Understanding Russia: The Continuum of History

June 20, 2017

by Yameen KhanUnderstanding Russia: The Continuum of History

The United States is actively committed to bring Russia into submission via encirclement and a two pronged attack.

NATO’s expansion of bases in vassal states right up to Russia’s borders, coupled with an attempt at encroachment in Syria, should allow The Hegemon to undermine Russia’s underbelly from the Caucasus to Central Asia.

To understand how Russians usually respond to Western power a little time travel, starting 1219 AD, is more than useful.

This was a time when a cataclysmic event left deep scars on the Russian character; an abiding fear of encirclement, whether by nomadic hordes then or by nuclear missile bases today.

Russia then was not a single state but consisted of a dozen principalities frequently at war with each other. Between 1219 and 1240 all these fell to the Genghis Khan hurricane, whose lightning-speed cavalry with his horse-borne archers, employing brilliant tactics unfamiliar to Europeans, caught army after army off guard and forced them into submission.

For more than 200 years Russians suffered under the Golden Horde of the Mongol – named after their great tent with golden poles. They left the Russian economy in ruins, brought commerce and industry to a halt, and reduced Russians to serfdom. Asiatic ways of administration and customs were superimposed on the existing Byzantine system.

Taking full advantage of its military weakness and of its reduced circumstances, Russia’s European neighbors started to help themselves to its territory, starting with German principalities, Lithuania, Poland, and Sweden. The Mongols couldn’t care less so long as they received their tribute. They were more concerned with their Asiatic dominions.

Still, European cities did not match the riches of Samarkand and Bukhara, Herat and Baghdad, whose incomparable wealth and splendor outshone wooden-built Russian cities.

Russia’s greatest fear begins here – crushed between their European foes to the West and the Mongols to the East. Russians were to develop a paranoid dread of invasion and encirclement which has tormented their foreign relations ever since. Hardly ever has an experience left such deep and ever-lasting scars on a nation’s psyche as this cataclysm did on Russians. This explains, among other things, their stoical acceptance of harsh rule at home.

And then came Ivan III – the man who freed the Russians from the Golden Horde.

Muscovy then was a small provincial town overshadowed by and subservient to its powerful neighbors. In return for allegiance and subservience locals were gradually entrusted with more power and freedom by the unsuspecting Mongols. Over time the Principality of Muscovy grew in strength and size, eventually to dominate all its neighbors.

In 1476 Ivan refused to pay the customary tribute to the grand Khan Ahmed. In a fit of rage Ivan trampled the portrait of Ahmed and put several of his envoys to death.

The showdown came in autumn 1480 when the Khan marched with his army to teach a vassal a lesson, but was astonished to find a large well-equipped force awaiting him on the far bank of the River Ugra, 150 miles from Moscow. For weeks the two armies glowered at one another, neither side wanting to make the first move.

The stakes were clear. Ivan did not need to cross the river. He would change the course of history if he did not lose. A stalemate could become a turning point in history.

For Ahmed Khan there is no choice. He must cross the river and engage. Win or die like Tariq ibin Ziyad in 711 AD, another age and time, when a brilliant Arab general landed on the ‘rock of Hercules’ subsequently called by Arab Historians ‘Jabal Tariq’, meaning the ‘mountain of Tariq’ and later anglicized as Gibraltar.

Tariq, by one master stratagem, with a much smaller force (12,000 against 90,000 Spaniards) at the Battle of Guadalete defeated Roderic and thus opened the road for the subsequent Arab commanders to march all the way to Tours in France.

With the arrival of winter, the river began to freeze. A ferocious battle appeared inevitable. And then something extraordinary happened. Perhaps a miracle. Without warning both sides turned and fled in panic. Despite their inglorious act, the Russians knew that their long subservience was over.

The Khan had lost his stomach for a fight. The once invincible Mongol might had evaporated. Their centralized authority in the West had now collapsed, leaving three widely separated khanates (Kazan, Astrakhan and Crimea) as their last remnants of the once mighty and the largest contiguous land empire in history.

It was in 1553 when Ivan the Terrible, a successor of Ivan III, thirsting for revenge, stormed the fortress of Kazan on the upper Volga, slaughtered its defenders and thus ended the Mongol rule. Two years later the Khanate of Astrakhan, where the Volga flows into the Caspian met with similar fate.

Starving Napoleon’s army

Fast forward to June 1812, and the fateful day, the 24th , when Napoleon’s Grande Armée crossed the Neman River in an attempt to engage and defeat the Russian army.

Napoleon’s aim was to compel Tsar Alexander I of Russia to stop trading with British merchants through proxies and bring about pressure on the United Kingdom to sue for peace. The overt political aim of the campaign was to liberate Poland from the threat of Russia (as the US claims of Eastern Europe today). Thus the campaign was named the Second Polish War to gain favor with the Poles and provide a political pretense for his actions.

The real aim was domination of Russia.

The Grande Armée was massive; 680,000 soldiers. Through a series of marches Napoleon rushed the army rapidly through Western Russia in an attempt to bring the Russian army to battle, and in August of that year winning a number of minor engagements and a major battle at Smolensk.

Any invading army must consider war in Russia as a war at sea. It is futile to occupy land or city or cities. The aim of an invading force must be to destroy the military machine of Russia. The aim of Russian commanders has always been to survive and use its vast land mass to exhaust its enemy, learn from him and defeat and annihilate him with his own tactics and stratagems, only better executed.

Napoleon engaged the Russian army for a decisive battle at Maloyaroslavets. The Russians would not commit themselves to a pitched battle. His troops exhausted, with few rations, no winter clothing, and his remaining horses in poor condition, Napoleon was forced to retreat.

He hoped to reach supplies at Smolensk and later at Vilnius. In the weeks that followed the Grande Armée starved and suffered from the onset of “General Winter”. Lack of food and fodder for the horses, hypothermia from the bitter cold and persistent attacks upon isolated troops from Russian peasants and Cossacks led to great losses in men, and a general loss of discipline and cohesion in the army.

When Napoleon’s army crossed the Berezina River in November, only 27,000 fit soldiers remained. The Grand Armée had lost some 380,000 men dead and 100,000 captured. A riveting defeat.

All those Afghan overt – and covert – wars

Four centuries after the cataclysm of the Mongol invasion, the Russian Empire had been steadily expanding at the rate of 55 square miles a day – or 20,000 square miles a year. At the dawn of the 19thcentury only 2,000 miles separated the British and the Russian empires in Asia.

Both the Russians and the East India Company (as in the British Indian Empire) sent their officers, businessmen in disguise, as Buddhist priests or Muslim holy men, to survey uncharted Central Asia.

One such chap was Captain Arthur Connolly of the 6th Bengal Light Cavalry in the service of the British East India Company. The East India Company was the British version of America’s Halliburton.

Connolly ended up beheaded as a spy by the orders of Alim Khan, the Emir of Bukhara. It was Connolly who coined the expression “The Great Game”, which Kipling immortalized in his novel “Kim”.

By the end of the 19th century the Tsars’ armies had swallowed one Khanate after another and only a few hundred miles separated the two empires. In some places the distance was only twenty miles.

The British feared that they would lose their Indian possessions – the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ – to the Tsar; and two theories emerged to defend the frontiers of British India.

The ‘forward policy’ and its proponents (hawks, today’s US neocons) argued to stop the Russians beyond India’s frontiers by getting there first, either by invasion, or by creating compliant ‘buffer’ states, or satellites, astride the likely invasion route.

But there were those who did not buy this proposition and did not believe that the Russians would invade India. The opponents of the ‘forward policy’ argued that India’s best defense lay in its unique geographical setting – bordered by impassable mountain ranges, mighty rivers, waterless deserts, and above all warlike tribes.

A Russian force which reached India surmounting all these obstacles would be so weakened by then that it would be no match for the waiting British Army. Therefore, it was more sensible to force an invader to overextend his lines of communications than for the British to risk theirs. And above all this policy was cheaper.

NATO today has a forward policy of deploying troops all over Eastern Europe and creating bases around Russia in an effort to encircle it. The final straw for the Russian Federation has been the occupation of Ukraine, by proxy, by Washington.

Guess who won the policy debate in 19th century Britain? The hawks (the US neocons of today), of course.

In 1838 Lord Auckland decides to replace the current Emir of Afghanistan, Dost Muhammad Khan with Shuja-ul-Mulk.

One could easily replace Dost Muhammad of Afghanistan in 1838 with today’s Gaddafi of Libya or Saddam Hussein of Iraq or Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Or Putin of Russia. Or anyone who becomes an obstacle to the West’s geopolitical, geoeconomic domination.

And yet the British suffered a massive defeat after a year’s occupation of Afghanistan. The only soldier who eventually reached Jalalabad was William Brydon. The Afghans may have spared him so he would be able to tell the tale of this horrific defeat.

You would think the British would have learned from history. Not at all. They did it again.

Tension between Russia and Britain in Europe ended in June 1878 with the Congress of Berlin. Russia then turned its attention to Central Asia, promptly sending an uninvited diplomatic mission to Kabul.

Sher Ali Khan, the Emir of Afghanistan (the son of Emir Dost Muhammad Khan) tried unsuccessfully to keep them out. Russian envoys arrived in Kabul on July 22, 1878, and on August 14, the British demanded that Sher Ali accept a British mission too.

The Emir not only refused to receive a British mission under Neville Bowles Chamberlain, but threatened to stop it if it were dispatched. Lord Lytton, the viceroy, ordered a diplomatic mission to set out for Kabul in September 1878 but the mission was turned back as it approached the eastern entrance of the Khyber Pass, triggering the Second Anglo–Afghan War.

After several defeats in various battles except one, and thus abandoning the provocative policy of maintaining a British resident in Kabul, the British were forced to withdraw.

One would think the British would have enough sense to cease with the stupid policy of occupying Afghanistan. Not at all. They tried it for the third time.

The Third Afghan War began on May 6, 1919 and ended with an armistice on August 8, 1919. An Afghan victory, again.

The British finally abandoned their forward policy. It had failed – just as the American neocons “policy” is failing.

And yet, roughly 60 years later the Russians would don the madman’s (British) hat and on December 25th, 1979, launched a vertical envelopment and occupied Kabul.

Their main aim was the airbase at Shindand, about 200 miles as the crow flies from the Straits of Hormuz, the choke point of the Persian Gulf, through which at the time 90% of the world’s oil was flowing.

They placed 200 Bear Bombers – the equivalent of the US B-52’s – as if sending a message to President Carter: “Checkmate”. A certain game was over – and a covert war was about to begin.

As our historical trip takes us from The Great Game to the Cold War, by now it’s more than established that the United States took on the mantle of the British Empire and filled in the power vacuum left by the British. If Connolly were to come back during the Cold War he would be right at home – as the Cold War was a continuation of the Great Game.

In between, of course, there was a guy named Hitler.

After Napoleon, it was Hitler who considered the Russians as barbarians and despite a nonaggression pact invaded Russia.

The Second Great European War (GEW II) was in fact fought between Germany and the USSR. Germany deployed 80% of its economic and military resources on its Eastern Front compared to 20% against the rest of the allies on the Western Front, where it was merely a ‘fire brigade operation’ (Hitler’s words).

Paul Carell describes the moment when, at 0315 on June 22nd 1941, the massive ‘Operation Barbarossa’ over a 900-mile front went under way.

“As though a switch had been thrown a gigantic flash of lightening rent the night. Guns of all calibres simultaneously belched fire. The tracks of tracer shells streaked across the sky. As far as the eye could see the front on the Bug was a sea of flames and flashes. A moment later the deep thunder of the guns swept over the tower of Volka Dobrynska like a steamroller. The whine of the mortar batteries mingled eerily with the rumble of the guns. Beyond the Bug a sea of fire and smoke was raging. The narrow sickle of the moon was hidden by a veil of cloud. Peace was dead.”

Bagration revisited

Russians are masters of Sun Tzu: “All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”

These principles were recently applied in Ukraine and Crimea. For background, one just needs to study the battle of Kursk as well as Operation Bagration.

The Soviet military doctrine of maskirovka was developed in the 1920s, and used by Zhukov in the 1939 Battles of Khalkhin Gol against Japan.

The Field Regulations of the Red Army (1929) stated that:

“Surprise has a stunning effect on the enemy. For this reason all troop operations must be accomplished with the greatest concealment and speed.”

Concealment was to be attained by confusing the enemy with movements, camouflage and use of terrain, speed, use of night and fog, and secrecy.

Operation Bagration – the Soviet destruction of the German Army Group Centre – was, arguably, the single most successful military action of the entire war. This vital Soviet offensive is symptomatic of the lack of public knowledge in the West about the war in the East. Whilst almost everyone has heard of D-Day, few people other than specialist historians know much about Operation Bagration.

Yet the sheer size of Bagration dwarfs that of D-Day.

“Army Group Centre was really the anchor of that whole German front,’ writes Professor Geoffrey Wawro, ‘blocking the shortest path to Berlin; and the Russians annihilated it at the same time as we were landing on D-Day and marching on, liberating Paris and then heading towards Germany. But the scope of the fighting was much bigger in the East.

You had ten times as many Russians fighting in Bagration as you had Anglo/American/Canadian troops landing on the Normandy beaches.

And you had three times as many Germans in action fighting trying to hold up the Russian advance as you had defending the Atlantic Wall.

So, it’s a perfect encapsulation of the problem (of lack of appreciation of the scale of fighting on the Eastern Front). I mean, think about it, when D-Day and Bagration jumped off, the allied armies in Normandy and the Russian armies on the Eastern Front were equidistant from Berlin, and in the German view they were sort of equal threats.

After Operation Bagration, Russia is seen as being the principal threat because they just kicked down the door altogether and reoccupied all the ground that was lost in 1941. They take most of Poland and they move into East Prussia and they’re at the very gates of Berlin while we’re still slogging our way through Normandy and towards Paris.”

Operation Bagration was a colossal victory for the Red Army. By the 3rd of July Soviet forces had recaptured Minsk, capital of Belorussia, a city which had been in German hands for three years. And by the end of July the Red Army had pushed into what had been, before the war, Polish territory, and had taken Lwow, the major cultural center of eastern Poland.

Before Operation Barbarossa, the German High Command masked the creation of the massive force arrayed to invade the USSR and heightened their diplomatic efforts to convince Joseph Stalin that they were about to launch a major attack on Britain.

Maskirovka (deception) was put into practice on a large scale in the Battle of Kursk, especially on the Steppe Front commanded by Ivan Konev.

The result was that the Germans attacked Russian forces four times stronger than they were expecting.

The German general Friedrich von Mellenthin wrote, “The horrible counter-attacks, in which huge masses of manpower and equipment took part, were an unpleasant surprise for us… The most clever camouflage of the Russians should be emphasized again. We did not .. detect even one minefield or anti-tank area until .. the first tank was blown up by a mine or the first Russian anti-tank guns opened fire”.

Broadly, military deception may take both strategic and tactical forms. Deception across a strategic battlefield was uncommon until the modern age (particularly in the world wars of the 20th century), but tactical deception (on individual battlefields) dates back to early history.

In a practical sense military deception employs visual misdirection, misinformation (for example, via double agents) and psychology to make the enemy believe something that is untrue. The use of military camouflage, especially on a large scale, is a form of deception.

The Russian loanword maskirovka (literally: masking) is used to describe the Soviet Union and Russia’s military doctrine of surprise through deception, in which camouflage plays a significant role.

There are numerous examples of deception activities employed throughout the history of warfare, such as: feigned retreat leading the enemy, through a false sense of security, into a pre-positioned ambush; fictional units creating entirely fictional forces or exaggerating the size of an army; smoke screen – a tactical deception involving smoke, fog, or other forms of cover to hide battlefield movements; Trojan Horse – gaining admittance to a fortified area under false pretenses, to later admit a larger attacking force; strategic envelopment – where a small force distracts the enemy while a much larger force moves to attack from the rear (that was a favored tactic of Napoleon’s).

And that brings us to Syria, and its importance to Russia.

The deep state in Washington wants to keep the entire spectrum from the Levant to the Indian sub-continent destabilized – shaping it as the platform to send sparks of terrorism North to Russia and East to China. At the same time the US military will keep a physical presence (if China, India and Russia will allow it) in Afghanistan, from where it can survey the Eurasian land mass. As a master geopolitical chess player, Putin is very much aware of all this.

Syria is right at the underbelly of Russia and would be strategically important if it were in the hands of remote-controlled thugs like Ukraine is today. It has the potential to destabilize Russia from the Caucasus to Central Asia – generating as many Salafi-jihadi terrorists as possible. The region from the Caucasus to Central Asia holds about 80 million Muslims. Russia has enough reasons to stop US advances in Syria and Ukraine. Not to mention that in Iraqi Kurdistan the Pentagon is aiming to build a mega base, a springboard to create mischief in Central Asia for both Russia and China, in the form, for instance, of an Uyghur uprising in Western China, like it has done in Ukraine for Russia.

Once again; it may be helpful to look back to the continuum of history. It tells us these current efforts to encircle and destabilize Russia are destined to fail. (edited by Pepe Escobar)

Selected bibliography:

Carell, Paul: Hitler’s War on Russia (George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., London, 1964).
Fraser-Tytler, W.K.: Afghanistan: A Study of Political Developments in Central Asia (Oxford University Press, London, 1950).
Hopkirk, Peter: Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia (First Published by John Murry (Publisher), 1980; First issued as an Oxford University Press, paperback 1980, Oxford).
Tzu, Sun: The Art of War (Edited with an introduction by Dallas Galvin; Translated from Chinese by Lionel Giles, First Published in 1910, Produced by Fine Creative Media, Inc. New Yor
Gibbon, Edward: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume III (Random House Inc. Manufactured in the United States by H. Wolf).
Weatherford, Jack: Genghis Khan and the making of the Modern World (Three Rivers Press, New York).
Wawro, Geoffrey: WW2.com (Professor of Military History at the University of North Texas).

Barcelona Votes to End «Israeli» Occupation & Illegal Settlements

Local Editor

Barcelona City Council passed a historic declaration on Wednesday upholding the right to boycott the “Israeli” entity over its violations of Palestinian rights.

Boycott "Israeli" apartheid protest in Spain

The motion condemns the apartheid entity’s occupation of Palestinian land, calls for the immediate end to the decade-long Gaza blockade and ensures that the city’s public procurement policies exclude companies that profit from “Israel’s” human rights abuses.

It also admonishes the “Israeli” entity for its intransigence in the face of repeated warnings from the international community to stop its illegal colonization of Palestinian land, according to the Catalan daily Ara.

The council recognizes “nonviolent campaigns promoted by Palestinian and international civil society for defending international and human rights law in Palestine” – a clear nod to the BDS movement.

The city joins dozens of Spanish municipalities which have declared themselves “free of ‘Israeli’ apartheid.”

A coalition of Spanish and Catalan boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS] groups welcomed the vote.

“We celebrate this victory because we believe it to be a great step forward in raising the awareness of the role of local government in the defense of human rights and in breaking the complicity that inherently bolsters apartheid and the occupation of Palestine,” the groups state.

“This resolution is an institutional recognition of civil society demands for an end to complicity in violations of international law through nonviolent struggle, as practiced by the BDS movement,” the groups add.

The city’s recognition of the right to engage in “Israel” boycott activism, at a time when more European governments move to protect such activism, “is a triumph for free speech and democratic rights in Europe,” said Rafeef Ziadah of the Palestinian BDS National Committee.

“It gives further recognition to BDS as an inclusive, inspiring, anti-racist movement rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that upholds the basic principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity,” Ziadah added.

For years, Spanish and Catalan activists had engaged in direct action against academic and cultural partnerships with “Israeli”-backed institutions.

In 2014, dozens of activists occupied the offices of Catalan government representatives to protest a wave of newly signed academic collaboration deals between the autonomous region and the “Israeli” entity.

The action forced the representatives to agree to examine proposals aimed at ensuring the new deals do not benefit institutions and companies that participate in the entity’s occupation.

More than 350 Catalan academics and university staff backed the action, calling for the boycott of “Israeli” academic institutions.

The “Israeli” regime, meanwhile, has expressed worry over the growing popularity of BDS activism in Spain, especially as larger cities such as Barcelona, led by left-wing mayor Ada Colau, vote to support Palestinian rights.

A 2016 cable from the “Israeli” embassy in Spain described “the phenomenon of anti-‘Israeli’ activity in Spain” as “bothersome and worrisome, but in the past was centered in small cities.”

But the cable warned that Barcelona city council members were considering canceling a sister-city agreement with Tel Aviv, according to The Jerusalem Post.

After Wednesday’s city Council Vote, David Bondia Garcia, a professor of international law and president of the Institut de Drets Humans de Catalunya, a human rights organization, asserted in the newspaper el Periódico that a break in the twinning agreement with Tel Aviv would be the next logical step.

The Barcelona motion comes just two months after pro-“Israel” groups in Spain filed charges against Palestine solidarity activists for calling on a music festival two years ago to cancel a performer who had used his celebrity to fundraise for the “Israeli” army and to support anti-Palestinian causes.

Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian human rights activist and co-founder of the BDS movement, called the charges “legal intimidation.”

israel | barcelona | bds | spain | israeli apartheid

Source: EI, Edited by website team

21-04-2017 | 13:02

History: How African Muslims “Civilized Spain”

Today marks the anniversary of the end of nearly 700 years of African Muslim rule over Spain, Portugal and Southern France.

Four hundred and eight years ago today King Phillip III of Spain signed an order, which was one of the earliest examples of ethnic cleansing. At the height of the Spanish inquisition, King Phillip III ordered the expulsion of 300,000 Muslim Moriscos, which initiated one of the most brutal and tragic episodes in the history of Spain.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it was ancient Africans that brought civilization to Spain and large parts of Europe and not the other way around.

The first civilization of Europe was established on the Greek island of Crete in 1700 BC and the Greeks were primarily civilized by the Black Africans of the Nile Valley. The Greeks then passed on this acquired culture to the Romans who ultimately lost it; thus, initiating the Dark Ages that lasted for five centuries. Civilization was once again reintroduced to Europe when another group of Black Africans, The Moors, brought the Dark Ages to an end.

Related image

When history is taught in the West, the period called the “Middle Ages” is generally referred to as the “Dark Ages,” and depicted as the period during which civilization in general, including the arts and sciences, laid somewhat idle. This was certainly true for Europeans, but not for Africans.

Renowned historian, Cheikh Anta Diop, explains how during the Middle Ages, the great empires of the world were Black empires, and the educational and cultural centers of the world were predominately African. Moreover, during that period, it was the Europeans who were the lawless barbarians.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire multitudes of white warring tribes from the Caucus were pushed into Western Europe by the invading Huns. The Moors invaded Spanish shores in 711 AD and African Muslims literally civilized the wild, white tribes from the Caucus. The Moors eventually ruled over Spain, Portugal, North Africa and southern France for over seven hundred years.

Although generations of Spanish rulers have tried to expunge this era from the historical record, recent archaeology and scholarship now sheds new light on how Moorish advances in mathematics, astronomy, art, and philosophy helped propel Europe out of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance.

One the most famous British historians Basil Davidson, noted that during the eighth century there was no land “more admired by its neighbours, or more comfortable to live in, than a rich African civilization which took shape in Spain”.

The Moors were unquestionably Black and the 16th century English playwright William Shakespeare used the word Moor as a synonym for African.

Education was universal in Muslim Spain, while in Christian Europe, 99 percent of the population was illiterate, and even kings could neither read nor write. The Moors boasted a remarkably high literacy rate for a pre-modern society. During an era when Europe had only two universities, the Moors had seventeen. The founders of Oxford University were inspired to form the institution after visiting universities in Spain. According to the United Nations’ Education body, the oldest university operating in the world today, is the University of Al-Karaouine of Morocco founded during the height of the Moorish Empire in 859 A.D. by a Black woman named Fatima al-Fihri.

In the realm of mathematics, the number zero (0), the Arabic numerals, and the decimal system were all introduced to Europe by Muslims, assisting them to solve problems far more quickly and accurately and laying the foundation for the Scientific Revolution.

The Moors’ scientific curiosity extended to flight and polymath, Ibn Firnas, made the world’s first scientific attempt to fly in a controlled manner, in 875 A.D. Historical archives suggest that his attempt worked, but his landing was somewhat less successful.

Africans took to the skies some six centuries before the Italian Leonardo Da Vinci developed a hang glider.

Clearly, the Moors helped to lift the general European populace out of the Dark Ages, and paved the way for the Renaissance period. In fact, a large number of the traits on which modern Europe prides itself came to it from Muslim Spain, namely, free trade, diplomacy, open borders, etiquette, advanced seafaring, research methods, and key advances in chemistry.

At a time when the Moors built 600 public baths and the rulers lived in sumptuous palaces, the monarchs of Germany, France, and England convinced their subjects that cleanliness was a sin and European kings dwelt in big barns, with no windows and no chimneys, often with only a hole in the roof for the exit of smoke.

Image result for Cordoba MoorIn the 10th century, Cordoba was not just the capital of Moorish Spain but also the most important  and modern city in Europe. Cordoba boasted a population of half a million and had street lighting, fifty hospitals with running water, five hundred mosques and seventy libraries, one of which held over 500,000 books.

All of these achievements occurred at a time when London had a predominantly illiterate population of around 20,000 and had largely forgotten the technical advances of the Romans some six hundred years before. Street lamps and paved streets did not appear in London or Paris until hundreds of years later.

The Catholic Church forbade money lending which severely hampered any efforts at economic progress. Medieval Christian Europe was a miserable lot, which was riffe with squalor, barbarism, illiteracy, and mysticism.

In Europe’s great Age of Exploration, Spain and Portugal were the leaders in global seafaring. It was the Moorish advances in navigational technology such as the astrolabe and sextant, as well as their improvements in cartography and shipbuilding, that paved the way for the Age of Exploration. Thus, the era of Western global dominance of the past half-millennium originated from the African Moorish sailors of the Iberian Peninsula during the 1300s.

Long before Spanish Monarchs commissioned Columbus’ search for land to the West, African Muslims, amongst others, had long since established significant contact with the Americas and left a lasting impression on Native culture.

One can only wonder how Columbus could have discovered America when a highly civilised and sophisticated people were watching him arrive from America’s shores?

An overwhelming body of new evidence is emerging which proves that Africans had frequently sailed across the Atlantic to the Americas, thousands of years before Columbus and indeed before Christ. Dr. Barry Fell of Harvard University highlights an array of evidence of Muslims in America before Columbus from sculptures, oral traditions, coins, eye-witness reports, ancient artifacts, Arabic documents and inscriptions.

The strongest evidence of African presence in America before Columbus comes from the pen of Columbus himself. In 1920, a renowned American historian and linguist, Leo Weiner of Harvard University, in his book, Africa and the Discovery of America, explained how Columbus noted in his journal that Native Americans had confirmed that,

“black skinned people had come from the south-east in boats, trading in gold-tipped spears.”

Muslim Spain not only collected and perpetuated the intellectual advances of Ancient Egypt, Greece and Roman civilisation, it also expanded on that civilisation and made its own vital contributions in fields ranging from astronomy, pharmacology, maritime navigation, architecture and law.

The centuries old impression given by some Western scholars that the African continent made little or no contributions to civilization, and that its people are naturally primitive has, unfortunately, became the basis of racial prejudice, slavery, colonialism and the ongoing economic oppression of Africa. If Africans re-write their true history, they will reveal a glory that they will inevitably seek to recapture. After all, the greatest threat towards Africa having a glorious future is her people’s ignorance of Africa’s glorious past.

Garikai Chengu is a scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on garikai.chengu@gmail.com.

Spanish cities free themselves of israeli Apartheid

Spanish cities free themselves of Israeli Apartheid 

‘It is our responsibility to do what is in our reach to support justice in Palestine’

Co-authored by Maren Mantovani and Ángel Alonso.

“It is our responsibility to do what is in our reach to support justice in Palestine.” With these sound and simple words Jesús Manuel Sánchez Antuña, the mayor of Langreo, has reaffirmed the solidarity of the small town in Asturias, in northern Spain. We had visited to thank the local council for its decision to declare the municipality ‘free of Israeli Apartheid’ and not to contract any companies that are involved in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and international law.

Almost 60 local and regional councils all across the Spanish state have passed similar motions over the last two years. Only recently, the provincial capital Cádiz (Andalucia, southern Spain) and eight more councils in the province have joined the effort. At the end of July, the town of Santa Eulària on the island of Ibiza, one the most popular holiday resorts in the Balearic islands, opted to free itself of Israeli apartheid passing such a solidarity motion. Other world-famous places in Spain, including the island of Gran Canaria, Córdoba, Sevilla, Santiago de Compostela and Gijón, are today destinations that offer an unforgettable holiday free of Israeli apartheid.

The wave of support for Palestinian rights among cities across the Spanish state is based on the campaign to build ‘Israeli Apartheid Free Zones’ launched in 2014 by RESCOP to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Wall. The Israeli Apartheid Free Zones are part of the global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) and ‘support the creation, in our neighbourhoods, towns and cities, of commercial, cultural, political, sporting, academic and social spaces in the Spanish state, which refuse to collaborate with, or passively support, the Israeli colonial and apartheid system’. The campaign aims to ‘create islands of political awareness and to consolidate Israeli Apartheid Free Zones in different parts of the Spanish State’.

In Gijón (Asturias), for example, one can walk into shops, libraries, restaurants, bars and coffee shops that display a logo at the entrance alerting that the space is ‘Israeli apartheid free’. Citizens and visitors can shop or meet friends in environments that guarantee that in these premises no products from Israel or companies that are targeted by the global BDS movement are being sold or used in the food or products. These are spaces where no Israeli propaganda or cultural whitewashing is tolerated.

Since 2015, more and more municipalities in the Spanish state are joining the movement to free themselves of Israeli apartheid. Municipal councils have passed motions committing to ensure that taxpayers’ money is not spent on companies and products that are complicit in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and that the local institutions do not promote relationships with Israeli institutions that would legitimate or support Israeli illegal policies against the Palestinian people. This includes adapting  procurement processes in order to reflect this position and declaring the Israeli ambassador in Spain “persona non grata”. They further promote the logo of the ‘Israeli Apartheid Free Zones’ and support local Palestine solidarity initiatives.

As the Association in Defense of Human Rights in Andalucía has explained:

the Israeli Apartheid Free Zones campaign is a positive proposal which allows a conscious purchase policy, a responsible and fair consumption that does not mean the boycott to specific (local) businesses but encourages the choice of companies and products that are made in the context of human rights violations. This measure, which in fact also favors local production and trade, is intended to inform neighbors and consumers about production conditions and to raise awareness about the situation of the Palestinian population expelled from their own territories and under apartheid in their own country.

Over decades, an unparalleled number of states, multilateral organizations and all levels of UN bodies have condemned Israeli policies and underlined the urgency for Israel and the international community to stop, prevent and remedy Israeli violations of international law. Yet, governments have remained largely idle. It is therefore encouraging to see that such a large number of Spanish local and regional councils are now taking action to fulfill human rights, clearly understanding the global impact of their local actions and are using local democracy to promote solidarity and consciousness of the public.

In fact, the steps taken by the ‘apartheid free’ local and regional councils are simply the fulfillment of an obligation for all state actors. Local authorities and other spheres of government bear a legal obligation to withhold recognition, cooperation and transaction with, and/or assistance to parties in any situation that breaches the fundamental principles of international law. These obligations are self-executing and require no further legislative act or incorporation into national law, but only the opportunity, political will and capacity to exercise them. Failure of federal governments to comply with the state’s obligations does not exonerate other spheres of government within a territory from their duties. Based on this understanding, in December 2014, the International Conference on Local Government and Civil Society Organizations in Support of the Rights of the Palestinian People organized by the UN and local government networks in Seville called  in its final statement (Olive Declaration’) on local governments to “commit to responsible investment, to refrain from contracting with parties and/or twinning with cities that support or benefit from occupation, or violate related prohibitions under international law”.

Pitiful is thus the reaction of the pro-Israel lobby in the face of growing support for such actions. After supporters of Israeli apartheid policies lost the democratic process in ever more local councils, they have used a recently created NGO to bring legal cases against some of those municipalities. They aim to use district court decisions to prohibit local councils from introducing human rights based criteria in their procurement procedures, arguing this would constitute ‘discrimination’.

Such logic favours impunity not only for all those companies and institutions complicit with Israeli crimes and illegal policies, but would, if successful, promote complete impunity for any human rights violating corporation. Citizens, social justice movements and decision makers alike would see themselves deprived of the possibility to define even the most basic red lines on how their money will be spent.

It is not surprising that pro-Israel efforts once again align with corporate interests and show anti-democratic traits. Israeli occupation, apartheid and colonialism are sustainable exactly because it denies an entire population its rights and ensures corporations can reap profits from its expansionism and repression of the Palestinian people.

It is therefore in the interest of all of us that we defend local democracy, the principles of international law and the values of human rights. While you may start the campaign to free your own city from Israeli apartheid, come and enjoy your holidays in the Israeli apartheid free cities, bars and restaurants in the Spanish state.

Maren Mantovani, coordinator of international relations of the Palestinian Stop the Wall Campaign. Ángel Alonso, member of the Arab Cause Solidarity Committee, a member of the Solidarity Network against the Occupation of Palestine in the Spanish State (RESCOP).

Dozens of Spanish cities boycott Israel

Dozens of Spanish cities boycott Israel

 

An unprecedented victory for the BDS movement and for Palestine solidarity groups across the Spanish state that have prevailed against relentless ‘Israel’ lobby attempts to intimidate them into silence through propaganda and expensive court cases …

Cadiz, provincial capital in the autonomous community of Andalusia in the Spanish state, has become the latest municipality to pass a motion supporting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights and declaring itself an Israeli “Apartheid Free Zone”.

With a population of 120,000, Cadiz joins more than 50 cities and towns across the Spanish state which have voted to declare themselves spaces free from Israeli apartheid. Other famous Apartheid Free municipalities include Gran Canaria, Santiago de Compostela, Xixón-Gijón, Sevilla, Córdoba and Santa Eulària in Ibiza.

Inspired in part by a similar campaign during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s, the Israeli Apartheid Free Zone campaign, led by the Solidarity Network Against the Occupation of Palestine (RESCOP), seeks to create ‘islands of political consciousness’ and to break local ties with the Israeli occupation regime, settler-colonialism and apartheid, as well as with international corporations and institutions that are complicit in the maintenance of Israel’s violations of international law.

The campaign, which is supported  by  social movements, businesses, schools, media and public institutions from across the Spanish state, has created a map indicating spaces free from Israeli apartheid.

Source: agencies

Dozens of Spanish cities declaring themselves ‘Free of israeli Apartheid’

Dozens of Spanish cities declaring themselves ‘Free of Israeli Apartheid’

Santiago Israeli Apartheid Free Zone

Cadiz, provincial capital in the autonomous community of Andalusia in the Spanish state, has become the latest municipality to pass a motion supporting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights and declaring itself an Israeli “Apartheid Free Zone”.
With a population of 120,000, Cadiz joins more than 50 cities and towns across the Spanish state which have voted to declare themselves spaces free from Israeli apartheid. Other famous Apartheid Free municipalities include Gran Canaria, Santiago de Compostela, Xixón-Gijón, Sevilla, Córdoba and Santa Eulària in Ibiza.

Inspired in part by a similar campaign during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s, the Israeli Apartheid Free Zone campaign, led by the Solidarity Network Against the Occupation of Palestine (RESCOP), seeks to create ‘islands of political consciousness’ and to break local ties with Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid, as well as with international corporations and institutions that are complicit in the maintenance of Israel’s violations of international law.

The campaign, which is supported by social movements, businesses, schools, media and public institutions from across the Spanish state, has created a map indicating spaces free from Israeli apartheid.

By declaring themselves Israeli Apartheid Free Zones, local authorities agree to boycott corporations complicit in violations of international law and the rights of Palestinians as well as break ties with the Israeli regime and its complicit institutions. They will also support local awareness raising efforts and commit to conscientious procurement policies based on the human rights of the Palestinian people.

Riya Hassan, European coordinator for the Palestinians BDS National Committee ( BNC), said:

“The Israeli Apartheid Free Zones campaign across the Spanish state is inspiring similar efforts in other countries. The fact that these declarations have been voted by democratically elected municipalities reflect the growing support for the BDS movement for Palestinian rights, not just at the grassroots level but also within governments. This will eventually steer public opinion in favor of comprehensive sanctions on Israel until it end its systematic oppression of Palestinians.“

“Local councils in the Spanish state are leading the way with a powerful model of solidarity with the Palestinian people and our struggle for self-determination. We salute all councilors and activists involved in proposing and defending the motions and those involved in the implementation of the Israeli apartheid-free zones.”

“At a time of a growing democratic deficit across the European continent, it is empowering to witness how citizens are integrating solidarity with Palestinians with domestic agendas that promote social, economic and environmental justice.”

Attacks on a movement for freedom, justice and equality

Growing public support for the BDS movement for Palestinian human rights has prompted Israel and its allies to launch an unprecedented, well-funded and anti-democratic attack against everyone seeking to hold Israel accountable to international law and UN resolutions, especially through BDS advocacy.
The Israeli-sponsored attacks on the BDS movement aim to put pressure on governments, legislators and officials to curtail BDS civic actions and adopt repressive measures that infringe upon their respective citizens’ civil and political liberties at large.

In the Spanish state, attempts to silence the BDS movement, particularly on an institutional level, have been led by ACOM, a pro-Israeli Madrid-based lobby group.

ACOM has launched a number of legal appeals against local councils that have declared themselves Israeli Apartheid Free Zones.

However, ACOM’s strategy of intimidation has not been successful. Targeted cities have defended the democratic outcome of the votes, and informed courts, such as the First Administrative Court of Gijon, refused to accept ACOM’s complaints.

Similar legal charges were lodged against three local councils in the UK by the so-called Jewish Human Rights Watch, a London based Israel lobby group. Also there, the UK High Court rejected the complaints and ruled in favour of the three local councils which had passed resolutions in support of targeted boycotts of Israel’s occupation.

RESCOP commented in a statement: :

“It is intolerable that a foreign entity defending a system of apartheid, such as ACOM, should interfere in the democratic sovereignty of our municipalities, dictating what we can vote for and what not, and preventing our institutions from being committed to human rights.”

This latest decision by the city of Cadiz to join the inspiring wave of other Spanish cities and towns in declaring themselves zones free from Israeli apartheid is a sign that citizens and elected representatives are not intimidated by ACOM’s legal threats.

“By supporting the BDS movement for Palestinian rights and choosing not to engage with institutions and corporations directly involved in Israel’s egregious crimes against the Palestinian people, people of conscience and municipalities across the Spanish state are taking a concrete step to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people,” Riya Hassan concluded.

LIST OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATIONS DECLARED ELAI AND / OR ADHERED TO BDS IN THE SPANISH STATE (until August 11, 2016)

Andalucía
Diputación de Sevilla
Ayuntamiento de La Roda
Ayuntamiento Castro del Río
Ayunamiento de Montoro
Ayuntamiento de Mairena del Aljarafe
Ayuntamiento Los Corrales
Ayuntamiento Alhaurín de la Torre
Ayuntamiento de Campillos
Ayuntamiento de Casares
Diputación de Córdoba
Ayuntamiento de Velvez-Málaga
Ayuntamiento de San Roque
Ayuntamiento de San Fernando
Catalunya
Ajuntament de Artés
Ajuntament de Sant Pere de Ruidebitlles
Ajuntament de Molins de Rei
Ajuntament de Sant Cebriá de Vallalta
Ajuntamnet de Badalona
Ajuntament de Sant Celoni
Ajuntament de Ripollet
Ajuntament de Sant Feliu de Llobregat
Ajuntament de Abrera
Ajuntament de Sant Boi de Llobregat
Ajuntament de Terrasa
Ajuntament de Olesa de Montserrat
Ajuntament de Sant Adrià de Besòs
Ajuntament de Sant Quirze del Vallès
Ajuntament de Barberá del Vallès
Ajuntament de Viladamat
Madrid
Ayuntamiento de Navalafuente
Ayuntamiento de Rivas-Vaciamadrid
Asturies
Ayuntamiento de Corvera
Ayuntamiento de Castrillón
Ayuntamiento de Gijón
Ayuntamieno de Llangreu

Galiza
O Concello de Compostela
Concello de Oleiros
Islas Canarias
Cabildo de Gran Canaria
Ayuntamiento de Telde
Aragón
Ayuntamiento de Sabiñánigo
País Valencià
Ajuntament de Alcoi
Ajuntament de Muro
Ajuntament de Onda
Ajuntament de Concentaina
Ajuntament de Catarroja
Ajuntament de Xeraco
Ajuntament de Benlloch
Ajuntament de Petrer
Castilla y León
Ayuntamiento de Viloria del Henar
Illes Balears
Ajuntament de Santa Euràlia

How the USA government perverted the course of justice to avoid war crimes prosecutions

How the US government perverted the course of justice to avoid war crimes prosecutions

Source: The Canary

Above is Part One of a video interview with Baltasar Garzón, the renowned jurist, which includes observations about the attempted prosecutions of Bush officials regarding torture allegations and war crimes – and how the US secretly pressurised the Spanish Government to ensure no such prosecutions took place. (Part Two of the video is given below.)

Part 4: ‘The Other Chilcot’

The US strategy from the beginning of the second Iraq War has been to deflect criticism and prosecution by blaming others. The war began with a lie: that Saddam Hussein had WMD (the true reason for invasion was, of course, oil and an attempt at geo-strategic takeover). During the course of the war the US government ensured it was not charged for war crimes or torture.

This article – the last in the series – concludes with a summary of the main charges of war crimes and torture that could be raised against the Bush administration if ever there was an official investigation (which is highly unlikely).

The attempt to prosecute the US government

The Obama administration worked closely with Republicans during President Obama’s first few months in office to protect Bush administration officials facing an overseas criminal investigation for their involvement in establishing policies that condoned the use of torture.

A confidential 17 April 2009 cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid and obtained by WikiLeaks detailed how the Obama administration leaned on the Spanish government to derail this potential prosecution by Baltasar Garzón .

How did this happen?

In March 2009 Baltasar Garzón considered whether Spain should allow charges to be filed against former officials from the United States government under George W. Bush for offering justifications for torture.

However, the investigation was subsequently assigned to Judge Eloy Velasco, who chose not to pursue it (surprise, surprise!), stating that Spain could not investigate the case unless the US agreed it would not conduct its own investigation. In a US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks it was revealed that Chief Prosecutor Javier Zaragoza had intended to argue that the case should not be assigned to Judge Garzón.

In a later cable it was stated that Garzón was “forced to give up” the investigation. It was also revealed that Zaragoza had strategised how to force Garzón to give up the case – namely:

* On April 16 2009 the Spanish Attorney General, Cándido Conde-Pumpido, stated that he thought the Spanish investigative magistrate should drop the consideration of charges against the six men.
* On April 17 2009 Conde-Pumpido said his office would not support Judge Baltasar Garzon’s ‘outrageous effort’ to prosecute six Bush Administration officials for their role in the US antiterror effort.
* On April 23 2009 Eloy Velasco took over responsibility for determining whether or not the six former Bush officials should face Spanish charges.
* On 29 April 2009 Garzón opened an investigation into an alleged “systematic programme” of torture at Guantánamo Bay, following accusations by four former prisoners. Similarly, the leaked cable indicated that the Chief Prosecutor intended to fight this investigation too, and that he feared “Garzón may attempt to wring all the publicity he can from the case unless and until he is forced to give it up.”

At the time The Guardian reported that Garzón had initiated a formal investigation into whether confessions from four former Guantanamo captives were the result of the use of abusive interrogation techniques. The four men – Hamed Abderrahman Ahmed, Lahcen Ikassrien, Jamiel Abdul Latif al Banna and Omar Deghayes – had previously faced charges in Spanish courts, based on confessions they made while in US custody. Their charges had been dropped, based on their claims that their confessions were false and the result of abusive interrogation techniques.

* On May 5 2009 Velasco formally requested the USA to indicate whether they were going to conduct a domestic inquiry into the six men’s conduct. (Spain’s principle of universal justice allows third party states to charge non-citizens and request their extradition only when their country of citizenship has not conducted its own investigation.)
* On May 20 2009 the New York Times reported that some Spanish legislators were proposing a law to strip investigating magistrates of the authority to pursue international human rights cases. This law, however, would not retroactively put an end to the progress of current cases but would halt the initiation of similar cases.

Andy Worthington, writing in the Huffington Post, gave an account of this story:

Zaragoza said he had challenged Garzón directly and personally on this latest case, asking if he was trying to drum up more speaking fees. Garzón replied he was doing it for the record only and would let it die. Zaragoza opined that Garzón, having gotten his headline, would soon drop the matter. In case he does not, Zaragoza has a strategy to force his hand. Zaragoza’s strategy hinges on the older case in which Garzón investigated terrorism complaints against some Guantanamo detainees. In connection with those earlier investigations, Garzón ordered the Spanish police to visit Guantanamo and collect evidence against the suspected terrorists. Zaragoza reasons that he can use this fact to embarrass Garzón into dropping this latest case by suggesting that Garzón in some sense condoned the U.S. approach to detainee issues circa 2004. Garzón took no action in 2004 when the suspects returned to Spain and reported to him their alleged mistreatment. Zaragoza said that if Garzón could not be shamed into dropping the case, then he would formally recommend Garzón do so and appeal if Garzón ignored him.

Numerous embassy cables published by Wikileaks centered on the progression of the case. US government intentions were summarised in a confidential cable, dated 1 April 2009. The summary was sent to the US State Department by the Madrid embassy.

The cable suggested that the US had intended to convince Spanish officials to interfere with the National Court’s judicial independence:

A Spanish NGO has requested that the National Court indict six Bush Administration officials for creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture. The NGO is attempting to have the case heard by Investigating Judge Baltasar Garzon, internationally known for his dogged pursuit of “universal jurisdiction” cases. Garzon has passed the complaint to the Prosecutor’s office so that they can determine if there is a legitimate case. Although he seemed displeased to have this dropped in his lap, Chief Prosecutor Zaragoza told us that in all likelihood he would have no option but to open the case. He said he did not envision indictments or arrest warrants in the near future. He would also argue against the case being assigned to Garzon. MFA and MOJ contacts told us that they are concerned about the case, but have stressed the independence of the Spanish judiciary. They too have suggested the case will move…

The six accused were former Attorney General Gonzales; David Addington, former chief of staff and legal adviser to the Vice President; William Haynes, former DOD General Counsel; Douglas Feith, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Jay Bybee, former head of the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel; and John Yoo, a former member of Bybee’s.

The complaint alleged that the accused conspired with criminal intent to construct a legal framework to permit interrogation techniques and detentions in violation of international law.

The complaint described a number of US documents, including: a 28 December 2001 memorandum regarding US courts’ jurisdiction over Guantanamo detainees; a 7 February 2002 memorandum, saying the detainees were not covered by the Geneva Convention; a 13 March 2002 memorandum on new interrogation techniques; a 1 August 2002 memorandum on the definition of torture; a 27 November 2002 memorandum recommending approval of 15 new interrogation techniques; and a 14 March 2003 memorandum providing a legal justification for new interrogation techniques.

The complaint also cited a 2006 US Supreme Court case which it says held the February 2002 memo in violation of international law and President Obama’s Executive Order on ensuring lawful interrogations…

The complaint asserted Spanish jurisdiction by claiming that the alleged crimes committed at Guantanamo violated the 1949 Geneva Convention and its Additional Protocols of 1977, the 1984 Convention Against Torture or Other Cruel, Unusual or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the 1998 Rome Statute. The GOS [Government of Spain] is a signatory to all three instruments. The complaint cites Article 7 of the 1984 Convention Against Torture, which states that if a person accused of torture is not extradited to the nation that is bringing a case against him or her, then the competent authorities in the country where the person is should bring a case against him or her.

The cable concluded…

We do not know if the government would be willing to take the risky step of trying behind the scenes to influence the prosecutor’s recommendation on this case or what their reaction to such a request would be.

Here is Part Two of the Garzon video

The war crimes allegations

This list of allegations is based partly on those raised by Chelsea Manning in a statement to her military tribunal, and partly on evidence published by her support network. The main charges relate directly to the 2003 Iraq War (as well as to the conflict in Afghanistan).

Charge #1. US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers, whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished. The “Iraq War Logs” published by WikiLeaks revealed that thousands of reports of prisoner abuse and torture had been filed against the Iraqi Security Forces. Medical evidence detailed how prisoners had been whipped with heavy cables across the feet, hung from ceiling hooks, suffered holes being bored into their legs with electric drills, urinated upon, and sexually assaulted.

Charge #2. The “Iraq War Logs” also revealed the existence of “Frago 242”, a US Army order implemented in 2004 not to investigate allegations of abuse against the Iraqi government. This order is a direct violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, which was ratified by the United States in 1994. The Convention prohibits the Armed Forces from transferring a detainee to other countries “where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” According to the State Department’s own reports, the US government was already aware that the Iraqi Security Forces engaged in torture.

Charge #3. The Guantanamo Files describe how detainees were arrested based on what the New York Times referred to as highly subjective evidence. For example, some poor farmers were captured after they were found wearing a common watch or a jacket that was the same as those also worn by al-Qaeda operatives. How quickly innocent prisoners were released was heavily dependent on their country of origin. Because the evidence collected against Guantanamo prisoners is not permissible in US courts the US State Department offered millions of dollars to other countries to take and try its prisoners.

According to a US diplomatic cable written on 17 April 2009, the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners requested that the National Court indict six former US officials for creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture against five Spanish prisoners at Guantanamo. However, “Senator Mel Martinez… met Acting FM [Foreign Minister] Angel Lossada… on April 15. Martinez… underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the US and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship”.

Charge #4. US special-operations forces targeted militants without trial in secret assassination missions, and many more Afghan civilians were killed by accident than previously reported, according to the WikiLeaks Afghanistan war document dump.

Charge #5. The “Collateral Murder” video released by Wikileaks depicted the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad, including two journalists working for Reuters. The Reuters news organisation was repeatedly denied its attempts to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-sight, clearly showed the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters photographer and his rescuers. Two young children who were present in the attempted rescue were also seriously wounded. Ethan McCord, a US army soldier who can be seen in the video carrying wounded children to safety, has said that whoever revealed this video is a “hero.” An internal US military investigation concluded that the incident was consistent with the military’s ‘Rules of Engagement’.

Charge #6. There is (despite US government claims to the opposite) an official tally of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even though the Bush and Obama Administrations maintained publicly that there was no official count of civilian casualties, the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs showed that this claim was false. Between 2004 and 2009 the US government counted a total of 109,000 deaths in Iraq, with 66,081 classified as non-combatants. However, a respected British medical journal published a set of figures indicating not just thousands of Iraqi casualties but closer to a million – a genocide in both name and fact, that is only now becoming apparent.

Of course, there is no ‘Other Chilcot’ and so these charges will not be examined. Democracy in the USA is an illusion and America’s war in Iraq was an obscenity.

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