Sunday, 26 January 2020

Houthis Anticipate US Assassination Attempts, Warn US Troops Will Be Targeted in Retaliation

By Ahmed Abdulkareem
As tensions in the Middle East continue to rise, there are indications that Donald Trump’s administration is planning to carry out assassination operations against high-ranking Houthi officials inside of Yemen similar to the U.S. assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard General, Qassem Soleimani, a move likely to open the door for further escalation in the region.
On Thursday, a high ranking Houthi official in Sana’a told MintPress News on condition of anonymity that the Houthis would not hesitate to target U.S. troops in the region if the Trump administration targets its personnel inside Yemen.
The statement comes in the wake of an announcement by United States officials that the U.S. military tried, but failed, to kill another senior Iranian commander on the same day a U.S. drone strike killed Soleimani.
According to reports, a U.S. military air attack targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, a high-ranking commander in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) while he was in Yemen, but the mission was not successful. The U.S. Department of the Treasury claimed that Shahlai was based in Yemen and accused him of having “a long history of targeting Americans and US allies globally.”
Meanwhile, Yemeni activists and media pundits are expressing concerns over what they consider serious threats from Trump administration, pointing out that news of the unsuccessful assassination in Yemen should not be underestimated. Others have called on U.S. Congress to prevent any attacks on Yemeni soil and to keep U.S. soldiers in the region out of harm’s way.
The pretexts for U.S. attacks in Yemen are not without precedent. On October 13, 2016, the U.S. military announced that it had struck three coastal radar sites in Hodeida, an area of Yemen controlled by Houthi forces, in retaliation for an alleged failed missile attack on the USS Mason, a U.S. Navy destroyer. The Houthis maintain that they were not involved in any missile attacks against the Mason.
For their part, the Houthis (Ansar Allah) were clear in their warning to U.S. leaders in the wake of U.S. assassinations in Iraq, promising that U.S. troops in the Arabian Gulf or the Red Sea would be targeted without hesitation if the Trump administration attempts to target Houthi leaders in Yemen.
Yemen Soleimani assassination
The Yemeni army, which is loyal to Ansar Allah, is already preparing for anticipated U.S. attacks. Ansar Allah’s leadership has reaffirmed that their anti-U.S. position is based on a principled and ideological commitment, but historically, Ansar Allah has not directly targeted the United States or its interests in the region.
During a televised speech broadcast live on January 8 during Yemen’s martyr’s week commemoration, Abdulmalik Badr al-Din al Houthi, the leader of Ansar Allah, said that “We will no longer acquiesce to Trump’s equation in killing us and interfering in our affairs and to do nothing is no longer acceptable.” He went on to say that the Houthis’ dealings with the “carelessness of the United States which targets the nation’s leaders will be different.”
The Ansar Allah leader pointed out that if there was no U.S. support for Saudi Arabia, the war against Yemen would not have occurred, adding that the role of the United States in the war against his country includes supervision, management, political protection, destruction, and the supply of weapons.
He also warned Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from continuing their military campaign in Yemen, saying that “developments in the region are not in their interests.” Implying that the escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Iran could be used against both the United States and Saudi Arabia in some way.
The threats of Ansar Allah, a group known to strike sensitive targets without hesitation, should not be underestimated. On September 14, Yemen hit two of Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais in a retaliatory attack that the United States blamed on Iran. Now, they have developed their arsenal of ballistic missiles and drones even further and experts say are likely capable of hitting U.S. troops in the region.
According to Houthi officials in Sana’a, the Trump administration appears to be using allegations of an Iranian troop presence in Yemen, an allegation that Houthis deny, as a pretext for further military action in the country, despite no evidence to back the claim.
Furthermore, the contrast between the Houthi reaction to that of Iran’s allies in the region after the U.S. assassinated Soleimani further suggests that Iran has no significant measure of influence over the Houthi’s decision-making process.
In fact, the Houthis fiercely rejected any and all foreign attempts to influence their decisions after the assassination of Soleimani. The group, thus far, has not promised to retaliate against U.S. troops as revenge for the murder of Soleimani as Iran’s allies in the region did in near unanimity. Moreover, they treated the incident with caution and decided not to be drawn into an escalation despite angry demonstrations that took place in many of Yemen’s cities over the assassination.
However, the Houthis have signed a military cooperation deal with Iran as a result of the continued war and blockade against their country and may work with Iran to take action against U.S. troops in the region should the U.S. target Houthi leaders in Yemen. According to some strategic decision-makers in Sana’a, retaliatory attacks could take place if even a single case of a U.S. attack in Yemen were to take place.

A legacy of targeted killings

In the wake of the U.S. killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi military leader Abu Majd al- Muhandis, many Yemeni politicians fear the Trump administration could carry out similar operations against high-ranking leaders in Yemen. The Saudi-backed assassinations of former presidents Saleh al- Sammad and Ibrahim al-Hamdi, both popular figures among Yemenis, are cemented in the country’s collective memory.
On November 6, 2017, Saudi Arabia released a list of 40 names of Houthis leaders and senior figures that the Kingdom wanted dead or alive. The list was issued by the Saudi Ministry of Interior, which offered rewards of between $5 to $30 million. On April 19, 2018, former president of the SPC, Saleh al-Samad, was assassinated by Saudi airstrikes in Hodeida while preparing for a protest to statements made by the American ambassador that the Houthi-controlled city of Hodeida will fall.
Almost two years after al-Sammad’s assassination, a criminal court in Hodeida has begun the trial of U.S. President Trump along with 61 Yemenis and foreigners, all believed to be involved in the assassination of the former head of the SPC. After finding ten suspects guilty, the court held its first hearing, trying Trump and the remaining 51 foreign and Yemeni defendants in absentia in late October.
The trial, which has drawn national media attention, may only be symbolic, but it sends a clear message to the U.S. that its operations in Yemen and its ongoing complicity in the worst man-made humanitarian crisis in the world is unacceptable and will undermine U.S. foreign policy in the region.
Before his assassination, Al-Sammad was attempting to carry out a plan to rebuild Yemen into a modern, stable and democratic state by 2030. He penned the National Vision, a manifesto of 175 goals focused on independence, freedom and non-submission to foreign influence.
Yemenis’ concerns about .U.S and Saudi intentions towards their national leaders were reinforced when the Yemeni Defense Ministry revealed that both U.S intelligence and Saudi princes’ were involved in the 1977 assassination of popular Yemeni president Ibrahim al-Hamdi after he refused Washington and Riyadh’s interference in Yemen’s internal affairs.
At a press conference, Brigadier Abdullah bin Amer, a senior official at the Yemeni Defense Ministry, released important documents related to the assassination of President al-Hamdi, including the names of those involved in his murder.
Before his death, al-Hamdi was attempting to pivot Yemen away from the Saudi kingdom and the United States and build Yemen’s independence by developing it’s oil reserves and its strategic location on the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. Now, according to senior Houthi officials, Sana’a is in possession of evidence that confirms the role of President Carter’s administration and the Saudi regime in the assassination, including planning, supervising and covering up the crime, according to Brigadier bin Amer.
The Last Lunch
MintPress was shown documents allegedly exchanged between U.S. and Saudi intelligence that indicated the involvement of the United States and former Saudi Kings Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Fahd bin Abdulaziz and their brother Sultan in the assassination, but was unable to independently verify their authenticity.
According to the documents as well as witness testimony, al-Hamdi was invited to lunch at the residence of Ahmad al-Qashmi, who was the Army chief of staff under his command. During his stay there, Ali Abdullah Saleh, then a brigade commander, and one of his bodyguards entered the house. Moments after they entered, al-Hamdi was killed in a hail of bullets.
Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, according to the documents, was in direct contact with Saleh al-Hadyan, the Saudi military attaché in Northern Yemen’s capital Sana’a at the time of the targeted killing. Riyadh allegedly dispatched three Saudi intelligence operatives to Sana’a hours before the assassination who then left Yemen three hours after the operation concluded.
“Saudi Arabia killed al-Hamdi under the supervision of Saudi military attaché, Saleh al-Hadyan because he was an opponent of Saudi Arabia and did not comply with its instructions and interventions in Yemen,” The late Abdullah Saleh said in a 2016 interview with RT Arabic in which he claimed that he had “evidence of the involvement of Saudi Arabia.”
When al-Hamdi came to power in 1974, North Yemen lacked even the most basic services and infrastructure. Moreover, the country was on the brink of collapse and tribesmen held significant power and influence. Al-Hamdi, much like Al-Sammad, created a development plan supervised by a number of committees which encouraged local communities to contribute to road construction, school buildings, and water networks.
Under al-Hamdi’s direction, North Yemen underwent a period of rapid economic growth. The country’s GDP rose from 21.5 percent in 1974 to 56.1 percent in 1977 and per capita income rose by 300 percent. Al-Hamdi, according to WikiLeaks documents, was also working to “prepare the groundwork for eventual elections” in North Yemen.
Given the fate shared by those willing to risk charting a path free of foreign intervention in Yemen, it is unlikely that the Houthis, nor their fellow countrymen, will take attempts by foreign countries to assassinate Yemeni leaders lightly.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Trump’s Gamble in Iraq Backfires: Assassination of Soleimani has Huge Cost for America


Funeral of Iran top General Qasem Soleimani. (Photo: via AJE)

Despite conflicting official statements by the Trump administration about the reason behind its decision to target Iran’s most celebrated military official, the U.S. is adamant that its assassination of Qasem Soleimani and refusal to leave Iraq is about “protecting Americans”. 
From versions advanced publicly by former CIA chief Pompeo now serving as Trump’s trigger-happy defense secretary, during his TV-road show, the world was told that Qasem Soleimani was killed because he posed an “imminent” threat. 
This “official” narrative was spun to convince Trump’s domestic audience that though the Democrats had ganged up against him, he remained concerned about America’s safety and thus eliminated “bad” persons. 
The targeted assassination of Qasem Soleimani and a senior Iraqi military leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, has raised serious questions about Trump’s real motivation. Notwithstanding the so-called justification being a vague, unproven claim of “imminent” threat of violence against Americans, Trump himself shot it down by saying that it “doesn’t really matter” whether Soleimani and al-Mohandis posed an imminent threat. 
In other words, as Commander-in-chief of America, I, Donald Trump can authorize the killing of anyone, regardless of whether the person singled out for extra-judicial execution is a serving official of any country, and it matters not whether the person poses an imminent threat. 
Strangely, the facts advanced by Iraq’s parliament particularly by Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi regarding the reason for Qasem Soleimani’s visit to Baghdad on the fateful day he was assassinated, have either been downplayed or ignored. 
In addition, the Iraqi parliamentary session reveals how the emergence of China and development of strong ties to Baghdad may be shaping America’s new Mideast strategy.
Clearly one cannot ignore what has been described as one of the most overlooked yet relevant drivers behind Trump’s current policy with respect to Iraq: preventing China from expanding its foothold in the Middle East. 
Indeed, some commentators have argued that the timing of Soleimani’s assassination was directly related to his diplomatic role in Iraq and his push to help Iraq secure its oil independence.
Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi’s insistence that America’s pressure on the Iraqi government arises from China’s growing ties especially in the oil sector, hasn’t received adequate media attention. While this may be due to much of the U.S. pressure being exerted on the caretaker government covertly and behind closed doors. 
Now that the Iraqi Prime Minister has lifted the lid on Trump’s bullying tactics, mainstream media has no reason to shy away from it. The evidence strongly suggests that America under Trump cannot countenance China’s presence nor Iran’s substantial influence in Iraq. 
The flip side is that both China and Iran are eager to free Iraq by ridding it of U.S. troops. Both have different means to do so which has the potential to saddle Trump with the prospect of exiting his army in ignominy. 
The Trump administration is thus faced with a huge dilemma: how to depart gracefully yet retain a presence? 
It knows that parliamentary approval to remove American forces along with all foreign troops means the end of the road. Challenging it as Pompeo is doing, is unsustainable and to defy Iraq is in effect defying international conventions. 
The martyrdom of Qasem Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis and a number of their colleagues on Iraqi soil, is the straw that proverbially broke the camel’s back. 
Far from attaining any of Trump’s stated objectives, the targeted killings have had results entirely unfavorable to his goals. 
Iran is firmly united behind its revolutionary leadership, while Trump is facing an impeachment trial in a country deeply divided. The notion of a superpower is in tatters while Iran’s regional status has grown immensely. 
China’s entry will have further ramifications for America. This as one commentator explained: “China has the means and the ability to dramatically undermine not only the U.S.’ control over Iraq’s oil sector but the entire petrodollar system on which the U.S.’ status as both a financial and military superpower directly depends”. 
– Iqbal Jassat is an Executive Member of the South Africa-based Media Review Network. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Visit: www.mediareviewnet.com

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Opening Iran’s Black Box

By David Macilwain
Ukraine Flight 752 a0457
As Western governments continue to poke at the Iranian bear, thinking it is busy licking its wounds, they should keep an eye on its claws, and not turn their backs, or their minds to other matters. But neither should we, because the regime changers have not abandoned their plans, nor written off their investment in creating this disorder, as the sudden resumption of NATO-backed “protests” in Iraq and Lebanon demonstrate. A new leader of Islamic State has even been launched into the fray in a timely fashion – on the third anniversary of Trump’s infamous inauguration.
It’s now twenty days since the ‘B’ team murdered their chances of a peaceful settlement in Iraq, but barely enough time for the Iranian bear to muster its strength after such a shock, though that strength is now many times greater and extends across its borders. Had that shock been isolated, with only the close involvement of Iraq, then the subsequent ballistic missile attack by Iran on US bases could have passed for a response, and even led to a peaceful pull-out of Western forces, as demanded by the Iraqi government.
But at that point, the two sides diverged, irreconcilably – the shooting down of Ukrainian flight PS 752 changed everything.
The argument over whether this pre-emptive extrajudicial assassination was a crime was partly down to opinion – on whether Qasem Soleimani was “a terrorist” who needed to be “taken out”,  or the Hero of Shia Islam who saved his Iraqi and Syrian brothers from brutal Salafists and Zionist occupiers. As a soldier in the war against the US coalition and its mercenaries, he was in some sense a legitimate target, but the US crime was in denying him the chance to die and kill in a fair fight. Being picked off by some gum-chewing coward a thousand miles away is the yardstick for US morality and criminality not lost on Iranians or Iraqis, or the IRGC which promptly declared the US army to be a terrorist organization.
For the 167 innocent passengers and crew on PS 752 however, there can be no such argument; their killing, accidental or not, was a crime because of its means, and someone may be held responsible, even if indirectly, as indeed they already are by those rushing to judgment in the West. Despite the initial qualification of the crash by most leaders and media as a “tragic accident”, it is now referred to simply as “the plane shot down by the Iranian military”, implicitly suggesting a civilian airliner was intentionally targeted. But just as with MH17, if Iran was responsible for shooting down a civilian plane carrying Iranians on its own territory it was quite clearly an accident, and should be treated as one – particularly as Iran’s leaders have accepted responsibility and apologized profusely.
But the similarity to MH17 goes further, as the consequences of the Iranian missile defense action for Western public opinion have been devastating for Iran but remarkably beneficial for her enemies, as noted before. On the back of this sudden turn around, the IRGC now appears as it has always been portrayed by Iran’s greatest foes – Israel and the US, while the Iranian government’s entirely reasonable abandonment of the farcical JCPOA provides just the excuse needed for NATO to step up the nuclear pressure and even re-introduce sanctions.
To an impartial observer – and in this case to all those aligned with Iran, Russia and China – this looks grossly unfair, and offensive to any sense of International law and justice.
America and its local allies and co-conspirators have committed a totally illegal political assassination as a provocation, which has led to an environment where hundreds of innocent people have died – including those in the stampede at Soleimani’s funeral. Rather than offering help and sympathy, and understanding of the circumstances behind this tragedy, Western regimes have exploited the disaster to their own ends, almost as if it were their intent.
But perhaps it was.
Forgetting the substantial evidence of covert planning for actions following the killing of the IRGC commander such as staged anti-government protest rallies, and even questions about the identity of the person who shot the video of the missile strike, a little giveaway in a second NYT report could be the clue Iran needs to close its case – that tricking the IRGC into shooting down PS 752 was an integral part of the operation that saw the IRGC leader first assassinated.
A few days after the New York Times publicized the missile video, unleashing a volley of abuse at Iran’s leaders for “lying” about it being a technical malfunction, but then needing to answer difficult questions on how the videographer just happened to be there with camera at the ready, the NYT put out a second report showing that two missiles had been fired:
“The New York Times has verified security camera footage on Tuesday that shows, for the first time, that two missiles hit Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on Jan. 8. The missiles were launched from an Iranian military site around eight miles from the plane.
The new video fills a gap about why the plane’s transponder stopped working, seconds before it was hit by a second missile.
An earlier Times analysis confirmed what Iran later admitted: that an Iranian missile did strike the plane. The Times also established that the transponder stopped working before that missile hit the plane. The new video appears to confirm that an initial strike disabled the transponder, before the second strike, also seen in the video, around 23 seconds later.”
As explained elsewhere, the absence of a transponder signal from a flying object immediately identifies it as hostile to a missile defense system, and it was generally accepted that the apparent failure of PS 752’s transponder just two minutes after take-off was what led to its tragic shooting down. The question was why did the transponder suddenly fail, or get disabled?
This was a key question being asked by those who suspected foul play, such as may have occurred two days earlier during “maintenance”, or through some cyber means. It was a question that also needed answering by the Bellingcat club, and the second NYT report and video was their answer.
But it doesn’t work! It really doesn’t work!
On hearing first of this second missile that “took out the transponder”, my thought was simply that this was ridiculous and impossible, but it took two days to realize just why:
Why did the missile defense unit fire the first missile at PS 752 when its transponder was working?
Flights leaving IKA before PS 752 Jan 8th 3737c
Nine other flights took off from Imam Khomeini Airport that morning, including a Qatar airways flight just 30 minutes earlier, and passed by the IRGC missile defense systems without notice – with their transponders operating normally. Their pilots would have been particularly conscious of the need to turn transponders on at take-off given the extreme tensions following Iran’s missile volley early that morning – about four hours before the Ukrainian jet took off bound for Kyiv.
Flight PS 752, which flies five times a week on that popular route for Iranian Canadians, followed the identical flight path to those earlier jets, according to Flight Radar 24. But this site is hardly the only one tracking aircraft and other movements in Iran. In a report on the Iranian missile strikes on Ain al Asad base, the NYT candidly admits that the NSA was following the movements of Iranian missile defense systems as well as monitoring IRGC communications networks “with spy satellites”, and anticipating a response to Soleimani’s murder following his funeral. But much evidence points to the use of these cyber-warfare systems to confuse and control Iran’s defenses, in the same way that the Western public is confused and controlled by disinformation and emotive propaganda coming from their own governments.
But Iran has the Black Box, and holds the Ace. Because if the “conspiracy” theory is correct – that enemy intelligence actions caused the “accidental” downing of the chosen aircraft, the electronic record from the flight recorders will prove it. It only needs to show that the first missile hit PS 752 one second after the transponder stopped working to turn this Iranian tragedy into a US coalition atrocity, and the most infernal and criminal conspiracy since the demolition of the Twin Towers.
Perhaps then it will finally be the citizens of the countries who suffer under the Great Satan’s boot who benefit from its Imperial Overreach.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Trump deal will fell peace process house of cards

Omar Karmi Power Suits 24 January 2020

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on the campaign trail.
 Gili YaariZUMA Press

Brace yourselves, here it comes.
After years of mounting excitement, the time is finally ripe. The US administration is going to show its hand and unveil the “closely-held” Ultimate Deal of the Century™ before the main contenders for Israel’s leadership go to Washington on Tuesday.
It’s “a great plan,” according to man-of-the-hour Donald Trump, the US president, neatly dispelling any complaints from moaning snowflakes who keep harping on about rights and history and justice and truth and sustainability and blah, blah, blah.
But what exactly is this great plan?
According to Trump, it’s not what you’ve read already.
What you may have read already comes courtesy of unnamed “senior Israeli officials.” According to them, the plan will see Israel annex all of Jerusalem as well as between 30-40 percent of Area C of the West Bank (the 60 percent of the West Bank already under full Israeli control). This includes the Jordan Valley and thus access to the outside world.
The plan would also give Israel a green light to annex all but 15 settlements in the occupied territory – illegal under international law, but no longer in the eyes of the US administration.
Israel will maintain uncontested military control over all the territory of historic Palestine and Palestinians will have to disarm Hamas and demilitarize the Gaza Strip.

Just words

But what do the Palestinians get? As anyone with any sense knows, a deal can only be “great” if all parties walk away feeling they’ve gained something.
Palestinians get statehood. Apparently. Some Israelis are not happy about that, so maybe not. Who knows? But according to “senior Israeli officials,” part of a plan that “really would work” is Palestinian statehood.
Over what? Not clear. Whatever is left, presumably, once Israel has had its fill. Territory-wise there would apparently be some land swaps, though with whom, where and how much has not been divulged.
Jerusalem? “Symbolic access,” whatever that means.
Sovereignty? No army, no control over borders, no control over airspace. So no.
Right of return for refugees? None. The US administration has made its own calculations, determining that the number of Palestinian refugees is roughly equivalent to Jews who fled Arab countries, therefore negating any right of return or even right to compensation.
Oh and Palestinians get $50 billion from “Sunni countries.” Thanks, guys.

Why now?

Palestinians have rejected the plan out of hand.
What else is the Palestinian Authority going to do? There is nothing in the plan, as outlined above, that any Palestinian leader could ever accept.
But that may be to miss the point.
Partly, this administration wants to ride roughshod over international law. After all, superpowers should not feel restrained by things such as rules. That’s what makes them powerful.
No better place to signal such intent than with Palestinians, whose case in international law is clear, open and shut.
But also, of course, this is about helping a friend in his time of need.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the incumbent prime minister, is trying to ward off corruption prosecution, a prosecution that will be brought should he fail to ensure immunity for himself.
He may not secure immunity if he does not form the next government. Trump is simply trying to help.
And with two Israeli elections already last year, Trump has had plenty of chances to prove his generosity.
First, he granted US blessing to Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem. Next, he recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights.
Then he reversed the US position on settlements in occupied territory.
Cognizant of this, Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s main rival, has been falling over himself to promise that his annexation will be bigger than Netanyahu’s.
Not only is he trying to win votes, he is also showing that he knows how to play along with a US president who seems to appreciate sycophancy.

What now?

The plan is yet to be published. Many stalwart supporters of Israel have in the past cautioned against publishing such an obviously imbalanced deal.
There’s a good reason. This forces the hand of the Palestinian Authority. It ends its very reason to exist, namely in preparation for statehood. Real statehood. It crosses every “red line” the PA has ever marked out, whether on refugees, territory, sovereignty, Jerusalem, etc, and so on.
It pulls down the whole peace process charade.
Too many institutions, businesses and industries have been built and too many livelihoods are at stake for the PA to disband itself with immediate effect, however advisable that might be.
Indeed, it may well be that the PA leadership will try to simply sit tight and wait Trump out.
But there really is no time for that. The land is disappearing beneath the Palestinians’ feet.
Trump’s Ultimate Deal is the end of the PA.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Jews’ Ten Pledges vs Palestinians’ Eleven Red Lines

By Stuart Littlewood
Ten Pledges Labour Party e8e51
The UK Labour Party is saying goodbye to Jeremy Corbyn as leader after its disastrous general election performance and has begun choosing someone else.
Wasting no time, the Board of Deputies of British Jews last week published Ten Pledges they wanted Labour leadership hopefuls to sign up to if the Party’s relationship with the Jewish community was to be healed.
The BoD claim anti-Semitism in the party became a matter of great anxiety for the UK’s Jews during Corbyn’s four years in office and it will take at least 10 years to repair the damage. Their president Marie van der Zyl says: “We expect that those seeking to move the party forward will openly and unequivocally endorse these Ten Pledges in full, making it clear that if elected as leader, or deputy leader, they will commit themselves to ensuring the adoption of all these points.
“Tackling antisemitism must be a central priority of Labour’s next leader,” she insists. “We will certainly be holding to account whoever ultimately wins the contest.”
But is there really an anti-Semitism crisis other than the one caused by the Jewish State itself and mischievously drummed up within Labour? As former Israeli Director of Military Intelligence, Yehoshafat Harkabi wrote: “It would be a tragic irony if the Jewish state, which was intended to solve the problem of anti-Semitism, was to become a factor in the rise of anti-Semitism. Israelis must be aware that the price of their misconduct is paid not only by them but also Jews throughout the world.”  It has been suggested before that so-called anti-Semitism is a matter best resolved by the Jewish ‘family’ itself.
Obedience required
The BoD claim that all the leadership contenders – Sir Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips and Emily Thornberry – have signed the Ten Pledges, and three of the five deputy-leader candidates have done so. What are these crisis-busting Ten Pledges they’ve committed the Party to?
(1) Resolve outstanding cases – All outstanding and future cases should be brought to a swift conclusion under a fixed timescale.
  • Absolutely.
(2) Make the Party’s disciplinary process independent – An independent provider should be used to process all complaints, to eradicate any risk of partisanship and factionalism.
  • Of course.
(3) Ensure transparency – Key affected parties to complaints, including Jewish representative bodies, should be given the right to regular, detailed case updates, on the understanding of confidentiality.
  • Except that complainers, including the BoD, have a poor record of keeping even their wildest allegations confidential.
(4) Prevent readmittance of prominent offenders – It should be made clear that prominent offenders who have left or been expelled from the party, such as Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker, will never be readmitted to membership.
  • It is not clear from the evidence that Livingstone or Jackie Walker committed an offence. They were hounded out and not, I think, by any independent arbitrator.
(5) Communicate with resolve – Bland, generic statements should give way to condemnation of specific harmful behaviours – and, where appropriate, condemnation of specific individuals.
  • This should apply also to false accusers and to the BoD themselves if failing to condemn the “harmful behaviours” of their brethren in the Israeli regime towards our sisters and brothers in Palestine.
(6) Provide no platform for bigotry –  Any MPs, Peers, councillors, members or CLPs [local parties] who support, campaign or provide a platform for people who have been suspended or expelled in the wake of antisemitic incidents should themselves be suspended from membership.
  • Unacceptable. Many have been suspended for no good reason. And suspension does not mean guilt.
(7) Adopt the international definition of antisemitism without qualification – The IHRA definition of antisemitism, with all its examples and clauses, and without any caveats, will be fully adopted by the party and used as the basis for considering antisemitism disciplinary cases.
  • How many times must you be told that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is a minefield? Top legal opinion (for example Hugh Tomlinson QC, Sir Stephen Sedley and Geoffrey Robertson QC) warn that it is “most unsatisfactory”, has no legal force, and using it to punish could be unlawful. Furthermore it cuts across the right of free expression enshrined in UK domestic law and underpinned by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which bestows on everyone “the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. This applies not only to information or ideas that are regarded as inoffensive, but also to those that “offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population”. Labour Party members should know all this. The prohibitive IHRA definition is not something a sane organisation would incorporate into its Code of Conduct.
(8) Deliver an anti-racism education programme that has the buy-in of the Jewish community – The Jewish Labour Movement should be reengaged by the Party to lead on training about antisemitism.
  • The BoD and JLM would do better teaching anti-racism to the Israeli regime and its supporters. Besides, MPs and councillors don’t ‘belong’ to the Labour Party or any other party; they belong to the public who elected them as their representative. No outside body should expect to influence their freedom of thought, expression or action (see the Seven Principles of Public Life).
(9) Engagement with the Jewish community to be made via its main representative groups – Labour must engage with the Jewish community via its main representative groups, and not through fringe organisations and individuals.
  • Labour should engage with the Jewish community though any representative organisation or individual it pleases.
(10) Show leadership and take responsibility – The leader must personally take on the responsibility of ending Labour’s antisemitism crisis.
  • There’s no agreement that anything approaching a crisis exists within the Party.
Leadership front-runner Starmer is a former human rights lawyer and ought to know better. Long-Bailey is another lawyer who should hang her head in shame. Thornberry is a former barrister specialising in human rights law – words fail.  Jess Phillips, a member of Labour Friends of Israel, wrote Truth to Power: 7 Ways to Call Time on B.S., described as “the little book we all need to help us call time on the seemingly unstoppable tide of bullshit in our lives”. The irony of it seems lost on her. Lisa Nandy is a puzzle as she’s chair of Labour Friends of Palestine.
If this bunch won’t robustly uphold freedom of expression guaranteed by law and international convention what have they let their hapless party in for? Those standing for deputy-leader also have little excuse. Angela Rayner was shadow education secretary, Ian Murray read Social Policy and Law, and Rosena Allin-Khan is a Muslim and former humanitarian aid doctor. They obediently signed the Ten Pledges. Dawn Butler and Richard Burgon declined.
When, a year ago, the French Republic presented its Human Rights Award to B’Tselem (the Israeli human rights group) its Executive Director Hagai El-Ad, thanking the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, said of Israel’s behaviour towards the Palestinians: “The occupation…. is organized, prolonged state violence which brings about dispossession, killings, and oppression. All branches of the state are part of it: ministers and judges, officers and planners, parliamentarians and bureaucrats.”
On another occasion B’Tselem said: “If the international community does not come to its senses and force Israel to abide by the rules that are binding to every state in the world, it will pull the rug out from under the global effort to protect human rights in the post-WWII era.”
When a respected Israeli organisation speaks truth in such stark terms it cannot be ignored.  And recent UN reports confirm that the Israelis abuse and torture child prisoners. So why would anyone – especially those competing to be Labour Party leader and one day prime minister – agree to dance to the tune of those who pimp and lobby on Israel’s behalf?
Who will punish the false accusers?
The BoD nevertheless make some valid points. The Labour Party takes a ridiculously long time to deal with allegations of anti-Semitism, many of which are false or vexatious and could be dismissed in five minutes. Let me tell you about two Scottish Labour politicians wrongly accused of anti-Semitic remarks and suspended. Let’s call them ‘A’ and ‘B’. Both are regional councillors.
Constituency party officials declared ‘A’ guilty immediately and issued a press statement to that effect without waiting for him to be heard, hugely prejudicing any investigation. This stupidity was compounded by his Council leader publicly calling on him to resign as a councillor and saying his thinking belonged to the Dark Ages: “To smear an entire community both past and present, to say he has lost ‘all empathy’ for them is utterly deplorable,” he was quoted in the press.
What was ‘A’s crime? He had tweeted: “For almost all my adult life I have had the utmost respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering. No longer, due to what they and their Blairite plotters are doing to my party and the long suffering people of Britain…” Was nobody in the local party aware that the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies were then leading an obnoxious campaign to discredit Labour and Jeremy Corbyn?
‘B’, a respected lady councillor, was accused of anti-Semitism by a former Labour MP who was already on record as wanting to impose limits on freedom of expression. A Tory MP immediately put the boot in, telling the media it was clear to the vast majority of people that ‘B’ was no longer fit to hold office and suspension didn’t go far enough.
And what was ‘B’s crime? She had voiced suspicion on social media that Israeli spies might be plotting to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader after three Jewish newspapers ganged up to publish a joint front page warning that a Corbyn-led government would pose an “existential threat to Jewish life in this country”.
She added that if it was a Mossad assisted campaign to prevent the election of a Labour Government (which pledged to recognise Palestinian statehood) it amounted to an unwarranted interference in our democracy. For good measure she said Israel was a racist State and, since the Palestinians are also Semites, an anti-Semitic one.
‘B’ was eventually interviewed by party investigators. They surely knew that in January 2017 a senior political officer at the Israeli embassy in London, Shai Masot, had plotted with stooges among British MPs and other activists to “take down” senior government figures including Boris Johnson’s deputy at the Foreign Office, Sir Alan Duncan. And that Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s former chief spokesman and mastermind behind Israel’s propaganda programme of disinformation, had recently arrived in London as the new ambassador.
Masot was almost certainly a Mossad tool. His hostile scheming was revealed not by Britain’s own security services and media, as one would have hoped, but by an Al Jazeera undercover team. Our Government dismissed the matter saying: “The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.” But at a Labour Party conference fringe meeting Israel insider Miko Peled warned that “they are going to pull all the stops, they are going to smear, they are going to try anything they can to stop Corbyn…. the reason anti-Semitism is used is because they [the Israelis] have no argument….”
Given such a blatant attempt by an Israeli asset to undermine British democracy, with Regev in the background and (quite probably) Mossad pulling the strings, ‘B’s suspicions were reasonable enough and she had a right to voice them.
As for Israel being a racist State, its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and other brutal policies over 70 years make it obvious. And the discriminatory Nation State laws recently adopted by Israel put the question beyond doubt. Her point about anti-Semitism was also well made. DNA research (see for example the Johns Hopkins University study published by Oxford University Press) shows that while very few Jews are Semitic most indigenous Arabs in the Holy Land, especially Palestinians, are Semites. The term ‘anti-Semitism’, long used to describe hatred of Jews, is a misnomer that hides an inconvenient truth.
And it couldn’t have been difficult to establish that the opportunistic Tory MP calling her unfit to hold office was the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews, which is funded, supported and administered by The Board of Deputies. The case against ‘B’ should have been dropped instantly and action taken against the troublemakers.  Instead, weeks later, ‘B’ was posting on her Facebook page that she was still suspended: “I can’t make any decisions about my personal, political, or professional future whilst this hangs over me. I am constantly tired and anxious, and feel I am making mistakes. I have lost paid work because of what has happened.”
Her suspension was finally lifted but she was “advised” not to post about it or she’d risk losing professional work on which her livelihood depended. That’s how nasty the Labour Party disciplinary machine is. Surely, if the Party lifts a suspension it should issue a public statement saying so.  Must the wrongly accused, after being needlessly humiliated, be left to pick up the pieces and struggle to re-establish their good name? In total ‘B’ had to wait 16 weeks under sentence. And all because of a trumped-up allegation that ought to have been immediately squashed.
As for ‘A’, he stopped answering emails and there has been nothing in the press. Was his suspension lifted? Was he similarly threatened if he said anything? I simply don’t know although I phoned and wrote to the Leader and the General Secretary for an explanation. The latter eventually replied that “the Labour Party cannot, and does not, share personal details about individual party members” and placing a member in administrative suspension “allows a process of investigation to be carried out whilst protecting the reputation of the Labour Party”. Bollox. How did the media get news of these suspensions in the first place? And never mind the damage done to the cowardly Party, what about the reputations of the two councillors and their months of anguish while working for their constituents? I wasn’t asking for case details. All I wanted was the answer to three simple questions:
# Had the suspensions been lifted?
# If so, had the Party issued a public statement to that effect?
# And had the false accusers been disciplined?
Silence… spineless, don’t-give-a-damn silence.
Are these two cases typical of the so-called anti-Semitism crisis? I have no way of knowing. But they show how the Party is run by enough crackpots on the inside without inviting impertinent interference from the outside.
Jews’ Ten Pledges vs Palestinians’ Eleven Red Lines
Anyone signing up to the BoD’s Ten Pledges should consider at the same time subscribing to the ‘Eleven Red Lines’ of anti-Palestinianism. Examples in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
(1) Denying the Palestinian people their right to self-determination and nationhood, or actively conspiring to prevent the exercise of this right.
(2) Denial that Israel is in breach of international law in its continued occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
(3) Denial that Israel is an apartheid state according to the definition of the International Convention on Apartheid.
(4) Denial of the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians during the 1948 Nakba and of their right, and the right of their descendants, to return to their homeland.
(5) Denial that Palestinians have lived for hundreds of years in land now occupied by Israelis and have their own distinctive national identity and culture.
(6) Denial that the laws and policies which discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel (such as the recently passed Nation State Law) are inherently racist.
(7) Denial that there is widespread discrimination against Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories in matters of employment, housing, justice, education, water supply, etc, etc.
(8) Tolerating the killing or harming of Palestinians by violent settlers in the name of an extremist view of religion.
(9) Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Palestinians — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth of a Palestinian conspiracy to wipe Israel off the map.
(10) Justifying the collective punishment of Palestinians (prohibited under the Geneva Convention) in response to the acts of individuals or groups.
(11) Accusing the Palestinians as a people, of encouraging the Holocaust.
This working definition of anti-Palestinian racism, described as “hatred towards or prejudice against Palestinians as Palestinians”, holds up a mirror to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and was drafted by Jewish Voice For Labour, one of those fringe representative organisations the BoD insist Labour mustn’t engage with.
So here’s a simple test for the BoD: if they demand the Labour Party signs up to their Ten Pledges will they themselves embrace the Eleven Red Lines on anti-Palestinianism?

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Iran, USA, War on Iran Ismail Qaani, Qassem Suleimani, Trump, Zakharova




 January 24, 2020
Russia has severely censured US threat to assassinate Brigadier General Esmail Qaani, the new commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), as “unacceptable.”
“I state once again that such statements are unacceptable for us. Such remarks have been made beyond rights and law, and representatives of world states are not entitled to utter them,” the Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying at a news briefing in the capital Moscow on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman  Abbas Mousavi denounced Washington’s assassination threat against Brig. Gen. Qaani, stating that the latest remarks by US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook “are an official publicizing and blatant unveiling of targeted and state terrorism by the United States.”
“Now, after the Zionist regime [of Israel], the US is the second regime to officially announce that it has employed the resources of its government and armed forces for terrorist acts and that it will continue them in the future,” Mousavi added.
The Iranian diplomat further noted that Washington’s recourse to terrorist acts is a clear sign of “weakness, desperation, and confusion” among the officials of the American regime.
Mousavi then condemned “brazen remarks and terrorist acts” by US leaders, calling on the international community to also condemn them, “because the continuation of this trend would sooner or later befall everyone.”
Hook told the Arabic-language and Saudi-owned daily Asharq al-Awsat that the new Quds Force commander could face the fate of his predecessor, Lieutenant General Qassem Suleimani, who was assassinated along with the second-in-command of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and their companions near Baghdad International Airport on January 3.
In a message addressed to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Sayyed Khamenei on January 9, Brig. Gen. Qa’ani vowed to continue the path pursued by Lt. Gen. Suleimani “with might.” He said the goal was to drive American forces out of the region.
On January 8, IRGC fired a number of ballistic missiles at al-Asad Air Base in Iraq’s western province of Andar, where more than 1,000 US troops are based, and another American military facility in Kurdistan’s regional capital Erbil.
The attack was in retaliation for US President Donald Trump’s authorization of a drone strike that assassinated Lt. Gen. Suleimani and his companions earlier this month.

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River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!