Islamabad – Pakistan will renegotiate two key agreements signed with the United States and its Western allies nine years ago as part of a wider policy review following last month’s deadly Nato air raids on Pakistani border posts.
The agreements – both signed in 2002 during former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf’s regime to allow transit of supplies and logistics support for the US-led Nato forces – were considered crucial for the decade-long battle against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
The decision to reconfigure those arrangements was taken at the end of a two-day envoys’ conference convened to revisit the country’s foreign policy against the backdrop of a deadly Nato incursion.
The conference was attended by over two dozen ambassadors and high commissioners serving in key world capitals.
A senior foreign ministry official said that a set of recommendations had been finalised for the government to re-evaluate and review cooperation with the US and Nato.
Recommendations include fresh agreements for Nato supplies and logistics support to the US, minimising the ‘CIA footprint’ in the country, seeking an honourable return of Afghan refugees and pursuing efforts to stabilise Afghanistan irrespective of Washington’s approach, according to the official, who was part of the consultations.
The conference also decided to seek a formal public apology from the US over the November 26 incident and firm guarantees that there would be no violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty in the future, added the official, who asked to remain anonymous.
The envoys, according to the participant, were of the view that the US appears to be uninterested in the Afghan reconciliation process.
However, irrespective of Washington’s approach, Islamabad must redouble its efforts to facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process, he added.
The conference recommended that the government reach out to Britain, Germany and other European countries, which have been making efforts to seek a peaceful end to the Afghan conflict.
The diplomats also urged the government to ensure that over 3.5 million Afghan refugees, still living in Pakistan, are repatriated to their homeland.
There are indications that the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) may ask Pakistan to extend the repatriation of Afghan refugees beyond the 2012 deadline.
Delegates at the conference believe that the repatriation of Afghan refugees is necessary because, according to the government assessment 95 per cent of terrorist attacks in Pakistan are traced back to the refugee camps.
The recommendations will now be presented before the parliamentary committee on national security, which has been mandated to redraft terms of engagements with the US. The concluding session of the conference was chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who described the Nato attack as a “huge setback to prospects of the much-needed cooperation among the important stakeholders.”
“Our cooperation with US/Nato/Isaf was based on respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Under no circumstances, could we accept flagrant transgression of our territorial frontiers. This remains our baseline and there can be no compromise on sovereignty, dignity and national honour,” Gilani said.
“We expect the US/Nato/Isaf inquiry that is being undertaken to reveal all the facts and provide answers to questions that our own investigations have raised,” he said.
Gilani maintained that recommendations finalised by the foreign ministry will be considered by a joint sitting of parliament.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office said, Sherry Rehman, ambassador-designate to the US, presented the recommendations furnished by the envoys’ conference to the prime minister.
Three sisters, moments before a home demolition in Al Aqaba, in the West Bank (photo: flickr/frecklebaum)
Surrounded by two training military camps, in Area C, Al Aqaba’s population has gone from 1000 in 1967, the beginning of the Israeli military occupation of West Bank, to the current 300.
Al Aqaba is part of Tubas district, in the northeastern area of the West Bank, near the entrance of the Jordan Valley. A fertile land, rich with water resources, its geography attracted the attention of the Israeli Army which has used the area for military training of all kinds. Sami Sadiq, head of the Al Aqaba local council, explains, “Al Aqaba is surrounded by two military camps, used for the training of ground forces, tanks and air force. After the 1967 war, the village area was declared a closed military zone for ‘security reasons.’ Since that moment, they started building three training camps that host thousands of soldiers every year. They come here for one or two months and then they are sent to their respective units.”
“From 1971 to the present,” Sadiq adds, “the soldiers killed 13 Palestinians and injured at least 50.”
Sadiq is among them, having taken three bullets to his back. One is too close to his heart to be extracted. He has spent the past 38 years in a wheelchair. But, still, he continues to protest against the occupation.
After a petition was submitted by the residents of Al Aqaba in 2003, one of the three camps was closed: it was located exactly in the entrance of the village, making life impossible because of dangerous trainings and movement restrictions. But the two other bases remain and, Sadiq says, “The hills around Al Aqaba are a closed military zone. The aim of the Israeli Civil Administration is to declare the village a closed military zone, in order to force all the inhabitants to leave their own houses.
According to the Israeli law civilians are strictly forbidden from accessing closed military zones.
“The Israelis’ goal is obvious,” Sadiq says. “This land is very fertile and rich in water resources. They want to empty the area of its original Palestinian inhabitants and colonize it, confiscating the land and water.”
A “quiet transfer” is already happening, through demolitions, land confiscations, and the denial of basic services, such as running water.
“In Al Aqaba the water system doesn’t exist,” Sadiq says. “It has never been authorized by the [Israeli] Civil Administration, which has total control of the area: the village is forced to buy water tanks and to fill the wells. And the connection to the electricity network was allowed just three years ago. Before we were using a generator.”
“The oldest house in Al Aqaba dates back to 1930 [18 years before the state of Israel was established],” Sadiq continues. “Nevertheless, Israeli authorities accuse every single family of the village of building their homes illegally. So, they carry out demolitions. This year they destroyed Salam Street twice, in April and in September.”
95% of the buildings in the village are under demolition order. Among them the health center, the kindergarten and the mosque. A petition to the Israeli Supreme Court, submitted in 2004 by Al Aqaba residents in order to cancel the orders, was rejected on the 7 of April 2008. The lawyer for the village, Tusja-Cohen, asked a team of experts to come up with a new plan, to make the buildings “legal” under Israeli law and to obtain the required permits for the owners.
But the Court didn’t accept this petition and authorized the demolitions. The last ones date back on 15th of September: the Army destroyed two kilometers of the only road connecting the village to the Jordan Valley and demolished two houses along Salam Street. In addition, there are the land confiscations: “Thousands of dunams were confiscated by Israel in order to build the three military camps,” Sadiq explains. “During the trainings, the soldiers destroy olive trees and agricultural lands. It seems to be war [training]: once they simulated the fall of a plane.”
According to Sadiq, soldiers sometimes use houses and streets inside the village for military training, “Dozens of soldiers enter suddenly and exercise as though they are preparing for war in the middle of a city, between narrow roads. Over the years, this has caused Palestinian residents [to leave].”
House demolitions, land confiscations, lack of services, and accidental deaths due to military training have effectively depopulated Al Aqaba as many families have moved to Tubas and Nablus.
The Hassan family was only allowed to come back to their house in 2010. For five years, after the Israelis built the separation wall right through one of the walls of their home, they were forbidden to enter. They waged a long legal battle to show that the property was theirs. They won and today eight members of the family live in the three-storey house.
Israel’s separation wall running through the Hassan family home (photo: Gustav Winters)
But they still can’t access their own roof– Israeli forces constructed a surveillance tower on Hassan’s roof and visit it at least once a week.
An Israeli military post on top of the Hassan family home (photo Gustav Winters)
While the Hassan family offers an extreme example, the wall has affected, to some extent, all of the 4,000 Palestinians that live in the village of Nazlat ‘Isa, which is 15 kilometers northeast of Tulkarem.
The space between the barrier and the houses in Nazlat ‘Isa is very narrow. In some parts, only two people fit. The village’s main road ends, abruptly, at the eight-meter-high concrete wall. From 2002 to 2005, the Israelis used an electronic fence to divide the village from other parts of the West Bank. The fence was inside the Green Line. But when the Israeli authorities began building the wall, they retreated back to the Green Line, a rare case in the West Bank.
The separation barrier runs close to this house (photo: Gustav Winters)
The building of the wall disrupted commerce, cultural life and family ties. And it also trapped seven families with West Bank IDs on the Israeli side of the Green Line.
From 1949 when the Green Line was drawn as part of the armistice agreements signed by Israel and her neighbors, to 2002 when the fence was erected, Palestinians moved freely from Nazlat ‘Isa and neighboring Baqa al-Sharquia to the big city of Baqa- al Gharbiyye, which is located in Israeli territory. Although they had green West Bank IDs, they could move with their families to the other side. When the Israeli authorities made the decision to enclose the Palestinian Occupied Territories and the fence was built, seven families from Nazlat ‘Isa were living in Baqa al-Gharbiyye.
Today, they can’t apply for citizenship, like the rest of their neighbors, or even residency, like Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
In 1948, Nazlat ‘Issa lost 10,000 of its 12,400 dunams of land. They lost another 824 dunams for the construction of the separation wall. Prior to 1948, 97 percent of the villagers were farmers. Today, in the wake of the destruction of the local market and factories due to the construction of the separation barrier, 97 percent of those villagers are unemployed.
The neighboring village of Baqa al-Sharquia suffered the same fate. Around 2,000 dunams were confiscated for the building of the wall and 2,500 olive trees were uprooted and taken to the Israeli side for replanting. This larger village was even more connected to its Israeli sister city, Baqa al-Gharbiyye. Their only connection nowadays is through the Israeli controlled gates.
The separation wall separates not just Palestinians from Israelis but Palestinians from Palestinians (photo: Gustav Winters)
This area provides a clear example of how one of the main objectives of the wall is to separate Palestinians from Palestinians, disrupt their commercial centers and their family ties.
While its West Bank sister villages were enclosed by the wall, checkpoints, and gates, Baqa al-Gharbiyye, a completely Palestinian community, grew throughout the last six decades from a village to a city. Projections show that in less than ten years, the city will have 38,000 inhabitants, which will make it one of the major Palestinian cities in Israel.
Spanish High Court Hears Evidence From Journalist Keith Harmon Snow
On November 29th investigative journalist and genocide expert Keith Harmon Snow testified before Spain’s Highest Court (Audencia Nacional) to support the indictments against 40 Rwandan officials for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity during the western-backed invasions of Rwanda and Congo/Zaire by Rwandan president Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) and Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni’s Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF).
In 2005, the relatives of nine Spanish nationals killed in Rwanda and the Congo in 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2000, filed a lawsuit against the government of Rwanda resulting in the issuing of Interpol international arrest warrants for 40 Rwandan officials of Kagame’s régime.
On 6 February 2008, the Spanish Investigative Judge Andreu Merelles issued an indictment charging 40 current or former high-ranking Rwandan military officials with serious crimes including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and terrorism, perpetrated over a period of 12 years, from 1990 to 2002, against the civilian population, and primarily against members of the Hutu ethnic group.
While the investigations were initially based on complaints from families of nine Spaniards who were killed, harmed or disappeared during the period at issue, the indictment was subsequently expanded to include crimes committed against Rwandan and Congolese victims, based on the universal jurisdiction doctrine. The indictment rules out the prosecution of Paul Kagame, arguing that he may not be prosecuted as long as he holds the position of President of Rwanda.
According to Spanish lawyer Jordi Palou Loverdos:
Spain’s Audencia Nacional was only met by silence when it duly and formally asked the U.N. to hand over the evidence of these crimes perpetrated against people in 1996 and 1997 or the evidence of the pillaging of valuable mineral resources conducted in these same years or earlier. The international media which had access to the UN report have made public the fact that the UN High Commissioner responsible for the report keeps- separately from the latter- a confidential data bank containing evidence that implicates individual Rwandan and Ugandan military officials.
In spite of threats and intimidation from agents linked to Western governments and from the United Nations, the Spanish High Court authorities are continuing to hear evidence against the Ugandan and Rwandan proxy forces of the United States in Africa.
Keith Harmon Snow has been researching the real facts of the tragedy known to the world as the “Rwandan genocide” (put in quotes?) since 1994, and has, along with many other experts, evidence to prove that the United States, Britain and Israel were responsible for the training, financing and covert military and logistic support of Kagame and Museveni’s forces.
On 6 April 1994, the UPDF/RPA proxy forces assassinated the Rwandan and Burundian presidents (Juvenal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira), their military chiefs of staff, and the French pilots of the plane they were flying on, thus provoking and participating in the extermination of hundreds of thousands of Hutus and Tutsis in one of the most violent civil wars in modern history.
Snow also presented detailed evidence of the war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity committed by Kagame and Museveni’s proxy forces, after they invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1996, again backed by the Pentagon, Israel and NATO allies. The Congo/Zaire invasion was commanded by generals Paul Kagame and James Kabarebe, and they involved an officer attached to Kabarebe named Hyppolite Kanambe — alias Joseph Kabila, the strongman in Congo today.
The ongoing Rwandan occupation and plunder of eastern Congo has resulted in the deaths of some ten million people, making this the worst war since the Second World War. The Central African holocaust has been largely ignored by the global mass media corporations who are calling for “humanitarian intervention” in Syria, much as they did to justify invading Libya, by the same countries responsible for supporting mass carnage in Africa.
In spite of orders from Laurent Désire Kabila (Congo’s interim president of 1998-2001), to disengage from the Congo, the RPA and UPDF re-invaded the Congo in 1998, resulting in the Second Congolese War. Although the war is said to have ended in 2001, mass killing of the populations in the mineral rich Kivu provinces of Eastern Congo, under the leadership of these US-backed dictators, has continued to this day.
Contrary to its stated “peacekeeping” mission, the United Nations Observers Mission for the Congo (MONUC) and its follow on dependent, Monusco, has been deployed in the Congo since 2000 and has been involved in sexual violence and contraband activities. MONUC has provided cover for the Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundi forces, USAID, the Pentagon’s new Africa Command (AFRICOM), and scores of Western mining corporations who are plundering the Eastern Congo.
Snow gave detailed testimony to the Audencia Nacional of the American, British, Belgian, German, Israeli and Australian mining corporations who have profited from the Pentagon’s holocaust in the Congo. Banro Corporation, Barrick Gold and many companies run by the Blattner dynasty have profited astronomically from the pillaging of the Congolese people’s resources, as domestic warlords and Western elites enrich themselves while the local people starve.
Snow alleges that these corporations have direct links to the criminal networks run by Paul Kagame, who are plundering the Kivu provinces of the Eastern Congo and massacring the Hutu Rwandan refugees there.
Though the majority of victims have been from the populations of Rwandan Hutus, Rwandan Tutsis and Twa have also been targeted, both in Congo and Rwanda, and many Congolese ethnic groups have been targeted in the Congo. The Kagame regime is determined to eliminate all possible opposition to its rule and to occupy and annex eastern Congo to create a “Republic of the Volcanoes” controlled by Rwanda and populated with satellite US military bases.
Snow told the Spanish court that details collected by the UN Panel of Experts report of 2001 to 2010, detailing the illegal occupation, plunder and war crimes in the Congo, have been watered down by special interest groups linked to Western governments, thus shielding Western corporations and governments from scrutiny by the International Criminal Court and the Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda.
Trained in the notorious Fort Levenworth, Kansas (USA) and advised by former British prime minister Tony Blair, Paul Kagame is without question one of the most evil dictators in modern history. The scale and intensity of his atrocities dwarf those of Pinochet, Suharto and Somoza combined.
In spite of expertise gained on the ground throughout Central Africa spanning 20 years, expert testimony to the US House of Representatives in 2001, extensive work as genocide consultant to the United Nations and numerous meticulously documented reports, Keith Harmon Snow’s work continues to be ignored by the corporate media and many outlets who claim to be ‘progressive’ and ‘independent’ .
According to Snow:
U.S.-based groups fronted by the intelligence and defense establishment and pretending to be ‘grass roots non-government organizations’ — such as the ENOUGH project, Raise Hope for Congo, Resolve, STAND and Save Darfur — have co-opted the grass roots movement and are whitewashing the issues and controlling the media, academic and public spaces to prevent the true grass roots voices for Central Africa from being heard and to prevent the deeper issues from being understood.
In preparation for a documentary film to be released next year on the African holocaust, Keith Harmon Snow has just completed a series of interviews with distinguished scholars, investigative journalists and lawyers from France, Spain, Germany, Camaroun and Rwanda. The film, as yet untitled, is expected to be aired in film festivals throughout the world and will also be available online for mass viewing.
Rwanda and the Congo belong to the ninth circle of global capitalism’s Dantesque inferno. It is the circle of betrayal; betrayal of the high ideals of the United Nations to uphold the rule of law and work towards the goal of international peace and stability; betrayal of the trust ordinary citizens of the world have in media corporations to tell them what is really happening in the world, so that leaders and potentates can be held to account.
Uncovering the truth about the role of Western imperialism in the violence that has beset Central Africa since the fall of the USSR to the present day, is of vital importance, as the obscene and racist myth of an African genocide America “failed to prevent” constitutes the mendacious and insane basis for the Orwellian “responsibility to protect” doctrine.
Western governments and their pro-Kagame lobbies in the mainstream media are quick to smear as ‘genocide deniers’ those who challenge the lies and distortions of the official genocide narrative of the current Rwandan régime by exposing the inconvenient and politically incorrect facts. In the case of Rwanda and the Congo, it should now be abundantly clear who those genocide-deniers are.
Gearóid Ó Colmáin was born in Cork, Ireland, and is currently based in Paris. He is a former bilingual columnist with Metro Eireann. His interests include geopolitcs, globalisation, philosophy and the arts. He is a member of SISA, the Italian-based ecology and education syndicate.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov renewed his country’s rejection of using the language of ultimatums in dealing with Syria by the Arab League (AL) on Tuesday stressing that the only way to solve the Syrian crisis is through dialogue.
At a press conference with his Algerian counterpart, Murad Medelci, in Moscow, Lavrov pointed out that the armed groups in Homs province are bombarding military units, government buildings and hospitals in the city to create a human catastrophe and make a pretext for foreign interference. He stressed his country’s rejection of any sanctions against Syria, clarifying that sanctions would give opposite results, according to the SANA news agency.
In the same context, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, stressed that the Western countries are adopting incorrect stances regarding finding solution to the Syrian crisis as they are hindering internal dialogue in Syria.
During a UN Security Council session dedicated to discussing the situation in Syria, Churkin warned against the dangerous stances of the Western countries which seek to “change the regime” in Syria and hinder holding dialogue between Syria and the AL.
Russia’s stance came as the U.S. State Department singled Russia out for blocking a United Nations response.
“We are again calling on our partners on the Security Council to be willing to take action and speak out for the innocents in Syria who are suffering at the hands of the regime, including Russia,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at her afternoon briefing. “And frankly, we think it is past time for the U.N. Security Council to speak up.” Nuland said a chorus of countries, including the United States, is calling on Russia and other countries on the Security Council to respond. Russia, a long-time ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was one of four Security Council countries voting against a resolution condemning Syria.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov also underlined that his country will not pass any new resolution against Syria whether it will directly or indirectly refer to any possibility of using force or military intervention, saying “Russia doesn’t see any bases to refer the Syrian issue to the International Criminal Court.”
“Russia’s stance on the draft resolution prepared by the Western countries against Syria is well known… Russia considers this draft resolution as unbalanced and includes unilateral accusations against the Syrian authorities, it takes no consideration the destructive acts of the armed opposition,” Gatilov said in a statement.
He added that Russia sees the evaluation of the Higher Commission of the Human Rights submitted to the UN Security Council as expressing a personal viewpoint because “we have no confidence in the existence of evidence on the information presented, they were based on emotional evaluations.”