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How US-Backed War on Syria Helped ISIS

By Daniel Lazare | Consortium News | March 31, 2016

Why are Islamic militants wreaking havoc from Brussels to Lahore? The best way to answer this question is by taking a close look at how The New York Times covered this weekend’s liberation of Palmyra from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State.

The article, entitled “Syrian Troops Said to Recapture Historic Palmyra From ISIS,” began on a snide note. While the victory may have netted Bashar al-Assad “a strategic prize,” reporters Hwaida Saad and Kareem Fahim wrote that it also provided the Syrian president with “something more rare: a measure of international praise.”

The article noted that “Mr. Assad’s contention that his government is a bulwark against the transnational extremist group” has been bolstered, but added that “his foes and some allies argue that he must leave power as part of a political settlement to end the war in Syria” – without, of course, specifying who those allies might be.

Then it offered a bit of background: “Lost in the celebrations was a discussion of how Palmyra had fallen in the first place. When the Islamic State captured the city in May [2015], the militants faced little resistance from Syrian troops. At the time, residents said officers and militiamen had fled into orchards outside the city, leaving conscripted soldiers and residents to face the militants alone.”

Since the Times claims to have “several hundred” surreptitious contacts inside Syria, the charge that Assad’s troops fled without a fight may conceivably be correct. But it’s hard to square with reports that the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh) had to battle for seven or eight days before entering the city and then had to deal with a counter-offensive on the city’s outskirts. But even if true, it’s only part of the story and a small one at that.

The real story began two months earlier when Syrian rebels launched a major offensive in Syria’s northern Idlib province with heavy backing from Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Led by Al Nusra, the local Al Qaeda affiliate, but with the full participation of U.S.-backed rebel forces, the assault proved highly successful because of the large numbers of U.S.-made optically guided TOW missiles supplied by the Saudis. [See Consortiumnews.com’sClimbing into Bed with Al-Qaeda.”]

The missiles gave the rebels the edge they needed to destroy dozens of government tanks and other vehicles according to videos posted on social media websites. Indeed, one pro-U.S. commander told The Wall Street Journal that the TOWs completely “flipped the balance of power,” enabling the rebels to dislodge the Syrian army’s heavily dug-in forces and drive them out of town. Although the government soon counter-attacked, Al Nusra and its allies continued to advance to the point where they posed a direct threat to the Damascus regime’s stronghold in Latakia province 50 or 60 miles to the west.

Official Washington was jubilant. “The trend lines for Assad are bad and getting worse,” a senior official crowed a month after the offensive began. The Times happily observed that “[t]he Syrian Army has suffered a string of defeats from re-energized insurgents … [which] raise newly urgent questions about the durability of President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.”

Assad was on the ropes, or so everyone said. Indeed, ISIS thought so as well, according to the Associated Press, which is why it decided that the opportunity was ripe to launch an offensive of its own 200 miles or so to the southeast. Worn-out and depleted after four years of civil war, the Syrian Arab Army retreated before the onslaught.

But considering the billions of dollars that the U.S. and Saudis were pouring into the rebel forces, blaming Damascus for not putting up a stiffer fight is a little like beating up a 12-year-old girl and then blaming her for not having a better right hook.

So the U.S. and its allies helped Islamic State by tying down Assad’s forces in the north so that it could punch through in the center. But that’s not all the U.S. did. It also helped by suspending bombing as the Islamic State neared Palmyra.

As the Times put it at the time: “Any airstrikes against Islamic State militants in and around Palmyra would probably benefit the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. So far, United States-led airstrikes in Syria have largely focused on areas far outside government control, to avoid the perception of aiding a leader whose ouster President Obama has called for.”

The upshot was a clear message to ISIS to the effect that it had nothing to worry about from U.S. jet bombers as long as it engaged Assad’s troops in close combat. The U.S. thus incentivized ISIS to press forward with the assault. Although residents later wondered why the U.S. had not bombed ISIS forces “while they were traversing miles of open desert roads,” the answer, simply, is that Washington had other things on its mind. Rather than defeating ISIS, it preferred to use it to accomplish its primary goal, which was driving out Assad.

The Blowback

But what does this have to do with Brussels and Lahore? Simply that America’s fundamental ambivalence toward ISIS, Al Qaeda, and similar groups — its policy of battling them on one hand and seeking to make use of them on the other — is what allows Sunni terrorism to fester and grow.

The administration is shocked, SHOCKED, when Islamists kill innocent people in Belgium but not when they kill innocent people in Syria. This is why the White House long regarded ISIS as a lesser threat: because it thought its violence would remain safely contained.

“Where Al Qaeda’s principal ambition is to launch attacks against the West and U.S. homeland,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes explained in August 2014, “ISIL’s primary focus is consolidating territory in the Middle East region to establish their own Islamic State.”

Since the only people in harm’s way were Syrians, there was no cause for alarm. The rest of the world could relax.

Hence the confusion when ISIS did the unexpected by striking out at Western targets after all. As the Times observed in a major takeout this week on Islamic State’s Western operations, officials were slow to connect the dots because Euro-terrorism was not supposed to be ISIS’s thing: “Even as the group began aggressively recruiting foreigners, especially Europeans, policymakers in the United States and Europe continued to see it as a lower-profile branch of Al Qaeda that was mostly interested in gaining and governing territory.”

Turkish officials made essentially the same point last week in response to widespread complaints that they have done little to prevent Sunni terrorists from making their way to Syria. Not so, they countered. When they tried to return the jihadis from whence they came, they found that members of the European Union were none too eager to have them.

“We were suspicious that the reason they want these people to come is because they don’t want them in their own countries,” a senior Turkish security official told the London Guardian. Instead, they preferred to see them continue on their way. And why not? At home, they would only cause trouble, whereas in Syria they would advance Western interests by waging war against Assad’s Baathist government.

Thus, Brussels was unresponsive when Turkish officials informed it that they had detained a Belgian citizen named Ibrahim el-Bakraoui in the border town of Gaziantep on suspicion of traveling to Syria to join the jihad. The Turks deported him anyway, but the Belgians remained unconcerned until El-Bakraoui turned up among the suicide bombers at Zaventem airport.

The same thing happened when the Turks intercepted a Syria-bound French national named Omar Ismail Mostefai. Paris was also unresponsive until Mostefai wound up among the ISIS militants who stormed the Bataclan concert hall last November, at which point its attitude turned distinctly less blasé.

In June 2014, Turkish security officers in Istanbul intercepted a Norwegian citizen traveling to Syria with a camouflage outfit, a first-aid kit, knives, a gun magazine and parts of an AK-47, all of which E.U. customs officials had somehow overlooked.

Two months later, they intercepted a German citizen with a suitcase containing a bulletproof vest, military camouflage and binoculars that customs had also failed to notice. When they apprehended a Danish-Turkish dual citizen on his way to Syria, they sent him back to Copenhagen. But the Danes gave him another passport regardless so he could continue on his way. Everyone figured that what happens in Syria stays in Syria, so why worry?

Now, of course, everyone is worried big time. With the AP reporting that Islamic State has armed and trained 400 to 600 fighters for its European operations, talk of ISIS sleeper cells is ubiquitous. Referring to the Brussels district where the March 22 bombing plot was hatched, Patrick Kanner, the French social-democratic minister of youth, warned ominously: “There are today, as is well known, hundreds of neighborhoods in France that present potential similarities to what happened in Molenbeek.”

The implication was that the state of emergency should not only continue but deepen. As hundreds of neo-Nazis descended on Brussels chanting anti-immigrant slogans, paranoia took a giant leap forward as did its handmaidens racism and Islamophobia.

But as much everyone would like to blame it all on Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen and others of that ilk, none of this is really their fault. To the contrary, the West’s disastrous Syria policy is entirely the creation of nice-guy liberals like Barack Obama. Desperate to appease both Israel and the Sunni oil sheiks, all of whom for various reasons wanted Assad to go, he signed on to a massive Sunni jihad that has turned Syria into a charnel house.

With death estimates now running as high as 470,000, which is to say one person in nine, the idea that massive violence like this could remain confined to a single country was absurd to begin with. Yet Obama went along regardless.

Indeed, the administration is still unwilling to back down despite all that has happened since. When a reporter asked point-blank at a State Department press briefing, “Do you want to see the [Damascus] regime retake Palmyra or would you prefer that it stays in Daesh’s hands,” spokesman Mark Toner hemmed and hawed before finally admitting that a takeover was preferable because “we think Daesh is probably the greater evil in this case.” (Exchange starts at 1:05.)

But the next day he walked back even that mealy-mouthed statement. Refusing to endorse Palmyra’s fall at all, he declared: “I’m not going to laud it because it’s important to remember that one of the reasons Daesh is in Syria is because Assad’s brutal crackdown on his own people created the kind of vacuum, if you will, that has allowed a group like ISIL or Daesh to flourish. Just because he’s now, given the cessation of hostilities, willing and-or able to divert his forces to take on Daesh doesn’t exonerate him or his regime from the gross abuses that they’ve carried out against the Syrian people.”

Since Assad is the only one to blame, the U.S. doesn’t have to ponder its own contribution to the problem. Instead, it gives itself a clean bill of health and moves on. Rather, it would like to move on if only ISIS would let it.

But the more aid the U.S. and its allies funnel into the hands of Sunni terrorists, the more groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda will grow and the farther their reach will extend. The upshot will be more bombings and shootings in Paris, Brussels, and who knows where else. Racism and Islamophobia will continue to surge regardless of what bien-pensant liberals do to talk it down.

The liberal center is engineering its own demise.



Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kunduz Killers Go Free

Media Lens | March 31, 2016

On the night of October 3, 2015, a United States Air Force AC-130 gunship repeatedly attacked a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Forty-two people were killed and dozens wounded. The US military plane had conducted five strafing runs over the course of more than an hour despite MSF pleas to Afghan, US and Nato officials to call off the attack.

As we reported at the time, MSF were unequivocal in their condemnation of the American attack. The hospital was ‘intentionally targeted’ in ‘a premeditated massacre’; it was a ‘war crime’. The medical charity rejected US assurances of three inquiries by the US, Nato and the Afghan government. MSF demanded instead an independent international investigation. It was to no avail. The US ignored public outrage and went ahead with its standard whitewashing procedures when it commits war crimes that get exposed. The outcome was announced on March 18. BBC News reported:

‘The US military has disciplined more than a dozen service members after an air strike on a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Afghanistan killed 42 people last year.

‘The Pentagon has acknowledged that the clinic was targeted by mistake, but no personnel will face criminal charges.’

Note that the BBC wording – ‘the Pentagon has acknowledged that the clinic was targeted by mistake’ – is deceptive bias. The BBC made no mention that MSF had presented strong evidence that the clinic was ‘deliberately targeted’, that the attack was a ‘war crime’, and that there was an urgent need for an independent inquiry.

The BBC continued:

‘the sanctions, which were not made public, were mostly administrative.

‘Some received formal reprimands while others were suspended from duty.

‘Both officers and enlisted personnel were disciplined, but no generals were punished.’

MSF said that they would not comment until the Pentagon makes the details of its report public. (At the time of writing, this has yet to happen).

On the morning of March 18, we noted that the BBC’s report was, for a while at least, linked from the front page of its news website. But it was soon removed from this prominent position and instead buried deep in the international news section. This is not unusual when reporting the crimes of the West; if they are reported at all.

Our subsequent online searches revealed just four low-key, relatively brief newspaper reports in the British press that US personnel had been ‘punished’ for the Kunduz bombing: in the Independent, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph and the Guardian. The Telegraph reported that the Pentagon would shortly ‘publish a version of its report on the attack. It will be redacted to remove classified material.’ In other words: anything too embarrassing or damaging to US interests.

A few days later, on March 23, a tiny news item on page 34 of The Times carried the headline ‘US commander sorry for hospital attack’. The entirety of the piece, all of 61 words, was this:

‘The new commander of US-Nato forces in Afghanistan has apologised for a mistaken attack on a hospital in Kunduz last October that killed 42 people. General John Nicholson of the US army went to the northern city to meet relatives of those who died at the hospital run by the charity Médecins Sans Frontières. He said the incident was a “horrible tragedy”.’

As ever, Western atrocities are described as ‘tragedy’ rather than ‘war crime’. No other UK national newspaper, as far as we could see, even reported General Nicholson’s ‘apology’.

The New York Times did better, and included this telling quote from Zabiullah Niazi, a nurse who had lost an eye, a finger and the use of one hand, as well as suffering other injuries in the US attack:

‘They hit us six months ago and are apologizing now. The head of the provincial council and other officials who said we accept the apology, they wouldn’t have said it if they had lost their own son and eaten ashes, as we did.’

According to Mr. Niazi, General Nicholson did not even appear at an arranged meeting in the governor’s office with two survivors and male members of victims’ families. Instead, he made a speech in a packed auditorium where family members and survivors did not get a chance to speak. As a further sign of the tightly stage-managed proceedings, the general’s wife stopped by ‘for one minute to say hello and express sorrow’, said Mr Niazi. She spent more time – five minutes – with female survivors and family members in a separate room.

The general’s ‘apology’ was similarly dismissed by an Afghani doctor whose brother, also a doctor, was killed in the US attack. Dr. Karim Bajaouri said:

‘They are asking forgiveness for killing civilians?! They’re only making an apology? First they fire on civilians and then apologize. Personally, I don’t need such apologies, I do not accept them. Our moral wounds cannot be healed this way.’

The Guardian made a recent passing reference to Kunduz in an article by Simon Tisdall, an assistant editor and foreign affairs columnist. The focus of the piece was on Afghanistan as an election issue in the US Presidential race:

‘The fact that the most memorable US contribution to the battle for Kunduz was the destruction of a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital with the loss of at least 22 lives, none of them insurgents, only emphasised how hapless and haphazard the US mission in Afghanistan has become.’

(Oddly, Tisdall’s article was originally published on October 15, 2015, but then updated on March 29, 2016; presumably to include the above line.)

Once again, compliant ‘liberal’ journalism is marked by its readiness to label war crimes as merely ‘hapless’ and ‘haphazard’.

In the wake of the Pentagon’s announcement of ‘punishments’ for the Kunduz killers, an article on the Foreign Policy website noted:

‘Human rights advocates denounced the U.S. military’s decision not to file criminal charges against troops’.

Andrea Prasow of Human Rights Watch told Foreign Policy:

‘It’s incredibly disappointing and discouraging. We have come up with our own analysis of the case, and we think there should be a criminal investigation.’

As Prasow observed, the American military ‘has a vested interest in protecting its own’.

HRW added:

‘For good reason the victims’ family members will see this as both an injustice and an insult: the US military investigated itself and decided no crimes had been committed’.

The statement continued:

‘The failure to criminally investigate senior officials liable for the attack is not only an affront to the lives lost at the MSF hospital, but a blow against the rule of law in Afghanistan and elsewhere.’

Such comments contrast starkly with the bland indifference of the ‘liberal’ press.

Summing up, then, the reaction to the Pentagon’s ‘punishment’ of the Kunduz killers in the ‘mainstream’ press was as instructive as ever. True to form, we found not a single editorial or column denouncing this latest US whitewashing of US crimes.

Then again, it is standard practice for the Western media to mock Official Enemies, while being blind to the crimes of ‘our’ own Glorious Leaders.

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Derailing Peace Deal in Colombia

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | March 31, 2016

Cuban and U.S. leaders overcame immense obstacles to end more than a half century of confrontation between their countries with President Barack Obama’s visit to Havana. But they were unable to end more than a half century of political violence in Colombia by brokering a peace pact that was scheduled to be signed in Havana on March 23, one day after Obama departed.

That target date was set by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, during negotiations hosted by Cuban President Raúl Castro last September. Now the parties are aiming for a new deadline at the end of this year.

After 52 years of conflict, they are used to setbacks and delays. But the armed struggle has already killed more than 220,000 and claimed 7.9 million registered victims — including 77,000 who disappeared — so Colombia desperately needs peace and reconciliation as soon as possible.

The key sticking point concerns parties who are not at the negotiating table. They include a smaller but still potent rebel group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN. More important are right-wing and criminal paramilitary groups who have the motive and means to massacre FARC soldiers and their civilian sympathizers if they get the opportunity.

Until Bogota — and Washington — find a convincing way to restrain these paramilitary terrorists after FARC lays down its arms, Colombia will never find peace.

The peace process has made great strides over the past year. Overall violence is down. The government pardoned some FARC prisoners and helped them return to civilian life. FARC promised to end child recruitment and release children under the age of 15 from its ranks; it also conducted an historic ceremony of public apology for its part in killing civilians during a 2002 firefight with paramilitary forces. The two sides engaged in clearing mines for the first time this spring. They have jointly asked the United Nations Security Council to monitor an eventual ceasefire.

But the Colombian government demands that FARC guerrillas demobilize and hand over their weapons in remote rural “concentration zones.” They would be spared arrest as long as they remain in isolation. FARC insists that it be permitted to store weapons in the zones and be granted their freedom anywhere in the country.

Explaining the organization’s reluctance to totally disarm, a FARC negotiator pointedly questioned whether the government could guarantee their security in the face of paramilitary threats.

“In the last month, more than 28 community organizers, human rights defenders and peasant farmers have been murdered and their killers continue to enjoy impunity,” he said. “Solving the paramilitary problem the main challenge we are facing today, to help this process move ahead.”

Opposing the Peace Process

The U.N. Human Rights Council for Colombia reported in March that “diverse local interests and groups opposed to change resulting from the peace process” — including armed political and criminal groups engaged in land seizures, drug trafficking, illegal mining and extortion — “are already employing violence and intimidation to protect their interests, and the State has not had a sufficiently effective response.”

It added, with a strong affirmation of FARC’s concerns, that “demobilizing guerrillas . . . could also be vulnerable.”

Referring to right-wing death squads that annihilated supporters of a prominent leftist political party affiliated with FARC, the report declared, “The hundreds of assassinations of Unión Patriótica political party leaders and members in the 1980s and 1990s illustrate the elevated risk for new political movements. Security guarantees and transformation of the political reality are essential to avoid repetition of this situation.”

Many experts estimate that more than 2,000 Unión Patriótica members were murdered by right-wing death squads serving powerful drug lords and allied government security forces. The victims included two of the party’s presidential candidates, one elected senator, eight congressmen, 70 councilmen, and dozens of deputies and mayors. The assassination campaign ended a ceasefire reached by FARC and the government in 1987 and destroyed hopes for peace.

Much of this terrorist violence was perpetrated by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a paramilitary organization that eventually took over the cocaine trade from its original patron, the Medellín Cartel. The AUC enjoyed support from government and military officials who appreciated its help in the war against FARC (which also had dirty hands in the drug trade).

The AUC’s 30,000 members officially demobilized in 2006. Subsequent testimony by some of them helped convict 60 former congressmen and seven former governors for collaborating with the criminal organization. Former President Alvaro Uribe accepted money from the AUC for his 2002 presidential campaign; his brother Santiago was arrested in February on charges of helping to create a paramilitary group of his own.

The Colombian human rights group MOVICE reported in March that a new generation of criminal bands have launched a campaign of murder and intimidation to disrupt the current peace talks. Their victims include community leaders and peasants who claim their lands were illegally seized.

“I think part of the message [of the killings] is to intimidate the FARC, and let them know what awaits them if they enter politics,” said a MOVICE spokesman.

Rightist Drug Lords

Chief among the threats to FARC and its community supporters is Colombia’s most powerful drug trafficking organization, “Los Urabeños,” which has muscled its way into many former guerrilla territories and today controls much of the country’s Caribbean coast. It is a direct successor to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.

“We feel obligated to continue our anti-subversive fight,” a spokesman for Los Urabeños declared soon after the group announced it formation.

The Santos government has made genuine moves to seek justice against the instigators of political violence. It recently arrested a senior general on charges of overseeing the grisly killing of thousands of civilians whom the Army falsely claimed were guerrillas in order to inflate body counts and win bonuses.

State prosecutors also said they will arrest a former head of the army — and ally of former President Uribe — for the same crime, known as the “false positives” scandal.

According to Human Rights Watch, at least 16 active and retired army generals are currently under investigation by the Attorney General’s office for “false positive” killings, and about 800 lower-ranking soldiers have been convicted. But human rights groups warn that rules tentatively worked out by the government and FARC to promote reconciliation by granting immunity for war crimes could prevent further prosecution of false positive cases.

The United States, which bears a heavy responsibility for promoting state violence and the growth of paramilitary organizations to combat communism in Colombia in the 1950s and 1960s, can make partial amends by supporting President Santos’s efforts at reconciliation while pressing to see that justice is served by holding war criminals accountable.

In the interests of peace and justice, Washington should also offer all reasonable aid to help Colombia suppress organizations like Los Urabeños that continue the terrible legacy of previous terrorist and criminal paramilitary groups.

As Adam Isacson, a Colombia security analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, noted recent murders by the new generation of paramilitary forces “make it a lot harder for the FARC leadership to convince their rank and file to demobilize. The U.S. has to make it clear that the paramilitaries…are right up there with the Zetas, Sinaloa [cartels] and the MS-13 as security threats, because of their ability to threaten a peaceful outcome in Colombia.”



Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012).

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

A ‘Silent Coup’ for Brazil?

By Ted Snider | Consortium News | March 30, 2016

Brazil keeps its coups quiet (or at least quieter than many other Latin American countries). During the Cold War, there was much more attention to overt military regime changes often backed by the CIA, such as the overthrow of Guatemala’s Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, the ouster of Chile’s Salvador Allende in 1973 and even Argentina’s “dirty war” coup in 1976, than to Brazil’s 1964 coup that removed President João Goulart from power.

Noam Chomsky has called Goulart’s government “mildly social democratic.” Its replacement was a brutal military dictatorship.

In more modern times, Latin American coups have shed their image of overt military takeovers or covert CIA actions. Rather than tanks in the streets and grim-looking generals rounding up political opponents – today’s coups are more like the “color revolutions” used in Eastern Europe and the Mideast in which leftist, socialist or perceived anti-American governments were targeted with “soft power” tactics, such as economic dislocation, sophisticated propaganda, and political disorder often financed by “pro-democracy” non-governmental organizations (or NGOs).

This strategy began to take shape in the latter days of the Cold War as the CIA program of arming Nicaraguan Contra rebels gave way to a U.S. economic strategy of driving Sandinista-led Nicaragua into abject poverty, combined with a political strategy of spending on election-related NGOs by the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, setting the stage for the Sandinistas’ political defeat in 1990.

During the Obama administration, this strategy of non-violent “regime change” in Latin America has gained increasing favor, as with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s decisive support for the 2009 ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya who had pursued a moderately progressive domestic policy that threatened the interests of the Central American nation’s traditional oligarchy and foreign investors.

Unlike the earlier military-style coups, the “silent coups” never take off their masks and reveal themselves as coups. They are coups disguised as domestic popular uprisings which are blamed on the misrule of the targeted government. Indeed, the U.S. mainstream media will go to great lengths to deny that these coups are even coups.

The new coups are cloaked in one of two disguises. In the first, a rightist minority that lost at the polls will allege “fraud” and move its message to the streets as an expression of “democracy”; in the second type, the minority cloaks its power grab behind the legal or constitutional workings of the legislature or the courts, such as was the case in ousting President Zelaya in Honduras in 2009.

Both strategies usually deploy accusations of corruption or dictatorial intent against the sitting government, charges that are trumpeted by rightist-owned news outlets and U.S.-funded NGOs that portray themselves as “promoting democracy,” seeking “good government” or defending “human rights.” Brazil today is showing signs of both strategies.

Brazil’s Boom

First, some background: In 2002, the Workers’ Party’s (PT) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva came to power with 61.3 percent of the vote. Four years later, he was returned to power with a still overwhelming 60.83 percent. Lula da Silva’s presidency was marked by extraordinary growth in Brazil’s economy and by landmark social reforms and domestic infrastructure investments.

In 2010, at the end of Lula da Silva’s presidency, the BBC provided a typical account of his successes: “Number-crunchers say rising incomes have catapulted more than 29 million Brazilians into the middle class during the eight-year presidency of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former trade unionist elected in 2002. Some of these people are beneficiaries of government handouts and others of a steadily improving education system. Brazilians are staying in school longer, which secures them higher wages, which drives consumption, which in turn fuels a booming domestic economy.”

However, in Brazil, a two-term president must sit out a full term before running again. So, in 2010, Dilma Rousseff ran as Lula da Silva’s chosen successor. She won a majority 56.05 percent of the vote. When, in 2014, Rousseff won re-election with 52 percent of the vote, the right-wing opposition Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) went into a panic.

This panic was not just because democracy was failing as a method for advancing right-wing goals, nor was the panic just over the fourth consecutive victory by the more left-wing PT. The panic became desperation when it became clear that, after the PT had succeeded in holding onto power while Lula da Silva was constitutionally sidelined, he was likely returning as the PT’s presidential candidate in 2018.

After all, Lula da Silva left office with an 80 percent approval rating. Democracy, it seemed, might never work for the PSDB. So, the “silent coup” playbook was opened. As the prescribed first play, the opposition refused to accept the 2014 electoral results despite never proffering a credible complaint. The second move was taking to the streets.

A well-organized and well-funded minority whose numbers were too small to prevail at the polls can still create lots of noise and disruption in the streets, manufacturing the appearance of a powerful democratic movement. Plus, these protests received sympathetic coverage from the corporate media of both Brazil and the United States.

The next step was to cite corruption and begin the process for a constitutional coup in the form of impeachment proceedings against President Rousseff. Corruption, of course, is a reliable weapon in this arsenal because there is always some corruption in government which can be exaggerated or ignored as political interests dictate.

Allegations of corruption also can be useful in dirtying up popular politicians by making them appear to be only interested in lining their pockets, a particularly effective line of attack against leaders who appear to be working to benefit the people. Meanwhile, the corruption of U.S.-favored politicians who are lining their own pockets much more egregiously is often ignored by the same media and NGOs.

Removing Leaders

In recent years, this type of “constitutional” coup was used in Honduras to get rid of democratically elected President Zelaya. He was whisked out of Honduras through a kidnapping at gunpoint that was dressed up as a constitutional obligation mandated by a court after Zelaya announced a plebiscite to determine whether Hondurans wanted to draft a new constitution.

The hostile political establishment in Honduras falsely translated his announcement into an unconstitutional intention to seek reelection, i.e., the abuse-of-power ruse. The ability to stand for a second term would be considered in the constitutional discussions, but was never announced as an intention by Zelaya.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court declared the President’s plebiscite unconstitutional and the military kidnapped Zelaya. The Supreme Court charged Zelaya with treason and declared a new president: a coup in constitutional disguise, one that was condemned by many Latin American nations but was embraced by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

This coup pattern reoccurred in Paraguay when right-wing Frederico Franco took the presidency from democratically elected, left-leaning Fernando Lugo in what has been called a parliamentary coup. As in Honduras, the coup was made to look like a constitutional transition. In the Paraguay case, the right-wing opposition opportunistically capitalized on a skirmish over disputed land that left at least 11 people dead to unfairly blame the deaths on President Lugo. It then impeached him after giving him only 24 hours to prepare his defense and only two hours to deliver it.

Brazil is manifesting what could be the third example of this sort of coup in Latin America during the Obama administration.

Operation Lava Jato began in Brazil in March of 2014 as a judicial and police investigation into government corruption. Lava Jato is usually translated as “Car Wash” but, apparently, is better captured as “speed laundering” with the connotation of corruption and money laundering.

Operation Lava Jato began as the uncovering of political bribery and misuse of money, revolving around Brazil’s massive oil company Petrobras. The dirt – or political influence-buying – that needed washing stuck to all major political parties in a corrupt system, according to Alfredo Saad Filho, Professor of Political Economy at the SAOS University of London.

But Brazil’s political Right hijacked the investigation and turned a legitimate judicial investigation into a political coup attempt.

According to Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Professor of Sociology at the University of Coimbra in Portugal and Distinguished Legal Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, although Operation Lava Jato “involves the leaders of various parties, the fact is that Operation Lava Jato – and its media accomplices – have shown to be majorly inclined towards implicating the leaders of PT (the Workers’ Party), with the by now unmistakable purpose of bringing about the political assassination of President Dilma Rousseff and former President Lula da Silva.”

De Sousa Santos called the political repurposing of the judicial investigation “glaringly” and “crassly selective,” and he indicts the entire operation in its refitted form as “blatantly illegal and unconstitutional.” Alfredo Saad Filho said the goal is to “inflict maximum damage” on the PT “while shielding other parties.”

Neutralizing Lula

The ultimate goal of the coup in democratic disguise is to neutralize Lula da Silva. Criminal charges — which Filho describes as “stretched” — have been brought against Lula da Silva. On March 4, he was detained for questioning. President Rousseff then appointed Lula da Silva as her Chief of Staff, a move which the opposition represented as an attempt to use ministerial status to protect him from prosecution by any body other than the Supreme Court.

But Filho says this representation is based on an illegally recorded and illegally released conversation between Rousseff and Lula da Silva. The conversation, Filho says, was then “misinterpreted” to allow it to be “presented as ‘proof’ of a conspiracy to protect Lula.” De Sousa Santos added that “President Dilma Rousseff’s cabinet has decided to include Lula da Silva among its ministers. It is its right to do so and no institution, least of all the judiciary, has the power to prevent it.”

No “presidential crime warranting an impeachment has emerged,” according to Filho.

As in Honduras and Paraguay, an opposition that despairs of its ability to remove the elected government through democratic instruments has turned to undemocratic means that it hopes to disguise as judicial and constitutional. In the case of Brazil, Professor de Sousa Santos calls this coup in democratic disguise a “political-judicial coup.”

In both Honduras and Paraguay, the U.S. government, though publicly insisting that it wasn’t involved, privately knew the machinations were coups. Less than a month after the Honduran coup, the White House, State Department and many others were in receipt of a frank cable from the U.S. embassy in Honduras calling the coup a coup.

Entitled “Open and Shut: the Case of the Honduran Coup,” the embassy said, “There is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup.” The cable added, “none of the . . . arguments [of the coup defenders] has any substantive validity under the Honduran constitution.”

As for Paraguay, U.S. embassy cables said Lugo’s political opposition had as its goal to “Capitalize on any Lugo missteps” and “impeach Lugo and assure their own political supremacy.” The cable noted that to achieve their goal, they are willing to “legally” impeach Lugo “even if on spurious grounds.”

Professor de Sousa Santos said U.S. imperialism has returned to its Latin American “backyard” in the form of NGO development projects, “organizations whose gestures in defense of democracy are just a front for covert, aggressive attacks and provocations directed at progressive governments.”

He said the U.S. goal is “replacing progressive governments with conservative governments while maintaining the democratic façade.” He claimed that Brazil is awash in financing from American sources, including “CIA-related organizations.” (The National Endowment for Democracy was created in 1983, in part to do somewhat openly what the CIA had previously done covertly, i.e., finance political movements that bent to Washington’s will.)

History will tell whether Brazil’s silent coup will succeed. History may also reveal what the U.S. government’s knowledge and involvement may be.

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canadian politicians controlled by the transnational oligarchy?

By Mark Taliano | American Herald Tribune | March 31 ,2016

Canada is being colonized by a Washington-led, transnational oligarchy. As with any colony, we are losing our political and economic self-determination and sovereignty.

We are increasingly a cog in an imperial apparatus of top down control and exploitation, and our economy is being re-structured to serve transnational oligarch interests. Wealth and power is increasingly concentrated upwards into the criminal hands of domestic and foreign oligarch classes.

We are being driven like cattle by a “full spectrum” apparatus of domination and control.

Synthetic terror events are engineering our consent to impoverishment, police state oppression, and criminal, genocidal foreign policy decisions.

We are supporting and inciting terrorism when we sell military armaments to Wahabbi Saudi Arabia. We are committing war crimes when we support and enable the neo-Nazi junta in the Ukraine, and when we support and enable ISIS in Syria. Writer Sharmine Narwani decodes the Syrian crisis here.

 Interview starts at 3:00

All of this passes beneath the radar of public awareness because the oligarch class has,  increasingly, “full spectrum” control: Corporate mainstream messaging is increasingly an engineered façade of lies, distortions, and omissions that furthers a pre-ordained agenda of permanent, globalized war and poverty.

Transnational corporate sovereignty deals are an economic arm of the transnational ruling class. Agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) entrench oligarchic control and supremacy over our political economy through Investor- State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses, mechanisms wherein supranational secret tribunals and appointed lawyers are the final adjudicators.

An article by David Korten, in Yes magazine, “A Trade Rule that Makes It Illegal to Favor Local Business? Newest Leak Shows TPP Would Do That And More,” identifies and explains the impacts of the TPP, should it be ratified, using these headings:

  • Favouring local ownership is prohibited
  • Corporations must be paid to stop polluting
  • Three lawyers will decide who is right in secret tribunals
  • Speculative money must remain free
  • Corporate interests come before national ones

This predatory political economy creates poverty and disemployment in a myriad ways – the TPP alone is predicted cost Canada 58,000 jobs — as public dollars are funnelled to the transnational oligarchs through privatization schemes, de-regulated exploitation of national resources, reduced taxes, and military expenditures.

Instead of embracing P3 schemes, Canada should insist on (100%) publicly- funded hospitals and healthcare.  In an article entitled “ ‘Privatization’ Is the Problem, Not the Solution,”  the author demonstrates the wasteful squandering of public resources in the healthcare field alone:

  • Ontario paid 75 per cent more to for-profit labs than it had to non-profit community labs over the previous 30 years, for the same tests.
  • Public-private partnerships are 83 per cent costlier to finance than public projects.
  • Canadians spend roughly half of what the private U.S. system spends per person and we get better coverage and outcomes.
  • Studies comparing U.S. and Canadian outcomes for heart attacks, cancer, surgical procedures and chronic conditions show that Canada does at least as well, often better.
  • A recent Canadian study found that expedited knee surgery in a for-profit clinic costs $3,222 compared to $959 in a public hospital (with worse return-to-work outcomes).

We are also being exploited by the financial sector. Instead of borrowing from private international and domestic institutions, and paying compound interest on government loans, Canada should be borrowing interest-free from its publicly-owned Bank of Canada – as it did until 1974 — when the debt and deficit were miniscule compared to today. Murray Dobbins explains in “Liberate the Bank of Canada, Intrepid Think Tank Urges|Canadians have been fleeced for billions, but no traction in media for complex banking case,” that by 2012, Canadians had paid one trillion (CAN) dollars in interest to private banks.

What additional steps can we take to de-colonize this country from its transnational colonizers?

  • First, we should reject the TPP agreement and any transnational agreement that is bundled with an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause.
  • Second, we should (continue to) decode and reject the lies and distortions of the criminal warmongers and the military-industrial-media complex.
  • Third, we need to establish an independent foreign policy that complies with the rule of international law.

Each of these steps would help us break free from the toxic shackles of globalized war and poverty that “benefits” only a miniscule oligarch class.  The current neo-con misgovernance is creating and perpetuating catastrophes – such as the 911 wars — instead of productively addressing catastrophes – such as catastrophic global warming. A global shift towards common sense and the common good is long overdue.

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli forces demolish walls in home of slain Palestinian attacker

Israeli forces demolish the home of Ihab Maswada in Hebron on March 31, 2016. (Photo: Israeli army)
Ma’an – March 31, 2016

HEBRON – Israeli forces late Wednesday demolished part of the home belonging to the family of a Palestinian who was shot dead after stabbing an Israeli settler in December.

Locals said that Israeli forces closed all the entrances of the Jabal al-Sharif area in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, and deployed heavily around the home of Ihab Fathi Maswada, as well as the house of Abd al-Rahman Yusri Maswada.

Ihab Maswada was killed on Dec. 7 after carrying out a stabbing attack against a settler near the Abu al-Rish checkpoint in southern Hebron. The Israeli settler succumbed to his wounds weeks later.

Maswada’s cousin, Abd al-Rahman, was killed on site on Dec. 9 after stabbing two Israelis on al-Shuhada Street.

Ihab Maswada’s brother said Israeli soldiers only gave the family ten minutes to evacuate the house, forcing them to go on the house’s second floor while they demolished the internal walls of the home.

Maswada’s mother said that Israeli soldiers then “fired a stun grenade inside the house and left the house laughing.”

Israeli authorities first issued a demolition order for Maswada’s home in early February, but had already threatened to destroy the house days after his death. His father said the demolition order was issued three days ago and that soldiers told them the demolition would be carried out in a week.

“We were surprised when they showed up after midnight,” he said.

Punitive home demolitions were expedited at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in mid-October, and many have been carried out since.

The move came despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that the practice does not deter attacks.While families who receive demolition orders are given the opportunity to appeal the measures, Israel’s High Court of Justice typically rejects such appeals, according to Israeli watchdog Hamoked.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem condemned the practice in October as “court sanctioned revenge,” carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment.

Israeli forces demolish the home of Ihab Maswada on March 31, 2016 in Hebron. (Photo: Israeli army)

Israeli forces demolish the home of Ihab Maswada on March 31, 2016 in Hebron. (Photo: Israeli army)

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Philip Hammond has a funny way of showing his commitment to ‘international norms’

By Danielle Ryan | RT | March 31, 2016

Gone are the good ol’ days when Russia was only a ‘threat’ to countries on its periphery. Moscow now represents a threat to “all of us” according to British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

Speaking to Reuters during a trip to Georgia, Hammond said Russia was a threat to all countries on the basis that it “ignores the norms of international conduct and breaks the rules of the international system” — and this, he said “represents a challenge and a threat to all of us.”

The first, but most minor point to make here is that Russia’s allies would probably beg to differ. Hammond’s comments are a prime example of the flippant way in which leaders and representatives of Western nations make sweeping statements about “us all” or the “international community” when what they actually mean is “us and our friends.”

But, like I said, that is a minor issue in comparison to the outrageously hypocritical reasoning Hammond gave to justify his opinion.

International law, except not for us

In March 2014, Curtis FJ Doebbler, a professor of international law in the Faculty of International Relations at Webster University in Geneva wrote for CounterPunch that “like any source of law, a large part of the legitimacy of international law depends on its equal application to all.” This, demonstrably, has not been the case when it comes to the United States.

American lawyers and diplomats, Doebbler continued, have attempted to twist international law “into an instrument justifying the actions of the United States, while criticizing the actions of other States based on misinterpretations or misapplication” of that law.

There simply can be no question mark here. It is incontrovertibly true. To get through all the examples of Washington’s blatant disregard for international law would take an eternity. But let’s do a quick recap of some of the more egregious examples:

  • US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, illegal under international law: Civilian death toll up for debate, a Guardian report estimated that as many as 20,000 could have been killed in the first year of conflict alone.
  • US invasion of Iraq in 2003, illegal under international law: Left one million dead, according to various reports.
  • NATO intervention in Libya in 2011 violated the parameters of the UN resolution permitting NATO action, hence also illegal. The intervention left scores of civilians dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. Libya, once the richest country in Africa, is now a failed state.
  • US bombing of Syria in 2014, illegal under international law. Washington has been given no authority to carry out airstrikes in Syria. Nor, by the way, has the United Kingdom (maybe someone should tell Hammond?)
  • Ongoing use of drone strikes, killing hundreds of innocents, including children.
  • Continued use of Guantanamo Bay for indefinite detention and torture of people ‘perceived’ as threats. In one of the grossest injustices, Shaker Aamer was held at Guantanamo for 13 years without trial or charge before finally being reunited with his family in the UK.

None of this is up for debate — and yet Hammond has not, to my knowledge, classified the United States as a threat to “all of us”. If breaking international law is the benchmark here, it would follow that he probably should.

What’s an invasion or two among friends?

Unfortunately, as Hammond has just displayed, Western nations often confuse ‘consensus among friends’ to mean ‘legal’. As such, they believe that none of their actions deserve to be scrutinized in the same manner as the actions of their declared enemies. This however, does not stop them from using the subject of international law as an “instrument of political rhetoric” to condemn other countries.

Washington has displayed such flagrant disregard for international “norms” and the “rules of the international system” so consistently and so appalling that the world has become desensitized to it. To acknowledge the sheer scale of the horror that has been unleashed by our collective indifference is too uncomfortable. Our best bet is to distract ourselves with a convenient bogeyman.

Hammond might be happy to bury his head in the sand, but it doesn’t make what he is saying any less ridiculous when all the facts are laid on the table.

What Hammond really means

And it’s not the first time Hammond has hugely exaggerated (or fabricated, if you prefer) the threat Russia poses to the UK. In March of last year, he said Russia could potentially pose the “single greatest threat” to Britain’s security. It’s unclear what kind of alternate universe you need to be living in to believe this, but what is clear is that Hammond has upped sticks and taken residence there.

The truth is, what Hammond and his neighbors in cuckoo-land really mean when they say these things is that Russia is a threat to Western dominance; the dominance that allows their own breaches of international law to go unchecked and unpunished and anyone else’s to be amplified a thousand-fold. Any threat or challenge to that hegemony in international affairs is unacceptable. And that, more than anything, is the threat which Russia represents.

The funny thing is, Hammond probably doesn’t think that’s what he means. He probably genuinely believes that Russia threatens the security of Britain. Whether he thinks this conflict might take the form of an invasion, an unprovoked nuclear attack, information warfare or something else, he has probably convinced himself that there really is cause for huge concern. After all, he has admitted that for “anyone over the age of about 50” fearing Russia is familiar territory. He is not an expert on today’s Russia, its political system or its foreign policy. All he really has to go on are his bad memories of the Cold War and whatever terribly misinformed advice he is being given.

But threat or no threat, if the “rules of the international system” are really that important to Philip Hammond, he’s got a funny way of showing it.



Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance journalist and media analyst. She has lived in the US and Germany and is currently based in Moscow. She previously worked as a digital desk reporter for the Sunday Business Post in Dublin. She studied political reporting at the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism in Washington, DC and also has a degree in business and German. She focuses on US foreign policy, US-Russia relations and media bias.

See also:

Britain’s Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove: Enemy Russia moving into the dark under Putin

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are Saudis buying Israeli drones through South Africa?

RT | March 31, 2016

Saudi Arabia announced that it is building a drone plant in cooperation with South Africa, but a well-known Saudi defense analyst claimed this is a guise to hide the clandestine purchases of aircraft from Israel.

The analyst, who calls himself “Mujtahid” has been leaking exclusive information about the royal family of Saudi Arabia on Twitter since the early 2000s. He challenged the official report released by the Saudi Defense Ministry this week, which stated the kingdom would build a drone factory in collaboration with South Africa.

“The report aims to hide the fact that Saudi Arabia intends to purchase drones from Israel via South Africa,” he said.

“Saudi Arabia buys Israeli drones through South Africa. These drones later arrive from South Africa, dismantled, to Saudi Arabia, where they are assembled,” Mujtahid added, describing the mechanism developed to carry out the Israeli-Saudi deal.

He went on to accuse Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who is Saudi Defense Minister and, according to some experts, the country’s second most powerful person, of serving Israel’s interest by purchasing drones from the Jewish state.

Saudi Arabia has been trying for years to strengthen its armed forces with drone capabilities. In 2010, General Atomics, the US producer of the Predator drone family, announced it had acquired export licenses for a number of Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia. Export to Saudi Arabia has so far failed to materialize, even though a similar deal with the United Arab Emirates was approved by the US Congress in 2015.

As supplies from its primary arms supplier were hanging in limbo, Riyadh was reportedly looking for alternative sellers of the technology. In 2013, reports said Saudi Arabia would be buying reconnaissance drones from the South African arms manufacturer Denel Dynamics. Last year, some reports said both the Saudis and the Emirates had managed to buy ground attack drones from China for their stalling Yemeni campaign.

Israel is one of the world’s leading producers of drones, but selling the technology to Saudi Arabia would be politically disastrous, as public opinion in both Israel and the Arab nation would be strongly against such a deal.

The two countries were said to have some military cooperation in their mutual rivalry with regional competitor Iran. Some reports suggested Israel and Saudi Arabia had discussed the possibility of an Israeli attack through Saudi airspace against Iranian nuclear sites amid the tense negotiation for a nuclear deal between Tehran and six leading world powers.

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

The Myth of America’s War on Terrorism

By Stephen Lendman | March 31, 2016

It’s a complete hoax – a phony pretext for waging endless imperial wars, wanting whole continents carved up for profit and dominance.

Fictitious enemies are created. Premeditated wars of aggression follow. Rules of engagement are changed from rule of law observance to anything goes.

America declared war on humanity, the greatest threat to life on earth, using terrorist groups to do much of its dirty work.

Their names don’t matter. Earlier US supported anti-Soviet Afghan mujahadeen forces became opposition Taliban fighters.

ISIS, Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra and likeminded groups are similar. Names and faces change, not methods of operation other than access to more modern weapons and new funding sources.

Obama’s vow to degrade and destroy ISIS (and by implication likeminded terrorist groups) is a complete fabrication, the public willfully deceived to believe otherwise.

Washington backs the scourge it claims to oppose – along with rogue allies providing ISIS and other terrorist groups with arms, munitions, training, funding, direction and other material support. They couldn’t exist without it.

Media scoundrels front for power and privilege, perpetuating the Big Lie about America combating terrorism instead of explaining what news consumers need to know – The New York Times as willfully deceptive as Fox News.

Its editors say “America needs frank talk on ISIS,” never explaining it created and supports the group.

They lied, claiming “Obama authorized…airstrikes in Iraq and Syria in 2014 to curb the rise of the Islamic State.”

Syrian intervention was and continues to be flagrantly illegal without Security Council or Damascus authorization. Baghdad was pressured to let Washington to maintain the fiction of combatting ISIS.

In both countries, infrastructure and government sites are struck, ISIS and other terrorists aided. Thousands of US combat forces are in Iraq, likely more coming, limited numbers in Syria.

Russia alone along with Syrian ground forces achieved significant victories against ISIS and likeminded groups.

The Obama administration lied, claiming US warplanes cut ISIS revenues by striking its oil trucks and other targets. It says “intensif(ied) airstrikes and raids” are coming.

America’s air campaign in Iraq and Syria have been ongoing for over 18 months. ISIS advanced steadily until Russia intervened in Syria.

Instead of exposing Obama’s phony war on terror, his lawless aggression, using ISIS and other terrorist groups as imperial foot soldiers, The Times perpetuates the myth of combating a scourge America supports.



Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Russia calls on US, UK to disclose abuses during ‘war on terror’

By Dr Alexander Yakovenko | RT | March 31, 2016

Maintaining the integrity of the judicial system is a cornerstone in ensuring fundamental human rights and freedoms, especially for those, who were persecuted when legal proceedings were bypassed or under a political pretext.

On March 23 at the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) a Russian draft resolution called Judicial System Integrity was adopted by consensus. The resolution was co-sponsored by Algeria, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco and Venezuela. This is an example of the key role UNHRC member states play in strengthening the legal human rights framework.

The resolution calls upon countries that operate military courts or criminal tribunals ensure they are set up as a part of the national judicial systems and meet internationally recognized principles of justice. It is important that anyone under a state’s jurisdiction enjoys all the rights and has access to a common judicial system.

Failure to comply with international standards results in systematic violations of human rights. Dozens of prisoners are held in the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay with no fair trial, no right to a defense or to appeal and are outside the legal framework. The resolution calls for the immediate shutting down all secret detention facilities as well as to hold an immediate independent and unbiased investigation into all the cases of so-called “extraordinary renditions”, secret detention, torture and abusive treatment, including under the pretext of combating terrorism.

I have no doubt this resolution will help bring all those involved in such illegal activity to justice, and help international human rights organizations push for full disclosure by the US, UK and other governments of all abuses committed in the name of ‘war on terror’.

Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment