Monthly Archives: November 2015

How Long Before Trump Demands Muslims Wear Yellow Crescents?

trump

Something like this? On the shoulder or above the heart? Whaddya tink, Donald?

crescent

‘ISIS Tightens Grip On Libya’ – United Nations

As members of the lunatic right in the U.S., aka the Republican presidential contenders, ratchet up their war cries in the wake of the disaster in Paris, they would be wise to pause first and read and reflect upon this report, based on a United Nations assessment, dealing with the growth of ISIS influence in Central Libya.

Extreme jihadism was not entirely unknown in Libya before the fall of Gaddafi but it was confined to the eastern city of Benghazi and surrounding region, and Gaddafi, who was a fervent opponent of radical Islam, cracked down hard whenever it showed itself. The Muslim Brotherhood, for example, was illegal when I lived and worked in the country way back in the early 1970’s.

The crisis that led to NATO’s intervention and the fall and death of Gaddafi was sparked by rioting in Benghazi largely led by jihadi types who had been allowed out, or had escaped from jail, and Gaddafi’s threat to end the violence was conveniently interpreted by the West and liberal interventionists like Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power, using the opportune cover of the Arab Spring, as a threat by Gaddafi to massacre thousands of civilians.

The threat was a bogus one; Gaddafi really intended to put down the jihadists but NATO’s military intervention, actually on the jihadists’ behalf, opened up another Pandora’s Box, the consequences of which are detailed, sadly, in the U.N. report described below.

The parallel with Syria, where American and Arab Sunni military aid to ostensibly moderate anti-Assad elements, ‘fell’ into ISIS hands, is unfortunately uncanny.

It is what happens when the lunatics are allowed to run the asylum:

ISIS is tightening its grip in Libya

libyaREUTERS/Stringer
A member of the Libyan pro-government forces stands in front of the ruins of a shopping mall in Benghazi, Libya, May 21, 2015. Libya, which has descended into near anarchy since NATO warplanes helped rebels overthrow former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 civil war, is now the third big stronghold for Sunni Islamist group Islamic State.

All sides in Libya’s multiple armed conflicts are committing breaches of international law that may amount to war crimes, including abductions, torture and the killing of civilians, according to a U.N. report.

Islamic State (IS) has gained control over swathes of territory, “committing gross abuses including public summary executions of individuals based on their religion or political allegiance”, the joint report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the U.N. Support Mission in Libya said.

The U.N. had documented IS executions in their stronghold city of Sirte, in central Libya along the Mediterranean coast, and in Derna to the east, from which they were later ousted by local militias. Victims included Egyptian Copts, Ethiopians, Eritreans and a South Sudanese, the report said.

Some were accused of “treason”, others of same-sex relations, but none were given due legal process, according to the report, which covered the year through October.

Libyan armed groups pledging allegiance to IS-controlled areas of central Libya including Sirte, Harawa and Nofliya, and have claimed responsibility for attacks, including on oil fields, checkpoints and petrol stations, the report said.

One of the members of the military protecting a demonstration against candidates for a national unity government proposed by U.N. envoy for Libya Bernardino Leon, is pictured in Benghazi, Libya October 23, 2015. REUTERS/Esam Omran Al-Fetori(Thomson Reuters – One of the members of the military protecting a demonstration against candidates for a national unity government proposed by U.N. envoy for Libya Bernardino Leon, is pictured in Benghazi)

Four years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is locked in a conflict between two rival governments – an official one in the east and a self-declared one controlling the capital Tripoli – and the many armed factions that back them.

All parties to the conflicts were violating international human rights law by committing indiscriminate attacks that harmed civilians, including summary executions, arbitrary imprisonment and use of torture, the U.N. report said.

Perpetrators, including political leaders and commanders of armed groups, are liable to prosecution by the International Criminal Court, it said, and the Hague-based ICC was already investigating the situation.

“Many migrants, asylum seekers and refugees become victims of brutal violence, coercion and abuse perpetrated by smugglers along smuggling routes, as well as in so-called ‘connection houses’, where they await departure to Europe,” the report said.

The report also said warring factions had used imprecise weaponry in densely-populated residential areas, often resulting in indiscriminate attacks causing civilian deaths and damage to infrastructure including hospitals.

After Paris: Everything You Wanted To Know About ISIS But Were Afraid To Ask

This, from WashingtonsBlog, is an interesting, if controversial, take on the origins and development of ISIS.

Some may not like the idea proclaimed by the blog that the West, and the U.S. in particular, were, along with allied Sunni states in the MidEast and Gulf, largely responsible for creating the monster. But that’s not exactly breaking news. Even President Obama now concedes this, as you can see in an interview featured in the article.

What Obama doesn’t say, but I suspect knows full well, is that the blame falls most heavily on the shoulders of those neoconservatives in Washington and elsewhere who inspired and plotted the invasion of Iraq and by so doing set in motion the events that led to Friday night in Paris.

Always remember this simple truth: the neocons opened this Pandora’s Box.

The same forces were at work in Britain when the decision was taken by the Cameron government to topple the Libyan leader, Col. Gaddafi, with similar disastrous consequences. The attempt to more recently do to the Syrian leader, Assad what was done to Gaddafi, set the stage for ISIS’ bloody emergence.

I remember arguing with American friends when Obama began his assault on the Syrian regime that the only people who would benefit would be the hardline jihadists and that America would soon rue the day it turned down this road. But with the U.S. media beating the war drums in the background, my words fell on deaf ears.

The parallels are very far from exact, not least in terms of scale, but reading this history of ISIS and the impact U.S. policy has had on its development, I couldn’t help but reflect on how the stupid policies of the British military and government, urged along by their Unionist and Loyalist ‘allies’, were in the early years of the Troubles similarly the single most persuasive factor determining the growth of the Provisional IRA.

It took the best part of thirty years to come near settling our little difficulty – and it’s still far from solved – in a place that is a fraction of the size of the Middle East, with a much simpler history and demographic make up, with a common language, much less violence and access to heavy weaponry, and many cultural similarities. How long then is it going to take to sort out the mess made by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and their buddies?

As Clarence Darrow once said: ‘History repeats itself, and that’s one of the things that’s wrong with history.’

Just follow the links. I hesitate to say enjoy but you know what I mean:

Context for Paris Terror Attack: U.S. and Its Allies C-R-E-A-T-E-D ISIS

We are horrified by the terror attack in Paris, and send our prayers and good wishes to the French people (we were just there on a wonderful family vacation).

Here’s the context that we dare the Western press to discuss: the U.S. and its allies CREATED ISIS. And see this.

Gerry Adams’ Niece Now Heads RNU In Belfast

UPDATED BELOW

As regular followers of this blog are likely to know, controversy last week raged around the issue of Mairia Cahill’s membership of RNU, the Republican Network for Unity, widely believed to be associated with the paramilitary dissident group, Oglaigh na hEireann.

The immediate motivation for the furore, which at one stage saw Senator David Norris and Catherine McCartney take up cudgels against Cahill, was Mairia Cahill’s attempt to get elected to Seanad Eireann on the Labour party ticket. Despite the attacks, on Friday she was elected and is now a full time Irish politician.

Mairia Cahill - elected to the irish Senate but under pressure over her links to dissidents

Mairia Cahill – elected to the irish Senate but under pressure over her links to dissidents

Mairia Cahill has, of course, also been a burr under the saddle of Sinn Fein – and a swingeing critic of SF president Gerry Adams – for some time, largely because of her persuasive and damaging allegations of a Sinn Fein/Provisional IRA cover up of her rape by a leading West Belfast Provo.

Not surprisingly the internet was last week humming with anonymous and sometimes not so anonymous allegations detailing Mairia Cahill’s alleged links with RNU and other dissident groups, many of which seemed focussed on trying to undermine her narrative concerning the IRA/Sinn Fein role in concealing her rape.

The Norris/McCartney charge against Cahill was, in contrast, based only on her one-time membership of RNU, a dissident republican group with roots in the McKevitt-led Real IRA that is opposed, inter alia, to the Good Friday Agreement, the Stormont power-sharing government, the PSNI and most of the institutions established as a consequence of the peace process.

After resisting efforts by the media to interview her, Mairia Cahill finally issued a statement saying that she had indeed been a member of RNU in 2010, had served as national secretary but resigned after ‘a few hours’, and offered an apology saying her membership had been ‘the wrong thing to do’.

While Sinn Fein surrogates are suspected of involvement in last week’s internet campaign against Mairia Cahill, the party itself remained largely silent.

Gerry Adams - his niece heads RNU in Belfast

Gerry Adams – his niece heads RNU in Belfast

It now seems there may have been a reason for that silence and it lies in the fact that six weeks ago, or so,  Gerry Adams’ niece, Sinead Adams was elected Belfast chairperson of RNU.

Sinead is another daughter of Liam Adams, Gerry’s brother who was convicted and jailed for sexually assaulting his other daughter, Aine Dahlstrom. Sinead apparently gave evidence supporting her sister during Liam Adams’ trial. That means that animosity to Gerry for turning against his brother does not seem to have motivated her political journey into RNU.

The news that the party president’s niece was elected to a position of leadership in a dissident group that the party was attempting to link to and smear Mairia Cahill with, was not, one presumes, something that Sinn Fein was all that keen to circulate, or even risk emerging in the media.

The RNU announcement can be found on its West Belfast Facebook page, which is here:

RNU Béal Feirste elects a new Comhairle Ceantair

Last week, Republican Network for Unity in Béal Feirste elected a new Comhairle Ceantair to steer the movement in the City into the 100th anniversary year of the 1916 Easter Rising.

The four members elected have been key personnel in driving forward the party’s strategy in Belfast over the last 12 months and have vowed to step it up a gear to ensure RNU continue to build upon firm ground and strengthen the Republican position.

Belfast Public Relations Officer and Student activist Nathan Stuart commented:

“The newly elected Comhairle Ceantair is a clear indication of RNU’s progressive outlook, its membership reflects the party’s desire for both its youth and female membership to be represented throughout all leadership levels.”

“We seek to further develop working relationships with other progressive groups as we believe that only through a united approach can the major obstacles facing Belfast such as cuts to healthcare and education, racism and sectarianism be tackled in an effective way.”

“Our Belfast activists have elected us to do a job, to spread the Republican message throughout working class communities in the city, firmly making our position relevant. We are determined to converting the young, vibrant and radical energy into fostering Republicanism throughout Belfast.”

RNU

Left to right is Nathan Stuart (Belfast Public Relations Officer), Cáit Nic Shomhairle (Belfast Secretary), Sinead Adams (Belfast Chairperson), Freddy Clarke (Belfast Treasurer)

‘Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Bad For Medicine’ – Medicin Sans Frontieres

This, MSF’s swingeing criticism of the medical implications of the Trans Pacific Partnership, from Executive Intelligence Review

PRESS RELEASE

Doctors Without Borders Warns: With the TPP, Affordable Medicines for Millions Will Disappear

Nov. 8, 2015 (EIRNS)—In a strongly worded statement released Nov. 5, Doctors Without Borders/Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), warned that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), whose text was just made public, “is a bad deal for medicine; it’s bad for humanitarian medical treatment providers such as MSF, and it’s bad for people who need access to affordable medicines around the world, including in the United States.” The statement was issued in the name of Judit Rius Sanjuan, U.S. manager and legal policy adviser for MSF’s Access Campaign.

Pointedly referencing the Obama Administration, the statement warns that “the provisions in the TPP will not only raise the price of medicines and cause unnecessary suffering, but they also represent a complete departure from the U.S. government’s previous commitments to global health, including safeguards included in the U.S.’s 2007 ‘New Trade Policy.’”

“MSF remains gravely concerned about the effects that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal will have on access to affordable medicines for millions of people, if it is enacted,” MSF states.

The TPP text, “confirms that the deal will further delay price-lowering generic competition by extending and strengthening monopoly market protections for pharmaceutical companies…. It is very concerning to see that the U.S. government and pharmecutical companies have succeeded in locking in rules that will keep medicine prices high for longer and limit the tools that governments and civil society have to try to increase generic competition…”

If enacted, MSF warns, “the TPP will not allow national regulatory authorities to use existing data that demonstrates a biological product’s safety and efficacy to authorize the sale of competitor products, even in the absence of patents. The TPP would also force governments to extend existing patent monopolies beyond current 20-year terms at the request of pharmaceutical companies…”

MSF urges all legislatures or parliaments of those nations that signed the TPP, “to carefully consider whether the agreed TPP text reflects the direction they want to take on access to affordable medicines and promotion of biomedical innovation; if it does not, the TPP should be modified or rejected.”

‘Jeremy Corbyn Criticised For Not Bowing Deeply Enough At Cenotaph’ – Guardian Headline!

You couldn’t make it up.

Corbyn_bow

I thought the Guardian actually missed the real story, which was a) that Corbyn was there at all, b) acknowledged with a wreath of poppies a war (1914-1918) most historians agree was fought in the interests of British imperialism, and c) was wearing a smart suit complete with a neat shirt and tie. Michael Foot how are ye?

Michael Foot at the cenotaph

Michael Foot at the cenotaph

In which case perhaps the headline should really have read: “Left-wing Labour Leader’s House Training Going Well”.

Here’s the bow:

 

Blair Aide Jonathan Powell Discovers ‘There’s Gold In Them Thar Peace Deals!’

Powell’s NGO ‘works closely with MI6’, says Hillary Clinton email.

If, like myself, you were puzzled and even intrigued by the re-appearance in Belfast recently of Tony Blair’s ex-chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, and especially because he was in the company of Loyalist paramilitary leaders, then I may have an explanation.

But first a reminder of who Powell is and was.

A former journalist turned diplomat whose brother Charles, was Margaret Thatcher’s foreign policy adviser, Jonathan Powell teamed up with Blair in the early 1990’s after Blair ascended to the Labour leadership. And when Blair won the 1997 general election the new occupant of 10 Downing Street invited him to be his chief-of-staff.

Jonathan Powell, ex-Blair aide now runs Inter Mediate

Jonathan Powell, ex-Blair aide now runs Inter Mediate

It says a lot about Powell’s loyalty and value to Blair that he was the only one of his non-ministerial appointees to survive the often turbulent decade of New Labour in power. Not even Alastair Campbell could survive the machinations of New Labour, but Jonathan Powell somehow did.

In Ireland, of course, he will be remembered for his role as contact man between the IRA and Sinn Fein leadership and Downing Street during the seemingly endless negotiations that constituted the peace process.

Some of the other parties involved in the talks, many in Dublin but many more in Washington say that if the negotiations seemed to be unending then it was in no small measure down to Powell.

While the White House and the Irish Department of Justice believed, by the early 2000’s, that the time was ripe for playing hardball with the Provos, not least because Adams’ leadership was secure from dissident threat, Powell, supported by Blair, argued in favour of continuing the concession policy, presumably on the basis that the more the Provos were given, the more likely they would be to end their war and the less likely they would be shot in their beds by angry rivals.

The Powell/Blair approach also favoured turning a blind eye to continuing IRA activity – the December 2004, £26.5 million robbery of the Northern Bank in Belfast being a glaring example – in case hardliners took offense and turned against Adams.

The result was that the peace process became a world without end. And from the Provos’ point of view, why not? If Blair & Co were ready to give, give and give, why should they, of all people, call a halt?

The tensions between the three governments over the Blair/Powell approach to the IRA was, perhaps, best illustrated by the review of Powell’s post-peace process memoir, ‘Great Hatred, Little Room…’ written by the Bush ambassador to the peace process, Mitchell Reiss.

It contained this immortal paragraph, which succinctly summarised the Powell/Blair approach to negotiating with the IRA:

In July 2005, the IRA had finally agreed to decommission all its weapons. At the last minute, Adams called No. 10 to demand that some of the weapons not be destroyed so that the IRA could arm itself against possible attacks from dissident members. Unless this was allowed, he threatened, decommissioning would not proceed. The Blair government conceded, but wanted to check with Dublin. Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell refused to acquiesce in the backsliding, despite enormous pressure. Powell told Adams of the problem, and Adams gave way. Decommissioning took place as planned.

What exactly transpired during the conversation between Powell and Adams is not known, but whatever was exchanged, it seems to have mollified the Sinn Fein leader. Perhaps the recent report commissioned by the British government following the IRA killing of Kevin McGuigan which revealed that not all the IRA weaponry was destroyed in the decommissioning process, and that much of the IRA’s organisational structure is still in place, contains a clue to their conversation.

When Blair left office, Jonathan Powell departed too. But while Blair almost immediately cashed in on the Irish peace process, securing the job of Middle East peace envoy amongst other lucrative opportunities – Powell became a banker, joining Morgan Stanley for a couple of years.

But then in 2011, having published a memoir of his time peace-making in Ireland, he decided it was time to cash in on his own experience and set up something called Inter Mediate, which describes its mission thus:

Inter Mediate’s mission is to advance conflict resolution and reconciliation through dialogue and mediation with the aim of achieving lasting settlement to violent and complex conflicts.

In 2014, Powell was appointed special UK envoy to Libya to engage in dialogue with the various warring groups, activity that doubtless has been performed via the good offices of Inter Mediate.

Thanks to some smart sleuthing by Chuck Ross of The Daily Caller, a libertarian website based in Washington DC, we now know a little more about Jonathan Powell’s Inter Mediate and its links to the British foreign policy establishment, including SIS, the Secret Intelligence Service aka MI6.

The evidence comes in the form of one of the thousands of emails that Hillary Clinton has been obliged to disclose to a Congressional committee investigating the background to the so-called Benghazi affair.

Hillary Clinton, then First Lady, meets new British Labour leader Tony Blair (right) at a reception in the home of SIdney Blumenthal (left)

Hillary Clinton, then First Lady, meets new British Labour leader Tony Blair (right) at a reception in the home of SIdney Blumenthal (left)

This particular email unearthed by Ross is from a close buddy of Hillary Clinton by the name of Sidney Blumenthal who, if this Ken Silverstein profile is a reliable guide, is one of the most odious figures in American politics. Blumenthal and Jonathan Powell have been friends since the early 1990’s, when Powell was First Secretary at the British embassy in Washington.

Here is the email, which unashamedly touts business for Powell. ‘H’ is Hillary Clinton and ‘Sid’ is Sidney Blumethal. Note Hillary’s response: ‘I’d like to see Powell when he’s in the building’:

Hill_email

You will also, I hope, notice the line: ‘We work closely with FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office), NSC (National Security Council) and SIS in London…..’

So anyone dealing with Jonathan Powell and Inter Mediate should be aware that everything they do and say will probably make its way back to MI6 headquarters.

MI6 Headquarters on the south bank of the River Thames

MI6 Headquarters on the south bank of the River Thames

That now includes Jackie McDonald of the UDA and Billy Hutchinson, leader of the PUP, the UVF’s political wing who met with Jonathan Powell, in his Inter Mediate capacity, in Belfast in mid-October and agreed the establishment of a new Loyalist Communities Council.

JOnathan Powell meets Jackie McDonald (UDA) on the right and Billy Hutchinson (PUP) on left.

Jonathan Powell meets Jackie McDonald (UDA) on the right and Billy Hutchinson (PUP) on left.

Amongst the remarks made by Powell in Belfast was a warning that Loyalist paramilitaries should be allowed to survive, i.e. made legal, or they could be overtaken by dissidents. Which was strange because most of the Loyalist groups seem pretty calm these days.

A cynic might point out that guaranteeing the existence of paramilitary groups is not bad either for the income stream of outfits like Inter Mediate.