intellectual property rights: This blogger firmly believes in intellectual and other property rights. Links have been given to the material including images and maps used from outside sources. The blogger requests pointing out any material that have escaped this policy.
Today: consumption kills eco-systems; fraud, greed, grand larceny and theft bring down world's finances; deceit, infidelity and instant gratification destroy families; murders and wars have left us without peace or stability. On top we have droughts, earthquakes, floods, storms, tsunamis … has the world gone mad! Submit now to Allah before it is too late - to the One and Only God, the Creator, Lord and Sustainer of the universe, Unique in His Person and Actions, without any blemish, weakness or relatives. Follow the Sunnah of Muhammad (the last Messenger and Prophet - upon whom be the peace and blessings of Allah), and join those who will be the really successful ones.

see end of page for buttoned useful links

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hang the real war-criminals

excerpted from:
A dictator created then destroyed by America
by Robert Fisk, December 30th, The Independent, UK

Tony Blair is not Saddam. We don't gas our enemies. George W Bush is not Saddam. He didn't invade Iran or Kuwait. He only invaded Iraq. But hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead - and thousands of Western troops are dead - because Messrs Bush and Blair and the Spanish Prime Minister and the Italian Prime Minister and the Australian Prime Minister went to war in 2003 on a potage of lies and mendacity and, given the weapons we used, with great brutality.

In the aftermath of the international crimes against humanity of 2001 we have tortured, we have murdered, we have brutalised and killed the innocent - we have even added our shame at Abu Ghraib to Saddam's shame at Abu Ghraib - and yet we are supposed to forget these terrible crimes as we applaud the swinging corpse of the dictator we created.

Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half souls? And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam's weird trial, forbade any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him. Could he not have been handed over to the Iranians for sentencing for this massive war crime? Of course not. Because that would also expose our culpability.

And the mass killings we perpetrated in 2003 with our depleted uranium shells and our "bunker buster" bombs and our phosphorous, the murderous post-invasion sieges of Fallujah and Najaf, the hell-disaster of anarchy we unleashed on the Iraqi population in the aftermath of our "victory" - our "mission accomplished" - who will be found guilty of this? Such expiation as we might expect will come, no doubt, in the self-serving memoirs of Blair and Bush, written in comfortable and wealthy retirement.

Hours before Saddam's death sentence, his family - his first wife, Sajida, and Saddam's daughter and their other relatives - had given up hope.

"Whatever could be done has been done - we can only wait for time to take its course," one of them said last night. But Saddam knew, and had already announced his own "martyrdom": he was still the president of Iraq and he would die for Iraq. All condemned men face a decision: to die with a last, grovelling plea for mercy or to die with whatever dignity they can wrap around themselves in their last hours on earth. His last trial appearance - that wan smile that spread over the mass-murderer' s face - showed us which path Saddam intended to walk to the noose.

I have catalogued his monstrous crimes over the years. I have talked to the Kurdish survivors of Halabja and the Shia who rose up against the dictator at our request in 1991 and who were betrayed by us - and whose comrades, in their tens of thousands, along with their wives, were hanged like thrushes by Saddam's executioners.

I have walked round the execution chamber of Abu Ghraib - only months, it later transpired, after we had been using the same prison for a few tortures and killings of our own ..."

Saturday, December 30, 2006

octopuses that walk

Octopuses that walk

Octopus - a 1.2 Mb Quicktime file

Octopuses that walk

Octopus marginatus

Octopus aculeatus


Monday, December 25, 2006

Octpuses drying

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Giant Squid

Giant Squid caught on Video


Previously caught Giant Squids:

The beak of a Giant Squid

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Islamic Charities

taken from:'s madidah board

Islamic Charities for Qurbani

Islamic Relief
6131 Orangethorpe Ave Ste 450
Buena Park, CA 90620
Tel: (714) 676-1300 main line
Fax: (714) 676-1301

ICNA Relief
166-26, 89th. Avenue
Jamaica, NY 11432
Tel (718) 658-7028
Fax (718) 658-3434

Indian Muslim Relief and Charities
800 San Antonio Road, Suite 1
Palo Alto, CA 94303
Telephone: 650-856-0440
Fax: 650-856-0444

Mercy USA
44450 Pinetree Drive Suite 201
Plymouth, Michigan 48170-3869
Phone: (734) 454-0011
Fax: (734) 454-0303
Toll Free: 1-800-556-3729 or 1-800-55-MERCY

Hidaya Foundation
1765 Scott Blvd. Suite 115
Santa Clara, CA 95050
Telephone 408-244-3282
1-866-2HIDAYA (866-244-3292)
Fax 1-866-3HIDAYA (866-344-3292)

Life for Relief and Development
17300 W 10 Mile Rd.
Southfield, MI 48075
Tel: (248) 424-7493
Fax: (248) 424-8325
Toll Free (US&CAN): 1-800-827-3543

The Zakat Foundation
P.O. Box 639
Worth, IL 60482
Phone: 708.499.6151
Fax: 708.499.6154

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What is your excuse?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

to whom does it refer?

what is the following, who wrote this, and to whom does it refer?

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

odious excuses

Here come the odious excuses

The philosophers behind the bloodbath in Iraq are now washing their hands

By Robert Fisk

11/11/06 "The Independent" -- -- "Great news from America!" the cashier at my local Beirut bookshop shouted at me yesterday morning, raising her thumbs in the air. "Things will be better after these elections?" Alas, I said. Alas, no. Things are going to get worse in the Middle East even if, in two years' time, America is blessed with a Democrat (and democratic) president. For the disastrous philosophers behind the bloodbath in Iraq are now washing their hands of the whole mess and crying "Not Us!" with the same enthusiasm as the Lebanese lady in my book shop, while the "experts" on the mainstream US east coast press are preparing the ground for our Iraqi retreat - by blaming it all on those greedy, blood-lusting, anarchic, depraved, uncompromising Iraqis.

I must say that Richard Perle's version of a mea culpa did take my breath away. Here was the ex-chairman of the Pentagon's Defence Policy Board Advisory Committee - he who once told us that "Iraq is a very good candidate for democratic reform" - now admitting that he "underestimated the depravity" in Iraq. He holds the president responsible, of course, acknowledging only that - and here, dear reader, swallow hard - "I think if I had been Delphic, and had seen where we are today, and people had said: 'Should we go into Iraq?' I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies...'"

Maybe I find this self-righteous, odious mea culpa all the more objectionable because the same miserable man was shouting abuse down a radio line to me in Baghdad a couple of years ago, condemning me for claiming that America was losing its war in Iraq and claiming that I was "a supporter of the maintenance of the Baathist regime". This lie, I might add, was particularly malicious since I was reporting Saddam's mass rapes and mass hangings at Abu Ghraib prison (and being refused Iraqi visas) when Perle and his cohorts were silent about Saddam's wickedness and when their chum Donald Rumsfeld was cheerfully shaking the monster's hand in Baghdad in an attempt to reopen the US embassy there.

Not that Perle isn't in good company. Kenneth Adelman, the Pentagon neocon who also beat the drums for war, has been telling Vanity Fair that "the idea of using our power for moral good in the world" is dead. As for Adelman's mate David Frumm, well he's decided that George Bush just "did not absorb the ideas" behind the speeches Frumm wrote for him. But this, I'm afraid, is not the worst to come from those who encouraged us to invade Iraq and start a war which has cost the lives of perhaps 600,000 civilians.

For a new phenomenon is creeping into the pages of The New York Times and those other great organs of state in America. For those journalists who supported the war, it's not enough to bash George. No, they've got a new flag to fly: the Iraqis don't deserve us. David Brooks - he who once told us that neocons such as Perle had nothing to do with the President's decision to invade Iraq - has been ransacking his way through Elie Kedourie's 1970 essay on the British occupation of Mesopotamia in the 1920s. And what has he discovered? That "the British tried to encourage responsible leadership to no avail", quoting a British officer at the time as concluding that Iraqi Shia "have no motive for refraining from sacrificing the interests of Iraq to those which they conceive to be their own".

But the Brooks article in The New York Times was also frightening. Iraq, he now informs us, is suffering "a complete social integration", and "American blunders" were exacerbated "by the same old Iraqi demons: greed, blood lust and a mind-boggling unwillingness to compromise, even in the face of self-immolation". Iraq, Brooks has decided, is "teetering on the edge of futility" (whatever that means) and if American troops cannot restore order, "it will be time to effectively end Iraq", diffusing authority down to "the clan, the tribe or sect" which - wait for it - are "the only communities which are viable".

Nor should you believe that the Brooks article represents a lone voice. Here is Ralph Peters, a USA Today writer and retired US army officer. He had supported the invasion because, he says, he was "convinced that the Middle East was so politically, socially, morally and intellectually stagnant that we (sic) had to risk intervention - or face generations of terrorism and tumult". For all Washington's errors, Peters boasts, "we did give the Iraqis a unique chance to build a rule-of-law democracy".

But those pesky Iraqis, it now seems, "preferred to indulge in old hatreds, confessional violence, ethnic bigotry and a culture of corruption". Peters' conclusion? "Arab societies can't support democracy as we know it." As a result, "it's their tragedy, not ours. Iraq was the Arab world's last chance to board the train to modernity, to give the region a future...". Incredibly, Peters finishes by believing that "if the Arab world and Iran embark on an orgy of bloodshed, the harsh truth is that we may be the beneficiaries" because Iraq will have "consumed" "terrorists" and the United States will "still be the greatest power on earth".

It's not the shamefulness of all this - do none of these men have any shame? - but the racist assumption that the hecatomb in Iraq is all the fault of the Iraqis, that their intrinsic backwardness, their viciousness, their failure to appreciate the fruits of our civilisation make them unworthy of our further attention. At no point does anyone question whether the fact that America is "the greatest power on earth" might not be part of the problem. Nor that Iraqis who endured among their worst years of dictatorship when Saddam was supported by the United States, who were sanctioned by the UN at a cost of a half a million children's lives and who were then brutally invaded by our armies, might not actually be terribly keen on all the good things we wished to offer them. Many Arabs, as I've written before, would like some of our democracy, but they would also like another kind of freedom - freedom from us.

But you get the point. We are preparing our get-out excuses. The Iraqis don't deserve us. Screw them. That's the grit we're laying down on the desert floor to help our tanks .

© 2006 Independent News and Media Limited

Friday, November 10, 2006

Sentencing a murderer isn't enough;

... charge the accomplices, too!

George Bush Senior: In 1992, a congressional inquiry found that Bush as president had ordered a cover-up to conceal his secret support for Saddam and the illegal arms shipments being sent to Iraq via third countries:

Missile technology was shipped to South Africa and Chile, then on sold to Iraq, while US Commerce Department records were falsified. Congressman Henry Gonzalez, chairman of the House of Representatives Banking Com mittee, said: "[We found that] Bush and his advisers financed, equipped and succoured the monster . . ."

Douglas Hurd: In 1981, as UK Foreign Office minister, Hurd travelled to Baghdad to sell Saddam a British Aerospace missile system and to "celebrate" the anniversary of Saddam's blood-soaked ascent to power.

Tony Newton: As Thatcher's trade secretary, Newton, within a month of Saddam gassing 5,000 Kurds at Halabja (news of which the Foreign Office tried to suppress), offered Saddam £340m in export credits.

Donald Rumsfeld: In December 1983, Rumsfeld was in Baghdad to signal America's approval of Iraq's aggression against Iran. HE returned to Baghdad on 24 March 1984, the day that it was reorted by the UN that Iraq had used Mustard Gas laced with a nerve agent against Iranian soldiers. Rumsfeld said nothing. A subsequent Senate report documented the transfer of the ingredients of biological weapons from a company in Maryland, licensed by the Commerce Department and approved by the State Department.

Madeleine Albright: As President Clinton's secretary of state, she enforced an unrelenting embargo on Iraq which caused half a million "excess deaths" of children under the age of five. When asked on television if the children's deaths were a price worth paying, she replied: "We think the price is worth it."

Peter Hain: In 2001, as UK Foreign Office minister, Hain described as "gratuitous" the suggestion that he, along with other British politicians outspoken in their support of the deadly siege of Iraq, might find themselves summoned before the International Criminal Court. A report for the UN secretary general by a world authority on international law describes the embargo on Iraq in the 1990s as "unequivocally illegal under existing human rights law", a crime that "could raise questions under the Genocide Convention". Indeed, two past heads of the UN humanitarian mission in Iraq, both of them assistant secretary generals, resigned because the embargo was indeed genocidal.

By July 2002, more than $5bn-worth of humanitarian supplies, approved by the UN Sanctions Committee and paid for by Iraq, were blocked by the Bush administration, backed by the Blair and Hain government. These included items related to food, health, water and sanitation.

Bush Junior and Blair: charge them with "the paramount war crime", to quote the judges at Nuremberg and, recently, the chief American prosecutor - that is, unprovoked aggression against a defenceless country.

Charges should also be brought against those who spread and amplified propaganda that led to such epic suffering:

The New York Times reported as fact fabrications fed to its reporter by Iraqi exiles. These gave credibility to the White House's lies, and doubtless helped soften up public opinion to support an invasion.

The BBC which all but celebrated the invasion with its man in Downing Street congratulating Blair on being "conclusively right" on his assertion that he and Bush "would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath". The invasion, it is reliably estimated, has caused 655,000 "excess deaths", overwhelmingly civilians.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The missing trillions

When the Democrats vacated the White House, there were 5 trillion dollars surplus in the US Treasury.

Six years later, with bipartisan support, that five trillion is gone. At the end of 2005, the US foreign debt was $3.7 trillion. By the end of 2006 it would be more than $4.6 trillion:

The Outstanding US Public Debt as of 09 Nov 2006 at 12:38:54 PM GMT is:


The estimated population of the United States is 300,183,662
so each US citizen's share of this debt is $28,638.56.

The National Debt has continued to increase an average of
$2.19 billion per day since September 29, 2006!

The US has fought wars in this time to the tune of 1/2 a trillion in direct costs, and much much more in indirect ones. Let us say a cost of one trillion dollars.

Congratulations, US! I am sure anyone with a little common sense would have been able to provide you security at a much, much less price, and instead of you losing world goodwill, would have been able to enhance it.

This of course does not count the loss and destruction:

o of lives,
o of infrastructure,
o of peace,

but then the US doesn't do body counts, nor estimate the cost to others of its wars.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

U.S. vetoes resolutions critical of Israel

Vetoes: 1972-1982

Subject Date & Meeting US Rep Casting Veto Vote

Palestine: Syrian-Lebanese Complaint. 3 power draft resolution 2/10784 9/10/1972 Bush 13-1, 1

Palestine: Examination of Middle East Situation. 8-power draft resolution (S/10974) 7/2/1973 Scali 13-1, 0 (China not partic.)

Palestine: Egyptian-Lebanese Complaint. 5-power draft power resolution (S/11898) 12/8/1975 Moynihan 13-1, 1

Palestine: Middle East Problem, including Palestinian question. 6-power draft resolution (S/11940) 1/26/1976 Moynihan 9-1,3 (China & Libya not partic.)

Palestine: Situation in Occupied Arab Territories. 5-power draft resolution (S/12022) 3/25/1976 Scranton 14-1,0

Palestine: Report on Committee on Rights of Palestinian People. 4-power draft resolution (S/121119) 6/29/1976 Sherer 10-1,4

Palestine: Palestinian Rights. Tunisian draft resolution. (S/13911) 4/30/1980 McHenry 10-1,4

Palestine: Golan Heights. Jordan draft resolution. (S/14832/Rev. 2) 1/20/1982 Kirkpatrick 9-1,5

Palestine: Situation in Occupied Territories, Jordan draft resolution (S/14943) 4/2/1982 Lichenstein 13-1,1

Palestine: Incident at the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. 4-power draft resolution 4/20/1982 Kirpatrick 14-1, 0

Palestine: Conflict in Lebanon. Spain draft resolution. (S/15185) 6/8/1982 Kirpatrick 14-1,0

Palestine: Conflict in Lebanon. France draft resolution. (S/15255/Rev. 2) 6/26/1982 Lichenstein 14-1

Palestine: Conflict in Lebanon. USSR draft resolution. (S/15347/Rev. 1, as orally amended) 8/6/1982 Lichenstein 11-1,3

Palestine: Situation in Occupied Territories, 20-power draft resolution (S/15895) 8/2/1983 Lichenstein 13-1,1

Security Council Vetoes/Negative voting 1983-present
Subject Date Vote

Occupied Arab Territories: Wholesale condemnation of Israeli settlement policies - not adopted 1983

S. Lebanon: Condemns Israeli action in southern Lebanon. S/16732 9/6/1984 Vetoed: 13-1 (U.S.), with 1 abstention (UK)

Occupied Territories: Deplores "repressive measures" by Israel against Arab population. S/19459. 9/13/1985 Vetoed: 10-1 (U.S.), with 4 abstentions (Australia, Denmark, UK, France)

Lebanon: Condemns Israeli practices against civilians in southern Lebanon. S/17000. 3/12/1985 Vetoed: 11-1 (U.S.), with 3 abstentions (Australia, Denmark, UK)

Occupied Territories: Calls upon Israel to respect Muslim holy places. S/17769/Rev. 1 1/30/1986 Vetoed: 13-1 (US), with one abstention (Thailand)

Lebanon: Condemns Israeli practices against civilians in southern Lebanon. S/17730/Rev. 2. 1/17/1986 Vetoed: 11-1 (U.S.), with 3 abstentions (Australia, Denmark, UK)

Libya/Israel: Condemns Israeli interception of Libyan plane. S/17796/Rev. 1. 2/6/1986 Vetoed: 10 -1 (US), with 4 abstentions (Australia, Denmark, France, UK)

Lebanon: Draft strongly deplored repeated Israeli attacks against Lebanese territory and other measures and practices against the civilian population; (S/19434) 1/18/1988 vetoed 13-1 (US), with 1 abstention (UK)

Lebanon: Draft condemned recent invasion by Israeli forces of Southern Lebanon and repeated a call for the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Lebanese territory; (S/19868) 5/10/1988 vetoed 14-1 (US)

Lebanon: Draft strongly deplored the recent Israeli attack against Lebanese territory on 9 December 1988; (S/20322) 12/14/1988 vetoed 14-1 (US)

Occupied territories: Draft called on Israel to accept de jure applicability of the 4th Geneva Convention; (S/19466) 1988 vetoed 14-1 (US)

Occupied territories: Draft urged Israel to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention, rescind the order to deport Palestinian civilians, and condemned policies and practices of Israel that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories; (S/19780) 1988 vetoed 14-1 (US)

Occupied territories: Strongly deplored Israeli policies and practices in the occupied territories, and strongly deplored also Israel's continued disregard of relevant Security Council decisions. 2/17/1989 Vetoed 14-1 (US)

Occupied territories: Condemned Israeli policies and practices in the occupied territories. 6/9/1989 Vetoed 14-1 (US)

Occupied territories: Deplored Israel's policies and practices in the occupied territories. 11/7/1989 Vetoed 14-1 (US)

Occupied territories: NAM draft resolution to create a commission and send three security council members to Rishon Lezion, where an Israeli gunmen shot down seven Palestinian workers. 5/31/1990 Vetoed 14-1 (US)

Middle East: Confirms that the expropriation of land by Israel in East Jerusalem is invalid and in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions and provisions of the Fourth Geneva convention; expresses support of peace process, including the Declaration of Principles of 9/13/1993 5/17/1995 Vetoed 14-1 (US)

Middle East: Calls upon Israeli authorities to refrain from all actions or measures, including settlement activities. 3/7/1997 Vetoed 14-1 (US)

Middle East: Demands that Israel cease construction of the settlement in east Jerusalem (called Jabal Abu Ghneim by the Palestinians and Har Homa by Israel), as well as all the other Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories 3/21/1997 Vetoed 13-1,1 (US)

Call for UN Observers Force in West Bank, Gaza 3/27/2001 Vetoed 9-1 (US),
with four abstentions (Britain, France, Ireland and Norway)

Condemned acts of terror, demanded an end to violence and the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to bring in observers. 12/14/2001 Vetoed 12-1 (US) with two abstentions (Britain and Norway)

On the killing by Israeli forces of several UN employees and the destruction of the World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse 12/19/2002 12-1 (US) with two abstentions (Bulgaria and Cameroon)

Demand that Israel halt threats to expel Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat 9/16/03 Vetoed 11-1 (US) ith three abstentions (Britain, Germany and Bulgaria)

Seeks to bar Israel from extending security fence 10/14/03 Vetoed 10-1 with four absentations (Britain, Germany, Bulgaria and Cameroon)

Condemns Israel for killing Ahmed Yassin 3/25/04 Vetoed 11-1 (US) with three absentations (Britain, Germany, Romania)

Calls For Israel To Halt Gaza Operation 10/05/04 Vetoed 11-1 (US) with three absentations (Britain, Germany, Romania)

Calls For Israel To Halt Gaza Operation 7/13/06 Vetoed 10-1 (US) with four absentations (Britain, Peru, Denmark and Slovakia)

Source: U.S. State Department; UN, various news sources

Sunday, October 22, 2006

video: El Hajj

El Hajj

Saturday, October 21, 2006

video: Hajj - A Journey of the Heart

jannah's Hajj

Wealth-11: The Mixed Economy

The Mixed Economy: The Foundations of Wealth - Sample 11

Wealth-10: Supply, Demand, Price - 2

Supply, Demand, Price: The Foundations of Wealth - 10

Wealth-09: Supply, Demand, Price - 1

Supply, Demand, Price: The Foundations of Wealth - Sample 9

Wealth-08: Money

Money - The Foundations of Wealth - Sample 8

Wealth-07: Sharing Wealth Politically

Sharing Wealth Politically: The Foundations of Wealth - 7

Wealth-06: A Life Worth Living

A Life Worth Living - The Foundations of Wealth - Sample 6

Wealth-05: Mechanization

Mechanization: The Foundations of Wealth - Sample 5

Wealth-04: Division of Labor 2

Division of Labor 2: The Foundations of Wealth - Sample 4

Wealth-03: Division of Labor 1

Division of Labor 1: The Foundations of Wealth - Sample 3

Wealth-02: How it All Began - 2

How it All Began: The Foundations of Wealth - Sample 2

Wealth-01: How it all began - 1

How it all began: The Foundations of Wealth - Sample 1

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Fictions About the Failure at Camp David

July 8, 2001

Fictions About the Failure at Camp David

Fictions About the Failure at Camp David


WASHINGTON — A year ago this week, President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel and the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat gathered at Camp David for what, in retrospect, many consider a turning point in Israeli-Palestinian relations. From right to left, hawks to doves, comes unusual harmony of opinion both here and in Israel: Camp David is said to have been a test that Mr. Barak passed and Mr. Arafat failed. Offered close to 99 percent of their dreams, the thinking goes, the Palestinians said no and chose to hold out for more. Worse, they did not present any concession of their own, adopting a no-compromise attitude that unmasked their unwillingness to live peacefully with a Jewish state by their side.

I was at Camp David, a member of the small American peace team, and I, too, was frustrated almost to the point of despair by the Palestinians' passivity and inability to seize the moment. But there is no purpose — and considerable harm — in adding to their real mistakes a list of fictional ones. Here are the most dangerous myths about the Camp David summit.

Myth 1: Camp David was an ideal test of Mr. Arafat's intentions.

Mr. Arafat told us on numerous occasions that he had not wanted to go to Camp David. He thought that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had not sufficiently narrowed the gaps separating their positions before the summit, and once there, he made clear in his comments that he felt both isolated from the Arab world and alienated by the close Israeli-American partnership. Moreover, the summit occurred at a low point in Mr. Arafat's relationship with Mr. Barak — the man with whom he was supposed to strike a historic deal. A number of Israeli commitments, including a long-postponed Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank and the transfer to Palestinian control of villages abutting Jerusalem, remained unfulfilled, and Mr. Arafat believed that Mr. Barak was simply trying to skirt his obligations. It also took a genuine leap of faith — for Mr. Barak as for the United States — to imagine that the 100-year conflict between Jews and Palestinians living in this region, with roots going back thousands of years more and tens of thousands of victims along the way, could be resolved in a fortnight without any of the core issues — territory, refugees, or the fate of Jerusalem — having previously been discussed by the leaders.

Myth 2: Israel's offer met most if not all of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations.

Yes, what was put on the table was more far-reaching than anything any Israeli leader had discussed in the past — whether with the Palestinians or with Washington. But it was not the dream offer it has been made out to be, at least not from a Palestinian perspective.

To accommodate the settlers, Israel was to annex 9 percent of the West Bank; in exchange, the new Palestinian state would be granted sovereignty over parts of Israel proper, equivalent to one-ninth of the annexed land. A Palestinian state covering 91 percent of the West Bank and Gaza was more than most Americans or Israelis had thought possible, but how would Mr. Arafat explain the unfavorable 9-to-1 ratio in land swaps to his people?

In Jerusalem, Palestine would have been given sovereignty over many Arab neighborhoods of the eastern half and over the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City. While it would enjoy custody over the Haram al Sharif, the location of the third- holiest Muslim shrine, Israel would exercise overall sovereignty over this area, known to Jews as the Temple Mount. This, too, was far more than had been thinkable only a few weeks earlier, and a very difficult proposition for the Israeli people to accept. But how could Mr. Arafat have justified to his people that Israel would retain sovereignty over some Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, let alone over the Haram al Sharif? As for the future of refugees — for many Palestinians, the heart of the matter — the ideas put forward at Camp David spoke vaguely of a "satisfactory solution," leading Mr. Arafat to fear that he would be asked to swallow an unacceptable last-minute proposal.

Myth 3: The Palestinians made no concession of their own.

Many have come to believe that the Palestinians' rejection of the Camp David ideas exposed an underlying rejection of Israel's right to exist. But consider the facts: The Palestinians were arguing for the creation of a Palestinian state based on the June 4, 1967, borders, living alongside Israel. They accepted the notion of Israeli annexation of West Bank territory to accommodate settlement blocs. They accepted the principle of Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem — neighborhoods that were not part of Israel before the Six Day War in 1967. And, while they insisted on recognition of the refugees' right of return, they agreed that it should be implemented in a manner that protected Israel's demographic and security interests by limiting the number of returnees. No other Arab party that has negotiated with Israel — not Anwar el- Sadat's Egypt, not King Hussein's Jordan, let alone Hafez al-Assad's Syria — ever came close to even considering such compromises.

If peace is to be achieved, the parties cannot afford to tolerate the growing acceptance of these myths as reality.

The facts do not indicate, however, any lack of foresight or vision on the part of Ehud Barak. He had uncommon political courage as well. But the measure of Israel's concessions ought not be how far it has moved from its own starting point; it must be how far it has moved toward a fair solution.

The Palestinians did not meet their historic responsibilities at the summit either. I suspect they will long regret their failure to respond to President Clinton — at Camp David and later on — with more forthcoming and comprehensive ideas of their own.

Finally, Camp David was not rushed. It was many things — inadequately prepared for, perhaps; too informal, possibly; lacking proper fall-back options, without a doubt — but premature it was not. By the spring of 2000, every serious Israeli, Palestinian and American analyst was predicting an outbreak of Palestinian violence absent a major breakthrough in the peace process. The Oslo process had run its natural course; if anything, tackling the sensitive final status issues came too late, not too soon.

The gloss that is put on the past matters. The way the two sides choose to view yesterday largely will determine how they choose to behave tomorrow. And, if unchallenged, their respective interpretations will gradually harden into divergent versions of reality and unassailable truths — that Yasir Arafat is incapable of reaching a final agreement, for example, or that Israel is intent on perpetuating an oppressive regime. As the two sides continue to debate what went wrong at Camp David, it is important that they get the lessons right.

Robert Malley was special assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs to President Bill Clinton from 1998 to 2001. He is joining the Council on Foreign Relations as a senior fellow.

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company | Privacy Information

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Always make a great noise and you
will be noticed. Always shout
the other fellow down, especially
the dull and the ignorant, they are not
worth listening to.

Always mix with loud and aggresive persons.
Compare yourself constantly with others,
and make sure that you're on top. There wil always
be lesser persons than yourself to beat.

Be careful in business and make sure you crook
the other person first. Be blind to virtue,
it only covers the guilty heart.
Don't be yourself, be whatever is expedient.

Be cynical about all things, especially love.
Don't give in to old age, keep pushing. You may be
a child of the universe, but the only right you
have to be here is at the expense of the other man.

With all it's glitter, money, palaces, fast women,
smart clothes, good food and wine,
the world is a pretty rotten place,
so keep screwing it up,

and above all - show a profit.

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

War Profiteers

Iraq for Sale

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Petra: Myth and Reality

Philip C. Hammond's article on Petra: Myth and Reality"

When Harrison Ford finally found the Holy Grail inside the Khaznat al-Faron at Petra, at the climax of the film Indiana Jones and the last Crusade, a new myth was born. But Ford, and his scriptwriters, were only following in a long line of people who have contributed to the myths, misinformation and confusion surrounding the fabeled "rose-red city" of Petra - not only since its rediscovery in 1812 but as far back as the Middle Ages.

The list of misconceptions with which Petra has been plagued over the centuries is almost overwhelming. Most are harmless errors in names, dates, attributions and the like, but, taken as a whole, they detract greatly from the reality of this important scenic and archeological site.

Since Indiana Jones had to reach his goal via the Shiq, the two-kilometer (2200- yard) chasm leading into Petra, perhaps that is a good place to begin a demythologizing tour of the site. The Shiq is a great cleft in the earth, formed in the hazy depths of the geological past by the same earthquake activity that has plagued the area ever since. Its narrow, winding route through the lofty cliffs which protect the site on the east remains one of the great experiences for the visitor today, and is probably responsible for the belief that it was here that Moses struck the rock to secure water for his wandering people after the flight from Egypt - the first of the Moses-linked stories now associated with the whole Petra Basin. The wadi (valley) that bisects the ancient city center was dutifully dubbed Wadi Musa (Valley of Moses), a name first encountered in the records of the Crusaders.

The Crusader leader Baldwin, just before he became king of the Latin Kingdom in AD 1100, was summoned to Petra by "the monks of Saint Aaron," those records show, who claimed they were being harassed by "the Saracens." After rescuing the monks, Baldwin returned to Jerusalem to be crowned and to rethink Crusader strategy in his new kingdom. He soon discovered that there were no fortified points south of "The Castle of Saint Abraham" at Hebron, and he hastened to mend that deficiency. Along with the fortresses still standing today at Kerak, Sho- bak, Tafilah and elsewhere in Jordan, a fortress was erected in the "Valley of Moses" and the legend of Moses' visit to Petra was thus given official recognition. Obviously, the monks of Saint Aaron had much to do with this whole affair, the better to establish their right to demand Crusader protection.

Little deceits can get out of hand, however, and soon other signs of Moses' visit appear at the site. The Khaznat al- Faroun, where Indiana Jones made his great discovery in the 1989 film, is another victim of the early monks' tales. Khaznat al-Faroun means "the Treasury of the Pharaoh"- and a myth goes with the name: The Pharaoh of Exodus, having mobilized his forces to recapture the fleeing Hebrews, had reached Petra - after his slight embarrassment at the Red Sea. But by then the weight of his treasury, thoughtfully carried along, had begun to slow the progress of his army. As a result, the story goes, the Khaznat al-Faroun was created, by magic, and the Pharaoh's wealth deposited in the urn-like decoration on its top. One can still see the pockmarks of Bedouin bullets, fired at the "urn" in the vain hope that Pharaoh's gold would come tumbling down !

In reality, the Treasury is a Nabatean tomb, probably royal, possibly even that of the famous King Aretas IV, Petra's most enthusiastic architectural developer. The almost 40-meter-high (131-foot) facade, hewn out of the living rock of the cliff which faces the city side of the Shiq, is only one of more than 800 carved monuments attributed to the Nabateans during their occupation of the site, from sometime before the third century BC to the late fourth century of our era. Inside the massive doorway, the tomb chamber lacks the decor found by Indiana Jones - there are no Crusader statues, huge stone lions or inset seals in the floor- and represents instead the typical, rather plain interior design of Petra's funerary monuments. It is, of course, the facade itself, one of the finest examples of Nabatean carving, which even after some two millennia still awes the beholder who enters its forecourt from the winding Shiq.

Somewhat later in Petra's history, probably also at the hands of Crusaders or monks, another splendid royal tomb, situated high on a mountain top, was refurished for religious use and received the name ad-Dair, the Monastery. Originally neither a church nor a monastery, the tomb is today one of the site's main tourist attractions, with the connotations of its fictious name still firmly fixed.

Other tombs have likewise been given gratuitous names, even if no grand legends are attached. For example, the ones which span part of the western face of the mountain, Jabal al-Kubthah, through which the Shiq meanders, are known today as the Royal Tomb Group, with each tomb facade possessing a rather fanciful title - Three-Storied, Silk, Corinthian, Hall of Justice. Since only one of Petra's tombs has any inscription on its facade at all, inventing popular names for the more impressive ones has become a tradition for map-makers and tourist guides. Probably, in the course of time, each tomb will also achieve a story to go along with its name. This is, of course, relatively harmless myth-making - as long as listeners don't take the matter too literally or too seriously.

But tombs are not the only monuments at Petra which have acquired names and legends. The few standing ruins on the site which escaped total destruction during the devastating earthquake of May 19, 363 - along with many no longer standing - were, and still are, fair game for the same treatment.

The great masonry-built temple to the Nabateans' chief male deity, Dhushares, is a prime example. Awed by the size of the building, myth-makers again invoked the magic of the Pharaoh, and to this day the building bears the name Qasr Bint al- Faroun, the Palace of Pharaoh's Daughter. Here, again, the excess baggage of the pursuing monarch was at issue; this time, however, it was his daughter who was slowing him down. Therefore, the Qasr had to be built in which to park the young lady against later recovery, after her daddy caught up with Moses.

Even a solitary column, left standing after the earthquake's ravages, has been linked to the Pharaoh's fictitious visit to the site: it has been given a rather obscene name that has remained something of an embarrassment to guide-book publishers, who never translate the Arabic.

The temple that this author has been excavating since 1974, probably dedicated to 'Allat, the Nabateans' supreme goddess, has fallen into the name trap as well. Because of feline decorations on the capitals around the altar platform, the "Temple of the Winged Lions" now occupies a prominent place in the clouded annals of Petra, and poor 'Allat is left out of the picture completely.

Less devastating to the innocence of tourists, but absolutely horrifying to scholars, has been the myth-making of map- makers, right up to the present day. The first of the modern cartographers was the self-proclaimed rediscoverer of Petra, Swiss adventurer-scholar Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (See Aramco World, September-October 1967). On August 22, 1812, Burckhardt, traveling in disguise, persuaded the Bedouin inhabitants of the small settlement of El-Ji (now Wadi Musa), just outside Petra, to guide him to a local mountain called Jabal Haroun, after Aaron, the brother of Moses. He passed through the Shig and into the ancient site, as far as the foot of the mountain, beyond which his now-suspicious guides would not take him. Having duly sacrificed a goat to the memory of Aaron, Burckhardt hurriedly left the area, but observed enough around him to produce a map - and the notation in his journal that he had rediscovered Petra.

In reality, Petra was never actually lost, although it had been somewhat misplaced since the days of the early Islamic geographers - who had visited the site but were not particularly concerned about its name - and its appearance on the famous Peutinger Table, a 12th-century copy of a map of Roman-period trade and population centers. As late as 1778, Volume II of The Works of Flavius Josephus, produced in London by Fielding and Walker, included a map based upon the Onomasticon of Eusebius, which accurately located Petra from the ancient distances recorded in the latter work. But as far as the Western world was concerned, those earlier records of Petra's location became irrelevant as people read and appreciated Burckhardt's adventures.

Burckhardt's map, however, raised new problems relating to the topography and place names of the site. In his rapid overview of the area, Burckhardt picked out certain major landmarks - the Khaznat al- Faroun, the Theater, the Qasr and others - but his memory of their locations was only relative and the names he used to identify them - for example, "Kasr Faroun" for Khaznat al-Faroun - were somewhat confused. However, he opened the way for other intrepid travelers. More accurate topography and locations were established, and monuments and other features began to receive new names.

Burckhardt's map, however, raised new problems relating to the topography and place names of the site. In his rapid overview of the area, Burckhardt picked out certain major landmarks - the Khaznat al- Faroun, the Theater, the Qasr and others - but his memory of their locations was only relative and the names he used to identify them - for example, "Kasr Faroun" for Khaznat al-Faroun - were somewhat confused. However, he opened the way for other intrepid travelers. More accurate topography and locations were established, and monuments and other features began to receive new names.
The first truly scientific study of the site, and quite a definitive one, was done by R.E. Brunnow and Alfred von Domaszewski in 1897-98. Maps, sketches, photographs and architectural analysis of the monument types were augmented by same-language references to the reports of all previous travelers to the site. As a consequence, the names given to features up to that time became frozen in the literature, subject only to later attempts to modify them in the present century and the addition of new names for newly discovered spots.

One of the great miscarriages of map- making, still found in guide-books and modern literature, was the "plan" of the ancient city drawn by the eminent German scholar A. Wiegand for Bachman's volume on the site published in 1921. Wiegand examined the evidence of fallen wall lines in some detail and proceeded to outline what he thought were sub-surface buildings, and even to identify their functions. Some modern writers still display Wiegand's plan as a real picture of a city still buried beneath the sand !

Fortunately, with the beginning of archeological work at Petra, modern aerial and photogrammetric surveys have laid out the site with precision. The latest map, produced by the Jordanian government, finally gives the visitor a reliable picture of the site, the actual nature of some of its remains, and the location of its principal monuments.

As more fact was gradually sifted from fancy, myth-making at Petra had to turn to other aspects of the site, and the architecture of Nabatean tomb facades and other visible ruins presented an appealing field.

Brunnow and von Domaszewski were really the first scholars to attempt a classification of Petra's architecture, and their descriptive approach opened the way for a series of later classifications that used different criteria and different dating methods. Unfortunately, until modern archeological work was done on the site, all of these largely lacked a firm basis. Very recent architectural analyses, along with information from excavations, seem to give us more reasonable information about Nabatean architectural style, origins, and dates. Likewise, experts' views on the origin of what is called the "Naba- tean Order" in architecture have changed. Scholars now recognize that most of the Near East was flooded with Hellenistic architectural and artistic craftsmanship before a distinctive Nabatean style developed, and that the Nabateans also had a penchant for borrowing ideas as they traded throughout the Roman world. The result of these two factors was a characteristically eclectic mix of tastes.

It was this question of outside influences on Nabatean architecture that allowed for the most extensive myth- making. Initial discussion of foreign influences in the Nabatean architectural orders - such as "Assyrian" crow-step decoration, "Egyptian" moldings, "Roman" canons, and so on - led to suggestions that outsiders had not only influenced architectural style, but had in fact built the monuments as well. Remnants of Western colonial bias strengthened the claim that it was only after the conquest of Arabia by the Romans that certain of Petra's more elaborate monuments could have been created. However, the subsequent excavation of the Main Theater clearly demonstrated original Nabatean construction. Since then, the bias against Nabatean originality and artistry has largely evaporated, and the creative abilities of this early Arab people are being recognized and appreciated more widely.

The city of Petra itself has become still another source of broad-gauge myth- making, much of which can be traced back to one Reverend George Robinson. Beginning with his publication of The Sepulcher of an Ancient Civilization in 1930, a multitude of uninformed authors, including some who had never seen the site and lacked any previous experience in Middle Eastern archeology and culture, have proclaimed that Petra was always a "dead city" - a city without a population. The degree of supposed deadness varies from one author to another, depending upon the particular degree of ignorance involved: Some vitality is grudgingly permitted by those who see Petra as an ancient ceremonial or administrative center, but even in those cases no major population is acknowledged as having been present.

The tendency to view Petra as a mausoleum on a grand scale has even reached into official circles, thanks in large part to a survey conducted some years ago by a former us Park Service employee, who even found the Bedouin then living at Petra detrimental to the desired funereal atmosphere.

Yet if one climbs even a small hill near the site and looks down, the extent of the ruins would suggest quite another viewpoint. A city of the dead hardly needed the expanse of recognizable business district along the Paved Street, nor an impressive public theater, nor baths, nor the two major temples now brought to light, nor a magnificently laid-out hydraulic system piping in water from miles away, nor the multitude of cisterns to capture rainwater - not to mention the remains of villas and other living quarters whose floor plans dot the basin.

Certain ancient sources, it is true, suggest a non-urban situation at Petra. The historian Diodorus of Sicily, writing in the first century BC, gives us the earliest authentic description of Nabatean Petra. Relying on first-hand accounts of the late fourth century BC, he describes a non- sedentary, non-agricultural "barbarian" people who harry their neighbors and who have chosen to dwell at Petra in order to live a wild and solitary life. A few scholars, commenting on Diodorus's account, have suggested that he was, indeed, describing Nabatean life at Petra - but life as it was in the late fourth century, some three hundred years before his own time. Too few other commentators have appreciated the time gap between the description and the report of it, and have sought to characterize Nabatean life at Petra in Diodorus's terms. Yet Strabo,writing at about the same time as Diodorus, gives a much different picture. Drawing on an account from a living informant born in Petra, Strabo describes the city as governed by a royal family, abundant in resources, and bustling with a cosmopolitan population. Based on today's archeological evidence, the latter portrayal of both people and city is accurate. Still further, the Nabatean origin of Petra's technology and public works can no longer be denied.

Indeed, after Rome's annexation of Nabatea in AD 106, it was not long before the city was recognized as a metropolis in the official sense, a title not bestowed by the Roman Senate on "dead" cities.

Most of the ancient sources left one question begging in their descriptions of the Nabateans: the origin of the people themselves. Although Diodorus does casually place Nabatean villages in the area of the modern Gulf of Aqaba, he neglects to say whether this was an original homeland or simply an extension of the Nabatean kingdom from Petra at a later time. Numerous studies have been undertaken in an attempt to solve the problem, and the bulk of evidence, it would seem, places the homeland of the Nabateans somewhere in modern Saudi Arabia, from which they migrated along the coast, finally settling at Petra.

A recent study by this writer suggests another overlooked possibility. From hints dropped in the contemporary literature, from the strange migration of the indigenous Edomites at Petra to the west - where they became known as Idumeans - and from the question of the origin of the rather advanced technologies displayed in Nabatean art, metallurgy, hydraulics, architecture and other fields, it is possible to recognize in the later Nabatean culture a remarkable blending of two early Arab peoples - the long-sedentary Edomites and the vigorous, mercantile, caravaneering Nabateans. The synthesis of the two resulted in one people with a combined strength in both technology and trade, with the more vigorous Nabateans providing the final national name for the blend. Those Edomites discontented with the new scheme simply migrated to a new home and received a Hellenistic version of their original Semitic name in later literature. By the time of Diodorus's first- century-BC report, the symbiosis had been forgotten.

There is one final myth about Petra that should be mentioned, especially after Indiana Jones' recent visit: the nature of the real archeological fieldwork involved.

The drama of Indy's triumphant dash to the Khaznat al-Faroun, the romance of a "lost city" of magnificent stone monuments, the promise of stupendous discoveries in the next trowelfull of earth all obscure the everyday grind of the archeologist's labor - the price of the knowledge that he or she uncovers about an ancient culture, its nature, its development and the processes that brought it into being.

There is romance, of course: Anyone who has ever visited Petra has felt the site's dramatic pull upon the senses. Yet there is also the drudgery, dust and frustration that accompany excavation - and disappointment, too. Petra does not reward the archeologist with treasure in the commonly accepted sense. Rather, there is a daily mass of broken pottery, corroded coins, mutilated architectural debris, unknowable fragments and the constant knowledge that each season of work is only a pitiful drop in the bucket of research that really needs to be done in Petra and surrounding sites.

Yet there do come, now and again, complete vessels, readable coins, bits of inscriptions, decorated fragments, architectural surprises and the other finds that delight the hearts of dedicated excavators. These discoveries, along with the other material remains and the intricacies of the depositional strata of occupation - not the imaginative legends - are what really tell the story of Petra and her people. They are the building blocks for reconstructing the culture of a people, for understanding their history and its chronology, and for seeking out the processes that made them what they were. They are what make the people and the city, the rose-red city of Petra, come alive once again.

What is a day of digging really like at Petra?
This writer has directed archeological excavations at the Temple of the Winged Lions for the past 15 years, with earlier periods along the city wall and at the Main Theater. The daily routine is part of a life quite different from that of Indiana Jones. More than 200 Arab, American, European and Japanese students have shared that experience at Petra, and helped bring back to life the people of ancient Nabatea.
Morning begins at the grim hour of 4:30 a.m., generally to the sound of the director's tape-recorded bagpipe music, thoughtfully supplied by a colleague at the university. Breakfast is at five a.m. - provided the propane cylinder isn't empty, the cook hasn't overslept and the water supply hasn't broken down - with porridge as a main menu item. Site crews and lab crews are at work by six, with the expedition's student participants rotated on a weekly basis through the various jobs that make up archeology today: supervising (and doing!) the actual digging, surveying, processing the material remains recovered in excavation and recording the results by making drawings, taking photographs, and filling out endless forms. Break time comes at 10 a.m. - a half hour of sardines, bread, jam, tea and just plain rest. Then more work until one p.m., when activity on the site stops for the day and lunch follows.

The menu depends on the supplies currently available in the market at Wadi Musa, and tends to feature rice in great abundance. After lunch, people read, sleep or go for a swim in the small pool in Wadi Siyagha - or make the 40-minute trek to the "real" pool at our neighborhood four-star hotel. "Pottery mat" takes place at six p.m., when the sherds and other artifacts of the previous day are examined, discussed and sampled for later drawing. Dinner is at seven - with more rice. At eight, the on-site crews gather at the "Daily Progress Chart" on the wall of the old Nazzal's Camp, the dig headquarters, and work up the stratigraphic results of the day's excavations.

While all this is going on, the field laboratory is busy processing each day's recovered artifacts for registration and interpretation. Pottery sherds are washed, sorted and photographed; bones are identified; stone and plaster are brushed off; metals are cleaned; and the records begin to mount up. Records are the life-blood of a dig, for archeological excavation is destructive, and the only way a site's history can be reconstructed is from whatever is recorded - notes taken during excavation on-site, notes taken in the lab, sherd drawings, photographs, and a host of other records, including actual material samples.

Such is the routine five days a week, for the six to eight weeks of an archeological season. Fridays are days off, for trips around the Petra Basin and similar exhausting recreational activities. Saturdays are devoted to drawing pottery sherds -1065 of them last season - for dating and comparison with published examples from other sites in the Middle East.

But it's not all work, either. Thirty-five years of contact with the Bedouins at Petra open the way for invitations to mansafs - traditional feasts at which roast goat is usually served - weddings, dances and all sorts of other local events. Dart games, card games, music, reading and occasional birthday and un-birthday parties round out the days. People get to know each other through conversation, in camp or at Petra's "general store." An R&R trip to the beaches of Aqaba relieves the monotony at mid-season, with an occasional need for recuperation after the visit.

Myths aside - though we have our own myths and legends as well - such is the reality of archeology at Petra.



(From the ARAMCO WORLD MAGAZINE, September-October 1991)

Philip C. Hammond, professor of anthropology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, is director of the American Expedition to Petra. This is his second article for Aramco World.

Saudi Aramco, the oil company born as a bold international enterprise more than half a century ago, distributes Aramco World to increase cross-cultural understanding. The magazine's goal is to broaden knowledge of the Arab and Muslim worlds and the history, geography and economy of Saudi Arabia. Aramco World is distributed without charge, upon request, to a limited number of interested readers.
Address editorial correspondence to: The Editor, Aramco World, Post Office Box 2106, Houston, Texas 77252-2106, USA. Send subscription requests and changes of address to: Aramco World, Box 469008, Escondido, California 92046-9008, USA.



Monday, September 04, 2006

That’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth!

Alas, the truth is out. This Forum has discovered and agreed that Islamic extremism is the greatest threat the world faces today. Everyone can see it but the moronic Muslims themselves:

· There protests and boycotts and burning of Embassies and threats over things so innocuous as cartoons. Surely cartoons are for laughing. Don’t Muslims have a sense of humor?

· The suicide bombings, and the sacrifice of their sons and daughters for political mileage. Don’t we know that 99% of all Muslim suffering is either fake or self-inficted. For example, wasn’t Ibrahim Durra killed by Palestinian’s own gunfire. They are known to kill their own children just to show that the Israelis are bad. Everyone knows that except for the Trotskyites and Anarchists who have thrown their lot with the Muslims.

· I mean if the Muslims wanted to fight fair and square, they would have surrendered all their weapons, and come out in the open fields, and be game for the helicopter gunships and the F16s and the smart bombs and the daisy cutters and the cluster bombs and the depleted Uranium. Then they would see how benign and benevolent civilised nations are, for after annihilating their extremists, for whenever a Muslim is killed, an extremist bites the dust, of course the benevolent nations would look after the remaining ones. Didn’t the West nurse defeated Germany and Japan back to economic health. So what if the folk in Hiroshima are dying of Cancer. Someone has to pay a price for exterminating extremism.

· Oh! I like that. Let me repeat it. Exterminating extremism!!!

· I could go on and on, but for the good intelligent people on forum, this should be enough.

So the big question is not that there is a manipulative huge war industry, or a similar oil industry, or that the Bretton Woods sisters have had the people of the third world in bondage. The big isssue is that Muslims are extremists.

Never mind that the thousands abducted and kidnapped in the wake of the war on terror have been shown the kindness of being allowed the chance of a lifetime, of spending years on end in a tropical paradise without having to work for an honest living. Isn’t this Heaven for them? If these Muslims had any sense, they would be grateful.

These whiners and extremists keep parroting that the world major powers are sick, that they have made life miserable for a lot, a very huge lot, of the world’s population.

Had they accepted their position in life, of not having title to property, of not being able to pass on their heritage to their children, of not having to worry about families because if we separate them from their families, it is for their own good. What one doesn’t see doesn’t hurt one. But as I said, this is an ungrateful mob.

The question is why are these Muslims extremists, and how to cure them of this disease. Why do they not accept the status quo? If they had started living in bantustans when these were offered to them, they would have graduated to municipalities by now. But they have no foresight.

Why, oh why, are the Muslims so stupid and extremist. We mean the best for them.

Didn’t we in Sabira and Shatila?

So why are these Muslims extremists?

There is an answer that will satisfy the religious, another that will satisfy those who think in terms of politics, yet another other that involves a clash of civilizations, and then there is the truth. I weighed the options of all these very carefully, for we know I am a Muslim, and Muslims do not tell the truth. Why? This is confirmed by the very fact that I am secretive about myself, and by extention, would be too of my religion’s hideous extremism. But by the look of things, this is a Forum for truth and free speech.

OK then, I will take the plunge and tell you the truth about us Muslims.

There is a huge secret about us that is known only to a few, but perhaps some of the truth has got out, hence this great urge to know and destroy the evil that is in Muslims.

G-d knows the world has tried. All countries of the world are trying their best to kill this cancer, but it hasn’t been conquered yet. The Phillipines tried with the Moros. The Thais with their Malay population in the southern provinces. The Russians deported the whole lot of them to Siberia, not once but twice, yet their extremism isn’t cured. The Indians keep an army of seven million in Kashmir to control these extremists. The US (and the UN forces) tried this in Afghanistan and it looked like they had succeeded in Tora Bora, yet these cursed ones have resurfaced. The US went all out to destroy the WMDs they possessed in Iraq, never mind that Iraq had any. The US gave them democracy (replacing the dictator Saddam, who admittedly was funded and supplied with weapons to fight another Muslim country. Mind you, that thing also looked like it was working, but when the US decided, in its infinite wisdom – the wisdom that only the High and Mighty have – that it needed bases in Saudi Arabia, these extremists cried foul, and the US had to give a demonstration of its might, funded of course by the Saudis and the Kuwaitis. And so on and so forth …

These Muslims think the US wants Israel as its viceroy in the ME, and wants to control the oil. Why, the US pays for the oil, and is it any fault of the US if these Muslims can only be controlled by murderous dictators and corrupt kings?

But these extremists would not let well enough alone, and started to fight the might of the one SuperPower. What hopeless cause? Israel has tried time and again to knock this sense into them, yet they persist in their evil ways of resisting what is offered to them.

Research on Islam is not new. It has been going on for a very long time – a decade and a half of centuries. Some of this has resulted in good, like for example starting the Renaissance. However, some of this has exposed such dark secrets about us that these secrets have to be kept under wraps, lest the rest of the world goes into shock.

The CIA thought it knew all about us, but then something happened, and the CIA had to commission this research. Some time ago in the last century it happened so that the Shah of Iran fell, and Iran became an Islamic Republic, and gave up all the goodies and the civilized behaviour like nudity and nightclubs and wine and gambling (all things that enhance the GDP and make one civilized), that it had learnt from the West, and the women went back to wearing the oppressive veil (or at least the hijab) and the like; and horror of horrors, they even voted in the dreaded backward Shariah (the Shia version).

The Director of CIA was grilled on German TV about not being able to foresee it even while the CIA for Asia was centered in Tehran. He said in his defence something to the effect that "we thought we understood the Muslims, but obviously they (the Muslims) have some trait that is unpredictable."

The CIA then set about to remove this unpredictability by commissioning the research. That research has yielded what I am going to tell you:

You see we Muslims are violent.

No big deal here as any sensible non-Muslim and even the sensible and moderate Muslims have seen by now. However, the CIA research goes further, and tells you why we Muslims are violent and extremist creatures.

Now, hold your breath, and have some one to support you for the shock when the dark secret about us is revealed.

We Muslims have an "extremism" gene, and a "extremism" meme.

If we are born Muslim, we are violent by virtue of this gene, and if we are converts, then alas the meme thing comes into play, because just saying the shahada puts the meme in there.

There really is no hope for the world, as we multiply faster than rabbits and we are immigrating into other cultures, we will take over the world. You see Israel understands us, and that is why EL Al is the safest airline in the world.

At one time Europe understood us better, and the truth about us is told in the frightening stories of yore. The Inquisition understood us the best. Oh, for that to be here again! The world would be rid of the Muslims like Spain had been.

So what are we?

We are the Borg!

Resistace is futle. You will be assimilated!

That’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Old Feud Over Lebanese River Takes New Turn

Old Feud Over Lebanese River Takes New Turn

Israel's airstrikes on canals renew enduring suspicions that it covets water from the Litani. The Jewish state denies having any such designs.

By Kim Murphy, Times Staff Writer
August 10, 2006

QASMIYA, Lebanon — Israeli bombing has knocked out irrigation canals supplying Litani River water to more than 10,000 acres of farmland and 23 villages in southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, prompting accusations here that Israel is using its war against Hezbollah to lay claim to Lebanon's prime watersheds.

Heavy fighting and a series of targeted strikes on open water channels and underground water diversion pipes have suspended much of Lebanon's agricultural use of the Litani River along the coastal plain and in parts of the Bekaa Valley near Qaraoun Dam, said water engineers who have surveyed the south.

The damaged or broken facilities include a pumping station on the Wazzani River, whose inauguration by Lebanon in 2002 prompted Israel to threaten military action because it diverted water a few hundred yards from the Israeli border, in a watershed that feeds the Jordan River, Lebanese officials said. At the time, Hezbollah promised to defend the facility.

The strikes went largely unnoticed by the outside world in the nearly monthlong air assault targeting Hezbollah guerrilla strongholds in southern Lebanon. But Lebanese point to the extensive damage to their irrigation and drinking water system as evidence that border security and water issues remain intertwined in a region short on both.

"Whenever Israel throughout history has thought of its northern border, they don't talk, for example, of the mountains as a border. They always think of the valley of the Litani," said Mohammed Shaya, dean of the college of social sciences at Lebanese University in Beirut.

Israel has said repeatedly that it has no designs on Lebanon's water.

"There's a policy decision at the highest level not to target those water pumping stations," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "We don't claim an inch of Lebanese sovereign territory. We don't claim a gallon of Lebanese water. We have no hostile intentions whatever towards Lebanon as a country, towards the Lebanese people or towards Lebanese natural resources."

But the enduring suspicion in Lebanon that Israel regards the water of the Litani as its own and the lands to its south as a security perimeter help explain Beirut's reluctance to accept any U.N. cease-fire resolution that does not call for an immediate Israeli withdrawal from the region.

At a minimum, Lebanese officials fear that the repeated attacks on water facilities — as well as bridges, highways, power plants and roads — signal an intention to debilitate Hezbollah-dominated southern Lebanon and enable a long-term Israeli presence there.

"They started [bombing] with the Litani water reservoir, the Litani dam. And we all know that the Litani has a special place in this country," said Fadl Shalaq, president of the Lebanese Council for Reconstruction and Development. "It's a big reservoir of water, and the Israelis don't hide it that there are several parts of the Litani that they would like to take for themselves."

Officials in southern Lebanon said the attacks hit not only bridges, but open water canals, crippling irrigation to thousands of acres here in the Tyre region and in the Bekaa Valley.

During fighting near the Wazzani springs, a guard at the pumping station was killed, the pump was knocked out of service and the underground pipes through which water is transported were heavily damaged, said Hussein Ramal, an engineer for the Litani Water Authority, which operates irrigation systems in the region. "Now every one of these villages is without water."

The Litani flows 102 miles, entirely within Lebanon. It courses south through eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, before turning sharply westward just 2 1/2 miles from the Israeli border, then heading through the coastal plain, past the town of Qasmiya to the Mediterranean, north of Tyre.

Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, who would become the first president of Israel, in 1919 included the Litani valley among the "minimum requirements essential to the realization of the Jewish National Home." David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, proposed including the Litani again in the 1940s on the eve of the creation of the Jewish state. In the 1950s, historical records show, Moshe Dayan, then chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, and others favored occupying and ultimately annexing southern Lebanon up to the Litani River.

Occupation of the West Bank and Golan Heights, though motivated by security concerns, has provided Israel with an important source of water. Experts note that the small slice of land known as the Shebaa Farms, one of the issues in the current conflict, is graced with abundant groundwater flowing from the slopes of Mt. Hermon.

Israel also sees Shebaa Farms as a strategic asset because of its proximity to the Israeli, Syrian and Lebanese borders.

Israel has always argued that much of the Litani's water flows to the sea, wasted.

A large portion of the river's flow is diverted to a series of hydropower dams, leaving relatively little for irrigation in southern Lebanon. But the Lebanese government had planned to offer a $200-million contract this summer to irrigate major new sections of the region.

Both states would benefit if Israel sold Lebanon power and Lebanon sold Israel water, said Haim Gvirtzman, hydrology professor at Hebrew University.

"Should there be peace between Israel and Lebanon, then it will be possible to use the Litani's water as a trigger for a fruitful cooperation between the two countries," Gvirtzman said.

Old feuds over water ...

The Litani river of Lebanon



Source: Geographical Review, Jul93, Vol. 83 Issue 3, p229, 9p.

ABSTRACT. This article examines the hydropolitics of the Middle East, through a case study of the Litani River of Lebanon. The main thesis is that the desire to obtain additional water sources has been a primary influence on geostrategic interactions of Israel and its Arab neighbors. Israeli efforts to utilize the waters of the Litani help explain the establishment of the security zone in southern Lebanon. The apparent decision by Israel to retain access to the river makes it difficult for Lebanon to regain political stability and economic viability.

More forcefully than ever, politicians and analysts assert that the next casus belli in the Middle East will be control and use of water. Security of water supply is becoming at least as important as territorial security. Thus resolution of water-related issues is essential for the success of the Arab-Israeli peace process. Many Israeli policymakers view the water supply from the Litani River as a promising solution to their country's impending water crisis. However, the Litani River, whose entire basin is in Lebanon (Fig. 1), is crucial for rebuilding and effectively integrating that country in the post-civil-war period. Specifically, the waters of the Litani are essential for agricultural and industrial development of southern Lebanon. This competition for water, a prized resource in a water-scarce region, makes the river a potential source of serious international conflict in the future and complicates the resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The conceptual premise of the analysis presented here is that countries suffering from resource scarcities, be they perceived or real, tend to reach beyond their borders. If access to foreign resources is obstructed or denied, countries with superior capabilities seek to establish such access by pressures that may range from peaceful interactions such as trade agreements to coercive actions involving the military (North 1977; Gurr 1985).


The regional context is one of potential conflict between states in the basins of the Jordan, Nile, Euphrates, and other rivers. Riparian states share a substantial percentage of their surface water resources with neighboring states. The diverse and opposing ethno-religious groups, which include' Turks, Arabs, and Israeli Jews, exacerbate the situation. For example, in the late 1970s, a water pipeline from the Nile River to the barren Israeli Negev desert was proposed by Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat. However, that gesture . of peace prompted negative responses in Egypt, Israel, Ethiopia, and Sudan. In Egypt, planners asserted that the waters of the Nile would be insufficient to meet their own country's future needs. Although many Israelis were optimistic about the proposal, some officials objected because they thought it was dangerous to depend on a former enemy and untried friend for such a vital resource (Gerti 1979). Ethiopia reacted by declaring its intent to construct dams on the Blue Nile, the largest tributary of the Nile, which led Sadat to threaten military intervention (Starr 1991). Relations between the two countries were tested again in 1989, when it was rumored that Ethiopia, with Israeli aid, was building dams on the Blue Nile. The recent end of the civil war in Ethiopia and the potential settlement of the conflict in southern Sudan bode ill for Egypt, a downstream state. Political stability and rapid population growth in drought-prone upstream countries will likely result in further efforts to harness the Nile drainage to improve their agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

The Euphrates River rises in Turkey and crosses both Syria and Iraq before emptying into the Persian Gulf. All three countries depend in some measure on the river for economic development, Iraq and Syria perhaps more so than Turkey, simply because the latter has significantly more alternative surface water resources. Turkey recently completed the mammoth Ataturk Dam on the Euphrates, the first in a series of seven dams on that river (Kolars and Mitchell 1991). Relations between the three riparian states deteriorated when Turkey diverted the water from the Euphrates during January 1990 to fill the massive reservoir. Consequences of that action in Syria and Iraq included power shortages, water rationing, and failed crops. In 1975 Iraq mobilized its armed forces against Syria, and war was narrowly averted, when Syria reduced the flow of the Euphrates to fill the al-Thawra Reservoir.

If Turkey and Syria implement all their development plans along the Euphrates, at least fifteen billion cubic meters of water may be extracted for irrigation. In effect, this will deny Syria 40 percent of the water it once received from the river (Jerusalem Post 1990a) and Iraq an amount that ranges between 55 and 90 percent (Jerusalem Post 1990a; Roberts 1991). It is projected that Syria will require one billion cubic meters of water by 2005 and that Iraq will need an additional two billion cubic meters to meet the minimum requirements of their populations and economies. Substantial water deficits could seriously worsen relations between riparian countries and intensify the distrust that was rekindled by the recent Gulf conflict and the ensuing Kurdish rebellion.


The long-disputed Jordan River has headwaters in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel. The river constitutes a main source of fresh water for both Israel and Lebanon. The issue of fresh water is especially acute in rapidly developing Israel, which obtains approximately 35 percent of its water supply from the Jordan River. Israel is consuming virtually all its replenishable annual water potential of 1.9 billion cubic meters, as well as an additional 400 million cubic meters from desalination plants and diminished aquifers. Sixteen senior Israeli hydrologists recently reported that the country is using its water reserves 15 percent faster than they can be replenished each year (Jerusalem Post 1990a). On a per capita basis, Israelis consume seven to ten times more water than do Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, and approximately two to three times more than do their Lebanese and Jordanian neighbors.

In winter 1990, water in the Sea of Galilee dropped to the lowest levels ever recorded, which led the Israeli water authority to consider emergency measures to restrict water discharge to prevent a decrease below the crucial level of 212.5 meters below sea level. For the last five years, Israel has implemented water-rationing schemes that mainly affect the politically powerful farming sector, which consumes more than 70 percent of the country's water supply.

The migration of East European and former Soviet citizens to Israel has resulted in a vast increase of its population. Consequently, it has begun to build one hundred thousand new houses, many of which are on the West Bank, and it is making long-term plans to boost output of electricity. This situation exerts additional strain on the already overextended water supply. A lack of water resources is alleged to be one of the motives for the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank (al-Bargouthi 1986; Saleh 1988). The water supplies from the West Bank constitute as much as 40 percent of the water consumed in Israel. The primary sources of this water are two aquifers that originate in the West Bank but extend into pre-1967 Israel.

The vision of a Greater Israel, held by some Israeli political factions, encompasses the currently occupied territories with their vital resources. Use of this vision as a governmental policy has been an obstacle to the land-for-peace formula on which the current Arab-Israeli peace talks are based. The outcome of that formula would be a gradual end of Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which some Israelis call Judea and Samaria, in exchange for the peaceful coexistence of Israel and Arab countries. A geographical application of the policy was demonstrated in a full-page advertisement that the Ministry of Agriculture placed in leading Israeli newspapers (Jerusalem Post 1990b). The advertisement argued that a Palestinian state on the West Bank, whether sovereign or autonomous, would draw on the water resources that are vital to the survival of Israel. Relinquishing the land to a potential Palestinian state would likely result in the repatriation of Palestinian refugees, whom the advertisement referred to as poverty-stricken humanity, from surrounding Arab countries. That in-migration "would generate an impossible strain on the already over-extended water supply and inadequate sewerage system, endangering even further Israel's vulnerable and fragile source of life." The commentary concluded with the assertion that "it is difficult to conceive of any political solution consistent with Israel's survival that does not involve complete, continued Israeli control of water and sewerage systems, and of the associated infrastructure, including power supply and road network, essential to their operation, maintenance and accessibility" (Jerusalem Post 1990b).

These statements accent old and new realities. They strongly underscore an Israeli feeling of great dependence on the water resources of the West Bank not only for everyday use by Israel but also for its continued national existence. The advertisement also gives credibility to previous reports arguing that, although territorial physical security was a concern for Israel in 1967, the water resources were at least one, and perhaps the prominent, factor in Israeli strategic calculations. Moreover, this advertisement amounts to an official policy shift that binds territorial and resource security. Relinquishing the water-rich western slopes of the West Bank would be perceived by Israel as surrender of its water sovereignty and a threat to its national existence. This position could seriously complicate the peace process and set resource security as the new context for the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Because of current Israeli utilization of all its renewable water resources and the predicted annual water deficit of 500 to 600 million cubic meters, Israeli occupation of the water-rich area in southern Lebanon raises questions about Israel's hydrological imperative. Israel has had historical interest in the Litani River, whose entire flow is within the borders of Lebanon. The river rises in the northern Biqa'a Valley and runs southward to Beaufort Castle, where it turns westward to the Mediterranean Sea. Diverting the Litani's water southward is an old proposal, first suggested in 1905 by an engineer who concluded that the waters of the Jordan basin would be insufficient for the future needs of Palestine (Saleh 1988). He recommended that waters from the Litani River be diverted into the Hasbani River, a tributary of the Jordan.

Prestatehood Jewish interests in the Litani River were made explicit in letters from Chaim Weizmann, head of the World Zionist Organization (wzo), to various British governmental officials in 1919 and 1920 (Weisgal 1977). In a letter to Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Weizmann argued that Lebanon was "well watered" and that the river was "valueless to the territory north of the proposed frontiers. They can be used beneficially in the country much further south." Weizmann concluded that the WZO considered the Litani valley "for a distance of 25 miles above the bend" of the river essential to the future of the Jewish "national home" (Weisgal 1977, 267). Nevertheless, the British and the French mandate powers retained the Litani basin entirely in Lebanon. David Ben-Gurion, a leading Zionist and the first prime minister of Israel, suggested to a 1941 international commission on the question of Palestine that the Litani be included in the borders of the future Jewish state. The commission recommended that seven-eighths of the river's waters be leased to Israel (Saleh 1988).

Access to the Litani River was a concern during Israel's formative years. The diaries of Moshe Sharett, an Israeli prime minister during the mid-1950s, reveal that Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan, chief of staff and defense minister, were strong advocates of Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon to the Litani River (Rabinovich 1985). In the wake of the 1967 war and in view of Israeli territorial gains from three of its four neighbors, Dayan reiterated his long-standing opinion that Israel had achieved "provisionally satisfying frontiers, with the exception of those with Lebanon" (Hof 1985, 36).

Decision makers who perceive scarcities in their own state will meet demands by using their specialized capabilities to control territory and people farther and farther from its boundaries (Choucri and North 1972, 90). Specialized capabilities, including political influence, economic performance, and military skill and hardware, tend to determine the type of peaceful or coercive pressure that a resource-deficient but capability-rich state can apply to improve its access to foreign resources. Israel's water scarcity is leading to high-risk strategies that it can use with confidence because its military, economic, and political capabilities are superior to those of Lebanon.

The hyrdostrategic significance of southern Lebanon is rarely considered as an explanation of current Israeli occupation of the security zone there. The zone stretches along the northern border of Israel and straddles the westward bend of the Litani River. Israel unilaterally established the zone in 1978, after Israeli troops invaded and remained as a hegemonic occupier. Although there are between one and two thousand Israeli troops in the zone, it is controlled and administered by a Christian Lebanese army general who heads the South Lebanese Army (SLA). Trained, equipped, and paid by the Israeli government, the SLA is nonetheless a quasi-militia, composed of Lebanese. The zone has 850 square kilometers, with 85 villages and a population of approximately 180,000.

Shortly after establishing the zone, the Israeli army prohibited drilling of wells there (al-Bargouthi 1986). Moreover, after the 1982 invasion, Israeli army engineers carried out seismic soundings and surveys near the westward bend of the river, probably to determine the optimum place for a diversion tunnel, and confiscated hydrographical charts and technical documents of the river and its installations from the Litani Water Authority offices in the Biqa'a and Beirut (Cooley 1984, 22). Israel also controlled most or all of the waters from the Hasbani and Wazzani rivers, which rise in Lebanon. Over the years, there have been reports of water siphoning from the Litani into the Jordan River basin, a distance of less than ten kilometers (Cooley 1984; al-Bargouthi 1986; Saleh 1988; Abu Fadil and Harrison 1992; Gemayel 1992).

The average annual flow of the Litani River is estimated at 920 million cubic meters, of which an estimated 480 million cubic meters is measured at the Khardali Bridge near the westward bend of the stream. Before the river empties into the Mediterranean Sea, an estimated 125 million cubic meters of water is consumed in the Kasmieh irrigation project. Permanent occupation of southern Lebanon and continued access to the Litani could augment the annual water supply of Israel by up to 800 million cubic meters, or approximately 40 percent of its current annual water consumption. This volume is attainable only if Israel reoccupies the Karaoun Dam, as it did between 1982 and 1985, and if the zone's subterranean springs, aquifers, and the Wazzani water flow are included (Baalbaki and Mahfouth 1985; Al-Nahar 1986). The Karaoun reservoir has a storage capacity of 220 million cubic meters, which is used for irrigation, domestic and industrial water supply, and hydropower. Furthermore, the largest single withdrawal from the Litani is the diversion of 236 million cubic meters annually through the Markaba tunnel to the Awali River for hydroelectric generation to supply Beirut and other coastal areas. In fact, 35 percent of Lebanon's total production of electricity comes from the Litani waters directly or from the Markaba-Awali diversion.

Another attraction of the Litani River is the high quality of its water. The salinity level is only 20 parts per million, whereas that of the Sea of Galilee is 250 to 350 parts per million. Many aquifers in Israel are stressed, especially along the coast, and the water in them is increasingly brackish. The water of the Litani would lower the saline level of the Sea of Galilee, from which the National Water Carrier channels water to much of the country. "It is this purity that makes the Litani very attractive to the Israelis, who have developed their National Water Carrier System with a view towards potable (as opposed to irrigation quality) water" (Naff and Matson 1984, 65).

Water production by desalination is costly, and cloud seeding to induce precipitation is not always controllable. Turkey proposed a peace pipeline to meet the needs of numerous southern water-deficient countries, including Israel, but importation over hundreds of kilometers of unfriendly territory is seen in Israel as untenable and easily subverted, thus a threat to national security. It is therefore becoming increasingly evident that the only feasible solution, in terms of water quality, volume, and proximity of the resource, to Israel's growing water problem is to tap a nearby source, namely the Litani River.

No one can yet document categorically that the Litani waters are being diverted, because large tracts of land near the crucial westward bend of the river are cordoned off by Israeli troops, which prevents researchers, journalists, and United Nations observers from approaching the area (al-Bar-gouthi 1986; Al-Nahar 1990). Independent water analysts, however, have reported that Israel has been diverting some water from the Litani River into the Jordan River (Collelo 1989, 117) by tapping the massive underground water resources. Hence the measured flow of the Litani is not affected (Cooley 1984, 22-23).

The weak post-civil-war Lebanese government and Israel's continued occupation of the security zone make it difficult to prevent an Israeli role in the use of Litani waters. This could be accomplished either through a unilateral water-diversion scheme, which appears to be the solution now, or through bilateral negotiations, in which the security zone would be used as a bargaining pawn to reach a water-sharing agreement with Lebanon (Amery and Kubursi 1992a).


The Litani River basin is predominantly inhabited by Shia Muslims, the largest sect of the country, who are estimated to number more than 850,000. The largely rural Shia community has historically complained that the Christian-led central government neglects it. This is partially due to the central government's distrust of the Shias, who over the centuries have maintained strong ties with their coreligionists in Iran. Moreover, the political instability in the south, primarily the result of Israeli and Palestinian presences, has given the Lebanese government even less incentive to assert its authority and a justification for the absence of development projects in this largely agricultural area.

The Litani Project, planned in the early 1950s, envisaged the irrigation of 20,000 hectares in the south and 10,000 hectares on the Biqa'a plain. Electrical power for much of Lebanon was to be provided by six hydroelectric stations. The project is decades behind its planned completion date. The northern portion of the project, located in the western Biqa'a administrative unit, is more or less complete, but the government has yet to implement the southern part of the project. Currently, fewer than 50,000 hectares are under irrigation in all of Lebanon, which is a very small area compared with the estimated need of 360,000 hectares (al-Bargouthi 1986). A Ministry of Irrigation study also reported that the south and the Biqa'a provinces require one billion cubic meters of water annually, of which 800 million cubic meters would be used for agriculture, 85 million cubic meters for domestic consumption, and 115 million cubic meters for industry. Harnessing the water of the Litani is essential to the industrial and agricultural development of southern Lebanon. Development of the agricultural sector and investment in agriculturally related schemes may mitigate the Shia community's feelings of alienation and strengthen their sense of national allegiance.

The Lebanese government is under increasing pressure to assert its sovereignty over the entire country, and it may ultimately have to concede to Israeli demands of water in exchange for territory. But that would precipitate a new Lebanese crisis. Diverting the Litani would stunt the economic development of the country, frustrate the postwar nation-building process, and strengthen the hands of groups calling for the cantonization or Islamization of the country.

Without the Litani waters, irrigation would be virtually impossible in the south, and much of the region would become desert (Cooley 1984, 24). Denying the Shia of southern Lebanon water for domestic and agricultural uses would aggravate their frustrations with the central government. For example, rumors in 1974 that the Litani waters were to be diverted to Beirut to meet forecast shortages sparked massive antigovernmental demonstrations.

Any current or future scheme to divert the river from its basin violates the principles of international law. "Water within one catchment area should not be diverted outside that area--regardless of political boundaries--until all needs of those within the catchment area are satisfied" (Cooley 1984, 10). In the province of Biqa'a, immediately north of the springs where the Litani rises, twenty-two villages lack domestic running water, and in the south there are at least thirty-six such villages. If Israel shared or unilaterally diverted the river, the hand of the antigovernment forces would be strengthened, especially the fundamentalist movement. The result would be continued instability in Lebanon (Amery and Kubursi 1992b).


Transboundary water resources in the arid Middle East have long been the source of conflict. The modern quest for industrial and agricultural development rests on greater generation of hydroelectric power and on higher levels of water consumption for irrigation. Occupation of the West Bank and the security zone in southern Lebanon provides Israel with the political and territorial conditions necessary to mitigate the effects of the rapidly approaching water crisis. Israel is interpreted as being motivated largely by environmental prudence in extending its sphere of influence into southern Lebanon. Israeli desire to gain access to the Litant water resources serves its national interest, but to the detriment of Lebanon. If, in an effort to exercise authority throughout the country, the Lebanese central government agrees to any sort of sharing of the Litant waters, Lebanon might face another challenge to stability.

* This article benefited from comments by J. D. Booth, B. Carment, A. A. Kubursi, B. Sallouk, and W. D. Swearingen.

MAP: FIG. 1--Hydrostrategic significance of the Israeli security zone in southern Lebanon.


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The Litani river of Lebanon