War Crime Hypocrisy

December 29, 2010

Related to Serbia’s EU association process nearly every progress report of European Commission highlights Serbia’s cooperation with Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Although the country has demonstrated its commitment to moving closer to the EU by building up a track record in implementing the provisions of the Interim Agreement with the EU and by undertaking key reforms the fact that so far as indictees Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić are still at large it is hard to demonstrate full cooperation with ICTY. As ICTY cooperation is a key priority of the European Partnership this makes a formal cause to halt association process (and if fugitives will be deported to Hague then the next obstacle will be recognition of Kosovo).


While EU speaks about standards or criteria during association talks so should some already members look occasionally mirror. Few news about older war crimes from last months popped to my eyes and raise a doubt in my mind about double-standards. Suspected hypocrisy does not limit to EU only but to U.S. and Nato as well. EU seems be unwilling to put their war crimes from recent history on the same line than other smaller players ones.

Following some older and newer cases for consideration.

USA/Serbia
Serbia has requested the extradition of an American citizen accused of committing genocide and other crimes as a Nazi officer during World War II. Mr. Peter Egner, 86 lives now in a retirement community outside of Seattle, Washington. Egner, a Yugoslavia native, is accused of joining in April 1941 the Nazi-controlled Security Police and Security Service in German-occupied Belgrade, a Nazi mobile killing unit that participated in the mass murder of more than 17,000 Serbian civilians during World War II. Egner came to the United States in 1960 and became a citizen six years later.

Egner has admitted volunteering to serve in the Security Police and Security Service as well as guarding prisoners as they were being transferred to concentration camps. He also admitted to serving as an interpreter during interrogations of political prisoners, which sometimes involved severe torture. Prisoners often were executed following their interrogations. Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor has said that he wants to try Egner in Serbia. (Source: Jpost )

Germany/Holland

The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Germany to extradite Dutch former SS executioner Klaas Faber, in a statement released on Thursday. Center’s third Most-Wanted Nazi War Criminal, Klaas Faber, 88, received life sentence in Holland, before escaping to Germany in 1952. The Netherlands released recently an arrest warrant for Faber, 88. In September, Germany’s Justice Ministry said it is looking into the possibility of jailing Faber more than 60 years after his conviction. The Dutch government requested that Faber be extradited several times, so that he could serve his sentence, which had been commuted to life in prison.

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter said: “Germany’s failure hereto to put Faber on trial or return him to Holland are a travesty which must be corrected as quickly as possible, while justice can still be achieved.” (Source: Jpost/Wiesenthal Center calls for SS executioner’s extradition )

Still Hilfe, or Silent Aid, an organization which provides help for Third Reich fugitives of justice, is funding the defense of Klass Faber. Stille Hilfe is known for helping Nazi fugitives Klaus Barbie and Erich Priebke evade justice as well as facilitating the escape of Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele to South America. The German Social Democratic party has called for a probe into the organization’s charitable status, but thus far, Berlin has taken no action against Stille Hilfe. (Source: Jpost/Himmler’s daughter member of Nazi fugitive aid group)

Germany

A court in Germany says the world’s third most-wanted Nazi suspect has died before he could be brought to trial. Bonn’s state court said in a statement Monday that 89- year-old Samuel Kunz died November 18. Kunz was indicted on charges he was involved in the entire process of killing Jews at the Belzec death camp: from taking victims from trains to pushing them into gas chambers to throwing corpses into mass graves. The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a statement in response to the news. where Efraim Zuroff, the center’s director in Israel, said it was “incredibly frustrating” that Kunz died before trial. “The fact that Samuel Kunz lived in Germany unprosecuted for so many decades is the result of a flawed prosecution policy which ignored virtually any Holocaust perpetrator who was not an officer. It was only the recent, long-awaited change in this policy which led to Kunz’s indictment and the opportunity to hold him accountable for his crimes. (Source JPost )

Vatican?

As time goes its harder to get old WWII fugitives to trial. However while individual persons are dying some executive organizations related to war crimes still are healthy – one of these is Vatican.

I have in my mind especially Vatican’s role in holocaust and preserving war criminals from justice. These issues are dealt in my earlier article “Jasenovac – Holocaust promoted by Vatican” but the crucial questions were following:

During WWII Croatia’s Ustashe leaders declared that they would slaughter a third of the Serb population in Croatia, deport a third and convert the remaining third from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism. 3rdbiggest extermination center – behind Auschwitz and Treblinka – created by Nazis was Jasenovac in Croatia. The death toll is estimated to be 300,000 to 700,000, some 80 % of them Serbs the rest Jews and Romas. While for Nazi-Germany Jasenovac was more a tool for ethnic cleansing for Ustashe religious aspect played crucial role. The religious motivation may be the explanation to the extreme brutality of butchers in Jasenovac. 743 Roman Catholic priests personally murdered Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. Jasenovacwas for a time, run by Fr. Filipovic-Majstorovic, a Catholic priest. The Jasenovac system of Croatian camps also included a camp for children run by Catholic nuns who used toxic soda to save bullets.

As the war ended, the Vatican Bank helped to and transfer funds Franciscans in Rome helped smuggle and launder the Ustasha Tresury, which was looted from victims of Jasenovac. The Vatican not only hoarded the gold the Croats looted, it also helped Ustasha war criminals in escaping justicein what is now nicknamed the “Vatican Ratline”.

Today a class action law suit against the Vatican Bank to recover $100 million in damages for the Vatican’s participation in these war crimes and money laundering the proceeds from their Serb, Jewish and Roma victims is still ongoing. Vatican lawyers have three times tried to get this case thrown out of court. The Supreme court has rejected their claims. In US District Court the case against the Vatican Bank (but not the Franciscan Order) was dismissed on grounds the Vatican Bank is an organ of a sovereign entity, the Vatican, which is immune from lawsuits. The just filed appeal however argues that the Vatican Bank is not sovereign and engages in commercial activity in the United States and therefore should be held accountable in a United States Federal Court.

U.S & Nato

Besides Vatican also Nato and U.S. has continuously escaped from justice or international court about its war crimes in Balkan wars – especially in case of Nato’s attack on Serbia 1999 – as well its activities in Iraq, Afghanistan and other clandestine operations around the world. Bombing civilian targets, using cluster and DU (depleted uranium) bombs can be seen as war crimes or at least violations of international law and the Geneva Conventions in particular. (More e.g. in ”10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia” ). Nato planes destroyed 4 % of its military targets during bombing – partly because for avoiding own casualties they launched missiles so high that could not make difference between wooden decoys and real weapons. Instead of military targets the main damage was made against civilian targets such as destroying an embassy (China), a prison (Istok), three column of Albanian refugees (81 dead March 13th and 75 April 14th), radio-tv station (Belgrade, 16 civilians dead), a passenger train (Grdelica bridge, 14 dead), also a number of infrastructure, commercial buildings, schools, health institutions, cultural monuments were damaged or destroyed. Some 2.500 people (mostly civilians) were dead, material civil infrastructure damage is estimated to be some 30 billion dollars.

Serbia has tried to put Nato already to International Court for war crimes during bombing 1999. And of course without success since big or important enough players don’t give a s…t about Hague and like U.S have already sealed an impunity with bilateral agreements in mission regions. More about these Nato’s war crimes during its attack on Serbia e.g. here.

Bottom line

If EU would like to act in line with its high-flown ideals it should stand straight-backed behind international court principles so that no country could be immune its rulings. And if some countries like U.S. look themselves to be above international law appropriate measures – such as sanctions – should be taken against it. And this probably is total utopia. Despite this one should not forget old war crimes especially when neo-Nazism and xenophobia gains ground even among today’s EU (e.g. Hungary) members as well candidate (e.g. Croatia) countries.

I don’t put very much weight to ICTY rulings but however from my point of view the procedure itself brings more facts about events on the table, especially when both the prosecutor and defence have made their case. At best this can make easier to bring justice also to lower level.

Some other aspects about war crimes can be found from my articles:

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Saudi-Israeli cooperation for attacking Iran

December 8, 2010

While negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva are continuing some WikiLeaks documents are highlighting the other – military – option to solve the problem. According to these classified cables, Saudi Arabia had been pressing the US to attack Iran’s nuclear sites before it developed a weapon. Saudis are not alone with their aggressive position. According to the U.S. State Department documents, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. indicated to Gen. David Petraeus in 2009 that Iran’s nuclear program should be stopped, saying, “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.”


From my point of view much more interesting information is coming from DEBKAfile‘s intelligence sources that the secret Saudi-Israeli meetings on Iran have been taking place for more than a year and will also to continue after the changing of the guard at the Mossad. The meetings between Saudi General Intelligence Director Prince Muqrin bin Abdaziz and Meir Dagan, most of which were held in the Jordanian capital Amman, dealt extensively with clandestine cooperation between the two agencies and plans for attacking Iran. Arab and Western sources reported that they reached agreement in the course of the year for Israeli fighter-bombers to transit Saudi air space on their way to bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Saudis were even willing to build a new landing strip in the desert with refuelling facilities for the use of the warplanes en route to their mission.

Busher

Targets

Few years ago a senior military intelligence official told the U.S. Embassy that the Government of Israel does not know where all of the targets are located and said that any attack would only delay, not end, the Iranian program. Also then the MFA’s (foreign ministry) office director for the Gulf states noted that potential target sites are well dispersed throughout the country, with several located in built-up civilian areas. In addition, the GOI is acutely aware of Iran’s ability to retaliate, both militarily and through attacks by its regional surrogates. PM claimed that Hizballah has 11,000 rockets (and possibly UAVs) capable of reaching Israel from launching sites in Lebanon. This old information may not be expired even today. (Wikileaks cable 05TELAVIV1593)

After Gaza flotilla case the northern route may not anymore be for use but as now found from WikiLaeks cables the southern route for air-strike may not anymore be hostile.


Human targets too

The Mossad is widely seen as responsible for a wave of covert actions including the sabotage of Iranian nuclear projects. Prof. Majid Shahriari, who died when his car was attacked in North Tehran Monday, Nov. 29, headed the team Iran established for combating the Stuxnet virus rampaging through its nuclear and military networks. The scientist’s death deals a major blow to Iran’s herculean efforts to purge its nuclear and military control systems of the destructive worm. Only this month, Stuxnet shut down nuclear enrichment at Natanz for six days from Nov. 16-22 and curtailed an important air defence exercise. Prof. Shahriari was the Iranian nuclear program’s top expert on computer codes and cyber war. Another Iranian nuclear scientist, Prof. Feredoun Abbassi-Davani, and his wife survived a second coordinated attack with serious injuries. This was the fifth attack in two years on Iranian nuclear scientists in Tehran.

A special unit for providing nuclear scientists, their homes and families with the same level of security as heads of the regime is being set up jointly by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry (MOIS), Revolutionary Guards and Al Qods Brigades. Top scientists are to be provided with armoured-plated vehicles able to withstand sticky bombs and RPG.


Iran’s defence

According the New York Times a diplomatic cable (from the WikiLeaks cache) from this past February confidently describing the sale of 19 missiles to Iran by North Korea that could give Tehran the ability to strike Western Europe and Russia. American officials appear to agree on is that at the very least North Korea sold a number of ballistic missile parts to Tehran in 2005. The sale set off alarms in Washington, because the parts were for BM-25 missiles, a weapon with powerful engines that — if deployed by Iran — could bolster Tehran’s ability to strike far beyond the Middle East (with a 2,000-mile range), State Department cables show.


The other cable (from Spring 2006/AR) discusses a meeting between the Connecticut Senator Lieberman and Meir Dagan, director of Mossad/Israel’s main spy agency. According to the cable, Mr. Dagan talked of Iran’s having a medium-range missile, the Shahab-3, that “can currently carry nuclear material, and reported that Iran is also trying to adapt the BM-25 missile, which already has a longer range, for this purpose.” (Source WikiLeaks/NYT). For Israel, the introduction of the BM-25 would have relatively modest impact on its strategic calculation, since Iran already has the ability to strike Israeli cities with ballistic missiles, but it would allow Iran to disperse its launchers over a much larger area in the eastern part of the country.

BM-25, unveiled in a North Korean military parade

However the core question related to Iran’s ability to defend herself against Israeli airstrike is the Russian-Iran deal of S-300 anti-aircraft missile system that scares every Western air force with range of 200 km. To wait if U.S.’s “Reset” strategy will work, Russia has put missile deal on hold. The S-300s changes Iran’s nuclear gambit as without them airstrike against Iran is still possible option, with S-300s the risk might be too high. Also Iran has designed and tested successfully an air defence system that has the same capability as the Russian-made S-300 missile system. Iran claims that they have developed the system by upgrading systems like S-200 and we tested it successfully.

Iran now self-sufficient in uranium ore

Iran has developed its defence not only against air strikes but against sanctions too. DEBKAfile‘s military and intelligence sources disclose that despite the six-day shut-down of the Natanz uranium enrichment plant from Nov. 16-22, due to an invasion by the Stuxnet malworm and the serious injury suffered by Prof. Fereydoun Abbasi, Director of Centrifuge Operations, the Iranian program has managed to come within touching distance of its goal: It is only 4.7 kilos short of the 28.2 kilos of 19.75 percent enriched uranium needed for going into weapons-grade production. The Iranians need no more than a few weeks, up to early February at the latest, to reach that goal. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, for his part, will have to face up to falling down completely on his solemn, oft-repeated vow to never allow the Islamic Republic acquire nuclear arms. When the uranium powder can be used for making homemade rods – both to fuel nuclear reactor cores and produce plutonium, the alternative to enriched uranium for weapons-grade fuel. Conclusion: Iran no longer depends on imported materials to move forward at speed toward an N-bomb on both self-sufficient tracks –unhindered by sanctions. (Source: DEBKAfile )

Regional view

King Abdullah describes a conversation he had with with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, on the issue of Iran’s “interference in Arab affairs.” Abdullah challenges Mottaki on Iranian meddling in Palestinian politics and support for Hamas. “These are Muslims,” he quotes Mottaki as responding. “No, Arabs,” countered Abdullah, before adding, “You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters.” quote the Saudi king’s assertion of Iranian aid to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. So the leaked cables provide added and deepened color to an already existing picture of regional cold war.(Source: Jerusalem Post/WikiLeaks)

Hamas government’s deputy foreign minister Dr. Ahmed Yousef is actively campaigning for the Gaza regime to form a strategic partnership with Iran on the same lines as the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah alliance. He also invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Gaza. Close ties between Gaza and Tehran will bolster the Palestinian extremists’ military and intelligence ties with Damascus and Hizballah. This will in turn boost the bloc led by Iran and Syria and add to its leverage for derailing any fence-building moves between the feuding Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and perpetuate the division between the two Palestinian entities – one in Gaza and the other on the West Bank. This stronger alliance may also threaten the stability of Jordan, where already Hamas-Damascus controls the local Muslim Brotherhood branch.

The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai Al-Aam reported on Wednesday that the Shi’ite organization has completed its preparations for a war against Israel, including the construction of an extensive network of tunnels throughout the whole of Lebanon. According to the report, Hezbollah has completed equipping its arsenal of missiles and weapons and finished building its defensive network against a possible Israeli attack. Likewise, Hamas has reportedly dug tunnels between Rafah and Gaza City of a similar nature to the Hezbollah tunnels. The network stretches from the length of the Lebanon’s coast to the country’s mountainous eastern region.

Egypt’s intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, in a meeting with Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, is more explicit regarding Egyptian efforts to counter Iranian subversion. Suleiman noted that Iran is “very active” in Egypt and that it is granting $25 million per month to Hamas and reports Iranian efforts to recruit among Sinai Beduin.

The WikiLeaks cable, written on April 16, 2008, by Michele Sison, the U.S. embassy’s charge d’affaires in Beirut, was based on a meeting she had with Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh. She wrote that Hamadeh, who had requested “a special meeting,” had opened it by declaring, “Iran Telecom is taking over the country!” Hamadeh said the importance of the move for Hizbullah was that it was “the final step in creating a nation state. Hizbullah now has an army and weapons; a television station; an education system; hospitals; social services; a financial system; and a telecommunications system.”Hamadeh accused the “Iranian Fund for the Reconstruction of Lebanon” of funding the network. This group, according to the cable, has been rebuilding roads and bridges since the 2006 Second Lebanon War and has previously been accused of installing telecommunication lines in parallel with new roads. (WikiLeaks )

Bottom line

It’s understandable that Iran has some doubts about U.S. intentions. U.S. has strengthened its forces near Iranian shores with three aircraft carriers, four nuclear submarines and marine assault units. Earlier the influential Senator Lindsey Graham (R. South Carolina), member of the Armed Services and Homeland Defense committees, said: “The US should consider sinking the Iranian navy, destroying its air force and delivering a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guards.”As part of this strategy, two weeks ago, the White House requested the heads of NATO to draw up operational plans for attacking Iran’s nuclear and military facilities.

With Iran’s nuke there is now more at stake than ever before: Iran is more resistant against sanctions, it has more developed anti-aircraft missile system and its ability to attack/respond is higher. On the other side international community may be slightly more unit by demanding that Iran limits its nuclear programme for peaceful purposes only. Pre-emptive punitive nuclear attack against Iran is however still possible so let’s hope that negotiations in Geneva will give some positive alternative to military option.

Warometer

Related article:


Time-Out for Israeli-Palestinian talks

December 1, 2010

A lot of optimism related to the Israeli-Palestinian talks begins to wane. Before last elections USA tried corrupt Israel with offer, which content has different versions, for freezing settlement construction in West Bank and Jerusalem in return. The offer did not succeed thus, the U.S., Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have quietly agreed about time-out and talks will resume in January, 2011.

The time is used first to replace earlier mediator George Mitchell, whom Obama fired, with next high level envoy or even with Mrs Clinton. Second, the time-out is necessary for Palestinians to continue reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah which began last month in Damascus under the Syrian aegis and which can lead an unite Hamas/Fatah delegation representing the Palestinian Authority in January 2011. Third informal negotiations between Hamas and Israel brokered by Germany may continue.

Current publications of new Wikileaks documents are giving some interesting details about cooperation in Middle East. Released documents are indicating that the Government of Israel had consulted with Egypt and Fatah prior to Operation Cast Lead, asking if they were willing to assume control of Gaza once Israel defeated Hamas. Describing is also an Israeli opinion about Palestinian Authority that “only Israeli military operations against Hamas in the West Bank prevent them from expanding control beyond Gaza, without which Fatah would fall.”


The two-state roadmap is expired


Obama’s plan on the table, according informal sources, is providing from base of of the old two-state solution only less than 5% of the West Bank to Israel. This would mean that tens of settlements and two towns should be evacuated, and this Israel hardly would be able to swallow. One should remember that from the 1967 borders it is less than ten kilometers of air travel to Ben Gurion airport and a mere twenty kilometers to Tel Aviv with a Qassam so for security reasons old borders can be seen too hazardous.

Land swaps?

In the past swaps of land has be considered as part of a peace agreement and two-state solution. In theory a land colonized by Jewish settlements could be swapt for land that’s sparsely populated, like the Negev for example.


However there is a newer idea that Israel compensate the Palestinians with land occupied by Israeli Arabs. The Lieberman Plan, proposed May, 2004, also known in Israel as the “Populated-Area Exchange Plan”, was proposed by Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the Israeli political party Yisrael Beiteinu. The Lieberman Plan only advocates ceding the Triangle Arab communities, the ethnic Druze community, which is pro-Israel, would also remain part of Israel. “Israeli Arabs will not lose anything by joining the Palestinian state. Instead of giving the Palestinians empty land in the Negev, we are offering them land full of residents, who will not have to leave their homes,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon in an interview to London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper published in early February.

Some 46% of the Israeli’s Arabs (622,400 people) live in predominantly-Arab communities in in Israel’s Northern District. According recent surveys among Israeli’s Arabs 83 percent of respondents opposed the idea of transferring their city to Palestinian jurisdiction. I believe that most Israeli Arabs object to trading Israeli citizenship for Palestinian citizenship. However the position would be entirely different if the West Bank was divided between Jordan and Israel – two sovereign countries already possessing a peace agreement that has proved its resilience for the last 12 years.


Are outsiders the obstacle for peace?

“Palestine is Jordan and Jordan is Palestine; there is one people and one land, with one history and one and the same fate.” (Prince Hassan, brother of King Hussein)

The three-state solution essentially replicates the situation that existed between the 1949 Armistice Agreements and the 1967 Six-Day War. Beginning in 1949, Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip, Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and no Palestinian Arab state existed. In 1950, Jordan officially annexed the West Bank and granted the Arab residents Jordanian citizenship.

My solutions have for years been an agreed or forced population transfers (see, for example, “Gaza War – Could Balkan history show the Way Out?”) and replacement of two-state model with three-state solution (“The Three-State Option Could Solve Gaza conflict”). Immoral, contrary to speeches, etc I admit, however this pragmatic approach might work on the ground. In my opinion three-state solution could also make border changes easier e.g. implementing land swaps mentioned above.

Why, then, exploring these models is so difficult. I think U.S. Republican Senator Sam Brownback may have hit the nail on the head by stating

…the obstacle to pursuing such a plan (3-state plan/AR) comes not from the Palestinians, the Egyptians or the Jordanians, but from our own foreign policy establishment, which has sunk enormous resources into the two-state plan and hesitates to walk away. But the cause of peace requires an honest assessment of what has worked and what has not. The time has come to cut our losses on a failed experiment and pursue regional solutions that will lead to peace and prosperity in a troubled region.”

From point of view of (Western) international community, the situation is somewhat similar to the previous Balkan wars and their solutions – billions of bucks (some 20 billion US Dollars over the last 15 years from international donors for West Bank and Gaza) and a lot of prestige has been squandered to hastily made early solutions and despite this

it has been almost impossible to trace any positive impact of these mobilized resources on the ground”

I hope that time-out will be used for replacing the dead roadmap with pragmatic alternatives which may be found at regional level and the role of outsiders should be reduced to facilitating the outcome whatever it will be.

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