Is Israel playing a dangerous game in the Middle East?

 

Being at nuclear atomic power and traying to control the middle east, together with the American imperialists, Israel things it can play this game with the support of the US.

In this world nothing seems to mater any more, even if you agree to things through negotiations, nothing is sure that, even if all parties agree, that there would not be a little man that want to interfere in the agreement.

The US, EU, Russia and Iran sitting down in 2015, to negotiate a treaty where Iran agrees on not to develop nuclear missiles, and the US and the EU will at the same time stop the long lasing trade war against Iran. Now Israel who has been the dominant power in the region is not satisfied to play the second fiddle, and will do everything to destroy this agreement, even if they are using their own nuclear weapons to destroy the Iranians. Israel should not forget that the rest of the middle east is not in favor of the policy Israel is trying to put on the Iranians. Israel have to have the US behind its war mangling against the Iranians. At the same time the Iran has a lot of friends who will be prepared to assist the country in their development, which not includes nuclear or chemical weapons. It is so obvious that Israel would like to be the dominant power in the region. It has supported the war in Syria, in Yemen and in other Arab countries.

Israel is already mistrusted in the region, as being the aggressor against the Palestinians and its present government which has not even giving it a thought to negotiate for a two-state solution, with the Palestinians, in the occupied areas. That has sat back the peace process for a two-state solution to zero.

At the same time, with a leader as Netanyahu, which has only shown aggression against the Palestinian people, it will be very difficult to reach a peace agreement in the area. We can only hope for the future that the people of Israel are voting for a more moderate government in the next election, a Government which is prepared to negotiate with the Palestinians for a two-state solution.

 

By alfonso

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The Skripal Affair: A Lie Too Far?

by  Michael Jabara Carley

Canadian historian Michael Jabara Carley summarizes the various arguments in the Skripal case. It shows that the British authorities probably hide some elements and did not hesitate several times to lie to accuse the Russian Federation. He then drew a parallel with an old English scandal, strangely identical to the present case.

On 4 March 2018 it was a nice day in southern England, and the MI6 Russian spy Sergei Viktorovich Skripal and his daughter Yulia stepped out for a stroll, stopped at the local pub in Salisbury, went to lunch at a nearby restaurant, and then took a walk in the park where they collapsed on a park bench. What had happened to them? Did they suffer from food poisoning? Or was Sergei Skripal involved in some dark affaire and the object of a hit by persons unknown, his daughter being an accidental victim? The police received a call that day at 4:15pm reporting two people in distress. Emergency services were despatched immediately. The Skripals were rushed to hospital, while the local police launched an investigation. It began to look like attempted murder, but the police urged patience, saying it could take months before they might know what had happened and who, if anyone, was responsible.

The Conservative government decided that it did not need to wait for a police investigation. “The Russians” had tried to assassinate a former intelligence officer turned informant for MI6. Skripal went to jail for that, but was released four years later in an exchange of agents with the United States. Now, “the Russians,” so the Tory hypothesis goes, wanted to settle old scores. Less than 24 hours after the incident in Salisbury, the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, suggested that the Russian government was the prime suspect in what looked like an attempt gone wrong to assassinate Sergei Skripal. The police received a call that day at 4:15pm reporting two people in distress. Emergency services were despatched immediately. The Skripals were rushed to hospital, while the local police launched an investigation. It began to look like attempted murder, but the police urged patience, saying it could take months before they might know what had happened and who, if anyone, was responsible.

The Conservative government decided that it did not need to wait for a police investigation. “The Russians” had tried to assassinate a former intelligence officer turned informant for MI6. Skripal went to jail for that, but was released four years later in an exchange of agents with the United States. Now, “the Russians,” so the Tory hypothesis goes, wanted to settle old scores. Less than 24 hours after the incident in Salisbury, the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, suggested that the Russian government was the prime suspect in what looked like an attempt gone wrong to assassinate Sergei Skripal.

The western modus operandi is the same in the Skripal case. The Tories rushed to conclusions and issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the Russian government to prove its innocence, or rather to admit its guilt. How was the so-called novichok delivered to London, did President Vladimir Putin authorise the attack, did Russia lose control of its stockpile? The prime minister and her foreign secretary had in effect declared Russia guilty as charged. No objective police investigation, no due process, no presumption of innocence, no evidence was necessary: it was “sentence first, verdict later”, as the Red Queen declared in Alice in Wonderland.

On 13 March the Russian embassy informed the Foreign Office that the Russian Federation was not involved in any way with the Salisbury incident. We will not respond to an ultimatum, came the reply from Moscow. The eloquent Russian foreign ministry spokesperson, Mariia Zakharova, characterised the British démarche as a “circus show”. Actually, Foreign Office clerks must have told Boris Johnson that Russia would not respond to such an ultimatum so that it was a deliberate British attempt to provoke a negative Russian reply. The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, stated for the record that “as soon as the rumors, fed by the British leadership, about… the poisoning of Skripal appeared, we immediately requested access to this [toxic] substance so that our experts could analyze it in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.” After the British ambassador visited the Russian foreign ministry on 13 March to receive the formal Russian reply to the British ultimatum, the foreign ministry in Moscow issued a communiqué: “… The [Salisbury] incident appears to be yet another crooked attempt by the UK authorities to discredit Russia. Any threat to take ‘punitive’ measures against Russia will meet with a response. The British side should be aware of that.” The Russian government in fact proposed that the alleged poisoning of the Skripals should be examined by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague, according to procedures to which Britain itself had agreed when the OPCW was established in 1997.

On 14 March the British government expelled 23 Russian diplomats, and a few days later the Russian side expelled 23 British diplomats and shuttered the offices of the British Council in Russia. At the same time, the British appealed to their allies and to the European Union to show solidarity by expelling Russian diplomats. Twenty-eight countries did so, though for most it was one or two expulsions, tokenism to appease the British. Other countries—for example, Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal—refused to join the stampede. Going over the top, the United States expelled sixty diplomats and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle. The Russians responded in kind with sixty expulsions and the closure of the US consulate in St. Petersburg. Momentum seemed to be building toward a major confrontation. The British prime minister even alluded to the possibility of military action. In the meantime, President Putin weighed in. “I guess any reasonable person [has] realised,” he said, “that this is complete absurd[ity] and nonsense. [How could] anybody in Russia… allow themselves such actions on the eve of the [Russian] presidential election and the football World Cup? This is unthinkable.” In any police inquiry, investigators look for means, motive and opportunity. On these grounds did the trail of guilt lead to Moscow?

Momentum is sometimes like a balloon, it blows up and then it suddenly bursts. The British case against Russia began to fall apart almost from the time it was made. In late March the Russian newspaper Kommersant leaked a British PowerPoint presentation sent to eighty embassies in Moscow [1]. It asserted, inter alia, that the British chemical weapons facility at Porton Down had positively identified the substance, which allegedly poisoned the Skripals, as a Novichok, “developed only by Russia”. Both these statements are false. On 3 April Porton Down stated publicly that it could not determine the origin of the substance that poisoned the Skripals. It also came out that the formula for making a so-called novichok was published in a book by a Russian dissident and chemist, Vil Mirzayanov, who now lives in the United States. You can buy his book (published in 2008), which includes the formula, on Amazon.com. In fact, any number of governments or smart chemists or even bright undergraduate chemistry students with the proper facilities could make this nerve agent. Amongst those governments having access to the original formula are Britain and the United States. The Russian embassy in London noted in a published report that “neither Russia nor the Soviet Union has ever developed an agent named ‘Novichok’.” The report further stated that “While Soviet scientists did work on new types of chemical poisons, the word ‘Novichok’ was introduced in the West in mid-1990s to designate a series of new chemical agents developed there on the basis of information made available by Russian expat researchers. The British insistence to use the Russian word ‘Novichok’ is an attempt to artificially link the substance to Russia.”

The British PowerPoint presentation did not stop with its two main canards. It goes on to refer to “Russian malign activity” including, inter alia, the “invasion” of Georgia in 2008, the “destabilisation” of the Ukraine and the shooting down of MH17 in 2014, and interference in the US elections in 2016. All of these claims are audacious lies, easily deconstructed and unpacked. The referenced events are also unrelated to the Salisbury incident and were raised in an attempt to smear the Russian Federation. In fact, the British PowerPoint slides represent vulgar propaganda, bourrage de crâne, as preposterous as any seen during the Cold War.

As Minister Lavrov pointed out, the Skripal case should have gone for resolution to the OPCW in The Hague. Russia would then be directly involved in the investigation and would have access to the alleged toxin, and other evidence to try to determine what had happened and who were the perpetrators. The British government at first refused to go to the OPCW, and then when it did, refused to authorise the Russian government to have access to the alleged substance, which had sickened the Skripals. That idea is “perverse”, said British authorities. Actually, not at all, it is the procedure laid out in OPCW statutes, to which Britain itself agreed but has refused to respect. When the Russian representative at the OPCW proposed a resolution to the executive council, that it should respect its own statutes, he could not obtain the required vote of approval. The British were attempting to hijack the OPCW as a potential tool against the Russian Federation. Thus far, that stratagem has not worked. On 12 April the OPCW released a report stating that it had “confirm[ed] the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury….” The report said nothing about the origin of the so-called “toxic chemical”. The British accusation against Russia thus remained unsubstantiated.

What I could not understand when I read the OPCW communiqué, is why the Skripals were still alive. The OPCW says that the toxic chemical used against the Skripals was “of high purity”. Was it a nerve agent? Oddly, the OPCW published report avoids a straight answer. If it was a nerve agent, being of “high purity,” it should have been instant acting and killed the Skripals almost immediately. Yet both have survived at the time of this writing. Something does not make sense. Of course, there could be a simple explanation for this puzzling mystery. There may be a simple explanation. On 14 April, Minister Lavrov at a meeting in Moscow provided the answer. The substance used to attack the Skripals was laced with a substance know as BZ which incapacitates rather than kills and takes longer to work than an instant acting nerve agent which kills immediately. The United States, Britain and other NATO countries have developed this toxin and put it into service; the Soviet Union never did so. Traces of A-234 were also identified, but according to experts, such a concentration of the A-234 agent would cause death to anyone affected by it. “Moreover,” according to the Russian embassy in London, “considering its high volatility, the detection of this substance in its initial state (pure form and high concentration) is extremely suspicious as the samples have been taken several weeks since the poisoning,” Could Britsh authorities have tampered with the samples? The public OPCW report gives no details, and refers only to a “toxic chemical”. Nor did the report say that the OPCW had submitted specimens of the substance to a well-known Swiss lab, which promptly reported back its surprising results. The OPCW authorities thus lied when they said that the tests “confirmed” the British identify of the “toxic chemical”. Unless… Porton Down knew that the substance used against the Skripals was a BZ type toxin, and so informed the OPCW, or, unless the Tory government lied in claiming publicly that it was a novichok nerve agent. The British attempted hijacking of the OPCW has compromised its independence, for the public report issued on 12 April is misleading. Moreover, since the BZ toxin is made by the US, Britain and other NATO countries, it begs the same questions, which the Tories put to Moscow: how did the perpetrators obtain the BZ toxin and bring it to Salisbury, did MI5 or MI6 authorise a false flag attack against the Skripals, or was it authorised by the British cabinet or by the prime minister alone? Or did British authorities lose control of their stockpiles? The trail of evidence does not lead to Moscow; it leads to London. A prima facie case can be made that the British government is lying about the Skripal affaire. Suspicion always falls upon those who act deviously, who hide behind clever turns of phrase and procedural and rhetorical smokescreens. British authorities are now saying that they have other top secret evidence, which explains everything, but unfortunately it can’t be publicised. Nevertheless, the British government appears to have leaked it to the press. The Times published a story about a covert Russian lab producing nerve agents and it spread like wild fire across the Mainstream Media. The Daily Mirror put out a story about a Russian secret assassins’ training manual. These stories are laughable. Is the Tory government that desperate? Is the British “everyman” that gullible?

The secret assassin’s manual reminds me of the 1924 “Zinoviev Letter”, a counterfeit document produced by White Russians in Germany, purporting to demonstrate Soviet interference in British elections and planning for a socialist revolution. It was early days of “fake news”. Parliamentary elections were underway in October 1924 and the Tories used the letter to attack the credibility of the Labour party. It was whipping up the red scare, and it worked like a charm. The Tories won a majority government. Soviet authorities claimed that the letter was bogus and they demanded a third party, independent investigation to ascertain the truth, just as the Russian government has done now. In 1924, the Tories refused, and understandably so, since they had a lot to hide. It took seventy-five years to determine that “the letter” was in fact counterfeit. The Tories are again acting as if they have something to hide. It is déjà vu. Will it take seventy-five years to get at the truth? Are there any honest British cops, judges, civil servants ready to reveal the truth?

There is other evidence to suggest that the British narrative on the Salisbury incident is bogus. The London Metropolitan Police have sought to prevent any outside contact with the Skripals. They have taken away a recovered Yulia Skripal to an unknown location. They have until now denied Russian consular authorities access to a Russian citizen in violation of British approved consular agreements. Is there any chapter of international law, which the British government now respects? British authorities have denied access to Yulia Skripal’s family in Russia; they have denied a visa to Yulia’s cousin, Viktoria, to visit with her. Are British spooks grooming Yulia, briefing her to stay on the Tory narrative? Is she being manipulated like some kind of Manchurian Candidate? Have they induced her to betray her country in exchange for emoluments, a new identity in the United States, a house, a BMW and money? Are they playing upon her loyalty to her father? Based on a statement attributed to Yulia by the London Metropolitan Police, it begins to look that way. Or, is the message, sounding very British and official, quite simply a fake? The Russian embassy in London suspects that it is. What is certain is that British authorities are acting as though they have something to hide. Even German politicians, amongst others, have criticised the British rush to indict Russia. Damage control is underway. Given all the evidence, can any person with reasonable abilities to think critically believe anything the Tories are saying about the Salisbury affair?

“They are liars. And they know that they are liars,” the late Egyptian writer and Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz once wrote: “And we know that they are liars. Even so, they keep lying….” Mahfouz was not writing about the British, but all the same, he could have been. Are not his well-known lines apposite to the present government in London? The Tories are trying doggedly to maintain control of the narrative. Stakes are high for if it eventuates that the Tories have lied deliberately for political gain, at the risk of destabilising European, indeed world peace and security, the Tory government should be forced to resign and new elections, called. Then, the British electorate can decide whether it wants to be governed by reckless, mendacious Tory politicians who risk to provoke war against the Russian Federation.

Michael Jabara Carley

Source
Strategic Culture Foundation (Russia)

by alfonso

The old Colonial Brittan and France plus the US are on the go again.

Again, are the western powers lying to the public.

That is how wars have started in 1914 and 1939. Will their be a new one in 2018?

Listen to this explanation of the Russian foreign minister, concerning the poisoning in Salisbury.

Way is it that politician come out with so many lies, to manipulate their people, who have been voting for them, and who have trusted them to lead the country? It is time to asked them to explain them self to the voters in their respective countries.

Way have we an international court in den Haag who has been installed by all international member of the United Nation and convict all those liars and collaborators who want a world-wide war. Such criminals, Trump, May and Macron are not allowed to have power full positions in the world. For me it is incredible how the worlds military powers US, Brittan and France citizens can allow those people to continue to lead us into a nuclear war.

by alfonso

 

On the way to the World War III

04/15/2018

BERLIN – The Federal Government praises the attacks of its closest allies on Syria in violation of international law and reiterates its support for the Western war course. The bombardments on early Saturday morning by the US, French and British forces were “necessary and appropriate,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said. In fact, the attack, which is declared as a punitive action for a poison gas attack allegedly committed by Syrian troops, is a Western power demonstration in the first Middle Eastern country where the West has lost supremacy to Russia. Syria is already the fourth state that the West covers with acts of war contrary to international law; In this way, the Western powers have definitively replaced the law in international politics with the “law of the strongest”. US President Donald Trump had urged to attack Russian targets in Syria as well; The world was on Saturday just before an uncontrolled escalating war between the two largest nuclear powers.

The international law nihilism of the West

The Saturday morning bombing was carried out before the OPCW could at least make an official confirmation of the alleged use of poison gas – a disregard of elemental legal rules that only evidence, not unproven allegations, can trigger punitive measures. In addition, Syria is now the fourth state after Yugoslavia (1999), Iraq (2003) and Libya (2011), which the western powers override with anti-war activities in violation of international law; In doing so, they have finally replaced the law in international relations with the “law of the strongest”. This fact exposes the cynicism of the assertion that international law should be enforced against Russia, as it has taken over Crimea under breach of law. In fact, international law no longer serves the West, including Berlin, as a guideline for its own actions, but above all as an instrument for the delegitimization of – not infrequently defensive – measures by opposing states.

Not for the last time

At the same time, Western aggression increasingly steers towards triggering a war between major powers. Yesterday’s Saturday, a further escalation could only be prevented by the fact that – mainly due to pressure from US generals – the bombing limited to purely Syrian targets and previously communicated to Russia. Especially US President Trump had demanded to attack Russian targets as well. Had he prevailed, the world would be in these hours probably in a barely controllable armed struggle between the largest nuclear powers. Concerned voices even in Trump related US media yesterday openly warned of a third – and probably last – world war. It must be assumed that situations like yesterday will be repeated in the future. Influential US politicians, such as Senator Lindsey Graham, are calling for an aggravation of the aggression against Russia, as Trump most recently. Graham also speculated on the replacement of US generals, whose pressure was due to Moscow being informed in good time of the targets of the bombardment and thus being stopped by self-defense attacks.

Translated from german

by alfonso

The End of International Law?

Do the Western powers hope to put an end to the constraints of International Law? That is the question asked by the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergueï Lavrov, at the Moscow conference on International Security [1].

Over the last few years, Washington has been promoting the concept of « unilateralism ». International Law and the United Nations are supposed to bow to the power of the United States.

This concept of political life is born of the History of the United States – the colonists who came to the Americas intended to live as they chose and make a fortune there. Each community developed its own laws and refused the intervention of a central government in local affairs. The President and the Federal Congress are charged with Defense and Foreign Affairs, but like the citizens themselves, they refused to accept an authority above their own.

Bill Clinton attacked Yugoslavia, blithely violating Internal Law. George Bush Jr. did the same by attacking Iraq, and Barack Obama by attacking Libya and Syria. As for Donald Trump, he has never hidden his distrust of supra-national rules.

Making an allusion to the Cebrowski-Barnett doctrine [2], Sergueï Lavrov declared: « We have the clear impression that the United States seek to maintain a state of controlled chaos in this immense geopolitical area [the Near East], hoping to use it to justify the military presence of the USA in the region, without any time limit, in order to promote their own agenda ».

The United Kingdom also seem to feel quite comfortable with breaking the Law. Last month, it accused Moscow in the « Skripal affair », without the slightest proof, and attempted to unite a majority of the General Assembly of the UN to exclude Russia from the Security Council. It would of course be easier for the Anglo-Saxons to unilaterally rewrite the Law without having to take notice of the opinions of their opponents.

Moscow does not believe that London took this initiative. It considers that Washington is calling the shots.

« Globalisation », in other words the « globalisation of Anglo-Saxon values », has created a class society between states. But we should not confuse this new problem with the existence of the right to a veto. Of course, the UNO, while it declares equality between states whatever their size, distinguishes, within the Security Council, five permanent members who have a veto. This Directorate, composed of the main victors of the Second World War, is a necessity for them to accept the principle of supra-national Law. However, when this Directorate fails to embody the Law, the General Assembly may take its place. At least in theory, because the smaller states which vote against a greater state are obliged to suffer retaliatory measures.

La « globalisation of Anglo-Saxon values » ignores honour and highlights profit, so that the weight of the propositions by any state will be measured only by the economic development of its country. However, over the years, three states have managed to gain an audience to the foundations of their propositions, and not in function of their economy – they are the Iran of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (today under house arrest in his own country), the Venezuela of Hugo Chávez, and the Holy See.

The confusion engendered by Anglo-Saxon values has led to the financing of intergovernmental organisations with private money. As one thing leads to another, the member states of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), for example, have progressively abandoned their propositional power to the profit of private telecom operators, who are united in a « consultative committee ».

« Communication », a new name for « propaganda », has become the imperative in international relations. From the US Secretary of State brandishing a phial of pseudo-anthrax to the British Minister for Foreign Affairs lying about the origin of Novitchok in the Salisbury affair, lies have become the substitute for respect, and cause general mistrust.

During the first years of its creation, the UNO attempted to forbid « war propaganda », but today, it is the permanent members of the Security Council who indulge in it.

The worst occurred in 2012, when Washington managed to obtain the nomination of one of its worst war-hawks, Jeffrey Feltman, as the number 2 of the UNO [3]. From that date onward, wars have been orchestrated in New York by the very institution that is supposed to prevent them.

Russia is wondering today about the possible desire of the Western powers to block the United Nations. If this is so, it would create an alternative institution, but there would no longer be a forum which would enable the two blocks to discuss matters.

Just as a society which falls into chaos, where men are wolves for men when deprived of the Law, so the world will become a battle-field if it abandons International Law.

Therry Meyssan, Voltair

by alfonso

The Iraq War and the Crisis of a Disintegrating Global Order

The following is a statement given by Inder Comar at a side event of the 37th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 15, 2018.

By Inder Comar

Democracy is dying. As we convene to remember the 15th year anniversary of the Iraq War, the fundamental lesson of that war is that our democratic norms are at grave risk when judges and courts fail to hold government leaders accountable for a patently illegal war.

Inder Comar delivers the statement at a side event of the 37th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 15, 2018.

It is impossible to understand the lack of accountability over the Iraq War without understanding the defining crisis of our time. And that is the crisis of Empire; of a disintegrating global order where the rule of law is now being replaced with the rule of might.

Aggression: the supreme international crime.

A crime that was banned at Nuremberg.

A crime which sent Nazi leaders to the gallows.

The prohibition against aggression is a jus cogensnorm of international law, meaning a norm from which no derogation is permitted, and which states are obligated to uphold.

There is overwhelming legal consensus that the United States and the United Kingdom committed the crime of aggression when they launched their invasion in 2003. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan concluded that the US-led war was “illegal” in 2004 and in contravention of the UN Charter.

The Charter only allows acts of violence against another State under two circumstances. The first is in times of self-defense. The second is with explicit approval from the Security Council. Neither circumstance applied to the Iraq War.

There was no Security Council resolution that authorized the war.  Language in Resolution 1441, passed in November 2002, threatening Iraq with “serious consequences” for failure to disarm was not enough.

The U.S. and the U.K. knew they needed a specific Security Council resolution to authorize an invasion. This is plainly evidenced by their frantic attempts to obtain a second resolution immediately prior to the war. That effort was abandoned when it became clear that a second resolution would be vetoed. The U.S. and the U.K. invaded Iraq anyway.

Where would we be if all States acted like this? What would be the purpose of the resolution process? What would be the purpose of the U.N.?

It is also clear the war was not conducted in self-defense. Self-defense is generally an immediate action against an imminent aggression. Iraq, which had been subject to more than a decade of crippling international sanctions, was not in any position to invade the strongest country on Earth. Iraq had no connection to al Qaeda, and had disarmed its weapons program—two truths the Bush Administration did not want to believe, and which they tried to cover up as they pushed for war.

In the 15 years since the U.S.-led invasion, there has been only one serious attempt to hold the responsible leaders accountable for this “supreme international crime.” Private Iraqi civilians who were affected by the war tried to hold Bush-era officials accountable in U.S. courts under a theory of aggression.

However, in 2017 a court of appeals ruled in the case Saleh v. Bushthat former President Bush and other high officials were immune from civil investigation. The appellate court relied upon a domestic law that grants U.S. officials immunity for alleged crimes, including heinous international crimes.

This shows that, in the United States today, international legal obligations are inferior to the protection of government leaders, even when those leaders have committed grave offenses against others.

The Coalition also committed numerous other war crimes during the Iraq War that I would like to address:

o   First, the Member States of the Coalition directed attacks against civilians who were not taking part in hostilities—a direct breach of the Geneva Conventions.

o   Second, human rights organizations, news agencies, and official military inquiries found that U.S.-operated detention facilities used various forms of torture during the occupation.

  • For instance, the torture at Abu Ghraib prison included common physical abuse like punching, slapping, and kicking detainees, as well as arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them.
  • There is a documented history of sexual abuse and rape at the prison.

These acts of torture are grave breaches under the Geneva Conventions. They are war crimes and should be addressed as such.

The U.S. has never prosecuted any high-ranking government employee for these war crimes, including for torture. And in light of that 2017 judgment in Saleh v. Bushthere is virtually no chance that a civil inquiry will produce restitution for victims, or change anyone’s behavior in high office. In fact, just this week, the woman who helped oversee the Bush-era torture program has been rewarded for her complicity and is now the nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency.

A world in which government officials are immune from judicial scrutiny is a world of despotism and tyranny. The essence of the rule of law is that no one is above the law; and that the actions of all people, including chief executives, can be scrutinized by a judge.

Today the rule of law, everywhere, is in grave danger. And we are dangerously close to living in a world where imperial norms are ascendant—even in Western countries.

Fifteen years after the U.S. invasion, what chills me the most has been the rapid acceptance and glorification of Empire in the United States.

In matters of foreign policy, and increasingly, in matters of domestic policy, the American president is totally unaccountable, immune from inquiry, and hostile to inalienable freedoms.

Today, President Trump claims the authority and the power:

  • To invade any country at will, or destroy it completely with nuclear weapons;
  • To assassinate any person with a robotic drone;
  • To gather and collect any and all electronic communications;
  • To hold any suspected terrorist indefinitely, without charge, in Guantanamo Bay;
  • And to disregard preexisting laws, constitutional rights or judicial review.

The powers of the American president today are greater than that of any English king, or any Roman emperor.

Like the ancient Romans, who were fed a steady diet of bread and circus, modern Americans are subject to some of the most pernicious forms of propaganda ever developed. Concentrated media power has resulted in corporate news programming which demonizes Muslims, foreigners, and people of color.

Meanwhile, concentrated economic power has resulted in the greatest systemic inequality of wealth in American history.

And concentrated political power has resulted in a neo-fascist and openly racist Republican Party, and a neo-liberal and systemically racist Democratic Party.

More than ever, Americans accept the slaughter of people in the Middle East in the name of their security. In Bagram, Guantanamo, and elsewhere people are indefinitely detained, without trial, and are subjected to torture.

Imperial garrisons encircle our planet with more than 800 American military bases in 80 countries on every major continent, from Diego Garcia to Okinawa to Rammstein to Samoa to the Azores. Just in the last month, the American Government announced its plans to develop a new class of nuclear weapons, furthering an arms race with the Russians, the Chinese and the North Koreans. It also seeks a 13% increase in its arms budget from 2017.

Not since Rome has the world borne witness to so few controlling so many.

But, “these violent delights have violent ends.” American society—my society—is ever more crippled by moral, ethical and humanitarian crises that routinely shock visitors from other countries.

Students are drowning in student debt, unable to start their careers or build families.

Lack of affordable health care and an addiction crisis is dragging American life expectancy downward. America’s obsession with war has now turned inward, as a gun violence crisis results in the weekly sacrifice of children, to the cult of the Second Amendment.

De facto apartheid keeps power in the hands of a privileged white elite, who have destroyed labor unions, created enemies out of Muslims and blacks, have crippled millions of people into lives of debt servitude and destitution, and who buy and sell their favored elected officials by caprice and whim.

The country that produced the Iraq War 15 years ago is in far worse shape today.

There are three important reasons we need to urgently create accountability for the Iraq War.

First, we must restore an international order based on the rule of law.

Second, we must confront the bias of international law—holding only poor and non-Western countries liable for international crimes, while ignoring the crimes of Western powers. This bias is underscored and exacerbated if the international community declines to investigate and prosecute the Coalition’s crimes in Iraq.

Third, we must provide justice to the victims of the Iraq War.

These three reasons are of course related.

The United Nations was manipulated as a tool to acquire wider support for the invasion—most prominently, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s 2003 speech falsely claimed facts about the Iraqi weapons program. In so doing, the United States abused the United Nations, turning these halls into a house of lies — lies spread to support the annihilation of another member state.

This abuse of the United Nations to further a perverse agenda—an agenda that stands in direct contradiction to the purpose of the United Nations—makes it essential to restore accountability.

Without accountability, we invite future abuse of this precious international system. And we exacerbate the divisions in our world where non-Western crimes are treated with far more scrutiny than those committed by Western Powers. A just world order depends on consistent accountability, for all nations, for war crimes and the crime of aggression. International law needs to be applied equally to all nations.

Without accountability, we leave Iraqi victims to fend for themselves. We fail them—as lawyers, as diplomats, and as ethical beings.

There is a choice facing our species at this very moment. Humor me when I tell you that I have glimpsed our future. And it is a future that is dark.

I foresee a world beset by environmental problems, with numerous species going extinct, with plastic choking our waterways and forests, and with climate change creating global chaos for which our world is simply not prepared.

I foresee displacement and refugee crises, as people flee their homes in the wake of rising seas, more powerful storms, and historic heat waves and droughts—people movements that will make the Syrian crisis seem like a child’s game.

I foresee a world where people, devastated by economic despair, turn to demagogues and authoritarians—as they are already doing—as ways of dealing with the desiccation of their ways of life.

I foresee a world where our democratic freedoms, already withering, are replaced with stark imperial values.

But this does not have to be our future.

There is another way.

And that way begins here, today, with each of us. It begins with imagining a world where the rule of law and democracy are the fundamental building blocks of our shared human rights, our shared freedoms, and our shared civilization.

It begins with us realizing that we deserve to live in a better world than one in which leaders who commit grave international crimes can walk free, while the victims of those outrageous acts are forced to recover in the solitude and pain of trauma.

There is a choice we face—a choice between civilization and chaos.

The Iraq War was the gravest international crime since the Second World War. It was a malicious act committed by leaders of the most powerful country in history, with the full resources of a multi-trillion dollar economy.

We cannot build a civilized future for ourselves and for our descendants unless we build a robust international legal order.

The people who commandeered my country and my government must be held to account before a judge—so that they know, and others may know, that the supreme crime cannot go unpunished.

Help me build that future. Help me in our shared quest for a civilized Earth.

I call today for the creation of an independent international tribunal, with jurisdiction to investigate and indict the British and American leaders who led the invasion, for the crime of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

I call for this tribunal to analyze, impartially, once and for all, the issue of immunity as it relates to grave international crimes.

I call for due process for the accused, that they be advised of the charges against them and be given access to counsel so that they may mount a defense. If convicted, I call for them to serve out their sentences in humane conditions, where they can reflect on what they have done. I call on the tribunal to order restitution to the millions of victims who suffered on account of their conduct.

I call for every nation concerned with justice to open their courts to claims of aggression on the basis of universal jurisdiction. Those who commit aggression, like those who commit torture, slavery, and piracy, are hostis humani generis– enemies of humanity, who may be prosecuted and held to account in the court of any civilized country.

The hope of our shared civilization rests on a renewed commitment to the United Nations and its vision of collective security.  World leaders must settle their disputes through dialogue.

Thus, I urge the Human Rights Council to appoint a Special Rapporteur for the human rights situation in Iraq. I urge the United Nations to condemn illegal acts of aggression, torture and mass killings, including those committed by powerful countries like the United States.

And I ask my countrymen and women, in America, to walk back from the abyss of Empire. We have a special duty to hold our leaders responsible, to make redress to the Iraqi people, and to promote and sustain the global peace.

This is the way back to civilization itself, towards a deep and fulfilling justice that enables all of us to live out our lives in dignity and in peace. This is a future worth imagining and a future worth creating. It starts with justice for Iraq.

Thank you.

by alfonso

100% Non Commercial, Fearless, Forthright & Independent 

“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.” – Gore Vidal, Screening History

“The whole framework of the presidency is getting out of hand. It’s come to the point where you almost can’t run unless you can cause people to salivate and whip on each other with big sticks. You almost have to be a rock star to get the kind of fever you need to survive in American politics.” – Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72

“Around the world, the message received is that, whoever wins [the U.S. election], expect only more of the same – national narcissism disguised as altruism, corporate appeasement, and the arbitrary use of U.S. military and economic might.” – Greg Guma – Toward Freedom magazine

Russia-Baiting and the International Fallout of the Murky Skripal Poisoning Case

By Kanwal Sibal, former foreign secretary of India

 The West would do well to remember that it cannot escape engaging Russia – a formidable nuclear power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council and Europe’s crucial energy partner.

The facts about the Skripal poisoning incident are murky indeed. Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, initially began by claiming that either the Russian authorities engineered this chemical assault on the former Russian spy or that they had lost control over the nerve agent Novichok produced at the time of the Soviet Union and that elements that got hold of it used it in the murder attempt at Salisbury.

But the British have so far produced no proof that the Russians are officially or unofficially responsible for this manifestly outrageous act. They are proceeding on the assumption that Russia has to be the villain, which is a political position, not one based on verifiable facts.

There is a striking disparity between the international tumult that the British government has created over the affair and the unprecedented collective punitive actions they have mobilised against Russia and the less than definitive conclusion the British government has reached about Russian culpability when Theresa May does not go beyond stating that it is “highly likely” that Russia is behind the incident.

“Highly likely” means that the some dots have not been connected, yet the reprisals against Russia assume that they have. British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who spurns the virtues of self-restraint and moderation, has accused President Vladimir Putin personally for this poisoning operation and has invoked Hitler in this context.

Such lack of sobriety only raises suspicions about Britain’s version and intentions.

Russia’s stand

Russia has vehemently denied any role in the Skripal poisoning. Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has pointed out that Britain, as a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, has not followed the procedure laid down by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to deal with cases of use of chemical agents.

According to him, no samples were sent as required to the OPCW and to Russia for investigation at their end about the exact nature of the chemical agent used and its provenance. (The British have subsequently sent a sample to the OPCW).

Putin has asked convincingly as to why Russia would commit such an act just before the Russian presidential elections and months before the Football World Cup event that Russia would host. Russia has faced sports boycotts in the past, be it the Olympics of 1980, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and, most recently, Russian athletes were banned from participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea on account of doping allegations. A Skripal type incident would thus  seem perfectly tailored to provoke a western boycott of the Football World Cup in a bid to “spoil Putin’s party”.

Other commonsensical arguments are being made by the Russian side. Skripal, a Russian spy who worked for Britain, was in Russian custody for six years before he was exchanged in a spy swap and sent to Britain in 2010. This exchange meant that he was no longer of any further use to Russia, having been extracted dry of anything worthwhile. Why seek to eliminate him after eight years, the Russians say, when he could have been eliminated on Russian soil while in their custody?

Putin has also made the point that if it really was a Russian operation it would not have been bungled the way it has been. What makes the incident even more difficult to unravel is that the very existence of Novichok is in doubt as it did not figure in the list of chemical weapons prepared by the OPCW for destruction by Russia. As it happens, Russia destroyed all its chemical weapon stocks by November 2017 under OPCW’s verification.

A deterioration of ties

Whatever the truth behind the Skripal affair, Russia-baiting has become a prime feature of US and European foreign policy for various reasons. Even before it intervened in Georgia and Ukraine tensions between Russia and the West were mounting, be it because of NATO’s eastwards expansion, the narrative that if erstwhile constituent parts of the Soviet Union wanted to join NATO or the EU they should be free to do so and that Russia had no right to object, Russia’s supposed threat to the Baltic states, the positioning of elements of the US anti-ballistic missile system on European soil under the pretext that it was intended to counter the Iranian missile threat, Russian fears that the US was trying to acquire a first strike capability and so on.

Russia’s internal politics had become a source of contention with the West, with Putin accused of curtailing democracy at home, violating human rights, extending state control over the economy and throttling free enterprise. Russia was not considered eligible for a partnership with the West unless it measured up to western standards of domestic political and economic governance. America’s active promotion of democracy in Russia’s neighbourhood, especially in the Ukraine, in the hope that success there would encourage internal democratic change in Russia was not a recipe for earning Russia’s trust. Russia’s intervention in Georgia in 2008 caused by provocations by its then president Mikheil Sakaashvili with encouragement from elements in the US establishment caused a further deterioration of Russia’s ties with the West.

In 2013, the Ukraine crisis erupted with the coup engineered against president Yanukovych with western connivance, leading eventually to Crimea’s annexation by Russia in 2014. This has sharpened political confrontation between the two sides to the point that a Cold War like atmosphere is growing. Russia’s military intervention in Syria to prevent one more regime change engineered by the West in West Asia has exacerbated matters further.

Under Obama the US  conducted itself in a patronising manner against Russia, denigrating it as a regional power and characterising it in Obama’s 2014 United Nations general assembly as a global threat along with the ebola virus and the Islamic State. Following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, in 2014, three rounds of wide-ranging sanctions were imposed on individuals, companies and officials by the US, EU, Australia and Japan, including Russia’s energy sector and banks.

In December 2016, Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds in the US. He also sanctioned GRU and the FSB, the two Russian intelligence agencies for cyber operations. In June 2017 the US Senate passed legislation- signed by Trump in August – that would prevent the easing, suspending or ending of sanctions by the President without the approval of the Congress. This targeted the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, provoking both Germany and Austria to strongly protest.

Continuing the politics of sanctions the UK has, over the Skripal incident, expelled 23 Russian diplomats, the US 60 and others, both EU and non-EU countries, have joined the expulsions that now number almost 150.

Russia has previously retaliated by expulsions of its own, sanctioning individuals in US and Europe, closing some western consulates and its market to western products. It has threatened to respond to the latest round of sanctions.

That the West should continue to demonise and vilify Putin who has been elected again, and cause a virtual collapse of relations with Russia is difficult to understand. The West cannot escape engaging Russia, the world’s largest country with immense natural resources at its command, a formidable nuclear power, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Europe’s direct neighbour and its crucial energy partner.

The policy of sanctions has not brow-beaten Russia into submission and is unlikely to do so. These sanctions  have become an instrument in the hands of the West which controls global finance to conduct a kind of asymmetric warfare against  vulnerable countries, even one as militarily strong as Russia. It is telling that a permanent member of the UNSC is being sanctioned by three other permanent members, reducing the UNSC to a bystander notwithstanding the increasing risk of conflict.The Russian economy is, however, nowhere near collapsing.

Putin has unveiled a new array of advanced weaponry to signal its capacity to defend itself. It has to be a party in any eventual solution to the current crisis in West Asia. Public opinion in the West has been conditioned to look at Russia as a virtually rogue state, which is preventing any sensible engagement with it. Trump had the intention to normalise ties with Russia but the US Congress, anti-Russian lobbies and the mainstream media has made this virtually impossible, particularly as Russia’s purported interference in the US presidential elections has become an issue of intense domestic debate, involving the legitimacy of Trump’s electoral win.

A Britain weakened by Brexit and a British prime minister with a shaky political base find the Skirpal affair handy to gain political popularity and project that Britain remains a “great power”. Britain has artfully and successfully mustered support from its allies, especially the US, to demonstrate that it would retain international clout even outside the EU.

The biggest beneficiary of the intense western hostility towards Russia is China. The more Russia is strategically weakened, the more strategic strength China gains. For India, the free-fall in US/Europe relations with Russia is doubly negative, in that not only China’s ambitions are being served with Russia becoming more dependent on China, but also because of the pressure it puts on us to maintain a dynamic balance between our very valuable ties with Russia and our closer understandings with the West.

by alfonso

US form new rebel army in Syria with massive arms deliveries from the Balkans.

The Pentagon, after seven years of war, shows no signs of halting its massive arms purchases for Syrian rebels in the Balkans.

New plans indicate that the US wants to buy 25,000 Kalashnikov rifles and 20 million cartridges. The Pentagon plans to spend $ 162.5 million on weapons, ammunition, and other equipment in 2019 to arm Syrian fighters, who, as the official reading suggests, are fighting the “Islamic State.” The information is based on a recently disclosed budget report. The amount adds to the $ 2.2 billion already paid by the US for weapons from former Eastern Bloc countries to Syrian fighters [and other Pentagon-backed groups].

This was reported by the Investigative Portal BIRN in September last year. The arming of Syrian rebels with weapons and ammunition as part of the so-called education and equipment program of the United States was almost exclusively about war weapon manufacturers from the Balkans and Central Europe, as the news portal Balkan Insight writes. The Arab news portal Al Jazeera, in cooperation with BIRN, unveiled details about US spending on the continuation of the proxy war in Syria. BIRN tracked more than 20 flights commissioned by the Pentagon leaving the island airport of Krk in Croatia.

The “unidentified military equipment” was shipped to US bases, especially in the Middle East. The pattern of these arms transports did not change in comparison to first revelations in the past year, it is said. The return flights will continue to be operated by the Azerbaijani airline Silk Way. The Serbian Aviation Directorate informed BIRN that a Silk Way flight from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Rijeka in Croatia on October 5, 2017, which overflowed its airspace, received a permit for “transport of weapons and dangerous goods”. The Croatian authorities have refused to confirm or deny whether the flights are carrying arms to Syria.

Expert: Paths of delivered weapons uncontrollable James Bevan, Director of Conflict Armament Research, has documented more than 40,000 items found in the inventory of the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and found that many of them were originally delivered by the Pentagon to its allies. Apparently, there are no mechanisms by which the US can guarantee that war goods will not end up in the hands of terrorists. “The main problem is that giving weapons to non-state actors has very little control over what happens to these weapons,” Bevan said, “especially in a situation like Syria, where we have several competing groups.” “In other words, as someone who provides weapons in this conflict, you really have no control over where they go,” he added. The Pentagon insists that US arms deliveries to Syria are “step-by-step” and are only for certain operations. The new weapons are needed, according to the latest Pentagon budget, to create a force capable of “ensuring a safe environment and fighting ISIS 2.0 and AQ [al-Qaeda].” The equipment will be provided to 65,000 “Vetted Syrian Opposition” fighters, which is meant to mean something like “verified Syrian opposition”. Of the fighters, 30,000 are to be tasked with offensive combat operations, while the remaining 35,000 will become part of the new “Internal Security Forces” whose task will be to maintain security in “liberated areas”. The “Vetted Syrian Opposition” has also been used in the past to refer to Syrian rebel groups in West Syria, which have been equipped by the US with BGM-71 anti-tank guided missiles. These units fought primarily with al-Qaeda-related al-Nusra Front against the Syrian army, which is supported by Russia and Iran. The news portal Telepolis notes critically in a recent report that the US is providing “hundreds of millions in support to opponents of a legitimately elected government and undermining the stability of a country.” Continue US support for YPG The US Department of Defense is currently building a deployment force of 30,000 troops in eastern Syria. Most fighters are recruited from the so-called Democratic Forces of Syria. The unit is led by the Kurdish YPG militia and is itself around 50,000 strong. Through the Syrian Democratic Forces, the US controls at least one-third of Syria’s territory. The US military announced in January that half of the new “Internal Security Forces” – still known as the “Border Guard

By alfonso