An ambassador is a … gentleman sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.
— Attributed to Sir Henry Wotton, 1568-1639
When Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (“We the people of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war …”) rose to speak at the UN to address Syria’s ongoing tragedy, on Sunday September 25th, US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, François Delattre, Permanent Representative for France and British Permanent Representative, Matthew Rycroft, metaphorically threw their toys out of the pram and walked out. Anything more infantile and further away from the UN’s founding aspirations would be hard to find.
They would have done well to hear Mr Churkin’s full address. It lays out home truths and the reality of international State sponsored terrorism – resulting in Syria’s living nightmare – in succinct detail. He began:
It is the sixth year that the Syrian people have been suffering a grave tragedy. In 2011, Washington and some other Western capitals decided to continue the reshaping of the geopolitical space of the Middle East and North Africa, which started with the US and UK criminal invasion in Iraq in 2003. Besides, both in Libya and Syria they continued to ‘use an axe’ without any disdain for the support of terrorist groups … consequences of countries’ break-ups and flows of millions of refugees were qualified as an unforeseen ‘irritant’.
Samantha Power, however, has never seemingly found a conflict she would not embrace (safely, from afar, of course.) The Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria, “liberation” by annihilation seemingly ever her preferred option. The UN welcomes some unlikely Representatives to uphold its founding aspirations.
“What Russia is sponsoring and doing in Aleppo is not counter terrorism, it is barbarism”, railed Ms Power. Clearly she has forgotten the US led, multi-country barbarisms above and further that Russia has been invited to work with Syria to attempt to resolve the country’s terrorist crisis. The US and their “allies” – in the air and on the ground – are illegals, in contravention of a swathe of international law.
She appears to also have forgotten the numerous substantiations of the US (and allies) funding and arming the head chopping, organ eating, child murdering and other illegal immigrants from over one hundred foreign countries, according to varying analysts. Another irony is America appointing itself the “world’s policeman” – as the world is seeing what its policemen are doing at home.
Also dropped through Ms Powell and her fellow UN absconders memory hole seems to be General Wesley Clark’s near immediate post 9/11 revelation from a Pentagon colleague that:
… we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” Moreover, not to be forgotten is that the plans for Syria’s destruction were plotted in detail from within the then US Embassy in Damascus.
Interesting is also the UK walkout Representative’s background, recalling that the UK is ever a willing killer-in-arms with the US. Matthew Rycroft has trailed around varying war zones or war enablers in a “diplomatic” capacity since graduation from Oxford University in 1989.
An early placement was at the NATO desk in the British government’s bailiwick, Whitehall. After various Foreign Office placements he joined the British Embassy in Washington in 1998, from where he was seconded to both the US State Department and US Congress. On returning to the UK he became, in February 2002, Private Secretary Foreign Affairs, to the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, according to his evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry on Iraq.
February 2002 was, of course, the time the planning in the Foreign Office was concentrating on Tony Blair’s now infamous meeting with George W. Bush in Crawford Texas in the coming April. Rycroft denied having any involvement in those plans; however, he had integral involvement in the infamous Downing Street memo of July 23rd, 2002.
The memo related to the plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein, discussed at a meeting held by Tony Blair at which Rycroft was one of the attendees. His memo began:
“SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL – UK EYES ONLY
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell
IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER’S MEETING, 23 JULY
Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.
This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.
John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest (Joint Intelligence Committee) assessment. Saddam’s regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action …
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action. (Emphasis added.)
In the memo’s “Conclusions” Rycroft’s first is:
(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action …
The rest is Nuremberg’s “supreme international crime …” and bloody, genocidal history. Ongoing.
Rycroft has now turned his attentions to Syria. On walk-out day, September 25th, in a speech to the UN which includes too many inaccurate and misleading statements (many might say mistruths) to address here, he includes:
… the death and destruction that the sectarian Assad regime has unleashed upon them. Nor will they forget that Russia aided and abetted this ruthless sectarian dictator in waging war against his own people.
Goodness, word for word out of the US-UK Saddam Hussein hand book – “waging a war against his own people”, “sectarian dictator.” As Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, Syria is secular and the government is fighting a war to rid the country of the terrorists who flooded in as a result of the fruition of the US plans formulated in 2006.
Rycroft also alleged the use by the government of chlorine bombs – he had clearly not read, or chosen to ignore the various reports, including by the UN, categorically disproving this.
Iraq had the US inspired “Iraq Liberation Act” of 1998 held over the nation’s head until destroyed by the US and UK in 2003. Syria has the “Syria Accountability and Liberation Act” of July 2009. Apart from imposing draconian sanctions of the sort that resulted in the deaths of half a million children between August 6th 1990 and May 12th 1996 in Iraq, the Act:
Sets forth diplomatic measures intended to isolate the government of Syria.
Authorizes the (US) President to provide assistance to support a democratic transition in Syria.
In another re-run of the Iraq lies, Rycroft adapts the “Saddam starves his own people” line – when, in fact, the US-UK driven embargo even denied baby formula – and accuses President Assad of “failing to stop starvation.”
Incidentally, in 2003, after the invasion of Iraq, Matthew Rycroft was awarded the CBE: “… an honour awarded to an individual by the Queen for a leading role at a regional level or a prominent … role at a national level in any activity. The definition of CBE is Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.” The cynic might speculate that his part in “Empire’s” Iraq slaughter might have been a contributory factor.
But he has not lost talent for plotting and economy with the truth, it would seem. But then, between experience in the Foreign Office, the State Department and Congress would be a peerless education. An example:
On 12 September, the eve of the ill-fated ceasefire:
President Dr. Bashar Al-Assad vowed to regain every inch of Syria from the terrorist forces.
The Syrian President made this promise during his visit to the rural Damascus town of Darayya on Monday.
In addition to his promise to recover every inch of the country, the Syrian President stated that his government will rebuild Darayya after the four year long battle left the town in ruins.
On September 15th, Matthew Rycroft translated this statement in a address to the UN as:
Earlier this week, Assad said it was his objective to regain the entire country by force …
He surely learned well from his part in Iraq plotting.
Meanwhile, on September 25th (clearly a very busy plotting day) the UK’s new Foreign Secretary (it is hard to think of anyone less suitable to be a diplomat) was in Turkey. He tweeted:
#Turkey is a vital partner to the UK. Pleased to visit for first time as Foreign Sec for talks with Govt, civil society & #Syrian Opposition
9:34 AM – 25 Sep 2016
Meeting “opposition” head choppers, eh? Another shocking international conspiracy against a small, proud nation, which threatens no one. The onslaught against Syria, the betrayal of a fellow Member of the United Nations will be added to the list of crimes of enormity laid at the feet of the “Special relationship” – the barbarism of the US-UK alliance.
Incidentally, diplomacy: “The art of dealing with people in a sensitive and tactful way.”
FBI Director James Comey went before the House Judiciary Committee to discuss the Hillary Clinton email investigation after new evidence emerged which suggested Hillary Clinton’s IT specialist, Paul Combetta (under the “Stonetear” moniker), sought advice on Reddit on how to cover her tracks. He addressed claims about the FBI’s treatment of Hillary Clinton and whether or not the they were biased in her favor. He was angered by such claims, yet continued to make up excuses for Hillary Clinton.
It might sound paranoid. It might sound anti-government. But as famous civil rights lawyer Harvey Silverglate says, it’s actually just practical advice: Don’t talk to the FBI without your lawyer present, ever. You may think you have nothing to hide. You may think your refusal to cooperate with agents’ demands will somehow hurt you. But there’s nothing you can do to better protect yourself from FBI manipulation than to refuse to say anything to FBI officials without your lawyer in the room.
The latest example of why comes in the form of a federal indictment in Atlanta, Georgia, of Ibragim Todashev‘s widow, a woman named Reniya Manukyan. She’s facing years in federal prison on a charge of lying to federal agents. Todashev, remember, was a former friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. An FBI agent killed Todashev in May 2013 in the Chechen immigrant’s Orlando, Florida apartment, in shady circumstances.
No one is accusing Ms. Manukyan of having had anything to do with the Boston marathon bombings, just as her late husband was never accused of complicity in the attacks. No one is accusing her of having anything to do with any violence. Nonetheless, she’s become the latest person connected to Todashev to face harsh government action; other people he knew in Florida, including his girlfriend, were deported in the wake of his killing.
It’s unclear why FBI and DOJ officials waited so long to go after Ms. Manukyan on the charge of lying to federal agents. But one thing is clear: She may have avoided this fate had she refused to talk to the FBI without her lawyer present. Be sure you protect yourself and don’t make the same mistake.
Watch the video below to learn more about how the FBI puts people in a vice—and how to avoid becoming a victim of this tactic.
Please note that by playing this clip YouTube and Google will place a long term cookie on your computer.
A commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has officially asked for forgiveness days after signing a peace treaty that has brought a new spirit of reconciliation to the nation.
“We ask for you to forgive us and that you give us the hope of a spiritual path, allowing us to move forward together with you,” FARC commander Ivan Marquez said Thursday in the town of Bojaya, the site of a deadly 2002 attack by the rebels.
FARC had already offered an apology for the Bojaya attack in 2014 in the Cuban capital, Havana, where peace talks had been underway for almost four years, but this time the commanders did so at the site of the attack itself.
“Once again, we offer an infinite apology, Bojaya,” Marquez said on Thursday.
On May 2, 2002, FARC guerrillas seized Bojaya in an attempt to take control of the Atrato River region from the paramilitary forces stationed there. The operation failed, and approximately 119 civilians were killed, 48 of them children, in the apparently indiscriminate firing of improvised mortars by the FARC rebels.
During a visit to a church that was destroyed in the Bojaya attack, Marquez asked the local community for reconciliation.
“Reconciled, we will move toward an era of fairness, for which humble people from every corner of Colombia have yearned for so much,” he said.
FARC’s highest commander Rodrigo Londono Echeverri, aka Timoleon Jimenez or Timochenko, asked the nation for forgiveness at the peace signing ceremony on Monday.
Timochenko and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos signed the peace deal in the Caribbean city of Cartagena, formally ending 52 years of a conflict.
However, the deal remains to be implemented until after it is approved in a referendum, which is to be held on Sunday.
Analysts believe that the majority of Colombians will easily vote in favor of the peace deal, which will see the rebel group laying down arms and the government facilitating their incorporation into the political scene.
The Marxist group, which took up weapons in 1964 to fight social inequalities, exerts notable influence across some poverty-stricken areas of the country.
The decades-long conflict with the central government has left as many as 260,000 people dead, more than six million others displaced, and 45,000 other still missing.
The FARC peace deal has prompted Colombia’s second-largest rebel group, the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN), to also express readiness to engage in their own peace talks with the central government, but Bogota has yet to begin formal peace talks with the group.
The Israeli state has launched a major campaign of arrests and political persecution against activists of the National Democratic Assembly or Balad, the political party of Palestinians in ’48 Palestine. The party is represented in the Knesset as part of the Joint List, where its representatives, including Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoabi and Basil Ghattas, have been repeatedly targeted for their statements recognizing their own Palestinian identity and their support for the Palestinian liberation struggle. Indeed, today, Israeli attorney general Avichai Mandelblit has approved the police to interrogate Zoabi and Zahalka on the ongoing arrests, regarding “campaign finance issues.”
In the past two weeks, dozens of activists and leaders in the party have been arrested in allegations that were initially trumpeted as related to “corruption,” but are in fact instead attempts to label the party as receiving “improper foreign funding.” Thus, rather than Balad/NDA leaders being accused of stealing money from the party or from the Palestinian people, they are being accused by the Israeli state of bringing money from international and Arab supporters to Palestine to support the Palestinian people. Exact allegations, however, have not been released and are “secret,” withheld from the public and the detainees, reported Al Jazeera. The party issued a statement in which it “unequivocally denies all allegations and calls for the immediate release of all activists.”
The party and other Palestinian activists in ’48 have warned of this as an ongoing attempt to criminalize Palestinian political activity among Palestinian citizens of Israel. Broad protests have taken place throughout Palestine ’48 and political forces throughout the Palestinian population, including Abnaa al-Balad, Hadash and the Higher Arab Follow-Up Committee have denounced the arrest campaign, calling for Palestinian unity against repression.
On 18 September, the homes of party leaders were raided by Israeli police and 20 members and leaders of the party were arrested. Dozens have been released, with some being ordered to house arrest, forbidden from leaving their homes and in some cases from internet usage. Party general secretary Awad Abdel Fattah was released from prison to house arrest Wednesday, 28 September, as were Kayed Attiyah Awni, Ezzedine Badran and Shadi Awad. Deputy General Secretary Yousef Tatour was also released after being detained one day before. Over 35 leaders and activists have been arrested in total in the past weeks, with the majority released. Murad Haddad, member of the municipal council of Shafa ‘Amr and the party’s central committee, saw his detention extended until Wednesday inn a Haifa magistrate’s court. Several lawyers have also been arrested and released, including Eyad Khalayleh, Haneen Ighbarieh, Mohammed Tarabeh and Alaa Mahajna.
Balad labeled the move to interrogate Zahalka and Zoabi as “an escalation in the rabid political persecution against the Assembly and a provocative attempt to smear the reputation of the party….[this] is retaliatory political action that cmes after police have failed to intimidate the members and cadres of the party over the last two weeks.”
The Abnaa al-Balad movement noted in its statement on the repression that “these despicable repressive campaigns have been a systematic practice against our struggling people throughout their history since the beginning of the occupation of Palestine in 1948. We have seen the prosecution of all of the movements and activist national political currents among our people since the Al-Ard movement.”
Indeed, political persecution of the political activity of Palestinians in ’48 is nothing new; for the first twenty years of Israeli occupation, Palestinians lived under martial law and were prohibited from forming political parties; the Al-Ard movement of Palestinian citizens of Israel was prohibited in 1964. The movement of Palestinians in ’48 produced a series of movements, including the protest movement against land confiscation that sparked national protests and general strikes in 1976; after the killing of six Palestinian protesters, 30 March became known as Land Day. Palestinians from ’48 have always been imprisoned alongside fellow Palestinians in Israeli jails; today, there are over 100 Palestinian political prisoners holding Israeli citizenship, including Lena Jarbouni, Raed Salah, Ameer Makhoul and Said Nafa.
In late 2015, the Northern Islamic Movement, a large Islamic political and social organization among Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship, led by Sheikh Raed Salah, was banned by the Israeli state following its extensive campaigns against repression and limitation of access to Al-Aqsa Mosque. Zahalka labeled the move at the time a “declaration of war” against the Palestinian population. Dozens of social organizations were raided and served with orders for their closure, including kindergartens, clinics, mosques and a sports league.
Salah is currently serving a 9-month prison term for “incitement” for delivering speeches against Israeli action at Al-Aqsa Mosque. “Incitement” is the same charge currently being used against Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour, also holding Israeli citizenship; Tatour has spent 11 months in prison and then house arrest and is threatened with up to eight years in prison for posting her poetry on YouTube. Tatour’s case has received international support from literary organizations and prominent writers and poets.
Nafa, a former member of the Knesset, is imprisoned for visiting Syria, an “enemy state” and meeting there with exiled Palestinians and Palestinian political parties; interrogation and arrest of Palestinians for visiting Lebanon, Syria or meeting Palestinian political parties labeled “prohibited organizations” are not uncommon.
Palestinian citizens of Israel are subject to over 80 discriminatory laws, including a number of laws specifically targeting Knesset members. These include new laws allowing the expulsion of members if 3/4 of the existing members agree; as well the suspension of members based on majority vote, carried out against Balad MKs earlier in the year, for meeting with the families of Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers.
Balad advocates for “a state for all its citizens” and participates in the Joint List, a coalition of mostly Palestinian parties in ’48 formed after a new threshhold law would see most of the Palestinian parties excluded from the Knesset. However, participating in the Knesset is itself highly controversial among Palestinians in ’48 Palestine, and numerous Palestinian citizens of Israel participate in a boycott of Knesset elections. Opponents of Knesset participation emphasize that the Knesset itself is an institution that is fundamentally racist and Zionist and based on the dispossession and expulsion of Palestinians. Organizations including the now-banned Islamic Movement in the North and Abnaa el-Balad emphasize that the participation of Palestinians in the parliament, where they are subject to racist laws and repression, is used to beautify the image of Israel internationally and claim that it is “democratic” for all of its citizens.
“De mortuis nil nisi bene” is commonly translated in English with “Speak no ill of the dead”. The headlines of German obituaries on Shimon Peres outbid themselves in adulation. President Obama, however, outbid even the Germans. He praised Peres without irony as “a champion of peace. […] As Americans, we are indebted to him”, he said. He even got metaphysical: “A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever.” The US president should have really known better, that even “Peace Angel” Peres was only interested in peace with the Palestinians on Israeli conditions, namely, their subjugation under an Israeli peace diktat. Obama’s hypocrisy was topped off by Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who had fought fiercely against the “peace policy” of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.
Two Germans, former Germany’s President Christian Wulff and Charlotte Knobloch, former President of the Central Council of Jewry in Germany, outbid even the general adulation of Peres. Christian Wulff wrote: “[Peres] outshone his time, with his empathy, his great heart, his philanthropy and his courage, his apparently unshakeable belief that Good is possible. Shimon Peres has shown what the world so desperately needs and what it simultaneously so sorely lacks.” Ms. Knobloch said: “He was a symbol of the Zionist dream”, undoubtedly believing that she was thereby praising the deceased. This “dream” had however turned out to be a nightmare for the Palestinians. Peres’ entire political life was, according to her, a “struggle for peace”. Was he really a “smart bearer of hope, a tireless reconciler”? It seems that such delusions characterize the public image of a politician, the reality of which he had created on the ground had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with such eulogies. I need not dwell here upon the assessments of the official political class, as they are drafted in the same vein.
Peres’ career is well known to everybody: He drew his nimbus as a confidant of David Ben-Gurion; he was the main initiator of the Israeli nuclear program, friend of German CSU leader Franz Josef Strauss; he spent two stints as Israel’s Prime Minister; he held almost every government post, crowning his long career as “President of the State of Israel”. He was not elected to this function by the population but by the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. In each election, Peres always came out second. He was nicknamed by the public the “eternal loser”. An important reason for that, is that Israelis deeply distrusted him.
Without much ado, it can be said that he has served the Zionist entity until the last breath. This is not to be equated with the cause of peace with the Palestinians. His image in the West has always been that of a “liberal” or a “good Israeli”. Less known is the fact that Peres was a Zionist hardliner who managed to garb his ideas in the rhetoric of the so-called “Zionist Left”. His vision was not different than that of Ariel Sharon or Netanyahu, but he knew how to present it in a less confrontational manner, designed for a Western audience. On this point, the contrived visions of Peres resemble political obituaries of political leaders in the US and Germany.
In Peres’ various political positions, he always supported the colonization of the occupied territories. After his “partner in peace”, Premier Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated in November 1995 by Yigal Amir, a Jewish right-wing extremist, Peres followed Rabin in the Premiership. Peres had never served in the Israeli military, hence, in the May’s election of 1996, opposing Netanyahu, he tried to make a showing of a “strong” leader by, inter alia, authorizing Operation “Grapes of Wrath” against the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon. In that operation Israel’s army bombed the UN base at Qana. In this attack, 106 Lebanese were killed and an equal number were injured. As usual, the Peres government “regretted” the massacre. Despite playing the strongman, Peres lost the elections for Netanyahu.
Ten years earlier, in 1985, Peres as the then serving Prime Minister of Israel, was responsible for an act of aggression against Tunisia that killed 75 Tunisians and Palestinians. According to international law, Israel’s aggression violated “the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State, or (was) in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations”, wrote Elias Davidsson, a native of Palestine, as far back as 1993. As there existed no international enforcement mechanism at the time, which would allow “the arrest, trial and punishment of criminals such as Mr. Peres”, Davidsson urged “authorities of civilized nations to refuse any official dealings with persons for which there is prima facie evidence of implication in such crimes”, including Shimon Peres.
Shimon Peres received together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize for the so-called Oslo peace process, which brought only havoc and desperation upon the Palestinian people. It’s not unusual in our world that former terrorists such as Menachem Begin or war criminals such as Henry Kissinger will be bestowed with this distinction. Immediately after taking office, Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, i.e. before he reneged on his promise to close Guantánamo and started extra-judicial executions around the world.
In obituaries, only good and beautiful things are written about the deceased. May mine only serve to complete the picture of a man who authentically personified Zionism.
Iran warns the West to keep its end of the bargain in last year’s nuclear agreement, saying any failure could prompt Tehran to radically reverse the steps it has taken under the deal.
“Should the West fail to live up to its promises, our reversion would not be one to the previous state, but to a state which would be much different from how we used to be prior to the JCPOA,” said head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi.
The JCPOA stands for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear accord signed between Iran and the six major world powers, namely Russia, China, France, Britain, the US and Germany, in July 2015.
The deal, which took effect in January, calls for an end to decades of economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.
However, months after the lifting of anti-Iran bans on paper, major foreign banks are wary of doing business with Iran, fearing they would violate restrictions on US banks and face penalties.
Tehran has criticized Washington and its allies for refusing to translate their words into action and assure the banks that they would not be punished for resuming ties with Iran.
“On the surface, the US says that it is acting commensurate with the JCPOA but behind the scenes, it scares banks by telling them that the slightest mistake would result in this or that consequence,” Salehi said in a Thursday televised interview.
Likewise, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani criticized obstructive US measures in the implementation of JCPOA.
“If we are to witness obstruction and disruption on the part of the US even in small matters such as the purchase of passenger planes, then we will take more serious decisions to restore our rights,” he said.
Shamkhani further said experience proves that trusting the US in any matter, from the lifting of sanctions to regional developments, is in fact “chasing a mirage.”
The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has condemned the killing of at least 15 civilian men and the injuring of at least 13 others, including at least one boy, in an airstrike targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) conducted yesterday in the country’s eastern district of Achin.
In a press statement, the UN Assistance Mission (UNAMA) reiterated the need for all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law.
“UNAMA calls on the Government and international military forces to launch a prompt, independent, impartial, transparent, and effective investigation into this incident,” the mission said.
In the early morning of 28 September, an international military forces unmanned aerial vehicle conducted an airstrike, reportedly targeting members of ISIL/Da’esh, which struck a civilian home, killing the 15 civilians, according to UNAMA.
The civilians had gathered in a village to celebrate the return of a tribal elder from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and were reportedly sleeping in a guesthouse of the elder when the airstrike occurred. Civilian victims of the strike included students and a teacher, as well as members of families considered to be pro-Government. Government sources report that ISIL/Da’esh personnel also died in the attack, UNAMA said.
The mission highlighted that in a press release issued yesterday, United States Force-Afghanistan acknowledged conducting the airstrike, but refrained from elaborating further, indicating that they “are still reviewing all materials related to the strike.”
UNAMA also expressed condolences to the families of those killed in the incident and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.
Afghanistan has been in protracted conflict for almost 35 years, which, in addition to being prone to recurrent natural disasters, has seriously hampered poverty reduction and development, strained the fabric of society and depleted the country’s coping mechanisms.
A senior Turkish official says Ankara’s military incursion into Syria could last for years if necessary.
Turkish troops entered the Syrian territory in a sudden incursion which resulted in the occupation of Jarablus after Daesh left the city without resistance earlier this month.
Turkey has indicated that its eyes were now set on the Syrian city of Raqqah which is controlled by Daesh.
The senior Turkish official said on Friday a planned US offensive to retake Raqqah using Kurdish militia fighters would trigger an ethnic conflict there.
He said driving out Daesh from the Syrian city of al-Bab is also among the targets of Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey was planning to send troops deeper into Syrian territory to establish what it calls a safe zone.
Damascus has condemned the incursion, denouncing it as a “flagrant breach” of its sovereignty.
Syria’s envoy to the UN Bashar Ja’afari said last week Turkey, along with the US and Israel, have moved from a proxy war to a “personal” one on the Arab state.
Turkey and Israel will mutually name ambassadors within 10 days as part of the normalization of ties, the Turkish official said.
The investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over two years ago always had the flavour of pre-emption, caked with assumptions of premature adjudication. Neither side, be it the assembled Joint Investigation Team, nor those on the Russian side, was going to budge on the issue of the material. In the world of the post-factoid, what matters is the sale of what we believe to be facts.
In this marketplace of saleable facts, the issue becomes how fabulous the narrative can be. Find your audience, and the relevant pitch, and half your work is done. Discoveries are made at short notice, be it data captured by a smart phone, intercepts of conversations, or radar data of the raw sort revealed with impeccable timing.
What is lost in this agitated discussion are the bloody realities of conflict, the hideous nature of those last moments when 298 civilians lost their lives over a war zone. It took a decision, made on the spur, to end the lives of those people. What we have gotten, instead of a broader reflection of the conflict that caused those deaths, not to mention thousands of others, is a deeper quagmire, a furiously ideological joust between detractors and participants.
The cruel and broadly sobering picture of those moments in July 2014 did not seem to have much truck in the JIT display. In the presentation, the JIT makes it clear that it was presenting “the first results of the criminal investigation into the downing of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014.”
This was meant to be a show by the avengers of objectivity, coming to the rescue with clarity and positivist reassurance. “The big difference with a journalistic commentary or an internet-based investigation report,” went the presentation, “is that in our case conclusions based on probability will not suffice.” There was, in fact “legal and convincing evidence.” Helped along, of course, with the bells and smells of modern animation and social media.
That convincing evidence supposedly found the culprit: “that flight MH17 was shot down… by a missile of the 9M38 series, launched by a BUK-TELAR, from farmland in the vicinity of Pervomaiskiy (or: Pervomaiskyi).”
At that time, the area was under pro-Russian rebel control, while the BUK-TELAR had been “brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation and subsequently, after having shot down flight MH-17, was taken back to the Russian Federation.”
For such pomp and certainty, much of the detail remained as before, with similar questions left tantalisingly dangling in the aftermath. For instance, an acknowledgment is made about the role played by the generous supply line from Bellingcat, which purports to use readily available open source material in the name of citizen journalism.
The lingering sense of a conspiratorial design to murder, a point that has been unequivocally embraced by such figures as former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, was never dispersed. A hundred persons had been identified “who in one way or the other can be linked to the crash of flight MH17 or the transport of the BUK.” Their identity, the JIT noted smugly, had been established.
As Editor-in-Chief at Fort Russ explained to Russia Today, the origins behind the makeup of the JIT lay in a NATO ploy, creating an inquiry team that was always compromised for its raison d’être. What mattered was how Russia was involved, not the question of who actually pulled the trigger. This very point was amply illustrated by the dominant role played by Ukraine on the JIT, when its absence might have been contemplated along with that of Russia.
Bathed in the aura of criminality, the note of the report never loses the whodunit sense, the forensic pursuit of twenty weapons systems, the perusal of five billion internet pages, the inspection of dozens of containers “with thousands of wreckage parts” all examined by an army of some 100 to 200 investigators.
Absent in the JIT presentation was one glaring elephant waiting to stomp in the room. Where, for instance, did Ukraine figure in this? This is not to even take the line, as has been put forth by the Russian Defence Ministry, that there had been no signs of a missile being fired at MH17 from rebel controlled territory. (This was deemed “raw data” newly unearthed by Almaz-Antey.)
The broad issue of Ukrainian culpability in permitting MH17 to be in the vicinity of a conflict area when there had been prior knowledge of targeted flights, was not a point the JIT considered. Ukrainian criminal law was mentioned in so far as it might be useful in prosecuting any personnel who had manned the BUK, but not the violations of an assortment of aviation conventions and protocols. What we saw instead was the relentless cold march of minutiae.
The sense of creeping under a shroud of international deception, releasing the missile with callous calculation, then moving back into Russian territory, suggested a trick of terrorist import, a mission of the damned. By the JIT conveying such a tone, the sense that a war of tragic miscalculation and foolishness, along with the bloody mistakes that came with it, and continue to do so, was lost.
Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wolfgang Jung, a retired German teacher from Kaiserslautern, Germany, has done everything to try to get the government to close Ramstein Airbase.
In April, he filed a lawsuit in a federal court, saying that the deadly drone strikes using the base were a violation of international law.
His case has been dismissed, but he hasn’t lost hope.
Interviewed by Sputnik Deutschland, the spritely 88-year-old explained that his case, filed in April at the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, had been dismissed, because his claim supposedly ‘did not concern him personally’.
“I filed a lawsuit against the use of the Ramstein Airbase, which violates international law and the German constitution,” the retired teacher said. He added that over the course of four years, Ramstein has become central to the US drone war in Afghanistan.
“My case was dismissed. It was not even considered. I was simply denied the right to bring my suit,” Jung noted, explaining that he was told that he “personally was not affected by the military drones,” and therefore “cannot sue.”
Frustrated by the result, the retiree-turned-activist suggested that “according to the logic of the court, German citizens do not have the right to file a lawsuit against actions that are illegal under international law originating from US military bases on German territory.”
An international inquiry has found that MH17 was taken down from within rebel-held territories by a BUK system transported from Russia. However, some uncertainty over it lingers – investigators withheld key evidence citing security concerns.
During the presentation of its findings, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) stated that it would not disclose all the information and evidence sources it used in its inquiry.
“We cannot and do not want to tell you everything because that can jeopardize the investigation and play into the hands of the perpetrators,” the body said.
According to the JIT the BUK was brought into Ukraine from Russia by a low-loader and then taken to the alleged launch site near Snezhnoye. The cornerstones of this conclusion are open-source materials and “witness statements” gathered by investigators. However no people who provided the statements were named, with the JIT citing security reasons.
The inquiry also mentioned eyewitnesses who allegedly saw the smoke trail following the launch of the BUK near Snezhnoye. The Dutch-led team has not released any video accounts from these people to back up their claims.
Anonymous phone call interceptions
Apart from using eyewitnesses, the international team analyzed “intercepted telephone conversations”. The JIT said it examined “approximately 150,000” intercepted telephone calls, but during its presentation, the international team released the transcripts and audio recordings of only a handful of them. One of the phone calls in particular includes an alleged discussion about the need for a missile system and a confirmation that rebel forces had procured one.
Although the JIT provided the date for the calls it is not clear as to who exactly was involved in the conversation and who handed over the respective data. While the JIT claimed it has independently evaluated their authenticity, Russia, for instance was not included in the process.
Computer simulation vs. video evidence
While stressing that the JIT was able to track “much of the route” of the BUK missile system from Russia, investigators provided only few videos and images of the system, allegedly in Ukraine.
The main evidence on the path of the low-loader with the Buk was hence presented not with real images, but merely a computer reconstruction. It showed the alleged route of the missile system through communities in eastern Ukraine right to the alleged launch site.
The investigators also cited the importance of anonymity because of potential security issues for the people who had provided them with materials.
Radar data and satellite images
Pinpointing the exact location of the BUK missile launch was one of the key tasks for the Dutch-led team. In its report investigators cited data received from the US which purported to show that MH17 was downed by a BUK missile “launched from a site about six kilometers south of the village of Snizhne [Snezhnoye].” The images have not been attached to the report.
On September 26 Russia challenged JIT claims releasing raw data from a radar located in Russia, which registered no objects approaching MH17 from the territories held by rebels. Moscow also called on Ukraine to release its radar data, which the Russian Defense Ministry continues to point out, has still not been made public.
Missile type and flight trajectory
On Wednesday the international team reiterated that it could not specify the exact type of missile used to down the Malaysian Boeing, saying it was a 9M38-series rocket.
Yet Russian company Almaz-Antey, said it could clearly identify the missile being of type 9M38, which is already decommissioned in Russi, after carrying out experiments last year. That was not reflected in the latest JIT report.
Almaz-Antey further questioned the JIT report since it had handed over “top-secret” data on BUK missile characteristics to the investigators earlier. Yet the international team opted to study a “similar” US missile to model the impact, which according to Almaz-Antey massively differs from the Russian BUK including a different potential flight path.
Int’l investigators allowed Ukraine to fabricate MH17 evidence – Russia
MH17 int’l probe’s only sources are Ukrainian intel & internet – Russian MoD