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JFP 9/13: Experts: attack on Iran would risk major war; Egypt offers Iran deal on Syria
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 13 September 2012 - 6:09pm
Just Foreign Policy News, September 13, 2012
Experts: attack on Iran would risk major war; Egypt offers Iran deal on Syria
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Go Straight to the News Summary
I) Actions and Featured Articles
Washington Post timeline: The events in Benghazi and the U.S. reaction
The timeline clearly shows that the statement from US Embassy Cairo criticized by the Romney campaign came four hours before crowds gathered at the embassy in Cairo, and ten hours before gunfire at the consulate in Bengazi. Romney's statement came six hours after the gunfire in Bengazi, and just after the first U.S. death was confirmed.
Stephen Starr: Rebel Violence Drains Support of Fellow Syrians
As the deadly attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, show, sometimes armed and violent rebels who help to oust a dictatorship can later become destabilizing forces who kill with impunity. Although Syria is different from Libya for numerous reasons, Syrians may be thinking about this latest turn of events as they watch the violent changes in the revolt in their own country.
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Drone Strikes on People With AIDS?
Do you think that "public comment" and "congressional review" of an agreement that "could cut off access to lifesaving medicines for millions" should wait until after the agreement is signed, when, in practical terms, the prospects for changing the agreement would be near zero?
Rights groups demand Leahy Law be applied to Bahrain security forces that abuse human rights
A letter was sent on Sept. 10 to Secretary of State Clinton, urging application of the Leahy Law to immediately suspend further U.S. military assistance and arms transfers to units of the security forces of Bahrain which have engaged in human rights violations against non-violent, pro-democracy protesters, as required by U.S. law. The letter was signed by: Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, International Federation for Human Rights, Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights First, Freedom House, Physicians for Human Rights, Project on Middle East Democracy, Just Foreign Policy, Open Society Foundations, Human Rights Watch, and the United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society.
1) In a new report, former U.S. government officials, national security experts and retired military officers say Iran probably would manage to retaliate for U.S. military strikes on Iran in ways that risked igniting all-out war in the Middle East, AP reports. The report says achieving more than a temporary setback in Iran's nuclear program would require a military operation - including a land occupation - more taxing than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.
"Planners and pundits ought to consider that the riots and unrest following a Web entry about an obscure film are probably a fraction of what could happen following a strike - by the Israelis or U.S. - on Iran," said retired Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, an endorser of the Iran report and a former operations chief for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Other endorsers of the report include Brent Scowcroft, who was President George H.W. Bush's national security adviser; former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, former Sens. Sam Nunn and Chuck Hagel and two retired chiefs of U.S.-Central Command, Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni and navy Adm. William J. Fallon.
2) official Egyptian sources say Egypt has offered Iran a number of incentives, including help with easing its diplomatic and economic isolation, in return for Tehran's agreement to remove Syrian President Assad and allow his safe exit from Syria, Haaretz reports. Egypt also expressed readiness to renew its diplomatic ties with Tehran and buy large quantities of Iranian crude oil despite the international embargo, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat said. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir rejected any linkage between stronger Iranian-Egyptian ties and the removal of Assad.
3) House liberals have amplified their opposition to any budget grand bargain that closely resembles the sweeping proposal crafted by [the co-chairs of] President Obama's 2010 fiscal commission, The Hill reports. Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are warning that they'll fight to kill any budget package that would cut Medicare coverage, Social Security benefits and safety net programs for the poor - all elements of the Simpson-Bowles plan. [Success in blocking these cuts is likely to be directly correlated to success in cutting the Pentagon budget - JFP.]
4) The detainee who died on Saturday at Guantánamo was a Yemeni man who had been ordered freed in 2010 by a Federal District Court judge but remained in captivity after the ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, the New York Times reports. His classified assessment file, made public by WikiLeaks, showed the military had recommended that he be released in December 2006 and again in January 2008. A detainee task force under Obama also approved him for transfer. But both the Bush and the Obama administrations were reluctant to repatriate detainees to Yemen, so he remained locked up.
The dissenting opinion on the DC circuit charged that the standard of the majority effectively required judges to accept as true virtually whatever the government claims, severely undermining a 2008 Supreme Court ruling granting the detainees habeas corpus rights. Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif was the ninth detainee known to have died at Guantánamo. Latif's death lowered the inmate population to 167.
5) A federal judge permanently blocked the government from enforcing a controversial statute about the indefinite detention without trial of terrorism suspects, the New York Times reports. Judge Katherine Forrest noted that since the government claimed that the statute did not extend the government's authority to engage in indefinite detention, the government could claim no harm from her ruling. Bruce Afran, an adjunct law professor at Rutgers University who helped represent the plaintiffs, called the ruling a "historic" repudiation of government overreach.
6) Shaul Mofaz, the opposition leader in the Israeli Parliament, attacked Prime Minister Netanyahu for meddling in American politics with his attacks on President Obama during the election campaign, the New York Times reports. "Prime Minister, who do you think is Israel's greatest enemy? The United States or Iran?" Mofaz asked in the Knesset. "Which administration is it more important for you to replace - the administration in Washington or that in Tehran?"
7) Political parties are stepping up opposition to the U.S. drone strikes in anticipation of an upcoming election campaign, Inter Press Service reports. "Till now only the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (Movement for Justice Party) staunchly opposed the U.S. drones and the military campaign in Waziristan," said a local official. "As elections get nearer, the other parties are also now trying to exploit anti-American sentiments and muster electoral support." Elections are due in Pakistan next year.
"We will enter Waziristan with 100,000 people on October 6," Imran Khan said on Aug. 30. "I would take international media to let them know the quantum of destruction caused by drone attacks." [CodePink is organizing a delegation of Americans to participate in this march; Just Foreign Policy hopes to participate, if the visa comes through - JFP.]
8) Protests in the Arab world over an American-made video insulting Islam's founder spread to at least half a dozen places across the Middle East on Thursday, the New York Times reports. At least five Yemenis were killed as hundreds of protesters stormed the American Embassy and were repulsed by Yemeni security forces.
9) Colombian General Motors worker Jorge Parra is on hunger-strike again, and this time he is in Washington D.C., says Colombia Reports. In August Parra and other former GM workers who claimed they had been unfairly dismissed by GM, sewed their mouths shut in hunger-strike outside the U.S. embassy in Colombia's capital Bogota where they had already been camping in protest for a year. The protestors starved for 22 days until, under increasing pressure from public figures in the U.S., negotiations were called again on August 23rd. After three-and-a-half days the talks were broken off when GM refused to meet the protestors' demands to be rehabilitated and retrained so they could resume working in the company.
1) U.S. strike on Iran could lead to all-out Mideast war, experts say
The report compiled by former government officials, national security experts and retired military officers is to be publicly released Thursday.
Robert Burns, Associated Press, Sep.13, 2012
U.S. military strikes on Iran would shake the regime's political control and damage its ability to launch counterstrikes, but the Iranians probably would manage to retaliate, directly and through surrogates, in ways that risked igniting all-out war in the Middle East, according to an assessment of an attack's costs and benefits.
The assessment said extended U.S. strikes could destroy Iran's most important nuclear facilities and damage its military forces but would only delay - not stop - the Islamic republic's pursuit of a nuclear bomb.
"You can't kill intellectual power," said retired Army Lt. Gen. Frank Kearney, who endorsed the report. He is a former deputy director at the National Counterterrorism Center and former deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.
The report compiled by former government officials, national security experts and retired military officers is to be publicly released Thursday. It says achieving more than a temporary setback in Iran's nuclear program would require a military operation - including a land occupation - more taxing than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.
An oft-stated argument against striking Iran is that it would add to a perception of the U.S. as anti-Muslim - a perception linked to the U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and hardened by Internet-based video excerpts of an anti-Muslim film that may have fueled Tuesday's deadly attack on a U.S. diplomatic office in Libya.
"Planners and pundits ought to consider that the riots and unrest following a Web entry about an obscure film are probably a fraction of what could happen following a strike - by the Israelis or U.S. - on Iran," retired Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, an endorser of the Iran report and a former operations chief for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview.
The report was compiled and endorsed by more than 30 former diplomats, retired admirals and generals and others who said their main purpose was to provide clarity about the potential use of military force against Iran. They reached no overall conclusion and offered no recommendations.
"The report is intended to have what we call an informing influence and hopefully something of a calming influence, but that's something readers will have to answer for themselves," said Thomas Pickering, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who has held informal contacts with Iranian officials as recently as the past few months.
Kearney said the assessment was meant to stimulate thinking in the U.S. about the objectives of a military attack on Iran beyond the obvious goal of hitting key components of Iran's nuclear program. "Clearly there is some (U.S.) ability to do destruction, which will cause some delay, but what occurs after that?" he said in an interview.
Other endorsers of the report include Brent Scowcroft, who was President George H.W. Bush's national security adviser; former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, former Sens. Sam Nunn and Chuck Hagel and two retired chiefs of U.S.-Central Command, Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni and navy Adm. William J. Fallon.
The analysis includes stark assertions about one of the most volatile and complex issues facing the U.S. in a presidential election year. President Barack Obama's failure to get Iran to negotiate acceptable limits on its nuclear program is cited by his opponents as emblematic of a misguided and weak foreign policy.
The report said the Obama administration's stated objective - shared by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney - of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb is unlikely to be achieved through military force if action is limited to a combination of airstrikes, cyber attacks, covert operations and special operations strikes.
It says an extensive U.S. military assault could delay for up to four years Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon. It also could disrupt Iranian government control, deplete its treasury and raise internal tensions.
"We do not believe it would lead to regime change, regime collapse or capitulation," it said, adding that such an attack would increase Iran's motivation to build a bomb, in part because the Iranian leadership would see building a bomb as a way to inhibit future U.S. attacks "and redress the humiliation of being attacked."
A more ambitious military campaign designed to oust the Iranian regime of hardline clerics or force an undermining of Iran's influence in the Mideast would require the U.S. to occupy part or all of the country, the report said.
"Given Iran's large size and population, and the strength of Iranian nationalism, we estimate that the occupation of Iran would require a commitment of resources and personnel greater than what the U.S. has expended over the past 10 years in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined," the report said.
2) Egypt offered Iran incentives in deal to remove Assad, sources say
Cairo offers Tehran diplomatic and economic aid, including the purchase of large quantities of crude oil, in exchange for removal of Syrian President and his expulsion from Syria.
Jack Khoury, Haaretz, September 13, 2012
Egypt has offered Iran a number of incentives, including help with easing its diplomatic and economic isolation, in return for Tehran's agreement to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad and allow his safe exit from Syria, according to official Egyptian sources.
The Cairo government also expressed readiness to renew its diplomatic ties with Tehran and buy large quantities of Iranian crude oil despite the international embargo, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat said Thursday. Egypt is experiencing a serious shortage of petroleum products.
Official Egyptian sources said that the proposals were made during direct talks with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir, who participated in a Cairo meeting initiated by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi this week. He discussed possible solutions to the Syrian crisis with representatives of Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Iranian and Egyptian sources say that mid-level contacts between their countries are continuing. Amir categorically rejected any linkage between stronger Iranian-Egyptian ties and the removal of Assad and his regime, describing that demand as a precondition that would torpedo any attempt to resolve the Syrian crisis.
Meanwhile Lakhdar Brahimi, the special envoy to Syria of the United Nations and the Arab League, is expected to arrive in Damascus today and is expected to meet Assad in his palace tomorrow.
Brahimi admitted to journalists in Cairo that while his mission has already been defined as impossible, he will make every effort to formulate some sort of arrangement that, first and foremost, would bring an end to the violence in Syria.
3) House Democrats pushing hard from the left on budget as 'fiscal cliff' nears
Mike Lillis, The Hill, 09/12/12 05:40 PM ET
House liberals have amplified their opposition this week to any budget grand bargain that closely resembles the sweeping proposal crafted by President Obama's 2010 fiscal commission. [Actually the proposal was just crafted by the two co-chairs; it was never approved by the commission - JFP.]
Many policymakers are pointing to the two-year-old Simpson-Bowles plan as a template for Congress's efforts to avoid the "fiscal cliff" at year's end.
But members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) are warning that they'll fight to kill any budget package that would cut Medicare coverage, Social Security benefits and safety net programs for the poor - all elements of the Simpson-Bowles plan.
"Somehow it's gotten this patina of balance and continues to be held up as a framework for a grand bargain," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), a member of the Simpson-Bowles commission, said Wednesday during a CPC forum on budget issues. "That notion is misguided."
Schakowsky praised the Simpson-Bowles plan for putting military cuts on the table, but she summarized the liberals' concerns by warning that it "would not invest in the economy, would not create jobs, does not raise enough in revenues and doesn't protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."
"Bowles-Simpson should not be the framework for solving our fiscal challenges," she said.
4) Military Identifies Guantanamo Hunger Striker Who Died
Charlie Savage, New York Times, September 11, 2012
Washington - The detainee who died on Saturday at the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was a Yemeni man who had been ordered freed in 2010 by a Federal District Court judge but remained in captivity after the ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last year.
The military on Tuesday publicly identified the detainee, whose death was announced a day earlier, as Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif. He was captured at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in December 2001 and was among the first detainees taken to the prison when the Bush administration opened it in January 2002.
Mr. Latif was found unresponsive in his cell and could not be revived, the military has said. An autopsy was performed, but the Naval Criminal Investigative Service has not yet made public its findings about how he died. The United States Southern Command, which oversees Guantánamo, is also conducting an investigation into the death.
Mr. Latif was a former hunger striker who was in the "disciplinary" lockup for throwing bodily fluids on guards. He also had a history of depression and erratic behavior, including an episode in 2009 in which he threw his blood onto his volunteer lawyer, David Remes.
In an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Remes described Mr. Latif as a "talented poet and deeply devout" man who was "mentally fragile and was at times sedated, placed on suicide watch and sent to the prison's psychological ward." Mr. Remes said he last saw his client in May and had been planning to visit him again next week. "Every hope held out to him was dashed," Mr. Remes said. "He felt that his spirit was dying, that he couldn't continue to bear his conditions."
There was no dispute that Mr. Latif traveled from Yemen to Pakistan in August 2001 and later made his way to Afghanistan before trying to flee once the war began.
He claimed that he was sent to the region by a humanitarian aid worker to seek charitable medical treatment for problems stemming from a head injury he had suffered in a car accident in 1994. The military instead maintained that he had been recruited by a Qaeda figure to help the Taliban fight the Northern Alliance.
Still, the military did not see him as a particular threat. His classified assessment file, made public by WikiLeaks, showed that the military had recommended that he be released in December 2006 and again in January 2008. A detainee task force under President Obama also approved him for transfer, Mr. Remes said. But both the Bush and the Obama administrations were reluctant to repatriate detainees to Yemen because of poor security conditions, so he remained locked up.
The central piece of evidence against Mr. Latif was an intelligence report prepared shortly after his capture that said he had incriminated himself. In his habeas corpus lawsuit, the question was whether to credit that report as sufficient evidence to justify keeping him locked up indefinitely.
In 2010, Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. of Federal District Court in Washington wrote that the report was unreliable and granted his habeas corpus petition. While many details in his ruling were redacted, Judge Kennedy cited flaws with the report, noted that no other detainees said they had seen Mr. Latif at a safe house or training camp linked to Al Qaeda, and said Mr. Latif had presented a "plausible alternative story" for what he was doing in the region.
But last year, a divided three-judge panel for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated that ruling. Citing inconsistencies in Mr. Latif's account, the two judges in the majority, Janice Rogers Brown and Karen LeCraft Henderson, also said the report was entitled to "a presumption of regularity."
The ruling drew a sharp dissent from the third judge on the panel, David Tatel, who also focused on the flaws of the report. He faulted his colleagues for giving nearly conclusive weight to a sketchy report "produced in the fog of war," saying their standard effectively required judges to accept as true virtually whatever the government claims, severely undermining a 2008 Supreme Court ruling granting the detainees habeas corpus rights.
In June, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in Mr. Latif's case without comment.
Mr. Latif was the ninth detainee known to have died at Guantánamo. Some prisoners apparently committed suicide, while others apparently died of natural causes. Mr. Latif's death lowered the inmate population to 167.
5) Judge Rules Against Law on Indefinite Detention
Charlie Savage, New York Times, September 12, 2012
Washington - A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the government from enforcing a controversial statute about the indefinite detention without trial of terrorism suspects. Congress enacted the measure last year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.
In the detention case, Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a permanent injunction barring the government from relying on the defense authorization law to hold people in indefinite military detention on suspicion that they "substantially supported" Al Qaeda or its allies - at least if they had no connection to the Sept. 11 attacks.
The United States has been detaining terrorism suspects indefinitely since 2001, relying on an authorization by Congress to use military force against perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks and those who helped them. Last year, Congress decided to create a federal statute that codified authority for such detentions.
The new statute went beyond covering the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks to also cover people who were part of or substantially supported Al Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces engaged in hostilities against the United States or its allies. Its enactment was controversial in part because lawmakers did not specify what conduct could lead to someone's being detained, and because it was silent about whether the statute extended to American citizens and others arrested on United States soil.
It was challenged by Chris Hedges, a journalist who interacts with terrorists as part of his reporting, and by several prominent supporters of WikiLeaks. They argued that its existence chilled their constitutional rights by creating a basis to fear that the government might seek to detain them under it by declaring that their activities made them supporters of an enemy group.
In May, Judge Forrest agreed, issuing a preliminary injunction barring the government from relying on the law to detain anyone without trial, and Wednesday she made that injunction permanent in a 112-page opinion.
The Obama administration fought the move, saying the law did not cover free-speech activities. It also claimed that the statute created no new detention authority that did not already exist in the original authorization to use military force. While Judge Forrest said she thought that it did expand detention authority, the fact that the government took the narrower view was "decisive" because it meant that "enjoining the statute will therefore not endanger the public."
In an interview, Bruce Afran, an adjunct law professor at Rutgers University who helped represent the plaintiffs, called the ruling a "historic" repudiation of government overreach. "It's an absolute guarantee of freedom of political debate even in a time of war," he said.
6) Israelis Fear Fallout From Netanyahu's Blunt Comments
Isabel Kershner, New York Times, September 12, 2012
Jerusalem - In Israel, where arguments are rife, there are at least two issues of national consensus: that the special relationship with the United States must be preserved at all costs, and that the looming threat of a nuclear Iran must be dealt with.
But supporters and opponents of Mr. Netanyahu alike are disturbed by the blunt and public way in which the dialogue has been conducted, particularly at a delicate political moment before the American elections in November.
Shaul Mofaz, the opposition leader in the Israeli Parliament, attacked Mr. Netanyahu, accusing him of breaking a cardinal rule by meddling in American politics.
"Prime Minister, who do you think is Israel's greatest enemy? The United States or Iran?" he asked from the lectern in Parliament. "Who do you fear more, Mr. Netanyahu - Ahmadinejad or President Obama?" he said, referring to the Iranian president.
"Which administration is it more important for you to replace - the administration in Washington or that in Tehran?" he added. "Explain to us, Mr. Prime Minister, what are your red lines in managing the current crisis with the Americans over Iran?
7) Pakistan Parties Uniting Against Drones
Ashfaq Yusufzai, Inter Press Service, Sep 13 2012
Peshawar, Pakistan - Political parties are stepping up opposition to the U.S. drone strikes and a planned operation to cleanse border areas of militants.
"Till now only the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (Movement for Justice Party) staunchly opposed the U.S. drones and the military campaign in Waziristan," Muhammad Azeem, former mayor in Mardan, one of the 25 districts of the troubled northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province told IPS. "As elections get nearer, the other parties are also now trying to exploit anti-American sentiments and muster electoral support."
Drones have been hitting targets in the northern border areas of Pakistan, such as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) governed directly by the federal government.
Elections are due in Pakistan next year.
The religio-political parties under the banner of Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA) swept the election in 2003 due to their Taliban connection, and formed governments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan province.
After coming to power in these provinces, they abandoned the Taliban and were eliminated in the 2008 election.
Now both the major religious parties – Jamaat Islam (JI) and Jamiat Ulemai Islam (JUI) – have come out of hibernation to play upon anti-American sentiments and denounce the government's planned operation in Waziristan, which falls within FATA.
On Sep. 5, JI chief Munawar Hassan told a rally in Nowshera town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that his party will not let the government launch a military offensive in Waziristan.
"American agents want to create unrest in the country by pushing the army for a North Waziristan operation but we won't let that happen," he told the rally where banners carried slogans against the U.S., and against Pakistani rulers.
Even the smallest political parties have realised that opposition to the military operation and the drone strikes could pay dividends in the election.
"Drone strikes are against the country's sovereignty," Dr Ikramullah Khan of the Swabi Qaumi Mahaz party told IPS. "These have killed innocent women and children, which is against the United Nations charter and conventions." He said the impending military action in North Waziristan would spell disaster.
About 300,000 of the population of 5.8 million in FATA have been displaced by military operations, Dr Ikramullah Khan said. Military action in North Waziristan would make more people homeless and bring no results, he said.
Chief of the ruling Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) Aftab Ahmed Khan said use of force has fed terrorism in tribal areas and elsewhere.
"We would never allow the government to launch military action in North Waziristan because it would produce more terrorists rather than paving way for peace," he told IPS.
The prevalent unrest in FATA could be resolved by dialogue, he said. The military action would affect the poor population who had already been suffering heavily from the military operations, Aftab Ahmed Khan said.
President Asif Ali Zardari from the PPP, widower of Benazir Bhutto, is using delaying tactics to start the North Waziristan operation despite U.S. pressure. The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) also wants the government to stay away from the operation and adopt the path of dialogue.
Staunch opponent of drone strikes and the military operation Imran Khan has gone a step further.
"We will hit drones when I become prime minister," Imran Khan told IPS from Dubai. "Talks are the only solution to the problem in Waziristan and elsewhere," he said.
"We will enter Waziristan with 100,000 people on October 6," he told a news conference in Islamabad earlier on Aug. 30. "I would take international media to let them know the quantum of destruction caused by drone attacks."
The government should step down if it cannot protect the lives of common people, he said.
The U.S.-led war on terror is increasing terrorism and there was no end in sight, he said. "Killing innocent people in drone strikes and military operations will produce terrorists."
The Awami National Party, a bitter opponent of the Taliban, is also hesitant to support drone strikes. "Drone strikes are against the country's sovereignty and we would never support them," ANP leader Bashir Ahmed Bilour told IPS.
8) Turmoil Spreads to US Embassy in Yemen
Nasser Arrabyee, Alan Cowell and Rick Gladstone, New York Times, September 13, 2012
Sana, Yemen - Deadly outrage in the Arab world over an American-made video insulting Islam's founder spread to at least half a dozen places across the Middle East on Thursday and threatened to draw in Afghanistan, two days after assailants in Libya killed four American diplomatic personnel, including the ambassador, and caused a foreign policy political clash in the United States.
The worst of the violence was in Yemen, where at least five Yemenis were killed as hundreds of protesters stormed the American Embassy and were repulsed by Yemeni security forces. The embassy's entire staff, sensitive to impending danger, had been safely evacuated hours beforehand, and Yemeni leaders apologized to President Obama for the mayhem.
But some assailants were able to burn cars, plunder office equipment including computers, burn an American flag and hoist their own proclaiming fealty to Islam. Witnesses and Yemeni officials said at least 10 American Embassy vehicles had been damaged or destroyed by fire.
By nightfall, witnesses said, smoke was still rising from the embassy compound in the eastern part of the capital, Sana, as protesters still raged from a perimeter 400 yards away.
In Egypt, where the anti-American anger began on Tuesday over the previously obscure video, protesters scuffled with police officers firing tear gas, and news agencies reported that dozens of people were hurt. Demonstrations were also reported outside United States diplomatic facilities in Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia - where the police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds - and an anti-American protest was held in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.
In Iran, where nearly all large protests must get government approval, witnesses and news reports said 500 Iranians screaming "Death to America!" converged outside the Swiss Embassy, which handles American diplomatic interests, and were restrained by hundreds of police officers.
The authorities in Afghanistan, where deadly violence has chronically flared over perceived insults to Islam, scrambled to minimize the possibility that the offending video, which portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a perverted buffoon, could be viewed on the Internet and provoke new protests. Afghanistan officials said they had pressed for an indefinite suspension of access to YouTube, where the video, promoted by a shadowy mélange of right-wing Christians in the United States, had received more than 1.6 million hits by Thursday afternoon.
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a strongly worded denunciation of the video in what her spokeswoman later said was an effort to quash the mistaken belief in some parts of the Arab world that the United States government somehow had sponsored or condoned it. "To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible," Mrs. Clinton said at a briefing with Morocco's foreign minister at the State Department. "It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage."
President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi of Yemen said in a statement that he extended his "sincere apologies to President Obama and to the people of the United States of America" for the attack. Mr. Hadi took office in February after his strongman predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh, stepped down in November after months of violent protests.
In an apparent effort to defuse the tension in Egypt, President Mohamed Morsi said Thursday that the attacks on American personnel were unacceptable. Speaking in a television address while visiting Brussels, Mr. Morsi said he supported peaceful demonstrations but rejected attacks on personnel and diplomatic missions.
"The Prophet Muhammad taught us to respect human life," Mr. Morsi said. But he also warned against maligning Islam's founding prophet. "The Prophet Muhammad and Islamic sanctities are red lines for all of us."
9) Colombian GM worker takes hunger strike to Washington
Joey O'Gorman, Colombia Reports, Tuesday, 11 September 2012 16:19
Colombian General Motors (GM) worker Jorge Parra is on hunger-strike again, and this time he is in Washington D.C.
Parra has been protesting what he says was his unfair dismissal from GM for 407 days as of Tuesday, when he spoke to Colombia Reports from the U.S.
In August Parra and other former GM workers who claimed they had been unfairly dismissed by GM, sewed their mouths shut in hunger-strike outside the U.S. embassy in Colombia's capital Bogota where they had already been camping in protest for a year.
The protestors starved for 22 days until, under increasing pressure from public figures in the U.S., negotiations were called again on August 23rd. After a mere three-and-a-half days the talks were broken off when GM refused to meet the protestors demands to be rehabilitated and retrained so they could resume working in the company.
According to the International Business Times however, GM said that the workers "walked out" of the meetings, a statement strongly refuted by Jorge Parra.
"It is completely false that we walked away, the only thing GM offered was $6,000 to share between the 12 workers, that is not even enough to buy a hot-dog stand," said Parra.
The protest has been brought to the U.S. because according to Parra, who walks with a cane and suffers from severe carpal tunnel syndrome, GM only offered to put the meager compensation fund into a foundation, thus washing their hands of any responsibility for the workers' damaged health.
According to GM however the offers to the workers were "very generous" and "on par with similar offers we have made in the U.S." reported the International Business Times.
Jorge Parra has slammed GM's "generosity" calling it "basically a joke" and asserting that the paltry economic compensation along with the company's refusal to accept any responsibility for the workers' condition was unacceptable.
"They basically called us personas-non-gratas and said we were dangerous to the workplace," said Parra who has been on hunger strike for eight days now.
Parra is confident that the resumption of his hunger strike in Washington will draw the desired attention to the struggle of the workers in Colombia, nine of whom have re-sewn their mouths shut outside the Bogota embassy, and put pressure on GM to come to a resolution.
"The reaction of GM would undoubtedly have been better if this had happened in the U.S." said Gimena Sanchez who is championing the Colombian workers' rights in Washington and hosting Parra during his time there. "This is about a U.S. company having an economic advantage in another country."
As for Parra, the "Traveling Hunger-Striker," he says he is maintaining "good spirits and I'm hopeful, while thinking of my family and the workers camped outside the U.S. embassy in Bogota."
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