Connect with us

News

Iran Strikes Back at US Military With Operation Martyr Soleimani

Iran appears to have drawn a line in the sand, offering Trump the opportunity to de-escalate tensions.

Emma Fiala

Published

on

Iran Strikes Back

(TMU) — In an operation called Martyr Soleimani, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) targeted at least two United States airbases in Iraq Tuesday night with ballistic missiles in retaliation to the assassination of Iran’s second most powerful official, General Qasem Soleimani.

The primary target appears to have been the Ayn al-Asad airbase.

Video released to Iranian media purportedly showing the strikes appeared on social media shortly after the missiles were launched.

While the U.S. has not provided an official damage assessment, preliminary reports suggest there are no American casualties. The Iraqis, the Canadians, and the Norwegians also say they have suffered no casualties.

However, Iranian state media is claiming to have killed 80 U.S. troops in the missile strikes.

A non-existent or low casualty count on the part of the U.S. military may indicate that the retaliatory attacks were carefully calculated by Iran to avoid deaths, offering the Trump administration the opportunity to de-escalate tensions rather than retaliate.

Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, tweeted Tuesday night that Iran was acting in self defense as a result of Soleimani’s death, under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, rather than throwing the first punch in a new hot war. Article 51 reads:

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

In the tweet, Zarif clarified that Iran does “not seek escalation or war.”

In the midst of the attack, the Pentagon released the following statement:

Statement from Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Jonathan Hoffman

At approximately 5:30 p.m. (EST) on January 7, Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq. It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al-Assad and Irbil.

We are working on initial battle damage assessments.

In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces and interests in the region.

As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region.

Due to the dynamic nature of the situation, we will continue to provide updates as they become available.

According to al Arabiya, the IRGC is uging Washington to recall its troops from Iraq “in order to avoid further losses and not to allow the lives of their soldiers to be further threatened by the ever-growing hatred” of the U.S.

The statement also warned that “U.S. allies providing base” for the U.S. military or “serving as the origin” of attacks against Iran “will be targeted.” It is no secret that U.S. allies in the region are both Israel and Saudi Arabia, who have their own tumultuous relationships with Iran.

Iranian state TV quoted an unnamed commander as saying:

“The missile attacks today were just the first step, [Trump] should think about withdrawing troops from the region and not to leave them within our reach.”

All of this comes only days after the Iraqi Parliament voted to expel all U.S. troops from the country.

On Sunday, Iran said it would no longer fully abide by the limits of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—also known as the Iran nuclear deal—and will instead “go on solely according to the country’s technical needs.”

Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, took to Twitter to advise both sides “slow down,” reassess, and communicate.

It appears this is precisely what both sides are doing—at least for the time being. It was widely reported that U.S. President Donald Trump would address the nation following the attacks in Iraq, however Stephanie Grisham, White House Press Secretary, revealed this would not be the case.

Instead, after the attacks concluded, Trump took to Twitter to uncharacteristically post only one tweet. In it he reassured the American people that “All is well!” 

Iran appears to have drawn a line in the sand, with multiple officials repeating that the country was merely defending itself, in accordance with the UN Charter, against the U.S. assassination of Soleimani.

If the United States decides to engage further, Iran will respond in kind.

The IRGC said in their statement:

“We warn the Great Satan, the bloodthirsty and arrogant regime of the U.S., that any new wicked act or more moves and aggressions (against Iran) will bring about more painful and crushing responses.”

“In conformity with international law and in exercising its inherent right to self-defense, Iran will take all necessary and proportionate measures against any threat or use of force,” Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi said in his letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres underlining Iran’s right to self-defense.

The following is the full text of Ravanchi’s letter:

“Pursuant to my letter dated 3 January 2020 regarding the terrorist attack by the armed forces of the United States of America against Martyr Major General Qassem Soleimani, the Commander of the Qods Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his companions on January 3, 2020 at the Baghdad International Airport, I am writing to draw your kind attention to yet another provocative statement by the United States threatening to use further force against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

On January 3, 2020 and almost immediately after the terrorist attack, the President of the United States threatened Iran “in particular”, stating, “We have all of those targets already fully identified, and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary”.

On January 4, 2020, the President of the United States once again threatened to “hit very fast and very hard” “52 Iranian sites”, including some very important to “the Iranian culture”.

After a few hours on the same day, he threatened Iran again by stating, “We will hit them harder than they have ever been hit before”.

On January 5, 2020, when faced with the criticism that targeting Iran’s cultural sites would be considered a war crime under international law, he asserted anew that, “We’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way”.

On the same day, he yet again brazenly threatened that “the United States will quickly [and] fully strike” Iran “in a disproportionate manner”.

Overall, only in three days, the President of the United States, through extremely provocative and harsh statements, has threatened five times to use force against a founding member of the United Nations.

Publicly repeating such provocative statements and unlawful threats are without a doubt a clear call for lawlessness, chaos, and disorder at the international level, particularly with respect to a highly important common good such as peace and security.

Such unbridled threats by the President of the United States indisputably constitute a gross violation of the peremptory norms of international law as well as the very fundamental principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, particularly its Article 2(4) that clearly prohibits the threat or use of force.

Given the confrontational nature of these inflammatory statements and threats, as well as the broad and adverse ramifications of the military adventurism of the United States on regional and international peace and security, it is crystal clear that this country bears the full responsibility for all consequences.

It is also evident that the threat to target Iranian cultural sites is certainly a flagrant violation of the basic norms and principles of international law, and any attack against such sites would be a war crime. Additionally, it should be born in mind that “damage to cultural property belonging to any people whatsoever means damage to the cultural heritage of all mankind”.

Recalling that the current insecurity and instability in the broader Persian Gulf region is the direct result of the unlawful invasion of Iraq by the United States in 2003 as well as its massive military presence and its “divide and rule” policy in the region, it is also worth noting that all the above said threats, including to dispatch more troops and “brand new beautiful equipment” to this already volatile region, would indeed further complicate the current tense situation.

I must also stress that the aforementioned statements and actions are only the tip of a submerged iceberg of hostile policies and unlawful practices, as well as the threats and plots of the United States against Iran over the past 40 years.

While the Islamic Republic of Iran does not seek war, it seriously warns against any further military adventurism against it. Iran is determined to continue to strongly protect its people, to vigorously defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity and to fully secure its national interests.

Accordingly, in conformity with international law and in exercising its inherent right to self-defense, Iran will take all necessary and proportionate measures against any threat or use of force.

This is in accordance with its inherent right under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, and Iran will not hesitate to exercise it when required.

The irresponsible policies and unlawful practices of the United States continue to not only endanger the very foundations of international law and order but also pose a real threat to international peace and security.

The international community should not condone or tolerate this situation and must demand that the United States put an end to its continued unlawful and destabilizing measures in such a volatile region as the Middle East, particularly by withdrawing all its forces from the region.

Likewise, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) must condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the unlawful threats and unfettered policies of the United States as well as hold it accountable for all of its wrongful acts and unlawful practices while compelling it to abide by the principles and rules of international law.

I should be grateful if you would have the present letter circulated as a document of the Security Council.”

On Wednesday, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, briefly referenced the attack, saying:

“We just gave them a slap in the face last night/ Retaliation, these military actions, do not compensate for the issue. What is important is the ending of American presence.”

Anti-war activists in the United States were quick to mobilize an emergency response in hopes of quelling any chance of escalation, while demanding U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq.

Stephen Miles, Executive Director of anti-war group Win Without War, said in a statement:

“We urge all parties—Iran and the United States—to immediately halt all military action and reject an unnecessary and costly war of choice. We condemn in the strongest possible terms military escalation by both the Iranian and U.S. militaries.”

Miles also said the “time for de-escalation is now.”

Emergency actions are planned for the following U.S. cities on Wednesday, January 8:

https://twitter.com/medeabenjamin/status/1214711870193582081

READ NEXT: “Iran Appears to Be Standing Down”: Trump Imposes New Sanctions, Won’t Fire “Big Missiles”

By Emma Fiala | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Like this article? Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.

Good News

“I Never Thought I’d Live to See This Day”: The Beginning of the End for Nuclear Weapons

Avatar

Published

on

Today is the day the United Nation’s Treaty on Nuclear Weapons goes into effect. It’s the long planned but seemingly impossible day millions — if not billions — of people have waited for since Hiroshima Day, August 6, 1945.

Today, the U.N. treaty declares that the manufacture, possession, use or threat to use nuclear weapons is illegal under international law, 75 years after their development and first use. Actions, events, vigils and celebrations will be held around the nation and the globe to mark this historic moment.

Even though I’ve spent most of my life working for the abolition of nuclear weapons, I never thought I’d live to see this day. The most striking test of faith came in none other than Oslo, Norway, where my friend, actor Martin Sheen, and I were invited to be the keynote speakers at the launch of something called “The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons,” or ICAN, which went on to the win the Nobel Peace Prize.

I have been arrested dozens of times for nonviolent civil disobedience actions against nuclear weapons, including at the White House, the Pentagon, several Trident submarine bases, the SAC command base near Omaha, Nebraska, the Nevada Test Site and Livermore Labs. Since 2003, I have led the annual Hiroshima Day peace vigil outside the national nuclear weapons labs in Los Alamos, New Mexico. I had been planning with friends a major anti-nuclear vigil, rally and conference near Los Alamos, New Mexico to mark the 75thanniversary of Hiroshima, but instead, we held a powerful virtual online conference seen by thousands that featured Dr. Ira Helfand, co-founder of the Nobel Prize-winning Physicians for Social Responsibility and one of the leaders of ICAN.

On Dec. 7, 1993, with Philip Berrigan and two friends, I walked on to the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina, right through the middle of national war games, up to one of the nuclear-capable F15 fighter bombers and hammered on it, to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy that some day people would “beat swords into plowshares and study war no more.” For that act, I faced 20 years in prison, was convicted on several felony counts, spent nine months in a tiny cell, several years under house arrest and continued to be heavily monitored by the government. My friends, Dan and Phil Berrigan, who launched the Plowshares movement dreamed of this day. Other friends sit in prisons across the nation today for their recent actions.

But this was something else. This was a first for me. We had been brought to Oslo by the Norwegian government. We stood before some 900 people that Saturday night, March 1, 2013, at the civic forum, which preceded the global gathering of representatives from over 132 nations. (Of course, the United States refused to attend.) The formal meeting would start Monday morning. As far as we could tell, there had never been such a conference before in history.

Martin began his talk by thanking ICAN for their work to build a global abolition movement, and encouraged everyone to keep at it. He read aloud their general call for nuclear-armed states to completely eliminate nuclear weapons—and a treaty banning any state from developing them.  

For the next 48 hours we spoke non-stop, in workshops, to the press, to small groups and large groups. We were given a private tour of the Nobel Peace Prize museum, attended a reception with the Norwegian Parliament and met many members and politicians whom we urged to carry on their initiative for the abolition of nuclear weapons, including Norway’s foreign minister, the Vice President of Parliament, and the Mayor of Oslo.

It was there at that reception that we met Dr. Ira Helfand, who told us that—for the first time in four decades—he felt hopeful about nuclear disarmament. There has never been such an important gathering in history, he said with a smile.

At one point during the ICAN conference, a teenage student asked to speak privately with me. He confided that he was one of the survivors of the massacre a year and a half before, when an insane shooter killed 78 children during their summer camp on an island in a large lake not far from Oslo. My new friend told me how he dodged the bullets and swam far out into the lake and barely survived. He wanted to talk with me about nonviolence and forgiveness. I encouraged him on his journey of healing toward a deeper peace, but was profoundly moved by his connection between the summer camp massacre and the global massacre that can be unleashed through nuclear weapons. He saw now what most people refuse to see. And he was determined to do his part to prevent a global massacre of children.

All of these experiences were so touching and inspiring, but there was something even more powerful afoot. From the moment we landed in Oslo, as we met various dignitaries and longtime anti-nuclear leaders from around the globe, we heard the same statement over and over again: We are going to abolish nuclear weapons.

After a while, Martin and I looked at one another and thought to ourselves: something’s not right with these people. Sure, we do what we can, of course, but we’re not going to live to see the abolition of nuclear weapons. Our new friends were drinking the Kool-Aid.

But we didn’t know who we were dealing with, nor did we yet understand the faith and hope that undergirds lasting global change movements. These were the same people who organized the global campaign to outlaw landmines in 1997. These were the same people who organized the global campaign to ban cluster bombs in 2008. Now, they were telling us calmly, they were setting their sights on nuclear weapons. They intended to use the same tried and true strategy to slowly plot their end. This was going to work. No doubt about it.

All we have to do is get 50 nations to sign a U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons, they said; then we can slowly chip away at every other nation in the world, until all that are left of the nine nuclear weapons nations who will eventually be shamed into dismantling their weapons and signing the United Nations’ Treaty. It was a no-brainer.

“Well, good luck with that,” we said.

And here we are. Today, the treaty goes into effect. Today is the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.

For my friends and me, this is a day we never quite believed we would see.

“Right now, the treaty does not legally apply to the United States,” said Ken Mayers of Veterans for Peace New Mexico, “because we have not signed or ratified it. But that does not mean we will not be feeling the moral force of the treaty. All nuclear weapons, including the thousands in the U.S. stockpile, have been declared unlawful by the international community.”

Mayers and others will keep vigil today near the labs in Los Alamos, New Mexico, calling for an end to weapons development. Similar vigils will be held across the United States today with banners hung outside nuclear weapons production sites declaring “Nuclear Weapons Are Illegal!”

“The treaty is a turning point,” said Joni Arends, of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. “On the one hand, it is the end of a long process to outlaw nuclear weapons. On the other hand, it is just the beginning of a new movement to confront nuclear weapons states and demand they lift the dark shadow of nuclear annihilation that has loomed over the world for the last 75 years.”

“The U.S. was among the last major countries to abolish slavery but did so in the end,” said Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “To modify Dr. King’s famous quote: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards [the] justice’ of abolishing nuclear weapons. This ban treaty is the beginning of that end and should be celebrated as such.”

Every time we have journeyed up to Los Alamos over the years, we offered the same, simple message: Nuclear weapons have totally failed us. They don’t make us safer; they can’t protest us; they don’t provide jobs; they don’t make us more secure; they’re sinful, immoral and inhuman. They bankrupt us, economically and spiritually.

According to the Doomsday Clock, we are in greater danger now than ever. A limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan is very possible; an all-out nuclear war would end life as we know it. If we spent billions instead on teaching and building nonviolent civilian-based defense systems and nonviolent conflict resolution programs around the world, to be orchestrated by the United Nations, we could make war itself obsolete.

The work of ICAN and the United Nations to get 50 nations to outlaw nuclear weapons and build a process toward their elimination is one of the most exciting, hopeful—if widely ignored—movements in the world today.

Just before Christmas, Dr. Helfand called me. He continues to work morning to night in a Massachusetts clinic treating COVID patients, but he wanted to talk about the treaty. “How can we push Americans to demand that the United States sign the treaty and dismantle our arsenal,” he asked me? “How can we mobilize the movement to make President Biden and the U.S. Congress do the right thing?”

That’s the question. We talked about various efforts we could make, and agreed to do what we could. “The responsibility lies with us,” he said. “We were the first to use nuclear weapons; we must be the ones to end them once and for all.”

A few days later, he sent me an email with the gist of our message. In addition to climate change, the nearly 14,000 nuclear weapons in the world pose an existential threat to humanity. The threat of nuclear war has never been greater, with tensions rising between the United States, Russia and China. Even a limited nuclear war could kill hundreds of millions, and bring about a global famine that would put billions of people at risk. A larger war could kill the vast majority of humanity.

“This is not the future that must be,” Dr. Helfand wrote me. “Nuclear weapons are not a force of nature. They are little machines that we have built with our own hands, and we know how to take them apart. Nations around the world have come together in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It is time for us to move back from the brink and eliminate nuclear weapons before they eliminate us.”

And so, the day has come when that long dreamed of future has become a real possibility. Our task is to make the possible probable, and then actual. Time to get back to work. We need to call President Biden and Congress, write letters to the editor, mobilize the movement, tell the nation: Let’s abolish nuclear weapons now, once and forever, and use the billions of dollars we spend on these weapons to vaccinate everyone, rebuild our nation, protect the environment, abolish war and poverty, and welcome a new culture of peace and nonviolence.

As I learned in Oslo, anything is possible if you believe.

Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons

Like this article? Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.
Continue Reading

News

33 Missing Children Recovered During Human Trafficking Operation

Avatar

Published

on

A large human trafficking investigation in Southern California involving multiple law enforcement agencies successfully recovered 33 missing children during a recent operation. 

The FBI announced the conclusion of the investigation this week, and disclosed that there are currently over 1,800 investigations involving missing and exploited children. The investigation was called “Operation Lost Angels” and began on January 11th as a part of Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

While few details were revealed about the cases, the FBI said that at least 8 of the children had been sexually exploited. The agency noted that there has been an increase in child trafficking cases in recent years.

According to a statement from the FBI, “It is not uncommon for victims who are rescued to return to commercial sex trafficking either voluntarily or by force, fraud or coercion. This harmful cycle highlights the challenges victims face and those faced by law enforcement when attempting to keep victims from returning to an abusive situation. Victims may not self-identify as being trafficked or may not even realize they’re being trafficked.”

Assistant FBI Director Kristi K. Johnson told FOX 11 Los Angeles that, “The FBI considers human trafficking modern-day slavery, and the minors engaged in commercial sex trafficking are considered victims. While this operation surged resources over a limited period of time with great success, the FBI and our partners investigate child sex trafficking every day of the year and around the clock.”

Statements from investigators also noted that some of the children needed multiple interventions after returning to whoever was exploiting them. Investigations into numerous suspects have been opened and one suspected human trafficker has been arrested. The FBI also noted that not all of the children were victims of trafficking, for example, one of the children was kidnapped by their parent during a custody battle.

The FBI announced that they made 473 human trafficking arrests last year and initiated 664 investigations across the country.

This is just one of many similar operations that have taken place across the state, and the entire country in recent years.

Over the past five years, the US Marshal Service (USMS) has recovered missing children in 75% of the cases it has received. And of those recovered, 72% were recovered within 7 days. Since 2005, the USMS has recovered more than 2,000 missing children.

Late last year, a massive law enforcement operation in Ohio called Operation Autumn Hope resulted in the arrest of 179 people under suspicion of human trafficking, and the rescue of 109 victims, 45 of whom were missing children. Some victims were as young as 14 or 15 years old.

Another effort, called Operation Stolen Innocence, concluded in Tallahassee, Florida, in November, with the arrest of 170 people.

Investigators are urging victims and people who are aware of victims to speak out. Victims and witnesses can report information to the Human Trafficking Hotline by calling 1-888-373-7888.

Like this article? Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.
Continue Reading

News

Teachers Union Berated Trump for Reopening Schools, Now It’s Praising Biden for Doing the Same

Avatar

Published

on

The same teachers’ organization that roundly condemned Donald Trump’s attempts to prematurely reopen schools are now applauding Biden’s decision to do the same, even as the coronavirus pandemic reaches new levels.

Joe Biden has made the reopening of schools, colleges, and universities a key priority. On his first full day in office, he signed an executive order “to support the safe reopening and continued operation of schools, child care providers, Head Start programs, and institutions of higher education,” hoping to achieve a near full reopening within 100 days. The order states that the 78-year-old former Delaware senator considers it his duty to “ensure that students receive a high-quality education during the coronavirus.”

The country’s largest labor union, the National Education Association (NEA) came out in strong support of the move. “President Biden’s plan provides great reason for sorely-needed optimism” said the organization’s new president, Becky Pringle. “Educators are encouraged not only by President Biden’s leadership, but also by knowing that there is finally a true partner in the White House who will prioritize students by working with educators in the decision-making process,” she added in an official statement.

The NEA has a close relationship with the Democratic Party. Over 97% of NEA political donations in the last two years went to the Democrats, the organization endorsing Joe Biden for president and calling for Trump’s immediate removal from office earlier this month while putting out official statements mourning the death of liberal icons like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Indeed, García was reported to be among the front runners for Biden’s pick as Secretary of Education.

This is quite the U-turn from the union, which boasts a membership of nearly 2.3 million educators nationwide. In April, as President Trump was attempting to do the same thing, the NEA offered blistering opposition. “Trump’s call to reopen school buildings is dangerous for students [and] staff,” it wrote, condemning the president’s attempts to sacrifice teachers for the sake of reopening the economy.

Similarly, in September, the organization was categorically against Trump’s renewed push to reopen. No one should listen to Trump or his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, claimed then-NEA leader Lily Eskelsen García, accusing him of “creating more panic for stressed families” and “politicizing” the reopening of schools by linking it with the November election. Yet Biden has made clear that his decision was made on the same “save the economy” logic as Trump’s. When schools are open again, “Think of all the people who can get back to work,” he said, as he signed the order, “all the mothers and single fathers that are staying home taking care of their children.”

While we may know more about the virus now than last year, it seems clear that the pandemic is actually far more out of control now than previously. In late April, the U.S. was averaging 30,248 new cases per day and 2,010 deaths, per Worldometers data. In September, those numbers were 35,934 daily cases and 757 deaths. Today, however, the country can expect to see 193,758 new cases and around 3,176 new deaths. In fact, the ten deadliest coronavirus days have all occurred in the past four weeks. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that the majority of Americans consider the pandemic to be completely out of control.

Biden’s decision also comes at a time when comparable nations are quickly moving in the opposite direction. Authorities in the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands have all announced the closure of schools, despite lower rates of contagion than the U.S. in some cases.

“The problem is not that schools are unsafe for children,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who made the decision to close them for three months, despite previously being adamantly against the idea in principle. “The problem is schools may nonetheless act as vectors for transmission, causing the virus to spread between households.” European studies have shown that, although highly unlikely to be gravely affected by the virus themselves, children are as likely to contract and pass it on as adults, making schools potential superspreading potshots. British teachers are twice as likely to contract the coronavirus as the general population. COVID cases among American educators are also rising. While there are reasons to support reopening, particularly the psychological toll that isolation takes on children and the loss of valuable teaching time, other nations see the virus as a greater danger.

The union’s decision to support school reopening, even as the pandemic hits new heights, might suggest to some that leadership is putting its loyalties towards the party before its membership and giving Democrats a free pass.

Republished from MintPressNews.com under Creative Commons

Like this article? Get the latest from The Mind Unleashed in your inbox. Sign up right here.
Continue Reading

Trending