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Walter Jones and the Vote to End US War on Yemen

By Ron Paul | February 18, 2019

In a fitting legacy for my friend Walter Jones, Jr. who passed away last week, the US House made history by voting in favor of H.J.Res. 37, a resolution “Directing the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.” As George O’Neill wrote in the American Conservative magazine this week, the historic 248-177 victory for a bill demanding the end of the US participation in the nearly five year Saudi war of aggression “reflects how many hearts and minds were influenced by the late Congressman’s tireless efforts.”

Walter Jones did not care who controlled Congress. He was happy to join forces with any Member to end the senseless US global military empire, which sends thousands of young men and women off to patrol foreign borders, overthrow foreign governments, and needlessly put themselves at risk in missions that have nothing to do with the safety and security of the United States.

US participation in the Saudi war on Yemen is a classic example of the abuse of the US military that made Walter Jones most angry. When the Saudis decided in 2015 that they wanted their puppet to be Yemen’s president, they launched a brutal and inhuman war that many call the worst humanitarian disaster of our time. Millions face starvation as Saudi bombs and US sanctions combine to create a hell on earth that is unrelated in any way to US national security.

Why this ongoing support for Saudi death and destruction in Yemen? Washington’s neocons have successfully promoted the lie that the Saudi attack on Yemen is all about preventing Iran from gaining more strength in the Middle East. Ironically it was the neocon-backed US attack on Iraq in 2003 that provided the biggest boost for Iranian influence in the region. Now, after Iraq’s “liberation,” Baghdad’s ties to Tehran are closer than ever.

Meanwhile, who exactly are we supporting in Yemen? Even CNN, normally a big backer of US military actions overseas, has noticed something funny about US participation in the Saudi war on Yemen. As a CNN investigation found this month, “Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners have transferred American-made weapons to al Qaeda-linked fighters, hardline Salafi militias, and other factions waging war in Yemen, in violation of their agreements with the United States.” Does that sound like we are on the side of the “good guys” in this battle? We are helping the Saudis arm al-Qaeda? Is this really a smart move?

So we should be encouraged that Walter Jones’ legacy is being honored in the House vote to end the US participation in the Yemen war. While US “humanitarian” aid is being used as a weapon for regime change in Venezuela, the warmongers in Washington have never lifted a finger to help those suffering from a real genocide in Yemen.

If the Yemen War Powers resolution passes the Senate, which is likely, Congress will have provoked the first veto from President Trump. Such a veto should not discourage us. Even the strongest army cannot stop an idea whose time has come. Ending senseless US wars is an idea whose time has come. We can thank Walter Jones for his role in making it so.

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Israel training mercenaries for Yemen war in UAE camps in Negev: Haaretz

Press TV – February 16, 2019

Israel’s leading daily Haaretz says Tel Aviv is a partner to the Saudi war on Yemen and is “reaping the profits” from its partnership in the brutal aggression.

Haaretz revealed that Israeli officers are training foreign mercenaries, led by the Colombians and Nepalese, in UAE-funded camps situated in the Negev Desert.

Quoting sources in a US House Intelligence Committee, the report said the mercenaries have been recruited by Mohammed Dahlan, security adviser to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Dahlan had “visited these camps on more than one occasion to check the progress of preparations and training received by mercenaries, under the personal supervision of the Israeli occupation army officers,” the report said.

The mercenaries, it added, later took part in the Saudi offensive against the port city of Hudaydah and other conflict zones in Yemen.

American sources were cited as saying that Israel has also sold bombs and missiles to Saudi Arabia, some of which are banned.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE launched the devastating military campaign against Yemen to bring the Riyadh-backed former government back to power. The invaders have, however, failed to achieve their objective in the face of Yemeni resistance.

“Israeli cyber companies, gun traders, terror-warfare instructors and even paid hit men operated by an Israeli-owned company are partners to the war in Yemen,” Haaretz said.

It further cited reports suggesting Israeli companies’ relations with Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Israeli software firm NSO Group is suspected of selling Riyadh Pegasus spyware accused of helping trace Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed by a hit squad inside kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last October.

Security firm AGT International, which is owned by an Israeli businessman, won in 2007 a $6 billion bid to set up surveillance systems in Abu Dhabi.

Spearhead Operations Group, another company set up by Israeli Avraham Golan, is also responsible for assassinations in Yemen.

Last October, Golan told BuzzFeed media company that there was a plan for targeted assassinations in Yemen. “I ran it. We did it. The plan was under the UAE auspices as part of the Arab coalition,” he said.

Haaretz also referred to some reports that say Israel has sold Saudi Arabia combat drones and intends to sell the kingdom Iron Dome missile systems following US-mediated secret meetings in Washington.

Israel has recently been working behind the scenes to establish formal contact with Saudi Arabia and its allies.

Critics say Saudi Arabia’s flirtation with Israel will undermine global efforts to isolate Tel Aviv and harm the Palestinian cause.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

With 3.8 Million Yemenis Displaced Last Year, New Report Shows Country’s Crisis Growing Worse

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | February 11, 2019

SANA’A, YEMEN — A report from the Sana’a-based Yemeni government has revealed that the conflict in Yemen — sometimes called the “Forgotten War,” owing to sparse international media coverage — continues to grow more dire with each passing day.

Among the report’s most troubling findings are the staggering number of people who were displaced by fighting last year, with 3.8 million people forced to flee their homes, many of them from the still-besieged port of Hodeida, over the course of 2018. Many of these refugees have sought refuge in or near the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, whose international airport remains under blockade from the Saudi Arabia-led and U.S.-supported coalition.

Another highly troubling aspect of the situation in Yemen, as revealed by this recently released report, is the continued closure of key food warehouses – including those controlled by the World Food Program and the World Health Organization – that are storing food for as many 3.5 million people. While these facilities remain closed, an estimated 18 million Yemenis face severe food insecurity and starvation, including 5 million children. Worse still, the report noted that the Saudi-led coalition bombed four such food warehouses in addition to two trucks carrying food aid, just during the month of December.

The statistics released by the government in Sana’a also reveal the continuation of the Saudi-led coalition’s targeting of critical civilian infrastructure, such as farms and water pumps. According to government figures, during December 2018, the coalition razed 94 farms and damaged another 128 while destroying 68 water pumps and water storage tanks. One hundred and thirty two livestock were also killed by coalition bombs. The U.S. military intelligence has been “fine tuning” the coalition’s airstrike target list since last June, making the U.S. complicit in these crimes against Yemeni civilians.

A graphic from the report shows Dec. 2018, targets of the Saudi Coalition in Yemen

What ceasefire?

These figures corroborate the findings of Martha Mundy, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the London School of Economics, who recently published a report that asserted that the coalition sought to halt Yemen’s remaining food production as well as its food distribution capacity. This claim is also supported by the fact that, despite the coalition publicly claiming that it has “lifted” the naval blockade of Yemen, 90 percent of importers cannot bring goods into the port of Hodeida, through which the majority of Yemen’s imported food and essential goods passes.

The coalition has justified its targeting of critical food production and water sanitation infrastructure by claiming that Yemeni resistance fighters were hiding weapons in those areas, but have never provided evidence of weapons being found in targeted installations.

The report also notes that the bombing campaign targeting Yemen continues to result in a dizzying number of airstrikes, with a total of 1,509 airstrikes in resistance-held Yemen during last December. The government in Sana’a had previously stated that Yemen, over the course of last year, suffered over 52,000 attacks — including airstrikes, naval bombardments and artillery operations, as well as an average of 50 airstrikes per day.

However, what makes the December figure so striking is the fact that “peace negotiations” took place early on in that month, which ostensibly led to a ceasefire that the Saudi coalition went on to violate over 800 times. During the month of peace negotiations and alleged ceasefire, 61 civilians were killed by coalition attacks, including 15 children. Another 109 civilians were wounded and 2,293 civilian homes — many likely unoccupied, with their former residents now displaced refugees — were destroyed or severely damaged.

While many continue to hope for a swift and peaceful outcome to the atrocious and genocidal war against Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition’s choice to continue raining bombs down on key civilian infrastructure — specifically areas involved in food production during a time of unprecedented famine — shows that these powerful governments and their allies remain determined, in their pursuit of regional geopolitical dominance, to push the Yemeni people to the brink of annihilation by starvation, preventable disease and bombs.

Read | The December 2018 Report on the Situation in the Republic of Yemen

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and has contributed to several other independent, alternative outlets. Her work has appeared on sites such as Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire among others. She also makes guest appearances to discuss politics on radio and television. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

February 11, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Yemen: Hodeida Truce in New Hands as UN Replaces Biased and Ineffective Monitor

By Ahmed Abdulkareem – MintPress News – February 5, 2019

SANA’A, YEMEN — The newly-appointed head of the United Nations mission to monitor Yemen’s truce agreement between the Houthis and the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition, Danish Lt. Gen. Michael Anker Lollesgaard, arrived in Yemen’s capital Sana’a on Tuesday, along with a five-member team, to assume his duty in the country’s Red Sea port city of Hodeida. Lollesgaard succeeds retired Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert.

The development comes after MintPress News revealed on January 24 that the United Nations promised to replace Cammaert, who was leading a UN joint committee tasked with overseeing the truce in Hodeida, a conduit for the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid. The replacement of the joint committee’s head was promised in order to save the fragile truce after the Houthis accused Cammaert of pursuing an agenda favoring the Saudi-led coalition, according to a high-ranking Houthi official.

Prior to his replacement, the Houthis boycotted a meeting chaired by Cammaert in Hodeida, accusing him of pushing the Saudi coalition’s agenda after he requested that Houthi forces withdraw eight kilometers outside of Hodeida while asking Saudi coalition forces to withdraw only half a kilometer — giving the coalition an opportunity to quickly occupy Hodeida unopposed, according to a source in the negotiating committee.

In an attempt not to portray the change as a victory for the Houthis, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who announced Lollesgaard’s appointment on January 31, said Cammaert was on a temporary one-month contract and did not resign. However, the decision to appoint a new monitoring chief in Yemen’s key port may give UN envoy Martin Griffiths a chance to succeed, according to observers who spoke to MintPress.

Monday on a UN-hired ship off Hodeida, Cammaert held his final meeting between the Houthis and coalition representatives in an effort to end a month-long stalemate over the implementation of a mutual troop withdrawal from the port city.

Yemenis still see the agreements reached in Sweden as the best chance yet of ending the Saudi war against the poorest country the Middle East, a war that has killed thousands of people since it began in 2015 and pushed 14 million to the brink of famine, according to the United Nations.

In the view of Yemeni analysts who spoke to MintPress, if Saudi Arabia persists in its behavior, no UN envoy or monitor will be able to help reach a peace agreement in Yemen; and, without pressure on the Kingdom, the UN will go on playing a feeble role. Accordingly, the replacement of the head of the UN monitoring mission is regarded as effectively meaningless by many Yemenis.

The Saudi-led coalition appears willing to commit to war as a solution and further fighting will give rise to more disease, famine, and lack of access to humanitarian aid and food commodities. The repercussions will be fast and conspicuous across Yemen.

“Hanging in the balance”

Representatives of the Saudi coalition and the Houthis met in Jordan on Tuesday for a new round of UN-brokered talks on a troubled prisoner-swap deal that was initially agreed on in Stockholm last December. UN envoy Griffiths said the new talks aim to finalize the lists of prisoners and detainees to be released or exchanged.

A source on the negotiation committee told MintPress that the Houthis proposed releasing 400 prisoners from both sides as an initiative to get the talks going. There was no comment from Saudi Arabia on the proposal.

Last week, representatives from the coalition and the Houthis had held a round of UN-brokered negotiations in the Jordanian capital city of Amman to hammer out details of the prisoner exchange. The two sides met separately with the mediators and submitted lists of prisoners they wanted to be released.

Both sides have said repeatedly they remain committed to the agreement, which could see thousands of prisoners released by each side, including hundreds of al-Qaeda and ISIS members who were fighting on behalf of the coalition. So far, however, no breakthrough has been made.

Fears linger that failure of the prisoner exchange would have a knock-on effect on the next round of peace talks, owing to the nature of the list of prisoners made by both sides. Each side presented a list of up to 8,000 detainees to be freed, but many of those detainees on the list are not able to be accounted for, according to a senior official from the International Committee of the Red Cross. The prisoner swap would, therefore, involve a significantly lower number of prisoners, an outcome likely to draw the ire of both sides.

A senior International Committee of the Red Cross official, which will oversee the deal’s implementation, said on Monday that the prisoner exchange was “hanging in the balance,” with trust among the parties “insufficient.” He also indicated that “there is a lot of disappointment on both sides,” adding: “What we now see on both sides is that they don’t have them all [i.e., the listed prisoners] because a lot of them, they probably died during the conflict.”

There are positive signs, however. In a move that could boost ongoing UN-led efforts to save the deal, the Houthis released an ailing Saudi prisoner, Musa al-Awaji, on humanitarian grounds at the end of January. The Saudi coalition also released seven Houthi prisoners who were not part of the negotiated exchange.

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

February 6, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Weapons ending up with terrorists is OK, as long as Obama did it: The world according to CNN

RT | February 5, 2019

A “bombshell” CNN report has revealed that US-made weapons found their way to Al-Qaeda-linked fighters in Yemen. But is anyone surprised? And where was CNN when the Obama administration armed hardcore jihadists in Syria?

The CNN investigation revealed how American-made weapons ended up in the hands of “al Qaeda-linked fighters, hardline Salafi militias, and other factions waging war in Yemen,” vis-a-vis the US’ coalition partners Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Some of these weapons have also been seized by Iranian-backed militias, CNN claims.

The hardware, referred to as “Beautiful military equipment” by President Trump, was supplied to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who have backed the embattled Yemeni government in its three-year civil war against Houthi rebels. However, CNN claims that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have funnelled the arms to pro-government factions, including the islamist Giants Brigade and the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Abbas brigade.

The shifting frontlines in Yemen ensured that many of these weapons – including wire-guided TOW missiles and mine-resistant armored vehicles (MRAPs) – ended up seized by Houthi militants and Iranian proxy forces. More American weapons still ended up for sale in Yemen’s teeming arms bazaars, where they fetch a higher price than the rusted AK-47s more common to the region.

CNN lays responsibility squarely at the feet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the Trump administration, which refused to cancel its multibillion dollar arms deals with the Saudis last year, for fear of losing “all of that investment being made into our country.”

The report paints a depressing, but familiar picture. Picking sides in foreign wars has historically proven disastrous for the United States, yet successive administrations have made the same mistakes again and again. The Reagan administration armed Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran, going as far as arranging the sale of anthrax to the Iraqi leader. Both Jimmy Сarter and Ronald Reagan propped up the Afghan mujahideen in their fight against the Soviets in the 1980s. In both cases, US forces would be shot at with the same weapons just two decades later.

Covering for Obama

More recently, in 2014 Barack Obama announced that the US would hand-select and arm ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria, stepping into the country’s bloody civil war. That too would prove disastrous, with troves of US arms ending up in the hands of Al-Nusra and ISIS.

But where was CNN when Obama asked Congress for $500 million to train, arm, and “empower the moderate Syrian opposition?”

CNN was reporting the news verbatim from Obama’s mouth, repeating the phrase “moderate rebels” without the ironic quotation marks that have become necessary since. Obama’s assertion that the rebels offered the “best alternative to terrorists and a brutal dictator” was not questioned, unlike Trump’s continuation of the longstanding US policy of arming the Saudis.

Obama called for funding in June 2014, but Syrian militias had already received support from the CIA for two years at that stage. CNN’s reporting on the covert arms pipeline was scant, didn’t question the credentials of the recipients, and mostly repeated the line of US intelligence officials: “That is something we are not going to dispute, but we are not going to publicly speak to it.”

Few questions were asked as Congress authorized the military support that September, and none were asked a year later as Obama resupplied his chosen rebels in Syria. Instead, Obama’s declaration of support for “the moderate Syrian opposition” was taken at face value and left unquestioned.

The reality in Syria

As CNN repeated the White House line on Syria, the network published just one report hinting that things might be amiss: an investigation by Amnesty International that found Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants were armed to the teeth with US-made weapons. The weapons were acquired by IS from local forces armed by the Obama administration, and then used to “relentlessly” target civilians with “small arms, artillery fire and huge quantities of improvised explosive devices.”

While CNN was assuaging the public, the situation on the ground in Syria was anything but moderate. US arms were quickly sold on the black market by ‘moderate rebels’ who either retired from the fight or wanted to turn a quick buck. With morale low, some of these fighters literally handed their weapons to Al-Nusra jihadists in exchange for safe passage away from the frontlines, while more were stolen by the Islamists.

Moreover, one Al-Nusra commander codenamed Abu Al Ezz told the German Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper that his group, and not so-called ‘moderate rebels’, received TOW missiles directly from the US. “The missiles were given to us directly,” he said, adding: “The Americans are on our side.” The commander went on to detail how his fighters had received training from US instructors, and financial support from Saudi Arabia and Israel for capturing specific objectives in Syria.

The Trump administration ended the arms supply program to the Syrian rebels in 2017, a decision that CNN called“a big win for Russia.” The idea that ending material support for terrorists might just be a good thing was not raised, and CNN described the program as “a lifeline” to anti-government forces.

CNN even stuck by its straight-faced use of the term ‘moderate rebels’, despite multiple other news outlets publishing reports of US weapons falling into terrorist hands.

Two months before the 2016 election, CNN absolved Obama of all his sins in Syria by publishing an interview in which the then-president said the situation there “haunts” him constantly. The network blamed external factors for the deteriorating situation in Syria, and ended with a quote from Obama’s press secretary, who said that every one of the former president’s decisions “was squarely within the national security interest of the United States and even advanced our national security interests.”

CNN’s latest exclusive report is a well-researched piece of journalism, fleshed out with on-the-ground reporting from war-torn Yemen. However, given the network’s history in reporting US arms programs, it was much more likely motivated by a desire to score points against Trump than the pursuit of cold truth, no matter who is in charge.

February 5, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amnesty International’s Troubling Collaboration with UK & US Intelligence

Propaganda image from the cover of AI’s report entitled, ‘Squeezing the Life Out of Yarmouk: War Crimes Against Besieged Civilians’,
one of many designed to fit hand-in-glove with the joint US and UK covert regime change operation deployed against Syria since 2011.
By Alexander Rubinstein | Mint Press News | January 17, 2019

Amnesty International, the eminent human-rights non-governmental organization, is widely known for its advocacy in that realm. It produces reports critical of the Israeli occupation in Palestine and the Saudi-led war on Yemen. But it also publishes a steady flow of indictments against countries that don’t play ball with Washington — countries like Iran, China, Venezuela, Nicaragua, North Korea and more. Those reports amplify the drumbeat for a “humanitarian” intervention in those nations.

Amnesty’s stellar image as a global defender of human rights runs counter to its early days when the British Foreign Office was believed to be censoring reports critical of the British empire. Peter Benenson, the co-founder of Amnesty, had deep ties to the British Foreign Office and Colonial Office while another co-founder, Luis Kutner, informed the FBI of a gun cache at Black Panther leader Fred Hampton’s home weeks before he was killed by the Bureau in a gun raid.

These troubling connections contradict Amnesty’s image as a benevolent defender of human rights and reveal key figures at the organization during its early years to be less concerned with human dignity and more concerned with the dignity of the United States and United Kingdom’s image in the world.

A conflicted beginning

Amnesty’s Benenson, an avowed anti-communist, hailed from a military intelligence background. He pledged that Amnesty would be independent of government influence and would represent prisoners in the East, West, and global South alike.

But during the 1960s the U.K. was withdrawing from its colonies and the Foreign Office and Colonial Office were hungry for information from human-rights activists about the situations on the ground. In 1963, the Foreign Office instructed its operatives abroad to provide “discreet support” for Amnesty’s campaigns.

Also that year, Benenson wrote to Colonial Office Minister Lord Lansdowne a proposal to prop up a “refugee counsellor” on the border of present-day Botswana and apartheid South Africa. That counsel was to assist refugees only, and explicitly avoid aiding anti-apartheid activists. “Communist influence should not be allowed to spread in this part of Africa, and in the present delicate situation, Amnesty International would wish to support Her Majesty’s Government in any such policy,” Benenson wrote. The next year, Amnesty ceased its support for anti-apartheid icon and the first president of a free South Africa, Nelson Mandela.

The following year, in 1964, Benenson enlisted the Foreign Office’s assistance in obtaining a visa to Haiti. The Foreign Office secured the visa and wrote to its Haiti representative Alan Elgar saying it “support[ed] the aims of Amnesty International.” There, Benenson went undercover as a painter, as Minister of State Walter Padley told him prior to his departure that “We shall have to be a little careful not to give the Haitians the impression that your visit is actually sponsored by Her Majesty’s Government.”

The New York Times exposed the ruse, leading some officials to claim ignorance; Elgar, for example, said he was “shocked by Benenson’s antics.” Benenson apologized to Minister Padley, saying “I really do not know why the New York Times, which is generally a responsible newspaper, should be doing this sort of thing over Haiti.”

Letting politics creep into mission

In 1966, an Amnesty report on the British colony of Aden, a port city in present-day Yemen, detailed the British government’s torture of detainees at the Ras Morbut interrogation center. Prisoners there were stripped naked during interrogations, were forced to sit on poles that entered their anus, had their genitals twisted, cigarettes burned on their face, and were kept in cells where feces and urine covered the floor.

The report was never released, however. Benenson said that Amnesty general secretary Robert Swann had censored it to please the Foreign Office, but Amnesty co-founder Eric Baker said Benenson and Swann had met with the Foreign Office and agreed to keep the report under wraps in exchange for reforms. At the time, Lord Chancellor Gerald Gardiner wrote to Prime Minister Harold Wilson that “Amnesty held the [report] as long as they could simply because Peter Benenson did not want to do anything to hurt a Labour government.”

Then something changed. Benenson went to Aden and was horrified by what he found, writing “I never came upon an uglier picture than that which met my eyes in Aden,” despite his “many years spent in the personal investigation of repression.”

A tangled web

As all of this was unfolding, a similar funding scandal was developing that would rock Amnesty to its core. Polly Toynbee, a 20-year-old Amnesty volunteer, was in Nigeria and Southern Rhodesia, the British colony in Zimbabwe, which was at the time ruled by the white settler minority. There, Toynbee delivered funds to prisoner families with a seemingly endless supply of cash. Toynbee said that Benenson met with her there and admitted that the money was coming from the British government.

Toynbee and others were forced to leave Rhodesia in March 1966. On her way out, she grabbed documents from an abandoned safe including letters from Benenson to senior Amnesty officials working in the country that detailed Benenson’s request to Prime Minister Wilson for money, which had been received months prior.

In 1967 it was revealed that the CIA had established and was covertly funding another human rights organization founded in the early 1960s, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) through an American affiliate, the American Fund for Free Jurists Inc.

Benenson had founded, alongside Amnesty, the U.K. branch of the ICJ, called Justice. Amnesty international secretariat, Sean MacBride, was also the secretary-general of ICJ.

Then, the “Harry letters” hit the press. Officially, Amnesty denied knowledge of the payments from Wilson’s government. But Benenson admitted that their work in Rhodesia had been funded by the government, and returned the funds out of his own pocket. He wrote to Lord Chancellor Gardiner that he did it so as not to “jeopardize the political reputation” of those involved. Benenson then returned unspent funds from his two other human-rights organizations, Justice (the U.K. branch of the CIA-founded ICJ) and the Human Rights Advisory Service.

Benenson’s behavior in the wake of the revelations about the “Harry letters” infuriated his Amnesty colleagues. Some of them would go on to claim that he suffered from mental illness. One staffer wrote:

Peter Benenson has been levelling accusations, which can only have the result of discrediting the organisation which he has founded and to which he dedicated himself. … All this began after soon after he came back from Aden, and it seems likely that the nervous shock which he felt at the brutality shown by some elements of the British army there had some unbalancing effect on his judgment.

Later that year, Benenson stepped down as president of Amnesty in protest of its London office being surveilled and infiltrated by British intelligence — at least according to him. Later that month, Sean MacBride, the Amnesty official and ICJ operative, submitted a report to an Amnesty conference that denounced Benenson’s “erratic actions.” Benenson boycotted the conference, opting to submit a resolution demanding MacBride’s resignation over the CIA funding of ICJ.

Amnesty and the British government then suspended ties. The rights group then promised to “not only be independent and impartial but must not be put into a position where anything else could even be alleged” about its collusion with governments in 1967.

Amnesty’s role in the death of Black Panther Fred Hampton

But two years later, senior Amnesty officials engaged in far more troubling coordination with Western intelligence agencies.

FBI documents, released by the Bureau in the spring of 2018 as a part of a series of disclosures of documents pertaining to the assassination of President John Kennedy, detail Amnesty International’s role in the killing of Black Panther Party (BPP) Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton, the 21-year-old up-and-coming black liberation icon — a killing that was widely believed to be an assassination but was ruled officially as a justifiable homicide.

Amnesty International co-founder Luis Kutner attended a November 23, 1969 speech of Hampton’s delivered at the University of Illinois.

During the speech, Hampton described the BPP “as a revolutionary party” and “indicated that the party has guns to be used for peace and self-defense, and these guns are at the Hampton residence as well as BPP headquarters,” according to the FBI document.

“Kutner has reached the point where he would like to take legal action to silence the BPP,” the FBI wrote. “Kutner concluded by stating that he believed speakers like Hampton were psychotic, and it is only when they are faced with a court action that they stop their “rantings and ravings.”

The FBI internal report on Kutner’s testimony cited above was issued on December 1, 1969. Two days later, the FBI, alongside the Chicago Police Department, conducted a firearms raid on Hampton’s residence. When Hampton came home for the day, FBI informant William O’Neal slipped a barbiturate sleeping pill into his drink before leaving.

At 4:00 a.m. on December 4, police and FBI stormed into the apartment, instantly shooting a BPP guard. Due to reflexive convulsions related to death, the guard convulsed and pulled the trigger on a shotgun he was carrying – the only time a Black Panther member fired a gun during the raid. Authorities then opened fire on Hampton, who was in bed sleeping with his nine-month pregnant fiancee. Hampton is believed to have survived until two shots were fired at point-blank range towards his head.

Kutner formed the “Friends of the FBI” group, an organization “formed to combat criticism of the Federal Bureau of Investigations,” according to the New York Times, after its covert campaign to disrupt leftists movements — COINTELPRO — was revealed. He also went on to operate in a number of theaters that saw heavy involvement from the CIA — including work Kutner did to undermine Congolese Prime Minister and staunch anti-imperialist Patrice Lumumba — and represented the Dalai Lama, who was provided $1.7 million a year by the CIA in the 1960s.

While Amnesty International’s shady operations in the 1960s might seem like ancient history at this point, they serve as an important reminder of the role that non-governmental organizations often play in furthering the objectives of governments of the nations where they are based.

Alexander Rubinstein is a staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He reports on police, prisons and protests in the United States and the United States’ policing of the world. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.

January 19, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Docs: US trained UAE pilots for combat in Yemen, signaling deeper involvement in conflict

RT | January 19, 2019

The American military has trained UAE fighter pilots for combat missions in Yemen, indicating Washington’s deeper involvement into the ongoing conflict, a recent report citing US Air Force documents claims.

The papers were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Yahoo News. They appear to show how United Arab Emirates (UAE) pilots and crew were prepared for the Yemen conflict by US instructors under the UAE’s “F-16 pilot training program.”

It was completed at the USAF’s Warfare Center in Al Dhafra, just south of the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi.

The training which, according to the documents, took place between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017, resulted in four new instructors and 29 combat wingmen prior to their immediate deployment “for combat operations in Yemen.”

Also revealed was the escorting of four UAE F-16s to the USAF’s Red Flag exercises in the Nevada desert. The two-week advanced aerial combat training oversaw 150 Emirati personnel participate in “challenging exercises” with the goal to “prepare” them for combat action in Yemen.

The UAE has been involved in Yemen’s civil war as part of a Western-backed, Saudi-led coalition battling Houthi rebels who rose up against the government in 2015.

While Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign in the country has garnered the most international criticism, the UAE’s role has received less coverage. However, it has been an active partner in the coalition, contributing both troops on the ground in addition to planes in the sky.

When pressed for comment on the UAE training by Yahoo News, both a US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesperson and a second CENTCOM official, Lt. Col. Josh Jacques, repeatedly denied the claims of prepping pilots for Yemen sorties.

“We do not conduct exercises with members of the [Saudi-led coalition] to prepare for combat operations in Yemen,” Jacques said.

US officials have long been coy regarding the true extent of their support for the coalition, insisting that arm sales, air-to-air refueling, as well as intelligence training and sharing constitute the extent of their involvement.

However, in November, the US government said it would end mid-air refueling of coalition aircraft in response to growing outrage that the Saudi-led bombing campaign was unlawfully targeting civilians and putting the country on the brink of famine. For its part, Riyadh has repeatedly denied targeting civilians and not military related infrastructure on purpose.

In December, top US military brass reiterated Washington’s lack of involvement. Speaking at a Washington Post event, General Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, insisted that the US was not participating in the civil war, “nor are we supporting one side or the other.”

READ MORE:

Life in fear: Report says 1 in 3 US drone-strike deaths in Yemen are civilians, including children

January 19, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Imperialism Abhors a Void: Guest: Sarah Abed

The Rabbit Hole | January 3, 2019

Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox

Final Podcast 2018

Guest: Sarah Abed
Topic: US “Withdrawal” from Syria

On this episode of Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox we discussed Trump’s announcement to withdraw US troops from Syria, the media’s reaction, and the impact this will have on Kurdish militias and Syria’s ultimate fight against imperialism.

Below are some of the points that I made during our chat (this is not a full transcript) or some thoughts I would like to expand on.

Cindy asked what I make of Trump’s announcement to withdraw 2,000 troops from Syria.

My response:

Trump had stated during his campaign and his presidency and even prior to that during Obama’s presidency in 2013 that he did not think we should be in Syria, nor should we be bombing Syria, that it was a waste of money and lives and that the Arab League and neighboring countries should be the ones to step up to the plate.

I think this was one of the reasons that many people voted for him, because of his non-interventionist foreign policy, which was in stark contrast to that of Hillary Clinton.

In April, of this year he had announced that he wanted to pull the US out of Syria and then just days later there was an alleged chemical weapons attack that was pinned on the Syrian government in Douma, to which Trump responded with attacking multiple targets along with his allies the UK and France.

This of course derailed his plan to pull out US troops, which is the exact outcome that the terrorists that staged the whole theatrical performance had wanted. And we have seen this sort of thing happen time and time again during the war. Whenever the Syrian army and government have made significant progress new allegations and attacks are made against them in corporate media in order to garner international support for military, political intervention as well as increased sanctions.

There are other factors at play with this latest withdraw announcement which was made on December 19th, in addition to standing by his America first promise, campaign statements, saving money and lives, there’s the fact that Turkey’s president Erdogan had threatened to attack the Kurdish militias on his border, if the US didn’t have them removed. He sees the YPG (People’s Protection Units) which was rebranded at the request of the US into the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) as an extension of the PKK (Kurdistan workers party) which is a terrorist group that has been in conflict with the Turkish state for decades.

As I had written about back in March the Olive branch operation in Afrin proved that NATO alliances are stronger than any other alliances and that the US will choose Turkey over the Kurds and that’s what we are seeing happen right now. Some have also speculated that Israel may have given the US a heads up that it would be engaging in an intense bombing campaign and that US troops should be sent home so that they are not caught in the crosshairs.

Cindy asked what I make of the reaction by democrats, liberals, celebrities etc.

My response:

It would be comical if it wasn’t actually dangerous. In their blind opposition to anything and everything that Trump says these overnight analysts and pundits started claiming that if US troops were to withdraw from Syria then Kurds would be annihilated by Turkey or succumb to some other equally horrible fate.

What we have seen over the past few days however is that leaders of Kurdish militias have actually reached out to the Syrian government and asked that they step in and take back Manbij and all the territory under their control west of the Euphrates in order to protect them against Turkey. This is a clear shift in their political alliance away from the US and towards Syria and Russia. Turkey will not directly confront the Syrian army so Trump’s announcement could actually signify a big step towards peace in this almost eight-year western imposed insurrection.

The US entered Syria illegally and has since set up over a dozen military bases and supported the Kurdish militias during the last few years only. Prior to using the Kurdish militias as a tool to create chaos and division in Syria, the US was predominately supporting the hardcore Al Qaeda-linked terrorists in the Free Syrian Army and an assortment of other alphabet soup groups who they affectionately referred to as “moderate rebels” to topple the secular Syrian government.

Had the US not supported the Kurdish militias they would have not had the motivation to turn against the Syrian state. During the beginning of the war, the Kurds were fighting with the Syrian army against terrorists, by the way some still are and many Kurds in Syria are not in agreement with the separatist ambitions of the Kurdish militias.

I want to stress the fact that before 2011 Kurds, Arabs, and Christian minorities lived peacefully in Syria and till now they are NOT the majority. They do not have any justifiable claims to the north eastern region (which also happens to be the most agriculturally and oil rich part of the country) or any other part of Syria. They are a nomadic people and I do not mean that in a condescending way at all but to illustrate that they came into Syria in waves to escape mistreatment in neighboring countries and were treated fairly and given equal rights. Not all Kurds envision a unified Kurdistan that would span four different sovereign countries (Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and Iran). Most Kurdish movements and political parties are focused on the concerns and autonomy of Kurds within their respective countries. Within each country, there are Kurds who have assimilated and whose aspirations may be limited to greater cultural freedoms and political recognition.

It’s also worth noting that only Israel is their main and really only supporter and their plans for an independent Kurdistan align almost perfectly with Israel’s greater Israel plan. They have historically been used by Israel and NATO.

Cindy asked about the demands being made that Russia or Iran should withdraw from Syria if US troops are to be withdrawn.

My response was basically that Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah are there with the Syrian government’s permission. Whereas the US, UK, France, and Turkey are there illegally and need to leave. Cindy noted and I agreed that it’s a false equivalency and a logical fallacy.

We also spoke about fasting to raise awareness #illuminateYemen for the entirely man-made and avoidable Saudi war and genocide that’s been going on for over three years and nine months. We discussed the latest developments and how Saudi Arabia is outsourcing their front line fighters with children and men from Dafur, Sudan and paying their families $10,000.

My response:

Fasting for seven days was a very humbling experience. The war on Yemen is truly heartbreaking especially because it is entirely man-made and avoidable. It’s so important for us to continue to raise awareness and get people to talk about it to literally everyone they know. For the past 3 years and nine months the murderous Al Saud regime, has been bombing civilians using weapons bought from the US, UK, and Germany, what they are doing is nothing short of committing genocide and deliberately starving Yemeni’s them through blockades. Tens of thousands have been killed since it began.

There was actually a report in the New York Times today that Saudi Arabia was recruiting children from Darfur to fight on the front lines and paying their families $10,000. Sudan has been part of the Saudi-led alliance, and deployed thousands of ground troops to Yemen. In the NYT report they said that five Sudanese fighters who had returned from Yemen told them that that children made up 20-40 percent of their units in Yemen.

The fact that House of Saud is on the UN human and woman’s rights council while also being the leading violator in crimes against humanity and the main sponsor of terror in the world shows the western worlds blatant hypocrisy. A United Nations-sponsored peace agreement was signed in Sweden earlier this month, and was agreed upon by both sides to implement a ceasefire in Hodeida. The panel will be meeting again on January 1 to discuss “detailed plans for full redeployment”. Every effort needs to be made for this conflict to end.

January 3, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How the War Party Lost the Middle East

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • January 1, 2019

“Assad must go, Obama says.”

So read the headline in The Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2011.

The story quoted President Barack Obama directly:

“The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. … the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain’s David Cameron signed on to the Obama ultimatum: Assad must go!

Seven years and 500,000 dead Syrians later, it is Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron who are gone. Assad still rules in Damascus, and the 2,000 Americans in Syria are coming home. Soon, says President Donald Trump.

But we cannot “leave now,” insists Sen. Lindsey Graham, or “the Kurds are going to get slaughtered.”

Question: Who plunged us into a Syrian civil war, and so managed our intervention that were we to go home after seven years our enemies will be victorious and our allies will “get slaughtered”?

Seventeen years ago, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban for granting sanctuary to al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.

U.S. diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad is today negotiating for peace talks with that same Taliban. Yet, according to former CIA director Mike Morell, writing in The Washington Post today, the “remnants of al-Qaeda work closely” with today’s Taliban.

It would appear that 17 years of fighting in Afghanistan has left us with these alternatives: Stay there, and fight a forever war to keep the Taliban out of Kabul, or withdraw and let the Taliban overrun the place.

Who got us into this debacle?

After Trump flew into Iraq over Christmas but failed to meet with its president, the Iraqi Parliament, calling this a “U.S. disregard for other nations’ sovereignty” and a national insult, began debating whether to expel the 5,000 U.S. troops still in their country.

George W. Bush launched Operation Iraq Freedom to strip Saddam Hussein of WMD he did not have and to convert Iraq into a democracy and Western bastion in the Arab and Islamic world.

Fifteen years later, Iraqis are debating our expulsion.

Muqtada al-Sadr, the cleric with American blood on his hands from the fighting of a decade ago, is leading the charge to have us booted out. He heads the party with the largest number of members in the parliament.

Consider Yemen. For three years, the U.S. has supported with planes, precision-guided munitions, air-to-air refueling and targeting information, a Saudi war on Houthi rebels that degenerated into one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the 21st century.

Belatedly, Congress is moving to cut off U.S. support for this war. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, its architect, has been condemned by Congress for complicity in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate in Istanbul. And the U.S. is seeking a truce in the fighting.

Who got us into this war? And what have years of killing Yemenis, in which we have been collaborators, done to make Americans safer?

Consider Libya. In 2011, the U.S. attacked the forces of dictator Moammar Gadhafi and helped to effect his ouster, which led to his murder.

Told of news reports of Gadhafi’s death, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joked, “We came, we saw, he died.”

The Libyan conflict has since produced tens of thousands of dead. The output of Libya’s crucial oil industry has collapsed to a fraction of what it was. In 2016, Obama said that not preparing for a post-Gadhafi Libya was probably the “worst mistake” of his presidency.

The price of all these interventions for the United States?

Some 7,000 dead, 40,000 wounded and trillions of dollars.

For the Arab and Muslim world, the cost has been far greater. Hundreds of thousands of dead in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, civilian and soldier alike, pogroms against Christians, massacres, and millions uprooted and driven from their homes.

How has all this invading, bombing and killing made the Middle East a better place or Americans more secure? One May 2018 poll of young people in the Middle East and North Africa found that more of them felt that Russia was a closer partner than was the United States of America.

The fruits of American intervention?

We are told ISIS is not dead but alive in the hearts of tens of thousands of Muslims, that if we leave Syria and Afghanistan, our enemies will take over and our friends will be massacred, and that if we stop helping Saudis and Emiratis kill Houthis in Yemen, Iran will notch a victory.

In his decision to leave Syria and withdraw half of the 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, Trump enraged our foreign policy elites, though millions of Americans cannot get out of there soon enough.

In Monday’s editorial celebrating major figures of foreign policy in the past half-century, The New York Times wrote, “As these leaders pass from the scene, it will be left to a new generation to find a way forward from the wreckage Mr. Trump has already created.”

Correction: Make that “the wreckage Mr. Trump inherited.”

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

Copyright 2019 Creators.com.

January 1, 2019 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Presence of Foreign Forces in Yemen Unjustifiable: Ansarullah

Al-Manar | December 12, 2018

Spokesman for Yemen’s revolutionary Ansarullah movement Mohammad Abdulsalam, who heads a delegation in the ongoing peace talks in Sweden, said the presence of foreign forces in the Arabian Peninsula country cannot be justified.

Speaking to the Arabic-language al-Masirah TV on Tuesday night, Abdulsalam said the foreign troops’ presence in Yemen is contrary to the country’s constitution and UN Security Council resolutions.

“The presence of foreign forces in Yemen is not justified as long as our approach is political settlement (of the crisis),” he said.

Yemen’s occupied areas are now controlled by foreigners such as British, Saudi and Emirati forces, not a group that calls itself “legitimate”, he added, referring to the Yemeni exiled government which claims legitimacy.

The Ansarullah spokesman went on to say that no party could demand the presence of foreign forces in Yemen.

Abdulsalam further said that in the UN-brokered peace talks in Stockholm, Sweden, the two sides have reached some agreements on ceasefire in some areas.

The talks opened Thursday on an upbeat note, with the warring sides agreeing to a broad prisoner swap, boosting hopes that the talks would not deteriorate into further violence as in the past.

Yemen has been since March 2015 under brutal aggression by Saudi-led Coalition, in a bid to restore control to fugitive president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi who is Riyadh’s ally.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and injured in the strikes launched by the coalition, with the vast majority of them are civilians.

The coalition, which includes in addition to Saudi Arabia and UAE: Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Kuwait, has been also imposing a harsh blockade against Yemenis.

Some 8.4 million Yemenis are facing starvation as a result of the Saudi-led aggression, although the United Nations has warned that will probably rise to 14 million.

Three-quarters of impoverished Yemen’s population, or 22 million people, require aid.

December 12, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

Yemen: Houthis Urge Transitional Gov’t With All Parties

teleSUR | December 10, 2018

The Houthi’s main negotiator, Mohammed Abdusalam, said Saturday that any political solution to the Saudi-led war on Yemen should start with outlining a transitional period with an exact timeframe that should include all political parties.

Abdusalam also said the city of Hodeidah should be declared a “neutral zone” and that the United Nations could play a role in managing the Sanaa airport. His comments were made in the context of U.N.-sponsored peace talks that seek to put an end to almost four years of conflict.

The Houthis control major population centers in Yemen, including the capital Sanaa and the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions of people. The Saudi coalition’s siege on the port this year has caused food and medicine shortages, leading to widespread cases of starvation.

“It (Hodeidah) should be a neutral zone apart from the conflict, and the military brigades that came from outside Hodeidah province should leave,” Abdusalam told Reuters.

Asked if Houthi forces would then withdraw from Hodeidah, Abdusalam said: “There will be no need for military presence there if battles stop … Hodeidah is an economic hub and it should stay that way for the sake of all Yemenis.”

“We have proposed to the U.N. to oversee the port and supervise its logistics… inspections, revenues, and all the technical issues,” he said.

It is unclear who will control the city if both forces leave but Yemen’s internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is sticking to its position that Hodeidah should be under its control.

On the issue of reopening the Sanaa airport, Abdusalam said the Houthis were open to the possibility of a U.N. role at the airport to secure an agreement to reopen it. The Houthis hold control of the airport, but Saudi-led forces have secured control of the airspace and have bombed the facility several times.

Yemen’s Saudi-backed government has proposed reopening the Houthi-held airport in the capital Sanaa on condition planes are inspected in the airports of Aden or Sayun which are under its control, two government officials said Friday.

The Houthi delegation rejected the proposal but insist they are open to a U.N. role.

Many Yemeni factions are involved in the war that pits the Houthis against a Saudi-led coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Yemen’s war and the ensuing economic collapse has left 15.9 million people, 53 percent of the population, facing “severe acute food insecurity.” According to a recently-published study by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), the armed conflict has claimed the lives of over 50,000 people.

Humanitarian groups say peace is the only way of ending the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. The areas hit with extreme hunger are also the areas where there is active fighting.

No peace talks have been held since 2016, and the last attempt in Geneva in September failed when the Houthis did not attend [*]. These peace talks are due to last until Dec. 13.


* Saudi-backed delegates leave Yemen peace talks

Press TV – September 8, 2018

A delegation from Yemen’s former government has left UN-brokered talks in Geneva after representatives of the Houthi movement were prevented by Saudi Arabia from attending the negotiations.

“The government delegation is leaving today,” said an official from the Saudi-backed team on Saturday, referring to the former Yemeni administration. “There are no expectations the Houthis are coming,” he added.

UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths told a news conference that the Houthis were “keen” to get to Geneva.

“They would have liked to get here. We didn’t make conditions sufficiently correct to get them here,” he said.

Ansarullah accused the Saudis of planning to strand the delegation in Djibouti, where their plane was to make a stop en route to Geneva.

The Saudis were “still refusing to give permission to an Omani plane” to land at the Yemeni capital Sana’a and take the delegation to Geneva, the movement said.

It posted a statement, saying the Houthis needed to “ensure the safety of the delegation” and require a guarantee that they would be allowed to return “smoothly” to Sana’a airport. … Full article

December 10, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment

Loophole in Bernie Sanders’ Yemen Bill Actually Allows Continued US Involvement in Yemen

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | December 3, 2018

Last week, many celebrated the advancement of Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 54, which had been introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), as a sign that the U.S. Congress was finally willing to act to reduce the U.S.’ culpability for the situation in Yemen, currently the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The bill, which will be voted on by the Senate this week, has been praised by many within the anti-war movement for its bid to “end” U.S. military involvement in Yemen. Passage of the bill would, however, do no such thing.

Much of the media coverage of the bill has noted that the resolution invokes the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which prohibits the president from deploying U.S. troops into armed conflicts without congressional approval. Though that resolution has been ignored many times since its passage, particularly since the War on Terror began in 2001, SJR 54 has been promoted as a “progressive” effort to bring the U.S.’ military adventurism to heel at a time when Saudi Arabia — one of the two countries leading the war against Yemen – is under increased scrutiny.

Yet, the text of the bill itself reveals that SJR 54 invokes the War Powers Resolution in name only. Indeed, while the bill claims to be aimed at achieving “the removal of United State Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress,” it contains a major loophole that will allow the majority of U.S. troops in Yemen – if not all – to stay.

As the bill states, it will require the president to remove troops “except United States Armed Forces engaged in operations directed at al Qaeda or associated forces.” Notably though, the only U.S. troops “on the ground” in Yemen that are involved in “hostilities” (i.e., combat operations) are those that are allegedly involved in operations targeting Al Qaeda — operations that the U.S. frequently conducts jointly with the countries waging war against western Yemen, such as the United Arab Emirates.

U.S. troops deployed in Yemen to target Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) also collaborate with the UAE and Saudi Arabia in “intelligence sharing,” “midair refueling,” and “overhead reconnaissance” for forces involved in counterterrorism operations that the U.S. is leading. This cooperation is what the very text of SJR 54 claims to want to end, but only in regard to the coalition’s war in western Yemen. However, the current text of the bill would allow all of this cooperation to continue, just not in areas where there are no claims of AQAP presence.

Thanks to the loophole in SJR 54, all that would need to change for the U.S. military’s assistance to the Saudi/UAE coalition to remain as is would be for either the Saudis, Emiratis or the U.S. to claim that there is an AQAP presence – however small – in an area they wish to target. Given that AQAP regularly collaborates with coalition forces elsewhere in Yemen, the coalition would only need move AQAP forces near a site in western Yemen that they wish to bomb in order for U.S. military involvement in its war against Yemen’s resistance to continue unimpeded.

Alternatively, either of those countries could supply “intelligence” that would seek to link Yemen’s resistance movement Ansarullah or the Houthis to AQAP, thus allowing U.S. involvement in the coalition’s war in Yemen to continue unchanged. This is a very likely scenario if SJR 54 is passed given that some top Trump administration officials have a history of providing false intelligence in order to justify aggressive policies and push for military intervention abroad. Furthermore, the Trump administration also has experience linking countries it doesn’t like to Al Qaeda without evidence in order to justify such policies. Thus, linking Yemen’s resistance movement to AQAP despite a lack of evidence is something the Trump administration would likely pursue were this bill to pass in its current form.

In addition, the Sanders-introduced bill will do nothing to stop the U.S.’ use of drone strikes that regularly kill scores of civilians in Yemen. Indeed, a recent investigation conducted by the Associated Press found that at least one-third of all Yemenis killed by U.S. drone strikes in Yemen were civilians, many of them children. Even though U.S. intelligence has regularly shown that the U.S. drone war in Yemen actually strengthens AQAP, this bill would do nothing to stop the U.S. military’s deadliest practice in Yemen, with a documented history of murdering civilians.

The bill’s failure to touch on the U.S. drone war in Yemen is unsurprising given that Bernie Sanders — who introduced SJR 54 — supported drone strikes and the controversial “kill lists” during the Obama administration. Furthermore, when asked on Meet the Press in 2015 if his foreign policy if elected President would involve the use of drones and Special Forces in military operations overseas, Sanders stated that it would involve “all of that and more.”

SJR 54 as mostly kabuki

Given the fact that SJR 54 provides a huge loophole that would prevent it from having the advertised effect, it seems that the measure is meant to serve other purposes, namely political, instead of its stated purpose of ending U.S. military involvement in Yemen. The bill appears to be little more than a PR stunt by Democrats and Democratic-aligned senators to distance themselves from Republicans.

This is supported by the fact that not a single Democrat in the Senate voted against the bill last week, while several Senate Democrats had voted against it earlier this year, setting up the case that only Republicans are against halting the U.S.-backed war in Yemen. Another suggestion that this is the case is how the media widely reported the vote as a “rebuke” of President Trump, as is the fact that 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, such as Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, co-sponsored this bill even though they both hold pro-war positions regarding another Middle Eastern country, Iran.

The “anti-war” credentials of Warren — as well as Bernie Sanders, who wrote SJR 54 — have long been questionable, particularly after they both backed James Mattis as Secretary of Defense even though he had led the U.S. assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, an attack that killed thousands of civilians and used chemical weapons that still cause birth defects in those born in Fallujah over a decade later.

Though the death of Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi has been blamed for the change of heart of Senate Democrats and some Republicans, reporting from MintPress and others has shown that the “outrage” regarding Khashoggi’s death is not about “human rights” but about money and pushing Saudi Crown Prince to move forward with expensive weapons deals and the neoliberalization of Saudi state assets that he had tried to back away from. Viewing the situation from this lens, SJR 54 seems little more than a PR effort to cast Democrats as “anti-war” when they are just as beholden to the military-industrial complex as the Republicans.

Yet, most importantly, the toothless text of SJR 54 shows that relying on either of the corporate, war-loving political parties in the U.S. to end the country’s involvement in the war in Yemen is misguided, as such action if more likely to come about from sustained public pressure or grassroots activism than from politicians beholden to special interests such as the Saudi or weapons lobbies.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment