Israeli democracy: Minister calls for soft-assassination of BDS leaders – WRITTEN BY RICHARD SILVERSTEIN

Israel Katz

The Yediot Achronot conference attacking BDS has become a veritable carnival of hate. Everyone from delusional Hollywood celebrities (Roseanne Barr) to cabinet ministers, to the leader of the Opposition have pledged fealty to the cause.

But the apogee same yesterday when Transportation Minister Israel Katz called for the “civil targeted killing” of BDS leaders like Omar Barghouti. The phrase he used (sikul ezrahi memukad) derives from the euphemistic Hebrew phrase for the targeted killing of a terrorist (the literal meaning is “targeted thwarting”). But the added word “civil” makes it something different. Katz is saying that we won’t physically murder BDS opponents, but we will do everything short of that.

One may rightly ask what business a transportation minister has conducting targeted killings, physical or otherwise, against anyone. Though everything in Israel is in service to the national security state, has transportation fallen under that bailiwick as well?

We are entering dangerous territory when an Israeli cabinet minister engages in wordplay that verges on putting a bull’s-eye on the backs of non-violent activists. If there are Israel apologists out there who dismiss the significance of such rhetoric they are sadly mistaken. In this torrid political environment in which Israeli leftists have become criminals and wounded Palestinian youth may be summarily executed in the street, it is only too easy to foresee Palestinian activists like Barghouti having a bounty on their heads.

Does anyone doubt there are scores of Yigal Amirs out there who’d be pleased to strike a blow for their hateful cause by putting a bullet in the head of a Palestinian?

Not to be outdone, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri called for stripping BDS founder Omar Barghouti of his Israeli residency, which he gained in 1994 when he married an Israeli citizen. Deri claimed that Barghouti is employing a scam against Israel because his main residence is Ramallah and not Israel (though he’s pursuing, or has completed, an MA at Tel Aviv University). Given Katz’s ever so veiled threat against him it would be no wonder if Barghouti did choose to value his safety and live where he’s not under threat of death.

Gag order prohibiting reporting of the details of the criminal charges against Minister Aryeh Deri

In this context, it’s ironic Facebook activists have posted a gag order involving a potential criminal case against Deri himself. It seems that the Israeli Attorney General has beeninvestigating criminal charges of an unspecified nature. It’s important to recall that Deri has been charged with corruption in the past, been convicted, and spent time in prison. However, when his sentence was served, he was reappointed to the leadership of the Shas party, won a seat in the Knesset, and became interior minister. It appears this recycled thief may be up to the same old tricks once more.

Deri’s spiritual boss, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, told an audience of the faithful a few weeks ago that under Jewish law, no Palestinian should be allowed to live in the land of Israel. In other words, he was espousing the ethnic cleansing of Israel, and the expulsion of 20% of its population. Only later did the rabbi explain that he wasn’t, God forbid, proposing that Palestinians be expelled now, but that this would only happen after the Messiah came and Israel was a proper halachic state. Is it any surprise that Deri himself would jump on the band wagon and commence the expulsion by stripping Barghouti of his legal rights to residency?

Israel’s major concert promoter, Shuki Weiss, who plays a major role in combating the cultural boycott against Israel, complained at the Yediot conference that Deri’s interior ministry was demanding that international artists wishing to perform in Israel sign a loyalty oath in order to obtain a visa. The ministry immediately denied the claim. And concert promoters aren’t known for being fonts of truth. So it’s hard to know what’s the truth in this context. But given how extreme this government is and how petty its leadership, it’s not hard to believe a ministry official would think it was a terrific idea to pressure Elton John to sign a loyalty oath before permitting him to step foot in the Holy Land.

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‘Pearl of the desert’: RT visits liberated ancient ruins of Palmyra (DRONE FOOTAGE) – WRITTEN BY RT

Days after the Syrian Army recaptured Palmyra from Islamic State militants, RT’s Lizzie Phelan visited the ancient archeological treasure to see if the UNESCO World Heritage Site suffered any irreparable damage after being in the jihadists’ hands.

Just getting to Palmyra is a challenge. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) mined the entrances to the world-famous site, which have been painstakingly cleared by the Syrian Army, with Russian assistance.

RT’s Lizzie Phelan was one of the first journalists to set foot in Palmyra since the site was captured by IS militants in May 2015. 

“It’s quite incredible to be standing here in the pearl of the desert – the ancient city of Palmyra that for months people around the world feared would be reduced to dust by ISIS,” she said.

Phelan confirmed that large parts of the centuries-old artifacts have been damaged, such as the Temple of Bel and the Arch of Triumph, but some of the historic relics are still standing.

READ MORE: ISIS partially destroys 2,000-yo Bel temple in Palmyra, Syria – monitor

Phelan visited what is left of the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel, which is considered one of the world’s greatest ancient relics.

The temple was constructed in honor of the Semitic god Bel, and was part of a series of three temples, with the others dedicated to the lunar god Algibol and the sun god Yarhibol. They were built in the year 32 AD and were at the center of Palmyra’s religious life. 

However, parts were destroyed when IS overran the site. With the terrorist group now banished, experts will see if the historic site can be salvaged. Phelan says the task is to see how many large stones that made up the temple remain intact and from there, they will be able to calculate whether it will be possible to reconstruct the archeological treasure. 

“There are craters in the ground all around this ancient site,” Phelan mentioned as she took a walk around Palmyra. “These were caused by landmines laid by ISIS and the soldiers said that most of the fighters they lost were due to these mines, which were often laid between stones to make them blend in,” she added. 

However, thanks to the Syrian Army, which was helped by Russian air support, Palmyra is once again in safe hands and out of the clutches of the IS terrorists, who suffered one of their biggest defeats since capturing large swathes of Syria and Iraq in June 2014. 

“We sacrificed so many martyrs in this battle due to the mines and booby traps,” said Captain Ali Ali, from the Desert Hawks Brigade, who spoke to RT. “ISIL fled, but they booby-trapped the whole area. I hope that all those people who sacrificed their lives to save Palmyra – I hope that their souls will rest in peace and that we will continue freeing all of Syria,” he added. 

Amr Al-Azm, an associate professor of Middle East history at Shawnee State University in Ohio, says that Islamic State’s main goal was not to destroy artifacts at Palmyra, but to sell them to the highest bidder. 

“ISIS sees cultural heritage as an exportable resource and they will loot what they can sell – so if this resource can be sold, they will sell it. They have a special department of antiquities and it is placed within the Department of Resources, which is the same department used for the sale of oil and mineral wealth,” Al-Azm told RT. 

However, Al-Azm added that some larger objects, such as the Temple of Bel and the Arch of Triumph, were blown up mainly for propaganda purposes, rather than due to any particular religious beliefs. 

“They do also carry out these large destructions, but they usually destroy what they cannot sell. So if something cannot be sold, they will use it for something else, like for propaganda purposes, and that is where they made these big explosions. This is normally for a carefully orchestrated form of propaganda and they send a very powerful message,” he mentioned. 

The aim will now be to try and restore parts of Palmyra, which was known as the “Oasis of the Syrian Desert.” However, the director of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Mikhail Piotrovsky, says there is hope that parts of the World Heritage Site can be saved. 

“The damage done to Palmyra architectural monuments is enormous, but it has not been razed to the ground completely. The main symbol of the city, the famous columns, they are standing, and we now have to inspect the site accurately to determine what else is left there,” Piotrovsky told RT. 

Meanwhile, the deputy director of Russia’s State Museum of Oriental Art, Tigran Mkrtychev, told RT that the international community must do its bit to help restore Palmyra because it is an important artifact for all humankind, not only the Syrian people.

“If we approach this issue strategically and make this monument a certain consolidation of the forces of the East and the West in restoration of the monument of a global importance, it [Palmyra] can become a ‘brand’ which will unite Eastern and Western civilizations for years to come,” he stressed.




The Striking Similarities Between ISIS & Israel’s Middle East Agendas – WRITTEN BY MNAR MUHAWESH

#JSIL, the Jewish State of Israel in the Levant, illustrates that Israel is not held to the same standards as other actors in the Middle East like ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but instead is given a pass for human rights abuses and war crimes that we condemn in groups like Daesh.





Capitalism is killing the Great Barrier Reef – WRITTEN BY JOHN PASSANT


The Great Barrier Reef is one of the wonders of the natural world. It is iconic, a reef that for many Australians is part of the essential Australia.

Climate change is destroying it. The National Coral Bleaching Taskforce recently undertook an aerial survey of the northern part of the Reef.

A staggering 95 per cent of the surveyed reefs are bleached. The surveyed bleached section stretched from Cairns to Papua New Guinea, the so called pristine area.

“This has been the saddest research trip of my life,” Professor Terry Hughes of the ARC Centre for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies, the scientist who led the survey, said. He went on to say:

“Almost without exception, every reef we flew across showed consistently high levels of bleaching, from the reef slope right up onto the top of the reef. We flew for 4000km in the most pristine parts of the Great Barrier Reef and saw only four reefs that had no bleaching. The severity is much greater than in earlier bleaching events in 2002 or 1998.”

Warm waters produce this bleaching. As another press release from the ARC Centre for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies says:

‘Coral bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, like heightened sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, called ‘zooxanthellae’. The loss of these colourful algae causes the corals to turn white, and ‘bleach’. Bleached corals can recover if the temperature drops and zooxanthellae are able to recolonise them, otherwise the coral may die.’

Couple the inexorable temperature rises with the El Nino impact and the result is the worst bleaching on record, according to Professor Hughes. It is not yet clear if it is life or death this time around.

“Scientists in the water are already reporting up to 50% mortality of bleached corals,” says Prof. Hughes, “but it’s still too early to tell just what the overall outcome will be. We will continue to conduct underwater surveys along the Great Barrier Reef in the coming months as the full impact of this mass bleaching event unfolds.”

It takes about ten years for the reef to recover but the increased frequency and intensity of bleaching may not give us that time again.

Professor Hughes was blunt in his criticism of the climate change government of Tony Turnbull. He told ABC’s The World Today:

‘… the Minister hasn’t yet announced a significant response other than paying for more surveys of dead corals.

‘I don’t think many people would regard that as an adequate response.

‘Really in the longer term what’s needed is a change in policy around Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions that would be favourable to the Great Barrier Reef.

‘So many people would regard issuing a permit for a new coal mine in Queensland for the next 60 years as a profound policy failure for the Great Barrier Reef.

‘So certainly the science community is hoping that the Federal Government will look again at our emissions trajectory which is trending upwards, and also putting back the price on carbon, and at not cutting the renewable energy target by 30 per cent.’

Professor Hughes is right to condemn the Turnbull government for approving the Adani coal mine. With all respect to Professor Hughes, much more is needed than a political revolution to impose a price on carbon. The process of climate change is under way and the talkfest at Paris, COP21, won’t address that. It won’t even limit warming to 2 degrees.

Yet at the moment we cannot even win a political revolution of a carbon price (let alone a transition to a totally renewable society) against the long slow but rapidly speeding up train wreck of climate change.

A social revolution is even further off, and it may be that the impact of climate change will soon destroy any economic basis for socialism in the future. We socialists have to redouble our efforts to win a just world free of the existential threat of climate change now nd that means joining the fight of thsoe against individual aspects of the economic system that produces climate change.

Under capitalism profit comes before people and the bleaching on the Barrier Reef is one example of that ‘logic’. That logic traps us in fossil fuel production and for example Government approval of the Adani coal mine.

We can save the planet, and with it the Barrier Reef, if we get rid of the underlying driver of climate change – capitalism.

As climate change and its impacts accelerate, Rosa Luxemburg’s stark reminder that our choice is socialism or barbarism rings even truer today.





The insanity of Empire: CIA-armed militias are shooting at Pentagon-armed ones in Syria – WRITTEN BY Nabih Bulos, W.J. Hennigan, Brian Bennett

© Delil Souleiman / Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
CIA-armed militias are shooting at Pentagon-armed ones in Syria The Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces recently fought a CIA-armed militia. Such clashes have become routine.

Syrian militias armed by different parts of the U.S. war machine have begun to fight each other on the plains between the besieged city of Aleppo and the Turkish border, highlighting how little control U.S. intelligence officers and military planners have over the groups they have financed and trained in the bitter 5-year-old civil war.

The fighting has intensified over the past two months, as CIA-armed units and Pentagon-armed ones have repeatedly shot at each other as they have maneuvered through contested territory on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, U.S. officials and rebel leaders have confirmed.

In mid-February, a CIA-armed militia called Fursan al Haq, or Knights of Righteousness, was run out of the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, by Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces moving in from Kurdish-controlled areas to the east.

“Any faction that attacks us, regardless from where it gets its support, we will fight it,” said Maj. Fares Bayoush, a leader of Fursan al Haq.

Rebel fighters described similar clashes in the town of Azaz, a key transit point for fighters and supplies between Aleppo and the Turkish border, and March 3 in the Aleppo neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud.

© Mapbox/OpenStreetMap/Los Angeles Times

The attacks come amid continued heavy fighting in Syria and illustrate the difficulty facing U.S. efforts to coordinate among dozens of armed groups that are trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad, fight the Islamic State militant group and battle one another all at the same time.

“It is an enormous challenge,” said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who described the clashes between U.S.-supported groups as “a fairly new phenomenon.”

“It is part of the three-dimensional chess that is the Syrian battlefield,” he said.

The area in northern Syria around Aleppo, the country’s second-largest city, features not only a war between the Assad government and its opponents, but also periodic battles against Islamic State militants, who control much of eastern Syria and also some territory to the northwest of the city, and long-standing tensions among the ethnic groups that inhabit the area, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.

“This is a complicated, multisided war where our options are severely limited,” said a U.S. official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter. “We know we need a partner on the ground. We can’t defeat ISIL without that part of the equation, so we keep trying to forge those relationships.” ISIL is an acronym for the Islamic State.

President Barack Obama recently authorized a new Pentagon plan to train and arm Syrian rebel fighters, relaunching a program that was suspended in the fall after a string of embarrassing setbacks, which included recruits being ambushed and handing over much of their U.S.-issued ammunition and trucks to an al-Qaida affiliate.

Amid the setbacks, the Pentagon late last year deployed about 50 special operations forces to Kurdish-held areas in northeastern Syria to better coordinate with local militias and help ensure U.S.-backed rebel groups aren’t fighting one another.

But such skirmishes have become routine.

Last year, the Pentagon helped create a new military coalition, the Syrian Democratic Forces. The goal was to arm the group and prepare it to take territory away from Islamic State in eastern Syria and to provide information for U.S. airstrikes.

The group is dominated by Kurdish outfits known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. A few Arab units have joined the force in order to prevent it from looking like an invading Kurdish army, and it has received airdrops of weapons and supplies and assistance from U.S. Special Forces.

© Abed al Qaisi
Richard Jones (right), stands with YPG official (left) near Syria/Turkish border in Ras al Ayn, Syria.

Gen. Joseph Votel, now commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and the incoming head of Central Command, said this month that about 80 percent of the fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces were Kurdish.

The U.S. backing for a heavily Kurdish armed force has been a point of tension with the Turkish government, which has a long history of crushing Kurdish rebellions and doesn’t want to see Kurdish units control more of its southern border.

The CIA, meanwhile, has its own operations center inside Turkey from which it has been directing aid to rebel groups in Syria, providing them with TOW antitank missiles from Saudi Arabian weapons stockpiles.

While the Pentagon’s actions are part of an overt effort by the U.S. and its allies against the Islamic State, the CIA’s backing of militias is part of a separate covert U.S. effort aimed at keeping pressure on the Assad government in hopes of prodding the Syrian leader to the negotiating table.

At first, the two different sets of fighters were primarily operating in widely separated areas of Syria — the Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in the northeastern part of the country and the CIA-backed groups further west.

But, over the past several months, Russian airstrikes against anti-Assad fighters in northwestern Syria have weakened them.

That created an opening that allowed the Kurdish-led groups to expand their zone of control to the outskirts of Aleppo, bringing them into more frequent conflict with the CIA-backed outfits.

“Fighting over territory in Aleppo demonstrates how difficult it is for the U.S. to manage these really localized and, in some cases, entrenched conflicts,” said Nicholas Heras, an expert on the Syrian civil war at the Center for a New American Security, a think tank in Washington. “Preventing clashes is one of the constant topics in the joint operations room with Turkey.”

© UNRWA/Associated Press
This picture taken on Jan. 31, 2014, and released by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), shows residents of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, queuing to receive food supplies, in Damascus, Syria. A Norwegian humanitarian group report says a record 38 million people have been internally displaced in their countries worldwide, with 2.2 million Iraqis alone fleeing in 2014 after ISIS seized their areas.

Over the course of the Syrian civil war, the town of Marea has been on the front line of the Islamic State’s attempts to advance across Aleppo province toward the rest of northern Syria.

On Feb. 18, the Syrian Democratic Forces attacked the town.

A fighter with the Suqour Al-Jabal Brigade, a group with links to the CIA, said intelligence officers of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State know their group has clashed with the Pentagon-trained militias.

“The MOM knows we fight them,” he said, referring to the joint operations center in southern Turkey, which is known as MOM from the acronym of its name in Turkish, Musterek Operasyon Merkezi.

“We’ll fight all who aim to divide Syria or harm its people,” said the fighter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Marea is home to many of the original Islamist fighters who took up arms against Assad during the Arab Spring in 2011. It has long been a critical way station for supplies and fighters coming from Turkey into Aleppo.

“Attempts by Syrian Democratic Forces to take Marea was a great betrayal and was viewed as a further example of a Kurdish conspiracy to force them from Arab and Turkmen lands,” Heras said.

The clashes brought the U.S. and Turkish officials to “loggerheads,” he added.

After diplomatic pressure from the U.S., the militia withdrew to the outskirts of the town as a sign of good faith, he said. But continued fighting among different U.S.-backed groups may be inevitable, experts on the region said.

“Once they cross the border into Syria, you lose a substantial amount of control or ability to control their actions,” said Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency official. “You certainly have the potential for it becoming a larger problem as people fight for territory and control of the northern border area in Aleppo.”

W.J. Hennigan and Brian Bennett reported from Washington and special correspondent Nabih Bulos from Amman.

Comment: The ‘reality creators’ latest monstrosity seems to be getting away from them. All part of the plan?

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Other than some laughable exploits attributable to the lackeys serving the conflicted strategies of the CIA and Pentagon in northern Aleppo, there isn’t a lot to write about as the cease-fire continues fairly successfully.  Yesterday, the SAA liberated Western Al-Hazm (Al-Hazm Al-Gharbiyya), which you can see on the map overlooks Al-Qaryatayn.  The SAA also cleared out Elevation 861 in Al-Hazm giving the army an unobstructed look straight down into the town where the SAF continues to pummel ISIS rat positions.  According to our source, the SAF decisively put out of commission 6 vehicles, 2 of which were cannon-armed pickups.   The rate of bombings by the air force is a clue to how long the terrorists are expected to hold out.  Also just liberated are Al-Raaqima Elevation and Dhahr Al-Kharnoobi.

We are watching nightly efforts to evacuate Al-Qaryatayn of ISIS family members.  I can confirm that many cars and vans containing these non-combatants have been stopped and those inside taken to detention facilities outside Homs.

In the meantime, we are watching the slow encirclement of Al-Sukhna where a few hundred ISIS rats are holed up.  Terrorist chatter indicates a desire to abandon the town before the Syrian Army’s 7-day respite is to end.

At Tafha Village, about 80 kms from Homs City, the SAF, pummeled rodent positions near Jubb Al-Jarraah.  We are seeing a pattern developing of ISIS terrorists sending their families away from the infernal scenes about to envelop the area.  This usually is followed by the SAA invading the area.  The same is taking place at Al-Busayri Village.


The liberation of Palmyra is having salubrious effects on the army’s morale.  This was a victory which resonated remarkably with the population making the army seem even more efficacious, more competent than many had thought.  It is true that Russia played a role in wiping out the terrorist presence, but, it was also the formidable coordination between the Syrian Air Force and the army on the ground which impressed so many, leading a substantial number of writers to start questioning whether the war would end soon with a stunning victory at Aleppo.  Writers are also beginning to ring the alarm bells for Erdoghan whose durability is now being questioned.



I don’t like Robert Fisk.  I think he’s unctuous and self-important. But, when he writes well, it’s very well.  Here’s one sent by Nicholas Reardon:

More Western reproach for Erdoghan’s policies:

Ghassan Kadi makes his case for an imperfect but resurgent Syria:





One Year of Bloodshed in Yemen: US and UK are Accomplices in Saudi Coalition War Crimes – WRITTEN BY VANESSA BEELEY

21st CenturyVanessa Beeley
21st Century Wire

“Almost one year has passed since Operation Decisive Storm was launched. The appalling level of human suffering, combined with a mounting sense of hopelessness, is exacerbating internal divisions and sectarian animosity. Status quo is clearly not sustainable. The resilience of people in Yemen has been stretched beyond human limits.”
~ Ms Kate Gilmore, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights 

On the 26th March 2015, one year ago today, the Saudi led coalition launched its ‘Operation Decisive Storm’ against the Yemeni people.  One year on, the intensity of the attacks has not subsided and the wholesale slaughter of civilians and deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure continues unabated. Aided and abetted primarily by the US and the UK, the Saudi regime is destroying Yemen’s cultural heritage, bombing masjids, schools, hospitals, market places, wedding parties, fishing boats, telecommunication centres, electrical power plants, factories, agricultural lands and livestock.

The Saudi regime is doing everything in its power to ensure the Yemeni people have no means of  survival or sustenance under a crippling blockade that has been in place since the inception of the war of aggression against Yemen.  A blockade that is “lamented, decried and condemned” by an international community that hides behind familiar rhetoric while ensuring the flow of arms continues unhindered into Saudi weapons depots.

US Cluster Munitions 

CBU 1052
US supplied Cluster Munitions CBU-105 used in Saudi air-strikes in Yemen

Use of Cluster Munitions has been recorded 56 times in Yemen by various on-the-ground sources.  Cluster Munitions supplied, primarily,  by the US.  The US is a non signatory of theCluster Munitions Convention that bans their use, stockpiling and transfer. However the US’ own export regulations state unequivocally that the munitions must meet a less than one percent failure rate [unexploded ordnance] and must not be used against civilian targets.

Both regulations are being flouted by the Saudi-led coalition who are liberally bombing civilian areas, and leaving behind, a greater than 1% trail of deadly unexploded bomblets, that can sever limbs and tear flesh into shreds when detonated in the hands or under the feet of curious children. These bomblets are recognised as presenting an even greater threat than land-mines for decades after a conflict ends.

Cluster munitions themselves are a hideous invention.  According to US Defence Department contracts, Saudi Arabia purchased 1,300 CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Cluster Munitions from Textron Defence Systems, shipment to be completed by December 2015. According to HRW reports, the UAE had previously received an unknown number of CBU-105 from Textron in June 2010.

“The Sensor Fuzed Weapon is a marvel of military technology, says its maker, Textron Defense Systems. An advanced “cluster bomb,” it is designed to spray 40 individual projectiles of molten copper, destroying enemy tanks across a 30-acre swath of battlefield.”

Imagine the devastation when these munitions are used in densely populated civilian areas, the effects of this rain of molten metal and shrapnel on the human body, projectiles intended to pierce armour plating will decimate and mutilate human beings over a massive area.

The areas worst hit in Yemen are the Ansarullah strongholds of Saada and Hajjah in the north of the country, signalling intent by the Saudi-led coalition to wipe out all opposition to their corrupt and oppressive neocolonialism in Yemen.

Dr R S Karim of Mona Relief, a Yemen grass roots NGO, told me:

“Saada is completely finished, they have bombed it into oblivion.  The suffering there is indescribable, the worst we have seen in the whole of Yemen.  Access for humanitarian aid is impossible, we are told if we cross the red line we are dead” 

Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri of the Saudi Coalition has declared all of Saada a military target thus violating all international laws that dictate civilian targets must be differentiated from military ones.

The US, in supplying these Cluster Munitions is an accessory to war crimes and in violation of all human rights laws and conventions.  The Saudi-led coalition is using them as a weapon of mass murder, a crime being investigated by none other than the Sauds themselves, since theirappointment to chair of a key human rights panel within the UNHRC.  The beneficiaries, as always, are the weapons manufacturers who congratulate themselves on a “clean battlefield operation”.

“It really is an extremely sophisticated weapon.  Knowing that we are in no way, shape or form contributing to [civilian suffering] is really a very satisfying place to be” ~ Mark D. Rafferty, vice president of business development for Textron Defense Systems 2009.

Perhaps Mr Rafferty and his White House clients would like to visit Yemen and survey the mangled remains of men, women, children and livestock strewn across the “clean battlefield”.  Irrefutable evidence of their cynical involvement in an illegal war of aggression that has been allowed to continue for 365 days, maintained and endorsed by US & UK military industrial complex profiteering.

UK Weapons Supply

Campaign Against Arms Trade

According to a report by Diane Abbott in The Guardian on 25th March 2016, the Committee on Arms Exports Controls met for the first time in two years on Wednesday 23rd March 2016.  This was in response to increasing international condemnation of Britain’s role in the war crimes being committed against the Yemeni people by the Saudi-led coalition.

“Their message was clear, unanimous and withering: the UK is breaking its own laws and fuelling a humanitarian catastrophe by selling arms to Saudi Arabia. British law is also clear: it is illegal to sell arms to a state that is at a “clear risk” of committing international humanitarian crimes. But over the past year alone, Britain has sold around £6bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, whose campaign in Yemen is targeting civilians – 191 such attacks have collectively been reported by the UN, HRW and Amnesty.”

The same report accuses Philip Hammond, UK Foreign Minister, of lying in his statement to the Conservative Middle East Council:

“We have been clear with the coalition partners from the outset about the importance of compliance with international humanitarian law and I have said in Parliament, and I will say again here: we have looked at every allegation of breach of international humanitarian law, and we have found no evidence of breach of international humanitarian law, and we urge the coalition to go onto the front foot, to investigate when there are allegations and be open about what they find. Things happen in war, mistakes get made and one should be honest about mistakes when they are made.” ~ Philip Hammond

Diane Abbott points out that David Mepham, UK Director of Human Rights Watch, said he had personally handed Hammond, a comprehensive report complete with GPS co-ordinates, detailing all Saudi air-strikes on Yemeni schools, hospitals and market places.

“[The UK Government] has had that evidence for months, and therefore it is extraordinary the line can come back that they do not have the evidence, when that evidence has been shared with them for a considerable period of time”. ~ David Mepham

Of course the UK Government is lying.  The UK represents 36% of Saudi Arabia’s overall imports.  Prime Minister, David Cameron has been aggressively pushing for trade deals with the totalitarian regime.  According to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, UK arms sales to Saudi totalled £2.95 billion for the first nine months of 2015, and about £7bn since Cameron took office, including a contract for 72 Euro-fighter Typhoon jets.

In January 2016, during Prime Ministers Question Time, Cameron reinforced the double speak:

“We have the strictest rules for arms exports of almost any country anywhere in the world. And let me remind him [Jeremy Corbyn] that we are not a member of the Saudi-led coalition, we are not directly involved in the Saudi-led coalition’s operations, British personnel are not involved in carrying out strikes.”

However, a report just one week prior to this extraordinary denial from Cameron, stated clearly that British and American officials are present in the Riyadh command and control centre for Saudi air-strikes on Yemen.  Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, painstakingly clarified that while the US and UK operatives have full access to the Saudi targets, they allegedly have no role in choosing them.

So does this mean that UK & US officials are privy to pending war crimes, not of their choosing, and regardless, stand by while Yemeni civilians are massacred by the weapons they have supplied, not intended for civilian targets? Where does responsibility begin and end?

The UK, further obfuscates its supply of weapons to Saudi Arabia by detailing the majority of items sold as “components“.  Components for military training aircraft, components for combat naval vessels, components for bombs, components for air-to-surface rockets.


Not once, as an example, do they detail the UK Manufactured PGM 500 Hakim Cruise Missiles that were used to obliterate a Yemeni factory near Sanaa, September 23 2015. Remains of the missiles were identified at the site of the blast. One civilian was murdered in this strike and another essential civilian structure destroyed, but the UK steadfastly denies responsibility on all counts of accessory to war crimes.

Arms Embargoes and Economic Sanctions

During the UNHRC, 31st Session, Jan Fermon, Secretary General of IADL [International Association of Democratic Lawyers], made a powerful argument calling for divestment from Saudi Arabia.  He called for economic sanctions and arms embargoes. He condemned the decision to elect Saudi officials to the key panel on Human Rights, stating that this gave them the power to decide Human Rights standards globally, and would enable them to crush human rights activists under the UNHRC umbrella.  He argued that the UNHRC has thus become a weapon in the hands of the Sauds to be turned against the very principles they should be protecting.

He described the despotic Saudi regime as one of the worst human rights violators, consistently violating all rights to peace and development in the region. Their system of “para judicial” killings to silence dissenters rendered them purveyors of terror and was ” one step too far”.  He described initiatives under way in Belgium to facilitate the taking back of control by Muslim communities, infiltrated for years by Saudi Wahhabi agents.

In February 2016, the EU adopted a non-binding resolution calling for an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia over Yemen.

“The European Parliament’s call for an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia is unprecedented and reflects growing frustration at the conduct of war in Yemen by the Saudi Air Force. Saudi Arabia is a top arms client of the UK and France, and there is evidence that these weapons have been used in gross violations of international law in Yemen, where thousands of civilians have been killed since the start of the war in March 2015,” ~ Alyn Smith, Greens/EFA foreign affairs spokesperson. 

For the US and UK however, it appears that the Military Industrial Complex profits far outweigh the value of human life in Yemen. While the flow of weapons and finance continues to flourish, they will turn a blind eye to the universal humanitarian suffering in Yemen.  The over 8000 lives lost, of which more than 2000 are children, the tens of thousands injured and without proper medical care fade into insignificance when the billion dollar arms deal glistens in front of their eyes.

The largest absolute monarchy in the world, committing heinous acts of terror globally, is given precedence over diplomatic mediation and brokering of a peace deal, a peace deal that was on the verge of being finalised just as this illegal war of aggression was launched against the people of Yemen.

Jamal Bennomar, the former UN peace envoy to Yemen, stated very openly that the warring factions were actually reaching an agreement before the first bomb hit.

“When this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis,”

As Jan Fermon stated categorically at the UNHRC this month.

“If we fail to take direct action against Saudi Arabia, nothing will change”

“Saudi Arabia is Committing Genocide in Yemen”

Last night in his speech to the nation, Yemen’s Ansarullah movement leader, Sayyed Abdul-Malik-al-Houthi said Saudi Arabia is committing genocide against the Yemeni people as it continues with its deadly aggression against the impoverished nation.

He accused the US & UK of assisting in the destruction of Yemen and the wiping out of an entire generation, including women and children that are deliberately targeted by the Saudi coalition. He implicated the UN, whom he said only draw up charters to serve oppressive and dictatorial regimes and whose silence over human rights abuses in Yemen has contributed to the suffering of the Yemeni people.

In my conversations with Ibrahim al Dalmy, Director of Al Masirah, Yemen TV, he told me

“Yemen is wounded, severely wounded, but we will never succumb to the Saudi alliance brutality and oppression.  We will resist, we will heal and we will rebuild without the help of the international community who think they can profit from the devastation they have sanctioned” 

This point was reiterated by Diane Abbott in her article:

“To fund the reconstruction of the civilian infrastructure in Yemen, largely destroyed by the Saudis with our weapons, the United Nations has asked international donors such as DFID for £1.8bn, which approximates to the profits the UK arms industry has made off Saudi’s intervention in Yemen. We must escape the cycle of selling arms to dubious regimes to sow destruction and then using the taxes on those arms sales to finance an aid budget to clean up the mess. To stop this cycle the government needs to do nothing more than obey the law.”

US and UK lawlessness is the root cause of the bloodshed in Yemen.  When national and international laws are blatantly broken by their own arbiters, the world descends into a quagmire of chaos in which only the innocent drown while the criminals benefit. War crimes and grave violations of Humanitarian law go unpunished because their perpetrators are the judge and jury.  The insanity of this dystopian system is felt most keenly by the victims of this brutal abuse whose only weapon is their solidarity and resistance against the powers who would see them eliminated in their quest for economic and geopolitical supremacy.

“Yemen is far from perfect but no country in this world is perfect.  We did not wage this war, we did not provoke this war.  For the first 40 days of the Saudi offensive, Yemen did not fire one bullet towards Saudi Arabia.  It is rank hypocrisy from Saudi Arabia to label us the aggressor.  It has always been the opposite. Saudi Arabia has always been sending its filthy elements into my country and attempting to spread its disgusting Wahabi ideology.  Whether Zaydi or Shafi we will never adopt this distorted, twisted, ugly version of Islam.

I would go so far as to state that Yemen has potential to be a model for true democracy in the Middle East.  There are 25 million people who call Yemen home.  We simply ask to be left in Peace. Is that too much to ask?” ~ Yemen: A Voice in the Wilderness


Author Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.

READ MORE YEMEN NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Yemen Files





Putin & Assad have freed Syria from the unholy U.S.-jihadist alliance – WRITTEN BY ERIC ZUESSE


It has been an alliance between the leaderships of U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE; but, regardless of whether it’s called “the U.S. alliance” or “the Saudi alliance,” or even (possibly) “the Turkish alliance” (and it could be called by any of those three names), it’s the jihadist alliance, and it now seems to be near its final defeat, by, quite clearly, the Russian alliance: Russian air power has enabled the Syrian army (called the SAA or “Syrian Arab Army”) of Bashar al-Assad, plus Lebanon’s Shiite warriors (called “Hezbollah”), plus organization by Iran’s generals, to exterminate thousands of ISIS jihadists. The pro-Syrian alliance, under Russian air-power, are now making final preparations to finish the job, in the Syrian headquarters of ISIS — the city of Raqqa, where ISIS’s “Caliph” is, who could soon be meeting his end.

This major military victory, in Palmyra — the center of the Jihadist-controlled region of Syria (and located south of Raqqa, separated from it only by desert) — was announced on Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016, by the website Syrian Perspective (one of the world’s two great news-sites covering the Syrian war, the other being Al Masdar News), as they headlined, “Palmyra Liberated! General Ayyoob Reviews Troops in Aftermath of Enormous Victory; What’s Next?” Reporter Ziad Fadel opened:

HOMS: The rats inside were finally given the go-ahead to withdraw to Al-Sukhna, Al-Raqqa and Dayr El-Zor, but not by the rodent commanders in Al-Raqqa. This was a desperate order by Abu-Ihaab Al-‘Iraaqi, the local commander who, evidently, values his life on earth a lot more than what was promised to him by the shamans of ISIS This morning at 5:00 a.m., the SAA had confirmation from sources inside the city that the piece-meal escape was taking place. The Syrian high command ordered troops to stand down until the last rodent had left, after which time the SAAF and RuAF would take to the skies to see how many of the stragglers could be exterminated. It’s over.

The Syrian and Russian Air Forces have been directed into the air to block any movement of terrorist ISIS rodents to any area considered a stronghold. This means that no deal was ever struck between the army and the murderers inside the city. Instead, what happened was the army was commanded to permit a withdrawal with the understanding that escaped rats would still be targets once the city was liberated. As I write, SAA engineers are everywhere inside the city removing IEDs, booby-traps and mines. It’s a thankless task replete with danger, but, it must be done in order to return the population to a safe city.

He went on to explain that the head of SAA’s Special Forces unit, called “Tiger Forces,” “is very keen on being the leader of the force which will liberate Al-Raqqa and his forces to the east of Aleppo are preparing for exactly that.”

The key question now is whether a deal can be reached with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s leader or “Caliph,” in Raqqa — a deal which won’t require the entire population of Raqqa to be massacred, in order for the Russian alliance to eliminate all of ISIS’s leadership, and all of its jihadists there. Ideally, some way will be found to salvage at least some of the civilian population who are being held, essentially as slaves, by ISIS. However, Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, has stated, on several occasions, that what’s most essential is for the jihadists in Syria, and in Iraq, to be killed where they are — not allowed to escape to become terrorist cells in Russia or anywhere else (as has been happening, though not on the huge scale that would result if Baghdadi and his jihadists are allowed to escape.

In a related event that also signals the defeat of the terrorist alliance, Middle East Eye, yet another of the key independent reporting sites regarding the war in Syria — and specializing on the entire Middle Eastern region — headlined on Friday the 25th of March, “Jordan’s King Accuses Turkey of Sending Terrorists to Europe,” and David Hearst reported:

King Abdullah of Jordan accused Turkey of exporting terrorists to Europe at a top level meeting with senior US politicians in January, the MEE can reveal.

The king said Europe’s biggest refugee crisis was not an accident, and neither was the presence of terrorists among them: “The fact that terrorists are going to Europe is part of Turkish policy and Turkey keeps on getting a slap on the hand, but they are let off the hook.”

Asked by one of the congressmen present whether the Islamic State group was exporting oil to Turkey, Abdullah replied: “Absolutely.”

In other words: the U.S. alliance is coming apart, at least at the edges, when the reality becomes revealed — despite the long hiding of this fact on the part of Western ‘news’ media — that the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari-Turkish-UAE-Israeli alliance has been supporting jihadist Sunni groups in order to weaken the only non-Sunni-run nations in the Middle East, Syria and Iran, both of which (and Syria’s government is more properly to be called non-sectarian than Shiite, because the Ba’athist Party, which has been leading Syria since the 1950s, is ideologically committed to secularism and against sectarianism of any type, neither Shiite nor Sunni nor any) have allied themselves with Russia, instead of with the U.S.

The origin of the CIA aspect of this operation was well covered in an extraordinary BBC documentary in 1992, and the broader aristocratic operation was reported in my article, “The Two Contending Visions of World Government.” During Obama’s Presidency, one of the major physical battlefields in this global war has been in Syria; another, in Ukraine, Obama’s coup there, was well covered here.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Comment: Not a moment too soon for the Syrian people.

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Sott Exclusive: Wakey Wakey! People of the World! – WRITTEN BY SOTT

Roman Ruins, Palmyra

Hello ordinary people of the world! How are you? Are you awake? Are you watching what’s going on on your planet? Or have you given up already? It’s actually very important to stay alert to global events, and I don’t just mean taking note of what Western political talking heads say. I mean taking careful note of what’s actually happening in the world, and noticing when what happens appears to directly contradict what your political leaders say.

Specifically today, I’d like to know if any of you have noticed that the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria has been liberated by the Syrian army? And if you have noticed, do you understand what it means?

You may recall hearing that ISIS had taken control of Palmyra last year, and of the significant fears that the jihadis might destroy much of the impressive Roman ruins there. As part of the West’s “Christian” historical heritage, you might have thought that the threat of a gang of extremist Muslims destroying those ruins would provide lots of motivation for Western governments to move in to rout the infidels and protect the city.

Bizarrely however, not only did Western governments largely ignore the capture of Palmyra, the general response of US and European politicians to the impressive advance of ISIS across Syria and Iraq over the last 2 years has been to engage in lots of hand-wringing and issue warnings of the dire threat that these grotesque caricatures of Muslims pose to you and your children. I think it’s fair to say that the general impression given to Western populations was that, despite their military bases, long-term presence in the Middle East and vast military machines, there was nothing NATO countries could do to impede the march of the jihadis.

If you recall, the US and its allies had no problem delivering ‘shock and awe’ to Iraq and then occupying the country for 10 years with hundreds of thousands of US troops and mercenaries, yet we are asked to believe that Western powers were completely impotent in the face of a relatively small band of cutthroats as they rampaged across Syria, killing and maiming Syrians and sending millions fleeing towards Europe in the process.

You’ll agree, that narrative is a little difficult to swallow.

So it really is a bit perplexing to realize that all it took was 6 months of Russian bombing of ISIS targets in Syria and direct support for the Syrian army in its fight for national sovereignty to render ISIS no longer a significant military threat in Syria or Iraq, for 500 towns and villages to be liberated – including Palmyra – and a peace process – established largely by Russia – to be established.

You would almost think that Western governments didn’t really want to do anything about ISIS and their march across Syria and Iraq or the threat they pose to the people of European countries, as evidenced by recent bombings in Paris and Brussels.

When you consider what I have said, and the fact that the dominant rhetoric of Western politicians has been about getting rid of Assad, and you remind yourself of the mainstream media stories about the CIA, Saudi Arabia and Qatar arming the “rebels” in Syria, and throw in the repeated demonization of Russia by Western governments, what rational and unemotional conclusion do we draw about the situation in Syria (and the Middle East in general) as it has evolved over the past few years? Or perhaps a better question is, is it possible that Western politicians might be saying one thing about ‘Islamic terrorists’ in public, and acting in a very different way towards that problem in private?

Is it possible, even, that Western political leaders might see the threat and commission of Islamic terror bombings as a useful tool for enhancing their control over Western society? Let’s face it, the direct result of such bombings is the increase of a police state infrastructure in Western nations. The only question left fully unanswered is if the political ‘elite’ in the West are troubled by this lurch towards totalitarianism, or if they are actively supporting it.

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Settlers armed to prevent Palestinians using their farmland – WRITTEN BY MEM


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Israeli man teaches using a gun[File photo]

Israeli authorities have trained Jewish settlers to use arms in order to prevent Palestinians from working on their farms or building new houses near illegal West Bank settlements, Israeli newspaper Haaretz revealed yesterday. According to the paper, Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank have formed a volunteer policing unit to combat what they call the “Palestinian takeover of Gush land.”

Haaretz said that members of the unit recently underwent police training. It pointed out that the group is to prevent Palestinians from working on their farms or building on their lands near the Jewish settlements of Kfar Adumim, Nofei Prat, Alon and Mitzpe Yericho.

The group of settlers also coordinate with the Jerusalem Periphery Forum, the objective of which is to prevent Palestinian construction on both sides of Highway 1 – between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jericho.

The group’s Facebook page said that work on the joint project with the police has been in place for a long time and now “conditions have ripened for setting it in motion.”

“We will operate the unit to maintain security and guard the land of the Gush in full coordination with the Ma’aleh Adumim police and under their auspices,” the post said, stressing that it aims to “prevent Palestinian takeover of Gush land.”

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