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Palestinians march in Israel to mark historic displacement

Thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel marched in protest on Thursday as their Jewish compatriots partied, each group in its own way marking the 67th anniversary of the State of Israel's founding.
The anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence on May 14, 1948 is celebrated according to the Jewish calendar, this year falling on April 23.

Palestinians usually mark the day on May 15 by commemorating what they call the Nakba -- or "catastrophe" -- of Israel's creation.

But thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel, many waving Palestinian flags, gathered Thursday in the Galilee for a protest march timed to coincide with the Israeli celebrations.
It centered on the ruins of Al-Haditha, near Tiberias, one of nearly 400 Palestinian villages destroyed in the war that erupted after Israel's founding.

"Our grandfathers who suffered displacement asked us not to sell our land and to return to it and not give up," activist Hammad Abu al-Haija told the crowd.

"Now we tell our children our children and our grandchildren not to do so," he said.
More than 760,000 Palestinians -- estimated today to number 4.7 million with their descendants -- fled into exile or were driven out of their homes in the conflict that followed the creation of Israel.

Palestinian citizens of Israel, who account for just over 20 percent of the population, are treated as second class citizens of Israel and have not historically been represented in the Knesset.

Jews urged to migrate
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the occasion to call on Jews from around the world to move to Israel.
"It is completely clear that this is home," the Israeli leader said during an annual international bible quiz.

"We don't dismiss the obligation of various governments around the world to take care of the security of their Jewish citizens, but we say to the Jews of the world: 'This is home... We are awaiting you with open arms'."

Many Israelis flocked to barbecues and visited national parks and nature reserves in what has become a tradition on the public holiday, despite strong winds and showers in much of the country.
President Reuven Rivlin hosted celebrations for his first time in office at his official residence in Jerusalem, serving a vegetarian-only buffet, his office said.

He reportedly stopped eating meat in the 1960s as a matter of conscience.
Guests watched a flypast of military helicopters and Rivlin, elected in June to a seven-year term, awarded medals of excellence to 120 selected soldiers.

Celebrations began at nightfall on Wednesday with a torch-lit official ceremony at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem and public festivities and firework displays around the country.
Source: Ma'an News

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Sony CEO on Middle East: Let Them All Kill Each Other (Except Israel)

The CEO of Sony called the Middle East a "gigantic mess," and said if it was not for Israel's presence in the region, the United States would "let them all kill each other," according to emails published by WikiLeaks.

The secrets-spilling group last week republished hundreds of thousands of documents and emails from the hack last fall of Sony Pictures Entertainment. The massive collection includes emails CEO Michael Lynton wrote in response to an October 2014 Washington Post article about President Barack Obama's foreign policy in Syria. A relative forwarded Lynton the article with the comment "Brilliant."

"Face it the entire thing is a gigantic mess. And if it were not for Israel, we would let them all kill each other and wait for the dust to settle."

"We don’t need the oil, and I am not sure it is worth the time or effort to try and broker the nations at the edge. It is a dog’s breakfast plain and simple and I am not sure there is any role for America here."

"On reflection," Lynton added, "Israel may be in the catbird seat. Let them all kill each other around the Jewish state and pick up the pieces after they have exhausted themselves."
Lynton's emails also show his active participation in both social and professional events centered on pro-Israel policy.
In August, 2013, he RSVP’d yes to "an intimate salon-style discussion" at the home of Israeli-born American actress Natalie Portman regarding the Israeli conflict. The event was hosted by Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a pro-Israel political group based in the United States.

The next day, Portman sent Lynton an email with links to websites that contain "accurate Israel and world Jewry journalism."

Just a few months later, in February, 2014, Lynton RSVP'd yes to an "intimate dinner" at the home of Israeli producer Arnon Milchan, where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was among the guests.

Lynton also leveraged his connections to exercise political influence and promote his pro-Israel beliefs.

In June 2014, Lynton and Richard Stengel, the State Department Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, discussed a joint Washington-Hollywood venture that had come from "the secretary’s office," according to leaked emails.

Lynton and Stengel frequently emailed about planning phone chats and meeting up. They were scheduled to meet in person at least once, on December 14, 2014, according to an email from Lynton's assistant.

Stengel floated to Lynton, who also oversees Sony's music labels, the idea of staging a type of "We Are The World" concert as an anti-Islamic State message. He suggested using hip-hop stars and Muslim artists from around the world.

Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote "We Are The World" and organized a celeb-filled recording session to raise money for Africa relief in 1985.
Source: Sputnik News
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US Warship Heads To Yemeni Waters; Could Block Iran Weapons

In a stepped-up response to Iranian backing of Shiite rebels in Yemen, the Navy aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt, is steaming toward the waters off Yemen to beef up security and join other American ships that are prepared to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying weapons to the Houthi rebels.

The deployment comes after a U.N. Security Council resolution approved last week imposed an arms embargo on the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels. The resolution passed in a 14-0 vote with Russia abstaining.

Navy officials said Monday that the Roosevelt was moving through the Arabian Sea. A massive ship that carries F/A-18 fighter jets, the Roosevelt is seen more of a deterrent and show of force in the region.

The U.S. Navy has been beefing up its presence in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Arabian Sea in response to reports that a convoy of about eight Iranian ships is heading toward Yemen and possibly carrying arms for the Houthis. Navy officials said there are about nine U.S. warships in the region, including cruisers and destroyers carrying teams that can board and search other vessels.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the ship movement on the record.

Saudi Arabia and several of its allies, mainly Gulf Arab countries, have been trying to drive back the rebels, who seized the capital of Sanaa in September and have overrun many other northern provinces with the help of security forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The U.S. supports the Saudi campaign.

Western governments and Sunni Arab countries say the Houthis get their arms from Iran. Tehran and the rebels deny that, although the Islamic Republic has provided political and humanitarian support to the Shiite group.

The U.S. has been providing logistical and intelligence support to the Saudi coalition launching airstrikes against the Houthis. That air campaign is now in its fourth week, and the U.S. has also begun refueling coalition aircraft involved in the conflict.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest would not comment specifically on any Navy movements in Yemeni waters, but said the U.S. has concerns about Iran’s “continued support for the Houthis.

“We have seen evidence that the Iranians are supplying weapons and other armed support to the Houthis in Yemen. That support will only contribute to greater violence in that country. These are exactly the kind of destabilizing activities that we have in mind when we raise concerns about Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East.”

He said “the Iranians are acutely aware of our concerns for their continued support of the Houthis by sending them large shipments of weapons.”

The expanded U.S. Navy activity in the region comes at a sensitive time, as the U.S. and six world powers have reached a framework deal with Iran to control its nuclear program. Since the preliminary deal with reached on April 2, Iran and the U.S. have been disputing the details of the deal. And on Monday, a lawyer for Tehran-based Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian said Tehran had charged Rezaian with espionage and three other crimes. The Obama administration dismisses the charges as “absurd.”

The U.S. Navy generally conducts consensual boardings of ships when needed, including to combat piracy around Africa and the region. So far, however, U.S. naval personnel have not boarded any Iranian vessels since the Yemen conflict began.

Officials said it’s too soon to speculate on what the Navy ships may do as the Iranian convoy approaches, including whether Iran would consent to a boarding request, and what actions the Navy would take if its request was refused.

Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, has been pushed to the brink of collapse by ground fighting and the Saudi-led airstrikes in support of current President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was forced to flee to Saudi Arabia. Observers say the fighting in the strategic Mideast nation is taking on the appearance of a proxy war between Iran, the Shiite powerhouse backing the Houthis, and Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia.

Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington and Ahmed al-Haj in Sanaa, Yemen, contributed to this report.
Source: Yahoo News
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Cartoon Of The Day: Clinton and Bush Dynasties

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Egypt: Life Sentence For Those Digging or Using Smuggling Tunnels To Gaza


Cairo - People who dig and use cross-border tunnels in Egypt could face a maximum penalty of life in jail, state news agency MENA said on Sunday, citing amendments to the penal code targeting activity in the frontier area near the Gaza Strip.

Egypt declared a state of emergency in the border area last year after at least 33 security personnel were killed in attacks in the Sinai Peninsula, a remote but strategic region bordering Israel, Gaza and the Suez Canal. There were several militant attacks in the Sinai on Sunday.

The amendments to the penal code were passed by presidential decree, MENA said.

Source: what really happened
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Israeli Paper: Israel Needs To Find the Right Time To Stop Iran’s Nuclear Program


“Israel is on its own on Iran and has to find the right time to stop its nuclear program kinetically,” Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Sunday.

“The issue is political will,” said Inbar, arguing that we got to this point “because the US administration does not have the will to act against Iranian nuclear aspirations.”

“US-Israel relations are on a collision course because of [President Barack] Obama’s policy on Iran and during this difficult period Israel needs to minimize the damage to the pillars of US-Israel relations,” he said.

However, he says, “We cannot accept the American policy on Iran and sometimes small states have to oppose even superpowers’ policies.”

Iran and world powers reached a framework nuclear agreement on April 2 that would require Iran to shut down parts of its nuclear program that could be used to build a bomb, and accept intrusive inspections, in exchange for the West lifting economic sanctions.

Israeli political leaders and Republican congressional representatives have strongly criticized the deal.
“There is no way to sweeten the deal; it is essentially flawed and it reminds us clearly of the North Korean agreement,” which failed to stop the reclusive Asian country from going nuclear, said Inbar.

And just like the agreement with North Korea in 1994, the Iranians also have no qualms about cheating their way to the bomb, he said.
Inbar wrote in a Besa Center report published on Thursday: “Unfortunately, no better deal is in the offing. Whatever revisions are introduced cannot change its basic nature.

The accord allows Iran to have fissionable material that can be enriched to weapons grade material in a short time and Tehran can always deny access to inspectors any time it chooses.

This is the essence of the North Korean precedent.”

Inbar added that a nuclear deal is no longer enough to prevent Iran from going nuclear and that only an attack can stop the Shi’ite country from getting the bomb.

Asked if it would be better to wait out the Obama administration and hope for a more cooperative Republican administration, Inbar responded that he is not sure a future Republican president would necessarily be tougher on Iran, as former president George W. Bush did not deal with the problem and “kicked the can down the road.” He adds that it may be too long to wait in any case.

Another point, noted Inbar, is that a final agreement is still no sure thing as negotiations could still fall apart.
Asked about the argument by some who favor the framework agreement that it slows down Iran’s program, Inbar asserted that “the longer the program is entrenched, the more difficult it will be to get rid of it.” For example, there will be more people trained to develop the nuclear program and more chance to enrich uranium.

Another problem with the current negotiations between world powers and Iran is that the Americans are not insisting on linking other issues such as the country’s missile program or terror activities to the deal.

“Iran is the main national security challenge to Israel,” stated Inbar, pointing out that its leaders often call to destroy the Jewish state.
Asked if Israel should be getting involved to help regional Sunni forces against the Shi’iteled Iran axis, Inbar said that “Israel has to recognize it has little capability to influence regional developments.”
“Israel should be careful not to get entangled in Arab domestic conflicts because of the unexpected consequences,” he said.
Source: Jerusalem Post
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Four Years After Gadhafi, Libya Is a Failed State

Nearly four years after NATO-backed rebels toppled the former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi, the North Africa country has plunged into chaotic unrest.

The failure of last year’s election to achieve political unity in Libya was most evident when Fajr Libya, or “Libya Dawn” – a diverse coalition of armed groups that includes an array of Islamist militias – rejected the election’s outcome and seized control of Tripoli. The internationally recognized government relocated to Tobruk, situated in eastern Libya along the Mediterranean coast near the Egyptian border, while Libya Dawn set up a rival government, known as the new General National Congress, in the capital.

As forces aligned with the Tobruk government have fought Libya Dawn, the conflict has gradually become internationalized. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have launched air strikes targeting Libya Dawn, while Turkey, Qatar, and Sudan are believed to have provided the Islamist-dominated coalition with varying degrees of support.

The emergence of Daesh (the so-called “Islamic State”) in strategically vital areas of Libya has further complicated the conflict in Africa’s most oil-rich country and raised security concerns in nearby states.

Libya’s Most Polarizing General

The mercurial general Khalifa Belqasim Haftar has emerged as an influential, yet highly divisive, leader in this bloody conflict.

In early March, the anti-Islamist general was appointed commander of the armed forces loyal to the Tobruk government. Haftar’s role in the former Gaddafi regime, his cozy relationship with Washington, and suspicions about his long-term ambitions have given him a controversial reputation among many Libyans. Nonetheless, he’s also gaining respect from those who share his vitriol for Islamists.

Haftar was an early Gaddafi loyalist, and played an important role as one of the “Free Officers” in the 1969 revolution that toppled the monarchy led by King Idris al-Sanusi. Gaddafi later said that Haftar “was my son… and I was like his spiritual father.” It was the start of a military career in which Haftar fought on many different sides.

During the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, Haftar led a Libyan battalion. Later, as a commander of Libyan forces in the country’s 1980-1987 war with Chad, he was allegedly responsible for war crimes when his forces were accused of using napalm and poison gas.

In 1987, the Chadian military scored a major victory in the battle of Wadi al-Doum. In addition to killing more than 1,000 Libyan forces, Chad took over 400 Libyans, including Haftar, as prisoners.

Around that time, Haftar’s loyalties shifted.

While held in Chad, Haftar worked with other Libyan officers to coordinate a coup against Gaddafi, before the United States secured his release – by airlifting him and 300 of his men to Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), and from there to Virginia.

As a newly minted U.S. citizen, Haftar lived in northern Virginia from 1990 to 2011, spending part of this time working with the CIA before returning to Libya in March 2011 to fight once again against the Gaddafi regime. Several sources insist that Haftar was out of the CIA’s hands by 2011, but others maintain that the US government orchestrated his return to Libya that year.

Libya’s Civil War

Last year, Haftar called for the unilateral dissolution of Libya’s parliament and the establishment of a “presidential committee” to rule the country until new elections were held. Haftar cited Libya’s “upheaval” as justification for the armed forces to take over.

Many saw his act as an attempted military coup aimed at crushing the Muslim Brotherhood, which had won second place in Libya’s 2012 elections. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan dismissed his announcement as “ridiculous”.

Although many in Libya’s government viewed him as a rogue general hungry for power, his ongoing campaign against Islamist forces has gradually won him supporters. Last May, Haftar waged a campaign called “Operation Dignity” to “eliminate extremist terrorist groups” in the country. Since then, the Tobruk-based government has by and large come to support the general, viewing him as the government’s best bet in the struggle against its Islamist enemies.

Haftar’s anti-Islamist crusade parallels that of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, who is presiding over a crackdown on Egypt’s Islamists. In making no distinction between so-called moderate Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood and hardline factions such as Daesh and Ansar al-Sharia (an al-Qaeda affiliate), Haftar and Sisi are both selling a narrative to the West that their anti-Islamist positions are in sync with the “global war on terror.”

So far, Haftar has been unwilling to negotiate with Libya Dawn – which contains the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing and the “Loyalty to Martyrs” bloc within its coalition. In turn, Libya Dawn refuses to negotiate with Haftar.

The United Nations has begun hosting talks in Morocco between Libya’s various political factions in an effort to unite them against the growing threat of Daesh. Unfortunately, the UN’s efforts to push Libya’s two governments toward dialogue is undermined by the low levels of trust between them, and their mutual belief that only through continued armed struggle can they secure more territory and resources. Indeed, with strong backing from Cairo and Abu Dhabi, Haftar is likely convinced that he can make greater gains through warfare than diplomacy.

The toxic legacy of Gaddafi’s divisive and authoritarian regime, which pitted Libya’s diverse factions against one another, has plagued the prospects for any central authority gaining widespread legitimacy in the war-torn country. Indeed, since he was overthrown in 2011, Libya has turned into a cauldron of anarchy, with little meaningful security existing outside of Tripoli and Benghazi.

Gaddafi’s regime harshly oppressed the Islamist groups that went on to form Libya Dawn, which views its rise to power in Tripoli as hard fought and a long time in coming. They view Haftar as a war criminal from the ancien regime committed to their elimination, which will certainly undermine the potential for Libya’s two governments to reach a meaningful power-sharing agreement. With no peace in sight, a continuation of the bloody stalemate between the Tobruk and Tripoli-based governments seems most likely.

International Implications of Libya’s Turmoil

The fall of Gaddafi launched a geopolitical tsunami across Africa and into the Middle East.

Libya is now home to the world’s largest loose arms cache, and its porous borders are routinely transited by a host of heavily armed non-state actors – including the Tuareg separatists and jihadists who forced Mali’s national military from Timbuktu and Gao in March 2012 with newly acquired weapons from Libya. The UN has also documented the flow of arms from Libya into Egypt, Gaza, Niger, Somalia, and Syria.

Last October, 800 fighters loyal to Daesh seized control of Derna near the Egyptian border, some 200 miles from the European Union. Since then, Daesh’s Libyan branch has taken control of Sirte and gained a degree of influence in Benghazi, the nation’s second largest city and heart of the 2011 uprising against Gaddafi.

The group’s use of Libyan territory to terrorize and threaten other states has raised the international stakes. In February, Daesh beheaded 21 migrant workers from Egypt because they were Coptic Christians, then released a propaganda video containing footage of the heinous act. That lured Egypt into waging direct air strikes against the group’s targets in Derna.

Last November, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis – the dominant jihadist group in the Egyptian Sinai – pledged allegiance to Daesh, as did Nigeria’s Boko Haram more recently. Daesh has also made direct threats against Italy, prompting officials in Rome to warn that Italy’s military may intervene in Libya to counter Daesh’s fighters.

One quarter of Daesh’s fighters in Derna come from other Arab countries and Afghanistan. A major influx of Jabhat al-Nusra fighters from Syria have also entered the fray in Libya, underscoring how Islamist extremists from lands far away have exploited Libya’s status as a failed state. This development was most recently underscored when a Sudanese member of Daesh’s Libya division carried out a suicide attack on April 5th, which targeted a security checkpoint near Misrata. The bloody incident resulted in four deaths and over 20 injuries.

The number of weak or failing states across Africa suggests that such international networks will continue to take advantage of frail central authorities and lawlessness throughout the extremely underdeveloped Sahel and other areas of the continent to spread their influence. In the absence of any political resolution to its civil war, Libya in particular – as a failed state with mountainous oil reserves – will remain vulnerable to extremist forces hoping to seize power amidst the ongoing morass.
Source: Antiwar.com
Read also: Libya’s civil war - an oily mess, The Economist
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Six Things You Didn’t Know the U.S. and its Allies Did to Iran

It’s hard for some Americans to understand why the Obama administration is so determined to come to an agreement with Iran on its nuclear capability, given that huge Iranian rallies are constantly chanting “Death to America!” I know the chanting makes me unhappy, since I’m part of America, and I strongly oppose me dying.

But if you know our actual history with Iran, you can kind of see where they’re coming from. They have understandable reasons to be angry at and frightened of us — things we’ve done that if, say, Norway had done them to us, would have us out in the streets shouting “Death to Norway!” Unfortunately, not only have the U.S. and our allies done horrendous things to Iran, we’re not even polite enough to remember it.

Reminding ourselves of this history does not mean endorsing an Iran with nuclear-tipped ICBMs. It does mean realizing how absurd it sounds when critics of the proposed agreement say it suddenly makes the U.S. the weaker party or that we’re getting a bad deal because Iran, as Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham put it, does not fear Obama enough. It’s exactly the opposite: This is the best agreement the U.S. could get because for the first time in 35 years, U.S.-Iranian relations aren’t being driven purely by fear.

1. The founder of Reuters purchased Iran in 1872

Nasir al-Din Shah, Shah of Iran from 1848-1896, sold Baron Julius de Reuter the right to operate all of Iran’s railroads and canals, most of the mines, all of the government’s forests, and all future industries. The famous British statesman Lord Curzon called it “the most complete and extraordinary surrender of the entire industrial resources of a kingdom into foreign hands that has probably ever been dreamed of.” Iranians were so infuriated that the Shah had to rescind the sale the next year.

2. The BBC lent a hand to the CIA’s 1953 overthrow of Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh

If the Reuters thing weren’t enough to give Iranians a grudge against the Western media, the BBC transmitted a secret code to help Kermit Roosevelt (Teddy’s grandson) lay the groundwork for an American and British coup against Mosaddegh. (BBC Persian also assisted by broadcasting pro-coup propaganda on the orders of the British government.) Soon enough the U.S. was training the regime’s secret police in how to interrogate Iranians with methods a CIA analyst said were “based on German torture techniques from World War II.”

3. We had extensive plans to use nuclear weapons in Iran

In 1980 the U.S. military was terrified the Soviet Union would take advantage of the Iranian Revolution to invade Iran and seize the Straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. So the Pentagon came up with a plan: If the Soviets began massing their troops, we would use small nuclear weapons to destroy the mountain passes in northern Iran the Soviets needed to move their troops into the country.

So we wouldn’t be using nukes on Iran, just in Iran. As Pentagon historian David Crist put it, “No one reflected on how the Iranians might view such a scenario.” But they probably would have been fine with it, just as we’d be fine with Iran nuking Minnesota to prevent Canada from gaining control of the Gulf of Mexico. “No problem,” we’d say. “Nuestra casa es su casa.”

4. U.S. leaders have repeatedly threatened to outright destroy Iran

It’s not just John McCain singing “bomb bomb bomb Iran.” Admiral William Fallon, who retired as head of CENTCOM in 2008, said about Iran: “These guys are ants. When the time comes, you crush them.” Admiral James Lyons Jr., commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in the 1980s, has said we were prepared to “drill them back to the fourth century.” Richard Armitage, then assistant secretary of defense, explained that we considered whether to “completely obliterate Iran.” Billionaire and GOP kingmaker Sheldon Adelson advocates an unprovoked nuclear attack on Iran — “in the middle of the desert” at first, then possibly moving on to places with more people.

Most seriously, the Obama administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review declared that we will not use nuclear weapons “against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.” There’s only one country that’s plausibly not in this category. So we were saying we will never use nuclear weapons against any country that doesn’t have them already — with a single exception, Iran. Understandably, Iran found having a nuclear target painted on it pretty upsetting.

5. We shot down a civilian Iranian airliner — killing 290 people, including 66 children

On July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes, patrolling in the Persian Gulf, blew Iran Air Flight 655 out of the sky. The New York Times had editorialized about “Murder in the Air” in 1983 when the Soviet Union mistakenly shot down a South Korean civilian airliner in its airspace, declaring, “there is no conceivable excuse for any nation shooting down a harmless airliner.” After the Vincennes missile strike, a Times editorial announced that what happened to Flight 655 “raises stern questions for Iran.” That’s right — for Iran. Two years later the U.S. Navy gave the Vincennes’s commander the highly prestigious Legion of Merit commendation.

6. We worry about Iranian nukes because they would deter our own military strikes

Our rhetoric on Iran seems nonsensical: Do U.S. leaders actually believe Iran would engage in a first nuclear strike on Israel or the U.S., given that would lead to a quick and devastating retaliation from those well-armed nuclear powers?

Even conservative U.S. foreign policy experts know that’s incredibly unlikely. They’re not worried that we can’t deter a nuclear-armed Iran — they’re worried that a nuclear-armed Iran could deter us. As Thomas Donnelly, a top Iran analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, put it in 2004, “the prospect of a nuclear Iran is a nightmare … because of the constraining effect it threatens to impose upon U.S. strategy for the greater Middle East. … The surest deterrent to American action is a functioning nuclear arsenal.”

This perspective — that we must prevent other countries from being able to deter us from waging war — is a bedrock belief of the U.S. establishment, and in fact was touted as a major reason to invade Iraq.
Source: The Intercept
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Israel Applies To Become Founding Member of China Development Bank

The Israeli government has submitted its application to become a founding member of a controversial Chinese-led development bank, in a move that is likely to cause consternation in Washington.

Newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a letter to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) by the March 31 deadline, according to the country’s foreign ministry.

Israel would become the latest country to join the 40-nation bank, which already includes the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Australia.

“Israel’s membership in the Bank will open opportunities for integration of Israeli companies in various infrastructure projects, which will be financed by the bank,” said an Israeli government statement.

The creation of the Bank, under the vision of Chinese premier Xi Jinping, has attracted criticism from the United States, who has warned their closest allies against courting better relations with Beijing.

Following Britain’s application for membership, one US official told the Financial Times: “We are wary about a trend of constant accommodation of China, which is not the best way to engage a rising power.”

The AIIB aims to rival similar organisations such as the World Bank, and Asian Development Bank, in funding $100 billion in infrastructure projects across the Asian continent. Half of that amount has already been budgeted by Beijing.

Diplomatic relations between the Israeli government and the Obama administration have reached a nadir as the US has sought to strike a nuclear deal with Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted an invitation to visit Washington last month, behind the president’s back, addressing the US Congress and criticising the administration’s attempts to broker a deal with Tehran.

US Treasury Secretary has called on the AIIB to complement existing institutions and adopt standards of governance.

The Israeli foreign ministry hailed the AIIB as a “diplomatic achievement” and “one of the most important initiatives in terms of Chinese foreign policy and in particular for President Xi Jinping.”
Source: Telegraph
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Qatar: Exploited and Sexually Abused Migrant Workers Were Forced to Run Marathon

Migrants who work under severe conditions—often akin to slavery—were forced to participate in a state-sponsored “mega-marathon” in Doha, Qatar. The marathon took place late last month at 2 p.m. on a day when the temperature reached 84 degrees. Workers were bused in and forced to run, some in jeans and flip-flops. They were told they had to finish the race in what was an effort to break the Guinness World Record for the largest marathon, which ultimately failed. According to Amnesty International, the migrant workers face extreme exploitation including physical and sexual abuse.

Qatar is on schedule to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, despite allegations of FIFA bribery, and it has brought in migrant workers to help build sports stadiums and infrastructure. The International Trade Union Confederation has estimated that 4,000 migrant workers will die during construction.

According to the objectives listed on the race website, the mega-marathon represented “a decisive response to the campaign waged by the sector of envious haters on the success of Qatar to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and to their false allegations of persecution of workers and residents in our beloved country.”

The Daily Beast reports:

“Most migrant workers can’t leave their employer no matter what happens. They’re deportable at any moment, they’re very exploited, and it’s very difficult for them to access the justice system. When you put it together as a mix, it’s a highly toxic combination,” said McGeehan.

That’s why migrant workers who may have wanted to qui—or never even begin—the marathon may not have had an option to stop running. A spokesman for the Al-Sadd Sports Club. who bused in the runners, told the Daily Telegraph, “If they didn’t want to run, we advised them to go to their buses.” At least one witness told the Telegraph that the workers were ordered to keep running.

Al-Sadd runs the Al-Sadd Football Club, the winningest soccer team in the most competitive league in Qatar, the Qatari Stars League.

“Let’s go back to what we’re dealing with: You don’t have a choice what you’re doing—whether it’s a violation of dignity, or if it’s a danger to your welfare. If their employer wants to make them skydive, he can. That’s part of what the problem is here. This labor system enables this deathly inhumane system,” McGeehan told The Daily Beast.
Source: Truth dig
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