Archive for November, 2010

The Conflict in Chechnya: Confronting the Threat of State Disintegration and the Right to Self-Determination

November 30, 2010

Shavkat Kasymov, Foreign  Policy Journal, November 28, 2010

Abstract

This essay focuses on the right of the Chechen people to self-determination. I examine the legitimacy of the Chechens’ claim to self-determination and assess the policies of the Russian government toward the minority populations of the Caucasus. I also assess various aspects related to the legitimacy of the movements that fight for self-determination in the context of the global war on terror as well as the problem of violations of minority group rights. In this essay, I argue that current policies of the Russian government in the Caucasus do not lay the foundation for the long-lasting peace and stability in the region and are, in large part, conducive to the continuation of separatist tendencies.

Human Rights and Nation Building Policies

The right to self-determination is intimately linked to the right to free association as well as a guaranteed protection of cultural rights under universal UN conventions, whereas the concept of state sovereignty is the foundational framework on which the global peace and security are built in the modern world. Today, the conflict of principles of state sovereignty and identity group rights continues to generate and fuel a number of local wars and conflicts in many parts of the world. Moreover, some localized conflicts have been extended to other countries owing to the ideological factors that fuel them.

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Religion as a Tool of Repression

November 30, 2010

by Charles Sullivan , Dissident Voice, November 29th, 2010

Free speech and dissent are always curtailed in times of war. Whenever soldiers occupy foreign nations, rational thinking is proscribed in favor of nationalistic hubris. Minority opinions, although grounded in ethics and reason, are repressed, often brutally. The majority becomes intolerant of dissenting views. Thoughtful dialog is suspended and irrational ideology gains ascendancy. Civil discourse breaks down, and the social order disintegrates into anti-intellectual emotionalism and chaos.

During World Wars I and II, it was dangerous for anyone to oppose war or to speak truth to power. When Eugene Debs delivered his Canton anti-war speech in 1918, he went to prison. In An Enemy of the People, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen demonstrated that the majority of the people are easily deceived, their emotions manipulated by profiteers and special interests. It requires serious conviction to take a principled stand in the midst of nationalistic fervor in which men and women so easily turn upon one another. During war, nationalism and repression are conducted with the fervor of a religious crusade.

In this era of permanent war we see bumper stickers that attempt to meld religion with nationalism. They carry jingoistic slogans like “God bless America” or “God bless our troops.” Significantly, God even appears on our currency. But why would a just God, if God exists at all, bless a nation that kills with impunity? Why would God bless a nation with a history of repression and genocide?  Why would God bless a nation that institutionalized chattel slavery and the repression of its working class?

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Hillary Clinton: WikiLeaks Revelations ‘An Attack on the World’

November 30, 2010

Officials Rail At ‘Serious Crime’ of Unveiling Other Serious Crimes

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, November 29, 2010

The truth about the unseemly way in which the US State Department has been behaving should not have gone public, insists Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who today called the revelation of these facts “an attack on the international community.”

The Obama Administration has expressed outrage at what amounts to the revelation of a growing number of crimes committed under their watch (and often on their direct orders), with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs calling the leaks a serious crime.

Of course, the Supreme Court has already ruled that classified documents can be published by the press, and while the original leaker himself, apparently Pfc Bradley Manning, may well be liable for prosecution under the Military Code of Justice, his crime certainly pales in comparison to those the documents detail.

One of the documents, for instance, was signed by Secretary Clinton, and ordered officials at dozens of US embassies to attempt to steal personal data, including credit card information, from a number of top UN officials. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is said to be extremely concerned that the US attempted to steal his credit card, and likely much less concerned that someone revealed the attempted theft.

Saudi king urged US to ‘cut the head of the Iranian snake’

November 30, 2010
Wikileaks: leaked US documents show Saudi willingness to resisting, rolling back Iranian influence and subversion in Iraq.
 

Middle East Online, Nov 28, 2010

Nervous about Nuclear Iran

PARIS – King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear programme, according to US documents leaked by WikiLeaks and published Sunday by daily newspapers.

According to a leaked US cable, published by the New York Times, King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz made the call during an April 2008 meeting with US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and US General David Petraeus.

“He told you to ‘cut off the head of the snake’,” Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, told the US embassy in Riyadh two days after the high-level talks, according to the State Department memo.

“The King, Foreign Minister, Prince Muqrin, and Prince Nayif all agreed that the Kingdom needs to cooperate with the US on resisting and rolling back Iranian influence and subversion in Iraq,” the memo said.

“The King was particularly adamant on this point, and it was echoed by the senior princes as well. Al-Jubeir recalled the King’s frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons program.”

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Deceits, plots, insults: America laid bare

November 30, 2010

Diplomatic communiqués released by Wikileaks shine unprecedented light on the US and how it sees the world

By Jerome Taylor, Cahal Milmo and David Usborne, US Editor

The Independent, November 29, 2010

President Obama's administration has backed the gathering of personal details of foreign dignitaries GETTY

President Obama’s administration has backed the gathering of personal details of foreign dignitaries

 

 

The doors to a previously hidden world of diplomatic intrigue and insults were dramatically thrown open last night as the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks published its vast tranche of secret American diplomatic communiqués. The release of hundreds of thousands of secret messages from staff at US embassies revealed how Washington has struggled to confront the geopolitical realities of a post-9/11 world.

It also exposed the often less than diplomatic language used by State Department insiders to describe some of the planet’s most powerful leaders. Contained within the quarter of a million secret memos are revelations that:

*The Obama administration has ordered diplomats to gather vast amounts of personal, biometric and banking details about key global figures, including the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon; …

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WikiLeaks exposé: Israel tried to coordinate Gaza war with Abbas

November 30, 2010

In diplomatic cable documenting 2009 meeting, Defense Minister Barak says Egypt, PA refuse to take over Gaza in case of Hamas defeat.

Barak Ravid, Haaretz, Nov 28, 2010

Israel tried to coordinate the Gaza war with the Palestinian Authority, classified diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks said on Sunday, adding that both the PA and Egypt refused to take control of the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

Ehud Barak and Mahmoud Abbas AP 1.7.2008 Ehud Barak, right, and Mahmoud Abbas speaking during the 23rd congress of the Socialist International in Greece, July 1, 2008.
Photo by: AP

The whistle-blowing website obtained some 250,000 diplomatic cables between the U.S. and its allies, which Washington had urged the site not to publish.

In a June 2009 meeting between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and a U.S. congressional delegation, Barak claimed that the Israeli government “had consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas.”

“Not surprisingly,” Barak said in the meeting, Israel “received negative answers from both.”

While similar reports of such attempts to link the PA and Egypt to Israel’s war with Hamas had already surfaced in the past, the cable released by WikiLeaks on Sunday represents the first documented proof of such a move.

In the document, Barak also expressed his feeling that “the Palestinian Authority is weak and lacks self-confidence, and that Gen. Dayton’s training helps bolster confidence.”

The meeting which the cable documents took place just days before U.S. President Barack Obama’s Cairo speech, and a few weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first visit to the United States, a visit which revealed the deep differences between Obama and himself.

The cable also refers to what Barak describes as the debate within the Israeli cabinet in regards to a “development of a response to President Obama’s upcoming speech in Cairo.”

Yemeni President Pledged to Help US Cover Up Attacks

November 29, 2010

Saleh Promised to Take Credit for Attacks Carried Out by US Military

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, November 28, 2010

It is no secret that the US military has been launching attacks against targets inside Yemen for awhile now, but the depth of those attacks has been deliberately covered up by the US government, with the aid of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The revelation, in one of the new WikiLeaks diplomatic cables, reports that Saleh had agreed to claim that bombings against targets in the country were all Yemeni air strikes, and not American ones. This puts in question just how many of the putative Yemeni bombing strikes this year were really American ones.

Saleh was said to have expressed concerns about the number of civilians killed in the December 24 strike, which his government claimed credit for but which was carried out by the US. General Petraeus was said to have denied the reports of civilian deaths and the cable called Saleh uninformed.

Yet the Yemeni government continued to probe the attack and months after the cable they were forced to publicly apologize when it was revealed the attack had killed only two al-Qaeda members and 42 civilians.

Egypt: Elections Marred as Opposition Barred from Polls

November 29, 2010

Violence, Arrests and Fraud Allegations Widespread

Human Rights Watch, November 29, 2010
2010_Egypt_Elections.jpg

Riot police form a line as opposition members and supporters gather to support their candidates for the upcoming elections.

© 2010 Reuters

The authorities promised that Egyptian civil society could monitor the elections without the need for international observers. Unfortunately the repeated exclusion of opposition representatives and independent monitors from polling stations, along with reports of violence and fraud suggest that citizens were not able to partake in free elections.

Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division

(Cairo) – Elections to Egypt’s People’s Assembly on November 28, 2010, were marred by reports that opposition supporters were barred from polling stations and subjected to violence, Human Rights Watch said today. There were reports of numerous irregularities including arrests and harassment of journalists, denial of access for opposition candidate representatives to 30 polling stations visited by Human Rights Watch across the country and widespread allegations of voter fraud.

“The authorities promised that Egyptian civil society could monitor the elections without the need for international observers,” said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division. “Unfortunately the repeated exclusion of opposition representatives and independent monitors from polling stations, along with reports of violence and fraud suggest that citizens were not able to partake in free elections.”

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New WikiLeaks documents expose US foreign policy conspiracies

November 29, 2010
By David Walsh, wsws.org, 29 November 2010

The batch of 250,000 US classified documents released by WikiLeaks to several news outlets, some of whose content was made public Sunday, sheds new light on the sordid nature of American imperialist intrigue and conspiracy around the globe.

The WSWS will analyze the documents more thoroughly in a subsequent article, but “highlights” published by the Guardian and the New York Times are revealing.

The leaked material consists of classified cables from US embassies, some dispatched as recently as early 2010. The cables, most of which date from 2007-2010, contain US officials’ comments on foreign governments and leaders and speculation about the activities and maneuvers of the latter, as well as details about American foreign policy operations.

In a revelation that should surprise no one, the US State Department and American diplomacy in general turn out to be a vast nest of spies.

The Guardian explains that the WikiLeaks documents “reveal how the US uses its embassies as part of a global espionage network, with diplomats tasked to obtain not just information from the people they meet, but personal details, such as frequent flyer numbers, credit card details and even DNA material.

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Egypt’s discredited elections blighted by shadow of police violence

November 28, 2010

As Egypt goes to the polls today, allegations are multiplying of political torture and killings by a security service beyond the control of the courts

Jack Shenker in Alexandria, The Observer, Nov 28, 2010

An Egyptian woman holds up portrait of a Egyptian protesters hold up images of Khaled Said, who was found dead in Alexandria in June after posting an internet video apparently showing illicit police activity. Photograph: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

The Mahmoudia canal wends its way through some of Alexandria’s poorest quarters before eventually reaching the middle-class suburb of Somoha, where elegant blocks of flats abut the water’s edge and a rickety old footbridge connects one bank to the other.

It was here that 19-year-old Ahmed Shaaban’s body was found floating among the reeds, battered and bruised. The police say he drowned himself deliberately, though it is difficult to see how – the channel is so shallow it barely reaches one’s knees. A few days later, Shaaban’s uncle stood in front of a local journalist’s video camera and addressed Egypt‘s leader, Hosni Mubarak, directly. “You are at war with your own people,” he said softly. “Your gang is running loose killing citizens, and all you care about is the presidential chair.”

Something is rotten at the heart of Alexandria, one of the great metropolises of the ancient world and Egypt’s modern gateway to the Mediterranean. The country goes to the polls today to elect a new parliament in a ballot widely condemned by human rights groups as being blatantly rigged in favour of Mubarak’s ruling NDP party, and which has been marred by violent clashes on the street between government security services and opposition supporters.

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