Doctors, residents and NGO workers in Fallujah are accusing the Iraqi government of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” that have occurred as a result of its ongoing attack on the city.
Dr. Ahmed Shami, the chief of resident doctors at Fallujah General Hospital, told Truthout that since Iraqi government forces began shelling Fallujah in early January 2014, at least 109 civilians have been killed and 632 wounded.
“Ten of those killed were children, and 40 of the wounded are children,” Shami said. He also said five of the dead are women, as are 35 of the wounded.
“Many children have been killed in cold blood as the result of the indiscriminate shelling of the city,” Shami said. “At the same time, there are many young people from the city who (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-)Maliki’s army has killed and burned their bodies.”
While the Iraqi government has not cut the city’s water and electricity, doctors in Fallujah told Truthout that the Iraqi army, which they refer to as “Maliki’s forces,” continues to prevent medical supplies from entering the city.
- For Iraqis fleeing Fallujah, it’s 2004 again – but worse
- Iraq hosts arms exhibition as it battles militants
- Iraq Offers $17,200 Per Killed ‘Foreign Militant’
- U.S. says al-Qaeda is ‘skilled’ in exploiting Iraq
- US Steps Up Military Support for Iraq
- These are the 9 weapons the US is selling Iraq
- Sadr Slams Iraq PM Maliki as a Tyrant, Dictator
- Patrick Cockburn: The Political Retirement of Muqtada al-Sadr
- Congressman Mike Coffman Calls for Third Iraq War
- John Pilger: The truth about the criminal bloodbath in Iraq can’t be ‘countered’ indefinitely
- Are We Witnessing the Break Up of Iraq?
- Iraq Near Implosion: The ‘Bad Years’ Are Back
- For Iraqi Politicians, Laws Are Only for Others
- Torture and hangings a trademark of Maliki’s reign
- Iraq a hotbed of human trafficking
- Iraq’s environment, water supply in severe decline
- Ten years on, the US are helping to destroy Fallujah again
- Ghosts of Baghdad: America’s Army of Contractors Hasn’t Gone Anywhere. They Just Work for The Iraqi Government
- Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre (Documentary)
The US Department of Defense has announced that the US military would retain an “enduring” presence in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. In its latest strategy document on Tuesday, the Pentagon said it would also keep up relations to “stalwart” allies in Europe. The United States has 35,000 troops in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. US military facilities in the region include a base for its Fifth Fleet in Bahrain and one for its forces in Afghanistan. Washington is pressing the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai to sign a bilateral security deal in order to keep thousands of American troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
The US military has deployed 350,000 troops to about 130 foreign countries around the world. The US and its allies regularly stage naval exercises in the Persian Gulf. The new document comes despite Washington’s focus to increase military presence in the Asia-Pacific. Regarding the Pacific region, American officials cited ship building plans, deployments of marines to Australia and an expansion of joint military training and drills. ”We will continue our contributions to the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to preserve peace and stability in a region that is increasingly central to US political, economic, and security interests,” said the Quadrennial Defense Review, an update of the military’s global strategic outlook.
Official statistics from the Israeli government reflect what Palestinian negotiators have been complaining about for months: Israel has dramatically been expanding settlement construction since the peace talks began. Construction starts were up 123 percent in 2013 over the previous year, a huge amount despite the talk of a “partial settlement freeze.” Peace Now, the anti-settlement NGO, said the stats underscores Netanyahu’s government was committed to settlement expansion at the expense of everything else.
Israel is not seeing such a growth boom elsewhere. There was a 12 percent increase in construction in the Negev, but the massive city of Tel Aviv actually saw construction decline by 19 percent over 2012. The growth in settlement construction is likely a function of Netanyahu announcing more construction every time the peace talks hit any sort of milestone, nominally to placate the far-right members of his cabinet.
- Amnesty: pattern of Israeli “war crimes” in West Bank
- Clearing the fog on Israeli drone use in Gaza
- Israel’s Bennett: ‘Zero Tolerance’ for Israeli Arabs National Identity
- UN’s Falk accuses Israel of ‘ethnic cleansing’
- UN Official: Israel Guilty of ‘Inhuman’ and ‘Degrading’ Apartheid
- Stealing Land and Water in the West Bank
- The Truth About Cease-fire Violations Between Israel and Gaza
- AIPAC and Friends Explain Themselves
- Crisis over Crimea steals thunder from AIPAC conference
- Kerry at AIPAC: US Will Never Fail Israel
- Netanyahu: ‘I think it’s time to recognize a Jewish State. We’ve only been there 4000 years.’ (Video)
- Israel must make tough choices for peace, Obama says
- Mark Regev: ‘Israeli’s want peace more than anyone else’
- AIPAC divisions more pronounced than ever
- Israel Lobby AIPAC Down, But Not Out – Yet
- Zionist Movement: How AIPAC is severing its historical roots, and weakening its influence
- AIPAC Policy Conference 2014 (Video)
- Is Elliott Abrams Hoping to Succeed Abe Foxman at the ADL?
- ‘NY Times’ and ‘LA Times’ run op-eds by an AIPAC board member without telling readers
- The Illusion of AIPAC’s Invincibility
- Business boycott: Israelis feeling the pinch
- Sourcewatch: American Israel Public Affairs Committee
President Vladimir Putin has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, according to director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute Geir Lundestad. The announcement on Wednesday comes at an awkward time as Russia currently stands accused of invading Ukraine, something most people recognize as one of the most un-peaceful things a leader can do.
Voice of Russia notes that the nomination had likely been submitted back in October, when Putin had just acted as a main figure in the deal to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons. This didn’t take into account that Putin was also providing Syria with conventional weapons, but such is the way the Nobel Peace Prize works. It’s a system much like the Pulitzer Prize, where it’s actually surprisingly easy to get nominated for the award and often doesn’t really mean anything.
Despite unpopularity there for his frequent drone attacks, President Barack Obama is the new face of contraband Viagra in Pakistan. Pakistan, where Viagra is banned, has a thriving black market for erectile dysfunction drugs. The little blue pills are often smuggled in through Afghanistan, and take up shelf space alongside drugs of dubious quality and origin.
Agence France-Presse, whose reporter calls Obama an unwitting “symbol of power and virility,” shows covers of the contraband drug alongside interview with merchants. Shopkeepers claim various reasons that clients buy the drugs; one explains that “they improve the duration of those who have destroyed their youth through masturbation.”
The film “Omar,” a thriller and love story by director Hany Abu-Assad, is only the third Palestinian film to be nominated for an Academy Award — the second for best picture in a foreign language — but what’s just as notable is that its nomination listed “Palestine” as the country of origin, a detail that attests to the struggles of a maturing film industry under military occupation. ”Omar” looks at the layers of betrayal among best friends, lovers and a Palestinian prisoner with an Israeli agent hoping to turn him into an informant. Abu-Assad’s earlier film “Paradise Now” was the first Palestinian feature film nominated for an Oscar, in 2006.
Both films directly address occupation as a theme — a reflection of not only the struggles of everyday life for Palestinians but also the struggle to make art in such handicapped circumstances. ”When you are under occupation, it is dominating your life whether you like it or not,” Abu-Assad told Al Jazeera. “It’s part of your life. If you want to make a film in Palestine, you can’t avoid the occupation.”
The provincial government in Pakistan’s northwest state of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has said it has ended a more than three-month blockade of a NATO supply route to Afghanistan over contentious US drone strikes in the country, citing change in policy, Aljazeera reported. Until Thursday, the Tehreek-e-Insaf party, led by cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, had been blocking the route to pressure Washington to end drone attacks targeting armed groups in the region bordering Afghanistan. Khan himself has led these protests and has been a vocal critic of drone attacks in Pakistan.
In a statement, Khan’s party said it ended the protest after seeing a change in the US drone policy. Their decision also comes days after a Pakistani court ordered authorities to end the blockade of transit goods into landlocked Afghanistan. The party’s top leadership also “felt that the pressure of the blockade had already resulted in a shift in the Obama administration’s drone policy and as a result drones had been stopped for the present”, the statement read. It also said it ended the protest to respect the court order.
Party official Fiaz Ahmad Khalil said the blockade lasted 97 days. “We are happy that the American government has stopped drone attacks, and we are also positively responding by ending our protest,” Khalil said. Khan’s party launched the blockade after a US drone strike in November killed Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban.
- Pakistan: US Won’t Let Us Finish Iran Gas Pipeline
- US Claims to Curb Drone Strikes at Pakistan’s Behest
- Former Pakistani general says US seeks to ruin his country
- Robert Fisk: The world cannot turn a blind eye to America’s drone attacks in Pakistan
- Former military ruler Musharraf in court for treason trial
- Musharraf admits to have accepted ‘some’ US conditions after 9/11
- US-desired operation’ to be against country’s interests, says Imran
At least 95 people were killed and 388 others injured in 40 bomb blasts in Pakistan during February as the militants carried on terrorist attacks across the country, according to official statistics. Out of total 40 bomb attacks, six were of suicide nature that killed 34 people and injured 118 others in different areas of the country.
According to the statistics, the number of causalities during February were almost 44 percent less than the causalities occurred in January 2014. On month-on-month basis, comparison showed that the number of killing in bomb blasts during Feb. 2014 decreased by almost 38 percent compared to the same period last year.
During February, no high profile official came under attack, but militants targeted civilians, security forces and police. The worst attack of the period came on Feb. 13 when a suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying police personnel in the country’s southern port city of Karachi, killing 14 personnel and leaving 58 others injured.
- PM Nawaz ponders ceasefire after Taliban announcement
- Pakistani Taliban Call For 30 Day Ceasefire (Video)
- Nisar: Govt to use ‘other options’ if Taliban talks fail
- Altaf Hussain calls for military takeover
- Gen Raheel says army fully capable to counter any internal or external threat
- Pakistani Taliban say government must embrace Islamic law
- Executions Kill Pakistan-Taliban Peace Talks
- Clerics support anti-polio drive
- Inside Pakistan army’s bomb school
- Sunni-Shiite Violence In Pakistan Soars
- Balochistan: The untold story of Pakistan’s other war
- Breaking Down the Malala Conspiracy Theories
More than 1,705 people were killed across Iraq during February, according to figures compiled by Antiwar.com. This number is up considerably from last month owing to a large number of militant casualties, particularly in Anbar and the northern provinces. At least 804 of the dead were militants, bombers or gunmen. Another 2,045 people were wounded, about the same as in January.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan tightened his grip Wednesday on the judiciary and the Internet in an effort to tamp down a corruption scandal that’s rattled his government and now appears to implicate his immediate family and him. Evidence mounted that a series of audio recordings in which Erdogan can be heard instructing his son, Bilal, to get rid of enormous sums of money are authentic, with the government firing two senior officials at the state scientific agency responsible for the security of encrypted telephones and a U.S.-based expert on encrypted communications, after examining the recordings, telling McClatchy that the recordings appear to be genuine.
Erdogan on Tuesday called the five purported conversations an “immoral montage” that had been “dubbed.” But he acknowledged that even his secure telephone had been tapped. The only apparent “montage” was combining the five different conversations into one audio file, said Joshua Marpet, a U.S.-based cyber analyst who has testified in court on the validity of computer evidence in other Turkish criminal cases. He said there was no sign that the individual conversations had been edited. “If it’s fake, it’s of a sophistication that I haven’t seen,” he said. The purported telephone conversations took place over a 26-hour period, beginning on the morning of Dec. 17, when Turkish police launched raids on the houses and offices of members of the Erdogan government, businessmen and their families.
- Erdogan dares U.S.-based cleric: ‘Do your politics in Turkey’
- Erdoğan Accuses Police Of Attempting To Bring Down His Government (Video)
- Turkish president signs off new controls over judiciary
- Turkish Leader Disowns Trials That Helped Him Tame Military
- Turkey’s embattled Erdogan seeks wider powers for spy agency
- Turkish PM granted greater role over military (Video)
- Turkish editor hits out at media coercion under Erdogan
- Erdogan, Turkey and the future (Video)
- Mohammed Ayoob: The Warring States of Turkey
- Dr. Can Erimtan: Will Turkey become the new Pakistan?
- Obama to Erdogan: Resolve crisis with Israel
- Turkish MPs throw punches during heated debate
Israeli companies in the field of cyber security raised $165 million in 2013, about 11% of the world total, Israel National Cyber Bureau chief Eviatar Matania told the Cabinet on Sunday. Israeli exports in the cyber field, he said, amounted to $3 billion, representing about 5% of the global market, and triple that of the United Kingdom. They represent about 14.5% of total cyber companies in the world.
“We established the INCB in order to assist turning Israel into a major cyber power,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the meeting. ”I see the INCB as spurring strong economic development, especially since there is considerable global interest in our abilities, and this can serve not only the defense component, but that of economic growth as well,” he added.
Last month, Israel launched CyberSpark, a high-tech park in Beersheba devoted to cyber security, and meant to take advantage of the proximity to Ben-Gurion University, the train, and future IDF bases. The park has already drawn investments from Lockheed Martin and IBM. The INCB and the chief scientist’s office have budgeted NIS 80 million, over two years, to support Israeli companies in the field.
A few weeks ago, in a coastal suburb of Tunis known as Raoued, the government of Tunisia set the stage for creating an NSA-style spy agency to monitor telecommunications and Internet activity, including by its own citizens. That day, the nation’s counterterrorism police fanned out through the normally quiet residential area as special forces armed with automatic weapons surrounded a large house, inside of which heavily armed militants were believed to be hiding. Onlookers were cordoned off at a distance.
The operation unfolded slowly over the course of 24 hours. When police finally issued orders by loudspeaker for those inside the building to give themselves up, there was silence. Then suddenly a firefight broke out, and by the time it was over, seven militants and one national guardsman were dead. The government would later proclaim the successful raid a victory for the people, made possible by its increasing ability to monitor terrorist groups and prevent attacks before they happen. Underlying those claims was a subtext that has often been cited by American intelligence agencies and the Obama administration in recent years: that monitoring the activities of private citizens is essential to counterrorism efforts.
In Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, that approach has a particular resonance, because the protests in 2011 were in part sparked by the authoritarian government’s spying on its own citizens. As Tunisia prepares to create an agency known as the Technical Agency for Telecommunications (abbreviated ATT), some are concerned that the country is headed back in the direction of where the trouble began.
Foreign maids, cleaners and other domestic workers are being subjected to slave-like labour conditions in Qatar, with many complaining they have been deprived of passports, wages, days off, holidays and freedom to move jobs, a Guardian investigation can reveal. Hundreds of Filipino maids have fled to their embassy in recent months because conditions are so harsh. Many complain of physical and sexual abuse, harassment, long periods without pay and the confiscation of mobile phones.
The exploitation raises further concerns about labour practices in Qatar in advance of the World Cup, after Guardian reports about the treatment of construction workers. The maids are not directly connected to Qatar’s preparations for the football tournament, but domestic workers will play a big role in staffing the hotels, stadiums and other infrastructure that will underpin the 2022 tournament.
The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher. Washington increased military benefits in late 2001 as the nation went to war, seeking to quickly bolster its talent pool and expand its ranks. Those decisions and the protracted nation-building efforts launched in both countries will generate expenses for years to come, Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor, wrote in the report that was released Thursday.
“As a consequence of these wartime spending choices, the United States will face constraints in funding investments in personnel and diplomacy, research and development and new military initiatives,”the report says. “The legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.” Bilmes said the United States has spent almost $2 trillion already for the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those costs, she said, are only a fraction of the ultimate price tag. The biggest ongoing expense will be providing medical care and disability benefits to veterans of the two conflicts.
Egypt’s new prime minister said on Tuesday he would seek to eradicate militant violence that has increased since the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, hoping improved security will lead to economic recovery. Speaking after his appointment by Adly Mansour, Ibrahim Mahlab, the army-appointed president since Morsi’s removal in July, said he hoped to form his government within three or four days.
“We will work together to restore security and safety to Egypt and crush terrorism in all corners of the country,” said Mahlab, formerly the housing minister, expressing hope for a recovery in the crucial tourism sector. ”Security and stability in the entire country and crushing terrorism will pave the way for investment.”
Mahlab’s appointment followed the surprise resignation of prime minister Hazem el-Beblawi’s government on Monday. Bombings and shootings by militant Islamist groups have become commonplace since the army deposed Morsi after mass protests against his rule.
- Independent Journalism Now Considered ‘Terrorism’ in Egypt
- Egypt Junta Orders ‘Mass Tribunal’ for 504 Detained Foes
- Egypt’s Morsi urges revolution from court
- Jingoistic nationalism replaces revolution in Egypt
- Islamist leader: Egypt became ‘republic of fear’
- Egypt breaks up Muslim Brotherhood “military wing”
- Egypt mosques: Weekly sermon themes set by government
- Egypt cracks down on online dissent
- Egypt court acquits police of 2011 killings
- Egypt’s Security Forces Once Again Using Virginity Tests On Female Detainees
- The Egyptian revolution still grinds on
- Three Years Later, Tahrir Protesters Drained And Defeated
Egypt faces plenty of threats, from a growing insurgency in the Sinai to a shaky and still unstable presidential regime. But the dramatic reversal in the country’s energy fortunes in recent years, and the stark challenges that poses for the economy could end up proving the biggest headache for strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Before the Arab Spring, Egypt turned its abundant reserves of natural gas, the third largest in Africa, into lucrative exports shipped to Europe and Asia. It sent gas by pipeline to neighboring countries, including Jordan and Israel. It had ambitious plans to further develop offshore natural gas resources, and was expanding its creaky electricity system on the back of natural-gas fired power plants.
Today, Egypt is scrambling to import natural gas just to meet skyrocketing domestic demand. Exports have plummeted: One of the two terminals that liquefied natural gas and shipped it to southern Europe has been shuttered since 2012; the other is wheezing, starved of gas for export by voracious demand at home.
In a sign of just how quickly Egypt’s once-advantageous position has changed, there are reportedly talks underway to import gas from Israel — less than two years after Cairo shut off exports headed there. The abrupt reversal is a result of unsustainable economic policies, such as generously subsidized fuel prices at home that spur unbridled growth in gas consumption. And it’s one big cause for concern about Sisi’s ability to tackle the country’s economic challenges.
Egypt has a new prime minister—and he is, of all people, the housing minister. Interim president Adly Mansour today asked 65-year-old Ibrahim Mehlib, a former construction magnate and Hosni Mubarak ally, to form a government in the wake of the mass resignation of the previous government. Minutes after the official announcement, Mehlib told reporters that his cabinet members will be “holy warriors” in the service of Egyptians, fighting “day and night” to improve living standards, combat terrorism, and ensure new elections go smoothly. He says he will form his cabinet within three days.
Installing a new government, weeks ahead of the vote, appears to be paving the way for outgoing Defense Minister Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the army’s overthrow of Morsi, to run for the presidency. A government official says el-Sissi will be part of the new cabinet. El-Sissi must leave the military and take off his uniform if he is to run for president. A cult of personality has grown around him, and most observers expect he would sweep the vote if he runs.
- Egypt’s Military Resigns, Awaits Inevitable ‘Election’ to Continue US-Backed Dictatorship
- Egypt, Russia pledge close bilateral relations
- Putin backs Sisi to be president of Egypt
- In rare interview, Mubarak says Egyptians want al-Sissi
- El Sisi’s past may serve him well for future Egypt-US ties
- Popular wave could lift Egypt army chief to office
- Egypt army backs Sisi as presidential candidate
- Egypt Junta to Hold Early Presidential Vote
- Saudi Arabia to give Egypt up to $4bn more aid
- Influential cleric urges Saudis to stop backing Egypt’s dominant military
- Robert Fisk: If only Tony Blair could grasp the truth about Field Marshal Sisi
Move over, Peter O’ Toole. It’s Charles of Arabia time. Prince Charles switched to Lawrence mode when he went schmoozing and dancing in Riyadh this past Tuesday with the natives. And just like clockwork, the next day BAE Systems – Europe’s number one weapons peddler – announced that the UK and the House of Saud had agreed on “new pricing” for an extremely juicy deal; 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jets.
The Eurofighter is a direct competitor of the spectacularly unsalable French Rafale and the very expensive American F-35s and F-16s. The Associated Press duly included in its dispatch – reproduced by virtually every newspaper around the world – the Washington-enforced meme “Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries are fortifying their military capabilities to counter a perceived threat from regional rivals, particularly Iran.” As if Tehran was going to bomb the House of Saud tomorrow.
The Eurofighter, on the other hand, has already been employed against fellow Arabs – as in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s humanitarian bombing of Libya back to failed-state status. It’s open to debate whether the House of Saud might be tempted to employ it against the enemy within: aspiring Saudi women drivers.
Brandishing the official excuse that near-nonagenarian King Abdullah was not able to receive him, Charles of Arabia declined to discuss with the House of Saud the absolutely appalling women’s rights, migrant workers’ rights and for that matter the full human rights situation in the kingdom. Of course not; this is only brought up when demonizing Russia, China and/or Iran.
The former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan said Friday the U.S. military should start scripting the end of wars before generals plan an invasion. ”We have plans that we write that have various phases to them. We have the escalation phase, then decisive operations — which we do very well,” said retired Marine Gen. John Allen. But after the combat phase, he said, there must be stability.
“The solution to the conflict, if you will, the war-winning mechanism, for a campaign like [Afghanistan], isn’t the military outcome,” Allen told a gathering Friday at The Stimson Center in Washington, DC. “The war-winning mechanism is how you posture in the post-conflict period the development of the indigenous capacity to govern.”
“You don’t just break things and leave,” he said. “You have to envision phase four [governing], and I would contend that if you’re writing a war plan, perhaps the thing you write first is phase four, because we’re going to deliver ourselves to a point where we, ultimately, have to account for the outcome of hostilities and the outcome of decisive operations.
On Friday, Feb 14, 92 prisoners escaped from their prison in the Libyan town of Zliten. 19 of them were eventually recaptured, two of whom were wounded in clashes with the guards. It was just another daily episode highlighting the utter chaos which has engulfed Libya since the overthrow of Muammar Ghaddafi in 2011.
Much of this is often reported with cliché explanations as in the country’s ‘security vacuum’, or Libya’s lack of a true national identity. Indeed, tribe and region seem to supersede any other affiliation, but it is hardly that simple.
On that same Friday, Feb 14, Maj. Gen. Khalifa Hifter announced a coup in Libya. “The national command of the Libyan Army is declaring a movement for a new road map” (to rescue the country), Hifter declared through a video post. Oddly enough, little followed by way of a major military deployment in any part of the country. The country’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan described the attempted coup as “ridiculous”.
Others in the military called it a “lie.” One of those who attended a meeting with Hifter prior to the announcement told Al Jazeera that they simply attempted to enforce the national agenda of bringing order, not staging a coup.
- Edward S. Herman: NATO’s war on Libya
- Obama Order: Libya an ‘Extraordinary Threat’ to US Foreign Policy
- Is General Khalifa Hifter The CIA’s Man In Libya?
- Libyan PM announces ‘compromise’ after militia ultimatum
- Militias’ ultimatum heightens Libya tensions
- Disillusionment in Libya Over Vote on Charter Assembly
- Libya to compensate women raped during 2011 uprising
- NOC: Libya’s oil output falls to 390,000 bpd due to protests in west
- Libya MPs ‘agree on early elections’
- Niger extradites ex-Gadhafi official to Libya
- Accountability for US Drone Strikes in Yemen Remains Elusive
- Obama violated his own rules with Yemen drone strike
- Bomb maker still at large after Yemen prison break is sign of al Qaida’s strength
- Yemen president lashes out at ‘below-par’ security services
- Key al-Qaeda Members Escaped in Yemen Prison Break
- Could Yemen’s island of Socotra be the next Guantanamo Bay?
This week Prince Charles flew to Saudi Arabia and danced for its autocratic rulers. The next day Saudi Arabia and arms company BAE Systems announced they had finalised their latest multi-billion pound weapons deal. Charles was in Saudi Arabia at the request of the UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. BAE’s share price was set to fall this week unless agreement could be reached on its latest sales of Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, so the UK government sent in the royals to seal the deal. As a Buckingham Palace spokesperson has said “Middle East potentates like meeting princes.”
Human rights organisations had highlighted Saudi Arabia’s appalling record on human rights and urged Charles to use his visit to promote reform. Instead he has sent a clear signal of support for repression. This is just the latest instalment in a shameful record of UK governments pulling out all the stops to help secure BAE’s weapons deals ‐ and of the royal family helping.
Prince Charles last visited Saudi Arabia only 11 months ago: the trip was explicitly requested by the UK government to help ‘enhance military links’. Just last month, Prince Andrew was promoting BAE’s jets to Saudi ally Bahrain – despite its own ongoing crackdown. The royal family claim to be apolitical – but these are not apolitical actions. They are political actions which put the interests of private weapons companies before human rights – and they are a shameful international representation of the UK.
Please add your voice to our petition to the Foreign Office and Buckingham Palace to say that the royal family should not be promoting arms sales. The media are reporting Charles’ ‘sword dance’ with glee, but very few outlets are focusing on the wider message he is sending. This morning, campaigners were threatened with arrest for unveiling a banner at Buckingham Palace to expose the royal family’s support for arms sales and human rights abuse. This message shouldn’t be hushed up. Please help to expose it!
A former U.S. Army soldier sentenced to life in prison for the 2006 rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and killing of her parents and sister, was found hanged in his cell, The Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday, citing prison officials. The death on Saturday of Steven Dale Green, 28, at the United States Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona, was being investigated as a suicide, the paper said. Green had been found hanging in his cell last week, according to the Times report. A spokesman at the federal maximum-security prison could not immediately be reached on Tuesday afternoon to confirm the report.
Green was convicted in 2009 of the rape and murder of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and the shooting deaths of her father, mother and 6-year-old sister in Mahmudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after a federal jury in Kentucky could not decide whether he should be executed. During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Green as the ringleader of a gang of five soldiers that plotted to invade the home of the family of four to rape the girl, and later bragged about the crime.
Since the beginning of this terrible conflict in Syria, I have been closely listening to people’s reactions to the violence and devastation occurring there. What is astonishing is how quickly Syria transformed from a place of relative obscurity to a topic of constant discussion among so many. Even more astonishing, the solutions often offered to stem the violence prove that westerners have simply learned nothing from the lessons of history. These “solutions” tend to follow the same, tired formulae of a colonial mindset that helped put the Levant in this mess in the first place.
Some of the most passionate calls for “humanitarian” intervention and instant, western-led regime change have come from people who, ironically, are still disillusioned by the disastrous Bush Administration lies that led the United States into the heinous Iraq invasion of 2003. Nevertheless, of all the “solutions” that I hear bandied about by those who truly believe they are in the know concerning these grave geopolitical issues, the most idiotic and truly outdated is balkanization, or as I like to call it in the context of Syria, Sykes-Picot II.