What are Donald Trump’s objections to the Iran nuclear deal?

The US president is threatening to pull the country out of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. DW examines why Trump is considering dropping the deal and who shares his concerns on Iran.

UN Generalversammlung in New York | Donald Trump, Präsident USA (Getty Images/AFP/T.A. Clary)

The “worst deal ever”: That is how US President Donald Trump describes the 2015 landmark Iran nuclear accord. He repeatedly has signaled that the United States will withdraw from or revise the agreement, a threat he reiterated most recently during Tuesday’s speech at the UN General Assembly. 

Both the US State Department and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran has abided by the agreement, and nuclear non-proliferation experts and other international powers that brokered the deal are pressing the White House to stay in.

So why is the Trump administration against the nuclear accord?

The answer lies with the deal’s alleged weaknesses and, equally important, non-nuclear related issues that the Trump administration would now like to bring onto the negotiating table, such as Iran’s ballistic missile program and the Islamic republic’s expanding influence in the Middle East.

Watch video00:38

Trump slams Iran at United Nations

Read more: Donald Trump and the Iran nuclear deal – a crisis in the making

What does the Iran nuclear deal do?

Under the 2015 deal negotiated between Iran and the P5+1 (US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany), Tehran agreed to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of crushing international sanctions and the unfreezing of billions of dollars in frozen Iranian assets. Under the deal, Iran is permitted to maintain a small amount of nuclear-related activity and uranium stockpiles for research and medicine purposes.

However, the quantities are far below any threshold that would allow the fast and unannounced development of nuclear weapons. In effect, Iran is allowed peaceful nuclear research just as any other country.

Objection: delay but not prevent

At the time of the deal, Western intelligence agencies estimated it would take Iran as little as one year to produce a nuclear weapon. The 2015 accord restricted Iran’s nuclear-related activities for 10 to 15 years. After this period expires, the deal will need to be renegotiated or Iran could theoretically restart its nuclear weapons program.

Iran's Supreme leader Ali Khamenei (Irna)Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has accused Trump of unfair criticism of the country’s nuclear programs

If Iran then were to choose to pursue nuclear weapons, it would start from a lower starting point that would buy time for the international community to respond.

But the Trump administration finds this ‘sunset clause’ —  essentially the accord’s expiration date — to be problematic because it delays, rather than prevents, Iran’s development of a nuclear bomb. The White House’s concerns echo Israel’s, which has argued that the nuclear issue cannot be kicked down the road.

Read more: Ayatollah Khamenei slams US ‘bullying’ on nuclear deal

Objection: covert nuclear activity?

The deal also allows the IAEA inspections regime  to monitor declared nuclear facilities, storage facilities and supply chains.

However, the Trump administration argues that the nuclear accord does not provide access to restricted military sites that could be used for a covert weapons development program. It has demanded that inspectors gain access to these sites, something that Iran has rejected.

Supporters of the deal argue that any covert program would be spotted through existing monitoring provisions of existing facilities and supply chains.

Objection: ballistic missiles

The wording of UN resolution authorizing the nuclear deal is vague on ballistic missiles. It “calls upon” — but does not require —Iran not to carry out work “related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

Iran says its ballistic missiles are conventional weapons that are not “designed to” carry nuclear warheads even if they are “capable of” delivering them. Since Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons, Tehran argues, the UN resolution does not apply to its ballistic missile program.

But the Trump administration argues that the missile program violates the nature of the deal and views it as a threat to US Gulf Arab allies and Israel. The US has slapped a number of sanctions on Iranover the program, causing Tehran in turn to accuse the US of going against the spirit of the accord.

Iran makes missiles tests (picture-alliance/dpa/Defence Ministry Iran)Iran launches a ballistic missile at an undisclosed location in March 2016

Objection: funds for ‘destabilizing activities’

Under the nuclear deal, a good chuck of Iran’s internationally frozen assets, valuing some $100 billion, were released. The Trump administration argues that is bad because this money can be used to fund Iran’s “destabilizing activities” in the Middle East and support of terrorist groups.

US grievances include Iran’s hostility to Israel, its engagement in Syria and Iraq, and the Islamic Republic’s wide regional support for various Shiite militant groups including Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthi rebels in Yemen, as well as for Hamas, the militant Islamist organization in the Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, Washington and Israel are concerned that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a security and military organization separate from the regular armed forces, and Hezbollah are setting up bases on Israel’s doorstep in southern Syria.

Read more: Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad: Propped up by Tehran and Moscow

Trump visits Saudi Arabia (picture-alliance/abaca)In May, Trump opened a combating extremism center with Arab and Muslim allies in Saudi Arabia. At the time, he had sharp words for Iran.

Who objects alongside Trump? 

Internationally, Trump’s view of the deal reflects that of the Gulf Arab monarchies and the right-wing of the powerful Israel lobby in the US. Both the Gulf monarchies and Israel are concerned about Iran’s expanding influence in the Middle East and the end of Iran’s international isolation through the lifting of sanctions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly lambasted the nuclear deal and lobbied the Trump administration to pull out. However, current and former Israeli intelligence and military officials have said that while the deal is not perfect, Iran has not violated the agreement and a US withdrawal would backfire.

Netanyahu stands before the UNNetanyahu praised Trump’s hardline comments on Iran at the UN.

Domestically, critics of the Iran deal in Trump’s current administration include  US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, CIA chief Mike Pompeo and senior White House policy advisor Stephen Miller.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, are reportedly in favor of the US staying in the deal, despite advocating a strong line against Iran.

How could Trump break the deal?

Trump faces an October 15 deadline to certify to the US Congress whether Iran is complying with the nuclear deal. If he does not certify compliance, Congress could impose nuclear-related sanctions, effectively killing the 2015 deal. However, it remains unclear how the Republican-controlled Congress would respond.

Read more: New US Russia sanctions bill risks EU anger

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US and South Korea agree to ‘stronger’ sanctions against North Korea

North Korea defied the international community yet again with its latest missile test on Friday. US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-In want to up the ante against Pyongyang.

Donald Trump takes a call on his smartphone.

US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in “gravely condemned” North Korea’s latest missile test on Thursday and promised “stronger” sanctions on Pyongyang during a phone conversation on Sunday, a South Korean government spokesman said after the call.

South Korean President Moon Jae-inSouth Korean President Moon Jae-in wants stronger pressure against its northern neighbor.

“The two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation, and exert stronger and practical sanctions on North Korea so that it realizes provocative actions leads to further diplomatic isolation and economic pressure,” presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said during a televised briefing.

North Korea fired an intermediate-range missile over Japan, a US ally, early Thursday morning, which the UN Security Council said was “highly provocative” and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned as threatening to world peace.

The international community has attempted to increase pressure on North Korea in recent weeks in response to its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3. That test prompted the UN Security Council to pass sanctions banning textile exports and restricting oil exports to the isolated Asian country.

A North Korean missile.North Korea conducted its latest missile test on Friday.

Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs have significantly advanced since its first nuclear test in 2006. The latest nuclear test was five to six times more powerful than the last, according to South Korea’s Meteorological Administration.

North Korea’s leaders have repeatedly said they need nuclear weapons to defend themselves against “hostile” US forces, 35,000 of which are stationed in South Korea.

ap/jil (AFP, Reuters)

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Why China won’t help US against North Korea

Even after multiple rounds of sanctions, Pyongyang is continuing to provoke the international community with weapons testing. China and the US face bad options, and each other, in creating a united front.

Chinese and North Korean flags (Getty Images/K. Frayer)

After North Korea detonated what is suspected to be a hydrogen bomb on September 3, the US spearheaded the toughest sanctions levied to date against Pyongyang by the UN Security Council. But after the second round of “historic” sanctions within a month, the detrimental effect of partially cutting off fossil fuel supplies, freezing individual assets and preventing textile trade are seen by many observers as being just another incremental response to a belligerent regime clearly determined at all costs to continue developing nuclear weapons.

Friday’s ballistic missile launch over Japan, the second over Japanese territory in two weeks, also indicates that sanctions have yet to deter Pyongyang’s provocations. The launch also presents a direct challenge to the US and China to somehow create a united front against the North.

The US had originally pushed for a tougher sanctions regime – including a full oil embargo and travel ban for North Korean officials – but had to soften its demands to ensure full cooperation from China.

Read more: ‘Ultimate sanction’ – Will cutting off oil bring North Korea to its knees?

Aside from the self-congratulation earlier this week in Washington over another unanimous UN vote, the rift between Chinese and US interests moving forward on North Korea is clear, as it is apparent that Beijing is continuing to stop short of taking action that would topple the Kim Jong Un regime.

US China Trade (picture-alliance/AP Photo/S. Loeb)The US is dubious of China’s commitment to enforcing sanctions

This, combined with North Korea’s constant weapons testing and rapid advancements in capability, is exacerbating the already tense relationship between the US and China.

Read more: What is China’s role in the North Korean crisis?

Dialogue – made in China

Following the UN Security Council resolution on September 11, China’s official Xinhua news agency released a commentary stating that the Trump administration was making a mistake by pursuing deeper sanctions rather than seeking diplomatic engagement with North Korea.

“The US needs to switch from isolation to communication in order to end an ‘endless loop’ on the Korean peninsula where nuclear and missile tests trigger tougher sanctions and tougher sanctions invite further tests,” Xinhua said.

China has been advocating a so-called “freeze for freeze” strategy, where the Kim regime agrees to cease all weapons testing and missile launches in exchange for the US diminishing its military footprint on the peninsula and ceasing all joint military exercises with the South.

The US has roundly rejected any new forms of “freeze” agreements that it considers would weaken its strategic posture on the Korean peninsula. Two similar deals struck between the US and North Korea during the Clinton and Bush administrations fell through after they were not honored by Pyongyang.

– Donald Trump rejects diplomacy with North Korea

– How North Korea survives on an oil-drip from Russia

Watch video01:04

China was North Korea’s last major trading partner.

US dollars for Chinese compliance

The US is dubious of China’s commitment to enforcing sanctions, as Chinese individuals and companies have been found in the past to be in violation of UN sanctions for not cutting ties with North Korea.

After the last round of UN sanctions against Pyongyang in August, the US issued an additional set of sanctions against Chinese individuals and companies for allegedly aiding the North Korean weapons program.

A commentary in the Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times responded by accusing the US of “severely violating” international law by sanctioning Chinese companies and individuals, while maintaining that China “strictly implements” UN Security Council resolutions.

“Who grants Washington the right to make judgments on which companies violate UN Security Council resolutions?” said the commentary.

The new round of sanctions on Monday makes it illegal for foreign firms to form commercial joint ventures with North Korean entities.

On Tuesday, the US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told media that if China didn’t follow the UN sanctions on North Korea, the Trump administration would pursue additional sanctions on Beijing to cut off access to the US financial system.

“If China doesn’t follow these sanctions, we will put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the US and international dollar system, and that’s quite meaningful,” Mnuchin said.

Ely Ratner, a former national security advisor with the Obama administration and a China expert at the US Council on Foreign Relations, told DW that the Trump administration would likely impose additional secondary sanctions on Chinese firms, banks, and individuals that continue doing business with North Korea illegally in violation of UN sanctions.

“The Chinese government won’t like this, but it only has itself to blame for not enforcing UN Security Council resolutions that it voted for,” said Ratner.

A Trump administration official told Reuters news agency that any such “secondary sanctions” on Chinese banks and other companies were on hold for now to give China time to show it was prepared to fully enforce the latest and previous rounds of sanctions.

Read more: North Korea sanctions: EU targets main exports with an expanded blacklist

Infografik Timeline Nordkoreas Raketentests 05.07.2017 ENG

China won’t back down

But even if China complies with what the US considers are watered-down sanctions, the bottom line is that it is not in China’s national interest to eliminate the Kim regime in Pyongyang. Observers agree that Beijing is less concerned about the North’s weapons program than it is about a US-sponsored, re-united Korean peninsula.

“China doesn’t want the DPRK to collapse because that would leave many uncertainties regarding its weapons, refugees and a US base at its doorstep,” Eduardo Araral, Vice Dean of research at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, told DW.

Araral added that the US would not be able to handle North Korea without cooperation from China. “US-China ties are so intertwined that the US cannot continue hurting China, for example on trade, without hurting itself,” he said.

A post- Kim peninsula?

One of the major hurdles in preventing a united front from the US and China in dealing with the Kim regime, is the uncertainty of the geopolitical outcome on the Korean Peninsula if the North were to collapse and be folded into the South.

US and Chinese interests do merge, however, in that both do not want a nuclear-ready North Korean military machine, and China especially does not want nuclear war in its backyard. It should be noted that China does not necessarily have friendly relations with North Korea. Chinese President Xi Jinping has never met with Kim Jong Un and there are signals that China is willing to take a tougher stance on the regime. Nevertheless, these considerations are outweighed by a tangle of Chinese geopolitical interests.

For China to accept a united Korean peninsula, they would need to be assured that the US would demilitarize in the region and that a new regional security architecture could be created with Beijing’s interests at the helm. This scenario presents a problem, not only for US interests, but also for Japan and South Korea.

Noah Feldman, author of “Cool War: The United States, China, and the Future of Global Competition” and professor at Harvard Law School, told a debate organized and broadcast online by Intelligence Squared on September 13, that China presented a “structural problem” for a unified Korea. US security guarantees on the Korean peninsula would be essential for South Korea and Japan to agree to a new geopolitical structure in Northeast Asia, which is something that China won’t agree to.

“Countries are living under the Chinese economic sphere of influence, while depending on the US as a security guarantor. They are playing both ends against the middle and that has worked for those countries,” said Feldman during the debate.

It is worthwhile noting that the only time the US and China have engaged in direct conflict was on the Korean peninsula in 1950, after the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army entered the Korean War to fight on behalf of North Korea against a US-led coalition defending the South. And more than 65 years later, it seems that again decisive action from the Chinese is necessary to tip the balance in Northeast Asia.

Watch video01:53

US has stark warning for North Korean leader

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More mystery surrounds ‘health attacks’ on US diplomats in Cuba

More mystery surrounds 'health attacks' on US diplomats in Cuba
The mysterious stories of US diplomats in Cuba falling victim to bizarre “health attacks” including hearing loss and brain injuries have become even more bizarre, with AP discovering that some symptoms were limited to specific rooms or parts of rooms.

Details surrounding what the White House has only described as “incidents” are sparse, and the causes are even less existent. All that is really known is that US diplomatic employees experienced a “variety of physical symptoms”while serving in Cuba.

‘Possibly a sonic attack’: US & Canadian diplomats in diagnosed with brain injuries – reports https://on.rt.com/8l6q 

Photo published for US & Canadian diplomats in Cuba diagnosed with brain injuries, nerve damage – reports — RT America

US & Canadian diplomats in Cuba diagnosed with brain injuries, nerve damage – reports — RT America

Diplomats stationed in Havana, Cuba, have suffered a number of strange ailments that have caused many to leave the country with permanent physical damage. Officials are reportedly investigating…

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Those symptoms include hearing loss and speech problems, with some victims having trouble concentrating or recalling certain words, according to officials cited by AP. Some have experienced brain swelling, dizziness, nausea, severe headaches, balance problems and prolonged ringing in the ears.

The officials said the incidents occurred in the homes of the US officials, and in at least one hotel: the recently renovated Hotel Capri.

A new layer of the cases was revealed by AP on Thursday, but appears to only add to the confusion.

According to the news agency, some of the symptoms were limited to certain rooms, or parts of rooms.

AP recalled the case of an American diplomat who experienced a “blaring, grinding noise” while lying in his bed. When he moved just a few feet away, there was silence. The peculiar noise began again after he climbed back into bed.

“It was as if he’d walked through some invisible wall cutting straight through his room,” the AP article reads.

It notes that the diplomat – who refers to the incidents as “health attacks” – also experienced hearing loss and speech problems, like so many of the other victims.

While some felt vibrations and heard sounds such as a loud ringing or a high-pitch chirping similar to crickets, others heard the grinding noise. Many said the attacks seemed to come at night, with several reporting they came in minute-long bursts.

Some awoke with ringing in their ears and reached for their alarm clocks, but then discovered the ringing stopped when they moved away from their beds.

However, others heard nothing and felt nothing, yet experienced the symptoms.

Fulton Armstrong, a former CIA official who served in Havana, admitted he’s clueless as to what has caused 21 Americans – a number confirmed by the US on Tuesday – to experience such symptoms.

“None of this has a reasonable explanation,” Armstrong told AP.“It’s just mystery after mystery after mystery.”

There is perhaps no better word to describe the situation than “mystery.” Although suspicion initially fell on the possibility of a sonic device, the diagnosis of mild brain injury has confused all the authorities involved in the investigation, as such a symptom is unlikely to result from sound.

Investigators have also tested conspiracy theories ranging from an intentional attack by Cuba’s government, a rogue faction of its security forces, a third country like Russia, or some combination of those possibilities. They’re also considering that it could have been an advanced espionage operation that didn’t go as planned.

But despite the theories and investigations, there’s still no explanation. Sound and health experts are just as confused as the US government, as no single, sonic instrument seems to explain such physical responses.

“Brain damage and concussions, it’s not possible,” Joseph Pompei, a former MIT researcher and psychoacoustics expert, told AP. “Somebody would have to submerge their head into a pool lined with very powerful ultrasound transducers.”

Possible motives are just as unclear, particularly because “fewer than 10 diplomatic Canadian households” were also affected, a Canadian official told AP. Unlike the US, Canada has maintained pleasant ties with Cuba for decades.

Both the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police traveled to Havana to investigate the situation earlier this year, sweeping rooms and looking for devices. However, they found nothing, according to several officials briefed on the investigation.

Although the US has stopped short of accusing Cuba of perpetrating the attacks on its citizens, Washington expelled two Cuban diplomats last month, charging Havana with failing to protect Americans serving in the country.

Meanwhile, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry stated last month that it “has never, nor would it ever, allow that the Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic agents or their families, without exception.” It vowed its full cooperation and said it was treating the situation “with utmost importance.”

President Donald Trump ruffled Cuba’s feathers in June, when he announced that he would be rolling back much of the Obama administration’s policies to open Cuba to American investment in travel, calling it a “terrible and misguided deal” that only benefits the “repressive” Castro regime.

In response, Cuba said the US is “not in a position to give us lessons,” adding that Havana has “serious concerns about the respect and guarantees of human rights in that country…” and calling Trump’s allegations against Havana a case of “double standards.”

Courtesy, RT

EU cash-dumping in Africa bolsters unruly regimes, aggravates migrant crisis

Martin Jay
Martin Jay is an award winning British journalist now based in Beirut who works on a freelance basis for a number of respected British newspapers as well as previously Al Jazeera and Deutsche Welle TV. Before Lebanon, he has worked in Africa and Europe for CNN, Euronews, CNBC, BBC, Sunday Times and Reuters. Follow him on Twitter @MartinRJay
EU cash-dumping in Africa bolsters unruly regimes, aggravates migrant crisis
Trump’s recent block on US aid to Egypt over human rights concerns raised many eyebrows. But the EU should follow his lead in Africa as it is geopolitical bribery dressed up as aid, which is really the heart of the matter.

Recently, Europe’s four big guns and three African states agreed on a strategy to tackle illegal human trafficking and support nations struggling to contain the flow of people across the desert and the Mediterranean Sea. The move has been prompted primarily by Italy, which accused France and other EU states of not sharing the migrant burden.

But is it an EU problem? And if it is, just how much blame can the EU and Brussels take for the crisis in the first place?

The 28-nation European Union has long struggled to reach any solution to the influx of migrants fleeing war, poverty and political upheaval in the Middle East and Africa. Specifically, it is Africa where Brussels seems incapable of dealing with the crisis, the epicenter of which is Libya, which French President Emmanual Macron is trying to stabilize with a recent initiative to bring together the two rival power blocs for peace talks following a recent ceasefire.

Macron is also leading the much-needed debate about the refugee crisis from Africa. Addressing the leaders of Germany, Italy, Spain, Chad, Niger and Libya, he called for greater cooperation.

A recent conference allowed leaders to iron out a plan setting out a mechanism to identify legitimate migrants who are fleeing war and persecution. The idea is that they can avoid being exploited by traffickers if the UN can register them in Niger and Chad.

“At the core of it, it’s all about fighting illegal migration,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

EU programs in Libya pay cash to traffickers – MEPs

And she’s right. Although this is a step in the right direction, aren’t both France and Germany paying diplomatic lip service to the EU in not pointing out one erroneous detail in all of this: if the EU imposed much tougher conditions on aid given to African leaders, forcing them to improve on human rights, the effect on the sheer numbers of people fleeing those countries would be considerable.

They are not fleeing poverty alone, but more oppression.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) recently accused the EU of financing the trafficking business with its aid program in Libya. The program, which has funded coastguards to patrol against human smugglers, has led to the deplorable plight of captured migrants being held in detention centers. Nevertheless, Italian and Spanish MEPs on September 12th regaled the EU foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini for her new EU programs, which MSF claims are “short-sighted” and have resulted in the traffickers actually benefiting from EU cash.

Yet the MEPs and MSF missed the point. The international medical organization and the growing numbers of MEPs should look more closely at the EU aid programs for the African countries themselves.

Building detention centers for the refugees is like using a sticking plaster from the first aid box to deal with a decapitation. Simple logic is required. Donald Trump gave us the example in August when he cut off US aid to Egypt, citing human rights concerns.

The problem with dictators on the continent is that they become addicted to Washington or the EU’s aid lifeline. Soon enough, leaders ask for more money to resolve problems which stem from symptoms of escalating corruption. It’s a vicious circle which neither Merkel nor Macron care to acknowledge.

At the auspicious conference, this was apparent, with even EU leaders falling into the trap of throwing more money at the problem.

“If we want to stop human traffickers, then this can only be achieved through development aid,” Angela Merkel said.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there wasn’t a shortage of African leaders who were ready to present their former colonial leaders with begging bowls.

But money will not solve the issue. In fact, it is EU money – by the lorry load – which is at the heart of the problem.

EU President Antonio Tajani recently recommended that up to $6 billion should be put aside to stop migrants and $10 billion to do the same in Libya’s southern neighbor, Chad. Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pledged on a recent trip to Benghazi and Tripoli €9 million to help control terrorism and people trafficking. With no loss of an irony, the Italians have been accused of paying off local militias to stop the flow of migrants to their shores.

After living in Africa for six years, I have seen with my own eyes how Western money nearly always creates cultures of dependency and makes governments more ingenious at stealing it, illustrated by investigative journalist Graeme Hancock in his investigation into UN corruption, ‘Lords of Poverty.’

Ethan Chorin, a contributor to Forbes magazine agrees.

“Uncoordinated and vague, these pledges have little chance to make progress — but large potential to make things worse,” he argues, while dismissing the case for a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa, arguing instead for regional players to stop financing the warlords in Libya.

However, the real core problem, which neither old Europe nor the EU wants to address, still lies with the African countries themselves. And they have good reason.

Nearly 120,000 migrants, including refugees, have entered Europe by sea so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration. Tragically, more than 2,400 have drowned while making the dangerous journey, often without enough food or water in overcrowded dinghies run by people smugglers.

Yet, most of these people are lower middle-class Africans who want to escape the horror of tyrannical regimes which are oppressing them, convincing them that they have a better life waiting for them in Europe. The real issue is human rights and how the EU continues to blithely support these regimes with hundreds of millions of euro in ‘development’ programs while turning a blind eye to horrific human rights atrocities like torture, rape, and false imprisonment.

Macron should hold the EU to account much more. Ironically, at the very conference where the EU’s foreign policy diva Federica Mogherini is invited – but could not organize as she has so little influence with Paris and Berlin – we are witnessing a farce. The EU is asked to offer its opinion to a problem which is almost entirely created by its own foreign policy ruse with African leaders.

A new UN peace process on Libya – which Macron, not Brussels is taking charge of – might want to ask the EU to hold the leaders of many African countries to account more on human rights atrocities and follow Trump’s example in Egypt.

Baby, you can drive my CAR

The Central African Republic (CAR), for example, which the EU gives hundreds of millions of euro is one of many examples. And we could also, while we’re at it, ask what this money is really for. Being ‘development aid,’ the results are hard to fathom. After working in Brussels for over a decade, I would argue that the money gives Brussels more bang for its buck as those governments are obliged to assist Brussels in its PR program to make itself look more relevant on the world stage.

In 2016, Federica Mogherini herself pledged to give over €2 billion in reconstruction aid following civil war there. It’s hard to see how this, or the more modest €360 million of state-building ‘aid’ given to CAR is helping crack down on torture, rape and a plethora of abysmal human rights atrocities, but more assist the EU with its delusional view that it is a global player.

According to the US State Department, CAR has an off-the-scale rating on human rights atrocities. These include“extrajudicial executions by security forces; the torture, beating and rape of suspects and prisoners; impunity, particularly among the armed forces; harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention centers; arbitrary arrest and detention, prolonged pretrial detention and denial of fair trials.”

‘Politics raped European values’: EU court rejects Hungary & Slovakia’s bid to stop refugee flow https://on.rt.com/8mdi 

Photo published for ‘Politics raped European values’: Hungary & Slovakia slam EU court for refusing quota demands — RT...

‘Politics raped European values’: Hungary & Slovakia slam EU court for refusing quota demands — RT…

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the current system of quotas for resettling refugees is proportionate, amid protests by east European states that cite culture clashes and terrorist…

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The State Department also highlights, for good measure “fatal mob violence; the prevalence of female genital mutilation; discrimination against women and Pygmies; trafficking in persons; forced labor; and child labor.”

But there is no real accountability from the EU on where this money is spent, a point often raised by critics of Brussels which call it a “blind spot,” with as much as half of the annual 23 billion euros lost due to corruption and incompetence.

Nor, any reports from the European Commission on what it is doing to crack down on gargantuan human rights atrocities carried out by the CAR regime.

Is it hardly surprising that there is an exodus of people from this country escaping the vestiges of human rights atrocities which, arguably, are meted by a brutal despot supported by the EU?

If this money was used instead to assist start-up companies and train young people in entrepreneurialism – and be given only on the basis of leaders scrapping their atrocious practices – then not only would the migrants not leave their own countries and head for Europe, but they would create jobs for thousands of others in their own countries.

The problem really is the money going there in the first place, and the unpalatable relationship leaders of these regimes have with Brussels, who almost uncertainly pocket the money themselves. It is really the EU which needs to be held to account much more about its own graft in these countries which is fueling the Libyan refugee crisis.

But who would do that? Macron and Merkel know what €20 billion of aid from Brussels and European states are doing in Africa. They are both guilty of turning a blind eye as they know this money is not improving human rights and creating jobs but merely strengthening unruly regimes who will stop at nothing to remain in power.

Martin Jay is based in Beirut and can be followed at @MartinRJay

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Courtesy, RT

N. Korea’s behavior is ‘global threat’ & requires global response, including from NATO – Stoltenberg

N. Korea’s behavior is ‘global threat’ & requires global response, including from NATO – Stoltenberg
North Korea’s “reckless behavior” is a “global threat” which requires a global response, including from NATO, alliance head Jens Stoltenberg said a week after Pyongyang claimed to have successfully tested an H-bomb.

“The reckless behavior of North Korea is a global threat and requires a global response and that of course also includes NATO,” Stoltenberg said in a BBC interview, as cited by Reuters.

Stoltenberg stated that NATO is “totally focused on how we [the alliance] can contribute to a peaceful solution of the conflict.”

READ MORE: Japanese jet fighters & US bombers conduct war games over East China Sea

Stoltenberg, however, declined to comment on whether the US territory of Guam in the Pacific, located 3,200km from North Korea, was covered by NATO’s Article 5.

Article 5 of the NATO Treaty states that if an ally “is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked.” 

Earlier in August, amid spiraling tensions, Pyongyang said that it was working on a plan to launch a medium-range ballistic missile at the US base in Guam. US President Donald Trump responded that North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

The situation on the Korean Peninsula was further aggravated after Pyongyang claimed that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb which can be mounted on an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).

In response, South Korea and the US reportedly began discussions on the deployment of an aircraft carrier and strategic bombers in the region.

Seoul also immediately held live-fire naval drills involving guided-missile vessels and aimed at preparing to “hit back and bury” the enemy in case of provocation. The drills saw a 2,500-ton Gangwon frigate, a 1,000-ton patrol ship, 400-ton guided-missile vessels, and 130-ton high-speed boats maneuvering in the Sea of Japan (called the East Sea by South Korea).

In its harshest response to North Korea’s nuclear test, the US warned that it is ready to use the “full range” of capabilities at its disposal and might resort to using its nuclear arsenal against North Korea if it continues to threaten the US or its allies.

On Saturday, Japanese jet fighters and US bombers conducted war games over the East China Sea.

Russia has repeatedly stated that that it is important to prevent chaos on the Korean Peninsula and called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the examples of Iraq and Libya have convinced the North Korean leadership that only nuclear deterrence can protect them, so no sanctions can dissuade them.

“Ramping up military hysteria in such conditions is senseless; it’s a dead end,” he added. “It could lead to a global, planetary catastrophe and a huge loss of human life. There is no other way to solve the North Korean nuclear issue, save that of peaceful dialogue,” he said.

Together with Beijing, Moscow has long proposed a double-freeze plan, in which Pyongyang suspends its nuclear and ballistic missile tests in exchange for a halt in joint US-South Korea military drills. Washington has rejected the proposal, saying that it has every right to conduct exercises with its ally, South Korea.

Courtesy, RT

‘Saudis shoot themselves in the foot bringing Qatar, Yemen, Syria & Iraq closer to Iran’

'Saudis shoot themselves in the foot bringing Qatar, Yemen, Syria & Iraq closer to Iran'
The Saudi regime has become so erratic that it turned against Qatar, one of the few regimes that have an identical ideology, and therefore brought Qatar closer to Iran, says professor of politics at Tehran University Seyed Mohammad Marandi.

Saudi Arabia has decided to suspend all dialogue with Qatar after Qatari media was accused of misreporting on phone conversations between the Emir of Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s defense minister.

Previously, US President Donald Trump urged the Gulf States to unite against Iran and expressed his willingness to act as a mediator between Doha and Riyadh.

However, in June, Trump alleged that Qatar was a sponsor of terrorism when Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE first cut diplomatic and transport links with the Gulf nation.

RT: President Trump claims that the Qatar crisis is easy to solve. Why is it so hard to get the sides – Qatar and Saudi Arabia – to the negotiating table?

Seyed Mohammad Marandi: I think the most important problem is the Saud family itself and Mohammad bin Salman in particular. He is very young, he was born a billionaire. He has yes men surrounding him. He has created a mess, not just in his relationship with Qatar that we see this problem. He invaded Yemen. He has been killing the Yemeni people. His air force has been bombing hospitals, funerals, weddings, schools, and innocent civilians for almost three years now with Western support, with the US support both under Obama and Trump. And to no avail; he has lost the war effectively. He has been spreading Wahhabi extremism – he, his father, and the regime before his father have been spreading extremism n Syria, in Iraq, and across the world. Wahhabism is something the Saudis export.

What is extraordinary is that the Saudi regime has become so erratic and unpredictable that now it has turned against one of the few regimes that has an identical ideology… Qatar and Saudi Arabia are the two countries that explicitly declare themselves to be Wahhabi… It is not just an issue of sectarianism, the Saudis are even turning against Wahhabis like themselves. I don’t think the US will have an easy task in bringing these countries together. And even if they do, I don’t think the Qataris are going to trust the Saudis in the future. And Trump himself is not considered to be a very reliable partner, as the Republican Party has just discovered themselves.

The present dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and the UAE is difficult to understand because it seems to be totally artificial, it doesn’t seem to have any reality behind it at all. As for President Trump’s offer to mediate, don’t forget he was asked at a press conference after the formal statements have been made, by journalists, whether he supported Kuwaiti mediation. And he said, “Yes, we do support Kuwaiti mediation.” And then he couldn’t resist adding, “I would be very ready to mediate myself if that would be useful.” I am not surprised that he said that. Maybe it is helpful. Any world leader might have said the same thing.– Oliver Miles, former UK ambassador to Libya

RT: The crisis boils down to Qatar’s alleged terrorist links with Iran. Are there any new developments on that front?

SMM: The Iranian-Qatari relationship has never been severed despite the Saudi pressure. And in fact, the Saudis have failed to disrupt the relationship between Iran and other countries, such as Oman. The Saudis, on the other hand, are putting enormous pressure on Kuwait to distance itself from Iran. But in the case of Qatar, I think it backfired. They went way too far by trying to humiliate the country and take away its sovereignty. The Qataris, which were blockaded not only by Saudi Arabia but its allies like the UAE and Bahrain from the land and the sea and air… they were preventing food from getting in. And the only way forward for Qatar was to turn to Iran. And of course, the Iranians felt that they had an obligation to support the Qataris. And this is something that the Saudis have been doing for a long time: the Iranian relationship with the people of Yemen has evolved, improved, and they have grown closer to each other because of the Saudi invasion of the country. The same is true with what the Saudis and their allies did in Syria and Iraq: they basically brought these countries closer to Iran because these countries saw the Saudis’ Wahhabi extremist ideology, which Al-Qaeda and ISIS and Boko Haram are linked to, as a threat to their existence, and they moved to Iran which they saw as a very reliable partner. That is, basically, the Saudis who have been shooting themselves in the foot time after time.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Courtesy, RT