Archive | April 10th, 2015

Social Protests May Spiral Into “Left Terror” in Ukraine, After the Ultra-Right Kiev Bans Communist and Left Ideology

NOVANEWS
Global Research
drapeau-de-lukraine

by Fort Russ

Translated from Russian by Alexey Tatu

The prohibition of all propaganda related to Communist ideology in Ukraine is tied directly to the fear of the Kiev authorities of a threat of social protests, this was stated in Kiev on April 10, by political expert Aleksey Bluminov.

According to the expert, the government in Kiev has shown poor economic results, which naturally leads to an increase in social protests in the country.

“The ban of the Communist, and in fact, any left-wing ideology, and the establishment of criminal penalties for the promotion of corresponding ideas is not an accident or a deviation. It is a natural result of the policy carried out in Ukraine for the past year by the winning ultra-right forces.

“The current phase of repression and persecution against the left is directly linked to catastrophic failures in government policy by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, imposing on the country the measures dictated by IMF under the guise of “austerity”,” – stated the political analyst. Against a giant (in some areas reaching up to 93% from last year’s level) decline in industrial production, amid mass layoffs and reductions (according to official data, the number of registered unemployed in Ukraine in the past year has increased by 1.8 million people), the government is implementing large-scale cuts in social spending of the budget and these are cuts in salaries and pensions, eliminating benefits, and raising the price of literally everything.

“Add to this list the war, the cost of which is close to $100 billion. In such circumstances, the authorities are rightly afraid that the inevitable”leftization” of the society against the background of anti-war protests will lead to a sharp surge in popularity of even the “toothless” Communist party of Ukraine led by Petro Symonenko, who, synchronously with the prohibition of communism, was interrogated by the security service of Ukraine for eleven hours straight on trumped up charges of supporting terrorism,” said Aleksey Bluminov.

According to Aleksey Bluminov, there is a growing demand for left-wing political projects, and after declaring them outlawed, there is a possibly of the emergence of “left-wing” terrorist groups.

“There are already many existing and likely to form on a wave of discontent, radical non-systemic left-wing groups, including ones capable of real terrorism. And this terrorism, as in Russia at the beginning of the last century, will enjoy the sympathies of a large part of society. This is actually why the current Kiev regime carried out a preventive cleansing of the political field, and ahead of time criminalizing and victimizing any alternative policy from the left.

Because if the authorities have a “cure” against the protests with the “separatist” slogans in the form of pumping the society with a great degree of chauvinism and societal cohesion in the face of “external threats,” the regime has no “cures” at all against mass protests undersocial slogans, with clear political leadership and political programs that can attract the wider society under socialist banners” – concluded the expert.

Earlier, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a law banning the propaganda of the Communist ideology. The ban covers not only the national anthem and national symbols of the USSR, but also quotes of the leaders of the Communist party, the names of cities, villages, and streets. For example, according to this law the city of Dnepropetrovsk will have to be renamed into Kirovograd. In addition, the images of a hammer and sickle, and the national anthem of the USSR were outlawed.

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The Real Nuclear Threat in the Middle East

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I$raHell Dangerous Shell Game

by SHELDON RICHMAN

To get a sense of how badly the regime in Iran wants sanctions relief for the Iranian people, you have to do more than contemplate the major concessions it has made in negotiations with the United States and the rest of the P5+1. Not only is Iran willing to dismantle a major part of itspeaceful civilian nuclear program, to submit to the most intrusive inspects, to redesign a reactor, to eliminate two-thirds of its centrifuges, to get rid of much of its enriched uranium, and to limit nuclear research — it must do all this while being harangued by the nuclear monopolist of the Middle East — Israel — which remains, unlike Iran, a nonsigner of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and faces no inspections or limits on its production of nuclear weapons.

This is something out of Alice in Wonderland. The Islamic Republic of Iran, born in 1979, has not attacked another country. (With U.S. help, Iraq attacked Iran in 1980.) In contrast, Israel has attacked its Arab neighbors several times its founding, including two devastating invasions and a long occupation of Lebanon, not to mention repeated onslaughts in the Gaza Strip and the military occupation of the West Bank. Israel has also repeatedly threatened war against Iran and engaged in covert and proxy warfare, including the assassination of scientists. Even with Iran progressing toward a nuclear agreement,Israel (like the United States) continues to threaten Iran.

Yet Iran is universally cast as the villain (with scant evidence) and Israel the vulnerable victim.

You’d never know that Iran favors turning the Middle East into a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone (a nuclear-weapons-free zone was first proposed by the U.S.-allied shah of Iran and Egypt in 1974), and beyond that, Iran over a decade ago offered a “grand bargain” that contained provisions to reassure the world about its nuclear program and an offer to recognize Israel, specifically, acceptance of the Arab League’s 2002 peace initiative. The George W. Bush administration rebuffed Iran.

At the last NPT review conference in 2010, Iran renewed its support for the zone, the BBC reported at the time: “Tehran supports the ‘immediate and unconditional’ implementation of the 1995 resolution [to create the zone], declares the [then] president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

The United States and Israel claim in principle to support having the Middle East free of nuclear weapons — but not just yet. The Israeli government said in 2010 that implementation of the principle could occur “only after peace agreements with all the countries in the region.” ABC News quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying that Israel might sign the NPT “if the Middle East one day advances to a messianic age where the lion lies down with the lambs.”

That is classic Netanyahu demagoguery. As noted, the Arab League in 2002 — and again in 2007 — offered to recognize Israel if it accepted a Palestinian state in the occupied territories and arrived at a “just solution to the Palestinian Refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” At that point the Arab countries would “consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region”; i.e., they would “establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.”

Thus Netanyahu’s position is a sham. He could have peace treaties in short order if he wanted to. But, as he said before the recent elections, he will never allow the Palestinians to have their own country.

For its part, the United States “broadly agrees with Israel that conditions for a nuclear-weapons-free-zone do not yet exist in the Middle East,” the BBC reported. In other words, the Obama administration slavishly takes the Israel-AIPAC line.

While politicians and pundits lose sleep over an Iranian nuclear-weapons program that does not exist — are they having nightmares of the United States being deterred by Iran? — they support Israel, the nuclear power that brutalizes a captive population, attacks its neighbors, threatens war against Iran, and refuses to talk peace with willing partners.

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The War on Black America: Killer Cops Boost Body Count

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by GLEN FORD

“Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival….”

– Frederick Douglass

The United States produced a bumper crop of what Billie Holiday would call “Strange Fruit,” in March: at least 111 bodies, the majority of them unarmed men of color, shot down by police in the blood-fertilized streets of American cities. If one just counts the unarmed victims, that’s a rate of about two extrajudicial executions per day, roughly twice the “one every 28 hours” cited by the Malcolm X Grassroots Network’s 2012 report, Operation Ghetto Storm.

Yet, in the same month, President Obama declared Venezuela a threat to the national security of the United States, based largely on the death of 14 “dissidents” during a period of anti-government disturbances back in 2014. Many of the dead were pro-government activists killed by “dissidents.” By contrast, Philadelphia police have been shooting an average of one person a week for the last eight years, the overwhelming majority of them Black and brown, according to a new U.S. Justice Department report. As Frederick Douglass said, “for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

All across the country, the granting of impunity for the perpetrators of summary execution of Black men, women and children is “everyday practice” – now certified as “best practice” by Attorney General Eric Holder, who claims court precedents preclude prosecution of killer cops except under the most extreme conditions. (See “It’s Not the Law – but Prosecutors – That Give Immunity to Killer Cops,” December 10, 2014.)

Given the odds against prosecution, officer Michael T. Slager probably counts himself the unluckiest white man in South Carolina. A neighborhood resident’s phone camera captured Slager firing repeatedly into the back of 50 year-old Walter L. Scott, a Black North Charleston father of four with no criminal record who had been stopped for a minor traffic violation, tussled with the officer, and tried to run away.

Despite his claims to have been in fear for his life, Slager was charged with murder – a fate he would surely have avoided had he been under the jurisdiction of St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCulloch. Last year, McCulloch’s team led grand jurors to believe that “the law” allowed police to use deadly force against unarmed persons fleeing a felony, as Ferguson officer Darren Wilson claimed was the case with Michael Brown. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such shootings unconstitutional in 1985, as every public defender knows – and McCulloch surely knew, as well. The South Carolina cop also had the bad judgment to commit murder in clear view of a private citizen’s well-held camera.

Last weekend in the town of Zion, Illinois, about 30 miles north of Chicago, cops killed 17-year-old Justus Howell with two shots to the back while he was running away, according to the coroner’s office. Initially, the police reported no weapon on his body, but later the cops claimed the teenager had stolen a gun from another man minutes earlier, leading them to give chase. In time, the cops produced a gun,
KillingTrayvons1

which they will connect to the other Black man, who was held on $15,000 bail, and thereby seek to justify the killing of the unarmed, fleeing teenager Justus Howell.

Cleveland cop Michael Brelo distinguished himself as the most murderous member of a mob of 104 cops on a chase-and-shoot spree in Cleveland, Ohio, back in November, 2012. Mistaking a car engine backfire for a gunshot, the crazy cop caravan careened through Cleveland at speeds reaching 100 miles an hour, cornering Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, in a school parking lot. Russell and Williams, unarmed, died in a hail of 137 bullets – 49 of them fired by Officer Brelo, now on trial for voluntary manslaughter. Brelo and his partner fired 15 bullets through their own windshield at the Black victims’ car. Then, at a point when, according to the prosecutor, no cop’s life was in danger (except from other officers), Brelo jumped on the hood of the victims’ car and fired 15 more shots at the mortally wounded man and woman. Today, the cop says he has no recollection of the entire episode.

In December, the U.S. Justice Department concluded that Cleveland cops routinely use excessive force and are unaccountable to the public. The month before, in November, a city cop killed 12 year-old Tamir Rice as he played with a toy gun at a park. The officer shot the child twice after observing him for a total of two seconds.

Officer Brelo’s blank memory on the shootings of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, and officer Timothy Loehmann’s blink-of-an-eye deliberations on terminating Tamir Rice, point up the utter lack of value U.S. society places on Black lives. The high-profile killings this week, the obscene death toll last month, the unreported and delayed deaths, are a constant in the bloody history of America. When President Obama insists that racism is not, and has never been, “endemic” to this country, he is simply identifying himself as an active participant in the ongoing slaughter.

The police, as guardians of the State, believe they are simply doing their jobs. They must be right, since they continue to receive praise, protection and overwhelming white support for carrying out their mission as an army of occupation in Black America. The advent of the Internet and a heightened Black community awareness of police depredations, especially since the murder of Trayvon Martin, in February of 2012, has created the perception among many African Americans that police violence has dramatically increased in recent years. However, history and irrefutable statistics tell us that the “militarization” of the police and the criminalization of Black people as a group are fundamental aspects of a national mission begun in earnest in the late Sixties. Michelle Alexander calls it the “New Jim Crow.” Some of us at BAR prefer the term Mass Black Incarceration State, to describe the superstructure of Black control that has been erected over the past 45 years, a machinery that has so relentlessly criminalized the Black community that one out of every eight prison inmates on Earth is an African American. Any genuine movement for criminal justice “reform” must, therefore, aim to abolish the Mass Black Incarceration State, root and branch, by removing the “occupation” army from Black areas and replacing it with a force of Black people’s own choosing.

The U.S government set in motion the mass Black incarceration regime in the late Sixties for the purpose of counter-insurgency. The structures of Black containment, control and incarceration are now central to the workings of criminal justice in the United States – to the misfortune of lots of white youth who get sucked into the system as unintended “collateral damage.” The logic of the project dictates that those who attempt to dismantle the Black counter-insurgency regime will be treated as insurgents, themselves – a central fact for the Black Lives Matter movement to grapple with.

The wave of state violence that smashed the Black Panther Party when it challenged the police “army of occupation” in the late Sixties, never subsided, but was instead hard-wired into the criminal justice system, nationwide. That’s why the system’s operatives are still trying to kill Mumia Abu Jamal, a former Black Panther and probably the world’s best known political prisoner. That’s why so many other Party comrades are still behind bars – because they are symbols and icons of insurgency, and U.S. police and prison structures have been on a counter-insurgency mission for nearly half a century. And, that’s why the Black Is Back Coalition will hold a national conference on Black Community Control of Police, in St. Louis, April 18 and 19 – because there will be no justice and no peace until the occupying army is gone from our streets.

Black people must decide how that can be accomplished – by any means necessary.

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Shoot Me: Being Black in America Means Being a Target

NOVANEWS

by LINDA CHAVERS

What is has always been.

In America, black people have always been targeted, stalked, terrorised, tortured, murdered. Sometimes what I need people to understand is that this is normal. What is not normal is how you’re finding out about it. Reading these words on your computer screen about such a thing is not normal.

But our deaths are normal. The killing of Walter Scott is normal. The rules have been in place, and they haven’t changed. What are these rules? Don’t slouch, don’t relax, don’t exhale, don’t walk too tall, don’t walk too close, don’t act too proud, be more humble, and if they ask you why you are wherever you are just smile and nod and explain. And smile. These have been the rules.

Shoot me.

The revolution will not be televised, tweeted, liked, or favorited. But the deaths will be. The shootings keep getting shot and reshot. And replayed. They get their own hashtags. But when you look at it, there is nothing actually happening. Nothing has changed. What is has always been.

If you ask most people, black or white, when the worst part of black history was, they’ll say “slavery”. And they’ll be wrong. The worst, bloodiest time in black history was 1890 to 1920. After emancipation, after reconstruction. After the laws that said that black lives mattered.  And we were terrorised, we were lynched, we disappeared.

Our bodies would float in the Mississippi so much that you could mistake us for the water flowing.

My younger brother will turn 18 and graduate high school next month. He will move away from home and attend college. What are the things people normally think about when this happens? For us, the normal thing to think of is death. My brother is 17 and all I can think of is his pending graduation and his murder.

What is it like to take a sibling like mine for granted? What is it like to imagine him going away to college and being happy? Maybe he drinks? Meets a girl? Discovers his passion? Travels? I don’t think of these things.

I think about how he must keep from being alone at dark near police.

Isn’t that funny? I bet most white parents would tell their children to seek out a cop if ever caught alone unawares. Not us.

Dear brother, if you see a cop, do not run, do not walk, do not. Do not. Do not. Just collapse. Play dead.

Play dead.

Then I think of how much I wish I could guard my brother somehow. At all times, I’d be in front of him and when the cops come I’d bare my chest.

And I’d say shoot me.

I’d shout at them to shoot me.

I’d order them to shoot me.

I’d beg them to shoot me.

I’d plead with them to shoot me.

And I’m willing to do that. For my brother I plan to do that. For my sister I plan to do that. For my father, for my mother I will do that.

For my country.

Shoot me.

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The Collapse of the Obama Doctrine: Yemen War as an Opportunity?

NOVANEWS
by RAMZY BAROUD

To suggest that the United States policies in Yemen was a ‘failure’ is an understatement. It implies that the US had at least attempted to succeed. But ‘succeed’ at what? The US drone war had no other objective aside from celebrating the elimination of whomever the US hit list designates as terrorist.

But now that a civil and a regional wars have broken out, the degree of US influence in Yemen has been exposed as limited, their war on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in the larger context of political, tribal and regional rivalry, as insignificant.

The failure, if we are to utilize the term, is of course, not just American, but involve most of US allies, who have ignored Yemen’s protracted misery – poverty, corruption, violence and the lack of any political horizon, until the country finally imploded. When the Houthis took over Sanaa last September, a foolish act by any account, only then did the situation in Yemen became urgent enough for intervention.

For a long time, the US seemed invulnerable to what even Yemen analysts admit is a intricate subject to understand, let alone attempt to explain in a straightforward manner. The US drones buzzed overhea dindependent from all of this. They ‘took out’ whomever they suspected was al-Qaeda affiliate. President Barack Obama was even revealed to have approved of a ‘secret kill list’, and agreed to consider counting casualties in such a way that “essentially designates all military-aged males in a strike zone as military combatants.”

In fact, a timeline of events that have befallen poverty-stricken Yemen shows a strange phenomenon, where US involvement in that country operates parallel to but separate from all other horrific events, violence, suffering and politicking. Sure, US shadowy war had augmented the suffering, demoralized the nation and undermined whatever political process underway, especially after the Yemeni version of the Arab Spring early 2011. However, the US paid little heed to Yemen’s fragile alliances and the fact that the country was on a fast track towards civil war, worse a regional war, direct or by proxy.

That responsibility of mending broken Yemen was left to the United Nations. But with regional rivalry between Iran and Gulf countries at its peak, UN envoys had little margin for meaningful negotiations. Despite repeated assurances that the ‘national dialogue’ was on its way to repair Yemen’s body politic, it all failed.

But the US continued with its war unabated, arming whomever it deemed an ally, exploiting regional differences, and promoting the power of al-Qaeda in ways that far exceeded their presence on the ground. It saw Yemen as a convenient ‘war on terror’, enough to give Obama the tough persona that American voters love about their presidents, without the high risk of military quagmires like the ones that his predecessor, George W. Bush, created in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was hardly that simple. Even a ‘clean’ drone war activated from faraway places is rarely enough to guarantee results.

Set aside the moral responsibility of torturing an already wounded nation, the US seemed to lack understanding of how its actions frustrate and contribute to regional conflicts. Its exasperation of Iraq’s sectarian fault lines following the 2003 invasion, leading to a massive civil war few years later, was a lesson unlearnt. That ‘divide and conquer’ backfired badly. Empowered and brutal US-supported Shia government that took revenge on Sunni tribes and communities across Iraq following the war, met their match with the rise of a brutal so-called ‘Islamic State’ in more recent years, turning Iraq, and of course, Syria, into a savage battleground.

Gone are the days in which US policies alone dictated the course of history in the Middle East. The Iraq war was catastrophic at so many levels, lead amongst which is relegating direct military intervention as a way to achieve strategic and political ends.

The Obama doctrine was an attempt at combining use of US military influence (while scaling down on direct military intervention), on the one hand, and regional and international allies on the other, to sustain US ascendency in the region as much as possible.

What seemed like a relative success in Libya with the ousting of Muammar al-Qaddafi was too difficult to duplicate in Syria. The stakes there were simply too high. Regional rivals like Iran, and international rivals like Russia were too resistant to any open attempt at overthrowing the al-Assad regime. And with the rise of IS, al-Assad had suddenly be re-casted into a different role, becoming a buffer, although still designated as an enemy. John Kerry’s statement about willingness to engage Assad signaled a massive turnabout in US policies there.

Now, with a preliminary nuclear deal agreed upon by Iran and US and its allies, chances are the US, although will carry on with its saber-rattling (as Iran will surely do as well) there is little chance that Obama will enact any major shift in his regional policies. To the contrary, his administration is likely to retreat, further hide behind its allies to achieve whatever muddled objectives it may have at the chaotic moment.

For Iran, and to a lesser degree, the US, Yemen is maybe a suitable ground for a token war. In Why it may suit Iran to let the Saudis win in Yemen“, Daniel Levy and Julien Barness-Decey argue that the current rivalry in Yemen has at its heart the nuclear talks between Iran and the West. Iran never ‘won’ Yemen to lose it anyway, and supporting the Houthis can only push Iran’s Arab enemies into a protracted conflict from which there is no easy escape.

Yet while indirect military involvement is consistent with the Obama war doctrine, the US could still stand to lose. Sure, Obama can counter his Republican critics – stalwart supporters of Israel, thus strongly opposing to any Iran deal – by military engaging Iran from a distance in a useless Yemen war. That said, if the US allies fail to achieve a quick victory, which unlikely anyway, the US would have one of two options: to disown its allies (who are already infuriated by the US double speak on Iran) or to get pulled into an unwinnable war that cannot be lost.

A loss for the Houthis would certainly bloody Iran’s nose, but not much more than that. It is the Arabs and their regional allies that risk a major loss due to their direct involvement. And since defeat ‘is not an option’ the Yemen quagmire is likely to prove more lengthy and lethal. In the first two weeks of war, over 500 Yemenis have been reportedly killed. This is just the beginning.

Of course, there is a way out. Iran and its Arab rivals must understand that political scenarios where once cancels out the other is impossible to achieve. Syria has been a paramount, although tragic example.

They must also keep in mind that the US, which is playing both parties against one another, is only interested in the region for economic and strategic reasons. Regardless of the hyped sectarian divides, Shia, Sunnis, and numerous other groups, crisscrossed, overlapped and co-existed in the Middle East for centuries. No war, no matter how destructive, and no alliance, no matter how large, can possibly change that historical inevitability.

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India and the Globalization of Servitude

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And They Call This Development?


by COLIN TODHUNTER

Angus Maddison has noted that India was the richest country in the world and had controlled a third of global wealth until the 17th century. The village was the centre of a rural economy that was an economic powerhouse of entrepreneurialism. The British Raj almost dismantled this system however by introducing mono crop activities and mill made products, and post independent India has failed to repair the economic fabric.

If anything implies that India’s social and economic fabric requires restoring, it is the findings of the 2014 global MultidimensionalPoverty Index. Out of its 1.2 billion-plus population, India is home to over 340 million destitute people and is the second poorest country in South Asia after war-torn Afghanistan.

Some 640 million poor people live in India (40% of the world’s poor). Just 20 years ago, India had the second-best social indicators among the six South Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan). Now it has the second worst position, ahead only of Pakistan. Bangladesh has less than half of India’s per-capita GDP but has infant and child mortality rates lower than that of India.

What is going wrong?

Former Indian Finance Minister P Chidambaram once claimed that his government’s economic neoliberal policies were pro-growth and pro equity and envisaged 85% of India’s population eventually living in well-planned cities. That would mean at least 600 million moving to cities. He stated that urbanisation constitutes ‘natural progress’. After 24 years of a shift towards neo-liberalism and increasing urbanisation, to what extent has the process thus far been ‘pro-equity’ or ‘progressive’?

The drive towards neo-liberalism and urbanisation has thus far been underpinned by unconstitutional land takeovers and the trampling of democratic rights. For supporters of cronyism, cartels and the manipulation of markets, which to all extents and purposes is what economic ‘neo-liberalism’ has entailed over the last two decades (seethisthis and this), there have been untold opportunities for well-placed individuals to make an under-the-table fast buck from various infrastructure projects and privatisation sell offs: assets such as airports, seeds, ports and other infrastructure built up with public money or toil have been sold off into private hands.

The neoliberal model of development has seen the poverty alleviation rate in India remain around the same as it was back in 1991 or even in pre-independence India (0.8 percent), while the ratio between the top and bottom ten percent of the population has doubled during this period (see this and this). According to the Organisation for Co-operation and Economic Development, this doubling of income inequality has made India one of the worst performers in the category of emerging economies.

Unsurprisingly, struggles (both violent and non-violent) are now taking place in India. The naxalites and Maoists are referred to by the dominant class as left wing extremists who are exploiting the situation of the poor. But how easy it is to ignore the true nature of the poor’s exploitation. How easy it is to lump all protesters together and create an ‘enemy within’. How easy it is to ignore the state-corporate extremism across the world that results in the central state abdicating its responsibilities by submitting to the tenets of the Wall Street-backed ‘structural adjustment’ pro-privatisation policies, free capital flows and unaccountable cartels.

The subjugation of India

Powerful corporations are shaping the ‘development’ agenda in India and have signed secretive Memorandums of Understanding with the government. The full military backing of the state is on hand to forcibly evict peoples from their land in order to hand over land to mineral-hungry industries to fuel a wholly unsustainable model of development. Around the world, this oil-dependent, urban-centric, high energy, high consumption model is stripping the environment bare and negatively impacting the climate and ecology.

The links between the Monsanto/Syngenta/Walmart-backed Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture and the US sanctioning and backing of the opening up of India’s nuclear sector to foreign interests have already shown what the models of ‘development’ being pushed onto people really entails, not least in terms of the powerful corporate interests that really benefit and the ordinary people that lose out (see this and this).

Almost 300,000 farmers have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GM) cash crops and economicliberalisation. And yet the corporate-controlled type of agriculture being imposed and/or envisaged only leads to bad food, bad soil, bad or no water, bad health, poor or falling yields and an impending agrarian crisis (see thisthis,this and this). This form of agriculture has meant the US and the UK are now facing similar crises (see this and this). It’s a global crisis.

In addition to displacing people to facilitate the needs of resource extraction industries, unconstitutional land grabs for Special Economic Zones, nuclear plants and other projects have additionally forced many others from the land. Moreover, it has been a case of massive tax breaks for industry and corporations and underinvestment in ruralinfrastructure and farming. It’s not difficult to see where policy makers’ priorities lie.

With GDP growth slowing and automation replacing human labour the world over in order to decrease labour costs and boost profit, where are the jobs going to come from to cater for hundreds of millions of former agricultural workers or those whose livelihoods will be destroyed as corporations move in and seek to capitalise and mechanise industries that currently employ tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions)?

Farmers (and others) represent a ‘problem’: a problem while on the land and a problem to be somehow dealt with once displaced. But food producers, the genuine wealth producers of a nation, only became a problem when Western agribusiness was given the green light to take power away from farmers and uproot traditional agriculture in India and recast it in its own corporate-controlled image. This is who is really setting the ‘development’ agenda.

India is acquiescing to foreign corporations. Take a look at the free trade agreement being hammered out behind closed doors between the EU and India. It all adds up to powerful trans-national corporations trying to by-pass legislation that was implemented to safeguard the public’s rights.

We could see the Indian government being sued by multinational companies for billions of dollars in private arbitration panels outside of Indian courts if national laws, policies, court decisions or other actions are perceived to interfere with their investments. This agreement could see rural Indian society being restructured and devastated in favour of Western corporate interests and adversely impacting hundreds of millions and their livelihoods and traditional ways of living.

The bedrock of any society is its agriculture. Without food there can be no life. Without food security, there can be no genuine independence. Nowhere is this the case than in India where 64% of the population derives its sustenance from the agricultural sector. To control Indian agriculture is to exert control over the country. One needs to control only seeds, agro-chemicals and resultant debt and infrastructure loans. The World Bank, the IMF and the US State Department are well aware of this fact. Indeed, US foreign policy has almost always rested on the control of the agriculture of poorer countries.

Looting the economy

Global agritech companies have been granted license to influence key aspects of agriculture by controlling seeds and chemical inputs and by funding and thus distorting the biotech research agenda and aspects of overall development policy. Monsanto already controls the cotton industry in India and is increasingly shaping agri-policy and the knowledge paradigm by funding agricultural research in public universities and institutes: it has been described as the “contemporary East India Company.

In an attempt to control agriculture and despite evidence that suggests otherwise, agritech corporations promote the notion that they have the answers to feeding the world. People are generally hungry not because of insufficient agricultural production but because they do not have money to buy food, access to land to grow food or because of complex problems like food spoilage, poor food distribution systems and a lack of reliable water and infrastructure for irrigation, storage, transport and financing. If these deeper problems are not addressed and as long as food is not reaching those who are hungry and poor, increased agricultural production will not help reduce food insecurity.

We already produce enough food to feed the world’s population and did so even at the peak of the world food crisis in 2008. Moreover, India canalready feed itself and arguably doesn’t need modern technology of poisonous pesticides, destructive fertilizers and patented GE seeds that can’t match 1890 or even 1760 AD yields in India. India has been self-sufficient in food staples for over a decade and more than that for cereals. The country has reached this stage through, first and foremost, the knowledge and skill of farmers who have bred and saved seed themselves and exchanged their seed in ways that made our fields so bio-diverse.

Globally, four GM crops account for almost 100 percent of worldwide GM crop acreage. All four have been developed for large-scale industrial farming systems and are used as cash crops for export, to produce fuel or for processed food and animal feed. The answer to food security, food democracy and local/national food sovereignty does not lie with making farmers dependent on a few large corporations whose bottom line is exploiting agriculture for their own benefit under the guise of ‘feeding the world’.

Various reports have concluded that we need to support diverse, vibrant and sustainable agroecological methods of farming and develop locally-based food economies (see this and this). After all, it is small farms and peasant farmers (more often than not serving local communities) that are more productive than giant industrial (export-oriented) farms and which produce most of the world’s food on much less land. However, the trend continues to move in the opposite direction.

Part of the current ‘development’ agenda in India is based on dismantling the Public Distribution System for food. Policy analyst Devinder Sharma notes that the government may eventually stop supporting farmers by doing away with the system of announcing the minimum support price for farmers and thereby reduce the subsidy outgo. He argues that farmers would be encouraged to grow cash crops for supermarkets and to ‘compete’ in a market based on trade policies that work in favour of big landowners and heavily subsidised Western agriculture.

The result will be what the WTO/ World Bank/IMF have been telling India to for a long time: to displace thefarming population so that agribusiness can find a stronghold in India (aided by the free trade agreement, which could see land in the hand of foreign entities who prioritise cash crops for export).

Monsanto, Bayer, Cargill, Walmart, Archer Daniels, Sygenta and other large corporations are ultimately eyeing control of the food system from lab to seed to field to shop to plate.

Hostage to ideology

Me-first acquisitiveness is now pervasive throughout the upper strata of society. Run out and buy some useless product because Kareena, Priyanka or another icon of deception says ‘because you’re worth it’… but never ever let this narcissism give way to contemplate why the rivers and soils have been poisoned and people are being been made ill in places like Punjab, agriculture is being hijacked by powerful agritech concers, land is being grabbed on behalf of any number of corporations or why ordinary people are violently opposing state-corporate power.

Much of this acceptance results from deals hammered out behind closed doors. Much of it results because too many are conditioned to be ignorant of the facts or to accept that all of the above is necessary for ‘growth’.

This is a country where the majority sanctifies certain animals, places, rivers and mountains for being representations of god or for being somehow touched by the hand of god. It’s also a country run by Wall Street sanctioned politicians who convince people to accept or be oblivious to the destruction of the same.

Many are working strenuously to challenge the selling of the heart and soul of India. Yet how easy will it be for them to be swept aside by officialdom which seeks to cast them as ‘subversive’. How easy it will be for the corrosive impacts of a rapacious capitalism to take hold and for hugely powerful corporations to colonise almost every area of social, cultural and economic life and encourage greed, selfishness, apathy, irretrievable materialism and acquisitive individualism, as well as the ignorance of reality ‘out there’.

And the corporations behind it all achieve hegemony by altering mindsets via advertising, clever PR or by sponsoring (hijacking) major events, by funding research in public institutes and thus slanting findings and the knowledge paradigm in their favour or by securing key positions in international trade negotiations in an attempt to structurally readjust retail, food production and agriculture. They do it by many methods and means.

Seeds, mountains, water, forests and biodiversity are being sold off. The farmers and tribals are being sold out. And the more that gets sold off, the more who get sold out, the greater the amount of cash that changes hands, the easier it is for the misinformed to swallow the lie of Wall Street’s bogus notion of ‘growth’ – GDP. And India suddenly becomes capitalism’s poster boy ‘economic miracle’.

If anyone perceives the type of ‘development’ being sold to the masses is actually possible in the first instance, consider that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old and if you scale this to 46 years then humans have been here for just four hours. The Industrial Revolution began just one minute ago, and in that time, 50% of the Earth’s forests have been destroyed. Forests are just part of the problem. We are using up oil, water and other resources much faster than they can ever be regenerated. We have also poisoned the rivers, destroyed natural habitats, driven some wildlife species to extinction and altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere – among many other things.

Levels of consumption were unsustainable, long before India and other countries began striving to emulate a bogus notion of ‘development’. The West continues to live way beyond its (environmental) limits. The current model of development is based on a deceitful ideology that attempts to justify and sell a system that is designed to fail the majority of the global population and benefit the relative few.

This wasteful, high-energy model is tied to what ultimately constitutes the plundering of peoples and the planet by powerful transnational corporations. And, as we see all around us, the outcome is endless conflicts over fewer and fewer resources. The outcome is also environmental destruction and an elitist agenda being forwarded by rich eugenicists, who voice concerns over there being ‘simply too many mouths’. The super rich who currently run the world regard most of humanity as a problem to be ‘dealt with’.

The type of ‘progress and development’ on offer makes any beneficiaries of it blind to the misery and plight of the hundreds of millions who are deprived them of their lands and livelihoods. If people cannot be removed from their land via making it economically non-viable to continue farming, tens of thousands of militia into the tribal areas to displace 300,000 people, place 50,000 in camps and carry out rapes and various human rights abuses.

The type of development that we are seeing is legitimised by a certain mindset and ideology: the ‘poor’ must be helped out of their awful ‘backwardness’ by the West and its powerful corporations and billionaire ‘philanthropists’. As with Monsanto and the Gates Foundation in Africa and the ‘helping’ of Africans by imposing a highly profitable (for the corporations) and controlling system of agriculture, the underlying premise harks back to colonialism and an imperialist mindset. What some might regard as ‘backward’ stems from an ethnocentric ideology, which is used to legitimize the destruction of communities and economies that were once locally based and self sufficient. The disease if offered as the cure.

If what is set out above tells us anything, it that India and other regions of the world are suffering from internal hemorrhaging. They are being bled dry from both within and without.

“There are sectors of the global population trying to impede the global catastrophe. There are other sectors trying to accelerate it. Take a look at whom they are. Those who are trying to impede it are the ones we call backward, indigenous populations – the First Nations in Canada , the aboriginals in Australia , the tribal people in India . Who is accelerating it? The most privileged, so-called advanced, educated populations of the world.” – Noam Chomsky.

Underpinning the arrogance of such a mindset is what Vandana Shiva callsa view of the world which encourages humans to regard man as conqueror andowner of the Earth. This has led that the technological hubris of geo-engineering, genetic engineering, and nuclear energy. Shiva argues that it has led to the ethical outrage of owning life forms through patents, water through privatization, the air through carbon trading. It is leading to appropriation of the biodiversity that serves the poor.

And therein lies the true enemy of development: a system that facilitates such plunder, which is presided over by well-funded and influential foreign foundations and powerful financial-corporate entities and their handmaidens in the IMF, World Bank and WTO.

To open economies to private concerns, proponents of economic neoliberalism are always fond of stating that ‘regulatory blockages’ must be removed. If particular ‘blockages’ stemming from legitimate protest and dissent cannot be dealt with by peaceful means, other methods will be used. When increasing mass surveillance or widespread ideological attempts to discredit and smear do not secure compliance or dilute the power of protest, beefed up ‘homeland security’ and paramilitary force is an ever-present option.

Across the globe, powerful corporations and their compliant politicians seek to sweep away peoples and their indigenous knowledge and culture in the chase for profit and control. They call this ‘development’. They will allow nothing and no one to stand in their way.

Posted in IndiaComments Off on India and the Globalization of Servitude

80% of I$raHell fear “Holocaust” will eventually be forgotten

NOVANEWS

Thumbnail for version as of 06:02, 22 February 2014

An article recently appearing in The Times of I$raHell highlights a poll conducted in Israel which found that “over 80% of Israelis think the Holocaust will one day fade from memory,” according to the article. The article continues:

The survey was conducted by The Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors ahead of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, marked April 16, in an attempt to glean contemporary perceptions surrounding the Holocaust in Jewish-Israeli society, the NRG news site reported Wednesday.

Five hundred Jewish-Israeli adults were canvassed for the study.

Asked whether the Holocaust will lose its significance as the seminal catastrophe of modern times and fade into history as “just another event,” 36.6% of respondents said the matter was a certainty, 45% said that it may happen, and only 17.5% responded that such a situation would not transpire.

Asked, however, if the public memory of the Holocaust influences everyday decision making in the private and public spheres in Israel, 42.2% answered in affirmative. Ten point one percent said the memory of the Holocaust has personal resonance only, while 26.9% responded that it only dictates national policy. Just 15.5% of respondents said that the memory of the Holocaust has no influence. […]

The head of the organization behind the study believes the findings indicate a worrying trend in which the lessons of World War II will hold little significance for future generations — a course that should be counteracted with a rethink of Holocaust education in the Jewish state.

“It’s hard to think what would happen when the last [remaining] Holocaust survivors will no longer be with us,”Colette Avital, chairwoman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors, said.

“This data should worry the country’s leaders and all those who [believe in] the continuity of Jewish history,” she said.

Unfortunately, given the organized Jewish community’s highly effective marketing and public relations campaign centered around the promotion and perpetuation of the false “Holocaust” narrative of WWII, I very much doubt this anti-White, anti-German narrative of history will “lose its significance as the seminal catastrophe of modern times,” as many Israelis polled apparently believe.

Not a day goes by without a mention or invocation of some aspect of the fake “Holocaust” story. Virtually every single year, one or more movies based on the “Holocaust” are made, often receiving high praise and even Academy Awards. The false “Holocaust” narrative is constantly reinforced and perpetuated throughHolocaust survivor” testimony, memoirs, booksplays, and through the Western educational system. One cannot avoid it. The “Holocaust” is rammed down our throats, stuffed into our brains, and implanted and reinforced in our minds every single day practically.

Indeed, the entire New World Order agenda, which in reality is simply a Jewish plot to enslave the world politically, economically, and culturally, destroying racial consciousness and national distinctions in the process while creating a world of mindless consumers and workers, is largely based on implementing the “lessons of the Holocaust,” as Jewish leaders have openly declared.

“The Holocaust stands as Western Civilization’s greatest failure,” Ian Kagedan, former National Director of Government Relations of B’nai Brith Canada, wrote in a 1991 Toronto Star op-ed piece entitled Memory of the Holocaust Central to New World Order. “It was a natural outcome of centuries of racism and of anti-Semitism. To deny the Holocaust is to deny racism’s capacity to undercut our civilization’s basic values and to destroy democracy. Achieving our quest of a ‘new world order’ depends on our learning the Holocaust’s lessons.”

We would be foolish indeed to think our Jewish overlords and traitorous politicians would allow us to “forget about the Holocaust” and the “important lessons” it has taught humanity.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on 80% of I$raHell fear “Holocaust” will eventually be forgotten

Enough War: Living Beneath Bombs, Yemenis Refuse to be Collateral Damage

NOVANEWS

As Saudi-led military assault breeds death and fear, impacted people send message of humanity to world

The online campaign #KefayaWar (“enough war” in Arabic) has received an outpouring of support, from Yemen to Mexico to Scotland. (Photo courtesy of Our Yemen)

Nearly two weeks into a Saudi Arabia-led military assault on Yemen, that has rained down bombs on civilian neighborhoods and infrastructure while locking out food and medical aid, people within the country and across the global diaspora are turning to social media—and to the streets—to send a message to the world: Enough War.

The online campaign Kefaya War (“enough war” in Arabic) calls for people across the globe to “end ALL fighting in Yemen & stand with The People, who refuse to be collateral damage in a battle for Power.” Since the bombings began March 26, the hashtag has received an outpouring of messages, from Scotland to Mexico to Yemen to the United States.

Rooj Alwazir, activist and co-founder of Support Yemen Media, told Common Dreams over email that she and several friends launched #KefayaWar to “share with the world what is happening in Yemen” and amplify the humanity of the actual people who are impacted. To do so, she said, requires people to consider Yemenis as more than mere victims.

“It’s important to recognize their fight for dignity, justice and freedom,” Alwazir explained. “People in Yemen are not just poor helpless human beings, but they are people with stories who in their own different ways have been working towards social political change in their own communities. They are Yemen’s future and right now they need all the solidarity and support they can get.”

Meanwhile, people in Yemen and around the world are staging public protests to demand an immediate cessation of the bombings. According to the World Health Organization, Yemen’s conflict has killed at least 643 people and wounded 2,226 since March 19, with 334,000 internally displaced and 8.4 million estimated to be in immediate need of health care services. The United Nations Children’s Fund estimated Monday that the dead includeat least 74 children.

Pakistan has seen large civil society protests pressing the government to refuse involvement in the ever-expanding military coalition, which is led by Saudi Arabia and now includes the United States, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, and Morocco. Demonstrations have also been reported in Lebanon.

Thousands marched in a ‘Hands Off Yemen’ protest in London last week, where another protest is planned for Saturday. Other actions have taken place in U.S. cities and towns, including New York; Dearborn, Michigan; and Washington, D.C.

Sukaina, who asked to be identified by her first name, organized a protest last week in front of the White House as part of an informal group of Yemenis living in the United States. She told Common Dreams that the demonstration’s message was “strictly humanitarian,” calling for an end to the war and for people to “come to a dialogue, to come together, to speak, to stop killing people.”

Sukaina said that she has been corresponding with family members currently based in Yemen’s capital, including her 13-year-old niece, and “they are scared and frightened. Food supplies are running really low in supermarkets, gas lines are extremely long, and the electricity goes on and off like it always does, but it is a lot worse now.”

Protest at the White House April 5. (Photo courtesy of Rami Elamine)Protest at the White House April 5. (Photo courtesy of Rami Elamine)

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly blocked humanitarian organizations from delivering critical aid to a nation already devastated by poverty and years of covert U.S. drone war. The Red Cross warned this week that a “catastrophic” situation is gripping the southern city of Aden, heavily targeted by shelling from war planes. The aid group Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders said in a press statement that “life has stopped” in Aden, where medical centers are overwhelmed with the wounded and dead and medical supplies and drugs are running dangerously low.

Shipments of deadly weapons, however, don’t face the same roadblocks. A top U.S. diplomat announced Tuesday that the country is expediting arms to Saudi Arabia, in addition to providing a boost in intelligence support.

“The situation in Yemen is getting worse and worse everyday,” said Alwazir of Support Yemen Media. “They are blocking the harbors and blocking all money transfers, which is impacting those stranded abroad who were forced to travel to Egypt, India and Amman for healthcare. Food will soon run out. The bombs have hit civilian refugee camps, food factories, a dairy factory, water and communication infrastructure. Yemenis are living under constant fear that they may be next.”

The military intervention has been denounced as a cynical power move, led by a close U.S. ally, and in step with the so-called U.S. War on Terror.

“How do you wage war on impoverished nation?” Alwazir continued. “How is that a solution? Why is Yemen even their problem? The Saudis and their allies, which includes GCC countries and the U.S., are bombing Yemen’s already very poor infrastructure because they feel threatened by a group of Yemenis who have historically been marginalized and are now slowly taking over the country. And as problematic as that may be, why is that their problem?”

“Make no mistake about it, this new war in the Middle East was approved and is being orchestrated by the U.S. Saudi Arabia does not make a move like this without the approval and backing of the U.S.,” Lebanese-American writer and activist Rami Elamine toldCommon Dreams.

“So now every country, contiguously, from Afghanistan up to Turkey and down to Yemen and right through to Libya is engaged in some type of warfare,” Elamine continued. “Think about that, America, because it’s your tax dollars that initiated and are driving this endless ‘War on Terror’ in which literally hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died and thousands more will.”

Meanwhile, Yemenis around the world must contend with an uncertain future.

“How will this end?” asked Alwazir. “I want someone to just tell me how this all ends because this is like a big nightmare that I can’t wake up from, and I am terrified.”

Posted in YemenComments Off on Enough War: Living Beneath Bombs, Yemenis Refuse to be Collateral Damage

Autocrats United Against Yemen

NOVANEWS

The Yemen war is a variation on an old theme, where despotic regimes in the Middle East call on the United States to do their dirty work.

(Photo: IRIN Photos / Flickr)

The latest war in the Middle East is now well underway in Yemen, where airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition have killed hundreds and plunged the Arab world’s poorest country into a deepening humanitarian crisis.

The target of the strikes are Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Zaydi Shiite resistance fighters that seized the capital Sanaa last January and have made inroads in southern Yemen since. Other members of the 10-country coalition include Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan, and most of the Gulf Cooperation Council of Sunni monarchies.

Washington has confirmed that it’s providing logistical support on the ground.

It’s a variation on an old theme, where autocratic and despotic regimes in the Middle East call on the United States to do their dirty work. The result for the United States helping these regimes to stay in power has been the prevalence of anti-Americanism among Arabs and Muslims.

Nonetheless, in addition to providing intelligence to the Saudis for their bombings in Yemen, the U.S. also just removed its partial weapons freeze on Egypt’s military regime — a signal of approval of Cairo’s leadership in the anti-Houthi fight.

A Proxy War?

The members of the coalition allege that the Houthis are proxies for Tehran. By roping in Washington, the Saudis (like the Israelis) may be trying to forestall the U.S. rapprochement with Iran after the recent breakthrough in nuclear talks and tacit cooperation between the two countries against the Islamic State in Iraq.

Media reports have largely echoed the charge that the Houthis are Iranian proxies. Yet this misleading cliché serves no other interest than to demonize Iran.

Though it’s likely that Tehran is helping the Houthis in some capacity, scholars on Yemen have been unable to gather much credible evidence of Iran’s military involvement. Even Katherine Zimmerman, a policy wonk at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, toldForeign Policy there was “nothing that’s seen as hard evidence” to indicate Iranian involvement.

More likely, the driving forces of the rebellion are local, as a Chatham House report by Peter Salisbury recently indicated, concluding that the influence of external forces is exaggerated. “The Houthi are not Iranian proxies in the sense that Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy,” adds British foreign secretary Philip Hammond. Even if Iran is supplying help, Tehran “can’t actually control what the Houthis do.”

Of course, the U.S. is over 7,000 miles away, yet it flies drones, runs special ops, and facilitates Saudi bombing raids in Yemen. Can it really treat alleged Iranian involvement from next door with much disdain?

A Local Conflict

Despite some of their more strident rhetoric, the Houthis appear much more moderate in their aims — namely, representation and resources for their Zaydi Shiite constituency — than they’re credited with by the West. They’re also staunch opponents of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the al-Qaeda franchise most feared by Western intelligence agencies, and of the Islamic State, which has allegedly established a foothold in Yemen.

But outside these Sunni extremist forces, the conflict in Yemen isn’t so much about sectarian affiliation as it is access to resources.

Home to 25 million people, Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world despite the recent discovery of oil there. Resources have historically been scarce and wealth is concentrated among the few in power.

In the late 1960s, Yemen went through two simultaneous revolutions — one in the north and one in the south. A new Yemen Arab Republic was declared in the north along the Saudi border and enjoyed good relations with the Saudis. In the south, a new Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen was declared. A socialist country, it enjoyed the patronage of the Soviet Union and favorable relations with Tehran.

In 1990, the two countries merged into a unified country under the leadership of Ali Abdullah Saleh as a president. Yes, that’s the same Saleh who became a cooperative client of the United States.

Saleh became increasingly corrupt and autocratic, concentrating power in the hands of his family before he was finally deposed in 2012. In the meantime, AQAP thrived in Yemen, opening the door to later inroads by ISIS. Both AQAP and ISIS are sworn enemies of the Shiite Houthis. Recently, suicide bombers allegedly linked to ISIS killed and wounded hundreds of Shiite worshipers.

The Houthis backed the uprising that overthrew Saleh from the presidency in 2012. But in the current Houthi revolt, Saleh — a secular Zaydi Shiite who retains some supporters in the Yemeni army — has supported them in the hope of re-installing himself or his son to power. He’s calling for new elections, since the pact that ousted him and installed his

vice president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, as the country’s leader was only intended to be transitional.

Playing with Fire

With the Houthis continuing to make gains around the southern port city of Aden despite the airstrikes, the Saudis’ bombing alone will not likely not be enough to tip the battle. More ominous is the prospect of a ground intervention, particularly as Sunni Arab countries contemplate forming an “Arab NATO” alliance to enforce the region’s status quo.

However, the Houthis and their allies are battle-hardened and know the terrain — this is their mountainous country, after all. The war could then degrade into guerilla warfare with no end in sight. With their chief rival for power tied up, al-Qaeda and ISIS will thrive further. Even now, AQAP is exploiting the chaos.

The Egyptian-Saudi armada to topple the Houthis and their allies could result in Iran deepening its own suspected involvement in the war. The involvement of so many countries in the region in the war in Yemen could result in a wider war with completely unpredictable outcomes, even outside the country’s borders.

The Saudis and the Egyptians are particularly vulnerable to internal and external serious rebellions. The Saudis military may not stay loyal to the regime if the war with Yemen drags on. The restive Shia population in eastern Saudi Arabia may rebel. The majority Shia in Bahrain could rise up again against the Bahraini government, as well as against the Saudi military forces stationed there. The Egyptians are at war from within already and the new war will just inflame it further.

The silver lining is the emerging U.S. rapprochement with Iran, which could tilt control of the narrative away from Israel and the Sunni countries and form the basis for a mediated settlement — but only if the recent nuclear agreement survives an assault from Netanyahu and congressional hardliners.

Posted in YemenComments Off on Autocrats United Against Yemen

Autocrats United Against Yemen

NOVANEWS
Playing With Fire in the Gulf

by ADIL E. SHAMOO

The latest war in the Middle East is now well underway in Yemen, where airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition have killed hundreds and plunged the Arab world’s poorest country into a deepening humanitarian crisis.

The target of the strikes are Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Zaydi Shiite resistance fighters that seized the capital Sanaa last January and have made inroads in southern Yemen since. Other members of the 10-country coalition include Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan, and most of the Gulf Cooperation Council of Sunni monarchies.

Washington has confirmed that it’s providing logistical support on the ground.

It’s a variation on an old theme, where autocratic and despotic regimes in the Middle East call on the United States to do their dirty work. The result for the United States helping these regimes to stay in power has been the prevalence of anti-Americanism among Arabs and Muslims.

Nonetheless, in addition to providing intelligence to the Saudis for their bombings in Yemen, the U.S. also just removed its partial weapons freeze on Egypt’s military regime — a signal of approval of Cairo’s leadership in the anti-Houthi fight.

A Proxy War?

The members of the coalition allege that the Houthis are proxies for Tehran. By roping in Washington, the Saudis (like the Israelis) may be trying to forestall the U.S. rapprochement with Iran after the recent breakthrough in nuclear talks and tacit cooperation between the two countries against the Islamic State in Iraq.

Media reports have largely echoed the charge that the Houthis are Iranian proxies. Yet this misleading cliché serves no other interest than to demonize Iran.

Though it’s likely that Tehran is helping the Houthis in some capacity, scholars on Yemen have been unable to gather much credible evidence of Iran’s military involvement. Even Katherine Zimmerman, a policy wonk at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, told Foreign Policy there was “nothing that’s seen as hard evidence” to indicate Iranian involvement.

More likely, the driving forces of the rebellion are local, as a Chatham House report by Peter Salisbury recently indicated, concluding that the influence of external forces is exaggerated. “The Houthi are not Iranian proxies in the sense that Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy,” adds British foreign secretary Philip Hammond. Even if Iran is supplying help, Tehran “can’t actually control what the Houthis do.”

Of course, the U.S. is over 7,000 miles away, yet it flies drones, runs special ops, and facilitates Saudi bombing raids in Yemen. Can it really treat alleged Iranian involvement from next door with much disdain?

A Local Conflict

Despite some of their more strident rhetoric, the Houthis appear much more moderate in their aims — namely, representation and resources for their Zaydi Shiite constituency — than they’re credited with by the West. They’re also staunch opponents of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the al-Qaeda franchise most feared by Western intelligence agencies, and of the Islamic State, which has allegedly established a foothold in Yemen.

But outside these Sunni extremist forces, the conflict in Yemen isn’t so much about sectarian affiliation as it is access to resources

.equalworth

Home to 25 million people, Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world despite the recent discovery of oil there. Resources have historically been scarce and wealth is concentrated among the few in power.

In the late 1960s, Yemen went through two simultaneous revolutions — one in the north and one in the south. A new Yemen Arab Republic was declared in the north along the Saudi border and enjoyed good relations with the Saudis. In the south, a new Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen was declared. A socialist country, it enjoyed the patronage of the Soviet Union and favorable relations with Tehran.

In 1990, the two countries merged into a unified country under the leadership of Ali Abdullah Saleh as a president. Yes, that’s the same Saleh who became a cooperative client of the United States.

Saleh became increasingly corrupt and autocratic, concentrating power in the hands of his family before he was finally deposed in 2012. In the meantime, AQAP thrived in Yemen, opening the door to later inroads by ISIS. Both AQAP and ISIS are sworn enemies of the Shiite Houthis. Recently, suicide bombers allegedly linked to ISIS killed and wounded hundreds of Shiite worshipers.

The Houthis backed the uprising that overthrew Saleh from the presidency in 2012. But in the current Houthi revolt, Saleh — a secular Zaydi Shiite who retains some supporters in the Yemeni army — has supported them in the hope of re-installing himself or his son to power. He’s calling for new elections, since the pact that ousted him and installed his

vice president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, as the country’s leader was only intended to be transitional.

Playing with Fire

With the Houthis continuing to make gains around the southern port city of Aden despite the airstrikes, the Saudis’ bombing alone will not likely not be enough to tip the battle. More ominous is the prospect of a ground intervention, particularly as Sunni Arab countries contemplate forming an “Arab NATO” alliance to enforce the region’s status quo.

However, the Houthis and their allies are battle-hardened and know the terrain — this is their mountainous country, after all. The war could then degrade into guerilla warfare with no end in sight. With their chief rival for power tied up, al-Qaeda and ISIS will thrive further. Even now, AQAP is exploiting the chaos.

The Egyptian-Saudi armada to topple the Houthis and their allies could result in Iran deepening its own suspected involvement in the war. The involvement of so many countries in the region in the war in Yemen could result in a wider war with completely unpredictable outcomes, even outside the country’s borders.

The Saudis and the Egyptians are particularly vulnerable to internal and external serious rebellions. The Saudis military may not stay loyal to the regime if the war with Yemen drags on. The restive Shia population in eastern Saudi Arabia may rebel. The majority Shia in Bahrain could rise up again against the Bahraini government, as well as against the Saudi military forces stationed there. The Egyptians are at war from within already and the new war will just inflame it further.

The silver lining is the emerging U.S. rapprochement with Iran, which could tilt control of the narrative away from Israel and the Sunni countries and form the basis for a mediated settlement — but only if the recent nuclear agreement survives an assault from Netanyahu and congressional hardliners.

Posted in YemenComments Off on Autocrats United Against Yemen

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