Extension of the Meditation Focus #77

Fostering Peace in the Middle East

Hello

Exceptionally, it is recommended to extend for one additional week the current Meditation Focus on the situation in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq where much of the world's attention is currently focused.

If need be, please review our previous summary at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/MeditationFocus77.htm

Here is again the key Focus segment of this summary:

Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming week, and especially in synchronous attunement at the usual time this Sunday, to contribute in fostering peace in the entire Middle East region, with a specific focus on attenuating the distrust that has been for too long a determining element and the basis for so many decisions. May all parties involved seek the higher road of gradually building trust and extending forgiveness in a bid to create a Middle East with an entirely new face of balanced, peaceful coexistence, fairness and gentleness, as well as mutual respect and appreciation, for the benefit of all generations to come and for the Highest Good of All.


The Meditation times are unchanged. You will find below some news articles to bring you up-to-date with the latest developments.

But first you will also find a timely Winter Solstice Message from Barbara Marx Hubbard who reminds us that today, the 22nd of December, is the first Day of the Decade of the Transformation from 2002 to 2012.

Also recommended: review this other important upcoming December 31st, annual Global Healing Meditation at http://lonestar.texas.net/~quartus/WorldHealingDay.html ...and read the accompanying World Healing Meditation at http://lonestar.texas.net/~quartus/WHMeditation.html


This complementary material is also available at http://www.aei.ca/~cep/ExtensionMeditationFocus77.htm




From: Barbara Marx Hubbard <BMarxhubb@aol.com>
Date: Fri, 20 Dec 2002
Subject: Winter Solstice Message

Dearly Beloved Friends

We ask you to join with us in Spirit on December 22. It is the day after the winter solstice, the time of the earliest, imperceptible turning toward the light. In this year of so much darkness we recognize and celebrate the new light that is rising in millions of us. The darkness can never put out the light. It never has, and never will.

Usually we celebrate the "birth of the universal human" in all of us. But this year we are celebrating the 22nd of December as the first Day of the Decade of the Transformation -- from 2002 to 2012.

According to the Mayan calendar, Solstice 2012 marks the definite end of the old and beginning of the new. We have ten years, probably the most crucial years since the origin of Homo sapiens sapiens. We like to think of it as the decade of the birth of Homo universalis.

We will be meeting at the new Center for Conscious Evolution in Santa Barbara from 6:00 P.M. to evoke the "future present," that is the New World arising within and among each of us. We acknowledge that it is in our midst now. We are the new world whenever two or more gather in resonance and the intent to express our gifts for the good of our self and the whole human family.

This world we are cocreating needs to be claimed and felt as real, in the present, wherever love and creativity is being expressed. This feeling activates the unified field, the blueprint in the quantum hologram, or the mind of God, signaling that members of this species are evolving now.

Please join us, and your own family and friends on December 22, inaugurating the Decade of Transformation.

With love and blessings to all

Barbara




COMPLEMENTARY UP-TO-DATE INFORMATION ON THIS MEDITATION FOCUS

This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of the subject of this Meditation Focus. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mindset, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of peace and healing. This complementary information is provided so that a greater knowledge of what needs healing and peace-nurturing vibrations may assist us to have an in-depth understanding of what is at stake and thus achieve a greater collective effectiveness.


From: http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,863261,00.html

Powell turns hawk over declaration

Friday December 20, 2002
The Guardian

The man credited with preventing the United States from unilateral action in a war with Iraq yesterday appeared to have affected a transformation from leading White House dove to born-again warrior.

Following Washington's first detailed appraisal of Iraq's weapons declaration, the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, seems to have enlisted in the hardline camp.

In his preliminary comments on Iraq's declaration on Wednesday, Mr Powell said Iraq had failed to give a serious account of its weapons arsenal, holding back evidence of its nuclear programme, and its stocks of biological and chemical weapons.

"Our analysis of the Iraqi declaration to this point... shows problems with the declaration, gaps, omissions - and all of this is troublesome," Mr Powell said. "We are not encouraged that they have gotten the message and that they will cooperate."

He added that the United States would "stay within the UN process".

However, the implications were clear: after months of being perceived as the lone dove in the Bush administration, Mr Powell appeared to be moving on side with Washington's preparations for war. His comments were widely seen as a first step towards war.

"This is a step-by-step process to bring the American people and world opinion around to make it very clear that Saddam Hussein is violating," the former Nato commander, General Wesley Clark, told CNN yesterday.

Mr Powell's journey from peacemaker to warrior began last August when he held several face-to-face chats with President George Bush, and moved him away from the majority position within the administration that Washington was prepared to go to war on its own against President Saddam.

The president's decision was seen as vindication for Mr Powell, who had complained to confidants earlier this year that he felt frozen out of the administration.

By November, it had taken on the status of a major diplomatic triumph.

After weeks of assiduous diplomacy, Mr Powell succeeded in persuading all the members of the security council - including Syria - to sign on to the resolution for a tough new inspections regime in Iraq. Even then there were signs of the warrior within. On the eve of the security council vote, Mr Powell told a group of journalists that the US would show zero tolerance to any evasions from Iraq.

"We will know very early on whether Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi government plan to cooperate," he said. "We will know in short order by the nature of the declaration they send in."

Despite its condemnation this week of the contents of Iraq's declaration, Washington officially remains committed to the inspections regime. As Mr Powell said on Wednesday, the US will continue to work through the United Nations system, which means that it will press for the UN to take a hardline approach on the next stage of the inspections: interviews with Iraqi weapons scientists.

But it may well be that his true mission in the coming days will be to get the world to side with Washington when it goes to war - rather than to stop a conflict from erupting.

"As Saddam has been given more time to produce and fails to deliver and blocks the inspectors, I think the UN security council's sympathy and support will shift more and more to the United States position," Gen Clark said yesterday.

---

From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2597673.stm

Saturday, 21 December, 2002

US army gears up for war

Thousands of troops are involved in the exercises The United States army has begun a big military exercise in Kuwait, close to the border with Iraq.

It comes hours after US officials said 50,000 troops were being sent to the region to prepare for action against Saddam Hussein.

In Iraq itself, 10 teams of United Nations weapons inspectors resumed work on Saturday.

Washington now says it will share intelligence with the inspectors to help them find weapons of mass destruction.

Wind-swept sands

"This is the biggest manoeuvre exercise since the Gulf War," Major General Buford Blout told the Associated Press news agency.

The agency says thousands of troops are taking part, supported by hundreds of armoured vehicles and helicopters.

Tanks swept through the wind-swept sands on the first of two days of exercises.

Soldiers have painted on their rifle barrels slogans such as: "All the way to Baghdad," as well as the flight numbers of the jets hijacked in last year's 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.

Talking of the prospect of fighting Iraqi soldiers, Lieutenant Ryan Kuo said: "I kind of feel sorry for them. It is not like 10 years ago. The weapons we have now don't miss."

Journalists and television crews have been invited to witness the exercise in what correspondents say is a move to increase pressure on the Iraqi Government.

Production plants

Across the border United Nations inspectors visited 12 sites on Saturday, Iraqi officials said.

They included missile production plants at Taji, 18 kilometres (11 miles) north of Baghdad and Qaqaa, 20km (12 miles) south of Baghdad, the AFP news agency said.

Another site was the premises of the Samarra pharmaceutical company.

Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix criticised the US for not sharing sensitive intelligence information, believing it could easily fall into the hands of the Iraqis.

But a BBC correspondent in Washington says the US is now prepared to hand over satellite imagery identifying up to five suspicious sites.

The Bush administration wants the inspectors to have a real opportunity to catch the Iraqis out, and American officials say they are willing to take a chance that revealed intelligence might be leaked, our correspondent says.

President Bush has cancelled a trip to Africa planned for January in what is being as a sign of further preparation for war.

In his pre-Christmas radio address on Saturday, Mr Bush asked Americans to remember US troops abroad standing between "Americans and grave danger".

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair told the country's armed forces on Friday that they, too, must be ready for a possible confrontation with Iraq.

In his first public response to Iraq's weapons declaration to the UN, Mr Bush told reporters on Friday that it was "not encouraging".

"We expect Mr Saddam Hussein to disarm," Mr Bush said.

"Yesterday was a disappointing day for those who long for peace," he added.

Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix is due to present a full report on the work of his teams to the UN by 27 January.

---

From: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=574&ncid=721&e=1&u=/nm/20021221/wl_nm/iraq_dc

Dec 21. 2002

U.N. Teams Hunt Iraqi Arms, War Drums Sound

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.N. arms inspectors hunted for banned weapons in Iraq on Saturday but across the Middle East and Gulf region expectations of war grew, stoked by somber messages coming from Washington and London.

Syria thundered a warning to the United States that it had no right to attack Iraq, and that its support for Israel was fueling popular anger across the region. Iraqi officials said U.N. experts had pounced on 10 sites across the country, including an oil refinery south of Baghdad and a communications center near the Iranian border.

Washington and London indicated that the prospect of a ground and air war to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in early 2003 was now increasingly likely.

President Bush canceled a trip to Africa at a few weeks' notice and the U.S. military forged ahead with a buildup that could have more than 100,000 troops in the Gulf in weeks.

Washington has declared Iraq in "material breach" of a U.N. disarmament resolution for failing to disclose in a declaration suspected chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

An Iraqi opposition leader said on Saturday he believed a U.S-led attack on Iraq would happen very soon.

Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress, seen as the most pro-U.S. group among Iraqi opposition factions, spoke in Turkey, which borders northern Iraq.

"If Turkey participates in a possible operation on Iraq, peace could be achieved faster due to its position in the U.N. and its relations with neighboring countries," he said.

During a visit to Afghanistan the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, said his forces were ready for action right away.

"The job of the U.S. military and our coalition partners is to be ready to do what our presidents ask...We will be ready to do that no matter what month it is," Myers said.

Western aircraft dropped leaflets over southern Iraq on Saturday advertising radio frequencies carrying appeals to Iraqi soldiers to desert, U.S. central Command said.

A total of 240,000 leaflets were dropped.

Sirens rang out for the first time in a decade in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom tested its emergency warning system while in Qatar, delegates from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states met to set aside regional differences amid fears of war.

SADDAM MEETS ADVISERS

Several hundred people demonstrated outside the Qatari embassy in Egypt's capital protesting against the West's build-up to war and the U.S. military presence in Arab states.

In Baghdad, Saddam met top advisers, according to the official news agency INA, which said they had discussed regional and international developments.

Iraqi newspapers taunted the United States and Britain. The daily owned by Saddam's eldest son Uday likened U.S. and British leaders to ruthless Mongol conquerors.

In Damascus, Vice President Zuheir Masharqa accused Washington of double standards.

"The priorities of U.S. policies clash with the interests and hopes of the (region's) people, increasing their outrage against U.S. policies," Masharqa said.

"There is no justification allowing the U.S. administration to (rightfully) launch a war against Iraq, no matter how numerous the pretexts are," Masharqa added.

"It is Israel that has a large arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, and it is Israel that represents the most dangerous core of terrorism in the region and the world."

Israel is widely believed to have 200-300 nuclear warheads.

U.S. officials say there were now 60,000 U.S. troops in the Gulf region, more than half of them Navy and Air Force, and some 50,000 U.S. ground troops were being told this week to get ready to move to the Gulf.

According to a German government source, the United States has asked Germany to guard U.S. bases in the country at the end of January to allow more U.S. troops to be moved to the Gulf.

In a Christmas message to British armed forces, Prime Minister Tony Blair told troops to prepare for war.

A British defense ministry source said London and Washington were planning a seaborne invasion of Iraq.

"Discussions on future amphibious operations are at an advanced stage," the source said, adding that Britain would commit its 3 Commando Brigade of Royal Marines to the assault.

In the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites), U.S. forces assembled an amphibious force in the Gulf, but never mounted an assault by sea. Instead, ground troops entered Iraq and Kuwait from Saudi Arabia by land.

Hans Blix, who heads the team of U.N. inspectors who returned to Iraq in November after a four-year hiatus, told the Security Council on Thursday Iraq's declaration was flawed.

Iraq submitted a 12,000-page dossier on December 7 under a tough new resolution aimed at disarming Baghdad of any weapons of mass destruction, but Blix said there was little new in it.

U.S. officials offered more data to U.N. inspectors after Blix had urged Washington and London to share intelligence.

Officials said the information would involve fewer than six sites where U.S. intelligence believed Iraq has "suspicious chemical weapons or elements of production."

The Security Council asked the arms inspectors on Friday to provide a detailed assessment of Iraq's arms declaration on January 9, in another effort to evaluate Baghdad's claim it no longer has weapons of mass destruction, diplomats said.

Niger, the third biggest uranium producer in the world, denied on Saturday U.S. allegations that Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from the West African country.

"Uranium is not bread. It's a strategic product sold under certain rules," Niger's Minister for Mines and Energy Hassane Yari told reporters.

---

From: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=540&e=1&u=/ap/20021221/ap_on_re_mi_ea/kuwait_war_exercise

U.S. Starts Military Exercises in Kuwait (Dec 21)

SOUTH OF KUWAIT-IRAQ BORDER - The U.S. Army launched its biggest maneuver in the Kuwaiti desert since the Gulf War on Saturday, throwing thousands of soldiers and hundreds of armored vehicles into live-fire exercises to sharpen their skills ahead of a possible new war with Iraq.

The operations got under way as the threat of war increased with declarations by U.N. arms inspectors that Iraq failed to fully account for its banned weapons, and the United States struggled for diplomatic support to declare Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in "material breach" of U.N. resolutions.

News of the latest diplomatic confrontations sharpened the expectations among soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, as they rumbled forward in tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles Saturday for two days of live-fire maneuvers in the windblown sands a few miles from the Iraqi border.

"This is the biggest maneuver exercise since the Gulf War," Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, commander of the 3rd Division, told The Associated Press. "It really adds focus to our soldiers. They're already one of the best trained divisions in the army, probably in the world."

Blount didn't answer directly when asked whether the likelihood had increased that his men would put into practice the lethal skills they are refining in the Kuwaiti desert.

"We have to wait for the president to make that decision," he said. "We'd be out here training anyway."

The two-day war games under day and night conditions are one of a series of exercises carried out in the Kuwaiti desert in recent weeks, but these are by far the most intricate.

It seems no accident that reporters and TV crews have been invited along for the maneuvers, and some commanders have pointed out the military show of force was a warning to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as well as a chance for soldiers to rehearse for combat.

While American officials have said President Bush has not yet decided to launch a war, it appears ever more likely he'll do so soon. One Friday, an administration official said on condition of anonymity that Bush had authorized a doubling of the 50,000 U.S. troops now in the Gulf.

The 2nd Brigade, the largest U.S. force deployed in what is expected to be the launch pad for any invasion into Iraq, sent its M1A1 Abrams tanks and other armor forward against positions prepared to resemble Iraqi trenches and minefields supported by armored vehicles.

Fire from 120mm cannons and mortars thudded down to kill theoretical enemy defenders, and 300-foot chains of linked explosives were fired onto minefields and barbed wire to open paths for the American armor to roll through.

Soldiers with M16s dismounted from their Bradleys to clear the trenches, and the phalanx of armor swept deeper into the desert as helicopters flew overhead.

Blount's initial judgment was that the operation was a success, and he said the tense regional context "adds a little realism."

The United States has kept a brigade-sized force in Kuwait as a deterrent against Iraqi attack since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. That mission officially has not changed, and no huge prewar buildup of forces has taken place similar to the Gulf War a decade ago.

Kuwaiti leaders have said they will allow U.S. forces to launch an attack on Iraq from their small, oil-rich state only if the use of force is sanctioned by the United Nations (news - web sites).

But on the ground, the soldiers are clearly aware that they would form the core of any invasion into Iraq.

On their gun barrels, they have painted names that include the flight numbers of the Sept. 11 airplanes that were hijacked, as well as a threat that now seems more timely: "All the way to Baghdad."

"I kind of feel sorry for them," said 1st Lt. Ryan Kuo of Reno, Nevada. "It is not like 10 years ago. The weapons we have now don't miss."

---

See also:

Despite Countdown, War Isn't Certain (Dec 20)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A14884-2002Dec19.html

Not yet in breach (Dec 20)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,863445,00.html
Inspecting Iraq takes time and patience.

Interviews with scientists could prove sticking point in inspections (Dec 21)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,863937,00.html
With time running out for Baghdad to avoid a war, the fate of Iraq yesterday lay in the hands of a handful of scientists and weapons experts, who will be asked to give up the secrets of Saddam Hussein's weapons programme.

Analysis: US set tripwire for Iraq action (Dec 20)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2595659.stm

US and Iraq prepare for decision on war in late January (Dec 20)
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-519371,00.html

January 27 is decision day for war against Iraq (Dec 20)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,863506,00.html
America last night invoked the trigger phrase for war on Iraq, accusing Baghdad of being in "material breach" of its UN obligations to fully disclose its weapons arsenal. (...) With the deployments currently under way, President George Bush could go to war soon after January 27, when the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, is to report to the UN security council on the progress of the inspections. (...) If President Saddam wants to make amends for the deliberate omissions in the report, Mr Powell said, he must accept an even more aggressive inspections regime, which will turn its attentions to removing Iraq's intellectual elite - its scientists - from the country where they will be interviewed on developments at nuclear, chemical and biological weapons installations. The consequences for failing to do so were made plain. Pentagon officials said that as many as 50,000 extra US forces will be on their way to the Gulf by early January. CLIP

Iraq's 'unaccounted for'ç weapons (Dec 19)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2590265.stm

Iraqi exiles find common ground (Dec 17)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,861501,00.html
Iraqi opposition groups meeting in London extended thei talks yesterday to try to form a united front to oppose the regime of Saddam Hussein.

'We'll have blood on our hands' (Dec 17)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,861348,00.html
Former Hollywood bad boy Sean Penn is the latest celebrity to join the protest against the threat of an American attack on Iraq. Rory McCarthy meets him in Baghdad.

Document names western arms suppliers (Dec 11)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,857718,00.html
The Iraqi declaration on banned weapons programmes contains the names of western companies which helped Baghdad amass a nuclear, chemical and biological arsenal.

Timetable to war?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2419885.stm

Military build-up
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2552655.stm

Chemical strike may prompt nuclear response, says US (Dec 12)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,858349,00.html

Yahoo Full coverage on Iraq
http://story.news.yahoo.com/fc?cid=34&tmpl=fc&in=World&cat=Iraq

Guardian Full coverage on Iraq
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/0,2759,423009,00.html




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