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    US and Cuban flags are seen on the balcony of a restaurant in downtown Havana, Cuba March 19, 2016.

    US Expels Cuban Diplomats Over 'Sonic Attack’ to Intentionally Escalate Tensions

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    Experts explain that the US government’s decision to expel Cuban diplomats from the United States in retaliation for alleged "sonic attacks" on US personnel in Havana is a ploy designed to revive the discredited embargo policies of the Cold War era.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The US government’s decision to expel Cuban diplomats from the United States in retaliation for alleged "sonic attacks" on US personnel in Havana is nothing more than a ploy designed to revive the discredited embargo policies of the Cold War era, analysts told Sputnik.

    The US State Department said on Tuesday that it had decided to send home 15 Cuban diplomats, noting that the diplomats have been given seven days to leave the United States. All US nonessential diplomats in Cuba are likely to leave Havana by the end of the week following a string of sonic attacks, a senior State Department official told reporters on Tuesday.

    The Cuban Foreign Ministry released a statement later on Tuesday that said the United States failed to respond to Cuba's repeated requests for evidence that it believed would help its investigators move forward with a probe into alleged attacks.

    PRETEXT TO UNDERMINE TIES

    Jose Pertierra, a Washington-based attorney and Cuban–American told Sputnik the alleged sonic attacks had been used as the excuse to expel the diplomats in order to set off a cycle of destroying the fabric of US- Cuban diplomatic relations created under previous President Barack Obama.

    "This is nothing more than a pretext for returning to the outdated policies of the Cold War against Cuba," he said. "The so-called ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba are a red herring."

    Pertierra noted that hard evidence for the alleged attacks had not yet been released to the American public which was left dependent on hearsay accusations.

    "It is quite significant that the US [government] has not made available for interviews any of the diplomats or undercover intelligence agents who were allegedly ‘attacked’ and are neither deaf, nor have some other medical affliction," he pointed out.

    Also, no doctors or other medical experts had been allowed to confirm the allegations to the US media or public, Pertierra observed.

    "None of the physicians who allegedly examined them have been available to the press," he said.

    The sonic attacks were a convenient pretext for President Trump to begin to dismantle the course of normalization of relations between the two countries that the Obama administration set in motion, Pertierra explained.

    "By issuing a travel warning to Americans, the Trump administration seeks to impose a chill on travel to the island. By suspending the issuance of visas to Cubans on the island, Washington seeks to provoke discontent on the island," he said.

    The international press should insist that the diplomats and undercover intelligence operatives allegedly injured be made available for questions, Pertierra recommended.

    PUNISHING CUBA

    American University Professor of Government William LeoGrande told Sputnik that Trump appeared to reverse Obama’s outreach to Cuba and dismantle the new web of ties that had begun to emerge.

    "The expulsion of Cuban diplomats represents a serious setback to bilateral relations and is, in my opinion, part of the Trump administration’s effort to dismantle Obama’s policy of engagement," he said. "The nominal reason behind the expulsion is because US diplomats are being withdrawn, but it is an action that does not serve US interests."

    Additionally, US diplomatic personnel will not be sent to Havana until the Cuban government provides guarantees for their safety and security, a State Department official told reporters on Tuesday.

    US-Cuban relations expert and Research Associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), R. O. Niederstrasser, told Sputnik it is obvious that the Trump administration has caved to pressures from the Cuban-American lobby.

    "After several investigations by U.S. officials, they haven’t found any proof Cuba had anything to do with the alleged ‘sonic attacks,’" Niederstrasser said. "Still, this incident has been used to punish Cuba. Limiting the traffic of travelers is going to be only the first step of trying to strangle the Cuban economy since tourism is a vital part of their economy. The relationship is regressing to pre-Obama years and it’s not because of Cuba."

    The decision to expel Cuban personnel from the embassy in Washington will immediately impact regular Cubans residing in the United States trying to visit their family members on the island, and Cubans wanting to immigrate to the United States from the island, Niederstrasser added.

    In terms of the bilateral talks, the Cuban government has been trying to continue the normalization process started by the Obama administration, he explained.

    The Cuban government has been transparent throughout the entire investigation and even allowed US officials to enter the island, a very unusual step, the analyst concluded.

    Related:

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    Cuba Found No Evidence or Origin of Any Sonic Weapon Injuring US Diplomats
    US Asks Cuba Help to Probe Attacks on Diplomats With Mystery Audio Weapon
    Panamanian President: US Should Keep Embassy in Cuba Open
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