All posts by Press TV

South African Dockworkers Refuse to Unload Israeli Ship in Solidarity with Palestinians

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

A member of the South African Student Congress (SASCO) holds a poster reflecting the face of the late Palestinian political leader, Yasser Arafat, during their protest in solidarity with Palestine outside the Israeli embassy in Pretoria on May 20, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Dockworkers in the South African port city of Durban have refused to offload cargo from an Israeli ship in a show of solidarity with Palestinians, and in protest at Tel Aviv’s military aggression against the besieged Gaza Strip.

The South African Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Coalition announced on Friday that the dockworkers with the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) will not discharge the cargo belonging to Israel’s Zim Integrated Shipping, following a call from the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions.

Also on Friday, the South African BDS Coalition and its partners, among them SATAWU, will stage a rally in Durban to celebrate the stalling of the Israeli vessel, the movement said.

They will also demand that the South African government-owned Transnet port company stop transportation of goods to or from the Israeli-occupied territories through South African ports.

“We do not want Israeli ships or goods in South African ports and shops,” Roshan Dadoo, a member of the South African BDS Coalition, told London-based Middle East Eye online news outlet.

She added, “We salute our dockworkers and will continue to work in struggle with them to ensure that South Africa becomes an ‘apartheid free zone’.”

Dadoo said the coalition hopes that the South African government “takes their lead from the dockworkers and immediately cuts all ties – trade, diplomatic, cultural, academic and sport – with the oppressive Israeli regime.”

The development comes just days after dockworkers in the Italian city of Livorno refused to load an arms shipment onto the Asiatic Island, another ship belonging to the Israeli company Zim.

The L’Unione Sindacale di Base (USB) trade union said in a statement that the port would not be an accomplice in the massacre of Palestinians as the cargo contained weapons and explosives that could be used to kill the Palestinian population.

A ceasefire came into force in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Friday morning after Egypt brokered an agreement between Israel and Palestinian resistance groups to halt 11 days of conflict.

At least 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, were killed in the Israeli bombardment of the densely populated coastal enclave.

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa has come under pressure to cut all ties with Israel following the latest Israeli aggression against Gaza.

Ramaphosa said on Monday that “we stand with the Palestinian people in their quest for self-determination, but also in their resistance against the deprivation of their human rights and the denial of their dignity,”

He noted that the sight of a group of Palestinian families forced out from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds to make way for Israeli settlements reminded him of what happened to millions of South Africans, including his own family, during the apartheid era.

“It was a pain and humiliation faced by my own family, and by many South African families. My family was forcibly moved to different parts of the country on two occasions,” Ramaphosa stated.

He said being forced from one’s home at gunpoint is a trauma not easily forgotten, which is carried across generations.

The post South African Dockworkers Refuse to Unload Israeli Ship in Solidarity with Palestinians first appeared on Dissident Voice.

European Parliament Passes Resolution Blasting Bahrain for Flagrant Rights Abuses

The European Parliament has overwhelmingly adopted a resolution, urging Bahrain to stop its blatant and deadly violations of the country’s human rights campaigners and prisoners of conscience. The legislative body passed the resolution on Thursday, with 633 votes in favor, 11 against, and 45 abstentions.

The post European Parliament Passes Resolution Blasting Bahrain for Flagrant Rights Abuses first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Blood Gold

Background

The Middle East Eye reports there are no gold mines under Dubai’s sands with artisanal miners or children toiling away trying to strike gold. But there is the Dubai Gold Souk and refineries that vie with the largest global operations as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) strives to expand its position as a major gold hub.

In recent years, the UAE, with Dubai in particular, has established itself as one of the largest and fastest-growing marketplaces for the precious metal, with imports rising by 58 percent per annum to more than $27bn in 2018, according to data collated by the Observatory for Economic Complexity.

With no local gold to tap, unlike neighboring Saudi Arabia, the UAE has to import gold from wherever it can, whether it be legitimately, smuggled with no questions asked, sourced from conflict zones, or linked to organized crime.

Blood gold

The Sentry’s investigation (Sentry Investigations specialize in private and corporate investigations in the UK) found that 95 percent of gold officially exported from Central and East Africa, much of it mined in Sudan, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, ends up in the Emirates.

Gold has become so important to Dubai’s economy that it is the emirate’s highest value external trade item, ahead of mobile phones, jeweler, petroleum products and diamonds, according to Dubai Customs.

And it is the UAE’s largest export after oil, exporting $17.7bn in 2019. Gold’s importance has only increased as Dubai’s oil reserves have dwindled and the UAE has tried to diversify its economy.

The Swiss connection

Dubai is not the only gold player with dirt, and even blood, on its hands.

“It is not just Dubai, it’s also Switzerland. The Swiss get large quantities of gold from Dubai. The Swiss say they are not getting gold from certain countries [connected to conflict gold], but instead from Dubai, yet the gold in Dubai is coming from these countries. Dubai is complicit, but Swiss hands are equally dirty as they can’t cut Dubai from the market,” said Lakshmi Kumar, policy director, at Global Financial Integrity (GFI) in Washington DC.

Switzerland is the world’s largest refiner, while [more than half] of all gold goes through the country at some point, according to anti-corruption group Global Witness. Switzerland’s trade is tied to the UK, which imports around a third of all gold.

*****

PressTV: Gold has become such an important commodity for the UAE, that it is the largest export after oil, exporting $17.7bn in 2019. But there is the other side to this story. A report by the UK’s Home Office and Treasury earlier in December also named the UAE as a jurisdiction vulnerable to money laundering by criminal networks because of the ease with which gold and cash could be moved through the country. Is this the case?

Peter Koenig:  First, International Gold Laundering is a gigantic Human Rights abuse, foremost because laundered gold stems from many countries in Africa and South America where massive child labor is practiced. Children not only are put at tremendous risk working in the mines, in narrow rickety underground tunnels that could collapse any time, and often do, but they are also poisoned on a daily basis by chemicals used in extracting gold ore from the rock, notably cyanide and mercury and others.

Second, Gold laundering is an international crime, because it illegal and it is mostly run by mafia type organizations – where killing and other type of violence, plus sexual abuse of women – forced prostitution – is a daily occurrence.

There should be an international law – enforceable – issued by the UN and enforced by the International Criminal Court against anything to do with gold laundering. Infractions should be punished, and countries involved in gold laundering should be held responsible – put on a black list for illegal financial transactions and for facilitating human rights abuses.

The United Arab Emirates has no gold, so all of the $17.7 billion of their gold exports is being imported and “washed” by re-exporting it mainly through the UK into Switzerland and other gold refining places, like India. With a worldwide production of about 3,500 tons, there are times when Switzerland imports more gold than the annual world production, most of it coming from the UK, for further refining or re-refining, for “better or double laundering”, erasing the gold’s origins.

From the refinery in Switzerland, it goes mostly into the banking system or is re-exported as “clean” gold coming from Switzerland, and its origins are no longer traceable.

Worldwide about 70% of all gold is refined in Switzerland.

Gold mine production totaled 3,531 tons in 2019, 1% lower than in 2018. About 70% of all gold, worldwide, is refined in Switzerland. So, it is very likely that the UK, receiving gold from United Arab Emirates, re-exports the gold to Switzerland, for re-refining, for further export to, for example, India. Coming from Switzerland it has the “label” of being clean. How long will this reputation still last?

Metalor is the world’s largest gold refinery, established in Switzerland. And they are absolutely secretive, do not say where they buy their gold from, because the Swiss Government does not require the origin when gold enters Switzerland.

Once it is refined the origin can no longer be determined because gold does not have a DNA.

PressTV:  The Sentry’s investigation found that 95 percent of gold officially exported from Central and East Africa, much of it mined in Sudan, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, ends up in the emirate, through what’s known as blood gold:  gold obtained through brutal mining practices and illicit profits, including the use of children.  How do you see this?

PK:  Yes, this is absolutely true.

As mentioned already before, much of the gold from Africa/Central Africa, Ghana and South America, notably Peru, is blood gold. Of course, it passes through many hands before it lands in a refinery in the UK, Switzerland or elsewhere, and therefore is almost untraceable.

But, the company that buys the gold, like Metalor, they know exactly where the gold is coming from, but, as mentioned before, since the Swiss government does not require the importing company to divulge the origin of the gold  the human rights abuses will never come to light, or better – to justice.

It is estimated that up to 30% of all gold refined in Switzerland is considered blood gold. Imagine the suffering, disease, and even deathm  or delayed death, through slow reacting chemicals like cyanite and mercury.

However, if there is no international law – a law that is enforced, that puts the criminals to justice – and put countries that facilitate gold laundering on an international list for the world to see and hold them accountable with, for example, financial sanctions, little will change.

The post Blood Gold first appeared on Dissident Voice.

China’s Reaction to a US Unannounced Visit to Taiwan

PressTV Interview – expanded transcript

Background

China has reacted strongly to a senior U-S official’s unannounced visit to Taiwan, warning that it will take legitimate and necessary action according to circumstances.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman reiterated Beijing’s firm opposition to any official ties between Taiwan and the US. The reaction came after the media cited sources, including a Taiwanese official, as saying that U-S Navy’s Rear-Admiral Michael Studeman was on a trip to the self-ruled island. He’s the director of an agency which oversees intelligence at the U-S military’s Indo-Pacific Command. The administration of U-S President Donald Trump has recently ramped up support for Taiwan, including with the approval of new arms sales and high-level visits. Beijing has long warned against such moves. China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and maintains its sovereignty over the region under the One-China policy.

*****

PressTV: What is your overall take on this latest US aggression against China?

Peter Koenig:  China has, of course, every right to protest against any visit and any US intervention in Taiwan, be it weapons sales, or provoking conflict over Taiwan self-declared “sovereignty” which it clearly has not, as it is but a breakaway part of Mainland China.

By and large this looks to me like one of Trump’s last Lame Duck movements to do whatever he can to ruin relations between the US and China.

In reality, it will have no impact of significance.

In fact, China’s approach to Taiwan over the past 70 years, has been one of non-aggression. With various attempts of rapprochement – which most of the times were actually disrupted by US interference – as Taiwan is used by the US, not because Washington has an interest in Taiwan’s “democracy’ – not at all – but Taiwan is a tool for Washington to seek destabilizing China, not dissimilar to what is going on in Hong Kong, or Xinjiang, the Uyghur Autonomous Region, or Tibet.

But China’s objectives are long-term and with patience – and not with force.

Just look at China’s recently signed Trade Agreement with 14 countries – the so-called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. This agreement alone is the largest in significance and volume of its kind ever signed in recent history. It covers countries with some 2.2. billion people and controlling about one third of world GDP.

And the US is not part of it.  Worse, the US-dollar is not even a trading currency.  This must upset the US particularly – especially since the 2-year trade war Trump was waging against China resulted in absolutely zilch – nothing – for the US. To the contrary, it pushed China towards more independence and away from the US.

The same applied to Chinese partners, happy to have honest trading partners, not of the western, especially the Washington-type, that dish out sanctions when they please and when they don’t like sovereign countries’ behavior.

So – no worries for China, but geopolitically, of course, they must react to such acts against international rules of diplomacy.

PressTV:  What will change under President Biden?

PK:  Most likely nothing. To the contrary, Biden’s likely Secretary of Defense, Michèle Flournoy, played an important behind the scene role in the Obama Administration. She has not changed the aggressive position of Obama’s “pivot to Asia” which essentially consisted in surrounding China with weapons systems and in particular stationing about 60% of the US navy fleet in the South China Sea.

Though at this point, it looks like China is but the target of an off-scale aggression by President Trump, in reality, China is part of a long-term policy of the US, not only to contain China, but to dominate China.

As we see, though, to no avail.

Interestingly, China does not respond with counter-aggression. Instead she moves steadily forward with new creations, towards an objective that does not seek domination, but a multi-polar, multi-connected world, via, for example, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – not the type of globalization that especially the Biden camp – along with the corporatocracy behind the World Economic Forum (WEF) is seeking.

The US empire is on the decline and China, of course, is aware of it. Washington may be lashing around in its deteriorating times to create as much damage as possible and to bring down as many nations as they can. Case in point is the constant aggression, sanctions and punishment against Iran and Venezuela – but here too, these two countries are moving gradually away from the west and into the peaceful orbit of China – pursuing after all a shared bright future for mankind.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.  Peter is also co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020)  He is also a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

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Yemen: Prisoner Swap and What May be Behind It

Transcript of an Interview with Press TV

Background

The fourth batch of Yemeni detainees has arrived in Sana’a as part of the largest prisoner swap between the country’s warring sides. The residents in the capital received 112 prisoners after their plane landed in the Sana’a international airport. 1,081 men will be released in two days.

A two-day prisoner swap between Yemen’s warring sides is underway. The move is part of a deal reached last month in Switzerland. Here is a report:

Yemen’s warring sides are exchanging detainees in the largest prisoner swap between the Ansarullah movement and the Saudi-backed former regime. One-thousand eighty-one men will be freed in a two-day swap.

Hussein al-Bukhaiti – Political Commentator

The exchange was agreed last month after a week of negotiations in Switzerland. The prisoner swap is being overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross.  Analysts believe the exchange is a victory for Yemen’s Ansarullah movement.

Naseh Shaker – Political Analyst

Ansarullah Spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam says the swap brings hope for peace-building. The United Nations special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, also hailed the success of the operation.

“Today’s release operation, led by the I-C-R-C, is another sign that peaceful dialogue can deliver. I hope the parties will soon reconvene under UN auspices to discuss the release of all conflict-related prisoners and detainees.” — PP Martin Griffiths, UN special envoy for Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in order to bring former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power.

But the campaign that was supposed to last only a few months is raging on more than five years later now. The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has killed more than 100-thousand people, mostly civilians.

Saudi Arabia’s US-backed deadly war and an all-out blockade against Yemen, in tandem with outbreaks of cholera and now the covid-19 pandemic, have left some 24 million Yemenis, or 80% of the population, in need of aid. 20 million Yemenis also lack sufficient food supplies and access to clean water.

Riyadh has so far turned a deaf ear to all humanitarian pleas to stop the war. Yemenis say today’s prisoner swap is an important step, but what is necessary as a prelude to stop the conflict is an end to Saudi Arabia’s aggression and blockade.

*****

PressTV: Tell me the significance of this prisoner swap.

Peter Koenig:  A prisoner swap is always a positive sign.  It could be a first step to a cease fire and leading hopefully to peace negotiations.

At the outset, yes, it may look like a victory, perhaps rather a “first step” towards peace, because victory is saying a lot, of the Yemen’s Ansarullah movement, actually for better understanding it is the Houthi Shia’ movement.

All depends on what the Saudis will do next.  If they get instructions from the US and the UK and other European allies, like France to halt the bombing, then we may be able to talk about an interim success.

The Saudis will do what their western Masters tell them to do.  The Saudis have been mostly a proxy for the US and UK. If you look at the map, you see how strategically located Yemen is… and Yemen in control of a left-leaning government, a government that supports the people, supports a move towards democracy, is not what the west wants.

However, the US has already reached a little talked-about target; namely, to set up via the UAE (United Arab Emirates) a military base on Socotra, a beautiful island with some 60,000 inhabitants off the Yemeni Coast, off Aden, in the Gulf of Aden.

On 8 September 2020, politicians in Aden reported that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has begun building two military camps on Yemen’s Socotra island. In this case it is the UAE building the military camps, what will eventually become a military base, to which the US and western allies will have access.

The UAE were supporting Saudi Arabia in the fight against the Yemeni Houthis, who were and are fighting for their freedom, autonomy and democracy. The UAE was instrumental in blocking the port of Hudaydah so that no food and vital medicine could enter Yemen. The UAE – close ally to the western powers – is co-responsible for famine, disease – foremost cholera – and death of tens of thousands of children.

So, perhaps UAE military bases on Socotra island, to which the west; i.e., NATO, will have free access, may have been a “chip” in the negotiations for the prisoner exchange. This is, of course, speculation, but it would make geopolitical sense.

PressTV: How significant do you think this exchange is where initially the Saudi regime thought that its war on Yemen would only take a month and now more than five-and-a-half years later, Riyadh has had to agree to negotiate with AnsaraAllah?

PK: What we don’t know is what went on behind closed doors.  I understand negotiations on Socotra started already in 2016… That would be one explanation. Another one, more straightforward, is the Irani support the Houthis received.

It wasn’t or isn’t direct weapons support, but military advice and technical support, so that the Yemeni Houthis are able to build their own military precision weapons, like rockets, missiles and drones, and are able to hit with drone guided missiles anywhere in Saudi Arabia, as we have seen when Yemeni missiles destroyed a Saudi pipeline last year.  Therefore the Saudi bombing had to go on with, of course, weapons – bombs and missiles – supplied by the US, UK, and France.  A financial bonanza for the western weapons industry. War is a very profitable business.

PressTV: The talks leading up to this swap agreement were held in Switzerland. Do you think the so-called international community can play a more active role in trying to bring this war to an end?

PK: The talks were hosted by the International Red Cross (ICRC). That’s why they were taking place in Switzerland.  Yes, I believe the international community should play a much more active role when PEACE is at stake – anywhere in a conflict zone around the world.  Unfortunately, those who have a political weight in the international community are also those who have a vested interest in wars and conflicts – not only weapons sales, also moving a step or two closer to controlling the energy-and other resources-rich Middle East.

PressTV:  Why has Saudi Arabia not been condemned for its blockade on Yemen which is preventing foodstuffs and even medicine from entering the country?

PK:They have been condemned, but not with much noise and only with tiny voices, to no avail, because they got the support from the US, UK, France and Germany. Yes, Russia and China have voiced their opposition to the Saudi/US/UK war on Yemen. But their voices were silenced by the western-bought and oriented media.

We are living in a dystopian world, where rights and international laws do no longer count.  Breaking international laws is the new normal. And the public at large is so used to it, it doesn’t even react.

Laws and international rules are made up by the western powers as they go along in the process of trying to conquer the world.

Fortunately, we have Russia and China as permanent members in the UN Security Council. Although, the UNSC has not been able to achieve Peace in Yemen – nor in Palestine, for that matter – it is at least a forum which the media cannot simply ignore. And little by little people will recognize who is behind all these conflicts and vested interests.

In the long-run, western powers for absolute dominance will not succeed.  It’s not in the laws of nature.

PressTV:  The Saudis are well equipped with sophisticated equipment and weapons which they buy from London and Washington despite their many human rights violations in this war. Shouldn’t these two countries be held partially responsible for the death and destruction which has been taking place inside of Yemen?

PK:  Absolutely. Of course,  they should.  They are not only behind the war in Yemen, but they are involved in all the Middle Eastern conflicts — Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, now Lebanon – wherever you look it’s the bloody fingerprints of the west, and often Israel acts as a proxy for Washington – almost all conflicts are started by the US, NATO and its European allies.  And not to forget, by western funding of terrorism.

PressTV: We have seen a big difference between the Yemeni fighters during the first year of war until now. It is no longer rare now that the Houthis are able to attack the Saudis. Does this help in being able to negotiate, even in being able to have a prisoner swap?

PK:  Yes, probably. The fact is that the Houthis have become much stronger in the past five years of war – which the Saudis started in March 2015, when in the US the Obama Administration was still in power.

The Houthis have made technological advances in building their own drones, missiles, and rockets. They have shown the Saudis that they have the precision and capacity to attack Saudi Arabian targets practically anywhere in the Saudi territory. This is impressive and surely may have had a crucial influence in this first step of a prisoner exchange; first step to what I hope will be a much more important goal – Peace.

PressTV:  Is the lesson learned here that in order to have effective political negotiations, that an entity needs to be strong militarily?

PK: In general, it helps.  We have seen other examples throughout the world, not least North Vietnam won the war against the South which was basically the US Army, because the North Vietnamese were well equipped and were strategic thinkers. They gained the upper hand – to eventually prompt the US to leave.

So, yes, military strength helps definitely in defining the term to the war or peace process. In this case the AnsaraAllah movement, alias the Houthis military strength and strategic thinking has certainly played a role – reaching the point where they are now possibly a step away from a Peace Process.

PressTV: Where do you see the situation in Yemen going?

PK:   I am optimistic, hoping that the ICRC will involve the UN Security Council in calling for a Cease Fire and Peace Talks. The suffering of a poverty-stricken population without the war has become atrocious with the war, especially affecting children. The Saudis, helped by the UAE and, of course, supported by western powers, have literally committed genocide by depriving the population of vital food and medication imports, causing famine and famine-related diseases,  and countless death.

PressTV:  Do you think the Saudi regime, basically Muhammad bin Salman, is getting to the point that he is ready to negotiate with AnsaraAllah?

PK:  Yes, I do hope so. It may not be an easy negotiation, because a “loser” can never admit losing. But I do hope under the guidance of the UN Security Council and the strong presence of Russia and China in the UNSC, negotiations for PEACE may emerge – and that Peace may bring restoration to this devastated country.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the ResistanceHe is also a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

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Threats of Attacks against Civilians in Syria

On Thursday, Sept. 24, Rick Sterling, investigative journalist and member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, spoke with Press TV about a threat of terror attacks, including chemical weapons, on Syrian civilians in Idlib.

Syrian authorities have alerted that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and the UK-US funded ‘White Helmets’, in coordination with Turkish/NATO intelligence, have brought two tones of chemicals to towns south of #Idlib City, as part of a plan to carry out attacks on civilians and then blame them on the Syrian Government.

Watch the video below:

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Iran: US Sanctions Unilateralism

PressTV Interview – slightly enhanced transcript

Background

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has slammed U-S sanctions against his country, saying they are a flagrant violation of the UN charter.  In an address to the UN General Assembly, Rouhani said the Iranian nation successfully withstood the U-S maximum pressure campaign. He added, Iran even flourished under the bans while pursuing its role as a pivot of peace and stability. He pointed to some of Iran’s peace efforts in the region and beyond, including combating the Daesh terrorist group, saying such a nation does not deserve sanctions. Rouhani said the U-S sanctions under the pretext of nuclear proliferation are based on false and baseless accusations. The Iranian president described the UN Security Council’s rejection of US unilateralism as a victory for Iran and the world community. He said the US can impose neither negotiations nor war on Iran.

*****

PressTV:  Could you please comment on Mr. Rouhani’s remarks?

Peter Koenig:  First, Mr. Rouhani is absolutely right. Iran, together with Russia and Hezbollah, played a crucial role in the Middle East Peace process, especially in Syria. And, of course, Iran does not deserve any sanctions, not just because Iran is a peaceful nation and even helps brokering peace with and between other nations, but also because Iran did not violate any of the conditions under the Nuclear Accord or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed under President Obama’s watch on 14 July 2015 in Vienna.

This has been confirmed again and again by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

PTV: How come the U.S. insists on the sanctions though they’ve not caused Iran to abandon resistance against bullies?

PK: It’s largely propaganda.  In less than 45 days Mr. Trump will face re-election – or not. Being tough on Iran will impress his conservative followers, regardless whether or not these sanctions have any impact on Iran.

Americans are basically good people, but they don’t know the real background and impact of the sanctions. They know nothing – only the lies offered to them by the mainstream media.

Almost the same could be said for Europeans. Most of them know what the official mainstream media tells them.

President Trump knows, of course, that sanctioning Iran, and sanctioning everybody and every country that is still dealing and trading with Iran — like the European Union, for example — is illegal. We know. He doesn’t care.

But it must be said. The Iran Nuclear Deal had been approved by the UN Security Council and is still valid. The UN Security Council does not approve of the sanctions, nor does it approve of unilaterally abrogating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed on 14 July 2015, still during Barak Obama’s Presidency, by Iran, the US, Russia, China, UK, Germany and the EU.

Unfortunately, although the EU does not agree with the sanctions, they will most likely go along with them for fear of the US punishing European enterprises dealing with Iran. Very similar to what Washington does with European companies working on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, supposed to deliver gas from Russia to Germany and the EU.

But not to worry.  Iran doesn’t need the west anymore.

Iran does well, focusing on the East, reorienting her trade and political focus, including monetary transactions, with the east according to eastern – i.e. China and Russian systems — approaching entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

PTV: Mr. Trump said he will force renegotiation of the Nuclear Deal. What is your view on this?

PK: This will not fly, of course. And Mr. Trump knows it. But, again, it’s propaganda ahead of the November elections, and it’s part of his election campaign.

Renegotiation, once more, would require the approval of the UN Security Council, and that is highly unlikely with Russia and China – veto countries – in the UNSC.

It’s sheer blustering Trump talk.

PTV:  Why does the U.S. make claims such as being against terrorism while supporting them and putting the blame on other countries like Iran?

PK: Washington never follows logic. Until not too long again this preposterous approach worked with many countries. The world listened. And many believed it.   But no more.  It is every day clearer that the only rogue Nation in the World – the only Nation that sponsors terrorism — is the United States.

And why are they still doing it and blaming Iran?  Still propaganda – make believe – that The US is still the strongest country in the world, the one that calls the shots on every event on the globe.

But no more and Mr. Trump and his government are aware that the US empire is on a declining branch.

But as with every dying empire, they will not give up until the end.

The EU better wake up before the end, before being pulled down into the abyss.

Iran has a bright future ahead with her orientation towards the East, China and Russia.

• Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

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UN official Expects More Allegations about Khashoggi-style Murders by Saudis

The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings says she expects more allegations to surface about Khashoggi-style murders by Saudi death squads.

Agnes Callamard was reacting to a Washington Post article that detailed a lawsuit filed in the US by Saad al-Jabri, a former Saudi spy. The plaintiff said, a hit squad was sent to Canada where he lives in exile, to kill and dismember him the same way dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. Callamard agreed with the conclusion of the article that if the allegations are proven, it will reinforce the notion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman commands death squads and evades accountability for the murders.