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OPINION: Unjust Sanctions and Double Standards of the West

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Sanctions by the US, EU & UK are brutal in that they bring misery to the innocent people and spare no mercy for anyone, including the kids, the sick, and the old. The terror of western sanctions on masses of countries from Russia to Iran is inhumane. 

If mainstream western media had a tiny bit of integrity, they would have been just instead of following “might is right.” Chilcot’s report on the West’s Iraq fiasco should have been the front-page news. A country was torn to pieces, only to know later that the reasons the US and its allies gave were never there in reality, why the politicians who destroyed a nation were never brought to justice. 

US invasion of Iraq caused around 200,000 civilian deaths. 

Chilcot report says: “We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted.”

So why are we now too quick to sanction Russia for doing something which the US & Europe have also done. 

The UK and its citizens were never sanctioned, and Tony Blair was never charged with war crimes. Why were yachts of the British rich not confiscated? 

US invasion of Iraq caused around 200,000 civilian deaths. US war in Afghanistan caused 46,000 civilian deaths. Why were no sanctions put on the US? 

Where is the justice in putting sanctions on Iran? The very countries doing this have the most significant stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Is there a limit to the hypocrisy of these ‘great’ nations? 

The US and its allies have fought many more wars than Russia without facing any sanctions. 

Russia has invaded one country to face the wrath of the West with crippling sanctions which punish the people and civilians who are innocent. What logic is there in putting thousands of sanctions on Russia? People like us, who have all the needs precisely like us, are being pushed into ever-increasing poverty. 

Russia has now become the most sanctioned country in the world. Why are these blind sanctions put on individuals & companies? 

Let’s put a glance at the most sanctioned nations around the globe. 

  1. Russia 

Russia is subjected to around 6,000 crippling restrictions. Surprisingly European nations have led the way in this unholy approach. Bombardment of sanctions on Russia and everything Russian has been so quick and unjust, the likes of which have never been seen in history. 

Former US Treasury Department official Peter Piatetsky rightly called these sanctions “a financial nuclear war and the largest event in history.”

Could this financial nuclear war turn into a real one? History tells us that it may be the case. The fact that President Putin’s daughters are being targeted beggars belief. What have they done to deserve this? Have families of any western leaders ever been targeted in this manner? 

  • Iran

A country that supported the world with its oil exports is being punished with 3,616 unjust sanctions for aspiring to have nuclear energy. Whatever happened to justice?

Why is the West so selective in affording rights to other countries? Is progress only required by the Europeans or Americans? Haven’t they made mistakes or blunders? Why are they not punished? 

  • Syria

Innocent Syrian people face a brutal war, and the US, UK & EU, instead of helping the helpless, have imposed 2,608 sanctions. Are the US & Europe the champions of human rights? 

The medical journal, The Lancet recently said, “blunt bilateral instruments, which have not been approved by the UN Security Council and have been opposed by the UN Commission on Human Rights, imposed on Syria in the unsupported belief that they will hasten regime change, have seriously impeded the country’s ability to cope with the pandemic… The Syrian health system, already fractured by years of conflict, is being further destroyed by sanctions.”

  • North Korea 

It is not far behind, with around 2,077 sanctions on the hermit nation. Individuals and companies are not spared from the punishment. What wrong have poor North Koreans committed?

Is it a crime for a child to be born in North Korea? 

  • Venezuela 

The US put sanctions on Venezuela in 2019. The restrictions targeted businesses and entities associated with the government of Nicolas Maduro. The economic situation of the country has severely deteriorated after the 651 sanctions. Once again, the innocent & poor people have to face the full brunt of these unjust measures.

  • Myanmar

The US, the UK, and Canada imposed sanctions on the country last month. Castellum data shows that Myanmar had 510 sanctions against it, but the list seems to have grown recently. 

  • Cuba

The Caribbean island-nation has been under 208 US sanctions for more than 60 years, impacting every aspect of life on the island. Washington has put severe punitive measures on Cuba, affecting companies and banks, and sanctions on Cuba are America’s longest-running boycott.  

To sum it all up, I find no better words than those of an innocent child. 

A 16-year-old Syrian girl shows us the whole ‘sanction’ evil in a way no western media dares to show. She pleads to the world; alas, there is no one to listen:

“We are now facing economic problems because of the United States because America has steadily applied economic and financial pressure against us in Syria, and the European Community has renewed economic sanctions against us.

Most countries have stopped giving us food and medicine.

Our oil is stolen under our noses, and we cannot say anything about it.

Our fields are burned by drones that destroy what our daily bread should be.

The Syrian people are suffering from hunger.

Now our food prices have gone up 5 or 7 times.

People are selling their kidneys to get money. There are many cases of suicide.

There is a distorted view of our country through the lies of the media because they do not want the people from around the world to know the truth.

Syrian lives matter too.

Stop the sanctions on Syria.

Syria needs your help, and Syria needs your voice.

Pray for Syria and let our voices be heard.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Economics

America stands with Taiwan: Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan amid tensions with China

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday, 2nd August despite the strained relationship between Taiwan and China. As a result, the tension between China and the US has also increased.

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America stands with Taiwan: Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan amid tensions with China

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday, 2nd August despite the strained relationship between Taiwan and China. As a result, the tension between China and the US has also increased.

China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory but Taiwan asserts its independence as a self-governing island. Thus China/Taiwan and international relations are very delicate.  If the island is visited by another nation like the US, it suggests a certain recognition of Taiwanese sovereignty. The US does not currently officially recognize Taiwan as an independent country but is still required to help the country defend itself if necessary. 

Before Pelosi’s trip to Asia, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian already warned, “There will be serious consequences if she insists on making the visit [to Taiwan],” but he did not spell out any specific consequences.  “The People’s Liberation Army [PLA] will never sit idly by. China will take strong and resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added. 

As soon as Pelosi visited the island, she tweeted, “Our visit reiterates that America stands with Taiwan: a robust, vibrant democracy and our important partner in the Indo-Pacific.”

In retaliation, Lijian stated, “This will definitely not have a good outcome … the exposure of America’s bullying face again shows it as the world’s biggest saboteur of peace.”

Shortly before her visit, Chinese Su-35 jets crossed the Taiwan Strait, a river bordering the Island with China, with no distinct purpose. Similarly, on the day that Pelosi landed, unidentified hackers cyberattacked the Taiwanese Presidential official website so it could not be accessed. Clearly rattled after her visit, China held its biggest-ever show of military force in the air and seas around Taiwan, which included the firing of ballistic missiles.

Ross Feingold, a Taipei-based political analyst, and lawyer told Al Jazeera that this kind of antagonistic behaviour by China after the visit could be a one-off event but it could also “become part of a sustained pattern of aggression.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

US Operations in Afghanistan and Beyond: A threat to locals

The assassination of Ayman Al- Zawahiri through a drone attack shows the US has still not given up on its operations in Afghanistan.

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US operations in Afghanistan and beyond: a threat to locals

The assassination of Ayman Al- Zawahiri through a drone attack shows that US operation in Afghanistan have still not ended. 

The Al- Qaeda leader, wanted for his role in various terrorist attacks around the world and in the US, has not only left an empty place for a future successor but has also opened a place for the Taliban to calculate their moves against the US and the groups within the country. 

The Twitter feeds of Afghan journalists are filled with various videos of clashes between Taliban militants and the Islamic States sympathizers of Khorasan Province (ISKP). The clashes have resulted from the former group’s attack on Shia gatherings and busses that has caused numerous casualties. These videos containing several graphic scenes of blood and bodies are just an insight into the state of Afghanistan after a year of America abandoning it in the hands of the Afghan Taliban. 

            Since the United States removed its forces from Afghanistan after 2 decades of controlling the country’s borders and shifting the political and social dynamics of the region, the country has been struggling to regain its identity and strength. While the Taliban forces are trying to imitate governance with an Islamic rule in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, extremist groups from the inside of the country are becoming a challenge for them. ISKP has already claimed the lives of more than 300 people between January 2020 and July 2021. The casualties from the Kabul airport attack and the recent attacks on Shia groups in the Holy month of Muharram hike the number up to around 600.

            The recent killing of Al- Qaeda’s leader Ayman al Zawahiri in a drone attack orchestrated by the US in Kabul has further fueled the unrest. Zawahiri, who was leading Al-Qaeda’s operations since the killing of Osama Bin Laden, had been on the United State’s wanted list for years. His involvement in the infamous 9/11 plans had put a bounty of 25 million dollars on his head. The attack through which according to the US “justice has been delivered,”, has been called a violation of the Doha pact signed between the Taliban and US officials in 2020. While Al-Qaeda is deciding on a new leader, the group is also being prompted to respond to this loss. Several statements from ISKP’s telegram have been made to frame the Taliban for assistance in the attack, mocking the apparent alliance between Al-Qaeda and The Taliban forces. 

            The situation in Afghanistan keeps getting worse but it appears that America is using the savior narrative, to explain the US operations in Afghanistan, for its people to distract from the bigger changes that are taking place in the dynamics of foreign affairs, seeming to be a threat to locals. The narrative that aided its involvement in Iraq, sanctions on Iran, and 20 years long control over Afghanistan have not bore any fruitful results, but rather have overturned the sociological and international stature of the region. 

US President Biden, in his remarks on the attack, assured the people of America of their safety and security, “We will always remain vigilant, and we will act.  And we will always do what is necessary to ensure the safety and security of Americans at home and around the globe.”

In the meantime, the US continues aid to Ukraine against Russia, and its visit to Taiwan amid growing tensions between China and Taiwan is signaling a threat that is potentially greater than Al-Qaeda. 

As Biden pledges to “continue to conduct effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond”, it remains unclear how the US plans to address the impact of these operations on the lives of the people in Afghanistan and beyond where people are already living under a threat of a humanitarian crisis. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

China Threatens Consequences if Pelosi Visits Taiwan

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  • US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has landed inTaiwan. Prior to the visit, China’s Foreign Ministry has voiced their disapproval, stating that “China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized in response  that “The speaker will make her own decisions about whether or not to visit Taiwan,” and that the US is looking to Beijing to “act responsibly and not to engage in any escalation going forward.”
  • The US has made it clear that members of Congress routinely visit Taiwan and that this trip is non-threatening and has precedent. Even so, some officials have expressed concern that China may invade Taiwan’s air defense zone or send missiles near Taiwan in retaliation.
  • Pelosi has criticized China’s leadership and vocalized support for Taiwan in the past. She is currently on her tour of Asia, with scheduled visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

First Grain Ship Departs Ukraine After Six Months of Russian Blockade

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  • The first shipment of grain departed the port of Odesa on Monday after Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports for the last six months trapped around 20 million metric tons of wheat and corn.
  • Russia recently made a deal with Ukraine, brokered by the UN and Turkey, allowing grain exports to resume, appeasing fears of a global food supply crisis and rising prices.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba celebrated the shipment, calling it a “day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.”
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was more hesitant to celebrate the shipment, stating “it is too early to draw any conclusions and make any forecasts” and he wants to “see how the agreement works and whether security will be really guaranteed.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Economics

‘Don’t forget them’: millions of Afghans face hunger, economic crisis 

International aid workers share stories of children and families struggling to make ends meet

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“Winter is coming.”

That’s how Ammar Ammar, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Afghanistan, describes the situation in Afghanistan. The current hunger crisis, the result of a collapsing economy and drought, will only get worse if the country doesn’t get help, he says, especially in the colder months when people also have to stay warm.

“It’s not Game of Thrones here, it’s reality.”

Almost a year after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the world has become silent about the plight of the country and its people, who are facing one of their worst humanitarian and economic crisis in decades.

After the fall of Kabul, the international community declined to recognize the Taliban regime. Countries paused foreign aid and imposed sanctions. The United States also froze billions in Afghan state assets.

A country that had become reliant on external aid was left on its own. In the process, millions of Afghans were abandoned, too.

On a recent lunch break in Kabul, Ammar saw two girls, one about six years old and the other about three. One of them was lying down on the sidewalk, while the other was squatting next to a big nylon bag. They’d been collecting pieces of scrap metal on the streets to make ends meet. 

“You could see that they were exhausted,” Ammar said. “You are going for your break and at the same time you can see two kids on the street, where they have no break at this age. It strikes you.”

And there are thousands of children like them.

“We are doing a massive job,” Ammar says. “But the sad reality is we can’t help everyone at the end of the day.”

A woman in Qala-e-Naw, the capital of the Badghis province recently told the UN-run World Food Programme (WFP) in Kabul how she made ends meet after her husband died five years prior. 

“In the past, she said, she had a fair life, just getting by cleaning and washing for other people. After the economy collapsed, families have no money anymore to pay her and her work dried up,” said WFP spokesperson Philippe Kropf in an email. As a result, she borrows money to buy food, going further into debt.

“She told me she has not been able to buy cooking oil for weeks. She eats bread with tea and sometimes rice,” he said.

Afghanistan abandoned


A young man told Kropf that “his family went to sleep many evenings without anything to eat in the past months.”

“They borrowed food with neighbours, but increasingly the neighbours have nothing to share,” he added, noting the young man had only completed second grade and was trying to find labour jobs to make ends meet. “But these jobs are getting rarer and rarer because of the collapse of the economy, too.”

The man participated in a training program to gain skills such as tailoring or mobile phone repair to earn a livelihood. The program trains 200 men and women over six months, during which participants receive food assistance for their families. 

“After the training, (the young man) hopes to either open his own little shop, sewing clothing for men and children or to find work in a tailor shop and work for a salary,” Kropf said.

Prospects of famine remain

With the country reeling from recent droughts, and facing high inflation, a difficult situation is becoming even worse.

“For the first time, urban residents are suffering from food insecurity at similar rates to rural communities, marking the shifting face of hunger in the country,” Kropf said, noting some people are seeking help from WFP for the first time in their lives.

“The scale of the crisis in Afghanistan is immense, and needs continue to outpace available funding,” he added. The WFP needs nearly US $1 billion by the end of 2022 to help 18 million people – nearly half the population of Afghanistan.

Of that, the group urgently needs US $172 million to secure 150,000 metric tonnes of food to support 2.2 million people in remote parts of Afghanistan, which can get cut off by ice and snow in winter.

“We need these even more urgently because of the long lead-times for food commodities that we need to buy internationally,” Kropf said, including vegetable oil and specialized nutritious foods. “We need to get them into (the) country and then drive them into the mountains.”

The lack of funds in state bank accounts means civil servants aren’t being paid regularly, companies are shutting down and ordinary civilians face restricted access to their own savings.

Prospects of famine remain, said Ammar, noting that the main indicator is farming, which most people depend on to make ends meet. Farmers say climate change is resulting in less food production, resulting in extended periods when people don’t have adequate access to food.

Need for international aid

At the end of June, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit southeast Afghanistan, killing      over 1,000 people and causing damage the International Rescue Committee described as “catastrophic.”

“This earthquake is a catastrophe for the people affected, but the response to the wider crisis in Afghanistan remains a catastrophe of choice for the international community,” said David Miliband, the group’s CEO and president in a release at the time.

“While humanitarian aid has averted famine for now, policies of economic isolation, the halting of development funding, and the lack of support for Afghan civil servants are unraveling the two decades of development progress that western leaders vowed to protect.” 

He noted that families across the country face unemployment, leading to lower demand among local businesses which in turn leads to further job losses. He called for the international community to urgently provide funding to the country as well as “the phased and closely monitored unfreezing of assets.”

The question of frozen assets

Advocates for Afghanistan have criticized U.S.’s decision to freeze a portion of the country’s assets and decried a proposal for the U.S. to use some of them to support families affected by 9/11.

Afghanistan’s assets rightfully belong to Afghanistan, said Zubair Iqbal, a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington. 

However, while unfreezing the funds would help bring immediate help to alleviate Afghanistan’s crisis, the country will need more support in the long-term, said Iqbal, who previously worked at the International Monetary Fund for more than 30 years.

The solution is to grant foreign aid to Afghanistan in a sustainable way to allow recovery, while managing its spending through an independent entity, he said.

Concerns around a proposal in the U.S. to use some of the Afghan assets to support families affected by 9/11 prompted a group of Afghan women to write an open letter to U.S. President Joe Biden in February.

“Taking funds from the Afghan people is the unkindest and most inappropriate response for a country that is going through the worst humanitarian crisis in its history,” the letter reads. “It is the squeezing of a wounded hand.”

Freezing the assets from the Taliban was the right decision, said one of the signatories in an interview, but they belong to the Afghan people and must be released to address the humanitarian crisis. 

“My expectation from the international community is to put serious attention on Afghanistan,” said Roshan Mashal, former deputy director of Afghan Women’s Network, who left Afghanistan after the takeover and is now a fellow at the University of Texas at Arlington. 

She called for coordination on how countries engage with the Taliban and to support the country’s people, as millions of Afghans face hunger and economic crisis.

“Don’t forget them,” she said.


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Concerns Rise As US Teeters on the Brink of Recession

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  • The US economy declines for the second quarter in a row, causing, what other countries would consider, an economic recession. 
  • The prices for groceries, gas, and other basics are rising at the fastest pace since 1981. The US Central Bank is quickly trying to raise borrowing costs in order to cool the economy and ease the prices on goods, but with the contraction, at the annual rate of 0.9% in the 3 months to July, many are still getting concerned. 
  • President Biden struggles to convince the public that the economy is sound, with the unemployment rate at a low 3.6%. But with inflation in the US hitting 9.1% in June, the fastest price appreciation in 4 months, consumer spending has slowed at an annual rate of 1%. 
  • Many other countries, such as China and the UK, have been hit harder by the surge in energy prices and the War in Ukraine, causing risks from abroad. Other countries are facing much more serious problems and once they’re hit, their problems can spill over and affect the US. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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