Yemen signs military cooperation agreement with US

Yemen signs military cooperation agreement with US

[24 January 2009]

SANA’A, Jan. 24 (Saba) -

Yemen and the US signed on Saturday the
cooperation agreement between both sides in the areas of training,
technical information and the military defense.

The agreement was signed during a meeting between the general staff
Ali Ahmed al Ashwal and the US ambassador to Yemen Stephen Seche.

The meeting also discussed the ways of reinforcing cooperation
between the two armies of the two countries.

Russian official: Nabucco not a rival to other gas pipeline projects

Russian official: Nabucco not a rival to other gas pipeline projects

Interfax-Ukraine

Budapest – Russia does not see the Nabucco pipeline project, a plan to supply Europe with natural gas from Central Asia and Iran via Turkey, as a rival to South Stream or Nord Stream projects, both of which involve exports of Russian gas to Europe, First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said on Saturday.

Russia supports the idea of diversifying routes of gas delivery to Europe, Zubkov said in Budapest, after a meeting of a Russian-Hungarian commission for economic cooperation.

“The monopoly position of Ukraine as a transit route for Russian gas worries us … gas supplies to Europe should be diversified. There may be various kinds of risks, terrorism and technical difficulties among others. Construction of the South Stream, Nord Stream and Nabucco pipelines should go ahead,” he said.

“Russia has no objections to alternative projects,” Zubkov said.

He also advocated building large gas reserve depots. “It is important that all three pipelines should be supplied with [gas] on a guaranteed basis. Russia has large, necessary sources of gas for South Stream and Nord Stream. The Shtokman and Yamal fields can be sources of trillions of cubic meters of gas for Europe,” he said.

Russia does not see Nabucco as a rival project, the first deputy prime minister said. “Our project has all it needs for its implementation – we have a resource base, a market in Europe and experience of putting into practice complicated technical projects of this kind,” he said.

The development of the Nabucco pipeline may prove to be a positive result of the recent gas crisis, Zubkov said. Nabucco “may be a good monument to pride and ill-thought-out decisions,” he said.

Hungarian Finance Minister Janos Veres said South Stream would contribute to Hungary’s energy security and confirmed his country’s belief in the proposed diversification of its sources of energy and routes of its delivery.

A secure partnership in energy trade had taken shape between Hungary in Russia in recent decades, he said. “We want to sustain it, and there is interest in it on both sides,” Veres said.

Gazprom: South Stream gas pipeline project to go ahead despite world crisis

Gazprom: South Stream gas pipeline project to go ahead despite world crisis

Budapest – The global financial crisis will not lead to either the scrapping or the delay of the South Stream pipeline project, a plan to transport Russian natural gas along the Black Sea to the Balkans and further to Italy, said Alexander Medvedev deputy chief executive of Gazprom.
This year “is dedicated to preparing a feasibility study for all routes of the pipeline, [and] as soon as the feasibility study is finished it will lead to an investment decision,” Medvedev told reports in Budapest on Saturday.

“We have no major reason to put back the deadline for the implementation of the project,” he said.

South Stream is one of several pipeline projects designed to bypass Ukraine. Nord Stream, another Russian back project, envisions building a pipeline along the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany and further to the United Kingdom.

Russia’s devastating financial crisis of 1998 did not stop another Gazprom project, Blue Stream, from coming into being, Medvedev said. “Blue Stream was put into practice at the peak of the crisis of 1998. Nothing can make a good project be canceled or put off,” he said.

Medvedev was speaking after he attended a meeting in Budapest of a Russian-Hungarian economic cooperation commission.

Serbian President opposes formation of KSF

B. Tadic, Visoki Decani, April 26 ’08

Serbian President opposes formation of KSF

24. January 2009. | 09:29

Source: EMportal

Serbian President Boris Tadic sent a letter of protest to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer concerning the formation of the Kosovo security forces.

Serbian President Boris Tadic sent a letter of protest to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer concerning the formation of the Kosovo security forces.

“Your Excellencies,

I would like to inform you about Serbia’s stance concerning the recent activities performed by the provisional authorities in the southern Serbian province, Kosovo-Metohija, being under the provisional jurisdiction of the UN according to UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

Serbia opposes the formation of the so-called Kosovo security forces in Pristina and considers it an illegal paramilitary formation, which is a serious threat to the security of my country. Their current and future activities will jeopardise peace and stability in the Western Balkans, which all countries in the region strive to achieve.

I would like to point to the fact that the Kosovo security forces are not in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, but in line with the so-called Ahtisaari plan, which has never been adopted by the UN Security Council.

The formation of the Kosovo security forces is a violation of the Serbian Constitution and entirely unacceptable to Serbia. Serbia therefore considers that they must be disbanded immediately.

I would like to affirm once again that Serbia will continue its cooperation with the status-neutral international civilian missions, which operate in the province according to Resolution 1244. Serbia will monitor the situation in security terms, especially now that the so-called Kosovo security forces have been formed.

I expect further cooperation regarding this issue, which is of vital importance for Serbia”, concludes the letter.

French Naval Forces Joining International Force

Sarkozy Orders French Frigate to Patrol Gaza Coast

Readers Number : 234

24/01/2009 French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday ordered a frigate deployed immediately to the waters off Gaza in an effort to “fight arms smuggling and consolidate a fragile cease-fire.”

A statement by Sarkozy’s office said he is asking that a helicopter-carrier be sent to international waters off Gaza in full cooperation with Egypt and Israel.

He ordered Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to immediately coordinate closely with the United States and Europe to propose other ways to fight arms smuggling on land and at sea.

“With a fragile cease-fire in place and Israeli forces now out of Gaza, the urgency now is to consolidate the cease-fire through humanitarian action, a total end of arms trafficking to Gaza, the reopening of passages, reconstruction and inter-Palestinian reconciliation”, the statement said.

It added that France’s actions “must be matched by a total and permanent reopening of the border crossings to Gaza. That is why the president reiterated his call for a rapid re-activation of the Rafah checkpoint, under European control in which France will take part fully.”

Sarkozy traveled twice to the region to help put together a cease-fire in an initiative with Egypt between Israel and the Hamas resistance movement.

Israel launched an offensive Dec. 27 on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Nearly 1,300 people were killed before the cease-fire took effect Sunday.

International Law and Israel’s War on Gaza

International Law and Israel’s War on Gaza

When the Oslo Document was originally presented by the Israeli government to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations in the Fall of 1992, it was rejected by the Delegation because it obviously constituted a bantustan. This document carried out Menachem Begin’s disingenuous misinterpretation of the Camp David Accords–expressly rejected by U.S. President Jimmy Carter–that all they called for was autonomy for the people and not for the land too.

Soon thereafter, unbeknownst to the Delegation and to almost everyone else, the Israeli government opened up a secret channel of negotiations in Norway. There the Israeli government re-presented the document that had already been rejected by the Palestinian Delegation in Washington, D.C. It was this document, with very minor modifications, that was later signed at the White House on 13 September 1993.

Before the signing ceremony, I commented to a high-level official of the Palestine Liberation Organization: “This document is like a straight-jacket. It will be very difficult to negotiate your way out of it.” This PLO official agreed with my assessment and responded: “Yes, you are right. It will depend upon our negotiating skill.”

Of course I have great respect for Palestinian negotiators. They have done the best they can negotiating in good faith with the Israeli government that has been invariably backed up by the United States. But there has never been any good faith on the part of the Israeli government either before, during or after Oslo. Ditto for the United States.

Even if Oslo had succeeded, it would have resulted in the imposition of a bantustan upon the Palestinian People. But Oslo has run its course! Therefore, it is my purpose here today to chart a NEW DIRECTION for the Palestinian People to consider.

An agenda for an international legal response:

First, we must immediately move for the de facto suspension of Israel throughout the entirety of the United Nations System, including the General Assembly and all U.N. subsidiary organs and bodies. We must do to Israel what the U.N. General Assembly has done to the genocidal rump Yugoslavia and to the criminal apartheid regime in South Africa! Here the legal basis for the de facto suspension of Israel at the U.N. is quite simple:

As a condition for its admission to the United Nations Organization, Israel formally agreed to accept General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) (1947) (partition/Jerusalem trusteeship) and General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) (1948) (Palestinian right of return), inter alia. Nevertheless, the government of Israel has expressly repudiated both Resolution 181 (II) and Resolution 194 (III). Therefore, Israel has violated its conditions for admission to U.N. membership and thus must be suspended on a de facto basis from any participation throughout the entire United Nations System.

Second, any further negotiations with Israel must be conducted on the basis of Resolution 181 (II) and its borders; Resolution 194 (III); subsequent General Assembly resolutions and Security Council resolutions; the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions of 1949; the 1907 Hague Regulations; and other relevant principles of public international law.

Third, we must abandon the fiction and the fraud that the United States government is an “honest broker.” The United States government has never been an honest broker from well before the very outset of these negotiations in 1991. Rather, the United States has invariably sided with Israel against the Palestinians. We need to establish some type of international framework to sponsor these negotiations where the Palestinian negotiators will not be subjected to the continual bullying, threats, harassment, intimidation and outright lies perpetrated by the United States government.

Fourth, we must move to have the U.N. General Assembly impose economic, diplomatic, and travel sanctions upon Israel pursuant to the terms of the Uniting for Peace Resolution (1950), whose Emergency Special Session on Palestine is now in recess.

Fifth, the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine must sue Israel before the International Court of Justice in The Hague for inflicting acts of genocide against the Palestinian People in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention!

Sixth, An International Criminal Tribunal for Israel (ICTI) can be established by the UN General Assembly as a “subsidiary organ” under article 22 of the UN Charter. Article 22 of the UN Charter states the UN General Assembly may establish such subsidiary organs as it deems necessary for the performance of its functions. The purpose of the ICTI would be to investigate and Prosecute suspected Israeli war criminals for offences against the Palestinian people.

On January 4, 2009, Nobel Peace Laureate, Mairead Maguire wrote to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon and Father Miguel D’Escoto President of United Nations General assembly adding her voice to the many calls from International Jurists, Human rights Organizations, and individuals, for the UN General Assembly to seriously consider establishing an International Criminal Tribunal for Israel in view of the ongoing Israeli atrocities against the people of Gaza and Palestine.

Francis A. Boyle is Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois. He was Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations (1991-93)

Breaking Gaza ’s Will: Israel ’s Enduring Fantasy

Breaking Gaza ’s Will: Israel ’s Enduring Fantasy

My three-year-old son Sammy walked into my room uninvited as I sorted through another batch of fresh photos from Gaza .

I was looking for a specific image, one that would humanise Palestinians as living, breathing human beings, neither masked nor mutilated. But to no avail.

All the photos I received spoke of the reality that is Gaza today – homes, schools and civilian infrastructure bombed beyond description. All the faces were either of dead or dying people.

I paused as I reached a horrifying photo in the slideshow of a young boy and his sister huddled on a single hospital trolley waiting to be identified and buried. Their faces were darkened as if they were charcoal and their lifeless eyes were still widened with the horror that they experienced as they were burned slowly by a white phosphorus shell.

It was just then that Sammy walked into my room snooping around for a missing toy. “What is this, daddy?” he inquired.

I rushed to click past the horrific image, only to find myself introducing a no less shocking one. Fretfully, I turned the monitor off, then turned to my son as he stood puzzled. His eyes sparkled inquisitively as he tried to make sense of what he had just seen.

He needed to know about these kids whose little bodies had been burned beyond recognition.

“Where are their mummies and daddies? Why are they all so smoky all the time?”

I explained to him that they are Palestinians, that they were hurting “just a little” and that their “mummies and daddies will be right back.”

The reality is that these children and thousands like them in Gaza have experienced the most profound pain, a pain that we may never in our lives comprehend.

“I think that Gaza is now being used as a test laboratory for new weapons,” Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor who had recently returned from Gaza told reporters in Oslo .

“This is a new generation of very powerful small explosives that detonates with extreme power and dissipates its power within a range of five to 10 metres

“We have not seen the casualties affected directly by the bomb, because they are normally torn to pieces and do not survive, but we have seen a number of very brutal amputations.”

The dreadful weapons are known as dense inert metal explosives (DIME), “an experimental kind of explosive” but only one of several new weapons that Israel has been using in Gaza , the world’s most densely populated regions.

Israel could not possibly have found a better place to experiment with DIME or the use of white phosphorus in civilian areas than Gaza .

The hapless inhabitants of the strip have been disowned. The power of the media, political coercion, intimidation and manipulation have demonised this imprisoned nation fighting for its life in the tiny spaces left of its land.

No wonder Israel refused to allow foreign journalists into the tiny enclave and brazenly bombed the remaining international presence in Gaza .

As long as there are no witnesses to the war crimes committed in Gaza , Israel is confident that it can sell a fabricated story to the world that it is, as always, the victim, one that has been terrorised and, strangely enough, demonised as well.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on January 15.

“Livni said that these were hard times for Israel , but that the government was forced to act in Gaza in order to protect Israeli citizens.

“She stated that Gaza was ruled by a terrorist regime and that Israel must carry on a dialogue with moderate sources while simultaneously fighting terror.”

The same peculiar message was conveyed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as he declared his one-sided ceasefire on January 17.

Never mind that the “terrorist regime” was democratically elected and had honoured a ceasefire agreement with Israel for six months, receiving nothing in return but a lethal siege interrupted by an occasional round of death and destruction.

Livni is not as perceptive and shrewd as the US media fantasises. Blunt-speaking Ehud Barak and stiff-faced Mark Regev are not convincing men of wisdom. Their logic is bizarre and wouldn’t stand the test of reason.

But they have unfettered access to the media, where they are hardly challenged by journalists who know well that protecting one’s citizens doesn’t require the violation of international and humanitarian laws, targeting medical workers, sniper fire at children and demolishing homes with entire families holed up inside. Securing your borders doesn’t require imprisoning and starving your neighbours and turning their homes to smoking heaps of rubble.

Olmert wants to “break the will” of Hamas, i.e. the Palestinians, since the Hamas government was elected and backed by the majority of the Palestinian people.

Isn’t 60 years of suffering and survival enough to convince Olmert that the will of the Palestinians cannot be broken? How many heaps of wreckage and mutilated bodies will be enough to convince the prime minister that those who fight for their freedom will either be free or will die trying?

Far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman, a rising star in Israel , is not yet convinced. He thinks that more can be done to “secure” his country, which was established in 1948 on the ruins of destroyed Palestinian towns and villages. He has a plan.

“We must continue to fight Hamas just like the United States did with the Japanese in World War II,” said the head of ultra-nationalist opposition party Yisrael Beitenu.

A selective reader of history, Lieberman could only think of the 1945 atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima . But something else happened during those years that Lieberman carefully omitted. It’s called the Holocaust, a term that many are increasingly using to describe the Israeli massacres in the Gaza Strip.

It is strange that conventional Israeli wisdom still dictates that “the Arabs understand only the language of force.” If that were true, then they would have conceded their rights after the first massacre in 1948. But, following more than 60 years filled with massacres new and old, they continue to resist.

“Freedom or death,” is the popular Palestinian mantra. These are not simply words, but a rule by which Palestinians live and die. Gaza is the proof and Israeli leaders are yet to understand.

My son persisted. “Why are Palestinians so smoky all the time, Daddy?”

“When you grow up, you’ll understand.”

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers, journals and anthologies around the world. His latest book is, “The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle” (Pluto Press, London ).