The repatriation of French troops deployed in Afghanistan will be completed by the end of 2013, a year earlier than the term of the late 2014 until then held by NATO. | AFP / Eric Feferberg
[The following is taken from Germany's premier news source, Der Spiegel, so we can assume that they have the known facts correct, namely, that the trio of spies consisted of one military man and a married couple. The original reports from Pakistan's Dawn gave the names as "Curtain Wild, a colonel in German army who has spent time in Afghanistan and Kosovo, Lauren and Rhodwolf Smith." I am going to take a wild guess and say that the names are Col. Curt Wild (or Wald) and Lauren and Rudolf Smith. It is highly unlikely that there are any Germans named "Smith," so no one can really know who they are.
Here is today's anti-German Pakistani news item (SEE: German arrested in Islamabad).]
By Hasnain Kazim in Islamabad
The case of three Germans who were arrested and interrogated by Pakistani police over the weekend has strained relations between the two countries. Berlin summoned Pakistan’s acting ambassador to Germany on Monday in protest of the approach taken by local Pakistani authorities, but not all of their questions were answered.
“In our view, the incident still needs further clarification,” a German Foreign Ministry source told SPIEGEL ONLINE. The Pakistani embassy confirmed that Berlin had made its “concern” known.The diplomatic protest note signals a new turn in the case. Before this, Berlin had neither background information nor confirmation that the Germans had been questioned. It’s a delicate issue, because Pakistan claims the three people work for Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), the country’s foreign intelligence agency. The Foreign Ministry has not confirmed this, however, describing them instead as “diplomatically registered workers for the embassy in Islamabad.”
The trio, which has reportedly since been released, was arrested on Saturday in the western Pakistani city of Peshawar and brought to the capital Islamabad for questioning. According to Pakistani police, the two men and one woman gave conflicting reports about their identities. “First they said they worked for a development agency,” a Peshawar police officer said. “Then they said they worked for the German Embassy and were tasked with overseeing development projects in the region.” They were reportedly unable to prove their claims with documentation.
Pakistani authorities also found business cards in the trio’s possession that indicated they were from the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the organization under which their vehicle was also registered. But Pakistani intelligence sources claim they were actually BND agents. “We have observed them for a long while and determined they were spying,” said a source familiar with the case.
Though the BND has declined to comment, sources within German and regional Pakistani security circles have confirmed that the people in custody were German foreign agents. German sources, however, did not confirm that they had been disguised as development workers. Sources in Berlin suggested that someone in Pakistan wanted to discredit the GIZ.
Pakistani officials reportedly came across the three Germans after reviewing whether all foreigners in the city had registered with the authorities. The group in question had apparently not done so. One of the men was reportedly determined to be a colonel with years of foreign intelligence experience in Bosnia, among other places. The Pakistani police not only released the names of the detainees, but also allowed them to be photographed by the local press.
SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that the trio has since been handed over to the German Embassy in Islamabad, after which they were flown back to Germany on Sunday night.
For decades, the BND has run a one-man office in Peshawar, with other workers based at the embassy in Islamabad. BND employees are said to travel regularly to the region to support colleagues there. In addition to observing the state of the troubled nation, their efforts concentrate mainly on gaining information on extremists, particularly German jihadists. Officially, the agents operate as political consultants.
A number of questions arise after the arrests. Did the German Development Ministry and the GIZ know that Germany agents were passing themselves off as aid workers? Did the agents have Berlin’s blessing to do so?
The German Embassy in Islamabad declined to comment on the matter, but sources in diplomatic circles said that people at the embassy have been “very busy” since the weekend. Meanwhile the GIZ has said that the three Germans were not their employees. “Furthermore, we didn’t lend a vehicle to anyone,” a spokeswoman said.
A member of Development Minister Dirk Niebel’s staff made a similar statement: “We have no knowledge of the incident. As to the question of to what extent agents use the identities of development workers, you would have to ask the BND.”
‘Under General Suspicion’
A number of German development organizations are active in Pakistan, particularly after the flood catastrophe in the summer of 2010. But after the arrests, some workers worry they will be suspected of being spies instead. “That is definitely a life-threatening issue,” said one development worker who asked not to be named. “Certainly extremists don’t think twice when they believe someone is a Western spy. And we work in a lot of regions where there are extremists.”Just last week, a German development worker and an Italian were kidnapped in the central Pakistani city of Multan. The kidnappers demanded a ransom over the weekend, sources in Pakistan said. According to a police officer, the people behind the abduction are likely “regular criminals,” and not extremists.
But if there is an impression that many development workers might be spies, the result could be more kidnappings and murders, sources in the field say. “If rumors circulate that secret agents are operating under the cover of development aid and using our good reputation to gain the trust of their sources, then we will all fall under general suspicion,” said one worker at a Catholic aid organization in Islamabad. “The BND must immediately make it clear that something like this will never happen again. Otherwise we might as well discontinue our work immediately.”
With reporting by Matthias Gebauer, Yassin Musharbash and Veit Medick
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Wednesday issued notices to the defence secretary, director generals of the ISI and MI, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general in a missing personsí petition.
The court accepted a plea to inquire about the deaths of four missing prisoners out of 11, who were allegedly picked up by intelligence agencies from outside Adiala Jail following their release in 2010.
The court sought a reply in this regard from the attorney general (AG) by January 30. A three-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez, was hearing a petition filed by Ruhaifa, the mother of three of the prisoners.
The court issued notices to other respondents, including the defence secretary, ISI and MI director generals, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general. During the hearing, the chief justice expressed concern over the death of four missing prisoners and asked the AG that the matter be probed keeping in view its seriousness.
Tariq Asad, counsel for the applicant, submitted that he had a video of the prisoners who were killed using torture. He said the bodies of three missing prisoners were found in hospitals but the last one was recovered from a forest near Peshawar. The AG requested the court to give some time to gather details from the relevant authorities. The court adjourned the hearing till January 30.
In the petition Ruhaifa had stated that four of the 11 prisoners allegedly picked up by intelligence agencies, despite their release by the Lahore High Court, died in their custody. She said her three sons ñ Syed Abdus Saboor, Syed Abdul Basit and Syed Abdul Majid ñ along with eight other people were still in the “unlawful” custody of the agencies.
Muhammad Aamir died on August 15, Tashinullah on December 17 and Said Arab on December 18 last year. Their bodies were handed over to their families at the Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar.
Ruhaifa’s lawyer requested the court to direct the respondents to submit a report about the deaths of the three prisoners, and the status of the remaining detainees. The petitioner also said the detention of the prisoners was in violation of Articles 4, 10, 10-A and 14 of the Constitution. “The respondents should also be asked to explain if all the prisoners are subject to the Army Act,” Ruhaifa said in the petition.
Friday, December 10, 2010
ISLAMABAD: The top intelligence agencies of the country admitted before the Supreme Court on Thursday that 11 missing inmates of the Adiala Jail were in their custody and were being tried under the Army Act.
Raja Muhammad Irshad further stated that some persons disguised as secret agencies personnel took custody of these 11 persons who were detained at the Adiala Jail after their release from the jail, and took them to the operational areas to further carry out terrorist attacks.
Later, the counsel submitted before the court that the law enforcing agencies, including secret agencies, had launched an operation and arrested more than 20 people, along these 11 persons, and they were interrogated as they had deep links with terrorists in different areas of the country and damaged the property of the country, attacking the Army personnel and defence installations.
The counsel further submitted that these 11 persons were in the custody of secret agencies and law enforcing agencies and were being interrogated in accordance with the law under the Army Act. He contended were no more missing persons but were in custody of local and secret agencies. To a court query, the counsel said they were safe and alive and being court-martialed under the Army Act.
“I am making a clear statement before the court on behalf of these secret agencies and dispel the impression that the Pakistan Army or any of its functionaries, like the ISI, are not amenable to this court,” the counsel submitted, adding that Pakistan Army and ISI and other organisations were subject to the Constitution and hold this court in high esteem.
The counsel further contended that there were certain elements who had vested interests and were creating misunderstandings by giving an impression that the Pakistan Army and the ISI were above the law and had no respect for the court.
He explained that this impression may not be considered at all as they had full respect and were bound to follow orders and judgments of this court. The court directed the learned counsel to submit his written statement in this regard on Friday (today) and adjourned the hearing.
Earlier on December 7, officials of secret agencies had met Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq in his office at the Supreme Court and told him that there was a major breakthrough in the case of missing prisoners. Just after the meeting, the attorney general had filed an application in the Supreme Court, seeking early hearing of the missing prisoners’ case, already fixed for hearing on December 13, stating that a major development had occurred in the case, thus it needed to be heard on urgent basis.
On November 25, the court had questioned the law, which regulated functioning of the secret agencies, besides inquiring under what law these agencies were claiming immunity to be not made respondents in the constitutional petitions.
Referring to a reply submitted by the heads of secret agencies in the Supreme Court through the attorney general that missing inmates of Adiala Jail were not in their custody; agencies could not be made respondents in the constitutional petitions and pleas of missing prisoners’ legal heirs making the agencies as respondents were not maintainable; the court had expressed severe anguish, asking the attorney general to tell under which law, the spy agencies were working and claiming immunity not to be impleaded respondents in any case.
The attorney general, however, had withdrawn the reply that secret agencies had immunity and could not be made respondents in any case, after the court had expressed severe dismay over the reply.
The chief justice had noted that no one was above the law, and the court wanted solution to the matter instead of opening Pandora’s box. On November 12, the court had issued notices to the heads of secret agencies—ISI, MI and IB—seeking their comments over disappearance of Adiala Jail’s inmates.
The chief justice had noted that the court should not be forced to go to the maximum extent as evidence was there about the whereabouts of the missing prisoners. The chief justice had noted that it was stated in the Special Branch’s daily situation report (DSR) presented before the court earlier that these prisoners were picked up by the secret agencies from Adiala Jail.
The prisoners, who went missing from the Adiala Jail after the Lahore High Court (LHC) had ordered their release, include Dr Niaz Ahmed, Mazharul Haq, Shafiqur Rehman, Muhammad Aamir, Abdul Majid, Abdul Basit, Abdul Saboor, Shafique Ahmed, Said Arab, Gul Roze and Tehseenullah.
These prisoners were acquitted by the anti-terrorism court in April this year in four different cases, including rocket firing on the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, rocket firing on the plane of former President Pervez Musharraf, suicide attack on the bus of personnel of an intelligence agency in Rawalpindi and the suicide attack on the main entrance of the military headquarters.
Even after acquittal, these prisoners were detained in the jail by the Punjab Home Department. Later, the LHC set aside their detention orders directing their immediate release and after their alleged disappearance/abduction by the secret agencies, the LHC ordered registration of criminal case against Adiala Jail superintendent Saeedullah and Deputy Superintendent Khalid Bashir. The Adiala Jail authorities had maintained before the LHC that they properly had released the men after getting their written signatures and fulfilling all requirements.
APP adds: A counsel for country’s sensitive agency on Thursday apprised the Supreme Court that eleven missing prisoners of Adyala Jail had been arrested along with a number of terrorists from their hideouts in Army operational areas.
Raja Muhammad Irshad, counsel for Federation, Pakistan Army, Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, Military Intelligence, told a three-member bench consisting of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday that after Court’s direction a massive operation was launched and more than 20 terrorists including these eleven people had been arrested in the operational areas.
He said they were in safe and secure hands and would be charged under Army Act. He assured the court that their trial would be held in General Field Court Martial in accordance with law.
Recording his statement on behalf of respondents, he said that the impression should be dispelled that Pakistan Army and its other institutions were above law and the Court. He said negative impression was given by certain elements who had been playing in the hands of those people who were out to secure their vested interests.
He said, “I want to record a statement to dispel the impression that Pakistan Army or any of its organ is above law and defy Court’s orders. They submit themselves before the Constitution and hold the apex court in the highest regard.”
“They appreciate what the Court is doing for the constitutional governance of the country,” he added. He said these institutions were bound to follow order and judgement of this Court.
Giving details of the incident, he said these prisoners soon after their release from the jail voluntarily given themselves in the custody of people who disguised themselves as secret agencies personnel.
From there, they were taken to operational areas as they had close links with a well-knit terrorists organization and were prepared to cause further damage by launching attacks on Army and sensitive installations.
Irshad said that these people were masterminds of terrorists attacks of Hamza Camp, GHQ, Kamra, Juma prayer attack and even involved in an attack on three-star general in Rawalpindi.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry told Ilyas Aziz Siddiqui, counsel for petitioners, that they were no more missing ones. To counsel’s objection, the Chief Justice told him that he could contact concerned authorities as the counsel had assured the Court that they would be treated according to law.
To Raja Irshad’s remark, the chief justice observed that they had much respect for Army and its organs as they were defending the country, countrymen and frontiers. Justice Ghulam Rabbani said that they knew it very well that forces had laid down their lives for the protection of country.
The chief justice told Raja Irshad to submit his statement before the Court on Friday in written form after which the order would be passed accordingly. The prisoners who went missing from the Adiala Jail after the Lahore High Court (LHC) had ordered their release included: Dr Niaz Ahmed, Mazhar-ul-Haq, Shafiqur Rehman, Muhammad Aamir, Abdul Majid, Abdul Basit, Abdul Saboor, Shafique Ahmed, Said Arab, Gul Roze and Tehseenullah.
The prisoners were acquitted by an Anti-Terrorism Court in April this year in four different cases, including rocket firing on the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, rocket firing on the plane of former president, suicide attack on the bus of personnel of an intelligence agency in Rawalpindi and the suicide attack on the main entrance of the Military Headquarters.
(RTTNews) – NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said that the initial components of the European missile defense system is expected to be in place by the time of the Chicago Summit in May.
He said this on Thursday, while launching NATO’s first ever ‘Annual Report,’ which gives a brief overview of the Alliance’s principal achievements and challenges in 2011.
The missile defense system to defend European Allies’ populations, territory and forces against the growing threat of ballistic missile proliferation is “smart defense” at its best and it embodies transatlantic solidarity, the NATO chief said in his foreword to the annual report.
He said the Alliance had already made considerable progress, as along with a prominent and phased U.S. contribution, a number of Allies have made significant announcements, including Turkey, Poland, Romania, Spain, the Netherlands and France. These different national contributions will be gradually brought together under a common NATO command and control system. Key elements of it have already been tested successfully, Rasmussen added.
The Chicago Summit will be “an opportunity to renew our commitment to the vital transatlantic bond between us and to redouble our efforts to share the burden of security more effectively,” according to him. He said important decisions will be taken at the summit “to keep NATO committed, capable and connected.”
The assessment of Alliance activities in the annual report 2011 focuses on NATO operations, emerging security challenges, modernization of NATO – its structures and capabilities – as well as NATO’s growing partnerships. These areas are examined against the backdrop of the financial crisis.
In 2011, NATO operations continued across three continents. In Afghanistan, greater stability and the beginning of transition characterized 2011. Although Afghanistan constitutes the Alliance’s most significant operational commitment to date, 2011 was marked by the Alliance’s Operation Unified Protector in Libya, which mobilized NATO forces for seven months to protect civilians from attack. Progress in Kosovo was marred by peaks of violence in the north, whereas counter-piracy efforts off the Horn of Africa and in the Gulf of Aden helped to reduce the pirate attack success rate in 2011. And NATO’s training mission in Iraq was terminated on December 31 after eight years of operation.
The report highlights the key measures taken by NATO to tackle cyber attacks, to respond to the growing number of countries acquiring ballistic missiles and to counter terrorism. These are among the emerging security challenges that directly threaten the security of NATO’s almost 900 million citizens.
Is Newt Gingrich — Republican presidential candidate and decider of who has the proper moral authority to lead America — in favor of open marriage, as was alleged in an interview by former Mrs. Newt No. 2?
Gingrich said that was a disgusting question, and the crowd cheered, giving voice to conservative desperation. The reporter asked the right question, but blinked and gulped anyway, clear signals that he didn’t want any more. This inflamed the bully in Newt, and he bore down on his victim as a frog to a fly, the tongue a deadly bludgeon on national television.
The stage is where Newt lives, whether on the floor of Congress or some cable news set or the stump, and theGOP debate in South Carolina last week was the perfect habitat for the man, a platform for rhetoric and performance and anger, a place where he could show us how quick and dangerous he can be.
It was Newt’s moment to show a desperate Republican conservative faithful that he could whomp a reporter, and by extension whomp the “liberal media,” and by extension whomp its man President Barack Obama, who’d been swept into office largely on the babbling insistence of Beltway journalists that the corrupt Chicago Democratic machine could produce a reformer.
So Newt whomped and the crowd cheered, and there were ovations and whooping cries of “Newt! Newt! Newt!” and he showed some teeth in what was supposed to be a smile.
That’s when I saw something oily moving around back there in his eyes and I began worrying that if this bullfrog becomes president, America may be doomed.
A few days before, he’d played a variation on the Angry Newt theme, when a voter asked whether he would bloody Obama’s nose in a debate and Newt paused, and filled himself up again, and said, “I don’t want to bloody his nose, I want to knock him out.”
Knock him out?
Who’s the tough guy?
That’s when I realized that his mission isn’t to lead the country as much as to satisfy his own rage. Newt doesn’t want to merely win, he wants to destroy and remake the world. So he’s not a conservative. He’s a revolutionary. And the sound of his own voice is both sun and moon to him.
The common wisdom is that Newt did well for himself by thumping on the reporter, and indeed it may help him politically in the short run. He certainly knows how to take advantage of vulnerability, and while his theatrical and pious outrage may have helped his prospects, the proper question is whether it helps America as much as it helps Newt.
Those who don’t know me will certainly condemn me as a liberal for saying this, but the crowd’s reaction, the “Newt! Newt! Newt!” and the fist pumping are clear indications of the desperation conservatives feel these days.
I understand. They see what’s coming, they fear the left-listing direction of government and the dreariness of an Eastern European-style socialist state, with the people bowing like frightened peasants when those with political power approach. Those of us in Illinois have lived in such a place for years now. It is a place where public office is handed down from parent to child as if it’s the natural order of things.
Being a conservative is about restraint, but Newt is not about restraint. Newt is about Newt and what Newt wants when he wants it. The man who professes loathing of big government is pleased when big government brings juicy benefits. He might brush off questions about that $1.8 million from lobbying or whatever he says he did with Freddie Mac, but he took the money.
Newt wants reporters to ask tough questions of Democrats. That’s fair. But he becomes almost violently angry if anyone dares ask him about what his appetites tell us about his own character, since Mrs. Newt No. 1 led to Mrs. Newt No. 2, who led to Mrs. Newt No. 3. Somewhere in between, he puffed himself up to hypocritically rip on the eternally despicable President Bill Clinton, declaring Clinton did not have the “moral authority” to lead.
“Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich. He — he handles it very, very well,” said candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum. “… Four years into his speakership, he was thrown out by the conservatives. … I served with him. I was there. I knew what the problems were going on in the House of Representatives when Newt Gingrich was leading this — leading there. It was an idea a minute, no discipline, no ability to be able to pull things together.”
But what Newt offers isn’t discipline and restraint.
Instead, he offers emotion. He offers anger. He offers Newt.
One. Human rights must be taken absolutely seriously. Every single person is entitled to dignity and human rights. No application needed. No exclusions at all. This is our highest priority.
Two. We must radically reinvent contemporary democracy. Current systems are deeply corrupt and not responsive to the needs of the people. Representatives chosen by money and influence govern by money and influence. This is unacceptable. Direct democracy by the people is now technologically possible and should be the rule. Communities must be protected whenever they advocate for self-determination, self-development and human rights. Dissent is essential to democracy; we pledge to help it flourish.
Three. Corporations are not people and are not entitled to human rights. Amend the US Constitution so it is clear corporations do not have constitutional or human rights. We the people must cut them down to size and so democracy can regulate their size, scope and actions.
Four. Leave the rest of the world alone. Cut the US military spending by 75 percent and bring all troops outside the US home now. Defense of the US is a human right. Global offense and global police force by the US military are not. Eliminate all nuclear and chemical and biological weapons. Stop allowing scare tactics to build up the national security forces at home. Stop the myth that the US is somehow special or exceptional and is entitled to act differently than all other nations. The US must re-join the global family of nations as a respectful partner. The USA is one of many nations in the world. We must start acting like it.
Five. Property rights, privilege, and money-making are not as important as human rights. When current property and privilege arrangements are not just they must yield to the demands of human rights. Money-making can only be allowed when human rights are respected. Exploitation is unacceptable. There are national and global poverty lines. We must establish national and global excess lines so that people and businesses with extra houses, cars, luxuries, and incomes share much more to help everyone else be able to exercise their basic human rights to shelter, food, education and healthcare. If that disrupts current property, privilege and money-making, so be it.
Six. Defend our earth. Stop pollution, stop pipelines, stop new interstates, and stop destroying the land, sea, and air by extracting resources from them. Rebuild what we have destroyed. If corporations will not stop voluntarily, people must stop them. The very existence of life is at stake.
Seven. Dramatically expand public spaces and reverse the privatisation of public services. Quality public education, health and safety for all must be provided by transparent accountable public systems. Starving the state is a recipe for destroying social and economic human rights for everyone but the rich.
Eight. Pull the criminal legal prison system up and out by its roots and start over. Cease the criminalisation of drugs, immigrants, poor people and people of colour. We are all entitled to be safe but the current system makes us less so and ruins millions of lives. Start over.
Nine. The US was created based on two original crimes that must be confessed and made right. Reparations are owed to Native Americans because their land was stolen and they were uprooted and slaughtered. Reparations are owed to African Americans because they were kidnapped, enslaved and abused. The US has profited widely from these injustices and must make amends.
Ten. Everyone who wants to work should have the right to work and earn a living wage. Any workers who want to organise and advocate for change in solidarity with others must be absolutely protected from recriminations from their employer and from their government.
Finally, if those in government and those in power do not help the people do what is right, people seeking change must together exercise our human rights and bring about these changes directly. Dr King and millions of others lived and worked for a radical revolution of values. We will as well. We respect the human rights and human dignity of others and work for a world where love and wisdom and solidarity and respect prevail. We expect those for whom the current unjust system works just fine will object and oppose and accuse people seeking dramatic change of being divisive and worse. That is to be expected because that is what happens to all groups which work for serious social change. Despite that, people will continue to go forward with determination and purpose to bring about a radical revolution of values in the USA.
From the Mossad men posing as CIA agents to recruit saboteurs to assassinating top Iranian nuclear scientists that could be blamed on the ‘Great Satan’, Israel has already taken this campaign against the Islamic republic to dangerous levels. Right now tensions between Iran and the West are so thick that even a minor skirmish or misunderstanding could spark a full blown conflagration. The assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, Deputy Director of Natanz nuclear plant, this month is the fourth such killing of top Iranian nuclear scientists over the past year and half.
This is not just an act of terror, as Tehran chose to describe it, but a declaration of war. It would have provoked a third world war if the US and the now deceased Soviet Union had attempted something similar against each other’s scientists. No other country for that matter would tolerate such attacks on its citizens and national interests.
Fortunately or unfortunately, a much sanctioned and politically and economically besieged Iran is perhaps in no position to respond to these flagrant provocations. Israel and the West may not have declared it formally but the war on Iran has already begun – on several fronts. Its economy, already vulnerable thanks to the decades of crippling curbs, has further been brutalised by the latest UN-US sanctions targeting its Central Bank and the crucial oil trade.
The European Union, one of Tehran’s biggest trading partners and oil importers, has followed suit by banning Iran’s oil exports and freezing its financial assets. Goes without saying these actions are going to really hurt Iran considering some 80 percent of its foreign revenue comes from oil exports. With its economy on the brink and sanctions turning the riyal into worthless paper, inflation has hit the roof biting ordinary people.
On the political and diplomatic front too, Iran finds itself at the receiving end as it helplessly awaits the approaching D-day. Just as a much sanctioned Iraq did in the run up to the 2003 Invasion. Not a single day passes without the Israeli, American and European politicians and security experts pitching for urgent ‘action’ against Iran. Meanwhile, Washington and Tel Aviv are playing out the good cop-bad cop routine. The Americans raise the spectre of a unilateral Israeli attack even as the Zionists raise the bang-Iran rhetoric to a feverish pitch keeping the whole world dancing on the razor’s edge.
What is most disturbing though is not the perfidy of Israel or the hypocrisy of its protectors but the deafening silence of the international community. The less said of the United Nations the better. It increasingly reminds me of what Matthew Arnold said about Shelley – “an ineffectual angel, beating in the void his luminous wings in vain.”
The world body created to protect peace and resolve conflicts hasn’t just failed in its raison d’être – its purpose of existence – it has become a willing tool in the hands of the world powers. The UN has increasingly been acting as handmaiden of the empire, with its institutions like the IAEA offering the fig leaf of legitimacy and at times even aiding in its quest for global hegemony. But then what’s new? It’s a familiar and much repeated history.
What is most disturbing though is the shameful capitulation of the rest of the world in the face of this continuing tyranny and obfuscation. Abdicating its collective responsibility, the world community stands and stares once again as the coalition of the ever willing cooks up yet another unjust war against another oil-rich Muslim nation.
The brazen, in-your-face hypocrisy of it all makes you sick. A regime that sits on a neat pile of nukes and has a long history of aggression and countries that all boast of mountains of the deadliest of weapons ever invented are all ganging up on a nation that has played by the book and claims to seek nuclear power for peaceful purposes. There has been nothing so far to suggest otherwise. After all, the IAEA has been digging for more than a decade.
More important, according to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, it’s not illegal for a member state to undertake nuclear enrichment, or even to maintain the so-called nuclear option, just as Japan, Brazil and Argentina have done all these years. You cross redline only when you take the enrichment to weapons grade level or divert it to a weapons programme. Which is yet to be established in Iran’s case. (Given this perpetual witch-hunt by the West and Israel and considering what happened to Iraq, would you be really surprised if the ayatollahs indeed began flirting with the nuke power?)
That said, Iran’s leaders aren’t exactly doing their people any service by forever obsessing over nuclear power at the expense of everything else. There is more to Iran, a civilisation with a 3000-year old history, than this endless brinkmanship.
The majority of Iran’s population today is young and was born after the 1979 Revolution. They have spent all their lives in isolation from the rest of the world thanks to decades of sanctions. They deserve better considering Iran is the second largest producer of oil after Saudi Arabia. The aspirations and hopes of young Iranians are little different from those of the young Arabs demanding their place in the sun.
Much of this is a result of years of vilification and vindictive policies by the West. But what is Iran itself doing to end its pariah status? How about building bridges with its Arab neighbours and addressing their apprehensions that are as much a result of Western propaganda as they are of its own rhetoric? Right now, Tehran needs all the friends and allies it could get.
Meanwhile the world community, including the Arab and Muslim states, must do everything to prevent this coming war. The Middle East cannot afford another Armageddon. The consequences of this misadventure in the volatile region could be unimaginably catastrophic for the Middle East and the world.
The writer is a commentator on Middle East and South Asian affairs.