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Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Nazi Parliament: Zionism Is Winning in Italy


Anti-BDS Laws and Pro-Israeli Parliament: Zionism Is Winning in Italy

A Mural by students at the University of Cagliari in n Cagliari, Italy.

Italy’s anti-Fascist, anti-military occupation and revolutionary past is being overlooked by self-serving politicians, growingly beholden to the pressures of a burgeoning pro-Israel lobby.

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Italy Ramps Up Weapons Supplies to Saudi Arabia in Spite of EU Calls for Embargo

Image result for Saudi Arabia CARTOON

European countries such as Italy continue to increase arms exports to Saudi Arabia in spite of European Parliament resolutions calling for an embargo on sales to Riyadh in light of violations of human rights and international law in Yemen.

A recent European Parliament resolution which calls for an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia is no deterrent to Italy, which continues to increase its arms sales to the Middle East despite concerns that the flow of weapons is contributing to instability there.

Enrico Piovesana, an Italian journalist and director of the Center for Monitoring of Arms Expenditures (MILEX), told Sputnik Italiathat Italy’s exports have risen dramatically.

“According to the most recent data, for 2016, income from arms exports doubled in comparison with the previous year, from €7.9 billion ($9.4 billion) to €14.16 billion. This figure is even more impressive if we compare it with data for 2014: €2.6 billion.”

“This is significant growth, and the Italian foreign ministry considers it a triumph: in its last report, it said that this sector has finally emerged from the [economic] crisis thanks to the flexibility of its supply.”

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Italy was the world’s eighth largest arms exporter in 2016.

Italy is also third on the global ranking of arms exporters by number of countries to which it exports, Piovesana said.

“Saudi Arabia is the sixth largest client for Italian weapons producers,” he explained.

The non-binding resolution passed by the European Parliament on Wednesday is the third call in two years by EU parliamentarians to enforce EU Council rules on the arms export control and impose an embargo on exports to Saudi Arabia.

On September 5, the UN Human Rights Office issued a report recording violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law which occurred in the two-and-a-half years since Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners launched a bombing campaign in Yemen to overthrow the Houthi rebels who ousted former President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Between March 2015 and 30 August 2017, at least 5,144 civilians have been documented as killed and more than 8,749 injured, according to the UN figures. Some 3,233 of the civilians killed were reportedly killed by Coalition forces, whose airstrikes continued to be the leading cause of civilian casualties.

Giorgio Beretta, an analyst from the Union of Italian Disarmament Associations, told Sputnik that Italian-made bombs are known to have been used in airstrikes on civilians.

“The UN report talks about documentation confirming the use of Italian bombs in civilian areas in Yemen. These are bombs manufactured by the Italian company RWM, which were produced and exported with the permission of the Italian government. Both the Gentiloni government and the previous Renzi government gave permission for the export of these bombs.”

“Some EU countries, such as Sweden and the Netherlands, have suspended the supply of military equipment to Saudi Arabia. Other countries, such as Germany, decided to suspend the supply of weapons that could be used by Saudi Arabia in the conflict with Yemen. The UK, France and Italy continue to deliver supplies. In 2016, Italy delivered nearly 20,000 aerial bombs worth more than €411 million, which is the country’s largest supply of bombs since the end of World War II. It is absolutely clear that this is a political decision,” Beretta said.

Saudi Arabia has become the world’s second largest arms importer after India, with an 8.2% share in the market. While Italy has increased its supplies, they are still dwarfed by the US, which exports 52% of Riyadh’s imports, and the UK, which exports 27%, according to the SIPRI.

“It should be noted that that Italy is not the largest supplier to Riyadh. Trump signed a contract to sell $110 billion million of weapons to the Saudis. But nevertheless, supplies from the EU are important since there are European components in many military systems that Saudi Arabia buys.”

Beretta said that the European Parliament’s resolution and the EU Council’s Common Policy on arms exports are rather toothless in the face of lobbying from arms producers.

“International norms, as well as EU norms, don’t provide for sanctions for those who violate the International Arms Trade Treaty, as well as for those who contradict EU position. This is a big mistake, but it’s not surprising [because] these same countries exerted strong pressure to prevent the introduction of sanctions measures. At the international level, the only competent authority that can actually impose or remove sanctions is the UN Security Council. At the EU level, this is the EU Council.”

“However, there is another way: in the case of Riyadh, if one of the member countries violates the embargo, another country may legally refuse to sell arms to them. For example, if the UK violates this possible embargo, Italy could stop supplying arms to London. It can break the vicious circle. But let’s not forget that lobbyists and large arms corporations will exert pressure and try to prevent sanctions measures for violators of the embargo,” Beretta warned.

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Anti-migrant boat crew arrested for alleged people trafficking in Cyprus

Anti-migrant boat crew arrested for alleged people trafficking in Cyprus
The crew of an anti-migrant boat was arrested Wednesday in Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus for allegedly smuggling 21 Sri Lankans. The boat is associated with the far-right Identitarian movement in Europe which opposes immigration and Islam.

“There are places across Europe … in France, in the UK … which are suffering the consequences of this already… The Islamic religion risks provoking danger, disturbing public order, and upsetting social and cultural values. Natural Europeans are being substituted,” said Lorenzo Fiato, a 24-year-old graduate from Milan, who heads the Generation Identity movement’s Italian faction, as cited by the Guardian.

Nine crew, including the captain, and the ship’s owner Sven Tomas Egerstrom, were arrested and remanded in custody charged with creating and using falsified documents. The crew had reportedly deactivated the ship’s antenna and automatic identification system.

“It was in Famagusta, but we don’t know if it is still there because we can’t locate it,” a marine police officer said. “They have clearly turned off the system. Because it is in Turkish-occupied territory, we can’t do anything about it. We can’t go and find out more.”  

The group alleges that the sailors on board the C-Star were there for training and accuse rival NGOs of bribing the sailors and encouraging them to stay in Europe and apply for asylum. Defend Europe claims five of the sailors accepted the offer while 15 others refused.

“Twenty-one Sri Lankans were on the ship. Some said they had paid smugglers to be taken to Italy,” Faika Pasa, a local human rights activist, told the media“The crew will be held in custody before they are brought to court. It is very likely they will be deported.”

The Defend Europe mission was created by Generation Identity, established in France in 2002, and was crowdfunded online, raising $156,000 from more than 2,000 donors.

The group’s goal was to disrupt what it claims are “criminal NGO search and rescue vessels” as they conducted migrant rescues in the Mediterranean while cooperating with the Libyan Coast Guard to return any migrants they find to the nearest port, effectively preventing migrants from reaching Europe and returning them to human traffickers in Libya.

“Our objective is to collaborate with the Libyan Coast Guard in Tripoli and inform them if we find boats in Libyan waters so those traffickers can be arrested and their boats destroyed,” Italian representative of Defend Europe Lorenzo Fiato told the Telegraph.

The entire mission has been plagued with problems, having been refused docking rights in Egypt

Catania Mayor Enzo Bianco has formally requested Italian authorities prevent the C-Star from docking in Sicily. “They are not welcome guests here as they have come to seed intolerance,” he said, as cited by The Telegraph.


‘Angry town’: French protesters built a wall around hotel set to become migrant center  


“We are glad that the vessel has been stopped and its crew removed as we’ve been providing extensive briefings to authorities in the region, alongside our partners, and viewed the arrival of the C-Star into the volatile mix off the Libyan coastline as extremely unwelcome – and likely to increase the risk of loss of life in the area,” said Nick Ryan, spokesman for Hope not Hate.

Some 2,361 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean so far this year according to figures from the IOM.  

“While the Identitarian movement has always used controversial and confrontational tactics the hiring of this ship is emblematic of a dangerous new confidence within the movement,” Lowles told the IB Times UK.

“This is not the way to solve or address the refugee crisis on the Mediterranean,” he added.

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Chronicle of a Crisis Postponed: Italy After the Referendum

Matteo Renzi

Matteo Renzi assumed the role of Italian Prime Minister on February 22, 2014 as the self-proclaimed rottamatore – the ‘demolition man’ of an inefficient system. After successfully passing a series of laws by means of this very system that lowered social standards, he failed in the attempt at a constitutional amendment that would have accelerated future measures designed to further degrade social standards. In a referendum held on December 5, 2016 a clear majority of 59 per cent rejected the proposed changes. Renzi held on to pass the 2017 budget through parliament but then resigned on December 7. Since then, ex-foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni has taken charge of government affairs.

New elections demanded by the opposition after the failure of Renzi’s constitutional reform are not in the cards for now. There is also no more talk about an imminent collapse of the Italian banking system and a resulting flare up of the euro crisis. In the weeks prior to the referendum media warnings came fast and thick that failure to approve the constitutional amendments would lead to a severe economic crisis. At the same time interest rates and capital flight increased drastically.

Italian Banking Crisis

Palace Revolutions

A similar development took place in the autumn of 2011. In September of that year, a letter from former ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet and his designated successor Mario Draghi to Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi leaked out, in which Berlusconi was called upon to undertake a decisive reorganization of the Italian national budget.

At that time massive increases in interest rates raised the cost of refinancing the accrued debts of the Italian state. Berlusconi stepped down on November 9. His successor Mario Monti assembled a governing team of unelected technocrats and announced radical cuts. Interestingly, this was accomplished via the legal framework for such measures created by Berlusconi beforehand – the relevant law was passed on September 8. The letter from Trichet and Draghi that urged Berlusconi to take the measure was dated August 5 and published in the press on September 29.

Tribunes of the People

When faced with such palace coups and machinations, widespread public fury toward an aloof political class is more than understandable. Renzi knew how to use this anger, and as the ‘demolition man’ was able to delight in great popularity for a time. To be sure, Renzi was not born into the upper ranks of the political class. For many years his father was a small-town councilor before he founded a marketing firm in Genoa, where his son also worked before becoming a full-time politician.

Nevertheless Renzi junior quickly learned the intrigues of the trade. Although he gladly presented himself as the representative of the common people, who strikes fear into those on top, he was, however, never elected by the people, at least not as prime minister. On the contrary, he assumed this post from Enrico Letta, winner of the February 2011 parliamentary elections, whom he forced to resign after Letta suffered a serious setback in the election for the Chair of the Democratic Party. With governmental responsibility achieved via a party factional struggle, Renzi turned out to be a palace-revolutionary technocrat in the mantle of a people’s tribune.

This is a mantle also worn by Beppe Grillo, who is designated by the representatives of the political class as a populist threat to political and economic stability. To forestall such a threat the new elections demanded after Renzi’s resignation were rejected and instead it was declared that despite the failed referendum everything was quite in order after all. Grillo’s Five Star Movement has excellent prospects to emerge as the strongest party in the next elections. In the 2013 parliamentary elections – the movement’s first – it straight away became the second strongest party with 25 per cent of the vote, behind the Democratic Party.

Nevertheless the proposition that Grillo would upend this system is questionable. The authoritarian style with which he leads his movement suggests rather that he could play the cleaned-up populist technocrat just as much as Renzi. Renzi and Grillo represent a type of currently very popular politician who promises fundamental changes but who nevertheless has more of the same discredited policies in mind. Their success can above all be traced back to the lack of a relevant leftwing opposition. Their policies have not only failed in the construction of a halfway solid social consensus, but moreover, they have not even been able to achieve their own economic objectives.

A Mountain of Debt…

The marginalization of the left opposition can be traced back to the support for the governments of Romano Prodi in 1996-1998 and 2006-2008 by Rifondazione Comunista. The aim in both cases was to prevent the return of a Berlusconi government. Both times this goal failed. Instead, Rifondazione shrunk from a party that obtained 6-8 per cent of the vote, to a splitter-party polling just 2 per cent.

A central goal of the first Prodi government was to have Italy – a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957 – participate in monetary union. In order to comply with the conditionality demanded by the Maastricht Treaty of a maximum debt-to-GDP ratio of 60 per cent, Prodi launched a sharp austerity drive, which was continued by his successors. From the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s, Italy’s state debt was indeed rolled-back to 100 per cent from 120 per cent. Despite these cutbacks in the public sector, unemployment managed to decline from an initial rate of 11 per cent to half of that, while the labour force participation rate climbed from 58 per cent to 63 per cent.

The positive turn in the labour market was however not produced by an uptick in private investment, but by the increasing indebtedness of private households. Its share of GDP rose from less than 20 per cent to about 40 per cent. A portion of the demand that was financed in this way flowed out of the country. The balance-of-payments slid from positive into negative territory. Consequently this was accompanied by a corresponding increase in foreign indebtedness.

…A House of Cards

Since 2008, the recession and euro crisis have quashed this labour market success; state debt climbed again, this time to 133 per cent of GDP. If it seemed in the late 1990s that debt reduction could actually be achieved through spending cuts, recent years have shown the opposite to be correct. Not only did the Italian state have to struggle with revenue shortfalls and the costs of rising unemployment, but it was also confronted with a banking crisis.

Due to ongoing stagnation – Italian economic performance remains well below its 2008 level – private households and firms are increasingly unable to service their debt obligations. In 2008 Italian banks had non-performing loans in the value of €117-billion on their balance sheets, in 2015 this rose to €350-billion. This accounts for about 40 per cent of all outstanding loans.

In 2008 Italian banks held state loans in the amount of €100-billion, in 2015 this climbed to €400-billion. A state heavily indebted to banks has little leeway to take crisis-laden banks under its wing – the more so as the room for maneuver is itself legally limited by the rules of the European Banking Union. Early last year, in desperation, a number of banks compelled small depositors to purchase stock certificates, while the Renzi government tried to convince large-scale capital to launch a bank rescue fund. This enterprise managed to assemble only a meagre €4-billion.

After Renzi’s resignation, the successor government set-up a €20-billion fund for the rescue of the world’s oldest bank, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which having a non-performing loan to stock equity ratio of 249 per cent faced an acute threat of bankruptcy. The bank’s attempts to scrape up a relatively modest €5-billion on the capital market had previously failed.

Such amounts cannot begin to tackle the private and public debts that have been accumulated. Without political measures that allow for a massive write-down of debts and that simultaneously guarantee the maintenance of current payments, the Italian economy will remain trapped in a debtor’s prison and stagnation. Should it not be possible to scrape together the relatively few euros required to counteract such an acute emergency, it will be shown that the mountain of debt is in reality a house of cards. What is missing is a political force, which out of the ruins of a collapsed house of cards, can build an economy less dependent on debt and more socially just and ecologically sustainable. •

Ingo Schmidt teaches Labour Studies at Athabasca University and is one of the organizers of the annual World Peace Forum teach-ins in Vancouver. His latest books include The Three Worlds of Social Democracyand Reading ‘Capital’ Today (with Carlo Fanelli).

This article originally appeared in the February edition of Sozialistische Zeitung.

Translation by Sam Putinja.

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The Pope Says Yes to Palestine: Embassy Opens in Vatican


On Saturday Palestine will open its first embassy in the Vatican, a diplomatically significant development in the midst of ongoing threats by President-elect Donald Trump to illegally move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and an international peace conference on Israel and Palestine which begins on Sunday in Paris.

Palestine’s ambassador to the Vatican, Issa Kassissieh, said the embassy was “a significant achievement for the Palestinian people,” adding that Argentine-born Pope Francis had made an important “moral, legal and political stand through recognizing the state of Palestine along the pre-1967 borders.”

Palestine has formal diplomatic missions to over 90 countries and has had official diplomatic relations with the Vatican since 2000.

Palestinian Authority President Abbas will also press the Pope about his concerns regarding U.S. threats to move their embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem, a move which would not only break international law but threaten to entirely scuttle Palestinian Authority hopes for a two-state settlement.

Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki said Abbas is “hoping that the Pope will participate in sending a strong message” to Trump about the dangers of the proposed move.

Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman a Zionist extremist who has said Jewish supporters of Palestine are worse than Nazi concentration camp guards– has publicly said that the U.S. embassy will move to Jerusalem.

Saturday’s inauguration comes as over 70 countries gather in Paris on Sunday for the opening of the first major international peace talks on Israel-Palestine since 2014, when U.S. sponsored negotiations ended in the face of the Israeli government’s continued construction of illegal settlements.

Abbas told a French paper earlier this week that the Paris talks “may be the last chance for implementing” the two-state solution mapped out in 1967 U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 and the 1993 Olso accords.

The Paris talks begin just weeks after a historic U.N. Security Council vote which unanimously condemned Israel’s flagrant violation of international law in ongoing settlement construction on Palestinian territory.

Despite official hopes that the talks might revive the two-state solution- which would see a contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital alongside Israel’s 1967 borders- many Palestinians have declared it long dead, given Israel’s continual refusal to abide by international law and multiple previous peace deals.

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Italian Cambridge PhD student suffered ‘inhuman, animal-like’ violence before his death in Egypt


Italy demands investigation after autopsy reveals doctoral student was tortured for days and his neck broken before his battered corpse was found near a highway.

Phd student Giulio Regeni is believed dead

Phd student Giulio Regeni is believed dead
Shared workspace is an exciting – and growing – way of doing business. Find out more.

By Andrea Vogt, Bologna

An Italian Cambridge University PhD student killed in Cairo was tortured for several days before dying from a broken neck, according to a post-mortem.

Rome prosecutors have opened a murder investigation into the death of Giulio Regeni, whose battered corpse was found near a highway outside the Egyptian capital nine days after he was reported missing.

As new, disturbing details of Mr Regeni’s last days in Egypt emerge, some of the researcher’s former colleagues are asking the British government to join Italy’s demand for an independent investigation

A parliamentary petition requesting a formal statement from the British government has been drafted and will circulate in coming days, said Neil Pyper, Associate Head of the School of Strategy and Leadership at Coventry University.

Giulio Regeni was conducting PhD fieldwork in Cairo

Giulio Regeni was conducting PhD fieldwork in Cairo

“Giulio Regeni’s murder highlights the extra judicial threats still faced in parts of the world, which are a barrier to potentially important research,” Mr Pyper told the Telegraph. “The way to protect our researchers and students is for universities and governments to robustly demand that incidents are investigated and those responsible held to account.”

“Giulio Regeni’s murder highlights the extra judicial threats still faced in parts of the world, which are a barrier to potentially important research”
Neil Pyper

Mr Regeni’s parents arrived in Rome on Saturday with their son’s body, which underwent a second autopsy on Saturday in Rome following the one performed in Cairo after his body was reported discovered Feb. 3 along a motorway on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital. According to the Italian news agency ANSA, coroners are still trying to establish whether the fatal neck injury was due to a severe blow or contortion.

Italy’s ambassador in Cairo said he was devastated by the condition of Mr Regeni’s body, which had more than two dozen broken bones, as well as bruises and burn marks, according to Italian media reports.

Members of the Egyptian police special forces patrol streets in al-Haram neighbourhood in the southern Cairo Giza district

Members of the Egyptian police special forces patrol streets in al-Haram neighbourhood in the southern Cairo Giza district   Photo: AFP

“There is no doubt that the young man was heavily beaten and tortured,” Ambassador Maurizio Massari told the Corriere della Sera.

After reviewing autopsy results, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Mr Regeni had suffered “something inhuman . . . an unacceptable violence.”

A funeral is planned for early next week in the 28-year-old’s native Italian region of Friuli. He had been living in Cairo to do research as a candidate for a Cambridge University doctorate when he disappeared on Jan. 25, the anniversary of Egypt’s 2011 uprising, a day when security forces were heavily patrolling the streets and squares. He had also been attending trade union meetings and had published at least one article in the Italian leftist newspaper Il Manifesto under a pseudonym.

“It happened to Giulio, but it could have been me or my friends Luca or Roberto, who have been to Egypt frequently for the same reasons”
Alessandro Columbu.

“It happened to Giulio, but it could have been me or my friends Luca or Roberto, who have been to Egypt frequently for the same reasons, or anyone really of the so many of us who are passionate about the Arabic language, the Middle East and Islam,” said Alessandro Columbu, an Italian doctoral student who teaches Arabic at the University of Edinburgh.

Mr Columbu, who was classmates and flatmates with Mr Regeni in Damascus, told the Telegraph he is concerned there could be a cover up of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Regeni’s death, especially given Italy’s recent embrace of Egypt as an economic partner and ally in the fight against terrorism.

Mourners attend a candlelight vigil for Giulio Regeni, in front of the Italian embassy in Cairo, Egypt

Mourners attend a candlelight vigil for Giulio Regeni, in front of the Italian embassy in Cairo, Egypt  Photo: AP Photo/Amr Nabil

“Egypt and Italy are friends, and this terrible story exposes a double standard in western European foreign policy: He was abducted by security forces in central Cairo and tortured to death. Unfortunately it takes a white, European to die to expose something that is happening to Egyptians all the time.”

A team of Italian police investigators has been dispatched to Cairo to gather additional information about Mr Regeni’s mobile phone, SIM card and the CCTV images from the area where he was last seen alive.

Fimuicello's Mayor Ennio Scridel delivers a speech during a candlelit procession to honour the memory of  Giulio Regeni in his hometown of Fiumicello, Italy

Fimuicello’s Mayor Ennio Scridel delivers a speech during a candlelit procession to honour the memory of Giulio Regeni in his hometown of Fiumicello, Italy  Photo: AP Photo/Paolo Giovannini

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Telling it like it is: Woman shouts ‘it’s you who created Daesh!’ to Kerry at press conference in Italy


© Nicholas Kamm / Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks next to Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni during a news conference following a ministerial meeting of the so-called “anti-Islamic State coalition” in Rome, Italy, February 2, 2016.

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Italy was disrupted by a cry of protest at his joint press conference with Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni, when a woman in the audience shouted, “it’s you who created Daesh!”

The press conference was coming to an end, when the woman stood up from the public, her head covered up by a black veil.

“It’s you who created Daesh!” she shouted at the two ministers, using another name for the terror group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL),reported the Italian state-owned television channel RAI.

The woman was dragged away from the conference by the Carabinieri.

After meeting with Gentiloni, Kerry said he was convinced that the US-led international coalition would “crush ISIS” eventually. His Italian counterpart expressed much more caution.

“There have been steps forward on the ground with respect to the Paris summit. But no triumphalism is warranted, we must continue the armed effort in Iraq,” Gentiloni said.

He added that in the fight against ISIS “important progress has been made,” although “we are faced with a very resilient organization and therefore we must not underestimate it.”

The protester in Italy is not the first to accuse Washington of midwifing the rise of IS. One former US Marine has blamed the self-proclaimed caliphate on the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“I knew what I was seeing was wrong, I knew it was immoral, I knew it was unjust, I knew it was illegal,” Vincent Emanuele told RT in December 2015,” and “I knew that we would pay severe consequences in the form of the blowback as we are seeing with groups like ISIS.”

In 2012, the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) warned the government that “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria… and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”

The Obama administration made a “willful decision” to ignore the warning, former DIA Director Lieutenant General Michael Flynn told Al Jazeera in August of last year.

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Portuguese Court Demands CIA Agent Extradition to Italy for Rendition Crime


A Portuguese court of appeals has ordered the extradition of a former CIA officer who was convicted in absentia for her alleged role in the rendition of a suspected terrorist.

Sabrina De Sousa could face four years in jail.

The dual American and Portuguese citizen traveled to Lisbon in April with her husband. When she attempted to fly to the Indian state of Goa to visit her ailing mother in October, she set off a travel-alert indicating she was wanted in Italy. Authorities then arrested her and seized the dual citizen’s American and Portuguese passports.

De Sousa was charged in 2005 for her alleged role in the kidnapping of suspected terrorist and Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. More than 20 other Americans including CIA officials were also convicted in the operation.

After Omar’s release, the cleric said he had been snatched off the streets of Milan after leaving his apartment on Feb. 17, 2003. He said he was thrown into a van, and flown to Egypt where he underwent torture including beatings and electrocution.

Judge Sergio Silocchi reads the sentence of the appeal trial on a CIA-led kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect, Muslim cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, at the Milan’s court, Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010.

At the time, De Sousa was registered in Italy as a State Department official at the U.S. Consulate in Milan. However, she was actually a CIA officer.

She maintains that she was chaperoning her son’s ski trip the day Omar was taken. She also says the operation was approved and carried out by higher-ranking CIA officials, who had the backing of Italy’s intelligence community.

She admits she was a translator for the team that led the capture and coordinated with Italian authorities.

Following her charges, De Sousa sued the CIA and the Justice Department for not invoking diplomatic immunity on her behalf. Later in 2009, 23 Americans also were convicted by Italian courts in absentia. None has served prison terms.

During an interview Friday with the Washington Post, De Sousa said she plans to appeal the ruling to Portugal’s Supreme Court.

“I am really shocked,” De Sousa told the Post. “From what I understood, extradition was off the table because it was a trial in absentia. I was not served or told of the charges against me and had zero opportunity to defend myself adequately because the U.S. did not acknowledge the rendition took place and the evidence was classified. Italy also covered all pertinent evidence with ‘state secrets.’”

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Anti-Muslim hysteria: Map reveals extent of fascist revival across EU

FAR-RIGHT parties are on the march across Europe as the unprecedented migrant crisis gripping the continent fuels a surge in support for nationalist movements.

Far-right parties have made significant gains across Europe this year

This shocking map shows how anti-immigration campaigners have enjoyed huge gains in this year’s elections, whilst thousands have taken to the streets to protest against the overwhelming influx of migrants and refugees.

From Greece to Germany and Switzerland to Sweden, far-right protestors and parties have stormed the mainstream of European politics as voters rebel against years of predominantly socialist rule.

In France Marine Le Pen’s controversial Front National came within a whisker of winning control over swathes of the country, whilst the traditionally liberal societies of Scandinavia turned their backs on moderates amid unprecedented migratory pressure.

As 2015 draws to a close, has taken a look at the worrying shift towards the far-right and the inept responses of mainstream politicians which could see the continent once more gripped by fear and intolerance.


Any mention of far-right politics carries dark historical connotations for the Austrians as the nation gave birth to Adolf Hitler.

But extremist politicians have benefited from a surge in support largely due to the ongoing migrant crisis. Austria has been overwhelmed by the flow of migrants in 2015, with hundreds of thousands of people arriving on its borders seeking passage to a better life in neighbouring Germany.

The far-right Freedom Party (FPO) has stepped into the chaotic political vacuum that has ensued, quietly but confidently positioning itself as a protector of Austria’s heritage and borders against the tide of refugees. In late September the party stormed to success in local elections, doubling its share of the vote to more than 30% and securing 18 seats in Upper Austria, second only to the ruling regional conservatives.

In early October the FPO continued its meteoric rise, giving the socialist mayor of Vienna a major scar, securing nearly a third of the vote in what is traditionally one of Europe’s most liberal capitals. They have also consistently performed well in national opinion polls this year, with most carried out since May showing the far-right party in the lead – some by as many as 10 points.

The next Austrian general election will take place by the end of 2018 and the mainstream parties are now facing a major battle to keep the far-right FPO out of power.


The far-right Danish People’s Party (DF) has been so successful in recent elections that it now has the balance of power and could topple the Danish coalition government. The party finished second in June’s general election after securing 21% of the vote and 37 seats in the country’s 179-seat parliament.

Leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl eventually opted to form a ruling coalition with the conservatives, but has recently threatened to “topple” the government by pulling out if there is any attempt to soften its stance on immigration. The head of the deposed Social Democrats has called for a compromise over Denmark’s tough immigration laws, but the DF is so powerful that now seems extremely unlikely.

The party, founded in 1995, campaigns against mass migration and multiculturalism, with former leader Pia Kjærsgaard stating that she did “not want Denmark as a multiethnic, multicultural society”. In 2010 it proposed a complete ban on all immigrants from outside Europe, excluding refugees in need of shelter.

The rise of the far-right in Denmark mirrors a similar situation in other Scandinavian countries, which are sparsely populated and critics say are ill-suited to take in huge numbers of migrants from the Middle East.


The Finns Party (PS) – known as the ‘True Finns’ – has enjoyed a meteoric rise similar to the Danish People’s Party (DP) and is now a major player in Finland’s coalition government. The nationalists became Finland’s second largest political party when they won 17.7% of the votes in April’s general election and entered into a pact with the ruling Conservatives.

Like the DP, the eurosceptic party espouses essentially left-wing economic policies but allied to a hardline stance on immigration. Its leadership publicly denounces racism and discrimination although comments by some of its MPs, including Teuvo Hakkarainen who used an offensive word to describe black people and mocked Islamic calls to prayer.

Founded in 1995 the PS has risen to prominence in recent years because of concerns about immigration. It made its breakthrough to become the third largest party in Finland 2011 – the same year an opinion poll revealed that 51% of its voters agreed with the statement “people of certain races are unsuited for life in a modern society”.


The Front National (FN) party stunned Europe and the world when it stormed to victory in the first round of the French local elections earlier this month. Led by the charismatic Marine Le Pen, daughter of its founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, the far-right party tapped into concerns about high immigration and home-grown extremism in the aftermath of the bloody massacre in Paris.

It scooped an astonishing 28% of the national vote in the first round of the elections, polling first place in six of France’s 13 administrative regions and winning more than six million votes. The party was routed in the second round of voting, but only because Francois Hollande’s socialists dropped out of the running in two regions and urged their voters to back former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservatives instead.

Such a pact between the Labour and Tory parties in the UK would be unthinkable, and underlines the desperation of moderate French politicians who have been outflanked and out-thought by the rapid rise of the FN. Despite the result political commentators have said the momentum remains behind France’s far-right, and Ms Le Pen is expected to make a major push for the presidency next year.

GERMANY For decades Germany has prided itself on the almost complete non-existence of far-right politics in the country. But the recent refugee crisis, and Angela Merkel’s decision to throw open the country’s doors to unlimited numbers of migrants, has stoked tensions and fears that nationalist politics could make return.

Recent opinion polls suggest such concerns are not unfounded, with the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party making huge gains off the bank of anti asylum-seeker statements. The party – whose name means Alternative for Germany – is campaigning under the slogan “Asylum requires borders – Red card for Merkel”. It scored 8% of the electorate in an opinion poll published this month, which marks a doubling in its support since September. At the same time Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats, who have pursued a policy of demonising and denouncing right-wing and populist parties, saw their support slip from 40% to 37%.

Elsewhere the openly far-right group Pegida held one of its biggest ever rallies in Dresden in October, with 20,000 people taking to the streets to protest against immigration. The movement’s attitudes towards immigrants have been repeatedly compared to those of the Nazis, and a speaker at the Dresden rally spoke of his regret that “the concentration camps are out of action”.

This year has also seen a sharp rise in the number of attacks against immigrant housing, according to German charities. The Amadeu Antonio Stiftung and PRO ASYL groups compiled statistics showing that there were 429 attacks on refugee shelters up to the end of October, including 93 arson attacks, compared with 153 attacks for all of 2014.


Greek politics has become a tale of two extremes in recent years as the country battles a crushing economic depression and an overwhelming influx of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from neighbouring Turkey.

Despite electing a radical socialist government Greeks have also voted in their droves for the openly fascist Golden Dawn party this year. The violent group was one of the biggest winners in the country’s September general election, called by president Alexis Tsipras so that voters could have their say on a controversial EU bailout package.

Instead the election served to underline the growing popularity of neo-fascists Golden Dawn, who polled third overall with more than 7% of the vote. After the result was announced its spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, who sports a Swastika tattoo, triumphantly declared: ³Golden Dawn is a movement of power, it is not a protest movement any more.”

Greek prosecutors have accused Golden Dawn of being a criminal gang, not a political party, and most of its leaders stand accused of horrific crimes including murder, armed attacks, money laundering and people trafficking, which they deny.

Ordinary Greeks have been left feeling betrayed by other European countries over a series of suffocating bailout packages, which have stopped the country’s stricken economy from imploding but have also completely stifled any recovery. The country is also on the frontline of the current refugee crisis, with 7,000 migrants arriving on its shores every day. Golden Dawn, unsurprisingly, polled particularly well on the inundated islands of Lesbos and Kos and also picked up a large haul of votes in the Athens region.

With Greece’s economic problems and the migrant situation unlikely to end any time soon, there are fears that Golden Dawn could make a more serious play for power in the future.


Another nation feeling the extreme pressures of the migrant crisis, one in five Hungarians turned to an ultra far-right party in last year’s election. The central European state, which is governed by populist right-wing president Viktor Orban, has built a huge 110 mile long fence along its border with Serbia in a desperate bid to keep hundreds of thousands of German-bound migrants out.

But despite Mr Orban’s hardline stance against immigration, 20.7% of Hungarians voted for anti-semitic Jobbik in last April’s general election. A year later the party won its first by-election in the country, with Lajos Rig beating Mr Orban’s candidate despite sharing an article which accused the Jews of using gipsies as a “biological weapon” against native Hungarians.

The party’s leader, Gabor Vona, later said: ³The mood in Hungary is for a change in government, and with Jobbik, Hungary finally has the force to change the government.”

Jobbik has consistently gained on Mr Orban’s Fidesz party in the polls this year, and has scored as highly as 17% before dropping back to 15% in September. But the party has had a serious effect on the country’s politics – it was Jobbik which suggested constructing the razor wire fence later championed by Mr Orban, and he also followed their calls to deploy the army to the border to deter migrants.

Hungary has built a huge fence to keep out migrants
ITALY As in Greece, Italian voters are faced with economic hardship and a place on the Mediterranean frontline of the migrant crisis. Despite being ruled by the socialist government of Matteo Renzi, it is the far-right Northern League party which has made real strides in recent elections.

The nationalist party, whose candidates have made xenophobic comments towards Roma gypsies and immigrants, secured its best ever results in this summer’s regional elections. Standing on an anti-immigrant platform, the Northern League won the regions of Veneto – with a landslide 50% of the vote – and neighbouring Lombardy.

It also struck a humiliating blow against the ruling socialists by wooing 20% of the electorate in Tuscany, the left-wing heartland of Mr Renzi’s Democratic Party. The Northern League’s eccentric leader, Matteo Salvini, has previously said Roma camps to be razed, called the Euro a “crime against humanity” and even accused Pope Francis of betraying Christians by promoting dialogue with Muslims.

In Veneto, his party ordered officials to clear all refugee reception centres near tourist hotspots, claiming that the the sight of African migrants was having a “devastating effect” on local traders.

Mr Salvini has emerged as the self-proclaimed leader of the country’s political right, stepping into the void left by the downfall of former president Sylvio Berlusconi, and his party will be eyeing up more success when Italians next go to the polls by May 2018.


Opinion polls in Holland suggest that the country’s main far-right party, Party for Freedom (PVV) could be on track to storm to victory at the next general election. Support for the anti-immigration party has risen to record highs this year, with it opening up a cavernous 18 point lead on all its rivals.

On current predictions the eurosceptic group would win 37 seats in the Dutch parliament if there was an election tomorrow, securing around a quarter of the vote in a country known for being governed by coalition. Pollsters say that the party’s popularity is growing outside its traditional working class base, with the number of graduates willing to vote for it tripling in just a few months.

The PVV is run by controversial politician Geert Wilders, who has previously said that Europe should close its borders to Muslims and described the refugee crisis as an “Islamic invasion”. More recently he has supported Donald Trump over his similar proposed policy for the United States, saying he hopes he becomes the country’s next president.

Mr Wilders and his party have preyed on people’s fears over a potentially huge influx of migrants and have positioned themselves as champions of traditional Dutch society. Holland, which has a population of just 17 million, is braced to take in about 60,000 asylum seekers by the end of the year.


Another Scandinavian country seeing a huge surge in the popularity of the far-right, once more largely brought about by the European migrant crisis. Sparsely populated Sweden, home to just 9.5 million people, will take in a record 190,000 refugees from the Middle East this year alone.

Fears over how the predominantly Muslim migrants will integrate into society has seen traditionally liberal Swedes turn their backs on socialist politicians and instead embrace the anti-immigrant Swedish Democrats (SD).

The SD – which wants to close Sweden’s borders to immigrants and has neo-Nazi ties – has seen a surge in support with eight separate opinion polls this year placing it as the largest party in the country. Seven of those have put its support at over 25% – comfortably ahead of the ruling Social Democratic Party.

It is already the country¹s third-largest party, with 49 representatives in parliament, following success in last year’s general election and will be looking to make further gains when Swedes next head to the ballot box on 9 September, 2018.


Even though Switzerland is neither part of the EU nor the Schengen free movement zone, concerns about the ongoing migrant crisis have played strongly on people’s minds. The small Alpine country, known for its chocolate, time pieces and secretive banks, lurched to the right in recent elections as centrist parties haemorrhaged support.

The ultra-conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which has warned of “asylum chaos” in Europe and wants to impose strict immigration quotas, secured its best ever result in October’s election winning 29.4% of the vote. The party’s rise has been fuelled by anger over a number of Switzerland’s bilateral agreements with the EU, including its pledge to take in Syrian refugees as part of the wider quota system agreed by member states.

Swiss media have referred to the result as a “rechtsrutsch,” or a slide to the right and have warned it will isolate the country even further from the rest of Europe. The controversial party was embroiled in a race row in 2007 after it unveiled an apparently racist poster about foreign criminals.

The publicity campaign, designed to highlight the SVP’s proposed policy of deporting all foreign criminals, showed three white sheep kicking a black sheep over a border to the backdrop of a Swiss flag. More than a fifth of Switzerland’s population is foreign, with most having lived in the country for many years but not holding Swiss citizenship.

Posted in Europe, France, Germany, Greece, ItalyComments Off on Anti-Muslim hysteria: Map reveals extent of fascist revival across EU

Italy’s Lega Nord Party Urges Sanctions on Ankara, Riyadh for Funding Daesh

Image result for Italy’s Lega Nord Party LOGO
By Svetlana Alexandrova

The European Union should impose sanctions on Turkey and Saudi Arabia for financing the Islamic State (IS or Daesh in Arabic) jihadist group, instead of extending its anti-Russia sanctions, the leader of Italy’s Eurosceptic Lega Nord party, Matteo Salvini, toldSputnik Wednesday.

A UN Security Council Resolution to counter the financing of terrorism, targeting in particular Daesh, an organization outlawed in a number of states including Russia, was adopted Thursday. The resolution specifies that Daesh derives its main source of income from smuggled oil and obliges all states to oppose this illicit oil trade in the strongest terms. Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said that Turkish companies found to be involved in this illicit oil trade might be sanctioned by the UN Security Council.

“Europe needs to impose sanctions against Turkey and Saudi Arabia instead of extending sanctions against Russia,” Salvini said.

Salvini added that his party does not believe that the Islamic coalition against extremists that was announced by Saudi Arabia earlier this week “will serve its alleged goals because it is the state that supports terrorism.”

Daesh controls large swathes of land in oil-rich Syria, Iraq and Libya. Earlier this month, the Russian Defense Ministry presented evidence showing that Daesh has been smuggling oil across the porous Syria-Turkey border in large volumes.

Salvini is currently in Moscow and is set to meet on Friday with the head of Russia’s upper house of parliament’s International Committee, Alexei Pushkov, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Andrey Klimov, as well as with the representatives of the United Russia Party.

Posted in Italy, Saudi Arabia, TurkeyComments Off on Italy’s Lega Nord Party Urges Sanctions on Ankara, Riyadh for Funding Daesh

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