The U.S. Is Right to Sanction the International Criminal Court

June 18 2020

Last week, the White House issued an executive order imposing sanctions and visa restrictions on anyone involved in efforts of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute or investigate American personnel. The order was a response to the court’s spurious accusation that the U.S. committed war crimes in Afghanistan. Given the ICC’s current plans to bring charges against Israel for allowing Jews to build homes in the West Bank, and for taking military action against Hamas in 2018 and 2019, James Sinkinson argues that Washington’s recent move not only strengthens an ally, but demonstrates that those who wish to harm Israel almost always wish to harm the United States as well. Moreover, Sinkinson writes, the decision to sanction the court is a decision to take a stand against lawlessness:

Let’s start with the essential purpose of the ICC, which was set up by the United Nations under the Rome Statute in 2002 to prosecute the most heinous international crimes in the absence of a national legal system capable of doing so. [First], neither the actions of the United States nor of Israel under consideration by the ICC even remotely rise to the level of “heinous.” But more importantly, few countries on earth have internal justice systems more rigorous than those of either country.

In addition, neither the United States nor Israel are members of the ICC, so technically neither is subject to ICC authority. In other words, since the court completely lacks legal jurisdiction in these matters, its only purpose can be [a political one].

[Worse still], the ICC’s case against the United States originated from two nonprofit advocacy groups—the International Federation of Human Rights and the Center for Constitutional Rights—related to the Palestinian NGOs that brought the complaint against Israel to the ICC. [These] Palestinian NGOs “maintain strong ties to the designated terror organizations Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.” These organizations are certainly not friends of the United States or Israel.

Read more at JNS

More about: ICC, International Law, Israeli foreign policy, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations


Russia’s Alliance with Hizballah Is Growing Stronger

Tehran’s ongoing cooperation with Moscow has recently garnered public attention because of the Kremlin’s use of Iranian arms against Ukraine, but it extends much further, including to the Islamic Republic’s Lebanese proxy, Hizballah. Aurora Ortega and Matthew Levitt explain:

Over the last few years, Russia has quietly extended its reach into Lebanon, seeking to cultivate cultural, economic, and military ties in Beirut as part of a strategy to expand Russian influence in the Middle East, while sidelining the U.S. and elevating Moscow’s role as a peacemaker.

Russia’s alliance with Hizballah was born out of the conflict in Syria, where Russian and Hizballah forces fought side-by-side in an alliance with the Assad regime. For years, this alliance appeared strictly limited to military activity in Syria, but in 2018, Hizballah and Russia began to engage in unprecedented joint sanctions-evasion activities. . . . In November 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury exposed a convoluted trade-based oil-smuggling sanctions-evasion scheme directed by Hizballah and [Iran].

The enhanced level of collaboration between Russia and Hizballah is not limited to sanctions evasion. In March 2021, Hizballah sent a delegation to Moscow, on its second-ever “diplomatic” visit to the country. Unlike its first visit a decade prior, which was enveloped in secrecy with no media exposure, this visit was well publicized. During their three days in Moscow, Hizballah representatives met with various Russian officials, including the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. . . . Just three months after this visit to Moscow, Hizballah received the Russian ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Rudakov in Beirut to discuss further collaboration on joint projects.

Read more at Royal United Services Institute

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Lebanon, Russia