Lawlessness / Ruined – part 68

Photos by the Associated Press, Graphic by Claudio Cabrerra for MintPress News

“The Valley of Death: the Saudi Coalition is Creating a Living Nightmare for African Migrants in Yemen” by Ahmed Abdulkareem (Mint Press News)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

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Over the course of the nearly five-year-long war in Yemen, U.S. bombs and shells in the hands of the Saudi-led coalition have not only devastated the lives of many Yemenis but have dashed the dreams of migrants from the Horn of Africa who have been stranded in Yemen’s nightmare since 2015, when the war began…

A combination of factors has driven hundreds of thousands like Hermala to travel through some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth in hopes of crossing the sea into war-stricken Yemen and eventually Saudi Arabia after the United States and Europe closed their doors to migrants and refugees.

This past November, Hermala traveled more than 1,000 kilometers from his home through one of the busiest maritime mixed migration routes in the world. First on buses and then later on foot, jumping the border into Djibouti, he trekked through mountains, sandstorms, and high temperatures, surviving on crumbs of bread and unclean water…

Despite the ongoing war and the escalating humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the past four years have seen a spike in the number of arrivals of East African refugees and migrants to Yemen. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said that almost 90,000 East Africans, 90 percent of them Ethiopian, have arrived in Yemen since April. However, more than 150,000 migrants arrived in Yemen in 2018, a 50 percent increase from the year before…

In Southeastern Yemen, a region under the total control of Saudi and Emirati forces, migrants face extreme risks and serious human rights violations including torture, extortion, and sexual and physical abuse…

Reports from Human Rights Watch and other groups confirm that migrants are routinely tortured and abused by traffickers and officials in Southeastern Yemen. The Saudi-led coalition and its allies have tortured, raped and executed migrants and asylum seekers from the Horn of Africa in detention centers in the port cities of Aden and Lahj, according to reports by Human Rights Watch…

Although themselves facing famine, local residents provide refugees with clean water and food when possible. Through an eclectic mix of broken English and Arabic, refugees who spoke to MintPress said: “Yemenis are hospitable, they do not mind us passing through their areas or staying in them.” Others recounted how residents provided them with food and clothing and told them “the right way to Saudi Arabia.” Yemen has long been a host nation for refugees, indeed, it is the only country in the Arabian Peninsula that is a signatory to the Refugee Convention and its protocol.
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What a hellish world when desperate people trying to survive are forced to run the gauntlet described in Ahmed’s above article so as to make it INTO barbaric Saudi Arabia!

“The US, the EU and Klaus Barbie” by Stephen Sefton (Tortilla con Sal via Axis of Logic)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

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In a comprehensive way, Bolivia’s coup leaders reincarnate the most sinister ghosts of Latin America and the Caribbean’s imperialist torturers and mass murderers. The religious fanaticism of coup figureheads like Camacho and Añez, abject servants of their US owners, invokes the fearsome history of colonial genocide and enslavement of indigenous populations in the name of Christ. Aping events of only forty years ago, the armed forces’ role in the coup of last November 10th reenacted the military coups of Hugo Banzer and Luis Meza. Western racism and fascism are inseparable from these sinister historical motifs of European conquest and endless US intervention.

Despite this reality, the European Parliament has just approved a resolution condemning… Nicaragua. Contrary to fact-free Western media and NGO propaganda, there is no torture in Nicaragua, no arbitrary detention or forced disappearance, no police officers deliberately fire pellets to blind protestors as in Chile, no soldiers fire from helicopters murdering indigenous protestors as in Bolivia. In Nicaragua, the authorities applied minimum force in 2018 to overcome an extremely violent, murderous coup attempt and subsequently amnestied the violent minority opposition’s murderers and torturers for the sake of peace.

Nicaragua’s minority opposition continue mounting persistent provocations because they have no national political project except to obey their US and EU country owners.
= =====

The headquarters of Kata’ib Hizbullah lies in ruins after US air attacks. (AP Photo)

“Washington escalates Mideast war threat with strikes on Iraq, Syria” by Bill Van Auken (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

(O
A wave of US airstrikes against targets in Iraq and Syria Sunday linked to elements branded by Washington as Iranian “proxies” has sharply escalated the threat of a direct military confrontation between the US and Iran.

Targeted in Sunday’s attacks were bases of Kata’ib Hizbullah, an Iraqi Shia militia that the Trump administration has blamed for a series of mortar and rocket attacks on bases in Iraq where US troops are stationed. These attacks allegedly culminated Friday in the launching of 30 Katyusha rockets against an army base near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk in which one US private contractor was killed and four US military personnel were wounded.

Iraqi Prime Minister Abdel Abdul Mahdi and the country’s President Barham Salih both condemned the US attack, which they said had been carried out without any coordination with Baghdad.

A statement by Abdul Mahdi’s office said, “The prime minister described the American attack on the Iraqi armed forces as an unacceptable vicious assault that will have dangerous consequences.” The statement described the US action as “a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a dangerous escalation that threatens the security of Iraq and the region.” Abdul Mahdi reported that US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper had notified him only half an hour before the US attacks. He said he had asked him to call off the raids and had attempted to warn the militia, part of the Popular Mobilization Forces which Baghdad regards as part of its armed forces.

President Salih similarly said he had been notified shortly before the attacks by a US diplomatic official and had unsuccessfully called for them to be aborted. He described the strikes as “unacceptable” and in violation of security agreements between the US and Iraq.
O)

Craig Murray

“Lies, the Bethlehem Doctrine, and the Illegal Murder of Soleimani” by Craig Murray (Craig Murray)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

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In one of the series of blatant lies the USA has told to justify the assassination of Soleimani, Mike Pompeo said that Soleimani was killed because he was planning “Imminent attacks” on US citizens. It is a careful choice of word. Pompeo is specifically referring to the Bethlehem Doctrine of Pre-Emptive Self Defence.

Developed by Daniel Bethlehem when Legal Adviser to first Netanyahu’s government and then Blair’s, the Bethlehem Doctrine is that states have a right of “pre-emptive self-defence” against “imminent” attack. That is something most people, and most international law experts and judges, would accept. Including me.

What very few people, and almost no international lawyers, accept is the key to the Bethlehem Doctrine – that here “Imminent” – the word used so carefully by Pompeo – does not need to have its normal meanings of either “soon” or “about to happen”. An attack may be deemed “imminent”, according to the Bethlehem Doctrine, even if you know no details of it or when it might occur. So you may be assassinated by a drone or bomb strike – and the doctrine was specifically developed to justify such strikes – because of “intelligence” you are engaged in a plot, when that intelligence neither says what the plot is nor when it might occur. Or even more tenuous, because there is intelligence you have engaged in a plot before, so it is reasonable to kill you in case you do so again.

I am not inventing the Bethlehem Doctrine. It has been the formal legal justification for drone strikes and targeted assassinations by the Israeli, US and UK governments for a decade. Here it is in academic paper form, published by Bethlehem after he left government service (the form in which it is adopted by the US, UK and Israeli Governments is classified information).
-=(

“Democrats fault Trump on strategy, silent on illegality of Suleimani assassination” by Patrick Martin (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

[[((
The Democrats competing for the party’s presidential nomination to replace Donald Trump issued statements after the killing of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani generally denouncing the victim of the US state killing while faulting Trump for not embedding the murder of Suleimani in a broader strategy for promoting US imperialist interests in the Middle East.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, campaigning in Iowa for the February 3 caucuses, the first contest in the campaign for the Democratic nomination, said that Suleimani “deserved to be brought to justice,” but that Trump had “tossed a stick of dynamite into a tinderbox, and he owes the American people an explanation of the strategy and the plan” going forward.

“We could be on the brink of a major conflict across the Middle East,” Biden, who leads in national polls among the Democratic contenders, said in Dubuque. “I hope the administration has thought through the second- and third-order consequences of the path they have chosen. But I fear this administration has not demonstrated at any turn the discipline or long-term vision necessary.”

Senator Bernie Sanders was the only top Democratic candidate to flatly describe the killing of Suleimani as an assassination and to connect Trump’s actions to previous acts of American military aggression, both in Vietnam and in Iraq. “This is a dangerous escalation that brings us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East, which would cost countless lives and trillions more dollars and lead to even more death, more conflict, more displacement in that already highly volatile region of the world,” he said.

But Sanders placed that criticism in the context of praising the foreign policy of the Obama administration, the first in US history to be at war every day for eight years. Obama massively expanded the use of drone-fired missiles to carry out targeted murders, the method employed by Trump against Suleimani.

Sanders is well aware of the deep-seated opposition to imperialist war among working people. On Friday, he and Representative Ro Khanna of California introduced legislation that would deny funding for US military attacks on Iran without a congressional vote. They issued an accompanying statement declaring, “It will ultimately be the children of working class families who will have to fight and die in a new Middle East conflict—not the children of the billionaire class.”

This antiwar posturing is an empty gesture, given that Congress will never vote on the legislation and Trump would ignore it if it passed, just as he has ignored restrictions on the use of military funding to build the wall on the US-Mexico border. The bill was introduced only to give the Democrats a “left” cover after they voted overwhelmingly to approve the record $738 billion military budget sought by Trump…

Not one of the Democratic presidential candidates characterized the state assassination as a criminal action or suggested that this charge should become the basis for the impeachment and removal of Trump.
))]]

Are Americans ruined or what? With what we, who are paying even just minimal attention, know about Biden’s criminality, especially in connection with Ukraine, a picture is painted of a criminal and psychopath many times over. Is it true that Biden leads the pack of Democratic Party candidates for the 2020 election? And there’s sheep-dog Bernie in action!

“Canadian government tacitly endorses US assassination of Iranian general Soleimani” by Roger Jordan (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

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Canada’s Liberal government has effectively endorsed the illegal and provocative assassination by the United States of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, which amounts to a declaration of war against Tehran. Just hours after US President Trump ordered a drone strike to exterminate the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force at Baghdad international airport, the Canadian government issued a statement denouncing Iranian “aggression” in the Middle East and cynically appealing for de-escalation.

Washington’s calculated murder of Soleimani, who is widely seen as the second most powerful figure in Tehran, and seven other people was a war crime and reckless act of state terrorism. Reflecting the descent into criminality of American foreign policy, which is driven by its deepening geostrategic crisis in the Middle East, Trump openly boasted of having “terminated” Soleimani, who he alleged was the “number one terrorist anywhere in the world.” Over the weekend, he issued a chilling threat of further attacks, declaring that the US has selected 52 Iranian targets to be obliterated, including cultural institutions…

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who never loses an opportunity in highly choreographed appearances to publicly tout his “progressive” credentials, has not uttered a single word about the state murder of a senior foreign military and political official by Canada’s closest ally, one, moreover, which was carried out in blatant violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

In a cowardly and cynical statement released just hours after Soleimani’s murder, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne avoided directly addressing Soleimani’s killing. Instead, Champagne declared, “Canada has long been concerned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, led by Qasem Soleimani, whose aggressive actions have had a destabilizing effect in the region and beyond.”

Striking a hypocritical pose of diplomacy and neutrality, Champagne went on, “We call on all sides to exercise restraint and pursue de-escalation. Our goal is and remains a united and stable Iraq.”

In a cynical attempt to exploit widespread popular opposition to war and the thuggish actions of the Trump administration, New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh criticized Soleimani’s killing. The assassination, Singh wrote on Twitter, has “brought us closer to another disastrous war in the Middle East.” He appealed to Trudeau to “act quickly with other countries to de-escalate the situation and not be drawn into the path that President Trump is taking.”

These empty bromides will have no impact on the NDP’s steadfast support for Trudeau’s minority Liberal government, as shown by the NDP’s recent backing for the Liberals in their first parliamentary confidence vote. The NDP’s support for the Trudeau government is based on the party’s endorsement of Trudeau’s vast rearmament program, which includes an increase in military spending of more than 70 percent by 2026. The ruling elite views the strengthening of Canada’s armed forces as essential if Canadian imperialism is to share in the spoils of US-led military aggression around the world, including in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and Eastern Europe.
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I want to throw up!

From Mondoweiss:
U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo visits troops in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 9, 2018. (State Department photo/ Public Domain)

“Trump Threatens Afghan Armageddon: U.S. ‘plans’ for the Afghan War might prove a crime against humanity” by Nick Turse (Mondweiss)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

(+
On February 4, 2002, a Predator drone circled over Afghanistan’s Paktia province, near the city of Khost. Below was al-Qaeda’s founder Osama bin Laden — or at least someone in the CIA thought so — and he was marked for death. As Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld put it later, both awkwardly and passively: “A decision was made to fire the Hellfire missile. It was fired.” That air-to-ground, laser-guided missile — designed to obliterate tanks, bunkers, helicopters, and people — did exactly what it was meant to do.

As it happened, though (and not for the first time in its history either), the CIA got it wrong. It wasn’t Osama bin Laden on the receiving end of that strike, or a member of al-Qaeda, or even of the Taliban. The dead, local witnesses reported, were civilians out collecting scrap metal, ordinary people going about their daily work just as thousands of Americans had been doing at the World Trade Center only months earlier when terror struck from the skies.

In the years since, those Afghan scrap collectors have been joined by more than 157,000 war dead in that embattled land. That’s a heavy toll, but represents just a fraction of the body count from America’s post-9/11 wars…

“I have plans on Afghanistan that, if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth. It would be gone,” the president remarked prior to a July 2019 meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. “If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people.” In September, he ramped up the rhetoric — and the death toll — further. “We’ve been very effective in Afghanistan,” he said. “And if we wanted to do a certain method of war, we would win that very quickly, but many, many, really, tens of millions of people would be killed.”

If America’s commander-in-chief is to be believed, plans and methods are already in place for a mass killing whose death toll could, at a minimum, exceed those of the Holocaust, the Cambodian genocide, the Rwandan genocide, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, the Hundred Years’ War, and the American Revolution combined — and all in a country where the Pentagon believes there are only 40,000 to 80,000 Taliban fighters and fewer than 2,000 Islamic State militants.
+)

Nick Turse is knowledgeable, but he’s connected with the fake progressive outlet “TomDispatch,” and perhaps that helps to explain some nonsense we find in his otherwise revealing article. Does he really think Donald Trump or any American President can be brought before any international criminal court? The following is the comment I attached to the above linked-to article on Mondoweiss:

[([(
“According to a study by the Costs of War Project of Brown University’s Watson Institute, as many as 801,000 people, combatants and noncombatants alike, have been killed in those conflicts. That’s a staggering number, the equivalent of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. But if President Donald Trump is to be believed, the United States has “plans” that could bury that grim count in staggering numbers of dead.”

Why does Nick Turse spout this establishment line about Rwandan casualties? I know, absolutely, that Nick knows better. He’s far, far too informed.

I hope that Mondoweiss, and Mondoweiss readers, know about Edward Herman and accept his credentials as a solid progressive. Noam Chomsky, who worked with Herman on “The Manufacturing Of Consent,” may have gone over to the dark side with his pro imperialist sentiments in regard to Turkey and Syria and the Kurds, but I know of no such defection by (the late) Edward Herman. In his book titled “Enduring Lies,” co-authored with David Peterson, Edward Herman wrote:

(+
A very serious ongoing research project named GenoDynanics, led by Christian Davenport and Allan Stam of the University of Michigan’s Political Science Department, more conservatively estimates that “around 500,000” persons perished during the April – July 1994 period. But more disturbing to the advocates for the standard model, these researchers also draw the important conclusion that a much greater number of Hutu die in Rwanda in 1994 than Tutsi. To this they add the important point, equally disturbing to advocates for the standard model, that the higher the total number of total deaths in Rwanda, the greater the disparity between the relative (greater) number of Hutu and Tutsi deaths will also turn out to be. Finally, they have been arguing for at least the past ten years that spikes in civilian casualties correlated with surges in RPF advances during the April – July, 1994 period.
+)
)])]

Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei and Hassan Nasrallah and Qasem Soleimani

“Iranian and Hezbollah leaders condemn attacking civilians as Trump threatens to bomb cultural sites” by Ben Norton (The Grayzone)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

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If you listened only to the rhetoric of the United States government, you might think that fighters from the Iranian government and Lebanese armed group Hezbollah are bloodthirsty terrorists hellbent on attacking Americans anywhere, from shopping malls in Minneapolis to airports in New York.

But in reality, their leaders have repeatedly called for protecting civilians and retaliating exclusively against military targets. Meanwhile the US commander-in-chief, Donald Trump, has openly threatened to carry out war crimes against Iranian cultural sites.

Donald Trump’s January 3 drone strike killing Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani and major Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis ignited a global firestorm of outrage. This clear act of war took out senior military leaders who were beloved in their respective countries, where they were seen as war heroes for the roles in the defeat of ISIS.

Trump’s attack was immediately denounced by the United Nation’s top expert on extrajudicial executions, special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, who said the assassinations “are most likely unlawful and violate international human rights law.”

On January 4, the US president tweeted threats to carry out explicit war crimes by targeting Iranian cultural sites. His sadistic vows brought to mind some of the most notorious crimes committed Wahhabi extremist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.

“If Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD,” Trump tweeted.

Speaking to reporters the next day, Trump repeated his threat. “We’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way,” he said.

Media outlets quickly pointed out that such attacks are blatantly illegal and clear war crimes under international law.
-)|

What disturbs me about Ben’s article is his mention of Agnes Callamard’s statement about Trump’s murder of Qasem Soleimani as “most likely” unlawful and a violation of international law. There’s no ‘most likely’ about it.

“Ruin”

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