Tuesday, March 13, 2012

460 US threatens UN funding if Palestine recognized; ICC a tool of empire over Gaddafi & Mladic

US threatens UN funding if Palestine recognized; ICC a tool of empire over Gaddafi & Mladic

(1) US threatens UN funding if Palestine recognized
(2) ICC issues Gaddafi arrest warrant
(3) Similar indictments could be leveled against US-backed regimes; ICC a tool of empire
(4) Mladic at World Court, but no ICC Warrant for Bush (as demanded by ElBaradei), Blair or Israel
(5) Journalist Robert Fisk faces libel action for pointing out Bahrain-Saudi alliance

(1) US threatens UN funding if Palestine recognized

From: Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics Earth Sciences) <sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu> Date: 28.06.2011 05:59 PM

The Telegraph, 24 June 2011. 

"US 'could withdraw funding from UN if Palestine state is recognised'"

By Jon Swaine and Adrian Blomfield

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/palestinianauthority/8597559/US-could-withdraw-funding-from-UN-if-Palestine-state-is-recognised.html

Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the UN, said there was "no greater threat" to US support and funding of the UN than the prospect of Palestinian statehood being endorsed by member states.

Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian authority, plans to ask the UN general assembly, which comprises all 192 members, to vote on recognition at its annual meeting in New York in September.

The US and Israel are pressing Mr Abbas to drop his plans. Mr Obama has strongly opposed the move, raising the prospect of a veto in the UN Security Council, which is expected to vote on a Palestinian statehood proposal in July.

But Palestinian officials have spoken of their determination to a circumvent a US veto by deploying a rarely used Cold War mechanism known as "Uniting for Peace" under which a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly can override the Security Council.

Although Palestinians believe they are close to securing such a majority, the General Assembly does not have the power to confer UN membership on a new Palestinian state, meaning that a successful vote would represent little more than a symbolic triumph.

Even so, Republicans in the US Congress are promising to react aggressively to any approval of statehood. Two congressmen have already vowed to initiate bills to withdraw UN funding in the House of Representatives.

Such a development could be devastating to the UN. The US provides almost a quarter of its $2.5 billion (£1.6 billion) annual budget, making a yearly contribution of almost $600 million (£375 million).

Speaking at an event in Washington, Miss Rice said the Obama administration was devoting "extraordinary efforts and energy" to restarting middle-eastern peace talks so that a vote in September could be avoided.

On the prospect of it being approved, she said: "This would be exceedingly politically damaging in our domestic context, as you can well imagine.

"And I cannot frankly think of a greater threat to our ability to maintain financial and political support for the United Nations in Congress than such an outcome".

A video of Miss Rice making the comments has been removed from the internet.

Attempting to play down their significance, a spokesman for the ambassador said: "These were informal remarks in a domestic setting."

The US is desperate to avoid being put into a position of having to wield its veto. With growing international support for Palestinian statehood, even in Europe, the US is looking increasingly isolated in its support for Israel and a veto would badly damage Mr Obama's credentials in a rapidly changing Middle East.

But the president faces a politically damaging backlash from the pro-Israeli lobby and its many supporters in Congress if he does not block a resolution, a move that could also cost all-important Jewish votes in key swing states like Florida during next year's presidential election.

Mr Obama has already angered the Israeli government and its US supporters by calling for a Palestinian state that roughly corresponds to the existing boundaries of the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel occupied after the Six Day war of 1967.

The move was intended to rejuvenate the stalled Middle East peace process.

But Palestinian officials, in public at least, say they remain committed to a UN vote as the only realistic way of breaking the deadlock.

Western powers have backed a two-year Palestinian state-building programme that reaches fruition at the end of August. It has already been judged a success by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and Palestinian officials say it would be hypocritical for the West to back the state-building exercise but not its "logical outcome".

Britain has indicated that it would not join the US in vetoing Palestinian statehood in the Security Council. But David Cameron is also hoping to avert a highly divisive vote in the general assembly.

"The question is whether we can do anything that might deflect the Palestinians from going ahead with this," a British diplomatic source said.

Some Palestinian officials have conceded in private that they do not want to fall out with Mr Obama and are working on ways to resume peace talks with Israel and postpone a statehood vote.

(2) ICC issues Gaddafi arrest warrant

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/27/muammar-gaddafi-arrest-warrant-hague

War crimes court issues Gaddafi arrest warrant

ICC orders Libyan leader and his son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, to stand trial on charges of torturing and killing civilians and rebels

Ian Black, Middle East editor

guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 June 2011 15.24 BST

The international criminal court has issued an arrest warrant for Muammar Gaddafi over crimes against humanity committed against opponents of his regime – in a move that worsens prospects for a negotiated solution to the Libyan crisis.

The court, based in The Hague, also issued warrants for Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam and the Libyan intelligence chief, Abdullah al-Senussi, at the request of the ICC's chief prosecutor.

Gaddafi, in power since 1969, is only the world's second serving head of state to be issued with an ICC arrest warrant. A warrant for the arrest of Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, was issued in March 2009 over alleged crimes in Darfur.

Arrests were necessary to prevent a cover-up and more crimes, said the ICC presiding judge, Sanji Mmasenono Monageng.

The investigation launched by the court's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, follows a referral on 26 February by the UN security council. Resolution 1970 was supported by all members of the council, including Russia and China, which are unhappy with the Nato bombing campaign.

The ICC has been attacked by some for pursuing legal avenues at the expense of a possible political solution. Critics argue that Gaddafi and his closest associates will have no incentive to relinquish power or go into voluntary exile if they know they are certain to end up in the dock in The Hague.

In Britain, which is playing a leading role in Nato's military campaign, some officials have said privately that the ICC case could be left "on the back burner" in the hope this would encourage Gaddafi to seek sanctuary in a friendly African country.

The Libyan leader has rejected any suggestion that he will stand down or leave the country. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who is well connected in the UK, has also vowed to "live or die" in Libya.

The Benghazi-based Libyan rebels have strongly supported the ICC case and submitted evidence to the prosecutor. ...

The ICC was established in 2002 as a permanent court to try those accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide if the accused's own country cannot or will not do so.

(3) Similar indictments could be leveled against US-backed regimes; ICC a tool of empire

ICC orders arrest of Gaddafi as NATO bombings reach 100th day

By Bill Van Auken
28 June 2011

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/jun2011/liby-j28.shtml

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi Monday as NATO’s bombardment of Libya continued into its 100th day.

In addition, the ICC handed down arrest warrants for the Libyan leader’s son Seif al-Islam Gaddafi and the Libyan regime’s intelligence chief, Abjullah al-Sanoussi.

The orders were issued in response to a 74-page indictment handed to the court in May by ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who based the charges of crimes against humanity largely on testimony of the so-called rebels aligned with NATO and claims made by Western security agencies.

While maintaining the pretense that Gaddafi and the other two charged are innocent until proven guilty, the ICC presiding judge Sanji Monageng of Botswana said on Monday that there existed “reasonable grounds to believe” that Gaddafi and his son are “criminally responsible as indirect perpetrators” of the killing and repression of civilians. She maintained that similar grounds existed to believe that Sanoussi bore responsibility for directing alleged crimes, in particular in the suppression of anti-government resistance in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi last February.

The arrest order alleges that “following the events in Tunisia and Egypt which led to the departure of their respective presidents in the early months of 2011, a State policy was designed at the highest level of the Libyan State machinery and aimed at deterring and quelling, by any means, including by the use of lethal force, the demonstrations of civilians against Gaddafi's regime which started in February 2011.”

Concretely, it charges that, “within a period of less than two weeks in February 2011, the Security Forces killed and injured as well as arrested and imprisoned hundreds of civilians.”

It is indisputable that similar indictments could be leveled against US-backed regimes and allies in the region that unleashed bloody repression in the wake of the events in Tunisia and Egypt. This includes the al-Khalifa royal family in Bahrain (together with its accomplices in the Saudi monarchy) and Washington’s long-time ally in Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh. For that matter, Egypt’s ousted US-backed President Hosni Mubarak could just as well be charged for crimes against humanity for the killing, torture and repression of thousands of Egyptians in the weeks preceding his downfall.

That no such indictments or arrest orders have been issued only underscores that the International Criminal Court is a pliant tool of the US and the other major imperialist powers in pursuit of “regime change.”

The arrest order was immediately seized upon by the US and its European allies as well as NATO to justify their 100-day-old war of aggression against Libya. At the same time, it serves as a means of scuttling multiple ongoing attempts to broker a ceasefire and negotiated political settlement in the North African country.

NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, claimed that the arrest order “reinforces the reason for NATO’s mission to protect the Libyan people from Gaddafi’s forces,” adding that “NATO is more determined than ever to keep up the pressure until all attacks on civilians have ended.”

Rasmussen made the statement in the immediate aftermath of another NATO bombing raid which inflicted mass civilian casualties. According to the Libyan government, NATO warplanes struck the eastern oil port of Brega, striking a restaurant and a bakery, killing 15 Libyans and wounding another 20, including both workers and customers.

The pretense that the war is being waged to “protect the Libyan people” has been shattered by repeated strikes against Libyan civilian infrastructure and the deaths of hundreds of men, women and children. NATO warplanes have now completed close to 5,000 “strike sorties”, attacking on average 50 targets a day.

The US admiral who heads NATO Joint Operations Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, recently confirmed in Congressional testimony that a principal aim of the US-NATO bombing campaign is the assassination of Gaddafi as a means of accomplishing regime change.

The online edition of Foreign Policy magazine, citing Republican Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, reported that Locklear told the congressional panel last month that “NATO forces are actively targeting and trying to kill Gaddafi”. This is despite the Obama administration’s claims that it is acting under the mandate of the United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing a no fly zone and protection of civilians and is not pursuing regime change.

According to Turner, Locklear also told the committee that once Gaddafi’s assassination or overthrow was accomplished, “ground troops would be needed during the immediate period of instability.”

The White House and the US State Department hailed the ICC arrest warrants. “It’s another indication that he has lost his legitimacy,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney, referring to Gaddafi. “It’s another step in this process of holding him accountable.”

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the “court decision underscored the gravity of what we’ve been witnessing in Libya.” She added that the US “believes that the decision to refer the case to the ICC was the right decision, that the ICC has spoken now about the need for justice and accountability.

What hypocrisy! The United States refuses to recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC and “unsigned” the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the body, to underscore its rejection of the court. Top US officials and members of Congress have regularly denounced it as a kangaroo court that endangers US sovereignty. ...

(4) Mladic at World Court, but no ICC Warrant for Bush (as demanded by ElBaradei), Blair or Israel

From: Sandhya Jain <sandhya206@bol.net.in> Date: 10.06.2011 09:43 AM
Subject: Mladic and international justice: Age of deception-Eric Walberg-10 June 2011

Mladic and international justice: Age of deception

Eric Walberg

10 June 2011

http://ericwalberg.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=352:mladic-and-international-justice-age-of-deception&catid=39:europe-canada-and-us-&Itemid=92

Ratko Mladic, the most wanted fugitive of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), was arrested last week [27 May 2011] after 16 years on the run. As former commander of the Republika Srpska Army from 1992–96, he was indicted by the ICTY following the capture of Srebrenica in July 1995, and charged by ICTY Judge Richard Goldstone with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of laws and practices of warfare from 1992 to 1995 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The same indictment charged Radovan Karadzic, president of the Republika Srpska and Mladic's supreme commander.

From May 1992, Bosnian Serb forces under the command of Mladic took control of the self-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (since renamed Republika Srpska). Thousands of Muslims fled to Bosnia and Herzegovina government-controlled territory including Srebrenica and Sarajevo, and by 1995, after attacks on these areas, 8,000 Bosniaks, primarily Muslim, had been killed.

The ICTY has tried other Serbs, including Mladic's deputy Radislav Krstic (sentenced in 2001 to 46 years later reduced to 35), Biljana Plavsic (sentenced in 2002 to 11 years), Serbia's ex-president Slobodan Milosevic (died during his trial in 2006), and Momcilo Krajisnik (sentenced in 2008 to 20 years). Karadzic was finally arrested in Belgrade in 2008. His trial began in 2009, but he refuses to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the court or enter a plea, claiming there is a conspiracy against him.

Crimes were committed in the break-up of Yugoslavia, as is always the case in a civil war. But the Mladices were pawns in a geopolitical game in the Balkans, with the main actors in European capitals and in Washington. Milosevic's self-defence is the stuff of legend, and Karadzic called the tribunal a "court of NATO" disguised as a court of the international community.

Even ignoring the criticism that these trials are in effect show trials by the victors, if the ICTY is truly impartial, the fact remains that charges similar to the ones against Mladic and Karadzic can be levelled word-for-word at US president George W Bush for "violations of laws and practices of warfare" in undertaking an illegal war against Iraq. Egypt's Mohamed ElBaradei has done precisely that, both in his memoirs The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times and on US television, where he bravely charged that Bush administration officials should face international criminal investigation for the "shame of a needless war" in Iraq.

And just as Mladic will be prosecuted for ethnic cleansing and killing "on political, racial and religious grounds", so should be the entire political elite of Israel during the past six decades, for blatant ethnic cleansing "on political, racial and religious grounds". Many Europeans and even a few Americans have tried to do just that by launching civil suits against various Israeli and American politicians and military officers in recent years. Bush, for one, has been notably absent from Europe in drumming up sales for his own memoirs Decision Points.

There is no International Tribunal for the United States and/or Israel, and little likelihood of this happening. On whether former British prime minister Tony Blair could be tried for war crimes, Hans Blix, who headed the UN inspection team to investigate Iraq's supposed WMDs, said, "Well, yes, may be so. It's not very likely to happen." He testified to the illegality of the war at the British Iraq War Inquiry board last year but to no avail. Attempts to impeach Bush were similarly brushed aside by Congress.

However, citizens' arrests and legal measures by Palestinians, Iraqis and Westerners in European courts will continue — at least until Zionist forces in Europe succeed in pushing through legislation protecting the criminals, as is presently in the works in Britain.

Mladic's forces "seized and held over 200 UN staff members as hostages … to deter further air strikes in those areas where the hostages were being held," the indictment states. But what about the dozens of UN peacekeepers that Israel has targetted and killed since the first UN force rushed in to put out the serial fires lit by Israel from 1948 on? As it invaded Egypt in 1967, Israeli bombers killed 14 UN peacekeepers stranded there, without any fallout. "Some of the hostages were assaulted and otherwise maltreated during their captivity," the indictment of Mladic states. I'm sure the ghosts of those UN peacekeepers would much prefer to have been merely maltreated.

What would a comparable indictment of the US and Israel sound like? ElBaradei estimated that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have needlessly died due to the invasion. Israel has ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, killed tens of thousands, jailed and tortured more tens of thousands as political prisoners. Mladic's crimes pale in comparison.

The ICTY was an ad hoc tribunal set up by the UN Security Council in 1993, reminiscent of the Nuremberg tribunal following WWII to try Nazi war criminals. It functions in tandem with the ICC, the world court proposed in 1919 but only ratified in 2002 following the end of the Cold War. Since then, the ICC is the body that investigates crimes against humanity or illegal wars where local courts are found wanting.

Given the inability of US and Israel to face up to their crimes, the ICC would therefore be the appropriate body to prosecute Americans and Israelis, but they are conveniently not members, unlike all of South America, half of Africa, all of Europe, even the Palestinian National Authority.

The US has blackmailed and bullied any country it could to sign so-called "Article 98 agreements", supposedly providing immunity to US citizens in those countries from any indicts by the world court. In 2003, the US stopped military aid to 35 offending countries (among them nine European countries). In 2005, Angola became the 100th country to cave in to US pressure. Amnesty International and the European Commission Legal Service argue that these agreements are not valid, though no one has yet dared to test that claim.

So far the International Cricket Council (excuse me, the International Criminal Court) has undertaken six investigations - all in Africa, the latest being in Libya, or what's left of it after more than two months of NATO bombing. While NATO countries led by France and Britain pursue a clearly illegal war against Libya, the ICC bizarrely charges not them but Libya leader Muammar Gaddafi and his son Saif Al-Islam - the victims of the Europeans' criminal invasion - with crimes against humanity. This, despite the cozy relationship enjoyed by Britain, France and the hapless Gaddafis until a few months ago. The ICC is the empire's watchdog rather than its conscience, let alone the world's conscience. 

Referring to Iraq, though he could just as easily been referring to the destruction of Yugoslavia or Palestine, ElBaradei asks, "Do we, as a community of nations, have the wisdom and courage to take the corrective measures needed, to ensure that such a tragedy will never happen again?" Sadly, the answer is no. Again under UN auspices, Judge Goldstone attempted to bring Israel to justice after its invasion of Gaza in 2009, but ended up running for cover after yet another illegal US-Israeli war - this time of words - against a supposedly "self-hating Jew".

Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ You can reach him at http://ericwalberg.com/. You can order his book Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games at http://claritypress.com/Walberg.html

(5) Journalist Robert Fisk faces libel action for pointing out Bahrain-Saudi alliance

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/jun2011/fisk-j27.shtml

By Jean Shaoul
27 June 2011

On June 14, Bahrain, the tiny island kingdom in the Persian Gulf off the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, announced that it is to sue the Independent newspaper for libel over an article written by its veteran Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk.

Bahrain, ruled by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, accused the newspaper of deliberately “orchestrating a defamatory and premeditated media campaign” and “failing to abide by professional impartiality and credibility in its one-sided news-coverage and reports”.

Fisk accused Bahrain’s ruling family of starting “an utterly fraudulent trial” of the surgeons, doctors, paramedics and nurses treating those injured four months ago when security forces opened fire on protesters. He said that the Saudis were running the country, writing, “They never received an invitation to send their own soldiers to support the Bahraini ‘security forces’ from the Bahraini Crown Prince, who is a decent man. They simply invaded and received a post-dated invitation.

“The subsequent destruction of ancient Shia mosques in Bahrain was a Saudi project, entirely in line with the kingdom’s Taliban-style hatred of all things Shia. Could the Bahraini prime minister be elected, I asked a member of the royal court last February? ‘The Saudis would not permit this,’ he replied. Of course not. Because they now control Bahrain. Hence the Saudi-style doctors’ trial”.

Fisk concluded, “Bahrain is no longer the kingdom of the Khalifas. It has become a Saudi palatinate, a confederated province of Saudi Arabia, a pocket-size weasel state from which all journalists should in future use the dateline: Manama, Occupied Bahrain”.

The threatened libel suit is a major attack on press freedom. But despite this, there has been an almost complete blackout of the announcement by the rest of the media. The nominally liberal Guardian merely reported the announcement without comment.

The legal action takes advantage of Britain’s notorious libel laws, which provide a powerful weapon for those with unlimited cash to silence their critics. It will, at the very least, tie up the Independent’s resources for months. At worst, it could bankrupt it, forcing its closure, as similar law suits closed ITV’s flagship current affairs programme World in Action more than a decade ago.

Whether or not the action goes ahead, its purpose is to intimidate the media and stifle any discussion of the Bahrain-Saudi link and Saudi Arabia’s broader role in the Middle East, as well as any criticism of the imperialist powers’ support for the oil-rich Gulf monarchies.

The US and Western governments, acutely conscious of the danger that political upheaval in Bahrain represents to their geopolitical interests, have given the green light to repression.

Just a few days ago, the British government admitted that it had trained the Saudi forces used in Bahrain. It confirmed that Britain has been providing training for the Saudi national guard to improve their “internal security and counter-terrorism” capabilities since 1964. Last year, Britain exported arms and weaponry worth more £110 million to Saudi Arabia.

Last September, the United States negotiated a $60 billion arms deal, the largest in US history, with the Saudis, who said that they will increase the size of their armed forces and National Guard. Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, providing a principal platform for the projection of Washington’s military power in the Persian Gulf, through which one-fifth of the world’s oil supplies pass.

Saudi Arabia has long been a strategic ally of US imperialism and, as the world’s largest oil exporter, is the one country capable of boosting production to make up for crises elsewhere and preventing an uncontrolled spiralling of fuel prices.

These interests generally dictate the self-censorship of the mass media, which carry little reporting or analysis of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. But what little has been reported in no way conflicts with Fisk’s analysis. Saudi Arabia has played a leading role in the moves to stifle the Arab Spring, not just in Bahrain, but in Yemen, Libya, Syria and elsewhere.

As one of America’s three major props in the region, along with Israel and Egypt, Washington turns a blind eye to the merciless repression carried out by the Saudi monarchy.

Using its guardianship of two of Islam’s three holy sites to bolster its claim to defend the Muslim faith, the Saudi dynasty vies for regional influence with Iran, portraying this as a religious conflict against “heretical” Shiites, and winning support from the other Gulf monarchies to preserve its eastern front.

For decades, Riyadh has used its enormous oil wealth to cultivate Sunni Islamic clerics and Salafist groups and finance large-scale campaigns of religious education and television programmes broadcast throughout the Middle East and Central Asia as a counterweight to secular opposition, Shia movements and Iran. It is a key investor and trading partner in most countries.

It has not hesitated to play the sectarian card, whipping up hostility to the Shia minorities within the region to divide any domestic dissent, prevent the growth of pro-Iranian Shiite political parties and to counter Iran’s influence. It has routinely blamed Iranian “interference” in Bahrain and the Yemen for the unrest there without producing any evidence, as the US has acknowledged. ...



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