ICC Considering Case Against U.S. Officials For Alleged War Crimes in Afghanistan

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has stated that prosecutors shall be deciding imminently whether they shall be opening up prosecutions against CIA and other U.S. personnel involved “in torture, rape, cruel treatment” and other “outrages upon personal dignity”, within Afghanistan and elsewhere including Poland, Romania and Lithuania.  The ICC has determined that there is reasonable basis to believe that “at a minimum” crimes committed by U.S. forces within the jurisdiction of the ICC include:

“War crimes  of  torture and related ill treatment, by  US  military forces deployed to Afghanistan and in secret detention facilities operated by the  Central  Intelligence  Agency,  principally  in  the  2003-2004  period, although allegedly continuing in some cases until 2014”

Such an investigation of U.S. forces would be unprecedented in the history of the international body, which has long been pushed to investigate crimes committed by all sides within Afghanistan.

The ICC has been coming under increasing criticism for failing to investigate and prosecute alleged war crimes committed by countries of the global north, instead focusing all but one of their investigations on leaders within the African continent.  South Africa, Burundi and Gambia have already announced plans to leave the ICC, with Gambia’s official withdrawal date officially announced yesterday as being the 10th of November 2017.

Giuliani Now Trump’s Most Likely Secretary of State Choice

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is currently Donald Trump’s favored candidate for the position of Secretary of State, according to sources from within the Trump transition team. Giuliani, who began his political career as a federal prosecutor, has little foreign policy experience, but has shown himself to be highly loyal to Trump, with whom he has had a friendship for the past 30 years. Former UN ambassador John Bolton, who served briefly under President George W. Bush, is also still being considered for the post, but disagrees with Trump’s efforts to establish closer relations with Russia.

Reports of Intense Infighting Within Trump Transition Team

The news about the impending Secretary of State decision comes shortly after the Trump transition team is going through major conflicts and a management shakeup. Trump’s transition manager, Governor Chris Christie was fired from his post late last week and Vice-President-elect Mike Pence is now in charge. However, Pence has not yet taken over formally and inside sources tell CNN and other news outlets that a conflict between the just -appointed Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, and the Trump White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, are reaching unprecedented intensity. Priebus represents the Republican Party establishment and Bannon represents the nationalist and so-called “alt-right” Republican Party anti-establishment.

Obama Travels to Europe to Calm Concerns About Trump Presideny

President Barack Obama arrived in Greece today, on what is probably his last foreign trip as US president, where he will try to calm foreign leaders’ concerns about last week’s election of Donald Trump as the next US president. This is Obama’s first trip to Greece as president and he used the opportunity to question the prioritization of austerity in Greece’s recovery. He is also scheduled to give a talk on globalization and democracy. During a joint press conference with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Obama said he did not believe that his policies led to Trump’s election, but that it was rather the result of “the view of the American people to just shake things up”. He then warned against nationalism in the wake of Britain’s Brexit vote and of Trump’s election. Obama is next scheduled to travel to Berlin to meet leaders of the European Union and then to Peru, where he will meet with leaders of countries on the Pacific Rim.

UK Government Justifies Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

The UK government is rejecting calls by two parliamentary committees to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia, following the publication of two separate parliamentary reports on the issue. Saudi Arabia has long been accused of committing war crimes in Yemen, using arms imported from western companies with direct western military support in its efforts to crush the Houthi rebellion. For the last 19 months the Saudi-led coalition has bombed schools, hospitals, weddings, funerals, market places and ancient historical sites.  A parliamentary committee found “evidence of a UK-supplied cluster munition dropped by the coalition in Yemen.” The aerial bombardments combined with a western-backed naval blockade have also pushed half of the country to the brink of starvation and the healthcare system has all been all but destroyed. The UK government responded that “there is a legal basis for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen and a legitimate need to quell the armed uprising of the Houthi rebels.” Since the fighting in Yemen began, the UK government has sold £3.3 billion worth of weapons to its long-time Saudi Arabian ally. According to British law, the UK may not sell arms to militaries when there is a risk of such arms being used against civilians. Nevertheless, the UK government argued today that Saudi Arabia meets the legal criteria for arms exports, and that no significant risk exists that the weapons will be used in war crimes. Saudi Arabia is currently the world’s second-largest arms importer, and the UK has recently become the second largest arms exporter in the world, thanks to its Saudi customers.

German Police Statewide Raid Targets Islamic Organization

German police forces have conducted a massive, federal-wide operation today, targeting “The True Religion,” a Salafist Islamic German organization. The raid has taken place simultaneously in sixty cities, in ten out of sixteen German states. Hundreds of apartments were raided, and even mosques were targeted in the search for suspects. “The True Religion” has become well-known in Germany after distributing millions of free copies of the Quran translated into German. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere of the Christian Democratic Party claimed that along the free Qurans, the organization has also distributed unconstitutional messages of hate, and support for ISIS. German security forces claim that 140 of the organization members have travelled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS. Throughout the morning the German police refused to release the number of arrests conducted during the raid.

Trump: US Must Focus on Fighting ISIL, not Changing Syrian Government

Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had their first telephone conversation since Donald Trump became the President elect of the United States.  Donald Trump has repeated his calls for improving relations with Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation as well as focusing on defeating ISIL (also known as Daesh) as well as other Islamist groups within Syria, rather than seeking regime change in Syria, which Trump has said would put the U.S. in a collision course with Russia.  President Obama ordered that the military seek out and destroy targets connected to the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Jabhat Fatah Al Sham (formerly Jabhat Al Nusra) apparently on the same day.  It is not fully known whether this more aggressive approach to targeting non-ISIL based Islamist militant groups in Syria is connected to Donald Trump’s success in the U.S. presidential elections.

Russia Denies Airstrikes in Aleppo

It has been claimed that following yesterday’s phone call, Russia stepped up its airstrikes in Aleppo.  The Russian Secretary of Defence has vociferously denied what it called ‘fake’ claims that it had been striking hospitals, stating that it has refrained from airstrikes over the last four weeks despite the continued military actions of Islamist militants in eastern Aleppo and elsewhere.  

Yesterday the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Secretary of State John Kerry also spoke by telephone.  According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Sergey Lavrov emphasised that: 

“Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Air Force have not performed flights in [eastern Aleppo] for four weeks, while Washington has yet to achieve the separation of the “moderate opposition” from terrorist groups despite the commitment undertaken to do so within seven days of suspending flights.” 

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