned out intelligence. Saddam Hussein’s regime was certainly evil, but Iraq was not a terrorist state. It had no significant relationship with any terrorist organization as the American, British, and Israeli intelligence agencies knew. In fact, Osama bin Laden, a religious fundamentalist, had offered to raise a military force to fight Saddam’s secular government and denounced Saddam with the strongest condemnation a Muslim can utter, that he was a kafir, a godless person. Despite the findings of official American investigations, however, the rallying cries stick in our minds. Seven in 10 Americans still believe Saddam Hussein was working with Osama bin Laden in the September 11, 2001 attacks.
While that is wrong, Iraq has changed under American blows so that it is now a prime recruiting ground and justification for terrorism. As the commander of the 1st Marine Division, Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, put it just before the attack on Fallujah, “After we take Fallujah, the terrorists will have no sanctuary, nowhere to hide.” I remember similar words about the Vietcong. And within a day after the general said this, fighting broke out in a dozen Iraqi cities. The Russians could have told General Natonski that a decade after they did to the Chechen city of Grozny what his troops did to Fallujah, fighting continued. That is what we are now seeing in Iraq. This is the reality with which we must begin. So what can America do?
* * *
Today, there are no good options—only better or worse alternatives. Three appear possible:
The first option has been called “staying the course.” In practice, that means continued fighting. France “stayed the course” in Algeria in the 1950s as America did in Vietnam in the 1960s and as the Israelis are now doing in occupied Palestine. It has never worked anywhere. In Algeria, the French employed over three times as many troops—nearly half a million—to fight roughly the same number of insurgents as America is now fighting in Iraq. They lost. America had half a million soldiers in Vietnam and gave up. After four decades of warfare against the Palestinians, the Israelis have achieved neither peace nor security.
Wars of national “self-determination” can last for generations or even centuries. Britain tried to beat down (or even exterminate) the Irish for nearly 900 years, from shortly after the 11th-century Norman invasion until 1921; the French fought the Algerians from 1831 until 1962; Imperial and Communist Russia fought the Chechens since about 1731. Putin’s Russia is still at it. There was no light at the end of those tunnels.
At best, staying the course in Iraq can be only a temporary measure as eventually America will have to leave. But during the period in which it stays, say the next five years, my guess is that another 30,000 to 40,000 Iraqis will die or be killed while the U.S. armed forces will lose at least another 1,000 dead and 20,000 seriously wounded. The monetary cost will be hundreds of billions of dollars.
It is not only the casualties or treasure that count. What wars of “national liberation” demonstrate is that they also brutalize the participants who survive. Inevitably such wars are vicious. Both sides commit atrocities. In their campaigns to drive away those they regard as their oppressors, terrorists/freedom fighters seek to make their opponents conclude that staying is unacceptably expensive and, since they do not have the means to fight conventional wars, they often pick targets that will produce dramatic and painful results. Irish, Jews, Vietnamese, Tamils, Chechens, Basques, and others blew up hotels, cinemas, bus stations, and apartment houses, killing many innocent bystanders. The more spectacular, the bloodier, the better for their campaigns. So the Irgun blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, the IRA a Brighton hotel in 1984, an Iraqi group the UN headquarters in Baghdad in 2003. Chechens blew up an apartment house in Moscow in 2003, while a Palestinian group blew up an Israeli-frequented hotel in Taba, Egypt in 2004.
Faced with such challenges, the occupying power often reacts with massive attacks aimed at terrorists but inevitably kills many civilians. To get information from those it manages to capture, it also frequently engages in torture. Torture did not begin at the Abu Ghraib prison; it is endemic in guerrilla warfare. Two phrases from the Franco-Algerian war of the 1950s-60s tell it all: “torture is to guerrilla war what the machine gun was to trench warfare in the First World War” and “torture is the cancer of democracy.” Guerrilla warfare and counterinsurgency inexorably corrupt the very causes for which soldiers and insurgents fight. Almost worse, even in exhausted “defeat” for the one and heady “victory” for the other, they leave behind a chaos that spawns warlords, gangsters, and thugs as is today so evident in Chechnya and Afghanistan.
The longer the fighting goes on, the worse the chaos. Viewing the devastation of Fallujah, one correspondent wrote, “Even the dogs have started to die, their corpses strewn among twisted metal and shattered concrete in a city that looks like it forgot to breathe … The city smelled like dust, ash—and death.” Viewing the same scene, the deputy commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force said, “This is what we do … This is what we do well.” This is not new or unique; it is classic. Recall the statement the Roman historian Tacitus attributed to the contemporary guerrilla leader of the Britons. The Romans, he said, “create a desolation and call it peace.”
The second option is “Vietnamization.” In Vietnam, America inherited from the French both a government and a large army. What was needed, the Nixon administration proclaimed, was to train the army, equip it, and then turn the war over to it. True, the army did not fight well nor did the government rule well, but they existed. In Iraq, America inherited neither a government nor an army. It is trying to create both. Not surprisingly, the results are disappointing. Most Iraqis regard the American-selected and American-created government as merely an American puppet. And the idea that America can fashion a local militia to accomplish what its powerful army cannot do is not policy but fantasy. An Iraqi army is unlikely to fight insurgents with whom soldiers sympathize and among whom they have relatives. Many have reportedly thrown off their new uniforms and joined the insurgents.
Much has been made also of the constitution we wrote for the Iraqis. It reads well, as did the one the British wrote for the Iraqis 80 years ago in 1924, but it is not anchored in the realities of Iraqi society. Absent the institutions that give life to a constitution, it will be simply a piece of paper as was the one the British provided. Representative government grows in the soil of the people or it does not grow at all. It cannot be mandated by foreign rulers.
Thus, the best America might gain from this option is a fig leaf to hide defeat; the worst, in a rapid collapse, would be humiliating evacuation, as in Vietnam.
The third option is to choose to get out rather than being forced. Time is a wasting asset; the longer the choice is put off, the harder it will be to make. The steps required to implement this policy need not be dramatic, but the process needs to be unambiguous. The initial steps could be merely verbal: America would have to declare unequivocally that it will give up its lock on the Iraqi economy, will cease to spend Iraqi revenues as it chooses, and will allow Iraqi oil production to be governed by market forces rather than by an American monopoly.
The second step, more difficult, is to make a truce and pull back its forces. If President Bush could be as courageous as Gen. Charles de Gaulle was in Algeria when he called for a “peace of the brave,” fighting would quickly die down. This is not wishful thinking; it is what happened time after time in guerrilla wars.
Then, and only then, could Iraqis themselves set about creating a national consensus. It would probably not come through elections, although they might legitimize the process. We would probably not like the government that emerged, but we are already beyond being able to control that choice. What we should help and encourage is the essentially indigenous process of building civil institutions. Only as they emerge will some form of reasonably peaceful, reasonably free, reasonably decent government have a chance. This is the most sensitive and difficult part of the whole affair. It cannot be rushed, and we cannot do it for the Iraqis.
The danger during this period is twofold: on the one hand, Iraq, like Afghanistan, could shatter with local warlords seizing the pieces, or Iraq could split into a sort of eastern Balkans with Kurdish, Sunni Arab, and Shia Arab successor states. The one would certainly create mafia-style terrorism, while the other would promote mayhem as thousands of suddenly created refugees flee from now alien states. Further regional instability would be created, and possibly either Turkey or Iran or both would intervene, Turkey to suppress the Kurds and Iran to protect the Shi’ites. The results are unforeseeable but certainly ruinous.
On the other hand, in an attempt to avoid this disaster, we and our Iraqi protégés could, as we are now attempting, create a new Iraqi army. We should heed the lesson of Iraqi history. In the past, the British-created army destroyed moves toward civil society and probably would do so again, paving the way for the ghost of Saddam Hussein. In the period during and following American evacuation, Iraq would need a police force but not an army. A UN multinational peacekeeping force would be easier, cheaper, and safer. The balance between “security” and cohesion would be difficult to achieve and maintain, and we could be of only minimal help, but either extreme would be worse.
Meanwhile, a variety of service functions would have to be organized. Given a chance, Iraq could do them mostly by itself. With its vast potential in oil production, probably the greatest in the world, it could soon again become a rich country with a talented, well-educated population. Step by step, health care, clean water, sewage, roads, bridges, pipelines, electric grids, and housing could be provided by the Iraqis themselves, as they were in the past. When I visited Baghdad in February 2003, on the eve of the invasion, the Iraqis with whom I talked were proud that they had rebuilt what had been destroyed in the 1991 war. They can surely do so again. More important, in carrying out the rebuilding and reordering process, particularly at the grassroots level, Iraqis would begin to take control of their lives and start building the neighborhood institutions and consensus on which, if it is to grow at all, representative government will depend.
Economically, Iraq will also have to mend itself. Here the American role is primarily negative. We have imposed policies during our occupation that worked against the recovery of Iraqi industry and commerce. Abrogating these would spur development since any reasonably intelligent and self-interested government would emphasize getting Iraqi enterprises back into operation and employing Iraqi workers. That process could be speeded up through international loans, commercial agreements, and protective measures so that unemployment, now at socially catastrophic levels, would be diminished. Neighborhood participation in running social affairs and providing security are old traditions in Iraqi society and allowing or favoring their reinvigoration would promote the excellent side effect of grassroots political representation.
As fighting dies down, reasonable security is achieved, and popular institutions revive, the one million Iraqis now living abroad will be encouraged to return home. In the aggregate they are intelligent, highly trained, and well motivated and can make major contributions in all phases of Iraqi life. Oil production will play a key role. The income it generates can make possible great public works projects that will help to lure back Iraqi émigrés, employ Iraqi workers, encourage local entrepreneurs, and salvage the class of merchants and shopkeepers who traditionally provided security in Oriental cities. In its own best interest, the Iraqi government would empower the Iraq National Oil Company (INOC) to award concessions by bid to a variety of international companies to sell oil on the world market. This is obviously to the best interests not only of Iraq but also of the Western world.
Contracts for reconstruction paid for by Iraqi money would be awarded under bidding, as they traditionally were, but to prevent excessive corruption would perhaps initially be supervised by the World Bank. The World Bank would, of course, follow its regular procedures on its loans. Where other countries supplied aid, they would probably insist on (and could be given) preferential treatment in the award of contracts as is common practice everywhere.
In such a program, inevitably, there will be setbacks and shortfalls, but they can be partly filled by international organizations. The steps will not be easy; Iraqis will disagree over timing, personnel, and rewards, while giving the process a chance will require a rare degree of American political courage. But, and this is the crucial matter, any other course of action would be far worse for both America and Iraq. The safety and health of American society as well as Iraqi society requires that this policy be implemented intelligently, determinedly—and soon.

A former member of the U.S. State Department’s Policy Planning Council, William R. Polk was responsible for the Middle East. He has been a professor of history at the University of Chicago and Founding Director of its Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He is now senior director of the W.P. Carey Foundation.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Refugee's in Lebanon

Refugee's in Lebanon
Living conditions for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon 'worse than Occupied Territories'
By Nayla Assaf Daily Star staff
October 14,2004

Intervtew BEIRUT: Living conditions in Palestinian refugee camps here are even worse than that of camps inside the Occupied Territories, said Palestinian Authority Labor Minister Ghassan Khatib, upon a visit to Beirut on Wednesday.
In an interview with The Daily Star on the sidelines of the three-day Arab International Forum on Rehabilitation and Development in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Khatib said that the situation for Palestinians in Lebanon is, in many ways, the worst he's ever seen. "I was stunned by the refugee camps in Lebanon," he said. "Even in camps in Gaza and Nablus in the Occupied Territories, the situation is better than that of the camps in Lebanon." During his visit to Beirut this week, Khatib, with a delegation of Palestinian officials, visited President Emile Lahoud to plead for "easing the living and working conditions for Palestinians here." Most of the estimated 400,000 Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon are scattered in refugee camps throughout the country. In order to preserve the delicate religious balance of Lebanese society and to assert the right of return, Palestinians are not allowed basic civic rights; they are barred from erecting permanent constructions and from performing several professions. Khatib, a journalist, university lecturer and long-time advocate of Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, was among the fresh faces to be introduced to the current reformative Palestinian Cabinet formed in June 2002. He spoke of the Palestinian refugees here, of his distrust of the Israeli government led by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud party and allegations of corruption within the Palestinian Authority (PA). "Upon visiting the camps, I was also struck by the high morale of the Palestinians here. Despite their irregular and harsh situation, they still identify to the same goals and same political agenda as we do," he said. "The PA did not give up on the Palestinian refugees" in Lebanon as some imply. "It is an issue of utmost importance to us, and the PA's insistence on finding a solution to the refugee problem was the main reason behind the failure of the Camp David peace talks," he said. "We are 100 percent sure that their right to return will be met. There is no doubt about that, regardless of how much time it might take," he said. Khatib described Tuesday's symbolic vote in the Knesset against Sharon's disengagement plan, as an indication that "the government, in its current makeup, does not intend to perform any withdrawals or provide any concessions." A further indication of that, according to the labor minister, are recent comments by Sharon's aid, Dov Weisglass "that the real purpose of the disengagement plan is to divert the attention of the international community while they are burying the 'road map.'" "The Israeli government should be judged upon its actions and not upon its pledges," Khatib added. As long as the current government is in place, he said, there is no room for dialogue or for reaching an understanding. "But I believe that the Israeli society is bound to realize that this government will not bring about a solution; that violence is not the answer and that dialogue is needed." In matters of reform - another issue often criticized by the media - Khatib said the reform program which started two years ago is alive and doing well. "I entered this government in June 2002 on the basis that it would hold a reformative program, and a huge amount of reforms have been completed since then, especially in the financial sector," which saw the centralization of all public funds under the wing of the Finance Ministry, he said. According to Khatib, the World Bank, in its most recent report, has announced that the level of transparency in the PA's administration of public funds is among the best in the region. "We have achieved a great, great deal in financial reforms and in other areas as well," he said, acknowledging, however, that "manyh more reforms remain to be made," especially regarding the judiciary and security services. However, he added that the PA's reformative measures, and measures to combat corruption, are not being judged fairly in Arab media. "I have never seen any Arab journalist criticize corruption and the lack of reform in any other Arab country - with the exception of Lebanon. This gives the impression that the PA is the worst in matters of corruption - which is absolutely wrong," he said. "I would frankly like to see journalists become more objective in the matter." Khatib believes that Arab states can do more to further the Palestinian cause. "On the political level, we hope to see more support. Following the last Israeli onslaught, we did not see any official Arab mobilization," he said. "We call on Arab states to do more; to take advantage of their strategic weight, in order to give Israel the impression that it cannot continue taking advantage of the Palestinian people's isolation," he said. Khatib, who is also the acting planning minister, says that in many cases, planning in the Palestinian territories consists of taking emergency measures because of the incessant Israeli assaults on the Occupied Territories. "We have acquired experience in dealing with emergencies," he said. He explained that in the face of Israel's recent onslaught of Gaza - now in its 14th day - the PA, for example, was able to take matters in hand by forming an emergency committee and giving it full support. "But for any long-term or large-scale projects, we rely very heavily on outside aid," he added.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Corruption with the PA

Khaled Al Haroub Al-Hayat 2004/10/12
Could the occupation be defeated in light of the corruption within the current Palestinian Leadership? Of course not. It is often said that the occupation is the reason behind the corruption of the Palestinian army, the Palestinian leadership and the entire Palestinian situation; had it not been for the occupation, there would have been no corruption. The Palestinian situation before the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority (PA) was much better than the current situation.
Today, corruption is obliterating every aspect of hope in the Palestinian dream. Corruption within the Palestinian authority varies from the embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars, to the involvement in killing witnesses, sexual rape, drug dealing, and protecting traitors. Hundreds of people are accused of stealing the Palestinian money, and many Palestinians are accused of nepotism; the Egyptian cement file is enough to topple ten governments. How could Palestinian officials maintain their positions after their hands were besmirched in supplying cement for the construction of the Israeli racist wall? All this happened, and is still happening, with the complete knowledge of the Palestinian leadership. Nevertheless, the advent allegation is always the responsibility of the Israeli occupation for the corruption within the PA. This is a total manipulation of national and political standards in order to blame all those who want to reformulate a national agenda. We are seeing today the President of the PA himself defending the corrupt, those who control the political, economic and social destiny of the Palestinians; yet, these people claim to be representing the Palestinian people. The President of the PA refuses to pass any law that would hold these corrupt people accountable in front of the law. He says that opening the corruption file is a conspiracy that aims at shifting attention from the main cause, which is the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Wrong timing for opening this or that file is the same vindication that made the Arabs pay the price for remaining silent in the face of their regimes, as timing was never appropriate for an uprising. On the contrary, now is the time to open the Palestinian files of corruption. These files destroyed and have been destroying every Palestinian achievement in the course of the Palestinian - Israeli conflict. We would be deceiving ourselves if we shift our attention towards Israel, and claim that we should not preoccupy ourselves with marginal issues. When corruption become carcinogenic, we can no longer achieve any operational progress, because the body is weary and cannot move; either cancer is removed, or the body dies. Corruption within the PA has reached a stage where we can no longer remain silent. What is the use of the legislative council if this council cannot reveal the corruption files to the Palestinian people? There are many accusations of corruption; the easy movement of traitors means that the Israeli security apparatuses got their accurate and precise information from inside the PA. Nonetheless, Israel is not the one to be blamed because it is the apparent enemy and such a conduct is expected from the enemy. However, it was not expected that the Palestinian legislative council and the PA would disregard this aberrant corruption. It is not possible for a national program to achieve any considerable success in light of this anomalous corruption that is consuming the Palestinian veracity. Any justification for this corruption is unacceptable. This corruption within the PA has blemished the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian dream. Priority now is to clean the Palestinian house. It is required to recuperate the framework of the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian body, for we can not fight the enemy without a strong and healthy body.