by Lee Fang
by Lee Fang
By Abayomi Azikiwe posted on April 12, 2015
Despite daily airstrikes by Saudi Arabia since March 26, the Ansurallah (Houthis) fighters seized the presidential palace in the southern city of Aden the following week.
Subsequent reports claim that the Houthis occupying the palace were forced to retreat by military forces still loyal to ousted leader President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Saudi bombing of the area and air drops to Hadi loyalists are designed to halt the advances and consolidation of power by the Shiite Islam movement that is supported politically by Iran.
Casualty figures have increased as fighter jets deployed by Riyadh pound residential sections of cities and villages throughout the Middle Eastern state. Officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross say that the humanitarian situation is worsening daily; they describe horrendous conditions on the ground. Civilian residents are fleeing for shelter, further aggravating the overall social and economic crisis in the country.
Contested neighborhoods and commercial areas in Aden are littered with corpses, while the wounded flood into hospitals and clinics. Yemeni officials estimate that at least 185 people have been killed in Aden, while some 1,282 are wounded. Hospitals there have counted the figures of noncombatants since March 26, says al-Kheder Lassouar, Aden’s health department director. (BBC, April 5) Not counted are Houthis and loyalist forces who are also victims of aerial bombardments and gunshot injuries.
According to the BBC, casualties are much higher in various regions of the country. Clashes across Yemen have led to more than 500 deaths and some 1,700 injured since March 26, said United Nations humanitarian administrator Valerie Amos…
…In addition to the struggle between the Houthis and Hadi supporters, Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State have reportedly entered the fray, seeking to carve out territory for further expansion.
* U.S. imperialism’s strategy in the region *
The Obama administration has said little about the current situation in Yemen. One hundred Special Forces along with diplomatic personnel were evacuated weeks ago.
Yemen was championed as a so-called “counter-terrorism success story” just months ago. Pentagon and CIA-backed airstrikes and drone attacks have killed many targeted Islamic leaders and civilians, who have been in the vicinity of Washington-ordered aerial assaults.
President Hadi’s ascendancy to power was the result of Washington’s direct intervention in 2011 and 2012, which sought to manage the transition from Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule. Nonetheless, in today’s struggle, forces allied with Saleh have joined the Houthis in opposition to the Saudi air strikes and interference in Yemen’s internal affairs.
The U.S. military has its hands full in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan where wars of regime change and purported “democracy building” have gone awry. In 2011, the Obama administration initiated the destabilization and massive bombing of Libya, displacing Col. Muammar Gadhafi’s Jamahiriya political system, destroying national institutions, and causing dislocation and economic decline there.
Corporate media report that counterattacks by forces loyal to the Saudi-backed, ousted Hadi regime were bolstered by arms drops from Riyadh. They structure the struggle in Yemen as a proxy war with Saudi forces on Hadi’s side battling Iranian influence.
In fact, Washington is using its regional pro-Western allies to carry out bombings intended to bolster U.S. corporate, financial and strategic interests in the region.
Moreover, most of the weapons, including fighter aircraft utilized by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council, made up of reactionary oil-rich monarchies, come from the U.S. and EU member states. The political independence exerted by Yemen’s Houthi movement is a concern of Washington and Wall Street, given their overall aim is to secure and expand U.S. interests on behalf of the super-rich.
Yemen is the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, but it borders wealthier oil-rich Persian Gulf states. The waterways surrounding Yemen, including the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, have strategic significance for U.S. imperialism regarding commercial shipping as well as military dominance.
* ‘Humanitarian’ interventions debunked *
Developments in Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Libya illustrate clearly that there is no such thing as a “humanitarian” imperialist intervention. Conditions in all these states have worsened as a result of the so-called “war on terrorism” and disingenuous efforts to “build democracies” in Africa and the Middle East.
Although majority-Democratic Party congresses elected in 2006 and 2008 and the Obama administration were sent to Washington with a mandate to end wars of aggression and work toward a sustainable economic revitalization in the U.S., they have failed to do so.
This starkly reveals the imperialist character of both dominant parties. Consequently, in the 2010, 2012 and 2014 elections, the Democratic Party’s electoral base among the working class and nationally oppressed expressed their opposition to these failed promises by staying away from the polls, with the exception of the re-election of Obama in 2012.
The peoples of the Middle East and Africa must rebuild their societies and national and regional institutions independent of imperialism. So, too, the working class and the oppressed inside the U.S. have no alternative other than to break with the Democrats and construct an independent movement, based on their political and class interests.
Excerpted by Zuo Shou
by Dan Froomkin
Jan. 16, 2015
by Glenn Greenwald
Jeb Bush yesterday strongly suggested he was running for President in 2016…
Excerpted; full article link: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/12/17/jeb-bush-v-hillary-clinton-perfectly-illustrative-election/
By Thomas Gaist
11 December 2014
The US is legally obliged to prosecute all high-level government officials involved in organizing the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) torture programs, top UN human rights officials said Wednesday. The torture programs violated international law, UN special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights Ben Emmerson said.
Responding to the release of the Senate report on CIA torture, Emmerson said in an official statement Wednesday that the report left no doubt that systematic torture programs set up by the US government led to massive violations of the 1994 UN Convention Against Torture.
Emmerson called on the US Attorney General to “bring criminal charges against those responsible” for torture. There is “no excuse for shielding the perpetrators from justice any longer,” he said.
“As a matter of international law, the US is legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice,” said Emmerson. “The UN Convention Against Torture and the UN Convention on Enforced Disappearances require States to prosecute acts of torture and enforced disappearance where there is sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction. States are not free to maintain or permit impunity for these grave crimes.”
Bush administration policies, “orchestrated at a high level,” led to “systematic crimes and gross violations of international human rights law,” he added.
The involvement of officials at the highest levels only makes criminal prosecutions all the more necessary, the UN official said.
“The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the US government provides no excuse whatsoever,” Emmerson said. “Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability.”
Individuals involved in torture at all levels must be held accountable. “It is no defense for a public official to claim that they were acting on superior orders,” he said.
“However, the heaviest penalties should be reserved for those most seriously implicated in the planning and purported authorization of these crimes, Emmerson said. “Former Bush administration officials who have admitted their involvement in the programme should also face criminal prosecution for their acts.”
In a separate statement, UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein similarly called for US government officials involved in torture to be prosecuted. Top US officials “cannot simply be granted impunity because of political expediency,” al-Hussein said.
“The Convention lets no one off the hook – neither the torturers themselves, nor the policy-makers, nor the public officials who define the policy or give the orders.”
An opinion piece published in the Los Angeles Times Tuesday, “Prosecute the torturers: It’s the Law,” by Erwin Chemerinsky, a law professor and dean at the UC Irvine School of Law, similar argued that the CIA’s torture programs violate US and international law.
“Torture is a federal crime, and those who authorized it and engaged in it must be criminally prosecuted.” Chemerinsky writes, citing the Federal Torture Act (FTA). The Senate report “leaves no doubt” that the torture programs also violate the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Chemerinsky wrote.
The FTA states that even if the acts are committed “outside the United States,” anyone who commits torture should receive a 20-year prison sentence at minimum, and possibly the death penalty, Chemerinsky notes.
In light of the new report, President Obama’s decision not to prosecute officials from the Bush administration is now “clearly unacceptable,” he wrote.
“The debate should not be about whether the torture worked. The federal criminal law and the treaty have no exception for effective torture,” Chemerinsky wrote. “Those responsible should be held accountable, and President Obama should announce that criminal investigations and prosecutions are beginning immediately.”
These reports, coming from pillars of the political and academic establishment, confirm that the entire US ruling elite, including both big business parties and their representatives in Congress, is implicated in historic and unspeakable crimes.
Within the US official political and media circles, such demands for criminal prosecutions against US government torturers are nowhere to be found. Neither Senator Feinstein nor any other member of the Senate Intelligence Committee saw fit to demand criminal prosecutions against officials they know to have organized torture. The 528-page executive summary proposes not a single action or punishment for the crimes it documents exhaustively.
The Obama administration has extended and deepened the open repudiation of international law by the Bush administration. The failure of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Obama administration to hold accountable torturers who acted on behalf of the US government is itself a violation of international law.
By shielding officials who have admitted to setting up torture programs, including then-President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and adamantly refusing to carry out any investigations of officials involved in torture, the Obama administration and leading senators now act as direct accomplices of torture.
Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/11/unre-d11.html
By Sara Flounders on October 7, 2014
Demonstrations in Hong Kong, China, raising demands on the procedures to be followed in city elections in 2017, have become an international issue and a source of political confusion.
The protests, called Occupy Central, have received enormous and very favorable U.S. media coverage. Every news report describes with great enthusiasm the occupation of central business parts of Hong Kong as “pro-democracy” protests. The demonstrations, which began on Sept. 22, gained momentum after Hong Kong police used tear gas to open roads and government buildings.
In evaluating an emerging movement it is important to look at what political forces are supporting the movement. What are the demands raised by the movement, who are they appealing to, and what is the social composition of those in motion?
The U.S. and British governments have issued statements of support for the demonstrations. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to heed the demands of the protesters. Wang responded by calling for respect for China’s sovereignty. Britain, which stole Hong Kong from China in 1842 and held it as a colony for 155 years under a government appointed by London, is supporting the call for “democracy” in Hong Kong. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg summoned the Chinese ambassador in order to convey the British government’s alarm.
At the present time these imperialists may not expect to overturn the central role of the Chinese Communist Party in governing China. But Occupy Central in Hong Kong is a battering ram, aimed at weakening the role of the state in the Chinese economy.
The imperialists hope to embolden the bourgeois elements and encourage the increasingly strong capitalist class within China to become more aggressive and demand the overturn of socialist norms established after the 1949 socialist revolution, including the leading role of the Communist Party in a strong sovereign state.
= Police repression: Mexico, Italy, Philippines =
In Mexico, tens of thousands of students have been protesting curriculum changes and new fees. More than 50,000 demonstrated in Mexico City for the third time. In western Mexico, 57 students from a teaching college went missing after gunslingers fired on a demonstration they were attending, killing three students and wounding three others. A Guerrero official says witnesses identified the shooters as local police officers. Mass graves have now been uncovered in an area terrorized by police and gangs.
On Oct. 2, in Naples, Italy, national police attacked demonstrators protesting against austerity and a meeting of the European Central Bank. Cops fired tear gas and water canons at thousands of protesters.
Thousands of courageous demonstrators in Manila opposed the signing of an agreement with the U.S. for an escalating rotation of U.S. troops, ships and planes into the Philippines during President Obama’s visit last April. They faced water cannons, tear gas and mass arrests.
Did any White House officials meet with Mexican officials to express concern for the killed or missing students? Did any British officials summon Italian officials to convey alarm at the tear gas and water cannons? Was there world media attention to the attacks on Philippine youth? Where was the media frenzy?
Why is it so dramatically different regarding Occupy Central in Hong Kong?
The use of tear gas by Hong Kong police is denounced by the same officials who have been silent as militarized police in U.S. cities routinely use not only tear gas but tanks, armored personnel carriers, live ammunition, electric tasers, rubber bullets, stun guns, dogs and drones in routine police sweeps.
To hear U.S. officials denouncing restrictions on candidates in Hong Kong is especially offensive to anyone familiar with the election procedures in the U.S. today. Millions of dollars are required to run a campaign here. Candidates go through multiple layers of vetting by corporate powers and by the two pro-imperialist political party apparatuses. Restrictive ballot measures are in place in every state and city election.
= ‘Color revolutions’ =
Officials and publications in China characterize the actions of Occupy Central as a U.S.-funded “color revolution” and compare it to the upheavals that swept Ukraine and former Soviet republics.
Several commentaries have described in some detail the extensive role of the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy and the Democratic National Institute, along with corporate foundations’ funding of leaders and the protest movement in Hong Kong.
Thousands of nongovernmental organizations with large staffs are based in Hong Kong. Their stated goal is to build democracy. Their real purpose is to undermine the central role of the Chinese Communist Party in the organization of Chinese society. Hong Kong, unlike the rest of China, has allowed these U.S.-funded NGOs and political associations almost unlimited access for decades…
Excerpted; full article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/10/07/hong-kong-protests-imperialists-support-democracy-movement/
Articles copyright 1995-2014 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.