Yemen, Historic Political Coverage, Will the Stockholm Ceasefire in Yemen Hold?

Will the Stockholm Ceasefire in Yemen Hold?

BRAVE NEW WORLD

John Harrison

A fragile truce between the Hadi government and Houthi forces in Yemen was secured in December after weeklong negotiations in Sweden. A small UN monitoring mission was rushed to the Yemeni port of Al Hudaydah to observe the agreement. Will the ceasefire hold in the context of Yemen’s very complex history?

Jay Tharappel, a Ph.D candidate at the University of Sydney explains the situation.

Jay says that according to the UN’s envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, both sides are largely adhering to the ceasefire… For the UN, the ceasefire is successful as it is allowing aid workers to come in and help the millions of Yemenis who are starving. “…As to whether the ceasefire will hold until late January when the next talks are held in Kuwait, I believe that it can even though there are constant violations it can still hold as long as the front line does not change much.”

One major issue is whether the customs revenues from the Al Hudaydah port are to go to the Yemen central bank in Aden run by the Hadi government, or instead to remain with Houthis’ banks. Jay says: “Let’s be very clear here, what ‘mutual troop withdrawal’ amounts to is the ending of the National Salvation Government (NSG); that is demanding that the Houthis concede control of the only port city that they have under their control. At present, most of the city is controlled by Houthis, which means that they have an interest in maintaining the ceasefire as long as possible, because that will allow food aid to flow in, whereas the Saudis have different interests, they want to seize control of Al Hudaydah because that would allow them to cut the NSG off from the sea. Roughly 75% of the population in Yemen lives under the control of the NSG, and they rely on the Al Hudaydah port for access to the sea. The Saudis would therefore like a ‘mutual troop withdrawal’  …The NSG has every right to believe that if they move out of Al Hudaydah, the Saudis will move in, as the Saudis have a track record of believing that might is right….The major issue is one of trust, whether the NSG can trust the Saudis or not. If they pull out, how do they know that the Saudis will not use their 150,000 troops to storm in claim victory?”

In the second part of the program, Jay gives a very concise history of Yemen starting with pre-WWI days when Yemen was to all intents and purpose split into two, with the Ottoman Empire controlling the northern part and the southern part being a British protectorate, right through to the present day. Jay also discusses the way that different cultural practices between peoples in different parts of Yemen manifest in varying religious practices and the way that people make money.

Jay denounces the claim that the outcome of the Yemen war is decided upon exclusively by outside forces. “Let’s ask the question: Which side can claim greater indigenous support? The Hadi government is based in Saudi Arabia, whereas the NSG is based in Yemen. The plain reality is that the bulk of the Yemeni state is behind the Houthis. The NSG is entirely indigenous. Some 150,000 troops are fighting alongside some 20,000 Al-Qaida fighters with weapons flown in from the US., Australia, Canada, and Britain, even the AP was forced to admit the following: ‘To win the Civil War against the Houthis, Al-Qaida are effectively on the same side as the United States.’ But how many people in the west know that? You have to ask yourself: Which side is more indigenous, and by far the largest side are native people, called rebels. But it is not a rebellion, it is a unification government.” Host John Harrison points out that semantics are very powerful, and once the word: ‘rebel’ is used, then all sorts of negative connotations are automatically assumed, and these connotations usually last for a long time whether justified or not.

We’d love to get your feedback at radio@sputniknews.com

original post: https://sputniknews.com/radio_brave_new_world/201901111071393719-stockholm-ceasefire-yemen/

U.S. Bases in Okinawa Are a Threat to Freedom

AsiaBasesBigotryEnvironmentNorth America

By David Swanson, Director, World BEYOND War
Remarks at Rally outside White House, January 7, 2019.

There are a number of problems with the idea that maintaining and expanding giant military bases in other people’s countries protects freedom in the U.S. or in the occupied land.

For one thing, the United States maintains these bases in everything from the most brutal dictatorships to the most liberal so-called democracies. Are the U.S. troops in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia protecting the same freedoms as those in Italy and Germany? What freedoms might those be?

For another thing, few, if any, nations occupied by U.S. bases are actually credibly threatened with invasion and overthrow. For North Korea to effectively invade and occupy either Japan or the United States, much less both of them, even if those countries were unarmed and completely unaware of nonviolent resistance tactics that have become mainstream (boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, etc.), would require the complete abandonment of North Korea by a population universally recruited into the military and multiplied by some sort of rapid cloning.

China has also expressed zero interest in occupying and reducing freedoms in Japan or the United States, would eliminate hundreds of millions of customers for its products in the process, and has responded in kind to reduced or increased U.S. militarism and hostility. In other words, occupying Okinawa with tens of thousands of armed U.S. troops does nothing positive for freedom.

But it does do something negative. The people of Okinawa are denied the freedom not to be a prime target for attack, the freedom not to have their water poisoned, the freedom to live without noise pollution and crashing airplanes and drunken vandals and rapists and massive environmental destruction. Over and over again they tell pollsters and elect governments to shut down these bases. And over and over again more bases are built in the name of spreading democracy.

The people of Okinawa don’t just vote; they organize and act nonviolently; they risk prison and injury and death. They pull in activists from around the globe to help them in their cause — a struggle against the U.S. government whose people imagine it is protecting democracy, while polls find global opinion to be just the opposite.

And of course, during all of this military buildup and the counterproductive wars and threats of wars, the people of the United States see their own freedoms eroded in the name of the militarism that is supposedly aimed at protecting their freedoms.

Okinawa ought to be independent and not Japanese, but Japan claims ownership of Okinawa, and the people of Japan are more accepting of the U.S. occupation of Okinawa, though many of them seem to be getting tired of it or at least of paying for it financially. And a lot of them are protesting in solidarity with the people of Okinawa. But the people of Japan have never been allowed to vote on the U.S. occupation of Okinawa. Nor have the people of the United States. Lay out for either population the counterproductive, endangering nature of these bases, the environmental cost, the financial cost, and the risk of provoking nuclear apocalypse, and I’d be willing to go with the resulting public vote.

But what of the idea that the bases protect not freedom but safety, that the threat is not invasion and freedom reductions but deadly attack? There are two main problems with this idea, either of which is sufficient to reject it. First, the evidence is overwhelming that this sort of militarism is counterproductive, that it generates hostility rather than deterring it. Second, even if you believe in the logic of deterrence through the threat of mass murder and destruction, current technology allows the United States to accomplish that anywhere on earth without nearby bases. This means both that the bases in Okinawa are not needed for what they claim to be for, and that they are actually kept there for some other reason or reasons. Combine this fact with the revelations made by Edward Snowden that the United States has sabotaged Japanese infrastructure in order to be able to extensively damage Japan should it choose to, and I will leave it to the people of Japan to reason out what the bases are really for.

In reality there is no upside to these bases that can be weighed against poisoning the groundwater of Okinawa with cancer-causing chemicals, raping Okinawan girls, or destroying coral that protects us all from an actual danger while creating another. Environmental collapse and nuclear war are the twin catastrophes we face. Militarism is a top cause of the first, the sole cause of the second, and the pit into which unfathomable resources are dumped instead of being put to actually protective use.

Of course, U.S. military bases poison ground water all over the United States as well, and poison U.S. troops at foreign bases, but my friend Pat Elder has noted that some people are far less accepting of being given cancer than Americans are. We cannot afford, any of us, to be accepting of increasing the risks of global catastrophe. There is no such thing as isolated climate destruction or isolated nuclear war.

We need the people of Japan and of the world to change course, uphold Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, and renounce the idea of wars, militaries, and bases. You may have heard the U.S. government is shut down. Not a single war or base or ship has been shut down. Open up the non-military U.S. government! Shut down all the military bases!

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Green Party Peace Action Committee Supports Withdrawal of U.S. Troops From Syria

Calls for Withdrawal of All Military Forces From the Region

The Green Party Peace Action Committee supports the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, consistent with its broader call to end all U.S. acts of military aggression, occupation, and intervention in the internal affairs of all sovereign nations.

A chorus of commentators in the corporate media, leaders of the military-industrial complex and members of Congress from both corporate parties were quick to condemn President Trump’s announcement of the planned withdrawal last month. Although the criticisms were framed as opposition to President Trump for his poor judgment, which made the criticisms more politically palatable, the real reason for this opposition is that the U.S. ruling class has long pushed for the overthrow of the Assad government in Syria — especially after President Bashar Al-Assad rejected Western plans for a $10 billion pipeline to ship natural gas from Qatar to Turkey in 2009.

Some Americans who ordinarily oppose U.S. war and intervention may find themselves persuaded to oppose the withdrawal because the initiative came from Trump. However, such opposition is ill-founded. To support a particular action by the president does not imply support for the president himself, trust in his judgment or motives – or even that he will make good on his promise. Such actions must be evaluated on their own merits. In this particular instance, for whatever reason, President Trump has announced an action that merits support by the peace movement and all Americans. He should be encouraged to take further like actions, not criticized simply because so many of his other policies and statements merit criticism.

Criticisms of the proposed withdrawal are based on the flimsiest of pretexts. Many critics cited Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis’s resignation in protest after Trump’s announcement, lauding Mattis as a “stable figure” in the administration. In aligning themselves with the likes of Mattis, critics are making common cause with a sociopathic warmonger who dismissed reports of civilian casualties in Iraq, and once remarked that it was “a hell of a hoot” and “fun to shoot some people” in Afghanistan.

Other critics feigned concern over the fate of Kurds in Syria, ignoring the long U.S. history of using the Kurds as a surrogate force and political football, repeatedly courted and rejected as U.S. ruling class interests dictate. Although Kurds in Syria were concerned about being attacked by Turkey, they were savvy enough to see which way the wind was blowing and are already reaching a rapprochement with the Assad government to ensure their security.

Finally, critics raise the specter of a resurgence in ISIS if the United States leaves – a criticism made ridiculous by a tremendous body of evidence showing that the rise of ISIS was itself a product of U.S. intervention in the region.

More importantly, critics of the withdrawal overlook two fundamental facts. First, U.S. funding of insurrection in Syria, and its bombing, drone strikes and military occupation of a large swath of Syrian territory are all utterly illegal under international law. Like all U.S. attacks on other sovereign nations, these acts are in violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the Nuremberg Charter and the United Nations Charter, all treaties to which the United States is a signatory. These acts, ordered in the first place by former President Obama, were also patently unconstitutional, made possible by an abdication of Congress’s exclusive constitutional authority to declare war.

Second, the attacks on Syria, like all U.S. attacks on other sovereign nations, do not in any respect serve the interests of the working-class majority of the United States. Rather, they represent the designs of Big Oil, the military-industrial-congressional complex, the Deep State, and other ruling-class interests that profit immensely from U.S. domination of the globe and perpetual warfare.

These acts of war do not enrich working-class people. They represent an enormous theft of financial resources badly needed to combat climate change, provide health care for all, higher education for all who desire it, and economic security for all. Military spending does not create jobs; it destroys jobs. Every bomb dropped and every drone strike represents millions of dollars less for schools, health care, affordable housing, public transportation, infrastructure repair, and essential services.

And of course, every bomb dropped and every drone strike on working men, women and children in nations like Syria is a thoroughly immoral and inhumane act, causing mass death, incalculable human suffering, and contributing to a global refugee crisis.

We stand with the people of Syria in demanding an end to all foreign intervention in Syria, restoration of its national sovereignty, and an end to the seven-year nightmare the people have been living. An end to “intervention” must include not only the removal of all U.S. ground troops, but the removal of all occupying forces, mercenaries, private contractors, an end to CIA and other covert intervention, an end to support for surrogate forces in Syria, and end to attacks on Syria staged from Iraq or other countries, and an end to aerial assaults on Syrian territory.

We further call on the peace movement and all concerned Americans to demand that the Trump administration and Congress put an end to all U.S. acts of military aggression, occupation, and intervention in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations, close all U.S. foreign military bases, and conduct U.S. foreign policy in a peaceful manner, in compliance with international law.

 

Is Trump Really Curtailing US Empire?

Abby and Robbie wrap up 2018 by discussing bizarre holiday antics at the White House their favorite Christmas movies, Liz Wahl running for Congress, and how inhumane US border policy is literally killing kids. The second half of the episode they discuss the notion that Trump is “curtailing US empire” by withdrawing the troops he himself added from Afghanistan and Syria, despite expanding the US military to its largest size, while increasing bombing 400% and civilian casualties nearly 300%.

*Conversation about Trump’s troop withdrawal at 48:00

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