Archive | November 17th, 2019

New Poll Reveals Majority of Canadians Believe Our Country Ranks in Top 10 for Children’s Well-Being. In Reality, Canada Ranks 25th

Poll Released on National Child Day and the 30th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

By Children First Canada

One of Canada’s top child advocacy groups, Children First Canada, has released a new poll on Canadian’s attitudes on the wellbeing of our country’s kids. The poll is being released today on the occasion of National Child Day and the 30th Anniversary of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.

According to the new poll, 71% believe Canada ranks in the top 10 compared to other wealthy nations, with 36% believing it ranks in the top 5. In fact, Canada ranks 25th overall.

Once informed of Canada’s actual rank, nine in ten respondents said Canada should put a high priority on improving children’s well-being, with 4 in 10 believing it should be a very high priority.

The number of Canadians prioritizing children’s well-being has increased since the poll was last conducted in 2016. Then, 86% said it was a high priority (compared to 91% today) and 24% said it was a very high priority (increasing 19 points to 43% in 2019). 

“It’s discouraging to know there is so much work that needs to be done to improve the health and wellbeing of Canada’s children, but Canadians aren’t aware of the problem. What this poll shows us is that when Canadians become aware of the state of our children, they strongly support urgent action to improve our kids’ wellbeing,” Says Sara Austin, Founder and CEO of Children First Canada

“As Canadians celebrate National Child Day, the federal cabinet is being sworn into office. Children First Canada urges the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to put our children at the top of the agenda, and to swiftly take action on the long-standing recommendations to appoint an independent Commission for Children and Youth,” adds Austin. 

Today has additional significance for Austin because it is the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and National Child Day. In the early 2000s, the child advocate lobbied the United Nations to pass the “Third Optional Protocol,” which allows children to hold their governments accountable for the protection of their rights. The protocol was passed in 2011, but has yet to be ratified by Canada.

As part of its unveiling of today’s report, Children First Canada is also holding an event in Ottawa to bring together children and youth to learn about their rights and the Canadian Children’s Charter. The event will also assemble representatives from federal government and Canada’s leading charities, hospitals, research institutes and major corporations to discuss current challenges and create a plan of action.

Satellite events will also take place across the country, bringing together youth and adult leaders to be part of a national conversation on how to make Canada the best place in the world for kids to grow up.

“Children have a right to be at the table when decisions are being made that impact their future. They have a voice and it needs to be heard,” adds Austin.

Top issues affecting children as identified by poll respondents:

1. mental health/depression/anxiety – mentioned by 48% of respondents

2. Bullying/safety online – mentioned by 34% of respondents

3. Health/fitness/obesity/nutrition: mentioned by 32% of respondents

4. Schools/education: mentioned by 31% of respondents

5. Poverty/poor families: mentioned by 31% of respondents

6. Domestic violence/child abuse and post-secondary education: both cited by 23% of respondents

“It’s heartening to hear that Canadians are concerned about the issues that matter most to our children,” say Austin. The top priorities identified in the poll are well aligned with the research released earlier this by Children First Canada in the Raising Canada report on the top 10 threats to Canada’s kids. 

Other findings:

  • Only 54% believe that young Canadians get the support they need to achieve their full potential (only 7% stating they totally agree)
  • 92% believe that investing in children now saves additional spending in the future
  • 59% believe Canada is not doing its best for poor people

The study was conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Children First Canada and two of its partners: Children’s Healthcare Canada and the IWK Health Centre.

US Interventions in Canada – A Brief History

Posted in Canada0 Comments

Europe’s Shameful Treatment of Refugees: Fire in Greece’s Samos Island Refugee Camp

Highlights Appalling Conditions

By Prof. Richard Hardigan

Last month a fire roared through the refugee camp on the Greek island of Samos, a few miles from the coast of Turkey. The immediate cause of the fire is unclear, but there were clashes between Afghan and Syrian refugees in the nearby town of Vathy earlier in the evening, which some witnesses said continued in the camp. There were chaotic scenes during the fire, and almost the entire camp was evacuated, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Field Coordinator Eirini Papanastasiou.

“The shelters are totally burnt down,” she told Newsweek. “They’re mainly made out of tents and plywood and plastic sheeting and all of this has burned down.”

The camp, originally constructed as an army base meant to house 650 individuals, now hosts close to 6,000 refugees. Roughly 3,000 reside in the camp itself, while the remainder scramble to find a spot to pitch their makeshift tents on an adjacent hillside, which is known as the Jungle. Because of the extreme overcrowding, the shelters are built close to each other, and it does not take much for a fire to spread. While no serious injuries were reported, the blaze did destroy the shelters of 700 people residing in the Jungle.

Samos is one of a handful of Greek islands where migrants arrive seeking refuge in Europe, fleeing war, hunger, torture and poverty. At the height of the refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016, over a million asylum seekers used this route to make their way to Germany and other countries. In March of 2016, however, the European Union and Turkey, in an attempt to stem the flow of refugees, signed an agreement that would allow the EU to transfer Syrian refugees on the Greek islands back to Turkey. The deal has been criticized on many points, including the fact that it is based on the premise that Turkey is a safe country for refugees. One of the provisions of the deal was that refugees would be detained on the Greek islands until their asylum cases were heard, after which those who were refused asylum would be deported. However, the Greek asylum service was overwhelmed by the number of asylum applicants, and refugees have been staying on the islands—sometimes for two or three years—waiting to have their future decided. As a consequence, the Aegean islands in practice have become detention centers.

The conditions on Samos—as well as the other islands—are deplorable.

“C’est l’enfer,” said Jean, a forty-year-old refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo told me a week after he arrived on Samos with his six-year-old daughter. It is hell.The Day to Day Realities of the Refugee Crisis in Greece’s Samos Island

Aref Kassem, his wife Fariba and three of their children, refugees from Afghanistan, are lucky because they live in the camp itself, rather than the Jungle. They stay in a container with fifteen other families. Their own space is two meters by two meters, separated from those of the others by curtains. The container has four toilets and one shower, used not only by the residents of the container, but by the refugees living in the Jungle, where there are no toilet facilities at all.

“It is not a place for human beings,” said Aref.

The food and water is a particular issue of contention for many of the refugees. Everyone gets 1.5 liters of water every day, which is not nearly sufficient for the hot days of summer. The food is generally of poor quality, and much of it is expired.

“We get potatoes, rice, beans and sometimes chicken for lunch. But no vegetables. I have been here one year and have never seen a vegetable,” said Farzaad, a twenty-two-year-old from Afghanistan.

To obtain breakfast, which consists of a small pastry and a juice box, residents must rise at 2 am and wait in line for six hours. This process is repeated for lunch and dinner. It is so arduous that many of the residents buy their own food in the town.

Violence is a consequence of the extreme overcrowding and the deplorable conditions. The fighting on the evening of the fire resulted in stab wounds. Clashes are especially common in the food line.

“There is always fighting in the line. Every day. Every breakfast. Every lunch. Every dinner. Women against women. I was in front of you. I was here first,” said Farzaad. “Every day. Sometimes with knifes. I saw one guy stab another.”

The camp and the Jungle are both filthy, and there are snakes, scorpions, rats and bedbugs.

“Some of the refugees bring stray cats to the camp in the hopes they will chase away the rats,” said Abdul, a refugee from Yemen. “But the rats are so big that the cats are afraid of them.”

The access to medical care in the camp is almost non-existent, as there is only one doctor for the 6,000 refugees. Residents often spend the night on the ground in front of the doctor’s office, hoping to be seen the next day. More often than not, they are turned away.

“The worst thing about being in the camp is the waiting,” said Farzaad. “All you do is wait. For food, for the doctor, for your interview.”

Farzaad is speaking about an interview with the Greek asylum office, where the fate of the refugees is decided. A survey recently administered by NGO’s on the island revealed that over 40% of the respondents have their first interview with the asylum office in 2021 or later.

The situation has become untenable for those affected directly by the fire. Sandrine Vollebregt, a doctor working for a medical NGO on Samos, described the situation.

“When you walk around town, you see many women and children lying on the street. The playgrounds are full of people,” she said. “Many people lost their medication. We saw babies that couldn’t stop crying after the fire. Some mothers couldn’t produce breast milk anymore.”

The Greek government has attempted to alleviate the situation by transferring 700 asylum seekers from Samos to the mainland, with plans to move another 300. While this will help in the immediate aftermath of the fire, a real solution will not be found until Europe changes its policies vis-à-vis the refugees and discontinues its practice of forcing those fleeing the horrors of war and torture to suffer in these camps in abominable conditions.

Posted in Europe, Human Rights0 Comments

Trump wants to fete him in Washington, but the Turks want this SDF general extradited for crimes. How did we get here?

By Scott Ritter

In the past month, the name and image of General Mazloum Adbi, the commander of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, has become well known to Americans. The decision by President Trump to precipitously withdraw U.S. forces from northeastern Syria, thereby greenlighting a Turkish military incursion which targeted Mazloum and his forces, prompted a widespread discussion about the American “abandonment” of its Kurdish allies, and General Mazloum quickly became the face of the Kurds.

After the targeted killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, by elite commandos from the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), General Mazloum’s status as a heroic figure was cemented, given the role he and the SDF played in that effort. But Mazloum has a dark past which makes his relationship with the U.S. highly problematic.

To hear the Kurds tell it, the attack on al-Baghdadi wouldn’t—indeed, couldn’t—have happened without their support.

“Since 15 May [2019],” Polat Can, a senior adviser to the SDF, declared via Twitter, “we have been working together with the CIA to track Al Baghdadi and monitor him closely.”

The operation to kill Baghdadi was supposed to take place a month ago, Mr. Can tweeted, but the decision by President Trump to pull American troops out of northeastern Syria, followed by the Turkish incursion into the evacuated territory, caused a postponement. Eventually, however, the mission was a “go.”

The Genesis of the assault on al-Baghdadi, officially known as Operation Kayla Mueller, in honor of the American aid worker who was captured, tortured and killed by al-Baghdadi, did not originate with the Kurds, but rather in Turkey, where in February 2018 Turkish intelligence agents arrested Ismael al-Ethawi, one of al-Baghdadi’s closest aides. The Turks turned al-Ethawi over to Iraqi authorities, who under interrogation by the Iraqis and the CIA revealed the identities of other close associates of al-Baghdadi, who were in turn detained and questioned.

From this information, the Iraqis and the CIA were able to piece together a pattern of activity used by al-Baghdadi to avoid detection. Armed with this information, the CIA approached the Syrian Kurds of the SDF, whose intelligence service deployed a network of human agents to try and locate al-Baghdadi, which they succeeded in doing in May 2019.

According to General Abdi, his forces were able to identify the house where al-Baghdadi was staying, and then insert an informant who was able to provide critical details about its physical properties. Abdistated that the SDF set up a secret intelligence cell to control the informant and invited the CIA to participate. The intelligence produced by this cell was instrumental in the planning of the assault on al-Baghdadi’s compound. According to Abdi, the informant was one of two adult men detained by the assault force and evacuated from the site once the mission was completed.

U.S. Special Operations Forces have a history of close cooperation with Syrian Kurds in carrying out anti-ISIS operations. This cooperation began in the fall of 2014, when Joint Tactical Air Control (JTAC)-qualified U.S. Special Operators, skilled in directing close air support of forces engaged in combat, began controlling coalition air strikes in support of Kurdish forces defending the Syrian city of Kobani from ISIS attack. The Americans had never worked with the Syrian Kurds before, and there was a steep learning curve on the part of both the Americans and their Kurdish counterparts. The arrival of Iraqi Kurdish Special Forces who had a history of working with American JTACs in Iraq helped the targeting process immensely.The Coming Year in Special Ops

Since 2012 both the CIA and the U.S. Department of Defense had been engaged in dual equip and train missions to field viable opposition forces capable of overthrowing the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. By 2014, these efforts had failed abysmally. At the same time, the regime change focus was overtaken by the rise of ISIS, and the need to field a force capable of defeating this new threat.

From the Kobani experience, the U.S. identified the People’s Protection Unites, or YPG—the military arm of the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, as an ideal partner in the counter-ISIS fight. There was, however, one major hitch—the PYD was an affiliate of the Kurdish Worker’s Party, or PKK, a Kurdish group that has been fighting a war of independence against Turkey for more than 30 years, and which both the U.S. and Turkey, a key NATO ally, identified as a terrorist organization.

The U.S. Department of State designated the PKK as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997 under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act; in 2001 the U.S. Government followed up by designating the PKK as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity pursuant to Executive Order 13224.  These designations were designed to restrict fundraising opportunities by denying the PKK access to U.S. financial systems, as well as facilitate the capture and prosecution of persons affiliated with the PKK. If the United States were to engage in a train and equip program with the YPG, the Department of Defense would run afoul of U.S. law, 18 U.S. Code sections 2339B and 2339A, prohibiting the provision of material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations.

As the saying goes, therein lies the rub; in order to defeat ISIS, the United States would need to ally itself with a terrorist group it was prohibited by law from doing so. Moreover, it would need to provide weapons and training to an organization which had, over the course of 30-plus years, killed tens of thousands of Turks through hundreds of terrorist actions.

The Turks had witnessed the Kobani fight up close and personally and were able to be persuaded of the necessity of a U.S.-Kurdish alliance in order to defeat ISIS, with one catch—the U.S. needed to keep careful track of all the weapons it supplied to the YPG, and promise to recover them all once the threat from ISIS had been eliminated. By October 2015, President Obama had authorized a force of 50 JSOC operators to enter Syria to work with the SDF; this number soon grew to more than 300.

From its very inception, the U.S.-SDF relationship was a study in contradiction and controversy. The sleight of hand rebranding ploy by the U.S. was a transparent gimmick that fooled no-one; when the elite soldiers of the YPG’s anti-terrorism force (YAT) started using expensive U.S.-made equipment, such as night-vision goggles and specially fitted out M-4 assault weapons, the Pentagon was quick to note that it had not provided the equipment, since that would violate U.S. law (the equipment instead made its way to the Kurds via a circuitous route that by-passed Congressional oversight.)

Moreover, the U.S. backtracked from its assurances that it would recover the weapons it had supplied to the SDF, extending the timeline until it became obvious to all the weapons were there to stay.

Most problematic of all was the fact that the U.S., through its interaction with the SDF, was working closely with personalities the Turks reviled as senior leadership figures within the PKK, including General Abdi. While the Turks were able to turn a blind eye to this cozy relationship, when the Kurds proclaimed their own autonomous region within Syria, which they called Rojava, in May 2016, the Turks were quick to condemn both it and the U.S.-Kurdish military relationship.

Abdi, whose real name is Ferhad Abdi Şahinparticipated in PKK attacks on Turkish villages and military outposts in the mid- to late-1990’s which killed dozens of Turkish civilians and soldiers. After serving as a PKK fundraiser in Europe, Mazloum returned to northern Iraq where he commanded PKK special operations forces who were responsible for dozens of violent attacks against targets inside Turkey. In 2011 the Turks petitioned Interpol to issue a Red Notice on Mazloum, designating him as a top tier terrorist who should be detained on sight. Mazloum returned to Syria in 2013 to take command of the YPG.

Today General Abdi finds himself feted by President TrumpCongress and the U.S. media for his role in defeating ISIS and killing al-Baghdadi. Trump has indicated a desire to meet General Mazloum, while Senator Lindsay Graham has pushed the State Department to help expedite a visa so Abdi can travel to the United States.

For its part, Turkey has drawn up a formal request that the United States arrest General Mazloum, citing the Interpol Red Notice, and extradite him to Turkey to face justice. In a world where hypocrisy and double standards are more commonplace than consistent application of the rule of law, the American relationship with General Mazloum—our man in Rojava—stands out: to wage a war against terror, the United States has allied with a man who, by any measure, meets the definition of terrorist. Consistency has never been the forte of American diplomacy, yet in the coming weeks and months the U.S. will have to decide whether it values its relationship with Turkey, a NATO ally, over a man the Turks revile as a terrorist, and yet has provided the U.S. with yeoman’s service in the fight against ISIS.

Postscript—the status of General Mazloum as a pro-American heroic figure was further cemented with the killing of al-Baghdadi’s alleged successor, Abu Hesen al Mouhjir, on October 29, in a coordinated assault by SDF commandos and U.S. Delta Force operators.

Posted in Middle East, USA, Turkey0 Comments

America’s Arms Sales Addiction: 50-Year History of U.S. Dominance of the Middle Eastern Arms Trade

By William D. Hartung

It’s no secret that Donald Trump is one of the most aggressive arms salesmen in history. How do we know? Because he tells us so at every conceivable opportunity. It started with his much exaggerated “$110 billion arms deal” with Saudi Arabia, announced on his first foreign trip as president. It continued with his White House photo op with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in which he brandished a map with a state-by-state rundown of American jobs supposedly tied to arms sales to the kingdom. And it’s never ended. In these years in office, in fact, the president has been a staunch advocate for his good friends at Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and General Dynamics — the main corporate beneficiaries of the U.S.-Saudi arms trade (unlike the thousands of American soldiers the president recently sent into that country’s desert landscapes to defend its oil facilities).

All the American arms sales to the Middle East have had a severe and lasting set of consequences in the region in, as a start, the brutal Saudi/United Arab Emirates war in Yemen, which has killed thousands of civilians via air strikes using U.S. weaponry and pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of famine. And don’t forget the recent Turkish invasion of Syria in which both the Turkish forces and the Kurdish-led militias they attacked relied heavily on U.S.-supplied weaponry.

Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he cares far more about making deals for that weaponry than who uses any of it against whom. It’s important to note, however, that, historically speaking, he’s been anything but unique in his obsession with promoting such weapons exports (though he is uniquely loud about doing so).

Despite its supposedly strained relationship with the Saudi regime, the Obama administration, for example, still managed to offer the royals of that kingdom a record $136 billion in U.S. weapons between 2009 and 2017. Not all of those offers resulted in final sales, but striking numbers did. Items sold included Boeing F-15 combat aircraft and Apache attack helicopters, General Dynamics M-1 tanks, Raytheon precision-guided bombs, and Lockheed Martin bombs, combat ships, and missile defense systems. Many of those weapons have since been put to use in the war in Yemen.

To its credit, the Obama administration did at least have an internal debate on the wisdom of continuing such a trade. In December 2016, late in his second term, the president finally did suspend the sale of precision-guided bombs to the Royal Saudi Air Force due to a mounting toll of Yemeni civilian deaths in U.S.-supplied Saudi air strikes. This was, however, truly late in the game, given that the Saudi regime first intervened in Yemen in March 2015 and the slaughter of civilians began soon after that.

By then, of course, Washington’s dominance of the Mideast arms trade was taken for granted, despite an occasional large British or French deal like the scandal-plagued Al Yamamah sale of fighter planes and other equipment to the Saudis, the largest arms deal in the history of the United Kingdom. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, from 2014 to 2018 the United States accounted for more than 54% of known arms deliveries to the Middle East. Russia lagged far behind with a 9.5% share of the trade, followed by France (8.6%), England (7.2%), and Germany (4.6%). China, often cited as a possible substitute supplier, should the U.S. ever decide to stop arming repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia, came in at less than 1%.

The U.S. government’s stated rationales for pouring arms into that ever-more-embattled region include: building partnerships with countries theoretically willing to fight alongside U.S. forces in a crisis; swapping arms for access to military bases in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and other Persian Gulf states; creating “stability” by building up allied militaries to be stronger than those of potential adversaries like Iran; and generating revenue for U.S. weapons contractors, as well as jobs for American workers. Of course, such sales have indeed benefited those contractors and secured access to bases in the region, but when it comes to promoting stability and security, historically it’s been another story entirely.

The Nixon Doctrine and the Initial Surge in Mideast Arms Sales

Washington’s role as the Middle East’s top arms supplier has its roots in remarks made by Richard Nixon half a century ago on the island of Guam. It was the Vietnam War era and the president was on his way to South Vietnam. Casualties there were mounting rapidly with no clear end to the conflict in sight. During that stopover in Guam, Nixon assured reporters accompanying him that it was high time to end the practice of sending large numbers of U.S troops to overseas battlefields. To “avoid another war like Vietnam anywhere in the world,” he was instead putting a new policy in place, later described by a Pentagon official as “sending arms instead of sending troops.”

The core of what came to be known as the Nixon Doctrine was the arming of regional surrogates, countries with sympathetic rulers or governments that could promote U.S. interests without major contingents of the American military being on hand. Of such potential surrogates at that moment, the most important was the Shah of Iran, with whom a CIA-British intelligence coup replaced a civilian government back in 1953 and who proved to have an insatiable appetite for top-of-the-line U.S. weaponry.There’s No Business Like the Arms Business. Weapons “R” Us (But You’d Never Know It)

The Shah’s idea of a good time was curling up with the latest copy of Aviation Week and Space Technology and perusing glossy photos of combat planes. Egged on by the Nixon administration, his was the first and only country to buy the costly Grumman F-14 combat aircraft at a time when that company desperately needed foreign sales to bolster the program. And the Shah put his U.S.-supplied weapons to use, too, helping, for instance, to put down an anti-government uprising in nearby Oman (a short skip across the Persian Gulf), while repressing his own population at the same time.

In the Nixon years, Saudi Arabia, too, became a major weapons client of Washington, not so much because it feared its regional neighbors then, but because it had seemingly limitless oil funds to subsidize U.S. weapons makers at a time when the Pentagon budget was beginning to be reduced. In addition, Saudi sales helped recoup some of the revenue streaming out of the U.S. to pay for higher energy prices exacted by the newly formed OPEC oil cartel. It was a process then quaintly known as “recycling petrodollars.”

The Carter Years and the Quest for Restraint

The freewheeling arms trade of the Nixon years eventually prompted a backlash. In 1976, for the first (and last) time, a presidential candidate — Jimmy Carter — made reining in the arms trade a central theme of his 1976 campaign for the White House. He called for imposing greater human-rights scrutiny on arms exports, reducing the total volume of arms transfers, and initiating talks with the Soviet Union on curbing sales to regions of tension like the Middle East.

Meanwhile, members of Congress, led by Democratic Senators Gaylord Nelson and Hubert Humphrey, felt that it was long past time for Capitol Hill to have a role in decision-making when it came to weapons sales. Too often Congressional representatives found out about major deals only by reading news reports in the papers long after such matters had been settled. Among the major concerns driving their actions: the Nixon-era surge of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, then still an avowed adversary of Israel; the use of U.S.-supplied weapons by both sides in the Greek-Turkish conflict over the island of Cyprus; and covert sales to extremist right-wing forces in southern Africa, notably the South African-backed Union for the Total Independence of Angola. The answer was the passage of the Arms Export Control Act of 1978, which required that Congress be notified of any major sales in advance and asserted that it had the power to veto any of them viewed as dangerous or unnecessary.

As it happened, though, neither President Carter’s initiative nor the new legislation put a significant dent in such arms trafficking. In the end, for instance, Carter decided to exempt the Shah’s Iran from serious human-rights strictures and his hardline national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, undercut those talks with the Soviet Union on reducing arms sales.

Carter also wanted to get the new Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) he established — which eventually morphed into the U.S. Central Command — access to military bases in the Persian Gulf region and was willing to use arms deals to do so. The RDF was to be the centerpiece of the Carter Doctrine, a response to the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the fall of the Shah of Iran. As the president made clear in his 1980 State of the Union address: “An attempt by any outside forces to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States. It will be repelled by use of any means necessary, including the use of force.” Selling arms in the region would prove a central pillar of his new doctrine.

Meanwhile, most major sales continued to sail through Congress with barely a discouraging word.

Who Armed Saddam Hussein?

While the volume of those arms sales didn’t spike dramatically under President Ronald Reagan, his determination to weaponize anti-communist “freedom fighters” from Afghanistan to Nicaragua sparked the Iran-Contra scandal. At its heart lay a bizarre and elaborate covert effort led by National Security Council staff member Oliver North and a band of shadowy middlemen to supply U.S. weapons to the hostile regime of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran. The hope was to gain Tehran’s help in freeing U.S. hostages in Lebanon. North and company then used the proceeds from those sales to arm anti-government Contra rebels in Nicaragua in violation of an explicit Congressional ban on such aid.

Worse yet, the Reagan administration transferred arms and provided training to extremist mujahedeen factions in Afghanistan, acts which would, in the end, help arm groups and individuals that later formed al-Qaeda (and similar groups). That would, of course, prove a colossal example of the kind of blowback that unrestricted arms trading too often generates.

Even as the exposure of North’s operation highlighted U.S. arms transfers to Iran, the Reagan administration and the following one of President George H.W. Bush would directly and indirectly supply nearly half a billion dollars worth of arms and arms-making technology to Iran’s sworn enemy, Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein. Those arms would bolster Saddam’sregime both in its war with Iran in the 1980s and in its 1991 invasion of Kuwait that led to Washington’s first Gulf War. The U.S. was admittedly hardly alone in fueling the buildup of the Iraqi military. All five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (the U.S., the Soviet Union, France, the United Kingdom, and China) provided weapons or weapons technology to that country in the run-up to its intervention in Kuwait.

The embarrassment and public criticism generated by the revelation that the U.S. and other major suppliers had helped arm the Iraqi military created a new opening for restraint. Leaders in the U.S., Great Britain, and other arms-trading nations pledged to do better in the future by increasing information about and scrutiny of their sales to the region. This resulted in two main initiatives: the United Nations arms trade register, where member states were urged to voluntarily report their arms imports and exports, and talks among those five Security Council members (the largest suppliers of weapons to the Middle East) on limiting arms sales to the region.

However, the P-5 talks, as they were called, quickly fell apart when China decided to sell a medium-range missile system to Saudi Arabia and President Bill Clinton’s administration began making new regional weapons deals at a pace of more than $1 billion per month while negotiations were underway. The other suppliers concluded that the Clinton arms surge violated the spirit of the talks, which soon collapsed, leading in the presidency of George W. Bush to a whole new Iraqi debacle.

The most important series of arms deals during the George W. Bush years involved the training and equipping of the Iraqi military in the wake of the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But $25 billion in U.S. arms and training was not enough to create a force capable of defeating the modestly armed militants of ISIS, when they swept into northern Iraq in 2014 and captured large swaths of territory and major cities, including Mosul. Iraqi security forces, short on food and equipment due to corruption and incompetence, were also short on morale, and in some cases virtually abandoned their posts (and U.S. weaponry) in the face of those ISIS attacks.

The Addiction Continues

Donald Trump has carried on the practice of offering weaponry in quantity to allies in the Middle East, especially the Saudis, though his major rationale for the deals is to generate domestic jobs and revenues for the major weapons contractors. In fact, investing money and effort in almost anything else, from infrastructure to renewable energy technologies, would produce more jobs in the U.S. No matter though, the beat just goes on.

One notable development of the Trump years has been a revived Congressional interest in curbing weapons sales, with a particular focus on ending support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. (Watching Turkish and Kurdish forces face off, each armed in a major way by the U.S., should certainly add to that desire.) Under the leadership of Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA), Congress has voted to block bomb sales and other forms of military support for Saudi Arabia, only to have their efforts vetoed by President Trump, that country’s main protector in Washington. Still, congressional action on Saudi sales has been unprecedented in its persistence and scope. It may yet prevail, if a Democrat wins the presidency in 2020. After all, every one of the major presidential contenders has pledged to end arms sales that support the Saudi war effort in Yemen.

Such deals with Saudi Arabia and other Mideast states may be hugely popular with the companies that profit from the trade, but the vast majority of Americans oppose runaway arms trading on the sensible grounds that it makes the world less safe. The question now is: Will Congress play a greater role in attempting to block such weapons deals with the Saudis and human-rights abusers or will America’s weapons-sales addiction and its monopoly position in the Middle Eastern arms trade simply continue, setting the stage for future disasters of every sort?

Posted in Middle East, USA, ZIO-NAZI0 Comments

Mobile Phone Radiation and the EU’s Phonegate Crisis

MEP Michèle Rivasi Questions the European Commission

By Equipe Phonegate and Michele Rivasi

Following the invitation on October 1, 2019 to the European Parliament of Dr Marc Arazi by MEPs Philippe Lamberts, Michèle Rivasi and Klaus Buchner of the Greens/EFA, and the alert issued to parliamentarians and organisations gathered at this event on the Phonegate health and industrial scandal, a written question was tabled by Michèle Rivasi on October 9, 2019 before the European Commission.

We would like to thank her for her support and mobilisation at European level to protect the health of hundreds of millions of mobile phone users.

At the end of 2016, Europe had 745 million mobile subscriptions. What corrective actions will manufacturers and public authorities in the various Member States take to inform their customers and the public? Will existing models be “updated”, with software that will limit their influence? Which ones will be withdrawn from the market? MEP Michèle Rivasi is asking for urgent and precise answers from the European Commission in the management of this new health crisis affecting consumer protection.

Read the press release published by the MEP on 29 October 2019

Press release
Brussels, 29th October 2019
MEP Michele Rivasi

Overexposure of the public to mobile phone radiation: What is Europe doing?

Do you keep your mobile phone with you, in the pocket of a shirt? Or glued to your ear to make a phone call? When worn close to the body, most mobile phones placed on the market before 2016 emit so much radiation that they exceed exposure limits. These are the official conclusions of a set of radiation measures made in France since 2012, which have remained largely confidential so far. In its opinion published on 21 October 2019, the Agence française de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail (ANSES) recommends that measures be taken to ensure that users are no longer exposed to high levels when phones are worn close to the body. The alert came from France but the issue is also European, says MEP Michèle Rivasi, who has been following the impact of electromagnetic waves on life for more than 20 years.

“We knew that mobile phones “in motion” radiated more than the same phones used “motionless”. It is now a fact that most mobile phones worn against the skin are more dangerous than when held away from the body, used with an earpiece or on loudspeaker mode.

SAR, or Specific Absorption Rate, is the indicator used to estimate the body’s exposure to radiation from a mobile phone. At the head or trunk level, the regulatory SAR limit value in France and Europe is set at 2 W/kg, the threshold above which biological effects have been observed.

Measures that are more in line with actual use conclude that the standards have been exceeded

Previously, SAR measurements were made at an average distance of 15 mm from the body. From now on, since 2016, the European RED directive requires the SAR to be measured by placing the mobile phone at a maximum distance of 5 mm from the skin. The results under these realistic conditions are then significantly different. Phones marketed with SAR values that previously met the standards are now exceeding them. “Tests on nearly 300 phones were carried out between 2012 and 2016,” summarizes the ANSES opinion published on 21 October. A large proportion of the phones tested had SAR values above 2 W/kg, some exceeding 7 W/kg on contact. »

On 1 October 2019, during a meeting I organised at the European Parliament on 5G and the precautionary principle, Marc Arazi of the PhoneGate Alert association warned:

Most mobile phones exceed regulatory values but we also discovered that there was a 10-fold difference between the value displayed in the manuals and advertisements of some manufacturers and the DAS value found in tests in France. Other independent tests conducted in 2018 and 2019 in the United States at 2 mm from the skin show that several very popular phones exceed the ceilings. The iPhone 7 has values twice as high as the American standard of 1.6 W/Kg. For the iPhone 8, this is three times the norm. The Samsung galaxy S8 has the most worrying rates: five times the US standard. This is a widespread, systematic and large-scale deception by manufacturers against consumers about a legal value – the DAS – indicating the conformity and the absence of health danger of a mobile phone. »

What is Europe doing to inform its 500 million consumers?

Articles 40 and 42 of Directive 2014/53/EU (RED Directive) on the harmonisation of the laws of the Member States relating to the availability of radio equipment on the market, lay down the obligations of the economic operator and the Commission as regards corrective measures or withdrawal from the market in respect of equipment which does not comply or which may present a risk.

In my written question at the beginning of October, I reminded the Commission that when 95 mobile phones were tested in France in 2015, the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of 85 of them (89% of phones) was above the limit value (2 W/kg) when the phones were tested in contact with the body. Since then, as a result of these controls, 17 mobile phones have either been withdrawn from the market or updated in France. At the end of 2016, Europe had 745 million mobile subscriptions. What corrective actions will manufacturers and public authorities in the various Member States take to inform their customers and the public?

The most radiating mobiles must be removed from the market!

These facts are very serious and should not be overlooked. For several years now, we have been denouncing the methods used to calculate the SAR, which are too vague, too approximate and, above all, underestimate people’s actual exposure. The measures taken in France, which the PhoneGate Alert association has made public since 2016, reveal the importance of the scandal.

By reducing public exposure measures, manufacturers have knowingly and deliberately caused the massive overexposure of several hundred millions of people throughout the European Union to mobile phone radiations, to values above the legal limits. And this has been the case for nearly 20 years for the oldest users.

The official alert comes from the French authorities, which have announced that they have asked the European Commission “to strengthen the requirements applicable to new mobile phones placed on the market”. But what exactly is the situation? What about the old models? Will they be “updated”, with software that will limit their influence? Which ones will be withdrawn from the market? We expect urgent and precise answers from the European Commission in the management of this new health crisis affecting consumer protection. It should be recalled that since 2011, in the light of available studies, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified microwave radiation from mobile phones as a “possible carcinogen”. Denial is no longer an acceptable option.

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Sources

October 1, Workshop on 5G, Health Risks and Precautionary Principle
“No impact studies on life and the environment? No 5G!”
https://www.michele-rivasi.eu/a-la-une/pas-detudes-dimpact-sur-le-vivant-et-lenvironnement-pas-de-5g

October 9, 2019, Written question by Michele Rivasi
“Removal of non-compliant mobile phones from the European market (PhoneGate)”
http://bit.ly/Rivasi_PhoneGateEU

October 21, 2019, Opinion on the ANSES Report of July 2019
“Exposures to mobile phones worn close to the body”
http://bit.ly/Rivasi_ANSES_DAS

October 25, 2019, Communiqué of the French Government
“to limit exposure to emissions from certain mobile phones and better inform the public”
https://solidarites-sante.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/191025-_cp_anses.pdf

The RED Directive
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/FR/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32014L0053

The PhoneGate Alert Association
https://www.phonegatealert.orgFrance Seeks to Limit Radiation Exposure from Cell PhonesThe original source of this article is Phonegate AlertCopyright © Equipe Phonegate and Michele RivasiPhonegate Alert, 2019


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Posted in Health0 Comments

Fifth Generation (5G) Cell Phone Systems Threatens Human Health and Intelligence

By Mojmir Babacek

In 1960 Allan H. Frey was 25 years old, he had graduated in biophysics and worked at General Electric’s Advanced Electronics Center at Cornell University. When a radar technician invited him to come and listen to a clicking sound of the radar broadcasting, which he was hearing in his brain at his workplace,

Allan Frey made a discovery that started his lifetime scientific research. Just one year later, in 1961, he published in a scientific magazine his experiments where people could hear in their heads, at a distance of 300 feet from the antenna, different sounds produced by pulsed microwaves. With this same method, he also produced in people the perception of severe buffeting of the head, or the pins and needles sensation (see this). His further experiments were financed by American Navy and Air Force (see this), which could see in his experiments the potential for new type of weapons. Allan Frey began to experiment with rats and frogs and found out that to influence the activity of their nervous system he needed much lower density of electromagnetic energy than is the density of electromagnetic energy used nowadays for the communication by cell phones.

Robert Becker was twice nominated to the Nobel prize for his research on effects of electric and magnetic fields on healing of fractures. At the end of 20th century he testified in a trial where the state of Wisconsin tried to ban the construction of an antenna for the communication with military submarines on its territory. The antenna was supposed to use 90 Hz frequency, which is within the range of the functioning of the human nervous system (see this). Robert Becker testified that the transmission of the antenna could be harmful to people.

When he lost his work for this testimony, he started writing books on the research of effects of electromagnetic radiation on the human organism. In the book entitled “Body Electric“ – he wrote about the experiment by Allan H. Frey, where he slowed down the heart beat of frogs by electromagnetic energy with a density of 3 microwatts per square centimeter (see this). Just to have a comparison – in the European Union the limit for electromagnetic exposure is at the frequency of 900 Mhz set to 450 microwatts per square centimeter and at another microwave frequency used by cell phone systems 1800 Mhz to 900 microwatts per square centimeter.

This means that it is permitted in the European Union to expose people to a density of electromagnetic energy 150 and 300 times higher than is necessary to slow down the heart-beat of a frog. With the fifth generation of cell phone systems this density will be increased at least tenfold. It is possible to object that at higher frequencies the skin will absorb most of this radiation, but the human body is full of salty liquids and this kind of electrolyte may act as an antenna which will carry this radiation deep into the human body – just see the veins (covered just by milimeter of skin), which are full of blood, which is an electrolyte. In addition the radiation will be transmitted constantly and there will be no place to escape from it, since it is supposed to enable driver-less car transportation and so it must penetrate every inch of the planet (see this).

In 1975 Allan Frey published an experiment where he injected a fluorescent dye into the circulatory system of white rats, then swept the microwave frequencies across their bodies and the dye had leached into the confines of the rats’ brains. It proved that microwave frequencies can breach the barrier between the blood and brain allowing toxins and viruses to enter the brain (see this). Swedish scientist Leif Salford i is engaged in similar experiments. He exposed three groups of rats to the power density of 24 microwatts, 240 microwatts and 2400 microwatts and found out that due to penetration of toxins into their brains a number of neurons in their brains were destructed, while in the control group, which was not exposed to this radiation, it did not happen (see this). Similar results were obtained by 13 scientific laboratories in 6 countries (see thisthis, and this).5G Dangers, 5th Generation Wireless Technology. Health and Environmental Impacts

Indian scientists carried out an experiment where rats were exposed for 180 days for two hours a day to cell phone radiations in 900, 1800 and 2450 Mhz. Prior to the experiment the rats were trained to move in a maze. After the exposure the reactions of irradiated rats were slower than the reactions of rats that were not exposed to microwave radiation. The scientists drew a conclusion that the ability of exposed rats to learn and to remember was damaged. Their DNA was also damaged (see this). To measure the exposure of rats to electromagnetic radiation the Indian scientists used a specific absorption rate. In their experiment it was 595 microwatts per one kilogram and 672 microwatts per one kilogram. According to the European norms people may not be exposed to density of electromagnetic radiation exceeding 0,08 Watts per one kilogram. Again, this exposure is high above the exposure where toxic effects of microwave radiation on rat’s brains were observed. With this finding we should not be surprised that the intelligence quotient of people living in developed countries is decreasing since the 1990’s of the past century (see this), when the density of electromagnetic radiation in the human environment has been rapidly growing.

Allen H. Frey wrote in 2012, when he was already partially retired, that in the USA the results of effects of microwave radiation on people were falsified during the cold war years to assure people that the radiation from military radars could not harm them. Another reason to block and disqualify the unclassified research of effects of microwaves on human organism was to hide the microwave bio-weapons program. For that matter the contractors, hired by military, supposedly replicated the Allan Frey’s experiment with injecting dye into the blood of rats by injecting it into their intestines instead of incjecting it into their blood. At the scientific conferences they then presented the results of their experiments where the dye did not penetrate the rat’s brains. In this way they suppressed the impact of Frey’s experiments. To keep hiding the military research of bio-weapons the U.S. Government stopped financing unclassified research in the microwave area and in this way also stopped the subsequent publication of the results. Stopped was, as well, the funding of Allan Frey’s research on the barrier between blood and brain.

Apparently the same situation exists worldwide and many scientists do not oppose the implementation of the 5G systems, because they are afraid that they could lose the funding of their work in the same way as Robert Becker did. In the conclusion of his article Allan Frey wrote that for those reasons hundreds of millions of people, who began to use cell phones, became subjects of experiments they never gave informed consent to (see this).

However all over the world there exists legislations prohibiting experiments on people without their informed consent and at present time the world mass media fail to inform the general public of the risks connected to the use of cell phones and the implementation of the fifth generation of the cell phone systems networks. In this way people are not allowed to know that electromagnetic radiation produces in their organisms oxidative stress, which can contribute to the following illnesses:

  • cancer (for example in the Czech Republic since 1985, when the use of microwaves started growing – GPS, cell phone systems and WiFi – until 2016 the occurrence of cancer disease grew by 141%, see this)
  • diabetes (in the Czech Republic was registered 184000 people with this disease in 2008 and in 2018 it was already 320000 – the number of ill people grew almost by 100% in ten years, see this and this – there are some 10 millions of inhabitants in the Czech Republic)
  • Parkinsons disease (20000 people are ill with this disease in the Czech republic in this year and in 2030 it is expected to be 30000 people, see this)
  • Alzheimer disease (at present time there are 135000 people ill with this disease in the Czech Republic and it is expected that there will be 225000 of them in 2050 (see this) – in the last five years that number grew by 38% (see this) and certainly the life expectancy in the Czech Republic has not grown by 38% in the last five years)
  • Autism (in 1975 one out of 5000 people suffered with this disease in the Czech Republic, in 1985 it was one out of 2500 people, in 2007 it was one out of 150 people and in 2015 it was one out of 86 children This is the increase by 5000% in 30 years !!! (see this))

According to the scientific research all of those illnesses can be produced by oxidative stress (see this), caused in the human organism by electromagnetic radiation (see this and this). It is highly logical to find that there is coincidence between the rapidly growing density of electromagnetic radiation in the atmosphere since the introduction of GPS, cell phone telephony and WiFi and rapidly growing occurrence of illnesses which can be produced by oxidative stress produced by electromagnetic radiation.

It would be appropriate to sue the governments, which promote the introduction of 5G mobile telephony, without verifying its harmlessness, for experimenting on people without their informed consent, and consequently sue the actual members of those governments for the further increase of the occurrence of the diseases mentioned above after the introduction of the 5G cell phone systems.

The readers may sign the appeal for the world wide ban of the introduction 5G technology here.

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Selected Articles: UK Government Accused of Covering Up War Crimes in Iraq

A future without independent media leaves us with an upside down reality where according to the corporate media “NATO deserves a Nobel Peace Prize”, and where “nuclear weapons and wars make us safer”

If, like us, this is a future you wish to avoid, please help sustain Global Research’s activities by making a donation or taking out a membership now!

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UK Government Accused of Covering Up War Crimes in Iraq

By Johanna Ross,

Leaked documents have revealed that not only was the UK army involved in war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s, but Conservative ministers succeeded in covering it up. Military detectives unveiled alleged ‘daily’ abuse dating back as far as 2003 by the Black Watch regiment in Basra as well as more recent crimes such as a 2012 raid on a compound in Helmund Province where three ‘unarmed’ children and a young man were shot dead.

China, USA and the Geopolitics of Lithium

By F. William Engdahl,

For several years since the global push to develop mass-scale Electric Vehicles, the element Lithium has come intofocus as a strategic metal. Demand is enormous in China, in the EU and in the USA at present, and securing control over lithium supplies is already developing its own geopolitics not unlike that for the control of oil.

For China, which has set major targets to become the world’s largest  producer of EVs, developing lithium battery materials is a priority for the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period. Though China has its own lithium reserves, recovery is limited, and China has gone to secure lithium mining rights abroad.

Conflict of Interest: Julian Assange’s Judge and Her Husband’s Links to the British Military Establishment Exposed by WikiLeaks

By Mark Curtis and Matt Kennard,

It can also be revealed that Lady Arbuthnot has received gifts and hospitality in relation to her husband, including from a military and cybersecurity company exposed by WikiLeaks. These activities indicate that the chief magistrate’s activities cannot be considered as entirely separate from her husband’s.

Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom, a former defence minister, is a paid chair of the advisory board of military corporation Thales Group, and was until earlier this year an adviser to arms company Babcock International. Both companies have major contracts with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD).

Europe’s Economy Today & Tomorrow

By Dr. Jack Rasmus,

Look beneath what’s happening with Yellow Vests in France, Hong Kong demonstrations, mass demonstrations across the South American continent, in North Africa and the Middle East, and what you will find is young workers growing desperate over their working conditions, over income inequality, the lack of jobs that provide a basic living, and their sense of hopelessness of change any time soon. In other words, discontent over their fate in emerging 21st century capitalism.

But the worse is still yet to come. Contingent, or so-called precarious, work and its condemning of workers to a ‘new indentureship’—a kind of 21st century capitalist serfdom—is now being intensified by new capitalist business models and technological change.

Brexit Trade Deals Signed So Far Worth Just 8 Percent of UK Total Trade

By True Publica,

The EU, taken as a whole is the UK’s largest trading partner. In 2018, UK exports to the EU were £291 billion (45% of all UK exports). UK imports from the EU were £357 billion (53% of all UK imports).

Therefore, the UK had an overall trade deficit of -£66 billion with the EU in 2018. A surplus of £28 billion on trade in services was outweighed by a deficit of -£94 billion on trade in goods.

The Destabilization of Haiti

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky,

The armed insurrection which contributed to unseating President Aristide on February 29th 2004 was the result of a carefully staged military-intelligence operation.

The Rebel paramilitary army crossed the border from the Dominican Republic in early February. It constitutes a well armed, trained and equipped paramilitary unit integrated by former members of Le Front pour l’avancement et le progrès d’Haiti (FRAPH), the “plain clothes” death squadrons, involved in mass killings of civilians and political assassinations during the CIA sponsored 1991 military coup, which led to the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Jean Bertrand Aristide.

The US-Sponsored Coup that Ousted Evo Morales. Bolivia’s Partnership with China in Lithium Production

By Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,

Morales obtained 47.08 % of the vote to secure a fourth term as president in the election held on the 20th of October. Since his vote was more than 10% of what his closest rival had harnessed, there was no need for a second round of voting according to the Bolivian Constitution. However his opponents did not want to accept the result. Neither did the Organisation of American States (OAS) nor the United States of America (USA) nor the European Union (EU).  They alleged “electoral fraud” without providing any tangible evidence. It should be emphasised that international observers from a number of countries testified to the legitimacy of the polls.

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Posted in Human Rights, UK0 Comments

‘Orwellian Absurdity’: US Reversal on Jewish illegal Settlements Draws International Outrage

‘Orwellian Absurdity’: US Reversal on Israel’s Settlements Draws International Outrage

By Yumna Patel

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that the US was softening its position on Israel’s network of settlements in the occupied Palestinain territory, saying it was revoking the notion that settlements are illegal under international law — a notion recognized by the rest of the world as factual and true.

“The Trump administration is reversing the Obama administration’s approach to Israeli settlements,” Pompeo said in his opening remarks at a press conference in Washington, D.C.

Pompeo said that the Trump administration would be departing from the Carter administration’s 1978 legal opinion — which served as the basis for the long-standing U.S. policy on settlements —  which states that Israel’s establishment of Jewish-only settlements was “inconsistent with international law.”

Calling Israeli settlements illegal under international law, Pompeo said, “hasn’t worked” and  “hasn’t advanced the cause of peace.”

“The hard truth is there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace,” he said.

“The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law,” Pompeo declared, adding that the administration was “expressing no view on the legal status of any individual settlement.”

According to Pompeo, one of the considerations taken by the administration leading up to the decision were the “confirmed the legality of certain settlement activities” by the Israeli legal system — a system that has been widely criticized as serving to uphold the structures of Israel’s occupation rather than one aimed at achieving justice and equality for all.

He went on to say that this decision was not meant to be a judgement on the status of the West Bank or Israeli sovereignty in the territory.  “This is for the Israelis and the Palestinians to negotiate.”

“The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate peace, and I will do everything I can to help this cause.  The United States encourages the Israelis and the Palestinians to resolve the status of Israeli settlements in the West Bank in any final status negotiations,” he concluded.

Outrage in Palestine, celebration in Israel

Monday’s announcement was the latest in a series of efforts by the Trump administration — declaring occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, and the movement of the US embassy to Jeruaslem — aimed at weaking Palestinian claims of statehood.

“The announcement marks a continuation of the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine years of progress on refining parameters for an agreed-upon resolution of the core issues of the conflict,” Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said in a statement. 

The group called the announcement “an Orwellian absurdity,” saying “no declaration will change the fact that the settlements were built on occupied territory, in contravention of international law, and that they pose among the greatest obstacles to peace.”How Israel Boosted Its Settlement Programme After Trump’s Election Victory

The European Union released a statement immediately after Pompeo’s remarks, saying “all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace.”

The statement went on to call on Israel to cease all settlement activity “in line with its obligations as an occupying power.”

PLO Executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi called the policy change “outrageous and horrific” in a statement, and reaffirmed the widely held position that settlements are a “grave violation of international law.”

Palestine PLO-DPDP@PLO_DPDP

Read| .@DrHananAshrawi on .@SecPompeo ‘s announcement regarding Israel’s illegal settlement regime: Trump administration is a threat to international peace and security

View image on Twitter

368:46 PM – Nov 18, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy36 people are talking about this

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat reacted to the news, saying “Israeli settlements steal Palestinian land, seize and exploit Palestinian natural resources, and divide, displace and restrict the movement of the people of Palestine.”

“In sum, Israel’s colonial-settlement enterprise perpetuates the negation of the Palestinian right to self-determination,” he said.

Nabil Abu Rdeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said “the U.S. administration has lost its credibility to play any future role in the peace process.”

Meanwhile, Israel and its supporters welcomed the decision. According to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he spoke to Trump on the phone after the announcement to thank him for “correcting a historical injustice.”

Benjamin Netanyahu@netanyahu · Nov 18, 2019

I spoke on the phone with US President Donald Trump and told him that he had corrected a historic injustice

Somebody needed to say a simple truth, and President Trump did this, just as he did with the recognition of the Golan Heights and the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem

Benjamin Netanyahu@netanyahu

I said to President Trump that we are not in a foreign land. This is our homeland for over 3,000 years. The reason that we are called “Jews” is because we came from here, from Judea.2,15410:46 PM – Nov 18, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy560 people are talking about this

“I said to President Trump that we are not in a foreign land. This is our homeland for over 3,000 years. The reason that we are called “Jews” is because we came from here, from Judea,” he continued, referring to the Hebrew name for the West Bank.

Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz also took to Twitter to celebrate the decision, saying “there’s no dispute about the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.”

ישראל כ”ץ Israel Katz@Israel_katz

I welcome @SecPompeo & the Trump admin’s announcement on legality of communities in Judaea & Samaria. There’s no dispute about the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. This is an appropriate response to the European Court decision & the boycott attempt against Israel1928:18 PM – Nov 18, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy87 people are talking about this

Nail in the coffin of two-state solution

The policy reversal comes at a pivotal time in regional politics, as Netanyahu, an ardent supporter of the settlements and annexation, struggles to hold onto power, and the Palestinian Authority continues to suffer financial and political blows at the hands of the US and its allies.

Michael Lynk, Canadian law professor and UN human rights expert, told Mondoweiss that by legitimizing Israeli settlements, that US has put the “very last nail in the coffin of the two state solution.”

Lynk emphasized the fact that “the illegality of the Israeli settlements has been accepted by virtually every country in the world,” and by departing with this consensus, the US is legitimizing “the significant human rights and humanitarian violations perpetuated by the settlements.”

“This effectively grants permission to the Israeli government to formally annex large parts of the occupied West Bank. This will only confirm a one state reality characterized by a rigid two-tier system of legal and political rights, based on ethnicity and religion,” Lynk said. “This would meet the international definition of apartheid.”

Palestinian-American activist and human rights lawyer Noura Erekat expressed to Mondoweiss that she wasn’t particularly surprised by Pompeo’s announcement or what seems to be a sudden change in US foreign policy.

“What Pompeo is announcing is not a rupture in US foreign policy, but a culmination of it,” she said, adding that since 1967 the U.S. has “spoken out of both sides of its mouth.”

On the one hand, the US has maintained, until now, that settlements are inconsistent with international law and counterproductive to the peace process, but “out of the other side of its mouth, the US has provided Israel with unequivocal military, financial, and diplomatic aid in order to continue that settlement process,” Erekat said.

Erekat highlighted the fact that since the early 1990s until today, Israeli settlement expansion has increased by 200%.

“So this is the culmination of what every administration has done,” she told Mondoweiss. “The only difference is that Trump removed the Emperor’s clothes.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, Europe, ZIO-NAZI, Human Rights0 Comments

UK Government Accused of Covering Up War Crimes in Iraq

By Johanna Ross

The UK is very keen at reminding certain countries – Syria, Russia, China – of their human rights abuses and yet, when it comes to looking closer to home, this current government quite frankly prefers not to, and in some cases deliberately try to obfuscate the truth. 

Leaked documents have revealed that not only was the UK army involved in war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s, but Conservative ministers succeeded in covering it up. Military detectives unveiled alleged ‘daily’ abuse dating back as far as 2003 by the Black Watch regiment in Basra as well as more recent crimes such as a 2012 raid on a compound in Helmund Province where three ‘unarmed’ children and a young man were shot dead.

According to the BBC’s Panorama programme and The Sunday Times, the documents suggest that senior military officers covered up the incidents, with the implicated individuals only being questioned briefly on the matters by the Royal Military Police (RMP). It is reported that the Ministry of Defence itself put pressure on the organisations involved in the investigations – the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) and Operation Afghanistan (for Afghanistan) to bring enquiries to a halt.

The government dismissed on Sunday any allegations of a cover-up, with Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab naturally defending the military’s handling of the cases, stressing that the prosecuting authorities for the British military are ‘some of the most rigorous in the world’. But it cannot be denied that this could be potentially harmful to the government at a time when it and its leader, Boris Johnson are accused of being ‘dishonest’.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said that it would be independently investigating the reported allegations and was taking them ‘very seriously’. The BBC said on Monday morning it would be a ‘landmark case’ if indeed the government was to be prosecuted for protecting soldiers from being charged with war crimes.Above the Law: UK Government Drops investigations into Iraq War Crimes

In a further twist, former employees of the now defunct IHAT have said that the reason given for shutting down the organisation was in fact an excuse for ending further investigation. It was closed in 2017 by the government after it was found that Phil Shiner, a solicitor who had taken more than 1000 cases to IHAT, was in fact paying fixers in Iraq to source him clients.

It is important that the ICC does indeed do its own digging as to what was going on with IHAT and the allegations of war crimes by UK soldiers. Otherwise, we may never know what happened. With Brexit, an increasingly right-wing government in power and the mantra being one of ‘Rule Britannia’, the rhetoric has changed in recent years to one of little sympathy for the victims of war crimes and more disgust and dismay that British soldiers should be investigated at all.

Indeed it is somewhat disturbing that for some commentators, the fact whether unnecessary killings have been committed by British soldiers abroad have been carried out, seems almost obsolete. Writing in The Telegraph on Monday, Richard Dannatt says “My heart sank when I read the front page story yesterday about alleged British Army war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Here we go again”, I thought.” Being ex-army, one could argue that of course he will support the military in this argument. But the fact that his views are carried in Britain’s leading right-wing broadsheet, does make one wonder the extent to which this opinion is shared by the current Conservative government, hence the fact that proper investigations have never taken place.

The leaking of these documents does not come at a good time for Boris Johnson, as he battles to retain his position as PM in the run-up to the December election.  And yet for many ‘Leave’ voters, who support his bid to ‘get Brexit done’ it may be nothing more than an irrelevant distraction.  British, or rather English nationalism is on the rise, and Brexit has exacerbated levels of xenophobia and racism not seen for decades in Britain. The questions this issue raises about the government’s lack of integrity, and even of its inherent racism and islamophobia – of which the Conservative party has been directly accused – may not dissuade those who are mainly concerned about Britain leaving the EU.

It is a dangerous state of affairs if we have a government implicit in deceit, led by a lying, cheating Prime Minister, which is not being held to account; a government aiding and abetting cover-ups at home but one which is all too eager to highlight perceived injustices in other countries. And one can be sure that a government which unscrupulous in some areas will be just as underhand in others. It’s a high price to pay for Brexit.

Posted in UK0 Comments

Release of Western Hostages and Prospects of Peace in Afghanistan

By Nauman Sadiq

Three Taliban commanders have been released today, on Tuesday, by the Afghan government as part of a prisoner swap involving two Western hostages. Reportedly, the militant leaders, including senior Taliban leader Anas Haqqani, had landed in Qatar, which hosts the Taliban political office.

In exchange, two university professors identified as US citizen Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks were reportedly released later on Tuesday. The pair had been held by the Taliban for three years.

“The two professors are safely freed and are being taken care of now,” an Afghan official told [1] Reuters news agency.

Kevin King and Timothy Weeks were kidnapped in August 2016 from outside the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul where both worked as professors. They appeared in a hostage video a year later looking disheveled and pleading with their governments to secure their release.

The developments come after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced a week ago that Haqqani, whose elder brother is the deputy Taliban leader and head of the Haqqani Network, a Taliban affiliate, and the two other commanders would be freed.

Renewed efforts to end the country’s 18-year conflict have been stepped up recently, with US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad visiting Pakistan last month to meet the Taliban’s top negotiator, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a close aide to the Taliban’s deceased leader Mullah Omar.

Baradar was released from captivity [2] in October last year by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies and was allowed to join his family in Afghanistan. He was captured in a joint US-Pakistan intelligence-based operation in the southern port city of Karachi in 2010.

His release was a longstanding demand of the US-backed Kabul government because he is regarded as a comparatively moderate Taliban leader who could play a positive role in the peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Alongside the issues of Taliban providing guarantees that it would not allow Afghan soil to be used by transnational terrorists, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State Khorasan, the Taliban holding direct negotiations with the US-backed Afghan government – which the Taliban regards as an American stooge and hence refuse to recognize – a permanent ceasefire and the formation of a mutually acceptable interim government, a few other minor issues, such as the exchange and release of prisoners, removing travel restrictions on the Taliban leadership and unfreezing its bank accounts were on the agenda of the peace talks, before Donald Trump abruptly ended the negotiations in September.

In announcing the cancellation of the peace talks with the Taliban in September, Trump cited a Taliban attack in Kabul in which 12 people, including a US soldier, were killed, though that was only an ostensible excuse because the death toll of American soldiers in Afghanistan already stood at 2,372 in July 2018.US Troops Withdrawal from Afghanistan: Underlying Cause of Friction Between India and Pakistan?

Fact of the matter is that the biggest stumbling block in the peace talks has been the American deep state. The bureaucracy of the Pentagon, the State Department and their mouthpiece, the mainstream media, tried their best to thwart the nuclear negotiations with North Korea and Trump’s Syria withdrawal last year, and their subversive antics are hampering the Afghanistan drawdown too.

Regarding the presence of transnational terrorist networks on the Afghan soil, the al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden has already been killed in a May 2011 raid of the US Navy Seals in the Abbottabad compound in Pakistan and its second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri is on the run. Besides, the number of al-Qaeda’s Arab militants in the Af-Pak region does not exceed more than a few hundred and are hence inconsequential.

Though the homegrown insurgent movements comprising ethnic Pashtun militants, such as the Taliban and its breakaway factions, including the Islamic State Khorasan, are a much larger menace. According to a recent report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the US-backed Afghan government controls only half of Afghanistan’s territory.

It’s worth noting, however, that SIGAR is a US-based governmental agency that often inflates figures. Factually, the government’s writ does not extend beyond a third of Afghanistan. In many cases, the Afghan government controls district centers of provinces and outlying rural areas are either controlled by the Taliban or are contested.

The so-called “Khorasan Province” of the Islamic State in the Af-Pak region is nothing more than a coalition of several breakaway factions of the Taliban and a few other inconsequential local militant outfits that have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State’s late chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in order to enhance their prestige, and draw funds and followers, but which doesn’t have any organizational and operational association with the Islamic State proper in Syria and Iraq.

The total strength of the Islamic State-Khorasan is estimated to be between 3,000 to 5,000 fighters. By comparison, the strength of the Taliban is estimated to be between 60,000 to 80,000 militants. The Islamic State-Khorasan was formed as a merger between several breakaway factions of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban in early 2015. Later, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a Pakistani terrorist group Jundullah and Chinese Uyghur militants pledged allegiance to it.

In 2017, the Islamic State-Khorasan split into two factions. One faction, based in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, is led by a Pakistani militant commander Aslam Farooqi, and the other faction, based in the northern provinces of Afghanistan, is led by a former Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) commander Moawiya. The latter faction also includes Uzbek, Tajik, Uyghur and Baloch militants.

If we take a cursory look at the insurgency in Afghanistan, the Bush administration toppled the Taliban regime with the help of the Northern Alliance in October 2001 in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attack. Since the beginning, however, Afghanistan was an area of lesser priority for the Bush administration.

The number of US troops stationed in Afghanistan did not exceed beyond 30,000 during George Bush’s tenure as president, and soon after occupying Afghanistan, Washington invaded Iraq in March 2003 and American resources and focus shifted to Iraq.

It was the Obama administration that made the Afghanistan conflict the bedrock of its foreign policy in 2009 along with fulfilling then-President Obama’s electoral pledge of withdrawing American forces from Iraq in December 2011. At the height of the surge of the US troops in Afghanistan in 2010, the American troops numbered around 100,000, with an additional 40,000 troops from the rest of the international coalition, but they still could not manage to have a lasting effect on the relentless Taliban insurgency.

The Taliban are known to be diehard fighters who are adept at hit-and-run guerrilla tactics and have a much better understanding of the Afghan territory compared to foreigners. Even by their standards, however, the Taliban insurgency seems to be on steroids during the last several years.

The Taliban have managed to overrun and hold vast swathes of territory not only in the traditional Pashtun heartland of southern Afghanistan, such as Helmand, but have also made significant inroads into the northern provinces of Afghanistan which are the traditional strongholds of the Northern Alliance comprising the Tajik and Uzbek ethnic groups.

In October 2016, for instance, the Taliban mounted brazen attacks on the Gormach district of northwestern Faryab province, the Tirankot district of Uruzgan province and briefly captured [3] the district-center of the northern Kunduz province, before they were repelled with the help of the US air power.

The main reason of the surge in the Taliban attacks during the last several years appears to be the drawdown of the American troops which number only 14,000, and the number has reportedly been further reduced by several thousand even after the cancellation of the peace talks with the Taliban in September, indicating impending resumption of the dialogue process as is obvious from the release of Kevin King and Timothy Weeks on Tuesday.

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