Raul Castro speaks at United Nations General Assembly

The United States needs to return the territory in Guantanamo, Cuban President Raul Castro said Monday during his address at the United Nations.

Castro said the U.S. also needs to end the embargo against Cuba. The role of the UN is not only to save humanity from war. It is also to save the world from famine.

Cuba supports "an international order that is more just and equitable," Castro said.

Global warming needs to be addressed, Castro said. He said climate change hurts smaller countries in Africa. They also need better treatment, more access to technology and better financial options.

"We support African countries and demand fair treatment for them," he said.

Colonialists, he said, need to stop meddling with independent countries, as is the case in Venezuela. Castro said Cuba will always support and offer solidarity to Hugo Chavez's successor Nicolas Maduro.

"Puerto Rico deserves to be free and independent," Castro said.

Cuba, he said, is also supportive of Argentina's claim on the Falkland Islands, also known as the Malvinas.

Other issues at the center of this week's discussions include the refugee and migrant crisis, the largest since the upheaval of World War II.

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Obama sees 'step by step' approach in Cuba until embargo lifts

President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the United States will look for opportunities in Cuba "step by step" in areas such as telecommunications until the U.S. Congress lifts the trade embargo on the island nation.

Obama told a group of U.S. business leaders that he does not expect "overnight transformation" in Cuba but said reopening diplomatic ties with the country will create the opportunity for "generational change."

  • Published in Cuba

Two thorns in Obama’s side

Whatever happens, Washington will win in Syria, because the United States has not one, but two different policies with regard to this country. Either there will be peace, and President Obama will be praised for having successfully negotiated with Iran ; or else the Syrian Arab Republic will be destroyed and occupied by NATO, and a few US generals and NATO will be praised for having brought an end to the bloodbath. Here, Thierry Meyssan reveals the underside of this double policy, in particular the plot that was hatched by the NATO Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs.

The application of the agreement reached between Washington and Teheran, on the 14th July, 2015, depends mainly on President Obama’s capacity to convince his fellow-citizens, and particularly the Congress of his own administration, to accept it. Here, however, he will be faced with two major obstacles.

The Petraeus group

On the one hand, there is a political current which remains favourable to the Juppé-Wright project for the creation of a Sunnistan and a Kurdistan straddling the borders of Syria and Iraq. It is organised around General David Petraeus, who was director of the CIA until Obama’s re-election in October 2012, and is currently chief analyst for the Kohlberg Kravis Roberts investment fund. The group includes his ex-deputy, General John Allen, current special Presidential envoy in the fight against Daesh, and ex-Secretary of State and present Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. Petraeus also enjoys the support of certain members of the Republican Party, like the current President of the Senatorial Commission for the Armed Forces, John McCain, and the real estate promoter and main candidate for nomination, Donald Trump.

At the end of July, General Allen was invited to the Aspen Security Forum. There he met journalists from the New York Times to whom he secretly confided that he had reached an agreement with Turkey to create a safety zone in northern Syria. Astounded by this decision, which violates the United Nations charter, Eric Schmitt decided to dedicate the front page of his newspaper to it [1]. However, after a few days of contradictory public announcements, Washington and Ankara denied the story [2]. Immediately afterwards, the White House clarified its position : the priority is the fight against Daesh. In this fight, they are allied with the « moderate Syrian rebels » and also the YPG (a Marxist-Leninist Kurdish group) - consequently, although Turkey was authorised to attack the Turkish branch of the organisation, it was asked not to attack these groups [3].

On the 29th July, the « army » of sixty CIA-trained « moderate Syrian rebels » entered Syrian territory to ground-mark Daesh positions for Coalition bombers. But al-Qaïda had been informed, and attacked the « rebels », taking twenty prisoners including their chief, Colonel Nadim Hassan. They could only have been betrayed by the US army.

Although Turkey was at first the prime suspect, suspicion was transferred to the United States after vehement denegations by the Interim Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu [4]. And who else in the US army could it have been, except for General Allen’s group ?

General Allen’s manœuvres first of all provoked a serious incident between the Pentagon and the Turkish army. The Turkish liaison officer to the CAOC (Combined Air and Space Operations Center) issued warning only ten minutes before the raid in Iraq, thus endangering both the Kurdish trainee soldiers and their US instructors, who were present in the area [5]. The path chosen by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, should the AKP stay in power, could lead to a partial breakdown in relations between Washington and Ankara [6].

Above all, these incidents led the Pentagon to ask CentCom to check the allegations - which are wide-spread in the Near East – claiming that the Coalition is not bombing Daesh, but on the contrary, supporting it. This was also the moment chosen by the Defense Intelligence Agency to denounce the fudging of CentCom reports [7]. It seems that CentCom is commanded by another ex-collaborator of General David Petraeus, General Lloyd James Austin III.

The Feltman group

Obama’s other problem is the United Nations General Secretariat. While it is difficult to know to which movement Ban Ki-moon belongs, since he is too busy making money from his position, the same is not true of his Deputy Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman.

Before becoming an international civil servant, he was a United States ambassador, specialising progressively in the Near East. In particular, he was posted to Israël, Iraq (where he administered for the Kurdish party) and Lebanon (where he imposed his ideas on the Siniora government ). He enjoyed a rare relation of confidence with the Secretary of State of the time, Condoleezza Rice, with whom he shared a weekly video-conference, and then was nominated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to work with Rice in Washington and supervise all policies touching the Near East.

Jeffrey Feltman organised the 2005 assassination of the ex-Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafic Hariri, then Detlev Mehlis’s Inquiry Commission, and then the creation of the Special International Tribunal for Lebanon. This hybrid structure was formed to convict the Presidents of Lebanon and Syria, Emile Lahoud and Bachar el-Assad, on the basis of paid, false testimony, but the accusations collapsed once the truth was known. Mr. Feltman continues to work against Syria and Iran in his new post.

Arriving at the United Nation just before the Geneva Conference 1 on Syria, Feltman did his best to sabotage the agreement between his country and Russia, and joined the Petraeus group to push France into re-starting the war. He drew up a plan for the total and unconditional surrender of the Syrian Arab Republic. The sovereignty of the Syrian People must be abolished ; the Constitution must be revoked ; the President must be relieved of his duties ; the Peoples’ Assembly must be dissolved ; 120 Syrian leaders must be arrested and judged and convicted ; the Direction of Military Intelligence, the Direction of Political Security and the Direction of General Security must be decapitated or dissolved ; the « political prisoners » must be freed and the anti-terrorist courses must be stopped.

After the failure of the Lakhdar Brahimi’s mission, Feltman asked Ban Ki-moon to nominate the Italian Steffan De Misruta as his representative in Syria. He had met this elegant diplomat in Iraq, and forged close ties with him during their missions in Lebanon. De Mistura had also frequently met with Petraeus and Allen during his mission as a representative of the General Secretary of the United Nations in Afghanistan.

From then on, while meeting the different parties in the conflict with bountiful smiles, Stefan De Mistura buckled down to imposing Feltman’s surprise plan for Syria. On the 29th July, 2015, with Ban Ki-moon, he presented the broad outlines of his « peace » plan to the Security Council, but neither of them provided the slightest written text [8]. They politely asked the Security Council to push the protagonists to sign an Interim Agreement, then left them to deal with it. In reality, the agreement was intended to withdraw the Council’s prerogatives, to force the Syrian Arab Republic to sign a vague text which would have allowed NATO to occupy Syria, and authorised Messrs. De Mistura, Feltman and Ban to organise her capitulation according to the process elaborated in 2012 by Feltman.

This skillful manœuvre almost worked, because on the 17th August, the Security Council adopted a strange declaration (not a resolution) of support for Stefan De Mistura [9]. Contrary to all practices, the text was first of all discussed in private by the five permanent powers. Russia, worried that something was being prepared in secret, decided to vote « yes ». It feared that Washington may be preparing an action out of the bounds of the Security Council and International Law. However, the Venezuelan ambassador Rafael Ramírez, who been kept absent from the writing of the declaration, cautiously raised two objections : first of all, the Geneva Communiqué 1 [10], which is supported by everyone, in fact violates the United Nations Charter ; secondly, it’s not enough to declare that you are fighting terrorism, you must also help the Syrian Arab Republic in their fight against al-Qaïda and Daesh. You must stop indirectly supplying these organisations with arms, and stop creating and activating pseudo-rebel groups.

So it was an old companion of Hugo Chávez, not the Allies, who was on the same wavelength as President Barack Obama.

  • Published in Specials

Kerry arrives in Cuba on historic trip

Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cuba Friday on a historic visit to raise the American flag over the newly reopened US embassy, cementing Washington's rapprochement with Havana.

The whirlwind one-day trip is the first visit to the communist island by a US secretary of state since 1945.

 

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Cuba-USA, One Step Ahead and Still Much to Do

The agreement announced to reestablish diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba is a step forward, but is just the beginning of a complex process towards bilateral normalization of relations, experts and media outlets agreed in saying.

This assertion has been admitted by officials from both countries, during successive round of talks in their respective capitals that were good to reach the agreement confirmed by Cuban President Raul Castro and his US peer Barack Obama.

The governments of both countries told the world on July 1 that they would reestablish those relations immediately and would open later, within a reasonable period the respective embassies in Havana and Washington.

According to the newspaper The Wall Street Journal, this was a significant victory to Obama, who had supported the reestablishment of the relations with Cuba since his presidential campaign in 2008.

As it was planned, the embassies would be the same buildings that are currently used as Interest Sections in the two countries, which would stop working with that special status, granted since they were established in September, 1977, during President James Carter's Administration (1977-1981).

The panorama between both neighboring countries had a turning point on December 17, when Cuban President and his US peer reported the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations after negotiations for several months with that goal.

Despite the steps taken in that direction in recent months, what Havana considers the main hindrance to the normalization of relations, being the economic, trade and financial blockade, is still in force and has caused damage for more than $1 trillion and $112.5 billion USD to the Cuban people. The demand that the United States returns to Cuba the territory illegally occupied by Guantanamo naval base, located in the eastern end of the island, is included in the list of pending issues.

Besides, the Caribbean nation is demanding to stop the illegal radio and television Marti broadcasts, because they violate the national sovereignty and are in contradiction with important international agreements in the area of telecommunications.

Washington has among its priorities, the "normal" work by its diplomatic officials in Havana, something that both sides have agreed that should be based on the premises of the Vienna Convention and the United Nations Charter.

In numerous occasions, the Cuban authorities have denounced activities they call subversive by officials of the US Interest Section in Havana.

To the United States, it is also important to discuss the issues of compensations for the properties nationalized at the beginning of the Revolution led by Fidel Castro, and Havana ratified its willingness to discuss this and any other issue of bilateral interest.

Cuba is also demanding that the programs aimed at fostering internal subversion and destabilization and that the Cuban people are compensated for the human and economic damage caused by the US policies.

The recent exclusion of the Caribbean island from the list of nations that according to Washington are sponsoring terrorism was outstanding as part of the progress made since December 17, announced on May 29 by the US State Department.

The decision was ratified on June 4, with the publication of the text in the Federal Register, a sort of official daily publication by the US Government, little less than a week after the State Department reported the expiry of the 45-day deadline for the Congress to make a statement on the issue.

Another step in the same direction was reestablishment of bank services of the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, an essential aspect to the normal development of the office's activities.

In that context, legislators that came to Cuba in recent weeks agreed in saying that there was bipartisan consensus in favor of lifting the unilateral sanctions.

It was expressed by the emeritus temporary president of the Senate, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy in a media conference at the hotel Saratoga in Havana, accompanied by his fellow Democrat Benjamin Cardin and Republican Dean Heller.

According to Leahy, just a small minority at the Capitol supports keeping the blockade and an overwhelming majority of the US people favors rapprochement between the two neighboring nations.

A similar opinion was also expressed here before by his fellow Democrat Tom Udall, who asserted that even in the Senatorial Committee of Foreign Affairs, there was consensus about the need to eliminate the punitive measures against Havana, although there was still much to do to change that desire into concrete actions.

Udall co-sponsors, together with Republicans Jeff Flake and Mike Enzi, as well as Democrat Dick Durban, a bill presented in the middle of May, aimed at fostering communication business by US companies in Cuba.

With the explicit goal of making more complex the path to normalization of the bilateral relations, ultra-right sectors in the US Congress presented bills aimed at neutralizing the White House initiatives and increasing the funds for subversion in the Caribbean island.

However, President Obama warned that he was willing to veto these measures related to Cuba, because they tackle foreign policy issues that are mostly the Executive's prerogative.

These maneuvers were supported by Senator Marco Rubio, nominee to the elections in November 2016, who sponsors a proposal in the Senate, similar to that by the House to ban financial transactions with specific Cuban companies or entities.

Rubio's initiatives include a recent bill to try to establish a series of requirements to comply with in the supposed case that Obama decided to return to Cuba the territory occupied by Guantanamo naval base.

The president himself, in his speech at the White House, request that the congress lifted the blockade against Cuba and criticized those in the Capitol that are trying to keep a policy that failed in the last 50 years and was counterproductive to the United States.

White House Takes 2 Years to Reply to Snowden Pardon Petition

President Obama’s administration will not pardon whistleblower Edward Snowden, in spite of the 167,954 signatures gathered.

 The White House has finally replied to a petition demanding the pardoning of whistleblower Edward Snowden, which has been circulating for more than two years when he left the United States. In spite of the 167,954 signatures, U.S. authorities posted a wholly negative response.

In 2013, the former NSA contractor leaked documents about the U.S. government's mass surveillance programs.

In addition, he revealed that Washington has been collecting the phone records of millions of U.S. and foreign nationals, as well as political leaders from around the world.

Snowden now lives in Moscow, having been granted political asylum by Russia.

U.S. presidential advisor on homeland security and counterterrorism, Lisa Monaco, dismissed the petition’s demand this week for Snowden to be “issued a a full, free, and absolute pardon,” saying, “He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers.”

“Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it,” reads the reply.

 “If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and – importantly – accept the consequences of his actions.”

U.S. federal prosecutors have accused Snowden of espionage. He fled his country, and Russia granted him political asylum, where he currently resides in Moscow. Last month, the White House said Snowden must still face prosecution, despite the expiration of the surveillance program under the Patriot Act.

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