Thought Obama was the saviour? Don't be a fool. He is no different to all other post-war Presidents:
Barack Obama's government was accused of "blackmail" after it emerged that America had threatened to withdraw co-operation in terrorist cases if a UK court ordered the disclosure of secret torture evidence.
In the first real test of the "special relationship" between Britain and the US since Mr Obama's inauguration, MPs and human rights groups called for an inquiry into the case that concerns the treatment of a British resident, Binyam Mohamed, still being held at Guantanamo Bay.
Secret CIA documents held by the Foreign Office detail the interrogation and treatment of Mr Mohamed, who claims he was brutally tortured after being flown by US agents to a secret prison in Morocco before his detention at the US naval base in Cuba.
Good work Messiah.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Thought Obama was the saviour? Don't be a fool. He is no different to all other post-war Presidents:
Monday, June 02, 2008
Despite dominating the world media for many years, many aspects of the Israel/Palestine conflict remain hidden from view. Quite often, contemporary events are not placed in context. No background is given, no explanation is outlined. Large chunks of the history of the conflict are ignored or cast aside as irrelevant. As is the case in reporting of many events across the world, what is left out is nearly always as interesting as what is left in.
Take the rise of Hamas, for example. Hamas is frequently referred to as a terrorist organisation that has a destabilising influence across the Middle East. Western critics often refer to the organisation as an impediment to peace rather than an aid. However, the history of Hamas is clouded in mystery and obscured from any discussion relating to progress in the region. It is, of course, obscured for very good reason - it underlines the duplicity of Western foreign policy within the region. A duplicity that goes some way to explaining why the conflict is so complex and remains some distance from resolution.
Arab nationalism was seen as a threat to Western hegemony throughout the region in the 1950s and 60s. Suddenly Arab leaders were gaining confidence and seeking to reclaim their resources. Underpinned with a nationalist, secular ideology, these leaders declared their refusal to bow to Western demands. The rise of Gamal Abdal Nasser in Egypt and the nationalisation of the Suez Canal, gave many Arabs hope that they were about to witness a new era of dignity and freedom. This, of course, scared the West. A populist movement that sought to reclaim its natural resources? They could see that the emergence of Arab nationalism would have a massive impact on oil supplies and thus a situation could emerge whereby the Arab nationalists would hold all the cards, rather than the West. Alongside his nationalist agenda, Nasser also played an important role in the establishment of the PLO, a secular organisation reflecting Nasser’s own particular brand of Arab nationalism. If the PLO were to be successful in negotiating a deal with the Israelis, it would have been a massive victory for Arab nationalism and would have represented a serious threat to Western hegemony. Being the Palestinians sole representative on the world stage, it also united the Palestinian people, at least until the establishment of Hamas in 1987.
However, Nasser was not without his enemies within his own country. Despite initially supporting Nasser’s coup, The Muslim Brotherhood became disillusioned with Nasser’s secularist brand of politics and, in 1954, an attempt was made on his life. After the failed assassination attempt, the Islamists who were not rounded up and arrested subsequently left to settle in Saudi Arabia where they were welcomed as an important bulwark to the rise of ‘godless Communism’. The Saudi regime was particularly disturbed by the rise of Nasser as it threatened their fundamentalist form of government and consequently threatened their influence in the region. If an alternative form of government were to gain momentum, the Saudi regime would surely fall. Consequently, during this period, the Saudi government (alongside its ally the US) continued to provide financial backing to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood continued to agitate in Egypt and engaged in ‘radical activity’ led by one Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Under Yassin’s leadership, longtime Muslim Brotherhood activists were simply redirected from promoting Islamic observance to engaging in violent anti-Israel activities. Yassin had, by this stage, established his violent anti-Israeli credentials and was clearly pursuing a more radical Islamic course compared to the more secular PLO. However, this did not prevent the Western powers from pursuing a course of engagement with Yassin and his colleagues in the Brotherhood.
During the 1980s, Yassin focused on developing a ‘charitable organisation’ within Gaza that developed a network of social-welfare organizations, mosques, and schools. It was also at this time that the US and Israel provided financial support to Yassin and his organisation, despite Yassin’s previous anti-Israeli agitation in Egypt. Ostensibly, his organisation was supported as a counter-balance to the PLO and its secular Arab nationalism, which was seen as a massive threat to Western hegemony in the region (due to the loss of control of natural resources). According to Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies, Israel:
"...aided Hamas directly -- the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization)."
A resurgence of Arab nationalism in the region was of deep concern to the United States and the growth of a radical Islamic organisation would be a useful counter-weight to the rise of nationalist secularism. This was further demonstrated by the support of radical Islamists in Afghanistan (including Osama Bin Laden) during the conflict with the Soviet Union. With a radical alternative to Arab nationalism, the Arab people would remain divided and consequently allow the US to maintain influence in the region. As one former CIA official put it, Israel's support for Hamas :
"...was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative."
Furthermore, according to US officials:
....funds for the movement came from the oil-producing states and directly and indirectly from Israel. The PLO was secular and leftist and promoted Palestinian nationalism. Hamas wanted to set up a transnational state under the rule of Islam, much like Khomeini's Iran.
Consequently, whether it was intentioned or not, it would appear that the growth of Hamas as a power bloc within the region was directly attributable to the United State and her allies. Concerned by the growth of Arab nationalism and the problems that would cause for the West in the region, the US threw in its lot with radical Islamists who would prove to be a useful barrier to the rise of Soviet supported, secular regimes within the region. Despite the background of Yassin in Egypt, both Israel and the US had no problem with supplying funds and offering their support to Yassin’s ‘charitable organisation’. Thus the combination of Israel and the US managed to ensure that the Palestinian people were divided between a secular organisation prepared to do business with Israel (the PLO recognised Israel in 1993 as part of the Declaration of Principles), and a radical Islamic organisation that took a less compromising position regarding peace in the region. And yet, the covert support by the US government for radical Islamic groups over the years has remained firmly outside of the scope of the mainstream media’s assessment of the situation in the Middle East. Yet how can we understand the situation in the Middle East if we do not understand how it was created? The rise of Islamic fundamentalism is tied to the West’s attempts to assert hegemony throughout the region and ensure it remains the dominant force on the global stage. Ironic that the forces they utilised to ensure their dominance are now the very forces that threaten to demolish it.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Quite frankly, a bizarre front page on the BBC Americas page:
Yes, 'Bush hopes for new baseball era' - an earth shattering story I'm sure you will agree. One wonders why any of the following alternatives weren't chosen (all from the Americas pages on the BBC):
US House limits CIA interrogation
The US House of Representatives has approved a bill that would ban the CIA from using harsh interrogation techniques such as simulated drowning.
The measure would require intelligence agencies to follow the rules adopted by the US Army, which forbid such methods, and to abide by the Geneva Conventions.
President George Bush has threatened to veto the bill if the Senate passes it.
The move came a day after the CIA's director was questioned about the wiping of videotaped interrogations.
Gen Michael Hayden told a congressional intelligence committee that he had no prior knowledge of plans to destroy the tapes and that his organisation "could have done an awful lot better" in keeping Congress informed on the issue.
US Iraq fraud office investigated
The office which investigates cases of waste and fraud surrounding reconstruction efforts in Iraq is being investigated itself, reports say.
Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, and his team are the focus of four probes, among them one by the FBI, US media reports.
His office has been accused of waste and overspending, allegations now being presented to a US grand jury.
New Jersey scraps death penalty
Lawmakers in the US state of New Jersey have approved a bill abolishing the death penalty.
In a 44-36 vote, the Democrat-run state assembly replaced the death sentence with life in prison without parole.
The bill is expected to be signed into law by Democratic Governor Jon Corzine - an opponent of the death penalty.
The move would make New Jersey the first US state to abolish capital punishment since the US Supreme Court reinstated executions in 1976.
And there's even the news that America is desperately trying to undermine the conference in Bali. Still, I guess all these things aren't as important as baseball, right?
Friday, November 30, 2007
With the upcoming referendum in Venezuela, there has been the usual talk of opposition to Hugo Chavez. The Guardian had a short taster (sadly this 'taster' is not available on the website, so you will have to take my word for it) on the front page yesterday insinuating that Chavez was attempting to stay in power until 2030, when all he is proposing is the exact same rules that apply to our Prime Minister ie he can stand for election as many times as he likes. The BBC has also weighed into the debate (remember the BBC described Chavez as a 'militant') with their latest piece about the opposition movement to Chavez:
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have protested against changes to the constitution proposed by the president.
Venezuelans are due to vote on the proposals - which include the removal of presidential term limits - in a referendum on Sunday.
Critics accuse President Hugo Chavez of a power grab, but supporters say the changes will deepen democracy.
It is the latest in a series of student-led rallies, ahead of the "yes" campaign's final march on Friday.
However, correspondents say the "no" campaign is gaining force.
No official crowd estimates were available but an opposition politician put the figure at about 160,000.
Talking up the opposition there. Of course, what the BBC (and other media outlets) fail to recognise is the situation behind the scenes. Luckily, bloggers like RickB at Ten Percent do their job for them. This from his blog [original source]:
On November 26, 2007 the Venezuelan government broadcast and circulated a confidential memo from the US embassy to the CIA which is devastatingly revealing of US clandestine operations and which will influence the referendum this Sunday… The memo sent by an embassy official, Michael Middleton Steere, was addressed to the head of the CIA, Michael Hayden. The memo was entitled ‘Advancing to the Last Phase of Operation Pincer’…
The US operatives emphasized their capacity to recruit former Chavez supporters among the social democrats (PODEMOS) and the former Minister of Defense Baduel, claiming to have reduced the ‘yes’ vote by 6% from its original margin. Nevertheless the Embassy operatives concede that they have reached their ceiling, recognizing they cannot defeat the amendments via the electoral route. The memo then recommends that Operation Pincer (OP) [Operación Tenaza] be operationalized. OP involves a two-pronged strategy of impeding the referendum, rejecting the outcome at the same time as calling for a ‘no’ vote. The run up to the referendum includes running phony polls, attacking electoral officials and running propaganda through the private media accusing the government of fraud and calling for a ‘no’ vote.
The ultimate objective of ‘Operation Pincer’ is to seize a territorial or institutional base with the ‘massive support’ of the defeated electoral minority within three or four days (before or after the elections – is not clear. JP) backed by an uprising by oppositionist military officers principally in the National Guard. The Embassy operative concede that the military plotters have run into serous problems as key intelligence operatives were detected, stores of arms were decommissioned and several plotters are under tight surveillance.
The key and most dangerous threats to democracy raised by the Embassy memo point to their success in mobilizing the private university students (backed by top administrators) to attack key government buildings including the Presidential Palace, Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council. The Embassy is especially praiseworthy of the ex-Maoist ‘Red Flag’ group for its violent street fighting activity.
So, it looks like there will be yet another attempt to instigate a coup in Venezuela. This time the claims of a power grab will be used as the pretext and the media are happy to play along. No doubt we will see a repeat of the footage that was broadcast during the last coup attempt that suggested that supporters of Chavez were firing onto groups of protesters. The truth is that the US is eager to find a way to oust Chavez due to his rising influence in the region. What scares them more than anything else is that a successful alternative to US imperialist capitalism might take hold in the Southern hemisphere and spread across the globe. One hopes that this proves to be the case.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Amnesty International calls on Poland and Romania to conduct independent, impartial and thorough investigations into new information concerning CIA flights and secret detention centres on their territories. All European governments must ensure that the truth about unlawful activities carried out by national and foreign officials in their territory or elsewhere in the context of the US-led rendition and secret detention programme is exposed.
Amnesty International makes these calls as the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is preparing to debate Senator Dick Marty’s latest report on 27 June. The report contains new information about the complicity of European governments in the CIA programme of rendition and secret detention.
Amnesty International calls on PACE to adopt the draft Resolution and Recommendation on rendition and secret detention accompanying Senator Dick Marty’s report.
PACE's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights "now considers it factually established that secret detention centres operated by the CIA have existed for some years in Poland and Romania". The delegations to the PACE of Poland and Romania have rejected these findings, but their denials remain hollow in the absence of impartial and thorough investigations.
"Europe’s political leaders must take a clear stand against rendition and secret detention, wherever they occur. The decision-making bodies of the Council of Europe and the European Union have yet to publicly condemn the US’s secret rendition and detention programme. They must demonstrate strong commitment to ending Europe’s complicity in illegal counter-terrorism practices," said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director for research at Amnesty International.
"While there have been credible efforts to investigate and ensure accountability for past violations, these have happened largely in spite of governments, rather than with their full support. Continued denial in the face of mounting evidence undermines the credibility of European governments and officials."
See also: Council of Europe: Amnesty International calls for action against renditions http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engeur100032007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Amnesty International's reaction to Council of Europe's report on renditions
In response to the second report by the Council of Europe's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, which confirms that the CIA has operated secret detention centres in Poland and Romania, and perhaps in other Council of Europe member states, Amnesty International said:
“Amnesty International applauds the report and the extraordinary investigative work undertaken by Mr. Marty’s office in getting to the well-concealed truth about the US-led secret detention program. With European complicity now clear, we believe it is time for states to take a long, hard look at how the misuse of state secrecy and national security doctrine has led them into a ‘legal and moral quagmire’, where secret detention, torture and other grave abuses can be practiced with impunity.”
The report strengthens Amnesty International’s finding that three former secret detainees, whose cases were extensively documented over a year ago, had been held in an Eastern European "black site".
Swiss Senator Dick Marty, who lead the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, has made clear that collusion with the US at the highest levels of government came not just from the countries most directly involved in the secret detention program, but from all the members and partners of NATO, who signed up to terms that allowed free reign to CIA operations. And his report deplores the fact that the concepts of state secrecy or national security are invoked by many Governments to obstruct judicial and/or parliamentary proceedings aimed at ensuring accountability of the executive in relation to grave allegations of human rights violations.
Amnesty International supports unequivocally the position that “terrorism can and must be combated by methods consistent with human rights and rule of law”, and calls for the United States and European states to end renditions and secret detention, conduct independent and thorough investigations into the practices, bring to justice those responsible for abuse and provide reparations to the victims.
AI Index: IOR 30/013/2007 8 June 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Now, here's a story about torture involving Iran that won't be plastered all over the tabloid press:
Iranian state television showed hospital images Wednesday of the Iranian diplomat who has accused the CIA of torturing him during his detention in Iraq.
State TV also reported that the Iraqi ambassador to Iran and an official from the International Committee of the Red Cross visited Jalal Sharafi in the hospital Wednesday.
Sharafi was shown in a hospital bed with injuries to his right foot, while Iraqi ambassador Majid Sheikh and Peter G. Stocker from the ICRC examined him.
During the examination, the voice of a doctor could be heard describing how Sharafi had been beaten by a cable during his detention. Claims of torture have not been independently verified.
Sharafi was kidnapped by gunmen who wore the uniforms of the Iraqi 36th Commando Battalion uniforms - a special Iraqi unit under U.S. direction. It is worth pointing out that these claims of torture are still only claims and the CIA are denying that they have had anything to do with the detention of Sharafi. Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman, claimed that:
"The United States had nothing to do with Mr Sharafi's detention and we welcome his return to Iran."
Mmmm, and an unnamed intelligence official claimed that (don't choke):
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Remember all the tough talk about the 'war on terror'? Remember when Bush said this:
"Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
This signified a shift in American foreign policy. From now on, any state that works with terrorists will be forced to face the consequences. Well, there is one state that, according to the CIA, has strong ties with terrorist organisations and has been involved in countless human rights abuses. I'm not talking about Iran, I'm talking about Colombia.
In the latest in a long line of revelations about the Colombian government, it has emerged that the CIA has 'obtained intelligence alleging that the head of Colombia's U.S.-backed army collaborated extensively with right-wing militias that Washington considers terrorist organizations'. According to the Los Angeles Times:
The intelligence about Montoya is contained in a report recently circulated within the CIA. It says that Montoya and a paramilitary group jointly planned and conducted a military operation in 2002 to eliminate Marxist guerrillas from poor areas around Medellin.
At least 14 people were killed during the operation, and opponents of Uribe allege that dozens more disappeared in its aftermath.
The intelligence report includes information from another Western intelligence service and indicates that U.S. officials have received similar reports from other reliable sources.
What complicates this matter further is that the US, alongside the UK, gives a vast amount of aid to Colombia ($700 million in the case of the US). In short, the American government is funding a terrorist organisation. A terrorist organisation that effectively runs Colombia. A terrorist organisation responsible for the deaths of thousands of Colombians. All the time receiving financial support by the American government, financial support that is unlikely to be cut off.
It would seem that under the authority of the Bush Doctrine only one course of action is possible. If those who support terrorists must be confronted, alongside the terrorists themselves, it would appear that there is only one logical conclusion to this situation. A 'coalition of the willing' must be assembled to invade Colombia and install democracy free from the influence of terrorists that threaten the stability of the region. Once that has been achieved, it is time to promote regime change in the states that continue to support the terrorists. A new kind of freedom, freedom from tyrannical regimes, can then spread across the globe. Now, all we need is someone to lead this 'coalition of the willing'. Anyone have any suggestions?