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US cannot disarm Lebanon’s Hezbollah through sanctions: Russian ambassador to Beirut

Press TV – August 1, 2020

The Russian ambassador to Beirut says US officials are under the illusion that they can disarm the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement through sanctions.

“Disarming Hezbollah is the primary purpose of US sanctions… I do not think that such a goal would be achieved through this method. The United States will not manage to force Hezbollah into laying down its weapons. This is an illusion,” Zasypkin said in an exclusive interview with Beirut-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network on Friday.

In late October 2018, US President Donald Trump’s administration imposed a new round of sanctions on Hezbollah, targeting individuals and international organizations that do business with the group.

“Over the past year, we have levied the highest sanctions ever imposed on Hezbollah, in a single year, by far. Just a few moments ago, I signed legislation imposing even more hard-hitting sanctions on Hezbollah to further starve them of their funds. And they are starving for them,” Trump said during an event in Washington, DC, that marked the 35th anniversary of an attack on US marine barracks in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

Zasypkin added, “We (Russia) have made efforts in Syria. This is not only beneficial to Syria, but also to Lebanon as it protects the country against the potential threat of terrorism. If terrorism prevails in Syria, it will be easy for thousands of terrorists to cross into Lebanon, and this would lead to the partitioning of the country.”

He noted that Iran plays a positive role in the Middle East region, condemning the recent harassment of an Iranian passenger plane flying from Tehran to Beirut by two US fighter jets over Syria.

“Americans are creating problems and violating international law. The goal is to create tensions and reestablish their presence, role and influence,” the Russian diplomat said.

He went on to say that the balance of power in Syria is changing. “Over the past four years, the balance of power had been in the interest of terrorists. The ensuing terrorism allowed outsiders, including the US-led coalition, to come into play.”

“I think Americans have numerous problems there (in Syria), but al-Tanf region is still under their control. They are clinging to the area in order to have influence. Their main goal is to sever ties between Iran and Syria,” Zasypkin pointed out.

He noted that Moscow honors the principle of non-interference in Syria’s domestic affairs, lauding “close relations” between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad as well as military forces of the two countries.

Zasypkin said Russian and Syrian institutions are closely cooperating with each other in various fields, including combat against terrorism, maintenance, reconstruction and humanitarian activities.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Russian ambassador pointed to the recent rafts of economic sanctions against Syria under the so-called Caesar Act.

“The United States has used the leverage of sanctions for decades against Russia, Venezuela, Cuba and Iran. The essence of the idea has been to starve people in those countries in a way that they would ultimately turn against their own ruling systems. The scheme is now being applied to all countries,” Zasypkin highlighted.

He added, “Caesar Act is broad and comprehensive, and affects other parties since Syria has been under sanctions for a long time. Foreign companies are now targeted by the ruling. It is a preemptive battle against the possibility of restoration of ties between Syria and Western or Arab parties.”

August 1, 2020 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Palestinian minor kidnapped by undercover Israel soldiers

MEMO | July 24, 2020

A 12-year-old Palestinian child was kidnapped by an undercover Israeli soldier yesterday from the occupied Jerusalem town of Issawiya, reported Wafa news agency.

According to local witnesses, undercover Israeli forces were in a civilian car which they abducted Moath Ewewi in and drove him away to an unknown destination.

The town has been subject to ongoing violations, including the abduction of many Palestinians, the daily invasions and violent searches of homes, in addition to excessively high fines and fees imposed on the residents.

This systematic and widespread campaign of regular raids and kidnappings to instill fear among the Palestinians, and to keep them suppressed, is a serious violation of international and humanitarian laws, according to human rights groups.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces rounded up three Palestinians after breaking into their houses today in the occupied West Bank city of Tubas, claiming to search for “wanted” Palestinians, triggering clashes with residents.

Despite the coronavirus crisis, Palestinians in Jerusalem have witnessed noticeable escalation in Israeli attacks, home raids and arrest campaigns lately, which is seen as an attempt to put more pressure on Palestinian natives of Jerusalem to force them to leave the city and clear the way for new Jewish-only settlement projects.

July 24, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 2 Comments

Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians illegal and an affront to justice: UN expert

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

GENEVA (17 July 2020) – A UN human rights expert has called on Israel to immediately stop all actions amounting to collective punishment of the Palestinian people, with millions of innocent harmed daily and nothing achieved but deeper tensions and an atmosphere conducive to further violence.

“It is an affront to justice and the rule of law to see that such methods continue to be used in the 21st century and that Palestinians collectively continue to be punished for the actions of a few,” said Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967. “These practices entail serious violations against Palestinians including the right to life, freedom of movement, health, adequate shelter and adequate standard of living.”

In his report to the 44th session of the Human Rights Council, Lynk said Israel’s strategy to control the Palestinian population violates a foundational rule of virtually every modern legal system: Only the guilty can be punished for their acts, and only after a fair process. The innocent can never be made to be punished for the deeds of others.

“The extent of the devastating impact of Israel’s collective punishment policy can be most strikingly seen in its ongoing 13-year-old closure of Gaza, which now suffers from a completely collapsed economy, devastated infrastructure and a barely functioning social service system,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“While Israel’s justification for imposing the closure on Gaza was to contain Hamas and ensure Israel’s security, the actual impact of the closure has been the destruction of Gaza’s economy, causing immeasurable suffering to its two million inhabitants,” the Rapporteur said. “Collective punishment has been clearly forbidden under international humanitarian law through Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. No exceptions are permitted.”

The Special Rapporteur’s new report also criticised Israel’s continued policy to punitively demolish Palestinian homes. “Since 1967, Israel has destroyed more than 2,000 Palestinian homes, designed to punish Palestinian families for acts some of their members may have committed, but they themselves did not,” he said. “This practice is in clear violation of Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Lynk said it was disheartening that the demolition of Palestinian homes is still viewed by the Israeli political and legal leadership, including the Israeli High Court, as a permissible deterrent. “In fact, these demolitions only further contribute to an atmosphere of hate and vengeance, as the Israeli security leadership has itself acknowledged.”

July 21, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Evil, Immoral, Vicious, and Hypocritical Embargo Against Cuba

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | July 20, 2020

The banality of evil that characterizes the U.S. national security state is demonstrated perfectly by the continuation of its deadly economic embargo against Cuba, which has been ongoing for some 60 years.

What’s the point of the embargo? After all, the Pentagon’s, CIA’s, and NSA’s official enemy Fidel Castro died years ago. Why continue to intentionally inflict harm on the Cuban people?

And make no mistake about it: Inflicting harm on the Cuban people is the purpose of the embargo. Its aim is to impoverish or starve Cubans into ousting their post-Castro regime and installing another pro-U.S. right-wing brutal dictatorship similar to the one that Castro ousted from power in the Cuban revolution.

In fact, the first embargo that the U.S. implemented against Cuba was during the reign of the crooked, corrupt, and brutal pro-U.S. right-wing dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. That was an arms embargo. U.S. officials didn’t want weaponry imported into Cuba because that might enable the Cuban people to oppose Batista in a violent revolution.

During his reign, Batista partnered with the Mafia, the premier criminal organization that was smuggling drugs into the United States. As part of their partnership agreement, Batista let the Mafia operate gambling casinos in Cuba. As part of that cozy relationship, Batista would have his henchmen kidnap under-aged girls in Cuba and turn them over to the Mafia, which would then provide them as perks to the high-rollers in its casinos. That’s one of the things that brought on the Cuban Revolution.

That’s the guy that the U.S. national-security state was hell-bent on keeping in power. Thus, it should surprise no one that the CIA, like Batista, later entered into partnership with the Mafia, knowing full well that the Mafia was engaged in massive criminal activity. The purpose of the CIA-Mafia partnership was assassination. They were working together to assassinate Castro.

It stands to reason that the Mafia would try to assassinate Castro. It has lost all its casinos to Castro’s nationalization. And it was in the business of killing people.

But the U.S. government? In the business of murder? And in partnership with the biggest criminal organization in the world?

Don’t forget something important here: Castro, Cuba, and the Cuban people have never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. No invasion. No terrorist attacks. No assassinations.

In fact, it has always been the other way around. In the more than six decades of bad relations between Cuba and the U.S., it has always been the U.S. government that has been the aggressor. An invasion, terrorist attacks, assassination attempts, and the embargo, all on the part of the U.S. government.

U.S. national-security state officials always justified such actions under the notion that Cuba was the spearhead of a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the United States, one that was supposedly based in Moscow. It was always a ridiculous notion but that was the mindset of CIA, NSA, and Pentagon officials during the Cold War — that Cuba’s communist regime posed a grave threat to U.S. “national security.”

But the Cold War ended more than 30 years ago. Do the CIA, NSA, and Pentagon still think that the United States is in danger of falling to the Cuban communists?

Of course not. Now, it’s just sheer viciousness. Now, it’s just a matter of doing everything possible to oust the current regime in Cuba from power and restoring a Batista-like dictatorship, one that will be loyal and deferential to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

The viciousness is demonstrated by the fact that the embargo doesn’t just criminalize Americans who do business with Cuba. It also targets foreign companies who do so. If they are caught doing so, they are targeted for prosecution or economic banishment here in the United States. In the minds of U.S. officials, it’s more imperative than ever to squeeze as many Cubans as possible into death and suffering.

Needless to say, the embargo has made things significantly worse for the Cuban people during the COVID-19 crisis. That’s fine with U.S. officials. The more Cubans who die, the greater the chance of an internal regime-change operation.

Sure, there is no doubt that Cuba’s socialist economic system is a major factor in the economic suffering of the Cuban people. But there is also no doubt that the U.S. embargo has served as the other side of a vise that has squeezed the economic lifeblood out of the Cuban people.

A dark irony, of course, is that the embargo has enabled the U.S. government to wield and exercise the same type of economic control over the American people that the Cuban socialist regime exercises over the Cuban people. It’s called adopting socialism to oppose socialism.

When will the evil, immoral, vicious, and hypocritical U.S. embargo against Cuba be lifted? When a critical mass of the American people, including those who go to church every Sunday, have a crisis of conscience and demand that it be lifted.

July 20, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 2 Comments

Is Israel Uniquely Evil?

Many Palestinians in the camp lost their small businesses amid a dire economic crisis. Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud
By Irfan Chowdhury | Palestine Chronicle | July 18, 2020

Recently, political journalist Sunny Hundal tweeted in relation to the left’s alleged obsession with Israel:

“In isolation, Israel does a lot of bad things re: human rights.

Is it uniquely bad? Is it worse than others?

Not even close. So if you’re obsessed by actions of Jews, don’t be surprised if people suspect your motives.”

Similar sentiments have been expressed by LBC radio host Maajid Nawaz, who has declared that Israel is “the constant what-about excuse used by everyone who doesn’t want to address some real grave, serious issues in the Middle East but constantly wants to point fingers instead at the Middle East’s only secular, democratic and yes, very imperfect, country”.

Likewise, former Labour MP Ian Austin recently wrote an article for Express & Star in which he asserts that “many people on the left have become obsessed with Israel. This tiny country – the world’s only Jewish state and the Middle East’s only democracy – seems to attract more criticism than all the world’s other controversies combined… Of course, Israel’s not perfect. What country is? But where else in the Middle East would you find free and fair elections, a free and vibrant media; a robust and independent judiciary and strong trade unions?”

As a factual matter, it is untrue that the left is single-mindedly focused on Israel; when I was on the committee of my university’s Socialist Students Society a few years ago, we had meetings on the Israel-Palestine conflict, the economic crisis in Venezuela, protests in Iran, Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, Bolsonaro’s election in Brazil, gun violence in the US and the prospect of reforming the EU, among other international issues.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is one of the most important left-wing figures in British political history, has been a life-long champion of the rights of not only Palestinians, but also Kurds, Western Saharans, West Papuans, hagossians, and numerous other oppressed peoples. Nevertheless, even if it were true that the left does focus on Israel more than other countries, this would not be unjustified because, contrary to the claims of the aforementioned commentators, there are certain respects in which Israel’s human rights violations are uniquely severe in the international arena.

For example, Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is the longest-running military occupation in modern history. It has been ongoing now for 53 years and has been characterized by systematic and egregious human rights violations such as home demolitions, torture, night raids, abduction and imprisonment of children, harassment at checkpoints, the killing of civilians, destruction of agriculture, and daily humiliation at the hands of soldiers and settlers (all of this is documented in great detail by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem).

All military occupations are brutal and vicious; to have to endure one that is also predicated on deliberate displacement and dispossession for 53 years is simply unimaginable for most people. In the case of Gaza, the occupation has been compounded by an illegal siege that has been ongoing now for 13 years; in 2015, then UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl described Israel’s siege of Gaza as the “longest in history” and “a very extreme form [of] illegal collective punishment.”

The siege prevents anyone from leaving Gaza, apart from in exceptional cases; for example, sick children are sometimes allowed to receive medical treatment in the West Bank, but their parents aren’t allowed to accompany them – even when it means that the children are forced to die alone (as in the case of 5-year-old Aisha alLoulou). Anyone who tries to fish beyond the contaminated coastal waters of Gaza gets either shot at or kidnapped by the Israeli navy, and anyone who crosses the barbed-wire fence into Israel runs the risk of being murdered by the IDF (as in the case of 17-year-old Emad Khalil Ibrahim Shahin, who crossed over in 2018 and was returned to his family one year later in a body bag).

As a result of the siege, 97% of the water in Gaza is now unfit for human consumption; according to Sara Roy, Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Centre for Middle East Studies, this means that “Innocent human beings, most of them young, are slowly being poisoned by the water they drink and likely by the soil in which they plant”.

Thus, Israel has been carrying out the longest-running military occupation in modern history and the longest-running siege in modern history. These two facts alone render Israel unique in terms of the scope of its brutality and criminality.

There are other respects in which Israel stands out from other countries in its use of terror and violence; for example, it is one of the most aggressive countries in the world, having waged wars of aggression against Lebanon in 1978, 1982, 1993, 1996 and 2006, and against Gaza in 2004, 2006, 2008/9, 2012 and 2014, killing huge numbers of civilians in the process (all while issuing threats and carrying out various covert attacks against Iran, which are all in violation of the UN Charter).

Furthermore, according to Amnesty International, Israel is “the only country in the world that automatically prosecutes children in military courts that lack fundamental fair rights and guarantees” (the military courts have a 99% conviction rate).

Children are routinely abused during interrogations (the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has reported that “Palestinian children arrested by [Israeli] military and police are systematically subject to degrading treatment, and often to acts of torture”), and in the overwhelming majority of cases, their parents are excluded from the entire ‘judicial’ process. It is worth noting that all of these human rights violations are directly enabled and facilitated by both the US and the UK.

These are all examples of how, in many ways, Israel is uniquely evil. The easiest way for Israel to stop being singled out for criticism – whether real or imagined – would be for it to stop singling itself out with its appalling human rights record.

– Irfan Chowdhury is a freelance writer who has previously been published in openDemocracy, The Iranian, Mondoweiss, Peace News and Hastings In Focus. He also runs a blog, where he mostly writes about British foreign policy, the Israel-Palestine conflict and civil liberties: https://irfanchowdhury98.com/

July 18, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

Inconclusive investigations and psychological trauma cultivate Israel’s impunity

Palestinian protesters hold banners to show solidarity with the martyr Iyad Hallaq a disabled Palestinian man who was shot dead by Israeli police in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on 2 June 2020 [Abedalrahman Hassan/ApaImages]

Protesters hold banners in solidarity with the martyr Iyad Hallaq an autistic Palestinian man shot dead by Israeli police in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on 2 June 2020 [Abedalrahman Hassan/ApaImages]
By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | July 16, 2020

In May, Israeli security forces killed Eyad Al-Hallaq, a 32-year-old Palestinian man with special needs, on suspicion that he had a weapon. He was on his way to the special school in Jerusalem which he attended, when he was chased by Israeli security forces, cornered and shot, despite being accompanied by his teacher who repeatedly called out to the aggressors that he was autistic. No weapon was discovered on Hallaq after this unwarranted extrajudicial killing.

Less than two months after Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz issued a perfunctory, patronising apology in which he stated, “I am sure this subject will be investigated swiftly and conclusions will be reached,” recent reports attest to how rapidly Israel invokes its own impunity to cover up its crimes.

Eyad Al-Hallaq was killed in a heavily securitised area in Jerusalem’s Old City; security cameras monitoring the indigenous population are everywhere. However, Israel’s Justice Ministry has confirmed that there is no CCTV footage of the killing. It went on to assert that, despite the presence of cameras where the shooting took place, the cameras “were not connected at the relevant time and didn’t document” the incident.

This lacks even a shard of credibility, yet it is not unusual in Israel, which goes to great lengths to safeguard its own institutions and uniformed criminals from scrutiny and prosecution. The Hallaq family is now left with no recourse for justice, because Israel has created its own travesty of justice that is concerned solely with manufacturing impunity for those responsible for the 32-year-old’s death. The investigation is close to reaching a conclusion, according to a Haaretz report, and there is no doubt that the bereaved family will be left to face a multitude of questions on its own, with the additional psychological trauma of knowing that the exact circumstances of their son’s murder are unresolved and the perpetrators still roam free. In Israel’s typical style, it will be an inconclusive end to a concluded investigation. The family’s lawyer, meanwhile, is requesting an in-depth investigation because there is a “very strong suspicion” that the police are concealing evidence in this case.

This is not the first time that Israel has refused to release evidence that would provide both context and corroboration. A case that springs to mind is that of Ibrahim Abu Thurayyah, a double amputee killed by a shot to the head in December 2017 during the Great Return March protests in the Gaza Strip. Israeli investigations concluded there was no evidence that one of its snipers had directly targeted Thurayyah while he was in his wheelchair.

Concealing evidence is a clear indication of culpability. For Israel, however, the practice is dissociative and is reflective of how colonial violence against Palestinians sustains itself. There is no need to deny culpability if action is taken to prevent any discussion of the crime. Indeed, in this case it is easier for Israeli government officials to exploit the victim and the grieving family, since the evidence of the events leading up to Eyad Al-Hallaq’s killing has been eliminated.

For the Hallaq family, as it was for other families whose relatives have been murdered by Israeli occupation forces, the killing and subsequent cover-up is a personal rupture. Politically, Israel is replicating the impunity generated since the Nakba on a different scale, relying upon separate episodes of inflicted trauma to prevent a collective Palestinian narrative from emerging as a unified front against its colonial violence.

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Israel detains two Hamas officials in the occupied West Bank

The national and Islamic forces and factions in Gaza, including Hamas and Fatah, reach an agreement on a unified national plan of action to confront the US' 'deal of the century' and Israel's annexation plans on June 28, 2020 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]

Factions, including Hamas and Fatah, reach agreement on a unified national plan of action to confront the ‘deal of the century’ and Israel’s annexation plans on June 28, 2020 [Mohammad Asad / MEMO]
MEMO | July 10, 2020

The Israeli occupation forces detained two officials of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, on Thursday during raids in the occupied West Bank. According to Anadolu, eyewitnesses said that soldiers raided properties in Ramallah and Al-Bireh.

Clashes erupted between dozens of Palestinian youths and the troops who arrested Jamal Al-Tawil from Al-Bireh, and Hussein Abu Kweik from Beitunia in Ramallah. The soldiers are said to have used live ammunition and rubber bullets, as well as sound bombs and tear gas against the demonstrators.

Hamas condemned the arrests. “This was a miserable and failed attempt to stop our resistance to all Israeli projects intended to liquidate Palestinian cause, especially the colonial annexation plan,” said spokesman Hazem Kassem. “The arrest of these officials is an effort to block the path of joint national action to challenge the occupation’s plans.”

Kassem added that, despite the arrests, “Hamas will continue our struggle against the [Israeli] occupation and its projects, and we will continue to develop the path of unity with all sections of our people to reach a strategy of joint struggle to confront the annexation plan.”

Arrest and detention campaigns are common in the occupied West Bank. Israel claims that those detained are “wanted” by its security services.

READ: Israel fears meetings between senior Fatah and Hamas representatives

July 10, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Pattern’ of Abuse by Colombian Soldiers Raises Questions Over US’ Continued Funding for Forces

Sputnik – July 7, 2020

The rapes of two young, Indigenous girls by soldiers in rural Colombia have shed light on the role that the US plays in expanding and training the Colombian military, two activists told Sputnik.

Nathalie Hrizi, an educator, a political activist and the editor of Breaking the Chains, told Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear on Tuesday that the sexual assaults of the two minors highlight a continued pattern of abuse at the hands of Colombian service members.

“Essentially, these two rapes have raised attention to what is a pattern in Colombia and a pattern associated with the human rights abuses and violations of the Colombian military,” Hrizi told show host Nicole Roussell.

“And so there have been protests … really, the Indengenous community are those that have been organizing.”

One of the assaults involved an 11-year-old girl from Colombia’s Embera tribe and has since seen seven soldiers from an army garrison in western Colombia arrested after admitting to the minor’s abduction and rape.

The second case was revealed in recent weeks by the Peace and Reconciliation Foundation, a Colombian think tank, which detailed the September 2019 abduction and repeated rape of a 15-year-old from the country’s Nukak Maku tribe. Both assaults have led to widespread protests across Colombia.

Speaking to Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear on Tuesday, Hrizi explained that the Embera tribe is located in an autonomous territory near a military station.

“That rape has been really, in the eyes of the public, connected to another rape that happened in September to another Indigenous girl in a different area. She’s a 15-year-old girl in the Guaviare area,” Hrizi explained.

“On September 8, soldiers abducted her, and they kept her for five days … they raped her and denied her food and water … that has not really received any real widespread acknowledgment until more recently because of the way the Colombian military is organized,” Hrizi added.

Since 2016, at least 118 members of the Colombian army have been investigated over accusations that they sexually abused minors, Colombian General Eduardo Zapateiro revealed on July 1, Reuters reported. The Colombian army, which has battled for decades against leftist guerilla forces, as well as criminal gangs formed by former members of right-wing paramilitary groups, has long been accused of human rights violations.

It’s important to note “the power of this Indigenous protest movement and the really important ways in which that movement is drawing connections between violence against women and broader abuses of power, whether at the hands of the military, police, rich people or otherwise, and that very much includes the role of the US in expanding and training the Colombian military,” Hannah Dickinson, an associate professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and an organizer with the Geneva Women’s Assembly, told Sputnik.

According to a report by Defense News, the US military has helped train Colombia’s soldiers for decades, despite widespread condemnation of human rights abuses by the Colombian military.

“In 1999, the US aid to Colombia jumped from $3 billion to $7.5 billion, and civic and human rights organizations in Colombia have been documenting cases of sexual violence against Indigenous women for the past 12 years,” Dickinson explained.

July 7, 2020 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Turkish troops, allied militants cut off drinking water to people in Syria’s Hasakah, environs

Press TV – July 5, 2020

Turkish military troops and allied militants have once again cut off drinking water supplies to about a million people living in and around the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakah by stopping a border water pumping station, a report says.

In an interview with Syria’s official news agency, SANA on Sunday, Director General of Hasakah Water Company Mahmoud al-Ukla said that Turkish soldiers and Ankara-backed militants stopped Alouk Water Station on Saturday evening and barred workers of the station from entering the facility.

The major water station is located in the vicinity of the border town of Ra’s al-Ayn, which Turkish troops and their allied militants seized in October 2019 during the so-called Peace Spring Operation.

Ukla warned that the inhumane move was threatening the lives of inhabitants of the city and its surrounding residential neighborhoods in northeastern Hasakah province.

He added that the criminal act came as the people of the affected areas are in the utmost need for the water from the Alouk station, the only source for guaranteeing the drinking water for them.

The water station has so far been forced to stop several times by the invading Turkish troops and their allied militants.

Back in March, the Syrian foreign ministry sent two identical letters to the chief of the United Nations and the UN Security Council in protest against the repeated inhumane move. It noted at the time that the Turkish military forces shelled the water station during their cross-border military operation last October, putting it out of service.

Furthermore, Syrian officials, accordingly, presented a briefing to the UNSC in February, informing the international body of a water outage in Hasakah.

July 5, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Rewriting History and Rehabilitating George W. Bush

By Nat Parry · ESSENTIAL OPINION · June 25, 2020

The liberal rehabilitation of George W. Bush is now virtually complete, with his successor Barack Obama declaring this week that the 43rd president was committed to the rule of law, despite all evidence to the contrary. In an online fundraiser for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden Tuesday night, Obama stated that Bush “had a basic regard for the rule of law and the importance of our institutions of democracy.”

Obama, who ran for president in 2008 with promises to restore habeas corpus and uphold the rule of law, went on to claim that when Bush was president, “we cared about human rights” and were committed to “core principles around the rule of law and the universal dignity of people.”

Obama’s comments surely came as a shock to anyone who still has a functioning memory of the Bush years and hasn’t succumbed entirely to the effects of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Rather than being a champion of democratic principles, when Bush left office, he left behind a shameful legacy of upended human rights norms including due process and the legal prohibition against torture.

If 2008 Obama could speak today with 2020 Obama, he might remind himself that Bush had started a “dumb war” in Iraq in violation of the UN Charter, launched a warrantless surveillance program of Americans and that he had established a penal colony in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

As Obama himself said in 2013, during the Bush years, “we compromised our basic values – by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law.”

At the heart of Bush’s approach to the “rule of law” was the rejection of any independent court evaluation of its detentions. Without judicial review, the U.S. government didn’t need to present any evidence to show that a person actually had ties to al-Qaeda or was otherwise guilty of a crime. The Bush position also held that once designated as al-Qaeda members, individuals have no legal protections against torture.

He dismissed provisions of the Geneva Conventions as “quaint” and offered legal rationales that justify torture in cases of “military necessity.”

Bush’s approach to the “war on terror” was in fact a steady descent into the “dark side,” as Vice President Dick Cheney had called it. A subsequent Senate investigation found that the torture program instituted by the Bush administration following 9/11 employed gruesome techniques such as near drowning, forcing detainees to stand on broken legs, threatening to kill or rape detainees’ family members, forced “rectal feeding” and “rectal hydration.” It also offered disturbing details on a medieval “black site” prison in Afghanistan known as the Salt Pit, where at least one detainee froze to death.

The brutal interrogation sessions lasted in many cases non-stop for days or weeks at a time, leading to effects such as “hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation,” and produced little to no useful information. CIA agents had illegally detained 26 of the 119 individuals in CIA custody, and the interrogation techniques used on detainees went beyond the methods that had been approved by the Bush Justice Department or CIA’s headquarters (guidelines that were likely overly permissive in the first place).

When the Senate torture report was released in late 2014, it was met with calls for accountability from around the world. The United Nations, the European Union, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as numerous governments, all demanded that those responsible for the illegal torture program face justice. The U.S. was reminded that as a matter of international law, it was legally obligated to prosecute the perpetrators of the torture program.

Some of the strongest words came from the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism Ben Emmerson, who stated unequivocally that senior officials from the Bush administration who sanctioned crimes, as well as the CIA and U.S. government officials who carried them out, must be brought to justice. “It is now time to take action,” the UN rapporteur said.

Needless to say, no one was ever prosecuted by the Obama administration’s Justice Department. And now, Obama not only excuses these abuses, but he actually claims that Bush was committed to “the rule of law and the universal dignity of people.” A charitable explanation for Obama’s comments is that he was trying to draw a distinction between the Trump administration and every other president, and to draw this distinction, he made a clumsy attempt to draw an exaggerated contrast.

But considering that six in 10 Americans now have a favorable view of Bush, almost twice as much as the 33% who gave him a favorable mark when he left office in 2009, it should be appreciated how impressionable Americans are and how damaging comments such as Obama’s can be. Much of Bush’s ascent to popularity has come from Democrats, 54% of whom now approve of the Bush presidency. Democrats’ change of heart appears to be primarily motivated by Bush’s opposition to Trump, which apparently has absolved him of his many failings while president.

This historic shift in attitudes was abetted by many liberals who have helped refurbish Bush’s image, including daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

To hear Barack Obama now making the claim that Bush was committed to the rule of law and human rights is just the latest betrayal of a Democratic Party that has systematically prevented a reckoning for the crimes of the 43rd president, a party that is clearly uninterested in truth or accountability, and is more than willing to rewrite history to advance its political goals.

Only time will tell how America is affected in the long term by this rewriting of history.

June 29, 2020 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

UN Warns Many Will “Starve to Death” in Yemen as Saudi Fuel Blockade Hinders COVID-19 Battle

By Ahmed AbdulKareem | MintPress News | June 26, 2020

SANA’A, YEMEN —  The streets of Sana’a have retained much of their character throughout the past six years of war. This, despite the ever-present threat of Saudi bombardment and the myriad viruses methodically working their way through the population, most recently COVID-19. The afternoon rush hour still brings out the buses, taxis and private vehicles that choke Haddah Street in northern Sana’a. Horns blare at junctions as drivers switch lanes, looking for any advantage they can find in a ritual that, until recently, brought a sense of welcome normalcy to a country faced with constant uncertainty. But six years of war have finally caught up with one of the last semblances of routine in Yemen.

In move undertaken by Saudi Arabia that is sure to exacerbate the country’s already-dire situation, the oil-rich U.S. ally is preventing oil tankers from delivering much-needed fuel to Yemen’s hospitals, water pumps, bakeries, cleaning trucks, and gas stations, plunging it, particularly its northern districts, into an acute fuel crisis.

According to a statement released by the Yemen Oil Company, at least 15 tankers carrying over 419,789 tons of fuel have been trapped at sea for over a month despite being checked and issued permits by both the Saudi-led Coalition and the United Nations. Now, the situation in the war-torn country is no longer tolerable.

The CEO of Yemen Oil said in a press conference held in the front of the United Nation office in Sana’a on Wednesday that the company’s remaining reserves won’t last for more than a few days. A statement issued by the company’s branch in Hodeida confirmed that its reserve stock had reached a critical stage and is no longer sufficient to supply the most important sectors in the country.

“One of the biggest threats in the past 100 years”

This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has triggered a fuel crisis in Yemen, however, this blockade is significantly larger than previous ones and comes at a time when Yemen is battling COVID-19, which is spreading rapidly across the country. “It is the worse than what we expected to happen,” taxi driver Mohammed Abdullah Masoud said from beneath his mask, bags under his tired eyes. He had been waiting in line for two days for petrol. His older brother died last week from COVID-19 and he is now responsible for providing his brother’s wife and children with food and medicine as they stay quarantined at home. “My brother’s family needs bread and some vegetables. Nobody except me can provide them with essential necessities to stay alive. If I don’t have the fuel by the end of the day, something bad could happen to them.” he told MintPress.

The Saudi fuel blockade has not only forced thousands of Yemenis already struggling against an unprecedented explosion of famine, disease, and epidemics to wait for days in lines as far as the eye can see, it has also left water pumps, hospital generators, and transport vehicles without fuel and that lack of fuel has accelerated the spread of the COVID-19 as empty generators shut down facilities including an oxygen factory, hospital, nurseries, and a kidney failure center, all which need uninterrupted and stable electricity 24 hours a day.

Cholera, dengue fever, and malaria rates have also spiked, particularly in Hodeida, Sadaa, and Hajjah where summer temperatures can reach 129 degrees and the lack of fuel has left residents unable to escape the heat as the generators used to power air conditioners sit idle.

The price of food and medicine is also skyrocketing and the already negligible crops in Yemen are at risk of dehydration as farmers are unable to power the wells and pumps needed o to irrigate their fields. At least 80 percent of Yemen’s 28 million-strong population is reliant on food aid to survive in what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and the decimation of the remaining agricultural sector is likely to increase that figure.

On Wednesday, Mark Lowcock, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, told a closed UN Security Council meeting that many more people are likely to starve to death, succumb to COVID-19 and die of cholera, adding that the coronavirus was spreading rapidly across Yemen and about 25 percent of the country’s confirmed cases have died – “five times the global average.”

He added, “We have never before seen in Yemen a situation where such a severe acute domestic economic crisis overlaps with a sharp drop in remittances and major cuts to donor support for humanitarian aid – and this of course is all happening in the middle of a devastating pandemic.” For her part, UN Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande described COVID-19 in Yemen as “one of the biggest threats in the past 100 years.”

The Saudi blockade comes amid sustained Saudi-coalition bombing runs. Warplanes have been hovering over Sana’a and other provinces and have targeted several areas in Bydha, al-Jawf, Marib, and Sana’a, killing and injuring dozens of people. On Thursday, at least five people were killed and dozens were injured when Saudi warplanes destroyed four cars traveling on public roads in Radman and Qaneih.

The only effective option

Despite the challenges, Yemenis have strong morale and a seemingly unbreakable will to continue to withstand the Saudi ambitions for their country. “We die silently but with glory. We will never give in to Saudi Arabia,” 37-years-old Hamid told MintPress as he stood in a fuel line at a gas station in Sana’a. It has become a weekly ritual for Hamid, who queues in line for hours to get 30 liters of fuel every seven days. Hamid and the others waiting in line were gleefully checking their social media feeds and celebrating news reports that explosions were taking place in the Saudi capital following attacks bu the Houthi-led Yemeni Army.

In retaliation for the fuel embargo and the continued airstrikes on their country, the Houthi-led Yemeni army carried out large-scale attacks on a number of strategic sites in Saudi Arabia using a barrage of ballistic and winged missiles and drones which targeted the headquarters of the Saudi Defense Ministry and the General Intelligence Agency as well as King Salman Air Base, among other military targets in the capital Riyadh and the southern regions of Najran and Jizan. For many, retaliation against the Kingdom represents the only effective option to quell the Saudi attacks and blockade on their country.

Mohammed Abdulsalam, the spokesman and chief negotiator for Ansar Allah, the political wing of the Houthis, emphasized that the operation was aimed at restoring stability to the country and securing an end to the Saudi-led blockade. He said that Yemenis have no option but to confront and resist Saudi Arabia and urged international bodies to pressure the Saudi regime into ending the offensive.

The Saudi-led coalition has acknowledged the attacks but claims that the missiles and drones were intercepted and destroyed but provided no evidence to back that claim. Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki called the strike a “deliberate and systematic operation to target civilians and civilian objects,” adding later that the coalition had “ intercepted” eight bomb-laden drones and three ballistic missiles. A high-ranking Houthi official told MintPress that the raids did indeed hit their intended targets, adding the army used a new weapon in the attack that will be soon be revealed.

The United States and other countries, including France and Britain, condemned the attack on their Saudi ally. They have thus far remained silent on the recent Saudi attacks and fuel blockade on Yemen which preceded the attacks on Saudi Arabia. Yemenis have accused Western countries of abandoning their much-touted commitment to human rights ​​in exchange for Saudi arms deals. “We are killed by weapons belong[ing] to these countries, and get nothing from them except dirty statements that offend their [own] people,” a Yemeni tribal leader who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, told MintPress in response to the U.S. condemnation.

For their part, Ansar Allah censured statements condemning their retaliatory attacks. Abdulsalam said that “condemnations of our operations are no longer effective. They come within the framework of political courtesies and are in part funded by Saudi Arabia.” He insisted that Western countries should instead pressure the kingdom to stop the war. “The American administration practices the most heinous looting of Saudi money,” he added, “The statement of the American mission in Saudi Arabia following our operation is a kind of blackmail, nothing else.”

The Yemeni attacks are the tip of the iceberg as multiple high-ranking officials in the Houthi-backed Yemeni Army revealed to MintPress that they are preparing more attacks against targets in Saudi Arabia, including on oil facilities, royal palaces, military bases, airports, Saudi oil carriers, and other “sensitive targets” that they declined to mention. The consequences for Saudi Arabia will be dire until the blockade is lifted and the offensive comes to an end, they promise. “We should not let Saudi Arabia starve us and carry on enjoying stability and wealth.”

The Saud-led Coalition is heavily backed by Western countries, especially the United States, Britain, and Frace, which have used systematic economic strangulation as a weapon of war — targeting jobs, infrastructure, the agricultural sector, fuel and water pumping stations, factories, and the provision of basic services, as well as imposing a land, sea, and air embargo.

Meanwhile, as a direct result of the oil blockade, many Yemeni officials say that they are already seeking assistance from Iran, hoping that the Iranian government will come to their aid as they did in Venezuela, where six Iranian vessels carried fuel, food, and medicine to Caracas in defiance of U.S. sanctions. They asked Ansar Allah to work with Iran to circumvent the blockade and supply the vital facilities in the country with fuel. If such a move is carried out, Tehran will no doubt win the hearts and minds of Yemenis wary of any foreign intervention, all thanks to the Saudi-led coalition and the United States which in large part are carrying out the war with hopes to limit “Iranian influence” in Yemen.

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

June 26, 2020 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

‘Antisemitic conspiracy theory’ tweet sees Long-Bailey booted from UK Labour shadow cabinet

Israeli police officers detain Palestinian protestor outside the compound housing al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City March 12, 2019. © Reuters/Ammar Awad
RT | June 25, 2020

The UK Labour Party’s “antisemitism crisis” has claimed another victim, as shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey is fired for sharing an article containing a so-called “antisemitic conspiracy theory.”

“This afternoon Keir Starmer asked Rebecca Long-Bailey to step down from the shadow cabinet,” a spokesman for the Labour leader said, claiming that an article she shared earlier on Thursday contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

The statement went on to say that Starmer, who took over the party plagued with accusations of antisemitism, has been “clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority,” adding, “antisemitism takes many different forms and it is important that we all are vigilant against it.”

Long-Bailey shared an Independent interview with Maxine Peake on Twitter. In it, the actress says: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.” It was later updated to include a denial by the Israeli police that this is the case, and a reference to an Amnesty International report about US law enforcement travel to Israel for training was removed.

Long-Bailey shared an Independent interview with Maxine Peake on Twitter. In it, the actress says: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.” It was later updated to include a denial by the Israeli police that this is the case, and a reference to an Amnesty International report about US law enforcement travel to Israel for training was removed.

RT

Amnesty International has said that Israeli forces train US law enforcement and partake in police exchange programs. In the wake of Floyd’s murder a number of articles circulated, reporting that Minnesota cops received Israeli training in Chicago in 2012. Israeli soldiers have been photographed leaning on Palestinians’ chests and necks, although Israel Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld denies this is a tactic they use. It of course isn’t proven that the police officer who killed Floyd was taught how to lean on people’s necks by Israeli police.

Long-Bailey tweeted an explanation for her retweet, saying she shared the article because of Peake’s “significant achievements and because the thrust of her argument is to stay in the Labour Party. It wasn’t intended to be an endorsement of all aspects of the article.”

She later added that she agreed on the wording of her explanation with the Labour Party Leader’s Office, but was “subsequently instructed to take both this agreed clarification and my original retweet down.” She said she couldn’t do this without issuing a press statement of clarification and asked to discuss it with Starmer but “sadly he had already made his decision.”

The Jewish Board of Deputies among a number of other groups which called out Long-Bailey’s tweet. Before she was fired, it released a statement slamming the politician’s “pathetic” response to criticism of her tweet and questioning her “suitability” for her role.

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 3 Comments