UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf speaks in Beirut, Lebanon, on 17 March 2017. [Muhammed Ali Akman/Anadolu Agency]
The head of the United Nation’s West Asia commission resigned today after what she described as pressure from the secretary-general to withdraw a report accusing Israel of imposing an “apartheid regime” on Palestinians.
The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which comprises 18 Arab states, published the report on Wednesday and said it was the first time a UN body had clearly made the charge.
UN Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf announced her resignation at a news conference in Beirut.
UN chief Antonio Guterres accepted the resignation, a UN spokesman said.
“This is not about content, this is about process,” said Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
“The secretary-general cannot accept that an under-secretary-general or any other senior UN official that reports to him would authorize the publication under the UN name, under the UN logo, without consulting the competent departments and even himself,” he told reporters.
An Argentine federal court on Wednesday sentenced former military dictator Reynaldo Bignone to life imprisonment for his role in kidnapping, torturing and murdering anti-government protesters during the 1970s and 80s.
Bignone, along with six other former military leaders, was convicted for “crimes against humanity.” He was also charged for human rights violations against conscripts of Argentina’s Military College that occurred between 1976 and 1977.
Dubbed “Argentina’s last dictator,” Bignone ruled as president from 1982 to 1983, representing the country’s right-wing military dictatorship that arose during the Dirty War.
The Dirty War was Argentina’s offshoot of Operation Condor, a Cold War-era campaign of violence across Latin America. Through the campaign, which resulted in tens of thousands of activist deaths, the U.S. teamed up with right-wing military dictatorships to extinguish leftist movements.
With help from death squads, Argentina’s military dictatorship ruthlessly murdered thousands of left-wing students, journalists, labor leaders and armed militants. Bignone, who played a leading role in organizing the Dirty War, oversaw the mass disappearance of socialist activists throughout his tenure.
“This ruling, about the coordination of military dictatorships in the Americas to commit atrocities, sets a powerful precedent to ensure that these grave human rights violations do not ever take place again in the region,” Human Rights Watch Americas director told Reuters last year, when Bignone was first found guilty.
Last month, Argentina’s former army chief Cesar Milani was arrested on charges related to the kidnapping and torture of three people during the Dirty War. Milani, a retired general who headed Argentina’s military from 2012 to 2015, was arrested in the northern province of La Rioja.
His arrest was part of Federal Judge Daniel Herrera’s investigation into the 1977 kidnapping and torture of Pedro Olivera and his son Ramon, as well as the 1976 abduction of then 17-year-old Verónica Matta.
“We are happy because we believe, somehow, that we are on the path to really having justice done,” Ramon Olivera, one of the accusers, told Todo Noticias television. “It is an auspicious thing that Milani was detained.”
Both Bignone and Milani were close allies of the U.S. during their time in office.
Activists gathered in Leuven’s crowded Oude Markt in the Belgian university city on Thursday, 16 March, to demand an end to participation by KU Leuven (the Catholic University of Leuven) and Belgian police and prosecutors in an EU-funded collaboration with Israeli police. Titled LAW-TRAIN, the project aims to “develop interrogation techniques.” A coalition of groups in Belgium have come together to oppose participation in LAW-TRAIN and end such collaborations with Israeli institutions through the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research fund.
Organized by Leuven-based groups, including Comac Leuven, Intal and the Leuven Palestine Action Group, participants from a number of organizations, including Palestina Solidariteit and Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, joined in the awareness-raising street theater-style protest calling on KU Leuven’s rector, Rik Torfs, to pull out of the project.
Students representing ‘detainees’ were tied to chairs in front of a university building in the square as ‘Israeli soldiers’ paced menacingly behind them. Other participants held signs and placards calling on KU Leuven to get out of the LAW-TRAIN project and support Palestinian human rights, while speakers addressed students and others in the busy square in Dutch and English about the LAW-TRAIN program and Israeli torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners. Activists distributed flyers and information and gathered signatures on the petition demanding Belgian institutions stop participating in LAW-TRAIN.
Activists across Belgium have emphasized the involvement of the Israeli police in the torture, repression and interrogation of Palestinians from Jerusalem and Palestine ’48, as well as their involvement in home demolitions and destruction of Bedouin Palestinian communities in the Naqab. The Israeli Ministry of Public Security, presided over by far-right minister Gilad Erdan, who also holds the state’s anti-BDS portfolio seeking to suppress the international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions, is also a partner in the project, along with Bar-Ilan University.
“We are protesting the collaboration between KU Leuven and, among others, the Israeli police and Bar-Ilan University. KU Leuven now has ties with the Israeli police and the Israeli security forces, who have been condemned by organizations such as Amnesty International on numerous occasions for their human rights violations and torture practices. We believe it is not OK for a university such as KU Leuven to continue this collaboration. It is condoning and accepting these human rights violations so long as this continues. We want to call on our Rector, who’s been ignoring this whole matter, to end this collaboration,” said Casper Mullie, a student of philosophy at KU Leuven participating in the protest.
“As students, we cannot accept that our universities and institutions where we pay fees every year, to participate in projects that violate Palestinian human rights. In this case, the human rights violations are particularly egregious,” said Ibrahim, a student organizer with Rise Up who traveled from Brussels to participate in the protest in Leuven.
Hundreds of Belgian academics and cultural workers have signed an open letter organized by BACBI,
the Belgian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, calling on the Belgian government and universities to break with the project. In addition, a delegation of high-profile Belgian lawyers and human rights experts traveled to Palestine to study the use of torture by Israeli police and security forces. Israeli Apartheid Week events organized by students at campuses across Belgium had a strong focus on Palestinian prisoners and the campaign to stop LAW-TRAIN.
Samidoun is a member of the coalition against LAW-TRAIN, along with Intal, Comac, Palestina Solidariteit, BACBI, Medicine for the Third World, Vrede, CNAPD, Broderlijk Delen, 11.11.11, Solidarite Socialiste, Een Andere Joodse Stem (Another Jewish Voice), EcoloJ, CNCD 11.11.11, Plate-forme Charleroi-Palestine, Association Belgo-Palestinienne, Leuven Palestine Action Group, Pax Christi Vlaanderen and the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP).
TAKE ACTION: Sign the petition against LAW-TRAIN at http://stop-law-train.be
Major LAW-TRAIN resources include:
- Belgian Coalition against LAW TRAIN
- BACBI archive of LAW TRAIN resources
- BACBI dossier, “The LAW-TRAIN Project: Why a Partnership with the Israeli Police is Indefensible”
- Stop the Wall Campaign, LAW-TRAIN: European License for Israeli Torture
- Stop the Wall Campaign, ECCP, Belgian Coalition Against LAW-TRAIN, “The LAW TRAIN Project: Concerns go Unaddressed“
Blockaders cover the Front Gate at the Luftwaffe’s Buchel Air Base in Germany, which deploys and trains to use up to 20 U.S. B61 hydrogen bombs on Germany Tornado jet fighter
On March 26, nuclear disarmament activists in Germany will launch a 20-week-long series of nonviolent protests at the Luftwaffe’s Büchel Air Base, Germany, demanding the withdrawal of 20 U.S. nuclear weapons still deployed there. The actions will continue through August 9, the anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan in 1945.
For the first time in the 20-year-long campaign to rid Büchel of the U.S. bombs, a delegation of U.S. peace activists will take part. During the campaign’s “international week” July 12 to 18, disarmament workers from Wisconsin, California, Washington, DC, Virginia, Minnesota, New Mexico and Maryland will join the coalition of 50 German peace and justice groups converging on the base. Activists from The Netherlands, France and Belgium also plan to join the international gathering.
The U.S. citizens are particularly shocked that the U.S. government is pursuing production of a totally new H-bomb intended to replace the 20 so-called “B61” gravity bombs now at Büchel, and the 160 others that are deployed in a total of five NATO countries.
Under a NATO scheme called “nuclear sharing,” Germany, Italy, Belgium, Turkey, and The Netherlands still deploy the U.S. B61s, and these governments all claim the deployment does not violate the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Articles I and II of the treaty prohibit nuclear weapons from being transferred to, or accepted from, other countries.
“The world wants nuclear disarmament,” said US delegate Bonnie Urfer, a long-time peace activist and former staffer with the nuclear watchdog group Nukewatch, in Wisconsin. “To waste billions of dollars replacing the B61s when they should be eliminated is criminal — like sentencing innocent people to death — considering how many millions need immediate famine relief, emergency shelter, and safe drinking water,” Urfer said.
Although the B61’s planned replacement is actually a completely new bomb — the B61-12 — the Pentagon calls the program “modernization” — in order to skirt the NPT’s prohibitions. However, it’s being touted as the first ever “smart” nuclear bomb, made to be guided by satellites, making it completely unprecedented. New nuclear weapons are unlawful under the NPT, and even President Barak Obama’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review required that “upgrades” to the Pentagon’s current H-bombs must not have “new capabilities.” Overall cost of the new bomb, which is not yet in production, is estimated to be up to $12 billion.
Historic German Resolution to Evict US H-bombs
The March 26 start date of “Twenty Weeks for Twenty Bombs” is doubly significant for Germans and others eager to see the bombs retired. First, on March 26, 2010, massive public support pushed Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, to vote overwhelmingly — across all parties — to have the government remove the U.S. weapons from German territory.
Second, beginning March 27 in New York, the United Nations General Assembly will launch formal negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The UNGA will convene two sessions — March 27 to 31, and June 15 to July 7 — to produce a legally binding “convention” banning any possession or use of the bomb, in accordance with Article 6 of the NPT. (Similar treaty bans already forbid poison and gas weapons, land mines, cluster bombs, and biological weapons.) Individual governments can later ratify or reject the treaty. Several nuclear-armed states including the US government worked unsuccessfully to derail the negotiations; and Germany’s current government under Angela Merkel has said it will boycott the negotiations in spite of broad public support for nuclear disarmament.
“We want Germany to be nuclear weapons free,” said Marion Küpker, a disarmament campaigner and organizer with DFG-VK, an affiliate of War Resisters International and Germany’s oldest peace organization, this year celebrating its 125th anniversary. “The government must abide by the 2010 resolution, throw out the B61s, and not replace them with new ones,” Küpker said.
A huge majority in Germany supports both the UN treaty ban and the removal of US nuclear weapons. A staggering 93 percent want nuclear weapons banned, according to a poll commissioned by the German chapter of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War published in March last year. Some 85 percent agreed that the US weapons should be withdrawn from the country, and 88 percent said they oppose US plans to replace current bombs with the new B61-12.
U.S. and NATO officials claim that “deterrence” makes the B61 important in Europe. But as Xanthe Hall reports for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, “Nuclear deterrence is the archetypal security dilemma. You have to keep threatening to use nuclear weapons to make it work. And the more you threaten, the more likely it is that they will be used.”
For more information and to sign a “Declaration of Solidarity.”
Additional information about the B61 and NATO’s “nuclear sharing” at CounterPunch:
“Wild Turkey with H-Bombs: Failed Coup Brings Calls for Denuclearization,” July 28, 2016.
“Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: Made in the USA,” May 27, 2015.
“US Defies Conference on Nuclear Weapons Effects & Abolition,” Dec. 15, 2014.
John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.
The leader of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), Igor Plotnitsky, said Friday he was in favor of holding a referendum in Donbass on joining Russia.
“We do not just assume, we are sure that such a referendum will certainly take place. Of course, we will initiate it, but everything should be done at the proper time,” Plotnitsky told Sputnik.
Earlier Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there were no “written scenarios” in Russia regarding the possibility to make the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and LPR part of Russia.
Plotnisky also told reporters Friday that the DPR and LPR considered introduction by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of Donbass blockade as actual recognition of the self-proclaimed republics’ independence.
The EU, NATO, and the western alliance have utterly failed the people of eastern Europe. The unrequited love of former Soviet bloc nations is slowly turning to scorn. The Euromaidan and ensuing civil war have laid bare an ideological and cultural divide ages old. With Brussels and NATO reeling from recent events, the fear mongering used to leverage aligned nations is losing its effectiveness.
A meeting in between Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Moldova’s former PM and current head of the Socialist party, Zinaida Greceanîi in Moscow reveals the general eastern shift to Russia. While the world watches and waits on the next fantastical Donald Trump moment, the Russian administration continues to mend fences and to create new bonds of friendship. To the south and west of Moldova a score of EU member states discuss a “Brexit-like” abandonment of a globalist system many see as doomed to failure. And Moldova’s plight since the fall of the Soviet Union is a picture window into the biggest international experiment in history. To quote Ms. Greceanîi on Moldova’s recent elections and the lean toward Russia:
“We won because the majority of Moldovans are for strategic partnership with Russia. In 2014, our current pro-European coalition in the parliament signed an agreement on association with the European Union, and, frankly, we got almost nothing in return from the European Union, while sustaining a major economic setback by losing the Russian market and our strategic partner. This is what happens when politicians who try to destroy age-old ties and traditions between our peoples come to power.”
The Moldovan politician expressed what is a growing sentiment toward the European Union. The poorest country of the former Soviet republics, Moldova is perhaps the most neglected country in Europe. And recent calls from the south for Moldova and Romania to reunite foretell of the wider neglect of nations in the region. Hungary to the west has begun a Russia lean as well, and Bulgaria to the south of Romania was never fully a western satrap. Upheaval in Bucharest over real or perceived corruption by leadership, Greece’s ongoing plight, the old sounds of Serbia and even countries like Slovenia – send a clear signal. We’ve seen the evidence of a collapse of confidence in the western alliance for some time. Tomáš Kostelecký, Director of the Institute of Sociology at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague had this to say about a series, “25 Years after the fall of the Berlin Wall”:
“Overall I think the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland are examples of countries that came out well, whereas for others it was not so successful.”
A poll conducted in Czech Republic in 2014 showed that more than half the people there considered life before and after Soviet rule the same. In other words, most people in even the richest former Soviet bloc countries see no difference in the two systems. Many people see the spread of so-called democracy as a total lie. While free movement allowing Romanians (for instance) to travel to Germany for better paying jobs is a plus, Romanians choosing to stay home have been devastated by corruption, austerity, and the loss of potential to globalization.
In Romania a poll conducted back in 2014 showed half of Romanians held a positive view of their condemned leader Nicolae Ceausescu and believe that life was better under him. The same poll showed that of the 1,460 respondents, 54 percent claimed that they had better living standards during communism, while 16 percent said that they were worse. I make this point because of the strategic and ideological importance of Romania. Of all the countries in the EU, Romania was by far the most pro-democracy – the people there betting all their futures on the American promise. I know this because my wife is from Romania and her father was one of the unsung heroes of the revolution there in 1989. Romania has a history of picking the wrong side, and EU membership did about as much for Romanians as their brothers and sisters in separated Moldova.
In Hungary the recent visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin sent western mainstream media on a rant. But the fact the Hungarian economy has been hammered by the food embargo introduced by the Kremlin in response to US and EU sanctions against Moscow is but one sour note on EU policies in the region. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Hungary, Peter Szijjarto told Kommersant the other day:
“According to our estimates, the loss of profit for Hungary amounts to $6.5 billion over the last three years. We are speaking about exports. Given that the annual volume of Hungarian exports is about $90 billion, the losses are biting,”
Hungary’s recent overtures toward Russia are freaking the parliamentarians in Brussels out at the same time leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel try and come to grips with thawing of relations between Moscow and Washington under U.S. President Donald Trump. A new wave of populism sweeping all Europe is seen by the left wing as some Russian conspiracy, when in reality the movement is a change of errant course. These former Soviet bloc countries are a kind of litmus tests that shows the EU was never a fair game in the first place. Germany and the central Europeans thrived for a time, while other nations were left to stagnate. In a recent poll conducted in Hungary, 75% of those asked favored pragmatic relations with Russia as opposed to only 5% saying that “Hungary should not even talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin at all”.
The Turkish reset with Russia, especially the renewal of the so-called “south stream pipeline” project mirrors the Russia tilt in Greece, Macedonia, Slovenia, Italy, and other formerly devout NATO-EU devotees. President Putin just recently praised Slovenia for an invite for a Trump-Putin summit in the country’s capital of Ljubljana. Slovenia, the native country of First Lady Melania Trump, is a literal stepping stone in what some will remember from Putin’s Vladivostok to Lisbon initiative. No matter how one classifies all these geo-political moves, the clear trend in favor of Russia ties is crystal clear. The globalist Washington Post called the trend “Europeans bowing to the power of Putin”, when in reality the motives are pragmatism and logic. Moving away from big promises and failure toward a change is only a natural thing.
Finally, in 2014 Germany’s former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder blamed European Union policy for the current situation in Ukraine, and he also urged the West to stop new sanctions on Russia. Now we are seeing that Schroeder was right. At the other end of the German political spectrum, German Left Party (Die LInke), Dr. Sahra Wagenknecht has railed against Chancellor Angela Merkel, NATO, and the west in general for failed policies and the destruction of détente with Russia. At the center of her arguments lay a cerifiable truth of Eastern European affairs since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In an interview with German Radio, Dr. Wagenknecht spoke about America’s “substantial economic interests” (“handfeste wirtschaftliche Interessen”) in the Ukraine, as a big part of Europe’s problem:
“There are substantial economic interests: the Americans have been in the Ukraine since the beginning. They have even made agreements with Ukrainian companies, even investing in some of them. So there are substantial economic interests, and it is all the more critical that Europe not be dragged into this (by the Americans), but that we act in our own interests. This means peace and cooperation of course with Russia, improving the relationship which has cooled off markedly in the past months.”
The common thread running through the new west-east crisis is “financial interest”. This will be the focus of my next report. For now though, it is not the Trump White House that seems in disarray, but Brussels and the NATO alliance. Stay tuned.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe.
Speaking from Lattakia, Afraa Dagher discusses topical issues and long term goals for her native Syria
I recently had the privilege of interviewing Syrian political commentator Afraa Dagher. Throughout the conflict she has written pieces on the reality of this much misunderstood war as well as made appearances on a variety of global media outlets, including RT.
She is a patriotic Syrian whose words are deeply valuable to both the friends and foes of Syria, many of whom rely exclusively on non-Syrians for news and analysis about the country and its struggle.
Here is what she had to say.
Adam Garrie: What is your opinion of proposals coming from a number of places, arguing for Syrian federalisation?
Afraa Dagher: To understand why Syrians reject such proposals, one needs to revisit Syrian history. In 1920-1921, in the French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon, General Henri Gouraud was appointed representative of the French government in the Middle East and commander of the French Army of the Levant, centred in Syria.
This General divided Syria into small regions, like Aleppo state for example and made the northern part of the mandate a Kurdish majority region in addition to an Alawite region, Druz region..… etc
Under such a pretext, there are inconsistent components. The intention was then as it is now, to break the country’s natural unity, so people wouldn’t be able to unite and counter the occupation!
They took Liwa Iskenderun from Syria in 1937 and in the year 1939 they granted it to Turkey! They also took parts of Damascus and annexed them to Lebanon , as a Christian region, so as to create Lebanon with sectarian and ethnic divides. This was all designed to federate, divide and conquer mother Syria!
Syrians fought this occupation and this federation, until they got their independence in the year 1946.
We must not repeat the painful history of federalisation which will only result in the elimination of this nation,making it fragile and unstable. Then we may then ‘need’ another foreign mandate and foreign forces to keep peace.
This is their devious pretext when it comes to federalisation.
Who could be so naïve to bring this catastrophe to his nation again!
AG: If as expected, the majority of Syrians reject such proposals, how would you expect Russia to act?
AD: I can only say this; it is the Syrians’ right to determine their destiny after more than 6 years of sacrifices. Russia has always said that at the end of the conflict it (the country’s future) would be Syrians’ decision.
AG: What is your view on the cooperation between the SDF ( Syrian Democratic Forces) and the Syrian Arab Army against Turkey and their jihadist FSA?
AD: Such a war with multiple enemies, necessarily imposes various conditions on all sides. The SDF is backed and sponsored by the US and the majority of them are Kurdish along with some foreigners!
The fact that Turkey is the number one enemy of the Kurds and also a considerable invader of Syrian land, perhaps led to cooperation between the Syrian Arab Army and Kurds at this point. However, in other areas when it comes to concepts like the federalisation, I do not think we are going to see such cooperation.
AG: Do you have any faith that the Geneva peace talks will produce anything meaningful?
AD: Here, I will reference the words of our ambassador in the UN, Dr Ja’afari, who asked the western countries to stop wasting their people’s money on supporting terrorists.
Unless all the countries directly related to this war like Turkey, the Arab Gulf, the EU countries and America, stop the financing, training and arming of the so called moderate rebels, all such conferences will be in vain.
AG: Who is Syria’s number one enemy?
AG: What is your view on the US sending in soldiers to aid the SDF?
AD: It is an invasion of our sovereign land. The SDF play the role of alternative/proxy troops for the US and for its project in this region. The same thing happened with Kurds in Iraq, who helped the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. They also played a dirty role in Syria throughout much of the conflict; ” the separatists Kurds”, so to speak.
AG: Who are Syria’s most important allies at this time?
AD: I have to state it vice versa, I would say that Syria is the first and most important ally of the resistance axis. Syria is the great ally against imperialist unipolarity represented by the US! I say this with due respect to our great allies and to their sacrifices.
“The senator from Kentucky,” said John McCain, speaking of his colleague Rand Paul, “is working for Vladimir Putin … and I do not say that lightly.”
What did Sen. Paul do to deserve being called a hireling of Vladimir Putin?
He declined to support McCain’s call for a unanimous Senate vote to bring Montenegro into NATO as the 29th member of a Cold War alliance President Trump has called “obsolete.”
Bordered by Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania, tiny Montenegro has a population roughly that of D.C., and sits on the western coast of the most volatile peninsula in Europe.
What strategic benefit would accrue from having Montenegro as an ally that would justify the risk of our having to go to war should some neighbor breach Montenegro’s borders?
Historically, the Balkans have been an incubator of war. In the 19th century, Otto van Bismarck predicted that when the Great War came, it would come out of “some damn fool thing in the Balkans.” And so it did when the Austrian archduke was assassinated in Sarajevo June 28, 1914 by Serbian ethnonationalist Gavrilo Princip.
Aflame with ethnic, civil and sectarian war in the 1990s, the western Balkans are again in political turmoil. Milo Djukanovic, the longtime Montenegrin prime minister who resigned on election day in October, claims that he was targeted for assassination by Russia to prevent Montenegro’s accession to NATO.
Russia denies it. But on the Senate floor, McCain raged at Rand Paul: “You are achieving the objectives of Vladimir Putin … trying to dismember this small country which has already been the subject of an attempted coup.”
But if Montenegro, awash in corruption and crime, is on the verge of an uprising or coup, why would the U.S. issue a war guarantee that could vault us into a confrontation with Russia — without a full Senate debate?
The vote that needs explaining here is not Rand Paul’s.
It is the votes of those senators who are handing out U.S.-NATO war guarantees to countries most Americans could not find on a map.
Is no one besides Sen. Paul asking the relevant questions here?
What vital U.S. interest is imperiled in who comes to power in Podgorica, Montenegro? Why cannot Europe handle this problem in its own back yard?
Has President Trump given McCain, who wanted President Bush to intervene in a Russia-Georgia war — over South Ossetia! — carte blanche to hand out war guarantees to unstable Balkan states?
Did Trump approve the expansion of NATO into all the successor states born of the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia?
Or is McCain hijacking U.S. foreign policy on NATO and Russia?
President Trump should tell the Senate: No more admissions to NATO, no more U.S. war guarantees, unless I have recommended or approved them. Foreign policy is made in the White House, not on the Senate floor.
Indeed, what happened to the foreign policy America voted for — rapprochement with Russia, an end to U.S. wars in the Middle East, and having rich allies share more of the cost of their own defense?
It is U.S., not NATO defense spending that is rising by more than $50 billion this year. And today we learn the Pentagon has drawn up plans for the insertion of 1,000 more U.S. troops into Syria. While the ISIS caliphate seems doomed, this six-year Syrian war is far from over.
An al-Qaida subsidiary, the Nusra Front, has become the most formidable rebel fighting group. Syria’s army, with the backing of Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Shiite militias from across the Middle East, has carved out most of the territory it needs.
The Turkish army is now in Syria, beside its rebel allies. Their main enemy: Syria’s Kurds, who are America’s allies.
From our longest war, Afghanistan, comes word from U.S. Gen. John Nicholson that we and our Afghan allies are in a “stalemate” with the Taliban, and he will need a “few thousand” more U.S. troops — to augment the 8,500 President Obama left behind when he left office.
Some 5,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq, helping to liberate Mosul from ISIS. In Kabul, Baghdad and Damascus, terrorist bombings are a weekly, if not a daily, occurrence.
Then there is the U.S. troop buildup in Poland and the Baltic, the U.S. deployment of a missile defense to South Korea after multiple missile tests in the North, and Russia and China talking of upgrading their nuclear arsenals to counter U.S. missile defenses in Poland, Romania and South Korea.
In and around the waters of the Persian Gulf, United States warships are harassed by Iranian patrol boats, as Tehran test-fires anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles to send the Americans a message: Attack us and it will not be a cakewalk war.
With the death of Communism, the end of the Cold War, and the collapse of the Bushite New World Order, America needs a new grand strategy, built upon the solid foundation of America First.
Copyright 2017 Creators.com.
Dozens of worshipers have reportedly been killed in an airstrike on a mosque in Syria’s Aleppo province. While the Pentagon only admitted to striking terrorists several miles away in Idlib, some reports suggest US missile debris were recovered from the mosque’s rubble.
Details of the strike on the Al-Jinah mosque are scarce, but over 50 people might have been killed in the incident, according to various reports. Images from the scene shared on social media show the wide-scale destruction.
None of the forces present in the area have taken responsibility for the strike yet. Both Russian and Syrian planes in addition to American-led air power are conducting operations against terrorist units in the area.
Some rushed to blame Moscow or Damascus for the carnage, after activists of the so-called White Helmets rescue organization and no less the notorious UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights shared first images from the scene.
“We did not target a mosque, but the building that we did target — which was where the meeting took place — is about 50 feet (15 meters) from a mosque that is still standing,” said Colonel John J. Thomas, spokesman for US Central Command according to AFP.
Journalist Samuel Oakford, who was previously UN correspondent at Vice News, said that the US central Command confirmed it had carried out a strike in relative close proximity to the mosque.
“US official says that they were targeting an ‘Al Qaeda meeting place” that was across from the mosque in Aleppo. ‘We took the strike’”, he tweeted. Earlier, the reporter claimed the US Central Command told him the Americans conducted a strike on a target just several miles away, in the bordering Idlib province, and was looking into the Aleppo suburb mosque strike.
CENTCOM spokesperson, Maj. Josh Jacques, told the London-based Airwars monitoring group that the target was “assessed to be a meeting place for al Qaeda, and we took the strike.”
“It happened to be across the street from where there is a mosque,” said Jacques, specifying that the mosque was not the target and that it wasn’t hit directly.
“To be clear: this was a unilateral US strike, not part of anti-ISIS Coalition activities,” Oakford emphasized in another tweet.
Meanwhile Sakir Khader, who identifies himself as a journalist with a focus on Syria, Turkey, and the wider Middle East, posted a picture of the missile debris, which he claims to have come from the rubble of the destroyed mosque.
While the location and authenticity of the photo are yet to be independently investigated, the picture shows latin inscription on a metal plate alleged to be a piece of the missile.
Neither the Russian nor the US militaries, as well as Damascus, have yet to officially comment on the incident.
Press TV – March 17, 2017
At least 44 people have been killed and dozens of others wounded after a Saudi airstrike hit a refugee boat off Yemen’s western coast.
Yemen’s al-Masirah television reported on Thursday that the boat which came under attack was carrying Somali refugees near Bab al-Mandeb Strait.
According to the report, there are a number of women and children among the victims.
Reuters quoted a local official in Hudaydah as saying that the boat had come under attack by an Apache helicopter.
The refugees were on their way from Yemen to Sudan, the unnamed official said.
Earlier in the day, Saudi fighter jets bombed a food transport truck in the western province of al-Hudaydah, killing all the passengers, al-Masirah reported, without giving the number of those killed.
The remains of a truck hit by a Saudi strike in Hudaydah Province, Yemen, March 16, 2017.
Saudi Arabia has been leading a deadly military campaign against Yemen since March 2015. The kingdom has also imposed an aerial and naval blockade on its southern neighbor.
Britain and the US have provided huge amounts of arms and military training to the Saudi forces.
According to the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, the Saudi military campaign has claimed the lives of 10,000 Yemenis and left 40,000 others wounded.
McGoldrick told reporters in Sana’a earlier this year that the figure was based on casualty counts given by health facilities and that the actual number might be higher.
However, local Yemeni sources have put the death toll from the Saudi war at over 12,000, including many women and children.