The House of Saud Struggles to Normalize Ties with “Israel” As It Sinks in the Yemeni Swamp

The House of Saud Struggles to Normalize Ties with “Israel” As It Sinks in the Yemeni Swamp

By Staff

The father and son relationship between Saudi King Salman and his son the Crown Prince – Mohammed bin Salman [MBS] – is at crossroads regarding the methods in which normalization with the apartheid “Israeli” entity would occur; though the sand kingdom is over its head regarding the consequences of the brutal war it waged on Yemen.

MBS is interested in a normalization with the entity, while King Salman likes the so-called “Arab Peace Initiative”, but the war in Yemen and threats to the Crown Prince at home are keeping them busy.

In a rare speech this week, Salman said Saudi Arabia still adheres to the so-called “Arab Peace Initiative”, which conditions normalization on an “Israeli” withdrawal to the 1967 lines and the establishment of a Palestinian state. But MBS wants to speed up normalization as part of his strategic and, above all, economic vision.

In his speech, King Salman focused on regional affairs: Iran and the “Israeli”-Palestinian so-called “peace” process – though he never mentioned the “Israeli’ entity’s normalization with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Was he trying to prove that he’s still in control of his kingdom and that he still sets foreign policy? Is this an intergenerational dispute, pitting the son’s project against the father’s traditional attitudes?

Saudi Arabia’s decision-making processes are enigmatic, as are relationships among members of the royal family and the kingdom’s domestic and foreign-policy considerations.

Yet, Saudi-“Israeli” normalization – which Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser announced will be happening very soon – seemed to be delayed.

Moreover, it’s not clear whether the delay is a matter of principle – that is, until a Palestinian state arises, or at least until “Israeli”-Palestinian negotiations resume – as King Salman said, or only a temporary one, until MBS manages to persuade him.

The difference in the two royals’ positions also raises another question. Saudi Arabia has provided an umbrella for the latest “peace” deals. Not only did it not condemn them, it praised the UAE and Bahrain for taking this step, which was coordinated with MBS, and opened its airspace to flights to and from the “Israeli” entity.

Not to mention, the public opinion in Saudi Arabia for a historic turnabout in the sand kingdom’s relationship with the “Israeli” entity is being paved.

Though, one issue stays unresolved.

It’s clear that Riyadh need to make peace with Washington, either before or as part of a deal with the “Israeli” entity. The main dispute between them is the war in Yemen, which began after King Salman was crowned in 2015.

In this war, the Saudi and UAE armies have treated Yemen’s civilian population brutally and used American weapons to do so. More than 125,000 people have been martyred, including 14,000 who were killed in deliberate attacks on civilian targets.

Hence, the Saudis’ aggression on Yemen has reappeared on the Washington agenda due to a partially classified report on US involvement in the conflict written by the State Department’s inspector general. The document’s unclassified sections, which were reported in the American media, reveal the magnitude of war crimes by Saudi and Emirati forces and their mercenaries, to the point that the US faces a risk of prosecution at the International Criminal Court.

Oona Hathaway, a former Department of Defense lawyer and now a Yale professor, told The New York Times: “If I were in the State Department, I would be freaking out about my potential for liability. I think anyone who’s involved in this program should get themselves a lawyer.”

Public and international pressure led Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, to freeze an arms deal with Riyadh in 2016 as a way of pressuring the Saudis to change their tactics in Yemen. One year later, Trump reversed that decision and opened the floodgates of US arms sales to the Saudis.

To Trump, Saudi Arabia, he said, has “nothing but cash,” which it uses to buy American services, protection and other goods. Regarding the slaughter of civilians in Yemen, he said the Saudis “don’t know how to use” American weapons.

Congress didn’t believe Trump’s explanations, and in April 2019, it passed a bipartisan resolution calling for an end to US military involvement in Yemen. Trump vetoed the resolution and circumvented the ban on arms sales to Riyadh by declaring a state of emergency over Iran, which allowed him to continue complying with Saudi requests.

The US government did budget $750 million to train Saudi soldiers and pilots on fighting in populated areas, with the goal of reducing harm to civilians. It also gave the Saudis a list of 33,000 targets they shouldn’t strike. But the Saudis don’t seem to have been overly impressed, and violations continue to this day.

Unlike Saudi Arabia, the UAE understood the dangers of its involvement in the war in Yemen and withdrew its forces, overcoming the ban on selling it F-35 fighter jets and other arms. It then overcame the “Israeli” obstacle by signing this month’s so-called “peace” deal.

MBS, who started the war in Yemen along with his father, is still wallowing in the Yemeni swamp that has complicated his relationship with the US. And that’s on top of his resounding failures in managing the Kingdom’s foreign policy, like forcing then-Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign, imposing a blockade on Qatar, waging an unsuccessful oil war with Russia that sent prices plummeting and abandoning the Palestinian issue.

Domestic issues haven’t gone that well for MBS either. His Vision 2030 is stumbling. The Kingdom’s treasury has had problems funding megalomaniac projects like his city of the future, which is supposed to involve three countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan), diversify Saudi Arabia’s sources of income and reduce its dependence on oil. So far, it remains on paper.

He did boast an impressive achievement in the war on corruption when he detained dozens of billionaires at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and shook them down, but this was more about squeezing his political rivals’ windpipes than fighting corruption.

Accordingly, MBS can only envy his friend, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed [MBZ], the UAE’s de facto ruler who extricated his country from the war in Yemen and became Washington’s darling – not only because he normalized ties with the “Israeli” entity. And above all, he isn’t surrounded by hostile relatives.

So the question arises: Did all this happen in defiance of Salman’s wishes?

MBS who according to US intelligence didn’t hesitate to put his own mother under house arrest and keep her away from his father for fear she would work against him – may also prove to be someone who doesn’t see obeying his parents as a cardinal virtue. King Salman may be able to give speeches in support of the Palestinians, but his son, as defense minister, has the power to stage a coup against his father if he thinks this will serve him or his agenda, which might yet include normalizing ties with “Israeli” entity.

Are You Feeling Safer? ‘War of the Worlds’ Pits U.S. and Israel Against Everyone Else

By Philip Giraldi

Source

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The media being focused on an upcoming election, coronavirus, fires on the West Coast and burgeoning BLM and Antifa unrest, it is perhaps no surprise that some stories are not exactly making it through to the evening news. Last week an important vote in the United Nations General Assembly went heavily against the United States. It was regarding a non-binding resolution that sought to suspend all economic sanctions worldwide while the coronavirus cases continue to increase. It called for “intensified international cooperation and solidarity to contain, mitigate and overcome the pandemic and its consequences.” It was a humanitarian gesture to help overwhelmed governments and health care systems cope with the pandemic by having a free hand to import food and medicines.

The final tally was 169 to 2, with only Israel and the United States voting against. Both governments apparently viewed the U.N. resolution as problematical because they fully support the unilateral economic warfare that they have been waging to bring about regime change in countries like Iran, Syria and Venezuela. Sanctions imposed on those countries are designed to punish the people more than the governments in the expectation that there will be an uprising to bring about regime change. This, of course, has never actually happened as a consequence of sanctions and all that is really delivered is suffering. When they cast their ballots, some delegates at the U.N. might even have been recalling former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s claim that the death of 500,000 Iraqi children due to U.S. imposed sanctions had been “worth it.”

Clearly, a huge majority of the world’s governments, to include the closest U.S. allies, no longer buy the American big lie when it claims to be the leader of the free world, a promoter of liberal democracy and a force for good.  The vote prompted one observer, John Whitbeck, a former international lawyer based in Paris, to comment how “On almost every significant issue facing mankind and the planet, it is Israel and the United States against mankind and the planet.”

The United Nations was not the only venue where the U.S. was able to demonstrate what kind of nation it has become. Estimates of how many civilians have been killed directly or indirectly as a consequence of the so-called Global War on Terror initiated by George W. Bush are in the millions, with roughly 4 million being frequently cited. Nearly all of the dead have been Muslims. Now there is a new estimate of the number of civilians that have fled their homes as a result of the worldwide conflict initiated by Washington and its dwindling number of allies since 2001. The estimate comes from Brown University’s “Costs of War Project,” which has issued a report Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States Post-9/11 Wars that seeks to quantify those who have “fled their homes in the eight most violent wars the U.S. military has launched or participated in since 2001.”

The project tracks the number of refugees, asylum seekers applying for refugee status, and internally displaced people or persons (IDPs) in the countries that America and its allies have most targeted since 9/11: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya and Syria. All are predominantly Muslim countries with the sole exception of the Philippines, which has a large Muslim minority.

The estimate suggests that between 37 and 59 million civilians have become displaced, with an extremely sharp increase occurring in the past year when the total was calculated to be 21 million. The largest number of those displaced were from Iraq, where fighting against Islamic State has been intermittent, estimated at 9.2 million. Syria, which has seen fighting between the government and various foreign supported insurgencies, had the second-highest number of displacements at 7.1 million. Afghanistan, which has seen a resurgent Taliban, was third having an estimated 5.3 million people displaced.

The authors of the report observe that even the lower figure of 37 million is “almost as large as the population of Canada” and “more than those displaced by any other war or disaster since at least the start of the 20th century with the sole exception of World War II.” And it is also important to note what is not included in the study. The report has excluded sub-Saharan Africa as well as several Arab nations generally considered to be U.S. allies. These constitute “the millions more who have been displaced by other post-9/11 conflicts where U.S. forces have been involved in ‘counterterror’ activities in more limited yet significant ways, including in: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia.”

Yemen should be added to that list given U.S. military materiel assistance that has enabled the Saudi Arabian bombing attacks on that country, also producing a wave of refugees. There are also reports that the White House is becoming concerned over the situation in Yemen as pressure is growing to initiate an international investigation of the Saudi war crimes in that civilian infrastructure targets to include hospitals and schools are being deliberately targeted.

And even the United States Congress has begun to notice that something bad is taking place as there is growing concern that both the Saudi and U.S. governments might be charged with war crimes over the civilian deaths. Reports are now suggesting that as early as 2016, when Barack Obama was still president, the State Department’s legal office concluded that “top American officials could be charged with war crimes for approving bomb sales to the Saudis and their partners” that have killed more than 125,000 including at least 13,400 targeted civilians.

That conclusion preceded the steps undertaken by the Donald Trump White House to make arms sales to the Saudis and their allies in the United Arab Emirates central to his foreign policy, a program that has become an integral part of the promotion of the “Deal of the Century” Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Given that, current senior State Department officials have repressed the assessment made in 2016 and have also “gone to great lengths” to conceal the legal office finding. A State Department inspector general investigation earlier this year considered the Department’s failure to address the legal risks of selling offensive weapons to the Saudis, but the details were hidden by placing them in a classified part of the public report released in August, heavily redacted so that even Congressmen with high level access could not see them.

Democrats in Congress, which had previously blocked some arms sales in the conflict, are looking into the Saudi connection because it can do damage to Trump, but it would be far better if they were to look at what the United States and Israel have been up to more generally speaking. The U.S. benefits from the fact that even though international judges and tribunals are increasingly embracing the concept of holding Americans accountable for war crimes since the start of the GWOT, U.S. refusal to cooperate has been daunting. Last March, when the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague authorized its chief prosecutor to open an investigation into U.S. crimes in Afghanistan the White House reacted by imposing sanctions on the chief prosecutor and his staff lawyer. And Washington has also warned that any tribunal going after Israel will face the wrath of the United States.

Nevertheless, when you are on the losing side on a vote in a respected international body by 169 to 2 someone in Washington should at least be smart enough to discern that something is very, very wrong. But I wouldn’t count on anyone named Trump or Biden to work that out.

Is the US a Global Leader Anymore?

Is the US a Global Leader Anymore?

August 13, 2020

by Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

Currently, the biggest challenge faced by the world is Pandemic. Outbreak early this year has engulfed the whole world. Indeed, the COVID-19 is not too fatal, yet due to its highly contagious nature, it has impacted society adversely. It is a new virus, a lot of studies are going on, especially on its cure and vaccines. Yet, nothing is commercially available; all such R&D is at the laboratory level. Either it is stage one or two or any other advanced stage, yet it might take some time to make the vaccine available at a commercial scale for everybody to be benefitted.

The number of CVID-19 cases has exceeded 20 million, with a death toll of around 750,000. The economic impact is even more visible. And some of the countries are already slipped into recession, while few are almost near to collapse. Social distance has made everyday life more difficult, people are losing jobs, businesses are suffering, and some of the markets have been closed.

At this challenging moment, the whole world was looking toward the US as a global leader to rescue them. Developing countries and underdeveloped countries were more miserable and was expecting much more from the US. Even the developed nations and well-advanced countries were also expecting some kind of assistance or help from the US.

Unfortunatetely, the US was the worst-hit country in the world, with the highest number of Coronavirus cases and the death toll. It was the time when the US can prove its global leadership role. NATO allies, other friendly countries were in award position, when the US showed cold shoulders.

It is entirely right; every country should look after its own interest and must say his own country first. But for a leader, one has to take everyone else along with and protect everyone.

Acknowledging the US’s global leadership, just after World War II (WWII), by launching the Marshal Program aimed to rebuild war-torn Europe was a successful model. As a result, the US gained a leadership role. But during the last couple of decades, the US policies witnessed a deviation from Global responsibilities.

The US was leaving International organizations and treaties, one after another, ignoring its global obligations and escaping from global responsibilities gradually.

  • In 1982, to maintain its maritime hegemony, the United States refused to sign the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), of which it is still not a party. It has created an imbalance of power in the global maritime and vulnerability.
  • In 1984, the United States formally withdrew from UNESCO, dissatisfied with the gradual erosion of its social control by developing countries. After returning to the Organization in 2003, it once again withdrew in 2017 on the so-called ground of saving funds and urging reform. UNESCO suffered a considerable loss in its routine functions. It has impacted the capabilities of the Organization adversely due to a shortage of funds.
  • In 1985, the United States refused to recognize the compulsory jurisdiction of the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) after Nicaragua complained that US armed intervention violated its sovereignty. A message that the US was not sincere about global justice. As a matter of fact, the US was extensively involved in war-crimes and international terrorism and scared of convictions.
  • In 1995, the United States withdrew from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and refused to pay arrears by claiming domestic budgetary constraints, damaging the global industrialization program. Yet increased its defense budget.
  • The United States has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol since 2001, saying it was not in its national interest to meet relevant environmental obligations. By withdrawing, the US denied its responsibility in protecting the global environment. It should be noted that damaging the environment is a severe collective crime with humanity.
  • In 2001, the United States withdrew from the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance after failing to prevent discussion of Israeli military action against Palestinians. Today, what is happening in the US is also the result of these policies.
  • In 2001, to strengthen its military advantage, the United States formally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1972. However, it gave supremacy to the US but created an arms race world-wide, forcing other nations to compete in the US.
  • In 2002, the United States withdrew from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, citing unfavorable terms for American soldiers, diplomats, and politicians. It was a message that the US did not feel globally obliged not to commit war crimes, espionage, the aggression of sovereign states, etc.
  • In 2017, the United States announced its formal withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because it believed that multilateral trade agreements were not in its best interests and hindered its “America First” policy. Although the US is the largest economy of the world, it yet believes in unfair practices.
  • In 2017, the US government announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, aimed to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, believing that it could hinder economic development. An irrational approach and wrong decision again.
  • In 2017, the United States withdrew from negotiations of the United Nations Global impact on Migration and cast votes against the UNGCM at the UN General Assembly.
  • In 2018, even though the IAEA confirmed Iran’s fulfillment of its JCPOA commitment and that the United States had no clear evidence to show Iran conducted nuclear tests in breach of the deal, the United States withdrew from the JCPOA, a deal that has been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council and re-imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran. This decision has damaged the US image adversely. Contaraily imposed irrational sanctions on Iran, making the lives of Iranian more miserable.
  • In 2018, the US announced its withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council, claiming it failed to protect human rights adequately. The current violence in the US may also be the outcome of this decision.
  • In 2018, the United States withdrew from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes relating to the jurisdiction of the ICJ in order to avoid a Palestinian complaint filed legitimately to the ICJ. It has caused a strong wave of anti-American sentiments in the Arab world.
  • In 2019, the United States withdrew from the INF Treaty to develop short- and medium-range missiles without restraint. Again a wrong decision at wrong timings, pushing the world toward developing more lethal weapons.
  • In 2020, under the pretext of alleged Russian violations of the Open Skies Treaty, the United States announced steps to exit the Treaty.
  • In 2020, the US government, looking for scapegoats for its botched response to COVID-19, announced its withdrawal from the World Health Organization. It should be noted that the United States still owes more than $200 million in assessed contributions. Will the US pay this sum before going out? Exactly, when WHO needs to be strengthened, the US decision harmed the Organization’s capabilities.

Notably, the Trump-Administration has focused only on “America First,” leaving the rest of the world ignored. The Pandemic has exposed Trump-administration’s policies further. Europe was suffering from COVID-19 and expecting that the US may come up with some kind of help and rescue. But, unfortunately, this was not in the minds of the Trump-Administration.

If the United States tries to escape from its global responsibilities, it may no longer enjoy the status of global leadership. The gap created by the US may be filled-in by some other powers. Enjoy authority, but with responsibilities!

Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.

Hundreds of ‘Israeli’ Officials May Stand Trial at International Criminal Court

Hundreds of ‘Israeli’ Officials May Stand Trial at International Criminal Court

By Staff, Haaretz

The Zionist entity is drawing up a secret list of military and intelligence officials who might be subject to arrest abroad if the International Criminal Court in the Hague opens an investigation into ‘Israeli’ war crimes in Palestine, ‘Israeli’ Haaretz newspaper reported.

The paper learned that this list now includes between 200 and 300 officials, some of whom have not been informed. The great secrecy surrounding the issue stems from a fear that the mere disclosure of the list’s existence could endanger the people on it.

“The assessment is that the court is likely to view a list of names as an official ‘Israeli’ admission of these officials’ involvement in the incidents under investigation.”

Relatively, the ICC is expected to rule shortly on whether to approve the request by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to investigate ‘Israel’ over suspicions of war crimes in Palestine.

Given the time frame, experts in international law believe that officials and decision-makers involved in incidents beginning with the 2014 war on Gaza would be the first to face the court’s scrutiny.

On the list is also Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; former ‘Israeli’ war ministers Moshe Ya’alon, Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett; former ‘Israel’ Occupation Forces chiefs of staff Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, and current Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi; and the former and current heads of the Shin Bet security service, Yoram Cohen and Nadav Argaman, respectively.

But the length of the list shows that it includes people in much more junior positions, including lower-ranking military officers and perhaps even officials involved in issuing various types of permits to settlements and settlement outposts, since the issue of Zionist settlement in the occupied territories is also within the scope of the requested investigation.

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Panic and the Pandemic ‘Down Under’: The Ultimate Unseen Enemy

By Jeremy Salt

Source

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In the southeastern corner of Australia a State of Emergency has replaced what was known until recently only as the State of Victoria. The unseen enemy has been a fact of modern life since the 1950s but at least the red under the bed could be seen if found. COVID-19 is the ultimate unseen enemy, because it literally cannot be seen except through a microscope and noone knows where it is and when it will strike.

The panic generated by the spread of the virus is completely disproportionate to the risk of dying from it. Between late January and July 1, 2020, 2,505, 923 people were tested for COVID-19 in Australia. As updated by Worldometer on July 3, of the 8255 cases that tested positive, 7319 had recovered.  A further 832 cases were still active (99 percent in mild condition; of the 7423 ‘closed’ cases 99 percent of those infected had recovered and one percent (104) had died.

Figures issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that of the deaths associated with COVID-19, no-one below the age of 39 had died.  In the 40-49 age bracket, there had been one death; 50-59, two; 60-69, 13; 70-79, 31; 80-89, 35; over 90, 20. Thus, well over 80 of the 104 deaths were in the 70s-90s age bracket.

By comparison 3334 Australians died from influenza/pneumonia in 2016 (median age 88.8). In 2017 the figure was 4269 (median age 88.3): in 2018, 3102 (median age 89.3). In the same year, 2952 Australians died from accidental falls, their median age 87.3. A further 3046 Australians died from “intentional self-harm” and hundreds of others from traffic accidents or drowning.  This is not to underplay the seriousness of the COVID-19 virus but only to put it into perspective and the context of deaths from other causes.

The figures for influenza deaths in 2019 have not yet been published.  According to a report published on August 18, 2019, however, even before the influenza season (June-September) was over 430 people had already died (some deaths were attributed to other causes despite showing “flu-like symptoms).” Hospitals were said to be “overrun,” with nearly 217,000 people diagnosed with the illness and “experts” believing the final death toll could could be much higher. [1] The Queensland government’s Ministry of Health confirmed that 264 people in Queensland alone had died.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one billion people around the world get the flu every year, with a loose estimate of 290,000-650,000 deaths, compared to the number of people misleadingly listed by the WHO as dying ‘of’ the COVID-19 virus: 472, 541 by June 23, 2020, and more than half a million by the end of the month. Despite the comparatively high global death toll from influenza, only five pandemics have been declared in more than a century, the worst of them in 1918 and the most recent after the ‘swine flu’ outbreak of 2009.

While COVID-19 may be ‘a’ cause of the 104 deaths it is not generally ‘the’ cause.  Those who die are listed as having been infected with the virus and its significance in their deaths remains unknown. Most of those infected have other serious and possibly terminal diseases likely to end their lives anyway (only about four percent of those said to have been infected with the virus when they died had no preconditions) and statements that people have died ‘from’ the virus or ‘of’ the virus, as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) on its website, are misleading.

Doctors in the UK are authorized to list the virus as a cause of death on the clinical “balance of probabilities.” In Australia doctors are instructed that COVID-19 should be recorded on the death certificate when the disease caused “or is assumed to have caused or contributed” to the death. The doctors might be right but probabilities and assumptions are hardly scientific as a means of assessing the causes of death. Bearing this in mind, the veracity of the statistics has to be regarded with some caution.

A further issue in COVID-19 control is the reliability of the basic WHO-approved test for the virus, which two investigators have concluded after detailed research is “scientifically meaningless.”[2]  Many deaths associated with COVID-19 have occurred in nursing or aged care homes, where the Swiss Policy Research Institute estimates that up to 30 percent may ultimately have been caused not by the virus but by the consequences of the lockdown, including isolation, panic and fear.[3]

Australian politicians will insist that without the lockdown the figures would have been much higher. This will forever remain a moot point but other countries have come through well without adopting such restrictive measures as Australian governments, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan among them.

Sweden, on the other hand, the bad boy of the pandemic, took minimal measures and suffered a comparatively high death toll of 5280, 51.85 deaths per 100,000 or a 8.1 fatality rate per 100,000. Of the deaths, 1151 were in the 70-79 age bracket and 2191 in their 80s to 90s, a total of 3342 deaths, more than two-thirds of the total, suggesting that while Sweden was correct in thinking that no more than minimal restrictions were necessary for the general population, it failed to provide sufficient protection for the most vulnerable, the aged and seriously ill.

In the state of Victoria 20 people infected with COVID-19 had died by the end of June, 2020 (compared to 68 deaths from influenza in 2016 and 297 in 2017).  The battle to contain the virus is being led by the Premier, Daniel Andrews, an aspiring or professional politician since he left university, and his Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos, a tax lawyer before she went into politics.  They have closed down schools and businesses.  Tens of thousands of people have been thrown out of work and the center of Melbourne turned into a dead zone.  In a city that is a magnet for young people, with hundreds of bars and other music ‘venues, the ‘hospitality’ sector has been severely affected.

While staff can claim unemployment benefits, restaurant and bar owners have been hung out to dry, with the government that closed their businesses offering nothing beyond small dollops of financial support and the suggestion that they take out bank loans. Many will go under (some already have) and others will be saddled with debt if/when they are able to reopen.  The easing of restrictions can mean little in practice, when owners of a ‘music venue’ have to apply a ‘density quotient’ of one person per four square meters.  This obviously rules out the numerous small bars where people like to meet because they ARE small and therefore cozy.

The politicians, the police, the health ‘experts’ and the media are all speaking with one voice.  There is no two-way conversation between the state and the people but a monologue, with the government and its ancillary forces telling the people what they have to do, what they have to understand, as the media frequently puts it.  In the name of suppressing the pandemic the dividing line between the authoritarian state and the liberal democracy is gradually being erased.

Expanded police powers include random home door-knocks to check that people are ‘self-isolating,’ with the police searching for anyone not at home.   A recent video showed police harassing a woman walking in the center of the city with a child in a pusher.  While one policeman wrestled her to the ground when she objected, another wheeled the child away. Groups of police are arriving unnannounced at restaurants to make sure social distancing guidelines are being observed and the names and contact phone numbers of all customers recorded on the official government form.  Police ‘enforcement patrols’ have been set up in viral ‘hot spots’, with traffic stopped across the city to check whether drivers have moved out of these suburbs.

Both the Federal (national) and state police have an arm called Protective Service Officers. In Victoria, they were created for the express purpose of providing security at suburban railway stations but are now being redeployed at shopping centers and in residential areas.   In the words of Police Minister Lisa Neville, “What we hadn’t predicted was that we would be given the opportunity to test how using them in shopping centers and other areas would go and we’ve had that opportunity.”   Assistant Police Commissioner Shane Patton concurs, as it had been a “real advantage” for the Victoria Police to be able to use the PSOs elsewhere during the pandemic.

Hundreds of people have been calling the “police assistance line,” set up for reports of “non-urgent” crime, to report breaches of the pandemic regulations: 61,000 in February, before the pandemic was declared; 71,000 in March and 102,000 in April, an average of  3500-11,500 day, mostly about the virus.  ‘Dobbing in’ – snitching – has always been regarded with the greatest contempt in Australia, along with contempt for the ‘scab,’ the worker who breaks the union picket line, but now the police see the snitch as a virtue, as doing “the right thing and holding others to account,” says Assistant Police Commisssioner Patton. “It’s about saving lives.”

Fines of up to $1652 are being imposed for people not doing the right thing, by failing to wear a face mask or not observing the correct social distance.   Apart from police surveillance and intervention, the phone app millions of Australians have been persuaded into downloading enables the government to track them down wherever they happen to be, in the name of ‘tracing’ contacts of those who might have been infected.   The fact that anyone with a smartphone can be tracked down anyway, can even be heard and photographed without their knowledge is no argument for taking the surveillance possibilities of the virus app lightly when there is no verifiable protection against its use for other purposes.

With the number of new cases on the rise, Andrews called in the army to give logistical support. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, talking as though this was Afghanistan, said the army was already “on the ground” in Victoria.  Discussions were continuing with Mr Andrews and the Minister of Defence.   The army had already been summoned “to assist with compliance” at the hotels where nationals returning from overseas are being quarantined in their rooms for 14 days (at least at the government’s expense: in Queensland overseas arrivals have to pay $2800 per person).

The quarantine hotels have been placed under the overall control of Corrections Victoria, which runs the state’s prisons.  Media images show up to a dozen police and soldiers in uniform with slouch hats surrounding travelers bussed in from the airport as they wheel their luggage into a hotel foyer.  In South Australia police armed with assault rifles have been patrolling “at risk” areas.

As the number of infections continued to rise in Victoria, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called on anyone offering accommodation – hotels, hostels and Airbnb –  to turn away people from Victoria.  The NSW government then took a further step, closing its borders to Victorians from ‘hot spots’ and threatening those who ‘slip across’ with an $11,000 fine and six months in jail.  Queensland has closed its borders to all visitors from Victoria.  Cars crossing from Victoria into South Australia have been vandalized and the drivers abused, such is the hysteria that has been generated.

While travelers arriving in Melbourne are quarantined in hotels for 14 days at the government’s expense, those arriving in Brisbane on a flight from overseas have to pay $2800 per person.   No arrangement seems to have been made for travelers who need to be in Queensland and don’t have $2800 to spare.

With dire reports of death, new ‘hot spots’ and ‘spikes’ filling the papers every day, people have been wondering when and how it will all end, “when will I be able to hug my grandchildren again?” as the headline over one article read but “do the right thing”,  “do the decent thing”, “play it safe and stay at home” are the messages repeatedly being hammered home by politicians, police, bureaucrats,  health experts and the media, in and out of uniform, but all speaking with the same voice of authority.

Around the world ‘lockdowns’ have had profound economic and social consequences, including mass unemployment (about half the British workforce is now unemployed or underemployed), depression, domestic violence, eviction from homes, impoverishment, the denial of regular medical service even to people with serious and possibly terminal illnesses and ‘distance education,’ with parents expected to hold down jobs and simultaneously supervise the education of their children at home.

Health practitioners writing for the British medical journal the Lancet say the closure of schools in 107 countries around the world has been based on evidence and “assumptions” from influenza outbreaks.  About 862 million children and young people – “roughly half of the global student population” [4] – have been affected, apart from the impact on the lives of parents and other relatives.

The other consequences include the loss to society of parental productivity, the possibility of vulnerable grandparents called on to provide child care transmitting the virus to children (or children transmitting it to them), the loss of education, harm to the welfare of the child especially among the most vulnerable childen and nutritional problems caused to children for whom free school meals are “an important source of nutrition.”  Social isolation is listed as another negative byproduct.

The Lancet study notes the “remarkable dearth of policy-relevant data” on school distancing, including closures.  The authors question whether the closures were necessary and draw attention to the adverse effects, which include the economic harm to working parents, health-care workers and other workers “forced” from work to provide child-care.

İt finds that “the evidence to support national closure of schools to combat COVID-19 is very weak and that data from influenza outbreaks suggest that school closures could have relatively small effects on a virus with COVID-19’s high transmissibility and apparent low clinical effect on school children.”

Writing in the New York Times, David Katz, President of the True Health Initiative and founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre, proposed more targeted ways of dealing with the pandemic, based on preferential protection for the medical and those over 60 years of age while allowing ‘herd immunity’ to develop among the population at large.  Infection would spread but only in a mild form for the vast bulk of the population, with adequate medical resources then available to treat those who become seriously ill. [5]

Although contact-tracing phone apps have been introduced in many countries, including Australia, the WHO has recommended against their use in any circumstance, whether epidemic or pandemic.   Issues of privacy, increased government surveillance at a time when it has already reached an all-time high and the possible ‘repurposing’ of the apps are immediately raised.

These questions only add to a long list that need answers, including where the virus first surfaced.  The media fed the first assumption that it was transferred to humans from a ‘wet market’ in China but numerous other countries, including the US, have since been identified as an earlier possible source (according to a Spanish report, the COVID-19 virus was discovered in waste water in Barcelona in March 2019).

The supposedly ‘natural’ origin of the virus has been challenged by some eminent epidemiologists who say it can only have been developed in a laboratory.  If so, was its release accidental or deliberate? Given the intense security measures observed in biological research laboratories, especially when a virus can threaten human life, how could such a release have been accidental?

On October 18, 2019, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation sponsored a pandemic exercise called ‘Event 201.’  According to the scenario as laid down, it would only be a matter of time before an epidemic turned into a pandemic with catastrophic global consequences, arising from the transmission of a virus to humans through bats and pigs.  The ‘matter of time’ turned out to be only two months later, when the first outbreak of COVID-19 was identified in China (subsequent reports had it appearing much earlier elsewhere).

Fortuitously, the virus surfaced at the precise point when US banks, trading houses and other financial institutions were about to plunge off the cliff, more disastrously than in 2007-09.  While the world was looking the other way, the Federal Reserve bailed Wall Sreet out to the tune of trillions of dollars: $6.6 trillion from September, 2019 – March, 2020, a total of $29 trillion since 2007.  When the root of the problem is systemic, however,  these trillions might end up as good money thrown away after bad.  Writing in the current issue of the Atlantic, Frank Partnoy warns that the US financial system could be on the cusp of calamity and “this time we might not be able to save it.” [6]

The enormity of this second bailout would surely have caused public fury if exposed to the light of day but the bigger story was what it represented, not just the collapse of financial houses but an epochal collapse of the global ‘free market’ capitalist order as it had operated since 1945.  Based on over-production and artificially-stimulated consumerism in a world of shrinking resources, the system had not been sustainable for a long time.  Astute observers had seen the end coming for years. Already in 2015 the UN Agenda 2030 had as its central theme “a sustainable world with income equality, gender equality and vaccines for all.”  But how was the changeover to be managed, how was the new world going to be built on the ruins of the old and how could the global capitalist order be preserved in these new circumstances?

At this point COVID-19 appeared like a genie out of the bottle. In the short term it provided cover for the trillions of dollars paid out in the US to faltering corporations and financial institutions.  Banks and corporations in the UK, Australia and other countries were also the prime beneficiaries of multiple billion dollar ‘stimulus’ packages.   Media-generated pandemic panic then enabled governments to lock down entire populations and prepare them for the post-COVID-19 world.

On June 3, 2020, the WEF announced ‘The Great Reset,’ the theme of its next global forum, in January 2021.  This ‘reset’ would be based on economic restructuring built around sustainable development. The ‘market’ would be steered towards new outcomes; investments would advance equality and sustainability; and a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ would be launched to address health and social issues.

The ‘reset’ has been endorsed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the corporate world.  Goldman Sachs has developed “a framework for investing after Covid-19,’ which it regards as a “rule-changing” and an “existential event where capital needs to find new homes.”  Retooling, winners and losers, new learning, and filling empty spaces created by failed businesses are some of the key phrases in a research paper on how Goldman Sachs (which would have collapsed in 2007-9 but for the $12.9 billion it received in the ‘bailout’ of that time) plans to be part of ‘The Great Reset.’[7]

The ‘reset’ is top-down management by the same institutions and corporations that created and kept alive a failing economic order for as long as they could and only accepted change when the system was on the point of collapse. The First Industrial Revolution did not lead to social equity and balance but to children working in coal mines for ten hours a day or losing their fingers in the spinning jenny at the textile factory.

The notion now, that those who have exploited humanity in every age are about to become its benefactors, is amusing but not to be taken seriously. The promises of great health, social and environmental benefits made by the architects of the ‘great reset’ and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are no more than the sales pitch for the restructuring of the old economic order.

Just like the old order, the new one is destined to serve the money and power interests of governments, institutions and corporations stratospherically above the interests of the people. The economic and social debris of the old world, the collapsed businesses, the millions of jobs lost (almost half the working age population of the US is presently unemployed) and the countless lives destroyed will be cleared away, leaving the corporations, protected, refinanced, and coming through unscathed, to fill Goldman Sachs’ empty spaces.

There could not be a ‘great reset’ without the pandemic. With the consent of the people, fear bordering on hysteria has been used to turn ‘liberal democracies’ into working models of authoritarian states.  The world has been subjected to a training exercise for the balance between state and society once the world has been reset.  State intervention and micro- surveillance will be generally accepted as part of the ‘new normal.’ Consensual authoritarianism will prevail.  Rights and responsibilities will be reversed: even more than previously, it will be the right of the state to intervene and the responsibility of the individual to obey.

The leaders 

Finally, the background and personalities of the politicians who have locked down Australia raise questions of their own. Internationally, Scott Morrison, the prime minister, was last seen on holiday in Hawaii, a big smile on his face and frangipani wreathing his head, Nero-like, as large parts of Australia burnt down.  The folly of his behavior might have finished him off had not the virus given him the opportunity to renew himself as a national leader.

Politically, Morrison is an arch-conservative; religiously, he is a Christian fundamentalist, a Pentacostalist who regularly attends Sydney’s Horizon Church.  The Pentecostalists believe in the ‘inerrancy’ of the Bible and ‘prosperity theology,’ acording to which the rich are rich because they deserve to be rich.  They also believe in miracles, faith healing through the laying on of hands and the vocal gifts of ‘glossolalic’ utterances, otherwise known as speaking in tongues, and xenoglossia, which is speaking or writing in a language noone else can (yet) understand.

In Morrison’s political life there is little of the mercy, compassion and humility usually associated with Christianity.  As Minister for Immigration and Border Protection in 2014, he did his best to stop asylum seekers from reaching Australia and was accused by the Australian Human Rights Commission of falling down on his responsibilities under international law to protect children being kept in detention. He has denied that there was ever slavery in Australia, in complete ignorance of the 19th century ‘blackbirding’ of tens of thousands of Pacfic islanders, tricked into coming to Queensland to work on plantations as indentured laborers or the indigenous people exploited by church missions. He opposes gay marriage and has upheld the ‘right’ of religious schools under the Sex Discrimination Act to expel gay or lesbian students.

In foreign affairs he has further cemented Australia’s place as a camp follower of the US, whatever it decides to do. On Palestine, his government has recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and has tried to block the prosecution of Israelis for war crimes at the International Criminal Court.  In late June only the Marshall Islands and Australia voted against resolutions tabled by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) opposing Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.

Morrison has signaled that if the US decides to go to war against Iran he will “seriously consider” Australia joining it.  Australia hosts a number of US military/communications bases, is fully inside the current US military-economic ‘pivot’ against China and Morrison has just announced a $270 billion ‘defense’ program for a “dangerous and disorderly post-COVID19 world” policy fashioned around the ‘threat’ from China.  Here the virus is again used as cover, this time to justify massive (in Australian terms”) ‘defence’ spending.

Both Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne have made numerous public statements that could only antagonize China.  In late June the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Security Organization (ASIO) raided the home and office of an NSW Labor Party MP, Shaoquette Mosolmane, on the basis of an allegation that the office had been infiltrated by a Chinese government agent. Although no evidence was presented and no charges laid, Mosolmane was immediately suspended from the Labor Party.  The raid would have had to have been authorized by Morrison. These developments plus the accusation that Wuhan was the source of the COVID-19 virus have directly fed public and media anti-Chinese sentiments.

In the private sector, Morrison was hired as the director of New Zealand’s Office of Tourism and Sport in 1998 but ‘let go’ in 2000 with a year of his contract still to run, after criticism of the board’s conduct and performance by the Auditor-General. In 2004 he was taken on as managing director of Tourism Australia by the Howard government and, again, ‘let go’ in 2006   a year before his contract ended, after complaints of $184 million being awarded in contracts without proper assessment that the organization was getting value for money. The fact that a federal Liberal Party government let Morrison go is a fair enough indication that what he did wrong was serious. In 2007 he entered federal parliament after a dirty election campaign which saw him collaborating with a Labor Party figure, Sam Dastyari, to do in a rival within his own party.

While Morrison presents himself as a man of the people, as an open, good-hearted suburban dad, he has a tainted background in business, has engaged in underhand behavior in politics, has shown no empathy with the wretched of the earth in line with the tenets of the Christian faith he professes and has played on public biases and fears to advance his own political interests.

Daniel Andrews, the Victorian Premier, comes across as a far cleaner figure, if increasingly out of his depth in the handling of the pandemic.  He also has a religious background, as a Catholic, but a progressive one. He supports abortion on demand, has opened safe injection rooms for drug addicts and has legalized euthanasia for the terminally ill.   Nevertheless, his close daily control of the messages coming out of the government and increasingly authoritarian management style have earned him the nickname of “Chairman Dan.’

The consequences

So far the federal Australian government has spent $138 billion to support workers and businesses, but many – especially in the hospitality sector – have received little or no financial support and will either not be able to reopen their businesses or will reopen them saddled with years of debt.  In May unemployment had jumped in one month from 5.2 percent to 6.2 percent of the work force, with 600,000 people losing their jobs in April and a further 230,000 in May.   At 13.8 percent, youth unemployment was especially high.   The ABS statistics show that about 2.7 million workers – one in five of the work force – ‘left’ their employment in March-April or had their hours reduced.   According to current predictions, unemployment will reach 10 percent.

The financial costs incurred in the name of suppressing the virus are likely to set Australian economic development back for decades.  The social costs and medical costs are yet to come in.  These would cover the number of people whose medical needs have been disrupted by the single-minded focus on COVID-19, and those whose health has been worsened by isolation, loneliness and the inability to maintain businesses and provide for their families, leading in some cases, without any doubt, to suicide.

Victorians, and Australians more generally, need to do the right thing, the decent thing, and ask questions instead of docilely accepting what they are being told, much of it misleading and lacking context.  Overall, the question eventually to be asked may not be whether the cure was worse than the disease, but how much worse it was.

THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES OF THE EMERGING NEW WORLD ORDER

 A

Source: New Eastern Outlook

By James O’Neill
One of the many difficulties in interpreting the statements of United States President Donald Trump is to decide what category to put his many statements (and even more prolific tweets) in.

Is it another thought bubble similar to his pronouncements on a cure for COVID-19 that was more likely to kill rather than to cure those who followed his advice? Is the latest pronouncement said with an eye to his re-election this coming November, to be discarded once that hurdle has been passed?

The answer to that question is perhaps best found by looking at his track record over the past 3 ½ years. There have been many pronouncements in the foreign policy field, but vanishingly small achievements have followed. The much-heralded nuclear deal with North Korea is one of the latest to fall by the wayside with North Korea’s president Kim announcing a resumption of nuclear testing.

Kim’s cited reason was the total absence of any concrete moves by the United States in settling their multiple outstanding issues. Kim noted, with some justification, that Trump’s negotiating technique was to demand concessions from the North Koreans which had to be fulfilled before the US would make any moves itself, such as reducing troop numbers in South Korea, or ceasing its economic warfare on the North.

It is a well-established principle that what a person does is a much more reliable indicator of future behaviour than what they say. Since becoming president, Trump has withdrawn from, or announced the United States’ intention of withdrawing from, a significant number of major treaties. These included, a by no means exhaustive list, the nuclear arms deal with Iran negotiated with the other United Nations Security Council permanent members plus Germany and European Union; the International Postal Union; the Paris climate agreement; the Trans-Pacific Partnership; UNESCO; and the Human Rights Council.

Whatever else these moves may mean; they are not the actions of a country committed to solving international problems in a multi-national format. Given this track record over the past 3+ years there is no basis for believing that they are temporary measures designed only to enhance Trump’s re-election prospects. Rather the attitude has been, “as long as you do what we want, we will stay.”

Given also the lack of any serious opposition to these moves in the US Senate or his putative presidential opposition candidate Joe Biden, it is probably safe to assume that these moves reflect a broader US approach to multilateral relations. That is, “as long as you do what we want we will stay” in any given organisation.

The reaction to unfavourable decisions by international bodies does however go further. The International Criminal Court (that the United States does not belong to) recently announced it was reopening its investigation into war crimes committed by the United States (and its allies) in Afghanistan. One might argue that this is long overdue, given that these alleged crimes have been a feature of the long 18+ years of warfare carried out on that country. This is before one even begins to contemplate the manifest lies on which the original invasion was based.

Trump’s reaction to the ICC announcement was to threaten both the organisation and its investigating staff, implying a military response if they had the temerity to indict any Americans for war crimes. The principles established in the Nuremberg and Tokyo war crimes trials are, it seems, but an historical aberration when even the investigation of what are, in reality, well documented crimes, invokes such a lawless and violent response.

It is in this context that one has to look at Trump’s sudden enthusiasm for an arms control treaty with Russia. This is the topic to be discussed at the forthcoming meeting between the United States and Russian representatives at a 22 June 2020 meeting in Vienna.

There are a number of ways to interpret the United States’ sudden enthusiasm for an agreement with Russia. The first and most obvious is that it is that the United States has realised that the modern Russian arsenal, partially detailed in President Putin’s March 2018 speech to the Russian parliament, is vastly superior to anything in the United States arsenal and that gap is unlikely to narrow, little alone close, for the foreseeable future.

The Russian (but United States resident) writer and military analyst Andre Martyanov is particularly scathing on this point, both in his books and all his website.

While that is possibly part of Trump’s motivation, this is far from being the whole explanation. One has only to look at the continuing role of the United States in Ukraine, not to mention the farcical trial of four alleged perpetrators of the shooting down of MH 17 (three Russians and one Ukrainian) to gauge a measure of United States sincerity.

Far more likely a motive is that Trump is using the meeting as part of his much wider campaign of trying to disrupt the burgeoning Russia China partnership that is going from strength to strength. Trump wants a new deal on nuclear arms that includes China, but he is silent on the other nuclear powers (Great Britain, India, France, Pakistan and Israel) all of whom have a similar or greater number of nuclear weapons than China.

China has long since passed the United States as the world’s largest economy in terms of parity purchasing power. It has formed a close and growing relationship with Russia, not only in its huge Belt and Road Initiative (with now more than 150 countries) but in a series of other organisations such as the Shanghai Corporation Organisation and ASEAN that is presenting a radically different model of economic co-operation and development than the exploitative western model that has dominated for the past 300 years.

This threat to the United States’ self-defined role as the world’s dominant power did not commence during Trump’s presidency, and the United States reaction to it will not cease with the ending of that presidency, either at the end of this year or in four years’ time. If Biden wins in November, we may be spared the endless tweets and bombastic behaviour, but it would be naïve to anticipate any significant change in United States foreign policy.

Therein lies the greatest danger to world peace. The likely future trends arising out of the growing might of China and its relationship with Russia have recently been analysed by the imminent Russian academic Sergey Karaganov. His analysis of the developing China Russia relationship and its geopolitical implications was recently published in an Italian outlet and conveniently summarised in English by Pepe Escobar in his article “Russia Aiming to Realise Greater Eurasian Dream”.

Karaganov argues that Russia’s growing relationship with China represents a wholly new non-aligned movement centred in the greater Eurasian landmass. Unlike the British and the later United States models which depended on invasion, occupation and exploitation of the natural resources of the conquered nations, the new Eurasian model is much more likely to recognise the individual rights and aspirations of the participating nations and pursue policies of mutual benefit.

None of which is seen as other than a threat to the United States and the model it seeks to impose upon the world. Trump’s recent gestures towards Russia need to be interpreted in that light. The United States has no genuine interest in the welfare and prosperity of either Russia or China. Rather, they exist as pieces to be used in the United States version of the world chess board, manipulated to try and maintain the old model of Western, and in particular, United States dominance.

The reluctance of a growing number of European countries to subscribe to that version is more apparent by the day. Therein lies the challenge, the prospect for a better future for the countries joining the pivot to the east, and the greatest danger from a desperate United States unwilling to acknowledge that its days of dominance are rapidly disappearing.

As the Indian commentator M.K. Bhadrakumar says: “Trump’s diatribe against the ICC exposes the hypocrisy of American policies, which keeps blabbering about a rules based international order while acting with impunity whenever it chooses, for geopolitical reasons.” He cites examples and then concludes that “America under Trump has now become the rogue elephant in the international system.” That is, with respect, a perfect summation of where we are at present.

Venezuela To Take US Sanctions To ICC

Venezuela To Take US Sanctions To ICC

By Staff, Agencies

Venezuela vowed to take the United States to the International Criminal Court [ICC] in response to new unilateral sanctions imposed by Washington on the Latin American nation.

The administration in Washington introduced sanctions on Thursday that targeted Mexican companies and individuals for allegedly attempting to evade US restrictions on Venezuela’s oil sector.

“Washington continues to narrow the circle around Venezuela. They [the United States] believe that we cannot export oil and the Venezuelan people are left without food products, medicines, and petrol,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza wrote on his Twitter page later in the day.

“The UN multipolar system must respond. We will go the International Criminal Court over this case,” he added.

Venezuela descended into political turmoil after opposition figure Juan Guido unilaterally declared himself “interim president” of the country in January last year, and with Washington’s assistance and help from a small number of rogue soldiers, later launched a botched putsch against the elected government. There was also an attempt at assassinating the legitimately-elected President Nicolas Maduro with a drone in 2018.

Guaido’s self-proclamation and his coup received backing from the US administration.

Washington has imposed several rounds of crippling sanctions against the oil-rich nation aimed at ousting Maduro and bringing Guaido to power instead.

The sanctions, which include the illegal confiscation of Venezuelan assets abroad and an economic blockade, have caused enormous suffering for millions of people in the country.

In yet another show of animosity toward the government in Caracas, a group of US-backed mercenaries attempted to intrude into the northern Venezuelan state of La Guaira on speedboats last month, but the country’s military foiled the attack, killing eight of the armed men and arresting several others.

One of the two US citizens arrested during the marine incursion said in a public interrogation on Venezuelan state TV that the purpose of the military operation had been to seize an airport in Caracas, kidnap Maduro, and take him to the US.

The contract under which the mercenaries carried out the attack bore Guaido’s signature as well as those of other opposition figures.

In a similar move, Iran, which is also under harsh US sanctions, opened a case at the Hague-based court in 2018, calling on the organization to suspend unilateral economic sanctions imposed by Washington after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 international nuclear deal.

Washington Struggles to Manage the Crisis, But Israel Continues to Benefit

By Philip Giraldi

Source

Senator Rick Scott b427d

The self-inflicted cultural defenestration of what passes for Western Civilization in the United States continues apace. As George Orwell described the process in 1984 “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present…”

Ironically, even as America’s Founding Fathers are being pilloried through the prism of contemporary values, not every bit of customary behavior is being challenged. Even though the United States is going through a devastating health care and national identity crisis, the Federal Government continues to grind out legislation that is favorable to Israel and to certain Jewish interests. “The Never Again (Holocaust) Education Act,” for example, passed through the House of Representatives (H.R. 943) by a 395-3 vote followed by a unanimous vote in the Senate on S.2085 on May 13th.  It will help to indoctrinate school children regarding an easily challengeable narrative of perpetual victimhood which in turn generates billions of dollars for the racist state of Israel, but it was described by Congressional supporters as merely an instrument to support the already existing educational resources at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), which is also taxpayer funded.

The House bill’s sponsor Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York preened that “Combatting hate and intolerance must always be a priority and I’m glad that the Senate agrees. Passing this bill by unanimous consent today sends a strong message that the Congress is overwhelmingly united in combatting antisemitism…” and the Senate bill’s sponsor Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada explained how “…the Never Again Education Act will give schools needed resources to cover one of the darkest chapters in our history. Through education, we can provide insight into the past, and use it to prevent anti-Semitism now.”

If Americans Knew has documented how there were 68 pieces of legislation focused on providing goods and services to Israel in 2019, with 18 more added, identified here, so far this year. The most well known piece of legislation is S.3176, “US-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2020 (To amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014 to make improvements to certain defense and security assistance provisions and to authorize the appropriations of funds to Israel, and for other purposes),” which is the upper chamber’s version of House bill H.R.1837, which was passed last July. S.3176 passed out of committee on May 21st and is scheduled for a floor vote. The Senate bill was sponsored by Marco Rubio of Florida, a favorite of the Israel Lobby and its oligarch funders.

The House and Senate bills derive from an agreement entered into by President Barack Obama committing the U.S. Treasury to give Israel a minimum of $3.8 billion a year for the next ten years. The current version of the legislation has tweaked the language to make that $3.8 billion Danegeld a minimum, subject to increase as circumstances dictate. The bill also provides Israel additional military equipment off the books, funds several co-production arrangements and basically commits Washington to supporting Israel militarily even if the Jewish state starts the war.

Other pro-Israel bills include H.R.5595 – the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act (To impose additional prohibitions relating to foreign boycotts under Export Control Reform Act of 2018, and for other purposes),” which includes criminal penalties to target businesses, organizations and individuals who attempt to boycott or disrupt commercial activity operating out of Israel’s West Bank settlements. It was drafted in response to the publication of a United Nations database identifying over 100 Israeli companies doing business in illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. S.Res. 570  “A resolution opposing and condemning the potential prosecution of United States and Israeli nationals by the International Criminal Court,” meanwhile is an attempt to block any consideration by the international court of Israeli as well as American war crimes.

Other legislation (S.3775 “The United States Israel Military Capability Act” involves developing and sharing military technology even though Israel frequently steals what is developed and H.Res.837 “Reaffirming the need for transatlantic cooperation to combat anti-Semitism in Europe” encourages European countries to do more to teach about the so-called holocaust and anti-Semitism.

But the most bizarre resolutions currently circulating on the Congressional circuit are S.3722 and H.R.6829 “To authorize funding for a bilateral cooperative program with Israel for the development of health technologies with a focus on combating COVID-19.” The respective bills were introduced on May 12th and 13th and are now in committee. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has been lobbying Congress hard by playing the China-as-threat card. The House version is consequently dubbed the “Expanding Medical Partnerships with Israel to Lessen Dependence on China Act.”

What the bills will do is establish a partnership with Israel to develop a vaccine and other medical responses to the pandemic virus. The costs will be shared, but Israel’s pharmaceutical industry will market the products, which promises to be enormously profitable if the endeavor succeeds.

And finally, there is Iran, Israel’s bête noire. On June 8th U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran’s shipping network took effect, months after they were announced in December following claims made by the State Department relating to alleged Iranian support for proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Commercial and maritime industries and even governments now risk U.S. sanctions if they do any business with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and/or its Shanghai-based subsidiary, E-Sail Shipping Company. The new sanctions are being touted by Republican Congressmen as the “toughest ever.”

So, what is the average American citizen to do confronted by an avalanche of Congressional action benefitting Israel while the United States is going through its most trying time since the Great Depression? Israeli lobbying groups like AIPAC, Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) have large budgets, hundreds of staff and full and immediate access to Congressional offices. They even write the legislation that is then rubber stamped by the House and Senate, and although they are clearly agents of Israel, they are never required to register as such under Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

One can always contact a Congress-critter and complain but that is generally speaking a waste of time. A brave man and friend of mine who was a survivor of the brutal Israeli attack on the U.S.S. Liberty in 1967 did write to his Senator and ask why, when the nation is in crisis, Congress is spending so much time and money on Israel. This was the reply he got from Senator Rick Scott of Florida:

“Thank you for contacting me regarding our greatest ally, Israel. Florida has maintained a strong relationship with Israel for many generations and I have always worked to improve policies and investments between our two countries.

During my time as Governor of Florida, I visited Israel three times. My first two visits were to promote Florida and to build international trade relationships between Israel and Florida. My third visit was for the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, for which I strongly advocated.

I also signed anti-BDS legislation, secured $2 million for security at our Jewish schools, and I opposed the reckless Iran Deal.

As your United States Senator, I will continue to work every day to protect and support our greatest ally and fight to take actions against those who wish to do them harm.

Again, thank you for your insightful correspondence. I am proud to represent every citizen in Florida and I appreciate the time you took to provide your position on this matter. Should you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me.”

Clearly Senator Scott claims to be proud of representing “every citizen” in Florida, but he regards some citizens as more important than others. Concerning his trade missions, one might be interested in knowing what the balance of trade and job creation between Israel and Florida actually is, as these arrangements are generally heavily loaded to favor Israeli businesses and investors. Also, the good Senator might recall that it was a Florida public school that recently was on the receiving end of a mass shooting, so perhaps the money he so proudly gave to Jewish schools for security was not exactly well spent. And Scott seems to be unaware that Jewish organizations already get over 90% of Department of Homeland Security discretionary grants, so they hardly need more taxpayer money.

Acting on behalf of a foreign country, Senator Scott also is willing to shut down the First Amendment for most Americans in his zeal to crush the non-violent BDS movement. And his rejection of the “Iran Deal” demonstrates that he does not support policies that actually enhance the security of the United States, presumably out of deference to the interests of Israel and at least some of his Jewish constituents.

Finally, Senator Scott should perhaps look into the treaties that Washington has entered into with foreign powers. There is no defense treaty with Israel and the Jewish state is no ally, much less a “greatest ally.” It is, in fact, a major strategic liability, involving Americans in regional wars that need not be fought and demonstrating to all the world the risible reality of a military and economic superpower that is being led to perdition during a time of crisis by a ruthless and irresponsible client state.

ICC Probe of US War Crimes in Afghanistan. Trump Lashes Back. ICC is “Threat” to America.

By Stephen Lendman

Source

It is fairly well established that Afghanistan, the Taliban, and Osama bin Laden had nothing to do with 9/11 — the mother of all state-sponsored false flags, a pretext for the US to smash one nation after another.

US new millennium forever wars rage against invented enemies with no prospect for resolution because Republicans and Dems reject world peace and the rule of law.

It’s unclear what will come out of the International Criminal Court’s probe of indisputable US war crimes in Afghanistan.

Since established by the Rome Statute in 2002, the ICC never held the US, other Western nations, or Israel accountable for high crimes of war and against humanity.

Only their victims were prosecuted, falsely blamed for the highest of high crimes committed against them by the US, NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners.

For nearly two decades, the ICC operated solely as imperial tool — continuing the same agenda today unless chooses an unprecedented new course for justice.

Though mandated to prosecute individuals (not nations) for crimes of war, against humanity, genocide and aggression, the court never targeted the main offenders of these crimes.

Given its disturbing history, it requires a giant leap of faith to believe it will go where it never went before.

It’s got a lot of proving to do to convince skeptics of its intention to go another way.

In early March, ICC judges authorized an investigation into accusations of war crimes by US military and intelligence personnel, Afghan forces, and the Taliban in the country.

According to Judge Piotr Hofmanski, chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda “is authorized to commence investigation in relation to alleged crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan in the period since 1 May 2003.”

The probe may also include the period since July 1, 2002. Why not from day one of US aggression (10/7/01) wasn’t explained.

US war on the country was planned six months or longer before 9/11.

On the shelf ready to go, it was launched less than 5 weeks after that fateful day.

Many months of planning precede all US wars, nothing impromptu about them.

At the time of the ICC’s March announcement, Pompeo called it “breathtaking (and) reckless,” threatening reprisals against court officials if they investigate US actions in Afghanistan or anywhere else.

Bensouda said the ICC determined that a reasonable basis exists to probe war crimes by US military forces and intelligence operatives in Afghanistan.

She should have said just cause exists to investigate all US wars of aggression against nations threatening no one — including US state terror, illegal sanctions, and other hostile actions against peace, constituting war by other means.

All of the above falls within the ICC’s mandate.

US new millennium direct, proxy, and other types of warmaking alone have been responsible for countless millions of lost lives, vast destruction, and human misery in numerous countries.

They also inflicted enormous harm on ordinary Americans by using US discretionary income to feed the nation’s military, industrial, security complex at the expense of vital homeland needs gone begging.

WikiLeaks’ Afghan war diaries documented the highest of US high crimes against the nation and its people.

They represent the most comprehensive documentation of US aggression against a nation threatening no one since the Pentagon Papers.

Data came mainly from soldiers and intelligence officers, also from US embassies and other sources.

They revealed US criminality in Afghanistan, including coverups, collusion, distortion, and duplicity.

All wars are based on misinformation, disinformation, Big Lies and deception. Truth-telling would destroy pretexts for waging them.

The UN Charter explicitly states under what circumstances war by one nation against another is permitted.

Articles 2(3) and 33(1) require peaceful settlement of international disputes.

Article 2(4) prohibits force or its threatened use.

Article 51 allows the “right of self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member…until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security.”

Justifiable self-defense is permitted, never preemptive wars for any reasons with no exceptions.

The Security Council alone is authorized to decide under what circumstances warmaking is permitted — not heads of state, legislators, or the courts anywhere.

In 1974, the UN General Assembly defined aggression to mean “the use of armed force by a State against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or in any manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations.”

Throughout the post-WW II period, the US has been indisputably guilty time and again — today in multiple theaters.

What’s going on unaccountably is what chief Nuremberg Tribunal’s Justice Robert Jackson called “the supreme international crime against peace.”

Time and again, the US breached the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the US War Crimes Act, the UN Torture Convention, the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Genocide Convention, the Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles, US Army Field Manual 27-10, and other US and international laws.

If all of the above doesn’t demand accountability in an international tribunal, what does!

WikiLeaks lifted the fog of war by documenting US atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning were arrested, imprisoned, and brutalized for releasing the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, collateral murder video, and related US diplomatic cables.

They both should have been honored instead of demonized, imprisoned, and brutally mistreated — for the “crime” of truth-telling about what everyone has a right to know.

In response to the ICC’s announced intention to probe US war crimes in Afghanistan, Trump declared a national emergency for what he called a “threat” to the US by the ICC.

He issued an executive order, authorizing (illegal) sanctions and visa restrictions against ICC officials and their family members.

Pompeo lashed out at the court, saying the Trump regime is “determined to prevent having Americans and our friends and allies in Israel and elsewhere hauled in” for ICC prosecution.”

In response to Trump regime actions, a statement by the Court said the following:

“(T)hreats and coercive actions cannot be allowed to hinder the rule of law.”

“These attacks (by the Trump regime) constitute an escalation and an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law and the Court’s judicial proceedings.”

“An attack on the ICC also represents an attack against the interests of victims of atrocity crimes, for many of whom the Court represents the last hope for justice.”

In 2002, the American Service Members’ Protection Act (ASPA, aka Hague Invasion Act) was enacted to prevent US “military personnel and other (US) elected and appointed officials (from) criminal prosecution by an international court to which the United States is not party.”

The measure authorizes the president to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court.”

The US is not a state party to the Rome Statute or ICC.

The principle of universal jurisdiction principle (UJ) holds that certain crimes are too grave to ignore, including genocide, crimes of war and against humanity.

Under UJ, nations may investigate and prosecute foreign nationals when their country of residence or origin won’t, can’t, or hasn’t for any reason.

US Nuremberg-level high crimes of war and against humanity in Afghanistan and numerous other countries are far too grave to ignore.

It’s long past time for unaccountability of its officials to end.

Holding them responsible may be the best chance to pursue world peace and stability over permanent US wars on humanity that one day may kill us all if not stopped.

Trump Administration Coordinated ICC Sanctions With ‘Israel’

Trump Administration Coordinated ICC Sanctions With ‘Israel’

By Staff, Agencies

The Trump administration and the Zionist entity coordinated the US authorization of sanctions against the International Criminal Court announced Thursday during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s short visit to occupied al-Quds last month, according to Barak Ravid of ‘Israeli’ Channel 13 news citing ‘Israeli’ officials.

Ravid stressed that this was because the prosecutor of the ICC had decided to open an investigation against ‘Israel’ for war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza pending a review by the court’s judges.

The judges will make a decision soon, and ‘Israel’ is seeking to use US sanctions to pressure them into shutting down the investigation, he added.

Citing figures from behind the scenes, the ‘Israeli’ journalist quoted ‘Israeli’ officials as saying that the plan to sanction the ICC was one of the main reasons for Pompeo’s trip to ‘Israel’. The discussion was kept to low profile by both sides and wasn’t mentioned during the many briefings before and after the visit.

‘Israeli’ officials said Netanyahu brought to the meeting Yuval Steinitz, the minister who led the ‘Israeli’ team that has worked on countering the ICC investigation.

And during the meeting, Netanyahu and Steinitz urged Pompeo to move forward with sanctions against ICC officials.

Relatively, in the weeks since the visit, Washington and Tel Aviv had continued their coordination on the issue. ‘Israel’ was notified in advance of the content and timing of the US sanctions, Ravid stressed.

PCHR Welcomes the Response of the Prosecution of the International Criminal Court to the Observations of Amici Curiae, Legal Representatives of Victims, and States.

 Posted by PCHR

Ref:42/2020

On 30 April 2020, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) submitted a 60-page document to the Pre-Trial Chamber I responding to the observations of amici curiae, legal representatives of victims, and States concerning the situation in the State of Palestine. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) welcomes the Prosecutor’s re-affirmation of her position that there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation into the situation in Palestine and that the Court has territorial jurisdiction over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. PCHR reiterates it support for the work of the Prosecutor as it moves towards opening an investigation, pending a ruling from the Pre-Trial Chamber I on the Court’s territorial jurisdiction, and contends that it is important that such steps are taken soon with the aim of realizing Court’s goal, which is bringing perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity to justice.

PCHR along with other Palestinian human rights organizations have engaged extensively with the ICC, and in particular the Office of the Prosecutor, in bringing about an investigation.  To date the Palestinian organisations have submitted seven substantial communications along with thousands of files of photographic and other evidence recorded through Eyewitness. The latest was a review paper submitted on 29 April 2020 entitled” Response to Arguments Raised in Amici Curiae Submissions in the Situation in the State of Palestine Before the International Criminal Court” to provide additional guidance on the territorial jurisdiction of the Court and move the situation in Palestine towards a criminal investigations.

The recent worrying development indicate that the Court must move as quickly as possible to put an end for Israel’s lack of accountability. On 6 April 2020, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Chairman of Kahol Lavan party, Benny Gantz, published a joint statement concerning the formation of an emergency coalition government, promising potential annexation of substantial parts of the West Bank, which Israel will use to facilitate the theft of Palestinian land. As the ICC constitutes the last hope for accountability for Palestinian victims, it is crucial that it takes steps to put an end to Israel’s impunity.

PCHR is well aware that the ICC Prosecutor is working under extreme pressure due to recent attacks and threats by the United States and Israel, and praises the Court for taking a position that reflects the view of Palestinian human rights organizations, and the victims they represent, despite the difficult circumstances they operate under. Therefore, PCHR calls on the international community, including the State Parties to the Rome Statute, to support the Prosecutor’s efforts in pursuing justice and accountability for Palestinian victims. In particular, PCHR calls upon states who presented amici curiae arguing against the Court’s territorial jurisdiction to adopt the arguments and analysis presented in the Prosecutor’s submission.

#Endcovidsanctions: ‘80 Hours for 80 Million Campaign’ Pressing US to Ditch Iran Sanctions amid Outbreak

#Endcovidsanctions: ‘80 Hours for 80 Million Campaign’ Pressing US to Ditch Iran Sanctions amid Outbreak

By Staff, Agencies

Amid a worldwide outcry against the United States’ illegal and unilateral sanctions imposed on Iran, a popular campaign has been launched to pressure Washington into temporarily lifting the sanctions that are obstructing the Iranian people’s efforts to curtail the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The ‘80 hours for 80 million campaign’ has been launched on the New/Mode advocacy platform to promote this cause.

The participants are required to enter their phone numbers on the campaign’s webpage which will then put them through to the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control so they can demand that OFAC enable the temporary sanctions relief.

“We’re making 80 hours of calls to OFAC on behalf of 80 million people,” reads the campaign’s manifesto.

The US reinstated its sanctions against Iran in May 2018 after leaving a United Nations-endorsed nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic and five other countries.

Tehran sued Washington at the International Court of Justice afterwards. The tribunal ruled that the US should lift its sanctions on humanitarian supplies.

Washington, however, claims that it has exempted foodstuffs and medicine from the bans, something that Tehran entirely disputes.

Iran has written to the United Nations and all international organizations, urging the removal of the vehicles of “economic terrorism” that have come in the way of its fight against the outbreak.

The organizers of the popular campaign have warned about the consequences that the Iranian nation has come to face as a result of the “deadly sanctions” amid its battle against the new virus that has already claimed the lives of more than 1,900 Iranians.

“Researchers predict that if sanctions aren’t lifted, at least 3.5 million Iranian lives will be lost to COVID-19,” the campaign statement reads, using the name given to the new coronavirus.

“Iranians can’t buy or make necessary supplies — such as paper for masks — if the US doesn’t lift sanctions,” says the manifesto, and cautions, “That’s 80 million. 80 million Iranians facing tragic consequences if US sanctions aren’t lifted.”

The organizers have also pointed out that the US slapped even more sanctions on Iran right after the viral outbreak as part of its “maximum pressure” policy against the Iranian nation.

The move, they note, came while China and the United Kingdom were calling for Washington to ease up the economic measures amid the global crisis.

“Join us in fighting to #EndCOVIDSanctions and give Iranians what experts say is critical to stopping COVID-19: 120 days of sanctions relief or face catastrophic loss of life,” the statement says.

Pompeo Warns ICC Against Investigating US/Israeli War Crimes

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Since established by the Rome Statute in 2002, the International Criminal Court never held the US, other Western nations, or Israel accountable for high crimes of war and against humanity.

Only their victims were prosecuted, falsely blamed for the highest of high crimes committed against them by the US, NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners.

For nearly two decades, the ICC operated solely as imperial tool — continuing the same agenda today unless it goes another way for justice never pursued before.

It’s hard taking seriously chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s announced probes into whether Israel and the US committed war crimes in Occupied Palestine and Afghanistan respectively.

The former probe was announced in December, the latter one in early March — whitewash twice over their likely outcomes if conducted.

Republicans and undemocratic Dems militantly oppose revealing anything that exposes high crimes committed by the state and those of its imperial allies, notably Israel.

Last December, Pompeo slammed the ICC, saying:

“We firmly oppose…any…action that seeks to target Israel unfairly (sic),” adding:

“We do not believe the Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state (sic), and they therefore are not qualified to obtain full membership, or participate as a state in international organizations, entities, or conferences, including the ICC (sic).”

Despite a rap sheet of nearly 75 years of high crimes of war, against humanity, and other abuses of international law, Israel was never held accountable — what’s long overdue.

The State of Palestine exists as a PLO-represented UN observer state.

More importantly, the PLO  adopted the Palestinian Declaration of Independence on November 15, 1988 — drafted by Law Professor Francis Boyle, its legal advisor at the time.

He explained that Palestinian statehood is “determinative, definitive, and irreversible,” adding:

Palestine satisfies all essential criteria for sovereign independence and full de jure UN membership. 

The Palestine National Council (PNC) as the PLO’s legislative body is empowered to proclaim the existence of Palestine. 

Bensouda said she’s “satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine,” adding:

“There is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes were committed in the context of the 2014 hostilities in Gaza” by Israeli forces, evidence indicating they engaged in disproportionate attacks, “willful killing and willfully causing serious injury to body or health…and intentionally directing an attack against objects or persons using the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions.”

In response to a proposed ICC investigation of US war crimes in Afghanistan, Pompeo said the Trump regime “will not tolerate…attempts to investigate or prosecute Americans,” adding:

“I’m announcing a policy of US visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of US personnel.”

“If you’re responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of US personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan you should not assume that you still have, or will get, a visa or that you will permitted to enter the United States.”

“We’re prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its course.”

Perhaps the Trump regime will invade or terror-bomb the court and/or assassinate its prosecutors if they dare investigate and pronounce the US or Israel guilty of high crimes the world community knows both countries committed time and again.

In response to Pompeo’s March remarks, an ICC statement said the court “will continue to do its independent work, undeterred, in accordance with its mandate and the overarching principle of the rule of law” — what it never did before so the claim is dubious at best.

In response to Israeli AG Mendelblit’s objection to an ICC investigation of Netanyahu regime war crimes, falsely claiming it has no jurisdiction over Israeli actions, B’Tselem responded as follows:

Mendelblit falsely claimed that there’s no Palestinian state or occupation.

He “conveniently ignor(ed) the facts on the ground, the principles of international law, and the declared positions of the international community,” adding: 

“He glosse(d) over more than 52 years in which Israel has kept the West Bank and Gaza Strip under a cruel, violent occupation regime, transforming the area completely.” 

“Palestinian space is now fragmented into isolated units in which Palestinians live without political rights or any real control over their lives – which are run by various Israeli authorities.”

He also turned reality on its head, claiming Israel and Palestinians negotiate in good faith — what never occurred since Israel’s 1947-48 war of aggression, stealing 78% of historic Palestine.

In June 1967, it took the rest extrajudicially — thereafter seizing Palestinian-owned land dunum by dunum, the process continuing until there’s nothing left but isolated/worthless scrubland, surrounded by Israeli security forces and hostile settlers.

B’Tselem: Israeli regime officials admitted that they do not “view the occupation as temporary and intend to cement control over the Palestinians while dispossessing them of land and rights” — what’s been ongoing since 1947.

Palestinians joined the ICC in 2015. They’re entitled to petition the court to investigate Israeli high crimes too egregious to ignore.

B’Tselem: Throughout Jewish state history, its regimes “enjoyed total immunity regarding its actions in the Occupied Territories.” 

“Domestically, not a single person has paid a significant price for these actions thanks to the almost blanket criminal and civil immunity Israel accords itself.” 

“Internationally, (virtually nothing) has been done to compel Israel to change its policies,” nothing to hold its war criminals accountable for Nuremberg-level high crimes. 

“Instead, (the Jewish state) enjoys generous financial benefits and international legitimacy. Israel is now railing against the prospect of actually being held accountable for some of its crimes.”

B’Tselem’s executive director Hagai El-Ad said the following:

“Israel’s attempt to clutch at formalistic straws to evade the ICC’s jurisdiction is shameful.” 

“Since Palestine joined the Rome Statute, it has the right to demand an investigation into the situation there.” 

“Palestine…is under Israeli occupation, whose crimes the ICC has the jurisdiction – and responsibility – to investigate.” 

“We hope the Court will make the right decision, sustain the (chief) prosecutor’s position, and decide: indeed it has jurisdiction – and there will be an investigation.”

If Bensouda is serious about investigating and holding Israel and the US accountable for their high crimes of war and against humanity, she should pursue her mandate in both cases expeditiously without restraint.

It never happened before and most likely won’t seek accountability and justice ahead  against the US and Israel — no matter how grievous their indisputable high crimes.

Dubious Postponement of Netanyahu’s Trial

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, March 16, 2020

Hopefully delay isn’t an escape hatch for Netanyahu to avoid long overdue justice.

Notably, charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust he faces don’t remotely rise to the level of his crimes of war, against humanity, and slow motion genocide committed against the Palestinian people.

These high crimes are what’s most important to hold him accountable for in an international tribunal — followed by conviction on all counts and longterm imprisonment.

On Sunday, his trial scheduled to begin March 17 was postponed until May 24 on the same day his regime’s justice minister Amir Ohana, a Likudnik Netanyahu loyalist, invoked emergency measures to combat COVID-19 — both issues unrelated to each other.

In response, the Jerusalem District Court announced the following:

“In light of developments regarding the spread of the coronavirus, and taking into account the latest guidelines given and the declaration of a state of emergency in the courts, we have decided to cancel the scheduled hearing.”

Ohana declared a “state of emergency (to halt judicial proceedings except for largely undefined urgent ones) as part of the national effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

Until proceedings were ordered largely halted for public health reasons, this action was only taken before for security reasons. Ohana changed the rules.

Following his announcement, the Movement for Quality of Government in Israel urged AG Mendelblit to stay the ruling, saying:

“This is a temporary minister in a temporary government that has never received the public’s trust.”

Ohana’s ruling came days after the Jerusalem District Court rejected a request by Netanyahu’s defense team to delay his trial for 45 days on dubious grounds of more time needed to receive and review all investigative materials related to the case.

Ohana’s declaration means most, not all, judicial hearings are on hold. Some can go on at the discretion of courts, including issues “relating to the special emergency.”

Halting proceedings on Netanyahu’s case followed a recommendation by his health ministry that “there is a real fear of serious harm to public health” — a dubious judgment unrelated to continuing court business normally.

Coronavirus Outbreak, a Global Public Health Emergency?

On Sunday, Netanyahu’s health ministry said 200 Israelis tested positive for COVID-19, a minute percent of its population, showing no just cause for declaring a state of emergency.

Only two Israelis ill from the coronavirus are in serious condition, 11 in moderate condition, others with mild symptoms, according to the health ministry.

Around 40,000 Israelis are quarantined at home, including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.

Tests for COVID-19 have been conducted on over 6,800 Israelis as of Sunday. The US with around 37-fold Israel’s population only tested about 11,000 people so far nationwide.

South Korea with around one-sixth the US population tests around 20,000 daily.

China through late February tested around 320,000 people, South Korea through March 13 nearly 250,000 people, Italy to date 86,000, Russia 77,000, Britain 30,000.

China’s Global Times cited the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, saying it provides 341,600 nucleic acid reagent test kits daily, enough to accommodate everyone in the country needing one with plenty available for export.

China’s BGI Group exported COVID-19 detection kits for testing around 310,000 people in 26 countries, including in Asia and Europe.

They’re available for export to the US in large numbers if permitted by the Trump regime — not so far.

He and his Health and Human Services Department (HHS) announced that tests will only be offered by his regime to individuals showing COVID-19 symptoms — instead of getting ahead of the curve to detect early and treat as needed, what’s vital in dealing with a highly contagious disease easily spread from person to person.

It’s unclear how many ill Americans were misdiagnosed with seasonal flu and treated accordingly.

While it’s highly unlikely that contagion in the US is anywhere near epidemic levels, in dealing with infectious diseases, widespread testing is important because it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Through mid-March, around 156,000 COVID-19 cases were reported worldwide, around 5,800 deaths from the disease — these numbers nowhere near suggesting a global pandemic.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 2,839,205 US deaths in 2019, including from the following diseases:

  • Heart disease: 647,457
  • Cancer: 599,108
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
  • Diabetes: 83,564
  • Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633

Annual deaths from these diseases worldwide are at or near epidemic levels with no fear-mongering headlines blasted daily about them.

A few thousand COVID-19 infections in the US and a reported 59 deaths through Friday do not an epidemic make.

Around 40,000 Americans die in car crashes annually, around 36,000 from gun violence.

In 2019, there were 169,936 deaths by accidents and unintentional injuries, according to the CDC. There were 47,173 reported suicides.

All of the above numbers are far greater causes for concern in the US than COVID-19 — so far.

It doesn’t mean that the virus can be taken lightly or can’t rise to a much higher worrisome level.

It does mean that it hasn’t hasn’t so far and with proper steps taken at the federal, state and local levels, it should be controllable like other infectious diseases are handled.

*

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.The original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2020

INTERNATIONAL COURT APPROVES PROBE OF US WAR CRIMES IN AFGHANISTAN

INTERNATIONAL COURT APPROVES PROBE OF US WAR CRIMES IN AFGHANISTAN

An appellate panel of the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled Thursday that an investigation leading to the potential prosecution of US officials for war crimes during Washington’s nearly two-decade-old war in Afghanistan can move forward.

Fatou Bensouda, the court’s Gambian-born chief prosecutor, whose US visa was revoked for her pursuit of the probe, praised Thursday’s ruling, stating, “Today is an important day for the cause of justice in Afghanistan.”

The ruling overturned a decision by ICC pretrial judges last year that a case involving crimes by the US and its puppet regime in Afghanistan “would not serve the interests of justice” because of the abject refusal of Washington and Kabul to cooperate. This decision was taken in the context of US threats of retaliation against the court, including economic sanctions and even the arrest of its members if the investigation was allowed to move forward.

The appeals judges ruled that last year’s decision was in contradiction to the ICC’s own statutes, holding that “It is for the prosecutor to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation.” The appeals judges said that the pretrial panel had no business deciding whether the case served the “interests of justice,” but only whether there were grounds to believe that crimes had been committed and that they fell under the court’s jurisdiction.

The investigation is one of the first to be launched against a major imperialist power by the ICC, whose prosecutions have largely been limited to crimes committed by regimes and leaders in impoverished African countries. A preliminary investigation has also been launched into war crimes carried out by British forces in the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq. Unlike the US, the UK is a signatory to the agreement establishing the international court.

The ICC’s prosecutors first opened a preliminary probe into crimes against humanity and war crimes in Afghanistan nearly 14 years ago.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to Thursday’s ruling with the bellicose threats that have been the trademark of Washington toward the ICC since its founding by a decision of the United Nations in 2002. Describing the investigation as a “political vendetta” by an “unaccountable political institution masquerading as a legal body,” the secretary of state vowed that Washington would “take all necessary measures to protect our citizens from this renegade, unlawful so-called court.”

He characterized the ICC appeals judges’ ruling as “reckless” because it was issued after Washington had signed a so-called “peace deal” with the Taliban five days earlier. That agreement has already begun to unravel, with the US military carrying out air strikes against the Taliban after the Islamist movement launched multiple attacks on forces of Afghanistan’s US-backed puppet regime. The unstated assumption in Pompeo’s remarks is that “peace” in Afghanistan can be achieved only based on a cover-up of Washington’s crimes.

Asked whether the Trump administration would retaliate against the court, the secretary of state said that measures would be announced within “a couple of weeks about the path that we’re going to take to ensure that we protect American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, our intelligence warriors, the diplomats that have worked for the State Department over the years to ensure that the ICC doesn’t impose… pressure on them in a way that doesn’t reflect the noble nature of the undertakings of every one of those Americans.”

The concern in Washington is not for the troops, but rather that the real authors of the crimes in Afghanistan will someday be held to account: the presidents and their cabinets along with the top generals, the leading politicians of both major parties, the big business interests that supported the war and the media pundits who promoted it.

Pompeo went on to insist, “We have a solid system here in the United States. When there’s wrongdoing by an American, we have a process by which that is redressed.” The character of this “solid system” was made clear last year with Trump’s pardon of convicted war criminals, including two US Army officers convicted and jailed for illegal killings in Afghanistan.

The ICC prosecutor Bensouda requested the investigation of war crimes in 2017, saying there was evidence that US military and intelligence agencies had “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence” against detainees in Afghanistan.

In its ruling Thursday, the ICC Appeals Chamber declared it “appropriate to amend the appealed decision to the effect that the prosecutor is authorized to commence an investigation into alleged crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan since May 1, 2003, as well as other alleged crimes that have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan.”

The prosecutor has already indicated that this extension of the investigation involves the “nexus” between the torture centers set up at Bagram Air Base and other US installations in Afghanistan to so-called “black sites” run by the CIA in countries like Poland, Lithuania and Romania. It could as well link to the infamous Abu Ghraib detention and torture facility in Iraq, where US military interrogators were sent after torturing prisoners in Afghanistan. It could also potentially encompass the drone assassinations and massacres of thousands carried out by successive US administrations in neighboring Pakistan.

The war crimes carried out by US imperialism since it invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 are innumerable. They began at the outset with massacres of unarmed detainees, including hundreds, if not thousands, of prisoners of war who were asphyxiated and shot to death in sealed metal shipping containers after the siege of Kunduz.

Among the most infamous crimes were those exposed in an investigation into a so-called “Kill Team” formed by a unit of the US Army’s 5th Stryker Brigade sent into Kandahar Province as part of the Obama administration’s 2009–2010 “surge,” which brought the number of troops in Afghanistan to roughly 100,000. As members of the team themselves acknowledged—and documented in grisly photographs—they set out to systematically murder civilians and mutilate their bodies, taking fingers and pieces of skulls as trophies.

They lured one of their victims, a 15-year-old boy named Gul Mudin, toward them before throwing a grenade at him and repeatedly shooting him at close range. After bringing his father to identify the body, they took turns posing and playing with the corpse, before cutting off one of the boy’s fingers. Members of the team also described throwing candy from their Stryker armored vehicle while driving through villages and then shooting children who ran to pick it up.

While the Pentagon sought to pass off these atrocities as the work of a few “bad apples,” the killings were known to their commanders and other units that participated in similar acts. They were the product of a criminal colonial occupation in which troops were taught to regard the entire civilian population as potential enemies and less than human.

The number of Afghans killed in the conflict is estimated at over 175,000, with many more indirect victims of the war’s destruction. Nearly 2,400 US troops have been killed, along with tens of thousands more wounded. US crimes include indiscriminate air strikes that wiped out wedding parties, village meetings and hospital patients and staff.

Among the most extensive exposures of US war crimes were those contained in the so-called “Afghan War Diaries,” some 91,000 documents given by the courageous US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning to WikiLeaks in 2010. In retaliation, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is now imprisoned in the UK facing extradition to the US on Espionage Act charges that carry a 175-year prison sentence, or worse. For her part, Manning is being held in indefinite detention in a US federal detention center in Virginia for refusing to testify against Assange.

Washington’s virulent hostility to any international investigation into its crimes was clear as soon as the ICC was founded in 2002. The Bush administration repudiated it from the outset, and the US Congress followed suit through its passage by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of a law protecting all US personnel from “criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not a party.” The same year, Bush issued a memorandum declaring that the US would not be bound by the Geneva Conventions in its war in Afghanistan.

US officials have sardonically referred to the anti-ICC law passed by Congress as the “Hague Invasion Authorization Act,” as it provides for the use of military force to free any US citizens facing charges before the ICC, which sits in The Hague, Netherlands.

The US reaction to the ICC’s Afghanistan investigation is an explicit repudiation of international law and the abandonment of any pretense that Washington is guided by anything other than the predatory interests of US imperialism. On this, the Trump administration and its ostensible opponents in the Democratic Party are agreed. Their unconditional defense of the war crimes carried out in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere is a warning to the working class that far greater crimes are being prepared as US imperialism prepares for “great power” conflicts.


By Bill Van Auken
Source: World Socialist Web Site

NETANYAHU “OPTIMISTIC” ISRAEL CAN USE POLITICAL PRESSURE TO SHUT DOWN ICC WAR CRIMES PROBE

 

Since the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it would investigate war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank last December, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been attempting to rally Israel’s allies in a multilateral effort to stop the ICC’s probe.

Those efforts have now left Netanyahu “optimistic,” with the embattled Prime Minister reportedly telling members of his cabinet that Israel’s efforts to lobby other countries against the ICC case is paying off, according to a recent report published by Reuters. “We are struggling against this [proceeding] and, at our side, I must say, are many friends around the world [which] joined the U.S. in a steadfast stand alongside Israel,” Reuters quoted Netanyahu as saying.

Those other friendly countries aside from the United States include Brazil, Hungary, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Australia, all of which have applied to file legal opinions with the ICC over its decision to investigate Israeli war crimes in occupied Palestine as part of an effort to prevent the ICC probe from proceeding as planned.

These legal opinions are likely to echo claims already made by both the U.S. and Israel that the court has no jurisdiction over Gaza or the West Bank due to the absence of a sovereign Palestinian state, as Palestine is currently subjected to Israeli military law in the West Bank and a crippling blockade in the case of the Gaza Strip. Neither Israel nor the U.S. are ICC member states while Palestine became a member state in 2015.

This legal argument has been directly disputed by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is comprised of 57 Muslim-majority countries and has argued that Palestinians do have sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 

Another likely ally of Israel in opposing and sabotaging the ICC probe is the United Kingdom, as the recently-elected Conservative government has moved to strengthen the country’s ties to Israel even more by promoting anti-boycott laws targeting Palestinian rights activists, among other measures. One U.K. pro-Israel lobby group, the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), has close ties to the current U.K. government and has openly called for U.K. leadership to oppose the ICC investigation into Israel’s war crimes.

Weaponizing Antisemitism 

Netanyahu’s frenzied yet behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts to halt the ICC probe suggests that the probe greatly worries Israel at a time when Netanyahu has linked his reelection bid to the annexation of the vast majority of Palestine’s West Bank, an act that would be flagrantly illegal under international law. In fact, the move would be so illegal under international law that Israel’s Attorney General’s office warned Netanyahu that doing so would be “indefensible” in front of the ICC and would open up top Israeli officials to prosecution.

Since the probe was announced in December, Netanyahu has not only heavily lobbied allied countries to oppose the ICC’s efforts, but he has also used a stream of attacks against both the ICC and its chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, in an effort to discredit the probe by means of character assassination. 

For instance, Netanyahu claimed in late December that “new edicts are being cast against the Jewish people – anti-Semitic edicts by the International Criminal Court telling us that we, the Jews standing here next to this wall … in this city [Jerusalem], in this country, have no right to live here and that by doing so, we are committing a war crime (emphasis added).” 

However, what Netanyahu failed to note is that the ICC investigation is not related to Zionism or Israel’s “right to exist,” but instead its use of military force in Palestine in ways that violate international law as well as the growing presence of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, themselves illegal under international law. Fatou Bensouda responded to Netanyahu’s charges of anti-Semitism as “particularly regrettable” and “without merit” in a subsequent interview with The Times of Israel.

Netanyahu’s concern over the probe could also be found within the recent “Deal of the Century” that was created by the Trump administration in conjunction with Israel’s Netanyahu-led government, as that deal would require Palestinians to “dismiss all pending actions” before the ICC that are related to Israel. Surprisingly, that aspect of the so-called “peace deal” went largely unreported after the deal was revealed late last month.

The creation of the plan was largely overseen by President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who also boasts close personal ties to Netanyahu. Kushner told Palestinians to “take a cold shower” and accept the plan so they don’t “screw up,” he said, like with “every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.”


By Whitney Webb
Source: MintPress News

Sudan to Hand over Omar Al-Bashir for Genocide Trial

Sudan to Hand over Omar Al-Bashir for Genocide Trial

By Staff, Agencies

Sudan’s transitional authorities agreed to hand over ousted autocrat Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court to face trial on charges of war crimes and genocide, a top Sudanese official said Tuesday, in a deal with rebels to surrender all those wanted in connection with the Darfur conflict.

For a decade after his indictment, al-Bashir confounded the court based in The Hague, Netherlands. He not only was out of reach during his 30 years in power in Khartoum, but he also traveled abroad frequently to visit friendly leaders without fear of arrest.

Bashir even attended the 2018 World Cup in Russia, where he kicked a soccer ball playfully during an airport welcome ceremony and watched matches from luxury seating.

The military overthrew al-Bashir in April 2019 amid massive public protests of his rule, and he has been jailed in Khartoum since then. Military leaders initially ruled out surrendering him to The Hague, saying he would be tried at home.

But the joint military-civilian Sovereign Council that has ruled Sudan since last summer has agreed with rebel groups in Darfur to hand over those wanted by the ICC to face justice in The Hague, according to Mohammed Hassan al-Taishi, a member of the council and a government negotiator.

Related

Is It an Act of War to Designate Iran’s IRGC as a Terrorist Organization?

By Prof. Anthony Hall

Source

The Israel Lobby’s Relationship to Trudeau, Trump and NATO

Trudeau Trump and the Israel Lobby 84c03

The Israel Lobby in Canada is demanding that the government of Justin Trudeau follow the lead of Netanyahu and Trump, the notorious duo of anti-Iranian warmongers. Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, has been leading the drive to have Canadian law brought into conformity with US and Israeli prototypes of post-9/11 terrorist designations.

At a press conference on January 13 in Canada’s Parliament, the Canadian branch of the US and Israeli-based ADL, demanded that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) be designated as a terrorist organization. Canada has already designated the Quds division of the IRCG as a terrorist group. Iranian General Qassem Suleimani was the leader of the Quds force until he was assassinated on January 2 of this year.

Mr. Mostryn presented the Canadian government with something of an ultimatum with the following comment. “We are asking for the IRGC to be designated as a terrorist group in Canada within the next 30 days. No further delays will be accepted by Canadians on this important public safety issue.”

There is a large body of evidence that demonstrates that Mr. Mostyn does not speak for all Jews in Canada or even for most of them. Certainly, this well paid functionary of the Israel Lobby does not speak for all Canadians when it comes to the issue of Canada’s relations with Iran. After the assassination of General Suleimani, Canadians have added cause to be skeptical about adopting the extravagant language and principles of the Israel Lobby as elevated to pre-eminence following 9/11.

After January 2, Canadian citizens and members of the global community generally are coming to understand better the lethal booby traps attached to pinning the status of “terrorist” on individuals and organizations without any due process whatsoever. The post-9/11 adoption of the principles of pre-emptive warfare promotes the ethos of shoot to kill first, worry later (if at all) about proof, justification and adherence to the older principles of international law. This ethos of kill first, deal with proof later, has essentially eliminated the legal principle that people, whether they be princes or paupers, are innocent until proven guilty.

The Displacement of Well-Founded Principles of International Law with the Pseudo-Laws of the Global War on Terror

The kind of agenda that Mr. Mostyn wants to import into Canada from Israel and the United States undermines the integrity and enforceability of international law. The United Nations and the International Criminal Court at the Hague are basically sidelined as credible organizations. The result is that officials effectively lack the capacity to command accountability from war criminals at the highest level.

The still-misrepresented events of 9/11 ushered in many transformations dramatically for the worse in the global community. These transformations include the negation of much of the juridical inheritance emanating from centuries of evolutionary progress in the community of nations. For the time being this juridical inheritance has been pretty much swept into the garbage bin leaving the world a much more dangerous place. Atrocities like the Israeli treatment of indigenous Palestinians or the extrajudicial Baghdad drone strikes of 2 January 2020 epitomize the subordination of the rule of law to the law of the jungle.

Senator Linda Frum

@LindaFrum

Favourite Senate Legal Committee witness ever. Will post ⁦shortly @davidfrum⁩ warnings against the inadequacies of Bill C76 to protect Canadian elections from foreign interference

View image on Twitter

Setting Up NATO Soldiers and Iranian Soldiers to Kill Each Other to Advance

Israel’s Expansionary Ambitions

The decades-old Israeli push to pressure the United States and its “allies” into war with Iran was renewed in April of 2019. As reported in The Times of Israel, just days before an Israeli general election, Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Donald Trump for increasing his chances of being re-elected. Netanyahu’s thank you was for Trump’s political decision to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization. In a Hebrew language tweet Netanyahu thanked Trump for “acceding to another one of my important requests.”

As Tamar Pileggi reported in The Times of Israel

Trump said his administration’s “unprecedented” designation “recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”…. Since taking office, Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal, slashed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians, and recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

There is cause to be suspicious about the deadline announced for the Trudeau government’s ratification of the B’nai Brith Canada’s demand. To designate the whole armed forces of a foreign country as a “terrorist organization” is basically to declare war on the host country of that military organization. How is it in Canada’s interests or in the interests of the United States for that matter to give way to Israeli pressure pushing North America into a war with Iran?

The issue of time comes up because of recent announcements from the White House that Trump and Pompeo want to see NATO troops, including those of Canada, take over from US troops in Iraq. Trump needs this concession from NATO countries to meet an election promise. He has to have some symbolic bringing of US soldiers home from the Middle East prior to the US presidential election later this year.

Is it the goal of the Israel Lobby to push Canada and other NATO countries into a war posture with Iran after Trump bragged about assassinating “the number one terrorist anywhere in the world.” At the bidding of Trump, the NATO countries are pushed to enter a Middle East after it has been transformed by the criminal drone strike on the Iranian people’s most popular and beloved war hero?

Indeed, the admiration of General Suleimani, a real foe, not a pretend foe, of the Daesh proxy army is not limited to Iran, to the Muslim world or the Middle East. I can think of no military figure in the Western world that commands anything like the degree of respectful recognition that General Suleimani earned even from some that consider themselves enemies of the polities that the Quds force fought to help.

Is the issuing of the 30-day time limit by B’nai Brith Canada based on insider knowledge? Does the Israel Lobby in Canada know that there will soon be an influx of Canadian soldiers to replace US soldiers in Iraq? After the events of January 2, these US soldiers in Iraq and throughout the Middle East have had targets painted on their back by the war mongering of their Israeli-puppet Commander In Chief in the White House.

Is the rush to get the Canadian government to accept the terrorist designation part of a plan to encourage young NATO soldiers to kill young Iranian soldiers if they encounter one another in Iraq? Are we witnessing a plan to assemble NATO fighting forces in Iraq with the view that they would then be in a more strategic position to invade neighboring Iran?

The «Immoral» Killing of the Iranian General

Source

By Benjamin B. Ferencz, NYT

This is a letter sent by a former Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor, Benjamin B. Ferencz, who says the American public deserves to know the truth.

To the Editor:

Now in my hundredth year, I cannot remain silent. I entered the United States in January 1921 as a poor immigrant boy, and I have felt obliged to repay the United States for the opportunities given to me.

I was an American combat soldier in World War II, and was proud to serve my country as the chief prosecutor in a war crimes trial at Nuremberg against Nazi leaders who murdered millions of innocent men, women and children.

The administration recently announced that, on orders of the president, the United States had “taken out” (which really means “murdered”) an important military leader of a country with which we were not at war. As a Harvard Law School graduate who has written extensively on the subject, I view such immoral action as a clear violation of national and international law.

The public is entitled to know the truth. The United Nations Charter, the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice in The Hague are all being bypassed. In this cyberspace world, young people everywhere are in mortal danger unless we change the hearts and minds of those who seem to prefer war to law.

Benjamin B. Ferencz

Delray Beach, Fla.

ICC to Probe War Crimes in Palestinian Territories

Source

December 20, 2019

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said Friday she wanted to open a full investigation into war crimes in the Palestinian territories, sparking a furious reaction from the Zionist entity and welcome by Palestine.

“I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine,” ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.

“In brief, I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip,” she added, without specifying the perpetrators of the alleged crimes.

She said that before opening a full probe, she would ask the ICC to rule on the territory over which it has jurisdiction because of the “unique and highly contested legal and factual issues attaching to this situation.”

“Specifically, I have sought confirmation that the ‘territory’ over which the Court may exercise its jurisdiction, and which I may subject to investigation, comprises the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.”

She urged judges to rule on the court’s jurisdiction “without undue delay”.

The prosecutor added however that she did not require any authorization from judges to open a probe as there had been a referral from Palestine, who joined the court in 2015.

US Support, Palestinian and Israeli Reactions

The issue is highly sensitive, with then White House national security adviser John Bolton threatening last year to arrest ICC judges if they moved against Israel or the United States.

Tel Aviv and Washington have both refused to sign up to the court, which was set up in 2002 to be the only global tribunal trying the world’s worst crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Bensouda launched a preliminary probe in January 2015 into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Zionist entity and the Palestinian territories, in the wake of the 2014 Gaza war.

A full ICC investigation could possibly lead to charges against individuals being brought. States cannot be charged by the ICC.

“Palestine welcomes this step as a long overdue step to move the process forward towards an investigation, after nearly five long and difficult years of preliminary examination,” the Palestinian statement said.

Israeli Prime Minister Banjamin Netanyahu, however, lashed out at what he called a “dark day for truth and justice”.

“The ICC prosecutor’s decision has turned the International Criminal Court into a political tool to delegitimize the State of Israel,” he said.

The ICC’s preliminary investigation has looked at the 2014 war which left 2,251 dead on the Palestinian side, the majority civilians, and 74 on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.

Source: Agencies

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