Warning of jihadist threat, Libya PM pleads for help
By Ibrahim Hadeia
Al-Baida (Libya) (AFP) - The head of Libya's recognised government has pleaded for more help from the international community, warning that the country could become a dangerous haven for jihadists on Europe's doorstep.
In an interview with AFP ahead of hoped-for peace talks in Geneva this week, Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani said his government especially needed the lifting of an arms embargo to combat militias defying its authority.
"The international community must cooperate with Libya to put an end to extremism and terrorism and help government institutions, namely the army, by lifting the arms embargo," Thani said at his headquarters in the eastern city of Al-Baida.
The UN Security Council imposed the arms embargo at the start of Libya's 2011 uprising, which ousted and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi, to protect civilians from his forces.
More than three years later, Libya is engulfed in chaos and hobbled by rival governments and parliaments as a myriad of armed groups battle for control of territory.
Thani's government, which is recognised by the international community, and the elected parliament have been based in the remote east since an Islamist-led coalition seized Tripoli in August.
The coalition known as Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) also holds third city Misrata. It launched a bloody offensive in December to seize control of key oil terminals but was repelled by the army.
Islamists, led by the UN-blacklisted Ansar al-Sharia, also control parts of second city Benghazi in the east and have been locked in battle with pro-government forces since May.
"The international community classified Ansar al-Sharia as a terrorist organisation and it is leading an international coalition to crush such groups in Iraq and Syria," Thani said of the US-led alliance against the Islamic State group.
"But in Libya, the government and armed forces are battling these groups alone, without any support from the international community," he said.
"We are afraid that the groups that are in Syria and Iraq will infiltrate Libya if they (coalition forces) tighten the noose around them there," Thani said.
- 'Last chance' talks in Geneva -
In November, the Security Council blacklisted Ansar al-Sharia for its ties to Al-Qaeda at the request of Britain, France and the United States.
The measure targets Ansar al-Sharia Benghazi and its sister group Ansar al-Sharia Derna, which pledged allegiance to IS in October.
Jihadists are reported to have set up camps in Libya, including in the remote southern desert, to train militants to fight in Mali, Iraq or Syria.
The brutality of the jihadists was highlighted last week when they claimed to have killed two Tunisian journalists captured in Libya in September.
Since Kadhafi's fall, authorities have struggled to build a new army and police force and complain that they are ill-equipped to confront jihadists.
After backing the revolt against Kadhafi with air strikes, Western governments have been wary of intervening again in Libya.
President Francois Hollande earlier this month ruled out a unilateral French intervention, saying it was first up to "the international community to live up to its responsibilities."
The United Nations on Saturday announced plans for the new round of talks this week in Geneva, without giving a specific date.
Saying Libya is at a "crucial juncture," the European Union said the meeting "represents a last chance which must be seized. "
Previous attempts to hold talks in Libya have been repeatedly delayed amid intensified fighting.
The UN Security Council has warned that it would impose sanctions on any party that undermines peace efforts.
Thani said his government was ready for talks, but not with armed groups that refuse to recognise its authority.
"The government will take part in any dialogue aimed at saving the country," he said, "but we will not sit at the same table as groups who have carried arms against the government and defy its legitimacy."
France preparing military strikes against southern Libya
By Thomas Gaist
10 January 2015
The French military is preparing to launch strikes against targets in Libya within the next three months according to an anonymous French diplomatic official who spoke to the London-based Arab-language paper Asharq Al-Awsat.
“I am ready to bet that this intervention will take place within three months,” the unnamed diplomatic source said.
“The question is no longer whether France will intervene militarily in Libya, but when,” the diplomat made clear in comments made late last week .
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian gave similar indications during his visit to Niger last week while visiting a new French military base near the Niger-Libyan border. Without openly calling for war, Le Drian strongly indicated that the French government and military consider some form of intervention in Libya as imminent.
“We think that the moment has come to ensure that the international community tackles the Libyan problem. I think this is also what President Issoufou believes,” Le Drian commented, referring to his recent meeting with the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou.
President Issoufou explicitly called for military intervention by the Western powers in Libya, reiterating the position of several African heads of state that military action by the major powers is necessary to contain rising chaos in the country. “An international intervention is essential to the reconciliation of all Libyans,” Issoufou said last week.
Tobruk regime representative Ashur Bou Rashed echoed these demands, calling for intervention by the major powers in support of the government.
“We call on the international community to assume its legal and moral responsibilities and to arm, without further delay, the Libyan army,” Rashed said.
Defense Minister Le Drian issued grave warnings in recent weeks that Libya has become an incubator for violent extremist groups. Libya had become a “sanctuary for terrorists,” he warned, in a speech to assembled French troops stationed in Niger's capital of Niamey.
“Libya is in chaos today and it is a breeding ground for terrorists who threaten the stability of Niger and, further afield, France,” Le Drian said.
Le Drian insisted that Libya is becoming “a hotbed of terrorism in the heart of the Mediterranean” and that the NATO powers must not “remain passive,” in similar remarks at the end of December.
Previous statements by the French defense minister made clear the new incursions into southern Libya are one component in a broader, continent-wide neocolonial agenda pursued by French imperialism. Le Drian said that counterterrorism operations by French troops and local proxy forces would be necessary across an “area that runs from the Horn of Africa to Guinea-Bissau.”
Le Drian’s invocations of the threat posed by terrorist groups in Libya turns reality on its head. For decades, the US and European governments have cultivated Islamist and other extremist militant groups as political allies and paramilitary proxy forces.
During its more recent machinations in Libya and Syria, the US government directly supplied weapons, training, and financial aid to extremist militants linked with Al Qaeda. Militant groups throughout Africa and the Middle East, including the extremist militants backed by the US and NATO against Gaddafi, receive financial support from US-aligned governments in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The driving force behind the tide of imperialist violence sweeping across Africa is not the threat of terrorism, but the financial and commercial interests of the US and European capitalist elites, who are striving to expand their spheres of control on the continent and counter growing Chinese economic influence through war. The looming renewed military assault on Libya is only the latest phase in the long-term imperialist agenda to reorganize African politics along neocolonial lines.
Aside from helping overthrow governments, the main role of extremist groups in Africa, as in the Middle East and southern Asia, is to serve as the central bogey man of the all-purpose ideological cover of the “war on terror.” The very same social forces which the imperialists had supported during the onslaught against Libya are now cynically presented as the justification for endless new wars and occupations.
Barely more than a year after arming Islamist brigades with known ties to Al Qaeda organizations as a means to overthrow Gaddafi—propelling a huge outflow of weapons and militias across the border from Libya into nearby countries in the Sahel and West Africa—France launched a full-scale invasion of Mali, codenamed Operation Serval.
Supposedly in response to the seizure of towns in northern areas of the country by Islamist militants and Tuareg mercenaries fleeing the breakup of the Gaddafi regime, Operation Serval aimed to achieve the “total reconquest” of Mali, Defense Minister Le Drian boasted in 2013.
Operation Serval has proven to be the spearhead for the establishment of a permanent French military occupation of the Sahel, under the umbrella of Serval’s successor project, codenamed Operation Barkhane.
Operation Barkhane, officially launched on August 9 with air strikes against targets in northern Mali’s Essakane region, gives a sense of the real purpose behind the drumbeat of new military missions being developed by US and European militaries against Libya and numerous other African countries.
Barkhane’s stated goal is to “regionalize” French military efforts throughout the Sahel, establishing a network of bases and permanent troop deployments that will serve as the foundation for continuously expanding “region-wide securitization efforts,” to be conducted by thousands of French troops dispersed across countries including Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania. The areas of the Sahel desert occupied by French forces contain major uranium resources that are critical for the operations of French capitalism.
Barkhane’s command staff will be stationed in Chad’s capital of N’Djamena, along with a new air force base to provide aerial surveillance and air support for the mission. The operation has also established a headquarters for special forces units in Burkina Faso, and another outpost in Gao, Mali manned by at least 1,000 troops, an intelligence outpost in Niamey with a garrison of more than 300, and a number of smaller bases occupied by 30-50 soldiers each, according to the National Interest.
Advanced guard detachments of US and NATO military and intelligence agents were deployed to Libya to engage in military training and other unnamed activities in March 2014, according to the private intelligence firm Stratfor.
The specific cause of increasing urgent calls for military action in Libya may be the threat of further disruptions of Libya’s oil production resulting from the struggle between rival governments based in Tripoli and Tobruk.
Sovereignty over Libya’s territory and energy resources is currently contested by two loosely integrated semi-states, made up of elements of the old government and various ethno-sectarian armed formations. While the internationally recognized parliament in Tobruk has received recognition from major governments, the nation’s capital of Tripoli is controlled by militias affiliated with Libyan Dawn, including elements of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and other Al Qaeda-linked forces. The Libya Dawn militants established their insurgent government in the capital Tripoli after seizing the city in August 2014.
In the past month, Tripoli-based militias have damaged several large oil facilities during attempts to capture two of Libya’s main oil export facilities at Sidra and Ras Lanuf. The Libya Dawn-aligned militants set fire to at least five oil storage tanks at the Sidra oil terminal, destroying as much as $1 billion worth of oil.
Libyan National Army (LNA)-controlled air forces—which have reportedly been equipped with new war planes from Russia—also launched repeated strikes on oil facilities held by the Tripoli-based opposition forces in recent weeks. LNA jets launched missiles Monday at the Greek oil tanker ARAEVO, supposedly after warning the ship not to dock at the port of Derna, which is controlled by Islamist militant groups that have formally affiliated with the Islamic State, as part of LNA efforts to prevent oil and other commercial goods from transiting through the port cities of Derna and Benghazi.
The civil war in Libya is creating conditions for the eruption of new regional wars. As a result of its support for the Libya Dawn forces, the Turkish government is now effectively at war with the Tobruk government in eastern Libya. On Wednesday, Turkey issued a warning to Turkish citizens and airliners to leave Libya, in response to threats by the Tobruk regime to attack any Turkish ships and planes that approach the areas under its control.
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ON TARGET: Libyan fiasco should be a warningSCOTT TAYLOR ON TARGET
Published November 9, 2014
Last Tuesday, the Defence Department conducted a technical briefing to provide media with details about Canada’s initial air strikes in the allied campaign against ISIS in Iraq.
It mainly centred on the first bombing attack that successfully knocked out five bulldozers and a dump truck near the ISIS-held city of Fallujah. The equipment was reportedly being used to build defensive positions or divert rivers in order to flood innocent victims, and although journalists were keen to devour the few tidbits of information offered up, the majority of the press corps did not buy into the hype.
While no one questioned the department’s claim of successfully targeting the Iraqi bulldozers, Lt.-Gen. Jon Vance did have to admit that, without any boots on the ground, there was no way to independently verify that no civilian was injured in the attack.
Rather than illustrating a concise and clear military campaign, the briefing simply revealed that the Canadians — like the rest of the allied air forces — have no real plan on how to defeat ISIS from the air alone. Even the economics of the air raids in Iraq to date fail to make sense.
The cost for each of the laser-guided smart bombs used in the Canadian air strikes is about $35,000; in contrast, each of the used Iraqi construction vehicles would be lucky to fetch $20,000 on Kijiji.
On the strategic scale, one does not need to dust off an aging history book to research what happens when an allied air force intervenes with the purpose of destroying a negative entity, such as ISIS, rather than fighting in support of a positive entity. You need only reference the 2011 rebellion in Libya.
In those early heady days of what has been dubbed the Arab Spring, Canada was quick to take the lead on a NATO air campaign to destroy President Moammar Gadhafi. Sure, there were armed Libyans fighting against Gadhafi who we deceitfully dubbed “pro-democracy” rebels, but the main thrust of the allied attack was to facilitate Gadhafi’s demise.
Other than British and French Special Forces, there were no official NATO boots on the ground, although there was a huge contingent of foreigners on Libyan soil in the rebel ranks. It was not long after Gadhafi’s brutal execution that the pro-democracy rebels revealed themselves to be primarily Islamic extremists.
Even as Canada staged a lavish November 2011 victory parade and flypast over Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Libya was fast descending into absolute anarchy. The hodgepodge militia units that had battled Gadhafi loyalists immediately began battling each other. No central authority emerged in the wake of the Gadhafi regime, and even NATO’s plan to train and equip a regular Libyan army has been abandoned.
Just last week, Britain cancelled a training initiative after Libyan army recruits went on a rape and pillage spree outside their barracks in the city of Cambridge. Likewise, a group of recently trained Libyan naval officers currently sit in limbo in France, their education costs unpaid and with no navy to return to. Furthermore, Libyan diplomats have long since admitted that their once prosperous oil exporting country has become a failed state.
The collapse of all authority, compiled with an abundance of unregistered military hardware that was left unsecured following the rebellion, resulted in Libya becoming an export hub of extremist violence into neighbouring countries like Mali.
Volunteer foreign jihadists also made their way to Syria to take up the fight against embattled President Bashar al-Assad. Many of those who once fought as NATO allies against Gadhafi have become the nucleus of ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria.
Following that bouncing ball certainly makes the Canadian victory parade in 2011 seem ridiculous, so our leaders would rather have us focus on the immediate situation in Iraq rather than observe the fiasco we created in Libya. The problem is that by refusing to admit failure, we are repeating the same tactic of using air strikes alone.
In this week of remembrance, we owe it to those in uniform to question the government’s strategic objectives in Iraq. Their sacrifice should never be in vain.
Tripoli, Libya — Libya's revolution may still be incomplete, but Western leaders are swooping into Tripoli to celebrate the rebels' victory and offer support for the new Libya, whose success they see model for other Arab revolutions.
With sharpshooters on Tripoli rooftops, a 5-star hotel sealed by tight security, and fighting continuing less than 100 miles away, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron were today the first heads of state to arrive in the capital and embrace Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC).
But drawing on the lessons of the Iraq war, the Western leaders took pains today – as they have before – to emphasize Libyans' ownership of the revolution, with France and Britain playing the role of supporting actor.
“What we are building [not only] applies to Libya, but all Arab people throughout the world who want to liberate themselves from their chains,” said Mr. Sarkozy at a press conference in Tripoli. “France and Europe will be at their side, for peace, for democracy, and for economic progress…. This message applies to the 21st century, it is the sense of history that works towards reconciliation and not toward war.”
The French and British leaders were greeted with effusive praise from NTC leaders for intervening on a “purely humanitarian basis” to stop the former regime's “genocide” against the Libyan people.
“Our hero revolutionaries wouldn’t have made these achievements without the support of the allies, chiefly France and the United Kingdom,” said NTC chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil.
“The Libyan people, a defiant people who are making history liberating their homeland, [give their] gratitude,” said acting premier Mahmoud Jibril. “This will, from now on, be a turning point in the history of the relations of the states … based on mutual freedom, mutual interests, and mutual respect.”
Avoiding the pitfalls of Iraq
Libya’s new leaders have frequently stated their wish to avoid the pitfalls that befell Iraq after the US invasion in 2003 sparked a civil war and insurgency. These leaders were quick to note that Libya’s revolution was homegrown, and not a foreign occupation.
Unlike Iraq – in which looting, burning, and violence shot up after the toppling of Saddam Hussein – Libya appears less vulnerable to chaos and insurgency. Anti-Qaddafi forces have been forming a detailed takeover plan for months. Tripoli is not “broken,” water has been restored, and violence has been relatively light considering the Qaddafi-era arsenals left unguarded, and the number of guns in the streets.
Mr. Cameron said the world had seen an “impressive transformation” in the few weeks since Qaddafi fled the capital, becoming a fugitive as anti-Qaddafi forces took control.
“This was your revolution, not our revolution. It was those brave people in Misurata, in Benghazi, in Brega, in Zlitan, in Tripoli, in the Nafusa mountains, who were incredibly brave in removing the dreadful dictatorship of Qaddafi,” said Mr. Cameron, paying tribute to key towns captured by the rebels, often after weeks of intense stand-offs with Qaddafi loyalists.
“But let us be clear: This is not finished, this is not done, this is not over. There are still parts of Libya that are under Qaddafi’s control. Qaddafi is still at large, and we must make sure that this work is completed.”
Top US diplomat: Libya needs strong partnerships
Sarkozy and Cameron arrived in Tripoli a day after the top US diplomat for the region, Jeffrey Feltman, restated Washington’s “enduring commitment” to Libya. American military assets were crucial in the early stages of the NATO intervention, and have since provided unique capabilities such as managing air campaigns and intelligence.
“We’re going to be guided by what the Libyans themselves think is appropriate for the United States and the international community to do,” Mr. Feltman said on Wednesday.
“It’s not so much that Libya needs a great amount of assistance in terms of financial resources,” Feltman said. “I think Libya needs strong partnerships in the region, and in the international community. It’s going to be the Libya people themselves that are going to define how those partnerships work and what we should concentrate on.”
Turkey’s premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is on a regional tour touting Turkey’s increased regional influence, is expected to arrive in time for Friday prayers in Tripoli. He received a rock-star welcome in Egypt on Tuesday, due to his strong criticism of Israel and support for the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations next week.
Sarkozy and Cameron in Libya: Heroes for a Day
European leaders are rarely celebrated as heroes, but this is precisely how Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron were treated in Tripoli on Thursday. As a reward for their military deployment against Moammar Gadhafi, the president and prime minister received a warm reception. The French appear to have gained the most in Libya.
September 15, 2011
"Stress-free and successful" read a sign near the conference rooms at the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli where Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron met on Thursday with leaders of the Libyan Transitional Council. When both men later left the meeting at the hotel, located directly on the Mediterranean, it appeared it had been both: The perfectly coiffed men, wearing black suits, looked so relaxed they could have been visitors ordering a drink at a resort bar.
All the streets in front of the hotel have been closed. Standing next to the rebels with their Kalashnikovs are security forces who ask in French for proof of access authorization and check each passer-by with small metal detectors. Despite the high security, many viewed the brief visit by Cameron and Sarkozy as a welcome diversion.
'Merci Sarkozy' and 'Thank You Britain'
For a little less than 12 hours, everything wrong in the world appeared to have been briefly forgotten -- the banking crisis, the market crash, sinking popularity in opinion polls. Cameron and Sarkozy clearly revelled in their one-day appearance as world leaders, basking in the glow of their popularity far away from their homes and the thankless routine of daily political life. Graffiti has been sprayed on walls across Tripoli with slogans like "Merci Sarkozy" and "Thank You Britain".
As the two leaders visited a hospital in Tripoli, they were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd. "Libya, Libya," they called out, showing the "V" sign for victory. There were smiles and arms stretched out with fists clenched victoriously -- precisely the kind of images the leaders needed to give television viewers back home the feeling that have supported something just.
Libya is the first war that Cameron began as prime minister. It is also clear from his appearance that he is relieved that everything has gone well. Indeed, he has taken every opportunity to emphasize the differences between the current war and the Iraq invasion, the fiasco brought on by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. This time around it was a revolution brought on internally and backed from abroad, he has insisted. Cameron beamed on Thursday, but he also warned against premature euphoria over the apparent victory. "This is not finished, this is not done, this is not over," he said.
For his part, Sarkozy stood next to Mustafa Abdul-Jalil and Mahmoud Jabril, the leaders of the National Transition Council (CNT). The president basked in the gratitude of his hosts, in how they bowed before the French, in their statement that he and his country's valiant military efforts had entered them in the "annals of freedom." The catchphrase was enough to prompt Sarkozy to grandly pledge that Paris would seek United Nations membership for Libya and the release of its still-frozen funds held abroad. He assured them that: "As long as freedom is under threat, France will remain at your side."
Sarkozy advised that the Libyans adhere to the civilizing values of the republic, urging "reconciliation, not revenge," and "respect for human rights and not payback." Still, he said, there should be no pardon for the dictator's henchmen. After so much powerful pathos Cameron's remarks seemed rather dry. The prime minister's praise for changes in the country (running water and cars on the roads) along with his offers to help clear mines and treat related injuries (by bringing the worst cases in to British hospitals if Libya paid transport), seemed characterized by conventional British pragmatism. The hero's role clearly belongs to Sarkozy.
But the French president may have to defend the selfless dedication of his country against the potential criticism that France acted alone out of strategic calculation to push the military operation through the UN, speculating on Libya's oil riches just as the United States did ahead of their invasion of Iraq.
Cameron and Sarkozy Hoped to Beat Erdogan
Such suspicions have not been dispelled, because Sarkozy and Cameron obviously wanted to beat Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Libya with the quick visit. The new leaders in Tripoli have made the calculated move of announcing that their Western allies will be favored when contracts are awarded. Both the British and the French hope to recoup the costs of their military operations through lucrative deals for their companies back home. The British Ministry of Defense has estimated the cost of the first six months of their service in Libya at some £260 million ($425 million), while France estimated their operations had cost a €1 million ($1.4 million) per day.
Officially, the suggestion that ulterior motives are at play has been rejected. Accusations like those made in the French left-wing daily Libération are false, Sarkozy says. "We don't want any privileges or favoritism, we acted because it was right and just," he said. He also laid out a "message for the 21st century," with which he pleged France's support for "all Arab people who want to free themselves from their chains."
With this, Sarkozy reached the right tone for the press conference in Tripoli. The event had hardly finished when a pleased Mohammed Ben Rasali showed up. He used to work in the city council in Misurata while it was under siege by Gadhafi's troops. He drove journalists through the bombed out ruins, thankful for each day he survived. Now he wears a pinstripe suite and sips a cappucino, having been named the head of the "stabilization team" in Tripoli.
Rasali has received a photo of himself with the French president, and he is proud that Sarkozy made an extra trip to the city for his speech. Sameh Mahmoud, 22, is also excited by the French president's appearance, after which he stands underneath a large artificial palm in lobby of the Corinthia. He wears the red cap of the rebels and a blue cast on his left arm, having been wounded during street fighting in Tripoli.
Cameron was "good," but Sarkozy sent the first fighter jets when the rebel-held Benghazi was attacked by pro-Gadhafi forces on March 19. For that, Libyans will never forget him, he says. "Sarkozy is the best man in the world!" he exclaims.
Harper spends money on big party
Published on March 14, 2012
Stephen Harper spent a fortune to celebrate in grand style the "victory" of Canadian troops in Libya.
Strange that a prime minister who keeps saying he wants cut government spending is throwing dollars around like a guy who just won the lottery.
Nothing is too expensive for the prime minister when it comes to celebrating his military.
Harper keeps saying the war that overthrew Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was a great victory for the Canadian Forces. True it was.
Canadian forces scored a major success in Africa, leaving aside for the moment that Muslim extremists in Libya are going around desecrating graves in Canadian military cemeteries.
Harper wanted a big show to celebrate his pilots flying those good, old reliable F-18 fighter jets, bombing everything in sight. Forget those are the same planes Harper keeps bad mouthing so we end up saying yes to his expensive F-35 Lockheed-Martin fighters.
So Harper had the Privy Council approve spending of $ 396,000 to stage a big party on the lawn of Parliament Hill.
Already that was expensive. But that was just the beginning. The party called for marching bands, more soldiers, more guests. And lots of guns.
Harper likes guns. “Bang, bang!”
Soon costs had burgeoned to $ 474 000. And then someone decided we needed a big fly-past of F-18 fighter aircraft and a big transport aircraft. Suddenly the cost of the party had doubled.
Harper wanted to show the world that Canada had won the war, his military, his war. Harper even ordered a big pile of medals which unfortunately arrived late.
Like a bunch of kids at “Air Force Day” Harper and his friends enjoyed watching the sky and see the swell planes go by real fast. Just like the old days back in the 1950s.
Unfortunately, the flypast costs sent the total bill $ 800 000 and could end up at $ 835 000. Another one of those Harper parties, like the 2 billion dollar G-20 party in Toronto with that great artificial lake for everybody to laught at.
But it is, after all, only money. And taxpayers who pay.
“It’s my party and I’ll spend if I want to!”
Chinese media slams the West’s hypocrisy in CharlieHebdo reaction
January 9, 2015
Chinese newspapers have condemned the attack on the offices of a satirical magazine in Paris while pointing out the hypocrisy and “double-standards” of Western countries’ reaction to terror attacks.
China’s Communist party-run Global Times on Friday said condemnations of terror attacks in Russia and China are not as forthcoming from Western countries as opposed to the quick and unified reactions to the attack on Charlie Hebdo in France.
“The world is always unified in its response to terrorist attacks that happened in the West, but when it’s the West’s turn to react to such attacks in countries like China and Russia, they often beat about the bush,” said the editorial on Friday.
“Even after China officially determines their terrorist nature, Western mainstream media puts quotation marks when describing these bloody assaults as “terrorist,” saying that it is a claim of the Chinese government,” it added.
On Wednesday, three masked gunmen stormed the Paris offices of the satirical magazine that has become notorious for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and killed 12 people.
On social media sites like Twitter, people showed their support online using the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag.
US President Barack Obama said he strongly condemned the “horrific shooting” while speaking in French, US Secretary of State John Kerry pledged US solidarity with France,”Tous les Américains se tiennent à leurs côtés (All Americans stand beside France)”.
In stark contrast, a Chinese envoy to the UN in Geneva last year had to express Beijing’s dissatisfaction over the international community’s sluggish response in treating Xinjiang violence as “terrorism”.
Meanwhile, the editorial in the Chinese state-run Global Times on Friday questioned the western narrative on the attack as revolving around “press freedom”.
“We notice that many Western leaders and mainstream media outlets highlighted their support for press freedom when commenting on the incident. This remains open to question. Press freedom lies as part of the West’s political and social systems and is a core value. But in these globalized times, when their acts contradict with the core values of other societies, the West should have the awareness to ease conflicts, instead of heightening them in accordance with its own values in a zero-sum manner,” said the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist party.
“As the West holds absolute dominance in global opinion, non-Western societies can scarcely get their disagreements heard by the world. The West has to consciously control its use of “soft power” that can verbally abuse those it doesn’t favor,” it added.
Global Times, a newspaper owned by China’s Communist Party, is known for its strident editorials.
The editorial on Friday said while “what Charlie Hebdo has published is not completely defendable”, there can not be any justification for a violent attack.
“Terrorist attacks are absolutely inexcusable, but meanwhile, it would be wise not to intensify the sensitive elements against the complicated backgrounds. Condemning terrorism doesn’t necessarily mean supporting controversial cartoons,” it said.
Editorials of state-owned media in China, like Global Times, generally reflects the Communist Party viewpoint.
Charlie Hebdo, a left-leaning French satirical weekly, had, since 2006, been sued, threatened and firebombed for its sporadic publication of cartoons mocking the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Charlie Hebdo publisher Stephane Charbonnier was among those killed in Wednesday’s attack.
In an interview to Los Angeles Times in 2013, Charbonnier said, “The message is: There’s no taboo subject in France”.
The publisher said he hoped the public will get so used to the drawings that little or no violence will result, or that Islam will be “trivialized” like any other religion.
“So let’s talk about Islam the way we talk about everything else,” he said.
Friday, April 23, 1999
Nato defends TV bombing
Nato has defended its bombing of Serbia's state television station, saying it was a legitimate target and a "ministry of lies".
State TV went off air for several hours overnight after a Nato missile hit its headquarters in Belgrade, reportedly killing at least ten people and wounding 18.
The UK Government said the TV station had been a legitimate target because Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's media machine was part of the military machine.
Officials said it was a "ministry of lies" that over the years had been a recruiting sergeant for the Yugoslav leader's wars, stirring up ethnic tension and creating the climate for atrocities.
Nato has also given a cool response to the latest moves for peace brokered by Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin, who said that President Milosevic was prepared to accept an "international presence" in Kosovo.
The Yugoslav government have disputed Mr Chernomyrdin's version of the talks, saying only an unarmed force would be acceptable.
The UK Government said that Nato's conditions for Kosovo had to be met in full by the Serbs, and that the latest proposal "didn't come close".
The alliance's attack on the TV station was the latest in a series of high profile strikes on targets in the Yugoslav capital. Nato on Thursday destroyed one of the Yugoslav leader's homes there, and the day before launched missiles on a building housing the headquarters of his ruling Socialist party.
A Nato spokesman said the strike on the TV station "must be seen as an intensification of our attacks at the very brains of Milosevic's military apparatus and leadership".
And UK International Development Secretary Clare Short said the station "is a source of propaganda that's prolonging this war and causing untold new suffering to the people of Kosovo".
Yugoslavia saw it differently, however. Minister without Portfolio Goran Matic said the attack on the building of Radio and Television Serbia (RTS) was "a monstrous crime without precedent in history".
(Click here for a map showing latest strikes)
BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson, who visited the scene, said the destruction was considerable.
John Simpson: The body of a make-up artist was lying in a dressing room
Several major television relay stations around the country were also reported hit during overnight Nato strikes, and Belgrade residents said they had been plunged into darkness after a reported strike on the Kanarevo Brdo power station.
Signs emerged on Thursday that Yugoslavia might be prepared to edge towards peace, after Russian envoy Mr Chernomyrdin said President Milosevic had agreed on the need for an "international presence" in Kosovo under the control of the United Nations.
Mr Chernomyrdin, who held day-long talks in Belgrade with the Yugoslav leader, stressed that President Milosevic had agreed to a military presence.
US President Bill Clinton and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, meeting in Washington for Nato's 50th birthday, said the proposal floated by Moscow and Belgrade fell short of Nato's demands, according to a spokesman for Mr Blair.
Macedonia border guards this week repeatedly refused to allow convoys through to the freezing refugees, saying the route crossed some 50 metres of Yugoslav territory and they could not guarantee safety.
Blowback: Paris Terror Suspects Recently Returned from Syria and Demonstrated Military TrainingDan Sanchez, January 07, 2015
Briefly noted in the third paragraph of a USA Today report about the suspects in today’s Paris terror attack: “Both brothers returned from Syria this summer.”
What would French radical Islamists be doing in Syria around that time? Quite possibly getting training from the US and its allies to fight Assad. And as Ben Swann reports: “Analysts have said that this attack was carried out by men who had formal military training and was carried out by men who acted like a ‘special forces unit’.”
However, such training is by no means certain, for as Mitchell Prothero reports:
“Other evidence suggests they could be linked to a top French al Qaida operative, David Drugeon, who’s been the target at least twice of U.S. airstrikes in Syria over the last four months.”
Yet, even if they didn’t manage to get past U.S. “vetting,” and instead received training from al Qaida alone, the fact that the war they earned their spurs in was persisting at all was due to U.S. aid to the rebels.
This is the kind of blowback that is so quick to follow intervention that Scott Horton incisively terms it “backdraft.”
And once again, just as with Sony and North Korea, the implications concerning empire are getting lost in the hullabaloo over rogue groups allegedly seriously threatening freedom of speech.
UN official deplores NATO attack on Libyan television station
8 August 2011 – The head of the United Nations agency entrusted with safeguarding press freedom today deplored a recent North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) attack on Libyan State broadcasting facilities last month which killed three media workers and injured 21 people.
“Media outlets should not be targeted in military actions,” UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement, citing a Security Council resolution from 2006 that condemns acts of violence against journalists and media personnel in conflict situations.
“The NATO strike is also contrary to the principles of the Geneva Conventions that establish the civilian status of journalists in times of war even when they engage in propaganda,” she added. “Silencing the media is never a solution. Fostering independent and pluralistic media is the only way to enable people to form their own opinion.”
NATO issued a statement saying that the strike was conducted in accordance with Security Council resolution 1973 adopted in March, which authorizes the use of “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya, where the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi has conducted a military offensive against citizens seeking both greater freedoms and his removal from power.
Al Jazeera's office
Two American air-to-surface missiles hit the Qatar satellite TV station at Al Jazeera's office in Baghdad and killed Tareq Ayyoub, a Palestinian reporter, and wounded Zouhair al-Iraqi, an Iraqi cameraman. They were live broadcasting on the roof of the building. Al Jazeera accused the U.S. of intentionally targeting Al Jazeera as the U.S. bombed its Kabul bureau in 2001 during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
A U.S. Army tank fired into the 15th floor of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, where almost all foreign journalists were based. The image of the hotel had been frequently broadcast in the news, since many journalists filmed their reports nearby. The tank fire killed the Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk and wounded three. José Couso of Telecinco Spanish television who was on the 14th floor also died.
At the time, Company A of the 4th Battalion, 64th Armored Regiment was holding the west end of the al-Jumhuria Bridge. The U.S. Forces were under attack from Iraqi units on both sides of the Tigris River, including mortar fire. Earlier that morning, the battalion had captured an Iraqi two-way radio, over which they heard an Iraqi forward observer directing mortar fire against Company A. This information was relayed to the forces at the bridge, who began looking for the enemy spotter. An A-Company tank spotted an individual on a balcony on the upper floor of a high-rise building to the southeast who appeared to be observing the company with "some kind of optics" (probably Protsyuk). Assuming this was the enemy spotter, the tank commander asked for and received permission to fire. The tank fired a HEAT round at the balcony, killing Protsyuk and Couso. Prior to the incident, no one in the 4-64 had been briefed about the Palestine Hotel or its location, since the hotel was not in their sector (the east bank of the Tigris was allocated to the 1st Marine Division). U.S. forces later determined that the Iraqi artillery spotter was probably in a nearby building, not the hotel.
AFP reported there was no fire aimed at the tank, based on picture taken by a French TV station. Journalists on the scene also testified there was no fire from or around the hotel. General Buford Blount, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said it was a response to Iraqi fire from the hotel. The French TV showed the tank's gun aimed at the hotel for at least two minutes before it fired. The M1 Abrams' optics are slaved to the main gun barrel, so it would have been pointed at the hotel while the crew located and observed the presumed forward observer. On that day, the Spanish government decided to demand an explanation from the U.S.
In 2008, Sgt. Adrienne Kinne, a former Arabic linguist in U.S. Army Intelligence, reported that she had seen secret documents listing the Palestine Hotel as a possible military target prior to the 2003 shelling incident.
Israel’s explanation for killing two journalists in Gaza? Palestinians aren’t journalists, they’re ‘targets’
After a second Israeli attack on a media building in two days, this time killing two journalists, the spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister, Mark Regev explains to al-Jazeera English that because the journalists were Palestinian the Israel military considered them legitimate “targets.” Regev’s remarks were made just a few hours after the November 19, 2012 bombing of al-Shuruq Tower and another building used to house the offices of several media outlets, including both Palestinian and international networks.
Speaking to al-Jazeera, Regev said, “We took out the target that we wanted to take out.” When pressed by al-Jazeera over the injuries of eight journalists the previous day, where one lost his leg, Regev continued,
Oh you’re talking about… oh first of all maybe we have a discussion about who is a journalist and if you’ll allow me I will elaborate on this. There is the al-Aqsa station, which is a station that is a Hamas command and control facility, just as in other totalitarian regimes; the media is used by the regime for command and control and also for security purposes. From our point of view that’s not a legitimate journalist.
Al-Jazeera’s correspondent then followed-up by asking, “So what are you saying? That a local Arab journalist life is any less than an internationalist journalist?” Apparently for Regev, yes, in Gaza there are no legitimate Palestinian journalists, only targets.
NATO bombing of the Radio Television of Serbia headquartersFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The NATO bombing of the Radio Television of Serbia headquarters occurred on 23 April 1999, during the Kosovo War. It formed part of NATO's aerial campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and severely damaged the Belgrade headquarters of Radio Television of Serbia (RTS). Other radio and electrical installations throughout the country were also attacked. Sixteen employees of RTS died when a single NATO missile hit the building. Many were trapped for days, only communicating over mobile phones. The television station went to air 24 hours later from a secret location. NATO Headquarters justified the bombing with two arguments; firstly, that it was necessary "to disrupt and degrade the command, control and communications network" of the Yugoslav Armed Forces, and secondly, that the RTS headquarters was a dual-use object which "was making an important contribution to the propaganda war which orchestrated the campaign against the population of Kosovo". The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported that the station was targeted because of its role in Belgrade's propaganda campaign; RTS had been broadcasting Serb nationalist propaganda, which demonised ethnic minorities and legitimised Serb atrocities against them.
A new building has since been built next to the bomb-damaged one, and a monument has been erected to those who were killed in the attack.
With the bombing of the Radio Television of Serbia headquarters, NATO recognized that media is a weapon during war.
While giving a speech at the Overseas Press Club sixtieth anniversary dinner, held on Thursday evening 22 April 1999 EST at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, U.S. envoy to Yugoslavia Richard Holbrooke reacted to the NATO's bombing of the RTS headquarters almost immediately after it took place: "Eason Jordan told me just before I came up here that while we've been dining tonight, the air strikes hit Serb TV and took out the Serb television, and at least for the time being they’re off the air. That is an enormously important event, if it is in fact as Eason reported it, and I believe everything CNN tells me. If, in fact, they're off the air even temporarily, as all of you know, one of the three key pillars, along with the security forces and the secret police, have been at least temporarily removed. And it is an enormously important and, I think, positive development."
A report conducted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) entitled "Final Report to the Prosecutor by the Committee Established to Review the NATO Bombing Campaign Against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" said:
Insofar as the attack actually was aimed at disrupting the communications network, it was legally acceptable ... NATO’s targeting of the RTS building for propaganda purposes was an incidental (albeit complementary) aim of its primary goal of disabling the Serbian military command and control system and to destroy the nerve system and apparatus that keeps Milošević in power
In regards to civilian casualties, it further stated that though they were, "unfortunately high, they do not appear to be clearly disproportionate."
In the case Markovic v. Italy, the European Court of Human Rights found that the government of Italy had not violated human rights. However, in 2002, Dragoljub Milanović, the general manager of RTS, was sentenced to 10 years in prison because he had not ordered the workers in the building to evacuate, despite knowing that the building would be bombed.
- Aleksandar Deletić (30), cameraman
- Branislav Jovanović (50), master technician
- Darko Stoimenovski (25), visiting technician
- Dejan Marković (39), security worker
- Dragan Tasić (29), electrician
- Dragorad Dragojević (27), security worker
- Ivan Stukalo (33), technician
- Jelica Munitlak (27), make-up artist
- Ksenija Banković (27), vision mixer
- Milan Joksimović (47), security worker
- Milovan Janković (59), precision machinist
- Nebojša Stojanović (26), master technician
- Siniša Medić (32), production designer
- Slaviša Stevanović (32), technician
- Slobodan Jontić (54), director.
- Tomislav Mitrović (61), program director
List of killed RTS workers
- "No justice for the victims of NATO bombings". Amnesty International. 23 April 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- McCormack 2006, p. 381.
- Was the Serbian TV station really a legitimate target?, by Claudio Cordone and Avner Gidron
- "Nato challenged over Belgrade bombing". BBC News. 2001-10-24. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "Court throws out case against NATO". BBC. 19 December 2001. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- de la Brosse, Renaud (2003). "Political Propaganda and the Plan to Create a "State for all Serbs": Consequences of Using the Media for Ultra-Nationalist Ends". Reims.[dead link]
- Judah. The Serbs. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-15826-7.
- Neda Atanasoski (2007). Niall Scott, ed. Monsters and the Monstrous: Myths and Metaphors of Enduring Evil. Rodopi. p. 73. ISBN 978-90-420-2253-9. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
By destroying RTS, the alliance affirmed that it recognized the media as a weapon during times of war - though, paradoxically, they only acknowledged it to be a weapon in the enemy's hands.
- RTS Apology
- Tanjug (24 May 2011). "State broadcaster "sorry" for 1990s". B92. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
- Amy Goodman (23 April 1999). "Pacifica Rejects Overseas Press Club Award". Pacifica Radio (New York: Democracy Now!).
- "Final Report to the Prosecutor by the Committee Established to Review the NATO Bombing Campaign Against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia". UNICTY.
- The New York Times, 22 June 2002, World Briefing | Europe: Yugoslavia: Ex-TV Boss Jailed Over NATO Bombing
Journalists targeted by US forces<!-- time --> Published time: May 04, 2011 21:45
Edited time: May 05, 2011 01:58
You could say it was the latest batch of shots heard round the world, brought to the world by WikiLeaks. Millions watched in horror as the Apache Pilots with the US Army treated killing as a game.<!--RTEditor:genereated--><!--RTEditor textarea-->
Among those killed in the July 2007 clash seen in the video were two Reuters’ employees: Photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and his assistant and driver, Saeed Chmagh.
"Even someone who is crawling, prostate on the ground wounded, they are looking for an excuse to kill," said WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange.
But this is far from an isolated incident. Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started, more than 300 journalists have been killed, many by the actions of US forces.
This includes British journalist Terry Lloyd, a veteran correspondent with Britain’s Independent Television News.
He was wounded in the crossfire of a battle in Basra, Iraq, and then put in a makeshift ambulance by Iraqis … an investigation revealed US forces then shot at the vehicle, hitting Lloyd in the head and killing him.
The following month, on April 8, 2003, US forces targeted media outlets in Iraq, including Abu Dhabi television, and Al Jazeera’s office in Bagdad, where correspondent Tareq Ayyoub was killed in the middle of a live report.
Additionally, the Palestine Hotel, where nearly all journalists from around the world worked, was hit when a US Army tank intentionally fired into the building – killing Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk and José Couso of Telecinco Spanish Television.
In all of these incidents, US forces behind the attacks were let off the hook, the “Rules of Engagement” often cited as the reason.
Couso’s family has continued to press for justice, their hope renewed with the release of this document on WikiLeaks – a transcript written by a former US ambassador saying, “While we are careful to show our respect for the tragic death of Couso and for the independence of the Spanish judicial system, behind the scenes we have fought tooth and nail to make the charges disappear.”
In addition to the journalists being killed, countless more are arrested by US forces.
Bagram Airbase, a detention facility, called by some the Guantanamo Bay of Afghanistan became home to Jawed Ahmad, a correspondent for Canada’s CTV, for 11 months. He was later released without charge.For Al Jazeera correspondent Sami Al-Haj, it was six years at Guantanamo Bay. His crime – crossing the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan. He too was released without charge.
“It’s clear that the U.S. military targets these people because they aren’t towing the line,” said journalist Dave Lindorff.“They’re not embedded; they’re not playing the game.”
Lindorff said it’s been a common pattern for US authorities, especially when international journalists report on subjects like election corruption, or talk to the Taliban as well as US forces in order to get both sides of certain stories.
“They’re so used to these people being just stenographers of whatever they say that when a reporter goes out and does what American reporters used to do,” Lindorff commented.
US-led strikes may have killed civilians: Pentagon
Washington (AFP) - The US military is reviewing several incidents in which civilians may have been killed in coalition air strikes against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq and Syria, officials said.
The comments marked the first time the US military has acknowledged that the air war may have exacted a toll on civilians.
US Central Command, which is overseeing the air campaign, initially looked into 18 cases and concluded 13 were not credible but five merited further review. Of those, two incidents -- one in Iraq and one in Syria -- prompted formal investigations, defense officials told AFP.
The current probes involved one case that occurred as recently as December 26, officials said.
"What I know is that Central Command is investigating several (of) what they believe to be credible allegations of civilian casualties," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.
"This is something we always take seriously. We are very mindful of trying to mitigate the risk to civilians every time we operate, everywhere we operate."
His comments marked a shift as the Pentagon had insisted for months they had not confirmed any instance of civilian deaths from the bombing raids.
Human rights organizations, however, have previously reported that dozens of civilians have been killed in the US-led air strikes, mainly in Syria.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in October that 32 civilians were killed after the first month of coalition strikes in Syria, as well as 467 fighters from the Islamic State group.
"It would be highly unlikely that there would be no civilian casualties at this stage in the air campaign," said one US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
But the American military was not on the ground in Syria and had a relatively small presence in Iraq, so it was difficult to say definitively how many civilians may have been killed in the air war so far, the official added.
- Credible evidence -
Allegations of possible civilian casualties had come from a range of sources including the military's own reviews and internal reporting, the State Department, and accounts by news media and non-governmental organizations, said Major Curtis Kellogg, a spokesman for US Central Command.
"A source is generally deemed to be credible if the source provides verifiable information, such as corroborating statements, photographs or documentation that can help us determine whether an allegation is founded," Kellogg said.
But the two formal investigations currently under way "are the direct result of our own internal review process and not the result of allegations received from outside of DoD (the Department of Defense)," he said in a statement.
Investigations can cover areas including "technical, mechanical or human errors involved in the strikes," he said.
"The current environment on the ground in Iraq and Syria makes investigating these allegations extremely challenging. Traditional investigatory methods, such as interviewing witnesses and examining the site, are not typically available," he said.
As of mid-December, commanders said more than 1,300 air strikes had been carried out in Syria and Iraq. The vast majority of the raids have been conducted by US fighter jets, bombers and drones.
Air strikes against the IS group in Iraq began on August 8 and were extended into Syria on September 23.
Europe may become irrelevant due to short-sighted policies – Gorbachev<!-- time --> Published time: November 08, 2014
Western policies toward Russia championed by Washington have led to the current crisis, and if the confrontation continues, Europe will be weakened and become irrelevant, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warns.
Speaking to a forum in Berlin amid the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, he called on western leaders to de-escalate tensions and meet Russia halfway to mend the current rift.
After the Cold War ended, the leaders of the western world were intoxicated with euphoria of triumph, and they adopted anti-Russian policies that eventually led to the current crisis, Gorbachev said.
“Taking advantage of Russia’s weakening and a lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination in the world. And they refused to heed the word of caution from many of those present here,” he said. “The events of the past months are consequences of short-sighted policies of seeking to impose one’s will and fait accompli while ignoring the interests of one’s partners.”
Gorbachev gave a list of examples of those policies, including the expansion of NATO and the development of an anti-ballistic missile system, military interventions in Yugoslavia and Iraq, the west-backed secession of Kosovo, the crisis in Syria and others. The Ukrainian crisis is a “blister turning into a bleeding, festering wound,” he said.
Europe is the one suffering most from the situation, Gorbachev said.
“Instead of becoming a leader of change in a global world Europe has turned into an arena of political upheaval, of competition for the spheres of influence, and finally of military conflict. The consequence inevitably is Europe’s weakening at a time when other centers of power and influence are gaining momentum. If this continues, Europe will lose a strong voice in world affairs and gradually become irrelevant,” he said.
What needs to be done is for the west to tone down its anti-Russian rhetoric and seek points of convergence, Gorbachev said. He added that his own experience in the 1980s showed that much worse and seemingly hopeless conflicts can be resolved, granted there is the political will and a right setting of priorities. He assured the forum that the Russian leadership was willing to do its part, as evidenced by President Vladimir Putin’s keynote speech at the Valdai Forum.
“Despite the harshness of his criticism of the West and the United States in particular, I see in his speech a desire to find a way to lower tensions, and ultimately to build a new basis for partnership,” Gorbachev said.
Ukraine may have set the scene for the current confrontation, but it can also become a focus for reconciliation between Russia and the West, according to Gorbachev. He called for the parties to join forces and help Ukraine overcome the consequences of the civil war it is currently going through.
Over the longer term, the system of European security must be reformed, because the enlargement of NATO and the current EU common defense policy have failed to produce positive results, Gorbachev said. This would likely require an overhaul of the OSCE, which in its current format is not up to the task, he said, while proposals to that effect have been voiced by policymakers both in the EU and in Russia, but they had been “filed away in the archives.”
“Had such a mechanism been created, the worst scenarios of the Ukrainian events could have been averted.”
Kissinger warns of West’s ‘fatal mistake’ that may lead to new Cold War<!-- time --> Published time: November 10, 2014
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has given a chilling assessment of a new geopolitical situation taking shape amid the Ukrainian crisis, warning of a possible new Cold War and calling the West’s approach to the crisis a “fatal mistake.”
The 91-year-old diplomat characterized the tense relations as exhibiting the danger of “another Cold War.”
“This danger does exist and we can't ignore it,” Kissinger said. He warned that ignoring this danger any further may result in a “tragedy,” he told Germany’s Der Spiegel.
If the West wants to be “honest,” it should recognize, that it made a “mistake,” he said of the course of action the US and the EU adopted in the Ukrainian conflict. Europe and the US did not understand the “significance of events” that started with the Ukraine-EU economic negotiations that initially brought about the demonstrations in Kiev last year. Those tensions should have served as a starting point to include Russia in the discussion, he believes.
“At the same time, I do not want to say that the Russian response was proportionate,” the Cold War veteran added, saying that Ukraine has always had a “special significance” for Russia and failure to understand that “was a fatal mistake.”
Calling the sanctions against Moscow “counterproductive,” the diplomat said that they set a dangerous precedent. Such actions, he believes, may result in other big states trying to take “protective measures” and strictly regulate their own markets in future.
When introducing some sanctions or publishing lists of people whose accounts were frozen one should wonder “what will happen next?” the former Secretary of State said rhetorically, because when something begins you cannot lose sight of where it is going to end.
Kissinger also said he would expect more action from Berlin on matter. As the most “important” country in Europe it should be more “proactive” rather than reactive, he said.
The new European 'arc of instability'
Published time: December 10, 2014
The European Council on Foreign Relations and Berlin think-tank Friedrich Ebert Stiftung have just reached more or less the same conclusion.
If the dangerous stand-off between the EU and Russia over Ukraine is not solved, the EU could face, up to 2030, a military build-up in eastern Europe; a new arms race with NATO as a protagonist; and a semi-permanent “zone of instability” from the Baltic to the Balkans and the Black Sea.
What these two think-tanks don’t – and won’t – ever acknowledge is that a new European “arc of instability” – from the Baltic to the Black Sea, as myself and other independent analysts have stressed – is exactly what the Empire of Chaos and its weaponized arm – NATO – are working on to prevent closer Eurasia integration.
By the way, the Pentagon excels in fabricating “arcs of instability.” The previous one was – and remains – massive, stretching from the Maghreb to Xinjiang in western China across the Middle East and Central Asia.
Moscow has totally identified the plot; Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, once again, has made it crystal clear, in detail.
And crucially, some influential sectors in Germany also did, as in members of the cultural elite destroying the notion of a new war in Europe: “Not in our name.”
The same applies to those that always preach more transatlantic cooperation, extol the US’s “defining” role in Germany, and effusively praise Germany as the most American country in Europe; that’s the case of the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper – which stands for the core of the political and economic establishment in Germany.
It’s still in an embryonic stage, and has not yet made Chancellor Angela Merkel see the light; but a reverse reengineering of Atlanticist relations is already in progress in Germany.
The SWIFT war
Meanwhile, the proverbial group of extremist US senators, plus the notorious poodles/vassals of Britain and Poland, haven’t stopped lobbying to shut Russia off from SWIFT – just as they did with Iran.
This would be nothing but yet another declaration of (economic) war – or the economic counterpoint to NATO hysteria. In fairness, a great deal of the EU – especially Germany – knows this is madness.
Germany’s top financial paper Handelsblatt recently published a key interview with head of VTB-Bank Andrei Kostin, which has still not been translated into any major English-language paper.
Kostin went straight to the point: “Of course, there is a plan B [in the case of Russia being shut off from the SWIFT bank system], but in my personal opinion it would mean war – if this type of sanction will be introduced. America and Europe did that against Iran but with Iran at that time there were no diplomatic relations, only military containment...if Russian banks’ access to SWIFT will be prohibited, the US ambassador to Moscow should leave the same day. Diplomatic relations must be finished. Banking is the most vulnerable part of the Russian economy because the system is based so strongly on the dollar and the euro.”
Next May, Russia’s Central Bank is planning to introduce an analogue to SWIFT – after key consultations with China. It’s always important to keep in mind that China set up a parallel SWIFT to do business with Iran under sanctions. But still there will be a window of four months for a lot of nasty things to happen after a Republican-controlled US Senate is empowered in January.
All that glitters…
And then there’s the golden rule. Why is Russia buying so much gold? With the US dollar forced upward and gold downward, it makes total business sense to sell gas for inflated dollars and then buy cheap depressed gold; that’s what the Chinese call a “win-win.” And of course on both counts, the West loses.
The Washington/Wall Street elites are fully aware that both Moscow and Beijing won’t accumulate US dollars anymore. As for the Masters of the Universe plutocrats who manipulate/control the value of the US dollar, a case can be made that one of their purposes is wrecking the US’s industrial base and the nation’s middle classes.
Moscow, meanwhile, has adjusted to the new “instability.” The weak ruble has a positive effect – already stressed by President Putin – by forcing Russia to diversify its manufacturing and become more self-sufficient.
Of course, the problem remains for Russia to pay the foreign interest on its debt in US dollars. Moscow could always declare a moratorium in debt repayments. The ruble might go down even more. But as everyone from Lukoil to Rosneft converts more US dollars into rubles, that will drive the ruble back up. Not to mention that the ruble is shorted as it stands. The bottom line is that Moscow has learned yet another lesson for the immediate future: never become indebted to the West.
What’s certain is that the Empire of Chaos won’t relent in its strategy of heating up the new arc of instability – inside Europe, across the economic/financial spectrum – and instrumentalizing its pre-fabricated New Iron Curtain from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
The Kremlin seems to know exactly how high the stakes are. As The Saker told me in an email, “Putin is telling both the West and the Russian people that there is a long war in progress and that the Russian people have to morally be prepared to accept sacrifices for the survival of Russia. This is one more step in the 'coming-out' of what I call the ‘Eurasian Sovereignists’ in which the US [has] now openly declared as a Russophobic (Russia-hating and Russia-fearing) enemy, and the Europeans as a powerless colony. Military power is not directly a factor in this, the internal power balance between the pro-Western ‘Atlantic Integrationists’ and the ‘Eurasian Sovereignists’ is.”
It’s all here – from the debacle of a regime (Bretton Woods) to the current, provoked crisis, all brilliantly explained by Mikhail Khazin. Russia is getting ready to rock. Is the West?
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.