Aletho News


Massive rally in Brussels over cost of living

Samizdat | September 21, 2022

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Brussels on Wednesday for a “national day of action” to demand higher wages and lower energy prices. According to police, over 10,000 people descended on the Belgian capital as it was revealed that some 64% of the country’s citizens are afraid they may not be able to pay their bills.

The demonstrations were organized by Belgian trade unions, who claim that the average energy bill for families in the country has already increased threefold to more than €700 ($691) a month.

“It’s not that we don’t want to pay, but we can’t pay,” said Thierry Bodson, chairman of the General Labor Federation of Belgium, while speaking to thousands of union activists at the Place de la Monnaie. While the average Belgian family only makes €2,500 ($2,468) a month, Bodson pointed out that it’s “absolutely impossible” for someone below that line to pay their bills.

Addressing the government’s recommendation for citizens to use less energy, Bodson said this was “pointless,” as most Belgians have already taken all possible measures to lower their energy consumption but it was still not enough.

Placards seen in the crowds shared Bodson’s sentiments with some reading “Freeze prices, not people,” and “Everything is going up except our wages.”

The protesters are demanding that Belgian authorities do more to combat skyrocketing prices, and claim they should draw additional resources from energy companies that have reported record profits this year and made billions while the standard of living for average people has plummeted.

Last month, Belgium’s Statbel statistics agency reported that inflation in the country had jumped to 9.94% amid a surge in energy prices, almost reaching a record set in 1976.

Meanwhile, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo has warned that “the next five to ten winters will be difficult” due to record gas prices, but stated that Belgium would endure the crisis “if we support each other in these difficult times.”

September 21, 2022 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Solidarity and Activism | | 1 Comment

Occupation raids, attacks Palestinian organizations: EU, US and Canada are complicit!

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network | August 21, 2022

In the early morning hours of Thursday, 18 August, armed Israeli occupation forces invaded the offices of seven prominent Palestinian NGOs, civil society organizations and human rights defenders: the Health Work Committees, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq, Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, Bisan Centre, Defence for Children International – Palestine, and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. These organizations have all been designated by the Israeli occupation as “terrorist” in retaliation for their advocacy and community organizing work for Palestine, and then labeled “illegal organizations” in a military order covering the occupied West Bank of Palestine.

The invading forces ransacked the offices, confiscating computers, legal client files, documentation, printers and monitors and leaving clutter behind — as documented by the organizations’ surveillance cameras, recording the occupation forces’ invasion. The doors of the organizations were welded shut and a paper military order affixed to the door declaring their operation “illegal” under the occupation’s (illegal) military orders.

The organizations declared that they would not be silenced by these attacks, holding press conferences and returning to the offices to reopen them and continue their work. The attacks received widespread condemnation not only from Palestinian and pro-Palestinian forces but even from European governments whose policies and practices consistently target the Palestinian people and their fundamental rights.

Now, on Sunday, 21 August, occupation intelligence authorities — the Shin Bet — phoned Al-Haq director Shawan Jabarin to threaten him with interrogation and arrest if the organization’s work continues, while Defence for Children International – Palestine director Khaled Quzmar was summoned to and held under interrogation.

“Terror” Designations and Political Control

The invasions, interrogations, ransacking and attacks on these organizations reflect the failure of the occupation’s regime of “terror” designations to undermine their work. In 2021, not only did the regime designate Al-Haq, Addameer, DCI, Bisan, the UPWC and the UAWC as “terrorist” organizations — quickly followed by the military orders banning their work in the occupied West Bank of Palestine — it earlier in the year designated Samidoun (on 21 February 2021), followed by three more organizations. Previously and in a similar pretext, the occupation had issued a similar designation against the Health Work Committees along with designations of groups including the Arab Organization for Human Rights UK, the Palestinian Return Centre and Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor.

As we noted at the time, this

“indicates just how meaningless the term ‘terrorist’ is in the hands of the Israeli regime. It means precisely any organization, activist, or freedom fighter that challenges Zionist colonialism through any method or means of resistance at all. The flurry of ‘terrorist’ designations for organizations working to expose Israel’s crimes and organize Palestinians underlines this reality….These designations are not attacks on individual organizations but against Palestinian human rights defenders and those around the world who stand up for Palestinian liberation — and, fundamentally, the Palestinian people as a whole, especially the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli occupation prisons. They attempt to repress growing support for the legitimate resistance of the Palestinian people and confrontation of imperialism and Zionism.”

Further, it is clear that the use of such designations is intended to further political control over Palestinian society. These designations hinge on the allegation that organizations are close to one or another Palestinian resistance organizations, most commonly the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine or Hamas. Israeli officials have shopped around “evidence” to various governments that is so weak so as to be ludicrous, consisting almost entirely of unsubstantiated statements or on the idea that employing a person who supports a political organization (or, in some cases, relatives of people in political organizations “designated” by the occupation) is “funding” that organization by paying employees a salary for doing their job.

While it is obvious that these are false claims, the objective of this type of attack goes beyond simply lobbing allegations. Indeed, the European governments that have criticized the attacks and designations have also repeatedly affirmed their willingness to “examine evidence” and “act” if the Israeli regime “proves” that popular organizations, civil society groups and human rights advocates are in some way “tied” to Palestinian resistance movements. Not only are the organizations “innocent” of the Israeli claims, the claims themselves are fundamentally repugnant. The Palestinian people have the right to resist occupation and to be a part of political, social and armed movements in that resistance; this is not “terrorism” but an essential right of people under occupation and colonization.

Rather than affirming the right of Palestinians to resist and to organize themselves to achieve those goals, these European governments instead use these attacks to impose even greater political scrutiny and conditions. In many cases (such as the Netherlands), these governments recommend or require that all employees of these organizations must not be associated with any “banned” Palestinian political organization. If Palestinians are part of a political party or movement, they must be unemployable and impoverished: this is both the argument of the occupation and of the European states providing a meager “defense” of Palestinian civil society.

For the European funding agencies and many large foundations, supporting Palestinian NGOs has never been primarily about empowering or supporting the Palestinian people to achieve their liberation but rather about redirecting Palestinian energies into “state-building” and/or “reform” projects that exist within the confines of Oslo. Time and time again, these forces have introduced new conditional funding mechanisms and restrictions on everything from the political affiliation of individual employees to the names of buildings and schools.

European Union: Partners in Colonialism and Apartheid

This is borne out once again by the statement of nine European states — Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden — which invokes the promotion of “democratic values and the two-state solution,” a fundamental contradiction as the so-called “two-state solution” itself is the legitimization of the colonization and occupation of 78% of Palestine and no solution at all for the Palestinian people. This brief comment lays bare the real political motivation for European involvement in funding Palestinian organizations, which is to limit rather than to achieve rights, justice and liberation. Further, the statement notes that “should convincing evidence be made available to the contrary, we would act accordingly.”

Here, the “evidence” being referred to would be any “links” between these NGOs and the Palestinian resistance. By including this statement in their alleged defense of the organizations, these European states actually encourage the occupation to continue its raids and ransacking, confiscation of files, arrests and interrogations, in an attempt to manufacture such “evidence”.

Of course, the position of these states themselves — members of the aggressive NATO alliance, defenders of the Israeli occupation in international arenas — is all too clear. The European Union, while rejecting the designation of advocacy and civil society organizations, continues to designate Palestinian resistance organizations as “terrorists.”

France continues to imprison Georges Ibrahim Abdallah while doing almost nothing to advocate for its citizen Salah Hamouri, jailed without charge or trial under Israeli administrative detention, as the government attempts to criminalize Palestinian activism, such as the Collectif Palestine Vaincra. Germany not only engages in weapons deals with the occupation, it also engages in severely repressive practices against Palestine organizing, particularly Palestinian communities in exile and diaspora, from the expulsion of Palestinian writer Khaled Barakat and Palestinian torture survivor and feminist Rasmea Odeh to the ban on 15 May Nakba demonstrations in Berlin. This is not to mention the links between Zionism and European colonialism from the very beginning of the Zionist project.

Now, Israeli prime minister and war criminal Yair Lapid is scheduled to come to Brussels on 6 October to convene the “Association Council” with all EU member states’ foreign ministers, for the first time in 10 years. This is the council under the EU-Israel Association Agreement, the agreement that provides for free trade for occupation products inside the EU and allows for occupation institutions to receive European grants for research and development.

Ending the EU-Israel Association Agreement is a long-time demand of the Palestine solidarity movement, but despite their expressed “concerns” about the violent repression imposed on Palestinians, these European states are planning to welcome Lapid and convene the Association Council after a long hiatus, celebrating their complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Canadian government has refused to make any meaningful statement about these attacks, despite posing as a defender of “human rights.” U.S. officials stated their “concern,” while continuing to provide $3.8 billion in military support to the occupier.


Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network affirms that these attacks are part and parcel of the ongoing war on Palestinian existence and organization, carried out by the Zionist state and supported by the imperialist powers that ally with the Israeli occupation, as well as Arab reactionary regimes engaged in “normalization” and the Palestinian Authority. While PA officials declare their public support for the targeted organizations, the PA continues to engage in security coordination with the occupation, declined the use of its security forces to defend the organizations, and has even previously detained leaders, directors and staff of these organizations challenging its repression at the behest of the occupier.

We reaffirm that the primary way that we can confront these designations is by intensifying our organizing, action, mobilization and resistance to bring down the structures of colonialism, implement the right to return for Palestinian refugees, and support the liberation of all Palestinian prisoners and of Palestine, from the river to the sea. This includes campaigning to bring an end to the so-called “terrorist lists” used to terrify Palestinian communities and Palestine solidarity organizers, which only provide a weapon in the hands of the occupation and encourages it to engage in further specious designations.

We also urge all to take action to confront Lapid’s visit on 6 October in Brussels and to bring down the “EU-Israel Association Agreement,” an agreement built on the colonization of Palestine and the massacres targeting the Palestinian people. It is incumbent upon all institutions and organizations concerned about these raids and about the Palestinian people to adopt and implement the boycott and international isolation of Israel, including at the United Nations and its bodies.

Further, we urge all to join us in organizing to march in Brussels on 29 October for the March for Return and Liberation to the European Parliament, to demand an end to European complicity, involvement in and support for the colonization of Palestine, the siege on Gaza, the imprisonment of Palestinians and the denial of millions of Palestinians’ right to return home.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Made in America” Mini-nukes to be used in a “Nuclear First Strike” coming soon to Italy, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands.

By Manlio Dinucci – byoblu – July 15, 2022

“Production of the B61-12 nuclear bomb begins,” Sandia National Laboratories announced from the United States. The B61-12, which replaces the previous B61 deployed by the U.S. at Aviano and Ghedi and other European bases, is a new type of weapon. It has a nuclear warhead with four power options, selectable depending on the target to be destroyed. It is not dropped vertically, but at a distance from the target on which it is directed guided by a satellite system. It can penetrate underground, exploding deep to destroy command center bunkers in a nuclear first strike.

The B61-12s, classified as “non-strategic nuclear weapons,” are deployed in Europe — in Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain and probably other countries — at distances far enough to strike Russia. They thus have offensive capabilities similar to those of strategic weapons.

Another nuclear weapon system, which the United States is preparing to install in Europe against Russia, is ground-based intermediate-range missiles. They can also be launched from “anti-missile shield” installations, deployed by the U.S. at bases in Deveselu in Romania and Redzikowo in Poland, and aboard five warships cruising in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Baltic Sea close to Russia.

That such installations have offensive capabilities is confirmed by Lockheed Martin itself. Outlining the characteristics of the Mk 41 vertical launch system, used in both land and naval installations, it specifies that it is capable of launching “missiles for all missions, both defense and long-range attack, including Tomahawk cruise missiles.” These can be armed with nuclear warheads.

Europe is thus being turned by the U.S. into the front line of a nuclear confrontation with Russia, even more dangerous than that of the Cold War.

July 15, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Critical Norwegian gas platform and transportation hub forced to shut down

Samizdat | July 12, 2022

A Norwegian gas platform and the transportation hub Sleipner Riser at the same field were shut down on Tuesday after separate gas leaks occurred, operator Equinor said, according to Reuters. The company indicated it was unclear when operations would resume.

“A gas leak at the Sleipner A {platform} occurred yesterday morning,” an Equinor spokesperson stated, adding “No person was injured and production was shut. When we tried to restart, a new gas leak occurred, late Monday night … this time at Sleipner Riser.”

Sleipner Riser is a key hub for the transport of North Sea gas to Britain and Belgium.

“We don’t know when we will back in normal production. The facility is shut,” the spokesperson added.

The incident comes at a time when Europe is facing constrained gas supply as scheduled maintenance halted flows from Russia via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Monday. The repairs are expected to take 10 days.

Norway is Europe’s second largest gas supplier and currently meets around 25% of gas demand on the continent, according to S&P global. Its role has come into sharper focus since Russia moved to reduce gas deliveries to Europe.

This month, the Norwegian government ended a strike by the country’s offshore oil and gas workers, who had been demanding wage increases to compensate for rising inflation. The strike, which resulted in the closure of three fields, threatened to exacerbate Europe’s energy crisis.

July 12, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , | 1 Comment

Hypocrisies and successes at UN meeting to ban nuclear weapons 

By John LaForge | PeaceVoice | June 24, 2022

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been ratified by 65 governments, known in diplomatic circles as States Parties. The treaty’s first Meeting of States Parties (1MSP) concluded here June 23, after painstakingly working out — in the words of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons — “a blueprint for the end of nuclear weapons.” The New Treaty is the extraordinary, crowning achievement of ICAN, which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts.

At 1MSP, The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany — all three of whom use U.S. nuclear weapons on their air force bases — participated as Observer States. The three have not ratified the TPNW, having acquiesced with a string of U.S. administrations — Obama’s, Trump’s, and Biden’s — that conspired at every opportunity to derail, prevent, delay, weaken, and boycott the new ban — in spite of Broad Public Support For Nuclear Disarmament. Mr. Trump demanded that States Parties withdraw their ratifications. None did. Biden’s White House reportedly urged Japan not to attend the 1MSP as an Observer, and they stayed away.

German and Dutch representatives took their turn and spoke to the MSP on June 22, but both NATO members used exactly the same words to note their government’s explicit disapproval of the TPNW, and to voice their supposed support for the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Both representatives said their governments “will not accede to” the nuclear ban treaty “because the TPNW is inconsistent with NATO doctrine.”

The hypocrisy in German and Dutch opposition is that their “sharing” of U.S. nuclear weapons, while consistent with “NATO doctrine” is totally inconsistent with their hallowed Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In fact, their 50-year-long dismissal of the NPT’s binding (Art. VI) obligation to begin negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament “at an early date” is also completely inconsistent with their feigned support for the NPT.

As German Representative Rüdiger Bohn said June 22, NATO “doctrine” includes the doleful edict, “As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear Alliance.” This embrace of genocidal atomic violence is not an Article of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty Or NATO Charter. It was manufactured entirely by its nuclear-armed members, and there is no legal obligation for NATO to remain a nuclear-armed terrorist organization.

NATO “doctrine” is fluid, strictly advisory, and accepted voluntarily by its members. Even the NATO Charter’s famous Article 5, regarding collective response to a military attack on a member state, declares only that the NATO membership “will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking … such action as it deems necessary.”

In comparison, the Non-Proliferation Treaty is binding international law and includes explicit, unambiguous prohibitions and clear, binding obligations. NATO’s ongoing planning, preparations and ever-present threat to launch nuclear attacks (known as “deterrence”), is simply a ritualized practice which can be ended at any time — say by complying with the NPT’s Articles I and II which prohibit any transfer or reception of nuclear weapons between states, or its Article VI pledge to negotiate nuclear disarmament. Indeed, it is the 50-year-long postponement, or rejection of Art. VI that has prompted and propelled the overwhelming success of the new TPNW.

What might have been a week-long celebration of the TPNW’s progress in seeking a world free of nuclear threats, was dimmed by Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine. It was the war’s spoken and unspoken reminders of ready nuclear arsenals in Russia and NATO that moved the MSP to say, in its Final Declaration, that it “condemn[s] unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.”

The Declaration castigates nuclear weapons and echoes Daniel Ellsberg’s 1959 Essay “The Threat and Practice of Blackmail,” noting that the Bomb is used to coerce, intimidate, plague, curse, and terrify. “This highlights, now more than ever, the fallacy of nuclear deterrence doctrines, which are based and rely on the threat of the actual use of nuclear weapons and, hence, the risks of the destruction of countless lives, of societies, of nations, and of inflicting global catastrophic consequences.”

The Parties agreed to push ahead with resolve to eventually see the nuclear weapons states sign on, saying “In the face of the catastrophic risks posed by nuclear weapons and in the interest of the very survival of humanity, we cannot do otherwise.”


John LaForge, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and is co-editor with Arianne Peterson of Nuclear Heartland, Revised: A Guide to the 450 Land-Based Missiles of the United States.

June 29, 2022 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment


Janet Ossebaard, January 27, 2022

January 23, 2022: Half a million people went to Brussels (Belgium, EU capital) to demonstrate against the mandatory QR-codes and Covid vaccinations. What was a beautiful, colorful. and peaceful protest was corrupted by Antifa, the Police, the Military, and the Main Stream Media. This short film shows you the evidence of a scam, a set-up to make the “anti-vaxxers” look like criminals, vandals, aggressors. It’s time to expose the oppressors of the People! Please share this video wide and far…

Script, voice-over and editing: Janet Ossebaard

January 30, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 5 Comments

Uninvited foreign troops must leave, African nation says

RT | January 24, 2022

Denmark must “immediately withdraw” some 90 troops it deployed to Mali last week “without [the government’s] consent and in violation of the protocols” allowing European nations to intervene in that African country, the government in Bamako said on Monday.

Some 91 Danes from the Jaeger Corps special forces arrived in Mali on January 18, as part of Task Force Takuba, a French-led counter-terrorism mission in the West African country. According to the Danish defense ministry, their job will be to reinforce the border with Niger and Burkina Faso, train Malian Armed Forces, and provide medical services to the peacekeepers.

While the government of Mali is grateful to “all its partners involved in the fight against terrorism,” it stressed “the need to obtain the prior agreement of the Malian authorities” before sending any troops to the country, says the communique signed by Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, spokesman for the Ministry of Administration and Decentralization.

Announcing the deployment of the force last week, the government in Copenhagen said it had been scheduled in April 2021, as France sought to withdraw some of its troops from Mali.

Their objective was “to stabilize Mali and parts of the border triangle between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, and to ensure that civilians are protected from terrorist groups,” the Danish military said.

The Jaegers are also experienced in “training and educating” local militaries, a job they have previously performed in Afghanistan and Iraq. They were sent shortly after Sweden withdrew its contingent from Mali. The French-led operation also involves forces from Belgium, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

Task Force Takuba has operated in Mali since March 2020, when Paris decided to wrap up the previous Operation Barkhane. France has maintained a military presence in its former West African colony since 2013, to help the government in Bamako deal with a Tuareg rebellion in the northwest of the country and subsequent terrorist insurgency loyal to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

Relations between Bamako and Paris have grown chilly since the latest military takeover in Mali in 2021, and France has since closed three of its military bases there, in Kidal, Tessalit, and Timbuktu.

January 24, 2022 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Belgium complicit in killing of popular African leader, book claims

New evidence shows Belgium turned a blind eye as its officials plotted the assassination of Burundian PM Prince Louis Rwagasore in 1961

PM Prince Louis Rwagasore led Burundi to independence from Belgium © AFP / BELGA
RT | January 5, 2022

Belgium has “overwhelming responsibility” for the killing of Prince Louis Rwagasore, the popular Burundian leader who sought to unite the country’s ethnic groups as it gained freedom from the colonial power, new evidence shows.

Weeks after being elected prime minister in a landslide, Rwagasore, the 29-year-old son of a former king, was assassinated in October 1961. The governing Belgian elite masterminded the shooting while Brussels turned a blind eye, according to archived records uncovered by Flemish sociologist Ludo De Witte.

Although the shooter, a Greek national, and five accomplices were executed, De Witte said that probes by the Belgian colonial court, the government of independent Burundi, and the UN all neglected Belgium’s role in the killing, which led to decades of war, ethnic tensions, and instability.

Publishing his findings in a book titled ‘Murder In Burundi’, De Witte noted that then-Belgian governor Roberto Regnier had told a post-election crisis meeting of senior Belgian officials and allies in the Belgium-friendly Christian Democrat party (CDC) that “Rwagasore must be killed.”

According to the author, the CDC saw his words as an invitation. Regnier’s remarks were apparently confirmed by four people at that meeting to a 1962 inquiry by prosecutors in Brussels. But that report had not been published until De Witte unearthed it during a five-year investigation into the murder.

It also appears the UK was at least aware of the danger faced by Rwagasore, with Britain’s then-ambassador James Murray writing in a 1962 dispatch that influential Belgians had “an almost pathological hatred” of the charismatic leader, who they believed would harm Belgian-Burundian relations. Murray noted that Regnier’s “words… go very far in the direction of incitement to murder,” according to De Witte.

The book also accuses then-Belgian foreign minister Paul-Henri Spaak – today celebrated as a founding father of the EU – of ignoring Regnier and other conspirators on a “war footing” with Rwagasore. It also finds fault with King Baudouin, who “moved heaven and earth” to commute the assassin’s death sentence to life imprisonment.

Last October, a special commission into Belgium’s colonial past admitted it paid “limited attention” to Burundi and Rwagasore’s killing. De Witte attributed this to a “reticence” among the country’s elite to “confront the reality” of colonization.

Meanwhile, a Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesperson did not respond to the book’s charges, but told The Guardian that the government was waiting for parliamentary recommendations before adopting a policy position.

January 6, 2022 Posted by | Book Review, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Germany: US Nuclear Weapons Shamed in Nationwide Debate

By John Laforge | CounterPunch | September 18, 2020

We need a broad public debate … about the sense and nonsense of nuclear deterrence.

—Rolf Mutzenich, German Social Democratic Party Leader

Public criticism of the US nuclear weapons deployed in Germany bloomed into a vigorous nationwide debate this past spring and summer focused on the controversial scheme known diplomatically as “nuclear sharing” or “nuclear participation.”

“The end of this nuclear participation is currently being discussed as intensely as was, not so long ago, the exit from nuclear power,” wrote Roland Hipp, a managing director of Greenpeace Germany, in a June article for the newspaper Welt.

The 20 US nuclear bombs that are stationed at Germany’s Büchel Air Base have become so unpopular, that mainstream politicians and religious leaders have joined anti-war organizations in demanding their ouster and have promised to make the weapons a campaign issue in next year’s national elections.

Today’s public debate in Germany may have been prompted by Belgium’s Parliament, which on January 16 came close to expelling the US weapons stationed at its Kleine Brogel airbase. By a vote of 74 to 66, the members barely defeated a measure that directed the government “to draw up, as soon as possible, a roadmap aiming at the withdrawal of nuclear weapons on Belgian territory.” The debate came after the parliament’s foreign affairs committee adopted a motion calling for both the weapons’ removal from Belgium, and for the country’s ratification of the International Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Belgium’s lawmakers may have been prompted to reconsider the government’s “nuclear sharing,” when on February 20, 2019 three members of the European Parliament were arrested on Belgium’s Kleine Brogel base, after they boldly scaled a fence and carried a banner directly onto the runway.

Replacement Fighter Jets Set to Carry US Bombs

Back in Germany, defense minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer raised an uproar April 19 after a report in Der Spiegel said she had emailed Pentagon boss Mark Esper saying that Germany planned to buy 45 Boeing Corporation F-18 Super Hornets. Her comments brought howls from the Bundestag and the minister walked back her claim, telling reporters April 22, “No decision has been taken (on which planes will be chosen) and, in any case, the ministry can’t make that decision—only parliament can.”

Nine days later, in an interview with daily Tagesspiegel published May 3, Rolf Mützenich, Germany’s parliamentary leader of the Social Democratic Party’s (SPD)—a member of Angela Merkel’s governing coalition—made a clear denunciation.

“Nuclear weapons on German territory do not heighten our security, just the opposite,” they undermine it, and should be removed, Mützenich said, adding that he was opposed to both “prolonging nuclear participation” and to “replacing the tactical US nuclear weapons stored in Büchel with new nuclear warheads.”

Mützenich’s mention of “new” warheads is a reference to US construction of hundreds of the new, first-ever “guided” nuclear bombs—the” B61-12s”—set to be delivered to five NATO states in the coming years, replacing the B61-3s, 4s, and 11s reportedly stationed in Europe now.

The SPD’s co-president Norbert Walter-Borjähn quickly endorsed Mützenich’s statement, agreeing that the US bombs should be withdrawn, and both were immediately criticized by Foreign Minister Heiko Mass, by US diplomats in Europe, and by NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg directly.

Anticipating the backlash, Mützenich published a detailed defense of his position May 7 in the Journal for International Politics and Society, [1] where he called for a “debate about the future of nuclear sharing and the question of whether the US tactical nuclear weapons stationed in Germany and Europe increase the level of safety for Germany and Europe, or whether they have perhaps become obsolete now from a military and security policy perspective.”

“We need a broad public debate … about the sense and nonsense of nuclear deterrence,” Mützenich wrote.

NATO’s Stoltenberg hastily penned a rebuttal for the May 11 Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, using 50-year-old yarns about “Russian aggression” and claiming that nuclear sharing means “allies, like Germany, make joint decisions on nuclear policy and planning …, and “give[s] allies a voice on nuclear matters that they would not otherwise have.”

This is flatly untrue, as Mutzenich made clear in his paper, calling it a “fiction” that the Pentagon nuclear strategy is influenced by US allies. “There is no influence or even a say by non-nuclear powers on the nuclear strategy or even the possible uses of nuclear [weapons]. This is nothing more than a long-held pious wish,” he wrote.

Most of the attacks on the SPF leader sounded like the one May 14 from then US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, whose op/ed in the newspaper De Welt urged Germany to keep the US “deterrent” and claimed that withdrawing the bombs would be a “betrayal” of Berlin’s NATO commitments.

Then US Ambassador to Poland Georgette Mosbacher went round the bend with a May 15 Twitter post, writing that “if Germany wants to reduce its nuclear sharing potential …, maybe Poland, which honestly fulfills its obligations … could use this potential at home.” Mosbacher’s suggestion was broadly ridiculed as preposterous because the Nonproliferation Treaty forbids such nuclear weapons transfers, and because stationing US nuclear bombs on the Russia border would be a dangerously destabilizing provocation.

NATO “nuclear sharing” nations have no say in dropping US H-bombs

On May 30, the National Security Archive in Washington, DC, confirmed Mützenich’s position and put the lie to Stoltenberg’s disinformation, releasing a formerly “top secret” State Department memo affirming that the US will alone decide whether to use its nuclear weapons based in Holland, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Belgium.

Moral and ethical shaming of the nuclear weapons in Büchel has recently come from high-ranking church leaders. In the deeply religious Rhineland-Pfalz region of the airbase, bishops have begun demanding that the bombs be withdrawn. Catholic Bishop Stephan Ackermann from Trier spoke out for nuclear abolition near the base in 2017; the Peace Appointee of the Lutheran Church of Germany, Renke Brahms, spoke to a large protest gathering there in 2018; Lutheran Bishop Margo Kassmann addressed the annual church peace rally there in July 2019; and this August 6, Catholic Bishop Peter Kohlgraf, who heads the German faction of Pax Christi, promoted nuclear disarmament in the nearby city of Mainz.

More fuel kindled the high-profile nuclear discussion with the June 20 publication of an Open Letter to the German fighter pilots at Büchel, signed by 127 individuals and 18 organizations, calling on them to “terminate direct involvement” in their nuclear war training, and reminding them that “Illegal orders may neither be given nor obeyed.”

The “Appeal to the Tornado pilots of Tactical Air Force Wing 33 at the Büchel nuclear bomb site to refuse to participate in nuclear sharing” covered over half a page of the regional Rhein-Zeitung newspaper, based in Koblenz.

The Appeal, which is based on binding international treaties that forbid military planning of mass destruction, had earlier been sent to Colonel Thomas Schneider, commander of the pilots’ 33rd Tactical Air Force Wing at Büchel air base.

The Appeal urged the pilots to refuse unlawful orders and stand down: “[T]he use of nuclear weapons is illegal under international law and the constitution. This also makes the holding of nuclear bombs and all supporting preparations for their possible deployment illegal. Illegal orders may neither be given nor obeyed. We appeal to you to declare to your superiors that you no longer wish to participate in supporting nuclear sharing for reasons of conscience.”

Roland Hipp, a co-director of Greenpeace Germany, in “How Germany makes itself the target of a nuclear attack” published in Welt June 26, noted that going non-nuclear is the rule not the exception in NATO. “There are already [25 of the 30] countries within NATO that have no US nuclear weapons and do not join in nuclear participation,” Hipp wrote.

In July, the debate partly focused on the colossal financial expense of replacing the German Tornado jet fighters with new H-bomb carriers in a time of multiple global crises.

Dr. Angelika Claussen, a psychiatrist a vice president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, wrote in a July 6 posting that “[A] significant military build-up in times of the coronavirus pandemic is perceived as a scandal by the German public … Buying 45 nuclear F-18 bombers means spending [about] 7.5 billion Euros. For this amount of money one could pay 25,000 doctors and 60,000 nurses a year, 100,000 intensive care beds and 30,000 ventilators.”

Dr. Claussen’s figures were substantiated by a July 29 report by Otfried Nassauer and Ulrich Scholz, military analysts with the Berlin Information Center for Transatlantic Security. The study found the cost of 45 F-18 fighter jets from the US weapons giant Boeing Corp. could be “at a minimum” between 7.67 and 8.77 billion Euros, or between $9 and $10.4 billion—or about $222 million each.

Germany’s potential $10 billion payout to Boeing for its F-18s is a cherry that the war profiteer dearly wants to pick. Germany’s Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer has said her government also intends to buy 93 Eurofighters, made by the France-based multinational behemoth Airbus, at the comparably bargain rate of $9.85 billion—$111 million each—all to replace the Tornadoes by 2030.

In August, SPD leader Mützenich promised to make the “sharing” of US nuclear weapons a 2021 election issue, telling the daily Suddeutsche Zeitung, “I am firmly convinced that if we ask this question for the election program, the answer is relatively obvious…. [W]e will continue this issue next year.”

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

September 20, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Belgium Urges Sanctions against Israel if it Annexes West Bank

Palestine Chronicle | June 27, 2020

The Belgian parliament on Friday passed a resolution urging the government to call on the European Union to impose sanctions against Israel if it proceeds with its plan to annex large swaths of the occupied West Bank.

The measure “concerning Israel’s annexation of occupied territories in Palestine”, passed in the 150-member House of Representatives with 101 affirmative votes, 39 abstentions and zero votes against it.

The body was also due to vote on a motion calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state but this was delayed after it was sent back to the foreign affairs committee for further debate.

MPs from left-wing parties, including the Socialist Party and members of the French and Green parties, proposed the resolutions.

“It is a matter of defending international law. There is no equidistance to be respected in this fight,” said MP Ecolo Simon Moutquin who authored the resolution.

The resolution has two objectives, he said: “On the one hand, send a message to the Israeli government ‘Don’t cross that red line’. On the other hand, give some hope to the Palestinians who have suffered injustice for decades.”

More than 1,000 European lawmakers across the political spectrum issued a letter earlier this week warning Israel against annexing parts of the occupied West Bank.

Legislators said they “share serious concerns about [US] President Trump’s plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the imminent prospect of Israeli annexation of West Bank territory.”

June 27, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 1 Comment

Belgian Trade Delegation to Israel Cancelled

IMEMC & Agencies – December 7, 2019

The trade mission would have taken place from the 8th to the 11th of December, will not go forward, due to criticism from the political opposition and several activist organizations, leading to its discontinuation, the Palestine News Network (PNN) reported.

The delegation would have consisted of representatives from the Walloon and Brussels governments, which are separate political entities in Belgium, and numerous companies from the respective regions.

The Walloon government had already withdrawn from the delegation at an earlier stage, but now the Brussels government has done the same, effectively leaving the rest of the mission without political representation.

In the last couple of weeks, the general criticism towards the trade mission has grown. Specifically Israel’s disregard for international agreements concerning the blockade of the Gaza Strip, sparked the opposition’s distaste for the mission.

“We’re talking about participating in the Israeli colonization policy,”

said Stéphanie Koplowicz, member of the Flemish left-wing PVDA-party.

“The UN Human Rights Comittee has complained that over 200 companies do business in these illegal settlements. Does the government want to encourage Brussels’ companies to participate in this?”

December 7, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment