Veolia sells its shares in the Jerusalem Light Rail and completes withdrawal from the Israeli market
More than a decade after winning the tender for the construction and operation of the Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR), Veolia Environnement’s subsidiary, Transdev, has sold all of its holdings in the JLR to a group of Israeli investors.
The approval of the deal by the Israeli authorities and the completion of the ownership transfer, earlier this month, mark an end to Veolia’s operations in the Israeli market in general and to its involvement in the controversial JLR project in particular.
Israeli authorities’ approval and ownership transfer
Until August 2015, Trasndev, a Veolia Environnement subsidiary, held a minority interest (5%) in CityPass, a consortium tendered by the Israeli government to build the JLR, as well as full ownership (100%) of the train’s operator – Connex Jerusalem. The JLR was designed to connect the western part of Jerusalem with the illegal settlements surrounding the city. Operational since December 2011, the JLR crosses the Green Line and passes through the Palestinian neighborhoods of Shuafat and Beit Hanina.
On September 2nd 2014, Transdev (formerly: Veolia Transdev) signed a contract with the CityPass consortium for the sale of Connex Jerusalem and Transdev’s remaining 5% share in CityPass. The buyer, CityPass consortium, consists of three Israeli shareholders: The Ashtrom Group, IIF – Israel Infrastructure Fund and Harel Insurance.
Recent findings by Who Profits Research Center indicate that after almost a year- long negotiations between the companies, the Israeli authorities and the funding banks, the September deal was fulfilled and that the sale of Connex Jerusalem together with the 5% of CityPass shares reached completion.
On August 6th 2015, the Ashtrom Group – one of the buyers and a shareholder in CityPass, reported to the Israeli Stock Exchange that all conditions precedent in the JLR sale agreement with Transdev were fulfilled and that the agreement was completed. Ashtrom’s report also mentioned that on the same date, 1% of CityPass shares’ was passed into Ashtrom’s possession. For further information on the deal and necessary approvals, see Who Profits’ update from February 2014.
Later that month, on August 18th 2015, and according to the Israeli Companies’ Registrar, 100% of Connex Jerusalem shares’ were transferred from Transdev to an Israeli holding company jointly owned by the Ashtrom Group, IIF and Harel Insurance. According to the Registrar however, Transdev 5% share in CityPass still remained.
The Israeli financial newspaper – the Marker – has also confirmed the completion of the deal on August 2015. In an article (available in Hebrew), published on August 20th 2015, it was reported that Transdev received NIS 100 million for Connex Jerusalem. Contrary to Ashtrom’s report to the Israeli Stock Exchange and to the unaltered status of CityPass ownership in the Israeli Companies’ Registrar, The Marker reported that Trandev’s 5% share in CityPass was fully sold to IIF. Who Profits will continue to monitor the publications around the sale in order to determine which company is the current owner of Transdev’s former 5% share in CityPass.
Finally, Who Profits findings and analysis strongly suggest that the sale has been completed and that the formal ownership transfer of CityPass shares will soon show on public record.
The final step in a gradual withdrawal
The sale of the JLR is the final step in Veolia’s gradual withdrawal from the Israeli market and several illegal operations in the occupied Palestinian territory. Through its various Israeli subsidiaries, the company has engaged in multiple sectors of the local economy, including transportation, water, waste management and energy. Since the Israeli private sector, much like the Israeli government, considers the settlements as a legitimate part of Israel, Veolia’s Israeli subsidiaries operated freely beyond the Green Line. Their activities included the provision of public bus services to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the operation of a landfill in the occupied Jordan Valley, wastewater treatment facility for settlements’ sewage, and finally the construction and operation of the controversial JLR.
In the last few years, Veolia Environnement sold its Israeli subsidiaries piecemeal. In September 2013, the company sold its local bus services subsidiary to Afikim Company and in April 2015, water, waste and energy activities in Israel were also sold to the US-based investment firm Oaktree Capital Management. At the same time, Veolia tried to distance itself from the JLR by decreasing its holdings in Veolia Transportation – the multinational’s transport services division. In 2011, Veolia Transportation was merged with Transdev UK, leaving Veolia with a 50% share in the new company. To further blur Veolia’s involvement in the JLR, the new subsidiary – Veolia Transdev, changed its name to Transdev.
Simultaneously, Veolia negotiated with the Israeli Ministry of Transportation its way out of Jerusalem. In 2010, the Ministry has effectively blocked Veolia’s attempts to sell its holdings in the light rail to the local Egged Company. It did so by demanding previous international experience form the replacing operator. Due to the controversy surrounding the light rail, it appeared that international companies were hesitant to take on Veolia’s role, additionally with an unexperienced local transportation sector, Veolia was unable to sell Connex Jerusalem and its minority share in CityPass for years. Apparently, negotiations have now ended with the removal of the Israeli government’s objection to an unexperienced buyer and the acceptance of the CityPass consortium as capable rail operator.
As of August 2015, Veolia Environnement is no longer active in the Israeli market and in the occupied Palestinian territory. Nevertheless, the company has left behind irreversible facts on the ground. The construction of the railway involved the expropriation of occupied land that was not done for the benefit of the occupied population, and hence contradicts international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. The JLR continues to serve the Jewish settlement neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem and passes daily through the Palestinian neighborhoods of Beit Hanina and Shuafat, by doing so it will play a substantial role in the reinforcement of Israeli sovereignty over occupied East Jerusalem for years to come.
Only after a final determination of the owner of Transdev’s former 5% share in CityPass, Who Profits Research Center will remove the profiles of Veolia Environnement, Transdev and Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations(CDC) from its database.
The United Nations has called for a freeze on Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes, dozens of aid agencies and the European Union have joined in the protest, and even the U.S. State Department has voiced its dismay. Yet, even as the outcry has become an international issue and reached the highest ranks of our own government, we find a resounding silence at The New York Times.
Times readers are unlikely to know that 31 international organizations recently called on Israel to stop the “wanton destruction of Palestinian property,” including “basic humanitarian necessities,” such as solar panels, animal pens, latrines and tents supplied by the European Union. The groups asked world leaders to take “urgent action,” to hold Israel accountable for “grave breaches” of international law, and to demand reparations for the destruction of their charitable gifts.
The State Department joined both groups with statements made during a press briefing Aug. 19. When spokesman John Kirby was asked about the issue, he had a prepared declaration ready to hand.
The department was “deeply concerned” and “very troubled,” he said, calling the demolitions and evictions “harmful and provocative and indicative of a damaging trend.” He referred to the “destruction of dozens of structures and the displacement of over 150 people in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this month alone.”
His words got the attention of Israeli media, which published his comments at length, but they failed to arouse the interest of the Times.
In fact, Israel’s cruel (and illegal) policy of demolishing Palestinian property has been a constant story in alternative and Palestinian media outlets over the years, and the spate of international protests appearing this past month is not the first. Last February, for instance, some 400 rabbis from around the world urged Israel to halt demolitions in the West Bank.
Israeli forces have destroyed houses, tents, animal shelters, shops and farming structures throughout the West Bank at a steady clip, leaving 486 Palestinians displaced in 2015 as of Aug. 24. The destruction has hit the poorest and most vulnerable populations hardest, as Israel attempts to clear the land for Jewish settlers.
In the midst of this, the Times has seen fit to report on only one official demolition action this summer: the destruction of illegal Jewish settler homes in the West Bank. (This event was accompanied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement of plans for 500 news settlement homes to replace them.)
When the demolitions have made their way into the pages of the Times, the reports have failed to reveal the full extent of the problem. This year, for instance, the paper took notice of the threatened destruction of the West Bank village Susiya, when international media attention made it impossible to ignore, but dozens of other actual demolitions found no mention in the newspaper.
Again, when bureau chief Jodi Rudoren wrote about East Jerusalem demolitions last year, she underreported the extent of the damage by omitting over 46,000 structures that have been destroyed over the years and mentioning only the 675 that took place for “punitive reasons” during the second intifada.
Although demolitions are a constant threat to thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank, the Times prefers to ignore this reality. Palestinian media, however, issue reports almost daily, and monitoring groups such as the United Nations and the Israeli organization B’Tselem struggle to keep tallies.
These groups also note that demolitions fly in the face of international rules. As the UN release states, they contravene “Israel’s obligations as an occupying power under humanitarian law and human rights law.”
Behind the numbers cited by the United Nations and other groups are thousands of individual stories: herders struggling to shelter their flocks as Israeli forces tear up sheds and corrals, children robbed of playgrounds and schools, communities forced to pay for water deliveries after bulldozers crush their pipelines, families pulling prized possessions out of the rubble of their homes.
These stories find little notice in the Times, even as aid organizations and governments from the European Union to the U.S. State Department have spoken out with alarm and dismay. On many levels, Israeli demolitions are eminently newsworthy, but this is not enough for the Times, which prefers to shield Israel above all.
Occupied Palestine – A 52-year old Palestinian man was arrested at Shuhada checkpoint in al-Khalil (Hebron) yesterday, for ‘not obeying soldiers’ orders. Israeli forces painfully handcuffed and blindfolded him.
Around 1:30 pm, Hisham Azzeh walked through Shuhada Checkpoint in order to reach his house that is located up the hill next to the illegal settlement in Tel Rumeida. At this first checkpoint on his way home, Hisham passed through the metal detector without it beeping to indicate he had to go back and pass again. Therefore, he continued on his way, but Israeli soldiers yelled at him to go back and pass through the checkpoint again for no reason.
When he did not immediately comply with the soldiers orders, they arrested him. Israeli soldiers painfully handcuffed him with his hands behind his back with plastic handcuffs, without any regard for a recent operation on his hand. The soldiers also blindfolded him, so he was unable to see what happened to him and where he was brought. On the way up the hill towards the military base, the pain, caused by the plastic handcuffs, was so intense, that Israeli soldiers had to allow Azzeh to sit down on the ground, as he was unable to continue walking.
Palestinian man sitting on the ground in pain
Palestinians observing the arrest were continously telling soldiers about Azzeh’s recent operation on his hand and the plate that had to be inserted during this operation. Even though they were explaining the immense pain the plastic handcuffs were causing to Azzeh due to this operation, the Israeli soldiers shouted at them to leave the area and be quiet. Various requests to call an ambulance were denied. Only after Azzeh’s brother, who is a medical professional, arrived and reasoned with the soldiers, they attempted to cut the handcuffs. As the soldiers put the handcuffs too tight, they were struggling to cut the handcuffs without cutting Azzeh’s hands, making the procedure even longer and more painful, with Azzeh suffering immensely and crying out in pain.
Hisham’s hand showing scars from the operation. Photo credit: Youth against settlement
In the meantime, a civil police car was driving past on a regular patrol and got stopped by the Palestinians in an attempt to alleviate the situation for Hisham. After the handcuffs were finally cut off, by-standers cooled his hand first with a bottle of cold water until an ice-pack was brought for him. The police took Hisham Azzeh to the police station after a long discussion. After about an hour, Azzeh was released. He is now doing okay, but is still suffering from pain in his hands.
Police, bystanders and the soldiers standing around Hisham
Harassment like this in al-Khalil (Hebron) is not unusual. Palestinians have to pass through various checkpoints on their way home or to work and often get detained for long periods of time.
Settler women with their children blocking the stairs to the Abu Rajab house
Occupied Palestine – The Palestinian Abu Rajab family in the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) is facing continual intimidation by groups of settlers and Israeli forces protecting these settlers in their attempts to take over the Abu Rajab family home.
In the last few weeks, settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli settlements on various occasions have camped outside the home under the protection of the Israeli forces, leaving the family confined to the house not able to leave fearing attacks by settlers as well as settlers taking over the rest of the house.
In March 2012, a group of settlers from illegal settlements within the city broke the gate of the house and occupied the two upper floors of the house at night-time during Passover. Afterwards the settlers claimed to have legally bought the house, a claim that until now could not be proven legit by an Israeli court. Until the final decision of the court, the Abu Rajab extended family is not permitted to use that part of their home. The same year, one of the sons, in his early twenties, was arrested and put in administrative detention (detention without charges or trial) for a year.
When in September 2013 an Israeli soldier was shot in the neighbourhood of the Abu Rajab house, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu promised the settler movement that they would be allowed to move back into the house.
Since the beginning of this year, the threats and attacks by settlers on the family have increased. A month ago, during Passover, settlers again tried to move into the house. Instead of protecting the family from these repeated and unlawful attacks, they threatened the family to leave the house. Since then, settlers again and again camp or even sleep outside the families’ home. On Monday and Tuesday, small groups of settler women with their children have been blocking the stairs to the house’s door all afternoon. The children, all under eight years old, were instrumentalised by their mothers as they are too young to understand what was going on. Palestinian children playing nearby the house were forced by soldiers to leave the area.
In the lawsuit, T’ruah, The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, asked the New York state Attorney General’s Office to investigate Honenu, a New York-based Israeli nonprofit organization that provides financial support to Jewish settlers convicted of or on trial for violence against Palestinians.
The complaint also names Honenu’s fiscal sponsor, the Central Fund of Israel, according to Israeli media.
Since 2003, Honenu has operated a fundraising program in the state of New York. The tax-exempt Israeli organization raised $233,700 in 2010, the last year for which official data is available, according to tax filings.
Israeli media say Honenu’s budget for 2013 was approximately $600,000.
In one instance in 2013, the organization provided funds to the family of an Israeli convicted of killing seven Palestinians in May 1990.
The lawsuit follows a recent expose by Israel’s Channel 10 about Israeli settlers’ crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The television program was aired earlier this month in the aftermath of the July 31 firebombing of a Palestinian home in the West Bank by Israeli settlers in which a Palestinian baby and his father were burned to death.
In a statement issued hours after the incident, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) condemned the “brutal assassination” of the Palestinian infant, stressing that the regime in Tel Aviv bears “full responsibility” for the arson attack.
Earlier this month, Israel released all suspects held in connection with the arson attack in the village of Duma.
Unknown assailants have set fire to a Palestinian house in Douma village, to the east of Nablus, on Monday; no causalities reported. Locals believe that Israeli settlers are behind the attack.
Al Ray reports that the official presiding over the West Bank settlements file, Ghassan Douglas, said that the house of Mnour Dawabsha was burned, causing suffocation among the inhabitants. They were taken to the hospital immediately.
Civil defense reached the house, put out the fire, and rescued the family members. Palestinian police have begun an investigation into the incident.
Douglas explained that the circumstances of this arson attack are similar to the attack on Sa’ad Dawabsha’s family, last month, in which a one-year boy was burned alive, His father later died of injuries sustained in the fire, while his brother and mother are still in critical condition.
Douglas said that it was too early to confirm the identity of the perpetrators, calling for caution from rushing in charging the settlers, for if it is proved that there is no connection between the settlers and the attack, the Israeli occupation will take advantage to acquit the Israeli settlers of the former crime.
From Regional War, “Regime Change” to Global Warfare
2015 has become a year of living dangerously.
Wars are spreading across the globe.
Wars are escalating as new countries are bombed and the old are ravaged with ever greater intensity.
Countries, where relatively peaceful changes had taken place through recent elections, are now on the verge of civil wars.
These are wars without victors, but plenty of losers; wars that don’t end; wars where imperial occupations are faced with prolonged resistance.
There are never-ending torrents of war refugees flooding across borders. Desperate people are detained, degraded and criminalized for being the survivors and victims of imperial invasions.
Now major nuclear powers face off in Europe and Asia: NATO versus Russia, US-Japan versus China. Will these streams of blood and wars converge into one radiated wilderness drained of its precious life blood?
Living Dangerously: The Rising Tide of Violent Conflicts
There is no question that wars and military threats have replaced diplomacy, negotiations and democratic elections as the principal means of resolving political conflicts. Throughout the present year (2015) wars have spread across borders and escalated in intensity.
The NATO allies, US, Turkey and the EU have openly attacked Syria with air strikes and ground troops. There are plans to occupy the northern sector of that ravaged country, creating what the Erdogan regime dubs a ‘buffer zone’ cleansed of its people and villages.
Under the pretext of ‘fighting ISIS’, the Turkish government is bombing Kurds (civilians and resistance fighters) and their Syrian allies. On Syria’s southern border, US Special Forces have accelerated and expanded operations from their bases in Jordan on behalf of the mercenary terrorists – funded by the monarchist Gulf States.
Over 4 million Syrians have fled their homes as refugees and over 200,000 have been killed since the US-EU-Turkey-Saudi-sponsored war against the secular Syrian government was launched four years ago.
Dozens of terrorist, mercenary and sectarian groups have carved up Syria into rival fiefdoms, pillaged its economic and cultural resources and reduced the economy by over ninety percent.
The US-EU-Turkish military intervention extends the war into Iraq, Lebanon and…. Turkey – attacking secular governments, ethnic minority groups and secular civil society.
The feudal, monarchist Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have invaded Yemen with tanks, launching air strikes against a country without any air defenses. Major cities and towns are devastated. Saudi ground troops and armored carriers are killing and wounding thousands – mostly civilians. The brutal Saudi air and sea blockade of Yemen’s ports have led to a humanitarian crisis, as ten million Yemenis face starvation deliberately imposed by a grotesque and obscenely rich monarchy.
The Yemeni resistance fighters, driven out of the major cities, are preparing for prolonged guerrilla warfare against the Saudi monsters and their puppets. Their resistance has already spread across the frontiers of the absolutist Saudi dictatorship.
The brutal Israeli occupation troops, in collaboration with armed ‘settler’ colonists, have accelerated their violent seizure of Palestinian lands. They have stepped up the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, Bedouins, Druze and Christian inhabitants replacing their communities with racist ‘Jews-only’ colonial settlements.
Daily assaults against the huge ‘concentration camps’ of Gaza accompany an armed blockade of land, air and water, preventing the reconstruction of the tens of thousands of homes, schools, hospital, factories and infrastructure, destroyed by last year’s Israeli blitzkrieg.
Israel’s continued annexation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian territory precludes any diplomatic process; colonial wars have been and continue to be Israel’s policy of choice in dealing with its Arab neighbors and captive populations.
Africa’s wars, resulting from earlier US-EU interventions, continue to ravage-the Continent. Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Libya are riven by bloody conflicts between US-EU backed regimes and armed Islamic and nationalist resistance movements.
Throughout North and Sub-Sahara Africa, US-EU backed regimes have provoked armed upheavals in Libya, Nigeria (Boko Harem), Egypt (ISIS, Moslem Brotherhood et al), Chad, Niger, South Sudan, Somalia and elsewhere.
Imperial client Egyptian and Ethiopian dictators rule with iron fists – financed and armed by their EU and US sponsors.
Imperial wars rage throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Hundreds of experienced Baathist Iraqi military officers, who had been expelled or jailed and tortured by the US Occupation army, have now made common cause with Islamist fighters to form ISIS and effectively occupy a third of Iraq and a strategic swath of Syria.
There are daily bombings in Baghdad undermining its US client. Strategic advances by ISIS are forcing the US to resume and escalate its direct combat role
The US-Baghdad retreat and the defeat of the US-trained Iraqi military in the face of the Baathist-Islamist offensive is the opening salvo of a long-term, large-scale war in Iraq and Syria. The Turkish air-war against the Kurds in Iraq will escalate the war in Northern Iraq and extend it into southeast Turkey.
Closer to ‘home’, the EU-US-backed coup (‘regime change’) in Kiev and the attempt to impose dictatorial-pro-West oligarchic rule in Ukraine have detonated a prolonged civil-national war devastating the country and pitting NATO’s proxies against Russian-backed allies in the Donbas.
US, England, Poland and other NATO powers are deeply committed to pushing war right up to Russia’s borders.
There is a new Cold War, with the imposition of wide-ranging US-EU economic sanctions against Russia and the organizing of major NATO military exercises on Russia’s doorsteps. It is no surprise that these provocations are met with a major counter-response – the Russian military build-up. The NATO power grab in Ukraine, which first led to a local ethnic war, now escalates to a global confrontation and may move toward a nuclear confrontation as Russia absorbs hundreds of thousands of refugees from the slaughter in Ukraine.
The US puppet regime in Afghanistan has faced a major advance of the Taliban in all regions, including the capital, Kabul.
The Afghan war is intensifying and the US-backed Kabul regime is in retreat. US troops can scarcely advance beyond their bunkers.
As the Taliban military advances, its leaders demand total surrender of the Kabul puppets and the withdrawal of US troops. The US response will be a prolonged escalation of war.
Pakistan, bristling with US arms, faces a major conflict along its borders with India and permanent war in its semi-autonomous Northwest frontier states with Islamist and ethnic Pashtu guerrilla movements backed by mass regional political parties. These parties exercise de facto control over the Northwest region providing sanctuary and arms for Taliban militants operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Armed ethno-religious conflicts persist in western China, Myanmar and northern India. There are large-scale popular resistance movements in the militant northeast Thailand opposed to the current military-monarchist dictatorship in Bangkok.
In the 21st century, in South and Southeast Asia, as in the rest of the world, war and armed conflicts have become central in resolving ethnic, social, tribal and regional differences with central states: diplomacy and democratic elections have been rendered obsolete and inefficient.
Latin America – On the Verge
Burgeoning violent extra-parliamentary right-wing movements, intent on overthrowing or ‘impeaching’ elected center-left Latin American governments face major confrontations with the state and its mass supporters.
In Ecuador, Venezuela and Brazil, US-backed opposition groups are engaged in violent demonstrations, directed toward ousting the elected regimes. In the case of Ecuador, ‘popular sectors’, including some indigenous leaders and sectors of the trade union movement, have called for an ‘uprising’ to oust President Correa. They seem oblivious of the fact that the hard-right oligarchs who now control key offices in the three principal cities (Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca) will be the real beneficiaries of their ‘uprisings’.
The resurgent Right envisions violent ‘regime change’ as the first step toward ‘wiping the slate clean’ of a decade of social reforms, independent regional organizations and independent foreign policies.
‘Civil war’ may be too strong a word for the situation in Latin America at this time – but this is the direction which the US-backed opposition is heading. Faced with the mess and difficulty of dislodging incumbent regimes via elections, the US and its local proxies have opted for the choreography of street violence, sabotage, martial law and coups – to be followed by sanitized elections – with US-vetted candidates.
War and violence run rampant through Mexico and most of Central America. A US-backed military coup ousted the popularly elected, independent President Zelaya in Honduras. The ensuing US-proxy regime has murdered and jailed hundreds of pro-democracy dissidents and driven thousands to flee the violence.
The 1990’s US-brokered ‘Peace Accords’ in El Salvador and Guatemala effectively blocked any agrarian reform and income redistribution that might have led to the rebuilding of their civil societies. This has led to over two decades of mass disaffection, the rise of armed ‘gangs’ numbering over 100,000 members and an average of six to ten thousand homicides a year with El Salvador becoming the ‘murder capital of the hemisphere’ on a per capita basis. The annual murder toll under the US-brokered ‘Peace Accords’ now exceeds those killed each year during the civil war.
The real ‘carnage capital’ of the hemisphere is Mexico. Over 100,000 people have been murdered during the decade-long, US-backed ‘war on drugs’ – a war which has become a state-sponsored war on the Mexican people.
The internal war has allowed the Mexican government to privatize and sell the crown jewels of the national economy – the petroleum industry. While thousands of Mexicans are terrorized and slaughtered, the US and EU oil companies are curiously shielded from the drug lords. The same Mexican government, its police, officials and military, who collaborate with the drug lords in dividing up the billions of drug dollars, protect foreign oil companies and their executives. After all, narco-dollars are laundered by banks in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and London to help fuel the speculation!
From Regional to Nuclear Wars
Regional and local wars spread under the shadow of a looming world war. The US moves its arms, planes, bases and operations to the Russian and Chinese borders.
Never have so many US troops and war planes been placed in so many strategic locations, often less than an hour drive from major Russian cities.
Not even during the height of the Cold War, did the US impose so many economic sanctions against Russian enterprises.
In Asia, Washington is organizing major trade, military and diplomatic treaties designed to exclude and undermine China’s growth as a trade competitor. It is engaged in provocative activities comparable to the boycott and blockade of Japan which led to the Second World War in Asia.
Open ‘warfare by proxy’ in Ukraine is perhaps the first salvo of the Third World War in Europe. The US-EU-sponsored coup in Kiev has led to the annexation of Western Ukraine. In response to the threat of violence toward the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea and the loss of its strategic naval base on the Black Sea, Russia annexed Crimea.
In the lead-up to the Second World War, Germany annexed Austria. In a similar manner the US-EU installed a puppet regime in Kiev by violent putsch as its own initial steps toward major power grabs in Central Asia. The military build-up includes the placement of major, forward offensive military bases in Poland.
Warsaw’s newly elected hard-right regime of President Andrzej Duda has demanded that Poland become NATO’s central military base of operation and the front line in a war against Russia.
Wars and More Wars and the Never-ending Torrents of Refugees
The US and EU imperial wars have devastated the lives and livelihoods of scores of millions of people in South Asia, North and Sub-Sahara Africa, Central America, Mexico, the Balkans and now Ukraine.
Four million Syrian refugees have joined millions of Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi, Yemeni, Somali, Libyan, Palestinian and Sudanese refugees fleeing US-EU bombs, drones and proxy mercenaries ravaging their countries.
Millions of war refugees escape toward safety in Western Europe, joining the millions of economic refugees who have fled free market destitution in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, the Balkans and other EU satellites.
Panic among the civilian population of Western Europe sets in as hundreds of thousands cross the Mediterranean, the Aegean and the Balkans.
Droves of refugees perish each day. Tens of thousands crowd detention centers. Local labor markets are saturated. Social services are overwhelmed.
The US builds walls and detention camps for the millions trying to escape the harsh consequences of imperial-centered free markets in Mexico, narco-terror and the fraudulent ‘peace accord’-induced violence in Central America.
As Western wars advance, the desperate refugees multiply. The poor and destitute clamber at the gates of the imperial heartland crying: ‘Your bombs and your destruction of our homelands have driven us here, now you must deal with us in your homeland’.
Fomenting class war between the refugees and ‘natives’ of the imperial West – may not be on the agenda . . . for now, but the future for ‘civil’ society in Europe and the US is bleak.
Meanwhile, more and even bigger wars are on the horizon and additional millions of civilians will be uprooted and face the choice of starving, fleeing with their families or fighting the empire. The ranks of seasoned and infuriated resistance fighters are swelling in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine and elsewhere.
The US and EU are becoming armed fortresses. US police deal with the marginalized citizenry as an occupying army, assaulting African-Americans, immigrants and dissidents – while looting poor communities . . . and protecting the rich…
War is everywhere and expanding: No continent or region, big or small, is free from the contagion of war.
Imperial wars have spawn local wars . . . igniting mass flights in a never-ending cycle. There are no real diplomatic success stories! There are no enduring, viable peace accords!
Some pundits may protest this analysis: They point to the recent US – Cuba rapprochement as a ‘success’. They conveniently forget that the US is still subverting Cuba’s biggest trading partner, Venezuela; that Washington’s major regional proxies are demanding regime change among Cuba’s allies in Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia and that Washington is increasingly threatening Cuba’s alternative markets in Russia and China. The vision of the US flag flapping in the breeze outside its embassy in Havana does little to cover Washington’s iron fist threatening Cuba’s allies.
Others cite the US – Iran peace accord as a major ‘success’. They ignore that the US is backing the bloody Saudi invasion of neighboring Yemen and the massacre of Shiite communities; that the US has provided Israel with a road map detailing Iran’s entire defense system and that the US [Israel] and EU are bombing Iran’s Syrian ally without mercy.
As for the US – Cuba and Iranian agreements– are they enduring and strategic or just tactical imperial moves preparing for even greater assaults?
The war epidemic is not receding.
War refugees are still fleeing; they have no homes or communities left.
Disorder and destruction are increasing, not decreasing; there is no rebuilding the shattered societies, not in Gaza, not in Fallujah, not in the Donbas, not in Guerrero, not in Aleppo.
Europe feels the tremors of a major conflagration.
Americans still believe that the two oceans will protect them. They are told that placing NATO missiles on Russia’s borders and stationing warships off China’s shores and building electrified walls and laying barbed wire along the Rio Grande will protect them. Such is their faith in their political leaders and propagandists.
What a packet of lies! Inter-continental missiles can ‘rain down’ on New York, Washington and Los Angeles.
It is time to wake up!
It is time to stop the US – EU headlong race to World War III!
Where to start? Libya has been irrevocably destroyed; it is too late there! Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are aflame. We are being plunged deeper into war while being told we are withdrawing! Ukraine sucks in more guns and more troops!
Can we really have peace with Iran if we cannot control our own government as it dances to the Israelis tune? And Israel insists on war – our waging war for them! As the Israeli war criminal General and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon once told some worried American Zionists: “Trouble with the US? We lead them by the nose…!”
Just look at the terrified families fleeing carnage in the Middle East or Mexico.
What is to be done?
When will we cut our losses and shake off the bonds of these war makers – foreign and domestic?
After the burning alive of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh by a fanatical Zionist settler, the world has reacted with outrage.
The attack was so horrendous that even Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu distanced himself from it, calling it an act of terrorism.
But on today’s show we will be asking to what extent Israel is responsible for the activities of its extremists. Are these fanatical terrorists really just a few bad apples, as Netanyahu would have us believe?
Or are they the product of decades of deliberate Zionist policy to colonize stolen land?
Israeli bulldozers reportedly destroyed the trees in an area known as Bir Onah, near the illegal settlement of Gilo.
The trees belonged to the Al-Shatla, Abu Eid, Abu Ghattas, Abu Saada, Khaliliya, and Abu Mohor families, locals said.
Witnesses told official Palestinian news agency Wafa that Israeli bulldozers razed an area of 30 dunams near Beit Jala for the expansion of the wall following a recent court ruling to change the route of the controversial infrastructure.
Residents in Beit Jala have been engaged in a nine-year legal battle against a 2006 Israeli military order to build the separation wall around Beit Jala and Har Gilo.
In 2013, 58 local landowners as well as nuns from the Salesian convent who joined their legal action, lost an appeal against the route of the separation wall.
Residents hoped that an Israeli Supreme Court decision in 2014 — which ordered the Israeli state to justify the route of the separation wall in Beit Jala’s Cremisan valley — was an indication that the proposed land seizure could be canceled, with a ruling in April this year in favor of a petition by locals creating further hope construction of the wall could be suspended.
However, in July the Israeli High Court approved construction of the wall using an alternative route, which would still separate the Salesian monastery and convent from the community it serves in Beit Jala.
The Cremisan Valley lies between the sprawling settlement of Gilo in annexed East Jerusalem, and the smaller West Bank settlement of Har Gilo, a few kilometers to the southwest.
Palestinians have long argued the the separation wall in Cremisan had no security benefit for Israel and was being constructed to annex land and connect illegal settlements in the area.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion calling on Israel to stop building the wall and dismantle or re-route sections that had been constructed.
The separation wall will be approximately 708 kilometers long when complete, nearly twice the length of the 1949 Armistice Line due to its meandering route, and 85 percent of the wall will be located in the occupied West Bank, according to UNOCHA.
Kafr Qaddum, Occupied Palestine – On Saturday the 15th of August 2015, the villagers from Kafr Qaddum once again demonstrated against the blockage of the road leading to Nablus as well as the nearby Kedumin settlement. In solidarity with the local people there were a few international activists and journalists covering the demonstration.
The non-violent protest was immediately suppressed by the Israeli occupation forces shooting dozens of teargas canisters and live ammunition. Instead of the frequently used bad-smelling skunk water, the army drove a bulldozer into the village. This bulldozer destroyed the only water pipe in the village, leaving the people Kafr Qaddum without any connection to water until the pipe is repaired. Especially during the hot summer months, water is a scarce and essential good.
Murad Shtaiwi, one of the leaders of Kafr Qaddum Popular Committee, understands the damage to the water pipe as a way to collectively punish the village for its ongoing resistance. The costs of a new pipe have to be paid for by the municipality. As Murad explains, damaging the water pipe is a deliberate attempt by the Israeli army to suppress the support among the villagers to continue to protests and thus block future demonstrations.
RAMALLAH – Israeli settlers torched a Bedouin tent in the area of Ein Samiya near Kafr Malik village in northern Ramallah Thursday morning, local sources told Ma’an.
A group of Israeli settlers raided the village of Ein Samiya and threw flammable material on a Bedouin tent before the residents noticed and attacked the settlers, forcing them to flee the area.
An Israeli army spokesperson confirmed the attack but could give no further details.
The fire caused substantial damages to the tent but locals were able to put the fire out without any injuries, locals said.
Israeli settlers also sprayed “price tag” near the scene and signed slogans calling for the killing of Palestinians and expelling them out of their lands.
Graffiti sprayed in red paint also read “administrative revenge” alongside a crudely drawn Star of David.
The graffiti seemed to refer to the internment without charge — known as administrative detention — of three alleged Jewish extremists in the wake of a July 31 arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma that killed 18-month-old Palestinian Ali Saad Dawabsha and his father Saad.
Locals said Israeli forces and police arrived to the area, investigated the incident, and dusted for fingerprints at the scene.
On Wednesday, Israeli forces had closed the Ein Samiya area road and prevented Palestinians from using it.
Recent weeks have seen a rise in Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank.
An 18-month-old Palestinian, Ali Dawabsha, was burned alive when alleged Israeli extremists firebombed their home at the end of last month in the village of Duma near Nablus.
The toddler’s father, Saad Dawabsha, succumbed to his wounds a week later, after suffering third degree burns on 80 percent of his body.
On Saturday morning, Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian home with firebombs and rocks in an area east of Tayba in the Ramallah district. The bombs landed outside of the house, causing no damage, locals told Ma’an.
Israeli settlers have carried out at least 120 attacks on Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the start of this year, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“All those arrested yesterday for interrogation have been released,” a spokeswoman for the Shin Bet security agency told AFP, without providing further details.
They did not provide the number of those detained in the raids early Sunday in wildcat Jewish settlement outposts in the West Bank near the Palestinian village of Duma, where the brutal firebombing occurred.
Wildcat outposts in the Israeli-occupied West Bank are notorious for housing Zionist settlers, referred to as hilltop youth.
The Palestinian family’s small brick and cement home in Duma was gutted by fire early on July 31, and a Jewish Star of David spray-painted on a wall along with the words “revenge” and “long live the Messiah”.
The arson attack on the family’s home in the occupied West Bank that killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha and his father, Saad sparked an international outcry over the ongoing Israeli crimes against Palestinians.
Mother Riham and four-year-old son Ahmed were also in an Israeli hospital, where a spokeswoman described their condition last week as life-threatening.