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MER - Washington - MiddleEast.Org - 6 January 2006: Reports are now this morning that Ariel Sharon has either died or is brain dead. As we have said repeatedly, and Sharon's death only underscores at this point, the year just begun seems destined to be one of escalating turmoil, bloodshed, and geostrategic changes that will affect the entire world for many years to come. The U.S. and Israel have severely destablized Syria; the Baath Regime they have targeted there is wobbling 'on the ropes'. Iraq is exploding worse than ever. Preparations to attack Iran unless the regime there can somehow either be brought down or forced to comply are advancing with considerable behind-the-scenes efforts to use bases and capabilities in surrounding countries including Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi, UAE, Oman. Taking down Iran and Syria, and greatly maybe fatally weakening Hezbollah (Lebanon) and Hamas (Palestine), have been major U.S. and Israeli goals all along. And in occupied Palestine the client-regime known as the 'Palestinian Authority' may also be on its last legs after so many years of corruption and co-optation. This interesting report from a news service associated with the Washington Times. The likelihood remains, as we have been reporting for some time now, that even with his power and authority so undermined, Abbas and the VIP Palestinians who surround him, especially the U.S.-CIA-connected Deputy Prime Minister Nabil Shaath, will find the excuses and take the risks of cancelling the fast-approaching election rather than what may be even greater risks of letting it go forward.

Abbas has become 'total non-entity' as Palestinian Authority comes unglued

Abbas's orders to the security forces are routinely ignored. Even his threats to resign do not cause a ripple.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has lost his power.

Abbas's orders to the security forces are routinely ignored. His policy directives fail to echo through the PA bureaucracy. Even his threats to resign do not cause a ripple.

Currently, Abbas is under severe pressure to cancel Palestinian Legislative Council elections, scheduled for Jan. 25. Sources close to Abbas said the chairman has already reached such a decision, but is waiting for an opportune time to announce it, intending to blame Israel for the cancellation.

So far, the Palestinian Central Election Commission has failed to register most Palestinian voters. Foreign monitors have quietly told the PA they will not enter the Gaza Strip, which has been plagued by a rash of abductions, mostly of Westerners.

"It is time to impose the authority of law and order," Abbas said in a New Year message broadcast on Palestinian television. "These events harm our international credibility and strengthen Israel's pretext to undermine peace and stop withdrawals."

The decline of Abbas into obscurity has been rapid. Two weeks ago, Abbas entered the waiting room of his dentist in Ramallah. While the room was full of people, no one looked up or in any way acknowledged the man trumpeted as the president of the Palestinian people.

"It's as if he's a total non-entity," said a Palestinian source who confirmed the story. "No one takes him seriously."

Despite numerous pledges, Abbas has done nothing to impose law and order. Loay Abu Haykel/Reuters
Despite numerous pledges, Abbas has done nothing to impose law and order. PA security forces have failed to take any action against groups aligned with the ruling Fatah movement. The forces have refused to crack down on the Islamic opposition as Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunners maintain missile strikes on Israel. In many cases, PA security officers help Hamas and Jihad in attacks against Israel and Palestinians.

Fatah is responsible for most of the internecine violence. Fatah gunmen have abducted scores of Westerners, demanding jobs and money from the PA. In virtually every case, Abbas has acceded, eroding morale among those officers who still take their job seriously.

Last week, Fatah gunmen abducted a British national and her parents in the Gaza Strip and then released them two later. Kate Burton, international coordinator for the pro-Palestinian organization Al Mezan, was held incommunicado while negotiations took place with the gunmen.

Palestinian sources said Abbas might use the abduction to announce the cancellation of elections. They said he has discussed the issue with Egypt as well as with Hamas.

Hamas has not ruled out postponing the elections, the sources said. But the Islamic movement has demanded key ministries in any new cabinet. This would include the Interior Ministry, responsible for Palestinian security. So far, Abbas has not ruled this out.

"Fatah has turned desperate," a source said. "They know that in any election they would lose badly. They are ready to make all sorts of deals to stop the election."

As a result, the Gaza Strip has descended into chaos. PA security forces have splintered into factions, with each ready to attack government offices and installations to press for their demands of money and power.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, on Jan. 5. Loay Abu Haykel/Reuters
Last week, about 100 PA officers stormed the Rafah border terminal along the Egyptian border in a move that prompted the flight of about 70 European Union monitors. The officers took over the terminal to stop a rival Fatah faction from fleeing Gaza to Egypt. Earlier, the Fatah faction attacked a police station in Gaza City and an officer was killed.

Throughout the crisis, Abbas was helpless. Palestinian sources said he maintained contact with Egypt, which has been his leading ally and responsible for Palestinian security forces in the Gaza Strip. Egypt reportedly advised Abbas not to intervene.

The PA has failed to get tough with terrorists. But PA security officers have been brutal against Palestinian dissidents, including peaceful protesters.

Abbas has also tolerated human rights abuses by PA security forces. On Dec. 26, PA officers shot and wounded four farm laborers who protested against conditions in the southern Gaza Strip. The laborers were employed at greenhouses in the former Jewish settlement of Netzer Hazani in a $33 million project financed by the international community.

The laborers had cut off water supplies to the greenhouses to protest a PA plan to reduce by 50 percent the number of working days. The workers received 60 shekels, or $12.50, a day.

But Abbas's problems are only beginning. Starting this week, Abbas faces a direct challenge from Palestinian terrorist groups. All 11 groups, including Fatah and Hamas, said they would no longer be bound by a so-called "lull" in violence declared in February 2005.

"We insist on our right to respond to any Israeli violation of the calm," Islamic Jihad leader Khaled Jaradat said.

This time, Palestinian terrorist groups promise a much more vigorous fight against Israel. The military wing of Islamic Jihad reported an attempt to manufacture anti-aircraft missiles. A Jihad spokesman said the missiles were designed to strike Israeli fixed-wing and helicopters in the Gaza Strip.

Fatah has also been preparing for a major onslaught. Mohammed Abdul Aal, spokesman for the Fatah-sponsored Popular Resistance Committee, said his group has obtained maps of Israel army bases north of the Gaza Strip.

Abdul Aal said the PRC's military wing, Nasser Salah Eddin Brigades, planned to carry out attacks deep inside Israel.

The PRC said its missiles have been upgraded and now have a range of 15 kilometers. Abdul Aal said the first missiles had a range of only 3 kilometers.

The United States is alarmed by the complete breakdown in the PA, particularly in the Gaza Strip. But the Bush administration has kept its cool and maintains unlimited support for Abbas in an effort to help him survive PLC elections.

At one point, the State Department offered to help Fatah candidates who pledged to campaign against Hamas. Palestinian sources said the U.S. Agency for International Development has been in contact with several Fatah candidates with ties to Israel's Labor Party.

"AID told the Fatah candidates to open bank accounts in Israel, but said they must attack Hamas in their platforms," a source said.

Still, the administration has lost hope that Hamas could be defeated under any circumstances. As a result, Washington has signaled to Abbas that the United States would not object to the cancellation of PLC elections. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has pledged to support any decision by Abbas, one source said.

"The United States believes that a non-government headed by Abbas is better than a functional government headed by Hamas," the source said.

January 2006


Talking To The Enemy Indeed
(January 31, 2006)
In Iraq the U.S. is secretly talking with the 'insurgent' enemy... There will have to be actual significant policy changes by the American Empire or else -- especially when it comes to reversing Israeli apartheid and realigning American policies and interests in truly new ways, not just more rhetorical trickery and obfuscation.

Abbas, Shaath, Safieh, Fateh Officials Should Resign or Be Sacked
(January 30, 2006)
The danger of fractricidal conflict and civil war in Palestine -- an under-the-table goal pursued by the Israelis for some time no matter how much they deny it -- is now greater than ever. The major figures representing the exposed and corrupt remnants of Fateh are attempting to manipulate their way one way or another to retain money, guns, and power. Rather than resigning as he should Fateh's top man, Mahmoud Abbas, is using his considerable backing from the U.S., Israel, Europe, and the Arab 'client regimes' to attempt to keep himself and his cronies in power one way or another. It is an unprecedented dangerous political poker game of bluff, counter-bluff, and chicken being played out not just in occupied Palestine but on the regional and world stages as well and with quite unpredictable results at this point. Meanwhile the Iranians are racing ahead to prepare themselves for attack, the comatose 'peace process' is all but finally declared dead, international energy supply concerns and escalating prices could trigger more conflict and economic hard-times, and the Neocon/Evangelical regime in Washington (under unprecedented assault as the second article below suggests) is desperately seeking new ways for possible salvation and resurrection before the November 2006 mid-term election even as the still hesitant impeachment movement might yet gain traction.

LAWLESS WORLD Erupting Thursday in London
(January 30, 2006)
"...likely to cause a fierce new controversy on both sides of the Atlantic" the new edition of this damning book LAWLESS WORLD will not be published until Thursday in London, just hours after President Bush's State of the Union 2006 address to Congress at 9pm tomorrow. Major pressures are now building in both Washington and London to actually attempt to remove from power those who brought about the Iraq war through such chicanery and duplicity. But if the pressures really get too strong expect the tension with Iran to escalate further and maybe explode into military exchanges and/or another major 'terrorist attack' either from the pertrators most expect or from the underground manipulators connected to those in power whom many now suspect with considerable damning circumstantial evidence

Assassination Backlash - Hamas Landslide
(January 26, 2006)
When the Israelis released the founder of Hamas from prison some years ago they did so because they had attempted to assassinate in Amman the man who today heads Hamas from Damascus and they needed to provide King Hussein an excuse to give them back their caught and endangered Mossad henchmen. Then, a few years later, they assassinated Sheik Ahmed Yassin, a blind paraplegic who founded Hamas in the late 1980s, as he emerged from a Gaza Mosque one morning -- this on top of an ongoing anti-Hamas assassination campaign designed to dismember and weaken 'The Islamic Resistance Movement'. The actual result however is what happened yesterday in a sea of Hamas green.

Hamas Wins Big
(January 26, 2006)
There's a long history to why Hamas has been so victorious in occupied Palestine. And whatever the Israeli p.r. spin about what has happened they and the U.S. are really the midwives.

Iran Crisis
(January 25, 2006)
This day was destined to come sooner or later. With the Israelis having a considerable arsenal of nuclear weapons and the ability to delivery them tactically to the battlefield as well as strategically by submarine and airplane a gross imbalance has been there in the region for some time already. Furthermore there should be no doubt that Israel's apartheid and bloodletting policies toward the Palestinians have been a major force enflaming Arab and Muslim sentiments throughout the region; while militant neo-imperialist U.S. policies on top of the American-Israeli alliance and the rise of Christian Fundamentalism have fueled the raging passions and led to today's imbroglio.

Hamastan Indeed
(January 24, 2006)
Hamas is not taking power tomorrow in occupied Palestine; it is instead asserting power in what can be seen as a kind of historic political blowback for so many awful years of miserable corruption, gross ineptitude and dastardly co-optation by those whom the U.S., Israel, and the Arab 'client regimes' pushed so hard to date to lord over the millions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Call it as well a kind of democratic payback for the Israeli/U.S. assassinations of the senior generation of Palestinian leaders including in recent years the founder of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, and the long-time Chairman of the PLO, Yasser Arafat.

Questions About 9/11 That Don't Go Away
(January 23, 2006)
So much of what is happening now in our world can be traced back to the year 2001 when Bush/Cheney and the Neocons came to power in Washington, Ariel Sharon came to power in Israel, and what we all now simply call 9/11 happened. But just what did really happen? Nagging questions not only are not going away, they are surfacing from credible people and need to be very seriously and independently investigated.

U.S. Caught In The Act In Occupied Palestine
(January 22, 2006)
American credibility has rarely been lower; American duplicity has rarely been higher; and the exposure of American lies and hypocrisy has rarely been more evident than in the lead story in today's Washington Post.

Torturing Palestinians
(January 21, 2006)
From MER in January 1997: Torture of Palestinians is not only routine and systematic, in it actually sanctioned by the Israeli legal system that has been twisted to serve Israeli policies. Going back to the Shinbet scandal of the early 1980's, even more sadistic forms of torture have given way to the kinds of 'legalized' torture methods outlined in this important article from one of the few independent and courageous media sources in Israel, The Alternative Information Center (AIC). Among the reasons the Israelis get away with such systematic torture of Palestinians is that hardly anyone is willing to protest. The so-called "Palestinian Authority" practices similar and even worse torture techniques, as do nearly all of the Arab governments in the region -- so they are hardly in a position to protest. And the "liberal" American Jewish community has been morally bankrupt about such issues for so long now that to speak up at this point would be to condemn themselves for permitting, and even encouraging in many cases, such Nazi-like behavior by the Israelis for decades.

"WAR on TERRORISM" - Noam Chomsky Lecture on 18 Jan
(January 20, 2006)
This important lengthy lecture was delivered a few days ago in Dublin. Plus information about how to get a unique and now rare video documentary about the start of the "New World Order" -- available now exclusively from MER. At the start of Gulf War I in 1991 -- the beginnings of the Bush-era "New World Order", Noam Chomsky came to Washington and spoke to a huge overflow audience at George Washington University. This video documentary captures the entirety of his speech as well as the extensive question and answer period that followed. This documentary is essential to a serious understanding of U.S. foreign policy worldwide today. Chomsky uniquely provides the background and understanding needed to appreciate what the War in Iraq is really all about as well as the many misrepresentations and lies Washington propogates so often about the Israeli-Palestinian "Peace Process". From the back of the video by Mark Bruzonsky: "There's no one like Chomsky if you want to truly understand the realities of both U.S. policies and the overall situation in the Middle East...

Any Questions or Comments - CHAT at 12pm today
(January 20, 2006)
If you hvae any Questions or Comments about this program or MER use CHAT at 12pm today (Washington, DC time)

Palestinian 'Election' Approaches...Still Maybe
(January 19, 2006)
In the end it may be that the failing remnants of the disgraced 'Palestinian Authority' -- after so many years of miserable corruption and co-optation -- are now too weak and fractured to even manage to 'postpone' the long-promised Legislative election... Now the past is coming back to haunt the PA -- and their godfathers as well.

(January 18, 2006)
Though they run a far more effective propaganda network the Jewish and Zionist establishments don't always get their way and have in fact lost quite a bit of credibility and following. This article from earlier this week in The Christian Science Monitor. And we certainly hope that those in Iraq who are legitimately and so courageously standing up against the US/UK/Israeli invasion/occupation will decide to release the CSM correspondent they are holding hostage, showing that they are sophisticated enough to distinguish between hostile and friendly Christians and thereby giving hope amidst so much despair and bloodletting.

(January 17, 2006)
The cultural and emotional differences between Islam and Christianity and Judaism are considerable -- never more so than in the areas relating to women and sexuality. This interesting but not really adequate article is from today's Guardian in the UK: SEMINAL QUESTIONS - As scholars question the place of nudity in marriage, Islamic clerics are hotly debating exactly what sexual practices are acceptable, writes Brian Whitaker

The Faster March To International War
(January 16, 2006)
Joining the rising chorus is a growing group of sometimes neo-con, sometimes evangelical, sometimes hustling and/or sponsored academics. They are now contributing to the growing 'New World Order' hysteria that now dominates American political life through the pages of associated magazines and newspapers. While Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson for instance is right indeed to be warning about the great dangers now immediately ahead, his analogies and heroes are so misguided and off the mark one has to wonder just who is really orchestrating and behind this kind of thing. This Ferguson article appeared over the weekend in The Telegraph published in the U.K.

Historic Anti-U.S./Israel Crucible of Hatred and Revenge
(January 15, 2006)
One day Pakistan will no longer be lead by a military General empowered by the U.S and manipulated by the CIA. Remember now that today's feared Zawahiri left his Cairo medical practice to oppose the U.S. when he felt Egypt was deceived and co-opted by the U.S. Bin Laden himself, after working with the Americans to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan and working intimately with the American-sponsored Royal Family of Saudi Arabia, turned against the U.S. when American troops on top of the CIA directly occupied his country. And of course Iraq is today a country erupting as a result of U.S. occupation and destruction while Iran is a country today still rebelling after so many years of tortuous rule by the Shah and so much CIA-plotting to control that country.

INFORMATION For Persons Using This Program MiddleEast.Org
(January 12, 2006)
Useful INFORMATION For Persons Using This Program always available at MiddleEast.Org/MER

What Sharon Has Wrought; and What He Has Left
(January 12, 2006)
Understanding what has happened between Israel and Palestinians over the years requires not only expert analysis but considerable memory, ideological as well as political understanding, and an ability to put the historical pieces all together. Meron Benviniste's article today in Ha'aretz is of considerable help in summarizing the situation past, present, and maybe future.

Ariel Sharon - by Robert Fisk
(January 6, 2006)
There are few journalists who have the knowledge and perspective of Robert Fisk. This from his recent book, footnoted at the end and highly recommended.

Chaos and Geostrategic Changes of Historic Consequences Looming
(January 6, 2006)
The Year 2006 is now more ominous than ever.

Sharon's Huge Legacy
(January 5, 2006)
Sharon's legacy is overwhelming, and not for the positive

MER Mark Bruzonsky on Channel 5 Evening News Tonight in Washington, DC area
(January 4, 2006)
MER Mark Bruzonsky on Channel 5 Evening News Tonight in Washington, DC area

Sharon - 'significant stroke' reported tonight in Israel
(January 4, 2006)
Sharon - 'significant stroke' reported tonight in Israel

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