The UN Must Urgently Investigate Hindutva Extremist Violence Against Indian Muslims

By Adam Garrie
Source

Another blood-soaked week for Indian Muslims

The last several days have served as a deeply grim reminder of how Hindutva extremist violence against Muslims is becoming normalised to the point of only being “newsworthy” among those with specific concerns for the humanitarian crisis that is brewing under the deeply controversial BJP government of Narendra Modi.

On the 23rd of March, horrifying video emerged of a Hindutva lynch mob attacking a Muslim family with sticks and swords while the desperate cries of a female relative can be heard in the background. The incident which took place in Haryana state was apparently triggered by something as innocent as a stray cricket ball. This led to a violent break-in of the Muslim family’s private property by the violent and heavily armed mob.

Days before, a 50 year old man in Uttar Pradesh was beaten to death by a Hindutva mob of 20 young thugs, all the while his young son looked on in horror.

And yet these recent incidents are not isolated but are instead part of a wider development whereby radical Hindutva lynch mobs are both actively and subliminally encouraged to commit crimes against humanity by the political class.

Normalising refugees and migrants…unless they are Muslims

Determining the citizenship of peasants in India has always been a difficult task due to the lack of modern local governance in remote and rural regions, as well as due to the fact that many of the people in question simply do not have any modern documentation that is typically used to determine one’s status as a citizen. It is against this background that India’s lower house of Parliament has decided to pass a proposal as part of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, that would see all un-documented Indian residents have their status normalised as full Indian citizens – with the exception of Muslims.

The passage of the new proposals have led to riots in India’s eastern Assam state where last year, four million Muslims were left off of citizenship rolls, effectively leaving them stateless even though most of these people had spent much or even all of their lives in India. While many believe that the controversial bill won’t be cleared by the upper house of India’s parliament, the fact that such an explicitly discriminatory piece of legislation could even be considered, says a great deal about the anti-Islamic tricks that Premier Narendra Modi’s BJP has up its sleeves in the run-up to this year’s general election.

While India has not even been able to conduct a proper tally of its own residents and has struggled throughout 2018 to attempt and conduct such a thing without resorting to overt discrimination, the wider global media has been focused more on Donald Trump’s border wall than on India’s wholesale discrimination against 172 million of its Muslim citizens, as well as the discrimination against millions of non-documented Muslims who know no other home than India.

Legally, Trump’s border wall does not violate any part of the US constitution and it is of course the right of every nation to physically secure its borders, just as Pakistan and Turkey have done in respect of portions of their borders with hostile neighbours. But what India is doing is something very different. India is punishing millions of people in Assam and beyond, for the fact that they were brought to India as genuine refugees and had lived for years in a system with widespread deficiencies in local governance that did not allow for a traditional normalisation of their status within India.

The BJP’s internal partition

The current citizenship proposals do in fact acknowledge past deficiencies in local and regional governments that have left many millions of people without genuine social security. While New Delhi seeks to rectify this situation in respect of undocumented Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and others so long as they can prove that they have lived normal lives in India for at least six years, Muslims are not covered by the new legislation which acknowledges past injustices against those who arrived in India after leaving Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In spite of India’s secular constitution which prohibits such targeted state sponsored discrimination, under the BJP government of Modi, such measures are becoming the rule rather than the exception. But it is not just the government of India going out of its way to discriminate against undocumented Muslims that ought to worry genuine supporters of human rights throughout the world. The BJP at both a national and regional level continues to go out of its way to discriminate against and endanger the lives and welfare of millions of Indian Muslims whose families have been full Indian citizens since 1947.

It is as though the BJP seeks a second partition of India, only this time rather than involving the movement of people, this ‘internal partition’ involves the cultural cleansing of India’s Islamic history whilst the wholesale dehumanisation of 127 million people continues in tandem.

A rape plague 

In January of 2018, Asifa Bano, an eight year old Muslim girl was kidnapped by a gang of Hindutva extremists where she was gang raped and murdered inside a Hindu temple. This horrific incident became symbolic of a crime wave against minorities in India where women are often the foremost victims of horrific sexual assaults.

In June of 2018, it was reported that five female activists in the Indian state of Jharkhand who were attempting to document and stop human trafficking in the region, were themselves kidnapped and gang rapped at gunpoint.

The seriousness of the rape epidemic in India is compounded by the fact that powerful political figures and so-called “philosophers” have not only justified but endorsed rape as a political and social weapon against minorities, including and especially Muslim women.

According to Pakistani-American journalist Riaz Haq,

“It is hard to say how many of the rape victims were Muslim. What is known, however, is the exhortation by iconic Hindutva leaders to rape of Muslim women. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, one of founders of right-wing RSS who Prime Minister Modi describes as “worthy of worship”, is among them. After getting elected as to the highest office in India, Modi paid tribute to Savarkar by laying flowers at his portrait that hangs in India’s Parliament.

VD Savarkar, in one of his books titled Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, elaborates on why raping of Muslim women is not only justified but encouraged.

Savarkar has used revisionist Hindutva history to exhort his followers to rape Muslim women as payback for historic wrongs he believes were committed by Muslim conquerers of India. ‘Once they are haunted with this dreadful apprehension that the Muslim women too, stand in the same predicament in case the Hindus win, the future Muslim conquerors will never dare to think of such molestation of Hindu women’, he writes”.

What one is witnessing in India is more than an average crime epidemic. It is part of a wider systematic breakdown in society that has seen Muslim men lynched for allegedly slaughtering a cow for beef, entire Muslim families murdered for allegedly eating beef, other Muslims lynched for other cow related “offences” Muslim women and children raped because they are considered subhuman by Hindutva extremists and other minority groups as well as so-called Dalits – members of Hinduisms “untouchable” caste treated much the same.

Government supporting Hindutva extremists kill and terrorise Muslims 

While India’s secular democracy still exists in theory, in practice extremist Hindu groups that at both regional levels and now at a national level are threatening to erase not only the history of important periods in India’s development that were shaped by Islamic characteristics, but in so doing, the forces of political Hindutva are erasing the cultural and religious identity of millions of modern day Indian citizens.

Today, the greatest victims of acculturation and oppression in modern India are Indian Muslims – particularly those in northern India. Northern India remains the political heartland of the ruling political faction BJP as well as its allied militant group RSS. The year 2002 remains a watershed in the post-colonial history of India as it was then in Gujarat state that a violent pogrom was instigated against Muslims leaving up to 2,000 dead. Most worrying, the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002 was a man called Narendra Modi who is now India’s Prime Minister. Many witnesses to the violence in Gujarat continue to assert that Modi’s state government as well as police and other public authorities intentionally allowed the violence to spiral out of control when clearly it is the duty of any government to quash violence and enforce an orderly rule of law.

In the years since the BJP formed the current Indian government, the rise of so called “cow protection mobs“, the phenomenon where gangs of extremist Hindus attack and often lynch Muslims accused of eating or trading in beef products, has also skyrocketed. In many cases, the Muslim victims of murder and vicious assault were simply targeted for being Muslims rather than for having anything to do with butchering cows, selling or eating beef.

Culture cleansing 

The contemporary assault on Muslims in India however is not just limited to the mob violence which is clearly sanctioned by elements of the ruling party and their far-right allies. The historic city of Allahabad in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has recently been the site of controversy after the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath decided to unilaterally rename the city Prayagraj. This is a clear attempt to erase the history of the Mughal Empire which incidentally was the pre-1947 independent sovereign entity which came closest to uniting all of what was now India in the early modern period.

One of India’s most internationally famous monuments, the Taj Mahal was built on the orders of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as an Islamic shrine for his wife. While Indian tourism associations promote the Taj Mahal as one of the country’s top destinations, the Archaeological Survey of India have now taken the decision to prohibit Muslim pilgrims from worshipping in the Taj Mahal’s mosque on every day of the week except Friday.

This attempt to de-Islamify one of the world’s most recognisable Islamic shrines is yet another attempt to erase Muslim history and specifically Mughal history from the collective consciousness of modern India.

But beyond the attempts to culturally cleanse Islam from India, it was recently reported that a Uttar Pradesh Assembly member of the ruling BJP just stated that he is ready to bomb minorities who claim that their safety is no longer guaranteed in India.

Such behaviour however should not be surprising as the ruling party of India is associated with the RSS – a movement that is in effect an officially sanctioned violence squad.

The United Nations must get involved

Taken individually, each of the aforementioned catastrophes would warrant international attention from genuinely concerned human rights organisations.  But taken as a whole, one sees the emergence of a total human rights crisis throughout much of India. To be sure, southern India remains calm, but in much of northern India, violence against Muslims by Hindutva extremists is becoming so regularised that the world risks becoming desensitised to the extreme levels and primitive nature of the Hindutva ultra-violence. Furthermore, as the ruling BJP and their political and militant allies are guiding and encouraging much of the violence, this is all the more reason for the UN to take swift action.

The UN’s credibility has been frequently challenged throughout its existence but seeing as the violence against Indian Muslims is a clear-cut issue of human rights violations on a grand scale, the UN has absolutely no excuse not to do all that it can to end the violence.

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All roads lead to Rome for Xi

Source

March 25, 2019

All roads lead to Rome for Xi

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times ) by special agreement with the author)

All (silk) roads do lead to Rome, as this Saturday Chinese President Xi Jinping and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will sign a memorandum to adhere to the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Afterward, Xi becomes a magnanimous version of The Sicilian, visiting the port of Palermo, with Beijing intent on investing in local infrastructure.

Atlanticist hysteria has been raging wildly – with the simplistic narrative focused on the fact that Italy is a G7 member, at the heart of the Mediterranean “mare nostrum”, and crammed with NATO bases. Thus, it cannot “sell out” to China.

Conte and diplomats in Rome have confirmed that this is strictly about economic cooperation, and signing a memorandum is non-binding. Italy has, in fact, been informally aligned with the Belt and Road scheme since 2015 when it became one of the founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which finances scores of BRI projects.

EU members Greece, Portugal and Malta have also signed BRI agreements. Berlin and Paris have not – at least not yet. Same with London, but post-Brexit that will inevitably happen as trade with China will become even more important for the UK.

Here, in English and Italian, is the draft text of the memorandum, although the final version may be slightly more diluted to appease the Eurocrats at the European Commission (EC), which last week defined China as a “systemic rival”.

Milan’s Corriere Della Sera published a comprehensive op-ed signed by Xi Jinping himself, even quoting legendary writer Alberto Moravia. Xi stresses the “strategic trustworthiness” between China and Italy and vows to “build a new stage of Belt and Road in aspects of the sea, the land, aviation, space and culture”. So, yes, this is not only about geoeconomics, but crucially also about the projection of geopolitical soft power.

Hoping to emulate Singapore

I have already explained how Marco Polo is back in China, again, and how the EU is struggling to position itself in a common front when dealing with its top trade partner. The ongoing geoeconomic game is essentially about the Maritime Silk Road – with  Italy positioning itself as BRI’s privileged southern European terminal.

The port of Venice is already being upgraded for a possible role as a BRI terminal. Now, the possibility opens for Genoa and the northern Adriatic ports of Trieste and Ravenna to be developed by COSCO and China Communications Construction. Conte himself has already singled out, on the record, Genoa and Trieste as “terminals for the New Silk Roads”.

COSCO is on a roll. It has operated the port of Piraeus in Greece since 2008 and holds 35% of Rotterdam and 20% of Antwerp. And it plans to build a terminal in Hamburg. In the Battle of the Super-Ports, as I defined it, between northern and southern Europe, Cosco is betting on both sides.

Zeno D’Agostino, president of the Trieste port authority, even dreams of becoming the new Singapore, profiting from Chinese investment, while not renouncing to manage its new status – as happened with Piraeus. He has perfectly understood how, for the Chinese, Trieste is “the perfect gateway to Europe.”

Palermo is an even more interesting story. It happens to be the hometown of both Italian President Sergio Mattarella and, more significantly, Michele Geraci, the undersecretary of state for economic development. Geraci was a finance professor at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou from 2009 to 2018. A Sinophile fluent in Mandarin, he has been Rome’s point man negotiating with Beijing.

China directly investing in the Sicilian economy is a huge deal, totally in tune with Italian national interest in terms of expanding the role of a strategic bridge between southern Europe and northern Africa.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, left, is seen with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in this photo from late last year in Brussels. Photo: AFP / Dursun Aydemir / Anadolu

On the hypersensitive telecom front, it’s certain that every direct reference to data sharing, 5G and strategic infrastructure will not be part of the Italy-China BRI memorandum.

That won’t alter the fact that both Huawei and ZTE have been experimenting for years now on installing 5G in Italy. Huawei already sponsors two “smart and safe cities” research centers in Italy. And the recent opinion piece by one of Huawei’s rotating chairmen has made a huge splash not only in Italy but across the EU; Guo Ping argues that the reason for the current demonization campaign is that Huawei equipment blocks all back-doors available for spying by the US National Security Agency.

All aboard the BRI train

Moving on, when Xi visits France early next week, his focus will be totally different. The Paris establishment has not made up its mind yet on how deep to relate with BRI. Inside the EU, France is the top power in terms of constraining Chinese investment. So Xi’s strategy when meeting President Macron will rely on stressing cooperation on climate, global governance and peacekeeping operations.

According to media reports, Macron has also invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to join the meeting.

Beijing is very much aware that France chairs the G7 this year and is the crucial co-actor along with Germany in shaping EU policies, especially after the crucial European elections in May that may translate into a huge success for far right, anti-Brussels parties.

Beijing is also focused on guaranteeing a smooth China-EU summit in Brussels on April 9, which will make things much easier for the 16+1 summit of China plus Eastern and Central Europe nations in Croatia on April 12. The inescapable fact is that the 16+1 – the majority of whom are part of the EU – as well as Greece, Portugal, Malta and now Italy are all on board of BRI.

«طعنة القرن» من القدس إلى الجولان… فلبنان؟

مارس 25, 2019

د. عصام نعمان

لا، ليست «صفقة القرن» ما يريدها دونالد ترامب، بل هي طعنة القرن المدوّية. بها استهدف الطاعن المهووس روحَ الأمة وجسدها في القدس الشريف بنقل سفارته إليها وتكريسها «عاصمة أبدية» للكيان الصهيوني. ثم استهدف بطعنته سورية، قلبَ العروبة النابض بلغة جمال عبد الناصر، بإعلانه الاعتراف بسيادة «إسرائيل» على الجولان المحتلّ بدعوى دعمها لمواجهة إيران. وها هو وزير خارجيته مايك بومبيو يزور لبنان ليهدّد المسؤولين والمواطنين بالكفّ عن مراعاة حزب الله وإلاّ فإنّ العقوبات وكوابح الحصار المفروض على إيران ستنعكس عليه، موحياً بأنّ ذلك يعجّل في انهياره المالي والاقتصادي، ويتيح قضم المزيد من أرضه في جنوبه ومنطقته البحرية الاقتصادية الخالصة حيث مكامن النفط والغاز.

طعناتُ ترامب بإسم الولايات المتحدة والأصحّ «الويلات» المتحدة لن تقتصر آثارها الكارثية المحتملة على القدس والجولان ولبنان بل قد تشمل ما هو أخطر: ماذا لو لاحظ ساكن البيت الأبيض المسكون بأوهام وأساطير توراتية، عشيةَ محاولة تجديد رئاسته لولاية ثانية في مدى سنتين أو أقلّ، أنّ نجاحه يتطلّب نيله جميع أصوات اليهود الأميركيين في الانتخابات، فهل تراه يتوّرع عن إعلان الإعتراف بسيادة «إسرائيل» على ما تبقّى من الضفة الغربية المحتلة؟

لا حدود للمطامع الصهيونية في أراضي العرب من الفرات إلى النيل، ولا حدود لدعم «الويلات» المتحدة لمطامع «إسرائيل» الفاجرة، فما العمل؟

آن أوان استيقاظ العرب من سبات طال زمانه. آن أوان وعي واقع علاقات القوى الإقليمية وارتباطاتها، وعلاقات القوى الكبرى وموازينها، وانعكاس ذلك كله على بلاد العرب، مشرقاً ومغرباً. إذا كان يصعب على معظم الحاكمين في بلادنا إدراك خطورة التحديات الماثلة ومفاعيلها المدمّرة، فلا أقلّ من أن تدرك ذلك القوى الحيّة، النهضوية والمقاوِمة، فتبادر الى تحمّل مسؤولياتها القومية والقطرية بلا إبطاء. في هذا المنظور، تتبدّى الحقائق والوقائع الآتية:

أولاً، ستتواصل الصراعات وتتأجّج في فلسطين المحتلة وسورية ولبنان والعراق واليمن بفعل تمادي إدارة ترامب، ومن ورائها «إسرائيل»، في حربيها الناعمة والخشنة على كلّ القوى والأطراف التي تعتبرها حليفة لإيران أو مساندة لها في مواجهة الهجوم الصهيوأميركي عليها.

ثانياً، يهدف الهجوم الصهيوأميركي المتواصل والمتعدّد الجبهات والأغراض على إيران وحلفائها العرب إلى أن يحقق في السياق: أ توطيد استيلاء الصهاينة على كامل فلسطين التاريخية، و ب استيلاء الكيان الصهيوني على موارد لبنان المائية والكثير من مكامن النفط والغاز في منطقته البحرية الاقتصادية الخالصة، وكذلك محاولة القضاء على المقاومة التي يقودها حزب الله، و جـ تقسيم سورية الى مجموعة كياناتٍ ذات أسس طائفية واثنية وقَبَلية، بدءاً من محافظتي الحسكة والرقة في الشمال الشرقي وصولاً إلى محافظة إدلب في الشمال الغربي ومحافظة السويداء في الجنوب الشرقي بعدما جرى قضم الجولان عقب حرب 1967، و د وضع اليد وبالتالي استثمار مكامن النفط والغاز في شمال سورية وشرقها وباديتها، كما في إقليمها البحري.

ثالثاً، وجود مخطط لتقسيم العراق الى ثلاثة كيانات: واحد للكرد في الشمال، وآخر لأهل السنّة في الوسط، وثالث للشيعة في الجنوب وذلك بالتواطؤ مع تركيا المتخوّفة من قيام كيان كردي انفصالي في جنوبها الشرقي، متواصل مع كيانٍ مشابه في شمال كلٍّ من العراق وسورية ما يستدعي إطفاء مخاوفها بإشراكها في استثمار الثروات النفطية والغازية لِكلا الدولتين.

رابعاً، تدعم أميركا الأطراف اليمنية المتحالفة مع السعودية للسيطرة على اليمن، ومن ثم المباشرة في فصل شماله عن جنوبه في إطار ترتيبات تكفل السيطرة على عدن ومضيق باب المندب لتأمين منفذ بحري، عسكري وتجاري، لـِ «إسرائيل» الى جنوب شرق آسيا، ولأوروبا لتأمين خطوط تجارتها مع دول آسيا جميعاً.

خامساً، تطبيع العلاقات بين الدول العربية عامةً ودول الخليج خاصةً مع «إسرائيل» من أجل إقامة حلف عربي »إسرائيلي» لتطويق إيران عسكرياً وسياسياً واقتصادياً، وللمشاركة تالياً في مخطط إسقاط نظام الجهورية الإسلامية.

في ضوء الحقائق والوقائع والتطورات سالفة الذكر، تستبين الحاجة الى اتحاد الأطراف الإقليمية المتضرّرة من الهجوم الصهيوأميركي المتواصل وضرورة اتفاقها على خطة استراتيجية متكاملة لاحتوائه ومن ثم لدحره على الأسس والتدابير الآتية:

أ تأمين التعاون والتنسيق في ما بينها وصولاً إلى التحالف لمواجهة الهجوم الصهيوأميركي ومفاعيله السياسية والإقتصادية والميدانية.

ب مواجهة التحالف الصهيوأميركي على جبهتين: عسكرية واقتصادية. المواجهة العسكرية تكون بالتعاون الوثيق مع إيران وروسيا على أصعدة التسليح، والتدريب، والإستخبارات، والتكنولوجيا السيبرانية والإستطلاع. المواجهة الإقتصادية تكون بالتعاون مع روسيا والصين لإحباط الحرب التجارية التي تشنّها الولايات المتحدة على مستوى العالم برمّته، والعمل على تأسيس مصارف ومؤسسات عالمية للتمويل الإنمائي بغية الإستعاضة عن المصارف الأميركية والمؤسسات الأممية التي تهيمن عليها الولايات المتحدة.

جـ وضع وتنفيذ مخطط للتكامل السياسي والإقتصادي والعسكري بين سورية والعراق لمواجهة التحديات الإقليمية وفي مقدّمها الكيان الصهيوني ومفاعيل التحالف الصهيوأميركي.

د تأمين فتح واستخدام ممرّ برّي أو أكثر بين العراق وسورية وصولاً إلى لبنان، وممرّ آخر بين سورية والأردن، وتجهيز مقاومة شعبية لمواجهة «إسرائيل» والولايات المتحدة إذا ما حاولتا عرقلة ذلك.

هـ اعتبار القوات الأجنبية المتوضّعة دونما ترخيص في العراق وسورية ولبنان والأردن قوات احتلال وانّ إجلاءها شرط وضمانة لاستعادة هذه الدول وحدتها وسيادتها على أقاليمها كما على مواردها الطبيعية من مياه ونفط وغاز.

و تنظيم حوار عربي – تركي بوساطة كلٍّ من روسيا وإيران بغية تسوية الخلافات العالقة والتمهيد لتعاون سياسي واقتصادي من شأنه المساعدة على إخراج تركيا من حلف شمال الأطلسي وترسيخ علاقاتها مع جاراتها العربية والإسلامية.

ز إحياء جامعة الدول العربية وتعزيزها كمنظومة تعاون سياسي واقتصادي وعسكري في وجه الكيان الصهيوني، وتفعيل منظمة التعاون الإسلامي في وجه الدول والتنظيمات التي تمارس الإرهاب والعنصرية او ترعاهما وتغذي تيار الاسلاموفوبيا المتنامي في أوروبا وأميركا.

الكرة باتت في ملعب القوى الوطنية الحيّة في الدول العربية والإسلامية، وقد آن أوان قيامها بدق أجراس الإيقاظ من السبات الطويل والتحريض على النهوض والعمل بلا إبطاء وقبل فوات الأوان.

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Now for Confrontation in Space

Now for Confrontation in Space

BRIAN CLOUGHLEY | 25.03.2019 | WORLD / AMERICAS

Now for Confrontation in Space

There was much international news in mid-March, although little of it was encouraging for those who prefer peace to war, handshakes to sabre-rattling, and cooperation to confrontation.

But there was one item of good cheer which showed that friendly cooperation between the US and Russia continues, albeit unobtrusively. It concerned the International Space Station, about which it was reported on March 15 that “A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch along with Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as planned from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan… Their Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft reached a designated orbit about nine minutes after the launch, and the crew reported they were feeling fine and all systems on board were operating normally.”

Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft docked with the International
Space Station about 250 miles over the Pacific Ocean.

The mission was successful, technically and professionally, but did not in any way diminish Washington’s anti-Russian bias or its determination to militarize space.

forecast for the second quarter of 2019 by the analytical think-tank STRATFOR reflects the Washington Establishment’s line that “Military competition between the United States and Russia will prevail…” but does not record that the military budget of the United States is vastly more than that of Russia, or that, as headlined in the 2018 Report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, world defence expenditure “falls sharply in Russia, but rises in Central and Western Europe.” As is well-known, the US will spend 716 billion dollars on its military in 2019, but what is not publicised by the Western media is that Russia’s 2019 outlay is 45 billion dollars.

The word ‘competition’ (“the activity or condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others”) is hardly appropriate when the figures involved are 716 compared to 45 whether these be dollars or coconuts, but the competition myth continues, supported energetically by Washington’s military-industrial complex — and especially by the generals, spurred on by the lure of lucrative post-retirement jobs with manufacturers of military systems. Stars and Stripes records that “major US defense contractors have hired hundreds of former high-level government officials in recent years, including at least 50 since Trump became president. The report lends new visibility to long-standing concerns about a revolving door between the government agencies that award massive contracts for military supplies and services and the businesses that profit from those contracts.”

Which leads us to General “Fighting Joe” Dunford, who at his Senate hearing for appointment as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said “my assessment today, Senator, is that Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security.” In October 2018 he reiterated that “the Russian challenge is not isolated to the plains of Europe. It is a global one” requiring the armed forces of the United States “to be able to project power to an area… and then once we’re there we’ve got to be able to freely manoeuvre across all domains… sea, air, land, space, and cyberspace.”

Naturally he didn’t mention that at the very time he uttered his confrontational challenges there was close cooperation in air, land and space between the US and Russia whose astronauts were “able to freely manoeuvre” in harmony, adding to world knowledge and engendering trust by jointly conducting research projects in the International Space Station.

This is in accord with the United Nations ‘Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space’, otherwise known as the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which, among other things “establishes basic principles related to the peaceful use of outer space. This includes that the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries…”

It is the wish of the world — or most of the world — that space should be forever free of weapons. The Treaty lays down that “States Parties to the Treaty undertake not to place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner.”

But although the United States signed and ratified the Space Treaty in 1967, it strongly objected to later attempts to refine it. In February 2008 the New York Times reported that “The Russian foreign minister, Sergey V Lavrov, presented a Russian-Chinese draft treaty banning weapons in space to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, an idea that was quickly rejected by the United States.”

It is a difficult to imagine why there could be any objection to a treaty aimed at “prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space,” but the White House responded that it opposes any treaty that seeks “to prohibit or limit access to or use of space.” Indeed the White House said that such a treaty would be impossible to enforce because “any object orbiting or transiting through space can be a weapon if that object is intentionally placed onto a collision course with another space object. This makes treaty verification impossible.” The US continues to be resistant to any treaty forbidding deployment of weapons in space.

It was therefore unsurprising when Trump put forward his plan for militarising space in March last year, and in August tweeted “Space Force All the Way!” Then he declared on February 19 that “we’re investing in new space capabilities to project military power and safeguard our nation’s interests, especially when it comes to safety and defense” and signed a directive ordering the Pentagon to create a Space Force as the sixth branch of the military.

The result of his brainwave is that the US is going to “project military power” in space, which is directly contrary to “the basic principles related to the peaceful use of outer space” noted in the Outer Space Treaty.

The US refuses to move onwards from the original treaty, and on March 20 Newsweek summed up Washington’s policy by noting that “the United States has blamed Russia and China for militarizing space, while refusing to sign their joint proposal against placing weapons there.”

On February 19, while preparations were in full swing for launch of the joint Russia-US mission to the International Space Station three weeks later, the White House announced that “President Donald J Trump’s Space Policy Directive-4 is a bold, strategic step toward guaranteeing American space dominance” by “establishing the United States Space Force which among other tasks will “organize, train and equip our space warfighters with next-generation capabilities.”

In the words of the US Administration, “space is now a warfighting domain just like the air, land and sea” so it’s goodbye to a future of harmonious exploration and scientific research in the regions beyond our globe. It had been hoped that the Treaty would go far to assist in “maintaining international peace and security and promoting international co-operation and understanding” but Washington has no intention of agreeing to any international law that would prohibit extra-terrestrial weaponisation, and Trump’s Space Directive has now set the seal on Washington’s preparedness to confront in space as well as by land and sea and in the air. Stand by for Space War.

America Needs Pakistan More Than Pakistan Needs America

By Adam Garrie
Source

Last year was a nadir in Pakistan-US relations after Donald Trump brazenly accused Islamabad of creating a “safe haven” for radials. That being said, as Trump has a penchant for cutting “aid” and military subsidies to foreign partners, this defamatory statement might well have been little more than an excuse that was needed in order to convince the US “deep state” to cancel $300 million in “military aid” (more accurately called reparations) to Pakistan.

Since then, two major things have happened. First of all, as Trump remains determined to extricate his country from the blood-soaked quagmire in Afghanistan, many in the US including Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad have come to realise that Pakistan’s approach to Afghanistan had been right all along and that since 2001, the US has ultimately followed the failed model of the Soviet invasion of the 1980s. As such, the US now needs Pakistani assistance to help guide an all-parties peace process which will see a reformed Taliban formalise its powerful de facto role as Afghanistan’s most prominent political force.

Seeing as such a peace process is scarcely possible without Pakistan’s diplomatic assistance, the US is actively rolling back the anti-Pakistan sentiments of last year at the same time as peace talks between Washington and the Taliban intensify.

Secondly, recent acts of unprovoked Indian aggression against Pakistani territory in the aftermath of the Pulwama incident have made the US reconsider its position on India in one crucial respect. The US will continue to strengthen its partnership with India as a means of trying to provoke China, whilst the US will also attempt to groom India into a position of becoming less reliant on Russian weapons and more reliant on American ones. But what the US does not want is a new India-Pakistan war and as such, while the US (like most nations on the planet) does not care about civilian life in Kashmir, the US realises that as state sanctioned violence against Kashmiri civilians intensifies, the chances of a new war increase.

As such, while the US was clearly not entirely displeased with Premier Modi’s exploiting of the events in Pulwama as an election stunt, the US also appears to have realised that unless issued with strict marching orders, Modi will take things too far if given the chance. While the US still needs to keep up appearances in respect of playing into India’s perverse narrative on Kashmir, Washington could barely disguise how badly it was irked by Modi’s dangerous game of brinkmanship.

Many in the US appear to have been caught off guard by just how unhinged Modi actually is, but this is no longer the case. As such, the US will remain happy to keep Modi’s aggression tethered to a short leash, but Washington now realises that Modi could become a liability if the leash is not gripped tightly. For Donald Trump there was also a personal element to the disappointment in Modi’s antics as India’s failed “surgical strike 2.0” on Pakistan tended to overshadow his prominent meeting with Kim Jong-un in Hanoi.

Because of this, the US will likely become more active in minimising the potential for conflict between India and Pakistan, not least because any further attempts by India to destabilise Pakistan will clearly have an impact on US attempts to restore order to Afghanistan after 17 years of chaos.

Against this background, it is not difficult to understand why Donald Trump said the following on Pakistan Day:

“We’ll be meeting with Pakistan [leadership]. I think our relationship right now is very good with Pakistan”.

While Trump is not likely to restore the $300 million in “aid” owing to his overall policy of wanting partners to pay the US for “protection”, the US leader has clearly come to see that the US needs Pakistan in order to bring stability to Afghanistan. Washington has also been able to see that Pakistan is important as a bulwark against Indian expansionism that would clearly run amok in the region if countries like the US, China and Russia weren’t there to put the brakes on the BJP’s aggressive agenda.

Finally, as Donald Trump tends to enjoy the presence of charismatic world leaders, especially those who present a challenge to the American status quo (Kim Jong-un and Trump’s self described “good friend” Xi Jinping to name but two examples), Trump may well come to both respect and even like Imran Khan on a human level.

Imran Khan has stood out from his predecessors as a leader who can clearly, forcefully and magnetically articulate Pakistan’s position to international audiences. This has certainly not been lost on Trump and as such, the sooner he and Imran Khan meet, the better it will be for all parties involved.

US Duplicity over Golan Demolishes Posturing on Crimea

By Finian Cunningham
Source

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In a controversial snub to international law, the United States signaled last week that it is moving to officially recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israeli territory. If the US does so, then it forfeits any moral authority to sanction Russia over allegations of “annexing Crimea”.

In its annual US State Department report, the section dealing with the Golan Heights reportedly refers to the contested area as “Israeli-controlled”, not “Israeli-occupied”. The change in wording deviates from United Nations resolutions and international norm which use the term “Israeli-occupied” to designate the land Israel annexed from Syria following the 1967 Six Day War.

Israel has occupied the western part of the Golan since 1967 as a spoil from that war. In 1981, Tel Aviv formally annexed the Syrian territory. However, the UN Security Council in 1981, including the US, unanimously condemned the annexation as illegal. The resolution mandates Israel to return the land to Syria which has historical claim to the entire Golan. The area of 1,800 square kilometers is a strategic elevation overlooking the northern Jordan Valley.

If Washington confirms its recent indications of recognizing the Golan as officially part of Israel, the development would mark an egregious flouting of international law.

But what’s more, such a move totally prohibits Washington from posturing with presumed principle over the issue of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula which since 2014 voluntarily became part of Russia.

Just last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeated accusations against Russia of “annexing” Crimea. Pompeo insisted that US sanctions against Moscow would be maintained until Russia “returns Crimea to Ukraine”.

“The world has not forgotten the cynical lies Russia employed to justify its aggression and mask its attempted annexation of Ukrainian territory,” he said. “The United States will maintain respective sanctions against Russia until the Russian government returns control of Crimea to Ukraine.”

Last year, Pompeo’s State Department issued a ‘Crimea Declaration’ in which it was stated that, “Russia undermines a bedrock of international principle shared by democratic states: that no country can change the borders of another by force.”

Claims by Washington and the European Union of “illegal annexation” of Crimea by Russia are the central basis for five years of economic sanctions imposed on Moscow. Those sanctions have contributed to ever-worsening tensions with Russia and the build-up of NATO forces along Russia’s borders.

Those claims are, however, highly contestable. The people of Crimea voted in a legally constituted referendum in March 2014 to secede from Ukraine and to join the Russian Federation. That referendum followed an illegal coup in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the US and Europe against a legally elected president, Viktor Yanukovych. Historically, Crimea has centuries of shared cultural heritage with Russia. Its erstwhile position within the state of Ukraine was arguably an anomaly of the Cold War and subsequent break-up of the Soviet Union.

In any case, there is scant comparison between the Golan Heights and Crimea, save, that is, for the latest hypocrisy in Washington. While Crimea and its people are arguably historically part of Russia, the Golan Heights are indisputably a sovereign part of Syria which was forcibly annexed by Israeli military occupation.

The illegality of Israel’s occupation of Golan is a matter of record under international law as stipulated in UNSC Resolution 497.

There is no such international mandate concerning Crimea. Claims of Russia’s “annexation” are simply a matter of dubious political assertion made by Washington and its European allies.

The latest move by Washington towards recognizing Golan as part of Israel – in defiance of international law – comes on the back of several other recent developments.

US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham made a tour of Israeli-occupied Golan last week in the company of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pointedly transported by an IDF military helicopter. Graham said following his tour that he would recommend the Trump administration to officially recognize the area as under Israeli sovereignty.

Currently, there is legislation going through both the US Senate and House of Representatives which is aimed at declaring the entire Golan as Israeli territory.

The stark shift in pro-Israeli bias in Washington under the Trump administration is consistent with the White House declaring at the end of 2017 that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Again, that move by President Trump overturned international consensus and UN resolutions which have stipulated Jerusalem to be a shared capital between Israel and a future Palestinian state, to be worked out by (defunct) peace negotiations.

Why Washington has taken up the Golan issue as a prize for Israel at this time is not precisely clear. It could be seen as the Trump administration giving a political boost to Netanyahu for next month’s elections.

There has been previous speculation that Trump is doing the bidding for a US-based oil company, Genie Oil, which is linked to his administration through his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s family investments. The New Jersey company has a subsidiary in Israel, is tied to the Netanyahu government, and has long been aiming to drill the Golan for its abundant oil resources.

The Golan move could also be retribution meted out to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his country’s historic defeat of the US-backed covert war for regime change. The nearly eight-year war was also covertly backed by Israel which sponsored jihadist militia operating out of the Golan against the Syrian army. Having vanquished the US regime-change plot, thanks to crucial military support from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, the payback could be Washington stepping up Israeli claims to annex the Golan.

But whatever the background explanation is, the initiative by Washington to legalize the annexation of Golan by Israel is a brazen violation of international law. In doing so, the US is officially sponsoring war crimes and theft of Syria’s sovereign territory. Or as the Crimea Declaration would put it: “changing the borders of another country by force” – supposedly a “bedrock principle” that Washington continually sermonizes about to Russia.

Crimea and Golan are different issues of territorial dispute, as noted already. Nevertheless, the duplicity of Washington over Golan makes its posturing on Crimea null and void. If the Europeans meekly go along with the US move on Golan, then they too should shut their mouths and their moralizing sanctions over Crimea.

Russiagate Is Really Finished

Source

March 23, 2019

On February 12 we wrote that Russiagate Is Finished. The conclusion was based on an NBC report:

After two years and 200 interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee.

Democrats and other Trump opponents have long believed that special counsel Robert Mueller and Congressional investigators would unearth new and more explosive evidence of Trump campaign coordination with Russians. Mueller may yet do so, although Justice Department and Congressional sources say they believe that he, too, is close to wrapping up his investigation.

Russiagate conspiracy theorist Marcy Wheeler countered by arguing that a conspiracy had been proven when Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort admitted to handing out polling data to some Ukrainian/Russian contact to curry favor with some Russian oligarch he owned money. But Manafort’s crimes, which he plead guilty for on September 14 2018, had nothing to do with “Russia” or with Trump and only peripherally with his election campaign:

On Friday, Manafort, who was chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign from June to August 2016, pleaded guilty in federal district court in Washington to two charges of conspiracy against the United States—one involving a lobbying scheme that involved financial crimes and foreign-agent registration violations, and the other involving witness tampering. In the course of his plea, Manafort also admitted guilt on bank-fraud charges on which a federal jury in Virginia hung last month.

Marcy and others held out hope that the Mueller investigation would come up with an indictment that would justify the utter nonsense she and other Russagaters promoted for over two years. Just two week ago former CIA director John Brennan, who likely conspired with British intelligence to frame Trump with the Russia affair, said (vid) that he expected further indictments:

During an appearance on MSNBC on March 5, Brennan predicted that Mueller would issue indictments related to a “criminal conspiracy” involving Trump or his associates’ activities during the 2016 election.

That last hope of the Russiagate dead-enders is now gone:

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III submitted a long-awaited report to Attorney General William P. Barr on Friday, marking the end of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump.

A senior Justice Department official said the special counsel has not recommended any further indictments — a revelation that buoyed Trump’s supporters, even as other Trump-related investigations continue in other parts of the Justice Department.

None of the Americans charged by Mueller are accused of conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election — the central question of Mueller’s work. Instead, they pleaded guilty to various crimes, including lying to the FBI.The investigation ended without charges for a number of key figures who had long been under Mueller’s scrutiny …

Conclusions from the Mueller report will be released by the Justice Department over the next days.

That the Russiagaters were wrong for falling for the bullshit peddled in the Steele dossier and the “Russian hacking” lies of the snakeoil salesmen Clapper and Brennan was obvious long ago. In June 2017 we pointed to a long Washington Post piece on alleged Russian election hacking and remarked:

Reading that piece it becomes clear (but is never said) that the sole source for that August 2016 Brennan claim of “Russian hacking” is the absurd Steele dossier some ex-MI6 dude created for too much money as opposition research against Trump. The only other “evidence” for “Russian hacking” is the Crowdstrike report on the DNC “hack”. Crowdstrike has a Ukrainian nationalist agenda, was hired by the DNC, had to retract other “Russian hacking” claims and no one else was allowed to take a look at the DNC servers. Said differently: The whole “Russian hacking” claims are solely based on “evidence” of two fake reports.

The Steele dossier was fake opposition research peddled by the Clinton campaign, John McCain and a bunch of anti-Trump national security types. The still unproven claim of “Russian hacking” was designed to divert from the fact that Clinton and the DNC colluded to cheat Bernie Sanders out of the nomination. The stupid claim that commercial click-bait from a company in Leningrad was a “Russian influence campaign” was designed to explain Clinton’s election loss to the other worst-candidate-ever. The “Russiagate” investigation was designed to  prevent Trump from finding better relations with Russia as he had promised during his campaign.

All were somewhat successful because some media and some bloggers were happy to sell such nonsense without putting it into the big picture.

It is high time to start a deep investigation into Brennan, Clapper, Comey and the Clinton campaign and to uncover the conspiracy that led to the Steele dossier, the FBI investigation following from it and all the other bullshit that evolved from that investigation.

As for Marcy Wheeler, Rachel Maddow and other dimwits who peddled the Russiagate nonsense I agree with the advice Catlin Johnstone gives:

Every politician, every media figure, every Twitter pundit and everyone who swallowed this moronic load of bull spunk has officially discredited themselves for life.

The people who steered us into two years of Russiavape insanity are the very last people anyone should ever listen to ever again when determining the future direction of our world.

Posted by b on March 23, 2019 at 01:12 PM | Permalink

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