Monthly Archives: November 2011
The possible deployment of Russian missiles near Alliance nations, in response to the missile defense system created by Washington in Europe, is “very disappointing”, bemoaned NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday.
Rasmussen, however, welcomed “President Medvedev’s willingness not to close the door on continued dialogue with NATO and the U.S. on missile defence,” reads a statement released by the Alliance.
This statement came on the heels of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s threat to deploy in western and southern Russia modern offensive systems which would ensure the destruction of European missile defense facilities should the U.S. continue its deployment.
Source: Ria Novosti, 24 November 2011.
November 6, 2011 “PTI” — At least 28 Pakistani soldiers were killed today when NATO helicopters and combat jets fired on two border posts in the country’s northwest, prompting army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to direct his troops to prepare for ”an effective response” even as authorities cut off all supplies for US forces in Afghanistan.
The attack, the worst single incident of its kind in one decade, looked set to plunge US-Pak relations, already deeply frayed, further into crisis.
A major and a captain of the Pakistan Army were among those killed when NATO aircraft fired at the borders posts in Baizai area of Mohmand tribal region at 2 am.
Fifteen more personnel were wounded and the death toll could rise as some of the injured were in a serious condition, several officials said.
A military statement said the NATO aircraft “carried out unprovoked firing” on the border posts.
Pakistani troops “effectively responded immediately in self-defence to NATO/ISAF’s aggression with all available weapons”.
Gen Kayani strongly condemned “NATO/ISAF’s blatant and unacceptable act”.
While lauding the effective response by Pakistani soldiers, he issued orders for taking all necessary steps for “an effective response to this irresponsible act”.
Within hours of the attack, Pakistani authorities sealed off the country’s border stopping all container trucks and tankers carrying supplies for US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir called in US Ambassador Cameron Munter to lodge a “strong protest on the unprovoked NATO/ISAF attack”, the Foreign Office said in a statement.
By SEBASTIAN ABBOT
November 26, 2011 “Associated Press” — ISLAMABAD — The Pakistani government has demanded the U.S. vacate an air base within 15 days that the CIA is suspected of using for unmanned drones.
The government issued the demand Saturday after NATO helicopters and jet fighters allegedly attacked two Pakistan army posts along the Afghan border, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers.
Islamabad outlined the demand in a statement it sent to reporters following an emergency defense committee meeting chaired by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Shamsi Air Base is located in southwestern Baluchistan province. The U.S. is suspected of using the facility in the past to launch armed drones and observation aircraft to keep pressure on Taliban and al-Qaida militants in Pakistan’s tribal region.
Pakistan stops NATO supplies after deadly raid
By Shams Momand
YAKKAGHUND, Pakistan (Reuters) – NATO helicopters and fighter jets attacked two military outposts in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing as many as 28 troops and plunging U.S.-Pakistan relations deeper into crisis.
Pakistan retaliated by shutting down NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, used for sending in nearly half of the alliance’s land shipments. It also said it would ask U.S. forces to quit an air base used for CIA drone strikes on militants.
The attack is the worst incident of its kind since Pakistan uneasily allied itself with Washington following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
The NATO-led force in Afghanistan confirmed that NATO aircraft had probably killed Pakistani soldiers in an area close to the Afghan-Pakistani border.
“Close air support was called in, in the development of the tactical situation, and it is what highly likely caused the Pakistan casualties,” said General Carsten Jacobson, spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
He added he could not confirm the number of casualties, but ISAF was investigating. “We are aware that Pakistani soldiers perished. We don’t know the size, the magnitude,” he said.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said the killings were “an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty”, adding: “We will not let any harm come to Pakistan’s sovereignty and solidarity.”
The Foreign Office said it would take up the matter “in the strongest terms” with NATO and the United States, while the Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, said steps would be taken to respond “to this irresponsible act”.
“A strong protest has been launched with NATO/ISAF in which it has been demanded that strong and urgent action be taken against those responsible for this aggression.”
Two military officials said up to 28 troops had been killed and 11 wounded in the attack on the outposts, about 2.5 km (1.5 miles) from the Afghan border. The Pakistani military said 24 troops were killed and 13 wounded.
EARLY MORNING ATTACK
The attack took place around 2 a.m. (2100 GMT) in the Baizai area of Mohmand, where Pakistani troops are fighting Taliban militants. Across the border is Afghanistan’s Kunar province, which has seen years of heavy fighting.
“Pakistani troops effectively responded immediately in self-defence to NATO/ISAF’s aggression with all available weapons,” the Pakistani military statement said.
The commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, General John R. Allen, offered his condolences to the family of Pakistani soldiers who “may have been killed or injured”.
Around 40 troops were stationed at the outposts, military sources said. Two officers were reported among the dead. “They without any reasons attacked on our post and killed soldiers asleep,” said a senior Pakistani officer, requesting anonymity.
The border is often poorly marked, and Afghan and Pakistani maps have differences of several kilometres in some places, military officials have said.
However Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said NATO had been given maps of the area, with Pakistani military posts identified.
“When the other side is saying there is a doubt about this, there is no doubt about it. These posts have been marked and handed over to the other side for marking on their maps and are clearly inside Pakistani territory.”
The incident occurred a day after Allen met Kayani to discuss border control and enhanced cooperation.
A senior military source told Reuters that after the meeting that set out “to build confidence and trust, these kind of attacks should not have taken place”.
Pakistan is a vital land route for nearly half of NATO supplies shipped overland to its troops in Afghanistan, a NATO spokesman said. Land shipments account for about two thirds of the alliance’s cargo shipments into Afghanistan.
Hours after the raid, NATO supply trucks and fuel tankers bound for Afghanistan were stopped at Jamrud town in the Khyber tribal region near the city of Peshawar, officials said.
The border crossing at Chaman in southwestern Baluchistan province was also closed, Frontier Corps officials said.
A meeting of the cabinet’s defence committee convened by Gilani “decided to close with immediate effect NATO/ISAF logistics supply lines,” according to a statement issued by Gilani’s office.
The committee decided to ask the United States to vacate, within 15 days, the Shamsi Air Base, a remote installation in Baluchistan used by U.S. forces for drone strikes which has long been at the centre of a dispute between Islamabad and Washington.
The meeting also decided the government would “revisit and undertake a complete review of all programmes, activities and cooperative arrangements with US/NATO/ISAF, including diplomatic, political, military and intelligence”.
A similar incident on Sept 30, 2010, which killed two Pakistani service personnel, led to the closure of one of NATO’s supply routes through Pakistan for 10 days. NATO apologised for that incident, which it said happened when NATO gunships mistook warning shots by Pakistani forces for a militant attack.
Relations between the United States and Pakistan were strained by the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in May, which Pakistan called a flagrant violation of sovereignty.
Pakistan’s jailing of a CIA contractor and U.S. accusations that Pakistan backed a militant attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul have added to the tensions.
“This will have a catastrophic effect on Pakistan-U.S. relations. The public in Pakistan are going to go berserk on this,” said Charles Heyman, senior defence analyst at British military website Armedforces.co.uk.
Other analysts, including Rustam Shah Mohmand, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, predicted Pakistan would protest and close the supply lines for some time, but that ultimately “things will get back to normal”.
(Additional reporting by Bushra Takseen, Saud Mehsud, Jibran Ahmad and Saeed Achakzai in Pakistan, Tim Castle in London, and Hamid Shalizi and Christine Kearney in Afghanistan; Writing by Augustine Anthony, Chris Allbritton and Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Andrew Roche)
Copyright © 2011 Reuters
The violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence. Occupy has touched the third rail of our political class’s venality
By Naomi Wolf
November 26, 2011 “The Guardian” – – vUS citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week. An elderly woman was pepper-sprayed in the face; the scene of unresisting, supine students at UC Davis being pepper-sprayed by phalanxes of riot police went viral online; images proliferated of young women – targeted seemingly for their gender – screaming, dragged by the hair by police in riot gear; and the pictures of a young man, stunned and bleeding profusely from the head, emerged in the record of the middle-of-the-night clearing of Zuccotti Park.
But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened. The National Union of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that appeared to target journalists. The New York Times reported that “New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers” covering protests. Reporters were asked by NYPD to raise their hands to prove they had credentials: when many dutifully did so, they were taken, upon threat of arrest, away from the story they were covering, and penned far from the site in which the news was unfolding. Other reporters wearing press passes were arrested and roughed up by cops, after being – falsely – informed by police that “It is illegal to take pictures on the sidewalk.”
In New York, a state supreme court justice and a New York City council member were beaten up; in Berkeley, California, one of our greatest national poets, Robert Hass, was beaten with batons. The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on “how to suppress” Occupy protests.
To Europeans, the enormity of this breach may not be obvious at first. Our system of government prohibits the creation of a federalised police force, and forbids federal or militarised involvement in municipal peacekeeping.
I noticed that rightwing pundits and politicians on the TV shows on which I was appearing were all on-message against OWS. Journalist Chris Hayes reported on a leaked memo that revealed lobbyists vying for an $850,000 contract to smear Occupy. Message coordination of this kind is impossible without a full-court press at the top. This was clearly not simply a case of a freaked-out mayors’, city-by-city municipal overreaction against mess in the parks and cranky campers. As the puzzle pieces fit together, they began to show coordination against OWS at the highest national levels.
Why this massive mobilisation against these not-yet-fully-articulated, unarmed, inchoate people? After all, protesters against the war in Iraq, Tea Party rallies and others have all proceeded without this coordinated crackdown. Is it really the camping? As I write, two hundred young people, with sleeping bags, suitcases and even folding chairs, are still camping out all night and day outside of NBC on public sidewalks – under the benevolent eye of an NYPD cop – awaiting Saturday Night Live tickets, so surely the camping is not the issue. I was still deeply puzzled as to why OWS, this hapless, hopeful band, would call out a violent federal response.
That is, until I found out what it was that OWS actually wanted.
The mainstream media was declaring continually “OWS has no message”. Frustrated, I simply asked them. I began soliciting online “What is it you want?” answers from Occupy. In the first 15 minutes, I received 100 answers. These were truly eye-opening.
The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process. No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.
No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.
When I saw this list – and especially the last agenda item – the scales fell from my eyes. Of course, these unarmed people would be having the shit kicked out of them.
For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, “we are going after these scruffy hippies”. Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women’s wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).
In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.
But wait: why on earth would Congress advise violent militarised reactions against its own peaceful constituents? The answer is straightforward: in recent years, members of Congress have started entering the system as members of the middle class (or upper middle class) – but they are leaving DC privy to vast personal wealth, as we see from the “scandal” of presidential contender Newt Gingrich’s having been paid $1.8m for a few hours’ “consulting” to special interests. The inflated fees to lawmakers who turn lobbyists are common knowledge, but the notion that congressmen and women are legislating their own companies’ profitsis less widely known – and if the books were to be opened, they would surely reveal corruption on a Wall Street spectrum. Indeed, we do already know that congresspeople are massively profiting from trading on non-public information they have on companies about which they are legislating – a form of insider trading that sent Martha Stewart to jail.
Since Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging agenda is going to look like. If legislating away lobbyists’ privileges to earn boundless fees once they are close to the legislative process, reforming the banks so they can’t suck money out of fake derivatives products, and, most critically, opening the books on a system that allowed members of Congress to profit personally – and immensely – from their own legislation, are two beats away from the grasp of an electorally organised Occupy movement … well, you will call out the troops on stopping that advance.
So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organised suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not.
Sadly, Americans this week have come one step closer to being true brothers and sisters of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Like them, our own national leaders, who likely see their own personal wealth under threat from transparency and reform, are now making war upon us.
Ex-ambassador exposes government cover-up
By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
November 25, 2011 “Information Clearing House” — Last February Britain’s then defense minister Liam Fox attended a dinner in Tel Aviv with a group described as senior Israelis. Alongside him sat Adam Werritty, a lobbyist whose “improper relations” with the minister would lead eight months later to Fox’s hurried resignation.
According to several reports in the British media the Israelis in attendance at the dinner were representatives of the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, while Fox and Werritty were accompanied by Matthew Gould, Britain’s ambassador to Israel. A former British diplomat has now claimed that the topic of discussion that evening was a secret plot to attack Iran.
The official inquiry castigating the UK’s former defence secretary for what has come to be known as a “cash-for-access” scandal appears to have only scratched the surface of what Fox and accomplice Adam Werritty may have been up to when they met for dinner in Tel Aviv.
Little was made of the dinner in the 10-page inquiry report published last month by Gus O’Donnell, the cabinet’s top civil servant.
Instead O’Donnell concentrated on other aspects of Werritty’s behaviour: the 33-year-old friend of Fox’s had presented himself as the minister’s official adviser and jetted around the world with him arranging meetings with businessmen.
The former minister’s allies, seeking to dismiss the gravity of the case against him, have described Werritty as a harmless dreamer. Following his resignation, Fox himself claimed O’Donnell’s report had exonerated him of putting national security at risk.
However, a spate of new concerns raised in the wake of the inquiry challenge both of these assumptions. These include questions about the transparency of the O’Donnell investigation, the extent of Fox and Werritty’s ties to Israel and the unexplained role of Gould.
Craig Murray, Britain’s former ambassador to Uzbekistan until 2004, when he turned whistle blower on British and US collusion on torture, said senior British government officials were profoundly disturbed by the O’Donnell inquiry, seeing it as a “white wash.”
Murray himself accused O’Donnell of being “at the most charitable interpretation, economical with the truth.”
Two well-placed contacts alerted Murray to Gould’s central – though largely ignored – role in the Fox-Werritty relationship, he said.
Murray has pieced together evidence that Fox, Werritty and Gould met on at least six occasions over the past two years or so, despite the O’Donnell inquiry claiming they had met only twice. Gould is the only ambassador Fox and Werritty are known to have met together.
In an inexplicable break with British diplomatic and governmental protocol, officials were not present at a single one of the six meetings between the three men. No record was taken of any of the discussions.
Murray, who first made public his concerns on his personal blog, said a source familiar with the O’Donnell inquiry told him the parameters of the investigation were designed to divert attention away from the more damaging aspects of Fox and Werritty’s behaviour.
Subsequently, the foreign office has refused to respond to questions, including from an MP, about the Tel Aviv dinner. Officials will not say who the Israelis were, what was discussed or even who paid for the evening, though under Whitehall rules all hospitality should be declared.
Also unexplained is why Fox rejected requests by his own staff to attend the dinner, and why Werritty was privy to such a high-level meeting when he had no security clearance.
Nonetheless, O’Donnell appeared inadvertently to confirm that Mossad representatives were present at the dinner during questioning from an MP at a meeting of the House of Commons’ Public Administration Committee this week.
Responding to a question about the dinner from opposition MP Paul Flynn, O’Donnell said: “The important point here was that, when the Secretary of State [Fox] had that meeting, he had an official with him—namely, in this case, the ambassador [Gould]. That is very important, and I should stress that I would expect our ambassador in Israel to have contact with Mossad. That will be part of his job.”
The real concern among government officials, Murray said, is that Fox, Werritty and Gould were conspiring in a “rogue” foreign policy – opposed to the British government’s stated aims – that was authored by Mossad and Israel’s neoconservative allies in Washington.
This suspicion was partially confirmed by a report in the Guardian last month, as O’Donnell was carrying out his investigation. It cited unnamed government officials saying they were worried that Fox and Werritty had been pursuing what was termed an “alternative” government policy.
Murray said the Tel Aviv dinner was especially significant. His contact with access to O’Donnell’s investigations had told him that the discussion that night focused on ways to ensure Britain assisted in creating favourable diplomatic conditions for an attack on Iran.
Israel is widely believed to favor a military strike on Iran, in an attempt to set back its nuclear program. Israel claims Tehran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon under cover of a civilian nuclear energy project.
Israel has its own large but undeclared nuclear arsenal and is known to be fearful of losing its nuclear monopoly in the region.
Britain, like many in the international community, including the US government, officially favors imposing sanctions on Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions.
The episode of the Tel Aviv dinner, Murray said, raises “vital concerns about a secret agenda for war at the core of government, comparable to [former British prime minister Tony] Blair’s determination to drive through a war on Iraq.”
The Guardian revealed this month that the defense ministry under Fox had drawn up detailed plans for British assistance in the event of a US military strike on Iran, including allowing the Americans to use Diego Garcia, a British territory in the Indian ocean, as a base from which to launch an attack.
The O’Donnell inquiry has done little to allay many officials’ concerns about the series of strange meetings involving Fox, Werritty and Gould.
David Cameron, the British prime minister, has so far refused opposition demands to hold a full public inquiry into Fox and Werritty’s relationship. And the three men at the centre of the saga have refused to discuss the nature of their ties.
This month revelations surfaced that Werritty had had dealings with other government ministers.
“It is deeply inadequate of the prime minister to continue to refuse to probe this issue further,” said shadow defense spokesman Kevan Jones, in response to the new information.
The British media have cautiously raised the issue of apparent Israeli links to Fox and Werritty.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the pair secretly met the head of the Mossad – possibly at the Tel Aviv dinner, though the paper has not specified where or when the meeting took place.
Last month the Independent on Sunday claimed that Werritty had close ties to the Mossad as well as to “US-backed neocons” plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime. The Mossad were reported to have assumed Werritty was Fox’s “chief of staff.”
In addition, the O’Donnell report revealed that Werritty’s many trips overseas alongside Fox had been funded by at least six donors, three of whom were leading members of the pro-Israel lobby in Britain.
The donations were made to two organisations, Atlantic Bridge and Pargav, that Werritty helped to establish. Werritty apparently used the organizations as a way to gain access to Conservative government ministers, including three in the defense ministry.
The advisory board of Atlantic Bridge, which Werritty founded with Fox, included William Hague, the current foreign minister, Michael Gove, the education minister, and George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Despite Werritty’s apparently well-established connections to the ruling Conservative party, the media coverage has implied at most that he was a lone “rogue operator,” hoping to use his contacts with Fox and other ministers to manipulate British government policy.
Murray, however, raises the more troubling question of whether Werritty was actually given access, through Fox and Gould, to the heart of the British government. Were all three secretly trying to pursue a policy on Iran favored by Israel and its ideological allies in the US?
The answer, according to Murray, may lie in a series of meetings between the three that have slowly come to light since O’Donnell published his findings.
According to the 2,700-word report, Werritty joined Fox on 18 of his official trips overseas, and the pair met another 22 times at the defense ministry, with almost none of their discussions recorded by officials. The Guardian has also reported that Fox’s staff repeatedly warned him off his relationship with Werritty but were overruled.
Despite the serious concerns raised about Werritty by defense ministry staff, Gould, one of the country’s most senior diplomats, appears nonetheless to have cultivated a close relationship with Werritty as well as Fox.
According to Murray’s sources, Gould and Werritty “had been meeting and communicating for years.” The foreign office has refused to answer questions about whether the two had any contacts.
When Murray sent an email request late at night this week for “all communications” between Gould and Werritty, he received a response from the foreign office in less than 90 minutes stating that providing an answer was “likely to exceed the cost limit”.
As well as noting that the answer should have been straightforward unless Gould and Werritty had had a protracted correspondence, Murray wrote on his blog: “The Freedom of Information team in the FCO is not a 24 hour unit. Plainly not only are they hiding the Gould/Werritty correspondence, they are primed and on alert for this cover-up operation.”
O’Donnell’s report mentions a second meeting between the three men, in September 2010. On that occasion, Gould met Fox in what a foreign office spokesman has described as a “pre-posting briefing call” – a sort of high-level induction for ambassadors to acquaint themselves with their new posting.
Werritty was also present, according to O’Donnell, “as an individual with some experience in…the security situation in the Middle East.” His participation at the meeting was “not appropriate,” O’Donnell concluded.
However, Murray said such briefings would never be conducted at ministerial level, and certainly not by the defense minister himself.
He added that a senior official in the defense ministry had alerted him to two other peculiar aspects of the meeting: no officials were present to take notes, as would be expected; and their conversation took place in the ministry’s dining room, not in Fox’s office.
“As someone who worked for many years as a diplomat, I know how these things should work,” Murray said. “So much of this affair simply smells wrong.”
Murray’s queries to the foreign office about this meeting have gone unanswered but have revealed other unexpected details not included in the O’Donnell report.
In a statement in late October, after the report’s publication, a foreign office spokesman said Gould had met Fox and Werritty earlier than previously known – before Gould was appointed ambassador to Israel and when Fox was in opposition as shadow defense minister.
The foreign office has refused to answer questions about this meeting too – including when it occurred and why – or to respond to a parliamentary question on the matter tabled by MP Jeremy Corbyn. All that is known is that it must have taken place before May 2010, when Fox was appointed defense minister.
In replying to Corbyn’s questions, William Hague, the foreign minister, acknowledged yet another meeting between Fox, Werritty and Gould – at a private social engagement in the summer of 2010.
Again, the foreign office has refused to answer further questions, including one from Corbyn about who else attended the social engagement.
The trio were also together shortly before the Tel Aviv dinner, when Fox made a speech at the hawkish Herzliya security conference in a session on the strategic threat posed by Iran.
And a sixth meeting has come to light. Fox and Gould were photographed together at a “We believe in Israel” conference in London in May 2011. Werritty was again present.
“That furtive meeting between Fox, Werritty and Gould in the MOD dining room [in September 2010], deliberately held away from Fox’s office where it should have taken place, and away from the MOD officials who should have been there, now looks less like briefing and more like plotting,” Murray wrote on his blog about the Ministry of Defense meeting.
Murray said he believed more meetings will surface. During questioning at the Commons’ Public Administration Committee this week, O’Donnell made two references to “meetings” between Gould and Fox before the general election and Fox’s appointment to the post of defence secretary.
Until now, only one such meeting had been admitted by the foreign office.
Murray noted: “A senior British diplomat cannot just hold a series of meetings with the opposition shadow Defence Secretary and a paid zionist lobbyist. What on earth was happening?”
Both Werritty and Gould are considered to have an expertise on Iran.
Gould was the deputy head of mission at the British embassy in Iran from 2003 to 2005, a role in which he was responsible for coordinating on US policy towards Iran. Next he was moved to the British embassy in Washington at a time when the neoconservatives still held sway in the White House.
Werritty, meanwhile, has travelled frequently to Iran where he has teamed up with opposition groups seeking the overthrow of the Iranian regime. On his return from one trip to Iran he was called in by Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence service for a debriefing, according to the Independent on Sunday.
Werritty also arranged for Fox to travel with him to Iran in summer 2007, when Fox was shadow defense minister. And he organised a meeting in May 2009 at the British parliament between Fox and an Iranian lobbyist with links to the current regime in Tehran.
The murky dealings between Fox, Werritty and Gould, and the government’s refusal to clarify what took place between them, is evidence, said Murray, that a serious matter is being hidden. His fear, and that of his contacts inside the senior civil service, is that “a neo-con cell of senior [British] ministers and officials” were secretly setting policy in coordination with Israel and the US.
Gould’s unexamined role is of particular concern, as he is still in place in his post in Israel.
Murray has noted that, in appointing Gould, a British Jew, to the ambassadorship in Israel in September last year, the foreign office broke with long-standing policy. No Jewish diplomat has held the post before because of concerns that it might lead to a conflict of interest, or at the very least create the impression of dual loyalty. Similar restrictions have been in place to avoid Catholics holding the post of ambassador to the Vatican.
Given these traditional concerns, Gould was a strange choice. He is a self-declared Zionist who has cultivated an image that led the Forward, the most prominent Jewish newspaper in the US, to describe him recently as “not just an ambassador who’s Jewish, but a Jewish ambassador.”
A version of this story was first published in Al-Akhbar English, Beirut: http://english.al-akhbar.com
Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jkcook.net. The Independent has learnt.
The purge of Gaddafi supporters is made more dangerous by infighting between the militias
By Patrick Cockburn
November 25, 2011 “The Independent‘ – – The detention of 7,000 people in prisons and camps by the anti-Gaddafi forces is not surprising. The conflict in Libya was always much more of a civil war between Libyans than foreign governments pretended or the foreign media reported.
The winning anti-Gaddafi militia are not proving merciful. Often they have had relatives killed in the fighting or imprisoned by the old regime who they want to avenge. Sometimes they come from tribes and towns traditionally hostile to neighbouring tribes and towns. Gaddafi supporters are being hunted down. According to one person in Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte, they are facing a “continuing reign of terror”.
“There is a deep and spreading frenzy, particularly among some of the youth militia and the Islamists, to hunt down anyone associated with the former regime,” the source said.
The National Transitional Council, whose control is largely theoretical, is not in a position to stop this purge because many of its members are themselves frightened of being accused of links with the old regime.
Some groups are particularly vulnerable. The then-rebels were convinced earlier this year that many of those they were fighting were mercenaries recruited in Central or West Africa. But when these alleged “mercenaries” were arrested in Tripoli, many turned out to be black migrant labourers without identity papers.
According to Amnesty International, some of those who were put on television by the rebels as mercenaries were later quietly freed because they were migrant workers. Others faced mob justice before they were able to prove their identities.
The international media was overwhelmingly hostile to Gaddafi’s regime and tended to highlight atrocities committed by it and disregard or underplay human rights violations carried out by his opponents. An example of this occurred when eight or nine bodies of Libyan soldiers were found who appeared to have been executed. The rebels claimed they had been shot by Gaddafi’s men because they tried to change sides. But Amnesty located a film of the soldiers being captured alive by the rebels and it was presumably the rebels who killed them.
The purge of Gaddafi supporters is made more dangerous by the infighting between the militias, and between them and the politicians. Association with the old regime can be used to discredit an opponent. There may also be self-interest since death squads are reported to be taking their property.
By Press TV
November 25, 2011 — A War Crimes Tribunal in Malaysia has found former US President George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair guilty of war crimes for their roles in the Iraq war.
The five-panel Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal decided that Bush and Blair committed genocide and crimes against humanity by leading the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a Press TV correspondent reported on Tuesday.
In 2003, the US and Britain invaded Iraq in blatant violation of international law and under the pretext of finding weapons of mass destruction allegedly stockpiled by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
The Malaysian tribunal judges ruled that the decision to wage war against Iraq by the two former heads of government was a flagrant abuse of law and an act of aggression that led to large-scale massacres of the Iraqi people.
Bombings and other forms of violence became commonplace in Iraq shortly after the US-led invasion of the country.
In their ruling, the tribunal judges also stated that the US, under the leadership of Bush, fabricated documents to make it appear that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
However, the world later learned that the former Iraqi regime did not possess WMDs and that the US and British leaders knew this all along.
Over one million Iraqis were killed during the invasion, according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored.
The judges also said the court findings should be provided to signatories to the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court, and added that the names of Bush and Blair should be listed on a war crimes register.
The United States has decided to disengage itself from certain obligations on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE). In particular, the USA will no longer inform Russia about the plans connected with the redeployment of its forces. Those restrictions are not touching upon any other country.
“Today the United States announced in Vienna, Austria, that it would cease carrying out certain obligations under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty with regard to Russia. This announcement in the CFE Treaty’s implementation group comes after the United States and NATO Allies have tried over the past 4 years to find a diplomatic solution following Russia’s decision in 2007 to cease implementation with respect to all other 29 CFE States. Since then, Russia has refused to accept inspections and ceased to provide information to other CFE Treaty parties on its military forces as required by the Treaty,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday.
According to her, the USA does not refuse from the dialogue with Russia within the scope of the Treaty. However, Russia must get back to the institution of the CFE, the US diplomat added.
Nuland also said that the United States did not intend to tie the CFE with the missile defense talks.
The remarks from the US diplomat look like another attempt to turn everything up side down again. It is worth mentioning here that the first edition of the CFE Treaty was signed in 1990, during the existence of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The document stipulated a reduction of the number of tanks, armored vehicles, artillery (larger than 100 mm in caliber), combat planes and helicopters, as well as information exchange.
A renewed variant of the treaty was signed in 1999. The new edition reflected such changes in Europe as the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the expansion of NATO. However, only Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan ratified the new treaty. Russia moved a big part of its arms behind the Ural mountains, but the Western countries did not even want to execute it. The expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance continued, and NATO neared Russian borders.
At the end of 2007, Vladimir Putin decided to suspend Russia’s participation in the CFE until the USA and its European allies ratified the renewed variant of the treaty. The Americans did not want to make any moves in that direction. Now they have decided not to inform Russia about the redeployment of its forces. This is obviously another violation of the treaty which the United States committed.
What consequences may Russia face as a result of the US decision? Pravda.Ru asked expert opinion from the director of the Center for Military Forecasts, Anatoly Tsyganok.
“The USA will stop informing Russia about military redeployments. The Americans can technically send their troops to Latvia, Lithuania or Estonia, which did not sign the treaty. Will the Baltic states turn into an uncontrollable military center near Russia’s borders?”
“When Russia suspended its participation in the CFE Treaty, she had the right to say that some NATO’s newcomers, such as the Baltic states and Slovenia, had never signed the treaty. Now NATO eyes Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania and all other former members of the Warsaw Pact.
“When they were deciding on the unification of Germany in 1990, Germany and France said in the appendix to the adequate agreement that NATO would not move beyond the Oder River (the river separates Germany and Poland – ed.). However, the West does not take this appendix into consideration. They only follow the agreement itself, which does not say a word about the non-expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance. It just so happens that the USA and its allies played a trick on Russia.
“Why did it take the United States four years to decide not to inform Russia about military redeployments?”
“Apparently, it is connected with the situation in the Mediterranean Sea. One may assume that NATO will create a military group near Russia’s southern borders to strike Syria. They will most likely raise this issue at the NATO summit in December. They will try to analyze Syria’s actions in case NATO conducts a military operation against the country, like it already happened in Libya.”
“Is Russia a big obstacle for conducting NATO’s operation against Syria? Does the USA have anything to conceal from us at this point?”
“Russia is an obstacle, yes. We have a naval base in Syria’s Tartus. The base is protected with air defense complexes, so the chances for aggression from NATO or Israel from the sea are slim. If they decide to attack, it will most likely happen from the side of Saudi Arabia. So the USA has something to conceal.
“There is another aspect to this. There are approximately 120,000 Russian citizens living in Syria. Presumably, it goes about Russian women, who married local men. Russia can use this detail to interfere into the events in Syria. In addition, 20 percent of the Russian defense complex will simply tip off the perch in case Russia loses the Syrian market. It is not ruled out that they are regrouping NATO forces to get ready for the war against Syria, and they don’t want to notify Russia of that.”