New US policy for West Asia: Israel-Pentagon duo targets Iran!

New US policy for West Asia: Israel-Pentagon duo targets Iran!
Dr. Abdul Ruff
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World’s attention has been focused on US policy toward Palestine vs. Israel ever since Donald Trump assumed the White House and his Jewish son o in law offering him elaborate cancelling service, almost free of cost, obviously, history has shown us, in favor of fascism and racism in Israel and against the Palestinians besieged between terror blockades erected by mighty nuclearized Israel and Egypt which is now ruled by military regime.
Already Trump’s son in law had his sway as Israeli PM Netanyahu with palms stained by blood of Palestinians, including children, was given a patient hearing by Trump in Washington. Hawkish Netanyahu seems have impressed Trump with his usual arguments to beware of not only both Arab world and Iran but also Turkey as all are harmful to their respective religious interests. Whether or not new President also fell into the fascist Jewish trap is not yet clear.
Like Obama, Trump has also said he has no intention of war on Iran. But Israel and Pentagon are still hoping to woo and force Trump to declare war on Iran.

Evolving policy

True, America is infested by powerful Jewish lobbyists and terror merchants who try to control US policies. For years now, US president have behaved like paid Jewish lords, by playing the balls according to Israeli rules.
Every president of USA openly declared US shield for Israel and promoted strong Israel-US ties. US presidents, who promote capitalist imperialism globally by misusing WB and IMF, etc, are essentially colonists by nature, pro-Zionists and anti-Islamists, and they one after another also fought for decades after the imposition of Israel in Mideast on Palestinian lands just, for the so-called “promised lands” because they claim god had pledged the “ holy lands” to them. Thus, now bold Jews in Israel have made Israel a fascist and criminal state that has nothing to do with holiness.
On the strength of their veto status, American imperialists and British colonialists have forcefully stolen the Palestinian lands in 1948 and given them to Jews who were busy terrorizing the Europeans. USA and Europe did everything possible to establish Israel as a fascist Jewish state in West Asia to threaten Arabs and Iranians. Israel-US ties, pampered by US presidents one after another for decades after the imposition of Israel in Mideast on Palestinian lands just because they claim the “promised lands”, have come to a stage where Israel could bypass
USA and UK also helped Israel acquire nukes illegally against the will of UN and IAEA. None in fact questioned the illegality of USA and Europe in that respect. Both USA and Europe sued Israel as a depot for their terror goods for sale to third world. They have come to a stage where Israel could bypass White House and have military deals with Pentagon directly and get the required terror goods and technology almost free of cost on a regular basis. That is the blanket permission the Pentagon has secured b form the White House officals to control US policies. Today no president can ignore Israeli demands routed through the Pentagon and pampered by the strong Jewish economic community, secured by Washington.

White House and have military deals with Pentagon directly and get the required terror goods and technology almost free of cost on a regular basis. That is the blanket permission the Pentagon has secured b form the White House officals to control US policies. Today no president can ignore Israeli demands routed through the Pentagon and pampered by the strong Jewish economic community, secured by Washington.

US godfather for Zionist fascists
Globally, Israeli interests are promoted and secured in media not just by Jewish community columnists, but by others, especially in USA, UK, and all English speaking countries. Many Hindu readers who hate Islam and think ill of Muslim brethren, for instance, consider the fascist-racist Jewish views as god’s own words mainly because that takes care of their anti-Muslim premises. .
With the ascendance of hawkish President Trump through due democratic process, along with his Jewish son in law and with erratic rhetoric targeting Muslims, among others, the Israeli regime, essentially pursuing criminal goals in Palestine and West Asia, is upbeat about its strong position in undermining human rights particularly in Palestine.
When former President Obama declaimed the Israeli demand to attack Iran so that entire Muslims world in the region is wrecked and only Israel remained strong and the only super power of the region after the USA to attack the besieged Palestinians, Israel was looking for opportunities under the next president’s (Trump) era. .
Israel lectures Trump that Iran is 100% an imperialist power as “Khamenei and the Ayatollah’s he represents” is nothing but a reincarnation of a modern day Cyrus or Xerxes from the old imperial Persia and that the USA is dealing with a resurgent Persia- a new regional power and so he should not hesitate to attack Iran without further delay for the sake of US security. Israel has a plan to attack Iran’s vital systems in order to cripple that nation as well and complete the ruin of West Asia where Israel would be an unchallenged modern monarch to dictate terms to the rest of the world. .
Israel refuses to go demilitarized and denuclearized as it wants to be the only nuclear power in West Asia to bully Arabs, Iran and new powers that cold challenge Israeli supremacy. Therefore, Israel tells, rather terrorizes, Trump that Iran would destroy USA, Arab world, all Saudi/ Kuwaiti/ Qatari/ UAE oil installations with its 100’s of thousands of ballistic missiles. Oil prices would go to $500/ barrel overnight, destroying the global economy. Then Israel leads USA into a deadly trap with Europe to end civilizational war in its favor and occupy entire world as their “promised” lands. .
The main reason the Israelis have not attacked Iran before this is because they would be unable to tolerate Iran’s closure of the Gulf of Hormuz that would make division in Israel and West links.
Backed by USA and Europe, are Israelis and US Jews not very super cleaver people? But why do they think US presidents are fools?

Pentagon-Israeli joint strategy

Even Palestinian child also knows that Israel, like USA is also is, eager to launch a bloody war to use its terror goods lying idle and countries like India does not buy all types of terror goods being manufactured in Israel, and to test the efficacy of the newly developed terror technologies.
Israel wants a US-Israeli joint war on Arab world and Iran in a sustained manner. Now Tel Aviv plays one against the others.
The top American commander in the Middle East, General Joseph Votel, branded Iran as the “greatest long-term threat to stability” in the region and called for steps, including military action, to disrupt and undermine Iranian influence and activities. Such use of military force would constitute an act of war, destroy the international nuclear deal struck with Iran in 2015 and set the Middle East on the path for another disastrous conflict. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Votel, head of the US Central Command, denounced Iran for its “destabilising role” in the region.
The hypocrisy involved here is staggering. US Central Command has been the military instrument for the illegal US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan that devastated all of them, led to millions of casualties and profoundly destabilized the entire Middle East. With or without permission of Trump, It is currently escalating a renewed war in Iraq and is enmeshed in the bloody US regime-change operation that has destroyed much of Syria, as well as military attacks inside Yemen.
Significantly, Votel challenged the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group—the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany—that eased sanctions on Iran in return for severe restrictions on its nuclear programs. The general declared that the US had “not seen any improvement in Iran’s behavior” and claimed it still posed “credible threats” through its “nuclear weapons potential” and “robust” ballistic missile program.
Votel’s provocative remarks and calls for military action feed into the growing clamor in Washington for tough measures against Iran. In the same vein last month, then National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn responded to an Iranian missile test by denouncing Iran’s “destabilising behavior across the Middle East” and warned, “As of today we are officially putting Iran on notice.”

US hegemony

The aim of the criminal activities of US imperialism in the Middle East over the past quarter century has been precisely to ensure its own hegemonic role and helps Israel to assume role of West Asian hegemon. USA cannot tolerate if any challenge is thrown to side step Israeli supremacy in the region.
Among the main charges against Iran is its collaboration with Russia in propping up Syrian President Assad and more broadly in the Middle East. General Votel specifically referred to Iran’s growing relationship with Russia as posing concern. Russia and Iran worked together closely and with the Syrian armed forces to inflict a humiliating defeat on US proxy forces in the city of Aleppo. In an unprecedented move last year, Tehran gave Russian war planes access to one of its air bases to carry out operations inside Syria. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that Russia would be able to use the country’s military bases on a “case by case basis” in carrying out the air war inside Syria. Among the other deals concluded was an agreement for Russia to build two new nuclear power plants in the city of Bushehr, the site of its first power reactor.
The growing ties between Moscow and Tehran are undoubtedly provoking deep resentment and hostility in Washington where it will further fuel the bitter infighting in the American ruling elite over foreign policy. US claims that Iran is destabilising the Middle East are matched by the denunciations of Putin and Russia for destabilising Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the world.

Washington has long regarded Iran as the chief regional obstacle to its dominance in the Middle East and Israel keeps fueling that anti-Iran and anti-Islam hatred in Washington. The reckless and provocative call by General Votel et al or the USA to use “military means” to “disrupt” Iran threatens to provoke a conflict that would not be confined to the Middle East but would draw in other nuclear-armed powers like Russia and engulf the world.
The USA and its allies have provided billions of dollars in arms to its surrogates in Syria, and elsewhere, to foment a civil war to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Knowing fully well that Israel remains the boss of the region, Votel still accuses Iran of wanting to be “the hegemon” in the region and being involved in “lethal aid facilitation.”

Israel and Pentagon seek tougher sanctions n Iran, diplomatic provocations, covert operations and military strikes. In the US Congress, hawkish senator Bob Corker hailed the bipartisan support last week for tough new sanctions against Iran in introducing the Countering Iran’s Destabilising Activities Bill that would effectively sink the 2015 nuclear deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The subversive mind is vividly visible as the legislation would brand Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corp as a terrorist organisation and allow the re-imposition of sanctions on Iranian entities lifted under the JCPOA—a move that Tehran would undoubtedly regard as an open breach.

There is madness among the imperialist leaders, including the military leaders, of the USA. When military generals whose forces have presided over the illegal invasion and destruction of whole middle eastern societies, and produced the deaths and refugee status of millions, talk about Iran ‘destabilizing’ the middle east, under the presumption that they represent a ‘stabilizing’ force, we are dealing with sociopaths or worse.. I don’t say any of this lightly. That such people control 20,000 nuclear weapons in the U.S. represents an existential threat to every worker, and every human being, on the planet. They, and their backers in the political establishment, the corporate media, and finance capital, have created too many flash points – the Middle East is just one, others include the Balkans and the placement of massed Nato troops at Russia borders, the coup-installed Ukrainian government with U.S. military backing, the South China sea with the ‘air-sea battle plan’ of the U.s. military preparing for war with China, et al.

Israel works on Trump’s earlier approach, hoping somehow to push him also into war. President Trump in the course of last year’s election campaign denounced the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran as “catastrophic for America, for Israel, and for the whole Middle East” and pledged to “dismantle the disastrous deal.” In a meeting last week with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Trump again openly questioned the deal and declared that “nobody has been able to figure out” why President Obama signed it.

With Putin and Xi’s firm backing Iran and its proxies have savaged US proxies in Syria and completely destabilized Yemen. Next on the Iranian menu may be Bahrain and Saudi Qatif province (both Shia Muslim majority) where almost all the ME oil lies. Added to this Rouhani and Putin recently discussed getting involved in the Afghan end game and throwing out the USA from the region for good.

Russia and China have been keenly observing Iran over the years and know they are betting on a winning horse.
Israel says Trump will also blink, just like Obama did, realizing the gravity of losing the Middle East to Iran and he would will make a futile sales pitch soon to the Iranians. All these pentagon back door, on again/ off again few hundred or thousand ‘advisors’ deployments are a desperate bid to stay the course in a strategic debacle which is a slow realization of the beginning of the end of the American empire. The Pentagon knows the fight is over and it has been defeated. $5 trillion spent on ME wars and counting hasn’t swayed a defiant Iran. Sounds like Trump (in keeping up with his campaign rhetoric) might be the one to finally announce the defeat, cut the losses and pull out for good.
For American imperialism today Iran represents a real menace to their regional geopolitical interests most notably in Syria and elsewhere. However, in more recent years Saudi Arabia and Israel have played far more pernicious role in the region, and yet the American policymakers have always given their tacit approval on all their violations.

A very significant oil discovery has been made in the Southern part of the Golan Heights – which by rights should have been returned to Syria quite some time ago — Israel, is desperately trying to get the US to recognize Israeli sovereignty.

Observation
Israel thinks as the Jewish state occupying the Palestine lands and killing the Palestinians, promoting capitalist imperialism of USA and its western allies, it is the cleverest nation on earth. Most Americans pretend to buy that Jewish argument without any counter argument. When Trump with his lovely son in law form Israel, would also fall into that trap of Zionists, remains to be seen.
US Mideast policy is also in the interests of the US oil corporations (well, if it succeeded it would), and Israel is a piece of that strategy, a very important one (at least in the past) and so it was given some free-reins but Israel is not the dominant partner in that alliance.
Why should the top American commander in the Middle East, General Joseph Votel, branded Iran as the “greatest long-term threat to stability” in the region and called for steps, including military action, to disrupt and undermine Iranian influence and activities.’
Strangely, Israel finds it amazing that Iran under the cunning Ayatollahs despite being under sanctions for the last 38 years has managed to totally defeat the Zionists at their own game. Iraq is now firmly in the Iranian grip. The same is with Lebanon as well

Israelis bent upon attacking Iran. In any case, if military action is carried out by either Israel or US warmongers under current conditions against Iran then this would not weaken but will strengthen Iran. Part of the reason is that Iranian people would view this as an outright assault against their country, and thus would provide further legitimacy to the existing regime.

War with Iran, like the War on Terror, primarily serves the interests of Israeli imperialism, not exactly American imperialism. Apartheid Israel wants to partition the Muslim states into fragmented statelets, preferably fighting each other, so Israel can divide and ruin. The Israel Lobby largely controls US Mideast policy, the Neocons being largely a Zionist pressure group.

Fighting wars for Israel is not in the interests of humanity or America, but a war on Israel is. Unless the American people understand how US foreign policy is allowed to be controlled form Israel that the capitalist plutocracy contains a fraction of Zionists who support Israeli imperialism, the US people and leaders cannot oppose it as they are not capable of that.
Any opposition Zionist criminal regime is attacked simply as anti-Semitic by the Israeli Lobby and their US supporters. This is madness and bullshit, and should be denounced as such.
Opposition to apartheid Israel is a class issue, and should be stated explicitly when relevant.
Genocides, racism, apartheid are serious crimes the Zionist regime perpetrates as its key policy.
How far would President Trump be able to reign in Israel and how much would he help Palestine get its full statehood o form UN and how far would he able to help build a strong nation would delineate the parameters of Trump policy for Wet Asia.

India out. GST war on islam. Islamist leader Abdelilah Benkirane as Morocco Premier (write to: abdulruff_jnu@yahoo.com)

India run out.

GST war on islam.

Islamist leader Abdelilah Benkirane as Morocco Premier

-DR. ABDUL RUFF

abdulruff_jnu@yahoo.com

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Parliament in Rabat, Morocco, 20 November 2011

I – Poll

Moroccans have elected new lower house of parliament on 25 November, in the first national vote since the approval of constitutional reforms in July billed as laying the foundations for a fully-fledged constitutional monarchy. Moderate Islamists, as expected, did well the vote after a similar success in Tunisia’s first democratic election a month ago and the Justice and Development Party (PJD) emerged as the biggest party in Friday’s parliamentary elections.

The Justice and Development Party (PJD) took 107 seats out of the 395 in Parliament, almost twice as many as the second-place nationalist Istiqlal party, with 60 seats. The election was held more than a year early, after pro-democracy demonstrations swept the country earlier this year as part of the regionwide Arab Spring.

The leader of a moderate Islamist party Abdelilah Benkirane has been appointed by King Mohammed VI as Morocco’s new prime minister. Abdelilah will now hold talks on forming a coalition government.  His Justice and Development Party has not been in government before.

The PJD’s victory follows that of Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda Party in an election there last month. Following elections, King Mohammed VI is for the first time obliged to choose the prime minister from the largest party, rather than naming whoever he pleases. King Mohammed received Benkirane, who is the PJD’s secretary general, in the mountain town of Midelt and named him head of government with the task of forming a new government.

Under a new constitution approved by referendum in July, the king has to choose a prime minister from the party that won the most seats. The constitution also gives the prime minister more powers to govern, but the king still has the final say on issues of defence, security and religion. The reforms were supported by all the main political parties, which called on their supporters to back the proposals in the referendum.

The 20 February movement, which spearheaded Morocco’s pro-democracy protests earlier this year, has called for a boycott of the elections, dismissing them as a “piece of theatre”. It says the constitutional changes approved in July are superficial, and perpetuate a “facade of democracy” that – it says – has disguised continuing royal rule for decades.

King Mohammed VI presented the constitutional changes as a far-reaching concession to Arab Spring-style pro-democracy protests, but activists believe they will do little to change the actual power structure and have called for a boycott of the elections. As a result of the constitutional changes approved by 98% of those voting in a 1 July referendum, the position of the prime minister, who must now be appointed from the largest party in parliament, has also been enhanced, gaining the authority to appoint government officials and dissolve parliament.  However, the parliament will have a greater share of power and – in theory – will play the leading role in a legislative process previously dominated by the king.

Benkirane, who was elected head of his party in 2008, leads its more pro-monarchy faction. He has repeatedly stated his support for a strong king, even though some of his colleagues would prefer a less powerful ruler. “The head of the state is king and no-one can govern without him,” he told supporters. The PJD has said it will promote Islamic finance. However, it has avoided focusing on issues such as alcohol and headscarves for women.

Many of the protesters who took to the streets in February feel the reforms still fall far short of their demands for a democratic, constitutional monarchy, and have called for a boycott. Ahead of the poll, the sleepy calm of the capital, Rabat, was occasionally punctuated by the marches of unemployed graduates. But the country’s powerful monarchy and the system that supports it appear to have averted any direct, mortal challenge for now.

A low turnout in the parliamentary poll would detract from the legitimacy of King Mohammed VI’s reforms and could hint at future problems.

II – Morocco

The Kingdom of Morocco is the most westerly of the North African countries known as the Maghreb. To the south, the status of Western Sahara remains unresolved. Morocco annexed the territory in 1975 and a guerrilla war with Algerian-backed pro-independence forces ended in 1991. UN efforts have failed to break the political deadlock. To the north, a dispute with Spain in 2002 over the tiny island of Perejil revived the issue of the sovereignty of Melilla and Ceuta. The small enclaves on the Mediterranean coast are surrounded by Morocco and have been administered by Madrid for centuries.

Strategically situated with both Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, but with a rugged mountainous interior, it stayed independent for centuries while developing a rich culture blended from Arab, Berber, European and African influences.  However, Morocco was a French protectorate from 1912 to 1956, when Sultan Mohammed became king. He was succeeded in 1961 by his son, Hassan II, who ruled for 38 years. He played a prominent role in the search for peace in the Middle East, given the large number of Israelis of Moroccan origin, but was criticized for suppressing domestic opposition. A truth commission set up to investigate human rights violations during Hassan’s reign confirmed nearly 10,000 cases, ranging from death in detention to forced exile. After his death in 1999 Hassan was succeeded by his son, who became King Mohammed VI and was seen as a modernizer. There has been some economic and social liberalization, but the monarch has retained sweeping powers.

King Mohammed is aided by a powerful propaganda machine – his image adorns streets and shops across the country. Central to the monarchical regime’s strength is its longevity – the Alaoui dynasty gained control of most of Morocco in 1664 – and its claim of descent from the Prophet Muhammad. The king has tremendous religious and political capital – it’s not just the king but the whole political establishment, the monarchy and the “makhzen” provide for the patronage network that embodies Morocco’s ruling elite.

Moroccan citizens, many of them poor and illiterate and living in rural areas, are made to believe that the monarch has a special gift or blessing and they feel that they have some psychological relationship with the king. Symbolic rituals also boost his status. In an annual ceremony of allegiance, the “bay’a”, Moroccan officials bow before the king as he parades on a horse.

Despite these traditional trappings, the monarchy under the 48-year-old king has taken on a more modern, reformist image. His father, Hassan II, ran a notoriously brutal regime between 1961 and 1999. Opponents were tortured and protests repressed.  1965, the interior minister at the time, Gen Mohammed Oufkir, supervised a crackdown on demonstrations in Casablanca from a helicopter while – according to one story – personally spraying rioters with a machine gun. But a process of gradual reform began in the final years of Hassan’s rule, and continued with his son. It included a family law that advanced women’s rights and a truth commission that explored abuses under King Hassan – though none of those responsible were prosecuted.

Along with Ennahda in Tunisia and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, it places itself within a contemporary movement to promote and respect Islam and reconcile Islam and democracy. Coalitions of more secular, royalist parties have tried to smother it and the Islamists have found it hard to directly challenge the king because of his religious status as “commander of the faithful”. It too is seen by many as being in the pocket of the palace. The PJD here in Morocco is presenting the ‘third way’ between revolution and the uncertainty of the current system.

The toppling of long-standing leaders in Tunisia and Egypt at the beginning of the year is widely seen as having caught the Moroccan regime off-guard, at a time when the reform process had stagnated. As Morocco’s own protest movement took shape, a long-held taboo was breached. It’s the first time in Morocco that the king was openly criticized and they didn’t shoot people. Instead, the monarchy’s response was to promise changes including rights guarantees and more powers for the parliament. These were enshrined in a new constitution that was approved by referendum in July.

III – Observations

Maybe, the Arab World is in the process of changing but Arabs still don’t know the results and what will happen in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria or Yemen especially the destruction of Libya by the NATO-UNSC terror organizations. The moderately Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which has been buoyed by the recent reforms, and by the gains Islamists have made elsewhere in the region, could win the election and so supply the next prime minister.

Leaders of Morocco claim they are presenting the way of reform without losing the stability, the unity of the country- but at the same time furthering the democratic agenda of Morocco.

Morocco’s ruling elite thinks it has skillfully sidestepped the revolutionary fervor sweeping the Arab world by offering a milder, more peaceful vision of change. Critics of the reforms point in particular to the fact that the king will still have wide-ranging executive powers, in particular control over foreign, defence and security policy. Activists also say the reforms will not end the behind-the-scenes dominance of the “makhzen” – a power apparatus of veteran politicians, powerful businesspeople, the security forces and royal officials controlled by the king through a system of patronage.

Morocco is bidding for membership of the European Union, its main trade partner, but there appears to be little enthusiasm for this within the bloc.

Morocco has been given the status of non-Nato ally by Washington, which has praised its support for the US-led war on terror. After deadly suicide bombings in Casablanca in 2003, Morocco launched a crackdown on suspected Islamic militants.

The message of a democratic agenda and gradual change is one that has gone down well with Morocco’s allies in the anti-Islamic US and Europe who promote pro-west leaders in Muslim world and destabilize the Muslim nations if the leaders do not buy CIA terror gimmicks…

Political and poll bribery is common. Sheep were being handed out to voters, and over the last few months, the protest movement has been subject to a smear campaign, arrests, and intimidation at the hands of shadowy groups of pro-monarchy thugs known as “baltaja”. But Moroccans say they will show the Western world that Morocco can bring about a gentle revolution and the nation can travel towards a real democracy.

In Morocco elections are never decisive as the king retains ultimate control and though parliament has more power, parties are weak. The electoral system is prepared on purpose not to let anyone succeed, so it’s impossible to get more than 20% of the seats in parliament and this is to allow the monarchy to dominate. The manipulation of the party system is just one of the old-fashioned tactics still being deployed to bolster the status quo.  According to analysts, the reforms passed this year are largely cosmetic, and there is no guarantee they will be put into practice on the ground. However, so long as it plays the NATO fiddle well, it has got nothing to worry.

Claims, fake or real, of descent from the Prophet Muhammad (Peace) by a few pampered Muslim leaders might be fashionable but are ridiculous if they decline to promote true Islam in the society. Moroccan king clams the same of being a descent from the Prophet Muhammad but he shamelessly sides with NATO terrorism and western anti-Islamism. A Muslim nation that promotes anti-Islamism and helps, directly or otherwise, the anti-Islamic GST rogues and refuses to promote Islamic way of life and institutionalize Islamic law on daily basis ceases to be a Muslim nation.  Muslim leaders in such societies are guilty of anti-Islamic crimes.

Elected premier Islamist leader Abdelilah Benkirane, though worships the king, has a responsibly constructive role to play in this regard so that Islam takes firm roots in the society. Americans, Britishers and other western terrocrats cannot help him or Morocco in this regard. Benkirane’s pro-people policies and their proper implementation would greatly benefit not just Muslims but entire humanity in some measure.

Muhammad praying at the Ka’ba.

——–
د. عبد راف

Dr. Abdul Ruff, Specialist on State Terrorism; Educationalist;Chancellor-Founder of Centor for International Affairs(CIA); Independent Analyst;Chronicler of Foreign occupations & Freedom movements(Palestine,Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc); Anti-Muslimism and anti-Islamism are more dangerous than “terrorism” Anti-Islamic forces & terrorists are using criminal elements for terrorizing the world and they in disguise are harming genuine interests of ordinary Muslims. Global media today, even in Muslim nations, are controlled by CIA  & other anti-Islamic agencies. Former university Teacher;/website:abdulruff.wordpress.com

Daring North Korea fires Scud-class ballistic missile toward Japan!

Daring North Korea fires Scud-class ballistic missile toward Japan!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
________

 

For quite some time North Korea, threatened by USA, South Korea and Japan, has been testing new missile capabilities to equal similar capabilities of neighboring nations and USA.
On Monday the May 29 North Korea fired at least one short-range ballistic missile that landed in the sea off its east coast into Japan’s maritime economic zone. It was the latest in a fast-paced series of missile tests defying world pressure and threats of more sanctions. The missile was believed to be a Scud-class ballistic missile and flew about USA considers it the latest in a series of provocative launches that have ratcheted up tensions over its nuclear weapons ambitions. 450 km (280 miles), South Korean officials said. North Korea has a large stockpile of the short-range missiles, originally developed by the Soviet Union.
It was the third ballistic missile test-launch (and the 12th this yea) since South Korea’s liberal President Moon Jae-in took office on May 10 pledging to engage with the reclusive neighbor in dialogue. Moon says sanctions alone have failed to resolve the growing threat from the North’s advancing nuclear and missile program.
The test is the latest launch by Pyongyang this year as the isolated regime steps up efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that can deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental USA
North Korea, which has conducted dozens of missile tests and tested two nuclear bombs since the beginning of 2016 in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, says the program is necessary to counter US aggression.
North Korea last test-fired a ballistic missile on May 21 off its east coast and said it had tested a new anti-aircraft weapon supervised by leader Kim Jong Un. The North Korean regime has hundreds of artillery cannons and rocket launchers within range of one of the most densely populated cities on Earth, which is the capital of South Korea. In the program “Face the Nation”, he said in the event of war, they would bring danger to China and to Russia as well”.
Modified versions of the Scud have a range of up to 1,000 km (620 miles). Monday’s launch followed two successful tests of medium- to long-range missiles in as many weeks by the North, which has been conducting such tests at an unprecedented pace in an effort to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the mainland United States.
The launch comes in fresh defiance of tough talk from US President Donald Trump, who promised last week at the G7 summit that the “big problem” of North Korea “will be solved”.
North Korea has tested Scud-type, short-range missiles many times in the past, most recently in April, according to US officials. However, experts say it may be trying to test new capabilities that may be fed into its efforts to build an ICBM. “There are many possibilities It could have been a test for a different type of engine. Or to verify the credibility of the main engine for ICBM’s first stage rocket,” said Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University’s Far Eastern Studies department in Seoul.
The missile launches, and Pyongyang’s threat to stage its sixth nuclear test, have prompted calls for tougher UN sanctions and a warning from Trump that military intervention was an option under consideration. US military monitors said the short-range missile flew for six minutes, while Japan said it fell into the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) — waters extending 200 nautical miles from its coast.
North Korea likely showing its determination to push ahead in the face of international pressure to rein in its missile program and “to pressure the (South Korean) government to change its policy on the North”, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Roh Jae-cheon said. The missile reached an altitude of 120 km (75 miles), Roh said. “The assessment is there was at least one missile but we are analyzing the number of missiles,” he said.
Japan lodged a protest against the test missile, which appeared to have landed in its exclusive economic zone. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe swiftly condemned the test and vowed concerted action along with its US ally. “We will never tolerate North Korea’s continued provocations that ignore repeated warnings by the international community,” Abe told reporters. “As agreed during the G7 summit, the North Korean problem is the international community’s top priority. In order to deter North Korea, we will take concrete action with the United States.”
South Korea’s Moon swiftly called a meeting of the National Security Council, South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. Seoul’s new liberal administration has said Pyongyang’s repeated test launches were dashing hopes for peace.
The White House said President Donald Trump had been briefed about the launch. The US Pacific Command said it tracked what appeared to be a short-range ballistic missile for six minutes and assessed it did not pose a threat to North America. The USA has said it was looking at discussing with China a new UN Security Council resolution and that Beijing, North Korea’s main diplomatic ally and neighbor, realizes time was limited to rein in its weapons program through negotiations. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, asked what a military conflict with North Korea might look like if diplomacy failed, warned it would be “probably the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes”.
China reiterated that UN Security Council resolutions had “clear rules” about North Korean missile activities and it urged Pyongyang not to contravene them. “The situation on the Korean peninsula is complex and sensitive, and we hope all relevant sides maintain calm and exercise restraint, ease the tense situation as soon as possible and put the issue back onto the correct track of peaceful dialogue,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Russia condemned the launched and also called for restraint, “including towards military activity”, from the partners it was working with, the RIA news agency quoted a deputy Russian foreign minister as saying.
The isolated but nuclear-armed North has test-fired a missile almost every week for the past three weeks. The latest, a short-range Scud, flew about 450 kilometres (280 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) between the Korean peninsula and Japan, the US Pacific Command said. The test also marked the second time this year that a North Korean missile fell provocatively close to its neighbour Japan.

Despite US President Trump’s strident warnings, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in an interview that aired before the launch that a war with North Korea would be “catastrophic.” “This regime is a threat to the region, to Japan, to South Korea. And in the event of war, they would bring danger to China and to Russia as well. But the bottom line is, it would be a catastrophic war if this turns into a combat, if we’re not able to resolve this situation through diplomatic means.”Mattis declined to say what kind of action from Pyongyang would constitute a “red line” for Washington, saying the administration needs “political manoeuvre room.”

South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-In, ordered a meeting of the national Security Council to assess the launch, which came a day after North Korea, said its leader Kim Jong-Un had overseen a test of a new anti-aircraft weapons system. The South condemned the test as a “grave threat” and a challenge to the new leader who advocates dialogue with the North in a break from his conservative predecessors. “That the North repeated such provocations after the inauguration of our new leadership… is a direct challenge to our demand for peace and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the foreign ministry said.

Following North Korea’s test-firing of what analysts said was its longest-range rocket yet earlier this month, the UN Security Council vowed to push all countries to tighten sanctions against Pyongyang. But China, the North’s main trade partner and ally, has made it clear that the push for diplomatic talks — and not imposing more sanctions — is the priority. The USA has said it is willing to enter into talks with North Korea — but only if it halts its missile and nuclear tests.
Meanwhile, the USA will test an existing missile defense system on Tuesday to try to intercept an ICBM, the first such test, officials said.
All said and done one thing is certain: there is no possibility of a missile war between North Korea and other competing powers or USA precisely because any war could be disastrous for the war torn nations as in the case of Afghanistan and Arab nations. USA takes all precautions to deny any chance to North Korea to start a war and hence it uses China towards that purpose. .

Indian coercive strategy has made Kashmiris more alienated than ever before!

Indian coercive strategy has made Kashmiris more alienated than ever before!
(A Sovereign Kashmir: Random Thoughts-302)
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
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Jammu Kashmir was a soverign nation until India and Pakistan invaded and occupied it after their own independence from Great Britain. Both India and Pakistan wanted to expand their territories by annexing neighboring Jammu Kashmir and they have done with blessings from their colonial master UK.
India and Pakistan have disputed the territory for nearly 70 years – since independence from Britain. Both countries claim the whole territory but control only parts of it. Two out of three wars fought between India and Pakistan centered on Kashmir. Since 1989 there has been an armed revolt in the Muslim-majority region against rule by India. High unemployment and complaints of heavy-handed tactics by security forces battling street protesters and fighting insurgents have aggravated the problem
Unable to tolerate Indian brutality, Kashmiris are on revolt against Indian occupational crimes. They want USA, UK and other veto members to consider the pathetic plight of Kashmiri Muslims and give them their sovereignty back so that at least their children could live in peace without having to face the Indian military brutality.
India is fast losing Jammu Kashmir as it hates Kashmiris for demanding freedom and sovereignty from occupying Indian military which now enjoys more draconian powers to target Kashmiris at will. Indian regime never cares for human rights violations by its military in Kashmir.
New Delhi has conveniently fooled Kashmiris on its promise of greater autonomy for the region for efficiency while core Indian media lords spread lies about Kashmiris through 24 hours in their TV channels.
Now India is using Kashmiris as military shield with more and more army’s intimidation, wrongful confinement of Kashmiri youth.
Instead of punishing the guilty in their ranks for misusing their powers by ruthlessly attacking Kashmiri Muslims through fake encounters, among other techniques, it honors the guilty with awards and more money for their “meritorious services”. This anomaly has annoyed Kashmiri leaders.
A Kashmir Muslim, Farooq Ahmad Dar, who was tied to an army jeep by military solders and used him as a human shield in India-occupied Kashmir has said he is “afraid” after the officer responsible for the incident was awarded a commendation by the military. “I was under the impression he would be punished. But he was given a reward,” Farooq Ahmad Dar told BBC. The decision, announced on Monday, was met with shock in Kashmir. The army officer responsible for the action said he did it to make India stronger.
Dar had just finished casting his vote at a polling booth when the incident took place. Tied to the jeep, he was driven around villages, as an “example” of what would happen to anyone who threw stones at armed forces. “I was persecuted even though I was one of the few who voted,” Dar said. “Since the day the officer was awarded, I’m even more afraid. Now he will return to the same camp, and I am in danger.”I am feeling under tremendous pressure. He will be back and my situation will worsen.”
The army officer at the centre of the controversy, Major Nitin Gogoi, in a rare departure from official protocol, was allowed to address a media conference and defended his actions. “With this new India idea, I have saved many peoples’ lives.”
The foremost leader of freedoms struggle Syed Ali Geelani, chairman of the Hurriyat – an umbrella group of separatists in Kashmir – called the army decision “distressing and shameful”. Amnesty International India also condemned the decision, saying it gave out the impression that the Indian army “condones human rights abuses”. But views on social media were sharply divided between those who criticised the army decision and those who said Major Gogoi was a hero.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah said the army decision was “wrong”. He said the consequences could be “disastrous”, adding that “the use of human shields is now officially fair and justified in a Kashmir that stands more alienated than ever before”. The Urdu language newspaper Kashmir Uzma saw the move as an “open warning”. “It seems that by honoring the officer, the authorities in New Delhi are trying to send a clear message to Kashmiris that they have reliable tactics for restoring order, even when it involves violating human rights,” it said.
For quite some time, India has been running from country to country and invites rulers from every country to inform that Kashmir has been a part of India for centuries and Pakistan is spoiling the minds of Kashmiris to protest against Indian misrule. New Delhi might think foreign leaders, like Indian media lords, have no knowledge of the past and history. .
Last summer was one of the bloodiest in the Muslim-dominated valley in recent years. Following the killing of influential freedom fighting militant Burhan Wani by Indian forces last July, more than 100 civilians lost their lives in clashes during a four-month-long security lockdown in the valley. It’s not looking very promising this summer.
India occupied Kashmir has seen a fresh upsurge of violence in the past few months, with stone-throwing civilians pitted against military personnel. India is not happy that the youth has not taken real weapons so that Indian military could kill all of them and ask Indian core media lords, controlled by intelligence, to call the Kashmiris “TERRORISTS”.
As its usual safe tactic, whenever there is an upsurge in Sri Nagar, India quickly blames Pakistan for inciting the violence, a charge the latter dutifully denies.

This month’s parliamentary election in Srinagar was scarred by violence and a record-low turnout of voters. To add fuel to the fire, graphic social videos surfaced claiming to show abuses by security forces and young people who oppose Indian rule. A full-blown protest by students has now erupted on the streets; and, in a rare sight, even schoolgirls are throwing stones and hitting police vehicles.
JK Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who leads an awkward ruling coalition with the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rushed to Delhi last week to urge the federal Modi government to “announce a dialogue and show reconciliatory gestures”.
India ignores the military atrocities on Kashmiri Muslims being ritually committed as a tool to silence the Kashmiri youth. Apparently, PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh told her that they could not “offer a dialogue with separatists and other restive groups in the valley” while fierce violence and militant attacks continued.

Former chief minister and leader of the regional National Conference party Farooq Abdullah warned India that it was “losing Kashmir”. What Abdullah suggested was unexceptionable: the government should begin talking with the stakeholders – Pakistan, the separatists, mainstream parties – and start “thinking of not a military solution, but a political way”. Ignoring the plight of Muslims in the valley, but only thinking only about Hindus in Kashmir as being propelled by Hindutva zealots in the media is not good.

Kashmir is one of most militarized zones on earth with military troops occupying almost every place so that any protest for freedom could be put done forthwith while informing the media to cook stories to make reports about “Muslim terrorists attacked or killed” type headings.
With more than 500,000 security forces in the region, India is unlikely to lose territory in Kashmir but Kashmiris are not with India. .Shekhar Gupta, a leading columnist, says that while Kashmir is “territorially secure, we are fast losing it emotionally and psychologically”. The abysmal 7% turnout in the Srinagar poll proved that “while your grip on the land is firm, you are losing its people”. So what is new about Kashmir that is worrying India and even provoking senior army officials to admit that the situation is fragile? Kashmiri youth is now politically matured and they know they need sovereignty for self development and regain dignity. .
For one, a more reckless and alienated younger generation of local youth is now leading the anti-India protests. More than 60% of the men in the valley are under 30. Many of them are angry and confused about what India plans and wants in Kashmir.

Hope has evaporated for his generation “in face of Indian oppression” and he and his friends did not “fear death”. When I took him aside after a while to ask about his ambitions in life, he said he wanted to become a bureaucrat and serve Kashmir. “It is wrong to say that the Kashmiri youth has become fearless. He just feels alienated, sidelined and humiliated. When he feels like that, fear takes a backseat, and he becomes reckless. This is irrational behavior,” says National Conference leader Junaid Azim Mattoo.
Secondly, the new younger militants are educated and come from relatively well-off families. Youthful Kashmiri leader Wani, who was killed last July as the militant, headed a prominent rebel group and came from a highly-educated upper-class Kashmiri family: his father is a government school teacher. Wani’s younger brother, Khalid, who was killed by security forces in 2013, was a student of political science. The new commander of the rebel group, Zakir Rashid Bhat, studied engineering in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh.

The two-year-old fragile PDP-BJP ruling alliance, many say, has been unable to deliver on its promises. While BJP is trying to increase its base in Jammu Kashmir, PDP is fast losing popular faith in its ability to defend Muslims in Kashmir. An alliance between a regional party which advocates soft separatism (PDP) and a federal Hindutva nationalist party (BJP), they believe, makes for the strangest bedfellows, hobbled by two conflicting ideologies trying to work their way together in a contested, conflicted land. Both Congress and NC are trying to make maximum mileage from the weak government in Sri Nagar.
The federal government’s message on Kashmir appears to be backfiring.
When PM Modi recently said the youth in Kashmir had to choose between terrorism and tourism, many Kashmiris accused him of trivializing their “protracted struggle”. When BJP general secretary Ram Madhav told a newspaper that his government “would have choked” the valley people if it was against them, many locals said it was proof of the government’s arrogance.

The shrill anti-Muslim rhetoric by radical Hindutva groups and politics of incidents of cow protection attacking Muslim cattle traders in other parts of India could end up further polarising people in the valley. “The danger,” a prominent leader told me, “is that the moderate Kashmiri Muslim is becoming sidelined, and he is being politically radicalized.”

The security forces Kashmir, now adhering to Hindutva politics, differ and say they are actually worried about rising “religious radicalization” among the youth in the valley. A top army official in Kashmir, Lt-Gen JS Sadhu, told a newspaper that the “public support to terrorists, their glorification and increased radicalization are issues of concern”. Kashmiri public does not the government or governor or New Delhi masters. One army official said that religious radicalization was a “bigger challenge than stone pelting protesters”. He even claims that some 3,000 Saudi-inspired Wahhabi sect mosques had sprung up in Kashmir in the past decade. The military is eager to build some Hindu structures in Kashmir valley al s well.
Most Kashmiris say the government should be more worried about the cause of “political radicalization” of the young, and that fears of religious radicalization were exaggerated and overblown. Also, the low turnout in this month’s elections has rattled the region’s mainstream parties. “If mainstream politics is delegitimized and people refuse to vote for them, the vacuum will be obviously filled up with a disorganized mob-led constituency,” Mattoo of the National Conference said.
In his memoirs, Amarjit Singh Daulat, the former chief of India’s spy agency RAW wrote that “nothing is constant; least of all Kashmir”. But right now, the anomie and anger of the youth, and a worrying people’s revolt against Indian rule, appear to be the only constants.
If New Delhi still believes that Indian military in Kashmir could solve the Kashmir problems by Zionist or Indian guns there it is mistaken- it is ridiculous for any regime which is serious about democracy to think of a military solution. Kashmir requires political solution. If India still think Kashmiris want to be controlled by Indian military, then, a referendum should be organized under the UN flag.

As India’s most restive region JK stares down the abyss of what a commentator calls another “hot summer of violence”, the doom-laden headline has returned with a vengeance: Should India let Kashmiris live on their own as a soverign nation?

Denial of mass crimes by Sri Lanka: UNSC must initiate punitive measures!

Denial of mass crimes by Sri Lanka: UNSC must initiate punitive measures!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
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The truth remains that all terrorisms are the creation of the states that behave irrationally and attack minorities on the strength of their majority and military power. Israel invented terrorism and USA used it a perfect tool to advance its imperialist goals. USA and Israel jointly launched many Islamic terrorist organizations by giving them suitable Arabic and English names to confuse and terrorize the humanity, invade energy rich Arab nations and to defame Islam as a terrorist religion. They have jointly destabilized Arab world after looting their resources, murdering them in millions.

Sri Lanka is one of those weak nations that terrorized the minority community with military force and also claim to be innocent and victims. They almost succeeded in committing a holocaust of Tamils in their nation. They don’t bother about international legal system or punishment for their state crimes.
Sri Lanka first used the Tamils as their servants and Tamils obliged them. Sri Lanka refused to give them human status even after several decades of residency and denied many basis rights to them.
Tamils protested. The LTTE came much later to serve their causes. Tamils got several rights. The majority Singhalese were annoyed about giving any status of to Tamils from Southern India who had come to the island nation to work for them and strengthen their economy. It was during the British era. Then Singhalese community began hating Tamils for sharing their jobs in government.
In the face of credible allegations that his forces had slaughtered tens of thousands of Tamil civilians, the claim was jaw-droopingly brazen. Yet, as the evidence mounted, the Rajapaksa government and its representatives continued to dispute not only its culpability, but also the very fact of mass civilian death.
The Sirisena regime promised action against Rajapaksha and the military bosses for their collective crimes against Tamils and proposed reconciliation with Tamils but he did not begin that effort. He asked Indian government to save the Tamils with economic assistance.

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Hatred for Tamils in Sri Lanka has grown too much that now it attacks the Tamil fishermen who traditionally fish for their supporting their livelihood, loot their boats, arrest them and put them in jails, expecting Indian government to plead and (even beg) with Sirisena to do the “favor” of releasing the Indians and returning their belongings. Indian government did all this because of the pressure from Tamil nadu government.
Sri Lankan regime feels happy and even proud of its “strategic” advantages over India and wants the USA to co-opt Colombo as a “reliable” strategic partner.

Tamil Nadu and Ceylon were historically not separated as they are now. Even in 1970s before the start of Civil war and consequent loss of freedom in Sri Lanka, fishermen communities from either side frequently visited each other’s places. It is told that people from Lanka would take a boat and come to present day Nagapattinam District, watch a movie in talkies and will get back same day. Then fishermen did not have any problem with fishing boundaries since all the problem areas are traditional fishing grounds. The present problem had its origin in formation of India and Sri Lanka as two sovereign countries. Now fishermen from both sides had to follow boundaries. The problem was compounded by Katchatheevu island settlement in 1974(this agreement is not constitutionally valid since it is not ratified by parliament). Fishermen from Indian side lost additional areas due to loss of Katchatheevu.
India-Sri Lanka fishing issue. Relation between two countries comes under pressure due to fishermen straying into each other’s waters. Every month dozens of fishermen from each country get arrested for illegal poaching. The fishing controversy is due to the unclear demarcation over the Palk Strait, a narrow strip of sea between the two countries. As for Sri Lankan fishermen, they do not know where Sri Lankan waters end and the Indian waters begin. They also lack GPS in boats.
The Palk Strait is a strip of ocean that separates Tamil Nadu in India from the Mannar district in Sri Lanka. Its width is between 53 and 80 km, the narrow division between the two countries has resulted in confusion over who holds ownership over the waters. In the case of the Palk Strait, both Sri Lanka’s and India’s EEZ overlap each other. This has now resulted in the conflict that has arisen between the two nation’s fishing communities.
Both Indian and Sri Lankan prefer to go towards the Katchatheevu Island area in the strait, where fish reserves are said to be abundant due to presence of deep waters and the rocky formation. For Sri Lankan fishermen it is within their maritime boundary. Sri Lanka doesn’t agree with Indian Fisherman’s practice of doing bottom trawling which not only captures fishes but also disturbs their habitat. This leads to less fishes coming to those areas because of lack of nutrients. Bottom trawling is banned in many countries
The issue of fishermen came to the fore only with emergence of violent ethnic conflict between the Tamil militants and the Sri Lankan government in the mid 1980s. Increased vigilance by the Sri Lankan Navy to check intermittent flow of Tamil refugees into India and flow of arms and supplies to Tamil militant groups made fishing difficult and risky.
World powers, especially those that claim that democracy and rule of law are central to global governance, have not taken the mass murder of minority Tamils by Sri Lankan regime under President Rajapaksha to be a serious crime. They seem to suggest that all state crimes are a part of democracy and rule of law and hence they are lawful and no need to punish the rulers for their crimes against humanity.
Then President Mahinda Rajapaksa defends Sri Lanka’s military offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the mass murder of the Tamils because he does not distinguish between Tamil community and LTTE. What exactly he and his military had tried was a holocaust of Tamil community on the Island land. Although Rajapaksha could achieve full holocaust, he succeeded in perpetrating genocides of Tamils and terrorizing them to leave the Sri Lanka.
Not only Rajapaksha but even Sirisena who defeated him in the poll to become the President seems to support the military crimes against humanity. Yes, not only Sri Lankan leaders even the USA also seems to support the crimes of Sri Lanka against minority community.

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Lankan regime justified the genocides of Tamils in Lanka as war terror and hence very much humane act as it had to fight the LTTE. Much has been made of the example set by Sri Lanka’s ruthless strategy as an alternative to “hearts and minds” counterinsurgency efforts.

Governments battling stubborn militant movements continue to seek advice from Colombo on employing the “Rajapaksa model.” But the successful elimination of the LTTE in 2009 wasn’t the only unexpected feat Sri Lanka accomplished. Sri Lanka managed to preempt international action long enough to conclude its brutal campaign, despite state-perpetrated civilian casualties on a massive scale.
Sirisena’s reaction to accusations of war crimes is very cool as if nothing bad had happened in his country when he was a loyal minister in Rajapaksha government. Although Sirisena has not rejected all allegations of atrocities as pure imagination of the world, he has refused legal action against Rajapaksha. There plays the Sinhala politics where all Singhalese leaders have ganged up to defend both Rajapaksha and Lankan from punishment for their heinous crimes.
The Sirisena government, therefore, doesn’t allow the UN to investigate the war crimes committed by his predecessor Rajapaksha he still maintain cordial al relations with him. .
And importantly, the Rajapaksa government then enjoyed much greater international support than any other despot on earth.
Sirisena would argue that the LTTE had significant popular support and hence their genocides are logical and apr to rule of law. USA and other so-called democracies refused to discuss the pattern of human right violations in Sri Lanka where the Tamils were cornered by the military, police. The government justifies all custodial torture and extrajudicial killings of suspected regime opponents, attacks on civilian targets including hospitals and aid conveys, and the use of prohibited weapons. And in both cases international audiences raised the alarm about mass atrocities.. In addition to forbidding foreign correspondents and human rights organizations access to the conflict zone, the Sri Lankan government terrorized the domestic press. Under Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka became one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist.

The delivery of humanitarian aid was also severely restricted. In September 2008, the government ordered all aid workers out of the conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka. While foreign journalists are not officially banned from the country, access to regime-held territory is limited to pre-approved journalists, often accompanied by a minder. Today, it tops the list of deadliest countries for journalists, in large part due to regime attacks on the domestic press. Humanitarian aid delivery has been restricted since the conflict began. In Sri Lanka these measures cut off nearly all sources of independent information.
The second tactic out of Colombo’s playbook is to vehemently contest the limited information that does trickle out of the war zone. The Sri Lankan government challenged all casualty reports as “Tiger propaganda.” In late April 2009, as thousands were dying from government shelling, the Sri Lankan Air Force denied that it was carrying out any operations. Both during and after the war, the Rajapaksa regime also challenged the veracity of all photographic and video evidence. The regime disputed the authenticity of photo and video evidence of weapons attacks, barrel bombs, torture, and extrajudicial killings. Sri Lanka boldly claims that video evidence of extrajudicial killing was faked by “Tamil rebels in army uniform.”
Despite the implausibility of the claim, Sri Lanka insisted that any shelling of civilian targets had been committed not by his military boys but by the “terrorists.” The government also repeatedly accused the LTTE of employing civilians as human shields, arguing that this exonerated the military of any responsibility for their deaths.
Any criminal regime would try to justify its crimes just like any street criminal does. On first look, these tactics – all of which amount to contesting empirically verifiable facts – appear deluded. Against reams of physical and testimonial evidence of war crimes, who would believe a self-interested denial?
But sometimes it works and the strategy paid off for Sri Lanka. In fact, immediately following its victory, the Rajapaksa regime was commended by the U.N. Human Rights Council for its efforts “to ensure the safety and security of all Sri Lankans.” And as impunity for war crimes was compounded by a litany of human rights abuses in the aftermath of the war, the most significant sanctions the government faced were reductions in aid and trade. The war ended eight years ago this week, and to this day no member of the civilian or military leadership has faced justice for war crimes.
But now Sri Lanka wages a regular war on Tamil fishing community.
Sri Lanka’s apparent success in influencing international community not act on SL state terror operations did not depend on actually convincing anyone that it hadn’t committed war crimes. It simply relied on muddying the waters enough to prevent international action. Two structural features of the situation enabled this strategy: First, Sri Lanka was mostly insulated from action at the UN Security Council or at the International Criminal Court. Consequently, there was no straightforward path to halting the violations or ensuring justice for them.
Any intervention (military, judicial, or otherwise) would have been costly and challenging to coordinate. And the final phase of the conflict played out against the backdrop of the Global War on Terror, allowing Sri Lanka to emphasize the LTTE’s use of terrorist tactics and characterize their eradication as an international necessity. There was widespread support (both overt and tacit) for the fight against the LTTE as a terror group. If the first dynamic meant that the bar for international action was set higher than it would have been otherwise, the second meant that Sri Lanka’s actions, seen through the more permissive lens of a fight against terrorism, were less likely to clear that bar.
War crimes are thus justified.
International action on mass atrocities is the exception rather than the rule and Sri Lanka is eager to escape punishment. . The Sri Lankan experience shows that obfuscation and denial can be enough to exploit this inertia and prevent intervention from international community, especially India, which shamelessly kills Kashmiris in their own nation Kashmir which is under Indian military occupation – and alas, UN and UNSC do not intervene to stop the Indian state crimes in Kashmir, does not press for UN investigation and punishing the guilty.
For Sri Lanka, Israel and India are the models in perpetrating crimes against minorities and terrorizing nations under their illegal occupation – Kashmir and Palestine, respectively.
Can USA, ICC and UNSC let Sri Lankan regime get away with mass murder, giving precedence for other criminal regimes to emulate it?
Since Sri Lanka is in denial of mass crimes by its military-police, it is time the UNSC stepped in to initiate punitive measures!

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After Mideast, President Trump calls on Pope Francis at the Vatican!

After Mideast, President Trump calls on Pope Francis at the Vatican!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff

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One gets the impression that US President Donald Trump could lead his nation and world at large to a new world without conflicts. However, if he misleads the world by his mischief as a usual US leader, then,  like his predecessors have done before him, would betray the humanity beyond Mideast and the  humanity would be  the silent victim to  war mongers and looters.

US President Donald Trump has met Pope Francis on May 24 morning at the Vatican for a short private audience on the third leg of his overseas trip before going to Europe to conclude his madden tour as the custodian of White House. Trump is now due to meet Italy’s president and prime minister. He will then fly to Brussels for a NATO summit.

The US President arrived for the meeting along with his wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner after their visit to Israel. The meeting was keenly awaited as the two men have already clashed at a distance on issues including migration and climate change.

Trump and his entourage arrived at the Vatican n the morning just before 08:30 local time; the meeting was arranged last minute which resulted in the early start time. The US president was greeted by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the head of the papal household, and escorted by the Swiss Guard from the Vatican courtyard to the offices of Pope Francis. Journalists who covered the initial greeting said the pair were cordial with each other. Trump told the Pope “it is a great honour”. The two men spoke privately for about 20 minutes before returning to a public arena to exchange gifts.

Though this is their first meeting, they’ve already sparred. During the election the Pope on a visit to the Mexico-US border said that people who only think of building walls instead of bridges were not Christians. Donald Trump described those comments as disgraceful, and accused the pontiff of being a pawn of the Mexican government. But on Wednesday both men were seeking to find common ground.

It is hard to think of two more contrasting characters than Pope Francis and President Trump. On one hand, the Jesuit who has made his mission the championing of the poor and dispossessed; on the other the property developer who has championed getting rich, and surrounded himself with billionaires in his cabinet. Interestingly, Trump gave the Pope a boxed set of writings by the black civil rights leader Martin Luther King. The Pope gave Trump a signed copy of a message he delivered for World Peace Day, along with some of his writings about the need to protect the environment. “Well, I’ll be reading them,” Trump told him.

Trump seemed subdued during their initial meeting, while Pope Francis was not as jovial as he sometimes is with world leaders. The two men appeared much more relaxed at the end of their 30-minute private meeting. He was granted a short private audience with the head of the Catholic Church on the latest leg of his overseas trip. The two men have in the past clashed on issues such as migration, climate change and a Mexico-US wall. On international affairs, their “exchange of views” covered the “promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation and interreligious dialogue”, and highlighted the need to protect Christian communities in the Middle East.

The Vatican said later that they shared a commitment to “life, and freedom of worship and conscience” and expressed hope that they can collaborate “in service to the people in the fields of healthcare, education and assistance to migrants”.

 

 

Saudi Arabia and Iran

Trump vowed to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve durable peace, as he ended the Middle East leg of his tour. The US leader began his foreign trip with a two-day stop in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, urging Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalization.

Western powers make maximum benefits of the illogical Saudi-Iran rift.

After the first leg of his trip in Saudi Arabia, President Trump seems to hope that Sunni Arab countries might be part of any solution between Israel and the Palestinians.  Without doubt the Saudis and the Israelis are talking, because Iran is their shared enemy. But the Saudis have had their own Arab peace plan on the table for the last 15 years, offering full peace and recognition of Israel in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the entire territory of the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in East Jerusalem. That is something the current Israeli government is not prepared to concede.

Antipathy towards Iran is the one thing that Washington’s disparate allies in the region agree upon. So, bashing of Tehran has been a prominent theme for Trump both in Saudi Arabia and now in Israel. Hostility to Iran is the glue that binds what some would like to believe is an emerging coalition between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf States together. But how far it really promises to shake up the sterile politics of the region is unclear.

A common purpose to contain Iran is one thing but can it really extend to bringing a new diplomatic dawn to the region? For Trump, criticising Tehran performs multiple functions. It allows him to sound tough on the world stage. Tougher than his predecessor, Barack Obama, who, he believes, signed one of the worst deals in history in reaching the nuclear accord with Iran.

It enables him to reassure both the Gulf Arabs and Israel at one and the same time. And it underscores the narrative of a common front emerging in the region that – at least according to the Trump administration – holds the enticing promise of a new dynamic in the log-jammed struggle between Israel and the Palestinians. And, of course, it also sends a warning signal to Tehran about aspects of its policy in the region that Washington sees as contrary to US interests.

It is also not a policy of nuance or one that contends with complex reality. How does it look providing ringing endorsements to the Saudis and selling them a fortune of weaponry, when they are engaged in a brutal war in Yemen?

The Trump government’s almost brash belief in the possibilities of a wider Middle East peace seems to be at variance with most experts who know the region well. They argue neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are ready to make the hard compromises necessary to achieve a lasting peace.

Some have argued that rather than focusing on a comprehensive deal that would have to resolve the hard questions like Jerusalem and refugees, the goal should be less ambitious; an interim deal that might mark the re-starting of a longer term diplomatic process. But it is not clear yet if the new US administration has the patience for this kind of worthy diplomacy. And this brings us back to Iran. Just what is the Trump administration’s policy towards Tehran?

Indeed the re-election of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani may complicate matters further. He was perceived as the more moderate candidate after all, even if the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guard still retain a key grip on foreign policy.

President Rouhani is already encouraging some European politicians to talk of the search for an opening to Tehran. That may not go down well in Washington. But then there is the very complexity of the region that Trump’s rhetoric often overlooks.

Interestingly, the Iraqi government is now one of Washington’s main allies against so-called Islamic State. But Iran too is a strong supporter of Baghdad and has deployed militia forces and advisers on the ground to aid the war effort.

 

Dealmaker’s hopes

 

President George W Bush sponsored a peace conference in Annapolis in 2007, which for a while was hailed, in vain, as a major step towards the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel. President Bill Clinton presided over the moment in 1993 at the White House when Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin exchanged a historic handshake and signed the Oslo peace agreement. At the end of his presidency in 2000, a make or break summit failed and was followed by years of violence and unrest. In recent times every American president also brings with him new hopes and fears for Israelis and Palestinians.  In 2009 President Barack Obama trying to re-set relations with Arabs and Muslims. In the process he alienated Israelis and its leaders never forgave him. His first act as president was to appoint a Middle East envoy whose peace mission, in the end, failed.

Nobel foundations have played mischief by offering Obama the coveted Nobel Peace prize even before he could do nay thing meaningful in his presidency in the proper way. Nobel committee denied any chance for Middle East peace by almost imposing on him Peace Award that made him ineffective in solving the Mideast puzzle by establishing Palestine. Perhaps had he not got the Nobel Peace Award, Palestine would have become a sure reality as he supported the Palestine cause towards the end of tenure at White House. .

Now President Trump, who sees himself as the world’s best dealmaker, says he would like to pull off the world’s toughest deal. How quickly Trump would be able to get Israeli leadership on board to settle the world’s deadliest conflict in the name of Israel war on Palestine would determine the success of his efforts to end the blood bath in Palestine where Palestinians have been facing cruelty form Zionist military.  .

The US leader began his foreign trip with a two-day stop in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, urging Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalization. In his final speech, at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, President Trump also identified himself, his government and the USA four-square with Israel. He repeated, to lots of applause, that he would never let Iran have nuclear weapons. Israel has a substantial -illegally obtained from USA – and officially undeclared nuclear arsenal.

 

Trump became the first serving American president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest place where Jews can pray. That is being taken by Jews as his support for Israel. Trump became the first serving American president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest place where Jews can pray. That is being taken as support for Israel. The wall is in East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after it was captured 50 years ago and which most of the world outside Israel regards as occupied land. Some will interpret the fact that the president declined the Israeli prime minister’s request to accompany him as a sign of support for the status quo view that it is occupied territory.

President Trump, in his speech, did not pick up the cue. After making many warm remarks about Israel, which earned him standing ovations, he said he believed that the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, was serious about making peace.

One pointer to a potential difference with Israel’s hawkish PM Netanyahu came at the museum. In his opening remarks, Netanyahu said that if the bomber in Manchester was Palestinian, and his victims were Israelis, the Palestinian Authority would be paying a stipend to his family. He was referring to a Palestinian Martyrs’ fund. It pays pensions to people it regards as victims of the occupation, including the families of individuals who have been killed attacking Israelis. There is also a fund to support Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel. The Palestinians have compared the payments to the salaries Israel pays to soldiers.

Senior Israeli politicians and officials in the room disagree. Netanyahu said earlier this year that President Abbas lied to Donald Trump when they met in the White House. That is an important disagreement. If President Trump’s hopes ever become negotiations about substance he will find that there are many others. The two sides are far apart on the main issues, like the future of east Jerusalem, the borders of a Palestinian state and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

President Trump brought with him to Jerusalem most of his top advisers, dozens of vehicles and his own helicopters. The White House booked the entire King David Hotel for the president and his entourage. The Israeli and Palestinian authorities cleared the main roads of Jerusalem and Bethlehem for the movements of his armed and mighty motorcade.

NATO

 

President Donald Trump has arrived in Brussels ahead of a NATO summit where he will push the security alliance’s 28 members to meet their spending obligations and do more to combat terrorism.  The fight against terrorism will be top of the agenda at the May 25 meeting in the Belgian capital, a stop on Trump’s first trip abroad since he took office in January.

It is believed that the bombing in Britain that killed 22 people has been engineered to further strengthen the NATO and its brand state terrorism encompassing Islamic world. The whole idea for all this is to brand Islam a terrorist religion and to force  Islamic regimes to kill Muslims as terrorists in order to reduce Islamic populations and loot their resources, valuable assets. . . . .

This is Trump’s first visit to Europe since taking office in January. Security has been stepped up across Rome, with the areas around the Vatican City, the Italian presidential palace and the American ambassador’s residence, where Trump is staying, temporarily closed to traffic.

Trump called NATO “obsolete” during the US presidential campaign last year, saying it was not doing enough to fight terrorism. He has also chided some members for not following NATO guidelines on spending. This visit will be about damage limitation with the fervent hope of establishing some kind of transatlantic chemistry.  The tone in Brussels has gone from off-the-record sneering when the erratic and unpredictable Trump first won the November elections, to outright concern now that the implications of his presidency have begun to sink in.

 

Despite the heavy police presence, about 100 anti-Trump protesters held a rally in one of Rome’s squares on Tuesday evening. Significant protests are also expected in Brussels where he will meet EU and NATO officials.

Trump is now in Brussels for talks with NATO and EU officials. He will also hold meetings with Belgium’s King Philippe and Prime Minister Charles Michel. Later on Wednesday, Trump flew to Brussels, where significant protests are expected. For the EU and for NATO, this visit is about damage limitation with the fervent hope of establishing some kind of transatlantic chemistry, the BBC’s Europe editor Katya Adler says. She adds that the tone in Brussels has gone from off-the-record sneering when the erratic and unpredictable Trump first won the November elections, to outright concern now that the implications of his presidency have begun to sink in.

After his visit to Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, and to Israel, this is the final leg of the tour of three of the world’s major religions. President Trump’s commitment to fighting extremism and intolerance will win approval from the Pope, as will his determination to bring peace to the Middle East. And the president thinks there’s another reason why they will get on. Back in 2013 he tweeted: “The new Pope is a humble man, very much like me.”

Trump was joined not only by his wife, daughter and son-in-law but also Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser HR McMaster. Both Melania and Ivanka Trump were dressed in black with their heads partially covered, in keeping with a traditional Vatican protocol that is no longer expected to be rigorously observed. Melania, a Catholic, asked the Pope to bless her rosary beads.

Following his visit to the Vatican, Trump was moving on for talks with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in what is his first visit to Europe since taking office in January. Security has been stepped up across Rome, with the areas around the Vatican City, the Italian presidential palace and the American ambassador’s residence, where Trump is staying, temporarily closed to traffic. Despite the heavy police presence, about 100 anti-Trump protesters held a rally in one of Rome’s squares.

After the meeting between President Trump and the Pope, the Vatican said there had been an “exchange of views” on international issues, while Trump said they had had a “fantastic meeting”. Trump also tweeted: “Honor of a lifetime to meet His Holiness Pope Francis. I leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.” He arrived in Europe from Israel and the Palestinian territories, where he vowed to try to achieve peace in the region.

 

Observation

 

Today the world is at a cross roads. Palestinians and Kashmiris like other oppressed nations, brutally occupied colonist and imperialist regimes, continue to be strangled to death by democracy militaries aided by high precision terror equipment. President Trump has given a new hope for the survival of occupied masses with some dignity. . Whether or not he could be trusted remains a trillion dollar question.

. .

Enemies of Islam have succeeded creating a solid wedge between Saudi Arabia and Iran and through that a vertical split in Islamic world. That trend may not end any soon because Saudi led Sunni Arab states view Iran as their worst foe- even worse than Israel and all anti-Islamic rogue states operating in coalition to destroy Islam. Interestingly, a few Muslim regimes also led support to the destructive format of anti-Islamic forces globally.

Absolute foolishness and fatal ignorance are not a part of Islamic faith. Nor reluctance to mold the mindset of Arab leaders could be an excuse to let the enemies of Islam invade energy rich Arab world.

Donald Trump deserves global appreciation as he has said he is “more determined than ever” to pursue peace in the world after meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican.

The main problem is Israel does not want to resolve the conflict.   Trump is right on one point. This is a conflict that badly needs settling. If that is not possible, there needs to be political progress. History shows that bloodshed tends to fill the void left by the absence of hope.

Well, for all the rhetoric the practical reality of Trump’s foreign policy is more guarded. So beyond a raft of trade deals in Saudi Arabia what have we really learnt so far. All the indications are, for example, that the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem has been put on hold.

US Presidents have never talked about Zionist nukes and their danger posed to the humanity. Trump also never questioned the validity of Isabel possessing nukes illegally. For all of the president’s repeated condemnation of the Iran nuclear deal, is he really capable of walking away from it?

A Trump foreign policy is still very much a work in progress. Much of Trump’s world view is now coming into a jarring contact with reality.  This current trip is in large part ceremonial, it is very early in his presidency to be putting a toe into Middle Eastern waters.

In all the speeches President Trump made during the trip there was no detail about how he might succeed when so many others have failed. So signs and symbols and implicit messages are being pored over for meaning.

This is President Donald Trump’s first foray to the Middle East and of course it will not be his last. He has already got one thing clear. Adversity really does make strange bedfellows.

Trump will end his tour on the Italian island of Sicily at the G7 summit on Friday.

Trump to go all out for Middle East peace!

Trump to go all out for Middle East peace!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
____________

 

US President Donald Trump who is touring Middle east region and has arrived in Palestine after visiting Saudi Arabia and Israel, has said he will “do everything” to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace. This is the last day of the US president’s shuttle diplomatic effort visit to the Middle East.

Israel and the Palestinians have not held peace talks for three years and Trump acknowledges it would be “one of the toughest deals of all” to broker. At talks with Mahmoud Abbas, he spoke of being gratified that the Palestinian leader had committed to taking necessary steps to peace.

Abbas welcomed Trump’s “noble and possible mission”. “I would like to reiterate our commitment to co-operate with you in order to make peace and forge an historic peace deal with the Israelis,” he said.

Feeling satisfied with his maiden trip to Mideast, Trump said: “I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians…And I intend to do everything I can to help them achieve that goal. He added the president of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas had assured him he was “ready to work towards that goal in good faith”, and that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu had promised the same.

President Obama, the recipient of Nobel Peace Award on his assuming power at the White House did nothing valuable to bring the Israeli leadership to agree for a final settlement so that Palestinians could establish their own state, Palestine, with dignity and full sovereignty.

Trump said he had come to Bethlehem, where the meeting with Mr Abbas was held on Tuesday morning, “in a spirit of hope”. In both Gaza and the occupied West Bank, some Palestinians have held protests against the trip and in support of a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Hundreds of stone-throwing youths clashed with Israeli soldiers firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

In fact, Palestinians do not trust US leaders much because they always support Israeli regime and military and order the supply of terror goods to Israel for killing the Palestinians. At least one Palestinian was injured at the Qalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem. In the Gaza Strip, other Palestinians trampled photos of the US leader. Hundreds of jailed Palestinians have been on hunger strike since 17 April. Activists were hoping to hold up protest banners in Bethlehem on Tuesday to make Trump aware of the action.

Speaking in Jerusalem on Monday, Trump played political music for the criminal minded Jews who want to kill all Palestinians and take away their lands as well by saying that Iran would never have nuclear weapons and accused it of supporting “terrorists”. “Iran will never have nuclear weapons, that I can tell you,” Trump told fanatic Netanyahu. . In return, Netanyahu extolled the US president’s leadership.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani played down Trump’s strong criticism of Iran at a summit in Saudi Arabia at the weekend, saying: “Who can say regional stability can be restored without Iran?”

Speaking to Netanyahu on Monday, Trump sought to dispel suggestions that he had passed on sensitive Israeli intelligence to Russian diplomats at a recent meeting, saying he had not mentioned the word “Israel” at the meeting.
However, many Palestinians on both sides look forward to Trump’s promote action to make Israel listen to reason and promptly deliver justice to them.

.
On Monday, Trump said he had come to “reaffirm the unbreakable bond” between the US and Israel and that there was a “rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace” to the region.

President Trump flew to Tel Aviv direct from Saudi Arabia, where at a summit on Sunday he urged Arab and Muslim leaders to work together to “drive out” terrorist extremists.

Trump also said that he was “gratified” that PLO leader Abbas had attended the summit in Riyadh and “committed to taking firm but necessary steps to fight terrorism and confront its hateful ideology”. “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded,” he added, apparently referring to payments made by the PA to the families of Palestinian prisoners and those killed in the conflict with Israel.

Israel had been pestering Trump to visit Israeli Holocaust memorial and so later on Tuesday Trump returned to Jerusalem, visiting the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. And in a speech later at the Israel Museum, he reaffirmed that his administration would always stand with Israel.

Trump said his trip was “focused on bringing nations together”, adding that the Palestinians were “ready to reach for peace”.

President Trump sees himself as a great dealmaker, with the personality to cut through the difficulties that have defeated lesser people. The only credible ideas still require the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel. The reality is that the Israelis and Palestinians are way apart on the main issues – the future of east Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the borders of an independent Palestine. The two sets of leaders also do not trust each other. Israeli fanaticism and mischief have always derailed the peace talks so far.

The arrival of Donald Trump in the White House was greeted by the Israeli right with enthusiasm. They believe that it heralds a new era of settlement expansion in the occupied territories. The Israeli government appeared to think so too, welcoming Trump’s victory with the announcement of permits for new housing units in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank, thereby further complicating any peace deal with Palestine. .

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has been occupied by Israel for 50 years. Some of the most influential members of the Israeli government believe the land is a Jewish possession, given by God as a free gift for their crimes in past and future. . .

The Palestinians are deeply divided, with Fatah in charge in the West Bank and in Gaza the Islamists of Hamas, who have been condemned by President Trump in the last few days as terrorists.

It is highly unlikely that even President Trump’s outsized personality will be enough, on its own, to end a conflict that has lasted more than a century. Making this deal is not about fixing a price – it is about reconciling enemies with radically different world views.

Palestine has achieved nationhood from UN but without voting power and it is going to get that too shortly. Towards the end of his presidency Obama supported the cause of Palestinians indirectly.

Trump is expected to pursue the cause further so that Palestine comes into existence sooner than later. .

Trump has now flown to Rome ahead of a meeting with Pope Francis. On Wednesday he will continue to Brussels to see NATO leaders. On Friday, he will return to Italy to meet other world leaders at a G7 summit in the Sicilian town of Taormina, where climate change is expected to be discussed.

Now the ball is in Trump’s court. One can only watch with fingers crossed as to what exactly Trump would do to achieve peace in Mideast.

Can Trump make Israel become a normal state to able to successfully negotiate peace deals?

Meanwhile, it is indeed gratifying that President Trump has sworn to achieve peace in Mideast by helping with the establishment of Palestine which is being delayed by Israel and USA for too long, meanwhile the Zionist military keeps killing the Palestinians, including children.

President Putin calls for Eurasia integration!

President Putin calls for Eurasia integration!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
_____

 

The loss of a mighty Soviet empire stills haunts Russians, their leaders. Russian President Putin has not made any secret of his anguish and anger over the unexpected disintegration of Soviet Union that made Russia a less important super power. Initially Putin made efforts to rebuild the Soviet state but could not succeed as many former Soviet republics now independent nations refused to join the Russia dominated single nation. The way he crushed the Chechens on his ascendance to presidency forced many of those pro-Russia states within the Soviet space rethink their desire to promote a mighty Russia.

Putin has been making conscious efforts to rebuild the former Soviet states in some format by launching economic, political and military formations but they have not become as successful as the Warsaw Pact or COMCON had been during the Cold War.

The concept of Eurasia – bringing Europe and Asia together- got a phillip under Putin who is eager to see the region emerge more important and larger continent than EU in all respects, especially in economics and defense.  However, USA is not  impressed by the Russian move to counter  its NATO in the longer context.

Inspired by the Chinese initiative of OBOR and its vast potentials for the region covering three continents, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Beijing on May 14 that he salutes China’s “large-scale” Belt and Road Initiative and called for greater Eurasian partnership. Putin made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Initiative Forum for International Cooperation taking place in Beijing on May 14-15.
The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China in 2013 consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. It aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.

During a visit to Moscow in May 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping signed an agreement with Putin on aligning the Belt and Road Initiative with the EEU, which currently groups Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.

Calling the Belt and Road Initiative an example of cooperation in such fields as infrastructure, transport and industry, the Russian president said his country has supported the initiative from the very beginning. He said the historical experience of cooperation between countries linked by the ancient Silk Road through Asia, Europe and Africa is important in the 21st century when the world is facing “very serious challenges.”

Putin called for more cooperation to meet worldwide challenges like unbalanced development in globalization, poverty and regional conflicts, saying that Russia is working with its partners to advance the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), among others.

The integration of the Belt and Road Initiative, the EEU, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has laid the groundwork for building a great Eurasian partnership, he said.

Meanwhile, Putin urged concrete actions to materialize the existing initiatives by facilitating flow of goods, cooperation between enterprises of different countries in Eurasia, infrastructure construction and establishment of joint and large-scale research institutions. He said the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China is “very timely and promising.”

China goes farther than Russia’s Eurasia n approach with its OBOR concept to include the African continent as well. Both ideas are, however, despised by Washington that considers Russia-China alliance the most dangerous to its own global military supremacy scheme.

Already, China is very close to USA in economic and military dolmans.

Tasks before reelected Iran President Hassan Rouhani!

 

Tasks before reelected Iran President Hassan Rouhani!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff

________

 

 

As expected, the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has been re-elected in a landslide victory, endorsing his efforts to re-engage with the west and offer greater freedoms at home.

Amid a large 73 percent turnout of eligible voters, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani won a first-round victory in the May 19 presidential election, garnering a decisive 57 percent of the vote, far exceeding his 50.7 percent majority in the 2013 election. Rouhani’s main rival, Ibrahim Raisi, garnered 38 percent of the vote despite having the clear backing of Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the security establishment led by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Since July 2016, Raisi has been considered a front-runner to potentially succeed Khamenei as Supreme Leader. The 2017 election outcome could represent a key turning point in Iranian politics and Iran’s relationship to the international community.

Iranians have said a resounding Yes to President Rouhani who, in recent years and particularly during the last several weeks of campaigning, promised to expand individual and political freedoms and make all those centres of power, like the Revolutionary Guard, accountable. He also promised a moderate vision and an outward-looking Iran and, at rallies, openly attacked the conservative-dominated judiciary and security services. Another challenge will come from abroad, and the relations with the new US government. President Donald Trump opposes the nuclear deal which eased sanctions on the Middle Eastern country, but his White House renewed it earlier this week.

Iran today faces two most important problems: one its forward looking foreign policy and economic stagnancy- both are intertwined. .

The core reason for Rouhani’s significant victory is that he had delivered on a key promise—achieving the lifting of sanctions in conjunction with a landmark agreement with the United States and other major powers to implement restraints on Iran’s nuclear program. Iranians have faith in his leadership.

On foreign policy, Rouhani attracted voters with a promise to not only adhere to the seminal nuclear deal but to go beyond the agreement to reach broader understandings with the United States. Such understandings could yield the lifting of the remaining U.S. sanctions that make international firms hesitant to re-engage in Iran, but which would also entail compromises that the Supreme leader and IRGC are likely to thwart. A lifting of US terrorism-related sanctions would require Iran to sharply curtail its support for Lebanese Hezbollah and President Bashar al-Assad of Syria—requirements that the hardline Iranian establishment would not permit under almost any circumstances. Similarly, the lifting of US proliferation sanctions would require Iran to cease developing ballistic missiles—a reversal that Iran’s hardliners would almost certainly block. US approach to the Syrian crisis would determine US policy o for Iran.

Washington wants the Iranian president to reign in the Spiritual leader and take full control of important institutions like IRGC and judiciary, thereby crate tension with the Spiritual leader.  Rouhani’s inability to change Iran’s key national security policies will likely ensure that the Trump administration continues to strengthen alliances with Iran’s regional adversaries. President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia this past weekend came with the signing of a major package of new U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, including a Saudi purchase of the Theater High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) ballistic missile system designed to intercept Iranian missiles. Trump’s visit also included discussions of institutionalizing US-Arab alliances intended, in large part, to counter Iran’s regional influence.

Even though most Iranians have not yet experienced tangible economic benefits from sanctions relief, Iranian voters clearly turned away from Raisi’s candidacy in part for his potential to increase tensions with the international community and possibly trigger a re-imposition of those sanctions.

The election was seen by many as a verdict on Rouhani’s policy of opening up Iran to the world and his efforts to rebuild its stagnant economy. Rouhani swept into office four years ago on a promise to reduce Iran’s international isolation.
Friday poll was the first since he negotiated a historic deal with world powers in 2015 to curb the country’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. In the campaign trail, Rouhani sought to frame the vote as a choice between greater civil liberties and “extremism”, criticising the continued arrest of reformist leaders and activists. Raisi, for his part, accused Rouhani of mismanaging the economy and positioned himself as a defender of the poor and calling for a much tougher line with the West.

The economy that received setback due to sanctions form the western powers and allies remains the number one challenge for Rouhani, 68, who signed a nuclear deal between Iran, the USA and other countries in 2015. International sanctions were lifted as a result, but average Iranians say they do not feel the economic benefits in their daily lives. While oil exports have rebounded and inflation is back at single-digits, unemployment remains high, especially among the young people.

A vibrant economy alone could bring Iran closer to the western world. Rouhani, a moderate who agreed a deal with world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear program, pledged to “remain true” to his promises. The decisive victory gives him a strong mandate to seek reforms and revive Iran’s ailing economy, analysts say. In his first remarks after winning the poll, Rouhani said: “Great people of Iran, you’re the winners of the election.” Rouhani’s victory is welcomed by Iranian reformists as well as the country’s opposition green movement.

President Rouhani has brought GDP growth back into the black, inflation into single-digits and trade deficit into a surplus. But expectations are high and Rouhani himself is to blame, having promised miracles once the sanctions were lifted. Rouhani will now have a bigger mandate to push through his reforms, to put an end to extremism, to build bridges with the outside world, to put the economy back on track.

Rouhani managed to strike an historic deal in 2015 with world powers over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, resolving a long-standing crisis with the West. International sanctions were lifted as a result, but average Iranians say they do not feel the economic benefits in their daily lives.

That growth came mostly from increased oil exports following the lifting of sanctions. Iran’s highest record in the past four decades has been creating 600,000 jobs a year. Iran’s current unemployment rate stands at 12.7%, up 1.7% over the past year. That puts the number of those with absolutely no employment at 3.3 million.
But when it comes to young people, one in every three of those aged 15-24 is jobless. In that age group, every other woman is unemployed. For those without a job, Qalibaf is also offering a 2.5m rial ($66) monthly unemployment benefit, a first in the 38 years since the Islamic Revolution. The price tag for this election promise alone is a staggering $2.6bn. Iran’s housing sector shrank 13% in the year to March 2017, while the country’s overall economy grew by almost 6.6%, estimates International Monetary Fund.

Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his two terms (2005-2013) started cash hand-outs when removing subsidies, offered low-interest loans for small businesses and launched massive projects of affordable housing for the poor. But when Ahmadinejad left office the economy was shrinking by 7% a year and inflation reached 40%. He blamed international sanctions. Economists blamed Ahmadinejad’s populist policies and his mismanagement of the economy.

Rouhani has brought inflation down from around 40 percent when he took over in 2013, but prices are still rising by over seven percent a year. Oil sales have rebounded since the nuclear deal took effect in January 2016, but growth in the rest of the economy has been limited, leaving unemployment at 12.5 percent overall – close to 30 percent for the young – and many more are under-employed or struggling to get by. “Rouhani now gets his second term, and will be able to continue the work that he started in his first four-year term trying to reform Iran,” Hull said. “And moving on, crucially, from the nuclear deal to try and bring much more economic progress to satisfy the people who have found themselves extremely disappointed with the very slow pace of change since that agreement was signed.”
In Iran’s unique and uneasy hybrid of democracy and theocracy, the president has significant power to shape government, although he is ultimately constrained by the supreme leader. Khamenei, a hardliner thought to have favored Raisi in the election and as a possible successor for his own job, generally steers clear of daily politics but controls powerful bodies from the judiciary to the Revolutionary Guards.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has veto power over all policies and ultimate control of the security forces, While Rouhani has been unable to secure the release of reformist leaders from house arrest. While the nuclear deal was at the forefront of the election, the campaign was dominated by the issues of poverty and unemployment.

Rouhani is also expected to face the same restrictions that prevented him from delivering substantial social change in his first term. Rouhani, during an “increasingly acrimonious election campaign, alienated a lot of Iran’s significant state institutions who may be in no mood to cooperate with him going forward”.
The Rouhani re-election offers the potential for the Trump government to incorporate some direct diplomacy with Iran into its overall strategy. While criticizing Iran’s policies extensively, in April the Trump administration certified Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal, and it continued to waive U.S. sanctions under the agreement in May. During Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, which began as Rouhani was declared the winner in Iran, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated that, at some point, he expected to talk directly with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. Such direct bilateral engagement could overcome decades of mutual hostility and put the relationship on a more peaceful and productive trajectory, offer a new opportunity for engagement between the two long-time adversaries, offering a new opportunity for engagement between the two long-time adversaries.

 

Peace talks restart in Geneva over Syria: Will they do any good?

Peace talks restart in Geneva over Syria: Will they do any good?
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
_____

 

Six years ago, USA successfully instigated a civil war in Syria by using its opposition in order to remove President Assad from power and now with Russia supporting the Assad regime, escalation has reached the zenith. They now seek de-escalation of crisis in Syria without any sincere intention even as there is no possibility for Assad to step down or removed in any way.
In fact, USA did not want to remove or kill Assad as it had done with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. It only wanted to destabilize entire Arab world one by one. While President Saddam Hussein was a threat to US imperialism and its efforts to control Arab oil, Libyan leader President M. Qaddafi challenged US power, Syrian leader Assad was never such a threat to US power and control mechanism. That is the prime reason why Pentagon-CIA duo has left Assad alive. After all, he is only helping with the execution of US agenda of destabilization of Mideast.
That is the reason why all the peace efforts by UN have failed.

The United Nations has now convened a new round of indirect Syrian peace talks in Geneva, despite President Bashar al-Assad dismissing them as irrelevant. De Mistura met the government’s chief representative, Bashar al-Jaafari, at UN headquarters on Tuesday morning as the sixth round of talks got under way.
The UN envoy said he would see Nasr al-Hariri and Mohammad Sabra of the main umbrella group representing political and armed opposition factions, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC). De Mistura told reporters the intention was to be “more businesslike, both in our meetings and in the way we hope we can get some progress”. The rooms would be small, the meetings would be more interactive and frequent, and discussions would be focused on particular subjects in an effort to achieve “more movement”, he said.

De Mistura told played down last week’s dismissive comments by Syria’s president, who said the Geneva talks were “merely a meeting for the media” and praised the parallel process taking place in Kazakhstan’s capital that has been organised by the government’s allies Russia and Iran, along with key opposition backer Turkey.
As the civilian death toll has mounted over the past six years, President Bashar Assad has rejected all allegations of atrocities as “devoid of logic” because “the Syrian Army is made up of Syrian people.” When confronted with overwhelming evidence of systematic violations of the laws of war, he has stuck to this line, insisting: “We don’t kill civilians, because we don’t have the moral incentive, we don’t have the interest to kill civilians.” Why don’t the Pentagon forces bomb the Assad palace and end the bloodshed? Apparently, without permission of Moscow, Washington simply cannot even think of doing that. Also, the great internationalization of Syria’s conflict and the fact that its rebels seek to topple the government work in Assad’s favor.
Syria is a strong state with well-organized military fighting territory-holding rebels who have significant popular support. The scale of civilian death and the pattern of violations constitute human horrors of rights: custodial torture and extrajudicial killings of suspected regime opponents, attacks on civilian targets including hospitals and aid conveys, and the use of prohibited weapons. And in both cases international audiences raised the alarm about mass atrocities.

Assad has said “nothing substantial” will come out of the talks. But UN envoy Staffan de Mistura insists that the government’s 18-strong delegation is in Switzerland “to work”. Five previous rounds of negotiations have made little progress towards a political solution to the six-year civil war, which has left more than 300,000 people dead.

The Astana process resulted in the three powers signing a memorandum on 4 May establishing four “de-escalation” zones in the north-western province of Idlib, north of the central city of Homs, the Eastern Ghouta area outside Damascus, and in the southern provinces of Deraa and Quneitra. “We are working in tandem, in a way,” de Mistura said. “Everybody’s been telling us and we agree that any type of reduction of violence, in this case de-escalation, cannot be sustained unless there is a political horizon in one direction or the other. That is exactly what we are pushing for,” he added.

The government and opposition have agreed to discuss four “baskets” – a political transition, new constitution, elections and combating terrorism.

Meanwhile, officials from the Syrian government denied accusations that a prison crematorium was being used to hide mass killings of political prisoners. The Syrian foreign ministry said the accusations – made by the US state department – were “a new Hollywood story” and “totally baseless”. An anonymous source quoted in the statement accused the US government of making the allegations up to justify US aggression in Syria.

Residents of a Damascus suburb are working to bring a sense of normality back to their lives after six years of war. When the rebel groups seized Eastern Ghouta in 2012, the Assad government responded by cutting basic services like power and water and also laying a military siege to the area, making life of people miserable. .UN has not made any speedy arrangements to mitigate the sufferings of such stranded populations.
Over time, residents have worked to provide the kind of basic functions that many urban communities take for granted. But their efforts are often hampered by the brutal and prolonged conflict that touches every aspect of life. “Our reality is being intentionally isolated from the rest of the world,” Abou Ramez, one of the pioneers of civil projects there told the BBC.

An elected “municipal council” for all opposition-held areas in the Damascus countryside was also formed, as well as an umbrella organisation representing over a hundred medical, relief, educational and other civil institutions..

 

Local councils were initially formed to provide relief work and basic municipal services, such as water and waste management. “We used cow manure to generate energy for generators to irrigate land,” Ramez says. Power is also generated from waste products, and heating oil extracted by melting plastic. Over time the councils’ role expanded to providing education and counseling centres. Projects are funded by external donors. Ramez, says that councils try to remain neutral towards militant groups, but they also recognize the opposition “interim government”, formed in 2013 and based in Turkey.

Today, Syria tops the list of deadliest countries for journalists, in large part due to regime attacks on the domestic press. Humanitarian aid delivery has been restricted since the conflict began. In Syria, these measures cut off nearly all sources of independent information.
In 2016, Assad disputed the existence of the Aleppo siege, arguing that if it were true, “people would have been dead by now.” (One estimate suggests that more than 30,000 people died in Aleppo between 2012 and 2016.) The regime has disputed the authenticity of photo and video evidence of chemical weapons attacks, barrel bombs, torture, and extrajudicial killings. Assad’s farcical suggestion last month that the dead children in the videos from Idlib were mere acting children. Syria disputed the attribution of all war crimes it can’t deny, and portrayed its opponent as the only blameworthy actor. Early in the conflict, Assad told international media that “Most of the people that have been killed are supporters of the government.” In 2013, he rejected responsibility for the sarin gas attack in Ghouta, insisting “We’re not there.” Finally, the Syrian government has accused the rebels of using civilians as human shields, and excused its targeting of hospitals and schools on the grounds that “terrorists” are using them as bases and weapons storage.
Obfuscation and denial can be enough to exploit this inertia and prevent intervention, especially when big powers like USA and Russia shield them. Syrian reality shows that even an international pariah can get away with mass murder.
The Syrian government does not recognize the councils and characterizes organised activity within rebel areas as the work of armed militia or “terrorist” groups. “It is exactly this kind of civil body that constitutes the biggest threat for the regime,” says Majd al-Dik, whose team works on opening support centres for children. It has also worked to put Eastern Ghouta’s large agricultural areas to use, by supporting local farmers to provide food for residents.

 

However, Syrian forces seized the farmland just one week before the harvest in 2016. “Turning people from service providers into dependents – this is the goal behind targeting civilians,” al-Dik told the BBC. Over 42 councils have been formed in the area since 2013, and members have been elected through democratic means since 2015.
Recurring internal fighting between rebel groups has also added to the obstacles facing civil work in Eastern Ghouta. When infighting first broke out in 2016, residents, activists and notable civil society figures staged demonstrations and sit-ins against the violence. Civil society figures also mediated between the disputing sides.
And in late April 2017 – exactly a year later – clashes broke out once again and several civilians were injured as they protested. Al-Dik says that movement around the area is severely restricted due to rebel snipers and checkpoints.
Meanwhile, the Syrian army and its allies have been advancing in the nearby strategic suburb of Qaboun, further tightening the siege and increasing the possibility of bombardment on the area.
Around two million people lived in Eastern Ghouta before the war began in 2011. Today there are just around 400,000. As well as the threat of violence, residents also face the fear of forced evacuation as the conflict turns in the government’s favour.
In recent months, thousands of people in rebel-held towns have left their homes as part of deals between the government and armed groups. “To evacuate the area is to destroy the civil body that has been established,” Majd al-Dik says. “It’s a catastrophe”.
The Syrian government maintains that evacuations are not being forced on civilians. Looking ahead to post-war Syria, Majd al-Dik says: “People ask about alternatives. But no-one talks about the local councils or civil institutions. Who is providing services in such areas now in the worst possible conditions?” Ramez says that many in Eastern Ghouta will never leave their homes. “Over 200,000 of our residents are capable of carrying weapons. Their united choice is to die and be martyred on this land rather than move to other areas only to be annihilated later on.”
Peace talks between Israel and Palestine have never been successful because Israel doesn’t want to give up the occupation posts and return the lands stolen from Palestinians. As talks have become bogus tools to gain legitimacy for illegal occupation and genocides.
In Syria, none is sincere about peace or stability, including the President Assad who just wants to be the permanent president without facing any elections. Maybe he thinks he has no death..
UN must step in to end hostilities in Syria and genocides and bring back normalcy. Peace task are necessary but without sincerity nothing is going to work. Both USA and Russia are fighting their old cold war in Syria.

The Assad regime’s close relationship with Russia means that it is well-protected. For six years, victims’ advocates, international human rights activists, and horrified onlookers have been asking themselves how high the death toll in Syria has to get before someone will step in. But international action on mass atrocities is the exception rather than the rule.

Like Bush and Obama, Assad also should be tried for crimes against humanity.

Donald Trump in Saudi Arabia signs massive arms deal with Arab ally!

Donald Trump in Saudi Arabia signs massive arms deal with Arab ally!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
_______

Apparently US-Saudi relations have been revised by the trip of US President Donald Trump in his maiden presidential trip to the land of Arabs as his first preferred choice to make his first foreign visit.

President Trump in Saudi Arabia on Saturday signed a nearly $110 billion arms deal to help the Persian Gulf ally with its military-defense system. “That was a tremendous day,” Trump, a highly successful US businessman said after signing the deal with Saudi leader King Salman. “Tremendous investments in the United States. Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs,” declared a beaming US President who seemed determined to be very diplomatic.

The White House says the package includes defense equipment and other support to help the Arab nation and the rest of the Gulf region fight again terrorism and the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, according to the White House.
US president hopes to rekindle a strategic relationship grown frosty under Obama as US officials pledging deals of around $350bn as the two allies rekindle a relationship that had grown frosty under the Obama government.
The multi-billion dollar defense deal “in the clearest terms possible” shows the United States’ commitment to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf partners and expands economic opportunities, the White House said. The deal will also supporting tens-of-thousands of new jobs in the US defense industrial base, the White House also said. The package includes tanks, combat ships, missile defense systems, radar and communications and cyber security technology.

The agreements included a $110bn arms package that the White House said would help Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states face Iranian threats and contribute to counter terrorism operations, “reducing the burden on the US military,” a White House official said. The value of the deals signal a revived partnership that promises Saudi investment into US infrastructure in return for US arms deals for the kingdom. Saudi Arabia is also looking for US support as Riyadh tries to transform its oil-reliant economy after the sustained drop in crude prices triggered a budgetary crisis and rapid deceleration. The kingdom hopes to cement this renewed commercial partnership with a common vision to check Iranian ambitions in the Arab world.

Trump on Saturday began a number of political and economic meetings with the Saudi leadership. Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia early Saturday as the start to his nine-day, overseas tour that will also take him to Israel and Europe. The international trip is Trump’s first since taking office in January. “Great to be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,” Trump (or his aide) tweeted upon landing in Air Force One. “Looking forward to the afternoon and evening ahead.”

Trump greeted at the Saudi airport with an elaborate ceremony, punctuated by a military flyover and a handshake from the 81-year-old Saudi King Salman. The two leaders exchanged pleasantries and Trump said it was “a great honor” to be there. Several jets then flew overhead leaving a red, white and blue trail. The king, walking with the aid of a stick, accompanied  Trump up a red carpet at the royal terminal of Riyadh’s airport, with the president’s wife Melania following at the back of the small welcoming committee. First lady Melania Trump wore a black pantsuit with a golden belt and did not cover her head for the arrival, consistent with custom for foreign dignitaries visiting Saudi Arabia. In 2015, her husband had, in a tweet, criticized former first lady Michelle Obama for not wearing a headscarf during a visit to the kingdom. After two days of meetings in Riyadh, Trump will travel to Israel, have an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican, then meet with allies at a NATO summit in Brussels and the Group of 7 wealthy nations in Sicily.

As the US president landed, dozens of chief executives from Saudi Arabia and the US were convening at a forum where they discussed Saudi financial flows into America, and how the US could help diversify the kingdom’s oil-reliant economy.

Saudi Aramco, the state oil company, signed more than $50bn worth of deals on Saturday, around $22bn of which were new memorandums of understanding, including: ● Investing $7bn with Rowan over 10 years to own and operate drilling rigs, creating 2,800 jobs in Saudi Arabia. ● Extending a joint venture with Nabors for oil well services, seeing $9bn of investment over 10 years, creating up to 5,000 jobs in the kingdom. ● A new joint venture with National Oilwell Varco in Saudi Arabia to manufacture driving rigs and equipment, seeing $6bn of investment over 10 years. Aramco also said it would boost operations at its US refinery unit Motiva, with a planned $12bn investment with a likely additional $18bn by 2023. The deal aims to create 12,000 jobs by 2023. Six firms — including Honeywell, McDermott and Weatherford — signed MOUs to expand Aramco’s use of locally produced goods and services, bringing $19bn of investment to the kingdom. Aramco also signed a deal with GE to deliver $4bn worth of savings via digitization of the oil firm’s operations. This was part of a GE package of valued at $15bn.

When deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Washington earlier this year, the White House estimated that Saudi investment pledges could rise to around $200bn. In the defence sector, Lockheed Martin signed a $6bn deal to assemble 150 Blackhawk helicopters in the kingdom, supporting 450 jobs. Raytheon and General Dynamics also signed agreements to support the localization of defence contracts. The deals support Prince Mohammed’s plans for the world’s third-largest spender on arms to create a domestic industry led by the newly formed company Saudi Arabia Military Industries. The kingdom wants to source half of defence spending locally by 2030 from 2 per cent now. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign Public Investment Fund pledged $20bn for a $40bn Blackstone US infrastructure fund, with $20bn to be raised from other parties. Blackstone said it expects, with debt financing, to invest $100bn in infrastructure projects, mainly in the USA.
Saudi Arabia offered Trump the elaborate welcome ahead of his two-day stay. Billboards featuring images of Trump and the king dotted the highways of Riyadh, emblazoned with the motto “Together we prevail.” Trump’s luxury hotel was bathed in red, white and blue lights and, at times, an image of the president’s face.

Trump and the king met briefly in the airport terminal for a coffee ceremony before the president headed to his hotel before the day’s other meetings.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told reporters on Air Force One that Trump spent the flight meeting with staff, working on his upcoming speech to the Muslim world and getting a little sleep.

After spending much of Saturday meeting with King Salman and other members of the royal family, Trump was to end the day at a banquet dinner at the Murabba Palace. On Sunday, he’ll hold meetings with more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders converging on Riyadh for a regional summit focused largely on combating the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

The centerpiece of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia will be a speech Sunday at the Arab-Islamic-American summit. White House aides view the address as a counter to Obama’s 2009 speech to the Muslim world, which Trump criticized as too apologetic for US actions in the region.

Trump will call for unity in the fight against radicalism in the Muslim world, casting the challenge as a “battle between good and evil” and urging Arab leaders to “drive out the terrorists from your places of worship,” according to a draft of the speech obtained by The Associated Press. The draft notably refrains from mentioning democracy and human rights — topics Arab leaders often view as U.S. moralizing — in favor of the more limited goals of peace and stability. It also abandons some of the harsh anti-Muslim rhetoric that defined Trump’s presidential campaign and does not contain the words “radical Islamic terror,” a phrase Trump repeatedly criticized Hillary Clinton for not using during last year’s campaign.

White House officials hope the trip gives Trump the opportunity to recalibrate after one of the most difficult stretches of his young presidency. The White House badly bungled the president’s stunning firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing the federal investigation into possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia. On Wednesday, the Justice Department relented to calls from Democrats to name a special counsel, tapping former FBI chief Robert Mueller to lead the probe.
At the close of the Saturday morning forum, about 70 senior Saudi executives and US chief executives boarded buses outside the Four Seasons hotel, bound for lunch with King Salman and Mr Trump at the royal court. The elite business delegation is set to hold postprandial talks with Prince Mohammed, architect of the kingdom’s reform plans. Around 30 US executives were approved to attend the lunch, including names such as Larry Fink of BlackRock, Michael Corbat of Citigroup, Roy Harvey of Alcoa, Adena Friedman of Nasdaq and financial adviser Michael Klein.
Trump dodged one potential land mine when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted on war crime and genocide charges, announced that he would not attend the summit for personal reasons.

Trump during his winning presidential campaign and in the first several months of his presidency has argued the United States can no longer be the world’s police officer and that other nations must become more self-sufficient in efforts to combat terrorism and in protecting themselves against rogue nations like Iran and North Korea.
The US president is expected to pledge his respect and support to Saudi leaders and to the region, after months of harsh anti-Muslim rhetoric.
The Arab-US oil-terror goods business is back to fore to cement the ailing ties between allies. The $110-billion (around 100 billion Euros) deal for Saudi purchases of US defense equipment and services was one of several deals announced during Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia. The military sales deal is effective immediately, with another $350 billion set of deals to kick in over the next 10 years. “This package of defense equipment and services support the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian threats,” a White House official said when announcing the deal. “We now stand together to thwart our common enemies, to strengthen the bonds between us and to chart a path towards peace and prosperity for all,” the leaders said in a joint declaration.

Russia and Iran – allies with Syria against the US-Saudi Arabia axis in the region – this year signed a large arms deal. The US-Saudi deal comes amid talk of a possible reconfiguration of Middle East alliances, and possibly global ties. For Riyadh, the visit is an opportunity to rebuild ties with a key ally, strained under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, who Sunni Arab Gulf states suspected of a tilt towards their Shiite regional rival Iran.

Iran: Hassan Rouhani reelected President!

Iran: Hassan Rouhani reelected President!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
______

 

The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, has been re-elected in a landslide victory, endorsing his efforts to re-engage with the west and offer greater freedoms at home. With a huge turnout, polling stations stayed open until midnight in parts of the country, defying concerns that moderates disillusioned by the weak economy or slow pace of change would not vote. The president received close to 23 million votes, Interior Minister Abdul Reza Rahmani Fazli said on state television, in an election that had an unexpectedly high turnout of about 70%.
Iran’s reformist President Hassan Rouhani has decisively won the country’s presidential election, fending off a challenge by principlist rival, Ebrahim Raisi a conservative cleric. With all of votes in Friday’s poll counted, Rouhani was re-elected with 57 percent, Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmanifazli said. “Of some 41.2 million total votes cast, Rouhani got 23.5 and won the election,” Rahmanifazli said in remarks carried live by state TV. Raisi, Rouhani’s closest rival, main challenger, former prosecutor Ebrahim Raisi received 38.5%, or 15.7 million votes, not enough to take the election to a second round. A big turnout on Friday led to the vote being extended by several hours to deal with long queues.
Rouhani, a moderate who agreed a deal with world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear programme, pledged to “remain true” to his promises. The decisive victory gives him a strong mandate to seek reforms and revive Iran’s ailing economy, analysts say. In his first remarks after winning the poll, Rouhani said: “Great people of Iran, you’re the winners of the election.”
Giving full details, Iran’s interior minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, announced live on state television that Rouhani received 23,549,616 votes (57%), compared with his conservative rival Ebrahim Raisi, who won 15,786,449 votes (38.5%). More than 41.2 million people voted out of 56 million who were eligible to do so. The two other lesser known candidates, Mostafa Aqa-Mirsalim and Mostafa Hashemi-Taba, got 478,215 and 215,450 votes respectively.
The incumbent saw off a strong challenge from Raisi, a fellow cleric with radically different politics who stirred up populist concerns about the sluggish economy, lambasted Rouhani for seeking foreign investment and appealed to religious conservatives. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, issued a statement addressed to the Iranian people in which he praised the “massive and epic” turnout.

Presidency
In Iran’s unique and uneasy hybrid of democracy and theocracy, the president has significant power to shape government, although he is is ultimately constrained by the supreme leader. Khamenei, a hardliner thought to have favored Raisi in the election and as a possible successor for his own job, generally steers clear of daily politics but controls powerful bodies from the judiciary to the Revolutionary Guards. Despite losing the overall race, Raisi appeared to have won enough votes to allow him to campaign for office again or justify his promotion in unelected bodies.
Rouhani’s campaign headquarters said there was no plan to hold a celebratory rally. Iranians are usually quick to celebrate such victories, mainly by honking car horns or dancing in streets or distributing sweets. The scale of voter turnout was the highest for many years. The governor of the northern province of Gilan was quoted as saying the turnout there was 80%. In Yazd, the home city of former reformist president, Mohammad Khatami, there was 91% participation.
Fear of a Raisi presidency prompted many in Iran to vote. In Tehran, even political prisoners such as the prominent human rights lawyer Narges Mohammadi, cast their votes inside the notorious Evin prison. And the double Oscar-winning film director Asghar Farhadi voted in Cannes while participating at the festival.

Significance

Rouhani’s victory will be welcomed by Iranian reformists as well as the country’s opposition green movement.
Opposition leaders under house arrest, Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi, had urged people to vote for Rouhani. The president changed his tone on the campaign trail in order to appeal to the opposition. “Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein” was a ubiquitous slogan chanted by Rouhani fans in almost every place he campaigned in the three weeks before the vote.

The election was seen by many as a verdict on Rouhani’s policy of opening up Iran to the world and his efforts to rebuild its stagnant economy. Rouhani swept into office four years ago on a promise to reduce Iran’s international isolation.
Friday poll was the first since he negotiated a historic deal with world powers in 2015 to curb the country’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. In the campaign trail, Rouhani sought to frame the vote as a choice between greater civil liberties and “extremism”, criticising the continued arrest of reformist leaders and activists. Raisi, for his part, accused Rouhani of mismanaging the economy and positioned himself as a defender of the poor and calling for a much tougher line with the West.
Political commentator Mostafa Khoshcheshm said that in contrast to the 2013 election campaign, when Rouhani spoke about the removal of sanctions and the improvement of the economy, this time his message was different. “He resorted to other campaign slogans, like [calling for] social and political freedom, and he pushed the boundaries in order to gather public support, especially in large cities,” Khoshcheshm told Al Jazeera. “If he has secured this result, it’s because of the large cities and the middle class society living there – they have voted for him and made him a president and they expect him to do his promises.”
Trita Parsi, of the National Iranian American council, said the results showed Iranians had chosen “a path of gradual transformation through peaceful participation”. “President Rouhani’s convincing win is a sharp rebuke to Iran’s unelected institutions that were a significant brake on progress during his first term,” he said. “It is also a rebuke of Washington hawks who openly called for either a boycott of the vote, or for the hardline candidate Ebrahim Raisi to win in order to hasten a confrontation.” He said it was now time for Rouhani to deliver on the promises that inspired people to vote him back in.

Hardliners
Iran’s hardliners had pulled all the stops and mobilized all their resources to bring out as many people as possible to grab the last centre of power in Iran that was not under their control, namely the executive branch. Sensing an effort by the hardliners, supporters of President Rouhani who back his promises to steer the country toward moderation came out in big numbers too. Turnout has been unprecedented. In Tehran, five million people turned out to vote – twice as many as in 2013.
This was a revenge of the people against the hardliners who intimidated them, jailed them, executed them, drove them to exile, pushed them out of their jobs, and discriminated against women.

 

Campaign
President Rouhani will now have a bigger mandate to push through his reforms, to put an end to extremism, to build bridges with the outside world, to put the economy back on track.

Iranians have said a resounding Yes to President Rouhani who, in recent years and particularly during the last several weeks of campaigning, promised to expand individual and political freedoms and make all those centres of power, like the Revolutionary Guard, accountable. He also promised a moderate vision and an outward-looking Iran and, at rallies, openly attacked the conservative-dominated judiciary and security services. Another challenge, experts say, will come from abroad, and the relations with the new US government. President Donald Trump opposes the nuclear deal which eased sanctions on the Middle Eastern country, but his White House renewed it earlier this week.
As polling day draws closer in Iran, the state of the economy has become the key battleground for the six candidates running for president.
With rampant unemployment, some are promising jobs and others cash hand-outs as they appeal for votes.
Given his record, winning this election ought to be easy for incumbent Hassan Rouhani – but his re-election is by no means a certainty.
Rouhani managed to strike an historic deal in 2015 with world powers over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, resolving a long-standing crisis with the West.
International sanctions were lifted as a result, but average Iranians say they do not feel the economic benefits in their daily lives. “For the past two years, many have stayed away from the property market, first with the hope prices would fall post-sanctions and now for the fear of what happens in the elections,” says Ali Saeedi, a real estate agent. “Many of my colleagues left their jobs because the market is dead,” Saeedi, 33, says.
Iran’s housing sector shrank 13% in the year to March 2017, while the country’s overall economy grew by almost 6.6%, estimates International Monetary Fund.
That growth came mostly from increased oil exports following the lifting of sanctions. Iran’s highest record in the past four decades has been creating 600,000 jobs a year. Iran’s current unemployment rate stands at 12.7%, up 1.7% over the past year. That puts the number of those with absolutely no employment at 3.3 million.
But when it comes to young people, one in every three of those aged 15-24 is jobless. In that age group, every other woman is unemployed. For those without a job, Qalibaf is also offering a 2.5m rial ($66) monthly unemployment benefit, a first in the 38 years since since the Islamic Revolution. The price tag for this election promise alone is a staggering $2.6bn. Qalibaf does not say where he will find the money, nor how he will manage to double Iran’s job creation record.
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his two terms (2005-2013) started cash hand-outs when removing subsidies, offered low-interest loans for small businesses and launched massive projects of affordable housing for the poor.
But when Ahmadinejad left office the economy was shrinking by 7% a year and inflation reached 40%. He blamed international sanctions. Economists blamed Ahmadinejad’s populist policies and his mismanagement of the economy.

 

Challenge
The economy remains the number one challenge. Rouhani, 68, signed a nuclear deal between Iran, the US and other countries in 2015. International sanctions were lifted as a result, but average Iranians say they do not feel the economic benefits in their daily lives. While oil exports have rebounded and inflation is back at single-digits, unemployment remains high, especially among the young people.
Rouhani has brought inflation down from around 40 percent when he took over in 2013, but prices are still rising by over seven percent a year. Oil sales have rebounded since the nuclear deal took effect in January 2016, but growth in the rest of the economy has been limited, leaving unemployment at 12.5 percent overall – close to 30 percent for the young – and many more are under-employed or struggling to get by. “Rouhani now gets his second term, and will be able to continue the work that he started in his first four-year term trying to reform Iran,” Hull said. “And moving on, crucially, from the nuclear deal to try and bring much more economic progress to satisfy the people who have found themselves extremely disappointed with the very slow pace of change since that agreement was signed.”
President Rouhani has brought GDP growth back into the black, inflation into single-digits and trade deficit into a surplus. But expectations are high and Rouhani himself is to blame, having promised miracles once the sanctions were lifted.
Most members of Iran’s fledgling private sector say they will give Mr Rouhani another chance. “We want him to improve the business environment and free the economy from rent-seeking, corruption and monopoly,” says Hamid Hosseini, chief executive of Soroosh oil refinery in Iran.
Hosseini is a board member of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines and the founder of the country’s oil products export union.He says a large group of private sector executives have come together to support Rouhani. “His government has given the society hope with lifting sanctions, increasing growth and tourism, attracting foreign investment and should be confident in this race,” Hosseini says. But the choice for some young Iranians like Ali Saeedi is not crystal-clear.

Rouhani’s re-election is likely to safeguard the 2015 agreement, under which most international sanctions have been lifted in return for Iran curbing its nuclear program. Rouhani has vowed to work towards removing the remaining non-nuclear sanctions, but critics argue that will be hard with Donald Trump as US president – Trump has repeatedly described it as “one of the worst deals ever signed”, although his administration re-authorised waivers from sanctions this week.
Rouhani is also expected to face the same restrictions that prevented him from delivering substantial social change in his first term.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has veto power over all policies and ultimate control of the security forces, While Rouhani has been unable to secure the release of reformist leaders from house arrest.
Rouhani, during an “increasingly acrimonious election campaign, alienated a lot of Iran’s significant state institutions who may be in no mood to cooperate with him going forward”.
While the nuclear deal was at the forefront of the election, the campaign was dominated by the issues of poverty and unemployment.

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