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Tyranny on the waters: The UAE-Israeli occupation of Yemen’s Socotra Island

By Karim Shami | The Cradle | March 24, 2023

Located off the southern coast of Yemen in the Arabian Sea, the Socotra archipelago has become a focal point of regional and international interest because of its strategic proximity to one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

On 21 June, 2020, the Yemeni island was militarily occupied by Saudi Arabia’s Emirati coalition partner, which has aggressively pursued a policy of establishing and controlling ports throughout West Asia and the Horn of Africa since 1999.

The archipelago consists of four large islands: Socotra (3,796km2), Abd al-Kuri (130.2km2), Samhah (39.6km2), and Darsah (7.5km2), as well as three small islets.

Socotra, the biggest of the islands, lies 350 km south of the Arabian Peninsula and 95 km from Somalia. It is surrounded by the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea, and faces the Horn of Africa from the west. Around 20,000 shipping vessels pass around Socotra each year, including 9 percent of the world’s annual global petroleum supply.

The War on Yemen

The assault on Yemen was launched on 26 March, 2015, in an announcement by Saudi Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir from Washington DC, in which he stated that a coalition of ten countries, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, would take military action to reinstate the government of Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Hadi had been ousted in popular protests in 2014, after losing the capital city, Sanaa, to the joint forces of the Ansarallah movement and their allies in the country’s armed forces. Based in northern Yemen, the Ansarallah movement had been advocating for fair representation in the government for a long time.

With US-backing, Saudi Arabia launched “Operation Decisive Storm,” and the air strikes began. Initially expected to last only a few weeks or months – and according to MbS himself, just “a few days” – the Yemeni war has now entered its eighth year and taken on a markedly different shape than the coalition initially contended.

Two years into the war, the Emiratis began pursuing their own hidden agenda of establishing a “self-styled maritime empire” in Yemen, which veered sharply from Riyadh’s objectives. To achieve this goal, Abu Dhabi sought to control the country’s southern coastline and its ports and enlisted the help of a local Yemeni proxy called the Southern Movement.

The Southern Movement was formed by secessionist tribes and groups seeking to divide Yemen along the old partition lines of 1967–1990. However, the movement had to be restructured to match the UAE’s aspirations, and in 2017 it was transformed into the Southern Transitional Council (STC).

Map of the Emirati-controlled areas and ports in southern Yemen

The significance of Socotra

Socotra Island falls under the territorial jurisdiction of the exiled Hadi government, which to this day – despite his physical absence and the replacement of the “presidency” with an 8-member, Saudi-sponsored Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) – remains Yemen’s internationally-recognized government.

However, on 30 April, 2018, the UAE deployed hundreds of troops with artillery and armored vehicles on the island, which is located 350 km away from the mainland conflict, without any prior coordination with Yemeni authorities.

The Riyadh-backed Yemeni government condemned the Emirati aggression, backed by local islanders protesting against the occupation of their territory. The Saudis were forced to intervene by sending troops and training locals to deter the UAE from seizing the island.

But later that year, UAE General Khalfan al-Mazrouei arrived on Socotra Island and has since been considered its de facto ruler. Under his leadership, the Emiratis gained the loyalty of local tribes by using bribery under the guise of “humanitarian aid.” They offered Socotra residents UAE passports and promised them an improved quality of life.

The STC seizes Socotra

On the morning of 21 June, 2020, the UAE-backed STC separatists forcibly seized control of Socotra and ousted the Saudi-backed, pro-Hadi forces.

The UAE had been planning and preparing for this operation for two years, using its Yemeni proxies to gain full control over the Socotra archipelago. The Emirati flag was raised across the territory, and UAE telecommunication companies replaced Yemeni ones. Consequently, all phone calls from Socotra now register Emirati phone networks.

UAE-Israel normalization

Three months after the seizure of Socotra, the highly-controversial Abraham Accords was signed in Washington DC between Israel and the UAE, along with Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan. On the Arab side, the normalization thrust was led by Abu Dhabi, which quickly moved to expand its diplomatic, military, and economic ties with Tel Aviv.

Shortly after the signing of the Abraham Accords, reports and images of Israeli “tourists” visiting Socotra began to emerge. According to an Al-Mayadeen reporthowever, the Israeli visitors were not tourists, but rather, military experts.

Abd al-Kuri Island

In February 2023, Ansarallah released a statement condemning the UAE’s eviction of residents from Abd al-Kuri, the archipelago’s second-largest island. The resistance movement accused Abu Dhabi of carrying out a long-planned operation to transform Socotra into an Israeli-Emirati military and intelligence hub.

These actions by the UAE are not isolated incidents. In another 2022 episode, Ansarallah accused Abu Dhabi of transferring fishermen from the small island of Perim (13 km2) to other parts of the Taiz Governorate. Several months later, satellite imagery revealed the construction of a military base runway on the volcanic Island. Perim is now empty of its original inhabitants, according to media reports.

An Emirati military base on Perim Island (Mayyun in Arabic) on the Bab al-Mandab Strait

Perim Island has historically divided the Bab al-Mandab Strait into two waterways – whoever controls the island holds strategic influence over the strait. While Ansarallah’s statement about Emirati designs on Socotra was not entirely new, it raised hackles throughout the Arab world by confirming Israel’s military and intelligence presence on this key Yemeni island.

The UAE’s maritime ambitions

Many have questioned Abu Dhabi’s motivation for seizing Socotra and risking its relationships with Saudi Arabia and neighboring Oman (virtually overnight surrounded by UAE ports and bases). The UAE’s actions may be entirely attributed to the strategic vision of its President Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) and his no-longer secret desire to establish an Emirati maritime empire –from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea – by controlling the region’s key waterways.

The UAE’s economic reliance on these waterways is a clear driver of MbZ’s plans: non-petroleum commodity re-exports make up almost half of Abu Dhabi’s total exports. As such, maritime security is a top priority in the country’s foreign policy calculations.

The UAE currently controls 12 ports off the coast of Yemen, including Aden, Makha, Mukalla, Al-Dabba, Bir Ali, Belhaf, Rudum, Zoubab, Al-Khawkhah, Al-Khouba, Qena, and Al-Nashima. The country is also building a new port in Al-Mahra that will cost an estimated $100 million.

By controlling these ports and the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the UAE can dominate one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, elevating its position in global and regional trade to a strategic player.

In addition to its aggressive accumulation of Yemeni ports, the UAE also has a significant presence in the Horn of Africa, where it currently controls two ports in Eritrea and one in Somalia. It previously owned a port in Djibouti, but this became a point of territorial friction between the two countries. The UAE’s control over these ports and their strategic location in the region allow it to project its power and expand its influence in East Africa.

Why is Socotra important to Israel?

The UAE and Israel share mutual security concerns over Iran’s regional ascension over the past decade. The Islamic Republic’s naval presence is expanding into many new waterways, and its seaborne activities from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea alarm both nations. Given Washington’s growing reluctance to engage its armed forces in West Asia, MbZ turned to the region’s military behemoth and main Iranian rival to help him execute his vision. Unlike Israel, no other regional state has the ability to garner unconditional US support – nor the willingness to cavalierly defy international law and territorial integrity.

Abu Dhabi has calculated that it stands to benefit from Israel’s intelligence network and early warning systems, particularly after its cities were subject to unprecedented Ansarallah missile and drone strikes in January 2022.

For Tel Aviv, its physical presence in any Arab state is perceived as a victory, which aligns with its ambitions for regional expansion. By establishing a base on Abd al-Kuri Island, Israel can reinforce its maritime security – around 25 percent of its trade passes through the Bab al-Mandab Strait. Another objective of the Israeli-Emirati military and intelligence hub could be to gather data or engage in espionage activities in the southern Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.

During the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, Yemen – in partnership with Egypt – blocked the passage of Israeli ships and tankers from accessing the strategic strait, leading to disastrous consequences for Israel.

The tactic could be replicated under Ansarallah Chief Abdel Malak al-Houthi’s leadership, since the movement considers Israel one of its main regional adversaries. While it may seem like a distant possibility, if the war concludes under current Riyadh-Sanaa peace efforts and Ansarallah gains control of Yemen’s south, the movement will enjoy unusual leverage to obstruct Israeli shipments whenever Tel Aviv launches regional aggressions. It should be noted that Ansarallah has already publicly threatened, on several occasions, to strike sensitive Israeli sites with its new missile capabilities.

Moreover, there has been an ongoing “ghost ship war” between Israel and Iran for several years, with occasional reports of Iranian or Israeli ships being attacked in these waterways. Israel’s presence on Socotra Island could provide it with leverage over Iran in their waterway stand-off and enable Tel Aviv to counter Ansarallah inside Yemeni territory.

NATO’s Combined Maritime Forces

It is important to note that the involvement of the US in the Israeli-Emirati collaboration and actions in Yemeni waters is not confirmed. However, it is true that the US has been a maritime security provider for the Persian Gulf monarchies for decades, and its NATO-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) have been present in West Asian waters since 1983 – including leading hostile actions against Iraq and Somalia.

The CMF alliance has assumed responsibility for the security of four bodies of water: The Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and the Gulf of Aden.

But with China’s rapid rise as a global economic competitor, US policy pivoted further eastward, and Washington has sought to subcontract out its West Asian security policies to its regional allies.

As such, last December, the CMF assigned command of its Red Sea task force to the Egyptian Navy, who took over from US naval forces. In this regard, the UAE, backed by Israel, may be another candidate to lead a NATO-backed naval security operation in the region.

Map of the NATO-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) areas of operation in West Asian waterways

Implications for Iran and Saudi Arabia

Any Israeli expansion is likely to alarm Iran and vice versa, potentially leading to direct or proxy clashes in various regional theaters. However, the presence of the UAE – Iran’s second-largest trading partner – in southern Yemen may limit Tehran’s options. Unless Iran perceives a serious security threat from the new “Arab-Israeli alliance,” it is unlikely to take any significant actions that could harm its trade relations with Abu Dhabi.

The war against Yemen has severely damaged Saudi Arabia’s image as a regional powerhouse. During the last few years, all major Saudi cities have been the subject of Ansarallah missile and drone strikes – including the country’s key oil infrastructure.

It has been humiliating for the Persian Gulf’s wealthiest and most heavily militarized state to have its vulnerabilities so completely exposed by West Asia’s poorest nation. In contrast, the UAE has thus far only benefited from the Yemen war and expanded its influence in the region.

Recently, there have been reports of a possible breakthrough in negotiations between Riyadh and Ansarallah, and observers are hoping for an early roadmap to end the conflict during the holy month of Ramadan. Obstacles are aplenty: The UAE is notably absent from the discussions, the Emirati-backed Yemeni separatists – the STC – reject any solution that doesn’t leave them in control of the south, and the US has sought to scuttle any final solution that undermines Washington’s regional leverage.

Liberating the island

Of all the stakeholders with interest in Socotra Island, none are ultimately as important as the Yemeni ones, primarily the UAE-backed STC, the Saudi-backed PLC, and Iran-backed Ansarallah.

In his most recent televised appearance, Ansarallah’s Abdel Malik al-Houthi stated: “We seek to defeat the aggression, whether on the islands, on land or at sea, and from anyone who violates our independence and the sovereignty of our country.” Unlike other leaders, al-Houthi’s threats are usually translated into action and Ansarallah will not hesitate to strike the Israeli-Emirati bases or seize their ships if the aggression continues.

Ansarallah is currently the strongest player in Yemen, controlling more than 80 percent of the country in terms of population density. On the other hand, the PLC is the most vulnerable of the three main Yemeni players, and Riyadh’s recent rapprochement agreement with Tehran has further weakened the group. If an agreement is reached between Riyadh and Sanaa, the PLC will have one of two options: to hand over their weapons or merge into Ansarallah’s armed forces.

On the other side of the spectrum, the UAE-backed STC is worried about ongoing peace talks and fears being left alone to fight head-to-head with Ansarallah-aligned armed forces.

The question now is whether there will be a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Ansarallah that excludes the UAE and its Yemeni proxies. If that happens, Sanaa’s armed forces will almost certainly turn their big guns on the Emiratis and their Yemeni interests. The Saudis will have already calculated this outcome as they seek to advance a deal with Ansarallah. In this event, it is unlikely that Riyadh will come to Abu Dhabi’s assistance. Their common goals in Yemen ended years ago.

March 24, 2023 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Romania to consider bill seeking land grab in Ukraine

RT | March 24, 2023

A controversial bill submitted to the Romanian parliament this week has urged the government to drop its recognition of Ukraine’s borders by 2027 and “annex” territories where ethnic Romanians live.

The bill, introduced by right-wing lawmaker Diana Sosoaca, would repeal a provision in the 1997 treaty with Ukraine, which pledged respect for each other’s national borders. She described the document as “the biggest act of treason” in Romania’s modern history because it “recognized the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact,” according to a formal justification of the bill.

Sosoaca was referring to the non-aggression agreement between the USSR and Nazi Germany, sealed in August 1939, which included a classified portion delineating spheres of influence for Moscow and Berlin.

The pact was one of several such agreements signed by European nations with Adolf Hitler’s government, as they maneuvered diplomatically in the last days of the interwar period. Romania was a Nazi ally for a significant portion of World War II, before switching sides. It lost some of its territories in the post-war settlement, which were added to Soviet Ukraine and Soviet Moldova.

Sosoaca listed several lands, which she deems as historically Romanian and currently “abusively held by Ukraine,” from Northern Bukovina to Snake Island. The latter was part of a lengthy legal battle over maritime borders, which ended in 2009 with Kiev keeping sovereignty over the islet.

Romania would “annex” those territories under the bill. The legislator cited a need to protect ethnic Romanians living in Ukraine from Kiev’s discriminatory policies, and ensure that they can maintain their cultural identity.

After the bill was met with pushback in Romania, Sosoaca stressed that she did not want Bucharest to go to war with Kiev for a land grab. However, she added: “peace cannot be based on the forced ethnic assimilation of the Romanian minority, which is the practice of the Ukrainian state.”

The initiative was introduced in the upper chamber of the Romanian parliament on Monday, with Sosoaca’s SOS Party holding a presentation the next day. She used to be a member of a different political force, but was expelled from its parliamentary faction in 2021 for allegedly breaking with its political strategy, and is now technically independent.

Critics have described Sosoaca as “far right” and claimed that she has ties with Russia, based on her attempts to soften a diplomatic dispute a few years ago, and her calls for a neutral stance on the Ukrainian conflict. The Romanian government is a staunch supporter of Kiev.

March 24, 2023 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Send in the Clowns

Yellen and Garland perform back-to-back surprise visits to Ukraine

BY PHILIP GIRALDI • UNZ REVIEW • MARCH 21, 2023

Sometimes I think that the script being used by the Biden Administration to manage its foreign and national security policies has been written by George Orwell, though I am not sure if it based on 1984 or Animal Farm. Maybe it is a combination of the two. Either way, it would help explain why there is something seriously wrong here. For example, at the end of February Congress, confronted by a debt ceiling, began discussing cutting Medicare and Social Security while more recently a banking sector crisis seems to be developing so Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen decided to go off doing photo-ops in Kiev embracing Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky shortly after handing him the keys to the US economy. She explained to Zelensky how the White House had approved an additional $12 billion in aid to Ukraine during the previous week, including $2 billion for the military and $10 billion to support Zelensky’s government and other infrastructure needs. The US Treasury is now de facto the source of the Ukraine government’s entire annual budget. In addition, Yellen described glowingly how the Treasury and State Departments will implement a new round of sanctions against more than 200 entities and individuals with ties to Russia’s military, high-technology industries, and its metals and mining sectors. The US Department of Commerce is also enforcing export restrictions on materials and technology, including semiconductors, sold by American companies to customers in Russia and China.

In defense of her grand mission, Yellen penned an op-ed for the always compliant New York Times explaining the importance of Ukraine to the United States. She wrote how in Ukraine “… Russia’s barbaric attacks continue — but Kyiv stands strong and free. Ukraine’s heroic resistance is the direct product of the courage and resilience of Ukraine’s military, leadership and people. But President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainians would be the first to admit that they can’t do this alone — and that international support is crucial to sustaining their resistance. I’m in Kyiv to reaffirm our unwavering support of the Ukrainian people. Mr. Putin is counting on our global coalition’s resolve to wane, which he thinks will give him the upper hand in the war. But he is wrong. As President Biden said here last week, America will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes… Ukrainians are fighting for their lives on the front lines of the free world. Today, and every day, they deserve America’s unyielding support.”

The Yellen op-ed drones on with a lie so large that it is astonishing that the New York Times would even print it: “When confronted with scenes of brutality and oppression, Americans have always been quick to stand up and do the right thing. Our strength as a nation comes from our commitment to our ideals — and our capacity to see in others the same desires that animated our own struggles for freedom and justice.” But then she tops that with assurances from “President Zelensky, [who] has pledged to use these funds in the ‘most responsible way.’ We welcome this commitment, as well as his longstanding agenda to strengthen good governance in Ukraine.” Huh?

And here is Yellen’s version of “Why We Fight!”: “Our support is motivated, first and foremost, by a moral duty to come to the aid of a people under attack. We also know that, as President Zelensky has said, our assistance is not charity. It’s an investment in ‘global security and democracy.’ Let’s look at the strategic impact of our support for Ukraine so far. Mr. Putin’s war poses a direct threat to European security, as well as to the laws and values that underpin the rules-based international system.”

So, Americans have a “moral duty” apparently up to and including sending their sons and daughters to die supporting Ukraine. And ah yes, it’s all about the “free” world, democracy and the notorious rules based international system! Has anyone yet cited Hegel’s observation that the President Joe Biden Administration’s foreign policy has already “repeated itself, first as a tragedy in Afghanistan, second as a farce”? Meanwhile one suspects Zelensky was laughing all the way to the bank as Yellen disappeared over the horizon to come up with the cash, as that old expression goes, and he probably already has one of his buddies shopping for a new villa on the French Riviera to supplement his other real estate! But wait! The story became even more exciting the following week, involving another visit to Mr. Z by America’s nearly invisible Attorney General Merrick Garland, a man who can literally look Z in the eye as they are both very short. Garland is generally engaged in chasing white supremacists and requiring all new FBI hires to learn all about how to identify and pursue antisemites, but he has made two trips to Kiev to meet mano-a-mano with the brave olive drab t-shirt clad warrior who is already being beatified as the twenty-first century’s Winston Churchill.

Garland was in town to do the other thing that engages his sense of law and order, which is to set up a tribunal to arrest, prosecute and punish Russian war criminals after Ukraine emerges triumphant from its conflict with the unimaginably evil President Vladimir Putin. It would be modeled on the Nuremberg Tribunals that tried leading Nazis after the Second World War, and Garland has cited his family’s escape from the so-called holocaust to explain why he is intent on personally being involved in delivering what he describes as “justice.” A Justice Department spokeswoman described Garland’s mission as being in Kiev to personally “reaffirm America’s commitment to help hold Russia responsible for war crimes committed in its unjust and unprovoked invasion against its sovereign neighbor.”

Garland had several meetings with President Volodymyr Zelensky and foreign law enforcement officials including Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin while attending what was billed as the “United for Justice Conference.” Zelensky elaborated that the purpose of the conference was to hold Russia’s leadership accountable for the alleged atrocities carried out by its army. “The main issue of all these meetings is accountability,” he said. The US Justice Department is reportedly actively engaged in the gathering of evidence to indict the Russians. During Garland’s first visit to Ukraine in June 2022 he announced the appointment of Eli Rosenbaum, an Office of Special Investigations prosecutor best known for going after former Nazis, to direct American efforts to identify and track Russian war criminals.

Garland laid it on thick, as was expected from someone responsible for prosecuting the rest of the world when it steps out of line. He told his hosts that “Just over twelve months ago, invading Russian forces began committing atrocities at the largest scale in any armed conflict since the Second World War. We are here today in Ukraine to speak clearly, and with one voice: the perpetrators of those crimes will not get away with them. In addition to our work in partnership with Ukraine and the international community, the United States has also opened criminal investigations into war crimes in Ukraine that may violate US law.” He concluded by throwing out the complete bullshit party line much beloved by Joe Biden and Tony Blinken, that “The United States recognizes that what happens here in Ukraine will have a direct impact on the strength of our own democracy.”

Of course, there is more than a little bit of irony in all this, not to mention top level hypocrisy, as the United States has killed more people directly or indirectly while committing more crimes against humanity dished out in various ways over the past twenty years than any other country, except, predictably, Israel, which currently is committing crimes against humanity on a nearly daily basis. Curiously, however, the normally tone-deaf White House and Pentagon seem to understand, on a certain level, that opening up Pandora’s box might not be a good idea when it comes to war crimes. Last week Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin refused to share US information on alleged Russian crimes with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. The Pentagon is blocking the Biden administration from sharing evidence with the ICC collected by American intelligence agencies regarding Russian activities in Ukraine because helping the court investigate Russians might set a precedent that could help pave the way for it to prosecute Americans. Washington does not recognize the ICC, fearing that it might well seek to examine the sorry record of US military crimes in Asia and Africa. Israel similarly does to recognize the court for roughly the same reason.

So here we are, two top level officials from the Biden regime sneak into Kiev to give an arch crook money and unlimited moral support, together with a pledge that more cash is on the way as are arms and war crimes tribunals await those nasty Russians. And guess what? It is all packaged as being good for America! This sounds like a song that was sung previously in places like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and it was a tissue of lies then just as it is now. Yellen ought to have stayed home to tend to the banking system and should be giving the billions of dollars earmarked for Zelensky back to the American people. If Garland wants to investigate anyone it should be the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies, and Congress. And yes, his own FBI! And don’t forget how the Bidens and Clintons became multi-millionaires! And then there is the destruction of Nord Stream. Funny how every time one turns over a rock in and around the US government something really smelly surfaces.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

March 21, 2023 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

How does the China-brokered Saudi-Iranian normalization affect Israel?

By Robert Inlakesh | RT | March 17, 2023

A key goal of both the Israeli and American governments is to foster the normalization of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and part of the strategy to make this happen was to unite the two against what has been depicted as a common enemy, Iran. The Saudi-Iranian rapprochement now appears to have thrown a spanner in the works of such efforts, and hence enraged the Israelis.

After five rounds of talks throughout the span of two years, Iran and Saudi Arabia were unable to reach a compromise for the re-establishment of diplomatic ties, something China has now managed to broker in a shocking turn of events. Based upon the long rivalry between Tehran and Riyadh, US and Israeli policy towards Saudi Arabia has been based on combating a common enemy shared between all sides. Although the US government itself has not reacted with open animosity to the sudden change in regional dynamics, the Israelis are publicly interpreting this as a negative development.

In June 2022, the Wall Street Journal reported that a previously undisclosed meeting had taken place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, whereby a number of Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, had met with the Israeli military chief of staff at the time, Aviv Kochavi. Part of the discussions that took place was allegedly geared towards forming an Israeli-Arab defense alliance. Although no such alliance was formed, it was largely speculated at the time that US President Joe Biden’s visit to both Israel and Saudi Arabia the following month would include discussions on this topic. Despite the failure of the US and Israel so far to put together such an alliance, it is clear that part of the strategy for achieving normalization has been to secure defense interests.

Across the Israeli political spectrum, from both the coalition government and opposition, finger pointing has been taking place, in attempts to pin the blame for the perceived failure of Israel to prevent Saudi-Iranian normalization. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has attempted to shift the blame onto the former government, an idea refuted by former Israeli Mossad head Efraim Halevy as “factually incorrect.” On the other hand, former Israeli PM Naftali Bennett has called the agreement “a serious and dangerous development for Israel.” Yair Lapid, another former PM and current leader of the opposition, also said it is an “utter and dangerous failure of the Israeli government’s foreign policy.”

The big question now is whether the Chinese-brokered normalization agreement will negatively impact potential normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Reuters reported that, according to an unnamed senior Israeli official, the Saudi-Iranian deal will have no significant impact on Israeli-Saudi relations. It is also not clear whether the agreement has any clauses to do with Israeli normalization. According to Carmiel Arbit from the Washington-based Atlantic Council, the Saudis could be attempting to conduct a balancing act the way the United Arab Emirates has. The UAE, which signed its own normalization deal with Israel in 2020, has since 2019 managed to de-escalate tensions with Iran and is currently maintaining cordial ties with both sides.

It is not clear, however, whether the model of Abu Dhabi will be applicable for the Saudis. Riyadh, simply put, has a lot more to lose than the Emiratis, due to its wide regional entanglements and domestic constraints, and hence it has chosen to maintain a distance from the Israelis at this time. The internal political crisis in Tel Aviv may also play a crucial role in the Saudi decision to push forward with the normalization of ties with Iran, as instability within Israel, coupled with a potential escalation in the conflict with the Palestinian people, could severely hinder a formal diplomatic breakthrough.

One crucial result of Saudi-Iranian normalization, however, is not necessarily to do with Israel’s own relations with the Saudis. Combating Iran, specifically its nuclear program through coercive measures, is an active policy position on both sides of the political divide in Israel. Netanyahu placed the issue of combating Iran, even through direct force, at the forefront of his campaign to win the election late last year. Throughout the past unity coalition of Bennett and Lapid, the anti-Iran position also proved a cornerstone of Israeli regional policy.

Performing aggressive actions, such as a direct attack against Iranian nuclear facilities, could now be much more difficult for the Israelis to pull off, with Saudi Arabia taking a non-combative approach to Iran. Although the nuclear issue is perhaps the most pervasive issue for the Israeli public, Iran’s regional alliances and defense programs are the true threats posed to Israel. If Saudi-Iranian ties are able to flourish and the Chinese-brokered deal holds, this could mean that Riyadh’s efforts in Lebanon against Hezbollah could be curtailed, and this surely represents a concern for Israel.

Iran, through its relationships with regional political parties, governments, and localized militia forces, also possesses the ability to pull strings that could benefit Saudi Arabia if it reciprocates by doing the same. This is especially the case when it comes to the conflict in Yemen. One thing that Ansarallah, also known as the Houthis, have been able to prove in their efforts against the Saudi-led coalition since 2015 when the war began, is that they are capable of overcoming US-made defense equipment. Iran, as a close ally of Ansarallah, could aid in setting up a long-term truce or even lasting peace, which the likes of the US simply cannot offer. To end this war would be in the security interests of the Saudis, who will undoubtedly suffer if the violence resumes, especially if missiles and drones begin striking their vital infrastructure again.

Just as Beijing proved capable of fostering Saudi-Iranian normalization, Tehran could offer the ability to properly negotiate a peaceful solution in Yemen. However, it is simply too early to tell whether such a development will take place. What the deal undoubtedly does is prove the weakness in Israel’s regional capabilities, along with the waning influence of the US. Israel’s security concerns regarding Syria and Lebanon may be heightened if the Chinese-brokered agreement delivers a more peaceful approach inside both of these nations. Saudi Arabia could also re-establish ties with the Syrian government, as the UAE has already done, which could help Damascus on the road to recovery from its brutal war and current state of economic ruin. A strong and united Syria could in the future also pose a strategic threat to Israel. While Saudi-Israeli normalization is by no means off the table, the Saudi-Iranian agreement could pose a serious challenge regionally for Israel’s current policy approach.

Robert Inlakesh is a political analyst, journalist and documentary filmmaker currently based in London, UK. He has reported from and lived in the Palestinian territories and currently works with Quds News.

March 17, 2023 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Saudi Arabia sticks to Arab Initiative in drive for ties with Israel

MEMO | March 16, 2023

Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief has said that the Kingdom is sticking to the terms of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative in its drive to normalise relations with Israel.

“The terms are well-known,” Prince Turki Al-Faisal told France 24. “The creation of a sovereign Palestinian state with recognised borders and Jerusalem is its capital, and the return of Palestine refugees.” He pointed out that these were the conditions that Saudi Arabia added to the initiative before it was adopted by the Arab League 21 years ago.

The Arab Peace Initiative has been rejected by every Israeli government since then. Moreover, several Arab states have bypassed it and forged ties with the occupation state.

Replying to a question about the potential normalisation of ties with Israel without fulfilling these conditions, Al-Faisal confirmed: “What I have said was not my opinion, but it was declared by officials. I trust the officials when they say anything, and anything made by media is nonsense.”

According to the New Khalij news website, reports in America claim that Riyadh has proposed to Washington that it will make diplomatic ties with Israel in return for a US pledge to protect the Gulf region, support a peaceful nuclear programme in the Kingdom and approve major arms sales to the Royal Saudi Armed Forces.

March 16, 2023 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Israel and its US lobby Dealt Major Blow by China Saudi Iran Peace Initiative

By Grant F. Smith | Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy | March 12, 2023 

On Thursday the New York Times ran yet another report about Saudi Arabia’s entry into an “Abraham Accord,” but if only certain conditions could be met. It quoted longtime Israel lobby heavyweight Martin Indyk and reported on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s think tank the Washington Institute for Near East Policy “expert” delegation’s visit to Riyadh to finalize a deal. Then on Friday explosive news broke that China had successfully concluded a secret peace agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The plan aims to restore diplomatic relations by reopening embassies within two months. They also agree to restart their April 2001 Security Cooperation. Also back on the front burner is a 1998 General Agreement covering economic, trade, investment, technology, science, culture, sports and youth ties. It is well worth reading the entire statement.

As it often does, the New York Times quickly updated its March 9 story in an attempt not to look foolish having given too much credence to Israel lobby guidance.

Too late.

Israel and its lobby have for decades attempted to steer the United States into attacking Iran. The neocon policy coup of 2001 was not only a plan to get the U.S. to attack Israel’s arch enemy Iraq, it was also designed to steer the U.S. into attacking seven countries in seven years, most prominently Iran.

When the U.S. invasion of Iraq quickly turned into a quagmire, two American Israel Public Affairs Committee executives tried to place stolen classified Department of Defense information incriminating to Iran into circulation at the Washington Post. The operation failed, the Pentagon colonel leaking classified information was prosecuted, while the longtime AIPAC officials were dismissed.

Israel’s foreign influence operation AIPAC has steadily lobbied against Iran on behalf of Israel including punishing economic warfare from the U.S. Treasury’s OTFI unit, which AIPAC lobbied to set up for just this purpose in the aftermath of 9/11.

The Trump era “Abraham Accords” were yet another attempt to isolate Iran while harnessing Arab countries to Israel’s undue foreign influence and war on Iran machine. Under the scheme, the U.S. sacrifices its remaining international reputation to compel Arab governments to sign diplomatic and commercial accords with Israel their populations overwhelmingly reject. Target governments get access to advanced U.S. weapons, or recognition of illegal land grabs in exchange for normalization.

Saudi Arabia was always the toughest prospect for sticking its head into the yoke of an Abraham Accord. The Saudi Initiative, or Arab Peace Initiative endorsed by the Arab League in 2002, re-endorsed in 2007 and 2017 was a legitimate path toward a somewhat just settlement through the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital in exchange for Arab normalization.

Under constant Israel lobby pressure, there was never any serious U.S. consideration of the Saudi led plan. Instead, Israel surrogates Jared Kushner and former real estate lawyer turned ambassador to Israel David M. Friedman among others pushed the so-called “Deal of the Century” that offered tenuous promises of economic development to Palestinians in exchange for relinquishing their rights under international law. A 2019 IRmep poll revealed that 68 percent of Americans would have rejected a similar deal if they were in Palestinians’ shoes, and the deal collapsed.

The Abraham Accords then attempted to “transcend” the Palestine question by making Palestinian claims under international law and the Arab Peace Plan irrelevant.

The new Joint Trilateral Statement signals a rejection of the Abraham Accords and yoking Saudi Arabia to Israel and its lobby’s foreign policy intrigues and domestic meddling. Saudi Arabia may not want to become as subject to Israeli prerogatives as America and has obviously been learning how to avoid it. Saudi Arabia skillfully cushioned the bad news by end-running AIPAC and placated the American military industrial congressional complex by simultaneously agreeing to purchase $35 billion in Boeing passenger jets. That is nearly the same amount as military aid the US agreed to give to Israel gratis over ten years under the Obama administration.

Israel and its lobby will not take this bad news lying down and still have many levers to pull in the region, establishment U.S. media, Congress, the State Department, and the White House. But for now, the Saudi rejection of the Abraham Accords could signal the way out for UAE, squeezed by Israel and AIPAC to invest in sketchy Israeli schemes such as “Project Jonah,” and get into a war footing with Iran. UAE may be inspired and try to disentangle themselves from the Israeli undue influence and Palestine justice minimization machine.

© 2002-2023 Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, Inc.

March 15, 2023 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let’s compare China’s ‘agents’ in Canada to Israel’s

By Yves Engler | March 11, 2023

What would happen if the media and intelligence agencies applied the same standard used regarding China to the Israel lobby?

In the Globe and Mail Andrew Coyne has written two columns in recent days arguing that the discussion over Chinese interference should focus on “domestic accomplices”. “What we need a public inquiry to look into is domestic complicity in foreign interference”, noted the regular CBC commentator.

In a similar vein Justin Trudeau responded to criticism regarding purported Chinese interference by noting, “We know that Chinese Canadian parliamentarians, and Chinese Canadians in general, are greater targets for interference by China than others.” The prime minister added, “We know the same goes for Iranian Canadians, who are more subject to interference from the Iranian government. Russian speakers in Canada are more vulnerable to Russian misinformation and disinformation.”

Why ignore how Israel and its Canadian lobby use Jewish MPs and Jewish organizations as their agents?

The leading Israel advocate in parliament, Anthony Housefather chairs the Canada-Israel Interparliamentary Group. That group was previously led by another Jewish Liberal MP, Michael Leavitt, who resigned to head Israel lobby group Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center. Housefather and Leavitt have repeatedly met Israeli officials in Canada.

As part of the media frenzy about Chinese interference, there has been significant discussion about Trudeau attending a 2016 Liberal Party fundraiser at the Toronto home of Chinese Business Chamber of Canada chair Benson Wong. Among the attendees was Chinese Canadian billionaire Zhang Bin who is alleged to have donated to the Trudeau Foundation/University of Montréal at the request of a Chinese government official.

But Trudeau has far more extensive ties to pro-Israel funders. Since 2013 the chief fundraiser for the Trudeau Liberals has been Stephen Bronfman, scion of an arch Israeli nationalist family. Bronfman has millions invested in Israeli technology companies and over the years the Bronfman clan has secured arms for Israeli forces and supported its military in other ways. Bronfman openly linked his fundraising for Trudeau to Israel. In 2013 the Globe and Mail reported:

“Justin Trudeau is banking on multimillionaire Stephen Bronfman to turn around the Liberal Party’s financial fortunes in order to take on the formidable Conservative fundraising machine…. Mr. Bronfman helped raise $2-million for Mr. Trudeau’s leadership campaign. Mr. Bronfman is hoping to win back the Jewish community, whose fundraising dollars have been going more and more to the Tories because of the party’s pro-Israel stand. ‘We’ll work hard on that,’ said Mr. Bronfman, adding that ‘Stephen Harper has never been to Israel and I took Justin there five years ago and he was referring at the end of the trip to Israel as ‘we.’ So I thought that was pretty good.’”

In 2016 Trudeau attended a fundraiser at the Toronto home of now deceased billionaire apartheid supporters Honey and Barry Sherman. The event raised funds for the party and York Centre Liberal party candidate Michael Levitt. In 2018 CBC reported on multimillionaire Mitch Garber attending one of Bronfman’s fundraisers with Trudeau. On Federation CJA Montréal’s website Garber’s profile boasts that his “eldest son Dylan just completed his service as a lone soldier serving in an elite Cyber Defense Intelligence Unit of the IDF in Israel.”

A thorough investigation of pro-Israel Liberal fundraising would uncover a litany of other examples. And they’ve had far greater success. While the Trudeau government has banned Chinese firms, arrested a prominent Chinese capitalist and targeted that country militarily, they’ve been strikingly deferential to Israel. The Trudeau government has expanded the Canada-Israel free trade agreement, organized a pizza party for Canadians fighting in the Israeli military, voted against over 60 UN resolutions upholding Palestinian rights, sued to block proper labels on wines from illegal settlements and created a special envoy to deflect criticism of Israeli abuses. During a 2018 visit to Israel former foreign affairs minister Freeland announced that should Canada win a seat on the United Nations Security Council it would act as an “asset for Israel” on the Council.

Part of the Chinese interference story is about funding University of Montréal and University of Toronto initiatives tied to China. But Jewish Zionist donors have set up far more initiatives, including numerous Israel and Israel-infused Jewish studies programs.

Having fought to establish Israel and with major investments in Israel, David Azrieli spent $5 million to establish Israel studies and $1 million on Jewish studies at Concordia University. At the University of Toronto more than $10 million was donated to establish the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies and the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair in Israeli Studies. Millions of dollars more have been donated to launch similar initiatives at other universities.

On many occasions pro-Israel donors have leveraged donations to block academic appointments or suppress discussion of Palestinian rights. The hundreds of millions of dollars donated by Israel supporters (Schwartz/Reissman, Peter Munk, Seymour Schulich, etc.) partly explains why over a dozen Canadian university presidents recently traveled with apartheid lobby group, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, to Israel despite opposition from significant segments of their institutions.

Much more influential than the ‘China lobby’, the Israel lobby has largely been ignored in recent discussion about the need for an inquiry into foreign interference. But any serious foreign agent registry ought to include the apartheid state’s domestic accomplices.

March 12, 2023 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Ukrainian Opposition Leader: Zelensky Regime Won’t Be Able to Destroy Orthodox Faith

By Viktor Medvedchuk – Sputnik – 11.03.2023

The Zelensky regime has once again demonstrated that it holds nothing sacred, this time in the literal sense. Today, the authorities have begun a gangster-style takeover of the main shrine of Orthodoxy – the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra.

On March 10, the leadership of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine received an ultimatum, being informed that the National Preserve is breaking its lease agreement for the Lower Lavra of the Holy Assumption Monastery of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and requiring monks to vacate the territory before March 29, 2023.

We remember from history that even during the Nazi occupation, the parishes of the canonical Orthodox Church were not closed by the Nazis. But today, their ideological heirs are taking away from the people of Ukraine that which gives them their spiritual core, strengthens them in trying times, consoles them in their grief and unites them in the joy of Easter.

The Ukrainian people have been robbed of their tongue, both Russian and Ukrainian. Russian, native to millions of Ukrainians, was declared the language of invaders and traitors. Ukrainian has been perverted to such an extent that it has lost its roots, musicality and meaning.

The Ukrainian people had their rights and freedoms taken from them, with deceitful, thieving and criminal authorities placed above all laws, with the people given over into the hands of demented Nazi bandits, spawning informers and extremists. Today, a Ukrainian not only has no right to have an opinion that differs from that of the authorities, but is obliged to support this government at any opportunity, since even silence is considered a crime.

The Ukrainian people have been robbed of peace and prosperity, since the Zelensky government does not want to admit its mistakes and its lies to voters. They preferred to lead their people to the slaughter, receiving unlimited finances and NATO weaponry. The current government does not hide that it is going to fight a long and bloody conflict. It is not interested in the lives of ordinary Ukrainians.

Today, the people are being robbed of the last thing they’ve got – their faith. Orthodoxy is the basis of the culture and spiritual life of the Ukrainian people. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church has called the people to peace, unity and conscientiousness. But peaceful, God-fearing and conscientious people have been declared enemies by the Zelensky government.

Ukrainians are being robbed of their souls, their language, their hearts, their minds and their conscience. The Ukrainian state has turned into a man-made Frankenstein, a monster that hates everything living and natural, that wants to destroy peace in the world. But the authorities in Kiev will not succeed in turning Ukraine into a corpse, a dangerous zombie. Ukrainians are a living, spiritual, righteous people.

Ukrainians aren’t zombies. There is Another Ukraine – the genuine, true, Slavic, Orthodox one, which will not allow Satanism and lawlessness to be imposed upon it. And today the traitors of the Ukrainian people, Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian faith hear our voice, and understand that their sinister, black core is becoming more and more obvious each day. Everyone will receive their just deserts. The attempt to destroy the true Orthodox faith only strengthens the people. The Orthodox faith, like the people, cannot be destroyed!

Viktor Medvedchuk is a former Ukrainian opposition leader.

March 11, 2023 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

World welcomes Iran-Saudi detente as Israel feels ‘fatal blow’ to coalition building

Press TV – March 10, 2023

Various countries have welcomed the restoration of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, while the regime in Tel Aviv seems to view the development as a “fatal blow” to its regional coalition building against the Islamic Republic.

After several days of intensive negotiations hosted by China, Iran and Saudi Arabia finally clinched a deal on Friday to restore diplomatic relations and re-open embassies, seven years after ties were severed over several issues.

The important development soon became a hot topic in regional as well as international media and reactions from other countries began to pour in.

“The return to normal relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia provides great capacities to both countries, the region, and the Muslim world,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who is set to soon meet with his Saudi counterpart to make the necessary arrangements, wrote in a post on his Twitter account.

“The good neighborliness policy, as the key axis of the Iranian administration’s foreign policy, is strongly moving in the right direction and the diplomatic apparatus is actively behind the preparation of more regional steps,” he said.

Riyadh eyeing continuation of dialogue

Saudi National Security Adviser Musaid Al Aiban, who negotiated the agreement with his Iranian counterpart Ali Shamkhani, said that Riyadh “welcomes the initiative of His Excellency President Xi Jinping, based on the Kingdom’s consistent and continuous approach since its establishment in adhering to the principles of good neighborliness.”

He said Saudi Arabia takes “everything that would enhance security and stability in the region and the world,” while “adopting the principle of dialogue and diplomacy to resolve differences.”

“While we value what we have reached, we hope that we will continue to continue the constructive dialogue, in accordance with the pillars and foundations included in the agreement, expressing our appreciation for the People’s Republic of China’s continued positive role in this regard.”

China’s Top Diplomat Wang Yi praised the agreement as “a victory for dialogue, a victory for peace, offering major good news at a time of much turbulence in the world.”

China will continue to play a constructive role in handling hotspot issues in the world and demonstrate its responsibility as a major nation, Wang said. “The world is not just limited to the Ukraine issue.”

Nasrallah: Agreement could lead to new horizons

Addressing a local event on Friday, the secretary general of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the agreement will be “to the benefit” of the region.

“The rapprochement of Iran and Saudi Arabia proceeds in its normal path and can open new horizons for the region and Lebanon,” he said.

The Iranian foreign minister also held separate phone conversations with his Omani, Iraqi, and Qatari counterparts who embraced the resumption of ties.

Turkey and the United Arab Emirates also welcomed the new development in separate statements.

In the first reaction, the United States claimed that it embraces “de-escalation” in West Asia.

“Generally speaking, we welcome any efforts to help end the war in Yemen and de-escalate tensions in the Middle East region. De-escalation and diplomacy together with deterrence are key pillars of the policy President Biden outlined during his visit to the region last year,” a White House National Security Council spokesperson told Reuters.

Ansarullah hails move against foreign interference

Mohammed Abdulsalam, the Yemeni Ansarullah resistance movement’s chief negotiator, said the region is in need of resumption of “normal ties” between its countries.

“The region needs the resumption of normal ties between its countries for the Islamic nation to reclaim its lost security as a result of foreign, especially American-Zionist, interferences,” he tweeted.

Foreign interference, he said, has taken advantage of differences in the region and used Iranophobia to wage aggression on Yemen.

‘Dangerous development for Israel’

Meanwhile, the Israeli regime did not seem to take the development so well. Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called the agreement a “political victory” for Iran and a “serious and dangerous development for Israel.”

“This delivers a fatal blow to efforts to build a regional coalition against Iran,” he said.

Former Prime Minister Yair Lapid also described the reconciliation deal as a dangerous development that strips Israel of its regional defensive wall. “The agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran reflects the complete and dangerous failure of the Israeli government’s foreign policy,” Lapid said.

Benny Gantz, former minister of military affairs, also reacted to the rapprochement, stating that it was a cause for concern.

March 10, 2023 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Irish grandmother jailed for calling Ukrainians ‘rapists and criminals’

RT | March 4, 2023

A homeless grandmother in Ireland has been sentenced to 16 weeks behind bars for entering a hotel housing Ukrainian refugees and shouting that they were“rapists and criminals.” The woman had sought accommodation, but was told no rooms were available.

Margaret Buttimer appeared before a district court in Bandon, County Cork on Thursday, where police told the judge that they were called to a disturbance at a hotel in the town in late January.

They found Buttimer shouting in the reception area, recalling that “she wanted to know how many Ukrainian nationals were staying in this hotel, what was the cost to the Irish people, and saying ‘these Ukrainians are rapists and criminals’,” according to a report by the Irish Times.

Police said that she refused to desist and leave the hotel, and they had “no option” but to arrest her.

Buttimer was sentenced to six weeks in prison, with half the sentence suspended on the condition that she stay away from any facility housing Ukrainian refugees.

The 68-year-old woman has 13 previous convictions, including for a similar incident at the same hotel in December. The court heard that she entered the premises and asked staff “why are all the Ukrainians getting a room and there is no room for me, an Irish citizen?

Buttimer’s earlier convictions involved breaches of coronavirus restrictions.

It is unclear if the hotel in Bandon was housing migrants from other countries in addition to Ukrainians. Ireland took in more than 70,000 Ukrainian refugees last year and more than 13,000 migrants from other countries. The arrival of the latter group, the majority of whom are male and hail from the Middle East and Africa, has triggered protests in the communities where they have been housed.

The migrant influx has come amid a record housing shortage in Ireland. House prices and rents have more than doubled in the last decade, and according to the government’s most recent figures, there are more than 8,300 homeless people in emergency shelters in the country.

March 4, 2023 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Israel’s ‘right to exist’ challenged in expert testimonies

By Nasim Ahmed | MEMO | March 3, 2023

“Israel’s right to exist” has been challenged in expert testimonies by leading scholars Professor John Dugard and Professor Avi Shlaim. Dugard is an advocate of the High Court of South Africa. He has served intermittently as Judge of the International Court of Justice. His other high-profile appointment was at the United Nations where he served as Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories from 2001 to 2008. Shlaim, who is an author of several books on Israel and Palestine, is an Emeritus Fellow of St Antony’s College and an Emeritus Professor in International Relations at the University of Oxford.

Dugard and Shlaim issued their testimonies in response to the UK government’s prohibition on schools and universities from engaging with organisations that question Israel’s “right to exist”. The testimonies are part of a legal action against the former Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, by UK human rights group, CAGE. In a 2021 letter to schools and universities, Williamson applied pressure to adopt the discredited International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. The letter also told schools that they were prohibited from engaging with organisations that reject Israel’s “right to exist”.

A judicial review of the government’s guideline was lodged by CAGE, it argued that no such right exists in international law that prohibits people and groups from questioning a state’s legitimacy. “For too long, the political phrase ‘Israel’s right to exist’ has been used as a weapon to silence any debate about the legitimacy of its creation, the right of return of Palestinian refugees displaced by its creation and the apartheid nature of the Israeli state,” CAGE said at the time. In July a British High Court ruled against a judicial review.

This week CAGE published the expert testimonies of Dugard and Shlaim. Both challenged the prevailing narrative pushed by the UK government on Israel’s “right to exist”. Their testimony gave a brief history of the creation of the State of Israel and explained why the claim of a “right to exist” in law and morality is debatable.

Shlaim described Williamson as someone who habitually conflates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. He also claimed that the former education secretary had used his ministerial position to restrict freedom of speech on Israel. Commenting on the IHRA and possible financial sanctions that may be imposed if schools refused to adopt it, Shlaim said: “This is a highly controversial and, in my opinion, discredited definition which was promoted by Israel’s friends. The two-sentence definition is vacuous, but it is followed by 11 ‘illustrative examples’ of what might constitute antisemitism. Seven of the 11 examples relate to Israel. The real purpose of the definition is not to protect Jews against antisemitism but to protect Israel against legitimate criticism.”

Shlaim was one of 77 Israeli academics in Britain who united in response to Williamson’s infamous intervention. In January 2021, they sent a letter to vice chancellors and academic senates in England urging universities not to adopt the IHRA document, which they viewed as being “detrimental not only to academic freedom and to the struggle for human rights, but also to the fight against antisemitism.”

Challenging Israel’s right to exist, the expert testimonies argued that such a claim has no basis in international law. The idea that states have rights is rejected outright. The point is often made in the following way: Human beings have a right to exist, and to live flourishing lives. The moral and legal justification for the existence of any nation-state is based on their ability to protect and defend the rights of human beings and through serving the interest and well-being of peoples cultures and communities living within the territory they control.  When a state fails in this regard for enough of those people for a long enough time, its control comes under challenge and loses its legitimacy. The shelf-life of any state is to the degree it can guarantee the human rights of people in territory controlled by that state.

Though there are many examples, a classic case often cited to highlight that point is Apartheid South Africa. Arguments were raised that Apartheid South Africa should not be recognised as a state and should be expelled from the UN. Although South Africa was not expelled from membership of the world body, the credentials of the South African government were not accepted, and it was denied the right to participate in the work of the General Assembly. In effect, this meant that many countries believed that South Africa no longer had the right to exist as a state because of its policy of apartheid. South Africa lost its legitimacy because of its refusal to guarantee and protect the rights of black South Africans in the same territory.

The arrangement in Apartheid South Africa has many similarities with Israel, which is why every major human rights group has concluded that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid. Within the territory controlled by the occupation state – known also as historic Palestine – seven million of Israel’s Jewish population enjoy full rights and privileges, while seven million of the territories’ non-Jewish population experience some form of discrimination depending on where they live. Twenty per cent of Israel’s Palestinian citizens for example suffer less discrimination than the five million Palestinians in occupied West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza. Not forgetting also, the six million Palestinian refugees who are refused their right to return while every Jew in the world is granted their “right to return”.

Returning to the expert testimonies, Dugard and Shlaim rejected Israel’s “right to exist”, explaining that such a right cannot be exercised because there is no basis for it in international law. According to Dugard, the rights of a state that are enshrined in international law are the right to territorial integrity; political independence and not to be forcibly attacked by another state. It’s not obvious therefore why Israel should be allowed to enjoy these rights given that it has no defined borders, and furthermore not only has it forcibly attacked and occupied the State of Palestine, it continues to annex territory beyond the internationally recognised borders of the apartheid state.

Further arguments rejecting Israel’s “right to exist” are demonstrated by the fact that a state may be recognised as a state by some states but not by others. Consequently, it is a state for those countries that recognise it but not for states that do not recognise it. Palestine, for instance, is recognized as a state by 138 countries, which is more than Kosovo, recognised by 100 states.

Perhaps the most powerful objection against Israel’s demand on others to recognise its “right to exist” are claims it had made about itself during the country’s founding. Israel’s declaration of independence was based on the Balfour Declaration, the Mandate of the League of Nations and the General Assembly’s Partition Resolution. Every one of those claims have been challenged on legal grounds since 1948. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 for example did not recognise the right of the Jewish people to a state in Palestine. It simply stated that the British government viewed “with favour the establishment in Palestine of a home for the Jewish people” but that this was to be without prejudice to the “civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” The clear and obvious goal of the declaration was to create a “home” for the Jewish people “In Palestine,” not erase Palestine as Israel has done to supplant a new state on top of it.

Similar contentions exist with the British Mandate for Palestine and UN Partition Plan. Although the Mandate incorporated the provisions of the Balfour Declaration it made no provision for a Jewish State. As for the partition plan, Palestinians rejected Resolution 181 on account of its unfairness: it gave the Jewish community comprising 33 per cent of the population of Palestine 57 per cent of the land and 84 per cent of the agricultural land.

The message in the expert testimonies can be boiled down to the fact that not only is the British government’s suppression of a discussion on Israel’s “right to exists” preposterous, ahistorical and an attack on freedom of thought, there can be no discussion about Israel’s “right to exist” without a similar discussion about Palestine’s right to exist.

March 3, 2023 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 2 Comments

False hopes and broken promises litter the ground behind the UN Statement on Palestine

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | February 28, 2023

Rarely does the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN make an official comment expressing happiness over any official proceedings concerning the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Ambassador Riyad Mansour, though, is “very happy that there was a very strong united message from the Security Council against the illegal, unilateral measure” undertaken by the Israeli government.

The “measure” in question is a decision, on 12 February, by the far-right government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to construct 10,000 new housing units in nine illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. Predictably, Netanyahu was angered by the supposedly “very strong united message” from an institution that is hardly known for its meaningful action regarding international conflicts, especially in occupied Palestine.

Mansour’s happiness may be justified from some perspectives, especially as we seldom witness a strongly-worded position by the Security Council that is both critical of Israel and embraced by the US. The latter has used its veto in the council 53 times since 1972 — according to the UN itself — to block draft Security Council resolutions that are critical of the occupation state.

However, a close examination of the context of the latest UN statement on Israel and Palestine shows that there is little reason for Mansour’s excitement. The statement in question is just that; a statement, with no tangible value and no legal repercussions. It could have been meaningful if the language had been unchanged from its original draft. Not of the statement itself, but of a binding UN resolution that was introduced on 15 February by the UAE ambassador.

Reuters revealed that the draft resolution would have demanded that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” That resolution — and its strong language — was scrapped under pressure from the US and was replaced by a mere statement that “reiterates” the Security Council’s position that “continuing Israeli settlement activities are dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-state solution based on the 1967 lines.” It also expressed “deep concern”, actually, “dismay” with Israel’s 12 February announcement.

Netanyahu’s angry response was mostly intended for public consumption in Israel, and to keep his far-right government allies in check; after all, the conversion of the resolution into a statement, and the watering down of the language were all carried out with the prior agreement of the US, Israel and the PA. The Aqaba conference held two days ago is confirmation that such an agreement is indeed in place. Hence, the statement could not have come as a surprise to the Israeli prime minister.

Moreover, US media spoke openly about a deal, which was mediated by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The reason behind it, initially, was to avert a “potential crisis” which would have resulted if the US had vetoed the resolution. According to the Associated Press, such a veto “would have angered Palestinian supporters at a time that the US and its western allies are trying to gain international support against Russia.”

However, there is another reason behind Washington’s apparent sense of urgency. In December 2016, the then US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice refrained from vetoing a similar UN Security Council resolution that strongly condemned Israel’s illegal settlement activities. This happened less than a month before the end of Barack Obama’s second term in the White House. For Palestinians, the resolution was too little, too late. For Israel, it was an unforgivable betrayal. To appease Tel Aviv, the Trump Administration gave the UN post to Nikki Haley, an ardent supporter of Israel.

Although another US veto would have raised a few eyebrows, it would have presented a major opportunity for the strong pro-Palestine camp at the UN to challenge US hegemony over the matter of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It would also have deferred the issue to the UN General Assembly and other UN-related organisations.

Even more interesting, according to the Blinken-mediated agreement — reported by APReutersAxios and others — Palestinians and Israelis would have to refrain from unilateral actions. Israel would freeze all settlement activities until August, and Palestinians would not “pursue action against Israel at the UN and other international bodies such as the World Court, the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Council.” This was the gist of the agreement at the US-sponsored Aqaba meeting as well. While the PA is likely to abide by this understanding — since it continues to seek US financial handouts and political validation — Israel will most likely refuse; in fact, practically-speaking, it already has.

Although the agreement reportedly stipulated that Israel would not stage major attacks on Palestinian cities, only two days later, on 22 February, Israel raided the West Bank city of Nablus. It killed 11 Palestinians and wounded 102 others, including two elderly men and a child.

Moreover, a settlement freeze is almost impossible. Netanyahu’s extremist coalition government is held together in large part by the common understanding that settlements must expand constantly. Any change to this understanding would almost certainly mean the collapse of one of Israel’s most stable governments in years.

Why, then, is Mansour “very happy”? The answer stems from the fact that the PA’s credibility among Palestinians is at an all-time low. Mistrust, if not outright disdain, of Mahmoud Abbas and his authority is one of the main reasons behind the brewing armed rebellion against the Israeli occupation. Decades of promises that justice will eventually arrive through US-mediated talks have culminated in nothing, so Palestinians are developing their own alternative resistance strategies.

The UN statement was marketed by PA-controlled media in Palestine as a victory for Palestinian diplomacy. Hence, Mansour’s happiness. But this euphoria was short lived.

The Israeli massacre in Nablus left no doubt that Netanyahu will not even respect a promise he made to his own benefactors in Washington. This takes us back to square one: back to where Israel refuses to respect international law, the US refuses to allow the international community to hold Israel to account, and the PA claims another false victory in its supposed quest for the liberation of Palestine. Practically, this means that Palestinians are left with no other option but to carry on with their resistance, indifferent — justifiably so — to the UN and its “watered-down” statements.

March 1, 2023 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 1 Comment