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US Supreme Court heaps more damages on Sudan in embassy bombing cases

MEMO | May 18, 2020

The US Supreme Court dealt a legal setback to Sudan on Monday, ruling that the African nation cannot avoid punitive damages in lawsuits accusing it of complicity in the 1998 al Qaeda bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.

Siding with hundreds of people hurt and relatives of people killed in the bombings, the justices ruled 8-0 to throw out a lower court’s 2017 decision that had freed Sudan from punitive damages awarded in the litigation in addition to about $6 billion in compensatory damages. Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not participate in the case.

The case hinged on the Supreme Court’s view of a 2008 amendment to a federal law known as the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act allowing for punitive damages. The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2017 upheld Sudan’s liability but ruled that the amendment was made after the bombings occurred and could not be applied retroactively.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in Monday’s ruling that for claims made under federal law, “Congress was as clear as it could have been when it authorized plaintiffs to seek and win punitive damages for past conduct.”

The ruling also ordered the D.C. Circuit to reconsider its decision that the foreign plaintiffs who sued Sudan under state law in the United States also could not seek punitive damages.

Starting in 2001, groups of plaintiffs sued in federal court in Washington under the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which generally bars claims against foreign countries except those designated by the United States as state sponsors of terrorism – as Sudan was in 1993. A federal judge found Sudan liable and awarded the plaintiffs $10.2 billion, including $4.3 in punitive damages.

Sudan has faced a deepening economic crisis since the 2019 overthrow of its longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir.

President Donald Trump’s administration had urged the justices to side with the plaintiffs who sued Sudan.

Twelve Americans were killed in the August 7, 1998, attacks. The lawsuits involve 567 people, mostly non-US citizens who were employees of the US government and their relatives.

The damages had been imposed by default because for most of the litigation Sudan did not appear before a lower court to counter accusations that it harbored and provided support to the Islamist militant group al Qaeda. Sudan denied the allegations.

The truck bombs that detonated outside the embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania marked the first large-scale al Qaeda attack.

May 18, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Sudan to Compensate Families of USS Cole Victims

teleSUR | February 13, 2020

The new Sudanese government has agreed to compensate the families of sailors killed in an Al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole warship 20 years ago, state news agency SUNA said on Thursday, part of government efforts to remove the country from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The report said the settlement had been signed on Feb. 7. It did not mention the amount paid in compensation, but a source with knowledge of the deal, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Sudan had agreed to settle the case for $30 million.

The 17 sailors were killed, and dozens of others injured, in the attack on Oct. 12, 2000, when two men in a small boat detonated explosives alongside the Navy guided missile destroyer as it was refueling in the southern Yemeni port of Aden.

Khartoum agreed to settle “only for the purpose of fulfilling the condition set by the U.S. administration to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism”, SUNA said, citing the justice ministry.

Being designated as a state sponsor of terrorism makes Sudan ineligible for desperately needed debt relief and financing from lenders such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Removal from the list potentially opens the door for foreign investment.

“The government of Sudan would like to point out that the settlement agreement explicitly affirmed that the government was not responsible for this incident or any terrorist act,” the justice ministry said in its statement, cited by SUNA said.

The announcement comes two days after Khartoum and rebel groups agreed that all those wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and genocide in the Darfur region should appear before the tribunal. The list includes Sudan’s ousted president Omar al-Bashir.

The U.S. sailors’ relatives had sued Sudan under the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which generally bars suits against foreign countries except those designated by the United States as a sponsor of terrorism, as Sudan has been since 1993.

Sudan did not defend against the claims in court. In 2014, a trial judge found that Sudan’s aid to al Qaeda “led to the murders” of the 17 Americans and awarded the families about $35 million, including $14 million in punitive damages.

Sudan then tried to void the judgment, arguing the lawsuit was not properly served on its foreign minister, violating notification requirements under U.S. and international law.

The U.S. Supreme Court turned down the bid by the families last year.

February 13, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Sudan closing Hamas, Hezbollah offices to rebuild US ties

MEMO | December 17, 2019

In an attempt to re-establish ties with the US and to lift sanctions imposed on it, Sudan is set to shut the offices of the Hamas and Hezbollah resistance movements in the country, both defined as terrorist organisations by America, according to a source cited by Middle East Eye (MEE).

The decision follows Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok’s visit to Washington earlier in the month. Hamdok became the first leader of Sudan to visit America since 1985 and he held talks aimed at bridging the relationship between the two states after years of sanctions and international isolation, especially with Sudan being placed on the US list of states sponsors of terrorism after hosting former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the nineties.

Post-revolutionary Sudan witnessed the ousting of long-term President Omar Al-Bashir who is currently serving a two-year sentence on charges of corruption, and the inauguration of the country’s first civilian prime minister in three decades. Hamdok has argued for the necessity of Sudan being removed from the US’ blacklist citing the need to improve the economic situation, which is edging towards hyperinflation leaving Sudan among the countries with the highest inflation in the world. The economic crisis is primarily what brought protestors out onto the streets last year. Addressing the UN General Assembly in September, Hamdok said that the revolution aimed at ending Sudan’s pariah status, reiterating that Sudan inherited international sanctions and that “it was the former regime that supported terrorism”, not Sudan’s people.

The Sudanese source who spoke to MEE said: “The government will close the offices of Hamas and Hezbollah and any other Islamic groups designated as terrorist groups that has presence in Sudan, because Sudan has nothing actually to do with these groups and the interests of Sudan are above everything.”

However, the office closures are likely symbolic in nature, said Cameron Hudson, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Africa Centre, given that operations of both organisations have been dormant in the country for years. “The announcement that they are formally closing the offices suggests to me that they were essentially dormant, although not formally closed,” he said.

Nevertheless, the move is interpreted by some as a gradual alignment of Khartoum with the interests of the US and its regional allies. In 2016 Sudan ended diplomatic ties with Iran in the wake of the attacks by protestors on the Saudi embassy in Tehran which was in response to the execution of the Saudi Shia cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr. Two months prior to the severing of ties with Tehran, Sudan reportedly received $2.2 billion for taking part in the Saudi and UAE-led coalition in Yemen, although Sudan is now scaling back its military involvement in the conflict.

Israel for its part had accused Sudan of channelling arms from Iran to Hamas in the Gaza Strip via Egypt’s Sinai desert and is alleged to have bombed Sudanese munitions warehouses and factories in the past.

Sudan has also sought Qatar’s support in its efforts to be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, which it expressed at a reception hosted by Qatar’s Ambassador to Khartoum, ahead of Qatar’s National Day.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sudan’s new PM wants to withdraw troops from Yemen

Press TV – December 6, 2019

Sudan’s new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has vowed to withdraw troops from the Saudi-led war in Yemen, saying his country’s role should be limited to assisting in a political resolution of the conflict.

“The conflict in Yemen has no military solution, whether from us or from anywhere in the world,” Hamdok told the Atlantic Council, a US-based think tank, on Thursday.

He added that the war “has to be resolved through political means,” and that his country will seek to “help our brothers and sisters in Yemen and play our role with the rest to help them address this”.

Sudan has been one of the main contributors to the so-called Saudi coalition against Yemen, formed in 2015 in a bid to install a pro-Saudi government in Sana’a and crush Yemen’s Houthi Ansarllah movement.

According to reports, up to 40,000 Sudanese troops were deployed in the country during the peak of the conflict in 2016-2017.

Late October, however, Sudanese officials said the country had withdrawn thousands of troops from Yemen, with only a “few thousand” remaining.

Speaking on Thursday, Hamdok said “not many” Sudanese forces remain in Yemen.

Hamdok, who is leading the country’s transitional government in a power-sharing pact with the military, further stated that he will be “absolutely” able to withdraw the remaining troops from Yemen.

The new prime minster said his government had “inherited” the deployment in Yemen from Sudan’s former president Omar Hassan al-Bashir who was ousted following a popular uprising against his rule in April.

Hamdok pledged to “address” the country’s involvement in the Saudi-led war “in the near future” without further elaborating on the matter.

While Sudanese officials have abstained from publishing official casualty numbers in Yemen, Yemen’s armed forces have said a total 4,253 Sudanese troops have been killed in the conflict.

The developments come as the Saudi-led mission in Yemen has come to a standstill due to the resistance and increasingly sophisticated attacks of Yemeni forces.

Earlier this year, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Riyadh’s most influential partner in the war, was reported to have withdrawn most of its troops from Yemen.

UAE officials have reached the conclusion that the war has become “unwinnable” and that the Houthis will eventually “have a role in the future in Yemen”, reports said.

Fearing a long-lasting quagmire in Yemen, Riyadh has also been reportedly seeking to negotiate an end to the conflict through discussions with the Houthis.

December 6, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | 1 Comment

Understanding Saudi Arabia’s Role in Post-Coup Sudan

By Adam Garrie | EurasiaFuture | April 18, 2019

In previous times, when Saudi Arabia sought to intervene in the affairs of foreign nations, it did so overtly. Whether funding foreign masjids to advance Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam or sponsoring militant groups with unambiguous links to Riyadh, it used to be that when Saudi Arabia wanted change in a foreign nation, there was no real attempt to hide such developments.

Under the de facto leadership of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, this has partly changed. While western media has struggled to form a cohesive narrative through which to portray military strongman and US citizen Khalifa Haftar’s ongoing attempt to take Tripoli, Haftar’s own movements make it clear just how much Saudi Arabia is backing the renegade military man who once fled Libya as a traitor in the late 1980s.

Haftar was in Riyadh where he met the Saudi monarch just days before he began his assault on Tripoli. It has further been reported that Haftar has received millions of dollars from Riyadh. Thus, it is clear that in spite of Riyadh’s US partner’s support of the fledgling and endlessly corrupt Tripoli regime, Saudi Arabia along with its Egyptian and Emirati allies are firmly behind Haftar.

Recent events in Sudan have served as a reminder to the world that whilst long serving and recently ousted President Omar al-Bashir came to power in 1989 with the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood, since then, Bashir had become something of a post-ideological/poly-ideological political survivor. At various times Bashir has been friendly with and had disputes with countries as diverse as Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Gaddafi’s Libya, Assad’s Syria, Egypt, Qatar and Turkey. In many ways, the only two nations with whom Bashir has had consistently good relations were China and Russia. In respect of just about every other country that seeks strategic relations with Khartoum, Bashir’s career was something of a geopolitical game of ping-pong.

Recent years however had seen Bashir’s Sudan greatly improve relations with Turkey and also Turkey’s closest Arab ally Qatar. To this end, Turkey has signed an agreement with Khartoum to construct a modern port at the location of a once prominent Ottoman Port at Suakin. Yet whilst this apparently win-win project did not immediately radiate political overtones, there were in fact many to be found. Suakin was a traditional Ottoman port of call for those on the Hajj to the Holy City of Mecca. From Suakin, pilgrims would take a short maritime journey to Jeddah before moving on to Mecca. For Saudi Arabia, this was seen as a Turkish attempt to influence what could once again become a major route for those on the Hajj. As Turkey and Saudi Arabia continue to compete for influence among the region’s millions of Sunni Muslims, Riyadh certainly took notice of the Turkey-Sudan port deal.

Although Sudan continues to provide mercenaries to the Saudi coalition in nearby Yemen, Bashir’s juggling act between Saudi Arabia on the one hand and the Turkey-Qatari partnership on the other, proved to be one that has self-evidently been a source of consternation in Riyadh.

To be sure, issues of poverty, corruption, genuine human rights concerns and a general political fatigue in the face of Bashir’s lengthy rule were in fact sources of the protests which led to the former President’s ouster. That being said, the rapidity with which Sudan’s new military rulers have moved against Bashir suggests that there is more to the situation than meets the eye.

Reports have now emerged that Bashir is under arrest whilst the country’s new self-proclaimed rulers issue frequent statements of extreme disapprobation against their former boss. This combined with the fact that Turkeys’ calls for calm and moderation are becoming increasingly vocal whilst Saudi state media is celebrating the fact that Sudan’s new regime has refused to receive Qatar’s foreign minister, makes it clear that the new forces in Khartoum are acting in a manner that leans heavily towards Riyadh and away from the Turkey-Qatar partnership that Bashir had been drawing ever closer to in his final years in power.

Although the situation in Khartoum remains fluid to the point of being chaotic, it is already becoming clear that while the origins of the coup where in many ways organic, the management of events since the ouster of Omar al-Bashir has been one that is incredibly favourable towards Saudi Arabia whilst being notably less so to Turkey and Qatar.

This likewise proves that in the age of Muhammad bin Salman, direct intervention into foreign nations via religious groups and militants has been replaced by using Riyadh’s economic influence to force rulers of poorer nations to do as Saudi Arabia wishes.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Arab Spring returns home to uncertain welcome

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | April 12, 2019

The Arab Spring has returned to the Middle East after nearly six years in exile. It was in July 2013 that reversing the tide of democracy in Egypt that swept away the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi led a coalition with the backing of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to remove the elected President of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, from power and suspended the the country’s constitution of 2012.

The Arab Spring never quite recovered from that trauma. There is a nifty aphorism of obscure origin that ‘History does not repeat itself but it often rhymes.’ The return of the Arab Spring to Algeria and Sudan in the recent weeks fits into that description. The similarity with the past lies in the undeniable fact that the Arab Spring is riding the wave of anti-regime protests in both Algeria and Sudan, triggered spontaneously by enormous public hatred of the regimes for their brutal repression, corruption, indifference to poverty and the intolerable conditions of day-to-day life.

In Sudan, the tipping point came four months ago over the government decision to triple the price of bread. In Algeria, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back came in February when then President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would seek a fifth-term in office, whereupon tens of thousands took to the streets.

In the sheer spontaneity of the Arab Spring revolt in Sudan and Algeria, time seemed to stand still since 2013. First in Algeria, after some six weeks of protests, and in Sudan within days, after four months of protests, the dictators got ousted. But in reality, things are never quite the repetition of the past — protests this time around are on a significantly higher scale. Lessons may have been learnt from the tragic example of Egypt where a heroic popular struggle that brought the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohammed Morsi to power ended in the blood-soaked 2013 coup led by General Sisi. The tragic saga of the Arab Spring in Egypt showed that entrenched ruling elites do not relinquish power simply because of militant mass protests.

Thus, both in Algeria and Sudan, there is popular resistance to the all-too-familiar pattern repeating — the army generals stepping in as the apparent saviours to remove the unpopular, detested dictators from power — Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir — but then, only to usurp power and establish military dictatorships, as had happened in Egypt. In Algeria, the protestors are openly shouting ‘No repeat of the Egyptian scenario.’ In Sudan, the exhortation to the protestors is: ‘Stay put and guard your revolution. To comply with the curfew (imposed by the generals) is to recognise the clone rescue government (led by the army.)’

However, the spectre that is haunting the masses in both Algeria and Sudan is the danger of bloody counterrevolution. Leadership is lacking among protestors and they lack the machinery or cadres to coordinate opposition to military-police repression. Meanwhile, the entrenched elite is co-opting the middle class and trying to lull protestors to sleep with (false) promises of a democratic capitalist future. The military junta in Algeria is promising to convene a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution, while the counterpart in Sudan has voiced its intention to hold democratic elections in two years.

In Sudan, there is also the added factor of foreign interference. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi openly said this week, “We cannot afford a leadership emerging in … Sudan that tolerates, or even worse condones, militant Islamic activity. This is why … we are keeping a close eye on any possible transition of power in Sudan.” The reference is to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Of course, it is a phoney argument, since the Brothers in Sudan have historically rejected union with the Egyptian branch (forming an alliance instead with the Sudanese Ansar-Ummah political bloc in support of Sudanese independence.) Sisi’s real worry is that if Sudan takes the democratic path, Muslim Brotherhood that has dominated Sudanese politics will surge to take the elected leadership, as had happened in Egypt in 2011, and that would rekindle the clamour for democracy in his country too.

Alex de Waal at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University writing for the BBC assesses that “the cabal (that usurped power in Sudan) is aligned with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, Qatar and Turkey have lost out. The new leadership dissolved the ruling National Congress Party and reportedly arrested many veteran Muslim Brothers.”

“They are busy telling Western countries that the Islamists had planned a coup, which needed to be forestalled by the army takeover, and that the protesters demanding democracy are also Muslim Brothers in disguise. It’s not a very convincing story, but it points to future tensions because the Islamists still have a strong following in Sudan.”

Sadly, in the emergent “multipolar world order”, there are hardly any takers for democracy or the Arab Spring — except, arguably, Turkey, Qatar and Iran — especially if it smacks of political Islam The big powers feel cozy with dictatorships. On Wednesday, the US and Britain issued a statement effectively backing the pre-emptive military coup in Sudan. At a meeting with Sisi on April 9 (who was on an official visit to the US at the invitation of President Trump), US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked the dictator “for his leadership in advancing Egypt’s and the region’s security and stability, including through counterterrorism efforts and countering the Iranian regime’s malign influence.”

April 12, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sudan Debunks Netanyahu Boasts of ‘Normalization,’ Denies Airspace Access

Sputnik – 07.01.2019

In December 2018, the Israeli Prime Minister boasted that Israeli planes can freely fly through Sudan airspace thanks to a “normalization” of bilateral relations.

Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir announced Saturday that his administration has denied the use of country’s airspace for flights toward Israel, denouncing an earlier statement by Netanyahu that Israeli planes could fly over Sudan to South America.

A request to use Sudanese airspace did not come from Tel Aviv directly, however, coming instead from Kenya.

“We received a request to use our airspace on the route to Tel Aviv. The request did not come from El Al, but from Kenya Airways — we refused,” al-Bashir said in an interview with a local Sudanese television network. El Al is Israel’s largest airline and the flag carrier of the self-described Jewish state.

In December 2018, Netanyahu made a statement about Sudanese airspace, boasting how Israel has improved international ties with predominantly-Muslim countries. The statement was made after Netanyahu renewed diplomatic relations with Chad, which had been severed in 1972.

“At this time, we can overfly Egypt. We can overfly Chad, that has already been set. And to all appearances, we can also overfly this corner of Sudan,” he said, pointing to a map.

Neither Netanyahu nor a spokesman elaborated on when exactly Israeli planes would start using Sudanese airspace.

Speaking on Sudanese television, Omar al-Bashir said that Sudan “will not be the first nor the last to normalize relations with Israel.” Earlier on Thursday, al-Bashir said that he “has been advised” to normalize relation with the Jewish state.

The Sudanese president blamed the “Zionist lobby that controls Western countries,” for sanctions imposed on his nation, alleging that Tel Aviv has a plan to destroy its Arab neighbors, while pointing out that Israel has supported rebels fighting against the Sudanese government and is behind what the African described as an economic and diplomatic siege.

Al-Bashir also noted that the Israeli Air Force has bombed Khartoum, the nation’s capital, on two occasions in 2012 and 2014. Media outlets reported the attacks by Tel Aviv on military facilities in Khartoum, and Sudan has held Israel responsible for the attacks.

Israel, with diplomatic incentive from Washington DC, has recently been working on improving ties with Sunni Muslim countries, a bloc led by Saudi Arabia, over fears of a threat from Shiite-Muslim Iran.

Netanyahu personally visited Oman to promote an international railway project. In November 2018, the president of Chad visited Israel, for the first time in 46 years, after diplomatic ties were reestablished.

January 6, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Bashir: I was advised normalising relations with Israel will stabilise Sudan

MEMO | January 4, 2019

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir was advised to begin normalising relations with Israel in order to ensure stability in his country, Haaretz reported him saying yesterday.

Speaking during a meeting with religious leaders in the capital Khartoum yesterday, Al-Bashir did not specify who gave him the advice adding only that “sustenance is in the hand of God”.

Sudan is witnessing widespread protests triggered by a government decision to triple bread prices from one Sudanese pound ($0.02) to three Sudanese pounds ($0.063). Food prices have soared since the start of this year after the government stopped state-funded imports of wheat.

Sudan has been facing heightened economic uncertainty in recent years with an acute shortage of foreign currency resulting in the Sudanese pound plunging against the dollar. Despite the lifting of US economic sanctions last year, international banks have continued to be wary of doing business with financial institutions in the country.

In November reports surfaced that Israeli and Sudanese representatives held a secret meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2017 to discuss diplomatic relations in exchange for Israeli aid to Sudan.

According to a source, the parties discussed “the warming of relations between the countries and possible Israeli aid to Sudan in the fields of medicine, agriculture and the economy,” the Times of Israel reported.

The revelation came in the wake of rumours that Sudan and Israel were considering opening diplomatic relations. The senior leader of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party, Abdel Sakhi Abbas, was forced to deny claims that Netanyahu is due to visit Sudanese capital Khartoum. Abbas stressed: “It is impossible that Netanyahu visits Sudan. There is nothing to deal with such an official visit,” lambasting the rumours as “completely false”.

January 4, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | Leave a comment

Amid warming ties with Chad, Israel eyes normal ties with Sudan, other Africa states: Report

Press TV – November 26, 2018

Amid warming relations with Chad, Israel is reportedly working to normalize relations with Sudan and other African states as the regime steps up its push to strengthen its foothold in the continent.

A senior Israeli official told Channel 10 TV channel that a visit on Sunday by Chadian President Idriss Deby to the occupied territories was laying the groundwork for normal ties between Tel Aviv and the Muslim-majority African states of Sudan, Mali and Niger.

The unnamed official also noted that Israel was seeking to shorten flight times from the occupied territories to Latin America through normalizing relations with African countries.

Deby became the first Chadian leader to visit Israel on Sunday, 46 years after the two sides severed ties.

After meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Chadian president pledged a new era of cooperation with “the prospect of reestablishing diplomatic relations.”

Israeli media cited sources in N’Djamena as saying that Deby’s visit was focused on “security,” and that the regime in Tel Aviv had already been supplying weapons and other military equipment to Chad.

Netanyahu, however, declined to comment on potential Israeli weapons sales to Chad.

During his visit, Deby said the future resumption of ties with Israel “does not make us ignore the Palestinian issue.”

The Palestinians, however, protested Deby’s trip to Israel.

Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, voiced displeasure over the visit.

“All countries and institutions must boycott the extremist government of Israel and impose a siege on it because of its settlement activities, its occupation of Palestinian land,” Youssef was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Over the past two years, Netanyahu has traveled to several African states in a bid to end decades of hostility against the occupying entity and convince them to stop voting against the Israeli regime at the United Nations in favor of Palestinians.

According to Channel 10, Israeli is now in talks with Sudan in a bid to improve relations with the African state.

The Israeli push comes almost two years after Sudan joined Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in cutting relations with Iran.

At that time, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Tel Aviv had urged the US and other countries to improve their relationship with Sudan in response.

In a 2016, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said Khartoum was open to the idea of normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for lifting US sanctions.

Israel is also said to be seeking to take advantage of the insurgency and Takfiri militancy gripping parts of Africa to sell advanced military equipment to conflict-ridden states in the continent.

Israel in contact with Persian Gulf Arab states

Meanwhile, reports have emerged recently of Israel’s attempts to make its secret ties with Persian Gulf Arab governments public and establish formal relations with them.

On Sunday, Israeli news sites reported that Tel Aviv is working to normalize ties with Bahrain, hours after Netanyahu hinted he would soon travel to unspecified Arab states.

Israeli Economy Minister Eli Cohen said on Monday he had been invited to attend a conference next year in Bahrain.

Netanyahu met with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos in Muscat last month, but the controversial visit was kept secret until after the Israeli premier returned to the occupied territories.

The visit to Muscat was the first by an Israeli prime minister since 1996.

On Sunday, Israel’s Hadashot television news reported that Netanyahu had secured reassurances from Oman that airlines flying to and from the occupied territories would be permitted to fly over the kingdom’s airspace.

Activists with a pro-Palestine boycott campaign against Israel said Monday that the meeting between Sultan Qaboos and Netanyahu may have breached a long-dormant Israeli boycott law.

“Since 1977, official records stopped mentioning the Law of Boycotting Israel, neither denying it nor confirming it,” an Omani activist with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement told the Middle East Eye news portal.

“This happened when the country took a neutral policy in foreign affairs, including accepting normalizing ties with the Zionist entity,” the activist added.

Another activist said several prominent activists had been arrested shortly before the Israeli prime minister’s visit to Muscat for pro-Palestinian posts on social media, adding, however, that they were freed after disassociating themselves from BDS Oman.

“There is no clear legal path of how to implement the law. But even discussing this topic is a risky business, because there is no political free speech,” he said.

The activist also noted that BDS Oman had sent its “sincerest apologies” to the Palestinian people after a visit by “criminal” Netanyahu.

November 26, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

French bank pays huge US fine for doing business in Cuba, Iran

RT | November 20, 2018

Societe Generale has agreed to pay $1.34 billion to US federal and state authorities to settle a pending legal dispute over violations of US trade sanctions against Iran and other countries.

One of France’s largest banks has also pledged to pay $95 million to resolve another dispute over violations of anti-money laundering regulations.

“We acknowledge and regret the shortcomings that were identified in these settlements, and have cooperated with the US authorities to resolve these matters,” the group CEO Frederic Oudea said in a statement.

“These resolutions, following on the heels of the resolution of other investigations earlier this year, allow the bank to close a chapter on our most important historical disputes.”

The bank, informally known as SocGen, reportedly violated the Trading with the Enemy Act by illegally transferring billions of dollars to partners registered or located in countries targeted by US embargos, including Iran, Sudan, Cuba and Libya.

The banking giant said the settlement wouldn’t have an extra impact on its results for the current financial year. SocGen had previously agreed to $1.3 billion (€1.14 billion) in the US and France to settle investigations over transactions with Libya, and over the suspected rigging of Libor, a benchmark rate tied to finance products and debts. Last year, the bank had paid €963 million ($1.1 billion) over another dispute with the Libyan Investment Authority.

According to the Manhattan US Attorney’s office, the latest fine imposed on SocGen is the second biggest financial penalty issued on a bank for breaching US sanctions. In 2015, French international banking group BNP Paribas agreed to pay $8.9 billion to settle a probe on sanctions violations.

November 20, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Israel to occupy Africa

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets people during his arrival at James Spriggs Payne Airport in Monrovia, Liberia on 4 June 2017 [Prime Ministry of Israel/Anadolu Agency]
By Helmi Al-Asmar | Al-Araby Al-Jadeed* | August 10, 2017

With the exception of the popular efforts made by the Conference for Palestinians Abroad to hinder the rabid Israeli efforts to hold a major conference next October entitled the Israeli-African Summit in Togo, we have barely seen any official or popular Arab efforts in this direction. This is despite the great danger posed by convening such a summit, which Israel has been laying the foundations for for several years, in light of the almost complete absence of the Arabs, which is an unprecedented development in Israel’s tireless efforts to bypass the wide wall of isolation and moral rejection it faces in Africa. It aims to present itself as a trusted partner for the continent’s nations.

The Conference for Palestinians Abroad viewed this summit, rightly so, as an insult to the struggles of the African nations and a disregard for their generations’ fair fight for liberation from colonisation and racism. It is also an attempt on the occupation government’s part to portray itself as a trusted partner for the African countries in order to fabricate its reality. It is not coming to Africa in order to spread love and unity, but instead aims to make Africa a market for the lethal products it produces and a place to export its mercenaries to help the dictators of the continent.

This is despite the fact that the African nations’ true interests and their efforts towards sustainable development, prosperity and growth do not align with the colonial racist occupation government in Palestine, given its record of hostility and terrorism. This is documented by several international and independent reports, including the ESCWA report regarding the escalations of the Israeli apartheid policies issued this year.

In addition to this, Israel, which commits war crimes, mass killings, flagrant violations and intimidation methods, as well as confiscates the Palestinian people’s land and resources and sponsors illegal extremist settler gangs, does not have the right to be a partner to developing nations seeking advancement, prosperity and the combat of terrorism.

The efforts of the Conference for Palestinians Abroad are focused on mobilising governments, official and popular institutions, parties, civil society organisations, public figures, community leaders and the media across Africa and the entire world, in order to rally the efforts against the Israeli government’s actions. These actions are an attempt on Israel’s part to promote itself in the continent in a misleading manner, ignoring the principles of justice, the peoples’ rights and international laws and conventions. The conference summoned its efforts and began taking action, contacting concerned parties, especially the influential forces in the African nations in order to confront Israel’s attempts of exploitation and deception.

These are commendable efforts but of course they are not enough to stop this hateful and racist emergence in Africa. Putting an end to the conference is the duty of all African countries, organisations, committees, and people specifically, and generally the duty of the Arab and Muslim countries. This is because Israel’s presence in the continent will not be in the best interest of the African people, but rather in Israel’s interest as it exports death, mercenaries and tyranny to all the countries of the world. It also supports the totalitarian regimes that commit the ugliest forms of aggression, looting and pillage. Therefore, resisting this conference and sabotaging it by all means available is the duty of all nations on Earth.

It is worth mentioning in this regard that the only Arab action against the convention of this summit was by the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, during his visit to Khartoum in July 2016. In his meeting with Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, Abbas raised the issue of developing the Arab strategy in the African continent and cooperating in order to stop Israel’s attempts to achieve a breakthrough in Africa.

We do not expect Sudan or the PA to do anything now, as it is too late and their political/diplomatic capabilities are limited. Moreover, their problems and misfortunes are too many to count, according to the former Egyptian Ambassador to Angola, Sao Tome and Niger, Belal Al-Masry, who, in an important article published on the Democratic Arab Centre website, listed five reasons why the Israeli summit in Africa is dangerous. These points should be considered and reflected upon, the most important of which is the fact that the conference’s purpose is to restore and develop the African voting bloc in order to use it to support Israel’s international status.

Israel views the countries of the African continent as a voting bloc consisting of at least 50 votes. This was confirmed by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seven African leaders with whom he met in Rwanda in July 2016. He also reiterated this in his speech to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Summit in Monrovia in June 2017. Hence, his statement regarding Israel having a bright future in the UN during his speech before the UN General Assembly at its regular session in September 2016, wasn’t too far from the truth. He also stated that his main diplomatic goal was to stop the African states from automatically voting against Israel at the UN and that the day he would achieve this isn’t too far. Therefore, holding the Israeli summit in Africa will mark the end of the Egyptian and Arab role, in general, in Africa and Israel will join the international forces competing for influence in the African continent. These countries include China, the United States, France, India, Russia, Iran and recently, Turkey.

It is not an overstatement to say that the Israeli conference in Togo will pave the way for Israel to reoccupy Africa, or at least a large part of it, politically, economically and militarily. This will further strengthen Israel’s international and regional standing and increase the suffering of the Palestinian people, who are paying the price for the fragmentation of the Arab system and their preoccupation with resisting the effects of the Arab Spring revolutions.

*Translation by MEMO

August 11, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Essential context about Trump’s refugee ban – Made in Israel

By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | February 4, 2017

President Trump has issued an executive order suspending entry to the U.S for people from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, and Yemen (the order is called “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”). These same countries were the focus of the “Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015” under President Obama.

While reports on Trump’s ban emphasize that these are Muslim majority countries, analysts seem to have ignored another significant characteristic that these countries share.

With just a single exception, all of these countries were targeted for attack by certain top U.S. officials in 2001. In fact, that policy had roots that went back to 1996, 1991, 1980, and even the 1950s. Below, we will trace this policy back in time and examine its goals and proponents.

The fact is that Trump’s action continues policies influenced by people working on behalf of a foreign country, whose goal has been to destabilize and reshape an entire region. This kind of aggressive interventionism focused on “regime change” launches cascading effects that include escalating violence.

Already we’ve seen devastating wars, massive refugee movement that is uprooting entire peoples and reshaping parts of Europe, desperate and horrific terrorism, and now the horror that is ISIS. If this decades-long effort is not halted, it will be increasingly devastating for the region, our country, and the entire world.

2001 Policy Coup

Four-star general Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander, has described what he called a 2001 “policy coup” by a small group of people intent on destabilizing and taking over the Middle East, targeting six of the seven countries mentioned by Obama and Trump.

Clark gave the details in 2007 in an interview broadcast by Democracy Now and in a lecture at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.

Clark described a chance meeting in the Pentagon in 2001 ten days after 911 in which he learned about the plan to take down these countries.

After meeting with then-Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Clark went downstairs to say hello to people on the Joint Staff who had worked for him in the past. One of the generals called him in.

‘Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” He told Clark, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.”

Clark was shocked. He said, “We’re going to war against Iraq? Why?” The officer said he didn’t know. Clark asked if they had found information connecting Saddam to Al-Qaeda. The man said, “No, no, there’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.”

A few weeks later, Clark went back to the Pentagon and spoke to the general again. He asked whether the U.S. was still planning to go to war against Iraq.

The general replied: “Oh, it’s worse than that.” Clark says that the general picked up a piece of paper and said, “I just got this down from upstairs today. This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”

Clark asked, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.”

Clark said he was stunned: “I couldn’t believe it would really be true. But that’s actually what happened. These people took control of the policy of the United States.”

1991

Clark says he then remembered a 1991 meeting he had with Paul Wolfowitz. In 2001 Wolfowitz was Deputy Secretary of Defense, and in 1991 he was Under Secretary of Defense of Policy, the number three position at the Pentagon.

Wolfowitz is a pro-Israel neoconservative who an associate has called “over the top when it comes to Israel.”

Clark describes going to Wolfowitz’s office in March of 1991. Clark said to Wolfowitz, “You must be pretty happy with the performance of the troops in Desert Storm.” Clark says Wolfowitz replied, “Not really, because the truth is we should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein, and we didn’t.”

Wolfowitz declared the U.S. had an opportunity to clean up “Syria, Iran, Iraq, before the next super power came on to challenge us.”

Clark says he was shocked at Wolfowitz’s proposal that the military should initiate wars and change governments, and that Wolfowitz believed that the U.S. should invade countries whose governments it disliked. “My mind was spinning.”

Clark says Scooter Libby was at that meeting. Libby is another pro-Israel neoconservative. In 2001 He was Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, and worked closely with the Office of Special Plans, which manufactured anti-Iraq talking points.

“This country was taken over by a group of people with a policy coup,” Clark said in his 2007 lecture. “Wolfowitz, Rumsfield, Cheney, and you could name a half dozen other collaborators from the Project for a New American Century. They wanted us to destabilize the Middle East, turn it upside down, make it under our control.”

(The Project for a New American Century was a think tank that operated from 1997-2006, and was replaced by the Foreign Policy Initiative.)

Clark continued: “Did they ever tell you this? Was there a national dialogue on this? Did Senators and Congressmen stand up and denounce this plan? Was there a full-fledged American debate on it? Absolutely not. And there still isn’t.”

Clark noted that Iran and Syria know about the plan. “All you have to do is read the Weekly Standard and listen to Bill Kristol, and he blabbermouths it all over the world – Richard Perle is the same way. They could hardly wait to finish Iraq so they could move into Syria.”

Clark says that Americans did not vote George Bush into office to do this. Bush, Clark pointed out, had campaigned on “a humble foreign policy, no ‘peace keeping,’ no ‘nation building.’”

Others have described this group, their responsibility for pushing the invasion of Iraq, and their pro-Israel motivation.

Neoconservatives, Israel, and Iraq

A 2003 article in Ha’aretz, one of Israel’s main newspapers, reported bluntly: “The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history.” (Ha’aretz often highlights the Jewish affiliation of important players due to its role as a top newspaper of the self-declared “Jewish State.”)

It gave what it termed “a partial list” of these neoconservatives: U.S. government officials Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Eliot Abrams, and journalists William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer. The article described them as “mutual friends who cultivate one another.”

The article included an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who was quoted as saying:

“It’s the war the neoconservatives wanted. It’s the war the neoconservatives marketed. Those people had an idea to sell when September 11 came, and they sold it. Oh boy, did they sell it. So this is not a war that the masses demanded. This is a war of an elite.”

The article continued:

“Friedman laughs: ‘I could give you the names of 25 people (all of whom are at this moment within a five-block radius of this office) who, if you had exiled them to a desert island a year and a half ago, the Iraq war would not have happened.’”

Another Ha’aretz article described how some of these individuals, high American officials, gave Israeli leaders tips on how to manage American actions and influence US Congressmen, concluding: “Perle, Feith, and their fellow strategists are walking a fine line between their loyalty to American governments and Israeli interests.”

Ha’aretz reported that the goal was far more than just an invasion of Iraq: “at a deeper level it is a greater war, for the shaping of a new Middle East.” The article said that the war “was being fought to consolidate a new world order.”

“The Iraq war is really the beginning of a gigantic historical experiment…”

We’re now seeing the tragic and violent result of that regime-change experiment.

American author, peace activist, and former CIA analyst Kathleen Christison discussed the neoconservatives who promoted war against Iraq in a 2002 article. She wrote: “Although much has been written about the neo-cons who dot the Bush administration, their ties to Israel have generally been treated very gingerly.”

The Bush administration, she wrote, was “peppered with people who have long records of activism on behalf of Israel in the United States, of policy advocacy in Israel, and of promoting an agenda for Israel often at odds with existing U.S. policy.”

“These people,” she wrote, “who can fairly be called Israeli loyalists, are now at all levels of government, from desk officers at the Defense Department to the deputy secretary level at both State and Defense, as well as on the National Security Council staff and in the vice president’s office.”

Author Stephen Green wrote a meticulously researched 2004 expose describing how some of these individuals, including Perle and Wolfowitz, had been investigated through the years by U.S. intelligence agencies for security “lapses” benefiting Israel.

Yet, despite a pattern of highly questionable actions suggestive of treason, they continued to procure top security clearances for themselves and cronies. The neocon agenda also became influential in Britain.

(During the recent U.S. presidential election, neoconservatives were extremely hostile to Trump, and have been perturbed to have less influence in his administration they they expected to have with Hillary Clinton. They may be relieved to see him targeting their pet punching bags in the Middle East. It’s unclear whether neoconservatives will remain outside the White House’s inner circle for long: neocon Michael Ledeen is quite close to Trump’s recently named White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. And there is talk that Trump may appoint Elliott Abrams as Deputy Secretary of State.)

1996 plan against Iraq and Syria

The neocon regime-change strategy had been laid out in a 1996 document called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” It was written for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a study group led by Richard Perle. Although Perle and the other authors were American citizens, the “realm” in question was Israel.

Perle was chairman of the United States Defense Policy Board at that time. He had previously been U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy.

The report stated that in the past, Israel’s strategy was to get the U.S. to use its money and weaponry to “lure Arabs” to negotiate. This strategy, the plan stated, “required funneling American money to repressive and aggressive regimes.”

The report recommended, however, that Israel go beyond a strategy just focused on Israel-Palestine, and address the larger region – that it “shape its strategic environment.”

It called for “weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria” and “removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.” The paper also listed Iran and Lebanon as countries to be dealt with (and Turkey and Jordan as nations to be used in the strategy).

The plan stressed that it was necessary to obtain U.S. support for the strategy, and advised that Israel use “language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the cold war … .”

Perle, Douglas Feith (who would be Deputy Under Secretary of Defense by 2001) and the other signatories of the report framed their proposal as a new concept, but the idea for Israel to reshape the political landscape of the Middle East had been discussed for years. (Lest we be unclear, “reshape the political landscape” means to change governments, something that has never been accomplished without massive loss of life and far-reaching repercussions.)

In 1992 Israeli leaders were already working to indoctrinate the public about an alleged need to attack Iran. Israeli analyst Israel Shahak wrote in his book Open Secrets that the goal would be “to bring about Iran’s total military and political defeat.”

Shahak reported: “In one version, Israel would attack Iran alone, in another it would ‘persuade’ the West to do the job. The indoctrination campaign to this effect is gaining in intensity. It is accompanied by what could be called semi-official horror scenarios purporting to detail what Iran could do to Israel, the West and the entire world when it acquires nuclear weapons as it is expected to a few years hence.”

1982 & 1950s Israeli plans to fragment the Middle East

A document called “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties,” proposed by Israeli analyst Oded Yinon, was published by the World Zionist Organization in 1982.

The document, translated by Israel Shahak, called for the dissolution of existing Arab states into smaller states which would, in effect, become Israel’s satellites.

In an analysis of the plan, Shahak pointed out: “[W]hile lip service is paid to the idea of the ‘defense of the West’ from Soviet power, the real aim of the author, and of the present Israeli establishment is clear: To make an Imperial Israel into a world power.”

Shahak noted that Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon planned “to deceive the Americans after he has deceived all the rest.”

Shahak wrote that reshaping the Middle East on behalf of Israel had been discussed since the 1950s: “This is not a new idea, nor does it surface for the first time in Zionist strategic thinking. Indeed, fragmenting all Arab states into smaller units has been a recurrent theme.”

As Shahak pointed out, this strategy was documented in a book called Israel’s Sacred Terrorism (1980), by Livia Rokach. Drawing on the memoirs of the second Prime Minister of Israel, Rokach’s book described, among other things, a 1954 proposal to execute regime change in Lebanon.

The result

Returning to the present, let’s examine the situation in the “countries of concern” named by President Trump last week, by President Obama in 2015, and targeted by Wolfowitz et al in 2001.

Several years ago, journalist Glenn Greenwald commented on General Clark’s statement about the 2001 policy coup: “If you go down that list of seven countries that he said the neocons had planned to basically change the governments of, you pretty much see that vision… being fulfilled.”

Greenwald noted that the governments of Iraq, Libya, and Lebanon had been changed; the U.S. had escalated its proxy fighting and drone attacks in Somalia; U.S. troops were deployed in Sudan; “and the most important countries on that list, Iran and Syria, are clearly the target of all sorts of covert regime change efforts on the part of the United States and Israel.”

Below are sketches of what’s happened:

Iraq was invaded and the country destroyed. According to a 2015 NGO report, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq had led to the deaths of approximately 1 million Iraqis – 5 percent of the total population of the country – by 2011. More than three million Iraqis are internally displaced, and the carnage continues. The destruction of Iraq and impoverishment of its people is at the root of much of today’s extremism and it’s been demonstrated that it led to the rise of ISIS, as admitted by former British Prime Minister and Iraq war co-perpetrator Tony Blair.

Libya was invaded in 2011 and its leader violently overthrown; in the post-Gaddafi power vacuum, a 2011 UN report revealed torture, lynchings and abuse. Five years on, the country was still torn by civil war and ISIS is reportedly expanding into the chaos. A 2016 Human Rights Watch report stated: “Libya’s political and security crisis deepened … the country edged towards a humanitarian crisis, with almost 400,000 people internally displaced.” Warring forces “continued with impunity to arbitrarily detain, torture, unlawfully kill, indiscriminately attack, abduct and disappear, and forcefully displace people from their homes. The domestic criminal justice system collapsed in most parts of the country, exacerbating the human rights crisis.” [Photos here]

Sudan: The U.S. engaged in so-called “nation-building” in Sudan, advanced the claim in 2005 that the government was perpetrating a genocide, and some U.S. players ultimately organized the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011. (Neocon Israel partisan Elliott Abrams was one of these players.) One journalist reported the result: “[A]n abyss of unspeakable misery and bloodshed … . Tens of thousands have been killed, 1.5 million have been displaced, and 5 million are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.”

Somalia: There have been a number of U.S. interventions in Somalia, most recently a clandestine war under Obama using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies; Somali extremists, like others, repeatedly cite Israel’s crimes against Palestinians, enabled by the U.S., as motivators of their violent extremism.

Iran: Iran has long been targeted by Israel, and Israel partisans have driven the anti-Iran campaign in the U.S. Most recently there has been a public relations effort claiming that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies and other experts do not support these accusations. Israel and the U.S. deployed a computer virus against Iran in what has been called the world’s first digital weapon.  Young Iranian nuclear physicists have been assassinated by U.S. ally Israel, and the U.S. instituted a blockade against Iran that caused food insecurity and mass suffering among the country’s civilians. (Such a blockade can be seen as an act of war.) Democratic Congressman and Israel partisan Brad Sherman admitted the objective of the Iran sanctions: “Critics of sanctions argue that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.”

Yemen: The US has launched drone strikes against Yemen for years, killing numerous Yemeni civilians and even some Americans. In 2010, a few weeks after Obama won the Nobel Peace Prizehe had the military use cluster bombs that killed 35 Yemeni women and children. The Obama administration killed a 16-year-old American in 2011, and a few days ago U.S. forces under Trump killed the boy’s sister. In 2014 American forces attacked a wedding procession, and in 2015 the Obama administration admitted it was making war on Yemen. Today over two million Yemeni children suffer from malnutrition. The Yemeni regime that we’re attacking became politically active in 2003 as a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Syria: In an email revealed by Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton wrote that the “best way to help Israel” was to overthrow the Syrian regime.

Syria seems to be a poster child for the destruction recommended by Israeli strategists. As the UK Guardian reported in 2002: “Disorder and chaos sweeping through the region would not be an unfortunate side-effect of war with Iraq, but a sign that everything is going according to plan.”

Half the Syrian population is displaced – 5 million have fled the country and another 6 million are internally displaced – and over 300,000 are dead from the violence. Major cities and ancient sites are in ruins and the countryside devastated. Amnesty International calls it “the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.”

While the uprising against a ruthless dictator was no doubt begun by authentic Syrian rebels, others with questionable agendas flowed in, some supported by the U.S. and Israel. Israel’s military intelligence chief said Israel does not want ISIS defeated. Israel’s defense minister has admitted that Israel has provided aid to ISIS fighters.

ISIS

A major factor in Syria’s chaos and the rise of ISIS was the destruction of Iraq, as revealed by in-depth interviews with ISIS fighters by researchers for Artis International, a consortium for scientific study in the service of conflict resolution:

“Many assume that these fighters are motivated by a belief in the Islamic State… but this just doesn’t hold for the prisoners we are interviewing. They are woefully ignorant about Islam and have difficulty answering questions about Sharia law, militant jihad, and the caliphate.”

“More pertinent than Islamic theology is that there are other, much more convincing, explanations as to why they’ve fought for the side they did.”

One interviewee said: “The Americans came. They took away Saddam, but they also took away our security. I didn’t like Saddam, we were starving then, but at least we didn’t have war. When you came here, the civil war started.”

The report noted that the fighters “came of age under the disastrous American occupation after 2003.”

“They are children of the occupation, many with missing fathers at crucial periods (through jail, death from execution, or fighting in the insurgency), filled with rage against America and their own government. They are not fueled by the idea of an Islamic caliphate without borders; rather, ISIS is the first group since the crushed Al Qaeda to offer these humiliated and enraged young men a way to defend their dignity, family, and tribe.”

The leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was imprisoned for eight months in the infamous Abu Ghraib, a U.S.-run Iraqi prison known for grotesque torture of prisoners. Photos published at that time show U.S. soldiers smiling next to piles of naked prisoners and a hooded detainee standing on a narrow box with electrical wires attached to his outstretched hands.

An Abu Ghraib interrogator later revealed that Israelis trained them in the use of techniques used against Palestinians. General Janis Karpinski (in charge of the unit that ran the prison) and others say that Israelis were involved in interrogations. It was reported that the head of the defense contracting firm implicated in the torture at Abu Ghraib prison had close ties to Israel and had visited an Israeli training camp in the West Bank.

Another major factor in the rise of anti-Western extremism is the largely unconditional support for Israel’s violent oppression of Palestinians. As a UN report documented, “The scale of human loss and destruction in Gaza during the 2014 conflict was catastrophic and has … shocked and shamed the world.”

Professor John Mearsheimer of and Professor Stephen Walt of Harvard have written that U.S. policies promoted by the Israel lobby have given “extremists a powerful recruiting tool, increases the pool of potential terrorists and sympathizers, and contributes to Islamic radicalism around the world.” Osama Bin Laden cited U.S. support for Israeli crimes against Palestinians among his reasons for fighting the U.S. The U.S. gives Israel over $10 million per day.

Reaction to the Trump executive order

Thousands of people across the U.S. have opposed Trump’s order for the extreme hardship it imposes on multitudes of refugees. The focus on Muslims (Trump has said that Christians might be exempted) has caused outrage at such religious discrimination and unfair profiling (the large majority of Muslims strongly oppose extremism).

Individuals across the political spectrum from Code Pink to the Koch brothers have decried the order. The Kochs issued a strong statement against it:

“We believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families. The travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive. Our country has benefited tremendously from a history of welcoming people from all cultures and backgrounds. This is a hallmark of free and open societies.”

New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who supported the Iraq War and suggests God sent him to guard Israel, choked back tears at a press conference and called the order “mean-spirited and un-American.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), known for its fervent pro-Israel advocacy (and history of smearing criticism of Israeli policy as “anti-Semitism”), has vowed a “relentless fight” against the ban.

Some are concerned that Trump’s action will stoke terrorism, rather than defend against it. Many others support the order in the belief it makes them safer from extremist violence. (As mentioned above, the Obama administration undertook a similar, though milder, action for a similar reason.)

I suggest that everyone – both those who deplore the order for humanitarian reasons, and those who defend it out of concern for Americans’ safety – examine the historic context outlined above and the U.S. policies that led to this order.

For decades, Democratic and Republican administrations have enacted largely parallel policies regarding the Middle East and Israel-Palestine. We are seeing the results, and most of us are deeply displeased.

I would submit that both for humanitarian obligations and for security necessities, it is urgent that we find a different way forward.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel

February 9, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments