NORTH KOREA CLAIMS US’ FATE IS IN ITS HANDS, TRUMP ON DEATHBED STRUGGLE

The article originally appeared on India Today on 15 December.

An increasingly belligerent North Korean propaganda has gone a step ahead.

The country’s state-run newspaper Minju Choson – published by the North Korean cabinet – has written in a commentary that fearful of the North Korean might, the fate of America is in hands of its supreme leader Kim Jong-un.

Blaming the US President Donald Trump’s ignorance about North Korea, the commentary says the US tactics of nuclear blackmail and threat will no longer work “whether the US likes or not and wants or not”, adding that “the status of the standoff between the DPRK and US has come under the control of the faith and will of the North Korea which is holding the initiative.”

Claiming that North Korea has always emerged victorious, Minju Choson further writes that Trump is still in deep sleep not realizing the imminent danger he has put America in.

“The Trump group is attempting to seek a way out by pursuing a policy of military confrontation. This is nothing but a deathbed struggle by those alarmed by the might of North Korea.”

Warning the US to become prudent and think twice, the newspaper says the recent annual defence conference of the country under the guidance of their supreme leader Kim Jong-un has filled the North Korean people and its Army with iron faith and if the Americans try to annoy this valorous spirit, they will be forced to go for military confrontation which will ultimately result in victory and glory for North Korea and humiliating defeat for Trump and the US.

Though North Korean propaganda may say the US is blackmailing it, but the recent advances made by the country in acquiring lethal weapons and strategic capabilities, the nuclear capable inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can reach to the parts of America, a series of successful missile launches in recent months and a claimed detonation of hydrogen bomb, has emboldened its war rhetoric to unprecedented levels.

And unlike in past, the world has taken these military claims seriously, increasing manifold the threat perception about the isolated nation.

The most recent development has only added to it.

According to American and Asian intelligence officials, North Korea may have acquired capacity to produce biological weapons on military scale and in fact, the world has no way to find if the rogue nation has already begun it, as such facilities are concealed in its civilian factories.

Some experts also say the North may have been even trying to create super-germs in its labs using advanced genetic engineering.

That is why the world is giving dialogue a chance with no one in favour of direct military confrontation in spite of tough warnings and harsh war rhetoric from Trump and his administration.

World leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the United Nations have preferred diplomacy, dialogues and sanctions over a possibility of war or military confrontation to deal with North Korea, a stand that has forced even Trump and his team to take a soft approach hinting at dialogue.

The call for dialogue and diplomatic efforts was best summed up by United Nations chief Antonio Guterres yesterday when he warned that “the worst possible thing that could happen would be for us all to sleepwalk into a war that might have very dramatic circumstances.”

©SantoshChaubey

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TONS OF BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS NEXT LEVEL OF NORTH KOREAN THREAT?

The article originally appeared on India Today on 12 December.

“Microbes by ton”, that is how a Washington Post story describes the bioweapons threat from North Korea, the rogue regime that has recently acquired Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) and has declared itself a nuclear power after claimed detonation of a hydrogen bomb.

But if the assessments of US and Asian intelligence officials are true, as the Washington Post and other stories on the subject in the global media quote, then a whole new chapter in North Korean threat to the world is about to begin, in extension of its regular warnings of launching nuclear attacks.

“North Korea is moving steadily to acquire the essential machinery that could potentially be used for an advanced bioweapons program, from factories that can produce microbes by the ton, to laboratories specializing in genetic modification,” the Post story writes.

There have long been speculation about North Korea developing weapons of biological warfare, after the country established in 1980s a biological weapons programme under Kim Il-Sung, current dictator Kim Jong-un’s father, but it never went beyond pathogens like smallpox and anthrax and even now there is no hard evidence to prove it.

But the way North Korea is moving these days, sending its scientists abroad to study advanced microbiology and acquiring machinery that can be used to produce biological weapons at large scale, analysts says “North Korea could quickly surge into industrial-scale production of biological pathogens if it chooses to do so.”

And the most horrible part of it, the intelligence agencies spying on North Korea may not find if North Korea actually has started producing biological weapons at military scale as they suspect North Korea is using civilian factories to conceal its programme. “If it started tomorrow we might not know it, unless we’re lucky enough to have an informant who happens to be in just the right place,” the Post story writes quoting an official.

Experts say genetic engineering to produce even more virulent strains of microbes or germs is another scientific breakthrough that North Korea might have been trying. According to a study, North Korea’s Biological Weapons Program, released in October by Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, North Korean and Chinese scientists jointly published a research paper in 2016 on producing new species of bacteria through genetic engineering.

Though the research paper writes that it is “it is highly unlikely that the typing of these genomes will provide know-how for biological weapons development effort,” the Post story says it is evidence of North Korea’s ambition to acquire cutting edge genetic and microbiological sciences. The ambition raises a valid doubt that it may be used to create even more potent germs, especially when North Korea’s proven ability and credentials to carry out such advanced scientific research have been limited so far. Attempts to produce such super-germs is not new and met with mixed success during the cold war era.

An analysis by Amplyfi, an artificial intelligence company, on North Korean efforts to acquire advanced genetic and biotech capabilities, in fact, has shown that search on topics like “gene expression” and “nucleic acid sequence” from North Korea has gone up voluminously in the last two years.

The Post report writes quoting Amplyfi co-founder Chris Ganje “There are worrying indicators of unintended support and it is obvious that the international community and larger institutions need to be cautious in providing seemingly benign academic scientific education and training to North Korea,” as to circumvent international monitoring, North Korea is trying to gain technological insights from academic institutions, NGOs and private organizations.

South Korea has warned in past that it may launch biological attack thorough its special operations forces (SOF), a Rand Corporation paper, The Challenge of North Korean Biological Weapons, says.

The paper that details submission before the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities of the United States House of Representatives in October 2013 writes, “Indeed, North Korea special forces are a likely means for delivering North Korean biological weapons. North Korea has some 200,000 special forces, a small fraction of which could deliver devastating biological attacks against South Korea, Japan, and even the United States.”

©SantoshChaubey

SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY MAY WANT INDIA TO MOVE ITS EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM BUT MAHATMA GANDHI WAS EVEN AGAINST FORCED SETTLEMENT OF ISRAELIS IN PALESTINE

Subramamian Swamy may demand India to follow the United States and move its embassy to Jerusalem but it is against India’s principled stand of solidarity with the Palestinian cause that was against the forced settlement of Israelis in the Palestinian territory. Like the whole issue of Israeli settlement in Palestine, the issue of sovereign claims over Jerusalem, too, has been a contentious issue as the city is the ancient seat of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

The origin behind this principled stand can be traced back to Mahatma Gandhi, our Father of the Nation, who believed that Israelis could settle in Palestine only with the permission from Arabs and it was wrong for them to enter with the might of the British gun.

Writing in Harijan on November 26, 1938, Mahatma Gandhi says that his sympathies are with the Jews some of whom have been his friends since his days in South Africa. Thus, he knows about the age-long persecution of the Jews. He refers to the Jews as the untouchables of Christianity, like the untouchables of Hinduism and that religion is used in their persecution, as was happening then with the Jews in Germany.

But, he draws a line here saying his sympathy for the Jews cannot blind him to the requirements of justice.

He says in his write-up, The Jews, in Harijan, “The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me.” He says that “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French and it is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs.”

Mahatma Gandhi says the settlement of the Jews in the Palestinian territory is akin to a religious act that rules out use of force, “The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs.”

In this article written in 1938, before the organized massacre of the Jews in the German concentration camps began, Mahatma Gandhi argues that the Jewish people are the citizens of the world and they should be treated as such, a Jew born in France as French, a Jew born in Germany as German. He advises the German Jews to use the civil movement through non-violence to take on the German persecution.

Though, we can see a change in approach in the later writings of Mahatma Gandhi on German persecution of the Jews after the German concentration camps massacred millions of Jews, his stand on Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land remains the same.

In another Harijan article titled “Jews and Palestine”, written on July 21, 1946, after the Second World War and the German massacre of the Jews were over, he says, “I do believe that the Jews have been cruelly wronged by the world. “Ghetto” is, so far as I am aware, the name given to Jewish locations in many parts of Europe. But for their heartless persecution, probably no question of return to Palestine would ever have arisen. The world should have been their home, if only for the sake of their distinguished contribution to it.”

But in the next paragraph, he reiterates his long held stand on the forced Jewish occupation of the Palestinian land, “But, in my opinion, they have erred grievously in seeking to impose themselves on Palestine with the aid of America and Britain and now with the aid of naked terrorism.”

And he held this view on the Palestine-Israel problem till his death, blaming Christianity for singling out and wronging the Jews, “Their citizenship of the world should have and would have made them honoured guests of any country. Their thrift, their varied talent, their great industry should have made them welcome anywhere. It is a blot on the Christian world that they have been singled out, owing to a wrong reading of the New Testament, for prejudice against them. If an individual Jew does a wrong, the whole Jewish world is to blame for it. If an individual Jew like Einstein makes a great discovery or another composes unsurpassable music, the merit goes to the authors and not to the community to which they belong.”

JERUSALEM CLAIMS

Swamy, the senior BJP leader, tweeted last night, hours after US President Donald Trump made his formal announcement to move US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, “Israel has international recognition of a part of Jerusalem as its territory; hence India should shift its Embassy to this part of the city.”

But the contention is about East Jerusalem that houses Islam’s third holiest shrine Al Aqsa mosque and Palestine and the whole Muslim world see Jerusalem as Palestine capital. While West Jerusalem has been Israel’s seat of government, it occupied East Jerusalem in 1967’s Six Day War.

Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has created outrage in the Muslim world amid the global concern that it will disturb status-quo in one of the most dangerous conflict theatres of the world where escalating tension may easily give way to a larger war involving many countries.

The issue has been so sensitive that almost no country so far had recognized Israel’s sovereign claim over Jerusalem and the global consensus has been that the issue must be resolved through negotiation between Israel and Palestine. Even the previous US presidents recognized it and that is why none of them thought to cross the line even if the US Congress had enacted a law in 1995, Jerusalem Embassy Act, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and had decided to move its Embassy there. The UN has also condemned the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem through the UN Security Council Resolution 478.

INDIA’S STAND

India’s has reacted cautiously on the development, “India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country.”

In fact, if it took 45 years after the independence for India to allow Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, as it always tried to maintain balance between its principled stand on Palestine and its geopolitical concerns that Israel could have addressed. India and Israel established full diplomatic ties on January 29, 1992 but it took another 25 years for India’s first ever prime ministerial visit to the nation in July this year. In these 25 years, Israel has emerged as India’s most reliable defence partner and India as Israel’s largest defence market, accounting for 41 per cent of its arms export.

©SantoshChaubey

TRUMP’S JERUSALEM DECLARATION: AL QAEDA, ISIS THREATEN BLOODBATH

Al Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS) have threatened attacks on US for its decision to shift its Israel Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While ISIS warning says it is coming to liberate Al-Quds (Arabic for Jerusalem) and will unleash bloodbath, pro Al Qaeda channels appeals Muslims that “demonstrations must be followed by explosions and civil disobedience by military anger killing those of the crusaders we find on our land and destroy the western interests until they stop supporting Israel.”

Yesterday, US President Donald Trump had announced that the US will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and today he made its formal declaration. The decision has created outrage in the Muslim world amid the global concern that it will disturb status-quo in one of the most dangerous conflict theatres of the world where escalating tension may easily give way to a larger war involving many countries. If Israel considers Jerusalem its holiest shrine, the Muslim world also views the historical city as the third holiest shrine of Islam and the Palestinians consider East Jerusalem that houses Al Aqsa mosque as their capital. The terror warnings say the whole of Jerusalem in Palestine’s capital and assert that “O Aqsa, we are coming to liberate you.”

The issue has been so sensitive that almost no country so far had recognized Israel’s sovereign claim over Jerusalem and the global consensus has been that the issue must be resolved through negotiation between Israel and Palestine. Even the previous US presidents recognized it and that is why none of them thought to cross the line even if the US Congress had enacted a law in 1995 to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and had decided to move its Embassy there. The UN has also condemned the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem through the UN Security Council Resolution 478.

The Trump’s announcement has breached that global consensus. And while he may have been able to fulfil one of his campaign promise with this announcement, there are fears of its immediate aftermath that it will become rallying point for jihadists and terror groups from across the world and these warnings from ISIS and Al Qaeda only confirm it.

Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intel Group, a US based terror monitor agency, has posted the terror threats on her Twitter handle. She says “the jihadists are capitalizing on the possibility of the US moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and warns that the world should expect to see a long, ongoing campaign by jihadists about the move.” While pro ISIS channels have posted warnings and graphics in English, Arabic and Hebrew in line with the ISIS propaganda practices, the Al Qaeda channels are exhorting Muslims to come forward with comments of Osama bin Laden and other leaders on Palestine.

Rita Katz‏ @Rita_Katz
1. Both AQ & ISIS supporters threatening attacks as US prepares to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. One pro-ISIS Telegram channel posted graphics of Aqsa Mosque, warning in Arabic, Hebrew and English: We will cut off your heads and we will liberate Jerusalem from you.”

2. Jihadists are capitalizing on the possibility of the US moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, insisting: “All of al-Quds is the capital of Palestine”, posting threats, graphics, jihadi leadership statements, and documents.

3) Likewise, pro-AQ channels disseminating statements by leaders like slain AQAP leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi, instructing to “kill those of the Crusaders we find on our land, and destroy the Western interests” until they stop supporting Israel.

4) We should expect to see a long, ongoing campaign by jihadists about the move of the US capital in Israel to Jerusalem, including warnings and threats by jihadi leaders, as the matter is a major rallying point within the global jihadi movement across ISIS/AQ lines.

©SantoshChaubey

PAKISTANI PROPAGANDA ACCUSES INDIA OF RUNNING A CELL TO SABOTAGE CPEC

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

Pakistan has long been accusing India of trying to sabotage the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Top Pakistani politicians and army generals have been blaming India for staging attacks in Pakistan through its external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Obviously, all this has been without proof.

But now the Pakistani propaganda has gone a step ahead by incorporating figures like when India founded this so called anti-CPEC cell and how much fund was allocated to it. General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of Pakistan, while addressing an event in Islamabad today, charged India of running a cell to disrupt the CPEC.

“RAW established a new cell with a special allocation of over $500 million in 2015 to sabotage CPEC projects in Pakistan,” a Dawn report quoted him saying. While addressing an event in Islamabad, he further said, “India’s indirect interference in Pakistan is manifested in sponsoring Tehreek-i-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP), Baloch and other sub-nationalist outfits and many other terrorist groups.”

Now the world can see through such baseless allegations coming from a country that is seen as a safe haven for terrorists and is increasingly becoming isolated in the world for this very reason, especially when it is against India, the world’s largest democracy, a growing global power, both economically as well as militarily and a responsible geopolitical entity.

It is Pakistan, in fact, that has been giving shelter to India’s and the world’s most wanted like Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Hafiz Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim and is main terror exporter to India, a fact that major world powers including the US and UK have started accepting. How can the world forget that Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was in hiding in Pakistan for years before he was hunted down and killed? How can Pakistan convince the world that it is not home to the Taliban and Al Qaeda factions and the Haqqani Network?

While the ruling Pakistani elite have been brazenly lying about establishing peace in their country and browbeating their propaganda to the world to tell that they have wiped out every terror outfit, the fact is, this year alone, over 450 civilians and around 200 security forces personnel have lost their lives in over 100 incidents in the country, data from South Asia Terrorism Portal shows.

WHY INDIA IS OPPOSED TO THE CPEC

China’s One Belt One Road initiative aims to de velop economic corridors in Asia, Africa and Europe, something that India is opposed to as one of such corridors, the CPEC. India is opposed to CPEC because a part of it passes through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir that is legally India’s. For strategic reasons also, India doesn’t welcome a Chinese presence just across the border in a disputed territory that India considers its own.

CPEC, AN INTERNAL SECURITY NIGHTMARE FOR PAKISTAN

Pakistan sees the CPEC, a long term $75 billion project from Gwadar port in Balochistan to Kashgar China’s Xinjiang province, as the next big thing in the nation’s history that will transform it into of hub and economic activity in this part of Asia.

But the fact is, it passes through many restive regions of Pakistan including Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Balochistan and terrorists groups that are hostile to China, including TTP and Al Qaeda, have threatened to attack Chinese investments in the corridor to avenge the so-called atrocities against Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

Then there are ethnic people of areas the CPEC passes through who are opposed to it. A combine of religious groups in Gilgit Baltistan has demanded the complete removal of Pakistan’s Army from its soil.

Baloch people, who are fighting the Pakistani establishment for their freedom and have long been accusing Pakistan of exploiting their province, see the CPEC as yet another tool to exploit the Baloch people. Baloch nationalists blame Pakistan for forcefully acceding their province. Pakistani security forces are alleged to have killed thousands of Baloch people. Reports of rape, torture and disappearances are common. Baloch people say they are ethnically different from Pakistanis and are demanding freedom or autonomy to decide their own affairs.

How bad is the security scenario in the CPEC regions also reflects in the fact that Pakistan has raised a Special Security Division (SSD) of 15000 soldiers to protect some 7000 Chinese individuals and CPEC installations that are coming up. This is when the project has just begun. The CPEC was proposed in 2013 and an agreement between Pakistan and China was signed in May 2013.

©SantoshChaubey

ONLY TRUMP CAN DO IT! HUMILIATES AND LECTURES JAPAN WHILE IN JAPAN!

US President Donald Trump is known for routinely exceeding his brief, adding improvisations to his prepared speech that normally land his team in trouble and this time it has come from Japan which is Trump’s first strop during his 12-day five nation Asian tour. The other countries on Trump’s itinerary are China, Vietnam, South Korea and The Philippines.

Trump was addressing a news conference in Tokyo today and everything was going fine till he was reading from his prepared speech. But the moment he took a detour, it all came crashing down when Trump spoke something that not only stunned the members of his delegation but also humiliated his host, the Japanese.

While the prepared speech of Trump was praising Japan’s economy, his impromptu addition took a different track which not only showed Japan’s economy in poor light but also humiliated the country’s pride dragging in undue comparison between Japan’s and US’ economies.

“I don’t know if Japan’s economy is as good as ours. I think not. OK? We’re going to try to keep it that way. And you’ll be second,” an MSNBC report* quoted Trump saying. Certainly not a diplomatic finesse, especially when the host country is a major global power, your friend and an important ally.

Trump’s impromptu addition to his speech reiterated another of Trump’s characteristics, that he doesn’t care for facts while speaking out his mind. He said Japanese economy can only be second to the US economy while the fact is China overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy in 2011 and will be bigger than even the US economy well before 2030, a study* by PricewaterhouseCoopers says. Even India’s economy will overtake the US economy by 2050.

Trump did not stop at it. He also lectured Japan to remilitarise, procure weapons from the US and shoot down North Korean missiles. In spite of sanctions, North Korea has developed the inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) threatening to hit the US mainland. The rogue nation facing tough UN Security Council and global sanctions has also detonated a hydrogen bomb and has declared itself a nuclear power. It recently fired two missiles over Japan.

“Abe will shoot them out of the sky when he completes the purchase of lots of additional military equipment from the United States. The prime minister is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should. And we make the best military equipment by far,” Trump said* after his summit with Abe.

And then Trump came to his favourite, America’s trade imbalance with countries like China, Japan and Germany. These three countries account for $483 billion of the trade deficit the US has with the top slot goes to China with which the US has a trade deficit of $349 billion followed by Japan ($69 billion) and German ($65 billion).

While addressing the business community, Trump declared Japan had not reciprocated in the same way as the US did when it came to trade ties but now Trump was working on to correct it*, “We want free and reciprocal trade but right now our trade with Japan is not free and it’s not reciprocal and I know it will be and we’ve started the process.” An ingenious way that Trump suggested the Japanese to lower the trade deficit burden the US had was to buy more and more military hardware from the US.

He also committed another factual blunder. He asked the Japanese carmakers to come to the US to manufacture and sell their cars instead of exporting them*, “Try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over. Is that possible to ask? That’s not rude. Is that rude? I don’t think so” while the fact is 75 per cent of Japanese cars or three out of four sold in America are built in North America.

©SantoshChaubey

US SLAMS RUSSIA FOR DEFENDING SYRIA OVER CHEMICAL ATTACK THAT CLAIMED CIVILIAN LIVES

The article originally appeared on India Today.

The United States has come down heavily on Russia for raising questions over a United Nations report that has blamed Syria’s dictator Bashar al Assad for using chemical weapons to kill innocent civilians.

The United Nations-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (UN-OPCW) released last week its latest report on the Khan Sheikhun sarin gas attack on April 4, 2017 in Syria which had killed over 100 Syrians including children and women concluding that it was indeed the Assad regime that had released the poisonous gas.

The report by the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), a body of experts formed by the UN Security Council unanimously, said “the panel was confident that the Syrian Arab Republic was responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhun on 4 April 2017” which was instantly countered by Russia, one of the few allies of the Syrian dictator.

Rejecting the JIM report and the experts behind it, Russia had said the panel of experts had failed to meet the norms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in case of Syria with serious lapses and an inept investigation concluding that “a thorough reading of the report showed it to hardly be professionally prepared and it was rather amateurish and was generally based on speculations and selective use of facts.”

Slamming the Russian stand, The White House said, “Russia’s attempts to undermine and eliminate the JIM show a callous disregard for the suffering and loss of life caused by the use of chemical weapons and an utter lack of respect for international norms.”

Calling the Russian bluff, The White House said this April attack was the fourth time the JIM confirmed use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime “underscoring the brutal and horrifying barbarism of Bashar al-Assad” and that protecting such a dictator by Russia even more egregious.

Refuting the Russian demands of a new set of rules for chemical weapons investigators in Syria, the US “implored the UN Security Council to renew the mandate of the JIM so that it may continue to identify the perpetrators of these horrific attacks and send a clear message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.” Last month Russia had vetoed a proposal in UNSC to extend the JIM’s work in Syria but later on had said that it would soon come up with its motion to set norms for JIM’s extension.

THOUSANDS KILLED IN SYRIAN CHEMICAL ATTACKS

Thousands of Syrians lost their lives in chemical attacks. Though under international pressure, in 2013, Syria signed the Convention on Chemical Weapons that bans production, storage, use and transportation of chemical weapons, it has been alleged that Syria never disclosed its full chemical arsenal for international inspection and destruction.

And these allegations are not baseless. An ABC News report earlier this year, quoting the White House, listed about at least over a dozen chemical attacks in Syria since 2012. These include the chemical attack of August 2013 in Aleppo which killed around 1500 people and left thousands crippled with symptoms of nerve gas attack. There was an international hue and cry but the responsibility could not be affixed.

Also, a BBC report in May this year, based on intelligence documents, said Syria was still making chemical and biological weapons at three sites. The report further said that both Russia and Iran were aware of it. Also, a Human Rights Watch report published the same month said there was evidence of use of nerve gas by Syria in multiple chemical attacks.

After Assad’s chemical attack on April 4 in Idlib city’s Khan Sheikhun, the US had launched a missile attack on a Syrian airbase that was reportedly used to launch the Idlib chemical attack. It was the first direct US military attack on Syria. Syria had then denied its hands and Russia had strongly defended it. On the contrary, it blamed the Syrian rebels for the attack, like it does every time.

ASSAD’S STRENGTH: RUSSIA, CHINA AND IRAN’S SUPPORT

Ignoring the global calls for isolating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Putin has been standing firm to support him, morally and militarily. Russian fighter jets pounding Syrian rebels and Islamic State bases are a regular occurrence. Almost all major western nations are against al-Assad. If he is standing tall even after that, it is because of Russian support only.

Assad got another big world power in his favour when China, in August 2016, announced to join Russia in providing humanitarian assistance and military training to Syria.

In February 2017, Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council Resolution aimed to impose more sanctions on Syria for using chemical weapons. Then Syria has Iran’s support. Shiite Iran has a religious connect to defend the Syrian government of Alawites, a Shia offshoot, and strategic interests in defeating Syria’s Sunni rebels.

©SantoshChaubey

US HITS BACK, SAYS RUSSIA PROTECTING BASHAR AL ASSAD AND HIS CHEMICAL ATTACKS IS EGREGIOUS

The United States has come down heavily on Russia for raising questions over a United Nations report that has blamed Syria’s dictator Bashar al Assad for using chemical weapons to kill innocent civilians.

The United Nations-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (UN-OPCW) released last week its latest report on the Khan Sheikhun sarin gas attack on April 4, 2017 in Syria which had killed over 100 Syrians including children and women concluding that it was indeed the Assad regime that had released the poisonous gas.

The report by the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), a body of experts formed by the UN Security Council unanimously, said “the panel was confident that the Syrian Arab Republic was responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhun on 4 April 2017″ which was instantly countered by Russia, one of the few allies of the Syrian dictator.

Rejecting the JIM report and the experts behind it, Russia had said the panel of experts had failed to meet the norms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in case of Syria with serious lapses and an inept investigation concluding that “a thorough reading of the report showed it to hardly be professionally prepared and it was rather amateurish and was generally based on speculations and selective use of facts.”

Slamming the Russian stand, The White House today said, “Russia’s attempts to undermine and eliminate the JIM show a callous disregard for the suffering and loss of life caused by the use of chemical weapons and an utter lack of respect for international norms.”

Calling the Russian bluff, The White House said this April attack was the fourth time the JIM confirmed use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime “underscoring the brutal and horrifying barbarism of Bashar al-Assad” and that protecting such a dictator by Russia even more egregious.

Refuting the Russian demands of a new set of rules for chemical weapons investigators in Syria, the US “implored the UN Security Council to renew the mandate of the JIM so that it may continue to identify the perpetrators of these horrific attacks and send a clear message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.” Last month Russia had vetoed a proposal in UNSC to extend the JIM’s work in Syria but later on had said that it would soon come up with its motion to set norms for JIM’s extension.

Thousands of Syrians have lost their lives in chemical attacks. Though under international pressure, in 2013, Syria signed the Convention on Chemical Weapons that bans production, storage, use and transportation of chemical weapons, it has been alleged that Syria never disclosed its full chemical arsenal for international inspection and destruction.

And these allegations are not baseless. An ABC News report earlier this year, quoting the White House, listed about at least over a dozen chemical attacks in Syria since 2012. These include the chemical attack of August 2013 in Aleppo which killed around 1500 people and left thousands others crippled with symptoms of nerve gas attack. There was an international hue and cry but the responsibility could not be affixed.

Also, a BBC report in May this year, based on intelligence documents, said Syria was still making chemical and biological weapons at three sites. The report further said that both Russia and Iran were aware of it. Also, a Human Rights Watch report published the same month said there was evidence of use of nerve gas by Syria in multiple chemical attacks.

After Assad’s chemical attack on April 4 in Idlib city’s Khan Sheikhun, the US had launched a missile attack on a Syrian airbase that was reportedly used to launch the Idlib chemical attack. It was the first direct US military attack on Syria. Syria had then denied its hands and Russia had strongly defended it. On the contrary, it blamed the Syrian rebels for the attack, like it does every time.

©SantoshChaubey

US IS BLAMING PAKISTAN TO COVER ITS OWN FAILURES IN AFGHANISTAN: PAKISTAN’S FOREIGN MINISTER

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

The United States policy in Afghanistan is framed by defeated US generals and can never succeed with the baggage of defeat it carries, Pakistan has said blaming the US for singling out Pakistan to cover its own failures in the war ravaged south Asian nation.

“The US generals who faced defeat in Afghanistan in the last 15 years have formed the structure for the policy for this region,” remarked Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif* while speaking on the floor of the country’s senate today, adding that “no objective policy can be formed when it is baggage of defeat” and is bound to fail, a Geo News report said.

The report further quoted Asif saying “when the US holds Pakistan responsible, it, in fact, tries to brush its own defeat under the carpet.” Asif also informed the senate of Pakistan that he told this to the US in unequivocal terms, both during his visit to the US in September and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Pakistan visit on October 24, first by a senior US government official after US President Donald Trump unveiled his Afghanistan centric South Asia policy on August 21 where he blamed Pakistan for being a safe terror haven and harbouring terrorists who hurt US interests in Afghanistan, especially the Haqqani Network.

During his visit, Tillerson had reminded Pakistan that it needed to eradicate militants and terrorists operating from its soil, something which had seen strong reactions from Khawaja Asif and the Pakistani parliament.

Blaming the US and other international forces fighting in Afghanistan of being inept, Asif then had hit back saying it was indeed the central reason behind the prolonged Afghanistan crisis. He had further added that the “terrorist attacks were not planned on or executed from Pakistani soil and there were no terrorist safe havens in the country,” be it the Haqqani Network or others while its senate chairman had called Tillerson’s remarks unacceptable, “Tillerson’s statement seems like that of a viceroy’s before they visit a country.”

Pakistan has also dismissed the US threats of curtailing economic and military aid. “Pakistan only receives “a trickle” of economic assistance from the US and does not get any military hardware from them and Pakistanis are not like in the past when they were American’s proxy,” Asif recently said in an interview, even if the facts say otherwise. According to a USAID report, the US aid to Pakistan till 2012 stood at $60 Billion. Also, in the last five years alone, since 2011, Pakistan has received some $15 Billion in aid from America, including military and financial assistance.

After US President Donald Trump called Pakistan a treacherous nation and a safe haven for terrorists, engaged in double-dealings, harbouring and protecting the very same terrorists who attack the US interests in Afghanistan, while unveiling his South Asia policy, the US has increasingly been putting more pressure on Pakistan to honour its commitment.

Last month, when Pakistan was patting its back for its so-called brilliant rescue operation to liberate a US-Canadian family who was in Haqqanis’ captivity for five years, the terse response from Trump was, “the Pakistani government’s cooperation is a sign that it is honouring America’s wishes for it to do more to provide security in the region.”

The US has taken measures including cutting military aid to Pakistan and is going to curtail its role in Afghanistan while at the same time is looking for a strategic partnership with India in Afghanistan’s reconstruction process, a cornerstone of Trump’s new Afghanistan policy, even if Pakistan sees an increased Indian presence in Afghanistan inimical to its interests.

©SantoshChaubey

NORTH KOREA: TAKE OUR HYDROGEN BOMB THREAT ‘LITERALLY’

A senior North Korean official has warned that the world should take literally its foreign minister’s warning to detonate a hydrogen bomb over Pacific Ocean. In an interview to CNN, the official, Ri Yong Pil, said the world should not dismiss the North Korean threat as “it has always brought its words into action.”

“The foreign minister is very well aware of the intentions of our supreme leader, so I think you should take his words literally,” CNN quoted Ri Yong Pil saying.

The threat was issued last month by North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho during his visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Ri’s threat followed vitriolic outburst of his country’s dictator Kim Jong-un who called US President Donald Trump a frightened dog and a mentally deranged dotard after Trump threatened to totally destroy North Korea while delivering his maiden UNGA speech.

While speaking at the UNGA on September 19, Trump had warned that if the United States was forced to defend itself or its allies, it would have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea adding that the Rocket Man was on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. Trump invented the term Rocket Man to describe Kim Jong Un after a series of missile and nuclear tests by North Korea under his watch.

Regular North Korean threats, its repeated missile tests and successful ICBM launch followed by a hydrogen bomb detonation in spite of global sanctions and Donald Trump’s warnings of ‘action on the scale of fire and fury against North Korea’ has pushed the whole world to debate possibilities, ranging from a nuclear war to the Third World War.

Just yesterday, following Kim Jong-un’s declaration that North Korea was a “fully-fledged nuclear power,” the country had issued a warning that it was ready to strike at any moment in its self-defense and the attack would be on an unprecedented scale. Kim Jong-un had written an open letter addressed to different parliaments of the world to make his proclamation warning the world that “it would be a big miscalculation and an expression of ignorance if US President Donald Trump thought that he would bring North Korea, a nuclear power, to its knees through nuclear war threat.”

Reports have emerged that US has put its nuclear bombers on 24-hour alert to meet any emergency, a first since the Cold War days. Trump revealed in a Fox News interview recently, “You would be shocked to see how totally prepared we are if we need to be.”

On September 3, North Korea had detonated a hydrogen bomb in its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date and Pyongyang had warned of more ‘gift packages’ for Washington which came true when it test fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan on September 15.

©SantoshChaubey