Daily Archives: March 25, 2016

USA | Why Colombia’s Negotiators Couldn’t Manage a Cease-Fire by March 23

It sounded over-ambitious when Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced last September 23, during a historic handshake meeting in Havana with the FARC guerrilla leadership, that both sides’ negotiators would sign a final peace accord in just six months—that is, by today, March 23, 2016.

Greece | Bulgaria says ready to erect fence on border with Greece

Bulgaria is ready to build a fence on its border with Greece to keep out migrants amid fears they could head its way after the Western Balkan route was closed, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said on Friday.

Parliament last month voted to let its army assist police in guarding the European Union member’s borders to avoid a refugee influx that has overwhelmed some of its neighbors. Bulgaria shares a border with Greece to its south that is about 500 km (310 miles) long.

Ukraine | ANTIWAR PROTESTS IN UKRAINE

We have got an original text from Ukraine. It gives brief characteristic of antiwar protests in this country on the base of interesting collected data.

In Ukraine, the anti-war protests began in late May 2014 and covered only the territory controlled by Kiev. They have not been recorded in Donbas. This is one more proof of the unfair nature of the war started from the regime established by Maidan.
In the year of 2014 from late May to 18 July, according to our observations, there were not more than 20 protests.
From July 21 to August 22 there were at least 86 anti-war actions. They were caused with third mobilization to the army. It is the largest wave of protests against the war. All participants of actions were civilians.
Several protests took place in late August – early September.
The fourth mobilization, launched in January 2015 sparked the next wave of protests. From January 24 to February 4, 2015 there were 23 protests, members of whom were civilians. After that, mass rallies have not been observed.
Thus, the rise of anti-war protests happened at the periods of exacerbation of hostilities in the Donbas.
The total number of participants is difficult to determine. Perhaps it did not exceed 30 thousand people. Almost all the protests have occurred among civilians. Riots in the army were scarce. Participants of the vast majority of the protesters were women. Men were much less active. The participants of anti-war protests demanded not to send their relatives to the war or bring them back from the war zone, if they were already there. Protest methods largely consisted of rallies, marches and highway blocking. In a few exceptional cases, protesters clashed with the military commissioners.
By the nature of the demands the protests can be divided into two groups. The first type is consistently anti-war. The protesters condemned the war as such. The second type has border nature, when protesters do not question the necessity of the war, but protest against bestial conditions of service in the Ukrainian armed forces and threats of life for their relatives. This second type is able to evolve in the direction of a consistent antiwar position and in the direction of support for the war to victory.
Geographically, the protests did not affect central Ukraine. They focused mainly on the outskirts of the state. Most of the protests took place in the villages.
The vast majority of protesters were spontaneous, had no coordination and organization. But there were exceptions. In Glybotsky, Tyachiv and Melitopol district residents of neighboring villages explicitly coordinate their actions. In addition, there are two anti-war organization – the Women’s movement of Kharkov and the movement “Antivoyna” headed by Shilova. However, Ukrainian fascists persecuted them and their results are very modest.

Military tensions in Eastern Europe

The main impetus to the militarization of Eastern Europe was the Ukrainian crisis. Everybody knows it. But preconditions for current military tensions were formed out of Ukraine. At the time, Savas Matsas pointed out that this problem should be viewed in the context of the global economic crisis. Indeed, in the twentieth century, world capitalism demonstrates the new dynamic of forty year waves. Each of these waves ending a decade of economic crisis and the aggravation of the military threat. The crisis of the 1930s led to a world war, the crisis of the 1970s – to a new round of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet bloc. The military consequences of the current economic crisis we have yet to go through.
The origins of the current tensions in Eastern Europe were laid long before the 2008 crisis. After the collapse of the USSR NATO leaders promised that NATO would not expand eastward. But NATO itself has not taken any written commitments. Therefore, the promise was easily violated. The Alliance has consistently expanded, leaning on aggressive Russophobe regimes. Therefore, Russia has always stressed that the expansion of NATO is a threat to its security, but NATO did not pay attention to it.
In 2002, the Bush administration withdrew from the agreement on missile defense and began to deploy its own missile defense system in Europe. At the same time, NATO declares missile defense system is not directed against Russia, but never gave legal guarantees. The precedent of NATO eastward expansion taught Russia that one can not trust the word of the Western imperialists, if it is not backed up by formal treaties. Officially missile defense system created against possible missile threats from Iran and Syria. However, Iran’s nuclear program is terminated, the Syrian chemical weapons destroyed, but the US project has not stopped. Therefore, Russia has every reason to consider this program as a threat.
The coup, that took place in Ukraine, has dramatically changed the balance of power in the region. Due to the direct intervention of the US and Western diplomats the right semi-fascist regime won in Kiev. It is radically anti-Russian and aimed at integration into NATO. Since NATO countries violated the existing balance in the region, Russian imperialism tried to fix it and save its navy base in the Crimea. This desire coincided with the will of Russians in Crimea to secede from Ukraine. In this way Russia took Crimea. As a result, NATO’s plan to swallow Ukraine has not been implemented. For the first time NATO faced its plans overwhelmingly frustrating. Thus the current phase of military tensions in Eastern Europe began.
On the Russian side of the preconditions for the current militarization of the region can be traced back to the Ukrainian crisis. Their roots go back to 2008. After the war in Georgia, the Russian government has developed an ambitious rearmament plan. The volume of military spending has increased dramatically. In early 2013 the Russian leadership introduced the practice of conducting exercises for large groups of forces without a prior announcement to the units concerned. Russian commanders acknowledged their high efficiency and do not intend to abandon them.
However, after the events in the Crimea, this type of exercise irritates the West. Now, any unexpected movement of Russian troops is seen as a prelude to the emergence of “green men”. The logic of Western imperialists is easy to understand: if Russia was able to do it once in the Crimea, it can now repeat it anywhere. Since military exercises begin as suddenly as the operation in the Crimea, they cause a panic reaction in NATO.
But the reasons for this reaction are purely psychological. If we compare military power, NATO should not worry. NATO military expenditure in 2013 exceeded the Russian military spending by more than 10 times and accounted for more than half of all military spending worldwide. But despite such a clear predominance in force, the NATO countries have begun to strengthen their position in Eastern Europe. As expressed in the NATO analysts, they strengthen the eastern flank of the alliance.
To this end, NATO
– conducts large-scale military exercises and has stepped up flights of aircraft in the region. Western ships constantly enter the Black Sea (but they do not violate the Montreux Convention). In 2013, only one of NATO exercises was held in Eastern Europe. According to official NATO data, in 2014 162 exercises were conducted under NATO’s Military Training and Exercise Program (twice as many as originally planned), and 40 additional state-led exercises could also be counted as a part of the re-assurance and adaptation drive NATO further increased the tempo of multilateral exercises. Their plan for 2015 consisted of 300 exercises. It means just every day one of them starts. Hundred thousands of people involved to this activity.
– creates new bases in Eastern Europe. Soldiers from Western Europe, Turkey and the United States will serve these bases. However, these contingents are not permanent. Placing permanent contingent is still under discussion.
– increases number of conventional weapons. NATO aircrafts were shifted to the Baltic States, their quantity enlarged four times. The concentration of armored vehicles increases too. It creates a rapid reaction force numbering 30 thousand people.
– US abandoned plans to take out 200 nuclear bombs from Europe and intend to relocate to Europe bombers capable of their carrying.
– accelerates its work on the establishment of a missile defense system. The first missile station has already entered into operation in Romania. Works on creation of a second station continued in Poland.
– in 2014 NATO commanders demanded from the Eastern European allies to increase defense spending to 2.8% of GDP. In 2013, almost all countries in the region spent for military purposes 1-2% of GDP.
Poland and the Baltic states the most actively insist in the militarization of the region. NATO officials even forced to restrain their radical demands.
The military response of Russia is less scaled due to its limited resources. Nevertheless, Russia has accepted the challenge.
Russia is pursuing a large-scale military exercises along its western borders, including with the participation of allies. A significant part of these maneuvers falls on the exercises without a prior announcement. During 2015, approximately 300,000 troops, 1,100 aircraft and 280 ships took part in snap exercises organised throughout the Russian territory. On the Baltic Sea, the Russian aircraft flying 4 times more frequently than before. The activity of the Russian submarine fleet increased in a half-fold.
Russia is stepping up production of conventional weapons and reorganizing the troops. In particular, several divisions relocated to the Western Military District. It created a new Panzer division. The fleet is equipped with new missiles. Create a mobile army of up to 65 thousand people.
In the Crimea and the Kaliningrad region it started the deployment of Iskander missile systems to counter missile defense systems of NATO.
Russia’s military expenditures before the crisis amounted to 4.1% of GDP. Now their share increases. Despite the economic crisis, Russia’s military program is not reduced. 21 percent of the state budget was spent on military purposes in 2015, while only 16 % in 2013.
As noted by Western observers, is now the two sides adhere to the tactics of military pressure in the hope that the other side will at a certain point back away from confrontation and seek accommodation. However, this is unlikely to happen. In NATO the cleverest analysts understand that friction can lead to unpredictable consequences. “Tensions over deployments and exercises can lead to a further deterioration of the security situation in Europe and even open up the possibility of direct Russia – NATO confrontation”. However, even they insist that in order to achieve a new balance and relieving tensions in the region Russia is the first to make a step towards. They believe that Russia first made a hostile move having violated the integrity of Ukraine. However, the first hostile move the United States and the EU made when carried out a coup in Ukraine, so Russia is waiting for their first step towards detente. Thus, the positions of the confronting sides are irreconcilable, and detente is not at the agenda. The end of military tensions in Eastern Europe is not expected. The rivalry between Russia and NATO in Syria poses a threat to more large-scale conflict. We can’t speak on the eve of a big war, but the preconditions for it are increasing.

USA | UNAC’s Statement to the U.N. Human Rights Committee

Statement to the U.N. Human Rights Committee
in support of an investigation into the events of May 2, 2014, in Odessa, Ukraine

We the undersigned representatives of human rights organizations in the United States respectfully appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to initiate an investigation into the massacre of 46 democracy protesters that took place May 2, 2014, in the city of Odessa, Ukraine.
We are making this request in support of the relatives, friends and supporters of the deceased who today are asking you for such an investigation.
According to widely published reports, protesters opposed to the February 2014 coup that overthrew Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had set up a symbolic tent city in Odessa’s Kulikovo Square, in front of the five-story Trade Unions House. On May 2, thousands of right-wing soccer fans, whipped up by procoup activists, attacked and burned the tent city, driving the much smaller group of protesters into the union building. The mob then set the building on fire. Forty-six people died from burns, smoke inhalation, gunfire and beatings. Many more were wounded. It was the worst case of violence in Odessa in many decades.
Ever since the massacre, representatives of the families of those who died have held weekly vigils to honor the memory of their loved ones. Many of these memorials have been harassed by pro-coup groups, who now are threatening to attack a major second anniversary memorial being planned for May 2, 2016.
The family members and their supporters are today asking your committee to initiate a long-overdue impartial investigation into the events of May 2, 2014. For their part, the pro-coup forces are expressing their opposition to such an investigation. This contradiction alone should make clear which side wants the truth revealed and which side wants it to remain hidden.
The tragedy of Odessa and the continuing danger of right-wing violence in that beautiful city is of growing concern among human rights organizations in the United States. We urge you to initiate the investigation that is being requested so that the truth of the events of May 2, 2014, can be revealed once and for all.
It is our fervent hope that such truth-telling can help prevent such horrors in the future, especially during the second anniversary memorial being planned for May 2.
Sincerely,
Abayomi Azikiwe – Editor, Pan-African News Wire; Organizer, Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice
Judith Bell – Member, Administrative Committee, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)
Ana Edwards – Virginia Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project
Bruce Gagnon – International Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Jaribu Hill – Director, Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights
Margaret Kimberley – Editor & Senior Columnist, Black Agenda Report
Marilyn Levin – Co-Coordinator, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)
Joe Lombardo – Co-Coordinator, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)
Jeff Mackler – Director, Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal; Former Independent Candidate, U.S. Senate, California
Ray McGovern – Former CIA Analyst