Aletho News


US vessel opens fire on boat off UAE coast, killing 1

Press TV – July 16, 2012

A US vessel has opened fire on a boat off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf, killing at least one person and injuring three others.

The dead man and the three injured people are reported to be Indian fishermen.

It was not immediately clear why the USNS Rappahannock attacked a small motor boat near the Dubai port of Jebel Ali on Monday.

US consular officials in Abu Dhabi have confirmed the incident but refused to provide further details.

Local officials say the boat could have been mistaken as a threat.

US tries to justify deadly attack in Persian Gulf, says boat ignored warnings

Press TV – July 16, 2012

The US Navy Fifth Fleet says the sailors on the ship that launched a deadly attack in the Persian Gulf had warned the fishermen on the targeted boat before they opened fire.

The Bahrain-based fleet issued a statement on Monday saying that the USNS Rappahannock only attacked a small motor boat near the Dubai port of Jebel Ali, killing one and injuring three Indian fishermen, after they “ignored the warnings and came too close,” Xinhua reported.

The statement added that the US ship used a series of non-lethal, preplanned responses to warn the vessel’s operators to turn away from their “deliberate” approach before resorting to lethal force.

Jebel Ali port, one of the largest ports in the Middle East, is the most frequently visited port by ships of the US Navy outside the United States.

Washington recently expanded its military presence in the Persian Gulf, sending an unspecified number of F-22 stealth fighters and warships to the region.

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

MEK Spokesmen and Their Cozy Home at The Huffington Post

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | July 14, 2012

Earlier this week, Glenn Greenwald reported that, on Tuesday,

The Huffington Post published a post by Hossein Abedini, who was identified in the byline as a “Member of Parliament in exile of Iranian Resistance.” His extended HuffPost bio says that he “belongs to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran” (NCRI). The NCRI is the political arm of the Mujahideen-e Khalq, (MeK), the Iranian dissident group (and longtime Saddam ally) that has been formally designated by the U.S. State Department since 1997 as a Terrorist organization, yet has been paying large sums of money to a bipartisan cast of former U.S. officials to advocate on its behalf (the in-hiding President of the NCRI, Massoud Rajavi, is, along with his wife Maryam Rajavi, MeK’s leader). Abedini, the HuffPost poster, has been identified as a MeK spokesman in news reports, and has identified himself the same way when, for instance, writing letters to NBC News objecting to negative reports about the group.

After noted journalists Hooman Majd, Robert Mackey, Greenwald himself, and others “noted the oddity that HuffPost was publishing pieces from a designated Terrorist group, HuffPost deleted the piece.”  A HuffPo spokesperson also told Greenwald that Abedini’s post “was published by mistake,” adding, “By policy, we don’t publish blog posts by people affiliated with designated terrorist organizations. The blog editor who published it was unaware that NCRI is MEK’s political arm. When the mistake was discovered the post was removed.”

Nevertheless, all of Abedini’s previous articles remain archived on HuffPo.  Furthermore, Greenwald points out that “The Huffington Post has also repeatedly published Ali Safavi, who is also identified as ‘a member of Iran’s Parliament in Exile, National Council of Resistance of Iran'” and “use[s] his HuffPost platform to propagate standard MeK propaganda.”  All of Safavi’s posts remain accessible.

But that’s not all.

There’s yet another MeK/NCRI spokesman and propagandist who also regularly posts articles on HuffPo: Alireza Jafarzadeh.  All of his posts remain live on HuffPo, where he is touted (in a bio written by himself) as a foreign affairs analyst who has appeared all over Western media, speaking on behalf of the terrorist group.  Fox News has long featured him as a contributing commentator and he currently runs his own “consulting” firm in Washington D.C. called “Strategic Policy Consulting” which is pretty much just a phony company that manages his own media appearances and lobbying to Congress.  One look at his Twitter feed removes all doubt as to Jafarzadeh’s affiliation (at the highest level) with the MeK. … Full article

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pakistanis protest reopening of NATO supply lines

Al Akhbar | July 16, 2012

Thousands of people gathered at a park in northwest Pakistan on Monday for a protest at the reopening of NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, which will culminate in a march the following day.

The protesters will spend the night at the park in the city of Peshawar near a highway used by NATO trucks supplying foreign forces in Afghanistan, as part of the demonstration organized by Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).

Between 5,000 and 8,000 party activists had reached the site by the evening, according to police, and the protesters would on Tuesday march towards the town of Jamrud in Khyber tribal district, a key supply route.

Pakistan reopened overland routes to NATO convoys crossing into neighboring Afghanistan on July 3 after closing them in protest at a US air raid that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

“Supplying (NATO troops) with goods using Pakistani routes is like arming the enemy,” Qazi Hussain Ahmad, a senior JI member told the gathering.

“NATO are killing innocent Muslims in Afghanistan.”

A JI spokesman said he expected 50,000 protesters at Tuesday’s march.

The protest came after thousands of Pakistani Islamists at the weekend rallied at the southwestern border post of Chaman, vowing to stop NATO supplies into Afghanistan.

The protesters had embarked on a 120-kilometer journey from the southwestern city of Quetta on Saturday and reached the town of Chaman late Sunday where they held the rally.

The protesters shouted “Death to America,” “No to NATO supply” and “Long Live Mullah Omar” in reference to the Afghan Taliban leader in hiding.

On Sunday, Maulana Samiul Haq, chairman of the Defence of Pakistan group which is a coalition of organizations protesting the reopening of NATO supply routes, said the movement would continue its protests until the convoys stop.

NATO traffic across the border has so far been minimal, with only a few trucks having crossed into Afghanistan since the routes were reopened.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pakistanis protest reopening of NATO supply lines

Germany: Environment minister voices doubts about energy reforms

DW | July 16, 2012

Germany’s environment minister has admitted that the government faces an uphill climb if it is to achieve the targets it has set out for reducing carbon emissions while simultaneously stopping nuclear energy production.

Germany’s environment minister raised eyebrows on Sunday by conceding that some of the targets that are part of the government’s policy of phasing out the use of nuclear energy, while at the same time cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, may not be achievable.

“It has to be questioned whether we’ll really succeed in reducing electricity use by 10 per cent by 2020,” Peter Altmaier said in an interview with the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

“If we are going to somehow achieve this, it will take tremendous effort, ” he said.

Altmaier also admitted that the government had a long way to go in efforts to convince a large number of Germans to switch from vehicles powered by internal combustion engines to electric cars.

There may be “significantly fewer” electric cars on the road by 2020 than the government had previously assumed, the minister said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right coalition had previously said that it was on track to put a million electric cars on the road by 2020. Official figures put that number at just over 4,500 at the start of 2012.

Rising consumer costs a possibility

Altmaier also warned of the danger of rising energy costs for consumers.

“If we aren’t careful, the energy reforms could develop into a social problem,” he said, admitting that in efforts to replace nuclear energy with renewables, “the question of energy affordability had been overlooked.”

He also said that turning off a number of nuclear plants meant that power shortages could not be ruled out in the coming winter.

“Last winter there were a few critical moments, which we have learned from,” he said, adding that preparations were underway to ensure this doesn’t happened again. … Full article

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Nuclear Power | , , , , , | Comments Off on Germany: Environment minister voices doubts about energy reforms

Democracy and slaughter in Myanmar: Gold Rush overrides Human Rights

By Ramzy Baroud | Press TV | July 16, 2012

The widespread killings of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar – have received only passing and dispassionate coverage in most media. What they actually warrant is widespread outrage and decisive efforts to bring further human rights abuses to an immediate halt.

“Burmese helicopter set fire to three boats carrying nearly 50 Muslim Rohingyas fleeing sectarian violence in western Burma in an attack that is believed to have killed everyone on board,” reported Radio Free Europe on July 12.

Why would anyone take such fatal risks? Refugees are attempting to escape imminent death, torture or arrest at the hands of the Ethnic Buddhist Rakhine majority, which has the full support of the Myanmar government.

The relatively little media interest in Myanmar’s ‘ethnic clashes’ is by no means an indication of the significance of the story. The recent flaring of violence followed the raping and killing of a Rhakine woman on May 28, allegedly by three Rohingya men. The incident ushered a rare movement of unity between many sectors of Myanmar society, including the government, security forces and so-called pro-democracy activists and groups. The first order of business was the beating to death of ten innocent Muslims. The victims, who were dragged out of a bus and attacked by a mob of 300 strong Buddhist Rhakine, were not even Rohingyas, according to the Bangkok Post (June 22). Not all Muslims in Myanmar are from the Rohingya ethnic group. Some are descendants of Indian immigrants, some have Chinese ancestry, and some even have early Arab and Persian origins. Myanmar is a country with a population of an estimated 60 million, only 4 percent of whom are Muslim.

Regardless of numbers, the abuses are widespread and rioters are facing little or no repercussions for their actions. “The Rohingyas…face some of the worst discrimination in the world,” reported Reuters on July 4, citing rights groups. UK-based Equal Rights Trust indicated that the recent violence is not merely due to ethnic clashes, but actually involves active government participation. “From June 16 onwards, the military became more actively involved in committing acts of violence and other human rights abuses against the Rohingya including killings and mass-scale arrests of Rohingya men and boys in North Rakhine State.”

The ‘pro-democracy’ Myanmar’s groups and individuals celebrated by Western governments for objecting to the country’s military junta are also taking part in the war against minorities. Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald on July 8, Hanna Hindstrom reported that one pro-democracy group stated on Twitter that “[t]he so-called Rohingya are liars,” while another social media user said, “We must kill all the kalar.” Kalar is a racist slur applied to dark-skinned people from the Indian subcontinent

Politically, Myanmar has a poor reputation. A protracted civil war has ravaged the country shortly after its independence from Britain in 1948. The colonial era was exceptionally destructive as the country was used as a battleground for great powers. Many Myanmar people were slaughtered in a situation that was not of their making. As foreign powers divided the country according to their own purposes, an ensuing civil war was almost predictable. It supposedly ended when a military junta took over from 1962 to 2011, but many of the underlying problems remained unresolved.

Per western media coverage, Myanmar is defined by a few ‘iconic’ individuals’ quest for democracy, notwithstanding opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Since an election last year brought a civilian government to power, we have been led to believe that a happy ending is now in the making. “Burma opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi made her historic parliamentary debut on Monday (July 9), marking a new phase in her near quarter century struggle to bring democracy to her army-dominated homeland,” reported the British Telegraph.

But aside from mere ‘concerns’ over the ethnic violence, Aung San Suu Kyi is staying on the fence – as if the slaughter of the country’s ‘dark-skinned Indians’ is not as urgent as having a parliamentary representation for her party, the National League for Democracy in Myanmar. Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu called on ‘The Lady’ to do something, anything. “As a Nobel Peace Laureate, we are confident that the first step of your journey towards ensuring peace in the world would start from your own doorstep and that you would play a positive role in bringing an end to the violence that has afflicted Arakan State,” he wrote. However, “Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy continues to carefully sidestep the hot-button issue,” according to Foreign Policy.

The violent targeting of Burmese minorities arrived at an interesting time for the US and Britain. Their pro-democracy campaign was largely called off when the junta agreed to provide semi-democratic reforms. Eager to offset the near exclusive Chinese influence over the Myanmar economy, Western companies jumped into Myanmar as if one of the most oppressive regimes in the world was suddenly resurrected into an oasis for democracy.

“The gold rush for Burma has begun,” wrote Alex Spillius in the British Guardian. It was ushered in by US President Barak Obama’s recent lifting of the ban on American investment in the country. Britain immediately followed suit, as a UK trade office was hurriedly opened in Rangoon on July 11. “Its aim is to forge links with one of the last unexploited markets in Asia, a country blessed by ample resources of hydro-carbons, minerals, gems and timber, not to mention a cheap labour force, which thanks to years of isolation and sanctions is near virgin territory for foreign investors.” Since US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made her ‘historic’ visit to Myanmar in December 2011, a recurring media theme has been ‘Myanmar riches’ and the ‘race for Myanmar’. Little else is being discussed, and certainly not minority rights.

Recently, Clinton held a meeting with Myanmar’s President Thein Sein, who is now being branded as another success story for US diplomacy. On the agenda are US concerns regarding the “lack of transparency in Myanmar’s investment environment and the military’s role in the economy” (CNN, July 12). Thein Sein, however, is guilty of much greater sins, for he is providing a dangerous political discourse that could possibly lead to more killings, or even genocide. The ‘reformist’ president told the UN that “refugee camps or deportation is the solution for nearly a million Rohingya Muslims,” according to ABC Australia. He offered to send the Rohingyas away “if any third country would accept them.”

The Rohingyas are currently undergoing one of the most violent episodes of their history, and their suffering is one of the most pressing issues anywhere in the world. Yet their plight is suspiciously absent from regional and international priorities, or is undercut by giddiness over the country’s “ample resources of hydro-carbons, minerals, gems and timber.”

Meanwhile, the stateless and defenseless Rohingyas continue to suffer and die. Those lucky to make it to Bangladesh are being turned back. Aside from few courageous journalists – indifferent to the country’s promise for ‘democracy’ and other fables – most are simply looking the other way. This tragic attitude must immediately change if human rights matter in the least.

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bahrainis’ New Demand: USA Stop Arming Killers

By Yusuf Fernandez | Al-Manar | July 16, 2012

On July 7, Bahraini people took to the streets in several towns and villages to stage anti-government rallies and express their anger at the US for meddling with their country´s internal affairs. Bahrain hosts the US Fifth Fleet, which patrols the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea, and is among the Persian Gulf countries that receive weapons and military systems from the United States.

For more than one year now, demonstrations have been taking place day after day across Bahrain against the brutal regime of King Hamad Al-Khalifa. Dozens of protesters have been killed since the revolution started. The Bahraini police and army killed at least thirty people during the mass demonstrations of this year to demand political and social rights.

Over 1,000 people have been detained and many of them have been tortured. Thousands of public sector workers have been fired for allegedly taking part in protests against the regime.

Recently, a military tribunal in Manama sentenced twenty doctors to prison terms of up to 15 years. The doctors faced shameful charges, including hiding weapons in hospitals, “occupying a hospital,” and acting to overthrow the regime. No credible evidence against the doctors was presented in the court and they suffered abuse and torture in prison and were denied full access to their lawyers.

US weapons for Bahrain

The US has been for a long time the major supplier of weapons to the Bahraini regime. A TomDispatch analysis of the Pentagon documents showed that “since the 1990s, the United States has transferred large quantities of military material, ranging from trucks and aircraft to machine-gun parts and millions of rounds of live ammunition, to Bahrain´s security forces”.

According to data from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the US has sent Bahrain dozens of tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and helicopter gunships. The US has also supplied the Bahrain Army with thousands of .38 caliber pistols and millions of rounds of ammunition, including .50 caliber ammunition for sniper rifles, machine guns etc. In 2010, Washington sold over $200 million worth of weapons to Bahrain, up from $88 million in 2009.

Despite all the above-mentioned violations of human rights, the US Defense Department recently agreed to provide the Bahraini government with another $53 million worth of weapons, the first provision since the revolution began. The resumption of military sales took place shortly after a visit to Washington by Bahrain Crown Prince Salman Hamid al-Khalifa. There, he met Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

According to’s The Cable Blog, the US-Bahraini arms deal includes six harbor patrol boats, communications equipment for Bahrain’s US-made air-defense system, ground-based radars, air-to-air-missile systems, Seahawk helicopters, parts for F-16 fighter engines, Cobra helicopters, and night-vision equipment.

The agreement also includes 44 armored vehicles of the type used to crush the demonstrations. It is noteworthy to point out that US weapons have been used by Bahraini security forces for cracking down on pro-democracy protesters since last year.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D – VT) has criticized the resumption of arms to Bahrain. Although he claimed to be pleased because no tear gas will be included in this sale, Leahy thinks that the deal still sends “the wrong message.” Brian Dooley, director of the Washington-based charity Human Rights First, also condemned the arms sale as a “reward” for the Bahraini dictatorial regime.

No matter how the US Administration tries to sell its decision, it will be seen as a clear support for the Al-Khalifa dictatorship. “‘You really should be nicer to the people you are oppressing; oh, by the way, here are the weapons you were expecting’ is what Manama will hear from Washington”, complained Mohammed al-Maskati, a Bahraini human rights activist: “It is a direct message that we support the authorities and we don’t support democracy in Bahrain, we don’t support protestors in Bahrain.”

According to a recent report by Julian Barnes and Adam Entous in the Wall Street Journal, the US has positioned itself against democracy in Bahrain. “Starting with Bahrain, the administration has moved a few notches toward emphasizing stability over majority rule,” according to a US official quoted by the Journal. “Everybody realized that Bahrain was just too important to fail.” This means that the US Administration is directly working against democracy and freedom in Bahrain.

In order to cover this reality, American officials have been using a rhetorical and hypocritical language. They have often called for “restraint” on both sides, Bahraini pro-democracy protesters and the dictatorial regime which is killing Bahraini people. A recent State Department statement praised Bahrain for its “reforms” and urged more. It also condemned the civilian protesters for their “violence” against police and demanded that they “refrain from incitement.”

The deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Manama, Stephanie Williams, has visited the injured Bahraini security forces, who took part in the crackdown on Bahraini protesters. The main opposition group in Bahrain, Al Wefaq, issued a statement, censuring the visit claiming that it “indicates that Washington ignores the suppression campaign led by the Bahraini government against peaceful popular protests”.

Therefore, Bahraini people now consider that the US government is partly responsible for the tyranny under which people have been suffering for a very long time. This will likely produce anger and hatred toward the United States. Echoing this reality, a recent New York Times article was titled: “As Hopes for Reform Fade in Bahrain, Protestors Turn Anger on United States.”

According to the article, “For months, the protests have aimed at the ruling monarchy, but recently they have focused on a new target…. the young protestors added a new demand, written on a placard in English, so the Americans might see: “USA Stop arming the killers.”

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Comments Off on Bahrainis’ New Demand: USA Stop Arming Killers