Foreign Ministry: anti-Syria western stances increase Syria's insistence on defending its people and preserving its sovereignty

ST

Tuesday, 17 March 2020 20:19 

Syria has asserted that the hostile Western attitudes towards it will only increase its insistence on defending its people, preserving its sovereignty and independent national decision, and reconstructing what was destroyed by terrorism.

An official source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement to SANA today that what was stated in the American-British-German statement on the occasion of the nine-year anniversary of the terrorist war targeting Syria reaffirms that these countries continue to support terrorist organizations to prolong the war on the Syrian people, especially after their failure to achieve their goals due to the steadfastness of the Syrians and the successive achievements of the Syrian Arab Army.

“The false lamentation and hypocrisy that characterized the colonial West’s rhetoric on human rights in Syria is disgusting due to the fact that the west is the reason for the bloodshed of the Syrians and their continued suffering as a result of the unjust war and the sanctions that affect the life of the Syrian citizen and their livelihood. The West is the reason behind the displacement of millions due to the terrorism and aggression on Syria which failed to achieve its goals thanks to the liberation of many territories of the Syrian Arab Republic and Syria’s firm steps to restore security and stability to all Syrian areas”, the source added. 

The source pointed out that these countries flagrantly violated the international law through supporting terrorism and continuing to interfere in internal affaires of states and through its responsibility for the effects of this unjust war on the lives of Syrians. This flagrant violationrequires the international community to condemn these policies and hold those responsible accountable for the crimes they committed, especially as their statements are considered solid evidence of this.

“The Syrian Arab Republic reaffirms that such Western positions will only increase its insistence on continuing to defend its people, preserving its sovereignty and its independent national decision, and the reconstruction of what was destroyed by terrorism”, the source added. “The future of Syria is an exclusive right for Syrians, and Western leaders must realize that as they were expelled in the past, their project in Syria will be doomed to a catastrophic fail. The West statements will not help them to cover up their failed policies and their catastrophic effects on the interests of their citizens in particular and stability in the world in general.

Inas Abdulkareem

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Russian analysts: Erdogan’s arrogance could lead to large-scale war that would harm Turkey’s interests

ST

 Saturday, 29 February 2020 20:46 

Moscow,(ST)- Boris Dolgov, senior researcher at the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences has stressed the need to put an end to the crimes and arrogance of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Syria’s north.

He stressed in an interview with a SANA correspondent in Moscow today that the Turkish regime’s actions in Idlib are unprecedented and they violate all international agreements concluded previously between Russia and Turkey as well as all international conventions. He stressed that escalation in that region threatens of the outbreak of a large-scale war that harms the interests of Turkey and the Turkish people in the first place.

In turn, member  of the Russian Writers Union, Khaled Elias pointed out in a similar interview that Erdogan and his supporters are the ones who embraced and sponsored terrorists from all over the world and who stood behind this brutal attack on Syria.

 He added that Turkish regime’s mercenaries in Aleppo behave as thieves because they have dismantled and stole Aleppo’s factories and industrial workshops and smuggled them to Turkey with the knowledge of Erdogan himself.

Elias indicated that the terrorists and their Turkish sponsors are currently using shoulder-fired US anti-aircraft missiles systems in Syria, stressing that the Syrian Arab army’s response to the Turkish attacks is a fair response, because it was the Turks who crossed the border, entered Syrian territory and supported the terrorists there.

For his part, Alexander Kuznetsov, Deputy Director of the Russian Institute for Political and Military Analysis, stressed that the Turkish actions are rejected from the viewpoint of international law because Turkey launches hostile actions against a neighboring country and interferes in its affairs.

 The Russian expert called for obligating Turkey to implement what was agreed upon with Russia, pointing out that the Turkish soldiers who were killed in Idlib were participating in the terrorists’ combat operations on the Syrian lands, and this behavior violates Syria’s  sovereignty.

Amal Farhat

PCHR Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations against Palestinians (09 – 15 January 2020)

Source

January 18, 2020 4:20 AM

Summary

This week, PCHR documented 179 violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL) by Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory. They were as follows:

As part of the Israeli shooting and excessive use of force:

In terms of excessive use of force, IOF suppression of 4 peaceful protests in the West Bank resulted in the suffocation of dozens of Palestinian civilians. Furthermore, 4 IOF shootings were reported at agricultural lands in eastern Gaza Strip and 3 at fishing boats at Gaza Sea; no casualties were reported.

This week, IOF aircrafts sprayed herbicides along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border fence with Israel from its north to its Central Governorate. According to PCHR’s fieldworkers, Israeli aircrafts were flying at a low altitude over the border fence while spraying the herbicides, which reached a distance of 700 to 1200 meters into the Gaza Strip, depending on wind speed and direction. IOF’s herbicide-attack on agricultural lands is repeated twice annually (the end of December and the begging of January and April), which are the beginning of the cultivation of winter and summer crops. It should be noted that spraying herbicides caused damage to leafy crops at lands adjacent to the border fence, which caused heavy losses. Some farmers are deterred from planting their lands that are located near the border fence in fear of such attacks. IOF claim that they intend to eliminate grass and crops that impair vision in the areas adjacent to the border fence.

Under IOF incursions and house raids in addition to arresting Palestinian civilians: IOF carried out 96 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Those incursions included raids of civilian houses and shootings, enticing fear among civilians, arresting and/or injuring many others. During this week’s incursions, 69 Palestinians were arrested, including 10 children and a woman. Also during their raids, IOF confiscated Palestinian civilians’ money, equipment and other properties under various excuses. In the Gaza Strip, IOF arrested 4 Palestinians, 2 while attempting to cross into Israel via the border fence and 2 at Beit Hanoun Crossing.

In a move unprecedented for more than 25 years, Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett issued a decision on 15 January 2020 establishing 7 new natural reserves and expanding 12 others in the West Bank. Under the Minister’s decision, the Area “C” lands were put under the authority of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. It should be noted that Area “C” lands constitute over 60% of the West Bank and falls under the Israeli military and civil control. It is no secret that Israel intends to annex Area “C” lands; this decision came a few day after Minister Bennett announced his intent to annex Area “C” to Israel and to enhance settlement activity.

Under the settlement expansion activities in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, PCHR documented 8 demolitions, land razing and demolition notices by IOF, including confiscating a barracks used for livestock and a construction vehicle in Ramallah. IOF also distributed 9 demolition notices and orders to stop construction vehicles in Hebron. Additionally, a blacksmith workshop was destroyed in Jerusalem.

On 15 January 2020, IOF issued a military order to confiscate 350 dunums of agricultural land in Bethlehem in order to expand Bypass road (60), which ties settlements near Bethlehem with Jerusalem, including “Gush Etzion,” “Beitar Illi,” “Eilya,” “Efrat” and “Tzur Hadassah;” as well as “Kiryat Arba” in Hebron.

PCHR also documented 3 settler-attacks that included cutting 80 olive trees and assaulting Palestinian civilians in Nablus.

In terms of collective punishment policy, IOF gave demolition notices to the families of 4 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails targeting their houses in Jenin, Ramallah and Hebron. IOF alleged that their imprisoned sons carried out attacks against IOF and settlers.

In terms of the Israeli closure policy, the Gaza Strip still suffers the worst closure in the History of the Israeli occupation of the oPt as it has entered the 14th consecutive year, without any improvement to the movement of persons and goods, humanitarian conditions and bearing catastrophic consequences on all aspects of life. Furthermore, IOF uses Erez Crossing that is designated for movement of individuals as an ambush to arrest Palestinians who obtain permits to exit via Israel.  Meanwhile, the West Bank is divided into separate cantons with key roads blocked by the Israeli occupation since the Second Intifada and with temporary and permanent checkpoints, where civilian movement is restricted and they are subject to arrest. This week, IOF arrested 7 Palestinians, including a child and a woman, at temporary military checkpoints.

  1. Violation of the right to life and to bodily integrity
  2. Excessive Use of Force against Protests in the West Bank
  • At approximately 13:30 on Friday afternoon, 10 January 2019, a peaceful protest took off in Kufor Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah, and marched towards the village’s eastern entrance, which has been closed for 15 years allegedly for the security of “Kedumim” settlement. The protestors chanted national slogans, demanded an end of the occupation and the Israeli forces’ crimes against Palestinians. The protestors threw stones at the Israeli soldiers stationed behind sand berms and the latter responded with sound bombs and tear gas canisters. As a result, a few people suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
  • A similar protest launched on the same day in the same village. The protestors threw stones at IOF, who responded with rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters. As a result, several civilians suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
  1. Shooting and other violations of the right to life and bodily integrity
  • At approximately 16:00 on Thursday, 09 January 2020, Dozens of Palestinian young men gathered in Bab al-Zawiyah area in the center of Hebron and threw stones at the Israeli military checkpoint established at the entrance to al-Shuhada’a Street, which is closed. Israeli soldiers stationed at the abovementioned checkpoint deliberately opened fire at stone-throwers. As a result, a number of young men suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
  • At approximately 14:00 on Friday, 10 January 2020, a number of Palestinian young men gathered at the western entrance to al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron. They threw stones at the Israeli military watchtower established at the main road to the camp. Israeli soldiers chased the young men between houses and fired sound bombs and tear gas canister at them. The confrontations, which continued until 17:00, resulted in several civilians suffocating due to tear gas inhalation. No other incidents were reported.
  • At approximately 14:50, Israeli gunboats stationed west of Rafah in southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 4 nautical miles. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives. Neither casualties nor material damage was reported.
  • At approximately 14:00 on Saturday, 11 January 2020, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence with Israel, east of khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at agricultural lands in eastern ‘Abasan area, adjacent to the border fence. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 09:00 on Sunday, 12 January 2020, Israeli gunboats stationed west of Jabalia shore in northern Gaza Strip, chased and opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 23:10 on the same Sunday, IOF stationed at Beit Hanoun crossing in northern Gaza Strip, sporadically opened fire at the border area and fired dozens of flare bombs in the sky of the area. Neither casualties nor material damage was reported.
  • At approximately 07:00 on Monday, 13 January 2020, Israeli gunboats stationed west of Jabalia shore in northern Gaza Strip, chased and heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles. The shooting recurred at 09:00 on the same day. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 09:20 on Tuesday, 14 January 2020, Israeli aircrafts sprayed herbicides on the agricultural lands along the border fence, northeast of al-Buraij, and headed north to Gaza Valley and southeast of Gaza City, claiming to eliminate the grass for security reasons in the area. The spraying process continued until 10:30 on the same day morning. These pesticides caused damage to the leafy crops in the area adjacent to the border fence.
  • At approximately 09:30 on the same Tuesday, Israeli aircrafts sprayed herbicides on the agricultural lands along the border fence, from northeast of Beit Hanoun to Beit Hanoun Crossing, northwest of the village. The Spraying process continued until 10:30 on the same Tuesday.
  • At approximately 08:50 on Wednesday, 15 January 2020, Israeli aircrafts sprayed herbicides on lands adjacent to the border fence, east of al-Buraij refugee camp and headed to the east of Deir al-Balah. The spraying process continued until 11:00 on the same day morning.

According to PCHR’s fieldworkers, Israeli aircrafts were flying at a low altitude over the border fence while spraying the herbicides, which reached a distance of 700 to 1200 meters into the Gaza Strip, depending on wind speed and direction. IOF’s herbicide-attack on agricultural lands is repeated twice annually (the end of December and the begging of January and April), which are the beginning of the cultivation of winter and summer crops. it should be noted that spraying herbicides caused damage to leafy crops at lands adjacent to the border fence, which caused heavy losses. Some farmers are deterred from planting their lands that are located near the border fence in fear of such attacks. IOF claim that they intend to eliminate grass and crops that impair vision in the areas adjacent to the border fence.

It should be noted that in 2016, Israeli authorities revealed that the used substances in the air spraying are Glyphosate, Oxygal, and Durex. One of these substances at least are classified as Carcinogenic substances. In 2015, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO), classified Glyphosate substance as carcinogenic and causes birth defects. Therefore, a number of states prohibited some of these substances.

  • At approximately 14:10 on the same Tuesday, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence, east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of Palestinian shepherds, east of al-Qararah. No casualties were reported.
  • At approximately 10:30 on Wednesday, 15 January 2020, Israeli aircrafts sprayed herbicides on the agricultural lands along the border fence, from southeast of Beit Hanoun to the east of al-Amal neighborhood, northeast of the village. It should be noted that the spraying process target the buffer zone ranging between 200 – 300 meters in an attempt to burn the grass that is adjacent to the border fence.
  • At approximately 14:30, Israeli soldiers stationed along the border fence, southeast of Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, fired live bullets and tear gas canisters at agricultural lands in eastern al-Fukhari village, adjacent to the border fence. No casualties were reported.
  1. Settlement Expansion and settler violence in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem
  1. Demolition and Confiscation of Civilian Property for Settlement Expansion Activities
  • At approximately 11:00 on Thursday, 09 January 2020, IOF accompanied with workers of Israeli special companies moved into Ras Karkar village, west of Ramallah, and stationed on the main street. They dismantled and confiscated a 30-sqaure-meter barrack of ‘Emad Ghanem Sayis, from Kafur Ni’meh village, under the pretext of non-licensing.
  • On Saturday, 11 January 2020, Sayil Ibrahim Ja’abees and Sami Mansour Mashahra implemented the Israeli Municipality decision and self-demolished their houses in al-Mukaber Mount area, south of occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of non-licensing. Ja’abees said that his 80-sqaure-meter house built 4 years ago and sheltered 5 members, including 3 children. He added that on last Thursday, he was shocked by raiding his house by the Israeli Municipality staff to hand him the Israeli court’s decision that gave him until Sunday morning to self-demolish his house, and if he will not be implemented the decision, the municipality staff will do so and impose a fine on him. Ja’abees also said that his house was comprised of 2 caravans and a bathroom built on his father’s land, because he could not afford construction costs. Ja’abees pointed out that he and his family became homeless in the cold weather.

Regarding Mashahra, he said that his 65-sqaure-meter house built in 2014 and sheltered his wife and their child. Masharhra added that during the past years, the Israeli Municipality staff raided his house many times and handed him several demolition notices. He clarified that the self-demolition of his house was so difficult.

  • At approximately 07:00 on Sunday, 12 January 2020, a force of IOF accompanied with the Israeli police officers surrounded itinerant vendors and owners of stalls, which were placed in Metar Checkpoint, west of al-Dahiriyia village in southern Hebron. The bulldozer demolished the stalls, damaged the goods and confiscated them, under the pretext of causing a traffic jam at the checkpoint. It should be noted that in 2019, the Israeli authorities damaged the stalls of itinerant vendors 9 times.
  • At approximately 09:30 on Monday, 15 January 2020, IOF accompanied with a driver from “Shillo” settlement, which is established on al-Moghair village’s lands, moved into agricultural lands in al-Sahel area, 500 meters away from the mentioned settlement. IOF expelled Salem al-‘Asi, a bulldozer driver, and confiscated his bulldozer. Al-‘Asi was building an agricultural road on Palestinians’ lands to facilitate their access to their lands. It should be noted that this agricultural work is part of a project to rehabilitate and reclaim agricultural lands funded by the Agricultural Development Association, “Agricultural Relief”. IOF claimed these agricultural lands are classified as Area S, despite the existence of a land registry owned by the Palestinian farmers.
  • At approximately 10:00 on Monday, 13 January 2020, IOF accompanied with the Israeli Civil Administration officers and backed by military construction vehicles moved into Eghziwa area in southern Nablus. The Israeli Civil Administration officers distributed notices to stop construction works and demolish some facilities, under the pretext of non-licensing. The notices included:
  1. Demolishing a 120-sqaure-meter under-construction house property of ‘Anan Mohamed ‘Abed Rabbu.
  2. Demolishing a 12-sqaure-meter residential room and 50-sqaure-meter barrack property of Belal ‘Issa al-Yateem.
  3. Demolishing a 140-sqaure-meter house property of Belal ‘Issa al-Yateem.
  4. Demolishing a 150-sqaure-meter house property of Mohamed Khalil ‘Issa Abu ‘Arram.
  5. Stop Construction works in a 80-sqaure-meter house property of Qasem Mohamed Abu Tuhffa.
  6. Demolishing a 140-sqaure-meter house property of Mohamed Mousa Makhamrah.
  7. Demolishing an 1800-sqaure-meter barrack property of Ahmed Isma’il Dababsah.
  • At approximately 11:00, Hisham Dari self-demolished a retaining wall surrounding his plot of land located at the eastern entrance to al-‘Issawiyia village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem. He implemented the Israeli Municipality decision and levelled his land. Dari added that the Israeli Municipality prevented him from using his land and imposed fines on him. The municipality also closed the entrance of his land with concrete blocks and chains.
  • At approximately 13:00, IOF accompanied with the Israeli Civil Administration officers and backed by military construction vehicles moved into Zaif area in southern Hebron. The Israeli Civil Administration officers handed ‘Issa ‘Ali Abu ‘Arram a 96-hour- notice to demolish his 200-sqaure-meter barrack, under the pretext of non-licensing.
  • At approximately 12:30 on Tuesday, 14 January 2020, the Israeli Municipality bulldozer backed by IOF demolished Khaled Nimer Abu Kahlil’s blacksmith workshop built of tin plates and bricks near Hizmah military checkpoint, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem, and confiscated its equipment, under the pretext of non-licensing, according to the Mayor of Hizmah Village municipality, Musallam Abu Helou.
  • In a move unprecedented for more than 25 years, Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett issued a decision on 15 January 2020 establishing 7 new natural reserves and expanding 12 others in the West Bank. Under the Minister’s decision, the Area “C” lands were put under the authority of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The project included the following areas: Soreek cave, al-Moqleq valley, Malha Valley, southern Jordan River, al-Fari’ah valley, and northern Jordan valley.

According to the statement, the 12 natural reserves that will be expanded are: Mountain peaks in western Dead Sea, southeast of Nablus, Fasayil in Jordan valley, Um Zoka in Jordan valley, an area in the Dead Sea, Kharouba village in eastern al-Ramlah, inside the West Bank, northern the Dead Sea, eastern Tubas, northern the Dead Sea, Malha valley, and in Jericho.

Bennett said about his decision to seize areas from the West Bank and establish settlement projects: “Today we are greatly strengthening the Land of Israel by developing Jewish settlement in Area C – with actions, not words,” Bennett said. “Judea and Samaria have natural sites with amazing views. We will expand existing sites and develop new ones…. I invite all Israeli citizens to get up and walk the land, to tour Judea and Samaria, hike, and discover new things and to continue the Zionist enterprise.”

It should be noted that Area “C” lands constitute over 60% of the West Bank and falls under the Israeli military and civil control.

The Minister’s decision came a few day after Minister Bennett announced his intent to annex Area “C” to Israel and to enhance settlement activity.

  • At approximately 14:00 on Wednesday, 15 January 2020, IOF accompanied with the Israeli Civil Administration officers and backed by military construction vehicles moved into Kherbet Tuba in southern Hebron. The Israeli Civil Administration officers handed Huda ‘Isaa ‘Awad Najajrah a notice to stop construction works in a 35-sqaure-meter residential room, under the pretext of non-licensing.
  • On Wednesday evening, the Israeli authorities issued military orders to seize 350 agricultural dunums from the lands of al-Khader and Artas villages, south of Bethlehem, according to Hasan Barijiyah, Head of the Wall and Settlement Resistance in Bethlehem. Barijiyah pointed out that the Israeli decision aims at expanding Bypass Road (60) and denying Palestinians’ access to their lands.
  1. Israeli Settler Violence
  • On Thursday, 09 January 2020, Israeli settlers, from “Rihlem” settlement established in northern al-Sawiyia village, east of Nablus, moved into al-Wad area, which is classified as Area C. The settlers attacked agricultural lands, where they damaged Hamad Saleh Mahmoud Jazi’s olive trees (80) planted 8 years ago. Also, the settlers set fire to Nader ‘Abed al-Rahim Kafina land and burned 30 olive trees.
  • At approximately 06:00 on Wednesday, 15 January 2020, Israeli settlers, from “Yatizhar” settlement, which is established on ‘Oreef, Hewarah, ‘Inabous and Ma’dama village’s lands, attacked with stones the outskirts of ‘Oreef village from the eastern direction. The Palestinian civilians confronted them and threw stones at them. After that, IOF intervene and secure the settlers’ withdrawal. No injuries among Palestinian civilians were reported.
  • At approximately 12:42 on Wednesday, Israeli settlers, from “Yatizhar” settlement, attacked the outskirts of Ma’dama village from the southern direction. They attacked Yehia Mohamed Sa’ied Qat’s house and broke the windows before the Palestinian civilians intervened and confronted them.
  1. Collective Punishment Policy
  • At approximately 02:30 on Thursday, 09 January 2020, IOF moved into Jenin and handed the family of prisoner Ahmed Jamal Ahmed al-Qumbu’, who has been arrested since 17 January 2018, a notice to demolish their 220-sqaure-meter house in al-Basateen neighborhood in northern Jenin for the 2nd time. It should be noted that the family house sheltering 8 members, including 2 children, was re-built 8 months ago. IOF blew-up the house of al-Qumbu’, who was charged with participation in the killing of an Israeli settler namely Arail Shefeh, from “Hefat Gilad” settlement, southwest of Nablus, on 09 January 2018.
  • At approximately 04:00 on Friday, 10 January 2020, IOF backed by military construction vehicles moved into Birzeit in northern Ramallah. They raided and searched a house of prisoner Yazan Hussaim Maghames (25), who was arrested on 11 September 2019. The soldiers handed Yazan’s father a demolition notice and no arrest among the family members was reported. It should be noted that Maghames was charged with participation in the attack at Ein Bubin near Deir Bzai’a village, west of Ramallah on 23 August 2019, which caused the killing of Israeli female settler and injuring her father and brother.
  • Around the same time, IOF moved into Ramallah and stationed in al-Tirah neighborhood. They raided and searched the house of prisoner Waleed Mohamed Hanatsha and handed his family a demolition noticr. No arrest among the family members war reported. It should be noted that Hanatsha, the financial director at Union of Health Work Committees, was arrested on 03 October 2019. He was accused of participation in the attack at Ein Bubin near Deir Bzai’a village, west of Ramallah on 23 August 2019, which caused the killing of Israeli female settler and injuring her father and brother.
  • At approximately 13:00 on Friday, 10 January 2020, IOF backed by military construction vehicles moved into Beit Kahel village, northwest of Hebron. They raided and searched the house of Kamel Mohamed ‘Asafrah (63) and handed his daughter-in-law married to his son Mahmoud (40), who was arrested on 20 August 2019, a notice to demolish their 120-square-apartment located on the 2nd floor. It should be noted that ‘Asafrah was accused of participation in the killing of an Israeli soldier “ David Soreek” on 07 August 2019, near “Gosh Etizon” settlement, south of Bethlehem. The soldier photographed the house and later withdrew. On 20 November 2019, the Israeli authorities demolished 4 houses of Sa’ied ‘Atiyah Mahmoud Zhour (46), Saleh Khalil al-‘Asafrah (60), and Qasem ‘Aref Khalil ‘Asafrah (34) and his brother Ahmed (37) in Biet Kahel village. The Israeli Military Court handed the mentioned persons indictment, accusing their sons of participation in the killing of David Soreek.

Full document available at PCHR official.

The «Immoral» Killing of the Iranian General

Source

By Benjamin B. Ferencz, NYT

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

To the Editor:

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

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

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

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

Benjamin B. Ferencz

Delray Beach, Fla.

General Soleimani in the Eyes of Western Media

By Muna Issa 

Beirut – The assassination of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani drew the eyes and ears of the entire planet. Iranians and Iraqis mourn, the United States and “Israel” gloat, and world powers wait intently for what was coming for the Middle East. As tensions arose, Western media reports the assassination, and we observe the reaction of the public.

While one side of the world has had enough of conflict, poverty and colonial violence, the other side of the world not only comes to post jokes about the death which has upset millions, but also gloat and celebrate the murder of who they deem as a “terrorist.” We couldn’t blame the American public much, though – this only reflects what they’ve been taught through their news outlets, which are far from trustworthy.

In addition to that, there isn’t much escape from the supremacist mindset in a country like the United States, no matter how egalitarian one might attempt to be. It is deeply embedded in the brain, hence the lack of accountability for the US military’s actions. Neither was it brought salient that this dreadful incident was a breach to international law, nor was there any sense of remorse for the mere act of murder. Sadly, the US public expressed their cheerfulness as though General Soleimani had hurt them personally.

However, we witnessed a dramatic shift in American public opinion after tensions escalated further when Iran vowed a strong retaliation. Opinions shifted from “We killed the bad guy” to “What have you done?”. What was supposedly used to make Americans feel “safer” backfired severely. It is to Iran’s knowledge that they are dealing with a ruthless narcissist; a country built on lack of accountability – the idea that they could treat countries, cultures, systems, and people wickedly and get away with it.

Then came the speech of Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, which changed the game. In short, Nasrallah declared the expulsion of United States forces from the region – a milestone decision in our time. Although this would normally startle the masses, Western journalism experienced different a different reaction to the news.

What is interesting is that what Western journalism has painted General Soleimani to be is something along the lines of a “murderer” and “terrorist.” The idea presented to the public serves as a weapon of legitimacy for potential wars and assassination. However, it seemed as though outlets have taken two steps back, and “played nice” after Iran and Hezbollah’s reactions. Rather than calling General Soleimani what they used to call him, articles written on January 5, 2020 neither gave analysis nor propaganda. What moved the American public most is Nasrallah’s exclusion of US citizens from their target. In contrast with their ideas on what Hezbollah is as an organization, the public expressed emotions which came to be a mixture of surprise, bewilderment and relief. The Washington Post, one of the United States’ top newspaper outlets, published an article of the title ‘Hezbollah Says Retribution for Soleimani’s Death Must Target US Military, Not Civilians.’ Americans, whose trust for their news outlets is built on fear and need for military protection, may have a chance to develop new ideals about the other side of the world. This could also mean that they are losing trust in their government (regardless of their politics).

Western media is playing an immense role in shaping opinion. At a very rare occurrence in time, they’re somehow withdrawing their previous ideals of General Soleimani in journalism in attempt to de-escalate tensions.

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The Iranian missile strike: an initial evaluation

The Saker

January 08, 2020

First, as always, a recap.

Turns out that the Iranian strikes were apparently very accurate, check out these photos:

This is interesting, because while I had some US ex-Colonel on idiot-box saying that most Iranian missiles either missed or landed in the desert.  Rah! Rah! Rah!  The US has THE BEST military in the GALAXY!!  We kick these ragheads back to their medieval reality, bla-bla-bla.

The reality is that this has been a very effective “proof of concept demonstration”.  Think like this:  the Iranians have super-accurate coordinates for every single building in the Green Zone.  What impact would you think a determined – non symbolic – missile strike on key US buildings in the Green Zone would have?  How about US forces in Kuwait and/or Saudi Arabia.

Keep in mind that the kind of missiles Iran used is very much an older, less capable, generation.  For example, as far as I know, these missiles have no final guidance capability (you may want to double/triple check this one).  Other ones do (that I am sure of).

Furthermore, it is becoming apparent that Iran had no intention of hitting US personnel, at least not deliberately.  So when the Idiot-in-Chief tweets “so far, so good” he is quite correct, but for all the wrong reasons.

I think of this first strike as a very serious WARNING SHOT which serves two purposes.

First, to show that the “54 targets in Iran” threat is an empty one: Iranians don’t care (for certain) and Pentagon planners probably don’t want it either (most likely).  So besides hot air, the Idiot-in-Chief produced nothing.

Second, to show to those in the US who actually believe their own silly propaganda about the US having THE BEST military in the history of the Galaxy that in terms of missiles, Iran is doing just fine, thank you.

Now, in all fairness, I will ALWAYS welcome ANY gesture which can avoid a massive total war.  There is no doubt in my mind that these events are marking the beginning of the end for the Empire.  The only real question is at what costs to the rest of mankind?  So while he is a narcissistic idiot for sure, and while he wrapped the key part of his statement in all sorts of delusional and dumb chest-thumping and flag waving, I have to admit that Trump did the right thing once again.  Destroying 54 (or even a SINGLE one) Iranian target would have resulted in an Iranian strike on Israel (now we know for sure that it would be an accurate one too!) which would have triggered a massive regional war.  We STILL are not there and while many will call me naive or stupid, I am grateful for ANYTHING which can delay or cancel any major (or even minor) war.  And while I do think that Trump is a narcissistic idiot, I will ALWAYS recognize when he does something either right or even “less bad than what he could have done”.

I will also add this: I consider the US servicemen in Iraq (and the result of the world, for that matter) as guilty of voluntarily signing up to a military which has never and will never fight any just war.  But that is not a sin deserving to be killed in a massive ball of fire, sorry.  In combat, yes, US soldiers are a legitimate target, and legally speaking (from the point of view of the Geneva Conventions and the International Law of War), the targets Iran hit were 100% legitimate since international law does NOT ban collateral damage, it only bans INTENTIONAL collateral damage.  US military personnel are, by definition, legal, legitimate, targets, but on a human level I feel sorry for them and I don’t wish them to pay for the crimes of their commanders (for whom I have ZERO sympathy or compassion).

I am actually quite happy that nobody died in these strikes.

If there were numerous casualties (as some sources report), then I have no problem admitting that this strike was both legal and ethical, but I would feel sad for every killed person (US or Iraqi).

Do the Shia Muslims care about the lives of their enemies?  Yes! They actually do.  Proof?  Just see how Hezbollah treated those Lebanese people who were collaborators with the infamous Israel proxy called the “SLA” (South Lebanon Army) and you will see for yourself.  Have their been Shia executed atrocities in the past? Sure!  Starting in Iraq were various Shia militias committed plenty of horrible atrocities.  But that happens to ANY party to a vicious conflict, and ESPECIALLY a civil war (just look at the butchery the Russian or US civil wars were!).  But the fact is that Shia leaders often emphasize both mercy, compassion and justice (Hassan Nasrallah specifically said that Hezbollah would not target US civilians; contrast that with the Idiot-in-Chief).

So how do we “score” this one?  Who won and who lost”

This all depends on your criteria.

Here are mine: anything which makes it easier for the US to remain in the Middle-East is a victory for the Empire and anything which makes it harder for the US to remain in the Middle-East is a victory for the rest of the planet.

I think that this criteria makes it rather easy to score this latest strike, don’t you?

One more thing: two more rocket strikes seemed to have landed near the Green Zone.  From the (rather minimal) info I have, these were rockets from some kind of MRLS and they were fired by LOCAL Iraqi forces, NOT from Iran.  This is both interesting and telling.  Why?

Because you can expect a dramatic increase in these kind of “hit and run” mini attacks which can’t achieve a real tactical advantage, but which are devastating for morale and which hugely decrease the mobility and ability to operate of the targeted forces.  Again, I invite you to re-apply my criteria above to evaluate the usefulness (or lack thereof) of these strikes.

Singing off for a few hours.  Kind regards

The Saker

PS: one more thing: the Idiot-in-Chief said that “Iran is standing down”.  Just remember that an other no less Idiot-in-Chief announced in 2006 that “Israel had defeated Hezbollah”.  This is an old US trick called “declare victory and leave”.  They have declared victory.  Good.  Now let’s see how long it will take them to get out of Iraq and the Syria and, much further down the road, from the entire Middle-East.

America Escalates its “Democratic” Oil War in the Near East

January 05, 2020

by Michael Hudson exclusively for the Saker Blog

The mainstream media are carefully sidestepping the method behind America’s seeming madness in assassinating Islamic Revolutionary Guard general Qassim Suleimani to start the New Year. The logic behind the assassination this was a long-standing application of U.S. global policy, not just a personality quirk of Donald Trump’s impulsive action. His assassination of Iranian military leader Suleimani was indeed a unilateral act of war in violation of international law, but it was a logical step in a long-standing U.S. strategy. It was explicitly authorized by the Senate in the funding bill for the Pentagon that it passed last year.

The assassination was intended to escalate America’s presence in Iraq to keep control the region’s oil reserves, and to back Saudi Arabia’s Wahabi troops (Isis, Al Quaeda in Iraq, Al Nusra and other divisions of what are actually America’s foreign legion) to support U.S. control o Near Eastern oil as a buttress o the U.S. dollar. That remains the key to understanding this policy, and why it is in the process of escalating, not dying down.

I sat in on discussions of this policy as it was formulated nearly fifty years ago when I worked at the Hudson Institute and attended meetings at the White House, met with generals at various armed forces think tanks and with diplomats at the United Nations. My role was as a balance-of-payments economist having specialized for a decade at Chase Manhattan, Arthur Andersen and oil companies in the oil industry and military spending. These were two of the three main dynamic of American foreign policy and diplomacy. (The third concern was how to wage war in a democracy where voters rejected the draft in the wake of the Vietnam War.)

The media and public discussion have diverted attention from this strategy by floundering speculation that President Trump did it, except to counter the (non-)threat of impeachment with a wag-the-dog attack, or to back Israeli lebensraum drives, or simply to surrender the White House to neocon hate-Iran syndrome. The actual context for the neocon’s action was the balance of payments, and the role of oil and energy as a long-term lever of American diplomacy.

The balance of payments dimension

The major deficit in the U.S. balance of payments has long been military spending abroad. The entire payments deficit, beginning with the Korean War in 1950-51 and extending through the Vietnam War of the 1960s, was responsible for forcing the dollar off gold in 1971. The problem facing America’s military strategists was how to continue supporting the 800 U.S. military bases around the world and allied troop support without losing America’s financial leverage.

The solution turned out to be to replace gold with U.S. Treasury securities (IOUs) as the basis of foreign central bank reserves. After 1971, foreign central banks had little option for what to do with their continuing dollar inflows except to recycle them to the U.S. economy by buying U.S. Treasury securities. The effect of U.S. foreign military spending thus did not undercut the dollar’s exchange rate, and did not even force the Treasury and Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to attract foreign exchange to offset the dollar outflows on military account. In fact, U.S. foreign military spending helped finance the domestic U.S. federal budget deficit.

Saudi Arabia and other Near Eastern OPEC countries quickly became a buttress of the dollar. After these countries quadrupled the price of oil (in retaliation for the United States quadrupling the price of its grain exports, a mainstay of the U.S. trade balance), U.S. banks were swamped with an inflow of much foreign deposits – which were lent out to Third World countries in an explosion of bad loans that blew up in 1972 with Mexico’s insolvency, and destroyed Third World government credit for a decade, forcing it into dependence on the United States via the IMF and World Bank).

To top matters, of course, what Saudi Arabia does not save in dollarized assets with its oil-export earnings is spent on buying hundreds of billion of dollars of U.S. arms exports. This locks them into dependence on U.S. supply o replacement parts and repairs, and enables the United States to turn off Saudi military hardware at any point of time, in the event that the Saudis may try to act independently of U.S. foreign policy.

So maintaining the dollar as the world’s reserve currency became a mainstay of U.S. military spending. Foreign countries to not have to pay the Pentagon directly for this spending. They simply finance the U.S. Treasury and U.S. banking system.

Fear of this development was a major reason why the United States moved against Libya, whose foreign reserves were held in gold, not dollars, an which was urging other African countries to follow suit in order to free themselves from “Dollar Diplomacy.” Hillary and Obama invaded, grabbed their gold supplies (we still have no idea who ended up with these billions of dollars worth of gold) and destroyed Libya’s government, its public education system, its public infrastructure and other non-neoliberal policies.

The great threat to this is dedollarization as China, Russia and other countries seek to avoid recycling dollars. Without the dollar’s function as the vehicle for world saving – in effect, without the Pentagon’s role in creating the Treasury debt that is the vehicle for world central bank reserves – the U.S. would find itself constrained militarily and hence diplomatically constrained, as it was under the gold exchange standard.

That is the same strategy that the U.S. has followed in Syria and Iraq. Iran was threatening this dollarization strategy and its buttress in U.S. oil diplomacy.

The oil industry as buttress of the U.S. balance of payments and foreign diplomacy

The trade balance is buttressed by oil and farm surpluses. Oil is the key, because it is imported by U.S. companies at almost no balance-of-payments cost (the payments end up in the oil industry’s head offices here as profits and payments to management), while profits on U.S. oil company sales to other countries are remitted to the United States (via offshore tax-avoidance centers, mainly Liberia and Panama for many years). And as noted above, OPEC countries have been told to keep their official reserves in the form of U.S. securities (stocks and bonds as well as Treasury IOUs, but not direct purchase of U.S. companies being deemed economically important). Financially, OPEC countries are client slates of the Dollar Area.

America’s attempt to maintain this buttress explains U.S. opposition to any foreign government steps to reverse global warming and the extreme weather caused by the world’s U.S.-sponsored dependence on oil. Any such moves by Europe and other countries would reduce dependence on U.S. oil sales, and hence on U.S. ability to control the global oil spigot as a means of control and coercion, are viewed as hostile acts.

Oil also explains U.S. opposition to Russian oil exports via Nordstream. U.S. strategists want to treat energy as a U.S. national monopoly. Other countries can benefit in the way that Saudi Arabia has done – by sending their surpluses to the U.S. economy – but not to support their own economic growth and diplomacy. Control of oil thus implies support for continued global warming as an inherent part of U.S. strategy.

How a “democratic” nation can wage international war and terrorism

The Vietnam War showed that modern democracies cannot field armies for any major military conflict, because this would require a draft of its citizens. That would lead any government attempting such a draft to be voted out of power. And without troops, it is not possible to invade a country to take it over.

The corollary of this perception is that democracies have only two choices when it comes to military strategy: They can only wage airpower, bombing opponents; or they can create a foreign legion, that is, hire mercenaries or back foreign governments that provide this military service.

Here once again Saudi Arabia plays a critical role, through its control of Wahabi Sunnis turned into terrorist jihadis willing to sabotage, bomb, assassinate, blow up and otherwise fight any target designated as an enemy of “Islam,” the euphemism for Saudi Arabia acting as U.S. client state. (Religion really is not the key; I know of no ISIS or similar Wahabi attack on Israeli targets.) The United States needs the Saudis to supply or finance Wahabi crazies. So in addition to playing a key role in the U.S. balance of payments by recycling its oil-export earnings are into U.S. stocks, bonds and other investments, Saudi Arabia provides manpower by supporting the Wahabi members of America’s foreign legion, ISIS and Al-Nusra/Al-Qaeda. Terrorism has become the “democratic” mode of today U.S. military policy.

What makes America’s oil war in the Near East “democratic” is that this is the only kind of war a democracy can fight – an air war, followed by a vicious terrorist army that makes up for the fact that no democracy can field its own army in today’s world. The corollary is that, terrorism has become the “democratic” mode of warfare.

From the U.S. vantage point, what is a “democracy”? In today’s Orwellian vocabulary, it means any country supporting U.S. foreign policy. Bolivia and Honduras have become “democracies” since their coups, along with Brazil. Chile under Pinochet was a Chicago-style free market democracy. So was Iran under the Shah, and Russia under Yeltsin – but not since it elected Vladimir Putin president, any more than is China under President Xi.

The antonym to “democracy” is “terrorist.” That simply means a nation willing to fight to become independent from U.S. neoliberal democracy. It does not include America’s proxy armies.

Iran’s role as U.S. nemesis

What stands in the way of U.S. dollarization, oil and military strategy? Obviously, Russia and China have been targeted as long-term strategic enemies for seeking their own independent economic policies and diplomacy. But next to them, Iran has been in America’s gun sights for nearly seventy years.

America’s hatred of Iran is starts with its attempt to control its own oil production, exports and earnings. It goes back to 1953, when Mossadegh was overthrown because he wanted domestic sovereignty over Anglo-Persian oil. The CIA-MI6 coup replaced him with the pliant Shah, who imposed a police state to prevent Iranian independence from U.S. policy. The only physical places free from the police were the mosques. That made the Islamic Republic the path of least resistance to overthrowing the Shah and re-asserting Iranian sovereignty.

The United States came to terms with OPEC oil independence by 1974, but the antagonism toward Iran extends to demographic and religious considerations. Iranian support its Shi’ite population an those of Iraq and other countries – emphasizing support for the poor and for quasi-socialist policies instead of neoliberalism – has made it the main religious rival to Saudi Arabia’s Sunni sectarianism and its role as America’s Wahabi foreign legion.

America opposed General Suleimani above all because he was fighting against ISIS and other U.S.-backed terrorists in their attempt to break up Syria and replace Assad’s regime with a set of U.S.-compliant local leaders – the old British “divide and conquer” ploy. On occasion, Suleimani had cooperated with U.S. troops in fighting ISIS groups that got “out of line” meaning the U.S. party line. But every indication is that he was in Iraq to work with that government seeking to regain control of the oil fields that President Trump has bragged so loudly about grabbing.

Already in early 2018, President Trump asked Iraq to reimburse America for the cost of “saving its democracy” by bombing the remainder of Saddam’s economy. The reimbursement was to take the form of Iraqi Oil. More recently, in 2019, President Trump asked, why not simply grab Iraqi oil. The giant oil field has become the prize of the Bush-Cheney post 9-11 Oil War. “‘It was a very run-of-the-mill, low-key, meeting in general,” a source who was in the room told Axios.’ And then right at the end, Trump says something to the effect of, he gets a little smirk on his face and he says, ‘So what are we going to do about the oil?’”[1]

Trump’s idea that America should “get something” out of its military expenditure in destroying the Iraqi and Syrian economies simply reflects U.S. policy.

In late October, 2019, The New York Times reported that: “In recent days, Mr. Trump has settled on Syria’s oil reserves as a new rationale for appearing to reverse course and deploy hundreds of additional troops to the war-ravaged country. He has declared that the United States has “secured” oil fields in the country’s chaotic northeast and suggested that the seizure of the country’s main natural resource justifies America further extending its military presence there. ‘We have taken it and secured it,’ Mr. Trump said of Syria’s oil during remarks at the White House on Sunday, after announcing the killing of the Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” [2] A CIA official reminded the journalist that taking Iraq’s oil was a Trump campaign pledge.

That explains the invasion of Iraq for oil in 2003, and again this year, as President Trump has said: “Why don’t we simply take their oil?” It also explains the Obama-Hillary attack on Libya – not only for its oil, but for its investing its foreign reserves in gold instead of recycling its oil surplus revenue to the U.S. Treasury – and of course, for promoting a secular socialist state.

It explains why U.S. neocons feared Suleimani’s plan to help Iraq assert control of its oil and withstand the terrorist attacks supported by U.S. and Saudi’s on Iraq. That is what made his assassination an immediate drive.

American politicians have discredited themselves by starting off their condemnation of Trump by saying, as Elizabeth Warren did, how “bad” a person Suleimani was, how he had killed U.S. troops by masterminding the Iraqi defense of roadside bombing and other policies trying to repel the U.S. invasion to grab its oil. She was simply parroting the U.S. media’s depiction of Suleimani as a monster, diverting attention from the policy issue that explains why he was assassinated now.

The counter-strategy to U.S. oil, and dollar and global-warming diplomacy

This strategy will continue, until foreign countries reject it. If Europe and other regions fail to do so, they will suffer the consequences of this U.S. strategy in the form of a rising U.S.-sponsored war via terrorism, the flow of refugees, and accelerated global warming and extreme weather.

Russia, China and its allies already have been leading the way to dedollarization as a means to contain the balance-of-payments buttress of U.S. global military policy. But everyone now is speculating over what Iran’s response should be.

The pretense – or more accurately, the diversion – by the U.S. news media over the weekend has been to depict the United States as being under imminent attack. Mayor de Blasio has positioned policemen at conspicuous key intersections to let us know how imminent Iranian terrorism is – as if it were Iran, not Saudi Arabia that mounted 9/11, and as if Iran in fact has taken any forceful action against the United States. The media and talking heads on television have saturated the air waves with warnings of Islamic terrorism. Television anchors are suggesting just where the attacks are most likely to occur.

The message is that the assassination of General Soleimani was to protect us. As Donald Trump and various military spokesmen have said, he had killed Americans – and now they must be planning an enormous attack that will injure and kill many more innocent Americans. That stance has become America’s posture in the world: weak and threatened, requiring a strong defense – in the form of a strong offense.

But what is Iran’s actual interest? If it is indeed to undercut U.S. dollar and oil strategy, the first policy must be to get U.S. military forces out of the Near East, including U.S. occupation of its oil fields. It turns out that President Trump’s rash act has acted as a catalyst, bringing about just the opposite of what he wanted. On January 5 the Iraqi parliament met to insist that the United States leave. General Suleimani was an invited guest, not an Iranian invader. It is U.S. troops that are in Iraq in violation of international law. If they leave, Trump and the neocons lose control of oil – and also of their ability to interfere with Iranian-Iraqi-Syrian-Lebanese mutual defense.

Beyond Iraq looms Saudi Arabia. It has become the Great Satan, the supporter of Wahabi extremism, the terrorist legion of U.S. mercenary armies fighting to maintain control of Near Eastern oil and foreign exchange reserves, the cause of the great exodus of refugees to Turkey, Europe and wherever else it can flee from the arms and money provided by the U.S. backers of Isis, Al Qaeda in Iraq and their allied Saudi Wahabi legions.

The logical ideal, in principle, would be to destroy Saudi power. That power lies in its oil fields. They already have fallen under attack by modest Yemeni bombs. If U.S. neocons seriously threaten Iran, its response would be the wholesale bombing and destruction of Saudi oil fields, along with those of Kuwait and allied Near Eastern oil sheikhdoms. It would end the Saudi support for Wahabi terrorists, as well as for the U.S. dollar.

Such an act no doubt would be coordinated with a call for the Palestinian and other foreign workers in Saudi Arabia to rise up and drive out the monarchy and its thousands of family retainers.

Beyond Saudi Arabia, Iran and other advocates of a multilateral diplomatic break with U.S. neoliberal and neocon unilateralism should bring pressure on Europe to withdraw from NATO, inasmuch as that organization functions mainly as a U.S.-centric military tool of American dollar and oil diplomacy and hence opposing the climate change and military confrontation policies that threaten to make Europe part of the U.S. maelstrom.

Finally, what can U.S. anti-war opponents do to resist the neocon attempt to destroy any part of the world that resists U.S. neoliberal autocracy? This has been the most disappointing response over the weekend. They are flailing. It has not been helpful for Warren, Buttigieg and others to accuse Trump of acting rashly without thinking through the consequences of his actions. That approach shies away from recognizing that his action did indeed have a rationale—do draw a line in the sand, to say that yes, America WILL go to war, will fight Iran, will do anything at all to defend its control of Near Eastern oil and to dictate OPEC central bank policy, to defend its ISIS legions as if any opposition to this policy is an attack on the United States itself.

I can understand the emotional response or yet new calls for impeachment of Donald Trump. But that is an obvious non-starter, partly because it has been so obviously a partisan move by the Democratic Party. More important is the false and self-serving accusation that President Trump has overstepped his constitutional limit by committing an act of war against Iran by assassinating Soleimani.

Congress endorsed Trump’s assassination and is fully as guilty as he is for having approved the Pentagon’s budget with the Senate’s removal of the amendment to the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act that Bernie Sanders, Tom Udall and Ro Khanna inserted an amendment in the House of Representatives version, explicitly not authorizing the Pentagon to wage war against Iran or assassinate its officials. When this budget was sent to the Senate, the White House and Pentagon (a.k.a. the military-industrial complex and neoconservatives) removed that constraint. That was a red flag announcing that the Pentagon and White House did indeed intend to wage war against Iran and/or assassinate its officials. Congress lacked the courage to argue this point at the forefront of public discussion.

Behind all this is the Saudi-inspired 9/11 act taking away Congress’s sole power to wage war – its 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force, pulled out of the drawer ostensibly against Al Qaeda but actually the first step in America’s long support of the very group that was responsible for 9/11, the Saudi airplane hijackers.

The question is, how to get the world’s politicians – U.S., European and Asians – to see how America’s all-or-nothing policy is threatening new waves of war, refugees, disruption of the oil trade in the Strait of Hormuz, and ultimately global warming and neoliberal dollarization imposed on all countries. It is a sign of how little power exists in the United Nations that no countries are calling for a new Nurenberg-style war crimes trial, no threat to withdraw from NATO or even to avoid holding reserves in the form of money lent to the U.S. Treasury to fund America’s military budget.

Michael Hudson

  1. https://www.axios.com/trump-to-iraqi-pm-how-about-that-oil-1a31cbfa-f20c-4767-8d18-d518ed9a6543.html. The article adds: “In the March meeting, the Iraqi prime minister replied, ‘What do you mean?’ according to the source in the room. And Trump’s like, ‘Well, we did a lot, we did a lot over there, we spent trillions over there, and a lot of people have been talking about the oil.’” 
  2. Michael Crowly, “‘Keep the Oil’: Trump Revives Charged Slogan for new Syria Troop Mission,” The New York Times, October 26, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/26/us/politics/trump-syria-oil-fields.html. The article adds: “‘I said keep the oil,’ Mr. Trump recounted. ‘If they are going into Iraq, keep the oil. They never did. They never did.’” 

Iran’s Judiciary: US Assassinated Soleimani While He Was Guest of Iraqi Gov’t

Iran’s Judiciary: US Assassinated Soleimani While He Was Guest of Iraqi Gov’t

By Staff, Agencies

Iran’s Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili says the US assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani is a flagrant violation of international law as he was targeted while being in Baghdad as a “formal” and “high-profile” guest of the Iraqi government.

Speaking to Radio Tehran, the spokesperson said that the killing of an invitee of a sovereign government by “a foreign country illegally present” in Iraq constituted a “blatant instance of government terrorism”.

“This was a barbaric act which goes against human rights and violates all international laws,” he said.

“As the judiciary, we will pursue this crime through international bodies alongside the Foreign Ministry and the High Council of Human Rights,” Esmaili added.

Esmaili’s remarks also echoed those of the deputy commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps [IRGC[ Brigadier General Ali Fadavi, who stressed that Soleimani had been assassinated while formally visiting Iraq.

“Iraq’s government authorities regularly invited Soleimani to meetings regarding various subjects, this is why he had been constantly traveling to the country,” he said.

Soleimani, leading the Quds Force of the IRGC, was assassinated in American airstrikes in Baghdad early on Friday.

The Trump administration has sought to justify the killing as an act of self-defense, hyping up baseless accusations against the former commander.

“We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war,” said Trump on Friday.

Legal experts and rights investigators in the US have, however, noted that Washington’s assassination constituted as a violation of international law.

Israel detained 5,500 Palestinians in 2019

Israeli police officers arrest a Palestinian youth in Issawiya, Jerusalem, 4 January 2017 [Mahfouz Abu Turk/Apaimages]
MEMO | December 31, 2019

Israeli occupation forces detained over 5,500 Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territories in 2019, including 889 children and 128 girls and women, Quds Press reported rights groups saying yesterday.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission, Palestinian Prisoners’ Club and Addameer for Human Rights, there are approximately 5,000 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails, including 40 girls and women, 200 children. Some 450 are under administrative detention.

The groups said that five Palestinian prisoners passed away while in detention this year, citing medical negligence and torture. They were named as: Faris Baroud, Awni Youses, Nassar Taqatqa, Bassam Al-Sayeh and Sami Abu-Dayyak. Israeli authorities withheld the bodies of four Palestinian prisoners.

During 2019, Israeli occupation forces issued 1,035 administrative detention orders, including four against women and four against children.

The rights groups said there are currently 700 prisoners who are in need of medical attention inside Israeli jails, including ten who suffer from cancer and more than 200 who have chronic diseases.

More than 50 prisoners went on hunger strike in protest against the policies of the Israeli prison services, as well as against the policy of administrative detention.

“Israeli occupation authorities violate all the rules of international and humanitarian laws, and reinforce their flagrant violations through the judicial system,” the rights groups said.

They called for local, regional and international bodies to put pressure on the Israeli occupation in order to stop its violations of Palestinian prisoners.

Why Western Media Ignore OPCW Scandal

Image result for Why Western Media Ignore OPCW Scandal

December 20, 2019

The credibility of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is on the line after a series of devastating leaks from whistleblowers has shown that the UN body distorted an alleged CW incident in Syria in 2018. The distortion by the OPCW of the incident suggests that senior directors at the organization were pressured into doing so by Western governments.

This has grave implications because the United States, Britain and France launched over 100 air strikes against Syria following the CW incident near Damascus in April 2018. The Western powers rushed to blame the Syrian government forces, alleging the use of banned weapons against civilians. This was in spite of objections by Russia at the time and in spite of evidence from independent investigators that the CW incident was a provocation staged by anti-government militants.

Subsequent reports by the OPCW later in 2018 and 2019 distort the incident in such a way as to indict the Syrian government and retrospectively exculpate the Western powers over their “retaliatory” strikes.

However, the whistleblower site Wikileaks has released more internal communications provided by 20 OPCW experts who protest that senior officials at the organization’s headquarters in The Hague engaged in “doctoring” their field reports from Syria.

Copies of the doctored OPCW reports are seen to have suppressed important evidence casting doubt on the official Western narrative claiming that the Syrian government was to blame. That indicates the OPCW was engaged in a cover-up to retrospectively “justify” the air strikes by Western powers. This is a colossal scandal which implies the US, Britain and France wrongly attacked Syria and are therefore guilty of aggression. Yet, despite the gravity of the scandal, Western media have, by and large, ignored it. Indicating that these media are subordinated by their governments’ agenda on Syria, rather than exposing the truth as independent journalistic services.

An honorable exception is Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson who has given prominence to the scandal on US national TV. So too has veteran British journalist Peter Hitchens who has helped expose the debacle in the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

Apart from those sources, the mainstream Western media have looked away. This is an astounding dereliction of journalistic duty to serve the public interest and to hold governments to account for abusing power.

Major American news outlets have been engrossed in the Trump impeachment case over his alleged abuse of power. But these same media have ignored an arguably far more serious abuse of power with regard to launching missiles on Syria over a falsehood. That says a lot about the warped priorities of such media.

However, their indifference to the OPCW scandal also reflects their culpability in fomenting the narrative blaming the Assad government, and thereby setting up the country for military strikes. In short, the corporate media are complicit in a deception and potentially a war crime against Syria. Therefore they ignore the OPCW scandal.

That illustrates how Western news media are not “independent” as they pompously claim but rather serve as propaganda channels to facilitate their governments’ agenda.

An enlightening case study was published by Tareq Haddad who quit from Newsweek recently because the editors censored his reports on the unfolding OPCW scandal. Haddad explained that he had important details to further expose the OPCW cover-up, but despite careful deliberation on the story he was inexplicably knocked back by senior editors at Newsweek who told him to drop it. There is more than a hint in Haddad’s insider-telling that senior staff at the publication are working as assets for Western intelligence agencies, and thus able to spike stories that make trouble for their governments.

Given the eerie silence among US, British and European media towards the OPCW scandal it is reasonable to posit that there is a systematic control over editorial policies about which stories to cover or not to. What else explains the blanket silence?

The scandal comes as Western powers are attempting to widen the powers of the OPCW for attributing blame in such incidents. Russia has objected to this move, saying it undermines the authority of the UN Security Council. Given the scandal over Syria, Russia is correct to challenge the credibility of the OPCW. The organization has become a tool for Western powers.

Russian envoy to the OPCW and ambassador to the Netherlands Alexander Shulgin says that Moscow categorically objects to expanding the OPCW’s functions and its powers of attributing blame. The extension of powers is being recommended by the US, Britain and France – the three countries implicated in abusing the OPCW in Syria to justify air strikes against that country.

The Russian envoy added: “The OPCW’s attribution mechanism is a mandate imposed by the US and its allies, which has nothing to do with international law and the Chemical Weapons Convention’s provisions. Any steps in this direction are nothing more than meddling in the UN Security Council’s exclusive domain. We cannot accept this flagrant violation of international law.”

Thus, the OPCW – a UN body – is being turned into a rubber-stamp mechanism by Western powers to legalize their acts of aggression. And yet despite the mounting evidence of corruption and malfeasance, Western corporate media studiously ignore the matter. Is it any wonder these media are losing credibility? And, ironically, they have the gall to disdain other countries’ media as “controlled” or “influence operations”.The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

LIVE: Putin holds annual press conference in Moscow

December 19, 2019

The version from RT on Twitter is the best one available currently:

https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1dRKZLQDDYDJB

English Soundtrack:

Putin holds annual press conference in Moscow

Vladimir Putin addressed State Duma deputies, Federation Council members, heads of Russian regions and civil society representatives in the Kremlin.

Dear friends, we have gathered here today in connection with an issue that is of vital, historic significance to all of us. A referendum was held in Crimea on March 16 in full compliance with democratic procedures and international norms.


More than 82 percent of the electorate took part in the vote. Over 96 percent of them spoke out in favour of reuniting with Russia. These numbers speak for themselves.

To understand the reason behind such a choice it is enough to know the history of Crimea and what Russia and Crimea have always meant for each other.

Everything in Crimea speaks of our shared history and pride. This is the location of ancient Khersones, where Prince Vladimir was baptised. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilisation and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The graves of Russian soldiers whose bravery brought Crimea into the Russian empire are also in Crimea. This is also Sevastopol – a legendary city with an outstanding history, a fortress that serves as the birthplace of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Crimea is Balaklava and Kerch, Malakhov Kurgan and Sapun Ridge. Each one of these places is dear to our hearts, symbolising Russian military glory and outstanding valour.

Crimea is a unique blend of different peoples’ cultures and traditions. This makes it similar to Russia as a whole, where not a single ethnic group has been lost over the centuries. Russians and Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars and people of other ethnic groups have lived side by side in Crimea, retaining their own identity, traditions, languages and faith.

Incidentally, the total population of the Crimean Peninsula today is 2.2 million people, of whom almost 1.5 million are Russians, 350,000 are Ukrainians who predominantly consider Russian their native language, and about 290,000–300,000 are Crimean Tatars, who, as the referendum has shown, also lean towards Russia.

True, there was a time when Crimean Tatars were treated unfairly, just as a number of other peoples in the USSR. There is only one thing I can say here: millions of people of various ethnicities suffered during those repressions, and primarily Russians.

Crimean Tatars returned to their homeland. I believe we should make all the necessary political and legislative decisions to finalise the rehabilitation of Crimean Tatars, restore them in their rights and clear their good name.

We have great respect for people of all the ethnic groups living in Crimea. This is their common home, their motherland, and it would be right – I know the local population supports this – for Crimea to have three equal national languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar.

Colleagues,

In people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia. This firm conviction is based on truth and justice and was passed from generation to generation, over time, under any circumstances, despite all the dramatic changes our country went through during the entire 20th century.

After the revolution, the Bolsheviks, for a number of reasons – may God judge them – added large sections of the historical South of Russia to the Republic of Ukraine. This was done with no consideration for the ethnic make-up of the population, and today these areas form the southeast of Ukraine. Then, in 1954, a decision was made to transfer Crimean Region to Ukraine, along with Sevastopol, despite the fact that it was a federal city. This was the personal initiative of the Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchev. What stood behind this decision of his – a desire to win the support of the Ukrainian political establishment or to atone for the mass repressions of the 1930’s in Ukraine – is for historians to figure out.

What matters now is that this decision was made in clear violation of the constitutional norms that were in place even then. The decision was made behind the scenes. Naturally, in a totalitarian state nobody bothered to ask the citizens of Crimea and Sevastopol. They were faced with the fact. People, of course, wondered why all of a sudden Crimea became part of Ukraine. But on the whole – and we must state this clearly, we all know it – this decision was treated as a formality of sorts because the territory was transferred within the boundaries of a single state. Back then, it was impossible to imagine that Ukraine and Russia may split up and become two separate states. However, this has happened.

Unfortunately, what seemed impossible became a reality. The USSR fell apart. Things developed so swiftly that few people realised how truly dramatic those events and their consequences would be. Many people both in Russia and in Ukraine, as well as in other republics hoped that the Commonwealth of Independent States that was created at the time would become the new common form of statehood. They were told that there would be a single currency, a single economic space, joint armed forces; however, all this remained empty promises, while the big country was gone. It was only when Crimea ended up as part of a different country that Russia realised that it was not simply robbed, it was plundered.

At the same time, we have to admit that by launching the sovereignty parade Russia itself aided in the collapse of the Soviet Union. And as this collapse was legalised, everyone forgot about Crimea and Sevastopol ­– the main base of the Black Sea Fleet. Millions of people went to bed in one country and awoke in different ones, overnight becoming ethnic minorities in former Union republics, while the Russian nation became one of the biggest, if not the biggest ethnic group in the world to be divided by borders.

Now, many years later, I heard residents of Crimea say that back in 1991 they were handed over like a sack of potatoes. This is hard to disagree with. And what about the Russian state? What about Russia? It humbly accepted the situation. This country was going through such hard times then that realistically it was incapable of protecting its interests. However, the people could not reconcile themselves to this outrageous historical injustice. All these years, citizens and many public figures came back to this issue, saying that Crimea is historically Russian land and Sevastopol is a Russian city. Yes, we all knew this in our hearts and minds, but we had to proceed from the existing reality and build our good-neighbourly relations with independent Ukraine on a new basis. Meanwhile, our relations with Ukraine, with the fraternal Ukrainian people have always been and will remain of foremost importance for us.

Today we can speak about it openly, and I would like to share with you some details of the negotiations that took place in the early 2000s. The then President of Ukraine Mr Kuchma asked me to expedite the process of delimiting the Russian-Ukrainian border. At that time, the process was practically at a standstill. Russia seemed to have recognised Crimea as part of Ukraine, but there were no negotiations on delimiting the borders. Despite the complexity of the situation, I immediately issued instructions to Russian government agencies to speed up their work to document the borders, so that everyone had a clear understanding that by agreeing to delimit the border we admitted de facto and de jure that Crimea was Ukrainian territory, thereby closing the issue.

We accommodated Ukraine not only regarding Crimea, but also on such a complicated matter as the maritime boundary in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait. What we proceeded from back then was that good relations with Ukraine matter most for us and they should not fall hostage to deadlock territorial disputes. However, we expected Ukraine to remain our good neighbour, we hoped that Russian citizens and Russian speakers in Ukraine, especially its southeast and Crimea, would live in a friendly, democratic and civilised state that would protect their rights in line with the norms of international law.

However, this is not how the situation developed. Time and time again attempts were made to deprive Russians of their historical memory, even of their language and to subject them to forced assimilation. Moreover, Russians, just as other citizens of Ukraine are suffering from the constant political and state crisis that has been rocking the country for over 20 years.

I understand why Ukrainian people wanted change. They have had enough of the authorities in power during the years of Ukraine’s independence. Presidents, prime ministers and parliamentarians changed, but their attitude to the country and its people remained the same. They milked the country, fought among themselves for power, assets and cash flows and did not care much about the ordinary people. They did not wonder why it was that millions of Ukrainian citizens saw no prospects at home and went to other countries to work as day labourers. I would like to stress this: it was not some Silicon Valley they fled to, but to become day labourers. Last year alone almost 3 million people found such jobs in Russia. According to some sources, in 2013 their earnings in Russia totalled over $20 billion, which is about 12% of Ukraine’s GDP.

I would like to reiterate that I understand those who came out on Maidan with peaceful slogans against corruption, inefficient state management and poverty. The right to peaceful protest, democratic procedures and elections exist for the sole purpose of replacing the authorities that do not satisfy the people. However, those who stood behind the latest events in Ukraine had a different agenda: they were preparing yet another government takeover; they wanted to seize power and would stop short of nothing. They resorted to terror, murder and riots. Nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites executed this coup. They continue to set the tone in Ukraine to this day.

The new so-called authorities began by introducing a draft law to revise the language policy, which was a direct infringement on the rights of ethnic minorities. However, they were immediately ‘disciplined’ by the foreign sponsors of these so-called politicians. One has to admit that the mentors of these current authorities are smart and know well what such attempts to build a purely Ukrainian state may lead to. The draft law was set aside, but clearly reserved for the future. Hardly any mention is made of this attempt now, probably on the presumption that people have a short memory. Nevertheless, we can all clearly see the intentions of these ideological heirs of Bandera, Hitler’s accomplice during World War II.

It is also obvious that there is no legitimate executive authority in Ukraine now, nobody to talk to. Many government agencies have been taken over by the impostors, but they do not have any control in the country, while they themselves – and I would like to stress this – are often controlled by radicals. In some cases, you need a special permit from the militants on Maidan to meet with certain ministers of the current government. This is not a joke – this is reality.

Those who opposed the coup were immediately threatened with repression. Naturally, the first in line here was Crimea, the Russian-speaking Crimea. In view of this, the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol turned to Russia for help in defending their rights and lives, in preventing the events that were unfolding and are still underway in Kiev, Donetsk, Kharkov and other Ukrainian cities.

Naturally, we could not leave this plea unheeded; we could not abandon Crimea and its residents in distress. This would have been betrayal on our part.

First, we had to help create conditions so that the residents of Crimea for the first time in history were able to peacefully express their free will regarding their own future. However, what do we hear from our colleagues in Western Europe and North America? They say we are violating norms of international law. Firstly, it’s a good thing that they at least remember that there exists such a thing as international law – better late than never.

Secondly, and most importantly – what exactly are we violating? True, the President of the Russian Federation received permission from the Upper House of Parliament to use the Armed Forces in Ukraine. However, strictly speaking, nobody has acted on this permission yet. Russia’s Armed Forces never entered Crimea; they were there already in line with an international agreement. True, we did enhance our forces there; however – this is something I would like everyone to hear and know – we did not exceed the personnel limit of our Armed Forces in Crimea, which is set at 25,000, because there was no need to do so.

Next. As it declared independence and decided to hold a referendum, the Supreme Council of Crimea referred to the United Nations Charter, which speaks of the right of nations to self-determination. Incidentally, I would like to remind you that when Ukraine seceded from the USSR it did exactly the same thing, almost word for word. Ukraine used this right, yet the residents of Crimea are denied it. Why is that?

Moreover, the Crimean authorities referred to the well-known Kosovo precedent – a precedent our western colleagues created with their own hands in a very similar situation, when they agreed that the unilateral separation of Kosovo from Serbia, exactly what Crimea is doing now, was legitimate and did not require any permission from the country’s central authorities. Pursuant to Article 2, Chapter 1 of the United Nations Charter, the UN International Court agreed with this approach and made the following comment in its ruling of July 22, 2010, and I quote: “No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to declarations of independence,” and “General international law contains no prohibition on declarations of independence.” Crystal clear, as they say.

I do not like to resort to quotes, but in this case, I cannot help it. Here is a quote from another official document: the Written Statement of the United States America of April 17, 2009, submitted to the same UN International Court in connection with the hearings on Kosovo. Again, I quote: “Declarations of independence may, and often do, violate domestic legislation. However, this does not make them violations of international law.” End of quote. They wrote this, disseminated it all over the world, had everyone agree and now they are outraged. Over what? The actions of Crimean people completely fit in with these instructions, as it were. For some reason, things that Kosovo Albanians (and we have full respect for them) were permitted to do, Russians, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in Crimea are not allowed. Again, one wonders why.

We keep hearing from the United States and Western Europe that Kosovo is some special case. What makes it so special in the eyes of our colleagues? It turns out that it is the fact that the conflict in Kosovo resulted in so many human casualties. Is this a legal argument? The ruling of the International Court says nothing about this. This is not even double standards; this is amazing, primitive, blunt cynicism. One should not try so crudely to make everything suit their interests, calling the same thing white today and black tomorrow. According to this logic, we have to make sure every conflict leads to human losses.

I will state clearly — if the Crimean local self-defence units had not taken the situation under control, there could have been casualties as well. Fortunately this did not happen. There was not a single armed confrontation in Crimea and no casualties. Why do you think this was so? The answer is simple: because it is very difficult, practically impossible to fight against the will of the people. Here I would like to thank the Ukrainian military – and this is 22,000 fully armed servicemen. I would like to thank those Ukrainian service members who refrained from bloodshed and did not smear their uniforms in blood.

Other thoughts come to mind in this connection. They keep talking of some Russian intervention in Crimea, some sort of aggression. This is strange to hear. I cannot recall a single case in history of an intervention without a single shot being fired and with no human casualties.

Colleagues,

Like a mirror, the situation in Ukraine reflects what is going on and what has been happening in the world over the past several decades. After the dissolutionof bipolarity on the planet, we no longer have stability. Key international institutions are not getting any stronger; on the contrary, in many cases, they are sadly degrading. Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle “If you are not with us, you are against us.” To make this aggression look legitimate, they force the necessary resolutions from international organisations, and if for some reason this does not work, they simply ignore the UN Security Council and the UN overall.

This happened in Yugoslavia; we remember 1999 very well. It was hard to believe, even seeing it with my own eyes, that at the end of the 20th century, one of Europe’s capitals, Belgrade, was under missile attack for several weeks, and then came the real intervention. Was there a UN Security Council resolution on this matter, allowing for these actions? Nothing of the sort. And then, they hit Afghanistan, Iraq, and frankly violated the UN Security Council resolution on Libya, when instead of imposing the so-called no-fly zone over it they started bombing it too.

There was a whole series of controlled “colour” revolutions. Clearly, the people in those nations, where these events took place, were sick of tyranny and poverty, of their lack of prospects; but these feelings were taken advantage of cynically. Standards were imposed on these nations that did not in any way correspond to their way of life, traditions, or these peoples’ cultures. As a result, instead of democracy and freedom, there was chaos, outbreaks in violence and a series of upheavals. The Arab Spring turned into the Arab Winter.

A similar situation unfolded in Ukraine. In 2004, to push the necessary candidate through at the presidential elections, they thought up some sort of third round that was not stipulated by the law. It was absurd and a mockery of the constitution. And now, they have thrown in an organised and well-equipped army of militants.

We understand what is happening; we understand that these actions were aimed against Ukraine and Russia and against Eurasian integration. And all this while Russia strived to engage in dialogue with our colleagues in the West. We are constantly proposing cooperation on all key issues; we want to strengthen our level of trust and for our relations to be equal, open and fair. But we saw no reciprocal steps.

On the contrary, they have lied to us many times, made decisions behind our backs, placed us before an accomplished fact.This happened with NATO’s expansion to the East, as well as the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders. They kept telling us the same thing: “Well, this does not concern you.” That’s easy to say.

It happened with the deployment of a missile defence system. In spite of all our apprehensions, the project is working and moving forward. It happened with the endless foot-dragging in the talks on visa issues, promises of fair competition and free access to global markets.

Today, we are being threatened with sanctions, but we already experiencemany limitations, ones that are quite significant for us, our economy and our nation. For example, still during the times of the Cold War, the US and subsequently other nations restricted a large list of technologies and equipment from being sold to the USSR, creating the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls list. Today, they have formally been eliminated, but only formally; and in reality, many limitations are still in effect.

In short, we have every reason to assume that the infamous policy of containment, led in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, continues today. They are constantly trying to sweep us into a cornerbecause we have an independent position, because we maintain it and because we call things like they are and do not engage in hypocrisy. But there is a limit to everything. And with Ukraine, our western partners have crossed the line, playing the bear and acting irresponsibly and unprofessionally.

After all, they were fully aware that there are millions of Russians living in Ukraine and in Crimea. They must have really lacked political instinct and common sense not to foresee all the consequences of their actions. Russia found itself in a position it could not retreat from. If you compress the spring all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard. You must always remember this.

Today, it is imperative to end this hysteria, to refute the rhetoric of the cold war and to accept the obvious fact: Russia is an independent, active participant in international affairs; like other countries, it has its own national interests that need to be taken into account and respected.

At the same time, we are grateful to all those who understood our actions in Crimea; we are grateful to the people of China, whose leaders have always consideredthe situation in Ukraine and Crimea taking into account the full historical and political context, and greatly appreciate India’s reserve and objectivity.

Today, I would like to address the people of the United States of America, the people who, since the foundation of their nation and adoption of the Declaration of Independence, have been proud to hold freedom above all else. Isn’t the desire of Crimea’s residents to freely choose their fate such a value? Please understand us.

I believe that the Europeans, first and foremost, the Germans, will also understand me. Let me remind you that in the course of political consultations on the unification of East and West Germany, at the expert, though very high level, some nations that were then and are now Germany’s allies did not support the idea of unification. Our nation, however, unequivocally supported the sincere, unstoppable desire of the Germans for national unity. I am confident that you have not forgotten this, and I expect that the citizens of Germany will also support the aspiration of the Russians, of historical Russia, to restore unity.

I also want to address the people of Ukraine. I sincerely want you to understand us: we do not want to harm you in any way, or to hurt your national feelings. We have always respected the territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state, incidentally, unlike those who sacrificed Ukraine’s unity for their political ambitions. They flaunt slogans about Ukraine’s greatness, but they are the ones who did everything to divide the nation. Today’s civil standoff is entirely on their conscience. I want you to hear me, my dear friends. Do not believe those who want you to fear Russia, shouting that other regions will follow Crimea. We do not want to divide Ukraine; we do not need that. As for Crimea, it was and remains a Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean-Tatar land.

I repeat, just as it has been for centuries, it will be a home to all the peoples living there. What it will never be and do is follow in Bandera’s footsteps!

Crimea is our common historical legacy and a very important factor in regional stability. And this strategic territory should be part of a strong and stable sovereignty, which today can only be Russian. Otherwise, dear friends (I am addressing both Ukraine and Russia), you and we – the Russians and the Ukrainians – could lose Crimea completely, and that could happen in the near historical perspective. Please think about it.

Let me note too that we have already heard declarations from Kiev about Ukraine soon joining NATO. What would this have meant for Crimea and Sevastopol in the future? It would have meant that NATO’s navy would be right there in this city of Russia’s military glory, and this would create not an illusory but a perfectly real threat to the whole of southern Russia. These are things that could have become reality were it not for the choice the Crimean people made, and I want to say thank you to them for this.

But let me say too that we are not opposed to cooperation with NATO, for this is certainly not the case. For all the internal processes within the organisation, NATO remains a military alliance, and we are against having a military alliance making itself at home right in our backyard or in our historic territory. I simply cannot imagine that we would travel to Sevastopol to visit NATO sailors. Of course, most of them are wonderful guys, but it would be better to have them come and visit us, be our guests, rather than the other way round.

Let me say quite frankly that it pains our hearts to see what is happening in Ukraine at the moment, see the people’s suffering and their uncertainty about how to get through today and what awaits them tomorrow. Our concerns are understandable because we are not simply close neighbours but, as I have said many times already, we are one people. Kiev is the mother of Russian cities. Ancient Rus is our common source and we cannot live without each other.

Let me say one other thing too. Millions of Russians and Russian-speaking people live in Ukraine and will continue to do so. Russia will always defend their interests using political, diplomatic and legal means. But it should be above all in Ukraine’s own interest to ensure that these people’s rights and interests are fully protected. This is the guarantee of Ukraine’s state stability and territorial integrity.

We want to be friends with Ukraine and we want Ukraine to be a strong, sovereign and self-sufficient country. Ukraine is one of our biggest partners after all. We have many joint projects and I believe in their success no matter what the current difficulties. Most importantly, we want peace and harmony to reign in Ukraine, and we are ready to work together with other countries to do everything possible to facilitate and support this. But as I said, only Ukraine’s own people can put their own house in order.

Residents of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, the whole of Russia admired your courage, dignity and bravery. It was you who decided Crimea’s future. We were closer than ever over these days, supporting each other. These were sincere feelings of solidarity. It is at historic turning points such as these that a nation demonstrates its maturity and strength of spirit. The Russian people showed this maturity and strength through their united support for their compatriots.

Russia’s foreign policy position on this matter drew its firmness from the will of millions of our people, our national unity and the support of our country’s main political and public forces. I want to thank everyone for this patriotic spirit, everyone without exception. Now, we need to continue and maintain this kind of consolidation so as to resolve the tasks our country faces on its road ahead.

Obviously, we will encounter external opposition, but this is a decision that we need to make for ourselves. Are we ready to consistently defend our national interests, or will we forever give in, retreat to who knows where? Some Western politicians are already threatening us with not just sanctions but also the prospect of increasingly serious problems on the domestic front. I would like to know what it is they have in mind exactly: action by a fifth column, this disparate bunch of ‘national traitors’, or are they hoping to put us in a worsening social and economic situation so as to provoke public discontent? We consider such statements irresponsible and clearly aggressive in tone, and we will respond to them accordingly. At the same time, we will never seek confrontation with our partners, whether in the East or the West, but on the contrary, will do everything we can to build civilised and good-neighbourly relations as one is supposed to in the modern world. 

Colleagues,

I understand the people of Crimea, who put the question in the clearest possible terms in the referendum: should Crimea be with Ukraine or with Russia? We can be sure in saying that the authorities in Crimea and Sevastopol, the legislative authorities, when they formulated the question, set aside group and political interests and made the people’s fundamental interests alone the cornerstone of their work. The particular historic, population, political and economic circumstances of Crimea would have made any other proposed option — however tempting it could be at the first glance — only temporary and fragile and would have inevitably led to further worsening of the situation there, which would have had disastrous effects on people’s lives. The people of Crimea thus decided to put the question in firm and uncompromising form, with no grey areas. The referendum was fair and transparent, and the people of Crimea clearly and convincingly expressed their will and stated that they want to be with Russia.

Russia will also have to make a difficult decision now, taking into account the various domestic and external considerations. What do people here in Russia think? Here, like in any democratic country, people have different points of view, but I want to make the point that the absolute majority of our people clearly do support what is happening.

The most recent public opinion surveys conducted here in Russia show that 95 percent of people think that Russia should protect the interests of Russians and members of other ethnic groups living in Crimea – 95 percent of our citizens. More than 83 percent think that Russia should do this even if it will complicate our relations with some other countries. A total of 86 percent of our people see Crimea as still being Russian territory and part of our country’s lands. And one particularly important figure, which corresponds exactly with the result in Crimea’s referendum: almost 92 percent of our people support Crimea’s reunification with Russia. 

Thus we see that the overwhelming majority of people in Crimea and the absolute majority of the Russian Federation’s people support the reunification of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol with Russia.

Now this is a matter for Russia’s own political decision, and any decision here can be based only on the people’s will, because the people is the ultimate source of all authority.

Members of the Federation Council, deputies of the State Duma, citizens of Russia, residents of Crimea and Sevastopol, today, in accordance with the people’s will, I submit to the Federal Assembly a request to consider a Constitutional Law on the creation of two new constituent entities within the Russian Federation: the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and to ratify the treaty on admitting to the Russian Federation Crimea and Sevastopol, which is already ready for signing. I stand assured of your support.

“The Victory of Syria over Global Terrorism Will Benefit Humanity”: Vanessa Beeley on Syria War

Global Research, December 10, 2019

Mark Taliano: Why is the truth about Syria important?

Vanessa Beeley: It is important because in Syria the “humanitarian” hybrid war strategy of the Globalist powers in the so-called civilised “global north” is being exposed real time as Syria sweeps to a military victory against the heavily financed proxy invasion of their country, orchestrated by the US alliance that includes aligned Gulf States, Turkey and Israel. By pushing back against the dominant establishment narrative on Syria, we, as journalists and activists, are effectively defending international law which is being violated by our own rogue states. We are standing in solidarity with an unprecedented resistance against global terrorism which has also enabled the  formation of an axis of resistance that has turned the tide of neoconservative hegemony in the region. We are defending the right of the Syrian people to decide their own future without foreign meddling. The precedents being set by this externally imposed conflict and its outcome will define the future of global security for all Humanity – what more important principle is there to defend?

MT: Why are people trying to “de-platform” you? Who is trying to de-platform you?

VB: People – all aligned media, think tanks, UN agencies – are trying to de-platform me because diverging views, including those of the “disappeared” Syrian people, challenge and confront their fabricated narrative that has “manufactured consent” for the US Coalition criminal aggression against Syria for nine years. The revelations provided by many independent voices exposes the corruption and corrosion of established institutions that should be ensuring world peace and who are, instead, promoting, sponsoring and enabling world instability in order to provide resource scavenging opportunities for the plutocrats who reign over us. Freedom of speech, thought and expression is being eroded and this is the principle we should all be defending or we are ALL Julian Assange – tortured, oppressed by the pseudo “free world”.

MT: Should Canadians believe the White Helmets? Amnesty International? Human Rights Watch?

VB: Canadians should use international law as their yardstick to determine truth, the violators of international law are their own government which is a vassal state of the US and UK. The White Helmets, AI and HRW are all compromised organisations which are sponsored and were established by the same governments as part of their smart power complex – an integral and now crucial part of their hybrid war strategy which are established to infiltrate prey nation society, always on the side of the US Coalition foreign policy agenda – predominantly to ensure the vilification of the target government or leader in order to provide justification for proxy or direct military intervention or economic terrorism under the guise of sanctions.

MT: When Syria wins this war, the world will be a safer place. Why?

VB: As I have explained above, the victory of Syria over global terrorism will benefit humanity. Syria has had a policy of containing these terrorist groups within Syrian borders in order to prevent the same fate befalling the EU, UK and US citizens with the inevitable return or flow of these radicalised extremist factions to those regions. Syria and her allies have adhered to international law both from a military and a diplomatic perspective, thus ensuring a stable future for mankind. Syria’s victory will ensure that history is written by the targeted nation – exposing the destructive hegemony of the US alliance in the region and globally.

MT: What should Canadians do to spread the truth about the war on Syria?

VB: Canadians must fight for freedom of speech and against the de-platforming of diverging views. They should join genuine anti-war movements and defend  the principles of international law which have been cynically abused and abandoned by the UK, US and France on the security council.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. Please support her work at her Patreon account. 

Mark Taliano is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and the author of Voices from Syria, Global Research Publishers, 2017. Visit the author’s website at https://www.marktaliano.net where this article was originally published.


Order Mark Taliano’s Book “Voices from Syria” directly from Global Research.

Mark Taliano combines years of research with on-the-ground observations to present an informed and well-documented analysis that refutes  the mainstream media narratives on Syria. 

Voices from Syria 

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 1 new chapter)

List Price: $17.95

Special Price: $9.95 

Click to order

Israel’s Case Against Human Rights Watch Reveals How Its Normalizing West Bank Land Theft

Omar Shakir Feature photo

The argument made by an Israeli court has been defacto reality in Israel since 1967: there is no West Bank, instead, the region is called Judea and Samaria, legitimate parts of the State of Israel. 

The Occupied West Bank — In November 2019, following a long legal battle, Israel revoked the work visa and deported Human Rights Watch (HRW) director Omar Shakir.  According to HRW, Israel argued that the state, “revoked the work visa of Shakir, a United States citizen, in May 2018 on the assertion that his advocacy violated a 2017 law that bars entry to people who advocate a boycott of Israel or its settlements in the occupied West Bank.”

HRW claims that this is not true and that the organization does not call for the boycott of Israel. On their website, they do claim, however, that, “Human Rights Watch urges businesses to stop operating in illegal settlements as part of their global duty to avoid complicity in human rights abuses.”

The case went all the way to Israel’s highest court which found that the position held by HRW regarding Israeli settlements constitutes grounds for deportation. The decision describes Human Rights Watch’s research on the activities of businesses, including the global tourism companies Airbnb and Booking.com, as “boycott-promoting activities.”

The truth is that HRW does recommend that businesses cease operations in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. According to Judge Tamar Bazak-Rapoport, Israel’s anti-boycott law does not distinguish between boycotts directed at Israel and those directed only at West Bank settlements.

At a recent event in Ramallah to commemorate International Palestine Solidarity Day, Rabbi Yisroel Meir Hirsh of Neturei Karta, weighed in on the ruling, saying to a group of Palestinians and liberal Israelis that:

The talk regarding the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank is irrelevant. This is because not only those settlements are a violation of international law, but the entire Zionist state is a violation of international law. Therefore the only thing that can stop the occupation is a global economic boycott of the Zionist state.”

 

A Weak Argument

The argument made by Judge Rapoport echoes what has been defacto reality in Israel since 1967: there is no West Bank, instead, the region is called Judea and Samaria, which are legitimate parts of the State of Israel.

Israel does not recognize that there are settlements that are “illegal” and ones that are legal because the official Israeli line is that Jews have a right to reside anywhere within the Land of Israel, and that includes Judea and Samaria.

Omar Shakir Israel

Omar Shakir Israel Omar Shakir poses with a copy of a report released following a two year investigation in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Oct. 23, 2018. Nasser Nasser | AP

The region that was once universally recognized as the West Bank is now officially the Judea and Samaria district, according to Israel. As an example, the Israeli police established the Shai District (Shai is the acronym in Hebrew for Shomron & Yehuda, or Samaria and Judea), in 1994. On their website, which is in Hebrew only, it says that the district is the second in size within the Israeli police force, but it is the first in “sensitivity.”  Sensitivity meaning security issues and clearly the reader will understand that they are speaking of the Arabs who reside within the district.

According to the site, the Shai district includes one hundred and twenty colonies, which are in fact cities and towns for Jews only. It contains three municipalities, twelve local councils, and six regional councils. It should come as no surprise that none of the countless cities and towns and villages that exist within that region and in which close to three million Palestinians reside are included on that list. In order to ensure the safety and security of the residents (Jewish residents), the website reads, the police district has to work alongside the army and the Shabak, or the secret police.

All this to say that the inclusion of Israeli settlements and colonies within Judea and Samaria into Israel, those same settlements that HRW refers to as “illegal,” is complete.

 

Israel vs. the “occupation”

The view taken by the Israeli courts regarding the deportation of Omar Shakir is, in fact, an honest assessment of the situation. Tel-Aviv is largely an illegal settlement sitting on the destroyed Palestinian city of Yafa. The same goes for many, if not most, of the Israeli neighborhoods of Jerusalem. The cities of Akka, Tabariya, Safad, Lydd, Ramle – to mention a few – all had a sizeable Palestinian population that was forcibly expelled and now Israeli Jews have taken their lands and their homes. Israeli colonies, stretching from Al-Jaleel in the north to the Naqab in the south, sit on lands taken by force from Palestinians. They are the same as the cities and towns built in what used to be the West Bank, a geopolitical entity that no longer exists.

The only remnant from the pre-1967 Israel is the quasi citizenship status held by the Palestinians who reside in the pre-1967 boundaries. While Israeli Jews are full-fledged citizens regardless of where they reside, the status of Palestinians is determined by their place of residence: 1948, Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria or Gaza.

The concern within Israel is that, if HRW calls for a boycott of certain colonies, what will stop them from calling a boycott on the others? The argument made by HRW, and its denial of the claim that it calls for boycott, did not hold up in Israeli court and for good reason. It is an argument has no merit in the reality that exists in Palestine.

Trying to separate “Israel Proper” from the “occupation” is an exercise in futility. So the question is, why does HRW, and many other organizations for that matter, still treat some settlements as illegal and not others? Furthermore, Israel clearly states that a call for the boycott of any Israeli settlement is to call for a boycott of Israel, why call on business to cease working in Judea and Samaria but not in other parts of Palestine?

What is perhaps the most crucial question of them all, if indeed Human Rights Watch is serious about its claims of Israeli human rights violations, why does it not endorse the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions known as BDS?

The approach that maintains that there is a legitimate Israel, and an occupation that is a separate entity, is the line held by liberal Zionist groups that are sometimes called “Zionist Left.” It is, however, a false assertion. There is but one Israel, it is an apartheid regime that governs all of historic Palestine and anyone who opposes it must call for a boycott. Calling to boycott only some of it is tantamount to saying that racism and violence are acceptable within certain boundaries.

At the event in Ramallah where Rabbi Hirsh spoke, other Israelis were present. They disrupted and heckled the Rabbi to a point where the Palestinian host had to stop and reprimand the Israelis and ask them to demonstrate respect, as it was they who decided on the speakers. What troubled the members of the Zionist “Left” who were present was that Rabbi Hirsh stated that not only are Judea and Samaria settlements are a violation of international law, but that the entire Zionist project is.

The truth hurts.

Feature photo | Omar Shakir, center, a U.S. citizen and employee of Human Rights Watch, stands next to Kenneth Roth before being deported from Israel at Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, November 25, 2019. Ammar Awad | Reuters

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

المقابلة التي امتنعت محطة راي نيوز_24 الإيطالي عن بثها.. الرئيس الأسد: أوروبا كانت اللاعب الرئيسي في خلق الفوضى في سورية

المقابلة التي امتنعت محطة راي نيوز_24 الإيطالي عن بثها.. الرئيس الأسد: أوروبا كانت اللاعب الرئيسي في خلق الفوضى في سورية

أكد السيد الرئيس بشار الأسد أن سورية ستخرج من الحرب أكثر قوة وأن مستقبلها واعد والوضع الميداني فيها الآن أفضل، مشيراً إلى ما حققه الجيش العربي السوري من تقدم كبير في الحرب ضد الإرهاب.

وفي مقابلة مع التلفزيون الإيطالي جرت في الـ 26 من تشرين الثاني الماضي على أن تبث بتاريخ الثاني من كانون الأول الجاري وامتنع التلفزيون الإيطالي عن بثها لأسباب غير مفهومة أوضح الرئيس الأسد أن أوروبا كانت اللاعب الرئيسي في خلق الفوضى في سورية ومشكلة اللاجئين فيها بسبب دعمها المباشر للإرهاب إلى جانب الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية وتركيا ودول أخرى.

وبين الرئيس الأسد أنه منذ بداية الرواية المتعلقة بالأسلحة الكيميائية أكدت سورية أنها لم تستخدمها وأن التسريبات الأخيرة حول تقرير منظمة حظر الأسلحة الكيميائية تثبت أن كل ما قالته سورية على مدى السنوات القليلة الماضية كان صحيحاً وأنها كانت محقة وهم كانوا مخطئين.

وأكد الرئيس الأسد أن ما فعلته منظمة حظر الأسلحة الكيميائية هو فبركة وتزوير لتقرير بشأن استخدام الكيميائي لمجرد أن الأمريكيين أرادوا منها فعل ذلك لتثبت أنها منظمة منحازة ومسيسة تستخدم كذراع لأمريكا والغرب لخلق المزيد من الفوضى.

ودعا الرئيس الأسد الدول التي تتدخل في المسألة السورية للتوقف عن هذا التدخل وكذلك التوقف عن انتهاك القانون الدولي والتزام الجميع به الأمر الذي ينعكس إيجاباً على وضع الشعب السوري.

وفيما يلي النص الكامل للمقابلة…

السؤال الأول:

سيادة الرئيس، شكراً لكم على استقبالنا. هل لكم أن تخبرونا عن ماهية الوضع في سورية الآن؟ ما الوضع على الأرض، وماذا يحدث في البلاد؟

الرئيس الأسد:

لو أردنا الحديث عن المجتمع السوري، فإن الوضع أفضل بكثير، حيث إننا تعلمنا العديد من الدروس من هذه الحرب. وأعتقد أن مستقبل سورية واعد، لأن من الطبيعي أن نخرج من هذه الحرب أكثر قوة. فيما يتعلق بالوضع على الأرض، فإن الجيش السوري يحقق تقدماً على مدى السنوات القليلة الماضية، وحرر العديد من المناطق من الإرهابيين وبقيت إدلب، حيث توجد (جبهة النصرة) المدعومة من الأتراك. وهناك أيضاً الجزء الشمالي من سورية، حيث غزا الأتراك أراضينا الشهر الماضي. أما فيما يتعلق بالوضع السياسي فيمكن القول إنه أصبح أكثر تعقيداً بسبب وجود عدد أكبر من اللاعبين المنخرطين في الصراع السوري من أجل إطالة أمده وتحويله إلى حرب استنزاف.

السؤال الثاني:

عندما تتحدثون عن التحرير، نعلم أن هناك رؤية عسكرية في ذلك الشأن، لكن ماذا عن الوضع الآن بالنسبة للأشخاص الذين قرروا العودة إلى المجتمع؟ أين وصلت عملية المصالحة؟ هل تحقق نجاحاً أم لا؟

الرئيس الأسد:

في الواقع، إن النهج الذي تبنيناه عندما أردنا خلق مناخٍ إيجابي سميناه المصالحة، لكن من أجل تمكين الناس من العيش معاً، ولتمكين أولئك الذين عاشوا خارج المناطق التي تسيطر عليها الحكومة من العودة إلى المؤسسات وسيادة القانون، منحنا العفو للجميع، وسيتخلى هؤلاء عن أسلحتهم ويلتزمون بالقوانين. الوضع ليس معقداً فيما يتعلق بهذه القضية. وقد تتاح لكِ الفرصة لزيارة أي منطقة، وسترين أن الحياة تعود إلى وضعها الطبيعي. فالمشكلة لم تكن في أن “الناس كانوا يقاتلون بعضهم بعضاً”؛ ولم يكن الوضع -كما تحاول الرواية الغربية تصويره- أن السوريين يقاتلون بعضهم بعضاً، أو أنها “حرب أهلية” كما يسمونها، هذا تضليل. واقع الحال هو أن الإرهابيين كانوا يسيطرون على تلك المنطقة ويطبقون قواعدهم. وعندما لا يعود أولئك الإرهابيون موجودين، سيعود الناس إلى حياتهم الطبيعية ويعيشون مع بعضهم بعضاً. لم تكن هناك حربٌ طائفية ولا حربٌ عرقية ولا حرب سياسية، بل كان هناك إرهابيون مدعومون من قوى خارجية ولديهم المال والسلاح، ويحتلون تلك المنطقة.

السؤال الثالث:

هل لديكم مخاوف من أن هذا النوع من الأيديولوجيا الذي طبق وأصبح أساساً لحياة الناس اليومية لسنوات عديدة، يمكن أن يظل –بطريقة أو بأخرى- موجوداً في المجتمع وأن يعود إلى الظهور عاجلاً أم آجلاً؟

الرئيس الأسد:

هذا هو أحد التحديات الرئيسية التي نواجهها. ما طرحته صحيح تماماً. لدينا مشكلتان. تلك المناطق الواقعة خارج سيطرة الحكومة كان يتحكم بها أمران: الفوضى، بسبب غياب القانون، وبالتالي لا يعرف الناس، وخصوصاً الأجيال الشابة، شيئاً عن الدولة والقانون والمؤسسات. الأمر الثاني، وهو متجذر بعمق في العقول، هو الأيديولوجيا.. الأيديولوجيا الظلامية.. الأيديولوجيا الوهابية، إن كان (داعش) أو (النصرة) أو (أحرار الشام)، أو أي نوع من هذه الأيديولوجيات الإسلامية الإرهابية المتطرفة. الآن، بدأنا بالتعامل مع هذا الواقع، لأنه عندما يتم تحرير منطقة، ينبغي حل هذه المشكلة، وإلا فما معنى التحرير؟ الجزء الأول من الحل هو ديني، لأن هذه الأيديولوجيا هي أيديولوجيا دينية، ورجال الدين السوريون، أو لنقل المؤسسة الدينية في سورية، تبذل جهداً كبيراً في هذا المجال، وقد نجحوا في مساعدة هؤلاء الناس على فهم الدين الحقيقي، وليس الدين الذي علمتهم إياه (جبهة النصرة) أو (داعش) أو الفصائل الأخرى.

السؤال الرابع:

إذاً، فقد كان رجال الدين والجوامع، بشكل أساسي، جزءاً من عملية المصالحة هذه؟

الرئيس الأسد:

هذا هو الجزء الأكثر أهمية. الجزء الثاني يتعلق بالمدارس؛ ففي المدارس، هناك مدرسون وتعليم، وهناك المنهاج الوطني. وهذا المنهاج مهم جداً لتغيير آراء تلك الأجيال الشابة، ثالثاً، هناك الثقافة ودَوْر الفنون والمثقفين، وما إلى ذلك. في بعض المناطق، ما يزال من الصعب لعب ذلك الدور، وبالتالي كان من الأسهل علينا أن نبدأ بالدين، ومن ثم بالمدارس.

السؤال الخامس:

 سيادة الرئيس، لنعد إلى السياسة للحظة. لقد ذكرتم تركيا، صحيح؟ وقد كانت روسيا أفضل حلفائكم على مدى هذه السنوات، وهذا ليس سراً، لكن روسيا تساوم تركيا على بعض المناطق التي تعتبر جزءاً من سورية. كيف تقيّمون ذلك؟

الرئيس الأسد:

لفهم الدور الروسي، علينا أن نفهم المبادئ الروسية. الروس يعتبرون أن القانون الدولي، والنظام الدولي الذي يستند إليه، هو في مصلحة روسيا ومصلحة العالم أجمع. وبالتالي، فإن دعم سورية، بالنسبة لهم، هو دعم للقانون الدولي. هذه نقطة. النقطة الثانية هي أن عملهم ضد الإرهابيين هو في مصلحة الشعب الروسي وفي مصلحة العالم بأسره. وبالتالي، فإن قيامهم بـ”مساومات” مع تركيا لا يعني أنهم يدعمون الغزو التركي، لكنهم أرادوا أن يلعبوا دوراً لإقناع الأتراك بأن عليهم أن يغادروا سورية. إنهم لا يدعمون الأتراك. إنهم لا يقولون: “هذا واقع جيد ونحن نقبله، ويتعين على سورية قبوله”. إنهم لا يقولون ذلك.

لكن، وبسبب الدور الأمريكي السلبي، والدور الغربي السلبي فيما يتعلق بتركيا والأكراد، تدخل الروس من أجل تحقيق التوازن مع ذلك الدور. لجعل الوضع، أنا لا أقول أفضل الآن، وإنما أقل سوءاً، إذا توخينا الدقة.

إذاً، هذا هو دورهم في هذه الأثناء. أما في المستقبل، فموقفهم واضح جداً: سيادة سورية وسلامة أراضيها. وسيادة سورية وسلامة أراضيها يتناقضان مع الغزو التركي، وهذا واضح بجلاء.

السؤال السادس:

إذاً، تقولون إن الروس يمكن أن يساوموا، لكن سورية لن تساوم تركيا. أقصد أن العلاقة ما تزال متوترة تماماً؟

الرئيس الأسد:

لا حتى الروس لم يساوموا بشأن السيادة. إنهم يتعاملون مع الواقع. وهناك واقع سيئ، وبالتالي عليك أن تنخرط فيه، ولا أقول للمساومة، لأن هذا ليس حلاً نهائياً. قد تكون مساومة فيما يتعلق بوضع قصير الأمد، لكن على المدى الطويل، أو المتوسط، ينبغي على تركيا أن ترحل. ليس هناك أي شك في ذلك.

 السؤال السابع:

وعلى المدى البعيد، هل هناك خطة لإجراء نقاشات بينكم وبين السيد أردوغان؟

الرئيس الأسد:

لن أشعر بالفخر إذا تعين عليّ ذلك يوماً ما؛ بل سأشعر بالاشمئزاز من التعامل مع مثل هذا النوع من الإسلاميين الانتهازيين. ليسوا مسلمين، بل إسلاميين، وهذا مصطلح آخر، مصطلح سياسي. لكنني أقول دائماً إن وظيفتي لا تتعلق بمشاعري، ولا بأن أكون سعيداً أو غير سعيد بما أفعله، وظيفتي تتعلق بمصالح سورية. وبالتالي، أينما كانت تلك المصالح، فسأتجه.

السؤال الثامن:

في الوقت الراهن، عندما تنظر أوروبا إلى سورية، بصرف النظر عن اعتباراتها بشأن البلد، ثمة قضيتان رئيسيتان: الأولى تتعلق باللاجئين، والثانية تتعلق بالجهاديين أو المقاتلين الأجانب وعودتهم إلى أوروبا. كيف تنظر إلى هذه الهواجس الأوروبية؟

الرئيس الأسد:

بداية، علينا أن نبدأ بسؤال بسيط: من خلق هذه المشكلة؟ لماذا لديكم لاجئون في أوروبا؟ إنه سؤال بسيط. لأن الإرهاب مدعوم من أوروبا، وبالطبع من الولايات المتحدة وتركيا وآخرين؛ لكن أوروبا كانت اللاعب الرئيسي في خلق هذه الفوضى في سورية. وبالتالي كما تزرع تحصد.

السؤال التاسع:

لماذا تقول: إن أوروبا كانت اللاعب الرئيسي؟

الرئيس الأسد:

لأن الاتحاد الأوروبي دعم علنا الإرهابيين في سورية منذ اليوم الأول، أو لنقل الأسبوع الأول، من البداية. حمّلوا المسؤولية للحكومة السورية؛ وبعض الأنظمة -كالنظام الفرنسي- أرسلت لهم الأسلحة. هم قالوا ذلك، أحد مسؤوليهم، أعتقد أنه كان وزير الخارجية فابيوس الذي قال “إننا نرسل أسلحة”. هم أرسلوا الأسلحة وخلقوا هذه الفوضى. ولذلك فإن عددا كبيراً من الناس – ملايين الناس لم يعد بإمكانهم العيش في سورية ووجدوا صعوبة في ذلك، وبالتالي كان عليهم الخروج منها.

 السؤال العاشر:

في اللحظة الراهنة، هناك اضطرابات في المنطقة، وهناك نوع من الفوضى. أحد حلفاء سورية الآخرين هي إيران، والوضع هناك يسير نحو التعقيد. هل لذلك أي انعكاس على الوضع في سورية؟

الرئيس الأسد:

بالتأكيد، فكلما كانت هناك فوضى، ستنعكس سلباً على الجميع، وسيكون لها آثار جانبية وتبعات، وخصوصاً عندما يكون هناك تدخل خارجي. إن كان الأمر عفوياً.. إن كنت تتحدثين عن مظاهرات وأناس يطالبون بالإصلاح أو بتحسين الوضع الاقتصادي، أو أي حقوق أخرى، فإن ذلك إيجابي. لكن عندما تكون عبارة عن تخريب ممتلكات وتدمير وقتل وتدخل من قبل القوى الخارجية، فلا يمكن لذلك إلا أن يكون سلبياً، لا يمكن إلا أن يكون سيئاً وخطيراً على الجميع في هذه المنطقة.

السؤال الحادي عشر:

هل أنتم قلقون حيال ما يحدث في لبنان، وهو جاركم الأقرب؟

الرئيس الأسد:

نفس الشيء. بالطبع، لبنان سيؤثر في سورية أكثر من أي بلد آخر لأنه جارنا المباشر. لكن مرة أخرى، إذا كان ما يحدث عفوياً ويتعلق بالإصلاح والتخلص من النظام السياسي الطائفي، فإنه سيكون جيداً للبنان. ومجددا، فإن ذلك يعتمد على وعي الشعب اللبناني بألا يسمح لأي كان من الخارج أن يحاول استغلال التحرك العفوي أو المظاهرات في لبنان.

السؤال الثاني عشر:

لنعد إلى ما يحدث في سورية. في حزيران، بعث البابا فرنسيس لكم برسالة يطلب فيها منكم الاهتمام بالناس واحترامهم، وخصوصاً في إدلب، حيث ما يزال الوضع متوتراً جداً بسبب القتال هناك، وحتى عندما يتعلق الأمر بمعاملة السجناء. هل رددتم عليه، وماذا كان ردكم؟

الرئيس الأسد:

تمحورت رسالة البابا حول قلقه بشأن المدنيين في سورية. وكان لدي ذلك الانطباع بأن الصورة ليست مكتملة لدى الفاتيكان، وهذا متوقع، بالنظر إلى أن الرواية في الغرب تدور حول هذه “الحكومة السيئة” التي تقتل “شعباً طيباً”. وكما ترين وتسمعين في نفس وسائل الإعلام بأن كل طلقة يطلقها الجيش السوري وكل قنبلة يرميها لا تقتل سوى المدنيين ولا تقع إلا على المستشفيات! إنها لا تقتل الإرهابيين بل تختار أولئك المدنيين! وهذا غير صحيح.

وبالتالي، رددت برسالة تشرح للبابا الواقع في سورية، وبأننا أول وأكثر من يهتم بحياة المدنيين، لأنك لا تستطيعين تحرير منطقة بينما يكون الناس فيها ضدك، لا تستطيعين التحدث عن التحرير بينما المدنيون أو المجتمع ضدك. الجزء المحوري الأهم في تحرير أي منطقة عسكرياً هو أن تحظى بالدعم الشعبي في تلك المنطقة بشكل عام. وهذا ما كان واضحاً على مدى السنوات التسع الماضية.

السؤال الثالث عشر:

لكن هل جعلتك تلك الدعوة تفطن، بطريقة ما، بأهمية حماية المدنيين وحماية الناس في بلدكم؟

الرئيس الأسد:

لا، فهذا ما نفكر فيه كل يوم، وليس من منظور الأخلاق والمبادئ والقيم وحسب، بل من منظور المصالح أيضاً. كما ذكرت قبل قليل، فبدون هذا الدعم، بدون الدعم الشعبي، لا يمكن تحقيق شيء، لا يمكن تحقيق التقدم سياسياً، أو عسكرياً، أو اقتصادياً أو في أي وجه من الوجوه. ما كنا سنتمكن من الصمود في هذه الحرب لتسع سنوات دون الدعم الشعبي، كما لا يمكنك أن تحظي بالدعم الشعبي بينما تقومين بقتل المدنيين، إنها معادلة بديهية لا يمكن لأحد دحضها. ولذلك قلت إنه بصرف النظر عن هذه الرسالة، فإن هذا هو هاجسنا.

لكن الفاتيكان دولة، ونعتقد أن دور أي دولة، إن كان لديها قلق بشأن أولئك المدنيين، هو أن تعود إلى السبب الرئيسي. والسبب الرئيسي هو الدعم الغربي للإرهابيين، والعقوبات المفروضة على الشعب السوري التي جعلت الوضع أسوأ بكثير، وهذا سبب آخر لوجود اللاجئين في أوروبا الآن. كيف تتسق رغبتكم بعدم وجود اللاجئين بينما تقومون في الوقت نفسه بخلق كل الأوضاع أو الأجواء التي تقول لهم: “اخرجوا من سورية واذهبوا إلى مكان آخر”. وبالطبع، فإنهم سيذهبون إلى أوروبا.

إذاً، ينبغي على هذه الدولة، أو أي دولة، أن تعالج الأسباب، ونأمل أن يلعب الفاتيكان ذلك الدور داخل أوروبا وفي العالم، لإقناع العديد من الدول بالتوقف عن التدخل في المسألة السورية، والتوقف عن انتهاك القانون الدولي. هذا كافٍ، فكل ما نريده هو التزام الجميع بالقانون الدولي. عندها سيكون المدنيون في أمان، وسيعود النظام، وسيكون كل شيء على ما يرام. لا شيء سوى ذلك.

السؤال الرابع عشر:

سيادة الرئيس، لقد اُتهمتم مرات عدة باستخدام الأسلحة الكيميائية، وقد شكل ذلك أداة لاتخاذ العديد من القرارات، ونقطة رئيسية، وخطاً أحمر ترتبت عليه العديد من القرارات. قبل عام أو أكثر من ذلك بقليل، وقع حادث دوما الذي اعتبر خطاً أحمر آخر. بعد ذلك، كانت هناك عمليات قصف، وكان يمكن أن تكون أسوأ، لكن شيئاً ما توقف. هذه الأيام، ومن خلال ويكيليكس، يتبين أن خطأً ما ارتكب في التقرير. إذاً، لا أحد يستطيع حتى الآن أن يقول ما حصل، إلا أن خطأ ما ربما حدث خلال صياغة التقرير حول ما جرى، ما رأيكم؟

الرئيس الأسد:

نحن نقول دائماً، ومنذ بداية هذه الرواية المتعلقة بالأسلحة الكيميائية، إننا لم نستخدمها، ولا نستطيع استخدامها، ومن المستحيل استخدامها في وضعنا، لعدة أسباب، دعينا نقل أسبابا لوجستية..

مداخلة:

أعطني سبباً واحداً!

الرئيس الأسد:

سبب واحد وبسيط جداً هو أننا عندما نكون في حالة تقدم، لماذا نستخدم الأسلحة الكيميائية؟! نحن نتقدم، فلماذا نحتاج لاستخدامها؟! نحن في وضع جيد جداً، فلماذا نستخدمها؟! وخصوصاً في عام 2018، هذا سبب.. السبب الثاني، ثمة دليل ملموس يدحض هذه الرواية: عندما تستخدمين الأسلحة الكيميائية، فأنتِ تستخدمين سلاح دمار شامل، أي تتحدثين عن آلاف القتلى، أو على الأقل مئات. وهذا لم يحدث أبداً، مطلقاً. هناك فقط تلك الفيديوهات التي تصوّر مسرحيات عن هجمات مفبركة بالأسلحة الكيميائية، وفي التقرير الذي ذكرته، طبقاً للتسريبات الأخيرة، ثمة عدم تطابق بين ما رأيناه في الفيديوهات وما رأوه كتقنيين وخبراء.

كما أن كمية الكلور التي يتحدثون عنها، وبالمناسبة فإن الكلور ليس سلاح تدمير شامل. هذا أولاً. ثانياً، الكمية التي عثروا عليها هي نفس الكمية التي يمكن أن تكون لديك في منزلك، لأن هذه المادة -كما تعرفين- موجودة في العديد من المنازل، ويمكن أن تستعمليها ربما في التنظيف، أو لأي غرض آخر. نفس الكمية بالتحديد. وما فعلته منظمة حظر الأسلحة الكيميائية، هو فبركة وتزوير التقرير لمجرد أن الأمريكيين أرادوا منهم فعل ذلك.

لذلك، لحسن الحظ، فإن هذا التقرير أثبت أن كل ما كنا نقوله على مدى السنوات القليلة الماضية، منذ عام 2013، كان صحيحاً. نحن كنا محقّين، وهم كانوا مخطئين. وهذا هو الدليل، الدليل الملموس بشأن هذه القضية.

إذاً، مرة أخرى تثبت منظمة حظر الأسلحة الكيميائية انحيازها، وأنها مسيّسة ولا أخلاقية. وتلك المنظمات التي ينبغي أن تعمل بالتوازي مع الأمم المتحدة على خلق المزيد من الاستقرار في سائر أنحاء العالم، تُستخدم كأذرع لأمريكا والغرب لخلق المزيد من الفوضى.

السؤال الخامس عشر:

سيادة الرئيس، بعد تسع سنوات من الحرب، تتحدثون عن أخطاء الآخرين. أودّ أن تتحدثوا عن أخطائكم، إذا كان هناك أي أخطاء. هل هناك شيء كان يمكن أن تفعلوه بطريقة مختلفة، وما الدرس الذي تعلمتموه ويمكن أن يساعد بلدكم؟

الرئيس الأسد:

بالتأكيد، فعندما تتحدثين عن فعل أي شيء، لا بد أن تجدي أخطاء. هذه هي الطبيعة البشرية. لكن عندما تتحدثين عن الممارسة السياسية، لنقل، ثمة شيئان: هناك الاستراتيجيات أو القرارات الكبرى، وهناك التكتيك، أو لنقل التنفيذ. وهكذا، فإن قراراتنا الاستراتيجية أو الرئيسية تمثلت في الوقوف في وجه الإرهاب، وإجراء المصالحات والوقوف ضد التدخل الخارجي في شؤوننا.

وحتى اليوم بعد تسع سنوات، ما زلنا نتبنى نفس السياسة، بل بتنا أكثر تمسكاً بها. لو كنّا نعتقد أنها كانت خاطئة، لغيرناها. في الواقع، فإننا لا نعتقد أنه كان هناك أي خطأ فيها. لقد قمنا بمهمتنا، وطبقنا الدستور في حماية الشعب.

الآن، إذا تحدثنا عن الأخطاء في التنفيذ، فبالطبع يوجد العديد منها. لكن أعتقد أنك إذا أردت التحدث عن الأخطاء المتعلقة بهذه الحرب فلا ينبغي أن نتحدث عن القرارات المتخذة خلالها، لأن الحرب -في جزء منها- هي نتيجة لأمور حدثت قبلها..

هناك شيئان واجهناهما خلال هذه الحرب: الأول هو التطرف. والتطرف نشأ في هذه المنطقة في أواخر ستينيات القرن العشرين وتسارع في ثمانينياته، خصوصاً الأيديولوجيا الوهابية. إذا أردت التحدث عن الأخطاء في التعامل مع هذه القضية، نعم، سأقول إننا كنّا متساهلين جداً مع شيء خطير جداً. وهذا خطأ كبير ارتكبناه على مدى عقود. وأتحدث هنا عن حكومات مختلفة، بما في ذلك حكومتنا قبل هذه الحرب.

الشيء الثاني هو عندما يكون هناك أشخاص مستعدون للثورة ضد النظام العام، وتدمير الممتلكات العامة، والتخريب، وما إلى ذلك، ويعملون ضد بلدهم، ويكونون مستعدين للعمل مع قوى أجنبية وأجهزة استخبارات أجنبية، ويطلبون التدخل العسكري الخارجي ضد بلادهم.. فهناك سؤال آخر: هو كيف وجد هؤلاء بيننا؟ إن سألتني كيف، فسأقول لك إننا قبل الحرب، كان لدينا نحو 50 ألف خارج عن القانون لم تقبض عليهم الشرطة، على سبيل المثال. وبالنسبة لأولئك الخارجين عن القانون فإن عدوهم الطبيعي هو الحكومة، لأنهم لا يريدون أن يدخلوا السجن.

السؤال السادس عشر:

وماذا عن الوضع الاقتصادي أيضا؟ لأن جزءاً مما حدث – لا أعلم ما إذا كان جزءاً كبيراً أم صغيراً – تمثل في سخط السكان والمشاكل التي عانوا منها في مناطق معينة لم يكن الاقتصاد ناجحاً فيها. هل يشكل هذا درساً ما تعلمتموه؟

الرئيس الأسد:

قد يشكل هذا عاملاً، لكنه بالتأكيد ليس عاملاً رئيسياً، لأن البعض يتحدث عن أربع سنوات من الجفاف دفعت الناس لمغادرة أراضيهم في المناطق الريفية والذهاب إلى المدن.. وبالتالي يمكن أن تكون تلك مشكلة، لكنها ليست المشكلة الرئيسية. البعض أيضا يتحدث عن السياسات الليبرالية. لم يكن لدينا سياسة ليبرالية، بل ما نزال اشتراكيين، وما يزال لدينا قطاع عام كبير جداً في الحكومة. لا يمكن الحديث عن سياسة ليبرالية بينما لديك قطاع عام كبير. وكنّا نحقق نموا جيداً.

مرة أخرى بالطبع، وفي أثناء تنفيذ سياستنا، يتم ارتكاب أخطاء. كيف يمكن خلق فرص متكافئة بين الناس.. بين المناطق الريفية والمدن؟ عندما تفتح الاقتصاد بشكل ما، فإن المدن ستستفيد بشكل أكبر، وسيؤدي هذا إلى المزيد من الهجرة من المناطق الريفية إلى المدن. قد تكون هذه عوامل، وقد يكون لها بعض الدور، لكنها ليست هي القضية، لأنه في المناطق الريفية، حيث هناك درجة أكبر من الفقر، لعب المال القطري دوراً أكثر فعالية مما لعبه في المدن، وهذا طبيعي؛ إذ يمكن أن يدفع لهم أجر أسبوع على ما يمكن أن يقوموا به خلال نصف ساعة. وهذا أمرٌ جيد جداً بالنسبة لهم.

السؤال السابع عشر:

شارفنا على الانتهاء، لكن لديّ سؤالين أودُّ أن أطرحهما عليكم. السؤال الأول يتعلق بإعادة الإعمار التي ستكون مكلفة جداً. كيف تتخيلون أنه سيكون بإمكانكم تحمّل تكاليف إعادة الإعمار، ومن الذين يمكن أن يكونوا حلفاءكم في إعادة الإعمار؟

الرئيس الأسد:

ليس لدينا مشكلة كبيرة في ذلك. وبالحديث عن أن سورية ليس لديها المال. لا، لأن السوريين في الواقع يمتلكون الكثير من المال. السوريون الذين يعملون في سائر أنحاء العالم لديهم الكثير من المال، وأرادوا أن يأتوا ويبنوا بلدهم؛ لأنك عندما تتحدثين عن بناء البلد، فالأمر لا يتعلق بإعطاء المال للناس، بل بتحقيق الفائدة. إنه عمل تجاري. ثمة كثيرون، وليس فقط سوريون، أرادوا القيام بأعمال تجارية في سورية. إذاً، عند الحديث عن مصدر التمويل لإعادة الإعمار، فالمصادر موجودة، لكن المشكلة هي في العقوبات المفروضة التي تمنع رجال الأعمال أو الشركات من القدوم والعمل في سورية. رغم ذلك، فقد بدأنا وبدأت بعض الشركات الأجنبية بإيجاد طرق للالتفاف على هذه العقوبات، وقد بدأنا بالتخطيط. ستكون العملية بطيئة، لكن لولا العقوبات لما كان لدينا أي مشكلة في التمويل.

السؤال الثامن عشر:

أودُّ أن أختتم بسؤال شخصي جداً. سيادة الرئيس، هل تشعر بنفسك كناجٍ؟

الرئيس الأسد:

إذا أردت الحديث عن حرب وطنية كهذه، حيث تعرضت كل مدينة تقريباً للأضرار بسبب الإرهاب أو القصف الخارجي أو أشياء من هذا القبيل، عندها يمكنك اعتبار أن كل السوريين ناجون. لكن مرة أخرى أعتقد أن هذه هي الطبيعة البشرية، أن يسعى المرء للنجاة.

مداخلة:

وماذا عنك شخصيا؟

الرئيس الأسد:

أنا جزءٌ من هؤلاء السوريين، ولا يمكن أن أنفصل عنهم، ولديّ نفس المشاعر. مرة أخرى، الأمر لا يتعلق بأن تكون شخصاً قوياً ناجياً، لو لم يكن لديك هذا المناخ، هذا المجتمع، هذه الحاضنة -إذا جاز التعبير- للنجاة، فإنك لا تستطيعين النجاة. إنها عملية جماعية، ولا تقتصر على شخص واحد. إنها ليست عملاً فردياً.

الصحفية:

شكراً جزيلاً لكم، سيادة الرئيس.

الرئيس الأسد:

شكراً لكِ.

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Tulsi Gabbard to attempt to pass bill to withdraw all US troops from Syria

UNITED STATES – OCTOBER 1: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, attends a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere hearing in Rayburn Building, October 1, 2014, on Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi who is imprisoned in Mexico. Tahmooressi, who suffers from PTSD, has been held in Mexico since being arrested in March for carrying guns across the border. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:00 A.M.) – U.S. congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D) of Hawaii will attempt to force a vote in the House of Representatives next week to require President Donald Trump to withdraw the remaining American troops from Syria.

“President Trump’s deployment of U.S. troops to secure Syrian oil fields that do not belong to us, with talks of welcoming in private oil corporations to take the oil, is unconstitutional and a violation of international law,” the congresswoman said in a statement last week.

If she is successful, the resolution will require the U.S. Armed Forces to withdraw from Syria unless they are engaged in anti-terror operations.

However, the presidential hopeful is facing heavy opposition from those within her own party, as the House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D) of Maryland told Al-Monitor on Wednesday that he intends to vote ‘no’ against the resolution.

“I intend to vote no,” Hoyer told Al-Monitor, adding that “we haven’t whipped this, but I think our members think an immediate withdrawal would not be appropriate.”

Gabbard, who has attempted to pass a similar resolution in the past, has been one of the most outspoken anti-war politicians in Washington; this stance has brought on unfounded allegations of Russian collusion from members of the Democratic Party.

Crimes against Humanity: US Sanctions Harm One Third of World’s People

Global Research, December 05, 2019
Workers World 3 December 2019

The most insidious and pervasive form of modern warfare by Wall Street and the Pentagon, acting in coordination, is passing largely unnoticed and unchallenged. This calculated attack is rolling back decades of progress in health care, sanitation, housing, essential infrastructure and industrial development all around the world.

Almost every developing country attempting any level of social programs for its population is being targeted.

U.S. imperialism and its junior partners have refined economic strangulation into a devastating weapon. Sanctions in the hands of the dominant military and economic powers now cause more deaths than bombs or guns. This weapon is stunting the growth of millions of youth and driving desperate migrations, dislocating tens of millions.

‘A crime against humanity’

Sanctions and economic blockades against Venezuela, Cuba and Iran are well known. But the devastating impacts of U.S. sanctions on occupied Palestine — or on already impoverished countries such as Mali, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, Fiji, Nicaragua and Laos — are not even on the radar screen of human rights groups.

Most sanctions are intentionally hidden; they don’t generate even a line of news. Some sanctions are quickly passed after a sudden news article about an alleged atrocity. The civilians who will suffer have nothing to do with whatever crime the corporate media use as an excuse. What are never mentioned are the economic or political concessions the U.S. government or corporations are seeking.

Sanctions cannot be posed as an alternative to war. They are in fact the most brutal form of warfare, deliberately targeting the most defenseless civilians — youth, the elderly, sick and disabled people. In a period of human history when hunger and disease are scientifically solvable, depriving hundreds of millions from getting basic necessities is a crime against humanity.

International law and conventions, including the Geneva and Nuremberg Conventions, United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, explicitly prohibit the targeting of defenseless civilians, especially in times of war.

Sanctions draw condemnation

Modern industrial society is built on a fragile web of essential technology. If pumps and sewage lines, elevators and generators can’t function due to lack of simple spare parts, entire cities can be overwhelmed by swamps. If farmers are denied seed, fertilizer, field equipment and storage facilities, and if food, medicine and essential equipment are deliberately denied, an entire country is at risk.

The Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations, Samuel Moncada, spoke to the XVIII Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 26. Addressing the 120 countries represented, he denounced the imposition of arbitrary measures, called “sanctions” by the U.S., as “economic terrorism which affects a third of humanity with more than 8,000 measures in 39 countries.”

This terrorism, he said, constitutes a “threat to the entire system of international relations and is the greatest violation of human rights in the world.” (tinyurl.com/uwlm99r)

The Group of 77 and China, an international body based at the U.N. and representing 134 developing countries, called upon “the international community to condemn and reject the imposition of the use of such measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries.”

The Group explained:

“The criminal, anti-human policy of targeting defenseless populations, which is in clear violation of United Nations Charter and international law, has now become the new weapon of choice for these powerful states since they are faced with strong opposition from the majority of their own population to the endless wars of occupation that they are already involved in.”

The power of banks

The mechanism and the ability of one country or one vote to destroy a country on the other side of the world are not well understood.

International capital uses the dollar system. All international transactions go through U.S. banks. These banks are in a position to block money transfers for the smallest transaction and to confiscate billions of dollars held by targeted governments and individuals. They are also in a position to demand that every other bank accept sudden restrictions imposed from Washington or face sanctions themselves.

This is similar to how the U.S. Navy can claim the authority to intercept ships and interrupt trade anywhere, or the U.S. Army can target people with drones and invade countries without even asking for a declaration of war.

Sometimes a corporate media outlet, a U.S.-funded “human rights” group or a financial institution issues charges, often unsubstantiated, of human rights violations, or political repression, drug trafficking, terrorist funding, money laundering, cyber-security infractions, corruption or non-compliance with an international financial institution. These charges become the opening wedge for a demand for sanctions as punishment.

Sanctions can be imposed through a U.S. Congressional resolution or Presidential declaration or be authorized by a U.S. government agency, such as the departments of the Treasury, Commerce, State or Defense. The U.S. might apply pressure to get support from the European Union, the U.N. Security Council or one of countless U.S.-established regional security organizations, such as the Organization of American States.

A U.S. corporate body that wants a more favorable trade deal is able to influence numerous agencies or politicians to act on its behalf. Deep-state secret agencies, military contractors, nongovernmental organizations funded by the National Endowment for Democracy, and numerous corporate-funded foundations maneuver to create economic dislocation and pressure resource-rich countries.

Even sanctions that appear mild and limited can have a devastating impact. U.S. officials will claim that some sanctions are only military sanctions, needed to block weapons sales. But under the category of possible “dual use,” the bans include chlorine needed to purify water, pesticides, fertilizers, medical equipment, simple batteries and spare parts of any kind.

Another subterfuge is sanctions that supposedly apply only to government officials or specific agencies. But in fact any and every transaction they carry out can be blocked while endless inquiries are held. Anonymous bank officials can freeze all transactions in progress and scrutinize all accounts a country holds. Any form of sanctions, even against individuals, raises the cost and risk level for credit and loans.

There are more than 6,300 names on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List of individuals sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the U.S. Treasury Department.

The OFAC describes its role this way:

“OFAC administers a number of different sanctions programs. The sanctions can be either comprehensive or selective, using the blocking of assets and trade restrictions to accomplish foreign policy and national security goals.”

There is also a Financial Action Task Force list and an International Traffic in Arms Regulations list.

The sanctions weapon has become so extensive that there is now a whole body of law to guide U.S. corporations and banks in navigating sales, credit and loans. It is intended to be opaque, murky and open to interpretation, payoffs and subterfuge. There seems to be no single online site that lists all the different countries and individuals under U.S. sanctions.

Once a country is sanctioned, it must then “negotiate” with various U.S. agencies that demand austerity measures, elections that meet Western approval, cuts in social programs, and other political and economic concessions to get sanctions lifted.

Sanctions are an essential part of U.S. regime change operations, designed in the most cynical way to exact maximum human cost. Sudden hyperinflation, economic disruption and unexpected shortages are then hypocritically blamed on the government in office in the sanctioned country. Officials are labeled inept or corrupt.

Agencies carefully monitor the internal crisis they are creating to determine the optimum time to impose regime change or manufacture a color revolution. The State Department and U.S. covert agencies fund numerous NGOs and social organizations that instigate dissent. These tactics have been used in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran, Syria, Libya, Zimbabwe, Sudan and many other countries.

A weapon of imperialism in decline

Gone are the days of Marshall Plan-type promises of rebuilding, trade, loans and infrastructure development. They are not even offered in this period of capitalist decay. The sanctions weapon is now such a pervasive instrument that hardly a week goes by without new sanctions, even on past allies.

In October the U.S. threatened harsh sanctions on Turkey, a 70-year member of the U.S.-commanded NATO military alliance.

On Nov. 27, Trump suddenly announced, by presidential decree, harsher sanctions on Nicaragua, calling it a “National Security Threat.” He also declared Mexico a “terrorist” threat and refused to rule out military intervention. Both countries have democratically elected governments.

Other sanctions sail through the U.S. Congress without a roll call vote — just a cheer and a unanimous voice vote, such as the sanctions on Hong Kong in support of U.S.-funded protests.

Why Wall Street can’t be sanctioned 

Is there any possibility that the U.S. could be sanctioned for its endless wars under the same provisions by which it has asserted the right to wreak havoc on other countries?

The Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, in November 2017 asked the Hague-based ICC to open formal investigations of war crimes committed by the Taliban, the Haqqani network, Afghan forces, and the U.S. military and the CIA.

The very idea of the U.S. being charged with war crimes led then White House National Security Advisor John Bolton to threaten judges and other ICC officials with arrest and sanction if they even considered any charge against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

“If the court comes after us, Israel or other U.S. allies, we will not sit quietly,” Bolton said. He noted that the U.S. “is prepared to slap financial sanctions and criminal charges on officials of the court if they proceed against any U.S. personnel. … We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. … We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.” (The Guardian, Sept. 10, 2018)

Bolton also cited a recent move by Palestinian leaders to have Israeli officials prosecuted at the ICC for human rights violations. The ICC judges got the message. They ruled that despite “a reasonable basis” to consider war crimes committed in Afghanistan, there was little chance of a successful prosecution. An investigation “would not serve the interests of justice.”

Chief Prosecutor Bensouda, for proposing an even-handed inquiry, had her U.S. visa revoked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Sanctions are a weapon in the capitalist world order used by the most powerful countries against those that are weaker and developing. One hundred years ago, in 1919, President Woodrow Wilson advocated sanctions as a quiet but lethal weapon that exerts pressure no nation in the modernworld can withstand.

Sanctions demonstrate how capitalist laws protect the right of eight multibillionaires to own more than the population of half the world.

U.N. sanctions demanded by Washington

The U.S., with the largest nuclear arsenal on the planet and 800 military bases, claims — while engaged in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya — that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran are the greatest threats to world peace.

In the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. succeeded in winning harsh new sanctions against Iran and the DPRK by threatening, on the eve of “war games,” that the U.S. would escalate hostilities to an open military attack.

This threat proved sufficient to get other Security Council members to fall in line and either vote for sanctions or abstain.

These strong-arm tactics have succeeded again and again. During the Korean War, when the U.S. military was saturation-bombing Korea, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Warren Austin held up a submachine gun in the Security Council to demand expanded authority in the war from that body.

Throughout the 1990s the U.S. government used sanctions on Iraq as a horrendous social experiment to calculate how to drastically lower caloric intake, destroy crop output and ruin water purification. The impact of these sanctions were widely publicized — as a threat to other countries.

Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, when asked about the half a million children who died as a result of U.S. sanctions on Iraq, replied, “We think the price is worth it.”

The sanctions imposed by the U.S. against Iran are book-length, spanning 40 years since the Iranian Revolution. The blockade and sanctions on Cuba have continued for 60 years.

Sanctions Kill campaign

It is an enormous political challenge to break the media silence and expose this crime. We need to put a human face on the suffering.

Targeted countries cannot be left to struggle by themselves in isolation  — there must be full solidarity with their efforts. The sheer number of countries being starved into compliance via U.S.-imposed sanctions must be dragged into the light of day. And one step in challenging the injustice of capitalist property relations is to attack the criminal role of the banks.

The effort to rally world opinion against sanctions as a war crime is beginning with a call for International Days of Action Against Sanctions & Economic War on March 13-15, 2020. Its slogans are “Sanctions Kill! Sanctions Are War! End Sanctions Now!”

These coordinated international demonstrations are a crucial first step. Research and testimony; resolutions by unions, student groups, cultural workers and community organizations; social media campaigns; and bringing medical supplies and international relief to sanctioned countries can all play a role. Every kind of political campaign to expose the international crime of sanctions is a crucial contribution.

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Waging War Against The Rule of Law

An Analysis (21 November 2019) by Lawrence Davidson

Part I—An Embarrassingly Hard Moment

There is no doubt about it: at our present moment in history it is embarrassingly hard to be a defender of the rule of law. This is particularly so when such laws seek to assert and protect human rights. It is embarrassing because being supportive of such regulations should be a “no-brainer.” Instead, it pits you against the U.S. government and its closest ally, Israel.

Thus, there is the fact that while there are many countries that take no heed of international law in this regard, if you happen to be an outspoken humanitarian Jewish American, you are really going to have a tough time of it. You are assailed on one side by powerful American leaders who attack international law with manifestly faulty reasoning (see below). On the other side, one is confronted by Zionist Jews, both inside and outside of Israel, who would destroy not only the international law that stands in the way of their territorial greed, but the ethical and moral integrity of the Jewish people as well. For all those Jewish Americans who see value in defending human rights and the rule of law, I truly commiserate: it is not easy being us!

Part II—Assaulting the Rule of Law

In its latest assault on the rule of law, the Trump administration has declared that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories are legitimate. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a self-described advocate of “Christian diplomacy” has led the way in this. He stated that: “After carefully studying all sides of the legal debate, this administration agrees with President Reagan [who, back in 1980, expressed a similar sentiment]. The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”

No details were given on the “careful study” Pompeo claims to have been made. And, frankly, it is hard to take this assertion seriously because the Trump folks are not known to be objective, or even attentive, when it comes to detail. No information was given on what basis Ronald Reagan came to his opinion. Nor is it known whether or not Reagan was senile at the time he spoke. And, no elaboration was made as to what “per se” means in the context of Pompeo’s declaration.

The Secretary of State went on: “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace. This is a complex political problem that can only be solved by negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.”

This bit of conjecture is dubious at best, and if such conclusions are the product of the Secretary’s “careful study,” we can conclude that Pompeo is either being disingenuous or is ignorant to the point of incompetence. Here is what I mean:

—The conclusion that “there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict” is a contrived one. Pompeo should certainly know that there are readily discernible reasons, most of them coming from the U.S.-Israeli side, why attempts to apply international law as the basis of a settlement have so far failed. Actually, there are at least forty three reasons—that is the number of vetos the United States has cast in the UN Security Council to protect Israel, largely from international law, between 1972 and 2017. In addition, one should never say “never.”

—The assertion that “arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace” is also contrived. Again, you cannot acquiesce    in seventy-one years of Israeli behavior, much of it in violation of international law, all the while protecting, as most U.S. governments have done, the criminal party, and then say “international law will not bring peace.” Obviously, the historical context means nothing to Pompeo.

—Pompeo’s final conclusion that “this is a complex political problem that can only be solved by negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians” is simply a throwaway line that has no meaning given the history of those “negotiations” that have been attempted.

Part III—Accepting “Reality”

Perhaps the most egregious assertion made by Secretary Pompeo was that all the U.S. is doing is “recognizing the reality on the ground.” This same excuse was used by the Trump administration when it blessed the occupation of the Golan Heights. Subsequently, some people assigned to the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem have claimed that all Trump was doing was recognizing the “truth.”

These claims oversimplify and distort the current situation to the point of absurdity. Mr. Pompeo and those folks at the embassy are not dabbling in some field of physics here. They have not come along and discovered a new naturally occurring phenomenon. The fact is that in our social, economic and political worlds we humans do not discover reality, we create our own constantly fluctuating “reality.” And, as touched on above, today’s variation on fluctuating “reality” in places like Gaza, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank are the result of Israeli actions that defy international law. That makes those acts and their consequences—their “reality”—by definition, criminal. At the same time, as we have seen, the folks in Washington gave the necessary assistance that allowed the Israelis to get away with their criminal behavior. That makes the people in Washington who provided this cover, criminals as well.

Part IV—Conclusion

So what we have here is the Secretary of State of a country that has acted as an accomplice to years of illicit behavior throwing up his hands and saying “the law has failed”—while not mentioning the fact that he and others before him, acting in their official government capacities, helped to arrange that outcome.

This bit of sleight of hand was no doubt made easier for Mike Pompeo given that he has ridden the coattails of a boss who is himself lawless. That fast-and-loose attitude toward the rule of law is a main reason Donald Trump is going to be impeached.

Despite all, the struggle of the Palestinians and their allies will go on. Applying the appropriate biblical comparisons, the BDS movement (the boycott of Israel) has become the “light unto the nations” that Israel itself was mythically supposed to be. And outspoken anti-Zionist Jews, like some of those Old Testament prophets, are now the last bastion against Israel’s racist idolatry.

Addendum24 November 2019, supplied by a close historian friend : “In 1931, in contravention of International Law, Japan occupied Manchuria and turned it into a vassal state called Manchukuo. In response, the United States announced the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine declaring that this nation would never recognize territorial changes brought about by force.” How many of our working diplomates even remember that this doctrine exists?

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About Lawrence Davidson

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He has been publishing his analyses of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, international and humanitarian law and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010.

NGOs Stand Against «Israeli» War Machine Invading Canadian Universities & Recruiting Students

NGOs Stand Against «Israeli» War Machine Invading Canadian Universities & Recruiting Students

By Fatima Haydar

Beirut – The words “Free Free Palestine!” rang out. The chant once unheard grew louder, livelier and stronger. No, this wasn’t in Palestine. It wasn’t in some Middle Eastern country either. This was halfway across the globe in faraway Canada!

On November 20, the prestigious York University, Canada’s third largest, hosted an on-campus event featuring reservists from the “Israeli” Occupation Forces [IOF].

The event on Wednesday night, which included a panel discussion featuring “Reservists on Duty” – a group made up of former IOF soldiers, advertised the “Israeli” army’s strength and morale.

Meanwhile, prior to the event, activists and social media users called for a protest against the arrival of IOF members. Many denounced the university for hosting those who were tasked with upholding an illegal occupation, enforcing apartheid, murdering protesters and committing war crimes.

Canadian Defenders for Human Rights [CD4HR] – a registered non-profit organization dedicated to defending the rights of people of all backgrounds, color, and faith – was among those that spoke up.

The group’s director Firas Al Najim slammed the atrocious behavior of the Zionists in Canada.

A video clip shows Al Najim protesting against the event on campus and joining ranks with another demonstration held by York’s Students against “Israeli” Apartheid [SAIA]. He was crying out:

We condemn the Zionist regime.

You’re a bunch of cowards! You kill children! You kill senior citizens! You kill everybody!

You are WAR CRIMINALS!

You have the audacity to say a word!

You are a danger to the Canadian society!

Zionism is terrorism!

Holding up the Palestinian flag during the protest, Al Najim stressed his organization’s solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people of different religious backgrounds. He further condemned the “Israeli” occupation of the Holy Land of Palestine, calling for the “dismantlement of the illegitimate Zionist regime”.

Al Najim rejected the presence of the IOF, whom he called “a bunch of mercenaries from everywhere in the world”, promoting their “evil agenda”, hatred and their war crimes.

The Canadian activist further urged his government and its officials to condemn “Israeli” violations, thanking Canadian PM Justin Trudeau for his recent move and stance in condemning “Israel” and standing up for international law.

The Trudeau government on Tuesday reversed course and voted in favor of a United Nations resolution condemning the apartheid “Israeli” entity for its occupation of Palestinian territories.

Meanwhile, Al Najim’s chants blended with those of students and SAIA members who came out to oppose the visit of IOF soldiers on campus, while yelling:

All Out! No “Israeli” soldiers on our campus!

They wanted to send a message that “Israeli” war criminals actively participating in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and violating their human rights are not welcome on their campus.

The “Israeli” entity has recently admitted to murdering Palestinian children in their homes and bombing residential buildings after the latest violence in occupied Palestinian territories.

To say that no one is above the law is to say that laws must be applied to everyone equally regardless of race, gender, status or any other consideration.

However, it appears that, as understood by Western capitals, there are people and institutions that are above the law; today’s war criminals in the Middle East – who portrayed themselves as yesterday’s “oppressed” minority, have a privileged status that shields them from indictment.

A pen is mightier than a sword! But in this case, even a word is mightier than the whole “Israeli” arsenal altogether.

Report Showing ‘Iranian Military’ Hit by the Israeli Air Raid Near Damascus!

 

Beit Saber Damascus western countryside - israeli missile strikes house killing civilians

Everything Israel bombs in Syria sells it to the fools who believe its propaganda as ‘Iranian military targets’, and especially ‘Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ facility, as if that is not a breach of international law by itself.

On the ground and in reality it’s totally the opposite. Everything you hear from Israeli sources reflects totally the opposite to cover their crimes.

The US Taxpayers should watch this following report to see how their money is used by Israel. They must be satisfied with the ‘achievements’ of their 51st unofficial state living completely on their account.

Mohammad al-Khodr from the Lebanese Al Mayadeen news channel paid a visit to the village of Beit Saber, an agricultural village about 50 kilometers from the Syrian capital Damascus which was struck by one of the Israeli missiles two days ago, and also visited Qudsayya, another suburb near Damascus which was hit by another Israeli missile and this is their findings:

 

The video is also available on BitChute: https://www.bitchute.com/video/7chXUEzARh1E/beit saber damascus countryside israel missile strike house killing civilians

Israel was always present to lend a hand to terrorists fighting their unholy fake ‘jihad’ war against the Syrian state and the Syrian people under the US leadership. Whenever they need support help comes from their brethren in the IDF terrorist organization, and whenever the US wants to increase the pressure on Syria, the terrorist attacks would mount, foreign parties would increase their negative intervention, EU stooges will increase their sanctions against Syria, and Israel will be there for the dirty work.

From yesterday’s NATO terrorist attacks against Aleppo which never stopped throughout the Syrian crisis:

 

Note that Israel carries out its bombings against all targets after midnight, and from across borders, and in many cases hiding behind civilian airlines, showing the heinous nature of its war criminal leaders.

Those who believe Israeli media, similarly to who believed other Pentagon mainstream propagandists and fell for the Iraqi WMDs lie, then Libya lie, then countless other lies across the planet will continue to fall for the same lies by the same liars. There is a saying in America: Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, so big shame on the US fools.

Finally the USA Supports the One State Solution

 

One State .jpg

By Gilad Atzmon

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced yesterday that the US is softening its position on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Secretary Pompeo repudiated the 1978 State Department legal opinion that stated that Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.”

 It is hard to determine whether the move was intended to rescue Benjamin Netanyahu’s political career or to buy the Jewish Lobby’s support for President Trump at a critical time. It is reasonable to assume that the policy was put forth to advance both aims.

 Pompeo’s declaration was, predictably, welcomed by PM Netanyahu and denounced by Palestinian officials and anyone else who still advances the delusional Two State Solution. Like Secretary Pompeo, I am far from an expert on international law, but it seems the notion of international law is vague or elastic enough to allow the secretary to (mis) interpret it in a radical manner. Yet, unlike most Palestinian solidarity campaigners, I see Trump, his administration and the recent move as a positive development.

 However inadvertently, Trump has finally committed the USA to the One State Solution. It is hard to deny that the area between the ‘River and the Sea’  is a single piece of land. It shares one electric grid, one pre-dial code (+972) and one sewage system. Ay present, the land is ruled over by a racist, tribal and discriminatory ideology through an apparatus that calls itself  ‘The Jewish State;’ and declares itself home for every Jew around the world; yet, is abusive, lethal and some would say genocidal toward the indigenous people of the land.

Yesterday’s move may buy Netanyahu some time and it may save Trump from being evicted from his current residence, but what it did most clearly was to redeliver a message to the Palestinians: In the battle for your liberation you are alone. America is not a negotiator, it has never been one. The USA has a side in the conflict and it is not your side.

In categorical terms Pompeo’s declaration repeats Trump’s earlier decision to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On December 6, 2017, President Trump announced that the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and ordered the relocation of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. No doubt, the move bought Trump support from the Jewish Lobby in America, and political gain for Netanyahu in the Jewish State, it was also an unambiguous message to the Palestinians: there is no prospect of a  harmonious and peaceful solution for your plight.

 For the Palestinians, the move also exposed the misleading and dangerous nature of their ‘solidarity’ movement. Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist institutions have undertaken a relentless effort to suppress the Palestinian’s Right of Return and replace it with watery alternatives such as ‘End of occupation’ or  ‘the Right to BDS.’ Trump’s move forced the Palestinians to accept that they were alone in their battle and finally  accept that The Right of Return is the core and the essence of their plight. Less than four months after Trump’s Jerusalem decision, on 30 March 2018,  thousands of Gazans gathered on the Israeli border to demand a return to their land.

That clumsy decision by Trump made to serve some immediate political purpose to do with Jewish support has matured into a vast awakening for the Palestinians.  Week after week, for almost three years, Gazans have arrived at the Gaza border in the thousands to bravely confront the IDF’s merciless snipers, tanks and air force.  The Hamas owes a big thank you to Trump who has managed to fuel and unite the Palestinians with a renewed spirit of fearless resistance. Israeli military analysts and commanders admit that the situation at the Gaza border is pretty much out of control. They agree that Israel’s power of deterrence is literally a matter of  nostalgia. Accordingly, Palestinian resistance organizations do not hesitate to retaliate against  Israel. Last week Israel was hit by the rain of 400 rockets fired over the course of only two days in response to  Israel’s assassination of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant.

 Pompeo’s declaration provides an explicit and necessary message to the Palestinians in general and in the West Bank in particular. The conflict is not progressing toward a peaceful resolution. Those amongst the Palestinians who advocated the ‘Two States Solution’ will have to hide now.  Pompeo has affirmed that there is one Holy Land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. From now on the battle over this disputed land is whether it will be subject to the racist discriminatory ideology implied by the notion of “The Jewish State” and its ‘National Bill,’ or if it will transform itself into a ‘State of its Citizens’ as is inherit in the notion of One Palestine.

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