Brief International


Rohingya Muslims Crisis

Myanmar cannot be trusted to put own soldiers on trial: Gambia

Myanmar cannot be trusted to hold its soldiers accountable for alleged atrocities against its Rohingya minority, and measures to stop the violence need to be taken immediately, a lawyer presenting a genocide case against it said on Thursday 12 Deccember.

Speaking on the third and final day of hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case brought by The Gambia under the 1948 Genocide Convention, the West African country’s lead lawyer repeated its demand for “provisional measures” to restrain the Myanmar military until the case is heard in full.

Paul Reichler said Myanmar had not even tried during the hearings to deny most of the accusations of extreme violence made against its military, known officially as the Tatmadaw, nor of the mass deportation of Rohingya following a 2017 crackdown.

Statements from Myanmar that it was taking action to prosecute soldiers accused of wrongdoing were incredible, he said.

“How can anyone possibly expect the Tatmadaw to hold itself accountable for genocidal acts against the Rohingya, when six  of its top generals including the commander-in-chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, have all been accused of genocide by the UN fact-finding mission and recommended for criminal prosecution,” he told the panel of 17 judges.

He was referring to the findings of UN investigators who in an August 2018 report said the Myanmar military had carried out killings and mass rape with “genocidal intent” in the 2017 operation.

The Gambia’s legal team had outlined graphic testimony from their report at the first day of hearings on Tuesday.

Reed Brody, a commissioner at the International Commission of Jurists, who was instrumental in the prosecution of former Chadian President Hissene Habre, told Al Jazeera: “It was stunning to watch Aung San Suu Kyi stonily listening and to imagine the people of Myanmar watching as Reichler laid out the UN findings pointing to Myanmar’s genocidal intent.”

“The bar for proving genocide is very high but Gambia might reach it, thanks to all the evidence.”

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to Bangladesh after the military launched its crackdown. The UN investigators have said 10,000 people may have been killed.

Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi had led her country’s defence on Wednesday, telling the court the military-led “clearance operation” in western Rakhine State was a response to coordinated Rohingya attacks against dozens of police stations in August 2017.

The Nobel peace prize laureate said Myanmar “actively investigates, prosecutes and punishes soldiers and officers that are accused of wrongdoing” and argued the tribunal, also known as the World Court, should not have jurisdiction.

She said that even if there had been violations of humanitarian law during what she described as an internal conflict, they did not rise to the level of genocide and were not covered by the 1948 convention.

The court has not set a date for a decision on provisional measures, but one could come in January.

Its decisions are binding and not subject to appeal, though it has no means of enforcement and countries have occasionally ignored them or failed to fully adhere.

After the decision on provisional measures, the process may continue to a full case that could last years.

“On Thursday push comes to shove for The Gambia,” said Brody. “Myanmar argued that the standard for finding genocidal intent is very high and for issuing an order for provisional measures is even higher. So Gambia will have to convince the very conservative judges to inject themselves into a dispute before them.”

Elsewhere, critics noted that during her 30-minute opening statement, Suu Kyi failed to use the word Rohingya to describe the minority. She only used the word Rohingya when referring to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

Mark Kersten, consultant at the Berlin-based Wayamo Foundation, an NGO promoting international criminal justice, said: “Imagine if someone said there is no genocide of a people who cannot be named because they don’t exist. Then tune into the ICJ hearings and you witness exactly that. The depravity of it is maddening.”

Tun Khin, a Rohingya activist based in the UK, told Al Jazeera: “Aung San Suu Kyi’s remarks were as calllous as they were deluded. They fly in the face of the overwhelming body of evidence gathered by the UN and others that the Rohingya are facing ongoing genocide.”

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Japanese doctor among six dead in Afghan gun attack

(4 December 2019) A Japanese doctor who devoted his career to improving the lives of Afghans has died, after being injured in an attack in eastern Afghanistan. Gunmen shot Tetsu Nakamura, 73, while he was travelling in a car to monitor a project. Five Afghans were also killed in the attack, which happened in the city of Jalalabad.

Dr Nakamura headed a Japanese charity focused on improving irrigation in the country.

In October this year, he was awarded honorary citizenship from the Afghan government for his humanitarian work.

No-one has yet said they carried out the attack and the motive remains unclear. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he was “shocked” by the death of Dr Nakamura while the US embassy in Kabul condemned the shooting, saying “aid workers are not targets”.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) expressed its “revulsion” over the killing.

Attacks of this kind are fairly common in Afghanistan. Last week, a US national working for the UN in Afghanistan was killed in a blast targeting a UN vehicle.

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At Least 23 Soldiers Killed in Insider Attack in Afghanistan

A Taliban infiltrator opened fire on soldiers as they were sleeping in a military base in Ghazni Province.

By Fahim Abed | Dec. 14, 2019

KABUL, Afghanistan  At least 23 soldiers were killed while they were sleeping  in an

insider attack in eastern Afghanistan, officials said, the latest episode of enemy

infiltration that has raised concerns about a new local military force billed as the

hope for holding territory recaptured from the Taliban.

The Taliban infiltrator, who was on duty at a military base in Ghazni Province, opened fire on his colleagues, wiping out almost the whole unit, officials said. The attacker then seized all weapons and equipment in the base and joined the insurgency.

The figure of 23 came from Esmatullah Jamuradwal, a member of the provincial council, who said that only one soldier, out of 24 in the Territorial Army unit, had survived. “The attacker packed all weapons and ammunition in a Humvee and drove to the Taliban,” he said.

This was the second deadly attack by an infiltrator in the Territorial Army in the Qara Bagh District of Ghazni. In July, Col. Abdul Mobin Mohabati, the commander of the Afghan Army forces in the provinces, was killed by such an infiltrator.

This past week, as Taliban negotiators resumed peace talks with American diplomats, militants set off a car bomb and penetrated a medical facility attached to Bagram Air Base, killing at least two people and wounding at least 73.

Courtesy: New York Times)

Taliban attack on Afghanistan army base kills 10 wounded 4 soldiers

Helmand-(29 Dec.)Four others wounded as Taliban fighters dig tunnel before attacking military compound in the southern Helmand province. The Taliban detonated a bomb before storming the compound in Sangin district, followed by an hours long the provincial governor said.

There were 18 soldiers in the base at the time of the attack “providing security to the people of Sangin”, Nawab Zadran, a spokesman for 215 Maiwand Army Corps in southern Afghanistan, said.

In a statement sent to media, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the fighters also seized weapons and ammunition.

The Taliban have increased their attacks in recent days on Afghan army bases and checkpoints across different provinces.

On Thursday 27 Dec., a similar attack killed six Afghan soldiers as a Taliban suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car outside an army compound in the northern Balkh province.

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Why is Israel Armed with an Estimated 400 Nuclear WMDs?

Because the Israeli government refuses to be a party either to the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the internationally agreed Chemical Weapons or Biological Weapons Conventions (CWC) (BWC), means that unlike the vast majority of UN Member States including America, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany etc., the state of Israel is uniquely able to mount a nuclear/chemical attack upon any country in the Middle East (or Europe), at any time, without warning.

Israel is, of course, the only undeclared nuclear-weaponised state in the world and is estimated by US scientists to have up to 400 nuclear weapons plus substantial stocks of banned chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMD).  Furthermore, the Israeli state is NOT a member of either NATO or the EU.

Frighteningly, it now has a second-strike capability through its nuclear-armed cruise missiles that can be delivered by land, submarine-launched or aircraft. That fact alone makes it, arguably, the most dangerous state on the planet with the ability to destroy and contaminate whole swathes of Europe and the Middle East, for more than a generation.

However, instead of meeting this threat with a national defence planning campaign, the U.K. government exports military equipment to the Netanyahu Likud administration to assist in its potential for regional military domination.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon sit in front of a display of M302 rockets, found aboard the Klos C ship, at a navy base in the Red Sea resort city of Eilat March 10, 2014. Netanyahu, displaying on Monday what Israel said were seized Iranian-supplied missiles bound for militants in Gaza, called on the West not to be fooled by Tehran’s diplomatic outreach over its nuclear programme. REUTERS/Amir Cohen (ISRAEL  Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CIVIL UNREST)  RTR3GGUG

Why? That is a question that must remain unanswered for there is no valid explanation for a British government helping to further arm a potential future enemy that is the only undeclared nuclear state in the world and which already has a fleet of German-built, Dolphin-class submarines armed with nuclear cruise missiles plus its Jericho series of intermediate to intercontinental range ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

The status quo would appear to be both political and military madness.

There can be but one explanation: the powerful influence of the friends of Israel lobby at Westminster  and, of course, that of its sister lobby, AIPAC, in Washington.

And, it is noted here that at least one member of the current British cabinet of Boris Johnson, has been established in the public domain as a known collaborator with the hard-Right, settler-controlled, Netanyahu government.

Hans Stehling (pen name) is an analyst based in the UK. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

UN officially asks Israel to leave Golan Heights

(December 5, 2019) The UN General Assembly yesterday officially asked Israel to leave the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

The request was made after the resolution was adopted after 91 UN member states voted in favour, nine rejected and 65 abstained. The resolution stipulates that Israel leaves all the Syrian Golan Heights occupied in June 1967, stating this is an implementation of the UN Security Council’s resolution.

Regarding the Israeli decision to annex the Golan Heights made on 4 December 1981, the UN said this was “null and void”.

On 15 November 2018, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution asking Israel to stop exploiting the natural resources in the Palestinian territories, including the occupied East Jerusalem and Syrian Golan Heights.

In March the US announced that it was time to back Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

(Courtesy MiddleEastMonitor.com)

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Boris Johnson’s Conservatives cruise to victory in election as British pound and stocks surge

(Dec 13, 2019) British pound and U.K. homebuilders surge after victory

Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has won Britain’s crunch election and gained a decisive majority as voters backed his pledge to “get Brexit done.”

The Prime Minister’s commanding win in the early hours of Friday morning saw his Conservatives secure the highest majority of any government since Tony Blair’s Labour in 2001.

 With just one seat left to be declared, the Conservatives upped their presence in Parliament by 47 seats to 364, while Labour lost 59 seats to 203.

Johnson fought his campaign on the controversial issue of whether Britain should leave the EU  which has split the country and been a drag on the pound and markets since the referendum in 2016. But the size of the win and the increased certainty that the country will now depart the EU early next year sent the pound soaring GBPUSD, -0.0300%   to a 19-month high versus the dollar. While off its post-election highs, the pound still fetched over $1.34, compared to $1.3164 on Thursday.

“While the election outcome was quickly reflected in the pound exchange rate, the direction from here depends on what kind of relationship Boris Johnson really wants to have with the E.U.,” said Van Luu, head of currency and fixed income strategy at Russell Investments, who says the pound could climb as high as $1.38.

Stocks in the U.K. MCX, +3.44%    particularly homebuilders and banks exposed more to the British economy than the global one  surged. “No election result was going to be ideal for equity markets, but this is probably as good as it gets,” said strategist at Citi.

Johnson now has a mandate to ratify the Brexit deal he struck with the European Union, and the U.K. could be set to leave on Jan. 31, which is 10 months later than initially planned. Attention will now move toward reaching a trade deal, both with the E.U. as well as the United States.

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Russia has backed French President Emmanuel Macron’s push for  European states to join talks on a ‘new’ strategic arms control agreement after the demise of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty)

Talks on the replacement of the defunct INF Treaty cannot be focused only on the prospects of China joining in, the Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Wednesday.

“First, we need to talk about the Western European countries, on whose territories the mid-range and short-range missiles are also located,” he said. “We need a new treaty because the old one, unfortunately, is already gone  it was done so not by our initiative.”

We cannot exist in a state of vacuum, where nothing is being regulated by international law [anymore].

The INF Treaty between the US and Russia banned all land-based missiles with a range of up to 5,500km (3,420 miles) and their launchers. Washington abandoned the agreement in August, after accusing Moscow of violating it. Russia denied the allegations, but also ended its participation in the treaty after the US left it.

ALSO ON RT.COM’Some good things can happen’: At NATO, Trump talks nuclear deals with Russia & China but his record tells another story US President Donald Trump has been saying for months that China should join a new arms control pact in the future, without any concrete suggestions for negotiations. So far Beijing said it is not interested.

French leader Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, suggested Europe should participate in the talks.

“After the decision on the end of the INF Treaty we have to build something new…” he said during a meeting with Trump in London on Tuesday. “And I want a European component to be part of the future negotiations on such a ‘new INF Treaty.’”

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Ayodhya verdict: India top court rejects review pleas by Muslims

India’s Supreme Court has dismissed petitions seeking a review of its recent ruling in favour of building a Hindu temple on a disputed site in northern India where a 16th-century mosque was torn down by a Hindu mob in 1992. The petitioners, representing the Muslim litigants, had said they were aggrieved by the court’s decision and sought reconsideration of the verdict. A total of 18 petitions were heard by the court.

“We have carefully gone through the review petitions and the connected papers filed therewith. We do not find any ground, whatsoever, to entertain the same. The review petitions are, accordingly, dismissed,” a five-member bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said. Muslim petitioners who pressed for a review said they found the verdict unfair and a majority of India’s Muslim population was against the ruling. The petitioners still have a last legal recourse of filing a curative petition in the Supreme Court, asking it to “cure” perceived defects in the verdict. Ayodhya dispute

On November 9, the court held that the site in Ayodhya will be given to a government-run trust for the building of a Hindu temple, while Muslims were allotted five acres (two hectares) of land at an alternative site to construct a mosque there. The ruling was seen as a major victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which has promised to build a Hindu temple at the demolished site as part of its election strategy for decades.

The dispute over the site of the Babri mosque in the town of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh state has lasted for more than 70 years. Hindus believe Lord Ram, the warrior god, was born at the site and that a Mughal Muslim ruler built a mosque on top of a temple there. A December 1992 riot following the destruction of the mosque sparked communal violence in which about 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.(SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES)

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General Rawat appointed India’s 1st Chief of Defence Staff

India’s first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) will be a four-star officer responsible for heading the department of military powers in the defence ministry.

NEW DELHI (Dec 30, 2019)  In a move seen as a further indication of the government’s intentions to appoint Gen. Bipin Rawat as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff, the Defence Ministry has amended rules of service and tenure in the Army Rules, 1954.

According to Indian media reports, the Indian government has changed the service rules of Army Act, 1950 and the age limit for retirement of army generals has also been increased to 65 years. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had on Dec 24 approved the creation of the post of CDS who will act as the principal military adviser to the Defence Minister on matters pertaining to tri-services.

Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat is tipped to be India’s first CDS and the announcement is likely to be made before Dec 31, the day he retires. Although Gen Rawat is yet to attain the age of 62, he will demit office on completion of his set tenure of three years. According to some media reports, at least five names are on the government’s table for consideration, and the file has not been signed as yet, but Gen Rawat is said to be the front runner for the post.

General Rawat has been the blue-eyed boy of the Narendra Modi government that went out of its way and superseded two Lt Generals senior to him — Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Lt Gen Pattiarimal Mohamadali Hariz — in appointing Rawat the Army chief in December 2016. Gen Rawat has often courted controversy through his statements on India’s foreign policy to internal politics, the latest being his criticism of students and youth protesting against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

A key mandate of the CDS will be to facilitate restructuring of military commands for optimal utilisation of resources by bringing about jointness in operations, including through establishment of theatre commands.

The Chief of Defence Staff will serve as the secretary of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) in the Defence Ministry. The CDS will also act as the permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC) that comprises chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. The senior-most member is appointed its chairperson.

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More than 56,000 guns handed back to New Zealand authorities during amnesty Christy Somos CTVNews | December 21, 2019

TORONTO — More than 56,000 weapons have been handed in to New Zealand authorities during the six month firearm buy-back and amnesty period, police say.

The scheme was implemented after the New Zealand government banned semi-automatic weapons in response to the March 15 Christchurch mosque shootings, which killed 51 people.

The buy-back program and amnesty ran from April to Dec. 20, and owners were compensated up to 95 per cent of the original price of the weapons, according to the BBC.  “As of midnight, 20 December 2019, 56,250 firearms and 194,245 parts have been handed in. There has also been 2,717 firearms modified to make them lawful,” said Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement in a press release.

“The gun buy-back is unprecedented and has been a huge logistical exercise for police,” Clement said. “Police really have made every effort to provide frequent and accessible options to firearms owners so there really were no excuses for taking part.”

The release said there were exemptions from the firearm buy-back if the owners met specific licensing requirements.

The breakdown of the six month firearm buy-back and amnesty implemented by New Zealand authorities in response to the Christchurch mosque shootings (New Zealand Police)

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Kazakhstan plane crash: 14 killed as Bek Air flight goes down near Almaty airport

(27 Dec, 2010 A Fokker 100 passenger jet belonging to Bek Air airline lost altitude and crashed into a two-story building during take-off from Almaty International Airport. While there were “multiple survivors”, at least 14 people were killed and dozens injured in the crash, many critically. Dozens of rescue personnel and medics continue to work at the scene in search for survivors.

There are at least 8 children among those saved from the rubble and rushed to a hospital, but it is yet unnown if any minors were killed in the crash.

Bek Air Flight 2100 with 95 passengers and 5 crew on board was heading for the capital, Nur-Sultan, but “lost altitude during takeoff and broke through a concrete fence” before hitting a small building, Kazakhstan’s Civil Aviation Committee said.

78+  killed 125 wounded in Somali capital Mogadishu car bomb attack

(28 Dec. 2019) No claim of responsibility for the attack in Somalia.

“The number of the dead from the blast is still increasing, we now have 78 dead and 125 injured,” the director of the private Aamin Ambulance service, Abdukadir Abdirahman Haji, told AFP news agency.

Police officer Mohamed Hussein said the blast targeted a tax collection centre during the morning rush hour.

Those wounded include children and several university students who had been travelling in a bus, Hussein said.

There were conflicting reports about the number of casualties. Speaking to Al Jazeera, the adviser to Mogadishu’s mayor said the death toll “is above 90 at the moment”.

“There are many casualties as well so the death toll is expected to rise,” Hodan Ali said, adding that the explosion took place at the Ex-Control junction.

Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa said Somali police officers were among the casualties.

(Source: Al Jazeera)

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Taliban say have ‘no ceasefire plans’ in Afghanistan By Agence France-Press on December 30, 2019

In the past few days, some media have been releasing untrue reports about a ceasefire… The fact is that, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has no ceasefire plans.

The US and the Afghan government in Kabul have long called for a ceasefire with the Taliban, including during the year of

 negotiations between Washington and the militants.

Trump is looking to slash the troop presence in Afghanistan, potentially even before a deal between Washington and the

Taliban is cemented.

KABUL: The Taliban denied agreeing to any ceasefire in Afghanistan after rumours swirled of a potential deal that would see a reduction in fighting after more than 18 years of war.

The statement from the insurgents comes as local and international forces brace for another bloody winter amid renewed US-Taliban talks, after President Donald Trump called off the negotiations earlier this year over insurgent attacks.

“In the past few days, some media have been releasing untrue reports about a ceasefire… The fact is that, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has no ceasefire plans,” the Taliban said, after multiple media reports, including a story in the Wall Street Journal, suggested the group was on the verge of announcing some type of temporary truce.

The US and the Afghan government in Kabul have long called for a ceasefire with the Taliban, including during the year of negotiations between Washington and the militants that were abruptly called off by Trump in September.

However, the insurgents have repeatedly stated that any potential truce will only be ironed out after American troops withdraw from the country. The US-Taliban talks, held mainly in Doha, were aimed at allowing Washington to begin withdrawing troops in return for various security guarantees. They were on the brink of a deal when Trump abandoned the effort in September, citing Taliban violence. Negotiations have since restarted in Doha, but were earlier this month put on a “pause”.

Trump is looking to slash the troop presence in Afghanistan, potentially even before a deal between Washington and the Taliban is cemented.

Deadly bouts of fighting continue however, with tens of thousands of Afghan security forces killed since they inherited combat operations from NATO at the end of 2014.

PAKISTAN NAVY HOLDS OPERATIONAL COMMANDS & INDUSTRIAL SEMINARS AT KARACHI

PRESS RELEASE Directorate General Public Relations (Pakistan Navy)

Karachi, 29 Dec 20919: Pakistan Navy Operational Commands Seminar 2019 and 3 rd Pakistan Navy Industrial Seminar were held at Karachi. Chief of the Naval staff, Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi graced the occasions as Chief Guest.

 During Operational Commands Seminar 2019, latest developments in the realms of Cyber and Space warfare vis-à-vis regional security situation were thoroughly analyzed by the panels participating in the seminar.

The Chief Guest appreciated the quality of the papers and recommendations presented by the panelists. The Naval Chief emphasized on moving forward while comprehending hybridization of contemporary warfare in all domains including Cyber and Space warfare.

While addressing the Industrial seminar, the Admiral expressed deep satisfaction over the performance of the newly established Navy Research and Development Institute (NRDI) and appreciated progress made by NRDI in various projects.

He also praised the collaboration of NRDI with local industry and academia and said that such interactions provide opportunities to seek long term joint ventures/ collaboration in various emerging naval systems and technologies. The Chief Guest lauded the valuable and informative participation by the representatives of various industries from private sector.

 He further said that in the era of globalization and technological innovation, we need to join hands for concrete collaborations and partnerships that can add value to our national economy and strength of our national defence.

Appreciating the response of private sector in a technologically challenging environment, the Chief Guest said that a truly ‘Made in Pakistan’ warship is the ultimate realization of the dream of self-reliance. Speakers from different organizations also highlighted importance of Indigenization and Self-reliance.

The Seminars were attended by a large number of Naval Officers, dignitaries & reps of Local Industry and prominent members of academia.

Director General Public Relations (Navy)

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