Tag Archives: economic sanctions

Israel’s New Blacklist of BDS-Supporting Groups Sparks Outrage

“Israel is isolating itself even further as an apartheid state,” says CODEPINK

By CommonDreams. Published 1-7-2018

“JVP members are now joining Palestinians as well as Muslims from around the world, people of color, and other activists who are often barred from entry,” said Jewish Voice for Peace executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson. (Photo: Alisdare Hickson/flickr/cc)

Advocacy groups vowed to continue their fight for peace and justice on Sunday after the Israeli government announced they are banned from the country for their support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement known as BDS.

“By banning the leaders of peace organizations like CODEPINK, Israel is isolating itself even further as an apartheid state,” said Ariel Gold, national director of CODEPINK. “Their BDS blacklist is contrary to democratic principles and Jewish values. As an American Jew, I am proud of my work to challenge Israel’s policies of repression. I will not give up the fight.” Continue reading

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Russia, China, and Iran Join Forces to Bring Down the US Dollar

By Darius Shahtahmasebi. Published 11-6-2017 by The Anti-Media

Photo: Public domain

It is becoming increasingly more common for the corporate media to pay attention to the dollar’s dying status as the world reserve currency. The media can no longer realistically ignore developments that ultimately chip away at the dollar piece by piece considering Russia, China, and Iran have become brazen about their intentions to erode the dominant currency in the not-too-distant future.

While Anti-Media has documented the decline of the dollar throughout the course of the year as a result of a number of significant geopolitical decisions, there is still one major elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. Once it is, it should shed some light on just how detrimental these recent developments are to America’s status as the global authority. Continue reading

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Will anyone protect the Rohingya?

 

Photo: Foreign and Commonwealth Office via Wikimedia Commons

Vincent A. Auger, Western Illinois University

Since August, the Rohingya, an ethnic minority in Myanmar, has faced what a United Nations official called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Recent reports describe a campaign by Myanmar security forces to drive the Rohingya from the country permanently. Hundreds of thousands have fled to camps in neighboring Bangladesh, creating a new refugee crisis.

This is exactly the type of atrocity that the United Nations vowed to combat in 2005, when it asserted a “responsibility to protect” civilian populations from genocidal violence. Yet, little has been done.

Why has “the responsibility to protect” failed, and can the Rohingya be helped?

Responsibility to protect

The “responsibility to protect” doctrine resulted from the humanitarian catastrophes of the 1990s: Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and especially Rwanda. The world struggled to balance respect for state sovereignty with the imperative to prevent the slaughter of civilians. In 2001, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty issued a report redefining the problem. It stated that states had primary responsibility to protect their populations. But, if they could not or would not, then that duty could be exercised by the international community.

This concept was affirmed by the United Nations at the 2005 World Summit. However, my research on the origins and implementation of the responsibility to protect has demonstrated that this consensus was superficial. Many states, including the United States and China, gave lip service to a “responsibility to protect,” but were unwilling or unable to implement it. The conditions under which the responsibility to protect could be invoked remain deliberately ambiguous.

Words in action: Libya and Cote d’Ivoire

Despite this tepid support, in 2011, the United Nations authorized two operations in countries where civilians were at risk.

In Cote d’Ivoire, United Nations peacekeeping forces intervened to remove the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, who had lost an election and was using the country’s security force to attack civilians in an attempt to remain in power. U.N. forces helped oversee a political transition and maintain security. This intervention was widely seen at the U.N. as a success.

The other intervention was in Libya, after the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi threatened to slaughter those who opposed his regime. The intervention – led by Britain, France and the United States – successfully prevented Gaddafi’s slaughter of civilians. But it also led to the collapse of his regime, his murder by rebel forces and continuing conflict in post-Gaddafi Libya.

Failure to protect

Despite humanitarian crises in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, the responsibility to protect has not been used by the U.N. since 2011 to justify intervention. The Libya case helps to explain this: Once the intervening forces helped overthrow Gaddafi, Russia and China declared that the “responsibility to protect” was merely a pretext for the West to conduct regime change. Those countries have repeatedly vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria.

Implementing the “responsibility to protect” faces other challenges as well. One is that an intervention to protect civilians may encounter armed resistance from those who are committing the atrocities, as would likely be the case in Syria. A larger, more capable international military force would be necessary to defeat them. Many states will be deterred by the greater costs and risks of such an intervention.

Another challenge is that states and international organizations have multiple goals and priorities. They may not wish to jeopardize relations with the offending regime, or risk other national interests, in order to stop violence. They may even help the regime that is committing the atrocities, as the Russian government has done in Syria, to advance those interests.

Finally, a successful intervention may lead to a costly commitment to provide long-term security and relief – a “responsibility to rebuild,” so to speak. For most states, these potential costs of intervention far outweigh their willingness to act to save lives.

What can we do for the Rohingya?

All these challenges to implementing the responsibility to protect are evident in the Rohingya case. Myanmar authorities have resisted any international role in the crisis, raising the cost of potential intervention. In any case, other states have little interest in taking action. China is shielding Myanmar from pressure in the U.N. Security Council and is trying to pull Myanmar into its sphere of influence. President Trump has not made Myanmar a priority for American foreign policy. Russia, India and other states prefer to work with the regime to further their own interests in the region.

What can be done, then?

Economic and political sanctions against the Myanmar military are a possibility. But without Chinese participation, they would have limited effectiveness. Sanctions might also lead the Myanmar military to reverse recent democratic reforms in the country.

An alternative would be for the United States and other countries to sharply increase aid to Bangladesh, which is hosting the fleeing Rohingya civilians. They might also consider accepting some Rohingya as refugees. However, this could be problematic given the current debate on refugees in the United States and many other countries.

The ConversationIn the longer term, diplomatic and financial pressure, as well as the possibility of indictment for crimes against humanity, may convince Myanmar’s military leaders to cease the ethnic cleansing and allow some Rohingya to return. Unfortunately, no international cavalry is likely to ride to the Rohingya’s rescue.

Vincent A. Auger, Professor of Political Science, Western Illinois University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Warnings of ‘Nuclear Nightmare’ as Trump Escalates Tensions With World Powers

“We need to step up sustained diplomacy. Firing off a bunch of missiles does nothing to address the crisis. We need negotiation, not posturing.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-31-2017

“In response to North Korea’s second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test late last week, the U.S. on Sunday carried out what the Washington Post called a “show of force” by flying two B-1 bombers over the Korean Peninsula.” Photo: YouTube

As President Donald Trump foments tensions with world powers by behaving recklessly and pursuing aggressive action over diplomacy, developments in several major nations over the weekend sparked urgent concerns among peace groups, activists, and analysts that the world’s largest militaries are inching dangerously close to war.

In response to North Korea’s second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test late last week, the U.S. on Sunday carried out what the Washington Post called a “show of force” by flying two B-1 bombers over the Korean Peninsula. The Post noted that the move is “a sign that tensions are spiraling upward rapidly.”  Continue reading

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After Exxon Fined for Sanctions Violations, Calls for Rex Tillerson to Resign

When secretary of state was CEO of ExxonMobil, says Treasury, the oil giant showed a “reckless disregard” for sanctions

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-20-2017

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was CEO of oil giant ExxonMobil when the company violated U.S. sanctions against Russian officials in 2014. (Photo: Greenpeace/PolluterWatch)

“It’s time Rex Tillerson step down or be removed,” said Gigi Kellett of Corporate Accountability International, following an announcement on Thursday that ExxonMobil will pay $2 million for violating U.S. sanctions against Russian officials while the now-secretary of state was the company’s CEO.

“ExxonMobil demonstrated reckless disregard for U.S. sanction requirements,” according to enforcement filing released by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which issued the penalty. Though the fine is reportedly the maximum penalty allowed, it’s pittance to one of the world’s most profitable and powerful corporations, which last year reported a profit of $7.8 billion. Continue reading

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‘Payout Time’: Exxon Seeks Waiver From U.S. Sanctions to Drill in Russia

“Exxon applied for waiver from sanctions on Russia. Among departments who must approve: State Department, run by company’s ex-CEO”

By Nika Knight, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-19-2017

Photo: Fox News screenshot/Twitter

Exxon is applying for a waiver from the U.S. Treasury Department to bypass U.S. sanctions against Russia and resume offshore drilling in the Black Sea with the Russian oil company Rosneft, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Among those charged with deciding to grant the permit is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon who previously oversaw the company’s Russia operations. Continue reading

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Ukraine’s eastern front: a Trump card in a bigger game?

Everybody wants better relations between Russia and the west. But leaders in Moscow and DC could throw Ukraine under the bus to get them.

By Ian Bateson. Published 1-31-2017 by openDemocracy

Photo: @datensuche/Twitter

Last week, as I traveled around Ukraine’s eastern front, I found myself talking to soldiers stationed there. The new US president was a regular topic of conversation. “What’s with your new president? He seems unstable,” said one Ukrainian soldier before opening a gate to a hill-top military base. Another, examining our American passports at a checkpoint, asked us what we thought of him, and then threw in his own opinion that Trump is a “rare piece of shit”.

Others have responded more diplomatically. “If Trump is for democratic values and if his work is aimed at helping the development of democratic countries, then he will support Ukraine,” said Viacheslav Filin, commander of Ukraine’s 46th battalion, known as the Donbas Battalion. But for all of Trump’s talk about putting “the people” in charge, he isn’t very interested in promoting democracy at home or abroad as he dams the flow of information and enacts policy by executive orderContinue reading

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Cultivating Seeds of Peace, Global Day of Action to Support Iran Deal

Organized by Iranian expats, pro-peace rallies taking place in 100 cities across the world

Written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-15-15.

#SupportIranDeal demonstrators in Strausborg, France. (Photo: @supportIrandeal)

#SupportIranDeal demonstrators in Strausborg, France. (Photo: @supportIrandeal)

Rallies took place in cities across the globe on Saturday in support of the historic nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers.

Organized by volunteer Iranian expats and unaffiliated with any political groups or campaigns, the #SupportIranDeal mobilization spanned continents as participants called for peace and denounced well-funded efforts to derail the deal.

Image via Twitter

Image via Twitter

“Our aim is to make a video using the photos of our events around the world, and show our support for the agreement with Iran to the rest of the world because this deal is ours, that will empower us, and strengthen our elected officials to help the gradual reform we want for our country,” organizers declared.

gad 1

“These days there are proponents of war in the U.S. spending millions of dollars to kill this agreement,” their statement continued. “This deal is still fragile, this seed of reconciliation has to be protected until the day it spreads seeds of peace all over the region. It is pending a final approval by the U.S. congress in September. Many senators and representatives’  vote is going to depend on the overall opinion of the general public toward the deal.”

“The alternative to this deal,” the organizers warned, “is another billion-dollar war in the Middle East.”gad 2

Meanwhile, The Hill reports that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), one of the few potential GOP supporters of the international accord over Iran’s nuclear program, announced Saturday he would oppose the deal, dealing a blow to the White House.

IranNewsNow is providing live updates of the worldwide peace actions, while participants are tweeting under the hashtag #SupportIranDeal.

Image via Twitter

Image via Twitter

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Your Move, US Congress: EU and UN Back Iran Nuclear Accord

International bodies back diplomatic agreement, agree to lift punishing economic sanctions

Written by Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-20-15.

United Nations Security Council. Photo via Twitter

United Nations Security Council. Photo via Twitter

Sending a strong signal to the U.S. Congress to follow suit, both the European Union and United Nations Security Council on Monday endorsed the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers.

As part of the accord, both bodies agreed to end crippling economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for new limits to its domestic nuclear program.

Representatives from each of the 15 countries within the Security Council unanimously voted to back the landmark deal reached last week between Iran and the so-called P5+1 Nations, which include the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the European Union.

Following the Security Council vote, U.S. President Barack Obama said he hoped the move would “send a clear message that the overwhelming number of countries” recognize that diplomacy is “by far our strongest approach to ensuring that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon.”

According to the text, in exchange for Iran’s compliance, seven UN resolutions passed since 2006 to sanction Iran will be gradually terminated. However, BBC reports, “The resolution also allows for the continuation of the UN arms embargo on Iran for up to five years and the ban on sales of ballistic missile technology for up to eight.”

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is charged with the “verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear commitments.”

Meeting in Brussels, EU Foreign Ministers also formally committed to lift economic sanctions against Iran. The lawmakers, though, also elected to maintain the EU’s ban on the supply of ballistic missile technology and sanctions related to human rights, in accordance with the agreement.

The votes mark another step forward within a major worldwide agreement, reached after years of arduous negotiations.

The onus now falls on the U.S. Congress to also approve the accord, which was formally given to both Houses on Sunday, beginning a 60-day deliberation period. Conservative U.S. lawmakers and other warhawks, echoing the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have tried to thwart the international agreement.

“There is broad international consensus around this issue,” Obama continued in his address. Then speaking beyond the agreement’s critics, he added: “My working assumption is that Congress will pay attention to that broad basic consensus.”

More than 150,000 people have so far signed a petition calling on Congress to back the deal and take us off “the path to confrontation and war with Iran.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

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Oil’s Not Well In Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Photo by Cancillería del Ecuador [CC BY-SA 1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Photo by Cancillería del Ecuador [CC BY-SA 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

To consumers, the decline in oil prices over the last nine months has been a welcome turn of events. From the gas pump to our home utilities bills, we’ve welcomed the lower prices, and thus the extra money we have. We hear various talking heads espousing about how lower oil prices will stimulate growth and lead to a more vibrant economy.

That is, unless you live in a country that derives 95% of its economy from oil. We’ve talked about Venezuela on several occasions, and in one of our more recent articles, we discussed the collapse of the Venezuelan economy and the causes of the collapse. The effects of the drop in oil prices on an economy that was already struggling has been catastrophic.

During the years that Hugo Chávez was in power, he instituted large, sweeping social programs aimed at elevating the economic status of the poorest Venezuelans. What paid (and still pays) for these programs? Oil, or to be more specific, petrodollars from China in exchange for oil. When the bottom fell out of the oil market, the Chinese naturally started paying less for the oil. So, as the international price of oil fell, so did the living conditions of the people of Venezuela. Continue reading

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