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UAE signs contracts with Israel firms on UN blacklist

MEMO | September 24, 2020

Emirati companies have signed contracts with Israeli firms and banks blacklisted by the United Nations (UN) for supporting illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, an investigation by Anadolu Agency revealed on Wednesday.

In February, the UN released a database of 112 companies on its blacklist for doing business inside Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

On 13 August, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel announced a US-brokered agreement to normalise their relations. The move was followed by a series of announcements on agreements and contracts between companies from both countries.

However, Anadolu Agency found that some of the deals struck between the two sides included Israeli companies and banks on the UN blacklist.

Pro-settlement banks

Among the contracts announced by Emirati media was one struck with Bank Leumi, one of the banks on the UN blacklist.

According to official Emirati media, this Israeli bank has signed agreements with three of the top Emirati banks: Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), First Abu Dhabi Bank and Emirates NBD.

Bank Hapoalim, another Israeli bank blacklisted by the UN, has reportedly signed a memorandum of understanding with Emirates NBD, an agreement celebrated as the first between Israeli and Emirati bankers, according to Emirati media outlets.

Film production companies

The agreements that UAE companies have signed with blacklisted Israeli companies were not limited to banks. The Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC) announced that it has reached an agreement with the Israel Film Fund (IFF) and the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film & Television School (JSFS), for promoting tolerance and cultural cooperation between the Emirati and Israeli people.

The IFF is supervised by the Israeli Ministry of Culture and the Israel Film Council.

In November 2019, Israeli newspaper Haaretz announced that the IFF approved the establishment of three new cinema funds, including one in the occupied West Bank settlements.

Many international companies have suspended their dealings with their Israeli counterparts on the UN blacklist for fear of being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is expected to soon decide on launching a criminal investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Palestinians have long called for an immediate halt of dealings with the blacklisted Israeli companies.

September 24, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

US deploys armored vehicles to Syria & steps up air patrols after dust-up with Russian forces

RT | September 18, 2020

The Pentagon has sent a number of armored vehicles, radar systems and additional troops to Syria in a show of force, bolstering the US military presence in the country following a run-in with Russian forces last month.

The deployments, accompanied by increased air patrols over eastern Syria, were announced by US Central Command on Friday.

“The United States has deployed Sentinel radar, increased the frequency of US fighter patrols over US forces, and deployed Bradley Fighting Vehicles to augment US forces in the Eastern Syria Security Area (ESSA),” CENTCOM spokesman Captain Bill Urban said in a statement, adding that the move was meant to “ensure the safety and security of coalition forces.”

“These actions are a clear demonstration of U.S. resolve to defend Coalition forces in the ESSA, and to ensure that they are able to continue their Defeat-ISIS mission without interference.”

The new deployment will reportedly include a half-dozen Bradleys and fewer than 100 soldiers, though it remains unclear exactly where they will operate in Syria. Much of the country’s northeast is controlled by US-backed Kurdish militias and Washington has blocked its reintegration under the rule of the government in Damascus.

Though Urban made no mention of Moscow in his announcement, another US official who refused to be named told CNN the deployments are meant as a “clear signal to Russia to adhere to mutual deconfliction processes” and “avoid unprofessional, unsafe and provocative actions in northeast Syria.”

The move comes less than a month after a tense encounter between US and Russian forces in Syria as both sides carried out patrols, seeing a vehicle collision which the Pentagon said injured at least four American soldiers.

While Washington faulted Moscow for “provocative” behavior during the skirmish, Russia’s own account of the altercation differs significantly, arguing that the relevant US commanders had been informed of the Russian patrol route, and that the American vehicles attempted to block its path. Video footage of the incident appears to show Russian armored trucks being pursued by US vehicles, as well as a Russian helicopter flying low over the area amid the standoff.

Hours before the fresh deployment, US President Donald Trump insisted American forces had all but left the country, telling reporters on Friday that “we are out of Syria,” with the exception of “troops guarding the oil” – referring to US soldiers embedded with local Kurdish militants occupying a number of oil fields in eastern Syria.

Russian forces have been present in Syria since 2015 after an official request from the Syrian government asking to help in the country’s fight against terrorist groups. The American presence in Syria continues against the express wishes of Damascus and without approval from the UN, with the mission continually shifting long after the coalition’s stated objective to defeat Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) was declared complete.

Under the Barack Obama administration, Washington shipped hundreds of millions of dollars in arms and other gear to Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad. However, President Trump has largely abandoned the train-and-equip effort while still carrying out airstrikes in Syrian territory.

September 18, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

2,000 Days Since It Began, the War in Yemen Is Poised To Turn Even More Deadly

By Ahmed Abdulkareem | MintPress News | September 18, 2020

Another grim milestone has just passed in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia’s war against the poorest country in the Middle East reached its two-thousandth day. Ostensibly, the war was launched to restore President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to power after he was ousted following Houthi-led popular protests amid the Arab Spring.

Realistically, the war has become little more than a pretext to control Yemen’s strategic sites and natural wealth. Saudi Arabia and the UAE now occupy entire southern provinces from al-Mahara to the Bab al-Mandab Strait. Somehow, though, they have not yet allowed Haddi and his old guard to return.

Grim statistics

The numbers are astonishing. Since 2015, Saudi-led coalition warplanes have pounded the country with over 250,000 airstrikes. Seventy percent of those have hit civilian targets, killing more than 100,000 people since January 2016, according to a report by the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data Project (ACLED). Those numbers do not include those who have died in the humanitarian disasters caused by the war, particularly starvation and thousands of tons of weapons, most often supplied by the United States, have been dropped on hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, farms, factories, bridges, and power and water treatment plants.

Unexploded ordnance has been left scattered across populated areas, particularly in the urban areas of Sana’a, Sadaa, Hodeida, Hajjah, Marib, and al-Jawf, and have left the country one of the most heavily contaminated in the world.

As the war officially passes its two-thousandth day, the Eye of Humanity Center for Rights and Development, a Yemeni advocacy group, issued a report on where some of the estimated 600,000 bombs have landed. According to the non-governmental organization, those attacks have destroyed more than 21 economically-vital facilities like factories, food storage facilities, fishing boats, markets, and food, and fuel tankers and have damaged 9,000 pieces of critical infrastructure, including 15 airports, 16 seaports, 304 electrical stations, 2,098 tanks and water pumps, and 4,200 roads and bridges. At least 576,528 public service facilities, including more than 1,000 schools, 6,732 agricultural fields, and 1,375 mosques have been destroyed or damaged.

The blockade and bombing of civilian infrastructure, particularly hospitals, have also crippled Yemen’s health system, leaving it unable to deal with even the basic public health needs. Eye of Humanity reports that the coalition has destroyed 389 hospitals and health centers while most of the country’s estimated 300 remaining facilities are either closed or barely functioning as COVID-19 spreads through the country like wildfire.

Household food insecurity now hovers at over 70 percent, with fifty percent of rural households and 20 percent of urban households now food insecure. Almost one-third of Yemenis do not have enough food to satisfy basic nutritional needs. Underweight and stunted children have become a regular sight, especially among holdouts in rural areas.

This is Yemen after 2,000 days of war. A dirty war and a brutal siege on a forgotten people subsisting in unlivable conditions. If one is able to dodge death from war, starvation, and COVID-19, they face unprecedented levels of disease. Yemen’s average life expectancy now hovers at around 66, one of the lowest in the world. The Saudi blockade has imposed tight control over all aspects of life, severely restricting not only the movement of aid and people but also of UN flights. Last week, both the Ministry of Transportation and the General Authority of Civil Aviation and Meteorology announced that Sana’a International Airport was no longer equipped to receive the official airplane of UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffith.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is still preventing fuel tankers from delivering much-needed fuel to Yemen’s hospitals, water pumps, bakeries, cleaning trucks, and gas stations, plunging it, particularly northern districts, into a fuel crisis. The blockade has not only forced thousands to wait for days in lines as far as the eye can see but has forced many facilities to shut down altogether. All while Saudi Arabia and its local militias plunder crude oil in Marib, Shabwah, and Hadramout.

After normalization, the UAE steps up attacks

For many Yemenis, there is little reason for optimism entering what feels like the third phase of the war against their country, as Israel ostensibly enters the fray. They believe that the situation will escalate as a result of normalization between the UAE and Israel, and indeed, Tel Aviv’s entrance into the already convoluted theater appears to have already opened the door for further escalation.

Since normalization, UAE warplanes have intensified airstrikes against populated areas throughout the country’s northern provinces. In Sana’a, approximately 20 aerial attacks hit densely populated neighborhoods and brazenly targeted the Sana’a Airport, a military engineering camp, and a poultry farm, among other targets.

UAE warplanes are believed by locals to be receiving logistical support by Israel, although no evidence has yet surfaced yet to substantiate those fears. In a stark departure from the UAE’s more conciliatory tone in Yemen over the past year, UAE aircraft have carried out more than 100 airstrikes since August 13, when Trump announced the normalization between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. They also pounded the oil-rich province of Marib, located east the country, where UAE jets dropped more than 300 bombs targeting transport trucks, fuel stations, homes, and farms. Advanced military sites belonging to the Ansar Allah-led were also targeted.

Reinforcing the hopelessness is that the United States continues to neglect Yemen’s suffering, despite its designation by the United Nations calling it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Even with the 2020 election looming and President Donald Trump leaning heavily into his foreign policy accomplishments, the U.S. role in Yemen has been noticeably absent from the discussion. Biden has been no better, leaving little hope that the December elections could bring an end to the war.

Half-hearted attempts at peace

There are efforts underway to bring some semblance of peace to Yemen by parties in both Qatar and Oman. Secret negotiations have been held in Sana’a, but they seem aimed at stopping the Houthi advance in Marib and not the war in general.

In reality, international voices are loudest when the war begins to affect Saudi Arabia, as they were last September when Saudi oil facilities were attacked, or when a Houthi advance threatens the Saudi border as it did in August of 2019 when an operation captured 4,000 square kilometers of Saudi territory in Najran.

Qatari and Omani efforts are not the only ones on the ground. The United Nations envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is leading other efforts aimed at stopping the Houthi advance in Marib. Griffiths said during a recent Security Council session that, “The situation in Marib is of concern. Military shifts in Marib have ripple effects on conflict dynamics. If Marib falls, it’d undermine prospects of convening an inclusive political process that brings about a transition based on partnership and plurality.”

Neither the efforts in Qatar nor those by the UN even purport to be focused on bringing an end to the war or mitigating the blockade, instead, they seem only concerned with assuring the Coalition retains its competitive advantage.

2,000 days of war, in fact, have proven an insufficient term to bring peace to the war-torn country. With the exception of a fragile ceasefire in Hodeida and a small number of prisoner releases, negotiations between the two sides, even on minor issues, often reach a dead end. Numerous negotiations between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia have failed, including UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland last year.

The Houthis grow stronger

When the war began over five years ago, Saudi leaders promised a decisive victory in a matter of weeks, one or two months at most. Yet the Houthis remain steadfast in their resistance and, in fact, have grown even more powerful leading to consternation in the Kingdom, with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz dismissing the leader of the Coalition forces Fahd bin Turki and a number of senior officers following a series of recent Saudi battlefield failures.

On Thursday, Houthi forces carried out drone strikes against the al-Abha Airport in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern province of Asir. The operation was the fifth against the airport and a sign that half of a decade of war has done little to bring security to the Kingdom.

In fact, the Houthis now seem intent on moving the frontline into Saudi Arabia and UAE territory and have even promised retaliatory action against Israel should they continue to escalate their involvement in the war. According to Houthi spokesman Mohammed AbdulSalam, “the Saudi-led war on Yemen the price the Arab nation is paying for taking a firm stance against Israel,”  adding “Israelis are involved in most of the conflicts plaguing the region, including the Riyadh-led aggression against Yemen.”

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

September 18, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

West cannot hide crimes against Syria with humanitarian allegations: Syrian envoy to UN

Press TV – September 17, 2020

Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja’afari says the West’s crimes, including economic terrorism, against Syria cannot be hidden by humanitarian claims and allegations.

Speaking at a UN Security Council session on the humanitarian situation in Syria via a video link, Ja’afari said the Western states, which have introduced coercive economic measures against the Arab country, would not be able to cover up the repercussions of their economic terrorism against Syrians.

He also stressed that the humanitarian allegations against Syria made by the West would not be able to hide its horrible crimes in exerting more pressure on the Arab nation and hampering the reconstruction process in the war-ravaged country and the return of the displaced Syrians.

Ja’afari noted that some Western countries, which have slapped Syria with persisting illegal sanctions, are telling outright lies in claiming that they are not targeting Syrians and that they are trying to provide humanitarian and medical exemptions to assist the Syrians.

The Syrian envoy also lambasted claims by the Western states that Damascus had deprived COVID-19 Syrian patients of due treatment, stressing that Syrian citizens are in fact suffering greatly from the disastrous effects of Western coercive measures.

“Since 1978, the US successive administrations have imposed coercive measures on the Syrian economy and its vital sectors, such as civil aviation, petroleum, energy, telecommunications, technology, banking, import and the export, including the import and manufacturing of food, medicines and basic medical equipment, to dissuade Syria from its stances in rejection of the hegemony and occupation policies,” Ja’afari added.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Syrian envoy demanded the withdrawal of all Turkish troops and their allied militant groups from northern and northwestern parts of the Arab country.

He also stressed the need for ending the US occupation of the areas northeast of the Arab country and holding Washington and its allies and separatist militias and terrorist groups affiliated to it responsible for prolonging the suffering of the displaced in al-Hawl and al-Rukban camps.

In conclusion, Ja’afari referred to a recent report by the Guardian, which cited US research centers and academics as saying that the US, since 2001, has displaced 37 million persons in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere under the slogan of the so-called “war on terrorism.”

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite | , | 4 Comments

How USA and Turkey Plunder and Loot Syria with Impunity

By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice | September 16, 2020

While President Trump lashes out at rioting and looting in Portland and Kenosha, half way around the world, the USA and Turkey are plundering and looting Syria on a vastly greater scale with impunity and little publicity.

Turkey Loots Syria, then Disrupts Safe Water Supply  

Turkey has been plundering the Syrian infrastructure for years.  Beginning in late 2012 and continuing through 2013 some 300 industrial factories were dismantled and taken to Turkey from Aleppo, the industrial capital of Syria. “Machinery and goods were loaded on trucks and carried off to Turkey through the Cilvegozu and Ceylanpinar crossings. Unfortunately, ‘plundering’ and ‘terror’ have become permanent parts of the Syrian lexicon when explaining their saga.”

In October 2019 Turkish forces invaded Syria and now occupy a strip of land in north east Syria. The area is controlled by the Turkish military and pro Turkish militia forces misnamed the “Syrian National Army”. Turkish President Erdogan dubbed the invasion “Peace Spring” and said the goal was to create a “safe zone”. The reality was that 200 thousand Syrians fled the invasion and over 100 thousand have been permanently displaced from their homes, farms, workplaces and livelihoods.

The industrial scale looting continues. As reported recently in the story headlined Turkish-backed factions take apart power pylons in rural Ras Al-Ain: “Reliable sources have informed SOHR that Turkish-backed factions steal electricity power towers and pylons in ‘Peace Spring’ areas in Ras Al-Ain countryside.”

Turkey now controls the border city of Ras al-Ain and the nearby Allouk water treatment and pumping station.  This is the water station supplying safe water to the city Hasaka and entire region. The Turkish forces are using water as a weapon of war, shutting down the station to pressure the population to be compliant.  For over two weeks in August, with daily temperatures of 100 F,  there was no running water for nearly one million people.

With no tap water, civilians were forced to queue up for hours to receive small amounts from water trucks. Unable to buy the water, other civilians took their chances by drinking water from unsafe wells. According to Judy Jacoub, a Syrian journalist originally from Hasaka, “The residents of Hasaka and its countryside have been pushed to rely on unsafe water sources ….Many residents have been suffering from the spread of fungi, germs and dirt in their hair and bodies as a result of using well water that is not suitable for drinking and personal hygiene. The people of Hasaka remain vulnerable to diseases and epidemics because of the high temperatures and spread of infectious diseases. If the situation is not controlled as soon as possible, the spread of Corona virus will undoubtedly be devastating.”  A hospital medical director says many people are getting sick from the contaminated water.

Judy Jacoub explains what has happened most recently: “After Syrian and international efforts exerted pressure on the Turkish regime, 17 wells and three pumps were started . The main reservoirs were filled and pumping was started toward the city neighborhoods.  However, despite the Turkish militia’s resumption of pumping water again, there is great fear among the citizens.”

USA Loots Syrian Oil and Plunders the Economy

The USA also has occupying troops and proxy/puppet military force in north east Syria. The proxy army is misnamed the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF). How they got that name is revealing. They took on this name as they came under the funding and control of the US military. As documented here, US Army General Ray Thomas told their leadership, “You have got to change your brand. What do you want to call yourselves besides the YPG?’  Then, he explained what happened: “With about a day’s notice they declared that they are the Syrian Democratic Forces. I thought it was a stroke of brilliance to put democracy in there somewhere.”

There are numerous parties and trends within the Syrian Kurdish community. The US has been funding and promoting the secessionist element, pushing them to ally with Turkish backed  jihadists against the Damascus government.  The violation of Syrian sovereignty is extreme and grotesque.

Prior to the war, Syria was self-sufficient in oil and had enough to export and earn some foreign revenues. The primary oil sources are in eastern Syria, where the US troops and proxy forces have established bases. It is desert terrain with little population.

To finance their proxy army, the US has seized control of the major Syrian oil pumping wells. It is likely that President Trump thinks this is brilliant bold move – financing the invasion of Syria with Syrian oil.

In November 2019 President Trump said, “We’re keeping the oil… The oil is secure. We left troops behind only for the oil.”  Recently, it was revealed that a “Little known US firm secures deal for Syrian oil“. Delta Crescent Energy will manage and escalate the theft of Syrian oil.

What would Americans think if another country invaded the US via Mexico, set up bases in Texas, sponsored a secessionist militia, then seized Texas oil wells to finance it?  That is comparable to what the US is doing in Syria.

In addition to stealing Syria’s oil, the US is trying to prevent Syria from developing alternate sources. The “Caesar sanctions” on Syria threatens to punish any individual, company or country that invests or assists Syria to rebuild their war damaged country and especially in the oil and gas sector.

The US establishment seems to be doing everything it can to undermine the Syrian economy and damage the Syrian currency. Due to pressure on Lebanese banks, plus the Caesar sanctions, the Syrian pound has plummeted in value from 650 to 2150 to the US dollar in the past 10 months.

North east Syria is the breadbasket of the country with the richest wheat and grain fields. There are reports of US pressuring farmers to not sell their wheat crops to the Syrian government. One year ago, Nicholas Heras of the influential Center for New American Security argued “Assad needs access to cereal crops in northeast Syria to prevent a bread crisis in the areas of western Syria that he controls….Wheat is a weapon of great power in this next phase of the Syrian conflict.”   Now, it appears the US is following this strategy. Four months ago, in May 2020,  Syrian journalist Stephen Sahiounie reported, “Apache helicopters of the US occupation forces flew low Sunday morning, according to residents of the Adla village, in the Shaddadi countryside, south of Hasaka, as they dropped ‘thermal balloons, an incendiary weapon, causing the wheat fields to explode into flames while the hot dry winds fanned the raging fire.

After delivering their fiery pay-load, the helicopters flew close to homes in an aggressive manner, which caused residents and especially small children to fear for their lives.  The military maneuver was delivering a clear message: don’t sell your wheat to the Syrian government.”

To better loot the oil and plunder the Syria economy, in the past weeks the US is sending more heavy equipment and military hardware through the Kurdish region of Iraq.

In the south of Syria, the US has another base and occupation zone at the strategic Al Tanf border crossing. This is at the intersection of the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan. This is also the border crossing for the highway from Baghdad to Damascus. The US controls this border area to prevent Syrian reconstruction projects from Iraq or Iran. When Syrian troops have tried to get near there, they have been attacked on their own soil.

Meanwhile, international funds donated for “Syrian relief” are disproportionately sent to support and assist the last strong-hold of Al Qaeda terrorists in Idlib on the north west border with Turkey.  The US and its partners evidently want to sustain the armed opposition and prevent the Syrian government from reclaiming their territory.

Flouting International Law and the UN Charter

The USA and Turkey have shown how easy it is to violate international law. The occupation of Syrian land and attacks on its sovereignty are being done in broad daylight. But this is not just a legal issue. Stopping the supply of safe drinking water and burning wheat fields to create more hunger violate the most basic tenets of decency and morality.

With supreme hypocrisy, the US foreign policy establishment often complains about the decline in the “rule of law”. In actuality, there is no greater violator than the US itself.

In his speech to the UN Security Council,  Syrian Ambassador Ja’afari decried this situation saying “international law has become like the gentle lamb whose care is entrusted to a herd of wolves.”

• Author’s note: To see good political and military maps of Syria,  go to southfront.org

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist who has visited Syria several times since 2014. He lives in the SF Bay Area and can be reached at rsterling1@gmail.com.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Russian Clouds Over Turkish-Backed Jihadi Paradise In Idlib

South Front | September 17, 2020

On September 16, hundreds of protesters gathered near those Turkish military positions in Greater Idlib, which are surrounded by the Syrian Army, demanding the full withdrawal of the Turkish Army from Syria.

The largest protests took place near Turkish observation posts at Murak and Alsurman. Both these posts were surrounded by Syrian troops during the military operation against Turkish-backed al-Qaeda terrorists in southern Idlib. A majority of the protesters who took part in the event were from the nearby towns and villages, including Murak, Alsurman and Tell Touqan.

In the best traditions of Turkish ‘democracy’, Turkish soldiers from the Murak observation post responded to the protesters with tear gas.

Later on the same day, the Turkish government claimed that the observation posts had become the target of provocations and even individual attacks fomented by the ‘Assad regime’. According to the Turkish side, Turkish forces successfully repelled the provocation.

Meanwhile, Russian-Turkish military consultations on the conflicts in Syria and Libya have been ongoing in Ankara. According to Russian state media, Moscow proposed that the Turkish military reduce the number of observation posts in Greater Idlib, but the proposal was rejected. Nonetheless, Russian state media reported, citing their own sources, that Turkey had agreed to reduce the number of troops deployed in Idlib.

Currently, Ankara has almost 10,000 troops and thousands of pieces of military equipment, including battle tanks and artillery, in northwestern Syria. If the media reports are true, the formal and widely-promoted withdrawal of a dozen Turkish military trucks with several dozen troops will not change the situation strategically. Ankara has repeatedly demonstrated that it is not interested in a real fight against terrorism in Syria and that it in fact uses Idlib terrorist groups to promote its own agenda. This posture could be changed only under the increasing pressure of circumstances and regular friendly reminders from Turkey’s ‘strategic partners’.

As one such reminder over the past few days, the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted more than a hundred airstrikes on infrastructure and positions of the Turkish-backed terrorists. These strikes started last weekend and as of the morning of September 17, it does not seem that they will be fully halted anytime soon. Clouds have once again gathered over the jihadi paradise, which is being created by the Erdogan government in northwestern Syria.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Air Force Is Leveling Yemeni Capital To Ground In Response To Houthi Strikes On Riyadh

South Front | September 15, 2020

The Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Yemen with a renewed energy following the recent missile and drone strikes on the Kingdom’s capital by the Ansar Allah movement (also known as the Houthis).

According to pro-Houthi sources, Saudi warplanes conducted over 60 airstrikes on different targets across the country during the past few days. They insist that most of the targets that were hit were objects of civilian infrastructure. At the same time, Riyadh claims that it has been precisely bombing Houthi military positions.

For example, on September 12, the Saudi-led coalition announced that it had carried out a series of airstrikes on the Military Engineering Complex in the Sa’wan Suburb, east of the Yemen capital of Sanaa. According to pro-Saudi sources, the Yemeni Armed Forces loyal to the Houthi government, which controls Sanaa, were “manufacturing and assembling” ballistic missiles and combat drones. The pro-Houthis al-Masirah TV confirmed that Saudi-led coalition warplanes had targeted the Military Engineering Complex with six airstrikes.

On the next day, the new wave of Saudi airstrikes hit the countryside of Sanaa. They allegedly targeted Four drones at Al Dailami Air Base, a military research facility in the Weapons Maintenance Camp, a number of barracks and military posts in the districts of Bani Harith and Arhab, and a headquarters in the al-Sawad Camp.

On September 14, additionally to the Yemeni capital, the Saudi Air Force also conducted raids against Houthi forces in the province of Marib, where the defense of pro-Saudi groups has been collapsing. Clashes between Saudi-led forces and the Houthis have been ongoing across the districts of al-Jubah and Rahbah. However, the main target of the Houthi advance is still the Maas base. Yemeni sources claim that as soon as the base falls, Houthi units will launch an advance on the provincial capital. The Saudi-led coalition captured it in April of 2015 and since then it has successfully kept it under its own control.

Nonetheless, in late 2019 and early 2020, the course of the conflict with no doubt turned to favor the Houthis and Saudi Arabia found itself in conflict even with the main formal ally in the intervention coalition, the UAE. So, the Houthi government now has a good chance to take back the city and the entire province.

This development will become a painful blow to the Saudi leadership and became yet another piece of smoking gun evidence showcasing the failure of its military campaign in Yemen. In response, the Saudi Air Force will likely continue its intense bombing campaign aiming to level Sanaa and other big cities in the hands of the Houthis. The problem with this approach is that this very campaign forces the Houthis to conduct more intense and regular missile and drone attacks on targets inside Saudi Arabia itself.

September 15, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

Bahrain civil society groups reject normalisation agreement

MEMO | September 14, 2020

Civil society groups in Bahrain have rejected the government’s normalisation agreement with Israel which is expected to be signed formally in Washington DC on Tuesday. Seventeen organisations have issued a joint statement to this effect, with signatories including the General Federation of Workers’ Trade Unions in Bahrain, the Bahraini Bar Association and the Bahrain Women’s Association.

“We adhere to the constants of the Bahraini people regarding the just Palestinian cause and the provisions of the constitution that criminalise normalisation with the Zionist entity, in accordance with the official and popular Arab and Islamic consensus rejecting normalisation with this criminal entity,” said the groups. “All forms of normalisation with the Zionist entity initiated by some countries have neither produced peace nor restored the usurped rights of the Palestinian people, but have, rather, encouraged the enemy to commit more crimes against Palestine and the holy Arab and Muslim sites, foremost of which is Holy Jerusalem.”

The statement added that “what is known as a peace treaty between Bahrain and the Zionist enemy under the auspices of the US administration has brought about tremendous shock, resentment and widespread popular rejection among the Bahraini people, their political forces, civil society institutions, and all national actors and personalities.”

As a result, the signatories pointed out, nothing arising from the normalisation deal will have any popular legitimacy. “Generations of Bahrainis have believed in the just nature of the Palestinian cause,” they concluded.

September 14, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Normalisation with Israel means RIP international law, it’s been nice knowing you

By Ibrahim Hewitt | MEMO | September 12, 2020

The news that Bahrain has followed the UAE, Jordan and Egypt into Israel’s criminal embrace was no surprise; nor will it be shocking to hear that Saudi Arabia is following suit, as it almost certainly will. The raising of the Israeli flag in Riyadh will happen sooner rather than later. The groundwork for this has already been prepared by what passes for a government in the Saudi capital, with Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, a state-controlled Imam in Makkah, doing a 180 degree U-turn on peace with Israel in a recent sermon.

These deals have been written in the blood of the people of occupied Palestine. Recognition of the colonial state of Israel is acceptance of the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians by the nascent state and its terrorist militias in and around 1948, and the subsequent death and destruction that the “Israel Defence Forces” have rained down on Palestinians ever since. It is also the acceptance of the death of international law, which surely has no place left to hide if the world accepts what is going on in the name of “peace” in the Middle East.

Once again, the Palestinians are the fall guys in all of this, but what should they do? What can they do? It is tempting to think that they have been backed into a corner and will now be expected to roll over and die, metaphorically or literally; or possibly both. The fact is, though, that they still have some cards to play, but it will require a major shift in the strategy that has dominated Palestinian politics for more than a quarter of a century.

The rot started when the Palestine Liberation Organisation under Yasser Arafat gave up on “liberation” as a goal and signed the Oslo Accords. Palestine and its people have paid a heavy price ever since, with their leaders making concession after concession while Israel has conceded nothing. On the contrary, the occupation has become even more entrenched during the farce of “negotiations” which have now been on hold for years.

Is there any other place in the world where the victims of criminal activity have been told to negotiate with the criminals in order for justice to be served? Or where justice has never actually been on the agenda of such talks because it would expose the criminals and their allies for what they really are?

Is there any other conflict in the world where the aggressors claim “self-defence” every time they bomb civilians “back to the stone age”, and where this is accepted by the international community even though an occupation state has no such legitimate claim under international law? Or where the legitimate right to resist military occupation by every means at your disposal is regarded as “terrorism”, as it is when you are a Palestinian resisting Israel’s brutal occupation of your land?

We can and should argue that the Palestinian Authority hasn’t got a leg to stand on with complaints about the UAE and now Bahrain doing a deal with Israel, for the simple reason that not only has it been happy to rely on support from Egypt and Jordan for decades, both of which have peace treaties with the Zionist state, but it has also continued to protect Israel and Israelis through its “security cooperation” with Tel Aviv. This cooperation — a euphemism for collaboration — has been described as “sacred” by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, probably because he knows that his Palestinian No Authority Whatsoever was created to serve Israel’s interests, not the interests of the people of occupied Palestine, and is funded accordingly. No collaboration, no funds.

Abbas and his PLO-Fatah-PA cronies can complain as much as they like about “normalisation”, but they know that their words can only ever serve as rhetoric unless and until real changes are made. As my colleague at MEMO Motasem Dalloul wrote this week, such complaints are all for media consumption.

It is surely time for the PA to call it a day and dissolve itself. Abbas should step aside; his “ministers” should clear their desks; and the “Palestinian security apparatus” should be disbanded. Annexation is going to happen no matter what the PA or anyone else says or does, so let Israel declare its sovereignty over the whole of the occupied Palestinian territories. Such a move will still be illegal, if international law has any meaning left at all, and the status quo won’t really change as far as those living under occupation are concerned. Oppression is still oppression whether your jailers wear Israeli or Palestinian uniforms.

With no PA as its lapdog, Israel will have sole responsibility for security and the civilian infrastructure for everyone living within its as yet undeclared borders (alone amongst all UN member states, Israel has never said where its borders lie), Jews and Arabs alike. That will place a huge financial and logistical burden on Netanyahu and his increasingly far-right government, a burden which it is unlikely to be able to cope with if it wants to retain the mirage that it is “the only democracy in the Middle East”.

Not that Israel has ever really cared what the rest of the world thinks as long as its lobbyists are able to make Western governments dance to their tune. This has allowed Israel to act with impunity and treat international laws and conventions with contempt for more than 70 years, and its leaders have been and remain war criminals and guilty of crimes against humanity. And yet those ostensibly democratic governments in the West, for reasons known only to themselves, continue to declare their undying loyalty to what is, by any measure, a rogue state.

The guardians of international law at the UN are toothless and have acquiesced with Israel’s occupation and presence in the Middle East simply by not acknowledging that it is a settler-colonial state which rides roughshod over Palestinian rights, including the refugees’ right of return. UN agencies provide essential services to the refugees but have to labour under the constraint which has turned Palestine into a humanitarian rather than a political issue.

Moreover, the absurdity of the Security Council veto afforded to the post-World War Two nuclear states means that nothing will happen at the UN if any one of the US, Britain, Russia, China or France disagrees. The rest of the world can have opinions and even majority opinions but that tiny exclusive club will always carry the vote and then apply undue pressure on other countries to do as they are told.

The normalisation of Arab states, therefore, doesn’t really mean “peace” as we are being led to believe; it simply means that they too are displaying contempt for international law; that they too condone the Nakba and the Naksa; that they too condone the ongoing colonisation of Palestine and the oppression of its people; and that they too are bowing to Zionist hegemony in the region, and perhaps the rest of the world as well. Normalisation with Israel actually means RIP international law, it’s been nice knowing you.

September 12, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli warplanes use US Tanf Zone to bomb Syria again

Al-Masdar News | September 11, 2020

BEIRUT, LEBANON – The U.S. Al-Tanf Zone in southeastern Homs has once again been used by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to bomb an area in Syria, a source in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in Damascus told Al-Masdar News.

According to the source, missiles fired from the Al-Tanf area targeted the town of Al-Safira in southern Aleppo, resulting in a number of explosions and at least two deaths.

The source said a number of missiles targeted the Scientific Research Lab, with a few managing to hit the facility.

He would add that the building suffered damage, but it is believed to be minimal at this time.

The U.S.-led Coalition contends that they are using the Al-Tanf Zone to prevent the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) from returning; however, it is the Syrian Army that has solely faced ISIS in the Homs Governorate.

Thursday night’s attack by the Israeli Defense Forces marks the second time this month and the third time in the last two weeks that they have targeted a site inside of Syria.

The previous attacks targeted the T-4 Airbase in Homs and the Damascus International Airport area.

The attack last night hit the town that has the largest Iranian presence in northern Syria; it has been used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to coordinate with its allied forces in Aleppo and the Idlib countrysides.

September 12, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

At Least 37 Million People Displaced by US War on Terror, Study Finds

Sputnik – 08.09.2020

A new report by the Costs of War Project has found that at least 37 million people have been displaced by the US War on Terror; however, the group warns that the estimate is conservative and the real total could be far higher.

According to a report published on Tuesday by the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, at least 37 million people have been displaced, either internally or been forced to become refugees, in eight different countries as a result of the US War on Terror, begun in 2001.

For comparison, the population of the US state of California is 39.5 million, and the population of Canada is 37.59 million. However, the researchers warn that is a “very conservative” estimate, as the true number could be closer to between 48 and 59 million people.

The report focused on eight conflicts, including declared and undeclared war zones, where the US has carried out military operations under the guise of destroying international terrorism: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines.

The group’s data was compiled from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

In Afghanistan, some 5.3 million people have been displaced in total since 2001, although this number is in considerable dispute, as the researchers concluded that 2.1 million Afghans had fled the country since 2001, but they also found evidence that as many as 2.4 million had fled just between 2012 and 2019. Another 3.2 million have been displaced internally. The researchers noted, however, that war and civil turmoil in the Central Asian country has continued almost nonstop since the late 1970s.

In neighboring Pakistan, the US war near the Afghan border has displaced some 3.7 million people, including 360,000 refugees abroad and 1.56 million from the border area.

Meanwhile in Libya, where the US supported the 2011 overthrow of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, at least 1.2 million people have been displaced in what the IDMC called a “state collapse trigger[ed] mass displacement.” At the start of 2020, the report notes, 451,000 remained internally displaced, and the civil war continues to rage.

Iraq has the largest total number, with 9.2 million people displaced by several wars. In March 2003, the US launched a massive invasion of Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and the brutal counterinsurgency war that erupted afterward had displaced some 4.7 million people by 2007. While the US war in Iraq officially ended in 2011, war erupted again just three years later in 2014, when Daesh roared into existence, and the US once again became involved in major combat operations in Mesopotamia. By 2020, 650,000 Iraqis remained refugees abroad, and 1.4 million had been internally displaced.

In neighboring Syria, where Daesh first established its would-be caliphate amid a civil war raging since 2011, the US became involved at several distinct levels over the years. The report was very truncated in its analysis, looking just at the five provinces where US forces fought on the ground – Aleppo, al-Hasakah, al-Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and Homs – and only since 2017.

By those criteria, 7.1 million had been displaced, including 470,000 internally. However, 220,000 of those have been just since October 2019, when the Turkish invasion of eastern Syria pushed 220,000 Kurds from their homes, including 17,900 who crossed the border into Iraq for safety.

However, the report notes that if a different metric were used – one including all of Syria beginning in 2013, when the US started arming Syrian rebel militias – the number of displaced persons increases massively to between 44 and 51 million people.

In Somalia, where the US has waged or supported wars for decades, “virtually all Somalis have been displaced by violence at least once in their life,” the Norwegian Refugee Council is quoted as saying in the report. From a population of 15 million, some 4.2 million have been displaced by US operations, including 80,000 refugees and 3.4 million internally displaced persons.

Like Somalia, Yemen has seen war rage for decades. The US began airstrikes in Yemen in 2002, pursuing al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but conditions deteriorated catastrophically in 2015, when Saudi Arabia and several of its allies, including the US, launched a war against the Yemeni Houthi movement.

The ongoing war, in which Saudi, Emirati and Moroccan aircraft have bombarded the country and supported militias on the ground as well as forces loyal to ousted Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, has displaced 4.4 million people. In 2019 alone, 400,000 more people were displaced. According to the OCHA, 100,000 Yemenis have been killed by combat operations since 2015, and another 130,000 have died from hunger and disease.

The Philippines is the only country on the list not located in southwestern Asia or northern or eastern Africa. However, the US-supported military operations in Mindanao against groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group have displaced some 1.7 million Filipinos, nearly all of them internally.

“In documenting displacement caused by the US post-9/11 wars, we are not suggesting the US government or the United States as a country is solely responsible for the displacement. Causation is never so simple,” the authors note in the report. “Causation always involves a multiplicity of combatants and other powerful actors, centuries of history, and large-scale political, economic, and social forces. Even in the simplest of cases, conditions of pre-existing poverty, environmental change, prior wars, and other forms of violence shape who is displaced and who is not.”

September 8, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shtayyeh: PA Ready to Talk with Israel Based on International Resolutions

Palestine Chronicle | September 7, 2020

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said on Sunday that the leadership is ready to return to a political track with Israel based on international resolutions and agreements already signed by the two sides, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Shtayyeh made his comments during a meeting with the German Minister of State Niels Annen in Ramallah.

The PA official praised Germany’s rejection of Israel’s annexation plans and support for the two-state solution. He stressed that the solid international and Arab position and the will of the Palestinian leadership and people combined to thwart the plans.

Shtayyeh also reiterated the PA’s readiness to return to the political track based on clear terms of reference, including signed agreements with Israel and international law as well as resolutions recognized by the global community.

“If the annexation stops,” he said, “we will not allow the continuation of the status quo, whereby [illegal] settlements and the undermining of the establishment of a Palestinian state continue.” He called on Germany to play a role in ending the status quo through a serious political track.

Palestinian-Israeli talks have been stalled since 2014 after the failure of the then US Secretary of State John Kerry to get the two sides to reach a peace agreement. PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced on May 19 that the PA is canceling all agreements with Israel and the US, as a direct response to Israel’s annexation plans.

Last week, Abbas called for an international peace conference under the UN umbrella and based on new talks with Israel launched from the Arab Peace initiatives.

September 7, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment