Despite the Israeli authorities’ claims that the seizure of a Freedom Flotilla boat was ‘uneventful’, footage has emerged that indicated that they tasered a Swedish aid worker.
The boats making up Freedom Flotilla 3 (FF3) have been prevented from reaching the besieged people of Gaza and deliver humanitarian aid. The flotilla’s flagship Marianne was boarded by the Israeli military and taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod earlier in the week. By now, some of the crew members have been released, while others remain detained.
Meanwhile, the boat I was meant to be on has not yet left a Greek port. It will head to Gaza at some point. I have been asked not to publish the details. But we will go.
The Israeli authorities claim that their soldiers were ‘non-violent’ as they took over the Marianne, which amounted to an illegal act of piracy, as the vessel was in international waters at the time it was intercepted. The Israeli authorities claimed that there were no injuries when they seized the boat which they had no right to do, legally or morally. The illegal act has been described as ‘uneventful’.
Unsurprisingly though, footage has emerged which shows that the opposite is true. The video shows Arab member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) Basel Ghattas, who I had long conversations with on my trip, first addressing the Israeli Navy before the soldiers boarded the Marianne. The footage then shows Israeli Navy thugs repeatedly tasering Swedish activist and humanitarian aid worker Charlie Andreasson.
Charlie has spent much time in Gaza. He’s a really nice guy and a genuine individual, the kind of selfless character you meet when preparing for a campaign like this. I had the pleasure of talking with him many times as we prepared for Freedom Flotilla 3, and ate dinner with him just a few days ago.
I watched the video of Charlie being tasered and knew it was him before I even read the article.
It was a sickening feeling. According to Oxford dictoniaries.com a taser is ‘a weapon firing barbs attached by wires to batteries, causing temporarily paralysis’. In reality though, tasering is an extremely violent act which can even cause death. There are campaign groups which lobby against the use of tasers by police for this very reason.
But this is how Israel routinely behaves. In typical fashion the Israeli leadership has sought to distract attention from its own crimes. Netanyahu wrote a letter published in the press and delivered to the activists on the boat. He says they must have gotten lost and perhaps should have headed to Syria. He exploits one tragedy to cynically justify another.
And here he does it again, suggesting that Israel is a beacon of light, justice, surrounded by hostile neighbors in the Middle East trying valiantly to uphold those oh so cherished values we hold dear. You can almost hear the harps playing and the angels singing when you read the letter his press office wrote for him on his behalf. He invites the readers to be “Impressed by the only democracy in the Middle East”.
Well Benjamin, we invite you to go to Gaza and to see what Israel’s democracy looks like if you happen to be a Palestinian and born in Gaza. He says that the leadership in Gaza is “using children as human shields.” Perhaps this comment is written by Netanyahu’s office to deflect attention from the fact that Israel killed hundreds of Palestinians last year including many children, and has done so since 1948.
Netanyahu claims that the people on the flotilla were bringing weapons to Gaza. This is false and nothing but an attempt by Israel to save face in the wake of yet another act of piracy committed at sea. They have to say that we are terrorists, because as it is, the world forming a much clearer picture as to the true extent and nature of Israel’s war crimes.
I’ll end here with a story that Charlie told me once when we were sitting down talking, in the company of two other activists.
Charlie told of a time he was in Gaza, and saw a young man shot by an Israeli soldier, possibly a sniper, as they found themselves under attack as is routine in Gaza.
Charlie and whoever else was there couldn’t help the Palestinian man as they were still being shot at. They had to watch him die, unable to reach him as he lay just a few feet away. They then had to inform the father that his son was dead-while the body of his son still lay in the road, unable to be recovered. The boys’ father thanked them.
I’ve never even seen the image of this happening, but yet I can’t shake it from my mind. Charlie is a brave person and didn’t deserve the treatment he got by the Israeli navy.
The Israeli soldiers are brainwashed and carrying out the work of Netanyahu’s war criminal regime. The sooner people wake up to this the better.
Richard Sudan, is a London based writer, political activist, and performance poet. Follow him on Twitter.
“No humanitarian crisis here” say Netanyahu and Ya’alon
Governments should support brave humanitarian voyagers and back their play in future.
Welcome to the latest chapter in a long tale of unspeakable cruelty.
Israel’s military are once more raiding mercy ships on the high seas in an effort to prevent humanitarian aid reaching the 1.8 million souls in shattered Gaza.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the Swedish boat Marianne with 18 passengers has been “interdicted” by Israeli commandos 85 miles from the Gaza coast and towed to Ashdod. The three other vessels in the flotilla turned back and another big-hearted mission ended “with a whimper”.
Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon called his operation to deprive desperate, poverty stricken Gazans a “success”. The Marianne‘s passengers would be be deported. “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” he added.
Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “This flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting Hamas and ignores all of the horrors in our region”, and he added that a panel established by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon determined that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is lawful.
“Israel is a democracy that defends itself in accordance with international law.” He stressed there was no “siege” of Gaza,
There’s no siege of Gaza, no humanitarian crisis? Anyone who’s been there knows Netanyahu and Ya’alon are liars.
The Freedom Flotilla Coalition said on Monday that at around 2:00am the Marianne reported that she was surrounded by three Israel Navy boats in international waters some 100 nautical miles from the Gaza coast. Radio contact was then lost. In a statement they said:
We have no reason to believe that Marianne’s capture was ‘uneventful’, because the last time the IDF said something like that, in 2012, the people on board the Estelle were badly tasered and beaten with clubs. Back in 2010, ten passengers of Mavi Marmara were murdered by the IDF during a similar operation in international waters.
“Reckless to travel to Gaza”
Britain has ‘form’ when it comes to disregarding international law and keeping the Israeli blockade going. Back in July 2009, I received a letter from the office of Britain’s then foreign secretary, David Miliband, in reply to questions about Israel’s hijacking of the mercy ship Spirit of Humanity on the high seas and the outrageous treatment of six peace-loving British citizens including the skipper. They were en route to Gaza, not Israel, had their gear stolen or damaged and were thrown into Israeli jails. The letter said:
All those on board, including six British nationals, were handed over to Israeli immigration officials. British consular officials had good access to the British detainees and established that they were treated well.
That’s not the story the peaceful seafarers told. They were assaulted, put in fear for their lives and deprived of their liberty for fully a week – a long time in a stinking Israeli jail – for committing no offence whatsoever.
The letter continued:
The Foreign Secretary said in the House of Commons on 30 June that it was ‘vital that all states respect international law, including the law of the sea’… We regularly remind the Israeli government of its obligations under international law on a variety of issues, including with respect to humanitarian access to Gaza as well as Israel’s control of Gazan waters…
Our Travel Advice makes clear that we advise against all travel to Gaza, including its offshore waters; that it is reckless to travel to Gaza at this time…
So, instead of keeping the seaways open, it seems the British Government was colluding with Israel to keep part of the Holy Land off-limits to British pilgrims, humanitarians and businesspeople and implicating itself in the collective punishment inflicted by the Israeli regime on the citizens of Gaza.
A year later the Mavi Marmara was the target for armed assault on the high seas by Israeli commandos, who left 9 passengers dead and dozens injured. The vessel was part of the Free Gaza flotilla. When reports were coming in that Israeli gunboats had “intercepted” the flotilla 90 miles out to sea and threatened humanitarian workers that they would be boarded and towed to an Israeli port, I emailed Britain’s then deputy prime minister Nick Clegg: “Where is the Royal Navy when it’s needed to protect life and limb of the 30-odd British nationals?”
Ministers had themselves received advanced warning of Israel’s intention to stop the flotilla “by any means”, and the British people wanted their government to do them proud and provide real protection for those brave souls in their peaceful mission to bring relief to Palestinians whose lives were made a living hell by the bully-boys of the Middle East.
They were, after all, only doing the right thing… doing what the West’s cowardly leaders wet their pants at the very thought of doing.
Blockade “unacceptable and unsustainable”. So why is it still in place 9 years later?
A few months earlier, in the run-up to the general election, Clegg had written in The Guardian:
…And what has the British government and the international community done to lift the blockade? Next to nothing. Tough-sounding declarations are issued at regular intervals but little real pressure is applied. It is a scandal that the international community has sat on its hands in the face of this unfolding crisis.
But Clegg, now in power and able to act, was as wimpy as every senior minister before him when put to the test:
The Government was very clear in its disapproval of the Israeli actions which ended in such heavy and tragic loss of life.
We have underlined the need for a full, credible, impartial and independent investigation into the events… Israel’s announcement of an inquiry headed by former Supreme Court judge Yaakov Tirkel is an important step forward….
These events… arose from the unacceptable and unsustainable blockade of Gaza…. It has long been the view of the Government that restrictions on Gaza should be lifted – a view confirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 1860, which called for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and called on states to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation persisting there.
It is essential that there is unfettered access – not only to meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, but to enable the reconstruction of homes and livelihoods and permit trade to take place.
It was then — and still is now — pointless calling for the blockade to be lifted. Israel’s repeated promises to “ease it” are purely cosmetic. In 2010 incoming goods to Gaza rose by a miserable 7 or 8% while the block on exports remained. That’s all the West’s feeble hand-wringing achieved.
UN Security Council Resolution 1860 (America abstained on Israel’s orders, according to former prime minister Ehud Olmert) called for the reopening of crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. To this day there is no sign of Israeli compliance.
The following year, 2011, MP Caroline Lucas quizzed foreign secretary William Hague in the Commons, as recorded by Hansard (29 June)….
Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion): Earlier today, Palestine solidarity groups, politicians, teachers and others marked the anniversary of the attacks on the Free Gaza flotilla last year by sailing down the river outside Parliament and marking the launch of a new Free Gaza flotilla. As the Foreign Secretary has previously said that the situation in Gaza is unacceptable and unsustainable, will he tell us what further action he is taking to help get the siege lifted, and will he do everything that he can to get guarantees that this new flotilla will be safe from attack?
Mr Hague: We have continued to take the action that I set out in the House last year. We have urged Israel greatly to improve access to Gaza. It has taken some steps, but those steps have not been as fruitful as we had hoped when they were set out. Egypt has now opened an important crossing into Gaza, which may also provide some relief. The answer relies on the general lifting of a blockade of Gaza and on a negotiated two-state solution in the middle east. However, embarking on new flotillas is not the way in which to bring that about. We advise against all travel to Gaza by British nationals, which includes people who may be thinking of boarding a flotilla to go there. We hope that Israel will make only a proportionate response to any such flotilla, but it is, none the less, not the way in which to sort out the problems of the middle east. Such problems require negotiations in good faith by the parties concerned.
Hague’s answer might have been written by Israeli speech writers. He insisted that flotillas were “not the way”. Well, what is? The proper way to break a siege, which the UN itself calls “illegal and contrary to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention”, is surely for the UN to apply sanctions. Failing that, the right thing would be for UN warships to break the siege… or for international civil society to do it escorted by UN warships or by warships belonging to the nation(s) of the flagged humanitarian vessels threatened with piratical aggression.
The proper way for Israel to avoid trouble would be to end its illegal blockade of Gaza and its illegal occupation of the rest of Palestine, and not interfere with humanitarians going about their lawful business.
As for “negotiations in good faith”, when did they ever happen?
A year after Israel’s murderous assault on the Mavi Marmara Hague was making more daft remarks in the House of Commons:
• “Our clear advice to British nationals is not to travel to Gaza.” Music to Israel’s ears, of course, as Hague helped to legitimize the illegal sea blockade..
• “Their welfare [meaning the British nationals on board] is our top priority.” Hague knew of Israel’s intention to go to any lengths, including the use of lethal force, to stop the mercy ships but took no precautionary action.
• He referred to “individuals who are allegedly involved in violence against Israeli servicemen during the boarding”, but failed to grasp that the violence was committed by Israeli storm-troopers dropping from helicopters with guns blazing under cover of darkness in international waters.
• “Restrictions on Gaza should be lifted – a view confirmed in United Nations Security Council resolution 1860.” Bravo, he gets that bit right. But Resolution 1860 goes much further and calls for the sustained reopening of crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, which provides for:
– the reduction of obstacles to movement within the West Bank
– bus and truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza
– the building of a new seaport in Gaza
– re-opening of the airport in Gaza
When did we see any of that happen?
Hague was challenged by Sir Gerald Kaufman, the straight-talking Jewish MP, who pointed out that any one of the 37 UK citizens might have been killed when the Israelis “committed a war crime of piracy in international waters, kidnapping and murder—and all in pursuit of upholding an illegal blockade on Gaza that amounts to collective punishment…” He asked Mr Hague for his assurance that further steps would be taken if the Israelis failed to comply with the modest request that had been made.
But Hague sidestepped, saying: “It is our strong advice to British nationals, as it has been in the past and will be in the future, not to travel to Gaza — let me make that absolutely clear — as they would be going into a dangerous situation, but it is absolutely wrong to maintain the blockade.”
MP Jeremy Corbyn asked if it wasn’t time for sanctions such as revoking the EU-Israel trade agreement. Hague replied that he did not think imposing sanctions was the right policy either – but gave no reason.
MP Frank Dobson suggested that Britain and the other European members of NATO should give naval protection if another flotilla were to set off for Gaza, with the Royal Navy reverting to its traditional role of protecting the freedom of the seas. Hague dismissed this too.
As usual, no consequences for Israel’s crimes were contemplated. And the Government chicken coop happily clucked its approval as Hague handed the Israelis total victory. Today, five years on, Israel is making the same threats and committing the same acts of piracy against the latest flotilla.
Legal or not?
Israel’s naval blockade is illegal and so was Israel’s interception of the Mavi Marmara and other Gaza-bound vessels in international waters in May 2010. So said the United Nations fact-finding mission set up by the Human Rights Council.
The Mission’s team, chaired by Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, QC, a retired Judge of the International Criminal Court, reported they were “satisfied that the blockade was inflicting disproportionate damage upon the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and that as such the interception could not be justified and therefore has to be considered illegal…
The Mission considers that one of the principal motives behind the imposition of the blockade was a desire to punish the people of the Gaza Strip for having elected Hamas. The combination of this motive and the effect of the restrictions on the Gaza Strip leave no doubt that Israel’s actions and policies amount to collective punishment as defined by international law… No case can be made for the legality of the interception and the Mission therefore finds that the interception was illegal.
That wasn’t all. The naval blockade was implemented in support of the overall closure regime.
As such it was part of a single disproportionate measure of armed conflict and as such cannot itself be found proportionate. Furthermore, the closure regime is considered by the Mission to constitute collective punishment of the people living in the Gaza Strip and thus to be illegal and contrary to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Intercepting the Mavi Marmara on the high seas was “clearly unlawful” and could not be justified even under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations [the right of self-defence].
The Centre for Constitutional Rights also concluded that the Israeli blockade was illegal under international law:
Due both to the legal nature of Israel’s relationship to Gaza – that of occupier – and the impact of the blockade on the civilian population, amounting to ‘collective punishment’, the blockade cannot be reconciled with the principles of international law, including international humanitarian law. It is recalled that the international community, speaking through both the United Nations and individual States, has repeatedly and emphatically called for an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The flotilla did not seek to travel to Israel, let alone ‘attack’ Israel. Furthermore, the flotilla did not constitute an act which required an ‘urgent’ response, such that Israel had to launch a middle-of-the-night armed boarding… Israel could also have diplomatically engaged Turkey, arranged for a third party to verify there were no weapons onboard and then peacefully guided the vessel to Gaza.
Craig Murray was Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and responsible for giving political and legal clearance to Royal Navy boarding operations in the Persian Gulf following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, in enforcement of the UN authorised blockade against Iraqi weapons shipments. He is therefore an internationally recognized authority on these matters. Referring to the participation of an American boat he said:
Right of free passage is guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, to which the United States is a full party. Any incident which takes place upon a US flagged ship on the High Seas is subject to United States legal jurisdiction. A ship is entitled to look to its flag state for protection from attack on the High Seas…
Israel has declared a blockade on Gaza and justified previous fatal attacks on neutral civilian vessels on the High Seas in terms of enforcing that embargo, under the legal cover given by the San Remo Manual of International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea. There are however fundamental flaws in this line of argument. It falls completely on one fact alone. San Remo only applies to blockade in times of armed conflict. Israel is not currently engaged in an armed conflict, and presumably does not wish to be. San Remo does not confer any right to impose a permanent blockade outwith times of armed conflict, and in fact specifically excludes as illegal a general blockade on an entire population.
Sporadic attacks from Gaza did not come close to reaching the bar of armed conflict that would trigger the right to impose a naval blockade, he said. When the UK suffered continued terrorist attack from the IRA (Irish Republican Army), sustaining many more deaths than anything Israel has suffered in recent years from Gaza, it would have been ridiculous to argue that the UK had a right to mount a general naval blockade of the Republic of Ireland.
The EU Commission declared that “all those wishing to deliver goods to Gaza should do so through established channels”. The “established channel” for delivering goods to Gaza is, of course, the time-honoured route by sea, which is protected by maritime and international law. Flotilla organizers have offered their cargoes for inspection and verification by a trusted third party to allay Israel’s fears about weapon supplies. They should not have to deal direct with the belligerent regime that’s cruelly turning the screws on civilians with an illegal blockade. Anyone suggesting they must hand over their cargo to the aggressor seeks to legitimize the blockade, which we all know to be illegal and a crime against humanity.
Quite simply, an attack on civilian ships carrying humanitarian assistance to Gaza cannot be justified by the existence of a blockade that violates international law. So Israel doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Nor does the cowardly British Government. Nor do the 80 percent of Conservative MPs and MEPs who, for whatever dark reasons, love and adore the abhorrent Israeli regime and the war criminals who run it. Therefore “all good men and true” should rally to support those brave humanitarian voyagers and ensure their governments back their play in future.
The UK government approved £4 million worth of arms sales to Israel in the immediate months following the Israeli government’s military bombardment of Gaza last summer, new research reveals.
Detailed analysis published Thursday indicates that the related arms licenses cover military hardware likely to be deployed if violence in the besieged coastal strip resumes.
Among the arms sales Britain presided over were special components for military helicopters and a range of hi-tech parts for guidance and navigation systems used by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
The former Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government also approved arms licenses for a slew of third-party states that sell weapons to Israel. These particular licenses covered the sale of components for military communications equipment, helicopters used in combat and ground-to-ground missiles.
The controversial revelations formed part of a report authored by David Wearing, a researcher at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS). A member of Campaign Against the Arms Trade’s (CAAT) steering committee, Wearing’s work focuses on domestic and international politics.
The research, “Arming Apartheid: UK Complicity in Israel’s Crimes Against the Palestinian People,” analyses how Britain’s arming of Israel renders it complicit in grievous human rights violations.
CAAT’s Andrew Smith said the revelations published in the report showed it was “business as usual” with Israel for the UK government.
“More than 2,000 people died in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, and yet in the months immediately following the conflict it was business as usual for the UK government and the arms companies they support,” he said.
Smith said that Britain continues to sell arms to Israel, despite the Israeli administration’s continued violation of international law.
“The continuation of arms sales represents a form of political as well as material support from the UK to Israel despite the construction of the ‘apartheid wall’ in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements there and the ongoing blockade of Gaza,” he said.
Palestine Solidarity Campaign director Sarah Colborne said the British state is arming an “apartheid” regime. She argued Palestinians will not be freed from Israeli occupation, discrimination, and bloodshed until sanctions are imposed on Israel.
Ryvka Barnard, a senior campaigner on militarism and security at War on Want, said the Arming Apartheid study highlights Britain’s complicity in “Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people.”
She argued that the global campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel has become more vital than ever.
“Only a full two-way arms embargo can ensure the UK will no longer be complicit in Israeli state crimes and abuses,” he said.
Report author Wearing says ministers’ suggestion that British controls on arms exports are tightly controlled “do not stand up to scrutiny.”
“Any real restriction comes from the embarrassment of bad publicity, and then only in the wake of a conflict, too late for the Palestinians affected,” he added.
Britain has a history of unethical arms sales to Israel.
A ministerial statement issued in April 2009 by the then-Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband confirmed that Israeli military wares used in the 2008-9 Gaza conflict “almost certainly” contained UK-supplied components.
The document was sent to the anti-arms charity after it launched a legal challenge against then-Secretary of State for Business, Innovations and Skills Vince Cable in 2014.
Last summer’s Israel-Palestine conflict culminated in the killing of an estimated 2,000 Palestinians [mostly civilians]. Israel, by contrast, suffered the deaths of 64 soldiers and three civilians during the conflict.
1. Email your MP to demand a two-way arms embargo against Israel.
2. Order campaign materials and book a speaker.
3. Target the companies profiting from Israel’s occupation.
Find the suppliers on your doorstep
More than 100 companies supplying military and security equipment to Israel have bases in the UK. Find out about the suppliers on your doorstep.
Block the factory!
During last summer’s assault on Gaza, activists occupied Israeli arms company Elbit’s factory in Shenstone, causing its operations to grind to a halt and costing Elbit over £100,000. On 6th July, to mark the first anniversary of the assault on Gaza, groups and campaigners from across the UK are going back to Elbit’s factory to demand that the UK stops arming Israel. Join a day of creative action in solidarity with Palestine!
4. Support BDS
Support the Palestinian call for a global movement of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. Visit waronwant.org/BDS
Recently Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg sent a letter to the UN Security Council demanding that Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria end the use of barrel bombs. The foreign ministry of a European country that still maintains a diplomatic presence in Damascus, one of the few, asked for the opinion of its embassy on the matter. The embassy recommended to sign the letter: barrel bombs are indiscriminate and kill an awful lot of civilians. But the embassy also advised its government to condemn the opposition’s use of improvised mortar bombs (known as “hell cannons”) against the neighborhoods under government control. Diplomats say that the rebels have specifically targeted Christian areas for their perceived support for the Assad regime. Back in Europe, the foreign ministry officials admitted that they “haven’t heard anything” about the “hell cannons.”
This is only one example of how dysfunctional EU policy toward Syria has become, as a European Parliament (EP) delegation that visited Lebanon in mid-June learned. An early EU decision to cut off all ties with the Assad regime has not been vindicated by the developments on the ground. Not only has the regime survived, but radical jihadist elements have increasingly dominated the opposition to Assad. The EU, however, failed to modify its strategy accordingly. As a result, regional actors with often disruptive and sectarian agendas have taken center stage. And individual EU member states have also pursued their own policies, which are not necessarily in the interests of the EU as a whole.
The latest example of the distorting influence of the regional actors is the Syrian opposition’s failure to accept the “freeze plan” in Aleppo and surrounding areas proposed by the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan De Mistura as a first step toward a negotiated solution. In the UN assessment, the opposition´s foreign sponsors—mainly Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan—bear primary responsibility for this failure, because they have insisted on removing Assad from power as a pre-condition to any agreements.
Such a position is not new. What is new, however, is that these sponsors do not hide anymore that they work directly with Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda´s affiliate in Syria. They still pretend, however, that al-Nusra is the face of the “moderate opposition,” even though this assertion stems from a PR operation, widely believed to be Qatari-driven and carried out in Western mainstream media and think-tanks. An interview al-Nusra’s chief Al-Golani gave to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera was part of this PR campaign, but it backfired when Al-Golani made it clear that al-Nusra is al-Qaeda and expressed borderline genocidal views on Alawites.
The Dangers of Supporting Jihad
To make matters more complicated, even those rebel groups that are not part of al-Nusra, espouse deeply troubling views. According to a credible UN source in Damascus, a fighter from an obscure group Jaysh al-Ababil active in Syria´s south, has reported that “Syrian people deserve a democracy like in Saudi Arabia.” He boasted that the group “gets anything it needs” from Jordan and that a major offensive to take Damascus from the south, as well as the north, will be launched “very soon.”
If the US and EU had real strategy to end the war they would, in addition to pressuring Assad, demand that their regional allies curb the flow of weapons and recruits to terrorist groups. But they can’t credibly do that, since they are involved in this effort themselves. According to Conflicts Forum, the southern rebel front is managed from US Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan, which is run jointly by American, Jordanian, Saudi, Qatari, and British officers. … Full article
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fancied the violent 2011 “regime change” in Libya such a triumph that her aides discussed labeling it the start of a “Clinton Doctrine,” according to recently released emails that urged her to claim credit when longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was deposed. And Clinton did celebrate when Gaddafi was captured and murdered.
“We came; we saw; he died,” Clinton exulted in a TV interview after receiving word of Gaddafi’s death on Oct. 20, 2011, though it is not clear how much she knew about the grisly details, such as Gaddafi being sodomized with a knife before his execution.
Since then, the cascading Libyan chaos has turned the “regime change” from a positive notch on Clinton’s belt and into a black mark on her record. That violence has included the terrorist slaying of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. diplomatic personnel in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, and jihadist killings across northern Africa, including the Islamic State’s decapitation of a group of Coptic Christians last February.
It turns out that Gaddafi’s warning about the need to crush Islamic terrorism in Libya’s east was well-founded although the Obama administration cited it as the pretext to justify its “humanitarian intervention” against Gaddafi. The vacuum created by the U.S.-led destruction of Gaddafi and his army drew in even more terrorists and extremists, forcing the United States and Western nations to abandon their embassies in Tripoli a year ago.
One could argue that those who devised and implemented the disastrous Libyan “regime change” – the likes of Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power – should be almost disqualified from playing any future role in U.S. foreign policy. Instead, Clinton is the Democratic frontrunner to succeed Barack Obama as President and Power was promoted from Obama’s White House staff to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations — where she is at the center of other dangerous U.S. initiatives in seeking “regime change” in Syria and pulling off “regime change” in Ukraine.
In fairness, however, it should be noted that it has been the pattern in Official Washington over the past few decades for hawkish “regime change” advocates to fail upwards. With only a few exceptions, the government architects and the media promoters of the catastrophic Iraq War have escaped meaningful accountability and continue to be leading voices in setting U.S. foreign policy.
A Dubious Validation
In August 2011, Secretary of State Clinton saw the Libyan “regime change” as a resounding validation of her foreign policy credentials, according to the emails released this week and described at the end of a New York Times article by Michael S. Schmidt.
According to one email chain, her longtime friend and personal adviser Sidney Blumenthal praised the military success of the bombing campaign to destroy Gaddafi’s army and hailed the dictator’s impending ouster.
“First, brava! This is a historic moment and you will be credited for realizing it,” Blumenthal wrote on Aug. 22, 2011. “When Qaddafi himself is finally removed, you should of course make a public statement before the cameras wherever you are, even in the driveway of your vacation home. … You must go on camera. You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment. … The most important phrase is: ‘successful strategy.’”
Clinton forwarded Blumenthal’s advice to Jake Sullivan, a close State Department aide. “Pls read below,” she wrote. “Sid makes a good case for what I should say, but it’s premised on being said after Q[addafi] goes, which will make it more dramatic. That’s my hesitancy, since I’m not sure how many chances I’ll get.”
Sullivan responded, saying “it might make sense for you to do an op-ed to run right after he falls, making this point. … You can reinforce the op-ed in all your appearances, but it makes sense to lay down something definitive, almost like the Clinton Doctrine.”
However, when Gaddafi abandoned Tripoli that day, President Obama seized the moment to make a triumphant announcement. Clinton’s opportunity to highlight her joy at the Libyan “regime change” had to wait until Oct. 20, 2011, when Gaddafi was captured, tortured and murdered.
In a TV interview, Clinton celebrated the news when it appeared on her cell phone and even paraphrased Julius Caesar’s famous line after Roman forces achieved a resounding victory in 46 B.C. and he declared, “veni, vidi, vici” – “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Clinton’s reprise of Caesar’s boast went: “We came; we saw; he died.” She then laughed and clapped her hands.
Presumably, the “Clinton Doctrine” would have been a policy of “liberal interventionism” to achieve “regime change” in countries where there is some crisis in which the leader seeks to put down an internal security threat and where the United States objects to the action.
Of course, the Clinton Doctrine would be selective. It would not apply to brutal security crackdowns by U.S.-favored governments, say, Israel attacking Gaza or the Kiev regime in Ukraine slaughtering ethnic Russians in the east. But it’s likely, given the continuing bloodshed in Libya, that Hillary Clinton won’t be touting the “Clinton Doctrine” in her presidential campaign.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
There has never been a dime’s worth of difference between the Clintons (Bill and Hillary) and Barack Obama, and less than ten cents separates the worldviews of these Democratic political twins from the Bush wing of the Republican Party.
Each has their individual quirks. Barack destroys international order and the rule of law while dabbling at song; Bill dismantled the U.S. manufacturing base and threw record numbers of Blacks in prison as he toyed with his trumpet; George W. played the fool who would Shock and Awe the world into obedience; and Hillary is the evil crone that curses the dead while screaming “We are Woman” like a banshee. But they are all the same in their corporate soullessness.
They all lie for a living, and they live to lie. Hillary Clinton commingled official and personal criminality through the medium of email. Knowing that, in a life dedicated to crime, she could never successfully sequester her private and public conspiracies, Hillary privatized all of her email correspondence during her tenure as Obama’s Secretary of State (in the perfect spirit of neoliberalism). The fate of millions of Haitians whose country’s earthquake and development “aid” are under the Clinton family thumb were doubtless bundled into the tens of thousands of messages she erased on leaving Foggy Bottom.
Republicans have harassed her ever since, seeking an electronic smoking gun to show Clinton’s cowardice or lack of resolve to “stand up for America” and “our troops” or some other nonsense. What the Benghazi affair actually proves is that the Obama administration was just as intent as the Republicans to maintain the fiction that the “rebels” put in power by seven months of NATO bombing of Libya were not various flavors of Islamic jihadists – some of whom were already turning on their erstwhile masters. The U.S.-Saudi project to create and nurture the international jihadist network is a bipartisan venture that dates back to Jimmy Carter’s presidency – and, therefore, nothing for Democrats and Republicans to fight about. However, the GOP’s churning of Clinton’s emails does provide a glimpse into her quest to run for president in 2016 as the woman who vanquished Muammar Gaddafi (“Qaddafi” or simply “Q” in Clinton’s usage).
A number of Clinton’s correspondences were with Sidney Blumenthal, a former Clinton family spin-master who wrote nasty things about Barack Obama while working for Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign – which made it impossible for her to hire him at the State Department. Nevertheless, Clinton needed his talents for hype for the campaign ahead. Their emails in the summer of 2011 discussed how Hillary’s status as stateswoman could soar when the Libyan leader was finally eliminated. “This is a historic moment and you will be credited for realizing it,” wrote Blumenthal, feeding the crone’s huge gizzard of ego, according to an article in Monday’s New York Times. “You must go on camera,” wrote Blumenthal. “You must establish yourself in the historical record at this moment.” Hillary was anxious to seize the time to establish what Blumenthal described as “the Clinton Doctrine.”
The Times piece somehow concludes that Obama stole Clinton’s thunder with an 1,100-word speech, in late August, declaring: “The Gaddafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people.” But Hillary best expressed the ghoulishness of America’s ruling duopoly two months later, in October, when Gaddafi was savagely butchered by screaming jihadists. “We came, we saw, he died,” cackled the banshee.
In the annals of global diplomacy, no more vulgar words have been spoken by a major power foreign minister or head of state. Yet, Clinton’s calculated quip perfectly encapsulates the bloodlust that is the common characteristic of both the governing duopoly of the United States and their suckling children in ISIS and the other proliferating al Qaida factions.
Thanks to Seymour Hersh, we now have a much more plausible scenario for the May 2, 2011, demise of Osama bin Laden, the “OG” of the U.S.-Saudi spawned global jihad, whose body will never be located. Virtually the entire U.S. account of his death is a lie, repeatedly contradicted on its own terms – another layer of fictional Americana in the age of empire in decline.
Clinton was hard-pressed to imagine how she might trump the president’s bin Laden death-watch extravaganza. Her opportunity came five months later, when she delivered her gruesome paraphrase of Julius Caesar on the occasion of Col. Gaddafi’s murder. In the context of Washington’s deeply racist foreign policy, Gaddafi and bin Laden were equally deserving of death, although Gaddafi was among the most fervent and effective fighters against Islamic jihadists: his government was the first in the world to request a global arrest warrant against bin Laden.
The Libyan Islamists were quickly transferred to the new U.S.-NATO-Saudi-Qatari front lines in Syria. The CIA station in Benghazi was at the center of the action – and got burned in the wild and unwieldy process of herding jihadists, who find it difficult to take orders from “infidels,” even when the “Crusaders” are paying the bills and supplying the weapons.
The U.S. consulate and CIA station in Benghazi were attacked on September 11, 2012. The next day, the Pentagon’s intelligence agency issued a report predicting that a “Salafist principality” – another term for an Islamic State – would likely arise in Syria as a result of the war, and that “Western countries, the Gulf States and Turkey are supporting these efforts.” Moreover, the establishment of such an Islamic “principality” would create “the ideal atmosphere for AQI [al Qaida in Iraq, which became ISIS, ISIL and the Islamic State] to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi” in Iraq – events that have since transpired.
The Defense Intelligence Agency report didn’t say so, but the “Western Powers” included the United States, through its CIA.
The document was declassified this year as the result of a suit by a libertarian right-wing legal outfit. The people of the world continue to be fed the fiction that the U.S. is engaged in a long, twilight struggle against al Qaida Salafists whose international network was created by, and continues to benefit from, “Western countries, the Gulf States and Turkey.”
However, the 2012 Pentagon warning about the rise of an Islamic State may have had some effect on U.S. policy in Syria. One year later, in September of 2013, President Obama backed off from his threat to bomb Syria in “retaliation” for a chemical missile attack against civilians – a crime much more likely committed by western-backed Salafists. The conventional wisdom is that the Russians tricked a hapless Secretary of State John Kerry into agreeing to the peaceful, internationally supervised destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal; or that the refusal of Britain’s Parliament to go along with an air assault on Syria made the U.S. position untenable; or that Obama feared losing a vote on the issue in the U.S. Congress. None of this rings true to me. The United States is not easily deterred by the opinions of Europeans, who in the end accept Washington’s acts as a fait accompli. And, it was not clear that Obama would have lost the vote in Congress – a vote that he requested, while at the same time declaring that he did not need the legislature’s permission to “punish” Syria for crossing his “red line.”
I think that high Pentagon officials and elements of the Obama administration – probably including the president, himself – took the Benghazi disaster and the Defense Intelligence Agency report to heart, and decided that it was better to keep bleeding the Syrians and their Russian, Lebanese and Iranian allies through a prolonged war, than to bomb al Qaida into power. For the U.S., regional chaos is preferable to the triumph of the, ultimately, unmanageable Salafists – unchained.
The thirty-plus year war against Iran would, however, be ratcheted up. The Bush administration was snatched back from the brink of a military assault against Teheran in 2007 when – to the great consternation of Vice President Dick Cheney – all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies declared, publicly and unanimously, that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program, years before.
The spooks reaffirmed their consensus in the 2010 National Intelligence Estimate – again, that there was no evidence Iran has any intention of making a bomb. The Obama administration has since avoided asking the intelligence agencies for their analysis on the issue, knowing they would get the same answer. Instead, they rely on Israeli propaganda, pick and choose various “experts” from inside and outside the arms control “community,” or simply put forward unsupported statements on Iran’s capabilities and intentions: the Big Lie. While Bush was humiliated by facts supplied by his own intelligence experts, Obama has escalated the confrontation with Iran, applying crippling sanctions and the whole range of low-level warfare, in close collaboration with Israel – proving, once again, that Obama is the “more effective evil.”
Obama has nearly completed knocking off victims on the “hit list” of countries that George Bush was working on when General Wesley Clark ran across it in 2002. Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Somalia have been invaded since then, and Sudan was stripped of a third of its territory. Only Iran and Lebanon remain intact and outside the U.S. imperial umbrella.
The Republican-Democratic duopoly plays tag-team in promoting the Project for a New American Century – a doctrine promulgated by neo-conservatives in 1997 that has served as the guiding light of both the Bush and Obama administrations. The differences between the two teams are merely rhetorical. The Bush regime is described as “unilateralist,” although it employed the same “Coalition of the Willing” approach to aggressive war as does the Obama administration. President Obama claims the right to disregard and methodically undermine international law through “humanitarian” military intervention, whereas Bush claimed to be “spreading democracy.” Same weapons systems, same mass murder, same objective: U.S. domination of the planet.
There’s nothing democratic or humanitarian about the U.S. imperial project. Therefore, its maintenance requires the deployment of 24-7 psychological operations worldwide, but directed primarily against the U.S. public.
Republican strategist Karl Rove was far more honest than his Democratic counterparts when he explained to a reporter, back in 2004:
We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
Election seasons are reality-creation festivals, during which the two corporate parties pretend to put forward different visions of the national and global destiny – when, in fact, they answer to the same master and must pursue the same general strategy.
The continuity of GOP-Democratic rule – the near-identical depravity – is horrifically evident in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where six million people have been slaughtered by U.S. surrogates since 1996: the largest genocide since World War II. Successive U.S. administrations – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, assisted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, the high U.S. official most deeply implicated in the entirety of the genocide – have armed, financed, and covered up the Congolese holocaust. Each administration has collaborated with its predecessor to hide the crime and obscure the question of guilt – and then to continue the killing.
Decent people do not vote for political parties that produce such fiends, who deserve Nuremburg justice of the capital kind. Any talk of “lesser evils” is both stupid and obscene.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Having liberally assassinated journalists in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya Pentagon has done the logical next step and openly wrote the practice into its code of conduct
Four weeks into NATO’s 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia American bombs slammed into Belgrade’s main television station massacring 16 employees of Serbia’s state television broadcaster (RTS).
All killed were civilians but these were the 1990s. Sloban Milošević was “Adolph Hitler” and Serbs were “his willing executioners”.* Serbian civilian deaths didn’t matter. Thus BOOM! Program director dead, security guard dead, electrician dead, cameraman dead, sound technician dead, make up lady dead…
Tony Blair and a host of NATO spokespeople appeared before cameras to explain these people deserved to die – they were part of Milošević’s “machinery of hate”. No bombs hit them in turn.
RTS had been covering Serbia’s civilian deaths caused by NATO but this wasn’t the reason it was hit – as said nobody really cared and besides RTS had been taken off satellite by NATO and could no longer broadcast beyond Yugoslavia. However, NATO’s strategy in the war had been to make the life of Serbian civilians so miserable they would beg Milošević to capitulate – and RTS’ mix of airing patriotic music videos and reports of NATO carnage was doing a decent job of propping up Serb morale and resolve.
RTS was interfering with NATO’s strategy – it was giving the Serbian populace a measure of comfort and strength – this made it a top target of those who needed it broken.
Stretchering a victim of RTS bombing, April 23, 1999
Next stop Iraq. April 8th 2003 American tanks finally smashed into downtown Baghdad – Iraq had been conquered. Americans marked the occasion by opening fire on journalists in three separate locations in the city.
Offices of Qatar’s Al-Jazeera were hit by an air strike. Offices of United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi satellite channel likewise. Finally a US tank fired into the Palestine Hotel – Bagdad’s more well-known hotel and a well-known base for foreign journalists. In all Americans’ attacks on journalists that day killed three and wounded four.
This was just the beginning. Iraq became a veritable killing ground for journalists including due to attacks by American occupiers. In the first two years of the occupation alone 13 journalists are known to have been killed by American fire.
Most famously in 2007 a US helicopter crew deliberately gunned down two Iraqi reporters for Reuters along with a dozen other civilians – this was the so called “collateral murder” incident later brought to light and made famous by WikiLeaks.
Throughout the Iraq occupation US bitterly complained about reporting done by Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah. It accused them of inflaming the Arab street against the US and helping to fuel the Sunni resistance in Iraq.
The two were repeatedly banned from reporting from Iraq by the US-installed government in Baghdad. Likewise in 2004 the US launched the Al-Hurra Arab-language satellite channel to try to rival the two.
Finally, during the 2011 NATO bombing of Libya the alliance repeated its performance during the bombing of Yugoslavia and deliberately took out a Libyan TV compound slaying three journalists.
It may be the case that US military has only now produced a “law of war manual” explaining its policy of killing journalists, but it is the case it has been at it for at least 15 years.
The thing to understand is that Pentagon has convinced itself that media has dealt it its greatest defeat in history – the hugely traumatic loss in the Vietnam War. In Pentagon’s retelling of the Vietnam debacle journalists delivered a fatal stab in the back of a war effort that was on the cusp of turning things around.
The problem according to US military wasn’t so much US atrocities and real strategic setbacks, but the fact the knowledge of these was spread by journalists to the people at home.
Vietnam – the high tide of American war reporting
That is to say the main lesson Pentagon drew from the Vietnam War was the need to control information coming out from the war zone. Military thinkers spent the next two decades thinking about the ways to accomplish this and eventually perfected it into an art form.
Thus the highly managed and highly favorable coverage of US military invasion of Iraq – served up by embeded journalists assigned to this or that unit of the US military. But if embedding journalists showed to just what degree they may be tamed it also served to highlight how unfriendly and dangerous (at least in the Pentagon’s imagination) the remaining independent journalists were by comparison.
In Pentagon’s thinking an independent journalist threatens its control of information coming out of the war zone and therefore threatens “the mission” – that above all is what really makes him a “legitimate” target.
The rest, the nonsense about “unprivileged belligerents” and what not – that’s just sophistry and mumbo jumbo to obscure the fact that US military – the armed force of the “land of the free and the home of the brave” believes in murdering civilian non-combatants.
* Serbs had been so thoroughly collectively demonized in the west that the neocon Charles Krauthammer could openly complain from the pages of Washington Post that the bombing wasn’t killing enough Serbian civilians and the liberal interventionist Thomas Friedman could call from the pages of The New York Times for Serbia to be bombed back into the Middle Ages and spark no mainstream outrage whatsoever. Link
It seems as if Israel is about to regurgitate the script which reads that it is debating whether or not to retain its membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Following the publication of the council’s inquiry report on last year’s Operation Protective Edge, which deemed that both Israel and Palestinian resistance factions may have committed war crimes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, during a closed meeting held on Monday, that a re-evaluation of Israel’s membership of the UN organisation will take place. “As a result of the report, we will consider whether to remain or to leave the council,” he was quoted by the Times of Israel.
The UNHRC report, which Israel slammed as biased, employed the usual diplomatic jargon that absolved, rather than accused, the settler-colonial state of war-crimes, despite the extensive destruction, targeted killings and massacres committed by the Israeli military in Gaza last summer (and on previous occasions).
In March 2012, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced the decision to cut ties with the UNHRC, citing Palestinian “diplomatic terrorism” when the council announced a probe into Israel’s settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The move was supported by the US, which was the only country that had voted against the UN proposal to investigate Israel’s illegal colonial expansion. Since then, Israel has utilised the UNHRC as part of its propaganda campaign to enhance its self-victimisation; an extension of what Zionism has accomplished historically to embark upon the colonisation process in Palestine.
Last week, Netanyahu uttered ridiculous words that portray clearly the extent of Israel’s contempt even for those organisations that do everything in their power to exonerate Israel through language that is based upon hypothesis: “The report is biased. Israel is not perpetrating war crimes but rather protecting itself from an organisation that carries out war crimes.”
Israel’s fabricated state is built upon a constant litany of war crimes, necessitating violence to sustain its existence, as well as the presence of international organisations that pretend colonialism has been rendered obsolete. As for bias, one need only take note of how the UNHRC attempted to criminalise Palestinian resistance, aiming to propagate an illusion of near-parity in military power between the world’s 4th best equipped army and civilians with not a tank or aircraft to their name. The obviously asymmetric nature of the conflict resulted in a much higher death toll of Palestinian men, women and children due to Israel’s persistent bombardment of Gaza.
The report’s publication has simply confirmed all that unravelled before our eyes during last year’s colonial massacre, albeit leaving space for manipulation in order to retain Israel’s untouchable status. Israel’s pondering whether or not to remain in the council is nothing new. Rather, it should be viewed as another, integral, part of its colonial project, as well as wilful subjugation on behalf of the international community. With every sliver of condemnation, despite the absence of severe repercussions, Israel embarks upon creating hypothetical conflicts which always result in it reaping rewards for its aggression against the Palestinian people.
Whether Israel remains in the council or not is irrelevant. On the contrary, the focus should be on the failure of the UN and other organisations to act according to international law and hold Israel’s very existence accountable for the horrors it has perpetrated against the indigenous population. However, that would require the UN to unravel its disseminated myths, including its denial of the existence of Zionist colonisation, which would in turn deal a blow to an organisation thriving upon the permanence of violence and murder.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly questioned his country’s membership in the United Nation’s Human Rights Council following its recent report on last summer’s Gaza conflict.
The announcement, in which Netanyahu referred to the UNHRC commission as a “hypocritical committee,” was made during a closed-door meeting with top Israeli officials on Monday.
“In light of the [UN Gaza] report, we will consider whether or not to stay in the Human Rights Council,” Netanyahu said, according to Army Radio.
It’s not the first time Israel has been at odds with the Council during the UNHRC’s 9 year-long history. Back in 2012, then-foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman made a decision to quit the council over its probe into Jewish settlements in the West Bank. However, Israel reinstated its membership a year later.
Lieberman, who also was present at Monday’s meeting, reportedly reminded Netanyahu about the precedent. “As foreign minister, I ended Israel’s involvement in the Human Rights Council. Why did you change that decision?” he asked.
On Monday afternoon, about 1,000 people from several European countries, both Jews and Christians, rallied in Geneva to support Israel, as the UN Human Rights Council had another debate on the matter.
“The reason we are here today is to tell the United Nations that it needs to change. It needs to overcome its obsession with Israel. This obsession is destructive and it stands in the way of an effective human rights policy that is so badly needed,” World Jewish Congress (WJC) CEO Robert Singer told demonstrators.
The UN Human Rights Council report on the 2014 Gaza conflict was released last week. It concluded that both Israeli Defense Forces and the Hamas Palestinian group had committed war crimes. The organization also accepted the Palestinian death count, which estimated that 65 percent of those killed in the seige were civilians, or 1,462 out of a total of 2,251 Palestinians killed.
“The report is biased,” Netanyahu said upon the release of the report. “Israel is not perpetrating war crimes but rather protecting itself from an organization that carries out war crimes. We won’t sit back with our arms crossed as our citizens are attacked by thousands of missiles.”
With the case of the Canadian-brokered General Dynamics light armored vehicle sale to the Saudi Arabian government, Canada’s manufacturing sector has become complicit in human rights abuses abroad.
The question of benefit could be framed like this: is General Dynamics employing more people than its equipment is killing?
The Globe and Mail reported that Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International trade said, the deal will help the manufacturing area in London to “become the epicentre of a cross-Canada supply chain directly benefiting more than 500 local Canadian firms… Our government will continue to support our exporters and manufacturers to create jobs, as part of our government’s most ambitious pro-trade, pro-export plan in Canadian history.”
That export plan, justified by job-creation involves the sale of light armoured vehicles, manufactured in Canada that the Globe and Mail describes as having “effective firepower to defeat soft and armored targets… options for mounted guns include a 25-mm cannon and 7.62-mm machine guns and smoke grenade launchers.”
The Ottawa Citizen reports that:
“Canada’s defence industry has beaten out German and French competitors to win a massive contract worth at least $10 billion US to supply armoured military vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
The win was announced by International Trade Minister Ed Fast to cheering workers Friday at a factory in London, Ont., and will go a long way in bolstering the Harper government’s case for transforming Canada into a global arms dealer.
But it also raises many ethical questions that will continue to surface as Canada’s arms industry turns more and more to the volatile Middle East and South America for business.
Canada has previously sold light armoured vehicles (LAVs) like those used by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia, with more than 1,000 delivered to the Middle Eastern kingdom in the early 1990s, and 700 more in 2009.
But the government is touting this latest deal as the largest export contract in Canadian history, with the potential to create and sustain 3,000 jobs in southern Ontario and other parts of the country.
Exactly how many LAVs are being sold to Saudi Arabia was not being revealed, but documents filed in the U.S. by General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada, whose London-based subsidiary will be building the vehicles, put the contract at between $10 billion and $13 billion.
Defence and export industry representatives praised the Conservative government Friday for its role in securing the deal.”
The job creation argument that Canada is using stands even more oddly next to the moral cost of the deal, given Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
Alex Nieve, Secretary General of Amnesty International told the Globe that “[The Saudi government is] known to use armoured vehicles and other weapons in dispersing peaceful protest.”
Jonathan Manthorpe writes for IPolitics that “The Saudi regime is buying these vehicles not to defend the nation from foreign threats, but to protect the regime from Saudis — from internal dissent and demands for reform.”
Hillary Homes of Amnesty told the Globe that “[Saudi Arabia] is among the worst human-rights violators in the world.”
Canada’s support of the Saudi abuse is bad enough, what’s worse is its insistence that working Canadians become participants. The government says it wants this sort of arms manufacturing as the epicentre of a cross-Canada supply chain with connections to over 500 firms. Is that really something Canada wants as an epicentre of any part of its economy?
Let’s consider what that means. If the epicentre of a sector of the manufacturing industry is dependent on the manufacturing of equipment for a third world dictatorship, continued economic progress for that sector would require that government to use that equipment. Canadians would have an interest in the Saudi Arabian government using its old equipment, so it can buy new equipment, made in Canada.
If Amnesty and others are correct, that the equipment that we manufacture will likely be used against civilians and a sector of our economy depends on that manufacturing- that means that a sector of our economy would be dependent on those abuses.
There are good people working in manufacturing. Having their work emanate from third world dictatorships perverts the entire sector. Working people should not be forced to participate in such an exchange, to remain economically viable.
Activists in Britain are planning to block an Israel-linked arms factory to mark one year since Israel’s devastating assault on the Gaza Strip.
In what organisers are billing as “the biggest, most beautiful action” ever seen at a UK arms factory, buses of activists from around the country will descend on Shenstone in the West Midlands on July 6 for “a day of creative action in solidarity with Palestine.”
Last August, during Israel’s attack on Gaza, activists occupied the roof of the UAV Engines Ltd factory in Shenstone, which is owned by the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. The drone engine factory was shut for two days as a result, which activists claim cost the company more than £180,000.
Elbit-produced drones are used by the Israeli military, and were used to conduct attacks during ‘Operation Protective Edge’.
A year on, and activists plan to ‘Block the factory’ on July 6, “transforming the space around the arms factory… into a fun, creative and child-friendly environment.” The focus is on “an inclusive and family friendly affair”, activists say.
The planned action is “part of the wider Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) and the Stop Arming Israel Campaign”, with the latter urging “the UK to end its extensive collaboration with the Israeli weapons industry and to institute a two-way arms embargo.”
Organisers note how “anger and disbelief over last year’s massacre led to widaespread and creative forms of resistance”, including “mass demonstrations, occupations of government buildings and complicit businesses, and growing public pressure on governments and arms companies to stop arming Israel.” The intention is for July 6 to be a continuation of such efforts.
Gaza has been lawlessly blockaded for nine years – entirely for political, not security reasons. Israel wants its 1.8 million people slowly suffocated.
Flotilla III is the latest humanitarian mission bringing vital aid – symbolic of how much more is needed and a call for world leaders to intervene responsibly for suffering Gazans, victimized by Israeli viciousness.
The latest news from Ship to Gaza Sweden reads as follows:
“Marianne and the #FreedomFlotilla right now
Boarded by Israeli navy in international waters
Distance to Gaza: 97 nautical miles
Last known position: 31.716667 latitude, 32.550000 longitude
Position received at: 29 June 00:57 (CET)
Hours earlier, Ship to Gaza’s site reported Marianne’s interdiction in international waters, then taken to Israel’s Ashdod seaport. Activists and international politicians on board include:
Dror Feiler, Sweden: musician and composer
Bassel Ghattas, Israel: Palestinian MK
Dr. Moncef Marzuki, Tunisia: former Tunisian president
Ana Miranda, Spain: European Parliament member
Nadya Kevorkova, Russia: RT International correspondent
Kajsa Ekis Ekman, Sweden: journalist and author
Robert Lovelace, Canada: Queen’s University professor
Ammar Al-Hamdan, Norway: Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent
Mohammed El Bakkail, Morocco: Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent
Ohad Herno, Israel: Israeli TV Channel 2 journalist
Ruwani Perera, New Zealand: MaoriTV journalist
Jacob Bryant, New Zealand: Maori TV journalist
Crew members include: Joel Opperdoes (Sweden) Gustave Bergstrom (Sweden), Herman Reksten (Norway), Kevin Neish (Canada), Jonas Karlin (Sweden), Charlie Andreasson (Sweden)
Three other Flotilla III vessels heading for Gaza changed course and returned to their ports of origin – Rachel, Vittorio and Juliano II.
In total, 47 participants from 17 countries are involved. Their mission is “break(ing) the illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza,” as well as opening the territory to the world. A statement issued said:
“We once again call on the government of Israel to finally lift the blockade on Gaza. Our destination remains the conscience of humanity.”
The Marianne of Gothenburg carried medical equipment and solar panels. Flotilla spokesman Petros Stergiou reported contact with the vessel lost around 2AM local time Monday as three Israeli naval ships approached it.
“What we learned is that the Israeli navy attacked the Marianne about 100 nautical miles from the shore of Gaza,” he said.
Activists on board “said they could see three military boats approaching them that had identified themselves as being military.”
“Once again, the Israeli government and its military acted like state pirates and attacked our boat in international waters,” Stergiou explained. IDF spokesman Peter Lerner called the seizure “uneventful.”
Netanyahu commented as expected, saying “(t)his flotilla is nothing but a demonstration of hypocrisy and lies that is only assisting the Hamas terrorist organization and ignores all of the horrors in our region.”
He congratulated Israeli naval commandos for their high-seas piracy. He lied saying he acted according to international law and support from a “UN Secretary-General committee.”
Defense Secretary Moshe Ya’alon issued a similar statement irresponsibly claiming the mission has “no humanitarian intentions…which instead of caring for Gaza residents, tries to smuggle in weapons (to be) use(d) against Israel and its civilians.”
Fact: Hamas is no “terrorist organization.” It’s Palestine’s democratically elected government.
Fact: Israel and America bear full responsibility for regional “horrors.”
Fact: Palestinians are longstanding victims – along with Iraqis, Libyans, Syrians, Yemenis and others living under monarchal or military dictatorships.
Fact: No flotilla or other humanitarian missions carried weapons for anyone. The whole world knows it. So does Israel.
Its blockade breaches international law. It’s an act of war against 1.8 million largely defenseless Gazans – denied their fundamental human rights.
Poverty and unemployment are extreme. Most Gazans need international aid to survive. The Strip’s most arable land is off limits. Israeli buffer zone diktats prohibit cultivation. Fishing in 85% of Gazan waters is banned.
A nutritional crisis continues along with inaccessibility to clean water for 90% of Gazans. An acute shortage of medicines, medical supplies, building materials and other essentials exists.
Ship to Gaza activists say the international community fails to help a trapped population desperately in need. “As human beings, we cannot stand by silently while witnessing what the blockade is to doing to” people deserving much better. (T)herefore we will act,” they said.
We’ll continue “send(ing) more ships with many more people (in) solidarity with the people of Gaza.”
“New groups are being formed all over the world…(O)ur coalition is growing…Our (mission) is a natural, brotherly action; our objective is humanitarian; our basis lies in international law; and our method is non-violent.”
Israel’s blockade severely restricts movement of people and goods into and from Gaza. It constitutes lawless collective punishment – strictly prohibited under international law.
It deprives Gazans of their livelihoods, security, accessibility to proper nutrition, clean water, medicines, medical care, education, and ability to move freely.
Israeli aggression denies many of their right to life and well-being. Israeli media reported IDF commandos seizing the vessel overnight without incident or injuries to activists on board.
We’ll know more when they’re able to speak for themselves, explain exactly what happened and how they were mistreated.
Israel’s interdiction was high-seas piracy – a lawless bandit act. An IDF statement lied claiming it acted “(i)n accordance with international law.” It blatantly violated it.
Pre-recorded SOS messages called for international help before seizure by Israeli commandos occurred.
Based on how other interdicted activists were treated, Marianne participants can expect short-term detention under harsh conditions, abusive interrogations, confiscation of their possessions, and perhaps denial of food, water and outside contacts, followed by deportations.
Gazans remain trapped and isolated under brutalizing siege. The Al Haq human rights organization reported continued Israeli use of “excessive force” across the West Bank and Gaza – using live fire and other forms of brutality against defenseless civilians, “disregarding Palestinians’ right to life.”
Al Haq director Shawan Jabarin said Palestinian officials delivered documents to the International Criminal Court charging Israel with the crime of apartheid and 22 other criminal offenses, including seven war crimes – pertaining to Operation Protective Edge, illegal settlements, denial of due process and judicial fairness, as well as mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners, mostly held for political reasons.
Throughout nearly half a century of brutalizing military occupation (lawless under international law), punctuated by intermittent acts of aggression, no Israeli government or military official ever was held accountable. Expect justice again denied this time.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”