domingo, 10 de fevereiro de 2019

Reality check on Lebanon's new government, Venezuela's coup and Palestine

The skies of Beirut lit up with fireworks on the 31st of January as Lebanon finally formed a government eight months after May's general election.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri will head the 30-member government and has promised to initiate urgent economic and political reforms.
In a speech, Hariri said the economy would be the new government's main challenge.
In the absence of a government, Lebanon's economy, in decline even before the elections, deteriorated further. The World Bank had previously warned that conditional loans and grants worth $11bn might be redirected if Lebanon did not form a government.
The news that a government had been formed had an immeiate, positive effect on Lebanon's sovereign dollar bonds, reported Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star.
Hariri said it was "time to turn the page" after the eight-month crisis, caused by arguments over the allocation of ministries in the cross-sectarian cabinet.
Gebran Bassil, the leader of the Christian-dominated Free Patriotic Movement, a Hezbollah ally, will retain the Foreign Ministry while Ali Hassan Khalil, from Hezbollah's Shia ally Amal, will continue as the finance minister.
Raya al-Hasan has become the first woman to hold the Interior Ministry portfolio. Three other women will also take charge of key ministries.
Despite pressure from the United States not to give Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shia armed group-cum-political movement, the Ministry of Health, the Hezbollah-affiliated Jamal Jabak has become the new health minister.
The ministry has the fourth largest budget and the US fears Hezbollah will use these funds to ease financial pressures on itself as sanctions on Iran may end of reducing support.
Hariri cedes to Hezbollah
After much wrangling, Hariri was forced to give in to Hezbollah demands that one of the six Sunnis backed by the group be given a cabinet position. The prime minister had originally rejected that demand outright. Hasan Mrad, the son of MP Abdel-Rahim Mrad, was given the post of minister of state in the new government. 
Actually, Hariri and the rest of the Lebanese political class did not really have a choice, as Hezbollah was the single most powerful entity in the country.
The election results in May last year strengthened Hezbollah's hold over Lebanon as its allies scored a majority of seats. Hariri's Future bloc lost a third of its legislators, securing only 17 of the 27 legislative seats allocated to Sunnis.
Although Hariri maintains his position as the political leader of the Sunnis in Lebanon, losing Sunni voters revealed his weakening grip on power.
He blamed the loss on the new electoral system of proportional representation introduced last year.
The politics in the tiny state of Lebanon is a microcosm of the bigger currents flowing in the region and can serve as an indicator of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Hezbollah's ability to put pressure on Hariri suggests that Iran and not Saudi Arabia currently has more influence in Lebanon
In November 2017, Riyadh tried to strong-arm Hariri by making him resign, a move which ultimately had no effect on containing Hezbollah. 
As a matter of fact, any adventurism in Lebanon by the Saudis or the US would only make the situation worse.
On the streets of major cities across Lebanon, protests will not stop. Lebanon has witnessed a winter of demonstrations as thousands marched across the country, demanding jobs, better healthcare and an end to corruption.
Qatar seems to be taking over Saudi Arabia's place. On January 21st, the Qataria Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that his country will invest $500m in Lebanese government US dollar bonds to support Lebanon's Economy.
Lebanon has the world's third highest public debt compared with the gross domestic product (GDP) and stagnant growth. Comments from its finance minister 10 days ago about Lebanon's public debt triggered concerns it might be restructured, leading to a sell-off in the country's dollar-denominated sovereign bonds.
The decision to invest came after Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani made a brief visit to the Arab economic summit in Beirut, during which he met President Michel Aoun.
Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani stressed that his country has always been committed to supporting Lebanese people in light of the challenges they face, and the move stems from the "profound fraternal ties between the two brotherly countries. We wish stability and prosperity for the Lebanese Republic and the Lebanese people, and that the Lebanese economy will recover."
Qatar's Emir understands very well that the region needs a strong and prosperous Lebanon on their side.
The State of Lebanon: People and Power


The countries that recognized Juan Guaidó as the rightful president of Venezuela made a huge mistake. Guaidó, a man of impeccable illegitimacy, was exposed by Cohen and Blumenthal as “a product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers.” Argentinian sociologist Marco Teruggi described Guaidó in the same article as “a character that has been created for this circumstance” of regime change. Here, his constitutional credentials to be interim president of Venezuela are deconstructed.
Educated at George Washington University in DC, Guaidó was virtually unknown in his native Venezuela before being thrust on to the world stage in a rapidly unfolding series of events. In a poll conducted a little more than a week before Guaidó appointed himself president of the country, 81% of Venezuelans had never even heard of the 35-year-old.
To make a short story shorter, US Vice President Pence phoned Guaidó on the evening of January 22rd and presumably asked him how’d he like to be made president of Venezuela. The next day, Guaidó announced that he considered himself president of Venezuela, followed within minutes by US President Trump confirming the self-appointment.
A few weeks before on January 5, Guaidó had been installed as president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, their unicameral legislature. He had been elected to the assembly from a coastal district with 26% of the vote. It was his party’s turn for the presidency of the body, and he was hand-picked for the position. Guaidó, even within his own party, was not in the top leadership.
Guaidó’s party, Popular Will, is a far-right marginal group whose most enthusiastic boosters are John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, and Mike Pompeo. Popular Will had adopted a strategy of regime change by extra-parliamentary means rather than engage in the democratic electoral process and had not participated in recent Venezuelan elections.
Although anointed by Trump and company, Guaidó’s Popular Will Party is not representative of the “Venezuelan opposition,” which is a fractious bunch whose hatred of Maduro is only matched by their abhorrence of each other. Leading opposition candidate Henri Falcón, who ran against Maduro in 2018 on a neoliberal austerity platform, had been vehemently opposed by Popular Will who demanded that he join their US-backed boycott of the election.
The Venezuelan news outlet, Ultimas Noticias, reported that prominent opposition politician Henrique Capriles, who had run against Maduro in 2013, “affirmed during an interview that the majority of opposition parties did not agree with the self-swearing in of Juan Guaidó as interim president of the country.”  Claudio Fermin, president of the party Solutions for Venezuela, wrote “we believe in the vote, in dialogue, we believe in coming to an understanding, we believe Venezuelans need to part ways with the extremist sectors that only offer hatred, revenge, lynching.” Key opposition governor of the State of Táchira, Laidy Gómez, has rejected Guaidó’s support of intervention by the US, warning that it “would generate death of Venezuelans.”
The Guaidó/Trump cabal does not reflect the democratic consensus in Venezuela, where polls consistently show super majorities oppose outside intervention. Popular opinion in Venezuela supports negotiations between the government and the opposition as proposed by Mexico, Uruguay, and the Vatican. The Maduro administration has embraced the negotiations as a peaceful solution to the crisis facing Venezuela.
The US government rejects a negotiated solution, in the words of Vice President Pence: “This is no time for dialogue; this is time for action.” This intransigent position is faithfully echoed by Guaidó. So while most Venezuelans want peace, the self-appointed president, backed by the full force of US military power, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that it was possible to “end the Maduro regime with a minimum of bloodshed.”
The Guaidó/Trump cabal’s fig leaf for legitimacy is based on the bogus argument that Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution gives the National Assembly the power to declare a national president’s “abandonment” of the office. In which case, the president of the National Assembly can serve as an interim national president, until presidential elections are held. The inconvenient truth is that Maduro has shown no inclination to abandon his post, and the constitution says no such thing.
In fact, the grounds for replacing a president are very clearly laid out in the first paragraph of Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution and do not include fraudulent or illegitimate election, which is what the cabal has been claiming. In the convoluted logic of the US government and its epigones, if the people elect someone the cabal doesn’t like, the election is by definition fraudulent and the democratically elected winner is ipso facto a dictator.
The function of adjudicating the validity of an election, as in any country, is to be dealt with through court challenges, not by turning to Donald Trump for his approval. And certainly not by anointing an individual from a party that could have run in the 2018 election but decided to boycott.
The Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), which is the separate supreme court branch of the Venezuelan government has certified Maduro’s reelection, as have independent international observers. Further, no appeal was filed by any of the boycotting parties, while all participating parties – including opposition ones – signed off on the validity of the election after the polls closed.
The far-right opposition has boycotted the high court as well as the electoral process. They contest the legitimacy of the TSJ because some members of the TSJ were appointed by a lame duck National Assembly favorable to Maduro, after a new National Assembly with a majority in opposition had been elected in December 2015 but not yet seated.
Even if Maduro were somehow deemed to have experienced what is termed a falta absoluta (i.e., some sort of void in the presidency due to death, insanity, absence, etc.), the National Assembly president is only authorized to take over if the falta absoluta occurs before the lawful president “takes possession.” However, Maduro was already “in possession” before the January 10, 2019 presidential inauguration and even before the May 10, 2018 presidential election. Maduro had won the presidency in the 2013 election and ran and won reelection last May.
If the falta absoluta is deemed to have occurred during the first four years of the presidential term, the vice president takes over. Then the constitution decrees that a snap election for the presidency must be held within 30 days. This is what happened when President Hugo Chávez died while in office in 2013. Then Vice President Nicolás Maduro succeeded to the presidency, called for new elections, and was elected by the people of Venezuela.
If it is deemed that the falta absoluta occurred during the last two years of the six-year presidential term, the vice president serves until the end of the term, according to the Venezuelan constitution. And if the time of the alleged falta absoluta is unclear – when Maduro presided over “illegitimate” elections in 2018, as is claimed by the far-right opposition – it is up to the TSJ to decide, not the head of the National Assembly or even such an august authority as US Senator Marco Rubio. Or the craven US press (too numerous to cite), which without bothering to read the plain language of the Bolivarian Constitution, repeatedly refers to Guaidó as the “constitutionally authorized” or “legitimate” president.
As Alfred de Zayas, United Nations independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, tweeted: “Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution is inapplicable and cannot be twisted into legitimizing Guaidó’s self-proclamation as interim President. A coup is a coup.”

Venezuela's national oil company PDVSA cooperates with China, India, France, but in terms of production volumes, Russia is the biggest partner. Russia's oil giant Rosneft has been working on Venezuelan oil fields since 2013. Over the years, Russia has launched dozens of new oil wells. Russia invests in the exploration and discovery of new Venezuelan wells and introduces new technologies that make it possible to increase production efficiency.
No other foreign company that operates in Venezuela is even close to Russia's oil output capacity. ExxonMobil used to work on the oil fields of Venezuela before the Russians arrived, but the work of the American company was not that efficient. By 2007, Venezuelan authorities had changed the rules of the game in their fields for foreign oil producers and offered them to share. The Americans did not want to share and left. Russia has been working in the Orinoco belt ever since.
One of the versions that may explain the opposition stadoff against Maduro says that Washington decided to return to take over Venezuela, make  the Russians leave and establish its own conditions for the oïl business in the troubled country. The scheme is the same as Always: a color revolution, the troppling of the legitimate president and the recognition of an opposition figure as a new leader. Street riots and victims only serve as scenery for the political spectacle that Washington is staging in Venezuela.

Binyamin Netanyahu announced last Week he would expel the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, an international task force that monitors Israeli human rights violations in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.
United Nations, speak up for Palestine!
Netanyahu anunciou vai expulsar de Hebron a Presença Internacional Temporária, uma força tarefa internacional que monitora as violações de direitos humanos dos soldados e dos colonos israelenses em Hebron, na Cisjordânia ocupada.

Occupation is nothing to sing about. 

of a life for Palestinians free from barbed wire, military checkpoints, village démolitions, évictions and arbitrary arrest.

Em 2019, a Semana Anual do Apartheid israelense acontecerá do dia 18 de março a 8 de abril no mundo inteiro.
Ative um comitê em sua cidade, escola, universidade.
Para organizar as manifestações político-culturais, entre em contato com o BDS Brasil ( ou acesse diretamente o link internacional e organize as atividades de solidariedade com o povo palestino há 71 anos ocupado.
O tema deste ano é "Parem de armar o Colonialismo".
E não se esqueça de checar a origem dos produtos que consome para boicotar Israel, inclusive Hewlett Packard.
The 15th Annual Israeli Apartheid Week of actions will take place all around the world between March 18th and April 8th 2019 under the theme “Stop Arming Colonialism”. 
Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an international series of events that seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people and build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It now takes place in over 200 cities across the world, where events such as lectures, film screenings, direct action, cultural performances, postering, among many more help in grassroots organizing for effective solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle.
Israel is able to maintain its illegal occupation and apartheid regime over Palestinians partly due to its arms sales and the military support it receives from governments across the world. The United States alone is the single largest supplier of arms and military aid to Israel, followed by European states. These directly sustain Israel’s oppression and human rights violations.
In the Global South, Israel has been known to supply weapons to genocidal regimes in Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and elsewhere. Presently, Israel is a major arms exporter to right-wing, authoritarian regimes from Brazil to India, the Philippines and beyond. These weapons are promoted as ‘field-tested’, which means they have been used to kill or injure Palestinians. In fact, Israel is already promoting the technology it has used to repress the Great March of Return in Gaza calling for the right of refugees to return home and an end to the siege. These arms deals finance Israel’s apartheid regime and its illegal occupation while simultaneously deepening militarization and persecution of people’s movements and oppressed communities in countries where they are bought.
The Palestinian-led BDS movement has reiterated the demand for a military embargo on Israel in the light of Israel’s violent repression of the Great March of Return. International human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have also responded to the Israeli massacre in Gaza with this demand. The UK Labour Party, in its conference in September 2018, passed a motion condemning Israel’s killing of Palestinian protesters in Gaza and called for a freeze of arms sales to Israel.
Ending arms trade, military aid and cooperation with Israel will undercut financial and military support for its regime of apartheid, settler-colonialism and illegal occupation. It will also end the flow of Israeli weapons and security technology and techniques to governments that suppress resistance of their own citizens, people’s movements and communities against policies that deprive them of fundamental rights, including the right to the natural resources of their country.
A military embargo on Israel is a measure for freedom and justice of Palestinians and oppressed peoples in many parts of the world. It can successfully be achieved with massive grassroots efforts, similar to the sustained global mobilization that eventually compelled the United Nations to impose a binding international military embargo against South Africa’s apartheid regime.
Israeli Apartheid Week 2019 will be an important platform for building the campaign for a military embargo on Israel. We invite progressive groups to organize events on their campuses and in their cities to popularize and build momentum in this direction.
If you would like to organize and be part of Israeli Apartheid Week 2019 on your campus or in your city, check out what events are already planned at, find us on Facebook and Twitter, register online and get in touch with IAW coordinators in your region.
For more information and support, please contact