Connect with us
//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});

Latest

Talk of war crimes prosecutions against Russia is empty bluster

Western threats to bring war crimes charges against Syria and Russia because of the bombing in Aleppo are neither factually founded nor legally possible because of fundamental jurisdictional issues.

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

Amidst the din of the media campaign against Russian actions in Aleppo, one of the most specious and cynical threats made against the Russians and Syrians is that they might one day face prosecution on war crimes charges.

There is no legal basis for these threats, and the Western political leaders and media commentators who make them know this.

Firstly the Russian and Syrian bombing of eastern Aleppo is almost certainly not a war crime. 

Western claims that the Russians and the Syrians have been deliberately targeting civilians,  hospitals, other medical facilities, and schools, are fiercely disputed and are almost certainly untrue. 

President Assad in a recent interview with Associated Press pointed out that there is no conceivable political and military interest in them doing it, and that no one has ever provided one.  Here is what Assad had to say about it

“We don’t attack any hospital. Again, as I said, this is against our interests. If you put aside the morals, that we do not do it morally, if I put it aside, I am talking about now, let’s say, the ends justify the means, if I want to use it, we don’t have interest. This is how we can help the terrorists if we attack hospitals, schools, and things like this. Of course, whenever you have a war, the civilians and the innocents will pay the price. That’s in any war, any war is a bad war. There is no good war. In any war, people will pay the price, but I’m talking about the policy of the government, of the army; we don’t attack any hospital. We don’t have any interest in attacking hospitals.”

(bold italics added)

What Assad is saying is even if the Syrian military were conducting the war in a completely ruthless ‘end justifies the means’ way, there would be no conceivable reason to attack “hospitals, schools, and things like this” because the only ones who would benefit would be the Jihadis  

Assad is obviously right.  As he says, the only people who would benefit if the Syrian or the Russian militaries deliberately bombed “hospitals, schools, and things like this” would indeed be the Jihadis.  That makes it all but inconceivable the Syrian and the Russian militaries are doing it. 

Assad’s point is in fact so obviously right that as the transcript of the interview shows his interviewers from Associated Press had no rejoinder to it.  Instead they changed the subject to the White Helmets and whether Assad supported awarding them the Nobel Peace Prize.

It is overwhelmingly likely that the Syrian and Russian militaries in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, when they carry out bombing, are targeting the Jihadis they are fighting.  Any hospitals, schools or civilians in Aleppo or elsewhere that get bombed in the process are almost certainly bombed by mistake.  That is the only thing that makes sense.

If the bombing of hospitals and schools and the killing of civilians is a tragic but unintended by-product of a war fought against a savage and ruthless enemy – as Assad says – then no war crime has been committed, and the question of a war crimes prosecution does or should not arise.

Beyond this fundamental issue of fact, there is also a fundamental issue of jurisdiction. 

The International Criminal Court, the only international court with a broad international jurisdiction to try cases of war crimes, only has jurisdiction to try prosecutions of nationals of states which have either ratified the Rome Statute or been referred to the International Criminal Court by the UN Security Council. 

Neither Russia nor Syria have ratified the Rome Statute.  Nor is there any possibility that Russia would ever agree that the UN Security Council refer either Syrian citizens or its own citizens to the International Criminal Court.

That means that the International Criminal Court has no jurisdiction to hear war crimes prosecutions against Russia or Syria either in connection to what is happening in Aleppo or anywhere else in Syria.  Any talk that it does is nonsense.

There have been some suggestions that prosecutions against Syrians or Russians for war crimes might be brought in the national courts of some Western states.  The problems with doing that are however practically insuperable.

The appropriate national courts to hear such prosecutions for war crimes committed on Syrian territory would in fact be those of Syria on whose territory the war is being fought.  That could of course only happen if the Syrian government were overthrown and replaced by a pro-Western one. 

Short of an all-out war between Russia, Syria and the Western powers, that no longer looks likely to happen.  If it did there would be far more serious things to worry about than war crimes trials.

Some Western commentators have pointed out that certain Western countries have claimed what are known as ‘universal jurisdictions’ for certain crimes, which means that they able to prosecute these crimes in their own courts even if they have taken place in some other country. 

This is a deeply contentious topic, with no full international consensus of which crimes can be prosecuted in this way.  By way of example, Germany permits prosecutions for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, by its courts wherever they are committed; France for torture, terrorism, nuclear smuggling, naval piracy and airplane hijacking; and Britain for sexual offences against children, certain crimes of fraud and dishonesty, terrorism and bribery. 

The United States, in keeping with its claim to be the ‘exceptional country’, is increasingly behaving as if its courts have universal jurisdiction over every crime in every country, though it has never gone quite so far as to say it.

There is however no realistic possibility of Syrian or Russian nationals being tried in this way.  The reasons for this are practical even more than legal.

In order to be tried on war crimes charges before the courts of some Western country, these Syrian and Russian nationals would first have to be arrested and brought to this country, either by being arrested whilst travelling in the country (as General Pinochet famously was when he was travelling in Britain) or because they had been arrested in some other country and extradited from it to the country, or (as Adolf Eichmann was) because they had been kidnapped and brought to the country by force.

These sort of things nowadays actually happen fairly regularly, including to Russian citizens.  However it beggars belief they would happen in this case because of the appallingly dangerous precedent it would set. 

The Western powers – notably the US, Britain, France and Israel – have been involved in far more wars than Syria or Russia.  If it became the practice to snatch Syrian or (especially) Russian citizens whilst they were travelling abroad to bring them before Western courts on war crimes charges, then the Russian before long would surely start to retaliate by doing the same thing to Western citizens. 

With far more Western citizens involved in foreign wars and travelling abroad than Russians, this would create a potential game of tit for tat the Western powers could never win.  That fact alone puts this whole idea of prosecuting Russians (and probably Syrians) in Western courts out of contention.

The simple fact is that short of achieving regime change in Moscow there is no way the Western powers could put their threats of war crimes prosecutions against the Syrians and Russians into effect.  Despite empty gestures like the recent vote by a bare majority of states in the UN Human Rights Council to investigate alleged war crimes in Aleppo, the Western powers of course know this.

Since the Western powers know that there is no possibility of Syrians or Russians being prosecuted for war crimes, why are they talking as if it might happen?  The short answer is because it forms part of their propaganda campaign against the military campaign the Syrians and the Russians are waging to crush the Jihadis in Aleppo. 

Whilst the Russians of course knows this and are not going to be deterred or impressed by it (Putin has called it “political rhetoric that does not have great significance”) the cynicism involved in pretending to threaten something which will never happen is still startling.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement //pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

Is this man the puppet master of Ukraine’s new president or an overhyped bogeyman?

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

RT

Published

on

By

Via RT…


It doesn’t actually matter if Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Igor Kolomoisky is the real power behind Volodymyr Zelensky – the president elect has to get rid of the oligarch if he is to make a break with the country’s corrupt past.

The plots, deceits and conflicts of interest in Ukrainian politics are so transparent and hyperbolic, that to say that novice politician Zelensky was a protégé of his long-time employer was not something that required months of local investigative journalism – it was just out there.

Zelensky’s comedy troupe has been on Kolomoisky’s top-rated channel for the past eight years, and his media asset spent every possible resource promoting the contender against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, a personal enemy of the tycoon, who hasn’t even risked entering Ukraine in the past months.

Similarly, the millions and the nous needed to run a presidential campaign in a country of nearly 50 million people had to come from somewhere, and Kolomoisky’s lieutenants were said to be in all key posts. The two issued half-hearted denials that one was a frontman for the other, insisting that they were business partners with a cordial working relationship, but voters had to take their word for it.

Now that the supposed scheme has paid off with Zelensky’s spectacular victory in Sunday’s run-off, Ukrainian voters are asking: what does Kolomoisky want now, and will he be allowed to run the show?

‘One-of-a-kind chancer’

Born in 1963, in a family of two Jewish engineers, Kolomoisky is the type of businessman that was once the staple of the post-Soviet public sphere, but represents a dying breed.

That is, he is not an entrepreneur in the established Western sense at all – he did not go from a Soviet bloc apartment to Lake Geneva villas by inventing a new product, or even setting up an efficient business structure in an existing field.

Rather he is an opportunist who got wealthy by skilfully reading trends as the Soviet economy opened up – selling Western-made computers in the late 1980s – and later when independent Ukraine transitioned to a market economy and Kolomoisky managed to get his hands on a large amount of privatisation vouchers that put many of the juiciest local metals and energy concerns into his hands, which he then modernised.

What he possesses is a chutzpah and unscrupulousness that is rare even among his peers. Vladimir Putin once called him a “one-of-a-kind chancer” who managed to “swindle [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovich himself.” In the perma-chaos of Ukrainian law and politics, where all moves are always on the table, his tactical acumen has got him ahead.

Kolomoisky’s lifeblood is connections and power rather than any pure profit on the balance sheet, though no one actually knows how that would read, as the Privat Group he part-owns is reported to own over 100 businesses in dozens of Ukrainian spheres through a complex network of offshore companies and obscure intermediaries (“There is no Privat Group, it is a media confection,” the oligarch himself says, straight-faced.)

Unsurprisingly, he has been dabbling in politics for decades, particularly following the first Orange Revolution in 2004. Though the vehicles for his support have not been noted for a particular ideological consistency – in reportedly backing Viktor Yushchenko, then Yulia Tymoshenko, he was merely putting his millions on what he thought would be a winning horse.

Grasp exceeds reach

But at some point in the post-Maidan euphoria, Kolomoisky’s narcissism got the better of him, and he accepted a post as the governor of his home region of Dnepropetrovsk, in 2014.

The qualities that might have made him a tolerable rogue on TV, began to grate in a more official role. From his penchant for using the political arena to settle his business disputes, to creating his own paramilitary force by sponsoring anti-Russian battalions out of his own pocket, to his somewhat charmless habit of grilling and threatening to put in prison those less powerful than him in fits of pique (“You wait for me out here like a wife for a cheating husband,” begins a viral expletive-strewn rant against an overwhelmed Radio Free Europe reporter).

There is a temptation here for a comparison with a Donald Trump given a developing country to play with, but for all of the shenanigans, his ideological views have always been relatively straightforward. Despite his Russia-loathing patriotism, not even his fans know what Kolomoisky stands for.

The oligarch fell out with fellow billionaire Poroshenko in early 2015, following a battle over the control of a large oil transport company between the state and the governor. The following year, his Privat Bank, which at one point handled one in four financial transactions in the country was nationalized, though the government said that Kolomoisky had turned it into a mere shell by giving $5 billion of its savings to Privat Group companies.

Other significant assets were seized, the government took to London to launch a case against his international companies, and though never banished, Kolomoisky himself decided it would be safer if he spent as long as necessary jetting between his adopted homes in Switzerland and Tel Aviv, with the occasional trip to London for the foreseeable future.

But the adventurer falls – and rises again. The London case has been dropped due to lack of jurisdiction, and only last week a ruling came shockingly overturning the three-year-old nationalization of Privat Bank.

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

Own man

Zelensky must disabuse him of that notion.

It doesn’t matter that they are friends. Or what handshake agreements they made beforehand. Or that he travelled to Geneva and Tel-Aviv 13 times in the past two years. Or what kompromat Kolomoisky may or may not have on him. It doesn’t matter that his head of security is the man who, for years, guarded the oligarch, and that he may quite genuinely fear for his own safety (it’s not like nothing bad has ever happened to Ukrainian presidents).

Volodymyr Zelensky is now the leader of a large country, with the backing of 13.5 million voters. It is to them that he promised a break with past bribery, graft and cronyism. Even by tolerating one man – and one who makes Poroshenko look wholesome – next to him, he discredits all of that. He will have the support of the people if he pits himself against the puppet master – no one would have elected Kolomoisky in his stead.

Whether the oligarch is told to stay away, whether Ukraine enables the financial fraud investigation into him that has been opened by the FBI, or if he is just treated to the letter of the law, all will be good enough. This is the first and main test, and millions who were prepared to accept the legal fiction of the independent candidate two months ago, will now want to see reality to match. Zelensky’s TV president protagonist in Servant of the People – also broadcast by Kolomoisky’s channel, obviously, would never have compromised like that.

What hinges on this is not just the fate of Zelensky’s presidency, but the chance for Ukraine to restore battered faith in its democracy shaken by a succession of compromised failures at the helm.

Igor Ogorodnev

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Roger Waters – The People’s Champion for Freedom

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there.

Richard Galustian

Published

on

Submitted by Richard Galustian 

Roger Waters is one of Britain’s most successful and talented musicians and composers but more importantly is an outstanding champion for freedom in the world, beyond compare to any other artist turned political activist.

By way of background, he co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965.

A landmark turning point of his political activism occurred in 1990, when Waters staged probably the largest rock concert in history, ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin’, with an attendance of nearly half a million people.

In more recent years Waters famously narrated the 2016 documentary ‘The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States’ about the insidious influence of Zionist Israel to shape American public opinion.

Waters has been an outspoken critic of America’s Neocons and particularly Donald Trump and his policies.

In 2017, Waters condemned Trump’s plan to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico, saying that his band’s iconic famous song, ‘The Wall’ is as he put it “very relevant now with Mr. Trump and all of this talk of building walls and creating as much enmity as possible between races and religions.”

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there, or any place else for that matter.

Here below is a must see recent Roger Waters interview, via satellite from New York, where he speaks brilliantly, succinctly and honestly, unlike no other celebrity, about FREEDOM and the related issues of the day.

The only other artist turned activist, but purely for human rights reasons, as she is apolitical, is the incredible Carla Ortiz.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

ISIS Says Behind Sri Lanka Bombings; Was ‘Retaliation’ For New Zealand Mosque Massacre

ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. 

Avatar

Published

on

Via Zerohedge…


Shortly after the death toll from Sunday’s Easter bombings in Sri Lanka climbed above the 300 mark, ISIS validated the Sri Lankan government’s suspicions that a domestic jihadi organization had help from an international terror network while planning the bombings were validated when ISIS took credit for the attacks.

The claim was made via a report from ISIS’s Amaq news agency. Though the group has lost almost all of the territory that was once part of its transnational caliphate, ISIS now boasts cells across the Muslim world, including in North Africa and elsewhere. Before ISIS took credit for the attack, a Sri Lankan official revealed that Sunday’s attacks were intended as retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims during last month’s mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

However, the Sri Lankan government didn’t offer any evidence for that claim, or the claim that Sunday’s attacks were planned by two Islamic groups (though that now appears to have been substantiated by ISIS’s claim of responsibility). The group is believed to have worked with the National Tawheed Jamaath, according to the NYT.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told the Parliament.

Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the attacks had increased to 40 from 24 as of Tuesday. The government had declared a national emergency that allowed it sweeping powers to interrogate and detain suspects.

On Monday, the FBI pledged to send agents to Sri Lanka and provide laboratory support for the investigation.

As the death toll in Sri Lanka climbs, the attack is cementing its position as the deadliest terror attack in the region.

  • 321 (as of now): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
  • 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
  • 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
  • 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
  • 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018

Meanwhile, funeral services for some of the bombing victims began on Tuesday.

Even before ISIS took credit for the attack, analysts told the Washington Post that its unprecedented violence suggested that a well-financed international organization was likely involved.

The bombings on Sunday, however, came with little precedent. Sri Lanka may have endured a ghastly civil war and suicide bombings in the past – some credit the Tamil Tigers with pioneering the tactic – but nothing of this scale. Analysts were stunned by the apparent level of coordination behind the strikes, which occurred around the same time on both sides of the country, and suggested the attacks carried the hallmarks of a more international plot.

“Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attack – coordinated, multiple, high-casualty – ever before, even with the Tamil Tigers during the course of a brutal civil war,” Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka expert at the International Crisis Group, told the Financial Times. “I’m not really convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame.”

Hinting at possible ISIS involvement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Monday press conference that “radical Islamic terror” remained a threat even after ISIS’s defeats in Syria.

Of course, ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. The extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization.

Speculation that the government had advanced warning of the attacks, but failed to act amid a power struggle between the country’s president and prime minister, unnerved citizens and contributed to a brewing backlash. Following the bombings, schools and mass had been canceled until at least Monday, with masses called off “until further notice.”

 

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Videos

Trending