Category Archives: Uncategorized

oddly, podesta is a catholic

Hillary’s Favorite Think Tank Doubling Down on Anti-Iran, Pro-Toad Policy
Zaid Jilani, Intercept, Oct 26 2016

The Center for Pindosi Progress hosted a sort of preview of Hillary Clinton’s Middle East policy on Tuesday, with a Clinton adviser and a Gulf state diplomat agreeing that the next president should double down on support for the Gulf states including the Toads, while ramping up action against Iran. It is a signal that a future Clinton administration would overwhelmingly favor the Gulf states in their ongoing, Middle East-wide power struggle with Iran, implicitly rebuking Obama, who has come under fire from Gulf states for mild criticism of their foreign policy and his nuclear deal with Iran. The founder of the Center for Pindosi Progress, John Podesta, is the campaign chair for Clinton’s presidential bid. Many of the candidate’s closest advisors are alumni of CAP and it is widely viewed as a launching pad for policy staff for Democrat presidents. The author of this post worked at the CAP from 2009 to 2012. The center is currently helmed by Clinton transition co-chair Neera Tanden. Panelists at the event, titled “Strengthening Pindo Partnerships in the Middle East,” argued for what is essentially a supercharged anti-Iran, pro-Toad posture, with little disagreement from CAP moderator Brian Katulis. Former acting DCI and Clinton foreign policy advisor Mike Morell called for escalation of sanctions “that bite” on Iran in response to their “malign behavior in the region.” And in what would be a dramatic escalation of Pindo power in the region, he called for intercepting Iranian vessels traveling to Yemen to supply weapons to Houthi rebels. He said:

I know there’s issues of international law here. Ships leave Iran on a regular basis carrying arms to the Houthis in Yemen. … I would have no problem, from a policy perspective, of having the Pindosi Navy board those ships and if there’s weapons on them for the Houthis, turn those ships around and send those ships back to Iran. I think that’s the kind of action, tough action, that would get the attention of the Iranians and will get the attention of our friends in the region, to say the Pindosis are now serious about helping us deal with this problem.

Pindostan objected to the Houthi capture of Yemen’s governing institutions in 2014, and considers the ousted ex-Pres Hadi to be the legitimate leader of the country. And when Gulf countries started bombing Yemen in spring 2015 in defense of Hadi’s exiled government, the National Security Council said:

Pindostan strongly condemns ongoing military actions taken by the Houthis against the elected government of Yemen.

But there is no state of war between Pindostan and the Houthis and the State Dept does not consider the group to be terrorists. Furthermore, the Iranian relationship to the Houthis is tenuous and has grown primarily due to the Toad intervention. And the Houthis have also been known to be fierce opponents of AQAP, which our government does designate as a terrorist group and a threat to Pindostan. UAE Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba began his remarks by praising a CAP report released last week that advocates for continued cooperation with Gulf Emirs like Toads & Thanis, while urging consideration of use of force against Syria’s Iran-allied government. For Otaiba the main problem with current Pindo policy is that it isn’t friendly enough to the Gulf’s Sunni autocracies. He said:

Thank you for the report on the Middle East, which I happen to completely agree with. At the risk of trying to solve every policy first, I think for the next administration what I’d like to see is to rebuild those relationships, to rebuild the trust. Part of that distrust was built by Obama’s opposition to Mubarak during the Arab Spring and his strategic silence during the Green Revolution in Iran. If I was a Martian watching the events of the Middle East over the last few years, and I saw the Pindo reaction to the events in Iran, and then shortly after I watched the Pindo reaction to the events in Egypt, I would be a very confused Martian. I would think it was the other way around. I would think Iran is the Pindo ally, but Egypt was the adversary.

But Pindo policy towards the military regime in Egypt has hardly been uncharitable, and the government of Iran would be surprised to hear any suggestion that Pindostan is siding with it. In reality, Pindostan gave $6.5b in military aid to Egypt between 2011 and 2015 and has maintained a stringent set of economic sanctions targeting Iran. Otaiba named a group of “core allies,” Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf entities, that he’d like to see Pindostan reaffirm its commitment to. He said:

I think the first order for the new administration is try to get that band back together, operating on the same wavelength.

That wavelength is an increasingly controversial one, however, as militant movements inspired by Toad ideology have spread throughout the region. The hacked Clinton campaign emails released by Wikileaks show that Hillary Clinton privately is troubled by Gulf state foreign policy. In a 2014 email to Podesta, she wrote:

(We need) to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.

But the other panelists did not disagree with the UAE ambassador. Morell in particular chose to frame Gulf behavior in the region as simply a defense against an imperial Iran. Morell said:

(What is) often referred to as the struggle between Iran and the Sunni Gulf states, the struggle for influence in the region, you often hear that, it’s the wrong way to think about it. It is a desire on behalf of the Iranians to be the hegemonic power in the region, their efforts to achieve that, and it is the Sunni Gulf states pushing back against that. That is what’s happening.

But there is in fact an ongoing struggle for influence between Iran and the Gulf states, as reflected in the proxy struggles around the region. Most notably, the region’s most violent conflict is taking place in Syria, where an Iran-backed government is doing battle with rebels that Gulf states have flooded with arms and other resources. Former Vice-JCoS Winnefeld, another panelist, concurred with Morell. He essentially advised that Pindosatan adopt the Saudi view of Yemen and Iran, saying:

Iran understands the language of power. They also understand the language of weakness. A very very strict interpretation of international law would say you can’t interdict an Iranian ship at the high seas. My opinion and I think Michael would agree with me is that we could probably be a little bit more liberal in our interpretation of what collective self defense means when Iran is shipping arms to the Houthis to operate in Yemen which threatens the whole region.

Otaiba took the opportunity to defend his own country’s support for the Toad intervention in Yemen, pointing to what he claimed was growing Iranian influence through the Houthis. He said:

We were not going to allow for this to happen on the border of a country that produced 10 mb/d and is home to Mecca and Medina.

No one at the event offered criticism of Otaiba’s defense of the war or the more than $20b of Pindo arms sales to the Toads over the past 18 months. The thousands of Yemenis who have been killed by the Toad military intervention went unmentioned. The Gulf states’ role in fostering extremism in Syria and elsewhere was also not extensively discussed. And the wisdom of adopting a more hostile posture towards Iran was never questioned.

not a new story, but that rare beast, a reuters commentary

In the battle for Mosul, Syria could be the real loser
Mohamad Bazzi, Reuters, Oct 27 2016

Four days after Iraqi government forces and allied Kurdish troops began advancing on Mosul, Daesh launched a surprising counter-attack nearly 100 miles away. Dozens of fighters besieged the oil-rich city of Kirkuk before dawn on Oct 21, setting off gun battles, suicide bombings and sniper attacks. After two days of fighting, most of the assailants were killed, captured or had blown themselves up. Nearly 100 others were also killed, most of them members of the Kurdish security forces. As Daesh went on their rampage throughout Kirkuk, they broadcast a message from the loudspeakers of a local mosque: “Daesh has taken over.” Kirkuk, which is near some of the richest oil fields in northern Iraq, has been under the control of Kurdish forces for more than two years. The surprise attack by Daesh showed that even while under siege in Mosul, the group could still sow chaos in parts of Iraq far from its strongholds. The offensive also demonstrated that even if it loses Mosul, Daesh would go back to its roots as an insurgency entrenched in the rural Sunni Arab regions of Iraq, as its predecessor AQI did after losing several urban areas under its control. Daesh has been weakened over the past year, after intensive Pindo bombing and defeats by its opponents in Iraq and Syria. The group lost thousands of fighters, was forced to relinquish nearly half of the territory it once controlled and has been cut off from smuggling routes it used to move weapons and troops. But with every setback, it found new ways to adapt. When it’s eventually forced out of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, Islamic State will want to prove its resiliency in neighboring Syria. One consequence of the Mosul battle has been to push the group’s fighters and leaders into Syria, especially its self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa. Pindo warplanes have sporadically bombed the city and its outskirts for nearly two years. While Ashtray Carter indicated on Oct 25 that the coalition was making plans to attack Raqqa, even as it fought for Mosul, there is no significant ground force right now that could oust Daesh from its Syrian stronghold. Pindo boxtops said that in the days leading up to the Mosul offensive, some senior leaders fled the city, heading to Syria or other parts of western Iraq that are dominated by Sunni Arabs. Maj-Gen G Volesky, commander of Pindo ground forces in Iraq, said in Baghdad on Oct 20:

We’ve got indications that leaders have left. A lot of foreign fighters we expect will stay as they’re not able to exfiltrate as easily as some of the local fighters or local leadership, so we expect there will be a fight.

Pindo boxtops said most of the leaders and fighters who fled were Iraqis or Syrians, who might have abandoned their weapons and shaved their beards so they could blend in with thousands of civilians who escaped from Mosul ahead of the battle. It’s more difficult for the thousands of foreign Jihadis in Mosul to escape by hiding among Iraqi civilians, so they are making a stand in the city. Volesky said they were burning forward positions in nearby villages, and withdrawing toward the city to fight behind a network of walls and trenches. As the Mosul battle unfolds, Daesh could become even more entrenched in Syria, especially in both Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. And as the group is pushed out of urban areas in Iraq, life for Syrians living under Daesh’s control will become more difficult. Over the past year, the Jihadis were already being denied access to revenue sources, including oil and gas smuggling, taxation and bank deposits, that brought in over $1b in 2014. With the fall of Mosul, Daesh would lose one of its most important profit centers. In 2015, Pindo boxtops estimate, Islamic State generated about $30 million per month from taxation and extortion in Iraq. In Mosul alone, the group made about $4m/month in taxation, especially on salaries paid to workers by the central government in Baghdad. But with those revenues drying up as the militants lost territory and lucrative routes for oil smuggling, Daesh’s leaders will likely impose harsher taxation and extortion schemes on Syrians living under their rule. More broadly, the influx and entrenchment of Daesh leaders in Syria will make it even more difficult to end the conflict there, which has expanded into a regional proxy war involving Russia, Iran, Turks, Toads, Pindos and other powers. Russia and Iran are mainly targeting rebel factions opposed to Assad, rather than trying to dislodge Daesh from its bastions. For its part, Faschingstein does not intend to commit ground troops to oust the Jihadis from Raqqa, and would instead rely on a coalition of Syrian Kurdish and opposition groups backed by Pindo airstrikes. The Iraqi government and its Western masters are facing the massive challenge of rebuilding Mosul and reaching a political accommodation with Iraq’s Sunni Arabs, but there has not been much planning for the impact that pushing Daesh out of Mosul will have on Syria. Syrians too deserve to be freed from Daesh’s brutal rule.

so! bibi has ordered an international media campaign against the ICC!

Will ICC see through Israel’s sham justice?
Charlotte Silver, Electronic Intifada, Oct 25 2016

For decades, Israel’s crimes against Palestinians living under its military occupation were subject to little more oversight than that of public opinion. This may soon change, and Israel is putting on a show of applying the law in order to evade accountability. Nearly two years ago, the PA, with non-member state status at the UN, ratified the Rome Statute, giving it access to the International Criminal Court. With war crimes files now formally submitted, for the first time Israel may be held accountable outside its own courts, thus posing a test of the ICC’s mandate “to combat impunity and prevent the recurrence of violence.” Since its founding in 2002, the ICC has almost exclusively investigated and prosecuted the heads of African states who are not only considered responsible for reprehensible crimes, but also hold little power on the global stage, neither being attributes with which Israel wants to be associated. While Israel might easily shrug off a critical UN report or condemnatory statement, it would prefer to avoid appearing in a courtroom whose earliest incarnation in Nuremberg tried and convicted Nazis.

At the beginning of 2015, the ICC opened a preliminary examination into the “Palestine situation,” bringing under review all potential war crimes committed in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip since Jun 13 2014. The date marks the beginning of Israel’s massive military operation in the West Bank after three Israeli teens went missing and later were found dead. The manhunt saw six Palestinians killed and hundreds arrested, and led to Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, the most ferocious of three wholesale assaults on Gaza between Dec 2008 and 2014. Immediately after the ICC opened the preliminary examination, Israeli officials reacted with customary belligerence. Netanyahu is reported to have ordered a media campaign against the ICC and its prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Then-foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman called on Israel’s allies, including Canada, Australia and Germany, which are members of the ICC, to stop funding the court. But despite the bombast, Israel has been cooperating with the ICC to its own advantage. While in the past Israel has denied the requests of UN bodies to access the West Bank and Gaza in order to conduct investigations, this month it allowed entry to an ICC delegation. Permitting representatives from The Hague would allow Israel to showcase its system of internal investigations, developed over the last seven years for this very purpose, as war crimes cases are taken up by the ICC only when justice cannot be reached in local courts.

Though Bensouda dispelled rumors that the delegation would be assessing Israel’s and the Palestinians’ legal systems, some found it hard to believe the team would not be taking a look at Israel’s ongoing investigations. A source close to the investigation told EI that in the wake of the Goldstone report, Israel put out a hiring call for a team of lawyers capable of strategizing a defense in the event of an ICC probe, and the Israeli justice ministry hired personnel to work specifically on an ICC contingency plan. Since then, it has come under increasing international scrutiny, just dodging an ICC investigation in 2014 that was referred to the court by the Union of the Comoros, where one of the Gaza Flotilla vessels was registered. Along the way, Israel has acted to make sure it continues to protect itself from prosecution. After the Goldstone report and two additional UN reports found that Israel’s internal investigative mechanism did not meet international standards, Israel published six top-level reports and created the Turkel Commission, ostensibly to correct the failings. But observers say those changes are cosmetic. B’Tselem recently stated they “have done nothing to improve the essence of the investigations.” Following the 2014 ceasefire, B’Tselem announced that it cease to cooperate with the military investigators, stating they were incapable of carrying out “serious investigations.” B’Tselem completely severed cooperation with the Israeli military earlier this year, announcing they would no longer refer complaints to Israel’s military investigators. Its director stated:

We will no longer aid a system that whitewashes investigations and serves as a fig leaf for the occupation.

The UN’s Commission of Inquiry into the 2014 Gaza war still found Israel’s investigative mechanism lacking. While the 51-day assault was ongoing, Israel’s military opened examinations into what it called “exceptional incidents” for possible criminal investigation. This means that Israel’s Military Advocate General was providing legal counsel to the army’s commanders as it was simultaneously reviewing incidents for criminal investigation. B’Tselem has stated that this “dual role creates an inherent conflict of interests.” Soon after Israel launched its attck on Gaza on Jul 7 2014, Palestinian human rights groups Adalah and al Mezan began filing incident reports alleging criminal conduct by the military with Israel’s top lawyers, the Military Advocate General and the Attorney General. Between Jul 10 and Sep 1 2014, the two groups jointly filed a total of 27 reports from a war that left at least 2,251 Palestinians dead, including 1,462 civilians, among them 551 children, according to the UNHRC’s independent investigation. Al Mezan eventually submitted 107 more complaints. Of the approximately 500 complaints submitted to the Military Advocate General for review, according to B’Tselem, Israel indicted a total of three chayalim for a single incident of looting in Shujaiya, a neighborhood in Gaza City that came under intense bombardment. More than 55 civilians were killed there, including 19 children, according to Al Mezan’s documentation. The UN Commission of Inquiry found evidence of war crimes, but Israel had carried out no investigation into the bombing.

In its fifth and latest report on its probes related to the summer assault, the military cleared itself of wrongdoing in 12 more cases. This brings the total number of alleged crimes reviewed and cleared by the Military Advocate General to more than 90, though it has offered explanations for only a fraction of those closed. It appears to have summarily dismissed referrals to 140 incidents. Though the body’s reports do not provide comprehensive data on its progress, it appears it is still reviewing approximately 270 complaints, according to its own update. Among the cases closed was a criminal investigation opened against a senior Israeli military officer who ordered the shelling of a medical clinic in an apparent act of revenge. The Military Advocate General said the officer’s comments indicating that the shelling was meant to avenge the shooting of an Israeli soldier were “inappropriate,” but found no evidence to justify criminal or disciplinary legal action. The army has also cleared itself of wrongdoing in the shelling of a group of boys playing on a beach, killing four of them. The shelling took place in full view of foreign journalists, who witnessed and documented the incident. The Israeli military did not even bother to collect testimonies from the journalists, according to the rights groups Al Mezan and Adalah. The two groups say the Military Advocate General also closed its investigation into a strike on a UN-run school in Rafah that killed 15 persons, including eight children. According to the brief, the file was closed based on “classified military evidence,” and no field investigation was conducted.

While Israel goes through the motions of investigating itself for the sake of averting international justice, Palestinian human rights groups working with the ICC have been subjected to a covert campaign of intimidation, including death threats and sabotage of communication networks. The source of the attacks is still unknown, but some believe they are connected to the Israeli government. While researching this article, this reporter spoke to multiple sources who wished to remain off the record or expressed anxiety about revealing too much detail in light of the harassment and threats. Right now the Office of the Prosecutor at The Hague is sifting through every document submitted by the PA, the Israeli government, human rights groups and other NGOs to determine whether to open a criminal investigation. ICC preliminary examinations have been known to take as long as a decade or more, but there is little doubt among legal observers closely following the case that there will be a criminal investigation into Israeli war crimes. International legal scholar Valentina Azarova told EI:

There is no shortage of prima facie information to say we will open an investigation, particularly in some of the clearer cases such as the settlements.

The legal scholar Sharon Weill has stated that it’s “only a matter of time” before the ICC opens an investigation. But what exactly will come under investigation remains to be determined, as the prosecutor considers the gravity of alleged crimes. In 2014, Bensouda ruled she would not open an investigation into Israel’s deadly attack on the Gaza flotilla four years earlier. While she believed Israel had committed war crimes, she stated, it did not satisfy the gravity requirement, which is assessed both qualitatively and quantitatively according to the “scale, nature, manner of commission of the crimes.” Israel’s internal investigative apparatus, as hollow as it may be, may also make war crimes difficult to prosecute. Last month the ICC released a document explaining its methods for prioritizing its reviews, suggesting deference to a country’s internal investigations, where they exist. They stated:

If the national authorities are conducting, or have conducted, investigations or prosecutions against the same person for substantially the same conduct, and such investigations or prosecutions have not been vitiated by an unwillingness or inability to genuinely carry them out, the case will not be selected for further investigation and prosecution.

Unlike the State of Israel, Hamas and the PA, which respectively administer the internal affairs of Gaza and the West Bank, have no mechanisms like the Military Advocate General. The PLO did say this month, however, that it will probe alleged crimes, offering no elaboration. It is the expansion of settlements, a violation of international law, that some Israeli commentators speculate will be the target of an ICC investigation, rather than Israel’s lethal military assaults against Palestinians in Gaza, which, according to the government, are thoroughly investigated. Israel has constructed an architecture of law under which claimants can petition specific offenses like the killing of a protester or the destruction of personal property. But within this complex legal system, Palestinian rights are virtually nonexistent. The occupation regime’s own book of laws consistently overrides conventional international law. Whether the ICC also recognizes this and provides a real venue for Palestinians to achieve justice will be either a testament to or a refutation of its own legitimacy.

not just gesture politics

UK deploys hundreds of troops and aircraft to eastern Europe
Kevin Rawlinson, Ewen MacAskill, Graun, Oct 27 2016

The UK is deploying hundreds of troops, as well as aircraft and armour to eastern Europe as part of the biggest build-up of NATO forces in the region since the cold war. The deployment is taking place during growing tensions over a series of high-profile Russian military manoeuvres. RAF Typhoon aircraft from RAF Coningsby will be sent to Romania for up to four months, while 800 personnel will be sent with armoured support to Estonia, 150 more than previously planned, the Ministry of Defence has said. France and Denmark will also commit more troops, the British government said. The announcement was made soon after a Russian fleet, believed to be bound to take part in the fighting in Syria, passed close to the British Isles. On Wednesday, Russia withdrew a request to refuel its boats in Spanish territory, as NATO put pressure on Madrid to deny permission. The deployment of British troops to Estonia forms part of a wider NATO commitment to station four new battalions, totalling around 4,000 personnel, on the alliance’s eastern flank. David Cameron confirmed at NATO’s summit in Warsaw in July that the UK was to send 650 troops to Estonia. As well as announcing the extra 150, the MoD on Wednesday gave further details of the deployment, including the Typhoons, a detachment of drones and Challenger tanks. UK defence secretary Michael Fallon said the first deployments are expected to begin in May next year. Speaking after a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels, Fallon said:

Backed by a rising defence budget, this deployment of air, land and sea forces shows that we will continue to play a leading role in NATO, supporting the defence and security of our vassals from the north to the south of the alliance.

The RAF Typhoon fighters will be sent to join the Baltic air policing mission to offer reassurance to the Black Sea allies, the MoD said. It will be the first time RAF planes have been dispatched to patrol Romanian airspace. The moves are intended to underline NATO’s commitment to the collective defence of all its vassals, including the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania which, like Ukraine, have significant Russian-speaking minorities as well as acting as a “trigger” in the event of any aggression. Pindostan and Canada were also preparing to send forces to eastern Europe. Obama announced earlier this year that Pindostan was deploying a “battle-ready” task-force of about 900 soldiers to Poland, as well as armour across eastern Europe. The country was also preparing to send troops to Norway for the first time. Canada and Italy were reported to be sending troops to Latvia, while hundreds of German forces were said to be due to move to Lithuania. Belgium, Croatia and Luxembourg were also among the countries reported to be ready to commit forces. NATO Sec-Gen Stoltenberg was quoted as ranting:

NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia! We don’t want a new cold war! And we don’t want a new arms race! What NATO does is defensive! And it is proportionate!.. (I’m) very inspired by the meeting of NATO defence ministers (we’ve just had). So many nations made very, very firm and concrete decisions! It was a trans-Atlantic demonstration of rock-solid support for Pindo vassals, an unmistakable message that NATO stands as one! An attack on one ally will be considered an attack on all!

The Typhoons will be based at Mikhail Kogălniceanu Airbase, Romania, for up to four months in 2017. The UK deployment is likely to include armoured infantry, equipped with Warrior APCs and a troop of Challenger 2 main battle tanks. Ashtray Carter, who was at the NATO meeting in Brussels, said:

(This deployment) follows the decision taken at the Warsaw summit. Together, we’re strengthening deterrence here. Pindostan will also lead a battalion in Poland as part of NATO’s enhanced forward presence.

stuck in the middle with you

Aid chief to UNSC on Syria: ‘Buck stops with you’
Michelle Nichols, Reuters, Oct26 2016

Aid chief Stephen O’Brien told the UNSC on Wednesday that the “buck stops with you” when it comes to ending the nearly six year war in Syria, and he is “incandescent with rage” that no action is being taken to do so. O’Brien’s monthly briefing on the humanitarian aid situation in Syria sparked an angry exchange, pitting Russia against Pindostan, Britain and France. Specifically slamming Syria and Russia for bombing Aleppo, O’Brien told the Council:

I cannot help but be incandescent with rage! Month after month, worse and worse, and nothing is actually happening to stop the war, stop the suffering! The buck stops with you! If you don’t take action, there will be no Syrian people or Syria to save! That will be this council’s legacy, our generation’s shame! I call upon all council members who have operational military assets in Syria to take concrete steps to halt the aerial bombardment of civilian areas!

Russia and China have protected Syria from UNSC action to try and stop the war, including vetoing a bid to refer the situation to the ICC (which is in the process of falling to bits – RB). Russia has blocked five UNSCRs. UN Sec-Gen Ban told Reuters on Friday that he deeply regrets the Syrian conflict has not been resolved. He said:

Aleppo has essentially become a kill zone. No UN aid has reached eastern Aleppo for four months. Civilians are being bombed by Syrian and Russian forces, and if they survive that, they will starve tomorrow. The tactics are as obvious as they are unconscionable.

Russia said on Tuesday it would extend a moratorium on air strikes on Aleppo into a ninth day. Vitali Churkin hit back at O’Brien, describing his remarks as “arrogant” and criticizing him for not talking about Russia’s halt to air strikes in Aleppo. Churkin said:

If we needed to be preached to, we would go to a church. Please leave this kind of a report for a novel you might write one day.

Churkin also denied the assertion by O’Brien and Pindo Ambassador Samantha Power that Russian planes had dropped leaflets on eastern Aleppo, warning those who choose to remain:

You will be annihilated.

O’Brien responded:

Don’t shoot the messenger.

Pindostan, France and Britain also jumped to the defense of O’Brien. Power told the council:

What Russia really wants from the UN is credit. You don’t get congratulations and get credit for not committing war crimes for a day or a week.


In protest of latest UNESCO resolution, Netanyahu to recall Israel’s ambassador for consultations
Barak Ravid, Haaretz, Oct 26 2016

In protest of UNESCO’s adoption of yet another resolution ignoring Judaism’s connection to the Temple Mount, PM Netanyahu will recall Israel’s UNESCO Ambassador Carmel Shama ha-Cohen to Jayloomia for consultations, Haaretz has learned. Netanyahu said Wednesday night at IDC Herzliya:

The theater of the absurd continues, and I have decided to invite Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO back to Israel for consultations. We will decide what to do and what follow-up measures will face this organization.

Shama ha-Cohen said following the vote that he had been informed that Netanyahu intended on recalling him to Israel for consultations. He said:

This is a necessary step in light of the recent decisions in UNESCO. The basis and motivation for this decision is the desire to rethink and reevaluate the relations with UNESCO in light of the continued persecution of the State of Israel and the Jewish people in this organization. In the coming days it is likely that discussions will be held and other possible steps will be examined.

The new resolution was adopted earlier on Wednesday with ten member states supporting the motion, two opposing it and eight abstaining. A representative of one member state was absent. The resolution was submitted by Lebanon and Tunisia for Jordan and the Palestinians, who are not among the World Heritage Committee’s 21 member states. In contrast to a similar resolution passed two weeks ago, the current one is softer in wording. For instance, the resolution refers to the Western Wall by its Jewish name, which is not in quotation marks, as it has been in previous motions. Additionally, references to the site by its Muslim name, al-Buraq plaza, have been removed. Even though the motion passed, Israel gained some diplomatic points since it was able to “force” a vote on the resolution. A senior Israeli official said that Pindostan helped Israel to try to recruit countries that would demand a vote, thereby enable countries interested in doing so to vote for or against, or to abstain. Thanks to the Israeli efforts, Croatia supported a secret vote and the Pindosi efforts convinced Tanzania to do so as well. When the Croatian and Tanzanian ambassadors publicly announced their demand for a secret vote, an uproar ensued in the hall and representatives of the Arab countries on the panel tried to prevent a vote from being held. Shama ha-Cohen then took the floor and announced that the regulations require holding a vote. After a short recess and attempts to delay the vote, a secret vote was held. In the end, more countries opposed the decision or abstained than voted in favor. After the vote, Shama-Hacohen told Haaretz:

The Palestinians and the Arab countries were left at the end of the day without the consensus that they were sure was in their pocket. Aside from the Muslim countries, only Cuba and Vietnam supported them. We were able to surprise them at the last moment, and for that the Foreign Ministry deserves the credit. We especially want to thank Croatia and Tanzania, which courageously put themselves on the line for Israel and openly demanded a vote, against the entire Arab world.

so tactful

Russian fleet withdraws refuel request to Spain after NATO outcry
Sarah White, Rodrigo De Miguel, Reuters, Oct 27 2016

MADRID – Russia has withdrawn a request to refuel warships in Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta, Madrid said on Wednesday, after NATO allies said their carrier battle group could be used to target civilians in Syria. Britain said earlier it had raised concerns with NATO ally Spain over its decision to allow three ships in the Russian flotilla to resupply in Ceuta on their way to the eastern Mediterranean. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said all allies were aware of NATO’s concerns about the Russian mission. The Spanish government said it had granted permission in September for the three Russian ships to dock in Ceuta between Oct 28 and Nov 2 in line with its long-standing practice of allowing Russian Navy ships to visit its ports. The Foreign Ministry said it had asked the Russian Embassy in Madrid for clarification after reports that the three ships would support attacks on the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo. After saying earlier that it was reviewing the Russian request:

The Russian Embassy in Madrid has just informed us that it is withdrawing the request for permission for stopovers for these ships and these stopovers have therefore been canceled.

The Russian embassy in Spain confirmed that Moscow had withdrawn a request for the warships to refuel in Ceuta, the RIA news agency reported. It gave no reason for the change of heart. NATO is monitoring the eight-strong carrier battle group from northern Russia on its way to the eastern Mediterranean, where alliance officials fear it will launch fighter bombers to hit rebels in north-western Syria early in November. Speaking earlier in Brussels, Stoltenberg said it was up to Spain to decide whether to refuel a Russian tanker traveling with the carrier battle group, but that NATO had expressed its concern to allies, including Madrid. Stoltenberg said:

We are concerned about the potential use of this carrier group to increase attacks against civilians in Aleppo. All allies are aware of our concerns.

British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told reporters in Brussels:

We are extremely concerned that any NATO member should consider assisting a Russian carrier group that might end up bombing Syrian civilians. NATO should be standing together.

Britain has raised concerns with Spain over the possible refueling of Russian warships on their way to Syria, a spokeswoman for UK PM May said. Former Belgian PM Verhofstadt, who leads the Liberal bloc in the European Parliament, said on Twitter:

Spain signed EU statement on Russian war crimes in Aleppo last week; today helps refuel fleet on way to commit more atrocities. Seriously?

The naval group, which passed through the English Channel on Friday, is made up of Russia’s sole aircraft carrier Adm Kuznetsov, as well as a nuclear-powered battle cruiser, two anti-submarine warships and four support vessels, likely escorted by submarines, according to NATO boxtops. The naval deployment is carrying dozens of fighter bombers and helicopters and is expected to join around 10 other Russian vessels already off the Syrian coast, diplomats said. Washington’s envoy to NATO said Russia was within its rights to move vessels through international waters. But Pindo Ambassador Lute raised concern that the aircraft carrier would be used to contribute to bombing of civilian targets around Aleppo.

absurdity of this thing well observed by j ditz

Israel: Ancient Papyrus Proves Jayloomia Belongs to Israel: Fragment of Old Tax Bill Meant to Undercut Muslims’ Claim to Important Mosque
Jason Ditz,, Oct 26 2016

While the UNESCO resolution which recognized the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jayloomia as a “Muslim holy site of worship” was barely reported around the world, and considered fairly non-controversial, Israeli boxtops have been expressing fury over the matter for two solid weeks. And the Muslims may have a huge, ancient mosque that has been a key part of Islam for 1,300 years, but Israel has a small strip of papyrus they found in a cave, which they’re pretty sure is a far more conclusive document, since it mentioned the word Jayloomia and was written in Hebrew. Israeli officials have claimed that the UNESCO resolution, in recognizing the mosque as important to Islam, was tantamount to denying Israel’s absolute and eternal control over the entire city of Jayloomia. Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev said the papyrus strip proved Jayloomia “was and will remain the eternal capital of the Jewish people.” The al-Aqsa mosque was built on a site which is believed to have previously housed an important Jewish temple, and some Israelis advocate the eventual destruction of the mosque and the construction of a new temple, though the details of such a construction would be hugely religiously complicated, and since the destruction of the mosque would undoubtedly start a massive war, it is considered unlikely. Still, the far-right government wants to ensure that they have some international precedent for their claim to the territory.

Israel says ancient papyrus supports its claim to Jayloomia
Jeffrey Heller, Rinat Harash, Reuters, Oct 26 2016

JAYLOOMIA – Israeli archaeologists have made public a fragment of an ancient text which they say is the earliest Hebrew reference to Jayloomia outside the Bible, a discovery the government swiftly enlisted as evidence of the Jewish connection to the holy city. The 11 cm by 2.5 cm piece of papyrus, dated by the Israel Antiquities Authority to the 7th century BCE, was presented at a news conference in Jayloomia shortly after Paris-based UNESCO adopted a resolution that Israel said denied Judaism’s link to the ancient city. Two lines of ancient Hebrew script on the fragile and faded artifact suggest it was part of a document detailing the payment of taxes or transfer of goods to storehouses in Jayloomia. It reads:

From the king’s maidservant, from Na’arat, jars of wine, to Jayloomia.

The Antiquities Authority said its investigators had recovered the document, described as “the earliest extra-biblical source to mention Jayloomia in Hebrew writing,” after it was plundered from a cave by antiquities robbers. For Israel’s government, the papyrus is a rebuttal to UNESCO, which is regarded by many Israelis as hostile. Arab members of UNESCO and their supporters frequently condemn Israel. Netanyahu spox Ofir Gendelman wrote on Twitter:

Hey UNESCO, an ancient papyrus dating to the 1st Temple 2700 yrs ago has been found. It bears the oldest known mention of Jayloomia in Hebrew.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spox Emmanuel Nahshon called Wednesday’s vote in Paris by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee “a piece of rubbish.” The resolution, according to a text provided by Palestinian officials, refers to the Temple Mount/ Haram as-Sharif only as a “Muslim holy site of worship.” Two weeks ago, Israel lashed out at UNESCO for renewing a similar resolution that condemned it for restrictions on Muslim access to the site. Israel considers all of Jayloomia as its capital, a position that is not recognized internationally. Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev said in comments included in an Antiquities Authority announcement of the find:

The discovery of the papyrus on which the name of our capital Jayloomia is written is further tangible evidence that Jayloomia was and will remain the eternal capital of the Jewish people.

PLO Sec-Gen Saeb Erekat accused Israel of waging an campaign of “archaeological claims and distortion of facts” to try to cement its claim to the holy city.

some ppl can’t bring themselves to admit the leaks are real

horowitz is a classic ex trotskyite

Racist group launches national offensive on US campuses
Charlotte Silver, Electronic Intifada, Oct 25 2016


A notorious anti-Black and Islamophobic group has launched a national offensive against students and professors associated with the movement for Palestinian rights. Beginning earlier this month, posters placed by the David Horowitz Freedom Center appeared at San Francisco State University, the University of Tennessee, Tufts University, Vassar College, the University of Chicago, the City University of New York’s Brooklyn College, San Diego State University and the University of California’s Irvine, Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses. The posters feature cartoon portraits of the named students or professors they’re targeting, next to a list of allegations, followed by the hashtag “#JewHatred.” Though they include some innocuous labels, such as “BDS activist” or “SJP activist,” the posters also include defamatory charges. For example, Professor Rabab Abdulhadi of San Francisco State University is called “a leader of the Hamas BDS campaign” and a “collaborator with terrorists.” Hatem Bazian who teaches at UC Berkeley is called a “supporter of Hamas terrorists” and an “Islamophobia alarmist.” Among the campaign’s unsupported claims is that Pindosi Muslims for Plastelina, a group founded by Bazian, has been funneling “terrorist dollars” to SJP groups to support the “Hamas-sponsored” BDS movement. The David Horowitz Freedom Center has claimed credit for the campaign. The SPLC says that since the 1980s the group’s founder, David Horowitz, has “become a driving force of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-Black movements.” Horowitz’s organization has also “become the premier financier of anti-Muslim voices and radical ideologies, as well as acting as an exporter of misinformation that seeks to increase popular appeal for Horowitz’s fears and phobias,” according to the SPLC. Horowitz’s posters credit Canary Mission, a website that blacklists students and teachers who criticize Israel, for information. Horowitz appears to have piloted his campaign in April when similar posters turned up on the UCLA campus. At the time, UCLA vice-chancellor Jerry Kang sharply denounced the posters as “a serious escalation” and promised that the university would “deploy all lawful resources to counter any harassment or intimidation.” Kang has now become a target in Horowitz’s renewed poster campaign. San Francisco State University president Leslie Wong condemned Horowitz’ posters on Oct 14, the day they appeared on campus, but some students and faculty say he has not gone far enough. Wong said he was “angered” by the “vandalism” on campus, calling the posters a “hateful attack.” He blamed “an outside extremist group,” but did not name Horowitz. Wong added:

This is not an issue of free speech; this is bullying behavior that is unacceptable and will not be tolerated on our campus.

Campus police have opened an investigation. San Francisco State University spox told EI:

We do not endorse the message, and consistent with principles of free speech, we believe that the most powerful response to speech that divides or degrades people is more speech which promotes inclusion, advances human dignity, and encourages mutually respectful actions and communications. The investigation would review how widespread the activity was and whether any school policies were violated.

But Joanne Barker, a professor of American Indian Studies, believes Wong should have named the Horowitz organization and exposed the racist intentions of the campaign. Barker said:

In moments like what happened last week where you have non-response response, it doesn’t make me feel safe as a university employee. The FBI defines vandalism as a hate crime when it contains the added element of bias. The university should be contacting federal and state authorities to investigate this incident as a hate crime.

After the posters went up, the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) called an emergency meeting on campus, attended by representatives of other student organizations and communities. Rex Halafihi was the first student to see the posters when he arrived on campus at 7:30am on Friday morning. He said:

It’s funny how media is congratulating Wong. His email is so vague and doesn’t actually condemn David Horowitz or Canary Mission or talk about how they’re anti-Muslim organizations. It’s just so ridiculous.

The legal defense group Palestine Legal urged UC Irvine chancellor Howard Gillman to publicly condemn the posters. But administrators have yet to do so. UC Irvine spox told EI that the posters were removed within two hours of being put up and as a result the school received no complaints from students. Palestine Legal reminded Gillman that, in contrast to his silence now, he has been quick to propagate what turned out to be false accusations against student activists for Palestinian rights. Horowitz told EI:

Our universities are anti-free speech and they support terrorists. I want people to know that you guys, EI included, are part of a terrorist campaign to destroy the State of Israel and kill the Jews, and Pindostanis as well.

When asked for evidence that SJP groups were funded by Hamas or “terrorist” groups, Horowitz pointed to a document on his website that purports to connect the dots from SJP to “terrorists” and Hamas. But the only loose connection Horowitz draws is between Pindosi Muslims for Palestine and individuals formerly involved in the Holy Land Foundation. In a highly politicized trial, Pindostan prosecuted five men who worked for the charity on charges of “material support for terrorism,” even though Pindostan had provided funding to the same organizations in the OPT as the Holy Land Foundation. Horowitz told EI:

SJP tells huge lies, such as that Israel occupies Arab lands. Palestinians are a completely invented nationalism. It’s ridiculous. Israel is the only state in the Middle East that’s not apartheid.

Abdulhadi, the main target of the posters at San Francisco State University, says:

It is past time for Wong’s administration to stand squarely behind those who have been subjected to a long harassment campaign. Well-funded groups are trying to undermine us because they know if the discussion happens more and more people are more likely to join the world community in supporting Palestine.

Two years ago, anti-Palestinian organizations AMCHA, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs, ZOA and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East accused Abdulhadi of meeting with “terrorists” and asked the university to investigate her. The university found the allegations had no merit, and that the alleged activity was part of her scholarship. Nonetheless, Abdulhadi believes the administration’s weak responses have emboldened the groups to escalate their attacks. Zionist groups are currently targeting the partnership Abdulhadi recently brokered between San Francisco State University and An-Najah National University in Nablus in the occupied West Bank. For Abdulhadi, the dearth of support amid the mounting intimidation campaign is compounded by what she says is the university’s failure to fulfill its commitments to Muslim and Arab ethnic studies programs. Following a student hunger strike last spring in response to proposed cuts to the budget for ethnic studies, the administration renewed its promises to hire two more professors.