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Nobel Peace Prize-Winner Obama Dropped 23,144 Bombs in 2015

Sputnik – January 11, 2016

10_5The United States in the past year dropped more than 20,000 bombs on Muslim-majority countries Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, according to a study by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

In an article published January 7, Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at CFR, states that since January 1, 2015, the United States has dropped an estimated 23,144 bombs in those six countries: 22,110 in Iraq and Syria; 947 in Afghanistan; 58 in Yemen; 18 in Somalia; and 11 in Pakistan.

“This estimate is based on the fact that the United States has conducted 77 percent of all airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, while there were 28,714 US-led coalition munitions dropped in 2015. This overall estimate is probably slightly low, because it also assumes one bomb dropped in each drone strike in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, which is not always the case,” Zenko writes.

Despite dropping tens of thousands of bombs over the past 17 months, Washington’s strategy has failed to defeat Daesh and other Islamic militant groups, Zenko observed.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban control more territory than at any point since the 2001 US invasion, according to a recent analysis in Foreign Policy magazine.

Zenko notes that the primary focus of Washington’s counter-terrorism strategy is to kill extremists, and that far less attention is paid to prevent a moderate individual from becoming radicalized.

As a result, “the size of [Daesh] has remained wholly unchanged,” Zenko writes.

In 2014, the Central Intelligence Agency estimated the size of Daesh to be between 20,000-31,000 members. On Wednesday, Colonel Steve Warren, a spokesman for the US-led coalition, estimated the group at 30,000 members, despite Pentagon claims that 25,000 Daesh members have been killed in US air strikes.

At the same time, the Pentagon claims that only six civilians have “likely” been killed in the course of the bombing campaign.

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is the Chinese Economy Really in Trouble?

Here Are the Lessons of History the Press Ignores

By Eamonn Fingleton • Unz Review • January 11, 2016

“You cannot hope to bribe or twist – thank God! – the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.”

So wrote the witty early twentieth century British man of letters Humbert Wolfe. His assessment of American journalists isn’t recorded but, where pivotal issues are concerned, they have probably proved even more naïve lately than their British counterparts.

American journalistic naïveté has rarely been more embarrassingly on display than in recent coverage of the Chinese economy.

Here is probably the most successful export economy in world history, yet American journalists have somehow been persuaded that it is in such terrible shape that it needs a devaluation. CNBC, for instance, reported the other day that “most experts” believe the yuan is overvalued by fully 10 percent. This despite the fact that the Chinese currency has already dropped more than 8 percent against the U.S. dollar in the last two years.

True China’s export performance has been lackluster lately – exports were down 3.7 percent in yuan in November, for instance, and the drop was considerably greater in dollars. What is rarely mentioned, however, is that China’s exports are one of the most volatile series in global economics. Short-term setbacks of as much as 20 percent or more are common and bespeak remarkably little about China’s underlying economic health. What matters is the long-term trend, a rate of growth in dollar-denominated export revenues that has averaged more than 17 percent a year in the last fifteen years. That is a truly sensational number and its accuracy is attested by other nations’ imports.

It hardly needs to be said that, pace what the press’s “expert” sources say, the case for devaluation does not stand up to even cursory examination. After all, the point of exchange rates is to ensure that trade is conducted on fair and mutually advantageous terms. Yet for a generation now the yuan has been so undervalued that it has wreaked havoc on what little has remained of America’s once superlative industrial base.

The result as of 2014 was that America’s bilateral trade deficit with China totalled $348 billion. This accounted for the vast bulk of the entire U.S. current account deficit with the world as a whole, which totalled $389 billion (the current account is the widest and most meaningful measure of a nation’s trade). Meanwhile China enjoyed a current account surplus of $220 billion.

Even in the face of figures like this, the press has often put a distinctly negative spin on Chinese economic news. Indeed many journalists have gone so far as to entertain suggestions – emanating ultimately from Sinology’s lunatic fringe – that the Chinese economic miracle is just smoke and mirrors and that in reality China is teetering on the brink of economic or political disaster, or both.

The political consequences are hard to exaggerate. Reports of economic trouble in China not only pander to wishful thinking among ordinary Americans but provide U.S. policymakers with an excuse to procrastinate on long-overdue measures to crack down on China’s trade cheating. Meanwhile the ground is cut from under economic hawks like Donald Trump who want to get tough with China.

In the circumstances the Beijing authorities could hardly be better served and it seems clear that for many years they have been quietly promoting a “bad news” propaganda agenda. (Japan does so as well, but that is a story for another day.)

The root of the press’s problem is a poor choice of sources. Instead of proactively seeking out trustworthy, independent sources, journalists too often sit around passively heeding whomsoever happens to be within earshot. Far too often this means listening to sources artfully placed in prominent positions by the China lobby.

What is clear is that many of the top academic Sinologists seem to be congenitally pro-Beijing. Others are merely ambitious, and know that to land a big job in a future presidential administration, they have to avoid saying things that might discomfit the China lobby. That lobby is largely funded by major U.S. corporations that do much of their manufacturing in China. One of the lobby’s most obvious objectives has been to keep the yuan low, with all that has implied for the future of America’s manufacturing base. As the lobby controls large tranches of China-studies money, it has had little difficulty ensuring that America’s most frequently quoted Sinologists are on message.

As for other key sources, China-watching securities analysts and bank economists are generally even less reliable than university-based Sinologists. They are clearly constrained by a need to please their most profitable and demanding customers, among whom various financial arms of the Chinese system have long taken pride of place. (China is now a vast exporter of capital, which is, of course, great news for those Wall Street firms who find favor in Beijing.)

Of course, some frequently quoted sources undoubtedly do believe what they are saying. In particular there is a minority of far-right China-watchers who love to preach textbook American laissez-faire to an apparently benighted Beijing. This is the “Tea Party” wing of American Sinology. Its members seem to be particularly lacking in the listening skills that are essential to understanding a place like China (basically you have to listen to the unsaid – something that Tea Party types probably consider an oxymoron). Of course, precisely because such Sinologists are so often wrong, they are viewed in Beijing as useful idiots who work wonders in keeping Americans confused and disunited.

While we can rarely say for sure whether any particular China watcher is in Beijing’s pocket, most undoubtedly are. Though they would be horrified to be so identified, their agenda is pretty obvious in the way they censor themselves. Instead of speaking out on China’s trade barriers, intellectual property theft, and the undervalued yuan, they typically tiptoe away from frank discussions of such matters.

Let’s take a closer look at some of Sinology’s more problematic figures. It takes no more than a cursory internet search to turn up countless China watchers who have vainly predicted the Middle Kingdom’s eclipse, if not collapse, over the years. In a moment we’ll look at Gordon Chang, who ranks as the king of the “collapsing China” crowd, but first let’s consider a few pretenders to the throne.

One often quoted source is the Beijing-based professor and analyst Michael Pettis. Though the tenor of Pettis’s comments varies, he has often come across as a super-bear.

Here, for instance, is how he described the Chinese economy to the Associated Press in 2007: “Right now, we’re in a sweet spot. Everything is as good as it can get…. You can make a very plausible case that we have all the conditions for a serious crisis when there’s an adverse shock. There’s a lot more debt out there than we think.”

Any U.S. policymaker who was persuaded by this would have been blindsided by subsequent events. China’s exports, for instance, multiplied more than three-fold in dollar terms in the next seven years.

Among China super-bears, few are more outspoken than Arthur Waldron, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. As far back as 2002, he claimed that Chinese economic growth was make-believe. Writing in the Washington Post, he backed a madcap theory that instead of growing at about 6 percent, as officially stated, the Chinese economy had actually been contracting for the previous four years. He concluded that China’s industrial policy was “a recipe not for growth but for economic collapse.”

Another Sinologist who has played an outsize role in confusing American opinion is Susan Shirk. As the Ho Miu Lam Professor of China and Pacific Relations at the University of California, San Diego, Shirk remains what she has long been: a notable “friend of China.” An early indication of her style came in 1994 when she published How China Opened Its Door: The Political Success of the PRC’s Foreign Trade and Investment Reform. She went on as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Clinton administration to play a key role in negotiations that led to China receiving Most Favored Nation trade status.

Her claim to fame as a China super-bear is based largely on her 2007 book, China: Fragile Superpower: How China’s Internal Politics Could Derail Its Peaceful Rise. The book postulated a supposedly serious risk that the Chinese regime would be overthrown in a popular revolution. The consequences, she suggested, could be devastating not only for China but for the West. She urged the West not only to accord Chinese leaders exaggerated respect but to adopt an explicit policy of keeping them in power. Among other measures that presumably meant holding back on complaints about China’s trade policies.

Virtually every aspect of her analysis can be debunked but a full rebuttal would require more space than I have here. The first thing to note is that she claimed her analysis was based on conversations with numerous top Chinese leaders. That may well be so – but she evidently didn’t ask herself what was in it for them. After all they have made a fine art of keeping things secret from their own people. Why would they pour their hearts out to a mere gweilo (and a gormless one, by the sound of it)?

For now let’s simply note that for millenia, Chinese leaders have generally shown themselves uncommonly adept at nipping in the bud any signs of incipient revolution. Supreme leader Deng Xiaoping perpetuated the tradition by so brutally breaking up the Tiananmen protests in 1989. Today’s leaders moreover seem more secure than their predecessors in that they are equipped with modern methods of electronic surveillance that can provide a much earlier warning of incipient trouble than in the past.

Now let’s consider David Shambaugh, a political scientist at George Washington University. Long noted for suggestions that the People’s Liberation Army is a paper tiger, he has become outspokenly pessimistic about China’s political system in recent years. One recent essay, published in the National Interest in 2014, was headed “The Illusion of Chinese Power.”

Then in March 2015 he persuaded the editors of the Wall Street Journal to publish a commentary headed “The Coming Chinese Crackup.”

He wrote: “The endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun, I believe, and it has progressed further than many think.” Referring to Communist Party rule, he added: “Its demise is likely to be protracted, messy and violent. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Mr. Xi will be deposed in a power struggle or coup d’état.”

His analysis was so melodramatically worded that it attracted considerable criticism, not least a point-by-point rebuttal from commentator Stephen Harner (who, unlike Shambaugh, can claim to have spent much of his career in China).

Shambaugh’s central point was a surmise that Chinese president Xi Jinping’s efforts to curb corruption had dangerously ruffled the feathers of power rivals.

As a measure of Xi’s allegedly weakening grip, Shambaugh mentioned that on a recent visit to a Chinese campus bookstore, he noticed that a pile of pamphlets by Xi didn’t seem to be moving. This, of course, is broadly as fatuous as an illiterate Chinese visitor judging Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects from the height of a pile of pamphlets at Columbia University.

Shambaugh also noted that an increasing number of Chinese students have been studying abroad lately. This, he suggested, stemmed mainly from a morbid fear of political instability at home. He did not seem to wonder whether less sensational explanations might suffice. After all, on the latest figures, Koreans are proportionately nearly seven times more likely than the Chinese to study in the United States – and the Taiwanese are more than four times more likely. Are we to believe that the danger of “crackup” is even greater in South Korea and Taiwan than in China? The truth is that East Asian students study abroad for a variety of rather mundane reasons, most notably the chance to improve their English. The trend has been powerfully stimulated not only by East Asia’s increasing wealth but by the same advances in air travel and communications that have been generally promoting globalization.

Perhaps Shambaugh’s most important point was that many super-rich Chinese families have been buying homes overseas. But, as Stephen Harner pointed out, this is hardly news. The Chinese have been doing  so for generations. The only difference these days is that they have so much more money to spend. This, of course, attracts notice and even gets written about in the press.

Probably the single most widely publicized member of the “collapsing China” club is Gordon Chang, a Chinese-American lawyer. Since he published The Coming Collapse of China in 2001, he hasn’t had a good word to say about China’s prospects. Yet between 2001 and 2014, China boosted its exports from $267 billion to $2,331 billion – a more than eight-fold rise and a compound annual growth rate of an almost unbelievable 18.1 percent. This signified a rate of sustained productivity growth that few, if any, other nations have ever matched.

Contacted recently, Chang professed to be still a convinced China super-bear. But if China managed to escape economic Armageddon in the wake of his book’s publication fourteen years ago, what’s different today? In its latest reformulation, Chang’s argument is that China is facing devastating new competition from India. Just as a rising China wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, a rising India supposedly poses a similar threat to the Chinese economy.

To a non-economist, especially one who is not familiar with Asia, this might not seem entirely implausible. In reality Chang’s argument is based on one of the most elementary fallacies in economics, the idea that success is a zero-sum game. His implicit assumption is that for some nations to win, others necessarily have to lose. This is Malthusianism and it overlooks the fact that in normal modern conditions economic growth is an expanding universe. Think, for instance, of the rise of Scandinavia. Though Norway, Sweden and Denmark now rank near or at the top of the world income league, this has hardly on balance posed a problem for a nation like Germany.

What Chang seems to be implying is that India will be accorded carte blanche to use the same super-aggressive methods on the Chinese industrial base that China has used on the American industrial base. He fails to note, however, that Washington has been asleep at the switch, with the result that China has been allowed to get away with the economic equivalent of murder. In particular China has extorted a cornucopia of advanced production technologies from America. U.S. corporations have been told that to sell their products in China they must manufacture there and bring their best technologies. To say the least, such diktats ride roughshod over China’s obligations under international trade agreements. India is unlikely to be permitted to use similar extortion techniques against China.

In truth about the only thing India and China have in common is an Asian address. In economic and political fundamentals, they are chalk and cheese. In trade, for instance, India remains a negligible force, despite many years of bullish econobabble in the West. At last count it was not only being out-exported nine to one by China but China seemed to be lengthening its lead. (Measured since 2006, India’s exports have hardly doubled, whereas China’s have more than quadrupled.)

Crucially the Indian savings rate runs little more than half of China’s. Worse, the Indian authorities seem to lack the authoritarian tools necessary to boost it. (In In the Jaws of the Dragon, a book I published in 2008, I showed how China uses authoritarian controls to suppress consumption, thereby automatically and powerfully boosting the savings rate.)

Another key distinction is that whereas China has run huge current account surpluses for decades, the Indian balance of payments remains stubbornly in the red.

A second strand in Chang’s argument is that capital flight threatens to destroy the Chinese economy. Though this again may impress a non-economist, there is again a lot less here than meets the eye. For a start, China is necessarily a huge capital exporter as a result of its current account surpluses (as a matter of simple arithmetic, every dollar of surplus represents a dollar of capital that will willy-nilly be exported).

To be sure Chinese leaders have often talked as if they are worried about capital flight. The point of such talk, however, would appear to be merely to deflect attention from the People’s Bank of China’s market interventions to keep the yuan undervalued.

What is clear is that if the Beijing authorities can control the internet and the press, a fortiori they can control capital flight (which requires mainly just a firm grip on a mere handful of major banks, most of which are, in China’s case, state-owned). What we know for sure is that historically other nations with a far more liberal tradition – the United Kingdom in the mid-twentieth century, for instance – have had little trouble maintaining effective capital controls. Moreover the investment case for the British getting their money out in those days was far greater than for the Chinese today. After all Britain’s economic performance was persistently anemic, whereas China’s current growth rate, at around 6 percent, remains one of the world’s highest. In the unlikely event that Chinese capital flight really becomes a problem, the authorities have a host of remedies available, not least an Orwellian system of electronic snooping far more intrusive than anything known in the West today, let alone in the United Kingdom of the 1960s.

So what are we left with? It is past time the American press remembered its traditional commitment to balance – and recovered its commonsense. Hearteningly, not all members of the press are incapable of learning from experience.

I will leave the last word to Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times. He cut to the core of the matter in a well-balanced commentary in 2012.

He wrote:

It is clearly true that China has enormous political and economic challenges ahead. Yet future instability is highly unlikely to derail the rise of China. Whatever the wishful thinking of some in the west, we are not suddenly going to wake up and discover that the Chinese miracle was, in fact, a mirage.

“My own scepticism about China is tempered by the knowledge that analysts in the west have been predicting the end of the Chinese boom almost since it began. In the mid-1990s, as the Asia editor of The Economist, I was perpetually running stories about the inherent instability of China – whether it was dire predictions about the fragility of the banking system, or reports of savage infighting at the top of the Communist party. In 2003, I purchased a much-acclaimed book, Gordon Chang’s, The Coming Collapse of China – which predicted that the Chinese miracle had five years to run, at most. So now, when I read that China’s banks are near collapse, that the countryside is in a ferment of unrest, that the cities are on the brink of environmental disaster and that the middle-classes are in revolt, I am tempted to yawn and turn the page. I really have heard it all before.

Eamonn Fingleton reported on East Asian economics and finance from a base in Tokyo for 27 years. He met China’s supreme leader Deng Xiaoping in 1986 and predicted the Japanese stock market and real estate crashes in a major article in Euromoney in September 1987. He is the author of Unsustainable: How Economic Dogma Is Destroying American Prosperity (New York: Nation Books, 2003).

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , | Leave a comment

Corbyn backs anti-nukes rally amid fresh Shadow Cabinet resignations

RT | January 11, 2016

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has backed a mass Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) rally opposing the renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear arsenal amid a flurry of resignations and threats from right-wing shadow ministers.

Corbyn told the BBC on Monday that Britain could play a part in achieving a nuclear-free world.

“Let’s get the discussion and debate out there,” he said.

“I want [Labour] members to have a big say in it. Whether that comes as a vote of individual members, or a vote at conference, that will be decided. I have not made up my mind on that.

“My whole election program was based on the need for ordinary people to be able to participate much more in politics, so that leaders don’t go away and write policy, so that executive groups don’t go off and decide what the policy is, ordinary people do,” he said.

His comments indicate he may push for a ballot of the entire Labour membership to decide on the party’s nuclear weapons policy.

A vote to rid Britain of nukes would end 25 years of pro-nuclear Labour policy, a prospect which has rattled many on the party’s right-wing.

Senior MPs from the Blairite quarters of the party have previously said Trident is a “fundamental red line” they will not compromise on.

Corbyn’s comments come as two more Shadow Cabinet figures tendered their resignations. Shadow Attorney General Catherine McKinnell was the most senior to quit, citing concerns over the party’s “direction and internal conflict.”

She claimed Labour is taking an “increasingly negative path.”

She was the fourth to resign since last week’s Shadow Cabinet reshuffle after two junior shadow ministers, Stephan Doughty and Jonathon Reynolds, threw in the towel over the sacking of Tony Blair loyalist Pat McFadden as Europe minister. Shadow Armed Forces Minister Kevan Jones also returned to the backbenches.

The fifth Shadow Cabinet figure to go, also on Monday, was Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff, who was serving as the parliamentary private secretary (PPS) for John Trickett MP.

On Sunday, Alison McGovern MP acted prematurely, attempting to resign from a role overseeing party policy on child poverty that hadn’t yet been established. She did so while condemning Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who had branded Progress, a Blairite faction within Labour, a “hard right” group.

Others who have hinted at resignations, particularly in relation to nuclear weapons policy, include the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith and Shadow Justice Secretary Lord Falconer.

Falconer, who once shared a flat with former PM Tony Blair, told the BBC on Sunday: “I am clear that I support Trident remaining.”

The anti-Trident demonstration will be held in Trafalgar Square on February 27.

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | , | 1 Comment

States of hope and states of concern

By Bjorn Hilt | International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War | January 11, 2016

At the UN General assembly last fall there was an essential vote on the future of mankind. Resolution number A/RES/70/33 calling for the international society to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations had been submitted by Austria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Ireland, Kenya, Lichtenstein, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela. For that, these countries deserve our deep respect and gratitude. The resolution reminds us that all the peoples of  the world have a vital interest in the success of nuclear disarmament negotiations, that all states have the right to participate in disarmament negotiations, and, at the same time, declares support for the UN Secretary – General’s five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament.

The resolution reiterates the universal objective that remains the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons, and emphasizes the importance of addressing issues related to nuclear weapons in a comprehensive, inclusive, interactive and constructive manner, for the advancement of multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. The resolution calls on the UN to establish an Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) of willing and responsible states to bring the negotiations on nuclear disarmament forward in this spirit.

When voted upon at the UNGA a month ago, on December 7, 2015, there was a huge majority of states (75 %) that supported the resolution, namely 138 of the 184 member states that were present. Most of them are from the global south, with majorities in Latin-America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific. After having shown such courage and wisdom, they all deserve to be named among the states of hope, states that want to sustain mankind on earth.

Only 12 states voted against the resolution. Guess who they are: China, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and the United States. What is wrong with them? Well, they are either nuclear-armed states or among the new NATO member states. They are the states of concern in today’s world. It is hypocritical that states that claim to be the protectors of freedom, democracy, and humanity constitute a small minority that refuse to enter into multilateral, inclusive, interactive and constructive negotiations to free the world from nuclear weapons. Among the three other nuclear-armed states, India and Pakistan had the civility to abstain, while the DPRK was the only one to vote “yes.”

Despite the reactionary, dangerous, and irresponsible position of the 12 states of concern and the tepid attitude of the abstainers, the OEWG was established by an overwhelming majority of the UNGA. The OEWG will convene in Geneva for 15 working days during the first half of 2016. The OEWG has no mandate to negotiate treaties to free the world of the inhuman nuclear weapons, but has clearly been asked to discuss and show how it can be achieved. Surely, the nations of hope that voted in favor of the OEWG will take part in the work. We can hope that at least some of the states of concern and some of the abstainers come to their senses and take part in this essential work for the future of mankind.

Participation in the OEWG is open for everyone and blockable by none. No matter what the states of concern do or don’t do, there is good reason to trust that the vast majority of nations of hope together with civil society from all over in the fall will present an outcome to the UNGA that will turn our common dream of a world free of nuclear weapons into a reality—perhaps sooner that we dare to believe.

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Health of Palestinian journalist on hunger strike in Israeli jail ‘deteriorating’

Press TV – January 11, 2016

-389493586A Palestinian official says the health condition of a Palestinian journalist on hunger strike in an Israeli prison is worsening.

The Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs, Issa Qaraqe, said on Monday that Mohammed al-Qeq, 33, is in “critical condition” on the 48th day of his hunger strike. The journalist was arrested in November 2015, when Israeli forces blew up the front door of his house and took him in for interrogation.

Following his arrest, and for several days, he was not allowed to contact either his wife or his attorney.

He has been protesting his detention without trial or charge with the hunger strike.

Sources close to al-Qeq said he was interrogated for “journalistic incitement,” and when he refused to cooperate, he was put in administrative detention for a period of six months.

According to the sources, Israeli forces tortured al-Qeq during his interrogation, when he was subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation, exposure to cold, and other forms of abuse.

Administrative detention is a sort of imprisonment without trial or charge that allows Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for up to six months. The detention order can be renewed for indefinite periods of time.

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Birzeit University condemns Israeli ‘military attack’ on campus

Ma’an – January 11, 2016

362009CBETHLEHEM – Birzeit University on Monday condemned an Israeli army raid into its campus in Ramallah overnight, during which it said Israeli forces confiscated and damaged university equipment.

“Birzeit University condemns this attack and the direct violation of the sanctity of the university campus,” the university said in a statement. “This is a belligerent military attack on the university and our right to education and all the principles involved in the freedom of education.”

The university said that Israeli soldiers raided the campus in more than 15 military vehicles shortly before 3 a.m., breaching the campus’ western gate and storming the university’s student council and faculty of science.

“The military confiscated equipment and computers used in the activities of the students council and destroyed and damaged furniture leaving a great deal of havoc behind,” the university said.

“This is a blatant attack on our student council and the sanctity of democratic values. This violation of the campus is a part of a blatant and systematic attack on the right of education and freedom of expression.”

Birzeit University condemned a range of other “outrageous acts” by Israel, including the detention of some 80 students, including more than 25 taken into Israeli custody since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory in October.

“Stealing our students’ lives and working to destroy the sanctity of our university campus and our right to education is an atrocious and obvious attempt to destroy the will of the Palestinian people,” the university said.

The university added that the “constant” attacks against it would “strengthen the university’s commitment to its noble cause — education.”

The Israeli army confirmed that the raid took place. An army spokesperson said that Israeli forces had “seized material, including propaganda belonging to Hamas.”

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | 1 Comment

US behind Yemen war continuation: Ansarullah

Press TV – January 11, 2016

The Houthi Ansarullah movement in Yemen says the United States is the real force behind the continuation of Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen, as Riyadh has no discretion of its own over the matter.

Spokesman for the Ansarullah Movement, Mohammed Abdulsalam, said on Sunday that it is Washington that prevents Riyadh from stopping its military aggression against Yemen.

He said the ambassador to the US of the former Yemeni government – Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak – and a US envoy were behind the failure of recent talks in Switzerland that were aimed at ending the conflict in Yemen.

On December 15, an Ansarullah delegation and Hadi’s representatives began UN-brokered peace talks in Switzerland with the aim of reaching a solution to the country’s conflict.

A truce came into force in Yemen as the six-day talks opened but it was repeatedly violated by the Saudi side and Hadi loyalists.

Abdulsalam further said world nations believe that peace is possible in Yemen only if Saudi Arabia halts its aggression on the country. The kingdom began the war on Yemen in late March 2015 in a bid to undermine the Ansarullah movement and bring Hadi back to power.

More than 7,500 people have been killed and over 14,000 others injured so far. The Saudi war has also taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure.

The United Nations (UN)’s special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has said peace talks are due to restart this month in a bid to end the conflict. He suggested Geneva as a location for the talks.

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Britain’s sale of arms to Saudi Arabia violates international law – lawyers

RT – January 11, 2016

The British government has been accused of violating international law by enabling the export of British-made arms to Saudi Arabia, which may have been used to kill civilians.

In the face of mounting evidence that Saudi forces are breaching international law in Yemen, law firm Leigh Day has challenged the government’s export of missiles and other arms to the Gulf state.

A letter issued by the firm to the government on Sunday highlights global organizations that have branded Saudi airstrikes in Yemen illegal. Among these are the European Parliament (EP) and an array of prominent human rights groups that have been monitoring Saudi Arabia’s attacks on Yemen.

Leigh Day’s 19-page letter, which was sent to the government on behalf of Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), condemns the targeting of civilians and non-combatants in Yemen, as well as the targeting of facilities vital for sustaining basic humanitarian needs. It also criticizes the disproportionate number of civilian casualties in Yemen and an overall failure to ensure unnecessary harm to civilians is avoided.

The letter says Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes have destroyed culturally significant property in Yemen, and condemns a Saudi naval blockade, which is halting the flow of essential food and medicine into the crisis-ridden state.

Despite the gravity of these allegations, the British government has refused to suspend military licenses governing arms’ exports to the Gulf state. It has also failed to call for an inquiry into whether Saudi Arabia has violated international law.

Leigh Day called on the government to confirm whether or not it accepts there is concrete evidence that Saudi Arabia’s conduct in Yemen has breached international law. It also urged the government to verify if Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) Sajid Javid will suspend Britain’s sale of arms to Saudi Arabia until a full review of their legality is carried out.

Leigh Day also urged Javid not to authorize further export licenses for Saudi Arabia until the inquiry is completed.

The law firm asked for a full response to its letter within two weeks. Failure to do this would spark legal proceedings against the government, forcing it to explain in the high court what steps it has undertaken to ensure British arms are not being used in violation of international law.

A BIS spokesperson confirmed the department’s receipt of the letter, but told the Guardian it would not comment on the matter because of “ongoing legal action.”

Leigh Day human rights lawyer Rosa Curling said the government has a legal duty to ensure arms and technological equipment exported from Britain are used in accordance with international law.

“Given the widespread and credible evidence that the Saudi authorities are breaching their international obligations in Yemen, we can see no credible basis upon which the UK government can lawfully continue to export arms to them,” she said.

“We hope our client’s letter will cause the government to reconsider its position and suspend all licenses with immediate effect pending a proper investigation into the issue.”

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) warns that British weapons are central to the military campaign that has “killed thousands of people, destroyed vital infrastructure and inflamed tensions in the region.”

“The UK has been complicit in the destruction by continuing to support airstrikes and provide arms, despite strong and increasing evidence that war crimes are being committed,” he said.

“These arms sales should never have been approved in the first place. The Saudi regime has an appalling human rights record and always has done.”

Leigh Day’s legal maneuver highlights Britain’s lucrative arms trade with Saudi Arabia. Almost £6 billion worth of British arms have been licensed to the Gulf state since Prime Minister David Cameron took office in 2010.

There was pressure to suspend the UK’s military exports to Saudi Arabia in July 2015, but the government flatly refused. Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood told parliament at the time the government had seen no credible evidence indicating the Saudi-led coalition had acted illegally.

By contrast, Amnesty International warned of the coalition’s disgraceful disregard for civilian lives. The UN also expressed similar concern.

January 11, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Saudi Arabia’s policies adopted under Israel’s influence: Iran official

Press TV – January 11, 2016

The policies adopted by Riyadh are under the influence of Israel, which seeks to see tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran, a senior Iranian military official says, amid strained relations between the two Muslim countries.

“Al Saud policies are influenced by the Zionist regime (Israel); and this regime is more inclined than the United States toward dragging the region to insecurity, unrest and chaos,” Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said on Monday.

He said that Tel Aviv’s impact on Saudi policies should be examined, adding that Riyadh’s actions have led to the massacre of the people in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, describing the killings as the “Zionists’ policy.”

The regime in Riyadh began its military aggression against Yemen in late March 2015. The campaign was meant to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to Yemen’s fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. More than 7,500 people have been killed and over 14,000 injured since the beginning of the Saudi strikes.

Al Saudi is also widely believed to be one of the main sponsors of Takfiri terrorist groups operating in Syria and Iraq.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian general expressed hope that Muslims in regional countries would be “alert,” since “Israel is seeking to create tension” between Iran and Saudi Arabia and benefits from insecurity in the region.

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been strained in recent days following the Saudi execution of top opposition cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, which was announced on January 2.

Nimr’s execution was widely censured by Muslims and human rights activists around the globe as well as different governments.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic relations with Iran on January 3 following demonstrations held in front of the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the northeastern city of Mashhad by angry protesters censuring the killing of Nimr. Some people mounted the walls of the consulate in Mashhad while incendiary devices were hurled at the embassy in Tehran. Almost 60 people were detained over the transgression.

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Well-Armed, Well-Funded: Iraqi Leader Reveals Daesh’s Deep Pockets

Sputnik – 11.01.2016

Sheikh Akram Al-Kaabi, the leader of Hezbollah al-Nujaba, a major Iraqi Shiite resistance movement fighting Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) in the region, has revealed that the jihadist group receives lavish amounts of money from Saudi Arabia and Qatar and modern weaponry from 120 countries around the world, according to the Iranian news agency FARS.

“Saudi Arabia and Qatar are extensively supporting the Takfiri (Daesh and radical Islamist) terrorists financially but surely victory belongs to the resistance groups,” the agency quoted Sheikh Akram al-Kaabi as saying at a meeting with Iranian Shiite cleric Ayatollah Alavi Gorgani in the Iranian city of Qom (also known as Ghom) on Saturday night.

“In the Syria war, 120 countries throughout the world are supplying the terrorists with state-of-the-art equipment and weapons,” added the Iraqi leader.

He voiced concern about the dire humanitarian situation in the besieged towns of Kafria and Foua’a regions in Idlib province, and said sending aid to these two towns is difficult due to the presence of terrorist groups.

Kaabi said that the Takfiri terrorists are still attacking the two Shiite-populated towns and despite the resistance forces’ operations to break the siege of the two towns, they are still under the militants’ control.

Similar concerns have been earlier voiced by Leader of the Lebanese Orthodox Party Masarik Roderick Khoury, who named Turkey as the main sponsor of terrorist groups in Syria.

“Turkey is the first and main power which funds and supplies weapons to terrorist groups. We believe the fight against terrorism should begin with pressuring Turkey. Now Turkey is the main sponsor of terrorism in the region,” Khoury said at a press conference in Moscow in December.

“The name of the real leader of the terrorists is Tayyip Erdogan [Turkish President]. The others like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi [Daesh/ISIL leader] and al-Qaeda are just his servants. Al-Nusra Front also carries out orders from Turkey,” he then pointed out.

The Lebanese politician said there was real exidence to the allegations: after the city of Kassab, near Latakia, was liberated from terrorists Turkish ambulance vehicles, clothes and weapons were found there.

Khoury also added that when the terrorists take Syrian or Lebanese hostages they only can be released after negotiations with Turkey.

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Over 160 civilians, including unborn child, killed in Turkish crackdown on Kurds – report

RT | January 11, 2016

In five months of battling the Kurdish insurgency in southeastern Turkey, Ankara has killed over 160 civilians, according to a rights group report. Among them was an unborn child, whose mother was shot.

In August, Ankara launched a ground operation to crack down on Kurdish fighters linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The violence ended a two-year truce with the Kurdish militants, who have been fighting a guerrilla war for independence for decades. An estimated 10,000 Turkish troops armed with heavy weapons and armored vehicles, including tanks, were deployed.

Since August 16, Turkish troops have imposed at least 58 curfews in Kurdish regions, disrupting the lives of some 1.4 million people living in the affected provinces, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) said. Some lasted 10 hours or less, but others went on for days and weeks, and some are still ongoing. The curfews affected 19 districts in the provinces of Batman, Diyarbakır, Elazıg, Hakkari, Mardin, Mus and Sırnak.

While the curfews have been in place, at least 162 civilians have been killed. The death toll includes 29 women, 32 children, and 24 elderly people. One of the victims in the city of Cizre in Sırnak Province was an unborn child, who was killed by a gunshot to his mother’s womb, the group said. The mother, Guler Yanalak, was seven month’s pregnant at the time and reportedly survived the injury.

The HRFT said at least 22 people were killed in their homes, some of them from heavy weapons used by the fighting sides. Four people were reported to have been killed in areas where no curfews had been declared. The violence against civilians appears to have escalated since December 11, the group said, with 79 civilian deaths reported since then.

The PKK, founded in 1978, has been fighting the Turkish state for Kurdish self-determination since 1984. Kurds make up between 10 percent and 25 percent of Turkey’s population. In late December, a congress of Kurdish non-governmental organizations called for Turkey’s southeastern regions to be granted autonomy via constitutional reforms.

The escalation of violence in Turkey came two months after the Kurdish militia in Syria, known as the YPG, as well as the Turkish pro-Kurdish party, the HDP, accused Ankara of aiding Islamic State in their offensive on Kurdish territories in Syria. At the time, the terrorists were laying siege to the Kurdish border town of Kobani.

Ankara has been stepping up its military operations on the border with Syria and Iraq since December. The area is a stronghold of the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group by Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to continue the operation until the area is cleansed of Kurdish militants.

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment