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‘No criminality established’: Probes into 57 unlawful killings in Iraq by UK soldiers dropped

RT | January 24, 2016

As many as 57 cases of alleged unlawful killings carried out by UK soldiers who served in Iraq won’t be followed up, as “no criminality” had been established during the investigation, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has announced.

The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT), tasked with investigating the alleged abuses by British soldiers during the US-led invasion in Iraq, has decided to drop probes into 57 cases of alleged unlawful killings, the ministry has announced. The military’s prosecuting authority has also dropped another case of alleged human rights violations.

The decision comes after UK Prime Minister David Cameron urged ministers to draw up plans to curb claims regarding troops coming back from Iraq which he described as “spurious.” He demanded that returning soldiers be protected from “being hounded by lawyers over claims that are totally without foundation.”

Cameron has tasked the National Security Council with finding a way to clamp down on lawyers exploiting a “no win, no fee” system that may soon be banned while the government’s investigative powers may get a boost.

However, some lawyers argue that every person must obey the law and many cases of abuse have actually been proven while the Prime Minister noted that the “industry” is merely trying to make a profit out of servicemen.

The army’s former chief legal adviser in Iraq, Nicholas Mercer, said that the fact that British taxpayers had already paid out almost £20mn ($29mn) in compensations to settle hundreds of cases of abuses and violations against Iraqi civilians shows that the problem is widespread.

“Clearly this isn’t just one or two bad apples, as they have been characterized, this is on a fairly large and substantial scale,” Mercer told Channel 4 news, accusing the UK government of “hijacking” the situation to stop lawyers from bringing up additional cases.

The Iraq Historic Allegation team has been set up to investigate allegations of abuse of Iraqi civilians by UK armed forces personnel during the period they were deployed in Iraq from 2003 to July 2009.

More than 1,000 allegations ranging from murder to rapes to low-level violence are currently under investigation. IHAT is separated from the military in order to stay impartial in its investigation that is due to be finished by the end of 2019.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Why the US anti-terror coalition is failing

By Finian Cunningham | American Herald Tribune | January 21 ,2016

There was an underwhelming sense when Pentagon boss Ashton Carter met this week in Paris with other members of the US-led military coalition supposedly fighting the ISIL terror group.

The US-led coalition was set up at the end of 2014 and in theory comprises 60 nations. The main military operation of the alliance is an aerial bombing campaign against terrorist units of IS (also known as ISIL, ISIS or Daesh).

At the Paris meeting this week, Secretary of Defense Carter was joined by counterparts from just six countries: France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Australia. Where were the other 54 nations of the coalition?

Carter and French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian patted themselves on the back about “momentum”in their campaign against the terrorist network. However, platitudes aside, there was a noticeable crestfallen atmosphere at the meeting of the shrunken US-led coalition.

One telling point was Carter exhorting Arab countries to contribute more. As a headline in the Financial Times put it: “US urges Arab nations to boost ISIS fight”.

Carter didn’t mention specific names but it was clear he was referring to Saudi Arabia and the other oil-rich Persian Gulf Arab states, including Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

When the US initiated the anti-IS coalition in 2014, fighter jets from the Sunni Arab states participated in the aerial campaign. They quickly fell away from the operation and instead directed their military forces to Yemen, where the Saudi-led Arab coalition has been bombing that country non-stop since March 2015 to thwart an uprising by Houthi revolutionaries.

But there is an even deeper, more disturbing reason for the lack of Arab support for the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria. That is because Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni monarchies are implicated in funding and arming the very terrorists that Washington’s coalition is supposedly combating.

Several senior US officials have at various times admitted this. Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton labelled Saudi Arabia as the main sponsor of “Sunni extremist groups”in diplomatic cables when she was Secretary of State back in 2009, as disclosed by Wikileaks.

Vice President Joe Biden, while addressing a Harvard University forum in late 2014, also spilled the beans on the Persian Gulf states and Turkey being behind the rise of terror groups in the Middle East.

So there is substantial reason why the US-led anti-terror coalition in Iraq and Syria has not delivered decisive results. It is the same reason why Carter was joined by only six other countries in Paris this week and why there was a glaring absence of Saudi Arabia and other Arab members. These despotic regimes –whom Washington claims as “allies”–are part of the terrorist problem.

Not that the US or its Western allies are blameless. Far from it. It was Washington after all that master-minded the regime-change operations in Iraq and Syria, which spawned the terror groups.

In fact, we can go further and point to evidence, such as the testimony of Lt General Michael Flynn of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which shows that the US enlisted the terror brigades as proxies to do its dirty work in Syria for regime change.

The US and its Western allies conceal this collusion by claiming that they are supporting “moderate rebels”–not extremists. But the so-called moderates have ended up joining the terrorists and sharing their US-supplied weapons. The distinction between these groups is thus meaningless, leaving the baleful conclusion that Washington, London and Paris are simply colluding with terrorism.

US Republican presidential contenders and media pundits berate the Obama administration for not doing enough militarily to defeat IS. Or as Donald Trump’s backer Sarah Palin would say to “kick ass”.

The unsettling truth is that the US cannot do more to defeat terrorism in the Middle East because Washington and its allies are the source of terrorism in the region. Through their meddling and machinations, Washington and its cohorts have created a veritable Frankenstein monster.

The “coalition”that is actually inflicting serious damage to IS and its various terror franchises is that of Russia working in strategic cooperation with the Syrian Arab Army of President Bashar al-Assad. Since Russia began its aerial bombing campaign nearly four months ago, we have seen a near collapse of the terror network’s oil and weapons smuggling rackets and hundreds of their bases destroyed.

Yet Ashton Carter this week accused Russia of impeding the fight against terrorism in Syria because of its support for the Assad government. Talk about double think!

If we strip away the false rhetoric and mainstream media misinformation, Washington’s “anti-terror”coalition can be seen as not merely incompetently leading from behind.

The US, its Western allies and regional client regimes are in the front ranks of the terror problem.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Good News, World! You Can Stop Worrying About the South China Sea!

By Peter Lee | China Matters | January 23, 2016

There has been a concerted campaign to depict the South China Sea as an indispensable artery for commercial shipping and, therefore, a justifiable object of US attention and meddling.

This flagship of this effort is invoking the “$5 trillion dollars” worth of goods that pass through the SCS each year. Reuters, in particular, is addicted to this formula.

Here’s seven Reuters news stories within the last month containing the $5 trillion figure:

China Says South China Seas militarization depends on threat

China seeks investment for disputed islands, to launch flights

China defends South China Sea reef landings after Vietnam complaint

Philippines files protest against Chin’s test flights in disputed sea

China again lands planes on disputed island in South China Sea: Xinhua

Filipino protestors land on disputed islands in South China Sea

South China Sea tensions surge as China lands plane on artificial island

What interests me is that these seven articles reflect the work of six reporters and seven editors (seven to six! Glad to see Reuters has a handle on the key ratios!) in five bureaus and they all include the same stock phrase. How’s that work? Does headquarters issue a ukaz that all articles about the South China Sea must include the magic $5 trillion phrase? Does the copyediting program flag every reference to the South China Sea omitting the figure? Or did the reportorial hive mind linking Beijing, Manila, Hanoi, Hong Kong, and Sydney spontaneously and unanimously decided that “$5 trillion” is an indispensable accessory for South China Sea reporting?

I guess it’s understandable. A more accurate characterization of the South China Sea as “a useful but not indispensable waterway for world shipping whose commercial importance, when properly exaggerated, provides a pretext for the United States to meddle in Southeast Asian affairs at the PRC’s expense” is excessively verbose and fails to convey a sense of urgency.

The kicker, of course, is that the lion’s share of the $5 trillion is China trade, and most of the balance passes through the South China Sea by choice and not by necessity. … Full article

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Turkish PM Tries to Frame Syrian Kurds for Istanbul Bombing

By Joris Leverink | teleSUR | January 23, 2016

On Tuesday, Jan. 12 a big explosion took place in the heart of Istanbul’s tourist district of Sultanahmet. The explosion was caused by a suicide bomber who blew himself up next to a group of mainly German tourists, instantly killing ten and injuring 15 others. Soon, the bomber was identified as a Saudi born Syrian man who had recently entered Turkey and had registered himself as a refugee only days prior to his suicide mission.

According to the Turkish authorities the man was linked to the Islamic State group (IS, or ISIS/ISIL), making this the terrorist group’s fourth deadly suicide bombing in Turkey in one year. Previous attacks that have been ascribed to – but haven’t been claimed by – IS occurred in Diyarbakir in June, Suruc in July and Ankara in October, with a total death toll of around 140.

What set this latest attack apart from the others, however, is the explicit targeting of foreign nationals holidaying in Turkey. Previous attacks were all directed against Kurdish groups and their supporters, indicating a spillover from the wars in Syria and Iraq where Kurdish forces are seen as some of the most effective and reliable opponents of IS.

The Kurdish groups and organizations targeted by the Islamic State group were at the same time actively opposing the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). This sparked rumors of the terror group being in cahoots with the Turkish government. Accusations ranged from the two parties actively cooperating with each other to the government’s willful neglect of the safety of its Kurdish citizens.

That the Turkish government considers the Kurds at home and abroad as a bigger threat to the national security than IS has never been a secret. Moreover, the fact that IS is fighting against two of Turkey’s key enemies in Syria – the Assad government and local Kurdish forces – means that Turkey has always been hesitant about seriously and directly confronting the jihadists.

Questions and irregularities

It is in this context that the attack in Istanbul seems out of place. Why would the Islamic State group risk antagonizing one of the few parties in the region with which it has at least some shared goals? What is there to be gained from dealing a blow to Turkey’s already hampered tourist industry and forcing the country’s hand in taking a firm stance against the terrorist group?

There are a number of questions and irregularities that come up when looking at the facts that have thus far come out.

The first matter is the timing of the attack. If the aim of the attack is to hit Turkey by targeting its US$30 billion tourist industry, the bomber couldn’t possibly have chosen a worse time than a cold Tuesday morning in mid-January. The site of the attack is the exact location where during the holiday season thousands of tourists line up every day to visit the Blue Mosque. The number of victims would undoubtedly have been many times higher if the attack would have taken place a few months later, with an absolutely devastating effect on Turkey’s tourist industry.

Then there is the matter of the bomber’s identity. Mere hours after the attack the identity of the man who blew himself to pieces was already known and released. Nabil Fadli was a 28-year-old, Saudi-born Syrian man who had joined IS’ ranks after the terror group had occupied his hometown of Manbij, north of Aleppo.

According to unnamed Turkish officials Fadli had been part of a plot to attack the New Year’s celebrations in Ankara, but this mission had to be aborted after two of his collaborators were exposed and arrested. Fadli moved to Istanbul where he registered himself as a refugee, in the process giving away his fingerprints that would eventually lead to his identification as the bomber one week later.

The curious thing is, why would a member of the Islamic State group who has come to Turkey with the intention of committing a suicide bomb attack make himself known to the authorities – especially after two of his companions have just been arrested? Why have your picture and fingerprints taken and give away the address where you’re staying – which he did, according to the official reports – instead of laying low for a few days before executing the plan for the attack?

Finally, there is the curious issue of IS never actually having claimed responsibility for the attack. Nor for any of the other attacks mentioned above, which all have been attributed to the terrorist group by the Turkish government. The past year has seen a sting of terror attacks committed by the Islamic State group outside of the territories that are under its control – from Jakarta to Paris, Tunis to Beirut – and each and everyone of them has been claimed by the terror group. Oddly enough, not a single attack in Turkey that has been ascribed to IS has actually been claimed by them.

Raising these questions and irregularities is not done for the purpose of pointing fingers at one party or another. They simply serve as a mental exercise to remind one that, especially when entering the realm of terror and counterterrorism, the reality is rarely how it is presented to the public.

Shifting the blame

The day after the attack, Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu suggested that “certain powers could be using Daesh,” while referring to the Islamic State group by its Arab acronym. Which“certain powers” he had in mind became clear when anonymous government sources told Reuters that Fadli might have been “coerced by the PYD or by Syrian intelligence into the Istanbul bombing.”

These baseless allegations serve no other purpose but to frame the party of the Syrian Kurds, the Democratic Unions Party, or PYD, as the terrorist organization Turkish authorities claim it to be. Immediately after the Ankara bombings in October, similar attempts at spreading false propaganda were made. Prime minister Davutoglu coined the term “cocktail terrorism” and claimed on national television that the attack was the work of a coalition between the PYD, the Islamic State group, Syrian secret services and the PKK.

The Istanbul attack, regardless of who did it, will be used as propaganda by all the parties involved. For Turkey, which had come under increasing international pressure for failing to step up against IS, the attack firmly places them once again at the heart of the anti-terror coalition dominated by the US and Europe. Reports about retaliation attacks against IS in which supposedly 200 terrorists were killed in cross border artillery fire – an incredible (literally) high number – are meant to erase all doubts that Turkey is now seriously confronting IS.

The attack has also provided Turkey with the necessary pretext to launch attacks further into Syria, at the town of Manbij – the bomber’s hometown – to be precise. This is a highly strategic target because it’s location in the heart of the proposed “security zone” Turkey has wanted to establish for a long time. Coincidentally, Manbij is also the next stop for a coalition of Kurdish forces and their allies who have been gaining significant ground at the cost of the Islamic State group after a recent string of important victories.

Judging from the news, the Istanbul attack has certainly led to renewed efforts by the Turkish government to confront and attack IS. Targets in Syria have been hit, and dozens of alleged IS members have been arrested in the country. However, the fact that part of the blame has been tried to be placed on the Syrian Kurds shows that, besides a deeply tragic event, the suicide attack is at the same time a good opportunity to frame the public perception and pursue a very specific political agenda.

Joris Leverink is an Istanbul-based political analyst and writer with an MSc in Political Economy. He is an editor for ROAR Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter via @Le_Frique.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin: More Regime Change, Please!


By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | January 21, 2016

Most normal people look at the smoldering cemetery that is post-“liberation” Libya, the gruesome graveyard of an almost-“liberated” Syria, the 14 year slow-motion failed regime change in Afghanistan, blood-drenched Iraq, and they are horrified. Washington Post’s neocon nag Jennifer Rubin looks across that bloody landscape and sees a beautiful work in progress.

She writes today in the online edition of the Post that despite what we might be hearing from some “libertarian/populist pols masquerading as conservatives,” the interventionist enterprise is chugging along just fine. Democracy promotion at the barrel of a gun is every American’s “white man’s burden” whether he likes it or not.

Never mind that Syria has been nearly leveled by almost five years of an Islamist insurgency that was but a few weeks from success when Russia stopped it in its tracks. The real villain is the secular Bashar al-Assad, writes Rubin. After all, he “is partnered with Iran and spurs support for Islamist rebels…”

Assad “spur[s] support for Islamist rebels” by waging war on them for six years? Or does she somehow deny that Assad is fighting the insurgents who seek to drive him from power? Both cannot be true.

And on Planet Rubin, funding, training, and arming Islamist rebels, as the US and its allies have done, can in no way be seen as spurring them on.

“It has become fashionable in some circles to pooh-pooh support for democracy,” Rubin moans. Not so fast, she says. This is not a failed project. Her evidence? From all the countries destabilized by US democracy promotion schemes there is “one encouraging success story” — Tunisia!

Yes, after the destruction and killing in places like Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq, and the rest, it is the great success in little Tunisia that makes it all worthwhile!

Unfortunately for Rubin, even her little Tunisian success story looks to have an unhappy ending. As reported by BBC News, unrest is spreading throughout Tunisia as demonstrators are clashing with police. Tunisians are in far worse economic shape now than before the US-backed “Arab Spring” brought them their “liberation.” One-third of young people are unemployed in post-liberation Tunisia and 62 percent of recent college graduates cannot find work.

“We have been waiting for things to get better for five years and nothing has happened,” Yassine Kahlaoui, a 30-year-old jobseeker, told the AP as reported by the BBC.

Here is the ugly truth that regime change enthusiasts like Rubin will never admit: it is very easy to destabilize and destroy a country from abroad in the name of “promoting democracy,” but those recipients of America’s largesse in this area soon find that it is all but impossible to return a country to even pre-“liberation” economic levels. They are left missing their “dictator.”

What does Rubin care: she doesn’t have to live in these hellholes she helps create.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mossad-linked Israeli law firm loses anti-BDS case in US labour tribunal

MEMO | January 24, 2016

An Israeli law firm with links to Mossad has lost a case it brought against the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), after the trade union endorsed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement at its national convention in August 2015.

A report on the UE website states that, on January 12, the National Labor Relations Board dismissed an unfair labour practice charge brought by Shurat HaDin. UE, an independent union representing some 35,000 workers in a manufacturing, public sector and private non-profit sector jobs, was the first national US union to endorse BDS.

The Israeli law firm had filed the charge on October 13, alleging that UE’s resolution violated the prohibition in US labour law against ‘secondary boycotts’. UE, meanwhile, argued that “Shurat Hadin’s action was an attempt to interfere with the First Amendment rights of the union and its members to express opinions on political and international issues.”

Responding to the decision by the National Labor Relations Board, an independent agency of the US government, UE National President Peter Knowlton said that the union had “withstood attempts by the US government to silence us during the McCarthy era in the 1950s,” and was “unbowed by the latest attempt of a surrogate of the Israeli government to stifle our call for justice for Palestinian and Israeli workers.”

He added: “The NLRB’s decision is a victory for the growing BDS movement across the US, which faces increasing political attempts to silence and intimidate critics of the Israeli government. As Americans who have a constitutional right to criticize our own government, we certainly have a right to criticize and, if we choose, boycott a foreign government that is heavily subsidized by US taxpayers.”

Shurat HaDin, in the words of the UE report, “is an Israeli organization that uses legal cases to harass supporters of Palestinian rights and critics of Israel.” Its director has “privately admitted to taking direction from the Israeli government over which cases to pursue.”

According to one Israeli journalist, Shurat HaDin “files lawsuits at the behest of the Israeli government”, yet still “dares to define itself as a ‘human rights organisation’.” The firm’s track record of failure includes a lawsuit against Jimmy Carter, and an ‘anti-discrimination’ case brought against a pro-boycott Australian academic.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli forces detain Palestinian lawmaker, former minister in Hebron


Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces detained Hatim Qafisha, a Hamas-affiliated member of the PLO’s Palestinian Legislative Council, from his home. (MaanImages)
Ma’an – January 24, 2016

HEBRON – Israeli forces detained at least six Palestinians, including a Palestinian lawmaker and a former Palestinian Authority minister, from their homes in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron overnight Sunday, Palestinian and Israeli sources told Ma’an.

Palestinian security sources said Israeli forces detained Hatim Qafisha, a Hamas-affiliated member of the PLO’s Palestinian Legislative Council, from his home in the Wadi al-Hariyya neighborhood of Hebron city.

Security sources added that unidentified assailants set fire to Qafisha’s private vehicle after he had been detained and Israeli forces had left the area.

Israeli forces also raided the Nimra neighborhood around dawn and detained Issa al-Jaabari, who served as the PA’s Minister of Local Governance in 2006.

Sources said Israeli forces blew the front doors off of al-Jaabari’s home before raiding the dwelling and detaining the former minister.

Furthermore, Israeli forces carried out a predawn raids in the al-Sheikh neighborhood of Hebron city and detained a former prisoner identified as Ibrahim Jamil Hassan after ransacking his home, along with several others in the neighborhood.

An Israeli army spokesperson did not confirm specific detentions, but said Israeli forces detained four Palestinians in Hebron city, all of which were reportedly detained for being “Hamas operatives.” The spokesperson added that two more Palestinians were detained in areas north and west of the city.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel to allow settler takeover of Palestinian homes in Al-Khalil


MEMO | January 24, 2016

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday gave his support to a group of Jewish settlers who were filmed forcefully taking over Palestinian homes in the city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Though Israeli border police removed the settlers from the homes on Friday, Netanyahu on Sunday confirmed that they would be allowed to move into the structures once paperwork for their purported “secret purchase” was complete.

“The government supports the settlements, especially in days like these, when they are under terror attacks,” Netanyahu declared at a weekly cabinet meeting, referring to heightened levels of violence in Hebron.

“The moment that the purchase process [for the confiscated homes] is authorized, we will allow the [settlers to take possession] of the two houses in Hebron,” he added.

Earlier Sunday, local media quoted an Israeli Radio report that the settlers were negotiating with the government for ownership of at least one of the homes and assurances that none of the entryways faced Palestinian neighbours.

On Thursday, a widely-circulated video showed dozens of Israeli settlers forcing open two Palestinian homes in Hebron, drawing the ire of many Palestinians.

The West Bank city is notorious for its heavy Israeli military presence due to long-running tensions between Palestinians and Jewish settlers, who – unlike in most other cities – live in close proximity to one another.

Hebron has been at the epicenter of a months-long wave of violence that has seen more than 160 Palestinians – along with 29 Israelis or foreigners – killed since October 1 of last year.


Settlers seize a house near Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron

Israel razes EU-built West Bank humanitarian buildings, announces land grab

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | 3 Comments

Israeli Rabbi Calls for Execution of Palestinians


“We must eradicate this evil from within our midst”
IMEMC News & Agencies | January 24, 2016

Chief Israeli Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu announced Tuesday, on Facebook, that Palestinians should be executed in order to establish safety in Israel.

“Israeli army has to stop arresting Palestinians,” he posted on his Facebook wall, “but, it must execute them and leave no one alive.”

According to the PNN, Eliyahu is well known for his racist behavior and controversial statements about Arabs and Muslims. He has been calling on the government to carry out state-sanctioned revenge against Arabs in order to, in his words, “restore Israel’s deterrence.”

The hard-right wing and bloodthirsty Chief Rabbi of Safed, and also a member of the Chief Rabbinate Council additionally declared that the Palestinians are the enemy of the Israeli occupation state and they “must be destroyed and crushed in order to end violence.”

In 2007, according to the Jerusalem Post, Eliyahu was quoted saying that “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand. And if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don’t stop we must kill 100.000, even a million.”

In 2012, Eliyahu was charged for racist statements. Among these were, according to Israel national news: “The Arab culture is very cruel,” and “The Arabs behave according to different codes, and violent norms that have turned into ideology.”

The rabbi allegedly stated that examples of this new Arab “ideology” now include stealing farm equipment from Jews and blackmailing farmers for protection against thefts. He also supposedly said that “the minute you make room for Arabs among Jews, it takes five minutes before they start to do whatever they want.” The justice ministry dropped the charges because the statements ‘may’ have been altered by reporters.

The Jerusalem Post reported him saying: “Should we leave them alive in order to then free them in another gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas? The fact that they still have a desire to commit terrorist attacks shows that we are not operating strongly enough,” he said.

Explaining more about his fatwa, Eliyahu wrote, on his facebook, page that “the Israel Police officers who do keep terrorist Palestinians alive should be prosecuted under the law.”

He went on: “We must not allow a Palestinian to survive after he was arrested. If you leave him alive, there is a fear that he will be released and kill other people.” He added: “We must eradicate this evil from within our midst.”

Also of interest: 2015: 130 Palestinians Detained for Social Media Posts

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 3 Comments

Yemen’s Plight and Britain’s “Creative Clout”

Arms Sales and Advice on Killing

By Felicity Arbuthnot | Dissident Voice | January 23, 2016

Today, I want to speak about the once-in-a-generation chance we have, together, to improve the way we enhance the cause of human rights, freedom and dignity.

— David Cameron. Speech on the European Court of Human Rights, January 25. 2012

In June of 2014, speaking in his official residence,10 Downing Street, Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech on business:

“Britain has huge creative clout around the world … From Asia to America, they’re dancing to our music, watching our films and wearing our designers’ latest creations”, he trilled.

He omitted to say “and dying under our bombs.”

In December, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein warned, regarding the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen:

I have observed with extreme concern the continuation of heavy shelling from the ground and the air in areas with high a concentration of civilians as well as the perpetuation of the destruction of civilian infrastructure – in particular hospitals and schools …

Yemen’s Ministry of Education’s data shows more than 1,000 schools inoperable, 254 completely destroyed, 608 partially damaged and 421 being used as shelter by those displaced by the Saudi-led, UK-assisted onslaught. Some destroyed schools were attacked repeatedly. Thus they were not errors, or that obscene US dreamt up whitewash for atrocities: “collateral damage.” The US also supplies “intelligence” for air strikes.

Three Medecines Sans Frontier medical facilities have also been destroyed and this month the Noor Center for the Blind was hit – twice. Abdullah Ahmed Banyan, a patient, said:

People with disabilities are being struck in their residence. Around 1.30 am, two missiles hit the live-in quarters of a home for the blind. Can you imagine they are striking the blind? What is this criminality? Why? Is it the blind that are fighting the war?

As in Afghanistan and Iraq, those other favourite targets of the US, UK and their allies, wedding parties, have again become victims. One gathering in two large tents bombed last September, killed thirty eight people. Another wedding celebration attack reportedly killed one hundred and thirty. In the country’s capitol, Sanaa a wedding party hall was also destroyed – what is this criminal obsession about weddings? The Chamber of Commerce was also destroyed.

Definition of war crimes include “intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected …” and “attacking or bombarding, by whatever means, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives.”

None of which deters the UK from joining in. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has confirmed to Parliament that UK troops are helping the Saudi military identify targets. He said there had been “no evidence of deliberate breach of international humanitarian law.” He clearly has not bothered to do the research.

There is worse. Apart from aiding and abetting potential war crimes, the British government is profiting in eye watering sums from the human misery, deaths and destruction with arms sales to Saudi Arabia increasing by 11,000 percent in one three month period alone.

In spite of the United Nations stating that civilians are being disproportionately killed in Yemen, in just one three month period last year arms sales rose to over one Billion £s, up from a mere nine million £s from the previous three months.

The exact figure for British arms export licences from July to September 2015 was £1,066,216,510 in so-called “ML4” export licences, which relate to bombs, missiles, rockets, and components of those items.

Angus Robertson, Leader of the Scottish National Party in Parliament, is outraged, accusing during Prime Minister’s Questions this week, that:

Thousands of civilians have been killed in Yemen, including a large number by the Saudi air force and they’ve done that using British-built planes, with pilots who are trained by British instructors, dropping British-made bombs, who are coordinated by the Saudis in the presence of British military advisors.

Isn’t it time for the Prime Minister to admit that Britain is effectively taking part in a war in Yemen that is costing thousands of civilians lives and he has not sought parliamentary approval to do this? (Independent, January 20th, 2016. Emphasis added.)

Allan Hogarth for Amnesty International again confirmed that British advisors are “… actually located in the Saudi control room.”

David Cameron waffled inadequately with dismissive arrogance and supreme economy with the truth, that Britain was insuring that “… the norms of humanitarian law” were obeyed. Comments redundant.

Two days ago at Yemen’s Ras Isa port on the Red Sea, an oil storage facility was hit killing five people. The attack destroyed the part of the compound used to load tanker trucks with refined products for domestic distribution. So now a people, many of whom the UN has warned are facing near starvation, will face further shortages to cook what little they have and to heat

So much for Cameron’s vow to “improve the way we enhance the cause of human rights, freedom and dignity.”

MSF paramedic, civilian first responders killed in Saudi double-tap airstrike in Yemen

RT | January 22, 2016

Almost two dozen people, including civilian rescuers and an ambulance driver from an MSF-affiliated hospital, have reportedly been killed after Saudi-led coalition planes carried out repeated airstrikes on the same target in Sa’ada province, Yemen.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) confirmed the fatal air raids in Sa’ada, saying the “planes went back to bomb areas already hit.”

“An ambulance driver from an MSF hospital [was] killed,” the NGO wrote, explaining that the first responders at the scene had been trying to help those wounded in the first round of strikes.

The ambulance had just picked up the victims when a direct strike killed everyone inside it, said the director of the Jumhuriya Hospital in Sa’ada province, according to the New York Times.

Yemen’s Health Ministry has strongly condemned the coalition’s actions as a “heinous massacre” that first targeted a residential building in Sa’ada, Saba news agency reports, citing ministry spokesperson Dr. Nashwan Attab.

According to reports, at least 20 people were killed and another 35 wounded, in what the medics claim was a deliberate attack. Following the initial air raid in the Dhahyan district of Sa’ada, first responders rushed to the scene to care for the wounded. But the planes soon returned to strike again in an attempt to “completely eliminate the few remaining medical staff in the province,” Dr. Attab said.


“There are still people under the rubble and it is difficult to get them as a result of targeting by Saudi aggression of paramedics and medical personnel in the region,” he added.

Earlier this week, MSF said that the Saudi coalition continues to engage civilian targets on the ground, in particular medical treatment facilities, noting that over 100 hospitals have witnessed attacks since the Saudi-led intervention began last March.

The constant bombing of health clinics in Yemen has created conditions in which locals fear for their lives and try to avoid hospitals at all costs, MSF said. The United Nations has criticized the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen for the disproportionate number of civilian deaths and the destruction of infrastructure.

The UN estimates that the violence has resulted in a dramatic increase in civilian casualties, with more than 5,800 people killed in Yemen since March.


Yemeni hospitals seen as targets, people ‘avoid them as much as possible’ – MSF

January 24, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning to Love — and Use — the Bomb

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | January 23, 2016

At a time when America’s public sector is apparently too strapped financially even to provide safe drinking water for some of its residents, the Obama administration plans to commit the nation to spending at least $1 trillion over the next three decades to improve our ability to fight a nuclear war. That’s right — an almost unthinkable war that would end up destroying much of the habitable portion of the globe.

That wasn’t the message President Obama conveyed in April, 2009 when he declared in Prague, “The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War. … Generations lived with the knowledge that their world could be erased in a single flash of light. … Just as we stood for freedom in the Twentieth Century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the Twenty-first Century.

“And as . . . the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. … So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

How times change. Today, warns former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry, “we are now on the verge of a new nuclear arms race” based on a return to Cold War thinking. “Moreover, I believe that the risk of a nuclear catastrophe today is greater than it was during the Cold War — and yet our public is blissfully unaware of the new nuclear dangers they face.”

Russia shares some of the blame, with its ostentatious talk of developing new weapons like a giant nuclear-tipped torpedo designed to “cause guaranteed devastating damage to the country’s territory by creating wide areas of radioactive contamination.”

But a far greater risk to global security is the Obama administration’s so-called nuclear “modernization” program, which the Pentagon is promoting at the same time U.S. policymakers are incessantly demonizing Russia as the chief threat to the United States and its allies.

In theory, the administration aims merely to ensure that America’s nuclear deterrent remains “robust” — that is, credible enough to dissuade any other nuclear power from contemplating an attack on U.S. forces, or installations, or cities.

But U.S. nuclear forces are currently sized with only one potential enemy in mind: Russia. The United States has an estimated 1,900 nuclear weapons deployed, versus 1,780 for Russia. The next largest nuclear power is France, with just 290 deployed weapons. The total U.S. nuclear stockpile of 7,200 warheads is 28 times bigger than China’s.

Apparently all that isn’t enough to let top Pentagon officials sleep at night. President Obama’s new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last year that he believes Russia poses the greatest threat to U.S. national security — “an existential threat” no less. “If you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming,” he declared.

Curtis LeMay Redux

Lest Russia launch an all-out attack, for reasons unknown, the Obama administration proposes building 12 new nuclear-armed submarines, 100 long-range strategic bombers armed with a new class of bombs, 400 silo-based ballistic missiles, and 1,000 nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. It’s almost as if Air Force General Curtis LeMay were still running the show.

An authoritative study by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies estimates the full cost of this program over 30 years at more than $1 trillion — with no allowance for cost overruns, delays, or clean-up and decommissioning costs.

But cost may be the least of the problems with Obama’s agenda. One common if disguised element of these “modernization” programs is their ability to make nuclear “war-fighting” more, not less, conceivable by increasing the targeting flexibility of these weapons and, in some cases, reducing their yield so they resemble very large conventional weapons rather than the all-or-nothing nukes of old.

For example, as the New York Times reported, the recently tested B61 Model 12 nuclear bomb has steerable fins that permit pin-point accuracy and configurable yields to as little as two percent of the “Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima. General James E. Cartwright, retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former head of the United States Strategic Command, said “what going smaller does is to make the weapon more thinkable.”

Similarly, the proposed new Long-Range Stand-Off weapon, a vastly upgraded nuclear cruise missile, “is designed for nuclear warfighting,” states Stephen Young, a senior analyst in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Unfortunately, for that very reason, deploying this weapon will actually make the United States less secure.”

Moving to a nuclear war-fighting capability violates the official U.S. policy outlined in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, which called for steps to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attack, with the objective of making deterrence of nuclear attack on the United States or our allies and partners the sole purpose of US nuclear weapons.”

Once policymakers start seriously considering “limited war” scenarios in which nuclear weapons might come in handy, the risk of war shoots way up. At the same time, the acquisition of war-fighting capabilities will prompt the other side to follow suit.

Easing into Nuclear War

As James Doyle, a former nonproliferation analyst at Los Alamos National Laboratory, put it, “Lowering the threshold of nuclear war poses the very real threat of rapid escalation in a conflict potentially resulting in the use of many, more destructive nuclear weapons.”

Russia certainly views the Obama administration’s current nuclear program as upsetting the stability of traditional deterrence. Following a recent test of the new B61-12 bomb, Russia’s deputy defense minister, Anatoly Antonov, denounced it as “irresponsible” and “openly provocative.”

Russia is also gravely concerned about another development that could, in theory, make the United States contemplate a “limited” nuclear war: the expansion of the U.S. ballistic missile defense network in Europe. President Vladimir Putin called that “an attempt to undermine the existing parity in strategic nuclear weapons and essentially to upset the whole system of global and regional stability.”

The biggest risk from all these developments isn’t a planned nuclear war, but an unplanned nuclear exchange triggered by a false alarm in an atmosphere of mutual paranoia. Both the United States and Russia have hundreds of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert, ready to “launch on warning” lest they be destroyed in a sneak attack. Our survival thus far is thanks in part to luck; scholars have documented at least 20 accidents that might have started an accidental nuclear war in years past.

There’s no guarantee that our luck will hold out, however. Thanks to growing fears of being wiped out without warning by stealthy U.S. weapons, “Russia has shortened the launch time from what it was during the Cold War,” according to Bruce Blair, a nuclear security expert at Princeton. “Today, top military command posts in the Moscow area can bypass the entire human chain of command and directly fire by remote control rockets in silos and on trucks as far away as Siberia in only 20 seconds.”

The priority of U.S. nuclear policy today should not be investing in staggeringly expensive new technology that makes us less secure by making nuclear war more thinkable and thus more unpredictable. It should be overwhelmingly focused on nuclear risk reduction: lowering the threats perceived by each nuclear power, eliminating launch-on-warning policies, and exploring other confidence-building measures. Our greatest security task is to modernize our thinking about nuclear weapons, not our nuclear weapons technology.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Russia, US agree to have 2 rebel delegations at Syria peace talks – reports

RT | January 24, 2016

Moscow and Washington are close to reaching a compromise on the participants of the Syria peace talks set to start next week. Two separate Syrian opposition delegations are expected to be invited to the negotiations in Geneva, according to media reports.

United Nations-sponsored negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition have already been postponed over disagreements between the US and Russia, which could not reach agreement on which opposition groups should be represented. The talks are being arranged to try to bring an end to Syria’s five-year civil war.

Washington supports the participation of the Saudi-backed Islamist militia Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) – something Moscow has strongly objected to. Russia insists that political figures it deems more moderate, such as Qadri Jamil, a former Syrian deputy prime minister, and Saleh Muslim, co-head of the Syrian Kurdish group PYD, should join the negotiations, Kommersant daily reported Saturday.

A compromise has allegedly now been reached, however, with Moscow agreeing to the presence of Jaysh al-Islam at the talks. In return, Washington will not object to a separate Syrian opposition delegation being invited, Bloomberg reports, citing three Western and UN diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The ‘main’ opposition delegation was rubber-stamped in the Saudi capital Riyadh in December, and represents opposition groups sponsored by Saudi Arabia and the West.

Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, is now likely to send invitations to two opposition groups – one proposed by Washington, another recommended by Moscow.

“We are confident that with good initiative in the next day or so, those talks can get going,” US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on Saturday in Riyadh, where he has been seeking a deal on the Syria talks.

De Mistura is expected to elaborate on the latest details of the peace process at a press-briefing in Geneva on Monday, his spokeswoman Jessy Chahine said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova made no comments in a press conference on Friday regarding which opposition groups will attend the talks in Geneva.

The nations assisting the Syria peace talks have reached an agreement to form a transitional government in Syria by mid-2016, with an aim to hold elections in 2017. According to Russian and Western diplomats, Moscow has managed to shutter Washington’s previously indispensable prerequisite that Bashar Assad must leave his presidential post before the transition process can start.

Moscow has always insisted that it is up to the Syrian people to decide whether President Assad should stay or go, and the participation of the acting president in the next elections remains on the table.

At the moment there are two anti-Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) coalitions operating in Syria – one headed by the US, the other by Russia.

The Russian military’s air operation against IS in Syria began four months ago, and has significantly disrupted terrorist communications and supply routes. Islamic State’s illegal trafficking of stolen Syrian and Iraqi oil has been crippled to such an extent that the terrorists have been forced to compensate the shortfall in profits by increasing taxes, cutting salaries to militants and attempting to take drug production in Afghanistan under its control.

The Syrian Army loyal to President Assad is also conducting an offensive on terrorist positions, and has liberated a number of settlements. The spearhead of the assault is directed against the borders with Turkey and Jordan, in order to cut terrorist supply routes and prevent reinforcements from abroad from infiltrating Syria.

January 24, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment