Argentina has officially expanded the outer limits of its continental shelf beyond the UK-claimed Falkland Islands, following a UN commission ruling which increased its maritime territory by 35 percent to include the waters around the disputed islands.
According to the Argentinian Foreign Ministry, the newly introduced continental shelf borders are based on a “unanimous” decision by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, that ruled in Argentina’s favor earlier in March.
According to UN ruling, Argentinian waters have expanded by 1.7 million sq km, which encompass those surrounding the disputed Falklands, or as they are known in Argentina, Islas Malvinas. Essentially the UN ratified the country’s 2009 petition to fix the limit of its territorial waters at 200 to 350 miles from its coast.
“We’re reaffirming our sovereignty rights over the resources from our continental shelf, minerals, hydrocarbons and sedentary species,” Foreign minister Susana Malcorra said, when making the announcement. “I sincerely believe that is a very significant foreign policy achievement of Argentina.”
“This is a historic occasion for Argentina because we’ve made a huge leap in the demarcation of the exterior limit of our continental shelf,” she added.
The UN ruling increased Argentinian territory by 35 percent, as under the previous 200 nautical mile extension Argentina’s shelf consisted of 4.8m sq km. Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Foradori who chaired the panel presentation at San Martin Palace, said that UN ruling was carried out by design and planning and not by accident.
It “is not a sovereignty dispute, but the creation of national sovereignty quietly and in peace, with all Argentines working in a team, for years, under different governments with a common objective. It was the generation of a policy by design and planning, and not by accident,” Foradori said.
Meanwhile, UK Independence Party’s (UKIP) defense spokesman Mike Hookem slammed the decision, while adding that the British government must “stand by the Falkland Islanders and tell the United Nations it does not accept its decision on Argentina’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).”
“The Falkland Islands do not lie in Argentinian waters and the UN should not be altering customary international law for the sake of one country whose actions in 1982 cost over one thousand lives,” he said in a statement on UKIP’s website.
“I thought the UN was supposed to be a global arbitrator and stick to its own laws, not pick favourites at the expense of its own principles,” he added.
The UN is yet to officially confirm Buenos Aires announcement, but according to Article 76, paragraphs four to seven of the Convention, the coastal state can “delineate the outer limits of its continental shelf, where that shelf extends beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines …” London is also yet to comment on Argentina’s announcement.
In the long standing dispute, Buenos Aires claims it inherited the Falkland Islands from the Spanish crown in 1816, while London justifies its position saying it has continuously administered the territory since 1833, as well as the islands’ population, which is almost entirely of British descent.
While the islands are self-governed, London provides for its defense and foreign affairs, and fought a war with Argentina to protect its claim in 1982. The British government also maintains that islanders cannot accept Argentinian sovereignty against their will. During the 2013 referendum 99.8 percent of residents favored the status quo.
The people of the Falkland Islands are trying to find out from the British government about “what, if any, decisions have been made, and what implications there may be” for the territory in relation to the UN decision.
“As soon as we have any firm information we will make it available,” Mike Summers, chairman of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands, said in an e-mailed statement to the Associated Press. “Our understanding has always been that the UN would not make any determination on applications for continental shelf extension in areas where there are competing claims.”
Militants shot at a Lebanese army surveillance tower in the border town of Hneider early on Saturday, al-Manar correspondent reported.
Our reporter said that following the attack two army soldiers withdrew the surveillance tower to a nearby checkpoint, adding that the army fired flare bombs and targeted the militants with machine guns and artillery fire.
The army soldiers then returned to the surveillance tower, according to our correspondent.
Meanwhile, the National News Agency reported that the Lebanese army “upped security measures in the border town of Hneider and its neighboring towns in the region of Wadi Khaled, following an attack by Syrian gunmen on a surveillance tower on Saturday.”
The surveillance tower which is under construction and aims at observing and controlling the border is under the joint control of the Lebanese Armed Forces, Internal Security Forces and General Security, NNA added.
The US Defense Department reportedly plans to launch a new train-and-equip effort in Syria. The new effort will focus on preparing a small contingent of rebels outside Syria.
The rebels will reportedly be trained in infantry tactics and then sent back to their homeland. The spokesman for the US-led military operation against Daesh, Colonel Steve Warren, said the new effort was part of the Pentagon’s adjustments to the train-and-equip program built on prior experience.
However, many details about the new program remain unclear, including its cost, the number of fighters it aims to train as well as the exact date of its launch, according to Foreign Policy magazine.
Michael Maloof, former Pentagon official and senior security policy analyst in the office of the Secretary of Defense, was not too optimistic about the Pentagon’s ability to learn from the mistakes, saying that his hopes for the new programs were pretty low.
“The program is very vague, no details are being given as to where the training will be conducted and smaller contingents doesn’t necessarily mean a success. The problem has been as to who would be available to fight ISIS as opposed to wanting to take down the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. That has been the problem. Also what countries would actually conduct the training, before it was Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey? Those countries generally are against the government of Syria as it now stands.”
“It is going to be questionable as to how effective this so-called revised program is going to be. I don’t hold much hope for it and it’s just another waste of money frankly at this point,” Maloof said.
Talking about what the Pentagon’s exact goal was for launching this new train-and-equip program, the official said, “The concept is to fight ISIS, but in reality the people that they are recruiting are Sunnis, they are sympathetic to the Sunni ISIS fighters and even though they may not agree with them wholeheartedly, they are Sunnis and Sunnis will not be fighting Sunnis. That’s just the way it goes.”
He further spoke about the reluctance of Turkey in going after ISIS and instead are venting against the Kurds. “The consequences of these actions are questionable and the success is highly dubious and I don’t hold much faith in them.”
Maloof also discussed Saudi Arabia’s position in this situation. He said, “Saudi’s don’t like ISIS either but they are bank rolling, funding them outside the Kingdom but if they start pointing inward that’s another problem for them because ISIS is fundamentally against monarchy.”
Parties to the Yemeni military conflict agreed to hold a new round of peace talks in Kuwait and expressed their readiness to create a national unity government during a meeting in Sanaa, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said Monday.
“Fruitful meetings in Sana, and agreement that Kuwait is a place of upcoming Yemeni negotiations…[Parties] agree on political solution and formation of a national unity government,” the special envoy wrote on his official Facebook page.
The date for a new round of intra-Yemeni talks has not yet been announced.
The first round of talks between Yemeni government representatives and Houthi rebels took place in Geneva in December 2015.
Yemen has been engulfed in a military conflict between the government headed by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and Shiite Houthi rebels, who have been supported by army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Since late March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out airstrikes against Houthi positions at Hadi’s request.
The Kuwaiti government has deported 11 Lebanese and three Iraqis on charges of having links to Lebanon’s resistance movement, Hezbollah, a report says.
The Kuwaiti Arabic daily al-Qabas quoted a security source as saying on Monday that the 14 people had been expelled on the order of the state security service.
The move came nearly three weeks after the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC), under the influence of the Saudi regime, declared Hezbollah a “terrorist” organization. Arab League foreign ministers, except those of Iraq and Lebanon, later followed suit.
The [P]GCC – comprising Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait – however, did not provide any evidence for its allegation. This comes as the first three monarchies themselves stand accused of supporting extremists and terrorists in the region.
Describing the [P]GCC decision as “reckless and hostile,” Hezbollah blamed it on Saudi Arabia.
Elsewhere in its report, Qabas said that Kuwaiti security officials have prepared a list of “unwanted” Lebanese and Iraqi people, including advisers to big companies, to be expelled for “the public interest.”
The people will not be allowed to enter the [P]GCC member states after their deportation, the daily said.
The recent scandal in Paris concerning the decoration with the Légion d’honneur by the French government of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammad Ben Nayef, highlights the importance of the absolutist Gulf Monarchy to France’s imperial strategy in the Middle East. The spurious left/right divide in French politics between the Socialist Party and the Republicans, is manifested in a Middle East geopolitics of the Socialist Party’s special relationship with Saudi Arabia, while UMP, formerly led by Nicolas Sarkozy, tends to favor Qatar, the irony being that Qatar is a tad more liberal than the ‘socialist’ backed Saudi behemoth.
While there was muted outrage in the French capital over the decision to honor Ben Nayef on his own request, in order to boost his international ‘credibility’, I believe the French government’s actions were perfectly logical and reasonable. Why wouldn’t the French government honor Saudi officials? Since the creation of a unified kingdom with British backing in 1932, the Saudi dictatorship has served its function well. It has, along with its sister Israel, constituted a bulwark against the two threats to Western, Zionist suzerainty in the Middle East and North Africa: Arab nationalism and revolutionary Shiism.
The Wahhabi regime does this by keeping so many of the Muslims of the former Ottoman Empire indoctrinated in an obscurantist death cult, under the supreme authority of a degenerate ruling caste who, instead of developing the industrial sector of their country so as to improve the lives of the poor, squander billions on Western arms deals in order to better oppress their own people and those of neighboring countries such as Yemen, who are attempting to emancipate themselves from the neocolonial yoke.
Relations between the Saudi monarchy and the French government are currently so good, the words ‘honey moon’, have been used to describe them. When President Holland visited Riyadh Just months after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in January 2015, French press pundits on the capitalist ‘left’ and ‘capitalist right’, were waxing lyrical about the ‘great friendship’ that exists between Saudi Arabia and France. In June 2015, the French government signed over 10,3 billion dollars in contracts with the Saudi regime in areas extending from military, aeronautics, health, transport and solar energy. This means that a sizable portion of the French bourgeoisie, what President Clemenceau once referred to as “the syndicate of interests”, are perfectly happy with the Franco-Saudi status quo.
French imperialism currently bears the distinction of having surpassed the United States in bellicosity. The French led the carpet bombing and destruction of Libya in 2011; they have led in the destruction of Syria too. In negotiations with Iran, the Quai d’Orsay was the most intransigent; this won it more favor with Riyadh. With US/Saudi relations strained, due to American détente with Iran, Paris is using Saudi insecurity about its future to gain more influence in the Arabian Peninsula.
The French government sold more arms than ever in 2015 and they intend to sell even more this year, thanks to the ‘honey moon’ relationship with the head chopping regime in Riyadh; a regime openly promoting the Wahhabi death cult all around the world, including in France’s sprawling proletarian banlieux, where mis-fortunate youths such as the infamous Kouachi brothers fall under their influence. The fact that the Saudi regime promotes and funds Takfiri terrorism is not a secret; US Vice President Joe Biden candidly admitted this to students at the Kennedy Business School in Harvard University in 2014.
While US presidential candidate Donald Trump, in what appeared to be a veiled critique of Israeli terrorism, recently declared that ‘everyone knows’ the Saudis are behind Takfiri terrorism.
In fact, it is regularly admitted by the French corporate and establishment media that the Saudis are funding terrorism in Syria and other countries, yet Riyadh remains the privileged partner of countries claiming to be fighting an international ‘war on terrorism’! None of this makes sense but, of course, that is because it doesn’t have to make sense. For this global war on terrorism is a war without a real enemy. The enemies are fabricated by the panoply of agencies that constitute the military-industrial-media-intelligence complex; a netherworld of special interests and high finance.
In this post-modern wasteland of consumerist meaninglessness and zero-consciousness, the terrorist is a shifting signifier. The ‘War on Terror’ narrative operates like Derridean deconstruction, whereby the terrorist is both real and unreal, present and absent, constantly deferred, displaced, with no essential being outside the labyrinthine obfuscations of the war on terror’s ever expanding mythos. And the political elites, who serve corporate and financial power, no longer care what the public thinks of them. They are now discretely admitting that the war on terror is a fraud, that the French government supports the most outrageous dictatorships on earth, that human rights, as Marx noted, signify nothing more than vile property rights ; that money is God and that they have nothing but snickering contempt for the French public.
Everything is now out in the open. We are governed by criminals and tyrants and they don’t mind us taking cognizance of that fact. Therefore, the media disclosure of emails showing how the French government attempted to play down the Légion d’honneur affair will not bother them. Speaking to France Inter last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, said: ” Diplomacy can sometimes surprise us. One should see it like that” In other words, this is an affair of state and we have no duty to explain our policies to the public. Procul, procul, este profani! Be off, be gone, ye uninitiated!
In 1999, a relative of Ben Nayef was arrested in Paris in possession of 20 tons of cocaine. The Saudi prince was smuggling drugs from Latin America into Europe, in order to finance Al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan. The prince escaped to Saudi Arabia but was sentenced in absentia to ten years in prison by a French court. The fact that this convicted, felonious relative of Mohammad Ben Nayef was under the protection of the Saudi regime did not even enter into the agenda of the French delegation to Riyadh in 2015.
Why would it? Drug trafficking is a key component of class rule, constituting the carefully concealed underbelly of the global, capitalist system.
Drug dealers operating under the aegis of the French Socialist Party were responsible for crushing the massive French labor strikes of 1948, when there was a real chance of the French Communist Party, (PCF )taking power. In cahoots with the CIA, Socialist Mayor of Marseilles, Gaston Deferre used the drug trafficking mafia clans to crush the worker’s movement. Today, cities like Marseilles are awash with drugs, delinquency, and poverty. The workers are no longer organized as immigration keeps them disunited and demoralized, while Saudi princes party with their French counterparts along the French Riviera. Meanwhile, ‘socialist’ leaders meet farcically in Paris to discuss the “danger of the far right”, movements whose ranks are increasingly being filled with demoralized workers.
The Saudi prince deserves the Légion d’honneur, for the Saudi regime is a worthy partner of French imperialism. It is waging war against the Syrian people, waging war against the Yemeni people, and would soon be waging war against the Iranian people, were it not for the fact that Persia is capable of flattening it.
The Wahhabi regime poisons the minds of millions of young Muslims, diverting their social anger at the ruling class into sectarian hatred of their class allies, killing other poor Muslims and Christians instead of the tyrants spreading hate, oppression and permanent war. The Saudi regime is a Zionist entity, which wages permanent war on Muslims mostly, murdering and defaming them and sullying the Islam. For the deeply unpopular French regime instituting a police state, Saudi Arabia is a role model. In this sense, by bestowing the highest honors of the state on despot Mohammad Ben Nayef, the French government is revealing to the world the true meaning, the transcendental signification of their oft incanted ditty of ‘human rights’, ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’.
Syrian Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem said Saturday UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has no right to talk about Syrian presidential elections, noting that the Syrian Arab Republic delegation will not wait in Geneva forever for other parties to decide to show up.
During a press conference, al-Moallem said the Syrian Arab Republic delegation received a letter from de Mistura scheduling Monday as a date for meeting at the UN HQ in Geneva within the Syrian-Syrian dialogue.
“Meeting with our delegation at first is a good thing,” he said, adding however that the Republic’s delegation “will not repeat the same mistake that happened in the previous round. They are going to wait for 24 hours only.”
“We are looking forward to having dialogue with the broadest spectrum of opposition groups in implementation of de Mistura’s mandate by the UN Security Council and the Vienna and Munich communiqués, particularly the national opposition… that is not linked to any foreign agendas,” al-Moallem added.
He commented on the UN Envoy’s recent statements setting up a schedule for Geneva talks which he said will discuss the regime, the constitution and the parliamentary and presidential elections, saying de Mistura doesn’t have the right to set a schedule, which is something up to the dialogue parties.
He went on saying that de Mistura must be aware, when he talks about the constitution, that it is the national unity government, the subject of discussion in the future, that will appoint a committee to draft a new constitution or amend the standing one, stressing that any outcome will be subject to referendum for approval.
Regarding the presidential elections, al-Moallem stressed that neither de Mistura nor anyone else whomsoever can discuss this issue as it is “an exclusive right of the Syrian people,” dismissing what the envoy said as “a deviation from all the UN documents.”
“We will no longer accept that [de Mistura] gives up objectivity to please this or that party, and our delegation will reject any attempt to put this issue on the schedule,” he added.
As for the upcoming parliamentary elections, al-Moallem said fulfilling the elections is part of the constitution, stressing that this issue should be respected where no reservations can be accepted by anyone, calling for a high turnout of Syrian voters.
Al-Moallem stressed that Syria is committed to the cessation of hostilities agreement, noting that there have been breaches of the agreement by the armed groups that were responded to by the army sometimes and overlooked in other times.
“We affirm our armed forces’ right to respond to breaches,” he added.
He used this opportunity to urge those who have taken up weapons to utilize the agreement of the cessation of hostilities and engage in reconciliations.
The crisis, he affirmed, is coming to an end, and we hereby welcome all those who want to join our armed forces in the fight against ISIL, al-Nusra Front and the terrorist organizations linked to them,” added al-Moallem.
In his comments on the talk about foreign ground intervention in Syria that came up in the past period, al-Moallem reaffirmed that “No one dares to intervene in Syria in a ground war, and that this talk has receded, noting that US President Barack Obama’s recent speech proved that he is not going to such a war.
“I say with confidence that our people will reject any attempts at dividing [the country],” he said.
Al-Moallem referred to the recent statements about a federal model in Syria made by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov as circulated by the media, clarifying that the statements were not quoted objectively because Ryabkov made it contingent on the Syrians’ approval.
“I say as a Syrian citizen, and I’m sure you are with me, that we reject the talk about federalism and we are with the unity of Syria,” he added.
The Foreign Minister reiterated in comments on statements by the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir that the latter is always repeating his talk at all occasions and what he said “was worthless”. “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” al-Moallem said.
He asserted that the Syrian people are optimistic about the talks in Geneva, adding however that while the Syrian Arab Republic’s delegation is going to Geneva with the intention to make the dialogue a success, this issue depends also on the other parties as well.
“If those have illusions of taking over power through Geneva after they failed in the battlefield, they will fail once again,” he added.
He made it clear that nowhere in the UN documents is there something that talks about a transition period of presidency, “which is why there should be agreement on the definition of transition period.”
“As far as we understand it, transition is to move from a standing constitution to a new one and from a standing government to another that involves the other party,” he said.
Al-Moallem went on saying that the standing constitution will remain in place until holding a referendum by the Syrian people on a new or an amended one, reiterating again that there is no link between the legislative elections and what is going on in Geneva.
“We are going to Geneva and we do not know with whom we will have dialogue,” he said, reiterating that the Republic’s delegation will wait only 24 hours for the other parties to show up and if the other parties don’t show up by that time, the delegation will leave Geneva and the other party will be held responsible for the failure of the talks.
Al-Moallem affirmed that the Republic’s delegation does not put preconditions for the dialogue in Geneva, adding that those who know Syria and the Syrian leadership well realize that “we do not bow to anyone, whether states or groups.”
“We will not have dialogue with any side that discusses the position of the president. This is a red line and it is up to the Syrians alone,” he reiterated.
Asked about the Kurds in Syria, al-Moallem affirmed that “Our brothers, the Kurds, are Syrian citizens, and they are with us in the same trench against ISIL.”
Since 2001, the United States has been killing people with weaponized drones, most times not knowing the identities of the victims.
The victims of drone strikes are nameless and invisible, despite the fact that most of them are civilians.
The Pentagon announced this week that more than 150 al-Shabab fighters have been killed by a U.S. drone strike in Somalia. The Pentagon spokesmen repeatedly talked about “fighters” and “terrorists” which “posed an imminent threat to the U.S.” But as usual, he offered no proof of his claims.
This kind of language has become normalized when it comes to the U.S. drone war, which is not just taking place in Somalia, but also in countries like Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. What is significant regarding the regular attacks in these countries is the media coverage. In fact, it practically does not exist. The many victims of drone strikes are nameless and invisible. And if they appear in any media reports, all of them are completely dehumanized and described as “terrorists,” “suspected militants” or any other similar euphemism.
This was also the case after the latest strike in Somalia, a country the U.S. is officially not at war with. Shortly after the Pentagon’s announcement, many news outlets adopted the U.S. government’s version of the incident. The New York Times, for example, wrote about the killing of “150 fighters who were assembled for what American officials believe was a graduation ceremony.” “Militants” was also the term the Washington Post used to describe all the victims. It is necessary to point out that many other well-known media outlets from all over the world did the very same thing. As usual, there was a huge lack of any critical scrutinizing. Instead, media once again became a mouthpiece of the U.S. government by quoting its military officials and spreading their one-sided views constantly.
Since 2001, the United States has been killing people with weaponized drones, most times not knowing the identity of the victims. As of today, at least 6,000 people have been killed by these drone strikes. According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, only 4 percent of drone victims in Pakistan were identified as a-Qaida members. But vastly more than 2,000 people have been killed there by drones during the last years.
Another country which is suffering heavily under drone strikes is Afghanistan, the most drone bombed country in the world. Between 2001 and 2013, 1,670 drone strikes took place in the country. It was in the city of Kandahar, the Taliban’s former stronghold, where the first strike by a weaponized drone took place in October 2001. The target, Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, was not killed on this day, but many other unknown people have been in the years since.
One of these people was Sadiq Rahim Jan, a 21-year-old food vendor from Paktia, eastern Afghanistan. He was murdered by a drone strike in July 2012. A few days later, media outlets in Kabul described him as a “Taliban commander.” The family members of Aisha Rashid have also been killed by a drone strike. The Afghan girl was four years old when a missile hit the pick-up of her family in Kunar, also in the east of the country. Fourteen passengers, including Aisha’s parents, were murdered. Only she survived – barely – with a ragged face. Initially, all the victims were described as “militants” by Afghan government officials and local media outlets.
Tariq Aziz, from North Waziristan shared a similar destiny. The 16-year-old anti-drone activist was killed by a drone strike in November 2011, together with his 12-year-old cousin Waheed. Unlike the case of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pashtun girl which was nearly killed by a member of the Pakistani Taliban and received a Nobel Peace Prize, Tariq’s case is widely unknown.
In all the mentioned cases, as well as many other, significant media coverage was nonexistent – or it described the victims as terrorists, extremists, militants, al-Qaida members, and so on. This is happening on a daily basis and there are also reasons why it is happening.
In the case of Sadiq, for example, his family became outraged after they noticed that local media outlets described their son and brother as a “Taliban commander.” On that day, the young Afghan was the only person who has been killed in the area. He never had any connection with any insurgent group, not to mention being a commander of them. One of the media outlets which spread these news was Radio Azadi, an Afghan branch of the US government’s external broadcast services. It should be more than obvious that the main aim of such a media platform is not spreading objective information.
Another example for this behaviour is Tolo TV, Afghanistan’s leading mainstream television channel. Last year, the channel’s news website reported that in July 2015 drone strikes in the eastern province of Nangarhar killed “nearly 250 Taliban and Daesh [Islamic State] insurgents.” The main source for this “reporting” was the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan intelligence service, which was built by the U.S. in the first days of the NATO invasion.
Tolo TV was created in 2004 by Saad Mohseni, an Afghan businessman who is being called an “Afghan Rupert Murdoch” and is considered one of the most powerful men in Afghanistan. The channel’s creation was mainly funded by the notorious United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is widely known as one of the most important foreign policy tools of the White House.
In general, one can assume that many media outlets in Afghanistan were not created to support journalism and press freedom but to install media institutions who can be useful to represent particular interests. This is also the case in other countries which suffer from drone strikes.
Noor Behram, an investigative journalist from Northern Waziristan, is known for taking pictures of the drone murder scenes and spreading the victims’ faces. After Behram talked with journalists from Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, he experienced that for them, a beard, long hair and a turban or a pakol, a traditional Afghan cap, is enough to describe male drone victims as “terrorists.” But nearly every man in this area looks like that. According to this logic, everyone, even myself when I am staying there, must be a terrorist.
Besides, Behram’s results fit into Washington’s practice that all military-aged males in a strike zone are considered as “militants.”
The U.S. and its allies needed propaganda organs to construct and justify their war on a medial level. Despite the question if this is moral or not, one should agree that it is also very logical because every war is based on propaganda – it was always like that and probably will never change.
But what remains is the question why so many people still believe such a biased media coverage and its constructed narrative of a good war which is only hitting the bad guys.
Emran Feroz is an Afghan-Austrian journalist, writer and activist currently based in Germany. He is the founder of Drone Memorial, a virtual memorial for civilian drone strike victims.
The United Nations is calling for an explanation of the ongoing two-month detention of Milagro Sala, an Indigenous lawmaker and activist in Argentina.
Sala has been in detention for nearly two months after protesting a local governor’s threat to her social programs.
The Centre of Legal and Social Studies, Amnesty International, and Argentine lawyers collective Andhes submitted a request to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in February and to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in January to guarantee her freedom and the right to freedom and expression. Argentine President Mauricio Macri supports the arrest of Sala, who faces embezzlement charges after being jailed by Macri ally and Juyjuy Governor Gerardo Morales for public disturbance.
Sala was protesting Morales’ proposed changes to the Indigenista Tupac Amaru organization, which she founded and runs, that provides social services to tens of thousands. Her arrest drew large protests for her release, but she was denied a habeas corpus plea.
“Organizing collective action does not mean ‘inciting crimes,’ a massive demonstration is not ‘public disturbance’ and to oppose a government decision is not ‘an act of sedition.’ They are all democratic freedoms,” said the Buenos Aires Provincial Commission for Memory.
Argentina’s Office of Institutional Violence, Procuvin, deemed Sala’s arrest illegal last week, finding that “the two judges and the prosecutor who participated in this process have committed crimes under the penal code.” The investigation for “illegal deprivation of liberty and aggravated breach of trust” came after a request by Mercosur, for which Sala is a lawmaker.
Last week, Macri sent officials to offer Sala house arrest, but she refused the “extortion.” The visit came right before the president met with Pope Francis, who sent Sala rosary beads following her appeal for help.
As soon as the Gulf Cooperation Council blacklisted the Lebanese party of Resistance – Hezbollah – on Wednesday, Zionist mass media welcomed the resolution, considering it “critical and serious,” reflecting a great relief among Israelis who have been seeking to fight Hezbollah from the Arab gate.
Former Zionist foreign minister Tzipi Livni hailed the GCC resolution as “an important step, while Zionist daily Maariv stated that “blacklisting Hezbollah is an achievement that serves Israel.”
Moreover, the entity’s mass media correlated the GCC resolution against Hezbollah with “the ongoing coordination between Saudi Arabia, Israel” which has recently emerged to public through exchanging visits between both parties.
“Arab world is approaching closer to Israel’s stances, which has been revealed through the Saudi delegations’ visit to Israel, as well as when Saudi Arabia decided to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist organization,” the presenter of Tonight at Six talk show for Zionist Channel 1 said.
“It is very important and dramatic development,” he added.
For his part, Yoval King, an expert of Arab affairs, said that “it is an important resolution,” recalling that it is not the first time that Gulf states blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
“They had labeled him as ‘militia’, and announced that violence and provocations he is carrying out in Syria, Yemen and Iraq contradicts with the moral and humanitarian values,” King said.
The Saudi-Zionist coordination witnessed a major shift on the Syrian arena in the face of axis of Resistance, as Zionist sources revealed discussions took place between the armed groups operating in Syria on one hand, and Riyadh and Tel Aviv on the other, about the Syrian developments following the ongoing truce.
“Syrian opposition groups, funded by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Israel are meeting with their sponsors and discussing with them whether they can make gains in the meantime,” Shmerit Maeir, a Zionist analyst of Arab affairs, said during an interview on the Jewish Channel 2.
“Israel needs a key chair on this table whether through the American players or others, because the bases will now determine whether Hezbollah is allowed to do what the ISIL and Al-Nusra Front are banned from doing. If this really is to happen, we will be facing a major catastrophe,” Maeir stressed.
The Zionist position was symmetrical to the Saudi’s, as it doesn’t rule out the possibility of communicating with the armed groups, like Al-Nusra Front and ISIL in order to coordinate for later steps in Syria.
The GCC, which has been committing a genocide in Yemen since March 2015, held a meeting on Monday during which it blacklisted all Hezbollah affiliated institutions.
Another phony excuse for endless war
The Israeli Minister of Defense is now telling anyone who is willing to listen that the Iranian government is building an “international terror network that includes sleeper cells that are stockpiling arms, intelligence and operatives to be ready to strike on command in places including Europe and the U.S.” Moshe Yaalon elaborated that Iran intends to destabilize the entire Middle East as well as other parts of the world and is “training, funding and arming ‘emissaries’ to spread a revolution,” all emanating from a “dangerous axis” that includes Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa.
These preposterous claims come on top of spurious assertions that Iran was building a nuclear weapon, repeated assiduously by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others in his various administrations over the course of twenty years. As it turns out, Iran was not building a nuke and much of the information used to bolster the argument being made turned out to be fabricated by the Israelis themselves, which says something for their credibility.
Israel and its boosters in Washington also continue to argue that Iran has a secret nuclear program squirreled away somewhere, that it will use its windfall of nuclear agreement cash not only to support terrorism but also to speed up weapon development while also destabilizing the entire Middle East. And if those alarming arguments don’t convince the public, Israel’s government and its friends in the media continue to insist that even if Iran is behaving today its deal with the west will surely guarantee a much feared weapon of mass destruction down the road. Iran is the enemy of choice yesterday, today and tomorrow and it will always be the enemy of choice no matter what it does or does not do.
It is consequently a good thing that no one takes the Israelis seriously apart from the American media and the U.S. Congress, both of which have enabled the stitching together of a tissue of lies regarding Iranian intentions. But unfortunately the constant demonization of Iran is not confined to a pathological prime minister supported by a cadre of industrious internet savvy geeks hidden in a building somewhere in Tel Aviv who are able to garner the support of certain American constituencies. There are others who express concerns about Iran’s alleged hegemonistic tendencies, most notably America’s so-called allies Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. The Saudis take a position that is not so far from that of Israel regarding Iranian intentions, lending some credibility to the notion that on this issue at least the two countries are working together. They believe that Iran is seeking regional dominance and is the driving force behind nearly all of the violence that has wracked the Middle East for the past ten years, most definitely including Syria, where the Saudis see themselves fighting a proxy war by arming an insurgency that undeniably includes terrorist components.
How this Persian dominance would manifest itself remains somewhat of a mystery, as Iran is at best a second world economy currently being battered by low oil prices, possessing a tiny military budget by the standards of several of its regional adversaries. Much of its actual spending goes on up-to-date Russian made defense systems in the sure knowledge that it will sooner or later be attacked by someone.
Iran’s neighbors have significant air superiority relative to what Tehran can muster while the Iranian army is incapable of any sustained operations outside its borders. And getting the troops on target could be a bit of a problem as the U.S. Navy patrols, and controls, the Persian Gulf. So the argument regarding Iran’s aggressiveness in a conventional military sense has instead in some circles been redirected to make it fit into what is perceived as an ongoing war of aggression using surrogates, to include the Houthis in Yemen, support of the Bashar al-Assad government and Hezbollah “volunteers” in Syria. There is considerable chatter about how Persian Iran seeks to control an Arab “land bridge” extending across Iraq and Syria to Lebanon, though there is little serious speculation regarding why Tehran would want to waste its limited resources by extending itself in that fashion other than to limit its political isolation.
Indeed, the conflicts that are being attributed to Iran, including the civil war in Yemen and the ongoing crisis in Syria and Iraq can on one hand be seen as meddling but can even more plausibly be described as defensive, as Iran has for nearly forty years been on the receiving end of explicit threats from nearly all of its immediate nominally Sunni neighbors as well as from the United States and Israel.
Iranian influence vis-à-vis its neighbors does not equate to Iranian control. One might cite the status quo in Iraq, where fears of an Iranian dominance have been floated ever since the United States invaded the country in 2003 and subsequently failed at “democracy building.” Today’s Iraq surely has a respectful relationship with fellow majority Shia neighbor Iran but it is far from a rubber stamp for Iranian policies.
And another flaw in the Iran as local bully argument is the fact that while Tehran surely is engaged in intelligence operations directed against its perceived enemies and in supporting friends in Syria it has never used its military to directly attack anyone. Its aggressions pale in order of magnitude if one considers what both the United States and Israel have been up to, or even near neighbor Saudi Arabia. Iran was, in fact, on the receiving end of a military onslaught from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq supported by the United States between 1980 and 1988 in which Baghdad used chemical weapons on the Iranian soldiers. More than half a million Iranians died in that conflict.
So no one in the Middle East or even in Washington seriously believes that an invasion by the Iranians is about to take place or that Tehran constitutes some kind of serious threat. Even generally fear mongering Israel’s generals in their more lucid moments have admitted that Iran is not much of a threat. So the real Iranian threat, if there is one, is to be found somewhere else.
Israel surely needs Iran because it requires a powerful enemy to justify massive aid from Washington and Washington needs it to justify bloated defense budgets based on fear of the Iranian “other.” But the “threat” issue for the Arab states is quite different. I would suggest that it is demographic based on ethno-religious differences and that is actually what the Saudis and their close allies in the Emirates fear. Sunni rulers do not exactly trust the Shi’ite minorities in their countries and to a greater or lesser extent treat them badly, believing them to be both heretical and potentially disloyal. This is particularly true of Saudi Arabia, which has a population that is one sixth Shia concentrated in the eastern part of the country, which is also the oil producing region. The situation is worse for Kuwait, which is one third Shia, and Bahrain which is two-thirds. Yemen is nearly half, and it is the predominantly Shia Houthi tribesmen who are currently being attacked by the Saudis. Iraq is two thirds Shi’ite, but as it has a Shia dominated government it has an amicable relationship with Iran. In Syria the ruling Alawites are considered by the Sunni to be a form of Shi’ism and the Hezbollah of Lebanon are also predominantly Shia, with Shi’ites comprising nearly half of the country’s population.
Even though Shi’ites are far outnumbered by Sunni Muslims overall in the Middle East they are nevertheless strategically situated in certain countries and are present in sufficient numbers to be perceived as a problem by their Sunni autocrat rulers. So the Iranian threat is essentially bogus, but the schism between Sunni and Shi’ite in the Muslim world is not. It is a quarrel that goes back centuries and it behooves the United States to avoid getting suckered into a false narrative by opportunistic friends like and Saudis and Israelis seeking to depict a malignant and expansionistic Iran out to destabilize the entire Middle East. Iran may be many things depending on one’s perspective, but it is not a global or even much of a regional threat.
Iran’s reformists and moderate conservatives have won a parliamentary majority, according to election results released by the Interior Ministry. Earlier, it was announced that the moderates also secured a win in the Assembly of Experts vote.
Reformists who back extended relationships with western countries won about 85 seats in the parliament, while moderate conservatives got another 73 seats, thus being able to secure a 54 percent majority in the 290-seat legislature in case they form a coalition, AP reported citing Iranian state TV.
At the same time, hard-liners, who opposed Iran’s nuclear deal with the world powers signed in July 2015, won only 68 seats, which equals 23 percent of the total number of seats in the parliament.
Five more seats will go to religious minorities and the remaining 59 seats will be allocated in a runoff, which is expected to be held in April, according to AP.
Earlier it was announced that reformist-backed candidates aligned with President Hassan Rouhani won all 30 parliamentary seats in the country’s capital of Tehran
The voter turnout for the elections was 62 percent, according to Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli.
Earlier on Monday, it was announced that Iran’s moderates also won a majority of seats in the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body charged with electing the Supreme Leader of Iran and monitoring his activities as well as with removing him. Moderates got 52 seats in the 88-member assembly securing a 59 percent majority.
The Assembly’s next term, lasting until 2024, is very likely to choose the next Supreme Leader of Iran. Because of 76-year-old Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s age, his successor could well be among those elected this week.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who both belong to the moderate camp, also won seats in the Assembly of Experts. At the same time, several prominent hard-liners, including Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, were also re-elected.
Jannati is the head of the Guardian Council, which is a constitutional watchdog that pre-approves election candidates. However, the current leader of the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, who is also a member of the hard-liners’ camp, was not re-elected.
The outgoing parliament is dominated by hard-liners, otherwise known as “principlists,” who currently hold 65 percent of the seats. The principlists were largely skeptical about Iranian President Rouhani’s policy of re-engagement with the West. However, the incoming parliament is expected to be more favorable towards his political course that started with the July 2015 nuclear deal.