Lavrov’s remarks at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly

September 29, 2018

Lavrov’s remarks at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, New York, September 28, 2018

Madam President, ladies and gentlemen,

The speeches delivered during the general discussion at this session of the UN General Assembly confirm the fact that international relations are going through a very complex and contradictory historical stage.

Today, we are witnesses to a collision of two opposing trends. On the one hand, the polycentric principles of the world order are growing stronger and new economic growth centres are taking shape. We can see nations striving to preserve their sovereignty and to choose the development models that are consistent with their ethnic, cultural and religious identity. On the other hand, we see the desire of a number of Western states to retain their self-proclaimed status as “world leaders” and to slow down the irreversible move toward multipolarity that is objectively taking place. To this end, anything goes, up to and including political blackmail, economic pressure and brute force.

Such illegal actions devalue international law, which lies at the foundation of the postwar world order. We hear loud statements not only calling into question the legal force of international treaties, but asserting the priority of self-serving unilateral approaches over resolutions adopted by the UN.

We are witnessing the rise of militant revisionism with regard to the modern international legal system. The basic principles of the Middle East settlement process, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the Iranian nuclear programme, commitments under the World Trade Organisation, the multilateral climate agreement, and much more are under attack.

Our Western colleagues seek to replace the rule of law in international affairs with some “rules-based order.” These rules, which are made up as political expediency dictates, are a clear case of double standards. Unjustified accusations of interference in the domestic affairs of particular countries are made while simultaneously engaging in an open campaign to undermine and topple democratically elected governments. They seek to draw certain countries into military alliances built to suit their own needs, against the will of the people of those countries, while threatening other states with punishment for exercising freedom of choice in their partners and allies.

The aggressive attacks on international institutions are accompanied by attempts to “privatise” their secretarial structures and grant them the rights of intergovernmental bodies so that they can be manipulated.

The shrinking space for constructive international cooperation, the escalation of confrontation, the rise in general unpredictability, and the significant increase in the risk of spontaneous conflicts – all have an impact on the activities of this world organisation.

The international community has to pay a high price for the selfish ambitions of a narrow group of countries. Collective mechanisms of responding to common security challenges are faltering. Diplomacy, negotiation and compromise are being replaced with dictates and unilateral exterritorial sanctions enacted without the consent of the UN Security Council.  Such measures that already affect dozens of countries are not only illegal but also ineffective, as demonstrated by the more than half-century US embargo of Cuba that is denounced by the entire international community.

But history does not teach the same lesson twice. Attempts to pass verdicts without trial or investigation continue unabated. Some of our Western colleagues who want to assign blame are content to rely on assertions in the vein of the notorious “highly likely.” We have already been through this. We remember well how many times false pretexts were used to justify interventions and wars, like in Yugoslavia in 1999, Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011.

Now the same methods are being used against Syria. On April 14, it was subjected to missile strikes carried out under an absolutely falsified pretext, several hours before international inspectors were supposed to arrive at the site of the staged incident. Let the terrorists and their patrons be warned that any further provocations involving the use of chemical weapons would be unacceptable.

The conflict in Syria has already lasted for seven years. The failed attempt to use extremists to change the regime from the outside nearly led to the country’s collapse and the emergence of a terrorist caliphate in its place.

Russia’s bold action in response to the request of the Syrian Government, backed diplomatically by the Astana process, helped prevent this destructive scenario. The Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi, initiated by Russia, Iran and Turkey last January, created the conditions for a political settlement in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254. The intra-Syrian Constitutional Committee is being established in Geneva on precisely this basis. Rebuilding ruined infrastructure to enable millions of refugees to return home as soon as possible is on the agenda. Assistance in resolving these challenges for the benefit of all Syrians, without any double standards, should become a priority for international efforts and the activities of UN agencies.

For all the challenges posed by Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, it would be unacceptable to ignore the protracted Palestinian problem. Its fair resolution is critical to improving the situation in the entire Middle East. I would like to warn politicians against unilateral approaches and attempts to monopolise the peace process. Today, the consolidation of international efforts in the interests of resuming talks on the basis of UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative is more in demand than ever before. We are doing everything to facilitate this, including in the format of the Middle East Quartet and in cooperation with the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Mutually acceptable agreements should ensure the peaceful and safe co-existence of the two states – Israel and Palestine.

Here in the UN that was built on the lessons of World War II we are all obliged to think about the future and not repeating the mistakes of the past. This year is the 80th anniversary of the Munich conspiracy that crowned the criminal appeasement of the Third Reich and serves as a sad example of the disastrous consequences that can result from national egotism, disregard for international law and seeking solutions at the expense of others.

Regrettably, today in many countries the anti-Nazi vaccine has not only weakened, there is a growing campaign to rewrite history and whitewash war criminals and their accomplices. We consider sacrilegious the struggle against monuments to the liberators of Europe, which is going on in some countries. We are calling on UN members to support a draft resolution of the UN General Assembly denouncing the glorification of Nazis.

The growth of radical nationalism and neo-Nazism in Ukraine, where criminals who fought under SS banners are glorified as heroes, is one of the main factors of the protracted domestic conflict in Ukraine. The only way to end it is consistent and faithful implementation of the Minsk Package of Measures that was unanimously approved by the UN Security Council. We support the activities of the OSCE mission in Ukraine and are ready to provide UN protection for its members. However, instead of fulfilling the Minsk agreements and engaging in dialogue with Donetsk and Lugansk, Kiev still entertains the illusion of introducing an occupying force in Donbass, with the support from the West, and increasingly threatens its opponents with scenarios based on force. The patrons of the current Ukrainian authorities should compel them to think straight and end the blockade of Donbass and discrimination against national minorities throughout Ukraine.

In Kosovo, the international military presence under UN Security Council mandate is morphing into a US base. Kosovo armed forces are being created, while agreements reached by Belgrade and Pristina with EU mediation are being disregarded. Russia calls on the sides to engage in dialogue in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1244 and will support any solution which is acceptable to Serbia.

In general, we are against turning the Balkans once again into an arena of confrontation or anyone claiming it as a foothold, against forcing the people of the Balkan nations to make a false choice or creating new dividing lines in the region.

An equal and undivided security architecture also needs to be created in other parts of the world, including the Asia Pacific Region. We welcome the positive developments around the Korean Peninsula, which are following the logic of the Russian-Chinese roadmap. It is important to encourage the process with further steps by both sides toward a middle ground and incentivise the practical realisation of important agreements between Pyongyang and Seoul through the Security Council. We will keep working to put in place a multilateral process as soon as possible, so that we can build a durable mechanism of peace and security in Northeast Asia.

Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is among the challenges facing the world community in the key area of international security – the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately, serious obstacles continue to pile up on that road. Lack of progress in ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and in establishing a WMD-free zone in the Middle East has been compounded by the unilateral US withdrawal from the JCPOA in violation of Resolution 2231, despite the fact that Iran is fully in compliance. We will do everything to preserve the UNSC-approved deal.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is being pushed in an increasingly negative direction as the West attempts to turn its Technical Secretariat into a tool for punishing undesirable governments. This threatens to undermine the independent professional status of that organisation and the universal nature of the CWC, as well as the exclusive prerogative of the UN Security Council.

These and other issues related to non-proliferation were discussed in detail at the September 26 Security Council meeting, convened by the US chair not a moment too soon.

We are convinced that any problems and concerns in international affairs should be addressed through substantive dialogue. If there are questions or criticisms, what is needed is to sit down and talk, produce facts, listen to opposing arguments, and seek to find a balance of interests.

To be continued…

The Essential Saker II
The Essential Saker II: Civilizational Choices and Geopolitics / The Russian challenge to the hegemony of the AngloZionist Empire
The Essential Saker
The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world
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Yemen: Our Complicity Lies Bare

The Guardian’s Editorial

18-06-2018 | 12:50


Even if the UK warned against attacking the vital port of al-Hudaydah, we bear responsibility for the horrors of this war.
 
Yemen

The fig leaves covered little to start with, and withered long ago. Now the excuses for our role in Yemen’s misery have fallen away entirely. The assault on al-Hudaydah by the Saudi- and Emirati-led coalition can only deepen the world’s worst humanitarian crisis; 70% of the country’s imports pass through the port. Britain and France urged Saudi Arabia not to launch the attack, but the UK has now “said its piece”. The US rejected a UAE request for a minesweeper for the operation, but as an Emirati official observed: “Not giving us military assistance is not the same as telling us not to do it.”

So they are doing it. They are conducting this war with British-, American- and French-made arms. They are conducting it with western military training and advice; British and US officers have been in the command room for airstrikes, and this weekend Le Figaro alleged that there are French special forces on the ground in Yemen. They are conducting it with diplomatic shelter from the west. On Friday, the UK and US blocked a Swedish drive for a UN security council statement demanding a ceasefire: “Britain, as the ‘penholder’ on Yemen at the UN security council, nevertheless takes a nakedly pro-Saudi approach to the conflict,” the former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell notes. Arms sales and security interests dictate.

The war has already claimed tens of thousands of lives, the oft-cited toll of 10,000 being highly conservative when reached and now hopelessly out of date. Many more stand in peril. International law obliges the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid… Relief groups have had to flee al-Hudaydah. Twenty-two million Yemenis need aid. Eight million are at risk of starvation.

The assault appears to be an attempt to pre-empt the presentation of a peace plan by the UN envoy Martin Griffiths, who had previously warned that an attack on al-Hudaydah could “take peace off the table in a single stroke”. He is due to brief the Security Council on Monday, following emergency talks, and the UN’s humanitarian coordinator, Lise Grande, has said that talks on the UN taking over the port’s administration are at an advanced stage. But even if Griffiths can manage an agreement against the odds, the chances of it sticking are poor, given both sides’ record of acting in bad faith. The complexities of a handover are immense.

The coalition backs the internationally recognized president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, driven out by the Houthis [Ansarullah revolutionaries]. But the campaign appears largely driven by two forces. First, rivalry with Iran, and other strategic interests. Second, the prestige of its leaders – notably Mohammed bin Salman, who led the charge to war and is now Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader. The coalition has calculated that after a lengthy stalemate it may be in its best position since the war began more than three years ago; it hopes to change the facts on the ground and appears to have convinced itself that al-Hudaydah will be a relatively easy win, if far from painless for civilians. This is familiar stuff, as an International Crisis Group report pointed out this week: “The warring factions are overconfident in their military prospects, almost always press for military advantage when there is an opportunity for negotiation, and are all too often starkly indifferent to the humanitarian impact of their actions and the plight of ordinary citizens.”

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi may be of one mind in their loathing for Tehran, but the crowded and increasingly complex field is exposing divergence in their interests. A few months ago, Emirati-backed forces were fighting and killing Saudi-backed forces in Aden… The entrenchment of a war economy is another significant obstacle to peace.

So it goes on, the suffering mounting, further unsettling this unstable region and breeding cynicism and rage towards the west and its talk of human rights and international law. If the complicity ever looked deniable, events of recent days have laid it bare.
Source: The Guardian, Edited by website team

UN: Assault on Yemen’s Hodeidah Port could Cost 250,000 Lives

Source

 June 8, 2018

Hodeida strike

A long-feared assault on Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah by the Saudi-led coalition could cost up to 250,000 lives, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in the country, Lise Grande, said in a statement on Friday.

“A military attack or siege on Hodeidah will impact hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians,” she said.

“In a prolonged worst case, we fear that as many as 250,000 people may lose everything – even their lives.”

Yemen has been since March 25, 2015 under a brutal aggression by Saudi-led coalition, which also includes UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan and Kuwait, in a bid to restore power to fugitive former president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have been injured and martyred in Saudi-led strikes, with the vast majority of them are civilians.

SourceAgencies

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It’s Time to Stop US Involvement in Yemen War

By Kelly Choate

09-03-2018 | 11:45

Now entering its fourth year, Yemen’s horrific war has caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis – and the United States is actively helping to fuel the fire. But legislation put forth by a bipartisan group of senators can put an end to the US role in this horrific war…

Yemen

The United Nations has stated that US-supported airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition are the leading cause of civilian casualties in Yemen. The ongoing war has killed more than 10,000 Yemenis and wounded more than 40,000. The majority of them are civilians and, as always in war, women and children are disproportionately affected.

In addition to these mass casualties, more than half of Yemen’s hospitals have been closed or damaged. Clean water is scarce, causing upward of 500,000 cases of cholera and leaving 2,000 dead from that alone. The UN’s Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan, which aims to raise $23 billion to help 12 million affected people, has only received 39.6 percent of its target amount.

The United States has been actively facilitating this crisis by selling arms to Saudi Arabia, providing military intelligence for airstrikes led by the Saudi military, and providing refueling support, which has actually increased in the past year.

The Trump administration has also increased the sale of US weapons to Saudi Arabia, introducing a new $10 billion arms deal and lifting a ban on the sale of extremely dangerous weapons such as precision-guided munitions. Upgraded weaponry like that which the United States is supplying the Saudi-led coalition makes it easier to target civilians.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., has said, “There’s a US imprint on every civilian death inside Yemen that’s caused by the Saudi bombing campaign. The Saudis simply could not operate this bombing campaign without us. Their planes can’t fly without US refueling capacity. They are dropping munitions that we’ve sold them.”

He, along with Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, introduced S.J.Res. 54 on Feb. 28, invoking the 1973 War Powers Resolution in order to force a vote in the Senate on this unauthorized war and end US support for Saudi Arabia and its involvement in Yemen.

In the coming days, the Senate is expected to vote for the first time on withdrawing US armed forces from a war that Congress has never authorized, marking an important step forward in restoring congressional authority over war-making. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire should join this rare opportunity to protect civilians and restore congressional oversight by cosponsoring and voting in support of S.J.Res. 54.

Now is the time to end US complicity in this devastating war.

Source: Sentinel Source, Edited by website team

US Senators ask to end US support for Saudi war on Yemen

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (20:15 PM) ) – Independent senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Republican senator Mike Lee have introduced a bill that asks Congress to put an end to US support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. This is reported by Yemen Press and the Washington Post.

The bill seeks to invoke the so-called War Powers Resolution, a federal law gives Congress the power to limit or end any acts of war or hostility ordered by the US president.

“Congress hereby directs the President to remove United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen, except United States Armed Forces engaged in operations directed at al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or associated forces,” the bill reads.

Bernie Sanders, senator for the state of Vermont, introduced the bill, saying: “If you look at the War Powers Act, what America is currently involved in constitutes a military action… That’s pretty clear.”

Many members, both Democrats and Republicans, have voiced dissatisfaction with United States military and intelligence support for Riyadh’s conflict with Yemen, which has killed at least 13,600 people, most of them civilians, since March 2015. Whether the bill will be passed in Congress however, is unclear at this moment.

The United Nations says at least 22.2 million people in Yemen are in need of food aid, with 8.4 million under imminent risk of famine, making the Yemeni conflict the single biggest humanitarian disaster in the world.

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Britain’s Red Carpet for the Saudi Ruler Is Shameless

Emily Thornberry

07-03-2018 | 15:23

They call diphtheria the “strangling disease”. Parents have to watch helplessly as it slowly clogs the throat and chokes the life out of their children. Thankfully, vaccination has wiped it out in most parts of the world. But not in Yemen. Not this past year. Hundreds of children have been infected, and dozens have died that cruelest of deaths.

MBS add on UK billboard

They join the hundreds of other Yemeni children who have died from the worst cholera outbreak in modern history, the thousands who have succumbed to malnutrition, and the untold number of civilians killed by airstrikes on homes, streets, weddings and funerals. This has been the human price of the three-year war in Yemen, in which all parties have shown a callous disregard for life, but where the large majority of civilian deaths lies irrefutably at the door of Saudi Arabia.

Yet today the architect of that Saudi intervention in Yemen – crown prince Mohammad bin Salman – will visit Britain, and will receive the red carpet treatment from the Tory government, as if he were Nelson Mandela. This is the man behind the rolling blockade of Yemen’s ports, preventing the supply of essential food, medicine and fuel to Yemeni civilians, and – on all the available evidence – breaching international law by using starvation as a weapon of war.

The man who, in an equally flagrant breach of the Geneva convention, authorized the destruction of Yemen’s agricultural and food infrastructure in the early stages of the war, with systematic air strikes on farms, dairies, food factories and markets.

Prince Mohammed was rightly enraged at the Houthis’ attempted missile attack on Riyadh in December, but retaliated with a 10-day barrage of indiscriminate air strikes on civilian areas, killing and injuring hundreds, including dozens of children. And while the UK government publicly insists there can be no military solution in Yemen, he has just sacked his most senior generals in an effort to achieve exactly that, and even now plans his assaults on the capital Sanaa and the port of Hodeidah, both of which will drastically escalate the humanitarian crisis. And all that is before we even mention his disgraceful attempts to subvert Lebanon’s democracy, and his reported funding of groups in the Syrian war, both a part of his wider battle against Iran for hegemony in the Middle East.

If it was his regional rival, the supreme leader of Iran, visiting our capital – with his similar record of domestic human rights abuses, regional intervention and alleged support for terror organizations – the UK government would not dream of rolling out the red carpet. So why is it different for the crown prince?

Theresa May tells us it is about our mutual security and strategic interests. Or about Prince Mohammed’s moves to “liberalize” women’s rights, by which she means Saudi Arabia catching up with the rest of the world by promising to allow women to drive cars.

It is all nonsense. As so often, it is about nothing but filthy lucre, and this government’s desperation to plug the hole that will be left in Britain’s trade and growth prospects by May’s refusal to stay in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.

Most nakedly, it is about the shameless bidding war to persuade the crown prince to include the London Stock Exchange in any international listing of the Aramco oil company, billed as the biggest stock market flotation in history.

Most pertinently, it is about the huge increase in arms sold by Britain to Saudi Arabia since the start of the war in Yemen – a trade so shameful that the government now actively encourages applications for “open export licenses” by UK arms firms, precisely to hide what weaponry Riyadh is receiving, and its true value. It’s clear the government doesn’t care a jot about human rights or breaches of the Geneva Convention if there is a chance instead to boost its balance sheet.

Britain is the official pen-holder for the United Nations Security Council on matters relating to Yemen. In October 2016, our government floated a draft resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire in the country to allow for immediate humanitarian relief and talks on a political solution. Prince Mohammed’s acolytes immediately objected, and 17 months on that draft resolution has still not been formally presented to the council. And so his brutal, murderous war continues, without anyone in our government lifting a pen to stop him. Instead, today they fete the crown prince. But millions of us will be saying: not in my name.

Source: The Guardian, Edited by website team

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AJAMU BARAKA ON CAMPAIGN TO SHUT DOWN US FOREIGN MILITARY BASES

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On January 22, 2018, I had the opportunity to speak with the well-respected, highly-informed, longtime rights activist and writer, Ajamu Baraka.

A human rights defender whose experience spans four decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles. Please see his extended bio on his website.

He was the 2016 Green Party vice presidential candidate, and is a lead organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace. Mr. Baraka is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report, and also publishes at Black Commentator, Commondreams, Pambazuka, and Dissident Voice.

Related Links

http://noforeignbases.org
https://blackagendareport.com/peace-requires-social-transformation
https://twitter.com/i/web/status/954098699189346305
https://blackagendareport.com/peace-requires-social-transformation
https://twitter.com/ajamubaraka/status/955471891019550720
https://twitter.com/ajamubaraka/status/953314222775169025
https://ingaza.wordpress.com/2018/01/20/a-personal-reply-to-the-fact-challenged-smears-of-terrorist-whitewashing-channel-4-snopes-and-la-presse/

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