65 Organizations Call on New UN Human Rights Chief to Prioritize Palestine

October 19, 2022

Volker Türk is the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. (Photo: Jean Marc Ferré, via UNHCR Website)

Dozens of Palestinian and international organizations have called on the new UN human rights chief to prioritize the human rights situation in Palestine.

In a letter on Monday, the organizations welcomed new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, who officially began his new role that day.

Among the 65 signatories were the Palestinian prisoners’ rights group Addameer and legal NGO Al-Haq, in addition to Jewish Voice for Peace and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK.

“The Palestinian people [have been] denied their right to self-determination, they have been enduring over seven decades of Israel’s settler-colonialism and apartheid, and 55 years of belligerent occupation,” the organizations wrote.

“Gaza residents [have been] surviving in near-unliveable circumstances for 15 years, and Palestinian refugees [are] unable to exercise their right of return.”

The groups said they want the human rights situation in Palestine to be at the top of Türk’s agenda.

“For far too long, the question of Palestine has been treated as an exception to the implementation of international law,” they added.

The letter raised Israel’s use of administrative detention against Palestinians, which allows it to jail detainees indefinitely without charge.

Moreover, the letter addressed the 5,330 Palestinians killed by Israel’s “five full-scale military offensives” in Gaza between 2008 and 2022. It also drew attention to the recent increase in its military incursions into occupied West Bank cities.

(The New Arab, PC, SOCIAL)

Truss Condemned for Proposing Relocating British Embassy to Jerusalem

October 5, 2022

British Prime Minister Liz Truss. (Photo: Simon Dawson / No10 Downing Street, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

The UK-based organization Friends of Al-Aqsa (FoA) condemned British Prime Minister Liz Truss’s proposed relocation of the British Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In a statement, a copy of which was sent to The Palestine Chronicle, FoA said that “Israel is an apartheid state whose ongoing occupation of Palestinian land is a flagrant violation of international law.”

 “As with the rest of occupied Palestine, Israel denies Palestinians in East Jerusalem basic human rights and inflicts a cruel system of oppression and domination in an attempt to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their ancestral lands,” the statement added.

Therefore, “a move of the British Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would send a clear message of British support for the violation of international law,” it concluded. 

On September 22, Truss said she is considering relocating the British embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid, on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

The United States responded to Griner’s sentence by kidnapping a Russian

August 06, 2022

Vinnik faces virtually life imprisonment in the United States

source: https://m.vz.ru/society/2022/8/5/1171157.html

A Russian national, Alexander Vinnik, who now faces more than 50 years in prison, has been arrested in the United States. On Thursday, he was actually fraudulently taken out of Europe to San Francisco in violation of all international legal norms. Apparently, this is how Washington responded to the verdict of the Brittney Griner, convicted in the Russian Federation for drug smuggling. Why is Washington abducting Russian citizens and is there a way to stop this, in fact, hostage-taking?

Alexander Vinnik, whom the United States accuses of cybercrime, was taken from Greece to the United States. “Everything happened and was staged as a kidnapping,” RIA Novosti reports the words of one of Vinnik’s family members. Relatives reported that the Russian citizen was taken from Greece to Boston on a private plane in violation of all legal procedures. “Alexander was allowed to call home from Boston,” a member of Vinnik’s family said. Later, the Russian was transported on a company plane to San Francisco.

The police at the Athens airport on Thursday evening claimed that they knew nothing about Vinnik’s extradition and that he had been taken to Athens. Employees of the consular department of the Russian Embassy in Greece were not allowed to see a Russian citizen, although he asked for a meeting. The Kremlin is monitoring the fate of Vinnik, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The procedural norms of Greek law did not allow to immediately send Vinnik from Greece to the United States, but in Athens “they turned a blind eye to this,” a relative of the captured Russian told RIA Novosti. “The Greeks will again say that they did not know, forgot, were confused, that they are sorry. As before, there was an extradition document with a fake signature of the Minister of Justice, and then it turned out that he did not sign anything,” the source said.

From an international legal point of view, the entire mechanism of Vinnik’s deportation to the United States via Greece is inadequate, so Russia equates such cases with kidnappings, Pavel Gerasimov, Honored Lawyer of the Russian Federation, Vice President of the Union of Lawyers of Russia, explained to the newspaper VIEW. “In any case, foreign security forces had to appeal to the representatives of Russia in Interpol with the justification for sending Vinnik to the United States. But no one contacted either our Foreign Ministry or law enforcement officers,” the lawyer stated.

It should be noted that simultaneously with the American operation to kidnap a Russian from Greece, Joe Biden complained about the “unlawful” detention in Russia of US citizen Brittney Griner and the “unacceptable” sentence. Recall that a Russian court on Thursday found Griner guilty of smuggling drugs into our country. The judges sentenced the American to nine years.

Biden promised that the US authorities would use “all possible means” to return Griner and another American serving time in Russia, Paul Whelan, to their homeland. In mid-June, the Moscow City Court found this former Marine guilty of espionage and sentenced him to 16 years in a strict regime penal colony.

It can be assumed that the American side will try to use Vinnik captured in Greece (along with another compatriot of ours serving time in the USA – Viktor Bout) to bargain for the extradition of Griner and Whelan. Note that at the end of July, reports appeared in the American press that Biden approved a plan to exchange Whelan and Griner for Booth. Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken discussed the exchange of prisoners in a telephone conversation. Lavrov urged the head of the State Department to return to “quiet diplomacy” on this issue, the Foreign Ministry said.

It is also worth noting the briefing held on Thursday by the Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council (NSC) USA by John Kirby. According to TASS, a White House official was asked whether Washington believes that Russia will accept the American proposal, which does not involve an equal exchange of prisoners – one for one or two for two? That is, it was initially assumed that the United States intended to offer one Russian in exchange for two Americans. “I can say that we have made a serious offer… I won’t go into details, but we urge them (the Russians) to accept it,” Kirby replied evasively. It can be assumed that Vinnik, who was taken by private plane to the United States, may become this second Russian, who is supposed to be exchanged for convicted drug smuggler Griner and spy Whelan.

Regardless of whether a person is guilty (in this case, a Russian Vinnik) or not, the law must act, but the absolute arbitrariness on the part of the United States is comparable to extortion,

State Duma deputy Oleg Morozov told the newspaper VIEW. “This practice is on a par with the bombing of Iraq, when the United States didn’t care what others thought about it. They are detaining a Russian citizen on the territory of a third country and they don’t care what the law says and the world community thinks about it,” the politician stressed. Incidents like the capture of Vinnik have long been part of the international practice of the United States, stated Deputy Morozov. “There are many cases when Russian citizens are detained on the territory of third countries, and then absolutely illegally and secretly extradited to the territory of the United States, where they are put on trial,” the source said.

Let’s explain – several countries are involved in the Vinnik case, which has been going on for more than five years, and the Strasbourg Court was involved. In July 2017, a Russian IT specialist was arrested in Greece at the request of the United States. The American investigation accused Vinnik of creating a BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange without a license from the United States authorities, through which, according to the American side, billions of dollars were laundered. The Russian was also accused of failing to register his activities with the US Financial Intelligence Service (FINCEN) and failing to comply with anti-money laundering requirements. In the United States, 33-year–old Vinnik faces 55 years in prison – in fact, life imprisonment.

In January 2020, Greece extradited Vinnik, not to the United States but to France. Here, a Russian IT specialist was charged with 19 criminal offenses. A French court acquitted Vinnik of all charges brought by France and sentenced him to five years on one American charge. Moreover, the judges considered that the Russian had committed not a criminal offense, but a misdemeanor. The term of imprisonment ended, but Vinnik remained in prison. He was already supposed to be returned to Greece for extradition to the United States. However, the European Court of Human Rights banned the transfer of Vinnik to Greek justice. On Thursday, a Paris court decided to release Vinnik as part of the extradition case to the United States – Paris formally refused to transfer the Russian to the Americans. But the same French court immediately ordered to detain the Russian citizen and redirect him under escort to Greece. The very next day, a private plane took Vinnik from Athens to Boston.

As lawyer Gerasimov explained, the normal scheme from the point of view of international law should have looked like this: Greece detains Vinnik at the request of the French, since the case against him was opened in France. Further, in the French court, the process takes place with the participation of a representative of Russia, and the Russian consulate had to respect the rights of our citizen. Including consideration of the issue of Vinnik’s extradition to Russia.

“But the participation of American representatives in this case without substantiating the cross–border nature of the crime in general would be impossible by law, since Vinnik is not a US citizen,” the lawyer pointed out. – Another justification for American involvement could be that it was the United States that suffered the main damage from Vinnik’s alleged crime. But Washington has not provided any justification.” Moreover, at the stage of discussing extradition, the American side did not contact Moscow in any way, so the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a note of protest.

Now, in order to be able to exchange Vinnik or simply extradite him to Russia, he must be convicted in the United States, Gerasimov explained. “After that, Moscow tells Washington that the Russian side is ready to accept Vinnik to serve his sentence in Russia. This starts a two-way dialogue. If the two states agree, and if Vinnik arrives in Russia, then here he has the right to appeal for a judicial review and try to prove that the American court made an unfair decision,” the lawyer detailed.

At the same time, lawyer Gerasimov added, it cannot be ruled out that the arrested Russian may be transported to Puerto Rico or to the base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where a special prison is still operating. “Legally, this will not be an American territory, but the same US law enforcement agencies will “work” with the detainee there,” the lawyer noted. “You can only be safe without committing crimes. But in any case, it is better to rest in the Crimea, and not abroad,” the interlocutor added, not without sarcasm.

The issue of countering American international racketeering is primarily a political issue, said Deputy Morozov. “It’s impossible to live by the principle of “what if the Americans accuse me of something, so I can’t move beyond the Ural Mountains.” The only way to answer is what Russia, China and many other countries are doing now: they break the world order established by the Americans, refuse to participate in an unfair world order and will offer the world completely different norms and rules,” the interlocutor stressed. – Sooner or later we will come to a world where Americans will no longer be allowed to engage in extortion. In the meantime, the United States, unfortunately, acts on the principle of might is right, that they themselves are the law.”

In the meantime, the Russian Foreign Ministry has outlined Moscow’s position: our side is ready to discuss the exchange of prisoners with the United States, but only within the framework of the channel that was approved by the presidents of the two countries at a meeting in Geneva last June. This was stated on Friday by the head of Russian diplomacy Sergey Lavrov, commenting on reports about the plan approved by Biden to rescue Griner and Whelan.

Maria Zakharova speaks to RT at SPIEF 2022

June 16, 2022

https://rumble.com/v18n532-russian-fm-spokeswoman-maria-zakharova-speaks-to-rt-at-spief-2022-exclusive.html

Russia’s Necessary and Legal Military Response to US/ NATO Aggression in Ukraine

May 28, 2022

Source

By Maria Gritsch

Evidence shows that Russia’s special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine is a legally justified, critically necessary, and predictable response to the US’ recent escalation of its decades-long aggression against Russia in Ukraine–militarily, in the international corporate media, in cyberspace, and in the political-economic arena.  The US’ hostile actions against Russia were summarized in a 2019 US-Army funded RAND Corporation blueprint for “Over Extending and Unbalancing Russia.”  Underlying US actions is its aim is to dismember and asset-strip Russia–to appropriate its coveted oil, gas, and mineral resources and vast agricultural lands–and to enable US investors’ access to Russia’s economy. This is a step towards the US’ overarching goals of controlling Central Asia and achieving full spectrum dominance or global hegemony. Although the US war against Russia in Ukraine started years ago, US aggression escalated under the Biden administration and created conditions that posed an immediate existential threat to Russia and necessitated its military response.

In 2014, the US initiated a proxy war against Russia by engineering the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically-elected president. This ignited a bloody civil war on Russia’s border in which the US-installed and US-armed Kiev regime attacked the eastern provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk whose largely ethnically Russian residents opposed the US coup. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) documented the Kiev regime’s attacks that killed thousands of civilians and terrorized the populace. In 2015, the US-installed then-president, Petro Poroshenko, publicly articulated Kiev’s anti-Russia stance and its policy for the Donbass:

“We will have jobs—they will not. We will have pensions—they will not. [….] Our children will go to schools and kindergartens—theirs will hide in the basements.”  Popular Ukraine pundits openly called for Donbas residents’ extermination. In 2015, Congress lifted its ban on funding Ukraine’s neo Nazi militias and placed US military trainers on the ground inside Ukraine. NATO and the CIA also began training Ukraine regime forces–effectively establishing Ukraine as a de facto US/NATO mercenary state. During the past eight years, Russia exhibited enormous restraint as the US and Ukraine violated the Minsk Protocols and rejected requests for diplomacy. In 2021, US aggression against Russia increased dramatically once Biden took office–in Ukraine and in the Black Sea. US actions and Ukraine President Zelensky’s public statements generated immediate threats to the survival of the Russian nation-state.

Russia’s Military Response Was Over-Determined By Four Existential Threats 

The US government and the corporate media falsely characterize Russia’s special operation as entirely ‘unprovoked’ and an ‘illegal invasion’. These allegations ignore four conditions which each independently compelled President Putin and the Duma to initiate Russia’s denazification and demilitarization operation and which establish this intervention as consistent with international legal norms.

Chief among the factors necessitating Russia’s immediate military response were indications of an imminent new massacre as 125,000 Ukraine forces amassed along the border of Donbass in December of 2021. This was never reported in the US corporate press.  Instead, the US government and corporate media repeatedly stated that Russian troops were gathering on Ukraine’s border (inside Russia) and predicted an impending Russian invasion. In hindsight, US intelligence could make this accurate claim because it was aware of the menacing buildup of Ukraine forces. Anticipating an imminent massacre, Russia was obligated to intervene militarily because it had a Responsibility to Protect (R2P) the citizens of Donbass.  R2P is a political commitment to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity; it was endorsed by the United Nations at its 2005 world summit.

Second, on February 19, 2022, Ukraine President Zelensky announced that Ukraine would seek to acquire nuclear weapons, saying, “I want to believe that the North Atlantic Treaty and Article 5 will be more effective than the Budapest Memorandum.” Zelensky’s expressed desire to acquire nuclear weapons represented a dangerous threat to Moscow and signaled that the window of opportunity for conventional military intervention was closing.  It is unlikely that Zelensky operates completely autonomously; Biden publicly bragged about his control over Ukraine government policies and has remunerated Zelensky following Zelensky’s implementation of anti-Russia policies and actions.

Third, Zelensky’s repudiation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances was a reminder of Ukraine’s intent to join NATO. For years, US President Biden advocated NATO membership for Ukraine, assuring Zelensky as recently as December 11, 2021 that this was in Ukraine’s own hands. NATO membership would entail NATO nuclear missiles inside Ukraine, aimed at Moscow. Ukraine’s geographic proximity to Russia eliminates the crucial minutes in which Moscow could verify and respond to an attack and would effectively place Russia and the US at DEFCON Level Two. The US dismissed Russia’s December 17, 2021 verbal and written requests for a diplomatic response to its security concerns. Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken deliberately rejected Russia’s entreaties and ignored the predictable consequences of Ukraine’s potential NATO membership. Renowned international relations scholars, diplomats and politicians, including John Mearsheimer, Jack Matlock, George Kennan, Henry Kissinger, and William Perry warned that NATO membership for Ukraine was a dangerous provocation which would trigger Russia’s military response.

A fourth threat requiring Russia’s intervention was the presence of US Department of Defense-operated biolabs inside Ukraine. Russia’s concerns were validated on March 11, 2022 when Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland admitted during Congressional questioning that the Ukraine biolabs contained ‘biological materials’ which the US ‘did not want to fall into Russian hands’. While the pathogenic biological agents in these biolabs do not technically constitute bioweapons, they can become bioweapons once there is a ‘mechanism for spreading the agent.’ A delivery mechanism need not be sophisticated to be effective.  Bioweapons researcher, Jeffrey Kaye, described the extreme level of US secrecy surrounding the biolabs. Kaye noted that the Director of the Pentagon’s Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, Robert Pope, did not reassure when he stated that, “the Ukraine biolabs currently did not have the ability to manufacture bioweapons.”

Russia’s Intervention Is Consistent with International Law

These four US-generated conditions represented urgent existential threats to the Donbas and to the Russian nation-state and contradict US claims that Russia ‘illegally invaded Ukraine’ and that Russia’s intervention was unprovoked. Russia was compelled to intervene militarily to neutralize these threats and its response is consistent with the United Nations Charter of 1945 concerning international rules governing a state’s use of military force. The United Nations allows two exceptions to its prohibition of the use of force in international law: “self-defence under Article 51, and military measures authorised by the Security Council in response to “any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression.” In particular, the UN Charter notes, “there is no problem – and never has been – with that state, without first seeking Security Council approval, using military force ‘preemptively’.’ Both exceptions apply to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine: Russia perceived an imminent threat to the Donbas and an imminent threat to the Russian nation-state.  The immediacy of these threats obviated any requirement that Russia seek prior UN Security Council approval. Seeking UN approval would be futile, in any case, because the United States, a permanent UN Security Council member, is the principal combatant generating the hostilities.

Under the Biden administration, what began in 2014 as a US proxy war against Russia in Ukraine transformed into the US’ direct war against Russia. The US’ covert and overt military actions establish it as a legal “co-belligerent.” Now, the US continues to flood Ukraine with billions of dollars of heavy weapons and provides intelligence to guide Ukraine’s attacks on Russian forces. The US blatantly states that it wants to “weaken” Russia and that Russia must be defeated.  This is the US whose regime change wars in the Middle East killed 5 million; whose 1955-1975 war against Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia cost 3.4 million military and civilian lives. This is the US CIA whose coups and illegal interventions around the globe since its 1947 inception left a trail of bloodshed and chaos. Russia is legally and crucially defending the Donbas and the Russian nation-state against the US quest for global domination. The US generated four existential threats to the Donbas and to the Russian nation-state that necessitated Russia’s immediate intervention. The US—not Russia—is the illegal aggressor in Ukraine.

‘Tortured to death’: Saudi Army kills seven Yemeni migrants trying to cross border amid UN silence

27 May 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen English

Naseh Shaker 

Families of the seven Yemeni migrants reveal to Al Mayadeen English who killed their sons as Ansar Allah, Saudi coalition trade blames.

‘Tortured to death’: Saudi Army kills seven Yemeni migrants trying to cross border amid UN silence

Yemeni migrant Abdullah Hasan Saeed left his village in Al-Hudaydah on May 9 toward the Yemeni crossing-border of Al-Raqo to find a job in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On May 12, his father Hasan received a call from the Republican Hospital in Saada telling him the Saudi Army has tortured and killed his son.

“A Saudi bullet in his back killed him,” Hasan, father of Abdullah, told Al Mayadeen English in a phone call. He added, “There are also signs of torture on his body.” 

Abdullah, 28, is one of seven Yemeni citizens tortured and killed by the Saudi Army while on their way to the Kingdom seeking job opportunities to make a living.

Saudi Arabia launched a military aggression against Yemen in 2015 following the success of Ansar Allah popular revolution to topple the US-Saudi-backed corrupt government of Abed-Rabu Mansour Hadi.

On May 12, Al-Masirah TV, citing its reporter in Saada, reported that seven corpses of Yemeni migrants tortured and killed by the Saudi Army in the bordering area of Al-Raqo have arrived at the Republican Hospital in Saada.

Insan Organization condemned this crime and published the names and images of four out of the seven citizens tortured and killed:

– Abdullah Hasan Said, from Al-Hudaydah Province 

– Abdullah Darweesh, from Al-Hudaydah Province

– Khaleel Darweesh, from Al-Hudaydah Province 

– Mohammed Al-Badani, from Ibb Province.

“The Saudi soldiers have tortured several Yemeni civilians along the border area of ​​Al-Raqo until they died, as seven bodies of civilians arrived in the Republican Hospital in Saada, bearing signs of torture by beating and electrocution,” Yemeni Eye of Humanity Center For Rights and Freedoms said in a statement, pointing that the number of victims will most likely increase.

“This crime revealed the true face of this takfiri Wahhabi regime that rules Saudi Arabia and does not accept coexistence with others,” the statement added. 

Ahmed Abu Hamra, Director of Eye of Humanity Center For Rights and Freedoms, condemned this Saudi crime, saying, “The Saudi regime’s record is full of daily crimes in the border areas.”

“We have contacted all UN organizations regarding these crimes, but organizations do not take any action,” he noted.

Full-fledged crime

On May 13, the Saudi-led coalition in a statement published by Saudi Press Agency (SPA), said, “Ansar Allah’s allegations that there are deaths in the border area of Al-​​Raqo, with the Saudi forces dealing with them, are untrue.”

“Dozens of migrants were killed in the process of forced displacement and armed clashes launched by the Houthis,” SPA reported, citing the US-backed Saudi coalition allegations in the statement. 

Hasan, father of Abdullah, from Al-Marawi`ah District of the port city of Al-Hudaydah, denied the Saudi allegations and accused the Saudi Army of killing his son Abdullah. “He was killed by a Saudi bullet over a Saudi territory off Al-Raqo area.”

Asked what job Abdullah was seeking in the Kingdom, he replied, “He used to work in restaurants.”

Yemeni Ministry of Health said on May 12 in a statement that the torture and killing of the seven Yemeni citizens is “a full-fledged crime and a grave violation of international and humanitarian law…”

“The coalition continues to shed Yemeni blood by various means, whether by airstrikes, rocket-propelled grenades and artillery, or torture till death,” it added.

The Ministry also called on the United Nations to hold the Saudi-led coalition accountable for war crimes and to refer these crimes to the International Criminal Court.

Mourning

Hasan Saeed said his son Abdullah was married and the father of a 3-year-old boy and a 40-day-old baby girl.

“The whole family is mourning his death,” Hasan told Al Mayadeen English. “He was working to feed his sons and five other brothers and sisters.”

Mohammed Ali, a neighbor of Abdullah, said the entire village is mourning the death of Abdullah.

“He was very kind to all who knew him,” Ali told Al Mayadeen English.

“The UN has been covering the Saudi atrocities against Yemenis and the international community should put an end to this discrimination against Yemenis,” Ali cried out.

Tortured to death

Khaleel Darweesh had spent two years in the Saudi Kingdom gathering money to get married. In 2021, he returned home to Yemen to get married. Now his wife is pregnant in the second month, his brother Hamed said.

Khaleel Darwish while in Saudi Arabia (Exclusive)

After Eid Al-Fitr, Khaleel Darweesh, his brother Hamed, and cousin Abdullah Darweesh left Al Marawi`ah District of Al-Hudaydah toward Al-Raqo crossing border aiming to return to the Kingdom.

However, Khaleel and his cousin Abdullah decided to cross the border on May 11, leaving behind Hamed in Al-Raqo market, and they were captured and tortured to death by the Saudi Army using water and electricity.

Khaleel Darweesh left along with brother Hamed right (Exclusive)

“They weren’t killed in clashes with Ansar Allah, as the Saudi coalition claimed,” Hamed told Al Mayadeen English.

“They were peaceful migrants carrying nothing other than food and water,” the 32-year-old Hamed explained.

Hamed survived the torture because he said he didn’t travel with Khaleel and Abdullah on the night of May 11 and remained at Al-Raqo market until the second day.

Hamed received the news of migrants being tortured to death on May 12 and went to look, but found his brother Khaleel and cousin Abdullah amongst the tortured migrants.

Khaleel during his wedding party wearing Yemeni uniform (Exclusive)

“I found their frozen bodies,” Hamed told Al Mayadeen English of his brother and cousin. “I wish they were killed by bullets rather than being tortured to death.”

“I will never try again entering the kingdom of torture and terrorism,” Hamed told Al Mayadeen English when asked if he plan to return to the Kingdom as a survivor. “It is the Kingdom of barbarism, and the UN is silent about Saudi crimes against Yemeni migrants.”

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

The Saudi-Yemeni Ceasefire Is on the Edge!

May 5, 2022

By Mohammad Sleem

Beirut – On April 2, an agreement between Yemen and the countries of the US-backed Saudi-led aggression has been reached. The ceasefire which took effect, was supposed to last for two months, after seven years of aggression and siege on the already impoverished country. However, the Saudi-led coalition reneged on the agreement and breached Yemeni sovereignty several times.

How were these breaches distributed?

The first breach was on the April 8 where US-Saudi aggression mercenaries launched a large-scale march on the south of Marib on Friday. A military source stated that the popular committees responded to the advance of mercenaries, pointing out that this action coincided with intensive flights of the coalition aircrafts in Yemeni airspace.

The second breach was when a residential neighborhood in Taaz governorate was targeted with heavy artillery. This showed the real intentions behind the earlier announced stance as civilians expressed their condemnation to the criminal act that violated the international law.

Furthermore, on April 20, a military source reported that Saudi aircrafts had breached Hajja, Sanaa, Maarib, Amran, and Saada provinces 59 times to-date, according to Sabaa agency.

Moreover, two people were killed by the Saudi army on the northern borders of Yemen on April 27 in Shada province – Saada governorate, recording a new breach.

Nonetheless, two humanitarian flights from Jordan and Egypt to Sanaa Airport had been agreed upon weekly during the two-months ceasefire. Several days ago, the Saudi aggression announced the cancelation of these flights alleging that the passengers who are being selected as patients from Sanaa are actually Iranian backed-up groups who are trying to manipulate these trips.

Regarding the cancelation of the trips, Yemeni Minister of Health Taha al Motawakel told Yemen’s al-Masirah network, “It is the most important item in the ceasefire agreement. The cancelation of the trips reveals the real intentions of the Saudi-led coalition and its moral free-fall, as an intended siege is taking place on Yemen, which makes things worse for more than 30,000 patients who need to undergo treatment outside Yemen”.

In accordancse with the aforementioned, the Saudi-led coalition proves again that its honesty towards the Yemeni people is fake, as hundreds who have suffered from the aggression need treatment and the countries backing the war deliberately tightened the noose on Yemen, once again revealing its true face.

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“Israel” or the wolf disguised as a sheep

29 Mar 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen

Mikhael Marzuqa 

“Israel” tried to disguise itself as an honest mediator between Russia and Ukraine, but honesty is a trait that is hard to come by once the occupation’s history is full of atrocities and war crimes.

Chile and other Latin-American countries that subscribe to the UN Charter and its resolutions, as well as international law organizations, including the ICJ, must commit themselves to their own actions

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict comes to revalue the need for the rule of International Law and a renewal of the commitment of the entire international community to subscribe to it.

The defense of the sovereignty of Ukraine revives the neglected relevance of promoting the sovereignty of Palestine based mainly on:

– The withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Palestinian territories declared in resolution 181 of the UN General Assembly of November 29, 1947, that “recommended” the partition of Palestine into two States, but without “Israel” allowing the consolidation of the Palestinian State.

– Allow the return of Palestinian refugees expelled from their homes by “Israel”, according to resolutions 194 of December 11, 1948, and 3236 of November 22, 1974, recognizing the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people.

– Israeli withdrawal from Occupied Palestine, including the Eastern part of occupied al-Quds, is based on Resolution 2334 of December 23, 2016, of the UN Security Council, which emanates from this body and is binding.

– End of colonialism and Israeli apartheid considered a form of racial discrimination according to Resolution 3379 of the UN General Assembly in 1975.

– End of the colonial expansion based on settlements of settlers brought from other nations to Palestine, based on Resolutions 446 of March 22, 1979 and 2334 of December 23, 2016 of the UN Security Council (both binding resolutions).

– Demolition of the Separation Wall or “Shame” that penetrates into Palestinian territory expropriating more territories, declared illegal by the International Court of Justice on July 9, 2004

Since 1948, and even before, with the action of the Zionist terrorist organizations, which later became the Israeli army, “Israel” has systematically invaded Palestine, expelling its original population, periodically bombing and committing crimes against the civilian population, selectively assassinating the political leaders of the Palestinian people including their former president Yasser Arafat, demolished their homes and farm fields, seized water sources, turned the West Bank into a huge concentration camp, violently expelled the residents of al-Quds and other Palestinian cities, changed the names and in general the legal status of the territory, prohibited free expression and the operation of NGOs for the defense of Human Rights, converted Gaza into the largest extermination camp and, ultimately, undermined the possibilities of installing a Free and democratic Palestinian state as declared by the national charter of the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine.

It is ironic to see how “Israel” first offered itself as the venue for negotiations between Russia and Ukraine and currently offers itself as a mediator since it is the state most condemned by the UN and international human rights organizations and one of the key suppliers of weapons to Ukraine. Therefore, ending this international hypocrisy is imperative today, since we run the risk of widening the lock gates of more flagrant inconsistencies and violations of the norms that regulate coexistence among peoples.

Chile and other Latin-American countries that subscribe to the UN Charter and its resolutions, as well as international law organizations, including the ICJ, must commit themselves to their own actions, as well as promote in the regional economic and political organizations of Latin America and The Caribbean, initiatives that lead to oblige “Israel” to cease its violations, respect international laws and adopt UN resolutions without conditions.

It is appropriate that those who have an international tradition to respect and promote international human rights. Along these lines, they are compelled to adhere to the reports of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and promote the existence of all the facilities for the investigation of the International Criminal Court on war crimes committed by “Israel”.
 
It is important that the Latin American countries deploy a diplomatic crusade at the international level so that the United States, Great Britain and the European Union, mainly, are consistent between their speech and their international action so that, just as they have deployed innumerable and forceful sanctions against Russia, similarly condemn and promote condemnation and similar sanctions against the Israeli regime so that it respects international law. It is pertinent that governments that set themselves up as defenders of democracy, do not jeopardize their declared values ​​of respect for peace, justice, sovereignty, and self-determination, that they assume the moral obligation of consequence between their words and actions and honor the reputation of the states those they represent so as not to be condemned by history as only defenders of interests of power and hegemony.

Promoting the peaceful and respectful coexistence of the legality that the international community has imposed on itself is today transcendent for the world that we are bequeathing to future generations.

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

The Saker interviews Michael Hudson

March 26, 2022

Following Putin’s announcement about selling gas for Rubles only to hostile nations, I decided to reach out to Michael Hudson and ask him (my level, primitive) questions.  Here is our full email exchange:

Andrei: Russia has declared that she will only sell gas to “hostile countries” for Rubles.  Which means that to non-hostile countries she will continue to sell in Dollars/Euros.  Can these hostile countries still purchase gas from Russia but via third countries?

Michael Hudson:  There seem to be two ways for hostile countries to buy Russian gas. One seems to be to use Russian banks that are not banned from SWIFT. The other way would indeed seem to be to go through what looks to develop as a formal or informal third-country bank or exchange. India and China would seem to be the best positioned for this role.  U.S. diplomats will be pressing India to impose its own sanctions on Russia, and there is a strong pro-U.S. constituency there. But even Modi sees the obvious superior benefits of benefiting from India’s geopolitical position with Russia and China’s Belt and Road Initiative relative to whatever the U.S. has to

Back in the 1960s the West dealt with the Soviet Union using barter deals. Arranging this barter became a big banking business. Barter is the typical “final stage” of the deterioration of a credit economy into a money economy that breaks down.  Over the medium term, a new international financial organization needs to be created as an alternative to the dollarized IMF to handle such intra-bloc transactions in today’s new multipolarizing world.

Andrei: These hostile nations would pay extra for that service, but they would not have to get Rubles.  Is that even possible?

Michael Hudson: Presumably Russia would not absorb the added bank costs of avoiding U.S. sanctions. It would simply add them on to the price, after setting the price at which it hopes to end up with – preferably at the original “old” ruble/euro or ruble/dollar exchange rate, not the post-attack depreciated rate.

Andrei: Question: Do you believe that the EU will agree to pay Roubles or will they take the total loss of 40% of their energy?

Michael Hudson: They will pay – or be voted out of office. If they WERE to cut their energy imports from Russia, the distress-price of gas would soar and there would be drastic shortages disrupting the economy. Energy is productivity and GDP. For Russia, of course, this is an opportunity to make the break now instead of later – and leave NATO to take the blame for the interruption of supply. So if I were Russia, I would not be in a hurry to help solve the foreign-payment problem. The same goes for non-oil raw materials, from neon to palladium to titanium, nickel and aluminum.

Andrei: So far, this applies only to natural gas.  Do you believe that Russia will extend this to petroleum, wheat and fertilizers and, if yes, what will the effect from this be for the world economy?

Michael Hudson: All Russian exports are affected by these currency controls, because all bank transfers are sanctioned in the way discussed above.  Russia has no use for dollars or euros, because these can be grabbed. It needs to have complete control over whatever monetary assets it receives, now that past norms of international law and financial policy no longer apply.

Andrei:  Russia has A LOT of natural resources and a lot of technologies/commodities.  If she is successful in her efforts to become paid in Rubles, could it be that the Ruble, which would then be a natural resources/ commodities backed currency, could become a major “refuge” currency.

Michael Hudson: I’m not sure what a “refuge” currency is, but the ruble will become a self-standing currency. If its balance of trade and payment improves, the problem may be to keep it from rising. If that happens, the question will be whether a rising ruble would oblige buyers of Russian exports to pay more in their own currency. A new multilateral financial system is in the process of being structured as we’re having this discussion. Will there be speculation? Forward selling? Short squeezes and Soros-type raids? Who will be the participants and under what rules …?

Andrei:  How hard a hit would this Russian decision potentially have on the dollar?  And MBS negotiating with the PRC for oil sales in Renminbi.   Do you think that China and Russia will bring down the Petrodollar and will we see a commodities-backed Ruble and a commodities-backed Yuan replacing the Dollar?

Michael Hudson: The petrodollar will remain between the United States and its allies. But alongside it, there will be the Saudi-yuan and India-yuan arrangements for trade in oil, minerals, industrial products and probably international investment. Trade in these products will be able to occur in a number of currencies, probably on a number of exchanges. It is not clear whether some formal or informal arbitrage may develop between these areas. That is part of what is to be designed.  To oversee and regulate the resulting financial and trade arrangements, an alternative to the IMF is needed. The U.S. will not join any organization in which it does not have veto power, so we will see a division of the world into different trading and monetary areas.  The result is not so much a conflict as two quite different operating philosophies as the non-U.S. world develops its alternative to financialized neoliberalism.

Andrei:  The US has basically stolen Russian gold and foreign currency.  The Russians claim that the US has shot itself in the foot and that this will ruin the reputation of the dollar, do you agree with that?

Michael Hudson: Absolutely: Iran after the Shah was overthrown, Afghanistan’s foreign reserves earlier this year, Venezuela’s gold held in the Bank of England, and now Russia. Even timid Germany has asked that airplanes begin flying its gold held in the New York Fed back to Germany!

Andrei: do you think that Russia will retaliate against the US/UK/EU and nationalize/seize their assets in Russia or even in countries friendly to Russia (China?)?

Michael Hudson: Russia is very careful to do everything according to international law – which, of course, has a wide variety of precedents and excuses, and whose courts tend to be dominated by U.S. judges backing U.S. versions of what is legal under whatever it announces to be the “rules-based order of the day” instead of the “rule of law” along UN lines.  To the extent that NATO investors abandon their assets in Russia, these may be sold – perhaps at a distress discount – to buyers who promise to maintain the business. Russia might impose severe fines for abandonment, as when landlords abandon buildings causing local expenditures on cleanup costs. Abandonment causes a “public nuisance.”

This would be a cause for immediate confiscation of current taxes, rent payments and salaries or payments for current supplies (including electricity and fuel) are not paid. Think what would happen if the gas bill were not paid and pipes froze and flooded a property. There is an entire world of penalties that could be applied.

International law provides for some recovery of assets wrongly confiscated – as the U.S. confiscations of Russian-owned reserves and personal property would seem to be. At this point Russia really has nothing to lose. It looks like there is not going to be much Russian-European cross investment for quite some time. Russia finally has given up on its hopes to “turn West” after 1991. It was a dream that turned into a nightmare, and President Putin and Lavrov have expressed their disgust with Europe acting in so uncivilized a matter. So for Russia – and increasingly other countries – NATO Europe and North America are the new barbarians at the gate. Russia is turning

That of course is precisely the aim of U.S. policy – to lock Europe into its own dollarized neoliberal order, blocking any mutual prosperity achieved by trade and investment with Russia or, behind it, with China.  It looks like today’s sanctions are permanent for the next few years. So of course Russia needs to keep formerly NATO-owned enterprises operating. Let the NATO investors recover compensation from what the United States has grabbed. (Hint: the U.S. may simply begin to grab China’s or Latin American or near Eastern reserves to pay NATO investors who have lost in Russia. That is the model of using Afghan money to pay victims of Saudi Arabia’s 9/11 attack two decades ago.)

Andrei:  finally, what question, if any, did I forget to ask and what would you reply to it?

Michael Hudson: Your questions are about specific problems and solutions. But the overall resolution needs to be system-wide, not patchwork. These specific problems cannot really be solved without a far-reaching institutional restructuring of the international financial system, world trade, a world court, and a UN without US veto power.  And such an institutional reformation requires an economic doctrine to provide its basic principles. A New International Economic Order will be constructed on non-neoliberal principles – along the lines of what used to be called socialism, when that was what people expected industrial capitalism to be evolving into.

Andrei: thank you so much for your time and expertise!!

UNHRC Report Accuses ‘Israeli’ Entity of Apartheid

March 24, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the ‘Israeli’-occupied Palestinian territories submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council [UNHRC], in which he concluded that the situation in the occupied territories amounts to apartheid.

In a 19-page report submitted to the body on Tuesday, Michael Lynk said ‘Israelis’ and Palestinians lived “under a single regime which differentiates its distribution of rights and benefits on the basis of national and ethnic identity, and which ensures the supremacy of one group over, and to the detriment of, the other.”

“The political system of entrenched rule in the occupied Palestinian territory which endows one racial-national-ethnic group with substantial rights, benefits and privileges while intentionally subjecting another group to live behind walls, checkpoints and under a permanent military rule… satisfies the prevailing evidentiary standard for the existence of apartheid,” he added.

Lynk said that while the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories differed from that experienced in South Africa, it still amounted to apartheid.

Apartheid is a legal term defined by international law that refers to systematic oppression by one racial group over another.

“There are pitiless features of ‘Israel’s’ ‘apartness’ rule in the occupied Palestinian territory that were not practiced in southern Africa, such as segregated highways, high walls and extensive checkpoints, a barricaded population, missile strikes and tank shelling of a civilian population, and the abandonment of the Palestinians’ social welfare to the international community.

“With the eyes of the international community wide open, ‘Israel’ has imposed upon Palestine an apartheid reality in a post-apartheid world.”

Lynk is slated to formally release his report on Thursday ahead of a debate on Agenda Item Seven, the permanent UNHRC item reserved for ‘Israeli’ human rights abuses against Palestinians and other Arabs.

In the report, the Canadian academic argued that ‘Israel’ was pursuing a strategy of “strategic fragmentation of the Palestinian territory into separate areas of population control, with Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem [al-Quds] physically divided from one another.”

‘Israel’ uses Gaza, Lynk said, for the “indefinite warehousing of an unwanted population of two million Palestinians.”

The issuing of thousands of work permits for Palestinian laborers in the West Bank and Gaza to work in the occupied territories amounts to the “exploitation of labor of a racial group,” the report said.

Last month, Amnesty International labelled ‘Israel’ an apartheid entity, becoming the latest organization to join a cadre of human rights groups that have used the term to describe the ‘Israeli’ treatment of Palestinians.

Despite the increasing number of rights groups labelling Zionist policies as amounting to apartheid, the United States and the occupation regime’s other western allies have refrained from making any such declarations.

More on This Topic

Here comes China (and they don’t stop!)

March 19, 2022

Source

By Amarynth collaborating with Godfree Roberts’ Newsletter, Here Comes China

Biden / Xi Summit.

In perfect Chinese diplomatic terms, it looks like business as usual. Taken outside of the perfect diplomatic terms, it is a true spanking.

Let’s take one paragraph only and remember a few things first:

Washington, as usual, threatened and danced something like the haka and warned Xi not to support Russia in any way or the consequences would be dire for China. Washington threatened with equally applied sanctions and other dire unmentionables.  Apparently, Washington can support who it wants, but China is in some form prohibited from exactly that.  Hypocritically they want it both ways.  That era is over.

A few hours before the ‘summit’, China had a perfectly normal sail-by through the Taiwan Straits of their aircraft carrier Shandong.  Yes, this is ‘likely routine’ says their spox.  Sure, it was highly likely just routine.  It must have been a wonderful day for the Shandong to take a little sail through the Taiwan Straits.

A few hours before the ‘summit’ Global times had an interview with an unnamed official.  (Is China playing the US game here by not naming the official?).  This is the take-away:  “The international community can fairly judge who is frank and open and who is up to something, who is easing the situation and who is aggravating tension, who is promoting peace talks and who is pouring fuel on the fire, and who is maintaining peace and stability and who is provoking confrontations between blocs.”

Xi Jinping made a pre-summit statement: Countries should not come to the point of meeting on the battlefield. Conflict and confrontation are not in anyone’s interest. Peace and security are what the international community should treasure the most.

So, this is the milieu that Biden walked into at the online summit.  We must know by now what this is all about.  None of the boring line-up of US representatives could bend China to their will to support sanctions against Russia, so, time for a Presidential Summit to yet again attempt to split China and Russia.  This is how perfectly ridiculous this attempt is:  Can you help me fight your friend so that I can concentrate on fighting you later?

Here is how it went:

President Biden expounded on the US position and expressed readiness for communication with China to prevent the situation from exacerbating.

Simply said:  How can we make a deal so that the US/Nato alliance remains a unipolar world and all others must be subservient.

President Xi pointed out that China does not want to see the situation in Ukraine to come to this. China stands for peace and opposes war. This is embedded in China’s history and culture.

Simply said:  Hey Biden, mistake number one!  You do not know who you are talking to, but now I’m going to tell you

  • China makes a conclusion independently based on the merits of each matter.
  • China advocates upholding international law and universally recognized norms governing international relations.
  • China adheres to the UN Charter and promotes the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security. These are the major principles that underpin China’s approach to the Ukraine crisis.
  • China has put forward a six-point initiative on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, and is ready to provide further humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and other affected countries.
  • All sides need to jointly support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiation that will produce results and lead to peace.

Simply stated:  This is the crux of the matter and seemingly you are unable to grasp it!

  • The US and NATO should also have dialogue with Russia to address the crux of the Ukraine crisis and ease the security concerns of both Russia and Ukraine.

Message:  Go away and take your position and money with you!  You had your opportunity and you became a warmaker, coercing others to your will.  Enough is enough!  We have principles, law and morals and ethical standards.  You hold on to ‘positions’ favorable to you only.

China is active in the EU as well and the discussion does not remain dry and diplomatically correct. 

China is playing into its strengths, saying what is correct in terms of its own national interest and it happens to co-incide with that of the non-insane world.   The spokespeople are highly educated, clear, exceptionally well-spoken, and smart.   They also mercilessly dig in the knife when opportunity shows.  In a recent press conference:

CCTV: US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that the US is concerned about Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure which caused civilian casualties. However, China has yet to state its position explicitly. How does the foreign ministry view such criticism from other countries on China?

Zhao Lijian: Human lives are precious. Civilian casualties under all circumstances are heart-rending and lamentable. China has all along called for every effort to avoid civilian casualties. We still remember that in March 1999, the US-led NATO, without the Security Council’s mandate, flagrantly unleashed a ruthless bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for 78 days, killing at least 2,500 innocent civilians and injuring around 10,000 people, most of them civilians. Over the past two decades or so, the US conducted tens of thousands of air strikes in places like Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. The number of innocent civilians killed can be anywhere between 22,000 and 48,000. When professing its concern for the welfare of the Ukrainian people, shouldn’t the US first express concern over the civilian casualties caused by all these military operations?

I particularly enjoyed this vignette:

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that any support to Russia, military or any other type of support, would actually help Russia conduct a brutal war against an independent sovereign nation, Ukraine, and help them to continue to wage war which is causing death, suffering and an enormous amount of destruction.

This was the comment of the Chinese spokesperson:

Chinese people can fully relate to the pains and sufferings of other countries because we will never forget who bombed our embassy in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.  China does not need a lecture on justice from the abuser of international law. As a Cold War remnant and the world’s largest military alliance, NATO continues to expand its geographical scope and range of operations. What kind of role has it played in world peace and stability? NATO needs to have a good reflection.

Currency

Against this backdrop, the news filtered out about The Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) and China designing a new monetary and financial system bypassing the U.S. dollar, supervised by Sergei Glazyev and intended to compete with the Bretton Woods system which is now less than 50% of the currency flow in the world.  While news is still very scarce on this front, it fulfilled the purpose of telling Biden once again to go away if US/NATO cannot be a serious contender to building a peaceful and prosperous world.

Godfree Roberts, in his last newsletter, did an overview of the major historical milestones.  I am not sure if the concept of a special drawing rights fiat currency revaluated regularly against a basket of currencies will be the way this rolls out.  Stand by!  Much more incoming!  We will see.

DOLLAR’S END – Farewell, Inordinate Privilege

  • Credit Suisse analyst Zoltan Pozsar says Ukraine triggered a perfect storm in commodities that could weaken the Eurodollar system, contribute to inflation in Western economies, and threaten their financial stability. Pozsar said China’s central bank is uniquely placed to backstop such crisis, paving the way for a much stronger yuan. Reuters, Mar. 13, 2022.
  • Saudi Arabia Considers Accepting Yuan Instead of Dollars for Chinese Oil Sales: Talks between Riyadh and Beijing have accelerated as the Saudi unhappiness grows with Washington. WSJ, Mar. 14, 2022

–o0o–

In 2009, after helping to rescue the US from the GFC, Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the Peoples Bank of China, said, “The world needs an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and able to remain stable in the long run, removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies.”

After helping rescue America from the GFC, PBOC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan observed, “The world needs an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and able to remain stable in the long run, removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies.”

Zhou proposed SDRs, Special Drawing Rights, a synthetic reserve currency dynamically revalued against a basket of trading currencies and commodities. Broad, deep, stable, and impossible to manipulate. Nobelists Fred Bergsten, Robert Mundell, and Joseph Stieglitz approved: “The creation of a global currency would restore a needed coherence to the international monetary system, give the IMF a function that would help it to promote stability and be a catalyst for international harmony”.  Here’s what’s happened since:

2012: Beijing began valuing the yuan against a currency/commodity basket

2014: The IMF issued the first SDR loan

2016: The World Bank issued the first SDR bond

2017: Standard Chartered Bank issued the first commercial SDR notes.

2019: All central banks began stating currency reserves in SDRs

Mar. 14, 2022: “In two weeks, China and the Eurasian Economic Union – Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan – will reveal an independent international monetary and financial system. It will be based on a new international currency, calculated from an index of national currencies of the participating countries and international commodity prices”.

The currency resembles Keynes’ invention Special Drawing Rights.SDRs are a  synthetic currency which derives its value from a global, publicly traded basket of currencies and commodities. Immense beyond imaging, and stable as the Pyramids. Everyone gets a seat at the table and a vote. It may eventually be administered by an arm of the UN.

SDRs pose a serious alternative to the US dollar, both for the EAEU, the BRI’s 145 member states, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), ASEAN, and the RCEP. Middle East countries, including Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, are keenly interested.

Less well known is that the EAEU, the BRI, the SCO, ASEAN, and the RCEP were discussing a merger before the currency news hit.

It is reasonable to expect them to join this new, cooperatively managed, stable reserve currency regime in which they can settle their trades in stable, neutral, predictable SDRs.

Biological labs

China is not losing any opportunity to bring this front and center.  This is their last list of questions:

  • If the concerns are “disinformation”, why doesn’t the U.S. release detailed materials to prove its innocence? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • What did the U.S. spend the $200 million on? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • What kind of research has the U.S. conducted on which pathogens? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • What is it trying to hide when the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine deleted all relevant documents on its website? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • Why does the U.S. insist on being the only country in the world to oppose the establishment of a multilateral verification mechanism though it claims to abide by the Biological Weapons Convention? – Question by Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian on U.S.-funded biolabs in Ukraine.
  • This is quite an amazing poster detailing the biolab web, which is too large to load here.  But take a look at the depiction of these US biolabs.  https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202203/1255055.shtml

Economic goals in a nutshell

What is happening with Belt and Road?  About the data: On January 21, 2022, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) released its data for “China’s investments and cooperation in countries along the Belt and Road” covering the period of January to December 2021. According to these data, Chinese enterprises invested about US$20.3 billion in non-financial direct investments in countries “along the Belt and Road”. Furthermore, there were 560 newly signed projects with a contract value of over US$100 million. The MOFCOM data focus on 55 countries that are “along the Belt and Road” – meaning on a corridor from China to Europe including South Asia. For this report, the definition of BRI countries includes 142 countries that had signed a cooperation agreement with China to work under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative by the end of 2021. To analyze investments in these countries, we base our data on the China Global Investment Tracker and our own data research at the Green Finance & Development Center affiliated with Fudan University, Shanghai. As with most data, they tend to be imperfect.

Chinese joke

On a somewhat of a lighter note:  The Chinese Netizens are in the majority siding with Russia so completely and so enthusiastically, that China’s WeChat and Douyin had to crack down on vulgar jokes and netizens were told in no uncertain terms that they cannot make fun of international news events.  The very high support for Russia is becoming a clear talking point despite the somewhat muted and correct Chinese diplomatic statements.

So, here is a joke for you.

Bear and Dragon take a walk in the gardens.  Bear is a little overcome with his serious responsibilities in the world and presents emotionally somewhat tired and despondent.  As the walk proceeds, Dragon says to Bear .. Out with it!  What has you so despondent?  Bear thinks a moment and says:  We’ve been friends for a long time.  So, if I need a very large amount of money very quickly, will you give it to me?

Dragon, known for taking time to ponder the imponderables, walks on for a while and then comes to a firm stop.  NO, says Dragon, I will not give it to you!

Bear’s shoulders fall .. but Dragon continues:  I will lend it to you.  1.5 trillion the moment you ask for it, no interest, no repayment terms, pay me back when you can.

International Criminal Lawyer on “The Legality of War”

March 17, 2022

Very apt & timely article by international criminal lawyer, Christopher Black.

Excerpts:

“In my opinion Russia acted in accordance with international law under Article 51 of the UN Charter for the following reasons;

First, the Kiev regime was mounting a major offensive with NATO’s help against the Donbass Republics with the intent of destroying them. Intensive shelling had already begun days before Russia acted, the shelling of civilian buildings and infrastructure, which resulted in scores of thousands of civilians fleeing into Russia. During that period the Kiev regime also attempted to assassinate a leader of the Republics with a car bomb. Russia had no choice but to protect the Donbass peoples and since the Security Council could do nothing, and the EU and NATO were supporting the Kiev offensive against the Donbass, Russia was the only nation that could act.

The request for military assistance from the Donbass Republics also compelled Russia to send in its forces to help push back the Kiev forces from the territories of the Republics.

Second, Russia itself had been attacked multiple times by Kiev regime forces. Saboteurs were sent into Crimea time and again to carry out raids, assassinate officials, to destroy infrastructure. They even cut Crimea’s water supply, a crime against humanity. Just a few days before Russia acted a Kiev reconnaissance unit invaded Russia but was detected and destroyed. Russia had every right under The Caroline Doctrine to go after the attackers and to prevent further attacks.

…In this case the threat was more than imminent. It was on-going and increasing. The only effective and proportional defensive response was to destroy the offensive forces being deployed. These forces include not only Kiev regime government forces but also the nationalist, Nazi brigades supporting and spearheading the Kiev offensive and all the NATO equipment being supplied to them to conduct the Kiev offensive.

Thirdly, the deeper issue was the imminent threat to Russia from NATO posed by its continuous expansion to the east, its continuous build up of forces and offensive structure pointed at Russia and the completion this September of the American missile systems in Poland, Romania and Ukraine which could then be used to launch a nuclear attack against Russia.

We remember that in the past few months the NATO nations have conducted military exercises that included practicing launching nuclear attacks on Russia. We also remember that the USA has a first strike nuclear war policy, claiming the right to use nuclear weapons wherever and whenever they deem fit. It was evident that they were practising attacks because that was and is their intention.

Russia demanded the Americans withdraw those systems, and to withdraw NATO from Eastern Europe. They flatly refused. Ukraine talked of acquiring nuclear weapons and threatening Russia with them. It would take time for them to manufacture but there was nothing to stop the Americans from giving them nuclear weapons, under their control, as the Americans have done with Germany, for instance.

Russia could do nothing, keep the peace, and watch, as the weapons for its destruction were installed and made ready to fire; to commit suicide in other words, or it could defend itself. It warned the US that it would do so, and had the right to do so, the same right the Americans always claim to have, but again Russia was ignored. It had to act or face destruction and subjugation.

We remember that during the Cuban Missile Crisis, in 1962, the Americans threatened to invade Cuba and to attack the USSR because nuclear missiles had been placed in Cuba to protect it against American aggression. President Kennedy established the precedent principle that when a nation feels its existence is at stake from nuclear weapons it has the right to use force to protect itself pre-emptively. Russia is acting on the same principle.

Lastly, the NATO powers have lately relied on their bogus legal doctrine of “responsibility to protect” that they invented after the fact to try to justify their aggression against Yugoslavia. No such doctrine exists in international law but they claim the right to use it nevertheless. It applies, according to them, when a military action is justified, though illegal, “for legitimate humanitarian reasons.’ They were warned that this false doctrine could be turned against them. Russia has not referred to it at all, but if NATO can rely on it for their wars of aggression, then surely Russia can rely on it to justify their military action to defend the Donbass, and themselves.

When one takes account of all the factors that governed the Russian decision to send its forces into Ukraine it is clear that in law they had the legal right to do so whereas the United States continues its illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq and Syria to this day and the NATO media powers and governments say nothing, because they are all complicit in those invasions.
If the United States and the NATO alliance had complied with international law in the first place as set out in the UN Charter, the world would not be in this mess. They caused this, not Russia. The responsibility is entirely theirs and they will be judged for it.”
https://christopher-black.com/the-legality-of-war/

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Russian MoD: Joint Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine

March 11, 2022

https://t.me/mod_russia_en/133

Meeting of the Joint Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine

 In accordance with its commitments and exclusively for humanitarian purposes, the Russian Federation has opened ten humanitarian corridors from 10 a.m. Moscow time today to evacuate civilians and foreign citizens from Kiev, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and Mariupol cities, including one humanitarian corridor from each city to the Russian Federation, as well as one through the territories controlled by the Kiev authorities to the west, to Poland, Moldova and Romania.

 Of the ten routes we proposed, the Ukrainian side agreed on only two – on Kiev and Mariupol directions. At the same time, once again not a single humanitarian corridor to the Russian Federation. At the same time, the Kiev authorities additionally announced four more routes from Izyum, Energodar, Volnovakha and in the Zhytomyr direction. For humane purposes, we agreed with them.

 Official Kiev, as before, continues to reject humanitarian corridors towards Russia, arguing that there are simply no civilians and foreign citizens who want to go to the territory of the Russian Federation.

We have already talked about this – it is a lie and a cynical deception. At the same time, the results of daily monitoring show the opposite – 23,127 more people have taken refuge in the Russian Federation from the horrors and arbitrariness staged by nationalists in the last 24 hours alone, and there are already 2,619,026 of them from almost 2,000 settlements of Ukraine.

And this is not just statistics, it is the fate of people, their hopes for the end of the daily nightmare, despair from the hopelessness of the situation. The Kiev authorities have legalized crimes against humanity, ignore numerous cases of looting, robbery, banditry, and sanctioned the use of weapons by nationalists against the civilian population, including women and children.

 Another provocation of nationalists was recorded in Kharkov, where, in order to conceal research on nuclear topics, militants of territorial defence battalions blew up one of the buildings of the Physics and Technology Institute on Akademicheskaya Street. Up to 50 employees of the institution can be under the rubble.

In addition, in the same city, in the basement of an art school on Yesenin Street, militants hide the bodies of civilians killed during a punitive operation against persons who did not support the criminal Kiev regime.

In Sumy, nationalists conduct raids on private households, during which, under threat of physical violence and murder, forcibly seize food, fuel, equipment, as well as personal cars from people.

 The Kiev authorities have banned the mayors of cities from any contacts with the Russian side, including on the organization of humanitarian corridors. All those who disagree are simply shot.

 Taking into account our responsibility for the humanitarian component and ensuring the safety of the exit of civilians and foreign citizens forcibly held by nationalists in the blocked settlements, from 10 a.m. by means of objective control, including unmanned aerial vehicles, intensive monitoring of the situation on humanitarian routes is being conducted.

The results of objective control again show that the ceasefire is actively used to intensively regroup units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and national battalions in defensive positions, as well as to move weapons and military equipment to more advantageous positions.

 To date, more than 7,000 from 21 foreign countries remain hostage to Ukrainian neo-Nazis, whom the nationalists continue to hold as “human shield”.

The fate of these foreign citizens has been the subject of round-the-clock cooperation with representatives of the relevant diplomatic agencies.

 Please note that by the decision of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, foreign students evacuated from the territory of Ukraine will be able to continue their studies at Russian universities according to quotas for foreign students. To this end, the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia is already preparing notes to the embassies of the relevant foreign states.

 In addition, foreign partners express particular concern about the lack of the possibility of safe passage of ships from the ports of Ukraine due to the high mine danger created by the Kiev authorities in their internal waters and territorial sea, as well as possible provocations by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including shelling of ships from the shore.

Currently, there are more than 50 foreign vessels in Ukrainian ports, crewed by foreign citizens of Azerbaijan, Greece, Georgia, Egypt, India, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, the Philippines, Jamaica and a number of others.

Ukraine’s actions to create a mine danger violate the provisions of international humanitarian law in terms of mine installations that threaten the safety of civilian vessels of third States. The concern of the Russian side in this regard was stated on March 10 at an extraordinary session of the Council of the International Maritime Organization, which is a specialized agency of the United Nations.

 We call on the Ukrainian side to strictly comply with the norms of international humanitarian law and ensure the safe exit of foreign vessels from Ukrainian ports and the territorial sea.

We emphasize once again that the Russian Armed Forces do not pose a danger to navigation in the Azov, Black Seas, as well as other areas of the World Ocean.

 More than 9,500 temporary accommodation centres continue to operate in the regions of the Russian Federation.

A sufficient number of buses and supporting transport for the transportation of refugees are kept in constant readiness at checkpoints and temporary accommodation places. They are equipped with everything necessary for a temporary stay, hot meals are provided, mobile medical centres are deployed.

Federal executive authorities together with the subjects of Russia, various public organizations, patriotic movements have prepared more than 16,500 tons of humanitarian aid.

1,671 tons of humanitarian cargo have already been delivered to Ukraine, 212 humanitarian actions have been carried out, including 26 actions in Chernigov region, as well as in Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, during which 250 tons of basic necessities, medicines and food were transferred to the civilian population of the liberated areas.

Today, 23 humanitarian actions are being held in Kharkov, Zaporozhia, Kiev and Chernigov regions, during which 284 tons of basic necessities, including food, are being transferred to the population.

 Despite this, 34,555 people, including 3,562 children, were evacuated from the dangerous zones of various regions of Ukraine, as well as the Lugansk and Donetsk people’s republics, during the day without the participation of the Ukrainian side, and more than 223,000 people have been evacuated since the beginning of the special military operation, 50,258 of them children. The state border of the Russian Federation was crossed by 23,253 vehicles, of which 1,249 per day.

In addition, today the Russian Armed Forces ensured the safety of the movement of a humanitarian convoy from Energodar city to Zaporozhye, consisting of 13 buses, 130 private cars with 957 refugees, and also managed to evacuate more than 62,000 refugees from Sumy in Poltava direction within a day.

 As for the statement of the President of Ukraine about the impossibility of evacuation from Volnovakha and Mariupol, we explain.

The variant of evacuation from Volnovakha proposed by the Ukrainian side, due to ignorance of the true situation on the “ground”, once again puts official Kiev in an absurd position, since this locality is currently completely controlled by the units of the People’s Militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic, who are already building a peaceful life in Volnovakha.

Appropriate humanitarian measures are being carried out with the population, and none of the residents are going to leave their homes.

 About the situation in Mariupol. The city is blocked, all bridges and approaches to the city are destroyed, the main roads are mined by nationalists, and armed men walk through the streets, open fire indiscriminately, thereby forcing the civilian population to stay in their homes.

Attempts of the sappers of Donetsk People’s Republic to demine the approaches to Mariupol have not been successful, as the nationalists are firing at them intensively from various types of weapons. Unfortunately, due to the fault of the Ukrainian side, the evacuation from Izyum to Lozovaya failed. This is the route and the humanitarian corridor that the Kiev authorities themselves offered us. Traffic routes are mined, sections of the road are fired from small arms and mortars by units of the territorial defence of Ukraine on the approaches to Lozovaya.

Criminal ‘Israeli’ Regime Refusing to Hand over Bodies of Palestinian Kids

 FEB 23, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

A rights group said the criminal Zionist regime has refused to hand over the bodies of nine Palestinian children, whom it has killed since 2016.

Reporting the matter on Tuesday, Defense for Children International – Palestine [DCI] said the practice was in violation of both the international law and the principles of human rights.

The international law, which the regime was contravening by withholding the bodies, “includes an absolute prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and stipulates that parties to armed conflict must bury the dead in an honorable manner,” the DCI said.

“It falls under the policy of collective punishment practiced by the occupation against the Palestinian people, and the harm caused to the families of the martyrs as a result, amounts to collective punishment that violates international humanitarian law,” it added.

The Palestinian children were all under 18, when they were murdered by the regime under the pretext of “carrying out stabbing attacks.”

The youngest of the children, who were martyred as early as 2016 and as late as December 2021, were two 15-year-old.

The DCI called 2021 the deadliest year for Palestinian children since 2014, with ‘Israeli’ occupation forces killing as many as 76 Palestinians inside the occupied territories and the Tel Aviv-blockaded Gaza Strip.

As early as 1967, when the regime occupied huge swathes of Palestinian and other regional Arab territories, the regime started setting up cemeteries inside closed-off military zones, where it would retain the bodies of the people, who had been killed as a result of its aggression.

‘Israeli’ Regime OKs Plan for 1,500 New Illegal Settler Units in Occupied Al-Quds

Feb 4 2020

By Staff, Agencies

An ‘Israeli’ occupation committee approved a plan for the construction of 1,500 new settler units in the occupied East al-Quds, as the Zionist regime steps up its land grab and forced eviction policies in the Palestinian territories in defiance of international law.

The Tel Aviv regime’s so-called organization and building committee of the al-Quds municipality on Thursday said it had approved the plan for constructing 1,500 units in East al-Quds, the Palestinian Information Center reported.

The illegal settler units are to be built on an annexed land located between the French Hill and the Hebrew University in the holy city, and the construction will begin on an area that stretches over 150 dunums.

The new settlement scheme will include 500 rooms for Zionist students, 200 fortified rooms, several settling towers and public buildings, the report added.

Since early January, the Tel Aviv regime has approved four settlement expansion schemes, including a plan to expand the Hebrew University.

More than 600,000 Zionists occupy more than 230 settlements built since the 1967 ‘Israeli’ occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

All ‘Israeli’ settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land. The United Nations Security Council has condemned Tel Aviv’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

In addition to expanding its illegal settlements, the ‘Israeli’ entity restricts freedom of movement for Palestinians not only in and out of Palestine but also within it. Zionist settlers, backed by the military, also routinely storm the al-Aqsa mosque and provoke clashes with Palestinian worshipers.

Joint Statement of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on the International Relations Entering a New Era and the Global Sustainable Development

February 04, 2022

Source

At the invitation of President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir V. Putin visited China on 4 February 2022. The Heads of State held talks in Beijing and took part in the opening ceremony of the XXIV Olympic Winter Games.

The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, hereinafter referred to as the sides, state as follows.

Today, the world is going through momentous changes, and humanity is entering a new era of rapid development and profound transformation. It sees the development of such processes and phenomena as multipolarity, economic globalization, the advent of information society, cultural diversity, transformation of the global governance architecture and world order; there is increasing interrelation and interdependence between the States; a trend has emerged towards redistribution of power in the world; and the international community is showing a growing demand for the leadership aiming at peaceful and gradual development. At the same time, as the pandemic of the new coronavirus infection continues, the international and regional security situation is complicating and the number of global challenges and threats is growing from day to day. Some actors representing but the minority on the international scale continue to advocate unilateral approaches to addressing international issues and resort to force; they interfere in the internal affairs of other states, infringing their legitimate rights and interests, and incite contradictions, differences and confrontation, thus hampering the development and progress of mankind, against the opposition from the international community.

The sides call on all States to pursue well-being for all and, with these ends, to build dialogue and mutual trust, strengthen mutual understanding, champion such universal human values as peace, development, equality, justice, democracy and freedom, respect the rights of peoples to independently determine the development paths of their countries and the sovereignty and the security and development interests of States, to protect the United Nations-driven international architecture and the international law-based world order, seek genuine multipolarity with the United Nations and its Security Council playing a central and coordinating role, promote more democratic international relations, and ensure peace, stability and sustainable development across the world.

I

The sides share the understanding that democracy is a universal human value, rather than a privilege of a limited number of States, and that its promotion and protection is a common responsibility of the entire world community.

The sides believe that democracy is a means of citizens’ participation in the government of their country with the view to improving the well-being of population and implementing the principle of popular government. Democracy is exercised in all spheres of public life as part of a nation-wide process and reflects the interests of all the people, its will, guarantees its rights, meets its needs and protects its interests. There is no one-size-fits-all template to guide countries in establishing democracy. A nation can choose such forms and methods of implementing democracy that would best suit its particular state, based on its social and political system, its historical background, traditions and unique cultural characteristics. It is only up to the people of the country to decide whether their State is a democratic one.

The sides note that Russia and China as world powers with rich cultural and historical heritage have long-standing traditions of democracy, which rely on thousand-years of experience of development, broad popular support and consideration of the needs and interests of citizens. Russia and China guarantee their people the right to take part through various means and in various forms in the administration of the State and public life in accordance with the law. The people of both countries are certain of the way they have chosen and respect the democratic systems and traditions of other States.

The sides note that democratic principles are implemented at the global level, as well as in administration of State. Certain States’ attempts to impose their own ”democratic standards“ on other countries, to monopolize the right to assess the level of compliance with democratic criteria, to draw dividing lines based on the grounds of ideology, including by establishing exclusive blocs and alliances of convenience, prove to be nothing but flouting of democracy and go against the spirit and true values of democracy. Such attempts at hegemony pose serious threats to global and regional peace and stability and undermine the stability of the world order.

The sides believe that the advocacy of democracy and human rights must not be used to put pressure on other countries. They oppose the abuse of democratic values and interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states under the pretext of protecting democracy and human rights, and any attempts to incite divisions and confrontation in the world. The sides call on the international community to respect cultural and civilizational diversity and the rights of peoples of different countries to self-determination. They stand ready to work together with all the interested partners to promote genuine democracy.

The sides note that the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights set noble goals in the area of universal human rights, set forth fundamental principles, which all the States must comply with and observe in deeds. At the same time, as every nation has its own unique national features, history, culture, social system and level of social and economic development, universal nature of human rights should be seen through the prism of the real situation in every particular country, and human rights should be protected in accordance with the specific situation in each country and the needs of its population. Promotion and protection of human rights is a shared responsibility of the international community. The states should equally prioritize all categories of human rights and promote them in a systemic manner. The international human rights cooperation should be carried out as a dialogue between the equals involving all countries. All States must have equal access to the right to development. Interaction and cooperation on human rights matters should be based on the principle of equality of all countries and mutual respect for the sake of strengthening the international human rights architecture.

II

The sides believe that peace, development and cooperation lie at the core of the modern international system. Development is a key driver in ensuring the prosperity of the nations. The ongoing pandemic of the new coronavirus infection poses a serious challenge to the fulfilment of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is vital to enhance partnership relations for the sake of global development and make sure that the new stage of global development is defined by balance, harmony and inclusiveness.

The sides are seeking to advance their work to link the development plans for the Eurasian Economic Union and the Belt and Road Initiative with a view to intensifying practical cooperation between the EAEU and China in various areas and promoting greater interconnectedness between the Asia Pacific and Eurasian regions. The sides reaffirm their focus on building the Greater Eurasian Partnership in parallel and in coordination with the Belt and Road construction to foster the development of regional associations as well as bilateral and multilateral integration processes for the benefit of the peoples on the Eurasian continent.

The sides agreed to continue consistently intensifying practical cooperation for the sustainable development of the Arctic.

The sides will strengthen cooperation within multilateral mechanisms, including the United Nations, and encourage the international community to prioritize development issues in the global macro-policy coordination. They call on the developed countries to implement in good faith their formal commitments on development assistance, provide more resources to developing countries, address the uneven development of States, work to offset such imbalances within States, and advance global and international development cooperation. The Russian side confirms its readiness to continue working on the China-proposed Global Development Initiative, including participation in the activities of the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative under the UN auspices. In order to accelerate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the sides call on the international community to take practical steps in key areas of cooperation such as poverty reduction, food security, vaccines and epidemics control, financing for development, climate change, sustainable development, including green development, industrialization, digital economy, and infrastructure connectivity.

The sides call on the international community to create open, equal, fair and non-discriminatory conditions for scientific and technological development, to step up practical implementation of scientific and technological advances in order to identify new drivers of economic growth.

The sides call upon all countries to strengthen cooperation in sustainable transport, actively build contacts and share knowledge in the construction of transport facilities, including smart transport and sustainable transport, development and use of Arctic routes, as well as to develop other areas to support global post-epidemic recovery.

The sides are taking serious action and making an important contribution to the fight against climate change. Jointly celebrating the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, they reaffirm their commitment to this Convention as well as to the goals, principles and provisions of the Paris Agreement, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The sides work together to ensure the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement, remain committed to fulfilling the obligations they have undertaken and expect that developed countries will actually ensure the annual provision of $100 billion of climate finance to developing states. The sides oppose setting up new barriers in international trade under the pretext of fighting climate change.

The sides strongly support the development of international cooperation and exchanges in the field of biological diversity, actively participating in the relevant global governance process, and intend to jointly promote the harmonious development of humankind and nature as well as green transformation to ensure sustainable global development.

The Heads of State positively assess the effective interaction between Russia and China in the bilateral and multilateral formats focusing on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, protection of life and health of the population of the two countries and the peoples of the world. They will further increase cooperation in the development and manufacture of vaccines against the new coronavirus infection, as well as medical drugs for its treatment, and enhance collaboration in public health and modern medicine. The sides plan to strengthen coordination on epidemiological measures to ensure strong protection of health, safety and order in contacts between citizens of the two countries. The sides have commended the work of the competent authorities and regions of the two countries on implementing quarantine measures in the border areas and ensuring the stable operation of the border crossing points, and intend to consider establishing a joint mechanism for epidemic control and prevention in the border areas to jointly plan anti-epidemic measures to be taken at the border checkpoints, share information, build infrastructure and improve the efficiency of customs clearance of goods.

The sides emphasize that ascertaining the origin of the new coronavirus infection is a matter of science. Research on this topic must be based on global knowledge, and that requires cooperation among scientists from all over the world. The sides oppose politicization of this issue. The Russian side welcomes the work carried out jointly by China and WHO to identify the source of the new coronavirus infection and supports the China – WHO joint report on the matter. The sides call on the global community to jointly promote a serious scientific approach to the study of the coronavirus origin.

The Russian side supports a successful hosting by the Chinese side of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2022.

The sides highly appreciate the level of bilateral cooperation in sports and the Olympic movement and express their readiness to contribute to its further progressive development.

III

The sides are gravely concerned about serious international security challenges and believe that the fates of all nations are interconnected. No State can or should ensure its own security separately from the security of the rest of the world and at the expense of the security of other States. The international community should actively engage in global governance to ensure universal, comprehensive, indivisible and lasting security.

The sides reaffirm their strong mutual support for the protection of their core interests, state sovereignty and territorial integrity, and oppose interference by external forces in their internal affairs.

The Russian side reaffirms its support for the One-China principle, confirms that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and opposes any forms of independence of Taiwan.

Russia and China stand against attempts by external forces to undermine security and stability in their common adjacent regions, intend to counter interference by outside forces in the internal affairs of sovereign countries under any pretext, oppose colour revolutions, and will increase cooperation in the aforementioned areas.

The sides condemn terrorism in all its manifestations, promote the idea of creating a single global anti-terrorism front, with the United Nations playing a central role, advocate stronger political coordination and constructive engagement in multilateral counterterrorism efforts. The sides oppose politicization of the issues of combating terrorism and their use as instruments of policy of double standards, condemn the practice of interference in the internal affairs of other States for geopolitical purposes through the use of terrorist and extremist groups as well as under the guise of combating international terrorism and extremism.

The sides believe that certain States, military and political alliances and coalitions seek to obtain, directly or indirectly, unilateral military advantages to the detriment of the security of others, including by employing unfair competition practices, intensify geopolitical rivalry, fuel antagonism and confrontation, and seriously undermine the international security order and global strategic stability. The sides oppose further enlargement of NATO and call on the North Atlantic Alliance to abandon its ideologized cold war approaches, to respect the sovereignty, security and interests of other countries, the diversity of their civilizational, cultural and historical backgrounds, and to exercise a fair and objective attitude towards the peaceful development of other States. The sides stand against the formation of closed bloc structures and opposing camps in the Asia-Pacific region and remain highly vigilant about the negative impact of the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy on peace and stability in the region. Russia and China have made consistent efforts to build an equitable, open and inclusive security system in the Asia-Pacific Region (APR) that is not directed against third countries and that promotes peace, stability and prosperity.

The sides welcome the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapons States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races and believe that all nuclear-weapons States should abandon the cold war mentality and zero-sum games, reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their national security policies, withdraw nuclear weapons deployed abroad, eliminate the unrestricted development of global anti-ballistic missile defense (ABM) system, and take effective steps to reduce the risks of nuclear wars and any armed conflicts between countries with military nuclear capabilities.

The sides reaffirm that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is the cornerstone of the international disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation system, an important part of the post-war international security system, and plays an indispensable role in world peace and development. The international community should promote the balanced implementation of the three pillars of the Treaty and work together to protect the credibility, effectiveness and the universal nature of the instrument.

The sides are seriously concerned about the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom (AUKUS), which provides for deeper cooperation between its members in areas involving strategic stability, in particular their decision to initiate cooperation in the field of nuclear-powered submarines. Russia and China believe that such actions are contrary to the objectives of security and sustainable development of the Asia-Pacific region, increase the danger of an arms race in the region, and pose serious risks of nuclear proliferation. The sides strongly condemn such moves and call on AUKUS participants to fulfil their nuclear and missile non-proliferation commitments in good faith and to work together to safeguard peace, stability, and development in the region.

Japan’s plans to release nuclear contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean and the potential environmental impact of such actions are of deep concern to the sides. The sides emphasize that the disposal of nuclear contaminated water should be handled with responsibility and carried out in a proper manner based on arrangements between the Japanese side and neighbouring States, other interested parties, and relevant international agencies while ensuring transparency, scientific reasoning, and in accordance with international law.

The sides believe that the U.S. withdrawal from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, the acceleration of research and the development of intermediate-range and shorter-range ground-based missiles and the desire to deploy them in the Asia-Pacific and European regions, as well as their transfer to the allies, entail an increase in tension and distrust, increase risks to international and regional security, lead to the weakening of international non-proliferation and arms control system, undermining global strategic stability. The sided call on the United States to respond positively to the Russian initiative and abandon its plans to deploy intermediate-range and shorter-range ground-based missiles in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. The sides will continue to maintain contacts and strengthen coordination on this issue.

The Chinese side is sympathetic to and supports the proposals put forward by the Russian Federation to create long-term legally binding security guarantees in Europe.

The sides note that the denunciation by the United States of a number of important international arms control agreements has an extremely negative impact on international and regional security and stability. The sides express concern over the advancement of U.S. plans to develop global missile defence and deploy its elements in various regions of the world, combined with capacity building of high-precision non-nuclear weapons for disarming strikes and other strategic objectives. The sides stress the importance of the peaceful uses of outer space, strongly support the central role of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in promoting international cooperation, maintaining and developing international space law and regulation in the field of space activities. Russia and China will continue to increase cooperation on such matters of mutual interest as the long-term sustainability of space activities and the development and use of space resources. The sides oppose attempts by some States to turn outer space into an arena of armed confrontation and reiterate their intention to make all necessary efforts to prevent the weaponization of space and an arms race in outer space. They will counteract activities aimed at achieving military superiority in space and using it for combat operations. The sides affirm the need for the early launch of negotiations to conclude a legally binding multilateral instrument based on the Russian-Chinese draft treaty on the prevention of placement of weapons in outer space and the use or threat of force against space objects that would provide fundamental and reliable guarantees against an arms race and the weaponization of outer space.

Russia and China emphasize that appropriate transparency and confidence-building measures, including an international initiative/political commitment not to be the first to place weapons in space, can also contribute to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space, but such measures should complement and not substitute the effective legally binding regime governing space activities.

The sides reaffirm their belief that the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BWC) is an essential pillar of international peace and security. Russia and China underscore their determination to preserve the credibility and effectiveness of the Convention.

The sides affirm the need to fully respect and further strengthen the BWC, including by institutionalizing it, strengthening its mechanisms, and adopting a legally binding Protocol to the Convention with an effective verification mechanism, as well as through regular consultation and cooperation in addressing any issues related to the implementation of the Convention.

The sides emphasize that domestic and foreign bioweapons activities by the United States and its allies raise serious concerns and questions for the international community regarding their compliance with the BWC. The sides share the view that such activities pose a serious threat to the national security of the Russian Federation and China and are detrimental to the security of the respective regions. The sides call on the U.S. and its allies to act in an open, transparent, and responsible manner by properly reporting on their military biological activities conducted overseas and on their national territory, and by supporting the resumption of negotiations on a legally binding BWC Protocol with an effective verification mechanism.

The sides, reaffirming their commitment to the goal of a world free of chemical weapons, call upon all parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention to work together to uphold its credibility and effectiveness. Russia and China are deeply concerned about the politicization of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and call on all of its members to strengthen solidarity and cooperation and protect the tradition of consensual decision-making. Russia and China insist that the United States, as the sole State Party to the Convention that has not yet completed the process of eliminating chemical weapons, accelerate the elimination of its stockpiles of chemical weapons. The sides emphasize the importance of balancing the non-proliferation obligations of states with the interests of legitimate international cooperation in the use of advanced technology and related materials and equipment for peaceful purposes. The sides note the resolution entitled ”Promoting international Cooperation on Peaceful Uses in the Context of International Security“ adopted at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly on the initiative of China and co‑sponsored by Russia, and look forward to its consistent implementation in accordance with the goals set forth therein.

The sides attach great importance to the issues of governance in the field of artificial intelligence. The sides are ready to strengthen dialogue and contacts on artificial intelligence.

The sides reiterate their readiness to deepen cooperation in the field of international information security and to contribute to building an open, secure, sustainable and accessible ICT environment. The sides emphasize that the principles of the non-use of force, respect for national sovereignty and fundamental human rights and freedoms, and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States, as enshrined in the UN Charter, are applicable to the information space. Russia and China reaffirm the key role of the UN in responding to threats to international information security and express their support for the Organization in developing new norms of conduct of states in this area.

The sides welcome the implementation of the global negotiation process on international information security within a single mechanism and support in this context the work of the UN Open-ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) 2021–2025 (OEWG) and express their willingness to speak with one voice within it. The sides consider it necessary to consolidate the efforts of the international community to develop new norms of responsible behaviour of States, including legal ones, as well as a universal international legal instrument regulating the activities of States in the field of ICT. The sides believe that the Global Initiative on Data Security, proposed by the Chinese side and supported, in principle, by the Russian side, provides a basis for the Working Group to discuss and elaborate responses to data security threats and other threats to international information security.

The sides reiterate their support of United Nations General Assembly resolutions 74/247 and 75/282, support the work of the relevant Ad Hoc Committee of Governmental Experts, facilitate the negotiations within the United Nations for the elaboration of an international convention on countering the use of ICTs for criminal purposes. The sides encourage constructive participation of all sides in the negotiations in order to agree as soon as possible on a credible, universal, and comprehensive convention and provide it to the United Nations General Assembly at its 78th session in strict compliance with resolution 75/282. For these purposes, Russia and China have presented a joint draft convention as a basis for negotiations.

The sides support the internationalization of Internet governance, advocate equal rights to its governance, believe that any attempts to limit their sovereign right to regulate national segments of the Internet and ensure their security are unacceptable, are interested in greater participation of the International Telecommunication Union in addressing these issues.

The sides intend to deepen bilateral cooperation in international information security on the basis of the relevant 2015 intergovernmental agreement. To this end, the sides have agreed to adopt in the near future a plan for cooperation between Russia and China in this area.

IV

The sides underline that Russia and China, as world powers and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, intend to firmly adhere to moral principles and accept their responsibility, strongly advocate the international system with the central coordinating role of the United Nations in international affairs, defend the world order based on international law, including the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, advance multipolarity and promote the democratization of international relations, together create an even more prospering, stable, and just world, jointly build international relations of a new type.

The Russian side notes the significance of the concept of constructing a ”community of common destiny for mankind“ proposed by the Chinese side to ensure greater solidarity of the international community and consolidation of efforts in responding to common challenges. The Chinese side notes the significance of the efforts taken by the Russian side to establish a just multipolar system of international relations.

The sides intend to strongly uphold the outcomes of the Second World War and the existing post-war world order, defend the authority of the United Nations and justice in international relations, resist attempts to deny, distort, and falsify the history of the Second World War.

In order to prevent the recurrence of the tragedy of the world war, the sides will strongly condemn actions aimed at denying the responsibility for atrocities of Nazi aggressors, militarist invaders, and their accomplices, besmirch and tarnish the honour of the victorious countries.

The sides call for the establishment of a new kind of relationships between world powers on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and mutually beneficial cooperation. They reaffirm that the new inter-State relations between Russia and China are superior to political and military alliances of the Cold War era. Friendship between the two States has no limits, there are no ”forbidden“ areas of cooperation, strengthening of bilateral strategic cooperation is neither aimed against third countries nor affected by the changing international environment and circumstantial changes in third countries.

The sides reiterate the need for consolidation, not division of the international community, the need for cooperation, not confrontation. The sides oppose the return of international relations to the state of confrontation between major powers, when the weak fall prey to the strong. The sides intend to resist attempts to substitute universally recognized formats and mechanisms that are consistent with international law for rules elaborated in private by certain nations or blocs of nations, and are against addressing international problems indirectly and without consensus, oppose power politics, bullying, unilateral sanctions, and extraterritorial application of jurisdiction, as well as the abuse of export control policies, and support trade facilitation in line with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The sides reaffirmed their intention to strengthen foreign policy coordination, pursue true multilateralism, strengthen cooperation on multilateral platforms, defend common interests, support the international and regional balance of power, and improve global governance.

The sides support and defend the multilateral trade system based on the central role of the World Trade Organization (WTO), take an active part in the WTO reform, opposing unilateral approaches and protectionism. The sides are ready to strengthen dialogue between partners and coordinate positions on trade and economic issues of common concern, contribute to ensuring the sustainable and stable operation of global and regional value chains, promote a more open, inclusive, transparent, non-discriminatory system of international trade and economic rules.

The sides support the G20 format as an important forum for discussing international economic cooperation issues and anti-crisis response measures, jointly promote the invigorated spirit of solidarity and cooperation within the G20, support the leading role of the association in such areas as the international fight against epidemics, world economic recovery, inclusive sustainable development, improving the global economic governance system in a fair and rational manner to collectively address global challenges.

The sides support the deepened strategic partnership within BRICS, promote the expanded cooperation in three main areas: politics and security, economy and finance, and humanitarian exchanges. In particular, Russia and China intend to encourage interaction in the fields of public health, digital economy, science, innovation and technology, including artificial intelligence technologies, as well as the increased coordination between BRICS countries on international platforms. The sides strive to further strengthen the BRICS Plus/Outreach format as an effective mechanism of dialogue with regional integration associations and organizations of developing countries and States with emerging markets.

The Russian side will fully support the Chinese side chairing the association in 2022, and assist in the fruitful holding of the XIV BRICS summit.

Russia and China aim to comprehensively strengthen the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and further enhance its role in shaping a polycentric world order based on the universally recognized principles of international law, multilateralism, equal, joint, indivisible, comprehensive and sustainable security.

They consider it important to consistently implement the agreements on improved mechanisms to counter challenges and threats to the security of SCO member states and, in the context of addressing this task, advocate expanded functionality of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure.

The sides will contribute to imparting a new quality and dynamics to the economic interaction between the SCO member States in the fields of trade, manufacturing, transport, energy, finance, investment, agriculture, customs, telecommunications, innovation and other areas of mutual interest, including through the use of advanced, resource-saving, energy efficient and ”green“ technologies.

The sides note the fruitful interaction within the SCO under the 2009 Agreement between the Governments of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization member States on cooperation in the field of international information security, as well as within the specialized Group of Experts. In this context, they welcome the adoption of the SCO Joint Action Plan on Ensuring International Information Security for 2022–2023 by the Council of Heads of State of SCO Member States on September 17, 2021 in Dushanbe.

Russia and China proceed from the ever-increasing importance of cultural and humanitarian cooperation for the progressive development of the SCO. In order to strengthen mutual understanding between the people of the SCO member States, they will continue to effectively foster interaction in such areas as cultural ties, education, science and technology, healthcare, environmental protection, tourism, people-to-people contacts, sports.

Russia and China will continue to work to strengthen the role of APEC as the leading platform for multilateral dialogue on economic issues in the Asia-Pacific region. The sides intend to step up coordinated action to successfully implement the ”Putrajaya guidelines for the development of APEC until 2040“ with a focus on creating a free, open, fair, non-discriminatory, transparent and predictable trade and investment environment in the region. Particular emphasis will be placed on the fight against the novel coronavirus infection pandemic and economic recovery, digitalization of a wide range of different spheres of life, economic growth in remote territories and the establishment of interaction between APEC and other regional multilateral associations with a similar agenda.

The sides intend to develop cooperation within the ”Russia-India-China“ format, as well as to strengthen interaction on such venues as the East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum on Security, Meeting of Defense Ministers of the ASEAN Member States and Dialogue Partners. Russia and China support ASEAN’s central role in developing cooperation in East Asia, continue to increase coordination on deepened cooperation with ASEAN, and jointly promote cooperation in the areas of public health, sustainable development, combating terrorism and countering transnational crime. The sides intend to continue to work in the interest of a strengthened role of ASEAN as a key element of the regional architecture.

The Year of the Tiger Starts with a Sino-Russian Bang

February 3, 2022

Pepe Escobar

Independent geopolitical analyst, writer and journalist

The Year of the Black Water Tiger will start, for all practical purposes, with a Beijing bang this Friday, as Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, after a live meeting before the initial ceremony of the Winter Olympics, will issue a joint statement on international relations.

That will represent a crucial move in the Eurasia vs. NATOstan chessboard, as the Anglo-American axis is increasingly bogged down in Desperation Row: after all, “Russian aggression” stubbornly refuses to materialize.

After an interminable wait arguably due to the lack of functionaries properly equipped to write an intelligible letter, the US/NATO combo finally concocted a predictable, jargon-drenched bureaucratese non-response “response” to the Russian demands of security guarantees.

The contents were leaked to a Spanish newspaper, a full member of NATOstan media. The leaker, according to Brussels sources, may be in Kiev by now. The Pentagon, in damage control mode, rushed to assert, “We didn’t do it”. The State Dept. said, “it’s authentic.”

Even before the leak of the non-response “response”, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was forced to send messages to all NATO foreign ministers, including US Secretary Blinken, asking how they understand the principle of indivisibility of security – if they actually do.

Lavrov was extremely specific: “I am referring to our demands that everyone faithfully implement the agreements on the indivisibility of security that were reached within the OSCE in 1999 in Istanbul and in 2010 in Astana. These agreements provide not only for the freedom to choose alliances, but also make this freedom conditional on the need to avoid any steps that will strengthen the security of any state at the expense of infringing on the security of others.”

Lavrov hit the heart of the matter when he stressed, “our Western colleagues are not simply trying to ignore this key principle of international law agreed in the Euro-Atlantic space, but to completely forget it.”

Lavrov also made it very clear “we will not allow this topic to be ‘wrapped up’. We will insist on a honest conversation and an explanation of why the West does not want to fulfill its obligations at all or exclusively, selectively, and in its favor.”

Crucially, China fully supports Russian demands for security guarantees in Europe, and fully agrees that the security of one state cannot be ensured by inflicting damage on another state.

This is as serious as it gets: the US/NATO combo are bent on smashing two crucial treaties that directly concern European security, and they think they can get away with it because there is less than zero discussion about the content and its implications across NATOstan media.

Western public opinion remains absolutely clueless. The only narrative, hammered 24/7, is “Russian aggression” – by the way duly emphasized in NATO’s non-response “response”.

Wanna check our military-technical gear?

For the umpteenth time Moscow made it very clear it’s not going to make any concessions on the security demands just because the Empire of Chaos keeps threatening – what else – extra harsh sanctions, the sole imperial “policy” short of outright bombing.

The new sanctions package, anyway, is ready to go for quite a while now, arguably capable of cutting Moscow off from the Western financial system and/or casino, and targeting, among others, Sberbank, VTB, Gazprombank and Alfa-Bank.

And that brings us to what’s Moscow going to do next – considering the predictable “extremely negative attitude” (Lavrov) from NATOstan. Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko had already hinted NATO knows perfectly well what’s coming, even before the non-response “response”:

“NATO knows perfectly well what kind of military-technical measures may follow from Russia. We make no secret of our possibilities and are acting very transparently.”

Still the American “partners” are not listening. The Russians remain unfazed. Grushko framed it in realpolitik terms: concrete measures will depend on the “military potentials” that could be used against Russia. That’s code for what sort of nuclear weapons will be deployed in Eastern Europe, and what sort of lethal equipment will keep being unloaded in Ukraine.

In fact Ukraine – or country 404, per Andrei Martyanov’s indelible definition – is just a lowly pawn in their (imperial) game. Adding to Kiev’s misery on all fronts, the head of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Alexei Danilov, all but gave away the (regional) game.

In an interview to AP, Danilov said that “the Minsk Agreements can create chaos”; he admitted that Kiev totally lost the war in 2014/15 and then signed the Minsk Agreements “under threat of Russian arms” (false: Kiev was soundly defeated by the Donbass militias); but most of all he admitted Kiev never had any intention of fulfilling the Minsk Agreements.

So Kiev, essentially, is breaking international law: the Minsk Agreements are guaranteed by the UN Security Council resolution 2022 (2015), adopted unanimously. Even the US, UK and France voted “Yes”. So breaking the law is not hard to do, as long as you’re enabled by “big powers”.

And on that invisible “Russian aggression”, well, even Danilov can’t see “the readiness of Russian forces near the border for an invasion, which will take three to seven days.”

Bring on the Dancing Horses

None of the above alters the fundamental fact that the USUK combo – plus the proverbial NATO chihuahuas Poland and the Baltics – are spinning around like mad trying to provoke a war. And the only way to do it is to Release the False Flags. It may be sometime in February, it may be during the Beijing Olympics, it may be before the onset of Spring. But they will come. And the Russians are ready.

The preamble has been staged straight from Monty Python Flying Circus – complete with Crash Test Dummy, a.k.a. POTUS yelling to comedian Zelensky that, in a trashy Mongol revival, “Kiev will be sacked” (to the sound of Bring On the Dancing Horses?); an outraged Zelensky telling POTUS to, c’mon man, back off; and the White House swearing that the US has gamed 18 scenarios for the “Russian invasion” (Lavrov: 17 were written by the intel alphabet soup, the 18th by the State Dept.)

Cue to non-stop, frantic weaponizing of country 404 – everything from Javelins to MANPADs to overpriced Blackwater/Academi-tinged waves of “advisers”.

Switching away from farce, not to mention misguided scenarios starting from the faulty premise of an “invasion”, the only rational move Moscow may be contemplating is to de facto recognize the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, and send in a contingent of peacekeepers.

That, of course, would enrage the neo-con infested War Inc. matrix to intergalactic paroxysm, as it would nullify all those elaborate psyops geared to instill the Fear of God on the unsuspecting victims of the Remixed Khanate of the Golden Horde, burning and looting all the way to…the Hungarian plains?

Then there’s the tricky question of how to de-Nazify Western Ukraine: that will be a strictly Ukrainian matter, with zero Russian involvement.

The ghost of Mackinder is in total freak out mode contemplating in impotence the imperial brilliance of deciding to fight a two-front war against the Russia-China strategic partnership. At least there’s Monty Python to the rescue: the Ministry of Silly Walks has been gloriously revived as the Ministry of Silly Strategies.

Pride of place goes to the phone call placed by Little Blinkie to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi – which contains all the elements of a brilliant comic sketch. It stars with the combo behind that cipher, “Biden”, thinking that the Beijing leadership could influence Putin to not exercise “Russian aggression” against 404. On the sidelines, perhaps there could be some discussion about the “Indo-Pacific” racket.

The plot went downhill when once again Wang Yi – remember Alaska? – made shark fin’s soup out of Blinkie. The key take aways: China totally supports Russia; it’s the US that is destabilizing Europe; and were more sanctions to come, Europe will pay a terrible price, not Russia, which of course can count on a serious helping hand from China.

Now compare it with the phone call between Putin and Macron. It was, to start with, cordial. They discussed “brain-dead” (copyright Macron) NATO. They discussed the proverbial Anglo-Saxon shenanigans. They even discussed the possibility of forming a pan-European group – a sort of anti-AUKUS – with Russia included, curbing the influence of the Five Eyes and bent on avoiding by all means a war in European soil. For the moment, it’s all talk. But the game-changing seeds are all there.

Misguided scenarios insist that Putin skillfully exploited the imperial obsession with the rise and rise of China to re-establish Russia’s sphere of influence. Nonsense. The sphere was always there – and won’t move. The difference is Moscow finally got fed up with the heavy symbolism permeating the unresolved 404 mess: the intermingling of raw Russophobia in Washington and containment/encirclement NATO knocking at the door.

Metaphorically, this may turn out to be the Year of two – sanctioned – Black Water Tigers, one Chinese, one Siberian. They will be harassed non-stop by the headless eagle, blind to its own irreversible decay and always resorting to the serial Hail Mary passes of the only “policy” it knows.

The ultimate danger – especially for the European minions – is that the headless eagle will never let go of its former “indispensable” status without provoking another devastating war. In European soil. Still the tigers persist: in Beijing, before the Games commence, they will be taking yet another step to irreversibly bury the “rules-based international order”.

Ten Things You Should Know about Amnesty International Report on Apartheid Israel

February 2, 2022

Amnesty slammed Israel for committing ‘the crime of apartheid’ in new report. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Romana Rubeo

On Tuesday, February 1, London-based international human rights group Amnesty International (AI) released an extraordinary report, which labels Israel an ‘apartheid state’. The report calls for Israel to be held accountable for its practices against Palestinians.

The 280-page document, entitled ‘Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity’, outlines how the Israeli state segregates and controls Palestinians in order to maintain Jewish hegemony.

Though to be fully appreciated, the AI document must be read in its entirety, below are the top ten points raised by the international human rights group.

1. What is Apartheid?

After defining “apartheid” as “a violation of public international law, a grave violation of internationally protected human rights and a crime against humanity under international criminal law”, Amnesty, in its report, describes Israel’s “intent to oppress and dominate Palestinians:

“Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has pursued an explicit policy of establishing and maintaining a Jewish demographic hegemony and maximizing its control over land to benefit Jewish Israelis while minimizing the number of Palestinians and restricting their rights and obstructing their ability to challenge this dispossession.”

2. Geographic Scope

According to Amnesty, the system of segregation “extended beyond the (so-called) Green Line to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which (Israel) has occupied” in 1967. 

“Today, all territories controlled by Israel continue to be administered with the purpose of benefiting Jewish Israelis to the detriment of Palestinians, while Palestinian refugees continue to be excluded.”

“Although Israel’s system of apartheid manifests itself in different ways in the various areas under its effective control,” the report reads, “it consistently has the same purpose of oppressing and dominating Palestinians for the benefit of Jewish Israelis, who are privileged under Israeli civil law regardless of where they reside.” 

3. Treatment of Palestinians

Israel should be labeled an apartheid state because “Palestinians are treated by the Israeli state differently based on its consideration of them as having a racialized non-Jewish, Arab status”.

4. Territorial Fragmentation, Segregation, Jewish Settlements

Starting in 1948, Israel pursued a policy of territorial fragmentation and legal segregation, Amnesty said in its report. 

“(Israel) chose to coerce Palestinians into enclaves within the State of Israel and, following their military occupation in 1967, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They have appropriated the vast majority of Palestinians’ land and natural resources. They have introduced laws, policies and practices that systematically and cruelly discriminate against Palestinians, leaving them fragmented geographically and politically, in a constant state of fear and insecurity, and often impoverished.”

“Meanwhile, Israel’s leaders have opted to systemically privilege Jewish citizens in law and in practice through the distribution of land and resources, resulting in their relative wealth and well-being at the expense of Palestinians. They have steadily expanded Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian territory in violation of international law,” the report adds.

5. Legal Segregation

Amnesty describes the way “Israel has used military rule as a key tool to establish its system of oppression and domination over Palestinians across both sides of the Green Line, applying it over different groups of Palestinians in Israel and the OPT almost continuously since 1948”.

“Israel maintains its system of fragmentation and segregation through different legal regimes that ensure the denial of nationality and status to Palestinians, violate their right to family unification and return to their country and their homes, and severely restrict freedom of movement based on legal status.”

6. Restrictions of Movement and Apartheid Wall

Amnesty denounces the closure system imposed on Palestinians within the Occupied Territories and between the OPT and Israel, “gradually subjecting millions of Palestinians who live in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip to ever more stringent restrictions on movement based on their legal status. These restrictions are another tool through which Israel segregates Palestinians into separate enclaves, isolates them from each other and the world, and ultimately enforces its domination.”

Moreover, the report highlights how “the 700km fence/wall, which Israel continues building mostly illegally on Palestinian land inside the occupied West Bank, has isolated 38 Palestinian localities in the West Bank (…) and has trapped them in enclaves known as ‘seam zones’”.

7. Political Rights

According to Amnesty, “Israel’s version of democracy overwhelmingly privileges political participation by Jewish Israelis.”

“Limitations on the right of Palestinian citizens of Israel to participate in elections are accompanied by other infringements of their civil and political rights that limit the extent to which they can participate in the political and social life of Israel. This has included racialized policing of protests, mass arbitrary arrests and the use of unlawful force against protesters during demonstrations against Israeli repression in both Israel and the OPT.” 

8. Dispossession of Palestinian Land

Amnesty illustrates how, since its creation on the ruins of Palestinian towns and villages, “the Israeli state has enforced massive and cruel land seizures to dispossess and exclude Palestinians from their land and homes.”

Suffice it to say, “in 1948, Jewish individuals and institutions owned around 6.5% of Mandate Palestine, while Palestinians owned about 90% of the privately owned land there. Within just over 70 years the situation has been reversed.”

Amnesty also mentions Israeli laws and regulations currently implemented by Israeli authorities to carry out demolitions of Palestinian property in East Jerusalem, including the Absentees’ Property Law of 1950 and the Administrative Matters Law.

“In Israel and East Jerusalem, (the Israeli government) transferred from the state to Jewish national organizations and institutions, many of which serve Jews only, while the legal title of the land remained in the state’s name.”

9. Crimes against Humanity

Amnesty’s report analyzes three major categories of crimes against humanity, that’s to say, the “inhuman and inhumane acts as proscribed, respectively, by the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute”.

First, it condemns the forcible transfer of Palestinians, explaining that, “since 1948, Israel has demolished tens of thousands of Palestinian homes and other properties across all areas under its jurisdiction and effective control.”

Second, the report addresses the issues of administrative detention, torture and other ill-treatment.

“Israel’s systematic use (of the administrative detention) against Palestinians indicates that it is used to persecute Palestinians, rather than as an extraordinary and selective security measure.” 

The report also illustrates how “Israeli courts have admitted evidence obtained through torture of Palestinians, accepting the justification of ‘necessity’. Prompt, thorough and impartial investigations by Israeli authorities into allegations by Palestinians that they have been tortured are extremely rare, effectively giving state endorsement to the crime of torture.”

Third, Amnesty strongly condemns Israel’s unlawful killings and injuries, which were “perpetrated outside the context of armed conflict during Israeli law enforcement activities in the OPT, including during the suppression of protests, arrest raids, when enforcing travel and movement restrictions, and conducting house and search operations.”

10. Recommendations

Amnesty states in its report that “dismantling this cruel system of apartheid is essential for the millions of Palestinians who continue to live in Israel and the OPT, as well as for the return of Palestinian refugees who remain displaced in neighbouring countries”.

Also, it urges the need for “the international community to urgently and drastically change its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and recognize the full extent of the crimes that Israel perpetrates against the Palestinian people.”

Amnesty directly calls on “the USA, the European Union and its member states and the UK” to “recognize that Israel is committing the crime of apartheid and other international crimes, and use all political and diplomatic tools to ensure Israeli authorities implement the recommendations outlined in this report and review any cooperation and activities with Israel to ensure that these do not contribute to maintaining the system of apartheid”.

Finally, Amnesty calls on the International Criminal Court (ICC) “to consider the applicability of the crime against humanity of apartheid within its current formal investigation,” and on the United Nations Security Council to “impose targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes, against Israeli officials most implicated in the crime of apartheid, and a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel.”

(Read the full report here: Amnesty International – Apartheid Israel)

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Romana Rubeo is an Italian writer and the managing editor of The Palestine Chronicle. Her articles appeared in many online newspapers and academic journals. She holds a Master’s Degree in Foreign Languages and Literature and specializes in audio-visual and journalism translation.

Why is Israel Amending Its Open-Fire Policy: Three Possible Answers

December 29, 2021

Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. (Photo: UNRWA)

By Ramzy Baroud

At the outset, the Israeli military decision to revise its open-fire policies in the occupied West Bank seems puzzling. What would be the logic of giving Israeli soldiers the space to shoot more Palestinians when existing army manuals had already granted them near-total immunity and little legal accountability?

The military’s new rules now allow Isreali soldiers to shoot, even kill, fleeing Palestinian youngsters with live ammunition for allegedly throwing rocks at Israeli ‘civilian’ cars. This also applies to situations where the alleged Palestinian ‘attackers’ are not holding rocks at the time of the shooting.

The reference to ‘civilians’ in the revised army manual applies to armed Israeli Jewish settlers who have colonized the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in defiance of international law and Palestinian sovereignty. These settlers, who often operate as paramilitary forces in direct coordination with the Israeli army, endanger the lives of their own families by residing on occupied Palestinian land. Per Israel’s twisted standards, these violent Israelis, who have killed and wounded numerous Palestinians throughout the years, are ‘civilians’ in need of protection from rock-throwing Palestinian ‘assailants’.

In Israel, throwing rocks is a “serious crime” and Palestinians who throw rocks are “criminals”, according to Liron Libman, Israel’s former chief military prosecutor, commenting on the new rules. For Israelis, there is little disagreement on these assertions, even by those who are questioning the legality of the new rules. The point of contention, according to Libman and others, is that “a person who is fleeing does not present a threat,” though, according to Libman himself, “the new policy could potentially be justified,” The Times of Israel reported.

The ‘debate’ on the new open-fire policy in Israeli media, gives one the false impression that something fundamental has changed in the Israeli army’s relationship with occupied Palestinians. This is not the case at all. There are numerous, daily examples in which Palestinians, including children, are shot and killed with impunity, whether throwing rocks or not, going to school or merely protesting the illegal confiscation of their land by the Israeli military or armed settlers.

In the Palestinian village of Beita, in the northern occupied West Bank, eight unarmed Palestinians have been killed since May. This small village has been the scene of regular demonstrations against Jewish settlement expansion and against the illegal settlement outpost of Eviatar, in the Palestinian rural area of Mount Sabih. The victims include Muhammad Ali Khabisa, the 28-year-old father of an eight-month-old child, who was shot dead last September.

Though the new rules have placed much emphasis on the status of the supposed Israeli victims, labeling them ‘civilians’, in practice, the Israeli military has used the exact same standard to shoot, maim and kill Palestinian alleged rock-throwers, even when armed settlers are not present.

A famous case, in 2015, involved the killing of a 17-year-old Palestinian teenager, Mohammad Kosba, at the hands of an Israeli army colonel, Yisrael Shomer. The latter alleged that Kosba had thrown a rock at his car. Subsequently, Shomer chased down the Palestinian teenager and shot him in the back, killing him.

The Israeli officer was “censored” for his conduct, not for killing the boy, but for not stopping “in order to aim properly,” according to The Times of Israel. The Israeli military chief prosecutor at the time concluded that “Shomer’s use of deadly force under the framework of the arrest protocol was justified from the circumstances of the incident.”

Israel’s disregard of international law in its targeting of Palestinians is not a secret. Israeli and international human rights groups have repeatedly condemned the Israeli army’s inhumane and barbaric behavior in the occupied territories.

In an extensive report as early as 2014, Amnesty International condemned Israel’s “callous disregard for human life by killing dozens of Palestinian civilians, including children, in the occupied West Bank” over the years. AI said that such killings had taken place “with near total impunity.”

“The frequency and persistence of arbitrary and abusive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers and police officers – and the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators – suggests that it is carried out as a matter of policy,” the Amnesty report read.

Even Israel’s own rights group, B’tselem, concurs. The organization decried the Israeli army’s “shoot-to-kill policy”, which is also applied to “people who have already been ‘neutralized’”. Indeed, in the case of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, a Palestinian man who was shot point-blank in Al-Khalil (Hebron), by an Israeli military medic, Elor Azaria, in 2016, was not only ‘neutralized’ but also unconscious.

According to B’tselem, Israeli “soldiers and police officers have become judge, jury and executioner”. With this tragic and sinister trajectory in mind, one is left to wonder why the Israeli army would amend its open-fire policy at this particular moment. There are three possible answers:

One, the Israeli government and army are anticipating a surge in Palestinian popular resistance in the coming months, possibly as a result of the massive expansion of illegal settlements and forced evictions in occupied East Jerusalem.

Two, by perfectly aligning the existing open-fire policy with the aggressive shoot-to-kill military practice already in place, Israeli courts would no longer have to contend with any legal repercussions for killing Palestinians, including children, regardless of the circumstances of their murders.

Finally, the revised rules would allow Israel to make a case for itself in response to the open investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC), concerning human rights violations and war crimes in occupied Palestine. Israel’s Attorney General will now argue that no war crimes are taking place in Palestine since the killing of Palestinians is consistent with Israel’s own military conduct and judicial system. Since the ICC is investigating alleged war criminals, not the government itself, Israel hopes that it can spare its own murderers from having to contend with the legal expectations of the Court.

Though the timing of the Israeli military decision to amend its open-fire policy may appear sudden and without much context, the decision is still ominous, nonetheless. When a country’s military decides that shooting a child in the back without any proof that the alleged ‘criminal’ posed any danger whatsoever is a legal act, the international community must take notice.

It is true that Israel operates outside the minimum standards of international and humanitarian laws, but it is the responsibility of the international community to protect Palestinians, whose lives remain precious even if Israel disagrees.

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

Related

Exit Nord Stream 2, Enter Power of Siberia 2

THURSDAY 23 DEC 21

Military superpower Russia, having had enough of U.S./NATO bullying, is now dictating the terms of a new arrangement.

PEPE ESCOBAR 

Coming straight from President Putin, it did sound like a bolt from the sky:

“We need long-term legally binding guarantees even if we know they cannot be trusted, as the U.S. frequently withdraws from treaties that become uninteresting to them. But it’s something, not just verbal assurances.”

And that’s how Russia-U.S. relations come to the definitive crunch – after an interminable series of polite red alerts coming from Moscow.

Putin once again had to specify that Russia is looking for “indivisible, equitable security” – a principle established since Helsinki in 1975 – even though he no longer sees the U.S. as a dependable “partner”, that diplomatically nicety so debased by the Empire since the end of the USSR.

The “frequently withdrawing from treaties” passage can easily be referred to as Washington in 2002 under Bush Jr. pulling out of the ABM treaty signed between the U.S. and the USSR in 1972. Or it could be referred to as the U.S. under Trump destroying the JCPOA signed with Iran and guaranteed by the UN. Precedents abound.

Putin was once again exercising the Taoist patience so characteristic of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: explaining the obvious not only to a Russian but also a global audience. The Global South may easily understand this reference; “When international law and the UN Charter interfere, they [the U.S.] declare it all obsolete and unnecessary.”

Earlier, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko had been uncommonly assertive – leaving nothing for the imagination:

“We just make it clear that we are ready to talk about switching over from a military or a military-technical scenario to a political process that will strengthen the security of all countries in the area of the OCSE, Euro-Atlantic and Eurasia. If that doesn’t work out, we signaled to them [NATO] that we will also move over to creating counter threats, but it will then be too late to ask us why we made these decisions and why we deployed these systems.”

So in the end it comes down to Europeans facing “the prospect of turning the continent into a field of military confrontation.” That will be the inevitable consequence of a NATO “decision” actually decided in Washington.

Incidentally: any possible, future “counter threats” will be coordinated between Russia and China.

Mr. Zircon is on the line, Sir

Every sentient being from Atlanticist shores to Eurasian steppes by now knows the content of the Russian draft agreements on security guarantees presented to the Americans, as detailed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov.

Key provisions include no further NATO expansion; no Ukraine admission; no NATO shenanigans in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Transcaucasia and Central Asia; Russia and NATO agreeing not to deploy intermediate and short-range missiles in areas from where they can hit each other’s territory; establishment of hotlines; and the NATO-Russia Council actively involved in resolving disputes.

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs extensively reiterated that the Americans received “detailed explanations of the logic of the Russian approach”, so the ball is in Washington’s court.

Well, National Security advisor Jake Sullivan at first seemed to kick it, when he admitted, on the record, that Putin may not want to “invade” Ukraine.

Then there were rumblings that the Americans would get back to Moscow this week with their own “concrete security proposals”, after de facto writing the script for their NATO minions, invariably conveyed in spectacularly mediocre fashion by secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

The Ukraine narrative didn’t change an inch: “severe measures” – of an economic and financial nature – remain in the pipeline if Russia engages in “further aggression” in Ukraine.

Moscow was not fooled. Ryabkow had to specify, once again, that the Russian proposals were on a bilateral basis. Translation: we talk only to those with deciding power, not to minions. The involvement of other countries, Ryabkov said, “will deprive them of their meaning.”

From the start, NATO’s response had been predictably obvious: Russia is conducting a “substantial, unprovoked, and unjustified” military buildup along its border with Ukraine and is making “false … claims of Ukrainian and NATO provocations”.

That once again proved the point it’s a monumental waste of time to discuss with yapping chihuahuas of the Stoltenberg variety, for whom “NATO expansion will continue, whether Russia likes it or not.”

In fact, whether U.S. and NATO functionaries like it or not, what’s really happening in the realpolitk realm is Russia dictating new terms from a position of power. In a nutshell: you may learn the new game in town in a peaceful manner, civilized dialogue included, or you will learn the hard way via a dialogue with Mr. Iskandr, Mr. Kalibr, Mr. Khinzal and Mr. Zircon.

The inestimable Andrei Martyanov has extensively analysed for years now all the details of Russia’s overwhelming military dominance, hypersonic and otherwise, across the European space – as well as the dire consequences if the U.S. and NATO minions “decide that they want to continue to play dumb.”

Martyanov has also noted that Russia “understands the split with the West and is ready to take any consequences, including, already declining, shrinkage of trade and reduction of the supply of hydrocarbons to the EU.”

That’s where the whole ballet around the security guarantees intersects with the crucial Pipelineistan angle. To sum it all up: exit Nord Stream 2, enter Power of Siberia 2.

So let’s revisit why the looming energy catastrophe in the EU is not forcing anyone in Russia to lose his/her sleep.

Dancing in the Siberian night

One of the top takeaways of the strategic Putin-Xi video conference last week was the immediate future of Power of Siberia 2 – which will snake in across Mongolia to deliver up to 50 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually to China.

So it was hardly an accident that Putin received Mongolian President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh in the Kremlin, the day after he talked to Xi, to discuss Power of Siberia 2. The key parameters of the pipeline have already been set, a feasibility study will be completed in early 2022, and the deal – minus last-minute pricing tune-ups – is practically clinched.

Power of Siberia 2 follows the 2,200 km long Power of Siberia 1, launched in 2019 from Eastern Siberia to northern China and the focus of a $400 billion deal struck between Gazprom and China’s CNPC. Power of Siberia 1’s full capacity will be reached in 2025, when it will be supplying 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

Power of Siberia 2, a much bigger operation, was planned years ago, but it was hard to find consensus on the final route. Gazprom wanted Western Siberia to Xinjiang across the Altai mountains. The Chinese wanted transit via Mongolia straight into central China. The Chinese eventually prevailed. The final route across Mongolia was decided only two months ago. Construction should begin in 2024.

This is a massive geoeconomic game-changer, totally in line with the increasingly sophisticated Russia-China strategic partnership. But it’s also supremely important geopolitically (Remember Xi: China supports Russia’s “core interests”).

The gas for Power of Siberia 2 will come from the same fields currently supplying the EU market. Whatever demented concoctions the European Commission – and the new German government – may apply on stalling the operation of Nord Stream 2, Gazprom’s main focus will be China.

It doesn’t matter for Gazprom that China as a customer in the near future will not fully replace the whole EU market. What matters is the steady business flow and the absence of infantile politicking. For China what matters is an extra, guaranteed overland supply rote boosting its strategy of “escaping from Malacca”: the possibility, in case Cold War 2.0 turns hot, that the U.S. Navy would eventually block maritime shipping of energy sources via Southeast Asia to China.

Beijing of course is all over the place when it comes to buying Russian natural gas. The Chinese have a 30% stake in Novatek’s $27 billion Yamal project and a 20% stake in the $21 billion Arctic project.

So welcome to 2022 and the new, high stakes realpolitik Great Game.

U.S. elites had been terrified of playing Russia against China because they fear this would lead Germany to ally with Russia and China – leaving the Empire of Chaos out in the cold.

And that leads to the “mystery” inside the enigma of the whole Ukrainian face: use it to force the EU away from Russian natural resources.

Russia is turning the whole show upside down. As an energy superpower, instead of an internally corroded EU dictated by NATO, Russia will be mostly focused on its Asian customers.

In parallel, military superpower Russia, having had enough of U.S./NATO bullying, is now dictating the terms of a new arrangement. Lavrov confirmed the first round of Russia-U.S. talks on security guarantees will be held in early 2022.

Are these ultimatums? Not really. Seems like Ryabkov, with notable didacticism, will have to keep explaining it over and over again: “We do not speak in the language of ultimatums with anyone. We have a responsible attitude towards our own security and the security of others. The point is not that we have issued an ultimatum, not at all, but that the seriousness of our warning must not be underestimated.”

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