The Rohingya conflict in Myanmar, which had caught its second wind in August 2017, appears to be a multidimensional crisis with major geopolitical players involved, experts say, referring to both internal and external reasons behind the recent upsurge in violence in the country.
The Rohingya conflict, which erupted between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state in late August, was apparently fanned by external global players, Dmitry Mosyakov, director of the Centre for Southeast Asia, Australia and Oceania at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told RT.
According to the academic, the conflict has at least three dimensions.
“First, this is a game against China, as China has very large investments in Arakan [Rakhine],” Mosyakov told RT. “Second, it is aimed at fuelling Muslim extremism in Southeast Asia…. Third, it’s the attempt to sow discord within ASEAN [between Myanmar and Muslim-dominated Indonesia and Malaysia].”
According to Mosyakov, the century-long conflict is used by external players to undermine Southeast Asian stability, especially given the fact that what is at stake are vast reserves of hydrocarbons located offshore of the Rakhine state.
“There’s a huge gas field named Than Shwe after the general who had long ruled Burma,” Mosyakov said. “Additionally, the coastal zone of Arakan [Rakhine] almost certainly contains oil hydrocarbons.”
After the massive Rakhine energy reserves were discovered in 2004 they attracted China’s attention. By 2013 China completed oil and natural gas pipelines, which connect Myanmar’s port of Kyaukphyu with the Chinese city of Kunming in Yunnan province.
The oil pipeline allows Beijing to deliver Middle Eastern and African crude bypassing the Malacca Straits, while the gas pipeline is transporting hydrocarbons from Myanmar’s offshore fields to China.
According to Dmitry Egorchenkov, deputy director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Prognosis at the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, it is hardly a coincidence. Although there are certain internal causes behind the Rohingya crisis, it could also be fueled by external players, most notably, the United States.
In 2003, George Soros joined a US Task Force group aimed at increasing “US cooperation with other countries to bring about a long overdue political, economic and social transformation in Burma [Myanmar].”
The Council of Foreign Relation’s (CFR) 2003 document entitled “Burma: Time For Change,” which announced the establishment of the group insisted that “democracy… cannot survive in Burma without the help of the United States and the international community.”
“When George Soros comes to this or that country… he looks for religious, ethnic or social contradictions, chooses the model of action for one of these options or their combination and tries to ‘warm they up,'” Egorchenkov explained, speaking with RT.
On the other hand, according to Mosyakov, it appears that some established global economies are seeking to contain the rapid economic development of ASEA nations, by instigating inner strife within the bloc.
The academic opined that the globalist management policy envisages sowing discord in stable regional formations. By fuelling regional conflicts external players jump at the opportunity to gain control over sovereign states and exert considerable pressure on them.
The recent Rohingya crisis started on August 25 when Muslim insurgents of Rohingya origin attacked security posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. The tough response of the country’s authorities triggered violent clashes, which claimed the lives of at least 402 people. However, according to some estimates, up to 3,000 Muslims were killed during the recent conflict.
The conflict that started about a century ago has gradually escalated since 2011, hitting its peak in 2012 when thousands of Muslim families sought asylum in the special refugee camps on the country’s territory or fled to Bangladesh. Yet another escalation started in 2016.
Roma, 11 maggio 2016, Nena News – Faisal chiede aiuto per girare il corpo martoriato dai pestaggi di un rifugiato senza vita: «Questa persona è morta mentre attraversava il confine verso la Turchia. Sai com’è morta? Non per una pallottola, ma per le botte». Lui, siriano, si trova da mesi al confine per aiutare chi scappa dalla guerra. Il video pubblicato lunedì da Human Rights Watch è terrificante: si vedono le guardie di frontiera turche picchiare siriani in fuga, si vedono cadaveri, si sentono le voci di chi è sopravvissuto e ora racconta gli abusi subiti prima per strada e poi nelle caserme.
L’organizzazione dà un bilancio degli ultimi due mesi, marzo e aprile: 5 morti (tra cui un bambino) e 14 feriti. Sono i numeri della politica di Ankara per gestire il flusso di rifugiati in fuga dalla guerra civile siriana e di quella dell’Unione Europea che insiste a descrivere la Turchia come un paese sicuro in cui confinare i profughi: ad oggi sono 2,7 milioni i rifugiati siriani in territorio turco, costretti ai margini, tra campi profughi e periferie delle città.
Dall’agosto 2015 le frontiere sono ufficialmente chiuse e chi riesce ad entrare lo fa con l’aiuto di trafficanti di uomini o attraversando illegalmente il confine, a rischio della vita: «Mentre i funzionari turchi dicono di accogliere i rifugiati siriani con confini aperti e braccia aperte, le loro guardie di frontiera li uccidono e li picchiano – spiega Gerry Simpson, ricercatore di Hrw – Sparare a uomini, donne e bambini traumatizzati che scappano da un contesto di guerra è orrendo».
E se con una mano Bruxelles copre i crimini dell’alleato turco, dall’altra le forze della coalizione occidentale anti-Isis realizzano il sogno che il presidente turco Erdogan ha nel cassetto da un po’: una zona cuscinetto al confine con la Siria, ovviamente in territorio siriano, con cui tenere alla larga i rifugiati e allo stesso tempo isolare i kurdi di Rojava dal Kurdistan turco. Secondo quanto riportato dal quotidiano turco Yeni Safak, l’operazione militare è già partita: l’obiettivo, per ora, è svuotare un’area lunga 18 km e larga 8 nella regione siriana di Jarablus, a nord ovest, zona calda negli ultimi mesi perché target sia del Pyd kurdo-siriano che dei miliziani dello Stato Islamico. Ma è target anche della Turchia che l’ha sempre definita la linea rossa, invalicabile per i kurdi e per le loro ambizioni di autonomia politica. A sostenere l’operazione, aggiunge il quotidiano, saranno Stati Uniti e Germania.
Il nord della Siria resta al momento il cuore dello scontro militare e diplomatico. Aleppo ne è modello e vittima: dopo aver pianto 300 morti in meno di due settimane, da giovedì la seconda città siriana vive nel limbo, tra una tregua rinnovata di due giorni in due giorni e scontri che proseguono in periferia. Lunedì sera, dopo un incontro a Parigi a margine del meeting delle opposizioni e gli “Amici della Siria” (Unione Europea, Gran Bretagna, Germania, Italia, Arabia Saudita, Emirati Arabi Uniti, Qatar, Giordania, Turchia), Stati Uniti e Russia si sono accordati per prolungare di altre 48 ore il cessate il fuoco su Aleppo.
Poche ore dopo l’esercito del governo di Damasco ne dava l’annuncio, spostando la lancetta alle 23.59 di oggi, quando – senza ulteriori accordi – si tornerà a far parlare le armi. È quanto successo lunedì, giorno di violenza tra una cessazione delle ostilità e l’altra: la parte nord della città è stata teatro di scontri mentre le due super potenze ribadivano in Francia l’impegno alla pace. Così Mosca ha fatto sapere che avrebbe minimizzato le azioni aeree per continuare a colpire i gruppi esclusi dalla tregua, al-Nusra e Isis: un’operazione complessa perché gli islamisti – soprattutto i qaedisti – sono concentrati in zone dove sono presenti anche le opposizioni etichettate come legittime.
Nelle stanze della diplomazia mondiale si insiste nel definire la tregua di Aleppo lo strumento per far ripartire il negoziato di Ginevra, sepolto sotto montagne di precondizioni poste da governo, opposizioni e rispettivi sponsor internazionali. Ieri il segretario di Stato Usa Kerry ha annunciato per il 17 maggio un nuovo incontro internazionale a Vienna.
A mostrare più coraggio di tutti gli attori coinvolti è la popolazione civile che tenta di riprendersi Aleppo: nonostante scontri non troppo sporadici, le famiglie che erano fuggite dalla città tentano un faticoso ritorno nelle proprie case, le scuole riaprono insieme ai piccoli esercizi commerciali necessari a mantenere viva una città devastata.
“Tutti noi, insieme, musulmani, indi, cattolici, copti, evangelici, fratelli, figli dello stesso Dio, che vogliamo vivere in pace, integrati: un gesto. Tre giorni fa un gesto di guerra, di distruzione, in una città dell’Europa, da gente che non vuole vivere in pace, ma dietro quel gesto” “ci sono i fabbricatori, i trafficanti delle armi che vogliono il sangue non la pace, la guerra, non la fratellanza”. Il Papa ha spiegato così la lavanda dei piedi che stava per compiere nel CARA di Castelnuovo di Porto. “Due gesti, – ha riflettuto – Gesù lava i piedi e Giuda vende Gesù per denaro, noi tutti insieme diverse religioni, di diverse culture ma figli dello stesso padre, fratelli, e quelli che comprano le armi per distruggere”. Papa Francesco ha voluto imprimere il sigillo della unità dei credenti per la pace, e della fratellanza contro l’odio, le guerre e il traffico di armi, al rito della lavanda dei piedi che ha compiuto al CARA, acronimo per Centro di accoglienza per richiedenti asilo, cioè dove i profughi vengono ospitati in attesa che vengano espletate le procedure per accogliere o meno la loro domanda di protezione internazionale. Bergoglio ha lavato i piedi a 11 profughi e una operatrice del CARA, in tutto cinque cattolici, quattro musulmani, un indù e tre cristiani copti.
Il CARA, – dove papa Francesco è arrivato nel pomeriggio a bordo di una Golf blu, accolto da mons. Rino Fisichella e dai dirigenti, ha stretto tante mani e autografato a pennarello, con il suo ‘Franciscus’ in calligrafia minuta uno striscione che gli dava il benvenuto, in italiano e in altre 10 lingue – ospita 892 persone da 25 diversi Paesi, di cui 15 Paesi africani, 9 asiatici, uno europeo extra Ue. 849 sono uomini, 36 donne, 7 minori. L’ottanta per cento degli ospiti sono giovani con una età compresa tra i 19 e i 26 anni, ma c’è anche una famiglia irachena che comprende quattro generazioni, dalla bisnonna in giù. Nella forte omelia, tenuta interamente a braccio, il Papa – che nella visita è stato accompagnato da tre migranti che gli hanno fatto da interprete, l’afgano Ibrahim, il maliano Boro e l’eritreo Segen – ha accennato alle storie che ognuno degli ospiti del CARA ha alle spalle. Ci sono tutte le rotte della disperazione nelle vite dei profughi cui ha lavato i piedi: c’è Mohamed, arrivato al CARA da meno di due mesi, nato in Siria, da dove è scappato varcando il confine con la Libia, è approdato a Lampedusa. Ha appena compiuto 22 anni ed è musulmano. Dalla Libia sono approdati al CARA anche Sira, 37 anni, del Mali, e Lucia, Dbra e Luchia, tre cristiane copte partite dall’Eritrea. Khurram, invece è partita dal Pakistan e attraverso Iran, Turchia, Grecia, Macedonia, Serbia, Ungheria e Austria è arrivata a Caltanissetta.
Uomini e donne di diverse religioni, accomunati da queste rotte del dolore e dallo stesso desiderio di vita e di futuro, quei profughi che sono priorità del pontificato dal primo viaggio, a Lampedusa nel luglio 2013, e per i quali, ancora per tutto il mese di marzo parallelamente ai tre vertici europei e alla cronaca internazionale, non ha smesso di spendere interventi e appelli. “E’ bello vivere insieme come fratelli, con culture e religioni differenti, ma siamo tutti fratelli, questo ha un nome, pace e amore”, ha detto ancora il Papa dopo aver ascoltato alcuni canti in tigrigno, e prima di stingere la mano, uno per uno, a tutti gli 892 ospiti del CARA. I migranti hanno donato al Pontefice un quadro raffigurante Gesù, mentre Francesco, già questa mattina, ha fatto consegnare loro 200 uova di cioccolato, una scacchiera e palloni da calcio e palline da baseball autografate da campioni. Noi pastori “con il popolo scartato”, aveva incitato al mattino, nella messa del crisma celebrata con cardinali e vescovi e incentrata sulla “dinamica della misericordia” che è la “dinamica del samaritano”. A questa umanità scartata Bergoglio ha cercato oggi di restituire dignità e di sostenerne la speranza, in un incontro che resterà tra i più significativi del giubileo che il Papa ha intitolato alla misericordia. (email@example.com)
Ancora una volta assistiamo ad attentati terroristici in Europa. Agli occhi dei mass-media occidentali queste stragi di civili europei sono orribili. Tutte le persone che amano la pace devono condannarle. Come Pressenza le condanniamo con forza.
I politici e la popolazione civile europea però non possono continuare a condannare il terrorismo senza cercare e risolvere le radici del problema.
Come la crisi dei rifugiati non si può risolvere chiudendo le frontiere e riempiendo il Mediterraneo di navi da guerra, così il terrorismo non si può affrontare aumentando le misure di sicurezza e di sorveglianza della popolazione, demonizzando i musulmani e dando tutte le colpe agli immigrati.
L’origine di entrambi questi problemi è il coinvolgimento europeo nelle guerre in Medio Oriente. Questa è una verità scomoda, che quasi tutti i politici sono incapaci di accettare. O, se l’accettano, non possono dirlo in pubblico, perché i media anti-umanisti li perseguiteranno nel tentativo di distruggere la loro carriera e ridurli al silenzio.
L’Europa è intervenuta per decenni nei punti strategici del pianeta, promuovendo guerre e instabilità civile. Tutti conosciamo i nomi di questi posti: Libia, Siria, Afghanistan, Iraq e molti altri. La giustificazione che veniva addotta per queste guerre era la mancanza di diritti umani e democrazia, eppure sappiamo che decine di altri paesi hanno una situazione terribile al riguardo: l’Arabia Saudita è in cima alla lista, ma ne fanno parte anche lo Zimbabwe, l’Egitto e la Cina.
Mentre nei primi paesi la NATO scatena l’inferno in terra, i secondi vengono lasciati liberi di fare quello che vogliono. Guardando da vicino, i primi paesi hanno grandi giacimenti di petrolio o sono importanti dal punto di vista geografico per gli oleodotti, mentre alcuni dei secondi sono privi di materie prime strategiche e con altri ci sono legami commerciali che non si possono mettere a rischio. Un esempio eclatante in questo senso è costituito dalle enormi quantità di armi vendute all’Egitto e all’Arabia Saudita.
Gli europei devono svegliarsi: la politica estera dell’Unione Europea è un disastro. Le guerre non producono la pace, ma solo rifugiati e terroristi. I nostri politici e quelli che controllano il sistema bancario, quello dell’informazione e quello militare lo sanno benissimo.
Mi sono venute in mente le parole pronunciate dallo scrittore e attivista nonviolento Silo negli anni Ottanta:
Non sorprendiamoci se qualcuno risponde con la violenza fisica se l’abbiamo sottoposto a pressioni psicologiche inumane, o alle pressioni dello sfruttamento, della discriminazione e dell’intolleranza. Se questa risposta ci sorprende o siamo parte in causa di questa ingiustizia (e in tale caso la nostra “sorpresa” è anche una bugia), o vediamo solo gli effetti senza notare le cause che determinano questa esplosione.
L’Europa è diretta verso l’abisso. La pace che ha in gran parte sperimentato dal 1945 è in grave pericolo. I benefici sociali e la sicurezza per cui abbiamo tanto lottato sono sotto attacco da parte di una malsana collaborazione tra multi-nazionali, mass-media, banche e complesso militare-industriale.
E’ ora che la società civile agisca. E’ urgente che ognuno di noi partecipi a organizzazioni umaniste basate sui principi della nonviolenza, dove l’essere umano è il valore centrale, come Mondo senza guerre e senza Violenza, il Partito Umanista, Convergenza delle Culture e altre e che queste organizzazioni sostengano come meglio possono ampie campagne per il cambiamento sociale come DiEM25, ICAN, No Nato e molte altre ancora. Tocca ai cittadini europei rifiutare le false informazioni e le giustificazioni dei media anti-umanisti e cercare fonti alternative come Pressenza.
E’ ora di esprimere la solidarietà non solo tra chi ha credenze e aspetto simili, ma tra tutti gli esseri umani. Questa sarebbe l’unica risposta coerente
(Sanaa) – The United States, United Kingdom, France, and others should suspend all weapon sales to Saudi Arabia until it not only curtails its unlawful airstrikes in Yemen but also credibly investigates alleged violations.
Since March 26, 2015, a coalition of nine Arab countries has conducted military operations against the Houthi armed group and carried out numerous indiscriminate and disproportionate airstrikes. The airstrikes have continued despite a March 20 announcement of a new ceasefire. The coalition has consistently failed to investigate alleged unlawful attacks as the laws of war require. Saudi Arabia has been the leader of the coalition, with targeting decisions made in the Saudi Defense Ministry in Riyadh.
“For the past year, governments that arm Saudi Arabia have rejected or downplayed compelling evidence that the coalition’s airstrikes have killed hundreds of civilians in Yemen,” said Philippe Bolopion, deputy global advocacy director. “By continuing to sell weapons to a known violator that has done little to curtail its abuses, the US, UK, and France risk being complicit in unlawful civilian deaths.”
Nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations have investigated and reported on numerous unlawful coalition airstrikes. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other international and Yemeni groups have issued a joint statement calling for the cessation of sales and transfers of all weapons and military-related equipment to parties to the conflict in Yemen where “there is a substantial risk of these arms being used… to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights law.” Human Rights Watch has documented 36 unlawful airstrikes – some of which may amount to war crimes – that have killed at least 550 civilians, as well as 15 attacks involving internationally banned cluster munitions. The UN Panel of Experts on Yemen, established under UN Security Council Resolution 2140 (2013), in a report made public on January 26, 2016, “documented 119 coalition sorties relating to violations” of the laws of war.
Saudi Arabia has not responded to Human Rights Watch letters detailing apparent violations by the coalition and seeking clarification on the intended target of attack. Saudi Arabia has successfully lobbied the UN Human Rights Council to prevent it from creating an independent, international investigative mechanism.
In September 2014, the Houthis, a Zaidi Shia group from northern Yemen also known as Ansar Allah, took control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. In January 2015, they effectively ousted President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and his cabinet. The Houthis, along with forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, then swept south, threatening to take the port city of Aden. On March 26, the Saudi-led coalition, consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Sudan, began an aerial bombing campaign against Houthi and allied forces.
At least 3,200 civilians have been killed and 5,700 wounded since coalition military operations began, 60 percent of them in coalition airstrikes, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The naval blockade the coalition imposed on Yemen has contributed to an immense humanitarian crisis that has left 80 percent of the population of the impoverished country in need of humanitarian protection and assistance.
The UN Panel of Experts found that, “the coalition’s targeting of civilians through air strikes, either by bombing residential neighborhoods or by treating the entire cities of Sa‘dah and Maran in northern Yemen as military targets, is a grave violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. In certain cases, the Panel found such violations to have been conducted in a widespread and systematic manner.” Deliberate, indiscriminate, and disproportionate attacks against civilians are serious violations of the laws of war, to which all warring parties are bound.
The UN panel said that the attacks it documented included attacks on “camps for internally displaced persons and refugees; civilian gatherings, including weddings; civilian vehicles, including buses; civilian residential areas; medical facilities; schools; mosques; markets, factories and food storage warehouses; and other essential civilian infrastructure, such as the airport in Sana’a, the port in Hudaydah and domestic transit routes.”
The 36 unlawful airstrikes Human Rights Watch documented include attacks on schools, hospitals, and homes, with no evidence they were being used for military purposes. Human Rights Watch has collected the names of over 550 civilians killed in these 36 attacks. Amnesty International has documented an additional 26 strikes that appear to have violated the laws of war. Mwatana, one of Yemen’s leading human rights organizations, issued a report in December that documented an additional 29 unlawful airstrikes across Yemen, from March to October 2015.
In addition, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented civilian casualties from internationally banned cluster munitions used in or near cities and villages. Cluster munitions have been used in multiple locations in at least five of Yemen’s 21 governorates: Amran, Hajja, Hodaida, Saada, and Sanaa. The coalition has used at least six types of cluster munitions, three delivered by air-dropped bombs and three by ground-launched rockets. Human Rights Watch has said there should be an immediate halt to all use of cluster munitions and that coalition members should join the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Despite the numerous credible reports of serious laws-of-war violations, the Saudi-led coalition has taken no evident actions either to minimize harm to civilians in its air operations or to investigate past incidents and hold those responsible to account. So long as no such steps are taken, governments should not supply weapons to the leading coalition member.
The UK foreign affairs minister, Phillip Hammond, and other senior UK officials have repeatedly said that coalition forces have not committed any violations of the laws of war. On February 2, 2016, an important cross-party committee of UK members of parliament sent a letter to the international development secretary, Justine Greening, calling for immediate suspension of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia and an international independent inquiry into the coalition’s military campaign in Yemen.
On February 25, the European parliament passed a resolution calling on the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini “to launch an initiative aimed at imposing an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia.” On February 17, the Dutch parliament voted to impose the embargo and ban all arms exports to Saudi Arabia.
On January 31, the coalition announced the creation of a committee to promote the coalition’s compliance with the laws of war. However, the military spokesman for the coalition specified that the objective of the committee was not to carry out investigations into alleged violations.
Human Rights Watch has also documented serious laws of war violations by Houthi and allied forces, including indiscriminate shelling of cities, enforced disappearances, and the use of internationally banned antipersonnel landmines. Human Rights Watch supports a ban on the sale or provision of weapons to the Houthis that are likely to be used unlawfully, notably unguided “Grad-type” rockets and anti-personnel landmines.
“How many more airstrikes need to wreak havoc on civilians before countries supplying aircraft and bombs to the coalition pull the plug?” Bolopion said.
UK, US Arms Support for Saudi-led Coalition
Under international law, the US is a party to the armed conflict in Yemen. Lt. Gen. Charles Brown, commander of the US Air Force Central Command, said that the US military has deployed dedicated personnel to the Saudi joint planning and operations cell to help “coordinate activities.” US participation in specific military operations, such as providing advice on targeting decisions and aerial refueling during bombing raids, may make US forces jointly responsible for laws-of-war violations by coalition forces. As a party to the conflict, the US is itself obligated to investigate allegedly unlawful attacks in which it took part.
The UK government has said that though it has personnel in Saudi Arabia, they are not involved in carrying out strikes, or directing or conducting operations in Yemen, or selecting targets. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that UK personnel are deployed to “provide advice, help and training” to the Saudi military on the laws of war.
Largest Foreign Military Sales to Saudi Arabia
In July 2015, the US Defense Department approved a number of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, including a US$5.4 billion deal for 600 Patriot Missiles and a $500 million deal for more than a million rounds of ammunition, hand grenades, and other items, for the Saudi army. According to the US Congressional review, between May and September, the US sold $7.8 billion worth of weapons to the Saudis.
In October, the US government approved the sale to Saudi Arabia of up to four Lockheed Littoral Combat Ships for $11.25 billion. In November, the US signed an arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $1.29 billion for more than 10,000 advanced air-to-surface munitions including laser-guided bombs, “bunker buster” bombs, and MK84 general purpose bombs; the Saudis have used all three in Yemen.
According to the London-based Campaign Against Arms Trade, the UK government approved GB£2.8 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia between January and September 2015. The weapons include 500-pound Paveway IV bombs. The UK is negotiating a £1 billion weapons deal with the UAE.
A June 2015 Spanish government report stated that Spain had authorized eight licenses for arms exports to Saudi Arabia worth $28.9 million in the first half of the year. In February 2016, Spanish media reported that the government-owned shipbuilding company Navantia was about to sign a contract worth $3.3 billion with Saudi Arabia for the construction of five Avante 2200 type frigates for the Saudi navy.
In July 2015, Saudi Arabia reportedly signed agreements worth $12 billion with France, which included $500 million for 23 Airbus H145 helicopters. The kingdom is also expected to order 30 military patrol boats by 2016 under the agreement. Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia has also recently entered into exclusive negotiations with the French company Thales Group to buy spy satellite and telecommunications equipment worth “billions of euros.”
Human Rights Watch has documented 36 airstrikes between March 2015 and January 2016, that appear to have been unlawfully indiscriminate or disproportionate, which include a March 30, 2015 airstrike on a camp for internally displaced people that killed at least 29 civilians and a March 31, 2015 airstrike on a dairy factory outside the port city of Hodaida that killed at least 31 civilians. In Saada, a Houthi stronghold in the north, Human Rights Watch examined more than a dozen airstrikes that occurred between April and May that destroyed or damaged civilian homes, five markets, a school, and a gas station, though there was no evidence these sites were being used for military purposes. These strikes killed 59 people, mostly civilians, including at least 35 children.
On May 12, the coalition struck a civilian prison in the western town of Abs, killing 25 people. On July 24, the coalition dropped nine bombs on and around two residential compounds of the Mokha Steam Power Plant, which housed plant workers and their family members, killing at least 65 civilians. On August 30, an airstrike hit Al-Sham Water Bottling Factory in the outskirts of Abs, killing 14 workers, including three boys, who were nearing the end of their night shift.
The coalition has carried out strikes on marketplaces, leading to high civilian death tolls. On May 12, a strike on the marketplace of the eastern village of Zabid killed at least 60 civilians. On July 4, an airstrike on the marketplace of the northern village of Muthalith Ahim killed at least 65. On July 6, bombs hit two markets in the governorate of Amran, north of Sanaa, killing at least 29 civilians.
On October 26, the coalition bombed a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in the northern town of Haydan in Saada governorate six times, wounding two patients. Since then, coalition airstrikes have hit MSF facilities twice. An airstrike hit a mobile clinic on December 2, in Taizz, wounding eight, including two staff members, and killing another civilian nearby. On January 21, an airstrike hit an MSF ambulance, killing its driver and six others, and wounded dozens in Saada.
On January 10, a projectile hit an MSF-supported hospital in Saada, killing six people and wounding at least seven, most of them medical staff and patients. MSF said it could not confirm the origin of the attack, but its staff had seen planes flying over the facility at the time of the attack. MSF said on January 25, that it had yet to receive any official explanation for any of these incidents.
On May 8, 2015, Brig. Gen. Ahmad al-Assiri, the military spokesman for the coalition, declared the entire cities of Saada and Marran, another Houthi stronghold, to be military targets. In an interview with Reuters on February 1, al-Assiri spoke about Saudi civilian casualties from Houthi and pro-Saleh forces’ firing across the border. He said, “Now our rules of engagement are: you are close to the border, you are killed.” Treating an entire area as the object of military attack violates the laws-of-war prohibition on attacks that treat distinct military objectives in a city, town or area as a single military objective. Doing so unlawfully denies civilians protection from attack.
Human Rights Watch also documented the coalition’s use of at least six types of cluster munitions in at least 15 attacks in five of Yemen’s 21 governorates between March 2015 and January 2016. Cluster munitions are indiscriminate weapons and pose long-term dangers to civilians. They are prohibited by the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, adopted by 118 countries, though not Saudi Arabia or Yemen.
Failure to Investigate Alleged Violations
Countries that are party to a conflict have an obligation under international law to investigate credible allegations of war crimes and hold those responsible to account. Human Rights Watch has seen no indication that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition has conducted any meaningful investigations into alleged laws-of-war violations.
On August 19, 2015, Human Rights Watch and 22 other human rights and humanitarian organizations called on the UN Human Rights Council to create an independent international commission of inquiry at its September session to investigate alleged laws-of-war violations by all parties to the conflict. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights similarly called on UN member states to encourage the establishment of an “international independent and impartial” investigative mechanism.
Instead, on September 7, President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi of Yemen established a national commission to investigate violations of human rights and the laws of war. During the ensuing UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries effectively blocked an effort led by the Netherlands to create an international investigative mechanism. The national commission has taken no tangible steps to conduct investigations, nor has it revealed any working methods or plans, three people close to the commission told Human Rights Watch.
Five days after the release of UN Panel of Experts report on Yemen, on January 31, 2016, the coalition announced a new committee to assess the coalition’s rules of engagement in the war and produce recommendations for the coalition to better respect the laws of war. “The goal of the committee is not to investigate allegations,” Al-Assiri said. “Its primary goal is to confirm the precision of the procedures followed on the level of the coalition command.” As such, this proposed body does not meet the requirements for an impartial investigative mechanism that can address accountability for unlawful attacks or compensate victims of coalition violations, Human Rights Watch said.
Al-Assiri said that the Saudi military has been conducting internal investigations into attacks in which a violation might have ensued, and pointed to a single airstrike that had led to a violation: the October 26, 2015 bombing of an MSF hospital in northern Yemen. He said the strike had been the result of “human error,” but did not outline any steps taken to hold the responsible military personnel to account, or compensate the two civilians wounded in the strike.
Roberto Savio, founder and president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News
ROME, Mar 11 2016 (IPS) – The last formal act of European disintegration was the last negotiation between 28 European leaders and the Prime Minister of Turkey. The deal, against all international treaties, is a total capitulation to European values. Europe will give Turkey 6 billion dollars, and in exchange Turkey will keep refugees from coming to Europe. Or better, will screen everybody, and send to Europe only the Syrians who are eligible for political asylum.
This is just a way to avoid a common position on the refugees. In fact, besides keeping people out, as the President of the EU, Donald Tusk, has explicitly warned “ keep out, you are not welcome”, there is no European policy on this issue at all. The 28 did approve by majority a plan of resettlement for 60 000 refugees (a drop in the more than a million stranded in Europe).
After seven months, a grand total of 600 refuges have been settled. And some countries, like Hungary and the Czeck Republic, have announced a referendum on the issue of accepting refugees. Clearly an illegal move, as the decisions of the Council of Ministers, once democratically taken, are binding for all members.
But Europe is facing three internal horses of the apocalypse, and a fourth external one, which is even more ominous. All this is coming together, and all the odds are against the dream of an integrated Europe.
The first is the divide between Eastern and Western Europe, which comes just after the North-South divide. The North-South divide was over the austerity that Germany and other protestant countries wanted to impose over the catholic and orthodox south. The chosen battleground was Greece, and the South lost. A very inflexible German Minister of Finance, Schauble, even went so far as to veto any program for growth at the last G20, and has just declared that Greece, flooded with refugees, “should not get distracted from its task of reforming its economy”.
Germany has been blocking any program of fiscal solidarity that could have meant a German contribution. Nothing has changed on this issue. The only exception will be for costs related to defence and security, following the terrorist attacks in Paris. But this divide has been totally superseded by the divide East- West.
The tide of migrants has made evident something that everybody has long and conveniently ignored: Eastern Europe joined European institutions to receive benefits, not obligations. They consider that Western Europe must give them the means to eliminate the economic and social gap, created by the Iron Curtain. And if Soviet domination has disappeared, it is due to the United States, and not Europe. Suddenly, Europe is asking to take refugees escaping from conflicts in which they are not directly involved like Syria and Libya, which are basically west European affairs?
What nobody wanted to see is that Eastern Europe is veering toward nationalism and xenophobia, or against the founding values of European integration. First we had the Hungarian government declaring its opposition to the democratic values of Europe. Then we had Poland, the single largest beneficiary of European funds in history, voting for an anti-European and authoritarian party, against homosexual and antichristian values of Europe.
And all over Eastern Europe, we have a clear tide of revolt against the supposed European values: solidarity, democracy, participation, social inclusion. Nato is the point of reference, as it is an American led alliance against an expansionist Russia. Nobody appears to give a thought to the absurdity of inviting Montenegro to the alliance, with its army of 3 000 soldiers. And in every single election in the last few years, the right wing parties have been consolidating. Last week a pro Nazi party obtained 14 seats in the Slovak elections.
But the decline of democracy is the second horse of the apocalypse riding European skies. In Germany this month it is possible that the Anti-europe party, ADF, will see a strong presence in the three regions where elections are being held, and in direct threat to the Socialist Party.
There is no single European country (with few exceptions like Spain, where the PP can encompass all right wing positions), where right wing and xenophobic parties have not grown since the 2009 crisis, and often are the tipping point in national parliaments. With coming elections, a tidal shift will happen all over Europe. The shift will be to the right, even in countries that have been examples of tolerance and inclusion, like the Nordic countries and the Netherlands.
Europe is now just a collection of 28 countries, each one with its own national agenda as a priority. Individually, they have resorted to a number of illegal measures, like building walls and barbed wire containment, without any European coordination. Austria has gone so far as to see if it can resurrect the old Austro-Hungarian empire, calling for an alliance between its old member countries, and the Balkans, with the exception of Greece, this last being currently and de facto the most involved in the subject of migration.
The sad episode of refugees trying to cross the border with Macedonia border, only to be repelled by a volley of tear gas grenades, was viewed with relief in Austria. And while individually every country tried to duck the issue of refugees, collectively they have made a deal with Turkey which has itself been condemned by the United Nations, and any number of legal experts. This deal occurred just a few days after Prime Minister Erdogan, sensing that Europe would have as priority her own comfort, would ignore his last attempt to take full control of Turkey, by taking over the largest daily newspaper, Zeman. He already controls the judiciary, the legislature, and the central bank, in a economy that is clearly run by his cronies.
Yet Europe has accepted to reopen the process of admission of Turkey to the EU, a country which was formerly considered too removed from European values, and that was before Erdogan’s rise to authoritarianism.
The third horse is clear to everybody. Europe has bent its rules to accommodate the UK’s David Cameron’s request to be an exception, in order to convince British citizens to remain in Europe. It is far from clear if that manoeuvre will succeed. And Cameron has declared that he will no longer recognize the European Court of Justice. He does not recognize either Europe as competent to assign refugees to the UK. But if the referendum on keeping the UK in Europe should fail, this would be total loss of legitimacy for Bruxelles, and the concessions to Great Britain would open a massive precedent that other members might be tempted to follow.
In all this there is an external threat, the forth horse of the apocalypse, which is over European heads. And is Europe in the world. In 1900, Europe constituted 24 percent of the global population. At the end of this century, it will make up only 4 percent. This is accompanied ofcourse by a decrease of European relevance in the world. In the United States of America, that has led to the unprecedented phenomenon of Donald Trump. Here, to the growth of right wing parties and movements. The winning argument is about a better yesterday…Let us go back to the time when we were powerful and rich…let us eliminate all those treaties which have reduced my power as a nation, and made me dependent on external banks, bureaucrats and values…Trump? Not at all, the Prime Minister of Poland…
The world, and especially Europe, is entering into a period of economic stagnation. That means that there is little to redistribute, and this is the basis of social democracy. Crisis plays into the hands of the right, as history tells us. The idea of an integrated Europe, with a strong social component, was somehow a progressive idea. Nationalism and xenophobia are returning. Let us thank the neoliberal vision of markets as the most important actors in society, the imposition of austerity and an end to solidarity as the new trends emerging from rich European countries.
The refugee crisis in Europe has led to a resurgence of the far right. Speaking to Truthout, Noam Chomsky explains the underlying causes of the crisis and the future of European multiculturalism.
In looking at what caused millions of people to flee Africa and the Middle East over the past several years, the world-renowned linguist points to Western intervention in Iraq and the overthrow of Muammar Gadhafi in Libya.
“Apart from the slaughter and destruction, the brutal occupation ignited a sectarian conflict that is now tearing the country and the entire region apart,” Chomsky says. “The invasion displaced millions of people, many of whom fled and were absorbed in the neighboring countries, poor countries that are left to deal somehow with the detritus of our crimes.”
This desperate diaspora has led to the birth of terrorist groups like Daesh, also known as IS/Islamic State, as well as the ongoing Syrian civil war. Yet despite the West’s role in displacing tens of millions of people, European nations are unwilling to accept their responsibility and the consequences.
“EU governance works very efficiently to impose harsh austerity measures that devastate poorer countries and benefit Northern banks,” Chomsky says. “But it has broken down almost completely when addressing a human catastrophe that is in substantial part the result of Western crimes.”
While Germany and Sweden have up until now accepted high numbers of migrants, those nations are beginning to tighten their borders. Claiming that Europe is unable to absorb a large number of migrants, the EU is using Turkey as a buffer state.
“The primary European efforts, as noted, have been to pressure Turkey to keep the misery and suffering far from us, much like the United States and Mexico. Their fate, once we are safe from the contagion, is of much lesser concern.”
Chomsky notes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s treatment of Kurdish communities, and the arrest of academic critics. A number of intellectuals around the world – including Chomsky – signed a letter of protest against Ankara’s crackdown.
“Turkish academics who signed the petition were detained and threatened; others were physically attacked. Meanwhile state repression continues to escalate,” he says.
“…Turkish academics and others have demonstrated remarkable courage and integrity in vigorously opposing crimes of state, in a manner rarely to be found elsewhere, risking and sometimes enduring severe punishment for their honorable stance.”
All signs indicate that Turkey’s troubles are far from over.
“For several years, Erdogan has been taking steps to consolidate his power, reversing the encouraging steps towards democracy and freedom in Turkey in earlier years.
“He shows every sign of seeking to become an extreme authoritarian ruler, approaching dictatorship, and a harsh and repressive one.”
On the Greek financial crisis, Chomsky accuses European lenders of imposing unrealistic economic and social reforms on the Greek people.
“The conditions imposed on Greece in the interests of creditors have devastated the country,” he says. “The target of the sadism is not the Greek people, specifically, but [in reality] anyone who dares to imagine that people might have rights that begin to compare with those of financial institutions and investors.
“Quite generally, the measures of austerity during recession made no economic sense, as recognized even by the economists of the IMF,” Chomsky adds. “It is difficult to regard them as anything other than class war, seeking to undo the social democratic gains that have been one of Europe’s major contributions to modern civilization.”
Attacks on social democracy are not just limited to Europe’s treatment of Greece, however. Flawed economic policies have created the ever-widening wealth gap, in which the richest 1% of the world’s population will soon hold over half of all global wealth.
“Social democracy, not just its European variant but others as well, has been under severe attack through the neoliberal period of the past generation, which has been harmful to the general population almost everywhere while benefiting tiny elites.”
Migranti – A Horgos, davanti al muro voluto da Budapest, alcuni migranti hanno cercato di abbattere il filo spinato per entrare in Ungheria – Il segretario generale dell’ONU Ban Ki-Moon ha dichiarato: «Scioccato dal trattamento riservati ai rifugiati». La polizia ungherese ha usato mezzi blindati, cannoni ad acqua e lacrimogeni contro i migranti che venivano dalla Serbia. Viktor Mihály Orbán è il primo ministro ungherese che ha scelto questi metodi. Orbán da giovane combatteva il regime comunista e invocava i diritti umani. Adesso che è al potere e che è entrato nella Nato dichiara: “Il flusso di migranti minaccia le radici cristiane dell’Europa”. E poi: “Mai più un profugo nei nostri confini”.