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Europe, Canada and US

Why did US seize Iran's $2b?

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What looked to be a new window of detente between the US and Iran, following the signing of  the Joint Comprehensive plan of Action on Iran's nuclear program has quickly turned opaque. A US decree was issued to seize $2 billion in assets belonging to the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), holding Iran financially responsible for the 1983 bombing that killed 241 Marines at their barracks in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. The funds in question have been blocked since the civilian trial in the bombing began in 2011, but awaited the final legal touch to bless the blatant theft. This came when the US Supreme Court recently upheld the Congress bill, with the approval of President Barack Obama.

This is truly alarming. It clearly is part of a tactic of goading Iran, pushing it in an attempt to bring Iran to heel. Either that or to undermine the deal. Perhaps Obama has had second thoughts about the deal.

Timeline long and tortuous
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Canada's Saudi arms sales: 'Don't be a sucker'

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The sale of weaponized Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia has raised a heated debate in Canada, pitting so-called realists against people who expect trade to be conducted according to a minimum set of moral values. Outgoing Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's swan song was the $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which Harper boasted would provide 3,000 jobs.

A poll by Nanos Research showed that 60% of Canadians feel it is important to ensure arms go only to countries “that respect human rights” vs providing jobs to a few Canadians. The same poll showed that 86% hold a negative or somewhat negative view of Saudi Arabia. 

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Trudeaumania charms Washington

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Trudeau’s budding "bromance" with US President Barak Obama in March marks the first official visit by a Canadian leader since 1997, when Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien visited the last charismatic Democratic president, Bill Clinton. Both visits were friendly--Clinton gushed at the time, "We have the most comprehensive ties of any two nations on earth." Chretien was not invited by Clinton's successor, George Bush, who was furious when Chretien refused to join his "coalition of the willing" to invade Iraq. More like 'bro-hate'.

Trudeau's new-found mentor had some witty advice. Obama joked about Trudeau's previous jobs:
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Canada: Fitting into India’s ‘Scheme of Things’

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Trudeau's Sikh contingent represent Vancouver, Mississauga, Waterloo and Edmonton — the respective hometowns of Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Industry Minister Navdeep Bains, Tourism Minister Bardish Chagger, and Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi. Trudeau's cabinet now contains more Sikh cabinet ministers than that of India. Though an official visit by Canada's new prime minister has not been set, both sides are eager to engage, and Trudeau will no doubt be accompanied by some of his Indian-born ministers, building a new platform for cooperation, based on the strong relations in the past.

http://diplomatist.com/dipo201603/article002.html

Canadian legend Chapter V: Caught in Middle East quicksands

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Just a few months into his reign, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds himself embroiled in Middle East politics. New to the heady world of governance, he jumped into the Syrian refugee crisis with a generous offer of asylum for 25,000 victims of the civil war, to praise from all except a few malcontents at home pepper spraying some refugees in protest. But more serious protests have arisen over two other government policies -- the $15 billion sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia, and government attempts to quash BDS, the popular campaign to boycott Israeli goods.

Arms for civil rights

Harper's swan song was the $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which Harper boasted would provide 3,000 jobs (kind of expensive job creation) by selling weaponized armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. The combat vehicles with machine guns and anti-tank cannons are clearly intended to 'protect' the Mideast kingdom’s monarchy from internal threats. The proposed sale is now being protested in a class action law suit by University of Montreal professor Daniel Turp. Turp and his group's challenge--Operation Armoured Rights--points to how poorly Saudi Arabia treats its own citizens (47 executions in January, mostly public beheadings) and their horrific bombing campaign in Yemen.
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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

Europe, Canada & USA

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