I recommended back in November that the WhiteHelmets should get an Oscar on account of their acting abilities

Not sure about Nobel prize but the White Helmets certainly deserve a Hollywood Oscar

Should the Palestinians Seek Justice NOW at the International Criminal Court?

Should the Palestinians Seek Justice NOW at the International Criminal Court?

There is little doubt that the mid-February Netanyahu/Trump love fest at the White House further dampened already dim Palestinian hopes for a sustainable peace based on a political compromise. The biggest blow was Trump’s casual abandonment of the two-state solution coupled with an endorsement of a one-state outcome provided the parties agree to such an outcome, which as so expressed is a result almost impossible to suppose ever happening in the real world. Israel would never agree to a secular one-state that effectively abandons the Zionist insistence on a Jewish state with deep historical roots and biblical validation. The Palestinians would never agree to live in such a Jewish one-state that essentially abandoned their long struggle to achieve national self-determination, thereby gaining liberation from the last major remnant of the colonial era.

With geopolitical bravado suitable for the real estate magnate that he remains, despite the presidential trappings of his formal role, Trump also vaguely promised to negotiate a grand deal for the region that evidently reached beyond the contested territory of Palestine so long locked in conflict, and thus encompassed neighboring countries or possibly the whole region. It is easy to speculate that such murmurings by Trump were not welcomed in either Jordan or Egypt, long favored by rightest Israelis as dumping grounds for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Such added ‘political space’ is attractive from an Israeli perspective, both to ensure that Israel maintains a comfortable Jewish majority if the one-state solution were ever forcibly implemented by Israel. At the same time the prospect of population transfer would allow Israel to achieve a higher degree of racial purity, a feature of the dominant Zionist imaginary long before Israel became internationally recognized as a state.

An inflammatory part of this new political environment is the accelerated expansion of the existing network of unlawful Israeli settlements located in occupied Palestine. Although near unanimously condemned in Security Council Resolution 2334 last December, Israel responded by defiantly announcing approval of thousands more settlement units, endorsing plans for an entirely new settlement, and by way of a Knesset initiative provocatively legalized settlement ‘outposts,’ 50 of which are distributed throughout the West Bank in direct violation of even Israeli law. It is possible that the Israeli Supreme Court will heed anticipated judicial challenges to this latest move, and eventually void this Knesset law, but even if this happens, the passage of such a law sends a clear message of iron resolve by the political forces currently steering Israeli policy never to permit the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.

In these circumstances, it becomes incumbent upon the Palestinian Authority to show the world that it is still alive, and it currently has few ways of doing this. Given these realities it would seem a no brainer for the PA to light up the skies of public awareness of the Palestinian plight by vigorously demanding justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC). After all there is a wide consensus on the global stage that all the settlements, and not just the outposts, are in violation of Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These settlements have for decades served as a major obstacle in the search for a satisfactory diplomatic solution of the conflict. Of course, it would be naïve to expect Israel to comply with an adverse judgment of the ICC, or to participate in such a proceeding in ways other than by challenging the competence of the tribunal, but a favorable outcome would still be of great value for the Palestinians. It would cast Israel in an unfavorable light in relation to the UN, international law, and world public opinion, and undoubtedly encourage the further development of the already robust global solidarity movement.

Yet, despite these circumstances that makes the ICC seem such an attractive option, a PA decision to take this path is far from obvious. The former Foreign Minister of the PA and member of Fatah’s Central Committee, Nasser al-Kidwa, effectively dismissed the ICC option by calling it ‘complicated’ without any further explanation, leaving the impression that the costs of taking such a step were too high. However, the issue is not yet settled as mixed signals are emanating from Palestinian leadership circles. For instance, the PLO Secretary General, Saeb Erekat, in contrast to Kidwa, minced no words in his insistence that the ICC investigate “the colonial settlement regime.”

It seems useful to speculate on why there should be this ambivalence among Palestinian leaders. After all, international law, international public opinion, and even most European governments are all supportive of Palestinian claims with regard to the settlements. Israel remains more defiant than ever, and shows every sign of further expansion, possibly with an eye toward soon unilaterally declaring an end to the conflict, a move that Washington might find temporarily awkward, but in the end, acceptable. At the core of this debate about recourse to the ICC is the tricky question as to whether deference to the muscular vagaries of geopolitics serves Palestinian interests at this time.

Recourse to the ICC: Pros and Cons

The argument favoring recourse to the ICC is almost too obvious to put forward. It would back Israel into a corner. The Netanyahu government is certain to react with anger and concrete expressions of hostility to any such move by the PA. Such a reaction would be widely seen as a convincing confirmation of Israel’s vulnerability to any impartial test as to whether its settlement policies meet the minimum requirements of international law. And most importantly for the PA it would demonstrate that despite recent political disappointments the Ramallah leadership was prepared to embark upon a controversial course of action that displayed political courage, including a willingness to endure expected vindictive acts of retaliation.

Recourse to the ICC would play well with the Palestinian people, especially those living under occupation. They experience daily tensions with violent settler groups and see no future for themselves absent confrontation with Israel. If the PA chooses such a course, it would help restore support for the flagging claims of the PA to serve as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people at the global level. This is turn could lead finally to durable arrangements of unity as between Hamas and Fatah, which would raise confidence levels that the Palestinians were prepared for this latest, difficult stage of their national movement.

The arguments against going to the ICC are somewhat more elusive. There is no doubt that Palestine, recognized by the UN as a state now enjoys the jurisdictional qualifications to participate in ICC proceedings. What is less clear is whether the ICC would be responsive, and able to circumvent technical obstacles, such as finding suitable Israeli defendants. During its 15 years of operation the ICC has been very reluctant to be pro-active except in Africa, and even there it has been recently stung by an intense pushback by African governments and the African Union. The ICC has been reluctant to stir up political opposition in the West, which would certainly occur as soon as the ICC launched a full investigation of Palestinian grievances against Israel.

There is also the reverse problem of ICC action that might disappoint the PA. To appear balanced, the ICC would probably extend its investigation to include allegations relating to indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza. It could then decide that a strong case of probable criminal responsibility attributable to Hamas existed, while allegations against Israel failed because of the inability to establish criminal intent. Although a setback for the PA, such an outcome at the ICC would be internationally criticized as contrary to reasonable interpretations of international law, and be widely regarded as a reflection of political pressures exerted by Washington.

Likely, the PA is most inhibited by the ‘lawfare’ campaign being waged by Israel and the United States. Already during the Obama presidency there was Congressional legislation terminating financial assistance to the PA in the event of any recourse to the ICC. Since Trump these warnings have escalated, including the total suspension of financial aid, the closing of the PLO offices in Washington, and threats to put the PLO and Fatah back on the US list of terrorist organizations. It is evident that the PA is taking these unseemly threats seriously.

There are also PA fears that any ICC initiative would induce Israel to move more quickly toward closure with respect to the underlying conflict, annexing most or all of the West Bank. Such a reaction would both be in keeping with Israel’s tendency to respond disproportionately to any formal action directed at the legality of its policies and practices. Israel is particularly sensitive about war crimes charges, and vows extraordinary measures should any of its citizens be so charged. Now that Netanyahu can count on unconditional support in the White House and the US Congress it would not be surprising to see him use the occasion of an ICC initiative to proclaim Israeli sovereignty over the whole of historic Palestine.

Conclusion

In light of the above, it seems almost certain that the PA will not act take advantage of the ICC option any time soon. The PA is likely to adopt a posture of neither/nor; that is, neither explicitly ruling out recourse to the ICC, nor activating the option. This reflects the reality that the PA is caught between the rock of US/Israel bullying tactics and the hard place of an increasingly restive Palestinian population, being acutely reminded of its ordeal by the grim realization that 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation.

The United States posture, although somewhat more belligerently pro-Israel as a result of the Trump presidency, is really nothing new except in style. Even during the Obama presidency the US opposed every attempt by the PA to rely on international law or the UN to advance its national struggle. Instead of welcoming the use of law rather than weapons, the US Government castigated efforts of Palestine to gain membership in the UN System or to seek even symbolic relief for its grievances in international venues. This turn against international law, as well as against the UN, is clearly a signature issue for the Trump presidency, and not just in relation to Palestine, and this is not good news for the world. ­

This article was originally published on the author’s blog. A version was also previously published in the Middle East Eye

 

 

Good point: Lavrov Deep-Fries Merkel: US Tapped Your Phone, But You’re Whining About ‘Russian Hacking’?

Lavrov Deep-Fries Merkel: US Tapped Your Phone, But You’re Whining About ‘Russian Hacking’?

Russia’s Foreign Minister points out the obvious. Again.

A gentleman and a scholar
A gentleman and a scholar
It’s not even up for debate — Sergei Lavrov is in a league of his own. Russia’s Foreign Minister mutilates NATO press releases  in his sleep and eats Washington soundbites for breakfast — no salt.

As you are well aware, Sergei dropped a payload of painful truth on Mike Pence’s smug, smarmy face during the Munich Security Conference on Saturday. But that was just a warm-up. Pence is a small fish in a big ocean of idiots.

On the sidelines of the Munich conference, Lavrov participating in a meeting with top diplomats from the Normandy Four (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine).

Angela Merkel used this opportunity to lecture Lavrov and the rest of the audience about the dangers of Russian hacking.

You think Lavrov just sat there and took it on the chin? No. When it was his turn to speak, he reminded the entire world that Angela Merkel’s phones were tapped by her “ally”, and that this is a confirmed fact, and that Angela Merkel is a sad puppet:

The German story was shown to be a fact. You know when it happened, several years ago. It was confirmed that top officials had had their phones tapped. And the other day there was a leak showing that the 2012 presidential election campaign in France coincided with cyber-espianage on the part of the CIA. And talking to a journalist today, a CIA representative said that he had no comments to offer.

So I repeat: show us the facts.

So basically Lavrov can check “told Merkel to her face that she’s a miserable witch” off his bucket list.

A true hero. Watch (starts around 6:40):

We love this man:

BBC a major purveyor of fakenews sets itself up as a guardian of the truth

BBC Fake News Reality Check

This is funny BBC sets up team to debunk fake news | Media | The Guardian

Friday 13th January 2017 was the day we learned of the BBC’s ‘Reality Check’, described by the Guardian as a team to ‘debunk fake news’. If you feel that the BBC debunking fake news might be an oxymoron, then we would agree with you, and the reasons are not difficult to identify.

The BBC stated that their Reality Check team:

… will focus on content that is clearly fabricated and attempting to mislead the public into thinking it has been produced by a reputable news organisation.

The immediate implication here is that the BBC considers that as a £3.65 billion major news broadcaster, it is beyond reproach in reporting facts and truth, and is therefore happy to set itself up to monitor and police other news sources for the accuracy of their content.

BBC claims podium of truth

But what could have caused the BBC to have taken this narcissistic and egotistical stance in self-righteousness?

The clue does not take long to find:

False information around big events such as the UK’s referendum on leaving the EU and the US election has been especially rife, with numerous instances of completely fabricated stories, many of which are created with the sole aim of generating advertising revenue from people viewing the stories.

Both Brexit and the election of Trump have, according to the BBC, been beset with fabricated stories. The inference is that stories were so fabricated and so widespread that 17 million Britons were mistakenly swayed to vote to leave the EU, and millions more US voters were misled into voting for Trump rather than Hillary Clinton. Since the BBC has a track record of highly biased support for both the EU and Hillary Clinton we might just see why the BBC would be upset at competition in the world news circuit.

With heady professional passion and an ego the size of a rhinoceros, James Harding, head of BBC News, led the BBC’s rhetoric:

The BBC can’t edit the internet, but we won’t stand aside either … We will fact check the most popular outliers on Facebook, Instagram and other social media. We are working with Facebook, in particular, to see how we can be most effective. Where we see deliberately misleading stories masquerading as news, we’ll publish a Reality Check that says so.

Climbing even higher onto his podium of BBC truthful self-righteousness, Harding added:

And we want Reality Check to be more than a public service, we want it to be hugely popular. We will aim to use styles and formats – online on TV and on radio – that ensure the facts are more fascinating and grabby than the falsehoods.

Thank goodness the BBC has stepped up to be the guardian of truth, and thank goodness that James Harding has volunteered himself to champion and head the new Reality Check team. We can now all sleep much easier in our beds knowing that the BBC and Mr Harding are looking out for truth.

Mr Harding apologies to Leveson Inquiry

Let’s forget the BBC’s own slight weaknesses in the field of truth for a moment and consider Mr Harding. This is the same man who previously served as Editor of Murdoch’s Times newspaper – itself a bastion of truth and respectability, especially in the City and Westminster circles. Well not quite. Poor James was forced to apologise to the Leveson Inquiry into press ‘respectability’, for his role in running the Times news team whilst reporters for whom he was responsible (his statement) broke the law to hack other people’s emails.

Perhaps he didn’t know, perhaps he wasn’t told, perhaps he didn’t care. No matter, he had the responsibility for editorial standards and the professional behaviour of his team. Heaven forbid that similar such dirty dealings would be going on in the vast organisational black hole of the BBC – or even perhaps, a little fabrication of the truth here and there by BBC reporters. It might be me, but I don’t get good vibes for Harding’s claim of the moral high ground in world-wide truthful reporting.

The launch of BBC Reality Check indicated two key things. Firstly, that despite the rampant BBC propaganda supporting and promoting UK, US and European Union political agendas, which they have churned out for years, the work of many amateur journalists, and especially those broadly known as the web-based alternative media, has clearly upset the BBC’s propaganda apple cart. Secondly, the damage has been so great that the BBC has had to launch a counter-attack against free speech.

Understanding the BBC’s role

At this point we should perhaps remember what the BBC says it is there to do. Its ‘Mission’ is to:

enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.

And their ‘Vision’ is

to be the most creative organisation in the world.

Of these two self-proclaimed goals, it is perhaps the latter that has a distinctly ‘scary’ feel about it. The most creative organisation in the world! What does that actually mean? Creating what? In reality, what does the BBC create? It clearly doesn’t create a better world. On the contrary, and as we shall see, the BBC specialises in the dark media arts. Are they there to create truth?

As a propaganda machine the BBC is outstanding. Aside from ‘normal’ news reporting, the BBC has operated BBC Monitoring, part of the World Service Group, since the Second World War.

First funded by the FCO, and now the TV licence payer, BBC Monitoring is still intimately linked to the British intelligence services, especially GCHQ. It employs a team of highly trained language specialists to monitor overseas radio and television broadcasts. Their job is to listen to and interpret what the broadcast message and messenger is really saying. If, for example, there are indications of political decisions or objects hitherto unknown to HM GOVERNMENT, or indications of military movements, threats or internal political strife, then BBC Monitoring flags up their findings and analysis to the secret services.

So innocent people on the Indian subcontinent, for example, may listen in the BBC World Service broadcasts believing that they are listening to friendly transmissions and truthful news from Britain, but in reality the BBC is spying on political, social, economic, and military events in their country. Perhaps India is big enough to look after themselves, but few people realise that the BBC spies on hundreds of countries around the world in this way, and especially those within trouble spots. After all, the BBC likes nothing better than reporting violence, riots, mass shootings, rape, torture and wars.

Enter BBC proxy charity BBC Media Action

Unfortunately the BBC does not just stop there. It also boasts that its ‘charity’ BBC Media Action is “transforming lives through media around the world”, backed up by its mission “To inform, connect and empower people around the world.”

These are heady claims by a charity that is funded by the UK government’s Department for International Development (£14.7m) and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (£4.1m), the US State Department (£0.5m), the Government of Norway (£0.7), the UN (£3.0m), the EU (£2.4m), and receives money from many other NGOs, agencies and change agents.

We must also mention Bill and Melinda Gates. The happy couple, who seem to have a deep interest in helping the world’s poor through population control, vaccinations, and easing in Western banking and debt based financial systems to many poor and thus highly vulnerable countries, have scraped their loose change barrel to give BBC Media Action £4.5m. Why?

At this point, as we probe into BBC media truth concerning Syria, we encourage our readers to read our article ‘BBC Media Action: Subversion from Broadcasting House to Kazakhstan.’

This concise analysis delves into the dark political, subversive and propaganda origins of BBC Media Action, including the ‘Marshall Plan for the Mind’, and sets out its dirty media work amongst the unsuspecting people of Kazakhstan.

We should also note that Juliette Harkin, a former BBC Media Action Project Manager, was kind enough to give a little more than a glimpse into the aims of her work, and thus the real agenda of BBC Media Action, in their Country Case Study: Syria. She boasted that they had been working inside Syria to help foment regime change:

We [BBC Media Action] worked in 2004 with individuals within the ministry who wanted change and tried to get them to be the drivers of that. All media development work that has been done in Syria has, in my opinion, been predicated upon this idea that there can be change from within – you have an authoritarian regime and you find who the reformers are within that (individuals) and you work with them.

Was she aware of what she was doing, was she used, or an innocent in her work, or didn’t care?

Understanding BBC Fake News in Regime Change 

In terms of Fake News, just think what Juliette Harkin’s comments really mean. In both the UK and worldwide, the BBC was reporting the unrest and uprising of the Syrian population against the Assad government, as if it was autonomous.

According to the BBC, Syrians were rebelling, of their own accord, due to their own dissatisfaction with their government. Yet the reality was (and still is) that the BBC was reporting events which it had itself helped to foment from inside Syria.

The BBC attacked Assad at every opportunity, accusing him of every brutal action possible, including gassing his own people, when in fact the BBC was itself actively working inside Syria to subvert peaceful life, and to assist the UK’s clearly stated political aim of regime change. Never mind Fake News – this BBC action is duplicitous, obscene and must surely be a hostile act on an unsuspecting overseas nation state.

Just imagine the furore if the BBC discovered that President Assad had been using teams inside the UK to help oust the Prime Minister David Cameron, on the basis that Syria found him to be an aggressive warmonger – a man prepared, for example, to unleash unlawful bombing attacks on Libya, Syria and Yemen.

Getting straight to the heart of the matter, The Huffington Post’s article Hillary Clinton’s Enthusiasm for Regime Change Wars grips the regime change agenda:

The presumption of dictating to an independent nation the form of its government is so arrogant, so atrocious, that indignation as well as moral sentiment enlists all our partialities and prayers in favor of one and our equal execrations against the other.

Wars for regime change also violate international law. Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter generally prohibits ‘the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state…’ Article 51 creates a narrow exception for wars in self-defense ‘if an armed attack occurs… Regime change wars do not fit that narrow exception.’

Yet Syrian regime change was the repeatedly declared policy of the US, UK and EU from the outset, and these collective Western powers ultimately trained, armed, funded and unleashed the ‘ISIS’ terrorists to fight their proxy war against Assad. Follow the simple path of deceit. Western governments pay BBC Media Action to run ‘projects’ galvanising rebellion against Assad, whilst those same Western governments work in the margins to set up and equip the terrorists which the BBC was to deliberately and misleadingly label ‘moderate’ anti-Assad rebels.

Follow the Government Money

We must surely be fully justified in asking: just who was BBC Media Action to intervene in the internal politics of the nation state of Syria?

The clue to this pernicious action comes from the old adage: follow the money. BBC Media Action claims to be a charity, but we have clearly revealed that in reality it is a paid agent of the Western collective state. It can only have operated in Syria, and against Assad, on the basis that its work would help the underlying UK, US and EU collective governmental regime change agenda.

Clues are not hard to find. BBC Media Action is a major partner of European External Action Service (EEAS), which promotes their project:

Bridging Syria’s divides: Mass media programming and platforms to build resilience and social cohesion to counter violent conflict and radicalism across all sections of Syrian society.

But what does this description really mean? A secondary sentence in the flyer spells it out:

The project will develop and produce radio series relevant to the topic of radicalisation in Syria and entertain dynamic debate.

Here we can see the BBC up to its old tricks: devise and broadcast programming, preferably with the help of innocent local people, which injects the views, values and agenda of the BBC to foment a change agenda in all areas of the target society. By focusing on radicalism and creating ‘dynamic debate’, the real effect is to create discord, unrest and uncertainty. This is insidious and dangerous interference in a nation state, be it Syria or any other.

So BBC Media Action was working to help undermine Syrian social cohesion and inflame those hostile to Assad, and the EU paid them a mere €2,409,751 to do so. That sum was only just one contribution to the cost of this work, and a fraction of their other government and non-governmental agency funding.

European External Action Organisation 

The blatant hypocrisy could not be clearer since the European (Union) External Action Organisation declares that:

it is the European Union’s diplomatic service, which helps the EU’s foreign affairs chief – the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – carry out the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy.

In this one example BBC Media Action was thus paid to help further the political agenda of the EU, and that agenda was, and remains, Syrian regime change.

The EEAS website reveals a string of other EU-backed political projects to further the anti-Assad agenda:

– Supporting transition towards democracy in Syria through preparing for a[n] engendered constitution building process. The overall objective of the action is to contribute to a democratic transition in Syria inclusive of gender equality.

– Strengthening social cohesion for a democratic and inclusive Syrian civil society. To enable key individuals and community based groups from Syrian civil society to undertake community capacity building in key sectors to foster an effective future transition process in post-conflict Syria.

– Supporting Syrian professionals to prepare for leading roles in a future transition to a peaceful, democratic and inclusive Syria. Qualified Syrians will be enabled to become key actors in a future transition process and are willing and capable to contribute actively in the fields of transitional justice, security sector reform, urban planning and local administration. Exchanges with experts from within the EU are established.

– Promoting social cohesion and moderate voice in Syria. To provide Syrian civil society actors with a tailor-made approach for supporting new and existing initiatives through capacity building, networking, sub grants and continual mentoring to promote social cohesion and non-violent mobilisation and to amplify moderate narratives.

The list — for a number of different executing agencies (alongside BBC Media Action) — goes on, with a never-ending supply of EU funding to drive the agenda. The last of the above programmes is funded to over €1 million by the EU.

Syrian Regime Change aka Transition

Whilst these EU programmes are sold in terms of humanitarian need and aid to help people and society,  the language reveals much more. Transition is a key word. The inference is that selected Syrian professionals will be trained to become EU actors to help drive (transform) Syria towards an EU style society – a new sociopolitical economic society and order that will completely replace traditional Syria lifestyles.

Only yesterday, EU High Representative Frederica Mogherini announced that she will host an international conference in Brussels on the future of Syria and the region. The announcement came following the first meeting in 2017 of EU foreign ministers, which she herself chaired. Mogherini’s weasel words contained a repeated theme, and that was ‘transition’. Her conference, for example, would have two main objectives:

on the one side taking stock of the implementation of commitments of the donor community at the London conference, on which the EU has delivered in full [here, we may ask, is she talking the donation of aid or bombs or both?] … most of all it will be a political conference, hoping that could be the moment for the international community to together turn the page and start the political transition, the reconciliation process and the reconstruction of Syria.

Against this background of very dirty political ‘soft power’ by the West in Syria, the BBC flooded UK and world news with highly biased Syrian news describing how “dictator” Assad murdered babies, used chemical weapons against his own people and murdered all those that opposed him. As we have already stated, this BBC propaganda was supported with descriptions of the Western-backed terrorists and their sadistic killing machine as ‘moderate rebels’ suffering under that very same brutal dictator, Assad.

BBC shocked at desire for profit

Let’s go back to the BBC and Mr Harding’s Reality Check, and remember that he described his concern over:

numerous instances of completely fabricated stories, many of which are created with the sole aim of generating advertising revenue from people viewing the stories.

The key point of interest here is his theatrical shock horror that other media outlets might want to generate advertising revenue from their stories. If the BBC is a £3.65 billion media machine working hand in glove with the UK government and intelligence services, then consider also the existence of the £1.1 billion BBC Worldwide, and £91 million BBC Global News Ltd. All supported by the bully boy muscle of Capita, which does the heavy door-to-door collections should anyone dare not to pay their BBC licence fee in the UK.

Mr Harding acts as if the BBC is a non-profit organisation. Far from it; BBC money and resources, such as pension funds, have been used to create the slick BBC Worldwide corporate media empire, which has profits of some £156 million. Not bad on the back of public money collected by Capita for, yes, you’ve guessed it, profit. BBC Global News has not yet delivered the cash cow, and profits are slim, but give it time.

So against this big money and big profit background, are we to assume then that these BBC companies are so squeaky clean that they will not spin facts to create the best profit-making story?

BBC Reality Check

Hopefully, the BBC’s Reality Check team will read this article. I would very much like them to challenge our investigation into the dirty dealings of the BBC, and their skewed political reporting which has been particularly prevalent in war zones worldwide:

Afghanistan (no mention of the US & UK involvement in the opium poppy drug trade);
Libya (no professional investigation of the funding, training and arming of terrorists by the UK and US to help assert regime change);
Syria (no real investigation of anything – just the regurgitation of UK, US and EU anti-Assad anti-government propaganda);
Yemen (where the BBC has also failed to investigate this UK- and US-created civil war and their funding, training and arms, which features particularly vile military brutality by the British government’s old friend Saudi Arabia).

BBC Reality Check Oxymoron

I encourage readers to watch and read reports by Vanessa Beeley, who has reported the facts from Syria and Aleppo. Her work has established without doubt that BBC reports on the Syrian conflict have ranged from poor to deliberately misleading Fake News.

Taking a ‘Reality Check’, it is apparent the BBC is a master of propaganda, and its duplicitous senior management is happy to betray the thousands of staff who still believe they work for a trustworthy, truthful and reliable organisation, along with the wider viewing and listening public. For the BBC to suggest it is the guardian of media truth is indeed an oxymoron.

israel’s chemical war on Palestine

Study: ‘Israel is Poisoning Palestine’ and Children Are First Victim

 

Poisonous gases sprayed on Palestinian farms and their effects appearing on the crops. (Mohammed Asad, MEMO, file)

Palestinians in the West Bank are facing serious human rights violations and increasing food insecurity as a result of the use of toxic pesticides in illegal settlements, a fact-finding mission, cited by MEMO, has revealed.

A joint research project carried out by the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (APN) and the PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) found that the occupied West Bank contains highly hazardous pesticides, which are banned by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Half of the pesticides used within the areas under the PA’s jurisdiction are illegal, and five tonnes of them have been confiscated since 1995, according to the findings.

Dr. Meriel Watts, who took part in preparing the report, warned that the Israeli policies of control prevent the PA from restricting the trade and use of these pesticides.

 

“It is unacceptable that the PA, with one of the tightest pesticide registration and compliance systems, including not allowing pesticides that are banned in their country of origin, is thwarted at every turn by the Israeli authorities who knowingly facilitate the entry of banned highly hazardous pesticides into the occupied West Bank.”

The Palestinian residents, particularly children, living in villages and cities near Israeli chemical waste-producing settlements are exposed to contaminated soil and drinking water, and mosquito-borne, respiratory and eye diseases, the report added.

To highlight the issue on a global scale, the organisations launched an online petition entitled “Stop Poisoning Palestine” on World Social Justice Day, 20 February.

British Foreign Policy and the UK Weapons Trade

British Foreign Policy and the UK Weapons Trade

By Matthew JAMISON | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.02.2017

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By Matthew JAMISON | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.02.2017

Back in the halcyon days of the election of the first Labour Government in Britain in over 18 years, the New Labour Foreign Secretary Robin Cook expounded a radical shift in British foreign policy making, declaring that the Labour Government of Tony Blair would put human rights at the heart of it’s foreign policy with an «ethical dimension». This was quickly christened by the British media as New Labour’s «ethical foreign policy». Questions were raised at the time how a country with such a large weapons export industry could conduct an ethical foreign policy and that question is as pertinent today as it was back in 1997. In his party conference speech, the first as British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, paid ritual homage as many British Foreign Secretaries have before him, to his belief in human rights and reflected that: «After a long post-war period in which the world was broadly getting more peaceful the number of deaths in conflict has risen from 49,000 in 2010 to 167,000 last year».

Sadly, Britain has contributed to many of these deaths. According to a study carried out with official UK Government figures by the Independent newspaper, Britain is now the second largest exporter of arms around the world, and according to Freedom House since 2010 has sold weapons to 39 of the 51 countries ranked by Freedom House as «not free». What is even more disturbing is that out of the 30 countries ranked on the British Government’s own human rights watch list, the British Government authorizes the sale of weapons to 22 of those. Indeed, according to statistics from the UK Government’s own Trade and Investment body the UK has sold more weapons on average over the last ten years than Russia, China and France combined. All exports of British manufactured bombs, bullets, weapons and other munitions must be signed off and approved by UK Government Ministers with licenses granted.

Most of these arms are sold to Middle Eastern regimes, which have serious human rights issues, if one were to apply the standards the UK Government sets on human rights. In 2016 alone Britain sold over 3 billion pounds worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia. It is odd how the British Government which constantly lectures other countries on their human rights records can sell weapons of mass destruction to regimes like the Saudis who carry out routine be-headings and lashings of their own citizens as part of their penal code; subject women to severe restrictions such as forbidding them to drive; provide funding to Madrassas that indoctrinate and radicalise young Muslims in the ways of jihad etc. The list of human rights violations could go on. But the British Government, despite wrapping itself in the language of human rights, feels very comfortable within its own «ethical conscience» in allowing shipments of British manufactured BL-755 cluster munitions to be used by the Saudi Government in its war in Yemen. Unexploded remnants of cluster munitions have proved deadly for Yemenis, killing or injuring at least 85 civilians, including children.

Since March 2015, the UK Government has approved £3.3 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia, yet in November, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office concluded, despite considerable evidence to the contrary, that there was no «clear risk» of serious Saudi breaches of international humanitarian law in Yemen. The British Government has continued to sell arms to Saudi Arabia despite the Saudi Government’s vastly different approach and record regarding human rights which is incompatible with the British Government’s professed commitment to «universal human rights» and the problems that emanate from Saudi Arabia regarding Islamist extremist terrorism and radicalisation such as the fact that fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers where from Saudi Arabia and the emerging information that certain sections of the Saudi Government may have been complicit in the funding and training of the 9/11 hijackers. Saudi Arabia is not the only regime that does not conform to the UK’s own professed beliefs and standards in human rights that the British supply dangerous and destructive weapons of death to.

The UK Government sells arms to Bahrain which has used British arms to quell internal dissent; Burundi, which is being investigated by the UN for human rights violations and The Maldives, which in 2015 jailed its former President, Mohamed Nasheed, for 13 years following what critics said was a politically motivated show trial. The UK Government has also authorised the sale of massive amounts of arms to Egypt despite the coup against the democratically elected President Mohammad Morsi and the violent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood that followed. The British Government approved licences for the sale of £7.7bn of arms in 2015 alone. Then there have been weapons scandals in the past involving the British Government and the UK arms industry. There was the shocking Arms-to-Iraq affair of the 1990s when it came to light that the British Government had endorsed and advised on the sale of arms by British companies to Iraq, then under the rule of Saddam Hussein. Ironically, some of these British made and exported weapons to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had been used by the Iraqi regime during the first Gulf War of 1991.

All of this raises serious questions regarding how the British Government can profess to on the one hand be a force for human rights and run a foreign policy based on «universal human values», upholding democracy, human rights and the rule of law and yet on the other hand maintain a massive arms trade of deadly weapons around the world, arming regimes that are the exact opposite of what the British Government professes to believe in and defend when it comes to human rights. At the heart of the British Government’s position on «human rights» is hypocrisy when examined within context of UK arms sales. The British Government maintains a saintly image of itself and believes its own rhetoric that it is a great force for «universal human rights» around the world despite the contradictions in its policies and behaviour and that the British have higher standards and more noble beliefs than other cultures and countries when in reality this is not the truth. What the British Government hates above all else is to have its self-image shattered and exposed for the two-faced hypocrisy that it is. They are unable to effectively answer the inconsistencies and contradictions of their rhetorical image on the one hand and the reality of their behaviour, policies and practices on the other when confronted with reality. It is high time for the British Government, if is serious about its rhetoric on human rights, to scale back its domestic weapons export industry.

USA’s double game in Iraq, pretending to fight terrorism but instead aiding them

Iraq: US Forces Trying to Evacuate ISIS Commanders from Tal Afar

ISIL

After photos surfaced in the media displaying US forces assisting ISIL terrorists, Javad al-Talaybawi said that the Americans are planning to take ISIL commanders away from Tal Afar that is under the Iraqi forces’ siege.

In the meantime, member of Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Commission Iskandar Watut called for a probe into photos and footages displaying US planes airdropping aid packages over ISIL-held regions.

Watut further added that we have witnessed several times that US planes dropped packages of food stuff, arms and other necessary items over ISIL-held regions, and called on Iraq’s air defense to watch out the US-led coalition planes.

Eyewitnesses disclosed on Wednesday that the US military planes helped the ISIL terrorists in Tal Afar region West of Mosul.

“We saw several packages dropped out of a US army aircraft in the surrounding areas of the city of Tal Afar in Western Nineveh province and six people also came out of a US plane in the ISIL-controlled areas,” the Arabic-language media quoted a number of eyewitnesses as saying.

Tal Afar city has been under the siege of the Iraqi volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) for about two months now and the efforts by the ISIL terrorists to help their comrades besieged in Tal Afar have failed so far.

The news comes as the Iraqi army had reported that the US air force has been helping the ISIL terrorists in areas controlled by the terrorist group.

The Iraqi army says that the US army is trying to transfer the ISIL commanders trapped in areas besieged by the Iraqi army to safe regions.

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