Far from the expected development, forestry plantations and other carbon market initiatives in Uganda have severely compromised ecologies and livelihoods of the local people.
By Kristen Lyons and Peter Westoby · The Conversation · September 19, 2015
In recent years there has been significant movement toward land acquisition in developing countries to establish forestry plantations for offsetting carbon pollution elsewhere in the world. This is often referred to as land grabbing.
These carbon trading initiatives work on the basis that forestry plantations absorb carbon dioxide and other polluting greenhouse gases. This helps to undo the environmental damage associated with modern western lifestyles.
Carbon markets are championed as offering solutions to climate change while delivering positive development outcomes to local communities. Heavy polluters, among them the airline and energy sectors, buy carbon credits and thereby pay local communities, companies and governments to protect forests and establish plantations.
But are carbon markets – and the feel good stories that have sprung up around them – all just a bit too good to be true?
There is mounting evidence that forestry plantations and other carbon market initiatives severely compromise livelihoods and ecologies at a local level. The corporate land grabs they rely on also tend to affect the world’s most vulnerable people – those living in rural areas.
But such adverse impacts are often written out of the carbon market ledger. Sometimes they are simply justified as ‘externalities’ that must be accepted as part of ensuring we avoid climate apocalypse.
Green Resources is one of a number of large-scale plantation forestry and carbon offset corporations operating on the continent. Its activities are having a profound impact on the livelihoods of a growing number of people. Norwegian-registered, the company produces saw log timber and charcoal in Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda. It receives carbon revenue from its plantation forestry operations.
In Uganda, the focus of our research, Green Resources holds two licenses over 11,864 hectares of government-owned, ‘degraded’ Central Forest Reserve. Historically, villagers could access this land to grow food, graze animals and engage in cultural practices.
Under the licensed land agreement between Uganda’s government and Green Resources, more than 8,000 people face profound disruptions to their livelihoods. Many are experiencing forced evictions as a direct result of the company’s take over of the land.
Carbon violence on local villagers
Villagers across Green Resources’ two acquisitions in Uganda report being denied access to land vital for growing food and grazing livestock. These are at Bukaleba and Kachung Central Forest Reserves. They also cannot collect forest resources. Many say they are denied access to sites of cultural significance and to resources vital to their livelihoods.
There are also many stories about land and waterways that have been polluted by agrichemicals the company uses in its forestry plantations. This has caused crop losses and livestock deaths.
Many of those evicted, as well as those seeking to use land licensed to Green Resources, have also experienced physical violence at the hands of police and private security forces tied to the arrival of the company. Some villagers have been imprisoned or criminalised for trespass.
These diverse forms violence are directly tied to the company’s participation in the carbon economy. Thus Green Resources’ plantation forestry and carbon market activities are inflicting ‘carbon violence’ on local villagers.
Green Resources appears to be continuing to tighten the perimeter of its plantation operations as part of ensuring compliance with regulations and certifications required for entry into carbon markets. This further entrenches these diverse forms of violence. In short, subsistence farmers and poor communities are carrying heavy costs associated with the expansion of forestry plantations and global carbon markets.
Green Resources does engage in some community development activities, but these are largely disconnected from local villagers’ needs and aspirations. Interviews with 152 affected villagers across the two sites highlight that access to land to produce food is the most pressing issue. This is an issue that Green Resources has done little to address.
The loss of access to land and sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable populations is unjust and unacceptable, particularly when rural people in Uganda contribute little to carbon pollution.
In 2014 the Oakland Institute, an independent policy think tank based in California, US, published its report on Green Resources. The company has responded, most notably in a strong letter from the CEO. While he sought to discredit the researchers and the report, he failed to engage with substantial issues of concern arising from the research.
At least one company board member has publicly acknowledged problems in company relations with affected communities, especially at the Bukaleba site. These are issues raised by a number of other researchers over a number of years.
The company has not publicly articulated what it is doing to address the social and environmental problems associated with its corporate practices. Green Resources must demonstrate how it is seeking to deal with the substantial adverse impacts associated with its activities.
It’s not just about money
More broadly, there are increasing calls for reform of global plantation forestry and carbon markets to alleviate the burden subsistence farmers carry alongside their expansion. Similarly, there are calls for reform to corporate practices, including community development initiatives and employment practices.
We would suggest that such reforms should be directed towards reducing the gap between the winners and losers in global carbon markets. There must be recognition of common property rights and access and use rights of local people in license areas. This must be done alongside valuing indigenous and local people’s knowledge of forests and ecosystem management.
There are also stronger calls from climate movements for the transformation of global energy futures. Those include the support for renewable energy to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and the subsequent reliance on offset initiatives.
Movements for climate justice in Africa and elsewhere demonstrate the growing resistance to market based and techno fixes as the means to avert climate change. These calls for justice challenge change agents to move beyond simply tweaking at the edges of carbon markets.
They need to imagine a future where social and environmental justice – not money and markets – are at the centre of thinking and planning.
The United States makes an improper division between surveillance conducted on residents of the United States and the surveillance that is conducted with almost no restraint upon the rest of the world. This double standard has proved poisonous to the rights of Americans and non-Americans alike. In theory, Americans enjoy better protections. In practice there are no magical sets of servers and Internet connections that carry only American conversations. To violate the privacy of everyone else in the world, the U.S. inevitably scoops up its own citizens’ data. Establishing nationality as a basis for discrimination also encourages intelligence agencies to make the obvious end-run: spying on each other’s citizens, and then sharing that data. Treating two sets of innocent targets differently is already a violation of international human rights law. In reality, it reduces everyone to the same, lower standard.
Now France’s government is about the make the same error as the U.S. practice with its new “Surveillance des communications électroniques internationales” bill, currently being rushed through the French Parliament. As an open letter led by France’s La Quadrature du Net and signed today by over thirty civil society groups including EFF, states, France’s legislators’ must reject this bill to protect the rights of individuals everywhere, including those in France.
By legalizing France’s own plans to spy on the rest of the world, France would take a step to establishing the NSA model as an acceptable global norm. Passing the law would undermine France’s already weak surveillance protections for its own citizens, including lawyers, journalists and judges. And it would make challenging the NSA’s practices far more difficult for France and other states.
The new bill comes as a result of France’s Constitutional Council review of the country’s last mass surveillance bill, which passed with little parliamentary opposition in July. The Council passed most of that bill on the basis of its minor concessions to oversight and proportionality, but rejected the sections on international surveillance, which contained no limits to what France might do.
France already spies on the world. In July, the French newsmagazine L’Obs revealed a secret decree dating from at least 2008, which funded a French intelligence service project to intercept and analyze international data traffic passing through through submarine cable intercepts. The decree authorized the interception of cable traffic from 40 countries including Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Syria, Sub-Saharan Africa, Russia, China, India and the United States. The report states that France’s intelligence agency, the General Directorate for External Security (DGCE), spent $775 million on the project.
Given that the Constitutional Council implied that such practices are almost certainly unlawful as is, the French government has now scrambled to create a framework that could excuse it.
Under the new proposed law, France’s intelligence agencies still have an incredibly broad remit. The law concentrates the power to grant wide-ranging surveillance permission in the office of the Prime Minister, who can sign off on mass surveillance of communications sent or received from overseas. Such surveillance can be conducted when in the “essential interests of foreign policy” or “[the] essential economic and scientific interests of France”, giving the executive the widest possible scope to conduct surveillance.
The original surveillance law included limits on data retention when spying on French nationals (30 days for the content of communications, four years for metadata, six years for encrypted data). The new international limits are much longer—one year, six years, and eight years respectively. The law’s authors do not justify this longer period, nor do they explain how the intelligence agencies will be able to separate data from each class of target without collecting, analyzing and filtering them all.
The collapsing divide between the lawful, warranted surveillance of ordinary citizens, and the wide-ranging capabilities of the intelligence services to collect signals intelligence on foreign powers and agents, has ended up corroding both domestic and global privacy rights. The U.S. has taken advantage of the lesser protections for non-U.S. persons to introduce the dragnet surveillance of everyone who uses the Internet outside the U.S. Because unprotected foreigners’ data is mixed up with somewhat more protected communications of Americans, the U.S. government believes that it can “incidentally” scoop up its own citizens’ data, and sort it out later under nobody’s oversight but its own.
If the French Parliament passes this bill, it will mean that France has decided to embody and excuse the same practices as the NSA in its own law. It is a short-sighted attempt to cover France’s existing secret practices, but the consequences are far-reaching. The limited protections that were included in the original surveillance bill—including assurances that French journalists, judges and lawyers would be protected from dragnet surveillance—will be undermined by their inevitable inclusion in the vacuuming up of all international traffic.
Any attempt by the EU countries to rein back the NSA’s surveillance plan by calls for the United States to respect international human rights standards, and data protection principles, will provoke the response that the U.S. is simply exercising the powers that an EU member has already granted itself.
By creating and excusing a double standard France’s government dooms everyone to a single, lower standard. It cannot simply shrug off its responsibilities to human rights, its partners in Europe, and the privacy rights of foreigners. If it does so, it will end up undermining the French people’s privacy and security as much as it undermines that of the rest of the world.
The refugee crisis in Europe could be easily solved. The problem is that the real solution would not suit the the political establishment of the United States or Western Europe. We’ve distilled what needs to be done down to 5 simple steps.
- Stop funding and arming rebel groups attempting to overthrow the Syrian government. It’s well established that these weapons have been ending up in the hands of ISIS and its affiliates. This has caused nothing but chaos and destruction. Money being funneled into these shady operations should be immediately redirected to an intensive reconstruction effort.
- Pressure Turkey and Jordan to cut off ISIS supply routes, and impose sanctions on any country facilitating the sale of oil from IS territory or allowing funds or materials to reach them. No army can function if their supply chain is broken. It’s not an accident these routes start at the Turkish and Jordanian borders.
- Support the Syrian government. An entire year of U.S. airstrikes in Syria have utterly failed to destroy or even significantly weaken ISIS. Of course this is because the real strategy isn’t to bring ISIS down, but rather to contain them and allow them to weaken Assad gradually. If Washington really wanted to stop this group, they would take a hint from Russia and provide the Syrian government with weapons, training and logistical support to enable them to push ISIS back. This means Washington and its allies would have to officially abandon all plans for a forced regime change. They might not like Assad, but the majority of the citizens of Syria support him. In fact he has more support within his country than Obama or the U.S. congress have in America. And at various intervals he’s had more support than Congress and Obama combined. Any government installed after a U.S. backed regime change will be viewed as a puppet government, and will therefore lack the legitimacy needed to stabilize the region. If you need evidence of this, just look at Afghanistan or Iraq.
- Provide direct assistance to rebuild housing, infrastructure and businesses destroyed by the conflict. In the short term temporary refugee camps should be set up in areas outside of the conflict zone, and food and medical supplies shipped in on a regular basis. Yes this will cost money, but so has the five year regime change push that created the problem in the first place.
- Return the refugees to these stabilized regions. It is in no one’s interest to flood Europe with masses of unemployed refugees. Doing so will only lead to heightened tensions and will strengthen xenophobic movements. These people don’t need to be transplanted into the ghettos of Europe, they need their homes back.
German Economic News | 22.09.15
New sounds are being heard at NATO: for the first time, NATO criticizes not the arch-enemy Russia, but the Government in Kiev, which is funded by the EU, telling them to adhere to the Minsk agreements.
Whether Kiev can be trusted to adhere to anything, is another question: The country’s extreme right have imposed a blockade of Crimea [contrary to Minsk] — without the government obstructing them at all.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has called upon Ukraine to implement the peace plan for the war zone in Donbass. “It is extremely important that Ukraine continue to implement all aspects of the Minsk agreements,” he said on Tuesday in Kiev. No other solution to the conflict exists. Stoltenberg was attending a meeting of the Ukrainian Security Council, the first NATO chief to do so. He then signed an agreement on a planned NATO representative in Kiev.
Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko confirmed plans for a referendum on a possible NATO membership for the former Soviet republic. “De jure we are not a member of NATO, but de facto we are more than just partners,” stressed Poroshenko.
Since early September in eastern Ukraine, a ceasefire between government forces and the rebels is holding reasonably well. In fact, that is why the OSCE is concerned that the Donbass civilian population could be exposed to extreme cold during the winter, without being able to protect themselves. The water system has been destroyed virtually throughout the region, many areas are mined. The OSCE called on Ukraine a few days ago to withdraw their army, so that the residents in rebel-controlled areas with the worst damage can do at least makeshift repairs.
There is disagreement, however, over [two aspects of the Mink agreement] a desired weapons withdrawal from the front, as well as local elections according to Ukrainian law in the breakaway regions. The rebels showed a willingness to compromise, possibly to postpone their planned October 18 and November 1 elections till the end of February. In the Belarusian capital Minsk, the Ukraine Contact Group wanted to discuss on Tuesday the peace plan.
Already former Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had shown himself to be unusually confident that the war in Ukraine can be contained for the time being. Americans and Russians seem to have reached initial agreement, to co-operate in Syria. And neither of the two great powers can win much right now in Ukraine. Furthermore, EU taxpayers have taken on the financing of Ukraine, providing breathing-room for the conflict there between the U.S. and Russia.
The NATO communication is a tactical measure, as shown, above all, by the announcement that a NATO Embassy will be established in Ukraine. Furthermore, the United States have just started the deployment of new nuclear weapons in Germany, which is regarded by the Russians as a provocation. The Bundestag had expressly rejected this development some time ago. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel considers it right — thus also needlessly complicating a possible mediating role for Germany in the Ukrainian conflict.
The biggest unknown, however, in the short term, is the unstable political situation within Ukraine. A few days ago a senior right-wing extremist was killed in an explosion. The right-wing extremists are plotting revenge. The civil war might shift to the Western Ukraine.
The regional power of the right-wing is also likely to escalate the conflict with Russia again: Right-wing extremists, whom the government of Ukraine allows to move freely even in the war-zone, refuse to comply with Ukrainian law, and have blocked the highways connecting Crimea to the East of Ukraine. This blockade, which is supported by anti-Crimean Tatars outside of Crimea, could cause supply problems before winter (see the video at the beginning of the article [It’s in English!]).
Translation by Eric Zuesse
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
The European Court of Justice’s top legal aid has said that a 15-year-old agreement that eases the transfer of data between the EU and the US should be ended, accusing American intelligence services of conducting “mass, indiscriminate surveillance.”
The ECJ’s advocate-general, Yves Bot, said on Wednesday that the Safe Harbour agreement does not do enough to protect the private information of EU citizens once it arrives in the US, adding that it should have been suspended.
Safe Harbour allows US firms to collect data on their European customers. The system is used by Google, Facebook, and more than 4,000 other companies.
However, it also allows the NSA to use the Prism surveillance system exposed by Snowden to wade through the personal data, communication, and information held by nine internet companies.
Using Facebook as an example, Bot said that users “are not informed that their personal data will be generally accessible to the United States security agencies.”
“Such mass, indiscriminate surveillance is inherently disproportionate and constitutes an unwarranted interference with the rights guaranteed by articles seven and eight of the charter [of fundamental rights of the EU],” he said, adding that European internet users have no effective judicial protection while the data transfers are happening.
Bot added that if any EU country believes that transferring data to overseas servers undermines the protection of citizens, it has the power to suspend those transfers “irrespective of the general assessment made by the [EU] commission in its decision.”
But despite allegations from Bot, Facebook has denied accusations that it provides ‘backdoor’ access to its servers.
Sally Aldous, a spokeswoman for the social media giant, said on Wednesday that the company “operates in compliance with EU Data Protection law. Like the thousands of other companies who operate data transfers across the Atlantic we await the full judgment.”
“We have repeatedly said that we do not provide ‘backdoor’ access to Facebook servers and data to intelligence agencies or governments,” she said.
Although Bot’s opinions are not binding, they are typically followed by the ECJ’s judges, who are considering a complaint about the arrangement in the wake of US surveillance revelations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The EU court’s decision is expected in the next four to six months.
The European Commission has been in talks with the US for two years, discussing ways to strengthen the Safe Harbour framework amid calls for its suspension.
Meanwhile, many US companies have praised the 2000 Safe Harbour deal, saying it helps them avoid complicated checks to transfer vital data, including payroll and human resources information.
An end to the agreement would cause a headache for US companies operating in the EU, as well as bring about the potential for a varying of national approaches, lawyers said, as cited by Reuters.
It comes just six months after 27-year-old Austrian law student Max Schrems filed a complaint against Facebook, alleging the social media site was helping the NSA harvest email and other private data by forwarding European data to servers in the US.
Facebook is spying on people in “the very same way” that the US’s National Security Agency (NSA) does, said the Belgian data protection watchdog at a court hearing where the social network stands accused of violating the privacy of internet users.
“When it became known that the NSA was spying on people all around the world, everybody was upset. This actor [Facebook] is doing the very same thing, albeit in a different way,” said Frederic Debussere, a lawyer representing the Belgian privacy commission (BPC) at the Monday court hearing.
This is possible, the report claimed, because the cookies are automatically installed on the computers of internet users each time they visit a page containing a Facebook plug-in, such as the ‘like’ button.
According to EU law, websites must ask for a user’s permission before installing any cookies. This is why Facebook’s policy is considered to in “violation of the European law” by the BPC.
The BPC is now threatening Facebook with a daily fine of €250,000 ($280,213).
“Don’t be intimidated by Facebook. They will argue our demands cannot be implemented in Belgium alone. Our demands can be perfectly implemented just in this country,” said Frederic Debussere, addressing the court.
Facebook has consistently denied all accusations and claimed that its practices are in compliance with EU law, accusing the BPC of presenting false reports.
“We will show the court how this technology protects people from spam, malware, and other attacks, that our practices are consistent with EU law and with those of the most popular Belgian websites,” a Facebook spokesperson said, as quoted by the Guardian.
Additionally, Facebook rejects the very idea it could be held accountable in Belgium as the company’s European headquarters are located in Dublin, Ireland, and its activities watched over by that country’s data protection authority.
The company does not rule out returning to talks with the BPC.
The world in general, and Europe in specific, are finally confronted with the results of the Zionist made Middle Eastern catastrophes, starting with the 1948 Palestinian catastrophe (Al-Nakba) up to the present Syrian refugee crisis, that are parts and parcels of the Zionist colonial dream of creating “Greater Israel” extending from the river Nile in Egypt to Euphrates in Iraq, with Jerusalem as the capital of the Judaic New World Order. Zionists are seeking Jewish order out of Arab chaos.
Millions of Middle Eastern Arab refugees have been forcibly and savagely evacuated from their countries, made refugees, and maliciously driven out of the region towards Europe through the Mediterranean onto death-fated vessels and under the mercy of brutal human traffickers. Many end at the bottom of the sea, while many others end up in so-called humanitarian concentration camps with obscure futures in foreign lands with foreign languages and foreign cultures.
This refugee crisis is a military imposed Zionist-Jewish-made Arabian displacement from their own homeland, schemed a long time ago since the first Zionist Congress in 1897, whose graduated execution had started with the 1948 illegal establishment of colonial Israeli state in Palestine, and has been going on until this very day.
Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, wrote in his diaries in 1898 that “the Palestinians would be spirited across the border” out of the country. The Zionist David Ben-Gurion, who became the first Israeli prime minister, stated in a letter to his son: “We must expel Arabs and take their place.” He also has the cruel statement of “the old will die and the young will forget.”
Armed, financed, and politically supported and protected by the Zionist occupied successive American Administrations, the terrorist Israeli state waged aggressive wars against all its Arab neighbors. Despite all its superior military powers, the weakness and the division of Arab states, and the American and UN support and protection, Israel was not able to sustain its superiority and hegemony on the land due to some Palestinian freedom fighters such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and the Lebanese Hezbollah liberation movement. The Israeli army became exhausted and demoralized, and Israeli society became tired and wary of successive endless wars.
If Israel could not overcome a few resistance factions how could it, then, defeat well trained armies of other Arab countries; specifically Iraqi and Syrian armies? So, Zionist leaders sought to get the American army fight these wars in proxy for Israel.
Zionist 911 attack against Americans succeeded in spreading Islamophobia and pushing the US to start its endless wars in the Middle East. Iraq was the first victim and global terrorism was the justification. The US destroyed and devastated the country, uprooting in the process about 6,000,000 Iraqis, who sought refuge in some neighboring countries as well as in Europe.
Syria was next in line. Under the guise of Arab Spring and people’s struggle to attain democracy, mercenaries from virtually all over the world were recruited, trained and armed by Israel, US, UK, France, and Germany, and financed by Saudi and Qatari money, were shipped mainly through Turkey, and some through Jordan, into Syria to topple the government and to destroy the country.
Despite the hundreds of thousands of terrorist mercenaries and their use of the latest American made weapons, and chemical weapons, the Syrian Assad regime stood steadfast due to the army’s and people’s support to the regime, and also due to outside support from Lebanese Hezbollah, Iran, and Russia.
As each terrorist group gets defeated by the Syrian army, a new terrorist group is invented. While recruiting, arming and supporting these terrorists, the anti-Syrian alliance; US, NATO, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan to little extent, pretend to fight these terrorists and claim that this fight would take long years as if these terrorists are part of a regular army backed by a strong economic government.
Claiming to be Moslems, although they don’t have the faintest idea what Islam really is, these terrorist groups are fighting a Judaic Talmudist style war; “kill men, women, children and even cattle, destroy their homes, burn their cities, and don’t leave any alive” as ordered by Jewish god, their prophets and their rabbis. ISIS has been doing just that.
This brutal war had created so far 11,000,000 displaced Syrian refugees. This is the largest forced civilian displacement in the whole world since 1945. With their homes destroyed, their cities bombed into ruins, their businesses looted and burned, and many of their family members savagely slain and theatrically beheaded, 4,000,000 Syrians left the country seeking refuge away from the brutality of war. A few went to still-politically divided Lebanon. Two million went to Jordan where they were isolated into unsanitary refugee camps in the remote desert with meager food rations while many Jordanian officials are depositing most of the allotted financial aid into their pockets or foreign banks. Yet other refugees went to Turkey, where they were covertly encouraged by human traffickers to migrate into the more “humanitarian and wealthier” European countries.
Except for casual media mention of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean, the waves of these displaced refugees went ignored in the media until the picture of Aylan Kurdi washed on the shore was published followed by the discovery of 71 suffocated refugee bodies in an abandoned truck on an Austrian highway.
Suddenly the media jumped on the issue and declared the existence of a humanitarian “immigration” crisis. Distorting the facts and avoiding the real issue this Zionist controlled media called the refugees “immigrants” or “political asylum seekers” rather than forced displaced refugees. They called on European countries to do their humanitarian duty of accepting and integrating these “immigrants” into their own societies. They heralded German Chancellor, Angela Merkel’s humanitarian gesture of accepting 500 thousand Syrian immigrants every year, and encourage other European leaders to follow her suit. Unfortunate for Merkel, her seemingly humanitarian gesture would not, and could not mask her country’s role in arming terrorist Israel and ISIS. Germany is the third largest weapon exporter to the Middle East.
Notably, and astonishingly one may think, there are many European Jewish organizations, who are exhibiting their alleged humanitarian duty by urging European governments to accept Syrian refugees. They have also been organizing alleged Jewish humanitarian groups to help the Syrian refugees, although they are, as these Jews claim, anti-Semites. This seemingly Jewish humanitarian gesture, in my opinion, is a Zionist double edge cutting sword. On one edge it cuts the Arab majority vis-à-vis Jews in the Middle East, reducing the effect of what the Israelis call “the demographic bomb” by evacuating from the region as many indigenous Arab inhabitants as possible; millions of Arabs in this particular case. On the other edge it cuts the integrity and racial and cultural cohesiveness of European nations. Integrating large numbers of Arabs into Europe would definitely dilute its identity and cultural values.
Finding themselves in a foreign country with foreign language and culture, Middle Eastern refugees would tend to aggregate into their own separate communities (little Syrian towns) in order to feel safe and to preserve their own identity and culture. Such aggregation is a noticeable phenomenon in American coastal states; little China Town, Korea Town, Little Italy and the like. Besides the economic burden on their host countries, their existence would create unavoidable segregation, discrimination, racism, favoritism, exploitation, clash of cultures and ideologies, Islamophobia, homophobia, and crimes.
Many have called on the Arab World, especially the oil rich Gulf States, whose princes and leaders are among the richest people on the globe, to own and absorb the Syrian refugees. After all, these refugees are Arab and the majority are Moslems, and would be integrated harmoniously into similar Arab and Moslem countries. Unfortunately, being virtually occupied by the existent American military bases, these rich Gulf States are in reality part of the problem and could not be part of the solution. Saudi Arabia has lately revealed its Zionist color when it’s former Saudi general and ambassador to the U.S.; Anwar Eshki, who is a close adviser to King Salman, gave an interview to Israel’s Channel 10 news praising Netanyahu and admiring his courage, and stating that Saudi Arabia and Israel are facing one common enemy; Iran. He has been meeting with Israel’s Foreign Ministry Director-General; Dore Gold.
The Arab League, whose declared job is to maintain Arab unity and solve their problems, had been, actually, created to do just the opposite. The Arab League has never succeeded in solving any of the Arab issues, and had kept the Arab states divided. The League’s decisions are mainly anti-Arab. Amr Mousa, the previous Secretary-General, gave the green light to NATO forces to bomb and destroy Libya killing between 30 -50 thousand citizens, and the displacement of 3,000,000 more into the neighboring countries. The League also has formed an anti-Yemen coalition that is destroying Yemen and killing its citizens. Keep in mind that such coalition was paid for and enforced by Saudi Arabia.
Nabil Elaraby, the present Secretary-General of the Arab League, had made the decision to cancel Syrian membership in the League, had approved shipping arms to the anti-Syrian terrorist groups, and had blamed Syrian Assad for creating the refugee crisis. He declared that there is no formal decision to deal with the refugees. Let’s remember that Syria did not wait for any League’s formal decision to take in Palestinian, Lebanese, and Iraqi refugees during the last few decades.
The apparent well-known cause of this displaced refugee crisis is ignored by the Zionist controlled Western media and political puppets. The Zionist American administration, its European crony governments, and the Gulf rich puppets had created mercenary Salafist Wahhabi terrorist groups; Al-Qaeda, Free Syrian Army, Al-Nusra, ISIS, IS and other factions, and released them onto Syria to disintegrate its government and to destroy the whole country. In an effort to prolong this destructive war as long as possible, the American and British helicopters routinely drop weapons, drugs and money to these terrorist groups. American fighter planes and drones, Israeli fighter planes, and lately joined by Turkish fighter planes are bombing Syrian forces under the pretense of bombing IS terrorists.
Yet these terrorist supporting leaders, and Zionist controlled media, have the audacity to ignore their satanic role in this war and to recommend their own colonial solution. They are diverting the blame unto the democratically elected Syrian Assad regime, and are using the refugee tragedy to justify and encourage further “military intervention” in the Middle East that would accomplish the Zionist dream; aggravating the tragedy rather than solving it. Zionist puppet British Prime Minister David Cameron, for one example, accused Assad of “butchering his own people”, called for Assad’s assassination, and for carpet bombing of Damascus.
Sadly, the Western political leaders are infected with the Zionist war mongering madness, while the masses lack the proper financed organization to deny them the decision to wage wars
Western Sahara, formerly a Spanish colony, has been occupied by Morocco since 1975. Although the decolonization of Western Sahara has been on the U.N.’s agenda for 40 years, Morocco (together with its allies) has managed to freeze this process, while further entrenching its hold of the occupied territory.
One of the reasons behind Morocco’s aggression and annexation was Western Sahara’s abundance of natural resources, and ever since the occupation began, Morocco has plundered these resources for economic profit. Western Sahara has one of the largest phosphate reserves in the world and is famous for its rich fishing waters, perhaps the richest along the African coast. Furthermore, the prospects for locating oil and gas deposits has attracted exploration in the territory.
In a recent development, which is all too familiar, an Irish oil company San Leon Energy began drilling south of Morocco’s border, on the north-western coast of occupied Western Sahara. For the oil drilling – and other resource extraction – to have legal validity, however, it ought to be carried out with the consent and in the interest of the occupied population. But not only has the local population of Western Sahara not been consulted, the Sahrawi people have explicitly stated their opposition to San Leon’s activities.
In a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) Mohamed Abdelaziz stated, “We urgently request that the Secretary-General condemn these activities, which are in clear violation of international law, and call on Morocco and complicit foreign companies to stop the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara.”
The SADR’s position echoes that of the U.N. and the international community. In 2002, the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Hans Corell wrote, that if the exploitation of natural resources “were to proceed in disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara, they would be in violation of the international law principles applicable to mineral resource activities in Non-Self-Governing Territories.”
Contradicting countless U.N. resolutions and the clearly stated position of the SADR, San Leon claims that its “operations are in keeping with our obligations under international law and work for the betterment of all persons in the Southern Provinces of Morocco.” “Southern Provinces” is the term that the Moroccan government uses for Western Sahara.
San Leon is far from the only foreign actor engaged in legally dubious economic activity in occupied Western Sahara. The most profitable economic activity for Morocco in the occupied territory is the phosphate industry. A recent study by the watchdog organization Western Sahara Resource Watch identified nine companies that imported phosphate originating in Western Sahara in 2014 alone. The major importers were companies based in Canada and Lithuania.
Perhaps the most controversial act of the EU with regard to Western Sahara was the re-signing of a fisheries agreement with Morocco in 2013. In 2011, the European Parliament had suspended the agreement. In his speech before the parliament, professor of international law Pål Wrange stated, that were the fisheries agreement extended “it will make the EU and its member states further liable for a violation of international law, namely as a recognition of and assistance to serious breaches of international law by Morocco.”
Under the renewed fisheries agreement Morocco, in return for an annual payment of US$62 million (€40 million), European fishing vessels are granted licenses to fish in its waters, including in Western Sahara. This is legally questionable – as noted by Wrange – because it indirectly accepts Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara. In 2014, the representatives of the Sahrawi people demanded an annulment of the fisheries agreement and took their case to the European Court of Justice.
A somewhat similar dynamic is at play with regard to Israel’s settlement enterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. While taking the position that Israel’s settlement construction in the West Bank is “illegal under international law, constitutes an obstacle to peace and threatens to make a two-state solution impossible”, the EU’s continued trade in settlement produce supports the sustenance of the settlements. Palestinian human rights organization Al Haq even maintains that, “Without the economic support generated by trade with international stakeholders, the very existence of settlements, in particular in the Jordan Valley area, would be seriously threatened.”
It seems that the EU continues to prioritize its economic and strategic interests over international law in its bilateral relations with Morocco. The EU’s and Morocco’s annual trade amounts to nearly US$46 billion (€30 billion), accounting for more than 50 percent of Moroccan trade altogether. In fact, the EU is the biggest trading partner of both Morocco and Israel. In both cases, the EU’s economic leverage is exceptional, and its ability to exert pressure on the occupying parties, if it so wanted, is considerable.
The Syrian refugee problem was maturing slowly steadily and would have provided the perfect pretext for a US-led ‘humanitarian intervention’ in that country. But Russia is there first and the best-laid American plan may have gone awry.
The US’ Middle East policies have been fixated obsessively on ‘regime change’ in Syria for at least a decade ever since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. (The original neocon agenda had envisaged regime changes in Iraq, Iran and Syria, but it got derailed as the killing fields in Iraq began dictating the geopolitics.)
It stands to reason that the Russian intelligence has caught on to the US’ diabolical plot to create a fait accompli in Syria on the ground. Washington’s Faustian deal with Turkey and President Barack Obama’s authorization for air strikes in Syria (including against government forces), the haste with which Britain and Australia joined the US’ bombing mission on Syria, NATO statements, the behind-the-scenes undercutting by the US of Moscow’s robust efforts to kickstart an intra-Syrian peace process – the tell-tale signs on the politico-military plane were there aplenty.
But the clincher would have been the Russian intelligence input. In a rare public disclosure on Sunday during an interview with the state television – probably prearranged with deliberation – Russian Foreign Minister hinted at the hidden American agenda in Syria behind the so-called fight to ‘degrade and defeat’ the Islamic State. Lavrov said,
- I hope I would not fail anyone by saying some of our counterparts, members of the coalition, say they sometimes have information about where, at which positions are the IS certain groups, but the coalition’s commander /in the U.S. naturally/ would not agree to deliver a strike.
- Our American counterparts either from the very beginning were establishing the coalition not enough thoroughly, or the idea was it should have the goals other from those declared. The coalition was formed very spontaneously: within just a few days they declared it was ready, certain countries have joined, and they began some strikes.
- Analysis of the coalition’s aviation causes weird impressions. The suspicions are (that) besides the declared goal of fighting the Islamic State there is something else in that coalition’s goals. I do not want to make any conclusions – it is not clear what impressions, information of higher ideas the commander may have – but signals of the kind are coming.
Lavrov is a highly experienced and brilliant diplomat. Most certainly, he wouldn’t have made an off-the-cuff remark of this sort. To be sure, the proxy war in Syria has acquired a terrible beauty. Lavrov has politely told the US to back off from undercutting Russia’s decision to go for the jugular veins of the IS — or else, there will be mud on Obama’s face. In plain terms, Lavrov has signaled to Washington that Moscow knows about the American game plan to foster the IS as its cats paw to be eventually inserted into Russia’s underbelly in Central Asia and North Caucasus.
Of course, Russian intelligence must be aware that hundreds of fighters have travelled from Russia to join the IS. (Actually, Abu Omar Shishani, an ethnic Chechen, is a prominent IS commander.) Given this grim reality, Moscow has decided to draw a red line. It has concluded that the IS poses a significant menace to the Muslim-majority regions of Russia’s north Caucasus.
The seriousness with which Moscow has taken this looming threat to its national security is evident from the decision by President Vladimir Putin to visit the UN General Assembly in New York later this month to make a high-profile call for international cooperation to defeat the IS.
The parallel tracks – stepping up of military involvement in Syria on the ground and the opening up of a diplomatic track through the UN podium – aim at defeating the US’ attempt to repeat the cold war era strategy of pitting militant Islam against Russia by isolating Washington.
The Russian diplomacy through the recent past has aimed at developing extensive networking in the Muslim Middle East. The effort seems to be paying off. Interestingly, Lavrov all but disclosed during the TV interview in Moscow yesterday that the US’ regional allies in the Middle East themselves have developed misgivings about Washington’s real intentions vis-à-vis the IS. It is a stunning disclosure, indeed.
Equally, Lavrov lifted the veil a little bit to let the Americans know that the Russian military intelligence has not only been monitoring the operations of the American military aircraft in Iraq but have scientifically analyzed the US aircraft’s flight plans and so on. In sum, Russians seem to have intelligence dope to substantiate something that the Iranians have been all along maintaining, namely, that the American aircraft are regularly airdropping supplies for the IS.
To be sure, the assertive Russian military move on Syria has taken Washington by surprise. Short of putting American boots on the ground in Syria, Washington’s options to push back at the Russians are limited. Greece and Iran have conveyed to Russia that they will provide air clearance for Russian aircraft flying to Syria. (Washington had pulled strings in Athens to deny clearance for Russian aircraft.)
But the biggest setback for the US’ containment strategy against Russia in Syria is stemming from the dramatic change in the mood of the European countries that are beset with the Syrian refugee problem. The Schengen visa system, which has been the pride of the European Union and a symbol of European unity, has overnight packed up and border controls have reappeared across the region. (here and here).
The call by German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Europe and Russia must cooperate over Syria is a signpost of the shape of things to come. Quite obviously, Moscow must be sensing that the mood in Europe is becoming increasingly unfavorable for the Americans to push their containment strategy against Russia — not only over Syria but also Ukraine. (See my blog Ukraine tensions easing, but US won’t let go easily.)
The point is, the Europeans can’t be accepting it that they are being called upon by the US to handle the debris falling out of the covert US strategy to fuel a civil war to overthrow the established government of President Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. President Obama intends to prepare America to accept a token 10,000 Syrian refugees next year, but it is not even a drop in the bucket, considering that 4 million people, one fifth Syria’s population, have fled the country since the war began in 2011.
This must be turning into the biggest foreign-policy disaster of the Obama presidency. The US is caught between the rock and a hard place. Russia is unlikely to budge despite the US displaying annoyance, since its core interests of national security are involved in the fight against the IS for which it needs the participation of the Syrian government forces.
On the other hand, US’ regional allies and the neocons at home are pressing Obama ‘to do something’, while the European allies, on the contrary, have made it clear that they want an end to the conflict in Syria. The only option open to the US will be to dump the IS altogether and bury the project to manipulate militant Islamist groups as an instrument of its regional policies and to further its containment strategy against Russia. But then, it is not so easy to kill one’s own progenies.
Campaigners sharply condemned a European Commission (EC) proposal to create a new corporate court system to replace its highly controversial Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism on Wednesday.
The ISDS system is central to an EU-US trade agreement being negotiated behind closed doors, which could allow corporations to sue governments if they act against their interests.
Known as The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the trade deal has been shunned by almost 3 million European citizens. Some 97 percent of respondents to an EC consultation flatly rejected the trade deal’s ISDS dimension.
The EC put forward a proposal for an alternative court system on Wednesday – a move it said would make the ISDS mechanism more transparent and allow states to appeal against multinationals’ legal challenges. But campaigners say the suggested changes are merely cosmetic, and would still allow corporations to sue governments in secret court settings.
Another EU-Canada trade deal known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which is currently awaiting ratification, contains an old version of the ISDS mechanism. It has also received widespread opposition from campaigners worldwide.
Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden said the EC’s proposed new court system is effectively “a PR exercise.”
“The European Commission says that this new proposal is based on ‘substantial input’ from its public consultation, but 97 percent of the thousands of responses it received in this consultation were clearly opposed to ISDS in any form,” he said on Wednesday.
“This alternative proposal is essentially a PR exercise to get around the enormous controversy and opposition that has been generated by ISDS.”
Dearden said the proposed corporate court system will still give corporations unnerving new powers.
“The Commission can try to put lipstick on a pig, but this new proposal doesn’t change the fundamental problem of giving corporations frightening new powers at the expense of our national democracies,” he said.
“Although a little more transparency is no bad thing, the real issue at hand here is that of corporate power.
“This change shows the European Commission is feeling the pressure of nearly 3 million people opposing TTIP and CETA, the two looming deals featuring ISDS,” Dearden added. He noted, however, that the EC has failed to halt the ratification of CETA.
Redacted documents detailing covert meetings between the EC and powerful tobacco lobbyists recently compounded fears TTIP would allow tobacco giants to sue governments that attempt to legislate in the public interest.
The documents, which confirmed the EC had met with lobbyists paid to peddle the interests of Big Tobacco, were published in late August.
This glaring lack of transparency sparked widespread fear among TTIP’s critics that the trade deal would empower tobacco giants to sue governments that seek to regulate the tobacco industry more stringently.
Powerful tobacco firms have previously used comparable trade deals to sue the governments of other states, who sought to crack down on its advertising.
US tobacco giant Phillip Morris previously took legal action against the Australian government after it introduced mandatory plain cigarette packaging. The firm is also embroiled in a $25-million lawsuit against Uruguay’s government in a bid to stop it from enlarging health warnings on cigarette packaging.
To keep Ukrainians warm, EU citizens will have to shell out a total of one billion euros, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) reported.
As Ukraine is broke and needs money to pay for gas for the upcoming winter, European taxpayers will have to cover the bill, the German newspaper predicted.
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and European Commission Vice President on Energy Union Maros Sefcovic met in Vienna late last week. The sides agreed that Brussels will pay €500 million for Kiev’s gas supply.
“Ukraine urgently needs to fill its gas storages to survive the winter,” DWN said, adding that the €500 million only covered half of the bill and soon Brussels will need another half a million to pay Ukraine’s gas bill.
The bill might increase if winter months turn out to be colder than the last year, DWN reported.
Earlier this week, Ukraine’s Deputy Energy Minister Olexandr Svetelik said that Kiev was satisfied with the conditions for Russian gas supplies, which it suspended for the period July-September, despite Moscow’s discount proposal. Reverse flows from Slovakia, Hungary and Poland currently supply Ukraine’s gas needs.
Kiev expects to receive a foreign loan for winter gas supplies by late October, which Novak had said would help finance 2 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Ukraine’s underground storage facilities this and next month.
I’m confused about quite a lot of things going on in the world. The West is supposed to be fighting ISIS, yet seems keener on toppling a government which is fighting ISIS. A refugee crisis caused by Western interventions is being used as a pretext for more Western wars.
Elite media commentators keen to stress their humanitarianism, cry ‘something must be done’ about Syria, yet appear not to notice the on-going humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.
There are violent anti-government protests again in Ukraine, but the reaction from the US is very different to when there were violent anti-government protests in Ukraine eighteen months ago. What on earth is going on? Perhaps you can help me sort out my confusion…
The first thing I’m confused about is the refugee crisis currently affecting Europe.
The vast majority of refugees are coming from countries e.g. Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, which were targeted by the West for ‘regime change’ and which experienced bombing/invasion or destabilization by NATO powers and their regional allies.
We’re told by the West’s political elite and much of the media that in order to stop the influx of refugees to Europe we need to do more bombing.
But if bombing solves the problem of refugees, why are people fleeing from countries, such as Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya that the West has already bombed?
How can more bombs and intervention solve a problem caused by bombs and intervention? And how can the imposition of a no-fly zone in Syria stop ISIS, which doesn’t have an air force?
I’m confused. Can anyone help me?
On the subject of Syria I’m confused about the West’s obsession with toppling President Assad and his government. The secular Syrian government does not and did not threaten the West, and its sworn enemies are the groups- such as Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, which we are supposed to have been fighting ‘a war on terror’ against. If radical Islamist terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and ISIS are such a danger, why are we still trying to topple a government which has been fighting them? Why does UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne say that the British Parliament’s refusal to support US-led air-strikes on the Syrian government in 2013 was “one of the worst decisions the House of Commons has ever made” when voting ‘Yes’ would have put the RAF on the same side as ISIS – a group which claimed responsibility for the killing of 30 British tourists on a beach in Tunisia earlier this summer? Surely if our leaders really wanted to defeat ISIS, they would be working with countries in the region that have a vested interest in defeating ISIS – like the government in Syria – and not working to overthrow them, which would only help ISIS.
I’m confused. Can anyone help me?
I’m confused about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
It’s the proposed free trade deal between the free, open democracies of Europe, and that bastion of democracy the US, but the deal itself is shrouded in secrecy and can only be read by politicians in a secure reading room in Brussels.
If TTIP is so great- as its supporters claim, why can’t we see its terms and provisions? Why in ‘democratic’ Europe, where our leaders all claim to support public participation in the political process, are we being kept in the dark over a deal which is likely to have a major impact on our daily lives? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?
I’m confused too about events in Yemen, and the lack of concern from Western ’humanitarian interventionists’ over what is happening in the country.
A Saudi-Arabian led alliance has been bombing Yemen since March – yet despite Amnesty International reporting that the bombing campaign has left a “bloody trail of civilian death and destruction paved with evidence of war crimes”- the West‘s “Something Must Be Done” brigade have been strangely silent.
“The civilian population is bearing the brunt of the conflict: a shocking four out of five Yemenis require humanitarian assistance and nearly 1.5 million people are internally displaced,” says Stephen O’Brien, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.
In Libya in 2011 we had a no-fly zone imposed to prevent massacres that might happen- in Yemen, we’re seeing large scale casualties as a result of airstrikes but this time there’s no calls for NFZs from Western leaders or ‘liberal interventionists’ in the media.
Why was there a ‘Responsibility to Protect’ civilians in Libya in 2011, but not a ‘Responsibility to Protect’ civilians who are being killed in Yemen in 2015?
I’m confused. Can anyone help me?
I’m confused about US policy towards anti-government protests in Ukraine which involve violence from ultra-nationalists.
In early 2014, there were violent protests against the democratically elected government of Viktor Yanukovich, protests in which ultra-nationalists played a prominent role. The US and its allies told the Ukrainian government that it was not allowed to use force against protestors, even though some of them smashed into government buildings and threw Molotov cocktails at police.
“We unequivocally condemn the use of force against civilians by security forces and urge that those forces be withdrawn immediately,” said Secretary of State Kerry.
But last week, when there were fresh anti-government protests involving ultra-nationalists in Kiev which also involved violence, the US’s line was rather different. “Law enforcement agencies need to exercise restraint, but there’s an obligation on the protestors to behave in a peaceful manner”- a State Department spokesman said. Why was there criticism of violent ultra-nationalist protestors in August 2015, but not criticism of violent ultra-nationalist protestors in February 2014? And why was the Ukrainian government given a fierce warning in 2014, but not one this time?
I’m confused. Can anyone help me?
I’m also confused about the continuation of the sanctions war between the US and its allies and Russia. The OSCE report that things are calming down in eastern Ukraine.
Its Special Monitoring Mission report of 5th September said there were “few ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region and none in Lugansk.”
But despite this, the US and Britain are not talking about the easing of sanctions. On the contrary, there have been calls for sanctions to be extended. The economic damage of the sanctions war to EU economies has been put at $100 billion-with 2 million jobs at risk. Surely, seeing how things have calmed down in the Donbass region, and the damage that the sanctions war is doing to Europe, the sensible thing is for the sanctions to be eased or lifted altogether?
Or is there another agenda at work here, that has nothing to do with events in eastern Ukraine and which we’re not being told about?
I’m confused. Can anyone help me?
I’m confused about photographs of dead children and why some seem to affect the Western elites more than others. The photograph of poor little Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian refugee washed up on the shore in Turkey, has been used to drum up support for bombing Syria.
Yet photographs of dead Palestinian children, killed in the Israeli offensive against Gaza last year, brought no such response. On the contrary, this week the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting Britain and can expect to receive the red carpet treatment. Among the 539 killed by Israeli forces in Gaza were four children, aged between 9 and 11, who were killed while playing on the beach. Why did their deaths not lead to a political/media campaign for ‘action’ to be taken, as the death of Aylan Kurdi has?
The general public certainly cares: a petition calling for Netanyahu to be arrested for Israeli war crimes when he visits Britain received over 100,000 signatures, meaning that it has to be debated in Parliament. But government minister Eric Pickles dismissed the petition as ‘completely absurd’. Why is it ‘completely absurd’ to care about dead Palestinian children as well as dead Syrian ones?
I’m confused. Can anyone help me?