June 29, 2015
The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has flown from Vienna to Tehran for consultations after holding tough negotiations with his Western counterparts on the Iranian Nuclear program. The negotiations on the final bargaining conditions of Tehran’s nuclear program have ended with no result and it’s become evident that they will pass over the Tuesday deadline. RT is joined by political commentator Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich.
Fifty countries on Monday signed the articles of agreement for the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the first major global financial instrument independent from the Bretton Woods system.
Seven remaining countries out of the 57 that have applied to be founding members, Denmark, Kuwait, Malaysia, Philippines, Holland, South Africa and Thailand, are awaiting domestic approval.
“This will be a significant event. The constitution will lay a solid foundation for the establishment and operation of the AIIB,” said Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei.
The AIIB will have an authorized capital of $100 billion, divided into shares that have a value of $100,000.
BRICS members China, India and Russia are the three largest shareholders, with a voting share of 26.06 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 5.92 per cent, respectively.
Following the signing of the bank’s charter, the agreement on the $100 billion AIIB will now have to be ratified by the parliaments of the founding members.
Asian countries will contribute up to 75 per cent of the total capital and be allocated a share of the quota based on their economic size.
Chinese Vice Finance Minister Shi Yaobin said China’s initial stake and voting share are “natural results” of current rules, and may be diluted as more members join.
Australia was first to sign the agreement in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday, state media reports said.
The Bank will base its headquarters in Beijing.
The Chinese Finance Ministry said the new lender will start operations by the end of 2015 under two preconditions: At least 10 prospective members ratify the agreement, and the initial subscribed capital is no less than 50 per cent of the authorized capital.
The AIIB will extend China’s financial reach and compete not only with the World Bank, but also with the Asian Development Bank, which is heavily dominated by Japan.
China and other emerging economies, including BRICS, have long protested against their limited voice at other multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank (ADB).
China is grouped in the ‘Category II’ voting bloc at the World Bank while at the Asian Development Bank, China with a 5.5 per cent share is far outdone by America’s 15.7 per cent and Japan’s 15.6 per cent share.
The ADB has estimated that in the next decade Asian countries will need $8 trillion in infrastructure investments to maintain the current economic growth rate.
China scholar Asit Biswas at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore, says Washington’s criticism of the China-led Bank is “childish”.
“Some critics argue that the AIIB will reduce the environmental, social and procurement standards in a race to the bottom. This is a childish criticism, especially because China has invited other governments to help with funding and governance,” he writes.
The US and Japan have not applied for the membership in the AIIB.
However, despite US pressures on its allies not to join the bank, Britain, France, Germany, Italy among others have signed on as founding members of the China-led Bank.
Meanwhile, New Zealand and Australia have already announced that they will invest $87.27 million and $718 million respectively as paid-in capital to the AIIB.
The new lender will finance infrastructure projects like the construction of roads, railways, and airports in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Iran, 49 states sign Asia bank charter
Iran on Monday joined 49 countries in signing up to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), bringing Asia’s largest financial lender a step closer to existence.
Finance and Economy Minister Ali Tayebnia put Iran’s signature to the bank’s articles of association at a ceremony in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, which capped six months of intense negotiations.
In April, China accepted Iran as a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank being seen as a rival to the US-led World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank.
With the signing which amounted to the creation of AIIB’s legal framework, China’s Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said he was confident the bank could start functioning before the end of the year.
Seven more founding members would ink the articles after approval by their respective governments.
The bank will have a capital of $100 billion in the form of shares, each worth $100,000, distributed among the members. Beijing will be by far the largest shareholder at about 30%, followed by India at 8.4% and Russia at 6.5%.
China will also have 26% of the votes which are not enough to give it a veto on decision-making, while smaller members will have larger voice.
Singapore’s Senior Minister for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo said the bank will provide new opportunities for its members’ businesses and promote sustainable growth in Asia.
Seventy-five percent of AIIB’s shares are distributed within the Asian region while the rest is assigned among countries beyond it.
Germany, France and Brazil are among the non-Asian members of the bank despite US efforts to dissuade allies from joining it. Another US ally joining AIIB is Australia but Japan has stayed away from it.
Countries beyond the region can expand their share but the portion cannot be bigger than 30%. Public procurement of the AIIB will be open to all countries around the world.
But the president of the bank will have to be chosen from the Asian region for a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.
The bank will be headquartered in Beijing and its lean structure will be overseen by an unpaid, non-resident board of directors which, architects say, would save it money and friction in decision-making.
Earlier this month, former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke rebuked US lawmakers for allowing China to found the new bank, which threatens to upend Washington’s domination over the world economic order.
He said lawmakers were to blame because they refused to agree 2010 reforms that would have given greater clout to China and other emerging powers in the International Monetary Fund.
June 28, 2015
As NATO and Russia revive the old nuclear Cold War, the public is being prepared to accept the first-strike use of tactical nuclear weapons on targets in the Middle East and elsewhere. And as the world inches closer to a World War III scenario, we find the old MAD doctrine being revived in a new round of madness.
JERUSALEM – An Israeli minister on Friday urged French Jews to move to Israel after a suspected Islamist attacked a factory near Lyon and pinned a severed head to the gates.
“I call on the Jews of France – come home! Anti-Semitism is rising, terror is increasing,” immigration minister Zeev Elkin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party said in a statement.
“This is a national mission of the highest priority.”
A suspected Islamist launched a daylight raid on an industrial gas factory in France Friday, killing a businessman from the suburbs of Lyon.
“The intent was without doubt to cause an explosion. It was a terrorist attack,” said French President Francois Hollande in Brussels, cutting short an EU summit to chair emergency meetings in the French capital.
Netanyahu sparked controversy by encouraging French Jews to move to Israel in the wake of January’s Paris attacks that left 17 dead, including four at a Jewish supermarket, many arguing that the Israeli PM acted on political opportunism.
In response, director of the European Jewish Association Rabbi Menachem Margolin was quoted as saying he regretted that “after every anti-Semitic attack in Europe, the Israeli government issues the same statements about the importance of aliyah [immigration to Israel], rather than employ every diplomatic and informational means at its disposal to strengthen the safety of Jewish life in Europe.
“Every such Israeli campaign severely weakens and damages the Jewish communities that have the right to live securely wherever they are,” Haaertz reported Margolin as saying.
More than three million Jews have immigrated to Israel since its creation in 1948 — including one million from former Soviet states since 1990 — under the Law of Return, which offers citizenship and benefits to Jews from anywhere in the world.
However, millions of Palestinians in exile — those whose descendants were among the 750,000 who fled or were driven from their homes during the war that led to Israel’s creation in 1948 — are barred from returning to their land in what is now Israel.
Ma’an staff contributed to this report.
A majority of people in the United States are supporting a military strike against Russia in response to an attack by Moscow on a NATO country, according to a new survey.
The poll conducted by the Pew Research Center showed Wednesday that 56 percent of Americans back a military response.
The result is in sharp contrast with the European countries as people in Germany, Italy and France do not support war on Russia.
In Germany, 58 percent of the respondents said they are against the use of military force. People in France and Italy oppose the idea 53 and 51 percent respectively.
After the US, 53 percent of the public in Canada are in favor of a military response.
“Many allied countries are reluctant to uphold Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which requires NATO members to defend an ally with armed force if necessary,” the survey said.
The survey also indicated that people in NATO countries view Russia as the culprit in the deadly Ukraine conflict.
The US accuses Russia of destabilizing Ukraine by supporting pro-Russian forces in the eastern regions. The Kremlin, however, denies the allegations.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Ukraine crisis was deliberately manufactured by “unprofessional actions” of the West.
“I believe that this crisis was created deliberately and it is the result of our partner’s unprofessional actions,” Putin said.
“I would like to emphasize once more: this was not our choice, we did not seek it, we are simply forced to respond to what is happening,” he added.
Former French prime minister Francois Fillon has said that Europe is now fully dependent on the US, which is dragging it into a ‘crusade’ against Russia and is pursuing a policy which is absolutely contradictory to European interests.
“Europe nowadays has lost its independence. The US is dragging it into a ‘crusade’ against Russia, which absolutely contradicts European interests,” former French prime minister Francois Fillon said in an interview with the French news channel BFMTV.
“The US is also pressuring Germany to yield to the demands of Greece in order to find a compromise. German intelligence is spying on France, but not in its own interests, but those of the US,” he said.
The politician also added that the US justice system constantly interferes into the work of the European judicial authorities.
In the Middle East, the US is pursuing a policy which completely contradicts European interests and is a real danger to them, but the countries of Europe are forced to agree to it.
Fillon also criticized the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement between the EU and the US and added that he is decisively against signing it, given the way it is worded now.
PARIS – The chairman of Orange told AFP on Saturday that he “sincerely” regretted a “controversy” over the French telecoms group’s relations with Israel, saying, the Orange Group “is in Israel to stay.”
Stephane Richard denied that the company’s decision to end its brand-licensing agreement with Partner, Israel’s second largest mobile operator, “as soon as possible from a contractual point of view,” in any way implied that Orange was seeking to withdraw.
Richard touched off a firestorm of criticism on Wednesday when he told reporters in Cairo he was ready to “withdraw Orange brand from Israel.”
“Our intention is to withdraw from Israel. It will take time,” but “for sure we will do it,” Richard said during an interview with Egyptian newspaper Daily News earlier this week.
Partner, which has a license from the French company to use its brand, has been attacked by rights groups for operating in illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank.
At the end of May, five non-governmental organizations and two unions in France asked Orange to state publicly its willingness to sever its ties with Partner and denounce “attacks on human rights” allegedly carried out by the Israeli firm.
Despite this, Richard said at the time it was a purely business decision, not political, that Orange does not license its brand.
The comments touched a raw nerve in Israel, which is growing increasingly concerned about global boycott efforts and the impact on its image abroad.
A furious Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the decision by Orange, which is part state-owned, as “miserable.”
The fresh Franco-Israeli spat comes after a high-profile diplomatic row in December when French lawmakers voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state.
France’s top diplomat Fabius also said that Paris and the European Union “have a consistent policy on settlement-building that is known to all.”
In addition to drawing criticism from the BDS movement, Partner’s servicing of settlements throughout the West Bank also point to larger inequalities between residents in Jewish-only settlements throughout the West Bank and neighboring Palestinian locals.
While Partner’s business activities allegedly contributing to the economic viability of illegal settlements, Israeli policies regarding mobile service itself in the occupied West Bank have been criticized by rights groups.
As countries across the Middle East graduate to 4G mobile service, service providers in the West Bank are unable to provide even 3G mobile data due to a refusal by Israel to grant the Palestinian Authority the bandwidth necessary.
As a result, Palestinians are forced to choose between outdated 2G service or buying contracts with Israeli companies servicing settlers illegally residing throughout the West Bank.
Despite rejection by French leadership of the potential break of Orange from Israel’s Partner, the BDS movement has gained momentum in France in recent years, with French corporate giant Veolia selling nearly all of its business activity in Israel last month.
Ma’an staff contributed to this report.
Russia won’t try and get its ill-fated Mistral helicopter carriers from France, a Russian official has announced. Moscow and Paris are set to discuss damages to be paid by France for welching on the deal.
“Russia won’t be taking them [the Mistral vessels]. That’s a fact. There’s just a single discussion underway at the moment – on the amount of money that should be returned to Russia,” Oleg Bochkarev, a deputy chairman of the Russian governmental Military-Industrial Commission, is cited as saying by RBC.
The negotiations have been “transferred into the commercial field” and “major efforts are being made today” for Russia to receive damages, Bochkarev told RIA Novosti.
France reportedly offered €748 million as compensation, but Russia turned down the proposal, calling it “laughable.”
The official also said that Russia would build its own helicopter carriers, in place of the Mistral warships, which Paris refused to supply Moscow.
“We have such vessels planned, they’re on the drawing board,” Bochkarev stressed, adding that they will be of a different class to the French-built ships as “there’s no point copying the Mistrals.”
Russia and France signed a €1.12 billion contract to build two Mistral class amphibious ships in 2011.
Under the deal, Russia was supposed to receive the first of the two Mistral-class helicopter carriers, the Vladivostok, in October 2014 and the second, the Sevastopol, in 2015. But the mood in Paris went through a sea change.
In mid-2014, the French side postponed delivery indefinitely due to pressure from the US and the EU, which have imposed a set of sanctions against Moscow over the accession of Crimea and Russia’s alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis.
In late April, French President Francois Hollande acknowledged that Russia should get a refund if it doesn’t receive the Mistral ships.
Earlier this month, an article in the Le Point weekly magazine said the French government could end up having to pay “between €2 billion and €5 billion,” if it doesn’t fulfill its contractual obligations with Russia.
The French Navy repeatedly stated that it doesn’t need the Mistrals as they are built according to Russian standards.
Reports have emerged that the cheapest solution for France would be to scuttle the two newly-built ships as maintaining them costs an estimated €2 to €5 million every month.
Every moment of every day, all of humanity is held hostage by the nuclear nine. The nine nuclear nations are made up of the P5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and their illegitimate nuclear wannabes Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan, spawned by the mythological theory of deterrence. This theory has fueled the nuclear arms race since its inception wherein if one nation has one nuclear weapon, its adversary needs two and so on to the point that the world now has 15,700 nuclear weapons wired for immediate use and planetary destruction with no end in sight. This inaction continues despite the 45-year legal commitment of the nuclear nations to work toward complete nuclear abolition. In fact just the opposite is happening with the U.S. proposing to spend $1 Trillion on nuclear weapons “modernization” over the next 30 years, fueling the “deterrent” response of every other nuclear state to do likewise.
This critical state of affairs comes as the 189 signatory nations to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concluded the month long Review Conference at the U.N. in New York. The conference was officially a failure due to the refusal of the nuclear weapons states to present or even support real steps toward disarmament. The nuclear gang demonstrates an unwillingness to recognize the peril that the planet faces at the end of their nuclear gun; they continue to gamble on the future of humanity. Presenting a charade of concern, they blamed each other and bogged down in discussions over a glossary of terms while the hand of the nuclear Armageddon clock continues to move ever forward.
The nuclear weapons states have chosen to live in a vacuum, one void of leadership. They hoard suicidal nuclear weapons stockpiles and ignore recent scientific evidence of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons that we now realize makes these weapons even more dangerous than we thought before. They fail to recognize that this evidence must be the basis for prohibiting and eliminating them.
Fortunately there is one powerful and positive response coming out of the NPT Review Conference. The Non-Nuclear Weapons States, representing a majority of people living on the planet, frustrated and threatened by the nuclear nations, have come together and demanded a legal ban on nuclear weapons like the ban on every other weapon of mass destruction from chemical to biologic and landmines. Their voices are rising up. Following a pledge by Austria in December 2014 to fill the legal gap necessary to ban these weapons, 107 nations have joined them at the U.N. this month. That commitment means finding a legal instrument that would prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. Such a ban will make these weapons illegal and will stigmatize any nation that continues to have these weapons as being outside of international law.
Costa Rica’s closing NPT remarks noted, ”Democracy has not come to the NPT but Democracy has come to nuclear weapons disarmament.” The nuclear weapons states have failed to demonstrate any leadership toward total disarmament and in fact have no intention of doing so. They must now step aside and allow the majority of the nations to come together and work collectively for their future and the future of humanity. John Loretz of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons said, “The nuclear-armed states are on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of morality, and the wrong side of the future. The ban treaty is coming, and then they will be indisputably on the wrong side of the law. And they have no one to blame but themselves.”
“History honors only the brave,” declared Costa Rica. “Now is the time to work for what is to come, the world we want and deserve.”
Ray Acheson of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom says, “Those who reject nuclear weapons must have the courage of their convictions to move ahead without the nuclear-armed states, to take back ground from the violent few who purport to run the world, and build a new reality of human security and global justice.”
Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Hussein al-Bukhaiti, a Yemeni activist and political commentator, in Sana’a, to discuss the Western countries’ support for Saudi Arabia’s aggression against Yemen.
This is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: The French president obviously has a star on his report card and resume for attending this summit of the Persian Gulf countries. So, their support for Saudi Arabia, which has used cluster munitions inside Yemen, these are US-made cluster munitions, doesn’t that go against the whole notion of democracy that they preach?
Al-Bukhaiti: Yes, exactly. As the human rights report has said, the Saudis have used cluster bombs in some areas in Sa’ada. And I want to remind the people watching your channel that they have done that in 2009 and they used thousands of American cluster bombs and this is against international law.
If the United States and Saudi Arabia have not signed on to the cluster bomb ban, but the United Sates is still responsible and they should not give weapons to countries that can be used by them in civilian areas; and if you see most of the Western countries are in this conspiracy in fighting Yemen and it is not only Saudi Arabia… the United States is behind it, the United Kingdom and as well the French government… and even any government in Europe that has not said anything or stood against this war… it must be with it.
Press TV: It is interesting to see it is not just France that we see selling arms, the UK obviously sells arms to these Persian Gulf countries, also obviously the United States is selling arms. Is that a precondition for the relationship? These Western countries say, ‘You have to buy our arms; then we lay off the human rights violations that take place in the countries?’
Al-Bukhaiti: Yes, exactly. This is how the United States and other countries make money from their weapons industry. They will sell you weapons and then they know they are selling it to a dictatorship but they are responsible for any casualties in Yemen and the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates and other [Persian] Gulf states are almost number one in buying from the United States.
And I think the United States for its war machine to continue producing weapons, they need to start a war every ten to 20 years. They have done it in Afghanistan, they have done it in Iraq, they have done it in Syria and then in Libya and now it was time for Yemen and I am sure the time after that is going to come I expect Egypt because I know that it does not matter if Egypt is with Saudis and the Americans now, but as long as a strong army is near Israel, they will at one point try to destroy it as they did the same in Syria.
French President Francois Hollande has confessed that the country delivered various kinds of weapons, including lethal ones, to foreign-backed militants fighting in Syria, a new book reveals.
“We began when we were certain they (weapons) would end up in the right hands. For the lethal weapons it was our services who delivered them,” Hollande told author Xavier Panon in an interview in May last year.
The book, titled “In the corridors of French diplomacy,” is coming out in France this month.
According to Hollande, France sent canons, machine guns, rocket launchers and anti-tank missiles to the militants fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2012 despite an arms embargo.
The European Union’s arms embargo on Syria’s foreign-sponsored militants was in place from March 2011 to May 2013.
The book also discloses a series of diplomatic and military measures against the Syrian administration by the French government both under Hollande and previous president Nicolas Sarkozy.
One of the moves was a series of planned August 2013 air raids against the Syrian government allegedly for its use of chemical weapons, which Washington and its Western allies rescinded after a diplomatic deal, under which Syria agreed to eliminate its stockpile of chemical weapons by mid-2014.
The planned attacks had two objectives, to change the “political order” in Syria and to destabilize Russia, which supports Damascus, in order to pressure Moscow into changing its approach to the crisis, a political advisor told the author.
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The US and its regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – have been supporting the militants operating inside Syria since the beginning of the crisis.
The violence fueled by Takfiri groups has so far claimed the lives of over 222,000 people, according to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says over 7.2 million people have been internally displaced, and more than 3 million have been forced to flee the country.
On April 30, 1975, Saigon fell. The last Americans fled the country. Vietnam was reunited, as it was supposed to have been twenty years earlier according to an international agreement sabotaged by Washington. The Vietnam War, which had been going on for thirty years ever since France began its attempt to reconquer its lost Indochinese colonies, finally came to an end.
For the Vietnamese who died in that war, there will be no minute of silence, no solemn commemoration, no “duty to remember”, no vows of “never again”. After all, the millions of Vietnamese who died are not considered victims of “genocide”. They were merely killed by years of massive bombing and the systematic slaughter of a people who wanted to be independent. What’s so special about that?
In old Europe we are warned every day against repeating the crimes of Nazism, a phenomenon that has been dead for over half a century. In contrast, the sources of the slaughter in Vietnam have remained alive and active, whether through U.S. policy in Central America or Southern Africa and now for several years in the Middle East. The “war against terror” has already cost over a million lives and is far from over.
What do our great European humanitarians have to say on this subject? Do those who deplore the rising number of refugees drowning in the Mediterranean see the connections? Do they realize that the same United States military drive to remake the world is the fundamental source of these ongoing disasters? How many calls do we hear to leave the sinking ship of U.S. imperialist wars? To make a real peace with Russia and Iran? To end our policy of perpetual intervention as obedient auxiliaries of the United States?
At the time of the Vietnam war, enlightened European leaders, Olaf Palme in Sweden and De Gaulle in France, openly stood up against U.S. policy. Intellectuals like Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre mobilized public opinion against war. Demonstrations took place even in countries that were far from the conflict. And today? Nothing. Public opinion was almost entirely in favor of the war that destroyed Libya, notably on “the left”.
The end of the war in Vietnam was the end of an era, the era of national liberation struggles which no doubt constituted the most important political movement of the 20th century. In the West, it marked the start of the reconstruction of imperial ideology under the cover of “human rights”. Instead of stopping liberation struggles, the emphasis would be on subverting and destroying countries that had gained independence. The media-savvy campaign to arouse “solidarity” with the plight of Vietnamese boat people and victims of the Khmer Rouge massacres in Cambodia enabled a large sector of the French and U.S. intelligentsia to drop any effort to understand the causes and effects of events. After all, the Khmer rouge would never have taken power without the combination of U.S. bombing of the Cambodian countryside and regime change in Phnom Penh. Analysis was shoved aside in favor of immediate emotional reaction to unexplained events. A moralism without context favored the invention of “the right of humanitarian intervention” in order to destroy national sovereignty, international law and the United Nations Charter.
In France, the anti-communist “new left” that emerged from May ’68, influenced by the intellectual bluff of Bernard-Henri Lévy and cohorts, completely reversed the position of the old left. Whereas the traditional left defended international peace and opposed U.S. interventionism, the “new left” welcomed every uprising regardless of political content and showed no concern for the underlying relationship of forces. All that mattered were the “human rights” as defined and highlighted by mainstream media.
Today that new left is at a dead end, whether in the Middle East or in relations with Russia or China, along with the American policy that it has helped to disguise ideologically. Forty years after Vietnam gained its freedom, it is high time for new evaluations and drastic changes. But who has the courage to meet these challenges?
Translation by Diana Johnstone.