Aletho News


Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are not quite progressive…

thewordsmithcollection | February 15, 2015

Clockwise from top left: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders

ISRAEL’S OPERATION Protective Edge has killed almost 2,000 people in Gaza, the vast majority of them civilians, and laid waste to schools, hospitals, mosques and factories.

The savagery of the slaughter was met by growing international opposition to Israel and solidarity with Palestine. Even in the U.S., recent opinion polls showed a growing minority of Americans, including Jews, rejecting Israel’s war on Gaza. That minority includes a strong majority of people aged 18 to 29.

This global shift in opinion has been underway for some years. People are being swayed to support Palestine by Israel’s apartheid-like behavior:  building an illegal separation wall in the West Bank, turning Gaza into an open-air concentration camp and conducting regular military assaults on the occupied territories.

Thanks to the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign–called for by Palestinians and mobilized by solidarity activists around the world–more and more people understand the reality that Israel is an apartheid state, and the cause of Palestinian liberation is simple justice.

But one political institution in the U.S. has stood completely unswayed by this evolving consciousness of the oppression of the Palestinians by Israel, with the support of its main international sponsor, the U.S. government.

That institution is the Democratic Party–including its liberal wing. Like their counterparts in the two-party U.S. political system, the Republicans, the Democrats never hesitated during the massacres in Gaza to reaffirm their unwavering support for Israel’s colonial project…

…The behavior of liberal Democrats during Operation Protective Edge has proved the rule. The darlings of progressive activists, from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (a nominal independent who campaigns for Democrats and caucuses with them in the Senate), have made their commitment to Zionism clear. In the Senate vote on the pro-Israel resolution, none of the liberal stalwarts like Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders, made a peep in opposition. The same was true in the House.

Warren’s position shocked her progressive supporters, who either had ignored or didn’t know about her support of Israel. Despite her Native American roots, she sides not with Palestine’s indigenous population, but with Israeli colonization. On her Senate campaign website, for example, she said:

As a United States Senator, I will work to ensure Israel’s security and success. I believe Israel must maintain a qualitative military edge and defensible borders. The United States must continue to ensure that Israel can defend itself from terrorist organizations and hostile states, including Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and others.

The Democrats’ other new liberal lion, Bill de Blasio, outdoes Warren in Zionist proclamations. During his election campaign, De Blasio promised, “City Hall will always be open to AIPAC.” In a radio interview, he boasted that he opposed the “very, very wrongheaded movement to boycott, and disinvest from Israel. I’ve led the charge against that, whether you’re talking about the Park Slope Food Co-op or at Brooklyn College, I’ve stood against that divestment movement.” During the current war on Gaza, he announced, “I consider it my responsibility to stand up for Israel.”

Just as disappointing has been the traditionally progressive Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Bruce Dixon of the Black Agenda Report reported on how CBC members in the House and Senate betrayed Palestine in AIPAC-backed resolutions. As Dixon wrote:

Not a single member of the CBC, despite their much heralded brand of standing for civil rights and against apartheid here and around the world, bothered to publicly question the racist ethnocracy that is the Israeli state. After signing the blank check with the rest of their colleagues, CBC members Conyers (MI), Lee (CA), Johnson (GA) and Ellison (MN) tried to cover their shame with a letter to Secretary of State Kerry urging a cease-fire, something which Kerry claims to have been doing anyway.

The self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders has done little better. As left-wing Vermont writer Ron Jacobs noted, Senator Sanders has voted for “grants and loans to Israel, even after Israel bombed Gaza, attacked the Mavi Marmara and supported illegal settlements in the West Bank.” When asked by reporters for his view of the current war on Gaza, Sanders evaded the question, stating, “That’s not where my mind is right now.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Despite his own claims, Sanders has not been an antiwar leader. Ever since he won election to the House, he has taken either equivocal positions on U.S. wars or outright supported them. His hawkish positions — especially his decision to support Bill Clinton’s 1999 Kosovo War — drove one of his key advisers, Jeremy Brecher, to resign from his staff. Brecher wrote in his resignation letter, “Is there a moral limit to the military violence you are willing to participate in or support?”

So outraged were peace activists over Sanders’ support of the Kosovo War that they occupied his office in 1999. Sanders had them arrested. Under the Bush regime, Sanders’ militarism has only grown worse. While he called for alternative approaches to the war on Afghanistan, he failed to join the sole Democrat, Barbara Lee, to vote against Congress’ resolution that gave George Bush a blank check to launch war on any country he deemed connected to the September 11 attacks.

Ever since, he has voted for appropriations bills to fund the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, despite their horrific toll on the occupied peoples as well as U.S. soldiers.

Sanders has been critical of the war on Iraq, but he has supported pro-war measures — such as a March 21, 2003, resolution stating, “Congress expresses the unequivocal support and appreciation of the nation to the President as Commander-in-Chief for his firm leadership and decisive action in the conduct of military operations in Iraq as part of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism.” … Full article

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

The Age of Imperial Wars

From Regional War, “Regime Change” to Global Warfare


By Prof. James Petras | Global Research | August 22, 2015

2015 has become a year of living dangerously.

Wars are spreading across the globe.

Wars are escalating as new countries are bombed and the old are ravaged with ever greater intensity.

Countries, where relatively peaceful changes had taken place through recent elections, are now on the verge of civil wars.

These are wars without victors, but plenty of losers; wars that don’t end; wars where imperial occupations are faced with prolonged resistance.

There are never-ending torrents of war refugees flooding across borders. Desperate people are detained, degraded and criminalized for being the survivors and victims of imperial invasions.

Now major nuclear powers face off in Europe and Asia: NATO versus Russia, US-Japan versus China. Will these streams of blood and wars converge into one radiated wilderness drained of its precious life blood?

Living Dangerously: The Rising Tide of Violent Conflicts

There is no question that wars and military threats have replaced diplomacy, negotiations and democratic elections as the principal means of resolving political conflicts. Throughout the present year (2015) wars have spread across borders and escalated in intensity.

The NATO allies, US, Turkey and the EU have openly attacked Syria with air strikes and ground troops. There are plans to occupy the northern sector of that ravaged country, creating what the Erdogan regime dubs a ‘buffer zone’ cleansed of its people and villages.

Under the pretext of ‘fighting ISIS’, the Turkish government is bombing Kurds (civilians and resistance fighters) and their Syrian allies. On Syria’s southern border, US Special Forces have accelerated and expanded operations from their bases in Jordan on behalf of the mercenary terrorists – funded by the monarchist Gulf States.

Over 4 million Syrians have fled their homes as refugees and over 200,000 have been killed since the US-EU-Turkey-Saudi-sponsored war against the secular Syrian government was launched four years ago.

Dozens of terrorist, mercenary and sectarian groups have carved up Syria into rival fiefdoms, pillaged its economic and cultural resources and reduced the economy by over ninety percent.

The US-EU-Turkish military intervention extends the war into Iraq, Lebanon and…. Turkey – attacking secular governments, ethnic minority groups and secular civil society.

The feudal, monarchist Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have invaded Yemen with tanks, launching air strikes against a country without any air defenses. Major cities and towns are devastated. Saudi ground troops and armored carriers are killing and wounding thousands – mostly civilians.  The brutal Saudi air and sea blockade of Yemen’s ports have led to a humanitarian crisis, as ten million Yemenis face starvation deliberately imposed by a grotesque and obscenely rich monarchy.

The Yemeni resistance fighters, driven out of the major cities, are preparing for prolonged guerrilla warfare against the Saudi monsters and their puppets. Their resistance has already spread across the frontiers of the absolutist Saudi dictatorship.

The brutal Israeli occupation troops, in collaboration with armed ‘settler’ colonists, have accelerated their violent seizure of Palestinian lands. They have stepped up the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, Bedouins, Druze and Christian inhabitants replacing their communities with racist ‘Jews-only’ colonial settlements.

Daily assaults against the huge ‘concentration camps’ of Gaza accompany an armed blockade of land, air and water, preventing the reconstruction of the tens of thousands of homes, schools, hospital, factories and infrastructure, destroyed by last year’s Israeli blitzkrieg.

Israel’s continued annexation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian territory precludes any diplomatic process; colonial wars have been and continue to be Israel’s policy of choice in dealing with its Arab neighbors and captive populations.

Africa’s wars, resulting from earlier US-EU interventions, continue to ravage-the Continent. Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Libya are riven by bloody conflicts between US-EU backed regimes and armed Islamic and nationalist resistance movements.

Throughout North and Sub-Sahara Africa, US-EU backed regimes have provoked armed upheavals in Libya, Nigeria (Boko Harem), Egypt (ISIS, Moslem Brotherhood et al), Chad, Niger, South Sudan, Somalia and elsewhere.

Imperial client Egyptian and Ethiopian dictators rule with iron fists – financed and armed by their EU and US sponsors.

Imperial wars rage throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Hundreds of experienced Baathist Iraqi military officers, who had been expelled or jailed and tortured by the US Occupation army, have now made common cause with Islamist fighters to form ISIS and effectively occupy a third of Iraq and a strategic swath of Syria.

There are daily bombings in Baghdad undermining its US client. Strategic advances by ISIS are forcing the US to resume and escalate its direct combat role

The US-Baghdad retreat and the defeat of the US-trained Iraqi military in the face of the Baathist-Islamist offensive is the opening salvo of a long-term, large-scale war in Iraq and Syria.  The Turkish air-war against the Kurds in Iraq will escalate the war in Northern Iraq and extend it into southeast Turkey.

Closer to ‘home’, the EU-US-backed coup (‘regime change’) in Kiev and the attempt to impose dictatorial-pro-West oligarchic rule in Ukraine have detonated a prolonged civil-national war devastating the country and pitting NATO’s proxies against Russian-backed allies in the Donbas.

US, England, Poland and other NATO powers are deeply committed to pushing war right up to Russia’s borders.

There is a new Cold War, with the imposition of wide-ranging US-EU economic sanctions against Russia and the organizing of major NATO military exercises on Russia’s doorsteps.  It is no surprise that these provocations are met with a major counter-response – the Russian military build-up. The NATO power grab in Ukraine, which first led to a local ethnic war, now escalates to a global confrontation and may move toward a nuclear confrontation as Russia absorbs hundreds of thousands of refugees from the slaughter in Ukraine.

The US puppet regime in Afghanistan has faced a major advance of the Taliban in all regions, including the capital, Kabul.

The Afghan war is intensifying and the US-backed Kabul regime is in retreat. US troops can scarcely advance beyond their bunkers.

As the Taliban military advances, its leaders demand total surrender of the Kabul puppets and the withdrawal of US troops. The US response will be a prolonged escalation of war.

Pakistan, bristling with US arms, faces a major conflict along its borders with India and permanent war in its semi-autonomous Northwest frontier states with Islamist and ethnic Pashtu guerrilla movements backed by mass regional political parties. These parties exercise de facto control over the Northwest region providing sanctuary and arms for Taliban militants operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Armed ethno-religious conflicts persist in western China, Myanmar and northern India. There are large-scale popular resistance movements in the militant northeast Thailand opposed to the current military-monarchist dictatorship in Bangkok.

In the 21st century, in South and Southeast Asia, as in the rest of the world, war and armed conflicts have become central in resolving ethnic, social, tribal and regional differences with central states: diplomacy and democratic elections have been rendered obsolete and inefficient.

Latin America – On the Verge

Burgeoning violent extra-parliamentary right-wing movements, intent on overthrowing or ‘impeaching’ elected center-left Latin American governments face major confrontations with the state and its mass supporters.

In Ecuador, Venezuela and Brazil, US-backed opposition groups are engaged in violent demonstrations, directed toward ousting the elected regimes. In the case of Ecuador, ‘popular sectors’, including some indigenous leaders and sectors of the trade union movement, have called for an ‘uprising’ to oust President Correa.  They seem oblivious of the fact that the hard-right oligarchs who now control key offices in the three principal cities (Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca) will be the real beneficiaries of their ‘uprisings’.

The resurgent Right envisions violent ‘regime change’ as the first step toward ‘wiping the slate clean’ of a decade of social reforms, independent regional organizations and independent foreign policies.

Civil war’ may be too strong a word for the situation in Latin America at this time – but this is the direction which the US-backed opposition is heading. Faced with the mess and difficulty of dislodging incumbent regimes via elections, the US and its local proxies have opted for the choreography of street violence, sabotage, martial law and coups – to be followed by sanitized elections – with US-vetted candidates.

War and violence run rampant through Mexico and most of Central America. A US-backed military coup ousted the popularly elected, independent President Zelaya in Honduras. The ensuing US-proxy regime has murdered and jailed hundreds of pro-democracy dissidents and driven thousands to flee the violence.

The 1990’s US-brokered ‘Peace Accords’ in El Salvador and Guatemala effectively blocked any agrarian reform and income redistribution that might have led to the rebuilding of their civil societies. This has led to over two decades of mass disaffection, the rise of armed ‘gangs’ numbering over 100,000 members and an average of six to ten thousand homicides a year with El Salvador becoming the ‘murder capital of the hemisphere’ on a per capita basis. The annual murder toll under the US-brokered ‘Peace Accords’ now exceeds those killed each year during the civil war.

The real ‘carnage capital’ of the hemisphere is Mexico. Over 100,000 people have been murdered during the decade-long, US-backed ‘war on drugs’ – a war which has become a state-sponsored war on the Mexican people.

The internal war has allowed the Mexican government to privatize and sell the crown jewels of the national economy – the petroleum industry. While thousands of Mexicans are terrorized and slaughtered, the US and EU oil companies are curiously shielded from the drug lords. The same Mexican government, its police, officials and military, who collaborate with the drug lords in dividing up the billions of drug dollars, protect foreign oil companies and their executives. After all, narco-dollars are laundered by banks in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and London to help fuel the speculation!

From Regional to Nuclear Wars

Regional and local wars spread under the shadow of a looming world war. The US moves its arms, planes, bases and operations to the Russian and Chinese borders.

Never have so many US troops and war planes been placed in so many strategic locations, often less than an hour drive from major Russian cities.

Not even during the height of the Cold War, did the US impose so many economic sanctions against Russian enterprises.

In Asia, Washington is organizing major trade, military and diplomatic treaties designed to exclude and undermine China’s growth as a trade competitor. It is engaged in provocative activities comparable to the boycott and blockade of Japan which led to the Second World War in Asia.

Open ‘warfare by proxy’ in Ukraine is perhaps the first salvo of the Third World War in Europe. The US-EU-sponsored coup in Kiev has led to the annexation of Western Ukraine. In response to the threat of violence toward the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea and the loss of its strategic naval base on the Black Sea, Russia annexed Crimea.

In the lead-up to the Second World War, Germany annexed Austria. In a similar manner the US-EU installed a puppet regime in Kiev by violent putsch as its own initial steps toward major power grabs in Central Asia. The military build-up includes the placement of major, forward offensive military bases in Poland.

Warsaw’s newly elected hard-right regime of President Andrzej Duda has demanded that Poland become NATO’s central military base of operation and the front line in a war against Russia.

Wars and More Wars and the Never-ending Torrents of Refugees

The US and EU imperial wars have devastated the lives and livelihoods of scores of millions of people in South Asia, North and Sub-Sahara Africa, Central America, Mexico, the Balkans and now Ukraine.

Four million Syrian refugees have joined millions of Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi, Yemeni, Somali, Libyan, Palestinian and Sudanese refugees fleeing US-EU bombs, drones and proxy mercenaries ravaging their countries.

Millions of war refugees escape toward safety in Western Europe, joining the millions of economic refugees who have fled free market destitution in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, the Balkans and other EU satellites.

Panic among the civilian population of Western Europe sets in as hundreds of thousands cross the Mediterranean, the Aegean and the Balkans.

Droves of refugees perish each day. Tens of thousands crowd detention centers. Local labor markets are saturated. Social services are overwhelmed.

The US builds walls and detention camps for the millions trying to escape the harsh consequences of imperial-centered free markets in Mexico, narco-terror and the fraudulent ‘peace accord’-induced violence in Central America.

As Western wars advance, the desperate refugees multiply. The poor and destitute clamber at the gates of the imperial heartland crying: ‘Your bombs and your destruction of our homelands have driven us here, now you must deal with us in your homeland’.

Fomenting class war between the refugees and ‘natives’ of the imperial West – may not be on the agenda . . . for now, but the future for ‘civil’ society in Europe and the US is bleak.

Meanwhile, more and even bigger wars are on the horizon and additional millions of civilians will be uprooted and face the choice of starving, fleeing with their families or fighting the empire. The ranks of seasoned and infuriated resistance fighters are swelling in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine and elsewhere.

The US and EU are becoming armed fortresses. US police deal with the marginalized citizenry as an occupying army, assaulting African-Americans, immigrants and dissidents – while looting poor communities . . . and protecting the rich…


War is everywhere and expanding: No continent or region, big or small, is free from the contagion of war.

Imperial wars have spawn local wars . . . igniting mass flights in a never-ending cycle. There are no real diplomatic success stories! There are no enduring, viable peace accords!

Some pundits may protest this analysis: They point to the recent US – Cuba rapprochement as a ‘success’.  They conveniently forget that the US is still subverting Cuba’s biggest trading partner, Venezuela; that Washington’s major regional proxies are demanding regime change among Cuba’s allies in Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia and that Washington is increasingly threatening Cuba’s alternative markets in Russia and China. The vision of the US flag flapping in the breeze outside its embassy in Havana does little to cover Washington’s iron fist threatening Cuba’s allies.

Others cite the US – Iran peace accord as a major ‘success’. They ignore that the US is backing the bloody Saudi invasion of neighboring Yemen and the massacre of Shiite communities; that the US has provided Israel with a road map detailing Iran’s entire defense system and that the US [Israel] and EU are bombing Iran’s Syrian ally without mercy.

As for the US – Cuba and Iranian agreements– are they enduring and strategic or just tactical imperial moves preparing for even greater assaults?

The war epidemic is not receding.

War refugees are still fleeing; they have no homes or communities left.

Disorder and destruction are increasing, not decreasing; there is no rebuilding the shattered societies, not in Gaza, not in Fallujah, not in the Donbas, not in Guerrero, not in Aleppo.

Europe feels the tremors of a major conflagration.

Americans still believe that the two oceans will protect them. They are told that placing NATO missiles on Russia’s borders and stationing warships off China’s shores and building electrified walls and laying barbed wire along the Rio Grande will protect them. Such is their faith in their political leaders and propagandists.

What a packet of lies! Inter-continental missiles can ‘rain down’ on New York, Washington and Los Angeles.

It is time to wake up!

It is time to stop the US – EU headlong race to World War III!

Where to start? Libya has been irrevocably destroyed; it is too late there! Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are aflame. We are being plunged deeper into war while being told we are withdrawing! Ukraine sucks in more guns and more troops!

Can we really have peace with Iran if we cannot control our own government as it dances to the Israelis tune? And Israel insists on war – our waging war for them! As the Israeli war criminal General and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon once told some worried American Zionists: “Trouble with the US? We lead them by the nose…!” 

Just look at the terrified families fleeing carnage in the Middle East or Mexico.

What is to be done?

When will we cut our losses and shake off the bonds of these war makers – foreign and domestic?

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Human Rights” in the Arab World: the Instruments of War, a Test Case for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

By Lana Habash | CounterPunch | August 21, 2015

Sometimes I love Republicans. They lay bare with such clarity what underlies and drives US foreign policy– the bottom line strategic interests without the pretense that more adept politicians use to justify US military aggression: the US government’s “concerns” about “human rights” for instance.

Take Syria.

John McCain laid it all out in his interview on CNN’s Situation Room in 2013:

“Look, the Middle East is about to erupt. This is turning into a regional conflict: Lebanon is destabilized, Jordan can’t — the king of Jordan can’t last, the conflict is spreading throughout the region, Hezbollah is all in. This is becoming a Sunni-Shia conflict . . . and it’s an unfair fight!” While arguing for more US military intervention in Syria, he goes on to say, “It’s a great blow to Iran — the greatest in twenty-five years, and they’re cut off from Hezbollah, which would mean that Hezbollah would die on the vine.”

It is strange to hear American politicians wring their hands about the instability of the Jordanian monarchy and its regime while pontificating about US intentions to “bring democracy to the Middle East.”

Over the past two decades, we have witnessed the increasing use of the human rights discourse by the United States as justification for US military aggression. In some cases, these human rights abuses (as in the case of Iraq) proved nothing more than Department of Defense propaganda that was later proved false. More recently, the Assad regime in Syria has been accused of such violations as torture and arbitrary arrest and detention, though the US hasn’t been above using these  alleged services themselves. (US former CIA agent Robert Baer once said of US held prisoners, “If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria.”)  The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has echoed these allegations about the Syrian regime. These alleged human rights abuses, the same ones that Jordan continues to perpetrate against its own citizens with impunity,  have been used as justification for US military intervention in Syria, including the arming and training of rebel forces in Jordan by US troops, which has resulted in the deaths of at least 220,000 people and over 3 million refugees. These interventions have done nothing to advance the human rights of the Syrian people, but have achieved some strategic goals for the US and Israel: Hezbollah, the only player that poses a serious threat to American and Israeli strategic interests regionally, is now embroiled in a Syrian civil war, and as McCain stated, a “great blow” has been served to both Iran and Hezbollah.

Last year, at his confirmation as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights by the General Assembly, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein spoke of his commitment to push forward human rights on the Asian continent. It has been hard to take seriously this pronouncement when the High Commissioner has used his office to support concrete measures that, not coincidentally, mesh with US strategic interests, while he remains silent about the human rights abuses in his own country, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Jordan is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, yet has one of the most abysmal human rights records in the world. The recent case of Amer Jubran reveals the entire spectrum of repression to which Jordanians are subjected.

Amer Jubran is an internationally known Palestinian activist, speaker and writer on the rights of Palestinians and against US and Israeli policies in the Arab world. He has also distributed information about US involvement in destabilizing Syria.

Jubran was arrested in Jordan on May 5, 2014, when 20 men in black military uniforms broke into his home in the middle of the night. He was held incommunicado by Jordan’s secret police, the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) for 2 months at an undisclosed location, in violation of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. A petition against arbitrary detention was filed on his behalf with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Nothing came of this.

Jubran was finally charged in August, 2014 under a new law that makes “harming the relationship with a foreign government” a crime of “terrorism.” The wording of this law is so vague that it criminalizes a broad range of political activities including journalism, in violation of Article 19 of the ICCPR, guaranteeing freedom of opinion and expression.

This same law was enacted one month after Amer Jubran’s arrest, also constituting a violation of Article 15 of the ICCPR, which stipulates, “No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offense … which did not constitute a criminal offense…at the time when it was committed.”

Jubran was tried before Jordan’s State Security Court (SSC), a military tribunal that fails to meet even minimum standards of judicial independence, violating Article 14 of the ICCPR, which guarantees the right to a fair trial by a  “competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law.” Jubran’s defense team effectively proved the “terrorism” charges against him false, but the verdict of the SSC was reached without regard for evidence. The only evidence presented in Jubran’s trial was the coerced testimony of other defendants, also arrested in May, 2014, subjected to interrogation, and all of whom received reduced sentences of two to three years. Robert Baer also said: “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan.” While Jubran was being detained incommunicado and “interrogated” he was threatened not only with imprisonment, but with being disappeared when he refused to infiltrate Hezbollah and act as an informant for the GID. He was recently sentenced to ten years of hard labor by Jordan’s State Security Court (see statement by Amer Jubran on his sentencing.)

The human rights abuses perpetrated against Amer Jubran are the rule in Jordan, rather than the exception. Jordan’s long history of the use of arbitrary detention and torture have been well documented by the UN. In 2013, the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a report on Jordan, detailing a series of cases like that of Jubran in which basic political freedoms had been trampled. The report had a special section on the State Security Court:

“The Committee against Torture and the Human Rights Committee have repeatedly recommended that Jordan abolish special courts such as the State Security Court… The Committee reiterates its 1994 recommendation that the State party consider abolishing the State Security Court.” (Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, November 2013).

What has the UN High Commissioner done thus far to respond to these recommendations and push forward the issue of human rights in his own country? When asked during a press conference as to whether it was illegal to criticize the king in the press  in Jordan, the Human Rights Chief replied, “Essentially, we believe we are still a family,”  while plugging the king’s new book (USA Today August 13, 2014). The UN High Commissioner failed to mention Jordan’s long history of criminalizing speech and imprisoning journalists like Jamal Ayyoub.

Interestingly, Jubran has written nothing about the Jordanian regime. His writing has consistently concerned itself with the policies of the US and Israel in the region. This speaks to the new law of “harming relationships with foreign governments.” Mr. Jubran has stated that he was told directly by his GID interrogators that any decision made about him would involve “our American and Israeli friends.”

Recent revelations about NSA cooperation with Jordanian intelligence agencies underline the central role Jordan plays in the US and Israeli “security” regime for the region. Spying on Palestinians and providing intelligence about “high security targets” is perhaps the least of the services Jordan provides. The abuses of fundamental freedoms in Jordan are consistently carried out, as in Amer Jubran’s case, in the interests of protecting US and Israeli power.

Institutions like the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights are supposed to exist to guarantee the protection of human and political rights globally. The real test of the UN High Commissioner’s commitment to push forward the issue of human rights in Asia must begin in his home country of Jordan and will involve a confrontation not only with that regime, but with the nation states calling the shots. Will the UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein use the powers of his office to advocate for human rights, when those powers come in conflict with the US, Israel, and their regional allies? If not,  then the term “human rights” has become nothing more than Orwellian doublespeak, and  the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is just one more weapon in the military arsenal of US regional dominance.

More details about the case of Amer Jubran can be found at

Lana Habash is a Palestinian physician living in Boston, MA. She can be reached at

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Egyptian prisoner dies, 3rd in 48 hours


A file photo of Ahmed Hamed, an Egyptian political prisoner who died while in custody on August 21, 2015.
Press TV – August 22, 2015

Another Egyptian political prisoner has died while in custody, the third death in 48 hours and the 13th of the month of August.

Thirty-seven-year-old Ahmed Hamed, father of three children, was pronounced dead on Friday evening in a police station in the city of Faiyum, 100 kilometers southwest of the Egyptian capital Cairo.

Hamed, a supporter of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, lost his life just four days after being “kidnapped” by security forces in civilian clothes from the premises of his residence in Faiyum.

According to Hamed’s family and human rights activists in the city, he died of torture. No further details on his death have been released yet.

This is the third similar case in just 48 hours in Egypt. A 40-year-old man passed away in custody on Wednesday in a hospital in Matariya district in northeastern Cairo. He was detained 15 days before his death on charges of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Human rights activists in the Egyptian capital had said the man was only transferred to hospital when he was already in a very critical condition also due to torture.

Also on Wednesday, a 72-year-old inmate, serving a three-year prison term on similar charges, died in the Borg El Arab prison in Egypt’s city of Alexandria in the north.

The victim, who was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure, lost his life due to purported medical negligence upon his return from a court session a day earlier, where he had appeared in a wheelchair.

At least 13 political detainees are now known to have lost their lives inside detention facilities in August alone.

Human rights activists emphasize that “deliberate and systematic medical negligence” on the part of prison authorities, torture, overcrowded prisons, and overall “unhealthy and inhumane” conditions imposed on more than 40,000 political prisoners in Egypt’s detention facilities are the causes behind the deaths.

Nearly 300 political prisoners have died in Egyptian detention facilities since then army chief and current President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ousted Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in July 2013 in a coup.

Sisi then launched brutal crackdown on pro-Morsi protesters and brotherhood members, leading to the killing of hundreds and the arrest and imprisonment of tens of thousands, many of whom have been sentenced to death and long prison terms in mass trials.

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Misleading AP tales can’t damage ‘Teflon Iran’

By Sharmine Narwani | RT | August 22, 2015

When a US media outlet broke a misleading story on the Iran nuclear file this week, many in the West found themselves rushing to defend the Iranian position. Only a few months ago, they would have been the ones to leak, seed and spread the disinformation.

The Associated Press (AP) on Wednesday published an “exclusive,” claiming to have seen a draft of a hotly debated ‘confidential agreement’ between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the monitoring organization that safeguards the peaceful nature of member-states’ nuclear programs.

AP’s “unsigned draft” heavily suggests that Iran will, in effect, be investigating its own controversial military facility – Parchin – on behalf of the IAEA.

This made the deal’s critics howl with outrage. US politicians and pundits opposing the Vienna agreement between the UN Security Council P5+1 and Iran, quickly hit the media circuit – with AP’s sketchy details – to cement their case against the historic nuclear deal.

But then what followed was quite instructive on The New Order Of Things.

US administration officials, the director general of the IAEA, former IAEA officials  and a whole host of American media outlets stepped in to make the counter-argument. On behalf of the Iranians, mind you.

Not much was heard from the Islamic Republic itself.

Before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was concluded on July 14, Iran stood alone in what amounted to a global ‘public diplomacy’ onslaught against its peaceful nuclear program. No matter what information, data points, sampling or intrusive inspections Tehran offered up since 2002, it was always one more ‘question mark’ behind its accusers.

I recall a frustrated letter penned by Iran’s permanent representative to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, to the Agency’s board of governors on June 17, 2009, in which he argued:

“After six years of the most robust and intrusive inspection in the history of the Agency, and in spite of the continuous declaration of the Director General (of the IAEA) in over 20 reports to the Board of Governors, that there is no evidence of diversion of nuclear materials and activities to prohibited purposes (i.e., weaponization), the issue is still on the agenda. The simple question is: Why?”

He goes on to allege that the issue of Iran’s nuclear program remains on the table because of the political motivations of a few nations, who would like to turn the Agency into a “watchdog, with maximum intrusiveness in safeguards in order to interfere in the national security… of member states, under the pretext of proliferation.” Read his September 4 letter which outlines Iran’s grievances in detail.

Laptops, dossiers, dodgy foreign scientists, secret nuclear sites… the whole gamut of Hollywood-inspired smoking guns were tossed Iran’s way – usually seeded by the Israelis, Americans, Brits or the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK), a formerly US-designated terrorist group now happily embraced by Congress.

The problem with much of this manufactured evidence on Iran’s nuclear program was that the IAEA would use it as a pretext for more questions – often without allowing the Iranians to review the material in order to “protect” their sources. How could the Iranians respond to something they couldn’t examine?

All this changed when the JCPOA was agreed upon in Vienna in July. But the Americans have spent over a decade creating a cottage industry of flimsy evidence focused on Iranian “nuclear bombs” and “terrorism,” and Washington is now facing the monster it spawned.

An Iranian official explained this to me in Vienna, before the deal: “These are not real issues. This is more a matter of the US trying to prove the credibility of past issues. It was wrong, they know they were wrong, but they have a need to stick to the script.”

Twelve years of American credibility on the Iran ‘story’ is on the line, after all.

Some Facts about the IAEA and Parchin

On the issue of inspections at Parchin – this is a military facility that allegedly, pre-2003, dabbled in something the Americans ‘find suspect.’ In 2005, on two separate occasions, the Islamic Republic “voluntarily provided access” to the IAEA to inspect the site.

Since then, Western sources allege that Parchin has been “swept” and remodeled. So, either way, there is nothing anybody is going to find there 10 years later. Access to the site for a final inspection is more an exercise for Washington to tick a box for public consumption.

Nevertheless, the IAEA is a technically professional agency that has politically served western P5 (US, UK, France) interests for much of the past decade, and so it isn’t going to do this job haphazardly.

The IAEA says it has “hundreds” of confidential agreements with member-states. They manage access to non-standard sites all the time – the difference is only in how the access is customized to suit the needs of both parties. The Agency’s head Yukiya Amano, says:

“I can state that the arrangements (with Iran) are technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices. They do not compromise our safeguards standards in any way. The Road-map between Iran and the IAEA is a very robust agreement, with strict timelines, which will help us to clarify past and present outstanding issues regarding Iran’s nuclear programme.”

Whatever the process, the IAEA will obtain Parchin environmental samples whose origins and sanctity are unimpeachable. IAEA Inspectors could oversee the sampling, GPS-tracking devices could be strapped onto local inspectors – who knows? The Agency is bound by confidentiality to its agreements with members. Those are the rules.

Where’s the media interest in IAEA safeguards outside of the Iran inspections regime? The Agency has, over the years, amassed considerable tools and networks to ensure the quality of its results. These include a sprawling inventory of 45,000 pieces of equipment of 140 different varieties, 20 qualified laboratories worldwide, access to satellite data to supplement physical analysis, and 850 staff members from 95 different countries. Furthermore, the Agency has 182 safeguard agreements in force with member-states, has conducted more than 2,700 inspections, generated 3,000 safeguards statements and reports, and currently has more than 193,500 ‘significant quantities’ of nuclear materials under safeguard.

So the AP story claiming ‘self-inspection’ has already been challenged by experts galore this week – by former IAEA officials and inspectors here and here, and by Amano himself, who expressed dismay at the “misleading” information circulating about the Parchin inspection in a rare public statement on this issue.

The IAEA safeguards practices continue to evolve, both according to the challenges they confront and to improve efficiencies. A member of an IAEA team assembled to test the viability of off-site environmental sampling told me recently that they had conducted an exercise in a Mideast state to take samples from outside the perimeter of a target facility. Perhaps some of those lessons will have already been applied to the Parchin inspection protocol – but likely only if the process was found to meet IAEA standards.

More facts, less spin

Hot button issues like Parchin and other ‘possible military dimensions’ (PMDs) of Iran’s nuclear program will not go away anytime soon. But the debate has changed already with the entrance of atypical ‘deal defenders’ – a crop of elite, Western establishment politicians, journalists and analysts – who are pitching the arguments that Iran has previously been unable to make heard.

JCPOA opponents are short of material to fling at deal defenders these days. The Vienna agreement is basically a fair one (if implemented according to its stated intent) that has been scrutinized ad infinitum by six world powers and the Islamic Republic of Iran, after all.

So silly minutiae, non-issues that play well to the suggestible masses, grabs the headlines instead. Take another issue that has had some airtime on social media and in the US press recently: Three weeks ago, another AP report headlined that Iran will not allow US (and Canadian) IAEA inspectors to visit its nuclear facilities. Newsweek magazine said, for JCPOA opponents, this step “will only compound doubts over whether the IAEA will be able to oversee the terms of the deal.”

But Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi insisted the Vienna agreement mentions that inspectors “should be from countries that have diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

And an IAEA spokesperson provided further context by referencing an August 28, 1961 memorandum by the Agency’s director general on “inspectors,” which states:

“The (member) State shall inform the Director General, within 30 days of receipt of such a proposal, whether it accepts the designation of that inspector… If a State, either upon proposal of a designation or at any time after a designation has been made, objects to the designation of an Agency inspector for that State, it shall inform the Director General of its objection. In this event, the Director General shall propose to the State an alternative designation or designations.”

This is standard procedure for member states of the IAEA – nothing suspect or unusual here. It is common sense that a nation will not allow nationals from adversarial or hostile states to inspect its national security-related or prized technological sites.

It is highly unlikely that Iran will veer from the letter and intent of the JCPOA now or in the foreseeable future. The Islamic Republic has been subject to the most intrusive inspections in the history of the IAEA and has taken tremendous hits from an international sanctions regime that sought to strangle Iran’s economic and political systems – all in service of cleaving to its “inalienable right” to pursue an indigenous civilian nuclear program.

In Iran’s view, “international law” serves the country best – and Tehran’s public and private fights are mostly about foreign actions that circumvent the rule of law as applied to relations between states – via illegal or unjust sanctions, sabotage, propaganda, blackmail, assassination, etc.

The JCPOA helps Iran plod along its desired nuclear and economic trajectory with legally-binding ‘safeguards’ against the external trickery and ploys it has been subjected to in the past. Providing, of course, those same Western parties don’t exploit loopholes and revert back to their old tricks, as Iranian conservatives constantly warn.

In its past nuclear-file battles, Tehran usually lacked two key weapons: the ability to fight back against evidence it was not allowed to see, and the ability to communicate its messages to a global audience.

In one fell swoop, the Vienna agreement provided both tools. Buried in the details of the JCPOA is one line regarding any concerns the IAEA has about undeclared nuclear materials, activities or locations: “The IAEA will provide Iran the basis for such concerns and request clarification.”

An Iranian negotiator privately told me in Vienna that the deal must provide Tehran with direct access to any evidence suggesting inconsistency in its nuclear activities. Iran has been denied this in the past. With evidence to touch and feel, it will be much easier for Iran to refute or disprove allegations against it.

Post-deal – and as long as US administration calculations remain pro-deal – Iran’s opponents no longer have an unfettered ability to use the UNSC P5 and IAEA to float unsubstantiated charges against Tehran. This is why we can expect the charges to now come hard and fast through media channels and “leaks.”

And that brings us to Iran’s second “gain” in the aftermath of the Vienna agreement. Having bought into and become fully vested in the JCPOA, the six powerful members of the P5+1 will act, in a sense, as a communications channel for the Iranians, whose ‘facts’ have long been ignored in the media. It is currently in the interest of the P5+1 to make this deal ‘stick’ – and so Iran has experienced enormous relief in its counter-messaging activities related to its nuclear file.

The Islamic Republic just became ‘Teflon Iran.” And Western punditry and establishment figures seeking to spoil the JCPOA environment can now expect a lot more mutiny from within.

Until the Western political pendulum swings back the other way.

Sharmine Narwani is a former senior associate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University and has a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University.

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment