Sunday, December 20, 2015

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Britain: Saudi Arabia’s silent partner in Yemen’s civil war

British missiles and jets made and sold to the Saudis are part of a war that the Government wants us to overlook.

If you were told that British fighter jets and British bombs were involved in a Middle Eastern war which has left thousands of civilians dead, you could be forgiven for assuming this referred to Iraq, or perhaps the more recent UK aerial campaign extended to Syria. 

What is less likely to spring to mind is another, forgotten conflict in the region – a war sponsored by the UK that is rarely talked about. For the past nine months, British-supplied planes and British-made missiles have been part of near-daily air raids in Yemen carried out by a nine-country, Saudi Arabian-led coalition. 
In this conveniently hidden campaign, thousands have died. Bombardments by the Saudi coalition accounted for 60 per cent of the 4,493 civilian casualties in the first seven months of this year. Saudi Arabia waded into what began as a domestic political power struggle between the country’s incumbent president, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and his predecessor of 33 years’ standing, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The marginalised, predominantly Shia Houthi militiamen, viewed as an Iranian proxy by the Sunni kingdom, joined forces with Saleh’s loyalists in the military to seize swathes of territory over the past 18 months, eventually forcing Hadi into self-imposed exile in Riyadh earlier this year.
A month after the aerial intervention began in March, the Saudis boasted that the coalition had dropped at least 1,000 bombs in up to 125 strikes a day. With Britain as the number one supplier of major weapons to the Saudi kingdom last year, and scores of British-made fighter jets currently being flown by the Saudi royal air force, along with British technical support, UK involvement is irrefutable. For anyone that has been on the ground in Yemen since the conflict began, it is obvious that civilians are bearing the brunt of the conflict.
Over five months spent in Yemen since the civil war began, I have witnessed numerous air strikes and visited the sites of scores more bombings across the country. The mounds of rubble I clambered over in recent months include the remnants of schools, hospitals, markets, food stores, civilian homes and public buses. 
Many of these were “double-tap” strikes, where first responders were attacked as they tried to rescue the victims of an initial bombing. The evidence I collected from witnesses and survivors clearly indicated that civilians are, at best, being indiscriminately killed and, in some cases, targeted. Despite a strong likelihood that British weapons are being used – Britain exported more than 1,000 bombs to Saudi in the first six months of 2015 – to target civilians and civilian infrastructure, the UK government refuses to recognise its complicity in clear breaches of international humanitarian law. 
While our government appears more than happy to sell our collective morality along with bombs and fighter jets to the Saudi kingdom, we should not be. We are playing a significant role. The Foreign Office insists that it has “assurances” from the Saudi-led coalition that its bombing campaign is adhering to international law. These are of little comfort to now orphaned four-year-old Rashid Othman. I saw his father’s ashen body wedged underneath the bus he was travelling in to find food after it was hit by at least two air strikes in the sands of Lahij province. At least 30 passengers died. There were no conceivable military targets in the vicinity. 
Similarly, the Saudis assured me – after I had spoken to half a dozen witnesses about the double-tap strike – that the coalition was not responsible for the death of at least 50 civilians killed at a goat market in July, even though no one else is carrying out air strikes in Yemen. Equally, they say they had nothing to do with the bombing in October of a Médecins sans Frontières hospital. 
Saudi promises are one thing. But, last week, a group of eminent lawyers determined that British arms sales to Saudi are unlawful and called for an immediate halt. The Government invites us to admire the £98m in overseas aid for Yemen in the current financial year. It is small change compared with the £1.7bn worth of UK export licences to Saudi in the first six months of 2015. 
David Cameron’s compulsion to keep supporting Saudi’s war can, in addition to the arms trade benefits, be put down to a previous warning given by the Saudi royals. After the aborted Serious Fraud Office probe into alleged corruption surrounding the British-Saudi Al-Yamamah arms deal in 2006, it emerged that the Saudis had threatened to stop passing on intelligence about potential terrorist threats if the investigation continued. Perhaps we should also ask what the Government’s exchange rate is for British lives saved to Yemeni civilians, thousands of whom are already dead. 
But this Saudi threat raises another contradiction. The main, and arguably only, beneficiaries of the current war are al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the country’s fledgling Islamic State offshoot, who have flourished as a result of the conflict. And, as long as it continues, it will only fuel their rise.
On top of all this, UN agencies have warned of mass famine, brought on by the blockade of Yemen’s sea and air ports imposed by the Saudi coalition, which is preventing vital food, fuel and medical supplies from entering the country. Aid agencies say Yemen’s humanitarian crisis is now the worst in the world, with more than 21 million people in need of some form of humanitarian aid. The combined threats of air strikes, a ground war and famine are likely to contribute to the already overwhelming European migrant crisis. 
More than 2.3 million Yemenis have been internally displaced by the war, many forcibly by the bombings, while more than 160,000 people have arrived in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Sudan to escape the conflict. The majority took the treacherous journey by boat across the Bab-el-Mandeb strait that separates Yemen from the Horn of Africa. 
The British government may choose to stay silent and ignore the evidence against it, even when raised by lawyers. We, too, may wish to claim ignorance, but Yemenis will not. As long as the UK keeps sponsoring Saudi’s war, civilians are going to continue to die from bombs, bullets and a blockade, doing so in the full knowledge that we are supporting their suffering. If we fail to ask the Government questions about British involvement, our inertia makes all of us complicit.

Is Turkey the next Pakistan?

Turkey is like Pakistan in one respect; what Pakistan was to the Taliban, Turkey is to Daesh and Al Nusra, Ahrar al Sham – all these various umbrella organisations which have got this very ultra-Wahhabi theology. Turkey is the safe area for these groups, just as Pakistan was a safe area for the Mujahideen groups in Afghanistan even after the Russians left.
But the difference between Turkey and Pakistan is this: in Turkey, the military has been secular, and it is unfortunately the political establishment that is contra-secular. In Pakistan, the political establishment was largely secular and the military, beginning with Zia Ul-Haq, converted it into a Wahhabi kind of orientation.
Now unfortunately, you have a very curious example of the European Union and the United States. They back the Wahhabi military in Pakistan against the civilian establishment. I remember when Asif Zardari was President of Pakistan, his party controlled the legislature, he wanted to downsize the power of the military. Hillary Clinton and the entire United States establishment came on the side of the military in weakening Zardari, weakening the PPP. And now it is coming on the side of the military again and it is weakening Nawaz Sharif vis-à-vis Raheel Sharif. So they are supporting the Wahhabi military against a more moderate political establishment.
In Turkey, it is the European Union that is responsible for the death of secularism, because the European Union connived with Erdogan in destroying the Turkish military’s independence and autonomy. The guarantor of secularism in Turkey, the guarantor of ensuring that Turkey would not go the Wahhabi way, was the Turkish military. And the European Union was an accomplice in destroying the Turkish military’s autonomy, as the European Union and the United States have been accomplices in destroying the primacy of the civilian establishment in Pakistan vis-à-vis the military.
So now what is happening- they are paying the price for it.
The attack on Saddam Hussain, it opened the door for Iran. Libya opened the door for Al Qaeda to enter into Europe.  I said from the start that this is what is going to happen. Syria- it is going to be much worse. Should, for example, the declared goal of these individuals about changing the Assad regime and removing it with the so-called patchwork work, then Damascus is going to become a complete area, an arena of mass murder. It’s going to become a hub, like Raqqa, of extremism1. And the problems are going to become much worse.
Some years ago, I gave up trying to understand the logic of the policy of the Atlantic Alliance. Because this policy is so fatal to its own interests. I don’t understand why they are still walking hand-in-hand with Wahhabism, why they are still participating in these sectarian conflicts? A country I am extremely respectful of is Israel. [But] They got involved in 1982 in supporting the Maronite groups against the Shi’a. And now the only country where Shi’a terror is active is Israel. Today NATO is supporting the Wahhabis. I’m not talking about the Sunnis, the Sunnis are different from Wahhabis. The Wahhabis are being supported by NATO against the Shi’as.
So what is likely if is this continue? Shi’a terror is going to spread across Europe and also the United States1. So you have Wahhabi terror and Shi’a terror. You’ll have a two-front war on this kind of theological terror. So why they are making this mistake, I do not know.
The root of the problem is the flawed policy of the Atlantic Alliance. And this flawed policy has to change. One, they have to pull back their proxies- whether it is Turkey, whether it is Saudi Arabia, whether it is Qatar.1 Two, they have to go into the roots of funding. For example, the weapons and money that ISIS has got, the weapons and money that Ahrar al-Sham has got, the weapons and money of Al Nusra- it’s easy to track them! Track the source- where did it come from? Send those people to jail! Frankly the key funders, in Saudi Arabia, in Turkey, in Qatar, of these organisations should be sent to Guantanamo Bay. Don’t shut down Guantanamo Bay, send the funders there, because these people are a thousand times more toxic than the actual so-called fighters. The ones who fund terror are the real ultra terrorists.
This region is going into a bottomless pit and the reason for that is the deeply flawed policy of the Atlantic Alliance.

ISIS Selling Yazidi Women and Children in Turkey


  • "Some of those women and girls have had to watch 7-, 8-, and 9-year-old children bleed to death before their eyes, after being raped by ISIS militia multiple times a day." — Mirza Ismail, chairman of the Yazidi Human Rights Organization-International.
  • "An office has been established by ISIS members in Antep [Turkey]; and at that office, women and children kidnapped by ISIS are sold for high amounts of money. Where are the ministers and law enforcement officers of this county who are talking about stability?" — Reyhan Yalcindag, prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer.
  • "Five thousand people have been taken as captives. Women and children are raped, and then sold. These must be considered crimes." — Leyla Ferman, Co-President of the Yazidi Federation of Europe.
  • "Turkey has signed several international treaties, but it is the number one country when it comes to professional non-compliance with human rights treaties." — Reyhan Yalcindag.
This month, the German television station, ARD (Consortium of Public Broadcasters in Germany), produced footage documenting the slave trade being conducted by the Islamic State (ISIS) through a liaison office in the province of Gaziantep (also known as Antep) in Turkey, near the border with Syria.
In August 2014, Islamic State jihadists attacked Sinjar, home to over 400,000 Yazidis. The United Nations confirmed that 5,000 men were executed, and as many as 7,000 women and girls made sex slaves.
While some have escaped or been ransomed back, thousands of Yazidis remain missing.

A news report from German broadcaster ARD shows photos of Yazidi slaves distributed by ISIS (left), as well as undercover footage of ISIS operatives in Turkey taking payment for buying the slaves (right).

Last month, after Kurdish forces recaptured the area from ISIS jihadists, mass graves, believed to contain the remains of Yazidi women, were discovered east of Sinjar.
The German TV channels NDR and SWR declared on their website:
"IS [Islamic State] offers women and underage children in a kind of virtual slave market with for-sale photos. ... The transfer of money, as the reporter discovered, takes place through a liaison office in Turkey. ...
"For weeks, NDR and SWR accompanied a Yazidi negotiator, who, on behalf of the families, negotiates with the IS for the release of the slaves and their children. ... the women are sold in a digital slave market to the highest bidder. 15,000 to 20,000 US dollars are a typical price. Similar sums for ransom are also required to free Yazidis. The money is then transferred via IS-liaison offices and middlemen to the terrorist group.
"NDR and SWR were present at the liberation of a woman and her three small children, aged between two and four years old, and followed the negotiations. How many Yazidi slaves are still 'owned' by IS is unclear. Experts estimate that there still could be hundreds."
The negotiator told NDR and SWR that in the course of a year, he transferred more than USD $2.5 million to ISIS from the families of 250 Yazidi women and children, in order to free them.
He also said that to advertise the slaves, ISIS assigns numbers to the female and child slaves, and posts their photographs on the WhatsApp Messenger smartphone app.[1]
In response to these reports, the Gaziantep Bar Association filed a criminal complaint against "Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and law-enforcement officers that have committed neglect of duty and misconduct by not taking required measures, and not carrying out preventive and required intelligence activities before the media covered the said incidents."
The bar association also demanded that the prosecutors start prosecuting and punishing perpetrators engaged in crimes of "human trafficking, prostitution, genocide, deprivation of liberty, crimes against humanity, and migrant smuggling," according to the Turkish penal code.
"The tragic reality," said lawyer Bektas Sarkli, the head of Gaziantep Bar Association, "is that Gaziantep is a crowded city; the suicide bombers easily cross [to Syria and Iraq]. Unfortunately, Gaziantep exports terrorism."
Sarkli added: "When you see the ammunition captured and especially take into account the money transferred here [it is clear that] ISIS easily shelters in this city. Gaziantep is the logistic site of ISIS."
Mahmut Togrul, an MP of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), in a motion to Efkan Ala, Turkey's Interior Minister, asked about the alleged office where ISIS members engage in slavery and the sex trade. His questions included: "How many liaison offices affiliated with ISIS terror organization are there in Gaziantep? If there are, do those liaison offices have any legal basis? Under what names do these offices operate? Are those offices affiliated with any institution?"
Interior Minister Ala has not yet provided any answers.
"According to the local press of Gaziantep, as well as the national press," Togrul said, "Gaziantep has been turned into a city with sleeper cell houses for the ISIS terror group; ISIS members abound and travel freely." [2]
The "Struggle Platform for Women Forcefully Seized," the Democratic Society Congress (DTK) and the Kurdish Congress of Free Women (KJA) in Diyarbakir also filed a criminal complaint, calling for the prosecutors to investigate allegations and bring the perpetrators to account.
Reyhan Yalcindag, a prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer, said, "An office has been established by ISIS members in Antep; and at that office, women and children kidnapped by ISIS are sold for high amounts of money. Where are the ministers and law enforcement officers of this county who are talking about stability?"
"Turkey," she said, "has signed several international treaties, but it is the number one country when it comes to professional non-compliance with human rights treaties."
The Co-President of the Yazidi Federation of Europe, Leyla Ferman, referred to the number of the genocides to which the Yazidis say they have been exposed throughout history. "The Yazidis have been given 73 death warrants," she said, "The people are massacred under the Islamic State. Thousands of Yazidi women are missing. Five thousand people have been taken as captives. Women and children are raped, and then sold. Today, due to the war, women have been scattered all around. These must be considered crimes."
This is not the first time the presence of ISIS in Antep appeared in the news.
In November 2015, after the terrorist attacks in Paris, a group waving black ISIS flags appeared, honking the horns of their cars and celebrating in the streets of Antep. The footagewas shared widely on social media. One user wrote, "This is Turkey supposedly struggling against ISIS. This is the ISIS convoy in Antep celebrating the Paris massacre."
The Yazidis, a historically persecuted community, are ethnically Kurdish, but not Muslim; their native religion of Yazidism is linked to ancient Mesopotamian religions. The Yazidis are indigenous to northern Mesopotamia and Anatolia; part of the Yazidi homeland is located in what is modern Turkey; other parts are in Syria and Iraq.
Yazidis have been exposed to campaigns of forced Islamization and assimilation, according to the Turkish sociologist Ismail Besikci, a prominent expert on Kurdistan:
"During the 1912-13 Pontic Greek deportations and the 1915 Armenian genocide, Yazidis were also driven out from their lands. Throughout the history of republican Turkey, all methods have been tried to Islamize the Yazidis. Before 1915, for instance, Suruc was an entirely Yazidi town. So was the town of Viransehir. Today, there is not a single Yazidi left in Suruc. Furthermore, the Islamized Yazidis can be seen exhibit insulting behavior towards those who remain Yazidis."
Because they are Kurds, the state has not recognized their Kurdishness; and because they are Yazidis, the state has not recognized their religion. The section of 'religion' in Yazidis' identity cards has been left empty; or the religion of some has been registered as 'x' or '-' .
"Research states that in 2007, there were only 377 Yazidis left in Turkey," an Assyrian MP of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Erol Dora, said.
"Yazidis, just like other minorities in Turkey, have also been exposed to discrimination and hate speech; that is why they have had to leave their lands. ... Their villages and lands have been seized; their agricultural areas have been appropriated, their holy sites have been attacked. All these racist attitudes continue today; the language, religion and culture of Yazidis face extinction."
Yazidis say they have been subjected to 72 attempts at extermination, or attempted genocide. Today, they are the victims of yet another attempted genocide in Iraq -- at the hands of ISIS jihadists.
"According to many escaped women and girls to whom I spoke in Northern Iraq, the abducted Yazidis, mostly women and children, number over 7,000," said Mirza Ismail, founder and chairman of the Yezidi Human Rights Organization-International, in his speech at the U.S. Congress.
"Some of those women and girls have had to watch 7-, 8-, and 9-year-old children bleed to death before their eyes, after being raped by ISIS militia multiple times a day.
"I met mothers, whose children were torn from them by ISIS. These same mothers came to plead for the return of their children, only to be informed, that they, the mothers, had been fed the flesh of their own children by ISIS. Children murdered, then fed to their own mothers.
"ISIS militias have burned many Yezidi girls alive for refusing to convert and marry ISIS men. Young Yezidi boys are being trained to be jihadists and suicide bombers. All of our temples in the ISIS controlled area are exploded and destroyed. Why? Because we are not Muslims, and because our path is the path of peace. For this, we are being burned alive: for living as men and women of peace."
The Yazidis, one of the most peaceful people on earth, are struggling to survive yet another Muslim genocide, before the eyes of the entire world.
While much of the world has been silent, a NATO member, Turkey has been openly complicit -- the enabler of jihadist terrorism. Reports and eyewitnesses testify that Turkey has contributed to the rise of the Islamic State by letting fighters and arms over the border. Some of the fighters go on to join the jihadist terrorist group.
The latest reports reveal that in Turkey, a country that fancies itself as a candidate for EU membership, Yazidi women and children are enslaved and forced into sexual slavery. Meanwhile, the Turkish government has not even bothered to make a single statement about these reports.
That is what happens when a regime is never held responsible.
Uzay Bulut, born and raised a Muslim, is a Turkish journalist based in Ankara.

[1] Using chat logs, documents, photographs and witness statements, the footage of ARD shows Abu Mital, a Yazidi man who works as an intermediary for ISIS, purchasing a Yazidi woman, her three children aged between two and four, and an 11-year-old boy from ISIS, and returning them to their family.
Mital contacted and bargained with ISIS members on the internet and set a price for the sale of the woman and the children. He then went to the southeastern province of Gaziantep in Turkey. During his visit to the office in Gaziantep, he was secretly filmed. The office had a number of money-counting machines. It employed only Syrians.
ISIS demanded $20,000 for the woman and $15,000 for the 11-year-old boy. The footage shows Mital handing the money to the Syrians in the office, who then counted the money using the money-counting machines.
After he paid the money, he went to a hotel in Syria, where he waited for another WhatsApp message. He was then told he would be contacted by someone for the delivery of the woman and her three children. When members of the Yazidi family were reunited with their relatives in Syria, they burst into tears. (Source: "German TV channel films ISIL slave trade in Turkey", December 03, 2015, Today's Zaman.)
[2] Other questions of Togrul's motion included:
"If the amount of money that ISIS earns from the slave trade of women and children is correct, who is the intermediary that transfers this money? Through what means does he transfer the money to ISIS?
"Is the governor informed about the slave selling office of ISIS in Gaziantep? If he is, has he made any statement or research on the issue?
"How many of the Yazidi women and girls ISIS has kidnapped from South (Iraqi) Kurdistan region have entered Turkey and Gaziantep?
"Do you have information about how many Yazidi women and other refugee women live in Gaziantep and where they shelter?
"How many ISIS cell houses have been raided so far? How many people have been detained from those cell houses? Have you accessed any finding as to whether the members of that terrorist organization have engaged in the slave trade of Yazidi women and children?
"How many cell houses affiliated with ISIS are there in Gaziantep? Do Turkish intelligence units have any data about this issue? If they do, why do they not intervene in the ISIS terrorist organization that commits slave trade? Does the fact that they do not intervene not mean they are complicit?
"ISIS terrorist organization uses Gaziantep as a base. What kind of a precaution is your ministry planning to take against that?"

Video - Molotov cocktails, clashes between protesters and police in #Turkey

Xenophobia, neo-Nazism upsurge shows EU failing on human rights: Russian human rights envoy

Ukraine, Syria Fall Victim to Same 'Democratization' Scenario - Kremlin

Press Secretary of the Russian President, Dmitry Peskov, spoke in an interview for the documentary "World Order" broadcasted on the Rossiya-1 TV channel saying that the scenarios of destabilization in Ukraine and Syria are similar in nature.

The press-secretary noted that such political ‘technologies’ were used to provoke the population to violently overthrow the regime.
“These red flags of such political technologies, they are visible everywhere in similar manner. And without a doubt, in many respects what we saw in Ukraine two years ago, of course, contained a lot of similar features to what we saw in the Middle East and North Africa,” Peskov said.
In addition, the press-secretary added, a certain system is imposed which is positioned as democracy.
“Maybe only now it can be assumed that the chain of ‘colored revolutions’ which in the beginning was to be confined to controlled chaos occurred in the same area, called the Great Middle East.”
He further noted that any country will fear for the controlled chaos not to turn into an absolute uncontrollable fusion process.
The press-secretary reminded that after the term ‘Great Middle East’ emerged, the region was dragged into a number of color revolutions and total chaos.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the West should not try to impose their understanding of democracy on other countries.

Read more:

Putin Shares His View on Russia's Role in Emerging World Order

The new documentary film “World Order” was aired on Rossiya 1 television channel Sunday. Vladimir Putin was among those interviewed for the documentary. For your convenience Sputnik compiled best bits and pieces of the interview with the Russian president.

Putin emphasized the importance of being careful when it comes to nuclear weapons, stating that although Russia has its nukes ready, it "never either swung or would never swing its nuclear club at others."
"I hope no person is insane enough on Planet Earth who would dare to use nuclear weapons," Putin said.
On the issue of foreign interference into internal affairs of countries, the Russian president said a national government's drawbacks shouldn't be a reason for an intervention.
"The most important thing is not to undermine legitimate governments, not to destroy their statehood even if it appears to be imperfect," the president said.
"I think that no one should ever impose any values, which he/she considers to be correct, on others. We [Russia] have our own values and our own ideas about justice," Putin explained.
Some countries out there have "lost a sense of reality" thinking that they could tell Russia how to conduct its politics. That isn't going to happen, according to Putin.

I guess that political nouveaux riches have lost a sense of reality… There are some countries and nations that will never accept a secondary role, a role of an occupied country or some kind of a vassal. It will end sooner or later. Soon enough, I guess," Putin said

Geopolitics is an important issue the world has always faced. Putin thinks if the geopolitical struggle cannot be avoided, then it should at least be civilized, with its principles uniformly understood and supervised.
"It is essential for future development to build relations of the so-called geopolitical struggle. The fight is inevitable and it is normal. It is only necessary to conduct it in compliance with the civilized rules," Putin said.
Obviously, Ukraine was also on Putin's mind.
"In relation to Ukraine and the post-Soviet countries in general, I am convinced that the position of our Western partners — Europe and the US — is not to do with the protection of Ukraine's interests, but with attempts to prevent the re-creation of the Soviet Union. And nobody wants to believe us that Russia doesn't aim to re-create the Soviet Union," the president said.

According to Putin, the West has now realized that it made a mistake by supporting an anti-government coup in Ukraine. However, now the West isn't willing to admit it.
"You cannot improve anything by organizing a coup. Has anything improved in the country? The power is in the hands of oligarchs," Putin said.
"Nobody wants to financially support Ukraine… At the same time, they [the West] want to shift the financial burden to Russia…  Let's share the risks, we said. We are ready to restructure Ukraine's debt to us… They do not want to share this risk."
Putin also touched upon his neighbors on the European continent, stating that "Europe's problem is that it doesn't have independent foreign policy. At all."
"The role of Germany, which can and should act at international stage, cannot be ignored in order to change the existing international climate to increase stability," Putin said.    

Read more:

ISIS uses Turkey for trafficking heroin to Europe – Russian anti-drugs chief

One of the biggest money-spinners for Islamic State terrorists is transporting illegal drugs from Afghanistan to Europe through Turkey and the Balkans, according to the head of Russia’s federal anti-drug agency FKSN.
ISIS fighters are controlling certain territory,” Viktor Ivanov was quoted as saying by TASS. “Now it is targeted by the Russian Air Force, but until recently the terrorists enjoyed great freedom there. Trafficking illegal drugs was one of the major sources of their income.”
Ivanov added that so far the heroin transported to the European Union via Turkey and the Balkans yields Islamic State (IS, previously ISIS/ISIL) about $150 billion for distribution to members of the criminal chain. “This money is getting into the criminal turnover and destabilizes the situation in the transit countries. Turkey is exactly such a country,” Ivanov told reporters.
In July, Russia’s top drug enforcer spoke at an international anti-trafficking conference in Gambia and said that the $500 billion annual income from illegal drug trade was the financial and organizational basis for new terrorist organizations, such as Boko Haram, Islamic State and others. “Illegal drugs are a kind of gold and foreign currency reserves for quasi-state groups,” he said.
In March, Ivanov said in a press interview that IS made up to $1 billion annually from Afghan heroin trafficked through its territory. He predicted another record-high poppy harvest in the terrorist-controlled lands, and urged countries to raise the issue of fighting the IS drugs trade at the highest international level, including at the UN, saying it represents a global security threat.

#DemDebate - Candidates Talk ISIS, Economy and Taxes

Video Report - U.S. - 'Inside Politics' Forecast

Video - Secretary Hillary Clinton's Opening Statement from the Third Democratic Debate

Video - Bill Clinton makes first 2016 campaign trail appearance

'Trump is best ISIS recruiter': Clinton, Sanders round on GOP 'Islamophobia' in 3rd Democrat debate

Hillary Clinton balanced her attacks on the Republicans with her disapproval of Democrat rivals in the latest debate. The senator called Republican frontrunner Donald Trump “ISIS’s best recruiter,” but also lashed out at Bernie Sanders for criticizing regime change in Syria.
Saturday’s Democrat party debate was marked by more unification against the Republican camp than before.
Millionaire mogul Donald Trump, perceived by the former Secretary of State as the biggest threat, received a beating from Clinton for aggravating an already tense climate of Islamophobia in the US and abroad.
“He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists," she proclaimed. The truth of the claim could not be verified and neither camp would comment, according to ABC News.
“I worry greatly that the rhetoric coming from the Republicans, particularly Donald Trump, is sending a message to Muslims here in the United States and literally around the world that there is a clash of civilizations… that there is some kind of Western plot or even war against Islam, which then I believe fans the flames of radicalization,"  she continued, most likely in reference to Trump’s suggestion to ban all Muslims from entering the United States – the latest of his remarks on the threat of terrorism.
When it came to gun control, Clinton stood firm on her core principle that guns will not make Americans safer – something the Democrats like to use against the Republicans. At the same time, however, she had no qualms with arming other countries - in particular sending weapons to the Syrian rebels to use against President Bashar Assad.
The former Secretary of State locked horns with Senator Bernie Sanders on the Middle Eastern strategy, particularly regarding removing Assad, the no-fly zone Clinton (again) proposed and the bigger picture of US involvement on foreign soil, which forms the core of their disagreements.
“Our differences are fairly deep on this issue; we disagreed on the war in Iraq,” Sanders said, alluding to Clinton’s support of almost every military involvement abroad in recent history. “Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be,” the NY Times quoted him as saying.
He added: “It is not Assad who is attacking the United States."

Clinton blasted Sanders for supporting the removal of Muammar Gadaffi in Libya, then continued down the familiar road of advocating sending more arms to so-called moderate Syrian rebels.
“I think it’s fair to say Assad has killed, by last count, about 250,000 Syrians,” Clinton went on, while saying that if the US had armed the rebels even earlier, the current power vacuum allowing ISIS to run rampant would not exist.
Similarly, unlike Sanders, Clinton believes Russia needs to be controlled in Syria. “I am advocating the no-fly zone both because I think it would help us on the ground to protect Syrians, I am advocating it also because I think it would give us some leverage with the Russians,” she said, while Sanders remained adamant about the need to work together with Moscow on fighting terrorism in Syria, instead of focusing on dismantling another government.
Martin O’Malley was the third candidate present at the debates, but his views tended to be largely overshadowed by Clinton and Sanders facing off. That was to be expected, since Sanders now has precious little time to gain on Clinton, who is enjoying a significant lead. Experts believe it is partly for this reason that Sanders began to focus more on having an anti-ISIS strategy – something he was previously criticized for avoiding.
A national poll released today shows Clinton is leading Sanders by 31 points, except in New Hampshire, where Sanders has a 10 point lead.


By Haseeb Ahmad
YOU are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in the State of Pakistan. Muhammad Ali Jinnah 11 August 1947
In the heart of every minority residing in Pakistan lives the tightly coiled nightmare of persecution. Every time a minority is attacked or their rights abused, the above often quoted and considered Charter of Pakistan stands mocking in the faces of the persecuted. The continued one sided response of the Government has focused a serious concern on the predicament of minorities in a country that is generally considered a homogenous Muslim nation.

The recent arson of the Ahmadiyya owned chipboard factory at Jehlum followed by the torching of Ahmadiyya place of worship, has once again proven the claims of the Government merely to be biased. One is completely taken to awe by the justice authorities provided in compensation to the loss of the owners of the factory and the members of Ahmadiyya Community…three of its members arrested instantly… Great job done!
Make no mistake; the government has only exercised a complete implementation of the recently Established National Action Plan which clearly declares that the ''elements spreading sectarian violence will be prosecuted.''
The continued persecution without prosecution for decades has fueled the violation of the rights of minorities particularly Ahmadies in Pakistan. The hate speech can often be observed in the form of pamphlets and wall chalking in several cities. Posters declaring the members of the community ''heretics'' can be seen on the mirrored walls of the shops. From target killings to mass violence and pogroms this community holds a long history of suffering.
Ahmadies were constitutionally declared non-Muslims in 1984. Since then they have been deprived even the right to live. They are not allowed to call themselves Muslims.
While they have to declare their beliefs as incorrect to obtain citizenship the others have to sign on the passport form to certify that Ahmadies are non-muslims and their founder as an imposter. Anyone can file a blasphemy case against Ahmadies claiming that their religious feelings are injured for any reason. They are not allowed to carry out their religious practices nor to preach their faith to anyone.
The verdicts of killing Ahmadies, looting and plundering their properties to attain entry into paradise are openly circulated by the Mullahs who blindfold the public with their luscious speeches exploiting religion as their tool.
One can imagine the response of the Muslims today, if they were deprived from worshipping and following their beliefs in the west as a reaction to the recent Paris attacks. But one is amazed at the peaceful reaction of Ahmadiyya Community, who at each and every barbaric and inhuman act committed to them, response peacefully.
''We only pray to Allah to guide these people and that He may protect us from their brutal activities'' said, Ahmad, one of the members of the community, whose family was displaced along with six others after an infuriated mob set ablaze to their houses in Arafat colony Gujranwala.
Five-year-old Hira Tabassum, eight months old Kainat Tabassum and their grandmother Bushra Begum were burnt alive in the incident. Before this Ahmadiyya mosques were attacked in Lahore, Punjab during Friday prayers leaving 94 killed and more than 120 injured.
The community is so much hated that even their dead have not been spared. Over hundred Ahmadi graves were desecrated in Lahore in 2012. Series of such horrific and tragic events continue to take lives and plunder the properties of Ahmadies residing in Pakistan. One can speculate the current Pakistan to be completely against the ideology of its Founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah who declared:
''Ahmadies are Muslims. If they say they are Muslims then, no one, not even the Sovereign Legislature, has the right to say otherwise''
(Muhammad Ali Jinnah 5 May 1944)By Haseeb Ahmad

Pakistan: ‘Blasphemy accusations increased after current law introduced’

A study on ‘Blasphemy in the Digital Age’ has revealed that blasphemy accusations increased by almost 200 times after Gen Ziaul Haq amended the blasphemy law.

Presented by the Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) on Friday, the study drew comparisons between the period before and after the current blasphemy law was introduced in 1987. Prior to this, there had been only seven blasphemy accusations between 1927 and 1986.

Speakers said that prior to the 1987 law, the Pakistan Penal Code did not contain a specific provision for blasphemy related to Islamic holy figures.

The number of blasphemy cases has jumped to 1,335 since the current law was introduced, with the death penalty or life imprisonment as punishment and no room for pardon.

PPC sections 295-C and 298-B proscribe acts deemed to be offences against religion. Offences include: misusing religious epithets, willfully defiling the Holy Quran, deliberately outraging religious sentiments and using derogatory remarks in reference to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The event, which was organised to announce the launch of DRF’s study, also included a discussion on how the misuse of the blasphemy law for personal gain has led people to fear expressing themselves on the internet.

The report aimed to examine Pakistan’s blasphemy law and assess its effects on freedom of speech in the digital space. It also aimed to highlight strategies for human rights activists to strengthen the cause of freedom of expression, reform the law and better protect those accused of blasphemy.

At a workshop following the launch of the report, participants looked to the state to repeal the blasphemy law.

“We should not just talk about how to prevent abuse of the controversial law, but talk about how to abolish the blasphemy law,” one participant said.

According to another, the steady rise in blasphemy accusations had made people increasingly intolerant, violent and indifferent. She said that the law was used not only against religious minorities, but also against people from other sects, socioeconomic backgrounds and even women.

“The mob takes it to have legal sanction because of the blasphemy law,” said Romana Bashir of the Peace and Development Organisation.

Along similar lines, National Party (NP) Senator Dr Ashok Kumar suggested that the root cause was hate material in school textbooks.

“Children should be taught humanity, the universal faith,” the senator said.

While some participants were of the view that repealing the law would have little effect, others argued that religion and the state should be separated in order to gradually instil tolerance within the populace.

Participants said that the blasphemy law affects Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and that the media was part of the problem in blasphemy cases.

The report’s author, Waqqas Mir, said that the solution was not simply to repeal the blasphemy law, but to bring a paradigm shift in society. Given the pressure on ruling governments, Mr Mir also discussed how laws against hate speech can be ineffective, and said that free speech and hate speech laws can also be problematic.

In support of freedom of expression, the study recommended that Pakistan remain cognisant and faithful to its international human rights obligations and the right to equal treatment before the law. It suggested that the government make blasphemy trials fair and reduce injustice. Procedural amendments should be introduced to the law to prevent abuse, if it is not repealed entirely.

Pakistan - The educated terrorist

The Safoora Goth massacre was a dark incident in our already tainted history of sectarian violence. On May 13, 2015, a bus carrying a majority of Ismaili Shias was ambushed and left some 46 Shias dead. Militant group Jundullah claimed responsibility for the atrocity and Saad Aziz, a graduate of Karachi’s prestigious IBA university, was arrested for being the mastermind. The arrest came as a surprise because Saad Aziz did not fit the profile of an illiterate brute, the kind of people usually associated with the likes of the Taliban. However, his arrest did open our minds to the fact that a lot of terror operations are led and crafted by educated professionals who seem to have everything going for them but choose to follow the path of radicalisation. One need not recall the tragic murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl whose beheading was ordered by Sheikh Omer, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, a graduate of the London School of Economics (LSE). Now, the alleged financier of the Safoora Goth massacre has been apprehended; he is the vice chancellor of a private university in Karachi. Yet another man who seems to be an upstanding, educated member of society but now, it seems, he has a very dark side.

The educated terrorist is no longer an enigma in today’s world. Radicalisation has become an ideology, a specific worldview that gives those who practice it a reason to rebel against a world they believe is unequal and unjust. However, the rebellions of today are not like the revolutions of yesteryear when people fought for justice and social equity; they are dangerous rebellions fuelled by extremism and Islamic political jihad. This is a sign of the times we live in. People who are aware, who see what is happening in the world around them have taken up arms — in many instances in the most savage way possible — to oppose a world order bent on warfare and forced invasions. The absence of revolution has created a vacuum that has been filled with a hateful ideology that murders and mains according to warped religious views. This fanatical worldview has traversed the plains of the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, always with Palestine in the background. It is the educated who see the bigger picture and they are rebelling in the worst of ways.

The Pakistani authorities are going after the higher educational institutions to fight the threat on campus and that is necessary, but they must not lose sight of the fact that the madrassas (seminaries) are the original militant factories and must be plowed through first. By Chaudhry Nisar’s own estimation, there are at least 300 identified madrassas with links to terror outfits. They must be dealt with. There is a real danger that the authorities could go overboard with their combing of higher education institutions and bring to book many people who are not part of terror plots but are swept away in an overzealous current of arrests. A few such incidents have already occurred. The seminaries need that kind of focus first.

Pakistan - On bonded labour and fighting terror


One of the most damning indictments of contemporary Pakistan is the observation that despite the existence of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act of 1992, millions of workers across the country continue to be tied to their employers through debt bondage, performing extremely difficult and arduous labour in order to service loans that they can never hope to repay. These workers, many of whom are women and children, are made to perform arduous and difficult labour in extremely dangerous circumstances, and are offered none of the rights and security that are guaranteed to them by the constitution. That such horrific abuse takes place on a routine basis, blighting the lives of millions of people across the country, should be cause for outrage and unequivocal condemnation. Instead, bodies like the Brick Kiln Owners Association continue to defend the indefensible, openly flouting the law in the name of economic progress, while making use of their connections to the state machinery and political elite to both protect and pursue their interests.

It is important to remember that even if the scourge of extremism and militancy were to be eradicated from Pakistan, this would still be a country characterized by the persistence of an economic and political framework that visits a tremendous amount of systemic violence upon the poor and dispossessed who constitute the majority of the population. Take, for example, two petitions that have been lodged by the Bonded Labour Liberation Front (BLLF) in the Lahore High Court pertaining to the fate of almost three dozen men, women, and children who have been imprisoned in the brick kilns owned by their ‘employers’ in Kasur. The term employer here is used in its loosest possible sense, as the alleged perpetrators of this crime are little more than modern-day slave owners, continuing to subject their workers to indentured servitude while deriving considerable economic benefit from the wanton and unrestrained exploitation of their labour. As the BLLF has pointed out in its petitions, the people who have been unlawfully imprisoned in Kasur sought little more than to escape their lives of debt bondage, and are now being subjected to a systematic campaign of intimidation, torture, and coercion, with there being a very real threat to their physical safety. These people may not be victims of the type of violence that we have become inured to amidst constant terror attacks, but they are victims nonetheless whose right to justice is no less important than anyone else’s.

It is an unfortunate paradox that the very events that often draw our attention to great tragedies also serve to impede a more detailed and nuanced analysis of the structural factors underpinning them. For example, the indefensible and unconscionable killing of children by religious zealots during the APS massacre last year prompted a flurry of activity ranging from the introduction of military courts to the pursuit of Operation Zarb-i-Azb with greater enthusiasm and vigour. It also led to the production of the much-vaunted National Action Plan, replete with rhetoric about concerted efforts to combat extremism and terrorism on multiple fronts. As has been pointed out in this space and elsewhere, however, much of what has been done in the name of eliminating religious extremism remains both superficial and opaque. Thus, while thousands of alleged militants have been killed in FATA, important questions remain about civilian casualties and displacement, not to mention the transparency of the process through which people are being targeted for military strikes and detention. The blind embrace of legislation like the Protection of Pakistan Act, and enthusiasm for the reintroduction of the death penalty, masks demonstrably problematic abuses of due process that merit urgent investigation. Even as the state trumpets its successes in fighting militancy this past year, there is little evidence to suggest that meaningful action has been taken to address the sources of militant funding, both domestic and foreign, and the leaders and activists of ‘banned’, avowedly extremist and sectarian organizations continue to operate with impunity.

Perhaps most importantly of all, there seems to be little desire to address the root causes of terror. More often than not, it is just assumed that radicalization occurs in a vacuum. The role the state might have played in this process in Pakistan, through previous and current patronage for extremists groups as well as the pursuit of nebulous strategic objectives through militant proxies, has been conveniently brushed aside as part of the broader process through which any actions it takes in the name of fighting terror have been rendered immune to critical scrutiny. Similarly, these is little if any discussion of how socioeconomic deprivation and political marginalization play a key role in creating an environment that produces recruits susceptible to the ideological blandishments of the groups that comprise the TTP.

This last point is crucial, and is one that is amply demonstrated by the case of the bonded labourers described above. As another year comes to an end, and the public discourse is flooded with self-congratulatory messages about the progress Pakistan has made, whether it is in fighting terror or courting Chinese investment, it is important to continue asking critical questions about the type of state Pakistan is. Terrorism is a menace that must be fought in Pakistan, and it would be a mistake to understate the challenge the country faces in this regard. But, it would be extremely shortsighted and ultimately self-defeating to assume that this is the only issue Pakistan faces, or that blunt instruments like military action can be sufficient to address this and other problems. Until Pakistan becomes a fairer and more tolerant place, which prioritizes the welfare of its citizens and the provision of social and economic justice to the must vulnerable sections of society, it will continue to be plagued by exploitation, oppression, and instability. Organizations like the BLLF remind us of this, and the need to fight terrorism should not mean that we completely and totally ignore how there are other forms of violence and injustice that must also be addressed.