Posts Tagged ‘The United States’

Disarming: Gaza or Israel?

August 7, 2014


Nasir Khan, August 7, 2014

Palestinians have been under Israeli occupation; they have been frequent targets of destructive Israeli wars and massacres. If common sense can be our guide in this situation than the solution is to disarm Israel and prosecute its war criminals for war crimes and crimes against humanity in ICC. Disarming Hamas? Hamas has no army, no air force, no missiles, no navy, no naval gunships, no tanks, no anti-aircraft missiles. If Israel has played havoc with the homes and buildings of the Gazans and killed people then the main reason for the Gazan tragedy lies in their inability to defend themselves.

Ideally, for Gazans to defend themselves against Israel’s military might they need a matching military power and weapons. It is obvious that without this they have no chance to defend themselves and their homes. We have seen this what Israel is capable of doing in the 29-day war on Gaza. The Gazans have been at the mercy of Israeli missiles and powerful bombs that pulverised their homes and other structures. Unless Israel lifts the blockade, ends the occupation and develops a new approach towards the people of Palestine the conflict will not disappear.

But how can the Gazans under Hamas do that, to defend themselves militarily, remains an open question. The leaders of the ‘New World Order’ especially the United States will not allow that. There is no major country that is ready to give substantive material support to the Palestinians. Therefore the prevailing conditions will remain intact.

We need to keep in mind that Gaza is beleaguered by Israel from all sides including its air space. It is the largest open-air prison in the world. Now Israel by intentional destruction of the infrastructure of Gaza has made sure that its people would not raise their heads again against the ongoing occupation and blockade for years to come. But if they did at some stage then they would have Israeli war-machine on their heads again. It is as simple as that if we want to understand the Israeli position.

No doubt, this is an undefendable situation. To my mind the only explanation lies in the fact that it is military might that decides the fate of a subjugated people, not their rights according to international law or humane considerations. Yet the struggle of the Palestinians for their national liberation from the Zionist yoke needs universal support. The public demonstrations in many countries around the world denouncing the Israeli genocide and carnage in Gaza have been positive. They show a growing awareness among the people of the world about the plight of the colonised Palestinians.

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U.K. Government Must Provide Information About Rendition, Disappearance and Torture, Urges Amnesty International

August 30, 2008

CommonDreams.0rg

WASHINGTON – August 29 – Amnesty International today called on the government of the U.K. to give the lawyers for Binyam Mohamed, a former U.K. resident imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, information which it holds and which might help him to show that he has been a victim of torture and other ill-treatment in the U.S.-led program of renditions and secret detention.

“Providing this information would be a first step towards accountability for the U.K.’s involvement in the U.S. program of rendition and secret detention, as well as in the torture and other ill-treatment of terrorist suspects,” said Halya Gowan, a spokesperson on Europe at Amnesty International.

Binyam Mohamed was arrested at Karachi airport in April 2002 and transferred to U.S. custody three months later. In July 2002, he was transferred on a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-registered plane to Morocco, where he was held for about 18 months. There, Binyam Mohamed reports he was tortured, including having his penis cut by a razor blade. He was allegedly subjected to further torture after his further rendition to the “dark prison” in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January 2004. After five months, he was transferred to the U.S. airbase in Bagram, and suffered further alleged ill-treatment there. Binyam was transferred in mid-September 2004 to Guantanamo where he has remained ever since.

“Statements that Binyam Mohamed made in the course of his unlawful detention will form the basis of charges against him if he is tried before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay – a trial which would be unfair, and could involve charges which could be punishable by death. Any information the U.K. authorities have which relates to violations of his human rights or could affect Binyam Mohamed’s defense should be disclosed to his lawyers without any further delay,” said Gowan.

Following last week’s ruling by the High Court of England and Wales, that the United Kingdom has a duty to disclose this information to lawyers for Binyam Mohamed, today the High Court postponed its decision on an application made by the U.K. Foreign Secretary to be allowed to withhold this information. The Foreign Secretary claimed that its disclosure would damage the U.K.’s intelligence-sharing arrangements with the United States, and thus threaten the United Kingdom’s national security. The Foreign Secretary has been given another week to provide the court with a fuller explanation for continuing to withhold this information.

Binyam Mohamed’s lawyers need the information now, before a decision is taken about whether he should be tried by a military commission in the United States. It is essential to their claim that the information on which the charges against him are based was improperly obtained.

Recent revelations of secret detainee transfers through Diego Garcia, and around the Untied Kingdom’s involvement in the rendition and secret detention of U.K .residents Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna, show that the United Kingdom can no longer hide its involvement in these human rights violations.

“Secrecy with the excuse of protecting diplomatic relations can no longer be used to justify the failure to investigate the involvement of U.K. agents in human rights violations,” Gowan said.

Amnesty International calls on the U.K. authorities to immediately instigate a genuinely independent and impartial public inquiry into all allegations of U.K. involvement in the renditions program.

BACKGROUND

Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian national, claims that he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in Pakistan, Morocco, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. The detainee claims that statements he made–which, as the High Court affirmed, will form the basis of evidence against him if he is tried by a military commission -were the products of his unlawful detention, torture and ill-treatment.

In August 2007, after a sustained campaign by human rights activists and lawyers in the United Kingdom, the U.K. government requested the release from Guantanamo Bay a number of former U.K. residents, including Binyam Mohamed. Although three men were returned in December 2007, the U.S. authorities refused the request for the release and return of Binyam Mohamed. The U.K. authorities say that they are continuing to request the release and return of Binyam Mohamed.

The U.K. government has disclosed the information that it holds about Binyam Mohamed to the U.S. authorities; and the U.S. authorities have given the U.K. a promise that this information will be given to Binyam Mohamed’s military lawyer in the event that his case should be sent for trial before a military commission. But to date neither the United Kingdom nor the United States has disclosed that information–relevant to the rendition of Binyam Mohamed and his subsequent treatment in detention–to his lawyers.

Amnesty International believes that the military commission procedures at Guantanamo Bay are fundamentally unfair, and has called for the military commission system to be abandoned, and for all those still held at Guantanamo Bay to be released or given a genuinely fair trial before federal civilian courts without delay.

For more information, please visit Amnesty International’s website at www.amnestyusa.org or contact the AIUSA media office.

Battle lines move from Kashmir to Kabul

August 11, 2008

Asia Times, August 9, 2008

By M K Bhadrakumar

There is wide acclaim today among Indian strategic analysts and diplomatic editors that New Delhi has scored a major diplomatic victory in Afghanistan and that its “influence” in Kabul has “peaked”. This victory has come on the back of Washington’s strategic pro-India tilt and, in the period since end-2001 to date, India’s earmarking of a staggering US$1.2 billion as assistance for Afghan “reconstruction”.

Some Indian cheerleaders expound the thesis that it is the hallmark of an aspiring great power to “first learn to become a net provider of regional security” – and Delhi must therefore step in and lend a hand in fixing the Afghan problem. Others visualize Afghanistan providing a “unique opportunity” to be of help to the United States, and that Delhi will eventually benefit from the payback by a grateful superpower that is sure to come. Yet another Indian viewpoint is that it simply pays to rattle Islamabad by creating space for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. An invidious Indian argument is that Delhi should use Afghan soil to retaliate against Islamabad’s support of Kashmiri militants.

In diplomacy, maybe, it pays to sidestep historical memory. Archives may contain only chronicles of wasted time. Very few Indian strategic analysts who at present hold forth on Afghanistan seem to be even remotely aware of how, like Karzai, the then head of state in Kabul, Dr Mohammad Najibullah, was a frequent visitor to Delhi in the late 1980s.

That, too, was a twilight zone in the 30-year-old Afghan war when the conflict, like today’s, uneasily lingered in the shade. Fortunately for Delhi, though, the slow-rolling coup that worked its way through the Afghan labyrinth for months before culminating in the morning of April 16, 1992, with Najib’s ouster, didn’t come entirely as surprise. Indian diplomats soon began diligently seeking out the Afghan mujahideen in the dangerous Hindu Kush mountains, to explain to those new masters the cold rationale of India’s exceedingly warm friendship with Najib.

They explained patiently that it was after all a strictly state-to-state, government-to-government relationship with Najib, shorn of ideology or religion or commitments. The Northern Alliance’s Ahmad Shah Massoud still looked away as elements in his militia systematically ransacked the Indian Embassy, forcing its diplomats to flee Kabul.

Yet, within no time, by the mid-1990s, Massoud had become India’s key Afghan ally – or, as much as he could be anyone’s ally. Certainly, it remains a tantalizing proposition whether with all the Indian help Taliban rule could have been overthrown but for al-Qaeda’s historic decision to attack New York and Washington in September 2001.

Continued . . .

Iraq Demands ‘Very Clear’ US Troop Timeline

August 11, 2008
Common Dreams News Center
by Mohammed Abbas | Reuters 10, 2008

BAGHDAD – The United States must provide a “very clear timeline” to withdraw its troops from Iraq as part of an agreement allowing them to stay beyond this year, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Sunday.

It was the strongest public assertion yet that Iraq is demanding a timeline. U.S. President George W. Bush has long resisted setting a firm schedule for pulling troops out of Iraq, although last month the White House began speaking of a general “time horizon” and “aspirational goals” to withdraw.

Iraq’s leaders have become more confident of their ability to provide security on their own as the country has become safer. But bombings, which killed at least nine people on Sunday, were a reminder that it is still a violent place.

In an interview with Reuters, Zebari said the agreement, including the timeline, was “very close” and would probably be presented to the Iraqi parliament in early September.

Asked if Iraq would accept a document that did not include dates for a withdrawal, Zebari said: “No, no. Definitely there has to be a very clear timeline.”

“The talks are still ongoing. There’s been a great deal of progress. The deal is very close. It is about to be closed,” Zebari said of the agreement, which will replace a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the U.S. presence, which expires at the end of this year.

A sticking point in the negotiations is Washington’s wish that its troops be immune from Iraqi law. In July, Iraq’s deputy speaker of parliament told Reuters lawmakers would likely veto any a deal if this condition were granted.

Other hurdles include the power of the U.S. military to detain Iraqi citizens, and their authority to conduct military operations, Zebari said.

“Our negotiators have really found compromises on all these issues.”

ASSERTIVE STANCE

He would not be drawn on the precise dates that Iraqi negotiators are seeking for withdrawal, saying the document was not yet final. Iraqi officials have said they would like to see all combat troops out by October 2010.

An agreement that included that date would require the Bush administration effectively to accept a timeline almost identical to the one proposed by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who opposed the 2003 invasion.

“You may hear many dates, but I caution you not to take any of these dates until you get the final document,” Zebari said.

Iraq has taken an increasingly assertive stance in negotiations with the United States after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s forces scored military victories against militia groups this year, giving the government a confidence boost.

The high price of oil means the Iraqi treasury has more money for reconstruction projects than it can figure out how to spend, and violence is at a four-year low.

Still, U.S. commanders say they worry that a hasty withdrawal could allow violence to resume.

A suicide bomber blew up a bomb-laden minibus in the town of Khanaqin north of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding at least 20 on Sunday. Five roadside bomb attacks in Baghdad on Sunday killed a total of six people and wounded at least 26.

Iraqi politics have been paralysed by a dispute over the northern city of Kirkuk, which Kurds claim as the capital of their autonomous homeland. The issues threatens to stoke ethnic tensions between the city’s Kurds, Arabs and ethnic Turkmen.

That quarrel scuppered a law needed to allow provincial elections across the country, despite intensive lobbying by the United States and United Nations to reach a deal.

(Editing by Peter Graff and Mary Gabriel)

© 2008 Reuters

Israel mulls military option for Iran nukes

August 7, 2008

Israel beefs up strike capability, confident it could deal setback to Iran nuclear program

STEVEN GUTKIN
AP News

Aug 06, 2008 17:21 EST

Israel is building up its strike capabilities amid growing anxiety over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and appears confident that a military attack would cripple Tehran’s atomic program, even if it can’t destroy it.

Such talk could be more threat than reality. However, Iran’s refusal to accept Western conditions is worrying Israel as is the perception that Washington now prefers diplomacy over confrontation with Tehran.

The Jewish state has purchased 90 F-16I fighter planes that can carry enough fuel to reach Iran, and will receive 11 more by the end of next year. It has bought two new Dolphin submarines from Germany reportedly capable of firing nuclear-armed warheads — in addition to the three it already has.

And this summer it carried out air maneuvers in the Mediterranean that touched off an international debate over whether they were a “dress rehearsal” for an imminent attack, a stern warning to Iran or a just a way to get allies to step up the pressure on Tehran to stop building nukes.

According to foreign media reports, Israeli intelligence is active inside Iranian territory. Israel’s military censor, who can impose a range of legal sanctions against journalists operating in the country, does not permit publication of details of such information in news reports written from Israel.

The issue of Iran’s nuclear program took on new urgency this week after U.S. officials rejected Tehran’s response to an incentives package aimed at getting it to stop sensitive nuclear activity — setting the stage for a fourth round of international sanctions against the country.

Israel, itself an undeclared nuclear power, sees an atomic bomb in Iranian hands as a direct threat to its existence.

Israel believes Tehran will have enriched enough uranium for a nuclear bomb by next year or 2010 at the latest. The United States has trimmed its estimate that Iran is several years or as much as a decade away from being able to field a bomb, but has not been precise about a timetable. In general U.S. officials think Iran isn’t as close to a bomb as Israel claims, but are concerned that Iran is working faster than anticipated to add centrifuges, the workhorses of uranium enrichment.

“If Israeli, U.S., or European intelligence gets proof that Iran has succeeded in developing nuclear weapons technology, then Israel will respond in a manner reflecting the existential threat posed by such a weapon,” said Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, speaking at a policy forum in Washington last week.

Continued . . .

Military censorship of the war in Iraq

July 31, 2008

By Naomi Spencer | WSWS, 31 July 2008

Five years of bloody US occupation have seen numerous crimes against humanity unfold in Iraq. Millions of Iraqi civilians have been killed and wounded, with millions more made into refugees. Ancient, once-vibrant cities have been destroyed by air raids and chemical weapons. Thousands of Iraqis have imprisoned by the US military in barbaric conditions, and in many cases tortured. In carrying out the occupation, more than 4,400 military personnel—most of them American—have died and tens of thousands have been wounded.

Little reflection of these realities is to be found, however, in the US media, particularly in visual form. Censorship by the military—and self-censorship by media outlets—is part of an effort by the ruling elite to sanitize the war and keep the American public in the dark about its real nature.

As highlighted in a July 26 piece in the New York Times, titled “4,000 U.S. Deaths, and a Handful of Images,” very few photographs of the occupation have trickled out from the military-embedded journalists and been released by the American media. The military and Bush administration have imposed rules barring photos of flag-draped caskets, as well as documentation of battlefield casualties in which faces, ranks, or other identifiers are visible.

The Times notes, “Even memorial services for killed soldiers, once routinely open, are increasingly off limits. Detainees were widely photographed in the early years of the war, but the Department of Defense, citing prisoners’ rights, has recently stopped that practice as well.” Journalists have also been forbidden from releasing images showing what the military deems to be sensitive information—anything from an image of American weaponry to the aftermath of an insurgent strike.

Journalists interviewed by the Times said that even tighter rules imposed last year, requiring written permission from wounded soldiers before their images could be used, were nearly impossible to satisfy in the case of seriously wounded and dying soldiers.

“While embed restrictions do permit photographs of dead soldiers to be published once family members have been notified,” the Times commented, “in practice, the military has exacted retribution on the rare occasions that such images have appeared.”

Clearly, none of these restrictions have anything to do with “prisoners’ rights” or respect for the families of fallen soldiers. To the contrary, the military’s intent is to obscure from the American people the hellish reality in which prisoners and US soldiers alike have found themselves. Indeed, while employing typical military jargon and doublespeak, Defense Department officials make no secret of the subject: free and easy access to photographs, print journalism, and first-hand accounts of the war are a “vulnerability” for US imperialism because it fuels antiwar sentiment in the population and within the military.

Continued . . .


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