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Archive for category The Great Game

Declassified UK: Explainer: Is the UK a rogue state? 17 British policies violating domestic or international law by Mark Curtis

 

 

 

Declassified UK: Explainer: Is the UK a rogue state? 17 British policies violating domestic or international law

Mark Curtis


British foreign secretary Dominic Raab recently described the “rule of international law” as one of the “guiding lights” of UK foreign policy. By contrast, the government regularly chides states it opposes, such as Russia or Iran, as violators of international law. These governments are often consequently termed “rogue states” in the mainstream media, the supposed antithesis of how “we” operate.

The following list of 17 policies may not be exhaustive, but it suggests that the term “rogue state” is not sensationalist or misplaced when it comes to describing Britain’s own foreign and “security” policies.

These serial violations suggest that parliamentary and public oversight over executive policy-making in the UK is not fit for purpose and that new mechanisms are needed to restrain the excesses of the British state. 

The MQ-9 Reaper drone carries four laser-guided, air-to-ground 114 Hellfire missiles, a payload of up to 360kg. The UK has been operating a fleet since 2007 and has struck targets in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. (Photo: Chris Hunkeler / Flickr)

The Royal Air Force’s drone war

Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) operates a drone programme in support of the US involving a fleet of British “Reaper” drones operating since 2007. They have been used by the UK to strike targets in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. 

Four RAF bases in the UK support the US drone war. The joint UK and US spy base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, northern England, facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. US drone strikes, involving an assassination programme begun by president Barack Obama, are widely regarded as illegal under international law, breaching fundamental human rights. Up to 1,700 civilian adults and children have been killed in so-called “targeted killings”. 

Amnesty International notes that British backing is “absolutely crucial to the US lethal drones programme, providing support for various US surveillance programmes, vital intelligence exchanges and in some cases direct involvement from UK personnel in identifying and tracking targets for US lethal operations, including drone strikes that may have been unlawful”. 

Chagos Islands

Britain has violated international law in the case of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean since it expelled the inhabitants in the 1960s to make way for a US military base on Diego Garcia, the largest island. 

Harold Wilson’s Labour government separated the islands from then British colony Mauritius in 1965 in breach of a UN resolution banning the breakup of colonies before independence. London then formed a new colonial entity, the British Indian Ocean Territory, which is now an Overseas Territory.

In 2015, a UN Tribunal ruled that the UK’s proposed “marine protected area” around the islands — shown by Wikileaks publications to be a ruse to keep the islanders from returning — was unlawful since it undermined the rights of Mauritius. 

A group of Chagossians chant slogans as they attend a mass hosted by Pope Francis at the Monument of Mary Queen of Peace in Port Louis, Mauritius, 9 September 2019. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Dai Kurokawa)

Then in February 2019, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in an advisory opinion that Britain must end its administration of the Chagos islands “as rapidly as possible”. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in May 2019 welcoming the ICJ ruling and “demanding that the United Kingdom unconditionally withdraw its colonial administration from the area within six months”. The UK government has rejected the calls.

Defying the UN over the Falklands (Malvinas Owned By Argentina, Stolen By the UK Through Naval Attack)

The UN’s 24-country Special Committee on Decolonisation — its principal body addressing issues concerning decolonisation — has repeatedly called on the UK government to negotiate a resolution to the dispute over the status of the Falklands. In its latest call, in June 2019, the committee approved a draft resolution “reiterating that the only way to end the special and particular colonial situation of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) is through a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom”. 

The British government consistently rejects these demands. Last year, it stated:

“The Decolonisation Committee no longer has a relevant role to play with respect to British Overseas Territories. They all have a large measure of self-government, have chosen to retain their links with the UK, and therefore should have been delisted a long time ago.”

In 2016, the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf issued a report finding that the Falkland Islands are located in Argentina’s territorial waters.

Israel and settlement goods

Although Britain regularly condemns Israeli settlements in the occupied territories as illegal, in line with international law, it permits trade in goods produced on those settlements. It also does not keep a record of imports that come from the settlements — which include wine, olive oil and dates — into the UK. 

UN Security Council resolutions require all states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”. The UK is failing to do this.

Palestinian activists sail on fishing boats during a protest against the Israeli siege imposed on Gaza Strip, west of Gaza City, 10 July 2018. (Photo: EPA)

Israel’s blockade of Gaza

Israel’s blockade of Gaza, imposed in 2007 following the territory’s takeover by Hamas, is widely regarded as illegal. Senior UN officials, a UN independent panel of experts, and Amnesty International all agree that the infliction of “collective punishment” on the population of Gaza contravenes international human rights and humanitarian law. 

Gaza has about 1.8 million inhabitants who remain “locked in” and denied free access to the remainder of putative Palestine (the West Bank) and the outside world. It has poverty and unemployment rates that reached nearly 75% in 2019.

Through its naval blockade, the Israeli navy restricts Palestinians’ fishing rights, fires on local fishermen and has intercepted ships delivering humanitarian aid. Britain, and all states, have an obligation “to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law” in Gaza. 

However, instead of doing so, the UK regularly collaborates with the navy enforcing the blockade. In August 2019, Britain’s Royal Navy took part in the largest international naval exercise ever held by Israel, off the country’s Mediterranean shore. In November 2016 and December 2017, British warships conducted military exercises with their Israeli allies.

Exports of surveillance equipment

Declassified revealed that the UK recently exported telecommunications interception equipment or software to 13 countries, including authoritarian regimes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Oman. Such technology can enable security forces to monitor the private activities of groups or individuals and crack down on political opponents. 

The UAE has been involved in programmes monitoring domestic activists using spyware. In 2017 and 2018, British exporters were given four licences to export telecommunications interception equipment, components or software to the UAE.

UK arms export guidelines state that the government will “not grant a licence if there is a clear risk that the items might be used for internal repression”. Reports by Amnesty International document human rights abuses in the cases of UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman, suggesting that British approval of such exports to these countries is prima facie unlawful.

Arms exports to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been accused by the UN and others of violating international humanitarian law and committing war crimes in its war in Yemen, which began in March 2015. The UK has licensed nearly £5-billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime during this time. In addition, the RAF is helping to maintain Saudi warplanes at key operating bases and stores and issues bombs for use in Yemen. 

Following legal action brought by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, the UK Court of Appeal ruled in June 2019 that ministers had illegally signed off on arms exports without properly assessing the risk to civilians. The court ruled that the government must reconsider the export licences in accordance with the correct legal approach.

The ruling followed a report by a cross-party House of Lords committee, published earlier in 2019, which concluded that Britain is breaking international law by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and should suspend some export licences immediately.

Gallery

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London, UK, 13 January 2020. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Facundo Arrizabalaga)

Julian Assange’s arbitrary detention and torture

In the case of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange — currently held in Belmarsh maximum-security prison in London — the UK is defying repeated opinions of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention  (WGAD) and the UN special rapporteur on torture.

The latter, Nils Melzer, has called on the UK government to release Assange on the grounds that officials are contributing to his psychological torture and ill treatment. Melzer has also called for UK officials to be investigated for possible “criminal conduct” as government policy “severely undermines the credibility of [its] commitment to the prohibition of torture… as well as to the rule of law more generally”.

The WGAD — the supreme international body scrutinising this issue — has repeatedly demanded that the UK government end Assange’s “arbitrary detention”. Although the UN states that WGAD determinations are legally binding, its calls have been consistently rejected by the UK government.

Covert wars

Covert military operations to subvert foreign governments, such as Britain’s years-long operation in Syria to overthrow the Assad regime, are unlawful. As a House of Commons briefing notes, “forcible assistance to opposition forces is illegal”.

A precedent was set in the Nicaragua case in the 1980s, when US-backed covert forces (the “Contras”) sought to overthrow the Sandinista government. The International Court of Justice held that a third state may not forcibly help the opposition to overthrow a government since it breached the principles of non-intervention and prohibition on the use of force.

As Declassified has shown, the UK is currently engaged in seven covert wars, including in Syria, with minimal parliamentary oversight. Government policy is “not to comment” on the activities of its special forces “because of the security implications”. The public’s ability to scrutinise policy is also restricted since the UK’s Freedom of Information Act applies an “absolute exemption” to special forces. This is not the case for allied powers such as the US and Canada.

Torture and the refusal to hold an inquiry

In 2018 a report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee found that the UK had been complicit in cases of torture and other ill treatment of detainees in the so-called “war on terror”. The inquiry examined the participation of MI6 (the secret intelligence service), MI5 (the domestic security service) and Ministry of Defence (MOD) personnel in interrogating detainees held primarily by the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay during 2001-10. 

The report found that there were 232 cases where UK personnel supplied questions or intelligence to foreign intelligence agents after they knew or suspected that a detainee was being mistreated. It also found 198 cases where UK personnel received intelligence from foreign agents obtained from detainees whom they knew or suspected to have been mistreated. 

In one case, MI6 “sought and obtained authorisation from the foreign secretary” (then Jack Straw, in Tony Blair’s government) for the costs of funding a plane which was involved in rendering a suspect.

After the report was published, the government announced it was refusing to hold a judge-led, independent inquiry into the UK’s role in rendition and torture as it had previously promised to do. In 2019, human rights group Reprieve, together with Conservative and Labour MPs, instigated a legal challenge to the government over this refusal–which the High Court has agreed to hear.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, has formally warned the UK that its refusal to launch a judicial inquiry into torture and rendition breaches international law, specifically the UN Convention Against Torture. He has written a private “intervention” letter to the UK foreign secretary stating that the government has “a legal obligation to investigate and to prosecute”. 

Melzer accuses the government of engaging in a “conscious policy” of co-operating with torture since 9/11, saying it is “impossible” the practice was not approved or at least tolerated by top officials.

Gallery

A demonstrator dressed in a Guantanamo Bay-like jumpsuit protests outside Downing Street in London, UK, 6 February 2010. Protesters marked the 8th anniversary of Briton Shaker Aamer’s detention in Guantanamo Bay. Aamer had been held in Guantanamo without a charge or trial since his arrest. (Photo: EPA / Andy Rain)

UK’s secret torture policy

The MOD was revealed in 2019 to be operating a secret policy allowing ministers to approve actions which could lead to the torture of detainees. The policy, contained in an internal MOD document dated November 2018, allows ministers to approve passing information to allies even if there is a risk of torture, if “the potential benefits justify accepting the risk and legal consequences”.

This policy also provides for ministers to approve lists of individuals about whom information may be shared despite a serious risk they could face mistreatment. One leading lawyer has said that domestic and international legislation on the prohibition of torture is clear and that the MOD policy supports breaking of the law by ministers.

Amnesty for crimes committed by soldiers

There is a long history of British soldiers committing crimes during wars. In 2019 the government outlined plans to grant immunity for offences by soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland that were committed more than 10 years before. 

These plans have been condemned by the UN Committee Against Torture, which has called on the government to “refrain from enacting legislation that would grant amnesty or pardon where torture is concerned. It should also ensure that all victims of such torture and ill-treatment obtain redress”. 

The committee has specifically urged the UK to “establish responsibility and ensure accountability for any torture and ill-treatment committed by UK personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2009, specifically by establishing a single, independent, public inquiry to investigate allegations of such conduct.” 

The government’s proposals are also likely to breach UK obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, which obliges states to investigate breaches of the right to life or the prohibition on torture.

Gallery

A mural by Banksy around a phone box in Cheltenham, the home of GCHQ, Britain’s signals intelligence agency. (Photo: Flickr)

GCHQ’s mass surveillance

Files revealed by US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 show that the UK intelligence agency GCHQ had been secretly intercepting, processing and storing data concerning millions of people’s private communications, including people of no intelligence interest — in a programme named Tempora. Snowden also revealed that the British government was accessing personal communications and data collected by the US National Security Agency and other countries’ intelligence agencies.

All of this was taking place without public consent or awareness, with no basis in law and with no proper safeguards. Since these revelations, there has been a long-running legal battle over the UK’s unlawful use of these previously secret surveillance powers.

In September 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that UK laws enabling mass surveillance were unlawful, violating rights to privacy and freedom of expression. The court observed that the UK’s regime for authorising bulk interception was incapable of keeping “interference” to what is “necessary in a democratic society”.

The UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the body which considers complaints against the security services, also found that UK intelligence agencies had unlawfully spied on the communications of Amnesty International and the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa.

In 2014, revelations also confirmed that GCHQ had been granted authority to secretly eavesdrop on legally privileged lawyer-client communications and that MI5 and MI6 adopted similar policies. The guidelines appeared to permit surveillance of journalists and others deemed to work in “sensitive professions” handling confidential information.

MI5 personal data

In 2019, MI5 was found to have for years unlawfully retained innocent British people’s online location data, calls, messages and web browsing history without proper protections, according to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office which upholds British privacy protections. MI5 had also failed to give senior judges accurate information about repeated breaches of its duty to delete bulk surveillance data, and was criticised for mishandling sensitive legally privileged material. 

The commissioner concluded that the way MI5 was holding and handling people’s data was “undoubtedly unlawful”. Warrants for MI5’s bulk surveillance were issued by senior judges on the understanding that the agency’s legal data handling obligations were being met — when they were not.

“MI5 have been holding on to people’s data—ordinary people’s data, your data, my data — illegally for many years,” said Megan Goulding, a lawyer for rights organisation Liberty, which brought the case. “Not only that, they’ve been trying to keep their really serious errors secret — secret from the security services watchdog, who’s supposed to know about them, secret from the Home Office, secret from the prime minister and secret from the public.”

Gallery

Director-General of the British security service MI5, Andrew Parker, speaks during a conference in Berlin, Germany, 14 May 2018. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Omer Messinger)

Intelligence agencies committing criminal offences

MI5 has been operating under a secret policy that allows its agents to commit serious crimes during counter-terrorism operations in the UK, according to lawyers for human rights organisations bringing a case to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

The policy, referred to as the “third direction”, allows MI5 officers to permit the people they have recruited as agents to commit crimes in order to secure access to information that could be used to prevent other offences being committed. The crimes potentially include murder, kidnap and torture and have operated for decades. MI5 officers are, meanwhile, immune from prosecution.

A lawyer for the human rights organisations argues that the issues raised by the case are “not hypothetical”, submitting that “in the past, authorisation of agent participation in criminality appears to have led to grave breaches of fundamental rights”. He points to the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, an attack carried out by loyalist paramilitaries, including some agents working for the British state.

The ‘James Bond clause’

British intelligence officers can be authorised to commit crimes outside the UK. Section 7 of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act vacates UK criminal and civil law as long as a senior government minister has signed a written authorisation that committing a criminal act overseas is permissible. This is sometimes known as the “James Bond clause”. 

British spies were reportedly given authority to break the law overseas on 13 occasions in 2014 under this clause. GCHQ was given five authorisations “removing liability for activities including those associated with certain types of intelligence gathering and interference with computers, mobile phones and other types of electronic equipment”. MI6, meanwhile, was given eight such authorisations in 2014.

Gallery

Two cadets from the UK military raise funds for the Royal British Legion on New Market Street, Chorley, UK, 2015. (Photo: Flickr)

Underage soldiers

Britain is the only country in Europe and Nato to allow direct enlistment into the army at the age of 16. One in four UK army recruits is now under the age of 18. According to the editors of the British Medical Journal, “there is no justification for this state policy, which is harmful to teen health and should be stopped”. Child recruits are more likely than adult recruits to end up in frontline combat, they add.

It was revealed in 2019 that the UK continued to send child soldiers to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan despite pledging to end the practice. The UK says it does not send under-18s to warzones, as required by the UN Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, known as the “child soldiers treaty”. 

The UK, however, deployed five 17-year-olds to Iraq or Afghanistan between 2007 and 2010: it claims to have done so mistakenly. Previous to this, a minister admitted that teenagers had also erroneously been sent into battle between 2003 and 2005, insisting it would not happen again.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at the UK’s recruitment policy in 2008 and 2016, and recommended that the government “raise the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces to 18 years in order to promote the protection of children through an overall higher legal standard”. Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, the children’s commissioners for the four jurisdictions of the UK, along with children’s rights organisations, all support this call. DM

Mark Curtis is editor of Declassified UK and tweets at @markcurtis30

 

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                ‘Fanning the Flames’ Proves West’s Anti-Muslim Bigotry     

‘Fanning the Flames’ Proves West’s

Anti-Muslim Bigotry

By

                            Sajjad Shaukat                          

 

A report of the watchdog groups entitled ‘Fanning the Flames’, published by the Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE) on October 31, 2019 provided facts-based evidence regarding complicity of major technological platforms and US corporations in promoting ‘white supremacy’, anti-Muslim’ bigotry and violence across the world.

 

In fact, after the orchestrated drama of the September 11 tragedy inside the United States, American President George W. Bush and neo-conservatives crossed all the limits in protecting the political, economic and religious interests of the Zionist Jews and Israel at the cost of Muslims and patriot Americans. Just after the 9/11 catastrophe, statements of Bush, high officials of his administration and Zionist-controlled media deliberately developed chauvinism and extremism among the Americans. There had been an organised campaign against the Muslims in the US and other Western countries. Its main themes were that Islam and the Muslims were the true cause of terrorism.

 

During the drastic aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy in wake of the US-led fake global war on terror which still continues, Western  politicians have introduced dangerous socio-religious dimension in their societies by equating the “war on terror” with “war on Islam” and acts of Al Qaeda and ISIS with all the Muslims. Their media have also been contributing to heighten the currents of global politics on cultural and religious lines with the negative projection of Islam. Owing to these reasons, far right-wing parties and “Stop Islam” movement in the West, particularly in Europe has been becoming popular by largely attracting their people. Right-wing parties in a growing number of European countries have made electoral gains. The right-wing parties range across a wide policy spectrum, from populist and nationalist to far-right neofascist.

 

Both India and Israel which joined the American war against terrorism, have been equating the ‘wars of liberation’ in Palestine and Kashmir with terrorism. Their main purpose is to divert the attention of the West from their own state terrorism, while employing delaying tactics in the solution of these issues.

 

While exaggerating the so-called threat of Islamophobia, the US-led Western countries ignored the Indian extremist Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Israeli fundamentalist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who have continued fanatic policies against the Muslims.

Face of an Anti-Muslim Bigot

As regards the anti-Muslim policy of the UK, on January 18, 2015, while singling out only Muslim women, British Prime Minister David Cameron had announced that Muslim women who fail to learn English to a high enough standard could face deportation from Britain. He also suggested that poor English skills can leave people “more susceptible to the messages of groups like Islamic State (IS).”  His biased statement was firmly criticized by the Muslim MPs and some members of his own party.

 

Similarly, on September 4, this year, in his first Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson came under fire when Opposition Member of Parliament Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who is Sikh and wears a turban, demanded that the prime minister apologize for comments about Muslim women in a newspaper column in August 2018 in which Johnson wrote that women who wear the burka look like “bank robbers” and “letter boxes.”

 

Dhesi elaborated: “For those of us who from a young age have had to endure and put up with being called names such as towelhead or Taliban or coming from Bongo-Bongo Land, we can appreciate the hurt and pain felt by already vulnerable Muslim women…when will the prime minister finally apologise for his derogatory and racist remarks…which have led to a spike in hate crime?” He also asked when the Prime Minister would order an inquiry into allegations of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party”.

 

In this respect, the monitoring organisation Tell Mama found that the number of incidents of anti-Muslim hate crime rose  by 375% in the week after Johnson compared Muslim women who wear burqas to bank robbers and letterboxes.

 

However, the report which was published by the ACR E’s Crescendo Project in partnership with the Public Accountability Initiative stated: “Corporations with global reach in the tech, finance, and media sectors especially have reliably resourced anti-Muslim individuals and groups both domestically and internationally and have created the infrastructure for anti-Muslim messages and bigotry to spread and thrive”.

 

The paper mentioned the companies, including Facebook, Amazon, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, iHeartMedia and Sinclair Broadcast Group “the unindicted co-conspirators of the Christchurch shooter,” who massacred 51 people at two New Zealand mosques in March.

 

According to the report and revelations of the ACRE’s co-executive director Saqib Bhatti: “Anti-Muslim bigotry is on the rise because corporations like Google, Amazon and Fidelity have decided they are OK with white supremacy and anti-Muslim bigotry as long as they can make money out of it…Wall Street firms including Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Vanguard, and Goldman Sachs have funneled millions of dollars to anti-Muslim hate groups. The biggest media culprit in spreading anti-Muslim bigotry is Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp–the corporation that owns Fox News, the New York Post, and many other right-wing media outlets in the US and abroad.…The Guardian reports that News Corp outlets in Australia have served to demonize Muslims and normalize white nationalist talking points. This is important, because the Christchurch shooter is an Australian national who had recently moved to New Zealand, Following the shooting, News Corp’s Sky News Australia aired footage from the shooter’s livestream of the attacks, even though New Zealand authorities and Muslim community leaders had discouraged people from sharing the video out of concern that it could inspire copycat attacks….But these corporations [and]…Social media platforms…weaponize the idea of neutrality, and they hide behind it. Making money off letting white supremacists organize, fundraise, recruit and strategize is not neutral. As such, these corporations all have blood on their hands…Researchers found that major tech platforms have not only “provided a space for unsafe actors…their search and recommendation algorithms also enabled white supremacist and bigoted propaganda to spread further”.

 

The report said: “While the Christchurch shooter’s Facebook Live stream of his massacre was removed, platforms including Twitter, Reddit and YouTube were ineffective in removing duplicates of the video. Their algorithms, which feed users similar content and experts say  has become a tool to gradually radicalize users, further ensured that more and more eyes viewed the footage…these tech platforms have not created strategies to eliminate anti-Muslim bigotry from their sites…researchers wrote, pointing to tech companies’ 2017 cooperation in creating tools to remove ISIS propaganda from their platforms as well as their success in removing copyright-infringing material and images of child sexual abuse”.

 

The report disclosed: “Twitter, too, has been reluctant to clamp down on white supremacist content and “has made a deliberate decision to help normalize anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry by willingly serving as [President Donald] Trump’s megaphone”.

 

In its key findings the report again stated:  “The Christchurch mosque shootings provide clear evidence…the rise of white nationalism…On March 15, 2019, a white supremacist walked into two different mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and started shooting. He killed 50 Muslims and injured another 50, and livestreamed the gruesome attacks on Facebook Live. He prefaced the attacks with a 73-page manifesto, titled “The Great Replacement”, which he emailed out to various public officials and media outlets immediately before he entered the first mosque. The manifesto was littered with white supremacist rhetoric, anti-immigrant conspiracy theories, and neo-Nazi symbols. In the manifesto, the shooter specifically cited Donald Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose…The election of Trump marked new heights for a burgeoning authoritarian, xenophobic worldwide movement that threatens peace, democracy, and human lives all over the globe. Trump joined the ranks of other authoritarian heads of state like Viktor Orbán in Hungary,Narendra Modi in India, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines that have built administrations based on fear, corruption, and xenophobic hate to make way for sweeping undemocratic policies that concentrate political power. Trump has focused specifically on anti-Muslim bigotry, calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during his campaign and enacting the first version of the Muslim ban during his first full week in office….the number of hate groups in the United States grew by 30% over the past four years…crimes in the United States have skyrocketed during his Presidency. In fact, researchers at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom have found a direct correlation between Trump’s anti-Muslim tweets and spikes in hate crimes targeting Muslims”.

 

Notably, in June, this year, ACRE published a report, pointing out almost 50 US corporations which were engaged in anti-Muslim behavior, facilitating anti-Muslim bigotry. It was in accordance with the June-report of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which found that over 1,000 mainstream philanthropic foundations have unwittingly funneled almost $125 million into dozens of anti-Muslim groups from 2014 to 2016. An alliance of Boston-area civil rights groups also launched the Unmasking Fidelity campaign, pushing the Boston-based Fidelity’s Charitable Gift Fund to make groups involved in anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT discrimination ineligible to receive donor-advised contribution.

 

It of particular attention that taking cognizance of the West’s anti-Muslim bigotry, the emergency meeting of Executive Committee of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), convened in Istanbul, on March 23, 2019, strongly condemned the “horrendous and despicable Islamophobic terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand”, and urged the UN Secretary General to convene a special session of the UN General Assembly to declare Islamophobia as a form of racism and to assign a special rapporteur for monitoring and combating the menace in the Western countries.

 

It is mentionable that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was on seven-day visit to the New York City in connection with the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) opened on September 24, 2019. In his interaction with the US lawmakers, scholars, human rights activists and the media, and meetings with the US President Donald Trump and world’s other leaders, he briefed them on the repercussions of the Indian annexation of the disputed Kashmir valley. And during his speech at the UNGA, Imran reiterated the drastic implications of the lockdown in Kashmir, including dimensions of the Islamophobia and some other issues the world is facing.

 

In his address at the UN General Assembly, P.M. Imran Khan said: “Illegally, they [India] revoked Article 370 which gave Kashmir the special status…they put eight million people under curfew…what RSS is. Modi is a life member [of RSS]…It is an organisation inspired by Hitler and Mussolini. They believe in racial purity and superiority. They believe they are an Aryan race…They believe in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims…[Nearly] 100,000 Kashmiris have died in the past 30 years because they were denied their right of self-determination…What about the 1.3bn Muslims watching this who know this is only happening because they are Muslims?….What would the Jews of Europe think if 8,000 Jews were stuck…Among the 1.3bn (Muslims) someone will pick up arms…Muslims will become radicals because of this, not because of Islam….You are forcing people into radicalization…Two nuclear countries will come face to face. If a conventional war starts between the two countries…This is a test of the UN…This is the time not to appease but to take action…Islamophobia is creating divisions, hijab [Scarf] is becoming a weapon; a woman can take off clothes but she can’t put on more clothes…It started after 9/11 and it started because certain western leaders equated Islam with terrorism…There is only one Islam….What message does this [the term] send? How is a person in New York going to distinguish between moderate Muslims and radical Muslims?…This radical Islamic terrorism used by leaders has caused Islamophobia and has caused pain for Muslims…In European countries it is marginalising Muslims, and this leads to radicalisation…The basis of all religions is compassion and justice which differentiates us from the animal kingdom…religion [Islam] was viewed differently in the west, which was why the reaction in the Muslim world to content maligning Islamic personalities was not understood… The holocaust is treated with sensitivity because it gives them [Jews] pain…That’s all we ask. Don’t use freedom of speech to cause us pain”.

 

It is noteworthy that in a speech to university students and teachers in the capital, Baku, President of Azerbaijan stated on November 26, this year: “Azerbaijan won’t seek closer integration with Europe…which is discriminating against Muslims and undermining my country’s traditional values…Shall we integrate with those who are saying ‘Stop Islam?”

 

We can conclude that if not checked in time by the peace-loving Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jews and Buddhists, the US-led West’s anti-Muslim bigotry will bring about a major war between the Muslim and the Christian worlds, which will convert the entire world into holocaust.

 

 

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

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Trump triggers new ‘Great Game’ in South Asia BY ADIL NAJAM

Trump triggers new ‘Great Game’ in South Asia

 

 

Speaking at Fort Myer last week, the president promised that “American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia will change dramatically.” In Afghanistan, it is unlikely to. In South Asia, it already has – in deep but disturbing ways and mostly because of what President Donald Trump had to say about Pakistan.

Here’s how the stakes, consequences and options for each of the major players in South Asia have been transformed.

The speech left Pakistan hurt and angry.

The country’s foreign minister, Khawaja Asif, was livid at President Trump’s threatening tone and words, claiming that his country’s “sacrifices” as an American coalition partner were “disregarded and disrespected.” Pakistan’s National Security Council (NSC), which includes both the prime minister and the military chief, echoed the consensus in Pakistan that both Washington, D.C. and Kabul are bent on “scapegoating” Pakistan for their own failures.

 

Remarkably for Pakistan, President Trump seems to have united a deeply divided country. Government, opposition, military and civil society are all equally offended. All point out how Pakistan itself has had to spend many times more of its own resources in fighting America’s war than whatever America may have provided: 70,000 casualties, 17,000 Pakistanis killed; a nation living in constant fear of Taliban terrorism; an economy devastated to the tune of over $100 billion.

Of course, American allegations that Taliban encampments exist in Pakistan are not new. But President Trump has refused to recognize that Pakistan’s struggles to eliminate them are no less challenging than Afghanistan’s or America’s efforts within Afghanistan. This has been seen as particularly disingenuous.

 

 

 

 

Given the timing, tone and especially the fawning overtures toward India, Pakistanis read President Trump’s speech as the newest episode of abandonment from the nation’s longest but most fickle ally.

Privately, Pakistan and the United States have each long considered the other to be equally unreliable. With President Trump signaling that America will now look elsewhere, Pakistan feels compelled to do the same. Both China and Russia have been quick to exploit the chasm, advancing their own deep interests not only in Afghanistan but in greater South Asia.

Even before Pakistan had made any response to President Trump’s speech, the Chinese, already wildly popular in Pakistan for investing heavily in its infrastructure, responded with an official statement calling Pakistan an “all-weather friend” and thanking it for its “great sacrifices” in the fight against terrorism.

Not to miss the opportunity, Russia’s presidential envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, proclaimed that Pakistan is “a key regional player,” the pressurizing of whom could “result in negative consequences for Afghanistan.”

In Pakistan, such statements and the speed with which they came have been viewed as evidence that Pakistan does have choices, i.e., it may be time for Pakistan to move out of the U.S. orbit and seek deeper alliances elsewhere. Pakistan’s foreign minister, for example, immediately postponed his planned visit to Washington. This is not simply to register displeasure, but to gain time to visit other capitals and explore alternative options.

India’s initial reaction, not surprisingly, was to gloat. Its narrative about Pakistan was thoroughly embraced in President Trump’s speech. However, this is a gift horse they are likely to examine more carefully. Being anointed America’s sheriff in South Asia brings with it a new stress to their already-strained relations with China.

It is inevitable for tension to grow between these two Asian behemoths, but India would clearly have preferred to plan out the timing and terms of the escalation itself.

President Trump’s message to India that it “makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan,” is likely to be met with nothing more than a polite smile from New Delhi. There is certainly no likely relieffor the American taxpayer in how much they have to pay to keep dysfunctional governments in Kabul in place even while 40 percent of Afghanistan remains under Taliban control.

But the biggest consequence of President Trump’s South Asia strategy is that it gives India a license to elevate a new proxy conflict with Pakistan in Afghanistan. Pakistan is clearly terrified of being trapped in a pincer squeeze on its eastern and western borders by its arch nemesis, India.

But Afghanistan, as recent statements from its former president, Hamid Karzai, suggest, can also not be thrilled by the prospect of yet another major power becoming entrenched in yet another “Great Game.”

Therein lies what is truly new and frightening in Donald Trump’s South Asia strategy.

For the entirety of the last seven decades – including throughout the Cold War, when India was firmly ensconced as a Soviet ally – the American goal in South Asia was, above all, to maintain regional stability. The aim was to avoid and to actively resist tensions in a region that was a powder keg well before India decided to go rogue with nuclear weapons, and Pakistan followed suit. As of last week, the new American policy is to pit neighbor against neighbor in South Asia.

One day, one hopes, someone will explain to President Trump, like Chinese President Xi Jinping did about why North Korea is “complicated,” why the India-Pakistan relationship really is as fraught with danger as it is.

Meanwhile, an abdication of America’s traditional stabilizing role in South Asia has been announced. Afghanistan that will get kicked around the most, as five of the six largest militaries in the world (China, India, the United States, Russia and Pakistan), all nuclear, jockey for advantage in whatever the new South Asian balance of alliances might become.

Let us all hope that the unimaginable remains unimagined.

Adil Najam is the founding dean of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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Mr.Trump Don’t Miscalculate: US dangerous game with Pakistan: Safe heavens stunt as Weapons of Mass Destruction – Times of Islamabad

-OpEd: US dangerous game with Pakistan: Safe heavens stunt as Weapons of Mass Destruction

Trump Don’t Miscalculate

Trump is dragging the US military, already pretty thinly spread, to enter nuclear armed and China’s ally Pakistan. It can trigger Third World War . Two hundred million Pakistanis will fight to the last man.Vietnam and Gulf War would look like boy scouts jamboree.. And India will be nuclear toast, if it attacks Pakistan from Afghanistan. India’s nuclear weapons are unreliable.

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-OpEd: US dangerous game with Pakistan: Safe heavens stunt as Weapons of Mass Destruction

The US is finding the war in Afghanistan a little too hot for its liking and why not; it was a war that remained in search of strategy and failed to find it. It’s not that I wish to gloat, nor that I want to say ‘I told you so’, but that one is forced to respond when confronted with accusations that the US failed in Afghanistan on account of Pakistan.

  • That we were a tricky two-faced partner. Since I was closely associated with this conflict for a number of years and since I am aware of the things that happened, it is only right that people such as me must speak for Pakistan just as we fought for Pakistan.
  • That a hundred and fifty thousand NATO troops have been overwhelmed by the imagined hoards that Pakistan sent across the border, challenges my professional understanding of the situation.
  • That this is the same border that neither Afghanistan recognises and resists its management or fencing, of course, cannot have escaped US attention.
  • That Pakistan has seven times the number of posts than Afghanistan and the US combined does not seem to make any headway.
  • That Afghan communication systems are functioning despite Pakistan’s repeated requests that they be shut down while Pakistani SIMs are down and out is another moot point.
  • That three Generals of the US Army promised additional border deployment with a US brigade across the North Waziristan Border remains a promise unfulfilled and forgotten.
  • That the US unilaterally up-staked and left Nuristan and the Kunar Valley, one of the most dangerous areas on the border, creating a vacuum is a question that only they can answer.
  • That Pakistani dissidents were given safe havens in this vacuum and encouraged to attack Pakistan is for all to see and take note of.
  • That the MOAB (Mother of all Bombs) accounted for 14 Indians from Kerala amongst the causalities was never a surprise for us.
  • That India is permitted to have so many conciliates along the Border, and none are processing visas is an obvious aberration.
  • That Pakistan suffered horrendous terrorist attacks from Afghanistan through these bands of militants organised and facilitated in Kunar is a no brainer.

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“Confronting Assad’s regime in Syria: Role of United States and Russia” By   Sherry Sharyl

“Confronting Assad’s regime in Syria: Role of United States and Russia”

 

By

Sherry Sharyl

 

 

 

 

Middle East has always remained the center of the world politics since World War II, end of
which created the UNO and in 1948 the State of Israel. After the birth of Israel, Middle East
became the battle zone where israel’s hegemony was to be promoted in order to bring major

militarily armed states of Middle East to a position where major powers of the world could
indoctrinate their own political and economic agendas in the region. Before that, this region
was famous for its natural resources and oil reserves and its Mediterranean trade route. Above
all, Israel and Palestine conflict, then the Israel’s traditional wars with its neighboring states
had become the persistent tension in the Middle East.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recent developments in the region during previous years have depicted a different picture of
conflicts in the oil rich region. Since 2011, the civil war in Syria in order to confront Assad’s
regime has badly affected the security situation in the Middle East. Before the civil war,
Syrian people complained about the bad governance, raised unemployment, illiteracy,
corruption, poverty, lack of political freedom, under the Assad’s presidency. Then the Arab
spring in Tunisia, in 2011 has further added fuel to the fire, the syrian pro-democratic
demonstrator erupted the city of Deraa demanding the President’s Assad’s resignation. The
Assad’s government acted aggressively and crush the protestors by the use of deadly force.
Unfortunately, this anti-government protest spreads nationwide, thus resulting in never
ending civil war in Syria. This civil war has made easier for the world and regional powers
i.e, Russia, United States, Iran, Saudia Arabia and Turkey to interfere into the political
impasse in Syria by acting in support of (Russia and Iran) or by taking harsh steps (USA and
Saudi Arabia) against Assad’s regime not for the conflict resolution but for their own
interests. The logistical, financial and political support and interference of the external
powers for and against the Assad’s regime, has further fueled the sectarian conflicts,
terrorism, Rebellion movements and extremism. Thus, the civil war in Syria than turned into
proxy battleground because of the involvement of the world and regional powers.
Now the Assad’s regime has become the victim of the world’s major powers, thus it has
initiated a new cold war which is unlikely to get a promising end. The Syrian proxy war has
again results in the formation of two blocks along with their allied states, i.e, Russia( China,
Iran and Afghanistan) US ( Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Israel).

 

 

 

 

 

Syria is strategically and economically important to both US and Russia in the Middle East.
Russia along with China has increased its political, economic and military support to the
Assad’s regime. The primary goal of Russia is to protect and support the Assad’s regime
against the international intervention, Russia wants to counter the United States influence in
the Middle East and Russia has the vast economic interests in Syria. Syria is one of the
largest importers of military equipments, about 4 billlion dollars of arms contracts have been
signed between Syria and Russia. Besides military equipments, Russian oil and gas
companies has been invested in Syria. Soiuzneftegaz and Tatneft have been extracting oil and
gas in Syria since 2003, Stroitransgaz has built extensive natural gas pipeline and processing
plants. Currently it is constructing a second plant near the city of Rakka which will process,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

approximatly 1.3 billion cubic meters of gas. Russian companies are also constructing nuclear
power plant for the production of energy. Manufacturing companies of Russia i.e, Uralmash
which provides drilling equipment to the pertroleum company of Syria, Tupolev and
Aviastar-SP has provided passenger airplanes to the Syrian Air lines. Beside economic
interest, strategic interests of Russia in this region are of great importance. For this, the only
Tartus naval base of Russia in Syria is left, but it’s not a true military base because it is not
hosted permanently by the Russian army, its only purpose is to repair and resupply the ships to
the Mediterranean. Therefore, Russian government and the Russian exporters fear that the
regime change in Syria will lead to the loss of contracts and as well as economy and will
weaken the Russian influence in Syria, as well as in the Middle East.
The United States interest in Syria is quite different; it’s strategic rather than economic. The
main interest of United States is to counter the terrorism and the mushroom growth of
terrorist organizations within Syria and in the Middle East. US main aim is to counter ISIS
(Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). US with the help of its Kurdish Allies is countering ISIS.
Al-Qaeda have been sending its militants to the Syria to support the Assad’s regime.
Strategically, the civil war in Syria will have enormous impacts for the region and for the US.
Syrian alliance with Iran can brought major changes in the policies of Saudi Arabia and
Israel. Iran proliferate arms and other goods to fuel the militant organizations in Syria i.e,
Hamas in Gaza strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon and its allies. Beside this, Tehran keeps on
supporting Assad regime politically and militarily. The Russian influence in Syria goes all the
way back to cold war. Most importantly, US wants to protect its bosom friend Israel from
Iran’s and terrorist threats. Therefore, Iran, terrorism and Russia are the brutal and intractable
enemies of the US in the Middle East.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Therefore, the responsibility of war crime and crime against humanity must be held
accountable in Syria. The brutal chemical attacks, casualties of the innocent civilians,
violation of International humanitarian law by ISIS and other terrorist organizations, must be
punished. The use of Chemical weapons, by Assad against rebels and other civilians, must be
punished for their brutal act. By these unhumantarian acts, it has been concluded that Assad’s
regime in Syria is a threat to Syrian citizens as well as development in Syria. Both the cold
war rivals and their allied states should try to settle conflicts in Syria and help

 

Reference for Graphics & Maps

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