To A Wider Prison: Bahraini Regime Conditionally Releases Some Political Prisoners

September 16, 2021 

To A Wider Prison: Bahraini Regime Conditionally Releases Some Political Prisoners

By Staff, Agencies

As if the Bahraini regime is just sending political prisoners from small cells to a wider prison…

The Bahraini regime has conditionally released 30 prisoners under new rules allowing electronic monitoring and home detention instead, the government and activists said on Wednesday. Almost all those freed are considered political detainees by rights groups.

The Gulf state has imprisoned thousands of protesters, journalists and activists – some in mass trials – since an anti-government uprising in 2011. It says it prosecutes those who commit crimes in accordance with international law, and rejects criticism from the United Nations and others over the conduct of trials and detention conditions.

Under a 2017 “alternative sentences” law prisoners who had served at least half their sentence in jail were allowed to complete it outside via measures including community service, rehabilitation courses and electronic surveillance.

Last week, the king amended the law to allow a switch to non-custodial punishments at any point in a sentence.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, a Bahraini activist in exile who heads the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy [BIRD], said 27 of those released this week were political prisoners, and many had been detained when they were juveniles.

“However, they will continue to face severe restrictions on their liberty and these rare releases remain overshadowed by the continued incarceration of hundreds of political prisoners in Bahrain,” said Alwadaei. He called on the government to unconditionally release all political detainees.

One of those released on Sunday night was Kameel Juma Hasan, who was arrested at age 14 and sentenced to 28 years in 2019. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention [WGAD] in May said it considered him to have been arbitrarily detained.

Documents seen by Reuters show some release offer conditions including devices to monitor movements and bans on speaking to the press, using social media or any political activities.

Hassan Mushaima, who was arrested in 2011 and jailed for life for anti-government protests, declined a conditional release offer this week, his son Ali Mushaima told Reuters.

Several high-profile government critics remain in prison, including Abduljalil al-Singace who has been on hunger strike for more than 60 days.

Leading human rights activist Nabeel Rajab was released under the alternative sentence law in June 2020.

BIRD estimates that there are over 1,400 political prisoners out of a total prison population in Bahrain of around 3200-3800.

On Wednesday the public prosecution claimed it was considering alternative sentences for six children, without elaborating.

Earlier this year prisoners and security forces clashed inside Jaw prison, and families protested outside, after COVID-19 outbreaks.

Imposing Human Rights conditions on Afghan Government.

September 15, 2021

Imposing Human Rights conditions on Afghan Government.

By Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

The US is exerting pressure on the Afghan Government for respecting human rights. Also, the US is lobbying with its allies to exert pressure on Afghanistan and should not recognize their legitimacy unless they meet few demands, among which is Human rights at the top of the list.

What the US was doing in Afghanistan for twenty years? Was it in respect of Human rights? Bombing Marriage parties, funeral ceremonies, Mosques, Shrines, Schools, Hospitals, was respecting Human rights? Dropping Mother of all bombs, extensive use of force, weapons, and ammunition was it the respect of Human rights? Use of dirty tricks, and high-tech weapons and technologies, was in respect to Human rights? The US was maintaining several jails in Afghanistan, was it in respect of Human Rights? Keeping many detention centers, was it in respect of Human rights? Creation of so many torture cells, was it the rest of Human rights? So many investigation centers, was am to protect human rights? The US involved 46 countries to attack Afghanistan was it human rights exercise? Additional 11 countries also supported in war against Afghanistan, was it aimed to protect human rights? Keeping 150,000 troops in Afghanistan (peek time), was it respecting human rights? Killing innocent citizens, children, civilians, women, elder people, was part of the American Human Rights adventure? Use of drones and killing Taxi driver along with his two young children, was it also the respect of Human right? Excessive use of powers, draconian laws, and extrajudicial killings, was part of US policy of Human Rights? How many women were raped, insulted, humiliated, is this American rest to Human rights? Child abuse was a common phenomenon, is this the American way of resting human rights? Shame! Shame! Shame!

The US has no moral authority to talk about Human Rights and put extraordinary conditions on the Afghan Government and irrational excuses to coerce Afghans. The entire world knows, what happened in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and in many other countries, the American role is very much obvious and known to everyone. The US is a partner in extreme violations of Human rights in Palestine and Kashmir. The US is extending extraordinary support to Israel and India, which are notorious for Human rights violations. Yet, if the US is talking about human rights, is beyond our imaginations. A country, who is committing the worst human rights violations, is talking about Human rights, is not matching its actions and words. Even, inside America, what so ever is happening with minorities, immigrants, and black people, is well-known to everyone.

American human rights violations and war crimes in Afghanistan must be trial and fix responsibilities on all individuals involved. Punish them according to respective law according to the degree of crime and level of involvement.

However, in Afghanistan, life is rapidly restoring toward normalcy. 20 years of American illegitimate occupation has ended and the Taliban are restoring peace, stability, and law & order situation, which is improving gradually. Now people feel safer and secure. Government offices are functioning properly. Women are working with full confidence as usual. Girls are getting an education in a routine matter. Taliban government has ensured the safety of all its citizens. People of Afghanistan are happy and have welcomed the Taliban.

Taliban are real representatives of Afghanistan and very much loyal and sincere with their country and enjoy public support and trust. Unlike President Noor Muhamad Turkey, President Hafizullah Amin, President Babrak Karmal, and President Dr. Najeeb, who were traitors and planted by the USSR, and were working on foreign agenda, the Taliban are keeping the Afghan interest at the top. Unlike President Hamid Karzai, and President Ashraf Ghani, who were CIA agents, and puppets, and installed by the US. Both of them were implementing and serving their masters. Taliban are Afghans and serving Afghans only.

If the US demands to include such traitors, it may not be possible, as it is illogical to bring traitors and foreign agents back. Taliban fought for twenty years for freedom and finally defeated the US. Taliban has sacrificed many precious lives, close relatives, suffered jails, tortures, and exiles, and now after victory, they have the right to form their own government. It is their legal and legitimate right, the world must accept this fact and realize it, the sooner the better.

Taliban are true Afghans, they understand their culture, traditions, and tribal society, and they will form a system of government, which suits Afghanistan. There is no need for any dictation from the outside world. Let Afghans lead their country and manage their affairs in the best possible manner, which suits them. Outside interference needs to reach an end. The status of human rights in Afghanistan under Taliban rule is much better than in the last twenty years of American occupation. People feel relaxed and thank the Taliban for providing them dignity, safety, respect, and protection. Under American occupation, no one was sure that if he or she leaves home, and come back safe. Any time anywhere anything can happen, as the US troops were wild and treating Afghans just like sheep and goats, mistreating them, insulting and humiliating them. Especially, the women can be raped, tortured, humiliated by troops. How many young Afghan girls were smuggled and trafficked to America and Europe to work in the sex industry? Can Americans justify it as human rights? Taliban has provided respect and protection to women. Majority of women are very happy with Taliban rule. Exceptions must be there, we may not deny exceptional cases, but vast majority of women are happy and satisfied.

Taliban were freedom fighters and won the long war of twenty years against a superpower and they are competent and equipped with all modern knowledge. They understand how to manage a country and how to run a country. Of course, they are facing huge challenges, but these challenges are created artificially by the US and its allies. Like freezing Afghan assets, using IMF, World Bank, International Financial Institutions, and donors, to coerce Afghans.

The US has planned something else, but what happens is the opposite. The US evacuated its troops from Afghanistan in a haphazard manner to create a vacuum, leading toward civil war. The US deployed around twenty thousand private defense contractors to create unrest and civil war in Afghanistan. The US shifted ISIS-K to Afghanistan, equipped them, funded them, and provided those training, to create unrest and civil war in Afghanistan. But on the ground Taliban has managed very well and avoided any civil war or unrest on the ground. The US is desperate, taking measures to destabilize the new government in Afghanistan.

The US is using various tricks to destabilize Afghanistan, it includes economic measures, human rights excuses, women’s rights, etc. to create unrest. The US is pursuing allies and other countries to exert pressure on Afghanistan to achieve its ill-designs. Pakistan is facing such pressure from the US. Unfortunate!

However, the Taliban performed very well on grounds, and the world has seen and witnessed that the Taliban are capable and honest, kind, gentle, competent. Taliban got international recognition already. The Qatar deputy foreign Minister has already paid an official visit. Many other countries are ready to establish good relations with the new Government as soon as they announce formally.

The Whole region suffered a lot due to the American invasion of Afghanistan for twenty years, and cannot afford any further unrest. All the regional countries with a stable, safe, and prosperous Afghanistan. If few countries like America, want to spoil it, may not succeed.

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

إعلام محور المقاومة

22/06/2021

فجأة ودون سابق إنذار تمّ إغلاق مواقع تابعة لقنوات تلفزيونيّة لمحور المقاومة، وأعلن على صفحاتها الرئيسية أنها تغلق بقرار من وزارة العدل الأميركيّة، والإغلاق سواء كان رسمياً أو عبر قراصنة هو تعبير عن هشاشة المزاعم الأميركيّة حول التمسك بحرية الرأي والإعلام، والسابقة ليست جديدة فهي تعبير عن استمرار سبقه الكثير من إجراءات القمع التي بدأت مع تصنيف مؤسسات إعلاميّة على لوائح الإرهاب. وكانت البداية مع قناة المنار.

اللافت أن هذا يجري في بداية ولاية الرئيس الأميركي الجديد جو بايدن، الذي جعل في مقاربته لإعادة صياغة سياسات بلاده عنوان حقوق الإنسان المرجع الذي يوجّهها، وأول هذه الحقوق حق التعبير، فعندما تفاوض واشنطن مع طهران لرفع العقوبات والعودة إلى الاتفاق النووي، لا تفعل ذلك بحساب الاعتراف بحق الشعب الإيراني، بل دفعاً لما تعتقده الأصعب وهو امتلاك إيران لسلاح نووي. والسياسة الفعلية لواشنطن هي ما يجسّده قرار إقفال موقع قناة العالم ومواقع قناة المسيرة اليمنيّة وقناة الكوثر العراقية وقناة فلسطين اليوم، وكلها مواقع إعلاميّة لا تحمل إلا الآراء.

في الوقت نفسه يصمت الأميركي عن انتهاكات جدية ومؤلمة لحقوق الإنسان، واعتداءات موصوفة على حرية التعبير، فتسقط المعارضة الإماراتيّة آلاء الصديق في حادث مدبّر في لندن، كانت واشنطن ستشكل له لجنة تحقيق دولية لو كان المعني منشقاً روسياً، وستتخذ من باب الاحتياط عقوبات فورية حتى ينتهي التحقيق، وبالمثل بعد شهور من الوعود بالسير حتى النهاية في تحميل ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان مسؤوليّة قتل الصحافي جمال الخاشقجي، قرّر بايدن وقف أي ملاحقة بحق ابن سلمان.

يحظى نظام البحرين برعاية وحماية واشنطن رغم فضائح الانتهاكات التي توثقها كل الهيئات الدولية الأممية والمنظمات الحقوقية، حيث آلاف معتقلي الرأي يقبعون في السجون مهددين بتفشي وباء كورونا، ويعاني قادة كبار السن ومرضى بينهم من معاناة المرض من دون أن ينالوا أبسط رعاية صحية.

لا ترفّ عين المسؤولين الأميركيين عندما يقرأون التقارير عن أحوال الفقر في اليمن والمعاناة في سورية وفنزويلا، بل يتباهون بنتاج الحصار والعقوبات، وهم يعرفون ويعترفون أنهم يعاقبون الشعوب على خياراتها، كما فعلوا عندما رفضوا الاعتراف بنتائج الانتخابات الفلسطينية التي قاموا برعايتها عبر مؤسسة كارتر عندما جاءت النتائج تحمل قوى المقاومة إلى البرلمان.

فيديوات مرتبطة

Between the lines of the Biden-Putin summit

Between the lines of the Biden-Putin summit

June 17, 2021

Biden hinted US wants Russia ‘back in the fold’ but Putin won’t being leaving China’s embrace any time soon

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at AsiaTimes

Let’s start with the written word.

In Geneva, the US and Russia issued a joint statement where we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

Assorted Dr. Strangeloves will cringe – but at least the world has it in writing, and may breathe a sigh of relief with this breakthrough of sorts. That doesn’t mean that a “non-agreement capable” US industrial-military complex will abide.

Moscow and Washington also committed to engage in an “integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future that will be deliberate and robust.” The devil in the details is in which “near future” the dialogue will progress.

A first step is that ambassadors are returning to both capitals. Putin confirmed that the Russian Foreign Ministry and the State Department will “start consultations” following the new START-3 treaty extension for five years.

Equally important was the actual Rosebud in Geneva: the Minsk protocol. That was one of the key drivers for the White House to actually request the summit to the Kremlin – and not the other way around.

The US establishment was shaken by the lightning-flash military buildup in Russian territory contiguous to Donbas – which was a response to Kiev provocations (Putin: “We conduct exercises on our territory, but we do not conduct exercises dragging equipment and weapons to the US border”).

The message was duly received. There seems to be a change of posture by the US on Ukraine – implying the Minsk protocol is back.

But that can all be – once again – shadow play. Biden said,

“We agreed to pursue diplomacy related to the Minsk agreement.”

To “pursue diplomacy” not necessarily means strictly abiding by a deal already endorsed by the UN Security Council which is being disrespected by Kiev non-stop. But at least it implies diplomacy.

A benign reading would reveal that some red lines are finally being understood. Putin did allude to it: “In general, it is clear to us what our US partners talk about, and they do understand what we say, when it comes to the ‘red lines.’ But I should say frankly that we have not gone as far as placing the emphases in detail and distribute and share something.”

So no detail – at least not yet.

Giving away the game

Talking before boarding Air Force One out of Geneva, a relaxed Joe Biden seems to have given away the game – in a trademark self-deluded way.

He said, “Russia is in a very, very difficult spot right now… They are being squeezed by China. They want desperately to remain a major power.”

This reveals a curious mix between zero knowledge about the complex, always evolving Russia-China comprehensive strategic partnership and outright wishful thinking (“squeezed by China”, “desperate to remain a major power”).

Russia is a de facto major power. Yet Putin’s vision of complete Russian sovereignty can only flourish in a true multipolar world coordinated by a Concert of Sovereigns: a realpolitik-based Balance of Power.

That’s in sharp contrast to the unipolarity privileged by the Hegemon, whose establishment considers any political player calling for sovereignty and multipolarity as a sworn enemy.

This cognitive dissonance certainly was not removed by what Putin, Biden and their extended teams discussed at Villa La Grange.

It’s quite enlightening to revive the arc from Anchorage to Geneva – which I have been chronicling for Asia Times for the past three months. In Alaska, China was hurled into a dingy environment and received with insults at the diplomatic table – responded in kind by the formidable Yang Jiechi. Compare it with the Hollywood-style ceremonial in Geneva.

The difference in treatment offered to China and Russia once again gives away the game.

US ruling elites are totally paralyzed by the Russia-China strategic partnership. But their ultimate nightmare is that Berlin will understand that once again they are being used as cannon fodder – which they are as it’s been clearly visible throughout the Nord Stream 2 saga.

That might eventually propel Berlin into the ultimate Eurasian alliance with Russia-China. The recently signed Atlantic Charter signals that the ideal scenario for the Anglo-Americans – shades of WWII – is to have Germany and Russia as irreconcilable opposites.

So the main American goal in the somewhat quirky Putin-Biden photo op (Putin smirk meets Biden looking into the distance) was to trick Putin into thinking Washington wants Russia “back into the fold”, moving Moscow away from Beijing and avoiding a triple alliance with Berlin.

What about regional stability?

There were no substantial leaks from Geneva – at least not yet. We don’t know whether Lavrov and Blinken actually did much of the talking when only the four of them – plus translators – were in the library room.

At the extended meeting, notorious Maidan cookie distributor Victoria ‘F**k the EU’ Nuland had a seat on the table. That might imply that even if US-Russia agree on nuclear stability, regional stability remains largely off the table (Putin: “What is stable in supporting a coup in Ukraine?”)

Biden vaguely referred to US and Russia possibly working together on humanitarian aid to Syria. That was code for Idlib – where NATO’s Turkey is actively supporting jihadis of the al-Nusra kind. Not a word on illegal American occupation of Syrian territory – complete with oil smuggling, and the fact that the real humanitarian crisis in Syria is a direct result of US sanctions.

None of this was asked in both pressers. A passing word on Iran, another passing word on Afghanistan, not even a mention of Gaza.

Putin, in full command of the facts and insisting on logic, was clearly accommodating, emphasizing “no hostility” and “a willingness to understand each other”. Biden, to his credit, said disagreements were not dealt with in a “hyperbolic atmosphere” and his “agenda” is not directed against Russia.

Putin went into extreme detail explaining how Russia is “restoring lost infrastructure” in the Arctic. He’s “deeply convinced” the US and Russia should cooperate in the Arctic.

On cybersecurity, he was adamant that Moscow provided all information on US requests about cyber attacks, but never receives answers from the Americans. He emphasized most cyber attacks originate in the US.

On human rights: “Guantanamo is still working, does not comply with any international law”. And “torture was used in American prisons, including in Europe.”

Very important: they did touch upon, “casually”, the vaccine wars, and the “possibility” was evoked of mutual recognition of vaccines.

For the record: US mainstream media was invited for Putin’s presser – and felt free to lodge accusatory “questions” faithful to the “rogue Kremlin behavior” script while no Russian media whatsoever was allowed on Biden’s presser.

In a nutshell: applying Kissinger’s Divide and Rule to put a spanner in the Russia-China works was D.O.A. when you’re dealing with ultra-savvy players such as Putin and Lavrov.

Putin, in his presser, said, “I have no illusions, and there can be no illusions”. Later, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked if Geneva would lead to the US being removed from Russia’s Unfriendly Nations list: “No…there are no grounds yet.”

Still, there are glimmers of hope. Stranger geopolitical things have happened. If warmongers are sidelined, 2021 might even end up as The Year of Strategic Stability.

Empire of Clowns vs. Yellow Peril

June 14, 2021

By Pepe Escobar with permission and first posted at Asia Times

Empire of Clowns vs. Yellow Peril

Global South will be unimpressed by new B3W infrastructure scheme funded by private Western interests out for short-term profit 

It requires major suspension of disbelief to consider the G7, the self-described democracy’s most exclusive club, as relevant to the Raging Twenties. Real life dictates that even accounting for the inbuilt structural inequality of the current world system the G7’s economic output barely registers as 30% of the global total.

Cornwall was at best an embarrassing spectacle – complete with a mediocrity troupe impersonating “leaders” posing for masked elbow bump photo ops while on a private party with the 95-year-old Queen of England, everyone was maskless and merrily mingling about in an apotheosis of “shared values” and “human rights”.

Quarantine on arrival, masks enforced 24/7 and social distancing of course is only for the plebs.

The G7 final communique is the proverbial ocean littered with platitudes and promises. But it does contain a few nuggets. Starting with ‘Build Back Better’ – or B3 – showing up in the title. B3 is now official code for both The Great Reset and the New Green Deal.

Then there’s the Yellow Peril remixed, with the “our values” shock troops “calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms” with a special emphasis on Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

The story behind it was confirmed to me by a EU diplomatic source, a realist (yes, there are some in Brussels).

All hell broke loose inside the – exclusive – G7 room when the Anglo-American axis, backed by spineless Canada, tried to ramrod the EU-3 plus Japan into an explicit condemnation of China in the final communiqué over the absolute bogus concentration camp “evidence” in Xinjiang. In contrast to politicized accusations of “crimes against humanity”, the best analysis of what’s really going on in Xinjiang has been published by the Qiao collective.

Germany, France and Italy – Japan was nearly invisible – at least showed some spine. Internet was shut off to the room during the really harsh “dialogue”. Talk about realism – a true depiction of “leaders” vociferating inside a bubble.

The dispute essentially pitted Biden – actually his handlers – against Macron, who insisted that the EU-3 would not be dragged into the logic of a Cold War 2.0. That was something that Merkel and Mario ‘Goldman Sachs’ Draghi could easily agree upon.

In the end the divided G7 table chose to agree on a Build Back Better World – or B3W – “initiative” to counter-act the Chinese-driven Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Reset or else

The White House, predictably, pre-empted the final G7 communiqué. A statement later retracted from their website, replaced by the official communique, made sure that, “the United States and our G7 partners remains deeply concerned by the use of all forms of forced labor in global supply chains, including state-sponsored forced labor of vulnerable groups and minorities and supply chains of the agricultural, solar, and garment sectors – the main supply chains of concern in Xinjiang.”

“Forced labor” is the new mantra handily connecting the overlapping demonization of both Xinjiang and BRI. Xinjiang is the crucial hub connecting BRI to Central Asia and beyond. The new “forced labor” mantra paves the way for B3W to enter the arena as the “savior” human rights package.

Here we have a benign G7 “offering” the developing world a vague infrastructure plan that reflects their “values”, their “high standards” and their way of business, in contrast to the Yellow Peril’s trademark lack of transparency, horrible labor and environmental practices, and coercion methods.

Translation: after nearly 8 years since BRI, then named OBOR (One Belt, One Road) was announced by President Xi, and subsequently ignored and/or demonized 24/7, the Global South is supposed to be marveling at a vague “initiative” funded by private Western interests whose priority is short-term profit.

As if the Global South would fall for this remixed IMF/World Bank-style debt abyss. As if the “West” would have the vision, the appeal, the reach and the funds to make this scheme a real “alternative”.

There are zero details on how B3W will work, its priorities and where capital is coming from. B3W idealizers could do worse than learn from BRI itself, via Professor Wang Yiwei.

B3W has nothing to do with a trade/sustainable development strategy geared for the Global South. It’s an illusionist carrot dangling over those foolish enough to buy the notion of a world divided between “our values” and “autocracies”.

We’re back to the same old theme: armed with the arrogance of ignorance, the “West” has no idea how to understand Chinese values. Confirmation bias applies. Hence China as a “threat to the West”.

We’re the builders of choice

More ominously, B3W is yet another arm of the Great Reset.

To dig deeper into it, one could do worse than examining Building a Better World For All, by Mark Carney.

Carney is a uniquely positioned player: former governor of the Bank of England, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance, adviser to PM Boris “Global Britain” Johnson and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, and a trustee of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Translation: a major Great Reset, New Green Deal, B3W ideologue.

His book – which should be read in tandem with Herr Schwab’s opus on Covid-19 – preaches total control on personal freedoms as well as a reset on industry and corporate funding. Carney and Schwab treat Covid-19 as the perfect “opportunity” for the reset, whose benign, altruistic spin emphasizes a mere “regulation” of climate, business and social relations.

This Brave New Woke World brought to you by an alliance of technocrats and bankers – from the WEF and the UN to the handlers of hologram “Biden” – until recently seemed to be on a roll. But signs in the horizon reveal it’s far from a done deal.

Something uttered by B3W stalwart Tony Blair way back in January is quite an eye-opener: “It’s going to be a new world altogether… The sooner we grasp that and start to put in place the decisions [needed for a] deep impact over the coming years the better.”

So here Blair, in a Freudian slip, not only gives away the game (“deep impact over the coming years”, “new world altogether”) but also reveals his exasperation: the sheep are not being corralled as fast as necessary.

Well, Tony knows there’s always good old punishment: if you refuse the vaccine, you should remain under lockdown.

BBW, incidentally, accounts for a heterodox category of porn flics. B3W in the end may reveal itself as no more than toxic social porn.

I’m on a ‘hit list’ Kiev allows to silence dissent & journalism. That’s all you need to know about Ukrainian ‘democracy’

June 12, 2021, RT.com

Address issues which Ukraine, the West’s client state, does not like and you could end up on a ‘hit list’. Because that’s apparently how flourishing democracies roll…

Last week, photojournalist Dean O’Brien participated in a United Nations meeting to give his perspective on the war in Donbass, Ukraine’s breakaway region in the east. Shortly after the discussion, O’Brien came under fire from the Ukrainian embassy in the UK.

However, smears from Ukrainian officials are nothing compared to what the controversial ‘enemies of Ukraine’ database, the Mirotvorets (Peacekeeper) website, could bring.

In May, O’Brien and I discussed this hit list, noting that we were both on it, with photos of us published on the witch-hunt website.

It’s a website called ‘Peacemaker.’ It’s anything but, really. It seems to be a hit list, a target for journalists or anybody that goes against the grain in Ukraine. If you’re reporting on them, they see you as some kind of threat and put you on this list,” he said. 

The platform was created in 2014, shortly after Crimea was reabsorbed by Russia and the Kiev government’s military campaign in eastern Ukraine was launched. As TASS noted in 2019, Mirotvorets “aims to identify and publish personal data of all who allegedly threaten the national security of Ukraine. In recent years, the personal data of journalists, artists or politicians who have visited Crimea, Donbass, or for some other reason have caused a negative assessment of the authors of the site, have been blacklisted by Peacemaker.

Talking about the horrors that Donbass civilians endure under Ukrainian shelling is, according to this rationale, a threat to Ukraine’s national security. As is going to Crimea, maintaining that Crimeans chose to be a part of Russia (or, as many in Crimea told me, to return to Russia) and criticising the influence neo-Nazis wield in Kiev.

The most worrying thing is that they seem to be able to get a hold of people’s passports, visas,” O’Brien told me. “The fact that they can get ahold of your passport photo, your visa photocopies, these can only come from official government offices in Ukraine. This is a governmental website, it’s been discussed in parliament, to close it down. They’re not interested in closing it down. This website is kind of like a hit list, really.

That might seem like an exaggeration, but people listed on Mirotvorets have been targeted and even killed.

A report by the Foundation for the Study of Democracy titled “Ukrainian War Crimes and Human Rights Violations (2017-2020)” gave the example of a Ukrainian journalist assassinated in 2015 after his personal details were published on the website.

A few days before his death, Oles Buzina’s details, including his home address, had been posted on the Canadian-based Mirotvorets website, created with the initiative of Anton Gerashchenko, the Ukrainian deputy minister of internal affairs. The people listed on it are recommended for liquidation and arrest, and the total number of people listed are in the tens of thousands.

According to many experts, it was the listing on the site and the publication of the home address that prompted the murder of Oles Buzina, Oleg Kalashnikov, and many other opposition figures by members of the Ukrainian ‘death squads’.

Back in 2015, Georgiy Tuka, who participated in the creation and operation of the site, stated that, of the people listed on the site, “more than 300 were either arrested or destroyed,” the report states. 

When in April 2015 the Ukrainian parliament’s Commissioner for Human Rights Valeriya Lutkovskaya launched an effort to shut the list down, the then-adviser to Minister of Internal Affairs Anton Gerashchenko threatened her position and stated that the work of the site was “extremely important for the national security of Ukraine.” He said that “anyone who does not understand this or tries to interfere with this work is either a puppet in the hands of others or works against the interests of national security.” 

So the website remains active, with Ukraine’s security service reportedly stating that it did not see any violations of Ukrainian law in the activities of the Mirotvorets website.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, too, has refused to have the website shut down, ironically claiming that it’s wrong to interfere with the work of websites and the media.

Let’s remember that in Ukraine, untold numbers of journalists, activists and civilians have been imprisoned, and killed, for their crimes of voicing criticism of the government and neo-Nazi groups.

Ukraine isn’t the only country to host such a hit list. Although Stop the ISM (International Solidarity Movement) – the project of crazed US-based journalist, Lee Kaplan – named activists, including myself, for our crimes of reporting on Israel’s brutal bombardment of Gaza in 2008/09, the website has since changed format and is far less detailed. But cached versions show the extent of its insanity, including a clear call for our murders:

ALERT THE IDF MILITARY TO TARGET ISM

Number to call if you can pinpoint the locations of Hamas with their ISM members with them. Help us neutralise the ISM that is now definitely a part of Hamas since the war began.”

Others on the kill list were named for their crimes of reporting Israel’s systematic abuse and killing of Palestinians. Their personal details, including passport information, were published.

An article on this heinous website noted: “The dossiers are openly addressed to the Israeli military so as to help them eliminate ‘dangerous’ targets physically, unless others see to it first.”

Although arguably that website was the project of one lunatic and their allies, the fact that for many years it stayed active and called for the murders of international peace activists speaks volumes on America’s own values.

I’m sure these two hit-list examples are not isolated ones. Quite likely, there are similar lists targeting journalists reporting on the crimes of other countries. But they are the height of absurdity, and fascism: targeting people whose reporting aims to help persecuted civilians.

Meanwhile in Donbass, Ukraine reportedly continues its shelling of civilian areas. Recently in Gorlovka, a northern city hammered by Ukrainian bombing over the years, a mine blew off part of a woman’s leg as she gathered mushrooms.

This is the woman who was earlier blown up by a mine in Gorlovka. She had her left leg torn off when the mine exploded whilst she was innocently picking mushrooms. Yet again, another innocent victim caught up in this brutal conflict. #Donbass pic.twitter.com/DBQGD2h8J9— Dean O’Brien – BA (Hons) (@DeanoBeano1) June 6, 2021

In spite of the hit list, journalists, rightly, continue to report on these war crimes.

Related:

Seven years after Maidan divided country, Ukraine intensifies shelling of Donbass to sound of deafening silence from Western media

Donbass War Diary Feature photo Donbass War Diary Under Fire from Ukraine and Misperceived by the West, The People of the DPR Share Their Stories

Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) playlist

Accused of Treason and Imprisoned Without Trial: Journalist Kirill Vyshinsky Recounts His Harrowing Time in a Ukrainian Prison

Sino-US Dialogue in Alaska: Outcomes.

Sino-US Dialogue in Alaska: Outcomes.

March 23, 2021

by Zamir Awan for the Saker Blog

The first direct, high-level dialogue, under Joe Biden Administration, was held on 18-189 March 2021 in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Chinese Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi, and Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended the dialogue.

After welcoming the Chinese guests, Secretary of state Mr. Blinken accused China of many issues, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States, and economic coercion toward our allies. Each of these actions threatens the rules-based order that maintains global stability.

Director Yang responded that “What China and the international community follow or uphold is the United Nations-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law, not what is advocated by a small number of countries of the so-called rules-based international order. And the United States has its style — United States-style democracy –and China has the Chinese-style democracy. It is not just up to the American people, but also the people of the World, to evaluate how the United States has advanced its own democracy. After decades of reform and opening up in China’s case, we have come a long way in various fields. In particular, we have engaged in tireless efforts to contribute to the peace and development of the World and to upholding the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter.”

“The wars in this World are launched by some other countries, which have resulted in massive casualties. But for China, what we have asked for, for other countries, is to follow a path of peaceful development, which is the purpose of our foreign policy. We do not believe in invading through the use of force, in toppling other regimes through various means, or massacring other countries’ people because all of those would only cause turmoil and instability in this World. And at the end of the day, all of those would not serve the United States well. So we believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image and stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the World. Many people within the United States actually have little confidence in the democracy of the United States, and they have various views regarding the government of the United States. In China, according to opinion polls, China’s leaders have the wide support of the Chinese people. So no attempt to — the opinion polls conducted in the United States show that China’s leaders have the support of the Chinese people. No attempt to smear China’s social system would get anywhere. Facts have shown that such practices would only lead the Chinese people to rally more closely around the Communist Party of China and work steadily towards the goals that we have set for ourselves.”

“Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan are an inalienable part of China’s territory. China is firmly opposed to U.S. interference in China’s internal affairs. We have expressed our staunch opposition to such interference, and we will take firm actions in response. On human rights, we hope that the United States will do better on human rights. China has made steady progress in human rights, and the fact is that there are many problems within the United States regarding human rights, which is admitted by the U.S. itself as well. The United States has also said that countries can’t rely on force in today’s World to resolve the challenges we face. And it is a failure to use various means to topple the so-called authoritarian states. And the challenges facing the United States in human rights are deep-seated. They did not just emerge over the past four years, such as Black Lives Matter. It did not come up only recently. So we do hope that for our two countries, it’s important that we manage our respective affairs well instead of deflecting the blame on somebody else in this World. We’ve had a confrontation in the past, and the result did not serve the United States well. China will pull through and has pulled through such confrontation.”

Outcomes:

China availing this opportunity has conveyed that China will not accept U.S. supremacy and will not accept dictation. China will not allow any country to interfere in its domestic issues. Generally speaking, the Chinese are well-mannered, polite, submissive, and friendly people. It seems that the U.S. has crossed all the limits where China have to take a firm and blunt stand and express their point of view so clearly. It is up to the U.S. administration to analyze the Chinese response and do their homework before meeting them again.

The World has conceived well that the U.S. can not sustain its hegemony anymore. It is no longer a unipolar world, and the U.S. is no longer a unique superpower. The U.S. needs to understand the emerging geopolitics and have to accept realities. It might need to share power with other rising nations and respect them. The U.S. must keep in mind the existence of other emerging nations’ potential while making any decision.

It is an established fact that the U.S., after enjoying the global leadership role for seven decades, may not sustain this status anymore. The U.S. is on the decline and, with every passing day, may decline further. Whereas China is a rising power and, with the passage of each day, may grow further. The time is on the Chinese side. If Americans are wise, they might give up confronting China and extend cooperation to be the beneficiary of Chinse rise. There exists enormous goodwill about America among the general public in China.

The American claim of promoting democracy and the law-based rule is no more trusted as the Americans are a supporter of all dictators in the oil-rich Gulf countries in the Middle-East. The U.S. was behind the toppling of the democratically elected legitimate Government of Mr. Adil Morsey in Egypt. Again, it was the U.S. who was among the first nations to support the dictator General Sissi in Egypt. American history is full of supporting dictators around the globe. Regarding law-based rule, it is just a joke. It was the U.S. that destroyed Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.

Under the Trump Administration, America was deteriorated in respect of human rights violations, hate among various ethnicities in America. And official discriminatory laws were introduced against Muslims; immigration laws were biased. The pandemic was mismanaged, the economy was collapsed. President Trump harmed America so severely that it might take several decades to recover such losses. President Trump has offended some of his close allies too.

President Joe Biden’s remarks about President Putin were misconceived and may spoil the geopolitics further. More tensions between Russia and the U.S. are predictable visibly. It may cement China-Russia relations further.

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

The U.S. system could very well collapse if reforms are not instituted immediately

By Abayomi Azikiwe

The U.S. has been experiencing various social developments in recent years. There were several factors which have led to the existing social crisis in the U.S. The failure of the capitalist system to provide adequate jobs, incomes and amenities to tens of millions of people while the ruling class is becoming wealthier,

inherently weakened national institutions. When the pandemic hit during 2020, the economic impact was catastrophic. Then rather than adequately addressing the problems, the Trump administration sought to ignore the increasing impoverishment and uncertainty, which fuelled anger and righteous discontent. 

The mass demonstrations and rebellions across the country beginning in May 2020, further exposed the contradictions between the foreign policy rhetoric of the U.S. as being a leader in international human rights, where in reality the police and vigilante killings of African American and Latin American peoples suggest just the opposite. It was amazing to witness the United Nations Human Rights Council holding hearings on racist violence in the U.S. This event was held at the aegis of the African Union (AU) utilizing a resolution submitted by Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik Shabazz) and adopted during his intervention at the July 1964 second summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the AU. It will be important for progressive elements within the international community to continue their condemnation of U.S. foreign policy related to race relations and Washington’s dealing with developing countries, particularly those holding anti-imperialist sentiments.

I think the established political structure in the U.S. is not able to cope up with these challenges and solve the social problems. The system needs a complete overhaul. The profit motive in economics cannot be maintained if the aim of the government is to seek stability. The longer the capitalist and imperialist system is in operation the world will know no peace.

The U.S. system could very well collapse if reforms are not instituted immediately. Even with substantial reforms, there are structural weaknesses and contradictions which will not go away if a new system is not brought into existence. However, even if the American system is in decline, it could continue to function for many years to come causing havoc domestically and internationally. For example, ancient Rome took several centuries to be completely stripped of its power. Even with the collapse becoming inevitable, it did not prevent the invasion of the Horn of Africa during the late 19th century and North Africa in the early 20th century. Fascism arose out of the desire of Mussolini to rebuild Rome as an imperialist state. It would take the defeat of Fascism in the 1940s to eliminate its strength as an imperialist power. A similar historical trajectory could occur in relationship to the U.S. if the people domestically and internationally are capable of eliminating imperialism as a continuing threat to humanity.

 *Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire. Azikiwe is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit. He has worked for several decades in solidarity with various liberation movements and progressive governments in Africa, the Caribbean and other geo-political regions. 

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America’s Middle East Policy Is Outdated and Dangerous سياسة أميركا في الشرق الأوسط خطيرة وعفا عليها الزمن

**Please scroll down for the Arabic Version first published in Al-Mayadeen **

A New Approach to the Gulf States Needs a Better Foundation

U.S. aircraft at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, April 2016

By Chris Murphy

February 19, 2021

In his 1980 State of the Union address, which came in the wake of the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979, U.S. President Jimmy Carter described in grave terms the risks of losing access to Middle Eastern oil. “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America,” he said. “Such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” That pledge became known as the Carter Doctrine, and it has remained a defining feature of U.S. Middle East policy ever since.

At the time of Carter’s pronouncement, the United States relied heavily on oil imports to power its economy, and 29 percent of that oil came from the Persian Gulf. Even two decades later, little had changed: in 2001, the United States still imported 29 percent of its oil from the Gulf. But it’s not 1980 or 2001 anymore. Today, the United States produces as much oil as it gets from abroad, and only 13 percent comes from Gulf countries. The United States now imports more oil from Mexico than it does from Saudi Arabia.

Yet even as the driving rationale for the so-called Carter Doctrine has become obsolete, it continues to shape the United States’ approach to the Gulf—emblematic of a broader failure of U.S. policy to catch up with the broader changes to U.S. interests in the region since the 1980s. President Joe Biden should acknowledge new realities and reset the United States’ relationships in the Gulf in a way that promotes American values, keeps Washington out of unnecessary foreign entanglements, and prioritizes regional peace and stability.

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There are myriad reasons for strong relations between the United States and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The decisions by Bahrain and the UAE to establish formal ties to Israel are a clear sign of the positive influence these countries can exert. Kuwait and Oman play powerful roles in mediating regional conflicts. The United States’ counterterrorism partnerships with GCC countries, while frequently flawed, are still crucial, as these governments often have information on extremist networks that U.S. intelligence cannot glean on its own. And the United States is broadening its people-to-people ties with the region: today, tens of thousands of students from the Gulf study at U.S. colleges and universities. Accordingly, the United States must make clear to Gulf allies that its goal is not to pull away from the region but instead to create a more substantive and stable link between the United States and the GCC.

But it is past time to admit that there is a central design flaw in the United States’ current approach to the Gulf: the top two GCC priorities for the relationship—sustaining U.S. military assistance to fight regional proxy wars and maintaining U.S. silence on domestic political repression—will, in the long run, destroy the GCC countries themselves. The United States’ objective must be to replace this broken foundation with a new system that supports a peaceful Gulf replete with stable, diversified national economies and responsive governments—the kind of future that leaders such as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman staunchly claim the Gulf is seeking. A U.S.-Gulf relationship built on economic, diplomatic, and governance ties, rather than just brute security partnerships, will accrue to the benefit of both U.S. and Middle Eastern interests.

AVOIDING PROXY WARS

The first step is for the United States to disengage from the GCC’s proxy wars with Iran. The Iranian government is a U.S. adversary, but the festering series of hot and cold conflicts in the region—in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen—has simply served to strengthen Iran’s influence and create cataclysmic levels of human suffering. A pullback from U.S. intervention in places such as Syria and Yemen will, no doubt, cause immediate consternation in the Gulf. By now, however, the enormous costs of the false belief that the United States can indirectly steer the outcomes in Syria and Yemen are crystal clear. In both theaters, the United States’ tepid, halfway military involvement was never substantial enough to tip the balance and has served instead to extend the conflicts. Washington suffers from a hubristic confidence in its ability to accomplish political goals through military interventions. Instead, the most significant effect of recent U.S. Middle East adventurism has been to fuel perpetual wars that embolden extremist groups and allow anti-American sentiment to grow.

It is past time to admit that there is a central design flaw in the United States’ current approach to the Gulf.

Although the United States should retain its security partnerships with Gulf nations, the U.S. footprint should be smaller. Before the Gulf War, the United States was able to protect its interests in the region without massive military bases in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia and without billions in annual arms sales to these same nations. The foreign policy community in Washington acts as if this massive military presence is now mandatory to protect U.S. interests, even though it wasn’t prior to the creation of the post-9/11 security state. U.S. bases are costly, drawing focus away from increasingly important theaters such as Africa and Asia; they create pressure on the United States to ignore serious human rights abuses lest criticism puts the troop presence at risk; and they stand out as military targets and propaganda fodder for Iran, al Qaeda, and the Islamic State (or ISIS). As U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin undertakes a global review of the United States’ military posture, the Biden administration should seriously consider reducing its military basing in the region. Reconsidering the costs and benefits of basing the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain would be a good start, as the United States’ massive footprint is becoming more trouble than it is worth.

Finally, although the United States should continue to sell military equipment to its partners, Washington should ensure that it is selling truly defensive arms. Today, too many American weapons are used irresponsibly and in violation of international law. Others, such as the recently announced Reaper drone sale to the UAE, fuel a regional arms race that runs counter to U.S. security interests. As it pulls back on systems with more offensive capabilities, however, the United States should still be willing to provide more advanced defensive weapons, such as Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile technology, that fit the Gulf’s real security threats.

If Washington does these things, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will inevitably complain that the United States is abandoning them and empowering Iran. The Biden administration’s task will be to convince them that there is an alternative to a never-ending military contest with Tehran. A regional security dialogue that includes all parties can replace the arms race and proxy wars. This may sound like a utopian fantasy, but it is far from it. The green shoots of this dialogue have been showing for years, and able U.S. leadership, applying both vinegar and honey, can begin to create a structure for détente. And although the United States should not give the Emiratis or Saudis veto power over a bilateral nuclear agreement with Iran, a regional dialogue would tie the Gulf countries closer to the United States on Iran policy and likely give the GCC greater input on any future agreement Washington makes.

TESTING DE-ESCALATION

The Biden administration is best positioned to test the region’s readiness for this kind of de-escalation in Yemen. The pieces that have been missing—meaningful pressure and a credible interlocutor—are now moving into position as the Biden administration ends U.S. support for offensive operations and appoints a new special envoy to support the UN peace process. The United States is the only nation that can move the ball forward. If Washington can find a path toward peace in Yemen, where an inclusive post-Hadi Yemeni government coexists with Houthi leaders as the country rebuilds with international aid, it could be proof of concept for a broader dialogue.

De-escalation should be wildly appealing to the United States’ Gulf partners. Declining oil revenues mean these nations will soon need to make hard choices between investing in economic reforms and fighting wars in foreign countries. Given these persistent conflicts and the state control of local economies, attracting meaningful foreign investment to the region is largely a fantasy. For the United States, another benefit to decreased tensions between the Gulf and Iran is fewer incentives for Gulf interests to spread Wahhabi Islam throughout the Muslim world. This ultraconservative and intolerant brand of Islam often forms the building blocks of extremist ideology, and the Gulf-Iran feud fuels its export (alongside its revolutionary Shiite counterpart).

Biden has a chance to reset Washington’s partnerships with Gulf nations.

The United States must also drive a harder bargain with the Gulf states on questions of human rights. In the wake of Donald Trump’s attacks on American democracy, it will be even more important for Biden to match his talk of the rule of law and civil rights with actions at home and abroad. The United States has difficult work ahead to rebuild its global brand, but ending Washington’s hear-no-evil, see-no-evil approach in the Gulf will help.

Still, the U.S. conversation with the Gulf on human rights should be realistic. These countries will not become modern democracies overnight. If the Gulf really wants to attract international investment, however, it must address ongoing brutal crackdowns on political dissent and the lack of the rule of law. Serious outside private investment is unlikely as long as these nations torture political prisoners, maintain a draconian “guardian system” that restricts women’s ability to travel, and constantly harass dissidents abroad. Frankly, Gulf leaders should see expanding political rights as an existential issue. The United States must help these regimes understand that their long-standing social bargain of “no taxation, but no representation either” cannot last. As population growth outstrips oil revenues, royal families will soon no longer be able to afford that payoff. Once subsidies atrophy but repression remains, a disastrous storm of unrest will brew. Luckily, there are models of limited reform in the Gulf that can help the laggards inch along. Kuwaitis, for instance, elect a parliament that maintains some independence from the crown. Although this is far from modern participatory democracy, it provides some guideposts to which more repressive regimes can look.

NO COLD WAR REDUX

In pursuing this new course, some sky-will-fall adherents to the status quo will argue that if the Biden administration drives too hard a bargain, Gulf leaders will turn away from the United States and toward China or Russia. This argument is a red herring, one that plays on a misunderstanding of both the irreplaceability of military alignment with the United States and the willingness of China and Russia to get their hands dirty in Middle Eastern politics. This isn’t the Cold War: Russia has little to offer in the region, and as global oil usage continues to fall, Moscow will inevitably compete with Gulf countries for buyers. Although China will continue to look for economic opportunities in the region, it will be unwilling to play a real security role anytime in the near future. The Chinese navy isn’t going to come to the aid of a Gulf country under attack. If the Bahrainis, Emiratis, or Saudis threaten to turn to other powers, Washington can afford to call their bluff.

As a general matter, U.S. foreign policy has become dangerously anachronistic, an instrument tuned to play a song that the orchestra no longer performs. But U.S. policy is, perhaps, most inconsonant in the Gulf, where the United States’ interests have changed but its policy has not. Biden has a chance to reset Washington’s partnerships with Gulf nations. It will be difficult, painful, and arouse loud protest. But the resulting order will be mutually beneficial, advancing U.S. interests while moving Gulf states closer to the future they claim to aspire to. As they say, the most worthwhile endeavors are never easy.

سياسة أميركا في الشرق الأوسط خطيرة وعفا عليها الزمن

الميادين نت

*ترجمة: ميساء شديد

طائرة أميركيّة في قاعدة العديد الجويّة في قطر - أبريل 2016 (رويترز)

كريس مورفي – “فورين أفيرز” 19 شباط 22:39

السيناتور الأميركي كريس مورفي، يشدد في مقال له في مجلة “فورين أفيرز“، على أنّه لدى الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن “فرصة لإعادة ضبط شراكات واشنطن مع دول الخليج”.

السيناتور الأميركي كريس مورفي يؤكد في مقال له في مجلة “فورين أفيرز“، أنّ السياسة الخارجيّة للولايات المتحدة “عفا الزمن عنها”، مبرزاً أنّ “السياسة الأميركيّة غير متسقة في الخليج، ولدى بايدن فرصة لإعادة ضبط شراكات واشنطن مع دول الخليج”. فيما يلي نص المقال: 

في خطاب حالة الاتحاد الذي ألقاه في أعقاب أزمتي النفط عامي 1973 و1979، وصف الرئيس الأميركي جيمي كارتر بعبارات خطيرة مخاطر فقدان الوصول إلى نفط الشرق الأوسط. وقال إن “أيّ محاولة من قبل أيّ قوّة خارجيّة للسيطرة على منطقة الخليج، ستعتبر اعتداء على المصالح الحيويّة للولايات المتحدة الأميركيّة.. وسيتمّ صدّ مثل هذا الهجوم بأيّ وسيلة ضروريّة بما في ذلك القوّة العسكريّة”. أصبح هذا التعهد معروفاً باسم “مبدأ كارتر” وظلّ سمة مميّزة لسياسة الولايات المتحدة في الشرق الأوسط منذ ذلك الحين.

حين أدلى كارتر بهذا التصريح كانت الولايات المتحدة تعتمد بشكل كبير على واردات النفط لتزويد اقتصادها بالطاقة وكان 29% من هذا النفط يأتي من الخليج. حتى بعد عقدين من الزمن لم يتغيّر شيء يذكر: في عام 2001، كانت الولايات المتحدة لا تزال تستورد 29% من نفطها من الخليج. لكننا لم نعد في عام 1980 أو 2001 بعد الآن. واليوم تنتج الولايات المتحدة نفس القدر من النفط الذي تحصل عليه من الخارج وتستورد 13% فقط من دول الخليج. تستورد الولايات المتحدة الآن نفطاً من المكسيك أكثر مما تستورده من السعوديّة.

ومع ذلك بالرغم من أن الأساس المنطقي لما يسمى عقيدة كارتر قد عفا عليه الزمن، إلا أنه يستمر في تشكيل نهج الولايات المتحدة تجاه الخليج – وهو رمز لفشل أوسع لسياسة الولايات المتحدة المتمثلة بتغييرات أوسع للمصالح الأميركيّة في المنطقة منذ الثمانينيات. يجب على الرئيس جو بايدن الاعتراف بالوقائع الجديدة وإعادة ضبط علاقات الولايات المتحدة في الخليج بطريقة تعزز القيم الأميركيّة وتبقي واشنطن بعيدة عن التشابكات الخارجيّة غير الضروريّة وتعطي الأولويّة للسلام والاستقرار الإقليميين.

هناك عدد لا يحصى من الأسباب لإقامة علاقات قويّة بين الولايات المتحدة ودول مجلس التعاون الخليجي – البحرين والكويت وعمان وقطر والسعودية والإمارات. إن قرارات البحرين والإمارات لإقامة علاقات رسميّة مع “إسرائيل” هي علامة واضحة على التأثير الإيجابي الذي يمكن أن تمارسه هذه الدول. تلعب الكويت وعمان أدواراً قويّة في التوسط في النزاعات الإقليميّة. إن شراكات الولايات المتحدة في مكافحة الإرهاب مع دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي بالرغم من كونها معيبة في كثير من الأحيان، لا تزال مهمة حيث تمتلك هذه الحكومات غالباً معلومات عن الشبكات المتطرفة التي لا تستطيع الاستخبارات الأميركيّة جمعها بمفردها.

وتقوم الولايات المتحدة بتوسيع علاقاتها الشعبيّة مع المنطقة: اليوم هناك عشرات الآلاف من الطلاب من الخليج يدرسون في الكليات والجامعات الأميركيّة. وبناءً على ذلك يجب على الولايات المتحدة أن توضح لحلفائها الخليجيين أن هدفها ليس الانسحاب من المنطقة، ولكن بدلاً من ذلك إنشاء رابط أكثر موضوعية واستقراراً بين الولايات المتحدة ودول مجلس التعاون الخليجي.

لكن حان الوقت للاعتراف بوجود خلل مركزي في نهج الولايات المتحدة الحالي تجاه الخليج: أهم أولويتين لمجلس التعاون الخليجي في العلاقة – الحفاظ على المساعدة العسكرية الأميركية لخوض حروب إقليمية بالوكالة والحفاظ على الصمت الأميركي تجاه السياسات الداخلية لدوله. القمع – سيدمر على المدى الطويل دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي نفسها. ويجب أن يكون هدف الولايات المتحدة هو استبدال هذا الأساس المكسور بنظام جديد يدعم خليجاً مسالماً مليئاً باقتصاديات وطنيّة مستقرة ومتنوعة وحكومات متجاوبة – مستقبل من النوع الذي يدعي قادة مثل ولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان بقوّة أن منطقة الخليج تسعى إليه. إن علاقة بين الولايات المتحدة والخليج مبنية على العلاقات الاقتصاديّة والدبلوماسيّة والحوكمة بدلاً من مجرد شراكات أمنيّة وحشيّة سوف تعود بالفائدة على مصالح الولايات المتحدة والشرق الأوسط.

تجنب حروب الوكالة

الخطوة الأولى هي أن تنفصل الولايات المتحدة عن حروب دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي بالوكالة مع إيران. الحكومة الإيرانيّة هي خصم للولايات المتحدة لكن سلسلة الصراعات الساخنة والباردة في المنطقة – في العراق ولبنان وسوريا واليمن – عملت ببساطة على تعزيز نفوذ إيران وخلق مستويات كارثية من المعاناة الإنسانية. لا شك أن الانسحاب من التدخل الأميركي في أماكن مثل سوريا واليمن سيسبب ذعراً فورياً في الخليج. ومع ذلك  فإن التكاليف الهائلة للاعتقاد الخاطئ بأن الولايات المتحدة يمكنها توجيه النتائج بشكل غير مباشر في سوريا واليمن باتت واضحة تماماً.

في كلا المسرحين لم يكن التدخل العسكري الفاتر للولايات المتحدة جوهريّاً بما يكفي لقلب التوازن وخدم بدلاً من ذلك إطالة أمد النزاعات. تعاني واشنطن من ثقة متغطرسة في قدرتها على تحقيق أهداف سياسيّة من خلال التدخلات العسكريّة. بدلاً من ذلك كان التأثير الأكثر أهمية للمغامرات الأميركيّة الأخيرة في الشرق الأوسط هو تأجيج الحروب الدائمة التي تشجع الجماعات المتطرفة وتسمح للمشاعر المعادية لأميركا بالنمو.

على الرغم من أن الولايات المتحدة يجب أن تحتفظ بشراكاتها الأمنية مع دول الخليج إلا أن البصمة الأميركيّة يجب أن تكون أصغر. قبل حرب الخليج كانت الولايات المتحدة قادرة على حماية مصالحها في المنطقة من دون قواعد عسكريّة ضخمة في البحرين والكويت وقطر والسعودية ومن دون مليارات من مبيعات الأسلحة السنويّة للدول نفسها.

يتصرّف مجتمع السياسة الخارجيّة في واشنطن كما لو أن هذا الوجود العسكري الضخم أصبح الآن إلزامياً لحماية المصالح الأميركيّة، على الرغم من أنه لم يكن كذلك قبل إنشاء الدولة الأمنية بعد 11 سبتمبر. القواعد الأميركيّة مكلفة ما يجعل التركيز بعيداً عن المسارح ذات الأهمية المتزايدة مثل أفريقيا وآسيا؛ إنهم يمارسون الضغط على الولايات المتحدة لتجاهل الانتهاكات الجسيمة لحقوق الإنسان خشية أن تعرض هذه الانتقادات وجود القوات الأميركية للخطر؛ وهي تبرز كأهداف عسكريّة ومادة دعاية لإيران والقاعدة وداعش.

بينما يجري وزير الدفاع الأميركي لويد أوستن مراجعة عالميّة للوضع العسكري للولايات المتحدة يجب على إدارة بايدن التفكير بجديّة في تقليص قواعدها العسكريّة في المنطقة. إن إعادة النظر في تكاليف وفوائد تأسيس الأسطول الخامس في البحرين ستكون بداية جيدة حيث أصبح الدور الهائل للولايات المتحدة مقلقاً بالرغم من أن الأمر لا يستحق.

أخيرًا على الرغم من أن الولايات المتحدة يجب أن تستمر في بيع المعدات العسكريّة لشركائها، يجب على واشنطن التأكد من أنها تبيع أسلحة دفاعيّة حقيقيّة. اليوم يتمّ استخدام الكثير من الأسلحة الأميركيّة بشكل غير مسؤول وفي انتهاك للقانون الدولي. البعض الآخر مثل بيع طائرات “ريبر” بدون طيار التي تمّ الإعلان عنها مؤخراً للإمارات، يُغذي سباق تسلح إقليمياً يتعارض مع المصالح الأمنيّة الأميركية. مع تراجعها عن أنظمة ذات قدرات هجوميّة أكثر يجب أن تظل الولايات المتحدة على استعداد لتقديم أسلحة دفاعية أكثر تقدمًا مثل تكنولوجيا الصواريخ الدفاعية الطرفية عالية الارتفاع (ثاد) التي تناسب التهديدات الأمنيّة الحقيقيّة في الخليج.

إذا فعلت واشنطن هذه الامور فستشتكي السعودية والإمارات لا محالة من أن الولايات المتحدة تتخلى عنهما وتمكنان إيران. تتمثل مهمة إدارة بايدن في إقناعهما بوجود بديل للمنافسة العسكريّة التي لا تنتهي مع طهران. يمكن لحوار أمنيّ إقليميّ يشمل جميع الأطراف أن يحلّ محل سباق التسلح والحروب بالوكالة. قد يبدو هذا وكأنه محض خيال لكنه بعيد كل البعد عن ذلك.

كانت البراعم الخضراء لهذا الحوار تظهر منذ سنوات ويمكن للقيادة الأميركيّة أن تبدأ في إنشاء هيكل للانفراج. وعلى الرغم من أن الولايات المتحدة لا ينبغي أن تمنح الإماراتيين أو السعوديين حق النقض (الفيتو) على اتفاقية نوويّة ثنائيّة مع إيران، فإن الحوار الإقليمي من شأنه أن يربط دول الخليج بشكل أقرب إلى الولايات المتحدة بشأن السياسة الإيرانيّة ومن المرجح أن يعطي مجلس التعاون الخليجي مساهمة أكبر في أيّ اتفاق مستقبلي.

اختبار خفض التصعيد

إن إدارة بايدن في وضع أفضل لاختبار استعداد المنطقة لهذا النوع من التهدئة في اليمن. القطع المفقودة من ضغوط ذات مغزى ومحاور موثوق به تتحرك الآن إلى موقعها مع إنهاء إدارة بايدن دعم الولايات المتحدة للعمليّات الهجوميّة وتعيين مبعوث خاص جديد لدعم عملية السلام التابعة للأمم المتحدة. الولايات المتحدة هي الدولة الوحيدة التي يمكنها تحريك الكرة إلى الأمام. إذا تمكنت واشنطن من إيجاد طريق نحو السلام في اليمن حيث تتعايش حكومة يمنيّة شاملة مع قادة الحوثيين وتعيد البلاد بناءها بمساعدة دولية فإن ذلك سيكون على مفهوم حوار أوسع.

يجب أن يكون وقف التصعيد جذاباً بشدة لشركاء الولايات المتحدة في الخليج. انخفاض عائدات النفط يعني أن هذه الدول ستحتاج قريباً إلى اتخاذ خيارات صعبة بين الاستثمار في الإصلاحات الاقتصاديّة وخوض الحروب في البلدان الأجنبيّة. بالنظر إلى هذه الصراعات المستمرة وسيطرة الدولة على الاقتصادات المحليّة فإن جذب الاستثمار الأجنبي الهادف إلى المنطقة هو إلى حد كبير أمر خيالي.

بالنسبة للولايات المتحدة هناك فائدة أخرى لتقليل التوترات بين الخليج وإيران تتمثل في حوافز أقلّ للمصالح الخليجيّة لنشر الإسلام الوهابي في جميع أنحاء العالم الإسلامي. غالباً ما تشكل هذه العلامة التجاريّة المتشددة وغير المتسامحة للإسلام اللبنات الأساسيّة للإيديولوجيا المتطرفة، ويُغذي الخلاف الخليجي الإيراني تصديرها (إلى جانب نظيرتها الشيعية الثوريّة).

يجب على الولايات المتحدة أيضاً أن تقود صفقة أكثر صعوبة مع دول الخليج بشأن قضايا حقوق الإنسان. في أعقاب هجمات دونالد ترامب على الديمقراطيّة الأميركيّة سيكون من الأهم بالنسبة لبايدن أن يطابق حديثه عن سيادة القانون والحقوق المدنيّة بأفعال في الداخل والخارج. أمام الولايات المتحدة عمل صعب لإعادة بناء دورها العالمي لكن إنهاء نهج واشنطن الذي لا يسمع ولا يرى الشر في الخليج من شأنه أن يساعد.  

ومع ذلك يجب أن تكون محادثة الولايات المتحدة مع دول الخليج حول حقوق الإنسان واقعيّة. لن تصبح هذه البلدان ديمقراطيات حديثة بين عشية وضحاها. ومع ذلك إذا كانت دول الخليج تريد حقاً جذب الاستثمار الدولي فعليها أن تتصدى للحملات القمعيّة الوحشيّة المستمرة ضد المعارضة السياسيّة وغياب سيادة القانون.

الاستثمار الخاص الخارجي الجاد غير محتمل طالما أن هذه الدول تعذب السجناء السياسيين وتحافظ على “نظام وصيّ” صارم يحد من قدرة المرأة على السفر ويضايق المعارضين في الخارج باستمرار. بصراحة يجب على قادة الخليج أن ينظروا إلى توسيع الحقوق السياسيّة على أنها قضيّة وجوديّة. يجب على الولايات المتحدة أن تساعد هذه الأنظمة على فهم أن الصفقة الاجتماعيّة القائمة منذ فترة طويلة المتمثلة في “غياب الضرائب والتمثيل السياسي” لا يمكن أن تستمر.

نظراً لأن النمو السكاني يفوق عائدات النفط فلن تتمكن العائلات المالكة قريباً من تحمّل هذا المردود. بمجرد ضمور الإعانات واستمرار القمع ستندلع عاصفة من الاضطرابات الكارثية. لحسن الحظ هناك نماذج للإصلاح المحدود في الخليج يمكن أن تساعد المتقاعسين في التقدم. ينتخب الكويتيون على سبيل المثال برلماناً يحافظ على بعض الاستقلالية عن العرش. على الرغم من أن هذا بعيد كل البعد عن الديمقراطيّة التشاركيّة الحديثة إلا أنه يقدم بعض النقاط الإرشاديّة التي يمكن أن تنظر إليها الأنظمة القمعيّة.

لا داعي للحرب الباردة

في متابعة هذا المسار الجديد سوف يجادل بعض أتباع الوضع الراهن بأنه إذا دفعت إدارة بايدن عن صفقة صعبة للغاية فسوف يبتعد قادة الخليج عن الولايات المتحدة ويذهبون أكثر باتجاه الصين أو روسيا. هذه الحجة مضللة وهي حجة تلعب على سوء فهم كل من عدم إمكانية الاستغناء عن الاصطفاف العسكري مع الولايات المتحدة واستعداد الصين وروسيا لتسخير أيديهما في سياسات الشرق الأوسط.

هذه ليست الحرب الباردة: ليس لدى روسيا الكثير لتقدمه في المنطقة ومع استمرار انخفاض استخدام النفط العالمي ستتنافس موسكو حتماً مع دول الخليج على المشترين. على الرغم من أن الصين ستواصل البحث عن فرص اقتصاديّة في المنطقة إلا أنها لن تكون راغبة في لعب دور أمني حقيقي في أي وقت في المستقبل القريب. البحريّة الصينيّة لن تقدم المساعدة لدولة خليجيّة تتعرض للهجوم. إذا هدد البحرينيون أو الإماراتيون أو السعوديون بالتحوّل إلى قوى أخرى، يمكن لواشنطن ألا تنطلي عليها خدعهم.

بشكل عام عفا الزمن عن السياسة الخارجيّة للولايات المتحدة بشكل خطير وهي أداة تمّ ضبطها لعزف أغنيّة لم تعد الأوركسترا تؤديها. لكن ربما تكون السياسة الأميركيّة غير متسقة في الخليج، حيث تغيّرت مصالح الولايات المتحدة ولكن سياستها لم تتغير. لدى بايدن فرصة لإعادة ضبط شراكات واشنطن مع دول الخليج. سيكون الأمر صعباً ومؤلماً ويثير احتجاجاً شديداً. لكن النظام الناتج سيكون مفيداً للطرفين حيث سيعزز المصالح الأميركيّة بينما يقرب دول الخليج من المستقبل التي تزعم أنها تطمح إليه. كما يقولون فإن أكثر المساعي الجديرة بالاهتمام ليست سهلة أبداً.

*ترجمة: ميساء شديد

إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي الصحيفة حصراً

Canada, U.S. have ‘selective’ approach toward human rights: lawyer

By Mohammad Mazhari

November 23, 2020 – 10:56

Sari Bashi, a consultant for Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN)

TEHRAN – A human rights lawyer says the U.S. and Canada follow double standards toward human rights, noting that they “support human rights selectively”.

In an interview with the Tehran Times, Sari Bashi, a consultant for Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN), says that U.S. policy in terms of human rights is not consistent. 

“Unfortunately, the United States and Canada support human rights selectively, and the United States, in particular, has not done nearly enough to call out its allies for human rights abuses,” Bashi points out.

Canada and the U.S. accuse other countries of human rights violations while they themselves sell weapons to tyrannical regimes in West Asia, which are used against defenseless people, especially in Yemen. 

Canada claims a global reputation as a human rights defender, while the Ottawa government has a bad record when it comes to the rights of the indigenous peoples. According to reports revealed by the Human Rights Watch, the Natives are deprived of the right to safe drinking water, and police mistreat and abuse indigenous women and girls.

Bashi also says the U.S. is misusing its influence to allow its allies, such as Israel, to commit crimes.

 The following is the text of the interview:

Q: Certain Western states have a bad record in view of human rights, so are these countries entitled to condemn other countries?

  A: I think the fact that all authorities abuse human rights do not disqualify any particular government from raising human rights issues with others. Certainly, the best way to encourage respect for human rights is to lead by example, and every government in the world that has invested more energy in improving in own human rights record could be more credible to criticize other government who may not be; but at the same time I think it is always legitimate to raise the issue of human rights abuses and we should make sure that we are holding our governments accountable to universal standards of human rights as articulated by international instruments.

“We should make sure that we are holding our governments accountable to universal standards of human rights as articulated by international instruments,” the consultant for Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN) says. Q: When it comes to Israeli crimes against Palestinians, why do countries like Canada and the U.S. give full support to Tel-Aviv? How is it possible that Israel wins such support?

A: I think lack of accountability for Israeli violations of human rights and international law against Palestinians reflects a weakness in accountability of the international system.

Unfortunately, the UN Security Council cannot act in the Israel-Palestine case because of the veto power of powerful members, especially the United States, while other mechanisms of accountability such as the International Criminal Court are struggling to have jurisdiction over war crimes committed in Palestine. So we have a lot of work to do in obtaining a stronger mechanism of accountability, and the fact that Israel enjoys such a strong military and financial support from the United States reflects a distorted political system in which the U.S. as a superpower is using its significant influence to allow its allies to commit abuses.

Q: Why is Canada not really concerned about human rights violations when it clinches arms deals with a value of 15 billion dollars with Saudi Arabia? Is it justifiable to say that Canada is not aware that these weapons are used against children and women in Yemen?

A: Canada, like all countries, has a responsibility to ensure that it does not violate human rights or international humanitarian law including in its military deals; so selling weapons to actors who are committing war crimes in Yemen will be a violation of Canada’s obligations and certainly, the Canadian government and the Canadian people have a responsibility to ensure that their foreign policy respects human rights and does not contribute to war crimes. 

Q: Washington has imposed harsh sanctions on Iran that are hampering Iran’s access to medicine. At such a hard time, countries like Canada have been cooperating with Washington in pushing ahead with its unilateral sanctions by refusing to sell humanitarian goods to Iran.  What is your comment?

 A: Unfortunately, the United States and Canada support human rights selectively, and the United States, in particular, has not done nearly enough to call out its allies for human rights abuses. At DAWN, we believe that U.S. policy should be consistent. So the same standard in terms of respecting human rights that are applied towards Iran should also be applied towards Israel and every other country because these are universal standards of how government should treat the people under their control.

Q: Why have Western countries, especially Canada and the U.S., preferred to turn a blind eye to Khashoggi’s murder while they knew that Mohammed bin Salman was directly responsible for that crime? How could Saudis distract attention away from their crimes and influence human rights bodies in the UN?

A: I think the lack of accountability for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi reflects a weakness in the system of international politics and especially the United States, which is selling Saudi Arabia billions of dollars in the arms trade and providing diplomatic cover that allows the Saudi government to act with impunity. The lack of accountability for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder regarding the role of Mohammad Bin Salman indicates that real change is needed. What is encouraging is that in the United States, there is pressure not just from the American people but also in the American Congress seeking accountability, and I remind that the U.S. Congress has required the federal government to provide information about those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in the form of a DNI (Director of National Intelligence) report that was to be published last year. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has ignored that mandate and refused to release the report.  The refusal is the subject of litigation in U.S. courts, and we hope that the incoming administration will follow the law and do what Congress has required, which is to reveal what American intelligence services know about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. 

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US Is the Top Human Rights Violator in the World, and It’s Not Even Close

By Danny Haiphong

Source

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Few things are more politicized and distorted in the United States than the subject of human rights. Over the last two generations, the U.S. political class and its conduits in the corporate media have weaponized human rights to serve an imperialist agenda. NGOs such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International tend to focus much of their time crafting human rights narratives on matters of critical importance to the U.S. Department of State. Syria, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and a host of countries have been condemned by these organizations for alleged human rights violations. Since 2018, China has been targeted for the same treatment.

China is accused of detaining millions of Xinjiang-based Uyghurs in “concentration camps.” Thanks to Ajit Singh and The Grayzone, we know that the sources for these allegations are far from reliable. We know that the principle source for all things Xinjiang in the U.S. is Adrian Zenz, a far-right Christian fundamentalist who believes he is led by God to overthrow the Communist Party of China. We know that the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders responsible for the study that conducted a total of eight total interviews to derive conclusions of mass Uyghur internment is heavily funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA-linked organization. We also know that the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) currently leading the charge to demonize China on human rights issues is sponsored by military contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

The primary concern of institutions such as ASPI is not the issue of human rights, but rather the creation of an atmosphere of war that will service its donors in the U.S. weapons industry. This is exactly what the propagation of the “Uyghur oppression” narrative has achieved. While relying completely on speculation, faulty satellite imagery, and testimonies from Uyghur-exile groups funded by the NED, the successful penetration of the baseless claim that China is detaining millions of Muslims in camps has played an important role in building up public support in the U.S. for a New Cold War against China. U.S. public opinion of China has dropped significantly over the past year. The U.S. has used the Uyghur human rights narrative to successfully sanction businesses and Communist Party of China officials in Xinjiang.

When U.S. officials accuse other countries of human rights violations, what comes afterward is always far worse than the allegations. After 9/11, U.S. intelligence agencies accused Saddam Hussein of stockpiling non-existent Weapons of Mass destruction. The U.S. went on to invade Iraq in 2003—a war that caused the death of over one million Iraqi civilians and poisoned thousands more with toxic depleted uranium. In 2011, Muammar Gaddafi was accused of “murdering his own people” only to have Libya transformed into a failed state following a more than six month bombing campaign by NATO to protect a jihadist insurgency. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has been repeatedly accused of using chemical weapons “on his own people.” Syria has been mired in an endless war with both the U.S. and its regional allies which has left hundreds of thousands of dead, millions displaced, and nearly one-third of its oil-rich and water-rich territory occupied by the U.S. military.

These examples are just a few of many that demonstrate why the U.S. is the chief human rights violator in the world. However, it is important to note that how the United States conducts itself abroad is a reflection of the myriad of ways that it violates the human rights of people living in the United States. Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Sandra Bland, and Michael Brown are just a few of hundreds of examples of Black Americans that have been killed by police officers without redress. An average of 1,000 people in the United States are killed by police officers each year. Unlike the U.S.-led Xinjiang narrative, it is well-documented that over 2 million people reside in U.S. prisons and that nearly three-quarters of that prison population is Black, Latino, or Native American.

The U.S. is home to a quarter of all prisoners in the world. Around 80,000 of these prisoners are held in solitary confinement, a practice of prolonged isolation that the U.N. has firmly declared to be an act of torture. Research suggests that solitary confinement is directly linked to a host of psychological maladies from psychosis to suicide. Solitary confinement also causes lasting structural damage to the brain, especially in the hippocampus region responsible for memory and spatial awareness. Widespread use of solitary confinement in the U.S. is not a benign practice but one that specifically targets racial groups. Over forty percent of all male prisoners in solitary confinement are Black American. The world has long known that the U.S. engages in torture abroad at CIA black sites and Guantanamo Bay Prison but fewer are aware of how torture is commonplace in the U.S.’ numerous prisons.

For decades, the U.S. has accused countries such as China of the very policies that make up the foundations of its domestic and foreign policy. U.S. elites have accused China of suppressing free speech but say little about the NSA’s massive surveillance program or the attempted extradition of a non-citizen in Julian Assange for publishing documents relating to U.S. war crimes. China has been accused of sterilizing ethnic minorities yet U.S. officials have failed to scrutinize documented cases of sterilization within U.S. immigration detention centers or its mistreatment of Muslim citizens since the War on Terror was declared in 2001. The Economist has accused China of using its anti-poverty campaign to build loyalty to the Communist Party of China but has yet to call out Joe Biden or Donald Trump for ignoring the needs of the forty percent of people in the U.S. who have virtually no disposable income. China is routinely accused of possessing an “aggressive” foreign policy by the same policy makers and thought leaders who have kept the U.S. at war for more than two-hundred years of its existence.

The ideology of American exceptionalism has created the illusion that the U.S. deserves to hold a monopoly on the issue of human rights. American exceptionalism presumes that the United States is the model example for countries and peoples all over the world. However, the days when the world was forced to bow to the U.S. are over. Most of the world sees the U.S. as the biggest threat to human rights and a peaceful existence. The U.S.’s human rights track record suggests that the world is correct, and it is the entire planet that suffers when issues such as war, climate change, poverty, and racism are blamed on China rather than addressed with solidarity and cooperation at a global level. 

US Activist: Internal Crises Overwhelming Racist US, People Will Not Retreat

US Activist: Internal Crises Overwhelming Racist US, People Will Not Retreat 

By Elham Hashemi

The latest riots and looting in the United States of America were triggered by the cold-blooded killing of the US citizen George Floyd. The entire planet knows the sad story of Floyd no need to mention in it here.

But this story is only the tip of the iceberg. For those who think that Floyd’s killing is the real reason that made streets of different US states and regions flood with protestors and rioters, you are mistaken. Underneath the tip of the iceberg is what has been accumulating for long years.

If you know the US well, you must know by now that there is no universal healthcare, there are starvation wages, there exists mass incarceration, the US has a long history of police brutality, there is a lack of opportunities, racist politicians are everywhere, a racist justice system exists, there are no reparations and there is no access to affordable education.

With the coming of Covid-19 and the state of chaos across the country, and the sad crime of killing Floyd, it seems that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Thanks to alternative and social media networks, nothing is hidden; information flows in specs of a second through fiber optic technology to reach millions across the world.

News activist and analyst Sam G. from the city of Michigan told al-Ahed news that “Information is not monopolistic anymore. People across the world have become news junkies contributing to the multiplicity of informative voices as well as provide information on first-hand experience and what is happening in each country.”

Sam told al-Ahed “Corona, the pandemic which probably should be thanked at a certain point, revealed the spirit of each country, that is, those who are interested in giving more importance to the economy, as is the case of the United States, while other countries such as Iran carried out a coronavirus control policy where the health of its people was given more importance despite being financially sanctioned by the United States where its people are suffering from the individualistic policies of their government.

“The difference is clear, economy versus health, money versus life and here are the countries that suffer the most that are setting the example.”

The activist noted “The United States has loads of internal crises that it needs to overcome. The political crisis has extended to reach US President Donald Trump; his own officials who can no longer support his statements and poor decisions.”

“We are talking about a government that is racist towards its people. It is a country that is sinking in problems and complex issues and has a government that is sort of living in a state of denial. The US suffers an economic crisis where unconventional oil companies declared bankruptcy and the state had to go out to subsidize them while people continue to die for not being able to access the health system that is private and segregating.” 

This, according to Sam, “leads to an unprecedented social crisis that proves once again that the Trump administration has no intention of improving its own country.”

According to Sam, this is only the beginning of change in the US as well as the world and its order. The activist thinks that people are not willing to retreat or stop protesting until they see the arrest of all officers involved in the killing of Floyd and see action in terms of protecting the rights of African Americans at least.

In many parts of the world, the death of yet another black man at the hands of the police in the United States set off mass protests against police brutality. For many activists and community organizers, Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer was a blunt reminder of Chicago’s racial divide and history of police brutality against African Americans.

Between 2013 and 2019, police in the United States killed 7,666 people, according to data compiled by Mapping Police Violence, a research and advocacy group. In 2019 alone, more than 1,000 people were killed by police, according to Mapping Police Violence, a research group.

Several states have called in National Guard troops to help quell the protests, some of which have turned violent. Cities nationwide have also implemented curfews, but protesters appear undeterred.

The US has even failed in ensuring the right of citizens to protest, which is the simplest form of freedom of expression and human rights in the so-called land of democracies and freedoms. According to the human rights group Amnesty International, police tactics used so far can trigger escalating violence. “Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate for a battlefield may put them in the mindset that confrontation and conflict are inevitable,” read the statement, adding that police “should demilitarize their approach and engage in dialogue with protest organizers”.

Imam Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind: Falk

TEHRAN – Forty-one years have passed since Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, upon failure to attract popular support, fled Iran forever

January 17, 2020 – 13:2

Over the past decades, despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions, Iran has been more stable than ever- a fact even acknowledged by Professor Richard Falk as the former UN Special Rapporteur.

Falk, who came to Tehran as a member of an American delegation in 1979, has an interesting narrative of Bakhtiar’s desperation on the day of Shah-Escape. 

As Iran marks 41th anniversary of Islamic revolution, we asked Professor Falk to share his experience from this historical trip and the visit he later had with the founder of Islamic republic of Iran Ayatollah Khomeini. 

Richard Anderson Falk is an American professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University. He is the author or co-author of 20 books and the editor or co-editor of another 20 volumes. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967.   

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: Before Iran’s Islamic revolution, as a member of an American delegation, you had a visit to Iran. What were the objectives of that trip?

A: I was chair of a small committee in the United States with the name, “Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran,” which sponsored events with Iranian students and some prominent figures. It became active within university settings as the revolutionary movement gathered momentum in 1978.

The Committee had almost no funding, but had dedicated members, and achieved a certain visibility as there was so little attention being given to these historic developments in Iran unfolding as the months passed. The treatment of these issues in the mainstream media was not only mostly very pro-Shah but also quite uninformative, and even uniformed.

It was in this context that I received as chair of the Committee an invitation from Mehdi Bazargan to visit Iran in a delegation of three persons for a period of two weeks. The stated purpose of the visit was to convey to several Americans a better understanding of the revolution underway. I felt that it was important to accept this invitation precisely for the reasons given in the letter of invitation. Our objective, then, was to achieve this better understanding of the revolution movement in Iran, and do our best after returning to share the experience and our impressions as widely as possible, and this is what we did.

In this spirit I did my best to find two persons who would benefit from such a visit, possessed an open mind toward the challenge being posed to imperial rule in Iran, and had some access to media and influential audiences back in the United States. My first two choices both agreed to become members of the delegation along with myself. Ramsey Clark was my first choice. He had been prominent in government, having been Attorney General, was part of a well-known political family, and had previously been considered a possible candidate for the American presidency. Besides being extremely intelligence, Ramsey had a high profile that generated great media interest and had a reputation for telling unpleasant and inconvenient truths.

My second choice was Philip Luce, a prominent religious activist who achieved world fame by his public acts of opposition to the Vietnam War. He was a person of the highest integrity, and fearless in searching for the truth in controversial political settings.
The three of us made the trip without deep prior personal associations, but we got along very well throughout our time together in Iran, and subsequently. 

Q: How different was what you witnessed from the US media narratives of the Iranian revolution’s developments?

A: The differences were spectacular. The US media conveyed very little understanding of the character of the movement in Iran, and was perplexed by its strength and outlook. At the time, the Shah’s government was a close ally of the United States in the midst of the Cold War, and Iran’s strategic location with respect to the Soviet Union made it very important to Washington to keep the Shah’s regime in control of the country. As well, the US Government, having played an important role by way of covert intervention in the 1953 coup that restored the Shah to the Peacock Throne, there was a particularly strong commitment made in Washington to doing whatever was necessary to defeat this nonviolent mass movement led by a then still rather obscure religious figure. It was deemed unthinkable within the United States government that such a seemingly primitive movement of the Iranian people could produce the collapse of the Iranian government that had mighty military and police capabilities at its disposal, possessed a political will to use lethal ammunition against unarmed demonstrators, and gained the geopolitical benefits of a ‘special relationship’ with the most powerful state in the world deeply invested in upholding its regional interests. In such a setting the media reflected the propaganda and ideological outlook of the government, and was not a source of independent and objective journalism.

It was in such an atmosphere that we hoped that we could bring some more informed and realistic commentary on the unfolding revolutionary process in Iran, including identifying its special character as neither left nor right, seemingly led by a religious leader who remained virtually unknown in the West. It was even unclear to us at the time of our visit whether Ayatollah Khomeini was the real leader or only a figurehead, a temporary phenomenon. We hoped to provide some insight into such questions, as well as to understand whether the new political realities in Iran would produce confrontation or normalization. Was the United States prepared, as it was not in 1953, to live with the politics of self-determination as it operated in Iran or would it seek once more to intervene on behalf of its geopolitical agenda? 

Indeed, we did have some effect on the quality of Western media coverage of the developments in Iran. Ramsey Clark and myself were invited to do many interviews and asked for to describe our impressions by mainstream TV channels and print outlets. As a result, at least until the hostage crisis, discussion of Iran Politics became more informed and some useful political debate emerged, at least for a while.  

Q: You met the then Prime Minister of Iran Shapour Bakhtiar on the same day when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left Iran. What was Bakhtiar’s assessment of the developments including Shah’s departure?

A: We had the impression from our meeting that the Prime Minister was uncertain about the situation and his own personal fate. Of course, we met with Mr. Bakhtiar at a tense time, only a very few hours after the Shah was reported as having left the country. Bakhtiar had a reputation. of being hostile to intrusions of religion in the domain of politics, and had a personal identity strongly influenced by French culture along with its very dogmatic version of secularism. When we met, the city of Tehran was in a kind of frenzied mood, with cars blowing their horns in celebration, and posters of Khomeini appearing everywhere. We had trouble maneuvering through the traffic so as to keep our appointment.

We found Mr. Bakhtiar cautious and non-committal, and possibly intimidated, not by us, of course, but by the dozen or so others in the room who were never introduced, and wore the clothes associated with security personnel. We assumed that at least some of these anonymous individuals were from the SAVAK, and maybe explained partly why Bakhtiar seemed so uncomfortable. When we asked his help in arranging a visit to prisoners confined in Evin Prison, he seemed unable to answer until he received guidance from one of these advisers present in the room. After a short, whispered instruction, the Prime Minister told us that a visit could be arranged on the following day to the political prisoners, but that we would not be allowed to enter the part of the prison reserved for common criminals. After being at the prison, we felt that the political prisoners were treated well, seen as possibly of a future ruling elite, while the ordinary criminals held no interest for past or present, and lived in crowded cells often with no windows.

Overall, we were left with not much clarity about how Bakhtiar viewed the future of his caretaker government. We had no real opinion on whether what he was saying to us with the others in the room was what they wanted him to say, or expressed his real views, or maybe reflected some sort of compromise. Would he be soon replaced, and his own role challenged as unlawful, or even criminal? We had the impression of a frightened bureaucrat lacking in leadership potential. Maybe our impressions were distorted by the reality that our visit took place at such a tense and difficult moment, which turned out to be transformative for the country and its people. As a result these impressions of a sad and entrapped individual may leave too negative a picture.  

Q: What was the Central Intelligence Agency’s assessment of the Iranian revolution’s developments? Did CIA have a lucid exact assessment of the revolutionary forces and Iran’s future political system?

A: We had no contact with the CIA, but did meet with the American ambassador to Iran at the time, William Sullivan, who had a counterinsurgency background with a militarist reputation. He gave us a briefing that was much more illuminating as to Iranian developments than was our meeting with the Prime Minister. Sullivan acknowledged that the U.S. was caught off guard by both the character and the strength of the movement, and was struggling to keep up with events. He told us that the Embassy had previously constructed no less than 26 scenarios of political developments that might threaten the Shah’s leadership, but not one was concerned about a threat to the established order mounted by Islamically oriented opposition. The American preoccupation, reflecting Cold War priorities, limited its concerns to containing the Marxist and Soviet-oriented left, and the belief that to the extent there was a political side to Islam it was aligned with the West in its anti-Communist agenda as evident in the setting of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. 

Somewhat to our surprise, Sullivan spoke of his acute frustrations in dealing with the Carter presidency, especially with the National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who he claimed to be unwilling to accept the finality of the Shah’s loss of power or of the outcome of the revolutionary movement. Sullivan advocated coming to terms with the emerging new realities as representing America’s national interests, but he spoke very clearly of the resistance to this view at the White House. Sullivan partly attributed this stubbornness to the influence of the Iranian ambassador on. Brzezinski, a view later supported by State Department officials. 

Q: What were the issues discussed at a meeting you had in Neauphle-le Chateau with the late Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Khomeini and how would you describe his personality?

A: We met for a long time, maybe three hours, and covered many issues. During the conversation, after some rather long introductions on our sides about our experience in. Iran, we listened and responded to concerns expressed by Ayatollah Khomeini. After that we posed a series of questions. I will mention here a few topics discussed that have a lasting interest. 

Ayatollah Khomeini’s first and understandable concern was whether the US Government would try to repeat the intervention of 1953 or live with the outcome of the revolution. Of course, we were not in a position to give a clear answer. We did think there was less disposition by the US to intervene than 25 years earlier, but we knew of the strategic importance attached to keeping Iran allied to the US in Cold War contexts and of the personal as well as ideological closeness between Carter and the Shah, especially after the Carter family spent New Year’s Eve in Tehran as the Shah’s guest in 1978, and Carter made his famous toast about the Shah being surrounded by the love of his people.

Ayatollah Khomeini was also concerned about whether the military contracts with the United States would be fulfilled now that there would be a change of government in Iran. This line of questioning gave us a sense that Ayatollah Khomeini had a rather practical turn of mind.
At the same time, he volunteered the view that he hoped that soon he would be able to resume his religious life, and explained taking up residence in Qom rather than Tehran seemed consistent with such an intention. Ayatollah Khomeini told us that he has reluctantly entered politics because in his words ‘there was a river of blood between the Shah and the people.’

When we asked for his hopes for the revolutionary government, this religious leader made clear that he viewed the revolution as an Islamic rather than an Iranian occurrence. He stressed this issue, but without any sectarian overtones. He did go on to say that he felt that the basic community for all people in the Islamic world was civilizational and religious, and not national and territorial. Ayatollah Khomeini explained in ways I subsequently heard from others, that territorial sovereign states built around national identity did not form a natural community in the Middle East the way it did in Europe.

Ayatollah Khomeini also made clear to us that he viewed the Saudi monarchy was as decadent and cruel as was the Shah, and deserved to face the same fate. He felt that dynastic rule had no legitimate role in Islamic societies.

We also asked about the fate of Jews and Bahais in the emergent Islamic Republic of Iran, aware of their close working relationships with the Shah’s governing structure. We found the response significant. He expressed the opinion that Judaism was ‘a genuine religion’ and if Jews do not get too involved in support for Israel, they would be fine in Iran. His words on this, as I recall them, were ‘it would be a tragedy for us if they left.’ He viewed Bahais differently because of their worship of a prophet after Mohammad, leading him to adopt the view that Bahais were members of ‘a sect’ and did not belong to ‘a true religion,’ and thus its adherents would not be welcome in the new Iran. Afterwards, I learned that Ayatollah Khomeini intervened to oppose and prevent genocidal moves being advocated in relation to the Bahai minority living in Iran, but I have no confirmation of this. 

Q: What was the last US Ambassador to Iran William Sullivan’s mission? He is known to be an anti-riot man. Did he give any intellectual help to Iran military or SAVAK (the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service in Iran during the reign of the Pahlavi)?

A: Of course, Sullivan never would tell us about his covert activities. He had the reputation of being ‘a counterinsurgency diplomat’ as he had served in Laos as an ambassador during the Vietnam War. It was at a time that the embassy was being used to take part in a Laotian internal war that included directing US bombing strikes against rebel forces.

With this knowledge, I was invited to testify in the U.S. Senate to oppose his confirmation. Unfortunately, my testimony did not prevent him from being confirmed as ambassador to Iran, although several senators at the time indicated to me privately their agreement with my testimony, but were unwilling to reject President Carter’s choice so early in his presidency. When in Iran I urged the meeting, and Ramsey Clark was skeptical at first, saying that he had had an unpleasant encounter with Sullivan some years earlier. I convinced Ramsey that the credibility of our trip would be compromised if we made no effort to get the viewpoint of the American Embassy. We did make an appointment, Sullivan’s first words as we entered were “I know Professor Falk thinks I am a war criminal..” Yet he welcomed us, and talked openly and at length about the situation and his efforts to get Washington to accept what had happened in Iran. In retrospect, I think he hoped we would be a vehicle for making his views more publicly known.

He made the point that there were no social forces ready to fight to keep the Shah in power. The business community, or national private sector, was alienated by the Shah’s reliance on international capital to fulfill his development plans. The armed forces were also not favorable enough to the throne to fight on its behalf, complaining that the Shah’s abiding fear of a coup mounted against him, created distrust of his own military commanders, and led him to frequently shuffle the leadership in the armed forces. This resulted in a low level of loyalty, and helps explain why the military watched the political transformation take place without showing any pronounced willingness to intervene, despite being nudged in an interventionary, especially in the context of a visit by an American NATO general at the height of the revolutionary ferment. The general was widely reported to be exploring whether it was plausible to encourage the Iranian military to defend the established order. 

We also asked about what would happen to the surviving leaders from the Shah’s government who had been accused of crimes against the Iranian people. Ayatollah Khomeini responded by saying that he expected that what he called ‘Nuremberg Trials’ would be held to hold accountable leading figures from the fallen government, and some from bureaucratic backgrounds, including SAVAK officials. We wondered why this plan was not later followed, and why those from the Shah’s regime accused were often executed after summary, secret trials. We knew some of those who had led the revolution had received support from the CIA during their period as students overseas or even when serving as mosque officials, which would be damaging and confusing to make public at a time of such uncertainty. It is important to remember that until the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Western intelligence assumed that the anti-Marxist approach of those of devout Islamic faith would make all religiously oriented personalities strong allies of Western anti-Communism, a view that persisted to some extent until after the Afghanistan resistance to Soviet intervention which was headed by Islamic forces, and was only decisively shattered by the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the United States. 

Q: Why did the liberal–Islamist groups fail to secure the support of Ayatollah Khomeini at the end of the day?

A: It is difficult for an outsider like myself to comment on the internal politics in that revolutionary period. The situation in Iran was still fluid, and worries about a counterrevolutionary coup to bring the Shah back to his throne a second time were widespread. Added to this, the change in Iran came so quickly. Several secular personalities of liberal persuasion told us that ‘the revolution happened too quickly. We were not ready.’ 

Ayatollah Khomeini while still in Paris, seemed originally to believe that liberal Islamically oriented bureaucrats would be needed to run the government on a day to day basis. He may have envisioned a governing process relying on technical experts, especially to achieve good economic policies and results that he thought necessary to keep the support of the Iranian masses. Such expectations seem to be not entirely consistent with the vison of Islamic Government set forth in his published lectures, available to us in English, that were written while he was living as an exile in Iraq. His insistent theme in the lecture was that a government consistent with Islamic values could not be reliably established on democratic principles without being subject to unelected religious guidance as the source of highest authority.

We also were aware of several other explanations for this about face on the governing process. Some in Iran believed that Ayatollah Khomeini only discovered his political popularity after he returned to the country, and this made him believe he had a mandate to impose a system of government that reflected his ideas. Others offered the opinion that he became convinced by his entourage of advisors that the revolutionary spirit and agenda was being lost by the liberals, and hence were urging him to take direct and visible charge of the government. And finally, there arose the view that the liberals were given a chance, and their performance disappointed Ayatollah Khomeini, leading him to reenter politics and move to Tehran to lead the country. As far as I know, this story of transition from the Pahlavi Era to the Islamic Republic remains veiled in mystery.  Hopefully, before long the mystery will disappear with the appearance of more authoritative accounts of what transpired after the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to the country.

What we do know is that what was established in this transition period has survived for more than 40 years despite being faced with threats, provocations, harsh sanctions, and even a variety of covert interventions. Arguably, Iran has been as stable as any country in the region, and more stable than most. This is impressive, although it does not overcome some criticisms directed at violations of basic human rights of people in Iran.

The Bahrain Gov’t Is Attacking Female Activists – And Trump’s Policies are Emboldening Them

The Bahrain Gov’t Is Attacking Female Activists – And Trump’s Policies are Emboldening Them

By Lucilla Berwick and Bridget Quitter, Ms. Magazine 

In 2017, Bahraini human rights defender Ebtisam al-Saegh found herself sitting in a dark room before a pair of chain smoking officers from Bahrain’s National Security Agency. “No one is going to hear you in this place,” sneered one of the men, who introduced himself as ‘the torturer.’ “No one can protect you here, not the Human Rights Council or any other organization. You know we have a green light from Trump, right?”

It had been a brutal year in the tiny island of Bahrain, the home of the US Navy Fifth Fleet and a key American ally in the Arab Gulf. The government, led by the AlKhalifa monarchy, had begun a severe and ongoing crackdown, which saw all political opposition groups and independent media forcibly dissolved and thousands incarcerated on political charges, amid accusations of rampant torture and due process violations. Ebtisam had recently returned from the UN in Geneva, where she spoke out about Bahrain’s repression.

With her arrest and torture, the government was sending a message: this would not be tolerated.

Women like Ebtisam have long played a central, albeit overlooked, role in Bahrain’s opposition movement. As the government increasingly targeted women for their opinions or those of their relatives, many began to come forward. Our organizations, the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, have worked with nine women to share their stories. The resulting report, Breaking the Silence, traces the path of these women – from their arrests, through their interrogations and trials, to their detention at Isa Town Detention Centre, Bahrain’s only women’s prison. We uncovered horrific patterns of abuse, from sham trials to torture and sexual violence.

We encountered considerable obstacles to our work from the outset. The Bahraini state is highly resistant to scrutiny, making it virtually impossible to visit the country for research. UN Special Rapporteurs have not been permitted entry since 2006, while human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have been denied access since 2015. However, through regular phone calls with the imprisoned women and their families, as well as analysis of court rulings and medical reports and comments from psychologists and legal experts, we pieced together a coherent picture of their experiences.

As we assembled their stories, the systematic nature of government abuses became clear. During brutal interrogations, the women experienced extreme violence, ranging from threats of rape or death to beatings, sexual assault and witnessing the torture of relatives. To end these abuses, many agreed to sign pre-written confessions, later used by Bahrain’s widely condemned judiciary to convict them. When they attempted to raise their ill-treatment in court, they were dismissed by judges.

Once sentenced, the women were singled out for mistreatment at Isa Town prison due to their political status, as is common across the Bahraini prison system. They reported punitive measures, including restrictions on family visits, religious discrimination, physical assault and medical negligence. Two of the women who remain in prison today, Medina Ali and Hajer Mansoor, have only seen their children once over the past year – a visit that was granted only after significant international pressure.

The legacies of the women’s abuse affect them to this day. Ebtisam reported she can no longer sleep in the dark or tolerate the smell of cigarettes, both of which immediately transport her back to the smoky room where she was tortured. Others reported psychological trauma in their young children related to their prolonged separation. The stigma attached to incarceration also makes returning to society difficult: After being released following an international campaign against her unlawful conviction, Najah Yusuf was fired by her employer who questioned her integrity due to her criminal record.

“Sometimes I speak normally about my ordeal,” Yusuf told us, “but the truth is that I am bleeding from within. It’s painful, and I have no idea when all of this is going to end.”

While abuses in Bahrain may seem distant, the US exerts a huge influence on the country, and American policy has actively contributed to the crackdown. Since Trump’s election, Obama-era human rights conditions on arms sales have been removed and the State Department has approved an unprecedented $8.5 billion worth of arms sales, upgrades, services and training to the country. Despite evidence that some of this funding has gone directly to bodies implicated in the abuse of the women we interviewed, the US places no human rights conditions on its substantial investment in Bahrain.

Trump seemingly gave the “green light” to Bahrain’s crackdown during a state visit in May 2017, where he promised an end to the “strain” his predecessor had placed on US-Bahrain relations. Two days later, Bahraini police opened fire on peaceful protests in the village of Diraz, in what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described as among the “deadliest” operations since Bahrain’s pro-democracy uprising was crushed in 2011. The conservative shift in American domestic policy has also encouraged Bahrain’s rights abuses: days after the White House announced the resumption of federal executions in July 2019, Bahrain executed two torture victims amid international outcry; when asked for comment ahead of the executions, the Bahraini Embassy in Washington, DC explicitly referenced the US decision.

Trump’s barely-concealed enthusiasm for authoritarianism is bolstering a climate of impunity in the region. In Bahrain, this means abusers are free to operate without fear of consequences. When Trump received Bahrain’s Crown Prince to discuss arms deals last month, he made the message very clear: keep buying arms, and we will stay silent on rights abuses.

For the women we worked with, the knowledge that they could be seized again at any point is among the most terrifying aspects of their entire experience. It is time for Congress to make clear that these violations cannot be tolerated.

These nine women have broken the silence. Now it is up to us to raise our voices and make sure that their efforts are not in vain.

Human Rights as Seen by the White House: Concessions to Israel Are Notable

By Philip Giraldi
Source

Pompeo Joins Netanyahu 6165b

The State Department’s just issued annual Human Rights Report for 2018 is a disgrace, a document so heavily politicized by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his crew of hardliners that it might be regarded as a model in how to make something that is black appear to be white. Which is not to say that it is not cleverly composed, quite the contrary, but it uses its choice of words and expressions to mitigate or even dismiss some actual human rights abuses while regarding as more grave other lesser offenses to make political points. And then there is what it does not say, deliberate omissions intended to frame situations in terms favorable to America and its dwindling number of friends in the world.

Not surprisingly, the region that has received the most massaging by the authors of the report is the Middle East, where an effort has been made to depict Israel in a positive light while also denigrating the Palestinians and Iranians. The language used regarding Israel’s occupation of much of the West Bank and the Golan Heights has been particularly welcomed by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and also by the Israeli media. The word “occupation” or “occupied” to describe the status quo of those areas administered by the Israeli military has been dropped in favor of “Israeli controlled.” The difference is important as occupation has specific legal implications defined by the Geneva Conventions in terms of what the occupying power can and cannot do. To starve and dispossess the Arab inhabitants of the occupied area, as the Israelis are doing to build their settlements, is a war crime. Also, an occupation must have a terminus ante quem date whereby the occupation itself must end. It cannot be permanent.

The new language is a gift to Israel on the eve of its April 9th election and it allows incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu to claim that he is the candidate best able to obtain concessions from Washington. America’s so-called Ambassador to Israel is a former Trump bankruptcy lawyer named David Friedman who is more involved in serving up Israeli propaganda than in supporting the actual interests of the United States. He probably believes that what is good for Israelis is good for Americans.

Friedman personally supports the view that the illegal Jewish settlements are legitimately part of Israel, choosing to ignore their expansion even though it has long been U.S. policy to oppose them. He has also long sought to change the State Department’s language on the Israeli control of the West Bank and Golan Heights, being particularly concerned about the expression “occupied” which has previously appeared in U.S. government texts describing the situation in the Israel-Palestine region. Friedman now appears to have won the fight over language, to the delight of the Netanyahu government.

And the elimination of “occupied” will apparently be only the first of several gifts intended to bolster Netanyahu’s chances. Senator Lindsey Graham, who also boasts of his close ties to the Israeli Prime Minister, recently stated his intention to initiate legislative action to go one step further and compel the United States to actually recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the Syrian territory that was annexed after fighting in 1967, but which has not been recognized as part of Israel by any other country or international body.

Last Thursday, President Donald Trump announced that the Senate vote promoted by Graham would not be necessary, that he would order the State Department to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the area.  This will hugely benefit Bibi and further damage America’s standing in the Middle East and beyond. Some sources are already predicting that recognition of the annexation of the Golan Heights will soon lead to U.S. government recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over much of the West Bank, both ending forever any prospect for a Palestinian state and making it clear that the United States is running a foreign policy to benefit Israel.

There is, of course, much more in the Human Rights Report. The executive summary and first section on Israel and Palestine include text that could easily have come from an Israeli government press release or been featured as an editorial in the New York PostWashington Post or Wall Street Journal: “Human rights issues included reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings, including Palestinian killings of Israeli civilians and soldiers…From March 30 to December 5, Palestinian militant groups launched more than 1,150 rockets and mortars from the Gaza Strip toward arbitrary or civilian targets in Israel. Gaza-based militants shot and killed one Israeli soldier, and a rocket launched by Gaza-based militants killed one Palestinian laborer in Ashkelon. More than 200 Israelis required treatment from these attacks, mostly for shock. Beginning on March 30, Israeli forces engaged in conflict with Palestinians at the Gaza fence, including armed terrorists, militants who launched incendiary devices into Israel, and unarmed protesters. This occurred during mass protests co-opted by terrorist organization Hamas and dubbed a ‘March of Return.’ The government stated that since March 30 it had been ‘contending with violent attempts led by Hamas to sabotage and destroy Israel’s defensive security infrastructure separating Israel from the Gaza Strip, penetrate Israel’s territory, harm Israeli security forces, overrun Israeli civilian areas, and murder Israeli civilians.’”

A separate report section on Gaza adds “On March 30, Palestinians in Gaza launched the ‘March of Return,’ a series of weekly protests along the fence between Gaza and Israel. The protests, some of which drew tens of thousands of people, and included armed terrorists, militants who launched incendiary devices into Israel, and unarmed protesters, continued throughout the year. Hamas took control of the weekly protests, and many of the protests were violent as encouraged by Hamas.”

Interestingly, the Report does not even have a dedicated section on Iran, only providing a link to a separate document: “Read the State Department’s new report detailing the magnitude of the Iranian regime’s destructive behavior at home and abroad. The report covers Iran’s support for terrorism, its missile program, illicit financial activities, threats to maritime security and cybersecurity, human rights abuses, as well as environmental exploitation.” A second link is to a speech by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo given before the neocon group United Against Nuclear Iran: “The Iranian regime’s track record over the past 40 years has revealed it as among the worst violators of the UN Charter and UN Security Council resolutions – perhaps, indeed, the worst violator. It is truly an outlaw regime.”

Exonerating perpetual victim Israel of all its misdeeds and blaming the Israel-Palestine problem on the Palestinians while also labeling them as “terrorists” is both delusional and propaganda, not responsible analysis. Nor is damning Iran when speaking before a partisan group and falsely calling it a “worst violator of the U.N. Charter and U.N. Security Council resolutions” exactly informative. It is actually Israel that is the worst violator of U.N. Security Council resolutions, a fact that is not mentioned in the Human Rights Report.

One might well question why to write a Human Rights Report at all, but that is something that can be blamed on Congress, which ordered the State Department to prepare it. And one should note the key omission in the document: there is no admission of causality. The United States foreign and national security policies over the past twenty years have created a “human rights” disaster mostly in Asia but also elsewhere, a virtual tsunami rolling over ruined countries that has killed millions of people while also displacing millions more. In reckoning the terrible circumstances being endured by many in so many places there is no mention of the American role. And, unfortunately, there is no section in the Human Rights Report for “United States of America.

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