Archive | January 6th, 2020

U.S. imposes visa bans on International Criminal Court investigators

By: Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will withdraw or deny visas to any International Criminal Court personnel investigating possible war crimes by U.S. forces or allies in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The court, which sits in The Hague, responded that it was an independent and impartial institution and would continue to do its work “undeterred” by Washington’s actions.

The Trump administration threatened in September to ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the United States and sanction funds they have there if the court launched a probe of war crimes in Afghanistan.

Washington took the first step on Friday with Pompeo’s announcement.

“I’m announcing a policy of U.S. visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of U.S. personnel,” Pompeo told a news conference in Washington.

“These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent.”

Pompeo said the policy was already being implemented but would not elaborate, citing visa privacy laws.

“These visa restrictions will not be the end of our efforts,” he said. “We’re prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its course.”

Human Rights Watch called the announcement a “thuggish attempt to penalise investigators” at the court.

“Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked,” the group’s Washington director, Andrea Prasow, said, calling on U.S. lawmakers to express support for the court.

In November 2017, the ICC prosecutor requested authorization from judges to initiate an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan since May 1, 2003, including in states where the CIA held prisoners.

Judges are reviewing all material submitted by the prosecutor, and must decide whether or not to authorise an investigation.

With 123 member states, including the entire European Union, the ICC was established in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity when a country is unable or unwilling to prosecute perpetrators. Major powers, including the United States, China and Russia, are not members.

A State Department official said the United States would allow court officials to travel for meetings to the United Nations headquarters in New York.

“Under these measures, we will not interfere with travel to the U.N. for official U.N. purposes,” the official said. The ICC is not part of the United Nations.

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The suppression of the Nazi occupation storms Section (6) at the “Raymond” Nazi Camp

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

51

The suppression of the Nazi occupation storms Section (6) at the “Raymond” Nazi detention center, and transfers all the prisoners

Nazi Occupied Palestine: The occupation forces of the Prisons Administration stormed Section (6) in Raymond Nazi Camp, and transferred all the prisoners in it to Nafha Camp.

The Prisoners and Editors Affairs Authority said in a statement today, Sunday, that the prison administration transferred them in the severe cold, and did not allow them to carry their personal belongings.

In the same context, the prisoners in Raymond announced that they are taking escalatory steps to protest the prison administration policy by increasing the frequency of incursions into their departments and the accompanying violations, in addition to the violations that the female prisoners are exposed to, and in support of the hunger striking Ahmed Zahran.

It is noteworthy that the Occupation Prisons Administration practices severe violations against prisoners and prisoners, including children and patients, as they storm their sections and confiscate their belongings and heating possessions in the winter, and legalize the use of water in the summer, and exercises between the prisons to exhaust the prisoners and overburden them.

Al-Asir Club: 85 Palestinians have been arrested since the beginning of this year

15 Palestinian detainees from occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank

Updated | Weather: Cold, rainy, fresh lows on Wednesday

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on The suppression of the Nazi occupation storms Section (6) at the “Raymond” Nazi Camp

Hezbollah: U.S. forces in Middle East to go home in coffins

By Laila Bassam and Nadine Awadalla,

Reuters

Video Not AvailableUnfortunately, this video is not available in your region.SS-100-202

By Laila Bassam and Nadine Awadalla

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday the U.S. military in the Middle East would pay the price for the killing of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, warning that U.S. soldiers and officers would return home in coffins.

In a speech marking the death of Soleimani and a top Iraqi militia commander in a targeted U.S. air strike, Nasrallah said responding to the killing was not only Iran’s responsibility but the responsibility of its allies too.

But U.S. civilians should not be targeted, he said.

Founded by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1982, Lebanese group Hezbollah is a critical part of an Iranian-backed regional military alliance.

Soleimani, Iran’s pre-eminent military commander, was killed on Friday in an attack that took long-running hostilities between Washington and Tehran into uncharted territory and raised the spectre of wider conflict in the Middle East.

“Fair punishment is (aimed at) the American military presence in the region: American military bases, American naval ships, every American officer and soldier in our countries and region,” Nasrallah said.

“The American army is the one that killed them and it is the one that will pay the price,” Nasrallah said, although U.S. civilians in the region “should not be touched” because this would serve the agenda of U.S. President Donald Trump.

“When the coffins of American soldiers and officers begin to be transported … to the United States, Trump and his administration will realise that they have really lost the region and will lose the elections,” Nasrallah said, referring to the 2020 U.S. presidential vote.

SUICIDE BOMBINGS

The United States holds Hezbollah responsible for the suicide bombing that destroyed U.S. Marine headquarters in Beirut in October 1983, killing 241 servicemen, and a suicide bombing the same year on the U.S. embassy.

U.S. forces withdrew from Lebanon the following year.

In an apparent reference to those attacks, Nasrallah said potential suicide attackers were present in the region in greater numbers than in the past.

Hezbollah has helped establish Iran-backed paramilitary groups in Syria and Iraq and inspired the Iran-aligned Houthis. Together with Palestinian groups and the Syrian government, they are part of what Iran calls the “axis of resistance”.

Posted in Middle East, USA, ZIO-NAZI, Uncategorized, Iran, Iraq, Middle EastComments Off on Hezbollah: U.S. forces in Middle East to go home in coffins

Tehran University’s Mohammed Marandi comments on the murder of Soleimani

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Posted in USA, Iran, IraqComments Off on Tehran University’s Mohammed Marandi comments on the murder of Soleimani

2020 Might be Challenging for Ethiopia, But It Can Count on China’s Help

By Andrew Korybko

Global Research,

Ethiopia is in the midst of historic change but also on the edge of what some observers fear is a looming crisis ahead of the upcoming elections in May. It’s here where the country’s strategic Chinese partner can be of help, not only in sharing its own socio-political experiences, but also in continuing to invest in Ethiopia too.

***

Ethiopia had a pretty rocky year all throughout 2019 as it prepares for elections this upcoming May, which observers are closely following to see whether the ambitious socio-political reforms that Prime Minister Abiy presided over since entering office in early 2018 have enough support to keep his party in power. In order to understand the importance of these elections, the reader must become familiarized with the most significant developments that recently occurred in Africa’s second most populous country.

PM Abiy’s rise to the top has been nothing short of meteoric as this then-41-year-old former intelligence officer was surprisingly elected by the former Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) to be its chairman in March 2018 following the resignation of his predecessor Hailemariam Desalegn in response to a growing crisis in the Oromia Region. That part of the country is its most populous, plus its titular people comprise the largest ethnic plurality in Ethiopia.

It was therefore extremely symbolic that Abiy was elected since his father is a Muslim Oromo while his mother was a Christian Amhara, the first-mentioned group of which had been clamoring for more political representation in recent years while the latter traditionally ruled over Ethiopia until the end of its civil war in 1991. He was then confirmed by parliament as the country’s newest Prime Minister, after which he immediately set out to undertake a broad range of reforms that changed everything in Ethiopia.

One of PM Abiy’s greatest achievements at home has been to remove the terrorist designation from several prominent opposition groups and invite its foreign-based members back to the country to participate in rebuilding its democracy. He also released many of their supporters from prison and eased state control over the media, which has led to diversity of discourse freely taking place in society. Building off of that, PM Abiy promised to hold multiparty elections that observers expect to be the most democratic in Ethiopia’s history.

On the foreign policy front, PM Abiy swiftly moved to make peace with regional rival and former province Eritrea with which Ethiopia had been engaged in a cold war for nearly two decades at that point following a very bloody border conflict from 1998-2000. This rightly earned him the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year and completely revolutionized the geopolitical situation in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea’s decision to stop arming the Ethiopian opposition groups formerly designated as terrorists greatly facilitated PM Abiy’s peace push at home.

Despite having the noblest of intentions, however, PM Abiy’s ambitious socio-political reforms have inadvertently unleashed such ethno-religious and regional violence that Ethiopia had the world’s largest number of internally displaced people last year at approximately three million. The Amhara Region saw a failed coup attempt and the Sidama Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region overwhelmingly voted to become a separate region in its own right, raising fears about a future chain reaction of fragmentation.

PM Abiy’s response has been to promote his national unifying vision of “medemer” (“synergy”) and to rebrand the EPRDF as the Prosperity Party, though crucially without the participation of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that was considered by many to be the ruling party’s core coalition member since the end of the civil war. The TPLF has been extremely outspoken in its opposition to his reforms and refused to join the Prosperity Party.

As the reader should now be able to see, Ethiopia is in the midst of historic change but also on the edge of what some observers fear is a looming crisis ahead of the upcoming elections in May. It’s here where the country’s strategic Chinese partner can be of help, not only in sharing its own socio-political experiences, but also in continuing to invest in Ethiopia too. China is the country’s largest foreign investor, primarily involved in manufacturing through the establishment of industrial parks, and recently completed a regional railway.

The Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railway pairs perfectly with PM Abiy’s structural reforms to truly open up the Ethiopian economy to the rest of the world. Moreover, China has shown that it’s sympathetic to its strategic partner’s problems at the moment by agreeing to restructure some of its debt during this extremely sensitive systemic transition. This contradicts the fake news narrative spread by some foreign countries that Chinese development loans are so-called “debt traps” that result in recipients “surrendering their sovereignty”.

It can’t be overstated just how crucial Chinese assistance has been in Ethiopia’s economic rise, nor how pivotal of a role it’ll play going forward. China started scaling up its investments in Ethiopia following the end of the country’s civil war in 1991 and then after the conclusion of its border conflict with Eritrea in 2000. Each time, the international community wrote off Ethiopia as a “failed state” because of famine, poverty, and war, but China believed in the country when no one else would. Importantly, it invested billions of dollars to prove it.

The end result is that hunger has decreased, incomes have risen, and the country is comparatively more stable than when China first invested there. In addition, Ethiopia also boasts Africa’s fastest-growing economy. China’s investments in manufacturing and infrastructure served as a catalyst for these achievements, which also add subtance to PM Abiy’s pleas for peace by giving Ethiopians a tangible reason to reconsider any reckless moves that might destabilize their country ahead of the upcoming elections or shortly afterwards.

It’s true that Ethiopia is entering 2020 surrounded by a lot of uncertainty, but it’s not anything that China hasn’t been through before. The People’s Republic had to rebuild the country after the civil war but didn’t have any external assistance to help it. Ethiopia, however, can always count on China to share its socio-political experiences over the decades and to continue investing in it through the Belt & Road Initiative. Both of these friendly outreaches increase the odds that stability will prevail and Ethiopia’s regional rise won’t be derailed.

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Why are so many Indians protesting against the citizenship law?

As protests continue in Assam, New Delhi and other areas, Al Jazeera looks at three reasons why people are on streets.

Protesters shout slogans outside the Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi [Rajat Gupta/EPA]
Protesters shout slogans outside the Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi [Rajat Gupta/EPA]

It has been a week of violent protests across India over a controversial “anti-Muslim” citizenship law, which critics say violates the country’s secular constitution.

The law passed last week aims to grant citizenship to “persecuted” Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians – and not Muslims – who arrived in India before December 31, 2014, from Bangladesh, Pakistan or Afghanistan.

The opposition parties argue the law is discriminatory – even the United Nations has said so – and singles out nearly 15 percent Muslim minority among India’s 1.3 billion people.

Although the law has triggered protests across the country, the protesters have different reasons to take to the streets. Here are the three main reasons:

Anger against ‘foreign migrants’

In the northeastern state of Assam, which shares borders with Bangladesh, Myanmar and China, protesters in the main city of Guwahati and other areas hit the streets fearing the new law will encourage Hindus from Bangladesh to settle in the region.READ MORE

India citizenship law protests: All the latest updates

The citizenship law protests began in Assam, where six people have died so far, four of them in police firing as mobs torched buildings and train stations.

Troops were deployed in the state and mobile internet had to be suspended in at least 10 districts. The ban has now been lifted, though the state remains tense.

Assamese say the citizenship law allowing Hindus from Bangladesh to settle there will burden resources and threaten their language, culture and tradition.

In Assam, the anger over the citizenship law follows a contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise that was intended to weed out undocumented immigrants mainly from Bangladesh.

Nearly 2 million people were excluded from the NRC list, who now face a long and arduous legal process to prove their citizenship or be detained or deported.

Residents now fear the new citizenship law will provide protection to Bengali-speaking Hindus left off Assam’s NRC list and leave Bengali-speaking Muslim migrants vulnerable to deportation.

Tripura, another northeastern state, also witnessed protests against the citizenship law.

200 million Muslims fear marginalisation

The second reason why there is deep resentment and anger against the citizenship law, especially among Muslim students, is because the legislation is seen as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda to marginalise India’s 200 million Muslims.

India’s Home Minister Amit Shah has pledged to apply the NRC process nationwide to rid India of “infiltrators” and “termites” as a follow-up to the citizenship legislation, triggering widespread fears among Indian Muslims of being targeted and harassed by the Hindu nationalist government.READ MORE

Meet India’s Jamia women who took on Delhi police in viral video

Since the law was passed on December 12, thousands of Muslims across India hit the streets, responding to calls made by Muslim and civil society groups against the government’s move.

At New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) and Uttar Pradesh state’s Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) – India’s largest minority institution situated 130km (81 miles) from the Indian capital – thousands of students have been agitating against the law.

On Sunday, in near-simultaneous attacks, police in riot gear stormed into the two campuses, firing tear gas shells and launching a baton charge on the protesting students. More than 100 students were wounded in the police action, some critically.

At JMI, multiple videos shot by students showed police smashing their way into the main library and mosque as hundreds of terrified students barricaded doors and hid inside bathrooms to protect themselves.

ANI@ANI

Delhi: Students of Jamia Millia Islamia gather outside the university in protest against #CitizenshipAmendmentAct

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52411:37 AM – Dec 17, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy259 people are talking about this

Various media outlets, including The Washington Post, reported on Monday that at least two JMI demonstrators were taken to hospitals with bullet wounds. 

Dozens of students were detained despite their injury and taken to police stations, triggering a major night-long demonstration outside the headquarters of the Delhi police.

“India’s constitution is against any such law that discriminates on the basis religion, caste, creed or gender. This [citizenship law] is a clear attempt to declare Muslims as second-class citizens,” Anupam Tiwari, a 21-year-old JMI student, told Al Jazeera.

Solidarity protests across India

A third and final form of protests essentially grew out of anger among university students and teachers over the attacks on JMI and AMU.

As soon as photos and videos shot by students under siege at JMI and AMU spread on social media, a rash of protests broke out in universities and colleges in other parts of India, including JMI.

Thousands of students marched on their campuses or on the streets on Monday in solidarity with JMI and AMU students, and to uphold the secular principles of the Indian constitution.

Even the end of the academic session did not deter many students as they forced the cancellation of examinations in several universities and colleges, according to Indian media reports.

Supriya Sharma@sharmasupriya · Dec 16, 2019

Today’s events feel like a blur — till you see this map and realise that it has been an unprecedented day for India.

When was the last time you saw so many protests for the same cause on the same day around the country? #CitizenshipAct https://twitter.com/scroll_in/status/1206617043832754176 …scroll.in@scroll_inReplying to @scroll_inA visual representation of protests across the country.

Follow our #LIVE blogs: https://scroll.in/a/946953  and https://scroll.in/a/946955 

Supriya Sharma@sharmasupriya

Students are protesting across India.

Updated map by @nithya_sub https://scroll.in/latest/947027/citizenship-act-protests-engulf-campuses-across-india-as-students-express-solidarity-with-jamia-amu …

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855:32 AM – Dec 17, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy78 people are talking about this

Solidarity protests are being organised in nearly two dozen cities across India, including New Delhi, the financial hub of Mumbai, Ahmedabad in Gujarat state and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala.

A number of civil society organisations and individuals have also joined the protests in these cities, in what has become the biggest political challenge for Prime Minister Modi’s government since it came to power nearly six years ago.

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Soleimani’s assassination opens new phase for whole Middle East

By News Desk

The assassination of Qassem Soleimani has opened a new phase for the whole region, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has said, calling for attacks on US soldiers and military assets.

The “Iraqi resistance will not let a single US soldier stay in Iraq” after the killing of the Iranian Quds force commander, Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Sunday.

The Hezbollah leader, however, warned against harming any American civilians, as such acts will only play into the hands of US President Donald Trump, adding that every US military asset and serviceman in the region is fair game.

“When the coffins of American soldiers and officers begin to be transported … to the United States, Trump and his administration will realize that they have really lost the region and will lose the elections,” Nasrallah said.

Expulsion of the US from the whole Middle East is a fair price for the murder of Soleimani and other officials, Nasrallah said, issuing a rather grim threat to the US military. The suicide bombers, who had forced America to leave before, are still there – and now they are greater in numbers, he added.

Avenging the deaths of Soleimani and other high-ranking Iranian and Iraqi military officials, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), is the responsibility of not only Iran but of all its allies in the region.

Posted in Middle East, USA, IranComments Off on Soleimani’s assassination opens new phase for whole Middle East

CODEPINK STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO THE HANUKKAH STABBING ATTACK IN MONSEY, NEW YORK

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

December 29, 2019 — CODEPINK is heartbroken and horrified at the latest antisemitic act, the stabbing attack in Monsey, NY during a Hanukkah celebration at the house of Rabbi Chaim Leib Rottenberg. CODEPINK sends love and solidarity to the affected families and all of the Hasidic and ultra-orthodox Jewish communities in America who have been on the frontlines of the dangerous rise in antisemitic hate crimes. 

The Monsey stabbing attack occurred on the seventh night of Hanukkah. It followed eight other attacks in Brooklyn and Manhattan over the past week in which members of the Orthodox Jewish community were punched, kicked and had objects thrown at them. 

Love and prayers are not enough. CODEPINK calls on all people to take action to stem the tide of growing fascism and racism in this country and across the world. Although the Monsey attack was perpetrated by one man alone, his actions are part of a sharp rise in antisemitism that has been encouraged and perpetrated by Donald Trump. 

During Trump’s three years in office, the U.S. has seen antisemitism soar. In 2018, the number of attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions doubled. This is occurring alongside Donald Trump’s association with known White Nationalists such as Steve Banon, Sebastian Gorka, and Stephen Miller, and his repeated use of antisemitic tropes and dog-whistles. In August 2017, in response to Nazis marching in Charlottesville, Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides.” In October 2018, Trump contributed to conspiracy theories that Jews were funding a caravan of migrants from Latin America to invade the U.S. On December  7, 2019, Trump told a Jewish audience: “A lot of you are in the real estate business. I know you very well. You’re brutal killers, not nice people at all. But you have to vote for me, you have no choice,” invoking a centuries-old antisemitic trope that Jews care more about money than other people do. The aforementioned incidents are only a sampling of the antisemitic statements and stereotypes Trump has used since coming into office. 

CODEPINK also condemns the anti-Black racism being incited by some people in response to the Monsey stabbing and the December 10, 2019 shooting in a New Jersey Kosher supermarket, both of which were perpetrated by Black individuals. CODEPINK calls on the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CoP) to cut all ties with Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, who has been leading such incitement against the Black community. 

This rise of different forms of hatred in America—including fascism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, anti-Black racism—is part of a global trend encompassing Brazil, India, Israel, Hungary, the United Kingdom, and other places. That’s why we must work together, across the world, to move beyond prayer and into action to ensure that people of all ethnicities, races, and religions can live in safety and peace, without individual hate-crime acts of violence or the mass violence of wars. This need for a global response is exemplified by the December 28 horrific attack in Somalia, when a truck laden with explosives blew up, killing at least 79 people.

As an organization with numerous Jewish leaders and members, CODEPINK rejects the response being called for by some that synagogues and other places of worship should have armed security. It is only through education, collective solidarity and unarmed community protection that safety can be obtained. 

CODEPINK suggests that people place menorahs or images of menorahs in their windows tonight for the eighth and final night of Hanukkah.

Posted in USA, Human RightsComments Off on CODEPINK STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO THE HANUKKAH STABBING ATTACK IN MONSEY, NEW YORK

Rockets target Baghdad’s Green Zone for second successive night

Police sources say six people wounded after Green Zone and ground near US embassy in Iraqi capital targeted.

Six Katyusha rockets fell in Baghdad, including three inside the capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone housing government buildings and foreign missions, the Iraqi military said.

The three other rockets fell in the nearby Jadriya area, the military’s statement said on Sunday.

Police sources said six people were wounded in the attacks.

Witnesses told AFP news agency two rockets hit near the US embassy in Iraq’s capital hours after the ambassador was summoned over the US attack that killed Qassem Soleimani on Friday.

Sunday’s attack was the second night in a row that the Green Zone was hit and the 14th time over the last two months that US installations have been targeted.

A third rocket simultaneously hit a family home outside the Green Zone, wounding four, medical sources told AFP.

More to follow

Osama Bin Javaid@osamabinjavaid

Breaking: Multiple rockets land in #Baghdad green zone near the #USEmbassy. Sirens from the US embassy can be heard for a few kilometers.
We felt the impact on the outer edge of the green zone.297:51 PM – Jan 5, 2020

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Trump Ordered the Assassination of Soleimani, and the Middle East Prepares for Possible War

By Steven Sahiounie

Global Research,

Qasem Soleimani was assassinated last night in Baghdad by a drone strike ordered by President Trump. The Iranian Commander of the ‘Quds Force’ was killed alongside the leader of the Iraqi ‘Popular Mobilization Forces’, Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, aka Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, along with at least 6 persons.

Regional leaders and analysts feel that Trump has crossed a ‘red-line’ by killing such a high-level Iranian official.  This may illicit a comparable attack on a US official of equal stature. This decision by Trump is unprecedented, and many feel demonstrates his chaotic Middle East foreign policy.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said the Pentagon had taken “decisive defensive action” against Soleimani, and confirmed the attack was on the orders of Trump. He added prophetically, “The game has changed,”

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed revenge while his Defense Minister, Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami, said their response would be crushing, and the Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, called the strike an “act of international terrorism”.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi condemned the U.S. “assassination,” adding that the killing of the Iraqi militia leader was an act of aggression against Iraq and a breach of the conditions under which American forces operate in the country. This killing is the newest in a long line of US actions which periodically cause the Iraqi government and parliament to debate a final ouster of US troops.

Iraqi protestors broke into the US Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday, lighting fires, throwing stones and spraying Anti-American graffiti on the walls.  While the actual embassy was not breached, there was significant fire damage sustained to the outer walls. The protestors sought revenge for the deaths of 24 Iraqi militia members who were targeted and killed by US airstrikes on Sunday, with dozens of others wounded.  The Khataib Hezbollah is an Iraqi militia on the Iraqi government payroll and had fought alongside the US in the defeat of ISIS.

President Trump has blamed the militia, without any evidence presented, for the death of an American contractor, and the injury of US troops in an unclaimed attack at a military base in Kirkuk on Friday.  On Sunday morning, the US forces conducted F-15 airstrikes on 5 facilities in Iraq and Syria which the Pentagon claims are tied to the militia. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed that Trump ordered the strikes.  The Kataib Hezbollah is an Iraqi militia that operates under the umbrella of the ‘Popular Mobilization Units’ who are an Iraqi government–sanctioned home defense force.A New Year and a New Trump Foreign Policy Blunder in Iraq

The protestors could be heard chanting, “Death to America” as they burnt US flags and stepped on images of the US Ambassador. The spokesman for Kataib Hezbollah, Mohammed Muhi said, “We will not leave these tents until the embassy and the ambassador leave Iraq.”

“Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities,” President Trump said in a tweet. “They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!”

The Iraqi interior minister, Yassin al-Yasiri, said in an interview near the embassy that the US attacks had prompted this violence.

“These are the dangerous ramifications of this strike,” he said. “What happened today is the danger that we were afraid of, and that the Americans should have been afraid of.”

Condemnation of the US airstrikes continued as the Iraqi Prime Minister, Abdul Mahdi, announced an official three-day mourning period for the Iraqis killed in the strikes, which he called an “outrageous attack”, and the Iraqi Foreign Ministry reiterated the government’s condemnation of the US airstrikes, and the Iraqi government announced on Monday they would be forced to review its relationship with the US.

The US government and the US media identify the Kataib Hezbollah as a ‘Tehran-backed Shite militia’.  Iraq is a Shite majority, and the Iraqi government is Shite dominated and is aligned with its neighbor Iran both culturally and economically.  The militia is made up of Iraqi citizens, who are fighting terrorism on their soil and have died fighting ISIS.  Trump blames Iran for the Friday attack, but he has attacked Iraq which is hosting US troops, and is supposed to be an ally in the war on terror, killing Iraqi soldiers who have no proven connection to the Friday attack.

In December 2018, Trump visited US troops at a base in Iraq but failed to give any notice to the government in Baghdad, who perceived the arrogant slight as a violation of their sovereignty. In February, Trump announced that he wanted US troops to remain in Iraq to watch Iran, which caused former supporters of the US in Iraq to denounce their presence.  Iraq’s President Barham Salih, a longtime diplomat in Washington, said in March,

“We are surprised by the statements made by the U.S. president on the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq. Trump did not ask us to keep U.S. troops to watch Iran.”

In March the Iraqi parliament debated ousting the US military from Iraq, which fields an estimated 5,200 troops there.

“There is a broad consensus among the various political blocs and national forces to eject foreign presence in all forms,” said Fadhil Jabr Shnein, a deputy in the Iraqi parliament.

Qais al-Khazali, a militia commander claimed the US military presence was intended to serve Israel and not Iraq and called for the US to leave Iraq.

The cancer of the Middle East began with the 2003 invasion of Iraq by President Bush.  The disease that was started has spread and has never received treatment.  Iraq remains a destroyed nation, and the current protestors filling the streets in the thousands since October 1 are demanding electricity, water, schools, jobs, medical care, and security which they have never seen since Saddam Hussein was forcibly removed from office by the US. The US is responsible for the deaths of approximately 655,000 Iraqis as a direct result of the invasion from 2003 to 2006. The US attacks abroad for regime change have since continued, such as Libya, Egypt, and Syria.

The US invasion and decimation of Iraq produced a sectarian divide which the US used as the basis of the new Iraqi version of democracy.  The US imposed a sectarian constitution on Iraq which is the reason the current protesters are in the streets demanding a new secular form of government, which is not run on religious sects and their corresponding parties, as the corrupt Iraqi officials cut up the budget to their advantage, and the determent of the people.

Ilan Goldenberg, former Middle East expert under Obama, and now a scholar with the Center of New American Security, said “Unfortunately, I highly doubt the Trump administration has thought out the next step or knows what to do now to avoid a regional war.”

Marc Polymeropoulos, a retired CIA official and counter-terrorism expert, said “For the legitimacy of the Iranian regime, a forceful response against the U.S. should be expected. The American public needs to understand that we may lose American lives after this act.”

Trump’s critics among the Democrats are fearful this heavy-handed strike may lead to an escalation.

Posted in Middle East, USA, IranComments Off on Trump Ordered the Assassination of Soleimani, and the Middle East Prepares for Possible War

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