Solidarity in the Age of Coronavirus: What the Arabs Must Do

April 8, 2020

Using humble means, a refugee worker sterilizes the streets in Al-Shati refugee camp. (Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Ramzy Baroud

While the Coronavirus continues to ravage almost every nation on earth, Arab countries remain unable, or unwilling, to formulate a collective strategy to help the poorest and most vulnerable Arabs survive the deadly virus and its economic fallout.

Worse, amid growing international solidarity, we are yet to see a pan-Arab initiative that aims to provide material support to countries and regions that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 disease.

The lack of collective Arab responsiveness is not unique as it mirrors Europe’s own systematic failure, exhibiting ‘solidarity’ when it is financially convenient, and turning its back, sometimes at its own brethren, when there are no economic incentives.

For example, when Greece defaulted on its debt to international donors in 2015, Germany, and other European Union countries, pounced on the opportunity to dismantle the country’s major financial institutions and to profit from Athens’ mounting miseries.

All the talk of European solidarity, fraternity and community floundered at the altar of greed and unhindered profits.

That was not the first – nor will it be the last – occasion when the opportunistic EU showed its true colors. In truth, Europe is united, not by common history or unbreakable social bonds, but rather by the shared belief that a united Europe is a stronger economic unit.

The same sordid scenario was recently repeated. As Italy began buckling down under the unbearable burdens of the deadly Coronavirus, it immediately, and naturally, sought the help of its European sister states. To no avail.

Despite its sizable debt, Italy is a major player in the economic arena of Europe and, in fact, the world. Indeed, Italy is the world’s 8th largest economy. But the country’s economy is now experiencing a rare freefall, especially in the poorer regions of the South, where people are literally going hungry.

The first country to come to Italy’s aid was neither France, nor, unsurprisingly, Germany, but China, followed by Russia, then Cuba, and others.

This palpable lack of solidarity among European countries has further empowered the ethnocentric view already prevailing in Europe, and championed by far-right movements like Italy’s League Party of Matteo Salvini. For years, the latter has advocated against European integration.

It will take months, if not years, for the political fallout of the Coronavirus to be fully assessed. But what is already clear is that international and regional economic hubs are actively hedging their bets to consolidate their geopolitical positions in the post-Coronavirus world.

Despite bashful American attempts to join the politically-motivated international solidarity, US President Donald Trump’s humble moves arrived too little, too late. In fact, a sign of the times is that Chinese and Russian aid is pouring in to help the United States, which now has the world’s largest number of COVID-19 cases.

A compelling question, however, is where are the Arabs in all of this?

Italy and Spain, in particular, share historical and cultural bonds, and broad political interests, with many Arab countries, interests that will remain long after the Coronavirus is eradicated. Failing to register on the radar of international solidarity with Italy and Spain will prove a strategic miscalculation.

Israel, on the other hand, is activating its aid agency, IsraAID, which has previously worked in Italy between 2016 and 2019, after a major earthquake killed nearly 300 people and left behind massive infrastructural damage.

Israel uses ‘humanitarian aid’ as a political and propaganda tool. Israeli missions are often under-funded and short-lasting, but their impact is greatly amplified by a powerful, official media machine that tries to project Israel as a ‘peace-maker’, not a war-monger.

The truth is, some Arab governments do, in fact, provide badly needed funds and aid to countries that are devastated by wars or natural disasters; alas, these efforts are often disorganized and self-centered – and frankly, not at all motivated by true solidarity.

That said, the absence of Arab initiatives in the field of international humanitarian solidarity dwarf in comparison to the lack of Arab solidarity within the Arab world itself.

According to United Nation estimates, there are “101.4 million (people) in the region who already live in poverty, according to official criteria, and around 52 million undernourished.”

A new policy brief issued on April 1 by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), projects that an additional 8.3 million people are set to join the poor and undernourished masses throughout the Arab world.

Aside from empty rhetoric and useless press releases, we are yet to witness a major collective Arab initiative, championed by, for example, the Arab League, to provide an Arab equivalent to the many economic stimulus plans that have been set into motion in many other countries and regions around the world.

Late March, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, issued a ‘global ceasefire appeal’, pleading to the world, especially to warring Middle Eastern nations, to cease fire and to unite all efforts in one single war against the Coronavirus.

Sadly, that call has so far gone unheeded. The war in Libya is escalating, not subsiding; Israeli killing of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank continues unabated; the flood of refugees out of Syria, Turkey, and other Middle Eastern countries is yet to slow down.

Times of crisis, especially the kind that targets all of us regardless of race, religion, or geography, often constitute a wake-up call, present an opportunity for a new beginning, a new social contract so that we may resurrect from the ashes of our collective pain to build a better world.

Let COVID-19 be that opportunity that will allow all nations, especially in the Middle East, to take a stance against war, hunger and disease, to share their wealth and to extend the hand of solidarity to Africa and our historic allies throughout the world.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press, Atlanta). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Iran’s Medical Sciences Academy Letter to UN: History Will Judge Int’l Organizations’ Silence towards US Crimes

Iran’s Medical Sciences Academy Letter to UN: History Will Judge Int’l Organizations’ Silence towards US Crimes

By Staff

President of Iran’s Academy of Medical Sciences, Seyed Alireza Marandi, sent the United Nations Chief, Antonio Guterres a letter slamming the international organizations’ silence and ineffectiveness towards the United States’ crimes against Iran.

As the US continues to impose sanctions and humanitarian and health terrorism amid the global Coronavirus outbreak, Seyed Marandi told the UN chief that history will judge their inaction.

He also noted that the toothless institutions are complicit in the crimes, stressing that “we will undoubtedly see the unraveling of our world order because of this refusal to take action against crass violations of international and humanitarian law by the US regime.”

Below is the letter’s full text:

United Nations Secretary General

His Excellency, Antonio Guterres,

Excellency,

Following correspondence about the US government’s illegal sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran and its direct impact on the health of the Iranian people, unfortunately, so far, the United Nations and other relevant organizations including the World Health Organization, which claim to defend the rights of humanity, have taken no effective measures to lift the cruel sanctions against our dear children, women, men and patients.

Instead, despite the urging of scientists, physicians and even some elected US officials to lift sanctions amid a worldwide Covid-19 disease pandemic, this irrational, ruthless American government has further tightened sanctions against the Iranian people.

Nevertheless, the efforts of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s health authorities and officials in the face of inhumane US sanctions have been successful in managing the recent pandemic. Even if a small part of these sanctions were imposed on European countries and the United States, those nations would surely collapse under the strain. As you know, we have been one of the worse-hit nations in this pandemic and would not have reached this difficult state had it not been for the repressive US sanctions imposed on all the world in order to punish Iran.

It is certain that history will judge the ineffectiveness and silence of international organizations claiming protection of international law and human rights against such crimes. These institutions have become toothless, if not complicit, and we will undoubtedly see the unraveling of our world order because of this refusal to take action against crass violations of international and humanitarian law by the US regime.

Yours sincerely,

Seyed Alireza Marandi, M.D.

President of Academy of Medical Sciences

Islamic Republic of Iran

Tracking foreign interference in Hong Kong

Tracking foreign interference in Hong Kong

October 08, 2019

By Pepe Escobar : Hong Kong – Posted with permission

Lawyer Lawrence Ma claims the US has been supporting the protests via groups such as the NED

More than a million Hong Kongers joined marches in June to oppose a China extradition law. But some say the US is quickly backing the protests. Photo: Don Ng/ EyePress

Lawrence YK Ma is the executive council chairman of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation and director of the China Law Society, the Chinese Judicial Studies Association and the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation. He also finds time to teach law at Nankai University in Tianjin.

Ma is the go-to expert in what is arguably the most sensitive subject in Hong Kong: He meticulously tracks perceived foreign interference in the Special Administrative Region (SAR).

In the West, in similar circumstances, he would be a media star. With a smirk, he told me that local journalists, whether working in English or Chinese, rarely visit him – not to mention foreigners.

Ma received me at his office in Wanchai this past Saturday morning after a “dark day” of rampage, as described by the SAR government. He wasted no time before calling my attention to a petition requesting a “United Nations investigation into the United States’ involvement in Hong Kong riots.”

He let me see a copy of the document, which lists the People’s Republic of China as petitioner, the United States of America as respondent nation and the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation as ex parte petitioner. This was submitted on Aug. 16 to the UN Security Council in Geneva, directed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

In the document, Issue II deals with “funded, sponsored and provided supplies to any organizations, groups, companies, political parties or individuals” and “trained and frontline protesters, students and dissidents.”

Predictably, the US National Endowment for Democracy is listed in the documentation: its largest 2018 grants were directed to China, slightly ahead of Russia.

The NED was founded in 1983 after serial covert CIA ops across the Global South had been exposed.

In 1986, NED President Carl Gershman told the New York Times: “It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA. We saw that in the ‘60s, and that’s why it has been discontinued.” As the Times article explained about the NED:

In some respects, the program resembles the aid given by the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s to bolster pro-American political groups. But that aid was clandestine and, subsequent Congressional investigations found, often used planted newspaper articles and other forms of intentionally misleading information. The current financing is largely public – despite some recipients’ wish to keep some activities secret – and appears to be given with the objective of shoring up political pluralism, broader than the CIA’s goals of fostering pro-Americanism.

Soft power at work

So it’s no secret, all across the Global South, that under the cover of a benign umbrella promoting democracy and human rights, the NED works as a soft-power mechanism actively interfering in politics and society. Recent examples include Ukraine, Venezuela and Nicaragua. In many cases, that is conducive to regime change.

The NED’s board of directors includes Elliott Abrams, who was instrumental in financing and weaponizing the Contras in Nicaragua, and Victoria Nuland, who supervised the financing and weaponizing of militias in Ukraine that some but not all experts have described as neo-fascist.

The NED offers grants via various branches. One of them is the National Democratic Institute, which has been active in Hong Kong since the 1997 handover. These are some of the grants offered by the NED in Hong Kong in 2018.

At least one Hong Kong-based publication took the trouble of studying the NED’s local connections, even publishing a chart of the anti-extradition protest organizational structure. But none of the evidence is conclusive. The most the publication could say was, “If we analyze the historical involvement of NED in Occupy Central and the sequence of events that took place from March in 2019, it is highly possible that the Americans may be potentially involved in the current civil unrest via NED – albeit not conclusive.”

Issue III of the petition sent to the UN deals with “coordinated, directed and covertly commanded on-ground operations; connived with favorable and compatible local and American media so as to present biased new coverage.”

On “coordination,” the main political operative is identified as Julie Eadeh, based at the US Consulate after a previous Middle East stint. Eadeh became a viral sensation in China when she was caught on camera, on the same day, meeting with Anson Chan and Martin Lee, close allies of Jimmy  Lai, founder of pro-protest Apple Daily, and protest leaders Joshua Wong and Nathan Law in the lobby of the Marriott.

The US State Department responded by calling the Chinese government “thuggish” for releasing photographs and personal information about Eadeh.

The NED and Eadeh are also the subjects of further accusations in the petition’s Issue IV (“Investigation of various institutions”).

All in the Basic Law

Ma is the author of an exhaustive, extensively annotated book, Hong Kong Basic Law: Principles and Controversies, published by the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation.

Maria Tam, a member both of the Hong Kong SAR Basic Law Committee and of China’s National People’s Congress, praises the book’s analysis of the ultra-sensitive interpretation of the Basic Law, saying “the common law system has remained unaffected, its judicial independence remaining the best in Asia”, with Hong Kong firmly placed – so far at least – as “the third most preferred avenue for international arbitration.”

In the book, Ma extensively analyzes the finer points of the China containment policy. But he also adds culture to the mix, for instance examining the work of Liang Shuming (1893-1988) on the philosophical compatibility of traditional Chinese Confucianism with the technology of the West. Liang argued that China’s choice, in stark terms, was between wholesale Westernization or complete rejection of the West.

But Ma really hits a nerve when he examines Hong Kong’s unique role – and positioning – as a vector of the China containment policy, facilitated by a prevailing anti-communist sentiment and the absence of a national security law.

This is something that cannot be understood without examining the successive waves of emigration to Hong Kong. The first took place during the Communist-Nationalist civil war (1927-1950) and the Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945); the second, during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1977).

Ma significantly quotes a 1982 poll claiming that 95% of respondents were in favor of maintaining British rule. Everyone who followed the 1997 Hong Kong handover remembers the widespread fear of Chinese tanks rolling into Kowloon at midnight.

In sum, Ma argues that, for Washington, what matters is to “make China’s island of Hong Kong as difficult to govern for Beijing as possible.”

Integrate or perish

Anyone who takes time to carefully study the complexities of the Basic Law can see how Hong Kong is an indivisible part of China. Hundreds of millions of Mainland Chinese now have seen what the black bloc brand of “democracy” – vandalizing public and private property – has done to ruin Hong Kong.

Arguably, in the long run, and after an inevitable cleanup operation, the whole drama may only strengthen Hong Kong’s integration with China. Add to it that China, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan have separately asked Hong Kong authorities for a detailed list of black bloc rioters.

In my conversations these past few days with informed Hong Kongers – mature businessmen and businesswomen who understand the Basic Law and relations with China – two themes have been recurrent.

One is the weakness of Carrie Lam’s government, with suggestions that the outside non-well-wishers knew her understaffed and overstretched police force would not be up to the task of maintaining security across town. At the same time, many remarked how the response from Washington and London to the Emergency Regulations approval of the anti-mask law was – surprisingly – restrained.

The other theme is decolonization. My interlocutors argued that China did not “control” Hong Kong; if it did, riots would never have happened. Add to it that Lam may have been instructed to do nothing, lest she would mess up an incandescent situation even more.

Now it’s a completely new ball game. Beijing, even discreetly, will insist on a purge of anyone in the civil service who would be identified as anti-China. If Lam just continues to insist on her beloved “dialogue,” she may be replaced by a hands-on CEO such as CY Leung or Regina Ip.

Amid so much gloom, there may be a silver lining. And that concerns the Greater Bay Area project. My interlocutors tend to believe that after the storm ends and after carefully studying the situation for some months, Beijing will soon come up with a new plan to tighten Hong Kong’s integration to the mainland’s economy even more.

The first step was to tell Hong Kong’s tycoons to get their act together and be more socially responsible. The second will be to convince Hong Kong’s businesses to reinvent themselves for good and profit as part of the Greater Bay Area and the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative.

Hong Kong will thrive only if plugged, not unplugged. That may be the ultimate – profitable – argument against any form of foreign sabotage.

 

Failure in Yemen to be ‘death sentence’ of Saudi monarchy: Prof. Cavell

August 5, 2019

TEHRAN – Professor of political science Colin S. Cavell believes that failure of Saudi Arabia “to reassert its hegemonic control over Yemen will be a death sentence on the continuation of the Saudi monarchy.”

In an interview with Mehr News Agency, Colin S. Cavell, full professor of political science at Bluefield State College in Bluefield, West Virginia, pointed to different aspects of Saudi-waged war against the Yemeni people and Western’s countries’ continued support for the aggression despite human rights concerns.

He noted that “Saudi Arabia is bogged down in a quagmire which it will be difficult to extricate itself from but instead will eventually call into question the continued existence of the Kingdom itself.”

“Failure on the part of Saudi Arabia to reassert its hegemonic control over Yemen will be a death sentence on the continuation of the Saudi monarchy.  A Yemeni victory in their war of independence from Saudi Arabia will provide hope and inspiration for the captive population of Saudi Arabia to rise up an install a legitimate peoples’ government.”

He also noted that “disparate economic interests” of various countries, including U.S., UK, and France, are why the UN Security Council “cannot agree to stop this devastating war on the people of Yemen.” He added that “morality for Trump consists in whether US industries are profitable despite resulting in unparalleled death and destruction.”

Here is the full text of the interview:

UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a report on Friday, July 26, 2019, noting that the Saudi-led coalition has killed 729 children in 2018 in the Yemen war, deciding to blacklist the coalition for the third year for child-killing crimes. Despite all these human rights reports, we see that western countries are still providing the coalition with weaponry. Why all these reports have failed to stop arms sales of the western countries, especially the Trump administration, to the Saudi-led coalition?

Currently, there are 193-member states of the United Nations, an International Governmental Organization (IGO) set up in 1945 to prevent another world war from killing millions of people as WWII did.  While these 193 members are technically sovereign states, in truth, save for a handful of nations, most members are subservient to other, larger, more powerful states.  The UN is a three-tiered organization with the 15-member Security Council able to set policy for the entire organization with the five permanent members of this Council—the United States, China, Russian Federation, France, and the United Kingdom—having a veto on all procedural issues, with ten non-permanent members who serve on the Council for two-year terms (five elected each year), with these ten non-permanent members elected by the third-tiered General Assembly of nations that comprise the majority of the UN.  Given this organizational structure, and given the current differences between the five permanent members and their veto power, it has been near impossible for this international body to agree on stopping the reckless and deadly Saudi-UAE war on the people of Yemen.

The truth-seeking citizen will thus inquire why these five permanent members cannot agree to stop this devastating war on the people of Yemen, and the answer lies in the disparate economic interests of the various states.  Specifically, the western states, led by the United States, perceive that their national security interests, require that they have secure and reliable access to energy resources to fuel their industries, and they believe that by politically controlling the energy resources of Iraq and Iran (the two nations of the Middle East with the largest stores of such reserves) will satisfy their national security objectives.  Lacking such political control, then the US and its allies wish to deny the viability of these and other large-energy reserve countries—like Venezuela—from being able to function properly.

Given this perspective, it matters not to current US President Donald J. Trump, a quintessential representative of the capitalist economic system and default leader of the western coalition of states, whether the countries leading this assault on the Yemeni people, namely Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are engaged in a systematic genocide against the Yemeni people, whether their attacks exhibit any sort of proportionality or strategic logic, whether supporting such odious unelected and undemocratic regimes serves long-term US interests, or even whether U.S. aiding and abetting this calamitous war is in violation of international law, given that the US, the UK, and France—all US allies on the UN Security Council–can prevent the UN from stopping this war.  However, what does matter to the US president is whether and how this conflict being waged by its two close allies in the Middle East, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and which is urged on and assisted by Israel,  the US’s closest ally in the Middle East, can benefit the United States economy.  President Trump has concluded that the US will benefit if it is able to sell as many weapons and military equipment as possible to these warring parties and thus profit US military industries, which, in turn, will fatten the campaign coffers of President Trump and his Republican Party members of Congress.

In March of 2018, Trump effusively welcomed the heir-apparent to the Saudi throne and the architect of the Saudi-UAE-led war on Yemen, Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), on his first visit to the White House and promised to push through Congress arms deals worth billions of dollars in investment and additional jobs to the United States.  As Trump said at the time, “Saudi Arabia has been a very great friend and a big purchaser of equipment and lots of other things.”

Thus, morality for Trump consists in whether US industries are profitable despite resulting in unparalleled death and destruction.  Such a moral compass reflects a pole shift in direct contradiction to the morality espoused by either the Koran, the Bible, the Torah, or any other religious text or philosophical code.  It is the morality of capitalism, an economic system which currently dominates much of the world and is centrally directed from the United States.

On July 28, 2019, a gunman killed three non-white people attending an annual festival in Gilroy, California.  Earlier in the day, he posted on his Instagram account references to a fascist white supremacist manifesto from the nineteenth century which challenges the basis of all Abrahamic religions that call on us all to serve each other, to lift up the weak, the impoverished, the neglected and instead argues for the rights of the strong, the mighty, the wealthy, the powerful.  Spurred on by the cultural degeneration of President Trump, what now reigns as morality for US leaders is bullying, arrogance, bragging, excessive pride, and denigration of all those who are not white, wealthy, male, and powerful.

Given this diametrically opposed system of values, it is impossible to for the interested states to mutually recognize what the problem is, much less how to resolve the problem.

What were the main aims of Saudi Arabia in the Yemen war? And are these aims achieved up to now?

The Yemeni people rose up in January of 2015 after decades of existing under foreign rulers installed by their neighbor Saudi Arabia and forced then-President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to resign.  When Saudi Crown Prince MbS decided to intervene into Yemen in March of 2015 in an attempt to restore their puppet, Hadi fled the country to the Saudi city of Riyadh, as the Saudi bombs rained down upon the Yemeni revolutionaries forcing them to organize against the imperial intervention that has killed over 70,000 people in the last four years.  Seeking to reassert their hegemony over the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia denies the Yemeni people have any legitimate grievances and instead wants the outside world to believe that the Yemeni people are activated and instigated by the country of Iran from across the Persian Gulf.  The United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and other western powers have traditionally relied upon Saudi Arabia as a guarantor of reliable oil and natural gas for western industries and have utilized the Saudi monarchy as a cash machine to bail out their economies from time to time, to launder their ill-gotten gains, and to police the Middle East to serve western hegemonic interests.  With thousands dead, Yemen’s infrastructure destroyed, financial costs to the Saudis now well over $100 billion, with its international reputation in tatters even amongst its allies, with MbS’s leadership credibility a running joke, with the Yemeni people stronger and more united than ever, Saudi Arabia is bogged down in a quagmire which it will be difficult to extricate itself from but instead will eventually call into question the continued existence of the Kingdom itself.

Reports indicate that the UAE is planning to withdraw forces from Yemen in several stages. Do you think this withdrawal is a real one or just a tactical strategy? Why has the UAE made this decision, and what are the consequences of such a move on the future of Yemen?

The United Arab Emirates is very worried that its participation in the Saudi invasion of Yemen will open itself up as a target of Yemeni attacks, just as Saudi Arabia is now being regularly attacked by Yemeni fighters, Yemeni missiles, and Yemeni drones.  But, as a junior partner in the Saudi-led axis war against the Yemeni people, it is, in reducing its direct troop involvement in the war, following orders from the imperial directors of this organized carnage situated in Washington and London who are orchestrating the unfolding of this imperial drama.  Thus, it appears, at present, to be solely a tactical disengagement from direct fighting in Yemen.

There are also other reports outlining that Saudi Arabia may have plans to wrap up the Yemen war by the end of 2019. Since Mohammad bin Salman strongly supported aggressive policies of Saudi Arabia, such as in Yemen, do you think that a Saudi defeat in Yemen will change the political fate of bin Salman and Saudi Arabia?

Failure on the part of Saudi Arabia to reassert its hegemonic control over Yemen will be a death sentence on the continuation of the Saudi monarchy.  A Yemeni victory in their war of independence from Saudi Arabia will provide hope and inspiration for the captive population of Saudi Arabia to rise up an install a legitimate peoples’ government.  Losing its reliable source of energy and financial launderer in the Middle East is why the western hegemons are so intent on excusing the Kingdom of its crimes from the death and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to the financing of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Colin S. Cavell earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Louisiana State University in 1982, his Masters of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of New Orleans in 1987, and his Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Massachusetts in February 2001. Dr. Cavell is a tenured Full Professor of Political Science at Bluefield State College in Bluefield, West Virginia, having previously served as Chair of the Department of Social Sciences.  Dr. Cavell is also an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Massachusetts and has taught at the University of Bahrain in the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Junior Statesman Foundation Summer Program at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, as well as at the University of New Orleans in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Saudi Arabia on UN’s list of child-killing regimes for 3rd year

Source
A child suffering from malnutrition caused by the Saudi aggression lies on a bed at a treatment center in al-Sabeen Maternal Hospital in the Yemeni capital Sana'a on June 22, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
A child suffering from malnutrition caused by the Saudi aggression lies on a bed at a treatment center in al-Sabeen Maternal Hospital in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on June 22, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations has for the third year put Saudi Arabia and its allies in their military campaign against Yemen on the world body’s blacklist of child killers,  

According to a report by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in 2018, the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen killed or injured 729 children, nearly half the total child casualties of the year.

The UN chief’s report, which was presented to the Security Council on Friday, also states that Palestinian casualties caused by the Israeli regime, mainly its military, hit a four-year high in 2018.

The report shows that 59 Palestinian children were killed – 56 by Israeli forces – and another 2,756 were injured last year.

Guterres urged “Israel to immediately put in place preventive and protective measures to end the excessive use of force”.

“I condemn the increasing number of child casualties, which are often a result of attacks in densely populated areas and against civilian objects, including schools and hospitals,” Guterres said in the report, produced by UN Children and Armed Conflict envoy Virginia Gamba and issued in Guterres’ name.

The report does not subject those listed to action; however, it shames parties to conflicts in the hope of pushing them to stop killing children.

Diplomats say Saudi Arabia and Israel both have exerted pressure in recent years in a bid to stay off the list, but no to avail.

In reaction to the Friday report, Saudi Ambassador to the UN Abdadllah Al-Mouallimi claimed that “every child’s life is precious” to Riyadh, and questioned the sourcing and accuracy of the report, describing the numbers as “exaggerated.”

His claims come as over 80,000 Yemeni children under five years have died as a result of severe malnutrition caused by the Saudi-led coalition’s aggression against the people of Yemen, Guterres cited a report as saying earlier this year.

The war that  began in March 2015 has so far killed thousands of Yemeni women and children and destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure.

The Yemeni Health Ministry announced in a report on Friday that one Yemeni child is dying of malnutrition every 10 minutes. The report, cited by al-Mayadeen TV, said malnutrition has affected 2.3 million children in Yemen during the past five years.

It also pointed to the outbreak of cholera as a result of the Saudi-led coalition’s aggression, saying that children account for 40 percent of the 3,700 people diagnosed with the disease in the war-torn country.

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Zarif Slams EU over Not Fulfilling Nuclear Deal Commitments

Source

April 14, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohamamd Javad Zsrif slammed EU on Sunday over delay in the implementation of the new mechanism for non-dollar trade with the Islamic Republic.

In comments on Sunday, the top Iranian diplomat deplored the European signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal for failing to fulfill their commitments under the agreement, saying it is long overdue.

The Europeans are far behind on fulfilling their commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Zarif said, adding: “They (EU) should not assume that the Islamic Republic of Iran will be waiting for them.”

Describing INSTEX -a payment channel that the three EU signatories to the JCPOA have set up to maintain trade with Iran- as a preliminary measure, Zarif said the Europeans need to work hard for a long time to honor their commitments.

The Iranian minister further noted that Iran has maintained close ties with its neighbors and has launched mechanisms similar to the INSTEX with many other countries.

“While the European countries have proposed INSTEX to maintain business ties with Iran in defiance of the US sanctions, the payment channel has not been put into practice yet,” he added.

On the other hand, Zarif said Iran will ask the international community to take a position on the US designation of its Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.

“Today … we will send messages to foreign ministers of all countries to tell them it is necessary for them to express their stances, and to warn them that this unprecedented and dangerous U.S. measure has had and will have consequences,” Zarif was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

The Iranian diplomat said he had also sent letters to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the United Nations Security Council to protest against “this illegal U.S. measure”.

Source: Iranian media

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UN at the Arab League: Any Resolution on Syria Must Guarantee Its Territorial Sovereignty, Integrity

By Staff, Agencies

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres stressed the importance of guaranteeing the sovereignty and territorial integrity in any resolution on the conflict in Syria.

“Any resolution of the Syrian conflict must guarantee the unity, [and] the territorial integrity of Syria, including the occupied Golan,” he said in an address to an Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital of Tunis on Sunday.

As “millions of Syrians remain displaced and in need, and tens of thousands are arbitrarily detained…we must keep working to forge a political path to a sustainable peace in which all Syrians are heard, grievances are addressed, and needs are met,” he added.

Guterres’ remarks came days after US President Donald Trump broke decades of international consensus and formally recognized the Zionist entity’s “sovereignty” over the occupied Golan Heights, a border area the Zionist regime seized from Syria in 1967.

“This was a long time in the making. Should have taken place decades ago,” Trump said while signing the proclamation in the presence of Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House in Washington, DC.

However, a Wednesday meeting of the UN Security Council turned into another stage for the isolation of the US, as other countries on the council opposed Trump’s move on Golan.

At the meeting, Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari lashed out at Trump’s recognition, describing the move as part of a “criminal project” aimed at prolonging chaos and destruction in the region.

Syria has long reaffirmed its sovereignty over Golan, emphasizing that the territory must be completely restored to its control.

Also during the Arab League summit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned Arab leaders that the Trump administration was going to “destroy” the so-called ‘Arab Peace Initiative’ by letting ‘Israel’ annex portions of the West Bank.

“The US will tell ‘Israel’, annex part of the Palestinian lands and grant self-rule to what’s left of the land, and give the Gaza Strip a state so that Hamas can play there,” he said.

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