Questions need to asked about the real role of the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
With her demeanor of quiet diplomacy and down-to-earth style, some may see her as a fixer of diplomatic solutions. But, increasingly, it seems that the British appointed European bureaucrat is playing a more sinister role of finessing regime change on behalf of Washington and its NATO allies.
Ashton – whose official British title is “Lady Ashton” – was made a member of the House of Lords under Britain’s archaic and undemocratic honors system back in 1999. She has never been elected by a popular vote, yet she has risen by political patronage to become Europe’s top diplomat deciding the fate of foreign states and millions of lives.
Up to now, Ashton has enjoyed something of a benevolent image akin to a “well-meaning auntie figure”. Mild-mannered and modest, she might be seen as an honest broker. For example, she is credited with helping to broker the P5+1 interim nuclear deal with Iran last November.
However, the covert involvement of Western governments in orchestrating the coup d’état in Ukraine and Ashton’s de facto participation in this regime-change operation makes her much less a lady and more a cynical operator who is far from an honest broker.
When the street protests sparked off in Kiev at the end of November, allegedly as a result of incumbent President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign a EU trade pact, Ashton was among the trail of top Western political figures who took it upon themselves to “mediate” in the ensuing political crisis.
While Ashton appeared to be mediating between the Ukrainian government and protesters in Kiev’s Maidan Square, she was nevertheless all the while stirring up the street demonstrations. She was photographed with protest leaders, including Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who is now the self-styled prime minister of Ukraine, even though these agitators were urging neo-Nazi violence and widespread law breaking.
The EU foreign policy chief was thus instrumental in lending credibility and legitimacy to what can only be described as a violent seizure of government. The criminal involvement of the American CIA and its various non-governmental incarnations in fomenting this coup is well documented. That makes Ashton a CIA collaborator.
Ashton deserves further scrutiny because more evidence is emerging that the street massacre in Kiev last month precipitating the seizure of Ukraine’s government was carried out by snipers working for the Western-backed coup plotters.
The latest revelations from Ukraine’s former security chief confirm that the shootings were orchestrated by members of the Western-backed coalition – the coalition that has since taken political power in Kiev. Aleksandr Yakimenko told Russian media this week that the building from where the snipers fired fatal shots at police and protesters on February 20 was under the full control of the organizers of the Maidan demonstrations. In particular, Andriy Parubiy, who has since been appointed by the Kiev junta as head of the National Security and Defense Council, prevented any measures at the time of the shootings to arrest the snipers, says Yakimenko.
Yet, Ashton, along with other European and American leaders, has said little about what appears to be a huge crime. Indeed, she has endorsed the ruling administration in Kiev as the “interim government of Ukraine” even though the evidence points to the new political office holders in Kiev as being an unelected junta that came to power through acts of terrorism.
A phone call leaked last week showed that the EU foreign policy chief knew about allegations of the massacre from as early as February 26 when Ashton was told by Estonia’s top diplomat Urmas Paet about the snipers working for the Ukrainian opposition. Up to 100 people, including civilians and police were killed in the gunfire on February 20.
When Ashton was told of this sinister covert action, all she replied to Paet was: “Gosh, we must investigate that…”
Well, since then, Ashton has kept a conspicuous silence on what appears to be an act of mass murder by the Western-backed opposition. Former Ukrainian security chief Yakimenko says evidence points to the involvement of US Special Forces. He says the agitators worked closely with the US embassy in Kiev.
Considering the grave criminal implications, it is revealing that Ashton had so little to say in response to the initial news over the phone from the Estonian foreign minister. That suggests that Ashton already knew of the criminal conspiracy to use terrorism in order to grab power, or she is now choosing to cover up.
Either way, Ashton’s silence on the sinister events in Kiev is damning and especially so as more incriminating evidence emerges about the incident being a Western state-sponsored act of terrorism. Russia is calling for an international inquiry, but Aston and her Western allies are saying nothing. What has become of the supposed honest broker?
Last weekend, the Lady was in Tehran on what was hailed as a landmark visit. It was her first visit to Iran since she became EU foreign policy chief in 2009.
Rather mischievously, she announced in Tehran that there was “no guarantee” that a comprehensive agreement to the P5+1 nuclear negotiations would be achieved. Ashton then offended the Iranian government when she embarked on “unsanctioned” meetings with various political dissident groups while in Tehran – unrelated to the nuclear issue. Some Iranian parliamentarians accused her of interfering in Iranian internal affairs. Was that Ashton’s calling card for more such agitation in Iran, just like in Ukraine?
This week, US president Barack Obama signed off on a continuation of American sanctions against Iran for another year, which does not bode well for a comprehensive settlement to the decade-old nuclear dispute and for the lifting of Western sanctions punishing the Iranian people.
Given her role in facilitating Western regime change in Ukraine, which has since led to a dangerous escalation of tensions between Washington, its European allies and Russia, Lady Ashton is showing herself to be someone who cannot be trusted. Not so much Lady Ashton, more like Shady Ashton.
The snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were allegedly hired by Maidan leaders, according to a leaked phone conversation between the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign affairs minister, which has emerged online.
“There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet said during the conversation.
“I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh,” Ashton answered.
The call took place after Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet visited Kiev on February 25 at the peak of clashes between the pro-EU protesters and security forces in the Ukrainian capital.
Paet also recalled his conversation with a doctor who treated those shot by snipers in Kiev. She said that both protesters and police were shot at by the same people.
“And second, what was quite disturbing, this same Olga [Bogomolets] told as well that all the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides,” the Estonian FM stressed.
Ashton reacted to the information by saying: “Well, yeah…that’s, that’s terrible.”
“So that she then also showed me some photos she said that as a medical doctor she can say that it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened,” Paet said.
The Estonian FM has described the whole sniper issue as “disturbing” and added, “it already discredits from the very beginning” the new Ukrainian power.
His overall impressions of what he saw during his one-day trip to Kiev are “sad,” Paet said during the conversation.
He stressed that the Ukrainian people don’t trust the Maidan leaders, with all the opposition politicians slated to join the new government “having dirty past.”
The file was reportedly uploaded to the web by officers of Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) loyal to ousted President Viktor Yanukovich who hacked Paet’s and Ashton’s phones.
94 people were killed and another 900 injured during the standoff between police and protesters at Maidan Saquare in Kiev last month.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera English, Ashton suggested that the referendum was an important step towards returning to the path of democracy.
The referendum was boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood and other political forces opposed to the military coup that ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected government on 3 July 2013. In the lead up to the referendum, activists campaigning for a “no” vote were harassed and arrested, and during the two-day election several protesters were even killed.
While Ashton noted that the democratic transition must include everyone, she made an exception for those who support “violence” or “terrorism”.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton says Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych “intends to sign” an agreement with the European Union to enhance economic and political relations with the bloc.
Ashton said on arrival for a meeting in Brussels on Thursday after her visit to Kiev that Yanukovych “made it clear to me that he intends to sign the association agreement.”
She added that the short-term economic and financial issues Ukraine faces could be “addressed by the support that not only comes from the EU institutions, but actually by showing that he has a serious economic plan in signing the association agreement.”
Ashton also said that the signature of the deal would help to bring in the kind of investment that the Ukrainian president is in need of.
The executive body of the European Union had said on December 9 that Ashton would travel to Ukraine on December 10 on a two-day visit, with a European Commission spokesperson noting that the visit aims to “support a way out of the political crisis in Ukraine.”
Last month, Kiev refused to sign the agreement with the bloc in a move that triggered major street protests by the opposition supporters, who want Ukraine to become closer to the EU and distance itself from Russia.
Clashes erupted several times between the anti-government protesters and police forces during the demonstrations. Several arrests were made in the course of the protests as well.
In an effort to calm the political unrest, President Yanukovych invited all parties, including the opposition, to engage in dialog. However, Ukrainian opposition leaders on Wednesday turned down his offer of negotiations, calling for dismissal of his government and release of the detained protesters.
On the same day, the US State Department said it is considering sanctions against Ukraine if security forces intensify the crackdown on anti-government protesters in the country.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko had vowed earlier that police would not act against peaceful protesters.
A senior official from the European Union has visited Israel to inform the government that it will find a solution to ensure Israel’s participation in the scientific Horizon 2020 project, Haaretz newspaper has claimed. This is in spite of EU restrictions on dealing with Israeli companies and research centres operating in the illegal West Bank settlements which takes effect in January 2014. The EU ban on such dealings threatens to lose Israeli research centres around $200 million.
Europe-Israel discussions regarding Israel’s participation in the 2020 project stalled when the EU approved the economic restrictions on Israeli companies and research centres in the West Bank. The European guidelines dictate that any future agreement with Israel should make it clear that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights, are not part of Israel and therefore not covered by EU-Israel agreements. Since then, talks over Israel’s participation in Europe’s largest scientific project turned from a technical issue to a complex political matter, especially as a few Israeli research centres likely to join the project are active in the settlements.
According to Haaretz, Israel and the United States are exercising “tremendous pressure” on EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton to relax the new restrictions. Israel has also threatened that it will not join the European project if the restrictions remain in place. The newspaper said that Ashton was scheduled to deliver the draft project to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs two weeks ago with clarifications of the restrictions and the proposed agreement but decided to postpone the trip so that leaks could be avoided, which might damage the discussions.
“A high-level European delegation is scheduled to arrive in Israel next week,” said Haaretz, “headed by the Secretary-General of the European External Action Service, Pierre Vimont, who will meet with senior officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Economy and Science.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Israel said that the latest bone of contention with the EU is the demand that Israeli companies wishing to take part in Horizon 2020 should state publicly that they are not active in the settlements and occupied Palestinian territories.
- EU commissioner pledges stronger co-operation with Israel (irishtimes.com)
- Tell your MEPs to support the new guidelines on Israel’s participation in EU programs (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Tension between EU and Israel over EU research funding (irishtimes.com)
- [Opinion] EU’s moment of truth on Israeli settlements (euobserver.com)
Did Somebody Blink?
On March 1, 2010, an essay in Haaretz titled “Who will blink first in Iran’s nuclear poker game?” stated that “Israel is on the verge of a preemptive war to try to foil Iran’s nuclear program.” So, the question was who would blink first? Would it be Iran that would give up its nuclear program? Would it be Israel that would be forced to withdraw its threat of military attack? Or would it be the US that would ratchet up the pressure on Iran to please Israel?
Similar arguments continued to appear in the next two years. For example, On March 2, 2012, in an interview titled “Between The U.S., Israel And Iran, Who Blinks First?” NPR asked Martin Indyk to elaborate on his comment in The New York Times that we “are now engaged in a three-way game of chicken, which makes blinking more dangerous than confrontation.” Indyk, the former executive director of the Israeli lobby group The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, advisor to President Clinton, and US Ambassador to Israel, answered:
Well, essentially we’re now in a vicious cycle. In order to calm the Israelis down and get them to back away from their intense interest in taking care of the [Iranian nuclear] program militarily, we are ratcheting up sanctions that essentially are aimed at Iran’s economic jugular. We are doing that on the theory that the more pressure we put on them, the more we bring their economy to its knees, the more likely the Iranians are to cry uncle, to blink, to say, OK, we’ll negotiate meaningful curbs on our nuclear program. . . And unless somebody blinks, I’m afraid it’s going to lead to a confrontation.
It seems that after many years of this “three-way game of chicken” somebody finally blinked; and that somebody was not Iran.
Last week, following a long hiatus and much anticipation, there was a meeting in Kazakhstan between Iran and the so-called P5+1, the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany. Such meetings are usually shrouded in secrecy and it is often difficult to get an accurate picture of what goes on behind closed doors. For example, on February 27, 2013, after the conclusion of the two-day meeting, a press release was issued by “EU High Representative Catherine Ashton,” the convener of these meetings, which basically stated: “We put what we call a confidence building proposal on the table.”
What the proposal stated remained secret. However, from various reports in the US, Israeli, and Iranian media one could surmise that the US, which is the main force behind these meetings, advanced the following proposal. In exchange for some so-called sanction relief, Iran would: 1) “significantly restrict” its accumulation of 20% enriched uranium, but would keep sufficient amount to fuel its Tehran Research Reactor that produces isotope for medical purposes; 2) suspend enrichment at Fordow underground facility and accept conditions that “constrain” the ability to quickly resume enrichment at Fordow; and 3) allow more regular and thorough monitoring of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
If what was reported were true, and if there were no deception involved, then the US had indeed blinked and had withdrawn its previous and punishing proposal, a proposal that is usually referred to as “stop, shut and ship.” The earlier proposal, as summarized by Ashton on June 19, 2012, demanded from Iran: “stopping 20 percent enrichment activities, shutting the Fordow nuclear facility and shipping out stockpiled 20 percent enriched nuclear materials.”
The latest P5+1 proposal not only did not ask for shutting down Fordow and stopping 20 percent enrichment, but would let Iran retain some of its medium level enriched uranium to make fuel. More importantly, the proposal would implicitly recognize the right of Iran to enrich uranium for civilian purposes, something that Iran has been asking for years and the US and Israel have consistently denied.
Understandably, the Iranian side was pleased and stated that on some points the P5+1 got closer to the Iranian perspective. Indeed, the US had, to the chagrin of The Washington Post editorial piece on February 28, 2013, “kowtowed,” or more accurately, blinked. But what about Israel, the third party in the “three-way game of chicken,” did it also blink?
The “stop, shut and ship” proposal was originally manufactured in Israel. On April 4, 2012, The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak “has held discussions with American and European officials in recent weeks with the goal of convincing them to set clear goals for the planned talks with Iran.” The report went on to say that according to Barak, Israel’s demands are: “1) [the] transfer of all uranium enriched to 20 percent—approximately 120 kg.—out of Iran to a third party country; 2) the transfer of the majority of the 5 tons of uranium enriched to 3.5% out of Iran, leaving just enough needed for energy purposes; 3) the closure of the Fordow enrichment facility, buried under a mountain near the city of Qom; [and] 4) the transfer of fuel rods from a third party country to Iran for the purpose of activating the Tehran Research Reactor.” The US slightly modified these demands and presented them at the P5+1 and Iran meeting in June 2012.
After the June meeting, Ha’aretz reported that “representatives of the powers are expected to fly to Israel and update its leaders” (June 18, 2012). On the same day Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon tried to exert more pressure on the P5+1 by stating that Israel could find itself facing the dilemma of “a bomb, or to bomb” (Reuters). “Should that be the choice,” Yaalon, stated, “then bombing (Iran) is preferable to a bomb (in Iran’s hands). . . I hope we do not face that dilemma.”
Delivering the Israeli manufactured demands to Iran and then going to Israel to report on the Iranian reaction were not new. After the May meeting between Iran and the P5+1, Haaretz reported on May 25, 2012, that Wendy Sherman, the US representative at the meeting, went straight to Israel. As the report stated, Sherman was going to “update Israeli officials on the talks in Baghdad, and on preparations for the third round of talks in Moscow on June 18 and 19.” The report also stated that according to the State Department, Sherman will also “reaffirm our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.”
The following day, on May 26, Haaretz published a more extensive piece about Sherman’s visit. It quoted an unnamed US official as saying: “We updated the Israelis in detail before we updated our own government.” He was also quoted as saying: “There are no gaps between the U.S. and Israel in anything related to talks between Iran and the six world powers over the future of Iran’s nuclear program. . . Even if we do not have the patience, we need to give diplomacy a chance before military action.” In addition, the report stated that Sherman arrived in Israel “along with officials from the White House National Security Council working on the Iran nuclear issue—Gary Seymour and Puneet Talwar.” “The American team,” the report went on to say, “had a three-hour meeting with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, with National Security advisor Yaakov Amidror, and a number of other senior Israeli officials who deal with the Iran issue.” Not surprisingly, Gary Samore, President Obama’s Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction Counter-Terrorism and Arms Control, was one of the original founders of the Israeli lobby group “United Against Nuclear Iran.”
The February 2013 meeting between the P5+1 and Iran was also followed by a similar visit to Israel. On February 26, 2013, Haaretz reported that the “American administration, along with the U.K., France and Germany, are in close contact with Israel and have been coordinating with it ahead of the [P5+1] talks in Kazakhstan. Immediately after the talks, an American negotiating team headed by Wendy Sherman, the under secretary for political affairs, is expected to come to Jerusalem.” “Sherman,” the report went on to add, “intends to meet with National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, Foreign Ministry Director General for Strategic Affairs Jeremy Issacharoff and other high-ranking officials to update them about the content of the talks with Iran.” The report also stated: “Last week, Amidror visited Washington and discussed the Iranian nuclear program with his American counterpart, Thomas E. Donilon.”
Given the close coordination between the US and Israel, one has to conclude that not only the US, but also Israel blinked at the February 2013 meeting. This, of course, comes as no surprise, since Israeli officials, particularly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had bluffed and blinked many times before. After many years of crying wolf and threatening Iran, Netanyahu’s most public blinking came on September 27, 2012, when he appeared before the UN General Assembly and held up a diagram of a cartoonish-looking bomb with a fuse and drew a redline on it at 90% enriched uranium. The bizarre spectacle, which was mocked by some as “Bibi’s Wiley E. Coyote-style cartoon bomb,” was not only the proverbial “one too many times” that Mr. Netanyahu had cried wolf, but it was also the beginning of the end of Israel’s intense and unsuccessful campaign to make the US attack Iran or intensify the sanctions. The “decisive year” of 2012, as Israeli newspaper Maariv pointed out, was passing “without decisiveness” (Reuters, September 28, 2012).
What made the US and Israel blink? The answer requires a detailed analysis of Obama Administration’s policy of “tough diplomacy,” an analysis that will appear in my forthcoming book. However, a short answer is that the US and Israel seem to have run out of options in overthrowing the current government in Iran and replacing it with a friendly regime. “Tough diplomacy”—which was formulated mostly by Dennis Ross, currently the counselor to The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and formerly special assistant to President Obama—threw at Iran everything the US had in terms of sanctions, sabotage, cyber-attacks and possibly assassinations of the Iranian nuclear scientists. Yet, the last step in this policy, which was supposed to be a naval blockade of Iran and military attack, could not be taken. Why? Because in order to wage a war against Iran the economic conditions in that country must become as dismal as they were in Iraq before it was invaded; and that, at the present, is not the case. Even though the accumulated result of 33 years of sanctions against Iran, particularly the most brutal and unprecedented ones in the last 4 years, have helped to create massive hardship in Iran, there is no sign that the Iranian economy is actually collapsing. There are also hardly any Iranian entities or individuals left to sanction. The US and Israel seem to be coming to terms with the reality and beginning to blink.
Sasan Fayazmanesh is Professor Emeritus of Economics at California State University, Fresno. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
UK daily the Guardian, is reporting on Monday that relations between the European Union and the State of Israel are to be upgraded. The EU is to offer improvements on both trade and diplomatic relations, including upgrades on migration, energy and agriculture.
The move follows Israel’s inclusion to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in late 2010 and is a revival of plans to upgrade relations between Israel and the supra-national body that were suspended following Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip in December 2008 – January 2009.
The Guardian reports that the details of the agreement are not as significant of an upgrade as the previous initiative, and that Catherine Ashton has delegated attendance at Tuesday’s meeting to Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, Foreign Minister of Cyprus.
Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has been a vocal critic of Israel’s suppression of non-violent activism, settlement construction and Israel’s general policies towards Palestinians.
Despite this, Ashton recently received criticism for refusing to speak out against, and clearly state the illegality of, Israel’s policy of Administrative Detention, whereby Palestinian’s maybe detained without charge or trial indefinitely.
Administrative Detention orders are renewed every three months by the Israeli military, who are not required to present evidence as to the reasons for the order. Any justification is held in a sealed file which neither the detained or their legal representation may have access to.
- Popular Commitee Leader Bassem Tamimi Sentenced (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Open letter to Europan Commission President José Manuel Barroso (bdsmovement.net)
So as was expected, the Iran-bashers like Ray Takeyh are busy trying to blame the failure of the Moscow talks on “Iranian intransigence” — as if Iran’s completely legitimate expectation that the talks would proceed on the basis of the relevant international treaty AS PROMISED (which includes recognition of the right to enrich uranium) is somehow just too crazy and far out to be acknowledged. God forbid that the US should have to abide by international law, after all. Hey, remember this?
“We have agreed that the Non-Proliferation Treaty forms a key basis for what must be serious engagement to ensure all the obligations under the treaty are met by Iran while fully respecting Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said following the meeting with Iran’s top negotiator, Saeed Jalili.
LOL. Ashton baby, you’re such a good comedienne.
And naturally the media are busy repeating the standard talking points about how the negotiations fell apart because Iran was “intransigent” about giving up their 20% enrichment.
Apart from the lie about the talks proceeding on the basis of the NPT, what the media completely fail to mention, of course, is that the US would never have had to negotiate over the 20% enriched uranium in the first place had the US not interferred in Iran’s right to simply purchase the reactor fuel it needed for the Tehran Research Reactor — a reactor, by the way, which is not only NOT a nuclear weapons proliferation threat at all (the reactor operates under IAEA safeguards, and is also entirely too small to be a weapons threat) but is also used to make isotopes to treat Iran’s 800,000 cancer patients. In short, the US has shot itself in the foot by denying Iran’s right to buy the fuel, and now has to negotiate in the hopes to convince Iran to give up 20% enrichment. What a success! This is never even mentioned or considered in the media analyses. Instead the expectation that Iran should give up enrichment, and is “intransigent” for not doing so as the US demands, is simply taken for granted in the reports/analyses.
Bassem Tamimi, a leading member of the grass roots movement against the Israeli Annexation Wall and settlement construction in the village of an-Nabi Saleh, has on Tuesday been sentenced at the Israeli Ofer Military Court in the West Bank.
Mr. Tamimi was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment and a further 17 months suspended sentence. Tamimi was released following the judgement, due to having already served 13 months imprisonment waiting for his case to come to trial.
The ruling means that if Tamimi participates in any of the village’s weekly non-violent protest activities he will be forced to serve out the remainder of the suspended sentence in prison.
Bassem Tamimi has been described as a human rights defender by Catherine Ashton, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union. Ashton has been critical of the trial against Tamimi, as she was of the trial against Abdullah Abu Rahme, a similar figure in the non-violent protest movement in the village of Bil’in.
The trial of Bassem Tamimi came under fire following allegations of coerced testimony from children of Nabi Saleh who, contravening international law, were interrogated by the Israeli military with neither legal representation or a parent or guardian present.
- Palestinian Activist, Bassem Tamimi, Convicted; Prosecution Criticized by Court (altahrir.wordpress.com)
Late on Sunday night Israeli soldiers invaded the village of Bil’in, near the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and attempted to kidnap a local peace activist, one of the organizers of nonviolent peaceful protests against the illegal Israeli Annexation Wall and settlements in the area.
The Friends of Freedom and Justice Committee in Bil’in (FFJ) reported that resident Hosam Hamad, 33 years old, was not at home when soldiers invaded it. Instead, the soldiers handed his mother a warrant for his arrest.
The FFJ added that the army pushed journalists and cameramen away when they attempted to ask the soldiers why they were trying to take Hamad. They informed them that they were not allowed to document the invasion and did not provide any explanation for their actions.
Bil’in is known for its leading role in creative non-violent resistance against the Annexation Wall and settlements in the area. Peace activists from different parts of the world as well as Israeli activists participate in the weekly non-violent protests.
Israeli soldiers use excessive force against the protesters, and repeatedly kidnap local activists of the non-violent resistance. The army is responsible for hundreds of injuries and several deaths because of its use of force against the protesters.
In 2008, Ashraf Abu Rahma was detained during a nonviolent protest; he was cuffed and blindfolded before one soldier held him while another soldier shot him in the leg.
The shooting was caught on tape by a young Palestinian woman from Bil’in, and was handed to a number of human rights groups to expose the Israeli crime. The soldiers subsequently detained her father as an act of punishment.
Abu Rahma’s brother, Basem, and his sister, Jawaher, were killed by Israeli fire in different non-violent protests against the Wall and settlements.
A statement issued by the spokesperson of the EU’s High Representative, Catherine Ashton, said last Tuesday that the European Union defends the right of Palestinians to hold peaceful protests against illegal Israeli settlement construction on their land.
- Al-Ma’sara Village Holds Its Weekly Nonviolent Protest (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Undercover Israeli combatants threw stones at IDF soldiers in West Bank (theuglytruth.wordpress.com)
- Three Women Injured Near Bethlehem (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Minnesota Battle Over Israeli Bonds (alethonews.wordpress.com)
BAGHDAD – The six major powers known as the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) failed to reach an agreement between themselves on a package of proposals which had been presented by Iran in the meeting on Wednesday.
Sources close to the meeting have blamed the U.S. for the failure of talks between the major powers, the Mehr News Agency correspondent reported from Baghdad.
Iran had presented a five-point proposal which included “nuclear and non-nuclear issues”.
Diplomats close to the talks say the major powers have reneged on their promises of reciprocal steps which had been agreed upon in the Istanbul talks on April 4.
In the meeting negotiators from the 5+1 group especially the U.S. used a language similar to those of Israeli officials and this caused a hurdle in the talks, diplomat said.
According to our correspondent, the 5+1 group is suggesting another place for a next meeting. However, the Iranian side is seeking a tentative agreement in Baghdad before setting a date for the next meeting.
Iran’s lead negotiator, Saeed Jalili, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who represents the major powers in the talks, held bilateral talks late on Wednesday and early Thursday.
The two top negotiators plan to brief reporters about the results of negotiations later today.
Two news reports by major wire services this weekend demonstrate just how pervasive misinformation and propaganda are in the mainstream media when it comes to the Iranian nuclear issue.
Reuters reported this week that Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and chief nuclear negotiator for the P5+1, has high hopes for the new round of talks with Iran resuming May 23rd in Baghdad and will approach the meeting as a “serious set of discussions that can lead to concrete results.”
Sounds positive enough, especially when coupled with the statement Ashton made at the end of last month’s meeting in Istanbul. “We have agreed that the Non-Proliferation Treaty forms a key basis for what must be serious engagement, to ensure all the obligations under the NPT are met by Iran while fully respecting Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”
However, another comment made by Ashton on Friday is cause for considerable concern. She told reporters in Brussels, “My ambition is that we come away with the beginning of the end of the nuclear weapons programme in Iran. I hope we’ll see the beginnings of success.”
Such a statement is certainly alarming. Despite the hysterical cries of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing acolytes here in the U.S., both Western and Israeli intelligence, along with the IAEA, have consistently confirmed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.
One would assume that the chief P5+1 negotiator would understand and acknowledge this simple – and vitally important – fact. Perhaps Ashton’s recent private audience with Netanyahu in Jerusalem was more dangerous and detrimental to the negotiations than one would even expect.
(Of course, the sheer absurdity of Ashton’s meeting with the Prime Minister of a state that is not a signatory of the NPT, has an undeclared stockpile of hundreds of nuclear warheads, is a constant violator of international law and perpetrator of war crimes, and which is in consistent breach of countless Security Council resolutions gos without saying. That Netanyahu would have any role whatsoever in these discussions, let alone issuing demands to both the U.S. government and Ashton herself, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt how designed for failure these negotiations were from the start.)
In one of the most embarrassing examples of published propaganda over the Iranian nuclear program to date, The Associated Press today “reported” that it has obtained an undated “computer-generated drawing” of “an explosives containment chamber of the type needed for nuclear arms-related tests that U.N. inspectors suspect Tehran has conducted” at its Parchin military complex. The news agency says it was bequeathed this rendering “by an official of a country tracking Iran’s nuclear program who said it proves the structure exists.”
One version of the AP exclusive contains this detail:
That official said the image is based on information from a person who had seen the chamber at the Parchin military site, adding that going into detail would endanger the life of that informant. The official comes from an IAEA member country that is severely critical of Iran’s assertions that its nuclear activities are peaceful and asserts they are a springboard for making atomic arms.
What mysterious country could that possibly be, one wonders?! The answer is so painfully obvious as to make AP scoopster George Jahn’s attempts at anonymity patently ridiculous and pathetic. Jahn, unsurprisingly, has a long history of silly reporting on the Iran nuclear issue.
This detonation chamber stuff, by the way, has been debunked for half a year now.
The story also notes that former IAEA official Olli Heinonen, who himself has a long history of pushing dubious information about Iran’s nuclear file, said that the computer graphic provided to the press is “‘very similar’ to a photo he recently saw that he believes to be the pressure chamber the IAEA suspects is at Parchin.” Heinonen added that “even the colors of the computer-generated drawing matched that of the photo.”
Pretty convincing, huh? Ok, here‘s the computer drawing this whole thing is about:
That’s it. Really. No, please stop laughing and believe me. That’s really the thing they’re talking about. Yes, seriously. I mean it.
These are the depths to which propaganda about the Iranian nuclear program have sunk. It’s not even clever anymore, it’s just stupid.
Just in case anyone is interested, I have successfully uncovered the true identities of the crack Israeli computer graphics team that came up with that drawing:
- Israel Sets Tough Demands for Next Round of Iran Talks (globalspin.blogs.time.com)
- Nuclear infowar: New ‘evidence’ of Iran’s nuclear ambitions as Vienna talks approach (rt.com)