Nikki Haley Calls Apartheid Israel ‘the one true democracy in the Middle East’

Out of all of Trump’s appointees, Nikkie Haley is probably one of the worst. Formerly a governor of South Carolina, Haley is the current US ambassador to the United Nations. That’s her in the video above giving a presentation at the UN last Thursday.

I’m not sure how much Haley knows about international law. According to Wikipedia, she graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting. How she ended up as UN ambassador, after criticizing Trump in the general election, is unclear. *

At any rate, Haley seems fully unaware that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Nor does she seem to comprehend why other UN-member states might press for resolutions seeking to call Israel to account, both for its settlements as well as its 50-year occupation of the West Bank–land universally recognized as necessary for a Palestinian state. So perhaps she is simply uninformed and does not understand the nature of Israel’s occupation or its devastating impact upon the lives of those forced to live under it. Or at least that’s one possibility.

The other possibility, of course, is that Haley does understand these things…and that she simply believes Israel is exceptional and should not have to follow the same laws and international standards that apply to other states. If so, apparently in Israel are those who would agree with her. Less than a week after her talk at the UN–in which she accused the body of a “prejudiced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues”–an Israeli military court handed down an 18-month sentence to an Israeli soldier who carried out an execution-style slaying of a wounded Palestinian in March of last year. There was no doubt the soldier was the one who pulled the trigger. The shooting was captured live on video. The sentence of 18 months he received for killing a Palestinian is lighter than what Palestinian children are often given for throwing stones.

* Incredibly, Haley also voiced criticism of Trump–over his stance on Russia–during her congressional confirmation hearings back in January. At that time she accused Russia of “war crimes,” and said, “They (the Russians) have done some terrible atrocities.”

British radio station interviews the Saker

January 19, 2017

How the UN resolution on Crimea and Trump’s tweet will restore Russian historical borders, by Scott

How the UN resolution on Crimea and Trump’s tweet will restore Russian historical borders, by Scott

December 23, 2016

19 December 2016, the Assembly adopted, by a vote of 70 in favor to 26 against with 77 abstentions, the draft resolution titled “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)”.

The Western and Ukrainian media true to its practice to never say a word of truth reported this as “The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on human rights in Crimea.”

There is a hope that the NATO members pushing for this resolution would abandon this issue, but when did they ever behave reasonably?

Quoting the UN transcript: “Regarding the draft on the human rights situation in Crimea, the statement delivered by Ukraine’s delegate had compelled the Russian Federation to take the floor.  He expressed hope that delegates would vote against the text, demonstrate their positions in principle and focus their attention on the human rights situation in all of Ukraine, including where the Government was waging warfare with its own means.”

“References to territorial integrity in the resolution concerning Ukraine went beyond the objective of that text.” per representative of Armenia

In it’s new “resolution” the UN General Assembly names the Russian Federation as the “occupying power in Crimea.” So, twenty five years after the biggest tragedy in our history, a forced dissolution of the USSR in the Russian historical borders, we Russians are being named “the occupiers” of our own Russian land, including those Russians who live on this land. It’s very important that in this “resolution” Russians are not named even once as the population of Crimean. Also, Russians are never named as the majority of population  elsewhere on the territory of the Russian Federation.

The resolution was submitted by NATO occupied Ukraine and supported by all of the NATO members.

Brief history of the resolution on Crimea:

In November 2016, Russia Withdrew from ICC,  the international criminal court, after this court frivolously accused Russia of war crimes in Crimea.

At the 46th meeting, on 8 November, the representative of Ukraine, on behalf of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United States of America: draft resolution, introduced a draft resolution entitled “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)” (A/C.3/71/L.26). Subsequently, Albania, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malta, Montenegro, Norway and the Republic of Moldova joined in sponsoring the draft resolution.

On 15 November, the Secretary of the Committee read out a statement of the programme budget implications of the draft resolution.

At the same meeting, a statement was made by the representative of Ukraine. Subsequently, Iceland, the Marshall Islands and New Zealand joined in sponsoring the draft resolution.

On December 19th, 2016 the Assembly took up the report on the “Human rights situations and reports of special rapporteurs and representatives” (document A/71/484/Add.3), containing four draft resolutions.

“Joint statement on human rights situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea”

Dec 19, 2016 Press statement

 

The following is some of the wording that has been used in this  piece of legislature:  the Referendum for re-unification with Russia called “discriminatory legislation,”  demands for an “unconditional and immediate access of international and regional human rights mechanisms to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.”  Calls for recognition of Crimea is “part of Ukraine and call upon Russia to end its occupation.”

The UN Assembly also encourage the Secretary-General in this regard to consult regularly with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a representative of Saudi Arabia.

The document calls on Russia to provide  access to international missions and non-governmental human rights organizations that were kicked out of the Russian territory for anti-government activities in years following the 2014 anti-government putsch in Ukraine.

The resolution thinks that “the international presence is necessary in Crimea to prevent further deterioration of the situation.” The document claims “violations of the rights of the inhabitants of Crimea,” without providing specific facts and explanations.

By this UN General Assembly effort, Russians are turned  into “inhabitants” of Russia. I have been looking for another UN document that would use a term “inhabitants” in relation to the country’s population, but I couldn’t find any. In political literature, the term “inhabitants” is routinely used to describe the population of the Western colonies in Africa.   It seems that the UN Western coalition has specifically designated the use of derogatory politically charged term as “inhabitants” to Russian people, naming them as “inhabitants” on the territory of Russia and simultaneously its “occupiers.

Predictably, the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov called this document proposed by Kiev “a useless propaganda leaflet.”

 

I want to beg the difference with the Mr. Lavrov. Instead of just shrugging this draft resolution off as another NATO sponsored propaganda stunt, maybe it makes sense to look into its workings and to see if Russia can use this document and other like this to bring forward the issue of the violation of the territorial integrity of the USSR, and as a consequences, to declare the EU and NATO memberships of the territories of the former Soviet Union as being under occupation.

As pertinent to the paragraph:

“Reaffirming the responsibility of States to respect international law, including the principle that all States shall refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State and from acting in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations, recalling its resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970, in which it approved the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming the principles contained therein…” page 1,  A/C.3/71/L.26

There are known statements made by Gorbachev and Yeltsen that indicate that if the Belavezha Accords of the dissolution of the Soviet Union wasn’t signed, the US and other NATO members threatened the Communist government with nuclear strikes.

As pertinent to the paragraph of the draft that says the following:

“Recalling its resolution 68/262 of 27 March 2014 on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, in which it affirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, and relevant decisions of international organizations, specialized agencies and bodies within the United Nations system…”

The UN made a grave mistake by its failure to affirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of the USSR.

The UN has also failed to adopt a resolution condemning the dissolution of the USSR, failed to condemn the violation of the territorial integrity of the USSR, failed to affirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of the USSR within its internationally recognized borders at the time when parts of the USSR have been occupied by the EU and NATO.

Using A/C.3/71/L.26  as blueprint, Russia should condemn the temporary occupation of the parts of the territory of the former USSR, afterwards named Russian Federation,  by the EU members and members of the aggressive military anti-Russian alliance known as  NATO.

Russia should also reaffirm the non-recognition of the annexation of its territories.

Furthermore, Russia should condemn the imposition of the legal system of the European Union and the negative impact on the human rights situation of it’s territories occupied by the EU and NATO military forces.

Russia should condemn the reported serious violations and abuses committed against residents of its territories of Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Georgia,  occupied by the EU and NATO, in particular extrajudicial killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, politically motivated prosecutions, discrimination, harassment, intimidation, violence, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment of detainees and their transfer from the named territories to the territory of EU and US, as well as reported abuses of other fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression, religion or belief and association and the right to peaceful assembly.

Russia should expressing serious concern at the decision of the so-called European Council and other judicial entities of the occupiers, to declare the liberation movement of the Russian population on the occupied territories to be an extremist organization and to ban its activities.

The UN General Assembly has to recall the prohibition under the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the occupying Power to compel a protected person to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces, and for the occupied territories of Russia to become and to be a part of aggressive anti-Russian military alliance of Western country known as NATO.

Russian Federation should condemns the abuses, measures and practices of discrimination against the residents of the temporarily occupied territories of the Russian Federation, including Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, as well as Russians and persons belonging to other ethnic and religious groups, by the European Union occupation authorities.

Russia should express its outrage with the racist and Russophobic stance of the UN officials using the term “ethnic Ukrainians” that refer to an alleged existence of “Ukrainian ethnicity” that is somehow genetically different from Russian ethnicity.

Since it’s has been already genetically proven that there is no such genetic entity as “ethnic Ukrainian,”  Russian authorities should demand a scientific independent evaluation of this claim and condemnation of the UN member as being racists and Nazis.

In conclusion: If there are any legal experts here, please help me to extend on my discovery. We would submit the final draft to the Russian Federation Mission to UN. Trying to think as a lawyer, I believe we have  here an outline for the legal framework on declaring the dissolution of the USSR to be illegal. Next step will be demand for re-unification of territories of the Russian Federation and its people.

With this I want to remind you recent statement made by President Putin that Russia’s border is limitless, and that it doesn’t end anywhere.

The UN org News:

23 Dec 2016 the US president-elect made a promise that after his inauguration the UN will be reformed.  Experts for some reason blame the UN resolution on Israel, but I think it’s because of the UN draft resolution on Crimea.

As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th. “

My other article on matters of international judicial malpractice

 

Thank you for your time

Scott

Follow me on twitter for more updates and communication

Iran Planning to Resume Nuclear Activity

December 2, 2016

Iran flag

Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) is to mull a three-urgency plan which mandates Iranian government to resume nuclear activities.

The move is made in reaction to the US Senate approval of a legislation which extends the Iran Sanction Act (ISA) for another ten years.

Member of Majlis Presiding Body Akbar Ranjbarzadeh said the US Senate approval of a legislation which extends the ISA for another ten years is in violation of the JCPOA and international law.

Ranjbarzadeh told IRNA, ‘The three-urgency plan on resumption of nuclear activities has been compiled on emergency to counter the US move.’

He said the plan consists an article and five notes in line with the two- and three-urgency plans to counter the Senate approval.
He added that the two- or three-urgency nature of the plan will be decided by Iranian lawmakers, aiming to confront the approval by the US Senate and House of Representatives.

The parliamentarian said the two-urgency plans will be finalized within 72 hours and turn into a law.

He said the reason the plan is three-urgency in nature is the emergency condition arising as a result, justifying taking the course which would let adoption of fundamental and principled measures in reaction to the damage thus far inflicted on Iran and in proportion to explicit action of Americans, especially the approval of the Senate.

Ranjbarzadeh said per Article 160 of Parliament (Majlis), the two-urgency plans are taken on the necessity to avoid damage. This is while damage has been inflicted and “we wish to present the vital plan in three-urgency form to repel the absolute damage inflicted on the country.”

He noted that from the leadership point of view, the two-urgency plan had been brought to the information of the arrogance.

“We will go our own way so as not to lose time and we will embark on action. The US president has taken the course of confrontation; we will also take our own way and the three-urgency plan is more suitable than the two-urgency plan so as to confront Americans’ plan more speedily.”

“Now too the land of our nuclear and knowledgeable scientists has been invaded and they have taken away considerable portion of what we had already gained; they wish to deprive us of all our nuclear achievements,” said Ranjbarzadeh.

He concluded,

“The ones who have acted in violation of the international regulations and have defied them are the US and the Congress of the country and we are going to condition the plan on rapid launching of our action and taking comprehensive and complete measures in connection with resumption of the nuclear activities. We constantly and round-the-clock inform the world through the (Iranian) diplomatic organ and the media that the US was the initiator of the illegal act and we have no option but reciprocating. Our ways are reciprocation and defensive in nature and are not aimed at intruding into the scientific and ethical borders.”

Source: IRNA

International Criminal Court Gets Slammed; Russia, Other Countries, Withdraw from Body

iccartoon

By Richard Edmondson

The International Criminal Court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, seems to feel that the only people capable of committing war crimes are Africans.

You can go here to view a list of 32 people indicted by the ICC since the year 2005. All of them are from Africa. The list includes such notable U.S. enemies as Muammar Gaddafi and his son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.

Some African nations have said ‘enough is enough’ and ended their membership in the court, and just last week Russia announced that it too will follow suit.

The International Criminal Court, or ICC, was set up with the passage of the Rome Statute, an international treaty adopted in Rome in 1998. The treaty formally went into effect in 2002, and the ICC began operations that same year. States which have either ratified or become signatories to the treaty become, in turn, members of the ICC. Currently 124 countries, at least officially, hold such membership. These are each allowed one voting representative on the Assembly of State Parties. The ASP is a legislative body set up to provide “management oversight” of the ICC, but usually it only meets once a year.

The court was given a mandate to investigate and prosecute crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression. There’s lots of that going on in the world, you know. Crimes against humanity for instance entail large-scale attacks against civilian populations. Just off the top of our heads we might think of, oh, say, Israel’s attacks against Gaza and its deliberate targeting of hospitals, UN schools, and residential buildings.

ustortureiraq

Or take the category “war crimes”–crimes falling under this classification include the torture of prisoners, oh, such as occurred in US-run torture facilities.  Heck, we even have Obama admitting, “We tortured some folks.”

But up until January of this year, just about the only armed conflict venues the ICC had ever launched formal investigations into were in… Africa.

Ah! But on January 27, 2016, in a rare departure, the ICC announced it wouldlook into some alleged crimes committed outside of Africa.

gazaphos

Umm…to be sure, the scope of this new investigation will not cover US officials such as, say, Alberto Gonzales, or the US treatment of prisoners in Iraq; and…well…neither is the ICC investigating Israel for its firing of white phosphorus shells into a UN compound in Gaza City on January 15, 2008, or the Jewish state’s use of the controversial “Hannibal Directive” during its 2014 war on Gaza, a measure which resulted in the deaths of 190 civilians in the town of Rafah on August 1, 2014–the date Palestinians have since come to refer to as “Black Friday.”

No.

Specifically the ICC has begun, or found itself compelled to begin, an investigation into the Russia-Georgia war over South Ossetia that occurred in 2008. And just to make sure the world understands it is being fair and impartial, the court has announced it has “gathered information on alleged crimes attributed to the three parties involved in the armed conflict – the Georgian armed forces, the South Ossetian forces, and the Russian armed forces.”

So yes, the court is now investigating Russia.

But as I say, the only indictments so far have been of Africans.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that last month three African countries announced their withdrawal from the court. The three countries are: South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia. The Parliament of Kenya has also voted to leave the ICC. And in 2015, the African National Congress issued a public statement in which it asserted that the “ICC is no longer useful for the purposes for which it was intended.”

But perhaps the real blockbuster came last week when Russia announced it, too, will be withdrawing from the Rome Statute and the ICC. This took place via an announcement posted on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry on November 16.

Interestingly, on that same day, November 16, University of Illinois Law Professor Francis A. Boyle sent out an email containing a scathing indictment of the ICC, the legal scholar denouncing the court as “a joke and a fraud.”

The comments of both Boyle, who has an extensive background in international law, and the Russian government, were prompted by a recently-released ICC report blandly entitled, “Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2016,” that was  published on the ICC’s website on November 14.

The report (available here in PDF) offers the results of a “preliminary investigation” into nine different conflict areas in the world. The ICC views a preliminary investigation as a necessary step in order to determine “whether a situation meets the legal criteria” needed to warrant a full investigation. In other words, the ICC is investigating whether or not to do an investigation.

Of the nine different conflict areas, two are of particular interest: Palestine and Ukraine. Russia’s main concern, as you might expect, would be the findings pertaining to the latter. The concerns expressed by Boyle, on the other hand, were focused on the section of the report dealing with Palestine. Let’s take Palestine first.

The ICC on Palestine

bennsouda2

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

The report is a declaration of activities undertaken by the branch of the ICC known as the Office of the Prosecutor, referred to in the document as “OPT”, or simply “the Office.” The OPT’s main area of inquiry is the 2014 Gaza conflict, known as Operation Protective Edge. By contrast, Operation Cast Lead, the bloody conflict which took place in 2008-09, goes completely unmentioned, and the term “white phosphorus” does not appear anywhere in the report.

While the report does supply a “contextual background” to the Israel-Palestine conflict–in the course of which the Six-Day War is mentioned, as are Israel’s “unilateral withdrawal” from Gaza in 2005 and the election of Hamas the following year–most of the section on Palestine, as I say, deals with the events of 2014.

“All parties are alleged to have committed crimes during the 51-day conflict,” the report states, and the words “alleged” or “allegedly” are employed repeatedly throughout.

Alleged crimes said to have been committed by Palestinians include “attacks against civilians,” “use of protected persons as shields” and “ill-treatment of persons accused of being collaborators.” A single paragraph is devoted to each category, following which the report moves on to “Acts allegedly committed by the IDF,” and here the “alleged” crimes include “attacks against residential buildings and civilians,” “attacks against medical facilities and personnel,” “attacks against UNRWA schools,” and “attacks against other civilian objects and infrastructure.” Once again, a single paragraph is devoted to each alleged crime.

The ICC says it has reviewed “over 320 reports as well as related documentation and supporting material” in the course of conducting its preliminary investigation. The report also mentions a trip to Israel by the OPT that took place October 5 to 10, 2016. The visit is said to have been facilitated by “Israeli and Palestinian authorities,” but apparently did not include a visit to Gaza. At least none is mentioned. One place they did visit, however, is Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where supposedly the OPC staff “engaged with the law faculty.” Why there was need for such an engagement is not clear, although the report does say the trip to Israel as a whole was undertaken for purpose of “raising awareness about the ICC” as well as to “address any misperceptions” about the judicial body.

Boyle’s comments about the ICC report, or at least his “alleged” comments, we might say, were posted at the Al-Awda Yahoo group (Yahoo login required), and were also sent out by email.

fbap

In addition to branding the ICC “a joke and a fraud” the comment also makes reference to the visit to Hebrew University, which indeed is described on page 32 of the report.

The ICC’s “conclusion and next steps” in regard to its investigation on Palestine will be aimed at “continuing to engage in a thorough factual and legal assessment of the information available, in order to establish whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation.” It will also “assess information on potentially relevant national proceedings, as necessary and appropriate.”

The ICC on Ukraine

Like Boyle’s posted comment, Russia’s announced withdrawal from the ICC also came on November 16–in a statement posted on the website of the nation’s Foreign Ministry. The statement does not single out Ukraine or the ICC report specifically. Its criticisms of the court are generalized. But the timing, just two days after the report’s publication, would strongly suggest that the one was prompted by the other.

The ICC report portrays the Maidan protests largely as a spontaneous popular uprising, making no mention of the US role in the overthrow of the Yanukovych government. Reference to the leaked phone conversation between the State Department’s Victoria Nuland and Jeffry Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, in which the two discussed who would become the new Ukrainian head of state, is completely omitted. “The protest movement continued to grow in strength and reportedly diversified to include individuals and groups who were generally dissatisfied with the Yanukovych Government and demanded his removal from office,” says the report, and the narrative adhered to is primarily that of the US:

On 21 February 2014, under European Union mediation, President Yanukovych and opposition representatives agreed on a new government and fixed Presidential elections for May 2014. However, on 22 February 2014, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to remove President Yanukovych, and he left the country that day to the Russian Federation.

In other words, it was all legal and on the up-and-up.

The relaying of events in Crimea and in Eastern Ukraine also follows a similar pattern. The Crimean referendum of March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of voters chose to rejoin Russia, is referred to as “the alleged decision of residents of Crimea to join the Russian Federation,” with the report mentioning that the referendum “was declared invalid by the interim Ukrainian Government.” The “interim Ukrainian Government” means, of course, the government installed by the US, though the report doesn’t say so.

While occasional reference is made to crimes committed by “all sides” or “both sides” in the Ukrainian conflict, clearly the main focus is on the alleged transgressions of Russia and, to a lesser extent, those of armed opposition groups in Donbass that are allied to Russia. The crimes cited include:

  • Harassment of Crimean Tatar population
  • Killing and abduction
  • “Ill treatment”
  • Detention
  • Disappearance
  • Torture

The report also talks about destruction of property, including homes and schools, asserting that this has occurred “in both government-controlled territory and in areas controlled by armed groups.” But its fundamental conclusion is that the situation in Ukraine is legally classified as an “armed conflict.” As such, “the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol factually amounts to an on-going state of occupation.” Occupation by Russia, that is. Furthermore, “a determination of whether or not the initial intervention which led to the occupation is considered lawful or not is not required.” Or in other words, while Russia conceivably may have had some valid concerns (though the report leaves it entirely up to the reader’s imagination to guess what these might be), none of these will be taken into consideration by the ICC.

As noted above, the statement put out by the Russia Foreign Ministry makes no direct reference to the November 14 report, and its criticisms of the ICC are of a mostly generalized nature:

The ICC as the first permanent body of international criminal justice inspired high hopes of the international community in the fight against impunity in the context of common efforts to maintain international peace and security, to settle ongoing conflicts and to prevent new tensions.

Unfortunately the Court failed to meet the expectations to become a truly independent, authoritative international tribunal. The work of the Court is characterized in a principled way as ineffective and one-sided in different fora, including the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is worth noting that during the 14 years of the Court’s work it passed only four sentences having spent over a billion dollars.

And while Ukraine isn’t specifically mentioned, the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia is:

The Russian Federation cannot be indifferent to the Court’s attitude vis-a-vis the situation of August 2008. The Saakashvili regime’s attack on peaceful Tshinval, the assassination of the Russian peacekeepers resulted in the Court’s accusations against South-ossetian militia and Russian soldiers. Eventual investigation of actions and orders of Georgian officials was left to the discretion of the Georgian justice and remains outside of the focus of the ICC Prosecutor’s office attention. This development speaks for itself. We can hardly trust the ICC in such a situation.

The statement also acknowledges the widespread dissatisfaction with the ICC by countries in Africa:

In this regard the demarche of the African Union which has decided to develop measures on a coordinated withdrawal of African States from the Rome Statute is understandable. Some of these States are already conducting such procedures.

Conclusions

While some of those indicted over the years by the ICC may well have deserved it, at the same time, it’s hard not to draw the conclusion that the court has been used as a tool by powerful countries. Yes, it’s true, the ICC is conducting an ongoing “preliminary investigation” into the conflict in Afghanistan. The November 14 report in fact includes a section on Afghanistan which addresses crimes committed by the three main parties to the conflict: the Taliban, Afghan government forces, and the US-led international forces. With regard to the latter, the ICC states it has “a reasonable basis to believe” that the US “resorted to techniques amounting to the commission of the war crimes of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity and rape.”

Yet elsewhere in the same section, a somewhat contradictory view is offered:

Having reviewed information on a large number of incidents attributed to the international forces, the Office has determined that, although these operations resulted in incidental loss of civilian life and harm to civilians, in most incidents the information available does not provide a reasonable basis to believe that the military forces intended the civilian population as such or individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities to be the object of attack.

The report goes on to discuss “a few other incidents,” said to involve international forces, though without offering much hope of a prosecution due to “a paucity of the information” concerning them.

The chances of the ICC prosecuting any US official for war crimes seems slim, and indeed as the New York Times put it in a report published on November 14, the court’s prosecutor “has been considering whether to begin a full-fledged investigation into potential war crimes [committed by the US] in Afghanistan for years.”

Or to be more precise, for years the prosecutor has been “investigating whether to investigate” the US.

Interestingly, the Times article goes on to note as well that the court has been “under great pressure to show that it is unbiased in its targets for investigation.”

I have yet to point it out, but I will do so here: the ICC report of November 14 also contains no mention of Saudi war crimes in Yemen.

In the wake of Moscow’s announcement of its withdrawal from the ICC, two Russian writers, Dmitry Rodionov and Sergey Aksenov, published a commentaryon the issue, noting, as did the Foreign Ministry, that the judicial body had spent more than $1 billion over the 14 years of its existence and in the process had handed down only four sentences. They comment:

…The Hague prosecutor called the Crimean referendum “illegal” and the situation on the peninsula “occupation.” The fact that Russian troops were present on the peninsula according to agreements with Ukraine is ignored by the report.

For all of next year and perhaps even longer, the ICC will gather evidence on Crimea. Hague investigations are usually dragged on for years. For example, the court’s prosecutor received permission to investigate the events in South Ossetia from 2008 only this year….

According to lawyer Ilya Novikov, the court’s negative decision on Crimea could potentially result in formal charges and ICC arrest warrants. This will enable the countries complying with the Rome Statue to arrest Russian citizens and send them to the Hague court.

Assistant professor of political theory at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Kirill Koktysh, has pointed out that the ICC’s legal position is incorrect. It was not an annexation that took place in Crimea like the Hague asserts, but a secession: first Crimea seceded from Ukraine and only then joined Russia. According to Koktysh, the ICC’s initiative resembles a PR action rather than a strict legal procedure.

Whether the ICC is engaging in a “PR action,” as the Russians comment, or whether the court is a “joke and a fraud,” as Boyle would seem to have it, the upshot is that for the entire 14 years since the court came into existence, the biggest war criminals in the world have skated away scot-free.

Major Russian Geopolitical Moves Going Unnoticed in Wake of US Election

November 17, 2016

by Oleg Maslov

Major Russian Geopolitical Moves Going Unnoticed in Wake of US Election

It’s official, Russia has decided to grab the bull by the horns. Just one week after the shocking vote in the US presidential election resulted in a Trump victory, Russia has decided to pull all the stops and take care of some long lingering business while Obama’s administration is working overtime to manage a transition that no one expected would happen and Obama himself is out of the office, making what might be his very last visit to Europe, calming the closest of American allies in a time of serious questions about the future of the American relationship with NATO.

Obama has just two months before Trump will be sworn in and much of the time and energy of his staff will be consumed by briefing Trump and his cabinet, which is not yet fully formed, on their duties and on the situation in the world in general. Perhaps Obama’s own transition team will try to convince the Teflon Don and his staff to pursue a similar policy on many issues, not the least of which include Obamacare and the Paris agreement on climate change. Trump himself has already received a call from Putin shortly after the election, one of Trump’s most publicized calls with world leaders after news of his victory broke, putting even more pressure on Obama’s transition team to get their points across quickly.

In the meantime, Obama is making his last expected tour of Europe before Trump’s inauguration. It is not certain exactly why Obama chose to visit Greece first, but it is certainly significant that he was greeted with tens of thousands of protesters, in the least because it shows the current zeitgeist. Obama has to perform his duties of Salesman in Chief as he goes around to NATO allies and reassures them of budget commitments to American forces stationed abroad. I can only imagine the brain-tingling questions that Obama will have to field from the German and French defense ministers.

The main source of all the sweating European bureaucrats is Trump’s apparent friendliness with Russia and criticism of NATO, which could mean that Brussels will have to have some existential discussions on many long standing policies, including the sanctions against Russia. In fact, if Trump were to recognize Crimea as a legal part of Russia, as he has suggested that he is willing to do, Europe may either have to follow suit and bring down the house of cards commonly referred to as the Ukrainian Crisis or declare an open break with Washington’s foreign policy, a veritable checkmate.

If the current batch of Eurocrats were to keep their jobs (which is looking questionable), they would most probably try to avoid an open break with Washington or, ironically, risk losing their jobs. An open break with Washington would set the European Union into open waters of foreign policy sovereignty, a move that would meet with great resistance from many sources. Either way, an incredible shake-up is coming to Ukraine soon as they are about to have much less friends in the ‘international community’.

However, all of these major theatrical dramas and loud, painful snowflake whines are actually working wonderfully to divert attention from the real news. This last Monday night, Russia did several noteworthy things on a globally relevant geopolitical level that will surely resonate with the global movers and shakers. Russia launched an all-out air assault onto ‘Syrian rebels’ operating in the Homs, Idlib, and Latakia provinces of Syria. Monday night’s military campaign coincided with the biggest corruption bust in the history of modern Russia – the Russian Economy Minister Ulyukaev was taken into custody by the FSB after being caught demanding and accepting a $2 million bribe. Lastly, and perhaps less significantly but just as suddenly and symbolically, Russia has announced that it will no longer participate in the International Criminal Court.

However, in the humble opinion of this author, the most important fact to note connecting these three events is that they represent huge milestones in the modern history of Russia. One event is on the domestic political and economic level, connecting staff thought to be within the inner circle of the Kremlin specifically with financial corruption. The second is purely military in nature and works to show off the power projection capabilities of the modern Russian military. Thirdly, Russia’s decision to leave the ICC is a huge signal to Russia’s positions in the context of international bodies, up to and including the UN.

I would like to highlight this point just one more time to make sure that the meaning doesn’t slide by anyone. The government of Russia has just performed the biggest government shake up since the fall of the Soviet Union, with the FSB arresting the ‘untouchable’ Economy Minister from his post and placing him on a very public trial for extorting a very large bribe. Russia have also launched the biggest attack on an enemy military at least since the Second Chechen conflict, which was the major event of the first few years of Putin’s presidency over 17 years ago, and, at most, since Soviet forces left Afghanistan in 1989, 27 years ago. And lastly, Russia has made a very major and unexpected decision to abandon the jurisdictions of the ICC, long known for its adherence to justice and fair verdicts (sarcasm). AT NEARLY EXACTLY THE SAME TIME!

Is it just me, or does it seem like the planets are aligning here?

Let’s analyze the first event. Alexei Ulyukaev was accused of extorting a bribe from state-owned oil company Rosneft to tune of $2 million, cold hard cash, and was arrested by investigators (mostly three letter agencies) at night. To top it all off, one official said under condition of anonymity that Ulyukaev’s arrest was the final act in a yearlong investigation by the FSB. Ulyukaev, a member of the Russian government since the break-up of the Soviet Union, has been considered as member of Russia’s liberal, Western-leaning politicians. Of particular interest is Ulyukaev’s CV.

Ulyukaev has held some critical positions in the modern Russian government, including serving under Gaidar and managing the shock privatizations of Soviet assets (as well as the shock hyperinflation) from 1991-1994. He was a deputy to Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin from 2000-2004 before taking a job as the first vice-chairman of the Russian Central Bank, a position that he held from April 2004 to June 2013. When he was arrested, again, in the middle of the night, he was the acting Economy Minister.

Ulyukaev was certainly high on the list of those considered to be untouchable.

Along with Ulyukaev, the vice-governor of Saint Petersburg and some high-ranking officials in the regional government of the Kemerovo region have also been arrested for corruption after investigations by the FSB.

Various commentary has already surfaced claiming that Putin has turned to the age old Russian tradition of the Purge. Opinion leaders in the community are writing that no ‘chinovnik’ or oligarch could feel that ‘untouchable’ anymore after Ulyukaev’s arrest and that corrupt officials better behave or face the ax. Still others are claiming that Putin is consolidating his power and is preparing to become a dictator in the classic sense. No matter which explanation you prefer, the fact remains that the Russian government is powerfully expressing its political and economic sovereignty and is publicly making a loud statement against corruption.

The second incident was a comprehensive and simultaneous assault on rebel targets all over Syria in a very short time frame. Targets were struck with a bevy of missiles launched both from sea and by land. One of the most surprising features of this massive campaign is the sheer size and diversity of it. The Bastion system, highlighted as a defensive surface-to-surface missile system, showed off its potent attack power, engaging targets up to 300 miles away.

IHS Janes reports on the news that Russia is “not known to have previously claimed” that the Bastion, which is originally an anti-ship missile, “has a land attack capability”. It turns out that missile ‘defense’ systems designed to engage land targets, such as the United States Missile Defense systems in Poland and Romania, can easily be used to engage in attacks on land targets. Surprise, surprise.

However, the brunt of the missile strikes done by Kalibr missiles launched from the Mediterranean Sea, most notably from Russia’s new and improved frigate, the Admiral Grigorovich. In fact, the Russian naval group, led by the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, made ‘waves’ in Europe as the group was headed to their final destination, the Syrian coast, from which they launched volley after volley of high precision cruise missiles at targets from what is most likely a confusing medley of rebel groups. It is highly likely that, among the rebel groups which met the explosive end of a Russian cruise missile, some were directly funded by American allies, and less likely that the Russians even targeted groups directly trained or supplied by the CIA.

This major military move actually kills two birds with one stone. First, it provides Russia’s allies and ‘partners’ in the area with a bit of information about how far and in what quantity the Russian military can project its power. Further, it reveals that the Russians are most likely purposefully understating the power and capabilities of many of their newest technologies (although this should come as a surprise to no one). Also to this point, the Russian government did not ask permission of any international body when it passed through international waters and made its way to Syria, despite the ‘uncomfort’ felt in London. The second stone is that Russia has engaged in one of the most effective and convincing advertising campaigns for their newest export model military products. With loud fanfare, the Russians showed the world that Russian arms still give great bang for the buck.

The last major move, but, in the view of this author, not nearly as significant as the other two, is Russia’s decision to withdraw its signature from the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court. This move was sudden and symbolic, coming after the ICC ruled Russia’s ‘annexation’ Crimea illegal and called the current situation an ‘occupation’, but will lead to no noticeable change in real terms, since Russia never actually ratified the Rome Statute, meaning that it never submitted itself to the jurisdiction of the ICC to begin with.

One can write more on the nature and meaning of the withdrawal of Russia from the ICC, but the readers are welcome to find their own facts and form their own opinions. I will also stop short of giving my opinion on this strange set of geopolitical ‘coincidences’, and finish only with a invitation for speculation on what these facts could mean for the future of Russia, Russia’s relationship with Europe and the world, and the global security structure as a whole.

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