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New legislation in Congress puts Palestinians in a Catch-22

New legislation in Congress puts Palestinians in a Catch-22

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) recently introduced new pro-Israel legislation in Congress that would enable Americans to sue the Palestinian government.

New legislation introduced in Congress would potentially destroy the ability of the Palestinian leadership to engage in diplomatic and legal channels to support Palestinian national aspirations. The legislation would give Palestinian leaders two options: withdraw from international bodies that are integral to their pursuit of justice, or be held liable for actions they didn’t commit, potentially resulting in the government’s eventual bankruptcy and demise.

By Kathryn Shihadah | If Americans Knew | September 24, 2019

In addition to the roughly two dozen Israel-related bills in various stages currently before Congress, new legislation would open the Palestinian Authority (PA) to disastrous lawsuits and quash any hopes of a negotiated settlement with Israel. The PA has its share of corruption, as it attempts the impossible task of ruling while under the thumb of Israeli occupation. Nevertheless, analysts say that a dissolution of the Palestinian government through U.S. legislation could be catastrophic.

Current legislation promoted by segments of the Israel lobby would do just that.

The latest bipartisan legislation would enable American victims of political violence in Israel to work through the American court system to collect damages from the Palestinian government. (Notably, it would not afford American victims of Israeli violence, such as this 16-year-old, the same opportunity.)

The legislation is the latest in a string of attempts to extract huge sums of money from the Palestinian government for violence perpetrated by individuals acting alone. Previous rulings declared such lawsuits outside US jurisdiction. (Iran has also been targeted.)

Current legislation: “Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019”

H.R.1837 (and its twin S.2132) is written in such a way that, in the words of human rights attorney Zaha Hassan, undermines “the ability of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to engage diplomatic and legal channels to support Palestinian national aspirations and to seek accountability through international mechanisms.”

She writes that this would result in “the end of a Palestinian negotiating partner for any future peace talks.”

In addition, Hassan points out, this would severely impact the international effort on behalf of justice for Palestinians.

She writes: “Many Palestinians and those in the solidarity community may not fully appreciate how the international delegitimization or bankrupting of the PLO – the body still recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people – could impact their human rights advocacy in the US and globally. Whatever one’s views about the PLO or PA, no longer having an address for the national aspirations of the Palestinian people will make international and US advocacy much more difficult.”

The legislation seeks to impose US court jurisdiction on Palestine so that American citizens (and their lawyers) can target the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) with lawsuits for suicide attacks in the early 2000s.

(Note that Palestinian suicide bombings killed far fewer civilians than Israeli bombings of Palestinians; see stats here and here. Additional info about suicide bombings is here, here, and here.)

Given the anti-Palestinian sentiment within some US courts (discussed below), it is likely that the PA would be found liable and face crippling fines – in spite of its lack of involvement in the incidents.

To escape certain bankruptcy, Palestine would need to resign from institutions that give it legitimacy in the world, such as its memberships in UNESCO and the International Criminal Court. (It has full membership in two additional international agencies, and observer status in six).

The loss of such memberships would be extremely damaging. For example, stepping down from membership in the International Criminal Court would bar Palestine from pursuing war crimes claims against Israel.

(That being said, many in the activist community believe that while the UN and ICC are vital components of justice for Palestinians, grassroots advocacy from American citizens is at least equally as important, as the US bankrolls and defends Israel’s actions.)

Under the new legislation, Palestine would be able to remain a member of the UN General Assembly (as a nonvoting observer) and maintain an office in the US for official UN business, but anything more would amount to “consent to jurisdiction,” and Palestine would be vulnerable to lawsuits.

There is already one court case in the US that could be devastating.

A past lawsuit against the PLO, was eventually decided in Palestine’s favor, but this would likely change if the new legislation goes through.

Initially, New York Judge George Daniels ordered the Palestinian government to pay over $650 million in damages for its alleged part in suicide attacks (more below), but an appeals court then dismissed the case.  Under the new legislation, the verdict would likely be reinstated.

Such lawsuits could cause the PA eventually to go bankrupt. In addition, the PA would officially be equated with a terrorist organization, even though it had no connection with the violence.

This punishing and unjust Catch-22 situation would be imposed on a people already dealing with illegal occupation and blockade.

Congress’ double standard

As pro-Israel lawmakers lay this trap for Palestine, US laws are already on the books – for example, the Leahy Laws – that require limiting aid to countries practicing Gross Human Rights Violations (GHRV). These laws, however, have never been applied to Israel – in spite of its well-documented history of human rights violations (for example, see this, this, and this).

Another legislative irony lies in the fact that the new law would seek to hold the Palestinian government responsible for rogue members of its community whose acts the leadership roundly condemned; meanwhile refusing to hold the government of Israel responsible for illegal and immoral acts that the Israeli government and military openly and officially perpetrate.

Human Rights Watch lists five main categories of human rights abuses by Israel, all of which have been chronicled for decades: unlawful killings; forced displacement; abusive detention; the closure of the Gaza Strip and other unjustified restrictions on movement; and the development of settlements, along with the accompanying discriminatory policies that disadvantage Palestinians.

Additionally, Congress is entertaining legislation that could potentially strip Americans of their First Amendment rights, in order to protect Israel from criticism and from economic ramifications for its policies that contravene international law.

US jurisprudence reveals yet another double standard in the issue of Americans who have been killed or injured by Israeli troops, and have been unable to find justice.

Rachel Corrie was one of several American citizens killed while peacefully protesting in Israel; after twelve years of litigation, Israel cleared itself of wrongdoing; a court case in the US was dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction. Emily Henoschowitz is an Israeli-American who lost an eye due to Israeli military violence. Israel never compensated her. US citizen Tariq Abu Khdeir’s severe beating by an Israeli officer was video taped; the officer was later sentenced to only 45 days of community service and a suspended prison term of four months.

The most dramatic example of Americans killed by Israel – and then denied justice – is the USS Liberty.

On June 8, 1967, 34 American servicemen were killed and 174 were wounded when Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats attacked the clearly-marked Navy ship, the USS Liberty. An independent commission led by four-star Admiral Thomas Moorer found that the Israeli attack constituted “an act of war” against the US, and stated: “There is compelling evidence that Israel’s attack was a deliberate attempt to destroy an American ship and kill her entire crew.” Yet, Israel has never been held to account for its lethal actions against American servicemen (and US media have largely buried the facts).

These are just a handful of the many wrongdoings on the part of Israel that have gone unacknowledged, excused, or unpunished by the US court system; meanwhile Congress seeks to castigate the government of Palestine for the actions of Palestinians operating outside its authority.

Billions to Israel, standard conditions waived

The House version of the bill currently under consideration contains some troubling assertions that deserve a close look.

• The section of the legislation entitled, “Security Assistance for Israel,” makes into law the US MOU to provide Israel $3.8 billion – an amount that the majority of Americans consider excessive.

• The bill also states that Israel is eligible for special treatment – specifically, a waiver of licensing requirements for weapons exports. The expressed reason for the waiver is Congress’ “findings” that “Israel has adopted high standards in the field of export controls” and that Israel is a signatory to “the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare.”

• It also waives the Arms Export Control Act whenever Israel informs the US that it is “under an existing or imminent threat of military attack.” At this point the President may grant “immediate transfer” of whatever Israel needs, in amounts “not subject to any limitation.” This waiver is spelled out in spite of Israel’s frequent violations – or perhaps because of them (see this and this).

These waivers are deeply problematic. In fact, as reported by Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Israel routinely sells weapons to human rights abusers, including South Sudan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka (Israel also sold to South Africa during its Apartheid era). In addition, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International revealed that Israel used white phosphorus in crowded civilian areas during its 2008-2009 incursion into Gaza – a charge which Israel at first denied, but later acknowledged.

Although Israel’s weapons sales and its use of chemical weapons are well-known, Congress insists that Israel deserves favored status in the sharing of US munitions.

About the sponsors of the bills

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), who initiated the House version of the bill, has received $613,041 in campaign contributions from pro-Israel organizations during his ten years in office, and has taken five AIPAC-sponsored trips to Israel. In 2109 alone, he introduced H.R.1837, the US-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act; denounced boycott of Israel; and criticized Gazan rockets but not Israeli sniper killings of unarmed demonstrators. Deutch serves as Chairman of Middle East, North Africa, Int’l Terrorism Subcommittee.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), has been an outspoken supporter of Israel before he introduced S.2132. In 2014, he condemned boycotts; in 2015 he spoke at the AIPAC policy conference, and when Israeli PM Netanyahu came to Capitol Hill without a presidential invitation, Lankford welcomed him warmly; he discouraged a change in EU labelling laws for “certain products made by Israeli companies”; in 2018 he supported Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. On Lankford’s official website, he criticizes Obama’s occasional “inexplicable deference to the Palestinians.”

Palestine at the UN

Because the US and Israel – two critical entities in the quest for self-determination – insist that Palestine has no legitimacy, Palestine has for several years pursued legitimacy in the global arena.

The State of Palestine began pursuing membership in the UN and its agencies in 2011, after President Obama’s target date for a two-state solution had come and gone.

“The Quartet” (the US, the EU, Russia, and the UN) had not managed to negotiate a two-state solution. Abbas explained that Israel was responsible for the failure, noting that settlement building, the ongoing blockade of Gaza, and other policies

are unilateral actions and are not based on any earlier agreements. Indeed, what we witness is a selective application of the agreements aimed at perpetuating the occupation…the Israeli government refuses to commit to terms of reference for the negotiations that are based on international law and United Nations resolutions.

At that point, with no solution in sight, Palestinian leaders embarked on a different path to statehood: seeking recognition from individual countries. The effort met with relative success: the UN General Assembly voted 138-9 (with 41 abstentions) to grant Palestine non-Member Observer State status, a move that Israeli PM Netanyahu’s office called “a meaningless decision.”

138 countries recognize the state of Palestine

Still, this upgrade is widely considered “de facto recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine.” Since then, 138 out of the 193 UN member states and two non-member states have recognized the state of Palestine. In other words, 71.5 percent of the UN member countries officially consider Palestine a country.

In 2015, the State of Palestine became a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which gave the court jurisdiction over the Israel’s 2014 incursion into Gaza – in which 2,250 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed.

The US has not recognized the State of Palestine, but has referred to the “Palestinian territories” – until recently. The US State Department has removed Palestine from its list of countries and regions. It is unclear why this occurred or whether it will be changed. As of today, there is no mention of Palestine, Palestinian, Occupied Territories, West Bank, or Gaza in the State Department’s list of “Countries and Areas.”

Attacks against Palestine’s economy and legitimacy are nothing new.

First attempt to extort money from the PA

The US State Department explains that until the 20th century, immunity of a state from jurisdiction of another state was “an undisputed principle of customary international law [that] seemed to have no exceptions.” When governments began engaging in commerce, however, a more “restrictive theory” of immunity began to develop; the US officially enshrined this into law, gradually refining the legislation to make foreign states’ funds more accessible.

The 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) defined protection for sovereign nations against lawsuits by US citizens. A “terrorism exception” enabled action against those states that were designated state sponsors of terrorism.

2015:  Israeli NGO v. PLO wins then loses

In 2015, an Israeli NGO represented ten Americans whose family members had been killed or injured during suicide bombings in 2002-2004 in Israel. The organization, Shurat HaDin (which has acted as a proxy for Mossad – Israel’s CIA), alleged in Sokolow et al v. Palestine Liberation Organization et al that the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had participated in the plots.

Shurat HaDin won the suit, and the families were awarded over $650 million.

Michael Ratner, former president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said at the time of the verdict, “the trial was a concrete demonstration of this country, the United States’ utter hypocrisy on the issue of who gets justice…The courts in our country, in the United States, will bend over backwards to hold Palestine liable.”

Ratner pointed to three cases he had tried – and lost – on behalf of Americans killed by Israel. In the Rachel Corrie case, he was up against a US president who could “authorize gross violations of human rights, especially by Israel, and a court will look the other way… [as Israel commits] war crimes.”

He continued,

And if they can’t, if for some reason the law says you can’t do that, then who will step in here? Our Congress will step in. And as they did here, it will pass laws and statutes that give the courts laws that allow people in the United States, citizens, to sue Palestinians. But those laws will exempt Israel.

In another case, Ratner’s organization represented a Turkish-American citizen who had been killed during a 2010 Israeli military raid on a humanitarian flotilla in international waters, as it headed to Gaza. The conclusion: Israel, as a state, has sovereign immunity. The case never went to court – although the International Criminal Court had determined that Israeli soldiers had committed war crimes.

A year after the Sokolow decision, in August 2016, a US appeals court dismissed the case and threw out the verdict, declaring that the lower court had erred in presuming the US had jurisdiction in the case. (Details about the case here.)

Shurat HaDin went to the U.S. Supreme Court, requesting a review of the appellate decision; the request was denied.

Judge George Daniels

The New York judge who had found in favor of Shurat HaDin and tried to take $650 million from the PA was George B. Daniels, who had a history of such rulings.

Daniels’ name has been prevalent in New York City court cases of this type. In 2016, he ruled, in the context of zero evidence, that Iran had been directly involved in 9/11. He ordered Tehran to pay $7.5 billion to victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon — and $3 billion to insurers over related claims — after ruling that Iran had failed to prove that it did not help the bombers.

Upon Iran’s refusal to pay, in June 2017 Daniels ordered the seizure of a Manhattan building worth $500 million that was said to be owned by Iran.

In a separate suit against Iran, the same judge – George Daniels – ruled that Iran should pay 47 plaintiffs over $6 billion for its alleged part in training the 9/11 attackers. Iran refused to pay, having already been cleared of guilt on multiple fronts (as reported in non-US media only, for example here).

Philip Giraldi writes that New York courts – especially the Federal Court for the Southern District of Manhattan, where Sokolow was tried – is a great place for “suing the pants off of any number of foreign governments and individuals with virtually no requirement that the suit have any merit.” “Friendly” judges in this district (like Daniels) attract practitioners of “predatory capitalism.”

Giraldi summarizes:

America’s judiciary has been manipulated and politicized. If you are a foreigner of any kind but most particularly an Iranian or Palestinian or indeed an Arab or Muslim and you are being tried in a court in New York City you might just as well save your money and not seek to find a lawyer to defend yourself. If a slimy vulture fund owner wants your money chances are he will get it. And if an even completely ridiculous attempt to tie you into terrorism or terrorism support is made, you will be railroaded by the system.

Second Attempt: ATCA – the “Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act”

Since Sokolow in the end failed to bring the desired results, Congress sought other means to compensate the victims – and, especially, implicate Palestinian leadership. ATCA, the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, which became law in 2018, seemed to close the jurisdiction loophole.

In the words of Harry Graver and Scott Anderson of, ATCA “primarily intended to revive [the Sokolow v. PLO] plaintiffs’ cases by amending the underlying law,” by “[expanding] the personal jurisdiction of the federal courts.”

ATCA attached judicial authority to economic aid: the Palestinian government’s acceptance of financial assistance from the US became “consent to jurisdiction” – the PA and PLO found themselves under the purview of US courts.

When this change went into effect, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas informed Washington, “The government of Palestine respectfully informs the government of the United States that…it fully disclaims and no longer wishes to accept any form of assistance referenced in ATCA.”

Not an admission of guilt – Palestinian leadership has always denounced politically motivated violence – this move by Abbas shielded the PA from bankruptcy by removing its “consent” from the newly-minted jurisdiction.

Fast-forward to today: Congress’ latest iteration of the anti-Palestinian legislation seeks an insidious new form of collective punishment for the beleaguered Palestinian government and people.

At the same time, our legislators on Capitol Hill refuse to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing thoroughly documented and egregious human rights violations.

To contact your Congress members about the legislation, go here.

Kathryn Shihadah is staff writer for If Americans Knew.

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Exposing the 9/11 Deception – Christopher Bollyn, #412

Christopher Bollyn in NYC on 9/11; companies hired to do ground zero “clean-up”; hot spots; analysis of nuclear footprint at ground zero; analysis of smoke and the particle effect that caused debilitating illnesses in NYC; the mysterious “final load” moved out of ground zero; same criminal network behind 9/11 and Jeffrey Epstein; Ronald Lauder; privatization programs; Ehud Barak; University of Alaska Fairbanks study on WTC 7; Commissioner of the Franklin Square and Munson Fire District calling for a new investigation; government officials conduct the cover-up; Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; surveillance state; dystopia created by 9/11 attacks; motivation of 9/11 to create the war on terror; Bollyn’s new book.

Aired: September 11, 2019

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September 24, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , | 3 Comments

Saudis Blame Iran for Aramco Strikes But Retaliate by Bombing Yemeni Civilians

By Ahmed Abdulkareem | MintPress News | September 24, 2019

AMRAN, YEMEN — Unlike the burning fields of neighboring Saudi Arabia, in Yemen scenes of massive fires have become commonplace, a reality that civilians do not accept but have come to expect. For nearly five years, since the Saudi-led Coalition began its bombing campaign in Yemen, Yemeni residents have watched as their neighbors’ homes have burned to the ground, often with whole families still inside, and as schools, factories, hospitals, mosques, and markets are rendered into piles of soot and ash following massive infernos sparked by near-constant Saudi airstrikes. Yet, unlike the attacks on Saudi oil facilities, rarely do the attacks on Yemen garner international media coverage or condemnation.

Thirty-two-year-old Yemeni Bedouin Saleh Masoud Jarwan did not expect that he and his family would be the next victims of the Saudi airstrikes, but on Monday Saleh was killed along with six family members in an airstrike by Coalition jets in Yemen’s Amran province. Saleh had hoped that Yemen would be safe after the attack on the Saudi Aramco facility, assuming that the attack would be enough to encourage the Kingdom to halt its drone and missile attacks against Yemen.

The scene of the attack was illuminated in red from the massive fires that followed the airstrikes, and this fire was not fueled by oil but by the bodies of more than ten civilians, including women and children. The screaming and crying of two children who survived the initial onslaught provided a backdrop to the shouts of rescuers who frantically worked their shovels and called out to victims as they worked to free Saleh and his family from the rubble of the mosque that collapsed on them in the airstrike.  

A sustained Saudi barrage

The Coalition is estimated to have carried out at least 42 airstrikes in just a 24-hour period alone. By 2 a.m. on Sunday, local residents in the al-Sawad district of North Amran were living in horror as they sheltered in schools and mosques hoping to escape death from above as at least 12 Coalition airstrikes leveled their neighborhood. Thekra, Moamer, and Kubra — three young girls between the ages of three and eight — were among those who took refuge in a local mosque, only to be killed after Saudi warplanes brought it down over their heads.

In the village of al-Addi in the Harf Sufyan district, the air was suffused with the smell of charred bodies after a Saudi airstrike hit a car, instantly killing the two civilians inside. That attack was followed hours later by airstrikes targeting the nearby home of Ahmed Jimaie.

On Tuesday, 16 civilians, including four women and seven children, were killed when Saudi airstrikes hit the home of Abbas al-Halmi in Qataba, Al-Dali governorate, according to a local resident who spoke to MintPress but was unable to provide further details on the attack. The bodies of three children were later recovered from the rubble of that attack, adding to the already staggering death toll.

Saudis blame Iran, punish Yemen

The Grand Mufti of Yemen, Shams al-Din Sharaf al-Din, the highest religious authority in Yemen, laid blame on those who declared solidarity with Saudi Arabia following last week’s Aramco attacks but remain silent in the face of atrocities committed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in Yemen.

These latest Saudi-led Coalition attacks came days after Yemen’s Houthis announced responsibility for a spate of retaliatory attacks against positions inside Saudi Arabia. It is unclear why the Coalition launched the ostensibly retaliatory attacks on Yemen, as they claim that it was Iran, not the Houthis, that carried out the oil-field attacks.

Mahdi al-Mashat, Ansarullah’s (the Houthis’ political bloc) president of the Supreme Political Council in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, warned that Yemenis would not hesitate to “launch a period of great pain if their calls for peace were ignored.” Al-Mashat made the comments following an announcement that the Houthis would temporarily cease all retaliatory missile and drone attacks against the Saudi monarchy as part of a Yemeni peace initiative. Al-Mashat said:

We announce the cessation of the targeting of Saudi Arabia’s territory by airborne missiles, ballistic missiles, drones and all forms of targeting, and we await a response to this initiative with a similar or a better one to halt all forms of attack.”

That announcement came just three days before the Coalition launched its deadly attacks in Amran.

The United Nations welcomed Ansarullah’s proposal, saying in a statement issued on Saturday by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, that it marked an important opportunity to move forward with all necessary steps to reduce violence, military escalation, and unhelpful rhetoric.

Griffiths emphasized that the implementation of the proposal by the Houthis was in good faith and could send a powerful message of their will to end the war. Saudi Arabia has so far refused to accept the offer and Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir dismissed it, saying, “We judge other parties by their deeds [and] actions and not by their words, so we will see.”

The peace initiative follows Houthi airstrikes on two of Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, which led to a suspension of about 50 percent of the Arab kingdom’s crude and gas production. That attack on a vital economic interest of the Kingdom garnered widespread support among many in Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a. On September 14, the day of that attack, hundreds of thousands of residents from Sana’a and its neighboring provinces took to the streets carrying Yemeni flags and holding banners emblazoned with messages of steadfastness and support for Houthi drone and missile forces.

Many Yemenis see Aramco attack as justified last line of self-defense

For many, the Houthis’ setting fire to the Kingdom’s Aramco oil fields represented the last hope to quell Saudi attacks on Yemen. In a staggering show of solidarity on Sunday, an estimated 1,200 cars filled the streets of 70th Area, a neighborhood in southern Sana’a, to drop off food donations for families of victims of Saudi airstrikes. According to many of the families, the attack on Aramco is revenge for the blood of the estimated 100,000 people killed in the Saudi-led Coalition’s war in Yemen.

Indeed, the Coalition has used systematic economic strangulation as a weapon of war — targeting jobs, infrastructure, the agricultural sector, fuel and water pumping stations, factories, and the provision of basic services, as well as imposing a land, sea and air embargo impacting the country’s imports, causing the spread of famine throughout the country. This, to the many in Yemen who celebrated the Aramco attack, is sufficient justification for targeting the heart of Saudi Arabia’s economy.

However, many still doubt that the Houthis were capable of carrying out an attack of the scale and range of the one that struck Saudi Arabia — instead accusing Iran of orchestrating the attacks. Others await the results of an international investigation, but the Houthis, who comprise a major component of Yemen’s resistance to Saudi interference in their country, say the evidence that they carried out the attacks exists and that they will share it with the media.

The Houthis over the past two years have launched a series of sophisticated attacks on Saudi coalition targets deep inside the Kingdom, establishing a precedent for the most recent attacks. Houthi officials say the attacks on the Aramco facilities were launched from three different locations, based on their flight endurance and designated targets, and that various types of combat drones were used in the attack, some capable of carrying four precision-guided bombs and of striking their targets from several angles.

Moreover, the Houthis’ third-generation Qasef (Striker) combat drones and long-endurance Sammad-3 (Invincible-3) drones have an operational range of 1,500 kilometers to 1,700 kilometers.

The attack on Aramco came at a time when the de facto leader of the Kingdom, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was attempting to refloat the much-delayed public offering of Aramco shares, and that attack would not likely not have succeeded without the cooperation of members of Saudi royalty and former Saudi officers, according to some Houthi sources.

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

September 24, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 20 Comments

Iran’s tango with Europe is rooted in its traditions and culture

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | September 24, 2019

The joint statement issued by the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom on September 23 indicting Iran for the attacks on the Saudi Aramco plants two weeks ago is at once consequential and declaratory.

The joint statement may seem a serious diplomatic setback for Tehran, as the joint French-German-UK (E3) stance may transform as the European Union position. If that were to happen, only Russia and China, among world powers who are signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, continue to maintain that there isn’t evidence yet to establish Iran’s culpability.

Prima facie, Iran’s dependence on Russian and Chinese goodwill would further increase. Both Moscow and Beijing harbour misgivings about Iran’s nuclear and missile development programmes and some of its regional policies, and have so far played coy refraining from frontally assaulting the US sanctions against Iran, while rhetorically critical. It’s a set pattern.   

Secondly, Iran’s diplomatic thrust projecting itself as a factor of regional stability suffers a PR setback if it is perceived as undermining regional security and risking a major conflict involving the US. Thirdly, the joint statement brings on board other related issues. These are, principally three.

One, the three E3 have repeated their call on Iran “to reverse its decisions to reduce compliance with the deal and to adhere fully to its commitments under it… [and] to cooperate fully with the IAEA.”

Two, the E3 underscored that Iran should “accept negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear programme as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles programme and other means of delivery.” Three, they have urged Iran to engage in “with all relevant partners interested in de-escalation of tensions in the Middle East” and “refrain from further provocation and escalation.”

Clearly, this is a one-sided statement.  Tehran insists that its compliance with the 2015 deal is part of mutual commitments, but not only the US but also the E3 failed to fulfil their part of the commitments, which in turn compelled Iran to react in accordance with the stipulated provisions of the deal (which allow Tehran to take steps if other parties are defaulting.)

Again, Tehran has also repeatedly stated that its missile programme constitutes a “red line” and it is not open to discussions / negotiations. Suffice to say, the joint statement marks a calibrated distancing from Iran on the part of the European powers.

The joint statement smacks of the “Boris Johnson effect” — London acting as the US’ junior partner. It cannot be a coincidence that Britain pushed for a European stance critical of Iran at a juncture when the US and UK are stepping up efforts to assemble a politico-military coalition to address maritime security in the Persian Gulf (basically, to isolate and provoke Iran in its backyard.)

Britain is considering participation in the US-led military coalition alongside Saudi Arabia and the UAE. France and Germany remain lukewarm about the Anglo-American enterprise.

Having said that, the E3 are also highly vulnerable to pressure from petrodollar states of the Persian Gulf, and in this case Saudi Arabia and UAE have high stakes.

Conceivably, the Trump administration can derive satisfaction that the European stance on the Iran question has edged closer to its policies (although E3 do not subscribe to the maximum pressure approach.)

How Tehran perceives this E3 shift is important. Iran’s diplomacy is supple and Tehran will unlikely deny itself the diplomatic usages of the European conduit.

The point is, Iran greatly values its strategic autonomy and factors in that Russian and Chinese support comes with strings attached. Besides, Iran’s ambitions as a regional power demand the creation of an advanced economy with innovation, which is only possible if it has access to western technology and capital.

Therefore, while the “Look East” and multipolarity of the world order remain key templates of Iran’s world view, that cannot come at the cost of Iran’s integration into the western world.

Arguably, the mildly worded European statement leaves the door open still for further cogitations between France and Iran over the diplomatic negotiations initiated on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarritz recently.

Just a few hours before releasing the E-3 statement, French President Emmanuel Macron had warned that “one must be very careful in attributing responsibility” for the Aramco attacks.

“There are clusters of clues, but this bombardment is a new military event that changes the region’s ecosystem,” he said, stressing that caution was needed in apportioning blame for the attack. Since then, Macron also has had a meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in New York on September 23.

Given the “westernism” in Iran’s psyche and considering the European powers’ manifest keenness to have a productive relationship with Iran, both Iran and the E3 will ensure that life moves on.

Historically, Britain has a profound understanding of Iran’s politics, culture and traditions and it is hard to see even PM Boris Johnson identifying with US’ maximum pressure approach, although he has taken a position closer to Trump.

For the present, London feels somewhat humiliated over the “tanker war” with Iran, but it cannot be the new normal. Johnson is due to meet Rouhani today and may even be transmitting messages from Trump.

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 3 Comments

Beware False Flag Drone Attacks

Opinion by Walrus | Sic Semper Tyrannis | September 21, 2019

The corollary to the Houthis brilliant use of do – it – yourself drones and perhaps cruise missiles, is that anyone else can do the same. This makes the possibility of false flag attacks using such weapons more likely in my opinion. Such attacks would not even necessarily require the resources of a State actor to execute, all the materials, bar perhaps the explosive, are freely available around the globe.

I will not explain the mechanics of manufacturing such weapons. Take it from me that a group of determined hobbyists could do so, provided they have sufficient security and money. Such weapons could be labeled for example “made in Iran” in such depth that it would be impossible to refute their origin, no matter how good ones forensics are.

A State actor, perhaps bent on mischief, could do this rather quickly. While this is just a guess, I would be surprised if various Western countries security services did not already have an operation underway to replicate the Houthi achievements, if only to answer the politicians question: “How did they do that??” and to start thinking about countermeasures.

My reason for being concerned enough to raise this topic is that President Trump has committed troops to Saudi Arabia and we already have other troops and assets in the region. If they were subject to attack and we took casualties, I don’t see how the President could avoid war assuming Iran was blamed.

What triggered me was this article in the WSJ (paywalled) whose opening sentence is:

Yemeni Rebels Warn Iran Plans Another Strike Soon

“BEIRUT—Houthi militants in Yemen have warned foreign diplomats that Iran is preparing a follow-up strike to the missile and drone attack that crippled Saudi Arabia’s oil industry a week ago, people familiar with the matter said.

Leaders of the group said they were raising the alarm about the possible new attack after they were pressed by Iran to play a role in it…”

Once technology is out of the box, as the Houthis have demonstrated, it can’t be returned. How do we avoid false flag attacks?

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 2 Comments

US refusal to issue visas to Russian UN General Assembly delegates is ‘political move’ – senator

RT | September 24, 2019

The chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s international affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachyov, has described the US’ refusal to issue entry visas to a number of Russian delegates to the UN General Assembly session as a political decision.

“The US deliberately took a move to delay the issuance of visas. This is obviously a political, not a technical decision,” he was quoted as saying. The Russian delegation had asked for visas 55 days ago, the senator noted. “Such actions by the American side require a ‘painful’ response from Russia,” Kosachyov told reporters.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier that the US has broken international rules by failing to issue visas to Russian senators, adding that a tough response from both Moscow and the United Nations is needed.

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 2 Comments

Never Forget, Never Again

By Assad Al-Liftawi – empirestrikesblack – September 23, 2019

You say ‘never forget’

But what is there to forget when you don’t know what indeed happened?

You bow down at the altar of jingoism

Renewing your religion

Every year, a minute’s silence

Singing the hymn of American exceptionalism

Uttering hollow clichés claiming to ‘never forget’

As you drag the names of the dead through the mud

Refusing to do justice to their sacrifice

Alas you will never forget because you haven’t known the truth to be remembered

Dov Zakheim flew those planes

Chertoff released the ‘Israeli’ spies

Silverstein took the lease and buried the evidence

The ‘Israelis’ danced in Manhattan

But you don’t even know, so how could you forget?

Never forget: ‘Israel’ did 9/11

Or perhaps not ‘Israel’?

The Mossad and her network of sayanim

Dug in to the States like ticks on a host

From D.C. to NYC and everywhere in between

Remember, remember the 11th of September

How dare you say ‘never forget’?

When you refuse to honour the dead with the truth

‘Never question’ would fit you more

As you toe the line you’re fed

Walk on, walk on

Two decades of slumber

Never forget

September 24, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

Post-Election Horse-Trading Begins in Israel and All Outcomes Spell More Trouble for Palestinians

By Miko Peled | MintPress News | September 24, 2019

As the dust settles from the recent elections in apartheid Israel, the horse-trading begins. This horse-trading will determine which one of two war criminals will end up leading the racist, brutal state as its prime minister.

There are two distinct and diametrically opposed approaches to viewing the Israeli elections — one that focuses on reality and one that focuses on gossip. The reality deals with Israel being a perpetrator of terrorism and destruction in Palestine for over seven decades. The two men who now compete for the prime minister’s seat are both responsible for much of the terror and destruction and it is not unlikely that one day they will sit side by side as defendants facing a war-crimes tribunal.

The gossip deals with which one of these glorified war criminals will actually be the prime minister and what deals will have to be made to get him there.

It is not common to hear Israeli actions described as terrorism and destruction, nor are there any attempts by international bodies to curb them. At the same time, the most common accusation against Palestinians and those who support justice for Palestinians is that they are engaged in terrorism and anti-Semitism and are bent on destroying Israel.

Zionist terrorism plagues Palestine

Zionist terrrorism has not only plagued Palestine for more than a century, it has become a menace to countries around the world, as Israeli agents have executed Palestinian leaders practicaly everywhere, showing no regard for the laws and sovereignty of governments even in countries that have good relations with Israel.

Though Zionist terrorist attacks began much earlier, from the end of 1947 through all of 1948 and well into 1949 Zionist terror militias, like Roman legions, swept through Palestine, terrorizing the population and destroying towns and villages all across the country. They destroyed without regard for international law, human decency, or even the historic value of the places. Then, once this campaign of terror ended, the newly formed Israeli army — a more organized, better funded, and better-armed version of the terrorist militias that preceded it — was used to terrorize the Palestinians who were now vanquished to Israeli controlled areas or refugee camps outside of Palestine.

In Palestine, it was done through the military rule that was imposed on the Palestinians who remained in the country. In the newly formed Gaza Strip — the name given to the massive ghetto Israel created and into which it pushed Palestinian refugees — it was the Israeli army. A special terror squad was created that would enter the Gaza Strip and commit acts of terror to further frighten the Palestinian refugees. Similar terror attacks by Israeli army units took place in other countries surrounding Palestine as well.

Terrorism and violation of sovereignty 

Israeli terror squads operated and continue to operate in foreign countries in violation of their sovereignty and the laws of their lands. This is true not only for countries, like Lebanon or Iran, that Israel regards as hostile states, but also for friendly countries like France and Norway.

The list of violations Israel has committed is too long to list, but here are several examples that are worth mentioning. On July 8, 1972, a massive explosion in Beirut took the life of the Palestinian writer and leader Ghassan Kanafani. A bomb was planted in his car, killing him and his 16-year-old niece, Lamees. A year later, Israeli forces invaded Lebanon and assassinated several other Palestinians in their homes as they were sleeping. One of these was Yousef Al-Najjar, whose wife was also killed in the raid.

These were blatant violations of the sovereignty of a neighboring country, not to mention cold-blooded assassinations for which no one was held accountable. Israel had also for decades entered Lebanese air space in violation of its sovereignty and bombed Palestinain refugee camps, taking untold numbers of innocent lives.

In 1973 Israel murdered Ahmed Bouchikhi, an innocent man in Lillehammer, Norway, mistaking him for Fatah leader Abu Hassan Salameh. No one was arrested or served jail time, though this was a gross violation of the sovereignty of another nation and an act of terrorism. The lack of consequence seems to have encouraged Israel to continue pursuing terrorism.

In 1992 Israel assassinated Palestinian leader Atef Bseiso on a Paris street. Bseiso was heavily involved in U.S.-PLO talks and in laying the groundwork for PLO-Israeli negotiations that at that point had been going on for several years. In this case, too, no one was held accountable.

In 1997 Israel attempted and failed to assassinate Khaled Mash’al, who was at the time the head of Hamas’ political bureau. The attempt took place in broad daylight on a street in Amman, Jordan, a country with which Israel has diplomatic relations, when Israeli agents tried to inject poison into one of Mash’al’s ears. The assassins were clumsy and were caught by the Jordanian police. King Hussein of Jordan demanded that Israel immediately send an antidote, which it did in exchange for the release of the agents.

For many of the terror attacks and assassinations it has perpetrated, Israel has used the excuse of “retaliation” for the attack during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. The claim has generally been that the people assassinated were somehow involved, although no proof was ever provided. On top of that, even if it were true, without a proper trial the Israeli violence has no legitimacy.

Destruction of Palestine

Israel has been destroying Palestinian towns, cities, neighborhoods, and historical and religious monuments without hesitation. Ancient names of ancient streets are changed, names of historical villages are erased, and an entire fictional historical narrative is created to cover up for Israel’s attempted erasure of Palestine.

Rather than protest the destruction, the world, and particularly the West, accepted and even helped spread the new narrative, ignoring the erasure of a country and a history that is thousands of years old. This was done to the point where school children around the world study the Zionist-biblical narrative of “Israel,” rather than studying the actual history of Palestine.

Who will lead next?

In the coming weeks we will find out which war criminal will lead and navigate this legacy of terrorist attacks and destruction over the next few years. While people with a taste for gossip will enjoy discussing whose backside precisely will end up in what chair around the Israeli cabinet table, those who dread the future of Palestinians will focus on the reality in Palestine. That reality is the oppression of Palestinians, 5 million of whom live within Palestine and whose lives are affected directly by the decisions of the Israeli government, yet who are not permitted to participate in the democratic process.

The Joint List, a list of four political parties that are predominantly Palestinian citizens of Israel, came out somewhat a winner and is the third largest party in the Israeli Knesset. While this is a pleasant bit of gossip, the reality is that even if they had won twice that number of seats they would still be marginalized and ignored by the Zionist power brokers, who always find ways to sideline them and prevent them from participating in the process in a way that would give their constituents a voice.

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Spanish multinational CAF and Israeli Shapir win tender to expand the Jerusalem light rail

Who Profits | August 2019

In August 2019, the Israeli Ministry of Finance announced that TransJerusalem J-Net Ltd, a consortium comprised of the Spanish multinational company CAF- Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles and the Israeli public company Shapir Engineering and Industry, won the tender to expand the Jerusalem light rail[1], which connects Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem with the western part of the city. The tender, estimated at 11 billion NIS[2] (more than 3 billion USD), includes the construction, operation and maintenance of the Green Line, the extension of the existing Red Line, and the operation and maintenance of the Red Line, currently operated by the CityPass consortium.

CAF, which specializes in the design and implementation of transit systems,[3] will hold a 50% stake in J-Net.[4] In February 2019, the company’s workers’ council voted against participating in the Jerusalem light rail and urged the company to withdraw from the bid, stating that “CAF’s workers do not deserve to assume the responsibility for carrying out a job rejected by the overwhelming majority of the international community.”[5] Shapir Engineering and Industry, which specializes in construction, development and infrastructure projects, will hold the remaining 50%.[6]

The Jerusalem light rail connects Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem with the western part of the city, expropriating occupied Palestinian land and promoting increased territorial contiguity for settlements.[7] Executed through public-private partnerships, the light rail project depends on the participation of Israeli and multinational companies for its implementation.

Currently, the only active line is the Red Line, which runs from the settlement neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev through the city center to Mt. Herzel. The construction of the line involved the expropriation of 8.16 hectares (81,600m2)[8] of land in East Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods, in violation of international law. The winning consortium will also construct the extension of the Red Line, which will reach the settlement of Neve Yaakov.[9]

The planned Green Line will connect the settlement neighborhood of Gilo to the western part of the city and to Mt. Scopus. The project includes the construction of 53 new stations, the supply of 144 railroad cars and the renovation of the existing 46 cars of the Red Line.[1] The winning consortium will also supply the communication systems for the light rail and operate and maintain both lines – 15 years for the Red Line and 25 years for the Green Line – with the possibility of extending the term of operation.[2]

By taking an active part in an infrastructure project that strengthens the illegal settlement enterprise and the continued fragmentation of Palestinian communities, the companies are facilitating the illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem and are complicit in violations of international law.

[1] CAF Press Release. The Consortium Made Up of the CAF Group and the Construction Firm Shapir Awarded the Jerusalem Tram Project. August 2019.

[2] Ibid.

[1] Company’s announcement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. 08 August 2019.

[2] Government of Israel. Infrastructure for Growth. 2019

[3] Company Annual Report, 2018.

[4] CAF Press Release. The Consortium Made Up of the CAF Group and the Construction Firm Shapir Awarded the Jerusalem Tram Project. August 2019.

[5] Nieuwhof, Adri. Workers Reject Spanish Firm’s Bid for Israeli Settlement Project. Electronic Intifada, February 2019.

[6] Company’s announcement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. 08 August 2019.

[7] Who Profits. Tracking Annexation: The Jerusalem Light Rail and the Israeli Occupation. July 2017.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

Will ‘Ukraine-Gate’ Imperil Biden’s Bid?

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • September 24, 2019

With the revelation by an intel community “whistleblower” that President Donald Trump, in a congratulatory call to the new president of Ukraine, pushed him repeatedly to investigate the Joe Biden family connection to Ukrainian corruption, the cry “Impeach!” is being heard anew in the land.

But revisiting how this latest scandal came about, and how it has begun to unfold, it is a good bet that the principal casualty could be the former vice president. Consider:

In May 2016, Joe Biden, as Barack Obama’s designated point man on Ukraine, flew to Kiev to inform President Petro Poroshenko that a billion-dollar U.S. loan guarantee had been approved to enable Kiev to continue to service its mammoth debt.

But, said Biden, the aid was conditional. There was a quid pro quo.

If Poroshenko’s regime did not fire its chief prosecutor in six hours, Biden would fly home and Ukraine would get no loan guarantee. Ukraine capitulated instantly, said Joe, reveling in his pro-consul role.

Yet, left out of Biden’s drama about how he dropped the hammer on a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor was this detail.

The prosecutor had been investigating Burisma Holdings, the biggest gas company in Ukraine. And right after the U.S.-backed coup that ousted the pro-Russian government in Kiev, and after Joe Biden had been given the lead on foreign aid for Ukraine, Burisma had installed on its board, at $50,000 a month, Hunter Biden, the son of the vice president.

Joe Biden claims that, though he was point man in the battle on corruption in Ukraine, he was unaware his son was raking in hundreds of thousands from one of the companies being investigated.

Said Joe on Saturday, “I have never spoken to my son about his various business dealings.”

Is this credible?

Trump and Rudy Giuliani suspect not, and in that July 25 phone call, Trump urged President Volodymyr Zelensky to reopen the investigation of Hunter Biden and Burisma.

The media insist there is no story here and the real scandal is that Trump pressed Zelensky to reopen the investigation to target his strongest 2020 rival. Worse, say Trump’s accusers, would be if the president conditioned the transfer of $250 million in approved military aid to Kiev on the new regime’s acceding to his demands.

The questions raised are several:

Is it wrong to make military aid to a friendly nation conditional on that nation’s compliance with legitimate requests or demands of the United States? Is it illegitimate to ask a friendly government to look into what may be corrupt conduct by the son of a U.S. vice president?

Joe Biden has an even bigger problem: This issue has begun to dominate the news at an especially vulnerable moment for his campaign.

Biden’s stumbles and gaffes have already raised alarms among his followers and been seized upon by rivals such as Cory Booker, who has publicly suggested that the 76-year-old former vice president is losing it.

Biden’s lead in the polls also appears shakier with each month. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has just taken a narrow lead in a Des Moines Register poll and crusading against Beltway corruption is central to her campaign.

“Too many politicians in both parties have convinced themselves that playing the money-for-influence game is the only way to get things done,” Warren told her massive rally in New York City: “No more business as usual. Let’s attack the corruption head on.”

Soon, it will not only be Trump and Giuliani asking Biden questions abut Ukraine, Burisma and Hunter, but Democrats, too. Calls are rising for Biden’s son to be called to testify before congressional committees.

With Trump airing new charges daily, Biden will be asked to respond by his traveling press. The charges and the countercharges will become what the presidential campaign is all about. Bad news for Joe Biden.

Can he afford to spend weeks, perhaps months, answering for his son’s past schemes to enrich himself through connections to foreign regimes that seem less related to Hunter’s talents than his being the son of a former vice president and possible future president?

“Ukraine-gate” is the latest battle in the death struggle between the “deep state” and a president empowered by Middle America to go to Washington and break that deep state’s grip on the national destiny.

Another issue is raised here — the matter of whistleblowers listening in to or receiving readouts of presidential conversations with foreign leaders and having the power to decide for themselves whether the president is violating his oath and needs to be reported to Congress.

Eisenhower discussed coups in Iran and Guatemala and the use of nuclear weapons in Korea and the Taiwan Strait. JFK, through brother Bobby, cut a secret deal with Khrushchev to move U.S. missiles out of Turkey six months after the Soviets removed their missiles from Cuba.

Who deputized bureaucratic whistleblowers to pass judgment on such conversations and tattle to Congress if they were offended?

Copyright 2019

September 24, 2019 Posted by | Corruption | , | 1 Comment