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UK doubles arms deals with governments on its own rights blacklist: Report

Press TV – July 19, 2018

The UK has almost doubled its arms deals with governments that it has blacklisted as violators of human rights, figures show.

The government of British Prime Minister Theresa May approved some £1.5 billion in arms licenses in 2017, up from £820 million it did the year before, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) pressure group reported Wednesday.

The licenses allowed weapons sales to 18 countries on Home Office blacklist, which includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan and the Israeli regime.

Arms deals with Saudi Arabia, which has been running a deadly military aggression against Yemen since March 2015, accounted for £1.13 billion of the total amount, the group said.

The ruling Tory government is “actively arming and supporting many of the regimes that even it believes are responsible for terrible human rights abuses,” CAAT’s Andrew Smith told The Independent.

“There is little oversight in the system, and no controls over how these arms will be used once they have left the UK,” he added.

“The arms sales being agreed today could be used to fuel atrocities for years to come. Right now UK-made fighter jets and bombs are playing a central role in the Saudi-led destruction of Yemen, and the government and arms companies have totally failed to monitor or evaluate how this deadly equipment is being used.”

“These arms sales don’t just provide dictatorships and human rights abusers with the means to kill, they also give them a huge degree of political support,” Andrews continued.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015 to reinstall its former Riyadh-allied government. The military aggression has so far killed over 13,600 Yemenis.

The UK has increased its weapons sales by around 500 percent since the onset of the Saudi invasion, according to a report by The Independent. The UK has, so far, sold more than £6 billion worth of arms to the kingdom.

Israel second largest blacklisted buyer

With a total of £221 million of licenses granted, Israel was the second-biggest purchaser of UK arms last year to be featured on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) human rights priority list.

In its latest version of the watch list, published this week, the FCO blasted Israel for violating the international law during its ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands in the West Bank, East Jerusalem al-Quds and Gaza.

It also slammed the Tel Aviv regime’s “systematic policy of settlement expansion,” despite constant calls by the UN, the European Union and many other international organizations to end them.

Bahrain became the third largest buyer on the list, acquiring £30.7 million of British arms in 2017, while Egypt imported £6.5 million and Pakistan, £11.2 million.

CAAT’s figures came amid efforts by British members of Parliament sitting on the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC) to reform the UK’s arms export regime and stop arms sales to blacklisted governments.

In its latest report, the committee called on cabinet ministers to consider imposing a “presumption of denial” when weighing arms sales applications for such countries.

“We believe there must always be a more stringent process in place for any arms exports to such countries,” read the report.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkish journalist acquitted over exposing Ankara’s arms aid to Syria militants

Erdem Gul, Ankara bureau chief of Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet (Photo: Hurriyet Daily News )
Press TV – July 16, 2018

A court in Turkey has acquitted a journalist of the center-left and opposition daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, who was being tried for espionage in a case about revealing state secrets by publishing footage of a video showing weapons shipment to pockets of Syria held by foreign-backed terrorists.

On Monday, Istanbul’s 14th Heavy Penal Court dropped charges against Erdem Gul, who used to serve as the paper’s Ankara representative.

In May 2016, the 14th High Criminal Court in Istanbul convicted former editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet daily Can Dundar and Gul following the publication of the video.

The two defendants were arrested and held in prison until Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that their rights had been violated and ordered their release.

Earlier this year, Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals overturned the Istanbul court’s previous ruling on the case, and ordered Gul’s acquittal over lack of evidence.

Back in May 2015, Cumhuriyet daily posted on its website footage showing Turkish security forces in early 2014 intercepting a convoy of trucks carrying arms for the militants in Syria.

The paper said the trucks were carrying some 1,000 mortar shells, hundreds of grenade launchers and more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition for light and heavy weapons.

A screen grab from a video published on the website of Cumhuriyet daily on May 29, 2015 shows mortar shells in boxes intercepted on a truck destined for Syria.

Ankara denied the allegation and claimed that the trucks had been carrying humanitarian aid to Syria. However, lawmaker from the opposition Republican People’s Party Enis Berberoglu defended the video, saying it was genuine.

Turkey stands accused of supporting militant groups fighting to topple the Damascus government since March 2011.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

Russia has been helping Syrian forces in an ongoing battle in the province of Dayr al-Zawr as Daesh struggles to keep its last positions in eastern Syria.

The Russian military assistance, which began in September 2015 at the official request of the Syrian government, has proved effective as the Syrians continue to recapture key areas from Daesh and other terrorist groups across the country with the backing of Russia’s air cover.

On May 21, the General Command of the Syrian Army and Armed Forces announced in a statement that complete security was restored to Damascus and its countryside after al-Hajar al-Aswad district and al-Yarmouk camp had been totally purged of Daesh terrorists.

The development was preceded by flushing the Takfiris out of the towns of Yalda, Babbila and Beit Sahem on the southern outskirts of Damascus.

July 17, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

UK drone personnel could be liable for war crimes

MEMO | July 17, 2018

A two-year probe by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on drones claims that British military personnel could be prosecuted for murder and complicit in alleged war crimes, a report launched today reveals.

The inquiry – ‘The UK’s use of Armed Drones: Working with Partners’ – received 17 written evidence submissions and conducted six oral evidence sessions by experts in the field. Some 19 recommendations were put forward to “guarantee a solid foundation for UK drone policy and operations moving forward”.

The inquiry called upon the British government to immediately publish its “targeted killing” policy, just as the United States and Israel have done previously, but more importantly to establish “an independent scrutiny mechanism responsible to Parliament in the event that any UK drone (armed or unarmed) is used in an operation where lethal force is employed,” the report said.

Currently, all drone strikes involving civilian casualties and cases where British nationals have been killed go without any transparency or accountability.

The report raises concern that the ongoing uncertainty about government policy may leave front-line British personnel in considerable doubt about whether what they are being asked to do is lawful, therefore exposing them to the risk of criminal prosecution for murder or complicity in murder.

The UK’s military engagement in Syria and Iraq since 2014 against Daesh “raised some serious questions about the legality, efficacy, and strategic coherence” of the British targeted killing programme. “The APPG argues that there is a political and ethical imperative for the government to review and clarify its procedures for using drones and all the multi-national systems that back them up, lest ambiguities in the current position leave the UK dangerously exposed to legal challenges arising either from its own direct use of drones, or effective complicity in their use by others”, the report said.

Parliament’s concerns about the legality of the drone programme began in 2015, when a British drone targeted two British nationals, Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin. The killings took place in Syria, at a time when military action was not mandated by the British Parliament. Rights Watch UK, a British human rights organisation working for a just and accountable security, requested the disclosure of the legal basis for targeting British citizens abroad.

Top secret documents attained by the American news website, The Intercept, revealed that Menwith Hill Station, based in North Yorkshire in England, is being used to track and pass on intelligence information to the United States for drone strikes. Complicity in US drone strikes has raised questions over unlawful killings.

The UK is working with partners around the globe, sharing intelligence and collaborating on operational missions. Middle Eastern states are also involved in the killing programme, including Qatar.

July 17, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | | 2 Comments

Kurdish Fighters Selling US-Supplied Weapons on Black Market – Reports

Sputnik – 15.07.2018

Just as Washington has ramped up its support for Kurdish units in Syria, the fighters are selling their US-made weapons on the black market to make up for their expenses, the Arabic-language Daily Sabah reported, citing local sources in Northern Syria.

In keeping with an agreement between the US and Turkey, the Kurdish forces are to withdraw from Manbij and other areas west of the Euphrates River and surrender their weapons to the UN before the end of this year.

According to the sources, the Kurdish fighters fear that once they have handed over their weapons, Turkey might launch a new military operation against them in Northern Syria.

“Hence, they are selling the weapons to other militant groups that operate in the same region,” they added.

The US has delivered light and heavy weapons on a large number of trucks to the Kurdish forces in northern Syria under the pretext of fighting Daesh, Fars News reported.

Earlier this month, the US dispatched a new 200-truck military convoy to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Hasaka province in Northern Syria.

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily quoted local sources as saying that the US-led coalition had sent several personnel carriers and armored vehicles from Iraq to the Kurdish units stationed in Northeastern Hasaka.

The US looks upon the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as an ally in Syria and a constituent part of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has allegedly been trained, equipped and monitored by the Americans.

In December 2017, President Donald Trump approved providing $393 million worth of weapons to what Washington calls partners in Syria, including the YPG. Shortly thereafter, the US announced its intention to set up an all-Kurdish battalion comprising about 30,000 people, which was supposed to be deployed along the Turkish border.

Washington’s move was condemned by Turkey which launched a military operation in January aimed at ousting SDF forces from areas in northern Syria near the Turkish border.

July 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Dr. Mohammad Marandi: Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE Have Been Cooperating Closely for Many Decades Now

American Herald Tribune | July 13, 2018

Mohsen Abdelmoumen: What is the immediate impact on the Iranian people of the Trump administration’s exit from the Iran nuclear deal?

Dr. Mohammad Marandi: Obviously, it is going to have a short term negative impact. People are concerned about the effect it will have on the economy and Iranian currency has dropped significantly. However, I believe that in the midterm the economy will stabilize, and as Iran reorientates its economy, trading partners and strategic partnerships things will stabilize. In the long term, I think Iran will probably even benefit because the US will no longer have any leverage that it can use against the country and its people.

Are not the economic sanctions imposed by the Trump administration intended to provoke disturbances within the Iranian population in order to change the power in Iran?

Without a doubt. Actually, just recently in a speech in France to the MEK terrorist organization, a cult group which has killed 17 thousand Iranians through assassinations and bomb attacks and has also fought for Saddam Hussein, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer and close friend, admitted that the disturbances in Iran are not spontaneous and that they are carried out by their people. That does not mean there are no ordinary people who protest here and there, but the foreign role is obvious and we can see it through the western, Israeli, and Saudi, funded Persian media outlets like BBC Persian and VOA among others that attempt to create tensions and fear among Iranians.

Do you think there is a special program to assassinate Iranian scientists as was the case with Iraqi scientists where some sources have spoken of the existence of a special CIA unit responsible for assassinating scientists?

I have no idea about that, but we do know that Mohammad bin Salman has said in public that he wants to take the war into Iran and after that we saw the terrorist attacks on Tehran and an increased number of attacks alongside the Pakistani-Iranian border as well as the border between Iran and Iraq Kurdistan.

What is the exact role of the Zionist entity of Israel and its services in the assassination of Iranian scientists?

Israeli intelligence and the MEK terrorist organization worked together in this regard. In addition, Western intelligence agencies have in the past passed on IAEA information on Iranian scientists to the Israelis thus helping them carry out a number of murders.

What do you think of the alliance between the Saudis and the Israelis? In your opinion, is it tactical or strategic?

The alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE among others is not new at all. They have been cooperating closely for many decades now, but these Arab regimes have always been afraid to make this alliance public. However, Trump is putting a lot of pressure on these regimes to come out of the closet, especially because he wants to impose his so called deal of the century on the Palestinian people in order to destroy the Palestinian nation.

In your opinion, can Europe play a role in maintaining the nuclear agreement?

It’s possible. However, I am skeptical about the EU’s intentions and I am even more skeptical about their ability to grow a backbone in face of persistent American violations of their sovereignty and threats against their businesses and citizens.

In your opinion, why is it that Israel that massacres the Palestinian people has never been subjected to sanctions?

I think it is widely known that the Israeli regime is allowed to implement apartheid policies, carry out ethnic cleansing and colonization, the bombing of neighboring countries, the killing of civilians, the arrest children, and the confiscation of land.Western countries will give them blanket support no matter what the regime does.

What is your analysis of the situation in Syria? Can we say that Daesh is defeated definitively or is it moving towards reorganization?

The extremist groups including Daesh that were supported by western intelligence services and regional client regimes have been severely weakened and the Syrian Arab army and government have gained the upper hand. But the war is not over, al-Qaeda and other extremist groups continue to get foreign support and Western countries and media outlets have been trying to give cover to these extremist groups by calling them “moderates” and “rebels”, whereas in reality their ideologies are very similar to ISIS.

What do you think of the position of Morocco that has just cut off its relations with Iran by accusing Hezbollah of having armed the Polisario Front? Don’t you think that this maneuver bears the signature of the Saudis, Israelis and Americans?

I think it is quite clear especially taking into account the timing of the accusations that the Saudis and probably countries like the US and the UAE are behind this. But I do not have any specific information.

Why do you think Westerners are silent, both the media and the political institutions, in the face of the carnage that Saudi Arabia is committing in Yemen?

It is because of Saudi oil wealth, and because the destruction of Yemen is in the interest of the Saudi and Israeli regimes. Therefore, Western governments and western media outlets will not do anything meaningful to prevent the massacres or starvation. This is just one example of many. They did the same thing in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, and Afghanistan.

Interview realized by Mohsen Abdelmoumen

Who is Dr. Mohammad Marandi?

Born in 1966 in Richmond, Virginia, Mohammad Marandi is the son of Professor Alireza Marandi, a former Iranian Minister of Health and a former member of the Iranian Parliament. Mohammad Marandi lived until he was 13 in the United States before joining Iran. He is a political analyst and expert on American studies and postcolonial literature. Dr. Marandi is a graduate of the University of Tehran and the University of Birmingham where he received a PhD in English Literature. He teaches English Literature and Orientalism at the University of Tehran where he is head of the graduate program in North American Studies.

July 14, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos

By Aidan O’Brien | CounterPunch |July 13, 2018

Ireland’s oldest university – Trinity College Dublin – gave Hillary Clinton an honorary doctorate in late June. It was one big love in. Clinton was paraded and praised like a people’s champion. And in return Clinton fawned over Dublin’s cutting edge liberal politics.

A Trinity College professor orated about Clinton: “Almost sixty-six million people have given her their vote of confidence, sharing her belief that a true democracy is a society in which everyone is equally valued as a human being.”

And Clinton’s response: “These last few years in Ireland have been a testament to the power of young people to shape the future – from the 2015 marriage equality referendum, which saw historic youth turnout, to this year’s abortion referendum…. No demographic is better positioned to be a force on the side of democracy, progress and equality.”

Behind these delusions, platitudes and lies there is a logic. A disturbing one – one that actually built Trinity College Dublin way back in 1592. And one that sustains the same College today in 2018. It sustains Clinton too. It’s the logic of imperialism. And the shameless culture of empire worship that goes with it.

Hillary Clinton personifies the last thirty years of US imperialism. And so by honoring her, Trinity College honors three decades of US savagery across the planet. Firstly, during Hillary’s “reign”, there were the wars which the US orchestrated – for example, in Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen. And secondly, there’s the neoliberal wars against the global working class which Bill and Hillary Clinton have sold nonstop – from NAFTA (1994) to the repeal of Glass-Steagall (1999) and onto the bailout of the banks (2008 – to the present). The resulting social chaos across the world is a testament to Hillary Clinton’s politics. She more than Donald Trump is the face of the corrupt American Empire.

Her contempt for America, democracy and the world is no secret. The Podesta emails (released by WikiLeaks in 2016) – for example – reveal a two faced politician: a Wall Street Clinton and a Main Street Clinton. For $225,000 a speech Clinton tells the banksters the truth. And for votes she tells the American people fairytales. In her own words: “But if everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position.”

Referring to the Podesta emails in October 2016, the New York Times noted that: “Mrs. Clinton describes herself as “far removed” from average Americans and their finances.” The reason? “The Clintons have made more than $120 million in speeches to Wall Street and special interests since Bill Clinton left the White House in 2001.” These facts sum up the deep politics of Clinton. To say the least, she represents America’s 1%.

And so she had no problem dismissing half of America’s 99% as “a basket of deplorables”. And no problem either conspiring against the other half of America’s 99% – those who vote Democrat. In November, 2017 CNN reported: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren [Massachusetts] said she believes that the Democratic National Committee [DNC] was “rigged” in favor of former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primary. Asked…… by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether she believes that the Democratic campaign organization was tipped in favor of Clinton over her primary opponent, independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Warren responded without hesitation: “Yes.””

Because Clinton’s political machine had all the corporate money – she or her handlers got to pick the members of the DNC. Therefore in key Democratic primaries the superdelegates, which decided the vote, were her puppets. Such are Clinton’s democratic credentials.

Clinton’s real heart of darkness, however, is found in the bowels of US foreign policy. The key to understanding Hillary Clinton’s view of the world and humanity is Madeleine Albright (Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State). And the key to understanding Albright’s dark heart is her infamous words on CBS television in 1996. Asked about the death of 500,000 children – caused by the US / UK sanctions against Iraq – Madeleine Albright said that “we think the price is worth it”.

This barbaric sentiment reflects the soul of Hillary Clinton’s Weltanschauung because it was Hillary who prompted Bill Clinton to appoint Madeleine Albright as Secretary of State. Hillary clearly identified herself with Albright’s take on the world. Writing in popsugar.com in 2016, Lisette Mejia quotes Albright as saying: “I would not have been secretary of state if it had not been for Hillary Clinton….. She would go to [Bill] and say,…. ’Why wouldn’t you name Madeleine? She is more in tune with your views than anyone else and she expresses them better than anyone else.”

The fact that Hillary Clinton tried to quickly follow in the footsteps of Bill Clinton (she twice attempted to be the US President  – in 2008 and 2016), indeed suggests that Madeleine Albright was “more in tune with [her own] views than anyone else”. And expressed “them better than anyone else”. And the fact that Hillary actually ended up following in the footsteps of Albright in the US Department of State (she was Obama’s first Secretary of State, 2009-13), points to a startling parallel between these two female imperialists. One that eerily manifested itself in another blunt barbaric remark caught on camera. When asked in a 2011 television interview to comment on the murder of Muammar al-Gaddafi (and indirectly on the murder of Libya – a clear case of genocide), Hillary casually said “we came, we saw, he [and Libya] died”. And then she laughed.

No one has expressed the horrors of US imperialism in the last three decades better than Hillary Clinton (in one guise or the other). And no one has supported them more than Hillary Clinton.

So why did Trinity College Dublin celebrate her? Firstly: as Edward Said wrote in a 2003 preface to his book Orientalism (1978), “there always is a chorus of willing intellectuals to say calming words about benign or altruistic empires, as if one shouldn’t trust the evidence of one’s eyes watching the destruction and misery and death brought by the latest mission civilizatrice.” Trinity College Dublin is the embodiment of this chorus.

And secondly: Trinity College Dublin was built in 1592 by the first queen of chaos (Britain’s Queen Elizabeth I), so it only makes sense that it celebrates the latest queen of chaos – Hillary Clinton (the image is Diana Johnstone’s). The chaos theory of Empire is in the DNA of Ireland’s model university. Trinity College might reject the chaos of revolution (a statue of Edmund Burke – the critic of the French Revolution – guards the entrance of the university), but it has always defended the chaos of imperialism.

When Britain’s Tudor Queen built Trinity College in Dublin – the Irish were like the Iraqis and Libyans of today. They were fair game, thrash, expendable, a price worth paying and a laugh. And Trinity College rationalized it for the imperialists. That was it’s raison d’être.

Edward Said explains, in his book Culture And Imperialism (1993), the Irish situation back then as follows: “In Ireland, [Angus] Calder says, the idea of murdering Gaels was from the start ‘as part of a royal army or with royal approval, [considered] patriotic, heroic and just.’ The idea of English racial superiority became ingrained; so humane a poet and gentleman as Edmund Spenser in his View of the Present State of Ireland (1596) was boldly proposing that since the Irish were barbarian Scythians, most of them should be exterminated.”

The idea of Irish inferiority and the inferiority of colonized people’s everywhere ‘became ingrained’ in places like Trinity College Dublin. How else could the Empire have survived?

Today the American establishment continues what the British establishment started way back in the 16th century. And so places like Trinity College Dublin continue to dress up barbarism in the clothes of civilization – yesterday they did it for Britain, today for America. As Noam Chomsky has insinuated so often – the general rule is that intellectuals lie for a living. Ireland’s intellectual-class have just proved the point.

Aidan O’Brien lives in Dublin, Ireland.

July 13, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Conspiracy of Silence: Israeli Government Still Covering Up Historic Atrocities

Sputnik – July 12, 2018

In 1948, just prior to the foundation of Israel, six Polish Christians were executed without trial in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem by the fledgling country’s Jewish army, the Haganah. An investigative analysis on the killings – dubbed the Riftin Report – was compiled for future Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, but has never been made public until now.

Official refusal to disclose the document comes despite fervid recommendations by chief Israeli state archivist Dr. Yaacov Lozowick, and the campaigning of the investigative Akevot Institute.

According to Israeli official secrecy laws, the report should’ve been made accessible to the public in 1998 — however, state archivists argued it should remain classified. Dr. Lozowick sought to reverse this decision in 2014, but his recommendation was opposed by Ilana Alon, Director of the Israeli Defense Force and Defense Establishment Archives.

Lozowick’s case for declassification is available via various web resources. In it, he made clear there was “no justification” for refusing to publish the report after so many years had elapsed, and doing so demonstrated “the state has something to hide”.

“If after the passage of more than half a century the state is still concealing certain files from the public, it’s only because they contain particularly dark secrets — that is what the reasonable individual understands. A democratic society is obliged to allow a free discussion of its wars. The discussion is a guarantee of democratic resilience. This file perhaps contains material for such a discussion, but that is a reason to open it, not close it,” he explained.

The state archivist’s impassioned plea was nonetheless ignored, and the government committee overseeing the release of classified files blocked its publication for a further five years on unarticulated grounds — however, ministers did not restrict citizens from viewing the report ‘in-the-flesh’ at the Israeli archives. As a result, Akevot Institute researchers located and digitized a copy of the Riftin Report stored at the Yad Tabenkin Archives and prepared to publish it on their website, submitting its version to the Israeli Military Censor for review in November 2017. Several months later, they received a response.

“After Akevot issued a letter demanding the Censor give its decision within seven days, Akevot was provided with a copy of the report with each of the pages circled and stamped with the word “on hold”, in other words, barred from publication pending the final decision of the Military Censorship [committee]. Despite several reminders, for the past eight months, the [committee] has yet to provide a decision whether to allow the publication of this March 1948 document,” the group writes.

For the organization, the Riftin Report saga is a palpable microcosm of the wider issue of Israeli government determination to suppress archival material implicating the state in atrocities carried out against civilians when the country was in its infancy. For instance, the Military Court of Appeals is currently reviewing a historian’s request to declassify files relating to the 1956 Kafr Qasim massacre — an application steadfastly opposed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israeli Military Censor, and IDF Information Security Department. Authorities likewise repeatedly blocked attempts to declassify files related to the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre, although ultimately settled for publishing heavily redacted versions due to public pressure. … continue

July 12, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

Israel is bulldozing Khan Al Ahmar – and with it the two-state solution

By Jonathon Cook | The National | July 8, 2018

Israel finally built an access road to the West Bank village of Khan Al Ahmar last week, after half a century of delays. But Israel only allows vehicles like the bulldozers scheduled to sweep away its 200 inhabitants’ homes.

If one community has come to symbolize the demise of the two-state solution, it is Khan Al Ahmar.

It was for that reason that a posse of European diplomats left their air-conditioned offices late last week to trudge through the hot, dusty hills outside Jerusalem and witness the preparations for the village’s destruction. That included the Israeli police beating residents and supporters as they tried to block the advance of heavy machinery.

Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain submitted a formal protest. Their denunciations echoed those of more than 70 Democratic lawmakers in Washington in May – a rare example of US politicians showing solidarity with Palestinians.

It would be gratifying to believe that Western governments care about the inhabitants of Khan Al Ahmar – or the thousands of other Palestinians who are being incrementally cleansed by Israel from nearby lands but whose plight has drawn far less attention.

After all, the razing of Khan Al Ahmar and the forcible transfer of its population are war crimes.

But in truth, Western politicians are more concerned about propping up the illusion of a peace process that expired many years ago, than the long-running abuse of Palestinians under Israeli occupation.

Israeli soldier confronts villager in Khan al-Ahmar. (Photo by Mazin Qumsiyeh)

Western capitals understand what is at stake. Israel wants Khan Al Ahmar gone so that Jewish settlements can be built in its place, on land it has designated as “E1”.

That would put the final piece in place for Israel to build a substantial bloc of new settler homes to sever the West Bank in two. Those same settlements would also seal off West Bank Palestinians from East Jerusalem, the expected capital of a future Palestinian state, making a mockery of any peace agreement.

The erasure of Khan Al Ahmar has not arrived out of nowhere. Israel has trampled on international law for decades, conducting a form of creeping annexation that has provoked little more than uncomfortable shifting in chairs from Western politicians.

Khan Al Ahmar’s Bedouin inhabitants, from the Jahalin tribe, have been ethnically cleansed twice before by Israel, but these war crimes went unnoticed.

The first time was in the 1950s, a few years after Israel’s creation, when 80 per cent of Palestinians had been driven from their homes to make way for a Jewish state.

Although they should have enjoyed the protection of Israeli citizenship, the Jahalin were forced out of the Negev and into the West Bank, then controlled by Jordan, to make way for new Jewish immigrants.

A generation later in 1967, when they had barely re-established themselves, the Jahalin were again under attack from Israeli soldiers occupying the West Bank. The grazing lands the Jahalin had relocated to with their goats and sheep were seized to build a settlement for Jews only, Kfar Adumim, in violation of the laws of war.

Ever since, the Jahalin have dwelt in a twilight zone of Israeli-defined “illegality”. Like other Palestinians in the 60 per cent of the West Bank under Israeli control, they have been denied building permits, forcing three generations to live in tin shacks and tents.

‘Leaving the Desert in Death’

Israel has also refused to connect the village to the water, electricity and sewage grids, in an attempt to make life so unbearable the Jahalin would opt to leave.

When an Italian charity helped in 2009 to establish Khan Al Ahmar’s first school – made from mud and tyres – Israel stepped up its legal battle to demolish the village.

Now, the Jahalin are about to be driven from their lands again. This time they are to be forcibly re-settled next to a waste dump by the Palestinian town of Abu Dis, hemmed in on all sides by Israeli walls and settlements.

In the new location they will be forced to abandon their pastoral way of life. As resident Ibrahim Abu Dawoud observed: “For us, leaving the desert is death.”

In another indication of the Palestinians’ dire predicament, the Trump administration is expected to propose in its long-awaited peace plan that the slum-like Abu Dis, rather than East Jerusalem, serve as the capital of a future pseudo-Palestinian state – if Israel ever chooses to recognise one.

Khan Al Ahmar’s destruction would be the first demolition of a complete Palestinian community since the 1990s, when Israel ostensibly committed to the Oslo peace process.

Now emboldened by Washington’s unstinting support, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is racing ahead to realise its vision of a Greater Israel. It wants to annex the lands on which villages like Khan Al Ahmar stand and remove their Palestinian populations.

There is a minor hurdle. Last Thursday, the Israeli supreme court tried to calm the storm clouds gathering in Europe by issuing a temporary injunction on the demolition works.

‘Short-Lived Reprieve’

The reprieve is likely to be short-lived. A few weeks ago the same court – in a panel dominated by judges identified with the settler movement – backed Khan Al Ahmar’s destruction.

The Supreme Court has also been moving towards accepting the Israeli government’s argument that decades of land grabs by settlers should be retroactively sanctioned – even though they violate Israeli and international law – if carried out in “good faith”.

Whatever the judges believe, there is nothing “good faith” about the behaviour of either the settlers, or Israel’s government towards communities like Khan Al Ahmar.

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ veteran peace negotiator, recently warned that Israel and the US were close to “liquidating” the project of Palestinian statehood.

Sounding more desperate than usual, the Europe Union reaffirmed this month its commitment to a two-state solution, while urging that the “obstacles” to its realisation be more clearly identifed.

The elephant in the room is Israel itself – and its enduring bad faith. As Khan Al Ahmar demonstrates all too clearly, there will be no end to the slow-motion erasure of Palestinian communities until western governments find the nerve to impose biting sanctions on Israel.

July 9, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | 3 Comments

Israel to attack Syrian forces if they move into border zone: Israeli minister

Press TV – July 5, 2018

An Israeli minister has warned Syria that Israel could strike Syrian government troops if they are stationed in a border zone subjected to a UN demilitarization agreement, a few days after Tel Aviv announced that it had beefed up its military presence in the occupied Golan Heights near the Syrian border.

“We must verify and do everything to clarify vis-a-vis the Russians and [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad’s government, that we will not accept any armed presence by the Assad regime in the areas which are meant to be demilitarized,” said Gilad Erdan, the regime’s public security minister, in an interview with the Israeli news website Ynet on Thursday.

In 1967, the Israeli regime waged a full-scale war against Arab territories, including those of Syria, occupied a large swathe of Syria’s Golan Heights and annexed it four years later, a move never recognized by the international community.

In 1973, another war, known as the Arab-Israeli War or the Yom Kippur War, broke out between the Israeli regime and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria. A year later, a United Nations-brokered ceasefire came into force, according to which the Israeli regime and the Syrian government agreed to separate their troops, and create a buffer zone patrolled by the UN Disengagement and Observer Force (UNDOF).

Erdan’s comments came as Syrian government troops have managed to liberate a string of towns and villages in the southern and southwestern regions of the country from the clutches of militant outfits in recent weeks.

Syria, which has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011, has said that the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies have been aiding Takfiri terrorist groups.

The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which once held large swathes of land in Syria, is no longer in control of any urban center. Following its crushing defeat against Syrian government forces late last year, the terror outfit is only active through its remnants, sparsely based in some rural areas. Other Takfiri groups are either significantly weakened or increasingly losing ground to advancing government troops.

The Syrian government also strongly seeks to take back its share of the mountainous plateau of the Golan Heights from the Israeli regime.

When asked if the Israeli regime was prepared to take military action against the Syrian army, Erdan said: “Unequivocally, yes,” citing Israeli air strikes conducted in recent months against positions held by the Syrian troops.

Back on May 10, Israel conducted what it called its most intensive airstrikes on Syria in decades. According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, Israel had used 28 warplanes in its airstrikes on Syria and fired 70 missiles. Both Damascus and Moscow said that the Syrian army managed to shoot down over half of the missiles.

The Tel Aviv regime, at the time, claimed that its assault was in response to a barrage of 20 rockets fired from Syria at Israeli military outposts in Golan.

Over the past few years, Israel has frequently attacked military targets in Syria in what is considered an attempt to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces. It has also been providing weapons to anti-Damascus militants as well as medical treatment to Takfiri elements wounded in Syria.

“Here, too, if there is a violation, and certainly in the southern Syrian region which is close to” the Israeli settlements, “and a bringing of weaponry that should not be there, Israel will take action,” Erdan added.

Late last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, alluding to the so-called truce, told the Israeli cabinet that “we will demand strict adherence to the 1974 disengagement deals with the Syrian army.” He also said that he was in constant contact with Washington and Moscow on the matter.

In a Sunday statement, the Israeli military said that it had deployed artillery and armored reinforcements to the occupied mountainous plateau, saying the move was the result of a situation assessment “in light of developments on the Syrian Golan Heights.”

July 6, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

NED Pursues Regime Change by Playing the Long Game

By Edward Hunt | Lobe Log | July 3, 2018

During a recent congressional hearing, the heads of three influential non-profit organizations that operate in numerous countries around the world revealed the subtle ways in which the United States meddles in the internal affairs of other countries by playing what the officials called “the long game.”

The three officials—Carl Gershman, Daniel Twining, and Kenneth Wollack—told Congress about their long-term efforts to empower the opponents of U.S. enemies and boasted about their ability to change foreign governments. They said that they had recently helped their political allies gain political power in Malaysia, acknowledged that they have helped train thousands of activists in Nicaragua, and speculated about the potential to create new governments in China, Russia, and North Korea.

All three men strongly defended their activities, insisting that they are critically important to the advancement of democracy in the world.

“We’re not asking people to do anything that they don’t want to do,” Gershman said. “We’re supporting their own aspirations and giving them some of the tools to realize those aspirations.”

Gershman is the president of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a U.S. taxpayer-funded nonprofit created by the U.S. government in 1983. As the president of NED, Gershman oversees the issuance of grants to its political-party-associated organizations, including the International Republican Institute (IRI), which is headed by Twining, and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), which is headed by Wollack.

Facing skepticism about their work from the Trump administration, which views the organizations as unnecessary expenses and wants to cut their funding, Gershman and his colleagues provided Congress with a broad overview of how their work affects the world. They defended their ongoing operations, trying to persuade Congress that they should continue to receive funding.

Ultimately, the three officials revealed how they are helping the U.S. government interfere in numerous countries around the world.

The NED Approach

The general strategy of NED is to empower like-minded activists to build new political movements in their home countries. NED helps these activists become influential political actors, often with the goal of creating new possibilities for political change.

Officials typically describe their approach as one of “democracy promotion.” They argue that they are helping democratic forces introduce democratic politics into countries ruled by authoritarian leaders.

“These leaders, their strategic Achilles heel is fear of their own publics,” Twining explained. “And I think we should think about the old Reagan message of exploiting that a little bit.”

The strategy requires a long-term commitment in the countries where the NED is active. Twining calls it “playing the long game.” Gershman calls it “long-term work.”

The officials discussed numerous examples. Twining said that IRI has been working with opposition forces in Malaysia since 2002. He credited IRI with helping opposition forces prevail in the country’s recent parliamentary elections, calling the victory “an example of playing the long game.”

U.S.-backed opposition forces are “now in-charge of this very strategic country right there on the frontlines of the South China Sea, right there on the frontlines of the Islamic world’s intersection with rest of Asia,” Twining said. “And that’s good for America.”

The NED has also been active in Nicaragua, where opposition forces are organizing major protests against the Nicaraguan government. The protesters are trying to bring down the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, a popular leftist leader who has been in power since 2007.

“We have been working on youth leadership programs and have worked with more than 8,000 youth on a very extensive coursework and academies to develop U.S. engagement,” Wollack said.

Although Wollack denied that the organizations are training their grantees for the purpose of overthrowing Ortega, Gershman indicated that regime change is the ultimate goal. “Time for him to go,” Gershman said, referring to Ortega.

The three officials also cited many additional opportunities to influence governments around the world. They are especially excited about opportunities in Armenia, where a major social movement recently ousted a government backed by Russia.

Twining speculated about the possibility of achieving regime change in Russia, calling Putin a “very brittle” leader who is “frankly quite insecure.”

Gershman saw potential for a similar outcome in North Korea. “This is an eroding totalitarian system, so we shouldn’t give up hope on the possibilities for internal change,” he said.

Gershman believes that the primary focus should be on China, however. He called China “the most serious threat our country faces today.”

Although Gershman said that the U.S. government will initially respond to challenges from China with a mix of military, economic, and geostrategic power, he insisted that the long-term solution could be found in the “unhappy people” who oppose the Chinese government.

“We have to not give up on the possibility for democratic change in China and keep finding ways to support them,” he said.

The Controversy in Washington

The open talk of U.S. meddling in other countries around the world was so commonplace that the U.S. mass media spent no time covering the hearing, even though the speakers did encounter some pushback. Not all members of Congress are on board with the programs.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) made the strongest critique, insisting that U.S. meddling destabilizes countries while creating more problems for the United States in the long run. Rohrabacher blamed recent U.S. meddling for destabilizing Ukraine. He argued that the U.S. involvement in national protests that led to the downfall of the government of Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 prompted the subsequent Russian invasion of the country and the war that continues there today.

“I don’t believe the Russians would have invaded Ukraine had we not arrogantly involved ourselves to overthrow that democratically elected government in Ukraine,” Rohrabacher said.

Rohrabacher also insisted that the U.S. should support dictators. He singled out Egypt, saying that the country should continue to be ruled by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the military dictator who gained power by overthrowing the country’s first democratically elected government in 2013.

“I know I am making everybody mad at me, but I had to say it,” Rohrabacher commented.

Faced with Rohrabacher’s criticisms, the remaining participants in the hearing made some effort to counter his arguments but otherwise said very little, preferring instead to blandly praise NED for performing admirable work by promoting democracy around the world.

The general feeling in Congress is that the U.S. government should continue to fund the work of the NED and its affiliated institutes. Most members of Congress view the organizations as important assets in the U.S. government’s toolkit, believing they play an important role in U.S. global strategy.

Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) unabashedly praised NED, IRI, and NDI, calling their work “exciting.” He told the three officials that “nothing does America prouder than the work frankly you’re doing.”

July 6, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Khan al-Ahmar: tragedy and outrage

Khan al-Ahmar: tragedy and outrage

Residents and activists sit inside a bulldozer shovel in order to stop the demolition of Bedouin village Khan al Ahmar.
By Kathryn Shihadah | If Americans Knew | July 5, 2018

After years of threats and court battles, push has come to shove in the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar. Israeli soldiers with bulldozers have arrived to demolish every building. The world strenuously objects, but Israel doesn’t seem to notice.

Diplomats from 12 European countries came on Thursday 5 July to visit the tiny Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar in the occupied West Bank. They echo the global outcry against Israel’s plan to demolish the village.

5 countries issued “an urgent official protest” against the demolition plan.

Around 180 Bedouin, who raise sheep and goats, live in shacks in Khan al Ahmar. Half of the residents are children.

International attention was drawn to the village when, on Wednesday, 4 July, Israeli occupation forces with bulldozers assaulted Bedouins and activists who were protesting the demolition.

According to the Red Crescent, 35 protesters and residents were injured. Several police officers were lightly injured; 11 protesters were arrested.

Police reported that some of those present threw stones.

The area around Khan al Ahmar is closed to the general public as Israeli authorities begin construction on a road to enable the eviction to take place. An IDF source indicated that the actual demolition will not take place for a few days or weeks.

These actions by Israel – forcible transfer of population and confiscation or destruction of private property – are prohibited by international humanitarian law and violate basic human rights.

BACKGROUND

The people of Khan al Ahmar were ethnically cleansed from their previous homes in the Negev desert in 1951, and resettled in their current location near Jerusalem, in Israeli-controlled Area C.

Since 1967, Israel has been appropriating land in the vicinity in order to build and expand 2 nearby illegal settlements, Ma’ale Adumim and Kfar Adumim. Khan al Ahmar is squeezed between them, and if the village is demolished, Israel will be able to link the settlements and take over a large swath of the West Bank.

Dwellings belongings to Bedouin are seen in al-Khan al-Ahmar village near the West Bank city of Jericho February 23, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS )

On 5 March 2017, every structure in the village of Khan al Ahmar – including the school, mosque, clinic, and every home – was placed under demolition orders. The villagers were given 7 days to demolish their own village.

Thanks to a court injunction, the process was put on hold for over a year.

But in May 2018, Israel’s High Court of Justice approved the demolition of the village, citing illegal construction of buildings. As is the case all over Area C, Palestinians who apply for construction permits are routinely denied permission and therefore are compelled to build illegally. Even applications to build a school and a clinic were rejected.

Worldwide condemnation

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned “the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by the occupation authorities in the designated areas (C) and in the occupied city of Jerusalem and its environs.”

Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, released a statement calling upon Israel not to demolish Khan al-Ahmar; the statement emphasized that the forced removal of its residents and destruction of private property are violations of international law.

The European Union also condemned Israel’s actions, declaring that the demolition, and the subsequent plans to extend illegal settlement , undermine hopes for a viable peace in the context of a two-state solution.

Apparently no comment has been made about the issue by either Donald Trump or anyone in his administration.

Unacceptable alternative

Israeli authorities they have offered villagers an alternative site about 7 miles away, but the residents of Khan al-Ahmar are not interested.  The new site is next to a landfill and an IDF camp; it does not provide enough space for their animals to graze.

Palestinians in Khan al-Ahmar vowed to never abandon their land.

Faisal Abu Dawoud, a 43-year-old resident, explains: “We have been living here since 1951. My grandfather, my father and me… It is impossible for us to leave this place. Even if they arrest all of us and force us out, we will return.”

“I was born here and will not move anywhere else,” said Feisal Abu Dahok, 45. “If they destroy the village, we will build it again here or nearby.”

A Palestinian Jahalin Bedouin youth tends his flocks in the West Bank village of Khan Al-Ahmar in the Jordan Valley desert east of Jerusalem, June 8, 2012.

The entire village is under demolition order and threat of displacement by Israeli authorities.

Strong words from Hanan Ashrawi

Palestinian Liberation Organization Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi stated that “the protection of the people of Palestine is long overdue. Seventy years after the creation of Israel and the dispossession and displacement of Palestinians continues.”

Hanan Ashrawi is a Palestinian legislator, activist, and scholar. She was a protégée and later colleague and close friend of Edward Said.

“The expulsion of Palestinian families then and now and the forcible transfer of our indigenous population to a state of homelessness and despair is completely unacceptable.”

Ashrawi stressed that the plan to demolish an entire village for the sole purpose of expanding an illegal West Bank settlement is outrageous and inhumane.

She called on the Israeli government to cancel its “unlawful plans” immediately.

Ashrawi continued, “words of warning to Israel are not enough. If there is no serious intervention from the international community towards the Israeli government and its belligerent military occupation, other villages will be next, and more Palestinian men, women and children will be displaced for another 70 years to come.”

“Justice for the Palestinian people can no longer wait.”


See also:

Israeli demolition of entire Palestinian villages continues with no end in sight (includes videos)

UN humanitarian aid coordinator statement on Israeli destruction of schools

July 5, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Imperial Hubris Redefined

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 05.07.2018

There have been two developments in the past month that illustrate clearly what is wrong with the White House’s perception of America’s place in the world. Going far beyond the oft-repeated nonsense that the United States is somehow the “leader of the free world,” the Trump Administration has taken several positions that sustain the bizarre view that such leadership can only be exercised if the United States is completely dominant in all relevant areas. Beyond that, Washington is now also asserting that those who do not go along with the charade and abide by the rules laid down will be subject to punishment to force compliance.

The first issue has to do with outer space. There is an international treaty agreed to in 1967, the so-called Outer Space Treaty, which has been signed by 107 countries including most Europeans, Russia, China and the United States. Conventional weapons or electronic systems designed to protect orbiting satellites from attack are permitted over where the atmosphere ends 62 miles above the Earth’s surface, but outer space is supposed to be free to all. The treaty also forbids any colonization or appropriation of the moon or planets by any national authority.

President Donald Trump apparently is not familiar with the treaty. Speaking before an audience at the National Space Council on June 18th, he said that he was, on his own presidential authority “… hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces… our destiny, beyond the Earth, is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security. It is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”

The idea that the US would seek to have a major presence in space would probably surprise no one, but Trump is saying something quite different. He is creating a military command for space, the moon and the planets and is intent on using that to support an offensive capability that provides dominance in those areas. As no one in his right mind would allow Washington to militarily dominate outer space based on its track record of irresponsible leadership since 9/11, the Trump proposal should be and will be opposed by virtually the entire world.

A fantasy of space dominance is a symptom of a governing class that cannot distinguish between what is important and what is not. It is rooted in a nation that has been constantly fed fear since 9/11 even though it is not threatened. Iran, the second issue surfaced recently, is part of that alleged threat matrix, with the United States and its barking dog Israel repeatedly claiming that the country is both a terrorism supporter and is involved in a secret nuclear weapons program. Both claims are basically false.

Trump has complied with Israel’s demands to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) restricting Iran’s nuclear program even though Tehran was in complete compliance. On June 26th, the White House announced Iran’s punishment, declaring that it would sanction anyone buying Iranian oil, starting on November 4th. The “zero tolerance” global Iranian oil ban deliberately seeks to devastate most sectors of the country’s economy to force it to comply with Israeli, Saudi and US demands that it should effectively disarm.

The threat of sanctions is blatant bullying as the United Nations and all other signatories of the JCPOA continue to support the agreement and have no reason to punish Iran, but there is also an appreciation that sanctions would include being blocked from US financial markets, meaning that the warning must be taken seriously. There are reports that a number of European and Asia refiners and their financial backers are already moving to cut purchases and exit the Iran market well before November.

But there also has been some pushback. Turkey is refusing to go along with the American demand and it is unlikely that China, Russia and India will comply, even if threatened with sanctions. If the European Community were to unite and develop a backbone to take a stand against submitting to US pressure it might actually force Washington to save face by issuing waivers to mitigate the impact of its demand.

There is no rational US interest that compels a hubristic American government to establish a space military or to create a global sanction against Iran, but it is clear that the Trump Administration does not care much for genuine interests as it huffs and puffs to show its power and determination. It is time for the rest of the world to wake up to the danger posed by Washington and mobilize to stand up against it.

July 5, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment