Just International

Consulate Rally Demands an End to German Weapons for Israel

By Phil Pasquini

Today, the Republic of Nicaragua, a longtime staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause, presented its request for Provisional Measures to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague against The Federal Republic of Germany, soliciting the court to halt Germany from supplying weapons to Israel and to restore humanitarian aid to Gaza.

At the same time, Code Pink held rallies presenting letters to eight German consulates in the US and the German Embassy in Washington in support of The International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine (ICSGP) as part of their campaign “…to help the Palestinians in Germany to turn up the pressure on the German government in stopping the genocide.”

As a point of reference, Provisional Measures may be issued by “International courts and tribunals…as temporary, urgent orders to protect the rights of parties involved in a dispute, before a final judgment is reached.”

The two-day ICJ public hearing before the court will consist of oral arguments concerning “…alleged violations by Germany of its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols, intransgressible principles of international humanitarian law and other norms of general international law in relation to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly the Gaza Strip.”

Nicaragua cited the “extreme emergency” situation in Gaza for the court to review Germany’s “participation in the ongoing plausible genocide…” with “extreme and irreparable prejudice now being suffered by the Palestinian people – in particular the Gazan population.”

Nearly all the weapons being used by the Israeli military to destroy Gaza are being supplied by the US, (69%) and Germany (30%) according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. By providing weapons for use in Gaza, all countries involved are complicit in the ongoing genocide.

Prior to formally presenting the letter to the German consul general, the group took turns reading sections of it aloud at the consulate’s locked front gate to those assembled and those with business at the busy consular building and passersby. The letter addressed support for Nicaragua’s request before the ICJ and called for the resumption of UNRWA humanitarian aid to Gaza whose work has been suspended due to accusations by Israel that UNRWA employees had “confessed” to having collaborated with Hamas. UNRWA has reported, however, that the “confessions” instead had been made due to the use of “torture, waterboarding, beatings and threats to the workers families.”

Cynthia Papermaster of Code Pink presented the group’s letter to a security guard at the consulate who in turn forwarded it to the consulate receptionist. An immediate response was received through the consulate’s street intercom to Papermaster who was assured that it would be forwarded to the consul general for his review.

Over this past weekend it was widely reported that a letter dated April 5 and signed by 40 members of Congress including Nancy Pelosi has called the transfer of additional offensive weapons by the Biden administration to Israel as “unjustifiable.”

The letter was addressed to both President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken and in it the signatory expressed their “…shared concern and outrage regarding the recent Israeli airstrike which killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, including an American citizen. We strongly urge you to reconsider your recent decision to authorize the transfer of a new arms package to Israel, and to withhold this and any future offensive arms transfers until a full investigation into the airstrike is completed. If this strike is found to have violated US or international law, we urge you to continue withholding these transfers until those responsible are held accountable. We also urge you to withhold these transfers if Israel fails to sufficiently mitigate harm to innocent civilians in Gaza, including aid workers, and if it fails to facilitate – or arbitrarily denies or restricts – the transport and delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza.”

Report and photo by Phil Pasquini

9 April 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

‘We Are in a State of Terror, Fear’ Displaced Gazan Says

By Dr Marwan Asmar

“We have been waiting for six months but we have seen nothing, nothing. We are all dying, just constant funerals day after day”

After six full months of genocide the Israeli army has nowhere near achieved its objectives to eradicate Hamas and bring back the hostages. If anything, many of them are feared to be dead through the merciless of the Gaza Strip.

The only objective achieved by Israel is to have bombed the whole of the Gaza into a primal age, mass debris and destruction everywhere where thousands continue to lie dead under the wreckage. The Israeli war on Gaza is mass genocide and ethnic cleansing of ordinary Palestinian civilians that were trying to live ordinary lives.

Without a flinch the Israeli army has killed over 33,000 people, injured over 75,000 and destroyed over 366,000 housing units.

https://t.me/QudsNen/101102

A displaced Palestinian woman recounts the horrors she has endured during the ongoing Israeli attacks in Gaza, urging an end to the Israeli genocide as reported by Al Quds Press.

“We are in a state of terror and fear,” she says in a videoclip.

“We can’t bear this anymore, I swear to God, we can’t bear it anymore. For the sake of God, find a solution and put an end to this situation, just for the sake of our children,” she echoes to anyone who cares to listen.

“We keep hearing about the fact there is going to be a truce and a ceasefire, but we keep waiting helplessly from Monday till Thursday, Monday till Thursday, but we haven’t seen anything till now,” the displaced lady adds. She is among the 1.9 million Palestinians out of a Gazan population of 2.3 million, who were forced to leave their homes.

“We have been waiting for six months but we have seen nothing, nothing. We are all dying, just constant funerals day after day,” adding this what has become of us.

“My daughter’s hair falls off every day out of fear. What has she done to deserve this?”

“They [Israeli army] told us to go to the Gaza Valley for our safety, so we came here for safety, but we don’t see any safety here, there is no security. Where is the safety they keep telling us about, there is no safety here. Its God we should trust in, His is the best purveyor,” she hammers in determination.

“Where is America, where are the countries, where are they! We don’t see anyone standing with us at all. No one is with us, but we have all God. He is the best provider,” she narrates.

“They are just bringing us two planes dropping aid on top of our heads. But we don’t want this at all, we don’t. What we want is a ceasefire. This is what we want.”

Dr Asmar is an Amman-based writer covering Middle East Affairs

9 April 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

Mass Protest Fast by AAP Across India and Other Countries – A Collective Act of Solidarity Against Kejriwal’s Arrest!

By P.S Sahni & Shobha Aggarwal

“Ruke na jo jhuke na jo

Mite na jo dabe na jo

Hum wo inkalab hai

Julm ka jawab hai

Har garib har shahid

Ka ham he to khawab hai

Ruke na jo…’’

(1st verse in the old number from ‘Joi Bangladesh’ – a film released in 1971 in India. AAP’s Sanjay Singh and colleague sang this number.)

For the first time in five years, Delhiites were witness to a mass rally at the National Protest Site, Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. About 3000 people participated. Such a large crowd we had seen at Jantar Mantar in June 2017 when people protested against Junaid Khan’s killing. Similar massive protest took place in New Delhi after Operation Blue Star when about 3000 people had assembled!

We attended yesterday’s protest in solidarity. We met two old comrades – who like us were not AAP members; both Gautam and J.P are non party activists. We also met a volunteer who – like us – had been attending Anna Hazare’s protest at Jantar Mantar. Before leaving we had tea and biscuits at our old ‘adda’ – a tea shop on Jantar Mantar pavement.

This protest and the I.N.D.I.A bloc public meeting at Ram Lila Maidan, Delhi a week earlier appear to be a harbinger of a silent wave about to sweep the B.J.P. The protesters at this gathering were relaxed; there was no fear on their faces. On the dais bhajans and revolutionary songs were sung by AAP leaders. The mood of the nation can be gauzed from the rendition of this old song:

“ruke na jo jhuke na jo…”

P.S Sahni & Shobha Aggarwal, Members, PIL Watch Group. Photographs by Shobha.

8 April 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

Don’t Let The Israelis Crush Knowledge in Gaza

By Dr Marwan Asmar

Norwegian Dr Mads Gilbert says the Israeli army want to eradicate the Palestinian people by destroying their ‘knowledge system’ as in their schools, universities and culture.

https://twitter.com/drmadsgilbert?lang=en

“Did you know the Israeli occupation army has bombed every university in Gaza,” Dr Mads Gilbert, a physician from Norway and a social activist, asks on the X platform.

“All of the universities have been bombed by the Israeli occupation without almost any protests from the western universities, from the western ministries of education and their governments,” he pointed out.

According to the latest OCHA report, he says because of the mass bombings of Gaza 625,000 students have no education while the Israeli army has killed 5,479 students and 261 teachers and professors. This is while 80% of UN and public schools (396 out of 495) have been partially and/or completely destroyed and presently can’t functions.

“…What the Israeli army has done is to eradicate the teaching, training education system and the research system in Gaza and systematically bombed archives, the health information system and all the sources and information about the situation in Palestine.”

Dr Gilbert, an anesthetist and head of emergency medicine department at the University Hospital of North Norway, had long association with Gaza and taught at many of its universities including Al Aqsa and Islamic Universities.

He points out what the Israelis are doing is “epistemicide” and eradicating the people on-the-ground in Gaza including the eradication of knowledge of the indigenous people.

The Israelis want to “crush the universities and schools, crush their [Palestinian] archives, their knowledge, their understanding, their history, their books, their culture, their music” and this is “to get rid of the whole Palestinian people and their history,” Dr Gilbert points out.

“We should not for one single second accept this, and we should demand for our universities to boycott Israeli universities that take part in the eradication of the Palestinian educational systems and their history.”

We should demand from our [western] institutions to they stand up and demand the right to knowledge the right to teaching, the right to have your own history and that means simple boycott of Israeli universities and that don’t protest against the occupation and the destruction in Gaza.

Finally, “if you are a student and university teacher ask yourself: What can you do in your institution to support Palestine and Gaza?

Dr Marwan Asmar is a writer based in Amman covering Middle East affairs

7 April 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

CODEPINK’s Ann Wright and Medea Benjamin Join a Coalition of Human Rights Activists on International Civilian Aid Flotilla to Break the Siege of Gaza

By Press Release

CODEPINK’s Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin and hundreds of other human rights activists with the Freedom Flotilla Coalition are due to set sail on multiple vessels in mid-April to carry 5,500 tons of aid for Gaza. Their mission, aside from delivering the much-needed humanitarian aid, is to challenge Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza amid dire conditions, including widespread hunger and lack of medical attention intentionally caused by Israeli policies. Time is running out for many in Gaza as Israel threatens an all-out attack on Rafah and experts warn hunger and disease could soon surpass casualties from bombings.

“I have been walking the halls of Congress every day since October, going to rallies every weekend, writing letters of outrage to President Biden every night–and nothing has worked to stop Israel from murdering thousands upon thousands of innocent people. What more can I do? I can go on this flotilla to try to break the criminal siege that Israel has imposed on Gaza,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin.

“President Biden waited six months, waited until 33,000 had been killed, mostly women and children, before picking up the phone and demanding that Netanyahu reduce civilian harm, allow more aid in, and protect aid workers,” said CODEPINK Ret. Army Colonel and former U.S. Diplomat Ann Wright. “But even if Israel allows more humanitarian aid in, it is still bombing Gaza with U.S. bombs, shooting innocent people and imprisoning the 2.2 million people that live in Gaza. Getting humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza is urgent, but it is not sufficient. We must end Israel’s unlawful, deadly blockade as well as Israel’s overall control of Gaza.  That’s why we need this flotilla, filled with unarmed civilians, human rights observers from 30 countries, to challenge Israel’s brutal grip on the Gaza strip.”

Israel’s longstanding neglect of its responsibility as an occupying power to safeguard the health and wellbeing of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank has escalated into genocidal actions, including using starvation as a weapon of war. Israeli leaders have openly declared intentions to collectively punish Gaza’s population. The Freedom Flotilla opposes Israel’s authority over aid and will refuse any inspection of our cargo. For safety and effective aid distribution, the flotilla will deploy numerous international humanitarian observers from diverse backgrounds and countries.

Despite air drops of food and temporary docks, Israel continues to block thousands of aid trucks from entering Gaza through land crossings. The International Court of Justice’s rulings on January 26 and March 28 emphasize Israel’s obligation to ensure the safety and security of Palestinians in Gaza, including facilitating humanitarian assistance without obstruction.

“The International Court of Justice’s preliminary measures ordered against Israel are very clear,” comments Ismail Moola of South Africa’s Palestine Solidarity Alliance, which is part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition. “The court’s ruling requires the whole world to play their part to stop the genocide unfolding in Gaza, including unobstructed access to vital aid. While our governments fail to lead in these urgently required humanitarian responses, people of conscience and our grassroots organizations must act to take leadership. When governments fail, we sail!”

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition is a non-partisan international coalition of campaigns that stand for freedom and human rights in Palestine. They have sailed since 2010 with the goal of breaking the blockade of Gaza, and in solidarity with Palestinians cries for freedom and equality. Their non-violent direct action missions support the dignity and humanity of Palestinians, working with civil society partners, rather than any party, faction or government.

6 April 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

The Unremarkable Death of Migrants in the Sahara Desert

By Vijay Prashad

Sabah, Libya, is an oasis town at the northern edge of the Sahara Desert. To stand at the edge of the town and look southward into the desert toward Niger is forbidding. The sand stretches past infinity, and if there is a wind, it lifts the sand to cover the sky. Cars come down the road past the al-Baraka Mosque into the town. Some of these cars come from Algeria (although the border is often closed) or from Djebel al-Akakus, the mountains that run along the western edge of Libya. Occasionally, a white Toyota truck filled with men from the Sahel region of Africa and from western Africa makes its way into Sabah. Miraculously, these men have made it across the desert, which is why many of them clamber out of their truck and fall to the ground in desperate prayer. Sabah means “morning” or “promise” in Arabic, which is a fitting word for this town that grips the edge of the massive, growing, and dangerous Sahara.

For the past decade, the United Nations International Organization of Migration (IOM) has collected data on the deaths of migrants. This Missing Migrants Project publishes its numbers each year, and so this April, it has released its latest figures. For the past ten years, the IOM says that 64,371 women, men, and children have died while on the move (half of them have died in the Mediterranean Sea). On average, each year since 2014, 4,000 people have died. However, in 2023, the number rose to 8,000. One in three migrants who flee a conflict zone die on the way to safety. These numbers, however, are grossly deflated, since the IOM simply cannot keep track of what they call “irregular migration.” For instance, the IOM admits, “[S]ome experts believe that more migrants die while crossing the Sahara Desert than in the Mediterranean Sea.”

Sandstorms and Gunmen

Abdel Salam, who runs a small business in the town, pointed out into the distance and said, “In that direction is Toummo,” the Libyan border town with Niger. He sweeps his hands across the landscape and says that in the region between Niger and Algeria is the Salvador Pass, and it is through that gap that drugs, migrants, and weapons move back and forth, a trade that enriches many of the small towns in the area, such as Ubari. With the erosion of the Libyan state since the NATO war in 2011, the border is largely porous and dangerous. It was from here that the al-Qaeda leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar moved his troops from northern Mali into the Fezzan region of Libya in 2013 (he was said to have been killed in Libya in 2015). It is also the area dominated by the al-Qaeda cigarette smugglers, who cart millions of Albanian-made Cleopatra cigarettes across the Sahara into the Sahel (Belmokhtar, for instance, was known as the “Marlboro Man” for his role in this trade). An occasional Toyota truck makes its way toward the city. But many of them vanish into the desert, a victim of the terrifying sandstorms or of kidnappers and thieves. No one can keep track of these disappearances, since no one even knows that they have happened.

Matteo Garrone’s Oscar-nominated Io Capitano (2023) tells the story of two Senegalese boys—Seydou and Moussa—who go from Senegal to Italy through Mali, Niger, and then Libya, where they are incarcerated before they flee across the Mediterranean to Italy in an old boat. Garrone built the story around the accounts of several migrants, including Kouassi Pli Adama Mamadou (from Côte d’Ivoire, now an activist who lives in Caserta, Italy). The film does not shy away from the harsh beauty of the Sahara, which claims the lives of migrants who are not yet seen as migrants by Europe. The focus of the film is on the journey to Europe, although most Africans migrate within the continent (21 million Africans live in countries in which they were not born). Io Capitano ends with a helicopter flying above the ship as it nears the Italian coastline; it has already been pointed out that the film does not acknowledge racist policies that will greet Seydou and Moussa. What is not shown in the film is how European countries have tried to build a fortress in the Sahel region to prevent migration northwards.

Open-Air Tomb

More and more migrants have sought the Niger-Libya route after the fall of the Libyan state in 2011 and the crackdown on the Moroccan-Spanish border at Melilla and Ceuta. A decade ago, the European states turned their attention to this route, trying to build a European “wall” in the Sahara against the migrants. The point was to stop the migrants before they get to the Mediterranean Sea, where they become an embarrassment to Europe. France, leading the way, brought together five of the Sahel states (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger) in 2014 to create the G5 Sahel. In 2015, under French pressure, the government of Niger passed Law 2015-36 that criminalized migration through the country. G5 Sahel and the law in Niger came alongside European Union funding to provide surveillance technologies—illegal in Europe—to be used in this band of countries against migrants. In 2016, the United States built the world’s largest drone base in Agadez, Niger, as part of this anti-migrant program. In May 2023, Border Forensics studied the paths of the migrants and found that due to the law in Niger and these other mechanisms the Sahara had become an “open-air tomb.”

Over the past few years, however, all of this has begun to unravel. The coup d’états in Guinea (2021), Mali (2021), Burkina Faso (2022), and Niger (2023) have resulted in the dismantling of G5 Sahel as well as the demand for the removal of French and U.S. troops. In November 2023, the government of Niger revoked Law 2015-36 and freed those who had been accused of being smugglers.

Abdourahamane, a local grandee, stood beside the Grand Mosque in Agadez and talked about the migrants. “The people who come here are our brothers and sisters,” he said. “They come. They rest. They leave. They do not bring us problems.” The mosque, built of clay, bears within it the marks of the desert, but it is not transient. Abdourahamane told me that it goes back to the 16th century, long before modern Europe was born. Many of the migrants come here to get their blessings before they buy sunglasses and head across the desert, hoping that they make it through the sands and find their destiny somewhere across the horizon.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor, and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter.

6 April 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

As Palestinians starve, Netanyahu government attempts face-saving gesture following US-Israel murder of aid workers

By Jordan Shilton

In the aftermath of Monday’s targeted killing of seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers by the Israel Defence Forces, the White House and media outlets internationally have gone into overdrive to convince everyone that a significant shift in Israel’s policy towards Gaza’s Palestinians is taking place. Friday’s announcement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that an additional border crossing for aid deliveries to the north of the Gaza Strip will be opened and temporary deliveries will be allowed to depart Israel’s Ashdod port was widely reported as a newfound humanitarian commitment to 2.3 million starving Gazans.

In reality, the move is a face-saving gesture aimed at quelling an eruption of popular outrage around the world to Israel’s barbaric war crimes, while allowing US imperialism to hypocritically posture as a restraining force in the ongoing genocide. Netanyahu’s announcement was closely coordinated with Washington, coming just hours after a phone call between Biden and Netanyahu. Media reports presented the call as tense, with Biden supposedly urging the adoption of “specific, concrete and measurable” steps to alleviate the humanitarian crisis. However, leading Biden administration officials, including National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, made clear that there would be no change to the supply of weaponry to Israel and that Washington’s support was “iron clad.” Referring to Netanyahu’s announcement later Friday, Biden bluntly told a reporter, “I asked them to do what they’re doing.”

The opening of an extra border crossing and a temporary maritime route into Gaza is a moot point if there are no aid workers to deliver desperately needed food and medical supplies. The Israel Defence Forces stopped all aid deliveries to northern Gaza by the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) last week. Following the massacre of the aid workers, WCK, American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have suspended aid operations in Gaza. WCK was supposed to have played a central part in the maritime aid corridor from Cyprus that was touted by the Biden administration in March, when it announced plans to construct a floating dock off the enclave’s coast. The Cypriot government stated Monday that a ship organised by WCK returned from Gaza without offloading the 332 tons of humanitarian aid it was carrying.

Data from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israeli government agency that controls access to Gaza, reveal that WCK was responsible for 60 percent of non-governmental aid deliveries in Gaza before it suspended its operations. ANERA reportedly delivered an average of 150,000 meals each day since October. The UAE has supplied 25 percent of all aid from foreign countries.

Other aid organisations still operating have underscored that it is more or less impossible to maintain their activities. “We go on a mission where we are told we would be safe and then we are delayed for hours, our staff is interrogated, they are put in harm’s way or they are killed and that’s not acceptable,” commented Tess Ingram, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, the UN children’s agency.

Even if one accepts Israel’s propaganda about aid deliveries under Netanyahu’s latest announcement, they will continue to fall well short of what is required. Israel Army Radio reported that 350 aid trucks could now reach Gaza each day, up from the current level of 200. This would amount to just 70 percent of the 500 aid trucks that arrived in Gaza each day prior to Israel’s assault. The claim that 200 trucks are currently arriving each day is rejected by independent sources, with Oxfam stating that an average of 105 trucks reach Gaza daily.

Since the beginning of Israel’s genocidal onslaught, government officials have made no secret about their intention to ethnically cleanse Gaza and use starvation as a weapon of war. From Defence Minister Yoav Gallant’s infamous remark describing Palestinians as “human animals,” to former Israeli National Security Council head Giora Eiland’s statement that “severe epidemics in the south of the Gaza Strip will bring victory closer and reduce casualties among IDF soldiers,” and Finance Minister Bezalil Smotrich’s demand for “the voluntary emigration of the Gaza Arabs to the countries of the world,” the Zionist regime has left no doubt about its determination to kill a large portion of Gaza’s population and forcibly expel the rest.

In this context, the most plausible explanation is that the massacre of the WCK workers was a carefully considered decision taken at the highest levels of the Israeli state in consultation with Washington aimed at sabotaging aid supplies into Gaza and thereby escalating the genocide. The three clearly marked vehicles were struck separately along a 2.4-kilometre stretch of road. Biden and Netanyahu are now trying to manage the diplomatic fallout.

According to OXFAM, the approximately 300,000 people believed to be stranded in northern Gaza have been surviving on just 12 percent of the recommended daily calorie intake since January. The 245 calories consumed on average equate to less than a can of fava beans. For the Gaza Strip as a whole, aid deliveries allowed in by Israel since the start of its bombardment account for just 41 percent of the recommended calories required by the entire population. The aid organisation’s 3 April press release noted, “The Israeli government has known for nearly two decades exactly how many daily calories are needed to prevent malnutrition in Gaza, calculating this according to both age and gender within its Food Consumption in the Gaza Strip – Red Line document. Not only did it use a higher calculation of 2,279 calories per person, it also took into account domestic food production in Gaza, which the Israeli military has now virtually obliterated.”

Figures from the UN and Palestinian Red Crescent Society estimate that 50,000 children are acutely malnourished. Malnourishment has claimed the lives of 31 children so far, with the figure expected to rise as famine sets in. Oxfam International executive director Amitabh Behar stated what is becoming increasingly obvious to millions of people around the world, “Israel is making deliberate choices to starve civilians. Imagine what it is like, not only to be trying to survive on 245 calories day in, day out, but also having to watch your children or elderly relatives do the same. All whilst displaced, with little to no access to clean water or a toilet, knowing most medical support has gone and under the constant threat of drones and bombs.”

The bombs supplied to Israel by US imperialism and its European allies continue to rain down on Gaza. AT least 54 Palestinians were confirmed dead in the previous 24 hours Friday, taking the official death toll to 33,091. A strike that demolished a house in the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza later in the day killed three. According to UNRWA’s latest figures, 62 percent of all residences in Gaza have either been destroyed or damaged since the genocide began.

Amid such horrific crimes, the imperialist powers remain fully committed to participating in the “final solution” of the Palestinian question. American imperialism supports the genocide as part of a broader plan to wage a region-wide war with Israel’s support against Iran with the aim of consolidating its dominance over the energy-rich Middle East.

At a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council Friday, both the United States and Germany voted against a resolution calling for a halt of arms sales to Israel. The non-binding declaration, which passed by 28 votes to 6 with 13 abstentions, also urged that Israel be held accountable for possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

Washington and Berlin cannot support such propositions because any genuine war crimes tribunal would have to include President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, Chancellor Scholz, and Foreign Minister Baerbock alongside Netanyahu in the dock. While the Biden Administration has delivered over 100 shipments of high-powered weaponry to Israel since October, Germany increased its weapons shipments ten-fold to Israel after Netanyahu’s fascistic government launched the genocide. On Monday and Tuesday next week, the International court of Justice in The Hague will hold hearings in a case brought by Nicaragua accusing Germany of complicity in genocide due to its arms shipments to Israel and declarations by government officials of unconditional support for the Zionist regime as it massacred civilians.

6 April 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

The Forever Failure of America’s Failed Forever Wars

By Nick Turse

Dressed in green military fatigues and a blue garrison cap, Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, a spokesperson for Niger’s ruling junta, took to local television last month to criticize the United States and sever the long-standing military partnership between the two countries. “The government of Niger, taking into account the aspirations and interests of its people, revokes, with immediate effect, the agreement concerning the status of United States military personnel and civilian Defense Department employees,” he said, insisting that their 12-year-old security pact violated Niger’s constitution.

Another sometime Nigerien spokesperson, Insa Garba Saidou, put it in blunter terms: “The American bases and civilian personnel cannot stay on Nigerien soil any longer.”

The announcements came as terrorism in the West African Sahel has spiked and in the wake of a visit to Niger by a high-level American delegation, including Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee and General Michael Langley, chief of U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM. Niger’s repudiation of its ally is just the latest blow to Washington’s sputtering counterterrorism efforts in the region. In recent years, longstanding U.S. military partnerships with Burkina Faso and Mali have also been curtailed following coups by U.S.-trained officers. Niger was, in fact, the last major bastion of American military influence in the West African Sahel.

Such setbacks there are just the latest in a series of stalemates, fiascos, or outright defeats that have come to typify America’s Global War on Terror. During 20-plus years of armed interventions, U.S. military missions have been repeatedly upended across Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, including a sputtering stalemate in Somalia, an intervention-turned-blowback-engine in Libya, and outright implosions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This maelstrom of U.S. defeat and retreat has left at least 4.5 million people dead, including an estimated 940,000 from direct violence, more than 432,000 of them civilians, according to Brown University’s Costs of War Project. As many as 60 million people have also been displaced due to the violence stoked by America’s “forever wars.”

President Biden has both claimed that he’s ended those wars and that the United States will continue to fight them for the foreseeable future — possibly forever — “to protect the people and interests of the United States.” The toll has been devastating, particularly in the Sahel, but Washington has largely ignored the costs borne by the people most affected by its failing counterterrorism efforts.

“Reducing Terrorism” Leads to a 50,000% Increase in… Yes!… Terrorism

Roughly 1,000 U.S. military personnel and civilian contractors are deployed to Niger, most of them near the town of Agadez at Air Base 201 on the southern edge of the Sahara desert. Known to locals as “Base Americaine,” that outpost has been the cornerstone of an archipelago of U.S. military bases in the region and is the key to America’s military power projection and surveillance efforts in North and West Africa. Since the 2010s, the U.S. has sunk roughly a quarter-billion dollars into that outpost alone.

Washington has been focused on Niger and its neighbors since the opening days of the Global War on Terror, pouring military aid into the nations of West Africa through dozens of “security cooperation” efforts, among them the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, a program designed to “counter and prevent violent extremism” in the region. Training and assistance to local militaries offered through that partnership has alone cost America more than $1 billion.

Just prior to his recent visit to Niger, AFRICOM’s General Langley went before the Senate Armed Services Committee to rebuke America’s longtime West African partners. “During the past three years, national defense forces turned their guns against their own elected governments in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, and Niger,” he said. “These juntas avoid accountability to the peoples they claim to serve.”

Langley did not mention, however, that at least 15 officers who benefited from American security cooperation have been involved in 12 coups in West Africa and the greater Sahel during the Global War on Terror. They include the very nations he named: Burkina Faso (2014, 2015, and twice in 2022); Guinea (2021); Mali (2012, 2020, and 2021); and Niger (2023). In fact, at least five leaders of a July coup in Niger received U.S. assistance, according to an American official. When they overthrew that country’s democratically elected president, they, in turn, appointed five U.S.-trained members of the Nigerien security forces to serve as governors.

Langley went on to lament that, while coup leaders invariably promise to defeat terrorist threats, they fail to do so and then “turn to partners who lack restrictions in dealing with coup governments… particularly Russia.” But he also failed to lay out America’s direct responsibility for the security freefall in the Sahel, despite more than a decade of expensive efforts to remedy the situation.

“We came, we saw, he died,” then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joked after a U.S.-led NATO air campaign helped overthrow Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi, the longtime Libyan dictator, in 2011. President Barack Obama hailed the intervention as a success, even as Libya began to slip into near-failed-state status. Obama would later admit that “failing to plan for the day after” Qaddafi’s defeat was the “worst mistake” of his presidency.

As the Libyan leader fell, Tuareg fighters in his service looted his regime’s weapons caches, returned to their native Mali, and began to take over the northern part of that nation. Anger in Mali’s armed forces over the government’s ineffective response resulted in a 2012 military coup led by Amadou Sanogo, an officer who learned English in Texas, and underwent infantry-officer basic training in Georgia, military-intelligence instruction in Arizona, and mentorship by Marines in Virginia.

Having overthrown Mali’s democratic government, Sanogo proved hapless in battling local militants who had also benefitted from the arms flowing out of Libya. With Mali in chaos, those Tuareg fighters declared their own independent state, only to be pushed aside by heavily armed Islamist militants who instituted a harsh brand of Shariah law, causing a humanitarian crisis. A joint French, American, and African mission prevented Mali’s complete collapse but pushed the Islamists to the borders of both Burkina Faso and Niger, spreading terror and chaos to those countries.

Since then, the nations of the West African Sahel have been plagued by terrorist groups that have evolved, splintered, and reconstituted themselves. Under the black banners of jihadist militancy, men on motorcycles armed with Kalashnikov rifles regularly roar into villages to impose zakat (an Islamic tax) and terrorize and kill civilians. Relentless attacks by such armed groups have not only destabilized Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, prompting coups and political instability, but have spread south to countries along the Gulf of Guinea. Violence has, for example, spiked in Togo (633%) and Benin (718%), according to Pentagon statistics.

American officials have often turned a blind eye to the carnage. Asked about the devolving situation in Niger, for instance, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel recently insisted that security partnerships in West Africa “are mutually beneficial and are intended to achieve what we believe to be shared goals of detecting, deterring, and reducing terrorist violence.”  His pronouncement is either an outright lie or a total fantasy.

After 20 years, it’s clear that America’s Sahelian partnerships aren’t “reducing terrorist violence” at all. Even the Pentagon tacitly admits this. Despite U.S. troop strength in Niger growing by more than 900% in the last decade and American commandos training local counterparts, while fighting and even dying there; despite hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into Burkina Faso in the form of training as well as equipment like armored personnel carriers, body armor, communications gear, machine guns, night-vision equipment, and rifles; and despite U.S. security assistance pouring into Mali and its military officers receiving training from the United States, terrorist violence in the Sahel has in no way been reduced. In 2002 and 2003, according to State Department statistics, terrorists caused 23 casualties in all of Africa. Last year, according to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a Pentagon research institution, attacks by Islamist militants in the Sahel alone resulted in 11,643 deaths – an increase of more than 50,000%.

Pack Up Your War

In January 2021, President Biden entered the White House promising to end his country’s forever wars.  He quickly claimed to have kept his pledge. “I stand here today for the first time in 20 years with the United States not at war,” Biden announced months later. “We’ve turned the page.”

Late last year, however, in one of his periodic “war powers” missives to Congress, detailing publicly acknowledged U.S. military operations around the world, Biden said just the opposite. In fact, he left open the possibility that America’s forever wars might, indeed, go on forever. “It is not possible,” he wrote, “to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of United States Armed Forces that are or will be necessary to counter terrorist threats to the United States.”

Niger’s U.S.-trained junta has made it clear that it wants America’s forever war there to end. That would assumedly mean the closing of Air Base 201 and the withdrawal of about 1,000 American military personnel and contractors. So far, however, Washington shows no signs of acceding to their wishes. “We are aware of the March 16th statement… announcing an end to the status of forces agreement between Niger and the United States,” said Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh. “We are working through diplomatic channels to seek clarification… I don’t have a timeframe of any withdrawal of forces.”

“The U.S. military is in Niger at the request of the Government of Niger,” said AFRICOM spokesperson Kelly Cahalan last year. Now that the junta has told AFRICOM to leave, the command has little to say. Email return receipts show that TomDispatch’s questions about developments in Niger sent to AFRICOM’s press office were read by a raft of personnel including Cahalan, Zack Frank, Joshua Frey, Yvonne Levardi, Rebekah Clark Mattes, Christopher Meade, Takisha Miller, Alvin Phillips, Robert Dixon, Lennea Montandon, and Courtney Dock, AFRICOM’s deputy director of public affairs, but none of them answered any of the questions posed. Cahalan instead referred TomDispatch to the State Department. The State Department, in turn, directed TomDispatch to the transcript of a press conference dealing primarily with U.S. diplomatic efforts in the Philippines.

“USAFRICOM needs to stay in West Africa… to limit the spread of terrorism across the region and beyond,” General Langley told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March.  But Niger’s junta insists that AFRICOM needs to go and U.S. failures to “limit the spread of terrorism” in Niger and beyond are a key reason why.  “This security cooperation did not live up to the expectations of Nigeriens — all the massacres committed by the jihadists were carried out while the Americans were here,” said a Nigerien security analyst who has worked with U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

America’s forever wars, including the battle for the Sahel, have ground on through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden with failure the defining storyline and catastrophic results the norm. From the Islamic State routing the U.S.-trained Iraqi army in 2014 to the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan in 2021, from the forever stalemate in Somalia to the 2011 destabilization of Libya that plunged the Sahel into chaos and now threatens the littoral states along the Gulf of Guinea, the Global War on Terror has been responsible for the deaths, wounding, or displacement of tens of millions of people.

Carnage, stalemate, and failure seem to have had remarkably little effect on Washington’s desire to continue funding and fighting such wars, but facts on the ground like the Taliban’s triumph in Afghanistan have sometimes forced Washington’s hand. Niger’s junta is pursuing another such path, attempting to end an American forever war in one small corner of the world — doing what President Biden pledged but failed to do. Still, the question remains: Will the Biden administration reverse a course that the U.S. has been on since the early 2000s?  Will it agree to set a date for withdrawal? Will Washington finally pack up its disastrous war and go home?

Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch and a fellow at the Type Media Center.

3 April 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

Gazan Outside Al Shifa: ‘We remain Steadfast…Will Not Leave Our Homeland’

By Dr Marwan Asmar

We will die here, we will be buried here” a Palestinian woman bellows outside the destroyed Al Shifa Hospital

EDITOR’S NOTE: What follows is pledge from a Palestinian lady, who came to witness the destruction of the Al Shifa health complex just after the Israeli army pulled out after 14 days of mayhem, killing and disaster beginning 18 March, 2024. Her comments are slightly edited for brevity.

“We remain steadfast here and we will not leave our homeland,” a Palestinian lady outside Al Shifa Hospital tells the camera after the Israeli army left the complex after totally devastating the area.

She tells people around her to say “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) which they immediately do as heard in the videoclip.

“We are remaining in this country and we will never leave it,” she emphasizes.

“We will never leave here. We will rebuild it, and we will put it back together again and return to our homes once again.” These are the ones that were decimated by the Israeli war machine since 7 October.

“Anyone who leaves this place is wrong, so please: No one must think of leaving this land,” whilst calling on the people of Gaza, the great majority of whom were displaced from their homes and made into internal starving refugees to “stay steadfast on this land.

We will die here, we will be buried here,” she added defiantly in the videoclip.

“This land is the country of our ancestors, we will never leave it, Inshallah (God willing) we will firmly stay here despite what you see here” (in terms of carnage and destruction).

“The martyrs killed here are martyrs in heaven. My son is a martyr, my husband is a martyr killed in this war. My house of five-stories perished…it was hellish, I went from house to house, wherever we went were missiled. I moved to Al Shifa Hospital, the Israelis trapped me, I went outside, they surrounded me, I came here, they trapped me again, but I remain steadfast, I will never leave my homeland.

We will not wait for the world [to do something], We seek help only from God…we don’t want anything from the world, we have Allah on our side, Our God, there is no despair from the spirit of Allah.”

Dr Marwan Asmar is a writer from Amman, Jordan

3 April 2024

Source: countercurrents.org

Details show Israel’s airstrike on World Central Kitchen staff was deliberate

By Andre Damon

On Monday night, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) killed seven international aid workers from World Central Kitchen (WCK) in Gaza in an airstrike on their vehicle convoy as it was returning to their warehouse.

The attack used precision munitions directly targeting the roofs of the vehicles, which displayed large logos clearly identifying their occupants as humanitarian workers.

World Central Kitchen had informed the Israeli military of its travel plans, meaning that the Israeli military would have been fully aware of the vehicles it was attacking.

Herzi Halevi, the chief of staff of Israel’s armed forces, claimed that the attack was a “grave mistake” and a “misidentification.” While White House spokesman John Kirby declared that “there’s no evidence” that the attack was “deliberate.”

These claims are belied both by the direct circumstances of the attacks and by Israel’s systematic targeting of food distribution workers as part of its systematic effort to starve the population of Gaza.

In a statement condemning the attack, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the attack brings the number of humanitarian workers killed in Gaza “to 196 – including more than 175 members of our own UN staff.”

Over the past month, Israel has killed hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza at food distribution centers in so-called “flour massacres,” including one in late February that killed at least 112 and injured more than 700.

Francesca Albanese, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, said in a statement on Tuesday, “Knowing how Israel operates, my assessment is that Israeli forces intentionally killed #WCK workers so that donors would pull out and civilians in Gaza could continue to be starved quietly.”

In its investigation of the killing, Al Jazeera found that the three vehicles transporting the aid workers were targeted one at a time.

After leaving the World Central Kitchen’s warehouse, the first vehicle in the convoy was struck approximately one mile down the road. Al Jazeera reported that “the injured were transferred from the first targeted car to another armoured vehicle to expedite their transport.”

Al Jazeera’s investigation found that “the second vehicle was targeted approximately 800 metres (2,525 feet) away from where the first was hit. The third car was targeted about 1.6km (nearly a mile) away from the second car.” Based on these facts, Al Jazeera’s Sanad Verification Agency “found that the attacks were, in fact, intentional.”

World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore said in a statement, “This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable.”

The aid organization said the victims were from Australia, Poland, United Kingdom, a dual citizen of the US and Canada, and Palestine.

After World Central Kitchen released the names and photos of the aid workers later in the day on Tuesday, Gore added, “These are the heroes of World Central Kitchen. These 7 beautiful souls were killed by the IDF in a strike as they were returning from a full day’s mission. Their smiles, laughter, and voices are forever embedded in our memories. And we have countless memories of them giving their best selves to the world. We are reeling from our loss. The world’s loss.”

In a statement Tuesday, US President Joe Biden attempted to verbally distance himself from the massacre, saying, “I am outraged and heartbroken by the deaths of seven humanitarian workers from World Central Kitchen.”

But when asked whether the killing was a war crime, White House spokesman John Kirby categorically asserted that it was not and that Israel has not committed any violations of international law during the entire conflict.

“To date,” Kirby said, the US government “have not found any incidents where the Israelis have violated international humanitarian law.”

When asked by a shocked reporter whether the White House was really claiming that Israel has “never violated international humanitarian law ever in the past five to six months,” Kirby replied, “the State Department has looked at incidents in the past and has yet to determine that any of those incidents violate international humanitarian law.”

The latest massacre comes as Israel is moving ever closer to its planned assault on Rafah, where over 1 million displaced refugees are sheltering. The city, which has swelled into a massive tent camp, is being bombarded on a daily basis.

In a statement over the weekend, the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention warned that Israel’s ongoing bombing of Rafah “could be the opening salvo to Israel’s promised ground invasion of the town, which is home to the critical crossing to Egypt.” The institute concluded, “This bombing is a genocidal act conducted by Israel against a trapped civilian population.”

It concluded, “There is no way to ensure that protection in urban combat with an army that has proved to be motivated by genocidal zeal.”

Over the past 48 hours, US officials effectively gave Israel a green light to proceed with its assault on Rafah. On Monday, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that the scenario in which “Israel does nothing about the Hamas fighters that continue to exist in Rafah” is not an “acceptable alternative.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre added, “We also know that there are Hamas operatives in Rafah as well. But if they’re going to move forward with military operations, we have to have this conversation. We have to understand how they’re going to move forward.”

The damage that has been inflicted on the Gaza Strip with the full backing of the Biden administration is beyond devastating. In a report published Tuesday, the United Nations and World Bank found that Israel caused $18.5 billion worth of damage to infrastructure in Gaza in just the first month of the onslaught.

This figure is equivalent to 97 percent of the combined gross domestic product of all of the Palestinian territories in 2022. The report concluded, “An estimated 26 million tons of debris and rubble have been left in the wake of the destruction, an amount that is estimated to take years to remove.”

It noted that over a million people are without homes, and 75 percent of the population has been displaced.

A staggering 84 percent of health facilities have been damaged or destroyed, and virtually the whole sanitation system has collapsed. Almost the entire student population is out of school, as the education system has been shattered.

In a statement Tuesday, the Palestinian Ministry of Education said that 6,050 Palestinian students have been killed by Israel since October 7.

3 April 2024

Source: countercurrents.org