Not just a slogan on a T-shirt

Lawrence of Cyberia goes through those hilarious Israeli army T-shirts and matches them with the war crime behind them:

That crazy Israeli sense of humor

This is Israel

Dead Palestinian babies and bombed mosques – IDF fashion 2009 – Haaretz – Israel News:

“Dead babies, mothers weeping on their children’s graves, a gun aimed at a child and bombed-out mosques – these are a few examples of the images Israel Defense Forces soldiers design these days to print on shirts they order to mark the end of training, or of field duty. The slogans accompanying the drawings are not exactly anemic either: A T-shirt for infantry snipers bears the inscription ‘Better use Durex,’ next to a picture of a dead Palestinian baby, with his weeping mother and a teddy bear beside him. A sharpshooter’s T-shirt from the Givati Brigade’s Shaked battalion shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a bull’s-eye superimposed on her belly, with the slogan, in English, ‘1 shot, 2 kills.’ A ‘graduation’ shirt for those who have completed another snipers course depicts a Palestinian baby, who grows into a combative boy and then an armed adult, with the inscription, ‘No matter how it begins, we’ll put an end to it.’

There are also plenty of shirts with blatant sexual messages. For example, the Lavi battalion produced a shirt featuring a drawing of a soldier next to a young woman with bruises, and the slogan, ‘Bet you got raped!’ A few of the images underscore actions whose existence the army officially denies – such as ‘confirming the kill’ (shooting a bullet into an enemy victim’s head from close range, to ensure he is dead), or harming religious sites, or female or child non-combatants. “

Oh but they do try so hard to avoid civilian casualties…

The rise of the “Awakenings” model

Is this really a good idea:

Pakistan plans to arm tens of thousands of anti-Taliban tribal fighters in its western border region in hopes — shared by the U.S. military — that the nascent militias can replicate the tribal “Awakening” movement that proved decisive in the battle against al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The militias, called lashkars, will receive Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifles and other small arms, a purchase arranged during a visit to Beijing this month by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistani officials said.

Do you really want to pump in tons of small arms into an area of great lawlessness and tribal rivalry?

25 senior MBs sentenced 3-10 years by military tribunal


Ikhwanonline has special front page for occasion. Some background in English from Ikhwanweb at “Final Session of MB Military Tribunal today” and “Journalists and MB Supporters Harrassed Prior to Military Verdict

Pending detail of who got what sentence, what many will be looking for is what the bigshots — Khairat al-Shater, Hassan Malek, Muhammad Bishr and others — got. Reuters says Khairat al-Shater is among those convicted, which is as expected. I am surprised at the 10-year sentence, most had been expecting sentences of 3-5 years, although it is not clear which charges were actually applied in the end. MB lawyer Abdel Moneim Maksoud is awaiting full details of verdict.

AFP says there is no right of appeal to verdict, but I am not so sure, didn’t Mubarak last year ask for the creation of a military appeals court?

AFP reports Hassan Malek and Khairat al-Shater got 7 years each – definitely worse than expected. Seven members tried in absentia got the maximum 10 years, and 16 others received sentences of between 18 months (which is the amount of time that has elapsed, more or less, since the original arrests in late 2006 and early 2007) and five years.

With Malek and al-Shater likely to serve their full 7-year sentence, the immediate questions will be 1) how does their sentence affect the MB’s fundraising ability, since these are two of the wealthiest members who own a variety of IT and engineering companies, among other things; 2) what does it mean for the succession of the General Guide, since al-Shater was a favorite to head the MB (and for some was already a de facto leader) after current guide Mahdi Akef, 80, should step down in the next few years? Also, who will fill al-Shater and Malek’s positions in the organization as well as in the Guidance Bureau?

Full list of who got what [Arabic]. Ikhwanweb has a summary in English. AFP also has a write-up.

Also, I can confirm that this verdict is appealable according to a law passed in mid-April 2007 that introduces appeals for the court, despite reports to the contrary. The appeal may provide another opportunity for negotiation between the MB and the regime, but is also potentially risky: a new verdict could be worse, particularly considering the uncertainty of the set(s) of charges against the defendants.

Hmmm I can imagine the press will have fun with the fact that the other verdict of the day exonerates a NDP bigwig in the worst public health scandal of last year.

AP report here, Akef reacts with typical vim:

Mohammed Mahdi Akef, the group’s supreme leader, slammed the verdict, describing Egyptian authorities as “corrupt” and a “bunch of gangsters.” Akef said there was “no evidence” against them and that he had “expected the court to acquit them all.”

(The above post has been updated continuously — newest paragraphs at the bottom)

Leaked doc shows open-ended US stay in Iraq

No clear end to occupation:

A confidential draft agreement covering the future of US forces in Iraq, passed to the Guardian, shows that provision is being made for an open-ended military presence in the country.

The draft strategic framework agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, dated March 7 and marked “secret” and “sensitive”, is intended to replace the existing UN mandate and authorises the US to “conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security” without time limit.

The authorisation is described as “temporary” and the agreement says the US “does not desire permanent bases or a permanent military presence in Iraq”. But the absence of a time limit or restrictions on the US and other coalition forces – including the British – in the country means it is likely to be strongly opposed in Iraq and the US.

Iraqi critics point out that the agreement contains no limits on numbers of US forces, the weapons they are able to deploy, their legal status or powers over Iraqi citizens, going far beyond long-term US security agreements with other countries. The agreement is intended to govern the status of the US military and other members of the multinational force.

[From Secret US plan for military future in Iraq | World news | The Guardian]

US struggles to explain AFRICOM vision

US struggles to explain AFRICOM vision:

Gen Ward argued that AFRICOM ‘recognises the essential relationship between security, stability, economic development, political advances, things that address the basic needs of the peoples of a region and, importantly, the requirement to do those efforts in as collaborative a way as possible – not to take over the work of others, but to ensure the work that is being done complements the work that others are doing in pursuit of those same endeavours’.

However, the presentations at RUSI that followed that of Gen Ward made it clear that the US track record of intervention in the 20th Century – in Africa as well as in Latin America and Southeast Asia – is making the promotion of AFRICOM as a benevolent force an uphill struggle.

‘We cannot ignore the notion that AFRICOM will be used to prop up friendly regimes given how this has happened in the past,’ said Dr David Francis, director of Bradford University’s Africa Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.

Francis cited US support for the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko from 1965-97 in Zaire (to which the US was the third largest donor despite Mobutu’s poor human rights record) and its close ties with Liberia during the 1980s (which the US saw as a bulwark against Marxist movements on the continent) as examples of how the US has pursued its own interests in Africa in the past.

The link above is only to a small part of the article, if anyone has access to the full thing, I’d appreciate an email…

The Myth of the Surge

From Nir Rosen’s The Myth of the Surge in Rolling Stone, on the co-optation of former insurgents that had caused a decline in violence over the past year in Iraq :

But loyalty that can be purchased is by its very nature fickle. Only months ago, members of the Awakening were planting IEDs and ambushing U.S. soldiers. They were snipers and assassins, singing songs in honor of Fallujah and fighting what they viewed as a war of national liberation against the foreign occupiers. These are men the Americans described as terrorists, Saddam loyalists, dead-enders, evildoers, Baathists, insurgents. There is little doubt what will happen when the massive influx of American money stops: Unless the new Iraqi state continues to operate as a vast bribing machine, the insurgent Sunnis who have joined the new militias will likely revert to fighting the ruling Shiites, who still refuse to share power.

“We are essentially supporting a quasi-feudal devolution of authority to armed enclaves, which exist at the expense of central government authority,” says Chas Freeman, who served as ambassador to Saudi Arabia under the first President Bush. “Those we are arming and training are arming and training themselves not to facilitate our objectives but to pursue their own objectives vis-a-vis other Iraqis. It means that the sectarian and ethnic conflicts that are now suppressed are likely to burst out with even greater ferocity in the future.”

Maj. Pat Garrett, who works with the 2-2 Stryker Cavalry Regiment, is already having trouble figuring out what to do with all the new militiamen in his district. There are too few openings in the Iraqi security forces to absorb them all, even if the Shiite-dominated government agreed to integrate them. Garrett is placing his hopes on vocational-training centers that offer instruction in auto repair, carpentry, blacksmithing and English. “At the end of the day, they want a legitimate living,” Garrett says. “That’s why they’re joining the ISVs.”

But men who have taken up arms to defend themselves against both the Shiites and the Americans won’t be easily persuaded to abandon their weapons in return for a socket wrench. After meeting recently in Baghdad, U.S. officials concluded in an internal report, “Most young Concerned Local Citizens would probably not agree to transition from armed defenders of their communities to the local garbage men or rubble cleanup crew working under the gaze of U.S. soldiers and their own families.” The new militias have given members of the Awakening their first official foothold in occupied Iraq. They are not likely to surrender that position without a fight. The Shiite government is doing little to find jobs for them, because it doesn’t want them back, and violence in Iraq is already starting to escalate. By funding the ISVs and rearming the Sunnis who were stripped of their weapons at the start of the occupation, America has created a vast, uncoordinated security establishment. If the Shiite government of Iraq does not allow Sunnis in the new militias to join the country’s security forces, warns one leader of the Awakening, “It will be worse than before.”

An interesting piece with a lot of surprisingly negative commentary by US forces and officials — read it all.