Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Algiers Accords: Decades of Violations - And Silence

This week marks the 37th anniversary of a pledge made by the United States in 1981:
The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs.”

This week also marks 37 continuous years of the United States failing to uphold its pledge: the 1981 Algiers Accords.

Just how many people have heard of the 1981 Algiers Accords, a bilateral treaty signed on January 19, 1981 between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran? Chances are, not many.   Just as chances are that not many are fully aware of what actually led to the signing of this treaty.

Following the success of the 1979 Iranian Revolution that overthrew the Shah, America’s strongman in Iran, plans were made to topple the new government in Tehran.   In 1980, under the Carter administration, the United States began clandestine radio broadcasts into Iran from Egypt. The broadcasts called for Khomeini's overthrow and urged support for Shahpur Bakhtiar[i], the last prime minister under the Shah.  Other plans included the failed Nojeh coup plot as well as plans for a possible American invasion of Iran using Turkish bases[ii].

The new Revolutionary government in Iran, with a look to the past and the 1953 British-CIA coup d’état that overthrew the Mossadegh government and reinstalled the Shah, had good reason to believe that the United States was planning to abort the revolution in its nascent stages.  Fearful, enthusiastic students took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took the diplomats as hostages in order to prevent such plans from fruition.

These events led to the negotiation and conclusion the Algiers Accords, point 1 of which was the pledge by the United States not to intervene in Iran’s internal affairs in anyway. The Algiers Accords brought about the release of the American hostages and established the Iran–U.S. Claims Tribunal (“Tribunal”) at The Hague, the Netherlands.   The Tribunal ruled consistently “the Declarations were to be interpreted in accordance with the process of interpretation set out in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.”[iii] ([*])

 A pledge is only as valid and worthy as the person making it. From the onset, the United States failed to uphold its own pledge.  For instance, starting in 1982, the CIA provided $100,000 a month to a group in Paris called the Front for the Liberation of Iran. The group headed by Ali Amini who had presided over the reversion of Iranian oil to foreign control after the CIA-backed coup in 1953[iv]. Additionally, America provided support to two Iranian paramilitary groups based in Turkey, one of them headed by General Bahram Aryana, the former Shah's army chief with close ties to Bakhtiar [v].
In 1986, the CIA went so far as to pirate Iran's national television network frequency to transmit an address by the Shah's son, Reza Pahlavi, over Iranian TV in which he vowed:  "I will return,"[vi].  The support did not end there. Pahlavi had C.LA. funding for a number of years in the eighties which stopped with the Iran-Contra affair.  He was successful at soliciting funds from the emir of Kuwait, the emir of Bahrain, the king of Morocco, and the royal family of Saudi Arabia, all staunch U.S. allies[vii].   
In late 2002, Michael Ledeen joined Morris Amitay, vice-president of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; ex-CIA head James Woolsey; former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney; former senator Paul Simon; and oil consultant Rob Sobhani to set up a group called the Coalition for Democracy in Iran (CDI)[viii].  In spite of his lack of charisma as a leader, in May, 2003, Michael Ledeen wrote a policy brief for the American Enterprise Institute Web site arguing that Pahlavi would make a suitable leader for a transitional government, describing him as “widely admired inside Iran, despite his refreshing lack of avidity for power or wealth.”[ix]   In August 2003, the Pentagon issued new guidelines -All meetings with Iranian dissidents had to be cleared with Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.  Reza Pahlavis’ name was included in the list of contacts that had been meeting with Pentagon analysts[x].
Concurrent with this direct interference, and in the following decade, Washington concentrated its efforts into putting a chokehold on the Iranian economy.    A provision of the Algiers Accords was that  "the United States will revoke all trade sanctions which were directed against Iran in the period November 4, 1979, to date." Embargoes and sanctions became the norm.  Failing to interfere in Iran’s domestic affairs in order to topple the Islamic Republic through economic hardship, the United States once again turned up pressure through broadcasts and direct support for dissidents and terrorists – in conjunction with economic sanctions.

This stranglehold was taking place while concurrently, and in violation of the Algiers Accords, the CIA front National Endowment for Democracy was providing funds to various groups, namely “Iran Teachers Association” (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994,2001, 2002, 2003); The Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI founded in 1995 by  Kenneth R. Timmerman, Peter Rodman, Joshua Muravchik, and American intelligence officials advocating regime change in Iran),   National Iranian American Council (NIAC) 2002, 2005, 2006), and others[xi].   
Funds from NED to interfere in Iran continued after the signing of the JCPOA.  The 2016 funding stood at well over $1m.  
In September 2000, Senators openly voiced support for the MEK Terror group Mojaheddin-e-khalgh.   Writing for The New Yorker, Connie Bruck revealed that:  “Israel is said to have had a relationship with the M.E.K at least since the late nineties, and to have supplied a satellite signal for N.C.RI. broadcasts from Paris into Iran.”[xii].  Perhaps their relationship with Israel and their usefulness explains why President Bush accorded the group ‘special persons status’[xiii]
During the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, the terrorist group got protection from the U.S. troops in Iraq despite getting pressure from the Iraqi government to leave the country (CNN[xiv]).  In 2005, “a Farsi-speaking former CIA officer says he was approached by neoconservatives in the Pentagon who asked him to go to Iran and oversee “MEK [Mujahedeen-e Khalq] cross-border operations” into Iran.”

Moreover, according to Pakistani Intelligence, the United States secretly used yet another terrorist group – the Jundallah, stage a series of deadly attacks against Iran.  The United States seems to have a soft spot for terrorists. 

In addition to CIA funding and covert operations with help from terrorists, the United States actively used radio broadcasts into Iran to stir up unrest including Radio Farda and VOA Persian.   It comes as no surprise then that the recipient of NED funds, NIAC, should encourage such broadcasts.  Also, the BBC “received significant" sum of money from the US government to help combat the blocking of TV and internet services in countries including Iran and China.”

It is crucial to note that while the United States was conducting secret negotiations with Iran which led to the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), the  MEK were delisted as a foreign terror organization.   This provides them with the legitimacy to write opinion pieces in leading American papers.
Also important to note that during the JCPOA negotiations  in which the United States participated as a party to an agreement, it was busy flouting  the Treaty with its broadcasts in to Iran – apparently, without objection.  But the violation was not limited to broadcasts.  Item B of the Treaty’s preamble states:  

Through the procedures provided in the declaration relating to the claims settlement agreement, the United States agrees to terminate all legal proceedings in United States courts involving claims of United States persons and institutions against Iran and its state enterprises, to nullify all attachments and judgments obtained therein, to prohibit all further litigation based on such claims, and to bring about the termination of such claims through binding arbitration. “

Unsurprisingly, the US again failed to keep its pledge and a partisan legislation allocated millions for the former hostages

Clearly, the United States clearly felt bound by the Treaty for it recognized Point 2. Of the Algiers Accords when in January 2016 Iran received its funds frozen by America in a settlement at the Hague.   Perhaps for no other reason that to pacify Iran post JCPOA while finding the means to re-route Iran’s money back into American hands.

It would require a great deal of time and verse to cite every instance and detail of United States of America’s violation of a Treaty, of its pledge, for the past 37 years. But never has its attitude been more brazen in refusing to uphold its pledge and its open violation of international law than when President Trump openly voiced his support for protests in Iran and called for regime change.  The US then called an emergency UNSC meeting on January 5, 2018 to demand that the UN interfere in Iran’s internal affairs.
America’s history clearly demonstrates that it has no regard for international law and treaties.  Its pledge is meaningless.  International law is a tool for America that does not apply to itself. This is a well-documented fact – and perhaps none has realized this better than the North Korean leader - Kim Jong-un.  But what is inexplicable is the failure of Iranians to address these violations.  

The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties defines a treaty "as an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation." 
Under United States law, however, there is a distinction made between the terms treaty and executive agreement. " Generally, a treaty is a binding international agreement and an executive agreement applies in domestic law only. Under international law, however, both types of agreements are considered binding. Regardless of whether an international agreement is called a convention, agreement, protocol, accord, etc. https://www.law.berkeley.edu/library/dynamic/guide.php?id=65)

[i] David Binder, "U.S. Concedes It Is Behind Anti-Khomeini Broadcasts," New York Times, 29 June 1980,
[iv] Bob Woodward, “Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987”, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987, p. 480.  (Cited by Stephen R. Shalom, “The United States and the Gulf War”, Feb. 1990).
[v] Leslie H. Gelb, "U.S. Said to Aid Iranian Exiles in Combat and Political Units," New York Times, 7 Mar. 1982, pp. A1, A12.
[vi] Tower Commission, p. 398; Farhang, "Iran-Israel Connection," p. 95. (Cited by Stephen R. Shalom, “The United States and the Gulf War”, Feb. 1990).
[vii] Connie Bruck, ibid
[viii] Andrew I KillgoreThe Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.  Washington:Dec 2003.  Vol. 22,  Iss. 10,  p. 17 

[ix] Connie Bruck, ibid

[xi] International Democracy Development, Google Books, p. 59 https://books.google.com/books?id=ReTtEj6_myAC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

[xii] Connie Bruck, “A reporter at large: Exiles; How Iran’s expatriates are gaming the nuclear threat”.  The New Yorker, March 6, 2006

[xiii] US State Department Daily Briefing http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2004/34680.htm
[xiv] Michael Ware, “U.S. protects Iranian Opposition Group in Iraq” 6, April 2007 http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/04/05/protected.terrorists/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

Saturday, January 6, 2018

US Demands UNSC Emergency Meeting as the Price of Eggs Goes up in Iran

What mockery.


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A May 2017 Memo from Hook to Tillerson -- how best to use "human rights" as a tool!


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED May 17, 2017 NOTE FOR THE SECRETARY FROM: S/P -- Brian Hook SUBJECT: (U) Balancing Interests and Values (U) Your remarks to State Department employees on May 3 revived the debate over how far to emphasize human rights, democracy promotion, and liberal values in American foreign policy. This longstanding debate has been principally fought by two foreign policy schools. The liberal/idealist/Wilsonian view is that other countries, including US allies, should be pressed to adopt democratic reforms and human rights practices in accordance with American preferences. The "realist” view is that America's allies should be supported rather than badgered, for both practical and principled reasons, and that while the United States should certainly stand as moral example, our diplomacy with other countries should focus primarily on their foreign policy behavior rather than on their domestic practices as such. Both views are deeply rooted in the US experience, both are authentically American, and as you implied in your remarks, their relative urgency tends to wax and wane over time depending on events overseas. Beginning in the 1940s, as the US adopted a wide range of new allies during and after World War Two, the tendency of Presidents Roosevelt and Truman was to bolster US allies, while nudging them in the direction of liberal reform. President Eisenhower's instinct was very much to bolster US allies against the risks of domestic radicalism, worldwide. He placed even greater emphasis on bolstering than did Harry Truman. The Nixon-Kissinger foreign policy team also prioritized supporting rather than badgering. Kissinger still remains a credible and articulate advocate for this point of view. President Carter upended Cold War policies by criticizing and even undermining governments, especially in cases such as Nicaragua and Iran. The results were unfortunate for American interests, as for the citizens of those countries. Carter's badgering of American allies unintentionally strengthened anti-American radicals in both Iran and Nicaragua. As Jeanne Kirkpatrick wrote in 1979 criticizing Carter's foreign policy, "Hurried efforts to force complex and unfamiliar political practices on societies lacking the requisite political culture, tradition, and social structures not only fail to produce the desired outcomes; if they are undertaken at a time when the traditional regime is under attack, they actually facilitate the job of the insurgents." Kirkpatrick also made this important observation that equally applies for today: “The speed with which armies collapse, bureaucracies abdicate, and social structures dissolve once the autocrat is removed frequently surprises American policymakers and journalists accustomed to public institutions based on universalistic norms rather than particularistic relations.” President Reagan endorsed Kirkpatrick's views. As he stated at the 1980 Republican convention, “The basis of a free and principled foreign policy is one that takes the world as it is, and seeks to change it by leadership and example; not by harangue, harassment or wishful thinking." Or again, from Reagan's 1981 inaugural address, with reference to US allies: “We will not use our friendship to impose on their sovereignty, for our own sovereignty is not for sale." During Reagan’s second term, his administration began to move in the direction of more pointed pressure for liberalization with regard to allies such as Chile, South Korea, and the Philippines. But these efforts bore fruit in part because viable democratic and pro-American forces existed in each country -- and the US continued to provide vital reassurance. Reagan’s first instinct was always to back allies against adversaries, even in controversial cases, including through his second term. South Africa would be an excellent example. The approach used there was called “constructive engagement,” and in the long run it worked. Recovering a Balanced Foreign Policy In their own way, all three post-Cold War presidents -- Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama -- worked on relatively optimistic assumptions regarding the possibilities for positive social change overseas, as nudged forward by American power and diplomacy. No doubt this optimism was well-intentioned. But in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan, slow economic recovery, the rise of China, and the failed Arab Spring, there is understandably less optimism today that the world can be easily democratized or reshaped simply by expressing American liberal values, or by badgering American allies. At least that is the position President Trump ran and won on, and -- if properly implemented -- this is very much in the realist tradition of US diplomacy, a mainstream and historically grounded tradition just as American as any other. In the case of US allies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines, the Administration is fully justified in emphasizing good relations for a variety of important reasons, including counter-terrorism, and in honestly facing up to the difficult tradeoffs with regard to human rights. It is not as though human rights practices will be improved if anti-American radicals take power in those countries. Moreover, this would be a severe blow to our vital interests. We saw what a disaster Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood turned out to be in power. After eight years of Obama, the US is right to bolster US allies rather than badger or abandon them. One useful guideline for a realistic and successful foreign policy is that allies should be treated differently -- and better -- than adversaries. Otherwise, we end up with more adversaries, and fewer allies. The classic dilemma of balancing ideals and interests is with regard to America’s allies. In relation to our competitors, there is far less of a dilemma. We do not look to bolster America’s adversaries overseas; we look to pressure, compete with, and outmaneuver them. For this reason, we should consider human rights as an important issue in regard to US relations with China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. And this is not only because of moral concern for practices inside those countries. It is also because pressing those regimes on human rights is one way to impose costs, apply counter-pressure, and regain the initiative from them strategically.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

High on Hate. Threats to Iran. Repost from 2007

High on hate?
Bush administration finds itself in a position where it needs to prepare the world opinion for mass genocide with a compelling reason

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich & Nader Bagherzadeh
June 13, 2007
While the poppy fields in Afghanistan are thriving in supplying the demands of millions, this White House and their neo-cons accomplices are cultivating their own fix - hate. But in order for them to get their high, their hate must be transferred into people’s fear -- A fear they plan to turn into another bloodbath. Pushing forward with their latest warmongering idea that Iran is planning to extend the reach of its Shahab 3 missiles from 1200 to more than 2500 kilometers in order to reach Rome, the media beats the war drums, hoping the fearful sound will drown out reason and logic.
This White House and its foreign policy architects, Dick Cheney and National Security Council (NSC) boss Stephen Hadley accuse Iran of planning to extend its strike ability to one of the major countries that has billions of dollars of commerce with it, Italy. Not only are the Italians involved in oil exploration in defiance of US sanctions, but they also sell Iran high tech equipment and technology [1]. What makes these groundless accusations even more preposterous is that the head of the Roman Catholic Church seated in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI supports Iran's right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. [2]
Lies and deception come easily to an administration which ‘cooked up’ intelligence in order to invade a sovereign country and cause the death of more than 655,000 people in order to further its agenda. The US, finding itself unable to pressure Iran into abandoning its enrichment program, which is nothing short of a pretext for a regime change, has opted for military strike as sanctions are not delivering the desired outcome, and Iran is making progress towards a full enrichment capability.
Had John Bolton been successful in his quest to push Iran out of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), perhaps the American people would hear less lies. John Bolton had purposefully attempted to have Iran leave NPT by making unreasonable demands. In an address to AIPAC, he was dismayed at not having succeeded in compelling Iran to leave the international treaty thus ‘justifying’ a reaction from the United States, presumably, militarily. [3]
Left without a pretext for a military assault on Iran, the Bush administration finds itself in a position where it needs to prepare the world opinion for mass genocide with a compelling reason. With its control over the media, it is accomplishing this by denouncing Iran as the killer of American troops while causing civil unrest in Iraq. Tragically, the majority of the public has been paralyzed by fear and believes that the letting of blood is the only cure that will rid them of their unfounded panic. Iran’s woes are not limited to the ambitions of the neo-cons.
Reza Pahlavi who thinks that he can in turn dupe Iranians, and peoples of other nations, has sent out a statement to the world from a conference in Prague asking for “solidarity for the people of Iran,”. At this conference he was in good company where he conferred with U.S. hawks, including an all-star contingent from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) consisting of Richard Perle, Michael Rubin, Michael Novak, Joshua Muravchik, and Reuel Marc Gerecht; Herb London, John O’Sullivan, and Bruce Jackson a former director of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Names of the Iraq war planners must be noted among the aforementioned. [4]
No doubt Reza Pahlavi’s friends had innovative ideas for giving him the ruins of Iran, but none were as original as Senator Lieberman who 4 days after the Prague conference announced that the U.S. should use military force against Iran based on false allegations. The presence of the group in the conference is a telling sign, for many were the same disingenuous politicians that were accusing Iran of the Khobar Tower bombing in 1993; an accusation rejected last week by William Perry, Clinton’s Secretary Defense at the time, with the assertion that the bombings had been the work of al-Qaeda all along.
It seems that the tragedy of Iran goes beyond the treason of the MEK, all the ‘Chelabis’, and the dangerous ambitions of Reza Pahlavi; she is equally abandoned by Iranian-Americans. While the Iranians take pride in their history, they shun away from defending her from the imminent danger she is in, or contributing to the future in a meaningful way. The movie ‘300’ caused an uproar among the Iranians -- rightly so. The affront caused by this movie, a movie that insulted the history of Iran of 2000 years ago, united Iranian-Americans and caused them to take action. Yet they are insensitive to the threat of war, death of millions of fellow Iranians, and destruction of their country.
If Iran is attacked under false pretense, all those who defend her history have no reason to celebrate their heritage. Making a movie is easy, maintaining a legacy - that takes character, national character. Comment
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich has lived and studied in Iran, the UK, France, and the US. She obtained her Bachelors Degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. She is currently pursuing her education in Middle East studies and Public Diplomacy. Soraya has done extensive research on US foreign policy towards Iran and Iran’s nuclear program.
Nader Bagherzadeh, is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine. He has been following Iran’s nuclear issues, and given talks and written articles on that subject.

Reza Pahlavi - a Repost from Iranian.com 2006

Blind ambition
Reza Pahlavi is so eager to have a place in history and in Persia that he pleads with warmongers to make the innocent Iranian people suffer

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
December 6, 2006
In response to Reza Pahlavi's "Talking to Iran":
Mr. Pahlavi,
Perhaps the only merit I see in your letter is the fact that you have found yourself a better  writer; your letter reflects improved articulation and clarity of style, something lacking in your previous addresses.  However, the message you convey remains the same: ambition and betrayal.
You write “I have repeatedly opposed any form of military action against  my country as unjust and counterproductive”.  I assume you mean Iran?  In which case, you either have a short memory, or you delibertately lie hoping that the rest of us have a short memory.   After the 9/11 terrorist attacks when the Unites States was bombing Afghanistan in retaliation for the tragedy that had befallen it, you had this to say:
“[T]errorism is like an octopus whose weakness is the eyes –in Tehran.  [I]f the U.S. wants to kill this octopus, it should start in Tehran.”
You must have been very disappointed when the US chose to invade Iraq instead of Iran; the Peacock throne must have seemed just a bomb away to you at that time.  But you must have also read that Patrick Clawson and other like minded people thought that the road to Iran was through Baghdad.  Perhaps now that your chances seem so close, you are threatened by the competition, above all, the MEK.    
You speak of ‘self-preservation’ - this is something that you should be familiar with.  After all, it is no secret that you received C.I.A. funding for a number of years until the Iran-Contra scandal put an end to it.  This is the same CIA who trained  your father’s SAVAK on  how to torture Iranians --  the same Iranians you feign to have compassion for – and who held your strings once you acceded to become their kept boy.
Of late, their rendition practices around the world with at least 600 flights through Europe to torture destinations have come to light.  You, Mr. Pahlavi, have been on their pay roll, ready for the string to be pulled, just like your father who was a master torturer. Do you really think that you are in a position to speak compassionately of  “prisoners of conscience” in Iran and “dissidents who were murdered in their homes or forced to flee”?
As for Mr. Bush’s promise of promoting democracy in Iraq – it was never his intention to promote democracy.  If you recall, he lied to the American people.  The reason for invading sovereign Iraq was the threat of WMD and the link to al-Qaeda;  something that YOU tried to convince the Americans to do after 9/11 by categorically stating that Iran is the master of all terrorism. 
If your words were a true reflection of your concern for Iranians, you would encourage dialogue, the only alternative to sanctions and military action.  But you are so blinded by ambition, so eager to have a place in history and in Persia that you plead with warmongers to make the innocent Iranian people suffer.
You write: “George W Bush has repeatedly pledged to support Iranians in their struggle for freedom and democracy.”  It should come as no surprise that a man whose father’s reign was imposed by a CIA coup should now grovel to a warmonger to ‘bring democracy and freedom’ to Iran.  What an irony that your father held his coronation at Persepolis – the hypocrisy of it.  Mr. Pahlavi, Iranians can gain their own freedom and democracy once they weed out traitors within them and enemies without.
All the Iranians in exile and indeed those within her boarders who fight for Iran’s integrity, do so not because their ideology is compatible with the regime’s (although indeed some may be), but because they are patriots.  You on the other hand, are keener on your self preservation, and you have realized that by stroking Israeli’s interest, you may find your way back to Tehran.  While you are surrounded by a few loyal well-wishers, I must remind you that Iran’s population is 70 million.   On average, they are far more educated than you are.  After all the hardship they have been through, do you really think they will accept someone who has sold them out? Comment
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich
Salt Lake City - Utah

Friday, December 22, 2017

UNGA Jerusalem Vote

Brief interview with Tasnim News on December 21 on the UNGA vote.

UNGA Jerusalem Vote

Q#1 : More than 100 countries defied President Donald Trump on Thursday and voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for the United States to withdraw its decision to recognize Jerusalem (al-Quds) as Israel’s capital. What’s your take on this?
The vote is a political success for the Palestinians, and as importantly, for the rule of rule of law.   It was clear that a majority number of countries would support the UNGA Resolution rejecting Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem (al-Quds) as Israel’s capital. The United Nations considers East Jerusalem to be occupied Palestinian territory.   Aside from threats by the Trump administration, prior to the UNGA vote Trump officials stated that they could not envision any situation under which the Western Wall would not be part of Israel.
The Western Wall (or the Wailing Wall) is situated in occupied East Jerusalem.  Since 1967, the majority of nations and organization refused to recognize Israel’s ‘ownership’ of East Jerusalem.   This is why the UNGA vote was also a vote for international law.
Q #2: Trump had threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that voted in favor. His warning did appear to have some impact with nine countries voting against the resolution and 35 abstaining. A total of 128 countries voted for the resolution. In your opinion, which courtiers abstained from the vote?  What’s your take about Trump’s threats?
I personally believe that the world owes Trump a great deal of gratitude for openly revealing what the US had been doing for decades in secret.  For example, in 2005, Newt Gingrich spoke at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a pro-Israeli think tank that heavily influenced George W. Bush decisions (When George W. Bush visited and spoke at AEI on 15 February 2007, he stated: “I admire AEI a lot – I’m sure you know that. After  all, I have been consistently borrowing some of your best people. More than 20 AEI scholars have worked in my administration.”
In his 2005 AEI speech, Gingrich discussedAN EXAMPLE OF A U.N. REFORM SCORECARD” ways in which the US should influence votes at the UNGA.  Saying that “Israel is a country that manifests the values that the U.N. should defend and embrace, not condemn.”  Gingrich then stated clearly ““A key first test for a concerted effort by the U.S. to win U.N. votes should be an upcoming vote in the [GA Assembly] concerning the abolishment of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and of the Division of Palestinian Rights.”  “This should be not just a matter of high importance of U.S. Ambassadors around the world, but also of every member of Congress, who can play an influential role with foreign Ambassadors assigned to Washington or with high-ranking foreign government officials whom they know. Members of Congress should take every opportunity to relay the message to these foreign representatives that we are paying attention to their vote, that their vote matters, and that we will remember how they vote.”   He further suggested that the United States should promote the ‘naming of names’.
So the bullying and threats is not new.  What is refreshing new is the fact that Trump has brought it out in the open.   And became very transparent with this recent UNGA vote is who was actually bought, including those who abstained.  Those who abstained in fact refused to rule out violation of international law.  In other words, their actions indicate that when it comes to international law, they support money and power.  
It is therefore vital that these countries go get called out.  That we should “name names”, especially since some of these countries have hypocritically called out states for ‘violation of international law’.  
The votes against and those countries that abstained are an unpleasant reminder of George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” – 46 countries that contributed to the illegal invasion of Iraq, although most of these countries’ contribution was in name only – as with the UNGA vote.  The 7 countries that voted against (plus Israel and the United States) are virtually insignificant, poor countries with little bearing on the international stage.   Of the 35 abstentions , Those that abstained, only a few have political leverage, but they must all be named.
These countries are: Antigua-Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovinian, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic,  Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Haiti, Hungary, Jamaica, Kiribati, Latvia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Trinidad-Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Vanuatu.    They should all be shamed.

Q #3: What might the future hold about the situation in the occupied territories?

To some extent, Trump’s threats pushed many countries to vote in favor of Palestine and international law if for naught else but to save face.  But although many countries did vote against Trump’s decision, they will continue to do business with Israeli entities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.   My only hope is that the world will finally open its eyes to the real threat that faces them. As humans we are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain.   If we allow people and countries to be destroyed without an attempt to but a stop it, then truly we set ourselves up for being the next victim. 

Additionally, Israel only thrives when it plays the victim card.  The world has been forced to recognize Israel and the United States as aggressors. I have little doubt that we will witness false flags and every effort will be made to provoke the Palestinians in order to portray them as violent and Israel as ‘innocent victims’.