SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The UK government’s double-standards on peace came further to light during its prime minister’s recent trip to the already volatile Middle East region.
Prime Minister David Cameron is known as being quite willing to stand in front of TV cameras and lecture the public on the values of peace and democracy.
But, it’s very simple to evaluate his commitment to those values through a review of his actions.
The current UK government is not only one of the main perpetrators of conflict in Syria, but it also helped destroy Libya by designating and implementing an illegal NATO bombing campaign against the country.
As recently as a few days ago, David Cameron revealed his government’s intentions to get more deeply involved with the civil war in Syria by supplying terrorists fighting the country’s popular government with heavy weaponry.
The UK government has already been promoting bloodshed in Syria through its spying agents and its special troops giving logistical help and communications services to the foreign-backed insurgents who are seeking to topple the government of president Bashar al-Assad.
Moreover, Britain not only exported weapons and crowd control equipment to the deposed Gaddafi regime months before attacking his country, but also supplied those arms and weaponry to the deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and to the regime in Bahrain, where Al Khalifa thugs have been brutally killing and imprisoning pro-democracy protesters since February last year.
Meanwhile, David Cameron was last week accompanying representatives of British weapons manufacturers to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in an attempt to win further lucrative weapons contracts for UK firms.
Britain has a shameful track record of exporting arms and equipment to regimes in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and it cannot claim to be on the side of peace and democracy while its prime minister acts as a travelling salesman for the arms industry.
Henry McLaughlin, from the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) says “despite everything that has happened in the last two years in certain Arab countries, the British government continues to bolster authoritarian regimes with weapons’ sales and to spend taxpayers’ money on promoting further arms deals.”— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - An Afghan lawmaker has censured the Unites States for its inconsistent policy in dealing with the war-torn country, accusing Washington of having contact with reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
Ramazan Bashar Doost said in an interview with Afghanpaper.com on Saturday that while the US has offered a reward of $25 million for information leading to the arrest of Mullah Omar, it has been holding direct talks with his representatives in Qatar for the past seven months.
The official further stated that although the US provides Afghan police with financial aid to fight against Taliban militants, it funds the militant group to slay Afghan police forces.
The lawmaker also accused Washington of funding Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) in a bid to assist the Taliban militant group in fighting against Afghanistan.
After more than a decade of war, Washington has repeatedly been blamed for failing to keep its promises of bringing peace and security to Afghanistan.
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.
The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but years into the invasion, insecurity is rising across the country despite the presence of thousands of foreign troops in Afghanistan.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Washington’s reaction to the surge of antiregime movements in North Africa and the Middle East has varied markedly. U.S. leaders did not hesitate to back so-called prodemocracy movements in countries that are adversaries of the United States. Both the Obama administration and Congress issued blistering condemnations of the dictatorial regimes in Iran, Libya and Syria for thwarting the democratic aspirations of their people and brutally suppressing peaceful (and many not-so-peaceful) demonstrations. In the case of Libya, the United States and its NATO allies went beyond verbal support for the insurgents to launch air strikes and provide other crucial assistance to help overthrow Muammar el-Qaddafi. A similar course is increasingly likely with respect to Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
The U.S. response to movements that targeted dictatorships friendly to the United States has been quite different. Washington dithered about whether to withdraw its support from clients in such places as Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt. Similar reluctance is evident with respect to the simmering conflict in Bahrain. Charges of U.S. hypocrisy are mounting as the Sunni ruling family intensifies its repression of mostly Shia political opponents. The Bahraini government is fast becoming a major embarrassment and potential geopolitical headache for the United States. That is not a minor consideration, since Bahrain is the home port of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.
Bahrain is perfectly situated to be a pawn in the Sunni-Shia struggle for dominance in the Middle East. The Sunni monarchy of the small island nation in the Persian Gulf rules a population that is nearly 70 percent Shiites, and stark discrimination against the latter is evident in nearly every aspect of life. Tehran openly backs Shia factions in Bahrain, while Saudi Arabia is Bahraini king Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa’s primary patron.
When massive antiregime demonstrations erupted in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, in early 2011, government security forces responded with volleys of live ammunition, killing several dozen demonstrators. Despite that crackdown, insurgents might well have toppled the monarchy if Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies had not intervened with two thousand troops in March 2011.
The Obama administration’s tepid response was in marked contrast to the vitriolic condemnation of similar crackdowns in Iran, Syria and Libya. The number of dead during the initial demonstrations in Bahrain and throughout the following months was relatively modest; estimates range from sixty to one hundred. But Bahrain’s population is very small—some 1,235,000 people. On a per capita basis, the fatalities were comparable to or greater than those in other Mideast countries. Moreover, the number of dead is not the only measure of the monarchy’s brutality. Bahrain’s security forces have jailed hundreds of regime opponents—including both domestic and foreign journalists who dared produce accounts critical of the government. Amnesty International and other human-rights organizations also have documented numerous instances of torture.
Yet Washington’s response to the crackdown and even the Saudi-led intervention has been extremely mild. The administration’s official statement did not even specifically criticize Saudi Arabia for sending troops. Instead, the State Department criticized intervention by the kingdom’s “neighbors” (apparently meaning both Iran and Saudi Arabia) as “alarming” and cautioned all players in the region to keep “their own agendas” out of the struggle between the monarchy and its opponents. Such U.S. evenhandedness also applied to the domestic struggle itself. While cautioning the Bahraini monarchy that a security crackdown was not an answer to demands for political and economic reform, the State Department also admonished the opposition “you cannot use violence. You should return to the negotiating table.”
Such a posture of moral equivalence was strikingly different from the U.S. stance toward the turmoil in Iran, Syria and Libya. That double standard became even more apparent in May 2012, when despite continuing credible reports of arbitrary imprisonment and torture of regime opponents, Washington announced the resumption of arms sales to the Bahraini government. Michael Hayworth, a spokesman for Amnesty International, stated that “the suggestion by the U.S. that attempts at reform are happening is insulting to Bahraini activists who continue to call and bleed for human rights.”
Any hope that Obama administration officials might have had that the monarchy would become more restrained in its treatment of regime opponents soon proved unfounded. In September, a Bahraini court upheld jail terms for thirteen leading opposition leaders—including seven facing life in prison—sentences that a special, thoroughly biased tribunal had imposed in June 2011.
The Bahraini government’s continuing repression and brutality is putting Washington in a very awkward position. U.S. leaders clearly give the highest priority to preserving the Fifth Fleet’s main port. Congenitally hawkish analyst Michael Rubin concedes: “As the host of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, Bahrain is the keystone in America’s regional strategy. The Obama administration is right to worry that the overthrow of the monarchy in Bahrain would lead to the eviction of U.S. interests in that tiny island nation.” Beyond that consideration, U.S. leaders are undoubtedly suspicious of Iran’s support for antiregime factions and worry that regime change in Bahrain would enhance Tehran’s power and influence.
But Washington’s blatant double standard entails more than a little risk. Not only is that hypocrisy noted—and exploited—in Shia Iran, but it has led to criticism next door in majority-Shia Iraq and among Shia populations in Syria and Lebanon. One might also wonder about the reaction among Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority.
The United States runs a dual risk with its continued support for the Bahraini monarchy. One aspect is that the apparent double standard strengthens the cynical view among populations in the Middle East and elsewhere that America stands for democracy and human liberty only when it suits Washington’s more tangible interests.
The other danger is that the United States is becoming ever more deeply entangled in the ancient feud between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. Washington’s meddling in Syria raises similar concerns, and the potential for serious blowback against the United States is very high with respect to both the Syrian and Bahraini situations.
The problem involving Bahrain is not going to go away. King Hamad’s government, backed by its Saudi patron, seems determined to retain power no matter how brutal it must become. And the Shia majority grows ever more restless and angry under such autocratic, discriminatory rule.
Washington’s headache in Bahrain threatens to get worse, not better.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: The National Interest
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Suicides among active-duty soldiers in July more than doubled from June, accelerating a trend throughout the military this year that has prompted Pentagon leaders to redouble efforts to solve a puzzling problem.
The Army, which is the only branch of the military that issues monthly press statements on suicides, said 26 active-duty soldiers killed themselves in July, compared with 12 in June. The July total was the highest for any month since the Army began reporting suicides by month in 2009, according to Lt. Col. Lisa Garcia, an Army spokeswoman.
The Marine Corps had eight suicides in July, up from six in June. The July figure was its highest monthly total of 2012 and pushed its total for the year so far to 32 — equal to the Marines' total for all of 2011. The Marines' July figure is being posted on its website but was provided first to The Associated Press.
The Air Force said it had six in July, compared with two in June. The Navy had four in July but its June figure was not immediately available.
The Army's suicide numbers have been higher than the other services, in part because it is substantially larger than the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. The Army also has had more members in combat over the past decade. It was the main ground force in Iraq and has a preponderance of the U.S. troops today in Afghanistan.
For the first seven months of 2012, the Army recorded 116 suicides among active-duty soldiers. If that pace were maintained through December the year's total would approach 200, compared with 167 for all of 2011.
“Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army,” said Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the Army's vice chief of staff, who is spearheading his service's efforts to find ways to halt the surge in suicides.
“That said, I do believe suicide is preventable,” Austin added. “To combat it effectively will require sophisticated solutions aimed at helping individuals to build resiliency and strengthen their life coping skills.”
Suicidal behavior in the military is thought to be related to cumulative stress from combat duty, but it also is believed to be linked to a range of other pressures such as marital and financial problems as well as health issues.
Of the 26 active-duty soldiers who committed suicide in July, all were male and only two were officers, according to figures provided by the Army's office of public affairs. Thirteen were married, 10 were single and three were divorced. A breakdown of the deployment history of 14 of the 26 showed that six had never been deployed, seven had been deployed between one and three times, and one had been deployed six times.
So far this year the number of suicides in the military has surged beyond expectations, given that the pace of combat deployments has begun to slow. The Defense Department closely tracks suicides throughout the military but releases its figures only once a year. The Associated Press in June obtained an internal Defense Department document that revealed that there had been 154 suicides in the first 155 days of the year, though June 3. That marked the fastest pace of active-duty military suicides in the nation's decade of war.
The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a private organization that provides support for military members and their families, said counseling and other forms of care for emotionally distraught military members is often too little, too late.
“Others never seek help out of fear over how others will view seeking treatment,” the group said in a statement Thursday.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: The Globe and Mail
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Tehran’s interim Friday Prayers Leader Hojjatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi says the current situation in Syria clearly proves the West’s double-standard policy.
While oppression prevails in reactionary Arab states, Damascus has introduced reforms, but the country is the scene of crimes orchestrated by hegemonic powers, said Hojjatoleslam Kazem Seddiqi.
The senior cleric slammed the United Nations and other international organizations for remaining silent toward the ongoing unrest in Syria, noting that the arrogant powers continue to support terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda despite their atrocities in the crisis-hit country.
He further slammed the Arab leaders for failing to fight against the “cancerous tumor” of Israel, which has targeted their very identity, and waging war against Syria and the anti-Israeli resistance front instead.
We are “surprised” to see that some of the regional states “seek to break the line of [anti-Israeli] resistance,” he said, adding that Israel’s days are numbered and it cannot be saved.
Seddiqi further referred to the illegal Western sanctions against Iran, describing them as “nothing new” for the Iranian people.
Noting that sanctions existed even during Iraq’s eight-year war against Iran, he stressed that the embargoes could not stop the Iranian nation from pursuing their goals.
“Today, we are engaged in an economic war [waged by the enemies]. This is the enemies’ last resort and the country’s authorities should manage it.”—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: WR NEWZ