The Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said that the two terrorist bombings that took place in Homs city on Tuesday and other similar terrorist crimes require an immediate and stern condemnation from Security Council and taking deterrent actions against the states that support and fund terrorism.
In two identical letters sent to the UN Secretary-General and to the head of the Security Council, the Ministry said that terrorist organizations detonated a car bomb on Tuesday morning in al-Siteen Street in al-Zahra’a neighborhood in Homs, and that attack was followed by another attack by suicide bomber using an explosive belt, claiming the lives of 24 civilian and injuring more than 100 civilians, some of whom sustained severe injuries, in addition to damaging houses and infrastructures in the area.
The Ministry noted that these bombings were carried out at a time when the date for holding the Geneva 3 meeting, which seeks to push towards a political solution for the crisis in Syria, is approaching.
The letters pointed out that Syria had informed the Security Council and the Secretary-General of numerous terrorist bombings that targeted the very same neighborhood, but sadly none of these attacks and none of the hundreds of victims who were killed or injured in them were paid any attention by the Council and the Secretary-General.
The Ministry said that those two brutal bombings constitute a continuation of the barbaric and methodical terrorist acts committed by terrorist groups in Syria, groups that are supported by well-known regional and international states that employ terrorists to serve their personal political interests and irresponsible agendas, adding that these crimes also constitute a response to the political efforts to find a political solution by Syrians and to the success of national reconciliation efforts.
The letters also noted that the bombings are also an attempt to raise the morale of terrorist groups that are suffering repeated defeats at the hands of the Syrian Arab Army.
The Ministry said that the crimes and massacres committed by terrorist organizations like ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, Jaish al-Islam, al-Jabha al-Islamiya, Jaish al-Fateh, Ahrar al-Cham, and the “Free Army” wouldn’t have taken place without the constant arming, equipping, funding, and logistic support provided to terrorists by the governments of certain states.
The letters said that the Syrian government stresses that as per relevant Security Council resolutions and the principles of international law, such terrorist crimes require an immediate and stern condemnation from Security Council and taking deterrent actions against the states that support and fund terrorism whose destructive impact on peace and security isn’t limited to Syria but also affects the entire world.
The Ministry also stressed the need to cooperate and coordinate with the Syrian government in any effort for combating terrorism.
A UN panel of experts says Saudi Arabia’s months-long war on impoverished Yemen has violated the humanitarian law as many of the airstrikes have been carried out on civilian targets.
The UN experts have called on the UN Security Council to “investigate reports of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Yemen by all parties and to identify the perpetrators of such violations,” AFP reported on Tuesday.
The report added that Saudi warplanes had carried out 120 sorties, involving documented airstrikes on refugee camps, weddings, buses, medical facilities, residential areas, mosques, markets, factories, food warehouses, schools and airports.
“Many attacks involved multiple air strikes on multiple civilian objects,” the report further said, adding that “civilians are disproportionately affected” by the unabated aerial aggression. It also denounced Riyadh’s crippling blockade on Yemen, which constitutes “the prohibited use of starvation as a method of warfare.”
Saudi Arabia began its military aggression against Yemen in late March last year. The strikes are supposedly meant to undermine the Ansarullah movement and restore power to the fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Some 8,300 people have been killed and over 16,000 others injured since the strikes began. The Saudi war has also taken a heavy toll on Yemen’s infrastructure.
Yemenis have been carrying out retaliatory attacks on the Saudi forces deployed in the country as well as targets inside Saudi Arabia.
Talks between Damascus and the Syrian opposition will begin on January 29, the UN’s Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has told journalists in Geneva. The negotiations will focus on a broad ceasefire, stopping Islamic State militants and increasing aid, he added.
De Mistura said the process of finalizing the list of participants “is still ongoing,” particularly regarding clarification of the opposition groups which will not be considered “terrorist.”
He added that the UN will start sending invitations on Tuesday. “I’m going to send the invitations given by the mandate of the UN Security Council,” he said.
The peace talks were originally due to start on Monday, but were postponed.
“We want to make sure that when and if we start, to start at least on the right foot. It will be uphill anyway,” de Mistura said.
He added that the “proximity talks” between the two sides are expected to last six months. According to the UN official, “this will not be Geneva-3.”
The Geneva II peace conference which took place in 2014 focused on bringing the two sides – the government and opposition – to the negotiation table to agree on forming a transitional government.
De Mistura told reporters that the sides will not talk directly to each other and will be mediated by negotiators.
The first part of the talks will last from two to three weeks, the envoy said, adding that the focus will be on negotiating a ceasefire, stopping Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and increasing humanitarian aid.
“The condition is it should be a real ceasefire and not just local,” de Mistura said. “Suspension of fighting regarding ISIL and al Nusra is not on the table. However (there are) plenty of other suspensions of fighting that can take place.”
Among the priorities will also be the issues of governance, a constitutional review and future UN-backed election.
“The participation will be as inclusive as possible, including women, civil society and other marginalized groups,” said Mistura, answering a question concerning the composition of the delegations.
The Syrian government has said that Damascus’s delegation will be headed by the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari.
The disagreement over which opposition groups will take part in the peace talks and who will represent them has been impeding the start of negotiations.
On Wednesday, a Syrian opposition coalition, the so-called ‘High Negotiations Committee,’ named an Islamist chief as their top negotiator. The decision to appoint Mohammed Alloush, the leader of Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam), a powerful jihadist group operating in the suburbs of Damascus, as one of the negotiators drew criticism, even from among other members of the Syrian opposition.
United Nations human rights experts have expressed concern about new counter-terrorism measures adopted in France against the backdrop of the deadly 2015 Paris attacks, calling on the French government to protect fundamental freedoms in its anti-terror battle.
In a statement released on Tuesday, a group of four UN rights specialists said the current state of emergency in France and surveillance laws impose “excessive and disproportionate restrictions” on the basic rights of people.
The statement said the main concerns center on “the lack of clarity and precision of several provisions of the … laws, related to the nature and scope of restrictions to the legitimate exercise of right to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the right to privacy.”
On November 13, 2015, assailants struck at least six different venues in and around Paris. The terrorist attacks left 130 people dead and over 350 others wounded. France introduced the state of emergency following the horrendous assaults, which were claimed by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.
The exceptional measures adopted under the state of emergency empower the French police to keep people in their homes without trial, searching houses without judicial approval and blocking suspicious websites. The new measures also include a ban on public demonstrations and allow authorities to dissolve groups inciting any acts that seriously affect public order in France.
The UN rights specialists also called on the French government not to extend the state of emergency beyond February 2016 and ensure protection against any abuse of power while combating terror.
Yasser Louati, a spokesman for the Collective against Islamophobia in France, an anti-racist group, said last month that the state of emergency has unfairly targeted Muslims in France.
At the UN General assembly last fall there was an essential vote on the future of mankind. Resolution number A/RES/70/33 calling for the international society to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations had been submitted by Austria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Ireland, Kenya, Lichtenstein, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela. For that, these countries deserve our deep respect and gratitude. The resolution reminds us that all the peoples of the world have a vital interest in the success of nuclear disarmament negotiations, that all states have the right to participate in disarmament negotiations, and, at the same time, declares support for the UN Secretary – General’s five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament.
The resolution reiterates the universal objective that remains the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons, and emphasizes the importance of addressing issues related to nuclear weapons in a comprehensive, inclusive, interactive and constructive manner, for the advancement of multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. The resolution calls on the UN to establish an Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) of willing and responsible states to bring the negotiations on nuclear disarmament forward in this spirit.
When voted upon at the UNGA a month ago, on December 7, 2015, there was a huge majority of states (75 %) that supported the resolution, namely 138 of the 184 member states that were present. Most of them are from the global south, with majorities in Latin-America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific. After having shown such courage and wisdom, they all deserve to be named among the states of hope, states that want to sustain mankind on earth.
Only 12 states voted against the resolution. Guess who they are: China, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and the United States. What is wrong with them? Well, they are either nuclear-armed states or among the new NATO member states. They are the states of concern in today’s world. It is hypocritical that states that claim to be the protectors of freedom, democracy, and humanity constitute a small minority that refuse to enter into multilateral, inclusive, interactive and constructive negotiations to free the world from nuclear weapons. Among the three other nuclear-armed states, India and Pakistan had the civility to abstain, while the DPRK was the only one to vote “yes.”
Despite the reactionary, dangerous, and irresponsible position of the 12 states of concern and the tepid attitude of the abstainers, the OEWG was established by an overwhelming majority of the UNGA. The OEWG will convene in Geneva for 15 working days during the first half of 2016. The OEWG has no mandate to negotiate treaties to free the world of the inhuman nuclear weapons, but has clearly been asked to discuss and show how it can be achieved. Surely, the nations of hope that voted in favor of the OEWG will take part in the work. We can hope that at least some of the states of concern and some of the abstainers come to their senses and take part in this essential work for the future of mankind.
Participation in the OEWG is open for everyone and blockable by none. No matter what the states of concern do or don’t do, there is good reason to trust that the vast majority of nations of hope together with civil society from all over in the fall will present an outcome to the UNGA that will turn our common dream of a world free of nuclear weapons into a reality—perhaps sooner that we dare to believe.
The United Nations expert on the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territories has resigned, complaining that the Tel Aviv regime continues to deny him access to the areas he is tasked with monitoring.
In a Monday statement, the UN said Makarim Wibisono submitted his resignation to President of the Human Rights Council Joachim Rucker earlier in the day.
It said Wibisono, who will effectively quit his job as of March 31, had “expressed deep regret that, throughout his mandate, Israel failed to grant him access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Wibisono has been in charge of monitoring rights violations in the occupied East al-Quds (Jerusalem), the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli regime has time and again prevented the UN official from visiting the areas.
In June 2015, Israel denied Wibisono access to the Gaza Strip, where he was to investigate the aftermath of Tel Aviv’s 2014 war that killed over 2,200 Palestinians in the blockaded coastal enclave. The regime said at the time that the mandate handed to the UN official’s team was “anti-Israel,” and that it was exclusively focused on cases of Israeli rights violations.
Last November, Wibisono, and the expert on summary executions, Christof Heyns, slammed Israel for using excessive force and carrying out summary executions against Palestinians amid a surge in tensions in the occupied territories, where Palestinians have held almost daily anti-Israel protests since early October.
The latest wave of tensions was triggered by Israel’s imposition in August of restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds.
The restrictions have enraged Palestinians, who are also angry at increasing violence by Israeli settlers frequently storming the al-Aqsa Mosque, a place highly revered by the Muslims across the world.
The Palestinian protesters also say Israel has a covert plan for changing the status quo of the al-Aqsa Mosque.
At least 144 Palestinians have been killed since the violence erupted in various towns of West Bank and Gaza. Some of 25 Israelis have also died during the same period.
Resolution severely criticises the “Occupying Power”
Can this be true?
Something important and, freedom lovers may think, rather wonderful seems to have happened at the United Nations, and it went largely unreported in mainstream media. The UN General Assembly approved a draft resolution ‘Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources’ (document A/70/480).
It was adopted by 164 to 5 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, United States), with 10 abstentions (Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo, Tonga, Vanuatu).
What’s so wonderful? The draft resolution pulls no punches and must have thoroughly annoyed the insatiable state of Israel, which has evil designs on the natural resources – oil, gas and water – belonging to its neighbours. The resolution is long but nicely crafted, and is reproduced here pretty much in its entirety as an aide-memoire of Israel’s long history of contemptuous disregard for its obligations.
The General Assembly,
Recalling its resolution 69/241 of 19 December 2014, and taking note of Economic and Social Council resolution 2015/17 of 20 July 2015,
Recalling also its resolutions 58/292 of 6 May 2004 and 59/251 of 22 December 2004,
Reaffirming the principle of the permanent sovereignty of peoples under foreign occupation over their natural resources,
Guided by the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, affirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, and recalling relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 465 (1980) of 1 March 1980 and 497 (1981) of 17 December 1981,
Recalling its resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970,
Reaffirming the applicability of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,
Recalling, in this regard, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and affirming that these human rights instruments must be respected in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as well as in the occupied Syrian Golan,
Recalling also the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and recalling further its resolutions ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004 and ES-10/17 of 15 December 2006,
Recalling further its resolution 67/19 of 29 November 2012,
Taking note of the accession by Palestine to several human rights treaties and the core humanitarian law treaties, as well as to other international treaties,
Expressing its concern about the exploitation by Israel, the occupying Power, of the natural resources of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and other Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967,
Expressing its grave concern about the extensive destruction by Israel, the occupying Power, of agricultural land and orchards in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the uprooting of a vast number of fruit-bearing trees and the destruction of farms and greenhouses, and the grave environmental and economic impact in this regard,
Expressing its grave concern also about the widespread destruction caused by Israel, the occupying Power, to vital infrastructure, including water pipelines, sewage networks and electricity networks, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in particular in the Gaza Strip during the military operations of July and August 2014, which, inter alia, has polluted the environment and negatively affect the functioning of water and sanitation systems and the water supply and other natural resources of the Palestinian people, and stressing the urgency of the reconstruction and development of water and other vital civilian infrastructure, including the project for the desalination facility for the Gaza Strip,
Expressing its grave concern further about the negative impact on the environment and on reconstruction and development efforts of the thousands of items of unexploded ordnance that remain in the Gaza Strip as a result of the conflict in July and August 2014,
Recalling the 2009 report by the United Nations Environment Programme regarding the grave environmental situation in the Gaza Strip, and the 2012 report, “Gaza in 2020: A liveable place?”, by the United Nations country team in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and stressing the need for follow-up to the recommendations contained therein,
Deploring the detrimental impact of the Israeli settlements on Palestinian and other Arab natural resources, especially as a result of the confiscation of land and the forced diversion of water resources, including the destruction of orchards and crops and the seizure of water well by Israeli settlers, and of the dire socioeconomic consequences in this regard,
Recalling the report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Aware of the detrimental impact on Palestinian natural resources being caused by the unlawful construction of the wall by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and of its grave effect as well on the economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people,
Stressing the urgency of achieving without delay an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement on all tracks, on the basis of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973, 425 (1978) of 19 March 1978 and 1397 (2002) of 12 March 2002, the principle of land for peace, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Quartet performance-based road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003 and supported by the Council in its resolution 1850 (2008) of 16 December 2008,
Stressing also, in this regard, the need for respect for the obligation upon Israel under the road map to freeze settlement activity, including so-called “natural growth”, and to dismantle all settlement outposts erected since March 2001,
Stressing further the need for respect and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,
Recalling the need to end all acts of violence, including acts of terror, provocation, incitement and destruction,
Taking note of the report prepared by the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan, as transmitted by the Secretary-General,
Reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and of the population of the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources, including land, water and energy resources;
Demands that Israel, the occupying Power, cease the exploitation, damage, cause of loss or depletion and endangerment of the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan;
Recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to claim restitution as a result of any exploitation, damage, loss or depletion or endangerment of their natural resources resulting from illegal measures taken by Israel, the occupying Power, and Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and expresses the hope that this issue will be dealt with within the framework of the final status negotiations between the Palestinian and Israeli sides;
Stresses that the wall and settlements being constructed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, are contrary to international law and are seriously depriving the Palestinian people of their natural resources, and calls in this regard for full compliance with the legal obligations affirmed in the 9 July 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice and in relevant United Nations resolutions, including General Assembly resolution ES-10/15;
Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, and to cease immediately and completely all policies and measures aimed at the alteration of the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem;
Also calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to bring a halt to all actions, including those perpetrated by Israeli settlers, harming the environment, including the dumping of all kinds of waste materials, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, which gravely threaten their natural resources, namely water and land resources, and which pose an environmental, sanitation and health threat to the civilian populations;
Further calls upon Israel to cease its destruction of vital infrastructure, including water pipelines, sewage networks and electricity networks, which, inter alia, has a negative impact on the natural resources of the Palestinian people, stresses the urgent need to advance reconstruction and development projects in this regard, including in the Gaza Strip, and calls for support for the necessary efforts in this regard, in line with the commitments made at, inter alia, the Cairo International Conference on Palestine: Reconstructing Gaza, held on 12 October 2014;
Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to remove all obstacles to the implementation of critical environmental projects, including sewage treatment plants in the Gaza Strip and the reconstruction and development of water infrastructure, including the project for the desalination facility for the Gaza Strip;
Calls for the immediate and safe removal of all unexploded ordnance in the Gaza Strip and for support for the efforts of the United Nations Mine Action Service in this regard, and welcomes the efforts exerted by the Service to date;
Encourages all States and international organizations to continue to actively pursue policies to ensure respect for their obligations under international law with regard to all illegal Israeli practices and measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly Israeli settlement activities and the exploitation of natural resources;
Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its seventy-first session on the implementation of the present resolution, including with regard to the cumulative impact of the exploitation, damage and depletion by Israel of natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, and decides to include in the provisional agenda of its seventy-first session the item entitled “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources”.
This is strong stuff. But given the UN’s record will the action ever suit the words?
Astonishingly, the Israel-adoring UK government voted for it. Let us make a mental note of those 5 countries – Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, United States – which claim to be freedom loving but are evidently bent on denying the poor Palestinians theirs. And the birdbrained 10 – Australia, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, South Sudan, Togo, Tonga, Vanuatu – which are so lackadaisically uncommitted to the principle of universal human rights that they sat on the fence. Maybe international civil society would like to prod them with a sharp BDS stick to concentrate their minds.
At least one country, happily, is taking a tough line – Brazil, which, says the BBC, has yet to approve the appointment four months ago of Israel’s new ambassador. Not only is the new man, Dani Dayan, a former chairman of the Yesha Council which promotes illegal Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian lands, but Israeli prime minister Netanyahu broke the news of the appointment on Twitter before telling Brazil, according to reports.
As even Netanyahu must know, the transfer by an occupier of part of its own population into territory it occupies is considered a war crime, so why should Brazil play host to a foreigner with such a vile record? Israel is threatening to downgrade relations to “secondary level” if Brazil does not give approval to the appointment. And Israeli deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely says that Dayan would not be replaced if his appointment isn’t accepted.
Since Brazil is Israel’s largest trading partner in South America you’d think the Israelis would watch their manners. The Brazilians, hopefully, won’t allow themselves to pushed around by Tel Aviv’s insufferable thugs.
Stop unacceptable harassment of human rights defenders in Occupied Palestinian Territory – UN experts
GENEVA – United Nations independent experts today expressed grave concerns at continued reports that human rights defenders are being subjected to physical attacks, harassment, arrest and detention, and death threats, particularly in Hebron in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), in an apparent bid by Israeli authorities and settler elements to stop their peaceful and important work.
“Amidst a charged and violent atmosphere over past months in the OPT, Palestinian and international defenders are providing a ‘protective presence’ for Palestinians at risk of violence, and documenting human rights violations,” said the UN Special Rapporteur the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst.
“The continued harassment of human rights defenders in the OPT, who are exercising their rights to freedoms of expression and association, is simply unacceptable. It should cease immediately,” Mr. Forst stressed.
Earlier this month, a group of UN human rights experts urged the Israeli Government to ensure a protective environment where human rights defenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territory can work without unlawful restriction and without fear of retaliatory acts.
“We recently addressed concerns to the Israeli Government regarding retaliatory acts by Israeli authorities against members of one organisation based in Hebron, Youth Against Settlements, after its Centre was subjected to raids and settlers allegedly called for it to be closed,” noted the UN Special Rapporteur the situation of human rights in the OPT, Makarim Wibisono.
“The Centre has now effectively been shut down as a result of the Israeli military declaring the surrounding area a military zone,” Mr. Wibisono said. “We urge Israeli authorities to lift this military order.”
The experts’ statement has been endorsed by the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr. Juan E. Méndez, and by the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Mr. Maina Kiai.
The European Union should impose sanctions on Turkey and Saudi Arabia for financing the Islamic State (IS or Daesh in Arabic) jihadist group, instead of extending its anti-Russia sanctions, the leader of Italy’s Eurosceptic Lega Nord party, Matteo Salvini, told Sputnik Wednesday.
A UN Security Council Resolution to counter the financing of terrorism, targeting in particular Daesh, an organization outlawed in a number of states including Russia, was adopted Thursday. The resolution specifies that Daesh derives its main source of income from smuggled oil and obliges all states to oppose this illicit oil trade in the strongest terms. Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said that Turkish companies found to be involved in this illicit oil trade might be sanctioned by the UN Security Council.
“Europe needs to impose sanctions against Turkey and Saudi Arabia instead of extending sanctions against Russia,” Salvini said.
Salvini added that his party does not believe that the Islamic coalition against extremists that was announced by Saudi Arabia earlier this week “will serve its alleged goals because it is the state that supports terrorism.”
Daesh controls large swathes of land in oil-rich Syria, Iraq and Libya. Earlier this month, the Russian Defense Ministry presented evidence showing that Daesh has been smuggling oil across the porous Syria-Turkey border in large volumes.
Salvini is currently in Moscow and is set to meet on Friday with the head of Russia’s upper house of parliament’s International Committee, Alexei Pushkov, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Andrey Klimov, as well as with the representatives of the United Russia Party.
The United Nations General Assembly has approved a Russian-led resolution calling for nations to refrain from being the first to deploy weapons into outer space, in spite of U.S. resistance and European silence on the proposed measure, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The resolution was first drafted by Russia in 2014, but was rejected by the United States and other nations last year, and then again this year, when the draft resolution was considered by a GA committee focusing on issues of arms control.
On Tuesday, 129 nations represented in the General Assembly voted to adopt the measure, which was co-sponsored by 40 nations — including China and Syria — and is known as the “no first placement” initiative.
“It is noteworthy that the only government objecting to the substance of our initiative is the United States, which for many years has stood in almost complete isolation trying to block successive efforts of the international community to prevent an arms race in outer space,” the Foreign Ministry said.
The initiative calls on nations to refrain from being the first to place military weapons in outer space, thereby preventing a new and potentially devastating arms race between the world’s leading space-faring nations — Russia, China and the United States, who are all working on space weapons.
Europe, which has an effective multi-national space program of its own, has consistently abstained from ruling on the Russian proposal. The United States maintains that Russia’s resolution does not adequately define space weapons, and ignores an entire class of ground-launched space arms — such as anti-satellite missiles tested by China.
The resolution is nonbinding, but calls for negotiations held at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva to put forth a legally binding international treaty preventing weapons from being deployed in space, and calls on all states to adopt national commitments to the resolution.
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has passed a resolution proposed by Iran aimed at bringing about the disarmament of nuclear powers.
On Monday, the Assembly voted 121 against 48 in favor of the non-binding resolution, which had already been cleared by its First Committee, aka Disarmament and International Security Committee. The voting saw 12 abstentions.
The resolution demands practical action by all nuclear-armed countries toward disarmament and the promotion of international stability and security for all.
It also demands unilateral steps by such countries to scale down their nuclear arsenals as well as more transparency regarding their nuclear arms capabilities and implementation of international agreements.
The Islamic Republic had devised the resolution based on the ratifications of the Review Conferences of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995, 2000, and 2010.
The majority of the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement threw their support behind the resolution. The United States, Israel, Canada, Britain, Russia, France, and Germany were among those voting against it, while China, South Korea, Japan, India, and Italy, among others, abstained.
Speaking after the approval of the resolution, Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Gholam Hossein Dehqani (seen below) said, “It has been declared in Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that these countries are obliged to initiate negotiations for the disarmament and have been asked to put into force step-by-step measures for decommissioning nuclear weapons and then destroying them. Unfortunately, though, no effective or serious step has been taken in this direction.”
“The international community is insistent upon nuclear disarmament and the nuclear-armed countries’ implementation of their obligations. The current trend suggests that slowly, nuclear-armed countries and the Zionist regime (Israel), which possesses nuclear weapons, will move toward isolation in the General Assembly’s First Committee and other assemblies, and will certainly end up in worse circumstances every day,” the Iranian official added.
Israel is regarded as the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
[This is a translation of an article that recently appeared in Al Akhbar.]
Ansar Allah detain two Americans on Espionage Charges
Two Americans have been under surveillance who have regularly visited the site that is the current temporary residence of the UN team. The UN are based in the Sheraton Hotel in Yemen’s capital Sanaa.
This hotel had been used previously by the US diplomatic mission until it’s evacuation from Sanaa early 2015. The U.S. Diplomatic Mission allowed the UN to work from these premises temporarily until it could be considered safe for the Mission to return to Yemen once the hostilities had ceased.
The UN does not pay anything for the use of the facility and is not responsible for the maintenance of the premises that belong to the US Foreign Affairs Ministry but events over the last two weeks reveal that perhaps the UN repays Washington in more ways than one for the use of these premises.
The UN mission in Yemen operates with a very small staff, probably less than a hundred, consisting of Yemeni nationals, non Yemeni Arab nationals and foreign nationals.
These UN staff members travel between Yemen and Djibouti on UN-chartered private planes. Djibouti is now the only gateway to the world for Yemenis who are under an internationally supported blockade.
The two Americans who were under surveillance were transported using UN vehicles despite the fact that UN law prohibits the use of their vehicles for the transportation of any non-UN staff regardless of the situation, in order to maintain its neutral status.
On the evening of the 20th of October, a private UN plane arrived in Sanaa, from Djibouti. On board were two American citizens, Mark McAllister and John Hamen, who were ostensibly working for a maintenance company, Al Rafideen, contracted by the US Mission to provide services to their now vacated offices in the Sheraton Hotel, Sanaa.
At this point, Yemen National Security moved in and arrested the two men, taking them to an unknown location.
Attempts were made by the chief of staff of the UN mission in Sanaa to intervene and secure the release of the two Americans. The UN engaged in direct talks with the Yemeni government and Ansar Allah. The response from the Yemeni side was curt and to the point stating that this was not within the UN’s jurisdiction and the UN has nothing to do with the two men in question.
The UN official confirmed to the local government and AnsarAllah that the two men were working for a company now contracted by the UN and had been invited to Sanaa by the UN to maintain premises [that they do not pay for and where the UN is not responsible for maintenance – edit]. Unsurprisingly all UN efforts to secure the release of McAllister and Hamen have been unsuccessful.
The UN was then informed that one of the two men was recognised as a “security agent” who had been working with the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Sanaa prior to their departure. The UN was informed by the relevant local Yemeni authorities that the UN’s involvement with any foreign intelligence is in direct violation of its fundamental principles and lawful activities in Yemen. This puts the UN in a very precarious and embarrassing position in Yemen.
Al-Akhbar asked the official spokesman on behalf of the UN Secretary General whether UN staff members were facing any hardships in Yemen:
“Yes, we face hardships due to the security situation and we are unable to distribute relief aid to Yemenis as we would be able to under normal circumstances.”
Responding to the question of whether or not the UN is in communication with the Saudi-led coalition, the UN official stated:
“As in the case of every war-torn area, the UN maintains communication with all factions involved in the conflict to guarantee UN convoy security.”
Al-Akhbar also asked the UN official why the UN had allowed two non UN operatives, now in Yemeni & AnsarAllah custody, to travel to Yemen in a UN privately chartered plane. This contravenes all internationally agreed upon protocols that strictly prohibit the use of UN transportation for non UN staff. The seriousness of the situation is intensified by the fact that Yemen authorities have accused both men of being Washington intelligence agents.
The UN official responded cautiously, stating that he is aware of the two men whom he believes to be UN contractors. He is aware of their situation but has no update on the incident. He added that the UN would not have transported any such operatives into or out of Yemen without using the proper channels of communication. He reiterated the official line that the two men are likely to be service contractors brought in to carry out maintenance on the adopted UN premises. [edit: despite the UN not being responsible for the premises]
The incident is highly sensitive. It does not only involve McAllister and Hamen, still in custody, but raises the uncomfortable question, what role is the UN playing in Yemen and for that matter, in other war torn countries in the region?
Yemeni citizens working for the UN have expressed their frustration at not being allowed to implement solutions to the dire humanitarian situation in their country, and have complained of having their movements and activities closely surveyed.
Yemeni security have informed the UN directly that this particular case violates the sovereignty of their country and its security.
A local security official informed the UN in Yemen that such actions will have serious repercussions upon their activities within Yemen. Initial investigations into the two Washington assets in custody have shown that both men are linked to activities suspected to be espionage and investigations have exposed one of the men as a Washington intelligence agent who had already worked with Yemeni agents and who was well known to Yemen’s security officials.
The second man is an officer in the US Marines who has served in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.
The naturally concerned Yemeni authorities have informed the UN that the UN has no jurisdiction over these two men and should not interfere in Yemen’s security matters.
As a consequence, all UN vehicles are being carefully and systematically inspected in the capital Sanaa. UN drivers are being checked and all passenger passports demanded for verification. This is now routine both at the airport and on the streets of Sanaa.
The matter was further complicated when a shot was fired at a UN vehicle and the bullet penetrated the car on October 22, 2015 while it was travelling towards Sanaa airport. No casualties were reported but its quite possible that this was a warning shot across UN bows.
What is certain however, is that both Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress party in Yemen are highly displeased with UN Peace Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh’s recent role in siding with the Saudi-led coalition and disregarding all the points agreed upon in the Muscat talks.
Both parties are also understandably enraged by Washington’s role in supporting the Saudi-led coalition’s aggression on Yemen that is devastating the country. Washington has provided direct support to the Saudi coalition by supplying weapons, intelligence information, air surveillance and logistic support for air strikes. This support has been widely documented in the media.
Yemeni officials in Sanaa are on high alert regarding any intelligence network that could provide support to the Saudi-led coalition air strikes that have predominantly targeted civilians. This, despite continuous UN communications with the Saudi coalition’s operations room in the Saudi capital Al-Riyadh informing them of the co-ordinates of the UN location and areas of work.
Riyadh however, does not seem to be overly concerned with that information as was clearly seen when the Saudis directly targeted and bombed the UN Development Project in Aden. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressed criticism of Riyadh’s disregard and called for an investigation into the strikes but to date no such investigation has been initiated.
Riyadh came under criticism again for the disregard it showed by directly bombing the World Food Programmes’s storage facility, and several hospitals operating under international organizations directly affiliated with the UN.