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‘No legitimate military objectives’: UN panel finds Saudi strikes in Yemen may amount to war crimes

RT | January 29, 2017

An expert UN panel investigating ten separate airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen – in which at least 292 civilians died – has found that most were the result of an ‘ineffective targeting process’ or deliberate attacks on peaceful targets.

“In eight of the 10 investigations, the panel found no evidence that the airstrikes had targeted legitimate military objectives,” the 63-page report presented to the UN Security Council on Friday stated, which has been obtained by Reuters. “For all 10 investigations, the panel considers it almost certain that the coalition did not meet international humanitarian law requirements of proportionality and precautions in attack.”

“The panel considers that some of the attacks may amount to war crimes,” the experts said, echoing statements repeatedly made by independent observers since conflict broke out in the country two years ago.

The small subset of attacks, which took place between March and October last year, resulted in the deaths of over 100 women in children. Earlier this month, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, estimated that more than 10,000 people have been killed in the war so far, with many of them the victims of air strikes.

Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, flatly denied responsibility, saying the coalition – which includes Gulf states such as Qatar and Kuwait – was “exercising maximum restraint and rigorous rules of engagement.”

The panel also stated that the alliance admitted that some of their airstrikes resulted in severe casualties, which was not the desired outcome.

“In some cases errors were acknowledged and responsibility accepted. Corrective measures including compensation to victims were taken,” the authors of the report wrote.

The UN panel said that although it was unable to travel to the bombing sites, it still “maintained the highest achievable standard of proof,”  and insisted the specific cases studied were part of a wider trend.

“The panel finds that violations associated with the conduct of the air campaign are sufficiently widespread to reflect either an ineffective targeting process or a broader policy of attrition against civilian infrastructure,” proclaimed the report. “All coalition member states and their allies also have an obligation to take appropriate measures to ensure respect for international humanitarian law by the coalition.”

The UN group also dismissed Saudi explanations that the devastating naval blockade of Yemen had been imposed because Iran was supplying Shia Houthi rebels with weapons.

“The panel has not seen sufficient evidence to confirm any direct large-scale supply of arms from the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, although there are indicators that anti-tank guided weapons being supplied to the Houthi or Saleh forces are of Iranian manufacture,” said the report, which said 2,064 weapons seized on boats off the coast, had possible “direct” links with Iran.

The UN criticized the blockade for its “disproportionate impact” on civilians, saying the country, 90 percent of whose food supplies are imported, is on the verge of famine. Yemen was already one of the region’s poorest states before the current crisis, but according to the UN, 14.1 million people – over half of the population – are “food insecure,” and over two-thirds require humanitarian assistance, due to internal displacement, lack of medical supplies and clean drinking water.

Despite the devastating conclusions of the latest UN report, the US and UK, which are not directly taking part in the bombardment and blockade of Yemen, have avoided directly criticizing Riyadh, a longtime ally.

“We urge all sides to take steps to prevent harm to civilians. Ending the conflict in Yemen requires a durable cessation of hostilities and a comprehensive political solution,” the US State Department said in a statement.

The British mission to the UN, while refusing to comment on the specific incidents mentioned in the report said, “We take reports of alleged violations of international humanitarian law by actors in the conflict very seriously.”

Both the US and the UK have been major suppliers of arms to the Saudis. In September 2016, Reuters reports, the US Senate cleared the way for a $1.15 billion sale of tanks and other military equipment to kingdom. Saudi Arabia has also been buying arms from the UK – with estimated purchases at some 3.3 billion pounds. That includes more than 2.2 billion worth of warplanes, helicopters and drones.

Read more:

US soldier killed in Yemen raid on Al-Qaeda, local officials say women & children among casualties

Severely malnourished Yemeni children in urgent need of help filmed by RT Arabic (DISTURBING IMAGES)

January 29, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

‘US has committed worse crimes than entry ban of Muslims’

Press TV – January 29, 2017

US President Donald Trump’s banning of Muslims from entering the country is reprehensible but not the worst crime that Washington has committed over the past years, says a political commentator in London.

Catherine Shakdam, the programs director of Shafaqna Institute for Mideast Studies, made the remarks during an interview with Press TV about Trump’s recent anti-immigration orders.

Trump signed a new executive order on Friday, indefinitely blocking the entry of Syrian refugees while suspending the entry of any immigrants from Syria and other Muslim countries like Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen for 90 days.

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Sunday that Trump should be blocked from making his planned state visit to Britain as long as his “Muslim ban” policy remains in place.

During her visit to Washington, UK Prime Minister Theresa May said Saturday that Trump had accepted an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II to visit Britain later in the year.

Shakdam said while Corbyn’s remarks were refreshing, they were “hypocritical” in a sense, given Corbyn and other British politicians’ silence during Washington’s “crimes” against Muslim nations.

“I don’t think that it is going to translate into anything technically on the ground,” Shakdam said, arguing that Corbyn had other objectives in mind as well.

“Corbyn is kind of toeing the line as well, trying to come across as a demagogue and giving the people what they want to hear,” she argued.

“If people feel the need to come and criticize this immigration ban, visa ban.. it is all well-endured,” she went on. “But I don’t recall people being particularly angry when they found out for example that the US was doing renditions,” or attacked Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria.

“Personally, I do not think it is the worst thing that America has committed in terms of crime or idiotic policy over the past decades,” she concluded.

January 29, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes | | 1 Comment

The Rebranding of the Anti-Syria Left

Part 1: The Anti-Anti-War-Left

By Barbara McKenzie | November 23, 2016

One could argue that for any serious student of the Middle East, using a range of sources, the approved narrative on the Syrian conflict should have been suspect from the outset: the precedents of Iraq and Libya and the accompanying lies, the well-reported lack of interest in revolution on the part of the Syrian people, the quickly developing violence in contrast with the ready accommodations of the government in terms of reform and release of political prisoners, the dominant role of brutal sectarian gangs in a traditionally tolerant and pluralist society. Those trying to find the truth of the Syrian war, however, found themselves opposed from an unexpected quarter.

There is a large body of commentators in the West who define themselves as ‘left’, ‘progressive’ and ‘anti-imperialist’ insofar as they condemn Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. Their claimed support for the Palestinians is offset by virulently opposing anything that threatens Israel’s interests in other areas, such as investigation into the role of Mossad’s activities outside of Israel. Israel’s interests are likewise to the fore when it comes to drastic change in Syria (seen by Hillary Clinton as essential to Israel’s interests as far back as 2006) – the ‘soft Zionists’ have been promoting the externally created revolution in Syria from the outset.

The Thirdwayers

Sharing most of these characteristics are a group of people who espouse a ‘third way’ whereby ostensible anti-imperialists criticise their governments’ interventionist policies but at the same time have promoted the revolution and been determined opponents of the Syrian government. While in theory they oppose external intervention, they at the same time facilitate such intervention by peddling propaganda to that end.

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For five years, people like Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton and Rania Khalek have actively promoted forced regime change in Syria, insisting on the validity of the popular revolution, characterising the Syrian president as a butcher, and alternately vilifying and patronising those who were unconvinced by the NATO narrative.

At the same time there has been no attempt by proponents of the Syrian war to engage with the anti-war activists who have been carrying out and sharing research on the conflict –  instead they have contented themselves with unfounded slurs on the intellect and integrity of supporters of Syria.

However, ripples have been going through social media in recent months as these seemingly diehard opponents to the Syrian government  have moved to taking a more nuanced view of the conflict. This was quickly picked up by eagle-eyed users of twitter who have been following the war on Syria for years…

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In order to consider the significance and extent of this shift in perspective, it is worth looking back at the views espoused by the thirdwayers over the years

The popular revolution

Long after the violent, sectarian and fundamentally un-Syrian nature of the uprising was revealed along with its external impetus, diehards were still promoting the idea of a popular revolution, with a sentimental attachment to the Free Syrian Army well after its use-by date. While atrocity stories to the disfavour of the ‘Assad thugs’ (Syrian Arab Army) were quickly shared, those which show the ‘revolutionaries’ in an unfavourable light were ignored or speedily forgotten: By 2012 there was abundant proof of FSA atrocities, including cannibalism, decapitation and sectarian massacres, but this did not stop Blumenthal tweeting approvingly in August ‘Protest in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights in support of the #Syrian revolution’.

Thus in August 2014, when most people were discarding the fiction of Syria’s moderate rebels, Ben Norton still had a rosy view of the ‘democratic’ revolutionaries: a spate of tweets in their favour on August 18 included such optimistic claims as, ‘Syrian revolutionaries have already liberated cities, and they ran them somewhat democratically’, and on 22 September, ‘Majority of the FSA consists of average Syrians & former SAA members who refused to slaughter civilians & defected’.

As late as February 2015 Ben Norton complained:

Blame Assad for brutally destroying the progressive and secular resistance against his murderous fascist regime […] not Syrians for standing up to bravely fight for not just food, justice, and dignity, but for their very lives.

In 2014 Khalek interviewed Molly Crabapple, artist, writer and fervent supporter of the ‘Syrian revolution’. Both Khalek and Crabapple assume a non-violent inception to the Syrian conflict, ruthlessly crushed by government forces.

Khalek: […] You addressed the fact that there was a segment of the anti-war left that still till now is very dismissive of the Syrian uprising and in some cases excuses Assad for the horrific crimes he’s committing and you got attacked for pointing this out.

Crabapple: […] Many people I deeply respect are anti-intervention for good reasons. Other ones were pro certain sorts of intervention. But I think what is absolutely wrong is to pretend the Syrian revolution didn’t exist, to pretend that these activists weren’t amazing people …

The ‘evil Assad’

Attacking any movement by demonising its leader is a tried and true tactic where there is no legitimate means to an end – one only needs to look at the treatment meted out to Alex Salmond who, in the run-up to the Scottish referendum, was variously compared to Hitler, Mugabe, Nero and Genghis Khan. Likewise vilification of Bashar al Assad has been a major plank of regime change advocates. For more than five years the anti-Syria movement has relentlessly vilified the Syrian president with an incontinent flow of accusations, making full use of language favoured by the most hard-line interventionists: Assad ‘the butcher’, ‘the brutal tyrant’ has been accused of deliberately conducting a reign of terror, of bombing, starving, raping, gassing his own people, deliberately targeting hospitals, blood-banks, schools, bakeries, children and even kittens.

The thirdwayers have been amongst the most determined proponents of the evil Assad narrative: ‘Assad slaughter continues’ BN8/8/14; Assad’s ‘brutal tyranny’ MB 4/10/11; ‘Assad slaughter’ MB22/2/13; ‘Assad’s atrocities’ MB 14/9/13; ‘Assad’s reign of terror’ MB 16/9/14; ‘Assad family’s ongoing legacy of criminal fascism’ MB 18/10/14; ‘Assad the butcher’ RK 15/8/14 ‘Assad’s butchery’ RK 29/7/14; Assad is a mass murdering criminal’ RK  19/7/16; ‘the criminal Assad regime’ RK 18/1/14; civilians are being intentionally starved by the Assad Regime’ RK 19/4/14; ‘Assad is starving, torturing, & killing not just Syrian but also Palestinians’, BN 26/8/14.

From very early in the war many allegations of atrocities and war crimes have been leveled at the Syrian government and then soon shown to be false. Furthermore, substantial research had been carried out revealing the extent of foreign intervention, the billions of dollars of aid to the ‘rebels’, the many thousands of mercenaries pouring in through Turkey. However even in February  21015 Norton was still undeterred. According to his article 56 dead in one day: a Glimpse of Assad’s brutality Assad was responsible both for the early violence:

Since Assad first tried to drown the nonviolent popular uprising against his fascist regime in blood in 2011 …

and its continuation:

… the Syrian regime has dropped thousands upon thousands of bombs on civilian areas—and has engaged in systematic campaigns of torture, starvation, and rape. […]   If you want to see why horrible reactionary groups like Al-Nusra and even ISIS have support among some Syrians, try taking a look at the crimes the fascist Assad regime commits on a daily basis. […]

Norton is, therefore, offering a partial justification for joining ISIS.

No possible accusation has been overlooked. Specific claims of atrocities are seized on, never questioned and then, once debunked by others, forgotten. Although the thirdwayers, unlike the hard-line interventionists, may be prepared to discard discredited anti-Assad horror stories, this never seems to impact on the overall theme of Assad the monster. Thus massacres such as those that occurred at Houla, Ghouta and Banias were all immediately blamed on the Syrian government by both the corporate media and the third-wayers, even though subsequently found to have been carried out by insurgents, for either ethnic cleansing or ‘false flag’ purposes. (Blumenthal was still insisting that the Houla massacre was carried out by ‘shabiha’ (derogatory term for local defence forces) in February 2013, see video, below).

Assad is correlated with Israel, or ISIS, or is even worse than ISIS, according to both Rania Khalek

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echoing the sentiments expressed by Josie Ensor of the Telegraph a few months earlier

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The public knowledge that both the US and Israel are hell-bent on regime change in Syria was turned on its head with claims that the US and Israel supported Assad: ‘”Israel’s preference is for Bashar al Assad to remain in power…”‘, MB 11/12/2012.

US support for the ‘Assad regime was a favourite theme of Ben Norton, who explored this thesis in an article US Government Essentially Sides with Assad. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Norton supports the US administration in its blatant fiction that its priority is going after ISIS:

‘With the Syrian Civil War approaching its fourth whole year, the evidence increasingly suggests that the Obama administration has essentially sided with the Assad regime. […] In October 2014, Foreign Policy noted that “U.S. officials are beginning to see Assad as a vital, de facto ally in the fight against the Islamic State.”’

With the advent of foreign fighters from Central Asia, polio reappeared in Syria, after having been eradicated in 1995 (the strain in Syria is the same as that present in Pakistan, source and transit point for many jihadists fighting in Syria). Despite being engulfed in war the Syrian [government] acted quickly to set in place vaccination programmes (the latest campaign was announced on 16 October). Rania Khalek, however, laid a large part of the responsibility at the door of the ‘regime’, likewise ignoring evidence available at the time which showed that the Red Crescent is frequently blocked by groups such as the ‘Free Syrian Army’.

The insanely high toll [from chronic disease] is largely due to the Assad regime’s criminal use of food and medicine as weapons in his war against his own people.’

The discrediting of the 2011 lie that Gaddafi was giving black mercenaries viagra to encourage them to rape Arab women did not deter Ben Norton from seizing with alacrity on an obscure and short-lived rumour that the Deputy Mufti of the ‘Syrian regime’ advocated rape by the army.

nortonrapingmufti

‘Assad worshippers’

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[Pro-Assad Bingo, posted by Ben Norton in April 2015]

In parallel with the demonisation of Bashar al Assad is the recurrent theme of contempt for Assad supporters.

Undermining one of NATO’s principle planks and justification for intervention, ie the demonisation of al Assad, is an enormous threat to the NATO narrative. For this reason a major focus of the anti-Syria left has been to undermine, not just the Syrian government, but also the credibility of pro-Syria activists who have questioned the atrocity narrative. 

Critics of the anti-Assad narrative are deemed to be stupid and hypocritical. A spate of tweets about the pusillanimity of ‘Assad worshippers issued from Ben Norton in 2014, eg 24 August: ; I just can’t get over the ludicrous degrees Assad defenders are going to to try to defend the mass murderer… it’s almost unbelievable.’; ‘HAHAHAHAHAHA, these Assad-worshiping conspiracy theorists just get more and more absurd. They are completely deranged’. ‘The Western “anti-imperialists” who support (read: worship) Assad so fervently have never met a working-class  Syrian’.

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Max Blumenthal is equally contemptous of ‘Assad apologists”, informing writer Miri Wood: ‘when non Muslima say takfiri I cringe almost as much as when they defend Assad’s reign of terror 16/9/14. Even Syrians cannot escape Blumenthal’s derision:

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Assad supporters have, we are told, a tendency to Islamophobia, ‘I noted a while ago that Islamophobia informed certain Assad apologists’ MB 12/4/13; or fascism and Stalinism, ‘when you see someone defend Assad, remind them that Fascists & far-rightests throughout europe support Assad’ 12/4/13.

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In this tweet of March 2016, Norton is referring to the protester top right, who is holding a placard supporting Bashar al Assad. Not everyone was convinced by Norton:

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In October 2013 Blumenthal tweeted:

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Thus in an impressive use of twitter, he managed to impugn the integrity of an opponent to regime change, indicated that it was ‘Assad’ that was responsible for the Ghouta sarin attack, and played ‘in bed with Israel’ card.

In late 2012 Max Blumenthal noisily resigned from al-Akhbar News, complaining that the outlet was providing a forum for ‘Assad supporters’. As well as publishing a letter of resignation, Blumenthal’s departure from the newspaper was the subject of an  interview with The Real News in which, on the basis of his visit to a refugee camp in Jordan, he presents himself as an expert on Syria. The video is 18 minutes and is an education.

In letter and interview Blumenthal reiterates his position on the Syrian war: ‘the Syrian army’s pornographically violent crackdowns on what by all accounts is still a mostly homegrown resistance’, the regime’s responsibility for massacres such as Houla; ‘the Assad regime’s campaign to delegitimise the Syrian opposition by casting it as a bunch of irrational jihadis’. According to Blumenthal, Assad ‘makes Israel look like a champion of human rights’.

There is an interesting attempt to correlate Hezbollah with al Qaeda and ISIS: ‘ironically [the Syrian regime]  seem to have little problem with Hezbollah’s core Islamist values’. One wonders what the people of Maaloula, very thankful to be liberated from jihadists with the help of Hezbollah, would make of Blumenthal’s implication.

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[Hezbollah fighter saluting the Virgin Mary after the Battle of Maaloula]

In 2014 Norton wrote a spiteful article termed  Meet the Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theorists Who Are Assad’s Biggest Fans. The primary purpose appears to have been to wreak vengeance on a group of social media activists who found it hard to take Norton at his own evaluation:

benprincipled

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Norton starts from the fundamental premise that all who oppose the war on Syria are, without exception, devoid of all moral sense.

Those of us with at least some kind of rudimentary moral compass are compelled to oppose draconian tyrants like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, whose regime regularly engages in brutal state terrorist campaigns of mass bombingtorturestarvation, and rape of civilians, including children.

The article is a fascinating exercise in dishonesty, damning the ‘antisemites’ by association with the anti-war movement and vice-versa, and conflating all members of the group on every point while ignoring all contrary evidence. (Norton’s piece was answered by one of the group.

Regime change the third way

The part played by the NATO countries, the Gulf States, Turkey and foreign mercenaries has been essentially ignored or denied by the thirdwayers, who have stayed with their narrative of a ‘civil war’. They have theoretically been opposed to proposals for open military intervention, or at least the idea of bombing campaigns, whether by the NATO states or Russia.

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The narrative hasn’t been totally consistent: a lot of what is tweeted is ambiguous, even irresponsible, often indicating that intervention might actually be the humanitarian option.  bluminterventioncaesarfiles

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Again, Blumenthal’s angry response in 2014 to an article by Bob Dreyfuss suggesting that Obama give up on regime change in Damascus hardly seems consist with an anti-interventionist viewpoint.

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Max Blumenthal’s own credentials as a ‘reporter from the region’ lie in a visit to Jordan to interview refugees. The article chronicles the dire conditions in Zaatari camp, but Blumenthal chooses to end on a call for bombing Syria: ‘Either bomb the regime or you can bomb Zaatari and get it over with for us.’

The group’s principle plank is that the conflict in Syria is a ‘civil war’, a ‘popular revolution’. While being opposed in principle to external intervention, they have facilitated that intervention by promoting NATO propaganda against the Syrian government and in favour of the ‘revolutionaries’, in effect the jihadist extremists who have controlled the insurgency from the beginning. They may not be responsible for the inception of the war, but they share culpability for its continuation.

January 29, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Israel call the shots in British politics?

By Linda S. Heard | Intrepid Report | January 27, 2017

Russia’s alleged attempt to sway the results of the US presidential election pales by comparison to Israel’s proven infiltration of Britain’s political sphere. However, whereas the US political establishment is up in arms, threatening a new round of anti-Russian sanctions, the British government has done its utmost to sweep the explosive findings of an Al Jazeera undercover reporter under the rug.

This is, of course, unsurprising. Israel is a special case, uniquely permitted to get away with anything from snubbing international law and UN resolutions to inserting spies and working against unsympathetic politicians in the US Congress and UK Parliament.

Much has been written about the power of the Israeli lobby in the US, and its ability to destroy the careers of out-of-step lawmakers. One of the most controversial exposés was “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy” by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, that smashed taboos and brought down an avalanche of criticism on the writers’ heads.

However, the extent to which Israel’s emissaries have succeeded in manipulating British Conservative and Labour MPs, as well as student bodies and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, had evaded the spotlight until now; a spotlight that quickly dimmed due to the government’s conciliatory responses.

Indeed, its reaction to hard evidence of a plot—discussed by a senior Israeli political officer based in Israel’s London Embassy, and the Conservative Party’s deputy chairman’s chief of staff—to take down two influential politicians, Sir Alan Duncan and Crispin Blunt, was not only muted but bordering on the apologetic.

The Israeli propagandist conceded that Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was solid on Israel, but referred to him as “an idiot.” If Johnson was offended, he did not show it. An apology from Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev was all it took for him to announce he was closing the book. The offending political officer later resigned, but when the dust settles he will probably resume his duties elsewhere in the world.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May was also keen to put a lid on the matter and screw it down tightly. A spokesman confirmed the UK-Israel relationship remained strong. May’s personal affiliations are no secret. Her rapping of former US Secretary of State John Kerry on the knuckles for his branding of the Israeli government as “the most right-wing in history,” which it certainly is, spoke volumes.

At a Conservative Friends of Israel lunch in December, attended by 200 MPs, she praised Balfour’s historic letter as demonstrating Britain’s vital role in creating a Jewish homeland, and displayed her rose-colored spectacles with the words: “It is only when you walk through Jerusalem or Tel Aviv that you see a country where people of all religions and sexualities are free and equal in the eyes of the law.” In any other forum, that statement would have been met with derision.

May rejected a call by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn—an unabashed pro-Palestinian politician who features large in the lobby’s sights—to open an investigation into Israel’s reach and methods to sway the country’s democratic process.

An unnamed minister in former Prime Minister David Cameron’s Cabinet, who is afraid to reveal his identity for fear of “a relentless barrage of abuse and character assassination,” asserted in the Daily Mail : “British foreign policy is in hock to Israeli influence at the heart of our politics, and those in authority have ignored what is going on.” He condemned successive governments for allowing “Israel influence-peddling to shape policy and even determine the fate of ministers.”

To imagine Israel’s apology was genuine would take a leap of credulity. Mossad’s former motto was “by way of deception thou shall do war,” and that secret war is ongoing. As usual, Israel’s government has gone on the offensive, out to shoot the messenger, in this case Al Jazeera.

Organizations affiliated with Israel have asked the UK’s communications watchdog OFCOM to probe the televised expose for its alleged lack of impartiality and anti-Semitic content.

If the Palestinians are hoping that the US or UK will ever emerge as unbiased intermediaries in their struggle for a state, they should think again. Many years ago, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek column “Does Israel rule the world?” The answer is not yet, but due to indoctrinated, fear-ridden, bribed or religiously/ideologically committed politicians, it is quietly shackling the power centers in Western capitals while conniving to silence the voices of the brave.

Linda S. Heard is an award-winning British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at heardonthegrapevines@yahoo.co.uk.

January 29, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

US commandoes attack Yemen’s Bayda, kill 57: Reports

Press TV – January 29, 2017

US forces have carried out a series of ground and air raids against a village in the Yemeni province of Bayda, killing a total of 57 people, among them civilians.

US paratroopers parachuted in Bayda’s Qifah district and raided the Yakla village there, with some 30 aircraft such as Apache helicopters and drones taking part in the operations.

Saudi media said 16 civilians, among them women and children, lost their lives in the US assault.

Reports said the rest of those killed were militants with the al-Qaeda terror group, including three of its ringleaders.

“The operation began at dawn when a drone bombed the home of Abdulraoof al-Dhahab and then helicopters flew up and unloaded paratroopers at his house and killed everyone inside,” an unnamed local told AFP.

The Lebanese al-Mayadeen television channel reported that a US soldier was also killed during clashes with militants.

Two years ago, US troopers conducted a similar operation in Yemen’s Hadhramaut Province to allegedly save an American reporter who was held captive by al-Qaeda. However, the operation was unsuccessful and left the correspondent dead.

Separately on Sunday, Saudi fighter jets mistakenly bombarded positions held by Riyadh’s own mercenaries in Bayda Province.

Arabic-language al-Masirah television network quoted an informed military source as saying that the Saudi warplanes had also targeted homes in Bayda’s al-Quraishyah and Sharyah neighborhoods.

Similar Saudi air raids were also carried out in the districts Harad and Nasim in Hajjah Province as well as the Sirwah neighborhood of Ma’rib Province.

The Saudi jets further targeted al-Amri district of Ta’izz Province with cluster bombs.

Elsewhere, in Shabwah Province, a large number of Saudi mercenaries were killed and injured in the Yemeni army’s rocket attacks.

Additionally, 50 Saudi mercenaries, among them foreign nationals, were killed and injured in clashes with the Yemeni army forces in the port city of Mokha and Dhubab district, both situated in Ta’izz Province.

Three rocket attacks also hit downtown Zanzibar in Abyan Province.

The Riyadh regime has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in a bid to reinstall the country’s ex-government and crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The Houthis and the Yemeni army have been defending Yemen against the Saudi offensive for almost two years.

The military aggression has claimed the lives of over 11,400 Yemenis, including women and children, according to the latest tally by a Yemeni monitoring group.

January 29, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Trump’s Muslim ban is insulting but sheikhs will adapt

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | January 29, 2017

The US President Donald Trump has hit Pakistan and Saudi Arabia hard where it hurts most – making things difficult for their elites to travel to America or get a Green Card — by subjecting the visa applicants to ‘extreme vetting’.

To societies such as Pakistan (or India for that matter), the ultimate insult that Washington can give is to deny the elites the privilege to visit America. Pakistani elites were willing to eat grass if necessary for making atom bomb, but if restrictions are put on their travel to America, it hurts. The bottom line is seamless freedom to criticize America and alongside unhindered right to visit America. Unsurprisingly, the Pakistani elites are livid with anger. The reaction ranges from embarrassment to indignation. In an editorial comment, the Pakistani newspaper The Nation advised the government that “its attempts to befriend the Trump administration might be altogether pointless.”

But Trump won’t retract. He knows it is an immensely popular move, as the average American thinks that the Muslim is a troublemaker and best kept away at arm’s length.

How do the European countries see Trump’s move? Will they emulate him? The fact of the matter is that anti-Muslim feelings are widespread in the countries of western and central Europe too. However, Europe may dither, because it damages their self-esteem as the ‘civilized world’ if primeval passions mutate as state policies. Besides, western companies make a lot of money in the CGG markets.

How will India look at Trump’s Muslim ban? The government will probably find it expedient to take an evasive stance by keeping mum or choosing to take a stroll on the sidewalk. A ‘senior MEA official’ probably did that by observing,

  • India is not really worried at the moment as the religious radicalization has not been a big problem in the country and it has not been a source of refugees. So far no Indians have been arrested abroad for being involved in acts of terror.

Will India’s political parties voice opinions? This is, after all, election time in Uttar Pradesh. Indeed, the hardliners among our elites may (quietly) draw some vicarious satisfaction. One of them has blamed Trump for being not hard enough on Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Trump’s detractors in America allege that he made an exception of those Muslim countries where he has business interests. Bloomberg illustrated the point with graphics. Take a look, here. In reality, though, it is a weak argument. With the solitary exception of the UAE, whose sheikhs have had a dismal record of promoting radical Islamist groups as instruments of foreign policies, Trump’s business empire overwhelmingly spans the non-Muslim world – Argentina, Brazil, Bermuda, Canada, China, Ireland, UK and US.

Will this sort of discriminatory attitude of viewing Muslim countries as plague-ridden regions colour Trump’s policies toward the Muslim Middle East? These are early days. Trump is courting Israel, but then, he could be calculating that it pays to keep the Jewish lobby in America (which controls the Congress, media and think tanks) happy. In Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump has a cabinet minister who extensively cultivated Middle eastern elites. But the US has no more reason to covetously eye the Middle East’s oil. The US is not only energy self-sufficient but will likely be a major exporter in a conceivable future. Having said that, petrodollar recycling still continues to be of relevance to US industry and banking system.

Trump could be betting that the sheikhs have no option but to swallow the humiliation. A trace of contempt was probably discernible in his pugnacious remark calling for ‘safe zones’ for Syrian refugees, during a post-election thank-you trip in December:

  • We’ll build safe zones in Syria. When I look at what’s going on in Syria, it’s so sad. It’s so sad. And we’ve got to help people. And we have the Gulf States. They have nothing but money. We don’t have money. We owe $20 trillion. I will get the Gulf States to give us lots of money, and we’ll build and help build safe zones in Syria, so people can have a chance. So they can have a chance.

So, in the mother of all ironies, Trump is bullish he’d get King Salman to cough up the money to put up Syrian refugees who have been rendered stateless in a bloody conflict that Saudi Arabia in the first instance promoted.  And, furthermore, he now expects that Salman would counsel his princes and princesses to patiently queue up for ‘extreme vetting’ to get American visas. It’s no more possible for them to succumb to the sudden itch to board their private jets and head for America to do shopping or indulge in fun and frolic.

To add insult to injury, Saudi Arabia has been bracketed with Pakistan and Afghanistan. Trump promised: “We’re going to have extreme vetting in all cases. And I mean extreme. And we’re not letting people in if we think there’s even a little chance of some problem… we’re gonna have extreme vetting. It’s going to be very hard to come in. Right now it’s very easy to come in. It’s gonna be very, very hard. I don’t want terror in this country.” By the way, Trump’s Muslim ban is not applicable to any country other than Saudi Arabia within the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The wheel has come full circle since the Faustian deal between FDR and King Abdul Aziz at their fateful meeting in 1945 in Egypt whereby in lieu for secure access to supplies of Saudi oil, US guaranteed the military security of the Wahhabi regime.

January 29, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment