GALWAY ALLIANCE AGAINST WAR
FEBRUARY 2013 BULLETIN
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1. IRISH SOLIDERS TO TRAIN TROOPS INVOLVED IN OVERTHROW OF MALI’S DEMOCRATIC GOVT IN 2012
2. SHANNON’S BLOOD MONEY
3. OBAMA’S EMPTY PROMISES FROM THE “LAND OF THE FREE”
4. ON THE SCENT OF DEATH THREATS TO GAAW’S PRO
5. MING, GAAW’S COMPUTER & CORRUPTION IN THE GARDAÍ
6. UNEMPLOYED KILLER OF THE MONTH
FOR YOUR DIARY
GAAW PUBLIC MEETING
US ARMY COLONEL ANN WRIGHT TO SPEAK IN GALWAY
THIS MONDAY, 18th FEBRUARY,
@ 8PM IN RICHARDSON’S; EYRE SQ., GALWAY
Col. Ann Wright is a former US diplomat and the highest ranking member of US Military to resign over the Iraq war.
The political bias of the national media is blatant with regard to Col. Wright’s visit to Ireland. She has received no national coverage. We pay a licence fee to RTE, so people should complain to RTE, simply email email@example.com . Criticism should also be directed towards the press and Vincent Browne and TV3.
IRISH SOLDIERS TO TRAIN TROOPS INVOLVED IN OVERTHROW
OF MALI’S DEMOCRATIC GOVT IN 2012
“In the interests of the Irish Defence Force’s well-deserved international reputation…it is incumbent upon our government that Ireland act with credibility and consistency, and that the government act…and withdraw these [seven] Irish military personnel serving in Afghanistan so as to avoid any misinterpretation of our policy of neutrality in military conflict, and peace-keeping and conflict resolution.” - Michael D Higgins, Labour Party’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, participating in a Dáil debate in May 2010.
So what has changed since Higgins made that speech to allow the Labour leader sanction eight Irish troops being sent to Mali to train the troops that less than a year ago overthrew in a putsch the democratically elected President, Amadou Toumani Touré? The only change is that Labour is no longer in opposition. In government they pursue the same sycophantic policies towards the imperialist powers as all the other establishment parties.
In the GAAW Bulletin last summer we were predicting Mali was in the sights of the French and their NATO allies. We argued that we are witnessing a re-run of the Scramble for Africa. The West wants Africa’s resources and specifically in the Saleh region it fears the movement for independence by the Tuareg peoples, which would threaten first and foremost France’s source for uranium in neighbouring Niger, where the Tuareg people are super-exploited in the uranium mines.
As in the case of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the United Nations has retrospectively rubber-stamped the French military assault on Northern Mali. Ireland agreeing to send eight troops is an attempt to give credibility to this invasion. But in truth it doesn’t. The peoples of the developing world must now know that this banana republic is bit-player for imperialism – Irish neutrality is dead.
Nevertheless, consecutive governments have been reluctant to debate this issue in the Dáil – which is a positive sign in one sense. That is why the number of Irish soldiers sent on these dubious missions is always below the figure of twelve, otherwise a debate would be automatically triggered.
Retired Commandant Edward Horgan elaborated on this point in a letter to the Irish Times on 15th February; “The decision by the Government to send up to eight Irish soldiers to Mali is both a mistake and a sleight of hand to Dáil Eireann. The so-called triple lock that should apply to Irish soldiers serving overseas, involves approval by UN, the Irish Government and Dáil Eireann. However the Irish Government has been evading this triple-lock mechanism by sending small groups of up to twelve soldiers on inappropriate foreign missions such as the NATO Afghan occupation, where seven Irish soldiers are still serving. Other such missions for which Dáil approval is not sought are in the Congo, Kosovo, Somalia and Western Sahara involving over 40 soldiers. Many of these missions are not genuine UN peacekeeping missions, but are supporting western military aggression against impoverished peoples.”
We can expect more of the same in the future from this rotten government.
SHANNON’S BLOOD MONEY
“Military traffic has been in the DNA of Shannon for many years. It is something that is important, it’s lucrative and we are certainly going to go after it as much as possible.” ( Rose Hynes, Chairperson of the Shannon Airport Authority, addressing an Oireachtas Committee Jan. 23rd 2013 )
Appalling as this statement is, at least it is honest. Over the last 11 years we have listened to endless politicians feign support for Irish neutrality while they actively subverted it. The failure of the present Government ministers and their predecessors to condemn Hynes’ statement means that we can say without fear of contradiction or accusations of exaggeration that this coalition and previous coalitions have blood on their hands – the blood of over a million Iraqis and thousands of Afghanis. And we can also conclude that if US military traffic is “lucrative” – then it is Blood Money.
But as the report by Open Society Justice Initiative highlights Shannon is not only involved in mass murder, but as we in the peace movement have continually stated, it is an accessory to torture through its involvement in “extraordinary rendition”.. Fifty-four countries in total willingly participated. Ireland “permitted” CIA torture flights to land, re-fuel and for the CIA kidnappers and torturers to stay overnight. There should be little doubt that the Irish authorities were well aware of the activities of these flights. Successive Irish governments and ministers are therefore guilty as accessories to torture, a serious offence under international law. Shannonwatch delivered a copy of the report to the Gardai in Shannon to help with any investigation. We do not expect any imminent Garda raids, arrests or prosecutions.
EXTRACTS FROM THE REPORT – SHANNON AND ITS TORTURE VICTIMS
The report further “deplor[ed] the stopovers in Ireland of aircraft which have been shown to have been used by the CIA, on other occasions, for the extraordinary rendition of Bisher Al-Rawi, Jamil El-Banna, Abou Elkassim Britel, Khaled El-Masri, Binyam Mohammed, Abu Omar and Maher Arar and for the expulsion of Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed El Zari.” Richmor-operated flights were involved in the extraordinary rendition of the Egyptian cleric Abu Omar, and are also suspected of having refueled at Shannon before transporting Abd al Nashiri. Aircraft that transferred Khaled al-Makhtari, a Yemeni national, from Iraq to Afghanistan refueled at Shannon airport the day before the transfer. Al-Makhtari was initially held in Abu Ghraib prison before being transferred to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan. In April 2004, he was transferred to another secret prison in an unidentified country,possibly in Eastern Europe. He was held there in complete isolation for 28 months before being sent to Yemen, where he was eventually released without charge or trial in May 2007.”
OBAMA’S EMPTY PROMISES FROM THE “LAND OF THE FREE”
In his most recent State of the Union address US President Obama stated that US troops would withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. But the German government also made similar commitments last year only to qualify them with the caveat, unless the Karsai regime asked them to remain. So, we can be pretty certain that the NATO forces and the Irish soldiers will still be stationed in the Hindu Kush long after 2014.
A further reason for treating Obama’s promise with scepticism is that one of the planks of Obama’s election campaign in 2007 was to close the obscenity Guantanamo. Four years later it remains open. But as Obama began his second term it was announced there was going to be a closure linked to this prison camp: the office set up to fulfill his election pledge on Guantanamo is to be closed.
Coinciding with this news was the sentencing to 30 months in prison of a former CIA man, who had supported the torture programme associated with Guantanamo and the so-called “war on terror”. However, John Kiriakou was going to jail not for being involved in torture, but for being an anti-torture whistleblower. His case joins that of Bradley Manning’s as an example of the USA’s understanding of the law: the torturers and their supporters will not just remain free, but as in the case of John O. Brennan, who Obama seeks to have as his CIA chief, they probably face promotion.
Since 9/11 (2001) conspicuous members of the Moslem community have also been under attack by the US state. Take the case of Dr Rafil Dhafir. After being held without charge for two years and then was sentenced to 22 years because he ran a small charity that delivered cash and food to Iraqis, who were suffering under the US/UK driven sanctions on Iraq.
And then there is the Holy Land Foundation case: directors of this perfectly legal charity were sentenced to up to 65 years imprisonment for helping raise the prestige of Hamas, a “terrorist” organisation, on the basis of evidence of an “anonymous expert”. Under US law the defence has no right to cross-examine such anonymous “experts”. In order to channel funds to Palestine the Holy Land Foundation was compelled to use these zakat (charity) committees, as were US Government agencies. These zakat committees had not been proscribed as terrorist organisations by the US. Nevertheless that did not stop the defendants being convicted of a “crime” they most certainly did not commit.
The jailing of these charity workers is just another horrific example of the racist nature of US society. There are an estimated 2.3 million people in jail in the USA today – the vast majority of whom are non-white. The jail population explosion is inextricably linked to the privatisation of prisons. Profits from these prisons increase with the number of imprisoned and with the amount of unpaid labour that the capitalist owners of these “enterprises” can extract from the incarcerated. That is why imprisonment is the new black slavery of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. A racist policing and legal system ensures that the prison population is primarily non-white: one-third of black people find themselves in jail at some stage in their lives.
If the US state was really interested in “crime” suppression, then surely those Bush and Obama officials who spearheaded the war crimes and torture would be behind bars. As would those white-collared criminals from Wall Street.
ON THE SCENT OF DEATH THREATS TO GAAW’S PRO
It is nearly five years since our PRO, Niall Farrell, began receiving death threats. In the past couple of months there have been developments that led to the Oranmore Gardaí questioning a suspect and submitting a book of evidence to the DPP. However, the latter – as was expected by GAAW – found there was insufficient evidence to carry out a prosecution. Nevertheless, it is now clear to us who is responsible for these calls. And the pathetic, but nasty individuals know that GAAW knows their identity. One of the people concerned is presently residing in Alicante, Spain, where he owns a property. This same person has made a number of vile calls to our PRO since December, which were traced to Alicante. This character has a rather colourful and criminal past. A couple of years ago he was before the courts and convicted of attempting to carry out a rather bizarre – indeed stupid – act of fraud. His erstwhile sidekick in the death calls saga is a local businessman, who it appears is very fond of warplanes…..
GAAW appreciate the assistance of Oranmore’s Gardaí.
MING, GAAW’S COMPUTER & CORRUPTION IN THE GARDAÍ
Meanwhile, 8 months after the raid on the home of GAAW’s PRO his desktop computer remains in the custody of the Gardaí in Co. Clare. Deputy Luke Ming Flanagan has now raised the issue of the computer with the Minister for Justice. Ming is dealing with this case as part of his and other independent TDs’ overall campaign against Garda corruption. GAAW is hearing through the grapevine that the generous Garda Inspector who has helped quash “up to 1,000 traffic offence fines" comes from……
UNEMPLOYED KILLER OF THE MONTH
Spare a thought folks for our “Unemployed Killer of the Month”. He’s the US Navy Seal, who Washington would have us believe, bravely pumped 3 bullets into the unarmed Osama bin Laden. However, while Pres. Obama rakes in the political kudos and Hollywood the US bucks, this nameless killer – let’s call him Mr Cannon Fodder – has left the armed forces and now finds himself unemployed. The low-brow magazine Esquire has just carried out an extensive interview with Mr Fodder and that just might help him get a job. But what about all the other foolish US soldiers who have returned from combat minus a limb or a few marbles and deeply traumatised? There is no doubt there are a lot of Mr & Ms Fodders out there in the US of A.