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By Tania Bhattacharya
Throughout the Cold War, the two opposing power blocs of the Soviet Union and the United States, had sought to expand their spheres of influence through direct and proxy methods with a view to bringing as much of humanity as possible, under their respective wings. The Soviet Union’s meddling may have been as annoying as the US’, however, the Russians tried to offset their deleterious manoeuvrings by making constructive contributions to the nations they were targeting. Had it not been for Soviet and Cuban influence and military aid, many colonized countries in sub-Saharan Africa may have never lived a day under national sovereignty. Well-documented accounts exist of Cuban-Soviet contributions in the decolonizing of Angola, Congo, and Namibia. Fighting against the prevailing odds, in circumstances where American-backed apartheid regimes in South Africa and Zaire were attempting to restrain self-determination in subjugated African colonies, Congo, Angola, and Namibia, had rid themselves of their west European colonial masters.
The resurgence of a saffron wave in India may have bolstered the underlying anti-Left sentiments of the Indian populace; but it remains a historical fact, that the man responsible for moving the motion for India’s independence from Great Britain, Prime Minister Clement Attlee, was someone who was a leading figure of the British Labour Party, an organization with a Leftist outlook on political and social affairs.
Most of us can associate the US administration with Vietnam, Cambodia, Korea, and Iraq, where the country fought conventional wars with the locals. Few though can do so pertaining to Syria, Indonesia, and Guatemala.
In 1967, in a BBC interview, CIA agent Miles Copeland admitted, that the organization had been attempting regime change in Syria, for a long time. The balkanization of the country and indeed the entire Middle East, was a policy goal of the United States, whose beneficiaries would be the US and its West Asian ally, Israel. By creating social unrest and civil war in West Asian societies, which were peaceful, if not content, under self-rule; America could then prop up its own puppet premiers to rule the disparate entities that would have emerged from the disintegration of the mother state. With this aim in mind, regressive Islamist political outfits like the Muslim Brotherhood, were patronized and funded by the CIA.
Copeland tells us, that Husni al Zaim, a Syrian army commander, had sought US help in dismantling the stable Syrian regime of Shukri Quwaiti, who had been the Syrian head-of-state, following the liberation of that country from French rule. King Abdullah of Jordan, has been a long-time, trusted ally of the CIA. Whenever the latter has wanted to ship arms to the forces it shores up, Jordan volunteers for the onus of routing those arms. Once Muammar Gaddafi – the West’s bete noir – had been removed from power in 2011, the US Secret Service transferred the arms found in the late dictator’s arsenal, to Syria. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has reported on the US administration’s dealings with Islamist forces in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar; which were instrumental in funnelling weapons to the Islamist anti-Assad forces inside Syria.
Recruits have poured in from far-flung places like Afghanistan, and even Europe, not to mention Turkey, which despite being a NATO ally, has an Islamist President – Erdogan – at the helm. American neo-Conservative Senator John McCain, had successfully attempted the feat of entering Syria without a passport to meet the CIA aided rebels who were furthering the American cause. Aleppo’s FSA – Free Syrian Army – under the garb of ‘democratizing’ their motherland, had been recruiting foreign Jihadists to fight for the cause of toppling Assad. It is now known, that by 2012, the CIA had firmly established a base of operations in Turkey, from where they could access Syrian rebels, by using Turkey’s border with Syria.
The CIA has set up an intelligence service for the FSA and has been providing them with satellite imagery of the movement of Syrian troops. US interest in the balkanization of Syria, began way back in the late 1940s, after the democratically elected Syrian parliament, refused American suggestions of opening oil pipelines in their country. According to an official US government document released in 2012, Islamist forces like the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda, are at the forefront of deposing Assad, with the intention of effecting a Salafist regime in Syria, which will, undoubtedly, be helped to power, by the ‘benevolence’ of the United States.
One of the Cold War’s greatest strategies, was to defame, and decimate, the Communist Party of Indonesia. Indonesia’s President Sukarno, its first Premier after the country was decolonized from French rule, had sworn in Suharto as a cabinet member with no inkling of what was to follow. But why was Indonesia important enough for the United States? John Rossa, who is an Associate Professor of History at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, has written a seminal tome on the significance of Indonesia in the US scheme of things, and why bringing the country into the American orbit, was sought on a war-footing. Indonesia has the world’s fourth largest population. Back in the day, it’s Communist Party or KPI, was the world’s third largest Communist Party, right behind its counterparts in China, and the Soviet Union.
When US pilot Allen Pope had been apprehended by Indonesian security, while he was bombing Indonesian civilians under orders from his government, with the agenda of destabilizing the rule of democratically-elected President Sukarno, the CIA had been forced to cease its operations in the country. But it would resume its untoward activities, there, soon after.
A 1966 New York Times article monikered ‘A Gleam Of Light’ and penned by American journalist James Reston, opined “The savage transformation of Indonesia from a pro-Chinese policy under Sukarno to a defiantly anti-communist policy under General Suharto is the most important of these [hopeful] developments. Washington is being careful not to claim any credit … but this does not mean Washington had nothing to do with it.”
He had been referring to the 1965 purge of the KSI by President Suharto. It is estimated that more than one million Indonesians, including civilians, government officials, and members of the armed forces, had been interned, brutally tortured, and executed, on charges of treason. They were indicted – sometimes falsely – for collusion with the KSI, and imprisoned. Indonesia’s KSI was, unlike the Marxists of Vietnam, a legitimate and peaceful entity, that had developed a following among the people through a hands-on approach to social and economic issues.
It was only following the KSI mass murders, that President Suharto would assume power in Indonesia, as a US-installed ruler. The Americans must have patted themselves on the back. After all, it was going to be their one and only successful regime change, in East Asia.
Long before the Iran-Contra scandal, and the rise of the Sandinista to power, the South American nation of Guatemala, had deposed its cruel dictator in 1944. The new government was a nationalist one, much like the current Indian administration. Its policy was aimed at self-sufficiency in the economic sector, much as India’s Modi has been advocating his ‘Make In India’ over the past half decade. Guatemala’s self-contained economic success, and rapid advocacy of social reforms, had been found unsettling by the hawks in Washington. US President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Director of Central Intelligence Agency, Allen Dulles were near-hysterical at the progress Guatemala was making. A memorandum produced by the CIA in 1952, stated that what was happening in Guatemala, was “adverse to US interests” because of the “Communist influence…based on militant advocacy of social reforms and nationalistic policies.”
Meanwhile, the US Capitalist venture, the United Fruit Company – which continues to carry on under the name of Chiquita Brands International – had virtual monopoly over the banana trade in the Caribbean and Latin America. It’s impact on the politics of the region, gave rise to the axiom of ‘banana republic’. With an eye to protecting US interests in South America, especially the well-performing United Fruit Company – which incidentally had been mistreating its workers – America supported dictatorships in Guatemala, for four decades. These dictators have been responsible for genocide of the indigenous Mayan Native Americans of that country. It is believed that more than two hundred thousand innocent civilians have been murdered, not only in cases where they opposed their US installed leaders, but also when they had little to do with activism. US interference and regime change in the country, has led to Guatemala being called ‘America’s backyard’.
ISRAEL IN GUATEMALA
US interest in Guatemala has been documented under the previous section, but what is less discussed, is, its ally and friend, Israel’s, presence in the South American state. Since the 1980s, Israel has provided intelligence and military aid to the ruling dictatorships of Guatemala. This was formally acknowledged by former ruler Efrain Rios Montt. He spoke fondly of the forces that had helped him come to power in 1982. The said military coup had received surreptitious aid from Israeli intelligence. In the book Dangerous Liaisons: The Inside Story Of The US-Israeli Covert Relationship, Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, have quoted Israeli Lieutenant Colonel Amatzai Shuali as saying “I don’t care what the Gentiles do with the arms. The main thing is that the Jews profit.” Shuali was an advisor to the Guatemalan dictatorship.
Under the Carter administration, aid to Guatemala’s ruler was restricted. This was done after several allegations of grave Human Rights violations had surfaced. In the scenario, Israel had found a ripe opportunity to make its presence felt in the South American country, with an eye to fill its own coffers. This was unabashedly stated by Yaakov Meridor, who was the Israeli Economic Minister, in the early 1980s. Wherever the Americans were hesitant to exert their influence through political geography, and weapons technology, Israel was willing to step in. Meridor’s exact words were “We will say to the Americans: Don’t compete with us in Taiwan; don’t compete with us in South Africa; don’t compete with us in the Caribbean or in other places where you cannot sell arms directly. Let us do it … Israel will be your intermediary.”
Indeed, Israeli war technology was not being used for the first time, when it helped the Guatemalan dictator retain power. Israel had already displayed what it was capable of doing in terms of proxy damage, during the internecine
Lebanese Civil War, that had lasted from 1975 till 1990. Among the factions that were party to the internal disintegration of Lebanon, was the Christian Phalangists, lead by the Maronite militia commander Bashir Gemayel. Soon after his assassination, the Israeli military had occupied southern Lebanon, in a bid to avenge the murder, a time during which, it actively aided and abetted the infamous Sabra and Shatila massacres of helpless Muslim Palestinians, in downtown Beirut.
It seems the Guatemalan top brass had been impressed with Israel’s ‘performance’ in war-torn Lebanon. Israel’s liaison with Guatemala dates back to the 1960s. Since then, it has contributed military intelligence, weaponry and political advice to the junta that remained in power in the Latin American nation, treating the beneficiary nation’s Mayan natives, as it treats its Palestinian citizens back home; as vermin, worthy of exploitation, and ultimate creaming. Ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt, otherwise a genocidal war criminal, was one of the beneficiaries. Guatemalan citizens, rightfully harbour a deep resentment for Israel, because they relate it with their own decades old misfortune.
What lesson does the expansionist hubris of the world’s only superpower, and its strategic buddy, Israel, have for India? Of late, India has swerved Right to an extent, where India’s foreign relations with both these powerful nations have made us blind to the pitfalls of courting them, incessantly. The US with its changing global interests, had once been an ally of our north-western neighbour, Pakistan. After 9/11, Pakistan was left in the lurch, and the latter had to find out the hard way, that it was never a wife, but a mere, one-time mistress of the mighty US. India would be advised to avoid such a loss of face. Forging a comradeship between fellow nations with similar interests, like Russia, Iran, and Brazil, would be an intelligent move. As proved time and again, History does not forgive those who ignore its lessons.
The UK government on Thursday announced that it will move India from the red to the amber list on Sunday, in the country's latest update to the 'Red-Amber-Green' traffic light ratings for arrivals into England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means the visit visas for the UK from India are open, in addition to other long-term visas that have remained open. But travellers from India arriving in England can complete a 10-day quarantine at home or in the place they are staying (not mandatorily quarantine in a managed hotel).
The UK government also announced that arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list now that the proportion of beta variant cases has fallen, where those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, the US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
This move also simplifies the system to three categories, as well as the green watch list to give travellers notice where green status is at risk.
To continue cautiously reopening international travel, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the government's green list, having demonstrated they posed a low risk to UK public health.
Besides India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
The data for all countries will be kept under review and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country's epidemiological picture changes, a statement by the UK government said.
Following an assessment of the latest data, Georgia, La Reunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.
Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we've made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."
Since February, anyone who arrives in the UK from a red list country has been required by law to book a stay in a managed quarantine facility for 10 days.
In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from August 12. Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.(IANS/HP)
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.
OṀ KALMASHARAHITABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM) -KAL-MA-SHA-RA-HI-TA-BHOO-MYAI— NA-MA-HA
ॐ कल्मषरहितभूम्यै नमः
(Kalmasham: Tainted, blemish, dirty, sinful, wicked, foul, dosha, opprobrium, stigma; Rahita: Absent, devoid of)
Kalmasham is the opposite of purity; it means impure, contaminated and defective. The word is used in several senses such as: defective, fault, sin, dosham, tainted, vice, crime, disrespect, abuse, evil and contamination. However, it is also used in a technical sense in certain fields of knowledge. In Vedic literature we see words like pavitram, and pavitrata in the opposite sense of kalmasham. We, as Hindus, see everything as pure and equitable with God in an implied meaning that every atom at the microscopic level is part of the Supreme Power (Bhagavān). Having this knowledge and understanding, Hindus see the presence of God in living as well as non-living objects and have a pavitra meaning- kalmasharahita bandham.
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In Vedas and Purāṇās, Lord Shri Ramachandra Murty is portrayed without any defects and His marriage with Sīta was described as kalmasharahitam. He was glorified as the one who strictly observed the 'ekapatnī vratam' meaning-'one wife as a life partner'. Even when Sīta was abducted by the demon- Rāvaṇa and he kept her in his palace for a year, Rama did not look at another woman. The same credit goes to His consort and wife Sīta, who came out of Agni (pyre of fire) as a shining diamond proving her chastity and kalmasharahitam to the world. Our sacred literature is full of these incidents. Our dharmaśhāstrās explain that what is kalmasham is that which brings defection to one's purity. They advise purity in our thought, speech and actions.
God Ram and Goddess SitaGetty Pictures
There are many relationships we have as an individual. Some are pure and kalmasharahitam, as opposed to other relationships, like extramarital affairs. The relationship between husband and wife; brother and sister; father and daughter; parents and children; between siblings; teacher and student; among friends; and last but not least, between a devotee and his desired, beloved and personal god are considered kalmasharahitam.
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As a country, we have never waged war against another country with the intention of occupancy and robbing their wealth, or to convert them to our religion. We do not have that kalmasham on our hands or in our hearts.
Our land is 'Kalmasharahita Bhūmi'.