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[Transcript]  Mosaic News - 2/5/10: World News From The Middle East

Twin Iraqi bombs kill 32 Shi'ite Karbala pilgrims

Dubai TV, UAE
Presenter, Man # 1
Welcome, there are some indications that relations between the US and the Iraqi government have become tense ahead of the Iraqi parliamentary elections. Today, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced his rejection of the US ambassador to Iraq’s intervention in the elections, and said that he went “beyond his diplomatic mission”. Al-Maliki reiterated that he will not let what he referred to as the Baathist killers from infiltrating the parliament. Meanwhile, pilgrims in Karbala were the target of two explosions that killed 27 and injured more than 70 others; according to initial figures. The governor of Karbala, Amal al-Dean al-Her, said that millions of Arab and non-Arab pilgrims are visiting the holy Shiite city. We leave you with Asmahan al-Khury.

Reporter, Woman # 1
Karbala’s entrances were crowded with people dressed in black. On Friday, the celebrations of the Arbaeen, which marks 40 days after the Ashura anniversary and commemorates the slaying of Imam Hussein, have peaked. Neither the deteriorating security situation nor the explosions have deterred these pilgrims from continuing their pilgrimage in southern Iraq. Security forces enforced strict security measures. Thousands of police officers were deployed at the city entrances and carried out strict security searches, especially after Karbala pilgrims have been the target of explosions since the beginning of this week. Dozens were killed and a large number of pilgrims were injured in many areas. The failure of Iraqi security forces to enforce security raises big question marks about the future of the land of the two rivers, especially ahead of the parliamentary elections in which Iraqis are hoping to participate. Millions of pilgrims crowed the streets of Karbala despite fears of more possible explosions. They spent the night here in order to perform religious rituals. Iraqis have gotten used to defy death all the time and everywhere.

15 activists arrested in Iran

Al Arabiya TV, UAE
Presenter, Male #1
22 people were killed in two separate bombings in Pakistan, in the city of Karachi. Police said that 12 of them died in the blast that took place in a hospital wing that was treating the injured victims of the first blast. The other blast targeted a passenger bus and led to 12 deaths and 40 injuries. In one of the more dangerous regions in Afghanistan, a bomb exploded and led to two deaths and dozens of injuries. The bomb was installed on a motorcycle, and was detonated by remote control in a street of Lashkar Gah, in the province of Helmand. It targeted a gathering of people who came to watch a dogfight. The blast comes at a time when US and UK troops are preparing to launch a large military campaign against Taliban fighters on the western threshold of Lashkar Gah. On the political front, Afghan President Hamid Karzai affirmed, at the end of his visit to Saudi Arabia, that Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz can play the mediating role in the peace project intended to end the tension in Afghanistan.

Guest, Male #1
In our opinion, as Afghan people, Saudi Arabia is the leader of the Islamic world. It has taken many honorable positions, especially the servant of the Two Holy Shrines, King Abdullah. He is the leader of the Islamic world and a great person. He can play a mediation role in the peace program that we are working on.

Presenter, Male #1
In the continuously escalating crisis in Iran, authorities arrested 15 political activists in Tehran on the eve of demonstrations to commemorate the revolution. In another development, Iran’s Prosecutor-General Gholam-Hossein Ejei announced that the Iranian judiciary is following the reformist leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s profile and preparing for his arrest. This comes in light of new complaints by parliament members who accused Mousavi of working against the national security of Iran. More than one hundred representatives had filed similar complaints before against Mousavi and another reformist, Mehdi Karroubi. The President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), Judge Antonio Cassese, mentioned that terrorist crimes, such as the assassination of the former prime minister of the Lebanese government Rafiq al-Hariri, are more complicated than war crimes. He reiterated that political pressure cannot have any influence on the court. Cassese added that since the beginning, he thought that the military institution committed the crime. He said that the objective of his mission is to find the perpetrators and figure out the link between them, and the cause that led to the massacre, in addition to finding out who ordered it to be carried out. Today, Cassese ended his week-long visit to Lebanon, where he met a number of Lebanese officials.

US backs excluded Iraqi candidates

Al-Rafidain, Iraq
Presenter, Male #1
The so-called Accountability and Justice Commission in the province of Waset has reversed its decision to ban five candidates from running in the upcoming parliamentary elections. According to an official from the Waset election office, they received the names of the five candidates who are no longer banned from running. The Accountability and Justice Commission released a list of 24 banned candidates from different political parties in Waset. Iraqi political analyst Mr. Jasem Latif joins us from Washington for more analysis. Mr. Jasem, we welcome you.

Guest, Male # 2
Thank you, sir.

Presenter, Male #1
Why did the Accountability and Justice Commission reverse its decision to ban some candidates from running? Is the commission trying to establish its legitimacy or are there other reasons?

Guest, Male # 2
No sir, this commission which is led and manipulated by war criminal and international thief Ahmad Shalabi, was forced to reverse its decision because of American pressure. President Obama told the president of the Kurdish Region in Iraq, Masud al-Barazai, during his visit to the White House a few days ago, that there is nothing called the state of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq. The White the House supports the Kurds but within a united Iraq. Recently, the American administration, although it is very late as usual, realized that Iran completely enforced its control over southern Iraq and that the Kurds want a new state. These developments negatively affect US interests in Iraq and the Middle East. This is why US officials are pressuring their agents in Baghdad to calm the situation. The Arab world has realized that the objective of these political maneuvers, regardless of the terminologies used to describe them, is to undermine two groups in particular. The first group, and I’m not being biased, encompasses the Sunnis in Iraq. The second group is the so-called secularists, led by Iyad Allawi. These two groups are the independent actors in Iraq, not the manipulated ones in the green zoon. They collaborate with Iran and the US. The true independent actors in Iraq are the Iraqi resistance members that still reject the occupation and the collaboration with its forces.

Tension between Israel and Syria escalates

IBA, Israel
Tension between Jerusalem and Damascus escalated further today after a stern warning was given by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Syrian President Bashar el-Assad. Lieberman said that in the event of hostilities between Israel and Syria, Syrian President Bashar el-Assad will lose not only the war but will lose power as well. Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Otari responded by saying that anyone who threatens Syria is destined to failure because the Syrian nation has the strength and resolve to fight for its rights.

Hamas criticizes the US

Al Aqsa, Gaza
Presenter, Male #1
The Chinese foreign ministry warned that it might impose sanctions on U.S. companies selling arms to Taiwan. The Chinese warning comes after Washington approved an arms deal with Taiwan. The Chinese defense ministry said that it would suspend military exchanges with the US, including joint security training sessions. In another development, the U.S. stepped up its military arsenal on the Persian Gulf in order to counter Iran.

Reporter, Male #2
It seems as if the world was one of its sovereign states granting it the right to run its affairs. This is the case of the United States versus the world. The U.S. is continuing to meddle in the world’s affairs and dictate its policies to sovereign nations. The U.S. has always had a policy of double standard: On one side, the U.S. has exerted a lot of effort to help expand the influence of its allies. On the other, the U.S. has fought hard against countries trying to break away from its political orbit. This is the policy of the U.S., case in point. The U.S. has extended its giant arms, just like that of an octopus, to seize control of every part of the world. From the U.S. intervention in the Palestinian cause and its unconditional support of the Zionist occupation, to the meddling in Arab affairs….The U.S. has always held a double standard in its dealing with the issue. Before waging a destructive war on Iraq, the U.S. engaged in a series of wars in Afghanistan and the Far East. The U.S. sanctions on North Korea are still lingering today, and it escalates to the point of supporting one country at the expense of another. With China continuing to gain momentum, the U.S. started to look into forming an alliance to help counter the Chinese influence in the region. The U.S. signed an arms deal with Taiwan. The deal includes the sale of 114 patriot interceptor missiles and 60 Black Hawk helicopters. In justifying its decision, the U.S. said that the deal aims to maintain security and stability between China and Taiwan. However, China condemned the deal, and announced retaliatory measures, which include suspending military exchanges with the US and imposing sanctions on companies involved in the deal. As far as Iran is concerned, there is a lot to say: The U.S. has strongly lobbied for imposing sanctions on Iran over the latter’s nuclear program. Washington recently deployed new missile defense systems in the Persian Gulf, saying the shield is necessary to counter any Iranian attack. The U.S. also deployed special warships off the Iranian coast. In addition, it established new anti-missile systems in four Arab countries. Despite its superiority, which placed it at the top of the world’s pyramid, the U.S. has started to descend, which may spare the world further destruction.

Prisoners train police dogs

Al Jazeera, Qatar
Presenter, Male #1
Dogs perform security tasks and play roles not suitable for human beings or other animals.

Presenter, Female #1
But there is still a lot of demand for human dog-trainers, even in prison. The following report comes from the state of New York.

Reporter, Male #1
Dogs behind bars: not because they are serving time in prison, but to learn to perform needed tasks of training and qualifying people in a New York prison. A non-governmental organization began this program to train prisoners and have them invest their energies in carrying out tasks and services of vital importance, which will give them an advantage in the job market. The prisoners here train what are known as “service dogs”, animals that are assigned to scout, search, guard and help people with disabilities.

Guest, Male #1
“They might have been some different type of person” a few years ago, some were sentenced to death, but they’ve changed now. They are doing a good job and they love their dogs very much.

Reporter, Male #1
The dogs are first trained to scout through their sense of smell, to qualify them to fight drugs and search for weapons and other prohibited items. The demand for these dogs increased after September 11th, when the United Stated tightened its security measures to an unprecedented degree. Associated with these measures, dogs receive intense training to build their communication skills to become capable of making emergency calls, especially when they accompany sick people or seniors. Moreover, the dogs will be trained next to carry out military missions by accompanying newly drafted soldiers who are not accustomed to the required military tasks. It is said that the dogs give them confidence and help them perform many difficult duties.

Guest, Female #1
“The intangible skills are that these guys are really really good dog trainers”. They know everything about training dogs and they have team spirit. This is very important “in his or her daily life”.

Reporter, Male #1
Hundreds of dogs went through this place. Suffice to hear the prisoners or trainers’ memories. They do not hide their happiness for the role they play and the career they learn from behind bars. The prison’s administration has arranged to hold a graduation ceremony after every semester. The dogs receive certificates, which they may not know the value of, but they walk away with merits that prepare them for a new and different page in their lives.

Palestinian rappers in refugee camps in Lebanon

BBC Arabic, UK
Presenter, Woman # 1
Palestinian youth living in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are rapping. And despite their limited resources, some of them have moved up from being amateur rappers into professional ones. They sing about life and politics.

Reporter, Woman # 2
This is one of the neighborhoods in the Burj al-Barajina refugee camp, the home of Palestinian refugees in Beirut’s southern suburb. A small studio is located here, where the Palestinian duet: Yaseem Qasem and Muhamd Tereq record their rap songs. The suffering of the Palestinians, Lebanon’s refusal to grant them citizenship and the separation wall are some of the sources of inspirations for their lyrics. They call their band the “Invincible Voice”.

Guest, Man # 1
If I was not rapping, I would be sitting on the streets like the rest of the people that you see here. They spend their entire time smoking hookah. I would have dropped out of school and stopped studying.

Reporter, Woman # 2
Inside the studio, one sees limited resources which are everything that Muhammad and Yaseen have to record their songs. The studio consists of one small room. The walls and the ceiling were covered with sound proofing to improve sound quality. Yaseen managed to get recording equipment by providing a production company free labor. Every single one of their songs has a story. One song is called “Coup”, which according to the Palestinian duet has generated a lot of criticism from many Palestinian officials because it talks about the internal Palestinian division and the struggle for power.

Guest, Man # 1
I rap my lyrics. My lyrics are about what I see. My eyes have become cameras and I use my voice to describe what I see. I write my lyrics about how people live. I would not let other people write my lyrics.

Reporter, Woman # 2
After they finished recording in this humble studio, these young men went to the place they usually go to in order to get inspiration for their songs. It is the separation wall isolating the refugee camp from Beirut’s southern suburbs. The road to the separation wall is narrow due to the random construction within the refugee camp. The electric wires are also randomly extended to these homes, a reminder for the residents of this refugee camp of one of their sons who was electrocuted to death by wires that fell on him. The “Invincible Voice” Palestinian duet also reflects the difficulties facing Palestinian refugees in their every-day lives by displaying street art on this wall. Some of the graffiti is about the separation wall that Israel built inside Palestinian land.

Reporter, Woman # 2
Silvana Bashir, BBC, Burj al-Barajina refugee camp, Beirut’s southern suburb.

Israel: Occupation or Apartheid?

Link TV, USA
The dreaded "A-Word" has once again made its way into Israeli media, not by a leftist "self-hating Jew", but by a prominent Israeli politician, the Minister of Defense, who is a decorated soldier and a former prime minister as well. "A" is for Apartheid.

An awful word that evokes awful memories, presumably left behind in the annals of history in places such as Soweto and Cape Town. A word that has invited rage, insults, and attacks against a former US president who received a Nobel Peace Prize.

This past Tuesday, however, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that if Israel does not achieve a peace deal with the Palestinians, it will have to become a binational state or be an undemocratic apartheid one if it remains as it is.

"The simple truth is, if there is one state" including Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, "it will have to be either binational or undemocratic. ... if this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state," Barak said at the Herzliya Conference north of Tel Aviv.

Though rarely used by Israeli leaders in connection to the Palestinians, the term "apartheid" is becoming more common to describe the current reality on the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

More than two years ago, on the anniversary of the 1947 UN partition plan that would have divided British mandate Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned of this same scenario. In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, Ehud Olmert said Israel was "finished" if it forced the Palestinians into a struggle for equal rights.

If the two-state solution collapsed, he said, Israel would "face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, and as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished".

But veteran Israeli journalist David Michaelis believes that a South African-style apartheid system has already emerged due to Israel's prolonged occupation of Palestinian territories.

"What Ehud Barak intended to do is to send a stark warning that Israel is heading towards a binational situation; however, we are already in a binational situation, and an apartheid system that's working very well for the Israeli military and government."

Five years ago David Michaelis and I jointly interviewed Palestinians and Israelis about the prospect of a binational state. Most Palestinians we spoke to then were thinking of independence and most Israelis were thinking of separation. At the time, the Israeli government was frantically building the Separation Wall, and only a handful of Israelis entertained the idea of binational coexistence. One such person we interviewed who predicted what Ehud Barak is currently cautioning of was Meron Benvenisti, a former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem.

Benvenisti has recently published an elaborate article in Ha'aretz chronicling how Israel became a de facto binational regime.

"The attempt to mark the settlements, and the settlers, as the major impediment to peace is a convenient alibi, obfuscating the involvement of the entire Israeli body politic in maintaining and expanding the regime of coercion and discrimination in the occupied territories, and benefiting from it," he argued.

According to him, the violent events of the (second) intifada brought the Jewish-Israeli public to a crossroads in relation to their neighbors-enemies. Benvenisti argues that Israeli-Jews turned their backs on the Palestinians, erasing them from their consciousness and imprisoning them behind impenetrable walls, and became willing to congregate in a ghetto and pray that the Mediterranean might dry up or a bridge be built to connect them with Europe.

"This mentality is manifested in two, recently constructed, architectural monuments whose symbolism transcends their functional value: The gigantic Separation Wall and the colossal Ben Gurion air terminal. The former is meant to hide the Palestinians and erase them from Israeli consciousness and the latter serves as an escape gateway."

David Michaelis concurs and believes that most Israelis prefer to live in denial and avoid the subject of apartheid.

"The peace process is a misnomer, and the word occupation is misleading because it's really about systematic control."

How long can Israelis live in this denial and pretend that apartheid-like conditions do not exist?

Well you've heard the expression, "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck..."