Aletho News


Afghanistan’s grand assembly approves freeing of 400 Taliban prisoners

Press TV – August 9, 2020

Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga, or grand assembly of elders, has approved the release of 400 imprisoned Taliban militants who had been involved in serious crimes in Afghanistan, removing the final obstacle to negotiations between the Afghan government and the militants.

After three days of deliberation, the elders approved the release of the 400 militant prisoners on Sunday.

Former president Hamid Karzai told the convention, “This is a very happy day. Based on the information I have, the intra-Afghan talks would begin within two to three days after the release of the 400 Taliban prisoners.”

Chief negotiator Abdullah Abdullah, who is the head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), said, “The decision of the Loya Jirga has removed the last excuse and obstacles on the way to peace talks. We are on the verge of peace talks.”

Kabul and the Afghan Taliban have been involved in a prisoner exchange for a couple of months. The prisoner swap was an Afghan government obligation under a deal between the United States and the Taliban that was struck in February. Kabul was excluded from the talks, and the obligation was imposed on it.

The exchange has been regarded as a first step toward broader talks between the government and the Taliban. The prospect of the talks was dimmed after Kabul refused to free hundreds of inmates involved in serious crimes. Last month, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he had “no authority” under the country’s constitution to release the remaining inmates because of their involvement in serious crimes. Ghani said the decision on the release of those militants had to be made by the Loya Jirga.

Under the deal with the Taliban, the US will start a phased withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced on Saturday that a sizable number of US troops would be pulled out of Afghanistan before the end of November.

The United States invaded Afghanistan and toppled a Taliban regime in 2001 under the pretext of fighting terrorism following the September 11 attacks.

Official data shows that bombings and other assaults by the Taliban have surged 70 percent since the militant group signed the deal with the United States.

August 9, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | Leave a comment

Saudi king suggested ground invasion of Qatar to Trump in June 2017: Report

Press TV – August 9, 2020

A new report has revealed that Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud proposed a plan to US President Donald Trump to invade Qatar in the summer of 2017, as a bitter feud between Saudi Arabia and the Doha government escalated.

According to American news magazine Foreign Policy, the Saudi monarch put forward the proposal during a telephone conversation with Trump back on June 6, 2017, suggesting a ground invasion of Qatar.

Trump, however, roundly dismissed the idea, and requested Kuwait to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Qatar to resolve the conflict.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017, after the quartet officially accused Doha of meddling in regional affairs and supporting terrorism.

Qatar’s Foreign Ministry condemned the decision to cut diplomatic ties as unjustified and based on false claims and assumptions.

That year, Saudi Arabia and its allies issued a 13-point list of demands, including the closure of al-Jazeera television news network and downgrade of relations with Iran, in return for the reconciliation.

The document also asked Qatar to cut all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah. Qatar rebuffed the demands as “unreasonable.”

Director of the Information Office at the Qatari Foreign Ministry, Ahmed bin Saeed bin Jabor al-Rumaihi, reacted to the report, stating that charges that Saudi Arabia and its allies have been trying to level against his country since June 2017 are meant “only to create justifications to achieve other targets that gamble with the future of the region and its people.”

“The military option, which was considered by the blockading countries, violates international law and all international conventions, which we have approved as a member country of the UN, to resolve disputes peacefully. It also clearly indicates a ‘gambling irresponsible policy’, similar to that which led the region to a state of instability in the beginning of the 1970s,” Rumaihi said in a series of Arabic posts published on his Twitter page.

He underlined that Saudi Arabia’s decision up until now not to deny the report of the US magazine “indicates the reality of what had happened.”

“The military option proposal, as revealed by the magazine, corroborates remarks made by Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah at a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump on September 7, 2017 at the White House, where he said the Kuwaiti mediation successfully stopped military invasion of Qatar,” he pointed out.

Back in May 2019, US daily The Wall Street Journal revealed that the Saudi army prepared in 2017 to invade Qatar.

The newspaper quoted American, Saudi and Qatari officials as saying that the Saudi plan included the seizure of the North Field, which is the largest single, non-associated gas reservoir in the world.

August 9, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Biden orders removal of Israel occupation reference from election campaign

MEMO | August 8, 2020

US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has ordered the removal of any reference to the Israeli occupation in his campaign programme just days before it was released on 15 July, Foreign Policy revealed on Thursday.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who withdrew his presidential campaign in favour of Biden, had agreed with Biden that he would include in the Democratic Party platform an assertion that Palestinians had a right to live free of foreign “occupation”, referring to Israel.

However, under pressure from pro-Israeli advocacy groups, Biden made a last-minute decision to remove any reference to the Israeli occupation, Foreign Policy reported three sources confirming.

Therefore, Biden aides asked the progressive leaders in the Democratic Party and urged them to drop their demand to declare Israel an occupying power, the magazine reported.

According to the magazine, Biden aides argued that the inclusion of the word “occupation” threatened to undermine unity within the Democratic Party.

“The question of whether to allow the text to refer to ‘occupation’ or use the phrase ‘end the occupation’ was taken to the vice president and he said ‘no’,” Jason Isaacson, chief policy and political affairs officer at the American Jewish Committee, told Foreign Policy.

“This is not an issue on which the party can bend because it would be contrary to the position of Joe Biden,” Isaacson added.

Foreign Policy noted that the retraction reflected Biden’s reluctance to reverse decades of staunch support for Israel.

It also stated that this retreat marked something of a victory for the party’s establishment, which has sought to preserve close relations with Israel, even as its Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has moved increasingly close to the Republican Party and its standard-bearer, President Donald Trump.

“The party platform section on Israel and Palestine is a clear victory for those supporting a return to mainstream Democratic policies of the past and a loss for the progressives seeking more restrictive or conditional support for Israel,” Peter Mulrean, who served for three decades in the State Department and subsequently oversaw United Nations aid programmes for Palestinians, informed the magazine.

August 9, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 6 Comments

Lebanon: The Beirut Blast, Destabilisation, Chaos, And An Attempt At Regime Change

By Feroze Mithiborwala | OneWorld | August 9, 2020

Interference By The US & France In The Immediate Aftermath Of The Terror Attack

Statements by US Ambassador Dorothy Shea & French President Macron are clear pointers to this nefarious design.

USA Ambassador Shea issued a statement supporting the rioters stating, “The Lebanese people deserve leadership that listens to their demands for transparency and accountability.”

In fact MK Moshe Feiglin, an extreme right-winger from Israeli PM Netanyahu’s Likud Party, could not hide his happiness at the tragedy that had befallen Beirut. Feiglin wrote that he was, “sending his thanks to G-d, and all the geniuses and heroes really (!) who organized for us this wonderful celebration in honour of the Day of Love.”

Feiglin surely seems to know the “geniuses & heroes who organised” this massive terror attack. Interesting indeed, should I say, “Elementary my dear Watson!”

President Macron of France, the old colonial power, immediately flew into Beirut on the 6th of August, two days after the terror attack on the 4th of August & went on to say, “If reforms are not carried out, Lebanon will continue to sink. What is also needed here is political change. This explosion should be the start of a new era.”

This is the same Macron facing massive popular protests in France from hundreds of thousands of discontented & angry farmers, workers, students, and pensioners who are protesting against Macrons’ neo-liberal reforms and massive corruption. The Yellow Vest movement as it’s popularly called faces great repression and violence from the French police. Thus the pretentious & arrogant Macron is hardly qualified to preach to other nations. In fact, on a lighter note, the French are appealing to the Lebanese to keep Macron in Beirut as he’s a disaster for France.

Which country, which government, which army will permit an ambassador or a president of a foreign nation to make such provocative statements immediately in the aftermath of such a massive terror attack on their soil?

The entire Beirut port destroyed, more than a 150 dead and counting, more than 5,000 injured, with an unprecedented 300,000 people who have lost their homes. The population of Beirut itself is around a million, whilst the entire population on Lebanon is around 4 million. It will take between an estimated $10 to $15 billion to rebuild the port and the city. Beirut city itself has been declared a national disaster.

An online petition has been floated on Avaaz appealing to France to once again come & rule Lebanon under the French Colonial mandate for 10 years. This is truly pathetic & the collaborators will soon be exposed.
These are all clear signals for the collaborator forces to carry out a coup, ensuring US, French, Israeli & Saudi support.

Protesters Resort To Violence & Vandalism

Protesters have killed one policeman, even as many protesters have been injured in violent clashes with the police. A group of retired army officers too got into the act & took over the Foreign Ministry & announced that it was the HQ of the revolution & appealed to the protesters to take over other government buildings. Three hours later they were vacated by a contingent of the Lebanese Army.

The protesters are destroying, burning documents & files in key government ministries, namely Foreign Affairs, the Economic & the Environment Ministries. These are clear attempts to destroy the evidence & thus pre-empt the time-bound investigation being carried out by the government looking into the Beirut blast.

On their part, the Lebanese government, President Michel Aoun, PM Hassan Diab, and the Army have stated that the people have legitimate grievances and the right to protest. But the protests must be peaceful and the vandalisation of property, of government buildings, and destruction documents will not be allowed. PM Diab has also called for elections to be held within a period of 2 months.

Target: The Lebanese National Resistance

The target of this terror attack, contrived destabilisation & chaos is undoubtedly Hezbollah & all the constituents of Lebanese National Resistance that have all made great sacrifices whilst valiantly resisting the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. They have defended & successfully defeated Israel, when finally the Zionist military machine was forced to retreat in the year 2000, though yet they continue to occupy the Sheba farms.

This was followed by another Israeli invasion in 2006, where again the Lebanese National Resistance defeated Israel & ended their military domination of the region. Israeli terror, its military machine had finally been counter-balanced by the courage & resilience of the Resistance.

The Beirut Port Blast

In context of the Beirut blast, aspersions are being cast and anger mainly being directed against Hezbollah for storing weapons at the port, a charge that Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has denied & scoffed at. Hezbollah is the primary target of the Israeli war machine and thus Hezbollah takes great precautions in hiding & securing its weaponry from being targeted by Israel. Thus a public place like the port is clearly out of the question. On his part, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has called for an open & transparent investigation into the Beirut blast.

Key Questions For The Investigation

The investigation will prove who were the real perpetrators & thus some of the key issues that they need to ascertain are the following:-

▪ Who controlled the port security?

▪ Was there a Hezbollah weapons depot?

▪ Who was responsible for the storage of the ammonium nitrate, since when was it present, why was it allowed to remain in the port?

▪ Was the destruction caused by an advanced potent weapon fired by a foreign nation?

▪ According to the Lebanese Army, there were 29 aerial incursions of Lebanese airspace by Israeli fighter-jets over the 1st & 2nd of August just 48 hours prior to the blast on the 4th of August.

▪Radar images of unusual patrols and reconnaissance operations of four US Navy spy planes on the Lebanon-Syria border are also part of the evidence. Was the US monitoring the operation leading to the massive attack on Beirut?

So Who Controls Access To The Port?

According to Steven Sahounie, a Damascus-based journalist & political analyst, “Hassan Koraytem is the General Manager of the Port Authority of Beirut, and a member of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s ‘Future Party’, which controls access to the Port.”

Thus once again we have the Hariri factor, the pro-US-Saudi ally in control of the port. Another key part of the mounting evidence of internal sabotage and an external attack.

On the issue of the ammonium nitrate, that does require further investigation, as it was clearly present in the port. Yet the “white mushroom cloud” that we all have witnessed is evidence of another volatile material, a new weapon, a new advanced missile, that has been ominously plausibly unleashed in this terror attack.

Here Lebanese President General Michel Aoun has publicly stated that, “The cause has not been determined yet. There is a possibility of external interference through a rocket or bomb or other act.”

In fact, US President Trump clearly stated that it was a “terrible attack”, and went on to say that “American generals told him that it was likely caused by a bomb.”

Trump’s public statement is remarkable indeed, as his generals clearly told their President that it was an “attack”.

This later led to denials by Defence Secretary Mark Esper, who insisted that it was an “accident”. Yet the White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows defended the President and stated that Trump only told reporters on Tuesday what military officials had told him. “The president shared with the American people what he was briefed on, with 100% certainty I can tell you that.”

Clearly an attack by an external force, namely Israel, with the full knowledge of the US, France & Saudi Arabia cannot be ruled out. In my estimation, they are the real perpetrators of this vile act of terror. They have a history of such bloody acts, as we all well know.

The Lebanese National Resistance

In this hour of great peril, we stand in solidarity with the Lebanese people & the Lebanese National Resistance and both are intertwined. This remarkable nation has survived despite all the plots to divide the society & engineer civil wars.

Lebanon has survived despite the economic sanctions imposed upon them by the US, France and Saudi Arabia. This has created a severe economic crisis, leading to hyper-inflation & record unemployment rates. That even as Lebanese oligarchs have swindled the banks, leaving Lebanon burdened with gargantuan debt of around $90 billion. This compounded with the fact that the war on Syria itself has led to a great degree of political, economic and social destabilisation within Lebanon.

Do note that effigies of President Michel Aoun & Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah are being selectively burnt by protesters. This is despite the well-known fact that it was the US-Saudi-backed Hariri clan, the Future Party, their allies that control the key sectors of the economy and have gained enormously by their corrupt misrule of the country. Thus if the current Michel Aoun government arrests certain powerful corrupt leaders & individuals, Lebanon will descend into civil war, protected as they are by foreign powers & private militias.

The Lebanese Confessional Political System

According to noted Syrian-Palestinian analyst & Beirut-based journalist Laith Marouf, it is in fact the French gift of the sectarian parliamentary system that has been the bane of Lebanon. The entire political edifice is based on a “confessional system” whereby the political representatives are elected on the basis of their narrow religious and sectarian identities. This has ensured that Lebanon remains internally divided and thus weak. The political system itself is designed to prevent a larger Lebanese national identity from emerging, strait-jacketed as they are in a narrow religio-sectarian system.

This compounded with the fact that there is a disproportionate amount of foreign interference in domestic Lebanese affairs, due to which the government remains divided, weak & indecisive. This in fact provides the space for the unbridled loot & corruption of the ruling classes.

The Lebanese National Resistance

Yet, despite all these seemingly insurmountable hurdles, Lebanese society has given birth to one of the most remarkable national resistance movements of our times. A resistance movement that has withstood and defeated the combined might of the US & Israel over nearly four decades. This in itself is a miracle.

Basically, Lebanon is paying the price of standing with the Axis of the Resistance in the region, namely Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Iran & Yemen. These nations refuse to surrender their sovereignty and their independence to the might of the imperial, Zionist, collaborator nexus & are thus facing an outright war on both the military, and economic fronts.

Despite all the odds, this nation with a population of only 4 million continues to resolutely stand with the Resistance. An overwhelming number of the Lebanese people remain committed to the liberation of Palestine, of the entire region – and it is due to this very reason that they are paying the ultimate price.

All these plots have failed, that even as the Lebanese National Resistance has grown stronger & has gained legitimacy & respect across the world, much to the chagrin of the imperial-collaborator nexus.

We Stand With Lebanon

This is also an appeal to the International solidarity movements against Imperialism & Zionism, the international Palestine solidarity movements, the anti-war movements, to come out and expose this nefarious plot against the Lebanese National Resistance and the liberation movements across the region & the world. An appeal to come and stand with Lebanon and defend the Resistance that today is the vanguard and stands at the front lines & defends the world.

Feroze Mithiborwala is an expert on West Asian affairs, he is also the Founder-National General Secretary of the India Palestine Solidarity Forum and was the organiser of the First Asian Convoy to Gaza (2010) & the Global March to Jerusalem (2012).

August 9, 2020 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | 7 Comments

Belgian court suspends issuing arms export licenses to companies dealing with Riyadh

Press TV – August 8, 2020

Belgium’s highest administrative court has suspended issuing arms export licenses for a number of Belgian companies in a bid to block the flow of arms to Saudi Arabia over its poor human rights record and the bloody campaign against Yemen.

On Friday, the Council of State decided on the move by an emergency ruling, which overturned the decision by the Wallonian minister-president, Elio di Rupo, who had granted licenses to two arms companies FN Herstal and CMI Defence.

Back in early July, Di Rupo had given authorization to the two Wallonia-based companies to sell weapons to the Saudi Arabia’s National Guard and Royal Guard. The licenses were meant to replace previous authorizations canceled by the same court.

“It cannot be excluded that there is a real risk for the weapons … to be used in the context of the conflict in Yemen or to contribute to internal repression,” the Friday ruling said.

The Saudi regime is the most important client of Wallonia’s arms industry. In 2018, Riyadh purchased weapons for $267 million from local arms companies, based in Belgium’s southern region, representing one-quarter of Wallonia’s total arms export.

Wallonian arms company John Cockerill, whose arms export license was suspended by a previous court ruling, gave military training to the Saudi army in eastern France two years ago, Amnesty International says.

Saudi Arabia has violated the very basics of human rights by killing tens of thousands of civilians in its war on Yemen, besides its other rights violations against its own citizens.

The Yemen conflict, which began in earnest in March 2015, has devastated large swathes of the country and triggered multiple humanitarian disasters, including famine and the internal displacement of millions of people into disease-infested camps and areas.

August 9, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Pentagon issues report on Syria war, condemns recruitment of children by SDF

MEMO | August 8, 2020

The Pentagon confirmed in a report on the war in Syria and Iraq that the militia of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continues to recruit children through forcible detention.

On Thursday, the Lead Inspector General issued a report on Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), launched by a US-led international coalition against Daesh in Syria and Iraq, indicating that the SDF militia continues to arrest and recruit children from refugee camps in the areas it controls in north-eastern Syria.

The report pointed out that the SDF militia did not fulfil its pledges to international organisations to not recruit children, stressing that youngsters are still being forcibly recruited.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) published in its report issued on 16 January, new evidence about the exploitation and recruitment of children by SDF militia.

On 29 June, 2019, Virginia Gamba, the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, signed an action plan with SDF leader Ferhat Abdi Shahin, known as Mazloum Abdi, to release child fighters in the militia ranks.

August 9, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments