Archive | March 24th, 2014

Georgia summons ex-president Saakashvili for questioning, threatens intl arrest warrant

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Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili (AFP Photo / Vasily Maximov) Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili (AFP Photo / Vasily Maximov)

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Georgia intends to question former president Mikhail Saakashvili as a witness in a number of criminal cases. After resigning Saakashvili left Georgia last November and currently lives and lectures in the US.

Saakashvili has been summoned to come to the prosecutor’s office in Tbilisi next Thursday, on March 27, at 10 AM local time (6 AM GMT).

“As investigations of a number of criminal cases have entered a terminal stage, the prosecutor’s office is facing the necessity to question Mikhail Saakashvili as a witness in these cases,” a statement from the prosecutor’s office said on Saturday. No comments from Saakashvili’s representative have been available so far.

The prosecutor is waiting for Saakashvili, who is currently lecturing at Boston’s Tufts University, to answer questions regarding as many as 10 instituted criminal proceedings.

The criminal cases the former president might be questioned on include murder, embezzlement, illegal seizure of assets, misappropriation of funds by the state security service, a police raid on an independent broadcaster, and more.

“Saakashvili should answer all the questions of the investigation, otherwise suspicions against him will deepen further. If he still has good sense, he should come to Georgia,” Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stated.

“If Mikhail Saakashvili fails to turn up, an international arrest warrant for him would be issued in accordance with the Georgian legislation,” Garibashvili stressed.

One of the topics on which Saakashvili is going to be questioned is the death of Georgia’s PM, Zurab Zhvania, in 2005.

Zurab Zhvania (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Vyatkin) Zurab Zhvania (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Vyatkin)

 

The prime minister of Georgia, Zurab Zhvania, one of the leaders of the country’s Revolution of Roses, together with the deputy governor of the Kvemo Kartli region (Eastern Georgia),Raul Yusupov, were found dead late at night on February 3, 2005, in a safe house in Tbilisi.

An official investigation into the tragic death of Zhvania and Yusupov maintained it was accidental due to carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty heater, but Zhvania’s supporters have always insisted on the carefully choreographed homicide nature of the incident.

As soon as the Georgian Dream coalition came to power, the investigation of the Zurab Zhvania’s death was immediately reinstated.

Also, the prosecutor’s office intends to question Saakashvili on a number of other much-publicized crimes.

One of them is a criminal case of the 2006 killing of Sandro Girgvliani, an employee of the United Bank of Georgia. All four convicted for his murder were granted pardon in 2008 by a special decree issued by then-president, Mikhail Saakashvili.

Another case in the spotlight deals with the operation surrounding the suppression of the mutiny at the Mukhrovanimilitary base in 2009.

The prosecutor’s office is also investigating illegal actions against the family of another political opponent of President Saakashvili, the businessman and media tycoon, Badri Patarkatsishvili, who was considered the richest man in Georgia.

Patarkatsishvili died suddenly at his mansion near London on February 12, 2008.

Also, in 2009-2012 the state security service misappropriated $5 million of funds; this case has also been carefully investigated by the new Georgian authorities.

Mikhail Saakashvili was Georgian president for nearly a decade, from January 2004 to November 2013, but then Georgy Margvelashvili, the head of the Georgian Dream coalition and political protégé of Saakashvili’s principal foe, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, won the presidential race.

Ivanishvili himself came to power after parliamentary elections in 2012 and served as Prime Minister until November 2013, when Irakli Garibashvili replaced him. The billionaire allegedly remains the power broker of Georgia’s political life.

A large number of Saakashvili’s secondaries are currently under investigation, primarily on charges of corruption, embezzlement and abuse of power.

In February 2014, a Georgian court sentenced Saakashvili’s ex-Prime Minister Vano Merabishvili to 5.5 years in prison for embezzlement. Both the ex-PM’s supporters and Western diplomats labeled the sentence as “political persecution,” but the new Georgia’s authorities firmly d

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An I$raHell takeover of the Palestinian Authority?

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Muhammad Dahlan

By Alan Hart

On the face of it that’s a silly question and the speculation it represents – that Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas could be replaced by an Israeli agent or asset – is not worthy of discussion. But before dismissing it readers might do what I did and consider two things.

The first is that Muhammad Dahlan, formerly one of the most powerful Fatah leaders and almost certainly the one who administered for Israel the polonium that killed Yasser Arafat, is now putting a big effort into getting rid of Abbas by one means or another and replacing him with – guess who? – himself.

In passing, it is interesting to note that according to a recent report in the Israeli newspaper Maariv, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s special envoy, Yitzhak Molcho, is in a secret dialogue with Dahlan who spends his time shuttling between Cairo and the United Arab Emirates, where he currently lives.  One assumption has to be that Netanyahu is hoping that if Dahlan became “president” of the Palestinian Authority (PA) he would go much further than collaborator Abbas in delivering for Israel. (Also worth noting is that Dahlan speaks fluent Hebrew. He learned to do so during his 11 spells in Israeli jails between 1981 and 1986).

The second consideration is Israel’s track record in successfully placing its agents inside Arab institutions and organizations at very high levels.

I’ll give two examples to make the point but first a note on the need for some precision with the terminology. In the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, the terms collaborator and agent or asset are not necessarily one and the same.

Collaborators, agents and assets

At leadership level a collaborator is a Palestinian who, out of weakness and to protect his own position and interests, is prepared to do more or less what is required of him by Israel and America, but who does it with reluctance (and may even have a problem sleeping at night for doing it). In that light it can be said that Abbas and many of his leadership colleagues have been collaborators with Israel and America.

An agent or asset is a Palestinian who serves Israel’s purposes with enthusiasm in order to advance his own interests (and probably does not have a problem sleeping at night). Dahlan’s record suggests that he is an Israeli agent or asset. (He is also well connected to the intelligence services of America, Egypt and some of the Arab Gulf states). But more of this in a moment.

Eli Cohen

One of the most successful Israeli agents was Eli Cohen. His devout Jewish and Zionist father was from Aleppo in Syria and moved to Alexandria in Egypt where Eli was born in 1924.

Eli Cohen’s role in the first half of the 1960s for Mossad and Israel’s Directorate of Military Intelligence was to insert himself into Syria’s political and military establishments at the highest level. To do this he posed as a Syrian businessman returning from Argentina where he went to create his cover. (While he was in Argentina he had unlimited funds available for the purpose of taking care of all the needs of visiting Syrian leaders and businessmen. Their needs included whores, alcohol and loans).

In Syria Israeli spy Eli Cohen became chief adviser to the minister of defence. And there were some in the top levels of Israel’s intelligence community who entertained the thought that their man could perhaps go all the way and become Syria’s president.

As it happened it all ended badly for Eli Cohen. In January 1965, with some assistance from Soviet experts, Syrian counter-intelligence officers uncovered his spying activities; and on 18 May 1965 he was publicly hanged in the Marieh Square in Damascus.

Because Eli Cohen’s work is classified we will probably never know the details of the information he provided for his Israeli masters about Syria’s military capabilities and intentions, but there’s a quite widely held view that attacking and taking the Golan Heights might not have been on Israel’s 1967 war agenda but for the information Eli Cohen provided about how they were defended. (On my reporting trips to Israel in the long countdown to the Six Days War I had conversations with visiting military experts from all over the world who were convinced by their own observations from afar that the Golan Heights were “impregnable” and, therefore, that Israel would not attempt to capture them when war came.)

Abu Nidal

My second example to illustrate Israel’s ability to call the shots on the Arab side is what happened inside Abu Nidal’s organization.

Abu Nidal (Sabri Khalil al-Banna) broke with Fatah in 1974 and set up his Baghdad-based terrorist organization because he was fiercely opposed to the pragmatic Arafat’s developing policy of politics and compromise with Israel. Among those assassinated by Abu Nidal’s hit men were 20 or so of Arafat’s peace envoys. They were  Palestinians Arafat trusted to tell European and other leaders behind closed doors what he could not then say in public himself: that he really was moving the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to compromise and a two-state peace with Israel.

Under Arafat’s direction, Abu Iyad, then in charge of Fatah’s security, conducted a lengthy and detailed investigation into how Abu Nidal’s organization worked. The findings, which they subsequently shared with me, were that Abu Nidal was an alcoholic – he drank at least one bottle of whisky a day – and his number two, the man who was masterminding the assassination of Arafat’s envoys, was an Israeli agent.

Abu Nidal was shot dead in Baghdad in August 2002. Palestinian sources said he was taken out on the order of Saddam Hussein. His government’s public story was that Abu Nidal had committed suicide. My guess was that Arafat or Abu Iyad said to Saddam, “Kill him”.

Before we return to Mohammed Dahlan, I’ll share with readers what Arafat told me about his biggest fear. It was that Syria would follow Egypt and Jordan and make peace with Israel if it was wise enough to withdraw from and return the Golan Heights. I asked Arafat what would be so frightening about that if it happened. He replied to the effect that Syria would then join forces with Jordan and Egypt to compel the Palestinians to accept whatever crumbs Zionism was prepared to offer them.

Muhammad Dahlan

My speculation (repeat speculation) is that if Muhammad Dahlan became the “president”, he would be prepared to use force as necessary to impose Israel’s terms for peace on the Palestinians.

Dahlan demonstrated his  enthusiasm for  doing Israeli and American dirty work when, at the request of the Bush administration, he agreed to lead a military campaign to destroyHamas after its election victory in 2006.  The Bush administration provided Dahlan with money and arms and trained his Fatah fighters in a number of Arab countries.

But it all went badly wrong for Dahlan and his sponsors. Hamas got wind of what Dahlan (fronting for the Bush administration and Israel) was intending and launched an Israeli-like pre-emptive strike. It destroyed Fatah’s security forces based in the Gaza Strip (which had been Dahlan’s base) and put Fatah politically out of business there.

Commenting on what had happened in the Gaza Strip, Hani al-Hassan, for many years Arafat’s crisis manager and one of his two most trusted advisers, said it was “not a war between Fatah and Hamas but between Hamas and Fatah collaborators who served the Americans and the Israelis.”

My speculation… is that if Muhammad Dahlan became the “president”, he would be prepared to use force as necessary to impose Israel’s terms for peace on the Palestinians.

Subsequently the Bush administration exerted heavy pressure on Abbas (which he resisted) to appoint Dahlan as his deputy. And some Palestinian officials said that the US and a number of European countries had made it clear that they would like Dahlan to succeed Abbas as head of the PA. They presumably believed then, as Netanyahu might well do today, that Dahlan as “president” would use whatever means were necessary to compel the Palestinians to make peace on Israel’s terms.

Shortly after his forces were expelled from the Gaza Strip, Dahlan re-established himself in the West Bank. And thereafter tensions between his Fatah supporters and opponents grew and grew.

In June 2011 he was expelled from Fatah because of the assumption that he had delivered for Israel whatever it was that poisoned Arafat. Three months later Abbas ordered a raid on Dahlan’s house and the arrest of his private armed guards.

Today in exile, and consulting with his allies in Abd-al-Fattah al-Sisi’s Egypt and some Arab Gulf states as well as Israel and America, Dahlan is plotting his comeback to replace Abbas by one means or another.

The Maariv article I mentioned above said that Dahlan has claimed that he and not Abbas can be counted on to bring peace, and that in 2010 he reportedly sent a letter to the Obama administration in which he said: “There is no choice but to replace Abbas with someone who can deliver results.”

Because Dahlan must know that Israel’s leaders are not remotely interested in peace on terms the Palestinians could accept, I think it is reasonable to assume that the result he has in mind is peace imposed on Israel’s terms   – effectively a Palestinian surrender to Zionism’s will.

Is a Dahlan/Israeli takeover of the PA really possible?

An indication that Abbas seems to think it cannot be ruled out was his request to President Obama that he press Israel to include Marwan Barghouti in the fourth and final batch of Palestinian prisoners due to be released at the end of this month. (Prisoner release was one of the inducements to secure Abbas’s green light for Secretary of State John Kerry to launch his “peace process”. But today Netanyahu is under mounting pressure from the neo-fascist tendency to the right of him to say “No” to any further prisoner releases.)

Barghouti is by far the most popular Palestinian leader and would easily win an election to replace Abbas as “president”. And that, of course, is precisely why Israel won’t release him. So if Abbas can be bullied and bribed by Israel and the US into lifting the ban on Dahlan’s return from exile to the occupied West Bank, he, Dahlan, could be in with a chance. In my view a victory for him would be the final betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

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Sanctions effect: Russia to change its economic partners…for the better

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Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, China's President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma pose for a photo after the BRICS leader's meeting at the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg.(AFP Photo / Sergei Karpukhin )Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, China’s President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma pose for a photo after the BRICS leader’s meeting at the G20 summit on September 5, 2013 in Saint Petersburg.(AFP Photo / Sergei Karpukhin ).

Western sanctions might push Russia to deepen cooperation with BRICS states, in particular, to strengthen its ties with China, which will possibly turn out to be a big catastrophe for the US and the EU some time later.

On March 18, the spokesperson for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, claimed in a BBC interview that Russia would switch to new partners in case of economic sanctions being imposed by the European Union and the United States. He highlighted that the modern world isn’t unipolar and Russia has strong ties with other states as well, though Russia wants to remain in good relations with its Western partners, especially with the EU due to the volume of deals and joint projects.

Those “new partners” are not really new since Russia has been closely interconnected with them for almost 13 years. This is all about the so-called BRICS organization, consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. BRICS represents 42 percent of the world’s population and about a quarter of the world’s economy, which means that this bloc of states is an important global actor.

The BRICS countries are like-minded in regard to supporting the principles of international law, the central role of the UN Security Council and the principles of the non-use of force in international relations; this is why they are so actively performing in the sphere of settling regional conflicts. However, the cooperation between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa goes beyond political aspects and is also demonstrated by dynamic trade and multiple projects in different areas. Today, in total, there are more than 20 formats of cooperation within the BRICS which are intensively developing. For example, in February the member-states came to an agreement about 11 prospective directions of scientific and technical cooperation, from aeronautics to bio- and nanotechnology. In order to modernize the global economic system, at the center of which stand the US and the EU, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have created the BRICS Stock Alliance and are creating their own development bank to finance large infrastructure projects. On the whole, despite fierce criticism of BRICS as an organization with no future, it is developing and increasing cooperation with its members and, in fact, BRICS is showing pretty good results.

With suspension of Russian participation in G8 and possible strengthening of economic sanctions, the experts expect some particular industries to be targeted, including limits on imported products. While the West seeks to hit Russia hard, it is important to notice that Russia is ready to switch to other markets, for instance BRICS, and increase trade volumes with countries from this bloc.

Indeed, Russia buys significant amount of products from NATO states, for example, 50 percent of fruits and berries come from Spain, Holland and Poland. Nevertheless, Russia is intensifying its economic ties with the developing world. In 2012 Russia was buying 41 percent of its beef from Brazil, though this index has recently decreased to 20 percent, and Russia is likely to increase its import in case of need. In February 2013, Russia and Brazil reached an agreement on the long-standing problem of pork exports to Russia, as well as agreeing on a list of sanitary and quality requirements for the annual import of millions of metric tons of Russian wheat. This is a shining example of the substitute partnerships that have yielded positive results, although some problems with sanitary norms had to be resolved. In other words, it’s beyond the power of the EU and US to make Russian people suffer from products scarcity since they are not the country’s only trade partners.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.(Reuters / Sergei Ilnitsky)Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.(Reuters / Sergei Ilnitsky).

The biggest brick in BRICS

It’s hard to ignore the fact that the role of the biggest and strongest member of BRICS is China’s, and obviously Russia will seek to improve its relations with Beijing even more than before. During the last year, relations between Russia and China have been enhancing and actively developing in various spheres. In particular, in 2013 the states signed 21 trade agreements, including a new 100 million ton oil supply deal with China’s Sinopec. In October 2013, the Xinhua news agency also reported that the two governments signed an agreement to jointly build an oil refinery in Tianjin, east of Beijing.

Moreover, China promised to pump $20 billion of investment into domestic projects in Russia, focusing on transport infrastructure, highways, ports, and airports, and it hoped to increase investment in Russia four-fold by 2020. In 2013, the trade volume between the states reached $89 billion, with bilateral economic relations showing positive signs, meaning that further cooperation will increase.

Indeed, leaders of the states called for annual bilateral trade between the two countries to be boosted to $100 billion by 2015. Besides, the two countries are considering further partnerships in the energy sector, particularly in the gas industry.

Currently, Russian gas is not supplied to China, though in 2013 Russia’s biggest independent natural gas producer, Novatek, signed preliminary memorandums with CNPC to sell at least 3 million tons of LNG per year between Yamal LNG and PetroChina International. Another Russian company, Rosneft, which is 75 percent state-owned, is vastly expanding its LNG projects to diversify its portfolio, and is focusing heavily on eastern markets, like Japan and China. In terms of confrontation between the West and Russia, the gas contracts between China and Russia could really gain momentum. At the same time it’s possible that Moscow would sign contracts on the sale of the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter to China before President Putin embarks on a visit to Beijing in May.

In 2014, Russia and China have a full agenda for bilateral cooperation, which includes not only trade but also such spheres as energy, aircraft building, mechanical engineering, military and science cooperation, tourism, etc. At the same time, cultural ties between the two nations are also strengthening, with 2014-2015 being named years of youth exchange. The leaders of Russia and China also decided to prepare jointly celebration events for the 70th anniversary of the victory over German fascism and Japanese militarism in 2015.

President Dilma Rousseff (L) speaks before the BRICS summit in Saint Petersburg in the sidelines of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013.(AFP Photo / G20RUSSIA)President Dilma Rousseff (L) speaks before the BRICS summit in Saint Petersburg in the sidelines of the G20 summit on September 5, 2013.(AFP Photo / G20RUSSIA).

Another important aspect of cooperation between Russia, China and India touches upon Afghanistan. The trilateral involvement of those nations into the Afghan issue has been actively developing since 2013 and could become a major factor for the Afghan leadership following the US withdrawal. It is important to note that the Afghanistan issue is vital to the regional security of Russia, China and India.

Once again, the recent Olympic Games emphasized the specific character of relations between China and Russia. The Chinese president, unlike European leaders, was present at the Opening Ceremony, which is especially demonstrative given that it was the time of the Spring Festival in China, when the Chinese prefer not to leave their homes except for visiting relatives and close friends.

Thus, China may become the biggest beneficiary of the sanctions against Russia since it means further rapprochement between Russia and China. One should remember that China has always been mainly interested in doing business and for sure it would be silly for Beijing to lose such a great opportunity to strengthen its ties with Russia. If I were someone responsible for decisions in Brussels or Washington, I would revise my opinion on implementation of sanctions against Russia. I wouldn’t call it a possible revival of the “Sino-Soviet axe” which existed during the Cold War and was an ideological counter-balance for the West, although this time the West itself is pushing one of its main rivals closer to another, creating a massive power that would surpass both the US and the EU by a long chalk. So the question is whether the West really wants this to happen? And what will it do when the Chinese dragon and Russian bear form an alliance?

Brazil is not only about meat

As was already mentioned, another BRICS-member Brazil is one of the Russian suppliers of meat, and trade in this industry is likely to rise if the West resorts to economic sanctions. However, meat import isn’t the only thing that binds these states. Over the last few years, Russia has also imported Brazilian coffee, sugar, juices and alcohol and exported mainly fertilizers. Moscow and Brasilia made a commitment to develop comprehensive cooperation in various areas, although for the moment particular attention is being paid to the military sphere. For instance, in December 2012 the states signed a treaty on supplies of Russian helicopters to Brazil.

The total trade volume between Russia and Brazil in 2013 made up $5.7 billion, however the two states seek to increase it up to $10 billion in the near future. The trade index in January 2014 reached $438.9 million, which was $25 million higher in comparison with January 2013. The distinctive feature of the cooperation between the two countries is the complimentary character of their economies, which makes ties between Brazil and Russia even stronger. In fact, there is a great potential for Russian-Brazilian cooperation and results of these ties could also be disappointing for the West.

I is for India

In his speech at a joint session of parliament on March 18, Russian President Putin thanked both India and China for their stance on the Ukrainian crisis. But why is India supporting Russia? Maybe the Indian government equates some similarities with Crimea in the history of Sikkim’s referendum and further merger with India when it became the 22nd Indian state in 1975 with Russian support. Maybe India is just seeking to develop closer ties and mutually beneficial partnerships with Russia.

Anyway, let’s look at some facts and figures. In 2012, bilateral trade volume reached $11,000 million which is rather modest in comparison with China or Brazil. Moreover, in 2013 this index slightly decreased. However, 2014 promises the renewal of bilateral contracts between India and Russia. For example, Defexpo India 2014 has reaffirmed the special relationship that exists between the defense industries of Russia and India, with a pavilion that houses exhibits of Russian companies being visited by top members of the Indian establishment. In general, the defense interactions between Russia and India are quite diversified, with almost every defense contract providing the creation of joint ventures or licensed production. In 2013, India’s import of Russian weapons reached $4.78 billion. Another industry which attracts India is computer-guided weapons, produced by the Russian Morinformsystem-Agat Concern.

In February the two states also confirmed their plans to boost cooperation in nuclear energy, with the former backing the construction of more units at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) and other parts of the country. Besides, India and Russia are set to sign an agreement aimed at productive cooperation in many spheres: space and military cooperation, trade, construction of a pipeline from Russia to India, and plans to set up a Joint Study Group to look into the scope of the CECA (Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement) with member-countries of the Customs Union (the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Belarus). It is certain that after this issue is addressed, trade volumes between Russia and India, as well as between the Customs Union and India will increase significantly.

AFP Photo / Prakash Singh AFP Photo / Prakash Singh

Costs for the West

It’s not really rational for the US and the EU to antagonize and try to isolate Russia. And there are several reasons for this. First of all, Russia is the largest oil and gas producer in the world and it simply means that imposing economic sanctions on Russia would shake up the global energy market and, therefore, the entire global economy. Not to mention the EU’s dependency on Russian gas. Are the global economies ready to witness a new crisis, given that they are still recovering from the latest financial crisis? It’s doubtful.

Second, Russia is investing massively in the US financial market, especially in Treasury bonds, and consequently, if Russia decides to withdraw its investments in response to Western sanctions, it would hit the US economy and cause a real financial crisis. So, crisis again.

Finally, during the last few years the Russian market has become one of the world’s largest markets for EU goods, products and services, while the EU is actively investing in Russia. In case of further worsening of relations between Russia and the West, the EU will have a serious headache, searching for new markets and suffering lasting damage because of suspended joint contracts.

So is it really worth pushing for such a gloomy future, or is it better to recognize the will of the Crimeans and give the whole of Ukraine a chance for a better life?

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Coups for export: US has history of supporting anti-govt upheavals

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US Assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (2ndL) distributing cakes to protesters on the Independence Square in Kiev on December 10, 2013. (AFP Photo / Party Press-Service / Andrew Kravchenko)

The US has been selective in supporting the self-determination of nations. It continues to dismiss Crimea’s choice to reunite with Russia, while at the same time backs the coup in Kiev. And the idea is hardly new for Washington.

The current situation in Ukraine has something in common with the one in Colombia, James Petras, a political analyst and Professor (Emeritus) at Binghamton University, New York, believes. The common part is the US role in what’s going on in both countries, he suggests in his op-ed, recently published at the website of Montreal-based Centre for Research on Globalization.

The two paths to 21st century empire-building-via-proxies are illustrated through the violent seizure of power in the Ukraine by a US-backed junta and the electoral gains of the US-backed Colombian war lord, Alvaro Uribe,” Petras says. “By rendering democratic processes and peaceful popular reforms impossible and by overthrowing independent, democratically elected governments, Washington is making wars and violent upheavals inevitable.”

The US has quite a history of meddling in Colombia since encouraging the breakaway of Panama, in the early 20th century. The US was then able to negotiate favorable conditions for the creation of the Panama Canal. The most recent example comes from 2013, when The Washington Post published an article revealing that the CIA actively helped the Colombian government to locate and kill guerrilla leaders.

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to people at the Shrine of the Fallen in Kiev on March 4, 2014. (AFP Photo / Volodymyr Shuvayev)US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to people at the Shrine of the Fallen in Kiev on March 4, 2014. (AFP Photo / Volodymyr Shuvayev).

While preaching non-interference to Russia, Washington has been very active in showing its support for, first, protesters in Kiev and then to the coup-appointed government. The US participation in events in Ukraine did not confine itself to distributing snacks to rally participants, or friendly gestures of support.

We’ve invested over 5 billion dollars to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure, prosperous, and democratic Ukraine,” Victoria Nuland, Assistant US Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia said in December, 2013.

The announcement has drawn criticism.

The West spent 5 billion dollars destabilizing Ukraine. This is something that is a mess that’s put on Russia’s doorstep by the West,” a US writer and activist, Daniel Patrick Welch, believes.

International law professor at Georgetown University, Daoud Khairallah, says there are many more examples of the US meddling in the internal affairs of other countries.

The Middle East is an example,” he told RT. “What is known as the Arab Spring is method of self-destruction, achieving political goals through having societies destroy themselves.”

US Senator John McCain (2nd L) signs a military helmet for a protester at Independence Square in Kiev on December 15, 2013. (AFP Photo / Yuriy Kirmichny) US Senator John McCain (2nd L) signs a military helmet for a protester at Independence Square in Kiev on December 15, 2013. (AFP Photo / Yuriy Kirmichny).

Quite a number of post WWII coups are believed to have been US-assisted, like the one in Iran in 1953. Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, who sought to turn Iran into a full democracy was ousted with the help of the US and replaced by the Shah, who then ruled as absolute monarch for the next 26 years.

It was the potential… to leave Iran open to Soviet aggression – at a time when the Cold War was at its height and when the United States was involved in an undeclared war in Korea against forces supported by the USSR and China – that compelled the United States [REDACTED] in planning and executing TPAJAX [the code name of the coup operation],” reads the CIA document, declassified in 2013 and cited by the Foreign Policy.

Similarly the US’s hand is seen in the 1954 coup in Guatemala, the in the Congo 1960, in South Vietnam 1963, in Brazil 1964, and Chile in 1973.

Latin Americans have always believed themselves to be a major target of the US over the years. A popular joke there says: “Why will there never be a coup in the US? Because there’s no US Embassy in Washington.”

We have examples of outside intrusion in the internal politics of states like Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Nicaragua, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Grenada,” the late Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, said in one of his RT interviews. “Repeated attempts of a coup in Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, and Bolivia. There was no coup in the 150-year-old history of Latin America, that the US government did not apply its hand to.”

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CNN’s Amanpour, State Dept. and good old double standards

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Christiane Amanpour.(AFP Photo / Spencer Platt)Christiane Amanpour.(AFP Photo / Spencer Platt).

Christiane Amanpour called out RT’s Nastya Churkina on CNN, claiming she’d reported on her own father, as if that was some kind of journalistic sacrilege.

And one more note: we continue to reach out to the Russian government for their comment, including officials such as UN Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin. We haven’t had much luck, but perhaps people like Churkin feel they don’t really have to leave their comfort zone,” Amanpour said Thursday in her show.

Churkin’s own daughter is the US-based reporter for ‘Russia Today’ in New York. She’s shown here, quizzing US State Department spokesman, Jen Psaki, over this whole Ukraine crisis. And in the past, she’s even reported on her own father.

Oh, these beautiful double standards! When you don’t know what to say, fall back on those standards at the double, as it were. But it is getting tedious and hard to stomach anymore.

If this is beyond the pale in the hallowed halls of America journalism, Amanpour would do well to remember this charming little video where she interviews her husband, James Rubin (former aide to State Secretary Madeleine Albright).

The interview is conducted alongside Victoria Nuland’s husband, Robert Kagan, who sits on the board of directors of the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI). The FPI, incidentally, has been roundly implicated in the now well-worn story surrounding the dramatic on-air resignation of our anchor, Liz Wahl.

In fact, CNN hasn’t been bothered in the slightest by the fact that two relatives have hammed it up on opposite ends of the camera, on more than one occasion. For example, here is a video of another CNN anchor, Chris Cuomo, interviewing his brother, New York governor, Andrew Cuomo.

But back to Amanpour: Is this really how you take Nastya Churkina to task for asking the State Department spokesperson tough questions? Don’t worry, Ms. Amanpour, no one wants to hurt the State Department. Anyway, everyone knows you’d kill for the dear DoS. So drop it! Everything’s fine. Nastya was just kidding.

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Syria says government troops ambushed, killed rebels who crossed into country from Jordan

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syria

Associated Press

BEIRUT –  Syrian state media say government forces have ambushed a group of rebels who crossed into the country from neighboring Jordan and killed several of the fighters.

SANA news agency said on Saturday that the rebels were members of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.

It says they were attacked near the town of Adra, northeast of Damascus, and that most of the rebels died in the ambush. The report says their weapons were seized.

Opposition activists also reported a government attack on rebels in Adra.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the ambush occurred late Friday and that at least 10 people were killed.

The Observatory’s chief, Rami Abdurrahman, says it’s unclear if all of those killed were rebels and if so, which group they belonged to.

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Facts only: Kosovo vs Crimea – ‘Good Independence’ vs ‘Bad Referendum’

NOVANEWS
(L) Thousands of people celebrate with Kosovo and Albanian flags in Pristina on February 17, 2009.  (R)  Sevastopol residents at a celebratory show held after the referendum on Crimea's status. (AFP Photo/RIA Novosti)(L) Thousands of people celebrate with Kosovo and Albanian flags in Pristina on February 17, 2009. (R) Sevastopol residents at a celebratory show held after the referendum on Crimea’s status. (AFP Photo/RIA Novosti).

The West has so far refused to legitimize Crimea’s decision to secede from Ukraine. Yet Kosovo, which was a part of Serbia, also broke away from its parent country, but has been recognized by the US and most of the EU.

But what makes one breakaway more justifiable than another, in the eyes of the world community?

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The unknown role of Kuwait’s Salafis in Syria

NOVANEWS

 Rebel fighters fire a machine gun during clashes with pro-government forces on March 18, 2014 in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. (Photo: AFP- AMC/Tamer al-Halabi)

Rebel fighters fire a machine gun during clashes with pro-government forces on March 18, 2014 in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. (Photo: AFP- AMC/Tamer al-Halabi)

al Akhbar

Kuwaiti Salafis have played a central role in supporting armed groups in Syria. They have established support entities, and most of them do their work in public and are highly organized. Major credit goes to unofficial Kuwaiti money in arming a number of the biggest armed groups in Syria such as Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, and al-Nusra Front.

Since the start of the Syrian crisis, a lot has been said about the Qatari, Saudi and Turkish roles in supporting the Syrian opposition and the armed groups. The Kuwaiti role, on the other hand, has not been exposed even though it is has been effective and influential. It is also different from the role played by the aforementioned countries, at least officially.

The Kuwaiti ruling family did not adopt this role publically, but at the same time it did not try to curb it. That is despite the fact that the Kuwaiti role has been a public one, featuring former and current Kuwaiti MPs, as well as Salafi clerics. It plays out on more than one front including funding and exporting jihadis. The Kuwaiti role involved not only creating military operation rooms and directing the course of certain battles, but also giving direct orders to commit massacres and then boasting about them.

The Hatla massacre: Made in Kuwait

A massacre was committed in the village of Hatla in Deir al-Zour’s countryside last June in which 60 victims were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. People were killed with Kuwaiti knives and purely for sectarian reasons. Just like al-Nusra Front boasted at the time that it “cleansed Hatla of the Shia,” Kuwaiti Sheikh Shafi al-Ajami boasted of “slaughtering Shias with knives” amidst cheers and cries of “God is great.” Saudi, Qatari and Kuwaiti media outlets celebrated the massacre each in its own way. When a journalist from Asia News Agency asked Ajami a few days later “if he feared that the Kuwaiti authorities might arrest him,” he replied: “This is an issue that concerns me and the Kuwaiti authorities,” who did not lift a finger.

Funding and directing al-Nusra Front

After its dispute with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Kuwaiti Salafis played a central role in funding al-Nusra Front. The nature of the relationship between the two sides changed from implementing specific missions and getting paid for them, like the Hatla massacre, to ongoing funding and supervision.

A jihadi source told Al-Akhbar that “al-Ummah Party under the leadership of Hakim al-Mutairi is now active in financing and directing al-Nusra Front.” The source says that there were leaks that revealed his role. According to those leaks, “Hajaj al-Ajami is Mutairi’s man in Syria. After disagreements erupted between al-Nusra Front and ISIS, Ajami took advantage of al-Nusra Front’s need for money and agreed with its leaders to provide them with support.” This support was coupled with Ajami’s recommendation of Kuwaiti mujahideen who became sharia officials and leaders within al-Nusra Front such as Abu Hassan al-Kuwaiti, who was until recently, one of the influential sharia officials.

According to the leaks, “he [Abu Hassan al-Kuwaiti] does not have enough education to qualify him to hold a position with influence on al-Nusra leaders.” Ajaj Ajami was not the only Kuwaiti to fund al-Nusra. According to the same source, “al-Nusra Front accepted the funding from Shafi Ajami who provided it with about a million US dollars so far.” Kuwaiti endeavors have also succeeded in prompting some brigades to swear allegiance to al-Nusra Front. This, the source says, means that “Mutairi has taken root in al-Nusra Front and seized control of it not only through sharia officials and funding, but also by penetrating the group through entire factions that pledge allegiance to him directly.”

It should be noted that a number of Kuwaiti media outlets promoted the sharia officials of al-Nusra Front and their role in “demonstrating the deviation in ISIS’s thought.” They also claimed that “these preachers are known for their diligence in seeking to learn, and their history of knowledge is well-known.”

The Council of Supporters

The Council of Supporters is one such initiative. Its formation was declared in December 2012 and it includes clerics, activists and former MPs such as Mohammed Hayef, who serves as the secretary general of the Council of Supporters.

Some of the most prominent members of the council are Dr. Fahd al-Khinah, Dr. Othman al-Khamis, Dr. Farhan al-Shamry, Dr. Nayef al-Ajami, Mohammed Dawi and Abdel Mane al-Sawwan. The council plays a vital role in funding a number of armed groups, such as Ahrar al-Sham, as Kuwaiti support played a primary role in its formation.

The Damascus operations room

The Council of Supporters was the real player behind the creation of the Damascus operations room in September 2013. It included Jaysh al-Islam, al-Furqan Brigades, al-Habib al-Mustafa Brigades, the Islamic Ahrar al-Sham Movement, the Companions Brigades and Battalions and the Army of the Muslims Brigade. A paragraph in its declaration of formation was dedicated to thanking the council, which has “graciously supported our operations room in all areas from military and logistic support to relief and moral support.”

Kuwait’s major campaign

The campaign was publicly launched in June 2013 at the same time as the Hatla massacre and was titled: “Kuwait’s Major Campaign to Prepare 12,000 Invaders for Syria.” The title was eventually mitigated by replacing the word “invader” with “mujahid.” The campaign collected 8.4 million Kuwait dinars (about US$ 30 million). Its main promoters were MPs Walid al-Tabtabaai, Jomaan al-Harbash, Mubarak al-Walaan, Falah al-Sawwagh, Badr al-Dahoum, Nayef al-Midras and Hamad al-Mattar. In addition to clerics Shafi al-Ajami, Abdul Aziz al-Fadli and Hajaj al-Ajami.

The [Syrian] coast operations room

Sheikh Hajaj bin Fahd al-Ajami played a central role in establishing an operations room for Syria’s coastal areas, which managed the attack on the villages of the northern Latakia countryside a few months ago. Ajami met at the time with a number of leaders of armed groups in the Latakia countryside, including Omar al-Shishani, the leader of the Army of Emigrants and Supporters. He convinced them to establish the operations room and launch the battle for Syria’s coastal area. Ajami is considered one of the most prominent supporters and financiers of Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham Movement. He plays a prominent role in providing the mujahideen with money through associations, some of which operate under the cover of humanitarian relief.

Al-Ajman and Yam tribes gathering to support Syria

This gathering represents one of the tribal activities supporting the revolution. It is controlled by the al-Ajman tribe, a sub-tribe of Yam. The gathering organizes campaigns to collect donations. Its funds are used in two ways, public relief work and clandestine arming. The last campaign was organized in October 2013 in the name of the Martyrs of al-Ajman and Yam tribe in Syria in “honor of the memory of some of the tribal men who were martyred, in Syria in defense of God’s religion and Muslims’ sanctity,” according to the statement made by the campaign’s general supervisor Nader Khamis bin Dakla al-Ajami.

The gathering cooperates with the Council of Supporters of the Syrian Revolution in Kuwait whose secretary general admitted in a speech he gave at the launch of the campaign that he “gives 70 percent of his support to the Army of Islam in Damascus.” Among those present were a number of official figures including ambassador Abdul Aziz al-Subaie, honorary president of the Arab Union of Childhood Ambassadors, who honored those in charge of the campaign.

Al-Tabtabai: Godfather of the siege of Nubl and al-Zahraa

Former Kuwaiti MP Walid al-Tabtabai is considered one of the most influential figures among the armed groups in Syria. He frequently visits the areas under their control. He makes sure that the aid collected in Kuwait reaches these groups either in the form of cash to cover the fighters’ salaries, or in the form of arms shipments. Opposition media sources confirmed that one of his visits to the Idlib countryside lasted four months during which he participated in planning some operations.

In September 2013, Tabtabai appeared in a video clip on Youtube during his participation in preparing and launching Grad missiles allegedly at the Syrian coast. Many of the supporters of the revolution have expressed their gratitude for his effective contribution, including “his keenness on tightening the siege imposed on the two towns of Nubl and al-Zahraa in the Aleppo countryside.” Opposition sources confirm that Tabtabai is one of the godfathers of this siege. In November 2013 a rumor emerged that “he was injured after an air raid targeted a meeting he was having with 10 leaders of the armed groups in the Aleppo countryside.” Others claimed that he was killed before he gave a statement from Kuwait denying such reports.

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I$raHell Charged with War Crimes and Genocide. Complete Judgment of Kuala Lumpur Tribunal

NOVANEWS
jewish settler

“The perpetrators had committed acts against the Palestinians, with intent to kill, cause serious bodily or mental harms and deliberately inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the Palestinians as a whole or in part.”

“The Tribunal recommends to the War Crimes Commission to give the widest international publicity to this conviction and grant of reparations, as these are universal crimes for which there is a responsibility upon nations to institute prosecutions.

The Tribunal deplores the failure of international institutions to punish the State of Israel for its crimes and its total lack of respect of International Law and the institutions of the United Nations.” 

..

THE KUALA LUMPUR WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL
20 – 25 NOVEMBER 2013
Case No. 3 – CHG – 2013

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission
Against
Amos Yaron
Case No. 4 – CHG – 2013

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission
Against
The State of Israel

..

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal (Tribunal) reconvened on 20 November 2013 to hear two charges against Amos Yaron (first Defendant) and the State of Israel (second Defendant). The first Defendant was charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, whilst the second Defendant was charged with the crime of genocide and war crimes.

The charge against the first Defendant is as follows –

“The Defendant Amos Yaron perpetrated War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and Genocide in his capacity as the Commanding Israeli General in military control of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Israeli occupied Lebanon in September of 1982 when he knowingly facilitated and permitted the large-scale Massacre of the Residents of those two camps in violation of the Hague Regulations on Land Warfare of 1907; the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949; the 1948 Genocide Convention; the Nuremberg Charter (1945), the Nuremberg Judgment (1946), and the Nuremberg Principles (1950); customary international law, jus cogens, the Laws of War, and International Humanitarian Law”

The charge against the second Defendant [State of Israel] is as follows –

“From 1948 and continuing to date the State of Israel (hereafter ‘the Defendant’) carried out against the Palestinian people a series of acts namely killing, causing serious bodily harm and deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction.

The conduct of the Defendant was carried out with the intention of destroying in whole or in part the Palestinian people. These acts were carried out as part of a manifest pattern of similar conduct against the Palestinian people.

These acts were carried out by the Defendant through the instrumentality of its representatives and agents including those listed in Appendices 1 and 2.

Such conduct constitutes the Crime of Genocide under international law including the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide 1948 (‘the Genocide Convention’) in particular Article II and punishable under Article III of the said Convention.

It also constitutes the crime of genocide as stipulated in Article 10 of the Charter of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War.

Such conduct by the Defendant as an occupying power also violates customary international law as embodied in the Hague Convention of 1907 Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

Such conduct also constitutes War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity under international law.”

The charges (together with the particulars of the charges) had been duly served on the Defendants, and were read in open court by the Registrar as these proceedings commenced.

Neither Defendant was present in these proceedings, but both were represented by the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team.

Read Complete Judgment (pdf)

The Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) versus the State of Israel

The proceedings directed against the State of Israel were led by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission.

Members of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC) are:

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (Chairman), Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, Dr. Denis Halliday, Mr. Musa Ismail, Dr. Zulaiha Ismail, Dr. Yaacob Merican, Dr. Hans von Sponeck.

Working in liaison with their Malaysian counterparts,  commissioners Dr. Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Prof. Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization were present in Kuala Lumpur throughout the proceedings.

This important judicial process has received very little coverage in the Western media.  Global Research will be publishing several reports following this historic  judgment against the State of Israel.

***

Read Complete Judgment (pdf)

Selected Excerpts

2 Prosecution’s Case

The Prosecution’s case against the first Defendant is that the first Defendant had committed War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and Genocide in his capacity as the Commanding Israeli General in military control of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Israeli-occupied Lebanon in September of 1982 when he knowingly facilitated and permitted the large-scale Massacre of the Residents of those two camps. These crimes were in violation of, inter alia, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, the 1948 Genocide Convention, jus cogens, International Humanitarian Law; and Articles 9, 10, and 11 of the Charter of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War.

The Prosecution’s case against the second Defendant is that from 1948 and continuing to date the State of Israel had systematically carried out against the Palestinian people a series of acts namely killing, causing serious bodily harm and deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction – with the intention of destroying in whole or in part the Palestinian people.

These acts constitute the Crime of Genocide under international law including the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide 1948 (‘the Genocide Convention’) in particular Article II and punishable under Article III of the said Convention. It also constitutes the crime of genocide as stipulated in Article 10 of the Charter of the Kuala Lumpur Foundation to Criminalise War.

In his opening statement, the Chief Prosecutor Prof Gurdial Singh said that the Prosecution will adduce evidence to prove the counts in the indictment through oral and written testimonies of victims, witnesses, historical records, narrative in books and authoritative commentaries, resolutions of the United Nations and reports of international bodies.

6. The Defence case

Mr. Jason Kay Kit Leon of the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team submitted that in the charges against the two Defendants, the Prosecution had listed war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace. Apparently the Prosecution had abandoned these charges, concentrating only on genocide.

He said that the offence of genocide is defined in Article 2 of the Genocide Convention 1948, whilst the OED defines it simply as “the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group”.

He submitted that the charge of genocide is unique; it means that you don’t like a group, you kill them; you kill them in a grand manner. Genocide means that at the end of the act, you have a lesser number of victims than before the genocide started.

He further submitted that when one talks of “massive killing”, it is many hundreds of thousands to millions of people. To suggest that an isolated event, the unfortunate murder of 3,000 people (Sabra and Shatila) is the same as massive killing is almost disrespectful of the true horror of massive killing (as in Rwanda, where 800,000 people were killed in 100 days).

With regard to the Kahan Report, the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team said that it also identified other people as being responsible, with two other names other than Yaron still alive. The question is why only Yaron was charged? Why was Defence Minister Ariel Sharon spared?

He also submitted that the PLO had repeatedly violated the July 1981 cease-fire agreement. By June 1982, when the IDF went into Lebanon, the PLO had made life in northern Israel intolerable through its repeated shelling of Israeli towns.

On Cast Lead, the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team submitted that the IDF had come out with two reports. The point is if you are going to kill people nilly willy, you do not report it.

On the issue of the wall, the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team submitted that the primary consideration is one of security of the Israeli settlers. The State of Israel has a duty to defend their lives, safety and well-being.

On the issue of checkpoints, the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team said countries have a right to immigration laws. With regard to Plan Dalet, the Amicus Curiae-Defence Team said that it is subject to divergent opinions, with historians on one side asserting that it was entirely defensive, while other historians assert that the plan aimed at an ethnic cleansing.

4. Prosecution’s closing submission

In his closing submission, the Chief Prosecutor said that he had called 11 witnesses (some of whom had testified through Skype), tendered 15 exhibits and furnished several documents and reports to the Tribunal during the course of the proceedings.

He urged the Tribunal to bear in mind that this is a Tribunal of Conscience and the case before it is an extraordinary case, which Winston Churchill used to call as a “crime without a name”.

He said that the Prosecution had provided evidence of facts which, examined as a whole, will show that the perpetrators had committed acts against the Palestinians, with intent to kill, cause serious bodily or mental harms and deliberately inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the Palestinians as a whole or in part.

From the testimony of Prof Pappe (PW8) the Prosecution had shown that before 1948, before UN Resolution 47, there was already a plan in place to take over the Palestinian territory, and this plan would be activated the moment the British relinquished its mandate over the territory.

At that point in time, the Palestinians were on 94% of the land, with the Jewish population settling over a mere 6% of the land. Under the UN partition plan, more than 50% of the land was to be given to the Jews.

Plan Dalet might not legally be genocidal in form at its inception, but as it took shape the ethnic cleansing metamorphised into killing, massacre and creating impossible conditions for life for the Palestinians – either they leave or they die. The Prosecution submits this is genocide within the meaning of Article 2 of the Genocide Convention.

On Sabra and Shatila, prosecution witnesses (PW1 and PW6) had testified that the Palestinian refugees in those camps had been killed by the Phalangists, aided and abetted by the Israelis who were in complete control of the two camps.

According to the Kahan Report, all of Beirut was under Israeli control, and there was clear symbiotic relationship between Israel and the Christian forces (the Lebanese Maronite Christian militia or the Phalangists or Keta’ib).

On Operation Cast Lead in 2008, the Chief Prosecutor said that the Israeli Defence Force had used all kinds of weapons, including white phosphorus – which is an incendiary weapon. The use of incendiary weapons is prohibited under Protocal III on the Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons.

As a result of the Israeli occupation of Gaza, nowhere in Gaza is safe for civilians. 1.5 million Palestinians are now trapped in despair, their fragile economy ruined. Under the Dahiya Doctrine (October 2008), the complete destruction of Gaza is the ultimate objective, the whole place must be flattened.

The Prosecution submits that the cumulative effect of the actions taken by the Israeli government, as shown by the Prosecution witnesses and the several documents tendered to the Tribunal, have shown beyond reasonable doubt that Israel is guilty of the crime of genocide under the Genocide Convention and the Charter of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (The Charter).

Co-Prosecutor Tan Sri Abdul Aziz, submitting on the first charge against Amos Yaron, said that Amos Yaron was the commanding officer in charge of the Israeli Defence Force, in charge of the area of Beirut, and camps Sabra and Shatila. He said there were two issues which he has to deal with – first, whether or not there was a large scale massacre of the 10 residents of the two camps, and second, whether or not Amos Yaron facilitated and permitted such massacre, in violation of international law and Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the Charter?

On the first issue, he submitted there was a large scale massacre, as testified by PW1. She was there, and she saw the massacre with her own eyes. There was corrobating testimony by PW6, and further acknowledged in the Kahan Report.

On the second issue, Amos Yaron was in charge, to ensure that there would be peace and law and order. The Kahan Report itself concluded that anybody who knew about Lebanon would know that by releasing the Phalangists into Beirut, there would be massacre. Surely, Amos Yaron, the General in charge, must have known that by allowing the Phalangists to go into the two camps, the massacre would take place. But he decided to do nothing.

He received the reports of the killing of women and children, but he did not check the report. He did not pass the report to his superiors. The co-prosecutor submits that by ignoring all this despite knowing the circumstances, he himself had the intention of causing the death of the people in the two camps.

10.3 Commission’s Register of War Criminals

Further, under Article 35 of the same Chapter, this Tribunal recommends to the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission that the names of the two convicted parties herein be entered and included in the Commission’s Register of War Criminals and be publicised accordingly.

10.4 The Tribunal recommends to the War Crimes Commission to give the widest international publicity to this conviction and grant of reparations, as these are universal crimes for which there is a responsibility upon nations to institute prosecutions.

10.5 The Tribunal deplores the failure of international institutions to punish the State of Israel for its crimes and its total lack of respect of International Law and the institutions of the United Nations. It urges the Commission to use all means to publicise this judgement and in particular with respect to the Parliaments and Legislative Assemblies of the major powers such as members of the G8 and to urge these countries to intervene and put an end to the colonialist and racist policies of the State of Israel and its supporters.

Read Complete Judgment (pdf)

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Chorus of I$raHell voices renews calls for Iran strike

NOVANEWS

netanyahu2

The military option, ‘in a coma’ since interim deal was reached on Tehran’s nuclear program, resurfaces in earnest

Times of Israel

A rising chorus of Israeli voices is again raising the possibility of carrying out a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in what appears to be an attempt to draw renewed attention to Tehran’s atomic program — and Israel’s unhappiness with international negotiations with the Iranians.

In recent days, a series of newspaper reports and comments by top defense officials have signaled that the military option remains very much on the table. While Israeli officials say Israel never shelved the possibility of attacking, the heightened rhetoric marks a departure from Israel’s subdued approach since six world powers opened negotiations with Iran last November.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been an outspoken critic of the international efforts to negotiate a deal with Iran. He has spent years warning the world against the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and fears a final deal will leave much of Iran’s nuclear capabilities intact.

But since the global powers reached an interim agreement with Iran last November, Netanyahu’s warnings about Iran have been largely ignored. A frustrated Israeli leadership now appears to be ratcheting up the pressure on the international community to take a tough position in its negotiations with Iran.

A front-page headline in the daily Haaretz on Thursday proclaimed that Netanyahu has ordered “to prep for strike on Iran in 2014″ and has allocated 10 billion shekels (2.87 billion dollars) for the groundwork. Earlier this week, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon hinted that Israel would have to pursue a military strike on its own, with the US having chosen the path of negotiations. And the military chief, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, said this week that Iran “is not in an area that is out of the military’s range.”

An Israeli military strike would be extremely difficult to pull off, both for logistical and political reasons. Any mission would likely require sending Israeli warplanes into hostile airspace, and it remains unclear how much damage Israel could inflict on a program that is scattered and hidden deep underground. In addition, it would likely set off an international uproar, derail the international negotiations and trigger retaliation on Israeli and US targets.

Yoel Gozansky, an Iran expert at the Institute of National Security Studies, a Tel Aviv think tank, said the comments were meant as a wake-up call to the world.

“It was in a coma. It has awoken suddenly,” he said of the military-option talk. “Someone has an agenda to bring up this subject again, which has dropped off the agenda in recent months, especially after the deal with Iran.”

Netanyahu has long been at odds with his Western allies over how to dislodge Iran from its nuclear program. He has called the interim agreement a “historic mistake,” saying it grants Iran too much relief while getting little in return, and fears a final agreement would leave Iran with the capability to make a bomb.

Israel believes that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, a charge Iran denies. Israel says a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state, citing Iranian calls for Israel’s destruction, its development of long-range missiles and its support for hostile militant groups.

During a swing through Washington early this month, Netanyahu tried to draw attention to the Iranian issue in stops at the White House and in an address to AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group. Israel then engaged in a six-day PR blitz when naval commandos seized a ship in international waters that was carrying dozens of sophisticated rockets Israel said were bound for militants in the Gaza Strip and sent by Iran. The effort was capped by a display of the seized weapons.

But beyond placid acknowledgments from world leaders, the ship’s seizure did little to change the course of negotiations with Iran.

Netanyahu said the world’s indifference to the naval raid was “hypocritical,” and he lashed out at Western leaders for condemning Israeli settlement construction while ignoring Iran’s transgressions.

Netanyahu’s past warnings have been credited with bringing the Iran issue to the fore and galvanizing world powers to take action on the nuclear program. He made headlines in 2012 when he drew a red line on a cartoon bomb during his speech at the UN General Assembly.

Yaakov Amidror, who recently stepped down as Netanyahu’s national security adviser, said the threat of a military strike is a real possibility.

“We aren’t playing a game of neighborhood bully. This is a stated policy of the state of Israel and has been made clear … to anyone who meets Israel’s representatives.”

But if Israel is trying to raise the alarm again, the move comes at an inopportune time. The urgency of the Iran issue has taken a backseat to more pressing international crises, namely Russia’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula. With world powers charging forward with negotiations with Iran, threats from Israel are likely to be ignored at best. At worst, they could alienate Israel’s closest allies.

Gozansky said the renewed threats were largely empty because if Israel carried out a strike with diplomacy underway, it would be seen as a warmonger out to destabilize the region. But he said the threats could nonetheless serve as leverage on Iran while it conducts talks. Netanyahu has suggested that may be the case.

“The greater the pressure on Iran,” he said in his speech to AIPAC, “the more credible the threat of force on Iran, the smaller the chance that force will ever have to be used.”

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