Thursday, April 22, 2010

Of 'ashing' and grounding flights: a self imposed sanction

" Flights resume across Europe " was today's headline news. One week of European space closure causes chaos for travelers and business. "International air transport group Iata says the disruption has cost the industry $1.7bn (£1.1bn) and called for European governments to help carriers" continues the article.

But the chaos has affected everyone in different ways, see sample of comments here, and also the 'ash stories' run by the BBC ... people ran out of prescription medication, people were literally under house arrest in Russia because their flight was diverted there and they have no visa. Business trips were canceled. Travelers were stranded at the wrong end of the world and people had to find ingenious ways to make it home: bus, ferry, train, bicycle , taxi, car...Britain even deployed its Royal Navy to repatriate travelers.

That was just one week of no fly zone over a large swath of European airspace, and the toll was enormous materially, morally and physically. How does it compare for people who are forced to endure something similar for years ?

From 1992 till 1999 there was an air embargo on Libya, but even before that there were the US economic sanctions which also affected Libyan airlines - but I won't take that into consideration in my comparison :)

I remember the journeys we had to make just to reach nearby Egypt! By ferry to Malta - 12 hrs in good weather then overnight in a hotel in Malta then if you are lucky you get the next day flight to your destination. But that will not be a direct flight to your destination because not all airlines go everywhere from Malta and you need visas for Europe even in transit. So the next destination for example Cairo and you have to stopover for a night there as well to catch the flight to your final destination. The same thing is for the return journey. You do the maths. This is provided your ferry to Malta is not delayed by bad weather or places are not overbooked. Can you imagine how much all this costs per family?

You had two other options by car to Tunisia ( Djerba or Tunis depending on where you are catching your flight) or by car or bus to the Egyptian border and from there to Cairo. It's ok if you are doing it for fun but who wants to brave the long lines at the border control ? screaming kids, hot tempered people and officials, the journey to the Egyptian border 2- 3 days depending how fast you drive. To Tunis 12 hours non stop. Again if its for your holiday it may be bearable but such a waste of time but if you have a sick person and not everyone lives in Tripoli or Benghazi it's not obvious. Check this . So many car accidents and some many ill Libyans died on the road. I think that was the period when we in Libya started to drive like crazy, because we were always trying to reach somewhere fast enough. Plus the road to Egypt or Tunis was desolate.

If you were abroad you could not guarantee returning on time for your grandfather's funeral, your daughter's birth or your sister's wedding. If you were in Libya you could not guarantee getting your son on time to Jordan for his chemotherapy. The only ones who did not suffer much were foreign oil companies, because they had their drivers take their crew and staff to Djerba to catch flights to Europe. They had no problem at the Tunisian border as foreigners are waived in faster than Arabs. Also this was the time when 1 US$ was equivalent to 3 Libyan Dinars, which meant despite the astronomically rising inflation everything in Libya was cheap for foreigners, so car travel to Tunis in luxurious and safe vehicles was very affordable.

If in one week IATA alone lost 1.7 billion US$, how much was the collective loss for Libya and Libyans in 8 years ? The airline was in shambles and I think will take a long time to recover if at all.

I know how much the gain was for neighbouring countries who benefited from the sanctions on Libya and especially the air embargo. They had to create flights and routes of major airlines and become a hub to cater to Libya travel ( to and fro) and Libya inbound/outbound business in general. I know because I have seen over the years and a short period of time what Malta was and what it became, what Tunis was and what it became and what Egypt was and what it became. I don't say this with resentment though; good for them for seizing an opportunity, they'd be dumb not to use it.

I have seen the same thing happen in Jordan due to the embargo on Iraq.In a decade in the 90s Jordan had radically changed on the outside - this was accelerated more than it normally would have been.

I hope that the world has felt a little bit of what an air embargo means or even what sanctions are and is ready to sympathize with plight of others and not blindly endorse unjust resolutions. After all grounding flights was not a sanction in Europe but it probably felt like one for them as their plans were no longer 100% proof. It probably felt horrible for all those locked up in hotels in foreign countries or in airports without money.... That is a fraction of what Palestinians feel, Libyans and Iraqis experienced, what Iranians could experience and others such as in Cuba feel.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Avatar and the American Hero Syndrome

I finally managed to watch the much acclaimed Avatar this weekend, not in 3 or 2 D as we no longer have this type of cinema in Libya but simply on DVD.

I absolutely loved the movie, the plot and the Na'vi are beautiful creatures, I wish I could lead such a life.
The angle that most appealed to me is caring about the planet, a climate or environment type of storyline which also includes balance between nature and the spirit.

Prior to watching the film I had read some criticism that it may be anti-American as it negatively criticizes mechanized warfare and by extension the US led wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and possibly all the other attacks launched on other countries to shock and awe them into submission.

Having seen and enjoyed the creativity of the production, I can confirm that it is certainly not anti-American but on the contrary as is with 99.999 % of US films it manages to portray the person who at the end saves the world as American. Even in Avatar this did not fail because the only one who could save the Na'vi was an US marine who like many people in the military in countries who experienced war with the US dated a local woman. That's why fraternization with the natives are frowned upon in the military, use the woman for sex but don't fall in love with them because you may end up embracing their cause and going against your nation even if your nation is in the wrong :P.

Anyway the hero fell in love with the heroine and helped her people against his people. If not for him the American, the Na'vi would be annihilated.

That is the subliminal message I got, 100% pro - America :)

Now we in the Arab world should start making more movies where an Arab saves the day. If Bollywood, the Israelis and even Egyptian film producers can do it why not the rest ? we just need a bit of more fervent nationalism !

Will definitely watch the movie again...

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Owning my dream car at last !

After 4 years of dreaming and 32 comments about my dream car, I am finally the proud owner of the Toyota Highlander 2010 ....

Funnily enough owning my dream car has not filled my heart with the happiness I imagined back in 2006...why is that do you reckon? is it getting old? different preoccupations? or have I still not shaken the moody clouds that have gripped me since the saddest Eid of all?

I think it's probably the latter as I have not written about it yet.

Meanwhile that SUV is causing terror on the road.

Type rest of the post here

Saturday, February 20, 2010

John Stack: Tax Martyr or Tax Terrorist ?

'Pilot crashes into Texas building': I know it's oldish news - so last week right ? But when I saw this title on the news last week and this type of footage (source for photo on right) on TV with another American building on fire...I confess I was waiting for the word 'Arab' and 'Muslim' to spring up, not because this is what people who belong to this classification do best but because the world has become accustomed to hearing this connection from media whenever something happens :)

Imagine my 'joy' on hearing that it's only a 'white' guy who did this... and he is alleged to have stated on his website that "Violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer..." very balanced indeed. So John Stack went ballistic because of taxes !

I have yet to see hatred towards him or any reaction from the world, in fact he is not newsworthy anymore...but he did crash a plane into a building right ? so does this count as terrorism? Will his family members and neighbours be forever labeled with shame? I would like to know his religion- why is that not mentioned ? Or maybe soon we will hear that he was visiting a mosque, had traveled to Yemen and was donating money to a 'madrasa' in Pakistan.

I dread to think what would happen if he turned out to have had even bought a Shawarma or Falafel or eaten Couscous within the last 10 years :) * Can you imagine the scenario?

Sigh I guess it's just the double standards as usual .

* Or maybe not? because these are claimed to be favourite staples by Israelis , but this post is not about them :P so if you want to read more check Anglo Libyan's blog !

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Surviving and Living as a preventative measure

" Dragan doesn't want to go to Italy. He misses his wife and son, but he isn't Italian and he never will be. There is no country he can go to where he won't be from Sarajevo. This is his home, and this is the city he wants to be in. He doesn't want to live under siege for the rest of his life, but to abandon the city to the men on the hills would mean that he would be forever homeless. As long as he's here, and as long as he can keep his fear of death from blinding him to what's left of a world he once loved and could love again, then there's still hope that one day he will be able to walk openly down the streets of this city with his wife and son, sit in a restaurant and eat a meal, browse the windows of shops, free from the men wit guns." [p.161 - Atlantic Books London - 2008]

" [..] civilisation isn't a thing that you build and then there it is, you have it forever. It needs to be built constantly, recreated daily [...] As long as there's war, life is a preventative measure." [p216 - Atlantic Books London - 2008]

Having recently completed reading " The Cellist of Sarajevo", I noticed how the mosaic of emotions, ideas and representations recounted in the novel could be applied to any war torn country but the excerpt from page 161 simply screamed Palestine. I salute the Palestinian people for their steadfastness!

I highly recommend this book, it is gripping, and the best part is that the author, Steven Galloway did not use labels such as Serb, Muslim etc..

Friday, February 12, 2010

Morality vs Security: a long time dilemma

and Abu Ghraib, both brainchildren of the military adventure of a Western democracy into a far away land are the events which have brought to the forefront of the news the ethics of prisoner treatment and professional interrogation techniques.

That Britain and the US can discuss these topics 'democratically', disclosing and admitting at times that a terrible injustice may have been dealt to inmates and undertaking a few reforms here and there is admirable and is perhaps the reason why they feel they are able to lecture and train other 'less advanced' countries on international prison management standards in penitentiary institutions.

However, I find it hard to believe that anyone in the world is naive enough to think that there is something called 'good condition of imprisonment', or that there is no abuse in a prison environment. Even in an experimental environment there is large scope for mismanagement of inmates. I may have probably mentioned the Stanford experiment before but I find it fascinating, as this is human nature and the human nature given the right set of circumstances can transform an individual or individuals en masse into 'willing perpetrators or victims of evil'.

Knowing all this why would anyone be shocked at the latest emerging news about the post 9/11 world in which MI5 is accused of covering up the 'alleged' torture of " Ethiopian-born Mr Mohamed, 31[..] at the behest of US authorities after his detention in Pakistan in 2002. [...]The MPs said allegations that MI5 officers were "careless in their observance of their obligations towards the human rights of detainees"".

If people are wiling to hurt their own kind in ordinary/civilian prison environments, what do you think happens if they are given the authority over people from a different colour, religion and country than their own and especially in the context of war on terror ?

Come on let's be real ...what lies beneath in any prison system or non system on any spot on earth is worse than even our wildest dreams. Any one doing time is not rehabilitated but probably would not want to go back there simply from fear. Fear is what conditions one to keep remaining a willing victim or take the alternative path and seek vengeance.

So people stop thinking that morals in the west are higher and then feel outraged about rendition or anything else. This is all standard and 'normal' procedure in matters of national security..... and abuse is and will always be normal in any system where individuals will have any authority over anyone.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Returning to the roots: a hardcore Highlander post

"Palestinian resistance and persistence is growing fierce rather than weakening. As an IDF intelligence general predicted already at the first Intifada. ‘In order to win, all Palestinians have to do is to survive’. They survive and they are indeed winning."

Read the above on a blog last year and came across again today.

Type rest of the post here

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Wolf and the Vampire

Just finished watching New Moon !

Being loved by a werewolf AND a vampire has been my teenage fantasy.
This movie made me feel 16 again... I can't make up my mind who I want : Jacob or Edward? They symbolizes two types of extremely attractive males....

I think I will be buying the books soon to relish the feeling...

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Fortuitous Arab / Muslim Terrorism: is there an oil connection?

I feel very sorry for the victims of terrorists attacks from whichever nation and creed, but I sometimes find it strange that in 99% of cases the western intelligence agencies always let the alleged bad guy slip yet at the same time he/she is caught by sheer luck or the 'bravery' of a civilian and this always happen at a time when it is most needed in the US.

Conspiracy you cry ? well why not if you have read so far ....some alternative opinion to ponder on and what's oil got to do with it? I thought the following was interesting

"The Underwear Bomber": Crushing Freedom With Phony Arab Terrorism

by Joe Quinn [source] I'm repasting the whole article in case you are too lazy to read :)

Strange as it may seem, a couple of weeks ago as I ruminated on Obama's broken promise to bring the troops home, his attempt to out-warmonger the Bush administration and his plummeting popularity, I thought to myself: "ya know, what that guy (or rather the disgruntled US public) needs is a good old fashioned 'Muslim terror attack'. Preferably one that includes a ranting 'terrorist' message about Afghanistan and 'slaughtering infidels'. That'll soon silence the rabble and get them behind Obama's Afghan surge!"

And so it was that, as I sipped my eggnog on Christmas day, I was shockingly unsurprised to read the headlines about an 'underwear bomb'

To adequately address the recent airline "terror attack" in Detroit and the airborne terror attacks in Yemen we must delve into the topsy turvey world of the 'war on terror', where black is white, up is down, and shady Middle Eastern-looking men and your knickers share equal rating on the US DHS threat-o-meter. In short, it's no easy task. So first of all, let me say a few words about airports and the old and new airport "security measures".

The nightmare that is modern commercial air travel started with 9/11. Before this date, air travel was reasonably civilized. There were no long queues (at least not after check in). We just threw our hand luggage on the security belt, walked through the scanner and we were done.

After 9/11 however, every commercial airplane became a potential flying bomb and passengers and their hand luggage had to undergo more extensive searches. In Dec 2001, the theatrics of the clearly brain-washed Richard Reid, aka "the shoe bomber", added the common or garden shoe to the list of potential terrorist weapons. Now, the equally bizarre antics of the young Nigerian Mr Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has thrown our underwear into the mix.

Both shoe and knicker bomber attempted to use PETN (a military explosive) on their respective flights. As a result, our shoes now go through scanners at airports and I can only presume that more invasive scanning of our lower torsos will also be mandated supposedly in an effort to prevent further knicker attacks. The problem, however, is this:

PETN, either in shoes or strapped to any part of the body, cannot be detected by airport scanners. A chemical test is needed. Unless authorities plan to drastically reconfigure the number and availability of international flights, there is no chance that chemical tests can be introduced for every passenger. Hence we reach our first tentative conclusion: that the billions of shoes that have been scanned at airports since 2001, and the billions of pairs of underwear that will henceforth become objects of official scrutiny, have and will have had nothing to do with airport security or preventing terrorism.

So what's it all about?

Follow me now, as I metaphorically wade through the vast piles of manure that constitute the raw material for the official story of the latest 'terror attack'.

The Christmas knicker bomber was not your usual disgruntled Arab or lowly Muslim acolyte. He was the son of Nigerian banking mogul and former Nigerian government minister Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, one of the richest men in Africa. We're talking one of the African colonial elite here, an African version of the British "old boy's network" While in London, his son, the knicker bomber lived in a ₤4 million apartment in Mansfield Street, in the city's West End.

It is not surprising therefore to learn that the knicker bomber apparently received special treatment at Amsterdam airport before he boarded his flight to Detroit. Eyewitness Kurt Haskell reported that a sharply dressed Indian man escorted him to the gate and told the attendant that the knicker bomber had no passport but needed to get on the flight. The sharply dressed man was told that he would have to speak to the manager, which he apparently did and successfully got the young 'terrorist' on board.

Now this requires some serious string pulling, and all the hoopla in the press about whether or not the security system worked is just hubris, because if the knicker bomber appeared at the gate without a passport, it is unlikely that he went through the normal process up to that point, including check-in which requires passengers to show their passports. In all probability he was escorted as a VIP to the gate by the sharply dressed man. So how do two suspicious looking terrorists, at least one of them without a passport, get to the gate in an airport and then onto the flight? The answer is they don't unless they have some diplomatic credentials or high-level contacts in the airport.

Guess who runs the security at Amsterdam Schipol airport? ICTS of course! the same Israeli owned security company that somehow managed to let the shoe bomber on his Miami flight in 2001 and several of those mythical hijackers who allegedly flew out of Boston's Logan airport on 9/11. It is also useful to remember that the shoe bomber was cleared through ICTS and El Al security at Amsterdam airport on a flight to Tel Aviv in July 2001 for what was apparently an all-expenses paid week-long trip to the Israeli city. What precisely he did there remains a mystery.

All of which leads us to our second tentative conclusion:

The knicker bomber and his handler were not terrorists. Of course, it all depends on who you think the real terrorists are...

Moving on to the bomb itself; as mentioned it was PETN, or rather Pentaerythritol, which is a building block for PETN. To make PETN, Pentaerythritol must be mixed with concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids. It is assumed that these acids were in the syringe that the knicker bomber was attempting to inject, under the cover of a blanket, into his underpants. He then attempted to ignite the newly prepared PETN with some kind of a fuse. He was apparently unaware that PETN requires a shock wave rather than heat or flame to detonate, and a shock wave is best provided by an initiator explosive. In short, the whole enterprise was doomed to failure from the beginning. Since the bomber and his smartly-dressed handler were able to get to the gate without passports, and are unlikely to have passed through security, we are left to ponder why the bomber didn't carry an explosive that required much less preparation, like a half a stick of dynamite for example. Here's a short video of what a half stick of dynamite does to a file cabinet.

Tentative conclusion number three therefore is that the goal was not to actually 'kill infidels' but rather to reinforce the concept of 'Muslim terrorism'. In fact, it seems clear at this stage that the combining of terrorism and commercial air travel is a specific tactic by the real terror masters to maximise fear. After all, it is difficult to think of a place where the average citizen already feels more vulnerable than on a metal tube hurtling through the air at 35,000 feet. Add in a wild-eyed 'terrorist' and you have the optimal psychological conditions for fear-based programming.

In this particular case however, the knicker bomber was far from wild-eyed. According to the first passenger who attempted to subdue Mutallab on the plane, he offered no resistance and was docile. He was "staring into nothing" according to Dutch 'film maker' Jasper Schuringa. Schuringa also noted that Mutallab was actually on fire but showed no reaction whatsoever. This is suggestive of someone who is in some sort of trance. Indeed, Schuringa stated this explicitly in this interview but immediately followed it with the words, "I don't want to talk about that."

How very strange.

Equally strange is Schuringa's account of how he subdued Mutallab:

as the plane neared its destination of Detroit, Michigan, he heard a pop that sounded like a firecracker going off, and someone started yelling: "Fire! Fire!"

"Around 30 seconds later the smoke started to fill up on the left side beneath this person," he said.

"I basically reacted directly. I didn't think."

He jumped over the passenger next to him and lunged over Abdulmutallab's seat, "Because I was thinking he's trying to blow up the plane, and I was trying to search his body for any explosives."

"I pulled the object from him and tried to extinguish the fire with my hands and threw it away,"

"Just to be sure I grabbed him with another attendant and we took him to first class and there we stripped him and contained him with handcuffs and we made sure he had no more weapons, no more bombs on him."

"The whole plane was screaming. The suspect, he didn't say a word."

Schuringa said other passengers applauded as he walked back to his seat.

The reactions of the other passengers seems normal. The reactions of Schuringa are reminiscent of someone who has been trained in anti-in-flight-terror tactics.

According to reports Schuringa was on his way to visit an 'Israeli friend', Shai Ben-Ami who owns a restaurant in Miami. The flight landed at around noon on Christmas day, and by that afternoon Ben-Ami had become Schuringa's impromptu PR manager, aggressively negotiating fees for interviews and the couple of cell phone pictures that Schuringa had taken of Mutallab as he was being taken off the plane.

Eyewitnesses on the flight also reported that after Mutallab was taken off the plane the FBI arrested another Indian-looking man in Detroit airport. The FBI has since denied that anyone else was involved.

Patricia Keepman was on the flight with her husband, daughter and two new adopted children from Ethiopia. She reported that they were sitting about 20 rows behind Mutallab. Her daughter said that ahead of them was a man who videotaped the entire flight, including the attempted detonation. "He sat up and videotaped the entire thing, very calmly," said Patricia. "We do know that the FBI is looking for him intensely. Since then, we've heard nothing about it."

Passenger Kurt Haskell also reported that a third Indian man was arrested after the plane landed in Detroit airport. Haskell also claims that he has since been visited by the FBI in what appears to be an attempt to silence him and his report of a third man.

According to CNN, the knicker bomber's father contacted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria recently with concerns his son was planning something, that he had become "radicalized". His pleas apparently fell on deaf ears.

Coincidentally, the Orwellian Patriot Act, passed on the back of the 9/11 attacks, is up for either renewal or trash-canning in a couple of weeks. What luck then for Obama, who is secretly very fond of such draconian powers, that the knicker bomber happened along, because there is now a very good chance that the Patriot Act will not only be enthusiastically renewed, but unanimously so.

There is no chance however that any of these troubling details will be discussed by the mainstream media, because none of them are relevant to the story that the US and Israeli governments want us to believe: Yemen is crawling with "al-Qaeda"!!

Going Global

Initially, all we had was a Nigerian youth and a misguided effort to detonate what we are told was an explosive compound. Within 24 hours however, IntelCenter, a group of US ex-military and intelligence officials who over the years have somehow managed to produce many of the "al-Qaeda" videos and messages that they serendipitously find on "jihadist websites", produced a picture of Mutallab with what they claim is the flag of the media arm of "al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula" and a message from the group claiming Mutallab as one of their own:

"We tell the American people that since you support the leaders who kill our women and children ... we have come to slaughter you (and) will strike you with no previous (warning), our vengeance is near," the statement said.

Scared yet? Well, the people at Intelcenter really hope you are. They put a lot of effort into producing these messages and videos and images. For example, a 2006 'al-qaeda' video featuring al-Zawahiri released by Intelcenter was analyzed by Neal Krawetz, a researcher and computer security consultant. During a presentation he gave at the BlackHat security conference in Las Vegas in 2007 about analyzing digital photographs and video images for alterations and enhancements, Krawetz showed that the video had been altered in a very interesting way.

Using a program he wrote (and provided on the conference CD-ROM) Krawetz could print out the quantization tables in a JPEG file (that indicate how the image was compressed) and determine the last tool that created the image - that is, the make and model of the camera if the image is original or the version of Photoshop that was used to alter and re-save the image.

Krawetz took an image (above) from the 2006 video of al-Zawahiri showing the Mr Magoo look-alike sitting in front of a desk and banner with writing on it. After conducting his error analysis Krawetz was able to determine that the writing on the banner behind al-Zawahiri's head was added to the image afterward and at the same time as the logo of IntelCenter, which released the video. In short, it seems very likely that IntelCenter produced the writing on the banner, and probably the entire video, from whole cloth.

Despite this evidence, we are being asked to believe that the latest message and photo from 'al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula' that IntelCenter just happened to find on a "Jihadist internet message board" that links Mutallab with 'al-Qaeda in Yemen' is authentic!

The Yemen government, or rather dictatorship, added its voice to the subterfuge by claiming that Mutallab was in Yemen from August to December 2009. Dodgy internet postings, as usual from unnamed 'jihadist web sites' would have us believe he was putting the final touches to his knicker bomb under the tutelage of "al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula" and specifically Anwar al-Awlaki, the US born Muslim lecturer, spiritual leader, and former imam. The very same al-Awlaki who allegedly corresponded with Fort Hood mind-programmed patsy Nidal Malik Hasan. The very same al-Awlaki who was allegedly the spiritual adviser to two of the 9/11 hijackers. Isn't it just wonderful how it all connects together in one giant web of "Muslim terrorism" that starts with 9/11?

The fact is, it all does start with 9/11, and the evidence that the 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by elements of the US and Israeli governments is so abundant that no further discussion is required. How Mutallab actually passed his time in Yemen is however still open to speculation, and speculation is always best when some reasonably objective data is marshaled to back it up. Data like:

Yemen seizes 'Israel-linked' cell

Tuesday, 7 October 2008
BBC News

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said the security forces have arrested a group of alleged Islamist militants linked to Israeli intelligence.

Mr Saleh did not say what evidence had been found to show the group's links with Israel, a regional enemy of Yemen.

The arrests were connected with an attack on the US embassy in Sanaa last month which killed at least 18 people, official sources were quoted saying.

Israel's foreign ministry has rejected the accusation as "totally ridiculous".

"A terrorist cell was arrested and will be referred to the judicial authorities for its links with the Israeli intelligence services," Mr Saleh told a gathering at al-Mukalla University in Hadramawt province.

"Details of the trial will be announced later. You will hear about what goes on in the proceedings," he added.

The 17 September attack was the second to target the US embassy since April. Militants detonated car bombs before firing rockets at the heavily fortified building.

Mr Saleh did not identify the suspects, but official sources were quoted saying it was the same cell - led by a militant called Abu al-Ghaith al-Yamani - whose arrest was announced a week after the attack.

The simple yet ugly truth is that Yemen is now squarely in the cross-hairs of the US imperial juggernaut. As to the reason why, we may need only look to the following report from Feb 2009:

Yemen oil majors mull investments

Yemen's Ministry for Oil and Mineral Resources has received eight oil investment bids from international companies, pan-Arab daily al-Hayat quoted Aidarous as saying, four of which were from oil majors seeking direct negotiations with Yemen.

The companies include Exxon Mobil, Total, and BP, the minister said, but did not elaborate on the nature of the investments.

Yemen also has significant natural gas reserves that are in the process of being explored and extracted by French Multi-national Total. But perhaps Yemen's most strategically important asset is its location. Sitting on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, the Yemeni sea port of Aden and the gulf of Aden in general is ideally located for the transport of the two aforementioned crucially important commodities. Over 30% of all crude oil and over 10% of global trade pass through the Gulf of Aden and control of it gives control over shipping in the region (think piracy) and access to the coasts of oil-rich East African nations like Somalia and Sudan.

With climate change, in the form of a glacial rebound or a new 'ice age', and the massive world-wide social unrest it would cause, looking increasingly likely in the near future, the psychopathic elite are undoubtedly eager to ensure their own comfortable survival at our expense.

Yemen - Yesterday And Today

Yemen has only existed as an independent country for less than 50 years. During and after the Second World War, Aden was regarded as the key to the defense of British imperial interests in the Middle East, the Gulf and the Indian Ocean. As late as May 1956 a British junior minister, Lord Lloyd, stated that "for the foreseeable future it would not be reasonable or sensible or in the interests of the colony's inhabitants to aspire to any aim beyond that of a considerable degree of internal self-government."1 Naturally enough, Yenemis were less than enthusiastic about being indefinitely subservient to the British.

Historically, Yemen had been split into two governates, North and South Yemen. In 1956, as long as its then ruler Imam Ahmed did not interfere, the British were willing to allow North Yemen relative independence. South Yemen however was to remain fully British, at least economically. In response to an increasingly powerful trade union movement made up of the Arab working class who demanded better wages, living standards and infrastructure, the British attempted to consolidate their control in the South by establishing the Federation of South Arabia in 1959, a ramshackle affair made up of the various emirs, sheiks and sultans who were willing to side with the British against Yemeni nationalist aspirations in exchange for position and wealth.

British Petroleum had established an oil refinery in 1954 and the wealth that this resource could and should have provided for the Yemeni people was instead shipped out to further British strategic interests elsewhere in the world, leaving much of Yemen's population impoverished. While the British governing elite have always (and still do) view all (or rather most) non-Western peoples as little more than howling savages, like so many other colonized nations, the Yemeni people had no trouble recognizing the injustice of the situation. Faced with an increasingly militant nationalist movement within both South and North Yemen, the British reacted to the justified grievances of a mobilized civilian population in the only way they know how - subterfuge and force.

After a wave of strikes called by the Aden Trades Union Congress (how dare they!) which were followed by mass arrests, beatings and torture by the British military, a number of activists and organizations from Aden and outlying areas came together to establish the National Liberation Front for Occupied South Yemen or the NLF for short. The leaders were middle class... clerks, teachers, officers.2 To deal with the insurgents ('terrorists' in modern parlance), the British decided on the tried and trusted method of terrorizing the local population. They proclaimed the insurgent areas 'proscribed areas' and dropped leaflets telling the inhabitants to leave (does this remind you of the tactics of a certain Middle Eastern country in January 2009?). With that formality completed the Royal Air Force freely rocketed and bombed the areas, strafing any sign of human activity. Crops were destroyed, livestock seized and houses blown up, (again, does this remind you of anything?) When Yemeni farmers began to work their fields at night, the British military added night-time bombing.3

Search operations were carried out on a large scale in an attempt to restrict movement of men and weapons by the NLF. Inevitably, these searches accompanied by racists abuse and physical manhandling further alienated the population. Stephen Harper, the Daily Express correspondent in Aden, wrote fondly of the troops that "there's a lot of boot, gun-butt and fist thumping" but that this wasn't brutality but rather "righteous anger". An officer recalled how, when troops were banned from calling the Arabs 'wog', they wittily responded by calling them 'gollies' instead14 (see here for the origin and usage of the world golliwog). The counter-productivity of such abuse always was (and still is) lost on the British political elite and military and obviously did nothing to win the 'hearts and minds' of the Yemeni people in their rebelling against foreign domination.

Another tactic used by the British military (you may recognize this one) was the deployment of 'Special Branch Sections'. These were eight to ten man mobile patrols with an officer in command. Dressed up as Arabs they carried out raids, searches and attacks against British and Yemeni civilian and military targets that could then be blamed on the insurgents in an effort to justify the British oppression. The SAS in its first official deployment against urban guerillas was also deployed in 'Keeni Meeni' squads (a Swahili term appropriately meaning 'slithering snakes'). 'Keeni Meeni' members were SAS men thought most likely to be able to pass for Arabs...5

Without intelligence sources within the local Arab population, British military leaders settled on the inspired idea that torture of prisoners was the next best thing. This mainly involved beatings of one form or another but also sensory deprivation techniques that would later be used in the 30 years dirty war in Northern Ireland and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the time, allegations of torture and brutality were made in the British press against the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, an infantry regiment of the British Army. The conviction of members of the regiment in 1981 for the brutal murder of two catholic farmers in Northern Ireland in 1972 led to revelations about events in Yemen. The Glasgow Sunday Mail reported that it had:

conducted a careful and comprehensive investigation including the sworn statements of a dozen soldiers and officers detailing murder and robbery of local Arabs. A single soldier admitted shooting dead five unarmed Arab civilians in different incidents. Several others said they used morphine injections to kill captives. Others claimed to be witnesses to the bayonetting to death of a Arab teenager whose only crime was to be found in a cafe after curfew.6

Eventually, the British were forced out of Yemen (at least physically) and the two kingdoms of North and South Yemen were formally united as the Republic of Yemen on May 22, 1990. Yemen's complicated history since British withdrawal and the unification of the North and South is beyond the scope of this article. Nevertheless, even a brief analysis of the social and political history of Yemen over the past 50 years is enough to show that the vast majority of internal conflicts have been over one single issue - civil rights and the desire of normal people to live a dignified existence free from oppression and inequality. When such aspirations conflict (as they invariably do) with the 'geo-strategic' interests of world powers like the US, Britain, or the megalomaniacal pseudo-religious and racist ideals of the state of Israel, normal people lose. 100 years ago, the British elite could simply crush such popular uprisings and explain it away as just the fall-out from their munificent efforts to civilize a 'backward people'. Today however, it is not so easy to fool a somewhat more enlightened world public and a more convincing argument must be made. That argument is today called "the world-wide terrorist threat".

In Yemen today, the people that the US, British and Israeli governments claim are "Muslim terrorists", "al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula", 'al-Qaeda in Yemen" etc. etc. are in fact local tribesmen and their families who are clamoring for social justice and have been doing so for several decades. They would very probably be easily enticed to put down their arms if they were given economic help and simple concessions such as roads and schools by the government. But that is too much to ask of either the global power brokers or Yemen's puppet government. To give any power to the people is, in the twisted, greed-driven minds of the global elite, the first step on the road to the loss of control, and control over normal human beings and our planet is the lifeblood of our corrupt and psychologically deviant leaders.

And so we are led back to the knicker bomber who, we are told, was trained by Muslim terrorists in Yemen. In response to this bogus threat (and indeed before it even appeared) the US military (and it's Saudi Arabian allies), like the British military before them, have been bombing, rocketing and strafing, not 'al-Qaeda in Yemen', but ordinary Yemeni civilians and tribesmen who dared to raise their voices, fists and guns against imperial and domestic injustice.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Highlander & 2009

2009 was a very special year to me despite the Eid Al Adha fiasco which we will revisit soon but not today…

Last year witnessed some major changes on a personal scale, for the first time in decades New Year resolutions formulated at the start of the year have been fulfilled and are ongoing.

How many of you have stuck to your new year resolutions?

Out of five resolutions, I have undertaken four and have started planning the fifth. I succeeded in three and though the fourth was a failure, I count it as successful also because I broke the ice and did it. This means there is nothing to stop me trying again now. Number 5 is the path to the spirit …

I think that’s why regardless of the bad moments I still feel great and elated. Yes I do…. I am fitter and healthier than I have been for a long time.

2009 began sadly with the loss of our wonderful cat ; but shortly after I’ve met with my best friend in London and we enjoyed every minute; a visit that will be forever engraved in my memory. I met another great friend in Libya and it was such fun seeing him again.

This is the year were more friendships were hatched but others were lost, but this is the first time I no longer feel sad about lost friends because if they were friends they would not be gone. In fact what brought it home was a status message on Facebook “ I have trimmed my list of friends today” and one comment said “ I guess I made it”, well I made it too obviously because I was reading the message and the comments but it opened my eyes that I needed to do a major inventory in my own life. My address book was overflowing and sometimes I could no longer put a face to a name. So there has been an overhaul in that area too, and you know what ? It did not hurt one bit !!!! guess it gets easier with age or is it with maturity?

Did you revise your friendship database ?

This is the year I bought my own house, I don’t live in it but it’s still mine !

How many of you own your own house without being in debt?

I visited unexplored lands and revisited some old favourites.

Did you travel in 2009 and where ?

This is the year Highlander has stopped being starry eyed at work and is now very much office politics savvy. There is no stopping me and the sky’s the limit….

What are your feelings about your job ?

2009 brought a lot of blessings, parents and siblings and nieces and nephews are good despite a close call at a certain period. Hamdillah I am satisfied and grateful!

The year literally ended beautifully! Though the ONE is not yet here, it came as a surprise to be asked in marriage by someone who was born when I was in high school.

Did I accept the offer? Read on to find out .. He is Libyan, young, handsome, smart and has a good job, he has a house and a farm (Libyans will know what I mean), and his mum actually likes me. No he does not speak English and I never met him before but apparently he has been watching me and following me for a couple of months and he just thought I was full life and so cute (his words!). Then he spoke to a common friend of the family who told my mum. My mum told me and I agreed to see him. Then his mother made the first visit to us at home. The second visit he came with her and the common family friend to speak with me. He did not believe me when I told him my age, yet decided to still go ahead with the proposal. For a Libyan man this is surprising but also flattering to me. Because knowing Libyan guys they always go for the youthful pretty face. Even a 25 year old would want his wife to be a minimum of 5 years younger, while guys in their 40s were marrying girls straight from high school. The only exception would be if she was rich and loved him then it would be a marriage of convenience for him.

But I told him, I don’t think it’s a good idea, maybe your immediate family won’t mind but the society would not leave you alone. He told me the Prophet PBUH married Lady Khadija and she was way older than him? Yes that’s true but I would not want something that started so sweetly to end as another statistic. You like me now and think I would probably be a great wife for you. But at some point I will grow old and will stop looking like this and you will still be young. Also we do not share the same interest that would bond us, our pasts are different, I could relate to your things, but you will not be able to relate to mine. Everything is kismet and nasseeb and yours and mine will come someday!

Do you feel and act your ‘supposed’ age?

My friends of course think I blew a good catch, but I don’t think so, you know why?

My ego was over the moon, it meant that right now I looked as I did back in high school, I know that’s narcissist but I would indeed be a hypocrite if I did not say I enjoyed the attention. It was also lovely that he still wanted me after knowing my real biological earth age.

That was God’s masterstroke, a grand finale to an interesting year. God has indeed mysterious ways but he sure knows how to get his message across!
His message was beautiful and full of mercy. It has shown me that if I had for any moment lost confidence in anything, He was watching out for me. I realised that what I thought were wrongs were merely thorns that prickled because I allowed them. What do you do with thorns, you remove them and throw them away and that was that. The little graze is not even worth a second look !

Welcome 2010! This is the year where I hope to visit God’s House, this is the year where I don’t have any resolutions because I have achieved them all. As for wishes we all have them but I won’t tell you mine those are secret and only the Most Merciful knows them.

Happy New Year