Archive | March 8th, 2017

Nazi regime welcome now reserved only for Jews who back Naziyahu

NOVANEWS

Israel’s welcome now reserved only for Jews who back Netanyahu

Israel denies entry to human rights activists

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

Dustin Pfundheller, 30, an American dentist living in Singapore, was set to become the youngest person to visit every country in the world while in a full-time job. His globetrotting has taken him to 192 of the 193 recognised states, bringing his medical skills to the world’s remotest places. But in January he was barred for the second time from Israel, the only country left on his list, having previously been refused entry last year.

“Israel stubbornly refuses to become a normal country”

Despite an invitation to a dental conference in Tel Aviv, and Israelis who vouched for him, border officials banned Pfundheller for 10 years. No reason was given, but lawyers suspect visits to Iran and the Arab states sealed his fate. There could hardly be starker evidence that Israel stubbornly refuses to become a normal country.

Paradoxically, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited Singapore last month to promote Israel as a tolerant country, one “committed to a better world, a world of diversity”.

The reality could not be more different. Arabs and Muslims have always struggled to gain entry to Israel. Palestinians are routinely abused at the borders, and thousands, especially from Jerusalem, have been stripped of the right to return home after living abroad.

But new figures show Israel is excluding other groups too. Entry denials have increased nine-fold in the past five years, topping 16,000 people last year. Among those increasingly turned away are political activists. Israel controls all access to the occupied Palestinian territories, and has been regularly denying entry to solidarity activists and those who support the boycott movement.

Blacklisting human rights activists and opponents of Jewish colonies

Legislation passed by the Israeli parliament on 6 March will only intensify the exclusionary trend. The new law forbids entry to anyone who supports a boycott, even if it is only of the settlements. As one legislator pointed out, that means Israel may quickly find itself bound to refuse entry to all officials from the United Nations and Europe.

In a sign of the new direction, Israel denied a tourist visa last week to Human Rights Watch’s new director for Israel and Palestine, having earlier refused him a work permit. One of the most prominent human rights organisations in the world was dismissed as an outlet for “Palestinian propaganda”.

Weeks earlier, Israel subjected Jennifer Gorovitz, an American Jewish vice-president of the New Israel Fund (NIF), to a humiliating interrogation at airport arrivals. NIF is one of the largest funders of Israeli organisations supporting human rights and social justice. That includes assistance to groups that monitor military abuses in the occupied territories.

This presumably explains why Gorovitz’s interrogators suggested she posed a “security threat”. She finally gained admittance only after Talia Sasson, the Israeli head of NIF and an adviser to former prime ministers, pulled strings.

Gorovitz wrote of her experience: “My privilege as a Jew means I never imagined that Israel could or would deny me entrance.”

Such an assumption was justified. Israel’s Law of Return is supposed to guarantee Jews around the world the right to almost instant citizenship in Israel.

Far-right passport to entry

For that reason, the law is grossly unjust. It privileges Jewish access to Israel at the expense of the native Palestinian population, most of whom were expelled in 1948.

Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that Israel, a state that invested itself with the historical mission of offering sanctuary to Jews worldwide, is increasingly applying a political test to those who arrive at its borders.

Israel is denying entry not only to Arabs and would-be record breakers. And it is deporting not just those such as migrant workers and African asylum seekers who might pollute the Jewish state with non-Jewish genes. Now it is openly targeting Jews whose politics do not align with the far-right government of Netanyahu.

It should be noted that many of the solidarity and boycott activists turned away are Jewish. Famous Jewish critics of Israel such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein have been barred too.

On 6 March, Rebecca Vilkomerson, the US executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, observed that, despite her husband and children being Israeli citizens, and her grandparents buried there, under the new anti-boycott legislation she was now denied the right to visit.

In Israel’s eyes, it seems some Jews are more equal than others.

Benefiting from American racism

The pulling up of the drawbridge comes as Israel’s leadership has remained largely silent in the face of a rising tide of anti-Semitism in the US, fuelled by Donald Trump’s election as president. Dozens of Jewish centres have received bomb threats, and Jewish cemeteries have been vandalised.

In November, Yaron London, a popular TV host, welcomed Trump’s election, pointing out that “a worldview which supports white supremacy matches our [Israeli] government’s interests”.

There are growing rumblings among American Jews that their interests are being overlooked by the Netanyahu government to avoid damaging relations with the new US administration. But another reason for the lack of response should be considered.

The principle of the “ingathering of the exiles”, according to Israel’s official ideology, Zionism, assumes that Israel is the rightful home of Jews everywhere. And the largest Jewish population outside Israel resides in the US.

In November, Yaron London, a popular TV host, welcomed Trump’s election, pointing out that “a worldview which supports white supremacy matches our [Israeli] government’s interests”.

Last week opposition leader Isaac Herzog urged Israel to prepare for an influx of US Jews fleeing persecution.

But will Israel’s arms really be open to all Jews equally, or only to those willing to contribute enthusiastically to the tribal project?

And can Jews of conscience ignore the true cost of their migration? They can leave behind anti-Jewish bigotry in the US, but only if they bolster the Jewish bigots of Israel who lord it over the native Palestinian population.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Letter to “Man-Africanists” on International Women’s Day

Getty Images

The Pan-Africanist movement harbours some African men who conceal patriarchal attitudes. These “Man-Africanists” are cancerous to the advancement of the movement that needs to engage in developing new men who are genuinely anti-sexist, anti-heterosexist, empathetic, connected to a radical political concept of self-awareness, and guided by an ethical sense of equality, justice and freedom for all.

Dear “Man-Africanists” in Africa and the global diaspora,

On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2017, it is necessary for us to appraise the achievements of women globally and also re-evaluate their current oppressions. I will confine myself to some of the conditions facing the African woman both on the continent and in the Diaspora that manifest in “Man-Africanism.” But as an African saying goes, “no bird can fly without two wings”, for the future of our continent is also dependent on the much-needed change in consciousness of not only our women, but also our men. If we are to create a decolonial world and consciousness, in which all forms of oppression are eliminated, we need to deal with the fact that among the many “pitfalls” of the struggle for Pan-Africanism since 1945 has been sexism or patriarchy or what Nanjala Nyabola appropriately refers to as “Man-Africanism.

I will confine myself to patriarchy/sexism/male domination that continues to manifest in the current Pan-Africanist movement, but there are other Fanonist “pitfalls,” such as tensions over the question “who is an African?”; generational and ethnic cleavages; the extent to which Pan-Africanism as a concept has been supplanted in the last two decades by the terms “Afrocentrism” and the “African Renaissance.” The afore-mentioned are serious impediments to the advancement of Pan-Africanism in Africa and in the global diaspora in addition to neo-colonialism, capitalism and imperialism in their new configurations in the twenty-first century.

My position is that in seeking radical socio-economic and political transformation in Africa, the CONSCIOUSNESS of the Pan-Africanist intellectual must also be genuinely transformed to challenge patriarchy or sexism.

Patriarchy has to be reframed as an issue for everyone and not just “a women’s issue.” It is also an issue for men. As bell hooks writes, “Patriarchy has no gender.”[1]

Before I go any further, I think it is important for me to state that feminism is NOT a foreign imposed ideology on Africa and African women specifically. It is not un-African. Briefly defined, it “is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression”[2] of BOTH men and women. In this definition and struggle, men are not the enemy. Yet, in popular culture and among some political movements claiming to be progressive or revolutionary, feminism is misunderstood. It is sometimes unconsciously or consciously perceived as distracting us from more important issues – whatever those more important issues are. bell hooks defines “patriarchy” thus:

“Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.”[3]

Put differently, “A society is patriarchal to the degree that it promotes male privilege by being male-dominated, male identified, and male centred.”[4]  (italics in the original)

Patriarchy- or simply put, our male-dominated society-is taken for granted. Yet, male domination is accepted unconsciously even by most women that men are superior to women or that women are secondary, deficient, to be blamed and ultimately, are inferior to men. Patriarchy manifests itself in the unconscious way most men, and particularly male academics, are unconsciously conditioned to expect women to have ears and no mouth, or intolerance of a woman speaking as lengthily as a man. The unconscious belief is that men speak in paragraphs and women in a sentence. This is on account of the ingrained belief that men are the propagators of knowledge or information and women are conditioned to simply listen and be an audience to a male propagator of information. In such instances, such male academics possess very poor listening skills and often take up all the oxygen in the room for their huge egos and patronizing manner. It is only recently that “mansplaining” entered Wikipedia to define this phenomena that has long been in existence.

Equally important is that patriarchy is a system that intersects with other forms of oppression e.g. classism, ageism, homophobia or the dominance of heterosexism, imperialism and neo-colonialism – all of which are forms of domination, control and subordination. Such systems have become institutionalised and perpetuated and maintained in our society.  The term “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy”[5] aptly describes the interlocking political systems of domination that are the foundations of our society and world.

Within academia, even the word “intelligentsia” and the concept of leadership in our “white supremacist imperialist capitalist patriarchal” world is largely implicitly androcentric and masculinist. Margaret Nasha, Botswana’s first female speaker of the National Assembly (from 2009-2014), wrote her autobiography entitled “Madam Speaker, Sir.” The title conveys the extent to which a male-dominated Batswana Assembly had to unlearn sexist conditioning and often slipped up when addressing Nasha in the National Assembly.

When people think of a leader, nine times out of ten it is a male leader or example that immediately comes to mind. Similarly, when one thinks of “intelligentsia” or a “public intellectual”, it remains a male figure who tends to come immediately to mind.  In our Pan-Africanist history there are examples of women who were a vital part of the Pan-Africanist intelligentsia and Pan-Africanist activists, such as: Ann H. Jones, Fannie Williams, Ella D. Barrier, Mrs Lauden and Anna Julia Cooper who all attended the London 1900 Pan-African conference. [6] In addition, other female stalwarts are Amy Ashwood Garvey who Tony Martin considers to be a lesser Pan-Africanist superstar in his book Amy Ashwood Garvey: Pan-Africanist, Feminist and Mrs Garvey Number One; as well as Amy Jacques Garvey, Assata Shakur, Winnie Mandela and Miriam Makeba. They are often in the background in the depictions and narrations of the struggle for Pan-Africanism as Pan-Africanist male icons take centre stage.

 “The black man’s burden”[7]

A fundamental problem confronting Africa is that, with the formal withdrawal of the European powers, the conception of the nation-state and its institutions has been a masculinised one or the “man-nation,” [8] inherited from the former male colonial powers and embodying the aspirations for the nation in the male leader, as Robert Muponde contends. Consequently, the concept of nation-building and the state made African women invisible. The anti-colonial struggles perceived women and women’s movements as appendages of political parties and the state. The anti-colonial nationalist struggle also necessitated the subsuming of the interests of African women, farmers (the majority of whom are women); youth; trade unions etc  in the anti-colonial struggle. Hence, the burden of the African woman has been to re-construct definitions of the African state to envision a state and society that includes and advocates, via policy making,  the interests and needs of all African women.

Nyabola’s argues that:

“Man-Africanism is solidarity for the wealthy men whose power dominates Africa. It insulates power from criticism. It is not post-colonial ideology; it is not a critical theory or solidarity to protect Africans. It is used to justify systemic murder and humiliation of Africans, by Africans, because it cannot and will not be criticized from within or from without.”[9]

She is correct in arguing that “the possibilities of independence were squandered.” Furthermore, to cite Nyabola at some length:

“Pan-Africanism was kidnapped. Calls to unity were used to justify state violence and repression, to animate calls for blind loyalty to the state. Those who led us to liberation did not live to see it: so many of the intellectual architects of the independence struggle did not survive to see their theories tested. And so, only the core idea that there was a single African identity – and a male one – seems to have survived. Pan-Africanism had a “what” but no longer a “why.”[10]

The struggle for Pan-Africanism became trapped in the quagmire of territorial nationalism and African leaders became wedded to the artificially created and inherited colonial borders manufactured in 1884. The continued loyalty to those 1884 created colonial borders is responsible for the continued dismemberment of the African continent. The irony is that, as Shivji argues, “Pan-Africanism preceded nationalism by almost half a century.”[11]

I define “Man-Africanists” as those male Pan-Africanists who identify as Pan-Africanists and covertly harbour patriarchal attitudes and values which are expressed unconsciously and consciously in their relations with women they interact with and yet their vision of a new Africa remains fundamentally unchanged where it comes to those relations between men and women. Consequently, we need to develop a new revolutionary gender sensitive consciousness that eradicates patriarchy in all its covert and overt forms in order to transform our current socio-economic and political realities.

Where are the new Sankaras and Cabrals of our time?

The question, therefore, is: how do we create radical conscientized African men? How do we create anti-sexist, anti-heterosexist, caring, conscious, empathetic men who will develop organisations and institutions that serve African people?

If we are to look at our history, the efforts of two radical feminist African men may inspire us. I use the terms “radical feminist” to describe Amilcar Cabral and Thomas Sankara – though I am aware they did not use such terms to define themselves.

In the context of their times, I consider Cabral and Sankara to have been radical. By “radical” I take the definition given by the organic intellectual and activist, Ella Baker, who said in 1969:

“I use the term radical in its original meaning – getting down to and understanding the root cause. It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you change that system.”[12] (italics mine)

Cabral was an agronomist by profession. In addition, he was an organic intellectual, a dialectician and also a military strategist.

In Cabral’s address entitled, ‘Our Party and the Struggle must be led by the best sons and daughters of our people’[13] given in 1969 to PAIGC combatants, there are a number of ethical and political principles he outlines that remain relevant to political parties,  social movements, and all African institutions could learn from such ethics.

Cabral identified patriarchal attitudes embedded in the views of some male militants within the PAIGC who resisted women taking up their responsibilities as a problem as well as the problems women faced. To cite him at some length:

“A particular instance was the occasional stubborn, silent resistance to the presence of women among the leadership. Some comrades do their utmost to prevent women taking charge, even when there are women who have more ability to lead than they do. Unhappily, some of our women comrades have not been able to maintain the respect and the necessary dignity to protect their position as persons in authority. They were not able to escape certain temptations, or at least to shoulder certain responsibilities without complexes. But the men comrades, some, do not want to understand that liberty for our people means that women as well must play a part, and that the strength of our Party is worth more if women join in as well to lead with the men. Many folk say that Cabral has an obsession about giving women leadership positions as well. They say: ‘Let him do it, but we shall sabotage it afterwards.’ That comes from folk who have not yet understood anything. They can sabotage today, sabotage tomorrow, but one day it will catch up with them.’ [14]

Cabral also castigated those male PAIGC commissars who preferred a woman to become a mistress instead of helping her to become a doctor, teacher or soldier, using the authority of the party to satisfy not only his own stomach but his lust.

Thomas Sankara gave an address to thousands of Burkinabe women on 8 March 1987 – International Women’s Day – entitled, “The Revolution cannot triumph without the emancipation of women.” Those words remain valid then as they do now.[15] Sankara urged that “the men and women of Burkina Faso should profoundly change their image of themselves.”[16] Sankara envisaged that the waging of revolution would indeed “establish new social relations” between men and women. It would also “upset the relations of authority between men and women and forcing each to rethink the nature of both.”[17] (emphasis mine)

“Man-Africanists” need to “rethink” the nature of African masculinity in our society, for its present definitions are both oppressive and harmful to men and women. Harsha Walia argues: “Some male allies feel they are not capable of sexism; but simply believing in gender equality does not erase male privilege.”[18] As Chris Crass points out: “Far too often, activist men [and male intellectuals] support feminism in their public life and retreat into male privilege at home.”[19]

The growing field of masculinity studies should assist us in understanding social and cultural interpretations and definitions of how boys become men; what does it mean to be “masculine” and how this varies in different societies across time and space. Overall, there appears to be a “hegemonic masculinity” – that is the standard ideal against which all men are measured and which few measure up to in many African and Western cultures.[20] It is based on a binary and dichotomous thinking that is ingrained in Western thought i.e. black and white, good and evil, male and female, mind and matter etc. Such dualities are not equal but are hierarchical and often value-laden.

Masculinity embodies socially valued traits whereby men should aspire to be: strong, active, aggressive, dominant, competitive and in control. Femininity embodies the less socially valued traits of: weakness, passivity, irrationality, receptiveness, emotion, nurturing, and subordination.

These traits are not biologically determined but are socially and culturally constructed as the biological difference between male and female rooted in their genital differences. These socially constructed stereotypes or gender types are constraining and oppressive to both men and women and create a culture of domination. They create destructive stereotypes of the “angry black female” and males who demonstrate emotion as effeminate or “sissy.”

As bell hooks contends: “When culture is based on a dominator model, not only will it be violent but it will frame all relationships as power struggles.”[21] Furthermore, she writes, “Before the realities of men can be transformed, the dominator model has to be eliminated as the underlying ideology on which we base our culture.”[22]

Ultimately, “To offer men a different way of being, we must first replace the dominator model with a partnership model that sees interbeing and interdependency as the organic relationship of all living beings.”[23]

President Obama wrote a piece in August 2016 in Glamour Exclusive entitled: This is what a feminist looks like”. His piece would have had greater impact if he had written it in a men’s magazine rather than a women’s magazine. However, Obama did make the critical point that men need to work on themselves and he said that this may be the toughest of all forms of actions.

Some of the practical ways in which we can create a Pan-Africanist consciousness that challenges patriarchy is through bringing up our boys and girls differently, which is a long-term undertaking and by no means an easy one.

Harsha Wali states that: “Transforming gender roles is not about guilt or blame; it is about a lifelong learning process to effectively and humbly confront oppression.”[24] (italics mine) Revolutionary male feminists are made, not born, and therefore need to be created. There is no blue-print for this other than learning from feminist theory and praxis in the struggle to build Pan-Africanism and eliminate capitalism, imperialism and neocolonialism.

Ending patriarchy

How do we address working towards ending patriarchy? My proposals on the way forward are by no means exhaustive but are a necessary start.

First, we need to acknowledge patriarchy exist as a political and social system; it is a systemic problem and not one of identifying a few “bad apples” i.e. a few “bad” patriarchs.

Second, the arena of a “a mass-based educational movement to teach everyone about feminism [since] we allow mainstream patriarchal mass media to remain the primary place where folks learn about feminism, and most of what they learn is negative,”[25] is necessary.

Third, we also need to train men and foster the attitude in men that they should be proactive in addressing patriarchy. Men need to have the courage to openly and at times privately challenge other men on their patriarchal/sexist ideas and practices whether in an institution (i.e. the church, mosque, trade union, school, university, etc.) or in the private realm.

It takes courage for such men to take action and make decisions that affirm an anti-sexist position, for it is going against the grain and usually there is ostracism among men who take an anti-patriarchal position by patriarchal men. These radical men who stand against patriarchy in their actions act as new role models for other men and boys. They embody a different kind of masculinity, an authentic humanity that has the courage to be critical in a way that seeks to genuinely change the behaviour of other men.

Fourth, we need to teach boys and men how to authentically communicate their emotions and listen empathetically to others. From an early age, few people encourage boys to express their emotions, and many try to encourage boys to hide them. Hence boys grow up wearing masks and mature into adult males wearing masks. In Western societies this mask-wearing is not only leading to an increase in mental health problems among men but also suicides. bell hooks conveys the damage of boys and men lacking in emotional literacy well when she writes:

“Unlike black females, who are given permission by sexist thinking to be emotional and therefore able to remain in touch with our feelings in childhood even when we are abused or taught to mask them to appear “strong,” black males are required by rituals of patriarchal manhood to surrender their capacity to feel. The soul-murdered black boy then has a much harder time recovering himself than the damaged girl has.”[26]

Revolutionary praxis must challenge the toxic impact of patriarchy not only in political movements but in institutional cultures. bell hooks writes:

“Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politics. It is rooted in the love of male and female being, refusing to privilege one over the other. The soul of feminist politics is the commitment to ending patriarchal domination of women and men, girls and boys. Love cannot exist in any relationship that is based on domination and coercion.”[27] (emphasis mine)

Finally, if we are to reinvigorate the Pan-African movement to develop organisations and institutions committed to serving African people, we need new men who are anti-sexist, anti-heterosexist, empathetic,  connected to a radical political concept of self-awareness, and guided by an ethical sense of equality, justice and freedom for all.

The great revolutionary Ché Guevara once said: “The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.”

Man-Africanists in Africa and the global diaspora, I have not given up on you.

* Dr Ama Biney is a historian and political scientist living in London.

ENDNOTES

[1] Bell hooks, in Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Thinking

[2] See Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks, p. 1.

[3] See ‘Understanding Patriarchy’ by bell hooks, http://imaginenoborders.org/pdf/zines/UnderstandingPatriarchy.pdf   accessed 23 June 2016.

[4] See Allan Johnson, The Gender Knot Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy, p.2005, 5.

[5] See We Real Cool Black Men and Masculinity, by bell hooks, Routledge, 2004, p. 137.

[6] See http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Pan-Africanism-Feminism-and-Fin accessed 4 March 2017.

[7] See Basil Davidson, The Black Man’s Burden and the Curse of the Nation State 1993.

[8] See ‘Mugabe and the Man-Nation: Two Views of Culture in the Construction of Masculinities in Zimbabwe’ by R. Muponde, in Mugabeism? History, Politics and Power in Zimbabwe edited by S. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015, 137-156.

[9] N. Nyabola, ‘Eulogy for Pan-Africanism: Long Live Man-Africanism’ in The New Inquiry, 23 May 2016.

[10] Ibid. Nyabola, ‘Eulogy for Pan-Africanism.’

[11] See Silences in NGO Discourse The Role and Future of NGOs in Africa  by I. G. Shivji, Fahamu Books, 2007, p. 9.

[12] Cited in Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement A Radical Democratic Vision by B. Ransby, 2003, p. 1

[13] See Unity & Struggle, p. 71.

[14] See Unity & Struggle, p. 71.

[15] See Thomas Sankara Speaks The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-87, Pathfinder 1988.

[16] Ibid, p. 202. Italics mine.

[17] Ibid. p. 202.

[18] See ‘Challenge Patriarchy as you Organise’  http://beautifultrouble.org/principle/challenge-patriarchy-as-you-organi... accessed 22 August 2016.

[19] See Chris Crass, ‘Against Patriarchy: 20 Tools for Men to Further Feminist Revolution’ in http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/05/against-patriarchy/  accessed 19 August 2016.

[20] ‘Theorizing Progressive Black Masculinities’ by A. D. Mutua, in Progressive Black Masculinities edited by A. D. Mutua, Routledge, 2006, p. 12-

[21] Bell hooks, The Will to Change Men, Masculinity, and Love, Washington Square Press, p. 116.

[22] Ibid, p. 116.

[23] Ibid, p.117.

[24] Harsha Wali, ‘Challenge Patriarchy as you organise’ http://beautifultrouble.org/principle/challenge-patriarchy-as-you-organize/ accessed 22 August 2016.

[25] Bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody Passionate Politics, Pluto Press, 2000, p. 23.

[26] Bell hooks, We Real Cool, p. 137-8.

[27] Feminism is for Everybody p. 102.

Posted in Africa0 Comments

Bahrain Regime under Pressure Turns to Executions

 Bahrain Blood 08730

During the middle of the night on January 15 2017, the Bahrain regime executed three political activists by firing squad for the apparent killing of three police officers back in 2014, one of the activists was just 21 years old. The news of their execution led to further massive street protests across the island and resentment from the population of Bahrain which coincides with various reports from human rights groups exposing that the Bahrain regimes security apparatus obtained forced confessions from the 3 activists under torture techniques such as sleep depravity, electrocution, beatings and sexual assault. [1]

Fears have once again been raised with concern that the King, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, will approve the executions of Mohamed Ramadan and Husain Ali Moosa, who also face the death penalty for the February 2014 bombing that resulted in the death of security forces. Human Rights Watch analysis of their trial and appeal judgments found that their convictions were based almost exclusively on their confessions, which both men retracted. [2] The treatment of prisoners in Bahrain has led many to fear that peaceful activists may be forced to confess to crimes they did not commit under torture, there confession can, and has already, led to death sentences.

The January executions of Abbas al-Samea, 27, Ali al-Singace, 21, and Sami Mushaima 42, [3] are the only executions the Bahrain regime has carried out since 2010. With Bahrain’s regime coming under more pressure from its constant internal civil unrest, the regime may consider executions as a tactic to try and crush the popular peoples revolution.

The Khalifa Kingdom looks its ideological & economic superior, Saudi Arabia, for leadership. Equally the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has faced similar problems from its own dissident population, mostly located in the oil rich eastern provinces. Similarly, the Saudi King ordered a brutal crackdown, imprisonment and torture of protestors within its borders. A senior Saudi Shi’i religious leader and freedom activist, Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr, was imprisoned, tortured and finally executed by the Saudi regime on 2nd January 2016 allegedly “after being convicted of terrorism offences”. [4] The killing of Sheikh Nimr caused massive outrage across the Shi’i world and Nimr has since become a recognizable figure of martyrdom among a large religious community, scattered across the Middle East and Asia, which values martyrdom incredibly highly. Saudi Arabia knew the execution would draw a massive response, yet it continued; now it is likely that Saudi Arabia is encouraging the King Khalifa of Bahrain to follow a similar policy against notable Shi’i activists, regardless of condemnation.
The Background

Since 2011, the overwhelming majority of the people of Bahrain took to the streets to demand political reform. The regime, backed by Saudi Arabia, then launched a crackdown on the peaceful opposition that included conducting thousands of arrests and systematic torture. [5] Since the brutal crackdown the opposition has demanded regime change and fair political representation for the population under a new genuine democracy.

Oppression of the population is nothing new for Bahrain, however, these highly questionable recent executions signal a new turning point in the current standoff between the peaceful opposition of the majority and the authoritarian minority regime which has been looking for new ways to extinguish the escalating opposition pressure.

On 20 June 2016, a week after the government of Bahrain suspended the leading Shia opposition group al-Wefaq, [6] Ayatollah Isa Ahmed Qassim, a senior Shia Muslim scholar and spiritual leader was stripped of his Bahraini citizenship which caused massive public outcry from the overwhelming Shia Muslim majority population. [7] The removal of Al-Wefaq, the arrest and imprisonment of leading political figures and freedom activists such as Sheikh Ali Salman [8] & Nabeel Rajab [9], along with the removal of Ayatollah Qassim’s citizenship are all pre-planned attempts by an increasingly desperate King to hold onto absolute power of the Bahraini people which see him as no more than an evil oppressive tyrant.

Britain’s role

The UK is directly involved in what happens in Bahrain due to a unique relationship between the two Kingdoms which goes back to the days of the British Empire. Nowadays the UK, in a desperate attempt to remain relevant in the Persian Gulf region, is looking to mark its military presence as well as strengthen political relations with the Persian Gulf Arab Kingdoms such as Saudi Arabia & Bahrain. The US already uses Bahrain as a base of operations for the US Navy in the Persian Gulf; the UK is currently building a navy base of its own on the island [10] which is where a major moral problem lies. As a British journalist, it is deeply concerning for me to witness my own government doing so little to help the situation in Bahrain. We have massive leverage over this country and the evidence of human rights violations being committed by the regime is both overwhelming and grossly disturbing. Our government refuses to acknowledge the depth of criminality being committed and it is very rare for any British politician or mainstream media comments or coverage on the situation.

I remember very well the comments made by our dear old ex-prime minister, David Cameron, back in 2011 not long after the Arab spring first began to spread across the Muslim world.

“The Arab spring is a massive opportunity to spread peace, prosperity, democracy, and security.” (David Cameron speaking at the UN.) [11]

The people of Bahrain have been demanding for reforms, fair political representation and for real democracy but have been met with brutal oppression, torture and murder while the great democracies of the west ignore the peaceful struggle of the Bahraini people.

If our government, led by Theresa May and Boris Johnson, wants to keep up its pretend game of ‘Persian Gulf power-brokers’, it must be prepared to stand up for the principles that a true western democracy stands for and come to the aid of any reformist revolution calling for democracy and freedom. Where better to start than Bahrain, however, one thing I have learned from covering the Middle East, democracy is not a high priority for the true holders of power in this oil rich part of the world.

EndNotes

[1] ADAM SCHRECK, ASSOCIATED PRESS (Jan 15, 2017, 2:39 ) Bahrain Executes 3 Over Police Bombing, Triggering Protests, Available at: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/bahrain-police-officer-injured-shooting-tensions-spike-44787990

[2] Human Rights Watch (JANUARY 23, 2017 12:00AM EST) Bahrain: 2 Face Execution Despite Torture Allegations, Available at: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/01/23/bahrain-2-face-execution-despite-torture-allegations

[3] Marc Jones (January 19, 2017 3.01pm GMT) A triple execution in Bahrain has provoked national outrage – and international silence, Available at: http://theconversation.com/a-triple-execution-in-bahrain-has-provoked-national-outrage-and-international-silence-71367

[4] BBC News (2 January 2016) Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr: Saudi Arabia executes top Shia cleric, Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-35213244

[5] Law, Bill (6 April 2011). “Police Brutality Turns Bahrain Into ‘Island of Fear'”Crossing Continents (via BBC News). Retrieved 15 April 2011.

[6] Al Jazeera (17 JULY 2016) Bahrain dissolves main Shia opposition Al-Wefaq party, Available at: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/07/bahrain-dissolves-main-opposition-party-160717132556468.html

[7] BBC News (20 June 2016) Bahrain revokes top Shia cleric Isa Qassim’s citizenship, Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-36578000

[8] BBC News (16 June 2015) Bahrain opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman jailed, Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-33147198

[9] Amnesty International (23 January 2017, 17:31) Bahrain: Postponement of Nabeel Rajab’s trial for sixth time is blatant harassmen, Available at: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/01/bahrain-postponement-of-nabeel-rajab-trial-for-sixth-time-is-blatant-harassment/

[10] Jamie Merrill (Sunday 1 November 2015) Royal Navy base construction begins in Bahrain as Britain seeks a return to ‘East of Suez’, Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/royal-navy-base-construction-begins-in-bahrain-as-britain-seeks-a-return-to-east-of-suez-a6716856.html

[11] The Guardian News Blog (Thursday 22 September 2011) Leaders address the UN general assembly, Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/blog/2011/sep/22/ahmadinejad-addresses-un-general-assembly

Posted in Bahrain0 Comments

Iraqi VP al-Maliki: Saudi Arabia Is the Breeding Ground for Terrorism in the Middle East

 Nouri al Maliki d8157

The Iraqi armed forces did not possess adequate weapons to fight the Daesh terrorist group but Iran equipped them with much-needed military hardware, Maliki said in a press conference in Tehran on Monday.

He added that Iran was the only country to assist Iraq in the battle against Daesh and other terrorist groups.

Maliki said several countries had declared their readiness to help Iraq in its war on terrorism but only Iran backed up its words with actions.

The former Iraqi prime minister also blasted Saudi Zio-Wahhabi policies in the Middle East and said Riyadh is the breeding ground for terrorism.

Maliki emphasized that Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime has failed to achieve its objectives in the region and is currently paying the price for its wrong policy of supporting terrorists.

The Iraqi veep further said his current visit to Tehran is aimed at improving mutual relations, adding that the two countries have close and strategic ties.

Maliki arrived in Tehran on Saturday to hold talks with senior Iranian officials.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on August 10 hailed the presence of Iranian military advisors in the country’s battle against Daesh terrorists and said the Iranian advisors were present in Iraq on Baghdad’s request.

Posted in Iraq, Saudi Arabia0 Comments

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi Ambassador: ‘Like Asking if You’ll Stop Beating Your Wife’

Prince Abdullah Al Saud d8671

Prince Abdullah Al-Saud, Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ambassador to the United States, was confronted by a reporter from the Intercept.

“Will you continue to use cluster weapons in Yemen?” the reporter asked the diplomat.

Zio-Wahhabi Al-Saud laughed before answering: “This is like the question, ‘Will you stop beating your wife?’”

After the reporter repeated the question, the ambassador again dismissed it, saying “You are political operators. I’m not a politician.”

Speaking at the Annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference last week, al-Saud insisted that the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi led coalition will continue its bombing campaign in Yemen, the Intercept reported.

“If anyone attacks human lives and disturbs the border, in whatever region, we’re going to continue hitting them, no matter what,” said al-Saud.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi led coalition of war crimes following an airstrike on a funeral in Yemen on October 8. In that incident, at least two air-dropped munitions penetrated the roof of a hall containing over 1,000 mourners during the funeral ceremony of Ali al-Rawishan, the father of the Sanaa-based administration’s interior minister, Jalal al-Rawishan. At least 140 people were killed and 610 wounded.

Despite calls by US officials to review its support for its Middle Eastern ally, Washington continues to sell arms to Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime, approving more than $20 billion in military sales in 2015 alone, HRW reports.

According to UN data from August this year, the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi intervention in Yemen has claimed the lives of at least 10,000 people, including almost 4,000 civilians. The UN and HRW have repeatedly accused the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi military of dropping cluster bombs in Yemeni residential areas.

Posted in Saudi Arabia, Yemen0 Comments

Amnesty International’s Kangaroo Report on Syria

AI Syria 19e96

Introduction

Amnesty International (AI) has done some good investigations and reports over the years. This has won them widespread support.  However, less well recognized, Amnesty International has also carried out faulty investigations contributing to bloody and disastrous actions. One prominent example is in Iraq, where AI “corroborated” the false story that Iraqi soldiers were stealing incubators from Kuwait, leaving babies to die on the cold floor. The deception was planned and carried out in Washington DC to influence the public and Congress.  A more recent example is from 2011 where false accusations were being made about Libya and its leader as Western and Persian Gulf powers sought to overthrow the Gaddafi government. AI leaders joined the campaign claiming that Gaddafi was using “mercenaries” to threaten and kill peacefully protesting civilians. The propaganda was successful in muting criticism. Going far beyond a UN Security Council resolution to “protect civilians”, NATO launched sustained air attacks and toppled the Libyan government leading to chaos, violence and a flood of refugees. AI later refuted the “mercenary” accusations but the damage was done.

The Sensational New Amnesty International Report

On 7 February Amnesty International released a new report titled “Human Slaughterhouse: Mass Hangings and Extermination at Saydnaya Prison”. It has received huge uncritical review in mainstream and liberal media.

Like the Iraq/Kuwait incubator story and the Libyan ‘mercenary’ story, the “Human Slaughterhouse” report is coming at a critical time. The consequences of the AI report are to accuse and convict the Syrian government of horrible atrocities against civilians.  AI explicitly calls for the international community to take “action”.

As will be shown below, the AI report is biased and partial. To the extent that it is resulting in a widespread kangaroo conviction of the Syrian government, the AI release can be called a “Kangaroo Report”.

Problems with the Report

1) The Amnesty International report on Syria violates their own research standards.  As documented by Prof Tim Hayward here, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty, claims that Amnesty does its research in a very systematic, primary, way where we collect evidence with our own staff on the ground. And every aspect of our data collection is based on corroboration and cross-checking from all parties, even if there are, you know, many parties in any situation because of all of the issues we deal with are quite contested. So it’s very important to get different points of view and constantly cross check and verify the facts.’ As documented below, the Amnesty report fails on all counts: they rely on third parties, they did not gather different points of view and they did not cross-check.

2) The report conclusions are not based on primary sources, material evidence or their own staff; they are solely based on the claims of anonymous individuals, mostly in southern Turkey from where the war on Syria is coordinated.

3) Amnesty gathered witnesses and testimonies from only one side of the conflict: the Western and Persian Gulf supported opposition. For example, AI consulted with the Syrian Network for Human Rights which is known to seek NATO intervention in Syria. AI “liased” with the Commission for International Justice and Accountability. This organization is funded by the West to press criminal charges against the Syrian leadership. These are obviously not neutral, independent or nonpartisan organizations. If AI was doing what the Secretary General claims they do, they would have consulted with organizations within or outside Syria to hear different accounts of life at Saydnaya Prison.  Since the AI report has been released, the AngryArab has published the account of a Syrian dissident, Nizar Nayyouf, who was imprisoned at Saydnaya. He contradicts many statements in the Amnesty International report. This is the type of cross-checking which Amnesty International failed to do for this important study.

4) Amnesty’s accusation that executions were “extrajudicial” is exaggerated or false. By Amnesty’s own description, each prisoner appeared briefly before a judge and each execution was authorized by a high government leader. We do not know if the judge looked at documentation or other information regarding each prisoner. One could argue that the process was superficial but it’s clear there was some kind of judicial process.

5) Amnesty’s suggestion that all Saydnaya prisoners are convicted is false.  Amnesty quotes one of their witnesses who says about the court: “The judge will ask the name of the detainee and whether he committed the crime. Whether the answer is yes or no, he will be convicted.” This assertion is contradicted by a former Saydnaya prisoner who is now a refugee in Sweden. In this news report the former prisoner says the judge “asked him how many soldiers he had killed. When he said none, the judge spared him.” This is evidence that there is a judicial process of some sort and there are acquittals.

6) The Amnesty report includes satellite photographs with captions which are meaningless or erroneous. For example, as pointed out by Syrian dissident Nizar Nayyouf, the photo on page 30 showing a Martyrs Cemetery is “silly beyond silly”. The photo and caption show the cemetery doubled in size. However, this does not prove hangings of prisoners who would never be buried in a “martyrs cemetery” reserved for Syrian army soldiers. On the contrary, it confirms the fact which Amnesty International otherwise ignores:  Syrian soldiers have died in large numbers.

7) The Amnesty report falsely claims, based on data provided by one of the groups seeking NATO intervention, “The victims are overwhelmingly ordinary civilians who are thought to oppose the government.”  While it’s surely true that innocent civilians are sometimes wrongly arrested, as happens in all countries, the suggestion that Saydnaya prison is filled with 95% “ordinary civilians” is preposterous. Amnesty International can make this claim with a straight face because they have effectively “disappeared” the reality of Syria. Essential facts which are completely missing from the Amnesty report include:

  1. Western powers and Persian Gulf monarchies have put up billions of dollars annually since 2011 to fund, train, weaponize, provide salaries and propaganda in support of a violent campaign to overthrow the Syrian government;
  2. tens of thousands of foreign fanatics have invaded Syria;
  3. tens of thousands of Syrians have been radicalized and paid by Wahhabi monarchies in the Persian Gulf to overthrow the government;
  4. over 100 THOUSAND Syrian Army and National Defense soldiers have been killed defending their country. Most of this is public information yet ignored by Amnesty International and other media in the West. They have done a massive distortion and cover-up of reality.

8) Without providing evidence, Amnesty International accuses the highest Sunni religious leader in Syria, Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, of authorizing the execution of “ordinary civilians”. The Grand Mufti is a personal victim: his son was murdered by terrorists near Aleppo. Yet he has consistently called for reconciliation. Following the assassination of his son, Grand Mufti Hassoun gave an eloquent speech expressing forgiveness for the murderers and calling for an end to the violence. What does it say about Amnesty International that they make these kind of specific personal accusations, against people who have personally suffered, yet provide zero evidence?

9) Amnesty uses sensational and emotional accusations in place of factual evidence. The title of the report is  “Human Slaughterhouse”. What goes with a “slaughterhouse”?  Why of course ….. a “meat fridge”!  The report uses the expression “meat fridge” seven separate times, presumably in an attempt to buttress the association.  Even the opening quotation is hyperbolic: “Saydnaya is the end of life – the end of humanity”.  This report is in sharp contrast with fact-based objective research and investigation; it is closer to perception management and manipulation.

10) Amnesty International accusations that the Syrian government is carrying out a policy of “extermination” are contradicted by the fact that the vast majority of Syrians prefer to live in government controlled areas. When the “rebels” were finally driven out of East Aleppo in December 2016, 90% of civilians rushed into government controlled areas. In recent days, civilians from Latakia province who had been imprisoned by terrorists for the past 3 years have been liberated in a prisoner exchange. The following video shows the Syrian President and first lady meeting with some of the civilians and gives a sense of the joy.

11) The Amnesty report is accompanied by a 3 minute cartoon which gives the false narrative that Syrian civilians who protest peacefully are imprisoned and executed. The cartoon is titled “Saydnaya Prison: Human Slaughterhouse”. Apparently Amnesty International is in denial of the fact that there are many tens of thousands of violent extremists in Syria. They set off car bombs, launch mortars and otherwise attack civilian areas every day. While there are mistakes from time to time, and also cases of corruption and bribery, it makes no sense that Syrian security or prison authorities would be wasting time and resources with non-violent civilians when there are tens of thousands of foreign sponsored actual terrorists in the country. The AI accusation is also contradicted by the fact that there are many opposition parties in Syria. They compete for seats in the National Assembly and campaign openly for public support from both the right and left of the Baath Party.

12) The Amnesty claim that Syrian authorities brutally repress peaceful protest is also contradicted by the Syrian reconciliation process. For the past several years armed opposition militants have been encouraged to lay down their weapons and peacefully rejoin society. This is largely unreported in western media because it contradicts the false stereotype presented by Amnesty International and western media in general. A recent example is reported here.

13) The Amnesty report cites the “Caesar” photographs as supporting evidence but ignores the fact that nearly half the photographs show the opposite of what was claimed. The widely publicized “Caesar photographs” was a Qatari funded hoax designed to sabotage the 2014 Geneva negotiations as documented here.

14) The Amnesty report makes many accusations against the Syrian government but ignores the violation of Syrian sovereignty being committed by western and Persian Gulf countries. It is a curious fact that big NGOs such as Amnesty International focus on violations of “human rights law” and “humanitarian law” but ignore the crime of aggression, also called the crime against peace.  According to the Nuremberg Tribunal, this is “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister and former President of the U.N. General Assembly, Father Miguel D’Escoto, is someone who should know. He says, “What the U.S. government is doing in Syria is tantamount to a war of aggression, which, according to the Nuremberg Tribunal, is the worst possible crime a State can commit against another State.” Amnesty International ignores this.

Background and Context

The co-author of this Amnesty International report is Nicolette Waldman (Boehland). She was uncritically interviewed on DemocracyNow on 9 February. The background and previous work of Waldman shows the inter-connections between influential Washington “think tanks” and the billionaire foundation funded Non Governmental Organizations that claim to be independent but are clearly not. Waldman previously worked for the “Center for Civilians in Conflict”. This organization is directed by leaders from George Soros’ Open Society, Human Rights Watch, Blackrock Solutions and the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). CNAS may be the most significant indication of political orientation since it is led by Michele Flournoy, who was predicted to become Secretary of Defense if Hillary Clinton had won the election. CNAS has been a leading force behind neo-conservatives plan to escalate war in Syria. While past work or associations do not always define new or future work, in this case the sensational and evidence-free accusations seem to align with neoconservative political goals.

Conclusion

Amnesty International has previously published false information or “corroboration” which justified western aggression against Iraq and Libya. This seems to be the same role they are playing now in Syria.

The Amnesty International report is a combination of accusations based on hearsay and sensationalism. Partially because of Amnesty’s undeserved reputation for independence and accuracy, the report has been picked up and broadcast widely.  Liberal and supposedly progressive media outlets have dutifully echoed the dubious accusations. In reality this report amounts to a Kangaroo court with the victim being the Syrian government and people who have borne the brunt of the foreign sponsored aggression. If this report sparks an escalation of the conflict, which Amnesty International seems to call for, it will be a big step backwards not forward ….just like in Iraq and Libya.

Posted in Human Rights, Syria, UK0 Comments

#Vault7: How CIA steals hacking fingerprints from Russia & others to cover its tracks

NOVANEWS

Image result for CIA CARTOON

The CIA can hide its own fingerprints from its hacking exploits and attribute blame to others, such as Russia and China, according to WikiLeaks’ Year Zero confidential data release.

READ MORE: WikiLeaks publishes ‘entire hacking capacity of the CIA’

Every hacking technique leaves a “fingerprint” which, when collated, can be used to connect different attacks and tie them to the same culprit.

The CIA’s Remote Development Branch (RDB)’s Umbrage sub-group collects an archive of hacking exploits created by other actors, like Russia and other hackers, and leaves this false trace for others to detect.

, a group within the CIA’s Remote Devices Branch, collects stolen malware & uses it to hide its own hacking fingerprints

Umbrage captures and collects keyloggers, passwords, webcam captures, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques.

This allows the CIA to not only steal other’s hack techniques, but falsely apportion blame to those actors.

CIA uses techniques to make cyber attacks look like they originated from enemy state. It turns DNC/Russia hack allegation by CIA into a JOKE

Hacking Team

An Umbrage document shows how the agency mined information from a breach of Italian “offensive security” vendor Hacking Team, that boasts governmental and law enforcement clients.

Some 400GB of data including “browser credential stealing” and “six different zero-day exploits” was released in the breach, which Umbrage studied and added to its repository.

DNC hack

This is how the CIA uses false ‘fingerprints’ to frame others, such as Russia (ie DNC hack) @TuckerCarlson

In the case of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack, which reports have connected to Russia, the fingerprints used to link blame to Russian hackers may have been manipulated.

Binoy Kampmark, legal and social sciences academic, told RT the technique is widely used not just by the CIA, but by other agencies worldwide, and had recently been used for tapping into the US elections.

“That’s one of the classic aspects of it which is done of course not just by the CIA, but by other agencies – that is to give the impression that the attack is coming from another source, and that’s one of the state-of-the-art ways of doing it,” Kampmark said.

“It throws the investigators off the scent by giving the impression [the attack] comes from multiple targets and sources and that’s what’s what happened in one of the cases that has been made in recent time – the allegations of hacking and interference in electoral system.”

READ MORE: ‘Propaganda intended to incite Americans’: John McAfee to RT on ‘Russian hacking’ claims

Crowdstrike, a private security firm linked to the Atlantic Council, found the hackers who accessed the DNC emails (and those of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta) left “clues,” which Crowdstrike attributed to Russian hackers.

Malware dug into the DNC computers was found to be programmed to communicate with IP addresses associated with Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear – hacking groups that Crowdstrike says are controlled by Russian intelligence.

READ MORE: US Senator accuses RT of hacking Google, RT suggests he should learn how search engines work

Metadata found in a file contained modifications by a user using Cyrillic text and a codename Felix Edmundovich.

– there goes the whole CIA narrative about Russian hacking of the 2016 election. https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/ 

While the documents released don’t tie Crowdstrike to the CIA’s Umbrage program, the data demonstrates how easily fingerprints can be manipulated, and how the CIA’s vast collection of existing malware can be employed to disguise its own actions.

Former Pentagon official Michael Maloof says that by using Russian “fingerprints” the CIA may have deliberately put the blame for hacking on the Russians.

“Apparently they were able to obtain Russian malware and then they can turn that around and make it look like [attacks] were coming from Russia. And that gets into a political narrative that we’re hearing these days of hacking and what have you, blaming it all on the Russians.

“But was it something that earlier hackers obtained from the release of this information and then turned it around in order to put the blame on the Russians – big question,” he told RT.

Posted in USA0 Comments

WikiLeaks CIA Vault 7: ‘We are looking at George Orwell’s 1984’

NOVANEWS
WikiLeaks CIA Vault 7: 'We are looking at George Orwell’s 1984’
WikiLeaks revelations about the CIA and its scope of activity show that this is not only a security issue – it impacts businesses while the privacy we take for granted is at risk. It is a very dangerous path for democracy to go down, experts told RT.

Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks released on Tuesday a part of confidential documents on America’s Central Intelligence Agency. WikiLeaks said that this collection of leaked CIA documents which revealed the extent of its hacking capabilities was “less than one percent of its Vault 7 series”.

READ MORE: WikiLeaks publishes ‘entire hacking capacity of the CIA’ 

These documents also includes revelations that the CIA is apparently able to disguise its own spying as the work of other countries.

RT discussed the revelations with former CIA officers, whistle-blowers and IT experts.

Read more

© Gary Hershorn

‘Modern aspect of cyber-war’

Dr. Binoy Kampmark, Senior Lecturer from RMIT University in Melbourne, told RT that “potentially, it is very significant, because what it does show, should it actually come out to be the case, the demonstrable pattern of engagement by the CIA in terms of its hacking techniques.”

“That is particularly valuable and that is particularly illuminating. In time it may very well be that his particular disclosure will reveal a very modern aspect of the cyber war,” he continued.

“And this is what the President of the US more or less said that the US has to arm for the next cyber conflict, that essentially this is an age of a cyber-war. All of this demonstrates the sheer seriousness and the importance of understanding these capabilities but also, of course, the race as it were between various agencies to identify the best means or the most effective means of actually hacking into systems,” Kampmark said.

‘Spotlight into a dark area’

Larry Johnson, retired CIA and State Department official said that “this material is significant in that it shows just how robust and how organized the CIA effort is, at least overseas, to be engaged with cyber activities.”

“Frankly, I think they should be, but we also recognize that other major powers are also doing the same thing, it provides a little bit, I guess, of spotlight into a dark area, that is normally not accessible  to the public,” he added.

Secret CIA table details malware techniques ‘stolen’ and re-used from malware in other countries states https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/cms/page_2621753.html 

‘Not just a security issue, impacts business’

Asked about whether it is really Russian hackers that people should be worrying about, John Safa, Pushfor Founder, told RT that his experience is that “there are hackers all over the globe”.

In Safa’s view, “this is quite damaging information in these documents. Especially because some of this is validated by legitimate source code that is in there as well. I don’t think it is just the Russians at all, there are very clever security experts both in the UK here in London and also in the US.”

Safa told that his biggest concern is with the messaging tools. “The part of these documents have demonstrated that a lot of our popular tools, like WhatsApp and Telegram have been hacked. And obviously this is starting to be reflected in Europe. Deutsche Bank banned WhatsApp. They must have obviously know something was going on.”

Safa said he thinks “it is going to be repercussions in lots of different verticals and in lots of different industries. Because obviously this impacts their businesses. That is not just a security issue, but it also impacts business. What information could get leaked out, if this information gets into wrong hands? So, this has really serious ramifications.”

BREAKING: publishes ‘entire hacking capacity of the https://on.rt.com/84zw 

: WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo also hacked before encryption applied http://on.rt.com/84zw 

Photo published for WikiLeaks publishes 'entire hacking capacity of the CIA' — RT News

WikiLeaks publishes ‘entire hacking capacity of the CIA’ — RT News

WikiLeaks has published what it claims is the largest ever batch of confidential documents on the CIA, revealing the breadth of the agency’s ability to hack smartphones and popular social media…

 

‘We are looking at “1984”’

Annie Machon, former MI5 intelligence officer, recalled that “last year, there was the biggest botnet attack ever, which took down the Internet across Western America, then across Eastern America, and them across some of the Western Europe.”

“And this botnet was built on smart devices within people’s homes. Not their computers, not their phones, but on things like smart fridges, smart computers, that sort of thing, and smart televisions, as well. It is utterly feasible that all these devices have already been hacked and they are used to spy on us.”

“We are looking at the George Orwell “1984” novel where we have screens in our flats potentially watching us. I remember back in the 1990s, the capability was there to implant software onto primitive mobile phones, onto primitive computers, so that they could indeed be switched on to record and film us and log our keystrokes,” Machon said.

“However, back in those days, there was a notion of oversight, and there was a notion of targeted surveillance, which is what we need to prevent the bad guys doing bad things to us. And it was also very labor-intensive.  Because of the massive expansion of the Internet and technology, now they can do it on the industrial scale, which is what they seem to have developed. Which means that none of us has any inherent sense of privacy, unless we take quite extreme actions to protect our privacy even in our homes,” she added.

Machon warned the new technological realities “is very dangerous for fully functioning democracy. Because once you lose the sense that you have privacy to talk, to write, to watch, to read, then suddenly you might start self-censoring yourself in the sense that you inhibit what you do. So you can’t fully inform yourself, be fully informed participatory citizen in a democracy. It is a very dangerous path to go down.”

Posted in USA0 Comments

Asking Foolish Questions About Serious Issues

NOVANEWS

by  Dr: Richard Falk

 Image result for Clinton campaign CARTOON

When the Clinton campaign started complaining about Russia interfering in US elections by hacking into the DNC I was struck by their excesses of outrage and the virtual absence of any acknowledgement that the United States has been interfering in dozens of foreign elections for decades with no apparent second thoughts. CNN and other media brings one national security expert after another to mount various cases against Putin and the Kremlin, and to insist that Russia is up to similar mischief in relation to the upcoming French elections. And never do they dare discuss whether such interference is a rule of the game, similar to espionage, or whether what was alleged to have been done by the Russians might lead the US political leaders and its intelligence agencies to reconsider its own reliance on such tactics to help sway foreign elections.

 

Is this selective perception merely one more instance of American exceptionalism? We can hack away, but our elections and sovereign space are hallowed ground, which if encroached upon, should be resisted by all possible means. It is one thing to argue that democracy and political freedom are jeopardized by such interference as is being attributed to Moscow, and if their behavior influenced the outcome, it makes Russia responsible for a disaster not only in the United States but in the world. The disaster is named Trump. Assuming this Russian engagement by way of what they evidently call ‘active measures’ occurred is, first of all, an empirical matter of gathering evidence and reaching persuasive conclusions. Assuming the allegations are to some extent validated, it hardly matters whether by what means the interference was accomplished, whether done by cyber technology, electronic eavesdropping, dirty tricks, secret financial contributions, or otherwise.

 

What is diversionary and misleading is to foster the impression that the Russians breached solemn rules of international law by disrupting American democracy and doing their best to get Trump elected or weaken the Clinton presidency should she have been elected. The integrity of American democratic procedures may have been seriously compromised, and this is deeply regrettable and should be remedied to the extent possible, but whatever happened should not be greeted with shock and consternation as if some inviolate international red line had been provocatively crossed.

 

There are three appropriate questions to pose: (1) what can we do to increase cyber defenses to prevent future intrusions, and restore domestic confidence that elections in the United States reflect the unimpeded will of the citizenry and are not the result of machinations by outsiders? (2) do we possess the means to ascertain the impact of such intrusions on the outcome of the 2016 national elections, and if such investigation points beyond a reasonable doubt to the conclusion that without the intrusion Clinton would have won, should that void the result, and impose on Congress the duty to arrange for a new emergency electoral procedure for selecting a president free from taint (especially if the Trump campaign aided and abetted the Russian intrusion)? (3) are there ways to bolster norms against interventions in the internal affairs of sovereign states that offer protection against such interference? Note that giving convincing answers to these questions is not a simple matter, and requires serious reflection and debate.

 

To illustrate the moral and political complexity we can consider the core dilemma that is present for a government with a dog in the fight. Suppose the Kremlin had reason to believe that a Clinton presidency would lead to a new cold war, would it not have been reasonable, and even responsible, for Russians leaders to support Trump, and if the situation were reversed, shouldn’t the US do all it can do to avoid the election of a belligerent Russian leader? Wouldn’t millions of people have been thankful if Western interference in the German elections of 1933 were of sufficient magnitude to avoid the triumph of the National Socialist Party?

 

 

There are good and bad precedents arising from past international behavior, especially if established by important states by repeated action, that then empower others to act in a similar manner. Without governmental institutions to oversee political behavior, the development of international law proceeds by way of international practice. Thus when the United States claims the right to interfere and even engage in regime-changing interventions, we greatly weaken any objections when others do the same sort of thing. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The logic of reciprocity contributes to a normative process that reflects international practice as much as it does international lawmaking treaties.

 

Some equally serious and worrisome parallel issues are raised by recent disclosures of serious cyber attacks by the US Government on the North Korean nuclear program. The American media and government officialdom treat the conduct of cyber warfare against North Korea’s nuclear program as something to be judged exclusively by its success or failure, not whether its right or wrong, prudent or reckless. We interfered with the North Korean nuclear program without seeking authorization from the UN, and certainly without any willingness to tolerate reciprocal behavior by others that disrupted any of our nuclear activities.

 

It can be plausibly argued that North Korea and its wily leader, Kim Jong-un, are dangerous, reprehensible, and irresponsible, and that it is intolerable for such a government to possess nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. That such a circumstance creates a ‘right of exception,’ suspending international law and considerations of reciprocity, would seem a far more responsible way to proceed, preserving a sense that the US is normally respectful of and accountable to international law, but North Korea poses such a dire threat to humanity as to make all means of interference acceptable. But apparently so intoxicated by geopolitical hubris the thought never occurs to either our leaders or the compliant mainstream media that puts out its own version of ‘fake news’ night after night. It is instructive to realize how bipartisan is this disregard of the relevance of international law to a sustainable world order. These new disclosures relating to North Korea assert that Trump ‘inherited’ an ongoing cyber war program from Obama, who had in earlier years been unabashedly complicit with Israel’s cyber efforts to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.

 

Does it serve the interests of the United States to set the rules of the game in international relations with respect to nuclear policy, making little pretense of being bound by the standards imposed on other sovereign states, especially those non-nuclear states accused of taking steps to acquire the weaponry? The tigers control the mice, and the idea of a rule of law that treats equals equally is completely foreign to the American mindset in the 21st century when it comes to the role of hard power, security policy, and grand strategy in international life, but interestingly, but much less so in the context of trade and investment. This distinction is worth pondering.

 

In other words when it comes to security policy and grand strategy, there are two basic rules of contemporary geopolitics that contravene the golden rule of ethical behavior:

 

         Rule #1: Do not allow others to do unto you what you frequently do to others (the Russian hacking discourse);

 

         Rule #2: Do unto other what you would never accept others doing unto you (cyber attacks on Iran and North Korea).

 

It is arguable that this normative assymetry is the only way that world order can be sustained given the absence of world government, or even a strong enough UN to enact and implement common behavioral standards in these domains traditionally reserved for sovereign discretion. A golden rule governing the way states are expected to act toward one another with respect to war/peace issues is certainly currently situated in global dream space. If this is so or so believed, let us at least lift the fog of self-righteous rhetoric, plan to defend our political space as well as we can, and rethink the unintended consequences of interfering in foreign elections and engaging in regime-changing interventions.

 

At least, let us not deceive ourselves into believing that we are responsible custodians of peace and decency in the world. Do we really have grounds for believing that Donald Trump is less dangerous to the world than Kim Jong-un or the Supreme Guide of Iran? Even if their outlook on political engagement overlaps and their swagger is similar, the US is far more powerful, has alone used nuclear weapons against civilian targets and overthrown numerous foreign governments, including those elected in fair and free elections, and has its own house in a condition of disorder, although despite all this admittedly humanly far more desirable than the order experienced within totalitarian North Korea.

 

Is it not time for the peoples of the world to rise up and put some restraints on the strong as well as the weak? The UN veto power confers on the most powerful states a constitutional free ride when it comes to compliance with international law and the UN Charter. In effect, the UN back in 1945 institutionalized a topsy-turvy structure that curbs the weak, while granting impunity to the predatory behavior of the strong.

 

If we grant that this is the way things are and are likely to remain, can’t we at least look in the mirror, and no longer pretend to be that innocent damsel that can only be protected by slaying the dragons roaming the jungles of the world. Trump had his singular moment of truth when he responded on February 4th to Bill O’Reilly’s assertion that Putin was “a killer”: “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country is so innocent.” And unlike Trump’s frequent journeys into dark thickets of falsehood that are dismissed by the injunction “let Trump be Trump,” when the man speaks truly for once, his words were scorched, and erased even from the influential media blackboards of the alt right.

Posted in USA0 Comments

Erasing the UN

NOVANEWS
by Richard Falk

Image result for UN CARTOON

 

Donald Trump has articulated clearly, if somewhat vaguely and incoherently, his anti-globalist, anti-UN approach on foreign policy. For instance, in late February he told a right-wing audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference that “there is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency, or a global flag. This is the United States that I am representing. I am not representing the globe.” A similar sentiment was expressed to Congress a few days later in a tone of voice and choice of words praised by media wonks as ‘presidential.’ On this occasion Trump said, “[m]y job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.” Such rhetoric coming from a normal American leader would probably be interpreted as an expression of geopolitical humility, implicitly rejecting the standard insistence on American exceptionalism, exemplified in recent times by the project to create and maintain the first global state in human history.

 

This potentially self-limiting language might even be understood as renouncing earlier claims to assert American global leadership as the keystone of world order. George W. Bush in 2002 gave this bold leadership claim a sharp edge when he insisted the that only the US model of market-based constitutionalism was a legitimate form of governance for sovereign states in the 21st century. Or even more grandiosely, in the spirit of Michael Mandelbaum and Thomas Friedman, that the United States as a consequence of its martial strength, technological prowess, democratic values and institutions, and skills of leadership provides the world with the benevolent reality of virtual ‘world government.’ Let’s face it, Donald Trump is not a normal political leader, nor is he someone disposed to embrace humility in any form, so we should take his pledge to represent American interests while leaving the world to fend for itself with many grains of salt, especially if we consider the specifics of the Trump worldview. What Trump seems to be offering is maximum disengagement from international and global arrangements designed to institutionalize cooperation among sovereign states, and that is where the UN figures in Trump’s unfolding game plan.

Even before being sworn in as president Trump engaged in UN-bashing on behalf of, and in concert with the Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu. His dismissive comment contained in a tweet is rather revealing: “The UN has great potential, but right now it is just a club for people to get together, talk, and have a good time. So sad!” Of course, we are not told what Trump thinks might bring into being this ‘great potential’ of the UN. Also not surprisingly, the tweet was provoked by Security Resolution 2334, adopted December 23rd by a 14-0 vote, which sharply criticized Israeli settlement expansion as unlawful and as creating a major obstacles to establishing peace with the Palestinians. The Obama presidency was sharply criticized by Trump and others, including many Democrats, for allowing passage of this resolution at the UN by failing to do what it had consistently done for the prior eight years, shield Israel from often fully deserved, and long overdue, UN censure by casting a veto. It seems that Trump, a bipartisan consensus in Congress, and the new US Representative at the UN, Nikki Haley evaluate the usefulness of the UN through an ‘Israel first’ optic, that is, the significance of UN is actually reduced to its attitude toward Israel, which is viewed through Israeli eyes, and is unmindful toward the wide spectrum of UN activities and contributions to human wellbeing.

 

It must be acknowledged that the Obama presidency did only slightly better when it comes to both the UN and Israel. True, Barack Obama in his annual addresses to the General Assembly affirmed the importance and contributions of the UN by concrete reference to achievements, and used these occasions to set forth his vision of a better world that included a major role for the UN. Also, Obama recognized the importance of the UN in dealing with the challenge of climate change, and joined with China to ensure a multilateralist triumph under UN auspices by having the 194 assembled government successfully conclude the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. However, when it came to war/peace issues such as drone warfare, threats of war directed at Iran, modernization of nuclear weapons, and the defense of Israel, the Obama Administration flexed its geopolitical muscles with disdain for the constraining limits imposed by international law and international morality. In this core respect, Trump’s approach, while blunter and oblivious to the etiquette of global diplomacy, appears to maintain fundamental continuity with the Obama approach.

 

With respect to defending Israel even when it faces responsible criticism, I can report from my own experience while serving as UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine, that the defense of Israel’s unlawful behavior within the UN during the Obama years was unconditional, and deeply irresponsible toward respect for international legal obligations, especially in relation to upholding international humanitarian law and norms governing recourse to non-defensive force. American chief representatives at the UN, Susan Rice and Samantha Power, both called for my dismissal from my unpaid post in vitriolic language without ever confronting the substance of my criticisms of Israel’s murderous periodic attacks on Gaza, its excessive use of force in sustaining the occupation, its expansion of unlawful settlements, and its discriminatory administration of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. I mention this personal experience to underscore the willingness of the Obama presidency to go all in with Israel despite the awkward fact that Obama was being harshly attacked in Israel, including by government leasers, and hence also in the US. Obama was being wrongly accused of being unfriendly to Israel as compared to earlier American presidents. Israel has high expectations that Trump will sway with the wind from Tel Aviv.

 

More to the point, Trump’s view of foreign policy at this stage appears to be a primitive mixture of state-centrism, militarism, nationalism, overall what had qualified until World War I as realpolitik. There was back then no UN, few international institutions, no international law prohibition on aggressive war, no Nuremberg Principles imposing criminal accountability on political and military leaders, no tradition of protection for international human rights, and no affirmation of the inalienable right of all peoples to self-determination. It was a Eurocentric state system that combined the interaction of sovereign states in the West with colonial rule extended directly and indirectly to most of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Of course, now the colonial system has formally collapsed, China, Russia, and India have risen, Europe has declined, nuclear weapons continue to shadow human existence, and the specter of global warming dangles a sword of Damocles over the human condition. Trump seeks to restore a simpler world with his raucous rally cries of ‘America First.’ This is to be accomplished by carrying out a series of promises: to renegotiate trade arrangements, build walls, crush terrorism, terrorize undocumented immigrants, liberate police from accountability, bar Muslim immigration, and develop the world’s most feared nuclear arsenal. It is not a pretty picture, but also it involves a reckless disregard of the fragility of our interconnected and networked world order that mandates a globalizing framework for common problem-solving rather that a retreat to a glorious past that never was.

 

Of course, it would be misleading to leave the impression that the Trump worldview is bereft of any constructive thoughts about how to engage with the world. Trump’s controversial connections with Putin and Russia impart a contradictory impression: what is favorable is an evident interest in exploring prospects for a cooperative relationship, which goes against the grain of the American national security establishment, including several Republican heavyweights, which seemed likely in an expected Clinton presidency to be readying the country for a dangerous plunge into a second cold war. It would be ignited with reckless bravado by confronting Russia along its borders; in contrast, what is dubious about the Trump overtures to the Kremlin are the backdoor dealings with Russian officials during the presidential campaign and subsequently, reinforced by the ‘golden shower’ innuendo and unresolved concerns that Trump’s withheld tax returns might reveal awkward information about indebtedness or business dealings or both.

 

Whether Trump is going to abandon this effort to smooth things with Moscow under this pressure from the US intelligence and security bureaucracy will be a defining feature of whether his foreign policy gets early stuck in the Washington swamp, or risks the governmentally unsettling effects of discontinuity with the past. There are some cynical interpretations of Trump’s opening to Russia as primarily intended to set the stage for intensified confrontations with China. If this view is even partially correct it could easily generate a cold war of its own, although with new alignments. It might quickly lead to hot battlefield incidents that could further escalate, giving rise to renewed fears of nuclear war.

 

Trump occasionally expresses an appreciation of international cooperation for mutual benefit with other states, as well as recognizing the benefits of keeping traditional alliances (NATO, Japan, South Korea) alive and threatening those countries that menace the global or regional status quo (North Korea). What is totally absent is any acknowledgement of global challenges that cannot be met by states acting on their own or cooperatively through bilateral arrangements. It is here where the erasure of the UN from political consciousness is so troublesome substantively as well as symbolically. To some degree this erasure preceded Trump and is widespread. It has not been challenged as yet by even the Sanders’ end of the political spectrum in the US. I found it telling that Obama made no reference to the UN in his Chicago farewell speech, which can be most accurately understood as a more positive and polite version of Trump’s ‘America First’ engagement with the world.

 

Even better, on an abstract level, Trump expressed some sentiments that if concretized could overcome some of the forebodings being voiced here. In his speech to Congress on February 28th Trump said “[w]e want harmony and stability, not war and conflict. We want peace wherever peace can be found.” He went on to point out that “America is friends today with former enemies. Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite sides of these World Wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.” If this outlook ever comes to inform the actual policies of the Trump presidency it would give grounds for hope, but as of now, any such hopes are mere indulgences of wishful thinking, and as such, diversions from the one true progressive imperative of this historic moment–political resistance to Trumpism in all its manifestations.

 

Dark lines of policy have also been set forth by Trump. The angry defiance of his Inaugural Address, the belligerence toward China, threats toward North Korea, exterminist language in references to ‘radical Islamic’ extremism and ISIS. Trump’s belligerence toward the world is reinforced by lauding military virtues and militarism, by appointing generals and civilian advisors to top positions, and by boosting the military budget at a time when the United States already spends almost as much on its military machine as is the total of military expenditures by all other countries, and has only a string of political defeats to show for it.

 

These contrasting Trump imaginaries create an atmosphere of foreboding and uncertainty. Such a future can unfold in contradictory ways. At present, the forebodings clearly outweigh the hopes. Although Trump speaks of fixing the decaying infrastructure of the United States and not wasting trillions on futile wars, especially in the Middle East, his inclinations so far suggest continuity in such brutal war theaters as Syria, Yemen, and Libya.

 

We have reached a stage of human development where future prospects are tied to finding institutional mechanisms that can serve human and global interests in addition to national interests, whether pursued singly or in aggregate. In this central respect, Trump’s ardent embrace of American nationalism is an anachronistic dead end.

 

What I find particularly discouraging about the present bipartisan political mood is its near total erasure of the United Nations and international law. These earlier efforts to modify and ameliorate international anarchy have virtually disappeared from the political horizons of American leaders. This reflects a loss of the kind of idealism that earlier energized the political imagination of those who spoke for the United States ever since the American Revolution. There was admittedly always much hypocrisy and self-deception attached to this rhetoric, which conveniently overlooked American geopolitical ambitions, slavery, and devastation visited on native Americans. It also overlooked imperial maneuvers in the Western Hemisphere and the ideologically driven foreign policy of the Cold War era that brought death, destruction, and despair to many distant lands, while keeping a dying European colonialism alive for many years by deferring to the warped logic of the Cold War.

 

Finally, I believe that the agenda of resistance to Trumpism includes a defense of the United Nations, and what its Charter proposes for the peoples of the world. We need a greatly empowered UN, not an erased UN.

Posted in UN0 Comments

Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk

KEEP SHOAH UP AND RUNNING

March 2017
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031