Put Zaheer Abbas in the dock

30 August 2006 |

Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove awarded five runs to England (penalised Pakistan) as they found out the ball has been tampered with. Pakistan did not stop play at that point. There was no fury, national pride, no nothing. The game went on. During the tea-break, in the comforts of the pavilion, a storm started to gather in the Pakistani tea-cup. Suddenly, Inzi and his team realised that it is their national pride that has been questioned not by the umpires but by one umpire - Darrell Hair!

Pakistani team, by refusing to go out and play -- let the game down. After a little while, Pakistani team came down to continue playing cricket. It is a fact that Pakistani players played after being penalised, and they expressed a willingness to play after the umpires decided to call the match off.

Something happened in the Pakistani dressing room. Was there a call from Pakistan -- asking them to stop playing? If you check the TV images, you'll notice that Inzi is clearly confused about what is going on. It is a completely different matter that Inzi has to bear the responsibility for the silly politics that was played out in the dressing room.

There is clear evidence of Zaheer Abbas talking on his mobile phone -- as he walked in and out of the dressing room. ICC stipulates that mobile phone cannot be taken into the dressing room (After the match-fixing episode that tarnished cricket forever). Who will take action against Zaheer Abbas? Why was he carrying a mobile phone? Was he passing on information to bookies?

Azhar's three dropped catches

27 August 2006 |

I came across this article written by Ayaz Memon in DNA Sunday.

LK Advani’s decision to revive the Ram Mandir issue during his current rathyatra brings back vivid memories of December 6, 1992 — when the Babri Masjid was demolished — and its aftermath.

We were in Cape Town where India was playing a one-day international against South Africa in a day-night game. During the break between innings or thereabouts, news filtered in (through the All India Radio commentary team, I think) of the mayhem in Ayodhya. There was hushed silence for a while among the Indians in the press enclosure, followed by agitated discussions, and then a flurry of calls back home to check if everything was all right.

When the match resumed after the break, India were fielding and seemed to be making things difficult for the South African batsmen till things suddenly began to go haywire. India’s best fielder — and captain then — Mohammed Azharuddin dropped three catches, two of them skiers, which he would normally have held in his sleep. The stranglehold over the South Africans had collapsed, and India crashed to defeat.

It is unknown whether the dramatic developments back home had anything to do with Azhar’s distracted performance — though how he could have been unaffected is difficult to imagine — but when I returned to India in late January 1993, after being stranded in Nairobi for a few days because of riots in Mumbai, there were a fair number of people I knew who had been devastated.

Very touching commentary of life after the Babri Masjid demolition. Memon could very well be guilty of batting for the tainted Azhar (matchfixing?) - I remember seeing those three dropped catches. To say that the news of Babri Masjid demolition during the innings break could have distracted the India captain is a bit too much to digest.

Babri Masjid came down at about 1100 hrs Indian time on the 06th December 1992. The match in Cape Town was a day/night game on the 07th of December. The innings break would have been at about 1800 hrs IST. That was 31 hours after the incident.

Maybe Ayaz bowled a doosra at the readers. Or could it be that CricInfo has the wrong date on the scorecard.

If anyone has the right answer, post a comment.

Giving the game a bad name


On 21st August, it was published on the ICC website:

Changing the condition of the ball

Inzamam has been charged, as captain, with a breach of Level 2.10 of the ICC Code which relates to changing the condition of the ball in breach of Law 42.3 of the Laws of Cricket.

This charge was brought by the on-field umpires Billy Doctrove and Darrell Hair on Sunday.

If Inzamam is found guilty of breaching this provision he faces a fine of between 50 and 100 per cent of his match fee and/or a one Test or two ODI ban.

Bringing the game into disrepute

Inzamam has also been charged, as captain, with a breach of C2 at Level 3 of the Code which relates to conduct that brings the player or the game of cricket into disrepute.

This charge was brought by the on-field umpires Billy Doctrove and Darrell Hair along with the third and fourth umpires Peter Hartley and Trevor Jesty following a meeting on Monday morning.


If the ICC rewards Hair for keeping quiet, it means Pakistan is guilty and the ICC is covering up. Shouldn't Billy Doctrove also get paid for keeping quiet?

The umpire at the heart of cricket's ball-tampering scandal who demanded $500,000 (£254,000) to resign is likely to be paid off but to be banned from talking about the affair.
By refusing to take to the field after the tea break, Inzi and his boys made a big mistake. Later on, Inzi and his players made to the ground to continue playing... just that the umpires had by then awarded the game to England.

If it was everything about national pride which Inzi and PCB is talking about, why did they come back to the ground to continue playing without resolving the ball-tampering issue?

Looks like the ICC do not wish to punish Inzi or Hair. They want everyone to smile and be happy. The only way the ICC will ever achieve it is by punishing themselves by disbanding the organisation. Cricket needs a better authority to administer it, and a better adjudication system to deal with charges such as ball-tampering, doping and bringing the game to disrepute.

Strictly speaking, if one of the international players were to call Percy Sonn an idiot -- it can be construed as bringing the game to disrepute.

In India, if you criticise a court judgment or even a judge-- you can be arrested and put behind bars on charges of 'contempt of court.' The judge considers himself to be the justice itself; hence he is an untouchable. If you appeal successfully and get the judgment overturned by a higher court -- there is absolutely no contempt.

Laughable isn't it?

By delaying the 'hearing' on the issue and letting the media circus go on and on. Imran Khan called Hair a Hitler, some journalists called Hair a racist (everyone conveniently forgets poor ole Billy who has a 50% share in the decision making "This charge was brought by the on-field umpires Billy Doctrove and Darrell Hair on Sunday.")

The ICC brought the game to further disrepute by disclosing internal emails; the email correspondence between the ICC and Darrell Hair.

Are all the ICC internal emails archived on the ICC website for public consumption? Speed's speed for setting new levels of transparency is pretty much similar to the king wearing the transparent attire.

Not everything that matters to the public is made available: the ICC has a certain Umpire Assessment system, which is not published on the website or given to the media.

In this whole tampered ball controversy, the current ICC management has discredited itself and the game of cricket.

Charges of 'bringing the game to disrepute' and 'covering up a crime' has to be levelled against the current ICC management. In fact, before the trial, thee entire top management should be kicked out and fresh elections have to be held.

Former Scotland yard chief - Sir Paul Condon should be asked to search for the ball in question, and the ball has to be sent to the university in Perth to verify whether it has been tampered or not.

Darrell Hair finds some support

Under-fire Darrell Hair received support from a former Indian colleague S Venkatraghavan, who said it was unfair to doubt the Australian umpire's integrity as he did not seek controversies purposely.

"Umpiring is a tough job, decisions are to be made in split second and you have to go by what you've seen by eyes," said Venkatraghavan, who retired as an Elite umpire a couple of years back.

"Hair does not seek controversy purposely, but yes his decisions are controversial sometimes as he gives an impression that he is arrogant on the field," he told a TV channel on Saturday.

Venkatraghavan justified Hair and his fellow umpire Billy Doctrove's action which led to Pakistan's forfeiture of the fourth and final cricket Test against England a week ago.

"What happened on the field that day was Pakistan refused to play and the umpires had no other way to go about... (But) it is difficult to comprehend and the episode is difficult to forget," he said.

Cricket's big cover up act

26 August 2006 |

ICC wants to shove the ball tampering controversy under the magic Arabian carpet in their Dubai office.

Malcolm Speed the CEO of ICC says, "Did the Pakistan team change the nature of the ball in an illegal manner under the Laws of Cricket and did its refusal to take the field after the tea interval bring the game into disrepute?"

He must be kidding, why is he having second thoughts when all it takes is to take a look at the ball. If he finds it smooth and shiny, he should get rid of the controversial Hair.

Further evidence of ICC's spineless character was revealed today when Speed said, "We also need some advice about the power of the executive board to in effect overturn a properly laid Code of Conduct charge by an umpire."

If the ball was not tampered why didn't Prcoter or ICC do anything for all these days? Where is that ball now? This is a major cover up -- no transparency at all.

Whether these half-baked lawyers are competent to run the game is what everyone should be discussing.

The weirdest thing about this issue is that ICC is an executive body. When faced with a tough situation, Mr. Speed comes up with this statement, "This has become a big issue, an international issue, and there are all sorts of ramifications that have occurred that we wish hadn't occurred."

This has become an issue just cause the ball was not shown to the public. ICC cannot be the police and the judge.

Percy Sonn, President, ICC, says: "The two teams, England and Pakistan, have produced some superb cricket this summer and the best result for everyone now would be for them to produce more of the same in the forthcoming NatWest Series.

"We have been assured by the Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman, Mr Shaharyar Khan, that his side intends to contest the series as scheduled and we welcome that decision as the first step on the road to a return to normalcy.

"I now call on both sides to go out and put a smile back on the face of the world's cricket lovers with some superb action and remind everyone why this is such a great game."

We just don't have to hear from a Percy Sonn whether the game is great or not. I love this game, more than you do Percy. What Percy is saying is that both sides should 'put a smile back on the face of the cricket lovers'. Big cover up is what ICC wants.

Again, all he has to do is stop scratching his balls and look at the tampered ball. If Hair was wrong, fire him. If Hair was right, ban Pakistan for six months for cheating.

Wasn't there another South African, one Percy would know too well, Mike Procter, who had a look at that ball on that particularly dramatic day at The Oval?

By publishing Hair's internal emails, ICC has brought the game to disrepute.

There is an effort to deflect the main issue here, which is all about the tampered ball. It is not clearly whether Hair is a racist, whether Hair is an idiot to have emailed to the bigger idiots in the ICC, whether half a million is a decent compensation for an umpire to be hung out to dry... etc etc.

The current ICC Management is a bunch of jokers. Why there be legal advice and hearing and all that? Photographs and video recordings of the condition of the ball should be published first.

How can we expect this bunch of idiots to save the game?

The Police Raj of ICC is similar to the dictatorship of a certain military ruler who overthrew democracy and captured power in Pakistan. Yes, ICC and Pakistan will understand that sort of language.

This is the time to save cricket.

A Hair and a tampered ball.

22 August 2006 |

Umpire's decision is final. Every cricket player knows that. If given out, no batsman indulges in a sit-in hoping that the umpire would reverse his decision.

Final. Full Stop.

At the Oval, on a Sunday afternoon, the umpires were convinced that the Pakistani players played a little too much with the ball – which means they tampered the ball to make it reverse-swing.

Pakistani skipper also removed Umar Gul from the bowling attack. Did he do the unthinkable to the cricket ball like Shoaib Akhtar, Waqar Younis and Mohammed Akram did in the last few years? Not to forget the tricks of the great Imran 'bottle-cap' Khan, who says he mastered the trick in the English soil – while playing county cricket for Sussex.

Too many Champions and Winners have been caught doping in the last two months. Floyd Landis, Justin Gatlin, Marion Jones – all have turned the whole idea of participating in sport into a shameful act of winning at all costs.

But hey, Pakistan cricket team hates umpire Hair. The argument is that Hair is prejudiced against all Asian cricketers. ICC has an evaluation system for all international umpires, if found inefficient – Hair would have been drinking beer at his favourite pub in England (Darrel Hair bid adieu to Australia to enjoy the pleasures of the different seasons in England).

If a certain has a problem with a certain umpire based on racial or historial prejudices... then those players should be playing backyard cricket. It is amazing how all these experts have been accusing ICC for being ineffective. ICC is the parent organisation, which is formed by the board officials of all the international playing nations. ECB, PCB, BCCI, Cricket Australia and the rest form the ICC. To suggest that ICC is a creation of the CIA/FBI or a company that manufactures WMDs to destroy innocent Asian cricketers is way too wrong.

When Wayne Rooney tried to tamper the balls of the Portugese player (who definitely play-acted as if he had been castrated), the Argentinian referee (Remember England and Argentina have a history of hatred thanks to the Falkland War) did not hesitate to show Rooney a red card. Rooney had to go, the Argentinian's decision was final. If you wish to complicate things further, as some of the experts and officials have tried to do after Pakistan forfeited the game, what happened to Rooney can also be described as the result of a Catholic-Protestant divide.

The Argentinians hate the Brits, on top of it – It was a catholic Cristiano Ronaldo who urged the referee Horacio Elizondo, who is also a catholic, to eject the protestant Wayne Rooney.

I just cannot see any class/race prejudice in what happened at the Oval. I don't see any conspiracy on the part of umpire Hair to deny Rupert Murdoch another day of cricket telecast and advertisement revenue.

Geoff Boycott writes, “The ICC must be blind or stupid not to have realised that there is history between Darrell Hair, the umpire who accused them of changing the nature of the ball, and Pakistan.” Oh well Boycs, Fifa should have never asked an Argentinian to referee England’s game!

Why look for a conspiracy when there has been a crime? The evidence of that crime can be seen on the tampered ball.

Another crime is that the game has been tanked. From a winning position, Pakistan threw the game away. The odds for an England win was so slim that many bookies would have lost a lot of money. No one would have expected Pakistan to pull of a loss from the jaws of victory in such bizarre fashion. Inzi has done crazier things in his career, once he ‘innocently walked back on to his stumps’ after smacking a six. His dismissal triggered a bizarre collapse and South Africa won the one-day game. For the record this game was played in Morocco and it was also the last time any international game was played at that venue. ICC had enough of it.

Almost every former cricketer and even the president of Pakistan have an opinion on the current crisis: Blame Hair, save Pakistan’s skin, and screw the ball.

Jonathan Agnew is the one person who has bothered to give a sensible explanation:

The penalty is imposed by the on-field umpires, and as long as they are as sure as they can be that the ball has been tampered with, they can act without any consultation with the captain of the fielding team.

Ball-tampering is notoriously difficult to prove.

In this case, there is no evidence from television cameras to support the umpires, and it is very hard to tell the difference between an innocent scuff mark, or deliberate skulduggery.

However, the umpires are trained to detect the difference where possible, and Pakistan's claim that the ball had been damaged by being hit to the boundary - and for six - is not entirely credible.

The ball in question had not been hit for four during the previous three overs, and was never hit for six.

Nasser Hussain on the other hand, probably coached by the Murdoch spin-doctors says,
“Did Darrell Hair actually see a member of the Pakistan team tampering with a cricket ball? Has he got proof? If he hasn't then he has made a massive mistake.”
Nasser is an honourable man, so was Brutus. It is not a must that Romans had to see Brutus stabbing Caesar. Is it a must that the judge has to witness a murder to punish the murderer? Nasser Hussain, the proof is evident: there is a dead body which tells us there has been a crime; in this case the dead body is the cricket ball. Another tragedy for the game is that Hussainism has replaced Sidhuism.

Hussain goes on to say, “If I had been accused of cheating in this way then, as long as I was sure of our innocence, I would have done exactly the same thing as Pakistan.”

According to Brutus, he killed Caesar for the greater good of Rome. Clearly Brutus didn’t think he cheated Caesar!

Simon Barnes, the Chief Sports Writer of The Times came up with pathetic piece of observation.

Cricket is tremendously keen on the higher morality. That is why controversies in cricket are so virulent, so far-reaching, and raise such extraordinarily high emotions. Yesterday, a small judgment about a small infringement of the laws created a day of outrage, distress and fury at the Brit Oval yesterday.

Pakistan were not accused of ball-tampering yesterday. They were judged and found guilty by the umpire, Darrell Hair, as they sought to halt England’s second-innings resurgence. This is a profoundly serious business in cricketing terms. It is not like calling a woman a tease. It is like calling her a whore. Well, there are women who are whores, but you’d better be bloody sure of your facts before making the accusation.

It’s not the legality of her actions you are calling into question, but the morality. Pakistan were punished not for breaking the law but for — as cricketing people see it — attempting to subvert the higher morality of sport and human conduct. No wonder there is a fair amount of distress.

It’s not the legality of her actions you are calling into question, but the morality. Pakistan were punished not for breaking the law but for — as cricketing people see it — attempting to subvert the higher morality of sport and human conduct. No wonder there is a fair amount of distress.

… Hair, the umpire at the sharp end of this extraordinary incident, knew when he made his decision. He knew it was nothing like telling a batsman: look, you got a touch, you should have walked, now I’m telling you to go. He knew that it was going to cause a massive rumpus. He knew he was calling the Pakistan players the equivalent of a whore.

No wonder Simon Barnes is a faithful slave of the Murdoch Empire. Maybe in Barnes’s Victorian England he finds only female whores! What sort of morality is he trying to slap on the face of humanity by writing these words, “Well, there are women who are whores, but you’d better be bloody sure of your facts before making the accusation.”?

I think writers in England are more qualified to respond to Barnes accusing female prostitutes of breaking the sacred moral code of Old Blighty. I have always wondered why these sexist beasts get away by accusing women of a moral crime. Is it because she accepts money in return for a sexual favour? If prostitution is an immoral act, a crime, then the man who buys sex should be punished first.

Simon Barnes proclaims, “Well, there are women who are whores.” I really don't know what morality Barnes upholds by suggesting that Hair knew “he was calling the Pakistan players the equivalent of a whore.”

I just wish people like Barnes and all others who are crying wolf and desperately trying to save the pride of the Pakistani cricket team realise – there is a tampered ball. And that the umpire made a decision based on the tampered ball. He did not award the game to England, all he did was to change the ball and award England five runs. Hair did his job as per the rules. If a group of former and current cricketers want to play under a regime of flexible rules – of appeasing television channels and sponsors – of putting up a smiling face for more money – they are more than welcome to do it in their backyard.

If you want to play Test cricket – stick to the rules. Ian Chappell says the law is an ass – there are too many laws that are useless. That doesn’t mean captains, former captains, and TV pundits can decide on an ad-hoc basis how rules should be interpreted.

It is interesting what Pakistani international player Shahid Afridi said in February this year, “If any team tampers with the ball then I don’t think there’s anything wrong in that.” In fact, Afridi wants ICC to make ball tampering legal, “They shouldn't make it so official that teams start doing it from the 3rd or 4th over itself. I don’t think any rule can make it official. But you should be allowed to do some tampering after the 30th or 40th over. The game and its rules are changing so this should also be allowed.”

Oh well, I wouldn’t take Afridi’s words too seriously. He is a young boy, who has been stuck on seventeen for the last ten years.

The law, for now, is crystal clear. You can’t mess around with the cricket ball.

ICC has the tampered ball in their custody. The question now is not whether Simon Barnes finds a moral whore or whether Nasser Hussain will find any substantial proof to convince him in the SKY archives (Murdoch’s Fox News was the first to declare that George Bush won Florida). The big question is – does ICC have the balls to kick Pakistan for breaking the rules?

A Tamil Sri Lankan Tragedy

20 August 2006 |

Wish Sri Lanka returns to peace. The war has been too costly for the island nation - too many innocent people killed. All in the name of power and control.

Vallipunam: A Sri Lankan Tragedy

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

"The Sinhalese polity had two choices. One is to treat the Tamils as a fifth column to be degraded and marginalised by a mixture of violence, attrition and deceit. The second is to trust them, take the plunge into federalism and build up a relationship of amity." The UTHR (Ketheeswaran Loganathan and the Tamil dissidents’ dilemma – 15.8.2006)

The Tigers say that the Vallipunam air raid targeted an orphanage hosting a leadership and first aid training workshop for school girls of Mullaitivu and Killinochchi. The government contends that it was a LTTE training camp for child soldiers. Either way we can be sure that the young participants did not have much of a choice about their presence in Vallipunam at 7 am on 14th August 2006. If the LTTE is correct, the participants would have been ordered to attend the ‘workshop’ with no excuses tolerated; something the Tigers have been doing to schoolchildren throughout the peace process, with nary a protest from Wickremesinghe, Bandaranaike or Rajapakse regimes.

If the government is correct, these were children conscripted by the Tigers. One way or the other, the girls who perished in Vallipunam was not guilty of any crime; their only crime was to be Tamil children, in the wrong place at the wrong time. Their deaths symbolise not only the brutality of the conflict but also the hypocrisy of both the LTTE and the regime in their dealings with Tamil people. Neither the LTTE, the self-declared liberator of the Tamils, nor the Lankan state, which claims the Tamils as its citizens, cares about the basic rights of the Tamils, including the right to life. The Tigers want Tamil corpses and the government has no compunction about providing them.

In December 2001 the newly elected Wickremesinghe administration declared a ceasefire. The Tigers responded positively. But the guns did not fall silent in the North and the East. During the peace process the Tigers carried out a concerted campaign to wipe out their Tamil opponents and to cow the Tamil civilians into submission. This was made possible by a MoU which paid scant heed to the basic human rights of the North Eastern Tamils and enslaved the Tamil people to the Tigers. The South and the international community wanted peace at any cost and were not about to let the rights of the Tamils to stand in the way of achieving this overarching goal by appeasing the Tigers.

Now the pendulum has swung to the other extreme. The right of impunity which was bestowed on the Tigers under the ceasefire is in danger of being transferred to the Lankan Forces in the Fourth Eelam War. The execution style killing of five students in Trincomalee in April, together with a number of other incidents in which civilians became the target of counter-violence by the Lankan Forces, is indicative of this disturbing possibility. Obviously the regime does not understand the vampiric nature of the Tiger and that it feeds on the blood of the Tamil people, especially children. The Vallipunam raid which caused the deaths of scores of young Tamil girls is not only an act of immorality which demeans the Lankan state; it is also a rare propaganda coup for the Tigers which they, with their customary skill, are using to the maximum. Ultimately this atrocity will benefit neither Sri Lanka nor its security but the LTTE and the project of Tiger Eelam. The fact that the Tamil Nadu state assembly roundly and unanimously condemned an action by the Lankan state is indicative of the bonanza the Tigers received from the Lankan Air Force, literally out of the blues.

The Tragedy of the Child Soldier

The MoU sacrificed the North Eastern Tamils to the appeasement needs of the Sinhalese and the fascistic designs of the Tigers. Its biggest victims were Tamil children. Child conscription was one of the main preoccupations of the Tigers during the last ceasefire. Using the opportunities afforded by the MoU, which did not contain any clauses safeguarding Tamil children from conscription, the LTTE ventured unhindered into government controlled areas (in the memorable words of Father Harry Miller 'like an ogre periodically descending from a mountain') and took away Tamil children from schools and homes. The regime, the SLMM and the Southern society turned a blind eye to this outrage while the Tamil Diaspora (with its own children safely in schools and universities) justified and celebrated it. The peaceniks ignored this abomination in the name of peace while the patriots did not care because it was Tamil kids. The only ones who cared were a handful of individuals (like Father Miller and Prof. Harendra Silva of National Child Protection Authority) and organisations (such as the UTHR, the Human Rights Watch and the Amnesty International). When the AI raised the issue of child conscription in early 2002, Defence Minister Tilak Marapone in an interview with the BBC, dismissed the reports as 'unconfirmed gossip' of which the Government had no evidence. (UTHR – Special Report No. 14 – 20th July 2002). The rest of the South (including those patriots who are raring to defeat the Tigers over the corpses of Tamil children) maintained a deafening silence.

Not only did the government not try to stop child proscription; it also permitted the Tigers to give orders to government officials even in the cleared areas. The LTTE, for instance, was permitted to demand the attendance of school children at their various functions and programmes. When parents and the teachers protested, the state did not come to their aid. When the Tigers intimidated or murdered those who protested (including two school principles in Jaffna) the culprits were allowed to get away scot-free. All in the name of peace. It took the untiring efforts of a handful of Tamil and international organisations, notably the UTHR, the Human Rights Watch and the AI, and the late Lakshman Kadirgamar to bring the crime of child conscription to the attention of the international community. The EU and the Canadian ban on the LTTE was in part a result of the efforts of these individuals and organisations, all of them non-Sinhala.

Let us assume that the government is right and the Vallipunam was a Tiger training centre and the victims were child soldiers. Civilised states do not treat child criminals the same way they treat adult criminals. Children are punished but qualitatively less severely than adults; the assumption is that the degree of culpability is less precisely because they are children. The same principle should be applicable to child soldiers, particularly if, as we claim, these are conscripts, taken away by the Tigers against their wishes and cowed or brainwashed into obedience. True, in a fire-fight this principle is hard to apply; in a situation of combat it is not possible to wonder whether the enemy attacking you is a child or an adult. But this principle can and should apply in the case of predetermined air raids, especially in a theatre where fighting is not taking place. It is one thing to kill child soldiers when they are engaged in battle. It is quite another thing to deliberately target conscripted children in training camps (the same difference as attacking navy crafts on patrol and the targeting of the Pearl II cruiser which was carrying 700 troops on home leave, a difference we were quick to capitalise on, and rightly so). The first can be excused as a sad necessity of war; the second is an act of terror which makes a mockery of our entire campaign against child conscription.

An act of terror is an act of terror irrespective of the identity of its author. If an act of terror is committed by terrorists it is reprehensible, though not exactly remarkable; terrorists are terrorists precisely because terrorism is their modus operandi. However when a democratic state commits an act of terror, it is not only reprehensible but also a cause for serious concern because it can indicate the future trajectory of that state. Mistakes happen in wars; the Vallipunam raid which killed scores of young girls could have been a mistake; but the subsequent attempts to justify it, implying that any Tamil child forcibly given even a limited training by the Tigers is a legitimate target, even out of the battlefield, is a reason for concern. This 'justification' can be used by a segment of the state to target Tamil children indiscriminately, in the name of fighting the LTTE.

The Indian Factor

The Tigers are trying hard to woo India. This is obviously a strategic goal. The LTTE attack on the Pakistani High Commissioner (which the Tigers have not bothered to deny, as they usually do, in the case of high profile crimes with political implications) could be a part of this grand plan to win over or neutralise India, if not now, at least under a different, a more pro-Hindu and anti-Muslim administration. India suspects a Pakistani involvement in her own terrorist problem; the BJP has been very vocal about this suspicion. According to the BJP President Rajnath Singh "It is a known fact that Pakistan is at the centre of all terrorist activities. India should ask Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to dismantle it on its own, but if he finds it difficult then he should ask for India's help. But even if he fails to act then India should take the international community into confidence and dismantle the terrorist camps being run on the Pakistani soil" (The Hindu – 15.8.2006). It is possible, that the Tigers, by targeting a Pakistani diplomat, were sending a signal to India in general and the BJP in particular that they can be a willing and an able ally in India’s own battle against terrorism.

Incidents such as the Vallipunam killing are bonuses which will help the Tigers in this task of wooing India. Probably for the first time since the killing of Rajiv Gandhi, the Tamil Nadu state assembly has unanimously condemned an action of the Lankan government in the strongest possible terms. Describing the air raid as 'barbaric, uncivilised and inhuman' the state assembly observed a two minutes silence in honour of the victims. The Lankan government has given to the Tigers on a platter something they have tried hard, albeit unsuccessfully, to achieve – causing a change in the political and public opinion in Tamil Nadu against Sri Lanka (and thus for the LTTE). A few more incidents of the Vallipunam sort and we will push Tamilnadu to where it was during the First Eelam War; Delhi and the world will not take long to follow.

Whatever its military successes, Sri Lanka is not doing well in the 'war of perceptions'. And in winning the 'war of perceptions' superior fire-power can be a hindrance, as the fate of Israel demonstrates. When Israel commenced its all out war against the Hezbollah the Sinhala supremacists rejoiced, dreaming of emulating the Jewish state. They should take a good look at the results of that war – a vastly more popular and stronger Hezbollah, a direct result of Israel’s air war which did not discriminate against the armed enemy and the civilians; and a peace deal which is a politico-propaganda defeat to Israel. Hezbollah is emerging from the rubble of South Lebanon as heroes; Lebanon’s Christian Prime Minister has firmly refused to disarm the Shite group hailing them as the only organisation which stood up to Israel; and Sheik Hassan Nasrallah is the most popular leader in the Arab world today. That is what Israel’s indiscriminate warfare did for Hezbollah and did to the Jewish state. If we continue on our present course, if there are more Vallipunams, we will hand the Tigers a similar victory. There is nothing that helps the Tigers as much as the corpses of dead Tamil men, women and children, killed by the 'enemy'.

Vallipunam is a Tamil tragedy; it is also a Sri Lankan tragedy. It symbolises the plight of the North Eastern Tamil children – citizens of Sri Lanka, abandoned by the state, exploited by the Tigers and finally killed by the Armed Forces. The Tigers took away their right to childhood, with the tacit connivance of the Lankan state, which then proceeded to target them and justify that act by claiming that they were child conscripts. The Tigers and the regime both acted unjustly and cynically with brutal disregard for those young lives. The presence of those young Tamil girls in Vallipunam and their deaths demonstrate that the Tigers have no concern for the Tamils and the state and regime are Sri Lankan in name only.

Happy Birthday Fidel!

13 August 2006 |

Rumours of Castro’s ’57 death had been greatly exaggerated

By HERBERT L. MATTHEWS 1957 New York Times

Fidel Castro, the rebel leader of Cuba’s youth, is alive and fighting hard and successfully in the rugged, almost impenetrable fastnesses of the Sierra Maestra, at the southern tip of the island.

President Fulgencio Batista has the cream of his army around the area, but the army men are fighting a losing battle.

This is the first sure news that Fidel Castro is still alive and still in Cuba. No one connected with the outside world, let alone with the press, has seen Senor Castro except this writer.

This account will break the tightest censorship in the history of the Cuban Republic. The Province of Oriente with its 2,000,000 inhabitants is shut off from Havana as surely as if it were another country.

Havana does not know that thousands of men and women are heart and soul with Fidel Castro and the new deal for which they think he stands, and a fierce government counterterrorism campaign has aroused the populace even more against President Batista.

Formed of youths of all kinds, Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement calls itself socialistic. The program is vague, but it amounts to a new deal for Cuba, radical, democratic and therefore anti-communist. The real core of its strength is that it is fighting against the military dictatorship of President Batista.

Raul Castro, left, younger brother of Cuban rebel leader Fidel, has his arm around second-in-command, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, in their Sierra de Cristal Mountain stronghold south of Havana, Cuba, during the Cuban revolution in 1958. (ANDREW ST. GEORGE)

This account will break the tightest censorship in the history of the Cuban Republic. The Province of Oriente with its 2,000,000 inhabitants is shut off from Havana as surely as if it were another country.

Havana does not know that thousands of men and women are heart and soul with Fidel Castro and the new deal for which they think he stands, and a fierce government counterterrorism campaign has aroused the populace even more against President Batista.

Formed of youths of all kinds, Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement calls itself socialistic. The program is vague, but it amounts to a new deal for Cuba, radical, democratic and therefore anti-communist. The real core of its strength is that it is fighting against the military dictatorship of President Batista.

From the looks of things, General Batista’s only hope is that an army column will come upon the young rebel leader and his staff and wipe them out.

Fidel Castro is the son of a rich sugar planter. His father sent him to the University of Havana where he studied law and became one of the student opposition leaders who rebelled against General Batista in 1952 because the general had staged a garrison revolt and prevented the presidential elections of that year.

On July 26, 1953, Castro led a band of youths in a desperate attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. In the fighting, about 100 students and soldiers were killed but the revolt failed. Castro was sentenced to 15 years in prison but there was an amnesty at the time of the presidential elections of Nov. 1, 1954, and he was let out. He crossed to the continent and began to organize the 26th of July Movement.

On Dec. 2, 1956, a 62-foot diesel-engined yacht, the Gramma, landed 82 young men on the Oriente shore below Niquero at a spot called Playa Olorada. The idea had been to land at Niquero, recruit followers and lead an open attack against the government. However, the Gramma had been spotted by a Cuban Naval patrol boat.

Playa Olorada, unhappily for the invaders, was a treacherous swamp. The men lost their food and most of their arms and supplies and soon were being attacked by army units. Of the 82 no more than 15 or 20 were left after a few days. Because of the complete censorship, Havana and the other Cuban cities crackle with rumours — encouraged by the government — that Castro is dead. What everybody kept asking was: "If Fidel is alive, why does he not do or say something to show that he is?"

As I learned later, Senor Castro was waiting until his forces had mastery of the Sierra Maestro. He had sent word out to a trusted source in Havana that he wanted a foreign correspondent to come in. The contact got in touch with me. (After an arduous journey into the hills of the Sierra, aided by Castro sympathizers and followers, I reached his camp in the tropical forest.)


Senor Castro, according to his followers, is 30, and that is old for the 26th of July Movement. It has a motley array of arms and uniforms. Several of the youths had lived in the United States and spoke English; one had been a professional baseball player in a minor league.

By physique and personality, Castro was quite a man: a powerful six-footer, olive-skinned, full-faced, with a straggly beard. He was dressed in an olive gray fatigue uniform and carried a rifle with a telescopic sight, of which he was very proud.

Someone brought tomato juice, ham sandwiches made with crackers, and tins of coffee. In honour of the occasion, Castro broke open a box of Havana cigars. No one could talk above a whisper at any time. There were columns of government troops all around us, Senor Castro said, and their one hope was to catch him and his band.


As the story unfolded of how he had at first gathered the few remnants of the Eighty-two around him and kept the government troops at bay while youths came in from other parts of Oriente, one got a feeling that Castro is now invincible. Perhaps he isn’t, but that is the faith he inspires in his followers.

They have had many fights, and inflicted many losses, Senor Castro said. Government planes came over and bombed every day; in fact, a plane did fly over, but went on to bomb higher in the mountains.

"We have been fighting for 79 days now and are stronger than ever," Senor Castro said. "The soldiers are fighting badly; their morale is low and ours could not be higher. We are killing many, but when we take prisoners they are never shot. We question them, talk kindly to them, take their arms and equipment, and then set them free."

"The Cuban people hear on the radio all about Algeria, but they never hear a word about us or read a word, thanks to the censorship. You will be the first to tell them. I have followers all over the island. All the best elements, especially all the youth, are with us. The Cuban people will stand anything but oppression."

I asked him about the report that he was going to declare a revolutionary government in the Sierra. "Not yet," he replied. "The time is not ripe. I will make myself known at the opportune moment. It will have all the more effect for the delay, for now everybody is talking about us. We are sure of ourselves.

"There is no hurry. Cuba is in a state of war, but Batista is hiding it. A dictatorship must show that it is omnipotent or it will fall; we are showing that it is impotent."

The government, he said with some bitterness, is using arms furnished by the United States "against all the Cuban people."

"They have bazookas, mortars, machine guns, planes and bombs," he said, "but we are safe here in the Sierra; they must come and get us, and they cannot."

Senor Castro speaks some English, but he preferred to talk in Spanish, which he did with extraordinary eloquence. His is a political mind rather than a military one. He has strong ideas on liberty, democracy, social justice, the need to restore the Constitution, to hold elections. He has strong ideas on economy, too, but an economist would consider them weak.

The 26th of July Movement talks of nationalism, anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism. I asked Senor Castro about that. He answered, "You can be sure we have no animosity toward the United States and the American people.

"Above all," he said, "we are fighting for a democratic Cuba and an end to the dictatorship. We are not anti-military; that is why we let the soldier prisoners go. There is no hatred of the army as such, for we know the men are good and so are many of the officers.

"Batista has 3,000 men in the field against us. I will not tell you how many we have, for obvious reasons. He works in columns of 200; we in groups of 10 to 40, and we are winning. It is a battle against time and time is on our side.

"They never know where we are," he said as the group arose to say goodbye, "but we always know where they are. You have taken quite a risk in coming here, but we have the whole area covered, and we will get you out safely."

They did. We had no trouble driving back through the road blocks to safety and then on to Havana.

So far as anyone knew, my wife and I had been away fishing for the weekend, and no one bothered us as we took the plane to New York.

Herbert L. Matthews, 1900-1977, was a war correspondent and editorial writer for The New York Times for 45 years.

This story first appeared in The New York Times in 1957. Veteran newsman Herbert Matthews got an exclusive interview with the young revolutionary Fidel Castro, who turns 80 today.

Prisoners in the land of the free


Better be careful if you are in the US and want to buy a ciggy lighter. You could be arrested for conspiring to detonate the nuclear arsenal the US has been piling up over the years.

America's attitude towards anyone with a Middle Eastern origin is not too shocking. In Chinua Achebe's wonderful piece of writing 'Things Fall Apart' -- there is a passage where African tribal men sit around eating and drinking, contemptuously referring to white men, comparing their white skin to lepers’ white skin.

One can understand the ignorance of the African tribals; they thought all white men are lepers! If America as a nation is as ignorant as the African tribals were 100 years ago... it is time to salvage their souls from the dark depths of ignorance. UN should set up an Educational Aid programme to help the ignorant and ill-educated American population, which includes the President of the US.

3 Texas men arraigned on terror charges

CARO, Mich. — Three Texas men were arraigned Saturday on terrorism-related charges after police found about 1,000 cell phones in their minivan, and prosecutors say they believe the men were targeting a bridge connecting Michigan's Upper and Lower peninsulas.

But two of the men said they were only trying to buy and sell phones to make money, and one said the money was intended to help pay for his brother's college education.

A magistrate set bond at $750,000 for each of the men, who are charged with collecting or providing materials for terrorist acts and surveillance of a vulnerable target for terrorist purposes. No pleas were made at the arraignment at a District Court in Caro, about 80 miles north of Detroit.

Officials have not said what they believe the men intended to do with the phones, most of which were prepaid TracFones. But Caro's police chief said cell phones can be used as detonators, and prosecutors in a similar case in Ohio have said that TracFones are often used by terrorists because they are not traceable.

"All we did is buy the phones to sell and make money," Louai Abdelhamied Othman told the magistrate. He said authorities had previously stopped the group in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

"We've been checked by the FBI before," he said. "They even gave us their card and everything."

Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark E. Reene told The Saginaw News that investigators believe the men were targeting the 5-mile long Mackinac Bridge. He declined to say what led investigators to that belief.

Reene and the FBI did not return phone messages Saturday to The Associated Press.

Othman and Maruan Awad Muhareb, both of Mesquite, Texas, and Adham Abdelhamid Othman, of Dallas, were stopped before dawn Friday after they purchased 80 cell phones from a Wal-Mart in Caro. Police said they found about 1,000 cell phones in their minivan.

Adham and Louai Othman are brothers and are in their early 20s. Muhareb, 18, is their cousin. All are being held at the Tuscola County Jail, Caro police said.

Muhareb told the magistrate: "This is a misunderstanding." He said he was selling the phones to earn money to help pay for his brother's college education.

Louai Othman's wife, Lina Odeh, said the men were buying the phones to sell to a man in Dallas for a profit of about $5 per phone. She said they were in Michigan because so many people in the Dallas area are doing the same thing that the phones are often sold out.

"I just want everyone to know that they're innocent and they shouldn't be locked up in jail without any evidence," she told The Associated Press.

The arrests in Caro came three days after two men were arrested in Marietta, Ohio, where police said they aroused suspicions when they acknowledged buying about 600 phones in recent months at stores in southeast Ohio.

Ali Houssaiky and Osama Abulhassan, both 20 and from Detroit suburb of Dearborn, have been charged with two felonies - money laundering in support of terrorism and soliciting or providing support for acts of terrorism - and misdemeanor falsification. A preliminary hearing on the felony counts was set for Tuesday.

Defense lawyers said Houssaiky and Abulhassan planned to resell the phones simply to make money. They say the men were targeted only because they are of Arab descent.

Thirst for blood and oil

08 August 2006 |

There is a war going on in the Middle East; one in Iraq and the other in Lebanon. It is a war against innocent civilian population, played out by faceless enemies of humanity. Is it only a war in the name of religion, gods, and land? It is also a war in the name of black gold – OIL!

The United States and Britain are only too happy to occupy Iraq and see various parts of it blow up. Iraq's sin is that it has a lot of Oil. But, then, Iraqis are not enough educated and sophisticated people to understand that no one really cares about whether it is Shia oil or Sunni oil. It is a crying shame that Iraqis kill each other in the name of the two factions of Islam – again their only reason for killing is to set the supremacy – and to gain power. Saddam knew too well that Oil was more powerful than anything else in today's world. And Oil is the very reason why he was toppled and put behind bars. It wasn't Saddam's Human Rights violations that the Western governments were too concerned about, it wasn't the Chemical and Biological weapons either, Americans have the receipts of all the weapons of mass destruction they have supplied to Iraq over the years. After all, Saddam Hussein was a CIA dog pretty much under the command of the CIA Boss who later became the President of the US – George Bush Sr.

Saddam had his master's permission to stop Kuwait from illegally slant-drilling petroleum across Iraq’s border. Saddam's Iraqi army invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, not only to stop the petroleum theft but also to teach a lesson to Kuwait and other states in the region that you just don't mess around with his master's favourite Dog. The United Nations slapped economic sanctions on Iraq.

In July 1990, crude oil was priced at 18 USD a barrel. It wasn't Iraq's continuing occupation of Kuwait alone that drove the price up crazy to 36 USD a barrel in October 1990. It is interesting to note that the US started moving its troops into Saudi Arabia on August 7, 1990. On the following day, a combatant Sadddam declared parts of Kuwait to be extensions of the Iraqi province of Basra and the rest to be the 19th province of Iraq. Result: 36 USD for a barrel of sweet crude oil; sweet money indeed.

With American troops protecting Saudi Arabia with 'Operation Desert Shield' – supposedly preventing an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia – the price of oil started to slide down. In the following two months it was down to 25 USD a barrel.

Uncle Sam and his cowboy buddies gave Saddam Hussein a January 15, 1991 deadline to withdraw from Kuwait. Saddam was of the view that Kuwait was carved out of Iraq in 1922 by the highly manipulative British. Sir Percy Zachariah Cox was the British administrator and diplomat in the British Mandate of Iraq who oversaw the birth of Kuwait as an emirate and he also established the Iraqi army and gave them a constitution. Kuwait, historically, had been under the mandate of the Ottoman governor of Basra. But, then, Sir Cox decided to carve out Kuwait out of the shifting sands of Iraq's vast desert. It is also interesting to note that before the World War 1, under the Anglo-Ottoman Convention of 1913, Kuwait was considered to be an autonomous caza within Ottoman Iraq. It is a fact that Iraq never recognised Kuwait's sovereignty and in the 1960s, the United Kingdom deployed troops to Kuwait to deter an Iraqi annexation.

The United States insisted on Iraq's unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait. Iraq insisted that withdrawal from Kuwait must be “linked” to a simultaneous withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and Israeli troops from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and southern Lebanon. (wikipedia)

In January, US and buddies kicked Saddam's arse out of Kuwait. Syria, who had were an imperial force in Lebanon were only too happy to join the Americans in kicking Saddam. They bombarded Iraq to submission, drove the Iraqi soldiers out of Kuwait – and the defeated soldiers who were returning home were brutally annihilated.

There are no conventions in a war for oil supremacy.

The Yankees didn't finish off Saddam; they knew a mad dog like Saddam was far better than a Shia ruled Iraq which had Iranian support. After the war, they allowed Saddam to rule for another decade or so, which saw the Iraqi economy cripple – with millions of poor Iraqis were left to die without enough food and proper medical care. Point to be noted, it wasn't poor Sunnis who were dying, it was the Shias who were paying the heavy price.

Iraq has as much as an oil reserve as Saudi Arabia; what the war did was that Iraqis were not allowed to sell oil in the international market. A rich country was made to suffer by the powerful western governments. Saddam and his fat cats had access to good food and medicines and all the luxuries. The UN embargo didn't hurt the rich and powerful of Iraq. The majority Shia community, who were traditionally poor and under-poverished in a minority-Sunni-ruled Iraq, suffered the most through the UN sanctions.

In 1998, the oil price fell to a low of 11.28 USD a barrel. The last time oil price was hovering around the 11 USD mark was in January 1976! Remarkable indeed! Between the two wars in Iraq - led by father and son Bush – for eight years Bill Clinton was the president of the US. In fact, Clinton turned the economy around and America had a budget surplus. Crude oil selling at 11 dollars a barrel was a testimony to the economic policies of the Clinton administration.

In the year 2000, the oil lobby saw their pet chimp – George Bush stealing the American democracy. Saudis were elated – Sheikh Bush became the president. September 11 helped Bush get the necessary public support to turn the government machinery in the oil way.

In 2003, Bush took the missiles out of his trouser-pockets and launched an attack on Iraq to depose Saddam. With the help of a drooling and slobbering media in the US, Bush convinced the faithful that Saddam was in fact responsible for September 11, though most of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia! When a nation has a collective IQ in the negative, chimps becoming presidents and evangelist gorillas like Pat Robertson setting the moral standards is more than a possibility.

The move to depose Saddam Hussein was not a Neocon conspiracy. Just that Bush and his Oil cowboys used the Neocon cover to do the job very well. Saddam was not allowing the Americans and Saudis to determine the oil price; he was one day pumping a lot of oil into the market and another day starving the oil-thirsty market. What the Oil lobby wanted was a steady increase in oil price and lot more profits. They knew too well that in the eight years of stolen presidency of the US, which means control over the US armed forces - they have to make as much money as possible.

Saddam was deposed, puppet government has been installed in Baghdad. Saddam is being tried in an Iraqi court, Shias are in power – which means they have the support of the Shia-power: Iran. Still, Iraq is burning. Sectarian violence is killing more Iraqis. Iraq's northern oil pipeline to Turkey was recently hit by yet another sabotage attack. Iraq, even with its big reserve of crude oil, is not allowed to pump oil into the world market and make some money for themselves to rebuild their country. You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to believe that Iraqis find some secret pleasure in starving their children!

Big producers of oil are profiting out of this man-made calamity in the Middle East.

In June 2006, the price of crude oil was hovering around the 70 dollar mark, when Iran-backed Hezbollah decided to take two Israeli soldiers as hostages to bargain with the release of thousands of Lebanese and Palestininans languishing in Israeli jails. How these guys found themselves in the jail is not much of a mystery; Israel have been occupying Palestine and Lebanon for a very long time.

Exactly how Kuwait was carved out of Iraq by the Brits, Israel was also carved out of Palestine in 1948. Of course, Kuwaitis and Jews will have difficulty in accepting this. Israel have been an aggressor in the region; during what is known as a six-day war, in a pre-emptive attack on Egypt on 5 June 1967 that drew Syria and Jordan into a regional war, Israel made massive territorial gains capturing the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula up to the Suez Canal.

The principle of land-for-peace that has formed the basis of Arab-Israeli negotiations is based on Israel giving up land won in the 1967 war in return for peace deals recognising Israeli borders and its right to security. The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt as part of the 1979 peace deal with Israel. (bbc)

Some of the Arab countries in the region were no angels either. It is interesting to note that in complete defiance of the UN Security Council, Egypt had occupied the Gaza Strip in 1948 and in 1950 Jordan annexed the West Bank. Well, none of the Arab neighbours cared much about the Palestinians anyway. And Palestine or Lebanon has no oil too!

With the blessings of Iran, Hezbollah pushed Israel into a new war in July this year. Of course, their brothers have been in Israeli custody for a very long time - and without the Iranian support Hezbollah would have waited for another chance. Much has been said and made of the two Israeli soldiers being kidnapped in the international media. But, then, Israel seized eight Palestinian government ministers and some 20 legislators on June 29th... Israel was asking for trouble and they got it on July 12th. The Associated Press reported "The militant group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes Wednesday across the border in southern Lebanon, prompting a swift reaction from Israel, which sent ground forces into its neighbor to look for them."

Not much noise has been made in the international and popular media about what Israel did and has been doing. Oh well, it is assumed that all Muslims are terrorists - even if it is a six-month old baby! Such prejudiced thinking in the West helps the Israeli cause.

In January this year, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who was trying to broker a peace deal with the Palestinians had a massive stroke and slipped into a coma. He was fast losing support in Israel just before the elections - after having broken away from the ruling Likud party and forming the new so-called centrist party: Kadima.

As defence minister in 1982, Sharon had masterminded the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, but it led to his temporary sidelining in politics. Without explicitly telling Prime Minister Menachem Begin, he sent the Israeli army all the way to Beirut, a strike which ended in the expulsion of Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) from Lebanon. The move stopped the PLO using Lebanon to launch attacks against Israel, but also resulted in the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians by Lebanese Christian militiamen in two Beirut refugee camps under Israeli control. Sharon was removed from office in 1983 by an Israeli tribunal investigating the 1982 Lebanon invasion, finding him indirectly responsible for the killings. (bbc)

With Sharon in the hospital and Kadima winning the general elections, it was his deputy Ehud Olmert who took over as the Prime Minister of Israel. Olmert was in desperate need of a miracle to kick up his popularity in Israel – and the kidnappings of June and July was so well-orchestrated to help his image-building exercise within Israel.

In these muddled waters of the Middle East, chimp chief Bush and his oil buddies from Saudi saw a big opportunity. As soon as Israel started bombing Lebanon, even though Lebanon has nothing to do with the oil business – price of crude oil went up to 78 dollars a barrel - up by 8 dollars in the space of 4 weeks!

Opec, which is the big oil producing club of the world pretty much controls the supply of oil to the world market. With current production level at 30 million barrel a day, the increase by 8 dollars meant that their revenues also went up by 240 million dollars a day!

The additional revenue since the recent Israeli attack on Lebanon, for the oil producing giants of the Middle East reads as follows:
IRAN: 900 million USD
Saudi Arabia: 2.128 Billion USD
Kuwait: 569 million USD
UAE: 582 million USD
Qatar: 224 million USD

Other oil producing countries such as Venezuela, Libya, Nigeria, Russia... all are making big profits.

From the 28 days of killing in Lebanon, the bonus revenue for Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE put together stands at 4403 million (4.4 Billion) US Dollars!!

Iran is happy, Saudis are happy – why would they want to stop this killing in Lebanon? When it all started on July 12, Saudi Arabia was quick to blame Hezbollah for the extra profits, oops, for the Israeli attacks!

Gulf News, a daily newspaper in the UAE publishes the number of people killed in this war. It is updated every single day. Today it read,
Lebanese killed: 1048
Israelis killed: 101

It is the Arab nations who are on a charity spree to support the Lebanese people. True, Lebanese need all the support they can muster at this point in history. They are the victims of an extremely dangerous and dirty politics played by their neighbouring countries.

Another way of looking at this terrible human tragedy (which is into the 29th day) is the blood of 1048 innocent lives in Lebanon has yielded an additional profit of 4.4 billion US Dollars to the Arab coffers! That is about 4.2 million USD per Lebanese killed so far. Talk about blood money!

As long as Iran and Saudi keep making the huge additional profits of more than three billion USD a month from this war, why would Iran ask Hezbollah to back off or Saudis put pressure on the Yankees to stop their trigger happy Israeli buddies from bombing?

** Gulf War

Also read: A Saudi Media Spin

What was Qana's crime?

07 August 2006 |

'How can we stand by and allow this to go on?'
Robert Fisk:
31 July 2006

They wrote the names of the dead children on their plastic shrouds. " Mehdi Hashem, aged seven ­ Qana," was written in felt pen on the bag in which the little boy's body lay. "Hussein al-Mohamed, aged 12 ­ Qana", "Abbas al-Shalhoub, aged one ­ Qana.'' And when the Lebanese soldier went to pick up Abbas's little body, it bounced on his shoulder as the boy might have done on his father's shoulder on Saturday. In all, there were 56 corpses brought to the Tyre government hospital and other surgeries, and 34 of them were children. When they ran out of plastic bags, they wrapped the small corpses in carpets. Their hair was matted with dust, most had blood running from their noses.

You must have a heart of stone not to feel the outrage that those of us watching this experienced yesterday. This slaughter was an obscenity, an atrocity ­ yes, if the Israeli air force truly bombs with the " pinpoint accuracy'' it claims, this was also a war crime. Israel claimed that missiles had been fired by Hizbollah gunmen from the south Lebanese town of Qana ­ as if that justified this massacre. Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, talked about "Muslim terror" threatening " western civilisation" ­ as if the Hizbollah had killed all these poor people.

And in Qana, of all places. For only 10 years ago, this was the scene of another Israeli massacre, the slaughter of 106 Lebanese refugees by an Israeli artillery battery as they sheltered in a UN base in the town. More than half of those 106 were children. Israel later said it had no live-time pilotless photo-reconnaissance aircraft over the scene of that killing ­ a statement that turned out to be untrue when The Independent discovered videotape showing just such an aircraft over the burning camp. It is as if Qana ­ whose inhabitants claim that this was the village in which Jesus turned water into wine ­ has been damned by the world, doomed forever to receive tragedy.

And there was no doubt of the missile which killed all those children yesterday. It came from the United States, and upon a fragment of it was written: "For use on MK-84 Guided Bomb BSU-37-B". No doubt the manufacturers can call it "combat-proven" because it destroyed the entire three-storey house in which the Shalhoub and Hashim families lived. They had taken refuge in the basement from an enormous Israeli bombardment, and that is where most of them died.

I found Nejwah Shalhoub lying in the government hospital in Tyre, her jaw and face bandaged like Robespierre's before his execution. She did not weep, nor did she scream, although the pain was written on her face. Her brother Taisir, who was 46, had been killed. So had her sister Najla. So had her little niece Zeinab, who was just six. "We were in the basement hiding when the bomb exploded at one o'clock in the morning,'' she said. "What in the name of God have we done to deserve this? So many of the dead are children, the old, women. Some of the children were still awake and playing. Why does the world do this to us?"

Yesterday's deaths brought to more than 500 the total civilian dead in Lebanon since Israel's air, sea and land bombardment of the country began on 12 July after Hizbollah members crossed the frontier wire, killed three Israeli soldiers and captured two others. But yesterday's slaughter ended more than a year of mutual antagonism within the Lebanese government as pro-American and pro-Syrian politicians denounced what they described as " an ugly crime".

Thousands of protesters attacked the largest United Nations building in Beirut, screaming: "Destroy Tel Aviv, destroy Tel Aviv," and Lebanon's Prime Minister, the normally unflappable Fouad Siniora, called US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and ordered her to cancel her imminent peace-making trip to Beirut.

No one in this country can forget how President George Bush, Ms Rice, and Tony Blair have repeatedly refused to call for an immediate ceasefire ­ a truce that would have saved all those lives yesterday. Ms Rice would say only: "We want a ceasefire as soon as possible,'' a remark followed by an Israeli announcement that it intended to maintain its bombardment of Lebanon for at least another two weeks.

Throughout the day, Qana villagers and civil defence workers dug through the ruins of the building with spades and with their hands, tearing at the muck until they found one body after another still dressed in colourful clothes. In one section of the rubble, they found what was left of a single room with 18 bodies inside. Twelve of the dead were women. All across southern Lebanon now, you find scenes like this, not so grotesque in scale, perhaps, but just as terrible, for the people of these villages are terrified to leave and terrified to stay. The Israelis had dropped leaflets over Qana, ordering its people to leave their homes. Yet twice now since Israel's onslaught began, the Israelis have ordered villagers to leave their houses and then attacked them with aircraft as they obeyed the Israeli instructions and fled. There are at least 3,000 Shia Muslims trapped in villages between Qlaya and Aiteroun ­ close to the scene of Israel's last military incursion at Bint Jbeil ­ and yet none of them can leave without fear of dying on the roads.

And Mr Olmert's reaction? After expressing his "great sorrow", he announced that: "We will not stop this battle, despite the difficult incidents [sic] this morning. We will continue the activity, and if necessary it will be broadened without hesitation." But how much further can it be broadened? Lebanon's infrastructure is being steadily torn to pieces, its villages razed, its people more and more terrorised ­ and terror is the word they used ­ by Israel's American-made fighter bombers. Hizbollah's missiles are Iranian-made, and it was Hizbollah that started this war with its illegal and provocative raid across the border. But Israel's savagery against the civilian population has deeply shocked not only the Western diplomats who have remained in Beirut, but hundreds of humanitarian workers from the Red Cross and major aid agencies.

Incredibly, Israel yesterday denied safe passage to a UN World Food Programme aid convoy en route to the south, a six-truck mission that should have taken relief supplies to the south-eastern town of Marjayoun. More than three quarters of a million Lebanese have now fled their homes, but there is still no accurate figure for the total number still trapped in the south. Khalil Shalhoub, who survived amid the wreckage in Qana yesterday, said that his family and the Hashims were just too "terrified" to take the road out of the village, which has been attacked by aircraft for more than two weeks. The seven-mile highway between Qana and Tyre is littered with civilian homes in ruins and burnt-out family cars. On Thursday, the Israeli Army's Al-Mashriq radio, which broadcasts into southern Lebanon, told residents that their villages would be "totally destroyed" if missiles were fired from them. But anyone who has watched Israel's bombing these past two weeks knows that, in many cases, the Israelis do not know the location in which the Hizbollah are firing missiles, and ­ when they do ­ they frequently miss their targets. How can a villager prevent the Hizbollah from firing rockets from his street? The Hizbollah do take cover beside civilian houses ­ just as Israeli troops entering Bint Jbeil last week also used civilian homes for cover. But can this be the excuse for slaughter on such a scale?

Mr Siniora addressed foreign diplomats in Beirut yesterday, telling them that the government in Beirut was now only demanding an immediate ceasefire and was not interested any longer in a political package to go with it. Needless to say, Mr Jeffrey Feltman, whose country made the bomb which killed the innocents of Qana yesterday, chose not to attend.

Galloway's Theater


Galloway The Smoking Gun

Galloway v Hitchens