‘The spirit of brotherhood defines Pakistan’s approach towards Afghanistan’

May 15, 2019

 

As tensions rise between Saudi Arabia/US and Iran it is good to read that heads of two troubled states are agreeing to seek peace and economic progress towards regional prosperity

In January, Afghan President Muhammad Ashraf Ghani phoned Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss recent efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Business Recorder reports that he expressed gratitude for Pakistan’s facilitation of these efforts, initiated by the US Special Representative for Peace and Reconciliation in Afghanistan, Ambassador Zamlay Khalilzad. He invited Imran Khan to visit Afghanistan at his earliest convenience. Khan reciprocated by inviting President Ghani to visit Pakistan.

In April, PM Khan (below) said “Afghanistan conflict has brought great suffering for both Afghanistan and Pakistan over last 40 years. Now, after a long wait, the Afghanistan Peace Process presents a historic opportunity for peace in the region and Pakistan is fully supporting the process including the next logical step of Intra Afghan Dialogue wherein Afghans will themselves decide upon the future of their country”.

Earlier this month the Times of Islamabad reported that according to a statement issued by the Foreign Office, Imran Khan has called Ashraf Ghani (right) and they agreed to work to realise the true economic potential of the two countries and assure the socio-economic development, alleviation of poverty and welfare of the two peoples. He stated that the spirit of brotherhood defined Pakistan’s approach towards Afghanistan. The prolonged Afghan conflict had damaged Afghanistan and adversely affected Pakistan over many decades.

Imran Khan presented his vision of a peaceful solution in Afghanistan, fully owned and led by the Afghans themselves and stressed that Pakistan will spare no effort to advance the common objectives of building peace in Afghanistan and having a fruitful bilateral relationship between the two countries.

The Gulf News adds that – according to the Foreign Office statement – during the conversation, the Afghan president accepted the invitation to visit Islamabad “for a comprehensive exchange of views on all issues of mutual interest.”

 

 

 

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Israel’s annexation of Judea and Samaria (West Bank): “reaching the point of no return”?

April 11, 2019

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A radio commentator recently said. “Annexation is the name of the game now” and an article by David Gardner (Financial Times), expands on this statement.

Gardner reports that following the US president’s recent statements, Benjamin Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 12 News at the weekend that he ‘will not uproot anyone [among the Jewish settlers], and will not transfer sovereignty to the Palestinians’. He said Israel would take the big clusters of Jewish settlements, mostly around Jerusalem and the settler outposts deep inside the West Bank, built illegally under international law.

See https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-the-settlers-who-didn-t-know-they-were-settlers-1.6157541

His biographer, Anshel Pfeffer, writing in the newspaper Haaretz, predicted the victory. Netanyahu, he wrote, “will do anything to stay in office. Stoke Israelis’ darkest fears, appeal to racist demons and undermine the pillars of Israel’s incomplete and limited democracy to fend off the charges of his rank corruption”.

Last year the central committee of Netanyahu’s Likud party — whose charter expressly repudiates a Palestinian state — voted unanimously to extend Israeli sovereignty and law to “all liberated areas of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]”.

Mr Netanyahu, elected despite impending corruption charges, is now forming a coalition with groups that advocate the paid “transfer” of Palestinians to neighbouring Arab countries.

President Donald Trump, after recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy there, called last month for recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, annexed in 1981, though both decisions were declared illegal by the UN Security Council in resolutions 478 and 497. Gardner ends:

“This story, seen by Arabs as the colonisation of the Palestinians by Israel, is reaching the point of no return”.

He appears to reserve his pity for future generations of Israeli Jews condemned to ”the instability of living in a single state with Palestinian Arabs as second-class citizens — who would eventually outnumber them in the cramped and combustible space between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean”.

137 countries officially recognise the state of Palestine, according to the Palestinian mission to the United Nations. Currently, the UK – like the US – only recognises the state of Israel. Would a Labour government act on MP John McDonnell’s proposal to convene an international conference with the stated aim of creating a viable Palestinian and Israeli state?

 

 

 

 

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Cross-party coalition of Scots urges Britain to uphold the rule of law and recognise the state of Palestine

March 30, 2019

 

Thousands of Palestinians gathered today in several locations across the Gaza Strip

They were marking the one-year anniversary of the weekly border protests, coinciding with the annual commemoration of Land Day which Palestinians worldwide have commemorated since 1976, when Israeli security forces shot dead six Israeli Arabs who were protesting against the expropriation of Arab-owned farm land in northern Israel to build Jewish settlements.

The Times reports that a letter signed by Scots, including MPs, MSPs and peers from all parties, said the “dismally familiar pattern” of rockets and reprisals must be broken.

It added: “Two million people are imprisoned in Gaza, an integral part of Palestine. The UN says Gaza will not be ‘a liveable place’ by next year. It is unbearable now”.

It was signed by:

  • Lord Ancram
  • MP Alistair Carmichael
  • Lord Purvis
  • Lord Bruce
  • MP Ian Murray
  • MSP Claudia Beamish
  • MSP Pauline McNeill
  • Baroness Kennedy.
  • MP Tommy Sheppard
  • MP Philippa Whitford
  • MSP Sandra White
  • MSP Ross Greer
  • Rev Iain Cunningham
  • Sir William Patey
  • Professor Graham Watt

Egyptian diplomacy:

Haaretz reports that, according to Palestinian sources, factions in Gaza have reached understandings with Israel ahead of the protests, following talks with a delegation of Egyptian intelligence officials. This included an agreement on the part of Hamas to prevent protesters from approaching the fence separating Israel from Gaza, while Israel responds with restraint to minimize civilian injuries.

Israel has offered to:

  • re-open border crossings into Gaza,
  • expand the fishing zone in the waters off the coast of the enclave
  • ease restrictions on the entry of goods.
  • And permit the entry of money from Qatar to provide fuel for Gaza

As the letter ended: “There is a better way than waiting for President Trump’s ‘deal’, a way that does not subordinate the right to self-determination of one people to the security and territorial ambitions of another. We back the Balfour Project’s call for an independent Palestinian state. Israelis need to co-exist securely with their Palestinian neighbours, not deny legitimate free movement. Britain must take a lead. We urge the government to recognise the state of Palestine alongside Israel and uphold the rule of law, embodied most recently in UN security council resolution 2334”.

 

 

 

 

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‘Special relationship’ led to cycle of revenge and counter-revenge

March 22, 2019

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Documents newly released and placed in the National Archives in Kew, show the prime minister was deeply troubled by UC President Reagan’s request to allow the US to use RAF bases to launch a raid on Libya.

The Times reports that the US president wanted to respond to an attack on a nightclub used by US servicemen, writing: “Because the evidence we have on direct Libyan involvement in the Berlin bombing is so convincing, and our information on their future plans is so threatening, I have reluctantly taken the decision to use US forces to exact a response.”

Margaret Thatcher outlined her concerns in a series of letters:

“Dear Ron . . . as you know my instinct is always to stand beside the United States, but what you say in your message causes me very considerable anxiety. My worry is that this risks getting us into a cycle of revenge and counter-revenge in which many more innocent lives will be lost . . . “.

“Given all we know of Gaddafi’s nature, a military attack on Libya seems all too likely to lead him to step up terrorist attacks against civilian targets, resulting in the death of more innocent victims — some of them yours and some of them mine . . .”

Referring to the conflict in Northern Ireland, she wrote: “I have to live with the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic across which terrorists come daily. We have lost 2,500 of our people in the last ten years, but we have never crossed that border to exact revenge.”

Reagan wrote:

“You should not underestimate the profound effect on the American people if our actions to put a halt to these crimes continue to receive only lukewarm support, or no support at all, from our closest allies whom we have committed ourselves to defend.”

She responded: “You can count on our unqualified support for action directed against specific Libyan targets demonstrably involved in the conduct and support of terrorist activities.”

Tragically, the so-called ‘Iron Lady’ gave way

Days before ordering airstrikes against Libya, which led to the deaths of more than 70 people in April 1986, she decided to allow the US to use RAF bases to launch a raid on Colonel Gaddafi’s regime. US F-111 jets launched raids on Tripoli and Benghazi from RAF bases in Suffolk and Oxfordshire.

*Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie in 1988 and a Libyan national, was convicted of the atrocity in 2001.

FT journalist Jim Pickard, though a persistent critic of Jeremy Corbyn, has pointed out that Corbyn has linked terror attacks to foreign wars and, since becoming Labour leader has apologised for the joint US-UK action on behalf of his party. He has opposed most western military interventions of modern times, including action in Afghanistan and Syria.

 

*This sentence corrected in April thanks to a vigilant Wimbledon reader.

 

 

 

 

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Legal charge: the US “global war on terrorism” is not justifiable under German law

March 21, 2019

 

In 2010 a C3000 post quoted the Wall Street Journal’s report (link no longer active) that opinion polls in Germany reported the opposition of a ‘solid majority’ of Germans to their country’s military role in Afghanistan. Many were aware that this war was contrary to their law as it stands, set out in Article 24 [International organizations] and Article 26 [Ban on preparations for war of aggression].

Earlier this month, a report by the Open Society’s Justice Initiative highlights how, with German support, the United States has carried out illegal killings as part of its “War on Terror” doctrine—which represents a threat to the rule of law everywhere.

On March 13th, the Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia in Münster heard arguments from lawyers representing a Somali herdsman whose father was killed in a U.S. drone strike in February 2012. The charge argues that allowing U.S. bases on German territory to support such drone strikes violates both the German constitution and Germany’s Status of Forces Agreements with NATO, under which U.S. forces are granted the right to operate on its territory while respecting German law.

The legal team earlier filed an application to the Higher Regional Court of Zweibrücken arguing that that the United States’ so-called “global war on terrorism” is not justifiable under German law, (Articles 24 & 26) and that the German government has a duty to prevent any U.S. military action under that category that is supported from German territory.

The complaint asserted that German officials are jointly responsible for the deaths of the two men because Germany hosts two U.S. military facilities indispensable for planning and operating drone strikes in Africa: the U.S. Air Force base at Ramstein, which plays a crucial role in conducting U.S. drone operations worldwide, and the U.S. military’s African command headquarters (AFRICOM) in Stuttgart, which is responsible for all military operations in Africa.

The application seeks a judicial declaration that Germany has committed these violations and an order directing the prosecution to conduct the necessary investigations into this case.

 

 

 

 

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Korean update

January 30, 2019

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The last reference on this site was the cheering April declaration by the two Korean leaders that there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula.

Read [FULL TEXT] Panmunjeon Declaration

In a September agreement, the Koreas pledged gradually to withdraw all guard posts within the heavily armed Demilitarized Zone. They also agreed to create buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries, as well as a no-fly zone above the border. South Korean President Moon Jae-in described the agreement as an important trust-building step that will reduce border tensions.

Associated Press reported in October that the North and South Korean militaries agreed to destroy 22 front-line guard posts by the end of November as they discussed their next steps in implementing the September agreement. In a statement released after the general-level talks at the border village of Panmunjom they agreed to conduct a November joint survey of a 70km waterway near their western border which will eventually be used by civilian vessels from both countries.

The Koreas and the U.S.-led U.N. Command completed removing firearms and troops from a jointly controlled area at the border village and have been clearing mines from front-line areas. They plan to start their first joint search for remains of soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War in April. South Korea’s Defence Ministry issued a statement that the Koreas plan to jointly verify that all these measures have been carried out in December.

November: the road built across the military demarcation line inside the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea.

Seoul’s defence ministry announced that North and South Korea have connected a road across their shared border for the first time in 14 years, in the latest reconciliation gesture. The dirt road, which is wholly within the Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula, will be used for joint operations next year to recover remains from the 1950-53 Korean War as agreed at the Pyongyang summit between the South’s President Moon Jae-in and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un in September.

The BBC reported that in November, for the first time in more than a decade, a train travelled from South Korea across the heavily guarded border into North Korea.

When the leaders of North and South Korea had their historic meeting in April, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un asked for help with updating his country’s railways, which he said were in an “embarrassing” state.

South Korean engineers boarded the train in Dorasan, just north of Seoul, on Friday morning for the short journey to the Demilitarised Zone which has divided the Korean peninsula since the Korean War in the 1950s. They will live on the train for the next 18 days while inspecting 1,200km (745 miles) of track and railway infrastructure.

In December, the Koreas jointly verified the removal of the border Armed Guard Posts. Voice of America reports that a South Korean delegation left for North Korea on to attend a ground-breaking ceremony for reconnecting roads and railways across the divided peninsula despite stalled denuclearization talks. Joint railway and road inspections are to take place this month in preparation for this project.

In January, following a visit by Mr Kim’s top aide to Washington, the FT reported that the White House has confirmed that a second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump will take place at the end of February.

 

 

 

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Russia: innumerable headlines and reports of diplomatic tensions

January 15, 2019

 

As references to the ‘New Cold War’ abound, it is refreshing to read the analysis in Issue 49 of the Nato Watch Observatory, page 3:

“Based on the available evidence, a more accurate portrait of Russia would depict a more or less normal great power pursuing its own interests, sometimes in concord with the West and other times not, but usually in alignment with at least some Western countries.

“The Russian establishment’s views both of international order and of what constitutes national interest do not differ fundamentally from those of the harder-headed members of the West’s own security establishments….

“The red lines on both sides have been clear at least since 2014, and possibly as far back as 2008. It is understood that NATO will not defend any country that Russia might attack, and that Russia will not attack any country that NATO might defend. This leaves both sides—unlike the great powers before 1914—free to employ the rhetoric of confrontation without running the risk of actual catastrophic war…

“Nurturing a fear of Russia does not merely distract attention from the problems that are weakening and dividing the West, but by doing so helps to make them worse”.

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In The National Interest, Doug Bandow writes: “President Donald Trump entered office with praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and support for improving Washington-Moscow relations. A year later President Trump surprised even his aides by congratulating Putin on the latter’s reelection and suggesting a summit meeting between the two leaders . . . President Trump has stood by, mostly silently, as bilateral relations continued their slow-motion collapse and though there are diplomatic tensions there is no new Cold War”.

Bandow points out that Russia’s foreign policy is essentially conservative and restrained, though not pacifist and in contrast, “America’s is unconstrained and frankly militarist, determined to transform the world in its image, or at least in its interest. The Russian government’s greatest concerns are maintaining control, gaining respect for Russia’s interests and safeguarding its boundaries.

May 31, 1990 on the White House lawn, formal greetings from President Bush for Mikhail Gorbachev, later president of the USSR.

Declassified diplomatic records which may be read here, showed the security assurances given in 1990 against NATO expansion to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner. Bearing in mind these assurances, Moscow considers the incorporation of Ukraine, expanding NATO activities up to Russia’s borders as a security threat and a violation of the West’s commitment not to expand the transatlantic alliance eastward.

In It’s Nato that’s empire-building, not Putin, Peter Hitchens asks, “Two great land powers face each other. One of these powers, Russia, has given up control over 700,000 square miles of valuable territory. The other, the European Union, has gained control over 400,000 of those square miles. Which of these powers is expanding?”

 

 

 

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