Aletho News


Lebanon proposes anti-US sanctions over embassy move

Press TV – December 9, 2017

Lebanon’s foreign minister has told an emergency Arab League meeting that imposing economic sanctions should be considered against the US over its embassy relocation move.

“Preemptive measures (must be) taken against the decision… beginning with diplomatic measures, then political, then economic and financial sanctions,” said Gebran Bassil during an Arab Lague meeting held in Cario on Saturday.

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday defied global warnings and said Washington formally recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and would begin the process of moving its embassy to the occupied city, breaking with decades of American policy.

“Could this calamity bring us together and wake us from our slumber? Let it be known that history will never forgive us and our future will not be proud of what we have done,” added Bassil.

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit also called on world nations to recognize the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

He added that Trump’s decision raised a question over Washington’s role as a peace mediator, not just in Palestine but the whole world. “The decision amounts to the legalization of occupation,” he added.

“The decision by the US administration is in its essence legitimizing the occupation and admitting and allowing their stance by force. It is a waste of international legitimacy and the principles of justice, and therefore has placed he who took (the decision) in a state of conflict with the collective will of the international community,” he stressed.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki called on members of the league to instruct their UN envoys to submit a draft resolution to Security Council to condemn Trump’s decision, which “betrays its hostility and bias against the Palestinian people.”

He also called on world nations to recognize the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

“I expect from you to commission the Arab block (in the Security council) to immediately act in presenting a draft resolution to the security council that rejects this American decision. We also call upon all Arabs in light of this American decision that challenged, not only Arabs and Muslims, but the world as a whole, to quickly visit Jerusalem, so as not to leave it as a victim to the American decision and Israeli threat,” he added.

Jordanian foreign minister also stressed that there will be no peace and security in the region unless Jerusalem al-Quds is free.

“We want peace as a strategic option, which we demand for all of the region’s peoples completely and indefinitely. However, there will be no peace without a free and independent Palestine, there will be no peace unless Jerusalem is free, and is the capital of Palestine,” said Ayman Al Safadi.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’s diplomatic adviser said that Abbas will reject to meet US Vice President Mike Pence during his scheduled visit to the region later in the month.

“There will be no meeting with the vice president of America in Palestine… The United States has crossed all the red lines with the Jerusalem decision,” he added.

Clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters in al-Quds continued on Saturday over the Trump administration’s divisive decision.

Palestinian protestors threw objects at Israeli soldiers and set trash cans on fire, while others held guns to the head of an effigy of Trump, before burning it.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

US Allegations of Russia Violating INF Absolutely Unfounded – Moscow

Sputnik – 09.12.2017

The INF treaty, which prohibits the development, deployment and testing of ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles, celebrated its 30th anniversary on December 8.

“The United States has long been claiming that we are allegedly exceeding the limits of the Treaty prohibiting the deployment of cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. But there is an interesting pattern — just as with the well-known statements about ‘Russian meddling in the US elections,’ no real evidence is provided … In other words, the accusations are absolutely unsubstantiated, they are not supported either by the technical characteristics of the launcher allegedly not meeting the Treaty, nor by flight telemetry data. And it is understandable why — because it simply does not exist,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Saturday.

The deputy foreign minister has explained that the US growing “anti-Russian campaign” is an indicator of US wish to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), with Washington appearing to be looking for a pretext and trying to create its own ideas for the introduction of new sanctions against Moscow, adding that the dissolution of the document would deal a hard blow to the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.

“So anti-Russian propaganda campaign in the context of the INF treaty looks increasingly like an attempt to project US issues onto another entity. Its increase may be a sign of Washington readying to withdraw from this treaty just as it withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,” Ryabkov said.

The high-ranking official has yet again reiterated Moscow’s commitment to the deal, “On our side, we are fully committed to the treaty, always have rigorously implemented it and are ready to continue to do so. However, if one side stops to comply with it, we will have, as Russian President Vladimir Putin said previously, to issue a mirror-like response.”

INF Treaty and Anti-Russia Sanctions

The statement was made in wake of the reported approval of new sanctions against Russia by US President Donald Trump earlier in the day over the alleged violations of the INF deal. The move followed the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s accusations made in September, regarding the alleged violations of the treaty, a claim which has been repeatedly denied and called groundless by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Moscow has also warned the United States against trying to talk to Russia with the language of ultimatums, or to exert military and political pressure.

The 1987 INF treaty prohibits the development, deployment and testing of ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles.


Why INF Treaty Between US, Russia Remains Key to Global Security

Trump Approves New Sanctions Against Russia Over Alleged INF Treaty Violations

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

The First Intifada: Nostalgia

The First Intifada: Nostalgia

Palestinian women confront Israeli soldiers during the First Intifada [Facebook]
Nadia Naser-Najjab | MEMO | December 9, 2017

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the First Intifada, an event which fundamentally altered the profile and trajectory of the Palestinian national struggle against occupation. It shifted political leadership away from the exiled Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) leadership, reconfigured local political arrangements and, most crucially, challenged the Israeli occupation at its weakest and most vulnerable points.

However, its full significance has not been, to my mind, sufficiently acknowledged, whether by international observers or by younger generations of Palestinians. This is unfortunate, as the Intifada is not purely an historical event – in my view it has much to contribute to discussions that relate to the conceptual framing, theorisation and tactics of contemporary resistance. This article does not, however, propose to engage at any of these points. It has instead been conceived and developed as a personal account which is grounded within my own perspectives and experiences.

In the late 1980s, I lived in the village of Burqa, which is close to Nablus, in the northern West Bank. My home village – like the rest of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – had been subject to Israeli occupation for two decades. At the time, the wider world knew little of this reality: insofar as it engaged with the Palestinian “question”, it tended to fixate upon the diaspora refugee communities who had been at the forefront of the Palestinian struggle in Lebanon and Jordan. In the aftermath of the Oslo Accords, this emphasis was inverted. The Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) became the focus of international attention and Palestinian refugee communities became, at best, a secondary preoccupation.

For Palestinians in the OPT, there was no possibility that they could be similarly blind to the occupation, whose curfews and collective punishments imposed themselves upon almost every aspect of everyday life. Refuge could not be sought in political quietism: the occupation did not distinguish between the politically active and apathetic. Indeed, this was one of the main oversights of the occupation: it politicised ordinary Palestinians by making resistance an imperative which weighed equally upon every Palestinian man, women and child. My own parents, who had previously shown little inclination to join in revolutionary activities (quite the contrary – they tried to dissuade me and my sisters from participating), joined a protest after Israeli soldiers killed a ten-year-old boy who was playing in his backyard in my home village.

Looking back, I remember how, in imposing collective punishment upon my home village, the Israeli occupiers forced all adult males to congregate in the school courtyard. They made little allowance for age, seniority or status: teachers and doctors were forced to run around while shouting senseless and random words like “tomato” and “potato”. They were sometimes detained for more than six hours, and were not allowed to use the toilet or speak to each other during that entire time. Fathers, brothers, relatives and neighbours were deliberately humiliated in front of each other.

The occupiers inflicted this treatment on my own father. One day, soldiers told him to bring down a Palestinian flag which activists had placed on top of an electricity pole. He was over 60. When he told the soldiers this and tried to make them see how difficult it would be for him to climb the pole, they refused to accept his “excuse” and threatened him with violence if he did not obey. He also knew that if he refused, his ID card would be confiscated and he would have to travel to the military offices in Nablus and wait for hours or even days to get it back.

Israeli soldiers did not therefore always have to resort to direct violence. More often than not, this was unnecessary. In the OPT, violence was an implicit undertone, ever-present in the background. During one prolonged curfew, my sister sneaked out to visit my aunt, who lived around a ten minutes’ walk away. She did not encounter a single Israeli soldier. The Israeli army knew full well that their orders and directives did not require direct enforcement.

This suddenly changed when the First Intifada broke out on 9 December 1987. Yitzhak Rabin declared an “Iron Fist” policy to tame Palestinians, and a man who would later be near-universally venerated as a “dove” of peace openly called upon Israeli soldiers to “break the bones” of Palestinian protestors. This violence also took other forms. Birzeit University, an important centre of popular resistance and struggle, was forced to close. A number of students (myself included) were prevented from graduating on time.

While Rabin’s actions said much about his own considerable capacity for violence and intransigence, they said an equal amount about the settler-colonial mentality. In adhering to its guiding tenets, Israel’s political-military establishment believe that Palestinians cannot be engaged with as equals. Instead, it is more appropriate to engage with “them” with treatment commensurate to their level of personal and social development. Violence presents itself as an appropriate mode of conduct at this point.

While the Israeli political-military establishment continually endeavours to gain insights into the mindset of its Palestinian adversaries, it appears to be structurally predisposed to underestimate Palestinians and their capacity for collective organisation and mobilisation. In other words, the influence of Zionism’s implicit racism and ethnocentrism invariably frustrates the initial aspiration to understand. It is true that the PLO leadership had been similarly blind to the possibilities of mass mobilisation. However, as Frantz Fanon observes, the colonised “…is overpowered but not tamed; he is treated as an inferior but he is not convinced of his inferiority”.

The profound flaws within this misconception were clearly exposed when the United National Leadership of the Uprising (UNLU) took control of what was initially a spontaneous outburst of popular anger and resentment and turned it towards clear ends and purposes. The Intifada rapidly coalesced into a disciplined, broad-based and democratic uprising that was focused upon clear ends and objectives. The uprising became a source of immense pride for Palestinians, and it was characterised by a sense of self-sacrifice and commitment to the wider struggle. Patriotic poems were smuggled from prisons; Palestinian musicians composed Intifada songs, and their tape cassettes helped to raise Palestinian spirits. Sharif Kanaana, a professor at Birzeit University, collected what became known as “Intifada jokes”. He noted that there was a clear difference between jokes told in the pre-Intifada period and those told after it. In the latter instance there was a stronger sense of defiance, and the humour was invariably at the expense of the occupying power.

When the Israeli army closed schools, the popular committees created home schools. When these home schools were then banned, Palestinians continued to operate them underground. One father, whose furniture and television set were confiscated after he refused to pay the occupation tax, spoke of how his son had told him not to protest on his own behalf. He refused to grant the Israelis this minor victory. His son said: “I don’t want to watch cartoons. Do not ask them to keep it.” When I joined solidarity visits to the injured at Al-Makaseed Hospital I was struck by the pride and defiance that shone in the eyes of the injured.

In the current context devoid of any real sense of purpose, it is unsurprising that Palestinians should look back on the Intifada as a “golden age” of Palestinian struggle. However, there is a clear danger that these recollections will romanticise the uprising. It is crucial not to fall into this trap. After all, the Intifada was not entirely cohesive (there were ongoing tensions between the UNLU, the PLO and Hamas) and it could be argued that it was ultimately a failure – after all, its main contribution proved to be the abortive Oslo Accords.

These limitations do not detract from the essential fact that the Intifada has a perhaps unparalleled significance in the history of the occupation, standing apart as the point at which Palestinians gathered the strength and collective sense of purpose which enabled them to confront an occupation which had imposed itself upon Palestinian society for two decades. It will always remain a source of pride for Palestinians, and will always to some extent reside at the level of imagination. In reflecting back upon it, Palestinians should take pride in its many achievements but also resist the temptation to idealise or romanticise. If this caveat is taken into account, then there is every reason to suppose that looking back will produce concrete benefits in the present.

Read also: 250,000 Palestinians injured since First Intifada

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Venezuela’s Electoral System Reliable, Says Monitor

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim | Venezuelanalysis | December 8, 2017

Venezuela’s voting system remains one of the most reliable in the world, an international group of electoral experts said Thursday.

The country’s electronic voting system boasts some of the world’s best checks and balances, and is both “safe and reliable”, according to Nicanor Moscoso, the head of the Latin American Council of Electoral Experts (CEELA).

“The results have never been formally refuted. It is the most audited process in the world,” he said.

The comments were made after Moscoso concluded talks with Venezuela’s electoral authority, the CNE.

Praising the work of the CNE, Moscoso said the electoral system is heavily automated and easy for voters to use.

“Venezuelans can be sure that Sunday will deliver the real results of the democratic will,” Moscoso said, referring to upcoming municipal elections this Sunday.

More than 300 mayoral positions nationwide are up for grabs, with the ruling socialist party, the PSUV, hoping to repeat its surprise victory in October’s regional vote. The party secured 18 of the country’s 23 state governorships in the elections.

Ahead of the vote, opposition parties had expected to make major gains, and largely refused to acknowledge the unexpected results once they came in. Prominent opposition parties including Voluntad Popular, Primero Justicia and Vente Venezuela have all vowed to boycott Sunday’s vote.

The boycott is likely to backfire on the opposition, according to Phil Gunson of the International Crisis Group.

“I don’t think there are many instances in history where governments have been brought down by electoral boycotts,” he told The Guardian.

“I think the very least you can ask of an opposition is that it shows up and puts up a fight,” Gunson added.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Honduran Opposition Seeks Annulment of Election Results

teleSUR | December 2017

The main opposition parties in Honduras independently submitted requests to annul the results of the Nov. 26 presidential election, which they consider fraudulent and skewed in favor of President Juan Orlando Hernández.

Salvador Nasralla, the leader of the Alliance of Opposition Against the Dictatorship, called on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) to initiate a total recount of all votes and documents.

Before Nasralla presented his official challenge before the TSE, he warned that 200,000 extra votes had already been counted.

“Honduras has become a global joke,” he told reporters.

The candidate stressed his optimism, claiming that justice will prevail in the end.

“I know the people will defend the result (of the recount),” said Nasralla, who indicated that once the legal bodies perform their duties after the formal challenge, he plans to travel abroad to denounce the “fraud we have found.”

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party secretary, Octavio Pineda, also delivered a formal request to the TSE to annul the results. “Principles have been violated since the current president was allowed to participate in the electoral process when the Constitution forbids it,” he said.

The TSE has up to 10 days to respond to requests for annulment.

The election, which occurred two weeks ago, has left Hondurans unsure of who will be their next president for the next four years. This uncertainty has triggered protests in the Central American country that has left at least 11 dead and 15 wounded.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

US and Israel ‘Isolated’ at UN Security Council Meeting on Jerusalem

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley at the United Nations Security Council on December 8, 2017. | Photo: AFP
teleSUR | December 8, 2017

In an emergency meeting convened by the United Nations Security Council on the crisis prompted by President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the U.S. stood isolated as other members unanimously condemned the decision.

The meeting was called by Bolivia, Uruguay, Italy, Senegal, Egypt, France and the United Kingdom on Friday.

Bolivian Ambassador Sacha Llorenti offered the strongest words of condemnation. Llorenti is known for his outspoken support of the Palestinian people, having debated the issue at the U.N. wearing a Keffiyah: a black-and-white scarf that has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance.

“While there are two parties in this conflict, they are not on a level playing field,” Llorenti said. “One is an occupying power, the other is an occupied people.

“One party builds illegal settlements… One party puts a seige on Gaza… One party takes over the water resources and farmlands of the other …. One of the parties engages in forced displacement. Bolivia opposes the unilateral decision of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

Other representatives, including France, Japan, Russia, and Sweden, expressed their dismay at the decision, saying that it would lead to violence and potentially ruin chances at the peace process that President Trump claims to favor.

Egyptian Ambassador Amr Aboulatta said he expected the decision to have a “grave” impact on peace.

The U.N. special coordinator for the peace process, Nickolay Mladenov said: “The United Nations has repeatedly declared that any unilateral decision that seeks to alter the character and status of Jerusalem… could seriously undermine current peace efforts and may have repercussions across the region.”

Despite resounding criticism from the rest of the international community, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley maintained that Trump’s move was “simple common sense,” and that the president remains “committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement.” She also accused the U.N. of being “hostile” towards Israel.

Israel’s ambassador was the only other party who praised the decision, calling it “courageous” and demonstrating a “true understanding of justice.”

Since Trump’s announcement, Palestinians have resolutely condemned the decision and erupted in mass “days of rage” protests. Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has called for a “new intifada,” or uprising, against Israeli occupation, a plea backed by Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.

Protests in various parts of occupied Palestine have met with violence by Israeli armed forces. At least two Palestinians have been killed and hundreds more injured. On Friday, the Red Crescent said they have so far attended 767 injuries in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 15 Comments

Putin goes to Cairo as Trump ties himself in knots

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | December 9, 2017

The United States’ self-goal on Jerusalem opens for Russia a window of opportunity to strengthen its standing as the most creative and positive player in the Middle East politics. Within four days of President Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, President Vladimir Putin is undertaking unscheduled ‘working visits’ to Egypt and Turkey.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry issued a lengthy statement criticizing the US decision on Jerusalem and affirming that

  • We believe a fair and lasting solution to the protracted Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be based on international law, including UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions that provide for settling all aspects of the final status of the Palestinian territories, including the highly delicate issue of Jerusalem, through direct Palestinian-Israeli talks. The United States’ new position on Jerusalem can further complicate Palestinian-Israeli relations and the situation in the region… Russia sees East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state and West Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

Russia has positioned itself appropriately on the Arab Street. But the Jerusalem issue is not what is taking Putin to Cairo. The Kremlin readout flagged the need of “providing stability and security in the Middle East and North Africa.” Which means Libya, Sinai and Syria and to an extent Yemen – in that order, perhaps.

The point is, the ‘Libyan file’ has re-opened. The Islamic State is relocating in Libya after its crushing defeat in Iraq and Syria. Russia and Egypt sense the imperative need to mobilize quickly and confront the extremist groups in Libya. Both are supportive of the Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar who’s ensconced in Benghazi, whom they (rightly) see as a bulwark against violent extremism in Libya. The power vacuum in Libya and the growing insecurity in western Egypt threaten the stability of Egypt and President Sisi’s prestige is at stake. On the other hand, Egyptian involvement in Libya affects the balance of power in the Middle East. Interestingly, the Gulf monarchies are also involved in the Libyan crisis.

Enter Trump. The Libyan PM Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj visited the White House on December 1 and Trump discussed with him “opportunities for future partnerships” while emphasizing “America’s continued commitment to defeating ISIS and other jihadist terrorists in Libya” and “to work together to advance Libyan stability and unity.” On a parallel track, French President Emmanuel Macron had also hosted Sarraj in Paris. (Sarraj has an established reputation as the ‘Ashraf Ghani’ of the Maghreb – a politician imposed by western powers. Keeping Russia out of Libya is a key template of the western strategy (as is the case in Afghanistan.)

But Russia and Egypt have specific interests, too. Libya used to be a Soviet ally and it has a strategic Mediterranean location facing the NATO’s southern tier. As for Egypt, the instability in Libya spills over to Sinai Peninsula, which is already happening. Sisi’s ambition could be to create a sort of Egyptian protectorate in Cyrenaica against extremist groups. No doubt, with 1,200 kilometers of shared border with Libya, Egypt’s security concerns are legitimate.

Egypt is also a net importer of energy. Haftar controls the so-called oil crescent in Libya and the Russian oil giant Rosneft is back in Libya. Clearly, the energy platform provides a potentially lucrative 3-way cooperation between Russia, Haftar and Egypt – although secondary to the military and security dimension.

Prima facie, Moscow is deferring to the UN in key matters and is also engaging Sarraj’s government in Tripoli. Which suggests that Moscow may be positioning itself as a broker between Libya’s rival partners – Sarraj and Haftar, principally – and eventually to manoeuver itself to make up for the financial losses it suffered in 2011 following the regime change which is estimated to be in excess of $10 billion in railway contracts, construction projects, energy deals and arms sales.

But the West will be wary that Putin doesn’t do a Syria on them and checkmate them in Libya too. The Libyan situation has its specific features but big-power rivalry is accelerating. Washington may appear to be better placed in Libya, since the US’ NATO allies are stakeholders. But all bets are off when Putin enters the centre stage. For an effective Russian role in the military and security sphere to stabilize Libya, Moscow needs a regional partner. Putin enjoys excellent rapport with Sisi. Washington will be closely monitoring their talks in Cairo on Monday.

December 9, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment