Archive | March 20th, 2014

Ukraine: Follow the Money

NOVANEWS
What Did We Get for Our $5 Billion?

by DANIEL N. WHITE

One interesting fact is lost in all the discussion ongoing about the Ukraine/Crimea/Russia/US imbroglio ongoing, and that is the money question.  The bible tells us that where your treasures are is where your heart is, and the same has to be true about nations and how they spend their treasures, too.  Let’s take a look at how the United States is spending its treasures abroad in its foreign policy adventures.

The number is being tossed around that the United States has spent somewhere in the region of $5 billion dollars in the Ukraine since 1992—exact amounts and exact dates are vague but the USG hasn’t seen fit to deny the reports— most on ‘democracy promotion’.*  This does not include any black budget funds—secret spook money–spent in Ukraine which funding is apt to be sizeable lately.  Exactly how that money has been spent can’t be said from the information given, but judging from such records as exist most of it has been spent on electoral politics type things, the orange and now brown revolutions, and if you looked at how American political campaigns spend money you’d have a pretty good idea of how the money has been spent.   The money gets given to politicians and spent by them on PR and parties.  There is nothing left to show for all the money spent on a political campaign—the money doesn’t stick around and leave anything behind.  Same has to be true of our $5 billion in the Ukraine—the Ukrainians will have no schools, no highways, no power plants and electric lines, no educated professionals, nothing for all that money.

On the other hand, this country has been at war in Afghanistan since 2002.  Afghanistan is one of the three or four poorest countries in the entire world, and needs everything rebuilt or replaced from almost four decades of continuous war.  It has been universally acknowledged that part of our war effort in that country is to provide aid and reconstructive funds to where our opponents the Taliban lose popular support and that this aid is a critical component of our war effort.  It is also universally acknowledged that aid is cheaper than US military forces—a common statistic is that it costs $1.5 million per year to station a GI in Afghanistan.  Greg Mortenson** claims to be able to build a school for $50,000 in Afghanistan.  One GI-year equals 30 schools built, and we have tens of thousands of GI’s there every year.  You can take the preceding statistics with the appropriate amount of salt, but you can’t dispute Afghanistan’s dire poverty and need.  That’s obvious.  Seems equally obvious that if we are at war in that country,  between our moral obligations to assist the folks in that country hurt by our war there combined with the strategic necessity for aiding those folks in that country we would be spending some fair amount of aid assistance change in that country.

Numbers say otherwise.  Nonmilitary aid and assistance to Afghanistan, by all US agencies was:

FY 2002–$708 million

FY 2003–$556 million

FY 2004—$1254 million

FY 2005—$1534 million

FY 2006—$845 million

FY 2007–$1603 million

FY 2008–$1893 million

FY 2009–$2298 million

FY 2010—$3519 million

These numbers are from the SIGAR Report to Congress, 7-30-2010.  I have subtracted military assistance funds and anti drug expenditures from the aid figures for these fiscal years, as I consider the first a direct expenditure for war prosecution and the second largely a fraud of no real assistance to the average Afghan.  The figure on $5 billion on aid to the Ukraine comes from Paul Blumenthal’s 3-7 article in Huffington Post., and covers the 1992-present time period, as does Mike Whitney’s 2-12 CounterPunch article.  The only useful expenditure in the Ukraine from what I could tell in the HP article was $200 million on Chernobyl cleanup.

We didn’t spend $5 billion in aid to Afghanistan sum total in our first five years of war there.  Add the numbers and see for yourself.  And those first five years were the time-critical years for our ever succeeding in that country in our war there, too.  Matters of up-front timing are life and death for car crash victims and wars both.   On the other hand, we’ve been happy to give away that much to Ukrainian politicians since 1992.  We’ll spend more on Ukrainian political shenanigans than we spent on essential humanitarian and war-prosecution necessary aid in the first five years of war in Afghanistan.  And it looks like we aren’t near done spending there in the Ukraine yet either.  Hellfire, from all accounts we are in the middle of one hell of a spending spree there right now.  We maybe might be getting close on quitting spending in Afghanistan, at least maybe for the time being, because Karzai has pissed Official DC off too much.  Damned ingrate.

So follow the money, rubes.  We aren’t serious about the war in Afghanistan and we never have been or we’d have spent more money on aid to the country and its peoples so that our war effort could have ever had a chance of working and we never did.  We’d rather spend money overseas on stupid white politicians who will presumably stay good and bought and do our government’s bidding.  We don’t give a shit about the welfare of Afghans and we don’t give a shit about the welfare of Ukrainians either, even if they are white and European.  Unless they are politicians like ours, of course, because they need our help you know.   All the dollar figures are out in the open and they always have been and if you’ve never read them before well it’s just because the Washington Post and the NYT and all their media kith don’t think you hicks need to know them.  That’s our government, and that’s us too.  Or way too many of us, nowadays, at any rate.   Hey Rube!   Step Right Up!!

 

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The U.S.’s Terrorism Double Standard

NOVANEWS
The Vicious Campaign Against Cuba

by MATT PEPPE

During the last 50 years, the United States has suffered from a constant stream of vicious terrorist acts, first carried out by the Cuban government and then later outsourced to anti-capitalist groups who were given safe haven in the country. The human toll is enormous – 3,478 dead, 2,009 injured, and many more suffering the mental health problems associated with traumatic stress.  The terrorist attacks include blowing up a civilian airplane, bombing hotels and restaurants in tourist neighborhoods, machine gun attacks from speed boats against coastal towns, introduction of chemical and biological agents such as dengue fever, and a program of conspiracy between the Cuban state and the Catholic church to remove thousands of children from their parents and the U.S.

All of this is true – only in reverse. The victim of the hostile aggression has always been Cuba. The country may be the worst victim of terrorism in the Post-WWII era. But in the bizarro world of the U.S. government, in a textbook case of projection, it is the Cuban government who is responsible for sabotage, destabilization and interference. The U.S. has even designated Cuba as a “state sponsor or terror.” In a historic irony, it was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq that was removed from the list to make room for Cuba in the early ’80s.

Terrorism was the main tactic in the campaign of subversion and interference that started immediately after the success of the revolutionary movement led by Fidel Castro. In March 1960,President Eisenhower green-lighted the first funds for the CIA to overthrow the new government. It is safe to say that Eisenhower did not lose any sleep over the mandate in the U.N. Charter that nations must refrain from the threat or use of force against another sovereign nation. By the time the Bay of Pigs Invasion was carried out, after being approved by new President John F. Kennedy, it was a full-scale ground operation launched in April 1961, consisting of 1,400 paramilitary troops and air support from B-26 bombers.  The Cuban Army was quickly able to beat back the invasion, and the terrorist and mercenary forces quickly surrendered.

While all of Latin America rejoiced at the imperialist U.S.A. walking away with its tail between its legs, the military planners in Washington were just getting started. Their response to the humiliating defeat was not to obey international law and leave the rightful Cuban government alone, but to double down. The result was Operation Mongoose, which was authorized by President Kennedy in November 1961.  Operation Mongoose involved thousands of people, millions of dollars and a violation of the Neutrality Act, which prevented CIA Operations in the United States, according to Noam Comsky.

“These Operations included bombing of hotels and industrial installations, sinking of fishing boats, poisoning of crops and livestock, contamination of sugar exports, etc. Not all these actions were specifically authorized by the CIA, but no such considerations absolve official enemies,” Chomsky writes.

Harvard historian Jorge Dominguez, in his review of thousands of declassified documents regarding the terrorist campaign against Cuba notes the complete lack of indifference toward human life.

“Only once in these nearly thousand pages of documentation did a U.S. official raise something that resembled a faint moral objection to U.S.-government sponsored terrorism’: a member of the NSC staff suggested that it might lead to some Russian reaction, and raids that are ‘haphazard and kill innocents … might mean a bad press in some friendly countries,’” Dominguez says.

The hysteria of the U.S. military planners is evident by looking at the proposed terrorist campaign Operation Northwoods, a series of false flag attacks to be carried out within the United States and blamed on Cuba to create public support for a U.S. military invasion to overthrow Castro once and for all. The project made it as far as getting approval from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but thankfully President Kennedy showed some semblance of humanity by rejecting terrorism against his own citizens.

Terrorism against Cuba continued throughout the ’60s and ’70s, but eventually operations were left to right-wing anti-Castro militants based in Miami. The new government strategy was to turn a blind eye. Many of the people in these terrorist organizations were former CIA agents and paramilitaries who were veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion. The two most prominent and dangerous such agents were Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch.

Posada and Bosch were suspected in the bombing of Cubana de Aviación Flight 455 in 1976 that killed all 78 people on board. The victims included all 24 member of the Cuban national fencing team that was returning with gold medals, after being victorious in the Central American Championships. Also on board were a group of fisherman who had completed a contract fishing in Guyana. Two men who boarded the plane and later disembarked before the plane took off from its final stop in Jamaica  were later caught.  Both confessed that Posada and Bosch were the masterminds behind the plot. A declassified FBI report quotes a reliable source confirming that Posada was involved in the planning.

Both men later ended up living in the U.S. Bosch would die in Florida a free man in 2011, after years of involvement with militant anti-Cuban organizations.  He was jailed on unrelated charges in the ’80s, but pardoned in 1990 by George H.W. Bush.  The first President Bush did so at the request of his son Jeb, who was acting on behalf of his allies in the powerful Miami anti-Castro community.  The President issued his pardon despite warnings from his own Attorney General who called Bosch and “unrepentant terrorist.”

Posada has also wound up in U.S. jails but is now free living in the Miami area. The U.S. has refused to extradite him to either Venezuela or Cuba. He continued his terrorist career and was responsible for more deaths.  Speaking to the New York Times, Posada admitted: “he organized a wave of bombing in Cuba [in 1997] at hotels, restaurants and discotheques, killing an Italian tourist and alarming the Cuban Government.” Mr. Posada, the article states, “was schooled in demolition and guerilla warfare by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1960′s.”

The former CIA terrorist also admitted the involvement of other groups based in Florida.  He said: “the hotel bombings and other operations had been supported by leaders of the Cuban-American National Foundation. Its founder and head, Jorge Mas Canosa, who died [in 1997], was embraced at the White House by Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton.”

Today Posada lives as a free man in Miami, as Bosch had before he passed away. Posada is still active in supporting anti-Castro groups such as the Ladies in White, who generated much controversy recently when members were detained in Havana for several hours upon protesting publicly.

Another example of horrific terrorist acts against Cuba are the numerous instances of chemical and biological warfare. The worst may be the alleged introduction in 1981 of dengue fever, whichkilled hundreds and sickened thousands more. Many other cases involving poison and sabotage of tobbaco and sugar crops have been reported.

In his excellent book Voices from the Other Side: An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba, Keith Bolender interviews survivors and relatives of terrorism victims in Cuba.  His many interviews include a woman who lost her leg as a child from machine gun fire by terrorists from Miami attacking her coastal village; the wife of the pilot of Flight 455; a mother who lost her daughter to dengue fever; and a man who as a teenager found an unexploded bomb at a hotel while waiting to play in a chess tournament.

Bolender also puts the terrorist actions in the context of American policy.

“American aggression ran from the embargo, propaganda, isolation, and the Bay of Pigs military invasion. As the rhetoric increased, terrorist acts were formulated and carried out.. American officials estimated millions would be spent to develop internal security systems, and State Department officials expected the Cuban government to increase internal surveillance in an attempt to prevent further acts of terrorism.  These systems, which restricted civil rights, became easy targets for critics,” he writes.

There are many other terrorist organizations who live openly in Florida. With names such as Omega 7, Comandos F4, Brigade 2506 and Alpha 66, these groups have admitted to killing people in the past and announce their intention to do so in the future.

“Other than an occasional federal gun charge, nothing much seems to happen to most of these would-be-revolutionaries,” write Tristram Korten and Kirk Nielsen in Salon. “They are allowed to train nearly unimpeded despite making explicit plans to violate the 70-year-old U.S. Neutrality Act and overthrow a sovereign country’s government… No one has ever been charged for anti-Cuban terrorism under [anti-terror] laws.”

The article goes on to mention how the federal government has failed to extradite other militants accused of terrorism and murder such as Luis Posada Carriles.

Anyone who has use of his brain can see the hypocrisy in the U.S.’s official position on terrorism enunciated by George W. Bush in an address to Congress the week after September 11, 2001.

“From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime. Our nation has been put on notice, we’re not immune from attack. We will take defensive measures against terrorism to protect Americans,” Bush said. Shortly after, he ordered the invasion of Afghanistan after refusing to provide the Taliban regime with any evidence that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

According to his own doctrine, Bush himself would be fair game for a Venezuelan commando raid on his Crawford ranch. And his father would likewise be a legitimate target in his Kennebunkport home for a Panamanian commando squad. Cuban jet fighters and drones would be completely justified in launching attacks in Miami whenever they saw fit.

In reality, the Cuban government has decided to follow the course of international law in its efforts to combat terrorism. They have managed to infiltrate right-wing militant groups in Florida to prevent future plots. After gathering evidence and making a case for what these groups were planning, Cuban authorities shared their intelligence with FBI officials in 1997.  The FBI listened to Cuba’s case, took the information back to the States – and arrested the Cubans who had foiled the plots. (For comparison, after catching the paramilitaries who physically invaded Cuba on a military mission to overthrow the government at the Bay of Pigs, most invaders were questioned and sent back to the U.S.)

The Cuban Five, as those imprisoned for fighting terrorism are called, are hardly known, if at all, in the United States. But they are heroes in the native country.

Stephen Kimber, writing in the Washington Post, tries to put the story of the Cuban Five in perspective: “Consider for a moment what would happen if American intelligence agents on the ground in a foreign country uncovered a major terrorist plot, with enough time to prevent it. And then consider how Americans would react if authorities in that country, rather than cooperate with us, arrested and imprisoned the U.S. agents for operating on their soil.

“Those agents would be American heroes. The U.S. government would move heaven and Earth to get them back.”

Members of Seal Team 6, who carried out an illegal premeditated assassination of Osama bin Laden in the sovereign territory of Pakistan, have been treated as heroes. As are soldiers who have served in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. How can the U.S. expect to have any credibility in the world when it acts with such blatant hypocrisy?

As Noam Chomsky points out, the U.S. has a long history of hypocrisy when it comes to terrorism. In the ’80s, after Reagan announced his desire to wipe out “the evil scourge of terrorism,” the United Nations took up the issue with a resolution announcing “measures to prevent international terrorism which endangers or takes innocent human lives or jeopardizes fundamental freedoms.”

The bill was passed with virtual unanimous approval of the entire world by a vote of 153 to 2. In opposition were the United States and its client state Israel.

Chomsky describes the U.S. use of the “propagandistic approach” to terrorism. “We begin with the thesis that terrorism is the responsibility of some officially designated enemy. We then designate terrorist acts as ‘terrorist’ just in the cases where they can be attributed (whether plausibly or not) to the required source; otherwise they are to be ignored, suppressed, or termed ‘retaliation’ or ‘self-defence.’”

A look at the U.S.’s flagrant disregard for international law and principles reveals actions such as denial of habeas corpus and due proccess (originated in the Magna Carta almost 800 years ago); unilaterally undertaking aggressive wars; “shock and awe” bombings; extraordinary renditions; and extrajudicial assassinations, including with drone strikes and Hellfire missiles. These all demonstrate the extent to which the U.S. is willing to disobey all legal and moral conventions to achieve its political goals, all in the name of fighting terrorism.

To deny that Cuba and its residents have been, and are the victims of terrorism for more than half a century is an outrage. To add insult to injury by labeling the Cuban government a sponsor of terrorism because of political considerations is just cruel.

The many victims of terrorism in Cuba may never see justice carried out by those responsible. But their suffering is the same as that felt by Americans after 9/11.  The least we can do is admit that, and stop allowing our government to use terrorism as a propaganda tool for its own convenience while the real human cost is ignored in countries other than our own.

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The Rise of Fascism in the West

NOVANEWS
Ukraine as Stalking Horse

by NORMAN POLLACK

Fascism dribbles off the tongue too easily, yet it is possible to wrap one’s arms around the concept and practice with, allowing for historical variations, some degree of precision. Hitler’s Germany may be the gold standard by which to measure all else, but even there correction can be made for both underlying structural features and ideological themes applied to other and different settings. By that I mean, e.g., functional equivalents of Nazi societal organization, if you will, foundations or perhaps sub-foundations of the social order and political culture. If we return to Franz Neumann’s Behemoth, the now-neglected classic on the subject and Robert A. Brady’s Spirit and Structure of German Fascism, also near-forgotten, focused on the ideology of business organization, we can say that the primal factor in fascism’s internal composition is capitalism, not your everyday Smithian variety happily ensconced in Econ. 101 textbooks, but the real thing at an advanced form of development: monopolization, greater cohesion through trade associations, neutralization of labor as a collective-bargaining social force, above all, an hierarchical class system with commanding decisions at the top then filtered down through gradations of rank, integrated with and complemented by the political-structural framework of business-government interpenetration.

This paradigm of centralized power embedded in the synthesis of corporatism and the State, the latter, itself the more powerful the better, in order to serve and protect the business system, its dominance over labor, its penetration of foreign markets, its further concentration through preventing internecine competition, is equally characteristic of 1930s Germany (already mostly evident under Weimar) and the US beginning in earnest still earlier but perhaps taking more protracted form. Diagrammatically, we are, circa 2014, more than superseding that German stage, our “cartels” disguised by other names, our rate of concentration the apogee of capitalist inner logic. From here it is readily apparent the appetitive and combative nature of capitalism, egged on or reinforced by the Statist dimension: America’s version of globalization to a tee.

This underpinning, not the concentration camp or gas chamber, establishes the bedrock on which the fascist edifice rests, makes them possible, embodied in militaristic aggression in Germany, but, for the US, and as Barrington Moore pointed out, in Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, for Japan as well, what is critical to fascism is not only business-government interpenetration (Masao Maruyama years ago termed this, for Japan, the “close-embrace” system), but also the regimentation of the people, glimpses of which appear in the NSA wholesale surveillance of the public, and a prepackaged ideology of permanent-war readiness buttressed by a saturated climate of counterterrorism.

I think you get the picture. America is not all Innocence and Milk-and-Honey, the hegemonic demiurge in full throttle under Obama, now poised for the much anticipated (and, I believe, welcomed) conflict with Russia, having carefully arranged the chess board, the rooks, IMF and NATO, the queen, all-purpose privatization, the pawns, “friends and allies” persuaded to do America’s bidding, finally, the king, not the innocuous piece, nor here, a single individual, but Obama’s collective national-security advisors, taking in CIA, NSA, Pentagon officials, even then, the tip of the iceberg of war-making, war-striving apparatus, Washington up to its neck from every quarter, bipartisan all the way, in sharpening the killer instinct. Kerry and Biden are the cheerleaders for imperialism and, increasingly, militarism, for they, and Obama, recognize the two are inseparable, to which they seem especially dedicated. Ukraine has found its soul mates.

My New York Times Comments on the editorial, “Post-Crimea Relations With the West,” (March 19), and Peter Baker, “If Not a Cold War, a Return to a Chilly Rivalry,” same date, as are my Comments, follow:

I
Truly marvelous. The Times joins the Cold War chorus with enthusiasm. Nowhere do I find mention that the NATO putsch/push eastward via the coup d’etat in Kiev inspired Putin’s action–missiles and bases right up to the Russian border. The events flesh out NATO’s meaning and significance. E.g., today’s Erlanger article, quoting Ian Bond, Ivo Daalder and others, makes clear that “collective defense” is code for the US-EU-IMF-NATO continued pressure for globalization according to the Washington Consensus. America and its “friends and allies” are willing to go to war for market fundamentalism, privatization, and, huge military outlays–the Alliance thrives on perpetuating tension. Nor do we see more than a passing reference to Ukrainian FASCISM, and that altogether dismissive.

Dr. Strangelove would be proud of The Times, saber-rattling through greater and greater military presence, emissaries of death like Joe Biden (Obama has found his willing lap dog!), a society, political culture, press, and other media, tired of the challenges of peace, thriving on confrontation, bruiting manliness, toughness, credibility, as part of the New Decalogue–I honestly cannot see how nuclear war can be avoided: a colossal wish-fulfillment of a society and political economy deep-down mired in guilt, chauvinism, selfishness, wanting to end it all.
The Times takes joy in demonizing Putin. The West can do no wrong! When fascism becomes more transparent–perhaps minds will change.

II
The “resets” were founded on convenience and hypocrisy, business as usual marking the continuation of the Cold War, Crimea not signifying a New Cold War. Stating that Russia is more isolated than ever, the “international community” regarding it as an aggressor and wanting its pariah-status, is Washington propaganda and whistling in the dark. We’ve heard little from Asia or Latin America, and even a submissive EU has mixed feelings about following the US lead of confrontation, knowing that in fact there was a coup d’etat (not merely Baker’s “pro-Western street protests,”), that the US applauds Svoboda and Right Sector, and that the potential NATO incursion eastward means a provocative armed presence on the Russian border.

Do continue to defame Putin and ascribe 100% blame on Russia for deteriorating East-West relations. America eventually will have its global comeuppance as its interventions and imposition of IMF austerity cum privatization measures take hold and the world has had enough of its hegemonic drive and mindset. A “defense” budget the equal of the rest of the world, nuclear modernization, the Pacific-first strategy, paramilitary operations galore, often directed to regime change, use of the Espionage Act to silence whistleblowers, MASSIVE SURVEILLANCE at home, eavesdropping on foreign leaders, who’s kidding whom about aggressive global behavior and respect for international law?

The Times will be complicit in nuclear annihilation, if it should come.

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Is Saudi Arabia Primed for Revolution?

NOVANEWS

by NICOLA NASSER

Writing in The Washington Post on February 27, 2011, Rachel Bronson asked: “Could the next Mideast uprising happen in Saudi Arabia?” Her answer was: “The notion of a revolution in the Saudi kingdom seems unthinkable.”

However, on September 30 the next year, the senior foreign policy fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy Bruce Riedel concluded that the “revolution in Saudi Arabia is no longer unthinkable.”

To preempt such a possibility, the kingdom in March 2011, in a “military” move to curb the tide of the Arab popular uprisings which raged across the Arab world from sweeping to its doorsteps, the kingdom sent troops to Bahrain to quell similar popular protests.

That rapid reactive Saudi military move into Bahrain heralded a series of reactions that analysts describe as an ongoing Saudi-led counterrevolution.

Amid a continuing succession process in Saudi Arabia, while major socioeconomic and political challenges loom large regionally, the kingdom is looking for security as far away as China, but blinded to the shortest way to its stability in its immediate proximity, where regional understanding with its geopolitical Arab and Muslim neighborhood would secure the kingdom and save it a wealth of assets squandered on unguaranteed guarantees.

In his quest to contain any fallout from the “Arab Spring,” Saudi King Abdullah Ben Abdel-Aziz selectively proposed inviting the kingdoms of Jordan and Morocco to join the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), leading The Economist on May 19, 2011 to joke that the organization should be renamed the “Gulf Counter-Revolutionary Club.” For sure including Iraq and Yemen would be a much better addition if better security was the goal.

Ahead of US President Barak Obama’s official visit to the kingdom by the end of this March, Saudi Arabia was looking “forward to China as an international magnate with a great political and economic weight to play a prominent role in achieving peace and security in the region,” according to Defense Minister and Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud who was in Beijing from March 13 to 16 “to enhance cooperation with China to protect peace, security and stability in the region.” He was quoted by a statement from the Saudi Press Agency.

Prince Salman was in Japan from 18-21 last February, hopefully to deepen bilateral cooperation “in various fields.” On February 26, India and Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to strengthen co-operation in military training, logistics supplies and exchange of defense-related information. On last January 23, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia signed a defense cooperation agreement,  the first of its kind.

While a strong Saudi-Pakistan defense partnership has existed for long, it has been upgraded recently. Princes Salman and Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal arrived in Pakistan on February 15. Pakistani army chief General Raheel Sharif was in Saudi Arabia earlier. Director of South Asia Studies Project at the Middle East Media Research Institute, Washington DC, Tufail Ahmad, wrote on this March 11 that “the upswing in the relationship marks a qualitative change,” hinting that the kingdom could be seeking Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities to “counter a nuclear-capable Iran” despite Islamabad’s denial, which “is not reliable.” The kingdom is moving “to transform itself as a regional military power,” Sharif wrote.

On this March 14, the Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia has given $1.5 billion (Dh5.5 billion) to Pakistan. In February a senior Pakistani intelligence official told the Financial Times that Saudi Arabia was seeking “a large number of [Pakistani] troops to support its campaign along the Yemeni border and for internal security.” The official confirmed that Pakistan’s agreement, during Prince Salman’s visit, to support the establishment of a “transitional governing body” in Syria was an important aspect of the deal.

On this March 5, the kingdom led two other members of the six-member GCC, namely the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to withdraw their ambassadors from Qatar, risking the survival of the GCC.

Hunting two French and Lebanese birds with one shot, the kingdom early last January pledged a $3 billion royal grant, estimated to be two-time the entire military budget of Lebanon, to buy French weapons for the Lebanese Army.

The Saudi multi-billion dollar support to the change of guards in Egypt early last July and the kingdom’s subscription to Egypt’s make or break campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) inside and outside the country following the ouster of the MB’s former president Mohammed Morsi reveal a much more important Saudi strategic and security unsigned accord with Egypt’s new rulers.

On the outset of the so-called “Arab Spring,” the kingdom also bailed out Bahrain and the Sultanate of Omen with more multi-billion petrodollars to buy the loyalty of their population.

More multi-billion petrodollars were squandered inside the country to bribe the population against joining the sweeping popular Arab protests.

Yet still more billions were squandered on twenty percent of all arms transfers to the region between 2009-2013 to make the kingdom the world’s fifth largest importer of arms while more Saudi orders for arms are outstanding, according to a new study released on this March 17 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

While the United States will continue to “guarantee Israel’s qualitative military edge” over all the twenty two Arab nations plus Iran, Iran is developing its own defense industries to defend itself against both the US and Israel, rendering the Saudi arms procurement efforts obsolete.

Had all of those squandered billions of petrodollars spent more wisely they could have created a revolution of development in the region.

Not Assured by US Assurances

Ahead of Obama’s visit, the Saudi message is self-evident. They are looking, on their own, for alternative security guarantees, or at least additional ones. They don’t trust their decades – long American security umbrella anymore. The US sellout of close allies like the former presidents of Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen shed doubt on any “assurances’ Washington would be trying to convey during Obama’s upcoming visit.

President Obama is scheduled to be in Riyadh by the end of this March to assure Saudi Arabia of what his Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns on last February 19 told the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the United States takes Saudi security concerns “seriously,” “US-Saudi partnership is as important today as it ever was” and that the “Security cooperation is at the heart of our agenda” with the GCC, reminding his audience that his country still keeps about 35,000 members of the US military at 12 bases in and around the Arabian Gulf.

However, “the Saudi voices I hear do not think that what they see as the current lack of American resolve is merely a short-term feature of the Obama Presidency: They spot a deeper trend of Western disengagement from their region,” Sir Tom Phillips – British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia 2010-12 and an Associate Fellow at the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Programme – wrote on last February 12.

Obviously, the Saudis are not assured, neither internally, regionally or at the international level because as Burns said on the same occasion: “We don’t always see eye to eye” and it is natural that Gulf states would “question our reliability as partners” given US efforts to achieve energy independence and US warnings that traditional power structures, such as the gulf monarchies, are “unsustainable.”

Obama’s upcoming visit to the kingdom has been described as a “fence-mending” one. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal, at a joint press conference alongside visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry last November, hinted that fences might not be mended because “a true relationship between friends is based on sincerity, candor, and frankness rather than mere courtesy.”

What Prince Al Faisal described as “frankness” is still missing: His brother, prince Turki al-Faisal, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last December, blasted the Obama administration for keeping his country in the dark on its secret talks with Iran: “How can you build trust when you keep secrets from what are supposed to be your closest allies?”

“The Saudis have good reason to feel besieged and fearful,” Immanuel Wallerstein, director emeritus of the Fernand Braudel Center at Binghamton University and senior researcher at Yale University and Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris, was quoted as saying by AlJazeera America on this March 1.

Senior associate of Carnegie’s Middle East program Frederic Wehry on this March 10 wrote that, “There is a growing sense in Gulf capitals … led by Saudi Arabia” that “the United States is a power in retreat that is ignoring the interests of its steadfast partners, if not blithely betraying them.”

What Burns described as “tactical differences” with Saudi Arabia and its GCC co-members, the Saudis are acting on the premise that those differences are much more strategic than “tactical” and accordingly are overstretching their search for alternative security guarantees worldwide because they seem to disagree with Burns that “our Gulf partners know that no country or collection of countries can do for the Gulf states what the United States has done and continues to do.”

Pressured between Two ‘Crescents’

Three threatening developments have led to Saudi distrust in US security assurances. The first was the selling out of a US ally like the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the second was the Qatari, Turkish and US coordination with the Muslim Brotherhood regionally and the third was the assumption to power of the MB in Egypt. The first development set the precedent of selling out of a long regional US ally against the fervent public advice of the kingdom. Mubarak’s ouster set the red lights on in Riyadh of a possible similar scenario in Saudi Arabia.

The second development put the kingdom on alert against the emerging MB, Turkey, Qatar and the US axis that would have encircled Saudi Arabia had the kingdom allowed this axis to hand the power over to the Brotherhood in Syria in the north and in Egypt in the west. The MB is influential in Jordan, the kingdom’s northern neighbor, and in Yemen, its southern neighbor. The Hamas’ affiliation to the MB in the Palestinian Gaza Strip would complete what a Saudi analyst called the “Brotherhood crescent” in the north, west and south, to squeeze the kingdom between the rock of this “Brotherhood crescent” and the hard place of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the east.

The third development surrendered the western strategic backyard of the kingdom to the MB, which has become untrustworthy politically in view of its membership in the emerging US-led ““Brotherhood crescent” after decades of sponsoring the MB leaders who found in the kingdom a safe haven from their suppression in Syria and Egypt and using them against the pan-Arab regimes in both countries and against the pan-Arab and communist political movements.

Unmercifully pressured between the “Brotherhood crescent” and what King Abdullah II of Jordan once described as the “Shiite crescent” extending from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Hezbullah in Lebanon, let alone the al-Qaeda offshoots, which have deep roots inside the kingdom and in its immediate surroundings and have emerged as a major threat to regional as well as to internal stability, in addition to what the Saudis perceive as the withdrawal or at least the rebalancing of the US power out of the region, the kingdom seems poised to find an answer to the question which Bruce Riedel asked on September 30, 2012 about whether or not the “revolution in Saudi Arabia is no longer unthinkable.”

The Saudi answer so far has been reactive more than proactive. “It is difficult to avoid the impression that Saudi policy is more re-active than pro-active,” Sir Tom Phillips – British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia 2010-12 and an Associate Fellow at the Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Programme – wrote on last February 12.

Proactive Shorter Path Overdue

Following the lead of the United States and Europe who have come to deal with the fait accompli that Iran as a pivotal regional power is there to stay for the foreseeable future, a more Saudi proactive regional policy that would engage Iran and Syria would be a much shorter and cheaper route to internal security as well as to regional stability, instead of reacting to their alliance by engaging in a lost and costly battle for a “regime change” in both countries.

Or much better, the kingdom could follow the lead of the Sultanate of Oman, which risked to break away from the GCC should they go along with the Saudi proposal late in 2011 for transforming their “council” into an anti-Iran military “union.” Regardless of what regime rules in Tehran and since the time of the Shah, Oman has been dealing with Iran as a strategic partner and promoting an Iranian-GCC regional partnership.Qatar takes a middle ground between the Saudi and Omani positions vis-à-vis Iran. On this March 17, the Qatar-Iran joint political committee convened in Tehran.

Feeling isolated, besieged and threatened by being left in the cold as a result of what it perceives as a withdrawing US security umbrella, the kingdom’s new experience of trying to cope on its own is indulging the country in counterproductive external policies in the turmoil of the aftermath of the shock waves of  the Arab popular uprisings, which have raged across the Arab world since 2011, but its tide has stopped at the Damascus gate of the Iranian – Syrian alliance, which is backed internationally by the emerging Russian and Chinese world powers.

At the end of the day, the kingdom’s recent historical experience indicates that the Saudi dynasty lived its most safe and secure era during the Saudi-Egyptian-Syrian trilateral understanding, which was developed as a regional axis of stability, as the backbone of the Arab League regional system and was reinforced by the trilateral coordination in the 1973 Arab – Israeli war.

The revival of the Saudi coordination with Egypt in the post-Morsi presidency was a crucial first step that would lead nowhere unless it is completed by an overdue Saudi political U-turn on Syria that would revive the old trilateral axis to defend Arabs against Israel. A partnership with Iran would be a surplus; otherwise the revival of the trilateral coordination would at least serve as a better Saudi defense against Iran as well.

However such a Saudi U-turn would require of course a strategic decision that would renege on the kingdom’s US-inspired and ill-advised policy of dealing with Syria and Iran as “the enemy,” while dealing with Israel, which still occupies Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese territories, as a possible “peace partner” and a co-member of an anti-Iran and Syria “front of moderates,” which the successive US administrations have been promoting.

It would first require as well a change of foreign policy decision-makers in Riyadh, but such a change will continue to be wishful thinking until a man of an historic stature holds the wheel at the driving seat at the helm of the Saudi hierarchy. Until that happens, it might be too late. Meanwhile, it is increasingly becoming a possibility that the “revolution in Saudi Arabia is no longer unthinkable.”

Posted in Saudi ArabiaComments Off on Is Saudi Arabia Primed for Revolution?

UN rights investigators slam Syria militants for crimes

NOVANEWS

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, head of the Geneva-based UN commission of inquiry on Syria

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, head of the Geneva-based UN commission of inquiry on Syria

Mar 6, 2014, Press TV

UN human rights investigators have for the first time blamed foreign-backed militants operating in Syria for crimes against humanity.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, head of the Geneva-based UN commission of inquiry on Syria, said in a Wednesday statement that the UN Security Council “bears responsibility for not addressing accountability and allowing the warring parties to violate” rules of war “with total impunity.”

The UN commission had previously only accused the Syrian government for violations of the rules of war and human rights.

In its latest report to the UN Human Rights Council, the commission said several foreign-backed militant groups in Syria had systematically detained and tortured civilians.

The UN commission further reported that crimes against humanity were committed in the northern province of Raqqa, where ethnic Kurds have been detained and tortured by militants.

The report also confirmed that al-Qaeda-linked groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al-Nusra Front, the Ahrar al-Sham and the Shahid Walid al-Sukhni Battalion all operate detention and torture centers in areas under their control within Syria.

“The acts committed by non-state armed groups identified above in areas under their control against the civilian population constitute torture and inhuman treatment as a war crime and, in the context of (al-Raqqa), as a crime against humanity,” the UN commission stated in its report.

The commission also censured the UN Security Council for failure to bring those responsible for human rights violations in Syria to justice by referring them to the International Criminal Court.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on UN rights investigators slam Syria militants for crimes

From Ireland to Canada, boycott I$raHell is the word

NOVANEWS

Good news for humanity, bad news for Israel, the world’s only surviving apartheid state.

Students at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) have voted by an overwhelming majority to endorse the Palestinian call for boycotting Israel, Electronic Intifada reports.

Official results show that a total of 1,954 students voted “yes” to a motion “That NUI Galway Students’ Union actively supports the campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] against the State of Israel”.

The “no” vote was 1,059.

Commenting on the 2-to-1 victory for the BDS motion, Martin O’Quigley, the chairman of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC), praised the students

who stood with the oppressed on the right side of history and endorsed this measure, despite a stream of venomous anti-Palestinian propaganda and dirty tricks being injected into the debate from off-campus forces, including the Israeli embassy in Ireland’s failed attempts at using social media to influence the outcome.

According to Electronic Intifada, the Israeli embassy took the extraordinary step of publicly campaigning against the ballot, claiming in one of its Facebook postings that a vote for BDS would be a vote for “anti-Semitism”.

Meanwhile, in Canada students at the University of Ottawa have launched a campaign to ban from campus hummus produced by the Israeli company Sabra, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports.

Sabra is partly owned by the Strauss Group, a foodstuffs manufacturer which financially supports the Israeli army’s Golani Brigade. According to human rights organizations, the brigade is responsible for numerous human rights violations.

Lacking an indigenous culture, Israelis, whose cultural heritage lies faraway from Palestine – in Europe, Russia and the United States – claim traditional Arab dishes, such as hummus and falafel, as their own, much to the amusement of Palestinians and other Arabs.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, CampaignsComments Off on From Ireland to Canada, boycott I$raHell is the word

Snowden 2.0: Is There a New Active Duty NSA Whistleblower?

NOVANEWS

Report in German paper cites “high level NSA employee,” but it wasn’t Snowden. Is there more where this came from?

– Jon Queally

If a “high-ranking NSA employee in Germany” was not authorized to disclose the agency’s continued spying on the Merkel government, what else does he or she know? (Mark J. Terrill/AP)Perhaps one of the most striking and revelatory aspects about the latest NSA surveillance news story, this one published Sunday by The Bild am Sonntag newspaper in Germany, was that it was not based on leaked documents from the now famous NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

What the paper reported, based on information provided by a “high-ranking NSA employee in Germany,” was that the U.S. spy agency—after being outed for spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel—responded to an order to refrain from spying directly on Merkel’s phone by intensifying its monitoring of other high-level officals her government.

“We have had the order not to miss out on any information now that we are no longer able to monitor the chancellor’s communication directly,” the source told the newspaper.

But, as journalist Glenn Greenwald pointed out in his Monday column, the fact that the revelations are based on a “high-ranking NSA employee in Germany” means that whoever spoke to the paper “is yet another NSA source to come forward to disclose the agency’s once-secret acts.”

And Seth Millstein, writing at the Bustle, explains why the importance of the Bild am Sonntagreporting is two-fold:

First, if this report is true, the NSA is apparently hell-bent on spying on Germany’s top officials. Tapping Merkel’s phone is one thing — a big thing, to be sure — but to tap her aides’ phones after the initial phone-tapping goes public, and after promising not to do so again, is another thing altogether. It’s borderline hostile, and communicates the U.S.’s true global priorities loudly and clearly to Germany. If the report is accurate, those priorities don’t include respecting Germany’s privacy as a supposed U.S. ally.

But the source of this leak is important, too. Bild am Sonntag said that the information came from a high-ranking NSA employee in Germany. Edward Snowden doesn’t work for the NSA anymore (duh), and by all accounts, he’s currently in Russia. This means that there’s another potential leaker within the agency’s ranks — or, at the very least, an NSA employee who feels comfortable coming forward to the press about the agency’s most secretive, controversial activities abroad.

Whether or not the source can be trusted or if the public will hear from he or she again is not yet clear, but if there is a new NSA whistlblower ready to step forward with even a fraction of what Snowden has, it could further shatter the guarded secrecy of the agency with a global reach.

Additionally, numerous commentators have suggested that one of the reasons why the U.S. government’s focus on capturing and punishing Snowden is to dissuade other would-be whistleblowers—in the NSA or other government agencies—from following his example.

What “amazes” TechDirt blogger Mike Masnick about the latest revelations regarding the NSA’s ongoing surveillance program of German politicians “is the fact that it’s already leaked out.”

The seemingly un-authorized disclosure, writes Masnick, comes “despite all the talk of cracking down on future leaks out of the NSA, the NSA already has another leaker releasing information that is clearly politically sensitive.”

It’s possible, writes Millstein, “that the overall success of Snowden’s dramatic reveal has inspired other NSA employees to spill the beans on aspects of U.S. surveillance with which they’re uncomfortable.”

And as Masnick concludes: “So many folks like to point to Snowden as if he’s the only leaker the NSA ever had or ever will have. But it’s increasingly looking like there are others within the NSA who are equally uncomfortable with what’s become of the intelligence community.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Snowden 2.0: Is There a New Active Duty NSA Whistleblower?

Zio-Nazi forces continue systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

NOVANEWS

  • A Palestinian child was killed in the far southwest of Hebron.
  • Israeli forces launched 3 airstrikes on different areas in the Gaza Strip.

–       26 greenhouses were completely destroyed and 20 others were partially damaged.

  • Israeli forces continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank.

–       4 Palestinian civilians and a Norwegian activist were wounded in protests organized against the annexation wall.

–       A Palestinian boy was wounded in a protest at the entrance of al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah.

  • Israeli forces conducted 64 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

–        50 Palestinian civilian, including 7 children, were arrested.

–       Journalist Fida’ Naser was detained in Hebron for a few hours and was then released.

  • Israel continued to impose a total closure on the oPt and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

–       Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank.

–       At least 6 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were arrested at checkpoints in the West Bank.

  • Israeli navy forces continued targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea.

–       A store at Beit Hanoun beach was destroyed as it was shelled by Israeli gunboats.

  • Israeli forces continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

–       Settlers uprooted 90 olive trees in Nablus and Hebron.

–       3 civilians were injured by glass shrapnel of their vehicle that was attacked by a bottle.

Summary

Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (13 – 19 March 2014).

Shooting:

During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian child. They also wounded 7 Palestinian civilians, including a child, and Norwegian activist in the West Bank; 5 of whom, including the Norwegian activist, were wounded in the protests organized against the annexation wall while a civilian was wounded in other protests. Two Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded when Israeli forces moved into Beit Ommar village, north of Hebron. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces launched 3 airstrikes, 4 shooting attacks at fishing boats and one along the border fence. No casualties were reported.

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces launched 3 airstrikes on 13 and 14 March 2014, as a result of which, 26 greenhouses were completely destroyed and 20 others were partially damaged, but no casualties were reported.

On 17 March 2014, Israeli forces positioned on watchtowers in the vicinity of Beit Hanoun crossing and north of Um al-Nasser village in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at open areas, but no casualties were reported.

In the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea, Israeli navy forces opened fire 4 times at Palestinian fishing boats on 15, 16 and 17 March 2014. As a result, a store belonging to a Palestinian fisherman was completely destroyed, but no casualties were reported.

In the West Bank, on 19 March 2014, Israeli forces stationed around the annexation wall, west of Doura, southwest of Hebron, killed a Palestinian child and wounded 2 others in company.

In the same context, Israeli forces used excessive force against peaceful demonstrations organised by Palestinian civilians, international and Israeli human rights defenders in protest at the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank. As a result, 4 Palestinian civilians and Norwegian activist were wounded.

In the same context, an 18-year-old Palestinian civilian sustained a bullet wound to the right leg during a protest at the southern entrance of al-Jalazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah, on 14 March 2014.

On 13 March 2014, 2 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded when Israeli forces fired at a number of youngsters gathered during a funeral in the cemetery in Beit Ummar village, north of Hebron, near the bypass road (60).

The full report is available online at:

http://www.pchrgaza.org/portal/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10202:weekly-report-on-israeli-human-rights-violations-in-the-occupied-palestinian-territory-13-19-march-2014-&catid=84:weekly-2009&Itemid=183

 

 

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Zio-Nazi forces continue systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

FIFA PLAY BALL: HELP END MODERN SLAVERY IN QATAR

NOVANEWS


Squalid, overcrowded accommodation. Brutally long days working in the blistering heat. Regular abuses of rights such as having passports withheld or being lied to about the nature of promised work.1

This is the everyday reality for migrant workers in Qatar helping to bring us the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Worse still, recent reports show that workers from Nepal and India are dying in record numbers on Qatari construction sites since the country won its World Cup bid.2

FIFA has pledged to do more to improve the “unacceptable” situation for workers on World Cup-related projects,3 but these words have yet to be followed by action.

Call on FIFA to take responsibility for awarding the World Cup to a country with historic issues of worker exploitation and forced labour. FIFA President Sepp Blatter must use his influence over World Cup organisers to ensure all future World Cups are slavery free, including Qatar as a top priority.

FIFA should:

  • Call for an end to the exploitative kafala system in its current form in Qatar, specifically by allowing workers to freely change jobs and leave the country without their employer’s permission.
  • Demand that fundamental labour rights are protected as a requirement for countries to be selected to host World Cups.
  • Call on the Qatar 2022 organising authorities to establish a complaints mechanism that allows migrant workers to report abuses and secure justice.

SOURCES

  1. http://www.ituc-csi.org/qatar-response-to-labour-rights 

  2. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/18/qatar-world-cup-india-migrant-worker-deaths 

  3. http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/qatar2022/media/newsid=2227055 

Posted in Middle East, Campaigns, Human RightsComments Off on FIFA PLAY BALL: HELP END MODERN SLAVERY IN QATAR

I$raHell is Killing Palestinian Civilians With Impunity: Amnesty International

NOVANEWS

Human rights group calls for the international community to halt arms shipments to I$raHell, citing possible war crimes

– Sarah Lazare

Relatives of Samir Awad mourn his death at a hospital in Ramallah, to where his body was taken after the shooting. (Photo: Issam Rimawi/Zuma Press/Corbis)Israeli forces are killing Palestinian civilians in the West Bank — including children — with “callous disregard for human life,” enjoying near impunity for likely war crimes, and should be immediately cut off from arms shipments by the international community, declares a damning report released by Amnesty International on Thursday.

“This is a hugely significant development,” says Mike Coogan of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation in an interview with Common Dreams. “This report is unequivocal. It clearly points to the perpetrator of crimes — the Israeli military.”

Entitled Trigger-Happy: Israel’s Use of Excessive Force in the West Bank, the 87-page report documents mounting violence and human rights violations due to Israeli use of “unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force,” as summarized in an Amnesty statement. The study traces the chilling trail of death and injury this leaves behind.

In the past three years, at least 261 Palestinians in the West Bank — 67 of them children — have been seriously injured by live gunshots fired by Israeli forces. In this same time frame, over 8,000 Palestinians in the West Bank — 1,500 of them children — have been wounded by other weapons wielded by Israeli forces in the West Bank, including rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas, with some dying from their wounds.

The report highlights the murder of 22 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank last year, four of whom were children, and 14 of whom were killed at protests. In some of these cases, Amnesty found evidence of “willful killings, which would amount to war crimes,” according to the summary.

Sixteen-year-old school boy Samir Awad, from Bodrus, numbers among the dead. He was shot by Israeli forces in January 2013 while protesting Israel’s separation barrier that slices through his village. Bullets hit the back of his head, leg, and shoulder as attempted to flee an ambush. Multiple eye-witnesses testify that he and other young protesters did not pose a danger to the Israeli forces who fired.

“Out of nowhere many soldiers jumped out and ambushed Samir,” said 16-year-old Malik Murar, a friend of Samir and eye-witness to his killing, in an interview with Amnesty. They shot him first in the leg, yet he managed to run away towards the village. But how far can an injured child run? Twenty, maybe 30, meters? They could have easily arrested him, especially when he was injured, but instead they shot him in the back with live ammunition… To me this is premeditated murder.”

One year later, “authorities have failed to ensure any accountability for his death,” the report states.

Samir’s murder is one of many that may constitute extrajudicial execution — a war crime under international law — the report reveals.

Others have also been shot in the back, and protests against expanding settlements, the separation wall that annexes Palestinian land, evictions, checkpoints, and restriction of movement are often met with deadly force, the report reveals. These killings are not transparently investigated, leading to an over-all permissive climate for arbitrary violence.

“The frequency and persistence of arbitrary and abusive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and police officers – and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators – suggests that it is carried out as a matter of policy,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty.

The report urges an immediate halt to use of deadly force by Israeli forces and calls for the international community — including the United States — to halt all arms shipments.

“Amnesty’s courageous call for cutting all transfer of weapons to Israel is a very significant first step towards a full embargo,” said Omar Barghouti — Palestinian campaigner for boycott, divestment, and sanction of Israel — as quoted in Mondoweiss. “Israel should not get away with what Amnesty rightly characterizes as ‘war crimes’ and ‘willful killings’ of Palestinian civilians.”

The Israeli Army swiftly released a statement and tweet dismissing the report as demonstrating a “complete lack of understanding as to operational challenges the IDF faces.” Yet the statements did not directly answer to the specific killings highlighted by Amnesty, including that of Samir.

Coogan said in response, “There is absolutely no excuse for Israel’s continued and flagrant misuse of weapons against civilians. Entire families have been affected by this. There is a very clear pattern, including clear video evidence.”

He added, “It’s about time that Israel is held accountable for this.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Human RightsComments Off on I$raHell is Killing Palestinian Civilians With Impunity: Amnesty International

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