The UN Human Rights Council Hits a New Low

March 2 2018

On Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Council—a body where representatives of various tyrannies gather to condemn Israel—entertained the Iranian justice minister, Alireza Avaei, whose speech bemoaned the excessive influence wielded by Western countries over the United Nations. Avaei, who serves a regime that brutally oppresses its own people and engineers mass-slaughter abroad, has himself overseen the torture and execution of thousands. Sohrab Ahmari comments:

[A] report on the 1988 massacre of thousands of Iranian dissidents identifies Avaei as an “interrogator and torturer at a prison” in Dezful, in southern Iran. There, Avaei sat on the “death commissions” that carried out Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa ordering the regime to liquidate imprisoned leftists and members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).

Mohammad-Reza Ashooq had been caught in the dragnet and sent to Avaei’s prison merely because he sympathized ideologically with the MEK. As he later remembered, Avaei was one of three men present at his death commission. . . . Ashooq survived [a death sentence] by jumping out of the window of [a] minibus. But some 30,000 others didn’t, including children as young as thirteen.

Avaei’s career in torture and summary execution didn’t end there. Two decades later, as chief of justice in Tehran Province, he helped oversee the bloody crackdown against the pro-democracy Green Movement. This involved the operation of Kahrizak, a makeshift prison and interrogation camp where young dissidents were raped using batons and soda bottles. . . . Now Avaei can boast of having addressed the Human Rights Council, thanks to a bankrupt UN system that treats democracies and dictatorships as morally equivalent, entitled to an equal say in human-rights matters.

Years of U.S. “engagement” under the Obama and Trump administrations have failed to improve matters. More than a decade since the council’s founding, 25 of its 47 members are classified as unfree or partly free by Freedom House. These include such human-rights champions as China, Cuba, and Venezuela. Meanwhile, Israel remains the only state to be the subject of a permanent agenda item. . . . [T]he best thing Washington can do is to pull out of the UN Human Rights Council as it did earlier with UNESCO. Lending American legitimacy to this cruelly misnamed body sets back the noble cause of human rights.

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More about: Human Rights, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, UNHRC, United Nations

 

Syria’s Downing of a Russian Plane Put Israel in the Crosshairs

Sept. 21 2018

On Monday, Israeli jets fired missiles at an Iranian munitions storehouse in the northwestern Syrian city of Latakia. Shortly thereafter, Syrian personnel shot down a Russian surveillance plane with surface-to-air missiles, in what seems to be a botched and highly incompetent response to the Israeli attack. Moscow first responded by blaming Jerusalem for the incident, but President Putin then offered more conciliatory statements. Yesterday, Russian diplomats again stated that Israel was at fault. Yoav Limor comments:

What was unusual [about the Israeli] strike was the location: Latakia [is] close to Russian forces, in an area where the IDF hasn’t been active for some time. The strike itself was routine; the IDF notified the Russian military about it in advance, the missiles were fired remotely, the Israeli F-16s returned to base unharmed, and as usual, Syrian antiaircraft missiles were fired indiscriminately in every direction, long after the strike itself was over. . . .

Theoretically, this is a matter between Russia and Syria. Russia supplied Syria with the SA-5 [missile] batteries that wound up shooting down its plane, and now it must demand explanations from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. That won’t happen; Russia was quick to blame Israel for knocking over the first domino, and as usual, sent conflicting messages that make it hard to parse its future strategy. . . .

From now on, Russia will [almost certainly] demand a higher level of coordination with Israel and limits on the areas in which Israel can attack, and possibly a commitment to refrain from certain actions. Syria, Iran, and Hizballah will try to drag Russia into “handling” Israel and keeping it from continuing to carry out strikes in the region. Israel . . . will blame Iran, Hizballah, and Syria for the incident, and say they are responsible for the mess.

But Israel needs to take rapid action to minimize damage. It is in Israel’s strategic interest to keep up its offensive actions to the north, mainly in Syria. If that action is curtailed, Israel’s national security will be compromised. . . . No one in Israel, and certainly not in the IDF or the Israel Air Force, wants Russia—which until now hasn’t cared much about Israel’s actions—to turn hostile, and Israel needs to do everything to prevent that from happening. Even if that means limiting its actions for the time being. . . . Still, make no mistake: Russia is angry and has to explain its actions to its people. Israel will need to walk a thin line between protecting its own security interests and avoiding a very unwanted clash with Russia.

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More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war