| Why did no Arab leader attend Chavez’s funeral, despite his unwavering support for Palestine?

Ahmadinejad Steals Show At Chavez FuneralAli Hashem for Al-Monitor.


Why did no Arab leader attend Chavez’s funeral, despite his unwavering support for Palestine? The funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was notable for the absence of Arab leaders, while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad generated controversy by comforting Chavez’s mother.


Arab leaders were missed at Hugo Chavez’s funeral. None showed up, despite the fact Chavez was known for his pro-Arab stances. According to one of his Arab affairs advisers, “Chavez risked many of Venezuela’s interests for the Palestinian cause, but that meant nothing to the Palestinian leaders who did not travel to Caracas for his farewell.”

The most senior Arab officials to take part in the funeral – which was attended by more than 30 heads of state – were two ministers representing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas respectively. The adviser, who is of Arab descent, spoke sorrowfully. “I couldn’t look in his eyes even though he was dead. He did everything he could for Arabs, but their leaders were ungrateful.” He added: “We know that people in the Arab world were as sad as Chavez’s admirers here.” Over one million Venezuelans are of Arab descent. Venezuela’s interior and foreign ministers descend from Syria and Lebanon, respectively.

“Arab leaders fear the Americans,” said the adviser. “Chavez’s stances towards their causes discomfited them. They only care about what the White House wants, so they didn’t come.”

Isabelle Franjiyeh, who is originally from Lebanon, is a member of the ruling party in Venezuela. She told me when we met after the funeral that Venezuela’s commitment to Arab causes would not be affected by such an incident. “We care for the people there,” she said. “Our leadership is attached to the grass roots, not the elite.” Before leaving, she made a brief but significant remark: “Venezuelans never felt the absence of Arab leaders; they were overwhelmed by [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad’s presence.”

The Iranian president’s presence might have been very important to pro-Chavez Venezuelans, especially after a picture was publicized showing him holding the hands of Chavez’s mother. However, this same picture seems to have given Ahmadinejad a bit of headache in Iran and within religious Shiite circles around the world. It is known that in the Shiite version of Islam, physical contact between a man and non-related women is forbidden. According to the website of one of Iran’s ayatollahs, “This reality is beyond debate. It would be necessary for you to explain your position and beliefs to others in that by refraining from shaking hands you do not mean to insult them and that you are obeying the rules of your religion.”

Several Conservative MPs on the Iran Islamic Shura Council criticized the president’s attitude. “Such an attitude by a senior official contradicts with our beliefs,” said MP Mohammed Dahqan, who urged the ayatollahs to issue statements condemning the incident.

Another MP, Mohamed Mahdi PorFatemi, said, “If it was anyone other than Ahmadinejad who did so, he would be called a traitor.”

Social networks and websites were flooded with the picture, while many pro-Ahmadinejad activists strained to convince people the image had been photoshopped. “President Ahmadinejad is a pious Muslim. He won’t do such a thing,” said one. As many as 200 comments flooded a page that had posted a photoshopped image showing Ahmadinejad with a man instead of a woman.

Later, video of the incident emerged and the debate over the authenticity of the image halted. The debate then shifted to the reasons behind Ahmadinejad’s action.

“She surprised him, and he wasn’t able to do anything,” said one reader. Another countered, “He could have avoided her.” A war of words began, and participants in the dialogue seemed divided. Some gave excuses; others attacked. Some criticized the debate itself in their comments. One of those, a religious activist, wrote, “The woman is almost 80 years old. Why do you all care about this? Chavez’s mother deserves to be kissed on her forehead.”

Ali Hashem is an Arab journalist who is serving as Al Mayadeen news network’s chief correspondent. Until March 2012, Ali was Al Jazeera‘s war correspondent, and prior to Al Jazeera he was a senior journalist at the BBC. 


head_up_ass E

| New Book: “Wipe Israel off the Map” Statement by Iranian Leader was Gross Distortion!

The inflammatory statement that Israel should be “wiped off the map” attributed to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “was never made” by him, a distinguished Canadian economist says. in a recently released book entitled: Towards A World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War

To begin with, says Professor Michel Chossudovsky of the University of Ottawa, the words were not those of Ahmadinejad when he uttered them on October 25, 2005.

Rather, he was quoting the late Ayatollah Khomeini, and the point of Khomeini’s thrust was not to wipe Israel, the nation, “off the map”, but to change the Israeli regime, which is far different. “The rumor was fabricated by the American media with a view to discrediting Iran’s head of state and providing a justification for waging an all-out war on Iran,” Chossudovsky writes.

Examining the actual quote word by word, Ahmadinejad said in Farsi:

“Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad.”

Readers will recognize the word “rezhim-e” which translates into English as “regime” and will note that the word “Israel” does not appear in the quotation. What Ahmadinejad did use was the specific phrase “rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods” which is a reference to “the regime occupying Jerusalem.” (For details, see analysis of Arash Norouzi)

As for wiping Israel “off the map,” the word “map” was never used, nor could it be as the Persian word for “map” is “nagsheh,” and it was not contained anywhere in Ahmadinejad’s speech. (Norouzi, op cit)

“Nor was the western phrase ‘wipe off’ ever mentioned,” Chossudovsky writes. “Yet we are led to believe that Iran’s President threatened ‘to wipe Israel off the map’ despite never having uttered the words ‘map,’ ‘wipe out’ or even ‘Israel.’”

The full Ahmadinejad quote translated directly into English is “The Imam (Khomeini) said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,” Chossudovsky writes.

The word for word translation is as follows:

Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) shghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from).(Norouzi, op cit)

The thrust of Ahmadinejad’s statement was a need for “regime change” in Israel, says Chossudovsky:  “Compare Ahmadinejad’s bland statement on ‘regime change’ with that of former Deputy Defense Secy. Paul Wolfowitz, who called for ‘ending states that sponsor terrorism.’ What Wolfowitz had in mind was the outright destruction of nation-states.”

“The alleged ‘wiped off the map’ statement has served not only to justify a pre-emptive attack against Iran but also to subdue and tame the antiwar movement.” It has succeeded in achieving this as in the U.S. “there are very few antiwar events focusing on U.S.-Israeli threats directed against Iran,” Chossudovsky writes. He adds:

“Iran is viewed by many within the antiwar movement as a potential aggressor. Its non-existent nuclear weapons are considered a threat to global security.”

The news article reporting the Iranian President’s speech was written by Nazila Fathi and appeared on Oct. 27, 2005 in The New York Times.  The lead sentence of that article was as follows:

“TEHRAN — Iran’s conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be ‘wiped off the map’ and that attacks by Palestinians would destroy it, the ISNA press agency reported.”

Chossudovsky lifts the veil of distortion concerning the Iranian leaders’ comments in his new book, Towards A World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War (Global Research).

The author’s analysis focusses on how the “Wipe off the Map” statement has been used to portray Iran as a threat to Israel’s security, thereby justifying the formulation of a US-Israeli preemptive nuclear attack against the Islamic Republic.

Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War by Michel Chossudovsky

WWIII Scenario

“Death by radiation is gradual, and the effects could spread,” said the author of Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War.


Moral support:
Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad sharing a light moment with Prof Chossudovsky (left) at the launch of his book, “Towards a World War III Scenario”, at the Perdana Global Peace Foundation in Kuala Lumpur. Looking on is Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Ali (right).


“Professor Chossudovsky’s hard-hitting and compelling book explains why and how we must immediately undertake a concerted and committed campaign to head off this impending cataclysmic demise of the human race and planet earth. This book is required reading for everyone in the peace movement around the world.”
Francis A. Boyle, Professor of International Law, University of Illinois College of Law

The global anti-war movement must use this book as a counter-propaganda tool against the Military Industrial Complex’s war agenda. It should be everyone’s No. 1 priority “Must Read”.
-Matthias Chang, distinguished Malaysian lawyer and author of Future Fast Forward

This detailed and highly documented book is essential reading at a critical time in history. In it, Dr. Chossudovsky unveils a startling analysis of the new policy for the actual use of nuclear weapons as “instruments of peace” on countries such as Iran and North Korea. The media grants legitimacy to these “pre-emptive military actions” for self-defense, portraying the perpetrators, who are engaged in a profit-driven agenda for global dominance, as victims of evil in the “clash of civilizations”.
Elizabeth Woodworth, author of The November Deep

| Exploding the Myth of the Iranian Bomb!

Exploding the Myth of the Iranian Bomb ~ Tim Black 

How much evidence is there that Iran is developing deadly WMDs, as Western leaders constantly claim? Not much at all. None, in fact.

Upon his presidential election victory in 2008, Barack Obama received a congratulatory letter from the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Obama’s response was not exactly gracious. ‘Let me repeat and state what I stated during the course of the campaign’, he told the international media, ‘Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, I believe, is unacceptable. We have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening.’

They have proved to be telling words. Over the past few years, the international obsession with stopping Iran from building its very own nuclear weapon appears to have developed an almost internal dynamic quite apart from what the Iranian government may or may not be doing. In battling Iran’s aspiration towards nuclear warheads, real or not, Western leaders seem to have found a cause, a Good Fight. If Iran’s nuclear ambition didn’t exist, you get the feeling that Western governments would be only too happy to invent it. Which, in part, they may have done.

Take Obama’s speech from July 2010, when he announced yet further sanctions against Iran: ‘We are striking at the heart of the Iranian government’s ability to fund and develop its nuclear programme. We’re showing the Iranian government that its actions have consequences. And if it persists, the pressure will continue to mount, and its isolation will continue to deepen. There should be no doubt – the United States and the international community are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.’

Or take French president Nicolas Sarkozy speaking in August 2011: ‘Iran’s military nuclear and ballistic ambitions constitute a growing threat that may lead to a preventive attack against Iranian sites.’ And just this weekend, the UK foreign secretary William Hague was similarly angered by Iran’s apparent attempt to build a nuclear weapon, calling it ‘the most serious round of nuclear proliferation since nuclear weapons were invented’. Talking of the onset of a ‘new Cold War in the Middle East without necessarily all the safety mechanisms’, Hague described Iran’s intentions as ‘a disaster in world affairs’.

It has not just been fearful, bellicose rhetoric either. In November last year, the US decided to add to its raft of 30-year-old sanctions by imposing new measures against non-Iranian companies that may merely have aided Iran’s oil and petrochemical companies, while the UK and Canada were busy ordering all financial institutions to stop doing business with their Iranian counterparts. Not wanting to miss out, the EU announced its own list of punishments against Iran in January, including an oil embargo. Given that the EU constitutes nearly 20 per cent of Iran’s oil export market, this will hit Iran’s oil-dependent economy, not to mention the lives of millions of ordinary Iranians, very hard indeed.

So what’s driving this obsession, exactly? Evidence of a clear and present danger? Proof of nefarious intent? Well, no, not really. Hence when US secretary of defence Leon Panetta was asked last month whether Iran was actually trying to develop a nuclear weapon, he responded in unambiguously ambiguous terms: ‘No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability.’ A nuclear capability? This, as it turns out, is not exactly a threat to world peace. In fact, it goes hand-in-hand with the development of nuclear power as a civilian energy source. As Yousaf Butt explains in Foreign Policy magazine, any country with a civilian nuclear sector has, ‘by default’, a nuclear capability. In fact, in Panetta’s terms, Iran is doing no more than what Brazil or Argentina are also doing by developing a civilian nuclear sector – and both Brazil and Argentina, like Iran, do not permit full International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections.

But what of the IAEA report published in November which, in the words of the US State Department, claimed to show that Iran ‘has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device’? Again, firm evidence, let alone a smoking gun, was found wanting. As Seymour Hersh pointed out in the New Yorker, the report, aside from a few computer-modelled predictions, drew on virtually no post-2003 intelligence. In fact, its main source of information was a stolen laptop of dubious, possibly Israeli provenance. Little wonder that at a Senate hearing this month, the director of US national intelligence, James R Clapper, admitted that he was not convinced that Iran was trying to build a nuclear weapon. ‘There are certain things they have not yet done and have not done for some time’, he said, in an allusion to the specific steps necessary to prepare a nuclear device.

All of this – the lack of evidence, the lack of knowledge – lends the Western obsession with Iran’s supposed dream of a nuclear arsenal an unreal air. It seems to have less to do with Iran itself, than with the existential needs of Western leaders desperate for a way in which to demonstrate their moral authority on a global stage. And what better way to do this than by chastising the pantomime villain of Iran, a one-time member of Obama’s predecessor’s ‘axis of evil’.

In many ways, this should not be a surprise. The obsession with who can have nuclear weapons and who cannot, institutionalised in the international Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the late 1960s, was always informed by an attempt to justify and maintain the global divide between the West and the rest. Back then, with anti-colonial movements in Africa and Asia having cast off their imperial fetters, and many in the West itself questioning the rectitude of older racial notions of Empire, a new non-racial framework was sought to justify Western superiority. So it was that in this context of a withered colonialism that the NPT acquired its original meaning. It helped to reframe the global order in terms of responsible states and fragile, unstable states, between the militarily responsible and the militarily unpredictable.

Whether consciously or not, Obama’s administration drew upon the idea of non-proliferation as a source of international moral authority right from the start of his presidency. In spring 2009, for instance, Obama set out his ‘agenda to seek the goal of a world without nuclear weapons’ to much media fanfare. We were told that the US had a ‘mission’, a ‘moral responsibility’, to rid the world of the nuclear threat. And then at the Nuclear Security Summit the following year, 46 world leaders joined Obama to sign up to new commitments to nuclear non-proliferation and to share in the US-forged dream of a ‘world without nuclear weapons’.

Iran’s current status as No.1 threat to world peace owes much to this US-led, Western focus on non-proliferation. Iran has provided the likes of Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy with the morally irresponsible Other against which they can affirm their own moral authority, as the responsible possessors of nuclear weapons. This is the key dynamic driving the increasingly hysterical attitude towards Iran’s nuclear programme: a quest for moral authority on the international stage, not Iran’s putative quest for a really powerful bomb. And so they keep sending in IAEA inspectors to demonstrate their role as the world’s moral guardians. And so, in turn, the Iranian authorities resent the inspectors’ presence, as shown this week by the IAEA inspectorate’s non-admission to particular sites.

Not that Iran’s rulers have not played their part in this surreal, rapidly escalating conflict. Just as Obama et al are keen to use nuclear non-proliferation as a means to demonstrate Western powers’ moral superiority, so the Iranian government is keen to use its nuclear-power programme as proof both of its own strength and its refusal to kowtow before meddling Westerners. Hence, the state unveiling on Iranian national TV of some new uranium enrichment centrifuges. Ahmadinejad’s speech on live TV showed that he was less interested in nuclear technology than in defying those foreign states that pose as his betters: ‘The era of bullying nations has passed. The arrogant powers cannot monopolise nuclear technology. They tried to prevent us by issuing sanctions and resolutions but failed… our nuclear path will continue.’

There is one thing worth remembering throughout all this posing and counter-posturing over nuclear weapons: to this day, there remains only one country that has ever deployed a nuclear weapon against a civilian population. And it is not Iran.



Watch what happens when 28-year-old Cpl. Jesse Thorsen touches a neuralgic nerve by warning against nitpicking wars and by suggesting that Israel can take care of itself. LOL!




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