A decision to halt EU oil imports from Iran, taken Monday by a meeting of the EU’s foreign ministers, marks the strongest step taken so far by Europe to counter Iran’s suspected nuclear ambitions.
It coincided with an expansion of U.S. sanctions (which have long barred Iranian oil) to include Iran’s third-largest bank. A steeper financial escalation is under active consideration by the Obama administration in the form of action to cut U.S. dealings with Iran’s central bank and press allied capitals to join in isolating Iran financially. Such a move would make it harder for Tehran to use oil revenues for international purchases aimed at strengthening the country’s nuclear program.
The world’s newest country, South Sudan, acquired statehood on July 9 as a result of a partition of Sudan that was strongly encouraged by the U.S. (over many years) and ultimately by the EU as a last resort for ending civil war between the largely-Arab north and the sub-Saharan south.
A potentially consequential side-effect of Libya’s repression of civilian protesters is that the events there have been referred by the U.N. Security Council to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution of Colonel Gaddafi as a war criminal, for ordering the murder of civilians and other crimes against humanity.
The ICC has started a formal investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Libya that will focus on the role of the country’s leader, Col. Gaddafi and several of his sons and members of his inner circle, the New York Times reported March 3.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor, told the newspaper that judging by the information he had received, many more insiders from the Libyan government had defected than was publicly known. “The system appears to be breaking down,” he said.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said he hoped that at this stage his actions could have a deterrent effect. He said he was putting senior officials in Libya — “individuals with formal or de facto authority” — on notice that they could be held responsible if forces under their command committed crimes.
Issuing an arrest warrant would probably take several months, but the prosecutor says “how an arrest order is implemented is a different challenge that will have to be addressed in due course. Right now, we must investigate the crimes, and reach those responsible.”
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It would still be a largely hypothetical possibility that Gaddafi might someday end up at The Hague for trial and possible conviction as a war criminal.
Late last summer Bush administration officials were re-thinking their strategy for out-playing an Iran that seemed to hold all the cards. U.S. forces had done Iranians the service of toppling their traditional foes the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, and now found themselves tied down in Iraq. Tehran seemed to be waging proxy-war across the region, almost certainly green-lighting Hezbollah’s attacks that triggered war with Israel last summer as well as the subsequent campaign to destabilize the Western-backed government in Lebanon. Iranian support for the terrorist group Hamas was similarly adding fuel to the Israel-Palestinian violence. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards agents reportedly were arming Shiite militias in Iraq with armor-piercing explosives of the type responsible for the deaths of an estimated 170 U.S. and coalition soldiers.
A Conversation with Jean-Marie Guéhenno
Jean-Marie Guéhenno, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, likes to stress that his work includes a growing share of “peace operations” that go far beyond traditional “peacekeeping.” Nowadays, UN peacekeeping no longer means just patrolling ceasefire lines but frequently involves using military force and starting the work of nation-building to restore countries devastated by internal conflicts. This shift brings new functions (and new complexities) to contemporary peacekeeping, which has become an increasingly powerful tool of global security.
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