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Sunday, April 26, 2015

The USS George Washington, to waters offshore of Yemen was not specifically for the purpose of intercepting arms - More Lies from the Saudi and Israeli Lobby and their minions in the US Media about Iran

PORTER: That's possible that there's some people involved in training. But I think that that needs to be distinguished from two, two points. Or two questions. One, have the Iranians actually been providing arms to the Houthis, and particularly over the last seven or eight months since the Houthis entered Sana'a and took control? And secondly, are the Houthis actually following Iranian orders? Are they proxies of the Iranians in the sense that the Iranians are pulling the strings? And in my view the evidence now is very strong that both of those questions have to be answered with a negative.

AIPAC’s “No One Wants War” in Iran Claim Debunked 

After Iran and world powers announced a framework agreement last week laying out guidelines for a final nuclear deal due by the end of June, opponents of a deal went immediately on the defensive. One group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was perhaps the most explicit. Their next-day “memo” reportedly circulated in temples over Passover, one of the many famous policy documents they release to activists framed opposition to the framework agreement as rebuttals to arguments in favor of it.
I’ll leave the parsing of all the talking points to someone else, except to note that some of them present straw-men arguments (no one, for instance, has made the “Iran Can Be Trusted Argument”) and some collapse under even basic comparisons to what the agreement entails (pushing back on the “Increased Access Argument” must be difficult, since the framework would clearly increase access for inspections).
One of the arguments, however, caught my eye. The talking point was presented this way:
Critics Want War Argument: Congressional critics, Israel, the pro-Israel movement, and the Sunni Arab neighbors of Iran all want war with Iran, not an agreement.
Response: No one wants war. This argument is outrageous and meant to silence and delegitimize any critics of the deal. Each of these parties wants a diplomatic solution that truly guarantees Iran’s nuclear program can only be used for peaceful purposes. They all fear that an agreement based on the current framework’s parameters won’t meet that test and will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
The problem with saying “no one wants war” is of course that some people do want war. These include some congressional critics, some Israeli officials, some in the pro-Israel movement and some of Iran’s Sunni Arab neighbors. None acts as a monolith, but their beautiful diversity definitely includes some warmongers.
AIPAC, moreover, surely knows this. Sheldon Adelson, a sometime AIPAC funder and partner who remains a major force in the “pro-Israel movement” has for example called for nuking Iran. The group’s stable of regular speakers at fundraisers and events includes several figures who have, indeed, called for war with Iran. Just consider a January AIPAC fundraiser in New York, headlined by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and former Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I/D-CT)—both of whom have at some point called for military strikes. As Lieberman once boasted, there is a “broad bipartisan base of support” for such an attack.
The most glaring example along these lines comes from an AIPAC “Club” event in Florida at the end of March. The speaker there was Joshua Muravchik, a neoconservative scholar at Hopkins. That appearance came just over a week after Muravchik published a case for war with Iran in The Washington Post—following similar calls in 2006200720082011, and 2014.

AIPAC can pretend “no one wants war,” but that’s just not true. One need only consult a long list of those associated with the lobby group itself to see that some do indeed “want war with Iran, not an agreement.” If they’re going to make fact-based arguments, AIPAC should stake out its opposition to its own associates, not deny the facts of their positions

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Who Is Responsible For The Libyan Migrant Crisis? FUKUS

UKIP leader Nigel Farage says David Cameron's involvement in the toppling of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 is a direct cause of the migration disasters in the Mediterranean. Is he correct?
In a BBC interview, Mr Farage blamed the "fanaticism of (former French President) Sarkozy and Cameron to bomb Libya", for destabilising the country. 
The coalition against the Gaddafi regime brought together a range of world powers. On 17 March 2011 - after the Gaddafi regime's brutal crackdown on protesters inspired by the Arab Spring - the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1973 authorising "all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya. It was swiftly followed by the Nato-led military intervention that was backed by many European states, the US and Arab countries. And in the UK, there was all-party support for the UN action, with Parliament voting 557 to 13 in favour. So although as prime minister, David Cameron led the UK into the coalition and was happy to join President Sarkozy in a victory lap through Libya, it would be unfair to say he was wholly responsible for the events that lead to Gaddafi's fall. 
However, the international community's failure to maintain a commitment to Libya after the removal of Colonel Gaddafi has undoubtedly been a factor in the continuing destabilisation of the country. Currently, two parallel governments lay claim to rule Libya, and the country is overrun with rival militias exploiting the political vacuum. In this environment, migrants have been able to move freely, and the human traffickers operate with impunity. Libya is a key port of entry and departure as it has 1,200 miles (1,900km) of Mediterranean coastline and land borders shared with six countries. 
In the final years of the Gaddafi regime, several agreements were signed with European Union states to control migration from Libyan shores, all of which lapsed after the regime collapsed. Before 2011, migration to Europe across the Mediterranean was in the low tens of thousands. In 2011, it increased to 63,017 and by 2014 there were 219,000 reported to have made the crossing.
In November 2013, Italy started a search-and-rescue operation in the Mediterranean in response to the drowning of more than 300 migrants off the Italian island of Lampedusa. The mission was mainly paid for by Italy. Italy stopped the mission in November 2014 and the EU decided to replace it with a much smaller mission, which is a border control mission not a search-and-rescue operation. Following the change, there has been an increase in migrant deaths at sea. Following this week's tragedy the prime minster has pledged to support EU efforts to step up search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean.
While the upsurge in migrants choosing to leave Libyan shores is driven by the anarchic situation in the country, a look at who is taking to the boats tells us a wider story about the people on the move. The migrants are not just from Libya, but from across the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and the Asian sub-continent, with a multitude of reasons to leave such as war, poverty or simply the search for a better life. All of which suggests that the perfect storm in the Mediterranean is hard to lay at the feet of one politician in Northern Europe.

Turkey and the history of the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Turks

Armenia marks centenary of mass killings by Ottoman Turks

Ceremonies have been held in Armenia and around the world to mark the centenary of the start of mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks.
The presidents of France and Russia joined other leaders for the memorial in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.
Armenia says up to 1.5 million people died, a figure disputed by Turkey.
Turkey strongly objects to the use of the term genocide to describe the killings and the issue has soured relations between the nations.
Turkey accepts that atrocities were committed but argues there was no systematic attempt to destroy the Christian Armenian people. It says many innocent Muslim Turks also died in the turmoil of war.
A memorial service was held in Turkey on Friday and its prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said the country would "share the pain" of Armenians. But he reiterated Turkey's stance that the killings were not genocide.

Turkey also hosted ceremonies on Friday to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Gallipoli.
However, the actual fighting there began on 25 April, and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has accused Turkey of "trying to divert world attention" from the Yerevan commemorations.

'Never again'

After a flower-laying ceremony in Yerevan, Mr Sargsyan addressed the guests, saying: "I am grateful to all those who are here to once again confirm your commitment to human values, to say that nothing is forgotten, that after 100 years we remember."
In his address, French President Francois Hollande said: "We will never forget the tragedies that your people have endured."
France has been a strong advocate of recognising the killings as genocide and President Hollande has pushed for a law to punish genocide denial.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described the killings as "one of the most tragic disasters in the history of humankind" which "shook the whole world".
"There cannot be any justification for mass murder of people," he said. "Today we mourn together with the Armenian people."
Commemorations in Yerevan drew to a close with a candlelit procession. People carried flowers to the city's memorial late into the evening. 
  • In Lebanon - home to one of the largest Armenian diasporas - tens of thousands of people attended a march and commemoration service in Beirut 
  • In Jerusalem, Armenian priests held a two-hour mass in the Old City. Posters outside the church called on Turkey to recognise the mass killings as genocide
  • And in Tehran, hundreds of Armenian-Iranians attended a rally from an Armenian church to the Turkish Embassy.


At the scene: BBC's Rayhan Demytrie in Yerevan


The purple forget-me-not is the symbol of the centenary. It can be seen everywhere in Yerevan: from window shops and windscreen stickers, to lapel pins that many are proudly wearing.
There is also a centenary slogan which reads "I remember and demand".
But what is it that the Armenians are demanding? I asked some of the people in Yerevan's Mashtotz Avenue.
"We demand fairness from the world community, that's it," said Sergey Martirossyan, "but for me personally it won't make any difference. What we actually need in Armenia is for the government to take serious steps towards economic growth."


Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the day the Ottoman Turkey authorities arrested several hundred Armenian intellectuals in Constantinople, today's Istanbul, most of whom were later killed. 
Armenians regard this as the beginning of the Ottoman policy of mass extermination of Christian Armenians suspected of supporting Russia, the Ottoman Empire's World War One enemy.

Lebanese Armenians march in Beirut on 24 April 2015
Tens of thousands of Lebanese-Armenians marked the centenary with a march in Beirut
Ceremonies at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial in Yerevan, 24 April
Ceremonies were held at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial in Yerevan
Francois Hollande, 24 April
France, represented by Francois Hollande, has been a strong advocate of recognising the killings as genocide

US President Barack Obama issued a carefully worded statement for the anniversary, referring to "one of the worst atrocities of the 20th Century", without using the term genocide.
During his 2008 presidential election campaign, then senator Obama had vowed to "recognise the Armenian genocide" and in his new statement said: "I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view has not changed."
However, his phrasing has angered Armenian Americans.
Bryan Ardouny, executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America, said in a statement: "President Obama's exercise in linguistic gymnastics on the Armenian genocide is unbecoming of the standard he himself set and that of a world leader today."

President Vladimir Putin at the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial in Yerevan, 24 April
President Vladimir Putin said the events of 1915 "shook the whole world"
March by Armenians in Jerusalem. 23 April 2015
Armenians around the world, like here in Jerusalem, insist the killings were genocide

German MPs are meanwhile debating a non-binding motion on the genocide issue, a day after President Joachim Gauck used the word to describe the killings.
Turkey reacted angrily to Mr Putin's address. 
"Considering the mass killings, exiles... that Russia has carried out in the Caucasus, Central Asia and in eastern Europe over the past century... we think it should be the one that knows best what a genocide is and what its legal dimensions are," a foreign ministry statement said.
Earlier this month, Turkey recalled its envoy to the Vatican after Pope Francis also used the word genocide.
In Turkey on Friday, the media largely focused on Gallipoli, but one newspaper, Cumhuriyet, carried a surprise headline in Armenian - "Never Again".
"The wounds caused by the events which took place during the Ottoman Empire are still fresh. It is time to face up to this pain which paralyses the human mind, the feeling of justice and the conscience," it said.


What happened in 1915?

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians died in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, whose empire was disintegrating. 
Many of the victims were civilians deported to barren desert regions where they died of starvation and thirst. Thousands also died in massacres.
Armenia says up to 1.5 million people were killed. Turkey says the number of deaths was much smaller.
Most non-Turkish scholars of the events regard them as genocide - as do more than 20 states, including France, Germany, Canada and Russia, and various international bodies including the European Parliament.
Turkey rejects the term genocide, maintaining that many of the dead were killed in clashes during World War One, and that many ethnic Turks also suffered in the conflict.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Shoot First And Ask No Questions Later

US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) –
The tragic deaths last January, just now being revealed, of two Western hostages in drone strikes on a relatively empty housing complex in northern Pakistan near the Afghanistan border underlines that the Obama administration is killing people from the air without knowing who they are and is killing significant numbers of innocent civilians. Just as hostages don’t move around outside so that spy cameras can observe them, so too in gender-segregated Pushtun society, women are often immured at home and so the CIA or US military who are running the drones do not know if they are in the sights.
Contrary to assurances given by President Obama a couple of years ago, the US government admits that it had no idea who it was targeting when it hit that building. Indiscriminate fire is a recognized war crime, and it seems to characterize the US drone program.
These are the figures for the US drone assassination program in Pakistan, according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism:
Total strikes: 415
Obama strikes: 364
Total killed: 2,449-3,949
Civilians killed: 423-962
Children killed: 172-207
Injured: 1,144-1,722
That is, as many as a fourth of those killed by US drone assassinations are non-combatants.
Death by drone is inherently lawless. There is no constitutional or legal framework within which the US government can blow people away at will. For a while in the 1970s through 1990s, assassination was outlawed.
Now it is back, but has taken this freakish form where bureaucrats thousands of miles away fire missiles from large toy airplanes. The US is not at war with Pakistan, so this action is not part of a war effort. You can’t be at war with an organization– a state of war has a technical legal definition.
The US government maintains that it is only shooting when it sees a high value target. This is a lie. They had no idea who was in the building. The US government maintains that it kills hardly any local civilians with its drone assassinations, whereas journalists on the ground find evidence of substantial non-combatant deaths. The killing of Warren Weinstein and Giovanni Lo Porto is not just a tragedy; it reveals the US assassination technique for the world to see.
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