Archive | October 16th, 2017

Right-wing Nazi Jewish rampage through Jerusalem’s Old City

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Right-wing Israelis rampage through Jerusalem’s Old City

 

 

A Palestinian was hospitalized after hundreds of Israelis rampaged through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday night.

The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that the mob “marched through the Old City from the Western Wall towards the Muslim Quarter, allegedly shouting, beating the doors of houses and shops, throwing rocks and smashing car windows.”

The Israelis attacked an open shop and assaulted its Palestinian owner, who was treated at a hospital overnight for his injuries.

The paper added that about 20 police officers arrived to the scene and escorted the mob outside the Old City, making no arrests.

Police said that a shop was damaged, as well as several vehicles.

Photos of the scene were published by the Quds news outlet:

Police leniency

The leniency shown by police towards the violent mob stands in stark contrast to the brutal force police used against Palestinians who held peaceful demonstrations in Jerusalem’s streets during the closure of al-Aqsa mosque compound this summer.

Louis Zorba, a resident of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, observed the blatant double standard to Haaretz, stating: “I told the officers that if it were Palestinians who were rioting, they would have sent for reinforcements, and probably shot tear gas and stun grenades.”

The riot came on the eve of a Jewish festival marking the Sukkot holiday, and amid Israeli police giving a longer leash to right-wing extremists who seek Jewish control over the al-Aqsa mosque compound, which Jews call Temple Mount.

The Ma’an News Agency, a Palestinian outlet, reported that the rioting Israelis threw rocks and chairs at Palestinian property under police guard.

Israeli forces also closed streets in Silwan, a Palestinian neighborhood outside the Old City, so that settlers could access the al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Hundreds of right-wing Israelis have visited the compound under the protection of Israeli occupation forces since the beginning of the week-long Sukkot holiday.

Some Israelis who came to the holy site on Thursday wore T-shirts with imagery of the Jewish temple bearing calls for the restoration of religious and sacrificial services at the site of al-Aqsa:

Image result for JEWISH SETTLER CARTOON

 

“Two thousand years of mourning,” one T-shirt reads. “We’re stopping the crying and starting to build.”

Temple Movement provocations

The Islamic Waqf endowment which administers the holy site told media that Israelis have performed prayers and religious rites at the compound, “in violation of a longstanding agreement between Israel and the endowment preventing non-Muslim prayer in al-Aqsa,” Ma’an reported.

Temple Movement activists held a religious ceremony very near the al-Aqsa compound for the first time on Sunday, in what Haaretzdescribed as “a warming of relations between Orthodox Jewish activists and the police.”

The paper added that police were now allowing groups of hundreds of Jews to visit the al-Aqsa mosque compound, “whereas in the past they restricted groups to 15 people each. Security checks are now much quicker as well.”

A Temple Movement activist told Haaretz that police have normalized the movement: “Today they treat people going up to the Mount as Jews fulfilling a religious need and needing to receive a service. They’re not seen as a nuisance.”

The Israeli group Ir Amim states that Temple Movement groups’ “increasing power within the Israeli right-wing establishment … has bolstered their political ascent.” Temple Movement groups receive government funding and the “active support” of several members of parliament.

Prominent Israeli clerics and politicians have increasingly voiced support for the Temple Movement and some of its activists’ goal of destroying al-Aqsa mosque and replacing it with a Jewish temple.

Ir Amim warns of a potential eruption of violence in Jerusalem as record numbers of Temple Movement activists go to the mosque compound during Jewish holidays.

Unchecked Israeli assaults and incursions at al-Aqsa set off a new phase of violence in October 2015; in the year that followed more than 250 Palestinians and a Jordanian national were killed by Israeli forces and armed civilians, and 35 Israelis were killed by Palestinians.

Though the rate of casualties has subsided since – 58 Palestinians have died by Israeli fire so far this year, while 15 Israelis and a British national were killed by Palestinians – the Israeli provocation has not.

Palestinians barred from Ibrahimi mosque

Israel imposed an unprecedented 11-day general closure on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the Jewish holiday.

Occupation authorities also barred Palestinian worshippers from accessing Hebron’s Ibrahimi mosque during Sukkot so that the site – revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims alike – may be visited by Jews only.

The mosque was partitioned by Israel following the massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers by an American Jewish settler at the site in 1994.

The city itself has been partitioned, with an area of Hebron including the Old City and Ibrahimi mosque under full Israeli military control. In that area Israeli occupation forces severely restrict the movement of more than 30,000 Palestinians while Jewish settlers move about freely under army protection.

The former bustling heart of Hebron’s Old City has been turned into a ghost town as Palestinians have been forced from their homes and businesses, and hostile Jewish settlers have moved in.

Many Palestinians view Israeli measures at al-Aqsa as part of an effort to erase all Palestinian life in Jerusalem as is underway in Hebron.

Meanwhile, in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, several Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces earlier this week as soldiers escorted hundreds of Jewish settlers to Joseph’s Tomb.

“According to [Palestinian security] sources, more than 30 Israeli buses carried settlers into Joseph’s Tomb under strict security by Israeli forces late Tuesday night until the early morning hours of Wednesday,” Ma’an News Agency reported.

“Locals said that during the raid, Israeli soldiers entered several homes in the area and took over the roofs of buildings,” Ma’an added.

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Palestinian Children Behind Nazi Bars

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Nazi regime opposed to any Palestinian reconciliation with Hamas ‘mass murderers’ 

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Naziyahu

 

NaziPrime Minister Benjamin Naziyahu has lashed out against the reconciliation deal reached between rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, claiming that peace between the Nazi regime and Zionist puppet Ab-A$$ will now be “much harder to achieve.”

“There is nothing we want more than peace with all our neighbors, but reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas makes this peace much more difficult to achieve,” Naziyahu said in a statement published on his official Hebrew and English Facebook accounts.

Palestine’s civil discord started in 2007 when Hamas won the elections and obtained power in Gaza while the West Bank territories fell under Fatah’s control. Since then, all attempts to reconcile the two groups and form a Palestinian power-sharing government have stalled.

In 2014, the rival faction managed to briefly negotiate a deal, which also angered the Nazi regime swiftly suspended US-sponsored peace talks with the Palestinians, refusing to deal with Hamas, which the Nazi regime considers a terrorist organization with the sole aim of destroying the Nazi State.

On Thursday, after intense negotiations, Hamas and Fatah reached a new reconciliation deal, which the Nazi regime once again immediately rejected.

“Israel is opposed to any form of reconciliation in which the terrorist organization of Hamas does not disarm and does not stop fighting for the destruction of Israel,” Naziyahu said.

Nazi PM said, will never accept Hamas’ strive to destroy Israel and will not deal with an organization that “advocates genocide” and launches “thousands” of rockets and tunnel incursions into ‘Israel’.

Naziyahu also accused Hamas of murdering children, oppressing the LGBT community and holding Zionist hostage. He believes Hamas is also guilty of “mourning” the death of former Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, as well as “torturing” the opposition.

“Reconciliation with mass murderers makes you part of the problem and not the solution,” Naziyahu wrote. “Say yes to peace and not to collaboration with Hamas.”

While the Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas reached a preliminary reconciliation agreement that the parties hope to implement in stages, they still seek to work out differences.

According to the agreement, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is to assume all governing rolls in Gaza no later than December 1. The PA will also take over the responsibility for Gaza’s border crossings no later than November 1. Yet the key issues such as the fate of Hamas’ military wing and wider political strategies are to be discussed at a later date, Haaretz reported.

Palestinian unity is necessary in order to have meaningful discussions with the Nazi regime on a two-state solution. Yet Nazi regime refuses to have militant Hamas be part of the government. Before any two-state solution negotiations can resume, Nazi regime advised the Palestinians to disarm Hamas and force the organization to honor international law.

“Any reconciliation between [Hamas and Fatah] must include honoring [international] agreements [and] Quartet conditions, firstly [by] recognizing Israel [and] disarming Hamas,” spokesperson to the Arab media in the Nazi Prime Minister’s Office, Ofir Gendelman‏, tweeted. He added that digging tunnels, manufacturing missiles and initiating terror attacks are “incompatible” Quartet conditions and US efforts to renew the Middle East peace process.

Nazi spokesman called on Fatah to assume responsibility for any militant action in Gaza, after a PA takeover of the region in December.

“The PA mustn’t allow any base whatsoever for Hamas terrorist actions from PA areas or from Gaza,” Nazi Ofir tweeted. “As long as Hamas does not disarm [and] continues to call for our destruction, Israel holds it responsible for all terrorism originating in Gaza.”

Hamas’ original charter in 1988 called for the reclaiming of all of Mandatory Palestine, which includes present-day Nazi state. The PA instead has been trying to negotiate the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

Reconciliation efforts between Palestinians and the the Nazi regime have been supervised by the so-called Middle East Quartet – comprising the UN, Russia, the United States and the European Union – which advocates a two-state solution along the 1967 divide.

As long as the reconciliation process between the rival Palestinian faction proceeds, Nazi regime will do all in its power to sabotage the process, political commentator Doctor Asa’ad Abusharekh from Gaza has told RT.

“Israel wants to see the Palestinian people all the time divided. I think Israel will try to torpedo and sabotage this reconciliation,” Abusharekh said. “We do not expect Israel to lift the siege of Gaza. Israel will probably put more obstacles simply because Israel is wary about this agreement.”

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What Is Behind the Hamas-Fatah Reconciliation?

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Image result for Hamas-Fatah CARTOON

By Ramzy Baroud

Update – Hamas, Fatah sign reconciliation agreement in Cairo

October 12, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  Egypt’s enthusiasm to arbitrate between feuding Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, is not the outcome of a sudden awakening of conscience. Cairo has, in fact, played a destructive role in manipulating Palestinian division to its favor, while keeping the Rafah border crossing under lock and key.

However, the Egyptian leadership is clearly operating in coordination with Israel and the United States. While the language emanating from Tel Aviv and Washington is quite guarded regarding the ongoing talks between the two Palestinian parties, if read carefully, their political discourse is not entirely dismissive of the possibility of having Hamas join a unity government under Mahmoud Abbas’ direction.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comments in early October validate this assertion. He did not categorically reject a Hamas-Fatah government, but demanded, according to the Times of Israel, that “any future Palestinian government must disband the terror organization’s (Hamas’) armed wing, sever all ties with Iran and recognize the State of Israel.”

Egyptian President, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, too, would like to see a weaker Hamas, a marginalized Iran and an agreement that puts Egypt back at the center of Middle East diplomacy.

Under the auspices of the Egyptian dictator, Egypt’s once central role in the region’s affairs has faded into a marginal one.

But the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation is giving el-Sisi a window of opportunity to rebrand his country’s image which has, in recent years, been tarnished by brutal crackdowns on his country’s opposition and his miscalculated military interventions in Libya, Yemen and elsewhere.

In September, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly conference in New York, el-Sisi met Netanyahu publicly for the first time. The exact nature of their talks was never fully revealed, although media reports pointed that the Egyptian leader has attempted to sway Netanyahu into accepting a Hamas-Fatah unity deal.

In his speech at the UNGA, el-Sisi also made a passionate, impromptu appeal for peace. He spoke of an ‘opportunity’ that must be used to achieve the coveted Middle East peace agreement and called on US President Donald Trump to “write a new page of history of mankind” by taking advantage of that supposed opportunity.

It is difficult to imagine that el-Sisi, with limited influence and sway over Israel and the US, is capable of, single-handedly, creating the needed political environment for reconciliation between Palestinian factions.

Several such attempts have been tried, but failed in the past, most notably in 2011 and in 2014. As early as 2006, though, the George W. Bush Administration forbade any such reconciliation, using threats and withholding of funds to ensure Palestinians remained divided. The Barack Obama Administration followed suit, ensuring Gaza’s isolation and Palestinian division, while it also supported Israel’s policies in this regard.

Unlike previous administrations, Donald Trump has kept expectations regarding the brokering of a peace agreement low. However, from the outset, he took Israel’s side, promised to relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and appointed a hardliner, David Friedman, a Zionist par-excellence, as US ambassador to Israel.

No doubt, last June, Trump signed a temporary order to keep the US embassy in Tel Aviv, disappointing many of his pro-Israel fans, but the move is by no means an indication of a serious change of policies.

“I want to give that (a plan for peace) a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem,”Trump said in a televised interview recently. “If we can make peace between the Palestinians and Israel, I think it’ll lead to ultimate peace in the Middle East, which has to happen.”

Judging by historical precedents, it is quite obvious that Israel and the US have given a green light to Palestinian reconciliation with a clear objective in mind. For its part, Israel wants to see Hamas break away from Iran and abandon armed resistance, while the US wants to get ‘a shot’ at playing politics in the region, with Israeli interests being paramount to any outcome.

Egypt, being the recipient of generous US military aid, is the natural conduit to guide the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation component of the new strategy.

What strongly suggests that powerful players are behind the reconciliation efforts is how smooth the entire process has been so far, in complete contrast with years of failed efforts and repeated agreements with disappointing outcomes.

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What primarily seemed like another futile round of talks hosted by Egypt, was soon followed by more: first, an initial understanding, followed by a Hamas agreement to dissolve its administrative committee that it formed to manage Gaza’s affairs; then, a successful visit by the National Consensus Government to Gaza and, finally, an endorsement of the terms of national reconciliation by the two most powerful Fatah bodies: The Fatah Revolutionary Council and the Central Committee.

Since Fatah controls the Palestinian Authority (PA), the latter endorsement advocated by Mahmoud Abbas was an important milestone needed to push the process forward, as both Hamas and Fatah readied themselves for more consequential talks in Cairo.

Unlike previous agreements, the current one will allow Hamas to actively participate in the new unity government. Top Hamas official, Salah Bardawil confirmed this in a statement. However, Bardawil also insisted that Hamas will not lay down its arms, and resistance to Israel is not negotiable.

US-Israel-Egyptian power play aside, this is, indeed, the crux of the matter. Understandably, Palestinians are keen to achieve national unity, but that unity must be predicated on principles that are far more important than the self-serving interests of political parties.

Moreover, speaking of – or even achieving – unity without addressing the travesties of the past, and without agreeing on a national liberation strategy for the future in which resistance is the foundation, the Hamas-Fatah unity government will prove as insignificant as all other governments, which operated with no real sovereignty and, at best, questionable popular mandates.

Worse still, if the unity is guided by tacit US support, an Israeli nod and an Egyptian self-serving agenda, one can expect that the outcome would be the furthest possible one from the true aspirations of the Palestinian people, who remain unimpressed by the imprudence of their leaders.

While Israel invested years in maintaining the Palestinian rift, Palestinian factions remained blinded by pitiful personal interests and worthless “control” over a militarily occupied land.

It should be made clear that any unity agreement that pays heed to the interest of factions at the expense of the collective good of the Palestinian people is a sham; even if it initially ‘succeeds’, in the long term it will fail, since Palestine is bigger than any individual, faction or a regional power seeking Israel’s validation and US handouts.

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What are the Geneva Conventions?

Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (Article 60)

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The Geneva Conventions are a series of treaties the military must abide by in times of war. They were initially implemented by the International Committee for Relief to the Wounded (which later became the International Committee for the Red Cross and Red Crescent), to protect soldiers no longer engaged in combat, such as the sick and wounded, shipwrecked members of armed forces at sea, prisoners of war, and civilians.

Held in Geneva, the 1949 conventions and the two additional protocols in 1977 form the basis for international humanitarian law in times of war.

The Treatment of Prisoners of War (Article 60)

Article 60 of the Geneva Convention pertains to payment for POWs. It says:

The Detaining Power shall grant all prisoners of war a monthly advance of pay, the amount of which shall be fixed by conversion, into the currency of the said Power, of the following amounts:

Category I: Prisoners ranking below sergeant: eight Swiss francs.

Category II: Sergeants and other non-commissioned officers, or prisoners of equivalent rank: twelve Swiss francs.

Category III: Warrant officers and commissioned officers below the rank of major or prisoners of equivalent rank: fifty Swiss francs.

Category IV: Majors, lieutenant-colonels, colonels or prisoners of equivalent rank: sixty Swiss francs.

Category V: General officers or prisoners of equivalent rank: seventy-five Swiss francs.

However, the Parties to the conflict concerned may by special agreement modify the amount of advances of pay due to prisoners of the preceding categories.

Furthermore, if the amounts indicated in the first paragraph above would be unduly high compared with the pay of the Detaining Power’s armed forces or would, for any reason, seriously embarrass the Detaining Power, then, pending the conclusion of a special agreement with the Power on which the prisoners depend to vary the amounts indicated above, the Detaining Power:

(a) Shall continue to credit the accounts of the prisoners with the amounts indicated in the first paragraph above;

(b) May temporarily limit the amount made available from these advances of pay to prisoners of war for their own use, to sums which are reasonable, but which, for Category I, shall never be inferior to the amount that the Detaining Power gives to the members of its own armed forces.

The reasons for any limitations will be given without delay to the Protecting Power.

Are the Geneva Conventions Still Followed Today?

While the treaties put in place by the Geneva Conventions are still in effect today, there has been some criticism in recent years that they should be updated. The most daunting question is whether the humanitarian rights put into effect by the Geneva Conventions for POWs should pertain to terrorists or suspected terrorists.

World leaders have questioned whether these rules, written after World War II and updated after the Vietnam War, apply to conflicts of today? And, if so, how can they be enforced more effectively? Also, can they be revised to address new threats, such as acts of terrorism?

More About the U.S. Military & Rules of War

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In blocking arms to Yemen, Saudi Zio-Wahhabi squeezes a starving population

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In blocking arms to Yemen, Saudi Arabia squeezes a starving population

A FAMISHED NATION: A mother holds her undernourished four-year-old daughter at al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, in April. The country is on the brink of famine, says the United Nations. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah.

Saudi Arabia and its allies want to cut off the flow of weapons to Houthi fighters in Yemen. But with cholera spreading and famine looming, essential supplies are not getting through either.

DJIBOUTI – Late last year, the Kota Nazar, a Singaporean ship with 636 containers of steel, paper, medicine and other goods, set sail to Hodeida, the largest cargo port in war-torn Yemen.

It never got there. Like dozens of other ships carrying food and supplies to Yemen over the past 30 months, the Kota Nazar was stopped by a Saudi Arabian warship blocking Yemen’s ports on the Red Sea.

Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have been stationing naval forces in and around Yemeni waters since 2015. Western governments approved the show of military force as a way to stop arms reaching Houthi fighters trying to overthrow Yemen’s internationally recognized government.

The de facto blockade is exacting a dire humanitarian toll. The Saudi-led coalition’s ships are preventing essential supplies from entering Yemen, even in cases where vessels are carrying no weapons, according to previously unreported port records, a confidential United Nations report and interviews with humanitarian agencies and shipping lines.

A U.N. system set up in May 2016 to ease delivery of commercial goods through the blockade has failed to ensure the Yemeni people get the supplies they need.

The result is the effective isolation of Yemen, a nation of 28 million people where a quarter of the population is starving, according to the United Nations. The war has claimed 10,000 lives. Half a million children under the age of five are severely malnourished, and at least 2,135 people, most of them children, have died of cholera in the past six months.

Aid agencies have ramped up their deliveries of food to some parts of Yemen this year. But Yemen imports more than 85 percent of its food and medicine, and commercial shipments have plunged. In the first eight months of this year, only 21 container ships sailed to Hodeida, according to port data compiled by the U.N. World Food Programme and Reuters. By comparison, 54 container ships delivered twice the volume of goods in the same period last year. Before the war, 129 container ships reached the port in the first eight months of 2014.

Food and medicine are being choked off. No commercial shipment of pharmaceuticals has made its way to Hodeida since a Saudi-led airstrike destroyed the port’s industrial cranes in August 2015, according to the administrator of the port, which is under Houthi control. In at least one case this year, a blocked commercial shipment contained humanitarian aid as well.

Representatives of the Houthi movement could not be reached for comment.

Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, the Saudi ambassador to the U.N., denied last week that the coalition was blocking commercial shipments of food, medicine and fuel. Mouallimi said Yemen was receiving humanitarian aid.

“I can assure you that no shipment of humanitarian aid is being prevented from reaching Yemen by the coalition or for that matter by the Yemeni government. We have given clearance to all such requests for docking by any ship that carries humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen.

“We are the largest contributor of aid to the people of Yemen so it doesn’t make sense for us to, on the one hand, be providing that aid and, on the other hand, be blocking it somewhere else.”

In the cases of the Kota Nazar and 12 other ships examined in detail by Reuters, the Saudi-led blockade turned away or severely delayed vessels carrying aid and commercial goods before they reached Yemeni ports even though the United Nations had cleared the cargo and there were no arms aboard. Seven of those vessels were carrying medicine and food in addition to other supplies.

Aid shipments are caught in the net. One of the seven vessels was carrying antibiotics, surgical equipment and medication for cholera and malaria for 300,000 people. The shipment was held up for three months, during which $20,000 worth of medicine was damaged or expired, according to U.K.-based aid group Save the Children.

In July, four oil tankers carrying 71,000 tonnes of fuel, equivalent to 10 percent of Yemen’s monthly fuel needs, were denied entry. Two were allowed in after five weeks, port records show.

In a report published last month, Human Rights Watch said that the Saudi-led coalition “arbitrarily diverted or delayed” seven fuel tankers headed to Houthi-controlled ports between May and September this year. In one case, a vessel was held in a Saudi port for more than five months, the group said.

Early this summer, Yemen’s internationally recognized government notified the United Nations that it had closed a rebel-held oil port due to its “illegal status” and “damage to the marine environment.”

The government is also diverting all vessels carrying cement and iron to the Yemeni port of Aden, which is under its control, according to the U.N.

As a result of the blockade, there have been no commercial flights to Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, since last summer. And two of the world’s biggest container shipping lines — Swiss-based MSC and Singapore-based PIL — stopped sailing to Houthi-held ports in early 2017, because of the delays and dangers involved. PIL has not yet resumed services.

“If we end the war, we will end the starvation.”

David Beasely, World Food Programme’s executive director

In a confidential report submitted to the Security Council in April, U.N. investigators detailed many of the delays ships have faced getting through the blockade. In one case, a shipping company’s vessels waited 396 days to dock at Hodeida, incurring $5.5 million in fuel and refrigeration costs. The U.N. report also said that the coalition of Saudi Arabia and its allies takes an average of 10 days to grant vessels permission to dock at Hodeida even when the vessels are not delayed.

The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which oversees the U.N.’s clearance system, disputed the World Food Programme’s and Reuters’ count of container cargo delivered to Hodeida port.

In a statement to Reuters, UNOPS said its system, called the U.N. Verification and Inspection Mechanism for Yemen (UNVIM), has cleared vessels to deliver nearly 10 million tonnes of food, fuel and general cargo to Yemen over the past 16 months. UNOPS did not provide evidence for the figure. It also did not specify how many of the ships it cleared were later stopped, delayed or rerouted by the Saudi-led coalition. UNOPS also said that events that transpire in international waters are beyond its remit.

“UNVIM has contributed to meeting the challenges of the current humanitarian crisis as much as possible by making basic commodities available in the Yemeni market,” the U.N. said in a statement.

In at least two private correspondences with U.N. member states and aid agencies this year, UNVIM officials voiced frustration that the Saudi-led coalition stopped or delayed vessels they had cleared. One internal UNVIM report from March said the coalition had delayed six vessels, which were later granted access “after continuous liaison and effort.”

The Saudi coalition isn’t the sole reason for the plunge in imports to Yemen. Foreign banks have cut credit lines to businesses because of concerns about being repaid and difficulties with processing transactions. The Yemeni central bank’s activities have been paralyzed over a tussle between the internationally recognized government and the Houthi fighters.

It is difficult to assess precisely the cumulative commercial and humanitarian effects of the blockade on Yemen. Many parts of the country are inaccessible to relief groups and reporters. Yet the U.N. has warned for more than two years that Yemen is a step away from famine. The World Food Programme estimates that the number of people needing aid has risen to 20 million this year, or more than two-thirds of the population, compared with 17 million in 2016.

Yemen is starving because it is a battleground in a political struggle in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia and its allies entered the war in Yemen to counter Houthi fighters, a Shi’ite group backed by Iran.

Western nations, at odds with Tehran over its nuclear program, supported the Saudi-led intervention by helping coordinate airstrikes and refueling Saudi warplanes. The U.N. Security Council effectively supported Riyadh by imposing an arms embargo on the Houthi fighters; it said Yemen-bound vessels could be inspected if there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect they were carrying arms.

KEEPING WATCH: A Saudi border guard on patrol in the Red Sea on Saudi Arabia’s maritime border with Yemen in April 2015. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

Riyadh has never formally drawn a line beyond which ships are not allowed to sail. It has not published a list of goods and materials covered by its restrictions. But it says it has the right “to take all appropriate measures to counter the threats” from Iran-backed rebels. A senior official with Iran’s foreign ministry denied allegations that his country provides financial and military support for Houthis in Yemen.

“Yemen is a catastrophic case. It is the man-made conflict that is driving hunger and driving the conditions for famine. Simple as that,” said David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme. “If we end the war, we will end the starvation.”

Some in the United States are beginning to criticize the blockade. Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana, a member of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, said Saudi Arabia might be violating humanitarian laws because it has impeded the flow of needed goods to Yemen.

“I do not suggest that the Saudis share all of the blame for this,” he said, referring to the nine countries in the Saudi-led coalition. “But they share a significant portion of it.”

EARLY WARNINGS

International aid groups grew concerned about the effects of the Saudi blockade in early 2015, shortly after the Saudi-led coalition, which includes the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Senegal, entered Yemen’s civil war. Container shipments to Hodeida in 2015 fell to about 40 percent of their pre-war volume.

That summer, the U.N. issued the first of its many warnings that famine was possible in Yemen. Behind the scenes, the U.N. tried to convince Riyadh and its allies to let it inspect ships.

In early September 2015, the U.N. said it had reached a deal with the Yemeni government and the coalition to set up an inspection system that would facilitate the passage of goods to Yemen. The system, UNVIM, would be headquartered in Djibouti, the U.N. said. It took eight more months to secure the $8 million it needed to start operations.

When UNVIM was started in May 2016, its stated goal was “to restore trust among the shipping community” that there would be no unexpected and costly delays to shipments headed for Yemen.

Since then, all commercial vessels sailing to Yemen’s Houthi-held ports have had to submit an application to the U.N., complete with their cargo manifests and lists of their last ports of call. The U.N. reviews the applications and checks if the vessels have called at suspect ports or have turned off their transponders for more than a few hours – a common trick of smugglers seeking to avoid tracking. Occasionally, UNVIM’s contractors inspect the vessels.

UNVIM does not verify or inspect aid shipments unless they are mingled with commercial goods. Vessels fully chartered by aid agencies go through a different process: They directly obtain sailing rights from Riyadh. Nonetheless, a significant proportion of aid must make its way to Yemen aboard commercial vessels.

In the last 16 months, UNVIM has processed 685 clearances and granted vessels the right to sail to Houthi-held ports about 80 percent of the time. These vessels delivered nearly 5 million tonnes of food, 2 million tonnes of fuel and 2.5 million tonnes of general cargo, the U.N. told Reuters.

But even after the U.N. grants clearances, all commercial ships have to get approval from a Saudi-managed warship stationed 61 km west of Hodeida port.

This has proven difficult. Because the vessels are anchored in international waters, UNVIM can only coordinate with regional parties, including the coalition, to facilitate vessels’ access to the ports, the U.N. said in its statement. The rest of the process is up to local port authorities, it said.

SUSPICIONS

The Kota Nazar, for example, had obtained U.N. clearance to sail to Hodeida in late December. But naval officers from the Saudi warship stopped and boarded it.

The officers suspected that the ship carried concealed Iranian arms destined for the Houthi fighters. They ordered the Kota Nazar back to Djibouti, its previous stop. There, the vessel’s crew offloaded 62 containers the coalition deemed suspicious, allowing the ship to set sail again for Hodeida in January.

Then the Saudi-led coalition insisted on another inspection. Three days later, the U.N. ordered the vessel to sail to Jizan, Saudi Arabia. In Jizan, local authorities and two U.N. inspectors offloaded every container aboard the vessel and X-rayed them. They held back 27 containers with cargo they said could be used in the Yemeni military conflict. The contents included bullet-cartridge belts, as well as iron pipes, welding electrodes, motorcycle parts and other manufactured goods.

In Djibouti, U.N. and local officials searched the containers the ship had left behind. They found rolled steel in nearly half of the containers and printing paper in others. Two containers carried refrigerated medicine that came from one of Iran’s biggest cargo ports, Bandar Abbas.

The inspectors also found traces of high-grade explosives in one container of printing paper that came from Jakarta, Indonesia, according to U.N. officials in Yemen. However, the search did not turn up any explosives.

Experts say false positives are common during routine inspections for explosives. PIL, the Singapore-based shipping line that owns the Kota Nazar, said it does not discuss commercial operations.

In the end, the Kota Nazar could not obtain clearance to sail to Hodeida. It sailed instead to Aden, a southern port under the government’s control. Aid and commercial cargo that land in Aden must cross hundreds of checkpoints on the road north to Houthi-held regions, a dangerous and expensive journey.

After that incident, PIL cancelled all future voyages to Hodeida and other Houthi-held ports in the Red Sea.

Other shipments have been blocked, although they contained no arms. Earlier this year, the coalition turned back four cranes the United States donated to the World Food Programme to boost aid operations at Hodeida port. The cranes would have replaced parts of the port’s infrastructure destroyed by coalition airstrikes in August 2015.

In January, the WFP sent the cranes on a ship to Hodeida. But the Saudi-led coalition revoked the clearance it had issued earlier that month and blocked the vessel. The ship waited at sea for 10 days before eventually sailing back to Dubai, where the cranes remain.

The WFP says the coalition did not provide a clear reason for turning back the cranes.

In April, a coalition spokesman told the BBC the cranes were blocked “because we don’t want to continue to enhance the capabilities of the Houthis to generate money and to smuggle” weapons.

In August, Saudi Arabia’s mission to the United Nations said it would install cranes at three ports under the internationally recognized government’s control, citing Yemen’s “deteriorating humanitarian situation.”

Last week, Mouallimi, the Saudi ambassador to the U.N., said Saudi Arabia had offered equipment to increase the capacity of Yemeni ports other than Hodeida, saying that the Houthis used revenue from Hodeida to buy arms rather than fight cholera.

Mouallimi was speaking after the U.N. this month blacklisted the Saudi-led military coalition for killing and injuring 683 children in Yemen and attacking dozens of schools and hospitals in 2016. The blacklist also named the Houthi movement, Yemen government forces, pro-government militia and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for violations against children in 2016.

The world’s second-biggest container shipping line, Swiss-based MSC, has also faced challenges with its journeys. One of MSC’s vessels, the Himanshi, was delayed for two months in summer 2016 when it attempted to sail to Hodeida, according to the WFP and the unpublished U.N. report. The Himanshi was carrying 722 containers of goods, of which 93 held food and other aid cargo.

The coalition held back the vessel in the Red Sea for 13 days until the U.N. directed it to the King Abdullah Port in Saudi Arabia. Inspectors there found fireworks in a few containers, according to the U.N. report. The coalition never clarified the grounds for the inspection, and the vessel didn’t reach Hodeida until early September.

“A lot of the cargo we carry in this region has a limited shelf life. For example, foodstuffs and chilled or frozen food,” an MSC spokesperson said.

“MSC continues to closely monitor the ease of access to the port of Hodeida, which has been inadequately served in recent months due to lengthy and sometimes unpredictable delays from cargo inspections.”

MSC stopped sailing to the Red Sea ports for eight months this year. It said in August that it was resuming services to Hodeida at the request of customers, including U.N. agencies and private importers.

Civilians continue to feel the blockade’s chokehold.

Ali Shoui, a 38-year-old father of four, said he fled from a rebel-held northern province when he could not feed his children. The price of a bag of flour doubled after the blockade, he said, and pharmacies ran out of stock. Doctors who worked at the nearby hospital left because they had not been paid for a year. Fuel merchants stopped supplying the area after they were targeted by airstrikes.

“People are no longer able to buy food,” Shoui said. “The situation is really terrifying.”

Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Ankara and Michelle Nichols in New York

Posted in Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on In blocking arms to Yemen, Saudi Zio-Wahhabi squeezes a starving population

Congress, End America’s Role In Saudi Arabia’s War On Yemen

NOVANEWS

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By Lawrence Wilkerson and Gareth Porter

October 12, 2017 “Information Clearing House” –  The Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen is a tragedy of epic proportions in which the United States is deeply and directly involved.  The war has caused mass starvation and a cholera epidemic that is worse than any the world has witnessed in the past 50 years, with the latest estimate of Yemeni victims at well over half a million.

This horrific situation is the result of Saudi/UAE bombing of roads, hospitals, bridges, water and sewage facilities, and the main port of Hodeida combined with a Saudi/UAE naval and air blockade that prevents large-scale humanitarian assistance from reaching the Yemeni war victims.

The Saudi/UAE coalition could not execute the war without U.S. direct involvement — specifically the refueling of their planes carrying out the bombing — and the further assistance of providing bombs and targeting intelligence.

Even apart from the need to halt this growing humanitarian disaster, Congress has a Constitutional obligation to deal with U.S. participation in this war. Flatly stated, U.S. participation is illegal.

When President Barack Obama ordered U.S. involvement, the Saudi-led war was not covered by the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) issued by Congress in the wake of 9/11.  The Houthis and the forces of former Yemeni president Saleh against whom the Saudi coalition is engaged are not affiliated with al Qaeda or any other entity associated with the 9/11 terror attacks.  

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That is why a bipartisan group of House members — Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.)—have introduced H. Con. Res. 81, giving Congress an opportunity to end U.S. support. The resolution instructs the president to withdraw U.S. military personnel from the war — except the U.S. military elements that are strictly aimed at al-Qaeda elements in Yemen.

Even if House members are indifferent to the fact that Congress did not authorize U.S. support for the war, they should take account of the fact that such support has increased the security threat to all Americans.  The Saudi-led war in Yemen, enabled by U.S. support, has strengthened America’s most dangerous enemies in the Middle East — al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism officials have regarded AQAP as even more of a foreign terrorist threat to the United States than ISIS.  It mounted efforts to bring down U.S. airlines three times between 2009 and 2012, and nearly succeeded twice.  But the Saudi/UAE war in Yemen has made them the most powerful indigenous armed group in southern Yemen, with more money, arms and territorial control than ever before. The Saudi-led coalition and the forces of the Saudi backed former regime have allied openly with AQAP and even fought alongside them.  As a result of the war AQAP is now poised for the first time to compete for national power In Yemen.

The war is also increasing anti-American sentiment in Yemen.  As Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) has pointed out, Yemenis believe the war is being waged by the U.S., not by the Saudi/UAE coalition, which they view as a U.S. proxy. “(W)e are helping to radicalize the Yemeni population against the United States,” Murphy warns.

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Some Members of Congress refuse to support H. Con. Res. 81 because they accept the official rationale for U.S. involvement in the war created by the Obama administration. They argue that the United States has no choice but to support the Saudi-led war because it is necessary to oppose an expansionist Iran. But it is widely recognized that the Houthis are not Iranian proxies; they pursue their own interests and strategy.  

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Before the war began, in fact, U.S. intelligence learned that Iran had advised the Houthis against seizing power by force in Sanaa in 2014 but the Houthis ignored the advice and had instead responded to encouragement from their erstwhile foe, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.  

The Obama administration promoted the idea that Iran had been supplying arms to the Houthis by sea for years before the war started.  But that argument was based on old recycled claims by the Yemeni government that were contradicted by the publicly available evidence.  After seizing power in 2014, the Houthis did obtain a bonanza of arms, but it wasn’t from Iran; it was from U.S.-supplied arms held by the Yemeni Army units still loyal to Saleh.

Although some Iranian arms have certainly reached Yemen, a careful assessment by a UN panel of experts on Yemen in January 2017 was unable to confirm “any direct large-scale supply of arms” from Iran to the Houthis.  And whatever Iranian arms that were supplied were not the cause of the Saudi/UAE attack on Yemen; they were a response to the beginning of the Saudi air assault.  

U.S. fealty to Saudi Arabia has worsened the chaos and suffering sweeping across the Middle East. It’s time to break with such destabilizing policies that threaten fundamental U.S. security interests.  By passing H. Con. Res. 81 the House of Representatives can reduce threats to U.S. security, assert the power of Congress to authorize U.S. participation in wars of choice and end the infliction of massive starvation and cholera on the Yemeni population.

Posted in USA, Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on Congress, End America’s Role In Saudi Arabia’s War On Yemen

Yemen war ‘unconstitutional,’ says trio of US lawmakers

NOVANEWS
Yemen war ‘unconstitutional,’ says trio of US lawmakers
A group of Congressmen from both major parties is hoping to force a vote over Washington’s involvement in Yemen, with a resolution invoking the War Powers Act to force the US to stop aiding the Saudi-led coalition in its bombing campaign.

Three members of the US House of Representatives tried to illustrate the horrors of the Yemen conflict by comparing it to a hypothetical war affecting the US state of Washington ‒ with a population of 7.3 million ‒ “on the brink of starvation, with the port city of Seattle under a naval and aerial blockade, leaving it unable to receive and distribute countless tons of food and aid that is waiting offshore.”

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FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a building destroyed in Yemen's southwestern city of Taiz. © Anees Mahyoub

“This nightmare scenario is akin to the obscene reality occurring in the Middle East’s poorest country, Yemen, at the hand of the region’s richest, Saudi Arabia, with unyielding support from the US military that Congress has not authorized and therefore violates the Constitution,” wrote Representatives Ro Khanna (D-California), Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) and Walter Jones (R-North Carolina) in a New York Times op-ed Tuesday.

In March 2015, the Obama administration began aiding the coalition led by Saudi Arabia in its war against the Houthis, a rebel group that took control of Yemen’s capital Sanaa. Since then, Washington has supported the coalition’s military campaign in Yemen, by providing the Saudis with logistical support, intelligence and ammunition used in airstrikes.

This has led to the deaths of over 10,000 civilians and has plunged much of Yemen into a humanitarian crisis.

The three lawmakers teamed up with colleague Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) to introduce House Resolution 81, invoking the War Powers Act to guarantee a full House vote to withdraw US armed forces from the unauthorized war.

“We believe that the American people, if presented with the facts of this conflict, will oppose the use of their tax dollars to bomb and starve civilians,” the three representatives wrote.

Several more lawmakers have expressed support for the proposal as well.

Good morning. Good news on the Yemen debate in Congress. (1/x)

5 more Members of Congress are backing the bill to end US involvement in ‘s  War. ().

Here’s who they are:

Under the 1973 law, any proposed Congressional resolution regarding an unauthorized use of force is considered a priority, meaning that the foreign affairs committee must report on it within fifteen days and a vote must be held within three days thereafter.

“It will sit with the Foreign Affairs Committee for 15 calendar days and will then be discharged for consideration by the full House. At that point, any member of Congress can call the resolution up for a debate and floor vote,” Kate Khizer, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Yemen Peace Project told The Intercept.

Posted in Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on Yemen war ‘unconstitutional,’ says trio of US lawmakers

So You’ve Decided To Boycott Google

NOVANEWS

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You’ve decided to boycott Google? Congratulations! That’s a great idea! But now, where do you go for alternatives? Are there any other search engines? Join The Corbett Report’s open source investigation into search alternatives as we explore the good the bad and the ugly of online filter bubbles.

JOIN THE OPEN SOURCE INVESTIGATION: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=24412

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UNHRC: Yemen Inquiry is Doomed to Fail Magnanimously

NOVANEWS
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By Salman Rafi Sheikh | New Eastern Outlook 

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) seems to have finally awakened up to the brazen human rights violations that the Saudia led Arab coalition forces have been blamed to have committed in the conflict in Yemen that has been going on for more than two years now, and has consumed thousands of lives, and destroyed the country, its polity and economy alike. While UNHRC has resolved to find out the atrocities that have been committed, the question that remains unanswered is if this ‘fact-finding’ mission would lead to an end of the war, let alone punish the antagonists?A compromise has been achieved from the very beginning, which will allow the House of Saud to not only to manipulate or dispute the results, but also escape any consequences whatsoever. As a matter of fact, Saudi Arabia was able to steer things to a course of its own advantage by simply altering the original resolution adopted by the Council, making the UNHRC look like a meaningless and worthless house of cards.

Let’s consider what the original resolution had called for and what is actually going to happen now. The original resolution had called for the establishment of an independent inquiry commission. However, thanks to Saudi Arabia’s intense lobbying and coercive diplomacy, the amended version is now restricted only to sending some “eminent experts”. According to reports, Riyadh had threatened to restrict and even cut trade and diplomatic ties with the council members which had backed the much more robust version. The House of Saud also publicly appreciated the UK, US and France for their cooperation in securing a compromise on resolution. The three countries also support Saudi Arabia’s deadly military aggression against the impoverished Yemen. The UK and the US had no reason to criminalize Saudi Arabia not only because they are allies but also because the US is itself a party to destroying Yemen.

This is evident from the way the US president Donald Trump has almost doubled the number of covert US airstrikes in Yemen. According to the data compiled by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the US has carried out about 100 strikes in Yemen in 2017. While the official narrative is that these strikes target Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), there are evidences that suggest that the US has been equally targeting the Houthis as well. Nothing perhaps could illustrate this ‘US vs Houthis’ phenomenon more than the fact that a US drone was attacked and shot down by the Houthis in western Yemen as recently as October 2, 2017. While the US officials said that the matter was under investigation, the Houthi-controled Defense Ministry announced that it had downed an American drone in the outskirts of Yemen’s capital Sanaa, thus rejecting the US claim that it was mainly involved in non-combatant missions in the aid of the Arab coalition.

On the other hand, what really explains the reason for the Trump administration’s decision to increase drone attacks is the policy of isolating and defeating Iran that the US and Saudi Arabia are following. Interestingly enough, perusal of this policy has caused political tension in the UK as well, where the parliament’s joint committee on human rights has raised strong concerns about the UK’s involvement in the US targeted killing programme, noting that the UK’s intelligence agencies work “hand in glove” with the US.

Given the extent of co-operation between the West and its key ally in the Middle East, an independent inquiry into war atrocities committed by the self-declared regional hegemon is unlikely to take place ever, let alone punish the wrongdoers. Besides the current UNHRC debacle, this is also evident from the way the House of Saud was able, back in July 2016, to turn upside down a UN report that had blacklisted the country after it found out that the Kingdom was responsible for 60 percent of the 785 deaths of children in Yemen in 2015. A few days later, however, the world body announced that the Riyadh regime would be scratched off the list, pending a joint review with the Arab kingdom. Sounds like really independent and impartial!

Once again Riyadh has been able to manipulate inquiry into atrocities by radically altering the resolution that had called for an independent inquiry. Could there be a greater irony than the fact that the new resolution that decided to set up a committee of experts had been set up by Riyadh itself? How can an accused set up, or even influence, a committee to investigate into his own crimes? Can such a body be expected to be impartial and truly reveal what the Arab coalition has done in Yemen?

Answers to all of these questions have, unfortunately, to be in the negative. It is not that we are expressing pessimism, there are certainly concrete basis for what we have said. Besides the above given arguments with regard to the co-operation between the US, the UK and Saudi Arabia, the fact remains that not even the EU, the so-called champion of human rights, is able to leave a decisive impact on the situation and turn things against Saudia. For instance, the European human rights organisation had to face a lot of ridicule when, despite its earlier statement that had confirmed that airstrikes carried out by the Arab coalition in the past two months had killed 39 civilians, including 26 children, the resolution was amended and the bid for constituting an independent inquiry was replaced by a committee of “experts.” Not only were their reports and arguments not accepted, but their demand that the matter be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) was squarely rejected, thanks again to the Saudi lobbying and the help it received from its key allies in the West i.e., the US and UK and France and the way it coerced countries into backing down on this demand.

According to a Reuters report, in a letter seen by one of the diplomats, Saudi Arabia – the world’s biggest oil exporter – had warned some states of possible consequences should they support the Dutch resolution, submitted jointly with Canada, calling for a full commission. This lobbying was the perfectly echoed by French diplomatic source who was reported to have said that “there is room to satisfy everybody.”

It appears that no other party is more satisfied now than the House of Saud, the principal accused in the scene. The accused stands vindicated as it is well “satisfied” with the way things have ended in the UNHRC session and the way things will proceed in the future. It is possible that by the time the committee of experts is constituted, does its investigation and submits its report in a year from now on, the Arab coalition, which believes that airstrikes killing civilians are legally justifiable, might end up killing thousands of innocent people. Who will then the UNHRC blame for the loss?

Posted in YemenComments Off on UNHRC: Yemen Inquiry is Doomed to Fail Magnanimously


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