Archive for August, 2006

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2006 by psysword

THE first weapon of choice for the Israeli lobby when someone with prestige publishes a soundly researched paper or book critical of Israel or its powerful lobby is silence. If it’s a book, it rarely gets reviewed; its author doesn’t get interviewed. If it’s a paper, there are no news stories in the big corporate press, no interviews with the authors, no television appearances.

For the average American who depends on the press to tell him what’s going on, it’s as if the criticism never existed. The second weapon is, of course, to launch vicious personal attacks.

Both methods are being used against an astounding paper titled The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy [see this issue’s special “Other Voices” supplement]. It was written by two renowned academics, John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

So far as I’ve been able to determine with the help of Google, while the paper and talk about it are all over the Internet, they are missing from the big corporate press as of this writing. It was published in the London Review of Books, and you can read it or download an edited version at . There was one news story about it in the Christian Science Monitor and an attack on it by David Gergen in U.S. News & World Report. Gergen is editor at large of the magazine, which is owned by an ardent Zionist, Mortimer Zuckerman. Gergen is a professional spinmeister who has always served the people who have the butter for his bread.

The essence of the paper, which is thoroughly footnoted, is that Israel’s lobby has so skewed American foreign policy in the Middle East that the U.S. places the security of Israel ahead of security for the United States.

“This situation has no equal in American history,” the authors state.

The Anti-Defamation League was quoted in a Jewish publication as saying that if the paper gained the attention of the mainstream media, then a “more vigorous attack” would be launched. So far, it has not, though in the Christian Science Monitor story one of the attack dogs of the Israel lobby branded these two esteemed academics from prestigious universities as “incompetents.”

This paper isn’t the first to criticize the Israeli lobby. There have been lots of papers and books written by distinguished individuals, none of which you’ve probably ever heard of. They Dare to Speak Out, by former Rep. Paul Findley, and The Passionate Attachment, by George W. Ball, one of America’s most distinguished diplomats, are two that come to mind. It was the late Sen. J. William Fulbright who first called Congress “Israeli-occupied territory.”

What the authors of the current paper hope to do is start a sensible public debate about the Israeli lobby and America’s policy in the Middle East. Of course, avoiding an honest debate is one of the primary objectives of the lobby. That’s why it uses silence and, if that doesn’t work, vicious personal attacks. It has certainly buffaloed Congress and most of America’s news media.

Another author given the silent treatment as well as vicious personal attacks is Norman Finkelstein, a professor at DePaul University. He’s written three outstanding books you’ve probably not heard of: The Holocaust Industry,Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, and his latest, which got not a line of review, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History [all available from the AET Book Club]. Finkelstein, by the way, is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors.

This is a most serious issue and deserves an honest public debate. Whether you agree with any of the above authors and academics, you should read what they have to say and not be deterred by cheap ad hominem attacks.

You’ve heard the same message from me, of course, but I’m only a country boy turned journalist with no fancy degrees. If you’re impressed with credentials, Finkelstein, Findley, Walt, Mearsheimer and Ball have them up to their armpits.

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British director Ken Loach backs Palestinian call for boycott

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2006 by psysword

British director Ken Loach has expressed support for a boycott of Israeli cultural institutions and is urging others to do the same, giving the Palestinian initiators a significant boost.

Loach won the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival three months ago for his film about the Irish war of independence, “The Wind that Shakes the Barley.”

“Palestinians are driven to call for this boycott after 40 years of the occupation of their land, destruction of their homes and the kidnapping and murder of their civilians,” said Loach in a statement.

“They have no immediate hope that this oppression will end. As British citizens we have to acknowledge our own responsibility. We must condemn the British and U.S. governments for supporting and arming Israel.”

Loach, who has directed acclaimed films including “Kes,” “Riff-Raff” and “Carla’s Song,” also attacked his own government.

“We must also oppose the terrorist activities of the British and U.S. governments in pursuing their illegal wars and occupations,” he said.

“It is impossible to ignore the appeals of Palestinian comrades,” he concluded, adding, “I would decline any invitation to the Haifa Film Festival or other such occasions.”

Loach had received an invitation from the Haifa Film Festival in recent weeks.

Over the past few weeks, international film festivals have uninvited Israeli filmmakers in the wake of the recent Israel Defense Forces activity in Lebanon and Gaza.

The Lussas Documentary Film Festival in France was scheduled to feature Israeli documentary cinema this year, but canceled screenings of several of the films following the outbreak of the fighting.

The Blind Men Of Hindoostan

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2006 by psysword

Last Wednesday an eminent American research scholar and author on South Asia, Mr Paul Brass, wrote an article in a national daily. His study of over four decades led him to believe that ordinary people were not responsible for riots. Riots according to him emanated from “institutional riot systems”. These riots were in fact pogroms.

However, Mr Brass went on in his article to write about the riots of 1947: “Even such a stupendous disaster as the partition of India had been massively distorted in historical writing on the subject and in public consciousness, that it had not been at all recognized, except by a tiny minority of scholars, for what it actually was, namely, a twentieth century form of genocide and ethnic cleansing, but made to appear wholly or mostly spontaneous or blamed upon various easy targets such as Lord Mountbatten or the British policy of ‘divide and rule’.”

Mr Brass is accurate in the first part. I offered a rationale of the 1947 riots in a book over fifteen years ago. Its views were identical with the views expressed by Mr Brass except for one huge difference. When Mr Brass dismisses Lord Mountbatten or the British as “easy targets” one can only wonder if he has done his homework. To consider Lord Mountbatten as an individual is facile. He was Britain’s chosen instrument to preside over policy as the Empire was being dismantled. To reappraise the partition today is not merely academic engagement in a historical dispute. The truth about partition lies at the heart of the Kashmir problem, of the Baluchistan problem, of the Indo-Pakistan discord.

Recently former British foreign minister Mr Jack Straw regretfully acknowledged that Britain had made serious errors on Kashmir in 1947. He did not elaborate. Was he referring to the seemingly personal decision of a junior British army officer to declare Gilgit as part of Pakistan? Was he referring to Mountbatten’s prevailing over Nehru to move the UN and order a ceasefire before the Indian army occupied the whole of Kashmir, which it was about to? It served Britain to make sure that the partition endured. That was why Britain helped create an intractable Kashmir dispute to make this happen.

What impelled Britain to partition India? It was at that time a rational and sound policy for a departing colonial power to perpetuate its strategic interests. In those days Britain, even though impoverished and crippled by the war it had won, remained miles ahead of America in its understanding of global strategy. Britain’s secret service had thought about partition even before world war started in 1939. The British central intelligence in India wrote to the Secretary of State in London: “The differences between Hindus and Muslims have reached a point at which there is only one solution: partition. Thus, shortly, a nation of Muslim India should be established.”

Why did Britain want partition? It foresaw the need to contain the Soviet Union from expanding to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Lord Mountbatten was appointed as Viceroy by the King over Prime Minister Atlee’s head. Mountbatten was Queen Victoria’s great grandson. The British had convinced the Americans that an Islamic crescent encircling the Soviet Union and emerging Red China was the best bet to contain the “Godless communists”.

Less than two months after Mountbatten became Viceroy, US Secretary of State George Marshall sent Ronald A. Hare, head of Division of South Asian Affairs, and Thomas E. Weil, Second Secretary of the US Mission in India, to confer with Jinnah. In that meeting Jinnah echoed Lord Wavell’s views that a Muslim Pakistan would contain the Soviet Union. The American team conveyed this to Secretary of State George Marshal

But for a truly Muslim Pakistan a transfer of populations had to be ensured. There is enough circumstantial evidence to convincingly suggest that the “institutional riot system” which Mr Brass has discovered was very much under operation by Britain in 1947. Former Pakistan President Iskandar Mirza’s memoirs, when he served as a deputy commissioner, offer one morsel of evidence. Lord Mountbatten’s inexplicably perverse deployment of police forces, which facilitated instead of curbing riots, offers another. In certain areas the army instigated riots. To imagine that the most experienced world power would not exercise control over a bureaucracy and army created by it would be extremely naive.

The riots, which escalated in Punjab well after the Congress had formally accepted partition, were necessary to bring about a transfer of populations. Ninety per cent people of present Pakistan opposed the partition. The Khan of Kalat, who ruled over most of Baluchistan, remained independent for a year after partition, wanting to join India. Inexplicably, Nehru spurned him. Pakistan annexed Baluchistan through military coercion. Baluch insurgency has waxed and waned for over fifty years. This Sunday Baluchistan’s foremost leader Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed by the Pakistan army. He sought autonomy, not independence as other illustrious self-exiled Baluch leaders did. The Frontier Gandhi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, wanting either independence or merger with India, was also abandoned by Gandhi and Nehru. The Nawab of Bahawalpur, ruling a state contiguous to India, was also spurned by Nehru after he wanted to join India. One need not dwell on the betrayal by their top Congress leaders of the thousands who fought for freedom. These leaders were manipulated like pawns when it came to the crunch.

What is germane to the present is the truth that the birth of Pakistan was as controversial as the birth of Israel which was culled from Palestine partitioned by the British a few months after India’s partition. Both Israel and Pakistan were artificially created. Both have survived for six decades. They are a reality. Any realistic solution would have to protect their sovereign identities. Nevertheless, the past cannot be wished away. The problem between India and Pakistan is not Kashmir. It is the partition. Kashmir is the symptom. Its people in all of its five segments spread across India and Pakistan deserve self-determination provided India, Pakistan and Kashmir – whatever its future status – arrive at a special relationship which might later encompass Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

No outside power should be allowed to encroach as an equal on this special relationship. To talk of joint management by India and Pakistan of Kashmir is futile. Kashmir is not a factory requiring joint management. President Musharraf, the Hurriyat leaders, Syed Salahuddin, Mr Farooq Abdullah and others are busy discussing the peace process. Let them first confront the truth. The basic problem is not Kashmir. The basic problem is the partition. Let them start from that end.

American Rottweiler

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2006 by psysword

Of all that has been said about the Second Lebanon War, these are perhaps the most important words: “Every new Arab generation hates Israel more than the previous one.”

URI AVNERY

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In his latest speech, which infuriated so many people, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uttered a sentence that deserves attention: “Every new Arab generation hates Israel more than the previous one.”

Of all that has been said about the Second Lebanon War, these are perhaps the most important words.

The main product of this war is hatred. The pictures of death and destruction in Lebanon entered every Arab home, indeed every Muslim home, from Indonesia to Morocco, from Yemen to the Muslim ghettos in London and Berlin. Not for an hour, not for a day, but for 33 successive days – day after day, hour after hour. The mangled bodies of babies, the women weeping over the ruins of their homes, Israeli children writing “greetings” on shells about to be fired at villages, Ehud Olmert blabbering about “the most moral army in the world” while the screen showed a heap of bodies.

Israelis ignored these sights, indeed they were scarcely shown on our TV. Of course, we could see them on Aljazeera and some Western channels, but Israelis were much too busy with the damage wrought in our Northern towns. Feelings of pity and empathy for non-Jews have been blunted here a long time ago.

But it is a terrible mistake to ignore this result of the war. It is far more important than the stationing of a few thousand European troops along our border, with the kind consent of Hizbullah. It may still be bothering generations of Israelis, when the names Olmert and Halutz have long been forgotten, and when even Nasrallah no longer remember the name Amir Peretz.

In order for the significance of Assad’s words to become clear, they have to be viewed in a historical context.

The whole Zionist enterprise has been compared to the transplantation of an organ into the body of a human being. The natural immunity system rises up against the foreign implant, the body mobilizes all its power to reject it. The doctors use a heavy dosage of medicines in order to overcome the rejection. That can go on for a long time, sometimes until the eventual death of the body itself, including the transplant.

(Of course, this analogy, like any other, should be treated cautiously. An analogy can help in understanding things, but no more than that.)

The Zionist movement has planted a foreign body in this country, which was then a part of the Arab-Muslim space. The inhabitants of the country, and the entire Arab region, rejected the Zionist entity. Meanwhile, the Jewish settlement has taken roots and become an authentic new nation rooted in the country. Its defensive power against the rejection has grown. This struggle has been going on for 125 years, becoming more violent from generation to generation. The last war was yet another episode.

What is our historic objective in this confrontation?

A fool will say: to stand up to the rejection with a growing dosage of medicaments, provided by America and World Jewry. The greatest fools will add: There is no solution. This situation will last forever. There is nothing to be done about it but to defend ourselves in war after war after war. And the next war is already knocking on the door.

The wise will say: our objective is to cause the body to accept the transplant as one of its organs, so that the immune system will no longer treat us as an enemy that must be removed at any price. And if this is the aim, it must become the main axis of our efforts. Meaning: each of our actions must be judged according to a simple criterion: does it serve this aim or obstruct it?

According to this criterion, the Second Lebanon War was a disaster.

Fifty nine years ago, two months before the outbreak of our War of Independence, I published a booklet entitled “War or Peace in the Semitic Region”.

Its opening words were:

“When our Zionist fathers decided to set up a ‘safe haven’ in Palestine, they had a choice between two ways:

“They could appear in West Asia as a European conqueror, who sees himself as a bridge-head of the ‘white’ race and a master of the ‘natives’, like the Spanish Conquistadores and the Anglo-Saxon colonists in America. That is what the Crusaders did in Palestine.

“The second way was to consider themselves as an Asian nation returning to its home – a nation that sees itself as an heir to the political and cultural heritage of the Semitic race, and which is prepared to join the peoples of the Semitic region in their war of liberation from European exploitation.”

As is well known, the State of Israel, which was established a few months later, chose the first way. It gave its hand to colonial France, tried to help Britain to return to the Suez Canal and, since 1967, has become the little sister of the United States.

That was not inevitable. On the contrary, in the course of years there have been a growing number of indications that the immune system of the Arab-Muslim body is starting to incorporate the transplant – as a human body accepts the organ of a close relative – and is ready to accept us. Such an indication was the visit of Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem. Such was the peace treaty signed with us by King Hussein, a descendent of the Prophet. And, most importantly, the historic decision of Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian people, to make peace with Israel.

But after every huge step forward, there came an Israeli step backward. It is as if the transplant rejects the body’s acceptance of it. As if it has become so accustomed to being rejected, that it does all it can to induce the body to reject it even more.

It is against this background that one should weigh the words spoken by Assad Jr., a member of the new Arab generation, at the end of the recent war.

After every single one of the war aims put forward by our government had evaporated, one after the other, another reason was brought up: this war was a part of the “clash of civilizations”, the great campaign of the Western world and its lofty values against the barbarian darkness of the Islamic world.

That reminds one, of course, of the words written 110 years ago by the father of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, in the founding document of the Zionist movement: “In Palestine…we shall constitute for Europe a part of the wall against Asia, and serve as the vanguard of civilization against barbarism.” Without knowing, Olmert almost repeated this formula in his justification of his war, in order to please President Bush.

It happens from time to time in the United States that somebody invents an empty but easily digested slogan, which then dominates the public discourse for some time. It seems that the more stupid the slogan is, the better its chances of becoming the guiding light for academia and the media – until another slogan appears and supersedes it. The latest example is the slogan “Clash of Civilizations”, coined by Samuel P. Huntington in 1993 (taking over from the “End of History”).

What clash of ideas is there between Muslim Indonesia and Christian Chile? What eternal struggle between Poland and Morocco? What is it that unifies Malaysia and Kosovo, two Muslim nations? Or two Christian nations like Sweden and Ethiopia?

In what way are the ideas of the West more sublime than those of the East? The Jews that fled the flames of the auto-da-fe of the Christian Inquisition in Spain were received with open arms by the Muslim Ottoman Empire.

The most cultured of European nations democratically elected Adolf Hitler as its leader and perpetrated the Holocaust, without the Pope raising his voice in protest.

In what way are the spiritual values of the United States, today’s Empire of the West, superior to those of India and China, the rising stars of the East? Huntington himself was compelled to admit: “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.” In the West, too, women won the vote only in the 20th century, and slavery was abolished there only in the second half of the 19th. And in the leading nation of the West, fundamentalism is now also raising its head.

What interest, for goodness sake, have we in volunteering to be a political and military vanguard of the West in this imagined clash?

The truth is, of course, that this entire story of the clash of civilizations is nothing but an ideological cover for something that has no connection with ideas and values: the determination of the United States to dominate the world’s resources, and especially oil.

The Second Lebanon War is considered by many as a “War by Proxy”. That’s to say: Hizbullah is the Dobermann of Iran, we are the Rottweiler of America. Hizbullah gets money, rockets and support from the Islamic Republic, we get money, cluster bombs and support from the United States of America.

That is certainly exaggerated. Hizbullah is an authentic Lebanese movement, deeply rooted in the Shiite community. The Israeli government has its own interests (the occupied territories) that do not depend on America. But there is no doubt that there is much truth in the argument that this was also a war by substitutes.

The US is fighting against Iran, because Iran has a key role in the region where the most important oil reserves in the world are located. Not only does Iran itself sit on huge oil deposits, but through its revolutionary Islamic ideology it also menaces American control over the near-by oil countries. The declining resource oil becomes more and more essential in the modern economy. He who controls the oil controls the world.

The US would viciously attack Iran even it were peopled with pigmies devoted to the religion of the Dalai Lama. There is a shocking similarity between George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, The one has personal conversations with Jesus, the other has a line to Allah. But the name of the game is domination.

What interest do we have to get involved in this struggle? What interest do we have in being regarded – accurately – as the servants of the greatest enemy of the Muslim world in general and the Arab world in particular?

We want to live here in 100 years, in 500 years. Our most basic national interests demand that we extend our hands to the Arab nations that accept us, and act together with them for the rehabilitation of this region. That was true 59 years ago, and that will be true 59 years hence.

Little politicians like Olmert, Peretz and Halutz are unable to think in these terms. They can hardly see as far as the end of their noses. But where are the intellectuals, who should be more far-sighted?

Bashar al-Assad may not be one of the world’s Great Thinkers. But his remark should certainly give us pause for thought.

10 US Invaders Officially Terminated in Iraq in 24 Hours

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2006 by psysword

Two U.S. occupation soldiers have died in Iraq, one in fighting in the restive Anbar province and the second from injuries sustained in a Humvee “accident.

The U.S. military said Tuesday: A soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7 died Sunday after being wounded in fighting in Anbar.

The US occupation military earlier reported that eight other soldiers also died Sunday in and around Baghdad, making it one of the officially deadliest days for the military in recent months:

According to AFP, the U.S. Army Command Headquarters in Iraq issued a statement Monday announcing that four American troops were killed following the detonation of a roadside hand-made bomb in northern Baghdad.

The U.S. Army also reported that three other American soldiers were killed in two separate explosions in southern and western Baghdad.

Another American trooper was shot dead by the Iraqi combatants in eastern Baghdad.

According to Pentagon’s official statistical figures, since the start of Iraq war on March 2003, 2,633 American troopers have been killed in Iraq.

However, the independent sources including Iraq’s puppets’ news agency announced that since the occupation of Iraq, 12,000 American troops have been killed and more than 15,000 American troopers have been wounded in Iraq. IRIB

No information on the real extent of US casualties on Monday, August 28, was available from independent sources till the filing of this report.

OVER 12,000 U.S SOLDIERS DEAD IN IRAQ

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2006 by psysword

“The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed”.
George Orwell, ‘1984’

“Whether war is a necessary factor in the evolution of mankind may be disputed, but a fact which cannot be questioned is that, from the earliest records of man to the present age, war has been his dominant preoccupation. There has never been a period in human history altogether free from war, and seldom one of more than a generation which has not witnessed a major conflict: great wars flow and ebb almost as regularly as the tides. This becomes more noticeable when a civilization ages and begins to decay, as seemingly is happening to our world-wide industrial civilization. Whereas but a generation or two back, war was accepted as an instrument of policy, it has now become policy itself.”

General J.F.C. Fuller, 1954

The Bush/Cheney Butcher’s Bill: Officially, 30 US Military Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan from 1 August 2006 – 14 August 2006- Official Total of 2,791 US dead to date (and rising) The actual total of dead American military personnel is now over 12,000 and also rising and the number of seriously wounded is now ca 25,000
by Brian Harring, Domestic Intelligence Reporter brianharring@yahoo.com
Mr. President, why don’t you pull out…like your father should have?
Brian Harring

Note: There is excellent reason to believe that the Department of Defense is deliberately not reporting a significant number of the dead in Iraq. We have received copies of manifests from the MATS that show far more bodies shipped into Dover AFP than are reported officially. The actual death toll is in excess of 10,000. (See the official records at the end of this piece.) Given the officially acknowledged number of over 15,000 seriously wounded (and a published total of 25,000 wounded overall,), this elevated death toll is far more realistic than the current 2,000+ now being officially published. When our research is complete, and watertight, we will publish the results along with the sources In addition to the evident falsification of the death rolls, at least 5,500 American military personnel have deserted, most in Ireland but more have escaped to Canada and other European countries, none of whom are inclined to cooperate with vengeful American authorities. (See TBR News of 18 February for full coverage on the mass desertions) This means that of the 158,000 U.S. military shipped to Iraq, 26,000 deserted, were killed or seriously wounded. The DoD lists currently being very quietly circulated indicate over12,000 dead, over 25,000 seriously wounded and a large number of suicides, forced hospitalization for ongoing drug usage and sales, murder of Iraqi civilians and fellow soldiers, rapes, courts martial and so on –
The government gets away with these huge lies because they claim, falsely, that only soldiers actually killed on the ground in Iraq are reported. The dying and critically wounded are listed as en route to military hospitals outside of the country and not reported on the daily postings. Anyone who dies just as the transport takes off from the Baghdad airport is not listed and neither are those who die in the US military hospitals. Their families are certainly notified that their son, husband, brother or lover was dead and the bodies, or what is left of them (refrigeration is very bad in Iraq what with constant power outages) are shipped home, to Dover AFB. This, we note, was the overall policy until very recently. Since it became well known that many had died at Landstuhl, in Germany, the DoD began to list a very few soldiers who had died at other non-theater locations. These numbers are only for show and are pathetically small in relationship to the actual figures. You ought to realize that President Bush personally ordered that no pictures be taken of the coffined and flag-draped dead under any circumstances. He claims that this is to comfort the bereaved relatives but is designed to keep the huge number of arriving bodies secret. Any civilian, or military personnel, taking pictures will be jailed at once and prosecuted. Bush has never attended any kind of a memorial service for his dead soldiers and never will. He is terrified some parent might curse him in front of the press or, worse, attack him. As Bush is a terrible physical coward and in a constant state of denial, this is not a surprise.

Sudan snubs US envoy sent to ease way for UN troops

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30, 2006 by psysword

A senior US diplomat left Sudan without meeting President Omar al-Beshir after Khartoum rejected demands that it approve the deployment of UN peacekeepers in war-torn Darfur.

US Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer ended her mission to Sudan late on Sunday, a day before the UN Security Council was to discuss a draft resolution on the peacekeepers.

Frazer had been expected to deliver a message from US President George W. Bush to al-Beshir, apparently pressing the Sudanese president to end his rejection of the UN deployment.

But al-Bashir was unable to meet the American diplomat “due to his crowded schedule,” the president’s office said.

Instead, Frazer handed the message to presidential adviser Majzoub al-Khalifa Ahmed, who in turn gave her a message from al-Bashir repeating his rejection of the UN force, presidential spokesman Mahjub Badry, told reporters.

The UN force is considered crucial to ending the bloodshed in Darfur, which has continued despite a fragile peace deal signed by the government and one of the ethnic African rebel groups operating in the region.

The mandate of a 7,000-strong African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur ends on Sept. 30, and a draft resolution before the Security Council envisions replacing the AU force, whose mandate ends Sept. 30, with a larger and better equipped one under UN auspices. The poorly funded and supplied AU force has been unable to stem violence in Darfur.

Instead of the UN force, al-Bashir has called for the African peacekeepers to be strengthened – and he has said he plans to send Sudanese troops to Darfur to pacify the region.

A build-up of Sudanese troops in Darfur could lead to a human rights catastrophe, the London-based rights group Amnesty International warned Monday.

Witnesses in el Fasher in North Darfur have reported that Sudanese military flights have been flying in troops and arms to the region, said Kate Gilmore, Amnesty’s executive deputy secretary general.

Gilmore called the Sudanese government’s plan to deploy its own forces in Darfur a “sham” that the UN must reject.

More than 200,000 people have died the remote Darfur region since 2003 when ethnic African tribes revolted against the Arab-led Khartoum government. The government is accused of unleashing Arab militiamen known as janjaweed who have been blamed for widespread atrocitie